Belt buckle courtesy of Nigro’s Western Store Photo illustration by Greg Branson and Jill Toyoshiba The Kansas City Star
Belt buckle courtesy of Nigro’s Western Store Photo illustration by Greg Branson and Jill Toyoshiba The Kansas City Star


‘Fifty Shades of Hay’ is heating up


The Kansas City Star

January 09, 2015 02:38 PM

As writers, dear readers, parody becomes you. So does delicious innuendo.

We launched our “Fifty Shades of Hay” writing contest last Saturday with Chapter 1 of our six-chapter parody, a not-quite homage to E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

We wrote the first chapter and are asking you, week by week, to pen the rest. The sixth and final chapter will appear in FYI Feb. 7, the weekend before the film version of the way-off-color, not-too-literary best-seller hits theaters.

Our reactions to your Chapter 2 entries ranged from “Oh, my goodness” to “You go, girl” to “Wait, what the heck?” Some of the double entendres had us blushing more deeply than our heroine, Fantasia Irons. And yes, we laughed out loud. Jeez.

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In the various entries, eyes penetrated, thighs shook, lips pouted, fruit dangled. Also: a leather Speedo, four-inch heels, a bronco-busting glove, an aggressive stallion, a firm-horned unicorn and Spanx. In one, Tristan Hay had a penchant for giving horsey rides on his back. One plot featured his identical twin. In another, “he was a man who could get me to take my top down.” Easy there. Fantasia’s just talking about her convertible … we think.

Alas, there could be only one winner, and Virginia Brackett’s entry stood out.

To catch up, you can read all of Chapter 1, Fantasia Meets Tristan, here. The short version:

Pre-veterinary student Fantasia Irons makes the acquaintance of wealthy rancher-restaurateur Tristan Hay. She interviews him for the Kansas State University Gazette at the behest of her editor roommate, Kassidy. Fantasia is dumbfounded by Hay’s Flint Hills spread, unparalleled good looks, cocking head, piercing gaze — and his oversized silver belt buckle. Tristan’s husky farewell to Fantasia hints at things to come.

Chapter 2: Tristan and Fantasia Are an Item

By Virginia Brackett

The next morning, I sat up in bed and pushed my cocoa-brown hair out of my eyes. When I touched that mop of dark delight, I felt those eyes on me — the eyes of Tristan Hay.

I was still thinking about that shiny buckle. I’ve seen some buckles in my time, and his is one of the biggest. He wore it well, so well that I wanted to take some polish to it and make it shine. I pulled on skinny jeans and cinched the leather belt that I bought at the gift shop close to the American Royal.

Then the phone chimed. I brought my thoughts to a climax and then said, “Hello.” My voice echoed with innocence and charm.

“Miss Irons? Miss Fantasia Irons?”

Tristan! Heat poured through the phone. I thought of those big hands around my tiny waist.

“Yes?” Despite my cool reputation, I could feel a blush on my cheeks.

“Tristan Hay here,” he said. “Your friend, the reporter, gave me your number.”

Bless you, Kassidy.

“She said you would enjoy hearing from me.”

Dang you, Kassidy.

“I called because I want you to join me for dinner at the Harness Room. If you’re not already tied up.”


“My restaurant. The one that just opened in Manhattan.”

I sighed. I could hear him suck in his breath.

“Look,” I said, “I know that most girls would give the world to try your meat. But you and I probably shouldn’t … I don’t think we could. … I’m a vegan, after all.”

“I’ll have my chef rustle up his best salad. We can dress it ourselves, right at our table. I’ll send a car at 8.”

How could I resist? I sent a bunch of selfies to Kassidy to help me pick an outfit — a purple mini with a silver belt, silver leggings and strappy silver sandals. My hair swept up into a stylish pony tail, I donned a silver chain, and I was on my way.

I spotted him from the doorway. I stood in the light and swooshed my pony tail. He did that strange thing with his neck but stood up while the host walked me to the table. Everyone wondered who was this dark beauty who had corralled the richest man around. I was proud of myself for working a ranch term into my thoughts.

“What do you think?” he asked, gesturing around the room with a sweep of his silken-sleeved arm.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” I returned, posing, one knee bent, and swooshing again.

“Beautiful,” he said.

Just then we heard a wolf whistle, and Tristan whirled around with a snarl. But as he searched the dark corners with his smoldering gaze, he couldn’t find its source.

“Sorry about that,” he said, as he pulled out my chair. His knuckles lightly grazed my neck as I sat down. “No lady should have to put up with that.”

“Who says I’m a lady?” I teased. “Maybe I liked it.”

Dinner went by in a whirl. I didn’t flinch when he ever-so-slowly licked his greasy fingers.

“Let’s blow this place,” he said.

I knew I had drunk too much wine, but I didn’t care as the car charged up to his Manhattan townhouse. It beckoned me to step through the door. We walked down a long hall.

“This is one of my trophy rooms,” Tristan said, pulling me forward with a firm hand around my wrist. I touched the trophies and then swung my leg over the trophy saddle sitting in the middle of the room.

“What’s that?” I pointed to a glass box on the wall.

“My silver piggin’ string,” he said, cocking his head.

When I looked puzzled, he explained.

“A piggin’ string is what I use when I rope calves.” He took the box down, opened it and asked, “Do you want to touch it?”

I lifted the velvety rope from the box and brushed it across my cheek. He leaned toward me, and the rest, as they say, is history.


Now that Chapter 2 is in the books, Chapter 3, Fantasia and Tristan Break Up, is looking for a writer. Maybe you!

Let your satire flow, but just make sure the new installment takes its cues from earlier chapters and advances the story, keeping in mind the chapter title. In the real “Fifty Shades,” main guy Christian Grey cultivates interests not often discussed in a family newspaper, so our PG-rated story needs to tip-toe somewhere else.

Please hold your chapter to about 600 words, no more than 800, and email it to with “Fifty Shades, Chapter 3” 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 as well.

The contest will continue each Saturday, with entry deadlines on Thursdays, through Chapters 4, 5 and 6. Each week’s winner will receive a $20 AMC Theatres gift certificate and “Ffity Shades of Grey” movie memorabilia.


Virginia Brackett of Kansas City is an associate professor of English and director of the Honors Academy at Park University. She’s on a research sabbatical and says she enjoyed the writing diversion.

Brackett favors Southern fiction, including the works of Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers, and she’s a Virginia Woolf scholar. Has she even read “Fifty Shades of Grey”? Well, no.

“I have read about it, and I’ve talked to people who have read it,” says Brackett, who nevertheless liked the challenge. “Parody is not an easy thing to take on. I think this contest is so fun.”


To pair with Chapter 3, Fantasia and Tristan Break Up, tweet your favorite lines from breakup songs with the hashtag #50ShadesOfHay. Details here.