As if being flattened by a cow weren’t enough, in our penultimate chapter of “Fifty Shades of Hay” the resilient Fantasia Irons takes up again with the mysterious Tristan Hay only to get a bigger shock.
No, we’re not going to tell you here. But Kelly Gibbens of Kansas City does, below, in “Chapter 5: Tristan’s Secret Exposed.” She’s the winner of this week’s installment, and the revelation will quench your quota for quirkiness. Trust us. It goes beyond the quotidian, but you won’t get queasy. Hmm.
Our tortured parody of “Fifty Shades of Grey” began a few weeks ago. We wrote the first ridiculous chapter and then asked readers each Saturday to pen the next.
Each winner receives a $20 AMC Theatres gift card and a “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie poster. The winner of “Chapter 6: The Finale,” however, will get even more prizes (details below).
We bow to the other Chapter 5 submitters, who intrigued us with their tales of silk cowboy shirts, sexy corn-on-the-cob nibbling and a tofu factory. A twin — evil, of course — was again imagined, this time with the name of Twisted Hay. Tristan’s various secrets: He’s a rodeo clown, confesses to a criminal past, has a full set of dentures. They fall out. Chaos ensues.
And now, readers and writers, you must tie up our send-up with “The Finale.” Make it big. Make it splashy. And we won’t mind if it’s a real pundemic.
You can click here to read the story so far. The gist:
In a random act of college journalism, Fantasia Irons and Tristan Hay collide. She’s a Kansas State pre-veterinary student. He’s hunky to the nth power, and his ranch and restaurants have made him a fortune.
Tristan takes a fancy to the saucer-eyed co-ed and invites her to dinner at one of his restaurants. They lose a weekend at his townhouse, ahem, complete with Tristan cooking up vittles attired only in Tony Lama armadillo boots and a white apron. But when he plans to squire Fantasia to a charity ball and jokes about slaughtering cattle to buy her things, the vegan Fantasia leaves him.
Later, in a twist of Midwestern fate, she is stampeded at an outdoor concert by a single cow, one of Tristan’s. The lovestruck couple reunite at the hospital, she in a full body cast, he swearing never to use his ill-gotten meat profits on her behalf. They kiss.
Chapter 5: Tristan’s Secret Exposed
By Kelly Gibbens
If I wasn’t a vegan already I certainly would be one now! The memory of being charged by a crazed Charolais is something that I would like to forget. Fortunately my solicitous caregiver had been very successful in distracting me. Mr. Tristan Hay no less, the zillionaire cattle baron, had put his empire on hold just for me. Jeez!
Tristan, my knight in shining armor. Well, more like knight in Tony Lamas, made sure all my needs were covered. Once I was sprung from my body cast, I made sure I showed my appreciation … uncovered … and often.
Kassidy is stopping by this afternoon, and I’m glad for some girl time. I really need to talk to someone, and Kassidy is the best. She always tells me like it is, keeping it real!
“Lately, Tristan has been so distant. I don’t think it’s my imagination. Something’s not right. The other night he came to bed late. He said he’d been checking on a sick heifer, but the next morning when I saw his jeans they were covered with threads, lots of ’em. And he smelled like fabric softener.”
Kassidy frowned. “Well, babe, sounds like you need to get your rear in gear. You can get him to fess up. I know you, just bat those big baby blues!”
“Jeez! You’re right. It’s just I know it hasn’t been easy for Tristan, what with his mother dying in that freak branding accident and then a few years later, his dad was found smothered under a hay bale. … OK, I’ll do it tonight!”
Dinner conversation was strained. We had made a food agreement: Tristan wouldn’t chow down on a steak in front of me, and I wouldn’t tempt him with tofu. As this was meatless Monday, we both toyed with our entrée of Crispy Buffalo Fried Cauliflower, saying little. I couldn’t bear the tension.
“Tristan, we have to talk. Please tell me what’s wrong. Something is coming between us.”
Before I knew it, I was bawling like a baby. Tristan pulled me into his arms. “I never want to hurt you. But you’re right, there is something.”
Tristan looked deep into my eyes. “I have something to show you. I’ve wanted to for a long time, but I thought you might freak out.”
He took my hand and led me upstairs. The walls were flanked by 20 grand plaques and photos from American Royal shows. I had never been on the third floor. We came to a door. Tristan unlocked it and switched on the lights.
On the walls were quilts of every pattern and color imaginable. It was dazzling. It took my breath away. Jeez!
“Fantasia, this is my secret … my obsession. I’m a quilter! You see my mother was a quilter, but after she died, Dad locked all her things in here. He couldn’t bear to see her quilts. That’s why we always had comforters on the beds.
“I became obsessed with this room, and one day I picked the lock. I found myself surrounded by fabric: cottons, silks, velvets. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t stop fondling the fabrics. Before I knew it, I was cutting out patterns, something an 8-year-old boy shouldn’t do, and then my dad walked in just as I was thumbing a thimble.”
I began to speak, but Tristan shook his head.
“My dad dragged me out of the room and forbade me ever to enter it again. I didn’t go back until years later, after his death. The room had cast a spell on me. I couldn’t stop. The hours I spent in here … quilting. I even had my quilting magazines delivered to a post office box in Kansas City. I didn’t want anyone at the ranch to find out.
“I was once naïve enough to think that I could enter a quilt at the the state fair, but when I got there, I was unable to pull out my ‘Gentleman’s Fancy.’
“I was ashamed. What if some good ol’ boy recognized me? You saw all those plaques downstairs. So my ‘Fancy’ and all the other quilts hang in here. Now you know the truth.”
“Tristan, these are beautiful. You have nothing to be ashamed about.” I found myself stroking the mitered corners of a quilt. “I love all the quilts, especially this one.”
Tristan turned me around. I could see a little of the old Tristan, the one who made my stomach do flip-flops when he cocked his head and smiled.
“Funny you should choose this one. It’s called ‘Emphatically, Yes!’”
I pulled his quilt-worn hands in mine. “Teach me. I want to learn.”
“Are you sure? It might take some getting used to.”
I kissed him. “We have all the time in the world.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Gibbens of Kansas City loves everything about food and travel. She is working on a movie-themed cookbook, a collaboration with her mother, partly based on Gibbens’ time in Spain.
She has written for food magazines and was drawn to the contest for the writing challenge, but she has prided herself on being a person who hadn’t read the E.L. James novels.
Her favorite authors are many, including Michael Malone, Lee Child, Doris Lessing, Joan Didion, Douglas Adams, Jane Austen and Pat Conroy.
“Pretty much give me a book and I’ll be happy with it, unless it’s ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’” she says, laughing.
THE FINALE! Chapter 6 awaits you
Bittersweet, we know, but it’s time for you, our writers, to bring it all together in one explosive “Fifty Shades of Hay” denouement.
How you whip it together is up to you! By the way, you needn’t have devoured the real “Fifty Shades” to submit an entry. None of the winners so far say they have.
“The Finale” winner will receive a $20 AMC Theatres gift certificate — plus an enhanced “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie memorabilia swag bag: a sleep mask, candles, lip balm, poster and T-shirt. With the stakes higher — and to up everybody’s game — this time we invite past weekly winners to submit an entry. Sharpen those keyboards, folks!
Remember to keep it PG, unlike the “Fifty Shades” mothership by E.L. James. Shoot for 600 words, no more than 800, and email it to email@example.com with “Fifty Shades, Chapter 6” in the subject line. The deadline is 8 a.m. Thursday. Include your name, hometown and daytime telephone number.
The winner will be revealed Feb. 7.