Wednesday, March 30, 2011


This week’s challenge was to create a period fiction piece; a pulp styled story set between 1900 and 1950. The genres would be pulp ones like Adventure, Detective, Fantasy, Horror, Noir, Romance, Science Fiction, War or Western. The word count was to be under 1800 words.

As much as I enjoyed writing this one, I truly hope I’ve set some kind of a mood here for possibly the 1940’s. That’s what I was aiming for and hopefully I’ve hit my target. Please enjoy.


Two packs of smokes and a bottle of hooch. My pay for a job well done. Fine by me, sure, but I do believe Betts will blow sky high. Three weeks’ tailing a dame, watching her smooching up her husband, Richie’s best friend, giving the husband proof she’s playing him for a sucker, he decides to forget the mess and takes her back. Most days I wonder why I bother getting out of bed, and today was sure no exception. Betts will be back soon and I have to come up with a plan on how to break it to her. Wait. Let me explain Betts to you so you get my drift.

My name’s Mo. Mo Pollniak. I was christened Maurice, but nobody’s allowed to use that on me. Okay, so it was alright for Ma and the nuns down at The Virgin Mary of the Sacred Woods School, but that’s it. My Pop got runned down by a beer truck one Saturday morning when I was 2, so I don’t really remember what he used on me. But Ma worked on the line over at the bicycle factory right up till the day she died so I’d be able to eat and go to parochial, so it all worked out.

I’m a PI, in case you were wondering, and I’ve been doing this near to 30 years now. I never eat breakfast, I shave at least once a week, I hang my one suit out on the fire escape to air out, and the Chinese lady down the hall washes and irons my shirts out of pity since she thinks that I’m broke and a real loser. Smart lady. Now let’s get back to Betts.

I first opened my business in an abandoned store front, just stood a handmade sign in the window that said ‘Mo Pollniak-Investigations‘; you know, all classy like, and she walked in. Said her name was Betsy Malone, but if I ever didn’t call her just Betts, she’d break my arm. Her man had went out for a shot and a beer three weeks ago, and hasn’t been home since. She needed a job, this was close enough to walk to so she wouldn’t need carfare, she’d work cheap and she made the best sandwiches in the State. She started that afternoon. The best thing about Betts is when a job gets done, she makes sure we get paid. Not sure what I’m going to tell her about our latest though. Gotta think…

When she got back from lunch, slammed the door, and threw a bag with two roast beef on rye and a cream soda on my desk, I wondered how she found out about Richie. Was I ever barking up the wrong alley…

“I knew it. She told me he was going to kill her and now she’s dead. The cops are wandering around in circles as usual and he’s going to get away with it just like she said he would. Mo? You’ve got to do something!”

I asked her if I could eat my sandwiches while she told me the story, and once the drop-dead look in her eyes passed, I took that as a yes.

On her way back to the office, she passed this town’s only hotel, cops all over it. Betts’ friend, one of the maids, was outside, and told her a man named Howard Marshand had found his wife, Suzanne, strangled in their room.

“What the hell was Suzanne doing here in a hotel anyway?” Betts was boiling mad. “She and I went to St. Mary’s together and her Daddy had some money and when he died, he left her the house and enough cash to get by. I hated it when she married that Marshand character. He’s low-life scum that just lived off her all these years. He’s a lying bum, and the last time I talked to her about 2 months ago, she said she knew he was planning to get rid of her. He had some floozy on the side and wanted the house and the cash. Mo, I’ve never asked you to get involved in my business, but I am this time. I can’t prove it, but I know he killed her. Please?”

First ‘please’ in 30 years. How could I say no.

I got the scoop from one of the uniforms at the scene. The happy couple had booked the weekend to spark their fire, but got into it over something, and he left to spend the night with his part-time gal. Real classy gent. When he got back to the room this afternoon, the poor kid was on the floor with a scarf knotted around her neck. She had an ugly gash in the back of her head too and the desk had blood on a corner. Somebody wanted her real dead.

I went up to the room to have a look-see and my old pal, Lt. Dave Hastings, was finishing up.

“What do you want here, Pollniak? A real crime happened in here.”

I knew he’d be thrilled to see me.

“Just looking around, Dave,” I said. “Can’t hurt to have an extra set of eyes on it, right? Who’s the broad he spent the night with anyway? She alibi him?”

I could tell he wasn’t in a very cooperative mood.

“Not that it’s any of your beeswax, Mo, but her name’s Molly something, and she lives in those rooms in Riverdale. She gave a statement that Marshand ate dinner over there, played some canasta, and he stayed the night, like they were some regular dick and jane. End of story. Let her be, okay? This time, the husband didn’t do it so we gotta start looking somewhere else. Now, beat it, huh? Doc will be here soon to get her out of here.”

For some reason, I didn’t feel quite as good about Molly something’s word as Dave did. I figured it was about time I stuck my nose in where it didn’t belong.

* * * * * * * * * *

A week later, Betts comes in, smiling ear to ear.

“It’s over, Mo. It’s all in this morning’s paper. That son-of-a-bitch confessed and the cops were right there listening. They had it all set up. She got him over to her place and told him she wanted him to take his clothes and scram. She said she knew that he had murdered his wife while he was wearing his brown jacket because she found out what happened to the missing button. He said he didn’t know anything about a damn button, and besides, he had been wearing his blue jacket when he killed her--not the brown one--and she’d better clam up about it or she’d get hers. Well, the cops came out and arrested him right then. Can you believe it?”

Uh-huh. I sure could. All it took to shake his little gal up was a quick phone call one night, letting her know she shouldn’t alibi a murderer since the cops were planning to arrest her too unless she came clean. See, they found the button. When he was choking his wife’s lights out, she pulled a button off his jacket and they found it clenched in her cold dead hand. Molly put the phone down to check the closet, and mumbled something that sounded like ‘lying bastard’ before she hung up.

There wasn’t actually a button found, you know. A wife, she isn’t going to let her man leave the house with a button missing, but a girlfriend? A man doesn’t spend time with a girl like Molly because of her abilities as a seamstress. I knew there had to be at least one button missing from something he stashed at her place.

Betts handed me three roast beefs on rye and two cream sodas. There was a pickle in wax paper and a napkin too. Out loud ‘Thanks’ and ‘You’re Welcome’ would have been sappy and were already understood. I was ready to chow down and grabbed at that pickle when Betts said “By the way, Mo. Did Richie ever stop by to pay us for trailing after that cheating tramp of his?”


Thursday, March 24, 2011


This week's was a tough one for me since Sci-Fi is not something I'm too comfortable with writing. Love to read the stuff, but writing it is a whole other thing. The prompt words were terrific, and I assure you I researched each one very carefully. Hopefully, it all comes together well in my story. I really hope you enjoy.

Prompt: THEMED WORD LIST: Stellar Engine, mind food, needler, superluminal, and wetware

Genre: Sci-fi themed pot-boiler


Day 1

I could be a wack-job and start my transmissions with ‘Star Date…’, but I won’t. Leo, I know you’d can my ass if I did and I couldn’t blame you for it. I’ll be sending my notes as events occur, but I’ve been told most days will be pretty routine.

I’m Mickey Dane, star reporter for the Beckindale Bugle--okay--the only reporter, who won the draw to accompany the crew on the maiden voyage of the Dionysus, named after the Greek God of wine and fertility. What a perfect mix! Sorry. Anyway, there’s Captain Roger DeWayne, and Crew, Thomas Chalmers, David Willings, and Charlie Harver. Computers do most of the work. No broads, which is fine with me by the way, being a very happily married man and expecting his first kid. Got all that? Good.

So this ship was designed to haul and dispose of, in deepest space, the most vile of the vile biohazards. When we get to a certain point out there, we will drop the load which, in theory, will drift forever and hopefully be absorbed into some black hole. I’m no scientist, but it sounds kind of iffy to me. When I asked if it could ever end up coming back to Earth and wiping us all out, I was told no way, guaranteed. I suppose it’s alright then to chance the release of all this crap on some other civilization’s planet and waste them. Better them than us. Man’s humanity and all that bullshit. Glad I’m on their side is all I’ve got to say.

Anyhow, we took off and we’re about to go superluminal for awhile till we reach some dot on the charts. I’m going to grab a powdered snack and nod off for awhile. Later.


Day 5

Not much going on. The guys are pushing a lot of buttons and switching charts around. I can feel the difference in speed though, like when Dad punched the accelerator on the family’s station wagon when I was a kid. Still a rush. We’re still nowhere near our destination and not much is going to be happening till we get closer, so I’m going to sign off and get back to my Solitaire. Got some comics too about space monsters. Why not, right?


Day 9

I’m sure it’s me, I mean, I’m not exactly Flash Gordon here, but the Captain seems to be acting a bit off. The crew hasn’t said anything to me and why would they; I’m just a tag along, but I know they sense it too. He hardly talks anymore and sits and stares a lot. He’s been hitting that stuff they call mindfood pretty hard. Who am I to talk, but I thought that was like a supplement. I’m feeling something hinky going on here. Later.


Day 14

I was right. Something’s VERY wrong. Crew’s worried, saying there’s a wetware problem. According to my pocket dictionary, that’s capital B-A-D. The Captain’s disabled the needler, some kind of high-tech ray gun I think, and they’re p.o.’d . Not sure what that’s about. There’s a chart missing too that we need. Really didn’t need to hear that. I’ll keep you posted.


Day 20

Weirder every day here. No one’s talking to me anymore and the crew thinks we need to abort, but nothing’s working right and stuff’s messed up or missing. The Captain just sits with this I’ll-kick-your-ass-if-you-speak-to-me stare so no one does. Am I scared? As hell is hot.


Day 25

Apparently, our Captain believes he is God. He announced we weren’t going to dump our load on ‘his people’. We are going to keep it and carry it till we can’t anymore. What? The crew knows he’s sabotaged the ship and Tom has assumed command. Roger has been tied up, but I wish they’d gag him too. Mindfood O.D., I think. He believes he has to protect this galaxy’s inhabitants from men, which he no longer is of course, and said we’re never going to be able to dump it or go home either. I was told to keep transmitting; maybe Command Central can come up with something, although I don’t see a rescue ship being launched any time soon.

Truly, I don’t give a fuck about all this nobility garbage. I just want to go home. Tom said we could maybe latch on to some star and become a stellar engine. We point home and radiation gives us thrust and the star and our ship land in San Francisco Bay. All hypothetical, but worth a shot. I’m no choir boy, but if you’re listening God, the real one, the prayers are going to be coming hot and heavy.


Day 28

Evidently, the stellar engine plan was a bust, so this will be my last transmission. It’s so dark out there and it’s getting colder in here every day. The crew took some pills and closed their eyes hours ago. They’re a lot colder than me now, so I know that for them, this nightmare is over.

Suzanne, honey, know that I am sorry I entered that lottery. I just had to be a big-shot newsman, first to report on this new disposal method. Please forgive me, and tell the son I will never know that I love him now and always will.

I guess I didn’t pray hard enough because there weren’t any pills left over for me. I’m going to look around though and maybe I can find something. Anything will do. I just don’t know how much longer I can take listening to Roger laugh…


Sunday, March 20, 2011


This is another flash piece for a prompt from the Terrible Minds site. Are you ready for this? It’s supposed to be BABY PULP FLASH FICTION. You read it right. It’s supposed to be baby-centered pulp flash. Classic. I normally don’t churn them out quite this quickly, but this one really did write itself. Have fun reading it. I’m still laughing from writing it.


This big kid thing involves some heavy-duty gigs. Like the other night, for instance. A little back-story first though. I’m sacking out in my toddler bed in Elaine and Jack’s room while mine is being pimped. Elaine and Jack are the folks, but some doc on a late night talk show I caught said it helped kids mature to call parents by their given names. At 18 months, in a non-crib, and sporting a pull-up full-time, I’m the poster boy for mature, so ‘Elaine’ and ‘Jack’ it is. But I digress.

The folks threw a party last week and it was a real dud. Booze, chit chat and some cheese balls aren’t exactly my idea of a blow-out, but then they’re almost 30, so what can you do. Anyhow, around 8-ish, they crank up the Pooh nightlight (he’s my hero, by the way) and wish me a happy flight to Dreamland on the wings of a beautiful fairy. Yeah. Okay. I just smile and nod. No sense making waves…

They half close the bedroom door so they can hear me if I cry--as if--and go downstairs to their snooze fest. Coats are tossed on Elaine and Jack’s bed from time to time, but other than that, I’m good to go. With Pooh lighting the way, I sat down with my new book. I’m scoping out Little Bo--what a hottie--when I heard footsteps on the stairs. I figured somebody needed to tinkle and the downstairs potty was occupado. I pretended to be out cold, but of course, I peeked. It was Hermione something or other, and that blew my mind. Jack couldn’t stand the sight of her; said she was like something out of a horror flick, but Elaine felt sorry for her, being old and alone and all. I guess that’s how she got the invite. I couldn’t stand her either. She smelled like that vapor rub crap and squeezed my cheeks. Now, a pat on the head here and there, I can live with, but the cheek thing? Come on, people, what am I, a baby?

I figured the old bat would do her #1 and split, but no. She flushed the potty, but didn’t tinkle first. What? She went to the case on the dresser where Elaine kept the good stuff, pulled out a real sparkly bracelet, shoved it in her coat pocket, zipped it up and went back downstairs. I was speechless. The Vick’s Queen is nothing more than a low-down thief. Well, not on my watch. I got up, put the bracelet back, and substituted a surprise. Beautiful fairy? Take me away.

The next morning over breakfast, I got the scoop. Elaine and Jack were having a grand laugh about how when Hermione got home and reached in her pocket, she pulled out a small clown that laughed the most horrific laugh you’ve ever heard when you touched it. Turns out, she’s clown-phobic, dropped it, and tinkled all over her new $75 shoes. Apparently, she wasn’t wearing a proper pull-up. Mature? I don’t think so. She was royally p.o.’d., called Jack and told him that he and Elaine better never talk to her again.

Elaine and Jack both smiled their biggest smiles at me and Elaine squeezed both my cheeks really hard. Any time, guys, any time at all. Now, how’s about ordering that 8 x 10 poster of Little Bo that’s advertised on the back of my cereal box…

Thursday, March 17, 2011


This week’s prompt was a themed word list geared around St. Patrick’s Day. The words were road, beer, luck, coin, pot, gold, rainbow, and snakes. I’m not sure how well my story fits with the St. Patrick’s Day theme, but this is how it wanted me to tell it. Please enjoy.


“Well, Jeremy, I thought you decided not to join me this evening. Neither of us is Irish, yet the possibilities for enjoyment are endless.”

“Kyle, I am sorry to be late. I came by way of the logging road to avoid the traffic and the floats from this afternoon’s parade. You have no idea what I’ve been through for the past few hours. Have I missed much?”

“Only the opening act, my friend. Are you sure you’re up to this? What happened?”

“Let’s sit over there on the grass and I’ll tell you about it. You remember when we last saw each other I told you about my new house by Dove Lake? Everything went smoothly and I was enjoying getting settled in. As I had mentioned, it was a quiet area and the residents kept to themselves, which was exactly the type of place I was hoping to find.

After I moved in, I noticed one of my neighbors watching me. There were times when I looked through my window and I saw him looking right back at me using binoculars. Can you believe it? I strolled over one evening when I saw him in his yard to introduce myself and perhaps lay any suspicions he may have had about me to rest. He was inspecting various areas in his yard with his flashlight. I greeted him and asked if there was a problem I could assist him with. He told me he was looking for snakes. He had seen a show on television about how snakes hide in the grass and how they can overrun a place. He’s an older gentleman and I didn’t want to upset him, so I didn’t mention there were no snakes in the area. I wished him good luck and went about my business.

Another evening he was out with his metal detector searching for a gold coin supposedly lost in the vicinity by some mobster years ago. After he’d learned of it from a documentary he’d seen, he knew he’d be able to find it. Again, I wished him well and continued on. There was always something important he needed to do as a result of information obtained from one of his programs. Perhaps I’m unable to empathize since I’ve never owned one of those television things, but his interest did strike me as a bit obsessive. Anyway, to this evening.

I was leaving to join you for this evening’s entertainment and when I opened my back door, there was my neighbor and he was pointing a pistol at me. He waved it in my face and told me to get back into the house and sit down. He had been carrying some rope as well and after telling me to put my hands behind me, proceeded to tie me to my own kitchen chair. He informed me that he had figured me out and that the time had come for me to confess. He stated the firearm was his World War II pistol and if I failed to cooperate, he wouldn’t hesitate to use it. He seemed so agitated, I decided not to let him know that I could see the gun was missing the trigger. Poor old fellow was just so confused. I asked him what it was that he expected me to confess to.

He told me about a special he had seen yesterday about buried treasure and how to read the clues and see through the disguises of creatures who guard their riches. The rainbow at sunrise in back of my house was the sign he needed and ordered me to perform the transformation and become my true self. I almost laughed, but I maintained my composure so as not to offend. He obviously was having some type of break with reality and I needed to remain calm and try to help him through it. People in town had told me ever since he was forced to retire from his job at the plant, all he did was sit in front of his TV and that became his world. I asked him who or what it was that I was supposed to actually be and he said he knew that I was a leprechaun and told me I’d better tell him where my pot of treasure was hidden or else. That was just too much, Kyle, and I had to end this once and for all.

I reminded him that I stood at 6 feet 5 inches and as far as I knew, leprechauns were considerably smaller. He concurred. I spoke as rationally as I could and spent the next hour or so trying to help him realize that television shows were not representative of life. Poor guy began to cry and apologized. He missed his dead wife and his job and didn’t have anything but his television. I told him it would be alright and he should go home and relax with a beer and a book tonight and tomorrow, I would take him to the Hobby Shack in town to find him some type of activity. He thanked me and untied me and said he’d look forward to it. It was so sad, Kyle, but I think this will help him.”

“Craziest thing I’ve ever heard, Jeremy. I wouldn’t have put up with all that nonsense. I’d have put him down after he spied on me the first time. So, he still has no idea that you’re a vampire?”

“None whatsoever, and I’ve no intention of harming him. I like the subdivision, but I wouldn’t be able to remain for long if I began killing my neighbors. We’ll find him a past-time and he won’t bother me again. Humans love their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and now that the concert is in full swing, let’s do a sweep of the outer portions of the park. There’s bound to be a few stragglers laying under the stars and I’m extremely hungry. Shall we?”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


This picture was a prompt I couldn't resist. It's from Chuck Wendig's site, Terrible Minds, and it's for this week's flash challenge. I came up with a dark little tale entitled No Sale. Please enjoy.


I walked over and put my hand on the kid’s shoulder. Funny how lately they all look like kids. I had to wonder what crossed their minds when they eyed me.

“Mike,” I said quietly so as not to frighten him. He looked like he’d already had enough of a scare to last awhile. “It’s Detective Hoover. This your first jumper? Just take a breath and try to tell me what happened.”

Officer Mike Danfield couldn’t get the image of that woman lying on the pavement out of his head. It wasn’t his first, but no jumper he’d ever seen looked like that when they landed. He stood up, took a deep breath and turned to the detective. This one should have retired long ago, he thought. God, I hope I never look that old.

“When I got here, she was already on the ground. The patrol unit over there--they were the first on the scene. Apparently, one of the hotel’s guests called because of all the racket coming from her room. You see the one at the top left? That was hers. Anyway, they said they heard thumping and screaming and glass breaking, but they had a tough time getting in. The dresser, the desk and two chairs had been shoved up against the door. So they broke it down and went in just as the lady was halfway out the window. They looked around, but there was nobody else there. Why would she do that? Barricade herself in there like that and then jump? Why would she trash the room like that first?

He bent over and began puking again, so I left him alone. He’d be okay. Eventually. Somehow, you got used to all the ugliness. I had. Of course, what does that say about me?

I saw Doc kneeling by the body, and I took a quick peek. If she was jacked up on something, he’d let me know. Kinda hope she was though. Bad way to go. Bad place too. Creepy hotel on the outskirts of town, looking like the set for Night of the Living Dead. But they did do a lot of business and no pros either. Go figure.

The guy who managed also owned the place and I headed his way to get some info. When I walked into his office, he looked like he was primed and ready for a bed in Peter Pan land. He had been crying, and his hair (what little there was of it) was straight up on his head.

“Oh my God,” he sobbed, “another one. I told her no. I told her over and over I couldn’t sell. She wouldn’t listen. She was going to spend the night and talk with me again in the morning. I tried to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen. Now it got her.”

Great. It. I’m due to retire next month, and this mess is supposed to be my last case. I owe Cap big for assigning me to this one.

“I’m lead Detective on this, sir, just please tell me what ‘got’ her? What is ‘it’? She was alone in that room and she jumped. We’re trying to figure out why. Who was she and what was she meeting with you about?”

“Her name was Miss Redding. She was a lawyer and her client wanted to buy my hotel. I’ve wanted to sell ever since I felt its dark presence, but it won’t let me.

First it took my wife. She hated it here and found a buyer. Before the details became clear, she barricaded herself in our room but it hung and killed her.”

Okay. ‘It’ has a dark presence. Our local loony bin needs to take a quick head count.

“How do you know she didn’t hang herself, sir, if she was unhappy here?”

“The rope looped over a high beam, her feet were ten feet off the ground and there was nothing close she could have stood on. I knew.”

Alright. I’ll give him that one.

“Then, my brother came to stay the night. He wanted us to start a business on some island and had a buyer for this place. We found him in his room in the tub with his throat ripped out.”

“Barricaded in?” I knew I’d regret asking.

“Of course. And now this woman. I told it I would stay, but it took her anyway.”

He began to cry again, so I decided to check with Doc about the autopsy. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

* * * * * * * * *

I’m all packed, the car’s gassed up and I’m going on the first real vacation I’ve ever had. Oh yeah. You probably want to know how my last case turned out. It was ruled a suicide and closed. After I left the owner, I gave Doc a call and it seems she was bruised from head to toe, inside and out, and no way the fall did all that to her. What convinced us to close the book on this one though was the other thing Doc found on one of her legs. Or didn’t find, actually. A four inch square block of flesh. Gone. Around the wound? Teeth marks. Yep. You heard me right. Big deep ones.

So I’m going to collect my pension and get as far away from this burg as I can as quickly as I can. By the way, while I’m gone, I’ll be sleeping in my car. Just in case…

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Here are some links to Richard Godwin's spell-binding novel Apostle Rising, which is now available. There's the news release, the chilling trailer, and a link to purchase it.

If you love noir as dark as it can get, some characters that will move you, some characters that will terrify you, and a story that will haunt you long after the book is put down, then Apostle Rising is for you.

NOTE: Please accept my apology for the links not posting properly, and for having to copy and paste them. Technology and I don't always get along.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The topic this time was a really tough one for me. We were supposed to focus on a character's defense mechanism. There are so many different ways, some extreme, in which people put up walls around themselves. I decided to create two characters that seem quite naturally suited to each other, if for no other reason than because of their oddities. But, then, we each do march to a different drummer, right? Please enjoy.


Wilbur Monenofski was worried. His girlfriend was outside the door to his apartment and she was begging him to let her in. He couldn’t believe she was behaving in this manner--she had always seemed quiet and refined. He also couldn’t figure out how she found out where he lived because he certainly hadn’t told her. Mother had always told him never to tell. He even had a post office box so none of his mail would come there. He couldn’t afford to have any letters or packages delivered there since the delivery person might need to come in, and Wilbur could not allow that. Why was this happening? He wished Mother was here right now so she could advise him.

He had been surprised when she asked him to join her for a cocktail after work one evening. He had seen Sylvia Schloopner around the coffee station at the office and knew she worked in the typing pool, but they had never spoken before. He worked in the mailroom at the other end of the building and never had cause to interact with her. On the few occasions that he had seen her getting coffee, he had felt something. He wouldn’t have been able to explain it to anyone else, but it was a kind of fluttering that he felt. He wondered if he was beginning to like her because she might be the one. Mother had told him there wouldn’t be anyone special for him, but he had to wonder. Mother had always been right about everything, but what if that one time she had misread the cards?

She had come to the mailroom and asked if she could speak with him for just one moment. She was carrying that handbag of hers, holding it close in her way, and introduced herself. She was blushing crimson, and Wilbur thought she was the most beautiful person in the whole world. She informed him that she normally did not behave in such a brazen manner and didn’t want him to think she was a person of low morality, but when she first saw him, he seemed like such a nice person and she wondered if he would join her for a cocktail. He told her his name, and said he just knew her to be a person of very strong principles, and he would very much enjoy a cocktail with her after work. That was how it all began.

That first encounter could not have been more pleasant. After punching out, they had walked together to the tavern at the corner where they had a couple of highballs, pretzels and wonderful conversation. The time flew by, and Wilbur walked Sylvia back to her car. He was so touched by her sweet disposition and the adorable way she always clutched that handbag of hers. Sylvia was his first date, so he wasn’t at all familiar with what women did about their purses. He noticed at the tavern that other women had put theirs down on their tables, but not Sylvia. Hers never left her lap. Wilbur knew that was because she was responsible. He wondered if he loved her, but he wasn’t sure how to tell. They shook hands and he waited until she drove off to make sure she was safe, and then he went to his car and drove home. He didn’t have long to wait until midnight, and then he would be safe too. From everything bad. Mother had been right about that.

What had begun as cocktails had blossomed into dinners, plays, and long walks though the park. All their conversations were pleasant and Wilbur couldn’t have been happier until Sylvia brought up the subject of his coming to her apartment for dinner and maybe staying over. She had again blushed crimson, which he found just too precious for words, but he knew that could never happen. He skirted around the issue and the conversation took another direction. Before long, however, it came back around to their spending the night together. She suggested that she cook the meal at his place and they could rent some movies and then could spend the night there. Wilbur sensed a panic attack coming on, and hurriedly told Sylvia he was feeling ill and had to go home. Alone. He practically dragged her back to the car, apologizing all the way, drove to her place, dropped her off at the curb and sped off. He was terrified of what she must think of him, and it broke his heart that she may never again speak to him, but what else could he do? He couldn’t be anywhere but home from midnight to six and if she were home with him during that time, she would never understand what he had to do. How he wished Mother were here. She always knew what to do.

Here it was, two days later, and she was outside his door, pleading with him to let her in. She was saying she didn’t care about anything but him, and to just give her a chance and they could work it out. If there was someone else, just tell her and she would leave. Was it her fault? He knew he no longer had a choice. This poor darling was blaming herself and she was saying she would understand. He knew that wasn’t possible, but at least he could see her one last time before she screamed and ran out, as he knew she would. He removed the chain and opened the door.

When Sylvia entered Wilbur’s apartment, she couldn’t believe her eyes. She had never seen so many different types of string before in her life. There was thick string, thin string, long string, short string, red string, yellow string, all hanging from the ceiling and taped to all the walls, the pieces no more than an inch apart. She looked at Wilbur, who was sweating profusely, and tears were beginning to form in his eyes. He closed the door quietly and reached out to her.

“Sylvia, please let me explain. I know this may seem strange, but Mother told me this was the only way I could keep bad stuff away. That’s why I never could stay the night with you. I sleep under my string comforter from midnight to six every night because that gets rid of the bad thoughts. But now it’s not working. I’m here, but I’m feeling scared that you won’t like me anymore and I won’t ever find out if I love you.”

Wilbur collapsed on the couch and began to cry. Sylvia sat down next to him, put her arm around his shoulders and told him everything was going to work out just fine.

“Wilbur,” she said quietly, “I don’t want you to be confused. You don’t need all this to keep you safe because I‘m going to take care of you. You see, I do love you, and I want us to always be together.”

Wilbur looked into Sylvia’s eyes and knew he had found true love. I’m sorry, Mother, he thought, but you were wrong. There was someone out there for me. Wilbur suddenly questioned the need for the string. He and Sylvia could take it all down together, but he decided to keep just his string comforter. You could never be too careful…

“Wilbur, darling, once all this string is gone, we’ll brighten up the place. It will be wonderful and you’ll never have to be afraid again. Besides, I happen to have in my bag all the protection we will ever need, and that’s why I carry it with me everywhere. Wilbur, I want you to meet Miranda.”

Sylvia proceeded to remove from her bag a doll’s head, about the size of a fist, with short dark hair, black eyes, a small round nose, and no mouth. It wasn’t that her mouth was covered with anything, there had never been a mouth formed on the face at all. Wilbur felt a chill, but had to ask.

“You named it--I mean, her, Miranda? What happened to her mouth?”

Sylvia sat back and smiled. “The name just suits her, don’t you think? I used to work in a doll factory and I found her one day tossed in the trash. Something had gone wrong and her head had slipped through without a mouth so they threw her away. But, I knew she was meant to be mine, so I took her. I moved to a new town, got a new job, met you, and I am happier than I have ever been, and it’s all because of Miranda. Isn’t she wonderful?”

Wilbur wasn’t quite sure what to make of all this, but he figured if Sylvia was willing to sleep under his string comforter, he could learn to wake up to a mouthless doll’s head. Mother had told him love was strange, and he knew for sure she was right about that.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Apostle Rising by Richard Godwin is the story of evil at its most fundamental level--that of mankind.

Someone is getting away with murder and it is Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle’s job to bring the killer to justice. Collect the evidence, follow the clues, snap the cuffs on, and home in time for dinner with the family, right? Oh so wrong. This killer wasn’t playing by TV crime show rules. He wrote his own, and being held accountable for his depravity was not among them. The best laid plans often fail to come to fruition, and this monster crept away into the night. Left in his wake, however, was more than dead bodies. The victim left alive was Frank Castle. He lost his family, his sense of order, the respect of many and the illusion of sanity. Life went on, as did his obsession.

Years later, the nightmare begins again, and the victims are not the only ones being crucified. Frank Castle’s anger and fear are brought to the surface as death once again stalks the streets. Is it the same killer who eluded him years before, come back to satiate desires to torture and murder, as well as to push Frank over that last hurdle into insanity once and for all? Is it all part of his diabolical scenario to force Frank to watch helplessly as his new partner, DI Jackie Stone, falls headlong into the same dark well of despair as the killer nourishes the seeds of the obsession she shares with Frank?

This is not the story of caped crusaders. No laser eyes or spider-like reflexes or instincts present. Frank and Jackie are the human kind of crime fighter. The kind with hopes and needs and flaws just like the rest of us. What sets them apart is their dedication to protect the innocent from the demons that at times walk freely among us who are always thirsting for one more soul. Is this new killer a specter from the past, or is it a deranged copycat paying homage to his psychopathic hero?

Join Frank Castle and Jackie Stone as they try to unravel layer after layer of confusion and chaos in their search for the truth and try to stop a madman’s deadly rampage. And in the end? We can only pray they are the ones left standing.