Oct 31, 2009 by

Round 9 Challenges (Word limit – 444 words)

1) Incorporate a hoax
2) Incorporate a revelation
3) Incorporate the number four
4) Incorporate Stephen Colbert.

Read OLAF 8 here (see “Similar Posts” at the bottom of this post for any earlier entries)

Ron couldn’t get the image of Annikki from his head the entire way home. The sleepless nights weren’t going to end. He drove back twenty over the limit. He hated drivers like that.

He spent the rest of the day shingling the roof of his shop. He stayed on the easterly side, which wasn’t visible from the road. He skipped lunch and worked on into dark until he smashed his thumb.

After a long shower, he brought an ice tray, a jug of rum, and mixer to the couch and flicked through the channels. American’s Next Top Model. The Real Housewives of Atlanta. NASCAR. Colbert Report. The usual trash. Nothing even to distract him. He shut the television off and stared at the blank screen and drank.

Ron had left Hagan Harbor Lodge before Olga’s husband and son returned to the apartment. But not before Olga asked if he would take Annikki and her brother out tuna fishing. He said he would. Tomorrow.

None of it made sense to him. Not how Annikki had been so warm with him. Not how Olga had been giving him the eyes of a single woman. And sure as hell not how in a single glance he’d managed to forget about the woman he’d dreamt about for decades and discover he was an old lecher.

Everything he’d believed in all these years had proven a hoax. Olga wasn’t the Olga he remembered. Instead Annikki was. For decades he’d been in love with a memory, a mirage from the past. Only now, upon nearing the oasis, could he see the illusion for what it was.

Ron went to his bar and unscrewed the cap off the Spiced Rum. It smelled like crap. He looked at his black thumbnail and laughed. He drank straight from the bottle. He poured it down his throat until he sputtered up a spray of rum.

He put his fist through the drywall before passing out on the couch. Letters and photos were scattered around him. A Shakespeare passage torn from a book lay in a puddle of rum:

Away treacherous love!
Puff me up never again with your deceits,
Your youthful vows of eternal bonds,
Your scorn and spurn of the inexplicable
Disappearing act performed by the
Slippery duo, Time and Absence.
Away with you!

Back in Apt. 4, Olga was lying on her side in bed with her back to Pellervo. She hadn’t had time to tell Ron. Or she hadn’t mustered the strength. The same reason she hadn’t told Annikki yet. When they returned from fishing she would reveal the truth. She could no longer hide it from them. Ron was Annikki’s uncle.

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  1. For a moment there I thought you were going to say ‘father’, but the uncle idea is an even better twist, I’m really very curious as to what this can all mean!
    But how old exactly is Anniki? I keep picturing her as an adolescent but that can’t be right can it?

    • I thought you were going to say “father” too!! Either that, or Ron was Annikki’s brother’s father.

      Doesn’t Ron have two brothers? The one who stabbed their father to death and one who runs a camera store? Or am I getting mixed up?

      Neither Annikki or Ron know they’re related, they’re going on a fishing trip…something tells me they’re going to end up on Jerry Springer (c:

      Once again, Olaf, it’s the little details that make this passage special. Ron’s broken thumb, driving over the speed limit, the way he drinks his rum, even though it smells like crap, the way he gets drunk and reads Shakespeare…he’s a complicated guy, that Ron.

  2. 24. No Lolita here. You’re not the first to ask.

    Olga mentions it in the Facebook message.

  3. Its strange Olaf; I’m really not sure why you always get such a low poll percentage, its certainly not because you are the strongest competitor. Somehow I suspect it may be higher this time – I don’t think this was your best input. For me its lost some of the appeal of previous efforts, perhaps its the redirection of attention that disappoints. Your competitors are all very strong – I wonder what Utah’s going to come up with?

  4. Now JD, my memory ain’t stellar but didn’t you say about my last post that it was up there with the best of the rest? So I hear you. It is strange.

    • Your right Olaf and after I’d posted it I wasn’t entirely sure if what I’d said about your poll results was true on an overall basis or just on Round 8. I haven’t kept records and I’m not sure were to check up all the last poll results. Last time around I did place you pretty high and I have liked the story so far – not complex or dramatic particularly but human and interesting – but not so good as to justify a continually low polling. This time I was not so sure I felt you had lost a bit of edge.

  5. tetra

    Olaf, you’re a survivor. And a few weeks ago I would have said that anyone who made it to the end of a post of yours was as well! loved the tuna steaks clutched in the hand, the uncle bit, nice, and the insistent slow rhythm of your narrative like a calm, deep, craggy sea. you make Nora look like a sensationalist. good old fashioned story telling still has its place, as do heroes who attract our sympathies without pandering to our fantasy.

  6. Thank you littlestar – I had quite forgotten what had happened at the beginning! I looked back – two brothers; Lev, patricide and the shop, and Jacob, on-line gaming.
    That is what I was missing in your contribution for this round Olaf! Tess said I had a good memory but she’s very wrong.

  7. JD makes the kinds of grammatcal errors in writing that really bother me. Is this oversight or what? Coco makes mistakes but she’s from Ukraine and with this character, it works. But really, shouldn’t someone’s grammatical knowlege be a sign of whether or not we should listen to his/her opinion on a literary contest?

    • An interesting but disappointing comment and, I would suggest, rather elitist. It indicates a rather narrow minded and opinionated point of view.

      I’ve already blamed the site for these recurrent errors (some of which are very obvious and some, I am sure, are due to my ignorance)!!!

      However, I would suggest that most writers should be interested in how readers of their literary creations react and in the opinions they might express. In this respect it might be argued that the responsibility for being grammatically correct, for the style in which they are writing, lies with the authors rather than the readers.

      I would also suggest that you have missed the point of this contest. It is a ‘blog based reality show’, which implies to me that it is open to all; all can have and can ‘voice’ their opinions.

      Writing is only one of many forms of communication. Communication is a highly complex evolving state within the Phenomenal Universe, a product of general evolution, and, in its present phase, is very specific to the experience base of the subjects between which it takes place. The behavior of individuals is very specific to the environment in which they find themselves; they and the specific individuals with whom they communicate are a part of this environment. Each individual is unique, as is their interpretation of everything they experience. Writing, especially in this era of the Internet, can reach a very wide audience and it must be expected that its interpretation and impact will vary significantly. An author needs to be aware of this.

      ‘What one person says is not necessarily what another person hears’ or put another way ‘the meaning input into the composition of a writer is not the same as the meaning that the reader will extract.

      (I do hope I’ve not made too many grammatical mistakes.)

  8. tetra

    Olaf you old mackerel. In the turn about of the contest I have decided to vote for your fish tale. Having spent the contest in disbelief that you hadnt been dispensed with as each week passed I am now giving you my vote. Dont think this is likely to happen again! Unless you produce a whale of a story …your fishy friend :)

  9. A lot of action from Tetra today. Well said about heroes. Good to know a slow moving story still has its place in the age of A.D.D. Don’t think I can deliver a Moby Dick for you, Tetra, but I’ll see what else I can net.

    Enjoyed JDs counterpunch. Let’s see if Kaylie throws one back.

    • It may be an elitist comment but let me explain something: I’ve been teaching writing for 21 years and I spend a lot of time talking to agents and editors. They get thousands of submissions a wk and look for any reason to turn work down. The first thing is gramm mistakes and bad formatting. They say, If a writer can’t take the time to chk for spelling errors, why should I take the time to read it?

  10. Tony

    Olaf, this is great! giving the opportunity this can be fleshed out amazingly!

  11. Shakespeare in the pool of rum … this says it all doesn’t it? I loved the reference to being an old lecher and as always you are the king of the hook … leaving it hanging right there so we all want to vote for you to find out what happens next.

    I wish I had time to sleep on my vote – but if I do I will miss the boat!

  12. Finally on a real computer. What I’m trying to say is, when you’re writing critiques of literature or in the literary forum, it’s good to use correct grammar. To use a metaphor: If you were a salesperson for hair products, would you show up at a potential client’s salon with dirty hair?

  13. How ironic! I just hammered my thumb the other day! At least I only put screws through the dry wall and not my fist.

  14. Kaylie, you wrote all that on your blackberry while on a book tour? Christ, I feel like a fossil.

    JD, looks like you need to dig out the old Vidal Sassoon.

    Vasia, watch it with the hammer. Everybody knows pounding nails is just a gateway drug to punching walls.

  15. I’m sitting here laughing, reading all this on my tiny blckbrry screen. You guys are all great! BTW I’ve talked to Constantine about publishing all of this in a literary mag.

    • He did mention this to us, Kaylie. He didn’t tell us which one but he said it was a prestigious and highly selective journal so we should do our best to keep our writing up to par!

  16. I think it would be fantastic. Especially if the comments were included as well — perhaps not all, but the most interesting ones. No one has done this before, and I think it’s innovative and wonderful. And that is exactly why the level of writing is so important!

  17. Woo hoo, we’re going to be stars! (hmm, clearly this comment should not be included).


  18. (_|_)

    How about with these? 😉

    • Nice one – two! (Forget I said that!!)

    • PHWOARH. Nice set of…brackets, Anna!

      (this is CLEARLY literary criticism of the highest order happening here…)

      God. If any of my comments were published in a posho literary magazine, complete with spelling mistakes and stupid backward smileys and all, I’d die of humiliation.

      However, on the other hand, I could then say that “my writing” had been published in a posh literary magazine…ha! (c:

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