I spent the hottest summer of my life in Muscatine, Iowa. It was a summer job at the local ketchup factory. In the first five minutes on the job, I discovered that every tomato in the state of Iowa ripens on the same day. I stood on the loading docks with my fellow summer employees, mostly college kids, looking at line of farm trucks that stretched over the far horizon. Twelve hours a day, six days a week, under a broiling sun, we hoisted baskets of tomatoes from the back of the trucks to the conveyer belts, with the foremen and the farmers shouting at us to move faster. It was hotter than sin. Being a fast talker with no shame, I tried to finagle my way inside the factory.
I succeeded. They hooked me into a leather vest and gave me a hose then hoisted me high up to lower me inside an empty railroad tanker to wash out the residue. Other tankers to follow. Out of the sun and into an oven that was hotter than sin. More fast talking. Now down to the warehouses. The mighty Mississippi flooded that summer, and the warehouses were inundated with soggy crushed cardboard cartons and broken bottles of ketchup bleeding red muck into an endless sludge of Mississippi mud. Don’t ask about the smell. Our job: Shovel it out. Indoors, out the sun, but hotter than sin.
All of which made me curious to see what our contributors could come up with when we said that our summer theme was “Hotter Than Sin.” I was delighted, and you will be too, as you read their stories. They have dug into the essence of the term “Hotter Than Sin.”
P.S. It took me years before I could ever eat ketchup again!
In this issue: Here’s what our authors have come up with for this theme. Our featured story, “A Good Man,” by Dustin Lawrence Lovell, weaves a tale of crime and punishment in the heat of the American West. Dan Morey takes on sin in San Francisco in “The Body in the Blue Kimono,” while Margaret Kelliher’s “Churros and Treasure” tells a sweeter tale of a food truck at a beach. Our own BWG member, D.T. Krippene, goes otherworldly with our theme in his story “Hot as Sin.” In addition to stories, we have two poems to offer, Amera Elwesef’s “Prayers on Our House Roof,” which speaks of cooking bananas and feeding the hungry, and Deryn Pittar’s “Desist,” depicting a slice of Maori history. We’re extremely proud of all our writers and are proud to publish their work.
As well as the stories, this issue of the BWG offers an interview with author and BWG member Pete Barbour, editor Dianna Sinovic’s perspective on the work of Philip K. Dick, and numerous helpful links for the writers among our readers. Stay cool this summer, and don’t sin. We hope to see you back in three months, ready to fall into place with the BWG’s next issue.
We are happy to announce the winners of our 2021 Short Story Award
With many thanks to our 2021 guest judge, Charlaine Harris
First Place ($250 prize and publication): “Good Cop/Bad Cop” by Trey Dowell of St. Louis, MO
This story will appear in our upcoming anthology, An Element of Mystery
Second Place ($100 prize and publication): “Blessed Are the Meek and Wily” by R. L. Blake of Northville, MI
Third Place ($50 prize and publication): “The Magic of Giving” by Kevin Sandefur or St. Joseph, IL
“Nanoni and Shish-ka-toomi” by Claire A. Murray of Phoenix, AZ
“Jacob” by William Sharon of Toutle, WA
Congratulations to all the talented writers who entered, and especially to our 2021 winners.
Watch this space for information about our 2022 Short Story Award competition which opens on January 1, 2022.
“A Good Man” by Dustin Lawrence Lovell
You can see the lake bed past the tabletops from here, he thought. Maybe not; the lake was dry this time of year, anyway. The man scoffed. It had been this time of year for the past several years.
Looking down at the quietly onlooking crowd, he saw faces as familiar as the old mesas. Some—especially the older ones, who had been in the town when he landed there as a young stableman—were similarly weather-worn; others who’d arrived after him had had their youth sweated out of them by the landscape. They could have left, returning east to report to families and old friends about their adventures into the western frontier. They had not; so much for that, he thought.
“Prayers on Our House Roof” by Amera Elwesef
We were boiling bananas on the roof of our house.
My mother’s laughter clutched the heart of my ears.
She was gossiping with her neighbor, knocking softly on my body with her delicious words.
Although my mother doesn’t know how to write, her telling is as sweet as poetry.
I loved to watch their tongues playing music that called a conversation.
My mother and her neighbor were working on their knees; their chests pumped gladly, their noses colored by the smoke.
For us boiling bananas equals praying
Also in this issue
Interview with author Peter Barbour
Short story by Dan Morey
Short story by D.T. Krippene
Short story by Margaret Kelliher
Poem by Deryn Pittar
Literary Learnings by Dianna Sinovic