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Saddle Up Saloon: Cowsino February 2023

Welcome to the Saddle Up Saloon where we feature interactive characters, real-life authors & poets, the occasional Carrot Ranch announcement, and a Cowsino story game every first Friday of the month. You can learn about the craft of creative writing, introduce your own characters to the Kid & Pal crew, discuss the writer’s journey, and be part of making literary art accessible to anyone.

“Hey Pal.”

“Kid, how’s it goin here at the Saddle Up?”

“Purty good so far. As ya kin see, Frankie an Burt are gittin their second wind afore continuin with their mail deliveries. Couple a women I ain’t seen b’fore showed up. Mebbe they’re from back east. A little one with big hair an a big one with little hair. They went inta the Cowsino.”

“Thet’s right! First Friday of a new month, thet means a new prompt from the ol story spine slot machine. Well, I hope they have fun playin. Reckon they kin read the directions down below fer themsefs.”


“Cowsino? Hey, look, Marge, there’s an old-style slot machine! I told you this saloon would be a fun change for us.”

“Seems a bit gimmicky to me Ilene. Really? There’s a pig and a horse at the bar! When I said something about it that woman with the mail bag gave me a funny look. And those two in the hats? They’re just funny looking.”

“Be nice Marge. Come on let’s try this slot machine. Oh, interesting. It’s a writing game… using the three pictures in any order… okay, I’ll try…

Once upon a time that pesky little Cupid kept buzzing around like a deerfly until finally it bit the reluctant one-legged cowgirl princess.

Every day her cowboy cooed and wooed, brought her roses and stuff like that until they finally shacked up together.

Because of that he got complacent. There was no wooing and less cooing and he didn’t help with the dishes. She noticed the last rose forgotten in the vase, all thorny stem, its bloom blackened and brittle. She noticed that Cupid’s sting was beginning to fester and itch.

Finally, she pulled on her boot and walked.

“What do you think Marge? It’s 99 words exactly! The title is, ‘This Boot Is made For Walking’.”

“I think you should keep your day job Ilene.”

“That was fun. Now you try it.”

“Only if you go to the bar and get me another beer. Okay, let’s see…

One time a highly successful and skillful fisherwoman found herself in Florida, of all places. Every day she wanted to go fishing but what passed for creeks looked like ditches and were lined with alligators and snakes, not to mention snarly, snaggly brambles. Fishing was challenging until she switched her rod and reel for a small bow and arrow. Because of that alligators stopped chasing her bait and it was easier to maneuver. Her tall boots protected her from snakes and thorns. Finally, she’d found a way to put fish in the dish, but couldn’t wait to go home.

“Just in time with my beer, Ilene. Tada! Also 99 words, though I notice that is not a requirement for this writing game.”

“Really, Marge, you saw fishing from those pictures, not romance?”

“It was romantic, or at least Ernest thought it would be, a trip south.”

“Did you go to the beach?”

“Yes, we surf casted. I got snook and redfish. Ernest caught a jeep and gave up. Then he caught a sunburn which brought an end to some of the romance.”

“Maybe you should bring him to this place. Try a little ranch romance.”

“Do you think he’d mind that there’s a pig and a horse in the bar?”

“Probably not. He puts up with your friends, and they’re asses.”

“He doesn’t mind Nard or Nick— because they’re my asses.”

“He is sweet, your Ernest. Don’t let that one go, Marge.”


“Well folks, as you kin see, all are welcome in the Saddle Up an anyone kin try their hand at the story spine slot machine, as many times as they like. Come by ta write, read, or jist socialize.”

“Yep, this prompt is up all month an we’re open 24/7.”

Rules of Play

  1. Use the three pictures that spin to a stop as inspiration or subjects (use in any order).
  2. Write seven sentences following the Story Spine (you don’t have to use the phrases of each step):
    • Once upon a time…
    • Every day…
    • Until…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Because of that…
    • Finally…
  3. Share your story here at the Saloon (post on the story/comment board below).
  4. No links to other places. Play the slots as much as you like (you can write more than one story).
  5. Say howdy to those playing with you! Be friendly and have fun!

If asked, Pal & Kid will deny that they spill from the pen of D. Avery. They claim to be free ranging characters who live and work at Carrot Ranch and built the Saddle Up Saloon. If you or your characters are interested in saddling up to take the stage as a saloon guest, contact them via


  1. One Boot

    Once upon a time there was a new
    leather cowboy boot, Tecova was his name. He was lost without his mate, one boot pair was no pair. Every day he sat on his rack, waiting for boot two to emerge; but because the cobbler had struck his thumb when punching the soft calf leather, work no longer could he. Until on Valentine’s Day, feeling quite remorseful and having been hit by Cupid’s arrow; the cobbler recovered and with a rose he presented the sweet mate to his Tecova work boot. Finally two boots were a pair for the cobbler.

    • Hello! First in with a flash! I wouldn’t have thought to use the boot’s perspective. I am glad there was a happy ending and the lone boot became a part of a pair, as boots are wont to do.
      Thanks for playing! And don’t forget, you can play as much as you like, and can even go over the 99 word limit!

  2. Charli Mills says:

    Clever introduction, D.! I laughed out loud, realizing that a single boot was too tempting for a character like Ilene who has a single foot. Great examples — catching a jeep and a sunburn ruins the romance of fishing.

    When Love Died

    Somewhere in Nevada, a ranch sprawled where a mining camp once thrived. Every day, the wind blew. The neverending squall scattered sand, tumbleweeds, and the occasional Olympia beer can until one day the front door of the dilapidated ranch house flew off in a mighty gust. Cupid, seeking refuge from a busy night in Las Vegas, 300 miles south of this forlorn ranch, entered through the open door. The cherub, no bigger than a sparrow, found an old boot upstairs to sleep off the dirty martinis he’d snitched between casting arrows between unlikely bedfellows. He failed to notice his Ariat castoff boot-mate, a hibernating rattlesnake. Love succumbed to what felt like the bite from a thorny rose.

    • Ha! At first glance I missed the title and thought you were just reminiscing, telling us a story. Then I realized you were telling us a story. Good use of details in this piece, Ms. Mills.
      Yeah, Las Vegas must wear poor Cupid out, and such a rookie mistake, not checking the boot first. Hmm, it seems like you and Gypsie-Ami are not rookies, know a little something about boots, name dropping.
      Makes my day to see you at the slot machine, also from Nevada. I hope its habit forming.

    • suespitulnik says:

      Cupid snitching drinks in Vega…what a hoot. Thanks for the chuckle.

  3. Fabulous, everyone, most informative and entertaining. I think Marge did a terrific job, she really walked the extra mile 😂

    • Thank you Robbie, I will pass this on when I ever catch up with Marge and Ilene.
      Is there an iconic boot in your part of the world?

      • There are veld Selene or veld shoes, which are a type of boot worn in the bush.

      • I remember learning the word “veldt” from a Ray Bradbury short story when I was a kid. I liked that word and have kept it, and always associate it with that author, a favorite at the time. Though “The Veldt” is a bit dark…
        Those boots are as I imagined, they seem quite practical. (I googled them) Feel free in your story to substitute a veldt boot for the western boot pictured!

  4. Liz H says:

    Here’s a little Stream of Consciousness for you all. Pepe-approved, I think:

    How the Wurst Was Won
    It was the baste of times, it was the wurst of times, and Thickpuddle McDrawer was up to his mustache in special orders for his Cain’t Be Beat barbecue special. Because of this, he once again questioned his decision to not add an extra triangle of cornbread, a pat of honey butter shaped like a rose, and some miniwurst sausages to the regular order-for-two special, and then charge a little extra for creativity. People would pay for sure. History’d shown him there was something about barbecue, beans and cornbread that brought out the romantic side of those buckaroos.
    “Helene!” he hollered into the back kitchen. “Get yer ass in gear. We’re gonna do a Valentines special, and I’m gonna need about 200 of those honey roses of yers.”
    “Gonna do the miniwurst, too?” she hollered back. “To…y’know…put some ideas in folks’ heads?”
    “Uh..sure thing.” Thickpuddle shook his head, mumbling to himself about how he never could understand that woman. It had been her idea, now that he thought on it.
    Because of that, the population of their small town grew, with babies being born every fall. Because of that, Thickpuddle had to hire on new workers, which freed up some time for him, which gave Helene a little more elbow room for growing a few other things. And before he knew it, his house was filled with babies of his own: Littlepuddle, and Muddypuddle, and Splash. And in the end, or maybe it was somewhere in the middle, he decided he ought to marry Helene before she took off with that shiny-spurred hotshot from the rodeo.
    And that was just how she’d planned it, all along.

  5. Norah says:

    Move over Kid and Pal, Ilene and Marge have arrived.
    I think they’ll welcome Kid and Pal though. Everyone’s welcome in the Saloon.

  6. Jules says:

    OK… I just did a Flash Fiction haibun based on a Story Spine with (there’s some notes about cupit at my blog post);

    Assured Amor

    Once there was an impish little angel. Because he had to disguise himself to do his job, he ended up in the “Western’s All There Is” store. Because he wanted to both blend in and also be just a tad fancy he picked out a comfortable pair of cowboy boots, a cowboy shirt that had pearly snaps and some fringe (and cool denims too). And topped his golden locks with the perfect Stetson. Because he knew that Shy little Amy and Ole’ reliable Andy were the perfect match and were both going to be at the Valentine shindig this very evening. It was going to be a challenge to get the two wall flowers together. But of course the impish little angel had his own angle. Gregarious and all smiles he handed out roses to everyone. But Cupid finally persuaded Andy to take his last rose to the cute little Amy.

    thornless rose for her
    his true love

    © JP/dh ~ Jules

    • Jules says:

      I guess I shoulda put them facts up with my entry – here they are: Cupid: noun; Also called Amor. the ancient Roman god of love and the son of either Mars or Mercury and Venus, identified with Eros and commonly represented as a winged, naked, infant boy with a bow and arrows. (and…) ORIGIN OF CUPID <Latin Cupīdō Cupid, the personification of cupīdō desire, love, equivalent to cup(ere) to long for, desire + -īdō

    • Maybe Cupid was going undercover as Louis L’Amor. This is a lovely little western tale, Jules. Glad I made it back to the Saloon in time for the Valentine shindig. Thanks for joining in the fun!

  7. suespitulnik says:

    I’m going to break the rules and not use a story spine…here’s my attempt at a song that tells a story. I gave it to my husband for Valentine’s Day.

    Brought to Me
    Those country songs I listen to, they tell me stories that make me think of you.
    They talk about looking for someone in a bar, or for love in all the wrong places.
    I wasn’t looking for you in a bar, because you were brought to me.
    Yeah, we met in a bar, but you were brought to me, just me.
    Our Cupid’s name was Joy and she knew how crazy I could be.
    You weren’t the regular look I’d see, but she knew you had the heart for me.
    Yes, she brought you to me, just me. And that’s how you have accepted me.
    Those country songs I listen to, they tell me stories that make me think of you.
    Those cheating songs that are always around, for you and me they should be singing loyalty songs.
    Those songs about new love are memories. I’d like to sing of growing old still holding hands for all to see and dancing in the rain.
    That song about our kid’s kids in the yard, that’s us these days.
    Because our friend brought you to me, just me.
    The years keep going by and we keep doing things anew.
    You’ve encouraged me to learn, change, and walk as tall as I am.
    We’ve aged and slowed, but thankfully you are still you and I am still me.
    Yes, we met in a bar. I wasn’t looking for you, you were brought to me, just me.
    You weren’t wearing cowboy boots at the time, but Harley boots and dancing shoes at home, had me from Hello.
    We’ve traveled many places, and made new friends through music that talks to you and me.

  8. I spent days wrangling with those three pesky images and then my mind took a left turn.

    He ducked his head under the low lintel as he stepped into the Bow and Boot, a 17th century pub a block off the village green. He blinked his eyes, adjusting to the dim, gloomy interior, before spotting me sitting in the corner.
    I thrummed my fingers on the scarred and stained table as he threaded his way toward me through the knots of workmen celebrating the end of another working day, to stand before me.
    “I know your secret,” I said.
    He gasped, then pulled out a chair, the legs scratching annoyingly against the worn wooden floor, and thumped down on it.
    “You stole Mrs. Thrumbottom’s roses and passed them off as your own at the village flower show, didn’t you?”
    He leaned forward, elbows on the table, chin resting on his clasped hands, then he cocked his head and smirked as he said, “Yes, but I know yours!”

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