Category Archives: @jsetlak

Bieber Fever

He came and went as he pleased, jumping in and out of our lives. But who was this masked man?

We were all starting to feel nervous, because he’d pop up in the strangest moments. He seemed to be able to read our minds.

He was always around during birthdays and July 4th. Other events were unpredictable, yet it was always considered good luck.

His dress was unremarkable. Though he had appeared at so many celebrations, no one could ever remember what he wore.

This man, he went by the name…

… Reaper. Justin Reaper. He was the prettiest picture of death the world would know in modern times.

He was no man at all, but a manifestation of all four horsemen of the apocalypse: Social Media, Pop Music, Teen Crushes.

But the irony was with Justin Reaper, he hated death, to kill, to extinguish life. But that’s his job and it was killing him.

… and Teen Parents Living Vicariously Through Their Children. His presence meant the end times were upon us. And then the snow…

The snow led him to contemplate the lives he’d ruined, each like a single flake falling to the ground and melting into oblivion.

It was a time of reflection, of looking inward, and Justin Reaper hated what he saw. “I hate what I see,” he said to his friend…

…Jayden Blue Ivy Cent, the muse of teeny-bopper pop music.

“So change,” said Cent. “I can never change,” retorted Reaper. “You’re always saying ‘Never say never,'” said Cent. He had a point.

“Why do you say that, by the way?” asked Cent. “It’s the most oxymoronic phrase ever.”

Reaper shrugged. “Someone told me to.” With that mindset, no way he’d change. Jayden Blue Ivy Cent needed to stage an intervention.

Cent wracked his brain for an intervention specialist. He flipped on MTV and found… @DrDrew.

And he needed to gather all of Reaper’s friends. Which was no small task considering his mere presence meant imminent death.

Maybe it would be wiser to pick the friends already passed on. Cent called Tupac, Biggie and, for another point of view, Andy Gibb.

The intrepid trio suggested calling upon 140-year-old Dick Clark to help them on their quest – find the greatest song about death.

And then the first faint notes of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper broke the intrepid silence.

Reaper sensing what was going on, gestured crudely, yelling “haven’t I given you all more than enough damn cowbell?!”

“Sometimes a guy just needs a hug, a happy song and a nice cheese platter to share with his friends.”

Music hath charms to calm the savage beast. Reaper’s was infused with the peal of cowbell. A small, fatalistic smile lit his face.

And with great glee the Reaper shrieked, “No more cowbell!” It was the day the cowbell died.

And there was much rejoicing. But there was still the matter of Reaper’s job satisfaction–or lack thereof.

“You know there’s a gig bagging groceries open at the Piggly Wiggly?” Andy Gibb offered.

Cent stifled a giggle at the name. Piggly Wiggly. But Reaper’s eyebrows raised. “Tell me more, Andy,” he said.

Andy gazed past Justin Reaper, past Jayden Blue Ivy Cent, past Biggie & Tupac, even past Dick Clark. “The Pig,” he whispered,” is…

…ON TWITTER! Reaper paused, envisioning a nest full of rabid followers, favoriting and retweeting his (or The Pig’s) every word.

“Screw bagging groceries,” Reaper declared. “I can reign down death on shoppers everywhere via social media!” His grin widened.

Somewhere in Silicon Alley, a self-proclaimed social media guru scrolled through his Twitter feed…

He read the notification out loud, “Piggly Wiggly followed you”…

“I think I’m gonna like Twitter,” Reaper hissed, slyly drumming his fingers on his desk.

Justin Reaper handed his scythe to Tupac. “No need for this anymore. All I need is a smartphone and unlimited data.”

“Like I care. I’m already dead,” Tupac answered, dropping the scythe. But Jayden Blue Ivy Cent shuddered at what he’d enabled.

Just when all appeared lost, Andy Gibb piped in, “It’s cool, man! @ATT no longer offers unlimited data! Shadow dancing…yeah…”

Startled, Justin Bieber woke up sweating. His mom was bedside. “You’re okay, Justin,” she said. “You just have a fever.”

THE END

 

Interesting story. Not sure how I feel about contributing to Bieber Fever, so I guess the fact that he was actually responsible for killing people in this story makes it a little more tolerable. We should have had him kill himself. And his music. Then we’d all be happier. Well, except for the group Teen Parents Living Vicariously Through Their Children. They’re a force to be reckoned with. Okay, so this story went all over the place, but I was completely fine with it. I had already come up with how everything would end this afternoon, so I was just letting it go. Until it stalled. Then, BAM – Bieber fever. Get it?

Thanks to @kschaffs for supplying the photo. It definitely got people writing. And also, glad to have you involved. Hope next time you write too.

Thanks to all the writers – @nella22, who’s good for supplying the second line to a story about 89.7% of the time, @Robotstephe, whose sense of humor fits well with mine, @ShesAllWrite and @Chrisa_Hickey, who were having a personal back and forth toward the end, gabesphone_com, who was a first-time contributor and added a hilarious line right in the middle of @jsetlak’s patented triple-tweet that had me stuck on how to make it all make sense, @jsetlak, who triple-tweeted, @MusicAdamT and @MojoEnvy, who helped me kick Twitter and get it to work when their tweets weren’t showing up, and my old co-workers @TonyPawela and @elderberryjam, who humored me and wrote because I asked them to help out. Fun.

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow

“The pot of gold must be on top of that red brick building,” she thought. And the hunt was on.

“But how can I get there before Maggie,” she whined, “when she’s a giant and I’m so small?”

Not to be deterred, she grabbed her Ziploc® of loose change, and headed out the door. Cab would be the best way to get there.

“A cab, a cab, who called a cab?” Up pulled Mike the psychic cab driver.

“I did,” Margie said. “Take me to -” “I know where – and we’re racing against Maggie!” Exclaimed Mike as he sped off.

Maggie though had decided public transportation was the way to go and was stuck behind a stroller pushing mother.

The streets were full of vendors, stray dogs and, a camel. All of this was slowing the cab down. Margie was losing time.

Maggie was having problems of her own on the magenta line. Babies were everywhere!

Margie jumped from the cab and lept onto the camel in one swift movement.

However, at a point later in the story, Margie will realize that she left her Ziploc® bag in the cab. This does not bode well…

Since in addition to nickels and dimes the bag contained a gps tracker she had planted on Maggie.

While Margie was camel-leaping, Maggie was having troubles of her own. $4.46 for a medium latte? This city is getting ridiculous.

Margie drove ever-forward in the camel, nestled lovingly between the two humps. Inching closer to the red building.

Meanwhile, the pot of gold was shrinking because

of the hole in the pot, which Lloyd the Leprechaun bought second hand at a garage sale.

“You get what you pay for,” Larry muttered to himself. Not realizing…

…that he referred to himself as Larry instead of Lloyd, it became apparent to others that Lloyd might have a split personality.

Larry-Lloyd spoke those words to himself, but Maggie thought he was speaking to her. Finally, a bright spot in her day.

Meanwhile the camel, who’s name was Manfred, started running toward an oasis filled with rice milk.

Meanwhile, across town…

The real story was unfolding: Leprechauns in Lakeview. Not just there for drinks at Berlin, but apparently hiding gold on rooftops.

Neighborhood gossip placed at least one leprechaun working in the back at Cheesie’s Pub & Grub – specializing in potatoes.

Of course, the inevitable drunk Irish jokes are bound to come out when they hide gold so close to 1000 Liquors.

One leprechaun noticed Margie and her camel at the rice-milk oasis. “How much for the camel?” he asked.

“Not for sale,” said Margie. “No, I mean the one behind your ear,” he replied. “I could use a cigarette.” Margie loved her Camels.

Maggie trudged forward in her Converse® All-Stars. She never played basketball, but loved the green plaid design.

She got to the rooftop but the pot of gold was gone. Margie was already off in Mexico enjoying her riches. And cigarettes.

THE END

 

Anytime Leprechauns, booze, cigarettes and gold are involved, it’s impossible not to have a good time. This week’s story was all about greed, and Margie managed to outfox her sister Maggie. Poor Maggie. Maybe she could go get a drink with Lloyd-Larry at Berlin. Or they could just go get a handle of some Irish whiskey at 1000 Liquors and wallow in their sorrows.

The way these stories unfold always crack me up – stuff like when Lloyd the Leprechaun became Larry the Leprechaun and the use of the ®. I’m grateful for everyone who writes these stories with me. Collaborating on this one were @Robotstephe, @Chrisa_Hickey, @swanieson, @paulmtracy, @FeliciaCago, @Guert, @jsetlak and @officerpupp. Thanks all.

 

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The Mythical Maudfish

“Whoaaaaaaa!” At the last moment, she leaned to the side, holding on for dear life.

She’d been riding this ship for the past 15 hours and her legs were getting tired…But she NEEDED to hold on to the

magic potion that would return her to her normal self. Now she needed to find a safe place to

hide the potion from Lord Stickywic, who needs the potion to cure his own ailment

of sticky warts. Everything he touched stuck to him like glue, which was very frustrating because he worked at

Wal-Mart. And Wal-Mart sells everything.

The townsmen always thought it a little weird that a Lord worked at Wal-Mart. But Wal-Mart hires everyone, so they got used to it.

After all it beat when he worked at the currency exchange and they were never getting the right amount of money.

Maude began to clamber down to the raft she’d prepared. “Stickywic will never think to look in New Zealand,” she thought.

“In New Zealand I will hike the highest mountains to find the perfect place to hide from him & complete my own transformation.”

But what was Maude transforming into?

Slowly she realized her feet had started to develop a webbed appearance.

If only she’d had webbed feet *before* rafting to New Zealand. Would’ve made the trip easier. The hiking, not so much.

She expected more of a spiritual transformation. This physiological change was making Maude nervous.

She pouted her lips as she thought this, inadvertently making that “duck face” so many girls make in pics on social network sites.

Maude began to notice her legs coming close together, and hair getting longer. Was she turning into a mermaid?

Maude rushed to dive off the peak of the mountain into the water below. Perhaps she

could avoid turning the catfish that was her destiny from birth.

She dove. As she fell through the air, she noticed Sir Mortimer Reginald IX in his combustible airship headed toward her.

Sir Mortimer was a part of a crew of combustible airship pilots who routinely searched for divers throughout New Zealand.

Tales of Maudes turning into catfish had circulated amongst the pilots for centuries, becoming long-lost lore of drinking ballads.

“A Maude into a Catfish, a Maude into a Catfish, a Maude into a Catfish,” they’d sing cheerily, glugging from their steins.

Never did Mortimer imagine that he’d be the one chosen to catch the mythical Maudfish.

And now here he was, almost face to face with the Maudfish. He pulled the throttle, knowing this was an opportunity of a lifetime.

An opportunity that was coming to a screeching halt because he forgot to gas up before leaving.

His combustible airship began sputtering. “Uh oh,” Sir Mortimer lamented.

He was going down.

Maudfish had other plans though. Seeing Mortimer’s boat going down

and where was Lord Stickywic? The potion is almost done for & he gets called in for the closing shift at WalMart!

It was too late. Mortimer’s plane crashed before Maudfish could get to him. And Lord Stickywic never got the potion.

THE END

Ahhh, the mythical Maudfish. Never before seen. Until finally, Mortimer gets his eyes on it. But of course, the old “he’s out of gas” storyline had to rear its ugly head. And Mortimer crashed. Poor guy. I bet the rest of the airship pilots are singing ballads in his honor.

Thanks @brianpinkley for supplying the photo. It’s pretty hilarious. And has nothing to do with the story.

And thanks to @nella22 @brianpinkley @lesliestaysup @melmo3 @swanieson @officerpupp @jsetlak and @Pawela04 for writing again with me. Special shout-out to @mscileppi, a new writer! Yeah, Maria! Hope you enjoyed it. So glad you jumped in.

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Feeding Frenzy

He snapped the last button, secured the final strap. The moment he had been practicing for was here.

Peeling himself off the wall was the only hard part about being a spokes banana.

The rest of the job “appeeled” to him so much! The money, the screaming fans, and, most especially, all the fruit he could eat.

He scarfed one more piece of fruit. He was ready. As his entrance music began playing, the crowd started chanting his name.

“Apple! Apple!”

The audience was filled with kids and grownups alike. They had traveled all the way from Southern French Guiana to see Apple.

This was his most important gig yet; his first since signing with Louis Vuitton.

He grabbed the microphone. It smelled like

an exhaust pipe. This instantly reminded him of his uncle Tuck, all those years ago, of that afternoon in the woods.

Apple’s lip quivered at the memory. Uncle Tuck versus a female Grizzly. It hadn’t been a fair fight.

As soon as Uncle Tuck had saw the bear he ran so fast all that could be found of his was a banana peel

And his car’s exhaust pipe. They never did find Tuck. And now Apple couldn’t get the thought of his uncle out of his head.

But still, he had to keep going. He started speaking into the mic. “Are you

ready for dinner, buds?” Apple was the newest zookeeper in the San Diego zoo’s monkey forest. And LV was their new sponsor.

Better monkeys than bears: Tuck was mauled to death during the ’08 recession as the Bear Stearns-sponsored bear (in a bear market).

Apple got along great with primates. All animals, really. His problem was people, especially…

The guy from Chaquita that kept calling to try and sponsor

a new branch of the company that is well known for their bananas.

But he pushed those thoughts aside. “I’m a professional, Dammit.” The light momentarily blinded him, and his throat itched.

Apple clucked his throat to alleviate the itchiness. The monkeys, though, thought it was a mating call.

The lights dimmed, soft carnival music began to play and the room took on the familiar odor of Vaseline and whipped cream.

LV was testing a new fabric, of which Apple’s costume was constructed. Fashioned into a human-sized banana, it was about to

undergo a stress test like no other. The monkeys were hungry. About to tear Apple the human banana to delicious pieces.

LV began by making trunks and travel bags. Was Apple unwittingly wearing what would become his own body bag, or would it hold up?

But before a claw was laid on him, the ghost of Louis Vuitton’s mustache appeared and issued a stern warning.

“Ne pas faire l’amour avec ma banane!”

But the monkeys kept getting closer, ignoring the ghost’s warning. Apple needed to get out of his suit. Fast.

If only he could find the zipper in the blasted suit.

He got to the zipper just before he was taken into the monkeys’ clutches, escaping. The monkeys were left holding a flat banana.

Though he was out of the banana suit he was left with only his

coordinating yellow, LV boxer shorts,

The ones he had been meaning to replace since they had a large

portion missing on the backside due to Apple being a flat banana.

Fortunately, Apple’s endorsement deal included getting a Louis Vuitton logo tattoo back there, so no one was the wiser.

In fact, the display was a great success, winning Apple a coveted VP of Marketing position.

“Congratulations, Apple,” said his boss, Orange. “You showed you could handle the pressure of monkeys during mating season.”

“Now lets see how you handle a friendly round of competitive karaoke.”

They headed to the bar, where Apple wasted no time picked out his favorite jam – “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees.

Apple and Orange spent the rest of the night battling on the karaoke stage. Anything to get Apple’s mind off of Uncle Tuck.

THE END

 

This one left me wondering a lot of things. We had Apple, the guy dressed in a banana suit, who went from feeding the monkeys at a zoo to becoming the VP of Marketing. Where though? The soo? Louis Vuitton? I will say this – how could you NOT feel for him after what happened to his Uncle Tuck? Wait..what happened to his Uncle Tuck??? So many unanswered questions.

Thanks to @natapava for supplying the photo. She’s a newb, or noob, so we’ll take involvement any way we can get it. And thanks to @swanieson, @courtcan, @Guert, @paulmtracy, @officerpupp, @jimmydoestea, @Pawela04 and @jsetlak for writing today. Special shout-out to @ChrisDavisCW who’s also a noob and added a pretty funny line, as well as @Robotstephe, who saw my karaoke skills firsthand and STILL decided to jump in on a story. I must not have sucked as bad as it sounded to me like I did.

 

 

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God Almighty

It descended upon the city, slowly swirling in, high above even the tallest buildings. But what was it?

Marcel looked up and noticed that these clouds were different then the ones he’d been studying. These clouds…weren’t clouds…

It was smoke. Taking another drag on a gigantic cigar, Zeus furrowed his brow at the city.

And then he blew.

But nothing came out but a small gust of air.

Having smoked cigars for many years Zeus’ lungs weren’t all they were in his younger years.

Zeus re-dragged and re-blew with success. The tallest towers disappeared and Marcel knew that he was to blame because

he dared Zeus the night before to explain the weight of smoke. Zeus employed a method learned from Sir Walter Raleigh long ago…

Sir Walter Raleigh – whose exaggerations were legendary – once told Queen Elizabeth I that he could determine the weight of smoke.

Weigh cigar. Smoke cigar, ashing onto scale. Weigh ashes. Difference between weight of cigar and ashes = weight of smoke.

Why a mortal like Marcel was daring Zeus to do anything was a mystery. Marcel forgot that Zeus had a sick sense of humor.

Had Marcel remembered the story of Leda and the Swan, he’d know not to give Zeus any excuse to interact with mortals directly.

But it was too late. The sky was now “thundering,” but Marcel knew better. It was Zeus, with his deep, bellowing, smoker’s laugh.

Zeus had called his bluff, clearly proving his cosmic superiority. Marcel, undeterred, shouted up to the clouds. “I’m not…

“…deterred!!!”

Zeus was clearly willing to do anything, but Marcel was a man of his word. He paced back and forth, thinking of what to do next.

Eventually he decided to call the fire department. “I need the biggest ladder you’ve got,” he said.

Not the type that took kindly to loaning out equipment, the Chief politely told him to eff off. But Marcel, undeterred as usual,…

Pulled out the yellow pages and looked up

“Ladderrific! For ladders to Zeus.” He dialed the number and heard a recording on the other end say: “You…

doofus. The only way to reach Zeus is via the Unending Escalator, located in…

the 7th stall in the 4th floor ladies washroom of the Marshall Field building. Thank you for your inquiry.” Marcel was elated.

But the elation quickly died down, replaced with skepticism. “God, that recorded voice sounded familiar,” he said aloud.

that swan. “There were so many things I didn’t know about her,” Marcel said before making his way to the Unending Escalator.

A mythology professor from the University of Chicago,

his children, all eight of them, all boys, except one, one girl, one little girl who was the key to this big plan

stood on the sidewalk, watching. “Hey you,” Marcel shouted to the U of Chicago professor. “Can you and your daughter come with me?”

“Either we all come or none of us do,” said the professor. Marcel had no choice. “To the Unending Escalator!” he yelled.

Off they marched to Marshall Field’s, Marcel leading the way. Briefly, a group of tourists followed, thinking it was a guided walk.

In time these tourists fell back, captured by the alleged allure of the American Girl store. At State St., the group realized…

they needed a suitable tribute for Zeus. “A virgin? Gold?” asked the professor. “No,” said Marcel. “Zeus has that. We need…”

They had been walking the wrong way for 20 minutes. Marcel thought, “Is the unending escalator even worth it?”

But he trudged on. “We need…,” he stammered. “We need…we need…What exactly do we need again?”

“The list is clear!” screamed the professor. “We need a Ginger, 7 daisies, and a Hellenologophobic. Zeus loves irony.”

The little girl held on to a plush Alf doll, which Marcel grabbed. “This orange mess of ginger hair works. Surely Zeus has no Alf.”

They then passed a Sbarro, spotting Daisies Fuentes, Duke, Irani, De La Hoya, Foote, Duck and Ms. Daisy having their weekly lunch.

“Our seven daisies!” screamed Marcel as he stopped the group in their tracks. “Someone get them!”

The Daisies jumped up and tried to run for the door. In the commotion, they forgot the exit was a pull door. 7 Daisies, check.

“Ay dios mio,” yelled Fuentes, “my triple cheese slice fell on the floor!” Duke, meanwhile was hollering for her cousins Luke & Bo.

The last thing they needed was a Hellenologophobic. “Be on the lookout for a Hellenologophobic, everyone,” asked Marcel.

“What IS that?” asked the girl. “It’s someone who’s afraid of logos with Hellen in it,” said Marcel. “Duh.”

Marcel thought, “distractions.” All of the sudden the sky changed & it was a massive haboob.

He was mistaken. “Actually, it’s someone afraid of Greek terms,” the professor chimed in. “So like a Roman?” asked his daughter.

A roman or things like aeropostle or anthropology.

As they got to Marshall Field’s, a prison bus drove by. “Look!” screamed the girl, pointed frantically. “It’s Roman Polanski!”

“That’ll do,” said Marcel. “Stop that bus!!” Ms. Daisy, trailing a little behind the rest of the group, jumped in front of the bus.

The haboob was gaining strength & Marcel was the only one who showed concerned.

Thankfully the bus stopped as there is nothing worse than a smushed Daisy! Out stepped the elusive Roman

as the professor guarded his kids. “Stay away!” But Marcel needed a Hellenologophobic, aka a Roman, so Polanski fit the bill.

“Come with us Mr Polanski and all will be well,” said Marcel.

The haboob kept building as Marcel tried to get the ginger, the 7 Daisies & Roman the Hellenologophobic to the Unending Escalator.

Oddly enough the escalator had moved to just inside the door so no one was able to escape its clutches.

First up was Roman, then Alf, a few Daisy’s the professor and the kids.

Then the rest of the Daisies, and bringing up the rear was Marcel.

Ms. Daisy was confused. “Where are we going sir?” she asked Marcel. But Marcel didn’t answer. He kept shoving her up the escalator.

When they reached the top waiting for them was

Zeus. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he said. He exhaled deeply, parting the haboob. “These are for you,” said Marcel, sheepishly.

It was as Robert Plant imagined. A Stairway to Heaven. But to what end? A bunch of flowers in a dust storm hardly seemed worth it.

Zeus looked around. “Ginger, check. 7 Daisies, check. And Roman Polanski??” he asked as he put the Stairway to Heaven record on.

“Damn right,” said Polanski in between Plant’s chorus. Marcel tried to shut him up so he could explain Polanski’s relevance.

“He’s our Hellenologophobic,” explained Marcel. “You know, because he’s ‘a Roman’?” He used air quotes for emphasis.

Suddenly they all started singing along to the song.

“…And she’s buying a stairway to heaven,” Zeus, Marcel, the professor, his 8 kids, Alf, the 7 Daisies and Roman Polanski crooned.

And off into the mist they all went.

THE END

 

Ha! That was an amazing story. It was so funny. One of the better ones we’ve written, and we’ve written some pretty good ones. I’m really happy for Marcel – he made Zeus happy. And let’s face it, if you’re given the option of making Zeus happy or making Zeus upset, you probably want to go with making him happy. So good for him. And good for the 7 Daisies. I’m kind of jealous of them getting to go to Sbarro’s for weekly lunch. But the person I’m definitely NOT jealous of? Roman Polanski. He served a purpose.

 

Thanks to myself for supplying the photo. Just kidding. Kind of. And thanks to all of the writers. You guys really brought it. @nella22, who almost always is one of the first ones to jump in and always makes me laugh. @officerpupp, who’s a newb but acted nothing like one. @FeliciaCago, who tried as hard as she could to end the story after 4 lines, but we wouldn’t let her. @swanieson, who stuck with me all the way to the end to wrap things up. @jsetlak, owner of the triple-tweet, who this time came through with the quintuple tweet. @hwtibbs, whose obscure references has me googling stuff all the time. @Chrisa_Hickey, who’s great at cutting right to things. @_Benny_K, who’s getting more involved each week, which is awesome. @jimmydoestea, who can tweet all pronouns and I’ll still laugh. @vnarvasa, who scolded me for not giving her a heads up that I was writing a story. And last but not least, @rickmurray, who snuck a line in right at the end that led us to a different story ending.

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Doin’ Time

“Man, those look so good,” he thought. Anything would. He hadn’t eaten in days.

4 days exactly, since arriving in prison. Chaz didn’t mind being called Mr. Fluffles, but the pebbles they offered him to eat

were not of the fruity kind like he was expecting but instead were of the garden variety and laced with some sort of foul tasting

butter. Chaz loved butter. But butter didnt go with pebbles. Butter went with toast. He’d do anything for buttered toast. Anything.

Up to and including pouncing on an unsuspecting Dougie the bread delivery man who lives next door.

Chaz still couldn’t believe that mousy lawyer of his couldn’t beat the rap. Guess he should have stuck with the rat,

Feral, they said! Really? “How could I have possibly kept my mane this pristine if I was wild?! Unless they knew about

the membership he had to the Cat Beauty Club for Convicts.

CBCC included daily milk baths and all the mackerel he could eat. Great for the coat! And weekly hairball extraction.

Chaz paid dues for the membership in cigarettes. It’s what you do in prison. He had a guy on the outside who’d smuggle them in.

Though when you pay with candy cigarettes it takes a lot more of them.

Hence the poofy mane. Looks good & helps hide the stash of cigs. It’s a vicious cycle, really. One that Chaz was looking to break.

He’d tried 12 step programs to overcome his candy cigarette hiding addiction. If only there had been warnings on the packages.

So here he sits. Jonesin’ for that high only street candy can give. Those big yellow lollipops out the window calling his name.

If only he never hid candy cigarettes in his fur. If only he didn’t join the CBCC. If only he never robbed that bank. If only.

After a while they turned from lollipops to resemble the heads of this siblings, whom he hadn’t seen since…

Since who can remember, with the candy jones clouding his feline brain. He was so hungry now, he could eat one of his siblings.

“Cats with the poofy mane are always up to something, but never taken seriously.” He thought to himself. I need to break out.

Suddenly Chaz had an idea that might shorten his sentence. Design packaging for those evil candy cigs w/pictures of decayed teeth.

He could also alter his identity with a haircut. “Hey Rico,” he yelled to the resident inmate barber. “You still got a 4:30 open?”

“Not if you want another permanent wave,” Rico yelled back.

“I need to look like someone else,” he thought. “No, no,” he replied to Rico “I’m thinking a mullet will do the trick.”

“Business in front, paaarrrty in the back,” cooed Rico. “Of course he digs that,” said a voice from solitary. “He’s a hairdresser.”

Behind the bars the face of Chaz’s favorite hellraiser Jack Murphy appeared, grinning in his familiar half-crazy way.

Jack Murphy though was the one that got Chaz into this whole conundrum in the first place.

If only he hadn’t raised his prices for mullets and got Chaz hooked on the imported milk bath.

“Hey Rico,” yelled Murphy. “You think I could borrow those scissors when you’re done?” Just then, Officer Friendly came by.

Friendly’s name was a misnomer, as he was anything but. It was rumored he’d killed a man during a cell search. Chaz was very…

…tall for a beagle. Don’t let those cute little ears fool you. He was no Snoopy. As he walked by, Chaz whispered….

“The cat flies at midnight.” Friendly smacked his billy club on the wall. “Shut it, you cat, or Beagle, or whatever you are.”

Friendly had trouble identifying criminal animals, aka crinimals. He was always confusing himself, a Beagle, with Chaz, the cat.

It’s why Friendly left the camaraderie of the police force for the isolation of the criminal system. The ridicule bruised his ego.

Chaz looked anxiously at the clock, pacing back and forth. “It’s 4:20, Rico” he yelled. “We’re still on for my 4:30, right?”

“Yes,yes, the mullet,” Rico answered. “But why do you need my scissors?”

“I don’t,” said Chaz, now with a mullet. “He does.” He pointed to Jack Murphy in solitary. “Ahhh,” said Rico. “That makes sense.”

But it didn’t make sense to Jack. He’d been told by Friendly to get them away from Rico. He just couldn’t figure out the reason.

He suspected it was because of the increasing number of inmates with mullets. In their uniforms, it was hard to tell them apart.

That explains how Dax escaped during the annual football game. He went long down the sideline & kept going, unnoticed into freedom.

And with this year’s game tomorrow, Chaz had similar plans. But he needed help. Someone on the inside to unlock the gates.

Lucky for Chaz he had a sympathtic fellow inmate that had been working on an escape plan and was willing to spring Chaz for the sum

of 22 candy cigarettes. But Chaz still needed help on the inside. If he could just talk to that quiet new guard Dempsey.

Dempsey had a thing for kitties (he always used that “p” word) and Chaz was sure his knowing Dempsey’s secret would sway him.

Dempsey’s quiet and unassuming demeanor was a facade to cover

the fact that he spent time in the joint when he was younger. He had sympathy for the inmates & was dying for one to approach him.

Chaz approached during lunch, putting up a front to seem tougher than he was. “Psst. Word is you got a soft spot for cats like me.”

He tried really hard not to laugh at his “cats” pun. He bit his lip & furrowed his brow, waiting to see how Dempsey would respond.

Dempsey growled back “scat cat” but slipped him a piece of paper.

It read: Doors open fur game at 11:30. Doors open fur u at 12:40. Chaz winked, then yelled,”I ain’t no scaredy cat.” Again, a front.

He was shaking in his non-existent boots and dropped the paper as he walked away.

Moments later, Warden Raton, making his daily rounds, happened upon the slip of paper.

Thankfully the warden was slightly dyslexic and read it as game is at 3:11 and the doors open fur you at 4:21.

The clock was approaching 12:30 and Chaz made his way to the outer lock.

He spotted Dempsey walking away from the doors, and he knew it was only minutes until his freedom. The clock struck 12:27.

Hearing the hum of the locking mechanism beginning to open, Chaz tightened his spine; ready to spring.

12:30. As Dempsey promised, the doors opened. Chaz sprang out to freedom, just as the inmates scored a touchdown on a flea flicker.

Chaz was running free, past the yellow flowers. The guards paid him no attention. They were in a dogfight on the football field.

And Dempsey was right behind…remember, he had a thing for kitties!

And so Chaz was able to safely run free to meet up with his long lost family.

And the two ran off until they became dots. Chaz after his family. Dempsey, the horndog, after Chaz.

THE END

Whew! That was a long one. (That’s what she said.) I’m really happy for Chaz. He deserved freedom. He deserved to break free from his candy cigarette hiding addiction. He deserved a new ‘do from Rico the prison hairdresser. Not so sure he deserved Dempsey, but hey, what can you do?

Thanks so much to you all for contributing to this story. Thanks @lilmissjen for the amazing photo, which I believe you snapped in a window in New York City. We had a new writer today – @Sean_Heffernan. Thanks for joining, and I hope you enjoyed. And thanks to all the veteran writers – @LundieP, @swanieson, @paulmtracy, @elderberryjam, @jsetlak, @ParkRidgeDDS, @courtcan, @adelamiz, @Sean_Heffernan, @Chrisa_Hickey and @hwtibbs. This one had deep character development, so an extra thanks to @swanieson and @paulmtracy for hanging in at the end and helping me finish.

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The Gnome Wars

The two friends crouched down slowly. Lamont peeked between the wood slats. “Do you see that?” he asked.

“Yes Lamont, I’m not blind” snapped Gordo. “And I can smell it. What do you think it is?”

Oblivious to Gordo’s tone, Lamont replied, “Well it smells like bacon, but it can’t be. Who has cooked bacon under a deck?”

The lawn gnomes had been plotting an ingenious bacon trap for Lamont and Gordo for some time now. They wanted vengeance on the canines.

Gordo: It’s cooking, but not bacon. I think that damned rabbit nibbled on the porch light wires once too much. Smell burnt fur?

The dogs were unaware that the gnomes dared the rabbit to bite all the way through the live wire. Just one part of a sinister plan.

“It smells like victory. Now I’ve got a craving for bacon flavored rabbit,” said Lamont.

The dogs were tragically unaware of the gnomes’ plot to teach a lesson: Never, ever piss off – or especially ON – a garden gnome.

For years, the gnomes have been pissed on. By birds. By meerkats. By donkeys. By llamas. And of course, by Lamont and Gordo.

One by one, meticulously, the gnomes got their revenge. The birds were tarred. The meerkats skinned. The llamas drugged.

The donkeys? Let’s just say those asses’ll never be heard from again. But Lamont & Gordo? They’re different cats. Cuz they’re dogs.

Bobbing side to side, the great gnome warrior, Metro Gnome, waited for the bait to draw in his unsuspecting prey.

Metro Gnome was ruthless, known to trip children for fun. Paranoid about a coup, he saw Gordo and Lamont as threats to his rule.

Metro lived a solitary life under a patch of mushrooms. He talked to himself by day and developed conspiracy theories by night.

These were the unfortunate effects of the mushrooms being of the Psilocybin variety.

Metro Gnome’s hallucinations often involved magical unicorns. Not surprising, given his brother Gastro’s My Little Pony collection.

There were rumors of a rebellion, but always in hushed tones. Metro once forced a cat to bark as punishment for purring loudly. He

was true definition of a crazed despot. Known to sit quietly for hours, he’d spring into action after wolfing down the mushrooms.

Conspiracy theories too often amplified by Metro’s cousin, Terror Gnome, who is sure someone or something is always out to get us.

“Neil Armstrong, Oscar winner,” Metro was fond of telling Gordo and Lamont. The dogs’ response? A simple leg raise & a lot of piss.

That’s why the Gnomes had beef with Lamont and Gordo. That and Lamont teasing Gastro about the Tourette’s he’s had since he was 6.

That was the last straw. Metro, Terror and Gastro Gnome had a plan. And it involved their other cousin Gee, an electric Gnome.

Shaken from his reverie, Metro saw a sudden movement reflected from the surface of his pinwheel made from the finest Gnomish steel.

It was the white haired fiend and he was approaching quickly!

“Quick!” yelled Metro. “Plug Gee into the socket!” Gordo was bearing down on them. Terror & Gastro got to the outlet just in time.

With 120 volts coursing through Gee Gnome, he began to replicate. Dozens then hundreds of gnome warriors began to appear.

As their ranks swelled, a battle cry went up. “Red Rover, Red Rover, these Dog Days are over!” Gastro twitched with anticipation.

Lamont led the charge, followed closely by Gordo. Poor Gordo was a step behind when it came to everything – sports, girls, school.

They got closer. Metro calmed the troops. “Steady! Steady!” But since their legs were really just painted on, they had no choice.

Lamont & Gordo leapt at the Gnomes. The Gnomes held their ground, as Gnomes do. Sparks flew in the air, as did some fur & plaster.

As the debris settles, Lamont is seen gnawing on fragments of a silver whirligig while Gordo bats about a small red cap.

Lamont & Gordo defeated Metro, Gastro, Terror & Gee Gnome in the Battle of Madison’s Yard. But the war may have just begun.

THE END

Ha! Dogs vs. Gnomes. Loved it. Especially the names – Gordo, Lamont, and the Gnome family (Metro, Gastro, Terror and Gee).

Thanks @MadisonZyluk for supplying the photo. Your dogs are pretty cute. And thanks to all the writers – @FeliciaCago @hwtibbs @jimmydoestea @jsetlak @paulmtracy @thatgirlmari. Special shout out to @Paulmtracy, who was writing with us for the first time. Hopefully I’ve got another addict.

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Unhappy Endings

“I can’t believe it’s come to this,” said Laura to her brothers. It’s a far cry from their Broadway days.

In the heat of the summer sun, her makeshift helmet was stifling. Even with her hair bobbed, she felt sweat beading on her brow.

But they were so desperate for work that they were willing to wear the new safety gear for Spiderman the Musical.

Keith, her oldest brother, wanted no part of her whining. “Just keep dancing,” he said. “No way we’re going back to father.”

Laura remembers those days and shudders. She was most afraid of Father and was the mastermind behind their escape.

They all feared him, her mother included. In the house he was omnipotent, laying down rules in all areas. He wasn’t to be crossed.

Laura & her brothers escaped one night by climbing out the window, carrying just their helmets, a few pairs of her shorts & tubing.

To make sure he didn’t catch them as they left, she’d crushed a sleeping pill into his nightly drink. It would give them more time.

And off they went to practice synchronised swimming in the ocean, not yet experienced enough to do it without helmets.

Their mom, however, mistook Father’s drink for her water & downed it before passing out on the floor. The kids couldn’t carry her.

And now, as they prepared for their routine, they missed their mother’s guidance. She was an expert synchronized swimmer.

What they didn’t know? That Father watched placed a GPS tracker inside Larry’s shorts. He knew exactly where they were at any time.

He’d planted the trackers when he found a bag Laura had packed stashed under her bed. He wasn’t about to let them leave him grasp.

Father went upstairs and began watching the tracker. They were at the beach. The dot started moving, meaning Larry was on the move.

Father put his rollerblades on & skated to the beach. But when he got there, all he found was a floating pair of women’s shorts.

He’d never told them that synchronized swimming is for pools, not oceans. Honestly, he thought they’d figure that out on their own.

Maybe the lead from the vintage diving gear stunted their intellectual development over the years. This is why he had to track ’em.

Upon closer inspection, the shorts weren’t women’s. They were Larry’s. The trail, as it were, stopped here. Now what?

Father was livid. Not only were his kids idiots, but now Larry was running around w/no shorts. How much longer until they all did?

Not much longer. In fact, the police were responding to a call about four unruly, pantless kids running through a McDonald’s.

From inside the McDonald’s Laura and the boys saw a familiar car crash into a telephone pole. Was it really the end?

They ran outside and gathered around the unmistakable car of their Father’s and next to him….their mother’s body lay lifeless.

They’d thought she had drowned! And now, not only was she dead for real…the monster that was their father was also gone.

THE END

Hmmm – so this one was one of the toughest stories we’ve written so far. It never really went anywhere, and I don’t know why. Maybe it was a bad day. Or maybe I should have gone Bulls themed, as @thatgirlmari suggested, given tonight’s game. Oh well. They can’t all be Pulitzers.

Thanks to @hwtibbs for supplying the photo. And thanks to @hwtibbs, @kikiandkyle, @nella22, @VikkiRossWrites, @jsetlak and @swanieson for writing, desperately trying to make something out of it. And welcome to @VikkiRossWrites, who contributed for the first time today. Hopefully not the last.

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Sister, Sister and the Mister

Paul was small. Not very tall. He had a date. She was late. So he fixed his hair & climbed in his chair.

His blue sweater had never looked better, but his shirt was showing all the dirt.

Aurora was running late, something she hates. They planned to meet, on the street; the street with curves to eat hors d’oeuvres.

Paul cried & cried, “I can’t believe she lied!” But she stood him up before, & he vowed “No more!” So how could he blame the dame?

The dame, the dame she had a name, a name that ironically was the same

As a city in Illinois. One that Paul remembers with joy. He met Aurora. in Aurora. And that was just after getting dumped by Laura.

Laura oh Laura she was a fan of flora, Aurora now she was a fan of a certain fedora.

His sleeping beauty, she was a cutie, but her penchant for sleeping left poor old Paul seething.

The memories piled on, like love songs that go on too long. He thought to himself, “I need help.” So, he got it from Yelp.

He had a romantic dinner date planned based on Yelper HotDamned. But Aurora’s oversleeping made the reservations not worth keeping.

Paul called Aurora’s phone, wondering if she was home. With no answer, Paul groaned “I know it’s on vibrate.” He was clearly irate.

Paul had a history of anger management issues. Leave it to Aurora’s wireless carrier to light his short fuse.

He thought her inconsiderate. It was enough to leave him in a fit. There was no one around to confide how sad was he was inside.

The smile on his face was because of sheer grace. He was with Verizon. If she didn’t switch carriers, a rift was on the horizon.

Paul drove over to Aurora’s house & knocked on the door. Once, twice & then three more. “Get up Aurora! We’re going to the store!”

Aurora rolled out of bed, wiped her eyes, scratched her head. “Who was there?” she wondered, oblivious to the date she blundered.

Paul appeared at the door, her jaw dropped to the floor. “Oops, I overslept. That’s another date I haven’t kept.”

His shirt blue, his eyes flashing red. He should’ve dated her sister Peoria instead. Caught himself, put that thought on the shelf.

Peoria, now that’s a vixen. But he couldn’t let Aurora know what his mind had been fixin’. If she knew, he and Aurora were through.

“You look beautiful,” lied Paul. “Let’s go. We’ll be late.” “Just like my period,” quipped Aurora, as Paul pinched his own taint.

Aurora reacted with shock and awe. “You disgust me Paul. I’m going to the mall. Have fun staying here, playing with your balls.”

“You’re not going anywhere,” Paul fumed. “Sit your ass down. You better behave or I’ll call Craggles the Clown.”

But Aurora wasn’t interested in any more of Paul’s lovin’. It was probably because she had another man’s bun in the oven.

Whatever, thought Paul. He knew better than to take a date to the mall. He would not miss her. Would it be weird with her sister?

Aurora sat & thought, of Jonah, the man she met while on a yacht. A swarthy man of the sea, whose baby she carried surreptitiously.

In certain comparison Paul might pale to some guy who once lived in a whale. Might Aurora’s infidelity earn her a burial at sea?

In this instant Paul couldn’t resist. He took a peak at Aurora’s sis’s digits on the Rolodex. He memorized it. dialed it. Holysh*t.

Aurora has nothing she’s working toward, just playing. Paul was willing to throw her overboard. Just saying.

Peoria picked up more than the call if you know what I mean. She got Paul, after all, not some swarthy marine.

While Peoria and Paul got busy, Aurora was all in a tizzy. Her hormones were all outta whack. She thought she might want Paul back.

It was not meant to be. Paul & Peoria were making whoopee. They were making quite a racket, like UConn after winning the bracket.

Aurora said “I don’t need Paul! He’s a blue sweater boy after all!” She called Peoria to let her know she was over that freak show.

This time Peoria didn’t answer. She knew where neither her phone nor her pants were.

Yet Paul knew her ringtone. A funk song he’d last heard alone. Made him frisky at the time. Twisty was more like it this time.

Paul pushed Peoria away. “How could I do this to Aurora?” he cried in dismay. He ran to the door, leaving Peoria on the floor.

Peoria got up, found her pants, then threw on a tank. She chased after Paul, screaming, “Aurora’s the family skank!”

“If she’s the family skank, where do you rank?” Peoria fired back, “You didn’t seem to give a yack when you were fondling my rack.”

Paul turned around, then sheepishly looked down. “Aurora can have Jonah. It’s obviously only you that gives me a bonah.”

Peoria was confused by Paul’s sudden Boston drawl. But it was only for a bit, because she realized she loved that little nugget.

They kept moving closer, and then they embraced. Her arms around his back, his around her waist. “Marry me,” Paul said confidently.

“Yes!” screamed Peoria in delight. She finally found someone who was her height. You see, Paul wasn’t the only one who was small.

Paul pulled out a ring. Peoria said, “Oh my! Such bling!”

The couple was wed, went on a honeymoon through Club Med. The trip couldn’t be finer. They got discounts for looking like minors.

Peoria and Paul lived happily ever after, their lives filled with laughter. Everything was good. All good in the ‘hood.

‘Cept when Paul thought about his new sister-inlaw. Her not existing was hard to pretend. It was Aurora, his ex-girlfriend.

THE END

We did it! We wrote a story that rhymed! And it even kind of made sense! I bet you thought that last sentence was gonna rhyme with the one before it. Sorry – I’m all rhymed out. Anyway, this might be the funniest Once Upon 140 story yet. I don’t know if it’s the rhyming, the classic one-liners or the dirtiness of Paul and his love triangle with Aurora and Peoria. By the way, if those aren’t two stripper names, then I don’t know what is.

Thanks to @nella22, @kikiandkyle, @swanieson, @ArzuBusiness, @elderberryjam, @hwtibbs, @hiaubs, @jsetlak and @foiledcupcakes for helping me pull off an admittedly difficult story. I appreciate the feedback up front, and I’m grateful to all of you for humoring me and playing along.

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Gumballin’

He applied the last bit of mascara, the last dab of lipstick, and took a deep breath. Now, he was ready.

How could he not be? He had waited for this moment his entire life. He was finally going to show them. He smiled.

Aviv delicately lifted his gumball jar and stepped outside. Today he would finally claim the record as his own.

He looked around. Flashes were popping off everywhere. And people were screaming, “Aviv! Aviv!” He smiled. But where was Gertrude?

Where was the love of his life on the day he needed her the most? ‘She’ll come.’ he thought. She had to. He couldnt do this w/o her.

Gertrude, though, was glued to the TV. The coverage of the Royal Wedding was so enthralling, she lost all track of time.

She knew Aviv would need her but just this once she wanted 2 live HER life; she was tired of being “Aviv’s GF” never just Gertrude.

Pushing thoughts of Gertie aside, Aviv closed his eyes and put the first gumball in his mouth. The crowd became silent.

At home, Gertrude reflected on their path. They met at Columbia. At the time, she was the “it girl” and he the introverted type.

The last person to attempt the record for most gumballs in mouth at once choked to death. Aviv now tempted a similar fate for fame.

Gertrude suspected Aviv was doing this to prove he could be as “it” as she was when they met – but none of that mattered to her.

Tempting fate with competitive confections consumption seemed somehow so childish to her, she wondered how they would live it down.

And why, she wondered, had he taken to wearing more cosmetics for these gummy stunts? He already ruined her newest lipstick.

Few people knew the stunts had strained the relationship. The role of stuntman’s girlfriend was played with ease, if not pleasure.

She could even overlook the spoiled cosmetics, though it struck her as clownish. It didn’t help that she was unnerved by clowns.

Aviv took the 2nd gumball out of the jar, holding it up to the crowd for dramatic effect. “Put it in!” they chanted. He did. Alone.

W/ a gumball in each cheek, his eyes scanned the crowd, looking for her. With a slow blink, he reached for the third gumball and…

…grimaced as he slipped it in his mouth. Aviv was careful not to smear the lipstick, it may be the closest Gertie would be today.

The record was 13 gumballs. The irony of the death during the previous attempt and the unluckiness of 13 was lost on no one.

Especially not Gertrude. She knew the risks. After all, it was her father, Michael the Magnificent, who held the gumball record.

He’d held the title for most of her life, yet had never talked about it. Not odd, since he was mute after a freak gumball accident.

During the Chicago heat wave of ’95, a gumball machine exploded. Hit in the throat, the doctors couldn’t remove the silencing orb.

It was now a daily reminder of the true dangers of the sport. The gumball: capable of bestowing such fame and such sorrow.

As a bead of sweat slipped down Aviv’s brow, he pressed on toward his goal. 4, 5 and 6 were no problem, but gumball 7…

…proved trickier. He puffed his cheeks out, then slipped it under his lower lip. The crowd gasped, barely able to comprehend this.

But Aviv knew. It was this exact move that, years earlier, transformed little Mikey into Michael the Magnificent.

Gertrude knew too. She and a young Aviv used to watch her father’s exploits on YouTube every day after school. They idolized him.

But after the accident, things changed. Gertrude shut down, but Aviv’s admiration grew stronger. Aviv devoted his life to gumballs.

It was a near obsession to Aviv. He’d loved her since childhood & his drive for a new record would prove it. Little did he know…

that Gertie was home, watching Prince William & Kate exchanging vows..over gumballs! It brought back a flood of memories. Too many.

She turned the TV off and picked up a gumball. Enraged, she whipped it at the ground, but it bounced back up & hit her in the face.

Momentarily shocked, she thought of her father, and her eyes welled up. She got up quickly, dumping the gumballs into the trash.

She pressed her hand to her head and felt a warm, sticky drip….

First, her dad’s gumball accident, & now this? Who was next, Aviv? Gertie couldn’t let that happen. Not w her dad already a mute.

As Gertrude looked at the clock it blinked 11:11. On the other side of town, Aviv was now sweating, on gumball 11.

Picking up the 12th gumball, he quickly scanned the crowd for Gertrude. No luck. Maybe she didn’t care. His hand went to his mouth.

He slowly inserted #12, & the crowd suddenly grew quiet. A young girl’s jaw dropped in disbelief. What was happening to Aviv?

His face was trembling, as he was trying his best to hold on, 12 gumballs stuffed into his mouth. He couldn’t turn back. Not now.

Gertrude was on her way. She knew what this meant to Aviv, but couldn’t shake the weird feeling in the pit of her stomach…

Luckily, she lived less than 11 minutes away. She walked into the dark theater and could see Aviv on stage. Still, a weird feeling.

Aviv didn’t see her. This was to be his moment. He reached for #13 & Gertie cried, “STOP! For the love of all things bubbly!”

But she was too far away and the roar of the crowd was too loud. His forehead was sweaty, his hair oddly tinged green.

Aviv narrowed his eyes & squinted. “Gemewfgfhocxivjkefweiogrfd” He tried to speak. He couldn’t say a word. Gertie ran towards him.

She ran to him. She had seen his reaction and regretted it the moment the words left her mouth.

Throwing her arms around him, Gertie begged Aviv to stop. “You remember what happened to my father, don’t you?!” she pleaded.

Aviv looked at Gertie & held her in his arms. As he put #13 into his mouth, what followed surprised everyone, especially Aviv.

The 13th gumball and all preceeding gumballs burst forth from Aviv’s mouth straight into Gertie’s face.

Aviv paused his chewing for a moment, then, out of nowhere, a bubble started forming from his lips. Gertie watched him, skeptical.

“How do you have more gum?” Gertie asked. “Easy,” said Aviv. “Regurgitation.” He brought up a piece he had swallowed yesterday.

14, 15, 15… 15 – Aviv felt an overwhelming gag reflex he’d never ever felt before. #Huhhhhggggghhhhgnnnughhh

Sixzzz… Nghuh… Teen… He was pushing through…

…Thru the spasms – but there was no air. Just an unyielding bubble. Sealing him off from the world.

The bubble continued to get larger, enveloping Gertrude. Aviv kept going. There was the Bubblicious. And Topps baseball card gum.

Aviv motioned under the bubble for Gertie to get the gum scraper. He didn’t want the same fate as her dad, aka Bubble Boy.

Gertie fought against the bubble’s pull, eventually shaking free. The bubble kept growing, so Gertie didn’t have much time.

Her scraper was never very far, considering both her dad & boyfriend were gumballers. There were plenty of mishaps thru the years.

She went to the car and grabbed it, then came running back. The bubble was even bigger, now that the Big League Chew was out.

She fought her way through the crowd, which was now clamoring for the exits. The bubble was getting bigger by the second, and it…

…knocked over some stage props. This massive bubble of every piece of gum that Aviv ever chewed just kept growing and growing.

Gertie got in position and raised the scraper as the bubble approached her. She needed to save Aviv. And she needed to do it now.

With ferocious might Gertie plunged the scraper into the bubble, popping its contents all over the crowd. But Aviv..

didn’t make it. He had suffocated under the bubble that was congealed over his face.

Gertie rushed to the pink and purple slimed Aviv but resisted the temptation to do CPR. It was just too much.

Gertrude fell to her knees. “Nooooo!” She tried to close his eyelids, but they were already completely sealed by the gum.

After an hour of hearing Gertie’s sobs, the crowd picked up the gum mummy Aviv and carried him to the nearest hill.

A somber ceremony was held while Aviv was buried. However his grave marker would never hold the title of “Gumball Champion.”

It’s now 2021. Gertrude’s son, Aziz, is attempting to break the world gumball record on the exact stage where Aziz died.

Gertrude’s in the 1st row, cheering him on, chewing a mixture of Big League Chew and Bubblicious. Big Aziz would be proud.

THE END

Competitive gumballing? Who knew it could be so dangerous? Not me. And definitely not Aziz. But you know who did? Gertrude. What a woman.

Thanks @hiaubs for the photo, and thanks to @vineyardlola, @steeb2er, @melmo3, @nella22, @hiaubs, @hwtibbs, @jsetlak and @thatgirlmari for writing. Good stuff.

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