Fifty-five words. That isn’t much, but it’s all we gave you to write a (really) short story. And thousands of you responded, which didn’t make it easy for us to choose the very best. But we did it, and they’re published in this big book of little lit. From lust and revenge to triumph and tragedy, these diminutive darlings pack a punch entirely out of proportion to their modest size. Don’t get us wrong – nobody likes a good long read more than we do. But sometimes all you want is…well, a quickie. Just look at this QPB exclusive as all the quickies you’ll ever need.
The Quality Paperback Book Club was a group that offered high-quality trade paperback editions of books that would normally only be available in hardcover. Their selection was quite eclectic, running the gamut from fiction to how-to to reference and history.
In late 2000, the QPBC launched a contest for club members to submit short stories, which could be no more than 55 words in length. Up to 200 entries would be selected and published in an anthology that would be offered exclusively to QPBC members. On a lark I submitted two stories to the contest. When the deadline for notifying winners came and went, I assumed I had not had a story selected and promptly forgot about the whole thing.
Of the stories I submitted for the contest, the editors selected “Friend In Need.” I got the idea from a joke I’d heard a few years ago. Here it is, in all its 55 words of glory:
FRIEND IN NEED
“Thanks again for coming along,” David said, guiding the car along the treacherous mountain road.
“Anytime,” Matthew replied. “Is this about Julie?”
“She’ll die without that operation. We’ve only got my life insurance.” David held the wheel steady as the road began to curve.
“They’ll never suspect suicide with two of us in the car.”