In the past, we've had winners (first, second or third place) who'd been winners before. This year, not only does Jake Feala join the names Greg Gerding, Nicole Vollrath and Conor Lastowka by writing a top-three story two years running; Feala also becomes the first writer to produce two winners in one year—first and third places!
At this moment, Jake Feala is San Diego's undisputed Fonzi of Fiction.
Here are his stories and two-dozen others for your viewing pleasure:
“You shot him?” The henchman gaped at the dying superhero bleeding out onto his green tights.
“Whadja expect? He's my nemesis.” The Beekeeper brushed a stray bee off of his netted mask with the tip of his gun.
“I know, but... I mean it was villainous, for sure, but I expected—.”
“What? That I would fill his lungs with bees? Put him in a bee chamber? Pierce his heart with a giant stinger?”
The henchman's eyes wandered to the beekeeping equipment filling the villain's underground lair. “Something like that.”
“I just like bees, OK? Can't a guy have a hobby?”
In two days I'll be 101, the second oldest resident here. Jack's the oldest, 105, but he's comatose. I've still got my wits, my vision, my hearing. Lally, she's the new lady, moved in yesterday, said she's giving me an extra special birthday present and by God if she didn't lift her skirt a couple of inches and then she winked. I froze, speechless. She's probably off her nut but who knows? I asked God what to do and he said, Bert, if she's offering, you go on and take it. And what God tells me to do, I do. Amen.
For sale: baby shoes,
“I'm calling about the shoes. You still have them?”
“Yeah, still got 'em. They're size 12, is that OK?”
“I thought they were for babies.”
“No, they're Baby brand. By designer Chad Baby. Normally go for one-fifty but I'm selling for ninety.”
“You should have capitalized ‘Baby' in the ad.”
“What is this, a grammar lesson? You want 'em or not?”
“Um. They're unused?”
“Yeah, the ad said—”
“NeverUsed. It's the style of leather. High grade. Looks like new, even though I wore 'em a month.”
“You really should be more descriptive with your ads.”
“Hey, screw you, pal.”
She had only been my roommate for three days when I noticed something was amiss. She left her TV on all day. She never refilled the Brita. Instead of a toothbrush, she kept an Egyptian Plover bird that would perch inside her gaping mouth and eat the meat that got stuck between her teeth. When my buddy pointed out that she was, in fact, a crocodile, I was skeptical, so I killed her and made a pair of boots from her skin. But the joke's on me: The first is coming up and the Plover bird says he can't make rent.
Woman on a Bus
I sit halfway back by the window. Drunks, junkies, and cons in the back. Needy talkatives up front by the driver. A woman sunburned brick-red pushes into me with her bags and asks,
Where ya headed, friend?
Albuquerque, and you?
I'm going all the way.
All the way where?
All the way.
The stream of headlights headed west light her up and I know to let it go and settle for the long haul through the desert.
The lights thin out, then it's dark in here and dark out there.
Whatever it was I wanted to forget, I've forgotten.
“It's a shame about the closed casket,” Gert said to Father Bernard, placing her Oreo and Jell-O salad on the buffet with the other vegetable dishes. They watched Grandma straighten the photo of Gramps standing tall beside his shiny new wheat thresher. Gert found it odd, displaying that picture, and turned to say so, but Father Bernard had followed Grandma to the kitchen. The paper lay on the breakfast table, “Gruesome Death Ruled Accidental” in bold across the top. “You OK?” he asked, startling Grandma as she removed her apron. He thought he glimpsed a smile before she turned around.
I Get My News from the Wind and Rain
He drank Pink Gin. He'd taught the bartender how to do it. He was wearing a Stetson and had a moustache like Mr. Potato Head. As he drank he became louder.
“Don't put the news on,” he told the bartender. “I don't need to see that idiocy. They trade in nothing but lies. Can't even listen to NPR anymore, every five minutes some soft voiced hypnotist comes on and tries to get you to give them your car.
It started to rain outside. “There,” he said. “That's all you need to know.”
Andre and Valentino sat on a beach. Andre stared at a female. Valentino stared at a notebook.
“Hey,” Valentino said without looking up, “I've got the perfect name for our band... Bourgeois Rendezvous.”
Andre grunted, “Too pretentious.”
“Okay...” Valentino crossed it out, “How about Titanic Survivors?” “Too formulaic.” Words were crossed out, “iBand?” “Too corporate.” Cross. “Monsters in Your Closet.”
“Too silly.” “Flux Capacitors?” “Too '80s” “The Palm Pilots?” “Too '90s” “Rainy Day Cigarettes?” “Too emo.” “Death by Stereo.” “Already taken.” “The Oxnards.” “Dumb.” “No problem.” Valentino tore out the page. “I'll keep at it.”
Andre stared at a female.
Mina felt the roll and shook her head. She'd found the thing that would end her evening: single-ply toilet paper. She walked back to the kitchen where Felix was holding a glass of red.
“Single-ply? You're a single-ply guy?” “Single what?” “I just think two-ply toilet paper is worth the money, Felix.”
“You know, to be honest, I rarely use toilet paper.” Mina leaned forward, picturing the worst.
“Excuse me?” “I use wet naps. They're cleaner.” Mina was speechless. “Wet naps?” Felix set the glass on the counter. “Wait, so you use toilet paper?”
Chi was a terrible foreman. The pronunciation of his name conjured images of an overweight bald guy drinking chai tea and doing tai chi.
At work, he was a horrible micromanager. He examined everything.
Craig, his assistant, insisted on repeating everything he said. One day, I merely pointed that out.
Chi: Caulk's hard. Craig: Caulk's hard. Me: That's what Chi said. And that is why I was terminated and am filing for unemployment.
Rites of Passage
“Chlamydia isn't the Clap,” Hannah says on the drive to the clinic.
“Just listen to it. Cla-mih-dee-ah. It sounds like the name of a flower.”
“Don't you take this away from me!” I protest.
“Gonorrhea is the Clap. You don't have the Clap—18th-century sailors got the Clap.”
“I've been waiting a long time for this,” I snarl. “Don't shit on me now! Henry Miller got the Clap. Charles Bukowski got the Clap.
And by Christ, I've got the Clap!” Julie at Planned Parenthood was sweet. She agreed we could call it the Snap, just for kicks.
I told the unicorn to shut the hell up. It kept smirking at me like one of those cocky babies who pisses all over their mommy while she is trying to change the goddamn diaper. Look at that unicorn with its horn full of sparkles. That unicorn with its shiny, white coat. That fucking unicorn.
“Fuck you,” I said. “I wish rainbows and sunshine to forever be in your life.”
“Fuck you.” That's when the unicorn gave me a cup of magic beans. Naturally, I ate them. The unicorn transformed into Dr. Fred.
“Feel better?” Dr. Fred asked. “Fuck you.”
She sat in Petco Park, on Toyota Terrace, above first base. The view was beautiful. Wispy little clouds turned pink in the dying sun. The old brick warehouses looked unreal, like a Hopper painting.
Life had gotten very different since she'd seen the Padres play here a year ago. Since then the epidemic had spread among the homeless, and the city had emptied out. Mostly.
A groan echoed through the deserted stadium. She spotted a staggering figure crossing the playing field. Shit. Couldn't she just enjoy a sunset? Sighing, she raised her rifle, carefully centering the zombie's head in the crosshairs.
Anal sex and marriage don't mix, my mother told me as she slipped into one of her many incomprehensible drunken rants, which used to frighten me but now made me tired.
Your mother's a liar, but she is still your mother, she yells from the living room. I pop my head out of the kitchenette to see she isn't opening up the window shades and taking her shirt off again. Mom is proud of her big rack. I pick up the plate of ham sandwiches, little lines of white mayonnaise squeezing out between the bread like paste. Here's your lunch, Mom.
If I was a superhero, my power would be being good at guessing approximately what time it is right now. I'm so good, it's scary. Like, I barely need an alarm clock but I use one anyway, a hidden little one on my cell phone, so as to appear normal and a part of the citizenry. Then if a girl sleeps over and she's like, I have to get up for work tomorrow—can you set an alarm? And you're like, Nah baby, it's cool, I got this. It's basically my superpower but don't tell anybody.
It just sounds weird.
Frank Face visited Friendly Daisies Senior Mobile Park the day after his fifty-fifth birthday. From beyond the fake-brick facade and bone-white flagpole he sniffed something like a skunk, and wondered aloud, “Might this be my second-to-last resting place?” Once inside, he spotted silver cougars prowling green pebble lawns and a few more by the pool. “Was it possible,” he dared, “that all this faux rock and tin foil siding hides a community of bong hitters and breasticled nymphomaniacs?” He had already traded in his Geo Metro for a tricked-out golf cart and was packing Viagra.
Pete (Wheatstraw) hepburn
There is Only One Period in Life
He was born kicking and wailing to a beautiful heroin addict with sad eyes and a Farrah hairdo, qualities he would look for in every woman he loved—from paddycake on the playground with Sarah, to button fumbling behind the gym with Teresa, to dungeon crop whipping with Chastity. Yet the one woman he would marry, the one who would see him peacefully into the hospice and drop blood-red roses on his freshly polished casket, would be the one to actually give him life—despite her laughing eyes that shone beneath the purple headscarf of her own chemotherapy.
Sarah Doodah Stole My Wagon
The Bitch. It's not like she didn't have her own wagon. Well, it wasn't really a wagon, I guess. She had one of those kid trailers that sporty parents hooked up to the back of a bicycle to tow their kids down to the park. It only had one pair of wheels and if it wasn't hooked up to something it just fell forward on its aluminum arm. You couldn't roll more than a foot without it scraping to a stop on her pebble driveway. It wasn't much of a wagon. But still. She didn't have to steel mine. The Bitch.
The man murdered children. Agree with me, quickly, that the idea of the blank is ridiculous.
But we also have to go home at night.
Five shooters, four bullets, one blank. No killers.
A countdown signals the five seconds Caleb has left to live.
The sound is deafening. Caleb is rendered diagonal by powerful rifles.
I realize I've forgotten to squeeze the trigger.
I'm late. I shoot. The corpse slumps; bloodspray from a live round.
The other officers breathe heavily at my delay. They aren't killers.
Like Caleb, I die today. I will accept my martyrdom.
“Quick, teacher: two plus two.” Jimmy hepburn smiled. Black spaces like minor keys set into his grin. “That's how many I put in.”
“Sshame here” whistled Suzie Stephanopoulos, whose tongue held no grip on missing incisors.
Stephen Farragut slapped a ruler on the desk. “Thit thtraight!” His lisp caused by a mouthful of gums.
Mr. Edwards stared at the bowl filled with pink enamel and bloody roots, like colorful cereal. The scissors pushed further into his back. A classroom of gapped smiles chanted “Eat!” No need for hiding them under pillows. This was better than anything from the tooth fairy.
Bourbon and Bitters
Sevrin and I are sitting at the bar, solving the world's problems the only way we know how—one shot at a time. You might say we have a slight drinking solution.
“You and your flowers and notes,” Sevrin slurs. “She's the bartender. It's her job to be nice. Get over it.”
Yeah, we're talking about Amanda again. One glimpse of her smile and you'd understand why.
I am set to explain how spontaneous gestures of unconditional love are the keys to a joyful life, when Amanda approaches and softly touches my hand.
Sevrin gets up to take yet another piss.
A Mother's Love
If half the people don't care and half don't listen, who's left? Your mother, that's who.
My mother listened to me like a hawk, afraid I would knock up Jeannie Snow or some other high school whore. Then she started forgetting things like where we live and who I am, so they locked her in a crazy house with alarms and antiseptic air. Now, when I visit she says, “Get the fuck away from me.”
When the only person who ever loved you says fuck off, it makes you crazy, like you're in some freakin' J.D. Salinger story.
I decided to be a good Samaritan and help push a random lady's dead Toyota Sienna which ran out of gas and clear it out of the street and into a gas station but fell and scraped my knees because homegirl decides to finally lift her foot off the brake after I was pushing with all my might and fell forward as the minivan rolled up the street without me as my 5'9” lanky ass sprang back up although my knees were fucking bleeding and the only thing my dumb ass is worrying about is if someone saw me eat shit.
The existing state of affairs
Sometimes, all she wants is a drink. She doesn't want to think about: why Gmail stacks emails, why she has to hide the cereal from the ants, or why she keeps getting one line instead of two. She doesn't want to tell him it's negative again so she stopped telling him anything, and he started going out for breakfast since he could never find the cereal.
Sometimes, all she gets is a drink. He pours the wine as a final courtesy, right before he walks out for the evening.
Sometimes, she's just fine with it and locks the door behind him.
El Gato swats at flies, bored and unhappy, feline intellect straining to understand the absence of tuna and belly scratches. I'll eat the bastard. Another fly buzzes, agitates the cat, but mid-pounce Owner's spray of Raid chokes El Gato, who thinks, Really, jackass? At which point, holy Mafdet, lion-headed Egyptian goddess of justice, appears amidst a horde of red-eyed, razor-clawed cat-demons goose-stepping up from Egyptian nether-realms to avenge each abuse visited upon fair El Gato. “And that, children, is why one must never again play mean with grammy's pussy! Goodnight, dearies… sleep tight, and don't let Mafdet bite!”
Momma was not a busty woman and she'd always wanted to get a pair of implants. When our dad left, she cashed out my brother's college fund and had the surgery. An infection set in, almost killed her. When she came home from the hospital, she brought Jake, a beefy, monosyllabic orderly. Momma waited on him, cooked for him. He rarely spoke. When he did, it was to say, “Nice rack, baby.” Years later, Momma said those boobs had been Loser Magnets. Before we buried her yesterday, I asked the mortician to take the damned things out and burn them.