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…to the end of the daily growing story 

 now written with 467 prior 7-word sets

…get your name added as co-author!


How this began: For concise discipline, I recommend starting ALL writing with a 7-words-or-less branding line or billboard “story”! So, just for fun and practice, following is a fictional 7-words-or-less sentence-or-phrase-added-every-day story. Take your own 7-word shot in the comment window below (Incl. name/email): If chosen, you’re added as co-author!




A work of fiction by Hal Alpiar (ongoing) and co-authored by Lois Anderson (13 seven-word contributions), Viviane Philmon (2 seven-word contributions), Ken Cissel, and your name here!



She squiggles her arm above her head. In stifling darkness, her fingertips reach desperately. A hinge; she feels a casket hinge. Her heartbeat echoes off the cedar lid. Sweat swathes her forehead, arms and legs. She relives the events that led here. And she hears that child’s voice again.

Suddenly a muffled thump vibrates the box! Could someone possibly know where I am? The treacherous plot was being played out. Eyes open: blackness . . . is daylight gone forever? Another thud; this one is louder, heavier. She labors to breathe the dwindling oxygen. A gasp —AIR! I-I-I’m dying — I-I’m d-d-dead. A snowplow-sounding scrape grates beneath her.

“Wake up, Sally, y’all ain’t dead yet!”

She blinks, “Huh? Whaaat? Where AMI? Ain’t dead yet, whaa? What’s this place? What was that noise? Who are you?

“Hold yer water, Sally; you been dreamin’! An’, Jeeze, waddaya mean, who am I ? I’m yer dern brother, Marsh, that’s who! An’ that scraping noise WAS a snowplow!”

“Marsh? You gotta be kidding! Dreaming? Snowplow? But I heard that child’s voice again!” She was panting, blinking, and quivering non-stop. “Listen, Marsh: I was inside a casket!

His brow furrowed, he squinted at her. “Sally, you is one BIG head case! There ain’t no UNburied caskets ’round here! You been doin’ drugs or sumpin’? Jeeze!

“You listen up, brother: I’m totally sober,” she says looking forlorn, her voice jittery, “I’m tellin’ you the absolute truth here: I’m glad to know I’m still alive!” Rubbing her eyes in disbelief, “A snowplow.” How could a dream be so real?

“What child voice you talking ’bout, Sally?”

“The one I heard when I stretched. I heard a child cry out, STAR! I don’t know what it means, but . . . the shrill voice sounded like a warning, like something dangerous is on the way! Like remember that time when we were . . . little kids, and that horrible thing happened?”

“You mean when Roberta fell over dead? I don’t remember her yelling out anything.”

Sally looked exasperated; where was Marsh anyway? “No. Marsh, not Roberta; I’m talking about . . . that little waif that lived over yonder. What was her name, Tampon or something?”

 Obviously shaken, Marsh responded, “Name was Koty. She weren’t no wafer though, maybe overweight. I never thought she was thin, nope!”

“WAIF, Marsh — waif, waif as in neglected.  We ain’t talkin’ ’bout cookies, you half-wit!”

Marsh looked scolded; he sighed, “Oh, right! She the one lived with Tex somebody? I ‘member ’em; Koty and Tex, right?” He squinted, frowned and shifted his feet. Tex, hmmm, how’d Sally get on this? Wonder if she knows ’bout me’n Tex. I’d better get her off this subject. Uh. . . speakin’-a cookies, what’s yer fav’rit?”

Sally shot him a look of annoyance. Where did this dork brother come from? I don’t know why I bother asking; he’s useless. Damn that dream seemed real! J’ever figure what happened ta that Koty?”

“Tex bloodied her up, then left ‘er.”

 “Poor li’l ragamuffin. Messed up, wuz she?”

 “Yup, but t’wern’t no match fer Roberta.”

“Listen, Doofus, my death dream‘s the subject — Roberta, Tex’n wafers ain’t in the mix! Help me figure out what ‘STAR’ means!”

Then I suddenly remembered something about Tex. Something flashy . . . his hand maybe, or belt? He made some sex joke about Texas. I’ve got it! I remember his song: “The Star of Texas is Upon You!” He sang it while groping Koty, yucht! Poor kid; she din’t deserve gettin’ bloody!

“Koty,” Marsh ESP’d, “din’t deserve Marshal Tex! He was a good fer nothin’ SOB! Always singin’ some stupid song ’bout stars.”

Marsh’s comment rocked Sally on her heels. She gasped and clapped her hands together. “Hot dang, Marsh, y’all got it figgered! It was that Star of Texas song! How’d y’all know ’bout that song anyhow?”

“Shoot, Sis, I dint wanna hafta say! It’s not sumpin I wanna talk ’bout. He made me do things wasn’t right. Tha’s all; tha’s all; tha’s all, Sally! Just ferget y’all ever heard that song!”

“What are you talkin’ ’bout Marsh, murder?!” She squinted, cocked her head, and shuddered. “You’d better spit it out, Boy, y’hear? Y’know what y’know ’bout him for SURE?

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Marsh studied his boots. “Tex made ya do things to music! I ain’t talkin’ ’bout no dancin’ neither. Whenever that STAR song started, watch out!”

“Damn you, Marsh, stop jitterbuggin’ ’round, y’hear?”

“Made me touch’em; said he’d shoot me! He’s some kinda weird person, he is. Ain’t much choice when yer scared, y’know. B’sides, Sis, it . . . well, it . . . it tickled!” He laughed so hard, he doubled over. Another snowplow scrape erupted outside. “You Dingbat!”

Both laughed themselves to the floor. Sally tossed the fluttering script at him. “This’s one star’ll never git on stage!”

“HA . . . Coty? Tex? snowplows? Who’d buy THIS?!”

“Really . . . sometimes I wonder about Uncle John. Too bad he never learned to write.His stuff is just too far-fetched! Where’d you think he had Tex headed?”

“Well, knowing Uncle John’s scripts, probably nowhere. That coffin bit did spook me though. So, okay, where’s his next feeble effort? Hopefully not on the way to us. Wannabee playwright relatives can be tiring, yes?”

“You’re not kidding, Sis; hey, what’s this? This photo fell out of your script!”

“What, when I threw it at you?”

“Yeah; come here and look at this. Who does that look like to you? I mean you don’t hav’ta look hard! I can’t even believe it, can you? Just look at what’s in the background!”

“Well I’ll be a . . . what the hell? That’s a snowplow . . . pushing a-a- coffin!” She squirmed and quietly clicked her tongue. “If a picture’s worth a thousand words . . . Uncle John’s script c-c-could all be true!?

Marsh smiled and reached to her shoulder. “Listen, Sis, this is just a picture. You can’t judge his script by this. You know he was such a flake! Of course, it is, aaaa little weird.”

It’s way past weird, Marsh; it’s creepy.

Marsh laughed, “That like waaaaaaaay better’n Wendy’s? Okay, okay, I can see you’re serious. Maybe Uncle John set us up, y’think?”

Like snowplows pushing coffins happens everyday, right? I mean, c’mon Marsh; John’s a whacko!” She leaned into the photo and squinted. Marsh looked troubled; he rubbed his forehead. Sally grabbed his wrist in mid-rub: “MARSH! Did you hear anything I just said?”

 “Sure I did, Sally; it’s just that . . .”
# # #
 Unexpected door knocks jolted them to attention. They left the photo on the table.
 “I’m coming,” yelled Marsh, after more knocking. He opened the door: an FBI Shield!
 “I’m Special Agent Tuckerton, FBI, who’re you?”
 “My name’s Marsh Reeds; whassup, Agent Tuckerton? You got some problem going on here? Who you lookin’ for anyway, Agent Tuckerton?”
Listen, Swampgrass, or whatever your name is: Cut the attitude or I’ll run you! Now, here’s a photo of who I’m . . . “
“Marsh, who IS that at the door?” Sally calls out, irritated with the interruption. “We need to check out John’s papers!”
Tuckerton looks past Marsh for the voice-source. “Who’s that calling you?” he asks Marsh.
 Equally irritated, Marsh barks, “It’s nobody, Sis!”
“Hey, smartass, you gonna answer my question?”
“Listen, Mr. FBIguy, you got a warrant? Cuz if not. I hafta get goin’!”
“Whaddaya mean, nobody, Marsh? I hear someone . . .” Sally stumbles up behind her brother’s shoulder.
“Yeah, Sis; this’s Mr. FBI here; he’s . . . he’s lookin’ for somthin’ but won’t say . . .”
“Ma’am, I’m Agent Tuckerton, and I just. . .”
“Why, Agent, you should c’mon right in . . .”
“Wait a minute, Sis; this guy hasn’t . . .”
“I haven’t explained myself because your brother . . .”
“Oh, Agent, I understand; Marsh? he’s, well . . . you know how brothers are; c’mon in! Here, have a seat; make yourself comfortable. Y’know, Agent Tuckerton, you are kinda cute . . .”
“Hey, Sis, cut the crap, will ya? This guy’s got no business here, and . . .”
Sally tugged Marsh’s shirt, smiled and winked. She slithered alongside the agent, and hummed: “The Star of Texas Is Upon You . . .”
“Hey, where have I heard that before? That tune; that sounds familiar to me.”
Sally continues to hum two more bars. “Why, Agent, maybe you remember TEX somebody?” Her question suddenly captured Marsh’s attention too. Marsh moved closer, awaiting the agent’s response.
“Hmmm, Tex; can’t say that I . . . wait!” Tuckerton’s memory raced. “That name, that song. . . I once arrested a hummer named ‘Tex’. . . he was some weirdo cowboy, that one . . . Listen, I’m not here to answer questions! I wanna know ’bout this guy: John.”
“Y’gottabekiddin’ – that there’s Uncle John!” said Marsh. He and Sally studied the agent’s photograph. They exchanged puzzled looks. “Damn!” said Marsh. “Uncle John, the playwright, driving a snowplow!!!”
“Who’s next to him, Marsh, d’you know? It doesn’t look like anybody I recognize.”
“Dunno, Sis; it’s hard to tell, but . . . this whole Uncle John deal is starting . . . what’s your interest in Uncle John, Tuckerton?
“A fiction story he wrote maybe isn’t.”
“Agent Sweetie,” Sally said, “what’s that mean? Like whadda you mean by maybe isn’t?”
“His make-believe story’s got some teeth!”
“You saying Tex and Koty are real? Uncle John wasn’t making this stuff up?”
Marsh’s chin dropped as Tuckerton nodded glumly, “‘Fraid so, Ms. uh…?”
“Reeds. Sally Reeds. What exactly is this all about, Agent? Uncle John, y’know, wasn’t any criminal type! He was actually just a wussy playwright. Ask my brother here; he’ll tell you.”
“I don’t doubt you none, Ms. Reeds. It jus’ looks like he got…broadsided! Maybe bamboozledis a more appropriate word? An’ I’m just tryna figure it out.”
“But you still haven’t explained yourself, Tuckerton,” said Marsh. “Give us the ugly details!”
“Well, uglyis how Koty left Tex…and we think Uncle John was involved. This here incriminatin’ snowplow picture, for instance…plowblade samples prove it buried Tex alive. Either of you talk with your uncle?”


Koty sat on the bed sorting snapshots, tearing to shreds every photo of Tex. She grunted angrily; tears filled her eyes. One faded picture jumped out at her. She stood, bookended by Tex and John. She looked like a dime between nickels. She and John were laughing, but Tex… his sneering blood-thirsty look spoke volumes.
Dogbarks interrupted Koty’s guessing of Tex’s message. A late visitor was at the door. She scrambled to hide her photo shreddings. Koty’s Cocker barked calamitously at the chimes.
“Easy there, Joe,” she told her Cocker, “it’s just the doorbell…WHO IS IT?”
“S’me, Koty, John’s niece; let me in!”
Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark!.”
“I ain’t talkin’ to you; go away!”
“Please, Koty, Tex wasn’t my bloody friend.”
Bark, bark, barkJoe Cocker, stop barking!… and what do you want, John’s niece?”
“I just want to ask you something.”
“So ASK; I’m all ears here, Niece!”
“Koty, I think Tex killed Uncle John.”
Koty bounced up to answer the door. She cracked it open, clutching Joe’s collar. Sally turned her head to see inside. Joe barked again and growled at Sally.
“Can’tchew cage your cocker, Koty?” Sally shouted.
Koty opened the door and stepped back. Sally entered; Joe growled; Koty locked up. “So, okay, John’s Niece, what’s the scoop? Whadda you know ’bout Tex an’ me? And what are you doin’ here anyway?”
“Chill, girl!” said Sally, while watching Joe. Joe mellowed as Koty eased her collar-grip. “Name’s Sally, Koty; yeah, I’m John’s niece. I know you ‘n Tex were friends… and I know he beat you too. So I’m try’n find out what’s happening? Think you can shed some light here?”
Koty choked on Sally’s bombardment of news, and started to cry; Sally backed off. Even Joe Cocker skulked away from Koty.
“First off, I KNOW who you are; so let’s not waste each other’s time. Tell me whassup and be quick, Honey, cause I ain’t got time for BS!”
“Listen here, you little snotnose: I know Tex killed John and you killed Tex!! So stop with all the no-time crap!”
Koty backed up; Joe disappeared; Sally snarled. Koty squinted, thinking of the shredded photos. Tears still welled in her bloodshot eyes. She was trapped; Sally figured it out.
“Okay, Sally, I give; whaddayaneed from me?”
“I wanna know about Tex killin’ John…and I know you know what happened. My brother Marsh’n me found a photograph: Tex’n John driving a snowplow? Whass that? You think the law’s not on this? FBI guy’s askin’ questions ’bout the snowplow. You want I should send him here?”
“Course not, Sally; I got ‘nuf troubles…but alot more than seven words worth!”
“Seven words? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Aw, nothin’ –just sumpin’ I seen someplace. Listen, your Uncle John, he was okay. He was always around to help me. He’s the reason I went after Tex. When Tex, uh, took off after John, I knew he wanted to kill him…wiped out all doubt ’bout Tex’s sanity. I just couldn’t take his beatings anymore. Y’know, he wouldn’t care about breakin’ bones. When I saw him plow John under…Oh, Sally, I’m sorry, I can’t, this…”
Koty’s gushing now as Sally waits anxiously, and falls into the chair shielding Joe. Joe Cocker snarls, then retreats even farther. He yips and backs into the kitchen.
“Listen, Koty, I’m sorry but I just…just wanna know what happened to John. The plow thing…did Tex…did he?”
# # #
Agent Tuckerton examined the plow fragments carefully. He breathed deeply and scratched his head. The ME explained her theory, but…shoooot! “Howda dead guy blow a 2-ton snowplow? I can believe a hand grenade, but…with John already dead, WHERE’DIT COME FROM? You tryin’ say dead John tossed it?”
“I’m sorry, Pardner, I just don’t know. But you, Agent Nippin Tuckerton, should know! Certainly wasn’t Tex or John did it. Who else was involved with those two?”
“Thanks, Doc; you reminded me of someone. And I’m headed there now; see’ya soon!”
# # #
Sally answered her cell phone, “Whassup, Marsh?”
“Y’should know Nip’ntuck’s on his way over. Tell Koty he’s hot on her trail. He’s askin’ alotta questions ’bout her’n Tex. You might wanna get outta there quick?”
“Yup! Think’ll let Koty absorb Tex’s blood! I sure don’t wannabe on the spot. How ’bout we meet somewhere for coffee?”
“Suits me, Sis; Starbucks if you’re buyin’! Order me a Grande skinny carmel latte!”
“Got it. Speakin’ of skinny, I wonder… Marsh, any news yet what STARSTRETCH means?”
“Beats me; maybe a Starbuck’s Economy Special? Seeya’ there in ten, Sis; bring money!”


“Dingdong!” Joe Cocker’s barking his brains off. “Dingdong!”
“Just a friggin’ minute; I’m comin’!
“Dingdong! Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark.”
“Joe Cocker, SHUT UP! Dingdong! Who’s there?”
“FBI Special Agent Tuckerton; open up, Koty! I need to ask you some questions.”
Joe slunk away; Koty opened the door. Agent Tuckerton’s badge was in her face. “You Koty?” he asked, looking past her.
“Yeah!” The door chained, “you gotta warrant? Cause I’m busy shreddin’ murder evidence, y’know? I ain’t got time for your questions.”
“Make time! And if you wanna warrant… I’ll get you one in forty minutes!”
She opened the door and stepped back. Joe Cocker gave two barks, then disappeared. Striding away, she spoke over her shoulder, “Whachuwanna know ’bout, Mister FBI Guy, huh?”
Tuckerton bit his gums before answering her, “I know you killed Tex, Koty, but… I want to know about John Reeds.”
“John’s niece Sally putcha up to this?”
I’M asking the questions here, Koty! Understood?”
Joe Cocker barks at Tuckerton’s threatening manner. “QUIET, Joe! Agent, you got no right…”
“I got every right, here, Koty; y’hear? And if you start giving me sass, you gonna be one sorry little lady. Tell me your John Reeds Murder Story! First off, where were you that day?”
Tuckerton paced the room staring at her. Methodical paces; squinty stares; clenched jaw; silence. Straddling the kitchen chair back, Koty sat. She sighed, her eyes locked on him. Tuckerton stopped and looked at her, “Well?”
“Brrrrrriiiing!” The phone. Joe Cocker’s barking again. Koty looks at the phone, then Joe. “Bark, Bark, Bark. Brrrrrriiing! Joe, chill! Hello? Yeah, he’s here now askin’ about John. Right; see you there in ten minutes!”
“WHAOOOH! You’re not going anywhere right now!” Tuckerton stood, arms folded, blocking the hallway. Koty ran back to the kitchen door. Barking, Joe Cocker scampered out behind her.
Yelling over her shoulder, “Says who, y’all?” Joe Cocker fell into step alongside her.
Hey, you come back here now, y’hear?” He weighed the chase vs. poking around. Poking seemed like it’d be more productive.
# # #
“So, whadda’ya think, Sally? Koty’ll come here?”
“Well, yeah; I suggested she ditch Tuckerton.” Marsh got up to get another coffee. “Heat mine up too willya, Lil Brother?” As Marsh gets coffee, Sally gets louder. “Y’think Koty’ll flip out the FBI guy?”
“If what you said is true, yeah! I mean, if she killed Uncle John… Tuckerton’s gonna know and she’s gonna run! HA! Speakin’ of…here she comes, with Joe!””
Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, bark!
“What’s with the yip-yap? THAT’S Joe Cocker?
Koty’s panting as she ties Joe up. Marsh and Sally, watching, sip their coffee. Koty rushes in, eying Sally hopefully: “Whassup?”
FBI guy’s questions…thought we oughta talk.”
She slides next to Sally, opposite Marsh. He glares over his coffee cup rim. He never had much use for her. Sally nods sideways at Marsh; he stands.
“Sis, y’all want sumpin?”
“You just… no!”
They watch Marsh walk off; Koty squirms. Koty text-messages somebody, then looks up. Sally gaping, is shocked at her ambivalence.
“Koty, where’d you leave that FBI guy?”
“My living room; you said urgent tameetcha!”
“Yes, I DID say ‘urgent;’ living room? Whaddayanuts, Koty? Tuckerton’s in your living room? He’s gonna dig through your whole house!” 
“Ohmagosh, an’ I left all those shreddings…and photos of your Uncle John an’…” “WHAT photos of Uncle John?…Hey, Marsh! C’mere aminute; Sally’s got photos of John!”
Marsh approaches the table as Koty squirms. He plunks down his coffee…”WHAT photos?”
“My snapshots of Tex plowin’ John under.” Palms over eyes, Koty was now wimpering, “He killed John and then started singin’!”
“Let me guess,” challenged Sally, “the starsong?”
“Yeah. Jeeze, how did you know that?”
Disregarding the question, “Who killed Tex, Koty?”
“You workin’ for that agent, or what?”
Marsh, bug-eyed, leaned across into Koty’s face.
Y’hear Sally? She asked you ’bout TEX!
Koty backed away, sniffled, rubbed her eyes. Nodding Marsh back, Sally squeezed Koty’s arm. Koty was crying now, and shaking uncontrolably. She coughed, and spurted…I d~i~d it.”
Outside, Joe Cocker started barking at something. It was Tuckerton; Koty looked panic-stricken. Marsh strong-armed her to the back door. 
Joe barked deleriously as Tuckerton burst in. “Sally? Where’d Koty go? She killed John!”
“Why, Agent Tuckerton, would you think that?”
“If she wants her dog back…call! You tell’er that, y’understand?” He stomped out.
Marsh and Koty returned to Sally’s table.
“Mr. FBI Guy’s got your dog, Koty!” 


“That photo: you, Tex, and Uncle John?”
“Whadda you askin’, Marsh? That’s us. So?”
Marsh leans forward and rubs his eyes. Koty’s beginning to get on his nerves. Sally looks shell-shocked, but sips her coffee. Marsh scowls and gets in Koty’s face.
“Listenup, Stupid, FBI thinks you kilt’em both! Tell us the truth here: did you?
“I want my dog back. Where’s Joe?”
“Did you kill Tex and John both?”
“Course not! The FBI’s got my dog? Sally! Truth: the FBI’s got Joe Cocker?”
“That Agent Tuckerton’s got’em, Koty, waitin’fer y’all. So, did you kill my Uncle John?”” 
“Me? Hell No! Tex plowed ’em under!”
Whaaaaat? You tellin’ us the truth, Koty?”
“How’m gonna get mah dog back, Sally?”
Whadda’ya talkin’ bout Tex plowin’, woman?
“Was when Sally was in that coffin!”
____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ .
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