Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Liar, Cow, Cardboard Box



WRITING PROMPT: Matchup #19
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Write a story featuring a pathological liar, a cow, and a cardboard box.

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13 thoughts on “Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Liar, Cow, Cardboard Box

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  4. Evelyn

    Ha! Very clever postings. Now for those who have rotten taste: "Anchovy Heart" Part II
    ——
    Angelo’s dining room was deserted except for a couple chatting over a half-eaten pizza. I peered around a column of cardboard pizza boxes and spotted a balding man, alone in the kitchen, lifting a fresh pie from an oven.

    “Angelo?”

    The balding man paused in mid-lift and turned toward me. “Angelo’s not here. Can I get you something?”

    I was here to find clues, not lunch, but I needed to play the customer. “I’ll take a slice of the pie in front of you.” I stepped into the kitchen and glanced around. In two deft strokes, the balding pizza chef excised a wedge of pizza from the pie and slid it on to a plate. Not an anchovy whisker or strand of mozzarella strayed off the edge. “That’s an unusual pizza cutter you’ve got there.”

    The pizza chef held up the instrument, a semi-circular blade with a wooden handle mounted perpendicularly to its center. “Angelo swears by these antique-type cutters; imports them from Italy. They’re kind of a sacred cow to him.”

    Where’s the rest of the crew?”

    “Angelo’s been gone since Brian Reed went missing. Julie’s out sick. Dave’s delivering pizzas.”

    I was surprised to hear Brian Reed’s name, but decided to pursue it directly. “I’d read that Brian Reed worked here delivering pizzas before he hit it big. Did you know him?”

    “Yeah, I’m a huge fan. Too bad about him and Angelo.”

    “You think Angelo’s connected with Mr. Reed’s passing?”

    “I was hoping I was wrong, but Angelo and Brian have been feuding for years. Angelo wouldn’t let Brian date his daughter. He didn’t trust musicians. Brian and Marcie eloped. Ever since, Angelo’s hated the guy. Then Brian hits number one with ‘Anchovy Heart,’ and Angelo thinks he deserves some of the royalties. I think that pushed him over the edge, being that Anchovy Addiction is our house special.”

    “Have you contacted the police with your suspicion?”

    “I got no proof. And, like I said, I was hoping I was wrong.”

    Something smelled fishy; I decided to throw him some bait. “How does that song go again? ’Anchovy heart, love of mine, flavor of life throughout time.’”

    “Yeah. Beautiful.”

    The next time I saw the pizza chef, he was in handcuffs. The trial surfaced the truth about his motive: his obsessive love for his former girlfriend, Marcie, now Brian’s wife.

    After the pizza chef was sentenced, York called to congratulate me on my hunch-rule accuracy. “How did you know you the pizza chef was a pathological liar?”

    “The ‘huge fan’ didn’t know the words to ‘Anchovy Heart.’”

    York breathed a sigh into the receiver. “Sad story…another woman’s heart stolen away by a musician.”

    “He couldn’t have stolen my heart.”

    “Why is that?” York asked.

    I considered telling him the truth I’d hidden for years: the first moment his pale blue eyes met mine over a dissected cadaver, my heart belonged to him. But, I decided to say something less revealing.
    “I’m allergic to anchovies.”

  5. Abby DuPont

    "Wayward Cow"

    Sweat beaded on Gary’s forehead and upper lip as his red truck kicked up rocks from the dusty road. The air-conditioning was broken again and the heat put him in a lazy stupor. He gazed disinterestedly at the yellow sun burning everything beneath it. At least it made the sky really blue. A breeze was stirring the tops of the oak trees. This woke him up a little and he rolled the windows down farther in mild excitement. Something in the road caught his eye and he slammed on the brakes just in time. It was a brown Jersey cow. She blinked at him curiously, and then gave a suspicious moo before turning her head and shunning him. He grinned at her complete lack of fear.
    The gravel crunched under his boots when he jumped out. Should he push the cow out of the way? Something moved to the left and he turned to see a man standing on the side of the road.
    "Is this your cow?"
    "Sure is." The man didn’t move to help and just stood there looking at Gary.
    "Could you move her out of the way?"
    "Nope. She’s been in that spot since she got out of the box." He gestured to a large refrigerator box leaning against the wooden fence surrounding the field to the right. The box was large but couldn’t possible have fit the cow.
    "How did you get her in there?"
    "Didn’t. She came that way. Must have folded those legs under her before shipping her off."
    Gary shook his head in disbelief, and then got some rope out of the bed of his truck.
    "Well, let’s tie her off so you can lead her away."
    "All right."
    Putting the rope on the cow was easy. She merely moaned her protest and blinked some more. Gary mused to himself that this is why people eat beef burgers and not shark. The man pulled a couple of times and then led the cow off. Gary hopped into his truck and was about to drive off when a woman came running frantically across the field.
    "Help! That man just stole my cow!"

  6. Marc Krafft

    "Alleyway Guru"

    James Salvatore, awoke in his new home with tears gumming up his
    eyes. His life as a pathological liar had finally caught up to him.
    How had he fallen so low, you may ask? From financial guru, to living
    in a cardboard box in an alleyway.

    He lied his way to the top. He lied to his partners and he lied to
    his clients. When the rest of the market melted down, his portfolio
    was a financial Chernobyl. Now James is radioactive. Untouchable. He
    sustains himself by dressing up like a Cow for the California council
    on milk at public functions.

    If he could only get one more chance to redeem himself, he would lie
    anymore. He would walk the path of financial restraint instead of the
    path of financial ruin.

    Across the street he could see a possibility emerging. He watched the
    comings and goings of the financial building down the street. One man
    in particular caught his eye. Everyday, the same rotund bespectacled
    man walks to work. Everyday the mans shoulders slump more and more.

    James moves to the puddle in the Alley and looks into it’s shallow
    depths. His haunting face peers back at him, covered in grime and
    shame. James splashes his face to wash away the dirt and sleep and
    then saunters over to the man sitting with his head in his hands.

    James sits down next to the man. He doesn’t look up. "Moo," James
    brays to no one in particular.

    The man gives James a sideways glance and then edges further away.

    "You know, I was once like you. Giving everything I had for my family
    and my boss. I was at the top of the game and then I got fed up,"
    looked over to see if he was being listened to. He wasn’t disappointed
    when he the man peeking through his fingers with undisguised
    eagerness.

    James continued, "Then I met someone who would change my world
    forever. Guru Sanjay Islamasbad. He showed how to give up my worldly
    possessions and follow the Hindu path." Now James really had the mans
    attention.

    "I gave up the corner office and the big house to live simply under
    the stars and clouds, with endless possibilities. I see how lost you
    are, everyday. I felt the need to bring the same freedom I have to
    you."

    The man burst into tears, "I have it all." He almost screams. "I
    survived the meltdown using tried and true investing measures. But,
    that wasn’t enough for my wife. She left me for another man, with my
    only son. Now I have everything. I have nothing," he finishes in a
    whisper.

    James nods and puts his cow gloved hand on the mans shoulder,
    reassuringly. "we can draw out the pain, like poison from a gangrenous
    wound. But, you must give up everything in order to be free."

    "Yes! Please!" the man begged. "please take these trapping of success
    so that I may be free from her and this pain at last.". The man
    started tearing off his thousand dollar shoes, followed by his three
    thousand dollar suit. Finally, he removed his rolex watch.

    James took off his cow costume and handed it to the man. He slipped on
    the mans trappings, and the man grabbed him and hugged James tightly
    as tears streamed down his face.

    "I…I can’t thank you enough," the man said.

    "Be at peace," James beatifically spoke.

    James walked away from the man, out of the gutter. "Tomorrow I’ll stop lying."

  7. Carlos Juárez

    "Ruler William"

    While I was eating the best breakfast I ever had at Joe´s, I could see how Willy was running naked in the street. That was actually the third time this month, and it was December.

    He was screaming as usual something we of course could not believe. But we all liked to hear, just for fun. This time he was talking about a flying saucer he had seen around his farm. A big one, he keep saying. The pilots where pigs. I honestly don´t know why his insane stories involve some sort of animals. Last month they where dogs with lasers hunting ducks, and little ants with helmets teaching him how to build an anthill. This month my girlfriend saw him at the mall screaming about squirrels reading The Quixote, and a friend of mine said he got naked infront of the cityhall swearing he was kidnapped by gigant moths. Now this.

    They say his father used to punish him really hard. And some day his father caught him killing a chiken so his father hit him in the head with a stick and now he just make up those stories to attrack our attention because he has no friends. I would just say that he is an old crazy guy. Every town has one.

    Nobody believes me, they think I am crazy, but if they could see how weird my farm is they would actually believe me. It is too bad I can take out those creatures out of the farm. Somehow they go normal everytime I capture one and try to take it out. That is why I keep that tiny cow inside the cardboard box. I know someday their parents will come to rescue it, and I will be prepared to capture them too. It is just a matter of fact the alfa dog hunts the last of those three-legs ducks. I´ll travel to the moon where those ants have their anthills and with the knowledge the squirrels have I´ll conquer the entire world.

    They think I am crazy, but these people haven´t seen what I have. They are blinded by their stupidity, their ignorance and their skepticism. I will rule this world, and that they they will stop calling me Crazy Willy to star calling me Ruler William.

  8. Reggie Manning

    "Windy City"

    I only came to this department store because it was recommended by a friend. He claimed that they had Ralph Lauren jeans and button down shirts half off. I know that he is a pathological liar, and normally I would’ve brushed off his words for just talk, but he was actually wearing a Polo shirt at the time; so I became victim once again to his fables.

    I saw a guy across the street as I exited the small clothing store downtown Chicago. My first thought was a sonar of embarrassment due to the fact that I was standing there holding multiple bags of fabrics, that I paid FULL price for. Here I was buying extra clothes and this homeless guy was standing across the street in his only outfit, deteriorating in this windy city. I felt like I was eating a triple whopper in the face of a starving child, or Hugh Hefner strolling by with a flock of blondes in front of a virgin. How dare I…

    I thought that I should at least go over and put money in his can which I’m sure he has. Crossing the street he started to come into my focus and I was beginning to see the true filth in his attire. His skully had holes in it and threads protruding like they were gasping for air… In this windy city. There was oil or some dark substance, maybe smut, covering his once gray sweater. But at least he had a sweater… In this windy city. His combat boots were the same color as the stains on his sweater but as dusty as his beard, and matched the holes in his skully. I could see that he didn’t have socks as his big toe saw me before he did… Such a shame in this windy city.

    He was holding a cardboard sign that read, "Believe it or not, but this is actually the best day of my life." It was rude of me to ask, but my mouth opened without authorization from my brain.

    "Are you serious?" he turned his head towards me slowly and smiled.

    "Today is the day I realize my mistakes." he said showing his four teeth. I smirked and thought of it as a scam, a catchy coin collecting sign. If this guy says that standing on a curb begging for change is the best day of his life, then how could I complain about a made up clothing sale. I started to walk away but his words stalled me.

    "There is a saying that goes, the cow thought the grass was greener on the other side, till he hopped the fence and landed in Bull…"

    I felt weird. I didn’t understand what that story had to do with either of our situations but I decided to entertain his nonsense with a final question.

    "So what did the cow do about his situation?"

    "That’s not important… You should be asking how a cow jumped a fence…"

  9. Diedra Manning

    My Ma
    By Diedra Manning

    “Go head son…there’s no other way” my da told me. I didn’t want to. Something about it seemed so…so…inhumane. “Da, I don’t want to. I’m not that hungry” I said quietly. Without warning, my da shoved me unto the ground and pried open my mouth. “Do it!” he screamed. So I did. Yes, it was warm and eased the hunger pain away, but the shame of sucking a cow’s titty will always haunt me. “Never disrespect your ma” he said while walking towards the house.

    My real ma left us about a year ago. My da said she didn’t love us anymore & that she wanted to live in the city instead. I didn’t know what to feel. She always seemed happy from what I could remember. After she left, my da started to go through her things. I thought that he was throwing her things away. He even began to work in the barn late at night; I never knew what he was doing…I was too afraid to ask.

    One night he woke me up and told me to meet him in the barn. As I was walking towards it, I saw a cow inside. All of a sudden, two hands landed on my shoulders with the voice that left my mind in a mental seizure, “This is your ma now.” I turned around in confusion which turned into horror. It was my da, with my ma’s clothes on, staring at the cow with those glassy, empty eyes. It seemed as if he had a twisted admiration, even a love, for the cow.

    Every day since then, I had to take care of the cow as if it really was my ma. One morning, I decided to skip my morning visit to see my “ma” to look in my parent’s room. While I was looking in the closet I saw an old cardboard box; whatever was in it made a lot of noise. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Bones! As I turned around to run out, my da was in the doorway with a hatchet.

    “You killed her” I screamed. With a smile he said “Son, I always wanted a family to accept me for who I am. I thought I had that when I took your ma away. No one wanted a woman with a bastard child growing in her. I not only loved her, I wanted to be her!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; my whole life has been a damn lie! He lied about everything. “I did everything for ya’ll. I killed the family that lived here so we could have a good home. I became…your daddy! I couldn’t let her destroy what I created. I didn’t deserve to be judged, only praised.” As I stood there, frozen with fear, he slowly walked towards me. As he raised the hatchet, I screamed “You killer!” As soon as the hatchet began to swing downward…I blacked out.

  10. Dare Gaither

    A cloud of dust swirled around Sheriff Hubbard’s car as he pulled up to the barn.
    A truck with a stock trailer sat in the driveway.
    Two men stood glaring at each other angrily.
    A brown cow stood between them, patiently chewing her cud.

    Sheriff Hubbard sighed loudly.

    “Wait here til I see what’s up.”

    The man in the passenger seat nodded silently.

    Sheriff Hubbard slammed the car door approached the two men.

    “Morning, fellas.”

    A red-faced man with a beard scowled and pointed at the other one.

    “I paid this man $500 for this cow yesterday afternoon and
    now he won’t give her to me.”

    The other man was tall and thin with piercing blue eyes.
    “I did not! I wasn’t even here yesterday afternoon. We were
    picking up a load of hay in Rosman.”

    “Liar! That’s the cow and that’s the man, Sheriff. Arrest him!”

    Sheriff Hubbard turned to the car and said, “Come on out, Harry.”

    A pair of cowboy boots hit the ground as another tall, thin man
    emerged from the squad car. He looked at the bearded
    man with piercing blue eyes.

    The man gasped in surprise.
    The two men looked identical.

    “Yep, they’re twins,” Sheriff Hubbard said.
    “That’s Jerry,” He pointed to the the man standing near the cow.
    “And this one’s Harry.”
    The man in cowboy boots hung his head, cramming his hands in his pockets.

    “Harry sold you the cow while Jerry was gone.” The Sheriff explained.
    “It’s not his cow, so the deal isn’t binding.”

    “Arrest him or give me my cow. Now!” The man sputtered, his face
    turning from red to purple.

    “You got it, Harry?”

    Harry pulled a folded check from his shirt pocket.

    The Sheriff took it and handed to the sputtering man.

    “Here’s your check back. How ’bout we call it even and let it go?
    I’ll even throw in a couple of tickets to the rodeo at the ag center this weekend.”

    The folks at the ag center always sent Sheriff Hubbard 4 free tickets to their events.
    It helped him miss any minor code violations.

    The man took his check and the tickets the sheriff offered.

    He looked at Harry with disgust.
    “What are you, some kind of pathological liar?”

    “I cain’t hep it,” Harry shrugged and looked up.
    “I jes’ take these spells sometimes and have to do it.”

    The man got in his truck and left in a cloud of dust,
    revving the engine for good measure.

    “You want a ride home, Harry?”

    “Nah, I’ll walk. It settles my brain.”

    “Wait!” Jerry said to his brother. “I have something for you.”

    Jerry went into the barn and came out carrying a cardboard box.

    “This is from Otis.”
    Otis was Jerry’s prize black angus bull.

    Jerry dumped the box full of manure on Harry’s cowboy boots.

    “Otis speaks your language.”

  11. L.V. Gaudet

    Liar Liar
    By L. V. Gaudet 

    Young Vern was very nervous as he walked down the street. He was cradling a small cardboard box like it held the biggest treasure in the world.

    Vern stopped on the sidewalk before crossing the entrance to an alley. Alleys made him even more nervous.

    A lot of things made Vern nervous. And when Vern was nervous, Vern lied. He couldn’t help it. Even when he wanted to tell the truth, those nerves would trip him up and the lie would just slip out. He often felt bad for telling lies.

    The school resource teacher said Vern was a pathological liar. He didn’t know what that meant, but when the resource teacher shooed him out of the room before telling this to his parents, Vern knew it had to be a bad thing.

    Vern’s Mom said pathological meant something you do a lot even though you don’t always mean to.

    Then Vern saw the Barker brothers and their gang of friends up ahead. The Barker brothers were the two worst bullies in the school and in the neighborhood.

    With a nervous look up the alley, Vern hurried down its dirty road past big garbage bins and a sleeping man who smelled really bad.

    That was Howard. He slept in the alley in a cardboard box. Howard made Vern nervous too.

    “Hey, what’cha doing there kid?” Howard called out through half-open eyes. His voice was slurry. It was always slurry.

    “Uh, going to the store,” Vern lied.

    Vern heard feet running. Oh no! The Barker brothers had seen him!

    He quickly put down the little cardboard box and shoved it next to a garbage bin.

    “Hey, what have you got Booger?” Billy Barker called.

    “N-nothing.” Vern looked down at a nearby box.

    Billy grabbed the box and looked inside with a disgusted look.

    “He’s got GARBAGE man!” He laughed. “Hey guys, its Vern the Garbage Man!”

    The boys started pushing Vern around. He knew fighting back would only make the beating worse.

    Then to Vern’s surprise, the boys backed away scared.

    The scary looking drunk had come to his rescue.

    Howard loomed behind Vern and the boys ran away.

    Vern picked up a different box. He was good at lying.

    “What’s in the box kid?” Howard asked.

    “A cow!” Vern looked excitedly up at the man.

    “Whatever,” Howard mumbled and turned away, disappointed.

    Vern looked down at the box in his hands sadly.

    He looked in the box.

    The tiny cow looked up at him with its round brown eyes and started munching loudly on the shredded wheat cereal he had crumbled in there.

    Vern wanted to cry.

    This was the one time he told the truth and it was the biggest most important thing ever, and no one would believe him. Not his teacher, the grocer, his friends, or his mother. Not even the drunk living in the alley believed him.

    Somehow that last stung the most.

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