Readings From Three-Minute Fiction Contest

We are in the home stretch of round six of our Three-Minute Fiction contest. Judge Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is reviewing the best of the entries. And while she does, we're bringing you weekly excerpts of some of our favorite stories so far. This week's passages are from two stories. First, "The Tiger Lady," by Jimmy Boyer of St. Simons Island, Ga., and "El Lloron," by Yovani Flores of Phoenix. The excerpts are read by NPR's Weekend Edition host Liane Hansen, and NPR's Felix Contreras.

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GUY RAZ, host:

I know, I know, I've seen the comments on the Three-Minute Fiction page at npr.org. I've seen the questions on the Three-Minute Fiction Facebook page. You're asking: When are you going to pick a winner?

Well, as many of you know, 4,000 stories came in this round. And at three minutes a read, that's 200 hours of reading, or eight straight days non-stop. Now, we have some help, of course, from students at NYU and the Iowa Writers Workshop. And we're getting closer to finding the one.

It's difficult, but until we do, here are some excerpts from two more that won a seal of approval from our judge this round, the novelist Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie.

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LIANE HANSEN: The Wynns moved to Atlanta about the same time that ferry got swallowed up by the marsh. I suppose that ferryman moved too.

Mr. Byrom was a gambler from Augusta. He arrived with all the other uppities one day, tallest man I've ever seen. His top hat gave him the look of a factory smoke stack.

He was the kind of man that made babies cry. That's just what happened too. Mrs. Mizell's baby was shooting tears straight out when he got near. The kind of man, you didn't look right at. Now, there he was, sitting right next to the Tiger Lady on the side swing, having tea.

Just weeks after Mr. Byrom's arrival, funny things started happening. Not funny like, knock, knock, who's there? Orange. Orange who? Orange you glad I didn't say apple? Closed bank accounts and cats, a lot more cats, that kind of funny.

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FELIX CONTRERAS: We could never weed out Papi's true stories from his half-baked jokes, which usually started out as a tale about a friend from work and ended with his over telling the punchline. He always said he was lucky to be second youngest, but only complained about not owning his own shoes. Yeah, me and Cano walked to school wearing the same shoes every year. He wore one shoe, I wore the other.

We knew that wasn't true, but we listened through to the punchline until Papi laughed himself to tears. During family gatherings, Papi's love of stories, told and performed through jokes and music, quickly led everyone to the kitchen, where he produced all of our yummy Puerto Rican meals.

Then, our living room became a transformed space, infused with cuatro guitars and congas beating softly to Afro-Cuban rhythms that weaved en clave between Spanish conversations. We sang the crying salsa rhymes of Hector Lavoe.

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Unidentified People: (Singing in foreign language)

RAZ: That story is called "El Lloron" by Yovani Flores of Phoenix, Arizona. And earlier, we heard "The Tiger Lady" by Jimmy Boyer of St. Simons Island, Georgia. They were read by our own Liane Hansen and Felix Contreras.

To read full versions of these stories and others, go to our website, npr.org/threeminutefiction. And that's threeminutefiction, all spelled out, no spaces.

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