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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Life (06/15/06)

TITLE: Dead Flies and Soggy Napkins
By dub W


The fan blades barely turned, creating little more than a turnstile for a hundred flies awaiting their ticket to the grease and dust covered motor. Jerald looked at the sweating rocks glass before him. A curious puddle was forming around its base. The clear brown liquid within the glass, by contrast, remained as still as summer swamp.

“Drink up or leave.” The cigarette rash voice of Wanda, the bartender, broke the silence. She picked up a fly swatter and smashed a lazy fly, then after scooping the carcass onto the floor, returned the swatter to the bar.

Jerald raised his bloodshot eyes toward the woman. “Ya can’t make me drink, it’s illegal, I learned that in AA.”

“Well, ya ain’t gonna stay on that barstool all day neither.” Wanda wiped the perspiration from her lip. Her stained yellow fingers betrayed too many years of smoking.

“What’s it to ya? Not like people are knocking down the door to get in this place.” Jerald watched a fly crawl across the rim of the glass. The fly seemed to look up at Jerald before flying on to join the brethren celebrating the fan.

“It’s early now, but come sun down, all the bums will come in with their stolen dollar and beg a shot.”

“You give’m a shot? For a buck?” That’s not bad. Jerald stop that.

“Rot gut, not like that stuff ya got before ya.” Wanda raised the swatter again but the fly identified her approach and escaped to the ceiling.

Jerald looked at the drink in front of him. He hadn’t touched it, but minutes before he paid five dollars for the liquor and ice.

“Put another chunk of ice in it.”

“What and give you a towel to soak up the overflow, no dice. It had ice, it melted. Drink it or move on. You want something else?” Wanda wiped her hands on the hips of her tight blue jeans.

“Nope, nothing you can offer.” Promises, so many promises.

Wanda reached behind the counter and brought out a can of bug spray; sprayed at the ceiling, then waved her hand at the falling mist. “I’m let’n you sit there cause there ain’t nobody else in here, and you paid for that drink.” She lit a cigarette and at the same time swatted at a fly. “But, as soon as that evening crowd comes in, you either gotta start drink’n or move on. This here’s a business.”


Wanda picked up a television remote and pushed a button. “My soap opera’s on, you care?”


Jerald didn’t listen to the sound, and he barely noticed the flickering screen. Wanda had leaned her back against the bar in order to see the television, thus faming Jerald’s drink in a sea of stretched white cloth. Jerald thought about his life, framed like the liquor, consumed by the alcohol. Why, Lord, why?

A stream from the sweating glass drifted toward Jerald. He pushed a cocktail napkin into its path to stop the flow. The napkin quickly turned from white to gray. Interesting, high life, became dull life.

Another person entered the bar and broke the monotony. Wanda sprang into action and nearly tripped trying to extinguish her cigarette and click the television to a news channel. She looked over a Jerald and gave him a ‘drink up’ sign.

Jerald pushed the drink to the back of the counter; two flies were nudged out of the way and seemed offended at the interruption. Then Jerald stood and walked toward the door.

“Leave’n?” Wanda called from the bar. She was armed with the fly swatter.

Jerald held up two fingers in a victory sign, and walked out onto the street. My life. One day at a time. Thank you Jesus. .

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This article has been read 1140 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 06/22/06
I love this! You did such a marvelous job of giving us the atmosphere of this place, and of capturing his various emotions. Nice kicker, no preachifying.
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/22/06
Well-crafted story! Great job!
Donna Howard06/23/06
Although a sad story, you did a great job of bringing it to life. I could feel the man's dispair, and almost felt like I was right there.
terri tiffany06/24/06
Very nice characterization! I could see it all and feel the emotions. Nice writing!
Birdie Courtright06/24/06
Great story! I like happy endings. Very descriptive, I felt like I was in that bar watching and listening.
Edy T Johnson 06/25/06
I love these poor struggling souls---you described them to a T, as I'm sure I've met them somewhere along the trail. I really like your style, too. No doubt, your story carries your message to the heart of your reader.
Pat Guy 06/26/06
“It’s early now, but come sun down, all the bums will come in with their stolen dollar and beg a shot.” This is a sad image.

Great detail in atmosphere and emotion that put us in the seat next to him! (I was grossed)

Thank you for the hope of the true possibility through Christ of the recovery and management of this addiction.

I've never been to a place like this - you made it real through your words. Good stuff Dub!
Sherry Wendling06/26/06
No waste of words here! Every detail of action, dialogue and description is fitted together to create a powerful integrity of thought & message. Masterful!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/26/06
This was great. I felt like I was right there with them. I guess this would be a bad time to say I felt like a fly on the wall. lol. Good job.
This has at least 40 written all over it.I loved it.
david grant06/26/06
I was rooting for flys until the end. Good story. A DAVEY for resisting tempatation.
david grant06/26/06
Oh, I forgot,and for best use of flys in a melodrama.
Marilyn Schnepp 06/26/06
Reads like a scene from the movie -"In the Heat of the Night"...somewhere out in the sticks. A few typos and left out words that some editing could fix...but overall a good entry for the Topic of LIFE.
Jen Davis06/27/06
Interesting title for starters and a very satisfying ending. As I read I wondered how this story was going to be on topic, and then I found you were right on. I'm impressed. Very well written.
Trina Courtenay06/27/06
I'm with Sharon but I would put you at least in 39th place. Another challenge and another great take on the topic.

See you next quarter,
George Parler 06/28/06
It was like watching a scene from a great movie. The atmosphere of your story surrounded me. Good job.
Sharlyn Guthrie07/03/06
I didn't get a chance to read the entries before they were judged this week, but after reading your story I had to comment. Great job! Your characters really came to life. I really admire your ability to draw one right into the scene.