A short story from my collection-in-the-works “Charlie’s Lucky Star” has been The story, accepted into a national writing contest
sponsored by the Knight Foundation and the Public Library Association. The story. I would be most grateful if you could visit the site and take a look. The story takes about five minutes to read. Many thanks!
The story, Ray’s Gift, is based loosely on an experience I had while in my twenties, living in New Hampshire. No, the story isn’t really about me, but the visit from Ray did happen and inspired me to write the story.
I was having a tough day on a new job and had a creeping sense that I was not on the right path in my life, when a street person, standing out in the cold in the light December snow looked at me sitting alone at a table having lunch. I tried to avoid eye contact, but he stepped inside and walked the whole length of the small dining room to stand over my table. He was a big man, dressed too lightly for the weather and had copper brown skin, with a white stubble beard and short cropped hair. “Excuse me, son,” he said. “But I’m a bum. Could you stake me to a bowl of soup?”
His candor and gentle manner caught me so off guard that I looked up and said, “Yeah, OK.” I offered to buy him coffee or a more substantial meal. But he said he was only going to take what he asked for and I had agreed to. I couldn’t change his mind. I waited for another ask but it never came. He proceeded to tell me his life story. I said, “you don’t have to tell me all of this,” but he said he felt he did.
The writing contest is being run by a website called “Short Edition” which offers short fiction in categories which can be read in lengths of 1, 3 and 5 minutes, with themes that fit your interest of the moment like “investigate,” “laugh,” or “fall back into childhood.” The core theme for this year’s contest is “courage.”
In addition to being available online, the stories may also be accessed through unique story dispensers in public libraries, like the one from Texas shown here, which print them out on paper in lounges and coffee shops. Pretty cool!