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Napkin Fiction

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A napkin

When people think of writing on napkins they think of scribbled phone numbers or business ideas. Esquire magazine sought to raise napkin writing to an art so they asked writers around the country to be creative and write a story on a cocktail napkin. They received nearly 100 responses and shared them with Weekend America.

A few of the Napkins

"Sister Stella's Revenge," by Bud Wiser. Courtesy of Esquire.

I did what a lot of other sophomores at St. Andrew's High School only fantasized. I killed Sister Mary Stella.

The only one who knew was Father O'Brien. He couldn't say anything because of the "Seal of the Confessional." But, he made my life hell.

All I wanted was a "C" or a "C-minus." That's all the guys in the "Squires" ever wanted. Forget teenage rebellion. We were the elite...the cool guys. Our jacket emblem was a six-pack. We couldn't wear our jackets on campus, but everyone knew who we were. The only club insignia you could wear around school was a "St. Andrew's Club" sweater. And that wasn't a real club. It was for guys who averaged over 90% in every subject for the whole school year...the Nerds...the Geeks.

Sister Stella's exam was Sixth Period. I hadn't cracked a book. I'd cut classes. I was totally clueless. I was staring at a big fat "F" and the end of life as I knew it.

As the morning whipped by I got more and more desperate. I guess I flipped. But, I was out of options. I had no choice. After Third Period I slipped into the chapel and I prayed for a miracle...something, anything so the exam would be scrubbed.

I was in the cafeteria with less than two hours before the exam when the whole place erupted. "Sister Stella just died!""In the chapel.""She knelt down and just dropped dead."

I went numb. I was freezing cold. "I did it." I started to shake. It had to be my miracle. I was hoping for maybe a fire drill. But, she was dead. I didn't mean to but I killed Sister Stella.

That's when I really panicked. I told Father O'Brien everything...the test, the prayers, the miracle. I even explained about the Squires, the unwritten rules and what belonging meant. Usually, for your penance, you get a few "Our Fathers" and some "Hail Marys"...maybe a decade of the rosary. I got all of that and more...much more.

Every single morning before school I had to sneak into Father O'Brien's office and go over every bit of my homework. He even gave me extra assignments.

At the end of the semester it was all over. I was out of the Squires. I got four "A"s, a "B" and a "B Plus."

The next year I got a "Saint Andrew's Club" sweater.

I wore it.

"Napkins," by Larry Watson. Courtesy of Esquire.

The game was simple. The men were to leave the room while their wives blotted their freshly lipsticked mouths on party napkins. When the husbands returned, each was supposed to identify the napkins lip print belonging to his wife.

Stenson was sure he'd have no trouble picking out Maggie's small perfectly formed mouth. She often hid an imprint of her lips somewhere in his luggage when he traveled, and he'd keep that Kleenex kiss next to his bed in his hotel.

There--the lips on napkin #3. Those had to be Maggie's--the 'O,' the philtrum dip, the crease in the lower lip, the slightly fuller upper. But in the interest of keeping the game going, Stenson pretended he was having trouble deciding, just like every other husband who, amid the general drunken hilarity, was looking studiously from napkin to lips.

Then Hoaglaud changed the rules. The women were lined up behind the sofa, and first he kissed Alison McGowan. Then Holly Garner, longer and harder. Maggie was next, but Hoaglaud didn't kiss her. Instead he slowly inserted his finger between her pursed lips. She didn't bite him, as Stenson hoped. She took his finger, to the knuckle, mmming all the while. Everyone laughed but Stenson who, in a sudden rage to stop the game, shouted "Here--#4! That's Maggie's!" purposely choosing the lopsided wide mouth that couldn't be Maggie's.

Maggie whooped "I knew it! I knew you'd find mine!"


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