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2013 Delizon Annual Short Story Competition winners

Proper Preparation - by HS Derkin

1st place winner

I know I was a fuck off in school. I got no problem admitting that. All I cared about was getting high and getting girls, and it was kind of shocking to me when I got out most of my friends either went to college or got drafted and here I still was, in town and thanks to a high lottery number, not at Da Nang Tech.

Only thing left to do was get a job. Buying gas one day at JB’s Gulf, Auto Repair & Towing I saw “Help Wanted” in the window and pretty soon I was pumping gas and changing oil for old Jim Brandenburg. I was a fuck off there too, and one day after I forgot to put the oil back in the crankcase and the customer’s engine seized up, old Jim came to me and said “Dean you can stay and work this off and I’ll teach you how to be a real mechanic, or you can get the fuck out right now.”

For eight years Jim and I worked ass-crack to elbow in that little two bay gas station. There was nothing you could put a wrench on that he and I couldn’t fix. I was there every day at 6 AM and did everything he told me to do. If I come up on something that seemed like it was impossible to do, he would stop what he was doing and come over, wiping his hands on a shop towel and say, “Well, what would you do here if you did know what to do?” Just do the next right thing, that was Jim’s motto. I’ve tried to live by those words ever since. When he died he left me all his tools.

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Blind Love - by Diane de Pisa

2nd place winner

Not all blind people relinquish the lost world; it aches for them like the ghost limb of amputees. But I have given myself over to blindness, to a world of peril and ecstasy. When I walk in the streets I feel the grit sing, the metal poles shout warnings. Alone at night I navigate the sidewalks as a ship among buoys. By day dangers bristle. Cogs and wheels grind close at my heels; I cross the meat-chopper traffic pulled through by happenstance.

My lover was once my sanctuary. With him I lay enfolded like a stray feather in a rumpled bed. The world’s roar subsided behind our door. He grasped my hand when I came home and whisked me into a hot tub. We dallied for unknown hours. Time was malleable; no shadows lengthened on our play.

When we talked, time formed like wool battings that we spun, some for the future, as plans, and others as recollections. He drew me out, made me tell things I had kept hidden.

“How was it for you, at first?” he asked.

“When I was blinded? When my eyes were sealed shut?” The question seemed obscene. “Why talk about that?”

“Tell me,” he gently said. After all, he had been through it too.

“I felt like a snail,” I ventured, recalling the smarting on my face, “a snail in the hot sun. I was seared, shrank back to a small, cool space at my core.”

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The Trip - by Ray Beard

3rd place winner

He presented a clean, well lit face. Panda like eyes astride a mean chiselled nose diverted one’s attention away from ears that seem to beg for a good stapling.

The gentleman conducted one final stare before handing back the passport to him, and said: –Enjoy your stay in Kalazinstan Mr Goodwin.’

Just then, shrapnel from a nearby bomb passed through the passport before Goodwin could reach out for it.

At the site of the absent fingers on the hand of the immigration officer, Godwin ducked to the floor.

There was a second explosion

He remained calm, in position, eyes closed, ears inoperative.

Then slowly he tried to open his eyes, when a detached finger several inches from his nose fell to the floor.

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Suicide or Not - by Jay Swenson

4th place

The worst possible weather had descended on Iowa, a mix of sleet and rain that left a sheet of ice on the dormant fields and quiet back roads, but more importantly on the city streets and sidewalks. Ben wasn’t going anywhere on this bleak Friday night in Dubuque. Not that the 26-year-old with the gimpy left leg and nose that announced his presence from fifty feet away had much of a social life. His only two acquaintances were Gus the bartender at the Corner Tap and Sheila, a lesbian co-worker at Wal-Mart. He still hadn’t found a “real” job, Mom had died years ago, and his closest relative, Grandpa Joe, had passed two weeks earlier. No wonder he was contemplating suicide - again.

“C’mon, Angry Cat, I’ll get you some food and me some liquid,” Ben said to his Siamese, who he had named after his favorite Smart Phone game. “We’ll make the best of tonight.”

After giving her a scoop of Meow Mix, he popped open an Old Milwaukee and Tweeted “Angry Cat devouring sup, I’m stuck with Old Swill - at least somebody in this God-forsaken house happy. #depressed person.”

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Why Gretel finally gave up on rescuing Hansel - by Lucy Bacon

5th place

“Such a sweetie,” people said. “Lookin' after her little brother an' all. Never woulda thought ole' Taylor's kid'd turn out decent.”

"I should lock you in the furnace room and bake you like pretzels," Mrs. Grimmwald yelled, the day she caught us lifting a cherry pie. "I'll get your Da to thrash you black and blue, you thieving little scoundrels."

All that matters is how you satisfy the hungers of your own heart.

When we were kids, sneaking into Mrs. Grimmwald's back kitchen to steal cookies, I never dreamed that Yanni and I would end up enemies. I adored him and would do anything for him. That was the trouble. We were hungry brats, and scooped goodies by the bagful before Mrs. G. caught us.

Da was the only person I knew who could resist Yanni's tears. With his icy stare, Da could've stopped a river at spring break-up and froze the water right up again. For me, or for people like Mrs. Grimmwald, the moment Yanni's blue eyes brimmed over and his golden curls trembled, that was that.

Mrs. Grimmwald's eyes slid over to me.

"We're sorry," I mumbled, scuffing the flour-dusted floor with my bare toes.

I was ready to run.

She approached.

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A Parallel Universe - by Grace Babakhanian

6th place

Gilberto told me this morning - you know, he calls - that he had a dream last night about a parallel universe. And in that universe there was a person with his name living happily with his wife.

“What do you think about that?” he would ask me.

“And are you happily married?” I relied.

“Not me, the other Gilberto, you mean?”

My mom who was in the bathrom stepped in. She seemed to have overhead the conversation. An pretended not to notice when Gilberto left briskly.

“Why would he say such a thing to you?” she said, turning to me.

“It’s all right, Mom,” trying to overlook the double entendre. “I don’t mind.”

“Has he told you that he loves you yet?”

“No, but he doesn’t believe in such sentiments.”

She turned away, silent.

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Stalagmites - by Cheryl L Reed

7th place

With their drug dealer, in jail, the girls seemed more relaxed and invited me over frequently, each time requesting that we go for a fast food outing. I showed up, bags in hand. We watched bad TV, ate greasy burgers, pizza or fried chicken. It was as if we’d formed our own underprivileged sorority. The girls’ latest request called for buffalo wings and drumsticks, the hot kind.

We had just sunk our teeth into the Tabasco-laden chicken when someone banged on the door. Chicken parts dangling from our mouths, we looked at each other, startled.

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Coffee Caste - by Deborah Price

8th place

I met him at a local coffee shop. I had stopped in on a cold morning, looking for a warm beverage and a warm place to sit to kill some time. We accidentally bumped into each other in line and started a harmless conversation. We were both alone, and ended up sitting together at a table, sparks flying as our eyes met over the brims of our respective mugs.

Ten minutes into the conversation, sipping on his steaming cup of java, he said, “I don’t understand people who don’t drink coffee. How can you not appreciate the absolutely heavenly aroma and taste of this exquisite beverage?”

Apparently he didn’t notice I was drinking tea.

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Indescribable - by Lori Martinez

9th place

Joe and Dusty laughed like little boys as they played with the new station dog Pixel. The pup, a mix of Dalmatian and Beagle, bounced around after the tennis ball they were taking turns tossing for him. Four or five other fire fighters stood around chuckling at the dog’s antics.

Suddently the sound of Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again muffled its way out of Alejandro’s front pocket.

“Help, help,” chattered a voice from the other end.

Everyone could feel the panic.

Alejandro quickly answered the cell phone, shrugging off the jibes about his musical tastes.

“Hello, Dad???”

We all froze at the thought that it was his father.

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Fear - by Carolyn Kirshner

10th place

The sound of the alarm clock woke me and in a sleepy haze I stretched my arm out to hit the snooze button. I rolled back over to look at my husband who was still sleeping soundly beside me. I decided not to wake him. I would let the alarm clock do that and to give him that extra ten minutes to sleep. I was careful too, not to wake our daughter, who just recently turned a year old. Not when she woke us both up at three thirty in the morning with her soft cries that last for at least an hour.

The hallway was long and dark back to the master bedroom. The nightlight that had lit the hallway had burnt out the day before and admittedly I kind of missed it.

A house of this size in the dark can be quite intimidating at night, especially when there are no street lights to be seen through the windows.

I stood and warded towards the kitchen for my prescription, the pain killer which is my last hope to rid myself of this constant migraine.

I had already swallowed the pills before I noticed that they were two of them.

“Overdose!” That was loud enough to wake everyone, including our daughter.

I heard them tumbling over one another, in the direction of the dark kitchen.

Probably it was psychology, but my head was aching badly now.

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