Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nightmare in the Dark

Never before had he looked death in the eye. Sure, he had seen people die, but this was different. Terrified, he looked his killer in the eyes, those unnatural eyes.


The creature from the pits of hell stared at his fifth victim, his claw-like fist inside the man's chest holding his still beating heart. With a snarl he ripped it out and stuffed the pulsating mass into his mouth and chewed on it like a dog does a squeak toy. Stuffing both sets of his massive claws back inside the chest cavity he ripped the man apart into two halves throwing them to each side.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Guest Write - Salvatore Buttaci

Someone's After Me

Maybe it was the bills stacked high on the cluttered kitchen table. The unopened ones. Those way past deadlines printed in dark bold print warning legal action if I did not move my check-writing hand and promptly do what was right by corporate credit-card America.

Or maybe some cuckold husband who did the math, put two and two together and got my name in the equation. Who can say for sure. I even suspected it might be one of those undying vendettas from the old country that after centuries finally catches up with a down-road descendant who knows about as much of the original score as my sister’s grandson knew about being potty-trained.

One thing was certain: somebody wanted me dead. And that somebody was leaving enough clues to say, “It don’t matter if they catch me ‘cause you‘re worth it.”

And the clues might just as well have been the huge top line of the eye chart because even without my glasses I read them without faltering: “E” for “Extinction.” Plain as hell. Only I figured it might be courteous of him or her to maybe leave a list of twenty hints I could ponder one by one and be trusted to come up finally with the motive. “I am a blast from your past. Who am I? When we were in high school, you stole my girl. Who am I? We worked together on the Farrington Project, but you took total credit for my findings. Who am I? My son died because you had to drive down a rainy city street, a D.U.I. madman at the wheel. Who am I?”

Somebody was after me. It got so I trusted nobody. Even harmless words out of the mouths of babes and neighbors gave me cause to wonder. Analyze. Dig deep for hidden meanings.

“Honey, who left the garage door open?” I asked Marci one morning over a quick cup of coffee. A car explosion in my head soured the lukewarm Maxwell House.

“Garage door?” she asked. I nodded. Garage door. Sounds like what? I wondered. Not for long. Marci was the best-looking woman I ever shared a life with, but upstairs under that golden hair that hung down to milky-white shoulders was pure emptiness, a brain lonely as hell for brain cells to talk to.

“No idea, J.W. Maybe the wind,” then she laughed. Who knows why. “Yeah, the wind!” she added for her kind of clarification which did nothing for me.

She dropped a burnt slice of rye on a napkin in front of me. A plate would have meant too much effort on her part, something she preferred expending on the turn of her long attractive legs that seemed to climb so magnificently. Marci was high on my charts so I ignored her shortcomings; she ignored mine.

“You still on that somebody’s-trying-to-kill-me kick?”

If she had half a brain, she might have worked at being less insensitive. She made my fears too trivial to cause concern. Oh, somebody’s trying to keep me from my next birthday. How damn inconsiderate! Let’s just put that notion out on the curb like a dog in search of a hydrant. Don’t worry. Be happy.

“Who’d want me dead?”

Marci nearly choked on the dry rye dust like I did moments before. I handed her my half-full glass of o.j. She guzzled it down, meanwhile waved her other dainty hand because she had something to say about that.

“Who doesn’t want you dead?”

“Marci . Come on now. This is serious crap. At least once a day for a month now I am reading the signs every time I turn around. I’m telling you, somebody’s got it in for me and he ain’t gonna rest till I’m at rest…for good!”

But the wife wasn’t listening. With a span of attention two notches above housefly, she was running hot water over cups and saucers, whistling all the while that old famous tune from “A Summer Place” or “Splendor in the Grass” or who the hell knows what.

Without a word I got up from the kitchen table and headed for the closet to grab my jacket and briefcase. My watch said “get moving” so I left the house to the tune of Marci’s whistle, walked into the garage, click-buzzed the car door open, slid in, inserted the key into the ignition, but hesitated to turn the key. Peripherally I saw the whiteness on the floor mat, a tiny envelope like you see invitations come in from relatives you wish would keep those little envelopes to themselves. I picked it up, read the note inside.

“Every dog has its day. Today is yours.”

When I turned my head away from the message I suspected would be the last clue from my killer, I saw a man out there dash into the side door of our blue cape cod. First I thought it might be one of those floaters streaking lately through my eyeballs, but it was shaped too much like a man with bad intentions.

I did a reverse slide out of the Lexus and walked cautiously back towards the house. When I fed my key to the lock, the door sprang open wide and a man with a gun stood beside Marci, her milky-white arm around his waist like the two of them were doing a fashion commercial within the door frame, the morning sunlight brightening their smiles.

“What the hell?”

“You got that right,” said Marci who was becoming more of a stranger as this drama unfolded. “Hell day for you, J.W.”

“The end of the line,” added her new partner with the silver gun.

“Why? What the hell––”

“There’s that hell again,” said my wife who obviously would be my ex-wife, though it was almost crystal-clear I wouldn’t be around to relish that.

So I did what most of us hate doing. Short of dropping to my knees, I begged for my life. I explained how I could just disappear, go to another state, another country, fly to the moon, but please don’t do this. You can’t get away with murder. Who was I kidding. Murderers walked among us, rode the same commuter trains, shook our hands at parties.

“Don’t kill me.”

The two of them laughed so hard the gun bobbed up and down like the beak of a bird. It bobbed so much I took a desperate chance to wrench it from his hand, which I did and now the scene, no longer a TV commercial, was thankfully changed: now the two of them, unattached I might add, were on the other side of the nasty silver gun. And they were not smiling.

“Your turn now to say the magic words: ‘Don’t kill me.’ But first a few nagging questions,” I said with new-found confidence. “Why? Okay, one more time: Why? Or is the answer so obvious only a fool like me would miss it?”

Then Marci started to cry, a ploy that always seemed to do the trick. I’d hand her my white back-pocket handkerchief, wait for her to sniffle away those last tears, and I would apologize profusely, even for crimes uncommitted, just to stop her from crying and breaking my heart. This time she stopped on her own. One final sniffle and then, “You bastard! I want you dead!”

Now I was laughing. “Dead? Neat trick. Try another wish, Marci baby. How about ‘I wish you don’t pull that trigger and make a hole in my head.’ Or how about this one: ‘Could we talk? I’ve never seen this man before. He broke into our home and forced my arm around his slim waist. Told me to smile for the camera.’ Oh, Marci, Marci, Marci.”

Now it was lover boy‘s turn to beg. “She paid me to kill you. I got nothing against you. Honest!”

I pulled the trigger on the last syllable of “honest” because I hated what all this had put me through. The handsome young prince crumpled to the thick green shag and Marci screamed as she dropped down to kiss his open-eyed bloody face.

“He can’t feel that,” I said because even in situations dire as this one a man has to maintain his sense of humor or life around him becomes unbearably oppressive. Then, since the first bullet worked so well, I decided there were probably more in that silver lifesaver, so I emptied two into my unfaithful wife of several years. It was the only way to stop her crying. End this charade.

First I let the gun free-fall to the red-spoiled rug, then from my side jacket pocket I removed my cell phone. No need to tell you word for word what I told the cops. It went something like, “I just killed a prowler with his own gun, but God help me, I killed my wife as well. An accident. A terrible terrible accident.

Now tell me, who deserves an academy award?

Buttaci’s new book Flashing My Shorts can be ordered on Amazon.com or you can view more of his work on his blog, Here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Check Out My Piece @ the NOT

Michael J. Solender has chosen to feature me as a Guest Write today @ the NOT.

This is something a little different than what I usually go for, so take a gander and I hope you enjoy it!

Expect The Unexpected

Nic

Friday, February 19, 2010

Guest Write - Edward Dean

The Fifth Floor

The Sea Towers on Amelia Island was purported to be built on an old Indian relic site that the developer simply chalked up to jealous condo owners across the street because the high towers blocked their view of the ocean. The new high rise commands a beautiful ocean view with access over quaint wooden bridges that protect the dune-like nesting sites of Florida’s fabled sea turtles. Like the sea turtles, the ancient Indian inhabitants buried their ceremonial items.

Unit seventy-eight was the dream condo for Henry and his now deteriorating wife, Arlene, who in recent years was confined to a wheel chair. The many doctors’ opinions were that she could probably walk if she would commit to physical therapy. Henry never pushed her to do it because he suspected that she was using her mild depression and disability to hold on to his loyal attentiveness.

They both had made many friends throughout the complex Lilly and Ted McBride were their constant companions and most evenings you find them enjoying cards on their sunlit high rise verandah. Ted suddenly passed a few years ago and for some reason Arlene took to her wheel chair soon after.

What started out as a simple kind gesture by Henry, of checking on Lilly in her fifth floor condo became a constant routine. Lilly could read the angst and sorrow in Henrys’ eyes when they discussed Arlene’s reluctance to attend the physical therapy classes at the condos pool.

The evening conversations grew longer as their mutual attraction grew stronger. Arlene’s suspicions were mild and she only nodded when Henry announced after dinner that he was going for a walk on the beach or might stop to play a little pool with the guys but his hidden agenda was to stop and see Lilly on the fifth floor.

Since their condo was close to the elevator, Arlene could hear the short hum of the elevators motor, knowing it wasn’t running long enough to get to the ground. She disregarded her suspicion because she was consumed in her own self pity.

When Henry exited the elevator on the fifth floor, he could see the slight welcoming illumination from Lilly’s open door creeping through.

Pleasant smiles greeted each other’s eager faces as they sat down to a well prepared table of soft candles, a deck of cards, and a large bowl of cashews that Henry was addicted to. An easy conversation overcame the ripple of shuffling cards. The bright smiles and laughter twinkled through the flickering candle light as they teased and cajoled each other through every hand played. It was a simple developing pleasure of an honest and open love.

I know your question but every act of love between a man and a woman does not necessarily consummate in sex. Yes, they were both more than capable, but it was an easy expanded love beyond the carnal and of course, guilt maintained their generational sensibilities.

“Goll dang it Lil, you gotta be the luckiest woman alive!” Henry said as she threw down a near perfect hand and called gin.

Her light hearted giggle would always warm Henry’s mind.

“Oh stop Henry, I’m sure you let me win. It’s just the kind of man you are.” She teased.

“Oh no lady, I play for blood. By the way, I never asked but is Lilly your real name or is it Lilith? You know Lilith was one of Adams wives. She was banished from the garden because she always wanted to be on top. Can I assume you have the same problem as your namesake?” He winked devilishly.

Her blushing face rolled with laughter as she reached to slap his hand with an admonishing love. “Yes it is my real name and I do enjoy being on top, and right now I’m on top of this game. If you’d pay more attention to your cards instead of those cashews then maybe you’d get to the top.” She winked.

Lilly wanted this man ever so desperately, but her heart could never betray her old friend. To steal his honest warmth was enough. The never ending Florida sunsets blended into eager trysts that fed their souls.

An early morning phone call disrupted Lilly’s fruitful dream of Henry. Arlene’s panic stricken voice sobbed. “Please get up here Lilly. Henry’s not moving. Please help me! I don’t know what to do.”

Lilly’s mind numbed with pain and her heart fell into an abyss of remembered anguish. Her heart had tread these horrific grounds with Ted.

The ensuing funeral was simple and short. Henry’s wish was to be cremated and his ashes to be washed out to the beloved ocean that he admired. His children, two daughters and a son complied with his request over the objections of their mother.

Arlene always thought she would be the first to go and desperately wanted to hang on to Henry any way she could. Thoughts pulsed through her mind.

“When and where did we let each other go? Was it my obsession with my own weakness? I truly wanted to die and let him live his fantasy. Did I kill him with my needs? I know my evil soul killed his earthly needs. I should have died first. I want to trade places but it’s too late.”

Jarring words of her eldest daughter announced that she was to move back to Indiana to a nearby nursing home that was convenient to her home. Arlene objected vociferously. Somehow she wanted to stay; she needed to stay. The spirit of her fifty year mate would be walking the beach without her. Not that her legs could take her there but a smiling wave from the patio was all she ever needed to bring the sand to her feet. Henry’s smile always plodded through the multitude of tourist seashell collectors as he secretly waved to multiple floors. An unbounded wave was all he needed to pass his smiling love upwards. His heart knew that kindness could easily transcend the elevator.

Moving day came with frustration. The elevators would automatically stop at the fifth floor. It didn’t matter which elevator they used. On the way up to the seventh floor, elevators did not stop. The enigma aggravated her son Dave.

“This is fuckin’ stupid mom. You need to call the repairman stat. This is irritating as hell.”

The maintenance men scratched their collective heads in frustration and proclaimed that they could find nothing wrong with the wiring or electronics. One wag jokingly suggested the old story of the sacred Indian site might be the cause but Arlene harbored her own suspicion.

Arlene blushed to herself. “It’s not important Dave. Forget it. We need to go to the beach before we leave to spread your father’s ashes.

The next morning’s ceremony found Arlene waving from her wheel chair on the little wooden bridge over the dunes as the children lovingly flung the ashes from the carved urn into an unusually calm lapping ocean.

A distant figure trailed the entourage in solemn repose. No one noticed except Arlene. Lilith breathed the wind as if to gain some small ash into her body. It was the quiet sanctity of love she needed to express. Her frail body trailed the funerary knowing that cremation always left many chards of bone intact and that the fragmented bones would wash back to shore. With the eye of a shell collector she tried to spot every fragment as they washed up.

Supple fingers lovingly gathered every fragment her failing sight could find. The container was the silly dark blue glass vessel that they used to put their dollar winnings in from their gin games.

Each chard nestled into the folds of the currency. The wind whispered her thoughts.

“It’s your money Henry, rest easily. I may have to give them back one day if you quit letting me win.”

To this day, the elevator at the Sea Towers stops at the fifth floor. Numerous repairmen have tried to fix it but their consensus opinion was it was far too expensive to correct.

And if you ever visit The Sea Towers the down button will always stop at the fifth floor. Not on the way up mind you but only on the way down!

If by chance you’re there at seven o’clock, get off at the fifth floor , look for a welcoming light through the open door of unit fifty-two and if you walk to the door, you might see a candlelit table set with cashews and playing cards. A voice might permeate over the easy lapping of the waves but listen closely for soft subtle eerie sounds resonating from the blue jar perched on the mantle.

“Goll darn Lilly, you must be the luckiest woman in the world.”

A tender giggling refrain will melt your heart. “Your right Henry; I am the luckiest woman alive!”

Edward Dean's book, The Wine Thief is a fantastic read and can be found on Amazon.com. Ed is also busy working on getting his latest and greatest novel published.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Childhood Game Revisited

There was a knocking at my door this morning, but when I answered no one was there. I left it open and walked back to the kitchen, sat on the bar stool and waited. I opened a water bottle, took a drink, and waited some more. Fifteen minutes passed, twenty, and still no sign of life ventured forth.

I closed the door and stood next to the wall, my hand on the door knob. Hearing a soft cry, I released my hold. The door knob jiggled. I clutched it tightly waiting for the next test. It didn’t come. Nothing ever comes.
The voice I always hear drifted from the corner of my living room, out of the ancient radiator. I took my lighter out of my pocket and tapped it against the rusted metal, clink, clink, clink. Nothing was returned. Just who is this mysterious woman I’ve heard but never met?

I sat on the sofa and drank what was left of my water. I aimed at the trash can positioned perfectly next to my kitchen counter and shot. I’ve been practicing so long I never miss. The bottle stopped mid-air. It was held by some invisible barrier then dropped. I eyed it suspiciously. A loud crinkling noise made me jump. I looked back to the bottle and noticed it being compressed into itself.

The noise stopped. I cautiously picked up the empty bottle. I put it in the trash and turned around to retrieve another. There was a knock on my door again.

I was hallucinating. I know I was.

I called in sick to work, determined to discover who my knock-and-run culprit was. I sat on the sofa again and waited, knowing that it was only a matter of time before I heard something again.

Silence.

Hours and hours of silence.

I walk to the door, prepared to get the mail. I touch the handle.

Knock, knock, knock. Without hesitating I pull the door open. No one--I look down the hall in both directions, and still see no one. I close the door, my hand still holding the knob.

Clink, clink, clink, I hear on the old radiator.

“Who are you?” I ask to no one.

The door knob jiggles in my hand; I quickly pull the door open again. No visitors.

“What do you want?” I whisper out loud.

The answer: a wail from the radiator.

“Do you want me?” I ask, my voice shaking.

Silence.

I turn and walk to the bathroom. Closing the door, I turn on the light and stare at myself in the mirror. I splash water on my face then look at my reflection again. My heart races when I see a woman standing behind me. I turn and look over my shoulder, only the shower curtain. Returning to the mirror, I see a glass blade in her hand and blood covering her from head to toe.

Trembling, I whisper, “Oh, Bloody Mary! Why now?”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Whispered Notes

The feeling of need is overwhelming.

Never before have I felt such remorse nor so alone.

I watch the sun fall below the horizon.

My thoughts whispering I’m sorry.

The moon smiles down on me.

He tells me someone’s coming.

I look at the fading light around me.

The music plays in my mind.

A voice sings in my soul.

My eyes close smothering me in darkness.

Arms gather me close.

We turn around and around in circles.

Love echoes in our ears.

It’s a marvelous night for a moon-dance.

Thanks to Michael J. Solender and The Sphere for providing the flash prompts for the week.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

FFF #21 Damn That Was Stupid

In matters of life and death, one could not forever rely on the judgment of his fellow man- or in my case, woman, which is why I never will again.

It all started when my co-worker talked me into putting in with her for a new reality TV series called Thirteen. It was being broadcast by the CW30. The producers were looking for individuals to participate in a “death match” type show. The final contestant / winner would get a $1Mil prize. The contestants would be put in situations of life or death type decisions and individuals would be killed off as each week passed, for a total of twelve weeks proving one person to the be the winner.

The two of us, Aries, naturally had to put in because we both felt we could be brutal enough and team up against anything the others could throw at us. There were more men than women, and we were out-numbered eight to five.

I watched my surroundings tentatively and was a little concerned when they loaded us into boats and we were taken upstream quite a ways. It was dark and occasionally in the flash of the light we could see heads bobbing up and down on the surface of the water, making it known that we were in an alligator infested area. I’m not a big fan of water, so the thoughts running through my mind were: I really hope I don’t have to take a swim with the crocs.

The driver of the boat cut the engine and we drifted into a much wider murky swamp. The heads and eyes were more prevalent here than they had been in the river. I strained to see anything in the dark night besides where the light was flashing. I felt our boat hit something and the driver pointed the spotlight to our right showing a dock. He quickly tied the boat and helped each of us up and out.

“Welcome to your home for the next twelve weeks.” Rynay and I looked at each other and smiled. Ahead of us was a small cabin covered in mosquito netting. We stood back and allowed the others to pick their bunks. I knew Rynay would prefer to sleep on the floor as she always did when we attended out-of-town trainings for work, and I could sleep just about anywhere as long as I had a pillow and a blanket.

“You’ll find everything you need, and all you need to do is listen for the voice to instruct you further. Each week food will be brought in, otherwise, good luck and stay alive.” We all watched as the driver of the boat untied the rope from the dock and left us staring after him in the dark.

Everyone chatted about what our challenges would be, and what would constitute our dying day. Each day we would hear the voice telling us different things to look for or to do, and when our first challenge day, well night actually, came, we were all a little antsy.

"One person will be sitting out this challenge while the rest of you will be pairing up.” Straws were drawn and a man whose name I didn’t know was chosen to sit out. Instantly Rynay and I were partnered and ready for anything.

“This challenge will put two of you and the person who is sitting out in danger of dying tonight.” We all looked back and forth at each other, and at the guy who had to sit out. “Your challenge tonight is for you to climb into these boats, each boat has a box that is full of snakes. Amongst the snakes is a key. One of you will be handcuffed to your boat. The person not handcuffed will have to reach into the box pulling the snakes out one by one and handing it to the partner handcuffed where they will then put it into another box. Once the first box is empty, then the key can be taken out and used to free your partner. The last couple finished or who opts out will be the two who will be joining the third in the death match.”

Snakes – this is going to be excellent, I thought. Rynay liked snakes and I didn’t have a problem with them either. Handcuffing me to the boat, we then paddled out to the middle of the marsh.

“Okay, open your boxes and begin.” Instantly Rynay and I were moving snakes like they were the rubber ones you get from the store as kids. Our box was almost half empty when the guy announced that we now had to pull the plug out of the bottom of our boat and use the cups provided to scoop out water in order to stay afloat as well as keep fishing out the snakes. I looked at Rynay in panic and she returned the look. Neither of us were fans of water and as she took snake by snake out of the box, I scooped and scooped, only trading off when we had to exchange the snakes. Our boat was almost half full when Rynay exclaimed she had finally reached the key and began unlocking my handcuffs. With one hand I kept scooping water while she worked at the lock. In a matter of seconds we were rowing back to shore and away from the crocs that had their eye on us. Climbing out of the boat we gave each other a high five and smiled. It was a few minutes later when we heard a couple yelling that they wanted to opt out. Their boat was almost completely under water and the crocs were moving in on them.

As the only two to actually finish the challenge we were quite ready to sleep peacefully that night. The three were taken and only later on when two came back, we were told that their challenge included rats and that one person didn’t make it.

Each week our challenges got a little harder and finally it came down to the last week with only Rynay and I as contestants. We had managed to screw every one of the contestants out of the game and not once had either of us had to face the death match. This was the final night.

“I’ll let you win.” Rynay whispered as we traveled to the area of the final stage.

“There’s no way in hell you will, and you know it.” I whispered back. “I know you are just as much if not more of an Aries as I am and we don’t take to losing.” We both grinned at the other.

“I promise, no matter what, I’ll let you win.” She whispered a little more urgently.

We arrived at another dock where we were told that as our final challenge, we would be tied to trees. We would have to untie ourselves then find the chainsaw that was hidden behind one of the trees nearby and cut down our tree, then it was up to us to find anyway to take care of the other in order to secure our place as winner of the million bucks headed our way.

Having spent a lot of time hunting and fishing, as well as teaching girls at girls camp how to tie knots, it was second nature to me to be able to untie them. Almost finished, I jumped when I heard the first howl of a dog in the bushes. Soon both of us were surrounded by slobbering and growling dogs that were snapping at our legs while we continued to furiously untie our knots.

I was the first one finished and having to work with animals, I knew that the dogs were really nothing. I found the chainsaw and cut down my tree. I turned around to find where Rynay was and if she had finally made her way out of her knots. She was gone. Not anywhere near her tree nor anywhere near where the other chainsaw was located. I knew she had lied when she told me she would let me win; now I just had to lie in wait until she made her move. The dogs knowing that neither of us cared about them had left and returned to their handlers.

The night started to grow light with the coming of dawn and still I had not seen any sign of her. I climbed one of the trees and looked around for anything that might tell me where she was. I still found nothing of value. The light began to fade again as the day had passed. I had dozed off and on in the tree and was startled when I woke to the oncoming of night. I climbed out of my tree and started toward the water. I knew if anything we both needed water and I might find her there.

When I got to the shore, I could see the eyes of many crocs floating just above the water. I cleared the top of the water enough to get a handful of water to drink. I hope I don’t get some nasty bug from drinking this crap. I thought, knowing full well that I was more than likely to get the runs from drinking bad water. I waited out the night again and when the sun rose I was surprised to find a welcome sight of the announcer coming up the river in a boat. He tied off the boat and climbed out to greet me.

“Glad to see you’re okay.”

“Glad to finally see someone.” I replied with a smile.

“I’m here to tell you that you’re the winner and to take you back to a warm meal and a shower.”

“How can that be? I never found Rynay to finish her off.”

“She finished herself off.”

“What?!” I exclaimed, there was no way she could have.

“She made her way back to the bog after getting her knots untied and took a poor step, she slipped off the dock. The crocs got her before any of us could get to her to get her out.”

“Well, at least now I know that I don’t have a prison sentence waiting for me when I claim my million.”

A week later when I got to work, I realized how dumb I was for trusting Rynay’s judgment and deciding to do the reality show. I now was left with a co-worker that I hated as well as left to manage an animal shelter alone. Damn that was stupid.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Guest Write - Michael J. Solender

Pine Box

He worked his small patch in the Smokies with his two boys. Together with his wife they led a quiet and unremarkable, rural life. He was a simple man with basic wants and desires. He often told his family that when it was his time, all that he wanted was a plain pine box and to be covered by six feet of the very earth that he worked these many years. They of course accommodated him on that cool October day. The welt smarting on his forehead marked where his oldest son had cold-cocked him, knocking him out, didn't trouble him near as much as the restrictive confines and retreating oxygen of the pine box and the sounds of soil hitting the nailed shut lid.

Michael J. Solender's work can be found in many places across the web, but his home is at the NOT.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The End of the Road

Travis sat on the edge of the dock, feet dangling over the side, he couldn’t remember how many times he had come here, thinking about his life, for this was his sacred spot.

Avoiding what was really on his mind he recalled memories of when he had come to this place in the past: from the day he became man of the house because his father went to prison for a hit-and-run while drinking to bringing the love of his life, Erika, to sit on the edge where he proposed to her- finding out it wasn’t meant to be when she died of a brain aneurism a few weeks later.

His heart reminded him now why he was here. Never married and childless, yet, Travis knew he had lived a good life; he wasn’t sure if the surgery was worth having done or if he was ready to meet his maker. As he caught a glimpse of the sun moving from behind the clouds reflected in the water, Travis made his decision. His last thought was, Just when you think you’ve come to the end of the road, you discover that you can walk on water.

Monday, February 8, 2010

FFF #20 A Story Heard in the Bar

His life would have been a lot simpler if he’d just said no.


“Oh?” You question.

Yes, it would have. It’s simple really. He’d be dead.

“What?” You question again.

Well, all he had to do was tell Mr. Lamb no. Backed against a wall with a gun held to his head he answered yes.

“Answered yes to what?” You ask.

You see, he owed money, and not to just anybody. He owed it to Mr. Lamb’s son.

“What did he need the money for?”

You sure ask a lot of questions. Well he needed the money to buy that big gun from his father that he planned to sell. Shut your mouth; don’t even think about asking another question yet. The request of Mr. Lamb was for him to use that big gun of daddy’s that he had bought with his money and kill Mr. Maxwell, the town mayor. And before you ask, yes, he did it. But that was just the beginning.

“Just the beginning?”

Sure was, you see, Mr. Lamb had other requests. First it was the mayor, then it was one of the Senators, next it was a Supreme Court Judge. Well, he told me, it just kept getting more and more complicated. Last week, he was ‘requested’ to kill the Secretary of State. Yes, the Secretary of State.

“Did he do it?”

Have you heard of a new one in place? Hell no he didn’t, dipshit. He told Mr. Lamb no.

“What does that mean?” You ask.

If you’d just quit asking for about two minutes, I’d be able to tell you. Jesus. Now he’s on the run from Mr. Lamb.

“What does Mr. Lamb look like?”

Well, he never actually saw Mr. Lamb, just talked to him on the phone while being held by Mr. Lamb's goonies. Since you're asking though, he looks like me. You see, I’m his brother. Bang! Bang! Looks like you should have run a little faster.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Guest Write - Richard Godwin

The Unborn

I saw her that day standing in the rain, her drenched hair washed cleaner than the sidewalk.

Straw blonde and delicate as parchment.

She walked over to me and stopped and I almost didn’t dare speak until she turned and asked me whether I was a stranger in that town that dwelt on the edge of nowhere like a lost dream.

‘A stranger how?’, I said, falling into her eyes.

‘These people’, she said, ‘they’re not real. They don’t exist. They are a figment of their own imaginations.’

The reactions I would normally have had were suspended somehow by her beauty and the tone she used, as if she was speaking from far away. Instead I found myself agreeing with her.

‘No, I know what you’re saying.’

‘They are the unborn, let me show you.’

A shopkeeper was outside putting up some sign and I followed her as she walked into the store and stood over by the counter until he came in.

There was a strange pregnancy about her movements, especially when she was about to speak, as if some fecundity had begun to rot inside her.

‘How can I help, ma’am?’, the shopkeeper said.

‘Help me find my baby.’
He looked at her trying to decipher this strange hieroglyph and I watched as she caressed herself standing there in front of him.

‘Is there anything you would like to buy?’

‘I would like to buy time and time’s slow resolution not to kill what is born.’

He looked at me over her shoulder but I was transfixed by her, as her fragile beauty fell like snow in that small shop.

I have tried returning there and have never found it on any map and I have tried finding her because she haunts me, and I will never forget what happened next.

She reached across the counter and caressed his cheek with a hand that was so small and delicate it might have been a child’s.

Then she turned to me and looked straight through me.

She removed her coat, letting it fall to the floor and stood there in a thin patterned dress covered with peonies.

She walked past me and stood at the doorway, as if its threshold might offer some answer.

On her back was a shrunken foetus in a bag, its face turned in some grim fascination at the shopkeeper like a finger wagging at us from the grave.

She walked to the street’s end where she faded like an ink stain on this tarnished world.


Richard Godwin's play 'The Cure-All', a dark satire about a group of confidence tricksters, has been produced on the London stage.


He will published this month in hard copy in an anthology of stories by Little Episodes Publishers, which will be on sale in bookshops and also at Amazon. One of his horror stories is also to be published in an anthology by Lame Goat Press in March of this year. He has just finished writing a crime novel.


You can find his stories at Danse Macabre, Disenthralled, Gloom Cupboard, A Twist Of Noir, South Jersey Underground, Word Catalyst, Full Of Crow and Future Earth.


You can find his work HERE or at Twitter under the username stanzazone, or here http://twitter.com/stanzazone

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Apartment 6C

No one had seen or heard from the renter of apartment 6C and he was now two weeks late on his rent. Using the master key I unlocked the door and was immediately overwhelmed by an awful odor.

“Hello?” My stifled voice called into the living room. There was nothing but silence.

Suddenly a crazed dog lurched towards me and ran out the door.

I stepped over the threshold, my shirt covering my nose and mouth. As I searched room by room I noticed the stench getting worse. The third and final bedroom was the last to check. The door was scratched where the dog had apparently tried to get in.

I opened the door and peeked past. The bloated body of apartment 6C renter was lying on the bed. I tripped over my own feet in my frantic rush to get out of the apartment and into fresh air. Waiting for the police to arrive, I joined the dog in sitting under the tree, and enjoyed the fresh air.