Timothy Boundeslas couldn't wait. He couldn't, he had written beyond any doubt the perfect short story that he was sure to win this week's Reedsy Short Story Contest. A beautiful story, "Bobby Brittlethorp and the Bully" about a boy who, after coming into contact with a radioactive Bombardier Beetle, develops the ability to shoot hot acid at people. It was soo good. He was going to be an author. He had waited almost seventy years to do so but now was his time. Well the first five or ten years were really about getting out of diapers and learning the language but now things were happening.
Now Timothy could do it. He was a balding, skinny old man with gray hair and flakes from his scalp falling down his neck. He had mostly put the issues with his mother behind him. She had died while he hunched over the cheap used Chromebook he got on eBay. He wiped the spittle off his chin with the back of his hand. His gnarled hands then poised over the keyboard. He touched each fingernail on both hands to the thumb on that hand before he began to type. The nails were long, dry and chewed over. But he had it now. Understanding stuff. He wouldn't think about the way she had judged him anymore. The mean way she talked to him. How she always wanted him to "brush his teeth and go to bed" wouldn't cross his mind at all. Now he knew way things worked. Now he could get on with it. Especially since he had his mother's estate to live off. With fire in his eyes he was writing. And had written hard for a full ninethy five minutes. Using everything. Word placement, sentence structure, periods, commas,, nouns, consonants, verbs, vowels.
Of course Timothy hadn't read any of the other Reedsy stories yet, or previous winner's stories but had read his own. Over and over and over again. He didn't want to leave anything to chance though. So while waiting for the results of the contest he was sure to win, he began looking at and reading some of the other writers stories and had to admit some were pretty good. He was tired. Tired of waiting. Tired, tired, tired! Timothy was a man, a smart man, with experience, and he knew (even his first time) what Short Story Writing Contest politics was all about. He started putting his plan together..
First, Batool Hussain was the leader. With eighty two Likes, and one hundred and forty eight Comments. They must know someone, but Thomas let them know much he enjoyed "The shape-shifter." He wrote some compliments and asked them to look at some of his work. They reponded by thanking him for his feedback but he could tell by the tone of the response that they knew how good my work was. Batool gave him a lot of confidence in my plan. He did that again and again with all the stories from the top down. He asked to be read his likes went up. Not way up but grew steadily. He kept at it reading and liking and commenting.
The waiting, the waiting the waiting!! It drove him crazy!! So then Timothy decided to go back to everyone and ask if they were Reedsy Judges. Or if they knew any Reedsy Judges, or if they knew anyone who knew any Reedsy Judges. He began with Batool, again reminding them how good their piece was and thanked them for the support in the competition and how much it all meant to him. He wrote he would like to send them five dollars. He knew that meant something when Batool thanked him for his feedback. Some of those who responded that they were judges he offered twenty dollars to. Some were willing to sell their vote and their influence as well. He was surprised to discover that there were hundreds and hundreds of judges. Some of them began contacting him and his Comments section grew exponentially, but the Likes, not so much. Some of the writers knew people who were judges and allowed him to engage them as well.
Still waiting Timothy wrote out more elaborate comments to get people to his pages. He was getting better and he knew it. At least his comment writing was. Still, he waited, and waited. And waited. He had written all entrants and again asked them to take a look. More did. His likes kept rising and more comments were made. But still, it wasn't enough. He could feel it but couldn't figure out what to do. Finally he knew. He wrote again to everyone, thanking them for their good work. He told them how much their support was appreciated, how attractive their image was, or if it was an icon how well designed and beautiful it was. How fortunate their lover was if they had one. How with writing ability like they showed and their beauty (or the beauty of their icon) he would be at their feet as their sexual slave if he won the contest. How his whole life would be devoted to them, how every book in his library to every sock in his sock drawer would be theirs. And he could get a toothbrush too. H wrote Batool and in a way the response just seethed with erotic inference telling him how much his feedback was appreciated.
So, that's where Timothy is now. Sitting on the naked on the metal stool in front of a counter. Watching the gnats hover by the open window. Listening to Carly Simon on the radio. Waiting for an answer. Was he a winner or a loser. But he learned a lot. How impotant it is to finance your dreams. The behind the scenes drama of Short Story Writing Contests, the etiquette, the power players. How people are unfairly judged by their adverbs and sickly adjectives. How gooder righting is ignored for the sake of power.
But, who knows, there's always next week.
"Well that's the way I always heard it should be..."