Since I know you're excited, I'll get right to it!
Third Place and the winner of
Here is her story:
The Sacred Heart
Thomas’ black leather coat was as useful as a window screen at protecting him from the biting wind. He clutched the collar to his throat and strode down the littered Bronx sidewalk with his head bent against the constant gust. Halfway down the block, a pair of tattered shoes entered his limited field of vision. Thomas slowed his pace and lifted his chin. His gaze traveled from the shoes, up soiled pant legs, past where the waist bent at ninety degrees, to the torso of a disheveled and unconscious man. Thomas took a step closer, peering at the man’s chest to see if it rose and fell. That’s when he spied the frayed wallet, half- wedged under the man’s hip next to a smudged Styrofoam coffee cup.
Thomas glanced quickly up and down the street, snatched up the wallet, and opened it. It was empty.
He tossed it back on the card board bedroll and walked on. A hundred feet later, he turned and crossed a small parking lot in front of Fortworth Saloon. He reached for the door handle and paused. A drop of water ran down the inside of the sweating glass. Thomas whipped his head left and right, popping his neck. He took a deep breath and pulled open the door.
“Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?” Stevie Romero scoffed as he threw his cards face down. A cheer went up from the onlookers surrounding the table. Thomas raked all the chips from the ante pile toward him, including the Rolex laid neatly on top. The piles of chips at his side resembled the smokestacks of Jersey’s finest factories across the Hudson. Thomas allowed a boyish grin and avoided looking at the other players.
A large man in a white suit and matching ten bucket cowboy hat peered at Thomas. “So, Tommy Heart?” he drawled. “How come we’ve never seen y’all around the circuit before today? Y’all can’t be new to the game. Ain't beginners who can bluff like you.” He eyed Thomas’ chip fortress with suspicion.
“I been playin’ in the neighborhood for years. In Brooklyn, you gotta have your game face on all the time, ya know what I’m talkin’ about?” Thomas smirked and offered a knuckle bump to the cowboy who sat still, his emotionless eyes fixed on Thomas. Thomas lowered his fist.
“Aw, come on Tex, you’re just pissed off ‘cause he got your stupid watch,” shouted Romero from the other side of the table. “Your bluff was weak, man. Even I saw through it.”
As the Texan argued with Romero, Tommy Heart excused himself from the table. His cool composure cloaked his racing heart. In the vacant hallway leading to the restrooms, he pulled out his cell phone. Glancing left and right, he pushed speed dial number one.
“Sacred Heart of Brooklyn, may I assist you?”
“Sister Cecelia Maria?” he whispered into the phone.
“Father Thomas? Is that you? Where are you, we’ve been worried sick!”
“I’m fine, Sister. But I only have a minute to talk. Listen, please call the parish council and tell them to block the Youth Center demolition. I have raised the money for the new roof, and I suspect there’ll be enough to buy new furniture and get some of those programs off the ground we talked about for the kids.”
“Praise the Lord, Father! This is a last minute miracle. How did you do it?”
Father Thomas glanced at the poster on the wall advertising the semi-pro Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament. With a scarlet blush he said, “I found a room full of willing donators.”
“God is great!” Sister Cecelia Maria exclaimed. “I’ll make the call now. Thank you, Father. Thank you so much!”
“You are welcome. And Sister? One other thing. Please call Father Fitzgerald. See if he is available on Sunday to hear my confession.”
An hour later with the wind at his back, Thomas made his way up the block. He stopped in front of the sleeping homeless man. Retrieving the wallet, Thomas slipped six twenties into the billfold. He shoved the wallet squarely into the man’s trouser pocket. Snapping his arm out straight to reveal the watch, he unstrapped the Rolex from his wrist and dropped it into the man’s stained trench coat pocket. The man stirred and Thomas walked away.
As Thomas rounded the corner, he looked back. The homeless man was sitting up, one hand cupping the top of his head as he stared into his open wallet.
Wonderful story! Also she was one of the only people to use the money in the wallet prompt (I'll give more prompt stats on Thursday) and she used it in a completely unexpected way.
I loved the fact that the MC in this piece was a completely different person by the end of the story, not because he had changed, but because our perception of him had. I find the story a little bittersweet, which is one of my all time favorite emotions when I'm reading fiction.
Great job Nicole!
Second Place and the winner of
- The Writers Book of Matches
- Moleskin Journal
- Total Oblivion More or Less by Alan DeNiro
Here is his story:
Surrounded by seventeen cops and six superheroes, Roger reached a chubby hand into his pocket. “I’m not a bad guy!” he yelled, clutching a yellow orb. Nestled in the crook of his other arm was a silver, Thermos-like canister.
“He’s got a bomb!”
As a barrage of bullets, three energy blasts, two arrows and an enchanted mallet flew towards him, Roger flung the orb onto the sidewalk. He vanished in a flash of blinding light.
Roger hated funerals. They made him feel judged: like everyone was looking at him, wondering why he wasn’t grieving more or why he was grieving so much. As he approached the casket containing his brother, he was thinking about all of that instead of Teddy. This, in turn, made him worry that other people were thinking he wasn’t more upset.
His brother had been a phenomenal inventor, and a super villain. Still, the boys’ father Franklin, though he would have denied it if asked directly, had always favored Teddy. Franklin had been so excited when Teddy had proven himself as intuitive and skilled an inventor as his father. Where the scientific community had laughed at Roger’s inventions, they had applauded Teddy’s. Where Franklin had mocked Roger’s clumsy attempts at following in his father’s footsteps, he had shown nothing but enthusiasm as Teddy quickly eclipsed his father’s skills.
Roger knelt. His hair was unkempt (he could never keep it tidy) and his shirt hung beneath his poorly-fitting suit coat (he could never keep his shirts tucked in). Roger could feel the eyes of the city’s biggest superheroes on his back, there to honor their fallen foe and the son of the man who had created all of their fantastic equipment.
“I bet you’re really pissed all those guys who always fought you are here,” Roger whispered.
“Nothing you can do about it now, I guess.” Roger glanced over his shoulder to his visibly upset father. “Dad never stopped being proud of you, you know. Even after all the mad scientist stuff, he still loved you more than me.” Tears formed in the corners of Roger’s eyes. “God, I hated you so much for that. I’m the older one, I’m supposed to be the favorite.” Roger sniffled. “But I didn’t want you to die.”
Blinding light filled the cramped room and Roger stumbled out. Breathless, he delicately placed the silver cylinder on a nearby table. “Did you get it?” his brother asked.
“Yeah, I got it,” Roger panted. “It was right where you said it would be.” Roger’s dazed eyes adjusted enough to see the holographic representation of his dead brother gazing with longing at the cylinder.
“Well,” the hologram said, “get to work.”
“I will, I will.” One of Teddy’s secret labs, the room was low ceilinged and packed to the brim with cluttered tools and half-finished inventions. Roger walked to a small refrigerator and pulled out a beer. He sipped it as he moved throughout the room, gathering tools and supplies as he prepared to finish his brother’s final invention.
Holographic Teddy watched impatiently as Roger puttered about. “This is killing you, isn’t it? Relying on me to do all the work?” The hologram gave Roger a pained look. “Sorry, bad choice of words.”
Roger placed a pair of goggles over his eyes and picked up a small torch. “Don’t worry, I can do this. We’ll be done in no time.”
Surrounded by cops and superheroes again, Roger stood on a rooftop beside his completed invention, cold wind tearing at his skin, hands held high.
“Please, it won’t hurt anyone. Just let me show you!” The machine was as tall as Roger, wide at the bottom and tapered towards the top where an old satellite dish was mounted. Exposed wires were everywhere. If Teddy had finished the device himself, it would have been smaller, sleeker, and color coordinated. It was all Roger could do, even with his brother’s hologram looking over his shoulder, to get the thing working.
Roger activated the device. Bullets tore into his flesh. They were too late.
Falling to the ground, his insides shredded, Roger heard the cops panicking as the superheroes approached. The device hummed.
“Don’t…,” Roger coughed up blood, “…destroy it. Just…energy. Unlimited energy, for the whole city.” One of the superheroes, Roger couldn’t tell which, knelt by his body. “Tell my dad…” Pain raked his body. His vision faded. “It was Teddy’s last invention. To make amends.” Roger knew he was almost dead. “Tell him Teddy was sorry.”
Things I love about this piece:
An enchanted Mallet
All contained in 750 words.
Also, one of my most favorite themes is redemption, so combine that with a brother's loyalty and it's a win win situation for me.
If you two could email me your mailing addresses I will get your prizes right out to you (and let me know if you own either of the books and I will substitute another).
Tomorrow, the first place winner!