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The stories stumbled into Desdmona’s Erotic Story Contest offices like a parade of alcoholics to be locked up in a big city drunk tank on a hot St. Patrick’s Day night. The contest judges – Desdmona, PleaseCain, and Pulp Fan – shifted through the formidable pile of submissions to come up with a short list of their favorite stories. And then the real fighting began.

When the carnage was over, with the judges bloodied but not dead, ten stories were left standing.

Of course there are similarities in the winning stories – the stories had to be hard boiled, after all. But what is striking are the differences. The winning stories range from spy thrillers, like Curtis Hoffmeister’s “Wet Work,” to the humor of O’Neil De Noux’s “Like a Skank in the Night.”

There are main characters who are genuinely nice fellas, like Jon Kane’s “The Galahad Impulse.” There are main characters you wouldn’t want to be caught in the same state with, like the director in Chris Iovenko’s “The Last Gig.”

These stories also feature all the low-life characters you would expect in a hard-boiled collection. Hookers (“Tricked” by Michael Michele), strippers, (“Slutty Dead Girl” by JG Faherty), poker players (“Rude Awakening” by Patrick Meyers), and corrupt politicians (“Digitally Yours”, by Robert E Vardeman). They are all there, and more.

“Moonlight Drive,” by Conrad Stetson, takes a romantic notion and turns it on its hard-boiled ear. Jim Reader’s “Last Exit Before a Dead End” takes a most unlikely location (the desert of West Texas) and boils it as hard as an urban organized crime tale. And in all the stories, as you’re reading, it’s fun to speculate if the good guys turn bad, or if the bad guys turn good. You never can tell in these hard-boiled stories.

It was a good contest. A tough contest. The stories, top to bottom, were the best we’ve ever received. Our congratulations to the winning authors, and much thanks to everybody who entered a story.

As you would expect from a collection of hard-boiled erotica, some of the sex is very rough, and some of it is non-consensual. Readers, beware.

First Prize: Wet Work, by Curtis Hoffmeister

Here is the complete package. Strong characters and voice, sordid cynicism and budding romance, cloaks and daggers and the little frisson of reading knowing day-at-the-office spy slang, blended in a seamless story. An intriguing read, and as much fun the second time. A deserving 001, er, winner.

Second Prize: Last Exit Before A Dead End, by Jim Reader

Passion pulls the trigger in the town of Last Chance, Texas. The lady was beautiful, but deadly as a sidewinder, and Hoskins found himself dancing with death.

Third Prize: Tricked, by Michael Michele

She’s a graduate from the Riding Academy, a hooker working her next trick. He’s a businessman with a job to do. Sometimes when a man gets his hambone boiled, it changes his way of thinking. So make with the Edisons and go read it already.

Honorable Mentions

Rude Awakening, by Patrick Myers

As the fella sings, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” You play the cards you’re dealt and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you hit the gutshot before it hits you.

Like a Skank in the Night, by O'Neil De Noux

It was a dark and stormy night. Really. It was. A tempest of hardboiled sex, in the best tradition of over-the-top pulp fiction.

Slutty Dead Girl, by JG Faherty

Who is this guy? The scumbag P.I.: a cockroach who hugs the corners, avoids sunlight and slurps his morning rot-gut from a crusty coffee mug – only to emerge when we hard-boiled fans need a protagonist, and then he becomes a hero, if momentarily. Well ... nix the hero part. Does this guy even brush his teeth? Then, somehow, Faherty comes up with something even better: a girl who can stand up to him. A ghoulish pleasure.

Moonlight Drive, by Conrad Stetson

It’s a seedy world. The louses win. A dame may have the goods, but if she’s weak, she’s easy pickings. Men are ruled by two things: the almighty dollar and the almighty Johnson. But you can always count on sizzling hot sex. To get the skinny, read the story.

The Last Gig, by Chris Iovenko

Welcome to the seamy side. Brace yourself. When your eyes have adjusted, you’ll witness gripping, bare-knuckles action, and a man rising to do what he’s got to in a bad spot. Plus, evil clowns!

The Galahad Impulse, by Jon Kane

The south view of the doll from the east when she was walking north would make a man turn to hard liquor—or at least convince him he’s suddenly a superhero. Maybe he is, and she’ll melt in his arms. It’s a swell piece.

Digitally Yours, by Robert E Vardeman

If the world is rotten to the core, this worm’s going to get his bite. The narrator’s an enterprising critter, although you wouldn’t have him over for Thanksgiving dinner (the mustard on the tie should be a tip-off). This one strokes the Chicagoan in me: scandal and corruption follow definite rules – only they’re not posted above the counter.

When you’re done here, take a peek at the winners of our other contests.

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