Flash Fiction Contest: Hans Zoff and Bea Ware

Write a story about Hans Zoff and Bea Ware
and the best story wins the drawing on the right 
This contest closed Monday November 8, 2010

The crazy mixed up world of Hans Zoff and Bea Ware  
by Matt O' Malley was the winner.

Hans Zoff and Bea Ware
10"x8" oil on masonite panel

    Hans Zoff and Bea Ware,
12"x9" graphite on paper
Click on pictures to enlarge.

The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.  Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at with your info.

The contest closes Monday November 8, 2010.

There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.  E-mail it to me at

Go to my website for more contests:

Winning flash fiction stories will be integrated in with an exhibit in San Francisco at ArtHaus Gallery (April 8th for the reception). 

The show is called: Renovated Reputations: Paintings and Fiction inspired by Vintage Portrait Photographs

The exhibit will include a series of 20-40 paintings and mixed media works ranging in size from 8”x10” to 18”x24” framed with thrift store and vintage frames.  In addition to the exhibited works ArtHaus is publishing catalogs signed by me and as many of the authors as possible.  Catalogs/books will consist of image of the painting with the text of the “flash story” surrounding the image.  If I can get the authors to come to a book signing/party, authors would sign their pages for some of the printed stuff.

We're going to have a photobooth for the show for participants to play with and vintage costumes. 

Of course I'll send the authors free copies of the catalogs.

I will announce the winners the day after the closing deadline for the competition. I'm planning on doing one flash fiction competition a week every Monday from now until April.  You can preview the works I have so far completed here:

(If the conditions in the side bar are not to your liking, I'm totally flexible.  Send me a contract that you like and I will mail it back to you.  I just don't want to chase people for signatures when I publish the catalog!)  

Also sent to me by e-mail.  


His name was Hans and he was a hustler, you know. Cards mostly, in dim back rooms where the drink is cheap and the air is hung heavy with smoke, and the men there are none too bright, and the House always wins. And he did pretty well for himself. Never so big his winnings that the House was ever alerted and he was roughed up some and thrown from the premises into the street, but always enough he could afford a new coat when he’d a mind, and cigars in boxes, and champagne from France and a room at The Excelsior, though the name makes the place sound a lot grander than it really was.

He wasn’t the kinda guy that’d turn your head, not really, except that he wore a fedora hat and he wore it like he was somebody. But he weren’t nobody, you know. He was just a low life, see, something that crawled from under a stone one day, and just my luck it was my bed he crawled into, leastways that’s what I told the police in a statement they took.

Oh we had a time of it at first, me and Hans. Pretended like it was something that we had, something special. He was all soft words and smiles. To start with he was. And candy wrapped in too-big ribbons and flowers filling the room, all sorts, roses and lilies and lavender, and the air so thick with the perfume it made me breathless and dizzy.

Course he thought he chose me, that’s what I let him think, what I let ‘em all think. Truth is I followed him to a bar one night and I worked it so he’d buy me a drink, laughed at everything he said and played a lock of my hair through my fingers, played him, too. Men are easy that way and one thing led to another, as I knew it would, and then we were together. That’s us in the photograph, right at the start of things, back when he couldn’t keep his hands off me. Spent a whole day in bed once, folded in his arms, the window wide so we could hear the traffic on the street. And we ordered room service and ate like we was royalty, if ever royalty was to stay in a room in The Excelsior.

But looking at that picture now I see it is a lie. And just maybe he hustled me after all, that’s what I think, looking at his smile in that picture. Only he should’ve known. The House always wins. Found him two nights back, and he’d had a run of good fortune, that’s what he said, and I could have it all, he said, and he showed me that his pockets were full with what he’d won. And he smiled that same smile, the one in the picture, and his hands reached for me instead of her, instead of the girl he’d bought for that night. And I almost faltered, such was the charm of the man. Even staring down the barrel of a Ladysmith 9mm he could smile like he meant it.

‘Come on, Bea, you and me, what do you say, like always, and I got enough we can bathe in champagne if you like, and I could buy you a bloody flowershop, and a dress shop too. What do you say, Princess.’

Only there was three of us in the room, and if only she’d have run, just maybe it would have been different, but she didn’t and there were flowers in the room and boxes of candy big as bread baskets, and the window was thrown wide and he wasn’t wearing clothes and she wasn’t neither. So it was what it was, see, and I had no choice, and that picture of him with me, the two of us smiling, it’s in all the papers now, and I got me an expensive lawyer and he says he’ll do right by me, and he’d better.
Sent to me by e-mail.  This one made me laugh.  It's very punny!

The crazy mixed up world of Hans Zoff and Bea Ware  by Matt Omalley
It was a normal evening in the coastal noir lit laundromat, Coin in sense.
Bea Ware was alone and engaged in a detective novel, Coastside Detectives: The Grand View, when something caught her attention on the street. It was a man, a rather dapper looking man wearing a gray fedora and raincoat. He was at the rear of a black Studebaker working on opening the trunk. Bea drank him in and he seemed so thin she imagined the drifting evening fog might tip him over. The man looked up from what he was doing and stared into the shadow filled laundromat. His piercing blue eyes seemed to see right through Bea and when he smiled and hoisted a navy white duffle bag onto his shoulder Bea could not help but blush.

The man entered the laundromat and paid no attention to Bea as his hard-soled leather shoes echoed upon the checkerboard floor. Bea watched his every move.

When the man reached her washer, he stopped and gently placed his hand on the lid.  Bea watched as he touched the washer’s smooth white skin, the lid that seemed to pulse to his touch. Bea took a shallow breath.

The man dropped his load to the floor, opened the lid of the washer next to Bea’s and took his soiled underwear and garments from the duffle bag to fill his washer. He was adding soap when Bea’s washing machine stopped. She immediately headed for her machine.

“Excuse me.” Bea said as she accidently bumped into him on purpose.

“Well hello.” The man replied. “My name is Hans, Hans Zoff, and you are?”

Bea’s golden locks fell cinematically off her face as her pouty lips formed the words “Bea Ware.”   

Suddenly, Hans’ washer stopped and metal shutters dramatically unfurled from above the windows and entryway of the laundromat: sealing the building from the outside world.

Bea and Hans both ran to the door and started banging on their steal cage with their fists but it was to no avail. They were trapped.

“We’re trapped!” Hans exclaimed as he held Bea by the shoulders. For a moment, their eyes locked and the same fire Bea felt seemed to fill his eyes. Her chest heaved as she took a deep breath then suddenly, cackling laughter filled the air.

They both looked deep into the room: past the washers and dryers and from the shadows commanded a heavily accented voice, “Hands zoff, zee briefs!” 

Bea gasped and Hans pulled her to him, his firm hand held her waist. Together they walked, as if joined by the hip back to Hans’ washer where the same voice issued another command, “Zat ist far enough!”

From the shadows emerged a devilishly tall bald man in a Nazi uniform, wearing a monocle and holding a luger.

“So ve meet again!” The man holding the gun exclaimed.

“Yes,” Hans replied, “Indeed we do.”

Bea looked into Hans’ face. She could see he was tense, “Who is he?” she asked.

“It is none other than,” Hans grimaced, “Herr Kalvin de Kline: Nazi sympathizer, and brief marauder.”

Bea gasped.

“Yes, it is I.” Acknowledge de Kline, “Your briefs, please.”
“You cannot have them.” Hans replied. “Not as long as I have one breath left in my body, not as long as there are free men in this world willing to fight for justice and what is right, not as long as there is even one man on the street, begging for a bit of clothing to keep his nuts warm, the ones that some passerby gave him from the goodness of his heart, will you have these briefs!”
Bea looked into Han’s face, so admirable, so strong, so gallant…but stupid! “Will you take mine and let me go?”  Bea stepped away from Hans lifted her dress, pulled off her red satin underwear and tossed them to the Nazi.

“No!” de Kline declined the offer. “Ze briefs!”

Hans smirked and reached into his coat pocket and retrieved some folded pieces of paper, “These?” he asked as he held them into the air.

De Kline nodded yes.

“Then take them.” Hans said as he tossed papers into the air.

“Nooo!” de Kline screamed and dove to grab the documents. In an orchestrated move, Hans lifted the lid on his washer, pulled out a handful of wet clothes and threw them at de Kline. The gun went off, the lights went out, and Bea found herself knocked to the floor, screaming in unison to the sound of a struggle, washers being hit by flailing bodies, then the opening of some sort a door. Her screaming didn’t stop until she felt the warmth of soft lips pressing against hers.

“What happened?” she managed to say between kisses.

“He got away.” Hans said as he retrieved a small flashlight from his pocket to illuminate the room and a trapdoor in the checkerboard floor. They stood up, but Hans was limping and Bea had to swing his arm over her shoulder for support. They smiled at each other and walked to the trapdoor. 

Hans found the latch, opened the door to reveal a wooden ladder that disappeared down a shaft and into the darkness. They could smell the ocean and hear waves lapping at the struts of the pier.

Hans shined his flashlight down and illuminated the crown of de Kline’s head. He was in the tower of a mini sub, about to close the hatch. “Until we meet again” Hans shouted.

De Kline, looked up, smiled, saluted with the folded pieces of paper in his hand, closed the hatch of the sub then melted into the ocean.

“He has your briefs?” Bea cried as she looked into Han’s eyes.

“No my dear” Hans said, “No man will get my briefs, for I keep them safe and secure and hidden, in my pants. He just has some folded pieces of blank paper.”

“Oh. Hans!” Bea cried.

“Oh. Bea!” Hans said. He pulled her close and kissed her deeply.


  1. The End of a Beautiful Day by Kris Cleave

    Hans. Oh he is wonderful man, but, we don’t see each other anymore.

    Oh, you want to know why? It’s very personal and since we run in the same circles I am a little afraid to tell you.

    Yes. I know you’re discreet.

    Since you insist, I’ll tell you.

    We had a wonderful day. Hans took me to the matinee. It was a scary movie and this gave me the excuse to hold his arm and snuggle my face against his shoulder. It was a wonderful smell, cigarettes, popcorn, aftershave and the smell of his wool overcoat. Very romantic and he is European. At that moment I was sure that he was the one. His wonderful manners and smile have always charmed me. We kissed.

    It was a nice kiss and we kissed more.

    No. He was a perfect gentleman.

    After the film we walked around some, browsed the books at the local shop. I asked him up to my place for coffee so we walked back to the apartment. A note was on the table; Mother had just baked, and was off to the corner market to pick up a few things. Before our date, Mother asked me to bring Hans up so that she could meet him. In her absence she left us plate of cookies. Hans sat while I went to the kitchen to perk some coffee.

    Yes, he stayed at the table.

    We were out of cream and mother wouldn’t be back for a while so I went next door to borrow some. Hans asked me where the bathroom was. I heard him go into the bathroom and chatted with Mrs. Salganik as she poured me a tea cup of milk for our coffee. Poor Hans! The bathroom door does not latch very securely. Someone entered the lobby downstairs and created a draft and just as I could hear the lobby door shut, the sudden air pressure swung the bathroom door in. Mrs. Salganik and I stood there shocked. There, seated on the commode, in full view of the front door sat Hans.

    Yes, his pants were down!


    The bad part was that he was holding a pile of laundry from my hamper up to his face with his nose buried deep in the fabric.

  2. "Bea, come over here liebling" Hans exclaimed with his usual ready smirk. In his mind's eye he saw her walk to him. They were touching, looking out onto Market Street. That is how he would have liked to remember her. "We can endure neither our vices nor the remedies for them". Bea said it was an old Latin saying.

    Hans blinked and the vision of them looking out together as street cars passed by ... looking towards the future ... the reality of her topless form laying still on the floor filled Hans. Her track-marked bruised arm, a needle and spoon.... It was what he thought about as the strolled out into traffic, an easy smile being what bystanders later reported to the police as what they remembered most.

  3. It was near Halloween, and the clouds had overtaken the sky, and soon the bay itself. Bea Ware, a middle-aged honey blonde woman with a robust chest, tugged on Hans' hand, insisting they find some shelter since the umbrella had been forgotten on the bus, again.

    Dressed in their 40's Halloween ensemble, they fled to the nearest building with a neon "open" sign in the window-- an arcade that happened to be under an apartment building.

    The window on the door was cracked on the bottom, and the ceiling had a leak in the corner under the fan, but it was a good enough shelter until their friend, Ki Eep Bach, arrived with their ride.

    "Oh Hans, I used to adore these as a girl," Bea proclaimed as she spied a fortune telling machine. Looking up at him with the soft, pleading eyes that Hans could never resist, he reached into his wallet and grabbed two quarters, one North Carolina and one South Dakota, and placed them into her hand. She smile broadened after she put them into the machine, and the fortune teller spoke and waved her hands around the plastic ball in the center that somehow was also cracked. Out of the bottom slipped a cardboard book through the pin thin opening. Inside was a yellowed piece of paper that read, "Choose your company carefully."

    Bea giggled and rested her head on Hans shoulder as he smiled. Behind them they heard,"Hans! Hans Zoff!" and realized that Ki had arrived. They greeted him with enthusiasm as the smell of children had begun to bother their innermost sense of self.

    That was the last record of them to date.

  4. I got another post submitted by e-mail (too long to fit in comments.) It was great! I'm really going to have a hard time choosing. It's posted above.
    It's called, "The crazy mixed up world of Hans Zoff and Bea Ware" by Matt Omalley

  5. Smile

    Fourteen years...a long time, Hans. I remember - your effervescence and charm overriding my doubts - the failed marriages, your incarceration - my brain said, "Whoa!", my heart cried out, "Surrender!"
    We looked good, it felt right, perfection. You spoke, I jumped. You were it, the one. But fourteen years? - even my mother stopped begging me to marry already. "Why, Hans, why am I not worthy?" I'd cry silently. "I want only you."
    You evaded me - when you felt my pressure, you retreated. "Come back, Hans, come back. Of course I love you, only you. I understand, I'll do as you say, not to worry."
    But fourteen years? I watched my youth slip by, my hands, my face, transform into middle age. "Oh, Hans, how did you let this happen to me?"
    I don't know why, I don't know how, at last I gather my strength - "Good-bye, Hans. There is so little of me left - I will take it, and move on."

    But wait, wait. "What, what's that you say, Mr. Photographer? Smile? Me? Yes, yes, of course."

  6. DUSTY
    By Stephen D. Rogers (sdr633 at

    She leaned in to him as though she loved him. Desperately.

    That's how she did everything, as if there could be no doubt, as if the world were at stake. Everything was drama with her. Especially him.

    They had met at a picnic, associated with a fair. He had been walking around with a paper plate piled high with potato salad looking for a place to sit.

    She had made room for the new face in town. "My, you must enjoy potato salad."

    "It's okay."

    Twice more they met coincidentally. The next time they met on purpose.

    He drove her out of town on a long dusty road. Explored countryside that was foreign to him. Parked by the lake.

    She smiled too wide, laughed too loud, sat too close. "Isn't this fun? Isn't this just glorious?"

    He drove her home and waited until she was safe inside.

    She tried too hard but never got it right.

    This time would be no different.

    She leaned in to him as though she loved him.

    Next would come the first real disappointment. Then another. Despite her determination, the disappointments would accumulate until they became a plate piled high with potato salad, until the plate began to sag under the weight of the disappointments and the strain of maintaining that smile. Disappointment would become bitterness. Bitterness would become rage. Rage would become action.

    She would be sent away to be among friends until she came back, looking for a stranger.

  7. Hi Stephen,

    Wonderful story. Poignant, I think I've been her at times in my life. I can really see how you got this from her expression. When I was painting her, I was thinking that she's just a little too into him.


  8. Hey Kenney,

    Thanks. I really enjoy writing stories inspired by art.

    I took part in the Story exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum, flew down to record my stories on those hand-held audio tours use museums use, and then went back for the opening where I stood next to one of the works I'd been inspired by and read my stories to passersby. AND I got to get inspired by the art around me, scribbling down notes that I later turned into story once I returned to the hotel.

    Characters you won't soon forget

  9. The quality of all the stories were incredible!

    When I first started this competition I wasn't sure what to expect and I've been surprised by how outstanding and truly thoughtful all of the short stories have been. They have really ranged from humor, to horror, to heart wrenching pathos. Henry Ostang, Stephen Rogers' stories were kind of a stomach punch of emotion. Susan Berkow's had an unmistakable "Crossing Delancey" tone that reminded me of my grandmother. Some got the tone of the period perfect like Dee Turbon's. I certainly won't forget, check out the menace of Jamie Divina Erickson last line.

    Thank you guys!
    For more competitions please visit my site at: