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Rodeo #1: Dialog

A dialogue competition isn’t straightforward. If it is limited to 99 words with three picky judges who want a story, believable and relatable characters, humour and a twist and has a wretched prompt, well… I have to say you gave us a lot of entertainment, showed an extraordinary range of skill and some wholly novel approaches to the challenge. There have to be winners and while there are some who we pushed hard for inclusion on the podium. Finally though we had to limit ourselves as did you and these are the select few. But you’re all winners, natch…

FIRST PLACE: Untitled by Sarah Brentyn

SECOND PLACE: Untitled by Sarah Brentyn

THIRD PLACE: Seems Terminal by Anne Goodwin

HON MEN: Man To Man by Deborah Shaw Wagner; Of Old Men, Teens, and Tortoises by Nidheesh Samant; and A Shell of His Former Self by Bill Engleson


dialogue/monologue ( about Parkinson and a drink) by Frank Prem

thank you

I’ll have

it’s been a long day
to here

I’ve hauled my ass
from this morning
till this moment
and my thirst’s
got a mind
of its own

thank you
for asking

the hospital said
mister Frank
we need to see you
and the hospital said
I had to go

so I’ve been all day
interpreting dementia
what my mother meant

what did my mother

don’t let ‘em tell you
that Parkinson’s won’t claim
the soul

I’ve just been
in Parkinson’s strange hell
take my advice
and don’t you go


Untitled by Joelle LeGendre

“I’m your worst nightmare, taking forever to attack…”

“You’re a turtle, Louie.”

“No, I’m a giant tortoise who can live to be over 100 years old.”

“Mom said you’d weigh ten pounds, at most.”

“Fifty years later, saddled with a four hundred pound mascot, you continue to wonder about her sanity.”

“She’s dead. Without a brain she’s no longer insane.”

“Mmmm. Your toes look yummy.”

“Funny, Louie. You’re a vegetarian.”

“Halloween is coming soon. I’m summoning my inner dinosaur.”

“What costume are you wearing this year?”

“Either The Flash or Zorro. I can’t decide. What about you?”

“Sleeping Beauty.”


Exclamations by Sam Kirk

“Hey. Hey, you!”

“Shhh, I’m trying to take a nap here.”

“You came here to take a nap?”

“I brought a class of unruly teenagers to roam around the zoo to get some peace and quiet.”

“Well, isn’t it convenient?”

“Yes, it’s a genius plan. You have to admit. Now, please, go. Go away.”

“I need your eyes.”

“You WHAT?”

“I need your EYES.”

“I heard you the first time, but what di… oh, umm…”

“I have no eyes of my own, so I thought I could have yours, since apparently you don’t use those…”

“KIIIIIIIIIIIDS? We’ve gotta go!”


Untitled by Sam Kirk

“Brother Pang?”

“I’m too old for this.”

“Is that you, Pang?”

“What was I thinking having all these drinks last night?”


“Huh? Who? What? Where?”

“My poor brother. What have they done to you?”

“Teddy? Where are you? Is that you?”

“Stop freaking out.”

“Is my hangover THAT bad? Am I now seeing and hearing things?”

“Listen, brother, I know someone who owes me a favor. We can get you back to your normal form.”

“Normal form? That’d be great. My head is pounding.”

“The spell has you confused. I’ll get you help. Don’t worry.”

“Quiet, please.”


Bradypus Tridactylus by JulesPaige

“No, Brady I am not a Red Eared Slider. I am a tortoise”

“I can never get that straight. Sorry Fred”

“Listen I understand that you think this coffee shop is a zoo.”

“Yep, it’s true. I see cougars, like that hot babe over there.”

“Brady you are so easily distracted.”

“But Fred, there really are some cool chicks that come in here. Did you see the one with the seven earrings in one ear? Cute, but I gotta wonder how she sleeps.”

“Brady, I think you have cornered the market on sleep, being that you are a sloth.”


Untitled by Willow Willers

“Does that chap realize he’s talking to St Francis.”

“No way not a chance in hell”

“Does St. Francis know who he’s talking to? ”

“Well he just might , he is patron Saint of writers after all.”

“Tell me, why did Satan turn Frank into an ancient Tortoise?”

“Well he is always dicking about trying to upset the status quo.”

“Yes but it’s usually you,Gabriel who’s his target.”

“Can you hear what he is saying Michael”

“Not really but I’m pretty sure it’s not the meaning of life”

“Omg, he’s bitten Frank. No”

“I wander what he said.”


Brussel Sprouts by Jenny Kearney

“Hello Jean, how nice to see you, come in and sit down. Would you like a cup of tea?”

“Well thanks Mary, if it’s no trouble. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. Ive only just found out or I would have come to the funeral.”

“That’s very kind, Jean.”

“So Mary, how exactly did your husband John die.”

“Well, he went into the garden one evening last month to pick some brussel sprouts for dinner, just keeled over and died.”

“Good gracious, whatever did you do?”

“Well Jean, I just had to open a can of peas.”


Conversation with a Tortoise by Joy Lennick

‘You’re looking smug. No mortgage, protected and symbolized for longevity in China…’

‘PRAISE BE…but I’m in New York, bud.’

‘Still…you don’t work hard like I do, or pay for your food.’

‘Yeah, but how would you like to be taken from your home in the beautiful Galapagos Islands, kept in a building and gawped at by endless queues of people?’

‘Yes, but you get to live for. maybe 150 years!’

‘Well, pardon me, you lose some and you win some.’

‘On reflection, I do have freedom of choice and live in a democracy. Not bad, eh!’


Necking by Ritu Bhathal

“Whatcha looking at?”


“Look, dear! He’s trying to say something to me!”


“Oh do be careful, Mr Tortoise. If you strain your neck too much, you might just do something to yourself.”


“I do wonder what these animals are thinking. Is he just making random noises? Or is he trying to communicate with me?”

“Mmmmnnnngghrrrr!!! I AM trying to say something!”

“Geoff, dear, we need to move along now.”


“Mmmmmnnnnnggghhh! No! Don’t go! For the first time, I found a man with a neck to rival mine! I’ll even forgive you calling me a ‘he’!”


A Shell of His Former Self by Bill Engleson



“I thought…”

“That it would last longer?”


“It lasted as long as it did.”

“I suppose. But that’s not much of an answer.”

“Hmmm! Do you really have a question?”

“Of course. It seems like it has ended…far too soon.”

“It always does. But what did you expect?
Advance notice?”

“Maybe. Why not?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because LIFE is all the notice you’re entitled to. By all accounts, you’ve had a good one.”

“And still have, right?”

“Time does flit.”

“You are so fucking cryptic.”

“I’ve been told that. Regardless. Better pack your bags.”


The Contest by Nancy Brady

“A staring contest? Really, Tommy? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Why not? We gotta give the tourists something to talk about. Besides, I’ve
been practicing.”

“Yeah, and that’s the problem; you’ve had years to perfect your steely-eyed, non-blinking ability.”

“George, you chicken? You are; you’re chicken. Bock-bock-bock-bock…”

“I’m not chicken, but geez Louise, it’s a silly game, but you’re on.”

“Okay, on your mark, get set,..”

“Wait a minute, just one minute ‘til I’m ready.”

“You ready?”

“I guess.”

“On your mark, get set, go.”

“Check out that hot tortoise over there…”


“Made you look. I win.”


What’s the Difference? by Norah Colvin

“What’s ‘e doin’ now?”

“Looks like ‘e’s gunna kiss the turtle.”

“Didja see what ‘e was doin’ before—”

“I know. I know. Can’t wait ta tell t’others.”

“They won’t believe—.”

“He is really strange.”

“Shh! ‘ere ‘e comes. Pretend you’re lookin’ at your phone.”

“Oh my god. ‘ja see the look ‘e giv’us?”

“Do ya think ‘e knew we’re laughing at ‘im?”


“Wanna see where he’s goin’?”

“Yeah. ‘sgo.”

“Where’d ‘e go?”

“Looking for someone, girls?”

“Oh, um, not —”

“Good, cause I was waiting for you — want you to know it’s a tortoise, not a turtle.”


Untitled by Kay Kingsley

“Come here often? Afternoons are always busy. Best time to people watch. Do a lot of people watching?
No? Well, I do. Seems sometimes they’re watchin’ me more than I’m watchin’ them. Don’t say much, do you? That’s OK. You know it’s a good friendship when you can sit in silence, just sit and be quiet, looking around, nice and….
Hey, see those girls over there? They’re totally checking you out! I think she’s coming over. Quick, look at me. May want to picker up like this. If you’re anything like a banana slug, you’re in for a surprise.”


Reptile Retirement by Darlene Foster

“Hello, Howard”

“Hi, Dave”

“How do you like it in here?”

“It’s OK, but I miss my wife.”

“Really? I didn’t think you liked her that much.”

“Well, turtles don’t really show affection, but she was my soul mate.”

“She was eighty years old when she died.”

“Yup, she was just a little younger than me.”

“So what do you miss about her?”

“She always lifted my spirits when I was down. She saved the freshest lettuce leaves for me and…”

“And what?”

“She told me I was handsome.”

“Are you blushing, Howard?”

“Gosh, no, Dave. Turtles can’t blush.”


Interviewing Old Thom by JulesPaige

“Sir, is it true that your full name is Thomas Theodore Temperance Tortoise The Third?”


“So, you are retired from racing?”


“I believe that the hare underestimated you as an opponent.”


“Is it true that the hare’s heirs have challenged you to a rematch?”


“There absolutely no chance that you’ll be bullied into another race?”


“Now you are traveling the world teaching patience and persistence are virtues – and that’s how you ended up at this cafe?”


“There you have it – straight from old Thom himself. This has been WZOO’s reporter; Geoff Le Pard.”


Of Old Men, Teens, and Tortoises by Nidheesh Samant (The Dark Netizen)

“Do you see that old man there? The one talking to the turtle.”

“Yep, I see him. He’s looking like a retard.”

“Hahaha! These senile old farts, I tell you. I bet he believes that the tortoise over there understands what he is saying.”

“I guess it can’t be helped. Comes with old age.”

* * *

“You see that girl there, Mr. Tortoise? The one who’s looking here and talking to herself. I bet she’s making fun of me.”

“Teenagers, I tell you. They think everyone else is an idiot. I bet they also think tortoises don’t speak.”


Untitled by Marjore Mallon

“Hey Fred…”

“Flaming Frankie. You Freddie me every time.”

“Sorry, man you look like a Freddy to me,”

“Well I’m not!”

“Don’t pout, handsome lawyer dude. Let me kiss you better.”


“Now you’re being rude.”

“I don’t get no kick out of kissing turtles.”

“Live a little, bro. Let’s make a splash together.”

“A splash, I’d flood the pond!”

“I’d show off me wares. Mr Hot Blue Tee-Shirt might notice.”

“Notice, he’d love you to take that long neck and extend it backwards.”

“Oh! A surprise manoeuvre. A sneak a kiss turtle style.”

“Now you’re making me jealous!”


The Will by Colleene M Chesebro

“I’ve completed the necessary paperwork.”

“Do your children know?”

“Not yet. It will be a surprise for them, I suppose.”

“They might think you’re…”

“Crazy? Well, they know we grew up together.”

“True. My kind has been on the earth since long before the dinosaurs. We are rather durable.”

“I don’t think that fact will assuage their greed.”

“How much longer?”

“Only a few weeks, maybe less.”

“Cancer is a horrible disease. I appreciate everything you’ve done for us. The gift from your estate will keep the preserve active for many more years.”

“You’ll outlive us all, my friend.”


Choices by Sascha Darlington

“Spring me from this joint?”

“Spring you?”

“Help. Me. Escape.”

“I can’t.”

“Sure, you can. You’ll need a forklift…”

“You’re safe here.”

“You’re safer not getting in your car. It’s life, amigo.”

“Point taken.”

“Gotta check on the wife, all the little carapaces.”

“Do you even know where you’re from?”

“Sure. An island.”

“What island?”

“Southern. Sand, water. My. Family.”

“Guilt won’t work. You know, they might not be there.”

“I’ve considered that, but I’ve outlived two handlers, dude. You people mean well, but I want to meander with my compadres. Have choices. Sexy times. Live content. Die free.”


On Closer Inspection by Robbie Cheadle

“You didn’t clean up your work station before you went on vacation, Alexander. Your culture plate is overflowing with mould. Can you sort it out today please?”

“I was just looking at the mould on that plate, William. I’m sorry about the mess but did you notice what has happened. The staphylococcus colonies on the plate have become transparent. They are obviously breaking down and being destroyed by lysins. This mould seems to be the preventing the growth of the bacteria.”

“Let me take a closer look. You’re right, this is astonishing. What a way to make this discovery.”


The Eye by Saifun Hassam

“Samantha, I’ve got our Lighthouse plans mapped out.”

“Red flags around the shores, promontory–”

“And Lighthouse. Safety limits. Rogue waves. Rip tides.”

“How close can we get to the Lighthouse?”

“Outer fence. Security limits. In case.”

“In case the Cassiopeia Eye beams us up into Space. Aagh! Sorry, Tim.”

“It’s OK. You’ve been thinking over the radiation data?”

“Offshore, suborbital, satellites. There’s an intense radiation cone from the Eye. No ships or planes can get close enough to the Lighthouse.”

“Low tech land approach may not work either.”

“If we survive, we’ll go diving. Search for energy sinks.”


Untitled by Stephen Tanham

“It’s dead…”

“What’s dead?”

“This creature with the long neck, here.”

“Eat your sandwiches…”

“That would be disrespectful; it’s dead.”

“It’s the lethal ‘pretend you’re dead to get fed’ giant tortoise, and it’s hungry.”

“You’re being flippant. Creatures die on the spot, sometimes, you know.”

“But this one hasn’t. It’s not dead, it’s a giant tortoise. It wants a bit of your sandwich. I’d eat it before it reincarnates if I were you.”

“It hasn’t moved for five minutes.”

“Neither have you.”

“See, even its eyes aren’t moving.”

“Give me your sandwich.”


“I’m hungry and you’re both dead.”


Blink by Kerry E.B. Black

“Who do you think’ll blink first, your dad or the tortoise?”

“I’m betting on the tortoise. Been alive longer.”

“I don’t know. Your Dad’s pretty determined.”

“Yeah, determined to ruin my life! Like insisting on coming to the zoo. When’s he going to stop being overprotective?”

“Beats me.”

“Hey, that’s Tommy from accounting class. He’s cute, don’tcha think?”

“He’s alright.”

“Wait, what’s he doing? Why’s he sitting near Dad?”

“Don’t freak out. He’s staring at the other tortoise, just like your dad.”

“Well, that puts him out of the running, if he’s just like Dad.”

“Hey, your dad blinked!”


The Book Versus The Movie by Elliott Lyngreen

“Weee dont even care about the Nothing.. oh how did it go? You_you remember The Neverending Story? I just canmot help it. Every time that I see a turtle poking its head out like this, it makes me think of that movie.. Remember the part when Atreyu is speaking from that soaked tree with – oh what…? But did you know, let me tell you this, did you know the original Atreyu in the book had blue hair? I mean, how cool would that have been if as a kid you watched that movie and Atreyu had blue hair?”


Untitled by Frank Hubeny

“If you keep staring at that turtle, you’ll turn into one.”

“You wish.”

“That would make you even slower than your current brand of molasses.”

“Shhh. It’s saying something. Go on, Tommy. What is it? Oh, you say you’re an alien trapped in this creature and can’t get out? You’re from another universe? Beyond the black hole?”

“What black hole?”

“Shhhhh. I’m trying to find out. You say you don’t have much time before you self-destruct?”

“Tell it to self-destruct.”

“Tommy wants to see what happens when he zaps you.”

“I imagine nothing will happen.”

“Go ahead. Zap away.”


Oracle by Kate Blake

“Geoff why am I continually telling you that we can’t keep having these conversations where others might hear.”

“But Sir Thomas parliament needs your input into who should be our Chief Justice? And you”

“Only a yank would involve an old turtle … I might be wise but I’m no fool! You need to give me a candidate with impeccable values not these aggressors with zero respect for half our population.”

“Please sir we need your endorsement”

“Read my lips, find a gentleman who respects women you have enough psychopaths in charge already. The Brits just wouldn’t allow it.”


Taciturn Turtle by Kate Blake

“Hey Gramps is talking to that turtle”

“Now those kids over there think I’ve lost the plot but what would they know! Just checking in as you’re in the know …”

“Come on Gramps we’ll miss the bus”

“Yea yea in a minute” “Who will win the footy this weekend? You’re the only one with 100% accuracy so far. Others can’t even call it an hour before the final whistle.”

“Hey Gramps that turtle can tell you who’ll win the footy”

“Told you those kids don’t have a clue … come on tell me the winner and I’ll leave”


Looking for Advice by Molly Stevens

“Should I break up with Jack?”

“Sarah, I’m not sure what to say.”

“It’s a simple question.”

“I don’t have an answer for that.”

“I need your help to know what to do.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Should I break up with Jack?”

“I don’t have an answer for that.”

“You sound like a broken record.”

“Here’s what I found for ‘broken record.’”

“I don’t want to know about broken records.”

“Give me another chance.”

“You want another chance?”

“I have very few wants, Sarah.”

“What are your wants?”

“I don’t want to talk about myself.”

“Okay, Siri.”


Life, the Universe and Everything by Anne Goodwin


“No! Sign says you’re ninety-six.”

“Fake news, Geoffle.”

“Fake olds, more like.”

“Composing a comedy?”

“Okay, that joke’s rather lame. But forty-two! You’re younger than me.”

“Quit squeaking, this isn’t a pantomime.”

“What is it, then? A fever dream?”

“Flash fiction.”

“What’s the point of that?”

“I’d shrug, but I don’t have the shoulders.”

“But really, why make stuff up?”

“To impress the judges, dear Geoffle.”

“I’m being judged?”

“Haven’t you clocked the cameras?”

“Security. Lest anyone nicks a forty-two-year-old turtle.”

“Tortoise, and I’m not forty-two.”

“But you …”

“Different question, Geoffle. The one you’re aching to ask.”


Inside Geoff’s Dream by Anne Goodwin

“What’s he …?”

“Been staring into that creature’s eyes for all of …”

“Three minutes!”

“And oldies say we’ve no manners.”

“Why doesn’t he …”

“Take a fucking selfie and make way for the real fans?”

“Who is he, anyway? I’m getting five million results for wrinkly, old.”

“Lonesome George.”

“Nah, died in 2012.”

“How could they tell?”

“Slow movers … but one did beat an amber-eyed hare.”


“London Marathon.”

“A tortoise ran the marathon? Virus infected your phone?”

“You talking tortoise?”


“I’m done waiting. Step aside, reptile! My favourite author’s here and I want a word.”


Seems Terminal by Anne Goodwin

“I’ve seen some serious cases, but this.”

“So tragic.”

“Should’ve taken precautions.”

“They don’t all end up in this state?”

“Not the ones who exercise self-control.”

“But isn’t it addictive? No going back once you’ve hit that high.”

“No return to normal, admittedly. But lots draw the line at earwigging on conversations on the bus.”

“Wouldn’t you be curious, though? Wouldn’t you want to inhabit the mind of a tortoise? Or a former lawyer obsessed with words?”

“Sure, if it were reversible.”

“How do you know it’s not?”

“Go and talk to the tortoise. Betcha he answers to Geoff.”


Untitled by Sarah Brentyn

“Mommy, that man’s kissing the tortoise.”

“He’s not kiss…oh, dear God. Zookeeper!”

“What seems to be the problem, Ma’am?”

“The turtle—”

“Ah, yes. Sad state of affairs, that is. And it’s a tortoise.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“Not much I can do, you understand.”

“I do NOT understand.”

“Can’t just magically change the situation, now can I?”

“You must do something. The turtle—”


“Whatever! Stop giggling, Jenny.”

“Don’t worry, Ma’am. We’ve hired a witch to reverse the spell. Should be here next week. He’ll have his wife back then. Enjoy your day.”


Untitled by Sarah Brentyn

“Mr. Le Pard?”

“He’s not here.”

“Isn’t that him?”

“Yes. It is.”

“Okay. Well I need to deliver—”

“He’s not here at the moment.”

“But he’s right there. You just said.”

“He’s probably at the park…maybe the zoo.”

“Excuse me?”

“You must be new.”

“Well, yes. Today’s my first day. I’m Susan. I told him that earlier but he called me Shelley.”

“Ah, the zoo it is then. He’s off visiting his friend, Shelley, the tortoise. No telling when he’ll be back. Just leave the lunch tray, Susan. One of the nurses can bring his meds back later.”


Jeffries and Gally by Susan Sleggs

“That man looks like he’s talking to that turtle.”

“Tortoise. I’ve read they have facial recognition.”

“Really? Haven’t we seen him on TV with other animals?”

“Nah, that guy’s from the San Diego Zoo.”

“I wonder who he is.”

“I couldn’t help overhearing. That’s Mr. Jeffries; he built this reserve for endangered and rescued tortoises then opened it up for the public to enjoy.”

“Can they actually communicate?”

“He’s often seen doing it. I would guess Gally, that’s the tortoise’s name, is imploring him to ask the lady in blue to get her kid’s foot off of his tail.”


Man to Man by Deborah Shaw-Wagner

“You seem like a wise old thing. May I ask a question?”

“Well, I don’t know from wise, but I’m old enough. Ask away.”

“It’s just you’re the first I’ve come across where I feel comfortable asking. You look like you’ve seen a thing or two.”

“Or three, sure.”

“Don’t tell anyone, but I’m having woman trouble. We don’t move through life at the same pace.”

“Can’t she slow down? Can’t you speed up? Compromise?”

“We’ve tried. Nothing works.”

“Then maybe it’s time to move on.”

“I live in a giant terrarium! How far am I going to get?”


Carrot Ranch Literary Community makes literary art accessible 99 words at a time through flash fiction challenges and a group of contests called the Rodeo. 

Full Copyright of individual entries remains with the original author. Collection as a whole is the property of Carrot Ranch Literary Community. Sponsors help fund future events, free weekly challenges and free contests.

Entries are as submitted and not edited. Entries not meeting the specified word count or specific contest rules are not included at the discretion of each contest leader and judges.

Published by Carrot Ranch Literary Community led by Lead Buckaroo, Charli Mills.

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