Thursday, July 8, 2010

Land's Edge Contest- Hon. Mention- John Wiswell

I have been reading John Wiswell's blog, The Bathroom Monologues, for quite a while now. His daily entries frequently amuse, sometimes baffle but always entertain me. He writes fantasy, horror, political satire...heck, probably any kind of satire.

John is a regular contributor to the #fridayflash scene. He is also one of it's most popular contributors, as evident in his essay Exposure by Community recently winning the first #fridayflash writing contest held by its founder Jon Strother at his blog Mad Utopia.

His humour is very slick and subtle and, if you're not paying attention, it may pass you by. Such was the case with his entry in the Land's Edge flash fiction contest. It was most obvious (Duh!) that his story was about the Christmas holiday. My initial reaction to this tale was, "Big hairy deal, I get it...white beard, rosy cheeks...pretty obvious who the dude is!" The other judges promptly smacked me up the head with a half-eaten pastry. "Read it again," they said. I did. You know what, there is an entire substrate there I hadn't noticed. I challenge you to read the following story carefully. Again if you must, and appreciate the writing of John Wiswell.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Necessary Getaway

He moved north at the first opportunity. Way north. He cut all ties, even to his mother, which was the hardest on him. He was a mama's boy. His hair went white from all the stress, including his beard. He took that as a sign to change his appearance and began dressing in pants as soon as they were invented. He spent so long in sedentary hiding that he put on tremendous weight, face filling out, giving him rosy cheeks in the snowy environment. He stayed in doors as much as possible, but always came out around his birthday. It was too lonely, even with the elves that had found him and made camps all around his house. They fashioned him thick boots and gloves that comforted his scarred extremities so much he took up carpentry again, making little wooden toys. The gregarious wee folk did so much for his spirits that he reached out to a similar-sized people - children. He only went out on his birthday, but brought a sack of the toys with him for those boys and girls who had the right attitude. There were always more gifts to give, too, as the elves copied his work and began production for every good child. And associating with children turned out to actually help, for in his old life he had been an average-sized Jew, but to children he was a giant. So his new identity was a jolly mammoth with a white beard and a bag of presents. Even though he only went south on his birthday, no one made the connection. He was safe. No one down there ever guessed that Santa Claus was an alias.


Michael Solender said...

Oy Gevalt! His meshpocha must think he's meshugunna! Fine write here John, very clever.

Pablo Gully said...

What a terrific story, but the formatting appears to be messed up.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Thanks for the heads-up on that, Pablo. I tried to format, line for line, as John submitted but it would not fit the space available. I have tightened it up so that it appears better.

Cathy Olliffe said...

Translator for Michael, please!
John, I don't know Alan was smokin when he read your story the first time. Your tale was touching and a fresh take on an old, old story.
Congrats on the HM, Mr. Wiz.

David Barber said...

That' a great tale, John. Nicely done.

Kat said...

Lol. That was cute. :)

Mike Robertson said...

Pants? Scarred extremities? I've failed the test. Who is this person?

As some know, I love puzzles. I'm just stumped by this one.

Nice work John.

John Wiswell said...

Wow, what an intro from Alan. Thanks for the kind words, they went straight to my ego. It's malnourished and appreciated them!

And thanks for the kind words from everybody. I'm glad you got a kick out of this. I've touched it up a little and am thinking of dropping it into Deanna's birthday contest. As weird an entry there as it was here...

Mike, I can't bring myself to spoil it for you. I'll just list the clues from the text:

-He's Jewish.
-He had a strong relationship with his mother.
-He lived far away from the north pole.
-He was around before pants.
-He has scars on his extremities.
-He used to be a carpenter.
-He had a beard.
-His birthday is Christmas.

Cathy Olliffe said...


Laurita said...

Reading this story was actually one of the highlights of the judging night. You should have heard the discussion that ensued, and it popped up several times throughout the night. We got a lot of strange looks from the surrounding tables, especially when one of the judges yelled out the name of the character. :D

I thought this was a very clever take on an old tale. Classic John Wiswell.

Alan W. Davidson said...

LOL, yeah, I shouted out the name out after you hit me in the head with a hard bun. The bruise has healed up nicely...

Agreed, the most discussed story of the night.

John Wiswell said...

I hope that discussion was pleasant. I fear if discussion went on for too long somebody could get very angry.

Mike Robertson said...

(surfacing from the fog for a moment) slaps forehead. "Of course!"

Nice one John.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Don't worry Mike, I didn't get it either. Maybe because it's really such a strange idea? That's right John, it's YOU'RE fault some of us are dim.

Great intro Alan. John's works are often like curious little puzzle pieces, fun to ponder at different angles and at leisure.