NPR 3-minute fiction contest

So, I entered this: and I lost. You can go to that site and read what won, or you can stay here and read my losing entry!  The parameters were that it had to be less than 600 words and feature one character arriving somewhere and one person leaving the same place. Enjoy!


Take it or leave it, by Eric Filipkowski

“Excuse me, sir, could you hold the door for me?”

Chip looked behind him to see the elderly female letter carrier approaching, her arms overflowing with letters and packages.

“I’m sorry, do you live here? I don’t recognize you from the building.”

She stared at him for a long second.

“I’m the mail carrier. I work for the post office.”

“Or so you would have me believe. Who is to say that you didn’t just rent that costume to gain entry for nefarious purposes?”

“Is this a joke?” She asked.

“That’s what I would like to know.”

The awkward silence was interrupted by a new arrival. An attractive blonde girl in her early twenties approached the door.

“Now her, I recognize!”

He lifted his arm to allow her ingress. Once she was in, he ignored the protests of the postal worker and shut the door. He pretended not to hear her banging, while he addressed the blonde woman.

“So, I’ve never seen you around here before.”

“I just moved in. Don’t you think we should let the mail lady in?” She asked, as the banging was getting louder and more persistent.

“Nah, she’s fine. You’re just moving in? That’s interesting.”

“Why is that interesting?”

“Because I am actually in the process of moving out. It’s a shame, really. You’re just my type. I have a thing for attractive women.”

She rolled her eyes.

He looked her over. “Let me guess: you’re an actress. From somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, with dreams of stardom?”

“Close, Florida.” It was now her turn. “Let me try: you’ve been out here for 15 years, did some bit parts on TV, a few commercials, but you never hit it big and now you’ve grown tired of living in an apartment you pay too much for and your only joy in life comes from shitting on the dreams of the people who still have hope and love in their hearts. Sound about right?”

He was no longer smiling. “I would hardly say it was a few commercials. More like fifty. The other stuff was spot on.” The smirk started to come back.

“Can I give you some advice?” She asked.

“Isn’t this supposed to go the other way around?”

“I already know where to get head shots and never take my top off for an audition I see on Craigslist. I’m being genuine.”

“Okay, shoot.” He said.

“When you’re out in the real world, don’t be afraid to change it up. If this isn’t working for you, try something else. Try being a real person. If it’s been a while, you might be surprised when you see how people react to it.”

She smiled at him and turned to get on the elevator.

He stood there and thought for a second about what she had said. He opened the door for the mail woman and with an apologetic look, said, “I’m sorry about that, I really am. I don’t even live here. That blonde girl paid me fifty dollars to do that, but honestly, it wasn’t about the money. I was too scared to say no. She had this crazy look in her eyes!”



  1. O Captain! My Captain! Sorry for the Whitman shout out. In restrospect, it really makes no sense in this context, except for the fact that I just watched Dead Poets Society and really enjoyed the scene where Robin Williams rubbed his ass on the ground like a dog. His role as a homeless psycopath really taught all them drama kids like Jeff Bridges and that dude who plays Wilson from “House” how to kill themselves after revelatory performances as Puck from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” What I mean to say is that I love you, Eric Filipkowski, and where you been all my life? So are we gonna fuck now or what?

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