We've narrowed the field down to eighteen and we're continuing on with the play-off rounds – which as promised will come at a rapid fire pace. I will be posting one contest a day this week (Mon-Fri) and four next week (Mon-Thur). The voting for all nine bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, August 31st. Your task remains simple…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most. If you haven’t already done so in the previous rounds, offer some critique if you have time. Anyone reading this can vote, so blog/tweet/facebook/text/smoke signal everyone you know and get them to take part in the fun. Vote on as many bouts as you can get around to. Whether that is one bout, or all nine, how much you participate is up to you.
Here’s something else to keep in mind for this round...every vote counts. That’s because the contestant who doesn't win their bout but garners the most votes amongst all of the other losers, will become a wildcard winner and still advance to round 2.
The winners will be posted late in the afternoon on August 31 and then round 2 will kick off the following Monday, September 1st, with all new 500 word submissions from the nine advancing contestants.
Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!
In this corner welcome back to the ring.....Nanato4
My father, in the tradition of his Irish ancestors, was a great storyteller, slipping into a brogue as effortlessly as the wind blows across the fair green isle. His stories had a moral and a bit of humor, but as children we were transfixed by the waggle of his bushy eyebrows, the rising rosiness of his cheeks and the characters he brought to life,each with their own accent and gestures.
One of his favorite stories concerned an incident when he was about ten years old. It was the height of the depression, and his parents, like so many others, struggled to feed their family. My dad, the eldest of four children, did his part by working in the vegetable garden, feeding his baby sister and running errands.
“Bubsy, go next door to the Steinberg’s and get some eggs,” his mother said, handing him a precious dime.
“How many should I get?” he asked, knowing a dozen cost fifteen cents.
“We need a dozen for supper and breakfast tomorrow.”
“Yes, Mommy.” Confused, he hesitated, squeezing the dime in the palm of his hand.
“Ask for the cracked ones.”Handing him an empty wicker basket, she nudged him out the door.
The Steinbergs were an elderly couple, who made ends meet by keeping chickens in their basement. Dad both feared and admired his stern neighbors, having watched Mr. Steinberg whack the head off a chicken with a single swipe of a hatchet.
In a pitch perfect Yiddish accent dad quoted Mrs. Steinberg answering the door that day. “Robert Enerson, you are a sight. Have you brought back my cookie tin?”
“No ma’am.” He stared at his scuffed brown shoes.
“Then what is it boy, I haven’t all day.”
He opened his palm and held out the dime. “I’d like some eggs, please.”
“Come in, young man.” She took the basket and the dime. “You want eight eggs, then?”
“A dozen please.” He looked up at her raised eyebrows, quickly adding, “but only the cracked ones.”
“Sit yourself down,” she waved him toward a sofa as she headed to a door that led to the basement.
“Saul!” she shouted down the stairs. “Robert needs a dozen cracked eggs.”
“I haven’t any cracked ones.” Came the distant reply.
“I said I need a dozen cracked eggs,” she said, a bit more sternly.
Dad got off the sofa and crept closer to hear.
“I haven’t got any cracked eggs, I tell you.”
Sotto voce, she replied, “Then crack some.”
The story was about charity and dignity, for there isn’t one without the other. I wonder if, in our government efforts to ameliorate poverty, we haven’t lost two important things. One, a sense of satisfaction by personally giving to others in need, and two, the dignity of taking only the assistance necessary to live, for the shortest time possible, and graciously accepting cast-offs to that end.Dad has passed away, but his stories are with me always. Stories meant for enlightenment as well as entertainment.
And in the other corner, also anxious to return to the ring, let me re-introduce.... Cocktail Lion
The brick house was the tallest house on the street and the brick house knew it. It towered twenty feet over the competition and that was without the rooftop launch pad torn down and smashed to rubble in the 1950s. The brick house was three stories tall and could tell a thousand.
On hot days, its limestone windowsills smelled like burnt barbecue and gunpowder. Dark red stains clung to chalky mortar. Thick concrete floors hid old bones and air shafts that whistled in the dark.
A century-long line of home inspectors had said, “Completely safe and stable,” and each time, the brick house grinned quietly. It was immovable and ingenious and fireproof, but the best word to describe it in English was “dangerous.”
The brick house was looking out, keeping its eyes open, biding its time. It expected a lot and usually got it. It knew what it wanted. It never settled, would never settle for anything. Its jazz-blue front door and curling ivy vines were cocky: The brick house was strong and good-looking and the brick house was kind of a jerk.
But that didn’t change the fact that it knew its stuff. That didn’t change the things it had seen and the lives it had helped begin and end. That didn’t change the dark corners it would show the right tenants and the questionable plans it had for their future.
And the brick house knew that gangly, twelve-year-old Conley Hoss was the perfect candidate.
Chapter One: The Night Visitor
Conley had been staring at the ceiling for about half the night, wondering who he’d hang out with on summer break. He was deciding whether a dent in the plaster resembled an alligator or an amoeba when he noticed the draft. The window had definitely been shut when his dad hugged him at bedtime, the old air conditioner humming and rattling outside. Now a warm summer breeze was flowing over his top bunk, making his forehead sticky.
Weird that the window was open. And why did the warm air smell so strong, like...the zoo?
Conley sat up in bed and leaned toward the window. A faint sound came from outside, something hard scratching against the house’s brick wall. Scritch, scritch, scritch. The sound got closer. So did the smell.
Don’t be a baby, Conley told himself. He climbed down his bunk bed’s ladder and stood motionless. Scritch, scrit-. The sound stopped. Probably one of his mom’s apple trees, blowing in the wind. He glanced at the bottom bunk. Empty. Strange, Wyatt was missing He took two steps and looked at the second bunk. The sheets were rumpled but they were empty too. Weirder and weirder. Where were his brothers?