Thursday, February 28, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 9 - Picture Perfect

The prompt this week was words. We were given a list of 16 words, and we were to include 8 of them in our story. I used the site to get my words randomly, and what a list! The 8 words I got were: confess, desk, second, popcorn, ready, noisy, fool, and railway. It was a real challenge to come up with a story that included them all, but it finally came together. I hope you enjoy.

I'm back this morning doing a quick edit - highlighting the 8 words. Forgot to do that the first time through!

Picture Perfect

“Come on in, Sal. I’m almost done with this call. You’ll never believe who I’m…Yes, I can be there at 2. Suite number? Okay. My name is Jimbo. Listen, one of my clients just came into my office, so I need to go, but I’ll be there at 2. Thanks for your time.”

“One of your clients? Since when? As if I would even touch that smut you publish with a stick.”

“You’re a great friend, Sal, always so supportive.”

“Whatever. You ready to eat? They’ve got great burgers at that new place on Filmore. Wait a second. Dare we walk the streets or do we need to have lunch delivered? I heard about what went down with Jo Jo. You owe him more than I make in a year, and he’s got to be out gunning for you.”

“You would think. Well, you’re not going to believe this, but I convinced Jo Jo to give me until Friday noon.”

“Why would he give you extra time? He’s not exactly known for his patience.”

“I guaranteed I would pay him what I borrowed, the obscene interest he always charges, plus a big bonus. It took some convincing, but you know Jo Jo. He loves cold hard cash even more than breaking legs.”

“A bonus? You can’t even afford bus fare. How are you going to come up with that much cash?”

“From a Congressman.”

“Oh. Okay. That makes sense. What is wrong with you? Why would some politician give you a dime?”

“You know I deal in pictures, Sal. I Confess is a mag full of pictures of folks doing the naughty. Well, I’ve got pictures of Congressman Miller doing the super naughty in the projection room with the popcorn girl at Ace’s Cineplex. Check them out. They’re here on my desk.”

“Wow! That’s Congressman Miller, for sure. What is he going to do to her with that… How in the world did you…”

“Long story, not important. Point is, I’ve got them, and as soon as he sees them, he’ll be ready to pay. Let’s go eat. I’m meeting Miller at 2.”


“No, Congressman. I’m not going to wait three weeks until you get back into town. You’re leaving Friday morning, and I will be at the railway station to see you off. I’ll hand you a briefcase with the pictures inside, and you’ll hand me a briefcase full of our agreed upon number of hundred-dollar bills. This is not negotiable. It has to be done this way because the station is crowded and noisy, and nobody will be able to pull any funny business. Are we clear?”

“We are clear, Mr…uh, Jimbo. I take it that the negatives will also be in the briefcase?”

“Maybe. I haven’t decided yet. You never can tell when I might need some quick cash in the future, Congressman. Negatives or no negatives? Let’s just say that when you open the briefcase, you’ll be surprised. See you Friday morning.”


“Thanks for breakfast, Sal. I’ve got to head to the station soon. I can’t wait to get my hands on all that green. Did I tell you I asked for triple what I need? That way, I’ll have plenty left over. I’m thinking of taking a trip with that girl I’ve been doing in the storeroom at Donny’s Market. You know which one, that little blond. You should have seen me with Miller. As soon as he saw the picture, he turned red as a beet. I’ll bet his blood pressure went sky-high. He had the nerve to ask me if the negatives would be included, and I told him I’d think about that. I told him to consider it a surprise that was waiting for him inside the briefcase. Ha!”

“Jimbo, I don’t know about all this. Miller’s no fool. He’s not just going to hand over thousands of dollars to you with no guarantee you won’t come back on him for more. It says in the paper that he’s thinking of running for the Senate. You think he wants some smut peddler like you out there waiting to empty his bank account? Maybe you should rethink this whole affair.”

“Sal, what choice do I have? If I don’t pay off Jo Jo in full by noon today, there will be pieces of me floating in the river by 12:30. I can get by on what I make from my magazine, but that’s small potatoes compared with what I owe him. Okay, so I never should have gone to him in the first place, but the race was a sure-thing. If that horse would have won, I’d be laying on a beach in Rio right now. But the horse collapsed and died halfway around the track, and I can’t find the clown that gave me the tip. Hopefully, pieces of him are floating in the river as we speak. Hey, time for me to go. By the way, Sal, I did put the negatives in. I don’t want Miller coming after me either. I’ll call you when it’s over.”

“Watch yourself, Jimbo. Call me.”


“I’ve got it, Sal. No, I’m back in my office. I’m going to take out my share and put it in my safe, and then head over to Jo Jo’s with his share. I’ve never seen this much money before up close, you know? I’m opening the briefcase now. This is so…what the…”

“What’s wrong, Jimbo?”

“There’s no money in here. There’s just an envelope. I’m opening it. There’s a picture in there of me and the cashier doing the naughty at Donny’s, along with a note. What the…”

“What does the note say?”

“It says Cute girl, Jimbo. Very photogenic. Enjoy the photo. I know her father will enjoy the copy I sent him. She’s his pride and joy. They have different last names because he doesn’t want her associated with his business. I believe you know him by his street name: Jo Jo. Surprise.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 8 - A Knock On The Door

The prompt this week was all about challenging a character, particularly with a blizzard, complete with freezing temperatures and high winds, leading to a whiteout. Life challenges us all, and my character has experienced a great loss, and faces making critical decisions. A massive snowstorm is on its way. Will it help her make the right decision?

A Knock On The Door

Barry will be sorry when they find me. They? Who are ‘they’? Come on, Sheila. There is no ‘they’. Some maintenance guy who checks on the cabins will find me, and think ‘oh damn, there goes my week’. Well, I’m sorry, maintenance guy, but it’s my soon-to-be ex-husband’s fault. Barry and I were married for 11, count ‘em, 11 years, and I find out he’s been fooling around with an 18-year old for months, and now he’s dumping me for her. Months? A fitness trainer at his club, no less. She prances around in a tank top and short shorts and suddenly, she’s the love of his life. I wonder how long she’ll hang around after she finds out that without his little blue pill, he’s only good for 2 or 3 minutes. He’s not loaded either, honey. All his talk about international deals and Deutsche Marks? He sells vacuum cleaners. He graduated from door-to-door to selling over the phone to hotels, but they’re still vacuum cleaners. Buckle up, baby girl. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

I’ll finish my TV dinner, light a fire, and snuggle up under a comforter in this recliner. A few glasses of wine and a bottle of sleeping pills later, I’ll be free. No more pain, no more humiliation, and no more tomorrows. I’ll make sure he suffers plenty though. My note’s going to be a doozy. I need to make sure the door’s locked so it doesn’t blow open. That wind is getting stronger by the minute. I wouldn’t want snow to blow in and get the carpet and furniture all wet. This cabin is Carol and Bob’s pride and joy. If I let their things get ruined, they’d kill me. Kill me. Hah. Good one, Sheila.

What is going on out there? The windows are rattling. I’m going to close the drapes. Oh my God! I can’t see a thing out there but white. Where did this big storm come from? It wasn’t snowing at all when I got here, then there were some light flakes, and now a total whiteout? Great. I’ll be snowed in. I suppose that’s okay. It’s not like I’ll be going anywhere, and nobody will miss me. What the hell was that? I hope a tree didn’t fall on the roof. There it is again. Could that be a knock on the door? I wonder if I can even get it open. What the…

“Please, can I come in? I was out walking in the woods and I got lost.”

Some old lady out for a stroll in a blizzard?

“Of course. Hurry in because the wind’s even stronger. Help me shut this door.”

“Thank you so much, young lady. My cabin is at the bottom of the hill. I was out on the trail that runs through the woods, and the snow started coming down harder. I didn’t think too much of it, but then the wind came up and the sleet started. All at once, I couldn’t see anything. I got so scared, but thank God I found your cabin. I don’t know what I would have done if you weren’t here.”

“You’re up here all by yourself?”

“Yes. You?’

“Yes. I came up here to…I mean, the reason…I’m sorry. I must sound like some crazy person. I assure you, I’m not. It’s just that I recently split with my husband of 11 years, and I came up here to think. This is my friend’s cabin.”

“It really is a small world, dear. Forgive me for intruding on you with my problems, but I’m in the same situation. My husband left me for some young hussy. Thirty years down the drain. I promise you, I’m not crazy either, but I came up here to punish Jerome. The plan was to take my own life. But while I was out walking and thinking, I realized that if I went through with my plan, it wouldn’t be Jerome who suffered. He’d have his child bride to comfort him and he’d simply move on. And me? I’d be the one who lost everything. Know what I mean?”

And how.

“I shouldn’t have bothered you with all this, dearie. I’m really not crazy – just hurt and confused.”

“It’s okay. If you’re crazy, then so am I. I don’t know why I’m comfortable telling you this, but I came up here with the same purpose – to punish Barry by killing myself. But, you’re so right. Barry would move on with his teeny bopper groupie and I’d be the big loser. What do you say we have a glass of wine – sans sleeping pills, and call it a night. Maybe this storm will be over by morning, and I’ll scramble us up some eggs.”

“Sounds great, Sheila. I’ll get the fire started.”

“I’ll get the wine and some cheese and crackers.”

She called me Sheila. How’d she know my name? Huh…


“I never slept that soundly. How about you? Hello?”

The old lady was on the couch, but she’s gone, and the comforter’s back on the bed. How’d she do that without waking me up? Sneaky. Wait. Are my purse and car keys still here? Sure are. Right where I left them. Weird. Wonder what it’s like outside. Whew. Storm’s over and the sun’s out. I wonder if the door will open. Wait a minute. It’s still locked and bolted. What did she do – go out the window? Very weird.

It’s not too bad out here. I can shovel a path to the car. I should start it and let it run awhile. I’ll try to get to the road this afternoon. I hate to step out and ruin this perfectly smooth…it’s smooth. The snow is smooth all over out front. How can that be? Where’s the old lady’s footprints? Who…

You know what? I’m not going to try to figure anything out. Not today, anyway. Maybe tomorrow…

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 7 - Love is Blind

The prompt this week was to write a love story between monsters. It is said that love is blind, and that may not always be a bad thing.

Love is Blind

 “My grandmother says if I marry you, she’ll buy a deck chair and lay out in the sun until she turns to dust.”

“My second cousin asked me if you were a side-show freak with that black veil over your head.”

“My aunt says she can’t stand the thought of you putting your filthy paws on her niece.”

“My sister says you’re nothing but a blood-sucking gold-digger.”

“My brother says you switch at will from being a nice person to a disgusting animal.”

“My grandfather says you’re lying to me about how old you really are.”

“My uncle says he would never feel safe in the same room with you and any of your people.”

“My first cousin says everyone in your whole family is cold as ice.”

“My sister says you’re just a dirty scavenger and only one step above a dog.”

“My grandmother says I shouldn’t marry you because you’re a deadbeat and sleep all day.”

“My father says if he survives to be two million years old, his daughter will never marry a werewolf.”

“My mother says the whole family will turn their backs on me if I marry a vampire.”


“Excuse me, Mr. Amaguk and Ms. Ambrogio. The judge has time for one more couple. Let’s go to his chambers and get you two married.”

“I love you, Pookie.”

“I love you too, Boo.”

“Our eloping was the right thing to do.”

“It sure saved time. When we get home, we can start planning our family vacation.”

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Flash Fiction Friday, Week 6 - Head Start

The prompt this week was to pick a starting line. I picked the very first one. As soon as I read it, the story started forming. I love when that happens. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Head Start

Do you ever think we should just stop doing this?

“Norb, you worry too much. You’ve always been a worrier, even when we were kids. Mom always used to say that her sons were like night and day. Me, I was the go-getter and you were the worry wart. Nothing has gone wrong so far, and nothing will go wrong in the future. I’m always extra careful.”

“But, Connie, you keep wanting more and more money. Don’t we have enough yet to just go off somewhere? I can’t get over this feeling that sometime soon, our luck’s going to run out. If you don’t want to quit, can’t we at least cut back and lie low for awhile? Folks talk, and sooner or later, somebody’s going to talk about what we did and we’re going to walk right into a…”

“Relax, brother. Yeah, people talk. Think about it though, how many players involved in private Poker games want to admit they got scammed by a couple of unknowns like Conrad and Norbert Finkle. But, maybe you’re right. We do have a lot of cash, but if we want to live the good life, we need one more really big score. I’ve got my eye on this game tomorrow night in the warehouse district by the docks where you open with $100. After a few hands, there’s going to be so much cash on the table, there’s no telling where we can end up. We would probably be able to buy our own island. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?”

“Yeah, Connie, a hoot. But, we’ve always worked this with games in small towns. You make an excuse to go to the car to get a head start, then, after a couple of minutes, you beep the horn twice, I grab what’s on the table and make a beeline for the door. We zig and zag through the streets, and before they’ve got their car keys out of their pockets, we’re long gone. Okay, so this has worked every time, but this one is so different. Out by the docks? That whole area is deserted, except for the hoods who stash all their stolen cigarettes, guns, and…”

“I know about all that, Norb, but we’re not getting involved with any stolen property. This is a game that some guys set up, and word on the streets is that there’s big money to be had. We’ll bet whatever the rest do to start, but we’ll fold a few times and let the rest of them drop that cash into the pot. I’ve already scoped the place out. We’ll get there right before it starts, and I’ll leave the car out in front of the building with the keys in it. It’ll be okay because there’s no one around to take it. Everyone will be inside playing.”

“If you say so, Connie, but I still don’t like it much. How’d you get us into this game anyway?”

“You know me, Norb. I can talk my way into Fort Knox.”

“I wish you had, Connie. I’d feel a lot better about walking in there tomorrow night.”

“Stop worrying. I’ve got it all covered. Let’s eat now. Did you get me some chili fries?”


“Good evening, gentlemen. Please make yourselves comfortable.”

The large man in the dark suit who opened the door, pointed to the room on the right. Norbert nudged his brother, and nodded at the gun the man was wearing in a clearly visible shoulder holster. Conrad shrugged his shoulders and pushed Norbert into the room. The other players were already seated around the table. Each had several stacks of $100 bills in front of them. Norbert put the gym bag on the table, and pulled two stacks of $100s out – one for him and one for Conrad – and they sat down.

“Couple hands only, Norb,” Conrad whispered. “It’s all on the table. Just grab it all.”

Norbert swallowed hard, and nodded. He was worried. Really. Worried.

The game began shortly after their arrival, and $100 bills filled the center of the table. Conrad and Norbert folded and let the others continue betting. It impressed Conrad how trusting they all were. No one held their winnings close. All that cash placed loosely all over the table, ripe for the taking. Easy peasy. Time to make his move. The guy in the suit probably wouldn’t let him go outside for smokes, so a trip to the bathroom it would be.

“Down that hallway on the left, sir,” the man in the dark suit said. “Don’t worry about the open window though. Lock’s broken, but no one will brother you.”

You’ve got that right, Conrad thought. I won’t be in there long enough to be bothered.

The window was shoulder height and not too large, but Conrad knew he could get out quickly. He found a crate in the corner to stand on and began climbing through the window. He could feel something catch on his belt, and when he was about halfway though, he could go no further. He tried to back out, but that wasn’t possible either.

I can’t be stuck, he thought. I can’t be…

Voices. Outside the bathroom door. The large man in the dark suit and some other man.

“You’re right on time. Willie will be here any time now with those auto parts.” Dark suit man said. “I told him to park out front.”

“Those crates are heavy, Bruno.”

“Yeah, and Willie’s got a big haul tonight. Two of our players left their car out front with the keys in it, so I moved it around back so Willie could pull right up to the door.”

Oh no.

“I hear Willie’s car now. He’s got to get that heap fixed. Do we need to go out now or is there time for me to take a leak?”

“Go ahead. We’ve got a minute. Willie will beep his horn twice when he pulls up.”

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Dark Retribution: Smitty's Calling Card, Volume One by B.R. Stateham - A Review

How far would you go to protect someone close to you? Would you call on the devil for assistance? When the police are struggling to apprehend a murderer whose signature is reminiscent of London’s Jack the Ripper, one cop does just that. He knows that sometimes, the only way to combat evil is with evil. Enter Smitty: A colder-than-ice assassin, and yet also, the ultimate contradiction. He kills without hesitation or regret, yet does all within his power to protect the innocent and vulnerable.

Prostitutes are being brutally murdered, and their killer leaves no trace and no clues. Smitty is asked to stop this fiend before he kills again. The cop has more of a stake in ending this killing spree than simply doing his job. Sources reveal his sister-in-law may be the killer’s next victim. Smitty works his way through the maze of suspects and potential victims, only to be drawn into a convoluted web of deceit and death. As the body count rises on all sides, no one could have ever imagined where Smitty’s investigation would lead.

In Dark Retribution, B.R. Stateham permits us to shadow the dark and elusive Smitty: Hope to the oppressed and living nightmare to the oppressor. B.R. has created for us a character who is neither superhuman nor supernatural, but who possesses an uncanny ability to sift through miscues and lies, and hone in on his intended target. Dark Retribution is a thriller that will lead you down a twisted and disturbing path, and you will relish every step of the journey.

You can order Dark Retribution here