Tearful, Daffy, Quicksand

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The first thing I noticed when I met her was the Daffy duck tattoo on her calf. She was wearing a mustard colored t-shirt and black jeans with black timberland boots. I walked up to her at the bar and said somtheing stupid.

“Suffering succotash!” She looked at me with a grin that I eventually discovered was her attempt at holding back a laugh, because then she laughed.

I tried to keep going, using Daffy’s speech.

“Whath are you drinking?”

Then she answered back in Daffy’s voice, “Theven and Theven.” She said.

I didn’t expect that either, how quickly we could get on the same page.

It carried on like that for five years. Parties, concerts, trips, moving in together, family gatherings, movies, books, tv shows; all the funner things in life.

Now I’m sitting here, trying to comprehend why she’s crying on the bed and me, the constant stoic, can’t seem to muster anything up but tearful words.

Maybe we had forgotten the other side of life, the parts that aren’t fun. The parts where I drink too much, maybe she’s a little too flirty, maybe I look for too long when we go out, the constant barrage of comments from strangers and familiars about her weight (no matter what it is).

Maybe we never addressed those things, paid enough attention to those so we didn’t find ourselves here, dealing with a life we built while not being able to take a break from reality (work, bills, pets, prior engagements; those other things of life).

How do we get back to being on the same page? That’s what we keep asking ourselves.

Now she’s packing a bag, headed to a friends house while we “work on things.” It’s normal, it’s valid and maybe even healthy, but honestly, it doesn’t feel right.

Can’t there be a place on earth where nonsense is the only thing that makes sense? A wonderland where we live and anyone looking in feels like Alice looking through the glass.

Right now, we’re in quicksand. The more we force things, the faster we sink.

It seems time is the only rope to pull us out of this. Just like five years went by in the span of a laugh, maybe this will go by in the span of a cry.

That’s scary because a cry feels a lot longer than a laugh, especially when I can still hear it’s echoes reverberating off the walls of our life.

All I can think about now is her coming back home and me opening the door and greeting her with an exaggerated “suffering succotash” just so I can hear her laugh.

Ocean, Ketchup, Shoe

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

The ketchup bottle was nearly empty. It was plastic and so every squeeze became a foreshadowing of the private storms I would experience after the meal.

It wasn’t the food that was bad. No, in fact it was quite good, albeit unhealthy. It was the motion of the boat rocking along in the chop of the Northern Atlantic. It would be a wonder if I could finish the meal without a brisk walk to the room while tightening my sphincter, out of necessity rather than for pleasure.

So far, the walks had looked like I was holding a water balloon filled with undercooked chili between my legs. My shoes shuffling from deck to carpet. Toes extending, reaching down to each step with speed and agility, always mindful of the thin bladder full of steamy soup.

It was the cheeseburger and fries that finally poked through the stretched skin of the bladder. Of all the exotic foods I’d eaten, it was to be the most familiar to me that would burst me open too soon and spill my pride out in front of everyone in the over crowded buffet.

In the moment, my heart stopped and I felt my tight grip on that ‘oh so under appreciated nether cavity’ loosen. The room slowed and just before the dam burst, I scanned the room in slow motion, taking in all of the meals I’d had during the two weeks on board.

Wisps of steam curled away from the beef stroganoff, a heaping pile of chicken and potato curry falling into a bed of rice, barbecue braised short ribs dripping onto the plate of a man with sweat glistening from his jiggling turkey neck, bread pudding slopping onto a plate, ice cream swirling, lobster cracking, egg yolks spilling, then my eyes turned down to my own plate. I had thought the burger my safest choice.

As my pants filled, my head began shaking feverishly and I thought, “Et tu, burger?”

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Sandwich, Nose ring, Broken

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

My eyes watered as the needle entered my septum, pushing through the barbel that would need to reside there for at least nine months before the intentional wound healed.

I paid the woman and left to grab lunch before returning to work. A sandwich.

The new hole in my nose felt foreign as I opened and closed my mouth around the BLT. Chewing seemed to shift the barbell around the recently punctured cartilage.

I kept wanting to pull at the flesh of my nose between each nostril. Each touch, however, sent me into an eye-watering, blink frenzy.

Although my nose wasn’t broken, I thought about the long nine month journey of sanitizing the piercing and staving off infection.

If eating this sandwich was a pain in the nose what would everything else be like? God forbid I’d need to pick my nose with or without a middle man i.e. tissue.

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The sound of music; The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe; The inn of the sixth happiness

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
These three movie titles provided by @yvonnefankhanel

The hills were alive the the sounds of clanging metal and crashing wood. Their cacophony was carried through the valleys below.

In a small cottage carved into one of the hillsides, a witch worked, dancing around her cauldron, throwing in many different ingredients. Carrots, leaks, cabbage, potatoes, celery, onions, beats, garlic, beef, venison, and chicken. Using a big spoon she stirred the stew while thinking of the dinner she had been unexpectedly invited to serve at the Inn of the 7th happiness. Or was it the 6th? No time to waste on meaningless details.

As the stew boiled, the witch prepared a basket with breads, butter and jams. Outside she hitched up a scraggly donkey to a cart twice its size. She changed robes, an identical long dark green robe with a hood, and brushed her hair.

The cauldron would be impossibly heavy and hot to carry but she had placed the fire under a steel cart with wheels that could be locked. Unlocking the wheels, she rolled the hot cart with steaming stew out to the donkey cart.

It was dusk, so she’d need to hurry and get down by night fall.

She pulled off a wrench from the back of the donkey cart. By the handle of the smaller stew cart, she clasped the wrench and began turning it, slowly lifting the pot to the level of the donkey cart.

Once at the right height, she pulled herself up to the donkey cart and attached the wrench to another lever, twisting it. This time, two boards extended out from the donkey cart underneath the cauldron, like the tines of a fork gently cradling a pea or shallot.

Shimmying the stew cart under the extended wood planks, she ensured the pot was secure, then she pulled the pot into the back of the donkey cart by reversing the twists with the wrench.

She lifted the stew cart, now cooler, behind the pot and secured the back gate of the donkey cart.

The distance down to the inn was short. Had she walked it would have taken a few minutes but with the full pot of stew, it took her nearly half of an hour.

When she arrived at the inn, the guests and innkeepers were waiting.

“I’ve brought the stew, now we can all eat!”

A few villagers ran around the back of the cart, pointing.

“As we suspected! That cauldron must be 10,000 pounds at least!” said a villager.

“Not quite, but it is heavy.” replied the witch, but nobody noticed.

“She must have had to use witchcraft to lift such a heavy object herself!”

“No, I built this–” started the witch but she didn’t finish because the villagers had grabbed her.

“She’s a witch, trying to poison us with her magic brew! Burn her!”

And so it would be an incredibly long and unnecessary time before machinery was introduced to humans as they burned her, the cart, the donkey and of course, the stew was ruined.

The Chef, Braveheart, Nacho Libre

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
These three movie titles provided by @refinedcravings

“You may take our lives but you will never take our freedom!” He said, staring at me, breathing hard through his teeth. Saliva was being pushed through his teeth with the ebb and flow of his breath. A snot bubble was beginning to form. He wiped his nose with a hand and wiped his hand on his apron. His other hand rested on a cutting board next to a large knife and some minced garlic.

I chose my words carefully.

“Listen, all I’m saying is that if you use that cutting board for garlic, then you can’t also use it to make the pastries. They’ll all taste like garlic.”

He nodded but the saliva-breath-snot show went on.

“Also,” I continued, “did you watch anything last night? Any movies?”

“Yes.” He seethed.

“Was it a film based in Scotland, by any chance?”

“Yes, why?”

“No reason. Look, why don’t you take the rest of the night off, I’ll cover your shift. Go home, rest, watch something funny.”

“Yes chef!” He grabbed the knife and stabbed it into the cutting board. I flinched and peed a little but nobody noticed. He pushed through the double doors and was gone.

The rest of the kitchen staff came back to life and the hum of the kitchen resumed.

Every chef from line cook to sous chef wants to be set apart, nobody likes their creativity stifled but when you work for a restaurant, you work for the head chef.

He’ll just need to learn to control his nerves and work as a team member.

The next day he walked in calm and collected, but still a little cocky.

The dinner service began and we all worked like a machine; orders were brought in and called out, cooking times were shouted, and the kitchen was a choreographed ballet of fire, food and moving feet.

Then someone ordered dessert. I glanced over at Chef “William Wallace” and saw him shyly peeling garlic. I walked over and he began chopping quickly, too quickly.

“What the hell are you doing, chef? Do you think garlic belongs in every dessert?”

He chopped his pinky tip and it rolled next to the other pieces of garlic.

With a snarl he said, “I am the gatekeeper of my own destiny and I will have my glory day in the hot sun.”

Surface, Sandals, Nail polish

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ninajo47

He picked at his finger nails, chipping off the black and red polish. On the surface of thee white linoleum floor, flecks were starting to become noticeable.

Usually, these appointments were nothing to worry about but since his last visit he’d been exposed to music.

Every month he was to meet with his Selector, the person managing his life experience as a clone. His original had long since died, and now he was allowed to live a sorta life of his own.

At first he was confined to the compound. As he learned to socialize, comprehend and maneuver complicated social situations, he progressed to excursions. These were day trips with his selector beyond the compound.

He went out to eat, had a drink, watched a movie and went bowling. Then returned home and processed everything through the machine covered in buttons labeled with letters.

He was allowed to leave longer and more often until he reached maximum liberty, as it was called. He could live outside of the compound if he was able to sustain himself with some sort of job and checked in with his selector once a month.

It had been two years, and although he had lived outside of the compound, he stayed within the confines of the life experiences he’d been taught at the cloning facility.

Once, he had caught a glimpse of the manual the selectors used to manage clones.

“Managing the Living Experiences of Like-Humans: A Manual and Practical Application of Puritanical Mores”

None of that meant anything to him but he liked the words.

Now, waiting for his next meeting he was beginning to feel just a hint of an inclination of what the Manual’s title was supposed to mean.

He had been invited to a concert, “the Trashy Cans” was the name of the band, an all female group. The experience changed his life. For two hours it was as if the “application of puritanical mores” were stripped from his being like slow-motion footage of a bomb blast: First burning off the clothes, then melting the skin, peeling back the muscles and tendons and finally disintegrating the bones.

That was rock ‘n’ roll.

Now he was in that all white building of his origins, feeling bad but uncertain as to why. Though he had a hunch that the nail polish, flip flops and beard wouldn’t go over well.

Cents, Sense, Sent

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @thebriemarie

The computer is a cold brick compared to a piece of paper. Writing on a keyboard is too mechanical, it doesn’t make sense. There is no continuous flow of thought from brain to finger tips. When writing angry, pressing harder on the keyboard doesn’t show on the screen. On paper, I could read the emotions of any language by the jaggedness of lines, indents left by utensils and letters spilling over lines and bumping into other letters.

No emotion on the screen. I am pissed. I am calm. I am shaking with rage. I am peaceful. But you only know those things because I have to spell the words out.

I can barely spell out the words now. My mind caught between thinking about what to write and remembering my finger placements. Though I’ve been typing for 25-26 years, when it comes to writing something creative it must begin for me with pen or pencil on paper.

I’m too close to distraction on a computer. My mind doesn’t wander into itself, it gets lost in the black hole of whatever question I might have at any given moment (is that really how utensils is spelled? Is there a better word for writing utensils? Who was that guest appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm? When will my cousin be online playing video games?)

There is only paper and pen when I’m writing with paper and pen. And though often I feel as if my hand needs to catch up with my mind, it’s that furious scrawling that makes the whole thing feel natural. I’m not conscious of the tools of writing only that I am in the act of writing.

Everyday I turn on the computer and get asked about apple this or apple that. updates and notifications that force me to spend time clicking them away just so I can write. I wish sometimes there were a machine that simply allowed one to right and allowed nothing else.

Of course, that doesn’t make sense, or cents. They need to sell a machine that can do everything. They, the ones making the machines. A machine to carry in your backpack, a machine to set up at home or your office. A machine that you can put in your pocket. A machine that you can fold. But really they are all the same fucking machine. With the same abilities, assets, bloody notifications and endless stream of password change requests.

I resent it, though I use it all the time, so who is in charge? Me or the computer? I feel less subservient to paper and pen. It’s my ideas that are master when I’m using ink or lead.

Perhaps I’m old fashioned. Maybe I’m hanging on to something stupid. More bloody nostalgia, that indescribable quality on which everyone seems to be cashing in on these days. Remakes of remakes within my 33 year lifespan.

Make something fucking original. Have some guts. Keep writing on paper.

Enough of this bullshit.


Chair, Desert, Heavy

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ninajo47

A one-legged man walked his three-legged dog who was carrying a four-legged chair on its back. The man leaned on a crutch on one side and pulled at his dog, lagging behind on the other. Nothing but cracked earth, rocks and tan bushes in all directions.

Behind the pair was a trail of their uneven foot prints. In front of them was nothing.

From his pocket the man pulled out a little round treat. The dog quickly caught up with the owner. Patting the good boy on its head, the owner gave the sitting dog a treat. while the dog was sat, the man untied the chair from its back and placed it next to his pal, facing the sun.

Setting down his crutch, the man took a seat with a sigh. It felt good to sit down. Warm from the oppressive sun, the man soon fell asleep, his beast panting beside him.

Suddenly, a wave of water washed over the dry valley, hitting the mans skin with a sizzle. The earth, however, soaked up the water and the sun quickly dried everything.

The man was dreaming and pouring with sweat.

A familiar scene from the movie screen overlapped with his reality. He was a stripper, on a chair arching his back under a great bucket of water.

He was suddenly kissing his dog full on the mouth in a sort of wet fencing match. His weapon a dagger compared to the long sword stabbing around his face. He wanted to wake up, desperately, the heat was drying the slobber so quickly that it felt like a new layer of skin whenever he moved his face.

He felt around fro something, anything. His hand touched his stump and he knew he was awake.

Hobbling to his feet, he used the chair to help him bend and reach his crutch. Then he tied the chair on the dogs back, making sure it wasn’t too much weight.

Then the pair continued their walk, defiant of the oppressive lack of everything all around them.

Silhouetto, Galileo, Beelzebub

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
These three words taken from the song provided by @yvonnefankhanel

With a heavy metallic buzz in the air, Galileo invented the telescope. The sound of one-thousand electric guitars screamed a single distorted note over and over and over again.

Galileo stroked his beard and stared down at his new piece of glass. he turned it over in his hands in wonder of his own work. On one end a large piece of bulging glass, on the other a small hole with which to put one’s eye.

The weight of his creation lay heavy in the air with the fuzz of the metal twangs. To see far and see clearly is the first step to true understanding, true enlightenment.

Galileo hid the object in his robes and walked out into the dusk, just as the sun set behind the hills of his house. He was tempted to make the inaugural viewing through his telescope aimed at the setting sun but a flash of white light distracted him.

The dome of the sun disappeared and the hot white light glowed red, staying at the top of the hill. Galileo felt the weight of his new device pulling down one side of his robes. He grabbed the telescope and looked at the ting on the hill, seemingly left by the sun.

What he saw echoed deep in a place within his heart and mind. An echo started by the things he was told to fear as a child. This was baal, the devil, satan, on the of the seven princes of hell, beelzebub, who was getting larger by the moment. A majestic, beautiful creature with wings.

Galileo could now feel the distortion from the electric chords furiously being strung by a band of invisible metal disturbers.

The lord of flies gently took the piece of metal and glass from Galileo and smiled. With a sharpened pinky, he seared two holes, one larger near the bulging glass but still on the side of the piece and another where Galileo placed his eye.

Then the morning star sprinkled what looked like moss into the larger hole. He blew a kiss and the moss caught fire.

Beelzebub put the glass to his mouth and sucked. He blew out a large cloud of smoke, sweat and heavy smoke. Galileo for an instant felt a warm hug between the smoke and the electric buzzing.

The devil extended the pipe to Galileo and sang.

“I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouch, Scaramouch will you do the Fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning very very frightening me”

The devil took off and as he flew away into the night, he continued singing.

“Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, Gallileo, figaro, magnifico

Circle, Sketch, Footprint

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ninajo47

In a cave, high atop a mountain there lived a woman. This woman would pick flowers, growing on the slopes above and below her cave. She would hunt for small game, rabbits, badgers, squirrels. Using giant leaves, she would form them into funnels and collect water from the rain and dew. The water would then be stored in the containers she’d fashioned from her hunted game.

All this she did not to eat, though she did consume the meat of the animals and the fruit of each plant, but to paint. Something she could not explain directed her movements and thoughts, always in the direction of creation. Not controlled but inspired.

Her first creation was a small red circle she had lazily sketched onto the cave wall by her head. She was waiting for her rabbit to cook over the fire and was hanging the skin to dry. Her hands red with blood.

She took her finger, pressed it to the wall and smeared the red around bringing it back to the point she had first placed her finger. This pushed her experience of life onto another plane.

The woman stared at the circle for days, comparing it to objects around her. Her navel was that shape, the eyes of the animals were that shape.

The woman considered the pleasant feeling of discovery she had felt when completing the circle. After her next hunt she drew more circles, covering one wall with the blood of rabbits and doves. She noticed that one of her circles was more jagged, and so she formed a triangle. She considered it then walked out of her cave and looked at the trees in the valley, coming to a point and similar in shape to her triangle.

To separate the triangle from the circle, she drew four straight connecting lines around it.

She stepped back and realized that was a shape more unfamiliar than the others. She had discovered it, created it out of a need to place a distinguishing boundary around something significant.

Her whole mind exploded with ideas. All around her were shapes, the essence of these crude shapes on her wall. Circles stretched into ovals, pulled into spheres, widened and elongated into the trunks of trees.

She stepped outside in wonder, excited to explore her new-found freedom of thought but her foot fell into a foot print much bigger than her own.

The sun became blocked and before her stood a new shape, larger, similar to her own and casting her into its shadow.

Machete, Meatballs, Wednesday

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ladychap84

They’re made out of cockroaches. The meatballs, I’m talking about the meatballs. We set up a trap in the middle of the kitchen on Thursday morning. The trap stays there for a week and we harvest on Wednesday’s.

Honey and old cheese is what we use to lure the roaches. A bucket is how we trap them.

When Wednesday rolls around we’ve already gone to the store for garlic, spices and tomatoes. We pull off the loose sheet from over the bucket trap and there are usually a few roaches who scurry away.

The bucket is always full.

Since all of the earths resources went into creating almond products, and the demand never stopped, we lost everything. Except for roaches. Billions of people died of malnutrition, eating mostly corn and almond by-products. Except for the bloody roaches.

We eke out a living making roach meatballs, with whatever other ingredients we can find. Today we found the perfect ingredients. We see this as our comeback.

Using the only tools we have available to us, our hands, we begin mushing up the roaches. Well, we do have a machete but it’s not useful for this task.

First it’s a pounding to kill them. Our fists, forearms and elbows crawling with roaches. one of us stands next to the pounder wiping escaping roaches back into the bucket.

Once the roaches are mostly unable to move, we add the garlic, then the tomatoes and spices, grabbing fistfuls of roaches and mix to squeeze it through our fingers. This is all mixed in with the honey and old cheese.

What about the roach shit? What about it? Do you want the closest thing to a meatball we can create or do you want to wander the once fertile American wasteland searching for something, anything.

If you choose the meatballs, then you’re a survivor. They’re actually more the texture of crab cakes but people want to believe they’re meatballs. So we cook on, as pioneers of this brave new culinary world.

“Life’s tough”, Hogwash, Blasphemy

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @dhivyannn

“Suck it up!”

So i put my mouth to the straw and tried pulling that milkshake up towards my mouth. It wouldn’t budge. I kept at it until my lips were sore and the top of the straw had collapsed so much so that each suck only closed the pipe.

Innuendo or no, I couldn’t get the milkshake up the straw.

So as any reasonable man would do, I grabbed the cup in my hand and threw it out of the diner window. The power I felt in that moment of taking control of vanishing the things that were giving me trouble in my life (A.K.A. the strawberry milkshake) were instantly dashed when a trucker appeared at the window, head wet and dripping with pink slush.

“Did you do that?” He asked me calmly, just then my girlfriend returned from the restroom and sat down, I nodded my head in her direction.

“Oh my god! what happened?” She was surprised but not as surprised as she would be seconds later, when the trucker began climbing into the diner through the window still lined with jagged glass, his fingers, hands, wrists and forearms beginning to ooze red (which blended well with the pink of the shake now running down his shoulders, chest and arms).

“You did this bitch?” The trucker said to my girlfriend.

“Wait a minute!” I said. “Don’t speak to her that way!”

See chivalry isn’t dead.

“I didn’t do anything, I’m sorry, who did this? What happened?” said my girlfriend.

The trucker was now on the table, he seemed tired, out of breath. He was losing quite a bit of blood.

In a much meeker voice than earlier he said, “I’m gonna get you.” He was looking at me.

“Why would she say she was sorry if she had nothing to hide? That doesn’t sound like an innocent person to me.”

The trucker looked back at my girlfriend, he put his bloody forearm in my mashed potatoes and dragged himself further onto the table.

My girlfriend was glaring at me.

The waitress came by and asked if we needed anything else. No! I thought, just the check please, also we didn’t order the angry, bloody trucker.

“We’ll take the check.” I said.

My girlfriend acknowledged the situation to the waitress. “Can we help you clean up this mess?” The waitress looked at her as if she’d just landed from Jupiter.

“Oh hogwash! That’s my job.” The waitress said, pulling my plate from under the arm of the trucker, now breathing in long intervals.

“Are you sure? That doesn’t seem fair.”

“Hey, life’s tough and if it were fair we’d all be able to drink our milkshakes without breaking our lips or straws, windows wouldn’t break and truckers wouldn’t bleed to death all over our tables. Honey, this happens every week.”

Well god damn!

Cognitive, Okra, Catawampus

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @furmannewby

I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. Something bulged out of my right side stretching my skin and ripping my shirt. I looked down at my legs and they were beginning to swell up, filling with some sort of liquid. Reaching out to touch my toes, I noticed my fingers engorging. I could feel my cheeks swelling, my eyes feeling pressure behind them.

I was crying and from instinct I went to wipe and felt a gooey yellow substance instead of tears, like tar. I realized that must have been what was filling up my body.

With my left hand I grabbed the remote. The liquid in my left hand hadn’t quite separated my skin from my nervous system so I had time to switch on the news.

My timing was impeccable.

“This just in, we are receiving reports of a new type of food allergy, which doctors don’t yet have a name for. The symptoms are sudden or spontaneous leakage of a bright yellow, sometimes orange substance, it’s thick and seems to be filling peoples bodies. As of now we’ve been hearing the term ‘Mustard Catawampus’ describing the color of the liquid and the distortion it causes to bodies while they fill.”

For fuck sake what is happening? I can’t see the TV anymore, my chest is beginning to roll up into my chin. I pushed down on my skin bubble blocking my view but a horrific wave of pain traveled down to my feet and shot back up to my head, making my eyes bulge momentarily before settling to a slow jostle back at my chest.

I don’t understand. I can still hear the TV, but I’m beginning to panic because my shoulders are pressing my neck, pushing there way against my ears. My chest is still rising, now pushing into my bottom lip and curling it downwards.

I’m afraid I’ll either suffocate in my own skin jelly, something I never could have imagined as a possibility. Or I’ll pop and die like some sort of 3-dimensional zit, red and pusing all over the couch.

Before I was enveloped by my inflating body, I heard the TV.

“Doctors are now saying the allergy is an extremely rare, yet deadly reaction to not getting enough Okra in one’s diet. Well that’s all from us, we’ll be back…”

The TV became muffled and the only thought my panicking, under-oxygenated brain cells could squeeze out was, “What the fuck is okra?”

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Saint, Overalls, Jolly

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ninajo47

You need to brush your teeth. You need to comb your hair. Need to floss. Put on deodorant. Clip your fingernails. Swab your earwax. Trim your nose hairs. Maintain two eyebrows. Cut off those straggling hairs on your forehead.

Time is coming.

Trim your ear hairs. Lotion your face. Lotion your feet. Get dressed up in clothes that fit. No more overalls. No more pull up your pants and *SNAP*, *SNAP*, you’re dressed.

Time is coming.

You want respect don’t you. You want a long line of individuals trailing out the door at your funeral. You can’t die in overalls, you’re from the suburbs. Ridiculous.

Smile at the elderly, nod at your peers and make faces at children. Keep it up, they’ll remember you as a saint.

The saint of simple greetings. The saint of self care and simple greetings. The saint of self care, simple greetings and a hot body.

Well, time is coming.

You need to do push ups. You need to do pull ups. Need to squat. Ride a bike. Jog. Lift weights. Do crunches.

The saint of hot bodies.

Discipline. Rigor. Scheduling. Exercise doesn’t pay for food so get to work. Work tires you out so get some rest. Rest isn’t exercise so get to working out. No time for pleasantries, no time for big smiles, no time for nods, no time for making faces at babies.

Time is coming.

The saint of discipline. the saint of rigor. The saint of assholes. You’re staring down at your navel when you do crunches. There isn’t even the hint of a ripple where abs should be, supposed to be.

The saint of disappointment. The saint of eating like you haven’t eaten in years. The saint of comfort. The saint of Webflix.

You watch the rest of the show and get some rest. you’re not an ideal, you are.

And time is coming.

Eat. Drink. Be hairy. Increase your hygiene routine. Increase the discovery of hairs in new places. Trim, shave, cut, slice. The saint of hygiene.

Enjoy a good, hearty breakfast. Try a new restaurant everyday for lunch. Load up for dinner while you watch TV.

The saint of contentment. The saint of guilty pleasure. The saint of settling.

Time is coming.

You watch your weight. You watch your weight increase. More jelly equals more jolly. You keep up your routine, the hygiene routine.

You can’t have it all, time is coming.

Sweatshirt, Band, Ponytail

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

He was interesting to say the least. I won’t, however, say the least because saying the least is not as interesting as he was.

The first thing I remember about him was his hair; slicked back, tight against his head and all gathered up in the back and tied together like a bundle of wheat. He was balding, but his pattern consisted of two valley’s being forged on either side of his widows peak. The back was fine, which allowed him his loose, long brush of hair.

When I first saw him, he was playing drums for the band that was opening for the band everyone had come to see. His band had some non-conformist dada-esque name like “band” or “music group”, I can’t remember.

He was whipping that mop of hair around in a tank top which showed his all red tattoos. I’m not entirely sure, but guessing by his skin tone he was of nordic, European descent.

The other thing I noticed was the amount of sweat that dripped from him. It poured from his body like he had just been doused with a bucket full of water, striptease style. Every pound of the snare, Tom-Tom’s and cymbals looked like the grand finale of those killer whale shows. If not for the rest of the band in front of him, everyone in the mosh pit would have splash-zone seats.

That was the first time I saw him and it sparked an idea, that I wouldn’t realize until 10 years later.

Fast forward.

I see on the news one of my favorite bands, “the Holysteens”, had a falling out with their drummer just before going on tour. I’m a little concerned only because I have tickets to a concert for one of their Los Angeles dates.

The replacement drummer is none other than sweaty McGee with the pony tail. His name was Tommy “Salt” Waters, go figure.

That’s when all my thoughts from that evening of watching him play come back to me. Sweat flying all over the drums, sweat pouring down his forearms and loosening his grip on the sticks, sweat forcing Tommy to blink and dab at his face every 2-3 seconds. The shear distraction of this human waterfall splashing in the middle of a concert.

I remember thinking, if he wore a thick, long sleeve shirt with a hood, the shirt would soak up the sweat and Tommy Waters could play without stopping.

I called it the Sweatshirt.

At the concert, I had a backstage pass and gave the sweatshirt to him, telling him the story. I had even sewed on the name of the band, The Holysteens, with their favorite art, a middle finger with a halo around it.

Long story short, I left the concert early. Tommy “Salt” Waters overheated, passed out and later died of exhaustion.

I came up with the sweatshirt but I could never reveal this while I lived. So if you’re reading this, it means I’m dead, somewhere with Tommy, or not, but that bastard took my job, so fuck him.

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Puzzle, Painting, Sinister

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ninajo47

1,000 pieces of a painting scattered around on the floor. With my stunted attention span, there may as well be 50,000 pieces of this puzzle.

I’m not amused but my girlfriend and her family love puzzles, so for tonight, I love puzzles.

Fast forward to hour 3 and we’ve got a border, a frame with nothing in the middle but 5 pieces stuck together making up the only red splotch of paint that we can see on the box.

Did I mention that this mystery-in-a-million pieces laid out before us is already on the fucking box?

I’m going crazy!

Time is standing still. A nightmare is emerging before my eyes. Each piece taking on exactly the same size and shape. Nothing fits.

Her dad keeps humming and sighing every ten seconds, like some sort of machine that runs on hums and sighs.

Her mom, at every attempt to connect a piece, says, “What about this one? Nope. We’ll try another I guess.” Every. fucking. time. She says that.

My girlfriends brother, barely able to wipe his ass because of the barrier of muscles like thick ropes all around his body. This walking bell pepper pinches each piece in between his frankfurter-sapien thumb and forefingers. Then he stares at each piece attempting to understand. Koko the sign language monkey was more intelligent.

Then my girlfriend. My sweet girl, bless her heart. Clapping her hands, scrunching her shoulders and giggling every few minutes, saying, “It’s coming together!”

Never had I wanted to pull off my skin, pop out my eyeballs, pry off my toenails–

–Wait a minute, that’s it. The ultimate puzzle. Some one needs to teach these people that it’s not okay to create forgeries made from the pieces of someone else’s masterpiece. The underwhelming feeling of having completed a puzzle, to look at the image you’ve spent days to possibly years creating and compare it to the box.

“Yep, look at that.”

Well, I shall have my revenge tonight.

“Excuse me, I need to use the restroom.” I stand up and walk to the hallway. My pocket knife, usually used for opening boxes or prying or scraping, now has a new purpose.

I shall make of myself an impossible puzzle.

I start slowly with my arm, cutting just a small square, then prying off the skin and dropping it, with a wet slap, onto the tile.

This will take me a while but I’ll never need to worry about them doing a puzzle again. It will be unspeakable.

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Histrionic, Verisimilitude, Narcissist

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

words/phrase provided by @dhivyannn

In a swirl of paint brushes and acrylics, the painting was complete. The painter’s final masterpiece completed as it was hung in the London gallery where it was to be contractually shown.

For this painting, the artist had decided to show up. For the other 150-200 paintings, the painter had simply walked around his Hoboken, NJ studio to each of his apprentices and gave an approving nod or a shake of his head.

He couldn’t remember how many pieces had originally been agreed upon and so trusted the number a Junior gallery curator had said earlier that day. Only one piece was missing. In a grandiose show of feverish creativity, the artist asked for a blank canvas and paints, loudly enough for the PR rep. and art critic nearby to hear.

The artist removed his coat, which cost about as much as a mid-range grand piano and placed it on the canvas. Glancing over at the critic and public relations rep, he took off his shoes and began squirting black paint from the toothpaste like tube on their soles.

He then put his shoes back on and stomped on the creme colored leather jacket, loud enough for the two influencers to begin taking notice. They turned towards the painter and began to approach, cautiously so as not to disturb the genius at work.

Noticing their footsteps, the painter pulled off his shoes and flung them at the wall where the painting was to be hung. He grabbed the jacket and put it on, then ran towards the blank wall, putting a hole in his canvas on the way. He jumped at the wall, leaving black paint from the jacket.

The artist ran back to the now torn canvas and began squeezing tubes of paint by the handfuls. Reds, oranges, yellows, blues, greens, white, grays, black, fell in chunks onto the canvas.

The painter heard the two non-painters talking.

“It’s as if he’s deconstructing the life of an artist before our eyes, forcing us to question the value of technique, our obsessions with messages and platforms.”

“Yes by removing his shoes and painting his jacket he’s forcing us to understand the master/slave relationship between art and artist, paint and painter.”




The painter heard and continued working, allowing himself a little smirk. He would receive his $100,000 bonus from the gallery for meeting the agreed upon number of pieces and he would do it to critical acclaim.

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Coffin, Wave, Flight

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

On a cold and windy night in a cemetery of Edinburgh, Scotland a coffin opened from the inside.

I saw thin fingers curl around the lid and slide the top aside. In the distance I could see the two gravediggers taking a break behind a tree. The cherries of their cigarettes marking the end of their occasional laughter.

The gravediggers job tonight was to move around old bodies to make way for the new. I saw all of this because I had started to sleep in the cemetery near the church. People fear the homeless at a cemetery but a homeless man at a cemetery is unthinkable. I felt safe, except for tonight.

While the gravediggers smoked, I watched the partially decomposed body of an Edinburgh resident from the 1800’s escape. I can’t explain the why or how, all I can tell you is what I saw; the who, what, when and where.

As if aware that his liberators would soon return and become his captors, the skeleton tip-toed through the grass toward a wall that led to the train tracks below. On his way he grabbed one of the fluorescent vests with reflectors sown in. he flung an arm through the vest and swung it around to pop the other arm through.

He reached the wall and hopped over without hesitation. I was dragged from my spot in the shadows and ran after, pausing to look at the tomb from which he, or she, escaped.

“Gavin Alexander, Esquire. Honorable Captain of the East India Trading Company.”

I reached the wall and peered over. Captain Alexander had used his remaining muscle (more like loose yarn and tattered rope) to pull himself up to stand at the back of a train car. The train began slowly to move.

I hopped over the wall, hearing my ankle crack and pop. I wiggled it while looking at the captains foot, as if attempting to understand what lay beneath my skin. Perhaps it was the adrenaline but my foot felt fine. I ran to a train car three from Captain Alexander and hung on as it picked up speed.

In the direction we were heading, we’d soon be at the mouth of the river Edin, leading out to the ocean.

The wind picked up and grew colder as we exited the hole of the city. The fine spray that fell soon became needles as we moved faster. I looked up at the moon, nearly full and illuminating the farms peeking through the density of trees near the tracks.

Captain Alexander leaned away from the train with his head turned up to the moon, taking in the evening like a man entombed over one hundred years.

The train began to slow as it neared the Queensferry stop, a port town.

I watched Captain Alexander climb down from the train car and rest his hands on his hips. I slowly clambered down and lay in the grass, still about three train car lengths away. The train started up again and Captain Alexander turned in my direction and walked slowly toward me.

I could see bits of his former self clinging to his structural anatomy like the scraps of a Spanish Jamon. His bottom jaw slightly opening and closing as if breathing, not from necessity but out of habit. His clothes were merely strips of cloth hanging from his sharper bits of bone.

As he got closer I began anticipating my escape but as soon as the last car passed him, Captain Alexander turned toward the tracks and crossed. I peered over the mound with metal ties and saw he was making his way down to the port.

When he reached an alley way that led to the Firth of Forth, Queensbury’s bridge across the river Edin, I followed.

When I reached the alley, Captain Alexander had reached the Firth of Forth and began to climb. his yellow vest reflecting brightly from the light of the moon and contrasting against the deep red painted structure of the bridge.

With his back to me, I made my way to a dock just East of where he climbed. I could occasionally hear the clank of his bones against the metal as he neared the top. Pulling himself over the top-most arch of the bridge he lay on top and wrapped his arms and legs around the frame as a train passed on the bridge below.

When the train was gone, he stood up on the top bar and waved, at me.

He kept waving until my fear of this strange creature was out done by my awkwardness of the situation. I stood up and waved.

Then Captain Alexander placed his hands perfectly by his sides, bent his knees and lifted his hands back up, making prayer hands above his head. Then he jumped straight out from the bridge. The vest pulled in air and for a minute I thought he took flight, then the vest flew off and the skeleton jackknifed under the waves.

I watched as the vest floated on to the surface of the water. I did not see Captain Alexander resurface. he simply waved and disappeared beneath the waves, which I assumed, if I’m to make sense of the evening, was where he wished his final resting place to be.

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Black, Balance, Equal

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @taabithewonderer

It’s the first name of a horse with literary fame. The dye of clothing chosen by the dead actress bisected. A type of humor laced with death, loss, illness and spite. It’s the color opposite of color white. The vacuum of light. It’s also be a descriptor for people but not a definition.

And this.

It’s a teetering scale. A tight rope walker. A brand of shoe that’s not so New anymore. It’s standing on one foot without falling. It’s what we all want when we talk about our lives. It’s all part of a recommended breakfast. It’s a sort of act but we keep believing it’s more than that. It’s something we want but something for which we can only continue struggling.

And this.

It’s true and it’s not true. It’s the sign with two parallel lines announcing the sum of our additions, multiplications, divisions and subtractions. It’s a sign of the times. It’s what we’re born to assume but quickly learn isn’t quite true on all planes of existence. But it is but somehow it’s not.

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Curmudgeon, Copacetic, Plethora

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @yvonnefankhanel

All the corn in a can you could ever want, sitting in neat rows on the shelves of Mr. Cron’s Corn Corner.

Aisle 1: Cans of corn
Aisle 2: Rows upon rows of canned corn
Aisle 3: More canned corn, neatly stacked and all facing the same way
Aisle 4: Corn Syrup

but then you get to aisle 5 and

Aisle 5: Canned Corn
Aisle 6: Canned Corn
Aisle 7: Canned Corn
Aisle 8: Canned Corn
Aisle 9: Canned Corn
Aisle 10: Canned Corn

At the check-out counter, no magazines, gum, candy bars or 5-hour energy. Just slots for more corn.

Special display cases, with giant plastic blow-up cans of corn like pillars on either side of a pyramid of canned corn.

It’s enough to make one feel crazy. Crazy in love with the options.

What’s for dinner? Corn.
What’s for lunch? Corn.
Whats for breakfast? Corn.
What will we snack on? Corn.
Oh, let’s go on a picnic and bring corn.

I’m thirsty. Corn Syrup! Aisle 4! Right in between the canned corn.

Check it out! Corn in a can at Mr. Cron’s Corn Corner. Of corn that is canned, we have a plethora.

Recently graduated college? Congrats pal! Here’s corn!
Recently home from the war? We salute you. Have some corn!
Finished a hard day of protesting? It’s copacetic man, grab a corn!
Looking for date options? Netflix and corn.
Want beefy beef? Canned corn.
Making a can pyramid in your house from hoarders episode 476? Canned corn!
Having trouble getting fat? Drink corn syrup.

The point is we’ve got corn in a can and we’ve got some sort of viscous liquid loosely based on–you guessed it–corn!

Don’t be a curmudgeon! Be a corn-mudgeon and eat cans of corn from Mr. Cron’s Corn Corner.

The corn comes in a can, it was put there by a man, not in a factory, but in his apartment. So you know it’s homemade.

At this rate, CORN! I, excuse me, I was saying that at this CORN. Oh my, I don’t understand what is CORN! It’s CORNing out of my CORN! I no longer CORN! CORNtrol. Corn is CORN! CORN! taking over CORN!


Just joking. I’m fine. The point is we’ve got a lot of canned corn and corn syrup, but mostly canned corn. Aisles 1-3 and 5-10 with corn.

We don’t have refrigeration it’s just canned corn and corn syrup.

Praise corn!

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Pineapple, Phones, Ferns

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

The piña colada had already melted. What sat in front of me now was a yellowish soup with foam quickly coagulating into slime.

In the shade it must have been 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I was the only one on the beach. The only person even outside, even in the shade.

Sweat kept trickling into my eye and leaving salt to sting. I blinked the drops away but once a trail of sweat is formed it keeps its integrity, sending my own coolant in thicker streams.

I wiped my head with one of the rags left on the counter. It smelled like beer and stuck to my forehead but served its purpose.

The bartender had stepped away to get more ice. She hadn’t anticipated many people that day. A few of us had trickled in from the afternoon train. I was the only one left now. I had no one waiting and no ride to pick me up.

I grabbed the stem of my glass and stared down at my pineapple gazpacho. The phone at the bar rang. Its sound almost sent ripples of heat waves from its spot by the glasses all the way to where I sat.

The bartender had not returned.

I imagined an ice shortage. Local news covering the story first, then national interest in the story gaining as New Yorkers couldn’t drink their libations on the rocks.

The phone kept ringing and I kept ignoring it, entranced by my day dream.

Pretty soon Londoners, Parisians, Moscowans, Bogotans, etc. all the peoples of major cities didn’t have ice. How could this be if there was water?

The answer, according to scientists was that something odd was happening at the molecular level of all H2O. It was heating all by itself, no matter how cold the external temperatures.

The phone blared, it hadn’t taken a break and was no sounding quite aggressive in its insistence.

Perhaps there was an ice emergency. The idea was ridiculous but the heat coupled with my boredom entertained the thought.

The water seemed to be fermenting. Somehow, a type of alcohol, it couldn’t be frozen in most freezers and refrigerators with freezers. Water started taking on the sharp smell of alcohol.

The phone kept ringing. My mind kept racing.

It wasn’t just the water from the tap or in bottles that was changing, it was all water. Water in soft drinks, water in juice, water in fruits and vegetables themselves, water that collected from dew in the mornings, the waves of the ocean crashing with a 100 proof spray, the water in beer and liquor, raising the level of alcohol in all drinks.

A fascinating scientific quandary but with no ability to comprehend. If all water were turning to alcohol, there would be nothing to drink. That would also mean that all water in our blood streams would turn us drunk, blackout drunk, wake up in the drunk tank drunk. If our blood turned to alcohol, there would be no waking up.

The phone was now an air raid siren in the background of my daydream. Every man, woman, child, animal and plant would dry up, dehydrate and die.

With a fit of the giggles, some loud snoring, a few fights, we’d all slip from deep sleep into nothingness.

My mind distracted, I took an absent-minded sip of the warm piña colada. The sensation brought me out of my daze and back to the bar, where I realized I was surrounded by alcohol.

The phone still rang and now all of my attention focused on it. There had been no sign of the bartender. I also realized I was quite thirsty, I needed some water.

I remembered a short clip from a movie I’d seen where a drop of fresh dew ran down the spine of a fern branch, wavered at the tip and plopped onto the parched tongue of a cartoon dinosaur.

I don’t remember the movie, but my brain was trying to tell me from its deepest darkest recesses that I needed water. Whoever was on the other side of the phone needed something as well.

Me first, buddy!

I tried the faucet, nothing. I walked around behind the bar, opening the ice chest, hoping the bartender was only being proactive. Nope. I tried the gas water and tonic hoses, nothing.

I grabbed a beer from the fridge and slammed the cap next to my piña colada to remember it on my tab. I sucked that beer down and let out a wet belch. I grabbed another two beers from the fridge and put their caps on the counter.

I approached the phone after draining the second beer, still quite thirsty.

“Hello?” The voice on the other side was non-existent. I hung up, starting on the third beer.

The phone rang again and I picked up. Before I could say anything, a smacking noise preluded a question, “Do you have any ice?”

“No, the bartender went to go find come.”

“Oh, do you know where he went?”

“No, I don’t know where she went. I’m just a customer at this bar. Are you guys out of ice?”

“It’s been so hot.”


He sounded like a smoker, his throat vibrating at a low frequency. He cleared his through before continuing.

“Thanks, I gotta go.”

He hung up and I finished my third beer, thinking about leaving. I should find a room and just let myself pass out.

“Sir, sir, wake up sir, you are in the hospital. You passed out from heat stroke and are severely dehydrated. You were found by the bartender behind the bar. You’re stable but you’ll need to spend the night. Sir, sir, do you remember your name sir?

Crepuscular, Indubitably, Gubernatorial

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @salgadoarnie

Like pancakes without any fluff.

That’s what was presented to me in a little cafe by that river that runs through Paris, France. (I don’t remember the name, Seinne?)

“What do you call this thing?” I lifted it with my fork.

“Le crepé, messuer.”

“Loo crape,” I said.

“Oui,” said the server.

“We,” I repeated.

“Can I get some peanut butter, applesauce and syrup for this Crape?”

“Ehm, messuer, teepee-cali, we eeet ouwer crepés avec, ehm, Jelly’s ou Jam’s. confiture.”

“Well I love to eat my pancakes with PB, Syrup and applesauce.”

“Hindu-bee-tab-lee, messuer.”


“I don’t doubt it messuer, I will go and see what wee ave.”

“Mercy,” I said.

After finishing my crape and thimbleful of coffee, I walked back to my rented bike, locked by the river. The tire was looking flat. To apply my new worldly knowledge it was looking crepuscular, its flatness was impressing me about as much as that crape and it was about as fluffy as well.

Well shit. Now I’ve got to push this bike back to the rental place with my backpack and shopping bag with Looeee Veetawn key chains for the family. For myself I bought a pair of Looee Veetawn penny loafers. Classy, real gubernatorial-like, you know?

So that was my trip to France, now I’m back and thinking about where to go next.

“That’s great sur, but I just need you to fill out this form with your personal information so the doctor can check out your rash.”

You know I got this rash in France!

Skroatch, Choodybeak, Toot

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @salgadoarnie

“What did you just say to me?”

I was staring at a guy who was supposedly selling me a hotdog from a cart on the street. When he pulled open the cooler to pull out a dog, I nearly vomited. The smell was horrific. There was no possible way something edible resided in that cooler.

So I asked him where he got his hot dogs and all he said was — “Skroatch Choodybeak.”

“What did you just say to me?” I started walking away and about ten yards off I looked back and heard the vendor speak in his original voice. A voice that sounded different from the one he’d used to say those strange words.

He said, “Hi sir, hotdogs very nice, special for you. Com chomp! Nice price.”

Exactly the same as what had caught my attention but without the gurgles, grumbles and snorts of the “Skroatch Choodybeak.”

I sat and stared a little longer. I noticed the vendor sat on a little stool that seemed wobbly, the legs were not straight and somehow curved out from the bottom of the cart. It must have been a way of storing the stool at the end of the day.

No one else had ventured to buy a hotdog, which didn’t surprise me because it was 7:30 AM. Though that never stops me.

I went back to the cart and this time used his words in the form of a question. The vendors eyes widened and he smiled warmly, probably because no one wanted to buy a hot dog from his stench locker.

“Skroatch Choodybeak?” I said.

He nodded eagerly and added, “Choodybeak, toot.”

“Toot,” he said again. Then he farted. I guess to emphasize the toot. Then he reiterated, “Skroatch Choodybeak, toot,” and farted again.

So I nodded and smiled. His meat was maybe rotten but I didn’t have to be rude to a guy selling hotdogs on the corner.

He beckoned me closer to the opening of the cooler, the stench seemed to take on a shape. A beak opened from inside and pulled me in by the head.

A mother and son walked by a hotdog vendor at 7:45 AM.

“Mom can I have a hotdog?”

“You already ate breakfast.”

“What about for lunch?”

“Shit, I forgot your lunch, okay.”

They walk up to a hotdog cart. The vendors eyes are shut and his mouth chews.

“Excuse me sir, I’d like a hotdog with nothing on it, just bun and dog please. My son is a picky eater.”

The vendor opened his eyes, shaking his head no. He slid under the cart and the umbrella came down all on its own. A tentacle slithered into the cart and as it rolled away it made a fart noise.

The boy laughed and said, “That hotdog man tooted.”

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Instant, Moose, Pyramid

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ciao.katia

“Just come to a meeting, we can give you more details there.”

“Why can’t you just tell me what it is?”

“I could but Simon is much better at explaining this than I am. Also, I want to make sure you’re the right fit and that you feel comfortable with the rest of us.”

“This sounds like some sort of cult or pyramid scheme,” I said.

Ralphie chuckled before answering.

“Simon said people would respond like that. He said most people were afraid to really step out of their comfort zones.”

“Simon said that?”

“Yeah, he’s inspiring and just great. I can’t wait for you to meet him.”

I took a deep breath. I’ve known Ralphie for 20 years and I can’t believe how he isn’t able to hear himself talk. I mean ‘Simon says’? Am I in the Matrix?

“Can you at least tell me the name of the company and what it is you sell or do?”

Now Ralphie took a deep breath, as if secret business was a good idea. Well, drugs, guns, porn, buying and selling sub-prime mortgages, I suppose there aren’t billboards for those businesses and they’ll never file for bankruptcy. But I doubt sweet Ralphie was involved in anything like that.

Ralphie finally answered. “Okay, I’ll tell you the name of the business if you promise to come to one meeting. Deal?”


“Deal, what’s the name of the business?”

“Der Moose.”

“Der Moose?”

“Der Moose.”

“Is it German, like ‘the Moose’?”

“Come to a meeting and you’ll find out.”

Well now I was actually intrigued, not suckered in but intrigued by the suckers and how they could be suckered.

Fast forward to the meeting. It was as expected. The meeting was in a strip mall room, between a dollar store and a “wireless provider.”

The room had a podium at the front, a few folding chairs facing it and a table with powdered doughnuts from a box and coffee.

Behind the podium, against the wall were large wooden crates. The kind that reminded me of Archeologists or the Cartel. The ones you pry open with a crowbar and then immediately zoom into the face of the opener to see their reaction.

The meeting went exactly as expected. A guy with too much gel and an overly large suit clapped and jumped around talking about “instant cash”, “residual income”, “let your money work for you!”

Blah Blah
Blah Blah Blah
Pyramid Scheme

Finally, with much sweat and grunting, Simon shifted a crate toward us. The name on the side was “Dermmoose.”

Not German but now more intriguing.

He pried open the box to reveal a dead moose carcass and, as he explained, all the tools and materials necessary to taxidermy your own Moose at home.

And at that moment, I thought, this might be something they go for in Canada.

Canopy, Garbanzo, Headband

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

The headbands had to be worn at all times. This made it difficult to wash the hair, so the most practical hairstyle was dreadlocks. As the most practical, it quickly became the most popular.

Hair washing was something only the extremely wealthy could afford. Not only did we need to keep our head bands on but we also needed to keep them dry or our status would become impacted.

So hair washing was an elite activity, making the barbers and hair stylists the most valued of occupations.

I was a hairstylist consultant. Earning my way in experience and of course currency into the upper echelons of society. My job had become to provide expertise to haircare professionals and advice to potential clients.

It was risky business putting ones entire status, reputation and potentially wealth into the literal hands of hair washers, cutters and stylists.

Teams of hair professionals worked in threes to complete one clients cut; a washer, a cutter and a stylist.

A recent trend, I noticed, was the pleasure, pride and covert piousness the upper class attributed to the risk involved in changing ones hair.

The trend had begun when a wealthy eccentric of conservative noble birth, whose family had lived with dreads, decided to make a political statement about justice and the rich. he found a barber (once one of the best) who had now become old and completely blind.

During the lunch hour, in the center of his city square, when all were out for lunch, he had the man cut his hair.

Hindsight reveals the youth was depressed at the time but what was supposed to be a meaningful statement, soon became another status symbol.

Who among the rich could get the riskiest haircuts?

And so, as so often happens with the extremely comfortable and wealthy, a battle of who-could-care-less ensued.

A man got his haircut upside down. A woman had her hair dyed, adding more moisture thus more risk. And on and on.

So I devised a plan to provide haircuts under a canopy in a field during the rainy season. I cut holes in the edges of the canopy which would gradually send rivulets of water toward where the client was getting their hair done. This added the element of limited time, the team must complete the haircut before the water reached the center of the canopy and dripped onto their heads, risking wetting the headband.

The consequences? The simplistic torture of eating only garbanzos for the rest of ones life.

At first the punishment was understandably laughable, a ridiculous penalty for a ridiculous rule. Then many of us watched as smiles twisted into gaunt screams through sallow cheeks.

Garbanzos are nutritious, high in protein but they are by no means a complete meal. So the body slowly breaks down from the lack of nutrients, eventually becoming an anorexic husk with a distended belly. The belly remaining from the constant bloat of the garbanzo beans.

The psychological toll of eating the same, single food is also a quiet hell. Tasting a singular flavor in the present but experiencing cravings of diverse foods from the past. The mind quickly begins to think of ways around the rules, but the headbands control the punishment.

I’ve seen men and women displaying the same cycles of hell after the punishment. A person could eat anything they wanted but the headbands, plugging directly into their brains, continued to provide the garbanzo taste.

Ripping off the headband only made one into a drooling vegetable, trapping the senses into a motionless cell, where everything continued to taste like garbanzos.

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Utmost, Fucktard, Refined

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

words/phrase provided by @refinedcravings

The cummerbund was chafing, the bowtie was strangling me, the sleeves of my shirt and the cuffs of my pant felt about one movement away from becoming a baseball tee with capris. They were so goddamned tight!

The entire evening I would reach to shake someones hand, some “Mr. Doctor Sir General King and wife.” I’d shake their hand revealing my hairy arm covered in tattoos. Because my tailor kept prancing about clapping her hands and shouting “fabulous” I ended up in a paint job of a suit.

So after each handshake I’d need to pull down my sleeve. Yet, so tight was the jacket that my fixing arm would then need to be adjusted by the previously adjusted shaking arm.

I tried not to bend my legs as I walked. Although my calves are about as impressive as a 5th graders, so tight (again) were my pants that the cuffs would stick half way up to my knee. If I was slow to notice, the pant would work its way around my leg like a snake around fresh meat.

On top of everything else, I had accepted a plate of caviar and crackers. Looking around, I noticed no one eating but to my insecure eyes, they did all look confident, whatever they were doing.

So I took a cracker and attempted to lift the caviar onto it. I only managed to corral the fish eggs to the other side of my plate.

I tried a different tact. I shoveled the unborn fish toward my person with the idea that something different would happen. It did not.

Well, that’s not true.

I managed to scoop 4 or 5 crackers worth of caviar onto one cracker, something I was personally impressed with, but impressed I was not for long!

Like from the dead womb these eggs had come, they rolled, toppled and cascaded off of the cracker onto the front of my white shirt. Some of it hiding in the gills of my button up shirt, some of it tucking into my cummerbund and the rest falling to my shoes and the floor.

Wanting to be rid of the rest of my crackers, I shoved them in my mouth. So dry were they that I choked and coughed pieces of cracker out into the room.

So there I stood, choking on crackers, smacking caviar from out of the folds of my shirt, turning out my cummerbund to rid it of fish eggs, my pant cuffs nearly swallowing my knee caps, and my elbows exposed.

A gentleman walked up to me and said, “You sir may need some assistance.”

I coughed a couple of cracker pieces in his face before answering, “I sir probably look like the utmost of refined fucktards.”

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“Apropos of nothing”, Quixotic, Predicament

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @studiolovecraft

The sky is a rust red. The clouds, hovering between the blue of the ocean and the burn of the sun reflect a purplish hue.

And here I am on the beach, the last soldier. The last thing I remember is a deafening blast and flying through the air. Now this. Only the scene in front of me, dead bodies around and the sound of the waves lapping at the sand.

Wait, there is another sound, which my heart recognizes before my brain; it sinks into my stomach pushing up a reflux of recognition. That bile of the enemy language.

I hear voices making their harsh sounds like wooden sticks clacking.

I hear a gunshot.

Out of pure reaction I look toward the sound. Two soldiers, maybe 200-300 yards down the beach. I’m wearing the wrong uniform and in the wrong state: alive.

My heart now bounces all over the place as if attempting to escape the carnal prison it somehow knows is doomed.

I lay down, staring at the two men. My body plays a tug-o-war between my pumping adrenaline and panicked breath.

The enemies get closer, and as they do I notice they are pressing their muzzles into the temples of each body on the ground and squeezing a bullet into their heads. I know this because of the red spray that puffs into the air.

I look away, opposite the soldiers. What can I do? I see boots, a leg and an arm with something black on the forearm; a tattoo.


I don’t know the meaning.


Latching onto this mystery, my mind slows.


What does it mean? Who would tattoo that on such a visible place, to be seen by all, forever?

Or at least until now, though, as I lay between a bullet and the ocean, I suppose it’s bringing me meaning of some sort.

The ocean! Perhaps I can make a run and swim down the beach.

I leap up, jump over the arm, the boot and the leg. I feel a bite in the back of my knee, it twists me around.

I see the two soldiers aiming their rifles and I feel two more bites in my chest and my shoulder.

I stare in the sand and the last thing I think is what does citoxiuQ mean?

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España, Familia, Cultura

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

words provided by @gloglogp

(warning, this one is in Spanish and English. So bad writing in two languages, nadien wins.)

Deberias saber mas español!

Es saber mas? O conocer mas? No estoy seguro y eso es el problema.

Tengo un accento que es verdaderamente español de España. Un accento del reino español no lo puede ser.

Gramaticamente, hablo mas como un Aleman sordo intentando hablar el Chino. Quiero decir que…my Spanish grammar is no good.

Mi familia que vive en España quieren hablar conmigo pero tengo menos palabras que una madre con hijo unico en medio de una discoteca.

The truth is I have no idea if these idioms even translate, in Spanish or English. (Yo invento cada cosa…)

I think I wanted to use an example of someone who wouldn’t have a lot of words. I feel like a mother watching her son at a club could have quite a few words for her son.


Culturalmente, cuando estoy en los Estados Unidos, me siento mas Español que Fernando Alonso conduciendo un toro gue esta bailando una jota.

La manera de vivir en EEUU es muy controlado — cafe a las 8, almuerzo a las 8y5, y solo 5 minutes para cagar. Y asi empieza el dia. Nadien comiendo tranguilmente y nadien “tomando el aire” o “Saliendo por la calle.” No! Oh directamente al restaurante or ha la casa! No hay tiempo!

Cuando estoy en España me siento mas Americano que un gordo comiendo una hamburguesa de donuts y bisteak mientras esta chutando una pistola al aire.

Comiendo en España es sentar en la mesa para 3 o 43 horas, lo que sea.

Un cafe es un…bueno, deberia yo escribir este parte en ingles, como un buen Americano ignorante–

A cup of coffee is really just a shot, even if you order a large. While the food and drink are delicious, I can’t seem to get enough which is ironic because we’ve been sitting at the table for 24 hours.

Also, does anyone work in Spain? Do they want to work? Who is in charge? Where’s the initiative?

But then I come to the United States and I’m telling everyone to calm down.

Relajate tio. Que sera, sera. Conio!

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Sock, Fear, Funny

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words provided by @ladychap84

They’re gone! Again, they’re gone. How many socks can a man lose before it stops being funny.

I visit the laundromat once a week and every week another pair of socks disappear. At this point I feel the owners should post a sign:

“Laundry $5.00 plus a pair of socks, never the same pair, two socks, each from a different pair. Thank you, we appreciate your patronage.”

I’m not sure why they would be so polite, especially if they’re keeping everyone’s socks.

If I continue to lose a pair of socks each week, I will have gone through 52 pairs of socks. That’s like…a lot of money. I’d be more specific but who has time to memorize the price of socks? Maybe the person stealing them.

Maybe it’s someone’s side hustle. Maybe there is a guy taking my socks out to New York and laying them all out on a blanket in between bootleg DVD’s and “Koko” Chanel purses. When the cops come and the other guys grab the four corners of their blankets and dash, the sock guy just takes off his shirt and hangs it on the newspaper dispenser then pretends to fold socks.

How does he explain the mismatching pairs, you ask? Well, he doesn’t need to. He’s drying his socks and, officer, it’s really none of your business.

The washer beeps. I grab the wet load and stick it into the dryer.

That’s it! Maybe it’s the dryer. As it heats up and spins, it opens a portal to one of the levels in hell.

But wouldn’t socks burn off the feet of hell’s residents? What would be the point of socks in hell? Unless hell has froze over and socks keep their feet warm. Once your feet get cold, that’s it, there’s no getting warmed up again.

Oh shit! A dryer sheet! I reach down to my feet where I keep my quarters and pull a metallic George Washington from out of my sock. I offer it to my neighbor in exchange for a dryer sheet.

She says to just take one, no need for the quarter. I tuck George back into my sock and pull it back up, mid-calf. Calf? like cow? Anyway.

I open the dryer and pop in the sheet. static electricity be damned, like my sock thieves.

Just over an hour later, the laundry load is done. I pull out all the clothes and take inventory. All shirts present, all pants folded, underwear all accounted for, my favorite jacket here and–wow–all the socks are accounted for!

I plop everything into the basket and with a spring in my step, I decide to buy some bubble gum.

I put down the basket and reach for my quarters.

I feel nothing by my hairy ankle.

I look down and my socks are gone.

I look back at the dryer and a glow comes from within, fading from bright to deep red and disappearing altogether with a small sizzle and puff of smoke.

The horror.

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Rabbit, Puppet, Death

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320

Have I shown you my bunny rabbit? He’s cute and fluffy and smells so good. Want to pet him?

Oh the smell? That’s just Bugs, except he doesn’t like carrots. Actually he doesn’t keep much down anymore, not since I went on vacation.

Where did I go for vacation? It was beautiful, there were women and men all dressed in white, they took care of everything. I had a bed and even a friend for the first time ever.

My friend was cool. He would save his meatloafs under his pillow and play with them late at night. He didn’t ever let me see but it sounded fun. My friend also showed me how to make forever friends.

We had recess two times a day and sometimes there would be a dead bird and one time a dying squirrel. The hotel cat must have started eating its legs.

My friend showed me how to make them my forever friends. They would live with me, the bird did. Until one of the women in white found it and scolded me, I guess because the bird hadn’t paid for the room.

I understand. Sometimes rules make me angry but I understand.

My friend showed me how to make forever friends talk, so that we could share secrets and tell jokes. He took the squirrel even though it looked like the squirrel was trying to leave. Its legs, tail and hindquarters looked a little like meatloaf.

My friend said that sometimes the animals don’t know they want to be forever friends until you show them how.

He poked two fingers into the meatloaf part of the squirrel until I couldn’t see his fingers. Then he wiggled his fingers and the squirrel bulged its eyes and moved its mouth. It was a miracle. The squirrel was trying to talk! He had made a forever friend. I guess my roommate did that because he knew I was leaving.

Anyway, so now I’m here and I made my little Bugs into a forever friend. He stinks and sometimes his fur comes off but he never likes to leave my left hand. We do everything together.

Are you sure you don’t want to pet him?

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