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Three-Minute Fiction: 'Garage Sale Savior'

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

If you're just joining us, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING)

HEADLEE: Only one month from now, the novelist Brad Meltzer will announce the winner of Three-Minute Fiction, our contest wherein listeners submit original stories in 600 words or less. The winning story will be published in the December issue of the Paris Review, and the winner will get to come on the show.

Until then, our graduate students from writing programs at the University of Texas, McNeese State University and the University of Illinois are going through all 4,000 submissions to pass the best of the best on to Brad. Here's an excerpt from one of their favorites.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: (Reading) He was tired. It was late. The president stood up, stretched and went looking for a cup of coffee from the Marines, the Secret Service having been sublet to Ireland. Two years ago, he had been hosting "Garage Sale Savior," a highly rated reality show on which the host and his wizards used the genius algorithm to rescue folks from bankruptcy by holding garage sales.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONDELLO: On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the head wizard made a crack that what this country needed was a good five-cent garage sale. No problem, rejoined the host. We'll do the country next season. And on that Tuesday, he got 22 percent in one party and 34 percent in the other in write-in votes.

On Wednesday, he flipped a coin, found a party and registered to vote for the first time. He won the nomination and the general election on a garage sale to the rescue platform. Sure, there had been a few sales: Midway and Okinawa to Japan, a couple of islands off Alaska to Russia. Renting out the 82nd Airborne to Chile brought in a couple of billion.

Holding a presidential seal knick-knack sale in the Rose Garden would have been better if it had not rained. Now, the wizards and the host, after two years of data entry, program rewrites, rescaling and resizing, had the answer to the nation's fiscal disaster. This was the baby, the whole shoebox of a nuclear, high octane answer, and it was on his desk. It was imaginative, grand in scale, bigger than life: Texas is gone.

HEADLEE: That was Bob Mondello, reading an excerpt from "Garage Sale Savior" by George Medicus of Stevensville, Maryland. To read George's story in full, visit npr.org/threeminutefiction. That's Three-Minute Fiction all spelled out, no spaces.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOCK TICKING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.