Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The prompt this week was to choose a line from the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and use that as our starter sentence. The genre was open, and I went a bit wild with this one, but that's what makes these challenges so much fun. The sentence I chose was "He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot." Please enjoy.


"He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and he was wearing one of the Santa suits from the Mission. I know it was one of theirs because I’ve been doing the Santa thing for years--you get a hot meal and a bed every night from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day. All you have to do is ring the bell when people walk by and hope they put money into the pot. At the end of the night, you turn the money in to the ladies there.”

Lyle Richmond, Detective with the Pleasant River PD for about three years, was losing any patience he had when this began. Why do the holidays bring out the crazies? He tried to keep this moving. It was already half an hour past his shift’s end when this weirdo ran in raving about someone being eaten. Yes. Eaten.

“Mr…uh…, so you saw somebody out there bothering your friend?” Lyle checked his watch again.

“Yes. Well, no. I mean, we weren’t friends. It’s just that I do the Santa thing every year so I can get a meal and a bed and so does he and in between, sometimes we run into each other. They have lunches at the Mission, but on the holidays, they find stuff for us to do so we can have a place to sleep. It’s warm in there…”

Lyle was getting ready to dump this old geezer on one of the patrolmen in the stationhouse who were standing around trying desperately not to laugh out loud.

“Focus here. Tell me what happened tonight.”

The man in the shabby Santa suit took a sip of the coffee provided for him, and continued.

“Oh, okay. I had my pot on the corner of Fifth and Broad. You know, down the street from Maisey’s Coffee Shop? This other guy, the one who got eaten, I think his name was James. Anyway, he was across the street on the corner. Well, he wasn’t exactly on the corner. He had his pot set up in front of the alley. You know, the one between the old movie theatre that’s been closed for years now, and that nudie shop you boys shut down a few weeks ago. You know.”

Lyle nodded. Today, old man. Today.

“Anyway, there weren’t too many cars out tonight, since it’s cold and snowy, so we were yelling back and forth to each other about stuff to pass the time. Not too much longer and we could take our pots to the Mission and get something hot to drink and some cookies and then a bed for the night. So, we’re yelling back and forth about how we both decided we weren’t going to help ourselves to any of the money, when I saw this--uh--thing, come out of the alley. He--it, was dressed in the Santa suit and it was so big. It had claws on its hands and was furry all over, and it had really big teeth, and growled and then grabbed James from behind and bit his neck. Looked like it just bit his throat out, and then it pulled him into the alley and started eating him, and that’s when I ran here to tell you about it so you could catch him--uh, it.”

The detective closed his eyes and silently counted to ten.

“Okay, then, thanks for reporting that and we’ll get over there. You’d better get over to the Mission now so you don’t miss out on the cocoa, cookies and bed. Can we reach you there if we need more info? Great. We’ll be in touch. You be careful out there now.”

He managed to get the old man back out onto the street and closed the stationhouse door. Alright. Not too late. Still plenty of time to head over to Jimbo’s for a couple of beers before he went home. Maybe Sarah from Hale’s Department Store would be there having a quick one. Running into her would be a nice way to finish up Christmas Eve. He’d be spending Christmas Day at his brother’s house with him and his family, but tonight he was on his own. Sure be great if he could spend some of it with that pretty lady. As he rounded the corner into the parking lot, the old man in the Santa suit grabbed his arm.

“Don’t ever do that,” he released the grip on his gun. “I almost fucking shot you. What is your problem, old man? You want this to be your last Christmas?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Detective, sir, I didn’t mean to startle you, but I remembered something that I thought you might need to know about James that might explain why this happened to him.”

Oh God, the detective thought, will this never end?

“Great,” he said, trying to appear calm, even though his hand still rested lightly on his gun. “Tell me what you remembered that will probably solve this case.”

“Okay,” the man said quietly. “I had asked him where he got those gloves he was wearing, and he said he had grabbed them out of a bag a lady had when she walked by. She was hollering at her kids and put the bag down to swat one of them, and he grabbed the gloves out of the bag. Then when she was done swatting the kid, she picked up the bag and went on and didn’t notice the gloves were gone.”

Detective Richmond vowed to request some leave as soon as the holidays were over--a lot of leave.

“And” he asked, “what does that have to do with why he was kil…, eaten?”

“Oh,” the man said, “he took what didn’t belong to him. He was naughty on Christmas Eve. The furry Santa with the big teeth was probably real mad about that.”

The old man in the Santa suit gave the detective a knowing look, a small salute and went on his way toward downtown. Oh yeah, he thought, it’s time for a few drinks and the company of anybody who’s sane. His partner, Detective Danser, certainly didn’t qualify. After the old man had been removed to the street, he had actually asked Lyle if he wanted him to check the alley out and then get on the phone to see if there were similar cases in any of the surrounding towns. After all, there were documented cases of lycanthropy and there were people with a particular medical condition… Maybe this guy dresses up like Santa and stands on corners at night so he can find victims. Who’s going to pay attention to a guy in a Santa suit at Christmas? But, Danser wondered aloud, I wonder what he does the rest of the year? Definitely, Richmond had told him, you do just that. Then I want you to put an APB out on Santa aka Werewolf Claus. And next spring, we’ll put one out on the Easter Bunny. I’ll bet he can deliver a helluva bite too. He told Danser to go home to his wife and kids and have a Merry Christmas. This ‘case’ was closed. They’re all nuts, he said aloud. All. Nuts.

The man didn’t see anyone on either side of the street and his and James’ pots were still there. I’ll just empty his into mine, he decided. That way, maybe I’ll get an extra helping of cookies. He crossed the street, wishing a stream of cars would come by. But the area was totally deserted. He put the change from James’ pot in his pockets and peeked into the alley. It had begun to sleet and the old man thought it so odd that there was no trace left of the man he had been speaking to a couple of hours before. Nothing but one of his gloves. The growl from the back of the alley startled him. Before it even dawned on him to scream, the furry thing in the Santa suit jumped out and was on him, biting and tearing. All he could think before it all went dark was how he really shouldn’t have bumped into that man and taken his wallet. Shouldn’t have been naughty on Christmas Eve…

* * * * *

A couple of days into the new year, when Richmond got the report that one ice-covered glove and one of his cards with blood mixed with saliva all over them had been found in an alley on the other side of town, he felt a chill. Both empty collection pots were returned to the Mission, and nothing about that night was ever mentioned again. He kept the file containing one sheet of paper that contained the old man’s narration in the middle drawer of his desk as a reminder to listen next time. Really listen. And if he came upon a corner Santa at Christmastime, he’d cross the street before he got to him. You just never know…

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


In accordance with this time of year, the theme was The Christmas Spirit. The prompt was a themed word list: Unearthly, Concealed, Attic and Shiver.

We are all familiar with the stories about the ghosts of Christmas and what effect encounters with them have had on the living. But can the reverse also be true? Can the effect be a mutual thing? Let's see. I present,


Sully Janofsky was pissed. It was Christmas Eve, the sky was going to dump a ton and a half of the white crap, and he had been looking forward to yet another uneventful holiday. But, no such luck. He had been up in the attic in an attempt at a brief change of scenery when he heard them come in. Sounded like a man, a woman, and what the fuck? Was that a kid? Hell. He would take a great deal of pleasure scaring the crap out of mom and pop, but kids were bad luck. They whined and cried and raised such a ruckus, it wasn’t near worth the effort. Maybe they wouldn’t be staying for the whole weekend, what with the big storm coming. Maybe they’re just lost and stopping to see if there’s a phone. Maybe Sully wasn’t really a ghost, cursed to forever inhabit this lousy cabin and roam the bear-infested lot it was on. Oh yeah. And a few maybe’s and a dollar might buy you a pack of smokes.

Sully could hear the man downstairs shouting obscenities at the woman and then he heard what sounded like a powerful slap. Wonderful, Sully thought, he’s a woman beater. A Class A mope. Of all the shit he had done in his life, one thing Sully wouldn’t put up with was a man who hits a woman. If a man really is a man, he should only fight another man. Use a fist, a knife, a .38, whatever’s handy, but whatever the beef, it should be handled man to man. He heard a door slam. Probably the woman went into one of the bedrooms. Just as well. The frames and doors were solid and strong. She’d be safe in there. But what about the kid?

He heard someone coming up the attic stairs and sat down on some boxes. No point in hiding, he thought, the living can’t see me. Sully found he could touch the living though, and pick up objects and throw them around if he wanted to. All that made it so much easier to run folks off. He wasn’t sure how all that worked, but there was no one to ask and he’d learned a long time ago to just use what you got. The door opened and in walked a little girl, probably around 8 or so. Pain in the ass like all kids, Sully was certain, but still a pretty little thing. Problem was, this one had the saddest eyes he’d ever seen. Like her world never stopped ending. Fuck. He wasn’t sure why or how, but Sully felt a headache coming on.

“I knew it,” the girl smiled a tiny smile. “I prayed you’d be here and you are. Are you going to be at my door when I go to sleep to watch over me? Is that how guardian angels work?”

Sully wasn’t sure what was happening here. If this kid was talking to him, that could only mean that she could see… Damn. Guardian what?

“Uh, kid?” he began, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m not your guardian anything. I’m a spoo…, I mean, spirit, I guess, and don’t go getting all bent out of shape over it either. I’m getting a migraine and I don’t need any noise. See, I’m a very bad man, kid, and this is my Hell, I think, because I can’t leave this cabin or go past the property line. This guy double-crossed me awhile back and I fuc…, I mean, I messed him up real bad and he died. Then his partner, that I didn’t know about, splattered my brai…, shot me dead. I woke up here, this used to be my hideout, and I supposed this was what I got for crossing the line once too many times. Or some shi…, stuff like that. Anyway, this is my place, used to be, and I can’t stand having anybody around, so the three of you can just scram. Okay?”

It was like he hadn’t said a word because the girl just shook her head and there was that tiny smile again.

“It’s alright. I won’t bother you, guardian angel. I go to bed around seven because Richie says I should, so if you could stay by my door, that would be super. I have to go now and make Richie something to eat. That way, Mommy can rest some more after her accident. Love you.”

Why’d she have to go and say shit like that? Damn kids. But, still. Sully didn’t like the images running through his mind. Why does the kid want me to stand guard outside her bedroom door? Maybe this Richie-not-Daddy and he should have a spook-to-prick chat…

Sully waited until after the kid went to bed and he made sure her door was closed tight. Richie-not-Daddy was alone in the living room gulping beer, and never noticed Sully enter the room. Why can just this kid see me, he wondered. Creepy. Richie tossed the empty bottle into the fireplace and put on his coat and hat and went out the back door. Sully decided he’d pay for that move; ever hear of a garbage can? And, what the hell was he doing outside at this hour?

Sully couldn’t believe his eyes. The idiot’s out there with the back porch light on, digging a hole. Deeper and deeper. What? When Richie’s cell phone rang, Sully moved in closer. He didn’t want to miss a word.

“Yeah, we’re here and they’re both asleep. I’m digging a nice deep one out back here for her. Rachel gets up before anybody and gets her own breakfast. I’ll tell her I’ve got something to show her and then get her out here and a quick snap of the neck, into the hole, throw on a few leaves, and I’m rid of that little pest forever. I’m going to tell Rosie a bear grabbed her; nothing I could do. Then, I’ll shoot her up, we’ll come back to the city, and I can turn her out and she can make me some money. She won’t do squat as long as that pesky kid’s around. Okay. I’ll let you know. Later.”

Sully couldn’t believe what he had heard. First, he’s a woman beater. Second, probably a pedophile. Now, he’s going to murder a child? Well, we’ll just see about that. Sully peeked in on little Rachel and then on her mother. Mommy’s entire face was swollen and black and blue. No doubt Richie-not-Daddy had delivered so much more than a slap. Fucking coward.

Morning came and true to his word, Richie waited until Rachel finished her bowl of cereal and then told her he found something special out in the backyard. He took her small hand and led her out the door. Sully could see the child shiver at his touch. The edge of the hole was concealed behind a big pile of leaves. As they moved closer, Richie let go of Rachel’s hand and started to put them on her neck. All at once, he felt his left arm being pulled behind him and twisted, hard.

“What the fuck? Who’s there? What’s going…”

He took a hard punch to the back. Now, Sully was grateful for the being-able-to-touch thing. Rachel looked up, frightened.

“Don’t worry, kid. You go inside now, and get Mommy up and put your stuff in the car and go back home. Richie-not-Daddy and I are going to discuss good parenting practices and then he’s going to have an accident. You’re familiar with accidents, right, bud?”

“Who the fuck are you and what do you want? Are you one of those invisible unearthly things? Please don’t experiment on me. Take the woman and the kid. You’ll have a better time with them. I won’t tell anybody about this, I swear.”

Invisible what? That remark just reinforced what Sully already knew. This jerk double deserved what he was going to get this Christmas. He had prepared a big speech, but decided this scum wasn’t worth the effort. Just a quick snap of the neck and Richie-not-Daddy was tossed, and not gently, into the hole and covered with a few leaves. That way, Sully knew the bears wouldn’t have any problem locating their next meal.

Rosie took a quick peek out the back window after Rachel told her about Richie‘s accident. There was a small pang of guilt--her finally feeling free, and it being Christmas and all, but knowing the two of them would now be safe erased all of it. While she was packing the car, Rachel ran back inside, where Sully was waiting.

“Thank you, guardian angel,” she whispered.

Sully took the child’s face in his hands.

“I told you, kid, I’m no angel. And there’s nothing to thank me for. All I did was remove some trash from my cabin. Besides, I’m a really bad man. Remember?”

“Yes,” Rachel said with a smile. “I remember. Thank you again, and have a Merry Christmas.”

She gave Sully a big hug and ran to the car. Sully thought that for once in his miserable existence, he might be able to do just that.

While he didn’t expect to sprout wings and fly up into some Heavenly light, he did believe that if, in some far off corner of this fucked up universe, his Maker did briefly allow Himself a small grin on Sully’s behalf, that would be just enough.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Prompt: You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions.
Genre: Open
Word Count: 1500 words or less

What delightful circumstances, and what a perfect setting for a monumental practical joke. Or maybe not...


Jerome Hoggstratten couldn’t be happier. He had never belonged to any in-crowds, either during his school years or during his be-on-your-own years. Actually, he had never really belonged to anything or anyone, for that matter. Of course, in the past, that was perfectly alright with Jerome. After all, he read the papers, religiously followed the news, and watched each and every forensic, cop, mystery, and cold case show on TV. He’d seen some of them two or three times. Reruns were such a blessing, as sometimes one was momentarily distracted by outside occurrences and one might miss a detail or two. It might appear small on the front end, but more often than not, these minor points ended up turning the investigation every which way from Sunday, and resulted in the identification and apprehension of the perpetrator. Lives were saved and the world was made right again. At least until the next one decided to show his or her stuff…

Serial killers, mass murderers, devil worshipers who performed human sacrifices--they were out there all around us. Jerome knew it, and accepted the harsh reality of it. So, he was going to make sure that he was totally prepared for the day he crossed paths with one. Statistically, it was a very real possibility. Many individuals’ lives connected in some way with one of these monsters, and unless victimized, never knew it until the face of evil was plastered all over the 6 o’clock news. Then came the ‘he seemed so normal’ and the ‘she was such a nice girl and helped me with my groceries’. Well, Jerome wasn’t about to be duped like so many others. He would know. He watched documentaries.

Funny how others didn’t appreciate this critical insight of his. People would seem friendly and appear to want to get to know the real Jerome, but the minute he tried to share some life-saving tips of how to see behind the mask of evil, they were gone. Jerome knew they would be the ones identified as being the body found dismembered under a picnic table in the park. So, if they didn’t want to take advantage of his expertise, fine. They would become victims of the Ted Bundys and the John Wayne Gacys of this world. But not him--not Jerome.

The co-workers at his new job were so different though. They shared all his interests and even invited him up to spend a long weekend at a cabin one of the guys owned. He could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of being able to spend several days with those who viewed the world his way and saw it as the dark and terrifying place it was, with danger and death around every corner. He couldn’t wait to get up there, so he decided to leave hours ahead of schedule. He had been told where the key was, so he packed a couple changes of clothes and several books exploring the minds of those who kill for some light reading while he waited for his new friends to arrive.

He had been wise to arrive ahead of schedule since the weather had taken a real turn. Light snow had been forecasted, but as it was, he was barely able to find the cabin in the blizzard that came out of nowhere, much less even make it out of his car. The snow was coming down so thick and fast, by the time he parked at the side of the cabin, he could barely open his door. He fought the wind and white-out conditions as he brought his suitcases in and finally shut and bolted the door. The generator would keep the power on, the fireplace was a Godsend, the cupboards were well stocked and there was even a full walk-in freezer off the kitchen. Everything he would need to get through the next few days in warmth and comfort. Everything except friends.

Jerome knew none of them would be able to get there in those conditions and he would be alone. Again. Well, he thought, at least I brought my books and I can study and take notes. When the storm lets up and my friends arrive, I can use my notes during our discussions. I’m sure it won’t be too much longer.

* * *

Jack Knowles couldn’t believe that weird-ass from the mailroom, Jerome whatever, had fallen for it and actually shown up. He, Tommy Silverman, Sharon Gitsby and Lucille Wohby, had laid it on pretty thick to him how truly interested they were in all that killer bullshit of his. What a Class A jerk. Sharon had approached Jerome and handled the invite. The way she looked deeply into those vacant black eyes of his and told him he simply must join them this weekend, while gently stroking his cheeks and running her hands through his barely there hair had done the trick. Now, the four of them sat in an RV behind the cabin, drinking beer and planning how to scare the crap out of good old Jer. They knew he’d be early, so they came earlier than early and hooked the RV up to the generator and waited. They knew Jerome wouldn’t go out back, what with the woods and all that surrounded the cabin. A serial killer might be hiding there. One never knew. They had to laugh. What a grand time they were going to have and what an even grander time they would have telling everyone back at the office what a pussy Jerome was. They knew he’d freak and the girls had their camcorders ready to catch every second of his meltdown. Trapped by a blizzard in a snowstorm, total white-out so no running to the car and trying to summon help… Maybe they’d upload it to the Web. Oh yeah. Now, that would really be an award-winning joke on the Jermeister.

* * *

On Monday evening while on his drive home, Jerome felt conflicted. On the one hand, he was so proud of himself having survived his encounters with what he knew would be called ‘The Cabin Killers’. He’d send an anonymous letter to the authorities explaining how they’d been caught, but taking no credit for himself. Give credit where credit is due. Basking in glory was not Jerome’s way. The downside of all of this was the betrayal by his co-workers. All of them psychotic, sociopathic and deadly. Lying in wait for him at the cabin, moving around in the dark when they thought he was asleep, planning his demise. And the cameras? My God, he shuddered, those evil girls were going to film it all: My torture, my death, and most likely, my dismemberment. The axes had been plentiful around the cabin. Bastards. Now, the world was all upside down again and he’d have to find yet another job. How could he ever be sure there weren’t more of them within that firm. He couldn’t. Not really.

One by one they had come and one by one he had vanquished them. Them in their ski masks and black clothes jumping out at him and laughing. All that laughter. Once Jerome ran Jack through with a poker, his laughter stopped. A carving knife drawn quickly across Tommy’s throat ended his mirth. Lucille had come in with her little camera whispering for Jack and a swift twist of her neck had put her down. Sharon had been the last, creeping in and calling for the others. Jerome let her see it coming. She deserved it, luring him there the way she did. He did her with a pair of gardening shears. It was slow, and she was still breathing and reaching for him when he placed her, along with her co-conspirators, inside the walk-in. Thought you put one over on Jerome, didn’t you, he had said to her as he closed the door and bolted it shut. That’ll hold them till the police can get up here.

No one would know he had been there since he had kept his gloves on the whole time. Forensically, that was wise. There were never going to be any DNA errors where he was concerned. He wouldn’t be wasting away on Death Row for a crime he didn’t commit. Not him--not Jerome.

What he most agonized over though was how he had almost been taken in. He had obviously missed a sign somewhere in their behavior. He had to give them credit though. As mass murderers or serial killers--he would have to figure out what category they fit in later--they were good. So very good. Give credit where credit is due, Jerome always said.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Prompt: The common, or not so common, cold — at least one character must be miserable. Really miserable.
Genre: Open
Word Count: Under 1500 words

Before we begin our story, a word to the wise. If you're not 100% certain about something, ask. NEVER assume. EVER...


I lost my job two days ago. It was a good job too. I was doing well, but recently, took it upon myself to go above and beyond. That’s when it all went terribly wrong. Let me explain.

I was employed by Mr. Winston Grafton. Yes, you heard me correctly. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of ordering the execution of several United States’ Senators. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of defrauding several CEO’s of major international corporations out of billions of dollars. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of money laundering, dealing in narcotics, as well as other assorted illegal activities. Remember, I said ‘accused’--not ‘indicted’ or ‘prosecuted’. Mr. G. is very powerful, and has a way of making accusations--and accusers--go away. Permanently.

My role was as a numbers cruncher. Not to crunch anything literally, since I’m on the hard edge of 55, 5’2” when I’m wearing thick socks and my orthopedic shoes, and huggably round. But I am a whiz with numbers. I would accompany Mr. G’s enforcers on their weekly calls and when they would explain compound interest and such, I was there to refigure their new payment amount. My job paid well, and I was always treated with respect. By Mr. G, that is, which is why I felt the need to get personally involved when the big guy fell ill.

One day, he’s out and about, and the next, he’s down for the count. It started with some sneezing and a stuffed head, and within a couple of days, it left him confined to bed, feverish, with swollen eyes and a voice that was barely a whisper. His doctor told us that some virus had taken hold of him and was not going to let go until it pulled him six feet under. He could be kept comfortable, but beyond that, there wasn’t much that could be done.

I remember peeking in his room one morning to pay my respects when I witnessed the saddest display I have ever seen. There he was, clutching a photo of his dead wife, with tears spilling down his cheeks. I knew there were no words I could offer, so I simply went in, sat in the chair at his bedside, and asked if there was anything I could do for him. He looked at me with eyes that were nearly swollen shut, and pointed at the photo. I told him I knew what had happened and how sorry I was. He looked away briefly, and remembered his pain.

When I came on board, Jeff, one of the fellas who took care of the grounds, told me what had happened to Mrs. G because, even though her pictures were all over the house, she was no longer around since she had been killed by a drunk driver the year before. The boss had used all his resources and his money flowed like water trying to find out who was responsible, but to no avail. The search took a backseat over time, but he never gave up. His one wish was that he would be able to someday look into the eyes of the one who was responsible for his wife’s death. Now, it appeared as if the one hope that kept him going all these years was going to elude him.

As I sat there, he reached for my hand and pulled me close. He tried to speak, but his voice was so weak, I could barely hear him. I finally figured out what he was trying to tell me. It was a name, but what was it? David? No. Darnell? Close. Danny? Yes. Then, he began again. I assumed that he was trying to tell me Danny’s last name. Bridges?. No. Binger? His nails were digging into my knuckles. Bidden? That’s it. He whispered the name and pointed to his wife’s photo. Oh God. That was what he wanted me to do. After all this time, he had located the man who killed his wife, and he was telling me his name so that I could find him.

Yes, I’ll find him. I knew that I couldn’t stop there though. This was such an important task he had given me, and I was not about to let him down. I would bring this excuse for a human being here, but after the big guy had his final look, I would send this slug on his way to Hell by my own hand. After all, I knew how to pull a trigger. I would join the ranks of the ones who made things right. The ones who evened the score. I would assume the role of leveler on this playing field.

It hadn’t been easy, but I tracked the scum known as Danny Bidden down. He was living in one of those pay by the week dumps, and I waited until he left his room and then went in with no problem. The fool didn’t even lock his door. What I saw when I stepped in filled me with a wave of nausea like I have never in my life felt before. Taped on the walls were newspaper clippings of the crash that killed Mrs. G. Some showed the mangled car, some showed the body bag being placed inside the ambulance, and most had a photo of her taken at some society luncheon on a bright summer day. She had a warm smile and bright eyes so full of life. The clippings were everywhere. The sick bastard. Reliving that night over and over. What kind of a monster was he? If I ever had second thoughts about being HIS Angel of Death, they had evaporated. This was going to be a pleasure.

It had been easier than I anticipated, overpowering this young punk. I have no doubt the gun I was holding was what ultimately convinced him to accompany me, but regardless. The end really does justify the means. I was so proud of myself. I was doing something for someone who had lost the will to live. Perhaps this would at least give him a moment’s peace on his way from this life to the next.

We stood at the foot of Mr. G’s bed. Big guy reached out and tried to sit up. I almost wept. I was so moved. I told him not to worry. I would take care of everything. For him. And for her. I put the gun up to his temple and pulled the trigger. The piece of garbage that was Danny fell in a heap. There wasn’t as much blood as I had thought there would be, which was a good thing, because I had just bought a new suit for the occasion, and I really didn’t want to mess up the old man’s room.

So, it was done. Mr. G pushed the button on his nightstand and Barry and Richie, two of his enforcers, came in. They looked at the lump on the carpet, and then at me in the oddest of ways. I hadn’t a clue as to the reason for their concern until later that day when the situation was explained to me.

Apparently, Mr. G and his wife had a son. It was obvious from the start that he wasn’t going to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the business, but he was family, so he was tolerated. However, after Mrs. G died, Daddy told his son that his presence would no longer be acceptable. He was given access to a trust fund and sent on his way, and never spoken of again. That is, until his name was spoken to me. Danny Bidden had been born Danny Grafton, and while he was never the apple of Pop’s eye, blood is blood after all, and Mr. G. didn’t want any glitches in the hinges of those Pearly Gates he was on his way to, so he wanted to make peace with his only son before he died. That was why he asked me to find him. That was why he said his name and pointed to the photo of his wife. He was asking me to find his son. And that was why Danny had all the clippings. It was all he had left of his mother. And I found him. And I brought him home. And I shot him.

And so, here I sit in the basement pantry. I’ve been locked in here for the past couple of days, but at least there’s bottled water and cookies in here. I’m sure they have nasty plans for me once the old man gets back on his feet. Oh, did I forget to tell you? His virus seems to be loosening its hold on him, and he is expected to make a full recovery. We are all blessed, his doctor had said. It won‘t be long, and he‘ll be up and around and back to business as usual. Yeah boy. Lucky me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


This week, the prompt was a starter sentence, and the challenge dealt with time. My offering deals with what could happen if an individual found himself with just a little bit too much time on his hands. Too much time to think and wonder. Perhaps, on occasion, that might be a good thing. In this case however... Please enjoy.


The clock ticked off the seconds, each a piercing reminder that time moved forward. It wouldn’t be too long now before he stepped through the door. Edwin Hoopmeyer. My co-worker. My friend. My Judas. No. Not too long now before he steps through his front door and I put a bullet into his brain.

I’ve been sitting here in his living room, in the dark, for about an hour, waiting. I could have cut it a lot closer since you can set your watch by the skunk. I used to admire and appreciate that trait of his, but now, I choke on the air we share.

How could he do this to me? To me. His best friend, trusted confidante, and ardent supporter. I am the one who deserved that promotion to supervisor. Not him with his ‘content to be crew‘ claim. I am the one who has 15 years of faithful service. Not him with his measly four. I am the one who has been boffing the company President’s skank of a daughter. Then again, I recently discovered, so has he.

That‘s right. How could I not have seen it? She was doing the deed with Edwin as well, the hypocritical bitch. Oh, how entranced she was with me, and how she simply melted at my touch. That lying demon. I’m willing to bet a week’s salary that she told him exactly the same thing. Probably that and then some. She was just using us both to satisfy her own demented desires. I’ll bet she never intended to recommend either one of us for the job upgrade. All she was ever after was a man with a pulse. Didn’t much matter where he was at in life or where he ended up when she was through with him. I should have seen right through that lovey dovey act of hers. And always texting somebody right when I was at the peak of my game. Of course, at the time, that activity was preferable to me having to lock lips with the girl. Her mustache was so much fuller than mine. I did always mean to ask her how she…

I just figured out what all that chit chat on her cell was about. She was playing one against the other and probably telling that slug of a hairdresser of hers that both Edwin and I were going to be kicked to the curb in a hot minute and somebody off the line was going to get the corner office and the raise. Then they would both laugh about it when she went in for her manicure and electrolysis treatments.

Oh yeah. I see it all now. It was actually the one with the comb and the hairspray and the pasted on smile. When the Zone VP’s wife went in to his shop to have her wig glued on for the week, Zorro Fitzmeister himself of Zorro’s Treasure Chest Salon and Boutique, would whisper in her diamond-studded ear to cross Edwin and me off the list of potential promotees. Of all the underhanded, hateful, savage…

No. Damn. It was her. The whole time. The VP’s snake of a spouse. It was she who would deliver the lamb to the lions. She was the link in the chain that I had been missing. Once she completed her beauty ritual with Zorro and received the encoded instructions, she would return home and pass the word onto the eager ear of the next waiting car in their little underground railroad setup: Her gardener, Roland. Yes, yes, yes. Is it coincidence that her gardener is also the one who does the landscaping outside my office and around the company? Oh how obvious their evil little plan is to me now.

So, that’s what Roland was up to, was it? Every time he was landscaping the area outside my office, he made sure he timed it so he would run into me on my way out. That was so he could tell me how much I deserved that promotion, and tell me over and over how hard I was working, and I was so dedicated staying over all those nights to finish my paperwork. Standing outside by the parking lot where God and everybody could hear him. Hear him building me up and not mentioning my dear friend, Edwin at all. Throw everybody off the track, and create the supreme diversion. Totally leaving Edwin out of the picture where the supervisor’s job was concerned. Trying to undermine and completely derail his future--his destiny. And what would possess the ingrate to do such a thing? Everybody knows Edwin earned that promotion months ago. The man had already given the company four years worth of his blood, sweat and tears, and here’s this gardener, the guy who wields the rake and thinks he runs the operation, doing all he can to shaft my very best friend in this whole world out of the prestige and respect this new position would generate. But, it all backfired on you Roland, didn’t it? All your spying and all your lies were for naught, weren’t they? The message never got through in time and the promotion was given to Edwin after all. You see? Right is right. You can’t hold back the mighty sword if it is in the hand of Lady Justice. Fate will not be denied.

My God. It is all so clear now. Something has to be done to curtail all this backbiting and sabotage by this spawn of Satan. Something must be done before he can actually succeed in destroying another man’s dreams and divine right. He believes that no one knows what’s behind the mask he wears, but I have seen the serpent that lies beneath. Changing his schedule this week so he can be on the road tomorrow afternoon to spend a long weekend at his cabin on the lake, alone. Like his leaving so abruptly following the promotion announcement wouldn’t raise any suspicion…

Oh, there’s Edwin’s key in the lock. I can’t wait for him to come in so I can let him know I’ll always be there for him. He never has to ask for help or support, because I will make sure it’s there before he even knows he needs it. The man’s a saint.

“Didn’t mean to startle you, buddy boy. I bribed your Super to let me in so I could surprise you. Drinks and dinner on me, okay? We need to celebrate your well-deserved promotion to Supervisor. You name the place, and it’s all my treat. And we can take our time too, pal o’mine, since I don’t have other plans any time soon. At least, not until late tomorrow afternoon. Thought I’d take a nice long drive. You know, out by the lake. Somebody I know has a cabin there…”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Richard Godwin's novel, Apostle Rising is coming soon. Here's a peek from his website:

"Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle never caught the Woodlands Killer and it almost destroyed him. Now many years later and still suffering from nightmares, he is faced with a copycat killer with detailed inside knowledge of the original case. Someone is crucifying politicians, and Castle and his partner DI Jacki Stone enter a labyrinth. At its centre is the man Castle believes was responsible for the first killings. He’s running a sinister cult and playing mind games with the police. And the ritualistic killer keeps raising the stakes and slipping through their hands. The body count is rising. Castle employs a brilliant psychologist to help him solve the case, and he begins to dig into the killer’s psyche. But some psychopaths are cleverer than others."

Make sure you check out Richard's website for updates on the release date of this novel, links to his stories, and his blog. You won't want to miss any of it!



Carole Gill's deliciously dark novel is coming soon from Vamplit Publishing. The themes are vampirism, devil worship, madness and obsession. The perfect read for that nice, quiet evening when you're all alone.

Carole has many other terrifying treats in store for you as well. She writes dark-themed horror and sci-fi. Mythica Publishing's Sci-Fi Anthology, Maybe Tomorrow, will include her story, Deathless. Sci-Fi Almanac 2009, Vol. I, No. 1 included her story, The Habinger, in its collection. Sci-Fi Talk's Anthology entitled Tales of Time and Space contains her story, Aftermath, in that collection, which is available from Amazon.

Triskaideka Books has included her horror story, Truth Hurts, in its Masters of Horror Anthology, which is available in paperback and ebook.

She is one of the writers Sonar 4 Publications has chosen to be in the Ladies of Horror 2010 collection. She is also working with the Timeship Universe Project on writing spin-offs for their Timeship Chronicles. Currently, the project is an alternate history of World War II.

You can find her free online vampire stories at Vamplit Publishing's Blood Read Magazine. Also, make sure you check out her blog for updates on all her projects.

Carole will take you on a journey filled with fallen angels, demons, vampires and insanity. It will be a ride you will never forget!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010


During this time of appreciation and gratitude for all the people and good times we have in our lives, this week's challenge was to compose some Thanksgiving Hell. No way could I pass this one up! This time, the prompt was words to incorporate into the story. They were slap, sleet, tureen, and felt. The genre was of our own choice and word count was 1,000 or less. I wish to all a very Happy Thanksgiving, and hopefully, your family get-togethers are much less stressful than my main character's. Please enjoy.


“I can’t believe this. What a surprise. Renting a hall at this nice cafĂ© just for me? I have to tell you, this is just what I needed after the day I’ve had today. Let me tell you…”

“Anna? How could you do this to me? You knew I was going to wear my favorite sweater and the skirt with the poodle design. But here you are, showing up in that hideous copycat outfit you made just to spite me. Your poodle doesn’t even look like a dog anyway. It looks like a beaver with sequins on it. Why don’t you just walk right up and slap me in the face? That would have hurt a whole lot less. How can I stay here now in the same restaurant with you? I’ll never be able to show my face in this town again.”

“Sara, it’s alright. No one is going to notice what the two of you are wearing. I mean, we’re all going to end up in the back room that you rented for my birthday party, aren’t we? It’s not really that important after all.”

“Not important? Not important? I don’t know what you consider important, but my reputation is critical to me. I have never felt so humiliated. And you, my own sister? How dare you talk to me like that? There’s just no accounting for taste sometimes. You know as well as I do that I told you first that I was going to wear this outfit tonight, and it is not a copycat outfit. Mother knows that I made this skirt and sweater long before you bought your dollar store version. Isn’t that right, Mother?”

“Aunt Estelle, please make your girls understand that it doesn’t make any difference to me or anyone else. I think they both look lovely and I’m just grateful that you all got together to throw me a surprise birthday party tonight. I love having my family with me on this special occasion, and I think we should just go on now to the back and have some cake and punch and just forget about all this nonsense. You see, I had a very rough day today. When I walked into work…”

“Nonsense? You think this is all nonsense? I never imagined you of all people to be so insensitive to your cousins’ feelings. How can you be so selfish? Sara, Anna, Uncle Bob and I are all the family you have left. Well, there’s your Uncle Dan, Aunt Flora, and their sons, William and Lester. Of course, they couldn’t make it tonight because they had other plans. Other plans. Right. They just think they’re better than the rest of us since Dan got that promotion. Let me tell you something. Being promoted to senior cook at the Burger Barn isn’t that big of a deal. All that means is that he’s the oldest windbag on that crew of thugs. I’ve had enough. I’m going home. You can go back there and have your cake and punch if that’s what you want so badly. Bob? Let’s get Anna and Sara home. They’re both upset and somebody here doesn’t have any regard for anyone’s feelings but his own. Come on girls, would you like to stop for some ice cream on the way home?”

Okay. Happy Birthday to me. You’re fucking right I’m going on back to eat that cake and drink that punch. Hope to God this joint’s got some 90 proof I can stir into it though. Yet another delightful evening with my family. Mom and Pop got lucky that night when they couldn’t see for all the sleet and Pop crossed the center line just in time to lock front ends with that semi. Their suffering was over. And mine? It had just begun. Yeah, the aunts and uncles and cousins took care of me those 8 years till I went out on my own, but now, on every occasion they deem special, like holidays, my birthday, their birthdays, Arbor Day, you know the drill, they make sure we all have to get together to have a party. I arrive, say 10 or so words, they start in on each other, they go home, and I’m left behind with plastic containers full of salads. Oh well. I’m not much of a cook and the stuff does feed me for a few days. Thanksgiving is coming up though and it’s my turn. They’ve all been invited to my house for dinner. The whole crowd. They’re all coming too. Dan and his gang don’t have other plans that day. I’m going to give them all different dinner times so they don’t all arrive together. This holiday is going to be the best ever.

* *

“A Very Happy Thanksgiving to us all! I’m so glad you could all make it today. I’m anxious for all of you to try out the meal I’ve prepared. As you know, I’m not much for cooking, but I wanted everything today to be extra special. Let me get you some homemade vegetable soup, Aunt Estelle. Recognize the tureen? It was Mom’s. Keeps everything nice and hot. Uncle Dan? You’ve got to try my dressing. I found some recipes in a magazine and tried them all. Cousin Anna and Cousin Sara? You both look so beautiful today in your striped sweaters and poodle skirts. William and Lester, get some ham and turkey. I know you are both still growing boys. Aunt Flora, why so quiet today? You usually have so many interesting tidbits of your life to share with the rest of us. Uncle Bob, more wine? I know how much you love the dark red kind.

Isn’t this the best time we’ve ever had together? None of you minded the double taps as you walked through the front door, did you? I didn’t think you would. Isn’t this cozy, all of us sitting here around the table. Now, about my day…”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This week's prompt was a starter sentence, and an enticing one it was. For your reading pleasure, I offer you, Attrition.


The train seemed unusually empty this morning. It was very odd to see so few of the regular riders in the middle of the workweek.

I, of course, was first on. I am always first on. Mrs. Johnston was there on the Winchester platform. She’s such a sweetheart, but she works way too hard for someone her age. I wish she didn’t have to get off at the second to last stop. That’s such an awful neighborhood. Why on earth would they even put a platform there when the only people around over there are gang members and drug dealers. I have to admit that I have never seen any one of them hop on the 7:04, that’s for sure. She doesn’t have to walk far to get to the houses she cleans, just a few blocks, and that area isn’t too bad. But getting to Grove Place from where she gets off this train has to be a frightening experience for her, what with all those low-lifes hanging around the platform and stairs, saying hateful things to her, grabbing at her handbag, when all she’s trying to do is get to her job. Well, this morning, she didn’t have to put up with that. I heard her telling Mr. Rivera that she was going all the way downtown right to the station this morning so that she could pop in and visit her husband in the hospital for a few minutes. Apparently, he had been cleaning their gutters and his foot slipped from the ladder and he fractured his hip. One of her employers told her they would pick her up by the First Street entrance and take her to her first house until he was discharged so she wouldn’t have to take the train twice. At least she will be safe for a few days anyway.

Mr. Rivera. That poor dear man. He got on right after Mrs. Johnston, which was strange since I hadn’t seen him for a couple of weeks. I heard him telling her that he hasn’t been riding since basically, he had nowhere to go. Evidently, his job at the plant had been eliminated when they lost three of their biggest customers. He hadn’t had much luck finding another position either, but this morning, he was on his way to a formal interview at one of the new factories by the docks. It would be a longer trip for him since he’d have to ride the train to the station and then take a couple of buses, but he had said the money would be well worth it. And, after all, any port in a storm. Right?

I really got worried when we just sailed right on through the stop at Clark because there was no one waiting there. I wondered what happened to Sara. She’s so young to be a mother, barely out of high school, but her baby boy is so adorable. She always rides on Wednesdays since she has a part-time job cleaning the offices down on Grove Avenue. She always gets off at Twelfth so she can drop the baby off at her mother’s, then catches the 8:50 to the station. I hope the baby’s not ill. She’s having such a hard time trying to make a living for her and her child. The baby’s father works three jobs at least and is trying to provide for them, but if the baby’s sick, that means doctors, and medicines and that kind of thing can end up being very expensive. I hope all is well with her.

I was so happy when we stopped at Palisades and Mr. O’Reilly got on. How I adore that fellow. He’s always smiling, and he always has a ’good morning’ for the conductor and everyone in the car. I always take a peek over his shoulder at the daily papers so I can keep up with current events. He always reads the comics too, and I love them so.

Usually, there are one or two new people every week, but perhaps they’re all getting on the other cars. That’s okay though, because this car’s riders are like family. We all know each other and each other’s lives and day-to-day issues, and it’s comforting somehow to just keep the car to ourselves. One new person did get on today however, but this person was not welcome today and would never be welcome again. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her get on. With you.

You were both laughing at some private joke when you got on. That was bad enough. I can’t tell you how much more it hurt when you guided her right to our seat. Our seat. The one you and I sat on every Wednesday for all those months while you were going to school downtown. Always that car. Always that seat. Now, you sit there with her. I heard you tell her how excited you were about graduating and getting the new job and how happy you were that since she also worked downtown, you could both ride the 7:04 together every morning. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to take that, having your affair thrown in my face every day. I just don’t know how I’m going to handle that.

I always believed you and I would be together. We first met on this train and I fell in love with you at the very moment I looked into your eyes. We talked and smiled and shared our hopes and dreams. You brought me coffee and treats and even a rose on my last birthday. Everyone in the car knew we were a couple. Everyone. Except you.

That last morning we were together--it seems so long ago now. There was no coffee. There were no treats. And, there definitely was no rose. You had told me you wouldn’t be going in that morning, and asked if I’d get off at your stop so we could chat. You said to meet you at the diner on the corner and we could have coffee there. I knew then that you were going to declare your eternal love for me. It made me smile. All that passion and romance at a corner table over coffee and perhaps toast with marmalade. It would be a moment I would remember all my life.

All I recall running through my mind as you walked me back up to the platform was how could this be happening. How could you tell me at a corner table over coffee and toast with marmalade that you were certain that I had misinterpreted your intentions? When you asked me where I got the insane idea that there was anything between us beyond two people who happened to share a seat on a morning train, I couldn’t breathe. I felt myself feeling very disoriented and disconnected while we ascended the stairs to the benches. You sat, and motioned for me to join you while we awaited the next run. You’d see me on my way, you said, this last time. In the future, you’d be riding in one of the other cars, you said. Because that would be for the best, you said.

I heard the next train long before I saw it. I knew you didn’t. You were too busy trying to explain to me that we never were. Never. As the train neared the platform and I jumped down onto the tracks, the last thing I heard was you saying ‘no‘, and the last thing I saw was your hand reaching out for me. Right. Now, you reach out for me.

So, here I am tonight, alone in the car, our car, sitting in our seat, waiting for the first morning run to begin. I had always believed there would be a brightly lit garden with a fountain full of cool, sweet water, and wings. Everyone would have wings. I would have wings. And I would feel safe. But, there is no garden. There is no cool, sweet water. There are no wings There is only darkness and loneliness and regret. I didn’t know I would have to forever ride this train. I didn’t know I couldn’t ever touch or be touched again. I didn’t know I’d be frightened of the night. I wish now at that very last second I had taken your hand. Then we would have been together. Forever.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The prompt this time was Teenage Summer, with the genre of your choice, and the word count under 1000. I should warn you--this is not exactly Frankie and Annette at Beach Blanket Bingo, but there are teenagers and then, there are teenagers. This is simply the recounting of how two of them spent one summer. After all, we all do march to a different drummer, don’t we… Please enjoy.


Mrs. Chamberlain and esteemed classmates, I am very pleased to be able to present to you the slides from my recent summer excursion. For our latest birthday, my twin brother, Zach, and I received new camera equipment and various types of mounts, which we happily took with us so that we would be able to share our experience with all of you. We were able to quickly make duplicates, so Zach is at Riverfront Boys Academy at this very moment sharing our memories with his professor and classmates. I cannot express strongly enough what this trip meant to both of us. Boarding here at our respective academic institutions since first grade has, of course, been an extremely rewarding experience. But at the time of holidays and other special occasions, our parents came to visit us, and we were not permitted to visit or view the outside world. However, since we now have both attained the age of 16, we can begin to utilize our training and go beyond the books. We can now truly experience life with all its perks and blessings.

Dale, would you please assist me and shut off the lights? I will now share with all of you my fondest memories.

This first one is a shot of our arrival at the airstrip. It’s a bit dark, since we were the only arrival that night, but that does really make things a whole lot easier. The crowds are so annoying, and all of you know how waiting irritates me. Our vehicles were readily available, and we were able to get quickly on our way to our cabin on the beach. We decided to go to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Apparently, young people of all ages congregate there for their summer vacations. We had heard that they party all night long and would be willing to go anywhere to do absolutely anything. Zach and I quickly decided that would be the perfect locale.

This next one was taken at the beach about a half mile from our cabin at noon. Notice all the young people, and all their bright and eager faces. Such a friendly crowd to be sure; all ready and willing to lend a hand with planning yet another evening’s festivities.

Here we have one showing a group of teens staying at a hotel down the beach from where Zach and I stayed. There were seven of them altogether. They had come down from some high school up north to spend a couple of weeks on the sand. We invited them all over for a cookout the third evening we were there, and they all came. They were positively delightful. Every one.

Here are Zach and I sitting down to breakfast in our cottage. We had plenty of leftovers from the cookout the night before, and we thought it would be fun to have something different in the morning. Notice how much space we had in that cabin. All the rooms were huge, especially the kitchen. All the latest appliances and cooking utensils, which really came in handy when you consider how much Zach and I both love to cook.

Now, this next one has such an odd side. We met this boy and his sister, who were also there on summer vacation just like us. We had them over for a cookout the very same night, and it was too wonderful. Small world, huh?

Here’s one of Zach and I at one of their gatherings one afternoon. We didn’t attend too many of them, of course, as Zach and I have quite the aversion to the sun. But it was enjoyable in its own way, and it did allow us to make the acquaintance of quite a number of young people and allow us to learn where they were staying. This made it possible for us to approach them at a later time to invite them to our cabin for a meal. The whole process seemed to flow quite smoothly when we encountered them away from larger groups.

This last one is of Zach and I after we had finished packing for our return and we so desired a remembrance of that wonderful cabin and the yard behind it that bordered the shore. See in the corner there, the large built-in grill. We truly enjoyed so many tasty meals that were prepared there, and it was perfectly constructed to accommodate our particular tastes. Believe it or not, after removing the heads and limbs, one was able to broil two entire torsos at the same time, and all the flesh cooked quite evenly.

This Fort Lauderdale place is quite the perfect location and Zach and I intend to return next summer. It is quite well stocked with the young and the fit--not an ounce of fat on any of them to be sure. A bit of seasoning of course, but tenderizing was not necessary for any of them. Let me know if any of you would like some recipes. I don’t have any for pre-teens; there weren’t too many of them at that particular time. Now, the older ones, for instance, the ones between, say, 21 and 25, I believe a rotisserie setup would be more advisable. Being larger and having more meat on them would most likely require a longer cooking time and constant turning for even browning.

In case any one of you would like to join us next year, you are more than welcome. In the event you plan on going on your own, you will have a very easy time of it. It’s amazing how complacent and trusting these young people are. Make sure you offer them some free alcoholic beverages and food, and they will come quite willingly. A couple of tablets in their drinks renders them quite cooperative, and then it’s on the grill with them and you’re off to prepare a nice salad.

Any questions?

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The Cycle 4 prompt was:
Monsters – write a story featuring at least one classic monster.
Genre: Mash-up! Mix monsters with genre of your choice.

I guess you could call mine a kind of suspense tale, maybe, with a monster thrown in the mix. Enjoy.


It was yet another dark and starless night--cool, crisp and overpoweringly seductive. I was intoxicated with the lure of your love and it drove me on to heights never before reached or even contemplated. The strong wind carried me to your balcony doors, open and ever inviting. Once within, I became, again, The One. The One for whom this moment in time has long awaited. I gaze upon your beauty in awe, knowing it is for this moment in time I also was created. My hand brushes against your alabaster cheek and you stir slightly--knowing, wanting, hoping. You turn your head and your raven hair shifts and reveals the prize I seek. The veins in your graceful neck pulse, and summon me home. I will bite deep and drink until your soul and mine are…


Thump. Crash.

"Damn owl! See what you’ve done? Again? You woke me up from my favorite dream. Only this time, I’ve also knocked down one of the vases from the side table. You know, if you keep this up, one of these days real soon, you’re going to find yourself laid out on a serving platter with parsley stuffed up your butt, a nice salad on the side and a goblet of chilled Chardonnay."


"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, no point in straining your throat or anything. I’m up now. Time to find some supper. Must be some O pos. or AB neg. in the fridge. I’m usually not this hungry when I first get up. Oh, terrific. First, you wake me from the only great dream I've ever had, and now you barge into my home and start poking around. I suppose you expect me to be hospitable and offer you something to eat. Well, alright, guy, I'm sure I can find something for you. What's your name anyway? What would an owl's name be? How about Blackie? Will that work for you? When I was a kid, I used to have a dog named Blackie. Not exactly the same thing here, but I'll just call you that, okay?

Stu? You're beyond pathetic. You're a vampire living in a deserted dusty old shell of a house that backs up against a no name dried out forest, entertaining and having a conversation with a bird. A one sided conversation, I might add. Ah well. Nobody promised me a rose garden, did they?

My 'Dark Gift'. Right. What a load of crap. You know, Blackie, here's some water for you. Anyhow, I was on my way home one night and there was this guy who looked like he'd been mugged or something on the road. So, I pulled over to see if I could give him a hand, and what do I get for my trouble? A bite on the neck, that's what. Another car came by, and he couldn't finish me off, so he does me just enough to turn me into a vamp like him. Then, he leaves me laying on the side of the road and takes off in my car. In my car. What kind of a self respecting bloodsucker drives? I always thought they turned into bats and flew away. Boy, did I have a lot to learn.

But, Blackie, old friend, we're a good team, huh? Couple of misfits. We'll do alright though. If you'd just stop waking me up from... What the hell is that?"

Stu saw a brief flash of light from the forest side of the property. The moon was shining brightly enough to enable him to see two men pushing something in a wheelbarrow. He couldn't figure out how they got back there without his knowing. They would have had to come up the long driveway from the road, then go around the house, through all the overgrown bushes and that certainly would have been noisy enough to attract his attention. Unless they had made the trek back there while he was asleep. Blackie's ungodly screech always woke him up, but this was a bad omen. Obviously, a person or persons unknown could roam the property at will while he was resting. What if they had decided to come into the house? Maybe he should get a dog. He knew he'd have to go back there to see what they were doing, and what in the world was in that wheelbarrow? When Stu got closer, he could hear them, and he also got a clear view of their load.

"Richie," the shorter one whined loudly, "can't we dump him here? He's so heavy, dead. Lonny was a fat pig alive, but now? What difference does it make anyway? Nobody lives here anymore. Why do we have to bury him? No one would ever come this far back?"

"Saul, Mr. Costanza said to take Lonny where no one would find him and bury him, and that's exactly what we are going to do."

Richie often wondered why he worked with Saul, and tonight was no exception. He was never content to simply follow orders. No matter what the job was, he always found something to complain about. Even this latest one, which had been going very smoothly until Saul decided to open his mouth.

"We got him outside of town, put a bullet between his eyes, and made it all the way back behind this old dump without anybody being the wiser. All we have to do is dig a bit and drop him in and then we'll cover him up with a bunch of leaves or something. No one's going to find him here, so it's not like we've got to put him deep. This place has been deserted for years. Alright, we'll do it here, Saulie, get started over there. The ground looks soft. I'll go through his pockets and make sure he's got no papers on him. Then, we'll just push the wheelbarrow behind those trees."

Saul started digging a shallow grave while Richie went through the corpse's pockets. Nothing. Perfect. Stu had heard enough. These men--these outsiders--were going to bury their kill on his land behind his house. How did this Richie character even know the house was back here? Only locals knew what was at the end of the long driveway, and they knew better than to come calling. He decided he'd have to teach these intruders a lesson. He'd have to make it clear that they need to bury their dead in their own back yard. He couldn't have snoopers and reporters and coppers roaming all over. That's how it went down on the TV shows. Criminals think they haven't left any clues, but something gives them away, and then there's no stopping it. Searchlights and crime scene tape, the yard all dug up, and then, the house. Yes. They'd come in and tear it apart looking for anything and they would find Stu, resting.

That would be bad enough because he knew what people did when they found vamps. He'd seen enough documentaries. Worse yet, what if he was out and they came in and discovered his bed, surrounded by all those dark curtains. They'd know something was up and he could never go back there. Where would he spend his days then? He probably should have listened to the others and got himself a coffin and stashed it in the cellar. But, he couldn't stand the thought of laying down in one of those contraptions. Too creepy.

No. He wasn't going to just stand by and allow his home to be violated and taken away from him. He'd figure out something to keep them all away. Let's see now, he thought, what would Columbo do?

Early the next morning as Stu was preparing to hit the sack for the day, he heard the first of the sirens. He had to smile. He had time before sunrise, and decided to stroll down to the village and get as close as he could to see if his plan had worked. Seeing all the flashing red lights and policemen told him it had. So many people standing around, taking pictures, measuring just everything in sight, and sealing off the area. And right in the middle of it all, a body right in the center of Main Street. While Stu was proud of the location he chose for Lonnie's new resting place, he was most proud of the note he's pinned to the body's jacket. Stu had written 'My name is Lonnie. Richie and Saul murdered me on orders from Mr. Costanza.' He had no idea who any of those people actually were, but he was sure the police would. Now, the focus would be on the individuals involved and not on his back yard. He put the wheelbarrow left behind that he used to move Lonnie right in front of Mr. Johanson's lumber yard. He was sure they'd be able to make use of it.

He hurried home to find Blackie sitting on one of the living room window's sills.

"Hello, old boy. Well, that took care of the problem this time, but what about the next? You know as well as I do that sooner or later, somebody's going to find us back here and ruin everything. I was thinking maybe I'd take in a boarder. Someone who's up during the day. I know this werewolf one county over, sleeps in somebody's garage. I'll bet he'd be happy to have a roof over his head. But, that screech thing you do. You might want to watch that. He might not be quite as understanding as I am..."

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This week things were a bit different. The prompt was a themed word list. The words were omen, umbrella, shallow and death. Perfect for this scary time of year. Here's my tale--a bit of darkness for you. Enjoy!


“Well, good morning, dear. How are you on this bright and sunny morning? Fancy running into you on the Boulevard. I’ve never seen you strolling here before, or anywhere, for that matter. I’d heard you even order your groceries on your computer thingy and have Billy Turner deliver them to your doorstep. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, my dear, nothing wrong with it at all. I mean, Billy does have his mama to provide for…in that awful place. Of course, I’m not one to spread stories about folks, but before you moved here, his mama had been found doing just some terrible things to Billy’s sister, Cassie Jean, and then they found Cassie Jean dead, hanging from the barn rafters, and according to the paper, the manner of her death was said to be suicide. Billy was there when they came and took his mama away, but he’s such a good boy. He makes sure she has money in some account where she’s at so she can buy some candy. She did always love her candy. Did you see that new shop on the corner? I’ve just made a purchase there. I bought a brand new umbrella. I didn’t require a new one, mind you, but it was so precious looking and so functional and I just couldn’t pass it by. Do stop in there now, honey, they have some lovely handbags and such, and reasonably priced too. Well, I’ve got to run now. You take care, and don’t be such a stranger. I’ll have to add you to my list of notifications about card parties and charity luncheons and the like. You all alone in that big house on the hill--bring some life into it, host some events and…got to run. The light changed. See you, sweet pea!”

Oh. My. God. I need a nap. And a drink. Or a drink. Then a nap. Then another drink. And I neither drink or nap. Serena Mc-something-something-something--she’s got three or four last names from three or four husbands--is someone I try wholeheartedly to avoid at all costs, and I usually succeed. But, on occasion, even the best laid plans and all that. Sweet and caring person, she is, who has taken me on as her personal cause. Get me out of the house. Get me involved in the town’s activities. Fix me up with some eligible man. Hell. I like being in the house, I’m not a shallow or vindictive individual, I’m just pathologically anti-social, and the love of my life was taken from me at our front door just a few months ago in a mugging attempt. Attempt. Why do they call it an attempt? They mugged him after all. Witnesses said he gave them what they asked for without resisting, but they shot him in the face anyway. They were subsequently arrested and convicted, and so? No sense of closure there for me though. No such fucking thing.

Then, I get the news that my father, who left us when I was a kid, had died safe and warm in his bed--oh, I’ll sleep much better now--and left me a big house in some rinky-dink town a hundred miles from the ass end of nowhere. So, never being one to stop to weigh the consequences of anything, ever, I left my apartment in the city, with it’s dark and deadly doorway, and came here, basically, to regroup. I didn’t know where my father had been all these years and didn’t care much really, but he did leave his house to me, so there’s that, I guess. I’m trying to look at it like it’s some kind of omen of good things to come. Like, maybe the place he began again might be a chance for my new beginning. I know that’s all crap, but I have to have something to grab, you know? Stop the freefall.

I did make a friend here though, and that’s a big deal for me. Like I said, I’m generally so anti-people. My Davey was what’s called a people person. He got along with anybody and everybody and was a friend to all he met. He often told me that’s what made us the perfect couple--complete opposites who each compliment the other. But he’s dead, so I should move on, right? Live in the now, right? Yeah. Right.

My new friend’s name is Charmaine. Charmaine Bradley. She’s a few years older than I am, but that’s okay. She’s honest and straight-talking, and she’s a widow too. Hers died in some battle in one of the wars and she carries his dog-tags in her pocketbook to this day. She’s a feisty broad, and I love her. Well, I did. No. I do. Why is it just because somebody hasn’t been around for a few days, we start speaking of them in the past tense? Charmaine is. Not was. She probably decided to visit her grandkids for a few days. Her car’s still in her driveway, but nothing’s disturbed and her house is locked up tight. I checked. I’ll see her at the soda shop by week’s end. I’m certain of it. I will. Please.

A new shop did just open in town on the Boulevard, as Serena calls it. The Boulevard. Sure. One block of a few small Mom-and-Pop businesses. Well, work with what you have. Apparently, the location has been dormant for some time. Goes to show that not too many exciting things occur here because I think the entire town showed up for the opening. Not me. I wait until Day Two. You know. That being-around-people thing.

Looks good from the outside. Basil’s Basics. How quaint. Gag and a half. Oh well, I’m here, so I may as well look around. I see now. Basics. Handbags, umbrellas and wallets for men and women and that’s it. Interesting. The stuff does look like quality merchandise, and buying a new wallet or purse here wouldn’t exactly put me in the poor house. You have to wonder though, how long they’ll last. How many purses and such can one town buy? Ah well. Not my concern.

Now, this umbrella looks like something I could live with. Nice and sturdy looking. The tag says it won’t fold up in a strong wind and will never leak. Alright. I’ll take it. Then, I’ll return to my home, alone, and await an invitation to one of Serena’s social events. Or a call from Charmaine saying she’s back and let’s meet at the corner for a root beer float. I could sure go for a root beer float. With Charmaine.

It just occurred to me that maybe Serena and her friends are right. I have zero life. I’m in my house, alone, with all the drapes, blinds and windows closed, inspecting my new umbrella. It’s got such a great feel to it, I have to admit, like it’s been treated with something. That’s probably what stops it from folding up and leaking. Weird. Weird, yes, but soft and comforting somehow. I know it’s supposed to be bad luck, but you know I want to open it. Just to see. Okay. So the inside of an umbrella is nothing earth-shattering, but I’m opening it anyway. First, though, I think I’ll fix myself a drink.

Great. Opens really big. One finally that will actually prevent me from getting wet in the rain. But, what’s this? A mark? A stain next to one of the spokes? Crap. I didn’t pay a fortune, but I don’t pay for garbage. No. Wait. I’ll be damned. It’s like a picture of something. No. A word, maybe. Tor…? Ton…” Yes. Tomm. Tomm? No. Can’t be. What the fuck? Charmaine showed me a tattoo she got the night her husband got shipped overseas. The doer was a friend of a friend and drunk as a skunk and spelled his name wrong. They laughed about it and decided to leave it, thinking it would someday turn out to be one of those memories you treasure, and all that gunk. She never got it fixed. His name was Tom, but the moron tattooed it on as Tomm. Just like on the inside of my new umbrella. I say again. What the fuck? What’s their number? Where did I put that damn receipt?


“Pack up everything now, boys, we’re on the move again. Just got a call from the lady who bought that umbrella. You know, the one I didn’t want to put out in the showroom? Raymond, it was you who said no one will ever notice because who looks inside their umbrella. Well, this lady evidently did, and she said she saw something very disturbing and wants to bring it by in the morning to see if I can clear up her confusion about it.

I hate to relocate so soon; we’ve just opened up and have almost depleted our inventory from the last shop. We could have done a good business here, but no sense taking any chances. We’ll just go across the river and change our name again and start fresh. We’ll need to build up some stock though, so we’ll make a quick sweep of the homeless camps on our way. There are a number of them just outside the city limits. They’re always willing to go along with the promise of a few dollars and a home-cooked meal. No time at all and we’ll be open for business again.

And Raymond? Just a couple of reminders. First of all, let’s try to keep customers as customers and not use them as merchandize, okay? Not much profit in that, is there? Secondly, before you skin a person and prepare their hide for the chemical bath, check them thoroughly for any identifying marks and/or tattoos. Those really don’t come out during processing, and someone picking up a wallet or a handbag that reminds them, literally, of their Uncle Phil who’s been missing for a week or so, is not terribly good for business. Alright then? Super. Let’s load up the van. Sun’s almost up. We want to get to the camps before they’re all up getting their breakfast. Hard to cut a few from the herd by then, so to speak…”

Monday, October 4, 2010


Another tempting prompt this week for Flash Fiction Friday. This time, the first sentence was supposed to be "Mom said I was going to be something one day." How can you pass that one up! Here's my story. Hope you enjoy.


Mom said I was going to be something one day. She meant it too. She always knew I was destined for greatness.”

“Oh, right. You. And , I suppose I was destined to reside in a cardboard box at the ass end of an alley.”

“Now, Randall, you know I didn’t mean anything like that. You always were a bright fellow. It’s just that, well, I am able to function comfortably on an academic level, and you seem to be more at home…”

“Where, Richard, you fucking moron? Academic level? You’re such a waste of good space. You’re afraid to leave the damn house. You want the groceries delivered to your doorstep. You want your mail shot silently through a slot in your front door. You keep all the six-inch thick curtains drawn and all of your stainless steel blinds closed. So, because I choose to live in the real world and actually have physical contact with other people, I’m not as good as you? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Of course not, Rand, and let’s not exaggerate about my choices in window dressings. It is simply that the sort of other people you desire to have physical contact with is, at times, most distressing. I am, of course, referring to those, um, unsanitary women. I will just never understand how you could bring such shame into our household. You broke our mother’s heart, you know. And dad? He was positively livid when he caught you with that three-legged woman. A three-legged woman, Ran? I mean, how could you?”

“Richard, Richard, Richard, don’t make such a big fucking deal out of it. It was only the one time, and I was basically just experimenting. There was no reason for the old man to go ballistic and start hollering and making her feel so bad. You know I’m right, don’t you? It was his fault to begin with. In the first place, he should have knocked. After all, I was in my own room, wasn’t I? Okay. So he just barged in and saw what he saw. You have to admit, it was kind of funny. Well, maybe not exactly funny, but regardless. Once he was in and when he was finished gasping, he should have just gone back to his den or wherever and left us alone. It wouldn’t have taken long, and the whole incident would have been forgotten. But, no. He had to go and grab mom and pull her in there and point at us, and then they’re both gasping and hollering… I had to do something, didn’t I? I had to react, didn’t I? I couldn’t just sit back and let them both call her ugly names and hurt her feelings, now, could I?”

“Well, no, I suppose not. But, Randall, I do believe you crossed a line. I mean, did you have to go so far as to…”

* * * * * * * * * *

“Dr. Milner, sir, I have a question if I may. How long has the patient been exhibiting this type of behavior--alternating between his own personality and that of his deceased brother?”

“Jackson, is it? Yes. Mr. Jackson. As a medical student, and frankly, even without any clinical training, common sense tells us that separation of conjoined twins is, at the very least, a complex process, physically. But, from a psychological standpoint, one can only imagine the trauma each party is experiencing before, during, and after the surgery. Now, add to that having your expectations and anticipations dashed when the other part of you is not only removed, but does not survive the procedure. Once recovery was well underway following the operation, he began speaking to, and for, his lost sibling. That is also when he began his violent attacks on the staff, and it was then that the decision was made that he, as well as his caregivers, would be safer if he remained in the isolation unit. It became more and more difficult to discern which of ‘them’ was initiating the attacks as well. Their identities have literally become a blur over time. But, as you can all see, that hasn’t diminished the bond with his brother--in his mind, that is. Therefore, we must exercise great caution when interacting with this particular patient or any of the others, for that matter, since the reality in their minds is the only reality they know. To feel compassion for them is to let your guard down, and unwittingly buy into their distorted view of their existence.

Any further questions? Simms?”

“Well, sir, a few of us were wondering about something. Under the law, did they murder their parents, or would the courts just consider one of them guilty, and is it even correct to refer to them as a ‘them’?”

“Absolutely, Mr. Simms, was it? They were two separate and distinct human beings joined at the hip, to put it very simply. As to who actually committed the murder, well, that depends on which one of them you were speaking with at the time. They were both covered with blood and they called each other by both names at the time, and since no one was ever really close to the family, it was impossible to make that determination. The hope was that by separating them physically, the truth might come to light. Of course, at present, that’s not relevant. Both in one body and both extremely dangerous. But since he’s confined for life, I suppose it could be said that justice has been served, no?

Well, let’s leave them to their verbal volleys, and head on over to the hospital cafeteria for a bite of lunch. Oh, look. It’s Bar-B-Q on special today. Pick up the pace, people. The line’s already out into the hallway. Following our meal, I thought we’d swing by Unit 11 to observe some of our younger killers. Not one over the age of 12 in there. There’s one you just have to observe to believe. That ten year old took two of the family’s carving knives and…

Wait. Cherry pie with whipped cream for dessert. Mr. Rivers, grab one and then pass it down to me. They always run out by the time I get to the desserts. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. The killer children. On a warm and breezy summer day not long ago, the ten year old fruit loop in Room 1107 gets up before mommy, daddy, and sissy...”

Thursday, September 23, 2010


This is my story for the first prompt of Flash Fiction Friday, and the prompt is a great one. We were supposed to use the following as the first sentence: 'Why aren't shoes ever abandoned in pairs?' The possibilities are endless. Make sure you check out the site and read every one of the stories. I most certainly plan to. I really enjoy seeing what different people do with the same phrase or prompt. No two are ever the same. So, without further ado, my little tale. Hope you enjoy.


“Why aren’t shoes ever abandoned in pairs?”

When I said that out loud, I wasn’t so much asking with the hope of receiving an answer, as I was attempting to ease the tension on what was quickly promising to become yet another in a long line of depressing and disappointing investigations.

I’m a detective--homicide’s my specialty, and whatever the outcome of any of my cases, trust me, nobody wins. The thing is, there’s always a somebody who dies, always a mother or father who lose a child, always a grandma or grandpa brought to their knees in shame when they find out their grandbaby’s a killer. Oh yeah. It’s really rewarding work. Whichever way you look at it, it’s nothing but loss all the way around.

And tonight? I got sent out to the warehouse and dock district at 2 am because some good citizen, who chose to remain nameless and who had no legitimate reason for being down there in that hellhole anyway, stumbled upon a large pool of blood, and about 20 feet away, a woman’s red high heeled shoe. Just the one. In its heyday, it probably had some sparkle. I wondered if it’s owner had some too. Sparkle, that is.

Damn, I hate this one. I hate them all, but cases like this, I despise most of all. I’m going to walk around in a haze, wondering what kind of a woman wore that shoe and what was she doing down here and where is she now and why did she leave the one shoe behind for me to find. And she did leave it there for me to find. I’m sure of it. Well, I know why. To push me back to waking up staring at the bottom of a whiskey bottle, wondering where the fuck I was. It’s been four years, 8 months, 3 weeks, 6 days, and 13 hours, give or take. Just in case you were wondering.

“Boss? Hey, boss? You still with me?”

My partner. The next Dirty Harry Callahan? Not likely. The little hotshot believes he’s super cop. The way he pushes, he won’t live to see 30, but his mom will get his badge in a nice frame for her mantle. So there’s that.

So, there’s a whole lot of nothing to do now; just go home and wait for something. And dream of my mystery lady wearing her one red high heeled shoe. And wondering. Is she safe and warm tonight? Is she anything? Tonight?


Her body washed up the next afternoon and got caught in the pilings by one of the piers. She still had the little tote bag fastened to her waste-band with a safety pin, and the red high heeled shoe’s mate was still tucked safely inside. I should have seen it. I should have known it belonged to Rosie. Old and worn, with a touch of light. Like her. Before.

I’d known Rosie for the past 10 or 15 from my very first beat. We all used to call her Nosey Rosie, because she was always where she shouldn’t have been, watching what she shouldn’t have been watching, taking what she shouldn’t have been taking… You get the picture. Once I made detective, and a few more bucks, I made sure I slipped her a twenty every Sunday night on the corner of Harris and Champlain to cover a roof for the week and some eats. Thing is, I was temporarily tapped yesterday, and figured I’d catch up with her Monday evening. Well, it’s Monday evening, and Rosie just got zipped up in a gray body bag. So much for the best laid plans…

The man surfaced about a hour after Rosie did--gutted like a fish. No doubt the owner of the entire blood pool. No ID, no fingerprints--no fingers, actually. Teeth still there though, so maybe we can get something from dental records; although, his didn’t appear to have enjoyed too many regular 6-month checkups. But, you never know. He was wearing a fairly decent looking suit when he was sliced and diced, so maybe someone might miss him and report it. Then, Adam 12 and I will find out who he was, which usually puts you on the road to resolution. But for some reason, I have my doubts about solving this one. It’s my gut again telling me not to get my hopes up. Years of slurping the hard stuff have messed it up something awful, but when it talks to me, it’s usually right.

Decided to begin the paper trail before Cap got his hooks in me. Our precinct captain was a by-the-book, dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ kind of prick. Not that there’s anything really wrong with doing things right, you understand, but there are times when his attitude really gets in the way of good police work. Know what I mean? Anyhow, I get to the station and start grabbing some of the forms, when Himself summons me to his office.

It would appear there’s been some word from the top, whatever and whoever that is, that this case needs to be solved just as quickly as is humanly possible. Apparently, our gentleman, who had the misfortune of running into a descendant of Jack The Ripper, was of more importance than I had realized, fairly decent suit notwithstanding. I was informed that the large blood deposit had been 'removed' so as not to associate that area of town with his demise. Evidently, the techs were being 'advised' to confirm that he was 'violated' elsewhere, and dumped up river and just so happened to drift there.

Hmmm. The things people will do so as not to tarnish somebody’s reputation. I didn’t give a damn why he was there. All I gave a crap about was that he was murdered there and dumped like yesterday’s leftovers. There was somebody bigger than me though who did care if people knew he was there, so that’s the way it would be written up. For me, by the way--not by me. I was told I didn’t need to 'worry' myself about writing this one up. It was all being taken care of. I could just go home and look forward to the next callout at 2 am.

I asked my esteemed boss about Rosie and the shoe she lost. I mean, she was there where she obviously shouldn’t have been--again, and saw what she shouldn’t have seen, and paid for it with her life this time. I suggested maybe dusting the shoe for prints, DNA, something, and was told it had been sent to City with her body to be ‘disposed of’. There would definitely be no mention of Cozy Rosie…Nosey Rosie, I corrected him…whatever, he continued. No mention of her or that ridiculous shoe in the vicinity of this crime. That would just be adding way too much more drama to an already extremely stressful situation. ‘Extremely stressful situation’? What?


Went to the corner diner and had a BLT and black coffee and waited until I saw my boss leave the building. I went back in and dropped my gun and badge on his desk. Made a stop on my way home and picked up a quart of one of my old friends. Just poured myself a shot.

Rosie had always said that I was one of the good guys, and she also said that I was smart enough to know when to tap out. Here’s to you, Rose. I sure as hell hope you were at least half right…

Monday, September 6, 2010


What an intriguing starter sentence! Of course, they are ALL classic, aren't they? I was determined I was going to complete this one on time, and I'm back on track--I hope. Please enjoy.


He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk. Can you believe it? I picked it up and what did I see? An ugly black dot of a pooch squatting on somebody’s ten grand lawn. I thought, this old dude is a nut job. You want to hire me to do what--and you want me to split what--and where’s your straight jacket, pops? You leave it in the taxi on your way in here?

Let me back peddle some right about here. Name’s Lenny. Lenny Worchovsky, and you’re…? Well. Anyhow, I’m a dick. Now, get your mind up out of that sewer. I’m a detective. That kind of dick. Private, mind you. I don’t serve the public. Only those who pay cash up front.

Fast forward. This old guy that I figure to be around 175 years old, strolls into my base like he knows what day of the week it is, drops a few bills on the desk, and offers me a proposition. This dwarf of a mongrel in the photo, he says, belongs to a rich fella who will pay a pretty penny to get it back in the event the furry thing should turn up missing. He wants to share this score with me since my legs still work.

Now, I’ve been known to take some gigs that were, shall we say, peculiar, but snatch a dog and hold it for ransom? Even I wouldn’t dip that low. But, you see, since cash fanned out in front of me in hundred dollar denominations works wonders on any ethical dilemmas I might be experiencing, I said I was in.

He had done the recon and knew when ‘it’ would be alone in the yard for a time. I’m to stuff it into a valise, drop a note, and later on, trade the valise for the cash. Then, meet up with my new ‘partner’ and split the take. I wondered what Rio was like this time of year.

I get back to the office with the mutt, and the first thing the geezer does is pull off its collar, remove the tracker on it, and drop it, still blinking, on my desk. Of course, the dog is wearing a tracking device, Lenny--you stupid chump. Then, the old man sucker punches me twice. Once, with the news that the animal is worthless--it’s the millions worth of diamond chips sewn inside his collar that he’s after. Apparently, the fleabag is a world traveler and new collars containing different treasures await him at his various destinations. The second punch came hard, and was over the head with the vase that once held roses I bought for my ex. I never refilled it once she bailed on me. Silly me.

So here I am now, in a phone booth, on the corner of Going-Nowhere Street and I’m-So-Fucked Boulevard. On the run, since somebody went through my office last night like a cyclone. Not one of my better decisions, taking on the old cuss, but you know? We all err, my friend, do we not? I sincerely appreciate your letting me spill here too, Mr….uh….dog guy, and if I may, I’d like to just conclude with a couple of points.

First, let me find the old man and return your diamonds to you. If you want to know the absolute truth, there’s a few issues my fists would like to discuss with both sides of his head. Last, and really not least, give a sap a break and don’t have me snuffed. Keep all the bling and stick me with the dog. Going into this whole mess blind like I did, I figure I deserve that.

Of course, I’ve found that carrying this minute dust ball around in my breast pocket is a real babe magnet. You know? Maybe we can both still come out of all this as winners. What do you think, Mr., didn’t catch the name, um, dog guy? Sir? Hello? Hello? You still there?