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WRiTE CLUB 2013 - Playoff Round One / Bout 6

Today we start the second week of bouts that make up the first round of the WRiTE CLUB play-offs.  There will be four contests posted this week (Mon-Thur), which when added to the five bouts last week bring the total to nine.  The voting for all play-off bouts will remain open until noon on Sunday, September 22nd. 

Your task remains simple…read the submission from each WRiTER carefully and leave your vote for the sample that resonates with you the most.  Whether you've been following along from the beginning and have a familiarity with each of them, or this is your first time's just a matter of choosing the one you feel deserves to move forward. If you haven’t already done so in the previous rounds, please offer some critique if you have time.  Anyone reading this can vote (after signing up on this LinkyList) 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 September 22nd and then round 2 will kick off the following Monday with all new 500 word submissions from the nine advancing contestants.

Good luck to all of the WRiTER’s!

And now…..

In this corner welcome back to the ring for a second time.....S. King

Washing dishes is a simple task, almost mindless in fact. It’s where my mind goes during this necessary task that kills my soul. Susan said I should just stuff everything in the dishwasher, pop in a detergent pack, let the machine do all the work. She said I deserve a break. I say I don’t deserve shit. But that’s the way life is; never what you expect—or want. Daydreaming out the kitchen window while my wife works the evening shift at JC Penney’s—a perfume spritzer I think they’re called— doesn’t help. In the mornings she waits tables at the Waffle Shack on Main.

This evening I’m finishing up the breakfast dishes while tonight’s dinner simmers on the stove; a pork chop recipe I found on the internet. A Blue jay stares at me through the kitchen window. I wonder if it can think like I think. Does it have hopes and dreams like I used to? A train’s whistle blows somewhere in the distance. A picture of a conductor, all muscle with soot coated overalls, fills my mind. I imagine a calloused hand tugging at the whistle string and glance longingly where my left hand used to be. I don’t see it as a problem, though. Doing dishes with one hand is just like doing them with two, only slower.

At a quarter to nine Susan comes in with a mind bending array of perfumes following her into the kitchen. She kisses me on a scarred cheek, barely suppressing a yawn behind her tired smile, then eyes the pork chops with only mild interest. Mechanically, she lugs her plate to the table. I picture the conductor again, wondering if he has a wife to go home to, and two hands to hold her tight.

Susan says something to me, her voice barely audible over the sound of her fork sliding around her plate, pushing her pork chop from one side to the other. She wants me to call the electric company tomorrow and see if they’ll take a partial payment. She says she wants me to do it because I have a kind voice, but that’s not the real reason. I see the apprehension on her face when she tells me to mention to them that I’m a veteran. I half-smile and tell her I’ll see what I can do.

When I can bear the sadness in her eyes no longer, I gather the dishes and take my familiar spot at the kitchen sink. There’s a stiff south breeze blowing across the back yard. The porch light elongates the shadow of a tattered rope swing hanging from our oak tree. It was there when we bought the house two years ago, three months before I went to Iraq. I never bothered to take it down, maybe thinking one day my own child might use it, but the baby-making equipment went with the hand.

The train’s whistle moans again. I wonder where the conductor is off to now.

And taking the spot on the other side of the ring for their second go-around...Imalie Teller.

“You see anybody pokin’ around, lookin’ for her?”

The little man shook his head and waddled across the floor. He was out of breath. The three steps up to the wagon from the ground were a climb, for him.

“Well? Was there anybody?”

He realized she hadn’t looked at him since he’d come into the wagon. She hadn’t seen him shake his head. “No. Nobody looking.” Rascal put his short, stubby fingers beside Maizie’s bottom on the bunk mattress. He pulled himself up onto his tiptoes and craned his neck to see around her back. “Too young to be a runaway. Hell, too young to go places alone.” He settled back onto the soles of his shoes and waddled to the head of the bunk to face Maizie. “We need to tell somebody. We can’t leave town with her in this wagon. They’ll send us to Sing Sing.”

“We ain’t doin’ a thing but takin’ care of this child nobody wants. We ain’t done nothin’ wrong.” Maize hadn’t looked away from the bunk, not once. She leaned forward and put the back of her hand on the little girl’s forehead. Satisfied with what she felt, she gently smoothed the child’s bangs back down.

The wagon lurched into motion. Rascal was sent staggering. He grabbed Maizie’s arm with his thick, short hands. It was the first time he’d touched her. He didn’t let go, even after his feet were steady on the plank floor. The bare skin below her sleeve was soft, but he could feel muscles and bone, too. She had to be strong, a woman on her own with the carnival. She didn’t have a man, wasn’t part of a performing family.

“Too late to tell anybody, now. We’re on our way to Albany,” Maize said.

She still wasn’t looking at him, but she didn’t pull her arm away, either. Rascal moved his fingers a little, stroking her. He knew it was bold and too familiar, but it was obviously a night to take chances.

“Rascal,” Maize said, her voice suddenly worried, “do you think she’s too pale? I think she might be too pale.” She did pull away, then. She put both her hands on the child’s cheeks. She ran her thumbs over the delicate, closed eyelids.

Rascal swallowed his disappointment and stretched up again to look at the girl. The child surely was pale. The vibration of the moving wagon blurred Rascal’s vision. The girl’s drawn face and her corn silk hair nearly disappeared against the background of the white pillow.

“She surely is pale,” Rascal admitted.

“Like an angel,” Maize breathed. “She’s pale the way angels are pale.”

“Just like an angel,” Rascal agreed. He wondered if he could steal some formaldehyde from Wesley’s pickled punk jars. If he could keep the girl from rotting, maybe Maizie could keep her.

Leave your vote and we'll see you back here tomorrow for the next match-up!

Remember the WRiTE CLUB motto, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!


  1. S.King's piece is well-written and sad. I can't find anything wrong with this reflective little narrative, except that it's not normally the type of thing I read and I don't have a lot of interest in reading on.

    For me, the two circus performers and the dead child are a more interesting situation. I would choose this one to continue reading because I want to know what happens next.

    With apologies to S. King (whom I voted for last time) my vote in this round goes to Imalie Teller.

  2. I enjoyed them both. They're both emotional, but on different levels. I think it will come down to preferences. I'm going to go with Teller, because something intrigues me about these two characters caring for a dead child. Strange...

  3. I voted for S. King in round one, and I still very much like this wistful piece. And I voted against ImalieTeller in round one although I really enjoyed it, simply because Vampyr14's piece resonated with me more. But both of these are very good, and I can certainly see why someone might prefer one or the other. I salute both writers and compliment them on their work.

    Overall, I think the characterization in S. King's piece is stronger -- I have a much clearer picture of the Iraqi vet than I do Rascal and Maize. And I'm definitely a character-driven reader, but today I'm actually going to go with ImalieTeller. I think the story elements are richer, and there are so many more dramatic questions aroused in the reader. The forward motion of Teller's story is just so strong that it ends up being the more compelling piece.

  4. S. King gets my vote, and boy does this get any harder?

  5. Different scenarios but similar styles. S. King by a verb.

  6. Imalie Teller, i just love that scene. :-)

  7. S. King, I think. Although this one was a really tough decision.

  8. Imalie Teller - I loved this the first time around and I love it again now!

  9. I vote S.King.
    Loved it from the first moment I read it.

  10. Imalie Teller. Rascal and Maize feel real to me - better character development, better dialogue, the voices are honest. The story is moving forward at a better pace - so many big questions raised in such a short space. Well done!

  11. Boy, this one's difficult because both are so polished. I'll go with Imalie Teller.

  12. Think I'll have to go with Imalie Teller this bout.

  13. I vote for Imalie. Though the beginning confused me a bit with "she" suddenly coming in. It would've been good to insert a "Maizie said" in one of her first two bits of dialoge. Also, there's inconsistency in the spelling---sometimes it's Maize, sometimes it's Maizie. Other than those tiny nitpicks it was a fun, original piece.

  14. This is a hard one to call! Have to go with S. King here - Immalie's got that big awesome punch at the end, but it's the subtlety in S. King's piece that really does it for me.




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