A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 5: “E”

I’m participating in the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge. My theme: Six-Sentence Stories. EHemingway is credited with introducing six-word stories (“For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”) and since I can’t steal his idea, I’m taking the easier road with six-sentence stories. That said, it’s a much tougher road than I’d initially thought.

Day 5. Comes forth, E.


Sosuke Tanaka’s license said he understood the intricacies of preparing pufferfish: overcooked and you lose the taste, undercooked and you retain the poison. Two years of training and a rigorous test and now he prepared the tiger puffer in front of him for the man in the tan jacket, patches on the elbow, sitting at table 12.

He recognized the victim, sorry, customer at table 12 as J. Worthington Webster, editor at CollinHarpers. Tanaka, not one to forget a face or a name, had submitted his flawless cookbook manuscript to Webster six years ago and received a one-sentence rejection: “Didn’t make it past the appetizer.”

Took him six years, but Tanaka finally uttered his reply, albeit under his breath. “This time, Mr. Webster, you won’t make it to dessert.”



Writer’s Note: Not much time for backstory in six sentences, so quick lesson in pufferfish. Called fugu in Japan, it’s a highly prized dish there and you do have to be specially trained and licensed like Mr. Tanaka in today’s story to serve it. Despite that training, government figures in Japan say there were 338 cases of fugu poison cases between 2000 and 2009, 23 of which resulted in death. No word on whether Mr. Webster, above, was around to enjoy dessert, but he certainly wouldn’t get much help from yesterday’s dietitian!

36 thoughts on “A to Z Blogging Challenge – Day 5: “E”

  1. Hmmmm – this story couldn’t be an author’s fantasy, could it? Imagine the bloodbath that would ensue if every rejection letter triggered such a response! But thinking about it feels good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I’d be serving time — like the rest of my time — if this ensued after every rejection letter. Thankfully, you are correct, it’s only an author’s fantasy. Not this author, of course. Nevermore.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you, Donna, I hadn’t even thought far enough ahead yet for the “P” and Publisher. But you’re right, they might start to get a sense of dread working with me. I better make the Publisher a hero in the story, eh? Thanks for the warning! (I’m putting away the chainsaw and hockey mask now, so no worries.)

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      1. Haha. Hey, you have to live up to the reputation of crime fiction. At least we can rely on that word, fiction. We can, can’t we?


  2. Never tried pufferfish and now I never will. But as a writer, oooh, I understand. This isn’t six sentences based on true events, right? Ok. Just checking. You scare me a little, John.


    1. Ha, you’re funny Angie. I just learned that little trick with the link back to yesterday’s story. Now I gotta figure out if I can track it somehow. Because, ya know, all this extra time. NOT! I should be doing editing to my WIP next but instead I have to figure out how to kill a … um … I need an f-word. Yikes, no, not that f-word. Firefighter! Oh, I can’t do that. A firefighter would have to be a hero, right? And probably a romance. Egad, I gotta figure out how to write a six-sentence romance…


  3. Oh, I saw that one coming. I am such a mystery buff. Puffer fish always seemed like such a perfect murder weapon. I loved it. I’ve been bemoaning the A-Z challenge as it’s taking more of my writing time than I planned, but boy are there some good entries to read.

    Thank you so much for entertaining me.


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    1. I was just bemoaning the very same thing in my response above!

      I have a manuscript I should be working on and instead I have to figure out a way to kill off a firefighter. Oh wait, you were looking for a happy ending somewhere in the alphabet, weren’t you? Maybe F is the opportunity. If not, at least six sentences go by quickly.


    1. Haha, the firefighter lives another day. I died today falling off a ladder while taking a nip of whisky. The first responding officer arrives, says, “’twas the drop that killed him.” But somebody demanded a day off from crime, so we switched to the fisherman.

      Besides, now that I think about it, I’m doing this in homage to Hemingway, so it only makes sense to include a fisherman. Ah, The Old Man and the Sea. What a classic struggle. Now I feel like reading it all over again.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jane. I bet somebody dies tomorrow. But that’s only a guess, and I ain’t naming names.


  4. Good little tale John. One of my favorite Columbo episodes is “Murder Under Glass,” where the murderer is a French chef who uses fugu poison to do away with his victim. So, like Julie, I had an inkling of what was going to happen. 🙂


    1. You’ve mastered the art, Colin. Sneaking a twist ending by you will be like slipping the sunrise past a rooster. But oh, I wish Columbo was still on the air. Or back on the air. What a great show. And it never (I could be proven wrong) opened with the main character. We usually didn’t see Columbo traipse on stage in his wrinkly raincoat until after the first set of commercials. Yet another classic example of breaking the rules with genius. Good weekend, my friend!


      1. I don’t know about mastering the art, John. Flash fiction is fun, and some of my stories are good, but master? If I was, I’d have a heap of books from Janet Reid on my shelf from all the contests I would have won! And while it’s nice to surprise your readers with a twisty ending, good writing trumps all. And these are well written.

        Columbo certainly did break the rules. The first 20 minutes were all about the crime (usually a murder). Not only do you see who did it, but exactly how. The joy of the show was watching Columbo figure it out. One of my all-time favorite detectives.


        1. Well, you have at least two of those books on your shelf. And remember, the competition over there is incredible sometimes. I always think of EM’s holocaust tale. Wow. Shivers.

          My favorite Columbo, I won’t know the title, is when there’s a murder at the Sigma Society — their version of Mensa — and Columbo says at one point: I’ve been talking to the smartest people in the world, and I didn’t even know it. Classic line!


  5. It’s called “The Bye-Bye Sky-High IQ Murder Case” first broadcast in 1977. Not that I have them all on DVD or anything… *ahem*… 😀 And, yes, it’s a classic. Love that line too.

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