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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Taming a Foul Mouth
By Bryan Ridenour


"That 'ol Polly's done it now," Hessie stormed, barging into Maude's house unannounced. Tossing her sweater on the coat tree, she scanned the living room for her neighbor. The aroma of fresh baked bread and the banging of pots alerted Hessie to Maude's whereabouts. Hessie stomped to the kitchen, thumping down on a bar stool. "Oh, that Polly," Hessie griped again.

"Hessie, what's got y' so stirred up?" Maude asked, wiping flour on a floral apron.

"Oh, that 'ol..."

"Hessie, be nice," Maude interrupted with a warning glare.

Hessie rummaged through her handbag, seeking a handkerchief. Finding none, she grabbed a handful of napkins and dabbed perspiration from her furrowed brow.

"What’s goin’ on, Hessie?" Maude questioned, pouring two glasses of lemonade. "If y’ don't calm down, y'r gonna have a spell."

"Oh, Maude," Hessie moaned, "th’ tribulations of this world..."

Maude imagined Hessie fainting dead away on her freshly waxed linoleum. Flashes of Hessie's past tribulations rapidly fired through Maude's memory banks. The neighbor’s new garage door opener activating Hessie's Life Alert bracelet being the most recent. Several times a day, concerned operator voices squawked through the transmitter asking Hessie if she’d ‘fallen and couldn't get up’. "It's my neighbor's fault," she grumped time and again.

"What's Polly done t’ upset y’ so?" Maude questioned, straddling a stool next to her friend.

"She spouted curses!"

Maude shook her head, tongue clucking softly. "That must’ve been quite a shock."

"A shock? I almost called Life Alert m'self."

"Where did she pick up such vile language?" Maude wanted to know.

"Well," Hessie began, indignant. "I made a few calls and learned something about our little friend’s past."

"And?" Maude questioned, leaning in.

"She used t’ spend most of her time down at Barney's."

"Barney's? You mean th’ bar?" Maude asked, eyes wide.

"I ain't talkin' about th’ purple dinosaur’s house, deary. Can you imagine th’ kind of language she picked up there?"

"What did she say?" Maude asked, curious.

Hessie leaned and whispered in Maude's ear. Maude turned several shades of red and crossed herself.

Hessie groaned to a standing position and shuffled to the sink, looking out the window. "Oh Maude, what am I gonna do?"

"Hessie, sometimes the old ways bubble up and spill out, surprisin’ even th’ most devout. Had she cursed before?"


"What set her off?" Maude inquired, sipping her lemonade.

"Well, I was cleanin’ around the house...usin’ the vacuum...and her leg got sucked into th’ nozzle attachment. Before I could get my Vaculux 3000 turned off, the only thing visible was her head. She started cussin' t’ beat the band."

"I can't say that I blame her," Maude mumbled.

"What did you say?"

"Oh, nothin'...I didn't even know she was talkin'," Maude stated, surprised.

"I taught her t’ say 'Polly wants a cracker' about two weeks ago," Hessie informed, looking proud. "I didn't realize her vocabulary was so much larger…and so…colorful. What am I gonna do with that heathen bird?"

"Now Hessie, we shouldn't judge...the poor thing had less than savory role models."

“That may be true, but what if the Pastor comes callin’ and she decides to let loose with profanity? What if the Women’s Missionary Guild is over for tea and Polly doesn’t like Beatrice McDougal’s dress…?"

“Who does?” Maude interrupted.

“But, what if Polly really doesn’t like th’ dress and calls her a King James donkey? What am I gonna do? They're gonna think I’m that bird’s influence,” Hessie wailed, looking horrified.

“I’m sure y’ will come up with somethin’,” Maude encouraged.

Hessie drummed her fingertips on the windowsill, observing finches darting to the bird feeder for a snack.

“Wait a minute," Hessie exclaimed, eyes hopeful. "I've got it!"

Hessie shot down the hall, snatched her sweater and flung the door open wide, a brisk fall breeze blowing in.

"What's your hurry, Hessie?" Maude asked, following quickly behind.

"I've got t’ get home t’ my attic. I've got the Bible on tape stored in my mama's steamer trunk. If I pipe that int’ her cage all day long, I should have a new bird in no time! Ta-ta," she waved over her shoulder.

"Ta-ta," Maude called, chuckling. "I'll be prayin'."

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This article has been read 689 times
Member Comments
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Sara Harricharan 05/21/09
TRULY HILARIOUS! What a hoot! I totally enjoyed reading this-the title caught my eye and of course to learn that the person in question was actually a bird!! Geat twist and what fun! I totally enjoyed the read and especially the ending. I'm still chuckling as I type this. Excellent story!
Myrna Noyes05/24/09
Hee-hee! I really enjoyed this amusing story! :)

You have some great lines, such as: "Flashes of Hessie's past tribulations rapidly fired through Maude's memory banks."

I like your writing style, and your dialogue was believable.

Great job! :)
Patricia Herchenroether05/25/09
This is a riot! Being the owner of a particularly garrulous parrot I can relate easily.
Micheline Murray05/25/09
I like this different approach--never expected the foul mouth to belong to a bird!! Very funny.
Joy Faire Stewart05/25/09
This is so much fun I had to read it a second time. Now I know, other than having a Siamase cat, why I don't own a bird! Great job on topic.
Jim McWhinnie 05/25/09
Connie Dixon05/25/09
Good job, very creative. Loved the dialogue and the surprise "culprit". This is a great reason to never get a parrot.
Mona Purvis05/25/09
I could just see her struggle with her Life Alert.
Boy, those folks would have a story to tell.
Very entertaining story. Excellent writing.
Carol Slider 05/25/09
Great humor! I really enjoyed reading this! (Let's hope she plays only certain parts of the Bible for Polly... not, say, certain passages in the Book of Judges:))
Pamela Kliewer05/26/09
What a hoot! Great characterization. Loved it from start to finish.
Lyn Churchyard05/26/09
Oh my, that was so good! You had me fooled for a moment, then when you started talking about Polly being sucked up into the vacuum cleaner it suddenly all fell into place. Not even the name "Polly" clued me in. Bryan, this was such a hoot!
Betty Castleberry05/27/09
This "parront" understands completely the pickles a bird can get you into. I chuckled out loud. I *love* this! Two thumbs up.
Jan Ackerson 05/27/09
A King James donkey! That made me laugh out loud. Delightful from beginning to end.
Chrissi Dunn05/27/09
A really imaginative 'before and after' story! It was only when I reached the bit about the vacuum, that I realised the narrator was not referring to a human. Very funny, and well written!
Gregory Kane05/28/09
Reading through this, an image sprang to mind of a plucked and roasted parrot sizzling on the plate - possibly not a solution that your MC would approve of.
Seriously though, I love the many tangents in the dialogue, the way you tease the story along with delicious but irrelevant asides. My one doubt about your otherwise excellent story would be whether the judges would see it as bang on-topic.