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55 Fiction 2005 

The Fifty-Five Fiction contest made its debut in New Times in the fall of 1987. It was the brainchild of NT founder and publisher Steve Moss.

The idea: Write a great story in 55 words or less. Here's how Moss put it in his 1995 compilation "The World's Shortest Stories":

click to enlarge PAPER AIRPLANE:  Fold. Fold. Crease. Fold. Rip. Crinkle. Wad. Toss. Fold. Fold back. Crease again. Tape. Hold. Launch. ZOOOOOM! Sail! Circle! Swirl! Dip! Dive! LIFT! Loop back! Half barrel roll! Incoming ... CRUNCH. Stuck. High. Way high. (Darn trees.) - Aurora Lipper - San Luis Obispo - GLEN STARKEY
  • Glen Starkey
  • PAPER AIRPLANE: Fold. Fold. Crease. Fold. Rip. Crinkle. Wad. Toss. Fold. Fold back. Crease again. Tape. Hold. Launch. ZOOOOOM! Sail! Circle! Swirl! Dip! Dive! LIFT! Loop back! Half barrel roll! Incoming ... CRUNCH. Stuck. High. Way high. (Darn trees.) Aurora Lipper San Luis Obispo

"Fifty-Five Fiction is storytelling at its very leanest, where each word is chosen with utmost care on its way to achieving its fullest effect. It is fanciful and murderous, speculative and absurd, creepy and touching and just plain wild. But most of all, Fifty-Five Fiction is fun, which is exactly what reading and writing are supposed to be."

What are the basic criteria for Fifty-Five Fiction?

- It's a word if it's in the dictionary.

- Write a fictitious story; not an essay, poem, or errant thought.

- Include a setting, character or characters, conflict, and resolution.

- If your story is not among the ones that were chosen, chances are your effort didn't qualify according to one of the above categories. Or maybe it was just lousy.

This year we received nearly 700 entries from the Central Coast and lands beyond. Sixteen winners were chosen, all from within the United States, in stark contrast to last year where many were global. We hope you get as much of a kick out of reading them as we did.

By the way, the passing of Steve Moss in April of this year is not going to affect our annual call for Fifty-Five Fiction writers.

As he put it 10 years ago, "Fifty-Five Fiction is the name of this writing game, a tiny literary genre with a proud tradition stretching back a full eight years to a time when finding good copy to fill our arts and entertainment publication, New Times, was tough to do. Out of this necessity rose Fifty-Five Fiction." And a New Times tradition.

-King Harris


"Siblings"

"I offered him my son!" yelled Abraham.

"Oh, yeah. I am his son!" said Jesus, and showed his scars.

"This is unjust. Jihad!" said Mohammed.

"Ohmmm ... " said Buddha.

They fought for 1,500 years, until he dragged them all to the woodshed.

"Next time," God said, unbuckling his belt, "I'm only having girls."

 

Anthony R. Elmore

Bradenton, Fla.


An Autumn Drive

I stretched for a cigarette beside the bald monocular zitherist. Fingering his nickel-plated sissy pistol, he banked the pimp mobile into Custer's last vegetable stand to negotiate for today's special: Little Big Corn - $2.00 a dozen. "Don't like the price," old Custer hissed as he drowned a fly in tobacco juice. "Sioux me."

 

Tim Summers and Larry Fornier

Troutville, Va.


Fly Away Home

The speeding truck left your partner a gray highway lump, and you in the culvert.

Trusting me, wings splinted, webbed foot healing, you bonded with the cat, eating earwigs and snails, snoozing in the sun, and listening.

I guess you heard him calling, because today you didn't wake up.

Geese mate for life, you know.

 

Karry

Paso Robles


All the Right Words

All the right words had been said - except three. Father Patrick walked alone to the yawning grave, picked up a handful of dirt, and tossed it on the casket. The Monsignor had been his spark, his refuge, his partner in ways that God alone could judge. He simply couldn't reveal the truth: "I loved him."

 

John B. Ashbaugh

San Luis Obispo


click to enlarge GETTING HIT ON AT MCGINTY'S BAR :  "Hey doll, I don't recall seein' you in this dive before," schmoozed Ricky to Gina. - She stared icily at him. "I've seen you here before." - "You're beautiful, babe. You a model or somethin'?" - "No, a hitman." - "Hitman?? Ain't that supposed to be a hitwo ... ugh ... " - She finished her job before he finished his sentence. - Tim Studer - Burnham, Ill. - GLEN STARKEY
  • Glen Starkey
  • GETTING HIT ON AT MCGINTY'S BAR : "Hey doll, I don't recall seein' you in this dive before," schmoozed Ricky to Gina. She stared icily at him. "I've seen you here before." "You're beautiful, babe. You a model or somethin'?" "No, a hitman." "Hitman?? Ain't that supposed to be a hitwo ... ugh ... " She finished her job before he finished his sentence. Tim Studer Burnham, Ill.

#Western Union Doesn't Deliver Anymore

Detective O'Malley answered the ringing telephone.

"Hello."

"I have a telegram for John Beardsley."

"Speaking," lied the detective.

"John, I'm sorry, forgive me, it's my fault. Coming home. Love, Helen."

"Thanks, bye."

O'Malley looked up at the hanging corpse of John Beardsley.

"Who was that?" asked Officer Pinelli.

"His salvation, coming too late to help."

 

Tim Studer

Burnham, Ill.


Routine Stop

"Fire?"

"Sorry, Officer. What's the limit?"

"Fifty-five. License?"

"Big party. Fifty-fifth birthday."

"Hmm. Born on May fifth."

"Yep."

"Say, is that a '55 coupe?"

"Sure is. Runs like a dream."

"I'll bet. Where're you headed?"

"Route 55."

"Figures. Take it easy."

They gave each other a high-five and went their separate ways.

 

Cheryl L. Leflar

Fort Collins, Colo.


Modern Love

Rick's mother had caught him ... at it again.

"When are you gonna stop playing with that thing?!" she demanded. "You'll go blind!"

" ... yeah ... "

"I'm surprised you haven't worn the skin off your hands!" she yelled, leaving his room in disgust.

" ... yeah, Mom ... "

His hand reached down and picked up the Playstation controller once again.

 

Neil Terry

Grover Beach


The Write Stuff

"Good God, it's really not hard to do. You're a man of words. Everybody reads your work. You cranked out those Commandments in minutes," the young man reminded Him.

"But," the wise old man whimpered, "55 words is tricky even for me, Steve."

"Well, the Devil didn't find it so difficult," the editor chided.

 

Jane E. Nichols

San Luis Obispo


click to enlarge THE DEATH :  The old man called his son. - "There's been a death in the family." Then came the long, awkward silence. - "Oh no," the son thought as tears welled up in his eyes. - "Okay Dad, I'll be right over." - "Take your time," the old man says, "I can change the channels manually." - Kyle Williams - Lake Zurich, Ill. - GLEN STARKEY
  • Glen Starkey
  • THE DEATH : The old man called his son. "There's been a death in the family." Then came the long, awkward silence. "Oh no," the son thought as tears welled up in his eyes. "Okay Dad, I'll be right over." "Take your time," the old man says, "I can change the channels manually." Kyle Williams Lake Zurich, Ill.

#The Biography of Spiff Bixby

Spiff Bixby shot a cat at 5.

"Gotcha!"

Cheated at college.

"Made it!"

Avoided the Army.

"Suckers!"

Married at 21.

"Pregnant?"

Inherited wealth at 25.

"Damn!"

Drank from 25-32.

"Shut up."

Cooked his company's books at 33.

"So?"

Got religion at 35.

"Praise God!"

Entered politics at 40.

"Call me Mr. President."

The American way.

 

Anne Peterson

Oceano


Doomed

"I don't believe in long engagements," he said, slipping three carats on her finger.

"Me either."

"I believe in sharing our lives, hearts, worldly goods.

"What's mine is your and yours mine," she whispered, opening her purse.

"Agreed," he said, pulling an envelope from his jacket.

"I believe in pre-nups," they said simultaneously.

 

Pamela J. Fesler

Leawood, Kan.


Double Cross

She invited him in.

"Killer night." She smiled like a black widow spider, every strand of her deadly web a one-liner.

"He's dead," he told her.

She laughed. "Glad to hear it."

His eyes widened as he saw the gun. "Wait! I'm supposed to be your alibi!"

"Still are," she said, pulling the trigger.

 

Cheryl L. Leflar

Fort Collins, Colo.


Last Rites

"I'm dying," he murmured.

"I know," she whispered.

"Can you forgive me for hurting you?"

She was a shadow beside his hospital bed.

"You hurt me deeply," she said. "Very deeply."

"Let me know you forgive me."

She softly kissed his cold fingers.

"I'm going now," he sighed.

"Good!" she said cheerfully. "Fry in hell."

 

Jerrel Swingle

O'Fallon, Mo.


Time Share

For sale, spac 1 & 2 bdrm condos in renov vict, mod apls, cbl tv, elev, ocn vus, pvt gar, sec bldg, 80 mi n of SLO, 20 k moves u in, sr wmn only call mgr @ 805-666-HELP.

Wealthy widow responds, buys, then settles in.

2 mos ltr, she's 6 ft undr.

 

Paul Alan Fahey

Nipomo

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