The winner of five free Sundress Publications titles of her choosing and publication is…
Amy Sayre Baptista!!!! Congratulations!!!
Here’s T.A. Noonan’s two cents on the what helped her bring this competition to a bitter-sweet close:
First of all, thank you to all of the entrants in the Sundress Summer Flash Showdown. This was not an easy decision to make. One might argue that such a thing is easy— “all judges say that”, “it’s just flash”, “how long could it possibly take”, etc.—but it rarely is. Eleven stories, eleven approaches, eleven musics.
Maybe it is just flash. Maybe each story doesn’t take long to read. Maybe judges do say their decisions are difficult more often than not. But how does one choose between the perfect smile inside a syringe or the strange brew of friends and local beer, the sadistic delight of slugs under salt or the algebra of relationships?
I spent a long time struggling between three pieces: Amy Sayre’s “Pike County Consilience,” Sam Slaughter’s “Zymurgy,” and Donna Vorreyer’s “A Life Quadratic.” Ultimately, “Pike County Consilience” won me over. Sayre’s juxtaposition of country wisdom and diabolical empiricism drew me in. Our narrator is as comfortable with survival as the scientific method, keeping “in my toolbox right alongside the wire cutters and the claw hammer.”
I’m not sure how to sum it up without spoiling the whole conceit, not that that matters much—“how long could it possibly take”, etc. But let’s just say that, by the time you see the “Banty Rooster broke-necked under [the narrator’s] windshield wiper,” you’ll need to know what our Kentucky scientist concludes.
Pike Country Consilience
By Amy Sayre Baptista
“Proof is derived through a convergence of evidence from numerous lines of inquiry–multiple, independent inductions, all of which point to an unmistakable conclusion.” –The Scientific American, 2005
A science man studies the world to say “why,” say how it got made. A Pike County man ciphers the world for what it is, and how to survive it. Me? I got some science in my toolbox right alongside the wire cutters and the claw hammer. Got me a proof, and a theorem, or two, just as useable as my crescent wrench. Let it be known to all: I love Jesus Christ. That said, the Son of Man never broke no barriers on the biological front. Chalk that up to Charles Darwin. Talk about loaves and fishes? Ok, no small feat, Jesus wins. But give Darwin his due.
Don’t believe in evolution? Make the acquaintance of the good damn brain God gave you, please. Humans? We scrambled up outta dark water; fin, fang, and claw. No doubt. Pretty it ain’t, we used to filter our own sewage out our gills, and rip our supper off a breathing bone. Still not convinced? You must be one of them that thinks babies came to life with mother’s love and angel milk. Truth never stands a chance with the feeble minded. But I’ve had to stare a man back on his haunches. Eye to eye, I recognized the abyss we crawled out of throbbing beneath his pupil. Gibb Delbert’s his name. Glared back at him with a blade at the end of my gaze, and knew he was still gonna come for me. Not for a social call neither. That’s evolution, and Gibb’s on the slow track.
Darwin was on to something with his consilience. In plain English, that’s many ways of coming to an unmistakable conclusion. For instance, Bud Rickart says to me at the Rod&Gun on a Wednesday night, “Gibb Delbert means to kill you.” That’s just one line of inquiry as Mr. Darwin was so fond of saying. Gibb comes into said establishment not thirty minutes later with a loaded revolver, puts one in my thigh, and one in my shoulder before he gets tackled. That’s conclusive proof.
Action: Gibb done shot me.
Reaction: He went to jail for two months till next Friday.
But what goes up must come down; that’s Newton not Darwin. I hope I’m not moving too fast. This evidence comes together on the quick. Last night I get a call says, “Will you accept charges from Danville Penitentiary?” Course I decline. This morning, I got a Banty Rooster broke-necked under my windshield wiper.
Proof: Blood feathers mean blood feud.
Times was when a righteous man with a crack shot might claim feud as self-defense. Not so today. Men like me need formularies just like the fellas writing the text books. Solving for the unknown in my neighborhood is a high stakes control set. Trajectory of bullets and repositioning the body? Mishandling those details gets you caught. My numbers got to add up, or I might as well start posing for a county sponsored head shot. Leave Jesus be. Houdini’s my savior. I need a disappearing act.
Hypothesis of an Unlocatable Body
Theorem 1: Deer season, I take the clip outta my rifle to give me two extra slugs. At twenty paces, I can end a man in the time of year no one questions a gun shot, or three, in quick succession. But that ain’t the difficult part. Trajectory of bullets, clip out, and a body? Too obvious and me the likely suspect.
Theorem 2: Solve for zero: where no evidence exists there’s no proof to solve for. That’s Algebra, translation, “the solving of broken parts”. Thank you Wikipedia and Arab people everywhere.
Theorem 3: No proof equals no charges. Add together the bank foreclosure of the abandoned hog operation at Nebo and property in probate. This equals a waste dumping pit both full and idle for a month. That formula births a slurry and stench to end all inquisition. A body in that slop seals the deal. By the time the farm sells, the hog pit will be no softer than concrete.
Theorem 4: A body at rest stays at rest: Gibb Delbert. A body in motion stays in motion: Me. Decomposition meets destiny. Thank you, Sir Isaac Newton.
Observable Conclusion: Done, son.
Amy Sayre Baptista lives and writes in Chicago, Illinois. She is a co-founder of the community arts program, Plates&Poetry. Her most recent publications can be found in The Butter, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, and Chicago Noir.