Monday, March 23, 2015

Time, the Mortal Enemy of the Procrastinator

Okay, remember me? I did have good intentions. Every Monday my calendar alarm goes off at 8pm and it says "Blog/Tweet". And every Monday when my calendar alarm chides me I say "But I'm working on this" or "I'm fine tuning that. Maybe next week." A lot of things did happen including the birth of grandbaby #2 and me turning 60. Wow, that went fast.

 So to make it up to you and hopefully win you back I am going to present to you my entries in NYC Midnight 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge. If you remember I entered this before and did quite well finishing 8th overall in the money round. This year I just fell a little short. Strong stories, one even won my group, but just missed the money by the smallest of fractions.

At NYC Midnight the concept is simple. You get divided into groups. Then you are given a genre, a setting, and an object. You now have 2 days and 1000 words to tell them the greatest story in the world. The first 2 rounds are guaranteed, then the top 5 writers advance to the next round. Again the top 5 advance this time to the money round. One of the nicest things about this competition is the fact that they do give you what the judges liked and what they felt didn't quite work as well. 

Feedback is invaluable to writer. Our stories live n our head. What sounds great to us, may not be translating well yet. We need your comments. Never be afraid to tell a writer what you really think. If we wanted to hear "That story was the greatest thing in the world, the best thing I've ever read" we'd give it to our moms. We don't want that. We want "This part worked great, this one could be better." Don't be afraid to tell us what you really think. If it sucks, I want to know why so I can decide if I should correct it or trash it. If it sucks, don't say you like it. Don't make me waste my time thinking I have something great. It's only words on a page. You aren't insulting me personally. If you are then I probably haven't given you my story to read in the first place. 

So here is my entry for ROUND 1. It is followed immediately by the judges' comments.


A man runs to meet his wife at Images, the trendiest new restaurant in town.
There she waits to decide the fate of their relationship.

Required setting: an upscale restaurant
Required object: a photo album
Required genre: Comedy

Jimbo ran, his red shoes slapping the pavement. He turned the corner and hit a strong headwind. One gust nearly pulled the wig from his head. He placed one gloved hand on top holding it down. The bright, overly large flower on his lapel flapped dangerously. He leaned forward into the wind, fighting for every step. This was so much easier at work, he thought.
Images was the hippest newest restaurant in town. Looking at the line to get in Jimbo decided it must be very good. At least he should get a good meal.
When he reached the door he paused. His hands dropped to his knees as he struggled to get his breath.
"Can I assist you , sir?" The maitre d' bent down looking into his pale face.
Jimbo raised his hand signaling he was fine, took a few more slow breaths, stood up straight, adjusted his flower and his wig, took a few more breaths and stepped toward the door.
"I'm sorry, sir. We have a strict dress code. I'm afraid what you are wearing is not acceptable," the maitre d' said.
Jimbo looked in the mirror behind the reception podium at the baggy pants 3 sizes too large, the striped red shirt, the large flower on his chest, the stark white face and bulbous red nose culminating in a bright blue wig.
Beth had wanted to meet him here tonight. It was important, she had said. He left straight after the last show at Cirque d' Ole and hadn't thought to change.
The maitre d' reached into a small coat closet behind the podium and pulled out a black sport coat so large that two Jimbos could have fit inside.
"You'll have to wear this" he said as he handed it to Jimbo.
The only way he could keep it from falling off of his shoulders was to borrow a hat pin from a woman in line. He bowed low with an exaggerated flourish to thank her.
The dining room became very quiet as the maitre d' lead Jimbo to a very central and very visible table. The slap of his shoes echoed as everyone stopped eating to stare. Beth was waiting for them in a fashionable little black dress which could have been made solely from the material in one arm of the sport coat Jimbo now sulked in. Once Jimbo sat everyone looked away and resumed their meal.
"How could you wear that? Didn't you know this was a nice place?" Beth said her anger growing. "I suppose the shows ran late. God, that jacket is hideous."
Jimbo shrugged.
Their waiter came over and presented them with menus.
"You'll like this. There are no words in the menu just pictures of the food," Beth said and pointed at a steak, mixed salad, and banana cream pie.
Jimbo nodded and tried to point at a salmon with fresh vegetables but the coat sleeve covered the entire menu. He pulled up the sleeve with his other hand and with his gloved fingers pointed at the image.
When the waiter left Jimbo sat quietly watching Beth. She refused to look at him but kept tapping her fingers rhythmically on a small photo album by her plate. Jimbo wondered what was so important.
Fortunately the waiter returned with a large serving tray. Three silver domed plates were on the tray. The waiter removed the cover from the first plate and presented it to Beth. Alone in the center of the white china plate was a photograph, the exact image of the meal she had selected from the menu.
"Thank you. It looks delicious," she said.
The waiter then removed the cover from the second plate presenting it to Jimbo. Jimbo nodded and the waiter left.
Jimbo looked at the photo on his plate. Perhaps the food was under it. He picked it up. Nothing. Without the photograph the plate was completely empty. Jimbo looked at the photo. He sniffed it. He took at bite of the corner.
"Stop," Beth said. "You're embarrassing me. This is why I can't take you anywhere."
Jimbo put the photograph back on the plate, looked at Beth, and shrugged.
"Now is as good a time as any." She slid the photo album across the table to Jimbo.
He looked at, poked it carefully as if it might bite him. He looked up at Beth. She sat, her arms crossed. He poked it again and picked it up.
Inside was page after page of photographs all of him. They were candid shots taken by a photographer obviously hidden. There were photos taken during his act, backstage putting on his make up then taking it off, in Sparkle's car along with twelve others, in restaurants and hotel rooms when the troupe had been on the road. He flipped each page, faster and faster until they blurred together like a moving image. The one thing common in each picture was that next to Jimbo either standing, laughing, eating, or sleeping, was Daisy the trapeze artist. He had been found out.
Jimbo looked up at Beth. His eyes were wide and sad. He hadn't wanted this to happen. He shrugged and slid the photo album back to her.
Beth stood and moved to the serving tray and the last plate still covered with the silver dome.
"This was against the restaurant's policy but they made an exception."
She remove the cover exposing a large banana cream pie. She picked it up, turned, and slapped Jimbo in the face with it.
"Mother warned my about mimes. I want a divorce!" Beth said and left the restaurant.
As the waiter slipped Jimbo the bill, the other customers ran over to his table with their phones to take pictures of Jimbo's finale.
Jimbo shrugged. At least the sport coat kept the whipped cream topping off of his work clothes. He raised one cream covered arm to his face and decided it tasted much better than its picture.

WHAT THE JUDGES LIKED ABOUT YOUR STORY - .............................................The concept of giving a clown a suit jacket to meet the dress code of a fancy restaurant is good. Using a banana crème pie is also a nice touch.......I like this one. Fresh....Incorporates the photo album and restaurant well into the story. Lots of entries circled around cheating, but this was the only cheating clown!.....................   
WHAT THE JUDGES FEEL NEEDS WORK -              ............................................The story has a couple of typos. Read the story out loud (or have someone read it to you) to help pick these out. Is the character a clown or a mime. He's dressed like a clown but acts like a mime.…...I wouId think about cutting the final paragraph--end with finale?...There's not much tension after Jimbo arrives - his wife is mad at him the whole time, so of course she's going to ask for divorce. The twist, therefore, isn't much of a twist...................

So what did you think? Leave me a comment and let me know. Go ahead, hit me with a verbal cream pie.
Next week I'll present my Round 2 entry which actually placed 1st in my group.

As always thank you for reading me.

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