And the Finalists for the Writing Contest are…..
I know everyone has been waiting patiently to find out who the finalists are for the writing contest. It took much deliberation to narrow it down to just three. I even had to strong-arm my family into helping. Okay, they actually didn’t mind reading the stories and actually enjoyed seeing all the variations of the theme, but it still wasn’t easy for them to decide either. Without their help, I would have posted all the stories up as finalists! As much as that sounds like a great idea, it really is better to have just three.
So here are the instructions, please read (or re-read) each story carefully. Once you feel that you have determined your one and only choice, go vote for it at the poll at the bottom. You may only vote once, so please do not try repeat voting. I have set up some precautions to prevent this, but nothing is full-proof. Let this be a fair contest. Good luck to the finalists!
1) “The Frog and the Violinist” by Lynn Hallbrooks
A frog named Red is on a street corner in downtown Houston. Red was brought on a bus from New Orleans by mistake. After being unceremoniously dumped off the Greyhound bus, Red tried to find his bearings. Red turned when he heard a little jazz rhythm. He saw a man playing a violin on the opposite street corner.
Curious, Red hopped a few feet closer. Suddenly, Red heard a great rumbling sound. He looked up to see a shiny object that looked like a street car. Knowing from experience that street cars are dangerous to frogs, he waited. Soon there were all these people coming out. Red hopped over feet. Once, Red bounced so high that he saw some polka-dotted underwear. People started moving from side to side but basically ignored Red’s plight.
Undaunted, Red finally found a place to rest on a planter. After the shiny streetcar left clattering away, Red heard the violinist again. He peeked over the planter and saw that he was even farther away. Red rested a moment longer in order to get up his strength.
Suddenly a robust looking woman walking a cat came along. Just above the cat was a large straw purse. “Aha”, thought Red. He jumped into the purse as the woman crossed the street. As the woman turned right, Red leaped out onto the sidewalk into the open violin case.
The violinist nodded to Red as he continued to play his jazz piece. Red sang his throaty song in time with the violinist. Passers-by began tossing even more coins in the case. Red danced between the clinks of metal on metal. The violinist smiled at Red.
That night, Red is adopted by the violinist. They both live happily ever after.
2) “Once Upon a Stradivarius” by Tim Greaton
Tom cradled the violin gently in his lap and traced the ancient tailpiece with one finger while staring out at the pond. A red-haired girl, maybe about twelve, ran past and sent a tiny frog leaping from the shore to the safety of deep water. Tom watched the little creature, barely out of its pollywog phase, and envied that it was just beginning its life.
Ignoring the pain in his arthritic wrist, he stroked the instrument that he had carried with him since joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra nearly fifty years before.
“We’ve been through a lot together,” he whispered.
He had decided to become a classical musician in junior high, a time when neither of his parents believed he would take it seriously. Tom smiled at the memory of that first violin which, no matter how many times it was tuned, always skewed the C low. By high school, his parents had finally realized how serious he was and had purchased a custom violin from the music store on 5th Street.
Tom leaned down to pick up a poorly aimed Frisbee but decided his back was sore enough already. Besides, his swollen wrist probably couldn’t have thrown it more than a few feet.
The young frog watched with curious yellow eyes as Tom instinctively protected the violin when a boy in a red tee shirt gave him a weird look before grabbing his Frisbee and running off.
Julliard had been an amazing experience. Neither Tom nor his parents had expected him to be the top student, not just of his class but of the entire decade. He remembered the trophy and wondered if he could even find it in his dusty attic. It was also at Julliard that his parents had somehow scraped up enough money to purchase a beautiful instrument with a gleaming black body that could sing almost as well as his Stradivarius. If only he had learned martial arts a few years earlier, he might not have had to smash that Strad-copy over the head of a hoodlum while walking home one night.
Flexing his arthritic hands, he wondered how much good his black belt in Ninjutsu would do him now. In the twilight of his years, it almost didn’t seem to matter.
He closed his eyes and ran his thumbnail across the violin strings. The notes were as clear and beautiful as they had been that first week at The Symphony. He could still hear the raucous clapping as the audience rose to its feet to watch him perform a Bheethovenic solo…while also playing the harmonica. Even the conductor had stopped to watch—
“What are you doing, Tom?”
Tom opened his eyes to see a skinny blond boy with severe acne approaching.
“I told you to leave it alone!” The blond boy snatched up the violin and stuffed it into the cloth case beside the bench.
“That’s no way to talk to Boston’s finest violiner,” Tom said.
“We’re called violinists not violiners, you idiot,” the boy quipped. “And if you touch this again I’m going to tell your mom. “
“No respect for your elders,” Tom announced getting to his feet. His aches and pains were suddenly fading away.
“The bell just rang,” the blond boy said.
Knowing he’d already been late twice this quarter, Tom raced toward homeroom. Along the way, he scooped up a rolling basketball and tossed it…to a past teammate who had been kicked out of the NBA for drinking too much Red Bull.
“Lebron called last night,” Tom said. “He’s refusing to play unless I sign on with his team.”
3) “Benefit Concert, Come One Come All” by R.C. Drake
The band was scheduled to play at the local bar, for the benefit at 9:00 p.m., sharp. It was 8:50 p.m. now, and so far only Rof, the bass player, and Arty, the drummer had put in an appearance. Rof was steadily thumping away on the huge strings of his monster bass, keeping a constant tempo with his fat webbed foot. He couldn’t take his eyes off the clock on the wall though. It seemed with every pat of his fatty foot, and thump of his glompie hand the clocks incessant tick, permeated the room louder, and louder. He knew that he had told Pimpo several times, the time of the gig. He had fortified his instructions sayiing, “Be there early.” Rof could feel his patience wearing thin. This benefit was for his friend Rippit. Rippit had a very large family, including twenty-one children, sixteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Of course there were various other additions to the family, that no one was certain of. Rippit had fell off a log, a freak accident, injuring his foot. This injury had prevented him from going to work at the, “Slim Factory,” where he had worked for some six weeks now. Unable to bring home the bugs, so to speak, he was in deperate need of financial assistance. Rof had been talked into the gig by Pimpo in the first place, so now he was very upset at being stood up. Rof was about to call it quits when Pimpo came strolling into the bar with violin in hand. Mighty cheers could be heard, as every frog in the place started jumping up and down and all around. Pimpo waved his fans of, and strode up to the stage like he owned the place. Then he started to play. It turned out to be a wonderful concert, and lots of bugs were donated to Rippit and his various family group. So all in all, Rof was pleased with the outcome. He couldn’t stay mad at his friend for long, after all, no other frog could play the violin like Pimpo