Saturday, December 11, 2021

Fun with Fleeting Fiction

I’m not a huge fan of short stories, instead preferring longer, more immersive tales. However, I’ll acknowledge that many briefer narratives can be highly effective. Since 2017, the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America has been making that fact clear with its annual Six-Word Mystery Contest, “inspired by the legends of [Ernest] Hemingway’s heartbreaking story: ‘For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn,’” as the organization’s Web site explains.

Jean Garrison, a Florida resident, has been announced as the winner of the RMMWA’s 2021 competition, triumphing over 25 other finalists with her brief yarn of retribution, “He gaslighted her. She candlesticked him.” Garrison’s yarn plays nicely on a term that’s being employed more and more in our politically divided era: “gaslighting,” defined as “making someone question their own reality.”

There were five submission categories in this year’s Six-Word Mystery Contest. The Denver, Colorado-based RMMWA released the complete list of winners and finalists yesterday, along with the names of entrants, shown in parentheses below.

Category Winner — Chimney sweep murdered. Shot through hearth. (Z.J. Czupor)
A pie so good, it killed. (Cynthia Kuhn)
Baker battered over muffin top comment. (Lori Lacefield)
She died to hide her roots. (Jean Garrison)
Wanted: botanicals expert (nightshades). Confidentiality required. (Robert Miller)

Category Winner — Detective follows hunch back to Notre-Dame. (Jennie MacDonald)
A badge makes vengeance murders easier. (Pat Remick)
Disappearance of dame derails detective’s denouement.
(William Frank)
Embezzling mob accountant's days were numbered. (Jean Garrison)
Lifeless eyes glisten in the streetlamp. (Darynda Jones)

Police Procedural:
Category Winner — Librarian booked for murder, justice overdue. (Angela Henry)
Gregor’s dead. Father suspected of insecticide. (Jeffrey Lockwood)
“I’m no flight risk!” insisted emu. (Jean Garrison)
Success? The murder made the news. (Dru Ann Love)
White collar thief nabbed for laundering. (Brooke Terpening)

Overall Winner — He gaslighted her. She candlesticked him.
(Jean Garrison)
Exhibitionist murdered. Rounded up usual voyeurs. (Ryan Garms)
Florist arranged knotted noose for Bridezilla. (Kristin Horton)
Promised his heart. Kept his promise. (Julie Kerr Daly)
Silk stockings, a new neck accessory. (Barb Bathrick)

Category Winner — 3 people, 2 parachutes, 1 dilemma.
(Sage Naumann)
In every mirror, I'm someone else. (Kristin Horton)
Serial killer periodically opens BBQ stand. (Mary Stojak)
The wildfire raged. Grinning, he spit. (Mike Chiropolos)
They almost escaped. Then he sneezed. (Lissa Marie Redmond)

I must admit, it took me a moment to puzzle out several of these. Others caused me to chuckle immediately.

Previous Six-Word Mystery Contest winners are here.

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