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Happy Valentine’s Day, Deathmatchers! We saved our recap of Round 4 for this very special, corporately-sanctioned day of forced emotions because this particular round was a happy round. A nice round. And dare I say, a bit of a touchy-feely round. Contestants and commenters behaved admirably, gave constructive feedback, accepted said feedback humbly and threw around many compliments, with competitors Graeme Lottering and Jeanie Keogh even VOTING for each other. It was weird. Get caught up on this literary lovefest right here – and make sure to read the stories and choo-choo-choose one to vote for.

The Stories

Jeanie Keogh’s “The Offbeat” is a portrait of two aging bandmates who were once lovers but are now “all business” – most of the time.  Through clever language and bright fragments of observation, her main character considers the nature of romance, secrets, career choices and when to intervene with someone who doesn’t necessarily belong to you – but they do, kind of. Lottering’s “The King Beet” is a descriptive snapshot, capturing a moment in nature where a beet represents a lot of things, including the things that keep people tethered to cities. The vivid word choices in this story truly evoke a sense of environment and its surprisingly quirky ending is endearing.

Keogh’s story was praised for creative descriptions and the relatability of her main character, while Lottering’s was praised for being daring, both in tone and language. One commenter mentioned in a thoughtful moment that while “King Beet” was beautifully written, it left him with a sense of “what now?” Another wrote: “The Offbeat was strangely familiar, yet quirky enough to still be foreign to me.” Overall, these two stories are both strong enough that they seem to have forced our readers to step back from the snark and truly evaluate which one they prefer.

Comments:

There were many cute exchanges and ambushes in this thread related to phallic beets (phallic beats? DJ Penis?) moments of freestyle poetry from our excellent moderator Annie Wong, fragments of Dutch, something about dolphin punching, and a lot of pillow talk between our two competitors (get a room, ya mushballs!)

Graham’s versions of smacktalk were pretty great:

“I ain’t scared of nothing except for dysentery.”

And I’m not sure what was happening here, but it was funny:

“All this riding on a unicycle from cafe to cafe is tiring me out… Next step evisceration.”

I also like Jeanie’s rants, which seemed to get wackier as the competition went on. Exhaustion? Drunk with victory?

“Jerome, if you do know me, you know that I have never been nice and I never will be but nobody bloody well understands what the hell I am so I have had to adapt like a goofy smiling dolphin pretending to like life in an aquarium. Those stupid things should be punched.”

Anyway, great job to everyone for being such sports and making this a very productive round. Let’s play it off with some Cure, ’cause you cats are full of love.