As some of you know, I’ve been toying with the idea of entering a writing contest for some time. Never done one before…well, except maybe in elementary school when we had to write about our summer vacation and the winner got a gold star. I didn’t win that gold star. It still stings, I’m not gonna lie.
Anyway, a fellow bloginator recently posted a contest on his page that intrigued me. There were several reasons for my interest in this contest. First was the title: The Poor Bastard 500 word writing contest. If that doesn’t catch you eye right off the bat, you’re probably not a very interesting person and I’m sorry. After reading the details of the contest, I was struck by two very specific and creative rules:
Rule #1) The entry must be EXACTLY 500 words. If it’s 499 or 501, it is immediately disqualified.
Rule #2) The entry must begin with the sentence, “The poor bastard never saw it coming.”
As if these bylaws weren’t enough to peak my interest, the fact that this fellow blogger has a laughably small reader base gives me decent odds of taking home the crown, and the Amazon Kindle given to the winner. (Just kidding _____, you know you have at least 4 or 5 more readers than me!)
Now you may be wondering why I have not mentioned the name or website of this writer as I have made it clear that I am a supporter of spreading the blog love. Well, may I be frank? Thanks. After giving it some thought, I said to myself, “Frank, you are not as good a writer as you think you are.”
“Well that was kind of rude,” I said to myself. “I mean, give me a…”
I continued. “The truth is, there’s a good chance the majority of people reading this are better writers than you. What do you think is going to happen when they all flock to his/her site and enter the contest for themselves?”
So after debating myself on this topic for several minutes, I reluctantly agreed with myself that my odds of winning this contest would be reduced from the already “slim to none” category, down to the “not a chance” category. Don’t worry, I’ve already run this by the contest’s host and he/she understands my issues. Well, this issue anyway…I have plenty of other issues that remain unresolved.
With multiple ideas in mind, I spent the past couple of weeks developing two stories. After many long, painstaking minutes of writing, I completed them and sent them to several family members to help me decide which to submit. Over this past weekend, the decision was made. As promised, I am now unveiling the 500 words that didn’t make the cut. Below is the crap that is slightly crappier than the crap I submitted. Enjoy!
“The poor bastard never saw it coming.” Alex could barely get those last words out before the entire theatre erupted with applause. The curtains closed in front of him, allowing for a brief moment of elusive relief before they opened again to reveal a standing ovation. He stepped forward, bowed to the audience, and couldn’t help but marvel at this moment he had dreamed of for so long.
Three days ago, as preparations for the show were nearing an end; Alex’s availability for opening night was still in question. A terrible bout of food poisoning had ravaged his body for days, leaving him weak and unable to practice his lines without becoming dangerously light headed. He lay alone in his bed, barely able to string two thoughts together, but determined to make it onto that stage. “I’ve waited too long for this,” he thought to himself as he staggered out of bed. “I’m not giving up now.”
Four days prior, he and several other members of the cast, enjoyed a celebratory meal as a way of congratulating each other on how well the show was shaping up. They confiscated a section in the back of the diner, just blocks from the theatre, and ordered enough food and booze to last them for days. Stories of their previous successes and failures filled the dimly lit room and Alex couldn’t help but reminisce about his days at Juilliard, spent chasing a dream he had been told to forget. The past quickly filled his mind, distracting him from his undercooked meal.
Five years ago, Alex entered a building that would change his life. It was the Juilliard School, perhaps the most famous and respected conservatory for the arts in the country. It took several years and numerous attempts before he was formally admitted to the school. Disagreements between his parents about the direction Alex’ life was taking turned to arguments and eventually led to their divorce. While he felt responsible for their separation, he never let self pity overtake him, instead devoting himself to proving his mother was right for supporting his dream. Throughout his years at Juilliard, Alex endured criticism and disappointment, the likes of which he had never felt. When the struggles started to get to him and leaving seemed like the only option, he’d sit alone in his room remembering back to the day he first discovered his dream.
Six years prior to stepping foot inside the Juilliard School, Alex stepped into the lobby of the Winter Garden Theatre with his mother to see a show. He had reluctantly agreed to accompany her since his father had refused, but from the moment the curtains went up, he was mesmerized. The lights and sounds drew him in but it was the acting, the incredibly brilliant acting, which touched something deep inside of him. He didn’t know it as the curtains closed and the audience exploded in unified applause, but his life had just begun. The poor bastard never saw it coming.