about the author

Michael Putnam grew up in Ohio and received his BA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He has an MA from Cleveland State University and is currently in the MFA program at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He has been previously published in Fiction 365, Flyover Country Review, The Bookends Review, and New World Writing.

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Through Process of Elimination 

Michael Putnam

Eight women went home the first night. In terms of those deemed unworthy of Anthony’s love then or ever, Kelly was too opinionated and Im’Uni’s hair was too long. Jennifer and Susie L. were too thin in places despite being “well-proportioned,” while Molly and Cindy were too tall. The viewing audience went ballistic over the last two, as neither woman was taller than Anthony. Anna and Karri started arguing three drinks in and Anna received thirteen stitches from one of the onsite nurses. Due to the “No Physical Altercations” stipulation, both women got the boot by a group of security and show producers.

The next morning, one was sent home due to concern about an alcohol abuse problem. There’s always one. Jordan S. wasn’t much of a drinker on the outside, but in every group there’s one hopeful who swims naked or constantly interrupts during the first night. As it typically went, the interrupting one got the boot, Jordan S. refusing to let any of the other women have more than a few moments alone with Anthony. The naked ones get pegged to be ready for anything, qualities very rarely resulting in being sent home so early in the season.

After two days, there were twenty women. Macy was awarded the first solo date, a trip to a grass-fed beef farm north of the city. She kissed Anthony in a helicopter and was safe for a few episodes. Later, he had drinks with four of the other women and there were tears and slut-shaming comments among them. During a group date downtown, Katelyn made a particularly brutal but undeniably accurate comment toward one of the other women with teeth which were larger than average, a juggler by profession. Anthony reprimanded her on the spot, but the words led to her elimination, despite a valiant filibuster during the elimination ceremony. At one point she hiked her skirt up and crawled across the floor leopard-style, then mimicked standing up on hind legs and used her mouth to retrieve one of the remaining keepsakes from the faux-marble pedestal. Anthony told her she was mixing her metaphors.

Lauren was too adventurous of an eater, Sasha talked too much about her son, Sarah B. considered the entire process a hoax and attempted to sabotage a group date by releasing her bowels midway through a whiskey tasting. Elise missed her family, and Kimberly had a pill addiction. Amy couldn’t cope with the implication of someone having a pill addiction. Mary, once extremely promising in Anthony’s eyes, acted strangely after a night spent locked in a bell tower in Florence. Heather knew too much about primates. Pam and Susie B. were determined to be incompatible with Anthony after the show brought in a palm reader for one of the group dates. Regarding the latter two, Anthony admitted he wasn’t looking for an “exotic” woman, and he asked for the palm reader not be held accountable (he also wanted it made clear he did not associate the palm reader’s profession with the exotic vibe he received from Pam and Susie B.). Macy made a faux pas at a restaurant in Paris admitting she was interested in deep-tissue scarification. Anthony found no mention of the practice upon searching the Internet. A few left bawling their eyes out in the limo, proclaiming the love they found those first weeks while also cursing the show and everyone involved.

Jordan R. wandered off in Pensacola, requiring the involvement of state troopers and cadaver dogs. She was found a couple days later unharmed in Big Lagoon State Park, but anyone with such poor luck or sense of direction could not be allowed to continue on the show. With Jordan C. it all came down to a rumor of a boyfriend back home. The rumor wasn’t true, according to reputable sources on social media close to the show, and the audience found itself in a quandary. She received a second chance at finding love on television and chose from a coterie of mostly-Caucasian male suitors the following season. After the exodus of the remaining Jordans, it was Emily, Kristen, and Sharon who remained. This meant it was time for the Dream Suite dates.

Emily went to Vegas, the date went well, but Anthony found her boring when it came to intimate encounters involving multiple points of penetration. Kristen went to Seattle and, despite being a freak in the bedroom, was sent packing for failing to mention a prior manslaughter conviction from back when she was a minor. This left Sharon, who went to Miami, got along with Anthony’s family, could put both legs behind her head due to abnormal joints, and was open to the concept of returning to television periodically to comment on the status of their relationship. The season finale saw the two married in Cabo, with many of the show’s previous contestants in attendance seated in front of the bride and groom’s friends and family.

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