In Chapter 3 of “Fifty Shades of Hay,” the plot twists and turns like a bouncy lock of Fantasia Irons’ cocoa-brown hair.
Not really. As in the original, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” there’s not much plot at all, but the third chapter of our parody is way, way funnier, thanks to Larry Hightower of Kansas City. He’s the winner of this week’s contest, earning movie prizes and brief fame.
We provided the first chapter of our six-chapter parody and are asking readers to pen the rest, week by week until Feb. 7, before the opening of the film version of E.L. James’ erotic story.
In Hightower’s Chapter 3, after a moment of clarity for Fantasia, our lovebirds at the very end do break up. That was about the only contest requirement for this week. We were drawn to many of the entries, including one that introduced Tristan Hay’s twin brother, Newmown, and another that featured an Elvis-officiated wedding in Las Vegas. A branding-iron-hot stare and an extended Hummer were in there, too.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But Hightower’s clever wordplay had us at howdy. ZIP codes. Who’d athunk?
This week’s challenge, dear readers and writers, will require stepping up the plot. In Chapter 4, Fantasia Finds Trouble, something terrible will befall Fantasia, and whatever it is throws our mismatched lovers back together.
To catch up on the story so far, you can read Chapters 1 and 2 here. The short version:
Fantasia Irons, a Kansas State pre-veterinary student, meets Tristan Hay, a fabulously wealthy rancher-restaurateur. She interviews him for the college newspaper, and she’s smitten by his cowboy good looks and unrelenting gaze. He, too, is drawn to her je ne sais quoi.
After that initial encounter, Tristan calls Fantasia and asks her to join him for dinner at one of his restaurants, the Harness Room, in Manhattan. They repair to his townhouse, where he shows her his trophy room and the silver piggin’ string he uses to rope calves …
Chapter 3: Fantasia and Tristan Break Up
By Larry Hightower
I woke up alone in the ginormous bed. I wiped the sleep from my saucer-like blue eyes. The thread count of the sheets was high enough to be a Hawaiian ZIP code. I was swimming in luxury, but did I need a life vest?
Still I was alone; just me, my shadow and my thoughts. I sure wasn’t much of a cowgirl, having failed to keep my calves together. Last night was history, but this morning, I was doing the math.
Tristan appeared in the doorway. His head was cocked beneath a white Resistol hat. His feet were clad in what appeared to be armadillo skin Tony Lama boots. Between those vestiges of cowboy culture he wore a white apron. He smiled. “How do you like your eggs?”
He decided for me. “Over easy?”
Yeah, that was me last night.
I scowled. “I don’t eat eggs.”
“Nah? I can rustle up some other vittles quicker than two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”
Rustle up vittles? Two shakes of a lamb’s tail? Who talks like that? He turned on the heels of his Tony Lamas. I realized that hat, boots and apron were all he was wearing. Part of me wanted to jump into neatly folded clothes, make a rope ladder of the gazillion thread count sheets and climb down from the balcony. Another part of me wanted to say, “Forget the breakfast. Bring those buns in here.”
Later, I padded to the bathroom which was big enough to have its own ZIP code. Jeez, why did I have ZIP codes on the brain? Why was I thinking about the fact that Lebanon, Missouri’s ZIP is 65536 — two to the sixteenth power? Tristan sure had my unzip code.
I looked in the mirror. Girl get it together! My big, bouncy, cocoa brown hair wouldn’t behave — perhaps because I hadn’t. I stood barefoot all the way up, knowing that half the women in a 100-mile radius of Manhattan would kill to be standing in my shoes.
Breakfast on the veranda — roses on the piano — Jeez. Saturday morning became Saturday night. The next thing I knew it was Monday morning, and I was in danger of missing Biology 213 at 10:30 in Room 405 of the Science building. Though this had been an amazing weekend, there was still a part of me that wondered if I was just another number to Tristan — a 36, 24, none of your beeswax.
We kissed over black coffee until it became stone cold. His steel gray eyes penetrated me. He cocked his head.
“I know we’ve only known each other for a few days, but they’ve been magical. Would you consider moving in with me?”
My heart nearly stopped. He wound up giving me a modified version of CPR. I wound up missing Biology 213 in Room 405 as we studied anatomy in condo unit 306. Jeez Louise — what a unit!
Later he twirled my big, bouncy, cocoa-brown hair. “Say, I'm sponsoring a charity ball for Co-eds Without Boundaries. Want to go?”
“I’m not sure I have anything to wear.”
He smiled. “Not a problem. Take my Titanium American Express card. Spend enough and we can earn a trip to Paris, Texas — or that other one.”
He frowned. “I’m afraid there’s a bit of a catch.”
My heart stopped, leading to more modified CPR. He cleared his throat. “I have a shy brother, Andy. Could you fix him up? Maybe a friend, your roommate?”
“My roommate is pretty, but she’s a real tomboy. I’m always asking. ‘Why do you dress so butch, Kassidy?”’
“We could get her gussied up, too.”
Gussied up? Who says gussied up?
“You could take her dress shopping? Call her. I’ll make us some watercress sandwiches.”
“Hold your water.”
“Never mind. I’ll call.”
He returned, bent, cocked his head and kissed me. “Is Kassidy interested in dating my brother, Andy?”
“She said ixnay on the Andy Hay. She wasn’t comfortable with letting you buy her dresses, either.”
“Money’s no big deal, darlin,’ I can just slaughter another herd of cattle.”
I took a sharp breath. “I’m a vegan!”
“If I’d known that I’d taken more time.”
I didn’t need a mirror to know that my saucer-like blue eyes were blazing. “Tristan, this is a problem. I can’t be immersed in all this wealth knowing the money came from the death of innocent animals.”
He rose, cocked his head and glared at me with steely gray eyes. He picked up a phone and pushed a button.
“Send a car to take Ms. Irons home.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larry Hightower of Kansas City is a retired Missouri state worker in employment and training — and possibly a budding novelist. He hails from southwest Missouri and moved here seven years ago.
Until the contest, Hightower had no interest in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” He recalled downloading a sample chapter to his Kindle, but “it didn’t engage me,” he says kindly.
Hightower has several novels in the works, including a neo-noir detective story set in Natchez, Miss., in 1957, that has an agent. His favorite writers are Daniel Woodrell, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.
“Parody comes relatively easy for me,” Hightower says about the contest. “My challenge is to nail the syntax. Fortunately, I’m in a critique group that provides excellent feedback and support.”
TRAGEDY STRIKES? SEND US CHAPTER 4 ENTRIES
Chapter 4, Fantasia Finds Trouble, needs a writer. It might be you!
The new installment must takes its cues from previous chapters and advance the story, and this week something big or bad or even semi-tragic must befall Fantasia, and whatever it is brings (or throws) our lovers back together. We don’t know. We can’t wait to see what you come up with! And remember, hold a little back in the risque department.
Please hold your chapter to 600 words, no more than 800, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Fifty Shades, Chapter 4” in the subject line. Include your name, hometown and daytime telephone number. The deadline is 8 a.m. Thursday. Feel free to enter in future weeks, too.
The contest will continue each Saturday, with entry deadlines on Thursdays, through Chapter 5 on Jan. 31 and 6 on Feb. 7. Each week’s winner will receive a $20 AMC Theatres gift certificate and “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie memorabilia.
| Edward M. Eveld, email@example.com