American Western

“Hey, dad, are you in there somewhere?”

“I’m here in the study. Come on back!”

“The study? Ok, Colonel Mustard, should I beware of the candlestick?”

“Very funny.”

“A study, dad? Really? You don't have a single book case or even a desk in here”

"I have a big screen TV and a recliner”

“That makes it a den or a man cave, but not a study.”

“Fine. Welcome to my den, Dentist.”

“You know you’re the only one who still calls me that. Mom used to hate it.”

“I know. Why do you think I did it? I loved making that woman mad.”

“Why on earth would you want mom mad?”

“Because making up with her was so much fun.”

“I know you miss her, you dirty old man.”

“I do miss her. This would have been her dream home. I moved here for her.”

“Seriously, Dad, the place looks great. Mom would be so proud.”

“I don’t know. I hope so.”

“She would, Dad. Who would have thought it? A city boy like you, moving out to the suburbs and buying a house with a study.”

“Don’t you mean a den?”

“Whatever it is, it’s great. What’s up with the open doors though? In New York, you had a doorknob lock, a dead bolt, and a chain forged in the fires of Mordor. On top of that, you had a state of the art alarm system that you activated even when you just went down the hall to put the trash down the chute. Who are you and what have you done with my dad?”

“I don’t know, Dentist, it felt like I had a lot more to lose then.”

“You protected mom to the very end. You hardly ever left her side.

“It was no bother. I only did what she would have gladly done for me.”

”It was no bother because it was mom.”

”It was my greatest pleasure.”

”She was a lucky woman.”

“I don’t know about that. I always figured she drew the short straw when she got stuck with me. I was the lucky one.”

“You think I don’t see what you’re doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“You think if we get to talking about mom that I’ll let you off the hook. It ain’t happening. Where is the iPhone I sent you? We have some work to do.”

“I don’t know, Dentist, what’s the hurry?”

“The hurry? Dad, Mom’s been gone for over two years. You are still young for an old man. You aren’t meant to be alone.”

“But a dating site? On some sort of phone app? That’s not how you meet someone. Can we do it later? I’m tired. It’s been a long day already.”

“Tired? Puh. It’s okay, they have a nap for that.”

“Hardy har har. Look, your mom was everything to me. I can’t hardly remember a time when she wasn’t in my life.”

“She loved you too, Dad. Her eyes always lit up when you entered the room.”

“Did I ever tell you how I met her?”

“Yeah, in high school, right? You took her to the junior prom.”

“That was our first date, but that’s not how I met her.”

“Really? All these years and no one ever told me how you two actually met?”

“I guess not. I’ll tell you one thing though, it didn’t involve a computer or an app on a phone. It was serendipity. My family had just moved into the house in Connecticut.”

“The house in Connecticut? How old were you? I thought you moved in there when you were six or seven.”

“Close, I was ten. I remember how boxes were everywhere and grandma was ordering us all around like a drill sergeant.”

“Granny? She’s five foot nothing and as sweet as sugar.”

“She is now, but when she was younger, she ruled our house with an iron fist. Your grandfather loved following her orders, though. Just like me, he married way above his head, and he would do anything for that woman.”

“That’s really touching, but what does that have to do with meeting mom?”

“I was getting there. You see, everyone else in the house was bigger than me. I was more in the way than helpful, so when the bell rang, my mom told me to answer the door.”

“Okay, I’m interested. What happened next?”

“I opened the door, silly. What would you have done?”

“Dad! Just tell the story. And?”

“And there was this pretty little girl standing next to a giant of a man.”

“Grampa Solomon?”

“Yes, he was gigantic, especially to a ten year old. In all honesty, I didn’t even notice your mother at first, until I smelled the pie.”

“A pie?”

“Yes, a pie. The most delicious homemade apple pie I’ve ever eaten. Your mother had brought it to us as a housewarming gift, a way to welcome us to the neighborhood.”

“Did grandma make the pie?”

“Nope, your mother did. She was a great cook, even at ten years old.”

“Was it love at first sight?”

“Hardly, I was ten years old. Girls were still kind of yucky, but I did notice her. She baked great pies and cookies. And even at ten she had those ice blue eyes. I didn’t fall in love that day, but I was intrigued.”

“Then you went to prom?”

“No, when love is blooming, there’s no reason to rush. First, we became friends. People think life is all about attraction, I get that, but it’s as much if not more about finding someone you want to spend all your time with. Your mom was my best friend before she became my girlfriend. She was my confidante before she became my wife. She was my everything and then, well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Am I making sense?”

“You are, Dad, and don’t get me wrong, I get it. I really do, but you can’t live in the past. Mom wouldn’t want that.”

“I know, but…”

“Dad, your phone is ringing. I’m pretty sure you are one of three people left in the country with a landline. Are you going to answer it?”

“The machine will get it. No one I care about knows my new number. I’m sure it’s just a telemarketer.”

“You’ve reached Dennis and Diane, please leave your name and number at the tone and we’ll probably never call you back.”

“Dad, you haven’t changed your message?”

“It’s her voice. Every time that machine goes off it feels almost like she’s still here. I know I should change it, but I just don’t have the heart to.”

“I can help you make a copy of it so you can listen to it whenever you like, but you need to change it, Dad. Especially if you’re going to put yourself back out there. After all, you’re not going to get many lady friends to join you for dinner if they get that message when they call.”


“Dad, it’s time. Mom will always hold a special place in your heart, but she wouldn’t want you to be lonely. You deserve to be happy.”

“But an app?”

“Dad, things aren’t like they were 100 years ago when you were dating…”

“Hardy har har.”

“Women aren’t going to come to your door all ready to be married. You have to work to meet women these days.”

“Oh alright, you win. What do we do first?”

“Let me download the app on your phone.”

“How long will that take?”

“It’s already done.”


“Now let's set up a profile. Name…Dennis.”

“Wait, put Denny.”

“Dad, you don’t want to seem like you're still a ten year old.”

“Fine, Dennis.”


“I’m 59.”

“You have to stretch the truth a little.”

“So this is how it works now? You have to lie to a woman to get her to like you?”

“No, it’s not like that. It’s well, you know, it’s a white lie…”

“That’s what I thought. Put 59!”

“Fine. 59. Height…6 foot 1, that’s the truth, right?”

“6’1” is correct.”

“That’s a plus, dad. Women like tall men.”

“Maybe you should be over at Shaquille O’Neil’s house helping him find a date?”

“He doesn’t need any help, Dad. You, on the other hand, need all the help you can get.”

“We can stop any time you like.”

“No way, you’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

“You can’t blame a guy for trying.”

“Valiant effort but let’s see, what do we have next? Eyes…That’s easy, beautiful brown.”


“Dad, you do have beautiful eyes. I got mine from you.”

“Okay. Okay.”



“Yes, brown. That’s not a lie.”

“Put grayish-brown.”



“Fine, grayish- brown.”

“Ok, here’s a big one. Interests?”


“Golf, dad? You might end up with a man answering your ad. How about gardening?”

“I do a little gardening, but only when the golf course is booked.”

“Golf, gardening, and other outdoor-related pastimes.”

“I guess that’s kind of true. Okay, what else?”

“That should be enough to make your profile active. All I have to do is hit submit.”

“Hello? Is anyone home?”

“Boy, that app works quickly.”

“Don’t be silly, dad. I didn’t even submit it yet. Have you been holding out on me? Who is she?” 

“I have no idea.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course, I just moved in.”

“Well, go see what she wants.”


“I’m sorry, but the door was open. I’m Deedee, and I live next door. I wanted to welcome you and your wife to our little community.”

“My wife? Oh, this is not my wife. I’m Dennis and this is my daughter, Dentist.”

“A dentist! You must be so proud.”

“I’m sorry, her name is Denise, but I just call her Dentist.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Denny. I’ve brought you a pie. I hope you like apple.”

“I love apple pie. You are so kind. Now I don’t feel like such a stranger.”

“Well, as my husband Steve, God rest his soul, used to say, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. Listen, I have to run. I have a tee time at two and I’m never late for a tee time.”

“You golf?”

“You don’t?”

“I love to golf, but…”

“But what? I’m a girl, is that it?”

“Well, no, but…”

“Choose your words carefully, or they may come back to bite you in the butt when I beat you.”

“Beat me?”

“You’re going to sign up for the neighborhood scramble, aren’t you?”

“I guess so, but…”

“You say but a lot. Dentist, I think your dad is a but man.”

“I’m staying out of this.”

“If you want to start off slow, we have a putt putt club in the neighborhood.”

“Putt putt? But…” 

“I’m kidding, Denny. Is it okay if I call you Denny? Dennis sounds so stuffy.”

“Denny is fine, but…”

“But, nothing. You need to join the scramble. It’s the best way to get to know everyone. I’ll drop an entry form by later.”

“Ok, but...”

“There you go again. I’m the red house next door. Come by when you’d like, and I’ll tell you all the do’s and don’ts of the neighborhood. I’ll also make sure you know who to avoid. I don’t want you going to this scramble blind.”


“But what? “

“Oh nothing really, I just have to delete a few things.”

“You have the iPhone, too? Maybe you can help me with mine. My son bought me one and it’s still on a shelf in the box.”

“I’d be happy to.”

“Well, enjoy the pie and I’ll see you later at the scramble. And don’t forget your butt.”

February 21, 2023 19:50

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Willy P. Tickler
04:05 Mar 02, 2023

POV: you like mustard


Lily Finch
17:53 Mar 02, 2023

This is not a POV; this may be a theme possibly. Oh, you gave me such great laughs today with your comments to me and others. That is awesome! LF6.


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Francis Daisy
02:29 Feb 28, 2023

Absolutely stinkin' cute! I loved every line!


Thom With An H
23:53 Feb 28, 2023

Francis!!!!!! Where have you been. Come back to Reedsy. I miss your writing.


Francis Daisy
02:18 Mar 01, 2023

Oh life. It is a crazy beast. I have been doing some terrible writing. Nothing that fits any prompts. Perhaps a piece will fit a future prompt, or I will feel inspired to post. I mostly hit the delete button anymore. Some days I wish I could hit the delete button on my life, but then a lot of good things would be gone too, so I just take a pause instead. It's nice to be missed. Hope all is well in your world!


Thom With An H
02:21 Mar 01, 2023

You’ve got a friend in me. Whether you write or not. My guess is your writing is better than you think. If you ever need a beta reader let me know. No matter what, keep writing. It can literally be a life saver.


Francis Daisy
02:24 Mar 01, 2023

Thank you. Just, thank you.


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Kathryn Kahn
20:09 Feb 26, 2023

I loved this, Thom. The characters are instantly clear and distinct from each other, and the situation is completely familiar and believable. I was particularly impressed by how you introduced a third character without confusing things. Very enjoyable.


Thom With An H
20:16 Feb 26, 2023

Kathryn, you are too kind. I’m so glad you heard all three voices. I’m always afraid, when I write dialogue, that no matter how many people are in a scene or story, they’ll all end up sounding like me. Thanks so much for taking the time to read me but even more so to encourage me. It means quite a lot.


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Delbert Griffith
13:07 Feb 25, 2023

Pretty nice dialogue, Thom. I feel like the sentence lengths are just right for a father-daughter conversation of this nature. Good job. I liked the ending. The daughter and the neighbor are on the same wavelength, despite being from different generations. I love the dad; his stubborn honesty when filling out the dating app was stellar. And really? "They have a nap for that." You should be pun-ished for such things! LOL Really nice dialogue-only tale, Thom. Cheers.


Thom With An H
18:50 Mar 02, 2023

Thanks so much. This one was a lot of fun to write. I’ve been buoyed by all the positive feedback. It seems like the Reedsy community likes this one more than the judges. This one didn’t even make it passed the weekend before it got benched. I really appreciate your kind words though. That really helps.


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Michelle Oliver
10:26 Feb 24, 2023

Thom, this was fantastic. I shy away from all dialogue because I’m never confident that I can make it flow without effort and sound natural. It’s also harder to establish character, but you made it sound so easy, with two very distinct characters. I like the love and connection we can feel between the two. It shows that your dialogue is really doing some heavy lifting as far as story telling and character building goes. So good. I was thinking as I was reading this, that most of the dialogue prompts I’ve read so far are between two charact...


Thom With An H
14:18 Feb 24, 2023

Michelle, for so many reasons, this is the highest of compliments. I have struggled with dialogue most of my short writing career so you have given me high praise to say the least. I'm hoping that by writing all dialogue stories I can improve my dialogue in more conventional ones. Thanks so much for giving me a read and taking the time to encourage me.


Michelle Oliver
22:34 Feb 24, 2023

Thanks for inspiring me too. I will have to try all dialogue one day, and I hope it turns out nearly as good as yours.


Michelle Oliver
06:31 Feb 25, 2023

I tried all dialogue, not sure I will submit it, but it’s there, I gave it a go. Thanks for inspiring me too.


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Lily Finch
13:54 Feb 22, 2023

Thom the neighbour welcoming him into the neighbourhood is a nice repeat of the original story of how he met his first wife right down to the apple pie. Your joke of "Tired? Puh. It’s okay, they have a nap for that.” fell in nicely too. This may be a typo "I’m Dennis and this is my daughter's Dentist.” - did you mean "I'm Dennis and this is my daughter, she is a dentist."? Thanks for the good read. LF6.


Thom With An H
13:57 Feb 22, 2023

Thanks so much for the read, the feedback, and the good catch on the edit. I owe you one. :-)


Lily Finch
14:13 Feb 22, 2023

Nah, that's why we discuss the story from when you post until you submit. That's what we're supposed to do for one another. LF6. :)


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Lindsay Flo
13:41 Feb 22, 2023

Nice! I thought this was the most challenging of the prompts this week, like how much detail you'd need to put in the dialogue that you might not otherwise just to get the story across. You proved that wrong, it flowed completely naturally and you were able to tell that he moved, was a widower, lived on a golf course or a community of some sort, his age, etc. And, it was funny :)


Thom With An H
14:02 Feb 22, 2023

Lindsay, you have no idea how much I appreciate this feedback. I've been writing creatively for close to three years and dialogue has always been one of my weaknesses. I tend to tell a story the way I would around a campfire. I "tell" a lot. Dialogue is a way to show and tell and I just wasn't very good at it. This prompt was only my second all dialogue story and your validation is just that, validation. Thank you, truly thank you.


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Wendy Kaminski
21:56 Feb 21, 2023

Awww! :) I like how it kinda might just fall into his lap again... pie is a wonderful thing! haha "...they have a nap for that.” was TERRIBLE and you should be mildly ashamed! *grin* But pretty good, too. Loved the dialogue, terrific address to the prompt and no other words were even needed.


Thom With An H
23:53 Feb 21, 2023

When I first started writing I would write whole stories without dialogue. Suffice to say I’m at least out of that stage. I’m glad you picked up on the nap joke. That one has been in my head for a few years just waiting to get out. I’m not sure if the whole story wasn’t just a vehicle to tell that one. 😀


Wendy Kaminski
23:56 Feb 21, 2023

hehe Well it was pretty skillfully done, if so! I'm terrible at dialogue, but I'm taking a course soon, so hopefully it'll improve. :)


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Calvin Kirby
17:21 May 27, 2023

Thom, another great story. It reminds me of Linda and my relationship, although, gratefully, she's still with me. She has been my best friend for over 60 years. I loved your dialogue, it was so touching with caring and humor. Another winner on my book. Your friend,Cal


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Hi Thom! I very much enjoyed this funny story, after your last serious one. I wanted to do the dialogue only prompt, and I had a great time reading your use of it. This cheerful, bantering dialogue between a loving father and daughter is so sweet and funny. The title matched the story well. The time the story took to play out was very brief. I liked that you put (I won’t say squeezed or packed because it wasn’t, it flowed very nicely) so much into this few minutes. [a chain forged in the fires of Mordor.] Since you used a Lord of the Rin...


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07:23 Mar 22, 2023

Waaahhhh!!! Simply soaking into the heart


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Quinn Puga
00:36 Mar 14, 2023

Super clever, sweet and not too confusing. I especially liked the way you wrote them bickering in the beginning talking about Colonel Mustard. Phenomenal writing :)


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Mustang Patty
16:00 Mar 06, 2023

Wow, You did a great job with this one. You conveyed a lot of emotion with the dialogue - no easy feat. Truly enjoyable - of course, I like anything you write, ~MP~


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Irene Duchess
05:24 Mar 04, 2023

I loved this!! the 'Ok, Colonel Mustard, should I beware of the candlestick?' was what caught my eye, and then I couldn't stop reading. (:


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Amanda Lieser
18:24 Mar 03, 2023

Hey Thom, Gosh, you know I’m a sucker for a love story. This one did not disappoint. My heart ached for these characters as you answered the prompt beautifully. I also like that you named names at the very end. My favorite line was in there with the eeweeey gooey mushy bit: She was my confidante before she became my wife. Nice work!


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04:05 Mar 02, 2023

I'm pretty sure that's what happens when the shit hits the creak.


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03:39 Mar 02, 2023

What a sweet and honest story! It flows well and paints a beautiful picture. Relationships are always about communication, and you built two relationships with just a few words. I liked this a lot!


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Susan Catucci
02:08 Mar 02, 2023

A charmer, Thom. This grew and grew and grew. I enjoyed the ride every word of the way, just as much as the outcome. Wonderfully done - and not a bit of a surprise; just a joy! :)


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Kestrel Baker
22:57 Mar 01, 2023

I really like how the new woman enters - the dialogue flows really well from 2 to 3 people, and I think she adds some depth to the father and daughters' characters that is impressive for a short story.


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Jamie Gregory
13:39 Feb 28, 2023

I really enjoyed reading this, Thom! I loved the dynamic between Denny and his daughter and their heartwarming banter. Although most of the story felt lighthearted, there was a deep underlying topic regarding coping with the loss of a spouse and I thought you did a great job balancing those vibes. It was really smart how you hinted at the setting in the beginning because even though this was a dialogue only story I could still visualize the scene in my mind. One of my favorite lines was, “ In New York, you had a doorknob lock, a dead bolt,...


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