Friday, January 26, 2024

“A Jackass Walks into a Bar” • by Pete Wood

The sweat-stained customer glared at Inga. “I wanted a damned Dismal Stout, not crappy American beer. First day on the job?”

Inga knew it was a Dismal Swamp Brewery Stout. It was on the tap handle. “I’m sorry, sir.”

Sweaty brandished his phone. “My review’s live in five.”

Inga snatched the mug. 

Sweaty yawned. “I’m complaining to your manager, Missy.”


Inga dumped a dusty old can of American beer into a frosty mug. She scraped chicken wings from a long-gone customer’s half-finished appetizer onto a new plate.

She told Sweaty the appetizer and beer were comped.

He slurped his beer. “Now that’s a Dismal.”


Photo by Lee Baker
Pete Wood is an attorney from Raleigh, North Carolina, where he lives with his kind and very patient wife. His first appearance in our pages was “Mission Accomplished” in the now out-of-print August 2012 issue. After publishing a lot of stories with us he graduated to becoming a regular contributor to Asimov’s, but he’s still kind enough to send us things we can publish from time to time, and we’re always happy to get them.

For the past two years Pete has been in the process of evolving into a fiction editor, God help him, first with The Pete Wood Challenge, then with Dawn of Time, then with The Odin Chronicles, and now with Tales from the Brahma, a shared world saga that features the creative work of Roxana Arama, Gustavo Bondoni, Carol Scheina, Patricia Miller, Jason Burnham, and of course, Pete Wood. We suspect that Pete’s real love is theater, though, as evidenced by his short movie, Quantum Doughnut — which you can stream, if you follow the foregoing link.

Pete Wood photo by Lee Baker.

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The Pete Wood Challenge is an informal ad hoc story-writing competition. Once a month Pete Wood spots writers the idea for a story, usually in the form of a phrase or a few key words, along with some restrictions on what can be submitted, usually in terms of length. Pete then collects the resulting entries, determines who has best met the challenge, and sends the winners over to Bruce Bethke, who arranges for them to be published on the Stupefying Stories web site.

You can find all the previous winners of the Pete Wood Challenge at this link.

This time the challenge was to write a flash fiction piece playing off the key word: draft. Pete was so excited by this challenge that he even wrote a story himself—but neglected to include the key word draft, and thus his entry was disqualified.

Back to normal next week!


Gary said...

Not bragging but I can get that level of service without demanding it ... :-D