Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #120

Mitchell Allen is choosing our words today. Mitchell says, “This weird list comes by way of an awesome interview of a weird author by a weird writer. Bobby Revell was one of my favorites. He wrote graphic fiction. And I do mean graphic. He interviewed Jeremy Shipp here.” Thanks Mitchell.

Writing prompts cure writer’s block. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, do those too.)

  1. Vaudevillian – One, especially a performer, who works in vaudeville.
  2. Snapping turtle 
  3. Spork
  4. Wielding – To handle (a weapon or tool, for example) with skill and ease.
  5. Ninja
  6. Monkey
  7. Yard
  8. Belly button
  9. Lint
  10. Festival

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t forget to tweet this and share it with your friends.)

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Resources you should check out:
Thesis: Best Damn Theme on the Web
Collective Ink Well: Personalize Your Thesis Theme
Third Tribe Marketing: Marketing done the right way
Story Structure Demystified: Best damn writing book out there

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187 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #120”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Hey Billy! They’s jumpin’ all around the stage like ninja-monkeys playin’ with lint balls in the yard.”

    “We’s at Festival Night at The Harlequin Theater, Bobby. They’s Vaudevillians…that’s what they do. Now pipe down and pass me a salad fork.”

    “Billy, I ain’t never seent a salad fork. All I ever done used in my life was a plastic spork. What it look like?”

    “Don’t know, Bobby. I just always wanted to say that. Ask our waiter.”

    “Which one be ours, Billy?”

    “The one wielding a bulging dance belt under his britches, exposing his belly button with a half-shirt, and lisping like a snapping turtle done bit off part of his tongue.”

  2. Tanja Cilia says:

     
    Monkey see, monkey do-o-o… dum dum dum…. a spork is kinda like a runcible spo-o-o-o-n…. in the middle of the yard danced the buffo-o-o-on…”  sang the wannabe vaudevillian as he pried the lint out of his belly-button with his dirty pinkie finger-nail and flicked it at the snapping turtle. Meanwhile, the ninja with the long memory and short fuse had slunk away unnoticed from the martial arts festival, and was wielding his nunchucks in anticipation of revenge…

  3. Anne Wayman says:

    A vaudevillian festival, with me belly dancing and my belly button full of lint! Should I have tried wielding a spork to remove it? The monkey and the snapping turtle were showing off in the yard with the ninja barker flicking viewers into the tent! Probably the best circus we had that year.

  4. margaret says:

    ANNOUNCEMENT…….

    THIS YEAR, OUR FEATURED GUEST AT THE ANNUAL BELLY BUTTON LINT FESTIVAL WILL BE THE
    RENOWNED VAUDEVILLIAN PERFORMER, “SPORK”, WHO WILL DEMONSTRATE THE ART OF TAP DANCING
    WHILE CREATING  LINT SCULPTURES OF A SNAPPING TURTLE AND A KNIFE-WEILDING NINJA MONKEY IN THE MAIN COURTYARD AT 2:30 P.M. ON SATURDAY. BRING YOUR CAMERAS.

  5. Chioma had always be a loser. Everybody in her family, save she, had a gift.

    When Arengel sings, time submits to her will. When Emily is in trouble, polar bears come to her rescue. Glewen is the new Starman. And Adel…

    Adel, a NINJA assasin by night and a VAUDEVILLIAN by day, should be the one standing before the crowd in the FESTIVAL now had he not been killed a month ago during one of his operations.

    Of course, Chioma had insisted on replacing him to prove her worth. But now she wasn’t sure she wanted to do this, considering the outstanding performance of her rivals.

    The first performer had leapt around the YARD like a mad MONKEY. The second had literally flew. The third had shot fire out of his BELLY BUTTON. The fourth had vomited a fabric made of LINT. And the fifth had swallowed the SPORK he was WIELDING.

    Chioma couldn’t understand why one should go through so much trouble just to win a golden SNAPPING TURTLE.

    The crowd stared impatiently at her, and she suddenly felt like farting–out of fear. She tried but couldn’t hold it back. Maybe she could just fart and that would be her performance.

    So she farted, the sound of it roaring.

    At once, everyone covered their noses, some fainting, some fleeing.

    Suddenly, the Jesus on the crucifix at a corner quickly freed its hand from were it was nailed and veiled his nose, face squeezing.

    It was also reported later that the Statue of Liberty had lowered its torch and covered its nose with the hand.

  6. Thanks Mitchell!

    The male shaman picked the lint out of my belly button with a half-melted spork he found in my knapsack. With both hands in splints after the airplane crash into the Amazonian jungle, it had become impossible for me to perform even the simplest of personal hygiene rituals.

    I’d been en route to the Monkey Festival in Brasilia, Brazil, to take pictures for a research lab client, when the two-prop plane lost altitude and crashed into a floodplain, rife with man-eating creatures. Seconds before I almost became lunch for a snapping turtle, members of the Waimiri-Atroari tribe swarmed around us wielding blowguns and fly swatters. I chuckled. Their painted faces reminded me of early 20th century Vaudevillian acts.

    The chuckle soon turned to tears, “i’m gonna be swatted to death, all because I encouraged the pilot to be a ninja and swoop the rickety old plane up, down and around.”

    Then, one of the tribesmen bent down and wiped my tear with his index finger and touched it to his heart.

    Oh, how I felt ashamed for my stereotypical thoughts. He didn’t want to kill me he wanted to help me. The men put me on a make-shift stretcher and carried me for ten miles to their humble village.

    In the main yard were tens of Howler monkeys running around, the ones I’d expected to see in Brasilia. When my arms healed, I knew I’d have pictures of such wild creatures not many other barely known photographers possessed.

    Sometimes things really do happen for a reason …
     

  7. “Ugh,” she grunted as she heaved her sweating self through the crowds at the Annual Children’s Festival. “Why do we come to these things again?” Her voice grated against my ears like a rusty spork on a chalkboard but I resisted the urge snarl back at her.
     
    “Laverne, it’s for the children. Remember? This is a happy place.” I looked about the wide yard and gestured  to indicate the swirling masses of kids, faces painted, shoeless, chewing with wide open mouths. Sure, the noise level approached sonic boom levels. Yes, the heat index continued to climb. Sure, the crowds just made it seem hotter, but, we never in all our years have missed the Children’s Festival.
     
    She was not appeased. Her face scrunched into a horrid snapping turtle expression of dread and distaste. Sweat trickled down her chins. “Lurlene. I hate this!” A few children within earshot heard this blaspheme and shot her their own disgruntled faces. “I mean look at this mess.” She was nearing hysteria. Using all my ninja powers, I spied an empty table, grabbed her arm and hauled her to a picnic table off to the side.
     
    “Seriously. Lurlene.” She gasped for breath. “Look. That little child looks like some kind of raggamuffin vaudevillian orphan. Look!” She cried again. “She’s practically covered in lint. At least, I hope it’s lint. Look around you. That little monkey,” the word spat from her lips, “the one there, wielding the gigantic lollipop. He’s going to maim someone with that thing.”
     
    I tsked at her and offered a sip of lemonade. She guzzled it down and handed me back a rattling cup of ice. She picked at her belly button and plucked at her housecoat. “I hate this place. Can we leave now?”

  8. Chris F. says:

     
    “The Return”

    I brushed the lint off my twill jacket, let out a sigh, and pushed my way through the door of Peterson’s Five and Dime.  I normally wouldn’t have set foot in the store, preferring to avoid the looks I get from Edna Peterson and her cronies, but this was a work assignment and my editor had insisted.

    I hadn’t been inside in over three years, but once my eyes adjusted to the dim and dusty light, not much seemed to have changed.  Sam and Edna still stocked a hodge-podge of merchandise, with eccentric schlock mingled in among the usual fabrics, kitchen-ware, and tools.  As I made my way to the counter, I caught sight of a stuffed black monkey with a round clock shoved into its middle, the Roman ‘VI’ right where the monkey’s belly button should be.  On another shelf, a ceramic Asian figurine perched, a quiver of toothpicks on its back and one clenched its hand, like a Ninja wielding its sword to help you clean your teeth.  I shook my head.  I couldn’t believe the people of Coopersville actually bought this junk.

    I reached the counter, but neither Edna nor Sam was there. I rang the tiny metallic bell on the counter and noticed that there was a life-size snapping turtle poised next to the bell.  I couldn’t tell if it was stuffed or just a well-made imitation, but it did have a small shiny crank sticking out of its shell, so I knew it hadn’t just been pulled from Langley Creek.  Edna came out from the curtain behind the counter as I was inspecting the turtle.

    “Well, my word, if it isn’t Andrew Lawrence.  I haven’t seen you in ages.  Did you come in just to see our new music box?”

    I looked up.  Edna was as prim as I remembered her.  A large lacey apron worn over her yellow dress; her graying hair pulled into a tight bun at the top of her head. She had a smile on her face, but there was curiosity in her eyes.

    I suddenly felt flustered.  The words I had so carefully planned were lost.  “A music box?” was all that came out.

    “Oh yes.  It’s from France.”  Her smile broadened and she reached for the crank.  “Listen to this.”  There was clicking as Edna turned, but when she let go, instead of a melody, the turtle just gave out a metallic, “Clunk – Spork – Ching.” 

    Edna’s face fell and I fought the urge to grin.

    “Oh dear. Well, I’m sure Sam can fix it.”  Edna tried to move on.  “Was there something I could help you with?”

    I opened my jacket and pulled out my notebook.  “Actually there is.  We’re going to run a story in The Daily about some of the tools of the new twentieth century. The Five and Dime is one of the first establishments in Coopersville to have a telephone.  I wanted to interview you about it.”

    The smile returned to Edna, and she patted her hair and smoothed her apron.  “Oh, I see.  Of course, we’re very happy to help the paper however we can.  We’ve always tried to be at the forefront of any new invention, you know.  We were also one of the first to install electric lights.  Let me call Sam.”   She turned and stuck her head behind the curtain and bellowed.  “Sam!  Andrew Lawrence is here.  He wants to ask us some questions.”

    I heard a deep response from the back and could not make out the muffled words.  But I had no problem with Edna’s raised reply.  “No, it’s not about his wife running off with that Vaudevillian.  It’s about our telephone!”

    I exhaled and looked down at the counter.  Three years later and it was still the first thing anyone in town thought of when they heard my name.  Although I was here to interview them, I knew I’d have to dodge too many questions myself.  Have I heard anything from Lizzie?  Did I know where she is?  Is she still with the Vaudeville troupe? 

    I felt a heavy tightness in my chest. The dusty air inside the store had suddenly turned heavy and oppressive.  I spun and headed for the door.

    “Wait,” Edna called out behind me.  “Sam’s coming.  Don’t you want to ask your questions?”

    The door closed on her as I stepped outside.  The interview could wait.  Or better, perhaps never happen at all.  Maybe it was time to rethink my whole career choice.  Maybe even head to Chicago.  There no-one would know me and I could just be Andrew Lawrence, reporter.  Not Andrew Lawrence, pathetic fool whose wife left him for a fast-talking comedian in a two-bit travelling variety show.

    I walked aimlessly across town and found myself in the empty yard next to the Star Theatre.  Three years ago, the poles in the yard had been covered with flyers for Whitman’s Vaudeville Review.  ‘The Biggest Show in the Country’, the shiny ads had proclaimed — a lie as blatant as the ones Lizzie had told the preacher when we’d taken our marriage vows.

    Damn.  I should have left Coopersville years ago.  The shame I’d endured only made the heartache worse.  The pain only deepened with each passing day, each furtive glance in my direction, each whispered comment behind my back. 

    But I knew why I’d stayed.  In the depth of my heart, I’d always hoped that Lizzie would come home.  I’d stayed because I’d wanted to be here when she returned. 

    I now realized that was stupid, and I was being blind as usual.  Lizzie was gone for good.  So I should leave also.  Coopersville was dead for me.

    I looked up through misty eyes at the poles in the yard.  They were covered with new flyers, ads for the ‘Festival of Fabulous Song and Dance’ that would begin at the Star next week.  Then, when I focused on the face of the smiling woman in the ad, I realized that I would be staying in Coopersville, for at least another week.

    It was Lizzie.

    She was coming home.
     

    • Ember Bianco says:

      This was spectacular! Amazingly creative and what a great ending! I’m curious to see what happens when Lizzie gets home!

      • Chris F. says:

        Thank you, Ember!
         
        I really appreciate the kind words.  I was starting to get paranoid — all the other postings were getting comments and this one wasn’t.  Shane didn’t comment.  No-one else had posted anything.  I didn’t even get the dreaded tl;dr.  ;^)
         
        I know over 1,000 words is probably a bit much for one of these off-the-cuff prompts, but I had fun writing it, and it kind of took on a life of it’s own, so whaddya gonna do?
         
        Really glad you liked it.
         

        • Ember Bianco says:

          Chris – You are a fantastic story teller, every submission you’ve entered has an incredible plot to it, you have no worries whether you use 10 words or 1000, few writers can tell a long tale and keep some ones interest and your’s always keep me guessing; to coin a phrase from Shane, Write on!

          • Chris F. says:

            Thank you again, Ember.  I’ve very pleased that you enjoy it — all any writer can ask is that at a few readers are entertained by their words.  It makes it all worthwhile.  :^)
             

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Holy Bleepity Bleep, Chris! I’m so glad you mentioned to Ember about me missing this because I did. This is, by far, your best yet. So many things I love what you did here. eccentric schlock – is my fav. Sorry about missing you. The CCC is growing so fast, comments get knocked off my comment screen faster than I realize. Before I know it, they are on page 2 of my comment screen. I’m guessing this is a good thing to have, but a potential issue too.
       
       

      • Chris F. says:

        No worries, Shane.  I figured it was just an oversight.  Or at least I hoped it was, and not part of the — you  know — overall governmental conspiracy and coverup.  😉
        Seriously — thank you for your generous comments.  Your support is truly appreciated!
        And I can sure tell how fast and furious the comments are coming — and I imagine there’s a healthy dose of spam added in to the mix.  But I attribute it to how great of a site this is, and I appreciate all your work in making it that.  You’re doing a stellar job, and I thank you for all the effort!!!
         
         

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Chris: When I read stories like the one you submitted yesterday, the hundreds of spam messages per day and the moderation is all worth it. Thank YOU.

    • Tia says:

      I love this!!
      Every summer I read a handful of contemporary romance novels. This one reminds me just a tiny bit of a Nicholas Sparks novel I read not too long ago.
      I, too, want to know what happens next with Lizzie!

      • Chris F. says:

        Thank you for the kind words, Tia!
         
        I’m not really what you might call a ‘romance’ guy — my reading tastes tend to run more towards mystery/suspense (currently working my way through the works of Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, C.J. Box, and Lee Child), science fiction (huge fan of Larry Niven, Heinlein, Azimov, Bradbury, Herbert, Clarke, Silverburg, etc), horror (Lovecraft, old Steven King — love “The Stand”), techno-action (Crichton, Tom Clancy), and a slew of other stuff (Clavell’s Asian series, Ayn Rand, Heller’s Catch-22, and just too many great books to take the time to list).  But while I’ve never specifically read a ‘romance’, I respect the genre and realize that love is one of the most powerful emotions, and that any good story should evoke sympathetic emotions within the reader.  And what makes many ‘non-romance’ stories so memorable is actually the threads of the love story within.
         
        Anyway — long-winded, roundabout way to say that while I’m not versed in the romance genre and I didn’t intentionally set out to write a romance story, I have no problem with my story evolving into one and touching on the real human elements of love, loss, and longing.
         
        Thanks again!
         

    • Laurie says:

      Wow!  Awesome!  I love it, very good!  Totally drew me into the scene, great feeling of mystery and adventure!

    • Chris, this was simply awesome. I know how you feel about word length but, if your story needs 2,000 words to get to “She was coming home”, well by golly, you just write those words!
       
      I’ve been in tourist traps like that Five and Dime. Your description was very well rendered.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

      • Chris F. says:

        Thank you very much for the kind words and the support, Mitch!  I really appreciate it!
         
        And great job choosing the words, by the way —  a fabulous mix!  This is only my third time playing around with this, but it’s already really interesting to me to see how one word kind of pops out and takes the central role in my imagination and incubates the story.  For #118, it was ‘granite‘, which led to ‘granite memorial’ -> tombstone carving.  In #119, it was ‘shield’ which immediately made me think of ‘raise the shields’ and led me down the sci-fi path.  Here, it was ‘Vaudevillian‘, which set the time period.  Not sure how it became ‘ran off with a vaudevillian’, but what the heck — you have to let the story go where it wants, I guess.  😉
         

        • Sometimes, Chris, the characters tap you on the shoulder and whisper, “Put us in this one.”
          Then you are compelled to make it work 🙂
           
          I know what you mean, though. When the characters aren’t harassing me, I go with the flow.
          For CCC #117, frozen and basin made me think of a desolate planetscape.
           
          Cheers,
           
          Mitch
           

  9. Tia says:

    We never knew what to do with Johnanna. She liked older men. Her first one
    was a Vaudevillian who came through town on his way to a festival, wielding
    a pretend sword like a ninja. She thought he was charming; we thought he
    looked like a monkey – what with lint all over his jacket and pants too short.

    If any of us ever said anything about her romances, Johanna’d retreat to
    her room faster than a snapping turtle. So no one ever said anything.
    Once, a gentleman from a nearby town visiting his grandmother wooed Johanna
    with his ridiculous invention – a spork. The next thing we knew, he had
    Johanna coming up with all sorts of ideas, including wearing her shirt tied
    under her breasts, showing off her belly button. That one had Papa really upset.

    Eventually, Johanna ran off with James, a postman she met while laying out
    in the yard. We didn’t see her again for awhile – not until she had her baby
    and James had walked out on her.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Tia: What a fun read that was (except for Johanna at the end) 🙂

      • Tia says:

        Thanks, Shane. I am thinking of continuing the story now. The writing prompts help out a lot. I would have never thought that I could be any good at fiction or storytelling.
        If you’ve ever watched the movie The Secret Lives of Bees – that’s sort of the sentiment I had in my head. Tragic stories, but told from the perspective of someone in the story, making the funny parts lighter and the tragic parts bearable.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Tia: Have not seen that movie, but I must now. I believe these challenges will put your mind in a different, more creative place.

    • Ember Bianco says:

      Tia – I saw the movie! I love QL, and what a great concept for these words, like the movie you did these words justice.

      • Chris F. says:

        Excellent story, Tia!  Interesting and absorbing characters and captivating use of the prompt words.  Very nicely done.

        • Tia says:

          Thanks, Chris. Nice avatar. I love electric guitars! 🙂

          • Chris F. says:

            Thanks, Tia!
             
            I had a longish stint in my 20’s when I left college and tried to make a living playing guitar in various bands.  Needless to say, that turned out to mainly be just a fun way to go broke.  So I went back to school, got my engineering degree, and now, years later, I’m a happily-married, responsible, suburbs-living family guy.  But I still whip out the Strat from time to time to crank it up with some friends.  😉
             

      • Tia says:

        Thank you, Ember!

    • Laurie says:

      Very cool and enjoyable!  I love how you put the words together!

    • All right, Tia! We’re going to get a series from you 🙂
      If you model the Secret Life of Bees, your storytelling is going to be compelling, indeed!
      I always enjoy learning what influences a writer’s style. I was actually reminded of  Kitt Kittridge: American Girl.
      Have fun with your new series! (hint-hint)
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       
       

  10. Ember Bianco says:

    It was an amusement yard packed with scenes from the bizarre, a festival of debauchery; as if to be in the midst of a carnival of mishaps, my blind date and I walked around the temporary amusement park that was set up on a section of our towns baseball field for the annual Labor Day celebrations.
    Weird doesn’t even begin to describe this place. Take for instance the Sumo wrestler in a pair oversized Pampers squatting down, with his left hand raised in the air wielding around a knife with the precision of a Ninja fighter, aiming it right towards the middle of his gut, then without a second warning, he stabs himself dead center in the middle of his belly button while at the same time lifting his right hand to his left ear and then pulls out the longest piece of lint I’ve ever seen. Ewwwh, gross! Watching the Vaudevillian with the monkey on his back, chasing around 3 snapping turtles, trying to stab them with his spork as if his lunch depended on it, wasn’t exactly an appetizing site either.
    If I could say anything, I was mortified to say the least. When I suggested that our first date be filled with fun by visiting the new fair that just arrived at the edge of town, I never expected this type of seasoned variety of madness. And to think that most blind dates usually end up with you wanting to run away from them in the beginning of the night, but not this one, I knew it from the minute he drove up, got out of his car and met me at the door, that I wanted to keep this one around for a while, and now it was all ruined. How could I ever recover from the mistake of choosing this kind of a place for a quaint night out on the town, I wondered to myself how long it was going to take him to run away. My date went easy on me, with his arm around my waist he drew me close and very playfully whispered in my ear, “Well at least we have a couple of great stories to tell our grandchildren.”
     
     

  11.  
    Casey and I wanted to see the traveling circus. “I heard they have a trained monkey that eats snapping turtle soup with a spork!” cried Casey.
     
    “I heard it was a ninja monkey wielding a yard stick.” Either way, nothing so exciting ever happened in Cotter’s Corner, and we thought it all sounded deliciously exotic.
     
    Mama wouldn’t hear of it. “Nothing but a no-good pack of vaudevillian gypsies throwing the equivalent of a belly button lint festival,” she scoffed.
     
    We tried to sneak out one night, to peek under the big top. The hairy midget and the bearded lady caught us and pulled us up by the scruff of our necks. “What do you think you’re doing?” they cried. When we told them the tales we’d heard in town, they laughed heartily.
     
    “So, you’re a monkey!” giggled the bearded lady, looking at the hairy midget.
     
    “YOU’RE the one doing ‘ninja sword tricks,'” grumbled the midget.
     
    “So there’s no trained monkey?” asked Casey, wide-eyed with fascination at these two.
     
    “No, there’s no trained monkey. Now get on home, before your mama makes trouble for us here. Nothin’ here but belly button lint dipped in gold, pretendin’ to be angels’ hair. Go on, now – git!”
     
    Mama was right! We heard it from the bearded lady’s lips. We ran straight home that night, and never spoke of the circus again.

  12. What to get my son for his birthday? I hate shopping. Online or offline, it’s a festival of dull. Though I am capable of wielding a wicked credit card in both milieus, it’s only slightly more interesting then mowing the yard.

    A Speak-n-Spell? A lightsaber? A ninja monkey? So many choices with so little reward. Hey, how about a pet snapping turtle? Yes, that’s it!

    Well, it seemed like a good idea, but probably wasn’t. Like removing belly-button lint with a spork. It could work, but was not without a certain vaudevillian peril.

    We named him Snappy. And now I type with nine fingers.

  13. Ember Bianco says:

    Steve  – Very cool take on the words , I definitely bought the line about wielding a credit card Lol, and the nine fingers? even funnier!

  14. Laurie says:

    Lilith had been a Vaudevillian for a year now. She loved her work but she was looking at ways to do more to raise social consciousness through her work. Lilith badly wanted to make an important impact on planet earth as her life so often felt devoid of real meaning. It wasn’t that she wasn’t happy but she felt something was missing, something much deeper and meaningful.
    She was inspired by Jack who had done amazing scenes with his snapping turtle. His work had a lot of comedy yet while calling to raise the consciousness on earth. He liked to dress as a ninja and take the turtle, he had named it Myrtle out of her pool. This seemed to bring out her temper. Then he would start his monologue standing there wielding a spork and telling Myrtle that if her disposition didn’t improve that he may just find her as the next meal. His monologue would at times demean the turtle, and at others it would reflect on just what Myrtle must be feeling as she was jerked out of her comfortable pool and sat in the yard to endure Jack’s seemingly endless rants, which often brought a standing ovation.
    Lilith worked with a monkey she had named Gracie. Her and Gracie had become quite close, once she learned to endure some of Gracie’s ways of showing affection, including picking at Lilith’s belly button as if trying to find some lint. Today they were rehearsing a new skit that Lilith wanted to use for the festival it was inspired by Daniel Quinn’s book Ishmael. She was hoping to raise awareness of just how important it is that we consider how our behavior affects the entire ecosystem on planet earth. She was excited to see how the audience would respond as she brought what she thought was an evocative twenty minute human and monkey skit reflecting Quinn’s message.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Laurie: Love where you took these words. I’m laughing each time I read belly button and lint today. 🙂

    • Chris F. says:

      Very nicely done, Laurie.  Very creative!
       

      • Laurie says:

        Thank you guys!  Belly button and lint have been fun together today!  😉  Thought I should try to develop something a bit more with the words…  to further push myself to be creative, very inspired by the others on this site!  I’ve not wrote anything much in the spontaneous creative realm in over a decade and I’m truly enjoying this!

    • Oh my goodness. This is deep, Laurie. This sounds like it could be a series. I haven’t read Daniel Quinn’s trilogy, but I thank you for letting me know it’s out there.
       
      Well done opening act!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

  15. Laurie says:

    They were great words!  Especially in combo with the others!  So much creativity on this site!  I just love it!  Thank you guys for creating such a cool place.  I really am enjoying this and I am hooked!  Its so inspiring!  🙂

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Laurie: hooked is one of my fav words. 🙂

    • Ember Bianco says:

      Wow Laurie, I like the way you brought a whole new meaning to our ever emerging society could look at things.

      • Laurie says:

        Thank you!  I’m so inspired by others on this site and nature is something dear to me, so I thought given how others try to write things using the same characters related to the words, even if I can’t get a complete story maybe I can find a way to use my characters to tease the mind in ways important in this realm.  We’ll see how it goes as I see some word lists could leave this as an extremely challenging exercise.

  16. It’s impossible not to smile while reading the words “belly button lint,” Shane.
     
    Laurie, I really enjoyed this. You made a snapping turtle seem likable, and you did a great job of showing the contrasting relationships between the performers and their animal sidekicks. It’s also a bit of a statement on the use of performance art to raise social consciousness – fun!

    • Laurie says:

      Thank you!  I love animals and I think sometimes its our misperceptions that keeps us from fully understanding an animal, its traits and personality when we encounter and/or interact with them.  We think they should be pleased and perhaps even honored that we are giving them attention, even if it means taking them out of habitats that they need or are most comfortable in and then wonder about their seemingly bad attitudes.  Very arrogant of us.
       
      As I write this I think another image that could be used of the snapping turtle that would be fun, but difficult with other words in this list-  Turtles are representative of the mother earth in myth, so the snapping turtle could be the symbol of a pissed off mother earth for the way we treat her in the story perhaps building compassion for both the turtle and the earth…. hmmm maybe I will go play with this in conjunction with the rest of the word list!

      • Laurie says:

        Here’s a shot at it making the turtle likable and a creature worthy of our sympathy….
         

        Lilith was an amazing story-teller, her experience as a Vaudevillian, had pushed her to look at creative ways to use the Vaudeville stage as a place for raising human consciousness in areas of social importance. To urge couch potatoes to quit picking the lint out of their belly buttons as they wait for those endless commercials promoting something else they don’t need and that only encourages greed to end. All this as they reach over to the coffee table to grab the ice cream they were eating with a spork as the mind numbing show begins again.
         
        Tonight she was writing a story for the Vaudeville Festival that was going to begin next month. She wanted a story that would reach her listeners hearts and minds and call them to consider how they treat the earth, even that couch potato with his spork. She began-
        The mother earth is often represented as a turtle in ancient native teachings. There is a story that is long forgotten as the elder’s became ignored. When the children of the earth act with less wisdom than monkeys and took from the earth and destroyed the natural beauty she had grown for them. She would change her nature as a ninja during the night and the children of the earth would fear coming out into their yard as her loving protective nature was seen wielding an attitude more of a snapping turtle left in the desert due to the arrogance of the children of the earth as they wasted and polluted the waters of their mother. She snapped with a nasty bite at those who only wanted to chew away at her body! She wasn’t going to let those who only wanted to only chew away at her body, to devour their mother, to come out and experience her worth. No she would force them to stay inside until they decide they value their mother’s worth.
         

  17. Adam, Eve and Pinocchio were the other semi-finalists in the great snapping turtle race. Donatello, ironically, was the only reptile to survive the two-day challenge thus far. His comrades were a disgrace to the ninja warrior class. Of course, wielding a spork in the pie-eating contest was a far cry from their traditional choice of weaponry and battlefields. Donatello had felt as out of place in Mother Goose’s back yard as a monkey would have felt in a barrel.

    Donatello still couldn’t believe his colleagues had chosen this vaudevillian festival over snorkeling in the Caymans. They passed up an opportunity to fly first-class, at government expense, to an exclusive resort, simply because Raphael and Leonardo had wanted to settle a long-standing debate about whether Adam had a belly-button. Raphael had proclaimed that he would eat its lint if he lost.

    Imagine their disappointment – and Donatello’s disgust – when they finally met, not the biblical icons, but the star of Happy Gilmore and the Grammy-winning rapper.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitchell: YOU are one funny dude. This scene you painted reminded me of Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure (another of my fav movies of all time). Write on.

    • Ember Bianco says:

      Okay this was funny, and then it got funnier, and funnier,  and…. I love what you did with your words!

    • Chris F. says:

      Wow!  Love the intermingled riffs of the Muntant Ninja Turtles and ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ (both biblical and ‘Sandler and Jeffers’)!
       
      Light-hearted but literate, this piece is a lot of fun!
       
      (And check out ‘Bill and Ted’  — it’s stupid, inane, and dated, Dude, but it’s totally bogus that you haven’t seen it!  It’s worth it just for George Carlin’s role.)

      • Thanks, Chris! I love inane movies, but my wife can only so much – and I hate watching movies alone. Maybe I’ll see if she wants to check it out. running out of places to rent stuff, though. Internet is killing the video store. 😦
         
        Cheers,
         
        Mitch
         

  18. Cathy Miller says:

    He lurked in darkness like a silent stagehand in a vaudevillian show of days gone by. Dead, piercing eyes followed the couple, as hand-in-hand, they strolled along the twisted ribbon of green shore. The girl laughed as she jumped at the sight of a snapping turtle capturing dinner with its spork-like tongue.

    Wielding the axe above his head, and screeching like some crazed ninja monkey, the stranger catapulted towards the young couple. The girl screamed in terror as she watched the man heave the axe within a yard of certain death. She felt frozen to the spot, her arms wrapped across her belly button as if to keep her very breath from escaping.

    Scott launched a flying tackle and the stranger hit the ground in a bone-crushing blow, but he did not stop. Wrapping strong, lean fingers around the young man’s throat, the man laughed in maniacal glee, shouting, “Today you die, today you die.”

    Mary woke in darkness, screaming, trembling, the sheet twisted in a lint wrapping of a wound that would not heal, in a drama festival that would not end. It would never end.

  19. Here was my contribution to the game today, was busy at work yesterday and didn’t have time.

    Bad Play
    laughing stock without any intended humor or comedy
    with the grace of a vaudevillian snapping turtle
    portrayal of a silent Ninja creeping through a yard
    akin to a clamorous monkey festival instead
    makeshift keikogi revealing a belly button full of lint
    wielding a sword no more threatening than a kitchen spork
    preposterous play portraying exactly how you imagined

     

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Justin: Super! Poetry is in your soul, man! Write on.

      • Thanks Shane, Man how do you keep up with the over a hundred comments per post I am seeing lately.  I can barely keep up to read the other entries anymore I am ashamed to say.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Justin: I must admit it’s been difficult to keep up these past two weeks. When people finish their own submissions and comment on the others, that’s when the admin comment screen gets crazy. I’ll have to see if I can reset the comment number that show up per screen and increase it so I don’t miss comments that jump to the second comment screen.

          • Shane, I have mentioned before that you should have your admin install the ReplyMe WordPress plugin.  This way people can automatically get replies to their comments without having to subscribe to the whole thread, it is automatic and requires nobody to “check” any box, they just get replies to their email.  I know this would be very beneficial to me.

          • Shane Arthur says:

            @Justin: I passed this along to our tech dude. As long as it plays nice with our other plugins that would be a great addition to the CCC.

    • Great use of these words, Justin. You are a master of the game.
       
      A word about comments. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody expects everyone to read every single comment. If you really want to keep up, try reading them all in your email. That’s what I do.
      I skip over the stories until I come to the site, because Gmail sends the tags instead of the formatting.
       
      @Shane, this might make your readers a little upset, but if you install the GrowMap Anti-Spambot Plugin, you’ll have less spam to deal with.
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

    • Chris F. says:

      Very nice work, Justin.
       
      Love the imagry.  It leads me to picture a child playing at being a Ninja, his actions earnest but clumsy — evoking both humor (unintended by the child) and yet something deeper:  An unsettling pause at a young boy pretending to be a harbinger of silent death.
       
      Great stuff!
       

  20. Cathy Miller says:

    @CCC-these are all fabulous-I have to come back later to finish reading-damn work! 🙂

  21. Julie says:

    Of course, it could only have happened in the Festival Yard.

    It was August, the month when that most staid of matrons, the city of Edinburgh, puts on the gaudy feathers, bells and bows – like some cheap Can-Can dancer out to show her knickers because, well, it’s August and it’s the Fringe. Residents spend the other eleven months of the year pointedly not talking about their off-season Mardi Gras debauchery, but make no mistake, in August anything goes. You can hardly walk down the street without passing spork-wielding ninja monkey act or a 10ft sculpture composed entirely of bellybutton lint.

    By day full-time Edinburgers frown slightly and try to weave past groups of tourists blocking their daily pedestrian commute. Sombre businessmen negotiate the crowds, showing their displeasure with only the occasional judiciously-applied elbow to the ribs, then spend the rest of the day regretting their unforgivable outburst. The fingers of journeyman pick-pockets clamp down on visitors’ bulging wallets with the swiftness and crushing bite of a snapping turtle snatching up a careless mouse taking an unexpected swim.

    So there we were, in the heart of it all: three lawyers, a semarian and a trainee doctor, trying to find a quiet place for a night out. Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it? Maybe it was.

    All I know is that my last memory, before I woke up here in this antiseptic room, was of large man dressed like someone’s bad dream of a Vaudevillian –full make-up and rosy cheeks — advancing on me with a stein of cheap German beer in one hand and a flyer for his one-man show in the other.

    My friends tell me it’s only to be expected. Everyone cracks at some point, after living here for a few years.

    They tell me that Jolly Jack’s Vaudeville Spektacularrr is being replaced at The Golden Balloon by a girl with a ukulele and a unicycle, but that Jack has assured his fans they should not fret: he’ll be fully recovered in time for next year’s Fringe.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Julie: Fantastic! This reminded me of a trip I took to New Orleans where I ate frog leg soup, alligator chili, and snake fillets.

    • Chris F. says:

      Extrordinay, Julie!!!
       
      Wonderful — eloquent, immersive, and jauntily tongue-in-cheek.  Fabulous!
       
      But it does leaves me curious — which one is our finally-snapped narrator?  One of the lawyers, the semarian, or the trainee doctor?  Personally, I’m leaning towards the semarian.  I suspect that’s something like a Sumerian seminarian — a breed known for their touchiness… 😉
       
      Great work!  I loved it!
       

    • Julie, I enjoyed reading this! It’s always fun learning about different annual events.
      Thanks for bringing it to life here!
       
      Cheers,
       
      Mitch
       

  22. Shane Arthur says:

    PROGRAMMING NOTE:
    Justin requested that we add a plugin that makes it possible to get email notifications when people respond to your comments (without having to subscribe to the post and get ALL emails). As you guys can see from the past two weeks, comments are going through the roof, so now if you choose, you can limit the emails to those that are responding to your comments. And you don’t have to check any boxes either. It should happen automatically. I have not tested it yet, but hopefully it works as expected.
    Thanks Justin.

  23. Joe Passmore says:


    The only thing worse than a Vaudevillian is a bawdy villian. Spork was just what the doctor ordered, gyrating about on stage with her Belly button covered by a huge jewel. Her Festival act comprised several hundred feet of lint bandage which she used to tie up the first male member of the audience who got up to go to the yard when she was in full flight. When he was suitably pinioned to a chair, she would leave the stage only to return wielding a pissed off teenage mutant ninja snapping turtle which she would let loose around his nether regions, Meanwhile a maniacal monkey would clamber over the unsuspecting victim’s head, pulling his ears, fingers up his nose, hair inspecting for lice. When he screamed for mercy she would politely ask the audience ‘Enough for the villian?”

  24. Kelly says:

    DANCING IN HER BLOOD

    The spork was the key.

    Ironic, really, because a spork’s not a key…

    But I digress.

    You see, I’m a player at a Renaissance Festival. It doesn’t pay much, and the work ranges from backbreaking to merely humiliating on the good days, but there’s a camaraderie among us players, the adult visitors are good sports, and the little monkeys who masquerade as some unfortunate school’s “students” always go home by the hundreds on their busses at night, leaving the former Mr. Greibloch’s Pennsylvania farm a quiet ghost town from a Merrie Olde England that never existed.

    You might think from that introduction that I don’t like it. Well, the intermingling’s not for me, but the playing really is. I guess every one of us here is a vaudevillian who missed our calling by about 90 years. As the resident falconer, sure I have to do setup and breakdown and group plays with the others, but I also get to brush the lint off my linen costume, researched and sewn by my own hand, and do my act, perfect my medieval-Scottish accent, show off years of training with deadly birds to huge audiences, and listen to peach-fuzz-wielding high schoolers call me a tights-wearing wuss. (Come a little closer, kid. My falcon hasn’t had lunch yet.)

    Not for you? Maybe not. But everything in life’s a tradeoff, don’t ever forget that.

    We don’t usually take on players mid-season, but the boss made an exception this year. I don’t think he had much of a chance to say No, once Irene walked in.

    Irene Rose, she called herself. The name was as fake as the red of her hair, hanging all the way down to our new belly dancer’s astonishingly round bottom, but when those violet-scented tresses swished past you, you forgot to complain about her indiscreet obviousness. You only wished she’d sashay a little… more slowly.

    Indiscreet? Oh, yeah. Summer does something to men, around a woman like that. The boss was like a snapping turtle at her heels for weeks after she’d come aboard, but she must have whispered a choice word to him, because lately he’s gone eerily cold on her.

    Irene doesn’t seem to notice either way. Her eyes, a watery, faraway blue, never seem to focus on any of us mortals, least of all the boss. It’s like she’s waiting for someone to come into view, languidly swirling her red hair and her perfectly pink belly button through the entry courtyard (“Welcome, Faire Guests,” the blacklettered banner over the entry proclaims), captive every day of her life to a song that we don’t hear.

    Might sound like another detour, but admiring Irene’s assets isn’t really such a digression. In a way, it’s the whole point. Were it not for Irene—and Jarvis, my prize Peregrine, who decided to go ninja on a fair “guest” that day—were it not for the two of them, as I say, there’d be no story at all.
     
    We do this group huddle in the mornings. Drives everybody crazy, acting like a soccer team before the big game daily, but the boss thinks it psyches us up for another ten-hour-long performance. Maybe it does. At least, it gives us all something to hate together. Irene wasn’t bothered by it that day, because that day, she showed up late. Missed setup and everything. Almost didn’t have time to slink into her outfit that reminded every male over 35 of I Dream of Jeannie… and our dreams of catching Jeannie in that tiny bottle. Only this time it’s Jeannie with the red hair…

    The boss seemed to be past having adolescent dreams, and tried to give Irene a good dressing-down about The Time (late) and being Part of the Team (critical). Irene adjusted her ridiculously inauthentic harem pants nervously. She wasn’t listening, but for once, I could see that she wasn’t faraway, either. She was highly attuned to something… or was it me? Every man in the company was highly attuned to Irene. I was always pretending I wasn’t… in a ridiculously inauthentic attempt to get her to notice me for the sincere dude I was pretending to be.

    Such is the life of a player… even we never know when we’re acting or not.

    Irene walked with me back to the entry yard to start the day, still fumbling with her outfit as if she wasn’t sure it was all there. I’d be Mr. Authority, booming out a hearty Renaissance welcome for the first couple of hours, then I’d move on to my birds for the rest of the day. Mr. Authority or not, Irene was always unimpressed, and though we had to take the same path, she’d never walked with me before.

    “I won’t be here much longer, Jake,” she confided that day.

    I tried to sound sympathetic without overdoing it. And without drooling like one of those nearly-hairless teenagers. “Boss digging into you too much?”

    “What? No, he’s fine. That’s just… how people are.”

    Yep. Male people, I guessed. Hard not to behave badly around Irene.

    “This Festival gig… I just… I thought that being here would do me some good, y’know? But now I have this horrible trapped feeling.”

    I’d noticed it. But I didn’t say so.

    “Ah, well.” Irene stopped adjusting and looked around. Trying to brighten up… or maybe trying to regain her distant look. “I did it to myself, huh? Thanks for listening.” We were at the front gates already. I’d barely listened to anything. I sure didn’t want to stop listening, but there were those horrible students, crowding the gate already…

    “Anytime,” I said, and like the drooling fool I was inside, I meant it.

    I saw the spork drop by her left foot, about an hour later. I don’t even know what made me look her way. I was full-on into my character by then, booming Good Day, Sirrah and Welcome, Milady as if I’d just been plucked from the Scottish Highlands yesterday by Her Majesty The Queen. Maybe it was the falconer in me, sensing high emotion in Irene instead of in my birds. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Who dropped it, I couldn’t say, but I watched Irene as it clattered plasticly on the ground next to her—and I watched her, then, as she stepped on that spork, appeared to wrench her ankle, and crumpled straight to the ground.

    The guests around her seemed to think it was part of the act. They clapped politely and waited for the exotic redheaded bellydancer to get up.

    I made my way through the crowd to another player with his back turned to the entry. “Take over my spot, ” I hissed at him. “I’m taking Irene to the medical tent.” Then I leant over Irene and encouraged her to stand, and walk with me for the second time that day.

    By the time I got Irene to the “tent” (more of a tiny medical office, really… we had to buzz and wait for the nurse to unlock the door to let us in, then set her up on a small cot in a communal treatment room) she was looking a little better, but still leaning on me heavily for support. She told the nurse that her ankle might be sprained. The nurse thanked me, then politely asked me to leave. “You know the rules. Family only. It’s the only way I can keep this little place running safely, with only one of me to see to all the heatstrokes and beestings and sprains.” I looked around—the place was empty. Well, maybe it was too early for this potential crush of ill fairgoers.

    The nurse lowered her voice as she showed me out. “If it’s anything, it’s not much,” she confided. “No swelling. She’ll be back before the end of the day, for sure.” She locked the door behind me as I left and went back to attend to her sole patient.

    About an hour later my three best birds were set up on their perches, ready for our first performance. Jarvis seemed nervous from the moment I set him down. I gave him a few extra treats and tried to smooth his distinctly ruffled feathers. These birds have minds of their own—my favorite, and least favorite, part of working with them. Last week we’d run into big trouble when Jarvis took off after performing his first death-defying dive of the day—and when your prize falcon runs away, life pretty much stops. It took us six hours to find him, with both of my assistants and me combing all his favorite places and places he was not known to haunt as well.

    In the end, “find him” isn’t really the correct phrase, because after running and driving around all day and having to cancel three shows, the three of us were sitting on our stage, stumped as to what to do next, when Jarvis swooped back in as if nothing was wrong at all.

    Today I wondered if my own anxiety about Irene might be setting him off. I did my best to smooth my feathers, too, as we waited for the audience to fill in. At two minutes to showtime, I still didn’t have my mind centered on my job.

    Neither did Jarvis. A pretty lady in the front row was trying to talk to him as he sat, stock-still, on his perch. He was too far away for me to intervene personally, but my assistants and I had seen plenty of overeager audience members in the time we’d worked with these birds of prey in such a public venue. I hit the talk switch on my walkie-talkie, hidden beneath my medieval clothing, to warn my assistant. “Redhead in the first row. See her? I think she’s getting in too close to him or something.” My two minutes’ wait was up, and the warning had been issued. On with the show!

    Everything went off without a hitch. At the end, there’s a question-and-answer session when guests can ask us about falcons (smart), training them (from birth if possible), and feeding them (that part always grossed out the younger ones—then they’d ask us to tell them more). Jarvis was enduring stares as usual, sitting on my arm now, as I fielded as many questions as I could stand.

    “The birds need a rest, folks. Thanks for coming, hope we’ll see you again! Jarvis, would you like to take a bow?”

    At that Jarvis normally did a dramatic swoop behind me and went off to one of my assistants to have lunch and pampering. That day, he rose off my arm as usual—then went straight for the sunglasses of a woman a few feet away from me in the crowd. I heard the plastic of the sunglasses crack and dove toward the woman. She shielded her eyes and Jarvis pecked at her viciously—first at her face, then when too many people were reaching for him, he climbed up slightly and tore at her short red hair. Several clumps came flying out as she screamed; I didn’t catch Jarvis, but I did swat at him enough to get him to fly back to the safety of my waiting assistant.

    Funny, I felt worse for him than I did for the woman, but when things calmed down enough to see that she was bleeding in several places, I felt pretty bad for her, too. I sent my second assistant with her to the medical tent while I went off to figure out what had gone wrong… and what to do about Jarvis. The boss was a tolerant guy, but he wasn’t likely to understand the “she provoked him” defense for a bird.

    15 minutes later, the birds were all put down to rest, and I still hadn’t heard from the boss. Figuring that meant he was deciding between bad actions and worse ones, I headed out at the edges of the festival grounds to his office, to see what fate and the boss had in store.

    As I headed uphill, to pass the medical tent on my way to the office, I could see an ambulance pulled up behind the building. Had the woman’s bleeding gotten worse? Rather than trying to get buzzed in, I ran around back just as a second ambulance screeched in. EMTs and our own staff were creating such a commotion that I wasn’t sure of what I was hearing, at first.

    “It’s the boss. He’s been shot,” our blacksmith told me.

    Queen Elizabeth herself elbowed the smith. Her face was even more pale than usual. She looked as though she might get sick right where she stood. “He’d dead,” she whispered harshly, as a covered gurney wheeled out of the back entrance. Then another. And finally, a third, this one not covered; Irene, with her excruciatingly red hair refusing to stay atop her chest as the EMTs had laid it. In fiery waterfalls, it streamed off one side of the gurney.

    I pushed in, scooped up the fallen tresses, and gently pilled her hair by the side of her face. Irene choked out a few words.

    “I’ll be okay,” she said. “What happened to Dad?”
     
    She wasn’t okay, of course. These woeful tales don’t end like that. I went to visit her every day, as her strength went the way of the blood she’d lost… right up until the end. Our nurse told me what she knew: that the woman Jarvis had attacked came in, dizzy and obviously in great pain, but strangely triumphant when she saw Irene. She sat for bandages while Irene tried to interrupt, urgently trying to indicate she was ready to leave; “In a minute, in a minute,” the nurse told her. This was one of those times when she just couldn’t do everything at once. She had to go for more bandages and heard Irene and the injured guest talking as she stepped out of the treatment room; she saw the boss let himself in with his key— “Just coming to check on our guest,” he said—and she went into the supply room. From where she was, two rooms away, she heard a commotion, then three shots—One-two. A sickening silence. Three. The boss was dead before the first ambulance arrived. Irene, of course, hung on.

    The guest? She was more than dead.

    She’d dropped the spork, all right. Once she found out where her adult daughter had run away to, I guess she wanted to make the day of getting her to come home torturous. She knew the spork would invoke a very clear memory of the greasy joint they’d both been working in, until Irene set herself free in the middle of the night just a few days before she found our festival.

    She didn’t know Irene would fall, and go behind a locked door in the medical building… so then she had to spend time figuring out a way to get injured badly enough that she’d get admitted to see our nurse, as well. She’d brought a gun as a convincer; she’d seen that work on errant daughters in the movies, and she felt ready to give anything a try. But she couldn’t let her go again. She didn’t know Irene was faking the injury, but she was plenty worried that she was planning another escape. And of course, she didn’t know why Irene was here at the Renaissance Festival at all, until the boss walked through that front door for a friendly check on an injured “guest.”

    Irene tried to tell her to get out. Tried to tell her she wouldn’t go back with her, not today, not ever. Tried to tell her she was moving past their crazy ways. But when her father walked in… the father her mother had been looking for for ten years, the father she’d almost caught up with in Wichita, in Austin, and now here in the middle of Pennsylvania… the father they’d been told was a sometimes-regular at this greasy diner for the last couple of years, the man her mother could hardly wait to confront with all his evils and demand retribution from… When he walked in, her mother forgot that the gun was just a convincer. The years of abandonment, hideous poverty, and roiling anger came to the surface all at once.

    “I’ve been looking for you,” was all Irene’s mother said to him. She looked at Irene with eyes of shock. Betrayed by the girl she’d raised through so many struggles?

    “Mom…”
     

    Irene told me, lying there in the hospital, that she knew she had no words of excuse. “Mom” was all she could say. She’d gotten a tip that our new boss might be that regular at the diner, and she’d gotten herself hired so she could watch him. See if he was the monster her mother claimed. And maybe, if she loved him like she had when he abandoned her at age 10, maybe to warn him to get away. Maybe to ask him to take her when he fled. But when she told him, a few weeks after she was hired, who she was, he said he was almost glad she was there. Said he was tired of running. He wasn’t anything like happy to see her (her own fantasy, turned on its head), but he said he wouldn’t make her leave and go back to her mother. He said he was going to stay put and try to ready himself for the day when her mother found him, and if she wanted to stay put too, that was okay with him.

    “Mom…”

    And then Irene’s mother, with ten years of pent-up emotion, shot her only child, who had also abandoned her, and her ex-husband, who’d taken her youth and her soul when he ran away. One-two.

    She knelt by her daughter’s side. Irene, unsure of what had just happened and bleeding profusely, reached out to stroke her mother’s bent head, still bloody from where Jarvis had attacked her. She heard her mother crying as she had so many nights before. She heard her praying for forgiveness. And then her mother took her own life.

    Three. The festival guest was dead.
     
    I think Irene was glad she didn’t last long. She was hooked up to a million tubes and monitors, she was in and out of consciousness, she might never have been able to dance again; but that wasn’t the reason. Irene may have wanted to run away from the control of her mother, but looking back now, I think the untouchable sadness in her eyes was actually because she missed her. Finding her father had been much, much less than she wanted it to be. Leaving her mother hadn’t solved anything. And to be left now on this planet without either of them—and without the hunt that had consumed half of her life—I think that, as much as the bullet from her mother’s gun, was what killed Irene.
     
    Everything in life’s a tradeoff. I think Irene had just made her last trade.

    • Chris F. says:

      Wow — that was epic!  Well done.
       
      Tons of intrigue and interest.  Love the setting and the characterization and the relationship twists.  That was a lot of fun!
       

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kelly: Such a wonderful story. I’ve been to a few of those shows, and this story seems like it would fit perfectly with how it truly is.

      • Kelly says:

        Chris—Thanks! This one nearly killed me, trying to write it—glad you enjoyed it!
         
        Shane—They sure do put on a show, don’t they? A great setting for a “backstage” melodrama. Plus I think I was in love with a Renaissance Faire falconer for a few minutes last year. He deserved a story… even if he didn’t get one that was *about* him, really.  🙂

  25. Tiffany Hudson says:

    I wipped sweat off of my forehead as I walked arcross the yard with Alfie by my side.
    I grinned up at him.
    “Get on with it Alf.” I told him.
    “SAM!” He called as he opened the door.
    “In here.” He called from the kitchen.
    I popped my head around the door to find Lillian Foral sitting on the kitchen counter.
    Lillian was pretty. wide night blue eyes, full pouty mouth and long blonde hair in ringlets. She is also the most evil girl in the world. 
    “Coral.” She purred. Running her finger up sam’s arm. His face showed how much he hated her, yet he didn’t move away. 
    “The Lint Festival is about to start.” Well Lental Festival but everyone called it lint. 
    He nodded. 
    “Yeah, stay here with bitch face and you’ll miss the Vaudevillian with the snapping turtle wielding a spork like a ninja monkey.” Alfie laughed.  
    Sam smile was tight and obvisley forced.
    “yeah, we better go.” He pulled Lillian off of the counter and walked torwards us.
    “your leaving me?” She asked friendly. Arrg I hate that girl so much.
    “Yep.” I smiled at her. Grabbed both the boys hands and headed torwards the door.

    We reached the festival without Lillian following us. Thankfully.
    Alfie stayed with us all day. Which isn’t to bad.
    “It’s getting way to hot.” Sam moaned.
    “Stop walking around then.” Alfie advised happily, almost skipping over to a spear peice of grass and layed down. We followed suit.
    “Weirdo.” Sam muttered throwing his bottle at Alfie.
    “We’re twins. We share a brain.” He answered.
    “Thats a myth.” I muttered.
    “So are you.” He shot back.
    I shook my head and hugged up to Sam. He traced the line of my hip and across my stomach. puching my Belly button making me laugh. I Struggled and tryed to get away. But Alfie was suddenly on my other side tickling me.
    “Not fair.” I panted.
    “Lifes not fair.” Alfie shot back. True, true.
    They stopped. Though neither moved away.
    “This is awkward.” I whispered.
    Alfie laughed and rolled onto his back. I followed turning on my side so I faced him.
    Sam kept hold of me.
    “You got them both now?” Rachel laughed from up a near by tree.
    “What you doing up there?” I asked. She shrugged and jumped landing in a neat crouch right next to Alfie. She stretened and laughed. Then sat down next to him.


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