65 comments

Romance Fiction Funny

“Hi, my name is Charlie," he said, sitting down on the barstool next to her. “Before the night is over, I’ll have your attention, your name, and your phone number.”  

“Not a chance,” she crisply replied, taking a sip of what looked like whiskey from the glass in front of her. “I come here every Friday night, I have been for more than two years, and I always go home alone.”

“Well, first off, I don’t plan on taking you home. What kind of guy do you think I am? I just met you. Secondly, you’ve never talked with me on any of those Friday nights. If you had, I’d already have your number, and you’d be in love with me.”  

His response made her laugh out loud. Against her better judgement, she stayed glued to her seat. “Alright Cowboy, I’ll give you one hour. You’re going to crash and burn, but it’s going to be fun to watch.”

“Ok,” he said, signaling to the bartender to fill her glass and to bring him one as well. “But I do have a few rules.”  

Once again, she laughed out loud. “Rules? You sit down next to me, uninvited, boldly state I’m not only giving you my name and phone number, but also predicting that I will fall in love with you. Then you expect me to follow your rules. What makes you think I won’t just get up, throw my drink in your face, and walk away?”  

“Is this guy bothering you—”  

“Don’t say another word, J.D.,” she said as she held up her hand like a stop sign. “Charlie here is trying to get my name, and I don’t want you to make it easy for him.” With a smile on his face, J.D. filled their glasses and went back to tending the bar.

“Now, Cowboy, I‘ll ask you again. What makes you think I won’t just leave?”

“Because you laughed.” 

“Because I laughed?” she repeated, attempting to suppress a smile.

“You won't leave because I make you laugh. I’m sure you’ve been approached by a lot of good looking guys, but you like to laugh. I could see it from the moment I walked in.”

“I was laughing at you, not with you.”

“You laughed just the same. It’s all that matters at the beginning.”  

“So what are these rules?” she asked, enjoying the banter more than she cared to admit to herself. “I’m not saying I‘ll agree, but I am curious as to what your rules are.”

“First, I am required to treat you with respect. I’m not trying to score. I’m trying to prove to you I’m worth your time.”

“And?” she interrupted, knowing that she would have to make payment in kind.

“You have only two rules,” he continued. “The first is you have to give me a fair shake. I can take no for an answer. But if I earn a yes, then I get your name and number.”

”And the second?”

“The second is if I guess your name, you have to give me your number, too. Do we have a deal?” Charlie stuck his hand out and waited.

“Wait, you could just keep guessing until you get it right. How about I give you three guesses?”

“Okay, that’s fair. I agree to your terms. Deal?” Charlie again offered his hand.

“Deal,” she responded, giving his hand a firm shake.

“Susan?”

Susan? Why the heck would you think my name is Susan?”

“I don’t know. My whole life it’s seemed that every woman named Susan is beautiful. I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Nice try, Cowboy. Not even close. That’s strike one. Care to try for two?” She smiled confidently, taking another sip of her drink. “Let me ask you this. Why me? There is a bar full of young ladies in here. Why are you sitting next to me in a futile attempt to win me over?”

“I’m glad you asked,” he replied with a smile. “You see, when I was about ten years old, my parents were looking for a plot of land where they could build their dream home. The four of us, mom, dad, my younger sister, and I, spent the better part of three hours, in August, in a car with no air conditioning on our way to rural Virginia to look at parcels of land to—”

“Is this story going anywhere?” she interrupted.

“I’m getting there. Don’t be so impatient,” he replied. “Geez, I hope you don’t interrupt me on all of our dates.”

“You’re pretty confident for someone who tells pointless stories to strangers in bars.”

“That I am. Now, because I always finish my stories, I’ll continue. After a long hot ride, tempers were a bit raw. When the real estate agent offered to drive us around in his air conditioned car, my parents jumped at the opportunity. My sister and I were relegated to the third row seat, but I was close enough to hear the real estate agent say something that changed my life.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. You came over to me because of something a real estate agent said to your parents over 15 years ago?”

”I did. The man told my parents, ‘I can take you to all the properties we have listed and let you decide which you like, or I can just take you to the best right away.’ Well, my parents, fresh off an exhausting trip with an irritated ten-year-old boy and an infant in a car seat, decided on the latter. And guess what? That first property was the best. They still live in the house they built there” Charlie paused and looked at her. “Sure, I could have made my way around the bar and talked to a bunch of women, or I could just have come to the best. I also chose the latter.”

“You made that story up,” she responded curtly, raising her glass.

“I did not. You’ll see the property when I take you home to meet my parents.”

“I’m not going to meet your parents. Stop trying to trick me,” she said with a smile that gave too much away. “Anyway, what makes you think I’ll choose you?”

“Because you love me.”

I love you. I don’t even know you!” she said, incredulously, but quickly added: “What makes you think I love you?”

“Well, you see when I was going into high school . . . ”

“Going into high school? That has nothing to do with us here today.”

“Let the record show you just referred to us as an us for the first time.”

“I didn’t mean it that way.”

“And yet you said it all the same.”

For a moment, she looked entirely put out. “So tell me about high school. What does that have to do with me?”

“Laura?”

Laura? No, my name is not Laura. I’m almost afraid to ask. Why Laura?”

“When I think of the name Laura, I think of a spitfire with a sneaky sense of humor.”

“Well, thank you, I think. But that’s strike two, Cowboy. You better tell me about high school before you completely strike out.”

“Okay, I was getting there. You see I was pretty small going into high school. In fact I was just under five feet tall and just a shade over 100 pounds. I had never had a girlfriend, not even just a girl friend. I had a choice to make. I could either go through high school lonely or I could choose to think otherwise. From that day forward, I just decided all the girls were in love with me.”

“That’s not endearing. That’s narcissistic.”

“Maybe so, but then again, maybe not. You see, girls are attracted to confidence, and I exude confidence. But that’s not what makes a girl fall in love. To make a girl fall in love, you have to treat her right. No, you have to treat her special. The good news is that’s exactly how my dad treats my mom, so I have a good role model. You’ll see when you meet him.”

“I see what you’re doing. You're pretending I love you already—just like the girls from high school.”

“Guilty as charged,” Charlie responded with a chuckle. “But I’m willing to do the work, too. I’ll send you flowers and take you out on Friday nights. I’ll write you love letters and sing you songs. I don’t want you to fall in love with me because I decided you should. I want you to fall in love with me because you discovered I’m the man for you. Remember the first rule. I will treat you with respect. I’m not going to play games with you. Oh and remember—I make you laugh.”  

Almost on cue, she laughed again and smiled warmly at him.

“But what after all your hard work, I still get up and walk out that door? What will you do then? Are you going to chase me down in the parking lot? Follow me home? Are you a crazy person?”

“Nope. If you get up and walk out that door, I’ll do what my dad did for my mom.”

“Uh-oh, I feel another story coming on.”

“Yes, but it’s a good one, I promise. The first time my dad saw my mom, he was working at the counter of a snack bar in a department store. To hear my dad tell it, she acted as if she didn’t even know he was there. The details tend to change over time, but depending on who is telling the story, there were either four or five girls with my mom. According to my dad, one detail is always the same. He knew the moment he saw her that my mom was the girl for him. That very first day, he asked her for her name. She declined.”

“I’m beginning to like your mom.”

“I told you it was a good story.”

“Maybe I’m just being polite.”

“If you are, I can stop.”

“No, go ahead and finish. I promised you a fair shake.”

“Where was I, by the way?”

“Your mom wouldn’t give your dad her name.”

“Oh, that’s right. So, after she declined, he just smiled and told her one day she would. He was willing to wait. Usually at this point, my mom jumps in and tells her side of the story. Unbeknownst to my dad, she was actually so impressed with him that she wanted to tell him her name right away, but she felt she would have been too forward. Instead, she went back to that snack bar every few days. Even though he would talk to her and tell her stories and make her laugh, he never asked for her name. She wanted him to, but he was giving her the time she needed to come around. Finally, mom grew impatient and marched into the store, walked right back to the snack bar, and said, ‘My name is Mary Ann, and yes, I’ll go out with you.’”

“And they lived happily ever after, right?” she chimed in, feigning disinterest.

“Why yes, they actually have. That was 30 years ago. So, in answer to your question, if you say no and walk out that door, I’ll come back on random Friday nights and, as long as you’ll let me, I’ll tell you more of my stories. I believe one day, just like my mom, you’ll give me your name. And until then, just like my dad, I’m willing to wait. But, I will tell you one thing. My mom said she always regretted not giving my dad her name on that very first day. You see, no matter how many days they have had together, she has always wished they would have had more. Not sayin’. Just sayin’.” 

“That’s quite a story,” she agreed.

“Monica? It has to be Monica. My younger sister’s name was Monica, and she was the kindest person I’ve ever known.”

Was? What happened to her?”

“That’s actually more of a third date conversation,” he responded quietly.

“I’m sorry, Cowboy. That’s strike three and your hour's up. Like I said, I’m not here to meet people. Even charming people with interesting stories.” And with that, she gave the universal sign for the check to the bartender. After presenting him with her credit card, J.D. handed her the receipt. She quickly scribbled her signature, downed the rest of her drink, and walked out the door.  

Charlie just smiled because he knew she would be back. 

So would he.  

“Hey there, fella. I think this is for you,” said the bartender. 

Charlie looked up as the bartender handed him her signed receipt. “Turn it over,” he said.  

Charlie flipped the receipt over and read the writing on the back.

My name is Mary Ann, just like your mom. Give me a call and tell me another story.

Just below the note was a phone number. 

And after taking the last sip of his drink, Charlie pulled out his cell phone and began to dial.

January 11, 2021 20:04

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65 comments

Zilla Babbitt
20:08 Jan 12, 2021

I read this earlier today on my phone and decided to comment from my computer, because I've got lots to say. First, well, Thom's back! Hallelujah! This in my book is as good as "Silence," because it's sweet, the pacing is slow, and it's romantic in an unconventional way. I'll give you what's on my mind, in no order whatsoever. You've been warned. I love the Mary Anne thing. It's an adorable connection and I love the repetition of history. The chemistry between the two characters is enthralling, fun, and endearing. Sure, there are problem...

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Thom Brodkin
20:37 Jan 12, 2021

You know how I know when someone really cares about me? When they are willing to tell me the things I need to work on. I love the fact that you take the time to point out the things you like about my stories but even more so I love the fact you take time to try to help me get better. I don't throw around the word friend easily. I think the word is way overused but I consider you a friend and I am so looking forward to voting for you when you run for office. I'll have your button pinned on my shirt, your bumper sticker on my car, and you...

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Thom Brodkin
00:48 Jan 13, 2021

I made some changes. Not all that you suggested, not yet but I think the changes help the story along. I know reading a story twice is asking a lot but let me know what you think. 😀

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Zilla Babbitt
13:28 Jan 15, 2021

It's lovely! Great job.

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Zilla Babbitt
22:12 Jan 15, 2021

*blushes* I call you friend too. I'm only waiting for the day when it says "Thom Brodkin" as the most recent winner, and I won't be surprised when it does happen.

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Thom Brodkin
20:06 Jan 11, 2021

For those of you who read me regularly, you'll know I am awful at dialogue so this was way outside my comfort zone. Be honest I can take it. :-)

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14:55 Jan 12, 2021

I love this! Your stories always make me smile! The dialog was perfect!

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Thom Brodkin
15:59 Jan 12, 2021

Thanks so much. I need the encouragement. Dialogue always scares me.

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16:34 Jan 13, 2021

Just read it out loud. It feels weird to do it, but it works. lol Face your fears!

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Thom Brodkin
17:02 Jan 13, 2021

I can do this!!!! :-)

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18:18 Jan 13, 2021

You did it already! Yay you!

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Nancy Drayce
22:55 Jan 11, 2021

Aww such a sweet story! I love ittt!!! And your dialogues, in my opinion, are great! I really liked his stories too and the ending was amazing. <3

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Thom Brodkin
16:00 Jan 12, 2021

This is the exact kind of feedback I need. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!!!

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Avani G
21:21 Jan 11, 2021

A few grammar/punctuation mistakes I noticed: Once again, she laughed out loud. “Rules?" extra space between the period after "loud" and the quotation mark. “Why me?” *She* asked, trying to *wrest* control of the conversation. *she* *rest* “I’m getting there. Don’t be so impatient,” He replied, taking the opportunity to sip his drink. “Geez, I hope you don’t interrupt me on all of our dates.” --> “I’m getting there. Don’t be so impatient,” he replied, taking the opportunity to sip his drink. “Geez, I hope you don’t interrupt me on all ...

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Thom Brodkin
21:33 Jan 11, 2021

Thank you so much for putting the time and effort to fix the errors. I think I took care of all the punctuation issues. I'm still looking to break up the paragraphs.

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Avani G
22:03 Jan 11, 2021

No problem! Great work, Thom 👍

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Zilla Babbitt
19:58 Jan 12, 2021

Good detail, Avani! One thing, though, I think the original "wrest" is correct. To wrest is like trying to wrestle or trying to grab hold of control of the conversation. To "rest" control doesn't make sense.

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Elle Clark
11:58 Jan 16, 2021

A spitfire with a sense of humour? I’ll take it. A lovely story with some very realistic characters. I can imagine both of them very clearly. The overly pushy you’ll-love-me approach isn’t for me but I can see how others would find it charming. Nice to see some more of your writing.

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Thom Brodkin
12:38 Jan 16, 2021

Yeah, I guess you can say he’s an acquired taste that not everyone acquires. More than anything thanks for the feedback. It’s valuable to me.

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Elle Clark
15:10 Jan 16, 2021

It’s not the guy, it’s the approach. The guy seems sweet and well intentioned. And he’s clearly had success with his approach. Your writing has improved immeasurably since you joined, by the way. It’s almost a different writer with the last few stories.

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Thom Brodkin
15:19 Jan 16, 2021

Considering the autobiographical element to this story you’re feedback is even more appreciated. Thank you.

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Julie Ward
17:32 Jan 12, 2021

Really fun, snappy story! I love it! I could imagine Charlie sitting down at the bar, clear as day, spinning his stories to the headstrong MaryAnn. I'm invested in both characters and I want to see where their relationship goes. I really enjoyed their banter, it read like a scene in a movie. That said, I see the last story about Charlie's parents as a great opportunity to sprinkle in some smart Mary Ann comebacks to bring the two even closer together, get the sparks really flying. I love the way it all unfolds, but it's long enough to mak...

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Thom Brodkin
19:48 Jan 12, 2021

This is the first story I've written that I feel like I need to write the next chapter. I want this to be a great love story. I feel like it will be. I hope there is a prompt coming that will give me the chance. Maybe on Valentines week. I also really appreciate the positive feedback. I wasn't fishing for compliments. I was really nervous about the dialogue. Comments like yours mean the world to me and give me the desire to keep trying to hone that part of my writing. You are the best!!!!

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Julie Ward
19:56 Jan 12, 2021

Keep honing, keep honing! I think you're right, there is something more to this story. It has the elements. Keep pushing these two together, pulling them apart, throwing them for a curve...love, and snappy dialogue, always wins!

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Thom Brodkin
00:53 Jan 13, 2021

Hey there, I added a few more details that increased the banter between the two. If you have a mind to, check it out and see if it gives you a little more of what you’re looking for.

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Julie Ward
02:28 Jan 13, 2021

Love it! I like that you added the names and the mystery of his sister. All good stuff. I stand by my earlier comment that the big story needs to be broken up. Maybe she makes a comment here and there or maybe she just uses body language to show that she's increasingly interested? Instead of Charlie filling in all the details, does MaryAnn ask for them? "What did your mom think?" I want to feel the moment when things shift, when MaryAnn decides she's going to give Charlie her number, and I think it's somewhere in that story.

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Thom Brodkin
04:23 Jan 13, 2021

Your feedback is too good to ignore. I’ve started to break up that paragraph. I may do more or clean it up but I will do my best to make it right. Thanks again. 😀

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Julie Ward
20:09 Jan 13, 2021

You don't need to make anything right...you've already written an amazing story. You're just making it even better. I like the changes!

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Kristin Neubauer
16:40 Jan 12, 2021

That's a lovely story, Thom! Very sweet, heartfelt, genuine. And I don't think you're awful at dialogue. Why do you think so? I actually think your dialogue reads quite smoothly. I could really see these two in their conversation at the bar. I love how you managed to create a sense of the past with Charlie's stories....and a sense that these two have a future....all with one ordinary conversation! That being said, as sweet and as confident as he is, I think Charlie's persistence would drive me nuts if I met him.....and that says to m...

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Thom Brodkin
17:25 Jan 12, 2021

This to me is the best part of this site. Getting to know other writers who inspire you and you inspire me. Feedback like yours makes me want to write. I also love to read your stories because i feel your heart in them and there is no greater gift. I'm glad to be back and I'm thrilled you never left.

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Kristin Neubauer
17:39 Jan 12, 2021

Thank you! Same for me....I am looking forward to your next one! If I manage to finish mine this week, it may be crap - it is very experimental and I'm not even sure I like it. But I love that we have the freedom and confidence to try new things. If we don't we'll never know what works, what doesn't and how to improve!

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Thom Brodkin
18:44 Jan 12, 2021

I’m confident it will be great. I can’t wait to read it.

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R. K.
21:04 Jan 11, 2021

I love this! Charlie has a real insider method going for getting the girl and it seems it's been factory tested and approved. He's a sweet guy, I'd almost say the dream guy but also a bit persistent (which some would find annoying), which shows how intricately you crafted your character. The dialogue was not awful — it was perfect! Such a charming story full of ambiguous charisma and lovely curiosity. And the ending with Mary Ann was oh so masterful. I'm only sad because I want more to digest.

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Thom Brodkin
16:01 Jan 12, 2021

This was way out of my comfort zone. I think there was more dialogue in this story then the rest of my stories combined. Thank you for reading and your very kind words.

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Anna Mosqueda
14:42 Jan 15, 2021

This was AMAZING! I think you did a great job telling the story completely through dialogue. You didn't take the story too fast or too slow, it was perfectly paced in order to show the romance between the two characters. I loved the character of the cowboy and Mary Ann, especially the reluctance of Mary Ann to give Charlie her name. Great job Thom, keep it up! PS. I'm not very good at offering critique so I just like telling people how much I liked their stories:)

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Thom Brodkin
15:08 Jan 15, 2021

I am a lot like you. I try to give detailed feedback but mainly I just tell people who write good stories that I enjoyed them. I’ll say this, though, when another writer tells me they like my story that means the world to me so thank you very much.

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Anna Mosqueda
22:45 Jan 15, 2021

I know what you mean, so no problem:) Can't wait to read more of your stories!

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Zae Johnson
16:36 May 20, 2021

Personally, I didn't think the dialogue was all that bad. I would point out some changes but Zilla already did that for me. I saw you recommend this story to someone else in a comment and decided to read it myself, I'm glad I did. I can't wait for the day when I get to say I knew you before you were famous. This is a wonderful story, Thom.

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Thom Brodkin
17:50 May 20, 2021

Thank you so much. You really made my day. I’m glad you stopped by for a read.

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Zae Johnson
18:56 May 20, 2021

You're very welcome!!!! Your story made my day. I'm glad I stopped by as well.

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Claire Lewis
17:50 Mar 11, 2021

I’m seeing in the comments that dialogue intimidates you. I absolutely would not have known from this story. Their conversation gives us insight into who they are, their personalities, senses of humor, and their chemistry. I love his direct confidence and her evasive, dry humor. The dialogue does exactly what good dialogue is meant do: it shows us how they think, gives us a window into the heart of who your characters are. The Mary Ann touch at the end is the perfect closing detail. I loved the line where Charlie says he always finishes hi...

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Virginia Coleman
18:39 Jan 21, 2021

This story was so charming and sweet. I loved the dialogue! It was very witty and sharp. You did a great job with it!

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Jay D Mer
14:04 Jan 20, 2021

The is absolutely one of the best, genuine, short stories I read. It was so sweet and I just wanted to keep reading. I think the dialogue was great. I'm not an expert on the whole thing, but like Zilla said, I guess it was a little wordy, but Charlie was telling a story so I think it matched. Great job, Thom! I feel like reading it again, that's how good it was. Feel free to check out my short stories as well and comment anything you feel needs work or just any thoughts:) ...https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/jay-dmer/

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Thom Brodkin
15:34 Jan 20, 2021

This is quite possibly the nicest feedback I've ever received. I am so glad you found my story and enjoyed it and I will of course find yours and give them a look see. Thanks again!!!

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Jay D Mer
15:43 Jan 20, 2021

No problem :) I'll be reading more from you and commenting. Thank you.

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Jonathan Blaauw
11:30 Jan 20, 2021

Hey, Thom. Long time, no see! I'm glad you have some new stories and I've got a chance to read them (doing this one first, then on to the next.) When I first met you, you asked me not to read the other comments before commenting, and that's something I always do with your stories now. There are many ways to tell a story, and I feel like you're getting really good at finding the best way. Yes, telling a story only in dialogue almost demands a single scene, but even so, your pacing and flow is brilliant. You get straight to the point and imme...

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Thom Brodkin
15:33 Jan 20, 2021

Jonathan, my friend. I am so glad to hear from you. Once again you have found a way to make me feel better about my writing than I deserve. I've said it before, if I ever get famous and win an award you will be one of the few I will mention in my acceptance speech. I have started to work on correcting the errors in my most recent story, unfortunately this one is locked in. You are, of course, spot on with your tweaks and yet somehow make me feel as if none of them are a big deal. I will wait patiently for your new story about to be pos...

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Maggie Deese
21:54 Jan 18, 2021

Hi Thom! This was great! Beautifully sweet and the connection between the two characters was really well-done. Dialogue is also a struggle for me, so don't feel alone there! The dialogue was a bit stiff, I'll admit, but nonetheless sweet. I agree with Zilla; try checking out the Reedsy blog for more help on that kind of stuff, as I should be doing as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and the quirkiness of both characters. They were wonderfully fleshed out and really relatable. Great job!

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Miss Tee
15:57 Jan 17, 2021

Okay, so I love reading comments because I get to learn more from different people, and I saw a comment from you telling the author of the story I read about this particular story, and that's why I'm here, and oh My, I'm happy I read this story, I'm not that great with grammar but so far people have pointed the obvious mistakes, but I'll say I loved this story a lot, I was so drawn in, at a point I was seeing myself as the male character, his confidence exuded in the story can be seen by just anyone and that's beautiful

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Thom Brodkin
16:44 Jan 17, 2021

I love that you found me and enjoyed my story. Please read more. I love the feedback. 😀😀😀

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22:48 Jan 14, 2021

This is so well-written and has perfect grammar. The story is so sweet and funny.

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Thom Brodkin
23:01 Jan 14, 2021

I have a perfect grandpa too. Oh wait, you said grammar. 😀. Seriously, thank you for the read and feedback.

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23:11 Jan 14, 2021

Lol. Sure. 😊

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Karen Mc Dermott
19:07 Jan 14, 2021

Wow, this story hooked me in so well I felt exactly like the woman at the bar being charmed XD Hats off to you. I saw this prompt and didn't fancy tackling it as I'm awful at dialogue, like you (erroneously) claim below. “Is this story going anywhere?” had me laughing out loud. I read a lot of stories on here, often wondering that. But this was certainly not one of them.

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Thom Brodkin
21:08 Jan 14, 2021

Even your comments are entertaining. Seriously, having talented people say nice things about your writing is very gratifying. Don’t be surprised if I beg you for reads again. Your feedback inspires me.

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Katina Foster
00:04 Jan 14, 2021

Nice work, Thom. You did a great job of setting the scene and developing the characters using only dialogue. I had an immediate, emotional reaction to the characters -- to Charlie, in particular. And honestly, it wasn't a favorable reaction in the beginning. But it’s definitely a testament to your writing that I had such a visceral reaction. And I'm happy to see you trying new stuff - like more dialogue. Keep it up!

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Thom Brodkin
00:41 Jan 14, 2021

I love the different responses. I think everyone knows someone like Charlie and to say the least he’s an acquired taste. Now you write something. I want to read more of your stories. 😀

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