Once, a long time ago, I had a daycare in my home. Every day I felt blessed and a tad nervous caring for the little darlings entrusted to me while their parents went about their business. I felt a little bit like that with this first round of the Deadly Sin Series (except none of you showed up drunk to pick up your “offspring” nor did any of your checks bounce). But I digress.
These entries were fantastic. I had visions of having to beg my bloggy buddies (both of them) and my followers (again, both of them) to submit an entry. I was floored by not only the number of entries, but the incredible quality of the writing.
The judges, after much consideration, deliberation, consternation and more than a few libations, have narrowed the finalists field. I was hoping for 5 finalists, but there was a tie for second place, as well as fourth place, so I have included all 7 of the judges’ favorites. You can vote for your favorite over on the poll – until midnight Saturday, May 19.
Here are the finalists – in the order their entries were received:
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from She’s A Maineiac – a tale of a hot dog eating contest gone wrong
I always feel a roar in the pit of my stomach right before it starts. Could be nerves, I suppose. Or just hunger. Maybe it’s because I’ve prepared for weeks, sometimes months for this moment. I do the normal body cleanse, clean out all the pipes, so to speak. Then Ma clicks the stopwatch and it’s GO TIME. I’ve always been good at it. Ma says when I was a baby I would eat three jars of sweet potatoes, one right after the other, then scream for more. I was always hungry, always crying.
My personal best is 53 hot dogs in ten minutes 56 seconds. The trick is lots of ketchup–helps them dogs slide on down smooth as melted butter. When I start, there’s nothing like it, almost a religious experience. My body takes over and I start inhaling them, sucking them down, filling myself up so fast I could swallow the entire universe if I wanted to.
Sometimes I can feel them staring at me, as much disgusted by me as they are thrilled by me. Let ‘em gawk. I don’t give two shits about them anyway. Once the first chunk goes down and my mouth is stuffed, it’s just me against the food. The goddamn food. And I always win. Always. Until the summer of 2005 in Coney Island.
I can pinpoint the exact moment it all when to hell for me. I lost my first contest. Lost to a girl from Japan who was no heavier than a sack of flour–looked like her entire body was nothin more than a pile of bones slapped together with some skin. I knew I was in trouble when she sized me up just before the buzzer went off. Her shifty eyes daring me, taunting me. I had half a mind to stand up right there in front of everybody and swallow her whole. I regret I didn’t get the chance. Not 10.32 minutes later, she had won. Beat me by five whole hot dogs. FIVE. And I was left to sit there like a stuffed pig, still choking. Ma wasn’t happy with me that day. There was big money at stake and she was already three months behind on the mortgage.
Soon Miyu was winning every contest, hamburgers, crabcakes you name the food and she was always at least five to ten ahead of me at the end. But this next contest was it. The prize was $10,000. Enough to keep Ma happy for a bit.
The buzzer went off and I did my thing. For hours at home I had practiced my new move. I could almost get two of them down my throat at once. But it was tricky. For a split second I’d almost stop breathing, like I was drowning in the grease and fat. But I’d push on through cuz I had to. I had to beat that goddamn girl.
About a minute into the race I glanced down the line at Miyu, she was staring straight ahead, her eyes black and unfeeling, her hands popping the hot dogs in so fast it was a blur. She was in The Zone. I was falling out. In a stupid move I crammed three in my mouth at once and something happened. I knew it was bad. The screams of the crowd faded into this buzzing noise. Things began to get real hazy and I thought I saw Ma standing over me, crying. I don’t remember standing up, or falling forward, smashing into the table, ketchup and mustard and hot dogs flying every which way. Soon the crowd was all around me and I was looking up at the sky, so clear and blue. So beautiful.
Like I could swallow the entire universe.
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1 Point Perspective with Willie Prader, A Glutton For Punishment
Willie Prader, Private Eye – Deadly Sin Series –
“A Glutton For Punishment”
Willie Prader had a bad feeling about this one. Like maybe he’d bit off more than he could chew.
The leggy blonde named Crystal had sauntered through the door and into his life just a week before. For someone who made his living being observant, he should have learned by now – trouble was always blonde, and it always sauntered.
The job was simple. She was convinced that her husband was cheating. Willie’d been a private dick since Moses was a pup, but still had to wonder what kind of guy cheats on a bombshell like this dame. She had the face of a starlet, and he couldn’t help but notice how her legs got together and made an ass of themselves.
Prader parked his battered Lincoln at the White Castle across the highway from the Palace Diner and waited. The guy drove a ’68 Fleetwood, so he’d be hard to miss. When Mr. Light finally pulled up at the Palace, Prader was amazed to find out just how hard to miss he actually was. The guy got out of the Caddy and the chassis elevated like one the Impalas the kids drive out in L.A. Only this car didn’t have complicated hydraulics, it heaved up because the guy who got out of it had to tip the scales at five bills or more. He leaned down and checked his massive face in the little mirror on the door, then shifted his bulk toward the diner entrance.
Prader chuckled to himself. He never would’ve guessed that a doll like Crystal would be married to a guy who looked like he was built when meat was cheap. He leaned back on the Lincoln, lit a Lucky and watched across the lanes of blacktop as the round man somehow crammed himself into a booth. The waitress was hovering at his table, spending too much time for someone who should be hustling up and down the aisle slinging hash for tips. She laughed and smiled at him, touching his arm as he shifted his attention between her and the glossy menu.
Willie decided to get a closer look at this little romance. He jogged across the highway and stood in the shadows just outside the neon glow of the flickering sign. He considered his surroundings, making sure he wouldn’t be too conspicuous. He looked back up to the window and saw the booth was empty. For a minute, he thought maybe he was looking at the wrong booth. Just then, he felt the massive ham-hand grip his arm like a vise. He was pretty sure the pain in his ribs was the business end of a Colt, maybe a Baretta. The man-mountain pushed him toward the diner door and the barrel of the handgun kept him moving.
Light stared at him across the booth with tired eyes. The waitress looked at Prader with just a hint of dull surprise after putting three platters down in front of the big man. She smiled briefly at Light as she left.
“My wife sent you snooping” Light declared. “She knows I’m cheating,” he continued, “but look at this plate of sausage and eggs with hash browns. Do you have any idea how many points that meal is? Sorry pal, but I can’t lose Crystal because of what you or some team of cardiologists tell her.”
Prader swore at himself as he lay bound and gagged in the trunk of the Caddy, probably on his way to a landfill. If he got out of this alive, he’d need to listen closer to clients, especially the blonde ones.
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angrygorillaemissions with a story about Dexter:
It was getting near that time of day again. Dexter didn’t really recognize that it was nearly 4:30, like you or I would, but he knew it nonetheless. He felt it. Dexter watched a lizard scurrying under the couch. In his youth he would have chased after it, but now it bored him. He waved his tail impatiently and yawned, then climbed up onto the couch and let the peacefulness of the afternoon lull him. A truck rumbled by outside, and his ears involuntarily perked up. “No”, he thought, “This isn’t the sound Mrs. Hattock makes when she opens the door.” But still a pang of hunger struck him at the thought of Mrs. Hattock returning.
He mindlessly licked himself and found that his fur tasted quite delicious.
Then the familiar jingle of Mrs. Hattock’s keys searching for their place in the door reached Dexter. He sprung up immediately and ran to the door. He was surprisingly out of breath from this short flight, but paid no mind to his physical discomfort. He was fixated on meowing as loudly as possible until Mrs. Hattock fed him.
“Hello Dexter,” Mrs. Hattock began cordially, but Dexter was in no mood for small talk. He began to whine and rub himself against her aging calves, arching his back.
“I’ve got a treat for you.” She said, opening up a can of soft food. Dexter plunged his head into the can of soft food even while she tried to empty it into his food bowl.
“Now don’t be greedy Dexter.” She reproached. “My how fat you’ve gotten.”
She didn’t care that he was fat really. Neither did Dexter. The two of them needed this daily ritual. She loved to spoil him and he loved to eat. He swallowed his food quickly without really chewing it. It didn’t even taste good it mostly just felt good. It was more like an esophageal massage than a dinner.
In that moment they both thought they loved each other. Soon they would be both be gone, and neither one wished to contemplate what would happen if the other died first.
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Lindsey from rewindrevise with a tale of rehab relapse:
It had been three months since Allison had left rehab. She had just earned her 90 day sobriety chip, which had become a comforting worry stone as of late. As she sat in the reception area of her husband’s office, she flipped the coin between her thumb and forefinger all the while eyeing the handsome young man her husband has chosen as his assistant.
“I have Mrs. Taylor here,” he emphasized over the phone.
Why had he not called her Allison? The young man cleared his throat.
“No, she’s here.”
Allison continued to flip, flip, flip.
“He’s just wrapping something up…a meeting. He’s wrapping up a meeting,” he clarified. How long had this been happening, Allison wondered? How long had it been happening right in front of her eyes but she was too stoned to see it? Their sex life never had the kinds of stories she wanted to boast to her friends about. At first he blamed it on stress. He blamed it on the office. Then there was the baby. Then there was her and the vodka. How long had it even been since they had…been? The longer Allison waited, the more her stomach sank. She could feel the urge coming. The sound of a train rumbled in the distance and once again she was reminded how much she hated this place. The 90 day chip was no longer soothing, but heavy, hot. She looked at the clock…tick. She looked at the water cooler…drip. She looked at the young assistant’s coffee…and there she spotted them. A crystal bowl full of champagne and rum truffles. The assistant caught her gaze and began wildly shuffling papers to distract her. He had not cleared the bowl in time for Allison’s visit. Was that what was making him nervous? She had showed up unannounced, but surely the wrath from her husband for not hiding the bowl of liquor truffles was not the complete source of the young man’s anxiety. No, this was the kind of nail biting, knee-bouncing, pen-tapping anxiety that comes with knowing a secret, one that is about to explode.
From behind the office door, a man’s voice, yelled, “I don’t care, anymore!”
Allison raised an eyebrow at the assistant and he squeaked out a high-pitched laugh. “Excuse me,” he said, as he quickly got up and let himself inside the office door. Before he quickly closed the door behind him, she could see the back of a man’s head, jet black, his shirt wrinkled from where it had been tucked in, untucked, and tucked again. He was adjusting his carefully rolled sleeves…and then the door slammed with the assistant inside…but not before the waft of that familiar cologne had escaped. That cologne she had smelled on her husband after business meetings and gold tournaments and galas. That cologne had almost replaced her husband’s scent. Only when he visited her in rehab, when she did not smell the cologne, did she realize it was a cologne that did not belong to him.
It was just Allison and the bowl now, Allison and the velvet truffles calling for her, Allison with the 90 day chip and the train rumbling and the cologne wafting. She no longer needed to see her husband. The assistant had told her everything she needed to know. Allison lunged for the crystal bowl, ripped off wrappers with her acrylic nails, and two by two popped glorious bursts of rum and chocolate into her mouth.
When Jim finally emerged reeking of that other man’s cologne, all he found was the 90 day chip in an empty crystal bowl.
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Sean from theequiaticbind with The Unhappy Meal
At most fast food restaurants they enforce a rule called the two finger smile. This rule dictates that if you put your top two fingers next to your mouth, holding the fingers together like you’re making a gun out of them, and then smile, your smile needs to be the same height as the fingers. The strictness of the enforcement of this rule differs from restaurant to restaurant. I’ve been in some restaurants were the server has barely spoken let alone smiled and I’ve been to others where they smiled so much I became suspicious and in the end I left after asking for directions to somewhere I wasn’t going to.
One time though I was stupid enough to make a complaint. It happened like this:
It was a Tuesday afternoon and the restaurant I was in was fairly empty. Actually it was completely empty save for myself and the servers. One of the servers had on a red tie and a short sleeve shirt that denoted management.
I had ordered my meal, found fault with it and approached the counter.
‘Excuse me,’ I said. ‘I think there’s something wrong with my meal.’
My server said, ‘Yes, sir and what is the problem.’ He had a two and a half finger smile.
‘Yeah I bit into my burger and I suddenly had a very strong memory of being stood up for a date when I was sixteen by a girl who ended up with my best friend and broke my heart. I would have come and complained sooner but I’ve only just stopped crying.’
He nodded, ‘I see.’ He made a hand motion and the manager appeared at my side.
‘Yes sir, you were crying sir?’ said the manager with a three finger smile.
‘Yes. From eating your burger.’
‘Yes this is a common problem. You ordered an unhappy meal, sir?’
‘No, I ordered a happy meal.’
‘It’s a common mistake at the moment, sir, you see we’ve just started a new campaign promoting our unhappy meals. They’re a more depressing but healthier version of the happy meal. They also don’t come with a toy.’
‘Yeah I noticed that. Mine came with a small note saying that my glasses made me look a dork.’ I readjusted my glasses on my nose. ‘I like my glasses.’
‘They’re wonderful, sir.’
‘Okay then I’d like to change this for a happy meal then.’
‘No. That’s not possible.’
‘Why not?’ His smile had dropped to one finger status now. ‘You ordered an unhappy meal so you have to finish it. Company policy.’
‘I’ve left food unfinished here before.’ The smile dropped to half a finger.
‘I’ve left food unfinished here before.’
The manager turned to the server, ‘lock the door.’
‘Wait, wait, wait. What’s happening?’
‘You wıll eat the food you have wasted.’ The manager now had a two finger frown. ‘Eat it or there will be consequences.’
‘You’re a fast food restaurant manager. You have no power over anything in the real world.’
He smiled then, one finger, then two, three, four, his mouth stretching to five fingers then six then seven then eight.. He spoke in a voice that sounded like frying meat, ‘Eat.’
I looked down at the counter and saw the servers had gathered heapıng great piles of food there.
‘Eat,’ they hissed at me. ‘Eat.’
I reached over with a shaking hand and picked up the first of what looked like a hundred burgers. I slowly unwrapped it and began to chew, tears running down my face. The manager eight finger smiled at me, ‘enjoy your meal.’
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Julie over at gojulesgo with her tale of a gluttonous mother:
Becky stood in front of the open refrigerator door, the numbness settling in to so much more than just her limbs. It started harmlessly enough, like it always did – with the leftovers. This time grilled chicken and green beans. But the taste of the tender chicken got her mouth watering, and now she craved something crunchy to satisfy the churn in her stomach.
For a long time she believed that churn was hunger, afraid to believe it could be anything else. Now that she knew better, she simply let the numbness take over. She grabbed the jar of mayonnaise from the refrigerator door, and the potato chips and rolls from the counter, before she could change her mind. Leaving the refrigerator door open, she smeared a generous dollop of mayonnaise on both sides of a whole wheat roll. She barely noticed the crinkling sound of the potato chip bag as she reached in and pulled out a fistful. She placed the chips on the roll and closed it, pressing the soft brown bread down with her palm to make sure the chips wouldn’t fall out.
She finished it in four bites. She leaned her ear towards the nursery. Still quiet. The only sound now was the hum of the refrigerator and the wild racing of her heart. The numbness was starting to fade and the familiar anxiety inched its way into her throat.
Well, it’s too late to save myself now, she thought, and dug out her secret stash of chocolate-covered pretzels from behind the crockpot. She glanced at the clock. 11:51am. She knew the pretzels would be gone well before noon. She had just popped the sixth one in her mouth, savoring the rich sweetness of the chocolate and salty crunch of the pretzel, when she heard the garage door open. Her heart stopped.
“Hello? Bill? Is that you?” she called, a tremor in her voice. She quickly stuffed the pretzels back in their hiding place and slammed the refrigerator door shut.
“Yeah, it’s me. They let us out early ‘cause of the holiday weekend,” Bill’s low, familiar voice replied. Becky breathed a sigh of relief, but her heart continued to race. She started wiping down the counters, so that it looked like she was cleaning when Bill came up behind her and placed a breezy kiss on her cheek.
“You smell like chocolate,” he said innocently. Becky laughed. “Oh really? That’s weird. I feel like I haven’t had chocolate in ages.”
Bill opened the refrigerator door and she squeezed her eyes shut, hoping he wouldn’t notice the missing leftovers. When had it become so easy to lie?
Bill shut the door and sighed. “There’s nothing to eat. Want to order take-out?”
“Sure,” Becky replied. “I’m starving.” Bill grabbed the phone and suddenly paused.
“When’s the last time you checked on Abigail?” “Um,” Becky hesitated, trying to remember how long ago it had been since she started her latest binge. “About 20 minutes ago?”
Bill wandered towards the nursery. He opened the door fully and a moment later Becky heard what sounded like the phone hitting the floor.
“Becky!” Bill cried, his voice almost unrecognizable.
Becky’s stomach dropped to her knees. She knew before she entered the baby’s room that something was wrong. And it was her fault. She ran into the room and then it all came up. The chicken, the chips, the pretzels. The reason her baby wasn’t breathing.
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Katie with a story of food waiting in the dark:
In the darkness, the world shuddered. Light bloomed overhead, reflecting off of wrinkled plastic wrap, off of smooth lids to jars and jugs. The light beamed down through the levels, cut into rectangles by wire racking, eclipsed by drawers. One wall, covered in balconies populated by bottles swung away. Cold and light seeped from the world to fill the obtuse angle as it did in endless cycles.
The food was paralyzed in frightened anticipation, except for those that trembled for a moment before stilling under his gaze. He came at all hours, to look, to take. Some of the food had been there for a while; some was taken and returned, diminishing gradually. Some of it was not there long enough to get to know. There was a world outside the chill box. The food had been out there before each of them had been brought here, imprisoned, only to leave again to complete this reverse birth.
And all the while in that cramped darkness, a question plagued the food: was it better to be taken quickly, or to wait in that darkness that hummed sometime, to watch that wall swing away, those greedy eyes zoom in, searching. The question was only to pass the time. Eventually, they would all be encircled by those chubby fingers, all would end up in the maw of their jailer.
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If your story didn’t make the cut – don’t be discouraged. There were 3 stories tied for 6th place – so Honorable Mention goes to Lisa, Elyse and Peg. All of the entries were unique, creative and very entertaining.
So here is the poll. Good luck. Remember the winner (U.S. only) gets a batch of my world famous chocolate chip cookies, a $20 donation to the hunger fighting organization of their choice, plus a $30 donation in their name to one of the organizations designated by Lenore (as specified by the winner). If the winner is based outside the U.S. they will receive either a gift certificate to the eating emporium of their choice ($20) or an additional ($20) donation to a hunger fighting organization.