Friday, June 5, 2020

Bootleg: Secret Subject Swap

Welcome a Secret Subject Swap. This month 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Read through mine and at the bottom you’ll find links to all of today’s other Secret Subject participants.

Secret Subject Swap, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

My subject is: Two people walk into a bar . . .
It was submitted by: P. J. of A 'lil HooHaa.

I'm guessing P. J. had no idea, when he sent in this prompt in the pre-coronavirus era, how vastly different the world would be when it was received. What I might have written, had I gotten this assignment back in January or even February, is inconceivable now.

Two people walk into a bar, each wearing a mask and gloves. Together, but not together. She, because she was nervous, arrived 10 minutes early, wearing a red blouse as instructed. She took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer. The bartender took out a bottle, wiped it down with a disposable wipe and handed it to her. She sat, looking at it, trying not to think of her husband. It was a relief that he would never know she was there, he worked long hours, six nights a week, risking his life so they'd have at least one income after she was laid off.

He arrived right on time. He'd done this many times before so he wasn't nervous at all. He should be, considering how he was making money, but it just wasn't his nature. He took a seat 6 feet from her holding a red rose, also prearranged so they'd know each other, laughably unnecessary considering they were the only ones there. He too ordered a beer and they both watched the bartender go through his ritual.

It was absurdly difficult, trying to have a conversation six feet apart, wearing masks and with the bartender pretending to look busy off to their right. Steven knew he'd have to take the lead, he could see Jessica was tense, that she clearly had not done this before.

"Jessica", Steven started.

She turned slightly, stiffly, to look at him, reacting to the name she'd given him.


"Why don't we go out to my car?"

Getting right to the point, she thought, no small talk, all business. 

"You don't want to drink your beer", she answered, stalling. 

"Look, you initiated this, I'm here. You have the money?" 


"How about this, I'll go out to my car and wait. When you're ready, come out and get in the passenger seat of the only car that's out there that isn't yours."

"Okay," she was obviously relieved at the short reprieve, the smile behind her mask reached her eyes.

"Don't be long," he warned as he stood up "I have other appointments after this."

After Steven left, "Jessica" sat there thinking. More like trying to convince herself. She knew she was taking her life in her hands getting into that car. But she knew that when she made contact with Steven. And she really needed to do this, wanted it so badly. 

She cringed getting into his car, she'd have to throw away her clothes when she got home and wipe her car seats with lysol, and . . .

"I need to see you count out the money," Steven interrupted her train of thought.

She took out the bills and started counting "twenty, forty, sixty, seventy, and five." He held out a sandwich bag and she put the money in.

He then startled her by moving towards her. She stiffened but he turned, reaching into the back seat, and opening a cooler. She barely glimpsed what was inside, packaged as she was used to seeing it in her local Publix, what looked like ground beef to one side and roasts on the other side. From the center he pulled out what she'd asked for and held it up.

"Ridiculously expensive," she said.

"Actually a bargain," he said. "It's my last one and this is the black market, not your neighborhood store. You can take your chances there but we both know you won't find anything. So take it or leave it but in 2 minutes I'm outa here and the price goes up for the next customer."

"Jessica" held out a sealable gallon sized plastic bag and Steven put the package in it.

She didn't realize she was holding her breath until she got into her own car and let it out in a burst. She looked at the bag she was holding and smiled. They were beautiful. She'd already baked the cake, and now she and Johnny would have coveted grilled Rib Eyes for his birthday dinner. 

Even if it killed her.

Believe It or Not Chocolate Cake is a low sugar, no milk, eggs or butter but incredibly good cake. Serve with fresh berries, for a healthier dessert option. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #cake

Believe It or Not Chocolate Cake
Believe It or Not Chocolate Cake is a low sugar, no milk, eggs or butter but incredibly good cake. Serve with fresh berries, for a healthier dessert option. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #cake

Yes, my friends and readers, it's a strange story to be writing, especially given what my prompt was. But these are strange times. And although you may see this little piece of fiction as dark and pessimistic, I choose to see it as a love story.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Believe It or Not Chocolate Cake

Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup maple syrup
6 TBSP canola oil
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking cocoa powder

fresh berries for serving

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan.
*In a large bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, 3/4 cup baking cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
*In a separate bowl, whisk together the orange juice, maple syrup, canola oil and apple cider vinegar, then add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
*Pour evenly into the cake pan. Bake for 35 t0 45 minutes or until the center of the top springs back to the touch. Cool for 20 minutes in the cake pan before running a knife around the edge and removing. Cool completely.
*Mix together the powdered sugar and remaining baking cocoa powder. Sift over the cooled cake. 
*Serve with fresh berries.


  1. Hahaha, you got me!
    First I was thinking "affair", then "contract killing" - never would my mind have gone to "black market steaks" ;-)

    That chocolate / orange cake sounds amazing!

    Happy Friday!

    1. I'm so glad I kept you guessing, exactly what I was going for!

  2. LOL I thought maybe she was buying toilet paper or Lysol spray. Especially since those are the hot ticket items.
    I could easily see some people doing this very thing.

    1. Yes, it could have easily been either of those, good guesses.

  3. Oddly enough, my mind immediately went to 'toilet paper'!
    Actually a sweet, sweet story, Karen!
    What we do for the people we love.
    And it was especially nice to think of her doing it for someone working hard to keep the family going!
    Loved it!

    1. I actually thought of doing it as toilet paper, but I thought it was too obvious, wanted to keep you guessing until the end.

  4. Good one! More timely, too, since TP has returned to the shelves in my grocery store but meat is still hard to come by.

  5. What I thought was going to happen wouldn't be printable in a family blog but this meeting never could have happened where I live because our bars and restaurants (NY) are still pick up and delivery only except as of yesterday outdoor seating is allowed! (Major hurrah) As far as the shortages here, it would have been chicken (probably more precious than rib eyes at one time), wipes (which are still hard to get) yeast for baking, and some other things that don't make much sense as far as "why can't you get these things?". (I did finally figure out why bananas were being rationed!) I pinned that cake for later - I have brownies to use up...I mean, enjoy, and some candy, and other stuff before I will bake again. Alana

    1. Yes, it's different everywhere. Bars are open here, we never had any kind of stay at home order so those that closed did so themselves. Hope you make the cake (one friend just made it today) and that you enjoy it as much as we did.

  6. She took her life in her hands to give her love what he wanted. So sweet.

    That cake looks so good!

  7. The Secret Subject Swap was such a good idea and I enjoyed what you wrote. That cake looks good!

    1. I developed the Secret Subject Swap 8 years ago, if you can believe that, and we've been doing it monthly ever since!

  8. Ok now I want cake just saying
    Leo asked me what bootleg meant because it has nothing to do with legs wearing boots

  9. I hope it doesn't come to that, but anything is possible these days! So glad to be back at home (two weeks early)! We'll talk VERY soon!

  10. Love that name of that cake and boy does it look good!!

  11. You tease! hahaha I sat here thinking "karen can't possibly writing what it seems like she's writing." Great one.


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