Thursday, December 28, 2006
There are probably 101 ways to judge a contest like this, the Weekly’s annual celebration of supershort fiction. This year, as in the past, we used a two-stage process, with four judges reading every story and four others selecting from the top vote-getters. At the end of Round One, 32 entries were running in a pack out in front of the rest. And at the end of Round Two, only one story had been selected by two final judges as the winner.
The two judges who liked other stories to win have accepted the final results, but they are not even trying to mask their disappointment; they felt strongly about their own favorites. That’s how it was this year—these stories made people care. That’s a pretty cool accomplishment in 101 words.
Congratulations to Hayward Hawks Marcus, who will receive a check for $101, and to runners-up Lawrence Petersen, Harvey Schrier and Catherine Shaughnessy, who will receive gift certificates to local restaurants.
WILL WORK FOR CANDY
The aged and splintery wooden boardwalk in front of Gunny’s Mercantile was a minefield of rot and danger. After several ladies twisted their ankles falling through the decayed sections, Gunny paid a kid named Hector three chocolate bars to paint red circles around the cankerous boards to warn the unwary. Upon completion, Hector convinced Gunny he also needed a sign, and negotiated for another three candy bars to do the job. He finished his masterpiece just before doubling over with stomachache. The sign screamed from the Mercantile wall in drippy, red letters: STEY OFF THE RED PARTS! THAY ARE DANGJERUS!
Hayward Hawks Marcus / Las Lomas
Looking down, I regard my toe-blown shoes. When, even in childhood, had these feet been so poorly shod? There are days I see feet, no longer attached to their bodies, that would be accepted by a greeting host before my own. But at the sound of the tires of heavy military trucks, see how fast these flapping sandals run. My house is open and my wife, my children are inside. There are cousins on my rooftop, crouched and pointing tools of death. Suddenly the air is no longer possible to breathe. I am ashamed to leave such an unfashionable corpse.
Lawrence Petersen / Monterey
TIME TO GO
She talked, like stopping would kill her. It consumed everyone at the bar. Still, we drank. One could hardly get a word in edgewise, but things went too far with me. Now, on her couch at 2am, her amorous expectations aroused in me a fear of waking up next to her. Why had I let this happen? Finally, she took a breath. “I really can’t, my herpes are out.” A desperate lie, what can I say? Silently she slid beside me, caressed my nose with her finger and lightly kissed my lips. “It’s OK, I have it too.” Lucky me.
Harvey Schrier / Monterey
The feral cat hobbled toward the house from a tragic field, as desperate for an end to its pain as I was for the end of mine. With its starved body and snapped limb, it was barely recognizable. It hissed a stark growl, filled with fear. Everyone pointed, “There’s your cat,” reminding me it was time to end my mourning. I refused—too much pain. Tears rivered my face. Time went on, and the cat recovered. One day, I tossed out a string of trust. She grabbed on with her good paw, both of us fearless now and free again.
Catherine Shaughnessy / Salinas