Fun With Fiction

Writing-wise, we have one heck of a deep bench here in Greater Chicagoland. A source of pride brought home to me this past weekend at the Printers Row Flash Fiction Contest, sponsored by the Midwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (full disclosure: I’m a member). The first year we held this beast, it was a relatively small event, attended by a mere 40 or so hardy souls willing to stick around in the midst of a howling thunderstorm. Crammed inside the MWA tent, with the canvas sides put up to shield us from rain being flung by the fistful outside, so dark in there that people read their entries by flashlight, their words punctuated by lightning flashes and growls of thunder. A dark and stormy night, indeed. 🙂

Since then, it’s expanded vastly in popularity and space, and the quality of entries continues to be high. Here’s mine; the opening sentence is one of six writing prompts from which contestants could choose. Read and enjoy…

Best Served Cold

I had the butter melting in the pan, the vegetables chopped, and the .45 ready in the drawer. All I had to do now was wait. Timing was crucial for what I had in mind. An episode of “Road Kill House” no one would ever forget.

Next to me, Wallis was goofing around with the olive oil and garlic in the stew pot. God, I hate Wallis. He thinks he’s funny. Has no clue his dancing-Southern-fat-boy schtick is so lame that if it was a horse, you’d shoot it as a kindness. The audience eats it up. People are such morons. Which is lucky for me, I guess–it pays the bills. Still, I’m a serious gourmet. Food matters to me. It’s hell being upstaged every week by a clown.

“Now our Essie-girl’ll jes’ bring over them peppers an’ broccoli…” My cue. Essie-girl. He makes me sound like a prize cow. I lifted the cutting board–smile pretty for the cameras, Essie-girl!–and dumped the vegetables into the butter-slicked skillet. Heard them sizzle. Gave them a stir. Snuck a glance at today’s star attraction: a rolled roast of beef sitting on the counter. Right in front of Wallis.

My heart started to pound. Almost time…

The smell of carmelizing garlic almost made me sick. Or was it fear? Or excitement? While Wallis plopped his chubby hands down on either side of the meat and launched into his spiel, I eased open the drawer. Closed my hand around the .45. Slid it out, taking care to keep it hidden from the cameras.

“Now we’re gon’ take this-yar hunk o’ beef an’ put it in the big ol’ pot…” Wallis picked it up like he was hefting a barbell, shifted his feet like a dancing bear. Now. I tightened my grip on the gun.

“Hang on,” I said. My voice rock-steady. “It needs one more thing first. Just one more thing.” I raised the .45 and pointed it straight at Wallis’s fat gut.

He shrieked and dropped the roast. I steadied my aim and fired. Six times. The bullets thudded into their fleshy target with satisfying spurts of blood and chunks.

Wallis stared at me, breathing hard. Tatters of raw meat splotched his shirt. “What the hell–?”

This was my moment. I faced the camera. “And that, ladies and gents, is how not to tenderize beef.”

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