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Literary Maneuvers November 2020: The Shop on the Corner (1 Viewer)

Harper J. Cole

Creative Area Specialist (Speculative Fiction)
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Literary Maneuvers, November 2020

"The Shop on the Corner"

650 words, deadline 23:59 GMT / 18:59 EST, Sunday, 15 November


This month you will be following the prompt:
The Shop on the Corner

Pick your own title, write about whatever you want, as long as it fits the prompt. You have 650 words of fiction in which to do this.

If you win, you'll get a badge pinned to your profile, plus the chance to write for our Feb 2021 Grand Fiction Challenge which carries cash prizes.


The judges this month are SueC, -xXx-, BfB and myself. For those interested in judging, let me know via PM or in the new Coffee Shop. If you wish to know more about scoring, take a look at the NEW JUDGING GUIDE which also includes a template to use for your scoring. Please use this template for consistency.


All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the LM WORKSHOP THREAD.

All anonymous entries will be PMed to myself and please note in the PM if you want your entry posted in the workshop

Lastly, why not check out this ancient text on how to best approach this task.


  • All forum rules apply. The LM competition is considered a creative area of the forum. If your story contains inappropriate language or content, do not forget add a disclaimer or it could result in disciplinary actions being taken. Click here for the full list of rules and guidelines of the forum.
  • No Poetry! Nothing against you poets out there, but this isn’t a place for your poems. Head on over to the poetry challenges for good competition over there. Some of us fiction people wouldn’t be able to understand your work! Click here for the poetry challenges. Play the prose-poem game at your own risk.
  • No posts that are not entries into the competition are allowed. If you have any questions, concerns, or wish to take part in discussion please head over to the LM Coffee Shop. We’ll be glad to take care of your needs over there.
  • Editing your entry after posting isn’t allowed. You’ll be given a ten minute grace period, but after that your story may not be scored.
  • Only one entry per member.
  • The word limit is 650 words not including the title. If you go over - Your story will not be counted. Microsoft Word is the standard for checking this. If you are unsure of the word count and don't have Word, please send your story to me and I'll check it for you.

Everyone is welcome to participate, including judges. A judge's entry will receive a review by their fellow judges, but it will not receive a score, though some judges are happy to let you know their score for you privately. Please refrain from 'like'-ing or 'lol'-ing an entry until the scores are posted.

Judges: If you could send the scores no later than November 30th it will ensure a timely release of results. Much later than that and I will have to post with what I have. Again, please see the Judging Guidelines if you have questions. Following the suggested formatting will be much appreciated, too.
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Senior Member
Shoppe on’t Corner @550

Aside the door, all shiny, the brass plaque proclaimed Regional Confectioner Semi-finalist 1967. It were said in legend how folk rubbed plaque for luck.

‘Barbara, go outside, polish our plaque,’ said Stanley. Quarter to six in the morning, the rush of interesting customers impending: the folk, visiting for Players cigarettes, for copies of Herald, for Mirror, any moment now. Stanley became impatient:

‘Woman, get out there in snow!’ he bellowed. ‘Jesus Christ.’

Barbara shuffled out in her slippers, she pulled the white coat close around the chest.

‘Are you smoking, Barbara?’

For goodness sake, you could not get staff these days. He’d married Babs right enough, saved her from that dreadful family. But had she? Had she really lived up to ambition for a franchise of confectioners?

Factory hooters blasted long toots. Stanley checked his pocket watch. His own bell tinkled.


‘Embassy,’ demanded Arthur Thwait, his arm stretched like Mussolini. A longstanding visitor to premises, a regular in the vernacular.

‘Turned out nice again,’ said Stanley.

‘It’s snowing, you berk,’ Arthur replied, he turned for home.

After rush hour came wives, then mid-afternoon, children arrived for gob-stoppers, liquorice and comics off shelves. Barbara busied herself back-office with minor paperwork, accounts and the like. Stanley supervised children, the little thieving bastards.

‘A quarter of aniseed cubes, please,’ said the child.

‘Quarter?’ said Stanley, ‘you robbed a train?’

He reached for the jar, weighed a quarter of sweeties upon the scales, followed eyes of this youngster in observation.

‘There we are, exactly quarter, my young fellow.’

The lad hopped on plimsolls.

‘Oh dear,’ said Stanley, and he removed one sweet from the pile, popped it into his own mouth for the ‘safe-keeping and for income tax,’ he crunched.

Indeed, this were a grand life serving the community.

Colliery closed. Children grew into adulthood. Patels invaded from Uganda. A catalogue of disasters in the trade.

Some point, some health-official, decided even cigarette smoking were injurious to the health. Barbara packed it in. In his protest, Stanley embarked upon a habit of smoking. He never indulged before, but stocks remained plentiful, a perk of vocation.

Nobody purchased newspapers.

Stanley stood behind his counter.

‘Barbara, polish the bloody plaque. Barbara!’

Stanley twisted, perceived his wife hunched at the backroom table. Cobwebs stretched from her rollers down upon the pencil nib. Stanley shook his head.

The bell tinkled. A man, bearded and feminine in our modern sense, approached toward their counters.

‘I know thee,’ said Stanley.

‘Perhaps not?’ said the man. ‘But I thank you now for inspiring my rise in property portfolios, principles I learned at your kneecap, so to speak, many many moons ago.’

‘…kindly,’ said Stanley, he tipped the imaginary forelock.

‘Only,’ the man continued, ‘you have been dead fifty years, exist in my memory only. Take my hand, come, brother, drift on wind.’

‘But Barbara needs me.’

‘Bring your Barbara.’

Barbara’s bones rattled in some semblance of dignity, she clattered over tiles. Hand in bony hand they passed through the door that tinkled. They rubbed the plaque, followed a discarded newspaper once housing a portion of chip potatoes. They gripped brickwork in a last long-lingering longing.

‘Goodbye, ‘ they said, and kissed for the third time ever, and drifted on wind among ancestors and memory and the dust.
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Senior Member
Pauper's Prices ($649.00 Words, No Returns, All Stories are Final)

The shop on the corner was filled with plump delectables, fashionable weapons, waterjugs, snuff, incense, caged alleyway cats, despondent canines, chained monkeys, human slave labour, silver utensils and magical beans. The merchants indoors accepted barterment and insult but never, under any circumstances, the crass simplicity of hard change. My first time there I’d slapped a big ol’ fifty onto the counter and grinned. Like what you see? Instead, the banded mummy creature groaned, extending his arms in what I thought the usual affair for mummies but which only did I realize too late was meant to seize and choke me. It took the battering of my fist and the assistance of a nearby parrot to loosen his grasp, afterwards leaving me alone to gag, cough and spit up the phlegm of my embarrassment. Sheesh! I’m sorry, man. The pirate who’d saved my life walked on over both he and his parrot to allay me then the creeds and sensibilities of the corner shop people. No cash, no capital; trade, beguilement, inquiry as to familial whatabouts, silver tongued wit and a firm handshake commemorating the deed as done.

“So…” I said. “Razzle dazzle?”

“Aye,” said the pirate. “Razzle dazzle.”

I had never liked my boss nor, it should be stated, the machinations of civil society. On a cool evening after work I followed him home and abandoned pretense when crossing paths in an alleyway. “You?” he asked.

“Me,” I agreed, and unbottled dormant capacities of strength and violence while knocking his head first against the wall, then onto the pavement, then finally into the exterior of a nearby dumpster. Gagged, bound and blindfolded, I dragged him to the shop, pushing past the curtains into an impossibly spacious world of wonderment and trumpeting elephants that I might find something of equal or, courtesy my salesmanship, greater value. I paused at an intersection for passing tortoises, bobbed and weaved under the slow and majestic perambulation of galavanting giraffes, and hitched a ride, at last, upon the undulating tops of airborne jellyfish. Finally I made way to the stall of the pirate and, with gusto, slapped down a big ol’ CEO and grinned.

“Like what you see?”

The pirate stroked his beard. “Aye, I could use more men for me crew…”

“He excels in upper management, coinage accrual, and manipulating the self-esteems of seafarers when they begin to regard themselves as living beings deserving of dignity and greater pay.”

“Yar!” The pirate slammed his fist into his open palm. “What ye want for him?”

“I’ll take that parrot!”

“Yar? What ye want me parrot for?”

“It saved me life!”

“Ye dare culturally appropriate me colloquialisms?”


The pirate clasped his bulbous belly and guffawed. “Reckon ye fancy me parrot some sort of memento, then?”

“More or less.”

We shook on it, the parrot hopping off the pirate’s shoulder onto mine, the pirate shoving my former boss into a gargantuan treasure trunk and burrowing holes into the top that the newly claimed bounty might enjoy scant passageways through which to breathe come the next voyage. I made off for the mummy, finding him sequestered inside his stall of ornamental corpses, jewels and gilded dung beetles.

The parrot thudded against the surface with a squawk. “Like what you see?”


“I’ll take the beetle.”

We shook on it, albeit slowly, the parrot screeching as the mummy cracked open its skull and the beetle rolled effortlessly out the uncorked bottle into my palm, skittering off my arms into the crowd before reappearing minutes later bearing a perfectly rounded sphere of gilded dung, made up of blood, detritus, skin cells, human shit, even bits of freshly masticated avian sinew slowly dripping from the mummy’s gaping maw. I regarded the myriad stalls and grinned with newfound perception. It seemed obvious once you’d learned it; be it in life or in business―

People will buy all sorts of shit.
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