What would you do, Beverly Lucey, if I sang out of tune?

(You may think this is our elusive cowboy Gary Clark . In spite of the similarities, Yosemite Sam shoots from the hip. Gary is known to shoot from the lip. Anybody seen him lately?)

Ahhh Literati!

New-comer to our site Beverly Lucey has discovered the wisdom I read on a bumper-sticker: Money isn’t everything but it keeps the relatives in touch. Beverly has entered our First Annual Peggy Dobbs  Write-of-Passage contest, in which each participant is required to use the phrase, “”I swear, it’s not too late” somewhere within 750 to 1,000 words.

This means, if you win and use the word limit, you have become a professional writer earning 50 cents a word.  Contest winner takes home $500! Interested?  check it out: http://www.awordwithyoupress.com/category/contests/peggy-dobbs-1-announcements/

Welcome, Beverly, to the Towers that are A Word with you Press! Please see if you can influence the judge (moi) by inviting your friends to leave laudatory comments after your story to add to the laudatory comments that I am sure will be posted by our regular writers.

Here is:

Yosemite Scam


by  Beverly C. Lucey


My sister Judy points to a vase I picked up at the First Presbyterian Craft Show last month. She sighs. “I can’t even remember getting something just because it’s pretty,” she says. “I didn’t get lucky and marry someone like Ed.”  She’s fidgeting in the chair, trying to cross her legs and look casual but her pantyhose are slippery and can’t hold the pose. After five tries she gives up and looks around my kitchen again. Appliance spotting. “Is that new?” If I know she’s on her way over I do a quick pick up. Today she’s caught me off guard and I’m thinking the new food processor looks enough like the old one that I won’t have to listen to the usual.

“I’ve always wanted one of those Kitchen Aid mixers. What did you do with your old one?”


“I could use some of that, you know. Why can’t I get dibs on the stuff you just throw away?”

“You don’t cook, Judy. You don’t bake. You don’t have the same size bed, so I don’t have sheets to give you. If there’s something special you want for Christmas tell me. I’ll buy it new. Just for you.”

“That’s not going to help.”

Judy tells me the only way she can get rid of her credit card debt is to borrow some money. Start up money, she calls it, the three times she’s mentioned it so far. Judy trots out the same old points whenever she gets herself into a corner. She’s not often out of one.

“I can’t give you anymore money. It’s not worth the hassle with Ed.”

“Why does Ed have to know everything? You work; you’ve got your own money.”

“You work, and you don’t. Explain to me why that is again?”

She rolls her eyes. Our mother did that. Our mother who was never satisfied. Our mother who always started sentences with, “If only….”

Our mother lost every single friend she ever had by holding cosmetics parties, Southern Living parties, Naughty Nightie parties. Mom issued no invitation without expecting to make money on it. Judy takes after her.

“I need five thousand dollars.”

Plop. She says that as though it’s something I would write a check for.  I don’t think she’s ever asked for more than $250. The amount makes me think that she’s in big trouble. What if there are ‘goons’ involved. Shady people who make threats about whacking a sister’s kneecaps as a reminder of who is top dog. I watch too many crime shows.  I must have made a weird sound because Judy jumps up and thwacks me on the back as though I’ve got a cheese puff caught in my throat. She’s laughing.

“Honestly. You’d think I asked for a lot of money. Come on. I’m trying to take advantage of an opportunity that could change my life. You keep saying I need to focus on something new. Well, I’ve finally got a shot. My credit cards are maxed out. I might also be a little bit behind on some other bills.

“A little behind?”

“But. BUT,” she talks over me. “I’ve got an opportunity, and only a little bit of time to come up with the investment money.”

“There’s a man involved, isn’t there.”

“Why do you say things like that to me? You think I’m brainless? Desperate? This is a real opportunity. Bradley says that if we combine our resources, we can get in on the ground floor of the Mariposa Development Corporation. It’s much cheaper to live out there. And we’d get an apartment free because the venture capitalists are looking for a couple as caretakers.”

“Bradley, huh. Who are you talking about? Where is this supposed to happen?”

“Right in Yosemite National Park. The regs are going to be changed about development, and Wyoming will be perfect for us.”

“Do you even know what a venture capitalist is?”

“I hate that tone you trot out.”

“Well, I hate to tell you that it’s Yellowstone National Park that’s in Wyoming, not Yosemite. Jeez, Judy.”

“I meant to say Yellowstone. I did.” She looks a little startled, as if maybe Bradley might not be perfect. “Please. Please don’t ruin this for me. I’m happy. I want a new start. We’re getting married, and I’ll have a new name. It will be as if I never existed here. And I promise it will be the last time I ever ask you for anything.”

“Judy, look,” I say. “If I come up with the money…”

“Yes! I knew deep down you want me to be happy no matter how much you try to make me feel miserable. I knew you didn’t grow up to be a bitch like Mom.”

“If I come up with the money, I want you to stay. I want you to pay off your debts. I want to help you work out a budget. “I swear, it’s not too late.” Judy, I really want to help, but…”

“I hate my job. Maybe I didn’t mention that I already quit. This morning. After Bradley showed me all the folders last night. I promised I could get the money. He trusts me. Do you know what that feels like? Not like Ed who polishes every nickel and thinks flowers are a waste of money. Not like Ed who wouldn’t even listen when I told him I could make a mint on home pocketbook parties. I bet he never even told you. A measly thousand dollars I asked him for.”

“He never told me.”

“I’m your sister. Help me. I mean it. I won’t ask you for anything else. Ever. You might not even see me again. You probably even think that’s a good thing. Then you can live your perfect little life without your sorry ass sister reminding you how selfish you really are.”

I write the check.

It is the last time I see my sister.

Sometimes helping is precisely the wrong thing to do.


24 thoughts on “What would you do, Beverly Lucey, if I sang out of tune?

  1. Mac Eagan says:

    Hiya, Beverly – welcome to the playground.
    This is a well-written story with a good pace to it. I don’t know who Judy is in your real life but I am pretty sure I have met her or someone just like her. Oh, the bizarre logic of the chronically dissatisfied. You nailed it perfectly.
    Looking forward to hearing more from you but I do have one suggestion. As hard as Thorn tries through his story introductions to make himself seem clueless, he’s actually pretty sharp. You don’t have to do any special formatting of the prompt phrase to show you included it. He will see it. I actually recommend against highlighting the prompt, as the formatting distracts from the reading just a little.
    Some of the best stories I have ever read on this site blended the prompt into the story in such a way that I got to the end and forgot there was even supposed to be a prompt.
    Just my two cents and glad to have you here.

      • Mac Eagan says:

        If I were smart enough to size up the competition I would probably quit now while I am ahead – there’s some good stuff flowing in.
        I am actually working on my first entry – ever since I got a better job I seem to have less time for the important stuff.
        And Mari is finding she has less time, as well. She says she may enter a story and has already come up with a great twist on the prompt. If she doesn’t write something by mid-November I may have to use it myself – to honor her, of course.

  2. Beverly Lucey says:

    Thorn asked me to leave a wee bit of info on myself at the end of this story. You don’t want a writer’s bio, or anything so let me just say I’ve been published on line and in anthologies–the most recent being :

    First prize for fiction at Estonian National Broadcasting, Spring 2013

    Short work of fiction published in the Canadian anthology Friend. Follow. Text., October 2013

    Short work of fiction published in the British anthology Scraps, spring 2013.

    Also, I’m very fond of prompts, so I appreciate it when there are calls for submissions based on them. Suddenly new characters and plots turn up, and it’s fun to watch them emerge. Knowing that the piece wouldn’t exist without the prompt pleases me, no end.

  3. Gerri Davis says:

    Josemite Scam ~ great title for this well-written story. Doesn’t everyone have a Judy character in their life, or at least heard of these characters. I love stories that carry a universal theme.
    Congrats Bev, love your writing. ~

  4. FJDagg says:

    Welcome, Beverly! jAnd thanks for your story. Characters are the soul of fiction (or maybe this isn’t fiction…) Whatever it may be, the sisters come to vivid life here. Very well done! Hope to see more soon.

    • Beverly Lucey says:

      I’m happy to report I am an only child, with no one finagling for what will likely be my tattered estate. But it’s a good point about the wonder of Truths in Fiction, since some folks will only read non-fiction because other wise they think they are being taken

  5. Miryam says:

    You really nailed the dysfunctional sibling drama… very good depiction. It made me uncomfortable, (as I have experienced a ton of dysfunction) which means to me that you met your objective. I loved the real ending…..
    Welcome Ms Lucey! I’m so glad you joined us!

  6. Bill Ward says:

    Excellent story, Beverly. Way to go. You nailed it. Fun dialogue, recognizable characters, archetypal relationship. Very nice.

  7. Leah says:

    You captured perfectly the complexities of a sibling relationship and how permanent they are in our lives. I admire how the story is painful, yet humorous in its rendering of that pain. You are an ACE at dialogue…the pacing is spot on. Wonderful read!

  8. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    Beverley, good strong dialogue here and a story that moves along so smoothly the reader is hooked until the end of the ride.

  9. tlrelf says:

    This is exceptional! I second Leah with the family dynamics and dialogue. You accomplish quite a bit in such a short space. I love vignettes like this – especially since it resonates off the page. I wonder what happened with the sister. . .Now THAT is skillfully wrought!

  10. Parisianne Modert says:

    There is both a frustrating humour between siblings and rivalry which knows guilt by the one whose life has worked out and the dishonest pleadings of the one whose life has not worked out well. I think we all know both of these sisters in someone we have met, yet the story is new in the particulars. I really liked the disjunction of how the sister who is begging and scheming to defraud her sister gets Yosemite and Yellowstone mixed up. Here is an archetype of family dynamics reminding us of how dysfunctioning and enabling families can be.

  11. Ken Weene says:

    You remind us that there’s always a dream waiting to take us for everything we have. Not to worry, however, Judy will be back. She and I just need a few bucks to make a go of our new diner on the edge of the Scenic Salton Sea.

  12. Michael Stang says:

    This is written in the closet, giving the skeleton her due. What satisfying fiction. The writing seamless; flawless. The check not so much, fiction that is. So welcomed to the site, Beverly. Here, come sit by me. Let that magic rub off.
    Good luck!

  13. Cheri A says:

    Hi Bev,
    I’m going to try this again. I posted earlier today, but after I clicked what I thought was post, nothing appeared on the comment list and my message had evaporated into the ether.
    This piece had me from the beginning and kept me reading all the way through. Everything is spot on as far as I can see. The character of Judy is so well-drawn–one of those people who always want more and more and for some reason end up with less and less. It’s more than chasing rainbow (or the latest “deal”); it’s about acquiring stuff as a means to an end or to identity–regardless of how unhealthy or detrimental as those things appear to others.
    My favorite bit of characterization is that panty-hose encased leg of hers that won’t stay put. I see it as sausage like and a perfect symbol of her struggle to manage her desires and her life. Both are overstuffed–like her body–with things she might do better without.
    Well done, once again, Beverly, and good luck!

  14. Candance says:

    Brilliant dialogue and imagery. Still chucking over Judy’s geography and am swearing off pantyhose lest I ever find myself challenged to hoist a leg over. Keep ’em coming, Beverly.

  15. Tiffany Monique says:

    I wanted to slap that sister. Well done. I wanted to slap the OTHER sister. Even more well done. The heroine/anti-heroine plays out beautifully. Without meaning to, you start fussing at Judy, and thinking about how she’ll be back. Then you want to throttle the protagonist for writing the check, even though you secretly wish Judy really wouldn’t come back (and subsequently hate yourself for thinking such a thing). Man, we’ve got some AWESOME entries in this contest!!!

  16. Diane Cresswell says:

    Wow this was really thought out well and just the right perspective between the two sisters. I could feel my energy dropping with the one asking for money. Sounds like from the story that these two have had the battles for years. Night and day – you got it wonderfully.

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