I was talking about Turtle Feathers, one of my 99-cent short story collections, so here’s a sample from one of the stories. I’ve posted it before, but I confess I get a kick out of it, so you just have to deal with it again. Or skip it, if you want to. I’ll never know.
“Home on the Range”
excerpt — by Marian Allen
She didn’t even have the grace to look ashamed. She froze when I opened the door, but then she met my gaze and deliberately took another bite of pie. Her big brown eyes were hard and challenging, and I had no doubt that this was the wild cow I had been warned about.
I knew I couldn’t let her know how frightened I was.
“Is it good?” I said.
“Yeah,” she said. “Be better with some ice cream.”
She picked up a glass of white liquid and took a swig.
“…Is that what I think it is?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you think it’s wallpaper paste. But what it is, is milk.”
“You drink milk?”
She smacked her lips. “Just like mother used to make.”
“You drink MILK?”
“Hello? I’m a cow? What do you think little cows get big and strong from drinking–martinis?”
“I don’t even want to know where you got it.”
She snickered. “Actually, I bartered it from the dairy down the road.”
“Bartered with what?”
She gave an evil grin and pantomimed taking a drag on a smoke–and I don’t mean tobacco.
“Milk from contented cows,” she said.
Well, there was just nothing to say to that.
“Don’t stand there holding the door open,” she said. “You weren’t born in a barn. Come in. Sit down and take a load off. Have some pie.”
“Nice of you to offer,” I said, dryly.
She cut me a slice, put a fork on the plate, and slid it across the table.
“One piece of rhubarb pie,” she said, “with a side order of sarcasm. You want some milk with that?”
“No, thank you.”
“I wouldn’t be so prissy, if I were you,” she said. “Nothing wrong with lacto-vegetarianism, if you get your milk from an organic co-operative or something. Or a volunteer.”
I must have looked as horrified as I felt.
“Wait till you’re asked,” she said. “I didn’t mean me. Anyway, Mamie Jane–or should I say, ‘M. J. Wilder’?–you really can’t afford to keep writing these vegan books, can you, unless you just want to do it as a hobby? Your sales are in the tank–”
“How– What– You can’t be reading my email!”
She smirked. “Hey, I’m homeless, not clueless. If you don’t want anybody to hack into your wi-fi, you ought to put up a firewall.”
With that, I picked up my plate. I nodded to the remains in the pie pan. “Take some and leave some,” I said, and I meant it to sting. I went back to the house with her rumbling chuckle at my heels.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character gets unwelcome business advice from an unexpected source.