You amazed us with your chatter and left us laughing at your wit. The hundreds of entries we received for this contest were varied and intriguing, filled with enough dialogue to complete an entire three act play. What made these dialogues stand out is how they told a story using two unique and distinct voices.

The winners are:

1st: The Foiling of Ezrael, Writing Demon by Pamelyn Casto of Granbury, Texas
2nd: Long Distance Call by Vivian Fransen of Scotch Plains, N.J.
3rd: The Woodsman Wonders by Julia Tripp of Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Honorable Mentions: The Great Potato Epiphany by Frank Fradella of Boynton Beach, Fla., The Last Lunch by Tanya Michna of Douglasville, Ga. and No Further Questions by Gerald Eisman of Sarasota, Fla.


1st PLACE - The Foiling of Ezrael, Writing Demon
By Pamelyn Casto

"Muses of eloquence, descend from Mt. Helicon to mortal depths. Whisper mellifluous wisdom in my ear."

"Pretentious twit! Mellifluous wisdom? Give me a break."

"Out of here, Ezrael. I need to get some writing done. I'd like to give you a break. Go take one, you demon!"

"Vanity-inflated sack of nobody! Do you really think the Muses inspire your insipid writing?"

"It's a figure of speech. It's tradition to call on the Muses. I'm practicing. I know I have a lot to learn. Leave me alone. I need writing practice.

"And talent, Midge Mind. A brain wouldn't hurt either."

"I don't need you to point out my shortcomings."

"My pitchfork, you don't. I keep you from writing stupid things. Remember
writing that piece you knew would piss off your mother? I stopped you from
writing it. Saved your ass, I did."

"I wasn't going to try to publish it. I wanted to explore a situation to see if it was worthy of a story. I'd fictionalize."

"You can't tell family secrets, Gnat Brain. Fictionalized or not."

"Some say explore taboo areas...."

"You don't know enough, Microcephalia, to explore anything. Take up a job
matching your talent. Like nose picking."

"Some people like my poetry..."

"Your poetry. A joke! You ever figure hourly pay for writing poetry? Takes you a year to finish revising one! The most you earned was $100. That'll get you a villa in the Mediterranean!"

"Stop. It's not easy getting published."

"Think about it. Writing novels don't pay much better! Chicken feed in most cases. Slave wages."

"I like writing. I've tasted a little success...."

"You got lucky and luck can't hold. Readers'll discover you don't know squat."

"Leave me alone. I want to brainstorm on scenes for my novel on eastern Kentucky. I think people will like it. I'm preserving a little history, a special language. and some special characters."

"Yeah, and you'll get your ears boxed when those people read what you've written about them."

"I'm writing with love for them."

"People don't like to be interpreted. It pisses 'em off using them in a story. Unless you make them heroes or saints. Even then it's risky. And you'll get in a lot more trouble if you go on with that Nazi Germany novel. You'll piss off scholars, piss off some Jewish people, some German people, you'll raise the hackles of..."

"Shut up! The story needs telling. An angle no one's seen before."

"Your pissin' off the whole world ain't no skin off my tongue."

"I'll write about you then."

"Fine. No one will believe you talk with a writing demon. They'll think you're crazy. Lock you up is what they'll do."

"Not if they're writers themselves. Besides, getting locked up will get me away from you!"

"Don't kid yourself. There's no walls or bars strong enough...."

"Let's make a deal."

"I've been known to cut a deal or two...your soul...your first-born novel...."

"Here's the deal. Leave me alone for just a couple of hours. Let me write whatever drivel I can come up with. Without your cruel criticism. Later you come back."

"Come back? I ain't leavin'! I like riding your dumb ass. You're a hack. A pretender! I'm here to remind you of it."

"Come back later and be my editor. Work on me then. You're so critical I end up with writer's block. Afraid to write anything."

"Nope. My mission's to stick with you. You don't know doodly. You'll make a fool of yourself, Bitty Brain."

"Listen, Big Mouth, I don't want to pull out the heavy ammunition, but I will. Remember that trip I took to Boston?"

"Yeah. You went to the Concord cemetery to 'commune' with Emerson and Thoreau. Commune! I thought my gut would bust from laughing. As if through
breathing the same air you could learn to write from them."

"But I also went to Walden Pond. While you were off bedeviling some poets getting ready to do a reading, putting doubts in their minds. While you were busy I went to Walden Pond and filled these silver-capped bottles with holy writing water. To protect me from you! I'll sprinkle some around and you'll temporarily disappear from my consciousness. If I use enough, maybe permanently. Trouble is, I don't know the formula, how much to use for what effect...."

"Give me those bottles!"

"Disappear and let me write. I don't want you to disappear completely; you do keep me sharp and sticking to a job. But if you force me, I'll start sprinkling. Who knows the results..."

"No! Not the holy water from Walden Pond! It's why Emerson could write as he did. Why Thoreau could too...the reason... They messed me up with that water! I almost drowned when a bunch of writers threw me into Walden Pond. But Ralph and Henry pulled me out. Then kept me suspended over this bowl of holy writing water they'd rigged up, modeled on the Salem ducking stools. When they decided I was a scold, they'd drop me in. I'd sputter and gasp for dear life. They kept doing it until I got away from them. Bigger demons than me had to take over with those guys. I was so humiliated, ducked and demoted like that. No! Don't use the water!"

"Get out. I'm uncapping the bottles...take a break while I write."

"Okay! I'll go take a nap or something. Put the cap back on! But I'll be back! I'll always come back. It's my job to keep writers from writing. Bind them up so tight they don't want to speak. It reduces the world's noise that way."

"Get!"

"But if I don't do my job, they'll send me back to that ducking bowl. Another demotion! I'll be assigned to an even lesser writer than you! BeelzeBubba, the big honcho writing demon from Texas, will see to it! I don't want to deal with BeelzeBubba! Cap the bottles! I'm out of here."

"Go in peace. Come back later when I can use your help. Oh sweet voices of the Nine Muses, sing to me now while Ezrael sleeps...."


2nd PLACE - Long Distance Call
By Vivian Fransen

"H-h-h-ello?"

"Hello, it's me, Vivian. Your daughter in New Jersey."

"Oh?"

"How are you feeling today?"

"Pretty good. Who is this?"

"It's me, Vivian, your daughter."

"My mother's name is Vivian."

"I know. That's why you named me Vivian. Because you wanted her to have a grandchild named after her."

"Oh?"

"Did you just wake up?"

"No, the phone was ringing."

"It's good that you picked up the phone to talk to me."

"Well, all right. I better go now."

"Wait. I want to know that you are okay."

"What?"

"Are you eating?"

"Not now."

"Are you taking your medicine?"

"I take those pills they give me."

"That's good. Do you sleep good?"

"My mother's name is Vivian. She had four boys."

"I know she had four boys, which was a real handful for you, the oldest child. You had to take care of your four brothers."

"I have a brother Leo and a brother Robert..."

"Have you heard from your brothers?"

"I better hang up now."

"Mother, I love you."

"That's nice." (click)


3rd PLACE - The Woodsman Wonders
By Julia Tripp

"I tell you Harry, it was the craziest thing. I ain't never seen nuthin' like it. Wait till Thursday night. The boys down at the Hall will be bustin."

"But I still don't understand. You actually saw this little one, in a red coat, runnin' away from her granny, screamin' an' all? Course, her people never has been, well you know...they's always been a few logs short of a cord, right?"

"Yeah, well, all I know is she wanted me to chop her granny up. Kept howlin' about how she was gonna get eaten. Wanted me to find her grandma for her, and Granny standin' there all the while, lookin' white as a ghost, and all tremblin.' Sad part is, I guess they'd been real close, her and the girl. The child used to pass me on the main path once a fortnight or so; always singin' a tune she was. Seemed happy enough. Gone looney now though, sad to say."

"So what happened in there, did the old lady say?"

"Just that she was restin' -- layin' on the bed, and the girl raps on the door an' comes on ahead in as the old woman tells her to. Said the child started actin' strange right at the start -- real twitchy. Kept talkin' of the size of things..."

"Size? Of what things?"

"The old lady's parts. You know, eyes, ears; kept on about her teeth even. Like she'd never laid eyes on 'em before. Hinted that granny wasn't who she ought to be."

"Eh? Must of been meanin' she didn't seem like herself. You know, like when you had that rash -- your face all swole up. You looked like Santy Clause hisself."

"No, not like that; even more strange. The child seemed convinced Granny had turned into some sort of forest creature. In fact, a wolf was what she claimed."

"What? You mean this old bird was all furry, pricky ears an' all?"

"Course not. Sure, she ain't no beauty, that were plain enough, but I didn't seen no fangs or fur. Maybe a hairy mole, and those hands; all gnarled up-like. But such things come to us all, don't they?"

"Sure do. But, how did it all end up? Did ya get the girl placated?"

"Yes and no. The girl she was still wild as could be, hidin' behind me, tryin' to grab the ax, yelpin'..."

"Like a tyke could heft such a thing as that!"

"Right you are. Anyways, there I am, holding her off the ax, tryin' to persuade the old lady to go back inside; her in her stockin' feet an all; when the son, the girl's pa, comes flyin' down the path, callin' the girl to him. He was blazin,' I can tell you."

"What then?"

"Well, her Pa took Granny back inside her place, and he told the girl to git on home, or she'd be right sorry!"

"Whoo, such doin's in our old forest. Not like it used to be. These times is strange for sure!"

"As you say. Only..."

"What is it ?"

"Well, I could have sworn I heard...ah, you'll think I been at the moonshine."

"Naw, not you. Everyone knows yer the stablest fellow in these parts."

"Maybe. But I could've sworn I heard growlin' and snarlin' from that cottage after the girl took off. Prob'ly my brain playing tricks. That girl spooked me fer sure."

"She sure did, friend. You best not tell that to the boys at the Hall!"

"Yeah, yer right there buddy. Don't tell no one, but I waited after, and I never did see the Pa come back outta the cottage. I'm thinkin' maybe we outta go an..."

"Geez, I think I hear the wife callin' me. Gotta run. Let me know whatcha find out. See ya Thursday!"

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