Making Something Out of Nearly Nothing

Paint smear

Something stinks

Yul Brynner


“Dropped my pick.”

53 responses to “Making Something Out of Nearly Nothing

  1. The only visible trace of the crime was a dirty crimson streak on the door. To an untrained eye it could pass as a paint smear, but not to the aging detective with the Yul Brynner coif. The tweaker fidgeted under the seasoned watch of the suited cop, his fingertips dancing across the table edge with a nervous staccato tapping. His need for another fix clawed his stomach. His pits itched stale and wet. The cop stared at the kid. “Something stinks here, kid, and it’s not just you.” The suspect’s eyes sought something to look at in the room, something other than the gaze of the lawman. He reached jittery fingers to an object on the floor, a pointed sliver of wood chewed and frayed at one end, and placed it in his mouth. “Dropped my pick,” he told the cop with a smirk tightening his trembling lips. The detective plucked the toothpick from the punk’s lips. Bagged it. Sealed it. And signed it. “Thanks for the DNA, kid.”

    • You have a unique talent for packaging a whole story in such a small space. You brought me right into the scene. Nice use of the prompts. Great work Jeff.

    • Jeff, amazing how could you write a full story in a single paragraph. Great.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      Thanks for the fine writing out of nearly nothing, kid.

    • I want to be the first tell you that I lied when I said I’d do the 100 word thing for the next challenge. My piece is 170 words, which is over the limit, perhaps by as much as seventy words. I can, and will, do better next time. You have my (written) word on that.

  2. So I had this gig in Buffalo at this watering hole called the Greased Wheel and I was in the middle of “The Weight” when I dropped my pick. I bent over to get it and this guy who plays claw-hammer banjo with a Yul Brynner haircut walks up and says, “Something stinks.” So I’m thinking he means me so I get ready to bash his forehead with the butt of my Telecaster when I see this go-go dancer standing behind me with a face like paint smear and said her name was Fannie, or Annie. So I spent that night in the backseat of her Pinto trying to take a load off, Fannie…or Annie.

    • Any story with a Go-Go dancer has my attention! I liked the non-chalant intro, ” So I had this gig…” and love “face like a paint smear.” Those Pinto wagon were quite roomy back there in their days. I think you just tree-ring dated the both of us.

      • “Face like a paint smear…” Dayam that is an outstanding line!

      • Right Jeff, my annual rings seem to be expanding lately. I’m old enough to remember playing in the mid-sixties with go-go dancers on either side of the stage. Needless to say I often missed a few notes and dropped my pick a few times.

    • Waldo, great funny story. Short, sweet and witty.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      You brought four of the five prompts to life in your first two sentences. Besides that, you entertained me.

    • I saw your posting about three people getting published who took BWW. Let us know who they were and the names of their books, so we can all read them!

      Stop dropping your pick!

      • Ann, The people from our group who recently had novels published are Valerie Twombly, MaryAnn Opal, and Cindy Glenn, all BWW alumni. Cindy’s will be out in April. I’m doing well too, I had my name published in the newspaper twice already; shoplifting and grand theft auto.
        The group seems to be on the wane, so I hope to recruit a couple folks from the current class.

      • G-Pa, That is Ann’s Beginning Writer’s Workshop.

    • Hi Waldo, since we seem to be in a reflective mood here, let me share something I wrote a couple days ago. I try to write 100 words a day, don’t know if this is a better day or not:

      Showing my Age

      Pinball machines with steel balls. Juke boxes with scratchy black forty-fives. Girls with pointy chests. No iPads or iTunes or sports bras. Three TV channels plus UHF. AM radio with an under-dash reverb in my sixty-five Fairlane. Black shoes, white socks, narrow belts. Louie Louie blaring as we sang dirty made-up words. A pack of Chesterfields rolled up in a sleeve, and a condom wearing that tell-tale ring in my wallet. Knowing which girls put out and which just made out. Life was so much simpler before that guy landed on the moon. The world went to hell after that.

      Jeff Switt, 2-12-2014

      • Funny, I was sitting in a bar having a beer last year and all of a sudden I realized I hadn’t seen a juke box in a long while. I wondered out loud and everyone looked at me like I had a fish growing out of my head. I like that post.

  3. Krystyna Fedosejevs

    Perfect Face

    The teenager pointed to his oily face.

    “A little more this way,” he said extending an imaginary line with an index finger from the applied paint smear under his right eye.

    The woman leaned towards her worktable. Dabbled into an array of shimmering, creamy colors on a palette. Mixing shades of ebony, olive green and indigo. “I will fix it in no time,” she replied. Forced a truncated smile.

    A four-legged creature whizzed by. Hid within folds of the woman’s layered skirt.

    “Something stinks,” the boy insisted.

    “Paints. I make them traditional way. From herbs, mud, other natural matter.”

    “Can’t be, stench too strong. Must be something else. “

    “Stay still. I want to highlight your perfect face.”

    The woman’s hand jerked as she applied artistic strokes. She placed the brush down by her palette. Bent down. Lifted the corner of her skirt. A dark animal scurried to the adjoining room.

    “Pet skunk,” she said. “Doesn’t like strangers.”


    The artist finished her job.

    “So what do you think?” she asked holding a mirror for him.

    “Not bad. Thank you!”

    “Your welcome. You have the good looks of Yul Brynner.”

    “Who’s he?”

    “He was an actor.”

    The boy left, soon reappeared.

    “Dropped my pick,” he said to the burly man sitting at the face painting station. “I think I left it here. The woman would know.”

    “What woman? Only me. Never saw a pick, sorry.”

    A claw extended from a sleeve of the man’s pirate costume.

    “Happy Halloween!” he hollered. Winked.

    • You have a talent of presenting characters and things where you would least expect them. Is that called surrealism?

      • Hello Waldo,
        Yes, I believe it is. Also, my wacky imagination.
        I am fascinated with the subconscious, mysticism, mystery, the unknown.
        Thanks for commenting.

    • What it seems, isn’t. Reality vs perception vs mystical. Neat story

    • Kriystyna: as usual your imagination in well ahead of reality. Neat story.
      although I don’t know about a stinking skunk coming out from under the woman’s skirt.

      • My dear Lando, the skunk didn’t just ‘come out’ from under the woman’s skirt. The critter scurried past them, then decided to hide under the skirt.
        But was it a woman or man under that skirt? Only the skunk knew.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      Your imagination knows no bounds. And there’s always a trick up your sleeve!

      • Not always. Sometimes, there’s one up … other times not even one trick.
        Darn! However, I do aim to please.
        Thank you, Cheryl aka Shaddy (which do you prefer?) for commenting.

  4. Making something out…. February 2014
    (please, excuse the mistakes)

    Years ago, when the Internet was still in diapers, Clark was asked to give a talk in Thailand about the impact that electronic communication will have on newsprint consumption worldwide.
    After his presentation, he and 5 other members of the local newsprint producers association, were invited by the host to a night out in Bangkok which included a visit to a theater followed by a meal and ending at a house of questionable reputation.

    At the theater they saw a play that was almost an exact replica of The King and I, including the main actor who resembled Yul Bryner to the “t”. However, this play was more colorful, with a good number of dancers wearing intricate clothing wrapped around their bodies and complicated headwear.
    One particular detail that called Clark’s attention was the extra-long nails of the lady dancers which, at closed range were disgusting to see for they looked like claws. However, from the distance, those nails looked as silvery slim fish moving on the air following the delicate moves of the hands.

    After the theater, they all went to a well known restaurant where Clark ate the most spicy food he has ever eaten in his life which transformed his intestines in a ball of fire for the following three days. At one point, his tongue and lips were so hot that when, in desperation he reached for a drink at his martini in order to alleviate the pain in his mouth, he dropped the dripping pick still holding three fat olives right on his lap, smearing his light color pants on a very showy and distressing place.

    Finally they finished their meal and, following the schedule, the group were taken to the questionable house mentioned at the beginning of this story. Once inside, the men were surrender by a group of “happy” ladies eager to call their attention.
    However, something stank so strongly in that place, that Clark couldn’t take it a minute more and he asked to be excused.
    He came out of the house, took a taxi to the hotel, went to his room and put his tongue inside a glass full of water.
    He never knew what happened inside that house.

    • I like your descriptions of ladies and food and finger nails. Nice writing. You have the beginnings of a really spicy story here.

    • Lando, your reference to electronic communication’s effect on newsprint consumption strikes home here. My husband is a retired journalist, loves newsprint in any form. We’ve had lots of long talks about this phenomenon.
      Great story, Young Man!

      • meegie, then we can say that your husband and I have something in common in which newsprint is the connecting factor. I at the beginning when newsprint is produced and he at the end when the newsprint is put to use by journalists. Small world.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      You have a very picturesque feature to your writing. “…nails looked as silvery slim fish moving on the air following the delicate moves of the hands.” I can see it.

  5. LOL! Now I want to read the story about the guys who stayed.

    • Jeff, according to Clark, who is a good friend of mine, nothing much happened at the house. The 4 fools paid for a couple of rounds of fake drinks to the girls and came back to the hotel with $200 less in their pocket each.

  6. “Something stinks,” Bubba Dave yelled, “It stinks bad.”
    “Yeah, I know, Yul Brynner died.” Billy Don said as a tear fell on the newspaper, now ten years old.
    “Give it a rest will ya Billy Don. He’s dead already, has been for years, He ain’t coming back. I talkin’ bout that Limburger cheese sandwich you’re munchin’ on. I think it’s burnin’ my nose hair.”
    “I know they said he’s dead, but I heard that they heard him claw at his casket as they were puttin’ him in the ground. Shoot, they buried him alive Bubba Dave.”
    “Come on, we got work to worry about, not some dead bald guy, who lives with Elvis and Hitler somewhere in South America. Where’d you drop my pick at anywho?”
    “Rite under that paint smear they claim is a number eight for the number eight mine shaft.” Billy Don fired the lantern as they descended into abyss, “Ya know, I think I might have black lung.” He wheezed as they walked.
    “Shut up and grab my pick,” growled Bubba Dave, “and don’t use it on your nose this time.”

    • Yeah, the smell of that Limburger cheese can really make you sick and it should be prohibited to be taken down in a mine as part of a sandwich.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      As always, I enjoy your sense of humor. This story is fun from the first word to the last.

    • What a hoot, Walk! Thank you! I walked itsy-bitsy footsteps all over your entertaining story and now have Limburgeritis.
      Oh, here’s something I’d like to share: in my folder of hilarious comics, spanning several decades, there’s one about this cheese. A fellow returns home from work. Always takes a shower before dinner. Last scene, he sits down a the table and his wife serves dinner. Limburger casserole!

    • “Come on, we got work to worry about, not some dead bald guy, who lives with Elvis and Hitler somewhere in South America.”

      Excellent! Elvis and Hitler in South America. Love it 🙂

  7. Thats close quarters for such a cheese sammich!

  8. My apologies to the medical profession for the inaccuracies with the terms used. Ann, forgive my mistakes with quotation marks. I didn’t review my lesson.

    The chemo had taken its toll. Sally didn’t feel like having any visitors, but her aunt Bertha had come from California all the way to this small North Dakota town.

    “Oh, Sally, honey I’m so sorry, you’ve lost all.” Bertha said as she came through the bedroom door.

    “Don’t be sorry aunt Bertha,” signed Sally. “And don’t call me Sally, I’m now Yul Brynner and I love my new hairdo. Don’t you.”

    Bertha decided to play along with her niece who had had cancer now for two years. This was the fourth round of Chemotherapy and the cancer was finally showing signs of remission.

    “You are only 16 you don’t know anything about Yul Brynner.” Laughed Bertha.

    With a big grin Sally said, “I beg your pardon, as long as I’ve been cooped up in this room I’ve had time to watch hundreds of movies and I’ve watched all of Yule’s movies. The King and I, The Ten Commandments, Anastasia, The Magnificent Seven, you name it I’ve seen it.”

    “Well, well it does sound like you know your Brynner movies,” replied Bertha.
    “Now what’s that bandage on your arm?”

    “Oh, I dropped my picc and now I’m using a port.” Responded Yul, “ My markers are better and I’m determined to claw my way back to good health, but I think I’ll keep my hairdo.”

    “Something stinks when a beautiful girl like you has to suffer like this.” Said Aunt Bertha.

    “I know Auntie, but I’ve learned a great deal through all of this. Put me in a trivia contest about movies and I’ll win hands down. Oh and look at this.” Said Yule.

    “What, that paint smear?” Asked Berta.

    “Paint smear this is modern art Auntie. This shows my moods. This one is when I’m blue. This one over hear is when I’m thinking about my family. This yellow one is for the middle of winter when I need a little sun.” Replied Yule.

    “Well, I have to say for someone who has been so sick you have a wonderful attitude.” Said Bertha.

    Sally laughed. “What else can I do? Positive thoughts, prayer, and be surrounded by loving family. I know I’m going to make it Auntie. I plan to go to my prom next spring and I think I’ll keep my hairdo. “

  9. Cheryl aka Shaddy

    Brandon’s tooth was hurting like hell. To save a few bucks, he went to the Crestview Dental Center’s walk-in clinic. Within five minutes, he was in an operatory.

    Brandon looked up into Dr. Decay’s nostrils. It wasn’t pleasant.

    “Oops. Dropped my pick.” The dentist bent down to retrieve it off the floor. Brandon sat up. He noticed the doctor’s head was bereft of hair although his nose had an abundance. Eat your heart out, Yul Brynner, Brandon chuckled to himself.

    “Ouch.” Dr. Decay’s face reappeared with a blood-red streak like a paint smear running down his upper lip. “Damn it. HIt my nose on your chair arm.” He swiped his white sleeve across his face. His hand holding the dental explorer loomed like a claw above Brandon’s face.

    “Don’t put that in my mouth,” Brandon growled.

    Dr. Decay leaned close to Brandon’s face. “Kind of anal, aren’t you? Not to worry, Buddy. The floor was cleaned last week. Now, open wide.”

    “Yuck, something stinks,” Brandon nearly gagged.

    “Sorry, old pal. It’s my breath. Ran out of toothpaste last month. I keep telling my office manager to run out and get me a tube but she’s just too fricking busy, or so she says.”

    Brandon pushed the dentist out of his way and ran for the door. As he shoved desperately at the door, his eyes popped open. He was sweating like a pig, but still in his own bed. It was only 3:00 and still dark.

    • Cheryl, that was a funny story that made me laugh. I think I read that you are the manager in a dental office. I hope that Dr. Decay is not one of the doctors in your staff.
      Good story.

    • “Dr. Decay leaned close to Brandon’s face. “Kind of anal, aren’t you? Not to worry, Buddy. The floor was cleaned last week. Now, open wide.”

      The first time a dentist uses the word ‘anal’ around me, I’m pretty much gone. I don’t care how clean the floor might be 🙂

  10. Thanks, Cheryl. Had a good laugh. I just went to the dentist today. Glad I read this after my visit.

  11. Dentist dropped his pick and picked it back up going on about his business. LOL Makes me remember the days when dentists didn’t wear latex gloves or masks.

  12. The 110 Word Story site is back up with a new photo prompt. Krystyna and I participate there frequently. If anyone would care to try the 100-word format the link is

  13. If Yul Brynner made bald sexy, Dom Antonelli returned it to its rightful place. Dom sat, all three hundred seventy pounds of him, tightly wedged into a metal deck chair on the veranda at Frank’s Riptide Bar. Casting darting shadows from high above, sea birds dipped down to sample the pieces of crab that dripped from Dom’s 5X cotton wife-beater, the front of which bore the paint smear of the artist who works in gluttony. An exquisite interplay of the hues nimis, ardenter, and forente, telling a story of intemperate desire.

    “Another beer, an I dropped my pick,” Dom slurped in the general direction of a waitress who heroically ignored him. Lacking a pick, he managed to extract the claw meat from his 52nd crab with the heel of a beer soaked sneaker.

    In the front seat of the radio truck parked next to Frank’s Riptide Arcade, Sargent Mick O’Leary, FBI, took another bite of his over-stuffed tacquito grande and leaned a bit to his left.

    Something stinks, he thought.

  14. Hi GAry – I think you got into the feeling of it superbly, Jeff

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