First place in a Flash Fiction contest!

We just got back from Magna cum Murder in Indianapolis where we learned that Joe won the Flash Fiction contest sponsored by Speed City Sisters in Crime. Here is the winning piece of Flash Fiction:


The siren seemed to be sounding, although there was no siren.  The light from the searchlight still was aimed too high, since no escape had been detected as yet, and, as long as he stayed at the water’s edge, it missed him by at least twenty feet.  Twenty feet of tangle, shrub, briars, and river jungle.

It was a hot night.  He let his bare and bleeding feet be washed by the river, laughing at himself as he looked out across the water and hummed the old song:

“On the banks of the Wabash, far away.”

And there was the Wabash River, a foot in front of him.

And there, on the other side of it, was the Federal Penitentiary at Terre Haute.

His home for the last six months.

And his home to be for seven more years, if the law was to have its way.

The law would not have its way, of course.  At least not the federal law.  The law of the streets would, though, and because of that he was about to be free.  Because of the work of Big Jake and the Southside Boys his escape had been neatly planned.  Six months had seemed long, of course, but there had been much to do.  A guard bribed, so that the roll of towels now lying in his bunk at two a.m. had been taken for a real, sleeping convict.  The two maintenance engineers who had been paid off so that the drain pipe would be accessible and open from the space between walls, down to the first floor, and out to the river.

And the boat rented.

The small boat that would pick him up in two minutes had been commissioned.

Of course it was not all done yet.  The Northside Boys had their presence in the prison, and everywhere there were eyes and ears.

The note he had found this morning under his pillow saying:

“Hope your boat don’t blow up.”

But that was nonsense.  They could not have known, not all the details.

So he dreamed about the life that would begin for him in  a few hours; his wonderful life of freedom.

The boat appeared, chugging along dutifully.

He got to his feet, feeling a bit unsteady.

“Hey, over…”

And the boat blew up.


Particles of metal and flesh began to rain around him.

“Fiction,” he mused.

That life he was going to lead.

Flash.  Fiction.

And the siren began to wail.

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