Friday, December 09, 2016

The Love Love Me Lou writing contest

Recently I read all three of Lou Berney's books, and became a total, besotted fan of his writing.

Today's writing contest will feature a great prize: Lou Berney's first two books Gutshot Straitght and Whiplash River. Trust me, you WANT to win this prize!








The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:
gut
shot
straight
whip
lash

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: shot/shote is ok, but shot/shoat is NOT (see what I did there!)

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

8a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail...just leave me out of it.)

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.


Contest opens: 9:20am EST, Saturday, December 10

Contest closes: 9am EST, Sunday, December 11


What time is it in NYC?



If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!

ENTER!

Rats, too late.






56 comments:

Em-Musing said...

“My name is Lash Whipshot. My family didn’t earn this name shooting sloppy. We hit bullseye every time. So seeings that this guy was messing with my wife, I’d've never shot him in the gut; I’d've shot him straight in his you-know-where. And you might've wanted to shoot him too if he had your wife in bed twisted like I’ve never seen a woman twist. So, no sir. Though I was there, wasn’t me who killed that som’a bitch.”
“Then who, Mr. Whipshot, shot him?”
“The other guy who walked in. Her boyfriend. Sloppy shot, that one.”

Michael Seese said...

Inured, by now, to his belt, Sadie didn't bat an eyelash when he brandished the whip. A perfect reflection of her father's defiance, she shot one across his bow.

“You don't have the guts!”

The crack cut straight to her core. Practice, though, taught her how to swallow a scream. Thirty minutes later he smiled, spent and satisfied.

“Here's your money, Sadie,” Jack said. “Same time next week?”

“Sure,” she said, dabbing the tiny red rivulet running down her cheek.

“Sorry about nicking you. I'll try harder to control it next time.”

“No worries.”

Dad always said the same thing.

Timothy Lowe said...

Worther read the headlines, eyes swimming as if he had whiplash. It had been a holy hot summer, with over half a dozen missing within eighteen weeks. He’d been on the force for two years, and the whole thing had been a straight shot to the gut.

“Dinkins,” he said. “Look at this.”

“What?”

“Just look.”

1 Across: No. Deadly sins
4 Across: Heavenly Masses
9 Across: Like pirate treasure
11 Across: Saying of Monty Python Knights, inverted.
12 Across: New Roman type of Font
16 Across: (Office Space) loc. of Milton’s new desk

“What?”

“Fucking Sunday puzzle’s always impossible.”

Mark Thurber said...

They lashed him down. “I don’t want to die!” screamed Little Joe.

“Then you should have let sleeping dogs lie. He’s all yours, Emile.”

Emile whipped around to face his partner. “I won’t do it, Lou. He’s just a boy.”

“Fine. I’ll have Jack straighten the kid out.”

And Jack did, with thirteen shots to the gut. “They’ll lock you up for this, Lou,” Jack said.

“The kid asked for it. I just did what I had to.” But even Lou averted his eyes from the couple outside.

“Will Little Joe live, Dr. Pasteur?” asked the woman.

“He will now.”

Steve Forti said...

Brenda stirred the ragu. “Ten more minutes.”

“Looks ready.”

“It’s hot, but the flavors are still marrying. Gram’s special recipe. Only made it for Grampa once.”

“I mailed your card to her this morning. How thoughtful.”

“Gram always said it only takes a few letters to turn feeling alone into feeling at home.”

“Made it once? When was the special occasion?”

Brenda watched as he scooped a ladle and downed the ragu straight, then whipped around.

A thud, a crash, and pots and pans clanged across the floor like a burst from a Kalashnikov.

“Right after she found his mistress.”

Stephen G Parks said...

“On Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen! On Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen.” Once again, Rudolph led the team.

“You better watch you, you better not cry,” A singular voice carried thinly, gut shaking like a bowl full of jelly, as the whip cracked straight over his head.

“You’d better not pout,” The rattail shot nearly hit him that time, resentment allowing the lash a little too close. The voice waivered, “… I’m telling you why …”

“Santa Claus is comin’ to town!” Voices chorused from the back of the sleigh, jingling all the way.

“Not if he pulls us this slowly!”

Crack!

Mallory Love said...

We watched my mother-in-law, Sandy, whip and nae nae on the dance floor, speechless. Straight gin and an open bar inspired the gut-wrenching booty shaking for all to witness. But I couldn’t blame the poor woman. She was jilted at her own shotgun wedding years ago.

“At least she’s not as bad as my Uncle Louie,”I consoled my new husband. Louie’d left three women at the altar and nowadays was always half tipsy.

We looked over at him. Louie flashed a smile, stumbling over.

“You Sandy’s boy?”

My husband nodded.

“Nice to finally meet you...Son.”

Khalid Mukhtar said...

"What is GUT?"

It was an innocent question, or was it? How else could Jerry Mandarin explain the chill that raced up his spine. The question came upon him like a Balrog lashing out its whip in one desperate effort to snag him and drag him down with it. He looked down at the old timer struggling to stand up straight despite the aid of a crooked staff. The old man shook his head in disgust, and Jerry knew he didn't have to answer.

He nodded vacuously and wondered how pathetic he sounded.

"Yes. GUT. What is it?"

Mon said...

Santa was a terrible shot. He blamed his gut. It was so expansive it got in the way. You wouldn’t think a gut could do that, but when Santa straightened up to shoot the gut crept slowly across his line of vision. It was almost like the gut didn’t want him shooting things.

Santa’s gut was a pacifist. It’d seen terrible things, after all, like the acid reflux incident of 1990 when Santa gulped enough milk and cookies to give himself whiplash. The gut knew suffering. And it knew not to let Santa shoot elves for supper.

-Moniza

Sherry Howard said...

FORENSICS

The shot echoed through the neighborhood—Mrs. Peabody told me so later, as she served me bourbon to settle my nerves.

I’d driven straight home when they called me, whipping through lanes of traffic like a cat with its tail on fire.

The crime scene bustled with men and women in suits and uniforms. Behind the yellow tape lay the lost lashes I'd searched for all day once I realized one eye was unadorned.

I forced my gut to empty itself as I threw myself across the body. Just enough distraction for an unnoticed retrieval by the grieving widow.

AAGreene said...

His gut knew she was guilty.
He watched her. Followed her.
One shot to catch her.
Planned, plotted. Didn’t eat.
No, he wasn’t obsessed.
The night dawned - he was ready.
Through the door of no return,
Straight into a trap.
The lash hit him from behind.
He turned, saw the devil hisself.
The man raised his arm.
A loud bang echoed in the shed.
The man fell, whip in hand.
She appeared, shrugging off the shadows,
Holstering a gun.
“Let me play Devil’s avocado,” he said.
Dazed, he pointed at the man.
She held out her hand and smiled.
“Guilty.”

Kregger said...

“Let’s see,” I said as I typed the video heading, ‘Closed Door Murder—Done Dirt Cheap.’

I nodded. “Cool. Now comes the hard part.”

I reached into my box of props.

Whip.

Zip-ties.

Straight bourbon whiskey.

An MP3 recording of a guttural scream.

45 caliber pistol. I cocked and dry fired the weapon.

Satisfying!

I glanced at my lying, cheating business partner with his head blown off.

Shot of whiskey. Whip myself like a repentant monk. Lash zip-ties with my teeth. Play scream.

Upload to YouTube.

Agatha Christie, eat your heart out.

I hope they don’t check me for GSR.

Mike said...

I knew it in my gut. I’d ask her out and she’d whip back her head and laugh. I knew it.

I told Tom. “You’re an idiot,” he said. He called, “Hey. Maryanne.”

She smiled at him. Girls always did.

“Dude. Worth a shot.”

She glided over, like straight over, coffee mug carelessly close to her blouse, and sat.

Tom kicked me.

“Uh, hi.”

“Hi.”

Then I saw it. Unrehearsed, I said, “You’ve got an eyelash on your cheek.”

“Really? Where?”

I reached across the table. “Here.” It sat at the tip of my finger.

“Make a wish,” she whispered.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

“Wanna know what eyebrows are for?” Mama snapped, whipping the Glamour magazine out of my hand and flinging it across the room. “Keepin’ sweat outta your eyes. Not en-HAN-cing their shape.”

“Yes, Mama.”

“You wanna go straight to hell?”

“No, Mama.”

“Then wipe that crap off your lashes.”

“Yes, Mama.”

Scotch tape repaired the black and white photo of a scowling runner-up glaring at a beaming winner. Sisters. The pageant ripped them apart.

A tissue smears my mascara, and hides my smirk, while my gut tells me I have a shot at the very same crown. Unlike Mama ever did.

Lucy Crowe said...

David played lyre on catgut strings. It pleased the Lord.
Consider
while you watch me disrobe, kohled eyes diffident behind spindly lashes.
Lashes that belong, really, on a girl.
On our girl?
Cosseted daughter who never materialized - squirming whipsnake in the belly, curled beneath my sari. We snuffed her life easily. Pennyroyal, fierce cramps -
Over
Still watching? My childlike form, limbs straight, supple. Belly obstinately flat – does it please you?
I loved your cruel lips, unmalleable in trickling candlelight but
I’ve never pleased you, have I?
Splatter from a headshot mars the sheets.
No matter.
I’ve pleased myself.

Lobo said...


Born poor with bad legs. Regime doctors said I’d never stand.

We tried to stand for freedom, but the gestapo lashed out with artillery. Most fled. (Whipped dogs)

I couldn’t. My brother wouldn’t.

No question where he stood: In front of me. (Always has)

They shot him straight through.

Herr General will be goose-stepping along soon, inspecting his massacre. (His sick standard)

But a cripple on the ground, soaked in his brother’s blood and guts, looks like just another dead body.

And my revolver isn’t forgiving. (Or understanding)

So at least one fascist will see my first

(and last)

stand.

Patricia L. Shelton said...

The tongue lashing is bad enough, but that guttural tone! Where did that come from? She was such a petite thing that I would never have imagined such sounds emanating from her mouth.

Granted, I deserved it; late from work, straight to the Kentucky bourbon. I really needed Granny's hot toddy tonight. Deep snow, icy winds, my voice probably sounds no better than hers. Hmmm? I pour her a shot, as well, maybe it'll keep her quiet until I get dinner ready. Maybe not, seeing that tail whipping about as she stares at me over the rim of her bowl.

Janice Grinyer said...

“Where’s baby JESUS?” Mama tunneled through dead grandma’s suitcase, piling clothes on the sidewalk.

Never met dead grandma, but she did leave us plastic bits of Mama’s childhood.

Brother Charlie shot me a look, nudging my gut. Keep your mouth shut. Don’t want a whipping Christmas Eve!

“You goddamn kids lose everything.” Mama’s bottle of comfort kept in her bra flashed. She didn't want to remember most everything got tossed yesterday by old man Lou. “No pay no stay!”

No room at the shelter either.

Baby Jesus was straight up between a rock, and Mama’s shoe.

I kept quiet.

Colin Smith said...

Maeven was a natural. Gliding across the pond, her arms out straight, she closed her eyes and smiled. With a slight turn she broke into a spin, her ponytail whipping around her head. She pulled out, a strange feeling in her gut. Fear. She started to run, her blades slicing the ice, cold water gurgling. She shot along the frozen path, trees limbs reaching out, slashing at her clothes, but she was faster. Always faster. Always safe.

Maeven curled herself into a ball and rocked.

"Will our Maeve be okay?"

"I think she's found her happy place," the doctor replied.

S.D.King said...

1974
They called Larry gutless, but he tried for football and made team manager. At least he didn’t have to undress in the locker room.

Got himself a flashy varsity jacket – his name boldly embroidered on the back.

But after the final game he wasn’t invited to Luigi’s for pizza with the team and cheerleaders.

He’d show ‘em who’s gutless. He’d seen streakers on TV.

That’s what I’ll do! Straight shot in the front door – out the back – with my head covered.

He stripped in the car, whipped his jacket over his head.

Ha! They’ll never know it was me!

Amy Johnson said...


ONE SECOND.

ONE HOUR later: “Gunshot wound.” Straight through the heart. Must be strong, for the kids. We talked about this. Married to a cop, you have to. I whip away a tear clinging to my eyelashes. My gut wrenches.

ONE DAY later: Funeral plans.

ONE WEEK later: Five kids, one parent. Impossible.

ONE MONTH later: Tom Jr. still cries every night.

ONE YEAR later: Fewer tears these days.

ONE DECADE later: Both her parents should be here. Time for Jenny’s walk down the aisle. “Ready, Dad?” Everything could have been so different, if not for that

ONE SECOND.

RosannaM said...

Like a swarm of angry hornets
the Rising Sun rained hellfire upon our fleet.

Jim, gone in a flash, had taken my watch so
I could spend the night in town, indulging.
Straightaway I was flung headlong into
adulthood, shot with guilt.

Volunteered for every mission.
They said I had guts, but no. Wanted to whip the
enemy into submission.
Put the combat pay into savings.

In fifty-nine sent a check to little Jim.
Interest over all these years would pay for college.
Imbedded guilt faded some as I walked my daughter
down to meet her groom.

Young James.

Craig F said...

Many types of ill winds have blown past my door.

There was Pa’s accident. A wind straight as a shot to the gut.

There was wife 1. An ill wind disguised as a dream until it sucked all my dreams away.

Ma’s cancer was a third. It built slowly until it whipped and lashed all emotion.

Kathy, though, was a fair air. I hove to and let her carry me along.

Her forgetfulness started slowly too. One day she forgot the way home.

When I found her, her look held another type of ill wind. She had forgotten me too.

Beth said...

She shouldered the shotgun and fired, the kick knocking her whippet-thin body into a rosebush. In a flash, my new gutter became a colander. Fortunately for the squirrel, Mom couldn’t shoot straight. “That damn squirrel in your attic is driving me insane. If you won’t call the exterminator, I may have to move to town, with your sister.”

I pulled her from the thorns. “Let’s get you patched up.”

“I’m fine.” She stomped into the house.

Once she'd gone, I brought out the live trap and opened the door. “Okay, squirrel. Girl squirrel and peanuts in the attic. Party on.”

jackevee said...

A small pink eraser flies past my head and skitters to the ground. I whip around, scanning the eyes of my classmates. They all look straight down. I hear the blood pounding in my temples, the queasiness in my gut; I can’t lose control here.
“Freak”, a voice whispers behind me. I begin to sweat, fixating on the teacher facing the board. “Monster”. If I just lash out… no, they’ll never give me another chance. “Demon”. They’re not real. “Pathetic”. A mutilated vine is shot from my back, extinguishing all sound. I know I’ve failed before the scientists even arrive.

Marie McKay said...

Your aunt's wearing the lilac brooch.

- your last birthday. pain straight through the heart-

My lashes bleed black; rustle of cloth as your cousin whips out a tissue from a wine-coloured satchel, and I dab my eyes with the scent of lavender.

- the Christmas market-

Your niece fetches me a shot of 'something strong.' She's wearing the mulberry scarf.

- your final trip-

Amethyst earrings sway to your gran's lament. My finger tips run over my own heart-shaped shade of you.

- gutsy to the end; you had a gift for each of us-

Damn. How we'll miss you, Violet.

Steph Ellis said...

A guttural roar escaped Santa’s lips as the sleigh overshot the landing and catapulted him straight into the chimney flue; his fall, however, was broken by the whip which he still held tightly. He looked up to see Prancer holding the other end.

“You’re on the naughty list this year, Santa,” the reindeer growled. “Mrs S saw your selfies, the fluffy handcuffs, the tinsel thong …”

Prancer backed away, leaving him dangling.

A flash of light below gave Santa hope until the spark became a flame became a fire. Santa was in for a roasting of a different kind.

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Dammit! What’s happening? I just can’t be, I just can’t be. I need a shot of tequila. My hands tremble as I pick up the glass, almost dropping it. I whip the libation around my mouth, its powerful medication taking command, then swallow hard. My tears puddle in my bottom eyelashes and my gut wrenches. I’ve been straight my entire life. Up until now. But that quirky, kinky-haired vixen had captured me and stolen my heart. She’s the one, she’s my person.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...


Esme crouches in the tree as below her, one child births another. The young mother, gutted by grief, sings her only lullaby before abandoning her too silent son tucked beneath a blanket of leaves.

Esme's tongue cannot speak this world's words. Her language is love, magic. She pulls the lashes from her eyes, scatters them over the small, still body. She inhales, straightens her jagged spine, her serpentine tail. She exhales. Her wishes rise, whirl, whip the woods like a hurricane. She curls around the baby, sleeps.

His cries puncture the dawn's silence like gunshots.

Esme smiles at her son.

Jeanette Lee said...


He brought cookies to the office that day, in a Hello Kitty backpack of all things. Damn gutsy, I remember thinking. Or maybe that’s how he picked up girls.
I’ll never forget the boy. Black clothes and a trench coat. Pale face. The kind of movie star eyelashes the wife would kill fo—gets hot and bothered over.
He slinks through Cubicle Land, straight to Mr. Hello Kitty, and grabs a snickerdoodle. Whips out a milk carton and slams it down.
Such a pretty girl. Same crazy eyelashes.

Jamie McCullum said...

The evening scene, the new Dairy Queen; half dozen local studs, sat on souped-up car hoods watching the town’s feminine goods, parade by.

Then this guy appeared all frothy wigged out and weird. Attacking with gut punches and shots to the face, our aces were soon knocked all over the place, and bashed, ran away holding their necks like in whiplash.

Families ran for their lives, customers over counters dived. One elderly lady just straight stood there and hived.

Then the mad bugger took flight—one hand clutching a screaming girl, the other, a cone of vanilla swirl...

Cynthia Paige Aaron said...

"Come on, baby. Don't fail me now."
Gutierrez shot through the night in his '56 Ford.
A pop had split the air. Thug was in a '57 Buick, he thought.
Anticipating more shots, he ducked low behind the dash.
Punched the gas, blinked blood from his blown out eyes.
Checked the rear view. Blurry. Buick was gaining, he thought.
His Ford whipped through pilings, aimed haphazardly for the cliff.
He wanted to lash out, cut that bastard in two. Send him straight to oblivion.
His trusty '56 went airborne...

The DVD froze.
"Damn. Come on, baby. Don't fail me now."

Keisha Martin said...

He laughed as if the sound erupted out of his gut, most stated it would be a long shot a billionaire narcissist that came straight from the tower into the rural regions of the US and into the historical white house, he had given a brutal whip lashing to his opponents to end their race. Oversees the nemesis called it and welcomed the day when America would bow to him the dream had become a reality he had formed the puppets for his bidding and he thanked technology for his victory he laughed as well a year ago he was just setting up his email.

Gigi Kern said...

It was gut wrenching to watch the light flicker out of Luke’s eyes. But, the devastation permeating from Brian went straight to Michael’s heart.


It felt like he had whiplash, one second Luke and Brian were engaged, now Luke was gone. Michael walked out of Luke’s hospital room, as he entered the waiting room his face gave him away. Damon, Billy and Chloe shot up from their seats and surrounded him.

“He’s gone.” Michael said, not realizing the words had left his mouth. He was numb. Brian stumbled into the waiting room and collapsed at Michael’s feet. "Happy Birthday Brian."

Megan V said...


Q: She was sitting on top of you?

A: Yeah.

Q: Was she facing you or was she looking away?

A: Well—um—she had one leg on each side and she looked at me straight on.

Q: So she was on your lap, facing you?

A: Right.

Q: So what happened next?

A: I don't know. Some guy started hollering his guts out, but I wasn’t really paying attention. There’s always somebody wanting to take a few cheap shots.

Q: But did you see anything?

A: Sure, I did. Doc says those titties gave me this here whiplash.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

She took a shot straight to the gut. Friendly fire. Only her whip, lashed to the bridge, kept her from falling into the river. Never thought I'd ever be grateful to her. I'm not. I'm grateful for the stupidity of her squad, who turned their attention to her, who thought that falling into the river was a bad thing.

That river is what carried the rest of us to freedom.

JD Horn said...

The first hair straightener, searing metal rods conjuring images of Inquisition. 1872. Marcel Grateau.

The first false lash strip, fish gut lined with hair. 1902. Charles Nessler.

Foundation, the first modern version, selling like hotcakes despite the Depression. 1937. Max Factor.

“Natural beauty,” he said, pointing a blind digital camera and taking the shot.

Not to worry. He could hide it, whip it into submission, with Photoshop. 1987. Thomas Knoll.

RKeelan said...

You read it all night.
The pace and the plot, the whip and the lash, you couldn't stop.
Your eyes bloodshot and your gut clenched, you can barely think straight.
Who sent this?
Nobody you've ever heard of.
But on the Internet he's called Manuscript. Not even 'the.' He doesn't need it.
You must have this manuscript.
You can't wait. You must have this manuscript.
You call him.
The phone rings.
He's got to pick up.
The phone rings again.
Why won't he pick up?
The phone's still ringing.
So this is what it feels like.
Fucking John Frain.

John Davis Frain said...

Was she monkeying around?

Juliet! Papa grunted. Be straight.

If he only knew. She lumbered around the enclosure. Devoured four bananas. Two chocolate chimp cookies.

Mama said, Do we get to meet him?

She considered the pronoun. Hmm. Not exactly.

Papa shot Juliet a look. Mama said, If you’re happy, we’re happy.

Juliet smiled. Meet Romeo. She’s the gorilla my dreams! Out pranced one-hundred-fifty-nine pounds of orange-haired orangutan.

The jolt gave Papa whiplash.

She’s not a baboon, Mama cried.

She’s not a he, Papa snarled.

But I love your daughter, Orangutan said.

That’s enough for me, Mama and Papa sang.


lizosisek said...

A thunderclap clashes with the bass drum, flat for this piece. Wind whips my cape as I do an about face, step back to the next set on my toes. The sudden storm will ruin the woodwind instruments, but the director won’t cut us off until we’ve played the final note. This is championships; we’re not throwing away our shot because of some “heavy dew.”

I take a deep breath, filling my gut with air. March straight ahead as the music swells.

It’s a costly win – a championship for seventeen waterlogged saxes. But it’s victory all the same.

Claire Bobrow said...

“Fruitcake?” offered Pamela.
“No, thank you.”
“Try it dear,” insisted Mama. “Pamela doesn’t serve that cheap kind, preserved in rock-gut whiskey.”

“I’d rather be whipped.”
“Oh, honey,” tinkled Mama, “don’t worry - you will. Fifty lashes! What a joker.”

“Or shot by firing squad.”
“That’s enough, young lady! Pamela - give her a slice of your fruitcake!”

Rosebuds of uncertainty colored Pamela’s cheeks. The plate trembled.

Stomach rumbling, I swallowed it straight down.

“You see?” said Mama. “A bit of fruitcake might even improve your manners.”

“But not necessarily your appearance,” I gagged, fruitcake re-emerging to decorate Mama’s Sunday best.

Karen McCoy said...

I joined the police force to straighten up, of all things. Wore my body cam without batting an eyelash.

Stop and frisk. Gunshots. Quotas for the chief. Kept those jail cells occupied, and the morgues full.

And then there was the canoeing trip. Capsize. Whipray. I shot the chief’s foot to save my own.

Gunshoe’s my new nickname. My gut’s okay with it.

Phillip Marble said...

“Why do you always sit with your back to the wall, Wild Bill?”
“Experience.”
“Saying I should watch my back.”
“Just shut up and deal the cards.”
The gunslinger stared at two pair.
Both men took a card. One missed his full house, while the other filled an inside straight.
“You should have known not to play aces and eights. Whipped you with an inside straight,” laughed the drifter. Missed my tell. I touch my eyelashes when I get a good hand.”
When the smoke in the room cleared, Wild Bill was shot in the gut, hence, dead man’s hand.

LynnRodz said...

I wasn't always like this. Once I stood straight, cultured, sought after, but what happens when you're tortured, raped, and maimed; when you're invaded and your blood is spilled for all to see? When your whipped soul has been slashed from you?

You scream, you cry with rage, while your gut-wrenching pleas go unheard.

No.

They're heard, but ignored.

They look away, they don't want to see. They pretend it's not happening...not them suffering unbearable anguish.

The upshot — have you forgotten? I wasn't the first, nor will I be the last.

This isn't a story.

It's my story.

Aleppo

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Slashing at shadows, trying to grab the wind.

Falling. Tumbling. Soaring. Flying. Dying.

Her dress was green and her hair straight yellow like daisies. Whipped cream on her nose. She smelled like strawberries in spring.

Boiled peanuts hot on the skin. Salty to the taste.

“Hit a homerun for me and I’ll give you another.”

Feeling utter joy at hitting a ball with a stick.

What was her name? Ten years ago. A decade from Little League to war. His body hit the earth like an angel cast from heaven. If only he could remember her name.

Just Jan said...

We meet in a dingy bar. He's holding a shot of rotgut in his whip hand and eggnog in the other. His lashes are moist as he mumbles about hanky-panky, reindeer games, and a virus. Life as he knows it is over, he says.

Not true, I reply. Herpes is treatable.

Every year it's something. Drunken debauchery with the elves. Secret rendezvous under the tree. He always promises to straighten out. She turns the other cheek. What happens at the North Pole stays there.

Until now.

His lips quiver. You don't understand, he says. She posted the video to Facebook.

Meagan D said...

Lena fell to the dirt. Tears leaked from her lashes littering her cheeks with a thousand words she never said. Never would, not now. Her dead brother’s gaze went straight through her to the the trees towering above. She pulled the knife from his chest and wailed in agony and loss.

Defeat slithered into her conscious, but bile boiled into rage in her gut. He would not die for nothin’. Blood shot through her veins with new resolve. Lena stood. Her hair whipped her face and ice took the warmth from her eyes. A girl no more; a villain born.

Scott G said...

“Dude, somebody shot you!”

I know who did it. I’d tell you, if I could talk.

“Damn, man. The bullet went straight through your gut. Your insides are spilling all over the place!”

Yes. Those are my intestines.

“Hold on! A car just whipped into the driveway!”

I see flashing lights. I can’t keep my eyes open.

“Hey! You got a cellphone? Call an ambulance!”

Wait-

“Oh my god! I’m his wife. What happened?”

“I was driving by and saw this man lying in a pool of blood next to his car! Somebody shot him!”

That’s her.

That’s . . . her.

That’s . . .

Dena Pawling said...


Megan brushed the rat's nest, then curled the straight sections. Satisfied, she whipped out the spray-o-perfection. A little pouf, a little tease.

Passable, but still a teen from the gutter.

She applied concealer to hide the lines and blemishes, foundation, some blush-o-temptation for color. A little lipstick. Eye liner. Shadow.

Still needed something.

Rummaging, she found false eyelashes. Perfect.

She stood back and admired her work.

Megan changed into a black suit and set out refreshments.

Family and friends gathered, offering condolences.

“She's beautiful,” the mother said, weeping. “Thank you.”

Megan smiled. This was why she became a mortician.

Steve Wilkins said...

What now? Hips say go straight, however the mind says go....any which way to escape this demented maze. How to leave? How to leave? So much confusion. Shot up with whatever drug that's causing blindness and deafness. Absolute panic is tearing through. A new intersection is felt. Every direction is a betrayal. Heart will be bursting through gut. Which way? The shriek from within in terrifying, and yet it's external. Something is stalking. Grossly panting and deliberately taking it's time to goad me to more hidden depths, possibly insanity. Time to enter hell with a splash.

Kathryn said...

Lawrence shot up off his chair. He was certain he saw those whippersnappers in his yard again. Probably lost their ball for the umpteenth time. Typical kids. He headed straight for the door, his guttural voice already shaking the walls. “I thought I told you…” His hand reached for the knob when a soft knock halted his verbal lashing. Who would be knocking on his door? Two pairs of bright eyes greeted him: one set blue, one set brown. Small hands lifted a bottle of pop to him. Little voices trembled, “May your Christmas be merry and Sprite.”

french sojourn said...


In our guts, we knew space was limitless, but it’s lack of providence doomed us. Some prat thought it would be a good idea whipping an expeditionary force around Neptune. So, they lashed three Russkie T-744-Tangos to a Star Dreadnought, for a Goddamned flyby.

Straight off, we lost six…in the first month. Lead-poisoning. Self-inflicted headshots. Nine years, and we’re halfway back, there’s twelve of us left. Out of a crew of 116. There’s twelve.

See; the further out you go, fewer people are left waiting back home. Nine years for us was eighty-three back on earth.

Three Godforsaken years left.

Melissa Guernsey said...

A deep guttural voice alerted her senses. The image of a dimpled chin and cut abs shot through her memory. She turned and watched him charm powerful guests while marginal women clamored for his attention.

“He’s smooth, do you think he’s gay?” Her friend whispered.

“Straight,” her voice breathy. “It’s Ivy League polish.”

She’d dreamed of this night. When he left the party, she followed, using her scarf to conceal her face. Catching him in the parking garage, she cooed, “Hello, Whiplash.”

He turned, his face registering surprise, recognition, and horror. “Tendinitis?”

She fired her shiny Glock first this time.

CynthiaMc said...

"I hate kids," I told my boss.

He gave me his I-don't-give-a-damn look.

"TattooGirl, MohawkBoy, witness protection. Got it."

They played I Spy...from Wisconsin to Texas.

Chewy the chihuahua sat in my lap.

Joy.

We were leaving a diner when Dude pulled a gun.

"Kids, get in the van," he said.

Inside my coat, Chewy growled.

"Run!" I yelled.

Chewy headed straight for him.

Dude got whiplash dodging the furry buzzsaw.

His shot went wild.

Mine didn't.

"You've got guts," I told Chewy. Kissed him on the head.

Hate kids. Nothing but trouble.

Love my dog.

Best partner ever.


stacy said...

I’d staunched the blood hours before, so it was 2:00 a.m. before we stopped for gas. The wind lashed at and cut our faces like a whip. The kiosk didn’t work, so I had to go inside—which was fine, Roland said. Better to pay in cash. Unmarked bills don’t leave a trail.

The first shot missed me by a foot, the second by inches. The next thing I knew Roland was straight in front of me. He drew and the kid went down, face first.

That’s when, gutless, I ran. I got away, officer. You gotta believe me.

Michael J. Craft said...

Autumn walked the straight path to the shaded woods.

“Are you going utterly insane?” Winter asked. “You can’t just wish Othello back into your life.”

Autumn turned. The forest’s grotesque mouth waited to swallow her. “I have to see. I have to know. Whip Masters crack at the soul of my subconscious mind.”

“Otthello is gone.”

Autumn bent down and picked through some dead leaves. Suddenly, from the tree’s shadows a light grew. Something small. A shining beacon. Autumn ran. “Othello,” she sang out. “Othello?” Her voice slowly faded to the sound of silence.

Winter’s head slumped. “I’ll miss you.”