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“Howdy. Where ya’ll from?”

“Not really sure, actually. A New England town I guess.”

“Yer lost?”

“Lost and left out. Where are we?”

“This here’s the Saddle Up Saloon, jist over the line from Carrot Ranch. They call me Kid. Me an’ my pal Pal run the place fer Shorty. ‘Cept I think Shorty really jist wants us ta stay outta trouble ‘roun the ranch.”

“She keeps you out of trouble by putting you in charge of a saloon? I don’t know this Shorty, but I’ve got to wonder just how full her tool box is.”

“Marge, play nice. Let’s sit down, get a round of beers while we’re here.”

“Good idea, Ernest. Beer’s the answer, no matter the question. And this a nice change from hanging around the garage. I swear our writer has forgotten all about us out there. We could die of thirst for all D. Avery cares.”

“Whoa. Stop. Back up… D. Avery’s yer writer?”

“On again, off again. She’s pretty unreliable.”

“Tell me ‘bout it. Seems ta think she has a mind of her own too. That’s why I been breakin’ away. Doin’ ma own thing. This here saloon is where characters like us kin jist relax, take it easy.”

“Good idea, Kid. You might as well. D. Avery couldn’t plot her way out of a paper bag anyway. All she ever has me and Ernest doing is sitting around drinking beer with our friends!”

“Um, Marge, is that really a problem?”

“Well, I suppose it’s not really a bother, but still. No imagination. Kid, I imagine you’ll be getting me another beer?”

“Yes ma’am! Oh, here’s Pal. Pal, this here’s Ernest and Marge, couple a real characters.”

“Characters, eh? What’s yer story?”

“That’s the problem. We’re not sure, and we can’t be too sure that our writer’s real sure. She doesn’t seem to know an arc from her arse. I mean you can’t just have characters sitting around talking and drinking beer all the time. Can you?”

“Seems a bit much. Pal, what d’ya think ‘bout that?”

“I’m thinkin’ you an’ Marge here got some issues with our writer. Wunner if we kin git that slug-slayin’ cyclist back here, mebbe have an innervention.”

“Marge, Kid, maybe it’s not so bad as you think. I mean, Marge, she does have you fishing sometimes. You like fishing. And you have your own truck, and a she-shed to do your welding in. And good friends.”

“Oh, you’re right Ernest. And she has given me you, big old sweet you. Though you can’t fish for shift’s sake. But you have to admit, we and our friends have been pretty neglected.”

“Hee hee. Ya said shift. Marge, here’s whut we’ll do. We’ll turn the tables.”

“How so, Kid?”

“Not only’ll we stop waitin’ fer our so-called writer ta write us, we’ll write her. What, Pal? Reckon yer gonna tell us ta leave her alone.”

“No, Kid, was jist gonna recommend ya open the idea up ta any character thet’s feelin’ left out an’ might have a story ta tell on their writer. Make it like a prompt fer fictional folks.”

“That’s a good idea, Pal.”

“Thanks Ernest.”

 

“Lissen up, all you disgruntled characters out there! Fergotten an’ neglected, dealin’ with yer writer’s excuses… today, we write them! Yep. In 99 words or less— that’s right, Shorty, or less— leave a story ‘bout yer own writer in the comments. From yer point a view. Characters! Stand up fer yer writes!”

 

“Pal?”

“Yeah, Ernest?”

“I’m a little worried for our writer.”

“Yep. But mebbe this lil prompt’ll be fun fer folks, or at least fer their characters.”

####

Tuff Shift, by Marge Small and A. Kidd

Once upon a time someone increasingly felt cooped up but was chicken to pick up a pen. Everything seemed to ruffle her feathers, made her cross. So she hit the road.

After a long time she learned how to write shortly. Then stories flashed before her eyes. Characters started sleep talking. Even the corny ones stalked her. The road this someone had started down was now a slippery slope. There was no turning back.

She strung these characters along, 99 words here, six sentences there. It wasn’t enough. They had flown the coop. It was time for a coup.

###

 

Ernest Biggs and Marge Small have been recurring characters for many Carrot Ranch 99 word challenges. They are corralled HERE.

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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