Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Flash Fiction Contest: Buzz and Sadie Word

Multiple Winners for this one!
Read my comment at the end.
Write a story about Buzz and Sadie Word and Win the Drawing on the Right
The contest closed Wednesday November 30, 2010

Buzz and Sadie Word 
16"x20" oil and mixed media on masonite

The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.  Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at kmencher@ohlone.edu with your info.  There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.  E-mail it to me at kmencher@ohlone.edu

Go to my website for more contests: http://www.kenney-mencher.com/

Winning flash fiction stories will be integrated in with an exhibit in San Francisco at ArtHaus Gallery (April 8th for the reception).

The show is called:
Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs

The exhibit will include a series of 20-40 paintings and mixed media works ranging in size from 8”x10” to 18”x24” framed with thrift store and vintage frames.  In addition to the exhibited works ArtHaus is publishing catalogs signed by me and as many of the authors as possible.

Catalogs/books will consist of image of the painting with the text of the “flash story” surrounding the image.  If I can get the authors to come to a book signing/party, authors would sign their pages for some of the printed stuff.

We're going to have a photobooth for the show for participants to play with and vintage costumes.

Of course I'll send the authors free copies of the catalogs. I will announce the winners the day after the closing deadline for the competition. I'm planning on doing one flash fiction competition a week every Monday from now until April. 

(If the conditions in the side bar are not to your liking, I'm totally flexible.  Send me a contract that you like and I will mail it back to you.  I just don't want to chase people for signatures when I publish the catalog!)
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Submitted by e-mail:

Late Afternoon Song by Natalie Korman

Mum’s the word. There’s nothing in any language I know that can possibly match the rhythm of today, this is just so different—

Music’s the only sound I hear, even the sound of your voice is music. It makes me shiver when you said, the long vibrating, delicious, ticklish note of that “v” in your mouth. You draw it out. “I lovvvve you, Sssss—”

Don’t say my name. And don’t say that word. The nice folks at the theater don’t want to hear you say something salacious like “sexy,” but you can say it later, when we’re snuggled up close—

Snap. Something sounds like a bee as the photo booth whirrs into action. You never show teeth when you smile, but it’s okay if you kiss me after. I think we got a nice shot. We’ll put it on the mirror in the bedroom.

I hear the tinkling of glasses and something as simple as a fountain soda makes me giggle. You spill it over your good pants and make an awful face. Suddenly serious, you push a stray strand of hair out of my face. You say, “Thanks for this.” I say, “What?” “Today—”

Orange streaks of the sunset, sky still blue, looks like the stove flame. Now we’re cooking with gas, now we’re getting something sultry and simmering, taste a little on a spoon, remind me why we did this in the first place, I think dinner tonight will be—

perfect.

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This was submitted via e-mail:


"Pipe Tobacco" by Marlin Bressi
One package of Captain Black, please.  Black cherry, if you've got it.  Yes, that'll be everything.  You know, the smell of Captain Black pipe tobacco really takes me back to when I was a kid.  I suppose lots of fathers enjoyed smoking pipes back then.  Buzz, my father, certainly did.  All the fellows down at dad's office called him Buzz and the nickname sort of stuck.

After all of these years I don't think any of us knew exactly what kind of work he performed at the office.  Like other dads, he would exit the house each morning, briefcase in hand and fedora atop his head, leaving behind a trail of Old Spice aftershave which lingered in air for a good five minutes after he left.  At precisely ten after six each evening he would return home, kick off his shoes, and smoke his pipe.  Over dinner, he would discuss things like the Peterson Account or the Wilmer Account, or the Kinney Account.  It was 1955 and I was six years old, so at the time I assumed my father must be some sort of accountant.

Sadie, that was mother's name, was a beautiful woman.  Here, look at this picture.  I've been carrying it around in my wallet since I was a teenager.  It was taken right after the war, before Buzz began working for Mr. Kelleher.  A young couple in love, the entire world spread out before them like a banquet.  I wasn't even a speck of light on daddy's eye back then.  No, I wouldn't come along for a few more years.

Fifty-five was a tough year for the Ward family.  Some investments went south and the roof began to leak and mother said that she wanted to join the workforce.  Buzz adamantly protested, of course, he being of a generation which believed that a woman's place was in the home.  Perhaps mother wouldn't have minded staying at home, if the roof didn't leak so much.

Mother promised that she would stay home, but sometime around February she began squirreling away money, stuffing it inside the tin of sugar in the kitchen cupboard.  She did whatever she could to make life better for me and Sis.  She gave piano lessons, voice lessons, you name it.  Beautiful as well as talented, that was Sadie Ward.  She was bound and determined to get a new roof by the end of the year.  I suppose women aren't fond of being rained upon in their own homes.

Spring eventually came, slapping the bitter taste of winter from our mouths.  Mr. Kelleher's firm was handed the Peterson Account, which must have been quite an important deal for my father.  One day, Mr. Kelleher took Old Man Peterson and daddy out to lunch.  Those were the days when business was conducted over ribeye steaks and a few stiff martinis.

"Let's go to the Purple Panda Club," suggested Mr. Kelleher.  My father balked, of course, because he knew all about that place.  Topless waitresses fluttering around like gauzy-eyed butterflies, cigarette trays strapped to their waists.  Buzz Ward didn't frequent such establishments.  His idea of indulgence consisted of a cigar, a snifter of peach brandy, and perhaps a Dodgers game on the radio.

Buzz Ward, however, knew the Peterson Account was the kind of deal that could make or break Mr. Kelleher, so off to the Purple Panda they went.  How red daddy's face must have been upon entering that place!  I can only imagine his embarrassment.  You know, mother was the only girl he ever kissed?

And how red daddy's face must have been when Old Man Peterson pointed his stubby finger to the stage, his turkey neck wattling as he said, "Sweet fancy Moses!  Look at the cantaloupes on that dancer!"

"Why that's Sadie," said Mr. Kelleher.  "They say that for a ten-spot, she'll take you in the back and do anything you'd like to her."

Lord, look at the time.  How about giving me another package of Captain Black before I go?  I have to meet with Mr. Phillips from the parole board.  Daddy's been in prison for a long time, and I'm sure he misses his pipe tobacco.

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This was sent by e-mail:


On Reflection by Luke Coleman

“Honey, you gotta stop rushing me, you know I hate these things.” Buzz Word was stroking his thinning hair back across his scalp. Fifth anniversary or not, he was none too keen on the person he saw in the mirror of the bathroom.

“Buzzy, I just know how long you take, we got time, I just want everything to be perfect, I want you to be my big handsome man in a picture that lasts forever.” She was excited and nervous as she shouted through from the bedroom. She took her dress from its hanger and lay it down on the bed, with the pride and tenderness of a new mother.

Buzz stopped staring at himself. There would be time for regret later, but before the act it was completely without point. He filled the sink with steaming water from the kettle, contaminated it with some cold and plunged his hands in, pulling a wash over his whole face at once. He allowed his face to drip into his soap and submerged his badger brush. In one movement the brush left the sink, took three fast circuits of the soap and landed on his cheeks, carelessly smattering his cheeks and chin with lather.

Sadie dropped her robe from her shoulders. In the full length mirror she examined herself. From this distance she could reflect on her trained posture, but also her detail like the lace trim of her new panties. Despite closing in on thirty, she still had a body that she was proud of; apart from her Worry, as she had taken to calling it. Of course, having not yet been blessed meant that her stomach was quite flat, and certainly not stretched. As her eyes lifted she settled on her breasts. She sighed, picked up the second part of her new underwear set and turned away from the betraying, polished rectangle.

Meanwhile, across the hall, a man with a pit in his stomach tapped his razor clean on the porcelain. He was staring at the image of his fingers running across his now smooth face (not the eyes, Buzz, not the eyes) and then dropping (keep away from the eyes Buzz) to his neck. He felt himself lucky not to have the impossible wilds of chest hair with which his father was cursed. The poor man knew not where to end his daily scrape, whereas Buzz had just a flourish of hair crowning the top seam of his undershirt. He pulled the plug on the scummy, flecked water and idly wondered how he could do the same to his marriage.

At her dressing table, a gift from Buzz two years ago to the day, Sadie peered as close to herself as she could without blurring her second face with condensation. Carefully she painted her lips, but even with this concentration she looked at her Worry, now cradled in the cup of her brassiere. Had Buzz realised the lump before her? He was so reserved at times, so quiet. Just recently the withdrawal had been worse, and Sadie feared of telling him of the Worry. It had been the taking of her mother, but she had been 10 years older than Sadie was now. It really was a Worry, she thought, as she lay down her thin brush and dried her lips on some weak tissue. She cursed lightly when some of the paper remained on her upper lip, but it didn’t ruin her gloss once she had removed it. Besides, she had bigger worries, such as making sure Buzz was ready in time. She wanted to enjoy the short walk to the chemist’s shop in this beautiful sunshine.

His left thumb pushed the button through the hole where it was received by its opposite and its opposite’s neighbouring forefinger. Buzz’s eyes rested on his wedding band. Maybe he shouldn’t leave. He loved Sadie, after all. But he had to be with Jane, and they had agreed that they would leave their spouses as one, tonight, and take the drive to Canton, Ohio, so far away from here. There was work in the Dueber-Hampden factory for them both, Jane’s brother had assured them. In the months of conversations, agreements and finally planning, Buzz had never seen this day truly coming. He snapped the collar closed and looked at the eyes staring back at him through the light mist. Taking the Brilliantine from the shelf, he palmed a little between his hands, warming it before flattening it over his hair. He took his comb and with each stroke of his scalp considered how he was to tell Sadie, and when. After we have had this infernal photograph taken, he mouthed at the man about to break his sweetheart clean in two.

The good wife, lost in the motion of brushing her hair, saw the bedside clock reversed over her shoulder. Looking around, she realised she had been dwelling a little, and that they had only a few minutes to walk to Billy Howard’s store. “Buzzy, darling, are you ready?” “I am now,” he said as he walked into the bedroom, fastening his tie, smiling an unsure little crease across his square jaw. Sadie’s thoughts brightened. (What a handsome man, how lucky I am.) But darkened so soon, as often happened nowadays. (How sad I am that I have the Worry, and what it will mean.)

She put the brush down, stood up. Without a word, she took his arm and they left the apartment block, Buzz locking the door behind them. They soon arrived at the chemist’s and Billy showed them to the back room, with the warm greeting of a man entranced by his new photographic equipment, and the money it might make him. He positioned his subjects as he had been taught; this was the classic composition, apparently. Any awkwardness that Buzz and Sadie felt left as they caught one another’s eyes in the camera lens. They smiled and thought as one, “I’ll share my bad news later.”
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This was sent by e-mail:


By Christina Jeter



Happiness can do wonders for the reflection of my demeanor that you see…

I wanted nothing more than to be loved and to give love back, unfortunately  the people I chose to give my love too decided to make me feel a shame of wanting to share my love.

I saw the admiration and affection that my father gave to the girls on the magazines/and movies, so I made myself act and look like them in hopes that it would attract a man like my father and always have his attention.

I saw the cruelty that a woman faced for not going all the way and when she did, the shame she was made to feel because she didn’t join a nunnery because her first didn’t want her anymore.

Then you came into my life and shared your love with me and I felt sadden that my love wasn’t pure for you.

As you take me into your arms and life, you let me know that I shouldn’t be hurt by my past lovers as it was all a plan for me to be the woman you wanted to share your life with, be the mother of your children, and the person you come home too.

You honor my opinion and never challenge me for speaking my mind, what simple pleasure have been corrupted by the men in my past, you take heed in making me never having to relive them again.

Never limiting me in anyway, you always encourage me to follow my dreams. No longer naïve, I have the intelligent to love you as you deserved.

The first time you lend in to kiss me, you placed your head first and never used your hands to direct me in the position to your love.

Our love is innocent because we only know each other and no matter what challenges I face outside the world, your love can heal them all.

Now that we have children of our own the motto we share with them is know that you are the only person who holds authority in your life and those who can’t respect it, don’t get to have you in their life.
http://www.linkedin.com/in/christinajeter
www.cjeter.com
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This was sent in by e-mail:
A Perfect Day By Randy Wizek

Buzz had it all. As head of one of Madison Avenue's most prestigious marketing firms he created million-dollar slogans for everything from men's razor blades to women's cold cream. He moved in a world that most can only imagine. The rich, the glamorous. The world was his oyster so that is was not uncommon for his colleagues to hang on his every syllable. The newest buzz word was Buzz himself. For that indeed was his name. Buzz Word lived for his work. There was no room for boredom in this post-war prosperity. There was always the next big advertiser needing his golden touch to send their corporate stocks soaring.


The truth is though there was no room for Buzz as an individual. He was the job. As with many creative individuals, the hollowness that comes from three years in such a highly charged profession led him one day to question just where he was going amidst all his success. Amazingly, rubbing elbows with the fashion elite, where pretty girls by the score were used in many of his high-dollar advertising spots and having the New York secretarial pool at his beckoned call, Buzz was a lonely man. A frozen TV dinner with work brought home were how this tycoon of Madison Avenue wound down each night, as the world seemed to more and more beg the question, "Is this all there is for Buzz Word?"

Sadie was 21 years of age and had gone to college in Minneapolis. After graduating from MU she had aspirations even in this time of women?s place being in the home, of making a meaningful and cultured contribution to the world. Sadie loved to read and was proud of her new position as Assistant Head Librarian at the Main Library in Manhattan. To the many people she encountered each day requesting the latest dime novel or high profile media magazine, she would try to suggest a work of culture from the great authors and not just the Micky Spillane stories that seemed the latest rage. She was untiring in the face of this world of sensationalistic though quite shallow reading faire and always had a book peeled while at lunch or after dinner, evenings.

She loved New York as it was so different than the small town feel of Minneapolis. While at MU she had studied classic architecture and was interested in seeking a position in city planning, having seen some horrible city centers while visiting friends in the town of Gopher Prairie, Kansas in her sophomore year. She was a long way from Gopher Prairie now and New York certainly had no need for a city planner, especially a female one. So Sadie tucked her dreams in each night and the days stretched lengthily before her until in her third year at the library and with no immediate professional prospects began to see that her future was beginning to look fairly bleak. Most women would at this time seek out a man to fill this void, and Sadie was no different in wanting love. But the men she had as yet encountered both in her work and in chance meetings in the local cafes were not what she wanted.

Buzz was lunching with a client in Manhattan Friday afternoon. He was not himself this day. The head of a leading architectural firm was grilling him. Buzz needed more information than he had in his back pocket and for the first time, his words failed him. He left and began wandering not really knowing where he was going. It then occurred to him that though he was the brain trust of a mega-million dollar firm, he did not have all the answers. Just about this time he was passing the expanse of Corinthian columns of Manhattan's Main Library. Yes, this was what Buzz needed. A departure from the glitz of Madison Avenue and some much needed reading on his subject. He needed to get his battery charged to continue to maintain the pace that taxed him so.

"Where do I find the section on media advertising and marketing?", Buzz asked the assistant head librarian whose head was in a ledger at the moment rubber-stamping overdue books. Sadie was not at once impressed with this energetic though a bit flashily dressed gentleman with posh French cuff. Buzz did feel a bit out of place both in dress and having always had the answers. Now he was looking for them. It was then that he caught just a glimmer Sadie?s eye. It was only for a second and he was on his way to his section.
As it sometimes happens a person will crack open a book and turn immediately to the page needed. This was just such a time and Sadie was quite surprised to find the gentleman back so soon. She assumed he needed more help and rather impatiently met his look. Buzz was ready to check out and Sadie was quite impressed that this man was so quick on his feet with the printed word. "Guess this one'll do fine?" said Buzz while once again peering into her deep brown eyes and realizing at once that this was no ordinary schoolmarm librarian but a very lovely girl in her mid-twenties. Buzz caught himself staring and regained his composure. He then asked of local cafe?s where one might catch a bit of reading and he was gone. Sadie looked after him for an instant and then went back to her ledger.
She could sense that another person was approaching and when she looked up again it was once again Buzz. The man with the gift for words was now stumblingly asking if she had plans for dinner. For some reason now Buzz was surrounded by a glow and she felt herself a bit flustered at this encounter. Buzz was so much the schoolboy that she couldn't refuse. That evening as the sun went down two people fell in love.

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Buzz and Sadie – the true meaning of friendship.
Susan Crimp

When I saw the drawings and painting of Buzz and Sadie tears swelled in my eyes. I had heard so many stories about them, particularly Buzz. I had also seen countless photographs but I had never seen them captured by an artist. They indeed should be hung on a wall. Buzz has made it on to a wall before and these images now complete the story. Indeed, these works are a great tribute and I am touched that someone took the time to study this amazing couple. Buzz was my Grandfather's business partner in lower Manhattan. He and my Grandfather owned Giovanni's. Apparently, it was a small family style restaurant with the best Gelato outside of Italy. Well at least that's what my Grandpa said. Sadie occasionally helped out in the kitchen. But most of all she was Buzz’s loving wife and also a good friend of my Grandma Maria. By all accounts Buzz and Sadie were  very special.  According to all who knew them they were Kind, generous and fun.  Actually,  Buzz got his name because he was always running around helping people. Buzzing here and there. His real name was Burton. His other nickname was Burt, and he actually met Sadie one day on Houston Street, as she was struggling with her Mum's groceries. Buzz asked if he could help her and within a year, they were married. It was a big old Italian wedding and  my Grandpa was the best man. Buzz didn’t have much family. He was an Orphan. But he had picked himself up at a young age and an Old Italian widow, who he was given to by the Church raised him as if he was her own. Being childless Louisa loved him. Sadly she died just a month after the wedding and Buzz was devastated. Newlywed however, he was able to focus on his new family and though he and Sadie took time to start a family eventually they had a beautiful daughter Jessica who they doted on. Buzz always told my Grandpa how he wanted to make something of his life, and how loyalty, friendship and family were everything to him. He never wanted to disappoint anyone because he had always felt abandoned as a child.
It's difficult to know exactly what the story was. I do know that things were tough in the restaurant business after the war, and if you didn't have the right connections it was very difficult to make ends meet. Buzz was concerned about the business and introduced an investor to my Grandpa. Sadly, it didn't take long before the business was run down and went bust. My Grandpa was out of luck and out of money. Buzz felt terrible, he loved my Grandpa, and felt responsible for the whole collapse. My Grandpa never blamed him. He just accepted that some time's you win, and sometimes you lose.
Buzz quickly disappeared from the neighborhood. By all accounts, he, Sadie and Jessica, just took off one day without a trace.
All my Grandpa knew was that he got letter from Buzz expressing how sorry he was and how he could never face him again because of the shame. My Grandpa was devastated.  Every day he tried to find Buzz to say it was okay but Buzz and Sadie were gone. My Grandpa could not understand why Buzz would behave this way. After all they were friends.
Then one day out of the blue my Grandpa received a letter, it must have been about 5 years after the collapse of the restaurant. My Grandfather died in 1996 but he kept the letter and would read it every day. Today I have that letter framed on my wall. it reads:
My Dearest Friend Giovanni,
I think of you every day. I do not know how you will ever forgive me. I cost us everything but most of all our friendship. I have saved everyday to pay you back but I am nowhere near what I owe you. I enclose a check for $5000.00 and as soon as I save more I will send it to you.
I cherish our times together. I miss you and your family. Maybe one day when I have paid back everything I will see you again.
Your friend,
Buzz.
My Grandpa, kept the letter in his wallet, and the check was framed on his living room wall. That's how I know the story of Buzz and Sadie. When I first saw the check on the wall I asked my Grandpa why he never cashed it. He told me that even though he had a humble life some things were more important than money. He also said it was a reminder of the true meaning of friendship and that cashing that check was not important but the sentiment with which it was written was.  My Grandpa also said that no matter what problems you experience in life you should always be able to tell your friends and not run away from them. My Grandpa died having only one regret -  and that was he never saw his good friend Buzz again.  

Today, I keep the check by the letter on my wall, when my friends see it they wonder why the check was never cashed and then they read the letter.  I am pleased to share the story of Buzz and Sadie. I believe there is something for us all to learn by it.