Tuesday, November 3, 2009

First Line, Last Line short story Contest!

(Image For Inspiration: See last line below. Click image for more.)


This is a writing contest, but I encourage all my non writer friends to join. I firmly believe we are all writers at the core. So all you students, family, and friends this is an open contest. I am stealing the idea from Mandy and Michael. It comes from an exercise they did together. Read post here.

So.... I will give you a first line and a last line and you have to come up with a great short story!


  • Thou shalt not use foul language (except of course the foul word in the first sentence I've given you! *Snarf*)or super steamy stuff. (I know, I know, I KNOW!)
  • Thou shall be a follower
  • Word LIMIT: 1,000 words
  • Thou shall take your TIME and proof read and make it the best it can be
  • Thou shall post a link to the contest in your own blog (if you have one) OR on your facebook, myspace, twitter, whatever you do, do.


Just put your story in the comments section. Easy Squeazy. Make sure to put your info (blog, tweet, whatever on the post so we all can find you and follow you and....!) I strongly encourage you to write it in word or whatever you use first. That way you won't lose it. Don't change the lines.


A TWENTY DOLLAR gift certificate to your choice of:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Target (Can't hurt this close to present buying season, can it?)

The winning post will be original and entertaining (make us laugh, cry, think, take it where you want it to go, but take it somewhere....)

I am recruiting a second judge, my partner in all things write, Mandy. Even though I bummed her out and wouldn't let her play :(

Deadline is Monday 11/9/09 midnight wherever in the world you are. (Contest is OPEN for international anybody as long as they follow the RULES.)
The winner will be announced on Tuesday 11/10/2009


First line: Uncle George was crazy as a shit house rat.
Last line: We packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

One, Two, Threeeeeeee GO!


  1. Hey! How can you have the rule of no foul language if your first line is, "Uncle George was crazy as a X$*& house rat."?

    You crack me up.

    Okay, my new committment to the WIP makes me have to pass on this, though the awesome prize is super tempting. I will check back to see other entries, however....

  2. Tess: Is that a bad word? ;) I hope you do visit. Mayhaps help judge?

  3. This sounds like fun! I'll see if I can come up with something... And--if that's a bad word then us farmers are all potty mouths :)

  4. I'll see what I can do. I agree with Deb. That word seems to slip from my tongue quite often. As for steamy, geez, you're no fun. :)

  5. Why no foul language? What a bizarre criterion.

  6. Mr London: It's all about pg rating. I have kiddles following this thing! I know. You're creative, be euphemistic!

  7. HAHA at the first sentence! I don't know if I'll be joining this one but will in the future if you have more! Sounds like a lot of fun :) Good luck to everyone who enters, looking forward to reading them.

  8. Love the contest. And the intro line. Will try to drum up a worthy entry.

  9. I'll see what I can do...


  10. How in the world do you come up with these lines? :)

  11. It's all a tad, you know, American for my taste. But good luck with it and all!

  12. Hey, this sounds fun. Maybe I can come up with something...

  13. Those pictures are nice to look at, how did you get so many?

  14. Sadly, I don't think I can participate but I'm interested in reading the other entries!

  15. this is out of my league. but i do look forward to reading entries.

  16. I love your short story contests!

  17. Willow: I'd be honored.
    Secretia: I just linked the photo to an already compiled site. I'm doing research for a new novel and fell quite in love with them myself!
    LT: NANO baby!
    Justsomethoughts: It is so NOT out of your league.
    Elana: I hope you are going to enter! I love your stories and it's a damn fine way to kill time.

  18. Sounds like a great contest. I look forward to seeing who wins. :)

  19. i'm doing it. go easy. it's my first time.

    Uncle George was crazy as a shit house rat.
    and by that, i mean that i miss him more than i can come to terms with right now. he seemed clairvoyant at times. seemed to know what the future held for him. and often us. and he let us in on these secrets in his own weird self-effacing way.
    so when he died and left in his will that the funeral procession should stop off at the local amusement park, those not close to him thought it was another example of a vietnam vet gone, well, crazy as a shit house rat. a few of us knew better. and i considered myself lucky (and still do) that i was among those.
    when we got the news of his death and his final wishes, it didn’t surprise me or my brother. and though we were much older than the last time we went, without much conversation, we packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

  20. Ooh, fun! I will have to concoct something and return!

  21. may I?,, not sure of the word count.

  22. Part 1

    By: Wym
    Blog: http://teampfalmertexas.blogspot.com/

    Uncle George was as crazy as a shit house rat. He would flick his dry and crusted boogers on the unsuspecting patrons of the local Wal-Mart as he sat in the greeter’s lobby just inside the mega store entrance. We did not like Uncle George. We, the kids, did like Aunt Fred. Aunt Fred was our unique older, male, relative who lived in Orlando. He was a fancy man. Aunt Fred loved to dress in a lavender pea coat and sparkled trousers and walk the entrance of grocery stores shouting at the masses entering. He would shout, “Ahoy! Rough seas ahead!” “Watch for falling chickens.” And “Be a man, Mr. Berries!” We never really knew why, but it made all of us in the family under the age of 30 laugh our pants off.

    Neither Uncle George nor Aunt Fred lived to see the day all the family got together to watch the first ever surf contest at Rockaway Beach. Both were killed in a random and bizarre accident in a roller skating derby show at Rockaway in 1999. It seems the crowd at roller derby events don’t take kindly to boogers or fancy pants. It was a sad tale that is now just a distant memory.
    Ten years had passed since Uncle George and Aunt Fred met there maker on the boardwalk in New York; Fifteen since Cousin Mary ate her weight in McDonald's fries and was wheeled out of her house on a gurney the size of a truck bed. It was this first ever surf contest in Rockaway beach. I thought it would be fitting to get together for fun and sun in a place we could all feel the presence of family far gone.

    I am the true decision maker in our small family as most others are either too polite or too opinionated to just pick a destination for a family get together. I am the oldest child of the children. This means I’m at the kid table at Thanksgiving by default despite the fact I am 26 years old. I almost never suggest family gatherings, social obligations, or parties, but I always seem to be planning one. I see my family once a year, twice at best. So, the addition of the Rockaway Beach reunion seemed like a fun, if not random, act of family solidarity.

  23. part 2 Wym
    As the big surf contest watching family reunion grew closer, I started to wonder why I even wanted to see these people. I did not covet them in my daily life; I did not particularly enjoy the company of family on the rare occasion we did get together. I was still banished to the kid table for goodness sake. I guess family is like a responsibility crossed with a slight obsession for chaos and drama. Whenever I feel the need for some new thoughts in my head or challenge to myself control I just call family. Family like mine does not disappoint. I just can’t believe what continues to evolve or come out of people’s mouths. And I just can’t walk away. The trip to Rockaway was sure to be no exception.

    We were set to meet at the shore early in the day to get a good site on the beach for the surf contest and be close to the public bathroom. The people watching at a public bathroom is a great joy to my father. He loves to watch the blistered, sand-covered tourists panic at the always long line at the doors. We all arrived around the same time and were quick to set up shop for a long and leisurely day on the sand. We broke out the sandwiches and chips, drank the sugary soda, forgot the sun block, and helped the younger set stay occupied in the tide pools.

    At noon the people began to arrive in droves. Families from all over, beach bums, teenagers, and tourists. We were blocked in on all sides. A big fat man sat his cooler down no more than 2 feet from out blankets and began his first of many beers and smokes. The group down the beach pulled out the boom box and began playing the latest Lady Gaga tunes. A woman with 4 young children had decided that Rockaway was the perfect venue for attempting a family picnic, as the only adult. By two o’clock my mother began to complain. She was not a quiet complainer and soon my aunt joined in. They would give the dirty look. They would make an obscene gesture. They would yell.
    Soon, people on the beach seemed to be gravitating to the idea that purposely aggravating our party was the thing to do. The surf contest was all but forgotten as beer cans and garbage was pitched at our site by all sides. The music became more obnoxious and loud. The smokers smoked. My Cousin Allen decided enough was enough soon after the last jelly sandwich landed on his new copy of Cat Fancy magazine.

    And then the chaos and crazy my family is famous for began. He stripped off his clothes. We all did. We took the kids, the coolers, and the blanket. We were naked to the world as a solid form of blistered skin and white moons. This was family; we were shocking the world in defiance to the crowds.
    I guess it can go unsaid that the whole group is and always has been a little unorthodox. No one has ever followed the rules or put up with much discomfort from others outside the group. We do tolerate each other and we fit one another from time to time. When we get along and get together it is memorable to say the least. As the beach police drew near, we looked toward the crowds and the boardwalk. We packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

  24. Uncle George was crazy as a shit house rat. He had been most all his life, at least in a fun sort of way. He had accelerated once Aunt Flo had died some twenty or so years ago. Daddy hated the day that we took Uncle George to the “Sy-lum”, but Uncle George needed a lot more full time attention than we could give him. I knew that my visiting time with Uncle George was becoming short. I had some important things on my list to complete with him. Today was a good day. Sunny skies and the temperature was just right.

    “Uncle George, hey there , I am Jim Bob. How are you doing?” Knowing he couldn’t hear a cannon go off if his butt was leaning against it, I was darn near yelling at the top of my lungs. I never could tell if he actually heard anything I was telling him. He leaned forward, each time, hunching his shoulder and squinting his sky blue eyes as if that would make him hear better.

    “Huh? Whad ya say Glen Roy? I caunt hear ya, I ain’t got my teef in” He always laughed out in a series of outbursts with a wispy windy laugh. It always made me think he sounded like a blacksmith’s bellows blowing air onto the hot coals. His mouth, open in a big circle grin, as if to reinforce his claim of not having his “teef” in. His blue eyes still twinkling. “Shussssh, we gotta be quiet. They listening in on us all the time. These people that run this joint are nuts. Crazier than betsy bugs,, all ‘uv ‘em. You can’t trust none of ‘em. They even give you them there little pills that make ya,, ya know? Not chase women. I fool ‘em though. I drink a Mountain Dew right behind ‘em. Knocks ‘em in the head, right off. Just ‘cause they think they gonna hide my shells, it’s gonna keep me from going hunting’” Blacksmith bellows.

    As a little boy I loved going over to Uncle George’s place. He enjoyed playing as much as us kids did. He had a nineteen forty nice GMC pickup that was in good mechanical order but had not been registered for many years. There was a dirt road that traveled the back side of his farm. He would take us on a whirlwind ride up and down the curvy hills at breakneck speeds. When we got into our early teens he let us sneak off by ourselves, but he enjoyed the rides as much as we did. I took the old truck to my place when Daddy took Uncle George to the sanitarium. I didn’t want vandals and the elements to just wipe it away.

    “Uncle George, I think we should go on an adventure.”
    His eyes fixed on my face. He was not smiling. He waited for a good long spell.

    “They ain’t gonna let me just walk out of here‘ Are we gonna have to carry on here in this hell hole?” One eye, the left one, squinted closer to shut than the other one. He studied me right close.

    “When was the last time you went for a ride? I mean a reaa-ull ride? The left eye almost shut now while the other one danced back and forth. Tongue licking recessed lips, darting from side to side like a grass snake stalking a bug. “I am fixing to break your ass outta here!” Big blacksmith bellows.

    “I ain’t goin’ without Mona” Shut eye, no smile, tongue darting. “Me and her been a courting, when I can get my hands on a Mountain Dew.” Darting, waiting.

  25. What the hell. Jail is jail. “Ok. Where is she?”

    “Right down the hall. Two doors.” Shut eye. Darting.

    “When I say so, go tell her to get ready and ya‘ll come back down here.. Don’t get into any long discussions. Now I was darting. Now what? “Have you got any matches?”

    “Nope but I keep a Bic lighter, hidden for my pipe. Why?”

    “Just give it here!”

    .“ Dang boy, you going to burn this sumbich down?” Big bellows.

    “Not quite, but you just hang close when the commotion starts. Are you ready?” It took about sixty seconds for the Bic lighter on its highest setting to melt through the heat activator that kept the valve closed on the sprinkle system. Sirens and flashing strobe lights filled the corridors with voluminous alarm. White suits filled the halls and people where hollering from all directions.

    “Get Mona.” Uncle George must have had a Mountain Dew with his lunch. He hit the floor in full stride, or more distinctively full shuffle. He was swinging his arms back and forth to give extra balance and speed. I grabbed his suitcase that he always kept packed. He expected every visitor to take him back home. As soon as I reached the hall they appeared. Mona kept looking at Uncle George then back at me as if to wonder what was going on. Uncle George must have noticed that too.

    “We’re outta here Mona. Do you have what you need? Uncle George was in a heighten state of excitement to say the least.

    “Old man, don’t wait on me. Let’s hook ‘em.” she had what looked like a pillow slip full of various belongings. She chewed ninety to nothing on a wad of Beechnut chewing tobacco. Her excitement was also apparent.

    Nobody was paying attention to anyone that was walking on their own power. People who were being helped to walk and wheel chair patients had overloaded the staff. Hardly anyone noticed the three of us casually walking down the hall toward the door. Just before the main lobby Uncle George reached over to the red switch on the wall and pulled the lever, breaking the small glass seal. The alarm was already ringing. “That is for good measure.” He never even smiled. The exit doors unlocked when the fire alarm goes off so I pushed and the door opened. Mona stopped just before walking onto the porch. Uncle George and I both stopped to see what she was up to. The registrar was sitting in her office behind a plate glass shield. Mona turned her back to the frowning lady and gave her a big ‘ole moon.

    “Dang Mona, you beat all I ever seen.” Uncle George slapped both knees. Big blacksmith bellows.

    Stopping beside the restored nineteen forty nine GMC pickup truck, all three of us turned and looked at the old red brick “Sy-lum”. Time was precious, we had to get out of there.

    We packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

    comments welcome

  26. Liza http://middlepassages-lcs.blogspot.com/
    Part 1
    Uncle George was crazy as a shit house rat. Gramps said he got that way from the service, but to tell the truth, we couldn’t remember him any different. Sometimes he smelled funny and for a while, he came dressed in a costume almost every time. A joker’s hat, a frog’s head; for the last one he came as a giant crab with his arms hidden inside blue poster boards cut like claws and stapled together. Guess he wasn’t cooked yet.

    That day, Linnie and me ran to the door before he saw us and there he was balancing on his good leg trying to kick the doorbell with his gimpy foot. “My saviors!” he hollered, as we yanked at the door. It was swollen; in the damp air it always was. It took the two of us jerking it together to open it wide enough for him to slide through. Then he chased us squealing to the kitchen, waving his pinchers.

    That time Ma sounded kind of mad. “Can’t you ever arrive dressed like a normal person?” “Naaa. What fun would that be? Where’s Harry?” he responded, strolling over the worn linoleum to the fridge, then glancing down to his crab arms and laughing. Slipping his hands from the claws, he handed them to us. “Have at it you two, but don’t break them. I’ll need them when I see Georgie” he said, reaching into the top shelf for a Budweiser.

    Georgie? Linnie and me froze. Even Ma’s eyes bugged out on that one. Georgie was short for Georgiana, Uncle George’s daughter who he hadn’t seen in almost two years. Before the costumes started, as long as we could remember, Uncle George, Aunt Metta and Georgie showed up for all the holidays and birthdays and a lot of weekends in-between. Most times, Linnie, Georgie and me scampered to the attic for the dress-up trunk and dragged it to the yard. The splintered planks of a wooden dock Dad stored in the high grass by the fence made a cool stage. Dad used to joke that what we lacked in talent we made up for in noise, but we weren’t always the noisy ones.

    The last time they all visited together, Aunt Metta screamed at Uncle George. We heard him yammering in the kitchen as usual, but then there was this gigantic crash and we could hear Aunt Metta saying: “Sylvia, I’m so sorry!” and then louder, “George! Can’t you ever just stop?” Next thing we knew, Aunt Metta skedaddled out the door like that roadrunner on Saturday cartoons hollering “Georgiana, let’s go. We’re leaving right now!” She grabbed Georgie under the armpit and yanked her up, not even letting go when Georgie screeched, “Ow Ma! That hurts.”

    Behind them, Uncle George tilted back a beer can with one big gulp before throwing it in the grass and limping to the car. Aunt Metta yelled: “I’m driving!” before doors slammed and they peeled out of our driveway. That night in bed, Linnie and me discussed things and we’re pretty sure Aunt Metta was crying.

  27. Liza http://middlepassages-lcs.blogspot.com/
    Part 2

    After that, they didn’t come back. One night when Ma was tucking us into our pineapple-post beds under the slant roof up in the eves, she told us that Uncle George didn’t live with Aunt Metta and Georgie anymore and that was it. They didn’t show up for Linnie’s and my eighth birthday, or Georgie’s ninth, at Christmas, or even the Fourth of July picnic at Nannie’s and Gramps.’ That stunk, because Linnie and me got stuck with Orin, our second cousin on the Jarvis side and he’s only six. Sometimes Ma helped us send Georgie letters, but that’s not the same.

    About a year after that fuss, the doorbell rang on Halloween, and Uncle George stepped inside wearing a fireman’s outfit with a plastic hose he squirted at Linnie and me. On Thanksgiving he sat down to dinner with a cooked turkey hat that had drumsticks for ears. On Valentine’s he got out of the car holding a bow and arrow and Ma said: “Put that right back George.” For Easter, it was a whole bunny outfit and after a while, it didn’t need to be a holiday. When we knew he was coming, we waited giggling, to see what he would wear. You probably won’t believe me, but one time he dressed like a bumble bee.

    So anyway, it was big news to hear that Uncle George was going to see Georgie, let me tell you. Mom looked at him in that way she has, the one where her eyebrow jackknifes up, and you know she figured out you snuck two ginger cookies from the tin she packed for the veteran’s shelter.

    Looking at the beer in his hand he whispered “Son of a gun!” and turned back to the refrigerator. Opening the door, he placed the can on the top shelf and pulled a pop from below. Cracking the top, he took a swallow and said, “I’ve been dry for thirteen months. AA five nights a week. I’m going to kick it this time Syl. I’ve been talking to Metta and tomorrow, I’m driving to Tennessee. I have a sponsor there, and Metta’s dad has an opening driving a forklift. That means,” he said, swooping down on me and Linnie, “I have one afternoon left to spend with my girlfriends.” Wrapping one arm around Linnie and one around me, he dragged us toward the door before turning to face Mom, waggling his eyebrows up and down. “Wanna come?”

    “You betcha,” grinned Ma, tugging at the knot and yanking off her apron. She shouted upstairs to Dad: “Field Trip!” Grabbing the bread from the counter and reaching for the baloney from the fridge, she called to me “Mellie, get the cooler from the porch!” and started slathering mayo. It was Labor Day weekend. We packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

  28. http://mercurialwoman.blogspot.com/

    Uncle George was "crazy as a shit house rat". His description, not ours. We found him to be the most sane member of our family. How do we describe Uncle George? Sitting outside the memorial service, we challenged each other to tell the story that best defined his quirky personality.
    "Ya know, he loved to tell stories on our family, especially the stories nobody wanted told," sighed my cousin. "Remember the story of Uncle Johnny taking Aunt Kate and Grandma for a ride down the steep hill that her house was on? It had cross streets that cut flat across the hill. That street looked almost like a strange cartoon version of a staircase - steep hill, flat cross street, steep hill. He sped down that hill and hit the cross street without touching the brakes. Grandma bounced up from the seat, hitting her head, hard, on the roof of the car. Uncle Jimmy laughed like crazy. Aunt Kate cried with anger and embarrassment while she tried to calm her furious, dazed mother."
    "Then he would immediately tell the story about how Grandma saved him," my little sister said, her voice wrapped with soft reverence. It was his way of telling us how awful it was, what Uncle Johnny did to Grandma. We talked about Uncle George telling how he was the only child in a family ravaged by alcohol and violence. As a young boy, he played with Grandma's sons and loved the warm stern woman who managed a house full of ruffians with sweet, but absolute, tyranny. She took him into the family and made it clear that it was where he belonged. He always loved her. "She showed no favoritism," he insisted with a wink. 
    That was all we ever knew of Uncle George's childhood. He never got over Grandma dying so young. In his grief and loss, he joined the carnival at 19 and spent most of the next few years traveling around the country, escaping into a life filled with a strange mix of adventurers, free spirits, n'er-do-wells, and the certifiably nuts. He always claimed – because "he was crazy as a shit house rat"  – he fit right in. It was, he insisted, the perfect place for him grow up. Whenever the carny made it to North Jersey, he would steal a few days off, and take the bus to Queens. Aunt Maryanne (well, she wasn't "Aunt" Maryanne, yet) was waiting for him at the depot. They would go off to to the beach and make a day of it, just like they did as kids – the whole gang of 'em swimming, eating, getting sunburned and riding the rides.
    During those trips to the beach as kids, Grandma kept a close eye on her little Maryanne. According to Uncle George, she knew they were sweet on each other. To get past Grandma, Maryanne and George developed the perfect ruse. They would get in the very back of the family line at the roller coaster, making sure that they were in the very last seat with the rest of the family sitting in front of them. When the coaster whizzed into the dark tunnel, they would share the secret sweetness of a tender kiss lasting until the sunlight jolted them apart.
    Uncle George and Aunt Maryanne were in love with each other the whole time they were married. They settled down, raised a family, and rolled smoothly into middle age. When Maryanne was diagnosed, and he knew she was dying, George never left her side. He would make her laugh, telling her funny stories of his years with the carney and reminding her of their childhood adventures. They shared their memories reliving those happy moments.
    "We have your Uncle's ashes ready for you, now," said a voice, ending our reminiscence. Everyone stood up, smoothing our clothes and walking slowing toward the waiting charter bus, as our cousin came back outside carrying Uncle George in a small white box. He carefully opened it to make sure that the contents could easily catch the wind. We packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

  29. What a fun contest! Now, if I can just finish the other blog writing contests I've committed to this month, I'll do this one. Excellent idea!

  30. Damn Girl. I have only just returned from holidays and back to the land of decent internet connection so I have only just found your contest! Now I have...what... a day... to write??? Oh man! Okay... so no promises about entering this one. I will have to see if my muse is back from holidays yet.

    And I am sending my memoir ... I know I KNOW! :)

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Okay, I told you I would be back and I am! All the entries so far are so, so good, I was intimidated and almost chickened out.
    But, because I promised [and I heart you]...[and I need to rationalize my NaNo word-count of 1 by telling myself that I *have* written this month. It just wasn't for NaNo]...[oh crap, this is long!]
    Here it is:
    Uncle George was crazy as a s*** house rat. And though he’d been dead for more than five years, he still wouldn’t leave us alone.

    We spent the summers in his abandoned house on the beach, surrounded by tacky sculptures he’d purchased on business trips to Paris, mismatched furniture, framed magazine cutouts of actresses nobody recognized, and him. He was everywhere.

    Sometimes the dusty, old ceiling fan in the dining room would go on by itself, swiping angrily at the air, and thuk-thuk-thuking until one of us stood up to turn it off.

    There was also the thing with the Fruit Loops. If you left a half-eaten bowl in the sink or an opened box on the table, it disappeared by the time you came back. No matter how long you were gone.

    Mom left them out purposely for him sometimes. “Fruit Loops for the Fruit Loop,” she’d say, but I think she felt bad for him.
    It had to be hard watching other people stalk through your house, erasing your fingerprints with theirs, leaving marks on your windows, and spilling drinks on your carpet.

    Every few nights – every night, when he was younger – my little brother, Casey, would wake drenched in sweat, sobbing, and screaming, until we all came running.
    It was always Uncle George.

    Once, he said he’d seen George wearing a powder blue suit and dancing the jive with one of the pinup girls on the wall in the attic. We think it was Marilyn Monroe.

    Dad didn’t believe in ghosts, and, since the beach house was all that was left of his older brother, he never considered us spending our summers elsewhere.
    Actually, there was this time we almost went to Mexico. But Dad quickly vetoed the idea when it became clear that this would entail a thirteen-hour drive, spending money on hotels and gas, and bathroom breaks every half hour because Casey was infamous for his bladder issues, and “impeccable control” was not one of them.

    There was one thing I did like about going to the beach house, though. Every year, around the fourth of July, there was a four-day carnival an hour away from George’s house.

    With the sugary taste of cotton candy in my mouth, the wind tousling my hair mercilessly, and the sea of people I didn’t know, I forgot all about Uncle George and his ghost at the beach house. The sun beat down on my face and what were Fruit Loops and ghost-uncles and pinup girls in nightmares?


    All I remembered was the rush of being thrown down, toward gravity, by the Giant Drop. Laughing with Casey and my parents, and listening to a redhead complain about getting sunburned as I waited in line to use a porta-potty.

    The carnival days were great, but the last day was always the best. The fan didn’t go on and our Fruit Loops stayed where we’d left them.
    Maybe he was off dancing again. Or maybe he hoped that if he was good, we’d stay the whole year, longer than the two summer months we spent here both now and when he was alive.
    But we never did.
    We packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

  33. Oh. MY. GOD! How will we choose Mandy? How will we choose? These are really GOOD!

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  35. All these stories are about the SAME guy,,what is that all about? :)

  36. Uncle George was crazy as a shit house rat. He worked at FunLand in Rockaway running the roller coaster, which is why we never rode the roller coaster there. He had a very thin neck and a very large head, with wispy hair floating every which way under the battered top hat he wore. People would laugh at his corny jokes and figure his appearance was all part of the show, but it wasn’t, because he wore the top hat at home too. He would mow the lawn in dressing gown, slippers, and top hat, and cars driving through the neighborhood would slow down as they passed to gawk at the crazy old man dancing along behind the mower, singing "Hello, Ma Baby" at the top of his lungs.

    We loved Uncle George because he always had candies in the pockets of his tailcoat. If we came to visit he would shut the roller coaster down, hang an Out To Lunch sign on the control booth, and drag us from amusement to amusement, sweet-talking the operators until they let us cut in line and ride for free, whether we were This Tall or not. When we got older, though, we began to notice the peeling paint and rusted ride supports, and we didn’t go to FunLand so much. Uncle George became more of a joke than anything else, but we still took his hard candies and the free rides now and then.

    By the time we stopped going to amusement parks altogether, Uncle George had lost his job. We heard he stopped the roller coaster halfway through a ride, hung his sign on the control booth, and disappeared. The people trapped on the ride must have screamed bloody murder. One of the park managers had to bring the coaster down again. They didn’t find Uncle George until closing time, stretched out behind the scenery in the haunted house, snoring like a baby.

    Once he lost his job, we didn’t see Uncle George very much. Dad would comment on his escapades at the dinner table, and we would shake our heads and chuckle indulgently. He still mowed the lawn in his dressing gown and top hat, but other than driving to Walmart in his battered Ford Pinto and flirting with the cashiers, he didn’t seem to do much of anything. Some days, Dad said, he would go out to FunLand again and stand by the rollercoaster, smiling and joking with the people in line.



    The first summer home from college, I heard that FunLand was closing for good at the end of the season. The next time I saw Uncle George, at the Fourth of July barbecue, he looked stranger than usual. He wore the top hat and tails, and an ancient pair of plaid pants held up with bright yellow suspenders. His hair was wispier than ever, but instead of the wink and nudge and off-color joke that were his usual greeting, he offered only the barest of smiles. His eyes had this strange, unfocused look to them, and I could only mumble a few pleasantries before I excused myself. Most of the evening he stood by the fence and rocked back and forth, nibbling at a plate of hot dogs and beans at a pace of about one bite an hour. When the fireworks in town started, our view across the back field was marred by his scarecrow figure, the top hat silhouetted against the exploding pinwheels and starbursts.

    They found him in his car in the parking lot of Funland that August. Everyone must have thought he was sleeping, because it took a couple of days before someone called the police on account of the smell. At the viewing, we all thought he didn’t look like himself, dressed in a neat blue suit with his hair combed flat against his head—crazy Uncle George transformed into just another old man, dressed for his funeral in his Sunday best. Before they began to fill in the grave, Dad knelt and tossed in the package they’d given him at the morgue. It burst at the seams when it landed, and the old tailcoat sprawled across the coffin like a blanket. The top hat skidded across the polished wood and came to rest against the dirt wall at the head of the casket.

    On Saturday morning of Labor Day weekend, we met in the kitchen and ate in silence. The coffee maker popped and bubbled on the counter, sounding like the popcorn carts at FunLand in midsummer. When we were finished breakfast, we packed up and went to Far Rockaway beach for one last ride on the coaster.

  38. Part I
    Uncle George was crazy as a shit house rat. He owned the Laundromat near the edge of town. You know, the one with a lot of the neon letters out. It constantly blinks LA NDR AT. It’s been like that for years. Uncle George was too cheap to fix the sign.
    The summer was hot. We hadn’t had rain in a month, which was not normal, and the crops were dying. The one thing that really would have cooled me down would be a trip to the boardwalk at Far Rockaway Beach. I longed to go again. Bobby’s dad took the family last summer for Bobby’s birthday. I got to go because to ride the coaster, there had to be two people. Bobby’s dad had to ride with Jenny, Bobby’s little sister, and Bobby needed someone to ride with him. His mom said she would faint of she ever went on that thing.
    Bobby and I rode our bikes all over town every day that summer we were 12. We headed out every morning and looped around town, watching people coming and going. There was nothing else to do in this jerkwater town. Our favorite place to stop was the Laundromat. We would stop and Uncle George would give us a Coke out of the machine out front. He carried a bottle opener in his pocket and would drop the bottle cap on the ground. The opener left three small holes in the cap. You always knew a bottle had been opened by Uncle George.
    The country people used that Laundromat; they never ventured into town much, except to stop at the Montgomery Ward catalog store to place and pick up orders. They stuck around the edge of town keeping to themselves. They did talk to Uncle George though. We would hang around and listen to all of the country gossip.
    One day, a country girl not much older than us stopped in the Laundromat. She was looking for Uncle George and asked us where he was. We told her that he had just gone to the post office but would be back soon if she wanted to wait. Her hair was long, blond and dirty. She wasn’t wearing shoes, and her dress didn’t fit too well. Her belly stuck out really far, like my mom’s did before my little brother Eddie was born.
    She sat down on the wooden steps and I offered her a drink of my Coke. She thanked me and tipped her head back and closed her eyes as the sweet brown liquid hit the back of her throat. She must have been thirsty because she drank the whole bottle in a few gulps. Some of the Coke spilt out on her chin and she wiped it off with the back of her hand. She handed the bottle back to me and stared down the road looking for Uncle George’s truck.

  39. Part II
    Bobby and I looked at each other, and then we stared down the road, too. Nobody said anything. Finally, we saw the brand-new green 1970 Chevy truck coming down the road. It was his pride and joy.
    Uncle George angrily slammed on the brakes when he saw the girl. He stormed up the Laundromat steps, grabbing her by the arm as he climbed. He closed the door behind him as he entered the building so Bobby and I couldn’t follow. We strained to hear what they were talking about, but all we heard was “baby” and “yours.” Uncle George stepped outside and screamed at us to leave. Bobby and I got on our bikes and pedaled home as fast as we could.
    That night, I was awoken by a knock at the door. My dad answered, and it was the sheriff asking if we had seen Uncle George. My dad asked why, and the sheriff said that he needed to ask Uncle George some questions. It seems a young blond country girl had been killed at Far Rockaway Beach. “What does this have to do with George?” my dad asked. “She was clutching a bottle cap with three small holes in it,” said the sheriff.
    They found Uncle George at the Laundromat the next morning. He was confident that he wouldn’t be caught, but he was wrong. We have a family trait of making poor choices.
    A week before summer ended, the news came that the boardwalk was closing for good at the end of the season. Bobby and I so desperately wanted to go before it closed forever. Our dads wouldn’t take us, we knew that. We eyed the green Chevy truck sitting at the end of the driveway. It had been there since Uncle George went to jail. I knew the keys were in my dad’s dresser drawer. We could go ourselves. We packed up and went to Far Rockaway Beach for one last ride on the coaster.

  40. Sorry about the 11th hour entry, Suzy. I worked it up today while I was stuck at the doctor's office for two hours.

    Great job, everyone! Loved reading the entries.

  41. Okay. Ive decided. I will post the winner now.