March 2013 Writing Contest Winner

Mark Henwick- 1st Place Winner of Mistress’ March 2013 Writing Contest!

Mark Henwick- 1st Place Winner of Mistress’ March 2013 Writing Contest!

We have a winner for this month’s writing contest.  Both of the finalist stories were truly entertaining.  I received some nice feedback from the judges on both of them.  Only one could be chosen for the top choice, though, so here are the voting totals with the eight judges only voting for their favorite:

Mark Henwick: 6
Paul Venderley: 2

Mark Henwick is our official winner for this month with his fun story, “The Little Feller”.  Please do congratulate him.  For a background on Mark, he is a popular urban fantasy author with two books in his “Bite Back” series available at this time.  For more information about him and his writing, please visit his blog here.  His winning story will be posted below for those who missed it.

Our runner-up for this contest is Paul Venderley with his story, “The Paths of Dubh Linn”.  Paul has a family oriented blog you can check out here.  You can also read his story entry at this link.

I am in the process of contacting the winner and runner-up at this time.  They will receive their gift cards in their email.  Thanks to everyone who participated.  We had some awesome entries this month that certainly made this competition a nice one.  I look forward to seeing more in the future.

For those who are interested in the next contest, it will begin on April 13th and remain open until April 28th with a “pirate” theme.  You can find further information on the Monthly Writing Contest page.  No one can submit an entry until the contest opens on April 13th, but you can at least get started on writing it.  If you are not subscribed to this blog, please do so if you don’t want to miss important updates on future contests.

Finally, here is the winning story:

The Little Feller

by Mark Henwick

The little feller came in just before dusk and climbed up onto the bar stool. Really up.
Another time, Annie might have asked for his ID, he was that small. She eyed him dubiously. Not exactly dirty, but none too clean either, with the sort of grime that kinda wears into a feller’s hands. Damn, and she’d thought things were on an upturn around here. She chided herself. Given the theme of the bar and the day, it was the least she could do to put an effort into her welcome.
“Top o’ the evening to ye, sir. And what’ll you be wanting?”
The man’s face scrunched up like he had constipation.
“That’s the most appalling Irish accent I’ve ever had the misfortune to hear, and I’ll tell you this, I’ve drunk in English pubs.” He leant elbows on the bar.
“Well,” she replied, almost angry except he had the brightest gleam of humor in his eye and a genuine Irish lilt, “welcome to Annie’s Bar, the best Irish pub in Louisiana. I’m Annie. It’s St Patrick’s Day, and we have Guinness and Jameson at half.”
He squinted up at her, grinning. “You’ll not be giving me a glass of Guinness, and I’ll not be paying you half for it.”
She wasn’t sure what that meant, but while she was working on it, she poured a Guinness and placed it in front of him, sliding the mat underneath with practiced ease.
“Now that’s welcome,” he murmured and took a thirsty swallow.
Annie sighed. Jokes aside, she felt a responsibility to small strangers coming into her bar today. “I’d drink that and move on,” she warned him, her voice returning to its habitual Louisiana twang.
“I liked the accent,” he said, frowning. Then he reached across and patted her jaw. “And why would I be moving on when I’m just getting meself comfortable, lass.”
“Well, and you’ll be attracting notice, what with your size, and all. For the competition. Now you’d not be wanting that, I’m thinking,” she said in broad brogue. Annie’s mouth closed with a snap and her eyes crossed as if they were trying to focus on her lips to see who had moved them. Where the hell had that come from?
“Much better,” he said. “And that’d be the Dwarf Hurling Competition, would it now?”
Annie’s mouth opened to answer but it was too late. The door swung open and Bart came in, head bent down to fit through the opening. His eyes lit up and he came and sat down on the next stool, towering over the little feller.
“Bart, you’ll not be harassing my customers today,” she snapped.
“Wow! Awesome accent, Annie. You must have put some hours in,” Bart said. “A Jameson for me and another Guinness for my friend.”
“I’m thinking I’d not be a friend if I didn’t accept that drink,” the little feller said.
“And a friend—”
But before Bart could fill the little feller in on what a friend would need to do for him, the door opened again. A slight and tidy figure stood framed by the lights outside, her glasses glinting.
“Bart Manus, I have caught you red-handed,” she said.
“Evelyn, come now, he’s just sitting down this very minute,” Annie said in her weirdly good Irish voice.
“And how long does it need? He’s—”
The little feller spun on his stool. “And who might you be, lass?”
“Evelyn Merriman, County Deputy for Health and Safety,” she said stiffly.
“Merry by name, merry by nature,” muttered Bart swirling the Jameson under his nose.
“And I am here to prevent disorderly, discriminatory and unsafe conduct, namely the so-called competition conducted here under the auspices of this establishment—”
“Evelyn, I haven’t run the competition since the time the window was broken,” Annie said.
“He’s here,” Evelyn stabbed an accusing finger at Bart. “And there was a sign outside.”
“Sure, and it’s not my sign.” Annie lowered her eyes and polished the bar unconsciously. It wasn’t her sign and technically it didn’t happen in the bar. It happened in the yard behind the bar. Only sensible after that small guy was thrown right through the window. And she didn’t run it. She just sold food and drinks to people who came.
“Of course it’s not your sign.” Evelyn sneered. “I have confiscated it anyway, on the grounds of discriminatory language against people of lesser physical stature. And you,” she turned on Bart, “I’m not allowing you to recruit an unknowing bystander to replace your colleague.”
“And just why would you be needing to replace a colleague, in this event we cannot name?” the little feller asked.
Bart went pale and Evelyn glared down her nose at him triumphantly. “Go on,” she said, “tell him.”
“Well, it was a mistake, y’ see, I was spinning round with Little Jim when my ankle twisted and I let Jim go too early.”
“You were disqualified?” the little feller said.
“Yes, that too. But the problem was, y’ see, it was the Alligator Creek Hurl. He’s alright,” Bart went on hastily. “On account he can swim real fast.”
“Lucky Jim,” the little feller took another swig.
“Yes, and lucky you,” Evelyn said, trembling with self-righteous vindication.
Bart’s shoulders sagged. He’d trekked around every bar in town before coming here. The little feller had been his last chance. And what a chance! Bart was certain he could hurl him clear across the yard and into the field behind, sore ankle or not.
“Well now, I’m betting there’ll be no actual law against people enjoying the craic,” the little feller said.
Evelyn’s eyes bulged. “What do you mean by crack? Are you—”
The little feller reach up and tapped her ear gently.
“Oh, the craic,” she said, as Annie and Bart looked blankly at each other. “Of course the legislation doesn’t specifically exclude legitimate amusements. But this competition is evidentially—”
The little feller sighed and reached out to tap her jaw.
“Sure, and I’ll just not be having the humiliation of smaller people in this town,” she concluded and frowned at the sound of her own voice.
“You’ll be stopping the competition then,” the little feller said, grinning.
Evelyn scratched her head in puzzlement, wondering at the words bubbling up inside her and trying to get themselves said. She was, wasn’t she?
The back door slammed open and a blast of horns signaled the start of the event. A crowd was gathering outside under the jury-rigged floodlighting. They were starting to jump up and down on the spot and chant.
“Hurl! Hurl! Hurl!” they yelled.
Evelyn ran out, waving her arms and shouting in an Irish accent, and made more friends than she’d ever had before in her life, even though they couldn’t actually hear what she was saying.
Annie opened the back window and organized the staff until they were clustered there like bees, relaying orders and selling Guinness and Jameson by the tray-full.
The little feller slid off his stool and wandered out. For want of anything better, Bart slouched disconsolately after him. There was no chance of getting a dwarf to hurl at this late stage, and the little feller had been put off by Evelyn, whatever she was going on about now.
He staggered a little. There were a lot of bars he’d visited in his search for a victim… err… partner, but even the alcohol didn’t take the edge of his misery. Hell, he was about to lose his title for want of a partner. It wasn’t even as if there were alligators in the pond out the back here, but Jim had been adamant. He’d had enough.
It looked to Bart as if the competition would go to Big Bob Massey, or maybe the Australian. They were hanging back, waiting for the no-hopers to finish landing their dwarves in the middle of the pond. Not a single one had managed to reach the mats on the far side yet, but the crowd was loving it, as always.
The little feller tapped his leg and Bart knelt down to hear him.
“Are you any good?” asked the little feller.
“I’m the champion,” Bart sighed and burped. “At least until the end of the competition.”
“You’ll not be throwing me half way across the pond,” the little feller said, chuckling.
The meaning of which statement Bart was still trying to work out, when he lined up, little feller alongside.
“Don’t be taking your shoes off for better grip,” the little feller said. “And whatever you do, don’t be spinning round three full times before you hurl me. You’ll be remembering to let go too.”
Bart thought it was damn sound advice. The launch area had gotten muddy. He threw his shoes aside and felt the mud between his toes.
“How far you think you’ll get, mate?” the Australian shouted out, trying to put them off.
“Oh, doubling,” the little feller replied.
“Twice the distance? Dream on.”
Bart spouted the advice you were meant to give a first-time contestant, but he was running out of time and garbling it all. The little feller gave him a slap across the jaw and the words were still tumbling out in Irish when the announcer called them out.
“AAANNDD NOW. The one. The only. Your very own Bad Bart Manus and …” The crowd screamed and Bart reached down to get a good grip on the little feller’s wrist and ankle. No one noticed the little feller hadn’t been named.
Bart squinted up at the far side of the pond. Big Bob’s dwarf had made the second mat, but the Australian’s had made the third. Sure and hell and he was going to spin round three times and he wouldn’t be tossing the little feller only half way across the pond.
It was only as he spun round the third time he remembered he was supposed to do something else too. Or not.

Damn and who had been about leaving the dustbins here? And who turned the lights out?
Bart tripped and fell over. One bin, balanced on another, tottered, and with wonderful inevitability, emptied over him.
“There he is,” came a voice behind a searing bright light. “Drunk as O’Malley. Out you come, lad.”
Bart managed to get to his feet. The law may speak with different words in different countries but only ever in one tone, and it was a tone that Bart knew. He didn’t think this was Sheriff Clay, but it might well have been a cousin.
“Now, lad, what’re you doing?”
Bart squinted into the blinding light. “Well, and I was just tossing the little feller here,” he jerked his thumb back to where he hoped the little feller was, and stopped when he realized he wasn’t.
“I see.” The tone of the law took its most ponderous, and words started coming in italics. “You were just sitting here, tossing your little feller.”
“Well, sure, and we started out the back of Annie’s Bar on account of she won’t let us toss inside, and I… don’t know how I got here,” he finished lamely, suspicion dawning like the sun through the fog of alcohol in his head. “Where am I?”
“Round the back of the Bridge Inn. About a mile from Annie’s.”
Bart knew every bar within ten miles of Annie’s. There were no Bridge Inns. And the little feller hadn’t said ‘doubling’ at all. At all.
“In Dublin?” he said.
“Of course you’re in Dublin, eejit.” There was a sound from behind the bright light. A sound that Bart knew. The sound of handcuffs. He licked his lips. Time for desperate gambles.
“You’ll be arresting me for indecency and being disorderly, then,” he said, holding out his hands.
There was a sigh and the light clicked off. “Piss off home,” said the gardai, turning and walking away.
“You’re a natural, an’ no mistake,” the little feller said, emerging from the shadows.
Bart knelt down and looked at him. “How come there’s no magic sparkles when you, y’know… do things?”
“On account of I’m not fooking Tinkerbell and this is not a flaming Hollywood vampire movie neither.”
Somewhere, a bell tolled.
“How does it work? You say not to do something and the person has to do it?”
“That’s the oldest law of laws. Do what I tell you don’t.”
“And the garda just said to go home, so I can’t?”
“He’s not got the voice.”
Bart rubbed his face. “Why? And why me?”
“It’s a grand way to travel, d’you not think?” The little feller whipped out a glass and a bottle of Guinness from somewhere, pouring it slowly as the bell continued its tolling. “You’ll be getting thirsty,” he said. “Stay and have a drink.”
Bart shook his head to clear it. The hell with that. His hand was reaching for it anyway when the twelfth bell sounded and he fell into the glass.

“Wake up, mate,” roared the Australian in his face. “You’ve won again, you canny, drunken bugger. You slung your dwarf so far across the pond they can’t even find him. I reckon he’s done a runner.”

~ by Suzie on April 1, 2013.

3 Responses to “March 2013 Writing Contest Winner”

  1. Congrats, Mark! Very funny entry 🙂

  2. Very pleased to have won this! Thank you for the competition, Mistress!
    And thanks for the comment, Tim.
    This was fun, *having* to keep the word count down, something I have trouble with. 🙂

    • You and Tim should become friends because he has the same problem with word counts, lol. It’s always good to challenge yourself, Mark 😉

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