Round 29 Winners

Posted: July 29, 2014 in Winners
Tags: , , , , , ,

This week I got clobbered at work on Monday instead of Tuesday, so I’m posting on time. Yay!

Great stories this week—you all hit it out of the park, in my opinion. A sentiment more or less shared by our judge, Karl A. Russell. His comments are below.

OK, confession time; when I saw that this week’s prompt was taking us to the field of dreams, I breathed a hearty sigh of relief that I didn’t have to participate as a writer. The only time I’ve ever seen a baseball bat in action, The Punisher was using it on a mob boss, and for all I know, that’s the correct way to use it.

But the seven writers who stepped up to the plate this week gave us a group of tales which actually made me care about fly balls and hung games, and every one was a home run.

(Can you tell I’ve had to hit Wikipedia for the terminology here?)

With The Catcher and the rye, Cathy Lennon gives us a literary joke for a title, but that’s where the humour ends. Dwayne is a brutish hulk of a character, his pain and anger suffusing every line, believing that the root of all his problems lie elsewhere, right to the pitiful end.

David Shakes takes us into outright fantasy in Death in the Bleachers, but it’s the moments of all too human feeling which make this tale work so well. As father and son face off in the dying moments of the game, there’s a sense of fatalism that goes far beyond the titular narrator’s profession. When Mondell Senior voices his appreciation of Junior’s talent, he is accepting not only his just-sealed fate, but that of all fathers, to be eclipsed by their offspring.

Flash fiction often works best when it concentrates on the small things in life, and in He Swung, Jaime Burchardt gives the pivotal role to a tiny insect which sets in motion a whole series of life changing events, sending the fates of Barney and his team in two very different directions. This had a great last line too, proving that Flash can also be a perfect medium for tales with a sting in the tale.

Voima Oy also gives us a small moment in One Small Step, reducing the greatest night of “Flash” Gordon’s career to an inconsequential footnote by contrasting it with one of the crowning achievements of human existence. With talk of universal balance and having “the right stuff,” Voima suggests a mystical link between that great leap forward and Gordon’s almost supernatural home run, and the final line is pure poetry.

Like Dwayne in Cathy’s tale, Image Ronin’s Flint is another belligerent drunk, a man of great promise playing out his twilight games in the minor leagues. Twilight of a Champion shows us a man all too aware of his failings, taunted by reminders of squandered promise and a sense that this is not where he should be, but unable to pin the blame on anything but his own appetites. He sees a zombie when he looks in the mirror, knows that he is faking it, and faced with seeing the same dishonesty reflected in the faces of his family, he takes the final step towards complete ruin.

caseyrosefrank gives us a wonderfully surreal image in We Can Do It Better, and perhaps a meta commentary on this contest, asking what happens when a bunch of untrained artists are let loose on the pitch? With a vague idea of what the game entails, they begin to throw in the tricks and talents of their chosen fields, and chaos ensues. The acrobatic antics made me smile, as did the last line, and any story which features a mime being brained with a baseball is alright in my book.

Finally, Beth Deichtman introduces us to Joe, and shows us a little of what baseball is actually about. Not the secret signals and esoteric terms, which all have the ring of accuracy and suggest that Beth is our resident fan, but the idea of capital-B Baseball as a metaphor for life itself. In the midst of the crowds and the cheers and the battle for supremacy, Joe is a man at war with himself, pushing towards breaking point to finish and win the game, regardless of the personal cost. In a game where batters on average miss two out of every three pitches, ball players quickly learn how to lose, but knowing how and when to quit is something else. It takes the intervention of his teammates to convince Joe that it’s better to lose this battle than to forego the whole season, but even with the approval of the crowd following him from the pitch, he cuts a tragic figure as he goes. Whether his team defeat the Yankees or not, Joe has already lost.

So, a great round of stories – as always from these supremely talented writers – but someone has to take the pennant, and this week, the honours go to…

Runner up: Jaime Burchardt for having the guts to make us laugh at his protagonist.

And

The Round 29 Flash Master is…

FLASH MASTER

Cathy Lennon

for her powerful, bruising tale, “The Catcher and the Rye”

Cheers!

Karl

Thank you, Karl, and congratulations Cathy! Your story will be featured tomorrow as the HumpDay Quickie. Please contact me here with any bio information, publications, links to personal sites, or any other information you would like to appear on your winner’s page.

Next week Stella will be our judge (she’s nervous, but I’m sure she’ll do just fine!). Flash Masters, keep an eye on your twitter accounts, I’ll be recruiting judges for next month later this week.

As always, many thanks to the writers for sharing your talents with us each week. Hope to see you again on Saturday. 🙂

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