Winner of Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest #2

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 14, 2017

Little & Laugh

By Geoff Le Pard

The time has come to talk of many things. Well, only one really. Who won the second of the fantabulous Flash Fiction Rodeo contests hosted by the dynamic, the charismatic, the organic, the titanic Charli Mills.

I had the privilege of setting the contest criteria and, following a theme that echoes down the years from my childhood, I wanted to find the funny in you all. Someone once said, ‘Life is Poor, Solitary, Nasty, Brutish and Short’. Clearly that person needed to have a go at flash fiction; they needed to join the dance at Charli’s Rodeo; they needed to stop looking at their shoes. I mean, feet are funny but shoes? Serious stuff, people.

I’m not a criteria kind of guy. Some of my fellow competition setters had all sorts of rules and stuff. Me? MAKES US LAUGH in between 289 and 308 words. Not hard, huh?

Well, you pretty much all said it was hard. And yep. You’re right it can be. But you tried. 28 of you gave it a shot. A couple of you can’t count but hey, maybe that was the joke. One dudeish kind of guy had a go, flopped the word count spectacularly with a piece of hilarious spam and left us wondering if he (or she, or maybe I shouldn’t be speciesist and genderist and stick with they or it) should at least get an honourable mention.

But this is a serious competition. I mean Charli collects rocks; she might start throwing them if I don’t behave.

So, I fed my fellow judges lime jelly-babies and peanut butter oysters and we set too. Those delightful judges – Barb Taub and Lucy Brazier – had their own unique take on the entries. We battled, and we bartered – I’d allow number 19 if they stopped bighting the heads off first. Eventually we shortlisted three. And then we got really mucky. We dived for more oysters and eventually an arm appeared above the broiling ocean holding a winner…


The Bus Stop

By Colleen Chesebro

In 1971, I was a sergeant in the U. S. Air Force, stationed at Korat Air Force Base, Thailand. The Vietnam War raged around me.

Each morning I took the bus to the base. The voices of my military superiors echoed, reminding me to be careful. Saboteurs were everywhere. The Viet Cong traveled freely between the borders. Last week a sergeant had been stabbed on his way home. I trusted no one.

I strolled into the bus stop like I owned it. Crouched in the shadows, was an old man. He stared at me and our eyes locked. He spoke in Thai, “Sawadi ton chaw.”

My fear erupted. I said defiantly in English, “Fuck you, old man!” I gave him “the finger,” my feeble American attempt to intimidate him. The old man stared at me with razor-sharp eyes.

I worked with Thai civilians and knew they would help me. I explained the incident to a group of my friends. The workers exchanged glances as their eyes creased in laughter, saying, “The old man said good morning to you.”

Now, I understood. I knew if I was to survive I had to learn the language and the customs of the people.
“It is Thai custom to show proper respect for our elders,” they chorused. “When you see the old man again, bow and say the same thing to him that he said to you.”

The next morning at 0500 hours, I set out. I was guarded but kept my wits about me. There in the shadowy recesses of the bus stop, crouched the old man.

I approached him with a smile and bowed, saying, “Sawadi ton chaw.”

The old man regarded me with those sharp eyes I had noticed the day before. In the clearest English I had ever heard, he said, “FUCK YOU,” and gave me the finger!


Charli asked us to say why we chose this entry; we judges talked about that. Actually, we barely said anything. We were stumped as to what to say. See, that’s the thing with humour. If it works, it works. There isn’t really a mechanic. In so far as we articulated (ha! Have you met my judges? Articulated, indeed! Hector; browbeat maybe but something as civilised as articulated?) why it was funny it was because we knew something was coming, the set up was delicious and when it did appear we all barked out a laugh. It worked. Sorry if we can’t say more, but we can’t.

Charli then gave us the option of promoting, as highly commended, our own favs. We had whittled our list down to three, and we loved the above, so we were loath to go outside of those three. So here are the other two finalists. Well done; spankingly good pieces, both. Why did we laugh? We did. End of. Keep it up.


The day my phone turned into a needy surrealist and developed an obsession with otters!

By Sam Catchpole

When I set my phone the task of writing poetry, I never expected it to reveal a secret life full of angst, rich plotlines and otters…
“I hate it when people think they know me
I have been thrown away
It does not matter
I hate it when you don’t think of me
I have just noticed the otter
It seems that there is no such thing as Tuesday”
That could have been extremely depressing if it hadn’t turned suddenly, into a surrealist, near future expose on a world with otters peering at you from behind the impending destruction of Tuesday.
“During that moment you can tell me how you feel
Yes it was meant for you but I am not
Soon I will be honest with the otter”
It would seem that I have been lying to the otter. But what about and why? Was it about the destruction of Tuesday, which really can only be a good thing. Why would anyone lie about that? Maybe it was something else, something I was not sure that the otter could handle. Maybe I was concerned that the otter would indeed tell me how he felt…
I had to find out why I lied to the otter!
“I don’t know what you are
Otters and I have gin and tonic
I am just so ready for a new wildcat”
That explains it, the otter didn’t know about the new wildcat. Everyone seems to have gin and tonic though so I think the honesty went well. I am not so sure about the wildcat however…
“The otter is definitely the best sort of dragon
We need a better wildcat
Don’t forget to check out the other angry bears”
I think the otter should possibly lay off the gin…


Flash Suit

By Dermott Hayes

Bullying, Salvatore resolved, can never defeat me but resolve can be a tough and exacting master.
The politics of envy makes people mean and desirous of everything they don’t have and want, particularly when someone has it who they believe don’t deserve it as much as them.

Just don’t ask them to tell you why they deserve it because they become all bitter at attempts to deny them something they now claim as a natural right.

That’s why irony seemed an unlikely saviour but Salvatore was determined to recruit Irony Man to help his cause in his struggle against the bullies.

Irony Man is a modest superhero who dresses like a dandy with the whimsical character of a Limerick poet. His laconic demeanour, fancy clothes and manicures would set him aside.

“So you want me to make myself the object of their destructive derision?” Irony Man, clad in an emerald tweed tailored suit, asks Salvatore.

“Well, yes, or at least make them appreciate the inherent contradictions in their own position,” Salvatore suggests, “so they recognise its true intention and their own negative delusion.”

“I see,” says Irony Man.

Three weeks later, Salvatore’s on the receiving end of yet another lesson in, apparent communal intimidation, according to the report, when his shoes are stolen.

On the night of the High School Prom, Salvatore arrives, bouquet in hand, for his Prom date.

She arrives, in a Cadillac, with her father.

The bullies turn up and glower.

Only until the latest glare of a new arrival makes them squirm.

Irony Man is in a brilliant shining suit.

‘What the fuck?” asks Salvatore.

“I did what you asked,” Irony Man offers.

“How, for fuck’s sake?” asks, Salvatore.

“It’s a mirror suit,” says Irony Man, ‘anyway, I buy all my suits from Goodwill.”



Congratulations to all the writers who entered! You dared to stretch your writing and braved the first Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. Each participant has earned the following badge, which you may copy and post on you blog, social media or print out and frame. It’s a badge of honor. And now you can say, you have had your first rodeo! You wrote well.

We want to share all the contest entries in a collection. We’ll be contacting each of our contestants and challengers to seek interest and permission to publish a digital collection in January. Writers retain all copyrights to their work.

We’d appreciate your feedback! We want to make this an annual event that is fun, engaging and supportive of literary art. Please take a a few minutes for a brief 5 question survey. Thank you!

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  1. Charli Mills

    Geoff, Barb and Lucy — you did not give us an easy ride, picking humor! But in return, you had the difficulty of picking. You did well and I hope Colleen is having the biggest laugh! Congratulation Colleen, and to Sam and Dermott for gifting our judges and readers guffaws!

    • Colleen Chesebro

      Thank you so much! I must share that this is a true story that happened to my husband. We’ve told this story many times because of the cultural lesson involved. I’m deeply honored that I could do the story justice! ??

      • Liz H

        Loved it–that the Thai man had been studying up as well, with similar results. Intentions mean the most, yes?

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Absolutely. This really happened to my husband. He ended up having a good laugh with the old man. I’m just happy I could do the story justice. Thanks so much. <3

      • Liz H

        Shared laughter, that’s what’ll bring us all together, in the end! 😀

      • Charli Mills

        Humor is what we need in those times where we are hypervigilent to the point of doing something out of character or fear. Humor really can unite us in our shared humanity. I’m glad the old man had a laugh with your husband. Your told the story well!

      • Colleen Chesebro

        Those are some of the best lessons in life. Thanks so much, Charli! <3

  2. kim blades, writer

    Brilliant stories. Well done guys!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Kim!

  3. Ritu

    Wonderful well deserving winners!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Ritu!

  4. Believing Sight Unseen

    Congratulations … to all who entered and those who made the judges laugh most … looking forward to reading all.

    • Charli Mills

      We’re gathering up all the stories because they are all worth reading! Thanks!

  5. Norah

    Congratulations, Colleen, Same and Dermott. You showed us how humour is done! I’m also looking forward to reading all the entries. Laughter is the best medicine.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s certainly true — laughter cures much. Thanks, Norah!

  6. Judy E Martin

    Congratulations Colleen, a very well-deserved win. Sam and Dermott did a fabulous job too! 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      All the writers did! Every writer who entered bravely took on humor. Thanks, Judy!

  7. Mary Smith

    Wonderful story from Colleen – really made me laugh.

    • Charli Mills

      It was well told, an attribute of good humor. Thanks for stopping by, Mary!

  8. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Great stories. Congratulations Colleen, and also Sam and Dermott. And congratulations to the judges – a hard job well done.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Irene!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Irene!

  9. julespaige

    Good job everyone Contestants, Challengers and Judges!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jules!

  10. Dermott Hayes

    Congratulations, Colleen, worthy winner and hilarious story. This was fun.

    • Colleen Chesebro

      And your story also, Dermott. You always share great stories that I enjoy. <3

    • Charli Mills

      Congratulations to you, too, Dermott! Great story!

      • Dermott Hayes

        Thanks, Charli, I’ve had a laugh. It’s a great competition and I’m glad Lucy Brazier drew my attention to it.

      • Charli Mills

        Always good to share laughs!

  11. Annette Rochelle Aben

    Awesome! Congrats to winners ALL! More fun than humans should be allowed to have for free. 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Yes! Lots of indulgent fun! Thanks, Annette!

    • Charli Mills

      You tickled well! <3

  12. olganm

    Excellent work Colleen, and Sam and Dermott. And well done to the judges. Very difficult task indeed!

    • Charli Mills

      Not an easy task with all these great writers! Thanks for stopping by, Olga!

  13. Allie P.

    Congratulations Colleen!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Allie!

  14. Liz H

    Congratulations to Colleen, Sam, and Dermott. You all started my day off with a much-appreciated chuckle!

    • Dermott Hayes

      Thanks to all for the good wishes, look out for Irony Man in the future and his dashing tale of derring, possibly

      • Liz H

        I’ll keep my eyes peeled! 😉

      • Charli Mills

        We need more Irony, Man! 😉

      • Dermott Hayes

        that’s what I said, without the comma

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Liz!

  15. Kerry E.B. Black

    Brilliant! Woo hoo everyone!

    • Charli Mills

      Lots of shine gathering at the Ranch! Thanks, Kerry!

  16. Sherri Matthews

    Congratulations Colleen! And to Sam and Dermott for the highly commended. Great flashes all, just what we need, thanks again Geoff 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Flash laughs! 😀 Thanks for stopping by, Sherri!

  17. D. Wallace Peach

    Wonderful! Congrats to Colleen for the hilarious story and to runners-up Sam and Dermott. I love the humor and the laughs. I think this was the hardest of all the challenges, so well done!

    • Charli Mills

      From what I’ve heard, I think was the hardest. Funny how funny we can be until challenged to be so! Thanks, D.!

  18. Sarah Brentyn

    Congratulations, Colleen! 🙂 Great job judges and runners-up. Looks like a difficult job judging these.

    • Charli Mills

      Your judging arena is unfolding, Sarah, but all the leaders will help! Thanks for stopping by to enjoy the laughs!

      • Sarah Brentyn

        😀 The arena is unfolding… LOL. That’s great. I look forward to it. I really do.

  19. robbiesinspiration

    Congratulations Colleen, on a most amusing entry. Well done to the runner-ups too.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Robbie!

  20. dgkaye

    Yay, so happy for my dear friend Colleen. Loved the story too! LOL <3

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for stopping by to share the joy of the winners circle!

      • dgkaye

        Wouldn’t miss it! 🙂

  21. Hugh's Views and News

    Many congratulations Colleen, and also to Dermott and Sam. A tough challenge indeed. I find writing humour not easy to do, but you all brought a smile to my face. Great work from all the judges as well.

    • Charli Mills

      Humor is tough — timing, execution, knowing what others will find amusing (or not). All the entries brought smiles and laughs. Thanks for stopping by, Hugh!

  22. Dermott Hayes

    Thank you, everyone, for your kind sentiments. Colleen’s story was brilliant, hilarious in itself but also an allegorical tale about humour and communication. Undaunted, Irony Man will rise again so look out for his occasional intrusions. Onward, eventually, he says.

    • Charli Mills

      Good assessment of Collen’s story, Dermott. Miscommunication can often lead to humorous stories. Irony Man is a brilliant reflection and I suspect his work id far from over. Funny, yet serious business. Congratulations on tickling the judges and the Ranch with thought-provoking humor!

      • Dermott Hayes

        my pleasure, a good challenge

  23. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    HOW did I miss this announcement??? Terrific way to end the day. Congratulations to Colleen! And to Sam and Dermott, as well!


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