Every year I offer a bunch of my own entries for the 55 Fiction contest. This year, none of mine got selected by the noses-in-the-air, Ivy League, elitist, latte-slurping, vegan, obtuse, abstruse, Kangaroos, probably French, judges.
You should just hear them around the office, quoting Camus and Balzac and sighing deeply when they ponder how crappy most of the entries are.
Fortunately I can do whatever I want with my column, and so, to thumb my appendages at the judges who obviously wouldn’t know good writing if it came up and bit them on the Balzac, I present my own 55-word gems.
The fire closed in on Atascadero. The 101, closed.
Things were getting desperate; it was the firefighters’ last stand. Then, the worst: The pump broke.
Despair hung over the town.
Soot-covered and grimy, the out-of-town fireman shouted: “It’s okay, I know where we can get the part we need.”
“Where?” asked the mechanic.
Where’s my parking lot?
Mayor Dave Romero was dressed for Christmas on the Fourth of July, his pointy shoes curling, a sack in hand.
Everyone got presents.
For Allen Settle, a compass to point the way home. For Christine Mulholland, a nice view-blocking hedge. For the Copelands, the kitchen sink.
It was all he had left to give them.
Protection is hard to come by
The tiger salamander banged his gavel. Everybody was there: red legged frogs, fairy shrimp, snowy plovers, even a spotted owl from Arizona.
“Welcome everyone,” the salamander said. “And since there are no humans present, let’s get some air, shall we?”
Costumes unzipped and prosthetics came off until the room was full of nothing but rats.
Don’t play with atoms
An accident at Diablo Canyon during a politicians’ tour melded Abel Maldonado and Lois Capps into one supercandidate, with all of the senator’s momentum and all the congresswoman’s staying power. Neither party wanted the mutant, however, so the Libertarians came calling.
“No thanks,” the hybrid said with a forked tongue. “I’m not that desperate.”
Happy Fourth of July
County leaders were debating a ban.
“They cause injuries, start fires, and scare pets every year,” said one official, coming back from the bathroom. “I think we should throw them out.”
“Are all fireworks really that bad?” asked the woman on his left.
“Fireworks?” he exclaimed. “I thought we were talking about New Times staffers.”
I’m a judge
Oh, that’s crap. Next! Even crappier. Next! Nope. Crap. Sucks. Uh-uh. Nah. Crap. Seen it before! Crap. Crap. Crap.
“Sigh. Why do so many of them end with someone shot? Shouldn’t the characters at least deserve their fate?”
“Yes,” answered the contestant with a smile, one hand behind his back, “they should.”
Shredder, be better
I wrote a column telling you all how great I was, pointing out that I’d won an award.
I told you all how we should tell enviro Bill Denneen, because he seemed to think I suck.
Tell him, I said, how great a writer I am!
Too bad I misspelled his name.
And now, these found on the floor …
Don’t feel bad if you entered and didn’t win. In my opinion, having observed a lot of these contests, the very best entries don’t make it because they hit so strongly that they get nixed by one judge or another, who can’t take the heat. Here are three great, real, entries that I found on the floor in the reject pile.
Oh … excuse me
I farted, more substance than air. Embarrassed, I clutched my butt cheeks and inched towards the bathroom. The rumbling in my stomach warned me of the tsunami about to explode in my pants. Around the corner a line had formed and I was doomed to wait.
“Are you all right?”
I wetly trumpeted my response.
—Jason Gosseck, Milwaukee, WI
“Jack loves dogs,” he told himself, plucking the puppy hair out of his teeth.
—Kevin Bahr (no locale given)
The phone rings and rings and rings and rings.
But I won’t answer it.
Because I’m afraid it might be me, calling me, again.
And I don’t think I could stand that.
Not a fourth time.
—James Harris, Rydal, GA