THE SPEAKEASY #176… A Cautionary Tale




Cook County General… Chicago, Illinois… Room 317… 11:30p.m.

Everything hurt. Cheryl looked at her friend and that’s what she saw. And that is what she would probably say when she awoke.

It had all started with that damn PennySaver ad. “Why waste money on a repairman when You can fix it?” “Let us show you the easy way to Do-It-Yourself!”  She had told Ethel there was no easy way, and that a few online classes wouldn’t make her an expert on fixing things. But Ethel had replaced the cord on her window shade and fixed her blender, though she was out of her protein shake phase, so she had to give her credit for that.

Earlier that day, Cheryl had just fixed lunch and was going to watch the Big Brother episode she had recorded when the phone rang.
“Is this Miss Cheryl?”
“Hi Dominic, why are you calling me?”
“It’s Miss Ethel. She is going to hospital and you should know.”

Cheryl shifted in her chair and continued filling out the crossword in the Trib. ‘What the hell was Ethel thinking? Well this should teach that do-gooder a lesson. Let the landlord fix the damn dryer.’ Cheryl immediately felt sorry for that thought. ‘But really, any damn fool knows you unplug something before working on it. It says so on the back of the machine. Maybe they didn’t teach that in their fix-it class.’

The nurse had looked grave when Cheryl got to the hospital. Nurse Betty explained that her friend had received a serious electrical shock, but was expected to live. She was sedated and would sleep for sometime, they would call when she was awake. The doctor hoped there would be no lasting effects, but you never know. Cheryl thanked her, and said she would wait with Ethel, if that was okay. ‘It would serve her right if she got one of those white streaks in her hair like Angela Lansbury had in that movie.’


Cheryl was wishing there was another bed in the room when Ethel moaned, stirred and her eyes popped open.
“Where am I?  What are you doing here?”
“I’m doing my crossword while I wait for you to wake up. Your dryer repair job didn’t go so well. Do you remember what happened? How do you feel?”
“Ooh, everything hurts.”

✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎ ✳︎

The Speakeasy is back from summer vacation!


  • Submissions must be 750 words or fewer.
  • Submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  • The following sentence must be the FIRST line in your submission: “Everything hurt.
  • You must also include a reference to the media prompt.

19 responses

  1. Poor Ethel, Cheryl was not too sorry for her. Loved the story Ted!

    1. Thanks, Betty. She was in her own way.

  2. I have a feeling you know Ethel and Cheryl, IRL, Ted. But I love how you get in their petty, uppity heads and let us know them, too.

  3. This scared me. I can identify with Ethyl, unfortunately. Nicely done!

  4. Oh, Ethel. Not so good at following direction, is she?

    Loved seeing these two again, Ted!

  5. Hi Ted! This pair sound like a real pair of mischief makers! I enjoyed the insight that you gave us into their dynamic – they obviously drive each other crazy on one level, but on another, couldn’t live without each other. It’s good to be back 😉

  6. Only woe comes from those Pennysaver ads.

  7. Interesting dynamic between these two. I love the way they are called Miss Cheryl or Miss Ethel like it’s a cautionary tale from long ago when people didn’t throw things away but fixed them, or tried to. But washing machines have changed some over the years.

  8. Haha the end made me laugh! I love those characters. Really entertaining piece!

  9. I like the friendship these two have. I think maybe I’ll leave the repairs to a trained professional 🙂

  10. Love love those two!!

  11. Now we know why Ethel is such a scatterbrain!

    1. I forgot about this story. You can’t keep Ethel down, or try to talk sense to…

      1. We need to hear more from her and Chezza!

  12. Reblogged this on TedBook's DAILY PICS… and commented:

    I came across this story today while looking for something else. I always liked this one.

  13. Great to read this again Ted!

  14. This was funny yet poignant, which is a good combination. Great story.

    1. Thank you, Polly. I had forgotten about this story, I always liked it.

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