Here’s the results to Page & Spine’s Flash Fiction contest. The topic was “Breakfast Challenge” with a 500 word limit.
First Place, and winner of publication at P&S’s standard rate and five bucks, is:
I’m Here For You by Jeffrey Stone.
Runner up and winner of publication at P&S’s standard rate, is:
Fred and June by Patricia Donovan.
It was a fun contest to enter, and they are planning on having more. The winning entries will be published in April. Here’s a link to Page & Spine:
Although my piece did not win anything, it was mentioned by contest judge Lee Allen Hill, “Another raw and troubling tale hinged on cold “ah beetz” for breakfast.”
Four Rooms on East Main
© copyright 2014 by Sara Jacobelli
Whenever my old man stayed out all night wild drinking, playing poker, chasing women, he carted home a pizza and left in on the kitchen table. I always figured this ritual was some kind a peace offering to my old lady, but it was us kids who enjoyed munching down on the cold pizza in the morning, or “ah-beetz” as the old man called it. Me and my little brothers would pick off the slimy stinky anchovies, which he called, “ah-leech.” Which made me think of leeches. Yuck.
While we crunched on huge slices from Paolo’s, my old man would try to get some sleep while my old lady would scream at him and throw things. I’d turn on the radio and we’d listen to Peggy Lee sing “Is that All There is?” I figured the kid in that song was some kind a brat; she gets rescued from a fire and instead of being grateful she says, “Is that all there is—to a fire?”
Or maybe Petula Clark singing “Downtown”, which to me always meant our Downtown, in Bridgeport: the movies, the big Main Street department stores with ancient elevator operators like Leavitt’s where my old lady works the costume jewelry counter.
So it’s just another pizza morning, I’m trying to keep the boys quiet while we eat. I figure they’re just gonna hit each other, not us, as long as we’re quiet and keep the radio tuned to those old timey songs they like so much. They’ll get tired of fighting and fall asleep, snoring. I’ll get the boys ready for school. Maybe we’ll be late, but we’re late a lot and the teachers don’t seem too interested.
But she’s hyena mad, screaming about some Denise. She keeps saying it over and over like it’s a curse or a charm or even a perfume, “Denise, Denise, who’s this De-nise?” and she’s throwing things and swearing.
My brothers look at me while they eat. I notice the deep brownness of their eyes, all little boy wonder, their mouths all scared stopping in mid-pizza bite and I’m thinking She shouldn’t push him. She shouldn’t make him so mad.
He’s yelling at her, calling her a puttanna, which is a bitch in Italian only worse. And he’s hitting her and she hits back and the fight is on. Now the neighbors downstairs are yelling, banging a broom handle against their ceiling. Dumb. Why make more noise when you’re telling someone else to STOP making noise?
So I figure we gotta get outta there and I grab my brothers, shove them roughly into yesterday’s clothes and coats too small, and we head out the back door, the boys looking forlorn at the stray pieces of pizza left in the open box. I whisper, “Go” and give them a push.
A gunshot in the still morning air. I hold my brothers’ hands while we wait for the light to change on East Main Street. No fighting tonight.
“Is that all there is?” Singer: Peggy Lee. Written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. Orchestra conducted by Randy Newman. Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. Released in 1969. Lyrics Licensed and Provided by Lyric Find.
“Downtown” Singer: Petula Clark. Written by Tony Hatch. Sweat, Keith. Parker, Genard. Gomez, Gina. Murray, Roy. Ortiz, Kenny. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. Released in 1964. Lyrics Licensed and Provided by Lyric Find.
Photo Credit: “East Main Street,” by Sara Jacobelli. (Click on photo to enlarge it).