Little & Laugh
By Geoff Le Pard
The time has come to talk of many things. Well, only one really. Who won the second of the fantabulous Flash Fiction Rodeo contests hosted by the dynamic, the charismatic, the organic, the titanic Charli Mills.
I had the privilege of setting the contest criteria and, following a theme that echoes down the years from my childhood, I wanted to find the funny in you all. Someone once said, ‘Life is Poor, Solitary, Nasty, Brutish and Short’. Clearly that person needed to have a go at flash fiction; they needed to join the dance at Charli’s Rodeo; they needed to stop looking at their shoes. I mean, feet are funny but shoes? Serious stuff, people.
I’m not a criteria kind of guy. Some of my fellow competition setters had all sorts of rules and stuff. Me? MAKES US LAUGH in between 289 and 308 words. Not hard, huh?
Well, you pretty much all said it was hard. And yep. You’re right it can be. But you tried. 28 of you gave it a shot. A couple of you can’t count but hey, maybe that was the joke. One dudeish kind of guy had a go, flopped the word count spectacularly with a piece of hilarious spam and left us wondering if he (or she, or maybe I shouldn’t be speciesist and genderist and stick with they or it) should at least get an honourable mention.
But this is a serious competition. I mean Charli collects rocks; she might start throwing them if I don’t behave.
So, I fed my fellow judges lime jelly-babies and peanut butter oysters and we set too. Those delightful judges – Barb Taub and Lucy Brazier – had their own unique take on the entries. We battled, and we bartered – I’d allow number 19 if they stopped bighting the heads off first. Eventually we shortlisted three. And then we got really mucky. We dived for more oysters and eventually an arm appeared above the broiling ocean holding a winner…
The Bus Stop
By Colleen Chesebro
In 1971, I was a sergeant in the U. S. Air Force, stationed at Korat Air Force Base, Thailand. The Vietnam War raged around me.
Each morning I took the bus to the base. The voices of my military superiors echoed, reminding me to be careful. Saboteurs were everywhere. The Viet Cong traveled freely between the borders. Last week a sergeant had been stabbed on his way home. I trusted no one.
I strolled into the bus stop like I owned it. Crouched in the shadows, was an old man. He stared at me and our eyes locked. He spoke in Thai, “Sawadi ton chaw.”
My fear erupted. I said defiantly in English, “Fuck you, old man!” I gave him “the finger,” my feeble American attempt to intimidate him. The old man stared at me with razor-sharp eyes.
I worked with Thai civilians and knew they would help me. I explained the incident to a group of my friends. The workers exchanged glances as their eyes creased in laughter, saying, “The old man said good morning to you.”
Now, I understood. I knew if I was to survive I had to learn the language and the customs of the people.
“It is Thai custom to show proper respect for our elders,” they chorused. “When you see the old man again, bow and say the same thing to him that he said to you.”
The next morning at 0500 hours, I set out. I was guarded but kept my wits about me. There in the shadowy recesses of the bus stop, crouched the old man.
I approached him with a smile and bowed, saying, “Sawadi ton chaw.”
The old man regarded me with those sharp eyes I had noticed the day before. In the clearest English I had ever heard, he said, “FUCK YOU,” and gave me the finger!
Charli asked us to say why we chose this entry; we judges talked about that. Actually, we barely said anything. We were stumped as to what to say. See, that’s the thing with humour. If it works, it works. There isn’t really a mechanic. In so far as we articulated (ha! Have you met my judges? Articulated, indeed! Hector; browbeat maybe but something as civilised as articulated?) why it was funny it was because we knew something was coming, the set up was delicious and when it did appear we all barked out a laugh. It worked. Sorry if we can’t say more, but we can’t.
Charli then gave us the option of promoting, as highly commended, our own favs. We had whittled our list down to three, and we loved the above, so we were loath to go outside of those three. So here are the other two finalists. Well done; spankingly good pieces, both. Why did we laugh? We did. End of. Keep it up.
The day my phone turned into a needy surrealist and developed an obsession with otters!
By Sam Catchpole
When I set my phone the task of writing poetry, I never expected it to reveal a secret life full of angst, rich plotlines and otters…
“I hate it when people think they know me
I have been thrown away
It does not matter
I hate it when you don’t think of me
I have just noticed the otter
It seems that there is no such thing as Tuesday”
That could have been extremely depressing if it hadn’t turned suddenly, into a surrealist, near future expose on a world with otters peering at you from behind the impending destruction of Tuesday.
“During that moment you can tell me how you feel
Yes it was meant for you but I am not
Soon I will be honest with the otter”
It would seem that I have been lying to the otter. But what about and why? Was it about the destruction of Tuesday, which really can only be a good thing. Why would anyone lie about that? Maybe it was something else, something I was not sure that the otter could handle. Maybe I was concerned that the otter would indeed tell me how he felt…
I had to find out why I lied to the otter!
“I don’t know what you are
Otters and I have gin and tonic
I am just so ready for a new wildcat”
That explains it, the otter didn’t know about the new wildcat. Everyone seems to have gin and tonic though so I think the honesty went well. I am not so sure about the wildcat however…
“The otter is definitely the best sort of dragon
We need a better wildcat
Don’t forget to check out the other angry bears”
I think the otter should possibly lay off the gin…
By Dermott Hayes
Bullying, Salvatore resolved, can never defeat me but resolve can be a tough and exacting master.
The politics of envy makes people mean and desirous of everything they don’t have and want, particularly when someone has it who they believe don’t deserve it as much as them.
Just don’t ask them to tell you why they deserve it because they become all bitter at attempts to deny them something they now claim as a natural right.
That’s why irony seemed an unlikely saviour but Salvatore was determined to recruit Irony Man to help his cause in his struggle against the bullies.
Irony Man is a modest superhero who dresses like a dandy with the whimsical character of a Limerick poet. His laconic demeanour, fancy clothes and manicures would set him aside.
“So you want me to make myself the object of their destructive derision?” Irony Man, clad in an emerald tweed tailored suit, asks Salvatore.
“Well, yes, or at least make them appreciate the inherent contradictions in their own position,” Salvatore suggests, “so they recognise its true intention and their own negative delusion.”
“I see,” says Irony Man.
Three weeks later, Salvatore’s on the receiving end of yet another lesson in, apparent communal intimidation, according to the report, when his shoes are stolen.
On the night of the High School Prom, Salvatore arrives, bouquet in hand, for his Prom date.
She arrives, in a Cadillac, with her father.
The bullies turn up and glower.
Only until the latest glare of a new arrival makes them squirm.
Irony Man is in a brilliant shining suit.
‘What the fuck?” asks Salvatore.
“I did what you asked,” Irony Man offers.
“How, for fuck’s sake?” asks, Salvatore.
“It’s a mirror suit,” says Irony Man, ‘anyway, I buy all my suits from Goodwill.”
NOTE FROM CARROT RANCH:
Congratulations to all the writers who entered! You dared to stretch your writing and braved the first Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. Each participant has earned the following badge, which you may copy and post on you blog, social media or print out and frame. It’s a badge of honor. And now you can say, you have had your first rodeo! You wrote well.
We want to share all the contest entries in a collection. We’ll be contacting each of our contestants and challengers to seek interest and permission to publish a digital collection in January. Writers retain all copyrights to their work.
We’d appreciate your feedback! We want to make this an annual event that is fun, engaging and supportive of literary art. Please take a a few minutes for a brief 5 question survey. Thank you!