Writing contests. Maddening. Challenging. Frustrating.
I haven’t had much luck with standing out in the crowd: of the handful I’ve entered, I only won one in college, and then later in life I made the second cut of a sci-fi contest but didn’t rate the final stage.
Sometimes after the contest was over I’d read the winning entry and not be overly impressed. Sour grapes much? Well, no, ’cause it wasn’t ALL the stories. Sometimes I was impressed, surprised, enthralled.
But other times it seemed like a judge’s niece or husband or BFF from high school had entered, and that judge had blackmailed the other judges with photos of marital indiscretions, copies of embezzled workplace funds, and knowledge of a history of questionable internet searches.
This was the winner of a contest I entered in Ginosko several years ago, and I’m happy to announce I don’t think any blackmail involving underground cockfighting was involved. Not one iota of punctuation. Very short. But I kinda loved it.
He was sad and angry because his friend had died in a way that made it suicide in everything but name and he sat in a place where they used to drink and talk about Japanese literature and bullshit about work in progress and he thought that his friend might be forgotten which would be unjust because he was part of the resistance whereas the living collaborated and his anger at himself coalesced into action of a sort and he went out and bought tiles and a foam brush and a sheet of acetate and gloves and a mask and fingernail polish remover and a bone folder and he made color copies of a photograph of his dead friend with the right type of ink and he pushed the mirror image button so that the image would not be reversed on transfer and he heated the tiles in the microwave and placed each copy of the photo onto each warm tile face down and coated them with the fingernail polish remover and smoothed them with the bone folder under the acetate and applied the tile sealer to fix the image forever and when he was done he took off the gloves and the mask and left the tiles to dry and he was crying but he did not notice or if he did he thought it was the fumes of the solvent in his eyes and then one night later that week he mixed up a batch of cement and went out and fixed the tiles with the picture of his dead friend to the facades of buildings all across the indifferent city and for the rest of the year he smiled seeing the tiles in secret places or being denounced as vandalism by the authorities.
– Jason Price Everett