Clean-Out #1LinerWeds #StoryADayMay 16

Julie of Story A Day May challenges us today to write a story entirely in dialog. Since I’ve tried this before with indifferent success, and since I couldn’t hope to meet the standards of Dan Antion’s “If we were having a beer” series, I pass.

Instead, I’ll use a one-liner given me by Pete Laberge and one by one of my daughters. Oh, and one from my mother: “I won’t say who it is, but her initials are Sara Marian.”

Story A Day


by Marian Allen

Pete wiped his watering eyes and blew his nose.

Steffie swept into a crouch behind a pile of 3000 magazines, her gun ready to blast.

“Ivv you cad kill by siduses add leave the rest of be, by all beans, shoot.”

She concealed her gun again and returned to the search. “Can you blame me? I never heard a honk like that. It sounds like a tender and dulcet cross between a June Evening Staten Island fog horn, and an 18 wheeler with a stuck air horn, in 5 pm traffic.

“Betweed the dust id here add the polledd outside, how cad you dot sdeeze?” He gestured to the window, half-blocked by some of the 6000 books stacked in the small room. “I bead, good lord, look at all those trees puttid their sex parts all over the porch!

“Focus, Pete. Do the job and get out, remember? Or have your years handling agents made you forget the principles of good field work?”

“You wooudd be. Wooudd be deeply. As a batter of fact….” Pete pointed to a puce and magenta paisley shawl draped over a stack of multiple copies of Albert Payson Terhune’s collie novels, “…dis is add adoboly.”

Anomoly. It wasn’t the first time her facility for foreign languages had helped her in conversations with her handler.

Pete lifted the corner of the shawl, revealing a niche created by careful stacking. In the niche was a small stuffed dog. A toy one, not a taxidermied one, although that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in this house. The effect of Pete’s revelation was somewhat spoiled by his widened eyes and sagging jaw.

It was twenty minutes before either of them touched the dog. Neither had been alive during World War Two, but General Patton’s “booby traps for booby troops” caution had been drilled into them during training. This dog looked like a booby trap waiting to happen.

Norma had been Pete’s handler, one of the best, in her day. After retirement, she had gone in for jewelry making and art. And, apparently, hoarding. Pete and Steffie were here now to retrieve three items she had whispered to him over the phone, shortly before the Meals on Wheels deliverer reported her unresponsive to a notification of intended delivery.

Green glass stone. Onyx ring. Pair of microchips.

Three small items in a sea of random.

But Norma had called Pete, and her watchword had been anomoly. “Look for the anomoly. Then look for an anomoly inside that.”

When they were as sure as they could be that the dog wasn’t a bomb or coated with contact poison or laced with needles filled with nerve toxins, Steffie picked it up.

“Here’s an anomoly,” she said. “When you hold it in the light, it has different-colored eyes with brown lenses over them. You can see the slight difference in the brown.”

“As if,” said Pete, “wud eye is black add the other wud is greed?”

“Could be. Could be.”

Pete winced as Steffie popped out the lenses, then plucked a green stone and an onyx ring from the dog’s eye sockets. On the back of each was a tiny black dot.

She put the dog back in its niche, slipped the stone and the ring into a plastic bag and tucked it in Pete’s inside jacket pocket.

“Good job,” she said. “Let’s go. Let’s go. What are you waiting for?”

Pete picked up the dog and zipped it inside his jacket. “Bight be bore to fide,” he said. “You dever doe, right?”

Steffie swept the shawl off the stack. She’d use it to cover the remains of the enemy agent she and Pete had caught there before them. It seemed respectful to Norma, somehow, to cover the corpse. “Right,” she said.

Pete wiped his watering eyes and blew his nose.


My apologies to Steffie fans, that her violence took place off-stage. It just wasn’t a violent sort of story. Better luck next time, y’all.

This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s weekly blog hop, One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner or just like them, follow this link.

MY PROMPTS TODAY: “6000 Books, 3000 magazines, a ton of art and lapidary supplies, and closing down an apt and a house. Complete with Atlas, the toy stuffed dog. (In real life this happened. There was a tragic death, as one of Pete’s ‘Controls’, Norma, died at home semi-peacefully, of old age. Pete is mourning and closing up.) Steffie can find the “green glass stone”, and the Onyx ring”, pollen

If you liked this story, you might like my other stories and my novels. Support an author: buy a book and leave an Amazon review. I thank you, and my cats thank you.


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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Clean-Out #1LinerWeds #StoryADayMay 16

  1. John Holton

    May 16, 2018 at 11:16am

    That line about “their initials are…” is a favorite of mine.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Dan Antion

    May 16, 2018 at 1:59pm

    It’s still a good story. Not every story has to have Steffie kill someone. Although, I often think of calling my inner-Steffie as I drive to work. Thanks for the mention.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 16, 2018 at 6:05pm

      I’ll miss your 1-Liner Wednesday badge. I’ve enjoyed pasting it on my blog these past weeks. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • dan antion

        May 16, 2018 at 6:58pm

        Thanks. It’s had a good run. I’m interested to see what we have to choose from for the coming year.

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. pm laberge

    May 16, 2018 at 2:17pm

    Sent a copy to Lesley, Norma’s daughter. And Rick See below.
    Well done.

    And it is SPRING. I like spring. My allergies? Not so much. It is ok, they dinna like fall, either!

    Although, it was devillish Dan who had the 3000 magazines. Norma had 150 purses! And tons of clothes.
    Dan also had 6000 books. And some antique furniture that went to charity, and 42 boxes of household goods.

    We never did get around to counting Norma’s books. But she was a High School English Teacher. Back when teachers used to actually teach. So she had an excuse. It might have been MORE than 6000 books. She also had over 120 paintings. Most of which she did herself, and which were very good. The manager at Value Village wanted to know if I robbed an art gallery AND a library. He was drooling, because art is usually sold by weight. These would be sold individually, for $$$$. He asked if he could have one. I said “Sure, pick any one. The rest you must go buy at Value Village.” He seemed to know where it was!

    We gave one to Stan, our lawyer, for his office. His wife seized it for the home living room. Lesley has a few, as do I. My nephew Mike got a few, inherited from his father Mike, who just died of a heart attack last summer.

    Norma also had 288 Lectures. Note that the Ferengi ONLY have 285 Rules of Acquisition. I miss her and her wit and charm. She was a real Steffie!

    She may have had that actual shawl. I cannot say for fear of breaking the Official Secrets Act.

    Norma would not want an uncovered dead corpse in her home, and if you made a mess, clean it up. I think that is lecture # 256. Or maybe lecture 1 !!!!

    Lesley now owns ATLAS the small stuffed dog, who has no jewels in him, but she and Rick know how to control me. Have you ever had a hard, stuffed dog, with the map of the Earth on him, flung into your jewels? Just call it a reason for me to behave! Owww. Works, too. Do not tell Steffie. PLEASE. This is Top Secret, and not for Blonde Librarians either! LOL!

    I honked so loud the other night, that I scared both Buddy the Cat, and Rick the Bouncer. Rick wants to record me. He says there are people who will PAY for that noise!!! ?????????????

    Anyone want a recording?

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 16, 2018 at 6:06pm

      Sure, I’ll take a recording of your loud honk. Sounds like it would make a great burglar alarm. Or car alarm. Or car horn. Imagine the road rage that would quell!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • pm laberge

        May 17, 2018 at 2:08am

        Rick and I will work on that the next time I go Jimmy Durante!

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. joey

    May 27, 2018 at 9:49pm

    I hate that I missed Steffie stories! I’m tryina catch up!

    Also, two words: Zrytec & Flonase!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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