Happy election eve to our American readers. On this strangest of Mondays, we hide from commercials, sling mud at family members with differing opinions, and silently hope the machinations of some secret society aren’t at work. We also read short stories.
With any luck, you’ve already read and voted for your favorite story. A few weeks ago we challenged David Webb and Lu Whitley to write about that strange and incorporeal idea we call luck. Whether it be in missing a plane that eventually crashes or winning the lottery, luck is often at the center of fate. Some people have it, others mostly get the short end of luck. The stories both feature gaining wealth but in very different fashions.
David Webb pulled some lucky numbers in “King of the World.”
Lu Whitley pushed her chips in with “Be a Lady.”
Let’s see what our judges have to say. If they are in agreement over the stories, then the popular vote doesn’t count. If they render a split decision, the popular vote will decide the winner.
Our first judge is Christina Durner, and she is a freelance writer based in Baltimore, Maryland. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and websites including Creepypasta, The Gunpowder Review, The Foodie Bugle, Examiner, and Fine Print. She also works independently as an editor. Christina loves to chat with readers and can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaDurnerAuthor/.
French poet Jean de La Fontaine once said, “In short, Luck’s always to blame.” Such is the case with both of the stories in this week’s battle. Luck can either work for or against you. But on rare occasions, as in each of our stories this week, luck can work for AND against you.
“Be a Lady” by Lu Whitley brings the world’s most notorious prankster, Loki, in the world of casino gambling. After our main character makes the mistake of referring to Loki as “Lady Luck” our poor card shark’s good fortune makes a turn for the worse. However, his main competition walks away with a bundle and the promise of more riches to come.
I enjoyed the humor of this story a great deal. It was written well and with an original plot. Lu Whitley has a wonderful writing style that captivates readers immediately. My only problem with this story is that it was not longer. I found myself wanting more.
“King of the World” by David Webb introduces readers to Tony, a man with his heart set on bedding the beautiful Nicola. So much so that he is will to do practically anything to seal the deal, including accompanying Nicola to a mentalist demonstration and hanging around in the back alley to get his autograph. Unfortunately for Tony, Nicola is going home with the mentalist instead of him. But not before the man gives him life changing advice.
After following said advice Tony feels that luck is indeed on his side and as a result buys a lottery ticket that wins him a bundle. However, luck is against the good ole’ U.S. of A. when the president makes some upsetting comments. And although Tony is living in his new estate, fitted with a bomb shelter. Bent on committing suicide after a round of bombings Tony discovers that luck is against him when the gun he finds is strictly for showcase purposes.
I enjoyed this story a great deal. Tony comes across as a good guy even though his motives cannot necessarily be considered the noblest. The plot is also original and enthralling. My only issue with this story was that I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea that Tony would resort to suicide so quickly (if at all) under such circumstances. I must admit that I have an affinity for tales of lottery winners who end up causing their own demises (see Battle 75.)
Each story had a unique approach to this week’s theme. Both stories were strong and provided characters that readers could identify with on some (if not all) levels. But I will be casting my vote in favor of the story that I feel is more polished and replete. That story is “King of the World” by David Webb.
Luck. When it’s good it never seems to last, when it’s bad it never seems to end; some people claim to have no luck at all. but in reality we’ve all been on both sides of this fickle mistress. How did our author’s luck out with this week’s prompt? Let’s see:
“Be a Lady” by Lu Whitley – Poker. I love poker. What better place to see the dual nature of luck, one person’s success is always another’s failure.
I liked the idea of the personification of Luck. That it would sit with one player for a while and make him go on a hot streak only to switch sides and let the hot hand go ice cold in an instant. It felt right.
The actual poker hands were realistic too. Too many times movies and stories go completely overboard and pit two monster hands against each other. The chances of that happening are so small.
The parts of the story I wasn’t really crazy about was making Luck be Loki. I’m not sure how it helps the story to tie it into Norse myth, especially when nobody else in the story cares. I also wasn’t sure how George sees and talks to Loki out of the blue. Hot Streak couldn’t see him, why can Georgie? And why does Loki agree to pay off George the money he lost? I was confused a bit.
All in all though, a solid story that meets the prompt and made me smile. Well done.
“King of the World” by David Webb – Wow, the beginning of this story could have been me in my younger days, not cool enough for the nightclubs and invisible to bartenders and women alike. Hit home in a slightly uncomfortable way.
I completely understood the way that Tony feigns his enthusiasm for an entertainer he doesn’t even know because a girl he fancies likes him. I love how he even starts to plan the way it will diminish through the relationship he is sure to begin by going with her to see them with her.
Everything seems to be going Tony’s way until Nicola wants to ask for an autograph and ends up catching Damien’s eye. I love that what Tony saw as the gateway to his relationship with here ends up being the reason why there will never be a relationship.
As a sort of consolation prize, Damien tells Tony the secret to making his own luck. Tony initially thinks little of it, as we all would I think, but when he decides to follow the advice things start to look up for him. A random hook up,. avoiding a bus crash, finding a ride home, even winning the lottery, everything is going his way. Right up until it isn’t.
I love how the good luck he is having ends up being his downfall in a way. His “luck” has him locked inside of a bomb shelter the day before global thermonuclear war breaks out. It might even be his luck that saves him from suicide later on when the only weapon available is “for display purposes only.”
The only real issue I have with this story is there really isn’t much time shown passing at the end. I would assume he has been locked in there for a while before attempting suicide but you can really only see a few days pass. Minor detail but worth mentioning.
This week gave us two great takes on the idea of Luck from two talented authors. It is always hard to choose between stories and it only gets harder the deeper we get in the tourney. This week my vote goes to the story that spoke to me more, that drew me in more. That story is “King of the World” by David Webb.
There you have it folks! David Webb has won the judge’s decision and is moving on to the finals! Two years in a row David has reached this mark. Will he be able to take home the gold?
Before we speculate on that, let’s see if the readers agree.
Looks like a strong victory for a British Battler David Webb. Lu Whitley is one of the greatest writers the arena has ever had compete and we wish her the best. There’s always next year, Lu! Thanks for the awesome stories.
Next week features the other semi-final bout. Whoever wins between Donald Uitvlugt and Thomas Mays will compete in the 2016 Writer’s Arena Tournament! Will the champ repeat? Or will Tom play spoiler? Come back tomorrow to find out.