Saddle Up Saloon; Bar Hire

Written by D. Avery @shiftnshake

       Read my writing and see my books at

April 6, 2020

“Well howdy, Ma’am. Welcome ta the Saddle Up Saloon. Ma name’s Pal O’ Round, an’ you must be here about the job interview.”

“Job interview? No, I—”

“What we need aroun’ here is someone with a varied skillset, kin do lotsa diff’rent things. Fer instance, say a light bulb needed changin’. Would ya be able ta change it?”

“I could try, but the light bulb would have to truly desire change. You see, I’m a psychologist.”

“I don’t see whut bein’ a cyclist has ta do with anythin’. Lotta folks aroun’ here ride hosses, but all types is welcome, an’ it seems ta keep ya fit, so if ya wanna spin yer wheels, thet’s fine.”

“Psychologist, not cyclist! I was both, but I haven’t cycled since my bike was nicked and I haven’t psychologised officially for ten years. But, like riding a bike, you never completely forget how to do it.”

“No wonder yer lookin’ fer a job. An’ yer background could be useful… mebbe ya’d like ta meet Kid. Kid? Huh… Kid must still be down in the cellar, went down there ta bring up more cream soda fer the bar. Shouldn’ta taken this long. Wanna follow me down there, see what’s got Kid all tied up?”

“Um, I’d rather not go down into the cellar.”

“I git thet. ‘Fraid a dark places?”

“Afraid of getting locked up down there, certainly. I could tell you a story about a man—”

“Gol dang it, Pal, somethin’s nibblin’ at the leaves on my little poet tree!”

“There’s Kid. Shush Kid, I’m in the middle a conductin’ an innerview. This woman here is retired an’ has nuthin’ ta do so she’s lookin’ fer a job.”

“That is not the case! I— wait. Nibbles? Let me see this poet tree. Ah ha. See the slime trail? This is the work of… slugs!”

“Slugs? Oh no! Pal, where kin we find a slug-slayer in these parts?”

“Excuse me, but I am a slug-slayer.”

“I don’t think we need ta continue this here innerview. Yer hired!”

“I’ll help you with your slug problem, but I assure you, I am not looking for a job! I keep very busy. For example, being a ranger.”

“A ranger! Thet’s perfect fer this place. It’ll make folks feel even safer as they explore the Ranch.”

“Ranch? No, I tramp the moors.”

“More whut? We got plenny a ever’thin’ right here. Now let’s head back inta the saloon, git things finalized. Git ya settled inta yer new job.”

“I am not taking the job. I can’t stay here. I would miss my chorus.”

“Courses? Shorty’s takin’ courses too! Somethin’ ‘bout ropin’ an’ ridin’ I think. Yep, yer gonna fit right in… uh, what’d ya say yer name was?”

“I didn’t say. Anne.”

“And what?”

“Anne. Anne Goodwin.”

“Good one? Ya really ain’t said much a anythin’. Whyn’t ya tell us a little ‘bout yersef. A little story mebbe, if’n yer the story tellin’ type. If yer gonna tend bar here yer gonna have ta be if not conversant, at least anecdotal.”

“Pal, ya shouldn’t be convertin’ no one, jist let folks be. An’ I reckon if ya’d shut yer piehole, Pal, she might git some words a her own out.”

“Thank you Kid. I’m actually looking for three fathers.”

“Fathers? You a Catholic?”

“Not anymore. No, I’m looking for the dads from the e-book freebie I put together. I heard they’d gathered at the bar to swap stories.”

“Reckon they could be here swappin’ stories an’ bendin’ an elbow. Thet ain’t a problem is it?”

“It’s fine. Maybe, I don’t know. It’s never happened before. I’m a little concerned because their daughters are feeling neglected, but then they felt neglected already, at least Crystal Tipps did, although she’s too young to know any different and Hayley’s shown she can take care of herself…”

“Whoa, stop, back up. Yer kinda ramblin’ there Ranger.”

“I’m thinking.”

“Looks painful.”

“I’m thinking these guys might be able to help each other. Jasmine’s dad might have some advice for Crystal Tipps’ dad especially. Or just listening to each other could be therapeutic.”

“Yer lookin’ ta set up a ther’py group?”

“No, like I said, I don’t do that anymore. I write novels and short stories. And a blog about reading and writing with about ten book reviews a month.”

“Well we sure like stories aroun’ here. Yep, ya def’nitely got the job, Ranger.”

“I told you, I’ve got enough to do. Oh, wait, I could pop in occasionally with some reading recommendations. You could give me a zero-hours contract. In fact, I’m free tomorrow. I wouldn’t mind sharing my thoughts on lockdown literature.”

“We could set something up for you down in the cellar.”

“I’d be much more comfortable in the open air, thank you.”

“Alrighty, suit yersef. Reckon we don’t need ta know what’s unnerneath thet.”


“Jeez, Pal, I wunner why she’s so skittish about the cellar.”

“Dunno, Kid, but I figger we’ll see thet one agin real soon.”

“Mebbe. Read any good books lately?”


Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, was published in May 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity, was published in November 2018. A former clinical psychologist, Anne is also a book blogger with a special interest in fictional therapists.

Anne juggles her sentences while walking in the Peak District National Park (where she is also a volunteer ranger), only to lose them battling the slugs in her vegetable plot. As a break from finding her own words, she is an avid reader and barely-competent soprano in an all-comers choir.

 Her column on lockdown literature should be live on April 7th via this link. (Hopefully!)

 Subscribe to Anne’s newsletter for a free e-book of prize-winning short stories, Somebody’s Daughter.

Annethology Website:

Annecdotal Blog:

Twitter @Annecdotist.


Pal & Kid are free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch. They never tuck tail, but their tales are corralled as Ranch Yarns at ShiftnShake. If asked, they will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. Please let these yahoos know what you think, and stop in at the Saddle Up anytime for a virtual good time.

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  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    “Well, Pal, that innerview went purty well. She seems like a good one.”
    “That’s what I said, Pal. Anne’s a good one. Though I’m still confused. Did she take the job or jist that gig here tomorrow? Seems kinda wrapped up in books, don’tcha think? An’ call me crazy, but with all her slug-slaying, chorusin’, rangerin’ an’ writin’, well I gotta think she might have multiple personality disorder.”
    “I’d like ta order you a change a personality, Kid. Jist shush, so she don’t call ya crazy. But we’ll keep the job posted.”
    Attention Characters! Hep Wanted. Apply Within.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Well, that was certainly the weirdest job interview I’ve ever done but, amid the confusion, that pair are quite perceptive. I actually do have a kind of multi-identity disorder – or perhaps it’s only when I’m odd-jobbing at the ranch:
      For anyone considering letting these characters mess around with your authorial persona, I strongly recommend you taking the plunge – it’s fun!
      And apologies for that paragraph in my bio showing up in bold – it wasn’t meant to happen – but it’s just more evidence of an identity that got out of hand.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thank you for taking part! I left your bio bold- seemed fitting. We are all looking forward to your next gig here at the Ranch, the Tuesday column on…. what’s it on? Readin an sech?

      • Jules

        Anne it was a joy to read your ‘interview’ – And many thanks for helping with the Poet Tree too! I did some weeding yesterday and my muscles are saying I ought to use a little bench or something next time. I’ll survive my minor aches with a good book.

        I’ve got a huge mountain of books to read. I think though I’ve got to make a list of some Rancher’s books and enjoy them in the mix. I’ve also got to find me another location other than across my hubby from the dining room table so I can catch up on blog reading and writing.

        We’ve been on lockdown for about three weeks already and take at least one half hour walk a day. One day our neighbor saw us we told her it was our third outing!

        It is spring here and I still have to wait for the frost free day to put my plants out in my raised garden. Mostly herbs and a few pepper plants. I’ve learned that tomatoes are going to have to go in their own pots though as they take up too much room in my 4′ x 4′ garden. I’d have a patch in the back, but the trees – well it’s just too shady.

        Thanks Pal and Kid for holdin’ down the fort of the Saloon. That Poet Tree is looking good and is a great place for inspiration too.

        Cheers from the Poet Lariat ~ JulesPaige (or jist Jules will do).

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Thanks, Jules, it’s that time of year when people tend to go to the doctor’s with bad backs from overreaching themselves in the garden (although I imagine many will be staying away this year for some strange reason). We’ve got a large garden with plenty of space for weeds and slugs with a few vegetables and flowers in between. I gave up growing peppers here in the UK a little while ago as they never amounted to much, but I do have twelve varieties of tomato seedlings on the go. I’m not expecting any more frosty days but there’s potential for frosty nights for another month or so. We’ve done almost 2 weeks of lockdown now – I pity those who can’t get outside so much.
        Hope you can stay safe and sane!

      • Charli Mills

        Anne, thank you for having some fun with Kid and Pal O’Round! Don’t worry about the bold text — the brand sheriff rode through, ha, ha! I’m looking forward to the Literary Lockdown tomorrow.

  2. Ann Edall Robson

    The bunch at The Saloon sure are friendly folk. Introducing us to Anne Goodwin the way they did seemed to go off without (too much of) a hitch. I hope they didn’t scare her off. Oh, wait, she’s a volunteer ranger and slug-slayer. She’ll do just fine.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I hear tell she’s got a Ranch gig tomorrow. Lockdown literature? Whoa. What genre is thet?

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      They’re a bit scary at first as you never quite know where they’ll take you but kind hearted souls underneath.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Yikes! Underneath? Why were you so apprehensive about the cellar, anyway?

  3. Chelsea Owens

    Howdy, Anne! I always love hearin’ from you and wish you a winning fight with your garden slugs. 🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Your efforts to keep the off shoot poet tree healthy and growing are much appreciated.

  4. Norah

    Another fabulous interview. Love it. The conversation is very clever and engaging. Love the humour – can’t get enough of it these days. Puns are my style but these just flow. I don’t know how you do it. I look forward to Anne’s post tomorrow. It’s sure to be a good one.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Thank you Nora. Working from home, it’s good to know these two are safely away at this saloon while I attend to my duties. I sure am grateful to Ms. Mills for giving these characters a place to go. If you enjoy coming here to the saloon, I am glad, it’s meant to be a respite for us all. (If you’re here about the job, just email me and I’ll run it by those two yahoos)

      • Norah

        No job application from me, sorry. I’ve got enough of my own. 🙂 But thanks for invite. It is fun to check in on a Monday evening and see how everyone’s going though.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Glad you enjoyed it Norah. The humour’s mostly down to D giving these characters their heads. See you tomorrow!

      • Norah

        They do a grand job. I look forward to future interviews. Also to your post tomorrow (today).

  5. Pamela Beverly

    It’s like the old who’s on first gag, lol!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Glad you found your way here, where we’re here to serve! (Though I hear the service isn’t so great)

      • Pamela Beverly

        I lurk around in the background, enjoying the stories.

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:

    Bar’s open at Carrot Ranch. Come by for tips and takeaways from author Anne Goodwin.

  7. susansleggs

    Nice to get to know you a bit better Anne. And I agree, Pal and Kid sure can make any situation light-hearted. I’ll look forward to reading your column with my morning coffee.

  8. Charli Mills

    Anne is a Good One! These characters are finding their stride with their new digs. Now we know Pal’s last name (of course he’d be Pal O’Round). I hear beer helps with slugs. Maybe set up a keg for them under the Poet Tree. Well done, D. Avery!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      “Did ya see that, Pal? ‘Well done, D. Avery’? Jeez. We do all the work around’ here an’ it’s ‘Well done, D. Avery’. I’m of a mind ta send that D. Avery into the cellar with one a Anne Goodwin’s characters, if ya know whut I mean.”

      “Shush, Kid. Jist git the beer fear the slugs.”

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Kid, I’ve got an idea. Get D. Avery to send in a delivery of beer and oranges. You drink the beer and use the orange peel to catch the trap the slugs.

      • Charli Mills

        Can you cut an orange in half and pour beer in it? Will that make an even more attractive slug trap? I wonder if I could drink beer from an orange half? I might join the slugs!

      • Charli Mills

        Pal, Kid, you be nice to your author, get her a cyser or a cider.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      I’ve never tried drowning slugs in beer, but I know they’d die happy.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        They’ve never complained and it gets the earwigs too.

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Are earwigs bad though? We might all be growing some with our hairdressers out of bounds.

  9. TanGental

    Well there’s a new Anne along every minute… wonder what we’ll get next. They keep you on your toes those two chaps, don’t they?

  10. Lisa A. Listwa

    Love getting to know more about Anne. Thanks, Pal and Kid!

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