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.
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.