28 Plays Later 2024 – Brief 01 – the TLC Challenge: The Lost Cow

The Lost Cow



Scene: the front porch of a weathered farmhouse. GLADYS enters from a door, center, and sees something in the distance.


George! Tyler’s little calf is on our lawn again. Hasn’t he fixed that fence yet? This is the third time this week the poor thing’s gone stray.


(off stage)

Guess I better call him to come get it.



I guess you’d better come out here and lead the calf to our barn. It’s supposed to freeze tonight, and that creature’s too young to stay in the open. (beat) George? (another beat) George, I mean now!



I heard you, and I’m coming! You don’t need to scream your fool head off, woman. You’ll scare the calf away.

GEORGE enters from the same center door. He’s wearing denim overalls, and a baseball cap with the CAT logo on it. He’s carrying a rope lasso, which he swings as he moves


Alright, I’m here, now where’s the calf you’re so concerned about?



Over there, by the horse trough. Be careful you don’t trip, it’s dark out there.

GEORGE steps off the porch and disappears upstage left. There’s the sound of a lasso being twirled.


(off stage)

Oof! Hold it there. Now c’mon closer. I ain’t gonna hurt you.

From offstage there is a loud MOOO and then Blackout.

Read the entire play here: 001 – 2402.01 – The Lost Cow


Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Metamorphs. Changelings. Shapeshifters. They seem like something out of science fiction or fantasy. As a life-long geek (I maintain that I have too much fashion sense to be a nerd), I think of Maya from Space: 1999, Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Loki, both from mythology and from the Marvel comics and movies. t

And of course, I think of Kafka.

But the reality is that we are all metamorphs. We all change, adapt, evolve as we progress through life.

And right now, the world is changing around us. We’ve been told to stay home for the month of April… maybe longer…  We’re not to congregate. Bars and restaurants are doing curbside only. Churches and schools are going online.

What will happen in thirty (or sixty or ninety) days when we begin to ease back toward what we previously thought of as normalcy?

How will the world have changed?

And, how will I?

Well, we work from home anyway, so our day-to-day isn’t that different. I don’t have new blocks of unscheduled time to fill.


I have a list of exercises given to me by my physical therapist.

And I’ve got a new writing project (this one) that I’d really like to complete.

And a fanfic epic I’d like to work on.

But right now… right this minute? I’ve been in migraine hell for a week, and nothing is working. The pain recedes and returns, and a month from now… I just want a clear head.




It’s all relative.

Isn’t it?

Butterflies are Free

Like the Prose: Challenge #2 – Write the stupidest, dumbest, worstest story possible. Something even a 4-year-old would be like “dude… no! Just… no!”

Fisher Cat

Once upon a time there was a big little kitten who loved to chase butterflies. He wasn’t particularly good at it because he was overlarge for his young age, which made him kind of clumsy. This was great for the butterflies, because they always got away, but frustrating for the kitten, because he wanted to bring one of the pretty flying insects home to his mother. She loved pretty things. His brothers and sisters were always presenting her with birds and flowers and sometimes even field mice!

Imagine the kitten’s shock, then, when one day, a butterfly landed on his pink nose, and stayed there. It stayed there until the kitten nearly went cross-eyed from staring at it, except that his grandmother’s warning to him about making faces (“Your face’ll get stuck that way!”) rang through his wee furry head and made him blink and then reach up oh, so carefully with his front paws.


Well, more like…


And the butterfly was trapped between his paws.

He trotted home to his mother on three legs, holding the butterfly in one paw. The older cat would be so proud of her youngest kitten! Finally, he had a gift for her! Finally, he had done something grown up!

But his mother wasn’t happy or proud.

“Oh, Tommy,” she gurgled, “I know you meant well, son, but this butterfly is a rare creature, and nearly extinct. Didn’t you know?”

“No,” he purred back softly. “How could I? I’m just a little kitten.”

“Sometimes I forget how young you are, despite your size. Well, we have to call the Authorities, and make it right.”

The Authorities came – two big, brown, Rottweilers – and took the remains of the butterfly to be examined. “You’ll be called for a court date,” they said. “But it’s your first offense. The judge won’t be too harsh on you.”

For three days the big little kitten trembled and shivered, afraid to go outside. His mother tried to be supportive, but she was nervous, too. After all, she’d never had a child who was a criminal before!

Finally, they went to court. It wasn’t a full trial, just a hearing, where the kitten and his mother would speak in front of a judge.

“This doesn’t bode well,” Mama Cat said. “This is a kangaroo court.”

She wasn’t kidding; the judge was an actual kangaroo.

Before the judge could bang the gavel a woman with a briefcase came waltzing in. Well, not a woman. A Siamese cat. “Sorry, sorry,” she said. “I’m Matilda. I’m representing you. It’s my understanding that you’re a child and didn’t know the butterfly you killed was endangered?”

“Yes, that’s true,” Tommy’s mother said.

“That mitigates things. This judge may be a kangaroo, but she’s fair. Really. She never jumps to conclusions.”

“I’m not going to the pound, am I?” The big little kitten asked in a tiny voice.

“No, sweetie, that won’t happen,” his mother assured.

“It really won’t,” Matilda agreed. “Massive fine. Community service.  But not the pound.”

The judge asked her bailiff – who happened to be her joey – to call the court to order – and then asked Matilda to present the kitten’s case.

Just as the Siamese was finishing her heartfelt plea for lenience, a Kookaburra burst into the courtrooms, feathers flying everywhere, and a butterfly net in his talons. He dropped the net in front of the judge.

“Stop! Stop! Don’t sent the puss to the pound.”

“Listen here, bird brain,” the judge said, “this is juvenile court. No one’s going to be locked up here.”

“Good because no one killed an endangered creature. Just a normal butterfly.”

“Oh?” asked the judge, her ears standing straight up.

“Oh?” asked Mama Cat and Matilda, both their hackles rising.

“Oh?” mewed the big little kitten, his tone hopeful.

“Oh, no. The species you killed was a nuisance variety. Blue wings with red speckles. The species that’s endangered has blue wings with red speckles and yellow stripes. No stripes, no crime. Just an accident. Actually, a favor. Let this kitten go!”

The judge banged her gavel and called for order.

“As there was no crime, I declare this hearing ended. Tommy Kitten be more careful about what you chase. Perhaps you should meet Little Rabbit FooFoo and hop through the forest instead of stalking innocents. You could do with a friend. Dismissed.”

“Whoop-de-doo!” shouted the Kookaburra. “Tie me kangaroo down, Jack!” He bowed to the two female cats and winked at the kitten before leaving with as much flutter as he arrived.

Mama cat ushered her kitten toward home.

And Matilda?

As her services were now complete, she took the money and ran to Venezuela.


Art Therapy for Maturing Divas


The Brief

As you know, we are now called The Literal Challenge or TLC – so to celebrate that, let’s write a play about TLC.

“What? Second challenge and all you’re giving us are letters?! I expected far more!”

“Well, there is more! Loads more! In those three letters there is a whole range of possibilities”…

Perhaps set it in a spa, where customers receive special (!) TLC.

Perhaps write about a couple arguing about a Tables, Ladders and Chairs wrestling match (google it!).

What about a play consisting only of lyrics by the great band TLC, or just pick one of them – a monologue about a T-bone steak? About someone’s Left Eye? About eating a chilli? (This is far too early in the process for me to betray my age in such a way).

What about three characters talking but never using the letters T, L and C?

Or… go at it from a completely different angle. Take a hot bath and give your body some TLC as you free write (maybe don’t take any electronic devices though).

And of course – you could just write about THE LITERAL CHALLENGE!


The Exerpt

LUCY:             Impudent child. Tried to tell me there were rules. I told her I’d been cursing like a sailor before she’d been born and I wasn’t likely to stop any time soon, and when she’d been a    medic in a war zone she could maybe think about lecturing me. Fuck… was it knit six, perl three or knit five, perl two? (she begins ripping out stitches)

RED:               This is why you never complete anything.

DORIS:           It’s not about the finished project. It’s about the stimulation of the creative act. Making art is good for the brain.

RED:               We’re not ‘making art,’ we’re coloring in pictures. You’re just using a brush instead of pencils or crayons.

DORIS:           It is, too, art. I choose the brushstrokes. I choose the picture. And you, you select the colors you use. Or do you see a lot of cats striped pink and yellow?


To Read the Entire Play…

Click here: 1902.01 – Art Therapy for Maturing Divas