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WRiTE CLUB 2013 Playoffs / Round One - Bout Four

We continue on in the the play-off rounds at a rapid fire pace.  I will be posting one contest per day this week (Mon-Fri) and four next week (Mon-Thur).  The voting for all nine 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.....Dirch McGurkin.

“Your mother sent me letters, sometimes,” Marcello said. “Though none in recent years.”

I sat up in my chair. “My mother? Bianca Saldana?”

He snorted. “Unless you have another mother I don’t know of, then yes.”

This . . . this flipped my world upside down. Why would my mother send letters to Marcello Saldana, who we were told never to speak of? Who had brought shame to the Family. “Why would she do that?”

“We were friends. I was glad when she married Dante and joined our Family. I had great love for Bianca and my brother. It opened a wound I thought long healed to hear of their deaths at the hands of the Da Vias.”

“Then why do you refuse to help me?” I leaned forward. “If you give me the location of the Da Via safe home, I will make them pay for what they’ve done to our Family. They will never forget the Saldanas!”

“At the cost of your own life, you mean?”

I leaned back. “If need be. I’m not afraid to die.”

He laughed. “No, of course you’re not! You’re, what, seventeen? And a disciple of Safraella. I’m sure you can’t wait for Her cold embrace.”

“You step awfully close to blasphemy. I am Her disciple, and She will offer me a fast resurrection.”

“And then what?”


“And then what? You die and are reborn and what of the people you leave behind?”

“There are no people. Everyone’s dead.”

Marcello widened his eyes in a way that said he didn’t believe me. He pointedly looked to the room where Les slept.

Les, really? Perhaps he’d be sad, but surely he’d get over it. I couldn’t mean that much to him. Right?

“Dying is the easy part.” Marcello got to his feet. “But what you grant for those you leave behind is much more difficult.” He glanced over his shoulder again to Les. “I fear you will destroy him.”


“He is too kind to you. He is too kind because he thinks if he is kind, people will like him. And if they like him, they won’t leave. But that’s not the way of things. You are like a flame and he is a moth, drawn to you, unaware if he gets too close you will burn him up.”

He’d hit dangerously close to my own thoughts regarding Les. But I wasn’t the only one to blame. “And you? You’ve given him a sword and taught him just enough to be dangerous with it, but not enough to know when to back away.”

“Things were fine before you arrived,” he countered.

“Were they? You never fought about it until I found my way here? You never threatened to stop training him, never held that over his head?”

Marcello was silent. He couldn’t deny it.

I leaned back in the chair and sighed. “Truly, Uncle, we’re both at fault.” He nodded slowly. “We’re Saldanas. Sooner or later we destroy the ones we love.”

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

In travel, as in life, the first of all virtues was self-control.

Presently, Holly could not control the blood spattered on his collar, nor the mud slopped over his trousers, nor the crack in the left lens of his spectacles.

But it was well within his power to fold his sack coat crisply over one arm, keeping a jaunty grip on his carpet-bag with the other, and to smile as he approached the rustic fellow leading a mule along the rain-swollen road.

“Pleasant morning, sir,” Holly said, and would have tipped his hat, had he retained its possession.

The rustic touched his battered straw brim in reply, but it was the view beyond Holly’s shoulder that received his open-mouthed amazement.

Holly turned to share it with him.  The mud-mired wreck was a good quarter-mile behind him now, the stagecoach’s skyward-facing wheel having long since ceased to spin.  “Oh, don’t be alarmed,” Holly said.  “The reinsman and the shotgunner were both thrown clear, and my fellow passengers have enjoyed the grace of God and steel-ribbed corsetry.  You see how they’ve set to drying their skirts on firmer ground, there – we’re all just cuts and bruises, nothing worse.”

A gunshot split the humid morning air.

“Well, perhaps not the horses.” Holly turned back to the rustic, whose expression had deepened its resemblance to a shriveled apple.  “It’s not far to town, is it?”

He could not recall the name – something picturesque, Hobnail or Boot-Hump or Stye – and perhaps the rustic had the same difficulty, as it was a considerable time before he replied.

“…no, not hardly; Hockit ain’t but two miles up the road.”  He crafted a helpful compass from his thumb.

“Splendid,” Holly said, as the sun was already making a white-linen swamp of his back and underarms.  “Do you know whether they might have a doctor in residence?”

“Oh, sure,” the rustic said to the drying blood in Holly’s hair.  “Doc Fitch's place is cat-a-cornered from the hotel, can’t miss it.  Just watch out for his boy Lan-Yap – he’s one of them hellbenders from the bayou, and you know what-like THEY are.”

Holly didn’t, but that was fine: this was surely rural racialism at its finest, a delicacy as authentic as any that had ever been plated and sold to a world-hungry expeditioner.  He smiled.  “Fantastic,” he said, “I certainly will.  –And while we’re exchanging confidence, you’ll do very well by Miss Hinchcliff back there if your mule can spare his blanket.  We pulled her out by the window before the coach began to sink, but her crinoline wasn’t so fortunate.”

His debt thus repaid, Holly took his leave and went on, boots squelching, carpet-bag’s contents clinking merrily.  Here was the true art of the traveler: one had only to retain mastery of one’s own person – and hand-luggage, where possible – in order to enjoy all the education and entertainment that Nature reserved for the portable man.


Leave your vote and we'll see you back here tomorrow for the next exciting 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. I'm going to have to go with Dirch McGurkin on this one.

  2. Muleshoe!!! (Yes, with at least three exclamation points!)

  3. Mulesshoe by a country mile. Dirch's piece is good, but mule's is simply outstanding.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Muleshoe!! I loved this one SO much that I tried THREE times to vote for it in Round 1, even though I was riding the Paris Metro with a lousy data connection at the time and my comment kept failing to go through.

  6. Hard to chose from between these two, but I'll go with Muleshoe.

  7. Muleshoe's was a delight to read. :-)

  8. I'm quite torn with this one... my vote goes to Muleshoe.

  9. Mueshoe ftw. Not that I didn't enjoy Dirch's, just that Muleshoe's is a favorite of mine.

  10. Muleshoe for me. Damn carpet-baggers.




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