The Speakeasy #140… ETHEL & CHERYL WRITE A STORY

Peggy Wente: Globe and Mail columnist in alberta


‘I found the tracks in the deep snow between the trees.’  Okay, that has to be the first line to start our story.  Not over 750 words, okay Ethel?”

“Wait a minute!  What are you talking about, Cheryl?  The first line has to be ‘Pass the basil, would you?’.  You were late and I’ve already started the story.  It takes place on a TV cooking show.  Here, take a look.”

“Pass the basil, would you?”   “Basil! What are you a @#☠%^#✴︎& Idiot!!!”   “I think it goes in spaghetti, Chef.”   “But you are not making @#☠%^#✴︎& Spaghetti!!!  I asked for @#☠%^#✴︎& Lo Mein!!!”   “Sorry, Chef!!!  All noodles look the same to me.”

“For crying out loud, Ethel, you misread the instructions!  They are introducing the prompt painting with the ‘basil thing’.  It has something to with the story in the painting.”

“What story?  They aren’t cooking in the painting.  I don’t see any basil anywhere, just a skinny-ass dog and some people having a meal.  Okay, let’s figure out how they’re using basil, and I’ll save my cooking show story for later, I think it’s hilarious.”

“To each his own, Ethel, but it’s not about cooking.  If we want to be writers we need to focus, especially since we’re going to win a prize, we want it to be good.”

“Okay, let’s think outside the box here.  We can have ‘the tracks found deep in the snow between the trees’ be the dog’s.  And, we can have the cook find them!”



While surfing the web, Ethel came across a writing challenge called The Speakeasy #140, always on the hunt for something new, she enlisted Cheryl to help her.  Here are the instructions she came across:

This week our sentence prompt, provided by last week’s winner, EA Wicklund, must be used as the FIRST line in your piece. And the media prompt is a painting.  

Pass the basil, would you?  

The painting this week is Isabella by John Everett Millais. It’s the first painting he did in the Pre-Raphaelite style and it was inspired by John Keat’s poem Isabella, or the Pot of Basil. Be sure to click on the image to see this painting in its large format because there is a lot going on in it.

John Everett Millais: Isabella, 1848-49..

  • Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  • Your piece must include the following sentence as the FIRST line: “I found the tracks in the deep snow between the trees.


Incidentally, to read some damn fine Sci-Fi, check out Wicklund’s Fairy Taleseric

Suzanne Purkis runs the speakeasy, and can be found at  Apoplectic Apostrophessuzanne

24 responses

  1. Hahaha, fantastic story! Oh, Ethel and Cheryl, may your hijinks never end 🙂

    1. I would hope not… Thanks, J M.

  2. Chef Ramsay lives! Very funny story Ted.

    1. I thought of you when I picked this photo, Betty.

  3. These ladies are charming. Ethel and I have a similar vocabulary.

    1. You should hear Cheryl! Thanks, Catherine.

  4. I do adore the swearing! 🙂

    1. I’m sure you do… who do you think I got it from???

  5. I would love to hear a country song about these two.

  6. Hi Ted I loved the way you used the prompts. It’s unique and funny . I like your style.

    1. Hey thanks! That is nice to hear.

  7. Leave it to Ethel to get the first line of the story wrong…I love these two. Great job.

    1. Don’t tell anyone, Mandy, that almost happened to me. I was surprised at Eric’s choice and read further.

  8. These two are a riot! I’m glad they made another appearance. (Should I be concerned that their creative writing process is far more interesting than mine?!)

    1. Well… judging by the number of awards you flaunt on the right side of your page, they have a ways to go…

    This was too funny. Loved what you did with the prompt!

    1. You think? Thanks, TinyP.

  10. This was so fun and so funny. Loved the dialogue. 🙂

    1. Your line had me stumped for a bit, Eric. I had fun too.

  11. Yay! I love that Cheryl and Ethel tried to do the Speakeasy! “If we want to be writers we need to focus” – that’s a great line. Great picture choice too.

    1. That’s kind of how I picture you at the typewriter, Suzanne. I guess you are an inspiration to more than just me. I will try to get that story from them.

      1. LOL! I’m not sure I’ve ever looked that “kempt” while writing. But I’m glad that’s how you (and Cheryl & Ethel) imagine me.

Leave a Reply to betty Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: