Friday, August 26, 2011

"Sounds like PANIC to me" Writing Contest!

There are two kinds of people in NYC today: those who are panicking about the incoming storm, and those of us annoyed by the hysteria.  To give everyone something else to think about for a couple days, let's have a writing contest!

The prize is a good one: THE CUT by George Pelecanos.  (It's f/ing AMAZING!!)

Rules for the contest are a little different this time.

Write a story using 150 words or fewer (note the word count change from the usual 100).  Use at least three sets of homonyms (words that sound the same) from the list below.

(Example Noah built an ark using his arc and straight edge)

Bonus points given if you use the homonym sets of three or four words. (Example: She heaved a sigh at the handsome hunk from Planet Xi who made her heart compress at 36 psi)

Use ONLY the homonyms from the list below.









Contest opens at 10am tomorrow (Saturday 9/27)  It runs through 10am Sunday (9/28).

Post your entry in the comments column of this blog. Enter only once.  If you make a mistake delete your entry and post again.

Don't post comments that aren't entries.

If you have questions about this contest you can tweet to me @janet_reid
If you have questions and you don't know what "tweet to me" means, check out

Ready? Set! WRITE!  sorry, too late. Contest closed now.


Patrick DiOrio said...

Sioux City.
Write it down: a life’s not worth a sou here with hell to pay after the cut to that final turnaround, that slue, and another hard revolution down by the river where the dead men lay.

For the Night Gardener this was right as rain, no friggin’ drama city, no slew of regrets, just a long slow slide to that soul circus in the sweet forever. Not a sou to his name in a shack to shame the devil.

Smack deep in the big blowdown.

Sue ‘Shoedog’ Wright, after Nick’s trip, came to wale that monkey. A rite of passage to rein in that whale, slough it off. A painful wail, sweats. No good. The spike, the smack, would reign supreme. Couldn’t beat the King, ‘Suckerman’, he called it, and knew he was lost.

A last sough, and then he lay still. He had found the way home.

Violet Ingram said...

I knew exactly where the book I was going to write should go. The store would place it on the center shelf, a little to the right. The book was about the rite of passage of the great Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Edward said...

Rain poured down around them. Sargent Smith wished he could rein in whatever reigned in the skies and kept bringing the storms. Half of his men were gone. He looked past the water dripping off of his helmet at the fresh graves. At least they are dry, he thought to himself.

Next to him Corporal Johnson sat on an ammo box not knowing whether he could prevent the weather from ruining the letter he was working on. He avoided the details of the casualties. Instead he sent birthday wishes home to his father.

“Johnson, do me a favor,” the Sargent barked. “Write this down, right here, on this spot. Tell everyone back home that we completed our rite, we were given the tools and we worked hard. Tell them you came here an apprentice, but you will leave this place a master wright.”

Beth Overmyer said...

A Sioux SOU student is to sue United Airline passengers for soughing. "From the sound, I thought the plane was going to crash," writes A. Bov-Board on Twitter. "Lol. I mean, WTF? They had no right. It's not like sighing on a plane is a rite of passage. ROFL!" She then goes on to complain about the in-flight massage chair.

No doubt the Wright brothers are rolling in their graves… no lol'ing.

Matthew said...

The faux weather report told me whether today would be the day the weatherman would be my foe. Since he was wrong this made a fissure between the fisher and the weatherman. Instead of sun, the rain falling from the sky was beginning to reign over our lives as we had to rein the horses in on the Ark. At the same time we had to bail out a moldy bale of hay out of the arc of the Ark so the horses wouldn’t get sick. Then I began to wail, "Damn, I can’t remember if I was watching the wale of the ocean or if I was watching a whale swim through the old dam of ore, when I broke my oar." "Next time, to keep it right, I will write it down; to remember will be a rite of passage for me,” whispered the ship wright.

Anonymous said...

Rain was thundering down, the night I met Death.

I was at my writing desk when he came in, silent and dark and terrible. Outside my window the endless water drowned my garden, dammed in by stone walls. I looked quickly away, reining in my despair. "I know why you're here," I said.

"Do you," Death replied, more gently than I could have imagined.

"And it's not right. I've been damned for years and I figure I may as well reign in Hell as here. I have a chess set --"

"No," said Death. "Do not ask me that."

"You don't have a choice," I told him, pointing at chalk symbols on the floor. "I invoke the rite of challenge."

"Then you will lose," said Death, "either way. I have to take someone."

"Yes," I said, smiling wanly at him, "I know. Play, soulwright."

Anonymous said...

Row! Damn the oars that heave and sigh. The wail of the sea tells me that the weather's going to change boys.

Row! To the right, to the right! This ain't no sashay boys, this is a sprint.

Row! The waves are no dam against this rain, whether we stay or go. No whale surfaces here, although they are friend, not foe.

Row! This is a rite of passage, from boys to men you'll be if we reach the shore. Slough off your fatigue and think of your favorite gal, we don't want to have to bail these boats.

Row! The reign of the Lady of the Sea is fierce boys, she's slew many before us with wale upon wale on their flesh, her sachet of salt scent tells me so.

Row! I'll write the truest tale when we make it boys and raise a glass to you, so row!

ed said...

Minnesota not New York.

Here migrating monarchs arc, not arked skyscrapers twisting against wind. Hay bales sit outside this small town; we bail water in basements, a faux foe in hot nights.

In New York fishers prepare bait to cast into giant concrete fissures that marshall themselves to guide random sealife to anxious hooks while Minnesota contemplates martial amendments restricting who sashays with their sachets.

We limit words in feared or political weather becoming wethers. I’ve castrated sheep--testicular ore now oarless--”18 psi” sighed that male, “xi” screamed the closed bull market.

Allow rain, free rein to reign, to slue slews of us into the slough of hurricanes, great recessions, to wail with whales against these whips and wales, to become the wright who writes the right rite, to give a sou to the Soiux and sue those who refuse to sough and damn the dams of our words.

Steve Forti said...

Marshal Marshall marshaled martial artists through the back door. “Hurry, and stay quiet.” Moments earlier, they had been sparring against faux foes in their nearby dojo, but now Marshall needed their help fighting these ecoterrorists intent on blowing up this damn dam.

“A single fissure in the right spot could be catastrophic,” Jenkins muttered. “And then…”

“Say goodbye to that town of fishermen and wheelwrights.”

He’d once heard a whale wail as it crashed into the wale of an old ark, but the sound of the bomb exploding was far worse on the ears. It was topped only by the groaning of buckling supports as the water burst through in arcs bound for the stream below.

Marshall cringed, then opened his eyes, realizing it wasn’t the bomb. A production assistant had tripped, knocking over a ladder and sending a pitcher of water flying across the room.

“Cut!” the director sighed.

Po1s0n said...

Xi sighed as he led the wether, with its back full of unrefined ore, through the tight walls of the new fissure. Every year or so, a dragon would use psi powers to break the dam. The dragon never completely shattered the damn thing but always broke it in the same spot each time. If this spot was not taken care of immediately, it would continue breaking steadily, and within a few months, would fall apart and flood the town underneath, which wouldn’t even be good for the town fishers. He came across a dwarf holding a paddle. “What are ye doing w’ dat oar?”

“I’m gonna use ‘er to pat down da mud! What else?”

Sheeba flew high above the dam, bored of this game. She focused hard on the fissure, and the dwarves scrambled to the edges as the middle came apart. If any survived, she ate them.

Anonymous said...

Wright's sweating. He's failed his wizarding exam twice already. If he doesn't write the right rite this time, he'll be expelled.

He knew he wasn't smart enough. He's only here because he's half Sioux and his father threatened to sue the academy for discrimination, bleeding them to the last sou, if his son wasn't admitted.

He should become a fisher. No, he'd get a fissure from maneuvering an oar all day. Or a marshal? But the whole country's under martial law. He'd bail within a week. Ore miner doesn't appeal either, whether it'd keep him safe from rough weather or not. Turtle breeder? His brother has a nice bale...

There's a sough as he swings his wand in an arc, hoping the Enchanted Ark will appear.

"Damn, I didn't dam the flow of black magic!" is his last thought as a shark jumps out of thin air and devours him.

Oliver Davies said...

The prow of the ark traced an arc to the sky as Noah placed a bale onboard and prepared to bail. “Damn” he murmured as he glanced at his hastily constructed dam, faux wood worktops stacked up to resist his watery foe. It had felt right to write ‘Rite of Passage’ on the side of the ark to celebrate his wright but, as the weather worsened, he didn’t know whether the wether would make it, even if the other sheep did. Rain cascaded down and he had to rein in a desire to launch into his forty day reign of the seas. He had no oar or sail, no engine powered by ore, but instead a whale; its bridle raising a wale and causing it to wail but he knew it was a small price to pay. It was time to go.

Bruce Thole said...

“Leave?” Fay sashayed towards the exit. “I’m not just going to bail out on you Frank, I’m going to Christian Bale.”

Frank caught her by the wrist and unsheathed a fissure of teeth before he wrenched her against him. “I need a real hot fisher to reel this guy in.” He caressed her cheekbone with his crude hand. “If you sink your hook into this guy, he’ll pop like a dam of cash!” He squeezed her face and pursed her venomous lips outward. “Now you take your little bag o’ tricks and hop on over to his table, work your magic.”

She wiggled out of his grip and rubbed her face. “It’s a sachet Frank. No tricks. No magic.”

“Come on bitch, for me?”

A scornful look in her eyes she provided her answer, “Eat shit Frank.” And out the door she pranced.

He grinned. Bait, line, and soon sinker.

Michael G-G said...

The Fairly Odd Mother

“Granted.” The Godmother’s wand tapped the drag queen’s hand. “Next!”

“What the hell?’ The drag queen ripped apart the sugar sachet impaled on one of her rings. “Call this the perfect sashay? Shit, what a waste of an hour.”

“You gets what you gets. You don’t make a fuss.” The ferocious wart on the Godmother’s chin jiggled. “Next, for God’s sake!”

The guy in line pushed up his coke bottle glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. The Godmother ignored him, moving her wand around her desk until she found the perfect spot. Without looking up, she said, “You write, right?”

“Actually, I’m a priest.”

“Getaway! That kind of rite? Or are you Fr. Wright? Well, whatta you want?”

“Good weather. For the church picnic…”

“Granted.” Another wand flick. A ram, looking anything but horny, sideswiped the priest.

“There’s your wether.” The Godmother beamed. “Celibate, just for you. Next!”

Just Jan said...

Silence reigned over the breakfast table. A fisher had come through during the night and killed most of our chickens. The few survivors had scattered into the woods, leaving us with an empty barnyard.

Granddad picked at the brains on his plate, letting the yolk from his fried egg congeal in the fissures of what used to be our old wether. "Go collect your reins, boy."

"You can't send him out in this rain," my mother protested. "He'll catch his death."

"Weather be damned, woman!" Granddad pounded his fist hard enough to make the dishes jump. "I ain't never been bested by no critter, and I ain't fixin' to start now."

I gulped down the last of my milk and wiped my mouth on my shirt sleeve. "Where shall I ride to, sir?"

"Get yourself down to the dam. Tell that old trapper we got a job for him."

Lori Ann Stephens said...

She stood on the pier and faced the sea that whipped its fury against her cheeks. She would not budge, whether hurricane or whale lunge for her, or the indignant weather leave its wale across her flesh. She wailed. Thrust her fist in the air and cried “Whore!” to the sea that had devoured him.

Her fisher, who three days ago had left this pier and his hook in her heart, and was swallowed by his bride-sea.

A fissure in her heart widened, but she reined the two halves together. The sea would not reign her, would not strike an oar across her shaking calves and send her tumbling into the violent, black-ore depths.

“You have his flesh,” she shouted into the deafening rain. “But I have his soul. It was me he gazed at when you pulled him down to your cold bed. Behind his eyelids, it was me.”

nomad said...

She was right to tell her idiot boss, Fisher Wright, about the fissure. While he moped about like a wether, she watched weather. An arc of rain pelted the door, reminding her that his reign was coming to an end- and she was going to need an ark if she didn’t escape soon.
The outlying areas, already a slough, were going to fill with a slew of rush hour traffic before too long. She let out a sigh, if the public only knew that the psi of the new concrete was insufficient.
Sue pulled her lucky sou from her drawer, as the sough of trees reminded her that the wind was picking up. She needed to make a decision. She needed to get home to Marshall before the onslaught of martial law. She hit the alarm and headed for the door. They were getting out before the damn dam burst!

Stephanie Evans said...

Five of us huddled under a tarp as our hunting trip was spoiled by a cold downpour and Rhane Mackenzie’s endless Shaggy Dog story about the Dakota Drought of 1842 being magically ended when a French fur trapper wrote down a crazy tale about an iron-maker who became a king because of the magic powers of the sound made by the wind rustling through his horse’s bridle.
“Nature abhors a vacuum,” interrupted Willie, chiding him for filling the silence with words.
“Judging from your escapades,” responded Mackenzie, “I’d say nature abhors a virgin!” And he smoothly brought his joke to a climax: two lines of doggerel and a concluding triple-pun of incredible noxiousness.
“ ‘For a sou of the reign of the wright
And the sough of his rein I will write’
Has become a Sioux rain rite!”
It’s OK to sue Rhane, right?

That Neil Guy said...

I grew up here in Sioux City, without a sou to my name. Every day spent trying to rein a fissure of honey into tiny Sue Bee bottles, coming home with sticky fingers, praying for rain to wash it into the sough. Dreaming of building a dam to stop the perpetual flow, drowning in sweetness, unable to bail myself out. Sweet to everyone, friend or foe. Sweet as I could be.

And here you are at my door, a so-called fisher of men, claiming you’re right, that I should join your ancient rite, that your god should reign over my heart into the sweet by and by. Well write this down, buddy. Unless you’re some kind of wright who can bale my broken dreams into a sachet of gold, I don’t give a damn about you. You can just sashay on home. My sweetness is real. Your sweet is faux.

Regina Castillo said...

The Fab Five

Days are never without incident at my home. I have five fabulously wonderful boys. Their ages are 12, 8, 6, 4, & 2. Can you see the stair steps and what about the stares we get when we go out? They run and play most of the day. Occasionally, I can get them to act right by sitting them down at the table to write their letters and words. They are amazingly active and fun to be around, until were sitting on a bale of hay and one of them decides to bail. Momma’s not quiet quick enough at times. We did have a problem at Sea World watching the whale show, what happens but the four year old left a wale on the 2 year old who began to wail uncontrollably. Boy, my life is something special. How would you like to trade for a day?

Kate Outhwaite said...

“What bloody use is a wether?” Fisher looms over me. Spittle dots my face as he drops his voice and snarls, “We don’t need another unproductive mouth to feed.”

The baby starts to wail - my husband’s usual cue to leave.

Climbing into the Land Rover, he says, “Your father would ha’ had it slew in a heartbeat.” He drives off, revving the engine so hard that the wheels slue, spraying mud and gravel.

It starts to rain again as I cross Home Field to the house, and I wonder at how quickly a tiny fissure can become a gulf you could hide a whale in.

In the dry, I settle the baby and slough the layers of wet clothing. The wale on my arm is fading now, but the bruising looks worse. The pregnancy test is still positive.

I bolt the doors. A change in the weather is overdue.

Morgana Swift said...

The marshal peered in the direction of the river and the dam. She now knew their foe had attested behind that line, all too well. They were almost within firing distance.
Under the pelting rain, she realized that allowing herself to be lured there had been a terrible faux pas. Could she gain the position? Perhaps, losing almost all her men.
“Damn!” she whispered to herself. All the bureucrats of the reign would surely gloat at her failure. But sacrificing the lives of others out of pride was not on her agenda.
She steered her horse, a little too abruptly, closing her grip and yanking at the rein. She would turn back, and face court martial.

Mark Murata said...

Rain. The fourteenth year of the reign of Great Timarchus, who slew the Ur-panther, and what do we have to show for it? Dishing around in this slough for yellow ore, when we should have been training the men in the ten martial disciplines, or at least marching.

Rain again. The wether wool of each man’s cape is soaked, useless. “Hey Pelius, give us an oar to walk through this rain, eh?” Pelius gets that funny look. He talks of planting faux ore, then watching Timarchus’ adjutant slue around like some clumsy mast.

The weather breaks. I look up. The lead regiment of our foe, the Tregidain, marches in. Of course. No regiments here. Just pans full of sodden pebbles. I approach their field marshall, arms limp. I gesture with the rein that should have led my bronze-armored steed.

“Here,” I say. “Hang Timarchus with it.”

Anonymous said...

Once there was a little girl, Lilah Wright, who thought it was a rite of passage to sit and write by her window as she watched the world go by. Seeing somebody trudging ahead with a slew of groceries, she would slue the swivel chair she was sitting in and imagine herself trying to get through a slough. Whether it was because all her ancestors before her had done this, particularly when the weather was bad and outside play was impossible, or whether it was because she was simply the dramatic type, no one really knew. What was clear was she could not rein in her creativity, especially on days there was rain, eventually making her reign of literary artistry well known throughout the land.

Anonymous said...

Gulrik Bundy never had a chance when the weather hit. The clouds would come, and he’d run to get the oar out of the back of his shack. He’d sashay with the damn thing all over town, a sachet of ore swinging from his neck. His goal had always been the shore, where he’d stand as still as a wale to wail about the bloodthirsty whale he’d seen ten years ago. We’d roll our eyes. We’d do our business, never questioning why Gulrik acted the way he did. We questioned whether or not he’d ever use the oar.
The second Orit sniffed rain, we’d place our bets. I’d bring my loose change. Little Moby would bring his faux money. We’d all wait, hoping to be rich.
One day, Gulrick did go after his foe, minus the boat. He sank to the bottom of the dam, and Little Moby cashed in.

Brittany Melson said...

Cultural Contribution

I took a cruise down the Yangzi River and lost my favorite damn baseball cap on the way to a tour of the Three Gorges Dam. I didn’t know whether I lost it because of the windy weather or because of my too-small head, but I watched helplessly as it arced over the side of the ship, skimmed the water, and fell into the wake of an ancient-looking wooden ark rowed by three Chinese fishers with oars. The hat continued floating down the muddy river until it bumped into a fissure in the side of a jagged mountain range where rope-shoed men mined for ore. One of the workers picked it up, shook it off, and placed it on his head, shielding his deep-brown skin from the relentless summer sun.

Angie said...

The sioux slew the boar, slit its belly, then tossed intestine in the slough. Dingos snarled, guts splattered.

Sue removed few sou from her sachet but the savage demanded bourbon, he reigned.

Bottle and beast exchanged, Sue snapped the reins, damned if she be caught in hurricane Irene's rain.

When the mule sashayed, the carriage slued and her taffeta skirts soughed.

"Giddy-up! We must get back to the dam or Marshal Xi will flog us with the oar." She sighed. "He should see a psi." But rules were martial and the boar was ore.

christwriter said...

The weather was the fissure in my relationship with Dad. My step mom, the new Mrs. Fisher, had turned him into a wether. I kept waiting for him to put his oar in, but either he wouldn’t or she got there first. Serves him right, not knowing good ore from dross. We picked up a bale of burlap, made our way home. Mom had left all her money to me, and Mrs. Fisher’s prayer was to find my safe key before I bailed.
The marshal met us a block from our house. She was in his back seat. “You can’t go to your house, guys. The road’s washed out, and it’ll be martial law soon.”
“I left our jeep back there!” She screamed.
It was my jeep. I smiled. “I’ll get it.”
The safe key was in the glove box. I got to Highway 6 and I never looked back.

(P.S. Janet, you made me learn a new word! Wether=castrated goat. Also, something MSWord doesn't recognize as a real word.)

Aldous Mercer said...

His unfinished book, he’d said, was a sough caught between the wail of literary pretension and the whale of historic butchery. It came to him in Walmart - a picture book with faux Sioux striking a martial pose behind a foe. Wearing sunglasses! He started calling himself a word-wright. So she wasn’t doing this for money – he hadn’t earned a sou since college. She was doing this for the right to see his face as he sat there, under the Marshal’s eye, day after day, and was patted down for pens in lockup at night. He couldn’t do anything – court proceedings were like a pagan rite for a proper Methodist, something to be watched on TV in self-righteousness. But by the end, every half-finished dialogue raised a wale on her soul. So she had to do this. Because all he’d wanted to do was write.

Rick Anderson said...

At 140, white lines on the Manitoba highway shrink to dots in the rearview mirror. The wail of Hemi and Metallica exterminate the tranquil sough, then moves on, leaving it to rot like Custer’s suzerain servants in the merciless sun.

The horizon is dotted with tombstones of the past. Abandoned houses sigh under the weight of their decay, sitting empty like the silhouetted wale of forgotten swing sets.

Rusted junkers measure zero psi of hope like the sons who bailed-out long ago.

Weeds cover fields that once housed whale sized mounds of hay, baled by hand and horse into arks of shelter against winter’s brutal martial law.

I rein in my thoughts and marshal my attention on the accelerator then steer across the arcing plane, wishing I had flown.

Anonymous said...

By rite of passage, publicist Sue Sykes is playwright Xi Sioux’s foe, ignoring his writerly soughs and sighs while, rightfully, spinning his psilocybin-inspired faux prose into gold—though they aren’t worth a sou.

The erstwhile fisherman caused a fissure in Texas with his biblical travesty, “Behind Noah’s back.” In an improbable character arc, Noah wails at a whale over a dent in the Ark’s wale, and later, sashays about sniffing a rose sachet.

If that didn’t break the right-wing audience’s dam of decorum, what followed damn well did, resulting in the court marshal’s martial pose that forced actors writhing on soggy baled hay to bail.

It wasn’t clear whether the men dressed as wethers bleated due to weather theatrics, or, according to Ore City testimony, copulation with an oar. Regardless, sheep humping on a slough during a rainstorm reigned uninterrupted until cops slue the paddle, igniting Sykes’ slew of publicity.

Laura said...

I knelt down on the tile floor, swiped an arc through the powdery substance, and dabbed it on the tip of my tongue. It was better than I’d hoped.

“What the hell are you doing?” Gertrude barked.

“What?” I wailed.

“I just stepped on that!” Gertrude shouted. “You’re disgusting.”

I couldn’t help it. I loved Sweet Tarts. And this diet she had me on was getting ridiculous. Any time Gert thought she looked like a whale, I was the one to suffer. She snatched a wooden spoon from the counter and waled on me with it.

One thing I knew about menopause, when it rained it poured, and without an ark in sight, I was doomed to live under the reign of Dr. Oz and his latest rein-in-your-fat-ass eating plan.

Reluctantly, I climbed to my feet, my mind lingering on that tiny disc of deliciousness beneath me, and slumped away defeated.

wry wryter said...

I must write about its wail; a haunting sound of utter distress. The length of an oar, the baby whale helplessly thrashed in the shallow surf; we tried to push him out to deeper water. As he fought us, to remain beached, a nasty wale rose across my cheek. How could something so magnificent seek death? Was he suffering some kind of life ending rite? How did he know to swim to where the water ended?

As we tired, he too rested, on his right side motionless, as if to say I’ve had enough, let me go.

Doctor Ore, from The Wright Aquarium, was the first to hear the high pitched music of the mother, singing to her baby on the beach.

“Quickly,” he said, “push the baby into deeper water before his mother leaves, or joins him on the beach.”
We heaved. We cheered. We cried. He swam.

Caleb said...

Short Story
“What right do you have to write a rite like that,” Wright said.
“I’m with the fraternity, Psi Xi,” Strawberry said with a sigh.
“How do you plan on making bail;l bale hay?” Wright said.
“I’m going to work at that damn Dam,” Strawberry said.
“Have you watched the weather to see whether it is going to rain or shine, this weekend?” Strawberry asked.
“Shuddup!” Strawberry, “You’re a faux foe if every I had one.”
“That makes him your friend,” Raspberry chimed as she donned a sashay, fanning herself with a sachet.
“He wants to go to Sioux Falls to Jensen for every sou he ever made,” David said as he gave a sough.
“That’s a whale of a story,” Strawberry said with a wail as he rubbed his nails in the wale of his corduroys. “Should I beat you with an oar ore or a wooden one?”

Sherfey Keller said...

It was impossible to tell who was infected.

None of them looked alike, but they all sounded the same.

The human they used to be would wail quietly from inside, but you could only hear it when you were right next to one of them. I heard it now. I was the whale, the one they hoped to capture. I didn't have to dam the flood of panic anymore. I was too tired to be scared. Fatigue was a rite of this passage. Damn, I wanted to write a goodbye. I needed a way to make my voice permanent before it was reduced to a moan. But there was no way. So I sat in the darkness. In the last few minutes, my fingers traced the wale of my corduroy pants as my mind imagined I was anywhere but Wright County.

C. Swift said...

“Bale more hay? You’re kidding.” Every summer, Mom’s new husband tortures his sons with character-building projects. This year, she decided I should participate—whether I want character or not.

“Oh, quit wailing, Princess.”

I glare at my new “brother.” He hasn’t been shy about letting me know I’m not “tough enough” to be a Johnson. I’m too sore to punch him, so I rein in my temper.

He continues, “You didn’t spend last summer whaling. The boat was ancient—made with old wooden wales—and was about as watertight as a sieve. We had to bail out the boat every time it rained! And the coast had the worst weather in fifty years.”

Dear God.

“Or the summer we castrated goats…nothing like a hundred sad-eyed wethers staring at you to ruin your summer.”

“Princess” suddenly doesn’t sound so bad. Forever may I reign.

Writers Ottoman said...

“Why in the world would anyone put marshmallows between their toes?” I asked.

“Why would anyone bail someone out with a bale of one dollar bills?” he replied as if it were obvious to everyone seated in Doctor Fang’s waiting room. “People just do it.”

I wanted nothing to do with his white mushy toe fungus and even less to do with his interaction… if that was possible.

“Tic Tac?” he asked holding the miniscule clear plastic box toward me.

“No thanks,” I said, “I’m trying to write the right information on...”

“Correct information,” he said.

I nearly mashed blue ink through the paper trying to scratch out my misspelled street address. I wanted to wail on him until he wailed; I wanted to marshal that martial of dextrose-laden confectionary podiatry outside.

“You know this is a vet’s office, right?!” I yelled.

“It’s cool,” he said, “They’re marshmallow peeps.”

Patty Blount said...

He'd given our last sou to the ship wright and now walked the wales, inspecting her for leaks. Time was short; the marshal a week behind us.

I watched him move, black hair riding the wind. He caught my eye, picked his way toward me still standing on the dock. I took his hand and he spun me until I stood beside him, on the rough planks of the worn whale boat that would be our home for the next several months. Or our deaths.

Whatever came first.

"My husband," I traced the scar on his right cheek, the scar he bore with martial dignity since the Sioux puberty rite.

"My Sue," He smiled, reaching for his marriage token, an amulet proudly circling my neck. "I will keep you safe."

The wind rose from sough to wail. No matter what laws white men write, I would be with him.

Judy G said...

Meet Janet Reid, Paranormal Weather Marshal, a martial arts foe who’s never met an arc of high pressure, heavy rain, or sucky slough she couldn’t rein in. Or reign over. She’s slain a slew of vampires. And hosted ghosts, like Frank Lloyd Wright and his bale of plans. And Noah’s damn ark of faux sharks. What about whales? She’s an expert fisher. Guess who saved the boy with his finger stuck in the dam fissure? So sue her wide-wale cords-covered ass for wailing and soughing about how she slue Sioux, stole their sachet of ore, hit the kid with an oar, and (sigh) called Noah a wether. She doesn’t care, they bailed on her when they discovered she didn’t have a sou to spare. She’ll sashay away, knowing psis exist, looking to the Xi Cygni for the right inspiration to help writers write through their query rite.

Andrea Wenger said...

I scurried along the rain-slicked sidewalk. Good weather for whales, I thought. The rain quickened and the wind wailed. I wondered whether to turn back, but I couldn’t face the weekend without my Macallan.

I darted into the liquor store. Finding the bottle, I got into line. I sighed. My ears hurt from the low pressure. 29.3 millibar, the barometer had said. I wondered what that was in psi.

I spotted Kate, from my old writing group, in front of me. She wore her pink Kappa Xi sweatshirt. I asked about her novel.

“I couldn’t find an agent. I’m writing a play.”

Right, I thought, because playwrights are more in demand than novelists. Then I thought of the hours I’d wasted critiquing her manuscript.

In that moment, I resolved to polish my query over the weekend and send it to five more agents. Maybe 43rd time would be the charm.

Linda Jo Hunter said...


Curiosity landed on my sleeve wearing a butterfly costume. Not one to linger she lifted off to marshal her airspace, looking for a foe. She showed me her wings with the faux eyes looking so sinister. She twirled round my head slashing with her feet in a display of martial thrusts. Ever curious, I wondered whether a butterfly costume would last in a hurricane. You see, curiosity only grows big enough to notice the weather if there is something she wants. I have reined in my curiosity so she is small enough to play butterfly and be my reigning queen only in idle hours. However, she can grow to a monster as big as the moon in the time it takes a drop of rain to run down your windshield if she simply must know.

Shaunna said...

Two days after the funeral, I stop by to get her stuff. Her room's been taken, so an irreverent, young nurse sashays past me to a closet full of dead people's things: moldy suitcases, pasteboard boxes filled with costume jewelry, old vinyl collections. The sachets of dried lavender and bergamot tied to the shelves can't hide the smell of decay.

"Mrs. Wright, right?" asks the nurse, sniggering. Mom's name always was her greatest foe.

"Yes," I say.

She hands me a clipboard so I can write a list of things Mom left behind. It's a last rite of passage, but I can't tell if it's hers or mine.

I glance in my mother's box, her voice whispering in my head, "I lived. These doilies and faux glass miniatures are all that's left, but they are a final testament of the hundred million heartbeats and hundred thousand breaths I once took."

A. J. Larrieu said...

There he was, in those same wide-wale corduroys he’d worn on their last date. He hadn’t seen her yet. Mandy ducked deeper into the booth, looking down and using her pencil to dam off a puddle of condensation from her water glass.

“So, you want to go?” asked Aaron.

“Huh?” She’d forgotten he was there.

“I just asked you about going whale-watching tomorrow.”

“Oh. Sure.”

He started to elaborate, but she’d already tuned him out, remembering the day she’d stumbled onto Jim’s farm in Calistoga. He’d been leading a wether from a paddock to a weather-beaten barn. She’d parked her bright red Jetta on the road and asked for directions, and, well, one thing had led to another. Thinking about it now made her want to wail like an infant. Maybe he wouldn’t see her.

“Hey,” said a voice, too deep to be Aaron’s.

“Damn,” said Mandy, and looked up.

Bratty said...

“Damn it, how can you write stuff that isn’t true? You’re as bad as Fox News.” Right now she wanted to wring Wright’s neck.

“Don’t worry so much. Christ, you’re like a dam that’s about to burst. All over some stupid Scottish temple rite.”

She rolled her eyes. “An until recently undiscovered rite – of historical significance I might add.”

Wright stroked a finger down his chin. “So who’s going to know if I gave free reign to my imagination? All I added was a little nudity, some candle wax, and a belly dancer.”

She threw up her hands. “Is nothing sacred to you? I’m hoping the bureau chief can rein you in.”

In two steps he blocked her exit. “Don’t rain on my parade, Elise. This could be good,” he traced a finger along her collar bone and she shivered at the touch. “For both of us.”

“Step aside, Wright.”

Eliza Tilton said...

It’s not right that as my last dying rite, I’m stuck inside this whale. The wind blows and I wail, furious that I didn’t go in the ark. I really will try and whether this storm, but the loud wether next to me is smiling weird and I think an arc of belly bile just whizzed past my head. Whether it’s my time to reign as the last of my kind, or wither away, I have no choice but to wait. So, I’ll write my journey down and slip it in this bottle. It’ll be better than James Arlington Wright!

Hours have passed and a slew of pigeons have joined me. Not only do I feel like I’m in a slough, but the area has become stagnant and putrid. The sheep stopped smiling and I don’t think it’s a good sign. Come on Irene!

Jilly McGilly said...

Welsh Mermaids

Taking the old dingy out to sea was a Wright family rite of passage, but Adam regretted his choice. The crashing waves couldn’t drown out his daughter’s wails.

“I wanna go home.”

“Damn,” Adam muttered. He set his oar into the water, tried to navigate back towards the shore. Maybe next year he’d try smaller, and take her out on the lake by Jones dam. Jessica was scarcely old enough to write her own name. Too young for sailing.

“Daddy, look,” Jessica said. “Mermaids.”

In the distance, Adam could see a trio of tails, gray as iron ore, rise and fall in the water. “No, honey. They’re whales. Right whales.”

Jessica started crying again. “But I want to see mermaids.”

Adam sighed. “Or, maybe they’re mermaids.”

Jessica stopped crying. “Where are they headed?”

“To a magical mermaid land.”

“Where, Daddy?”

Adam squinted his eyes and looked eastward. “Wales.”

The Randomist said...

The marshal declared martial law when Santa took the reins in the rain because it was a reign of terror.

Down below, the local fisher found a fissure in his boat and panicked because the damn dam had crumbled, leaving him to man his ore powered boat with only an oar or let himself drift. He tried valiantly to bail the boat but used a bale of hay to plug the leak.

The captain let out a wail as he spotted a whale trying to attack him over the gunwale. His harpoon flew in an arc and he saved his ark. After a narrow escape he turned an eye to the weather to decide whether or not to stay. He headed for Rite-Aid to find the right way to write of the Wright brother’s flight. He left with a sashay as he tucked away his sachet, retiring for the night.

Anonymous said...

He knew the sound was born of pain, still the wail provided a measure of relief. He studied the babe. Though no pattern of wales would ever appear on the smooth dark skin, this one, too, would know the stings of hatred and fear. Would bear the cost of trying to rein in a people filled more with resentment than hope.

The child gazed up, and He looked into knowing eyes that were the color of whalebone. His reign would continue.

The mother, nearing her final breaths, listened. With your rain of tears, you have fulfilled your part. They will write of your sacrifice and it shall be remembered. His voice had steadied her during the rite of childbirth, now the promise seemed shallow.

His belief of having chosen the right vessel was steadfast. After all, He was a natural soulwright. He gazed upon the child once more.

Welcome Daughter.

J.C. Rey said...

The eyes of my faux foe looked at the whalers of the lost arc on their ark out on the dam. The smashing of one man's oar over another could be heard from a mile away. Whiskey bottles and old man songs and adages clanked throughout the night sky. The baaaa'ing of an old wether sounded like a broken Dolly Parton record.

"Damn. Whether there is no weather or not, I need to figure this out without the rain that will reign down with it's eventual evacuation protocol. It happened once and they had the field Marshal, you, court martial me outta here" he said.

"We have a bale of hay to bail us out from this unsaturated town" I said quietly, but the horse overheard this too. I snapped down the reins on my horse vehicle and off we went to the local sheriff.

C. said...


“Right here.”

Man, only the truly geeky would titter over a homonym.

“Well?” This is what I get for having a 140 IQ, this nerd rite of passage: accelerated English class. “What did you write down?”

“Do I have to?” Stupid question. Gifted classes function under martial law. That’s what happens when you’re smarter than the principal.

“Read it, Wright.”

“Tell the fishers the fissures are widening. That damn dam is going to blow, whether the weather cooperates or not.”

Ms. Marshal sighs. “It is a testament to your apathy that you manage to work a curse word into every lesson.”

“Thanks Ms. M.”

“That wasn’t a compliment.” Which sends the geeks into hysteric snorts. Compliment. A homonym lesson. Yeah.

Man, sometimes I get the feeling Ms. M would rather be teaching a wether than me. Wonder if she’s starting to rethink that upcoming alliteration lesson?

David said...

The rooster cleared his throat just before the first arc of sunlight erased night’s temporary reign. I knew a heat strong enough to bake Ahab’s Whale to its bones would soon follow the pink and yellow rays that fell upon both square feet of my Zen garden.

There was already a wale on my sturdiest hamster, Oar; named for his brown coat, but I cracked my tiny whip against his hide, gave a jerk to his reins.

“Yah!” I yelled. “Peace cannot come until the gravel is spread! Mush, beast!”

Oar wailed, echoing his four brothers and/or sisters. (Determining sex on the furry critters had never been a pleasant thing.)

An oblivious hour passed, and an easy calm washed over me like a cool rain. I took a deep breath, smelled something foul, like sulfur ore.

I saw my steeds were dead, and wondered where the receipt for PetSmart was.

gregkshipman said...

Nothing New in B-More

There’s nothing new to see; the crowd looks anyway. The body by the curb doesn’t move— the dead act that way. People stare as though the Ark of the Covenant is being hauled from the sewer or an arc of electricity surrounds the body.
I glance at the stiff, now a faux being once a former foe— death created both situations.
The stiff used to be Leroy Wright, a hard-core idiot who couldn’t write his name until twenty. He started dealing at ten which in our ‘hood is a rite of passage and now at thirty he’s dead.
The gun on my right side could be problematic. I’m a career criminal on bail and damn cops smell me out like a bale of wet hay. I leave before the dam breaks and accusations flow.
There’s nothing new to see; especially my latest kill.

Lori VanGilder said...

Kelsey didn’t give a damn that the dam broke! She was thrilled. She had been stuck in this hell hole of a podunk town for a whole lot longer than she had ever intended. Just because she had dared to resist his advances, ok be honest, perhaps she used some of her martial arts skills on him in that bar, but she didn’t know he was the Marshal at the time. He had her in this jail, a hostage of his reign of terror ever since. Now she would take back the reins for her life and she was glad for the torrential rain storm causing him to forget about her for a few hours. She didn’t have the money for bail; and she simply wanted to bale out of this town. Once she managed to get the key to the cell she was out of here.

Charlee Vale said...

Marshal slew the snake with one flick of his wrist. Why his, literal, witch of a mother would send him out in this terrible weather and slough, wether or not she needed the skin to mend the fissure in the fisher’s boat was maddening. He grasped a loose rein, slippery from the rain, and mounted his horse. The animal set off with a sashay that betrayed their circumstances, even when his hooves began to slue in the mud. With martial precision Marshall fought to reign in his horse and keep the sachet containing the snake’s corpse dry.

He mumbled; about the dam breaking, the faux materials his mother made him wear, how pathetic a foe a snake was, anything to distract from the damn task at hand. He arrived home cold, wet, and in a foul mood.

“Good. Now go back out, I need the eye of a newt.”

Papillon crew said...

You wouldn’t think a whale could wail, but if I’d waled the gunwale, I’d cry, too. My fault for hiding: no engines meant an invisible boat. I run sails-only, whether the weather is gentle rain soughing through the rigging like a dreaming wether or a damn gale.

It breached, sashaying out of the water like some psionic martial foe, banging down beside Xi Sue. She wasn't fixing the oar, wasn't sewing sachets on the Sailrite; she’d stopped to write another arc of sloughy poetry. My Queen of Sighs reigned through baleful looks and a slew of rejections.

The right whale sought its dam. I marshalled my thoughts, slued the wheel, reined in head-to-wind and ran to the rigging. Shrouds: intact. Hull: fissure-free. No bailing out my ark today – my shipwright knew his business.

But my faux fisher Siouxsie was gone. Well, I didn’t give a sou. I’d mined that ore.

Ari said...

A driving rain ended summer’s reign and the old dam no one seemed to give a flying damn about maintaining had given way. John Fisher tried to rein his frustration as he eyed the fissure in the opposite bank. Stormy weather still raged while his bedraggled flock huddled across the slough, the old wether nowhere in sight and apparently bell-less again.

John remembered last night’s argument with Lily when she charged him with inattention. He had watched her sashay off, the scent of her signature sachet wafting in her wake. She’d spent the rest of evening with Bud—his old high school foe—a predator wearing a faux look of concern.

He made a slew to the left to forestall a slide into the slue. Whoa. Pay attention. Rescue the sheep and worry about the other later.

He wondered if it’s true that troubles come in threes.

Coyotes yipped nearby.

Columbia 60 said...

She sashayed up. The sweet arc of her figure would make a field marshal wail “Damn!” A gap in her fine-wale corduroy blouse revealed a sachet tucked into the fissure between her breasts. “Building an ark?” “Yeah,” I replied, staring at the rain. “We’ll go in two by two and have a whale of a time.” “Look,” she growled. “They declared martial law after that ore was found on the Sioux reservation. Reign of terror. Every faux corporation or government wanted an oar in. I blew the dam. Flooding the site was the only way to rein them in. So sue me. I know I was right.” “I can’t bail you out,” I replied. “Dad’s a fisherman and I write. I’ve barely got a sou.” “Then we run,” she whispered. “We’re not foes. We’ll sit on a hay bale on your big boat while the wind soughs through the rigging.”

Maja said...

Her dress smells of sachet powder. The potpourri scent intoxicates me and I almost reach out and touch her, but in an instant she is sashaying to the end of the metro. A man in a faux leather jacket appears at the door. She lifts her foot off of the ground as she kisses him. My eyes fall to the floor.

When I look back up, my view is blocked; some corpulent matron is waddling around in front of them, looking for a seat and glowering at the teenagers who refuse to stand for her.

They exit and the damn woman sits, and finally I see my love again, and my foe. The door opens and our eyes meet. The dam is broken; I cry out after her but she is gone, pulling him into the sea of people standing on the platform of the station.

Lara Blackadaar said...

"At least tell me how she died." It was difficult to keep from wailing, self-control was never Jeanne's forte, but she reined in her tears until after the marshal left.

The brown-faced Sioux --maybe Mi'kmaq, what did she know about it? --tightened the lacing of the whale bone corset, dragging Jeanne backwards about a foot. That damn woman tied her up so tight her skin looked waled for days afterward. Such was the price for reigning as burlesque queen.

"Found her near the old dam," was all the cop revealed, in a placating sough. "Rain washed away most of the evidence."

Later, dark slender fingers reapplied the make-up she'd cried away.

"We were going to sue them," she whispered. "They did this."

The Sioux --or Mi'kmaq, whatever --were a martial people. Smiling, the woman put the brush down and said, "You get them before they get you."

Nikki Stuckwisch said...

The alarm wailed from the monitor above the bed. “I can’t see the damn vocal cords! Get me some suction! Shit, whoever attacked this guy really waled on him.”

The RT handed the yankauer to Wright, who used it to clear the airway. “I’m in,” he announced, passing the ET tube through. “Alright, let’s get a line going.”
He moved to the patient’s right side. “I need a triple lumen.”

A nurse pushed the curtain aside. “Doctor, the dam has burst out here. We’re overflowing. We need you!”

“I can’t be two places at once! Give me that line!”
Placing a line was a rite of passage. He raced through the procedure. The patient, a whale at the local casino, could now receive the warmed blood he needed.

“To the OR!” shouted Wright. After the patient left, he sat down at the counter, exhausted, to write up the case.

Paris said...

He watched her sashay toward the exit of the bar, noticing the way she swung her black leather sachet. She and her clicking heels seemed to reign despite the happy-hour din. He glanced down at the seat where her form had barely left an impression. She had said only two words to him.

“Follow me.”

It was neither a demand nor sexually inviting. Its seduction came from something else, and it urged him to hand her the reins. So he did.

As he stepped out into the dark street, his eyes were drawn to her figure standing under the nearest streetlight. The light rain seemed to lambaste her in the small area the lamp illuminated.

“Thou thyself art thine own bait: that fish, that is not catch’d thereby, alas! Is far wiser than I,”* he whispered.

She was the fisher, and already a fissure was developing in his piscine heart.

*Quoted from John Donne's "The Bait"

Catherine said...

The popcorn tub slipped. I reached to brush the kernels covering my date's lap.

"I got it." She snatched the napkin from me, smearing the oil spots.

"Faux Reacher," the audience wailed.

Who the hell's this shrimp? The real Jack, a whale of a man, destroys foe with a one-handed martial art hit. This sashaying wether-guy couldn't snap a fisher's neck.

"Tom stuffs sachet cause he's got no junk."

"Wale his ass then drop him in a fissure of hell."

Another cup flew toward the screen, spewing grape soda on my date's white shirt.

The usher rushed toward the manager in the lobby. "Call the Fire Marshal. The audience is about to torch the place."

"Sounds like panic to me."

"Sorry. That was a pretty crappy first date."

"That's for damn sure."

The weathered door slammed in my face. Suck it, Tom Cruise. You ruined my one shot.

Anonymous said...

Rebecca Wright wasn’t getting married.

Not tonight.

She pulled on her horse’s reigns and moved him forward, out into the driving rain. She would write to her parents from wherever she finally settled, tell them that a union with Grayson wasn’t the rite of passage into high society that they thought it was. She had no desire to reign over what amounted to a faux kingdom with a man as detestable as Grayson—always more foe than friend to any woman unfortunate enough to know him.

Now, even harsh weather wasn’t enough to keep her from turning right out onto the road that led out of town. She spurred her horse into a gallop. She would not look back to see whether or not Grayson had lived through the blow to the head she’d given him and somehow followed her.

He might be dead by now.

She hoped he was.