SUMMER FLASH SHOWDOWN: GRAND PRIZE WINNER OF THE SEASON!

Photo Courtesy quickenloans.com
Photo Courtesy quickenloans.com

The winner of five free Sundress Publications titles of her choosing and publication is…

Amy Sayre Baptista!!!! Congratulations!!! 

Here’s T.A. Noonan’s two cents on the what helped her bring this competition to a bitter-sweet close:

First of all, thank you to all of the entrants in the Sundress Summer Flash Showdown. This was not an easy decision to make. One might argue that such a thing is easy— “all judges say that”, “it’s just flash”, “how long could it possibly take”, etc.—but it rarely is. Eleven stories, eleven approaches, eleven musics.

Maybe it is just flash. Maybe each story doesn’t take long to read. Maybe judges do say their decisions are difficult more often than not. But how does one choose between the perfect smile inside a syringe or the strange brew of friends and local beer, the sadistic delight of slugs under salt or the algebra of relationships?

I spent a long time struggling between three pieces: Amy Sayre’s “Pike County Consilience,” Sam Slaughter’s “Zymurgy,” and Donna Vorreyer’s “A Life Quadratic.” Ultimately, “Pike County Consilience” won me over. Sayre’s juxtaposition of country wisdom and diabolical empiricism drew me in. Our narrator is as comfortable with survival as the scientific method, keeping “in my toolbox right alongside the wire cutters and the claw hammer.”

I’m not sure how to sum it up without spoiling the whole conceit, not that that matters much—“how long could it possibly take”, etc. But let’s just say that, by the time you see the “Banty Rooster broke-necked under [the narrator’s] windshield wiper,” you’ll need to know what our Kentucky scientist concludes.

Pike Country Consilience

By Amy Sayre Baptista

 “Proof is derived through a convergence of evidence from numerous lines of inquiry–multiple, independent inductions, all of which point to an unmistakable conclusion.” –The Scientific American, 2005

A science man studies the world to say “why,” say how it got made. A Pike County man ciphers the world for what it is, and how to survive it. Me? I got some science in my toolbox right alongside the wire cutters and the claw hammer. Got me a proof, and a theorem, or two, just as useable as my crescent wrench. Let it be known to all: I love Jesus Christ. That said, the Son of Man never broke no barriers on the biological front. Chalk that up to Charles Darwin. Talk about loaves and fishes? Ok, no small feat, Jesus wins. But give Darwin his due.

Don’t believe in evolution? Make the acquaintance of the good damn brain God gave you, please. Humans? We scrambled up outta dark water; fin, fang, and claw. No doubt. Pretty it ain’t, we used to filter our own sewage out our gills, and rip our supper off a breathing bone. Still not convinced? You must be one of them that thinks babies came to life with mother’s love and angel milk. Truth never stands a chance with the feeble minded. But I’ve had to stare a man back on his haunches. Eye to eye, I recognized the abyss we crawled out of throbbing beneath his pupil. Gibb Delbert’s his name. Glared back at him with a blade at the end of my gaze, and knew he was still gonna come for me. Not for a social call neither. That’s evolution, and Gibb’s on the slow track.

Darwin was on to something with his consilience. In plain English, that’s many ways of coming to an unmistakable conclusion. For instance, Bud Rickart says to me at the Rod&Gun on a Wednesday night, “Gibb Delbert means to kill you.” That’s just one line of inquiry as Mr. Darwin was so fond of saying. Gibb comes into said establishment not thirty minutes later with a loaded revolver, puts one in my thigh, and one in my shoulder before he gets tackled. That’s conclusive proof.

Action: Gibb done shot me.

Reaction: He went to jail for two months till next Friday.

But what goes up must come down; that’s Newton not Darwin. I hope I’m not moving too fast. This evidence comes together on the quick. Last night I get a call says, “Will you accept charges from Danville Penitentiary?” Course I decline. This morning, I got a Banty Rooster broke-necked under my windshield wiper.

Proof: Blood feathers mean blood feud.

Times was when a righteous man with a crack shot might claim feud as self-defense. Not so today. Men like me need formularies just like the fellas writing the text books. Solving for the unknown in my neighborhood is a high stakes control set. Trajectory of bullets and repositioning the body? Mishandling those details gets you caught. My numbers got to add up, or I might as well start posing for a county sponsored head shot. Leave Jesus be. Houdini’s my savior. I need a disappearing act.

Hypothesis of an Unlocatable Body

Theorem 1: Deer season, I take the clip outta my rifle to give me two extra slugs. At twenty paces, I can end a man in the time of year no one questions a gun shot, or three, in quick succession. But that ain’t the difficult part. Trajectory of bullets, clip out, and a body? Too obvious and me the likely suspect.

Theorem 2: Solve for zero: where no evidence exists there’s no proof to solve for. That’s Algebra, translation, “the solving of broken parts”. Thank you Wikipedia and Arab people everywhere.

Theorem 3: No proof equals no charges. Add together the bank foreclosure of the abandoned hog operation at Nebo and property in probate. This equals a waste dumping pit both full and idle for a month. That formula births a slurry and stench to end all inquisition. A body in that slop seals the deal. By the time the farm sells, the hog pit will be no softer than concrete.

Theorem 4: A body at rest stays at rest: Gibb Delbert. A body in motion stays in motion: Me. Decomposition meets destiny. Thank you, Sir Isaac Newton.

Observable Conclusion: Done, son.

IMG_4848

Amy Sayre Baptista lives and writes in Chicago, Illinois. She is a co-founder of the community arts program, Plates&Poetry. Her most recent publications can be found in The Butter, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, and Chicago Noir.

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T.A. Noonan is the author of several books and chapbooks, most recently The Midway Iterations (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015), Fall (Lucky Bastard Press, 2015), and The Ep[is]odes: a reformulation of Horace(Noctuary Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in Reunion: The Dallas Review, Menacing Hedge, LIT, West Wind Review, Ninth Letter, Phoebe, and others. A weightlifter, artist, teacher, priestess, and all-around woman of action, she is the Vice President and Associate Editor of Sundress Publications.

Summer Flash Showdown: Punching Summer Time Clocks Winners!

Photo courtesy of http://www.cornwallsegway.co.uk/
Photo courtesy of http://www.cornwallsegway.co.uk/

Announcing the two winners from the Punching Summer Time Clocks challenge! These fourth round finalists are the last to join the winners circle of this righteous series we call the Sundress Summer Flash Showdown. The winners who have made it into this powerful, published collective will go on to compete for the majestic grand prize…

OF FIVE SUNDRESS TITLES OF THEIR CHOOSING AND THE SHOWCASING OF THEIR STORIES ON THE BLOG!

Congratulations to Amy Sayre Baptista for her first prize story, “Top Down.”

Let’s see what honored judge Adam Prince drew from Amy’s flash fiction:

It was hard to decide between these two stories (“Top Down” and the runner-up, “Housekeeping.”) Both offered deeply engaging reads. In the end, I went with “Top Down” for its massive whimsy and for the fact that it has a complete narrative arc in such a short space. It’s a very adept piece of writing that reveals information at just the right moment every time and really makes each word count.

The story gets into the psyche of young, hormonal Trevor, doomed to spend the summer managing his father’s Segway track in Branson, Missouri. “Some girls might dig it,” he tells himself, already knowing they won’t. And yet he continues to dream of “long legs slowly passing by, legs of every race, color and creed. Legs he was responsible for watching.” That last sentence is endemic of the writer’s skill with quirky, cutting short sentences. The sentence also gets at Trevor’s touching innocence, all the more striking when it comes smack up against a startlingly cold attitude toward his own mother. Really an intriguing piece of work!

Great job Amy! She earned the privilege of naming her very own FIREFLY FARMS CHICKEN! She describes her choice as “empowering and Portuguese.”

Introducing…Furiosa Fernandes!!!!!!

original (2) Sundress Publications would also like to congratulate Jennifer Schomburg Kanke for being the final runner-up with her powerful story entitled, “Housekeeping.” Great job Jennifer!

All the folks at The Wardrobe as well as Sundress Publications would like to thank all the contributors, judges, and minds that allowed this summer’s coolest flash fiction contest to become a reality. We continue to be humbled by the outpouring of talent evidenced by submissions, cherishing the amazing artistic community of literary souls that keep us inspired.  And don’t forget to check out our final challenge for our special selection of winning Summer Flash Showdown writers, coming your way soon.

Top Down

by Amy Sayre Baptista

When Trevor’s dad bought an event track, Trevor thought: finally. The break I need. Ascending the social ladder of Calvary Christian High School is now possible. But when twenty-four new Segways arrived, his heart sank. Segways are for old people, drunks, and kids. Mega-church students are a tough crowd. On the other hand, the track was on the main drag through Branson, and he was the summer manager. Some girls might dig it. Trevor imagined long legs slowly passing by, legs of every race, color and creed. Legs he was responsible for watching. Hope ended when his father revealed the billboard: Branson Segway: Feel the Excitement!

I’m finished in this town, Trevor thought. Social death. Weapon of choice: shame.

The first Saturday at work, a yellow VW Beetle with a large German Shepherd in the back, pulled into the empty parking lot. Trevor had already mastered talking on his phone and rounding the track on Segway #3, which he was doing as the woman stepped out of her car. Even from a distance, Trevor noticed she was beautiful.

“Customer gotta go,” he said cutting off his mother in mid-sentence. Trevor leaned forward achieving maximum speed before lightly pulling to a stop. Everything on her was long: legs, hair, lashes. He sighed.

“I’m Ashley,” the woman said, “I need some help”.

“At Branson Segway, the customer is always first,” Trevor croaked from a dry mouth.

“I need to rent the track today.”

“Today is open!”

The dog barked from the car.

“Hang on.” She went to the car and returned with the dog.

“How many machines?”

“One,” she said.

The dog nuzzled Trevor’s hand.

“I always wanted a dog.”

His mother groomed dogs, but refused to let him have one. Absolutely not, she said every time he asked, I work in hair all day, I don’t want my house full of it.

“Just one? You want the whole track for an hour for one machine?”

“Yes.”

“That’s like $200 dollars, miss.”

“I’ll give you $100 and you can keep the dog. He never took to me anyway.” She started to cry.

“Ma’am?” Trevor said.

“Look kid, in an hour, my husband, who bought this dog, who bought these boobs, he’s gonna come down that street in a convertible with his new girlfriend, a dog groomer. They think they’re a secret. I want him to see me riding this track in the bare skin I was born with. The joke is on him, now. ” She pulled a bottle of baby oil and a stack of bills from her Louis Vuitton bag. “Help me oil up, keep the track clear, and it’s all yours, ok?”

For a moment, Trevor could not speak.

“The groomer on Ashland?” Trevor asked.

“The same,” Ashley said, “know her?”

“Yes,” Trevor said. Feeling as if the world had finally righted itself.

“Yes to the rental or the groomer?”

“Both,” he said.

Ashley loosened the straps to her sundress, “She’s why he bought that dog in the first place. Cleanest goddamn dog in the county,” she said.

Trevor poured oil in his palm realizing the two things he wanted most in world were about to happen: real live breasts, and a dog. A dog even his mother could not refuse.

IMG_4848 Amy Sayre Baptista lives and writes in Chicago, Illinois. She is a co-founder of the community arts program, Plates&Poetry. Her most recent publications can be found in The Butter, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, and Chicago Noir.

Housekeeping

by Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

Anything can call itself a resort, but that doesn’t mean it is. Gulf Winds was a place with such aspirations. Slap the word “aromatherapy” on the soap and shampoo and even the most acrid chemicals are high class. Refill Jameson bottles with Old Crow and the whole bar’s top shelf. Who took the time to look beyond the labels? The management changed every six months, which Tammy liked. Just as someone was starting to ask questions— about her past, about her scar, about the difference between the name on her tag and the one on her checks— the owner would fire them and get someone else in there who didn’t know he was so ass and that the place was crawling with Ohioans who didn’t realize North Florida wasn’t really Florida.

The humidity was relentless, like her night terrors. Both pooled sweat at the nape of her neck and made her feel like a pit bull had fallen asleep across her chest, each breath an act of survival and will. She had gotten used to them back at home, but she somehow figured they’d disappear out in the world, that time would chip away at them until she slept peacefully through the night. She had been wrong. There was nothing she could do about the terrors, but for the heat she’d hide out in the guest rooms, taking an hour in each. She’d smell their perfumes and touch the soft cottons of their sundresses and cover-ups. Sometimes she’d open a wallet, if there was a wallet sitting around. She never took anything though, Tammy was no thief, although she’d told a guest she was once after being caught in the act.

“Did you just take money?” The woman had been quietly reading on the balcony, Tammy hadn’t noticed her.

“Yes, Ma’am. Sorry, Ma’am.” She took five dollars from the pocket of her uniform, a tip from the college boys in 215, and put it in the woman’s wallet. This was easier than explaining she’d been looking at a picture of the woman and her daughters, all gap-toothed smiles on some sunlit beach. Of all the things Tammy regretted, leaving her children was the one that haunted her the most. You’re always supposed to take the children, aren’t you? Or stay for them? Isn’t that what good women do?

Beth would be going on twenty now and, unless the last decade had changed her, she was a mix of her daddy’s meanness and Tammy’s own instinct for self-preservation. She knew the girl had been looking for her, calling around to all the hotels she used to work at. It wouldn’t be long before she found Gulf Winds. It would be better if Tammy found her first and…what? Explained? Begged forgiveness? Knocked her daddy’s demons right out of her? Nothing seemed possible. Instead Tammy would do what Tammy had always done. She’d pack a bag of the lemon verbena toiletries from her cart, buy a new hair dye (maybe red this time, she hadn’t been red for awhile), and find another run down resort town where the air conditioning was always pumping and nobody asked any questions.

jsk_bwJennifer Schomburg Kanke is a visiting faculty member at Florida State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Fugue, and Stirring. She previously served as the poetry editor for the Southeast Review and was an editor at Quarter After Eight.

SAFTA Hosts Table Reading of Widows of Whitechaple by Amy Sayre Baptista

 

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The Sundress Academy for the Arts will host a table reading of Widows of Whitechaple, an original play by Amy Sayre Baptista, which tells the infamous story of the Jack the Ripper murders from the perspective of his victims.

The reading will be casual, and attendees are invited to stay after for a mixer and meet and greet with the readers. Light refreshments will be provided, but guests are encouraged to bring snacks and drinks to share.

The play features six characters: one is Jack the Ripper himself and the rest the ghosts of five of his victims. Please contact Adam Crandall at adamcrandall91@gmail.com if you are interested in reading for one of the characters.

Character List

PERCIVAL PENNYROYAL: 53, male, “JACK THE RIPPER” aficionado and tour guide, middle class English accent.
POLLY NICHOLS: 43,first ghost, cockney accent.
ANNIE CHAPMAN: 47, second ghost, suffered from consumption in life, cockney accent.
ELIZABETH STRIDE: 45, third ghost, Swedish inflected English.
CATHERINE EDDOWES:46, fourth ghost, cockney accent.
MARY JANE KELLY: 25, fifth ghost, Irish accent.

The event will take place at the Sundress Academy for the Arts’ home at Firefly Farms, located at 195 Tobby Hollow Ln, Knoxville TN 37830. The reading will be held on Saturday, November 15th from 7PM to 10PM.