The Last Line

I’d like to throw out a challenge to F.F.F. members (and others who might want to join in the fun).

Take the last line of someone else’s story or poem and make it the beginning line of your story or poem – in 100 words or fewer, of course.

Tell us whose ending you’re using.

— Ann Louise Truschel

196 thoughts on “The Last Line

  1. Ann-Louise Truschel

    A la Jane …

    Fair is Fair, Unfair is Unfair

    “It just isn’t fair.”

    “Life isn’t fair, Delia. Nobody always gets everything they want.”

    “But it was my lottery ticket. I accidentally threw it out. I didn’t mean to do it.”

    “And Larry found it, turned it in and collected the $10 million, Delia. But look on the bright side. Larry proposed to you right afterwards, and now that the two of you are getting married, you can share the wealth.”

    “But he knows I don’t love him, that I only said ‘yes’ to get my share of the $10 million.”

    “And that’s not really fair to Larry, is it?”

  2. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Channeling Jane again …

    Life Isn’t Fair

    “It just isn’t fair.”

    “Alfredo, life isn’t fair. There are no guarantees.”

    “But it WAS guaranteed!” Alfredo argued. “That’s why I signed on! The Captain promised.”

    “Oh, please. You actually bought that sales pitch?”

    “Yes and so did a bunch of other guys. How about you? Why did YOU come if you didn’t believe what the Captain said?”

    “I just wanted an adventure.”

    “Well, you got that. All the rest of us got is a lot of empty real estate that will never amount to anything! What can we do with it? I’ll never again believe anything Captain Columbus says!”

  3. Jane Reid

    From Ann Louise. Haven’t much time for F.F.F. these days, hope to get back to it more in a month or two.

    Ways to Get High by Ann-Louise Truschel

    “I’ll never again believe anything Captain Columbus says!” snorted the Taino.

    “Says” was an over-representation. The resident of the island later known as Hispanola and the man who came in the big canoe with white wings had tried to communicate by signals and scratching pictures in the sand. Understanding was uncertain at best.

    Still, they traded some fresh food which the newcomers badly wanted, and in exchange had taken a funny-tasting drink. The Taino thought Columbus said it would enable them to fly. Instead, most of his group, after some upsetting possession by spirits, were now ill and thoroughly grounded.

  4. Russell Conover

    I’m channeling Ann-Louise, via Jane above. Thanks for delivering A.L.’s story, Jane.

    Preparation

    Instead, most of his group, after some upsetting possession by spirits, were now ill and thoroughly grounded.

    They’d just been normal college students trying to prepare for final exams. Since the material was so unimaginably difficult, they thought a call to the supernatural might telepathically transmit all the answers into their heads.

    But when they summoned a greater being, Casper the friendly ghost arrived and spoon-fed them chocolate until they puked. Casper meant well, but no way the students could test, and their instructor banned them from class. They moaned about their certain upcoming failures.

    It’s college. Whaddya expect–intelligence?

  5. Emma Baird

    I’m channeling Russell:

    Disappointment

    It’s college. Whaddya expect–intelligence?

    Macey had hoped for amazing things from her student career. Leaving behind her one-horse town, she had envisaged lectures delivered by charismatic intellectuals, group discussions where intelligent opinions were exchanged, and late night essay writing, fueled by strong coffee…

    …and perhaps the odd recreational drug to facilitate the creative process.

    So far, only the recreational drugs had proved accurate. The lectures were dull, the group discussions lack lustre and the late night essays non-existent. In fact, she had yet to write an essay.

    But then the University of Pluto had been her seventh choice.

  6. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Apres Emma …

    Transfer

    But then the University of Pluto had been her seventh choice. She’d decided to go there only because her boyfriend Harold had picked it.

    “And now he wants to transfer to Neptune U!”

    “Wouldn’t your parents allow you to transfer there too?”

    “It would take me light years to move all my stuff. Do you have any idea how big a rocket my father had to hire just to transport my clothes here?!”

    “How about visits? Couldn’t you see each other during vacations?”

    “I guess that’s a possibility. Every 248 years, Pluto moves inside Neptune’s orbit for about 20 years.”

  7. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Aprés Len

    Justice

    Justice she deserved.

    Why would anyone poison such a sweet old lady? Everybody seemed to like her except for her son, the drug addict who’d lived off her all of his useless life.

    “Sis, you know I didn’t do it!”

    “Of course, Rod, but you made her life miserable even though you knew she was dying. You might as well have administered the lethal dose.”

    “But I didn’t!”

    “I know, Rod. I did. She didn’t want to suffer anymore, and I didn’t want to take you on as a burden. This way both Mom and I got what we wanted.”

  8. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Channeling Jane …

    Be Careful What You Wish For

    Instead, most of his group, after some upsetting possession by spirits, were now ill and thoroughly grounded.

    “This type of demonic possession is NOT what we paid for! We wanted to be possessed by the psychic souls of people who spent their lives in pursuit of pleasure! Instead our bodies were invaded by spirits with unsettled feuds, criminal behavior, and bad deeds to pay back. We want our money back!”

    “Sir, you are all masters of your lives. If you’ve allowed evil to enter your lives, negative spirits attach themselves and drive off positive and benign auras. You are doomed.”

  9. Russell Conover

    I’m channeling Ann-Louise from 2 days ago.

    Against the Wire

    “You are doomed.”

    Over my dead body! You may think that editing meticulous manuscripts is not a job for the faint of heart. OK–I’m with you on that. But just think how satisfied I’ll feel after I prove you wrong and produce a flawless copy.

    But wait. What’s this? An extra ten pages to be edited that go into the manuscript in some random order? Argh–I’m against a deadline here! Just when I thought I was in excellent shape to finish early. I’ll end on time somehow, but there’s always an adventure.

    Crud. I never saw that coming.

  10. Jane Reid

    From Russell. This is not fiction. Perhaps it is catharsis.

    Murphy’s Law, Chapter I

    I never saw that coming.
    Our recent relocation was plagued by mishaps. A week before we were to vacate our old house, the power lines went down. We moved to a motel and went back daily to pack by daylight.
    The trip itself went well; our new car was a joy.
    The furniture was delayed. Finally it came, and with difficulty we hired help for unloading. The help arrived, and so did a storm that drenched our helpers and our belongings.
    This morning the cold, wet weather turned sunny and 80 F. The car’s fan and air conditioning quit.

  11. Amy Friedman

    Ann-Louise, this is in response to your request.

    “The car’s fan and air conditioning quit,” I said, reaching down to pop the hood.
    The garage guy leaned over and propped the hood.
    “When’d that happen?” he said around a toothpick.
    “About 15 minutes ago,” I said.
    “You drove here with a busted fan belt?” he said.
    “No, not fan belt, fan. You know, the air system,” I said tightly.
    He leaned in again and pulled out a tattered bit.
    “Your fan belt’s busted,” he said.
    I grabbed the manual and popped out of the car.
    “Show me where you got that from,” I snapped.
    He glared at me.

  12. Janette Jorgensen

    I’m following a couple of previously threads – you might recognize them

    You are doomed. The car’s fan and air conditioning quit. It’s 88 degrees and bumper to bumper on the Beltway. The driver has taken off his shirt, slipping it over the seat back so he won’t stick. You’re bra-less. You rail against clothing norms. You coax the driver into the right lane and slouch down, away from the voyeuristic stares of truckers and SUV drivers. Now your T-shirt is flung behind you.
    Action triggers memory. You’re shirtless, playing Frisbee with the guys. The soccer game runs closer to your corner of the college field.
    This time the shirt stays off.

  13. Jane Reid

    Anne-Louise, apparently it’s a known fault in this model The dealer will make it right, but can’t get but can’t get us in until next week. The whole relocation has been a continuing example of Murphy’s Law in action. Hence my prolonged absence from FFF.

  14. Emma Baird

    Channelling Janette.

    The Back Squat with Bells On

    This time the shirt stays off!

    At the 2015 State Finals for Mr Universe, muscles flexed and veins popped. Dwayne was a modest soul, but his undercover venture into the world of illegal steroids had taken him down this route.

    This time, he had to convince people of his strong man credentials which was why he was now oiled up, half naked and sporting a dodgy fake tan.

    The back squat was his nemesis. He watched in trepidation as they loaded up plates on the bar until the weight exceeded 500lbs.

    Good job he’d gone full undercover. His system buzzed.

  15. Amy Friedman

    Some of you might recognized Robert Heinlein’s short story “Waldo, Inc.” as the inspiration for this.

    His system buzzed.
    “Comiiiiing!” a female voice trilled.
    Waldo permitted himself a smile as the well-muscled visitor approached the viewscreen.
    Bobbing gently in his tank, his massive bulk cushioned by the watery gel he’d designed, Waldo watched the visitor’s face approach the viewscreen.
    Perfect specimen – utterly perfect, Waldo thought to himself.
    As he pushed back slightly, the door hissed open, and the visitor stepped in.
    With a blink, manacles materialized on the visitor’s wrists, linked by a bar to ankle cuffs.
    Waldo drifted to the controls, started the first subroutine and settled back.
    By tomorrow, he’d be a new man.

  16. Ann-Louise Truschel

    a la Amy

    Caught

    He glared at me.

    “Honest, Officer. I was just moving the car for my girlfriend.”

    “Really?”

    “Yeh. She gimme me the keys.”

    “You sure your girlfriend gave you those keys?”

    “Sure, I’m sure. How else could I get them?”

    “Where does your girlfriend live?”

    “Just around the corner.”

    “Address?”

    “I don’t know the number. I just know the way to her house.”

    “What’s her name? I’ll have dispatch look up the address.”

    “Well, she’s not exactly my girlfriend.”

    “So you don’t know her name?”

    “Uh, no.”

    “You know who REALLY owns this car? The PD.”

    “Bait car?”

    “Bait car.”

    “Shit.”

  17. Russell Conover

    I’m channeling Ann-Louise’s “Transfer” from almost a month ago. Time flies …

    Window of Opportunity

    “Every 248 years, Pluto moves inside Neptune’s orbit for about 20 years.”

    The aliens’ eyes glimmered with hope. “Perfect!” One rubbed its six orange tentacles together, slime oozing out.

    “What are you talking about?” their captive choked out over his gag.

    They cackled, looking at him. “We’ve been waiting for the most efficient time to drop off our prisoners in the far reaches of the solar system. This was meant to be!”

    “Couldn’t you just write some flash fiction instead? I have to live!” He tried to convey his desperation.

    They sneered. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? In your dreams.”

  18. Amy Friedman

    Thanks Russell … here’s my 100.

    “In your dreams,” George spat, scrubbing the grill.
    “It’s not like I’m asking for much – just a few hundred,” Sam said, glaring at George.
    George turned to meet Sam’s eyes. “Sam, I’m sorry – I just can’t spare it.”
    “What kind of brother are you?” Sam hissed. “C’mon. You just grilled ribeyes – ”
    “This afternoon was special! And I’m not going to serve my family crap!” George said.
    “Oh spe-cial!” Sam sneered. “Especially when we’re about to lose the house.”
    “Truly?” George asked as he sank into next chair. “That serious?”
    Sam slumped. “I didn’t want you to know,” he choked.

  19. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Après Emma

    The Perfect Man

    His system buzzed.

    “Damn!” she said. “Another alert. Can’t you get it to work right? I’m always getting alerts and having to send product back! I have a customer pick-up in 15 minutes!”

    “I have a rebuilt unit that I can reconfigure. I’m sure I can get it to work in this system.”

    The engineer immediately grabbed the replacement unit and tinkered with it. “I think I made all the proper adjustments.”

    “You think? You’d better be right. My customer just arrived.”

    “Mrs. Donaldson, we have your order ready.”

    “Oh, he looks scrumptious! Are you ready to go, Handsome?”

    “Moo.”

  20. The Perfect Bull? by Jane Reid

    “Moo.” Gertrude was aghast. A prize-winning cow, she had met plenty of bulls; her farmer didn’t believe in “that nasty frozen stuff.” The males she met were big, conceited and boastful. Often, according to the standards of their breed, they were also beautiful.

    This guy, however, was something else. He was huge. Yes, he was beautiful,
    But no getting around it, he was blue, a beautiful summer-sky blue.

    Now her owner was talking with the tall man from Wisconsin.

    NO! They wouldn’t. He was too big. Too blue.

    But the man only laughed. “Babe? Nope, wouldn’t work.
    “Babe’s an ox.”

  21. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Channeling Jane …

    The Perfect Revenge

    “Babe’s an ox.”

    “Joey, she’s overweight, chunky, plump, but she’s not an ox!”

    “Whatever. She’s HUGE.”

    “Pick whatever pejorative you like, but stop saying it to her face. She’s trying to lose weight, and making fun of her doesn’t help.”

    “I call ’em as I see ‘em.”

    “Well, stop calling me about her!” and Donna slammed down the phone.

    Later that afternoon, the phone rang again.

    “Hello,” Donna said, hoping it wasn’t Joey again.

    “Did you hear?” Jill said.

    “Hear what?”

    “Joey’s dead, crushed to death.”

    “How ever did it happen?”

    “He was teasing Babe mercilessly. She sat on him!”

  22. Jane Reid

    From Ann-Louise:

    Huh?

    “She sat on him.”

    “What? That can’t be right. She seems like such a nice, refined lady. What did he do to her?”

    “Nothing. She does seem refined, even reserved. But there was no choice, there were too many people in the car. She couldn’t help it.”

    “She couldn’t help it? Poor lady. Was she sick?”

    “Not at all, she’s the picture of health.”

    “Then why would she do such a disgusting thing?”

    “Disgusting? I think he was delighted. “

    “But why would he – wait! What did you say?”

    “I said, ‘She sat on him.’”

    “Oh. I thought you said ‘spat.’”

    * * *

    NOTE: I first wrote this about a cruder misunderstanding, then decided to temper it for the sake of my fellow Last-Liners.

  23. Amy Friedman

    Frick and Frack are loud and loquacious today. 100 words.

    I thought you said “spat.”
    You mean like shoes?
    No, like spitting. You know, ach tooie ping.
    That’s disgusting.
    Well, think of spit-shining. Wonder if that had anything to do with spats.
    Shining shoes with spit? Or fighting about it?
    You’re giving me a headache.
    OK, so we ARE arguing about spit and spats. Both shoes and fights.
    Don’t forget spitz.
    Spitz?
    You know, those little dogs.
    Spitzes aren’t little – they’re huge! Haven’t you ever seen a Husky?
    How can a Husky be a Spitz? They don’t spit!
    Now you’re REALLY giving me a headache.
    Well, you should be clearer.

  24. Russell Conover

    I’m channeling Amy’s piece, which was inspired by “Waldo, Inc.”

    Transition

    By tomorrow, he’d be a new man.

    Literally! For centuries, Thomas had lived in this robot body, unable to experience the emotions of a human. While his life had been somewhat fulfilling–attractive robot wife, two munchkin mini-me’s, a decent manufacturing job, and so on–he really felt like something was missing.

    But how to regain those emotions?

    Luckily, an experiment was available to change willing robots into humans. Trouble was, the three robots that had tried so far hadn’t lived through it. However, he owed it to his robot friends.

    Sometimes it’s hard to take that big first step.

  25. Russell Conover

    Now I’m channeling Amy’s story, which followed one of my works. OK–confused yet, like I am?

    Secrets

    “I didn’t want you to know,” he choked.

    “And why would you not tell your own mother that you won the jackpot lottery? Our family’s finances were ruined!” Edna was simmering.

    Cam gulped. “I know. It’s just that … ”

    “That what? You can’t bear to share just a few of your mountainous winnings with your family? Shows how much you care.”

    “That’s not it!” Cam insisted. “I was going to surprise all of you with a month’s vacation to Europe. Ten countries, awesome sights … ” he trailed off.

    Tears formed in Edna’s eyes. “Oh, Cam. I couldn’t have asked for anything better!”

  26. Emma Baird

    Channelling Russell here:

    A Double-Edged Coin

    “Oh, Cam. I couldn’t have asked for anything better!”

    Edna, Cam, his four siblings, their spouses and significant others and 10 children aged from three months to 17 set off on their grand European tour.

    Cam discovered he’d forgotten just how argumentative his family could be close-hand and how, despite their collective financial mismanagement, they still thought they should be staying in four-star hotels and eating at Michelin-starred restaurants.

    On the last night staring up at the sky above the Acropolis, he looked at his dwindled stash of euros (small denominations only).

    “Heads I stay here, tails I go home.”

  27. Rejoice Denhere

    Channeling Emma

    What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

    “Heads I stay here, tails I go home.”

    Cam flipped the coin and watched it as it landed on the ground. He could hear faint sounds coming from the restaurant where his family were having a meal. It was only when they were ordering a second bottle of champagne that they noticed his absence.

    “Where did he go?” Edna asked with concern.

    Paul shrugged. “Don’t worry about him, he’s a grown man.”

    “He can’t have just left without saying good-bye.”

    “Stop worrying!”

    “Actually, maybe we should worried,” someone piped up.

    Edna raised a quizzical eyebrow. “What are you trying to say? What do you know? Has something bad happened to him?”

  28. Ann-Louise Truschel

    à la Rejoice

    Disappearance

    “Has something bad happened to him?”

    “No, Mother. Dad went to the store. He’ll be back in an hour.”

    “But he’s been gone for so long.”

    “Not really, Mom. He just left.”

    “I’m so worried.”

    “Don’t work yourself up, Mom. Lie down and rest. When you wake up, he’ll be here.”

    The old lady leaves for her bedroom.

    “Sis, is Mom always like this?”

    “Periodically. When she wakes up she’ll have forgotten all about it – until the next time.”

    “Will she ever remember?”

    “I don’t think so. She’s been like this ever since Dad walked out 45 years ago.”

  29. Russell Conover

    I’m channeling “Caught” by Ann-Louise. And as a friendly reminder, my story ending with “Sometimes it’s hard to take that first step” still needs a continuation …

    Language

    “Sh*t!” Amy said with a giggle.

    “Amy! Where did you learn that word?” Sue stared at her four-year-old daughter.

    “I just heard Daddy saying it with his friends.”

    Sue simmered. “I’ll be right back.”

    She was ready to give her husband a blood bath. When she neared the garage, she listened to the chatter.

    “Those ARE nice as sh*t!” a male voice said. “She’ll love ‘em!”

    Curious, Sue peeked out the door, and gasped. Roy, her husband, held the biggest bouquet of flowers. “Happy Anniversary, sweetie!” he smiled.

    “You’re sweet,” she said. “But that mouth will get you in trouble.”

  30. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Après Russell

    Family

    “But that mouth will get you in trouble.”

    “I saw your brother do it!”

    “You know what I’ll do to you if you turn Lenny in!”

    “He stole money from that ‘Mom and Pop’ operation. And I happen to know that Lenny broke into a dozen different stores around here.”

    “You willin’ to get your lights punched out just so’s you can rat out my brother?”

    “There’s a big reward for info about those burglaries.”

    “Big?”

    “Big!”

    “My friend, you’re a good citizen. You’ll have my protection when we collect that reward. I always knew Lenny was a bad boy.”

  31. I Married a Bad Boy by Ann-Louise Truschel

    I always knew Lenny was a bad boy. My parents told me not to marry him. But I didn’t listen.

    Our life together started out great! We lived in a beautiful big house, drove expensive cars, and ate at exclusive restaurants. I never asked where all the money came from.

    Then the IRS came after Lenny for tax evasion. It seems his income was from drug money.

    The Feds took Lenny into custody and started freezing his accounts.

    Now, I live alone; I’ve lost everything – except for some accounts the Feds missed. Lenny was bad, but he was rich!

  32. A Lost Love by Jane Reid

    Lenny was bad, but he was rich. Although the Feds took most of his ill-gotten gains, I didn’t need to go on food stamps when he was arrested. There was some jewelry in a Swiss safe-deposit box, some accounts in the Caribbean – yes, Lenny left me well-provided for, although that was probably the farthest thing from his thoughts.

    Just yesterday, I got a letter from Lenny. He asked me to engage one of those high-powered defense attorneys for his next appeal.

    Ha! Catch me spending any of my money on that loser. My new boyfriend is richer and sexier.

  33. Ann-Louise Truschel

    Apres Jane

    A New Man in her Life

    My new boyfriend is richer and sexier. Gil has all the attributes Ron didn’t.

    Ron was my high school sweetheart. We “went steady” starting in ninth grade, never dating anyone else throughout high school. We enrolled in the same college. Then things got rocky.

    Gil asked if the relationship was working out with Ron. I said I’d tried different things but nothing changed.

    He said, “Why do you want to try anymore?”

    Then he said, “Want to go out?”

    I thought about it for a day before I said, “Yes.”

    It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

  34. Janette Jorgensen

    Parenting (après Ann-Louise)

    “It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

    “Which decision?” My sister asked, glancing over at her grandchildren.

    “What? Sorry. Did I say that aloud?”

    “Barely. Come on. Inquiring minds …”

    “I’m looking at these little ones thinking about their parents squaring off for a divorce. I wouldn’t handle it half as well as you.”

    “Glad my facade is holding.”

    I put my hand on her arm. She smiled wanly.

    “Children teach you to allow for messes.”

    “Really? Well, still, I’m glad I didn’t inflict my own messiness on helpless creatures.”

  35. Amy Friedman

    Channeling Janette. 100 words.

    Domestic Relations

    “Well, still, I’m glad I didn’t inflict my own messiness on helpless creatures,” Don said.
    John turned to him. “Like children?”
    Don laughed. “No, like husbands.”
    John’s mouth quirked upward. “Husbands are helpless, aren’t they?” he said.
    “Mine? Totally,” Don said. “Completely incapable. Can’t wash a dish, bag garbage or take it out. And forget ever doing his own laundry.”
    John rolled his eyes. “You have got to be kidding.”
    “Ho ho,” Don said. “Don’t even ask.”
    “Sounds like a truly lazy man,” John said.
    Don smiled. “In a way it’s OK – means I get to do things my way.”

  36. Ann-Louise Truschel

    A la Amy …

    The Worth of a Man

    “In a way it’s OK – means I get to do things my way.”

    “Won’t you miss him?

    “Like a root canal! Larry was more burden than asset. And the pig weighed 500 pounds!”

    “Well, he did take out the garbage.”

    “Whoopee! Most of it was his anyway. Wrappers from all that junk food he ate – and I paid for! And the only reason he picked it up was to make a path to the refrigerator!”

    “I guess I can understand why you wanted to get rid of him.”

    “Made a tidy profit too. Mrs. Lovett* gave me $2.50 a pound.”

    * * *

    * Sweeney Todd’s girlfriend

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