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Pepe Silvia Browne
Jan 1, 2007

I won GACHADOME and all I got was this... uh, thing..?

I'm in.


Pepe Silvia Browne
Jan 1, 2007

I won GACHADOME and all I got was this... uh, thing..?

I got called into work this weekend and I'm not gonna have time to complete my entry. Sorry, self-disqualification.

Pepe Silvia Browne
Jan 1, 2007

I won GACHADOME and all I got was this... uh, thing..?

I am in and :toxx: as penance for my shameful fail last week

Pepe Silvia Browne
Jan 1, 2007

I won GACHADOME and all I got was this... uh, thing..?

One Final Weiner
1723 Words
Disease: Systemic Sclerosis

Red hadn’t suspected anything was wrong until the county fair, two years ago.

There, the annual hot dog eating contest had been the battlefield where he’d square off with his greatest rival: Ed “The Polish Monster” Senske. For nearly two decades, Red and Ed traded first place. Their closest competitors Albert Magnuson and Richie Cecchini had never come within ten weiners of either of them.

But last year, the homestretch hit Red particularly hard. The final two minutes were usually when he dug deep and summoned “Big Red” to inhale hot dogs with an unmatched focus and ferocity while his opponents struggled to swallow one or two more weiners.

Instead, he felt only rejection from his digestive tract. Each time a dog met his lips, an agitation gripped his esophagus with the force of a vice. The Polish Monster walked away with the trophy, and Richie Cecchini’s total nipped at his heels.


“Always thought it was eczema” Red stared down at the scaly skin on the back of his hands. He’d become accustomed to it. Over the years, there were different explanations from the doctors giving his annual physical for work. Probably stress. Probably something in your diet. Probably some chemical at the plant, make sure you’re wearing your PPE. He knew his father dealt with arthritis and didn’t think much of it when his joints started getting sorer and stickier. Red dealt with it the same way dear old dad did: take a few ibuprofen with a few more Busch Lights. Repeat as necessary, or until your liver shits the bed.

“There are options. We have medications that can help with the pain, loosen some of what’s building up in your system.” The doctor’s gray plastic pen tapped loudly against the screen protector on his tablet computer. “Absolutely no more contests. You shouldn’t be eating that garbage anyway-”

“What for? What do I need to worry about, colon cancer?” Red picked at the excess skin on his fingers. His cuticles were covered in tiny brown scabs from all the places he’d ripped in a little too deep. “I should go down to East Second Street, see if I can’t buy some of their medicine. Might as well now, right?”

“Look, I can’t give you an exact timetable. There are a number of factors. Your joints could lock up at the top of a staircase tomorrow and-” Dr. Landon stopped himself from veering off into wild speculation. Red already knew this was serious. “The way this is progressing, it could be anywhere from three months to three years.

"But the opening between your esophagus and your stomach is tightening, being systematically replaced with scar tissue. You are not doing yourself any favors by continuing to treat your body like a garbage disposal. Participating in an eating contest now would be like forcing the traffic of a four-lane highway onto a narrow dirt road.”

Red nodded his head, frowning solemnly and doing his best to fake quiet contemplation as Dr. Landon continued about setting realistic expectations while keeping high spirits on the path forward.

"Two months until the county fair," Red thought.


Danny's truck bounced on the untended stretches of highway that ran through the reservation.

"Goddamn! Someone needs to- why don't they fix 'em, again? Whose fault is it?" Danny kept one hand on the wheel while throwing the other up in exasperation at each pothole.

"Something to do with the natives not charging sales taxes, and the state not respecting the original treaty." Red watched out the window as the billboard for "Lowest Price Cigarettes in NY, NEXT EXIT" zoomed past. He would miss the large fiberglass chief waving to all those passing through. "Far as fault goes, I'm inclined to agree with the natives. Seems like they're usually on the raw end."

"Well, they should figure it out and fix the loving roads." Danny pulled off at the exit with the lowest price cigarettes in NY. His truck continued to bob at every dip and crack until it came to a stop at the gas pump. "I gotta take a piss. You mind pumping?"

Red didn't but asked for Danny to get him a few tallboys of Steel Reserve for his trouble. Danny frowned and headed inside. He had not fully accepted his brother's mortality, nor Red's reckless abandon approach to it all. Long stretches of silence plagued the ride after Red would state his imminent death as a matter of fact, or suggest he might like to try PCP before it was all over.

"You don't mean that," Danny had said. "First of all, you don't how that might exacerbate your uh condition. And then secondly, what about after, hm? What if you don't die, and gotta live with that? Look your nieces in the eyes knowing you've done- Or worse, you gotta answer for it. After, you know..."

"What, to St. Peter?" Red scoffed. "I think I'll be fine."

And Danny prattled on about how blessed he'd been to have found a wife that brought him back to the Lord. But it did get Red thinking about what he hoped happened after.

He thought of a day in October, during his senior year of high school. Red had woken up to an empty house and spent his morning getting stoned, eating cereal, and working on his car. Around noon, he drove to the high school and watched his younger brother play varsity football for the first time, even managing to get two sacks. That night, there was a homecoming bonfire. A massive tower of wooden pallets surrounded by young men and women drinking and smoking and being merry. Afterward, he drove around with Catherine Hultquist, and they ended up fooling around in his car while it was parked behind Mighty Taco. It was the first and only time he ever told a woman he loved her.

"If there is eternal paradise," Red thought, "it can't be much better than that."

Danny came out of the gas station with an off-yellow carton of cigarettes under one arm, holding a wrinkled shopping bag of beers with the other.

"No drinking these in the car though," Danny said as he handed Red the bag. "At least wait until we get to the hotel."


High Noon at the Chautauqua County Fair meant only one thing:
For the next ten minutes, an obscene number of hot dogs would be consumed.

Red was not participating in the jovial pre-game glad-handing between the likes of Richie Cecchini and the owner of Jamestown Carpet Center. He acknowledged his opponents with only a nod, sitting serenely at his gobbling station. He was there to kill a monster.

Ed Senske stood just off stage, loosened his belt and sauntered up to Red. "Hey there Red, I just wanted to let you know- well, Al told me what happened and I'm real sorry about everything. That's just horrible, isn't it?"

"Don't hold back." Red slowly stretched his cracked, scaly fingers - splaying them out wide and balling them back into fists over and over. "And whatever happens, don't stop. I want them to know it was fair."

"Gentlemen, to your stations please!" the owner of Jamestown Carpet Center announced through the PA system.

The Polish monster sat to Red's left. Pitchers of water and large glasses were brought to all the contestants. Before long, large white plastic trays of hot dogs arranged in pyramids sat on the banquet table between each man.

"On your marks! Get Set! EAT!"

One. Three. Seven. Red's pace in the first few minutes was unrelenting, swallowing weiner after weiner down his relaxed gullet. But Ed matched him dog for dog. Eight. Eleven. Fifteen.

With three minutes left, both men closed in on their twentieth frank. It was then that Red began to feel the stabbing he'd managed to stave off thus far. Some emergency response team in Red's stomach was closing the shutoff valve to his stomach. He pounded the table with his fist as hot pain seared through his chest, causing a fit of coughing.

Ed Senske stopped devouring his twenty-second hot dog mid-bite. "Jesus, Red. You alright?"

"KEEP loving EATING!" Red shouted, spewing bits of bun.

Red inhaled deeply through his nose before grasping two fistfuls of hot dogs, three in each hand. He began to munch in defiance of the pain. With each bite, he saw another letter being engraved on his headstone. Bite, chew, drink, swallow, cough, repeat. "Time to pave the dirt road. My taxes are all paid up."

By now, Richie, Al, and the few college fratboys who signed up not knowing what they were getting into had stopped eating. Ed Senske nibbled nervously, but quickly, as "Big Red" powered through double fisting half a dozen hot dogs on his way to the grave. In comparison, the "Polish Monster" looked more like the "Polish Mouse".

Danny watched his brother self-destructing in a frankfurter berzerker rage. Red had asked him that morning to go back to Buffalo, but Danny refused. He did not understand his brother, but he supported him and wanted to honor his final wishes. Not many are afforded the luxury of deciding how they want to die.

Big Red gasped after one final hard gulp. Thirty seconds remained on the clock. Twenty-six to twenty-four. Inside him, the pressure had begun to strain his digestive system. His stomach gurgled and screeched while the fire crawled up his throat. As Ed Senske took his twenty-fifth, Red grabbed one more with each hand. He plunged both into the pitcher of water.

As the final seconds ticked down, Red swallowed the soggy dogs whole. His eyes bulged and swelled with tears of pain as the bell rang. Final Total: Red - Twenty Eight, Ed - Twenty Five.

Red stumbled to the podium at the center of the stage. He opened his mouth to speak, and immediately began to vomit blood and masticated hot dogs. The coroner concluded that the immense pressure on the constricted opening caused his esophagus to rupture.

In subsequent years, the hot dog eating contest was canceled to avoid the unpleasant association, making Big Red the all-time champion by default. Danny keeps the trophy on his mantle and tells the story to his grandkids of Great Uncle Red, who died the death of a warrior.

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