Welcome to March Story Chat
This month we have a special guest who has done more to publicize Story Chat and attract and support “real authors,” if I may quote him, than I have.
I am super honored to introduce A. Kid and his friends Pal and Curley to my friends in the Always Write Community. His handler, D. Avery, was a little nervous about letting him loose, but here he is. Please welcome, A. Kid from the Carrot Ranch Saddle-Up Saloon.
*The followin’ is a fictionalized account of a fictional tale writ by a fictional character on a local worldwide virtual ranch.*
by A. Kid
“Kid, come quick. Shorty’s called a meetin’ a some sort over ta the cookhouse.”
“Meat’n what, Pal? Eggs? Better not be eggs an’ bacon. Ya know I ain’t never eatin’ bacon agin now that I have my pet puglet Curly.”
“This here’s a meetin’ a the minds, ain’t ‘bout breakfist er fillin’ yer pie-hole. Now git goin’.”
I got goin’ ‘cause Shorty’s the boss, though truth is she ain’t very bossy at all. Somethin’ was up. With my pink puglet taggin’ at my heels I followed my pal Pal ta the cookhouse.
We went in an’ set down at the plank table where Shorty was, an’ settin’ next ta her was Ernie, formerly Ornery Ernie, but he’s mellowed consider’bly lately. My frien’ Pepe LeGume an’ even his wife Loggatha was there an’ a course Aussie an’ Doc Ranger was there too, along with Tip and Top. T’day the Lemmon brothers’d left the sparkle an’ stilettos in the bunkhouse, was dressed fer ranch work.
An’ jist then Frankie burst through the door. Actchally she walked inta it, then come through it, her head turned so she could see the opening better with her one good eye. I could see her faithful hoss, Burt, drinkin’ from the water trough. But when I noticed that she’d stood up ta talk, I give Shorty my full attenshun.
“It’s good ta see so many a y’all here an’ a good thing this is all fiction,” Shorty began. “’Cause Carrot Ranch is a safe space fer real folks, but the fictional fact a this story is— Wanda’s been kidnapped.”
At that proclamation Ernie howled like a sad ol’ coyote. Ain’t gonna lie ta ya. First thought was Wanda’d done wandered away agin, ‘count a her nut-orious Wanda-lust. But some folks figgered Wanda an’ Ernie was back permanent since he give up drink an’ was workin’ on his inner calm.
“Whut makes ya think it were a kidnappin’?” Pal asked.
“She’s been gone a while, an’ nowhere’s ta go,” says Ernie. “An’ if it were her Wanda-lust she’d a left a note; she always leaves a note.”
“Really? What’s her notes say?”
“Say, ‘I’m wand’rin’ off ta pick up a nuther man.’ She kin do thet too, she’s mighty strong. Kin haul full kegs a corn liquor ‘thout no hep.”
Then ol’ Ernie howled agin, broke down ta blubberin’ what with his fond ‘membrances a his b’loved Wanda.
“All right, git yersef t’gether Ernie. I’m gonna depatize all a you characters so’s ya kin git out there an’ solve this mystery.”
When Shorty said that the cookhouse erupted in questions. Was Shorty a sheriff? Would we git badges? An’ was it okay ta say posse? The Poet Lariat ‘lowed as how if there’s been a crime it’d git solved in time. Aussie an’ Doc Ranger got inta it over the finer points a genre an’ tropes an sech, couldn’t jist leave it at “mystery”.
Finally Shorty got us all reined in. “Ernie,” she said, “Ya gotta give ever’one a description a Wanda.”
“Well, her hair’s like corn silk.”
“Jeez, Ernie. Kin ya be more ‘zact? Green corn or dry corn?”
“Fall corn, when the silk is still a bit soft but’s turned brown, too turned ta eat fresh, but still too green ta smoke.”
All the fictional ranch hands nodded their heads. They could see an’ even feel hair like that.
Ernie continued. “She wears a pale green dress, with hints a yeller. She’s purty husky but with stalky legs.”
“D’ya mean ‘stocky’?”
“Nope, stalky, thin as rails.”
Well, I’ve seen Wanda, so I kin tell ya there wuz more’n a kernel a truth ta Ernie’s discription.
Jist as we wuz all d’putized an’ ready ta head out we heard a c’motion outside, an’ more howlin’ an’ bayin’ but it weren’t Ernie. Slim Chance had arrived with some a his best hounds. I wuz gonna give ‘im what fer, tell Slim he could slither on back ta the Slim Chance Ranch, we didn’t need his hep, but you know Shorty. She said all were welcome at Carrot Ranch an’ thanked ‘im fer his willin’ness ta hep. An’ I r’flected that mebbe I was still feelin’ a fool fer takin’ a pig ‘stead a a puppy from Slim, thinkin’ it were a puglet. Well, I love that little puglet, an’ mebbe Curly could save the day an’ show up Slim’s prize houn’s.
I rousted Curly who was asleep at my feet. I was gittin’ a gut feelin’, not like what Pepe gits, more of a inner promptin’ an’ one thing I picked up on at Carrot Ranch is ta go where the prompt leads.
The others rode out, all over the ranch. Pal went ta the saloon, said he wanted ta make sure Wanda wasn’t holed up there. The Poet Lariat went ta the poets’ tree. Shorty went off ta make sure Nanjo Castille an’ Monreal Dorb weren’t behin’ these strange an’ sketchy events. Slim, in what ta me seemed a bit of a cliché, headed fer the hills behin’ his bayin’ houn’s.
When the dust settled it was jist me an’ Curly, both lookin’ thoughtful, though truth is, she was thinkin’ ‘bout breakfist. I weren’t gonna take the time an’ as I started ta tell my little pig this news, my little pig started off, hoofin’ it back ta the barn. I followed, goin’ where the pig led. Curly, her little curly tail a’waggin’, went this way an’ that, sniffin’ an’ gruntin’. Fin’ly she stopped front a the hay wagon, jist kep waggin’ that curly tail a hers. Waggin’ an’ waggin’ in front a the wagon.
Then she squealed.
But wait! It weren’t Curly! Yep, it was Wanda. Her head popped up outta the loose hay on the wagon, an’ her eyes popped like corn when she saw us. Then Curly did squeal, ‘cause truth is, Wanda smells like corn, which is why Curly tracked her down.
They say two heads is better then one an’ sure ‘nough a secon’ head come up outta the hay, but I didn’t rec’nize the wispy fella. A stranger! Then I ‘membered a spooky story, a skeery thing happened ta Pal. This was that character Pal’d come across, the one’d never been brought ta life; was unwrit, hauntin’ the ranch. Kin ya ‘magine, a poor un’magined character jist waitin’ fer a story?
Well I musta said that last sen’ence out loud, ‘cause Wanda answered.
“Oh, I ‘magined somethin’ fer ‘im ta do. Don’t know ‘bout a story, but I kin tell ya, I give ‘im somethin’ ta talk about.” But fer the moment the stranger was tongue tied, huddled there ‘neath the hay.
Curly an’ I give ‘em their privacy an’ got ourselves some breakfist. Wanda made her way home ta Ernie’s shack, told him some tale ‘bout gittin’ lost on her way ta her granma’s. I think it were all too much fer that stranger, ‘cause he ain’t been seen since.
I guess it’s a happy endin’. As Curly says, better a tale a debauchery than da butchery.
A. Kid is a free ranging fictional character who lives and works at Carrot Ranch. Since March 2020 Kid also manages, along with fictional ranch hand Pal N. O’Roun, the Saddle Up Saloon, the virtual watering hole and gathering place found just over the line. Their adventures are archived in the Ranch Yarn pages at ShiftnShake, the blog maintained by their writer, D. Avery.
What in the World Is Story Chat?
Story Chat is to short stories as Book Club is to New York Best Sellers. We come together over a cup of hot chocolate or an adult beverage, sit around the coffee table and discus the story with the author. We ask questions and challenge each other’s thinking, play with the story and enjoy each other’s company.
Two weeks later or so, the edited transcript of the chat comes out with links to some of your latest blog posts. (my favs – as the privileged hostess).
Now it’s your turn.
to the fun of Story Chat.