Talk of Tombstone

I sat on the couch with my arms folded over my chest while Mother paced in front of me.  I hated it when she got that way; as if the movement of her legs would churn the words out or something.  Finally, she stopped and stood in front of me, pinning me down with her cold stare.

I liked the pacing better.

“How could you be so stu- careless?”

My back stiffened.  Stupid.  That’s what she meant, and usually “just like your father” followed.

“So, what are you going to do?”  Her voice sounded like a banshee shriek.

I shrugged.  “I’m going to marry her, Mother.”

“Oh, that’s rich!  Your escapades have made our family fodder for the rumor mill.  The scandal of this baby will soil our name forever!”

Dad running off with a seventeen-year-old saloon girl already did that.  I knew better than to toss kerosene on smoldering brush, so I kept quiet.

“Another reason to laugh behind my back.” Her shoulders slumped.

It was like she read my mind. “There’s life outside of Tombstone,” I said. I checked; three hours north and I could join the 21st century among four million people who didn’t give a rat’s tail about my business, or thirty miles south, I could slip into a country that didn’t speak my language..

She sat beside me, tears streaming down her cheeks.  I didn’t know if she cried for my life or hers.

“Mother, I love her.”

“She’s not right for you.”

“You know Charlene’s a good person.”

Mother blew her nose into a tissue.  “I remember when Charlene and I drove to Phoenix to see a Nirvana concert at the State Fair, five years before you came along.”  She let out a muffled sob and shook her head.  “I imagined you’d date her daughter one day…”  She smeared the wetness across her cheek. “How will you support a family?”

“I’ll get a job.”

“Billy, it’ll be two more years before you can legally work or drive!”


This is my first Trifecta writing challenge entry this week.  The challenge is to use the word “scandal” noun \ˈskan-dəl\ with the following definition:  (a)  a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it; (b)  a person whose conduct offends propriety or morality <a scandal to the profession

The response must be between 33 and 333 words.  You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.  The word itself needs to be included in your response.  You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.


43 thoughts on “Talk of Tombstone

  1. timkeen40 April 9, 2012 / 6:42 PM

    Ain’t it a messed up world. I do feel for the mother. It was easier for sixteen year olds to make mistakes when I was the sixteen year old. I have held my breath through the raising of two sons. I have one daughter to go.

    Good, good story.


    • jannatwrites April 9, 2012 / 6:50 PM

      Good luck with the daughter, Tim. My kids are still young for this, but time flies. The boy in this story is 14, and the premise is based on a true story. You are so right – the world is a messed up place. Thanks for stopping by to read my story!

    • jannatwrites April 9, 2012 / 10:16 PM

      Thanks so much for reading, Susan! I appreciate it 🙂

  2. nrhatch April 9, 2012 / 8:43 PM

    I am glad I don’t have kids who sleep with my friends. 😆

    Great write, Janna.

    • jannatwrites April 9, 2012 / 10:18 PM

      Yeah, a cat will never do that to you 🙂 We’re a few years off, but I’m praying we make it through the teen years, Nancy!

    • jannatwrites April 9, 2012 / 10:18 PM

      Thanks, Patti! I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

  3. Amanda April 10, 2012 / 5:14 AM

    Nice twist! Very well written. Scandal indeed!

    • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 5:33 AM

      Thanks, Amanda. I appreciate you stopping by to read it 🙂

  4. TikkTok April 10, 2012 / 6:35 AM

    I’m pretty sure we hear more about the women who run off with boys than the other way around…… scandal indeed!

  5. Debbie April 10, 2012 / 7:24 AM

    Scandalous, with a capital S, Janna! How heart-breaking for this boy’s mother, to realize what has taken place. Most of us adults would never believe a kid as young as 14 could be capable of the kind of love needed for a lifetime commitment.

    • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 5:46 PM

      In the story I saw on TV, the boy was with his friend’s mom. I decided to change it up and make it his mom’s friend. Confusing, isn’t it, Debbie? I couldn’t imagine such a relationship with a 14 year old…I didn’t even relate to 14 year old boys when I was 14!

  6. momsomniac April 10, 2012 / 8:58 AM

    Wow – well done. I felt so aligned with the son until we got to the end (I also thought we were further into the past). If one of my friends preyed sexually on my son…oh, I don’t think I’d behave this well.

    • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 5:49 PM

      Thanks for reading the story and sharing your thought, Momsomniac. I can see how the time period is ambiguous. In Tombstone, they still have saloons and reinactments so you get the ‘old west’ feel. The problem is, that this story had nearly 500 words and I was allowed up to 333. I think I got it down to 331 and collapsed from exhaustion 😉

      I don’t know how I’d react if one of my sons were in this situation. I’d rather not find out!

  7. jesterqueen (@jesterqueen) April 10, 2012 / 9:42 AM

    Whoops. Cougartown just got real. And I bet it’s going to be awkward when Charlene and Billy eventually figure out that Mama wasn’t right. Reminds me of the current (gender reversed) scandal, and an earlier version of the same)

    • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 5:51 PM

      The young boy’s life will be a difficult one, no doubt. The thing that floors me is that adults should know better. Thanks for reading, Jester Queen!

  8. braintomahawk April 10, 2012 / 11:43 AM

    At first I thought, well ok, yeah they could make it work. Then your last line was a blow. Wow. Graet entry, you crammed a ton of emotion in there.

    • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 5:52 PM

      It was meant to be a bit of a surprise – I’m glad it came through. I appreciate you stopping by the read it, Braintomahawk.

      Is it weird that when I see your name I think of zombie bunnies? Wait…don’t answer that 😆

      • braintomahawk April 10, 2012 / 5:58 PM

        My pleasure to read it.
        I have a feeling that I am going to be associated with ZB’s 😉

        • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 6:08 PM

          I think you found your niche 🙂

  9. Carrie April 10, 2012 / 5:47 PM

    A nice little story but I felt it was conflicted in what time period you wanted to use. When I first began reading I thought it was set in the past, early twentieth century perhaps (the saloon girl reference cemented it as did some of the lingo used in the dialogue.) And then I hit that Nirvana reference and I was wondering what I was reading.

    I like the switch of the boy being much younger than expected. Interesting twist

    • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 6:08 PM

      It was always meant to be current time period – the problem is that Tombstone has retained an ‘old west’ atmosphere with saloons and re-enactments. With this being the second comment on the time period, I did a little change to reference the 21st century. I’m at the word count max, so I hope it helped clarify!

      Thanks for reading and offering your feedback. I appreciate it!

  10. Kelly Garriott Waite April 10, 2012 / 5:58 PM

    Ah, I know Tombstone! I’ve been there! Nicely done – sad, sad, story.

    • jannatwrites April 10, 2012 / 6:09 PM

      Thanks, Kelly! I wanted a small town setting and Tombstone is a unique one 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to read my story!

  11. Rachael April 11, 2012 / 5:51 AM

    I love this– I totally was taken by surprise, didn’t see that little twist coming!

    • jannatwrites April 11, 2012 / 10:02 PM

      Yay! That’s what I was hoping for, Rachael. Thanks for reading!

  12. Gina April 11, 2012 / 10:05 AM

    Holy Cow! Not what I expected at the end!

    Whoops! That’s a pretty mixed up family, for sure! Great story telling.

  13. Linda Vernon April 12, 2012 / 9:13 AM

    Now that’s a scandal. How sad that’s it’s based on a true story. Well imagined Jannat!

    • jannatwrites April 16, 2012 / 6:29 PM

      Thanks for stopping by to read my scandalous story, Linda! I appreciate it.

  14. mrsoneday April 12, 2012 / 10:52 AM

    Wow. This story is packed full of scandal. I loved it!

    • jannatwrites April 16, 2012 / 6:29 PM

      Thanks, Mrsoneday! I appreciate you stopping by to read it 🙂

  15. judithhb April 12, 2012 / 2:58 PM

    Scandal indeed! And the fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the more shocking!

    • jannatwrites April 16, 2012 / 6:32 PM

      I couldn’t believe the story when I saw it either, Judith. I was just passing by the TV when I saw it and I watched for fifteen minutes (in disbelief).

  16. barbara April 12, 2012 / 8:33 PM

    oh, my word – a cougar!

    well done.

    • jannatwrites April 16, 2012 / 6:35 PM

      A dangerous cougar indeed, Barbara! Thanks for reading 🙂

  17. lexy3587 April 13, 2012 / 5:36 AM

    ooh, that is a scandal! Getting Mom’s childhood friend pregnant, wow!
    I like the emotion you put into the mother – clearly, there’s a lot going on to make her so worried about how people think of her.

    • jannatwrites April 16, 2012 / 6:38 PM

      There’s more backstory than 300 words can handle! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Lexy.

  18. Trifecta (@trifectawriting) April 13, 2012 / 7:21 AM

    Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. You would expect a bit more from your friend, no? Hope you can join us for the weekend prompt which is already up on the site. It’s community judging this weekend, so get your entry in and get voting

  19. Eric Alagan April 20, 2012 / 6:35 PM

    When I started reading, my thought was – What’s wrong with the mother? Then as the story unfolded, yah – the guy in this story is stu…alright.

    But that’s me and how disconnected I am with the ‘real’ world…

    • jannatwrites April 20, 2012 / 11:12 PM

      I tend to be disconnected too, Eric. I was shocked when I saw the story that inspired this piece on TV. Just when I thought I’d seen it all…

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