Friday Fiction – Whiskey Tales

You know what it’s like when you get an idea stuck in your head? And no matter how wrong it is, it just won’t go away? Obviously, if the idea is “rob a bank”, you’d do well not to exorcise it by exercising it, but I’m hoping the same isn’t true of story ideas, because that’s what happened to me with this week’s FF prompt. For those with the time / patience, I’ll explain more after the story, but for now I can only beg your understanding.

Thanks to Sandra Crook for providing the photo, and Rochelle Wisoff Fields for running the show. You can see lots of (less tenuous) other stories inspired by this photo by clicking on the little blue guy on Rochelle’s page.


Whiskey Tales

“You go places, you see things. Sometimes they ain’t good things. I saw a man kill his dog once.”

Alice only half listened. Whiskey Tales, her father called them: half true, half whiskey. The man called Ryder waved his arms as he described the dog murder. Dog-o-cide? she thought. Caninicide? She’d wanted to go to High School, where you learned that kind of thing. But instead she poured the whiskey half of the tales. Tails, she smiled.

Ryder flailed towards the empties gathered at one end of the bar. Her father noticed and pulled the tray to safety. “Easy, Ryder!”


* * *

Drafting Notes (or What’s that got to do with the picture?!)

It all started with an error. I looked at the picture and thought about the Easy Rider poster (blame my Saturday morning writing group, where one of the stories referred to it this week!). That led me down the path of the bad pun which forms the “punchline” in this story. It was only after I’d written it that I checked the poster and discovered that the niggling doubt at the back of my mind was right – the Easy Rider motorbikes were 2 wheelers. Anyway, the damage was done.

The second prompt for this story was my reaction to Sandra’s photo. She’s given us other pictures in the past and the first line of this story is a tribute to Sandra – she goes places, and she sees things. She’s also kind enough to take photos and let us use them as prompts.

Once I realised my mistake about the bikes, I was tempted to bin this story. However, I’ve developed a soft spot for Alice, so I can’t. She’s trapped in the world of her father’s bad jokes – they’re even rubbing off on her. She’s frustrated but not, I think, totally unhappy. I hope that both she and I can keep learning the lesson that happiness isn’t having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

62 responses to “Friday Fiction – Whiskey Tales

  1. Easy Rider Indeed… You crack me up!

    I like the character of Alice.

  2. Dear Jen,

    I like your patient way of flailing inexorably toward the punchline. A great story no matter how you arrived.



  3. Easy rider, Hah! No wonder you got this one stuck in your head. Good one.

  4. Great punchline (or tail of the story.) Love the title.


  5. Dear Jen,
    Fun, yet multilayered, story. I saw in Alice a sharp mind trapped by unfortunate circumstances.
    When I have an idea come to roost and refuse to leave I consider it a sign.
    Incidentally, my husband and I saw Easy Rider on our first date.

  6. This one’s a thought provoker… I say; take the girl out of the bar and let her go to school… Must be happening in lots of places around the globe..!
    On a cheerier note – I really enjoyed Alice’s personality; though a little suppressed, she has love in her heart.
    Loved the Easy Rider inclusion…!

  7. You shouldn’t get so hung up on something like the number of wheels. The picture is “inspiration” after all 🙂

    That being said, delightful, especially the punny ending. I do hope Alice gets to spread her wings and experience some of the world.

  8. Punchline or no, I loved your story with all its complexities… Alice’s quiet intelligence, her dutiful service, her father’s description of “Whiskey Tales,” Ryder… all of it. You set a scene, introduced real characters, and set everything into natural action. It didn’t feel at all like you were building up to a pun, but like you were simply building a world – and a subtly beautiful one at that.

  9. ha! you threw down the hammer! Nicely done.

  10. camgal

    great story all the way esp the punchline 🙂

  11. Thanks for the tale Jen, let’s only hope ‘dad’ knows when to stop and also let’s Alice break free.

  12. Ah, the puns are a flying! Whiskey tales is a great name for those booze-infused stories. A fun story!

  13. Grrroooaaannnnn!!!!
    Loved it!

  14. Pingback: Friday Fictioneers: DEVIL OF A LUCK #2 | TedBook

  15. The story leaves me wanting to hear more. I was especially drawn to Alice’s character and wondering what becomes of her. Nice work!

  16. Who cares about the two wheel thing! It was excellent, and you write about Alice with the conviction of someone who truly knows her character. Well done Elmo. 🙂

  17. I like all the hidden implications in the story, like why she couldn’t go to high school. Nice ending. 🙂

  18. petrujviljoen

    Loved this. Loved the inclusion of Easy Rider. Thought of the movie too when I saw the pic for this week. The only good movie Henry Fonda made. Forget the co-star’s name – Meatloaf? Did I say I liked this story?

  19. Loved Alice and I loved this line: “she poured the whiskey half of the tales”

  20. Every try cannot be a masterpiece, but the most important thing is to try. You have a good story Jennifer, even if it is based on an idea that you discovered was errant.

  21. Your sense of humor is right up my alley – he kind of reminds me of someone I know, the jokes may be stale but they still make you smile. Great job! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  22. Great, just GREAT, Jenn! The stuff of stories. Thanks!

  23. I liked it. Mine also was a first impression. Not at all what the picture probably implies.

  24. Loved your title and the story, but most of all I love Alice. Go girl!
    Well done

  25. Sarah Ann

    I really enjoyed this – I loved that last line – it’s a great pun. I sometimes find I’ve seen the wrong thing in a prompt, but the first story I think of is always the one that wins.

  26. H Jen
    I loved this story. A strong image created by the idea of the ‘whisky tales’ (the main tale snippet was intriguing and powerful) and a vivid protagonist.
    I’m really conflicted about the pun ending. As someone who tends to use this kind of pun-ch line a lot, I enjoyed it & liked the circularity that links the story and the picture very neatly.
    However, one of my other halves (I never said I was a mathematician!) felt that this story was almost too good for this type of resolution, if you know what I mean.
    Reading it left me on the one hand exhilarated, on the other a little envious and on yet another hand (?) ever so slightly disappointed – but I mean that in a good way.
    Thanks as ever for the exposition.

    • Nick, I want to thank you for your honesty. Sometimes it’s hard to give this kind of critique in case the person isn’t happy to receive it, and I for one really value those who take the risk and tell me what they really think.
      You have put into words exactly how I feel about this story. I love Alice, I like her story and I want to go into it more; it certainly doesn’t feel like just the set up to a joke. Ultimately, I kept the pun as the only (tenuous) link to the photograph, but I’m planning to come back to this story, flesh it out and probably ditch that ending in favour of something much stronger. Won’t be 100 words any more either!

  27. I’m glad you didn’t trash it. I love puns. I thought the ending rocked!

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