Three Minute Fiction

NPR’s Three Minute Fiction contest

Earlier this year, on a whim I decided to participate in round three of NPR‘s “Three Minute Fiction” contest.  Alas, since NPR does not send out “You did not win because we think you suck” announcements, I didn’t win, but I don’t know why.  I’m not saying I should have or shouldn’t have, mind you, I just didn’t.

Anyway, I have nothing else to do with the piece except post it here.

The assignment

The task was to write a piece that could be read in three minutes or less inspired by the below photograph.  Those were the only requirements.The piece is below.  Let me know what you think!

The Last Newspaper

The last newspaper in New York had died quietly on a table near a coffee shop window.  Murdered by its own descendants, the paper had become a relic the second the ink dried.  It was a thing to be explained to wide-eyed, fat little grandchildren when a story was required about how difficult the old days had been.  “You have it easy,” the grandfather would say, “we used to wait a full day to find out what had happened.”

The last person to read this particular tabloid on this particular table was a white male of medium build and brown hair, a Yankees ball cap pulled down to just above the eyes.  Nobody noticed the slight limp or the pencil-thin white scar across the cleft of his chin from some undetermined childhood trauma, or the gun until he used it.

He had read the paper from cover-to-cover over the course of forty minutes and then flipped to the crossword, where he proceeded to fill in the entire puzzle incorrectly but with a degree of cleverness that suggested he could have solved it properly had he wished: all of his answers were words, only they were the wrong words.  To say he was insane would be to oversimplify; he was sane, just working with a different set of clues than everyone else.

Corrigan sighed, because this was not the last newspaper in New York.   The industry was confused and wondering what happened and why nobody would save it, but it was not dead.  Which was a shame.  The death of the printed daily would mean no more tabloids resting on tables in fey little urban coffee shops ten feet from the bodies of two people who had erred only in their choice of skinny lattes.

There would always be guns and coffee shops, but one day the papers would surrender, and so, perhaps, would the man who did this.  It was something to look forward to.

Corrigan slipped on a glove and flipped the paper to the crossword.  Seventeen down: Philadelphia.  Maybe, he hoped, they’ve stopped printing the papers there.

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No Comments

  1. Madison Woods on July 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I loved the story you got from the photograph – very creative spin. Loved the idea of telling kids how we had to wait a day for the news. Sort of how far our grandparents had to walk to the bus in the snow and rain.

    The only problem I encountered was the line where Corrigan sighed. If it wasn’t the last newspaper in NYC, where were the others?

  2. genedoucette on July 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Thanks, Madison. The point of that line was that as much as Corrigan wished this were the last newspaper in new york, it was not, as the newspapers were still being printed daily.

    • Madison Woods on July 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm

      Ah- that makes sense then. I agree w/Cathryn. Lots of great lines 🙂

  3. Cathryn on July 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Great opening line, great second line. Lots of great lines. Well done!

  4. awriterswayoflife on July 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I like the spin you took on the photograph. It was unexpected.

    It was like the newspaper was behind glass, like a museum piece, set up in the Smithsonian perhaps.

    Then you added the murder & murderer and you gave it yet another dimension.

    Cleverly done!
    Julie Johnson

  5. Nee Hankins on January 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Just read your entry – bit late of me. I’m not wild about it. Perhaps the newspaper thought it was the last living example of a daily printed page. Perhaps it thought the man – visible in the window – was the one who took him out.
    Perhaps it is Corrigan himself who walked away from newspaper – the one chance to have an interview to print his side of the story & save the industry. But Corrigan’s felt the interview with the paper was going nowhere and left. Left him cold. If anyone could have saved the paper from it’s doom, it would be that two legged man seen slipping away from view.

    Yeah, everyone is a critic and we all have the “better” ideas. Forgive my commentary above for it’s seeming haughty approach. I think the confusion of the industry and the supposed death of the tabloid didn’t mesh…


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