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Phony Baloney: The Prize for Pretense


“And the nominees are” … these words announced with enthusiasm as only Biff Demonson, social medias’ golden voice could utter them. The words spoken with a lilt that once led a critic to quip that Biff could make watching paint dry sound exciting. The gush of expression was followed by a brief but dramatic pause.

The audience reflected on the contest and its dubious backstory as the drumroll rattled on. The False Prophets Sweepstakes, informally known as “the phonies” possessed a great stature. However, it was barely noticed in an award season that featured the Super Bowl, Grammys and Oscars. It could not compete with the notoriety of its competition, but it boasted a much greater tradition.

The falsehood fanatics took pride upon reflection of this. They knew the forked tongue was as ancient as speech itself. False prophets made names for themselves with their deceptive prophecies long before athletes, actors and musicians grabbed the spotlight. Their infamy was recorded in history.

The no shame in their game crowd wasn’t limited to lone liars. Certain organized religious groups made it a practice to prematurely predict the apocalyptic end of world /return of Christ scenario repeatedly throughout the years. To the shock of those who aren’t fans of the phonies these groups persist to this day.

Just the same some individuals stood out. And so the Sweepstakes evolved to honor them for their duplicitous discourse. Each year contestants did their best (or worse?) dishonest efforts to capture the Non-stradamus trophy which was affectionately called the no-no. (as in no truth to it) Biff then interrupted the audience’s collective trip down memory lies with a half-hearted obligatory ode to past winner sinners.

“We’d be remiss” he would truthfully begin yet absent of sincerity, “not to honor those who have gone on before us.” He then recited the name of a (bay area) California pastor, a multiple time no-no recipient who made a recurring practice of apocalyptic prophecies which were inevitably followed by an explanation about miscalculated numbers and dates.

Cash prizes often included in the phonies competition.

Cash prizes often included in the phonies competition.

“And” Biff continued with an apparently heavy but actually hollow heart “lets not forget that grand lady.” He of course referred to another multiple no-no winner. She being a psychic who failed to foresee the legal and tax troubles that threatened her telephone /television fortune network empire. He then bowed his head closing his eyes as he bit his lip which effectively hid the smirk that fought to display its contempt out in the open.

They all knew that for all its inglorious history, the 2020 year promised to be its best. It differed from other phonies award years because many contestants made the same false prophecy. To make matters worse (or better if you’re a phony) with only two possible results the prophesized outcome amounted to a correctly guessing a coin flip.

Biff then introduced the first of four faker nominees. “P.R., a long time escamgelist club leader forecast both a Donald Trump election victory and that an asteroid will clobber the earth five years from now.” Polite applause followed until Biff began another fraudulent finalist bio.

“P.W. who won a phony for the most dubbed video as she called for angels from Africa also secured a no-no nomination.” Applause along with some loud hallelujahs shouted and what sounded like a solo speaking of tongues filled the air.

Next, Biff then reluctantly acknowledged the next dishonoree. The hesitance here was due to the nonnie’s candidate appalling decision to apologize for his falsehood. So after a pause Biff summoned words of encouragement. “J.J. envisioned a Trump victory and the Dodgers World Series win.” As he mentioned J.J’s correct prophetic statement the thought occurred to him that Vegas must also possess the gift.

Biff interrupted briefly with a shout out to a phony who did not make the final four. “K.K. bless her heart grasped a revelation of special opps angels to seal a Donald trump victory.” Again, more applause but of the polite variety, pity claps for one with no shot at winning.

Biff continued “and of course here’s K.C. who garnered a phony for the most inane post-election melt down ever recorded at a church service. Ha ha ha my friend.” To which K.C. nodded a gesture of approval. P.W. and K.C. having already won lesser but yet still prestigious phonies appeared to be the favorites to rake home the 2020 Non-stradamus. P.R., the elder faker, he who lied about combat service during the Korean War received a dishonorable lie time award.

Finally, the anticipated moment came. Biff declared “ and the winner is…” darkness engulfed the scene removing all light, a roar from the very belly of the earth drowned out all other sound and overwhelming stench of sulfur stifled the live studio’s atmosphere as it permeated through the screens of televisions, cell phones tablets and all other devices attuned to the show. The once viral audience found themselves surrounded by the same hell like environs as those who attended the show.

A hulking figure hovered over the suddenly terrified audiences both live and virtual. Biff looked on in a rare moment of speechlessness. The Non-stradamus trophy flew up to the figure who loomed above like a prince of the air and immediately disappeared.

The scene returned to its former look within a snap. Biff though shaken regained his composure, looked straight into the camera for all the stunned onlookers (live and viral) to see and simply said “well when you think about it he always wins when false prophecies come from out of the church.”


James C Moore (author) from Joliet, IL on May 04, 2021:

Glad you liked it. This actually began as a prompt from my local writers group and then edited to what it is now.

Rania Heikal from Egypt on May 04, 2021:

Really enjoyed your thesis laid out through the perfectly tailored literary structure. Thank you for sharing

James C Moore (author) from Joliet, IL on April 21, 2021:


Sometimes it's best to get a point across with humor. I'm glad you liked it.

James C Moore (author) from Joliet, IL on April 21, 2021:

I strived for that delicate balance of reference to things we know about without coming out and hitting readers over the head with it. Glad you enjoyed it.

Ravi Rajan from Mumbai on April 21, 2021:

Your humor is too good and laced with brilliant sarcasm ..I loved the way you weaved subtle message into this short story. Thanks for sharing James.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on April 21, 2021:

An interesting and extremely well-written satire. Thanks for sharing.

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