The Jacket: Polling Is Open

The finalists in The Jacket Writing Competition have been selected.

Boy, howdy this was tough!  I asked a distinguished panel of 3 judges to review the entries for me.  Our criteria was simple: we were looking for an interesting story, told well.  We had consensus on several of the entries, but were widely apart on others.   I debated having a top 10 list, but decided that many was too unwieldy.  In the end I had to resort to taking up strong drink to narrow the field to 6.

Entries are again presented in the order in which I received them.  The Polldaddy poll is below the last entry.  Please vote only once per day until the polls close next Friday, March 30th.

Thank you so much to all who submitted entries!  I hope you had fun – I know that I did.


Name: She’s a Maineiac

Proceed Without Caution

“God,” he sighed, sitting down next to her two barstools over. “Aren’t these things a drag?” He waved to the bartender then reached into his dark gray suit jacket, pulling out a cigarette.

She put the wine glass down long enough to shoot him her patented glare.

“I suppose, ” she said, straightening her back as she loudly cleared her throat.

She turned away to view the Happy Couple, their reflections dancing and swirling in the large dusty mirror that hung above the rows of endless liquor bottles. She closed her eyes. Another headache loomed on the horizon. She fingered the long stem of the wine glass and prayed the potent grapes would work their magic and fast.  She could feel him still watching her.  Finally, the old familiar warmth started to spread from her neck and inch slowly up the back of her head; prickling and soothing enough to make her thoughts become fuzzy.

There is it, she thought, and closed her eyes.

The music and laughter grew louder and she suddenly had the urge to ask this man to dance.

“You know, it’s gonna kill you someday,” she said instead, her voice rising above the din. She slanted her head just enough to take him all in.

He leaned back and smiled.  His green eyes met hers and there was an almost audible sound of a spark igniting. He grinned at her again, and this time she noticed his dimples underneath the five o’clock shadow.

“What, you mean getting married?” he laughed.  “You don’t know how right you are, darling.” He shook his head and reached over to tap the cigarette onto the side of the ashtray.

She smiled in spite of herself. The wine was working a little too well.

“No,” she took another sip of wine. “The smoking. It’s bad for you. It’ll kill you if you’re not careful.”

“Careful?” his eyes lit up. “Now who’d wanna go and be a thing like that?”

She blushed. She hadn’t blushed since 1965 when she first met her ex-husband.

“As a matter of fact,” he pulled out a piece of paper and jotted something down. “Here.”
He handed her the paper, kissed her on the cheek, and walked out.

Her heart skipped as she opened it: Tom Wajciechowski

Maybe I’m done with being careful, she thought as she slipped it back into her jacket.


Name: TotallyTawn

Carol cheerfully unlocked the door to her beloved little cottage in the country.  She had just returned from a pleasant shopping trip to the local village and was eager to review her purchases.  Carol thought of herself as a woman who could spot a good deal a mile away and this trip had done nothing to change that opinion.  While strolling through the shops, Carol had purchased a nice bottle of Burgundy, a darling green plaid blazer, and an antique coffee table – which would be delivered later  today – all at a fraction of their value.
Closing the front door behind her, Carol sashayed into the kitchen – her favorite room in the house – and placed the bottle of wine carefully on the counter.  Then, in one swift motion, she removed  the jacket and carelessly dropped the bag it was in on a chair.  Carol gently laid the jacket on the table, smoothed out the wrinkles, and stood back to admire it.
Her appreciative smile slowly gave way to a frown as she noticed a piece of paper peeking out from one of the front pockets.  Yanking the slip from her blazer, Carol held it to the light and read aloud, “Tom Wojciechowski.”
Carol instantly felt ill.  Panic seized her as she dropped the paper, stumbled backwards into the refrigerator, and slid to the floor in a heap.  Kneeling, she pressed her hands to her head, hoping to dampen the pain drowning her consciousness.
Through the fog of fear, pain and shock, Carol heard a man’s voice, deep and sorrowful, say quietly, “I’m so sorry.  The only way to free yourself of the accursed garment is for someone to say your name aloud in its presence.  There is no other way.  Godspeed.”
A few hours later, a young man from the antique store in town arrived at Carol’s home to deliver the table she had purchased that day.  After knocking several times, he hesitantly opened the door and called out while stepping inside.  No answer.  He did a cursory check of the main floor and, finding nothing but an ugly green jacket in the kitchen, he shrugged and left the coffee table by the front door before returning to work.  Had he examined the jacket more closely, he may have found the small slip of paper now bearing the name, “Carol Nowicki.”


Name: Angie Z.

A key thing one must first tend to before she jumps in front of an oncoming Greyhound bus.  Stuff.  You need to get your stuff in order.  First, toss out the unpleasant items – mustache bleach, 50-year-old plastic bag collection, autographed George Bush photos and the like.  Then, put the rest together in an orderly fashion and label what goes to whom.  This is harder than it seems.  When you are gone, you want your friends to remember you by the items, something that will honor your memory.  So no rushing through this task.

I had no trouble deciding on most of my belongings.  Audrey obviously gets my best kitchen timer.  The woman never made a roast that wasn’t charred to a crisp.  To Mildred I leave my favorite toilet plunger.  Oh, how many times I thought to myself, will this woman ever shut her yap?  Yes, I get it – your hemorrhoids are back, your bunions are aching and the duck tape never rid you of the plantar warts.  Something to stop-up that piehole would do the world good.

And then I pause and smile when I think of Tom.  Oh, Tom.  Handsome, smug, sarcastic Tom.  What do I give to the man who has everything?  I remember the time he confidently strode into the Johnsons’ garden party as if he invented trees.  That night, he made a beeline over to me and ran his fingers along the sleeve of my favorite polyester green blazer, the one he knew I wore to Bingo every Saturday, the one he called my Leprechaun costume.  And I remember the exact tone he used when he said with a wink, “Wow, is this thing new?  Never seen it before.  Classy.”

And, with that, I slipped his name into the pocket and laid it on the bed with the other gifts.


Name: Sandy Sue
The Jacket

Nan shuffled her feet self-consciously as she stared at the huge photograph.  It covered most of the wall of the little gallery—eight feet tall and five feet wide.  Her.  Nude.

The spider veins in her legs looked like a highway roadmap.  And the roll at the giant waist resembled nothing less than an avalanche of fat.

Sweat broke out on Nan’s lip.  She tugged her new Aileen jacket tighter around her bosom—minuscule compared to the dangling moons in front of her.

“What was I thinking?” she moaned to herself.  Her fingers slipped into her jacket pocket, touching the talisman folded there.  “How could I be so gullible?”

She heard footfalls echoing in the lobby and a low murmur of voices.  Nan froze.

“Oh, Tom,” a woman’s low voice registered shock.  “This is the best work you’ve ever done.  She’s luminescent.”

“Magnificent.”  A man’s voice now.  “Who is the model?  She’s glorious.”

Nan closed her eyes.  Her breath stopped.

“A friend.”  She recognized the slight eastern European accent, the rich bass tones.  Heat flushed her whole body.  “A good friend.”

“I know other artists who would die to use her.  Does she have an agent?”

“She is not professional.”  Nan heard the smile in his voice.  “I do not think she would sit for another.”

“Too bad,” the woman said.  “She could name her price.  Do you  have her number?”

“No… no.  Come.  She is even more beautiful in the other studies.  Let me show you.”

The footsteps angled off into the side room, quiet voices critiquing,  Tom’s voice rumbling underneath.  Nan swallowed, checked over her shoulder, then marched out of the room.  Her sensible heels clicked too loudly on the wooden floor.  She searched in her pocket again, felt the ragged edge of the paper she’d torn from his notebook.

“I just want to know how to spell it,” she had said.  “W-o-j-c-i-e…”

She paused at the front door and chanced a look back.  Tom stood in the doorway of the smaller room, watching her.  The light in his eyes was the same.  He lifted his chin, smiling.  She smiled back, then went home to start supper.


Name: Worrywart

“No one ever quits Tom, it’s not an option.”

Tom couldn’t help but notice how Mr. McKinny’s extraordinarily large Adam’s apple bobbed as he spoke. “I’ll discuss with the others, and let you know at the lunch meeting,” he added gravely.

As Tom left the office he nervously fingered the slip of paper in his pocket that Mrs. Wojciechowski insisted he carry in case something happened to him. “Tom Wojciechowski.”

Everyone was at the lunch meeting. There was a tense murmur circling the table. Every now and then someone would look up from a hushed conversation and give Tom a worried glance. Again Tom fingered the slip of paper.

“Tom Wojciechowski, we accept your resignation,” Mr. Mckinny’s Adam’s apple pronounced loudly and slowly.

A collective gasp erupted from the lunch table, followed by envious chatter as the rest of the kids fidgeted in the itchy green jackets.

As Tom handed his jacket to Mr. Mckinny, a seventh grade girl at the far end of the table whined, “But Mr. Mckinny, you said no one ever quits Safety Patrol.”


Name: Shauntelle

7:29 a.m.

She was running late.

26 years and she’d never been late to a Daughters of the King monthly meeting. Today would not be the first!  She did a final mirror check, adjusting her wig and admired the fit of her new green plaid jacket with a narrow yellow stripe the exact shade of her dress.

Snatching a Kleenex from the box on the foyer table, she briskly walked out to her car. Without thinking, she folded the tissue into a tight, neat square and tucked it in her left pocket.

She may have driven slightly faster than legal, but she pulled into the church parking lot at exactly 7:56 a.m. certain that God would understand.  She was on a mission to do His work, after all.

The small Bible study classroom was brimming with DOK members when she walked in.

“Oh MaryAnn,” chirped Ruth, one of the oldest members, “don’t you just look the picture of spring?”

MaryAnn nodded politely, sliding into an empty seat.  Ruth was the church gossip; later she’d probably tell everyone within hearing “Bless her heart, did you see MaryAnn’s bright outfit? So inappropriate for Lent.”

The meeting started promptly at 8 with the opening prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, help us to be of service in the world even as your son Jesus served.”

MaryAnn murmured the words by rote. 26 years ago she’d made a commitment and MaryAnn was a person who kept her commitments. So she came each month to receive her prayer assignment and she prayed for them daily.

She just didn’t believe it helped.

The call for prayer requests came next. Ruth wrote each name on a slip of paper, folded it, and placed it in the prayer box to join the other names the church collected throughout the month. There was a time MaryAnn’s name would have been on a slip, but no more. She’d had her share of prayer.

Her metastatic breast cancer, however, continued spreading.

The meeting ended with everyone pulling a name from the box.  As she exited the room, MaryAnn glanced at the name written in Ruth’s flourishing handwriting:  Tom Wojciechowski.

“What irony,” she thought. “Another cancer victim.”  His frantic wife shared the news in last Sunday’s service—advanced prostate cancer.
Absentmindedly, she slid the paper into her left jacket pocket, joining
the Kleenex.

Poor man, I hope he’s prepared to die.


About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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72 Responses to The Jacket: Polling Is Open

  1. All excellent submissions, but I liked the one that was most unpredictable–just like me!


  2. TotallyTawn says:

    This is so exciting! 😀


  3. TotallyTawn says:

    Reblogged this on totallytawn and commented:
    I’m a finalist! Check out all the entries here and don’t forget to vote for your favorite. I hope it’s me, but I’ll completely understand if it isn’t – the competition is fierce! And please be sure to visit the other writers and share the love. After all, the Beatles were pretty clear that “All You Need is Love.”


  4. Pingback: The Jacket « totallytawn

  5. Elyse says:

    Great entries — and Great Choices Peg!


  6. Thanks so much for choosing me as a finalist! I’m thrilled to be in such great company.


  7. Off the Wall says:

    Peg, wonderful choices, it was hard to decide who to vote for, but in the end all 6 finalists were wonderful, and took such divergent paths to the end. Thanks for having this contest, I enjoyed reading all the entries and the suspense of waiting to see the finalists. You and all your peeps are awesome writers!


    • pegoleg says:

      It was sooooo tough. I don’t want to do this anymore – it’s much easier to go over to the Good Greatsby’s blog and complain when I’m not chosen as a finalist in his caption contest.


      • Off the Wall says:

        Oh you must this again, or delegate it to someone else, lol! I learned so much from this process, and found so many great new bloggers thanks to you!


        • pegoleg says:

          Thanks for participating with such a great entry. I’ll have to get my strength back before I take on any more projects. After all, it is offically the weekend and time to P-A-R-T-A-Y!


  8. These are great selections! I’m bummed I missed the deadline to submit, and I think you should make this an annual thing. So cool! Love to see all the stories in one place!


  9. gojulesgo says:

    Hooray!! GREAT picks – my vote is IN!!


    • pegoleg says:

      I had to have 3 other judges come in and help me because I COULD NOT DECIDE! Thanks to all the smart, funny, talented folk who played – you know who you are 🙂


  10. snhamlett says:

    Reblogged this on Being is a Verb and commented:
    I am so proud and excited to be one of the finalists for The Jacket writing competition. Be sure to go and read all six of the final stories–they’re all excellent! Voting is once per day until next Friday… and I’d love your vote if you think it’s appropriate. 🙂


  11. Sandy Sue says:

    As they say at the Oscars, “all nominees are winners.” Thanks for putting me with such fine company.


    • pegoleg says:

      Yeah, but the nominees also have their limos drop them off at a parking lot a block from the Oscars so they can appear at the event in electric cars and look “green”. So…I’m not sure what my point is here.

      Anyway, you ARE all winners. We like you…we really, really like you!! (sobbing with mascara running down face)


  12. Sandy Sue says:

    Reblogged this on A Mind Divided and commented:
    This was a fun contest, and I’m honored to be one of the finalists. Go check out Peg’s site and vote!


  13. Tar-Buns says:

    The waiting is over and may the best writer win! Of course, I’m NOT one of the finalists (sniff) but that’s OK (sniff, sniff)… I know the judges had to be impartial (sob) and you couldn’t show any favoritism (weep, weep)…really, I’m OK with the rejection…I’m a grown up, after all! Right? (sniffles)

    Guess I should have given you those gift bags I made for the judges when I saw you last weekend.

    Seriously though, I did enjoy the competition and the suspense to know the results. Great job, Peg. 🙂


    • pegoleg says:

      Oh, Tar, I’m so sorry. If ONLY you’d followed through on that bribe!! But seriously, your entry was in the finals and garnered some good comments from the judges – it was SO hard to be impartial on this. I think you’ll be interested in my next post, so stay tuned….

      Have a great weekend!


      • Off the Wall says:

        Actually, I would love to hear what you and the judges thought of my entry. I could use any help you would be willing to give me!


        • Karaboo says:

          I second the motion!! I’d love to hear the comments on my entry as well.

          Even if the comments were less than flattering, I’d love to hear them anyway – that’s how I’ll grow as a writer.


        • pegoleg says:

          Oh, jeez. Sorry ladies, I’m no writing expert, I’m just some chick with a blog. My best advice would be keep doing what you’re doing – write, write and write some more!


  14. Okay, Peg, Happy Friday! The rest is in someone else’s hands. Kick back…great job. Have another one of those liquid centering…er, liquid ending-of-the-week libations. Now which one to vote for…it’s between ? and ?


  15. Angie Z. says:

    This is fantastic! I remember I loved these finalist entries! I can see I’m already getting completely crushed, but that’s okay. I’m just happy to be here.


  16. Angie Z. says:

    Also, I wanted to add, WOW! You thought you might not get any entries and you’d have to make up some. Ha! You really blew the doors off your first contest! It was such a fun idea and people obviously responded to that. Nice job!


  17. I am honored to be in the finals, Peg! I had loads of fun with this contest. You should do it again in the future. Now that you have 3 judges all lined up it would take all the pressure off you. (by the way, was one of your distinguished panel Dave Barry? If so, who is he again?)


    • pegoleg says:

      You’re just TRYING to get to me, right Darla? Give me your address – I’m going to send you one of the MANY Dave Barry books I have so you can get educamated.


      • Yesss! Score!

        Please send any dog-eared/coffee-stained copies of his books to:

        The Maineiac
        123 Dave Barry Lane
        South Foshizzleville, Maine

        (ok…I really do know who he is…I was just teasin’ ya a bit, hehehe)


  18. Reblogged this on She's a Maineiac and commented:
    Visit Peg-o-leg’s blog and read some fantastic short fiction entries in her current The Jacket contest. I am thrilled to be one of the finalists. It was tons o’ fun and helped get me out of that writer’s funk and start writing fiction again. Happy weekend!


  19. dearrosie says:

    What a great idea Pegoleg:-) All the stories are well written and interesting, so I can imagine how hard it must’ve been to whittle it down to six finalists.


  20. Laura says:

    These are all really great — it’s going to be hard to choose one to vote for.


  21. Peg, what a fantastic idea you had to do this. The entries are amazing.


  22. Tar-Buns says:

    When I voted today, I got the results and a statement at the top which said “Thank you, we have already counted your vote.”
    Does that mean that you can only vote once in the competition or that the stats I’m looking at include the vote I just cast???
    Just checking since I thought you could vote one time per day.


    • Angie Z. says:

      This has happened to me in the past on other online votes — but only when I use my iPad. On my laptop I can vote in contests every day. I wonder if it has something to do with your computer’s retained memory? I’m not techy at all but maybe if you delete your stored internet files?


      • Sandy Sue says:

        I’m having this same trouble. And since I’m a neanderthal, what does “delete your stored internet files” mean?


        • pegoleg says:

          No, it’s not you-all, it’s me. I set this up wrong. It turns out the setting I used only allowed one vote, not the one-per-day I wanted. I went back in this morning and checked a different box and it seems to work, but I had to delete cookies on Internet Explorer in order to vote again. I’m so sorry! I’m definitely going to fire my IT guy over this.

          This is a pain in the butt.

          You go up in the top bar on Explorer under “Tools”, and go down to “Internet Options”. Click on that and the first page should be “general”. The 2nd choice down is “Browsing History”. Hit the “delete” button that is RIGHT under that choice (not at the bottom) and it brings up another screen of choices. Select “temporary internet files” and “Cookies”. I also checked “Preserve Favorites Website Data” so I didn’t lose saved data. Then hit the “delete” at the bottom.

          I don’t know if this loses the passwords you have saved on various sites, so you may want to make sure you have them all written down first. Again, sorry for the hassle.


  23. Angie Z. says:

    Reblogged this on Childhood Relived and commented:
    Let me start by saying that I’m not a fiction writer nor do I want to be one. But I’m darn honored to be a finalist in Peg-o-Leg’s first writing contest. The competition was fierce, I tell ya. Fierce! Take a gander at the six finalists and vote for whomever. I got a late start at voting and can see I’m already getting crushed. (Said the insecure amateur fiction writer.) No matter. May the best polyester plaid jacket win.


  24. Wow, Peg! What a monumental task you took on — to read even more entries than the fantastic ones you’ve chosen? I can imagine it was so hard to narrow it down, but I have to say, you did it perfectly. Great selections, each with their own unique voices and themes — so many stories spun from one woman’s sense that a green jacket rated a multi-blog conversation. Well done!


  25. Pingback: The Jacket: A Sordid Past Revealed | Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

  26. I’m going to pretend like I didn’t even see this post, Peg… because there’s just no way I could choose. *covering ears and closing eyes* LALALALALA I CAN’T SEE YOU LALALALALA!


  27. Dana says:

    Wow– I’m sure it was no easy task to narrow it down to these six. All of them are great! 🙂


  28. Pingback: Save Me! I’m Becoming An Old Lady | Peg-o-Leg's Ramblings

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  32. zen city says:

    so much talent! congrats to all – well done.


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