3-Word Challenge

3-Word Challenge: Paradise by the Dash Bored Light

Explanatory Note: From time to time (and it’s been years since I’ve done such), I run a “writing challenge” wherein participants are given a unique set of three words around which they should compose a story or poem or photo series, whatever moves them. Once the contributions have been received and perused, I then hold a virtual (translation: not real) and multi-night cultural celebration at Bonnywood Manor wherein the contributors are celebrated for their creativity. The proceedings are co-hosted by yours truly and a surprise, actual celebrity. (Again, not real.)

Confused much? That’s okay, just jump in and go with it. Enjoy.

Dear Guests, Patrons and People Who Would Much Rather Be Anywhere Else but They’ve Already Paid for Their Tickets and They Might as Well Get Some Free Shrimp Dip Out of It,

  “Thank you for joining us on yet another night of Bonnywood’s Annual Cultural Arts Festival and Bacchanalia. I’d like to thank all of you who have managed to attend every day of the festivities, as it means so much to the artists-in-residence at our writing colony. It also means a lot to our funding committee, as the alcohol sales alone should keep us in the black for at least another year.”

Somewhere off to the side of the stage, one of the committee members let out a loud whoop, swilling sangria and greatly relieved that the pressure to maintain creativity with the accounting ledgers had been greatly reduced.

Somewhere to the back of the stage, a door slammed and someone began clattering his or her way to the podium.

The audience leaned forward. Was it Cher? Was she finally going to make an appearance after blowing off Bonnywood-Palooza earlier in the week?

It was not Cher.

It was Meatloaf.

The audience leaned back. Well, at least he could sing. That softened the blow a little bit.

Meatloaf, grabbing the microphone out of my hand and swatting me aside like a gum wrapper: “Hey, everybody! So good to be here. Thank you for inviting me!”

Me, flat on my back, glaring up at Meatloaf Lucy holding the microphone football out of my reach: “No we didn’t. What are you doing here?”

Meatloaf, still facing the audience and ignoring my sorry sprawled-out ass: “Oh, that Brian. He’s always been such a jokester. We go way back.”

Me: “No we don’t. Well, we sort of do, in a spiritual way, because I’ve been singing your songs on my back patio for decades, especially after somebody breaks the seal on a tequila bottle. My sister and I can do mean duet of-”

Meatloaf: “Back to me. Any requests from the audience?”

Me: “Could you help me off the floor?”

Meatloaf: “Oh. I thought you were doing performance art about your blog stats, flat-lining and all. Here ya go.”

He hoisted me up with a startling strength that would have been erotic, given other circumstances. “Thank you. Now, as splendid as this has been, you really need to go. The audience is patiently waiting for me to announce the next presentation in the 3-Word Challenge.”

Meatloaf: “I can sing the announcement. I just need a second to coordinate with my backup singers so the harmonies will be just right.”

Me: “Did you really bring an entourage to Bonnywood? Even Chaz Bono didn’t do that.”

Meatloaf pointed.

I turned to see Kim Carnes, Juice Newton, Sheena Easton and two of the three members of Wilson Phillips, standing behind a startling array of microphone stands. Sheena waved coyly, the others just stared blankly.

Meatloaf, whispering: “They needed the money. I couldn’t say no.”

Me: “Well, I can. This is a writing competition, not Burning Man. You and the Fly Girls need to exit stage left.”

Meatloaf: “What if we do a duet?”

Me, hesitating: “I’m not really sure that would work. I haven’t had any tequila.”

Meatloaf: “I want you, I need you…”

Me, weakening: “But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you…”

Meatloaf: “Now don’t be sad…”

Backup Singers: “Don’t be sad…”

Meatloaf: “Cause two out of three Wilson Phillips ain’t bad…”

I lost control at that point, tossing aside my next cue card, which fluttered to floor…

Artiste: Lynette at “In the Net – Pictures and Stories of Life”

Three Words: elusive, bawdy, trampoline

Medium: Short Story

And here we go…

Tummy Trouble

This post is in response to Brian Lageose’s Three Word Challenge. The idea is to write a story based on three words that Brian has assigned. Mine are: elusive, bawdy and trampoline. For whatever it’s worth, here’s the result (and yup, I’m still thinking about the personal implications of that word assignment …   ) And do be sure to visit Brian’s site – https://brianlageose.blog. You will be happy you did. 

Jack kept squirming in his seat. For some reason, he was uncomfortable. He vaguely felt as if he might throw up, which was really odd, because his girlfriend had just made his favourite pasta for supper, carbonara. He loved carbonara and always enjoyed it.

He considered the situation.

Suddenly his stomach gurgled and then he really did feel close to yakking, but somehow he also didn’t feel ill sick. It was more like … like … what was it? Guilt sick?

Why would I feel guilty, he asked himself.

Jack examined the last few days for any signs of a moral hangover but couldn’t think of anything.

“Is everything okay?” his girlfriend asked. She sounded a bit alarmed. “Have I done something to upset you?”

He stopped the ferocious gnawing he was administering to his fingernail and regarded her. He realised that he had been chewing and vacantly staring. “Oh no. Everything’s fine. I just am suddenly not feeling very well. My stomach is bothering me. That’s all.”

It occurred to him that he wanted to keep this one. She was always so pliant and concerned about pleasing him.

“Okay. Is there anything I can do for you? Get you an antacid? Carbonara is pretty rich.”

“Not really. I think I just have to ride this out. Sometimes my stomach bothers me and I don’t really know why.”

Suddenly, Jack leaped up and sprang for the bathroom, slamming and locking the door behind him. He just made it to the toilet before bringing up the morning’s toast and everything else but his shoelaces. He heaved until he was empty and then draped himself over the edge of the toilet. He was exhausted and sweating.

Finally, he leaned back against the bathtub and hoped that he was finished.

Ten seconds later, a wave of nausea wracked him again, and he scrambled desperately for the toilet.

If he could just remember why he felt so guilty, he could stop feeling so sick. He thought he had a piece of it, but it slithered elusively into his mind’s attic.

If only this heaving would stop, I’d be able to think clearly and then … and then I would have the answer and then I wouldn’t be sick, he thought.

Thoughts bounced around in his head like they were springing from a trampoline.

What did I do?

What was it???

A dress. A green dress.

Emerald green. Yes. That’s it.

But what about it? Why did I think of it?

You know why, said the mouse.

It peeked at him from around the edge of the toilet bowl brush, its delicate white whiskers trembling knowingly, its wise gaze unflinching and unruffled.

Did that mouse just talk to me, Jack asked the room.

Yes, said the mouse, I did. Don’t you remember me? We talked a lot about that green dress. Or more specifically, about that bawdy relic who was inhabiting it. She was way too old for you. And way too forward. And besides, finding women in bars was never really your thing. Don’t you remember?

Ohhh yeah, Jack said. Yeah. I remember now.

Just then his girlfriend rapped on the bathroom door.

“Are you all right in there? Is there anything I can do?”

She rattled the door handle.

Jesus Christ, thought Jack. Can’t she leave me in peace when I’m sick in the bathroom? Just leave me the fuck alone, he raged silently.

“Jack?? Are you okay? Are you able to answer me?”

He heard her fiddling with the handle, trying to get the door open.

Fuck this, Jack thought as he started furiously ripping up floorboards.

He forgot about the mouse.

He forgot about the green dress.

He forgot about everything.

As the floorboards came up faster and faster, a heavy, clear plastic glinted at the edge of the light.

It covered something green.


Jack awoke to the sound of a sports recap show. He was stretched out in his recliner but felt uncomfortable and cold and his neck hurt. He was ravenously hungry.

He rummaged in the fridge and found some leftover pasta from dinner.

He vaguely remembered having had a fight with the maker of the dinner and he somehow thought she had left, but just then he was too hungry to think about it.

He finished his plate and began to shuffle off to bed, the notion that he was forgetting something twitching at the edge of his memory.

He felt so tired!

But tomorrow is another day, he thought. I’ll think about it then.

This piece has been nominated in the following categories:

The Edgar Allen Poe Award for Creepy Use of Things under the Floor.

The Lewis Carroll Award for Making Us Uncomfortable around Animals That Can Talk.

The Margaret Mitchell Award for Clever “Gone with the Wind” References That May or May Not Have Been Intended.

Gratitude Award from the founder of Bonnywood Manor.

You can review more of Lynette’s portfolio by clicking here.

Shortly thereafter, backstage…

Me: “Where did we go wrong?”

Kim Carnes: “For me, interestingly enough, it was that duet with Kenny Rogers. It was a smash hit, but certain people were offended that I had a better rasp than he did, and they eventually turned on me.”

Juice Newton: “If I had to put my finger on it, I would say it was my name. Because it sounds like something you would to do Wayne Newton at an after-hours bar in Las Vegas.”

Sheena Easton: “It was when I took that stupid morning train. It was fun in the beginning, but I got tired of going there.”

Wilson Phillips: “What was the question again?”

Previously published, altered minimally. This re-post was inspired by a recent multi-night conversation with the lovely Angie at King Ben’s Grandma. Anyone who might be interested in participating in a revival of the 3-Word Challenge (and the subsequent Cultural Arts Festival That Doesn’t Really Happen) should send me an email at BonnywoodManor@gmail.com . (Fair warning: If you DO send an email to that account, please give me a holler in the comments, as I am alarmingly neglectful when it comes to checking said inbox.)


42 replies »

  1. It is “elusive, bawdy and trampoline”. LOL and it deserves all the awards it receives. Probably Stephen King award can be added to the pile since in his “1932”, a mouse and a floor board and a house of creepy horror are also involved.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The three words that I pick out for each participant are usually as wildly-different as they can get, which makes things much more interesting. Good catch with the Stephen King reference. I haven’t actually read his short story, but the movie was quite good…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I obviously missed a HUGE memo somewhere. You know I would have entered, with much ado and gusto…. and wait a ‘mo (moment, not the less popular meaning of “Mo” in certain cultures)…having read the cleverly placed instructions (at the end of the post, my my. You sneaky little devil you!)…two things occur. I’ll be sending off a missive to BonnyManor@gmail.com toot suite. I suspect I know what the three words will be, but hope springs eternal and it is sunny outside for a change. Not warm mind you, but at least the sun is peeping through. Secondly, there IS a ‘Three Word Challenge” that wafts about WordPress Blogville “The Cool Kids” Subdivision where we all hang out ALREADY. It is hosted by the awesome Di ( https://pensitivity101.wordpress.com/ ) daily. She doesn’t give awards nor do rather faded stars appear on the stage to sing us to our ‘rest’ though. Just in case you were uninformed (and yeah, I took a big liberty in even saying that!)

    Those backup singers were definitely NOT from hell, some of us remember them all (including Meatloaf) with fond memories that might be tinged with just a touch of overindulgence in tequila and mind-altering substances. Well, the rest of y’all might. Me? I’m from Utah (as I say far too often) and nobody here admits to sullying their remembrances with alcohol or *gasp* DRUG use! Ha! Now watch your email, sir, as there’s a dinger in there from me!

    Liked by 3 people

    • It seems I stirred up a bit of confusion with this re-share. It’s an older entry from one of the previous runs of the challenge, not a fresh submission, but the chorus remains the same, which is an invite to obtain a 3-word allocation, should you desire. I will check for your email shortly. (Translation: Give me a quick kick in the ass if I don’t respond to said email within a decent interval, because my focus is just not what it used to be.)

      Wait, I just now absorbed all of your comment. Someone else is doing a 3-word challenge? Hmm. I wonder who started this trend first. There might be a need for litigation. (Totally kidding. I don’t care who does what, as long as people keep writing.)

      And I do have a fondness for all of the faded backup singers. After all, any one of them could have been me, if I had only pursued one of my many dreams to be an entertainer and not the corporate slug I eventually became… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • See, I looked at the date on your post and I wondered. But if there’s a challenge in the offing (especially one of yours) I don’t take chances that I’m wrong. Even though in this case I was. Well, the brain doesn’t always interpret what is right in front of it, not accurately at least. I appear to be losing that ability and am again reminded of what a teacher and my parents and a whole raft of people have said over my life – “Slow the %$#@! down and take your time. There’s no fire and reading half the content can be worse than not reading it at all”. I never could follow directions very well though. O_o Even ‘slugs’ have to eat, and like you, when that important life juncture happened, we chose the fork that promised actual money and security, even while the other fork called a siren song to us to come and follow it. I look back, but these days I’m less likely to lament. Thanks, Brian for bringing me back to the POINT. 😉

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Thank you very much, Brian. 🙂 I am honoured. 🙂

    I am especially appreciative of the Lewis Carroll nomination. One should never be comfortable around animals that can talk, even if they’re wearing glasses and sound like they were educated at Oxford, because you can’t trust any of them, no matter if you follow them down rabbit holes or not. But, in case you do, splash your face with cold water and slap your cheeks a few times. Organise yourself a strong whisky and drink it down. Then Google Dr Oz to see about getting on his show, because you are going to be a big hit! The biggest of big! You will be loved and adored and admired by many, including Gwyneth Paltrow. Because he never lets a little surrealism get in the way of expanding on a healing experience. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • The honor is all mine, Lynette. I greatly relished your story when you first submitted it all those years ago, and your tale stands the test of time rather admirably. I couldn’t help but share it again.

      Now, when it comes to your advisements of where to go from here, I completely understand the whiskey angle. I think I’ve got that covered. But the Dr. Oz bit, wherein Gwyneth may or may not be involved. Didn’t Gwyneth (or at least the merchandising arm of her world-domination, a subsidiary known as “Goop”) release a candle that purports to smell like Gwynnie’s yanni? That gives me pause. Because I never want anything like that in my house.

      Your thoughts? 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you very much, Brian. ❤️The fact that you have published it again is quite the honour for me.

        I was trying to make the connection that anyone who “talks” with animals is a good candidate for charlatans (in my opinion) like Oz and Paltrow (or is one themselves). Sorry I didn’t do a better job of making clear my thinking. So nope, no yannie candles here either. I’m not sure that I know of a word to adequately describe my negative emotions about that. But, there IS one born every minute, so they will have their audience and make their money.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m still in therapy after the last three-word challenge, so I’ll pass this time. Fortunately, Lynette’s tale will stay with us well after the leftover pasta is gone and the talking mice have left the building, so one less participant won’t be noticed. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Unlike Jack, I’ve never forgotten things that happen in altered states. I have *feigned* memory loss… and bad mistakes, I’ve made a few…

    Hanging out at Bonnywood has definitely NOT been a mistake. The company is always so interesting and the Maître is a treasure.😍

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aww, you’re so kind. As for memory retention, I fall somewhere between you and Jack on the spectrum. I generally remember everything, regardless of mind-altered status (sometimes to a degree of detail that annoys everyone else who was there and doesn’t remember squat). But there are a few hazy days here and there where I have been forced to deny everything, despite a small inner voice advising that I might be lying… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s okay, darlin’. I’m Southern, too. Sometimes we need folks to draw the picture a little better ‘fore we get around to makin’ any decisions. Mmm hmm. You can send me one of them emails, or I can just drop the words right here. You do what’s best for you and it’ll be alright.

      Hold on. I’m makin’ this too dang complicated. I’ll just give you them three now and call it done: Catfish, Pickup, and Over-heated.

      I know you can do somethin’ with that, sure do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sometimes, I get distracted while I’m reading. (Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
        I’ll see what I can come up with. You know imagination escapes me. Why…I get the vapors just thinking about it.
        And I just send it to you? I think I can figure out that email thing. LOLOL. I’ll have to send a code word in the “subject” part so you’ll know it’s me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • First, yes, you can just send me the story. (Of, if you like it enough, you can post it on your own blog and I can snag it from there.)

          Second, THANK YOU, for asking about the email thingy. It made me wonder why I haven’t received any emails about the challenge, despite several folks mentioning that they were sending something. So I scrolled up on this post and realized I had mistyped the email address.

          Geez. Sometimes I smack into the Wall of My Personal Failures really hard.


          Anyway, the proper email address is BonnywoodManor@gmail.com.

          And now I’m off to scribble a NEW post wherein I must apologize for my inadequacy in THIS post. It never ends…

          Liked by 1 person

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