The Piccolo Fiction Open has eight winners this year, out of 120 entries. The theme was “Sight, Seeing, Hallucinations, and Premonitions,” and that’s what reading through the stack of literary work was like. “Slick Stick Episode” by Carol Nyman (reprinted at right) was chosen because it is absurd and contrasting — it’s funny while structurally bare, and is built on some whimsy that is also an American institution. Most importantly, she writes with clarity and sticks the landing — without using the words “suddenly” and “you see,” and without having a weak surprise twist at the end.

Nyman lives in Summerville. Her story is the result of a writer’s group assignment, and she was encouraged to submit this particular story to the PFO by Audra Brown, a past PFO winner. We all agreed that it’s funny. All the PFO2006 winners are: “Toby and Bess,” by Cynthia Boiter; “Galileo’s Window,” by Jonathan Sanchez; “Lost and Found,” by Sue Lile Inman; “The Insomniac’s Ball,” by Wesley Moore; “Goat Bones,” by Eli Connaughton; “Taco Jesus,” by Barry Philips; and “Drink Any Deadly Thing,” by Ceille Baird Welch.

Some of these stories will be read in Piccolo’s Petite Performance Pavilion in Marion Square on Fri. June 2 at 2 p.m. and on Sat. June 3 at 1:30 p.m., by JC Conway, artistic director of the Stage and Screen Production Company. The stories will also be recorded for broadcast throughout the year by S.C. Public Radio’s “Your Day,” which starts at noon during the week. Check out for details about all seven years of the PFO.

WINNER: “Slick Stick Episode”
by Carol Nyman
A conversation with the mechanical engineer overheard in Batman’s garage area.

What is it? Batman asked.

It’s a pogo stick for two.

And what’s that?

The drive shaft. It has the ability to flex.

That’s possible on a pogo stick?

It is on this one, trust me.

Yeah, well, we’ll see.

The drive shaft flexes, it has some built in benefits that other drive shafts don’t have like being jet propelled. When the shaft flexes, it emits fuel that expands the forward motion considerably. Like you go ten times normal distance with downward motion.

This doesn’t sound possible.

Trust me. I’ll just add a few more features and zap it’s a two-man jet-propelled stick. I thought Bat2Man Slick Stick would be a good name. What’d you think? Maybe Slick Stick for short.

Interesting, but…

Just wait, you’ll see. Remember the Batmobile was a 1955 Lincoln concept car and look how I fixed it up! I thought of adding a turbo-drive automatic transmission, just like the Batmobile. I’m also working on mounting an audio approach microphone so no one can sneak up on you.

Have you thought about getting out of the Bat-tunnel? It’s not very Slick Stick friendly, especially in the upper realm. I assume the stick will be equipped with a Tracking Graph. How do you propose I see tracking locations while bobbing up and down?

Umm, good question. But I know the Bat-directional finder works. One thing at a time. I would like to install a Bat-zooka. I almost have it, worked out, but….

Yeah, just so it doesn’t fire off and wrap us in total chaos.

Gotham City is a large metropolis so having this Slick Stick will be a good addition to the tools available to you. It’ll take crime fighting to a new level.

Well the Bat mobile, copter, and cycle seem a bit more reasonable modes of transportation to be honest.

Just remember you will have the Emergency Bat-communicator somewhere on your body. That’s one backup plan already in place.

And that’s going to help … how?

Just wait, you’ll see.

Definitely will need thermal underwear, I’m sure. That is if I ever use this contraption. And probably will need the infrared goggles, if for no other reason than to keep my sight free from flying insects.

A few things to work out sure, but just wait you’ll see.
Several months later, Batman addressing Robin on their return from crime fighting.

That’s it. Park it! I never want to see or hear about that thing again. I can’t believe the Joker got away from us tonight. It was the stupid Slick Stick! It’s impossible and…

Yeah, it was rather rude. I mean, first we couldn’t get coordinated on rhythm. I was up you were down, then when we did get coordinated, we couldn’t see because our masks kept slipping. And at least once we were at the mercy of the Bat-directional finder until we could adjust. Well actually we had to make several adjustments.

It was humiliating! Did you see the Commissioner’s eyes when he saw us arriving? His chin was hanging to his knees and then he couldn’t stop laughing. Humiliating!

I know, even the goggles didn’t work because they fogged over. But next time if we put the goggles over the mask and leave off the thermal underwear, it might work out better. It was even more embarrassing because the police heard us screaming over the Bat-communicator. Maybe next time we can…

Trust me, there will never, not ever, be a next time! I certainly hope he can recycle the parts off that thing, because it’s history!

Batman stormed through the Bat-cave leaving Robin to deal.

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