The Nerve

4 May

I was out on the lawn minding my own business when a couple dozen words fell out of the sky and landed on my 100 word story for Madison Woods’ FridayFictioneers. (Her story is here. Please comment and leave a link for your story. And remember that our ranks are growing so it’ll take time to get to all of them. [Patience is a virtue few have and even fewer learn. I read that somewhere.])(My apologies to those I didn’t get to last week. I really am trying.) I decided to use the windfall in this week’s submission and my publicist, Glenda, agreed. So here it is, based on the picture below, extra words and all. Hope you like it. Aloha, D.

P.S. This story is partly for Russell G. Enjoy.

The funnel cloud writhed, sinuous and silent above rich Illinois farmland. Huge tree limbs and debris suspended aloft circled the great grey gyre that bent all to its will.

“If you’re going to stay up here, say hello to the Wizard for me,” screamed my wife as she disappeared down the cellar stairs. She was a miserable shrew and a total control freak who, over the years, had become oil to my water.

“Courage,” I heard Bert Lahr intone.

A quarter mile away the maelstrom’s tip lowered and I saw a blue flash as the Baum’s power line snapped just before their house was blown to splinters and the roar of a thousand locomotives filled the air.

My last thought before everything went dark was that, like it or not, the witch was finally going to have to get some new wallpaper for the living room.

82 Responses to “The Nerve”

  1. Craig Towsley May 4, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Ah Doug, great words and images, and a right hook of a punchline. Well done.

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Dear Craig,

      Thanks. As Madison says, “I’m headed your way now.”



  2. unspywriter May 4, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    So great! Loved how the Baum’s were included. Great touch. Here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      Hi Maggie,

      I’m glad you noticed. Thanks for reading. headed to yours now. (Trying to ride the tsunami before sleep takes me. This thing always starts at midnight Hawaii Standard Time and kicks my arse. By the time I wake up I’m miles behind.)



  3. oldentimes May 4, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I hope he is looking out from OZ, and she is in turmoil! 🙂 mine is here

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      Hi Oldentimes,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. (And it was a very cool comment, too:) Headed your way now.



  4. Carlos Repuesto de la Tabla May 4, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    Nice one, Doug — a light-hearted suicide. Very nice description in the first paragraph, and a great imaginative leap from the prompt.

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Carlos!

      Thanks for dropping in (No pun intended.) (I’ll bet that’s what the witch of the east would have said to Dorothy had she been standing a little bit farther to the left.)



  5. Madison Woods May 4, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Hahaha, I can’t believe I laughed as someone strode nearly gratefully into death! I think Russell will definitely get a kick out of that one, LOL.

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Dear Madison,

      Thanks for laughing. Best compliment in the world. (Now go to work!)



  6. rochellewisoff May 4, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Hahaha. Thanks for the giggle. Yes, we are joined at the hip on this one. Love the Wizard of Oz references.

  7. Jess Schira May 4, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    What a fun story. I can see insanity radiating from his eyes as the tornado hit. I can’t help feel a little bit for the wife, something tell me her spouse wouldn’t have been the easiest person to live with. Very well done!

    Mines at

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Dear Jess,

      As is often the case in relationships, it takes two to tango. (Can’t have slaughter without the laughter.) Thanks for stopping in and welcome to the gang.



  8. Russell May 4, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Dear Doug,
    I burst out laughing when got to “like it or not.” If you keep writing humor like this, I going to start wearing Depends when I visit your blog. You led us down the serious path, then blew us away with the ending. Now I know how the wicked witch survived so many centuries–she hides in the freakin’ cellar!

    I hope you find mine half as amusing as this one

    and thanks for thinking of me at the top 🙂

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      Hi Russell,

      You are the master, but I’ve been paying attention. I’ll send you some Depends for next time I try humor (mixed with reality.)



    • Lora Mitchell May 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      Too bad no one has your address… I can imagine your mailbox stuffed with packages of “Depends”…lol.

      • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

        Dear Lora,

        I hope when I finally need them that my mind has gone (maybe to OZ to be with my friends.) Thanks for reading and commenting. Off to look for yours now, Oh My!



  9. tollykit May 4, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Wonderful descriptions. And tthat ending gave me a fit of the giggles. I’m still smiling. Thanks for sharing.

    Here’s mine

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 11:43 am #

      Thanks Elaine,

      I’m trying to go the Russell route this week (kind of.)



  10. Linda May 4, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Ooh, the hatred dripped, this is obviously a relationship that has long since died and it came across beautifully (if that’s the right word for such an ending).

    Here be mine:

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 11:44 am #

      Dear Linda,

      I was trying to straddle about three fences with this piece. Probably fell off of all of them, but it was fun trying. Love your comments. Headed your way now.



  11. TheOthers1 May 4, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Lol. I loved the words you used here. I don’t see the word gyre ever and I’m a fan of the rarely used shrew. Great story telling!

    My story didn’t come to me with the same type of fervor, but I managed something.

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      From one wordsmith to another, Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed The Nerve. Headed your way now.



  12. Joanna Gawn May 4, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Loved the Wizard of Oz references, and I can empathise with his despair over the wallpaper 😉 Very visual, which always works well for me.

    I think I’m having a day where I like the S-words: sinuous, silent, snapped and splinters.

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 11:55 am #

      Dear Joanna,

      I’ll remember that you are visually oriented. So am I, so we’ve got that going for us, as Carl Spackler would say. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.



  13. Gary May 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t entirely sure of what was going on, but the ending was still amusing. I don’t remember that much of The Wizard of Oz these days so I didn’t get the references, I’m afraid.
    This comment seems much more of a downer than intended, I really did enjoy the story regardless of my lack of memory!

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Dear Gary,

      Tornado deciding whether to touch down. Guy watching it and deciding whether he wants to ride it out in the cellar with his witch of a wife. (Hmmm, maybe ‘witch’ will work better than ‘bitch’. Maybe a small edit is in order?) Decides to take his chances as the tornado touches down nearby and heads towards him. Some OZ references thrown in for good measure. The end. (No pun intended.)

      Thanks for stopping in. I appreciate any and all kinds of comments so no worries if you think yours sounded like a downer. it didn’t.

      By the way, I’ve got a good memory, but it’s short. I feel your pain.



  14. V. L. Gregory-Pohlenz May 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    *Laughing heartily* Wonderful–have a stitch in my side from laughing. It was genius the way you intertwined the reality and the “Oz.” Remarkable job.

    Mine: http;//

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

      Dear V.L.,

      Thanks so much. I’ve never aimed directly at the moving target that is ‘humor’. I think this blind squirrel just managed to find an acorn. Thanks for reading. Really loved your iece this week.



  15. Sandra May 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    I liked the bit about ‘the oil on my water’. Just the right image for the couple. I didn’t get the Wiz of Oz references until I googled Baum, Bert Lahr and gyre, but I got there in the end, and it made me smile. I learn something every week on Friday Fictioneers… You’ve been to mine, but for others I’m at:

  16. siobhanmuir May 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Wow, desperate times call for desperate measures. I can feel his need to escape and using this as the easiest way. Nicely done, Doug. 🙂

  17. JKBradley May 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    And off he went to see the Wizard, wallpaper and all.

    Here’s mine:

  18. Kris Kennedy May 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    I love when reading your writing, I become more educated about many things. When I read your work, it is like I am going to school, on culture, life, history, movies…and that was my truth today. I love how you bring humor through…

    Here is mine:

  19. teschoenborn May 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    Ah wonderful, I’m still chuckling. The tie-ins to the musical are classic, the last line brilliant.

    Here’s mine:

  20. Lora Mitchell May 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    Excellent. Enjoyed your OZ references, Knowing Bert Lahr…he would have loved it. Too bad he has to snuff himself. Was life that grim? Should have found a way to get rid of her instead. Maybe double lock the cellar door so she had no shelter? Here’s mine:

  21. Atiya May 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    Great story. You guy is making a break for it from his miserable coexistence. Just for the few words and actions the wife did in your shortie made me dislike her. His blase attitude toward her and her wall paper had me actually excited that he chose to move one from that life. Love this share, here’s mine:

    • dmmacilroy May 5, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      Thanks Atiya,

      He might have survived, you know. (Maybe:) But, yes, he had reached the end of his rope with her. Thanks for visiting.



  22. Lindaura Glamoura May 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    You managed to write a beautifully descriptive piece containing not only humour, but a universal unconsciousness wrapped between these broken walls and shreds of old wallpaper! Good job,
    Linda Lindaura

    • dmmacilroy May 5, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      Dear Linda,

      Thank you for your kind comments. And many, mayn thanks for trying to educate those bloggers on Blogger about how to get rid of Captchas. I love you.



  23. Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) May 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Wow…she must really have been wicked, Doug. I hope the chance of hanging with Dorothy and the munchkins was worth ending it all. L.F.B. would be proud. (And don’t think for a moment that I missed your publicist’s name…oh wily one).

    ~Susan (

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      Dear Susan,

      Was wondering if anyone would catch that. So glad it was you. I will find your story soon. Faithfully wending my way down the line.



  24. Kaitlin May 4, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    How interesting. Sort of grimly annoyed and fatalistic. Great job!

    You’ve read it, but here’s mine!

    • dmmacilroy May 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      Dear Kaitlin,

      What’s neat about this story and the reaction to it is that most people think my MC is going to die. i prefer to think of him choosing the lesser of two evils. And he might come out of it alive, you never know.

      Thanks for stopping in and reading.



  25. KT McClure May 5, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    Aside from the tornado behaving just like the ones in my dreams (born in Indiana so I guess it’s in the genes), I was charmed by Bert Lahr and the Baums making a cameo. The references eased the grimness into something less awful, if no less final. ‘Courage’.

    Thanks for visiting,

  26. pinionpost May 5, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    Doug — I really enjoyed the web of Oz references, put in new contexts, and your imagery (the sinuous funnel cloud) is very rich. Thanks for your comment on mine!

    • dmmacilroy May 5, 2012 at 8:40 am #

      My pleasure, sir. I had a close brush with one once, so that part was easy.



  27. Steven E.A. May 5, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    As someone from the midwest, I can relate to this very well. Excellently done! It was as if I was there.

    • dmmacilroy May 5, 2012 at 8:38 am #

      Dear Steven,

      When I was eighteen and in boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center a tornado dropped out of the sky a thousand feet away and destroyed a trailer park. I stood transfixed the entire time and will NEVER forget that fifteen minutes. The description was easy in this one, so I was lucky.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.



  28. sacha1nch1 May 5, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    no reason at all why he has to die; and i’ve emailed paul simon asking him to rewrite the song for you

    • sacha1nch1 May 5, 2012 at 4:39 am #

      he said is, ‘just catch the tornado, alfredo,’ ok?

      i said i’d ask

      • dmmacilroy May 5, 2012 at 8:39 am #

        Haha! Thanks for adding that verse for me. Wish I’d thought of it.

        Thanks for dropping in (no pun intended.)



  29. Jeffrey Hollar May 5, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    I loved this one, especially the Baum reference. Nice way of slipping that in there. Interesting to consider a guy who’d rather have a house collapse on him than seek shelter bottled up with his shrew wife. Been there, done that. LOL. Seriously though, well done sir.

    • dmmacilroy May 5, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Dear Jeffrey,

      Glad you escaped alive. Thanks for the comments and your keen eye.



  30. Mike May 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    A thoroughly enjoyable story Doug.
    A great take on the picture and clever reference to Oz.
    I loved the last line – he must have gone out with a smile on his face as he thought of her having to finally replace the wallpaper.
    A great read – thanks.

    • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

      Dear Mike,

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment on The Nerve. I appreciate it a great deal. Did you have a link this week? I just finished your fractured fairy tale, Mary Mary. Thought it was a classic remix.



  31. tedstrutz May 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Could not have thought of a better story for that prompt… period!

    • tedstrutz May 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      (Since I didn’t write one… of course)

      • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

        Dear Ted,

        So that’s why I couldn’t find yours. Whew!

        Thanks for the kind comment above, my friend. See you next week? (three days? Yikes!)



  32. Scott Hays May 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    Being commentator number 58 or some such thing, not sure how I can add anything new or enlightening to rock this place or blow your socks off. Except to say that I enjoyed the strong imagery and the tongue in cheek Oz references. Your final line provides me with an idea for possibly how to strengthen the ending of mine (which you have already seen, and thanks for doing that)

    • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      Dear Scott,

      Thanks for stopping by. Remember that half the comments here are from me thanking folks. Like this one!

      See you in a few days.



  33. Parul May 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Imaginative and humorous!
    And dream-like!
    Different.. I liked it!

    I don’t have a link to share yet. Might not get time at all.. :/

    • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

      Dear Parul,

      I have no idea how anyone can keep up with it all. No worries and thanks for the compliments/comments. I’ll keep looking for you. Three days until a new 100 words is due.



  34. Julia Stevenson May 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    I’m from Kansas, and can totally relate to both the tornado & Oz! Very well written (I’m jealous!), and I loved, loved, loved the last line!

    • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      Dear Julia,

      Comments like yours really fuel my fire. Thank you for sharing. Do you have a link to a story for the photo? If not, I’ll look for you in a few days. Friday’s coming.



  35. bridgesareforburning May 7, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    Having spent 10 years of my life in Kansas, I can really relate. When you’re from Kansas, everyone thinks you know Dorothy. One of my colleagues at a Kansas university was an expert on Baum. Nice of you to dedicate it to my fellow Ozarker, Russell. All in all, I think this message has been brought to you by the letter G. Write on, my friend. Ron

    • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

      Hi Ron,

      Thanks for checking in and commenting. See you in a few days?



  36. Michael Fishman May 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I hope he made it to Oz! If not, at least he’s away from the witch. I liked the references to the Wizard of Oz in the story, those were fun.

    • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      Thanks Mike.

      I hope he did too. Glad you liked some Oz sprinkled in there.



  37. Janet May 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    Doug, loved the rich descriptions and the layering of OZ. Wouldn’t have thought death by tornado would be funny but you achieved that. Great work.

    • dmmacilroy May 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      Dear Janet,

      Thanks for stopping by to say Hi and comment. See you in a few days. Friday’s on the way.



  38. elmowrites May 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm #

    Good job, my friend. Sorry for the delay in reading it – I’ve been away and I’m finally catching up. I loved this story, and I thought you conjured it absolutely perfectly, in words and images. The wife is nicely depicted – you don’t make her out to be a dragon but you don’t judge your narrator as unreasonable either. This is one of my favourites of yours so far!


    • dmmacilroy May 9, 2012 at 3:52 am #

      Dear Elmo,

      Thanks for every sentence but especially the last one. I like it when a story comes together; even more when others let you know it worked for them.

      On that note, Marigolds came together seamlessly. Good job



  39. Judee May 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Wow, she must have been some kind of “witch” for him to prefer staying topside during a tornado! Great voice, and fascinating tale.

    • dmmacilroy May 9, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

      Dear Judee,

      Sometimes you just have to say, %&*# it! and jump.

      Thanks for stopping in. New photo prompt posted already. What will we do? Looking forward to reading yours.



  40. oni1138 May 9, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    love it!! ‘She was a miserable shrew and a total control freak who, over the years, had become oil to my water.’ and ‘My last thought before everything went dark was that, like it or not, the witch was finally going to have to get some new wallpaper for the living room.’ definitly my fave parts though not sure my wife will agree!! ;p

    • dmmacilroy May 9, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      I’m glad I tickled your funny bone. Living life between the tornado and the witch can be a trial sometimes. A little laughter makes a good storm shelter.

      Thanks for dropping in. See you on Friday.



  41. theforgottenwife May 11, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Awesome! I loved this! I came here looking for this week’s Flash Fiction, but am so happy I got this one instead. The last line is absolutely epic – loved it!

    • dmmacilroy May 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      So glad you found this instead of that. Thanks for adding one more comment to The Nerve. I really do appreciate you taking the time to read all the way through to the end. I followed you and hope to read a lot of your work in the future.



      • theforgottenwife May 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

        Thank you! I look forward to reading through your blog and more of your posts as well!


  1. The Nerve (II) | ironwoodwind - June 18, 2014

    […] I first posted this story (The Nerve) it was woefully overlong at 147 words because I had yet to master the fine art of slicing, dicing […]

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