This month, we featured Leanne and Andy Baldwin, winners of the 2011 Sledgehammer Team category, as they read their story, “No Apocalypse in the Rose City.” Well done!
The prompts for the subsequent writing contest were a lot of fun:
action: getting a tattoo
setting: in the kitchen of an ethnic restaurant
prop: an old, dirty shoelace
Leanne stole the spotlight when the shoelace showed up in…well, you’ll have to read the story to find out. Congrats on another win, Leanne!
by Leanne D. Baldwin
“We have to talk,” Cynthia said as she burst into the kitchen. The aromas of oregano, basil, and garlic swirled in the steamy air.
“Oh, I’m glad you’re here,” Cosmo said, stirring a steaming pot. “A full moon or an eye?”
Cynthia frowned as the cook stared at her expectantly. “What do you mean, a full moon or an eye? What could you possibly be talking about?”
Cosmo addressed her as though talking to a particularly dim-witted child. “Which one do you think I should get?” When Cynthia turned up her hands in frustrated confusion, he clarified, “My tattoo. Should I get a full moon or an eye?”
“That’s stupid! Who gets a tattoo of the letter ‘I’?”
Rolling his eyes, Cosmo snorted. “No! I mean, like an eyeball. You know, staring mysteriously.”
Cynthia sighed. “Why do you ask me shit like this? I hate tattoos, I hate giving advice, and I’m not even all that fond of you.”
She realized that she should have cut off the spoken list at the second item and merely thought the third. Her father always said that this was one of her flaws where people-skills were concerned. It was why he was reluctant to retire and let her take over the restaurant. “Delvecchio’s has always been a place where we treat each other like family.”
Cynthia thought that quite a few families spoke to each other the way she tended to speak, but she kept that to herself. In this economy, she needed to do whatever it took to convince Dad she could run this place.
She started over. “Look, I came in to tell you that—”
“No,” Cosmo said, lifting a lid and tasting something.
“No. You don’t get to shut me down, belittle my concerns, and expect me to listen to yours.”
“This is a business, Cosmo. I’m managing the business, and I need to—”
“Your needs. Your needs! What about what I need?”
“You don’t need my advice on a tattoo choice,” Cynthia said.
“Your dad would help me,” Cosmo told her.
“Fine,” Cynthia said. “The eye. Get the eye.”
“You sure? ‘Cause I was kinda leanin’ toward the full moon.”
“Then get that. A full moon it is. Listen, I just came to tell you that a customer…” She frowned. “Wait. Isn’t a full moon just a circle?”
“Well, duh,” Cosmo said, lifting a pot of pasta from the stove and draining it. “The moon is round.”
“Yeah, but…” She shook her head. “Whatever. Great choice. Anyway, a customer just told me she found a dirty shoelace in her linguine.”
“Yeah?” Cosmo waited, as thought there should be more to the story.
“Yeah. So I need you to make up a new meal for her, dump out all the linguine, and make more. This time, hold the shoestring.”
“Hold it? Like, in my hand?” Cosmo seemed perplexed.
Taking a deep breath, Cynthia put her hand to her forehead. “Yes, Cosmo. Hold it in your hand, drop it into the trash, wash your hands, and make a new batch of linguine.”
Cosmo started taking notes on the scarred message board on the wall by the kitchen phone. “Hand… trash… wash…”
“And you know,” Cynthia said loudly, “definitely get the full moon. It suits you. You know why? Because it will look like a zero. A big, fat, zero!”
Storming out of the kitchen, Cynthia pondered her future. At this rate, she’d never be getting the restaurant. Maybe she should just finish that degree in social work.
© 2011 Leanne D. Baldwin
Leanne D. Baldwin is a freelance journalist, blogger, and novelist based in Portland, Oregon. She has written everything from fiction, humorous verse, and news features to screenplays, political commentary, and television ad copy – not in that order, and not all at the same time.
She and her son, Andy Baldwin, won the team category of the 2011 Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing contest. She also recently placed seventh in the finals of NYC Midnight’s 8th Annual Screenwriter’s Challenge 2011, which isn’t bad considering she was learning how to write screenplays as she went along.
Leanne’s currently working on her first novel. Her fiction is mostly contemporary fantasy, because there’s no use pretending that her mind works like a normal person’s.