The Mona Schreiber Prize for 
Humorous Fiction and Nonfiction
 

Winners of the 2006 Mona Schreiber Prize
for Humorous Fiction and Nonfiction:


First Place:

1st Place, “Love Letter” by Nigel Macarthur, London, England:

Dearest Darling:

The hour has come when I can tell you what I think of you. How much I love you, I mean.

I long to touch your alabaster skin. Alabaster, that is, apart from the tattoo of Ronald Reagan. Undergoing his autopsy.

Your eyes are the purest…Well, for a comparison of your eyes with various gemstones, please see Schedule B of this love letter.

I love you more than I love the Internal Revenue Service or the government. When I think of you, my heart grows fuller than a drunk’s bladder the moment before he wets himself. Every hour without you seems longer than the president’s list of excuses for whatever blunder it is this week, and emptier than a supertanker a few hours after it has run aground on the rocky shore of a nature reserve.

Could I forget our first date? We watched the sun go down over the county penal farm as we walked along the road after the car had broken down. That night will be etched forever in my memory. The stars. The moon. The strip show at that roadhouse. I was breathless with excitement. At your presence, I mean. Or maybe it was the stripper. Or the cigarette smoke.

We walked on home and the constellations drifted gently above that cop who nearly became the arresting officer, although I still don’t think I was that drunk! I saw you to your door and waited while you closed it and your mother drew the four locks and seven bolts she only ever seemed to use when I was outside.

Our second date was…well, I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you at first. Your hair was a blonde waterfall. On that occasion, anyway. The following week, it was different.

Our courtship was perfect. Apart from that hit contract your mother took out on me. However, she finally withdrew it, so all ended well.

I remember the night I proposed to you. At least, I remember it now. It was all kind of hazy next morning, but luckily you reminded me. I’ll never forget your mother’s strained expression as you did so. Presumably, she had been afraid the opportunity would slip by and be lost.

The honeymoon was a dream. I could have danced the night away with you on that marble dance floor in the hotel ballroom. However, I decided to watch NFL football on the hotel sports channel instead. Yes, the honeymoon was lovely. You mother and two brothers also seemed to enjoy it, although we finally managed to get a little time to ourselves late that night on the beach.

Our lovemaking on that beach was frenetic, passionate and was interrupted only by the Navy SEALs amphibious landing exercise.

Then, as soon as it was time to go home, I realized immediately that I’d married into a generous family. Your mother was always promising to fund you, should you decide to divorce me. How I laughed, all the more so when she spent all the flight home reading that book of murder methods.

I can’t forget the warmth of your smile. It wasn’t me you were smiling at. It was the bodybuilder next door, but I still remember its warmth and tenderness. You light up my evenings with your laughter, rich and full. You laugh freely, whenever I take my clothes off.

However, you aren’t just a pretty face. You also appreciate wisdom, as you show when you tell your mother (so very often) that she was right, and that you realize now you shouldn’t have. I don’t know what it refers to, but it’s good that you see her wisdom.

It was also she, wasn’t it, who suggested you going into business by organizing those underwear sales parties? I’m not so sure that she meant men’s underwear, but you seem to prefer to do that, holding those parties whenever you have time.

So much of your time seems to be taken up these days with watching that film with Julia Roberts. Let me tell you, darling, you look every bit as nice as she does, and there is no need to spend so much time wistfully staring at her in The Runaway Bride.

I will be able to look into your eyes again as soon as I manage to convince the parole people here that it was your mother who planted the evidence that got me sent here to prison.

98.3% of my love,

Your Husband


Second Place:

2nd place, “Origami Hullabaloo” by Christopher Hivner, Dallastown, PA

I once took a class in specialized origami. This wasn’t making birds or butterflies out of construction paper. Our paper was sized by the hectare. It took 17 people to fold our lifesize alien spacecraft and various rudimentary vegetables.

The class was started by Mr. Yushi, a 61-year-old Japanese immigrant who came to America for a delicate nose hair removal operation and stayed 22 years, working as a teacher and part-time Slinky repairman. Then, he got deported. So, in the middle of the year, we got a substitute.

When I walked into class that night, I was so surprised, you could have knocked me over with a 20-ton industrial crane. It was my long-lost identical twin cousin, Larry.

Larry and I were born on the same day in 1980. We looked exactly alike and were as close as brothers until tenth grade. By then, my growth spurts were over, but Larry shot up nine inches in one year. One of his hands could engulf my head and his feet when he walked looked like waste barges chugging down the Susquehanna River. His voice dropped to an octave only earthworms could hear by absorbing the vibrations. We drifted apart and I hadn’t seen Larry for eight years.

“Larry, is that you?”

“Cousin!” he bellowed back, swallowing me into his amoeba-like body. “Where have you been?”

“I’m not hard to find.”

“Well…”

“My number is in the phone book.”

“See—“

“I still live above the garage of my parents’ house.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I haven’t left this town for even a day.”

“Okay, well, we found each other again. That’s the important thing.”

“I guess you’re right, Larry. But why did you stop talking to me in high school?”

“Well, I was better than you.”

“What?”

“You were still short and had a high-pitched voice.”

“What!”

“Yes, like that. Anyway, I had grown tall and proud with a bass voice. I have huge hands and feet and you know what that means.”

“That you’re a marginalized freak?”

“See, you were always jealous.”

“I can’t believe I was glad to see you again.”

“I can’t believe you’re in this class. As if you could understand an art form as demure as origami.”

“I can outdo you, Yeti!”

“Oh, yeah? You’re on!”

The battle lines were drawn. To help me, I bribed eight class members with bottles of cold Yoohoo and raspberry cordials. Larry took the remaining ten by hitting them repeatedly with a jagged stick. We worked feverishly, folding our massive sheets of paper. One of my team was trapped by a sharp corner and stabbed in the leg. I tried to convince him to stay with promises of glory and minimal insurance coverage, but he passed out from blood loss before I got to the amortized deductions.

I sent Mrs. Pradawatowidboto over to spy on Larry. She reported back at having seen a man in period clothing and when she described the outfit, I knew what Larry was up to. I quickly shifted gears from my original idea of the fat Elvis.

It was near midnight when we finished. Everyone was exhausted and covered in bloody paper cuts. Larry’s team walked their construction over confidently, pulling the cover off with a flourish. It was Edward III, King of England from 1327-1377. He stood majestically. A chain mail hood covered his head and he wore an ankle-length brocade tunic. His right hand rested on a lobed pommel sword. It was gorgeous and I had to give Larry his due. But I also knew that I had guessed correctly.

Larry’s love of English history, especially the kings, had betrayed him. I pulled my drape off and Larry gasped. I had guessed correctly which king was Larry’s favorite and had constructed the perfect foil: an 18-foot rat infected with the plague.

“No!” Larry shouted but it was too late. We pushed my rat over and it attacked Edward. The gallant king doubled over and collapsed. Larry threw himself on Edward, his tall, proud body wracked with bass-voiced sobs. In my heart, I wanted to go over and console Larry, but I knew he was too full of himself to accept my sympathy.

Besides, when I turned my back, the rat escaped and attacked the class. Six were already dead and for some reason had turned into zombies. So, we all had problems.


Third Place:

3rd place, “Fit to Be Tied in Fitness Rooms” by Kelly Aloe, Luddington, MI

Whenever I stay in a hotel, the first thing I do is scout out the fitness room. And much to my amusement, I’ve found that no matter how fancy or flimsy the hotel, hotel fitness rooms are all pretty much alike.

Welcome to Hotel Cleansheets. Where your comfort is our main priority.
For your enjoyment, we have a fully equipped Exercise and Fitness Room.
Our Fitness Room is located on the sixth floor.
Take the stairs.
Very rarely, if ever, are the stairwells locked.
Except in emergencies.

When you come out of the stairwell, turn left. Then make a sharp right.
No, that’s the ice room, silly.
Follow the signs.
If you cannot find the Fitness Room, go back to the ice room and have a snack.
Sit there until someone with a towel walks by.
Please do not take the towels from your room. There are towels in the Fitness Room.
Besides, it is not necessary to cover yourself up. The other guests paid good money to see you walking down the hall in your exercise clothes.
No, they always laugh like that. They’re jolly people.

To access the Fitness Room, you will need to insert your room key into the slot.
Not that way.
The other way.
Now, flip it over.
Not that way. The other way.
If you cannot make it work, bang on the door until someone lets you in.

Notice how spacious our Fitness Room is.
The mirrors cost twice what the machines did.
Be sure to look directly into the mirrors when you exercise.
Don’t get too close.
No, of course they’re not two-way mirrors, silly.
Our nine-by-nine Fitness Room houses three exercise bicycles and two treadmills.
One of which may actually work.  
At any given time.

Turning on the treadmill is easy.
If you have a college education.
And majored in Calculus.
With a minor in Engineering.
And a doctorate in Computer Physics.

If you cannot turn on the treadmill, call for an associate to help you.
Or a nine-year-old who plays video games.
If the Fitness Room phone is not working, you’ll need your cell.
If you do not have your cell, go back and get it.
Do you remember how you got here?
On the way to your room, stop by the front desk.
Ask the receptionist to send someone to the Fitness Room.
Maybe she has a nine year old.
If not, an associate will promptly assist you.
As soon as he’s off break.
We don’t know when that will be.
In the meantime, try meditating.
Please do not sweat all over the machines.
Wipe off your sweat with a towel.
Not your underwear.
We don’t care if it is clean.

The towels are stacked by the water cooler.
The water is changed on a regular basis.
Don’t ask us what that is.
We do not recycle paper cups.
On a regular basis, that is.

Occasionally, there will be obnoxious hotel guests using the Fitness Room.
Try not to be one of them.
If you are, an associate will promptly escort you out of the Fitness Room.
As soon as he’s off break.

Please use the machines for a maximum of 30 minutes only. Others may be waiting to use them.
We can’t imagine why either.
They must be desperate.
Or hung over.
Or they were out looking for the ice machine and got lost.

Do not do anything with, on or between the weight machines that could be considered illegal, immoral or in any way erotically motivated.Unless all hotel associates are on break.
You didn’t really think these are normal mirrors, did you?