Three Word Thursday #25
Welcome to Three Word Thursday #25. This week, joining the quondam word-list, we have ambition; pessundate; & operiment. We also have a whole list of perspicacious writers. If you enjoy reading my story, leave a comment then click on the names of the other players and go see how they used the words. You’ll be entertained (and possibly educated) all at once.
A Chili Relationship
Dalton Detmeyer had only one ambition in life. He wanted — just once — to be better at something than Rosalyn. It wasn’t his fault he was born three years after Rosalyn. She always did everything first and had the skills perfected before he even tried.
Dalton entered the Dailey High School Chili Cook-Off. Rosalyn didn’t care for cooking and he loved it. In this one thing he could prove himself superior. He whistled all the way home, anxious to tell his mother what he’d done.
Dalton took the back steps in a single bound, strode across the porch, turned the door knob and stepped into the kitchen. “Mom, I -”
“Dalton, guess what,” his mother enthused. “Your sister has entered the Dailey High School Chili Cook-Off! Isn’t that exciting. Come help us pick out a recipe.” She bent over the cookbook open on the Formica-topped table.
Dalton stood half in and half out of the back door with his mouth hanging open.
“Well,” his mother said. “Come on.”
“But, I’ve entered the Dailey High School Chili Cook-Off,” Dalton protested.
“Oh, Dalton.” His mother straightened and placed her hands on her hips. “You have got to stop competing with your sister. This isn’t healthy.”
“But I didn’t even know she entered!” Dalton dropped his book bag by the door. “Mine was the third name on the sign up sheet. This time she is copying me!”
“Dolton must have known I was going to sign up, Mom,” Rosalyn countered, using the nickname she knew Dalton hated.
He glared at his sister in silence, turned on his heel and left the room.
For the remainder of the month Dalton and Rosalyn each tested chili recipe after chili recipe, feeding the results to their parents, neighbors and friends until everyone refused to taste any more. “Enough!” Their father wailed. “If I have to eat another bite of chili I am going to forbid you both to enter the contest. Now get this stuff out of my sight!”
Dalton packed the two pots of chili, his and Rosalyn’s, and drove them downtown to the 11th Street alley. He also took a stack of disposable bowls and a big box of plastic teaspoons. He gave the chili to the drunks who hung out in the back of Duffy’s Pool Palace. Each of them got two bowls full. A serving of his and a serving of Rosalyn’s. In every instance they liked Rosalyn’s best.
Dalton drove home with a big black cloud hanging over his head. Rosalyn wasn’t going to win the chili cook-off. Not if he could help it. He was going to have to pessundate her chances of winning.
Mrs. Detmeyer was pleasantly surprised when, early on the Saturday morning of the cook off, Dalton cheerfully loaded Rosalyn’s stuff into the car along with his own. He even helped her set up her booth in the Dailey High School gymnasium. The two of them had their stands side-by-side. Dalton was surprised by how agreeable Rosalyn was with his help. She didn’t call him Dolton once, nor did she accuse him of trying to cheat, or sabotage her chili. He almost felt guilty about that, but not too guilty to whistle cheerfully while he set up his own booth.
The judges came by and inspected their stations. Shortly after that the formal announcement came over the loud speakers, “Ladies and Gentlemen, start cooking!”
The whole time Dalton prepared his own ingredients, he kept glancing over at Rosalyn. Would she notice that her jar of tomato sauce had been tampered with? Would she see that the sauce was too thin, or smell the Tabasco Sauce he’d mixed in? He’s used a lot and the aroma was strong. Surely she would notice.
He watched as Rosalyn opened the jar in question and poured it into her pot. She never even paused. Could it be she hadn’t noticed? She hummed happily as she stirred the mixture in her kettle.
Dalton continued cooking, but there wasn’t any pleasure in it for him. Sure, he wanted to win, but it wouldn’t really be winning if the contest wasn’t fair. He thought about disqualifying himself, but that wouldn’t fix Roz’s chili. What could he do? Confess? His mother would freak and Roz would never let him hear the end of it. There had to be another way.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t think of one. And to make matters worse, Rosalyn bought him a huge soda as a thank you gift for helping her. “May the best sister — or brother — win,” she said sweetly when she handed it to him. “No hard feelings, okay?”
He mumbled “okay”, but he was pretty sure there would be hard feelings, and they weren’t going to be his. When her chili fried the tongues of the judges, Rosalyn would figure out it had to be his fault. He wished he hadn’t messed with her tomato sauce. He wished he hadn’t entered the contest. He wished he’d never been born at all. He also wished he hadn’t drank that whole pop, because now he had to go to the bathroom.
“Yo, Roz!” He called out, “I’ll be right back!”
There was a line for the bathroom and he was gone a lot longer then he planned to be. When he returned to his booth the judges were already making their rounds. The four men and three women judging each took a small sample of chili from a contestants pot. They looked at it, stirred it, smelled it, and tasted just one bite. Afterward, they all scribbled furiously on little yellow note pads. After they’d all finished recording, they cleansed their palates with a lemony sorbet, and moved to the next pot!
They were just two booths away. “Roz,” Dalton said. “I’ve got something to tell you …”
“Oh not now!” Roz exclaimed. “I’m too nervous to listen. Tell me after.”
“Mom,” Dalton said, “I need to tell you — ”
“Not now, Dalton!” His mother sushed him and walked away.
Dalton slouched onto a folding metal chair with a resigned look on his face and awaited disaster. When the judges reached Roz’s station, he didn’t want to watch, and closed his eyes; but he couldn’t stand not knowing.
He followed every move as Roz raised the operiment on her cooking pot and dished out seven little white paper cups full of chili. Each of the judges took one. They looked at the chili, stirred the chili, and smelled the chili. They each took white plastic spoons and tasted the chili. Only then, did Dalton realize he’d been holding his breath. Tension held him completely immobile as he waited for the judges reaction to the searing concoction.
They calmly put the little white cups down and began writing on their tablets. Dalton couldn’t believe it. He’d put an entire bottle of Tobasco Sauce in that bottle of tomato sauce. Couldn’t they taste it? It should have been frying their livers. He looked over at Roz. She smiled at him and winked. His eyes went to his own pot of chili. He stared at it for a moment and then moved his gaze to the now empty 32 ounce soda cup she had bought him, and then he looked back at Rosalyn. She was laughing.
“Well, young man. What have you got?” The judges were at his booth.
“You know, I think maybe I’ve changed my mind,” Dalton said.
“Nonsense!” His mother interrupted. “You and your sister made us eat chili everyday for a month. You’re not quitting now!”
Dalton reluctantly filled the little white cups and waited tensely while the judges did their judging thing. Finally they each took a bite. They all looked a little surprised. One of the ladies blinked her eyes quite a bit. One of the gentlemen wiped at his brow with his handkerchief, but none of them were writhing on the ground screaming in agony, which was a bit of a shock to Dalton. They thanked him and moved on to the next booth.
“You switched the pots of chili, didn’t you?” Dalton whispered to Roz as soon as the judges were out of sight.
She smirked at him, “Yeah. I came downstairs last night and saw you mixing the Tabasco Sauce into the tomato paste, and knew you were trying to sabotage my recipe.”
“Well, I’m kind of glad you found out,” Dalton said. “I didn’t want to win that way. But I can’t believe the judges ate it.”
Their mother interrupted, “That’s because I saw you messing with tomato paste too, and threw that jar away.”
“You mean we each followed our own recipe?” Roz asked.
“That’s right,” their mother answered. “Everything is as it should be.”
Roz looked over at the chili pot in Dalton’s station, then back at the chili pot in her own. “Well not completely,” she said. But before she could explain a booming voice from the bandstand interrupted.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if we can have your attention, please. Now is the moment we have all been waiting for. First we will distribute three honorable mention ribbons, then we will distribute second place, third place and first place.”
Roz moved to stand by Dalton and tucked her hand through his arm. “You were going to confess, weren’t you?” She asked. Dalton nodded.
“That’s why I wouldn’t listen either,” his mother told him. “I thought it would do you some good to worry.”
“Yeah, well I’ll never do anything like that again, that’s for sure,” Dalton said.
A voice blared from the judge’s stand. “Honorable mention goes to Betty Fortress, Dalton Detmeyer and Thom Whatever. Contestants, come get your ribbons!”
Dalton wilted. Not only had Roz bested him again, he was going to have to collect a ribbon he didn’t even earn! He put a smile on his face and accepted it gracefully, but he wished the whole thing was just over.
He and his fellow contestants were asked to stay on stage while the other winners were announced. Melli Redhead took second place and John Doctor took third. The judge held his arms in the air, signalling for silence. A hush fell over the auditorium. Everyone held their breaths awaiting the final announcement.
“And the first place winner is …. Rosalyn Detmeyer!”
Rosalyn ran up on stage to a round of thunderous applause. She accepted the big blue ribbon and took the mic. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she said, “I want you to know that I absolutely, positively could not have done this without the help of my little brother.” She threw her arms around Dalton. He hugged her back and they stood together on stage laughing.
Got it? Good! In that case: Your story is due on: September 3rd, 2009