Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #143

Today’s words come to us from Sonia Simone of Remarkable Communication and Copyblogger fame. Show her some comment love.

BET YOU CAN’T do this writing prompt. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying all of 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, we BET YOU CAN’T do those, either.)

  1. Share
  2. Pineapple
  3. Crush
  4. Pterodactyl – the dino with wings
  5. Longingly 
  6. Blue
  7. Daughter
  8. Lips
  9. Excavate
  10. Fancy

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.)

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


183 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #143”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    “Anne! I’s wanted to share some good news with ya. I’s was drinkin’ a pineapple crush and lickin’ my lips when somethin’ amazin’ happened. Good ole Bobby was excavating dirt between the outhouse and slaughterhouse to put in some new plumbin’ for the bulls and he found some fancy Pterodactyl bones … No, it ain’t the blue one dat looks like a giraffe. Dis one flewd and took big craps on the blue ones. It kind of reminds me of Bobby’s daughter, Terra Dattoe Bumpkin, dat he’s always talking longingly about. Anyways, the museum wants to give us $1,000,000 for da bones. Alls we has to do is sign the contract, but we can’t read none. So we’d like to hire you to read it. We’ll send Billy’s cousin’s brother’s nephew to pick you up in a limo … What? How will you know if the limo is your limo? Well, the horse is brown and has lice, and the buggy’s one wheel is covered in bull pucky.”

  2. margaret says:

    I would like to share the story of the King’s daughter, who was blue because she had a crush on a pterodactyl she had seen in a storybook. She sat in her fancy castle tower, drinking pineapple daquiries while staring longingly into the horizon.

    Her lips blew wasted kisses, as she fantasized that if excavated, he would come whisk her away
    and they would live happily ever after (if he did not eat her first) 😉

  3. My orange Crush slushy looked pretty, but it didn’t taste very good. I looked longingly at the bright yellow fruit smoothie my daughter was delicately spooning to her lips. Without my having to say a word, she proffered the cup, always willing to share with her old man. Gratefully, I stabbed my fancy curled straw into the pineapple nectar and attempted to excavate a refreshing slurp without turning my mind blue with a brain freeze.

    Ouch. Too much. My brain shriveled to reptilian dimensions. Suddenly, I was a pterodactyl, flapping my arms uselessly while the cold wave pulsed through me.

    Delicious. I tossed out my cup and bought a smoothie.

    (For CCC Friends and Family Day I wrote this post:

    http://www.morphodesigns.com/archives/2011/lunch-with-stephen-king/ )

  4. Tanja Cilia says:

    The Pterodactyl; a weird name for a Pineapple Crush, but then all the ices on offer at Lips had fancy names. The blue 7Up Float was called, of course Avatar, and the Rocky Road ice-cream was re-christened Excavate. She thought longingly of her daughter, and how she would love to share this big mug of slush with her.

  5. “Are you going to share that?”

    Sonia arched an eyebrow at James’ question. Then she plucked a piece of pineapple from the bowl and leaned back in her chair as she bit the sweetness between her teeth. “Fancy that… I thought you didn’t like fruit.”

    James sighed longingly as Sonia licked her lips. The crush of the fruit had been audible… and tempting. “Well, I don’t, actually. But I’m thirsty and it… well, it looks good.” Blue eyes flicked to the computer screen where a video game waited on pause. “Fighting that Pterodactyl was hard work, y’know.”

    “James, your six-year-old daughter could beat that thing in 10 seconds flat.” Sonia pulled the bowl of pineapple closer and ate another piece. “Where’s your big girl pants?”

    “In the laundry.” James sighed again and turned back to play the next level – there was a rock she’d need to excavate. “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in doing it for me if I gave you $50.”

    “Not a chance, Jamie.” Sonia smiled and took another piece of fruit. “Not a chance.”

  6. Lydia says:

    Continuing from last week. I think it will be wrapped up in 1 or 2 more CCC challenges. 🙂
    “Eugene might know what happened,” Ed said as they walked out of Toy City with the plastic blue pterodactyl Marlene had picked out for their youngest grandchild’s birthday. “He was a few years older than Grandma Iris.”
    She bit her lips and nodded. After the party they drove to Shady Acres. A fancy (if a bit dusty) pineapple-hued banner tacked onto his door proclaimed Eugene the oldest resident of the facility.
    “Hi, Uncle Eugene,” Marlene said to the thin, alert man lying on the bed. She shared what she had learned about Adela’s death and the small daughter who buried with her. “I don’t understand how this could have happened,” she continued longingly. “Your father died before Iris was born and we were taught that great-grandma Adela was so crushed by his death that she became sick, too. What happened?”
    “She died,” he said after a pause. “That’s all I know.”
    “Didn’t anyone talk about it? What about the father?”
    “No. She just went away one day. Aunt Maude and Uncle John took us in. We didn’t talk about her much after that.” His face betrayed no flicker of emotion.
    “Oh.” She’d been hoping to excavate old truths before the old man finally died. If he didn’t know who would? Did Paradise have a town newspaper a hundred years ago?
    “How are your grandchildren?” Eugene asked.
    “Paul…” Ed began proudly.
    “They must have had a newspaper back then,” she said. “If we leave now we’ll have two hours to look for them before the library closes. We’ll be back next month. Tell Beverly we say hello.”

    • Hmmm, somebody’s driven, eh? I am enjoying this series – shame it has to end …

    • Anne Wayman says:

      love the ongoing story.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Lydia: Wow! How you wrote the end where they wanted to rush out after not even spending two seconds with the old man spoke volumes about this relationship. I love how you say things without saying them. You definitely know how to “show instead of tell”.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Very nice, Lydia!  I really like where this is going, and am eager to read more.
      But be careful when you say only “1 to 2 more” — I started a series that I thought would be done in around 6-8 episodes, and I just posted #16.  I currently have it mapped out to finish at #24, but wouldn’t be surprised if it somehow stretched out longer..  These things have a way of taking on a life of their own, lol!

  7. Cathy Miller says:

    Like so many of her beautiful people, Lolani opened her heart to share rich Hawaiian traditions. The annual Lanai Pineapple Festival was a different way to celebrate our country’s 4th of July. It was like the U.S. saved the best state for last.

    Lolani smiled with her welcoming, “Aloha,” as a crush of visitors crowded around the crafts displayed on her table.

    “Wow, a pterodactyl.” uttered one little boy.

    Lolani’s lyrical laughter kissed the morning breeze as she replied, “This is Mamala, the chieftress of Kupua. She was a beautiful surf rider who took many forms.”

    “You mean this is a sissy girl?”

    “Legends say she was a mo’o – a giant lizard. Others say she was both a shark and a woman”

    “Whoa, sharks and lizards are cool,” the small boy whispered as he looked longingly at the dragon-like shape through eyes as blue as the Pacific shore.

    Lolani’s heart ached at the memory of a daughter she lost at the young age of the boy. Her lips trembled as she fought to excavate the pain.

    “Take her as my gift,” she smiled through damp eyes.

    “You mean it?”

    “Yes, she is yours. She will protect you to grow big and strong, like a great warrior.”

    “Wow, I never had anything this fancy before. Cool. I have to go show Mom.”

    Racing away with his treasure, the small boy skidded to a halt. Turning he flashed a gap-toothed grin straight at Lolani’s heart.

    “Mahalo. I just learned that today. Oh yeah, Aloha, too.”

    “Aloha, Keiki kane.”

    He smiled his sweet smile. He didn’t know what the strange words meant, but they felt real nice – like the sound of his mother’s voice.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Cathy: Such a lovely story. This story made me think of a submission so far back that I can’t remember the datails or if you wrote it. I think it was of a carnival where a boy gave a carnival worker all the change he had, and although the item costs way more, the man said that was plenty. Do you remember that one? I’ll have to search the archives. I love when this jarring of my brain happens.

      • Cathy Miller says:

        @Shane-another fine example of my failing baby boomer brain 🙂 even the skidding to a halt was a repeat. 😦 Guess I like the story of young boys and their family. It was #82

        When I saw pineapple, I immediately thought of Hawaii, which is one of my favorite places on earth. I love the islands, the culture and the people.

        • Shane Arthur says:

          @Cathy: No! I think that’s great. I knew it had a familiar flavor. Reading this latest one was like remembering an old friend. Thanks for that.

    • This is really sweet, Cathy! All the goodness of life to buoy up the bittersweet memory of loss.
      I don’t know what those words mean, either, but they fit so nicely at the end.

    • Anne Wayman says:

      Cathy… this is really good… regardless of your view… a real coming of age story started here if you like, or as a stand-alone here.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Beautiful, Cathy!!!
      I really loved this — sweet, mesmerizing, and filled with such wonderful elements of Hawaii.
      Absolutely enchanting!!!

    • Kelly says:

      Cathy–Big sniffle. I am a sucker for the fuzzy familial stories. Nicely written!

  8. Sean says:

    “I don’t want to share!!!”
    Melissa shoved her thumb in her mouth and hugged her pineapple colored night night closer to her chest.
    “MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Skyler bellowed from across the room. “MELISSA’S NOT SHARING!!!!!”
    Jodi sighed, crushed her cigarette into the chipped, rust colored clay ashtray, then headed down the long hallway toward the back of the house.
    She loved that kid, but half the time he sounded like a fucking pterodactyl.
    She turned the corner into the house’s second bedroom, too small for two beds, instantly realizing she’d stayed at least two commercial breaks and one half cigarette too long.
    Bright pink smears arced across the blue walls, mingling with slight traces of at least half the other 63 crayons in the box.
    Skyler looked up. “Melissa won’t share!” he repeated.
    Jodi looked at her daughter, lips in a full pout, then back at the wall, horrified. “I can’t believe this,” she shook her head.
    “Wasn’t me!” Melissa’s arms were in an X across her chest with her head cocked to the side. She would’ve been wearing a sneer if six wasn’t slightly too young for that particular expression. She’d need to dig deep  – excavate her wavering will from the bottomless mines of mounting indifference.
    Jodi inhaled all the room’s oxygen, exhaled enough to rattle the windows, then said, “Alright Miss Fancy Pants – you need to march to your room right now. You have exactly 15 minutes to think up the most appropriate consequence for yourself. And you better make it good unless you want me to think of one better. Believe me, I’ll look forward to it. When you’re done, go directly to the kitchen. Do not pass GO and do not collect $200. There will be a bucket and sponge waiting. You won’t be doing a THING until that wall looks freshly painted.”
    Skyler had a smirk on his face and Melissa was about to open her mouth in protest. Jodi would have approximately none of either.
    “Not. One. Word.” She did an about face and headed back to the kitchen. She had a bucket to prepare and a fresh cigarette waiting.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Sean: We’ve missed you Master Platt. Great scene you painted here.

    • Anne Wayman says:

      I remember those days… nicely done

    • Sean, I actually cackled when you compared that little boy to a pterodactyl. 🙂
      This is a great vignette and reminds me of the antics my friend Melinda writes about on her FindingTheHumor blog.
      (I tried to tempt her over here but, so far, no luck.)

      • Sean says:

        Thanks everyone!
        It’s looking like I’ll have a lot more control of my schedule by the end of summer. Less flurry, more writing. Would LOVE to spend more time at the Triple C for sure!

      • Jesse says:

        @Sean Good one.  It may have given me a case of deja vu.

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Sean-great comeback-we missed you. This is soooo real. Ah, sibling ♥ 🙂

    • Chris Fries says:

      Oh, yes!!!   Wonderful!  And I just spent a little time last weekend ‘helping’ my 4-year old granddaughter clean off crayons from the wall, lol!
      Sweet, smooth, and effortless to read.  And I’m with Mitch — brilliant use of the ‘pterodactyl’ to describe Skyler’s screams. Great simile!  Although — is the word before ‘pterodactly’ used as an adjective or a verb???  It would alter the sound made, I’m sure…  ;^)

  9. Kelly says:


    Uncle Wilfred was always the funny uncle.

    He came down from the Acadian backwoods for a better life in New England. That much is true.

    It was said he was a lumberjack. Or a bootlegger. Or outrunning his past. That part was never clear, as Uncle Wilfred was an old French storyteller who loved to build an element of mystery for his nieces and nephews to marvel at.

    Unlike my Irish relatives, Wilfred had a way of telling a story in as few words as possible that I found fascinating. Was it to keep from showing his thick accent, as my mother thought? Was it because only the Irish feel the need to tell as story as slowly as possible, to excavate every detail so you feel the story along with us, and we weren’t used to another way? Was it to stop time, and let us linger with him in the story? Or was it because, as one of the happily-henpecked husbands in a family of seven loquacious daughters (my aunts), he’d learned to share the heart of the tale fast or forever hold his peace?

    Who knows? We loved him for it. We’d sit around Uncle Wilfred’s lounge chair—it was Grandpa’s really, but for some reason Grandpa always gave it up when Wilfred was around—watch him scratch his head, thick with wiry grey curls that looked almost blue, and smoke fancy Cuban cigars he claimed a brother smuggled to him, down through Canada—and we’d wait, knees pulled in to our chests, for the inspiration to come to him, when the words would tumble from his lips.

    He’d stop scratching those old curls and sit forward in the lounger, and stare longingly into the Canadian woods for a moment. Just the act of sitting forward helped us set up the story in our own minds. We could see the snow, bending the sapins verts, hear the crunch of his boots as he trudged home, bones aching, from work, and imagine him wishing for a day when he could afford smuggled Cuban cigars. Grandpa’s black-and-white television droned in the background, but we cousins heard nothing but Wilfred’s breathing, surely looking like frosty white puffs as he made that last hill through the woods, to the clearing where his Papa and Mama had built their cabin so long ago.

    Uncle Wilfred wasn’t the funny uncle for telling silly stories. If you wanted a guffaw you’d listen at dinner to Uncle Sam making up myths about the pterodactyls he met back when he was a caveman, or to Grandpa comparing a pineapple, prickly yet sweet, to our grandmother: “She really shines when you cut into her, kids—never settle for a lady who’s too obvious,” he’d say with a droll wink, accompanied by laughter and a roll of Grandma’s (very patient) brown eyes.

    No, Uncle Wilfred was funny in an odd sort of way. In as few words as he could, he’d set you down in the forest with him, tell you a lesson about life when he was a kid that would stick with you more than all the lectures your parents could ever give, and leave you with something the Irish never did—a crushingly bittersweet sense that time is already flying away from you, while you sit, rapt, at the foot of a lounger, watching Uncle Wilfred spin yarns in a very few words… making you long to walk back into the woods of his youth and stop time, pull your knees in to your chest, and sit at the foot of a snowcovered sapin vert as young Wilfred Rosaire trudges by.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kelly: Could there be a better example of the true love of words and language and storytelling than this? OUTSTANDING! Reading that again.

    • Anne Wayman says:

      Careful, your talent is showing 😉

    • What a showcase submission for Friends and Family Day at the CCC. Kelly, you’ve outdone yourself with this one!

    • Cathy Miller says:

      @Kelly-I love your family stories-such a gift you have.

      • Kelly says:

        Thanks Shane, Anne, Mitch, Cathy!!

        I did have an Uncle Wilfred, and I did have French-Canadian uncles, (and I’m Irish), but that’s where the truth stops and my imagination begins. Glad it gave everyone familial warm-fuzzy feelings. I am all about the warm-fuzzies!!

        • Lydia says:

          The best stories often start out with a grain of truth. Very nice. 🙂

          • Kelly says:

            Lydia—Exactly. Truth is, everyone’s stories start out with some grain of truth, because only you can write your stories, right? So in some way they’re coming from everything you’ve experienced up to that point. It’s all based, however incredibly loosely, on the true story of you… erm, or in this case, the true story of me.   😀

    • Chris Fries says:

      Wow Kelly — that was simply awesome.  You had me as rapt and engrossed as the kids were.
      Each paragraph was a jewel of language and imagry and immersive, magical moments.
      U Da Bomb, Babe!    :not-worthy:

  10. Anne Wayman says:

    Back when the Pterodactyl longingly graced the blue my nascent daughter had fancy dreams of excavating a pineapple to share with Shane the crush with other limpid lips.

  11. Anne Wayman says:

    called leaving you hanging?

    (sigh, there I go again… can I blame it on you?)

  12. Can I share an awful story with you?
    Recently, I decided to stop procrastinating and fish the gunk of out of my decaying koi pond. I grabbed a clump of what looked like brown weeds and attempted to hoist them up. Way heavier than I expected. So, heavy I had to leverage my body against one of the tacky pineapple urns ringing the pond.
    A young girl’s blue face and lips jumped out at me. The head and neck had been detached from the body. I let out a blood-curdling scream and released my fingers. Her slimy hair slithered beneath the surface.
    I knew her.
    She was Diana, the 16-year old daughter of Vinny, the ex-con my husband hired to excavate the deserted strip mall and land he wanted to build a local casino on. While peeling back the parking lot asphalt, Vinny found the remains of a creature on the property and brought it to my husband’s attention. He told Vinny to rebury it.
    Vinny refused and brought it to the town’s archaeologist on staff, Dr. Sahara.
    Upon examining it, Sahara got all animated and started shouting, “It’s a Pterodactyl. This is extremely rare. The entire excavation needs to cease.”
    Of course, my husband a successful casino developer didn’t appreciate his project being shut down indefinitely. He threatened Vinny.
    “I got you out of jail and look how you repay me. You’ll be sorry you crossed me.”
    That was 4 months ago. Diana had disappeared a month ago while walking home from her job at The Fancy Mare, a greasy spoon luncheonette on the outskirts of town.
    My husband had been a suspect but released for lack of the body.
    The discovery in the pond would destroy our lives. I loved my husband but knew he had developed a dark side during two years of solitary confinement at a horrific POW camp in Hanoi. I’d had a crush on him throughout high school and when he came back from the Viet Nam War, we began dating and married a year later.
    I looked longingly at the caricature of my husband tattooed on my inner thigh and knew what needed to be done.
    I went into the shed and grabbed a 40-pound bag of mixing cement and a spade …

  13. Sam hated the idea of having to share her new discovery. The other researchers wouldn’t care. She knew that. Her labors were over and beyond theirs. But she knew she had to tell someone else. Just the thought of it put a that-pineapple-was-too-sour look on her face. After she worked her face back to normal, she walked subtly over to Russell’s workstation.
    “Russell, you won’t believe it. What I just found will crush all of the previous theories we ever had,” she whispered, so as to not get the attention of the numerous other researchers in the room.
    Russell laughed. “Do you remember the last time you told me that? You told me you found a way to clone a pterodactyl. How well did that work out for you?”
    Sam looked longingly at Russell. Maybe if she gave him the puppy-dog eyes, he’d have a little more sympathy and be more willing to believe her.
    Russell chuckled a little and gave in. “Ah, you look so blue. Ok, what is it? I’m all ears.”
    “Do you remember Bring Your Child to Work Day last week?”
    “How could I forget? There were so many kids in here. I couldn’t get anything accomplished.”
    “Exactly. Well, the thing is, Henry’s daughter stole something from my desk.”
    “What did she steal?”
    “A little thing I’ve been working on. I had totally forgotten that it was Bring Your Child to Work day, and I left it out on my desk. I was hoping the children would be a little bit more mature than that.”
    “But you’re not telling me what she stole,” said Russell, getting a little agitated. He was more of a straight-to-the-point type of guy.
    “It’s a compound that slows down metabolism. And the problem is, it would have looked like jawbreakers when they were just sitting on my desk. But they’re down in the vaults now.”
    “Are you certain she took some?” asked Russell, now sitting at the edge of his seat.
    “I’m positive. I could see it on her lips.”
    “They usually enlarge a little after one takes the tablet. And her lips were double normal size.”
    “Well, what can we do then?”
    “I could go down to the vaults and excavate my own tablets and find a way to reverse it. Or I could go to an even more fancy facility in Switzerland and see if they can help.”
    “Why don’t we just keep it here. We don’t want it getting out that we’re testing children now.”
    “But we’re not,” said Sam.
    “But we could.”
    “Ok, I’ll go downstairs and see what I can do then.” Sam turned around and smiled. She knew Russell would see it her way; she just needed to test him first.

  14. sefcug says:

    In no particular order today, the words just shouted out this story to me:


    A Child’s View of Things
    My daughter came to me to share her fancy drawing.
    I could see her looking at me longingly, seeking approval of her artistic efforts.
    I struggled to excavate something positive to say about the blue and yellow mess that looked like a pterodactyl atop a pineapple. I didn’t want to crush her feelings so I simply said, “Honey, that’s very colorful.”
    “Thanks Dad! I knew you liked to watch SpongeBob with me, so I wanted to show you Patrick getting a piggy back ride from SpongeBob but, I ran out of pink and used blue for Patrick instead.”, she said.
    I had a very hard time keeping a straight face, as my lips wanted to form a smile.
    Always be careful what you say to young children because, you never know where their fertile minds will take them.

    @Sonia Thanks the whole idea brightened up my day!

  15. Rebecca says:

    Shane drank his Pineapple Crush drink as if he never tasted liquids before in his life. There was no way he was about to share with his best friend Rob, even though both of them were on the same JV baseball team. It was a hot Southern day and practice was excruciating. As he was jugging down his drink he noticed Blue Taylor, the ‘hot’ new girl at McKinley High School running on the track. She was the daughter of a big shot archaeologist who would excavate ancient ruins for museums or something like that; her mom was a former model. The family just moved to Shelbyville. Everyone was talking about Blue’s fancy clothes. He didn’t notice, but he noticed her plump ruby red lips. He longingly thought about kissing her. “Hey, lover boy.” said Ashlee. Crap! There’s nothing worse than an overachieving older sister. Shane used to refer to her as a Pterdactyl when he was little.

  16. These words inspired this poem from me today:

    Public Affection

    Excavate this hidden love
    daughter of fancy royalty
    let your heart soar
    like a pterodactyl
    blue skies
    Share your crush longingly
    let lips sweet as pineapple
    touch mine softy, slowly
    embracing without shame
    in public
    -Poem by Justin Germino

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Justin G.: THAT’S my all-time favorite!

    • Chris Fries says:

      Sultry and simply beautiful, Justin!
      <smart-ass-for-comic-effect-only> It sounds to me like you’ve got a crush on the new Princess Kate… </smart-ass-for-comic-effect-only>

      • I wasn’t inspired by the royal couple but the moment I wrote the line daughter of fancy royalty, I did start imagining they must keep things rather “inconspicuous” in public eyes and it kind of set the rest of the poem.  This is one of the fewer poems that I wrote top down (1st line first).  Most poetry I just write a few lines and then rearrange and build them up or down them to where I think they fit best, like a jig saw puzzle.

        • Chris Fries says:

          No kidding?  I never realized that — interesting.  I always just assumed you’d start at the top.  What if there’s a rhyming scheme you’re trying to fit the lines into?

          • Watch how I build a Twitter poem here -> http://www.wandererthoughts.com/creating-a-poem/ I use the same technique to building the Creative Copy Challenge poems because it is essentially the same thing.
            As far as rhyming lines, I often will write a single line, then write a corresponding rhyming line right after or place it before.  I write the rhyming lines in sets, but sometimes re-arrange the order of the sets to make them fit better or I have even changed up the last word with a synonym instead to make it rhyme better or fit better.  Rhyming poems are the ones that undergo the most amount of “rewrite” out of any poems I do.

          • Chris Fries says:

            Wow!  Very interesting, informative, and inspirational, Justin!   Too cool.

            Thanks for the link!

  17. Chris Fries says:

    Wow!  The joint is jumpin’ today!  Awesome!
    Here’s my submission:
    The Look of Murder — Part 16

    It was around six o’clock when I pulled away from Powell’s home in East Detroit.  He’d claimed his wife Vivian was at her parents’ house, supposedly in Flint.  I wanted to drive up there right away, but Powell hadn’t bothered to share Vivian’s maiden name, so it would have been pointless to spend an hour to get there and then go driving around in the dark trying to smoke her out.  I needed more information first, on both Powell and his wife.

    I went back to my apartment and used the phone to call Joan at home.

    “Hello, Princess,” I said when she answered. “How’s tricks?”

    “My tricks are fabulous,” she said. “Right now I’m practicing one where I turn a pineapple into a pterodactyl. Works great, but the hard part is changing the darn thing back.  Now I’m stuck with piles of pterodactyl poop all over my rug.”

    I laughed. 

    “So what’s cooking, Sharpe?” she said.  “Is this another something-for-nothing phone call where you use me to get what you want and then crush my heart by kicking me to the curb afterwards?”

    “No, Doll, I swear.  I’ll take you out to a fancy dinner, I promise.  We’ll paint the town red.  I just need you to look up a few things for me tomorrow at the Library.”

    She snorted.  “Sharpe, I don’t know why I fall for your lines.  Your promises are usually forgotten as soon as they’re off your lips.”  Then she sighed.  “Alright — but you really owe me, so I want dinner at the London Chop House.  I want to dine with all the blue-blood muckity-mucks.”

    Ouch.  A meal like that was going to cost an arm and a leg.  But she was worth it, and I owed her many times that.  “Ok.  You got it, Toots,” I said.  “Now, here’s what I need — Remember that Warren Powell from Thurston Motors you dug up dirt on today?  I need more on him, and on his wife Vivian.  She’s supposedly from Flint.  See if you can excavate any info on when they were married, her maiden name, and an address for the parents.  Maybe they put something in the Flint papers, maybe five to ten years ago, announcing that their daughter was getting married.”

    “That’s all?  You don’t want me to find Amelia Earhart, too?”

    I laughed again.  “Not this time.”  Joan was a hoot.  “But I do thank you a bunch for all you do, Kiddo.  And we’ll have that dinner soon, I promise.”

    “Yeah, sure.  In the meantime I’ll just spend my time looking longingly into all the fancy restaurant windows.”

    “Thanks, Doll.  You’re swell.  I’ll call you tomorrow,” I said, and then hung up.

    Next I called Johnny Mangano and told him I might have a lead on the girl in the pictures.  I filled him in on what I knew and then asked him to see what he could dig up on Powell and his wife, but to not mention that she might be the broad in the nudie pics.  I wanted to keep that under my hat; I didn’t want the cops barging in too soon.

    Finally I tried calling Samuel Dotson, but there was no answer at his office.  It was still before seven, and I thought there was a chance he might be there.  I really wanted to talk to him about Margaret, so I drove across town.  It made me feel like I was at least doing something.

    Dotson’s law offices were in a new single story, modern building in Highland Park.  He’d been there only about a year. He was working his way up Woodward, and would probably be in Birmingham by 1955.  I parked the car in the lot and noticed that there were a few other cars next to the building.  I figured the front door into the lobby was locked, so I tried the back door, closest to the polished black Cadillac that I guessed was Dotson’s.  The door was locked, so I pounded on it for a good thirty seconds.

    Eventually it worked — I’d annoyed them enough for someone to come to the door.  It burst open and Dotson thrust his head out.  He was scowling.  “What the Hell is going on?” he said.  “This office is closed.”

    Then he noticed that it was me.  He blinked, and he definitely didn’t seem pleased to see me, but at least his scowl softened to only a frown.

    “What are you doing here, Sharpe?  Don’t you know how busy I am?”  He made no move to invite me in.

    “Why haven’t you returned my calls?” I said.  “I wanted to know how the case was going, how Margaret is, when she’s going to get out.”

    He glanced around the parking lot, then held the door open.  “Come in, but only for a second.”  I followed him in, but we didn’t go to his office.  He stopped right there in the back hall.  “I don’t have time to get into this now,” he said.  “But Mrs. Thurston is doing as well as can be expected, and I am planning on getting her out on bail by tomorrow.  There’s a lot of work to do, but I’m pretty certain I can get eventually her off.”

    “Yeah, see?” I said.  “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.  I’ve been doing some digging, and –”

    “Why?  There’s really no need, Sharpe.  I appreciate all you’ve done for Mrs. Thurston, but I’ve got the case well in hand.”

    I was floored.  I’d figured he’d been busy, but I also thought he’d welcome any information I could give him.  I hadn’t expected him to try to brush me off.

    “Come on, Dotson,” I said.  “What kind of lawyer are you?  Don’t you want to know what I’ve found?  It might help the case.”

    He sighed and shook his head, like I was nothing but some fink off the street, hounding him for spare change.  “Sure.  But make it quick — I need to finish the motions I’m going to file with the judge in the morning.”

    “Do you know who Warren Powell is?” 

    He raised his face and his eyes met mine, and he slowly shook his head.  “The name’s not ringing a bell.”

    “He works for Thurston Motors. He was in the Thurston’s office before Thurston took off to the cabin.”

    “And so?” 

    “The guy’s married, but it seems his wife’s suddenly gone AWOL, and on top of that, she looks like she just might match the description of the broad on the film.”

    Dotson’s eyebrows rose.  “You know what’s on the film?  Where’d you get that information?”  Dotson suddenly didn’t seem so eager to get rid of me.

    I didn’t volunteer my source — that was between Johnny and me.  “These Powells kind of make you curious don’t they?”
    Dotson paused, like he was thinking, then he went back to being impatient.  “Yeah, but there’s hundreds of reasons why the guy’s wife might not be home.  And there’s a million dames who might be the one on the film, so you’re just wasting your time on wild goose chases if you try to go after the floozy wife of every deviant you meet.”  He grabbed my arm and opened the door.  “Look, I am seriously pressed for time here, Sharpe.  Once I get Margaret out, we can sit down and I’ll fill you in on what’s really happening with the case.  Then I may need you to do a little investigating, on real leads.  Wait a day or two and I’ll call you.”

    Dotson had maneuvered me out the door before I could even say anything.  I guess I was too confused to protest too heavily, and the door closed on me.

    I didn’t get it.  But Dotson was a decent lawyer, and he’d certainly been talking to Margaret.  Maybe he already had inside information that would clear her, like he said, so he wasn’t interested in anything I could bring him.

    I got back in my car and drove away.

    Maybe Dotson was right about it being a wild goose chase, and so I’d go home, grab a bite and have a nightcap or two and mull it over.  Then I’d see how I felt in the morning.  Maybe I’d be able to talk to Margaret once Dotson got her out, and then it would make sense.

    But with nothing else to do in the meantime but sit and wait, I’d probably still prefer to chase geese.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Chris: I just got that old “This Joint Is Jumping” song stuck in my head. But that’s a welcomed happening, just like this excellent post.

    • Let fly the geese of chases! I’m having total fun – it’s like getting a head start on the summer beach reading.
      I love how you skillfully get even the toughest words into your story. Unlike someone else we know.

      • Chris Fries says:

        Thank you very much, Mitch — I always appreciate your kind words.
        And, yeah I admit — sometimes it is a challenge to squeeze a word in.  Even onomatopoeia doesn’t work with ‘pterodactyl’.  So I do thank you for saying that, but as for your second part — don’t be too hard on Shane.  The poor guy’s trying, and he does a fabulous job of maintaining this madhouse, so you at least have to give him credit for that…  ;^)

        • Ooh, Chris! You tryin to get me in trouble? LOL
          How many vegetables can you find in onomatopoeia?

          • Chris Fries says:


            And, uhhh….  How about ‘tomato’, ‘potato’, ‘pea’, ‘onion’ (if you use the ‘n’ twice), and ‘meat’ (like, maybe a brain-dead cow might qualify).  Any others?

          • Gotcha! Since you mentioned using the n twice, I will let that slide. However, there’s only one ‘t’. 🙂
            Pea works, and I Googled weird vegetables to come up with Petai and Poi.
            You get bonus points for twisted humor with meat. LOL

          • Chris Fries says:

            Where’d that second ‘t’ go???  LOL!   Maybe I was thinking of ‘tontomatopoeia.’ You know — using the sounds that the Long Ranger’s side-kick makes as a word, right Kemo Sabe?
            It’s amazing how the human mind wants to make those connections, even when some of the pieces are clearly missing…
            Nice one, Mitch!

          • LOL. To be fair, I saw all those veggies, too. That’s why, when I did a double-take and realized there was no second ‘t’, I had to see if you would fall for it, too.
            From your explanation, you probably sounded the word out and focused on the sounds, rather than the letters.

  18. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane. Lol … I remember tormenting my older sister when she had a boyfriend. I was somewhat of a brat when I was kid. Luckily, I grew out of it 🙂

  19. Jen says:

    I’ll never forget that first date. He took me to the midnight premiere of “Pterodactyl Moon,” which we’d been awaiting since we read the book. In fact, that’s how we met, waiting in line for the next in the series. My crush was immediate and epic. When he finally excavated the courage to ask me for a date, I’d about turned blue with impatience.
    After the movie, we walked down the street to Fancy Nancy’s where we ordered drinks and fries. He ordered Pineapple Planet, for us to share, with two straws. The sweet and sour of it puckered my lips. Of course, we stared longingly across the table at each other. That’s what first dates are for, when you’re sixteen and someone’s daughter, and you have to be home by curfew.

  20. meek willed says:

    When I finally got back to the house  mum was in the kitchen rummaging through the fridge for a pineapple or maybe the Frazier look for pterodactyl breast think the best before date says 3000 ad instead of 3000 BC (there is some really old stuff in that Frazier).
    I looked longingly in to sue beautiful blue eye and as she blushed i move in kissing her gently on the lips.
    But as I went to move away she pull my head back down so she could passionately kiss me and I kiss back just glad to share this moment with her.
    After I was released from her in intoxicating spell of a kiss I knew I that i did merely fancy sue or gust had a crush her I was uncontrollably in love with her and even tho’ my mum love sue like she was her own daughter but she want to excavate ever little thing that was going on between me and sue as if she didn’t trust ether of us.

  21. Sonia Simone says:

    Love these! You guys are geniuses. 🙂

  22. Rebecca says:

    @ Chris … Thanks! I may use this one as a starting point for a YA short story.

  23. Jesse says:

    She didn’t mean to embarrass her daughter.
    The mere whiff of the fancy blue drink made her lips purse longingly in anticipation of connecting with the straw that would most certainly deliver the magical elixir.
    She swooped in like a Pterodactyl, that had no desire to share its lunch.  She hurriedly excavated the pink umbrella, the skewer of pineapple chunks and the corkscrew straw, before taking the first long, loud sip.
    Out of the corner of her eye, her daughter saw the blue concoction slowly drip its way down her mom’s chin.  She deftly handed her mom a cocktail napkin, took a sip of her Orange Crush and turned to slink to the other end of the room.

  24. Deirdre Reid says:

    Should I have worn lipstick? Oh, who am I kidding, I never wear lipstick. He’s either going to like the real unvarnished me, or not. Damn, I’m still nervous.

    I knew this moment would happen, well, I hoped and dreamed this moment would happen, why didn’t I lose some weight? This might be my one chance to woo him, to intrigue him. Oh shut up already. I’m sure I’ll enchant him if I just relax and not be so damn self-conscious.

    I think I look good. This shade of blue flatters my skin and eyes. Nothing too fancy. He’s not that kind of guy and I’m not that kind of gal. Breathe. He’ll be back soon. I must have been doing all the talking because I’ve hardly touched my beer and his is nearly gone.

    This restaurant is so retro or dated, depending on your mood. I bet these are the original furnishings, probably from the 70s. I could be in high school on a hot date, except I don’t remember having any hot dates in a Chinese restaurant. I’m not even sure I remember any hot dates unless you count making out in someone’s car. Hmm, that could be fun.

    Oh good god, I have such a huge crush on him. I better contain myself so I don’t scare him off. I have visions of being a lusty female Pterodactyl, like that tapestry over there, swooping down and clutching him up in my talons. Or is that a dragon? Dinosaurs don’t breathe fire or attack temples, do they?

    Am I acting desperate? No, I just know what I want. He’d enhance my life, not complete me. That I do truly believe. That’s the comfortable thing about this romance, in my head. I’m older. I’m in tune with me. I’ve done the work to dig deep, peel away the layers, excavate the goodness and be happy with life. But, I can’t help myself, I’m sort of crazy about this guy.

    I have one photo of him from the beach that I look at longingly, wondering how his lips would feel during a kiss, how his body would feel during… Just thinking about him my heart and hands get that electric feeling. Breathe. Here he comes.

    The décor finally wins us over. We decide to share a jumbo Mai Tai. Our waiter glides toward us balancing a huge pineapple on his tray. It’s bigger than his head! Two large bendy straws stick out along with a palm tree and an umbrella. I love a drink with accessories.

    Our first “us” thing. I wouldn’t admit out loud that I’m thinking about an “us” yet. He seems like a genuinely happy good guy. We talk about all kinds of things – our time at the beach, friends, trips, music, politics and family. He tells me his daughter really liked me. Wait, why would he tell me that?

    This is when I stopped over-analyzing everything and got out of my head and into our hot date.

    • Kelly says:

      Deirdre—Great scene. This line rocks: “I love a drink with accessories.” That had me laughing out loud—it’s such a telling statement about the narrator!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Deirdre: I loved this style. It reads super fast—which shows you did a fantastic job relaying the feeling of excitement she felt. I almost couldn’t read it fast enough to keep up with the thoughts she was revealing to me. Cool!

      Can’t believe it’s been 57 challenges since I last saw your words. That date must have gone well, huh! 😉

      • Deirdre Reid says:

        Hi Shane, it’s been far far too long. I’ve been meaning to come back, it’s just a question of making it a weekly priority. Creativity is a muscle I want to exercise more often. Ha ha, I never went on that particular date but the psychobabble does sound like an earlier version of me. I’m thinking I might have to make a giant pineapple drink soon. “Honey, I saw it in a dream.”

    • Whew. Time to catch my breath. I woke up the neighborhood when I read this line:
      Our waiter glides toward us balancing a huge pineapple on his tray. It’s bigger than his head!
      For some reason, Sandra Bullock seems to be sharing this narrative…
      I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into your character’s head.

    • Chris Fries says:

      Fabulous fun, and very creative Deirdre!  I really enjoyed this.  ;^)

  25. Anne Maybus says:

    It was a fancy spread, cupcakes and parfait glasses sitting side by side.  The table was a mass of colour and calorie.  In the middle was the star of the day, a pineapple cake complete with its green crown reigning supreme like a pterodactyl guarding its spoils.

    I looked longingly at the chocolate mousse cake; my lips could already feel that velvety richness sliding into tastebud heaven.

    “Mum, do you want to share a dessert?” asked my elfin daughter with the elfin appetite.

    Share?  That word isn’t in my vocabulary when it comes to chocolate and dessert.

    With a little leverage from the arm of my elfin but surprisingly strong daughter I managed to excavate my rear end from the chair and stood, armed and ready to attack the dessert table with gusto.

    An elbow here and a hip bump there and suddenly I am at the head of the queue.

    “Aren’t people nice?” I say to my daughter but for some reason she is standing a little way apart from me.


    I picked up a bowl and spoon and began to trawl the table looking for chocolate delicacies.  That pterodactyl guarding the table was a little off-putting but not enough to dampen my appetite.

    I have perfected a technique that allows me to crush huge serves into my bowl without being obvious so I stuff it with the remaining serves of mousse cake and make it back to my table.

    I can’t wait to taste those delicious layers of chocolate cake and chocolate mousse.

    I pulled up my chair and lower myself carefully into it but suddenly feel myself flopping to the ground.  I hit the floor with a thud.  How embarrassing.  But even worse, my bowl has fallen with me, landing upside down in the lap of my favourite blue dress.

    Not the mousse cake!  I’ve been waiting for it all night.

    Conscious of everyone looking at me, I refuse to make eye contact. Instead, I slide my hand out to the fallen spoon and grasp it securely, bringing it back to the mess in my lap.

    Well, they didn’t think I’d waste it did they?

  26. Tiffany Hudson says:

    I looked out the plane window and watched the clouds.
    It had been a three months since we had left on our honeymoon – I know a long honeymoon – and I must say I was happy to be going home. I missed my family with a passion stronger than I had ever thought possible.
    Sam was asleep next to me.
    I found out last week I was pregnant with a daughterFancy that. Never thought it would happen.

    We landed and I woke up Sam. He bolted up, hit his head on the planes celin and knocked him self out. I giggled quitely as he woke up after a couple of seconds.
    “What-happened?” Sam strung the sentance together.
    “The Plane landed and you knocked your self out.” I giggled and he grabbed me and kissed me gentaly. 

    When we made our way outside after getting our luggage I stopped a blue Dodge Viper parked near us with a couple inside making out.
    Sam hadn’t seen them so I grabbed his hand and walked over.
    “God, I’ve only been gone a couple of months could of told me.” I laughed.
    Marla jumped and looked at me guilt written over her face.
    “I wanted it to be a surprise!” She muttered as we got in. 
    “Realy, because I always knew you had a major crush on him.” I giggled.
    she looked at me over her shoulder and I laughed her lips and chin had make-up all over them. 
    “You got a bit of stuff on your face. Well everywhere.” Sam laughed. 
    “Coral. Why didn’t you tell me?” Alfiee asked offended. I lent over and kissed his cheek like a sister would. 
    “I didn’t want to be sick.” 
    “Oh and I did?” He sped off hitting 90mph before I could even breath. 
    “He drives fast.” Marla laughed. 
    “We have news for you two.” Sam told them. 
    “Yeah whats that my pterodactyl like brother.” Afliee cackled.
    I looked at Marla with a ‘Why?’ look on my face she shrugged.
    “Oh, we are having barbeque at the boys house.” Marla said smiling.
    “I might be moving in with them.” I said to her.
    “Why?” Aflie asked.
    “Don’t want her to then Al?” Sam laughed. 
    “You two together all the time? I’ll pass.” Alfiee grinned at me in the mirror. 
    “Eyes on the road or you will be in the road staring longingly at the back of the car as I drive off.”
    He nodded and went back to driving.
    “I don’t know how much more I can take of this.” Sam muttered
    I looked at him quickly. 
    “What does that mean!” I screamed it and Aflie nearly swirved off the road.  
    “Cor, whats wrong? You never get like this.” Marla asked.
    “I want pineapple.” I crossed my arms across my chest and sulked.
    “You had four before we came out.” Sam said to me.
    “Still want one.” 
    Sam sighed and took my hand.
    “I’m sorry. I love you little one.” He smiled at me and I kissed his check. 
    “Share the girl” Alfiee said to him.
    I laughed.

    P.s: I didn’t have time to finish this one. Sorry.

  27. Michelle says:

    “I shared pineapple with my crush today!” Casey beamed. She poked at the Slushie with a straw, bringing the excavated syrup to her lips. Though she was the daughter of a New York socialite Casey had about as much grace as a pterodactyl. She watched longingly as a blue rivulet made its way down her fancy lace top.

  28. Downward spiral part 4

    The first few days after Sarah left were sheer torture for me. I tried to leave but I could not make it past the door. Some force was holding me inside. Eventually I would fall into some sort of fog, wishing Sarah were back her with me, looking longingly at the door I could not leave, thinking of the pistol in the upstairs closet that could facilitate my escape. Wishing to share more intimate moments, to kiss her lips and talk about the daughter that we would never have.
    I moped for days, refusing to go back to the basement, but not being able to get out of the door. I went through the house in a depressed fury, breaking all of the fancy things that Sarah and I had bought, crushing all of the memories that I could.
    I sat in the kitchen staring at the refrigerator, knowing it was almost empty, wondering if the pineapple in there was edible or if the blue popsicle had any real flavor left.
    One day a magazine arrived through the mail slot in the front door. It was an advertisement for a series of books on dinosaurs, buy as many as you want, cancel anytime. I went to throw it in the pile of junk in the front room but for some reason I stopped when I noticed the pterodactyl on the back, attacking some small mammal. “Something” came over me. I felt cold and hot at the same time, perfect calm and inhuman rage at the same time. A drum began to beat in my head and I was drawn down the stairs to the basement.
    The feeble lights seemed to turn on of their own accord as I walked the length of the basement. The drum grew louder and louder as I got closer to the wall where the manacle holes were located. The floor began to vibrate under my feet, the dirt moving as if something heavy were thumping nearby, or something was trying to get out.
    Drawn to one particular place in the floor, I began to dig. I dug with my fingers until they were bloody and then found a shovel. I began to excavate the basement.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Justin Matthews: This is another story I could read over and over. Write you some books, man!

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