The Fiction Challenge: 'Billie Jo' by Terry Gassett

The Fiction Challenge: ‘Billie Jo’ by Terry Gassett

Editor’s note:

As we head into the second week of our fiction writing challenge, I just wanted to remind everyone about the rules – the ways to support your favorite writer/story. To support your favorite story for the win, click the blue starred “like” button at the bottom of the story. To support a story without voting for it to win, click the gold stars for ratings. However, you can vote on each story if you wish.

To the authors: send these stories out into your personal networks. Get your fans, friends, family, children *laughing* to come and vote. Good luck to each of you. We have had some great stories so far, and it’s going to be a tight race. We have several more stories to come.

Thanks to all of our dear readers for supporting these wonderful writers and their work. Enjoy!

The Fiction Challenge: 'Billie Jo' by Terry Gassett

Wild Card Photo

Billie Jo

Billie Jo turned the key in the lock as she had hundreds of times before, opened and closed the door, threw her purse and keys on the waiting table, slipped out of her work clothes and headed straight for the shower.

As the warm clean water began to wash the smell of greasy food from her body, it simultaneously seemed to wash the day’s work from her mind. The conversations were a bit harder to wash away. She could still hear them playing in her head.

“I’ll have a number four.” He said. “Two eggs, over easy, hash browns lightly browned, oh, and be sure to drain the grease off, an extra slice of bacon, orange juice, and freshly brewed black coffee.”

“Anything else?” she asked.

“No, that’s it. But be sure the grease is drained off the hash browns, leave the pulp in the juice, and that coffee is freshly brewed, right?”

“Right.” she answered, as she called back the order to the cook, “Need a number four. Drain the grease, extra slice bacon, and make sure the coffee is freshly brewed.”

Same thing every day. Same people, same orders, same greasy food.  But, it was her job to smile, take the customer’s orders, reassure them that the food and the coffee were fresh, and smile again as she delivered it to the table. And smile again each time she poured another cup of coffee. And then again when she brought the bill; smiling at that moment was the most important time of all because that’s when they were deciding on the how much of a tip to leave.

She hated the whole thing. She knew she was destined for more. She let her mind drift there, as the shower continued to wash away the smells, the conversations, and the body aches from standing long hours on her feet.

Now, she was no longer standing. She was sitting. And smiling. As she played her guitar and sang her latest hit surrounded by her adoring fans. No longer did she smell like greasy food. She smelled instead of expensive perfume. Her uniform had been traded in for a black tee and some “a-little-too-tight” jeans. Her long blond hair hung loose and flowing, and her face was radiant. The only thing that hurt her these days was her hand. Autographing just about anything that was thrust at her seemed to do that. But it was an ache that was so worth it.

The water turned cold and snapped her back to reality.

She needed to run down the block to Donna’s house to pick up her daughter. This was the highlight of her day. To see her little girl’s face light up, and her arms reaching out while exclaiming, “Mama!” It melted her heart!!

She was fortunate to have a supportive network of friends who loved and helped them both. She certainly had never had that from her own family.

Her (now) Ex had walked in one day and proclaimed, “I don’t want to be married anymore.” Just like that. Nonchalantly. As if it didn’t require any explanation or discussion.  And there never was any. Not about the reason he left, or the reason he cleaned out their meager savings before leaving, or why he used their car to leave.

Not until she discovered the explanation. There was another woman involved. She was the explanation. And she wasn’t even pretty! “Seriously,” she thought. “If he had decided to leave because of another woman, at least he could have found one who was prettier.” She really didn’t know if this fact made her feel better or worse.

It had been a hard time for both she and her daughter.  She was so grateful for the many friends who had helped her and were still helping.  Being a single mom was hard. There were those days when she was so dogged tired she felt like she couldn’t move if the apartment caught on fire. Then there were those decisions that needed to be made. Alone. And there was the whole sole provider role. Long hours, overtime, and the constant worry of whether she could make it to the next payday or not. They always did though, with a lot of help from friends.

There were the good times too; the times she and her daughter had “Fruit Loops” or Banana Splits for dinner. The times they stayed up late watching funny movies snuggled on the sofa bed together. The times they met Donna at K-Mart and ate breakfast with her and her two daughters before doing a bit of shopping together on a Saturday morning.

Then there was the time they had spent a weekend at the Intercontinental Hotel, an upscale hotel in the heart of New Orleans. Her boss had won an “all-expense paid” weekend for two and was unable to go, so he gave it to Billie Jo and her daughter to go and enjoy some rest and relaxation. Somehow the “all-expense` paid” weekend ended up costing a bit more than Billie Jo had in her bank account. It seemed the paid expenses didn’t include the $14 a day parking, the snacks eaten from the mini fridge, or the room service menu they had used to order in each meal for the entire weekend. In the end, she had to call her boss and ask him if he would please come down and bail them out by paying the $200 bill they had run up over the weekend. It took a very long time for Billie Jo to pay her boss back for the “free” weekend he had gifted them with. But it was worth every penny!

Every other weekend, she sang at a little neighborhood county music club. She hated to leave her daughter with a sitter again while she was singing. It was hard enough leaving her each day to go to work. But children weren’t allowed in clubs.

One day she would be on tour in her very own tour bus and she would take her daughter with her.  No one would tell her then that her daughter couldn’t come along. It would be her bus and she would be able to afford to hire a “nanny” to go on tour with them and care for her daughter.

If only she could find a way to get discovered. A way to get her name out there. If people knew about her, she knew she would become famous! She just knew it! She’d written several good songs, ones that she got regular requests to play. Surely one of them would go gold!

It had been a long day, for both her and her daughter.  After a dinner consisting of leftover burgers and French fries from the diner, it was time for her daughter’s bath and bedtime for them both.

She went to sleep thinking about “Gladys Glover,” a fictitious character played by actress Judy Holliday in the romantic comedy, It Should Happen to You. As an aspiring model, Gladys had been unable to find work or make a name for herself, so she rented the largest billboard she could afford, in the busiest section of New York City, and put a life-sized name and picture of herself on it. Almost overnight Gladys became “famous”, simply because her name and picture were up in lights.

That’s what she’d do. She would save her tip money, move to Nashville and rent a sign and put her name and picture up in lights, just like Gladys did. It would work. It had to.


“I’ll have a number four.” He said. “Two eggs, over easy, hash browns lightly browned, oh and be sure to drain the grease off, an extra bacon slice, orange juice, and freshly brewed black coffee.”

“Anything else?” she asked.

“No, that’s it. But be sure the grease is drained off the hash browns, leave the pulp in the juice and that coffee is freshly brewed, right?”

“Right,” she answered, as she smiled her biggest smile, just like Gladys Glover had on her billboard.

Monthly Contributor: Terry Gassett


Hi, I’m Terry Gassett, Jesus Follower, Wife, Mother, Nina, Life Coach, and Writer. I was born and raised in the “Deep South” and I still live and work there. I have been married to my heartthrob for over 30 years, and we have three grown children, three granddaughters (two who are twins!) and a Chi Chi/Jack Russell perpetual pup.

I am a Life Design Coach and I work with Creative Christian Women to design lives of purpose, passion, and joy!

When not listening to women’s hearts through the coaching process, I am expressing my own through writing.  Currently, I’m writing my first book – “Breathe, Just, Breathe: Breathing in the Extraordinary Gifts of God on Ordinary Days.”

     Two Drops of Ink/A Literary Blog:

Published posts on Two Drops of Ink:

1) An Instrument of Beauty

2) Journey to Joyful Living

3) Hump Day Humor: ‘The House on Lesseps Street’

4) Fridays with MaMa’

5) Memoir: Leaving a Legacy of Love

6) Finding Inspiration

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  1. This is going to be a tight race. We still have several more submissions that will make publication. Just a reminder, at the end of the contest (which will probably extend another week at the very least), we will do a blog post listing all the stories giving readers and authors one more chance to pull off the win by directing people to vote on their story.

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