Jul 14, 2011

Contest- Show and NO Tell

Since there's a slowdown in queries, and since I have a book out, I think it's time for a Slushpile contest.  And since I'm the moderator and have unrestricted access to posts, no one can stop me.

[Insert evil laugh here] 

Contest rules:  Answer the question below in a short story (750-1,000 words).  You must use the characters / actions / narrative to show me the answer…going right out and telling me the answer is cheating!  Submit your entries as comments to this post or email me at rjdaley 101071 (at) gmail (dot) com.  You have until 8am EST on Monday, July 18 to enter.

Question: Why does Jimmy hate pizza?

Suggestions: Food allergy; his father choked on pepperoni and died; Jimmy was dropped on his head by delivery guy when he was a baby, etc.  Get creative, and show me the answer!

Prize: I will send a signed copy of my book, THE MAN IN THE CINDER CLOUDS to my two favorite entries.  Winners will be announced on Thursday, July 21 whenever I get around to it.  Prizes will be awarded shortly thereafter.


Unknown said...

Well, I got mine under the word limit, but Blogger says I can't go over 4096 characters, so I'm going to split this into two parts:

"Do we have to have pizza again?" Jimmy Boyd asked his mother as they pulled into Romano's for the seventeenth week in a row. "We always get the same kind, and it's not like Dad can even have any."

"I don't care," his mother said serenely. "If you want to see your father, go get the pizza. Here, you can get a dessert pizza, too, if you want." She handed over an extra five, and after a moment Jimmy accepted it and went inside, waving back to the cashier. Romano’s had already started prepping his order when they saw his mom’s Mazda pull in.

As usual, Jimmy held the steaming box on his lap in the car, trying to hold out longer and longer before he moved it for relief. The first few weeks he'd only made it to Lombard Street, but now he could reach Oregon, sometimes even Packard before he gave in. Today, he forced himself to wait until Packard had flashed by and they had actually turned onto 34th before he rescued his thighs from the burning.

They parked in their usual spot in front of the prison. Jimmy carried the pizza box, his legs still stinging, while his mother signed them in and surrendered her ID, though the prison staff knew them, too. Lana was at the desk today, while John took them down the corridor and into the visitors' room. "He'll be here in a few minutes," John said as he opened the door to their cubicle. Jimmy's mother smiled and thanked him.

In the promised few minutes, the door behind the plastic panel opened, and Jimmy's father appeared, clad in the usual orange scrubs. The guard with him, Leon, nodded politely to them both as he closed the door.

"Hi there," his father said, dropping into his chair and leaning forward. He looked exhausted, as usual, but he smiled at Jimmy.

"Hi." Jimmy sat down and put the pizza box on the other chair, knowing his mother would insist on standing behind him. "I got a B+ on my history paper! The one I was telling you about, on Egypt? I thought I was toasted when the teacher started talking about plagiarism, but it turned out she just meant you weren't supposed to use quotes without saying where you got them, not that you couldn't use them."

"That's great! What about your math test? Wasn't that today?"

"Yeah...it didn't go so hot. But hey, check it out. I was studying with Marc last night, and we--"

"Eat something," his mother interposed, opening up the Romano's box.

"I'm not hungry," Jimmy said. "So Marc and I--"

His mother pushed the box in front of him, placing the lid between him and his father, and lowered her voice to a spitting whisper. "Eat something or we're going home."

"All right." Jimmy took a slice and folded it up so he could eat twice as fast. His mother lowered the box to the counter and took out her own slice. "So Marc and I were thinking..."

He went on with the story, and his father listened, both of them doing their best to ignore his mother eating her own pizza slowly and languorously, leaning against the wall of the cubicle. "Time to go," she said when they were done, interrupting Jimmy's description of what Desiree Mills had gotten in trouble for wearing last Thursday. He would have liked to talk about other girls, specifically Raina Lee, but he wasn't quite sure what to say, and anyway there was no way while his mother was standing there.

Unknown said...

Part two:

"Can't we stay a few more minutes?" he said, though he knew the answer.

"No." She rang the bell for John to come get them.

"See you next week," his father told him, rising.

Jimmy glanced at the pizza box. "See you next week," he echoed.

His mother gave the rest of the pizza to the staff at the desk, as usual. "Can we get pepperoni next time?" John called after them as they left.

"He means thank you," Lana yelled.

They said nothing in the car, as had become usual the past month or so. At home, Jimmy told his mother he had homework and escaped to his room, where he had a box of cheese crackers and some beef jerky stashed. He threw a few crackers in his mouth and lay down on his bed.

He woke up in the dark sometime later, his mouth still tasting like powdered cheese. His alarm clock said ten-fifty-one. He pushed himself upright and went downstairs to get a drink.

The living room light was on, and on the couch his mother was slumped where she must have fallen asleep by accident just as he had. Before her were newspaper clippings and a note written on paper with the Romano's logo on it. He stepped over to look, though he knew what they were. The papers and the local news had covered his father's trial gleefully, some awful punster even calling it "a pizza bad luck all around." There was the photograph of his father and mother from a few years back. There was the separate picture of Todd the pizza guy, "who Boyd discovered was delivering more than just a hot pie to his wife," according to the local news anchor, whom Jimmy could no longer stand to listen to. There was even a photo of himself eating a piece of pizza. And on the Romano's letterhead, in Todd's handwriting: "Julie: I'll be by tomorrow at ten. I'll bring our new special, the Sausage Sizzler."

He reached forward to crumple the papers, but his mother stirred, and he stopped. Anyway, he shouldn't. He wanted to see his dad next week. He had to be on good behavior until his dad was free. He'd be out in another...let's see...five years times fifty-two was two hundred sixty weeks, minus seventeen was two-hundred forty-three pizzas. Weeks. Two-hundred forty-three weeks.

Rick Daley said...

Cool thanks Jenny!

I didn't think about the character limitation...for other submissions, you can email me at rjdaley101071 (at) gamil (dot) com.

I'll update the post with that info too...

Rick Daley said...

I have two entries now, and both are very good!

Next week once the contest closes I'll put up each entry in its own post so everyone can read the submissions.

Anonymous said...

So...do we get to vote on the one we like the best?

I vote for #1 -- it was quirky and had the best writing of the four.

Then again, I've never been a big fan of "pizza with relish." Make mine with pepperoni, please.

Rick Daley said...


By all means provide feedback and enter a vote...although I reserve the right to arbitrarily pick the two winners. Heck, I reserve the right to declare all four winners ;-)

And if anyone was wondering...there is a new query queued up to post tomorrow morning!