One of the writing groups I belong to, the Ozarks Writers League, or OWL, had their awards dinner Friday night. I might have won a thing or two.
I took home seven awards in all. Woo-hoot! (Get it? Hoot? OWL awards? I know, groan. I hate puns too. Shame on me.)
I’m particularly excited about the accolades for my debut novel, THE AMULET OF ISIS. It was named Best Unpublished Book and received the President’s Award for the best entry in any category. I’m truly honored and humbled that my book was chosen out of hundreds of entries. I’ve worked very hard on this project, and seeing it honored meant a great deal to me.
I also received First Place in the Flash Fiction Mystery category sponsored by Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers. What a crazy category! A 500-word mystery that must contain the words stumble, piranha and skeleton. That was a fun challenge. My stab at it is posted below.
My 1,000-word vignette of a girl dealing with sexual abuse, “The Lesson,” won Second Place in the Young Adult Short Story category. I also placed second in the Six-Word Memoir category and received First Honorable Mentions for 99-word Flash Fiction and Romance Short Story Based on a Photo Prompt sponsored by Ozarks Romance Authors.
It was a big night!
In case you’re curious, here’s what I came up with for that crazy 500-word Flash Fiction Mystery challenge.
Think piranhas will clean the skeleton?
You’re kidding, right? Just meet me at the swing. 3 a.m.
I stared at the texts, wondering what inside joke I was missing. Not that it was any of my business. This wasn’t my phone, after all.
I’d finished with my last patient and was about to lock up for the night when something purple and sparkly caught my eye in the waiting room. An iPhone. Latest model too.
I wasn’t trying to snoop. As a psychiatrist, I hear more than enough dirty little secrets. I just wanted to find who the phone belonged to.
That’s when I saw the texts.
The other texter was only identified as 262-73, but I found the owner’s name and went in my partner’s office to pull her file. Joe and I have been buddies since med school, so everything’s fair game in our office.
I scanned her record. Ritzy address. Troubled marriage. A long list of molehills turned into mountains—the type of first-world problems that kept our uptown practice open.
Then I noticed a newspaper clipping tucked inside. Today’s date. An article about a missing real estate tycoon.
My mind reeled.
What if those texts weren’t a joke?
I dialed Joe, hoping for a simple explanation. No answer. Could he be in danger too? Because she’d revealed too much during their sessions?
I thought about calling the police, but I didn’t have enough information to risk breaking client confidentiality. My hands were tied.
I was still thinking about those texts hours later as I untangled the blankets on my bed for the fifth time that sleepless night.
Meet me at the swing. 3 a.m.
I kept picturing the rope swing at the lake where Joe and I used to drink beer on Friday nights. That couldn’t really be it, could it?
I squinted at the clock. 2:07 a.m. What the hell. I obviously wasn’t going to sleep.
I turned onto the gravel road and switched off my headlights. Paranoid, I know. Just enough moonlight filtered through the trees to drive by. My tires made a lot of noise on the gravel, though, so finally I got out and walked.
As I neared the lake, I spotted two dark figures silhouetted against the water. A man and a woman.
I crept closer.
I probably could have heard their whispers if the beating of my heart weren’t so loud. Like a scene in a movie, they lifted a blanket-wrapped lump and heaved it into the water.
This was really happening.
As they turned, moonlight fell on the man’s face.
I gasped and stumbled. Two sets of eyes locked on me.
“See, I told you he’d follow the clues,” Joe said to the woman.
She raised a gun and realization hit like an icy blast.
I was the patsy.
“Sorry about this, buddy. Truly, I am.” Joe grimaced. “But at least I made sure your consumed-by-guilt suicide note was a work of art.”