Dating a Murphy

Dating a Murphy

“Oh, the pictures in my wallet? Yes, they are a little unusual. I call them my Murphy Stories. This first one… …”

I should have known better. Ever since meeting Tisha, nothing ever went as planned.

But honestly, that was one of the things that made her great. Most of the adventures were enjoyable. And besides, with her last name being Murphy, I joked with her, what else would I expect?

On our first date, I ran out of gas. Yes, I know how cliché that sounds, but it happened.

We had decided to go the National Forest for a hike up to The Knob. The trip there… easy peazy.

The hike. It was awesome. Talking to her was like finding my long-lost best friend.

The views from the overlook. Spectacular!

It drizzled a little on our way back. The rocks in the pathway were getting very slick. Amazingly, we arrived back to the car without one of us falling.

But coming out of the intersection from the overlook parking I had to pass the shuttle bus bringing the last group of sightseers to the top.

As I veered to the left, my Subaru slide off the macadam.

There was a harsh thud. I was sure that I had dislocated the muffler of the car.

Continuing down the road, there was not a huge roar following me, so I figured I had just hit the frame of the car on the corner of the macadam.

Not so.

Less than an hour later, as the sun was setting on the horizon, so was my car setting by the side of the road. The gas gauge read EMPTY. I had, apparently, knocked a hole in the tank.

We chuckled about the meaning of it all, and awaited AAA to rescue us.

Within thirty minutes, they had towed the car, and us, to the local garage.

We waited at the Exxon/Subway next to the garage for AAA to deliver a replacement car.

Seeking sustenance, we split a cheesesteak and chips. Laughing at the bad luck of the night, I jokingly said,” Well, I think our luck is going to change.”

I slipped out of the bench setting and walked to the counter. “Two JungleCrush tickets, please.”

I handed Trisha one of the tickets as I slide back in the sat.

Quickly scratching the surface, I found mine was a dud.

Trish just sat there.

She was white.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Didn’t the sandwich agree with you?”

“Nothing’s wrong. I think tonight’s date is on me,” she said.

Handing me her ticket…. She had won $15,000.

“You meant the one with the hot air balloon. That was from the day I asked Trisha to marry me.”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #9 Today’s prompt is to write about a surprise gone wrong.

Don’t Call Me He-Man 

Photograph from Pinterest

Don’t Call Me He-Man 

Letters to the Editor

In response to the son of the Hot Dog Eating Champion…

Family dynamics can be excruciatingly painful.

Consider yourself lucky. Nathan’s Hot Dog World Championship happens only once a year. It’s a one-and-done.

I was blessed with seeing my father oiled up in a man’s thong, and nothing else, on national television every three months (like clockwork) for the chance at competing for the Mr. America Bodybuilding Championship.

Sure, parts of that life had its perks.

I got to travel. By the time I was ten, I had visited every state in the Union except Alaska.

But for every sunny moment (I was pulled from school often on Thursday afternoons), there was turbulent storm clouds (When I returned to school, with all my made-up assignments, each and every one of my loving teachers would ask me to share my adventure).

The girls were gushing over my dad. If there were any girls at the start of the year who did not visit my dad for their twice-a-year visits for teeth-cleaning, they were his adoring patient by the end of the year. The girls… I could handle.

It was all the jokes after class that my not-so-loving comrades-in-arms would ask me AFTER the structured share-time was over.

Making matters worse… I was not really a body-building specimen. I was tall for my age. That helped.

I weighed 52 pounds… wet. That didn’t help.

I had a great dad, I loved him dearly… when he WAS NOT in competition. Or the topic of share-time at school. Or the main issue of conversation in the locker room.

I think he truly understood my grievances.

But then he did the unthinkable.

For my 10th birthday, my parents went all out for a sports- themed party. I enjoyed sports. The friendships were great. I sat the bench most of the time. I was OK with that.

I invited my two best friends (from Robotics’ Camp) and my current sport’s team (baseball) to the house. We had a blast.

My folks had rented a huge Bouncy House and a blow-up slide that was twenty feet tall. The slide came with its own safety guards- twins that looked like young versions of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

I was rocking!!!

But as previously stated… Exquisite sunshine is often followed by torrential downpours.

It was time for the cake and presents.

My presents were awesome. A leather basketball from my uncles. FUBU sporting clothes from my aunts. A signed baseball- Chipper Jones- from my baseball team. How great was that!!!

But then, my dad’s present. Ever the dentist… he remembered a television commercial we had watched over the previous Christmas.

I received a He-Man Talking Toothbrush.

Dad thought I would be flipping-out over it. He was so proud of himself. (Well, I was flipping out… on the inside. But not really the way that Dad had hoped.)

From that day, August 15, 1981, I had a new nickname.

It became the go-to story that the parents would tell over family meals when the reminiscing started. Needless to say, it followed me throughout high school.

I loved my dad… still do.

But now that I’m in college … I never invite new friends over for dinner.

Written for Tuesday’s Writing Group (Write a story using the following ideas: Character- body builder, dentist. Other – letter to the editor, everyday ritual is interrupted. The main character has to change during the story. You cannot kill the main character.)

Videos of interest.


A One Sentence Story

New Method Wellness

A One Sentence Story

“And just last night I was in a tizzy, according to my wife, about an unexplained parking lot ding on the passenger door.”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #8 Today’s prompt is to write a one-sentence story.

Civics 101

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Civics 101

“Where did these come from?”

“What do you mean?”

“Where did these two twenties come from?”

“It’s illegal to search through my wallet without a warrant?”

“I’m your mother. I don’t need a warrant. Again, where did these come from?”

“I plead the Fifth.”

“I know the words that are going to eventually come out of your mouth will incriminate you. I am glad you were listening in Civics Class, but the Fifth doesn’t work on your mother. This house is not a democracy.”

“I still have constitutional rights.”

“You sure do. Right now you have the right to breath, collect your thoughts, and tell me thr truth. Where did these to twenties come from?

“Would you believe I found them?”

“If you want me to believe something, you probably shouldn’t start your sentence with ‘Would you believe…?’ Guess they didn’t mention that in Civics 101.”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #7 Today’s prompt is to write about a discovery.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner: Week #5.

Cutting Corners

PHOTO PROMPT © Trish Nankivell

Cutting Corners

“A lock on the paper dispenser? Are you kidding me?”

“I’m tired of you replacing the roll with the cheap stuff.”

“Do you know how much money I can save… We save… each week because I find ways to cut corners?”

“I love you. You know that. But we both have good paying jobs, we can afford the good stuff.”

“It’s for crap, you know.”

“There’s more to it than that.”

“It’s for crap, and then … Swish… and it’s gone.”

“Why don’t you cut some corners on that fancy moisturizer you use every night?”

“So, you’re going to go there? You want me to be thirty with more ridges in my face than the garden in the back.”

“You’re already more than thirty. Besides I didn’t marry you because I thought you were a beauty.”

“What does that mean?”

“That didn’t come out right.”


“You’re beautiful. I’ve always thought you were the most beautiful woman in the world.”

“Keep talking.”

“I don’t care what you spend on that special moisturizer of yours. I just want MY toilet paper.”

“So why that paper?”

“You already know. I don’t like how it’s tough enough to cut corners.”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #5 Today’s prompt is to write about a couple.

Written for Friday Fictioneers: February 5, 2021.

A New YouTube Sensation

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A New YouTube Sensation

“Are you sure this is the way they did it on YouTube?”

“Sure I’m sure. I watched it umpteen times. You saw it, too.”

“But they did it off the roof of a house and then a second floor balcony.”

“That’s child’s play. We want to break the record, don’t we?”

“We could break the record by standing on the railing of the balcony and jumping onto the trampoline. Why the rock-climbing?”

“Why the rock climbing? Extreme sports is all the rage.  We’ll instant celebrities!”

“But a balcony is only about fifteen feet from the trampoline. And the smart jumpers place mattresses around the tramp because you don’t unusually fall on the trampoline after the first bounce.”

“Are you scared?”

“Of course I am! Aren’t you?”

“I’ve done this in my head a thousand times. Nothing can go wrong. I’ve got this.”

“If you are the one that wants to be a celebrity, why am I climbing up this rock face with you?”

“Moral support.”

“OK. Moral support I can handle. I’ll film you jumping, and afterwards I’ll walk down and help you post the film footage.”

“You don’t have to film anything. I brought the tripod. We can zero in the best shots for the film with the practice run.”

“That sounds good.”

“The practice run is always shot first. Then the star does the real stunt.”

“What do you mean, ‘The star does the second jump? Who’s jumping first?’”

“What do you think you’re here for?”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #6 Today’s prompt is to write something in the absurdist style.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner: Week #6.

We Were Meant to Be

We Were Meant to Be

“So, what’s shaken?”

“Cute. I’ve never heard that line before.”

“So you’re a spicy one.”

“Another line I’ve never heard before.”

“Whoa. I’m just trying to be friendly. You don’t have to have such an attitude.”

“I prefer my own kind, if you don’t mind.”

“What’re you talking about? Don’t you know we’re a pair?”

“The Man put us together. I refuse to accept the constraints society deems necessary for me to adhere to.”

“So, spicy and a rebel. I think I’m in love.”

“I heard that before, too.”

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #4 Today’s prompt is to write from the perspective of a kitchen item.

Ramon Sees Red

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Ramon Sees Red

Ramon, third-generation matador want-to-be, carefully donned the waistcoat of his great-grandfather’s traje de luces. Clutching the muleta under his left armpit and a single banderillo in his right hand, he ran out the door in pursuit of his prey.

The neighbor boy had called and reported seeing Diablo, the Disperser, running like a banshee in the backyard again.

The Disperser had won the last battle.

It had cost Ramon two days of school (not that he had minded that), and three evenings of soccer practice (that he did mind) and three consecutive nightly hour-long soaks in a tomato juice bath.

Between the evils of a bath, and the forced absence of soccer practice, Ramon was not in a forgiving mood.

His mother had been horrified when Ramon entered the house after the first battle with Diablo.

He knew he stunk.

But the way she ran away from him… screaming never-before-spoken words…

For that, he would never forgive The Disperser.

His father had laughed.

In fact, every time his dad had replenished the bathwater on the back porch with another gallon of heated tomato juice, he had had a renewed fit-of-laughter.

After the third evening of baths (at least now he was allowed in the house facilities), his father had sat him down and they had the talk.

Not, thank the heavens, the one about birds-and-the-bees. But the one about when life hands you lemons, make lemonade?

He wasn’t real sure what lemonade had to do with bathing in tomato juice, but his dad had been very serious in the tone of his voice and the seriousness of his message.

Ramon tried to grasp the jest of the lesson.

Find the hidden truth.

Make right the wrong.

Slay the dragon.

Maybe the ‘Slay the dragon’ was just the inner- Ramon wanting out of the tomato-bath to rise and a fight again.

The Inner-Ramon straightened his spine.

There were unforgiveable wrongs to right!


Traje de luces: The traje de luces[1] (‘suit of lights’) is the traditional clothing that Spanish bullfighters. (Wikipedia)

Muleta: A muleta is a stick with a red cloth hanging from it that is used in the final third (tercio de muleta or de muerte) of a bullfight. It is different from the cape used by the matador earlier in the fight (capote de brega). (Wikipedia)

Banderillo: Banderilla most often refers to the colorfully decorated and barbed sticks used in bullfighting. (Wikipedia)

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #3 Today’s prompt is to write something that incorporates the color red.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner: Week #3. 

Morning Rituals


Morning Rituals

Leering… Sneering… Smirking…

She awaited me at the corner on the right side of the vanity.

I could sense her contempt.

It had been seven days since our last rendezvous. I had sensed an untoward seething developing in our relationship, so I had purposefully instituted an armistice.

I stretched my right foot forward to scoot her closer to the center of the bathroom floor.

Right away, her animosity was registered. “Error…Error…Error.” The word flashed three times.

I had anticipated her malicious reaction. Our morning rapport was never friendly.

Each morning we shared this daily cavort. Her bursting with anticipation to boldly proclaim her authoritative calculations. My reluctant anticipation of truth. Taking a week from her vindictiveness had been a cherished reprieve.

Today was a new day.

A new dawn was awaiting.

Sweet morning…Here I come!

Spring had sprung, and so had I. Walking two miles every morning and two miles every evening had put a spring back in my step. (Please, pardon the incredulous pun.)

Grapefruit and granola bar had become my colleagues at breakfasts. My dinner plates had become far more sociable with vegetables than bacon-cheese burgers. I had even purchased stock in Niagara Falls…Ten glasses of water a day.

Today was my day of reckoning.

I firmly set my foot forward.

Ready to go where no man had gone before… at least he had not gone there for a week.

My left foot joined my right.

Today was my Normandy.

Written for Sunday Afternoon Writes. Prompt: Write about a machine you have either loved or hated.

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction February Challenges: Challenge #2 Today’s prompt is to write something usual doing something unusual.

Pay Day

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Pay Day

Giving me the thumbs up said all that needed to be said.

We had rehearsed and rehearsed until I could complete this mission in my sleep. Sure, it was my first true mission, but I had been involved in the desk-top planning for hundreds of others. Ok. Maybe not hundreds.

Bart and Marty stayed hidden near the stern of the ship.

I meandered, shrouded by the keel, starboard toward the bow.

At exactly 0400 we were to converge topside.

Giving the looters an entire hour to scavenger the remains had been the plan. It was a good one.

They did all the work.

We would reap all the rewards.

I pulled my knife from my ankle sheath on my left leg.

This clock was ticking.

I was to be the distraction. The marauders would turn to see me… Bart and Marty would finish them.

So, you ask… “Why did I have my diving knife out?”

Diving knives make quick work on the tubes of an air tank regulator.

A one-way spilt is far bigger than a three-way.

My fortune awaits.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner: Week #04. 

Written for Writer’s Digest Flash Fiction Challenge #1: Today’s prompt is to write a story with no dialogue.