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

TITLE: Guess Who Hid in My Bushes
By Betty Castleberry


The noise was coming from the bushes. Assuming it was a cat sneaking over to dig in my sweet potato garden, I shouted, “Scat, you hair ball.”

It was a good thing I had come out to the patio for some fresh air before bed. No feline was going to destroy Wanda Harper’s garden.

My yelling didn’t cause any cats to skitter over the fence. Instead, I heard a deep male cough.

Ever since Harry passed away, I’ve been leery of living alone. Hearing a man coughing in my bushes was not good. I picked up the baseball bat I kept handy and removed my cell phone from my pocket. I calmly announced, “I’m calling the cops.”

That’s when he stepped from behind the bushes and into my motion light. He had jet-black hair and long side burns and reminded me of someone. “Hello Ma’am. Please don’t call the cops. I’m not a criminal.”

I held up the phone. “Help is a speed dial away.”

“I won’t hurt you. I run every night. Somebody saw me this time. I’m just looking for a place to hide.” His rich voice was very familiar.

“Why is it okay for me to see you?”

“No choice. You caught me.”

I squinted at him. “Who are you?”

He chuckled. “Reach back in your memory and think about teddy bears and clambakes.”

“You’re not…”

“I am.”

“How do I know you’re not a fake? You look about thirty. You should be an old man by now.”

He sang softly. Either it really was him, or he was a superb impersonator.

My knees went weak as I lowered myself into the swing. “This isn’t possible.”

“Maybe it is.”

“Then the rumors are true?”

“You decide.”

I rubbed my temples. “It can’t be.”

“I’m winded. Could I hide here, or sit down just a minute?”

Tapping the bat against the cement, I replied, “I have this. Don’t try anything funny. And I’m only letting you sit down because you do look tired.”

Realizing I was wearing my hideous black glasses, I yanked them off, exposing my attractive ice blue peepers.

He sat beside me. My heart leaped like a jack rabbit, although I don’t know if I can attribute it to fear or excitement.

The handsome man coughed again and touched his throat. “I’ve got a tickle. Could I trouble you for some water?”

On the way to the kitchen, I debated calling the cops. Part of me thought they might take me away in a straight jacket, so I declined.

I returned to the patio with his water. Deciding to put him to the ultimate test, I asked, “Would you care for a peanut butter and banana sandwich?”


My cell phone rang. Mirabell, my next door neighbor, called to check on me.

Hanging up, I said, “As interesting as this is, I’d advise you to go. That was my neighbor and she is concerned that my lights are on so late. She’s on her way over here and she can’t keep a secret. I‘ll give you a rain check on the sandwich.”

He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, wiped his brow with it and tossed it to me.

“Okay. I appreciate the hospitality. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

I watched incredulously as he jogged away.

Unfortunately, I’m not a good fabricator. Mirabell took one look at my star-struck face and wormed the truth out of me. Our home town paper is hungry for a good story, so they came right over when she called.

Ever since, I’ve become a celebrity. Life was a lot simpler before the Stranger Incident, as I’ve come to call it. I used to go out and putter in my garden without stumbling over reporters from the National Enticer. Our local ABC affiliate station asked me to appear on the evening news. My phone rings constantly. Folks beg me for my autograph.

Mirabell has designated herself a tour guide, showing folks around my yard. They take pictures of my patio and sit in my swing.

Take some advice from me. The next time you hear a noise in your bushes, ignore it. Don’t be a Good Samaritan. It hasn’t all been bad, though. I’m making extra money. You’d be shocked at what people will pay on eBay for a one inch square of the handkerchief my visitor left. Just for kicks, I’m keeping a square for myself.

Now, where did I put that glass he drank from?

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This article has been read 777 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Loren T. Lowery05/21/09
I always wondered where Elvis got off too; and now the secret's out indeed! Good job with the topic and this tale is simply delightful to read.
Emily Gibson05/23/09
I still think it was a "hair ball" in the bushes, by the name of Elvis...

what fun to read and must have been fun to write!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/09
I just wish I had your imagination! Delightful story!
Sara Harricharan 05/24/09
ROFL! What a delightful hilarious take on topic. I loved this! Especially the first person POV! Fun read!
Joanne Sher 05/24/09
Ohhh fun! this must have been a hoot to right. Extremely creative. Thank you - thank you very muucch.
Patricia Herchenroether05/24/09
So much fun to read! lol
Joy Faire Stewart05/25/09
Love the humor and the details are a delight. Fun title, too.
Connie Dixon05/25/09
Have to admit, I was clueless too! (Thanks Loren)
Great writing, very creative and fun. Now I KNOW he's still alive.
Pat Guy 05/25/09
Figures this one is yours. lol So, do we get to decide if this guy was a wacko impersonator? Or the real kahuna? : ) Loved it girlie. I needed a tad more hint too somewhere down the line if you didn't want to give it away too early. I mean, really, he could have scampered off leaving behind a blue suede shoe. You know, kinda like Cinderella? tehe.
Mona Purvis05/25/09
Now that's some fiction! Great story. Loved it.
Carol Slider 05/26/09
I also had to read the comments to figure it out... but once I did, it all made sense! VERY creative, with a wonderful dose of humor!
Myrna Noyes05/26/09
You have a very rich imagination! :) I enjoyed this wonderful little story and thank you for the smile it gave me! Good job!
Lyn Churchyard05/27/09
LOL think how much money you could have made if you'd had a crust from a sandwich left!
Oh boy, who would have thought of writing a story about you-know-who for the challenge.
Well done, Betty, well done.

Bryan Ridenour05/27/09
You've left me all shook up! Great humor and imagination. Well done!
Jan Ackerson 05/27/09
Delightful! I can always count on one of your stories to provide a big ol' grin. Love the interactive title, too.
Gerald Shuler 05/27/09
I had it figured from the sideburns and understood every clue EXCEPT the sandwich... I thought I was the only one who liked that particular combination.

Really fun story.
Pamela Kliewer05/27/09
Great, fun read. :)
Kristen Hester05/28/09
As the daughter of a HUGE Elvis fan, I knew instantly who He was. (And my mother tells us every time we have a peanut butter and banana sandwich that it was Elvis's favorite.) I love this story. So much fun. Your stories always brighten my day and make my smile. What a GIFT you have for humor.
Janice Fitzpatrick06/04/09
Congratulations on this piece. Hilarious and great dialogue. I love the M.C's voice-feisty with a bit of loveable sarcasm. I thoroughly enjoyed this hon. Lord bless you. Your writing made my day. I needed this.:0)
Laury Hubrich 04/29/12
You are too too funny, Betty:) Thanks for pulling out an oldie but forever a goodie:) LUVS!