Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest Write - Bob Clay

The Night of the Dying E

Somewhere off to his left, a dog barked in the distance. A tired bark that echoed down the dark canyon-like city streets, whose deep shadows were only broken by the orange glare of sodium street lights that speared the night. Wet pavements glistened inside these stark sallow spheres of light, but this was one battle the dark of the night was always going to win.

Parker’s listened intently as the distant canine gave up the effort of barking, the sound replaced by the remote clatter of a railway yard, a long way off, down town maybe. He pressed back further into the shadow of the doorway, just the two gleaming points of his eyes visible in the black.

Silence descended, 3 am silence, even a city has a dead zone at this time of the morning. Parker unconsciously slid the fingers of his left hand along the top of the Colt and pushed the slide back slightly so he could feel the round in the chamber, he’d done it a dozen times in the last hour and knew full well it was loaded and ready to fire, but old habits die hard.

He watched the bar across the road, a neon sign in the window spelt out Ned’s Bar in flickering purple light, but the e was dying, and was darker than the other letters. Parker smiled grimly in the dark, a dying e in Ned, now that was irony.

A distant humming grew closer and became a Mercedes taxi pulling into the street, sliding in and out of existence as it cruised slowly past the streetlights. As it grew closer Parker pressed hard into the door well, trying to become as thin as a razor blade. His right arm dropped to his side as he gently slid down the safety catch with his right thumb.

The taxi stopped outside the bar, the engine still running. Two men got out, big featureless men in overcoats, they moved across the pavement and disappeared into Ned’s Bar with the dying e. The taxi pulled away slowly, its back lights leaving glistening red streaks on the wet road. Parker waited until it had turned out of the street and the sound of the engine had faded into the night.

He crossed the street and stood outside the bar, breathing deeply to flood his lungs with oxygen. He slid the .45 into his coat pocket then pushed the door open. Inside was nearly as dark as the street, the gloomy light broken only by the sputtering neon sign with the dying e and a few dull fly specked lights that hung down from the ceiling on old twisted wire pairs.

There were half a dozen or so patrons, sitting silently in booths that lined one side of a thin railway carriage like room, the other side being the bar, running the whole length and disappearing off into the gloom. A row of empty stools stood off the bar like abandoned pawns in a chess game.

Parker waited, one hand on the bar, the other wrapped around the gun in his coat pocket, he hoped this made the message clear to the drinkers. A barman emerged out of the shadows and stared at him with questioning eyes.

“Parker?” he asked and Parker nodded. The barman pointed down the room,

“They’re waiting for you in the end booth.”
Parker moved off feeling the barman’s eyes on his back. The other customers paid him no heed as he moved beneath the tired lights to the bottom of the bar where the two big overcoats sat waiting patiently, their hats on the table.

“Sit,” said one, dark sallow eyes and beard. He shuffled up the seat to let Parker in. “Envelope,” he continued, nodding to his partner. The other man slid a fat brown envelope between the hats toward Parker.

“Let’s not have any melodramatics,” said the beard pointing toward Parker’s right arm buried in his coat pocket. “We’re just here to deliver the envelope. Delivery boys only. Whatever other shit is going down here is not our business.” He smiled yellowing teeth; “We were told to make sure that you looked at the contents, and that’s all. Once we’ve seen that, we’re done.”

Parker nodded. With his left hand he flipped the envelope over and shook it, a fan of dollar bills partially slid out, thousand dollar bills. The beard and his partner stared at it with wide surprised eyes.

“Jesus that’s a lot of money,” said the beard’s partner. “If I’d known I was carrying that I might have kept on going,” he laughed a dark dry laugh.”

“You probably should have,” said Parker, picking up the envelope and tapping it on the table to slide the money back in. He stood up and slid it into his left coat pocket, his right hand sliding out with the big black Colt.

“What the fuck…. ?” said the beard but whatever question was coming was drowned out by the blast of the gun, the bullet going through his left eye and out through the back of his head with a sizable portion of his brain in front of it. His partner merely gaped as Parker but a bullet into his forehead and another into his throat. Both men were dead before they could slump back into their own blood.

Parker swung around, gun held high, but the barman was pressed against the back wall, arms held out straight gripping the bottle filled shelves. As Parker walked up the bar, the other drinkers were bowed down, their ears still ringing from the gunfire. There seemed little doubt that when questioned later, nobody had seen anything. If you were drinking this late, in this part of town, it did not do to see things.

Outside Parker took a deep breath of the cold air and spat the taste of gun smoke onto the sidewalk. He pocketed the gun, his hand remaining on its warm, re-assuring presence in his pocket. The other hand gripped the envelope full of money as he wondered about the mind of the man who had hired him to kill, and then sent the victims to pay their own nemesis. Not a man he wanted to do business with again, but there was no doubting he paid well.

Parker shrugged and moved off into the shadows, behind him the e in Ned’s Bar finally flickered out.

A man of many crafts, but of one craft I'm certain he's excellent at is Writing. His work has been known to make me laugh, and cry. You can see some of his work on 6 Sentences where he does a fairly regular bit of scribbling. Bob Clay (ex seafarer, GCHQ spook, pole climber and window cleaner. Advanced layabout). View more of his work Here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Hunt for the Outcast

The outcast hangs on my wall. It took me years to track it down and find it. All but ready to give up, I enlisted the help of an experienced guide; Addy is what he told me to call him. He spent day after day tracking, while I spent dollar after dollar just making sure he would keep tracking day after day.

Up to my ears in debt and applying for yet another loan was when the phone call came in, “CJ, I’ve found it, I think we’re ready – pack your things and be at Black Bone Lake by tonight. I’ll be there to pick you up.”

A week off of work last minute really pisses the boss off, so my way around that was to deal with it once I returned, I shoved a note into his hand on my way out the door. I couldn’t get out of the parking lot fast enough. Sure enough within five minutes my cell was ringing.

***

I’ve been searching for the outcast since I saw it on a camping trip when I wandered off alone-I was about six. My dog stood between it and me pushing me back towards camp. I became obsessed with finding it again. Each year I desperately searched, and each year I was sorely disappointed. I searched every part of that mountain that I could think of and never saw anything like it. I had sketched it from memory for Addy, and by god, this phone call was just what I have been waiting a lifetime for.

He met me on the dock of Black Bone Lake, a small fishing boat tied to the dock. “Glad to see you made it.”

“I wouldn’t miss this if my life depended on it.”

After riding the ATV for a day and a half, we hiked further into the backwoods than I had ever remembered going. Miles and miles passed under us as he led me deeper into the darkest parts of the woods.

“I have had to leave visual markers for me to find my way back, this place is so uncharted that I haven’t been able to put it on my GPS, in fact something strange happens here and it messes with all my electronics. Kind of like a magnetic zone.” He whispered, indicating that I should do the same, and from here on out it was the utmost importance to talk as little as possible so as not to hinder our search.

It was the fourth day before we got to a wall of lava rock and from here I was told to take as little equipment as possible. That meant food / water in a backpack, and my bow. I followed him as he hopped from rock to rock climbing our way up the wall. Exhausted and knowing that I probably had lost all the tread off of my favorite pair of hunting boots we settled down just before dusk about fifty yards from a large cave opening made entirely of lava rock.

The wait was intense but I knew the money I had spent on Addy was well worth it when I saw the outcast. An immense beast, crossed between what looked like a bull and a man with horns on its head. I pulled back my bow and shot, hitting it in the lungs first then following up with one in the heart.

I felt the ground shake and my vision go blurry as the body of the beast finally released its soul. I clamored over to the beast knowing it was dead. It was like a character out of a story book, I sat there amazed, petting its fur, and examining every part of it.

***

People ask me at parties and events hosted at my home where I found someone who would create a lifelike replica of a creature such as the outcast. They don’t believe me when I tell them that I shot it in the deepest part of the Rockies.

I believe that if the outcast can exist, so can other mythical creatures. Hmmm I wonder if the storyline in InkHeart is true?

It’s something I ask myself every day when I look at the outcast, the Minotaur, hanging on my wall.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Guest Write - Finnegan Flawnt

The Funeral

The funeral party hurried up the hill following the fat priest with designer glasses. The wind was blowing in their faces so that they had to squint. The light had the subtle quality of a foggy argument among friends.

Up on the hill by the grave stood the muse of the dead man they had come to bury. She was visible to everyone, mentioned by nobody. The mourners huddled around her gown shuffling nervously as one does in the presence of an angel. The priest was conscious of his inept performance earlier in the chapel. The muse made him feel queasy. He thought of himself as a servant to the Lord and now the muse’s elongated eye lashes brought unease to his heart, a weak muscle constricted by ritual incantations and praying performances. To the feeble-minded, the muse looked like a lion unitiated untamed ready to devour their souls. To the steadfast, she simply rose from the Earth like a tamarix adorned with only a tuft of hair swaying in the breeze, a figure of no failure to fend off bad spirits.

The untertaker put the urn in the square-shaped hollow in the ground, twitched and hid behind the father. As the angel stepped forward, the cinerary container rose from its early grave and became an onion, an orange, an olive: it opened and grew a single leaf: this was the dead man’s fate dangling by the seraph’s unsullied fingers. Thus spake the Great One:

„I have weighed this man and measured him and looked at his life’s work. He spent years in the shade of his endowments, he accrued accolades for his art and he bore the sign of creation on his high forehead. He was a king in his own realm, which stretched from everwhere to nowhere and was governed by but one principle: beauty.“

Then she lowered the ashen cask and disappeared leaving tranquil thought so that even the cleric dropped his defiant demeanour.

The bereaved shuddered at her might and every one of them thought of their own talent and felt elevated by the eulogy. They began to breathe as if reborn. They became mulberry shoots, every single one of the people who had merely pondered life’s small matters a moment earlier, they turned into apollonian arrows hurling themselves at any one standing in their human way. They had come as a flock and left as a truculent platoon. They had meant to pray and fear and departed with death as their friendly companion on the longest journey made by man and woman. The dead only preceded them by a bit, bite-sized and not too big to chew.

Finnegan Flawnt is a fictitious writer and purveyor of fine podcasts, who lives under Milk Wood with two females and a bad conscience. He is also an editor of the online metafiction journal Metazen. He flaunts it when he's got it here and flashes there.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

GOD's Cruel Joke

The wait was finally over. After five years in a cell of old brick, hard dirt floor, and iron grading, the council had requested her presence to give a final decision of her fate.


Dressed in what was left of her rags and smelling of something dead, she stood alone in the center of the room, cuffed and shackled, two large armed escorts on each side.

“Are you Katherine Eliza Bristol?”

She let out a hacking cough and managed to say, “I am.”

“Are you the same Katherine Eliza Bristol that was found aboard the ship Glacial Death, by Constable Alfred Wolfe?”

“I am.” Her answer was said in a hoarse cackling voice which came from not having to speak or be spoken to for such a long time.

“Then let it be known that on this day, the thirteenth day of September, in this year of 1666, that this woman, Katherine Eliza Bristol has been charged and found guilty by this Council of Parliament. The crimes are as follows: Katherine Eliza Bristol you have been tried and found guilty of piracy as you were found amongst the pirates and thieves removed from the ship called Glacial Death, dressed in rags of a whore; guilty of heresy for speaking against the clergy and denying confession upon removal and placement in the cell; guilty of witchcraft for you attempted escape and being able to swim when it is known that woman know not how to swim unless they are inundated with the spirit of the devil.”

Katherine knew that her outlook didn’t look good. She hung her head knowing what was coming.

“You have been sentenced to death by drowning, which will take place tomorrow afternoon.”

Head held high she walked as straight as she could back to her cell. They had decided her blood should be payment to a God who was in her mind as unloving and unmerciful as they came.

She didn’t eat or sleep that night; she pushed her food bowl back through the slot in the door when they tried to slide it under, and sat looking up through a small window high in her room at the stars.

Katherine recalled the past, of what led her to be on death row. The ship she and her father had been on traveling from Spain to Constantinople where she was to be given to be wed to a man from a wealthy family whom she had never met. It was on the third day that their ship had been overcome by pirates and being the only woman on board forced to stay with them and do their personal bidding. So dressed like a whore that they had made her become she prayed daily for death or to be rescued. Being with pirates and in her need to bathe, she had forced herself to learn how to swim.

She blamed God for his cruel joke of sending a rescue crew to find her. When the clergyman announced that she was a heretic for thanking God in her Spanish tongue claiming that she was praying to the devil, as Katherine was brought to land, she panicked. She broke away from her saviors and ran back into the water swimming for the safety of the boat. That was the moment that the name witch clouded over hers. She had been pulled back inland, placed in chains and thrown into the cell that she had now called home for the last five years and given even less of a life than the one she had been forced to endure for the many months aboard the pirate ship. She had spent her time counting the days by making marks on her walls, singing to herself, dancing in circles, and finally just lying on the floor wishing for death to come.

The site of the sun rising caught Katherine off guard as the light through her window spilled across her face. It was soon after that she was collected by her executioners.

She cursed them all to their faces with burning eyes as they tired her to the chair then secured the weights that would hold her under water until death overcame her. “May you burn in hell for your false accusations and may my blood be upon your hands for my unjustified death when you meet with God.”

Those were her last words as she was pushed over the edge of the doc into the slow moving portion of the river just outside of their small town. Her final thought was, at least the wait is finally over.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Guest Write - Edward Dean

911

Tina was pissed and feeling put upon as she stared at the ‘911’ computer. The Rockland police captain had recently asked her to take over the desk and she accepted begrudgingly. Tina dearly wanted the freedom of a patrol and to ultimately use her degree in Criminology as a detective. She was bored to death with all the little tacky details she was being assigned to. Time and again she tried to use her feminine wiles to get what she wanted but to no avail. Her curvaceous body and stunning blonde hair always got her what she wanted from men but Captain Neely’s stoic nature was non responsive.

Tina toyed with all the silly small town requests that came over the call desk. There were very few that piqued her interest. Domestic violence calls were quite common as were the accident reports. Having been raised in Rockland it tickled her to know who the callers were, though she never let on. To make matters worse, she had been assigned to the afternoon shift.

A lonely Saturday evening call bought her full attention.

“This is 911, what is your emergency?”

A muffled voice announced, “Someone is dead, and I killed her.”

Tina’s mind raced with a sudden shot of adrenaline, as her eyes scanned the computers phone number Identification; it was a local pay phone. Her training immediately kicked in.

“Can you tell me your name and location sir?” She waited anxiously through the long deliberate pause.

The cold calm voice answered. “Don’t be ridiculous. I just wanted to tell you about the death in case it means anything to you.”

Tina’s arm waved frantically for the duty officer as he laughed out loud from his nearby desk. “Come on Tina, what the fuck! Is it the trailer park asshole beating up on one of his latest sleepovers?”

She immediately muted the microphone and frantically screamed. “We got a murder and he’s confessing to it.”

The duty officer Jay, had been trying to get in Tina’s pants from the day she had been assigned but like any good cop, he knew she wasn’t screwing around. He flew out of his chair and flipped on the mike. Tina pushed him aside and spoke. “Sir, if you would give me your location, we can help you and the woman.”

“Don’t ask again bitch. She’s dead as yesterday’s news. I just wanted to let you know.”

Tina heard the responding the click and the line went dead. Her sweat filled face and pounding heart whirled her chair around to face Jay. “Oh my God, oh my God! Do you think this is real? Is he telling the truth?”

“Easy Tina; I got the location from the phone company and I have a car dispatched to the location.”

Her anxious voice screamed back. “They don’t know what the fuck they’re looking for.”

Jay patted her shoulder and answered; “Come on. Settle down. I told them to check out any male in the area; especially the younger ones. There can’t be too many in the area this late. Cool it, so we can back track and get as many details off the recorder as we can.”

Tina’s heart fluttered with relief.

The next evening, when the call came through, Tina instantly recognized the man’s voice.

“Did you find the body yet, because you won’t? You are the epitome of the dumb blonde joke lady.”

Tina’s eyes scanned the caller I.D. and it was a cell phone. Jay dialed up the cell phone company to triangulate the signal. He knew it would take a few minutes.

The quirky angry voice bit hard into her mind. How did he know she was blonde or was he guessing? “If you want to find the body, why don’t you meet me and I’ll show you.”

Tina wanted to accept his challenge but she felt that Captain Neely would never allow it. Her mind raced with the possibilities of a promotion. This was her chance to prove herself.

Her calming sexy voice responded. “Sure, I can meet you in a public place. Just tell me where.”

“I never thought you would have the guts lady but if you want to find the body, meet me at Angelo’s on Main Street, tomorrow night at ten. Is that public enough for you?”

Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Jay shaking his head negatively but Tina defiantly agreed. To make matters worse, Jay informed her that the cell phone the caller used was stolen.

The next morning’s meeting in Captain Neely’s office there was a rush of conversational emotion. The detective sergeant wanted to use Tina as a decoy, as long as she was packing. Captain Neely reluctantly agreed as long as the entire building was staked out. Tina just knew this could be her ticket to the detective squad.

The next evening’s walk to Angelo’s was slow and deliberate as she peered suspiciously into every doorway she passed but the bulge of a 38 caliber in her pocket gave her comfort. She smiled with ease at the dispersed plain clothes officers she recognized.

Her heart beat rapidly as she entered Angelo’s restaurant; her eyes eerily searched the tables. She had no idea who she was looking for, only that he would find her. The voice had asked her to carry a single red rose.

A waiter approached her and sat her at the window table. Tina felt more at ease, assuming the waiter to be a state police plant that was seating her in a very conspicuous spot. The waiter nodded his head to a smallish round man sitting at the counter. He immediately raced to Tina’s table and sheepishly smiled. Tina wasted no time in questioning him but the portly man raised his hand.

“Thank you for meeting me Tina, I’ve been dying to meet you. You are much more beautiful than I was told. Can I buy you a drink? I sure need one, I’m so nervous”

“I’ll just have a Coke if you don’t mind.” With that she signaled the waiter over to take their order. The dark swarthy waiter responded quickly, approaching the table with his tray and napkin draped smartly over his arm; he spoke.

“Hi Tina, it’s been a lotta years since I’ve seen your bitchy face. You haven’t changed much.”

Her questioning eyes flew up into his face as he leaned down toward her.

She stuttered profusely. “Who…who... are you? Do I know you?”

He leaned ever so close to quietly whisper into her ear. Tina’s heart jumped. She recognized the voice as the one on the 911 calls. Her confused eyes flashed to the little portly man sitting across from her.

She asked the waiter, “Who is he?”

The waiter grinned through his deception. “He’s a lame asshole that just wants a date and I fixed him up with you Tina. You remember; in school, just like me. You remember how you treated Rob like a piece of shit because you were too popular and pretty to be seen with the likes of me? You tore me apart when you said you wouldn’t be caught dead with someone like me?”

Tina’s mind raced back to her college years and remembered Rob. She had used him to help her with many of her classes and laughed when he asked her out on dates. Her eyes glanced up in horror at Rob.

“Listen Rob, it was just a silly thing. I thought you would get over it. Did you really kill a woman Rob or is this some kind of practical joke outta your weird mind, because it’s not funny.”

“Oh no Tina, it’s no joke. I never forgot; I never forgave! And to use your words, you could be caught dead with the likes of me. There definitely is a dead body involved Tina and it’s yours!”

Her panic ridden face swung around as she fumbled in her pocket for the .38 snub nose. Rob’s towel draped hand quickly rose to her temple. A silencer muffled the report of his gun as he quickly placed two bullets into her head. The window was painted red with her splattered brain. Tina slumped to the table. Rob simply dropped the gun under the table and casually strode back to the kitchen, where the back door would allow him easy access into the alley.

The café was suddenly filled with six plain clothes officers pinning the poor confused portly man to the floor and screaming for someone to call 911.

*With inspiration and thanks to Rob Crisman’s 6S.


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. You can find more about him and his work HERE.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Watch What You Say

Everyone has those days where you know you woke up one the wrong side of the bed and just wish you could start over, right?

Talking to my good friend Ed, who also happens to be the Dean of the school we both work at, after listening to my day’s worth of problems this morning, he turned to me and said, “Well Nic, sounds like it was a pall-bearer-dropping-the-casket start to the day. Shall we go for drinks after work?”

“I’d enjoy that a lot Ed.” I smiled.

A few hours later he was driving me to an out of the way cantina-type restaurant. We talked about work, about home, then the waiter came with our drink orders. He began apologizing profusely when he roughly sat my drink down, tipping it over and dumping it all over my lap.

Ed looked apologetically at me from his side of the table and began pushing napkins my way.

The waiter tried to help me with my skirt and smacking his hand out of the way I said, “Pall-bearer-dropping-the casket start to the day, huh, Ed?”

The waiter suddenly became stiff. Looking up at him, and as casually as possible, I asked, “Are you okay?”

“Who paid you to come in here?!” He demanded.

Ed and I looked at each other, “What are you talking about?” Ed asked.

“Who paid you?!” He was practically yelling at us now.

“Look, we don’t know what you are talking about, we just came here to get an after work drink. What the hell is your problem!” I was angry from my bad day already and just lit in to the guy.

“Y…y…you mean you weren’t paid by someone to come and give me a hard time?” Confusion lined his face and ours.

“No.” Both Ed and I answered.

“Oh shit!” Seeing us looking at him oddly, he then went into his story. “I had a funeral I had to attend about two weeks ago out of state. I was asked to be one of the pall-bearers and when pulling the casket out of the hearse, I dropped it and the whole casket slid out to the ground. Then to make matters worse, the lid wasn’t shut tightly enough and after bouncing open, the body of my dead grandmother came sliding out. I was horrified.”

Ed and I were stunned. We both picked up our jaws off the floor and he continued, “Every day I’ve had someone different come and harass me about the incident telling me I’ve disturbed the dead.”

“I think it’s time for us to be going.” Ed said as he helped me out of my seat.

“As if I thought the day couldn’t get any worse, now look at me! I’m all wet! What was I thinking?”

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to tell the poor lad that I read his story online yesterday. He must not know that it’s all over the internet.”

“Guess I shouldn’t complain then, I really could have had a Pall-bearer-dropping-the-casket start to the day!” We barely arrived safely back to the school, even with all the laughter that had followed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

FFF #28 The Payment Plan

“The Trouble with me is that I never realize how deep in the shit I am until I’m choking on the stuff.”


“Seriously Frank, they aren’t paying us enough to do this job.” I looked helplessly at my partner.

“He doesn’t care, look at Frank, he doesn’t care if I talk, do you Frank? See, it doesn’t seem to bother him—”

“You were just talking about choking on the shit, right? Well guess what if you don’t shut your god-damn mouth you’re going to be choking on my fist.” My clenched fist was held eye level in the air towards him and I could see the fear in his eyes. “That’s better,” I sighed, “finally some peace and quiet.”

“God, Jack, why are so on edge tonight?” I looked at Frank, anger burning behind my eyes.

“Yeah Jack, why?”

“You shut the Fuck up,” I pointed at our victim tied to his chair, “and hmmm, Frank, I wonder why? Couldn’t have anything to do with this stupid-ass job that the boss gave us, could it?” I continued to ramble on for another minute or so.

“Shut up Jack!” Frank horsely commanded in a whisper. Stooping, he squinted out the window into the dark. “They’re coming, Jack, get ready.”

“Who’s coming?” Our victim looked frightened. “Are they with you?”

“Not with us, but not against us.” Frank turned towards him from the window. “You like to break bad news, Jack, why don’t you tell him.”

“You know I hate this part of the job right Frank?” I looked at him disgusted, my stomach turning in circles – I hated our meetings with them no matter how brief they were. “In order to keep our lives, our families, our homes, our governments, our entire way of life, we have to offer payment.” I was whispering, I knew that the collectors didn’t like loud voices – and I definitely didn’t want to fall victim to one in a rage. I had already seen the kind of damage they could do.

“What do you mean, offer payment, who are they?”

Frank looked at me his disgust prevalent. I knew how much he hated it when I drug the story out instead of just telling them.

“What we do, is work with the third kind—”

“Third kind, you mean, like aliens? What a joke!” His loud laughter ripped through the room.

“Yes aliens you dip shit, and you aren’t gonna think it’s so funny in a minute.” My body was trembling, get a grip on yourself, I kept repeating in my mind.

“Prepare yourselves.” Frank’s voice had turned to a deeply stone hard tone and opened the door a blank look on his face.

I steeled myself for the look at the monstrosities that owned our world.

“AAARRRGGGHHHH!” Our victim screamed, kicked, and fell over in his chair in his struggle to get away.

Another sick night, but at least it was one where I hadn’t fallen victim yet.

I gave them the bird as they entered their strange air craft, and begged myself not to be sick as it hovered higher and higher then took off into the night.

***

“You see Frank—that morning last week, was when I had gotten the phone call from Chief explaining that you were to be the next payment. I was afraid I was going to let you in on it.”

“You’re next Jack, you know that, right?” Frank called out to me as I opened the door to allow Frank to meet his end.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Guest Write - Paul Phillips

A Surprise Gift

She had dreamed.

She had dreamed of love and happiness. She had dreamed of a perfect life; loving husband, beautiful children and a demanding, yet satisfying career.

She had dreamed of him.

They had met through a mutual friend. Conversation was stilted to begin with, revolving around their mutual passions for material things but never going more than skin deep in their discussions. However, the more they talked, the more they got to know each other, and the more they got to sense something bigger than a casual friendship. They had shared their hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, wants and needs. They had shared their fears of the future; either being alone or unsatisfied in a relationship.

She had dreamed of him.

They had spent more and more time together – yet apart, becoming closer than just friends but afraid to reach out for more. They lived on opposite sides of the country. They both had commitments they couldn’t break – at least not immediately. They had both realised that something was building and, try as they might, they couldn’t deny it. Searching each other’s souls, desperate for a connection; finding one without even realising it immediately. It took something momentous for that realisation to dawn upon them both.

She had dreamed of him.

She had shocked even herself when she said she loved him. She was just as shocked when he replied in kind. Her heart never knew such complicated emotions. She knew it was wrong; she was married after all and he was much older than she. She justified it to herself by saying that she always felt more comfortable with older men. Guys her own age when much too immature and only ever thought about one thing – not sex, but themselves. Here was a man who claimed to love her, who wanted only the best for her. He called her a princess and he called her beautiful. He wanted to profess his love for her to the whole world, but knew he couldn’t. She wanted to do the same. She had never been treated this way by her husband. She wondered if this was cheating. She wondered if she cared.

She had dreamed of him.

Some time into their relationship, he had told her he was coming to visit her. She had been scared, excited, frightened and anxious. What would he think of her when they actually met in person? Would he still think of her as a princess? Would he still consider her beautiful? She had her own doubts about him as well – of course she did. Would he be the same man in person as he was from a distance? Would his smile and roguish behaviour still be exciting or would she grow tired of it? Would she find him unattractive? Considering the times he had made appearances in her dreams, she had doubted that last one. More than anything, she hoped that this was the chance she had longed for, that she had dreamed about, even as a child. She hoped...

The night before he arrived, she had dreamed of him.

She had waited anxiously in the airport terminal, fussing with her hair and constantly checking to make sure her make-up wasn’t smeared. She had spent nearly an hour in tears when she learned that his plane was delayed. Then, it was time and she had craned her neck in search of the man who could make all of her dreams come true – or dash them on the rocks of her emotional tides. She could see people milling about the terminal and baggage collection but she couldn’t see him. She thought he may have been delayed at customs. Her heart banged against her chest, and she tried to calm herself. He would walk through that gate any minute now, she had thought to herself. She had been right. He had. And she was stunned by his appearance. She no longer doubted her heart or her head. She no longer had any worries about whether he was going to be the man to lead her out of the darkness and into the light of a world that she had previously thought never existed for her. She had called him her personal saviour and now, she so desperately wanted saving.

And still she dreamed of him.

He had returned home after spending a week with her; time had gone so quickly that when he announced that he should be getting ready to go, it had shocked her. Shocked her to tears. She hadn’t been ready to let him go. She had known that he had to go, she had accepted it from the first day but it hadn’t made it any easier. She had held him, clung to him, and enveloped him. He had kissed her, hugged her, and stroked her hair. She had never met another man like him, and she wondered if she ever would again. Sure, they had made plans to see each other again soon, but they had agreed that distance might prove to be a problem. It wasn’t cheap to fly across the country and she had a career to consider. He had told her she was always welcome to come to his city and spend time with him and had promised that he would make the utmost effort to get back and see her as soon as he could. But still those doubts had lingered.

But yet she had still dreamed of him.

Many months had passed and now it seemed their relationship had cooled. He didn’t appear online to talk much anymore. She told herself that he was busy, that he had many more important things to worry about; it wasn’t like they had promised themselves to each other, although she had hoped that they would. She couldn’t stop thinking about him, especially when she was lying in bed of a night, the darkness closing in around her and she could feel his protective arms around her, his lips on hers, his hands on her. She wanted him to commit to her, even though she couldn’t do that for him. He had promised her the world and now she felt like the only thing he had given her were memories.

Still she dreamed of him.

She dreamed that she could hear his voice, dreamed of him being in her home, playing with her son. She could hear him telling her son stories of his home, stories of make-believe, stories her son lapped up and she smiled at the sound of her son’s laughter. She dreamed she heard her bedroom door open, dreamed she could smell his aftershave, dreamed she could feel his fingers gently touch her face. She rolled over, eyes barely open and thought she could see his face above hers. She shook her head, clearing away the cobwebs of her dreams, and felt his lips on hers again.

“Happy birthday, princess.”

Paul Phillips' work can be found HERE. He has also been published online at MicroHorror, Six Sentences, Powder Flash Burns and BlinkInk. He calls Australia home, but sometimes it won't listen.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Too Good to be True

She had been told that he only had two requirements. The first being that she needed to keep up with the news, that means either watching it every day, or reading it. The second being to put down that damn spoon!


We had met at a local cafe and he reading his paper with a cup of coffee at the table next to mine, and I working on a new story for Thinking-Ten while eating a bowl of soft serve ice cream.

I had noticed him right away sitting at the table next to mine - quite an attractive man! He's most likely married, I told myself and so decided to pay him no mind. When I heard his chair move I didn't look up, but when I heard the chair across from mine move, I did.

Looking me straight in the eye, newspaper in one hand, coffee in the other, and one big goofy grin said, "My name's Laurence, yours?"

Picking my jaw off the ground, I answered with a quick, "Bree."

He laughed a deep throaty laugh then took a sip from his cup.

"So, Bree, do you have any plans for later tonight?" That was what set us off, and every day we met in the same cafe doing the same thing. Most days I was daring and found myself becoming extremely flirtatious - to the point that he told me to "put down that damn spoon!" Followed by, "You don't know what kinds of things that does to me!"

A few weeks after the "spoon" incident, he told me, "if we're gonna make this work, you need to be keeping up on the news. I need to have someone to talk to about worldly events!" Dropping his paper on the table next to me, he left me staring after him nursing a half-eaten bowl of moosetracks at our favorite table.

Needless to say, the news bored me with its repetition, and I couldn't put down the spoon - I love my ice cream too much. Now I just sit here, alone at our favorite table, and stare at him from across the room with his new favorite fling...

Monday, April 5, 2010

FFF #27 - A Bad Day All Around

Through the hanging vines and prickly bushes, Magart, an ugly faced troll – which is saying something because most trolls are very ugly faced – loudly tromped. His eyes continually searched the ground for any sign of the hidden cache. Hungry for something other than almonds, he desperately searched for his favorite – cashews.


In the midst of the cache, a disheartening sight arose, nasty leprechauns were feasting. Full of disguist, Magart eschewed from the terrible sight and headed back home.

Described later as a terrible day altogether is where our story comes to an end. Magart, after returning to his home under the Northern Bridge disappointed, was confronted by three very tricky, wiry and gruff billy goats… I think you know the rest of the story.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Guest Write - Kim Soles

The News

Grey slush, wet crud, city dirt is layered, caked in my low-cut winter boots.

I arrive at the heavy glass door facing MacDougal Street that belongs to the building I reside in. A charming studio apartment, a five floor walkup where I work as a graphic designer, carry out secret fleeting affairs with discontent married men, and cook myself superb meals for less than four dollars a day.

“Hello Ms. Craft,” my magnetic mailman greets me like he often does, with a grin bright as treetop snow. When I see him, I blush, my mind rushing with the fantasy that he stars in; he eagerly approves the invite to my room, I whip him up a delightful lunch and finish it off with me as the dessert.

“Hi there Randolph. My, this weather! You must be sick of it,” my eyes catch the twinkling in his.

“Naw, you know how it is, part of the job. I try not to dwell on it Ms. Craft or I wouldn’t be here.” His hands are shuffling the chain that dangles from his waist with a metal ring of a hundred or more keys that is attached to his belt.

He quickly finds the right key, opens and holds the door for me. He asks me to wait, passing three pieces of mail that I have no interest in. After all, I wasn’t expecting payment for the illustration job I did for the noodle shop that will soon open on Prince Street. I shouldn’t receive that for another month.

“Enjoy the rest of the day Randolph. I hear that sunshine is on its way later in the week.”

He continues opening the black iron, ornate slots, stuffing good news and bad into my neighbor’s boxes. He shoots me one last smile as I open the inside door to the ground floor hallway. I close it and appreciate the tender feeling I get from seeing him.

I climb the heap of steps and distract myself while glancing at the letters, finding one worth opening. The envelope is constructed from fine quality paper. I notice there is not a return address. I get to my door and dispose of my sloppy boots on the mat.

The temperature of the room is opposite to the frigid city air. I peel off my coat and sit down at the only table, letter in hand. I struggle getting the tight fitting card out of the hand addressed envelope that turns out to be a 4x5 color print. I don’t recognize the handwriting, yet I’m familiar with the location in the photograph. How I know the setting baffles me for a few seconds.

A chill abruptly strokes my spine and the pit of my stomach turns sour.

It was this past October. The café table where I sat, perhaps moments earlier, stunned while reading the news of my last lover who was found strangled in his upper west side brownstone. The photo depicts the scene where I read the debilitating article about his shocked wife, the one he promised to leave for me. The newspaper is open, displaying the page that determined my future, his ending and her nightmare.

He was the one. And at thirty three I had finally found the man I could spend the rest of my life with.

I held on to my oak table, the room slightly spinning. Panic and intuition inform me that his wife snapped the shot of the deserted newspaper, the view after I fled. After she examined my face, pale as bread flour, horrified, stricken, lost.

Kim Soles is a designer and photographer. Her designs sell at Anthropologie stores throughout the US and she exhibits her spirit nature photography, offering nature photography classes to children and adults. Kim works part time at an educational nature center, surrounded by a hundred acres of enchanting forest and meadow in the city of Philadelphia. A visual artist for many years, she recently began to use words to tell her stories. Her commitment and love for writing has taken on a content life of its own. She enjoys participating in the 6S Writers Network and spends quality time with writers in a local writing workshop.