Tag Archives: Trifecta Weekly Challenge

Premeditated (for Trifecta)

With their obsession of all things three, the Trifecta overlords pulled out all the stops for their 33rd writing challenge, creating a triathlon of sorts for nerds like me. There are three parts to the challenge and the top three winners of each go on to compete in some kind of Super Bowl … or Olympics … or … oh, whatever. You guys know I don’t know about this stuff.

Plus I only managed to participate in one of the three legs:

Write a 33-333 word response using the 3rd definition of the following word:

score (noun)

Sorry, Trifecta. I wish your three-a-palooza didn’t fall during the summer when time is in such short supply. I always love playing and am glad that, with this entry, I at least have a chance of securing one of the nine spots that advance to the swimsuit … the interview … Round Two.

If I win, there’ll be three-bean salad and Three Musketeer bars for everyone!

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He waited, crouched behind a dumpster in the alley. The only light came from a street lamp that illuminated the backdoor to the building. Even the moon seemed to be cooperating as it hid behind a mass of clouds directly above him. He dared not make a move for fear of revealing himself.  One inch here or there could cast a shadow. His stomach growled and he cursed himself for skipping dinner. He considered the granola bar in his pocket but dismissed it, realizing the crinkling plastic would be too great a risk. And he needed to stay focused.

The alley was only 33 feet long. He’d have to act quickly to execute his plan completely within its boundaries. He’d planned everything to the second and had even run a few drills in the dark over the last month. His only concern was noise. So he needed to be sure the first thing he took out was the windpipe. He couldn’t afford even a fraction of a distress call. The offices on the 2nd floor always kept their windows open and the after hours cleaning crew would surely hear any screaming.

“How can they stand to keep them open?” he wondered. The rancid smell of the alley was nauseating. He shuddered when what he hoped was a cat ran across his feet. He chose not to look down but to keep his gaze fixed on the door. The firm had been closed for three hours. He should have come out by now.

Why must he always make things so difficult?

He felt a breeze blow past him. Fall was coming. The holidays. He couldn’t let her endure another Christmas, another new year with him. “She wants this,” he reasoned to himself. “She practically came out and asked me to do it.”

Tonight, he would even the score for her. Tonight, he would set her free.

With tears in his eyes, he gripped the rope tightly as he watched the backdoor slowly swing open.

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The Inspiration for this Entry

I read an old favorite with my son not too long ago. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Of course, for my boy, it was the first reading. And he marveled at how crazed the narrator sounded, how meticulously he planned every detail and how he perceived his own actions to be fully justified and rational. Three hundred thirty-three words isn’t much with which to work when attempting to model anything after the great EAP, but I hope I captured at least a fraction of the character’s frenetic thought process.



13 Shades of Blue (For Trifecta)

It’s Trifecta Weekly Challenge  time. As always, the assignment is to create something between 33 and 333 words using a specified word and definition.

BLUE (adjective)

3  a : low in spirits : melancholy
    b : marked by low spirits : depressing <a blue funk> <things looked blue>

I think I strayed off the beaten path this week … as in I may need to start writing with a compass, a reliable walking stick and a small bag of bread crumbs.

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13 Shades of Blue

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It’s used to describe ANGELS as they jet across the sky

Or a BAYOU in a Ronstadt song from many years gone by

A BOOK with this descriptor lists a price tag for a car

And when it’s written before GRASS, think banjo and guitar


When Geisel used it for his book, it named the second FISH

It indicates a lunch special with PLATE, but not with dish

In the 60s, Vinton sang of VELVET of this hue

And Sha-Na-Na sang of a MOON of the same color, too


It aids in our technology when paired alongside TOOTH

And when it’s seen before LAGOON, it’s Shields and all her youth

When used before LAW, it means you don’t have to work on Sunday

Fats Domino even used it when singing of his MONDAY


But Trifecta doesn’t want the color definition

I must employ a different meaning for my next submission

Sad, low, melancholy is the order of the day

So, I sat down to write about the word without delay


The truth is that I know about this word a bit too well

For sadness drifts into my life and upon it I dwell

Until I find a way of coping, something to get through,

It’s nice to know you’re all here when I’m down and feeling blue

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Troubled over a Troublesome Troubler (From the Smartass Collection – for Trifecta)

It’s Trifecta time.

And this week was HARD. I just couldn’t get a handle on the one-word prompt. So I tried using it every way I could. One of them just has to be right. Dear God, I think I’m starting to channel Edward Hotspur.

RULES: Entries must be between 33 & 333 words and need to include the following word using its 3rd definition (below).

1 : the quality or state of being troubled especially mentally
2 : public unrest or disturbance <;;there’s trouble brewing downtown>;;

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Troubled over a Troublesome Troubler

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“Trouble in Paradise?” he asked.

“This latest Trifecta prompt has caused me nothing but trouble. Honestly, it’s been troubling me all day,” she answered.

“What’s the trouble?”

“The word this week is ‘trouble.’ It’s a real troubler for me. And I’m having trouble trying to figure out a way to use this troublesome word.”

“Should we try a little troubleshooting?”

“I’m too troubled to take the trouble. You see, there’s trouble afoot because of the deadline approaching. Plus, I was a bit of a troublemaker yesterday.”

“Well, now you’re in double trouble. What did you do to get into this deep trouble?”

“I caused trouble by questioning the Trifecta overlords. I told them there was trouble on the home front. And that it was so much trouble that I wasn’t sure I’d be submitting this week.”

“Well, there’s definitely trouble a-brewin’ now. Why’d you have to go and get yourself in trouble?”

“I know. I should never have made trouble. That’s the trouble with this whole thing.”

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For My Mother (for Trifecta)

It’s Trifecta Weekly Challenge time. Entries must be between 33 & 333 words and need to include the following word using its 3rd definition (below).

thun·der noun \ˈthən-dər\

3: bang, rumble <the thunder of big guns>

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For My Mother

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She took a moment to collect herself in the great hall amidst the deafening silence. All eyes were upon her as she straightened her spine, reached her fingers toward the keys and poised them to begin. A little more nervous than she expected to be, she was glad she had elected to go with an old friend, Chopin’s Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Opus 9, Number 2, to accompany her on this momentous occasion. She knew she would own that four minutes.

And she began to play.

It took only thirty seconds for her to lose herself completely in the piece. The repeating melody always held her … with its haunting legato articulation and its graceful and sometimes even unstructured rhythm. She knew she had to learn it the first time she heard it years ago as a child.

She was about halfway in when she heard the coughing attack coming from the third row. It nearly unnerved her but she managed to regain her focus before striking anything in error or losing her cadence. “Shut up, old man!” she wanted to scream, but she maintained her composure and moved on to the final repetition of the melody. She gathered herself, in preparation of the piece’s most elaborate tones and trills. She executed these sections flawlessly as the dynamics of the composition ascended to fortissimo and reached its peak.

She exhaled with the realization that the most complicated portion was behind her and advanced into its coda, bringing the piece back down to its almost pianissimo conclusion.

Her eyes were closed as her fingers pressed the final notes. For ten seconds, she could only hear the sound of her own breathing. Then suddenly, from the darkness surrounding her, there came a shattering thunder of applause as the audience leapt to its feet to show its demonstrative approval and appreciation for the artistry on the stage before them.

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I love you, Mom.


Over Drinks (for Trifecta)

The Thursday evening deadline is looming so I had decided to pass on the Trifecta Weekly Challenge. But then I got an idea. And I just had to flesh it out. I didn’t even have my laptop handy so I wrote the whole thing on my phone and crossed my fingers on the word count. And it turned out I was pretty close. So, after a little editing this afternoon, I’m now posting my submission.

Entries must be between 33 & 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition (both listed below).

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Over Drinks

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“Did you tell Joel?”

“Did I tell Joel?”

“Yes. … Did you?”

“You told me in confidence. Why the hell would I tell him?”

“I don’t know. Because he’s your boyfriend.”

“Please. He’s been in my life for two months. You’ve been around two decades.”

“I’m sorry. I’m still so freaked out about this whole thing.”

“Well, of course you are. But the good news is … it’s over.”

“Yeah, I guess. But …”

“But what? Jenny, you just got your life back. What’s the problem?”

“What’s the problem?!!? … Beth, I paid to have a man killed. You don’t consider that to be a little bit of a problem.”

“Don’t be sarcastic.”

“What if the guy talks? He said he wouldn’t … but how can I be sure?”

“Geez, Jenny. He’s a hired gun. Killing people and keeping secrets. That’s his entire job description.”

“It’s just that …”


“I didn’t pay him the full amount.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, I was going to, but then Ben said he’d do it for half … because …”

“Ben??? Wait, is that his name? Jenny, you’re not supposed to …”

“I KNOW! It wasn’t supposed to happen. We met in that stupid Greek restaurant to make a plan, but we just kept getting off the subject.”

“Off the subject … of killing James? You kept getting off the subject of killing James with the …”

“With the hit man. Yes. … Damn it, Beth. I know how crazy it sounds. THAT’S why I’m so worried.”

“Why? What’s happening with you and the Exterminator?”

“Oh, it’s over.”

“Well, YEAH. … But why?”

“Beth, do you really think I could be with someone who kills for a living?”

“I don’t know. You stayed with someone who beat the crap out of you and tried to kill YOU for two years.”


“Jenny, we’ve just got to find ‘Ben’ and give him the rest of his money. Or we’ll need to find a guy to take care of him.”

“God, Beth. I’m so sorry I pulled you into this shit.”

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Approaching Winter (for Trifecta)

It’s time for the Trifecta Weekly Challenge. I wrote this entry on my phone during several recent moments of downtime in my life. Truthfully, I think these challenges have become my go-to free time activity … replacing reading, TV, music, Facebook and all of my other mindless occupations. (Fine. Who am I kidding? I was never really busy reading.) Now, if only I could convince myself to write in lieu of snacking.

Oh … and anyway … the word this week is observe. I was actually the Trifecta member who submitted it, dumb ass that I am. You would think I would have proposed a word for which I had already written a story. But NO. I had to come up with something new and original to challenge myself, thereby offering me (my primary concern, really) no unfair advantage over my fellow participants. So, I was accidentally ethical. Stupid … and ethical.

Seriously, you don’t know the rules by now? All entries must be between 33 and 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition (both listed below).

ob·serve verb \əb-ˈzərv\

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Approaching Winter

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“It’s snowing again,” Martha announced to an empty room. She stared out the dusty picture window for a few minutes, watching the endless flakes fall into her overgrown garden. Sliding the tattered quilt from her legs, she braced herself on the arms of her chair to stand and reach for her cane, an old shepherd’s crook that had once belonged to her grandfather.

She steadied herself with it before traversing the excessively cluttered room. With her compromised balance, the trips to the kitchen had become incrementally hazardous. The quantity of obstacles taunting her along the way had increased ten-fold over the years.

She doddered across the stained rug, oblivious of the mess that had accumulated since her beloved Henry had passed seventeen years earlier. They were unable to have children so she seldom had visitors and the small cottage had plummeted into disrepair. The only thing preventing a rodent invasion was the daunting number of cats roaming the property, coming and going at will through a small window left ajar in their honor.

“Toby?” Martha called. “Toby, are you ready?” She looked around and finally saw an old grey tabby peeking out from behind a tall pile of newspapers beside her. “Hello, my handsome boy. And happy birthday to you.”

Toby was her oldest, as she’d adopted him shortly after Henry died. He was the only one for whom she knew a real birthday, November 7. It was the busiest day of the year in her non-traditional household. And Martha intended to observe it throughout his life as though it were a high holiday. Over the years, the other days had all lost their significance to her anyway.

He was her family now, he and all the others. They needed her for survival, or so she thought. And they were willing to sit for hours and listen to stories of her childhood, her factory job during the war, her Henry and whatever else crossed her tired and addled mind.

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Against the Grain (for Trifecta)

I’m dedicating today’s post to the Honda Corporation. Thanks to a recent recall made on my Pilot, I’m able to participate in the latest Trifecta Weekly Challenge.  Until this morning, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would be sitting this one out … until … I had to wait so long in the ‘customer lounge’ for my shuttle ride home.  So, here’s what I was doing while the lady on my left watched The Price is Right and the guy on my right read NASCAR Illustrated. You be the judge as to which one of us made the best use of his or her time.

RULES: All entries must be between 33 and 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition (both listed below).

scan·dal noun \ˈskan-dəl\

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Against the Grain

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He checked his wrist watch and fidgeted in his chair. “We need to get started,” he thought, worriedly. “Where is she?” He scanned the crowd and, still unsatisfied, stood to get a better view of everything.

Then he saw her.

“The last one here, as always,” he smiled to himself, as he watched her walk down the long aisle to take her usual spot in the third row. His eyes stayed fixed upon her as she glided into her seat.

He couldn’t really pinpoint what first created the spark. She seemed to have a radiant glow all about her. He wondered if anyone else could feel her warmth and light. He caught himself smiling in her direction, lingering a little too long on her face, when her eyes met his directly. She returned his smile, waking him from his trance and forcing him to divert his attention to the other faces around him. He made sure to offer them the same enthusiastic demeanor so as not to arouse any suspicion.

How had he let it continue for so long? Nearly three years had passed since he’d first arrived and been introduced to her. And each week he excitedly anticipated being able to see her again, all the while trying to maintain his secret. And seeing her now, he knew that it had been far too long. Today he would make his move, no matter what the consequences, to determine if her feelings matched his own. It was a risk that could gravely injure him and would forever brand him as a scandal to his vocation. But the suspense would surely kill him sooner.

He smoothed the emerald green stole on his shoulders and approached the pulpit to greet his congregation, comforted in the fact that today’s mass would be his last.

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Burden of Proof (for Trifecta)

It’s Trifecta Weekly Challenge time and this one was especially difficult for me personally. Perhaps it’s because the prompt exposed two of my Achilles heels: brains and computers. Sad, huh? RULES: All entries must be between 33 and 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition (both listed below).

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Burden of Proof

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“Keep digging.” Riggs pleaded.

Murtaugh could hear the desperation in his partner’s voice. It had only been six months since he lost Victoria. He was too close to these crimes. “You’re grasping at straws. Police combed the area for days. There’s nothing left.”

“How can you be sure?” Riggs protested. “We both know he killed all six of them but we’ve only got enough to get him for that last one.”

“Riggs, we don’t even have bodies, let alone evidence to link him to those women.”

Riggs kept digging. “What about the waitress?”


“The girl we questioned last month. The only one who got out alive. With the piercings … and tattoos, remember? “

“Please. I’m still having nightmares,” Murtaugh laughed.

“Yeah, she was rough … but smart.” Riggs agreed. “That’s what saved her. She paid attention to his schedule, knew when to act. She said he recorded everything on his computer … pictures, clippings, videos. Apparently, he liked showing them to his newer captures. I just wish she hadn’t waited to report him. It gave him too much time.”

“Then, tell me again. Why are we here?”

“They found the last victim here, right?

“Yes. And?” Murtaugh persisted.

“He knew it was his last kill for a while, thanks to the waitress. So, he had to dump everything .. the body, the tools and …”

“The computer,” concluded Murtaugh.

“Exactly,” said Riggs, just as his digging fingers hit the metal hard drive in the dirt. “His brain. I’ll bet everything’s on here. The girls, the methods, even the dump sites. And these barcodes will lead us right to him.”

Murtaugh interrupted. “Why wouldn’t he have destroyed it?”

“Because he’s one of them. The monsters who keep these grisly souvenirs. Usually the key evidence in their convictions. When Bundy was asked why he photographed his victims, he said, ‘when you work hard to do something right, you don’t want to forget it.'” Riggs turned to collect himself, wiping his eyes. “Let’s go nail his ass to the wall.”

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Anyone recognize my characters? Points go to the first one who leaves it in the comments.

And that Ted Bundy stuff? It was real. I did a little terrifying research by myself late last night during one of the worst thunderstorms in recent history. It’s a good thing the power didn’t go out or I’d still be holed up in the back of my closet clutching a butcher knife and a vial of holy water. (A girl’s gotta cover all her bases, from the mortal to the supernatural.) Anyway, this link was the most disturbing one I read. It’s not for the faint of heart, especially that second paragraph.


Waterproof (for Trifecta)

Dear Reader, I’m reposting this short piece in the hopes of reminding myself that it needs finishing. I’ve actually already begun working on continuing the story and have high hopes of seeing it to fruition in the “not-so-distant” future. I would love your feedback. Thanks.

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Following is my entry for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. As is usually the case, I went with the first idea that popped into my threadbare brain. RULES: All entries must be between 33 and 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition:

cheap adj \ˈchēp\

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I live in a town called Waterproof. Yes, I know it’s a strange name. It’s supposed to mean we’re protected from floodwaters and, around these parts, that’s a good thing. So nobody ever dared to change it.

Waterproof is right on the Louisiana-Mississippi border so it’s no surprise that we’re one of the poorest cities in the state. The last time anybody checked, the average income for a family around here was about $15,000, and that’s usually supposed to take care of three or four people. More than half of us live below the poverty line. And I say “us” because Daddy and I are probably scraping the bottom of that bowl.

We’re also one of the smallest cities in the state. The sign on the highway says we have 693 people living here, but it’s wrong. At least, I know it’s wrong by three. My best friend, Josie, her mother and her little brother, Dewey, moved away last year when Miss Eileen got that job offer in Tuscaloosa. She said she just couldn’t pass up a chance to move her family to a big city with good schools and restaurants and more than one supermarket.

All I know is that it’s 300 miles away, according to Daddy. And that means no visits, just letters. But I have to sneak the stamps. Daddy says stamp prices are so high that you can only mail two letters for a dollar these days. He says when he was my age he could mail six letters for that same dollar and still have a dime in his pocket for bubble gum.

That’s Daddy.

He’s always looking for ways to stretch his pay. I remember eating potatoes for dinner a whole week once because it’s how he got paid that time. He says the only things you shouldn’t scrimp on are shoes and tires. Daddy says you don’t want anything too cheap coming between you and the road. He says every man deserves at least that.

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Fun Fact:

My first real job after college was in Louisiana Tourism. I got to see a lot of small towns in the state with which I would not otherwise even be familiar. And my salary for that job was below the one quoted in this story.


An Ode to 1983

Here’s my goofy, little entry for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge. I often go with the first idea that pops into my head.  This was one of those times.

RULES: All entries must be between 33 and 333 words and need to include the following word using its third definition:

clean (adjective)

1: free from dirt or pollution
2: unadulterated, pure
3 a : free from moral corruption or sinister connections of any kind <a candidate with a clean record>

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A year in the life of my childhood

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The year was 1983

The times? They were so simple

Cabbage patch dolls everywhere

So hideously-dimpled


Reagan was the president

And Swatch entered the scene

As did jellies, Rubik’s cubes,

And McNuggets as cuisine


My fashion was inspired by

Madonna, Flashdance, Lauper

‘Cause MTV was everywhere

So I looked like a pauper


The music was my favorite

Boom box on every shoulder

From Dexy, Prince or Men at Work

(It so sucks getting older)


For film, we had The Outsiders,

Big Chill and Valley Girl

And Vacation with Chevy Chase

Gave the Griswolds to the world


But I was still a little girl

My parents weren’t mean

They just wanted to be sure

What I saw and heard was clean


Enter Mr. Cosby

And his one-man show ‘Himself’

I must have pulled it fifty times

Off our VHS tape shelf


The jokes, they were all perfect

The dentist chair he faked

I won’t forget the joke about

“Dad gave us chocolate cake!”


Thank you for the memories

Of this, a lifetime chapter

But most of all I thank you, Bill

For all my family’s laughter