A to Z Challenge: X


Four cellos and two violas swayed in, and my anxiety soared knowing my moment was fast approaching. And her moments on Earth, this Madeleine, this French xylophonist, herX remaining moments hung in the balance. Like Tchaikovsky before me, I would send the French to her deserved death, and the entirety of the percussion populace would hail the victory.

I stealthily moved, the snare drum unnecessary for Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece 1812 Overture, and positioned myself behind the loudest instrument on stage – the cannon!

The first of sixteen shots rang out to cover me, I raised my weapon in glory toward Madeleine – but alas, the sweet entry of the church bells prevented me from consummating my task. Unlike the French in 1812, Madeleine survived to further annoy us with her triangle, and I’ll forever rue the day.  ###


Thanks for coming by, and shout-out to Serena for suggesting Xylophonist. The six-sentence story, based on occupations, is my theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Inspired by Hemingway and his six-word story (For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.) and brought to you by Xerox, the document company.

If you choose to listen to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, which I highly recommend, you might turn down the speakers so the dogs don’t start barking at the cannon fire. I don’t care if you have dogs, I’m talking about ALL the dogs in your neighborhood. The request lines are open for Y – oh, I can taste the end!


19 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge: X

    1. “The xylophonist will not survive,” I said to myself when embarking. And yet, somehow, against all odds, even when I joined conspiratorially with the rest of the percussion ensemble, we couldn’t pull the trigger. Why stop music in any form?

      Remember, it was those bells down in Whoville that helped grow the Grinch’s heart three sizes that day.

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  1. I’ve missed a few letters but had to come in for “X”! This was as smooth as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture,,, but I have to ask, was poor Madeleine targeted b/c our killer was being driven by the dinging of her instrument of choice? (if it could be called that…)

    Almost there, John! Y – first thing that popped in my head was your way of “saying” yeeeeeeesssssss! 🙂 Otherwise, yodel, young’un, yams, yak, yogurt, yacht…

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    1. You picked the right letters to miss. Exhaustion took over for the U-V-W section, but hopefully I can finish with a flourish like Tchaikovsky’s cannons. Thanks for returning, I might need guidance toward the finish line of this marathon. Those final 385 yards are always uphill.

      It would appear poor Madeleine was targeted for her instrument of choice, but of course, I’m only speculating as this was not a six-sentence memoir.

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  2. Love this. Love the 1812 Overture. Love the cannon. Beautifully done, John. I am not sure what you do with Y as a profession. Yak Herder? There really aren’t enough of those. Yes Man, sometimes called a Toady? Anyhow, I am sure you will work it out. Glad you got lots of editing done yesterday. I hope today is another productive day. I am so looking forward to diving back into my manuscript on Saturday.

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    1. Haha, I like Yes Man, that’s kinda funny. We’ll see if I have to fall back on that.

      Elise, we will be in the same mental space come Saturday. This exercise has really demonstrated what a deadline will do for you, even a self-imposed deadline.


  3. I’m not sure I liked : ‘I would send the French to her deserved death’, but that could be just the french in me talking. 😉 Madeleine survived in the end, so it makes up for it. Y for YMCA employee?

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    1. Well, allow me to put it into context. One of the drawbacks of a six-sentence story is there ain’t much time for backstory. So in this case, my narrator was a Russian just like Tchaikovsky. The 1812 Overture is about the Russians miraculously holding off Napoleon’s French army, so that’s why he chose the cannon shots in this piece to mask the sound of his own weapon while firing upon the French xylophonist.

      Alas, his love of music and fellow humans overtakes him and he can’t go through with the act. Perhaps I should have named the narrator Vladimir and written it in third person instead of first, but I could second-guess myself all the way until Y shows up — the biggest issue is this wacky six-sentence format which has proven itself much more difficult than I ever dreamed.

      But thanks for the comment. I really enjoy someone’s honest feedback so I can figure out a way to improve, so I’m grateful you said it instead of just thinking it.


  4. So, a percussionist who still isn’t over the War of 1812? That’s sad, but it makes for a creative premise. Good stuff, again, John! 🙂 Y… Yodeler, Yo-yo-er, Yak herder, Yachter (I’m stealing from Donna), Yard worker, Yellowstone National Park Ranger, YouTuber (which is an actual profession, if you didn’t know–people whose YouTube accounts are so popular, they actually get paid to make videos full-time)…?

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  5. I love it. I think this is one of your best stories because it has so many layers. Well played, sir, well played. I’m going to miss the stories.

    Yard lots of things, yardman, foreman, worker, pusher. Yarn cleaner, examiner, grader, skeiner. Yeast washer, young adult author, yodeler as has been suggested,

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    1. Thank you, Julie, I appreciate that. I was on a downslope for a few letters there, I think due to exhaustion. Man, it’s tough coming up with a story a night. Six sentences seems like nothing, but you need a story.

      I still have to get around to blogs tonight, still have to come up with a Y, and, of course should be editing my poor, neglected manuscript. Saturday will be so welcome!


    1. Ha, that’s funny. Here’s the actual story: I drove around with my son trying to find a picture for a “crime” photo. I thought this one might make it look there was a hit out on me, that kind of “under contract.” As it turned out, I think it just makes it look like I’m a realtor, which I’m definitely not. But I haven’t had time to drag my son around town and find a new picture. Certainly no time this month!


    1. That’s funny. I know what you mean how one little thing can become a major distraction in something you read, and you can’t get past it. A weird thing, but it happens to me too.

      I don’t know the answer to your question, I’m not musically knowledgeable enough. You’d have to ask Peter (Pyotr?) Tchaikovsky, because he’s the one who wrote it that way. Probably more viola players in most orchestras, but only two of them get to open the 1812 Overture. Perhaps the others are taking cover before the cannons fire!


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