May 2019 Competition Results: Stevyn Colgan – Adjudicator

The May competition was judged by author, artist and speaker, Stevyn Colgan.  The brief was to write a scene for a farcical murder mystery in 300 words.

And the winners were:

First Place:  By Any Other Name by David Lea    

Second Place: Death by Yoga by Mark Eyles

Third Place: Doll Parts by Alex Carter     

Highly Commended: Aunt Gertrude by Maggie Farran  

Highly Commended: Who Fed the Pigs? by Lynn Clement      

May Comp

Highly commended, Maggie Farran; third place, Alex Carter;  winner, David Lea; and second place, Mark Eyles.

  Photo by Alex Carter

First Place: By Any Other Name by David Lea

‘Grabs you in the first paragraph and the character of the narrator is immediately created by their speech patterns.  Intrigued by the whole primogeniture business and how it relates to trans people too – not thought about that before.  It opens up some fascinating discussion to come.  I wanted more.’

As photographer for the Saxonford Chronicle or ‘Chronic’, I am often called to social events that induce states of such ineffable boredom as to qualify as near-death experiences and they require considerable self-discipline and copious amounts of alcohol if I am to maintain anything resembling an equilibrium. However, the accession of Ronnie Hardley-Fulsome, scion of the Fulsome family and heir to the Hardley millions, was unusual in that the protagonist experienced  the real thing – literal, terminal and absolute death. And what’s more, it occurred at the precise moment when I pressed the button of my Nikon D500 SLR digital camera and captured the whole scene for posterity.

The entire Hardley-Fulsome family was on the podium in the rose garden and many had travelled the globe to be present at the occasion. But they weren’t all there to wish Ronnie well: the rules of primogeniture require that the estate pass into the hands of the eldest male and Ronnie’s right to inherit had been hotly contested ever since she transitioned from Ronald to Veronica. This and the death of Ronnie’s father, Wolfgang, had left his/her mother’s mind untethered, and although Lady Laetitia Hardley-Fulsome did have periods of comparative lucidity this was not one of them: when someone handed her a blood-red rose, she presented it to Ronnie with a flourish, curtsied to the crowd and fell off the rostrum.

Ronnie raised the bloom rather theatrically to her/his nose and inhaled deeply. Incidentally, this was a nose that had been broken many years before in a boxing ring at Radclyffe public school and could be best described as ‘wonky’.  Her heavy chin quivered for a moment and then she collapsed, her knee length pencil skirt rising up her substantial thighs and her fascinator waving gently above her tumbling curls.

 

Second Place: Death by Yoga by Mark Eyles  

Nice to see a page or two of screenplay in the competition.  I liked the sudden comic shift from serene to sweary when Esmeralda is brought down to Earth by the sight of the body and how she then climbs back into her normal speech patterns.  Good characterisation.’ 

INT. YOGA STUDIO – DAY

Morning sunlight streams into a wood panelled room in a stately home. Yoga mats laid out. At one end an elderly moustachioed gentleman, BARTHOLOMEW, in too short shorts and tie dyed T-shirt is seated in Buddha posture on a yoga mat. A yoga strap tight round his neck and attached to a wall lamp keeps him upright. He is dead.

ESMERALDA, mid 40s, and GUY, mid 20s, enter.

ESMERALDA

…some chakra alignment after lunch.

GUY

Esmie.

ESMERALDA

Then a fluid flow to channel our inner goddess. You have been massaging your inner goddess Guy?

GUY

Esmie. Look…

ESMERALDA

You might find it easier with soft silver yoga balls? I showed you in yesterday’s ‘Rolling my way to happiness’ workshop.

GUY

Esmie! Is Bart all right?

Esmeralda finally spots the body.

ESMERALDA

Fuck me sideways!

GUY

What?

ESMERALDA

Fuck. Shit. Fuck. Stupid, stupid cock. Fuck.

GUY

He’s not OK is he? Is he? Should we do mouth to mouth?

ESMERALDA

Yeah. If you think that will help. He sure as fuck looks like he’s dead. What kind of pervy shit was he up to?

GUY

Maybe he was just being mindful?

ESMERALDA

Mindful my arse. Help me with these mats. Untie that belt. The others will be here in five minutes. We have to cover him up.

GUY

What?

ESMERALDA

Guy, we have to think about the others. You wouldn’t want them to see this would you? Imagine how it would affect their yin yang balance. We’ll just cover up poor Bartholomew and move the body later after morning class. It’s what he would have wanted. He would not have wanted to interfere with my ‘Exploring my inner love’ retreat.

GUY

But he’s dead!

ESMERALDA

Don’t say dead. Bartholomew’s spirit has just taken the next step on its cosmic journey. Maybe this was his way of exploring his inner love.

 

Third Place: Doll Parts by Alex Carter

Now, here’s a great set-up; murder-mystery in Toyland.  Reminiscent of Jasper Fford’s Nursery Crime books, but very different and what a great cast of characters are available!  Liked the ‘arms dealer’ gag that sets the tone from the off.  Good title, too.’

Teddy rapped a soft paw on the red wooden box.

“Come on out, Jack. I know you’re in there.”

He turned the crank and the lid sprang open. Jack’s long torso slunk up out of it. “Whaddaya want? I ain’t done nothin’.”

“The name’s Teddy Boyes, P.I. – I’m here about the murder of Joseph Mann.”

“Ol’ Joe Mann?” Jack shook his head slowly, jingling the bells on his hat. “The doll?”

“He preferred the term ‘action figure’.”

“Whatever.” Jack waved his springy hand, and sunk down into his box. “Nothin’ to do with me.”

Teddy stuck his paw in the box before it could shut, and lifted. “Not so fast. I know what folks call you. Jack the Knife.”

“Yeah, so?” Jack peered out of the dark box. “No knives on me.”

“Poor Joe was killed with a foam dart. Popped his head clean off.”

“What a way to go. If I were you, I’d ask his wife.”

“Sandy? Been there, done that.” Teddy straightened his tie, feeling flustered. “I’d rather follow leads, like the dart. And you, pal, you’re Toyland’s most notorious arms dealer.”

“Oh, no no no.” Jack sprung up again. “Ya got this all wrong. I deal arms, not arms.”

“Eh?”

“Doll arms – doll legs, too,” Jack explained. “Ya know, spare parts, in case dolls—sorry, action figures—lose their own.”

“So… you don’t sell foam dart guns? Or plastic retractable knives?”

“Nah, Mistah Boyes. Unless, of course, you want to replace yer furry fists with a coupla scissor-hands.”

“Then where’d the foam darts come from?” Teddy muttered to himself.

“Ya checked in with the Toyland Locos recently?” asked Jack.

“The train set? They’re our public transport.”

“Public transport with faces. Toy train gangsters, the lot of ‘em. I’d keep an eye on their boss. He hates articulated dolls.”

“Why’s that?”

“Oh man, ya don’t know the Loco godfather? Rollo Polly. No arms, no legs, just one big sphere. He’s yer killer fer sure.”

 

Highly Commended: Aunt Gertrude by Maggie Farran

Straight into the plot, no messing about.  Nice that someone who looks like a chocolate is supposed to die by eating chocolates.  Some nice comic touches.’

I had a hasty look at the congregation to see if Aunt Gertrude had arrived. I saw her straight away in the second pew from the front. She was wearing a purple hat and matching velvet coat. She looked like a quality street chocolate. You know the one with the toffee and nut in the middle.  She was singing loudly from her hymnal. I buttoned up my coat and tottered on my high heels up to the second pew and stood next to her. She gave a slight frown and handed me a hymn book. I found my place and tried to outdo my Aunt’s singing. Then we all sat down. Aunt Gertrude patted me on the shoulder and whispered

“Glad you could come, Clara, lovely singing dear.” I forced my lips into something resembling a smile and lied blatantly, “Great to be here, Aunty. I’m so looking forward to the weekend.” Well if I’m honest I was half looking forward to it. This was the weekend that I had planned to murder her. I’d been planning it for months. I’d brought her a present of a beautiful box of chocolates, which just happened to have lightly poisoned soft centres. Old Gertie could never resist a chocolate and could demolish a box in an evening.

I’m her only relative and she adores me. She’s left me her smart London flat and a few thousands in the bank too. I unpack after church and join Gertie in the sitting room for a glass of wine. I’m quite hoarse after all that hearty singing. I give her the box of chocolates in their shiny black box tied with a purple velvet ribbon.

‘Thanks, Clare, that’s so kind, bit I’m not allowed chocolates any more. I’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes.’

 

Highly Commended: Who Fed the Pigs? by 

Lynn Clement  

‘Oh, the joy in those last few lines!  Two gravediggers and a hitman and the hitman has killed the wrong person.  That’s a great set-up for a comic story.’

‘Ok Dave. Job well done,’ said Bert Knobbler to his grave digging partner.

‘I’m not sure he’ll fit in, Bert.’

‘Yeah, he’s not so tall, is he?’

‘No, Bert but he’s plenty wide.’

‘We’ll just squeeze him in then, Dave.’

Dave and Bert were just lighting celebratory cigarettes when a very rotund man turned up.

‘Hello Hodges. We were just talking about you,’ said Dave. Behind Hodges’ back Bert was using his arms to size him up. He blew out his cheeks when he realised that Hodges was indeed a wide man.

‘What you doing back there Bert Knobbler? ‘Hodges said over his shoulder. Bert picked up his spade from its repose by the graveside.

‘Just firming the edges round this grave. We don’t want you falling in Hodges. – Well not yet,’ he added, sotto voce.

‘Right, you two I’ve come for my pay off. I’ve done the deed, so stump up the dosh.’ Hodges held out his chubby hand towards Dave.

‘How do I know you’ve done it?’ asked Dave sceptically. ‘For all I know my wife might be walking around Primarni as we speak and I can’t afford to have her spend any more money that I haven’t got.’

‘It’s ok,’ reassured Hodges. ‘She’s gone. We had a trip to the pig farm, where unfortunately she had a little accident and the pigs had a feast.’

‘Blimey Hodges,’ said Bert. ‘That’s pretty gruesome. I’m glad I love my wife.’

Hodges turned to face Bert, who hid the spade behind his back. ‘Yeah, she’s lovely your wife, Bert,’ he leered. ‘All that lovely red hair. Is it natural?’

Bert became angry and lifted the spade.

‘Wooah Bert,’ said Dave holding up his hand.

‘But I thought …’ said Bert.

‘Yeah – but your wife hasn’t got red hair, Bert – my Delores has.’

‘Ah, true,’ he said softening. ‘My Jeannie’s a platinum blonde.’

‘Yours is the platinum blonde!’ gulped Hodges backing away from the two men. ‘Then who…’

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