That’s not the way it went down.
It began with the audience cheering an Honourable Mention to Maggie Petrushevsky (Maggie Petru) and again when Joan O’Callaghan was named Third Place winner. I stretched my neck to see the Second Prize recipient Rob Brunet leave his table near the front of the hall to accept his award.
The applause subsided for the next announcement. The winning story is Reflections of Miss Sally.
I heard the words. At least I think that’s how the presenter announced it. Actually, the only words I was certain of were Reflections of Miss Sally. My words. The title I gave my story about a fading fan dancer back in the 40s and the hunt for her killer. My eyes bulged a little. For certain. Then Catherine Astolfo, award-winning author and Past President of Crime Writers of Canada, announced me as the winner of the Bony Pete Award for Best Short Story.
One of the two people at my table – her name was Andrea – nudged me. That’s you, she said. (Andrea if you see this, thank you for your cordiality during the conference) With that prompt, I stood. Shocked but thrilled, I weaved my way from the last table at the back of the hall to the dais.
I’m sure I wore a puzzled expression. I felt that way. I gave little thought to winning this contest. What were the chances? As a member of Crime Writers of Canada for less than six months, and this being my first Bloody Words conference, I wanted to take part in every aspect of the event. Of course, that meant sending a submission to the Bony Pete contest.
As I turned to leave, she asked if I’d like the box. I hesitated and then accepted. Without thought, I placed the trophy in the box and turned to the flash of a camera. I raised my hand in a thank you to the enthusiastic audience and made my to the back of the hall – all the while thinking of the picture taken of me holding a cardboard box covered in red tissue with white foam skull stickers.