Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009's Ten Things Lists

As the year comes to a close, I decided to take a look back on things that I had read, watched, listened to etc, and made of list of my ten favourites. By no means are these complete lists but they do encompass what my year has been like.

Ten Books I Read From 2009

The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
Under The Dome – Stephen King
Driven To Distraction – Jeremy Clarkson
True Blue – David Baldacci
Rain Gods – James Lee Burke
Last Chance To See – Mark Carwadine & Stephen Fry
In America – Stephen Fry (Re-Issue)
Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica – Joel McIver
Toy Stories – James May
Drood – Dan Simmons


Ten CD’s That I Bought In 2009

Colour Me Free – Joss Stone
21st Century Breakdown – Green Day
Preliminaires – Iggy Pop
Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot
Battlefield – Jordan Sparks
Breakthrough – Colbie Caillat
Endgame – Megadeth
World Painted Blood – Slayer
The Fall – Norah Jones
Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures


Ten TV Shows I Have Been Collecting on DVD in 2009

House M.D.
Q.I.
American Gothic
Bottom
30 Rock
King Of Queens
That 70’s Show
Frasier
Complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Dharma & Greg


Ten Songs I Am Learning On The Piano in 2009

Right To Be Wrong – Joss Stone
Humble Me – Norah Jones
Van Nuys – Sixx A.M.
My Immortal – Evanescence
In The End – Linkin Park
Unforgiven III – Metallica
I Wish It Would Rain – Phil Collins
Bed Of Roses – Bon Jovi
Overcome – Live
Uninvited – Alanis Morrisette

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bully and Victim

The hiccups had started when the verbal abuse did.

“Gaylord.”

“Queer.”

I had been used to these taunts all through my childhood. The other kids just didn’t understand me. They didn’t realise what these verbal barbs did to a young man’s confidence and self-esteem.

“Hey, poof, want another pillow to bite?”

As if my future wasn’t bleak enough, growing up in a foster home, this constant abuse had almost sent me over the edge. I had stolen the pistol my foster father kept in the bottom drawer of his bedside table – he won’t notice until it is too late.

“Hey, queer, we’re talking to you.”

The first punch landed on the side of my head, knocking me off balance; the second one hit me in the kidneys which made me groan in pain. I felt the nausea rise, along with the years of anger and humiliation.

The first shot, much to my surprise, hit the bully between the eyes. Shock formed on his face, gradually melting away as his life did the same.

I will never be the victim again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Money (In God We Trust)


...and we shall see how godless a nation we have become...

Whirlwinds dance upon the empty streets. The cracked and faded sign that once proudly proclaimed "You are Now Entering The City of Joy" leans against a rotten tree stump, awaiting another resurrection in a long line of resurrections. Another coat of paint - applied by another newcomer - in the hope of lifting the spirits of a town long-since forgotten.

Brian lazily eyed the lone crow, flying low across the now-barren crops in search of nourishment. Taking in what was left of this community, he smiled to himself in the knowledge that this had been a thriving economic town before he and his entourage of purse-emptiers had arrived. He remembered the singing, the dancing, and the praising of his Lord’s name. He also remembered the pressing of the flesh and the swelling of the bank balance.

Now, just a few short months later, it was bankrupt. It was just a desolate outpost on the road to redemption - a shadow of its former self. First, it had been the small businesses that went under, unable to sustain the rent and utilities payments after giving more than half of their profits in the name of God, followed by the bigger chain stores relocating as they realised that the money was slowly dwindling in town. The younger generations were moving away in search of other opportunities.

Pastor Brian Jackson removed his dog-collar, undid the top button of his freshly starch ironed shirt. He had been the only one to profit from the venture. As it was meant to be - at least, that was how he saw it. Brian bent down, picked up his suitcases and loaded them into the trunk of his very new car. All part and parcel of the benefits of bringing the Word of God to His people. However, all good things must come to an end. With one final look around the near-abandoned Main Street, Brian got into the driver’s seat and closed the door behind him.

"City of Joy?” He thought to himself. “Not anymore.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brave Days Indeed.




Bravery and courage are words I hear on the news, usually in reference to some sport star that played with an injury. That is cool, but neither brave nor courageous.

I have always thought that these traits were more appropriate for people who go above and beyond what is expected of them, usually selflessly.

I am hoping that people will refer to me as brave and courageous after successfully pulling off this stunt.

If I don't succeed, I don't really mind - chicks dig scars!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Story Virus v.5

Right, then. Tagged in a project with some pretty amazing writers. Let's hope I don't let the team down.

Here's the lowdown: This is basically a series of flash stories. I was tagged by the wonderful Michael Solender, and given the list of previous posts so I could continue this on. I will add to the story, then tag more people for them to keep it moving. It is a wonderful concept and a lot of fun.

Start here:
I, Splotchy

Then here:
Cormac Writes

And then here:
Lost In The BoZone

Then here:
David Barber's Fiction World

And then:
Writing The Hard Way

Next:
Not From Here, Are You?


And here is my addition to this story:

Detective Gary Houston was dining with his mother at Erica's immediately across the road from the Poof Palace Spa and Beautification centre. He had been listening to her drone on and on for the last forty-five minutes, occassionally focusing on her words, but generally ignoring her whilst picking at his lunch.

His mother's voice penetrated his thoughts.

"Are we expecting a storm today, Gary?"

"Not of the wet variety, Mother, but I feel a shitstorm coming."

His mother looked at him disapprovingly. "You know I don't like it when you use that language." She glanced out the window, at the rain-laden clouds. "I think it will rain, dear."

"Not until Christmas Eve, Mother." Gary sighed, knowing that the joke would be wasted on her. He stood, needing to use the rest rooms when he caught sight of Blanco exiting the building across the road. He stood motionless, stunned by the hue of the man's skin. He quickly excused himself from the table and made his way outside.

"Blanco, over here. What in the fuc..."

"No time for that now. Houston, we have a problem. Big Bopper is on the loose again. Damn I hate Christmas."

A stern look came over Gary's face. "You know what we have to do, right?"

"I will ring him now, Houston. If this fails, we are in deep shit."

**********


Ok, now I will tag the following people:

Daniel Stine
Erin Cole
Mike Whitney
Word Vamp
Harry Sanderford

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dressed To Impress on BlinkInk

My very short story "Dressed To Impress" is now up on BlinkInk. A big thanks to Lynn Alexander for accepting it and putting it in such a highly impressive publication.

Click here to read.

Losing Weight is Quite An Affair - 3WW Post

Hello, my name is Andy, and I am an asshole. It must be true; everyone says so. My family tells me all the time; Rebecca’s family does the same. Even my secretary thinks I am an asshole. While there may be some truth to it, you need to know the whole story, from the beginning...

Rebecca had always wanted to be slim; she had pored over the fashion magazines, pointing out to me the women who had the best figures – the women she wanted to be like. We had only been together for a few weeks and I thought she was beautiful and curvy. A great catch for a private dick with a few extra pounds of my own.

As the months passed, Rebecca became obsessed; walks in the morning, gym at night. Things came to a head one day, however, when I suggested that she should just forget about it. After a few choice words about the size of my ass (I was quite offended), she came at me, waving her arms and screaming at me about not being sensitive to her needs, not caring for our relationship. I grabbed her by her slender, lithe wrists and told her that if this madness didn’t stop, that our relationship would be over.

Two weeks later, I started to notice a definite change in her attitude to me and began to wonder if she may have been having an affair. One morning, I decided that I had to put my mind at rest and decided to follow her. After weaving through the morning traffic snarls and avoiding detection, I saw her pull into a side street and park her car. I drove around the block, parked and got out of the car to observe.

A young man came out of a nearby house, waved in her direction and made a beeline towards her. He leaned in through the driver’s window and gave her a kiss. Went around to the other side of the car and got into the passenger seat. Rebecca did a u-turn in the middle of the street and headed back the way she came. I raced back to my car and jumped in; making sure my Smith & Wesson semi-auto was in the glove-box and followed from a discreet distance.

I followed them to Mac’s, where they had lunch. Afterwards, they drove across town to the cemetery. I had no idea what they were doing here; Rebecca had been known to have a few, shall we say, eccentricities when it came to sex, but we had never done anything this morbid or bizarre. Sure, I was jumping to conclusions but, in my line of work, that can usually save your ass from trouble.

Once again, I parked the car down the road from where Rebecca and her beau had stopped. Cautiously following on foot, pistol secure in my belt, I watched as they walked, arm in arm, down the leafy path until they arrived at a huge mausoleum. Rebecca made a quick, cursory glance around. When she appeared to be satisfied that all was well, she hugged the young man tightly. Gun in hand, I broke through the bushes from behind the mausoleum.

“What in the fuck is going on here?” I screamed at Rebecca, scaring them both.
I saw shock and fear in Rebecca’s eyes, obviously distressed at being caught in the middle of her afternoon tryst.

“Andy? What are you doing here?” It took her a few minutes to process the picture she saw before her. “Have you been following us? What is going on?”

I turned from her without responding and stared at the young man next to her. A puddle had formed at his feet and it sure as hell wasn’t rain. I didn’t feel any sympathy for him – he was doing my girl.

“You, shit-for-brains, who in the fuck do you think you are?” When he tried to respond, I pointed the gun at his head and flicked off the safety. He shut his mouth soon enough. “I have one question for you. Nod your head for yes, shake your head for no. Got it?”

He nodded vigourously.

“One nod, asshole, or I swear to God, you and a bullet are gonna be real close friends. Okay, here’s what I want to know. Do you love Rebecca? I don’t give a fuck if this is a casual screw or a full-blown relationship. I don’t care. Just answer the question. Do you love her?”

Silence hung over the small clearing. I could see the kid weighing up his answer; I think he knew there was no right answer, yet he nodded his head slowly. Once.

“That’s all I needed to know. Thank you.” I gently squeezed the trigger, the echo of the shot reverberating around the cemetery grounds, as the young man collapsed onto the ground, a significant part of his head missing; most of it painted in giant splashes on the grave markers behind him.

“So, that puts a bit of a dampener on your sex life, doesn’t it? The question is - what do I do with you?” I said, swinging around to face her. I could see her eyes flitting about, hoping to catch sight of someone – anyone – to come to her aid and rescue. That wasn’t likely to happen.

“But, Andy, you don’t understand,” Rebecca pleaded between sobs, “He was my...”

One bullet. That’s all it ever takes.

So, what do you think? Killing people for having an affair is harsh, that’s true, but that is just the kind of guy I am. Had I waited a few more seconds and found out that the young guy was Rebecca’s brother and that they were visiting their grandparent’s grave, things may have turned out differently – also true. But, there is one positive to come from this: after ten months buried in a shallow grave, Rebecca’s wish of losing weight has come true.

I really am an asshole.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making Their Day up at the NOT

Michael Solender has been running a wonderful series of writes revolving around a Thanksgiving theme. There are wonderful stories from some of my favourite writers. Today, mine has been included in his Feast of Flash. It is entitled "Making Their Day" and can be found here.


Michael's blog, not from here, are you can be found by clicking on the title.

Friday, November 20, 2009

MIKE WHITNEY (A John Wiswell Get Well Soon Message)

John,

Stay strong, you've got some very good friends indeed rooting for you and sending good thoughts, prayers and money.

I can only imagine the pain, my dad had kidney stones and they would drop him to the floor.
Best to you, really, man!

mike whitney

Mike's blog can be found here.

To contribute to the John Wiswell Surgery Donation Drive, follow the link below...
Click here to lend your support to: John Wiswell Surgery Donation Drive and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Thursday, November 19, 2009

JODI MacARTHUR - Skittles (A John Wiswell Get Well Soon Message)

Skittles
by Jodi MacArthur

Rainbow colored candies drop from the sky. I watch in amazement and try to catch them with my tongue, but instead they bounce off my teeth. I smile anyway and hold out my arms and hope they don't bruise me as they hit with the force of a bug bouncing off a windshield. One finally lands in my hand, a bright wagon red, and I put it in my mouth and chew. Strawberry flavor bursts upon my taste buds, the freshest, purest strawberry you could ever taste. This is the best day of my life.


Hey John,
I realize this is rather silly, but if it makes you smile I’ve done my job.
Feel better soon.

Jodi


Jodi's blog can be found here.

To contribute to the John Wiswell Surgery Donation Drive, click this link.
Click here to lend your support to: John Wiswell Surgery Donation Drive and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

John Wiswell Surgery Donation Drive

by John Wiswell

This campaign is to raise funds for the gallbladder surgery of John Wiswell. The combined bills could run over $10,000 (more on that below). That figure is outside his means to pay.

John has severe gallstones. The attacks began in November of 2008. The attacks became much more frequent in September of 2009, coming as frequently as once every two days, and lasting for up to twelve hours or until he passed out. These attacks included powerful vomiting, inflammation in the spine and shooting pains through the back and abdomen. John also suffers from a neuromuscular syndrome that exacerbated every attack, leaving him bedridden for as long as a week following any episode. This became even more agonizing once the attacks began occurring more frequently than he was recovering from them. Doctors found several gallstones in his gallbladder and diagnosed that removal of the organ was necessary to stop the attacks. Surgery is scheduled for November 20th, a week before the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving.

John is uninsured. Since 1993 he has suffered from a neuromuscular syndrome and related health issues that prevented him from being able to work. These same conditions made almost all health insurance companies decline him, charge far outside his means, or by their terms of “pre-existing conditions,” useless in getting coverage for nearly anything. With government programs failing to assist, he pays for all treatment out of savings.

Office visits, medicine, radiology and ultrasounds have already run over $1,000, but the surgery will be far more expensive. Due to billing being separated between multiple departments, the hospital has not given him a proper estimate, but complete with a necessary hospital stay, the total cost could exceed $10,000. Raising funds sooner is pressing as the hospital offers discounts for prompt payment (potentially 25% of the total).

Through his life savings, John has a few thousand dollars set aside to pay what of the procedures he can. The Pledgie Donation Drive will be set for $5,000. Any donation will help.

Though his other health issues will slow the healing, he is expected to make a full recovery from the gallbladder-related issues after the surgery.

Thank you for your time and generosity.

More info can be found here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stephen Fry Is A Twitter God.

To me, Stephen Fry is one of the most intellectual, incredibly funny guys to have ever graced this earth. In celebration of the one millionth follower on Twitter, Stephen Fry sends us a message from the future.

Please enjoy this video blog of Stephen's, entitled "Twillionth".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nothing Else Matters - by my son, Jesse.

video

My son playing Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" at his end of year music school concert, on the 16-11-09.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let The Feathers Fly (A Thanksgiving Tale)

“...and it has been announced that the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation will take place at Flying Pan Park, where the President will be presented with this year’s turkey, only this year, he plans on eating it. In other news...”

Monte’s head shot up at the announcement. Our farm, he thought, that can’t be right. Monte could see the farm owner and his wife sitting on the veranda of their farmhouse, listening to the radio transmission also.
“Did ya hear that, Mary? The President is gonna come here and pick himself a turkey for Thanksgiving.”
“Yeah, I heard. I guess we better spruce the joint up a bit.” Mary replied.
“It’s a fine day for us, a fine day indeed!”
Upon hearing this, Monte raced across the farmyard to inform the turkeys of the impending doom of one of their own.

“Are you absolutely certain that’s what was said?”
Monte had called the turkeys together to inform them of the news. Mr. C, the patriarch figure of the gang that had been locked in this enclosure for the past few years, had called for a meeting of the senior birds, to try and hatch a plan.
“Okay, here’s the deal. We have given in to the humans for too long now – the time for revenge is upon us. We must band together and prevent this injustice.” Turning his attention to Monte, he continued, “Monte, I want you to go out into the paddocks and relate this news to as many animals out there and see if we can’t rustle up some support. Let’s do this!”

Monte was pleased with himself. He knew that calling in on Chuck the Woodpecker first was a great idea. Chuck was more than happy to assist. Monte watched in amazement as six midnight-black ravens rose from the treetops, answering Chuck’s coded call-to-arms. He had also received partisan support from Slithers, the rattlesnake, and his rhumba. Also, he had the word from a bale of box turtles from Florida. What would have been a nightmare getting the turtles from Florida had been made easier by an agreement between the turtles and one of their natural predators, a brood of Harpy Eagles.
All of these creatures would come under the command of General Sam, an ageing, but highly respected, Bald Eagle. He would oversee the whole defence plan and make sure that everyone involved would know their role and perform to the best of their abilities.

“General Sam, Sir, Airborne One reporting in as requested. We have locked sights on the oncoming fleet of vehicles. ETA is fifteen minutes and counting.”
“Thank you Airborne One. Keep us informed of their progress.” General Sam glanced around at the cowering group of turkeys, each one determined but scared.
“Okay, gang, they are almost here. Mr. C, can you and Marion be sure to bring up the rear of the escape group. We will need your size and experience in case those bastards try something sneaky.”
General Sam flew to the top of the enclosure and spread his wings, garnering silence from the rest of the group.
“May Jupiter go with you all.”

Chaos erupted immediately upon the arrival of the Presidential cavalcade. Several of the president’s Secret Service men were seriously injured by Slithers and the other rattlesnakes, who had hidden in the long grass, awaiting their chance to strike. Added to this, the ravens and the eagles had begun dropping large stones and tree limbs onto the entourage, forcing them back towards their vehicles. The farmer was absolutely livid with proceedings and raced into the shed nearby, bringing out shovels, axes and other items which may be used to fend off this massive assault. Secret Service agents revealed their handguns and fired a few warning shots in the air. This seemed to startle the defenders somewhat, and the humans used this chance to make their way toward the gate of the pen, swinging wildly at anything that appeared to get in their way. Several turkeys were lost in this melee, including some of the younger poult who were eager but desperately outmuscled.
But what the humans had not counted on were the box turtles. They were lined immediately in front of the gates. On the command of General Sam, their heads and necks were replaced with cannons - which had been affixed earlier in the day – and began firing off explosive rounds at the encroaching forces. Although the explosions weren’t large enough to do any major damage, the shock and awe was enough to drive the humans back again.

With the humans receding to a safe distance, one lone turtle made his way to the other side of the enclosure. He had been assigned the job of firing into the fences, to make a hole large enough for the turkeys to make a break for freedom. The eagles and ravens had resumed their aerial attack, keeping the men locked down around their vehicles. The turtle was young and idealistic, his head full of bravery and his heart full of passion. He knew that one or two shots weren’t going to open up the gap enough for the turkeys to make their break for freedom, so he took it upon himself to take one for the team. Closing his eyes, he voluntarily created a backfire, sacrificing himself for the good of the many, blowing a hole so large that even the turkeys were amazed, but saddened, by this sudden turn of events.
“Go, go, go, go,” screamed General Sam, urging the turkeys to flee. “Now is your chance. Viva La Resistance!!”

Monte and Slithers had observed all this from a safe distance. Slithers’ family had done their job, preventing the first wave of invaders from entering the turkey compound. As the lone turtle made his brave sacrifice, Monte and Slithers both hung their heads and gave thanks for his gallantry and courage. It wasn’t long until Monte realised the implications of this and said softly, “Excellent!”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dracula: The Undead - New Novel


112 years is a long time between sequels, but direct descendent of Bram Stoker, Dacre Stoker has joined forces with Dracula historian Ian Holt, to create the long-awaited sequel to the original horror story.

Using Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes, these two have cobbled together a story which has been both applauded and criticised all around the globe. For me, I don't know if I will venture down that path. To me, is seems like these authors are trying to ride on the popularity of 'Twilight' and associated stories that are popular at the moment.

However, if you want to know more, here is a link to the book's website, 'Dracula: The Unborn' and also a link to the Amazon listing for it. Make up your own mind.

November Down Under

November: where have the disheartening drizzle and the blasting Siberian chill gone?

November: the year feels reborn, flowers blossoming, laying the foundations for a glorious summer; the birth of a new generation of kingdom Animalia, eager to frolic in the wilds with abandon.

November: the sun belts down from the heavens, brightening our earth, ridding the land of the bleak and characterless winter, lifting our spirits, gladdening our hearts.

November: the Pacific shimmers gracefully with sunlight, dappling across its majestic waves, stretching from the graceful horizon to the resplendent sand-lined shores, where we now frolic and play.

November: the trees are filled with virginal leaves, fresh and green, obscuring their formerly stark frameworks, adding colour to what was once a dull and lifeless landscape, invigorating our senses.

November: warm country breezes, birdsong and blinding sunshine...Christmas must surely be on its way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Why I Write Contest" at Editor Unleashed

The topic that every writer takes on at some point is: “Why I Write.” In fact, reflecting on what compels a writer could be a genre in itself. You might say it’s the literary equivalent of an artist’s self-portrait.

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that Editor Unleashed is once again teaming up with Smashwords to present a writing contest with a theme:

Why I Write…

More info here.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

13 Days of Horror: Day 13

The final day of Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror brings us the extremely talented Jodi MacArthur and her story "Lovely Creature".

Friday, October 30, 2009

13 Days of Horror: Day 12

Today, the penultimate day of Erin Cole's brilliant 13 Days of Horror is a genuinely disturbing story from John Wiswell, entitled "Familiarity Does".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

13 Days Of Horror: Day 11

Michael Solender returns today with his moonscape prose poem entitled "Hunter Moon". Has to be seen to be believed.

"Dressed To Impress" Now Showing at Six Sentences

Hey folks, I have a new story published on Six Sentences, one of my favourite sites for writers. This piece is entitled "Dressed To Impress" and you can find it here.

13 Days Of Horror: Day 10

The amazing Angel Zapata is the guest writer today at Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror, with his magnificent tale entitled "Styx And Stones". Halloween wouldn't be complete without a tale from this gifted man.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

13 Days Of Horror: Day 9

Today's story at Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror is Paul D. Brazill's brilliant tale entitled "The Friend Catcher". A marvellous read which should be read in a brightly lit room!!!

13 Days Of Horror: Day 8

Today's guest writer at Erin Cole's 13 Days of Halloween is Kate Pilarcik. A writer with an immense talent for language, she creates a dizzying tale called "Apparition"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

13 Days of Horror: Day 7

Day 7 of Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror brings a fantastic author of many styles and skills. His name is Barry Northern, and his story is entitled "A Trick Of The Night" A fantastic read and well worth a look.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

13 Days Of Horror: Day 6

Today, at the 13 Days of Horror, is one of my favourite writers, Laurita Miller, and her masterful tale "Monsters". And, as Erin states in her introduction, "Nothing goes better with Halloween than Monsters."

Friday, October 23, 2009

13 Days Of Horror - Day 5

Today at the 13 Days of Horror is the short and sharp piece by Jeffrey S. Callico. His story is entitled "Throat" and for some obvious reasons. An absolute belter of a story.

"House Of Horrors" up NOW at MicroHorror

I am pleased to announce a second piece of mine has been accepted at MicroHorror, a marvellous site that I highly recommend for those who like a bit of Horror in their day. Story can be found here.

"Errors of a Generaton" up NOW at MicroHorror

My short story "Errors Of A Generation" is up now on one of my favourite sites, MicroHorror. The link to the story can be found here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

A famous football coach had prepared his team for the final game of the season and, understandably, the tensions were high and the dressing room was filled with irritable and nervous players, all except for one man – he was sitting quietly in the corner, tapping his foot to a tune in his head, seemingly quite content. The coach approached him and asked how he could be so calm when everyone else around him was feeling the pressure of expectation and the fear of failure. He responded by telling the coach that every night after training, he would jump into his Mustang and take a short drive around the mountains – it helped relax him and make him think about perspective and priorities.
Many years later, after retiring, the coach was strolling along the footpath in a busy city when he came across his former player, disheveled, dirty and despondent – the coach asked him what had happened for him to be in such a terrible state. The player looked at him wearily, as if he had explained it many times...he had just been through a very rough divorce. The coach patted him on the shoulder and said he felt sorry for him for losing his wife...
"It’s not the wife that is the problem….she got the Mustang in the settlement!"

Life's Riches

The rich corporate businessman was absolutely horrified to find the bookseller at the markets with his feet up, reading a book - no spiel, no hawking - just relaxing.
“Why aren’t you trying to sell more books?” he asked of the bookseller.
“I have sold enough books for the day,” came the reply.
“Enough? What do you mean enough?" The businessman didn't seem to understand the concept. "If you sold more books, you would make more money...then you could open a bricks-and-mortar store...more books, more money, until you get to a point where you could be as rich as me.”
“And then what would I do?” asked the bookseller, a faint smile creasing his face.
The businessman folded his arms across his double-breasted Parker Brothers suit, a hint of self-satisfaction in his voice. “Well, you could relax and really enjoy life.”
“What do you think I am doing now?”

13 Days Of Horror - Day 4

Lee Hughes is today's featured writer on Erin Cole's 13 Days of Horror with his tale 'With Brush & Pain".
A classic story that deserves your attention. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

13 Days Of Horror: Day 3

Today marks Day 3 of the 13 Days of Horror, hosted by Erin Cole. Today's author is, well, me, and my piece called "Branded".


A big thank you to Erin for inviting me to be a part of what has been so much fun, both as a writer and, more importantly to me, as a reader. Discovering new writers, or new voices for old favourites is refreshing indeed. Her regular blogs can be found here.

Meeting The Queen

Lord Wotsit was looking extremely pleased with himself, which is rather unusual, as he is generally more depressed than Joan Of Arc with a pile of logs and a box of matches.
"I say, m'lord, you're looking happier than a happy man with a brilliant reason to be happy - what's the goss, the story, the news?"
"Dear Grumble-Whiney, I have had the distinct pleasure of actually touching the Queen this very morn, and I must say, that she was everything that I imagined her to be, and all that that saucy pamphlet made her out to be."
"You touched her, m'lord....where?"
"In the chapel."
"Never heard it called that before!!"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

13 Days of Horror: Day 2

Today's guest writer is John Donald Carlucci. His story can be found by clicking on the blog title. Go ahead, you know you want to!!!

Hunger Pains - John Donald Carlucci

Thanksgiving Feast Of Flash Contest

Hey all, check out Michael Solender's Thanksgiving Flash contest. All the details are on his homepage, just click the blog title above for a link to his page. The info is on the right hand side of his page. Give it a whirl, you know you want to...

Erin Cole's 13 Days Of Horror: Day 1

For the next 13 days to Halloween, Listen to the Voices will be hosting Halloween horrors to fright and delight you. Grab that caramel apple, stir your brew, turn on the lights if you must, for a new thriller every day by those who know darkness and write it well.

Day One features Michael Solender's piece "Orange Dot"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mother Love

My mother was taken from me at an early age. I wasn't terribly upset. She deserved what she got.

Scars identify us. They are a part of who we are and who we once were. I had seen the scar on the lower abdomen of Alison, a streetwalker I had taken a shine to and patronised regularly - it is very similar to the one my mother had where she had been stabbed during a bar fight. My mother was a mean bitch. Alison could be mean, too, although there was no sign of that when I drove the dagger into her stomach. Nothing like reopening old wounds, right?

Kelly and I had had an on-again-off-again relationship since high school. She was attracted to my wilful disregard for authority and continual displays of indifference for the sensitivity of others. I was attracted to her by her perfume. Our fragmented relationship was dependent on my ability to not hate her for reminding me of my mother. That scent comes to me now as I wrap her corpse in recently-defiled bedsheets. I guess I hate that perfume again.

As I got older, I came to recognise that my destructive behaviour was rooted in the fact that I never got to have closure on the daily abuse I received from my mother. Physically, mentally, emotionally and even sexually...

My mother was, if nothing else, consistent. Following every tirade, every put-down, and every molestation, she would apologise - a lot. She would shed crocodile tears and beg my forgiveness. Joanne was an ugly girl - she wasn't likely to be attractive to anybody else and I only kept her around for the constant sex. She would invariably apologise after making love - either about her performance or some other irrelevant issue. The one thing I have learned from that relationship is that the human tongue is almost impossible to pull out of a person's mouth...almost, that is.

I grew to know what form of abuse I was going to be subjected to on any given day. There were certain looks I recognised, became aware of. When it was to be sexual, my mother's language and bearing would have had a lewd and wanton characteristics and when I complied to her unnatural desires, a chilling smile would flit across her face, as if in victory. Reagan used to smile like that, too, when she would fall before me on her knees - she had something else in mind but it was all the same to me. I was surpised how fragile the human neck could be.

Whiskey and painkillers. When I saw them sitting on the kitchen table, I knew violence wasn't far behind. Mother would be in an almost trance-like state when she hit me. She would use closed fists and hit me so hard and so often, that she would bleed from the knuckles. She would also bite hard on her lip in effort - so hard, in fact, that she would often break the skin. When she was exhausted and reached the apology stage, she would kiss me; her blood would mix with mine, blood and sweat, blood and saliva.

I developed a taste for blood, a craving, a desire...everything else is just an excuse.

Sensing The End

I enjoy pain.
That's not entirely accurate - I enjoy inflicting pain.
Torture and mutilation uplift my dark soul only so far.
Psychological pain is far sweeter for my tastes.
As a famous rock singer once said: Once you have tasted excess, everything else tastes bland.I think the same thing about pain.

The sight of pure fear is addictive. It drives me. It compels me to reach beyond myself, to play the game so far outside the comfortable circle that these mere humans exist within, to force them to make decisions based on their own selfish needs. Fear is the key which unlocks the door to my appetites. I envision this fear before the act of barbarity. I fantasise about it after.

For me, a scream in terror is like a child's laugh to a parent. I actively encourage it. Seek it as a lion seeks for prey on the prairie. I will not rest until my desire for the lamentations of the barely-living reach my ears and fill my heart with exhilaration. Screaming, crying, sobbing, pleading, and whimpering. They are all part of the Dance.

Her eyes are devoid of emotion, as if in defeat, or supplication. I raise her own hand in mine. She caresses the handle of the dagger in an almost phallic manner. I guide her to that small cavity between her still perky breasts. I whisper in her ear and my darkness touches her soul. I gently stroke her hair as the blade penetrates into her chest and yet she still sits there, unmoved, unfeeling...as if already dead, which, is more truth than lie.

Droplets of blood on a razor's edge. Pale thin lips kiss the still-warm blade that has pierced and ravaged sinew and muscle. My lips brush against the jagged wound in her chest, lingering on the heady, metallic taste of her lifeblood. I run my bloodied fingers across her own lips; perhaps in an attempt to give her hope, to give her belief, before I crush them into dust. I wonder if she can still taste the sorrow in her tears. It is a bittersweet goodbye kiss.

Overpowering. Oppressive.
Ambrosia. Indulgent.
The smell of victory.
The smell of death.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Many Faces of Death

“Good morning, Dad.” Shannon had come to a halt in the driveway of his father’s home. His father had rung him, asking if Shannon could pick him up on the way through to work. His new car had failed yet again to start. “You really are having some bad luck of late, aren’t you? I hope you filled in - and sent off - the warranty details.”
His father glanced at him, nodded slightly and sighed. “Son, I have seen a lot in my time, but this has got to be the most damndest luck I have ever come across. I was lucky when the branch came off the old elm and almost crushed me. Then I had the bad luck with the gas heater that decided to turn me into toast. And now this. Where does it end?”
Shannon tried not to look at the pink flesh around his father’s face and neck. The fire brigade had still yet to explain what had made the heater explode, showering his father in flame and almost taking his life.
“Well, Dad, I have some good news for you then. A change of luck, if you will. This morning I secured two tickets to that Halloween party the local radio station has been promoting. I begged and pleaded and they gave me two tickets. One is for you. What do you think?”
Shannon’s father stared hard at his son, a disheartening look creeping across his face. “Son, there is something I need to talk to you about in regards to this Halloween thing. You see...” he began.
Shannon pulled up to the curb. “Dad, we are here. I will drop you off then go around back and park the car. You can tell me about it on the way up in the elevator. Deal?”
The older man smiled, looked at his son with a cryptic glint in his eye and said “Ok, son. I will meet you inside the lobby. Don’t take all day chatting up Miss Kim in the parking stalls okay? She really is pretty but way out of your league.”
It was Shannon’s turn to grin. He let his father out of the car and proceeded to drive off towards the side entrance to the building. As he looked in the rear vision mirror, he saw his father patiently waiting for the lights to change when, suddenly, a car from nowhere slammed into the old man, sending him sprawling across the road, into the path of a huge semi-trailer. His father, if still alive after the first collision, had no chance with the second.
Panic and disbelief seemed to grip Shannon. He stared in the mirror, hoping he had been mistaken but from the screams of horror he heard around him, he knew that this was all too real.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Award

Every year, my family had a get-together in Ipswich. This year, they had chosen to have a picnic in the leafy suburban park just down the road from my parents' home; they were elderly and couldn't travel very far, and a lot of my siblings lived nearby.
We were a reasonably large family; I had three sisters and four brothers so our yearly reunions were usually a torrid affair, catching up on what each other were doing, how our kids were doing at school or work (my eldest brother was fourty-four and his kids were in their twenties), and the usual arguments about childhood memories always reared their ugly heads. So far this year, none of the usual fights and disagreements had developed and it had been a very pleasant afternoon.
Unfortunately, on returning to my folks place, I learned that my brother had organised a mock award for one of the family members. As soon as he started his spiel I could tell where it was going and I tried not to make eye contact with him or the rest of the family members who all seemed to be in on the joke.
"...so this year's award is called The Insensitive Bastard Of The Year, and it goes to - drum roll please - Robbie."
I rolled my eyes, sighed and stood up to go and receive my trophy. The family were clapping and cheering, yelling for me to make a speech. I had no intention of doing anything of the sort until my sister, Anita, yelled out that I should have won it every year since we were kids. I looked her in the eyes and let loose.
"Well, thanks a fucking lot, you mob of ungrateful and selfish bastards. You take one incident from the whole year and label me insensitive. What about you, Karen? You treat people like crap every day of the week at Social Security, not giving a shit about their circumstances, not having a bone of caring in your whole entire fat-ass body."
I swung my gaze from her to my youngest brother, Dave.
"And how about you, Dave? You are one of the most influential people in the state government and yet our schools, hospitals, and transport systems are falling to pieces but yet you are quite happy to receive your six-figure income, not caring one iota if the people of this state can't spell, can't get to see a doctor, or if employees are losing their jobs as they are constantly late because of your train system. And you have the hide to call me insensitive."
I could see that my parents were shocked at my outburst, and try as I might to settle down, a snicker from another brother kept me going.
"Oh, yes, you can laugh, you stupid prick. When are you going to do something about the price of fuel so regular people can afford to drive to work, rather than relying on this state's crap public transport system? The price of oil has dropped remarkably but yet the price of fuel is still astronomical. What's the matter? Are you afraid that if you reduce the cost of fuel, you won't get your substantial bonus at the end of the year? You and your schmuck mates are more insensitive than me....why didn't you get this award?"
I stopped, out of breath, when my little sister took a video tape off the bookshelf and inserted it into the player. I wasn't sure what this was about, but I could tell it probably wouldn't be good for me.
The tape started to roll. My family were watching me intently for any sign of understanding, maybe even a sign of remorse, but once the tape got to the interview, I knew exactly what it was.
"...and in late breaking news, a man has been seriously injured after being thrown down eight flights of stairs. The perpetrator is here, willing to speak about the incident on his way to the police station."
"Tell me, Sir, what possessed you to throw a man down those stairs?"
"He cut in line," I heard my reply. The interviewer looked intently at the camera before continuing, as if inviting the viewers to get ready for the punchline. How little he knew at the time...
"And, may I ask, why was that such a terrible thing?" The newsman looked at the camera again, trying for the sympathy vote. He didn't get any from me.
"Man, look, I am not gonna stand here and justify myself to you. I had been in line for fourty five minutes, then shuffled from department to department for another half an hour, and then, when there were only two people in front, this guy and his mate cut in line. It was hot, I was really pissed off, and he bore the brunt of my frustration."
"Sir," the interviewer continued, "this man did not deserve this treatment. He was a war veteran, had seen terrible action in World War Two and Korea, and you thought that this was an appropriate action?"
"For god's sake, I didn't know he was a veteran so stop trying to make me look bad. The man cut in line, and I didn't like it. End of story."
I knew these final two lines that were coming and I cringed internally.
"But, Sir, the man was in a wheelchair."
"Well, what more fucking damage could I have done?"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Eager To Please

For fourteen years, I was imprisoned for a crime I did not commit. For fourteen years, I had been denied the opportunity to watch my only daughter, Kelley, grow up. During that time, I had been resigned to watching her develop from photographs supplied to my by her adopted parents - Mark and Gina, my brother-in-law and his wife, the man I believed then, as I do now, was responsible for pulling the trigger that ended the life of my beloved husband.

Later, upon my release, my daughter, who has protested my innocence on a regular basis, had decided that she no longer wished to live with her uncle - she wanted to live with me. I agreed instantly; a chance to make up for lost time, a chance to get to know Kelley, her dreams, her wishes, her life as she has seen it for nearly a decade and a half, a chance to make amends to the only thread of my life before. I remember her coming to my home for the first time, cautious about her position in my life, until she presented me with the still-dripping severed head of her uncle, my brother-in-law. Kelley also believed in his guilt and had brought me a peace offering...I love my daughter.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Holiday Cards

"Let me get this right: You are the Easter Bunny, yet you don't want to give out Easter eggs any more, you want to give out...those things. Right so far?"

Ok, I knew going in that I was going to cop some flak for this idea but I had been doing this job for the last twenty-two years; turning up at shopping malls, pre-schools and hairdressers (I have no idea why I am sent there) and it is all starting to get just a little bit stale. So, what's an Easter bunny to do? You guessed it - create a new gift to share with all the little boys and girls. Hence, I have approached my boss at Holiday-Characters-R-Us, and presented my new idea.

"Yes, boss, that is the idea. Just picture it: all the boys and girls running around with these things, showing 'em off to each other, trading them...who knows, they may become more popular than the eggs."

"Oh, I know," replied my boss, "I know you must be out of your tree. Did it hurt when you landed? C'mon, Bill, you know this will never work. The printing costs alone will kill us, not to mention all the research that has to go into the details on these things. I can't say I agree with your idea."

And with that, the meeting was over. My boss had waved a dismissive hand at me and I picked up all my paraphenalia and made my way to the door. As I reached for the knob, inspiration hit me.
"Hey, how about religious Bobble-heads instead of Biblical Trading Cards?"

The look was enough for me to know that I had to carry that damn basket again this year. God, I wish they wouldn't put the pink ribbons on it.

Devestation On MySpace

Yesterday, one of my friends sent me a cryptic text message, giving me a web page to examine and very little else in the way of detail.
After logging in, I painstakingly typed in the address and, lo and behold – there was a picture of my sister, smiling back at me.
I hadn’t seen her for a number of years for a number of reasons – stubbornness being the major one. She and I hadn’t seen eye to eye for many years, stemming from my involvement in the break-up of her marriage.
One detail caught my eye: what she had listed under family; mother and father, two sisters, one dead brother. My heart broke, my eyes flooded and my soul was crushed, all at once, never to be the same again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You Must Believe

With the greatest of care, I opened the Book of Dresh, a book that had been handed down through the generations with the highest regard for secrecy and protection. It was an ancient book, with ancient stories and even more ancient secrets.
My daughter was sitting with her legs crossed on the couch, looking at me expectantly, her breaths shallow little gasps as she saw the intricate detail in the hand-drawn artwork, the feathery-light pages and beautiful, bold script.
"Daddy, that has to be the most beautiful book in the world, I bet it must be magical."

I offered her a weak smile by way of reply, sat down next to her on the fairy blanket that lay draped across the couch, "You know, sweetness, that are you right - this is a magical book. Not only do you read this book and follow the story with the amazing pictures, if you believe in the story - truly believe - then you will be transported to all the magical places in this book. There are sights, sounds and smells that I will never forget in here. Friends I have made from other places and times that still exist to this day. But remember darling, for that to happen, you have to believe."

My daughter's eyes blazed like the fire in the hearth. "You know Daddy, I do believe - I believe in many things; you, fairies, elves, witches, goblins and all sorts of things. Can we start now Daddy, can we?"
"Of course we can, darling...which story shall we read first? Let's start at the beginning, that is always the best place to start." My daughter placed her head against my arm and waited for me to begin.

As I began reading, I could feel the pull of the wonderous, the attraction of the beautiful and the magnetism of the otherworldly. I could see the faint light in the distance, heralding our arrival in Dresh, the land of dreams. But once the swirling mists had cleared, I discovered I was alone, that the land was pure white and plain, and that the portal that had brought me here - which was available until I was ready to return - had disappeared.

"I thought you believed," I cried in despair, and I could almost hear the sound of the book closing for the final time.

More Bang For Your Buck

Coffee at Nana Jones' cafe was a traditional start to his morning. He felt comfortable there, amongst friends, even though he barely knew anyone's full name; Ryan the accountant, who always had a latte and toast every morning at 7.45am; Mrs. Devine who sat on the front porch and smoked her cigarettes and drank umpteen cups of coffee and did little else; Mr. Ross, the miner who called in after a long day in the pit for a Workman's Breakfast; and Nana Jones herself, although barely old enough to have had children of her own, enjoyed using the moniker of her late grandmother.

Kelley, the morning-shift waitress, approached him, her slightly tanned arms laden with serving trays, her sky-blue uniform pulled tight against her hips as she leaned forward to place his breakfast on the table before him. She smiled and they chatted for a few minutes about the weather and the horrible things that the politicians were getting away with, then went back to serving other customers - probably dishing out the same chit-chat that she had afforded him. He stared at Kelley for a few minutes, watching the quick smile appear on her face, the easy manner she had with customers and, if he did say so himself, very nice legs.

An enormous BOOM! echoed through the cafe, shattering windows, upturning furniture and causing all but one person to scurry for cover - screams filled the cafe as the building across the road, the Court House, was quickly engulfed in flames. The man just sat there, dusted himself off, smiled a wry grin, nodded his head ever-so-gently and retuned to his attention to the newspaper.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Naming Baby

Mother and father had arrived to see the new baby. My wife Ostkaalkaluvilee and I had become parents for the first time and my parents had arrived on the first available star-jumper.
"So, tell us, darling, what have you decided to call your child?"
I took a deep breathe, realising that this wasn't going to go too well. "We have decided to call him Bob."
A look of bemusement quickly turned to shock, then horror as my mother sat up straight in her chair. I could feel the tidal wave of disgust hit me before she even said a thing.
"Pavilylo Paleeonaloloonapaso, in the name of all that is sacred in the Five Worlds, what were you thinking? That's not a name for a Skurantariag. Where did you come up with a name like...Bob?" I could see the disappointment in my father's face, but he was smart enough to stay out of the argument and let Mother deal with it.
"Mother Paleeonaloloonapaso, Pavilylo and I decided long ago that if we were to breed, we were going to break the tradition of many centuries and name our children simply. The amount of time taken just signing in to each Stardock is incredible and we thought that this was the best way to go, with his future in mind."
Father stood up, and with an almost imperceptible nod of his head, Mother quickly followed, but she couldn't resist one parting shot.
"Bob? BOB? He will be ridiculed his whole life. I hope you are both happy with yourselves."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Justice Is Served, Sir.

His arrogant defense, his shameless cries of innocence, his smug smile, all came to naught as the judge confirmed what everyone, including the lawyers on both sides, had expected. His crime had shocked the community. Justice is served but his sentence, still to be decided, can never fit the crime.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The View From The Street

Crowds lined every available vantage point in the city to watch for the arrival of the next President. Despite the cold, people had been lined up since early morning, eager for a view of the man who would hopefully make their lives safer and more financially secure.

Gordon Thompson watched all this from the shadows of a shop awning, knowing full well he wouldn’t be accepted by the masses. No, he wasn’t a Republican, nor was he a criminal, (although, to Gordon’s mind, these were one in the same). He was just a man who had had a hard time under the soon-to-be ex-President. He had lost everything he owned during the financial crash – his wife and three young children had left him when he lost his job, he lost his house and car as well. He, too, should be lining the streets, flag in hand, cheering on the coming of the new Messiah, for that was the feeling here on the street, an almost religious fervor swept up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Suddenly, a mass of arms were raised, fingers pointing down the Avenue, as a few vehicles were able to be made out in the distance. People crushed forward, testing the strength of the barriers that had been put in place and the young and the weak were being crushed under the weight of the shifting mass. Gordon stepped back into the mouth of an alley, to keep his distance, to be away from the possible stampede that surely would begin at any moment.

As the vehicles, and now what appeared to be the President-in-Waiting and his entourage, neared the juncture where Gordon was standing, a crescendo of cheering, whistling and screaming reached its peak, and no sooner had the crowd begun, he was gone – hurried back into the waiting armored car to whisk him away further down the Avenue. The spectators started separating and following the vehicles down the street, now wanting to get closer to the Capitol Building to watch the ceremony, or at least find a place along the National Mall to view the Swearing-In on the giant screens that had been displayed there. A sudden hush had come over the street, although Gordon knew it wouldn’t last – he could see more people venturing down the Avenue, like sheep, to fall down to their knees at the feet of their Savior.

Gordon watched proceedings for a few more minutes, then grabbed his shopping cart from behind the large bins, and headed back down the alley. No one would want him down at the National Mall. He just wouldn’t make good copy for the media. This is not the America that the new President would want to be televised on the big screens, that is, if he could get past security. He knew that a man dressed in rags, with unkempt hair and pushing a large shopping trolley wouldn’t make it any closer than Osama Bin Laden would. These were facts.

As he made his way down the alley, he found the doorway that he had called home for the last four months, removed the fresh newspaper that he had found out on Pennsylvania Avenue and lay down. Will this man help him, Gordon Thompson, out of the dire predicament he finds himself in now? No, he can’t, thought Gordon.



This piece originally appeared on my friend Michael Solender's blog page as an invitation to write about being an outsider. Check out his other work at Not From Here, Are You?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Death Of Donny

Police Superintendent Melissa Kovaks grasped blindly in the darkness for her ringing cell phone.
"Yeah, this better be bloody good."
Melissa listened for a few more seconds before blurting out "Alison Agostino? As in, the daughter of Donny 'the Dean' Agostino? Okay, I am on my way." She had been rather unsuccessfully on the trail of a serial rapist for the past seven months, and now it seemed he had made the biggest mistake of his life. She and Donny had crossed paths numerous times before while she had worked in Vice and, while she didn’t like the man for what he did, she respected and understood him enough to know trouble was sure to follow.

**********

Donny the Dean had spent the last eighteen years in jail for murder and aggravated assault of a man who had brought disrespect against the 'legitimate' business that Donny ran. In fact, Donny had been known to be a very violent man - it was the worst-kept secret in the seedy and violent underbelly of the city that if you wanted someone 'taken care of' in a way that was beyond the means or abilities of your everyday, run-of-the-mill hitmen, Donny was the guy to see. But through all this, he was hugely respected - from the small-time crims to the Dons of the city, Donny was The Man. His one soft spot, though, was his daughter Allie, for whom Donny would, and did, absolutely everything for. She was a continual source of pride for him and may god help anyone who caused her even an iota of pain or discomfort.

**********

Her pager announced a call from a private number, with a simple message: "Ring me the fuck right now. Donny."
Picking up the phone, she dialed the number.
"Kovaks here, how can I help you?"
"Don't play the fucking goody-two-shoes with me, Kovaks - you know why I am calling and here is the deal. You have three choices: You either get that bastard who raped and murdered my daughter by yourself, which could take forever; you let me take care of it and leave you numerous dead bodies in my wake, which I am sure you wouldn't want; or, thirdly, you and I work together - within the rules, your access to manpower and records, my sources and underworld connections....what do you say? I know of your record as being a bit of a loose cannon, someone willing to do things that aren't strictly - how shall I say this - legal. "
Melissa paused for only a fraction of a second, "That, as they say in the classics, is an offer I simply can't refuse."

**********

A few hours later, Melissa and Donny had met at Smoky Joe's Cafe to discuss their plans They had decided to track down Bobby Vassio, one of the more well-connected snitches in the seamy side of the city. Finding him had been another story altogether - all the small bit-players and confidantes had gone to ground, fully aware that Donny would be on the warpath. They found Bobby in a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar, knocking down scotches as if he knew that today would most likely be his last and he may as well enjoy it while he could. Donny waited out in the car - he had told Kovaks that they would do things by the book, at least while they were in public. Kovaks came out of the bar, Bobby in tow, and they headed towards the car, Bobby nervously scouting the area, hoping that no one was seeing him get in a car with a police officer. Once he was sure things were okay, he settled into the front until he heard a voice from the backseat, "Hey Bobby, glad you could join us for a chat....Kovaks, you know where to go from here."

Later, at the penthouse suite of the Marriott Hotel, Donny was in fine form, relaxed and easy going, and yet still exuded a sense of malice and hatred.
"Donny, man I honestly know nothin' man....like I would fuckin' lie to ya - do ya think I'm fuckin' crazy?"
Kovaks watched the young man closely, watching for any sign of what may be considered evasiveness or plain, outright lies. She need not have worried; sweat has turned Bobby's once neat brown hair into a straggly mess; his black muscle shirt was pulled taut across his young chest; and the fear in his eyes was enough to suggest that he was on the narrow - besides, who in their right minds would lie to Donny Agostino?
"Sure, kid, you don't know shit....what about the rest of your gang, pack, or whatever you call yourselves? I am really starting to get annoyed and you don't want to annoy me, Bobby, you really don't."
Kovacks interrupted, "Hey Donny, isn't this where you threaten to cut off his fingers or shoot him in the testicles?"
"Lady, the minute I become a walking cliche, you can shoot me in the testicles!"

**********

Melissa Kovaks stared at the box of Cubans that Donny Agostino had brought her, as a present for helping him locate and "deal" with the murderer of his daughter. They had worked together well as a team; no indiscreet conversations, all phone calls made from private mobile phones, very quiet inquiries made with the idea of secrecy in mind. After finally tracking down killer, Donny had made a bit of a mess of his face, and other parts of his anatomy, and left the body in an abandoned warehouse in the southern suburbs of the city, where a dead body was as commonplace as a prostitute in King's Cross. Leaning against her desk with Donny standing next to her, they both simultaneously reached for the cigars, accidentally rubbing elbows in the meantime. Melissa stared at him; his rugged good looks, his athletic body, the way he used his hands to communicate feeling, she could just imagine herself kissing him, feeling the warmth of his embrace, the stubble on his chin gently rubbing against her face. Suddenly, Melissa was amazed at the almost-elegant way her body slumped to the floor, the bullet from Donny's gun planted firmly in her brain....
"Not one of my cigars, honey," he said as he tidied up the only loose end that could tie him to the case.

**********

Shakespeare was wrong - shooting the messenger was alright with Donny Agostino, legendary underworld figure, and now, as he had just heard, Number One With A Bullet (if you will excuse the pun) on the FBI's Most Wanted list. He had been involved in a messy, and eventually bloody, hunt for the rapist and killer of his daughter, Alison. In the end, he had killed the investigator he had worked with because, as he knew from personal experience, that leaving loose ends would always come back to bite you on the ass. One of his junior underlings, Jimmy, had reported in that he had heard from a reliable source that Donny was now the most wanted man in the world and, normally, that would be just fine with him, except that getting heat from an international crime unit wasn't his idea of fun. Donny knew that the FBI, CIA and all sorts of crime fighting units would be on his trail so the best thing was for him to make tracks and get out of the country quickly. But, before he did, he had had to remove the loose end that was Jimmy - waste of a bullet in Donny's opinion.

Jimmy’s death stirred something in the night, some shadow of a being that had long ceased to be of this world. A throbbing could be heard that transmuted into a rhythmic sob and then a wail so plaintive as to send shivers through those dwelling in lesser darkness. Jimmy had a sister. In the days before darkness consumed her humanity she and Jimmy were close. His memory fed her tenuous grasp on this plane of existence and when the bullet entered Jimmy’s brain, that grasp was lost. She could see through his eyes as the killer pulled the trigger and now Janie’s got a gun…

**********

Donny was relaxing at the bar of the Lago Park Apartments in Playa de Muro, Mallorca, seemingly millions of miles from anywhere. Donny felt the weight of the world lift from his shoulders as he settled in to his easy recliner, cocktail in one hand, cigar in the other, thinking that here, on this tiny Spanish island, the troubles of his past were behind him. A sudden shift in the breeze ran a cold chill up his back, making him rather uncomfortable for a moment, and try as he like, even after the breeze had calmed again, he couldn't shake a feeling of unease.

She came from nowhere, her walk exuding such sexuality that no man could resist the lure of her allure and in front of Donny Agostino she lingered, “Hey baby, you got another cigar?” her voice mirroring her walk. As Donny reached not for a cigar but for something harder she stepped between his reclined legs, running her long, long nails along his pressed tan slacks and lightly caressing his most sensitive of all places, “come on baby, play nice” she purred as Donny fell entranced. Janie’s red, red lips reached Donny’s ear and as she whispered the names of everyone of Donny’s victims, he is forced to relive their deaths through his victims eyes; save for Jimmy’s…. in Jimmy’s death Donny will live through his own as Janie seductively withdraws Donny’s nickel plated revolver and ends the parade of death that was Donny Agostino.

**********

Finally, it ends. She had returned the spade and the ropes to her car and was now resting, with her back against the pole, staring out at the ocean, letting the gentle sea breeze sweep her hair off her face, allowing her to cool down after the strenuous activity she had just partaken in. She was not generally a day person but the time had felt right and the secluded beach in a foreign country had seemed like a perfect place to bury the past. She had swept up handfuls of sand to use as the finishing touches, unafraid to get sand inside the form-fitting dress she had been wearing the night before when she had concluded her business with a former "client". In a way, she was feeling a little melancholy, the way you do when a part of your life finishes and you know you will never have that time again. Janie took one last handful of sand, scattered it around the pole where she had only just now laid Donny to rest.

(Another rap to Daniel Stine for the work he contributed to this piece. What had started off as a tale on Six Sentences grew into this longer piece, in which Daniel was not particularly happy with my ending, and hence added the death of Donny. I appreciate greatly his writing and hope soon to work with him again.)

The Case

"I've got this case," Anna said, and instantly thought of her father.
That was the way he always began his discussions with her mother. He talked about the cases that troubled him, the cases that worried him, the cases that concerned him, more than any other detective she had known. Anna remembered coming into the kitchen or the living room late at night and finding her mother and father talking; her mother combing her hair or sipping ice water, her father, his socks off and his shirttails out, feet propped up on another chair, or on the footstool Anna had bought for him for Father's Day. His voice - softly, gently - emanating from his barrel chest - "I've got this case," he would begin.
Her mother would become still and quiet as though she didn't want to distract him. Everything she was doing, or might have intended to do, was pushed into oblivion, wiped away, as she gave her total attention to his story.
"I've got this case," Anna repeated, although this time, she paused, not knowing what to say next. A flood of emotions overcame her, and she silently wept for the man she loved, admired and missed. Her mother, although aged and frail, edged her way across the room to her and, tenderly wiping away the tear from Anna's face, said, "I know, dear, I know."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heartless

“Why can’t you, just once, get off your lazy ass, go down there and see him? This is my brother, your son and not once have you left the house or even as much sent a card or letter telling him that you are thinking of him, and that you do care and aren’t a completely heartless bastard.”
With that, I walked out the door, slamming it hard behind me, hearing the doorframe scream in protest. My brother had been in hospital for seven weeks after a near fatal car accident and I was angry; angry at the other driver for ignoring the red light; angry at my brother for drink driving; angry at my father for his ignorance and stubborn ways; angry at myself for not staying with my brother longer at the party so I could have taken him home.
I arrived at the hospital, still very worked up and my brother asked me what was bothering me. I told him that I had another fight with Dad and what it was about.
“What are you talking about – Dad rings me twice a day…”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Painting The Past" at Powder Burn Flash

My flash fiction story "Painting The Past" is currently showing here.

Vampyre! on MicroHorror!!!

A flash piece published on MicroHorror is available to be read here.

The Traveller


He stood on the hill, back turned to the sun, and watched two opposing armies face off with each other. The Traveller knew that to attempt, in any way, however beneficial it may be, to interfere with this battle would turn the tide of history and ultimately create a paradox of his existence.

However, he knew also that he couldn't just stand idly by and watch the slaughter that the history books described clearly, the mass genocide that would follow by the victor and the loss of great and important relics to the dust of time. The invading army would not leave any trace of the former occupants of this small, but fiercely proud nation. Instead, they would raze their communities to the ground, destroy all signs of religious imagery and supplant it with their own. They would run roughshod over the women and make slaves of those who seemed the most capable.

The Traveller made his way carefully down the side of the hill, following a rather rocky path, and made his way into the village that had only, until recently, been a resting place for many followers of the man they called Jesus. Here he found stone tablets and many scrolls, most in clay jars, dusty but undamaged, which he collected and carefully placed into a large hessian sack he had carried with him. As quickly as he had come, he was gone again, heading for the hills on the other side of the Dead Sea, with the hope that someday, down through the centuries, that someone would find these tablets and scrolls, and the true story of these times could be told.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

1-2-3-4


From their first gig at the CBGB's in New York in 1974, to their last show at The Palace in Hollywood in 1996, the entire face of music had been changed. Although they weren't a huge commercial success from the outset, it was the live concerts that caused them to become internationally renowned - their first concert in England, which had been attended by members of The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Damned, influenced a whole generation of musicians to be who they wanted to be, say what they wanted to say and not be too concerned about the perfection of their craft - the playing was all that mattered. With the "uniform" look emphasising minimalism - long black hair, leather jackets, t-shirts, torn jeans, and sneakers - they instantly seperated themselves from other bands who were operating at the time. With just four chords and one manic tempo, they blasted open the clogged arteries of mid-'70s rock, reanimating the music, their genius was to recapture the short, simple aesthetic from which pop had strayed, adding a caustic sense of trash-culture humour and minimalist rhythm guitar sound. While the they were one of the longest-lasting punk bands - some say the Godfathers of Punk - recording albums all the way into the 90s, their biggest legacy were the bands that they inspired. Recognition of the band's importance built over the years, and they are now regularly represented in many assessments of all-time great rock music, such as the Rolling Stone lists of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time, 25 Greatest Live Albums of All Time, VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock, and Mojo's 100 Greatest Albums - in 2002, the Ramones were voted the second greatest rock and roll band ever in Spin, trailing only The Beatles and finally, on March 18, 2002, the band - including the three founders and drummers Marky and Tommy - were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

R.I.P. Joey (1951-2001), Johnny (1948 - 2004), Dee Dee (1951 - 2002). I miss you guys, you were the best!!

Hey Ho, Let's Go!!!

Come On In.

I notice it immediately. There is something quite different about this House of Horrors. All the usual motifs and banal imagery are gone from the fa├žade; it is modest and unembellished.

Entering, I expect to see the usual ghouls and goblins, but instead, darkness greets me; silhouettes of flames flicker across the walls and the hiss of steam escaping from a valve greets my ears.

Rounding a bend, I come face to face with a giant projector screen with images of the Holocaust; a defiant Hitler and Stalin shaking hands, both grinning in a most evil way; death camps - unbelievably emaciated human forms, their voices begging for mercy or death; mounds of the dead uncovered by the Allies, removed from pits and laid out in rows for identification – all flashing across the screen, accompanied by chilling screams and barking German soldiers.

I run from the room in sheer despair, knowing that the truth of history is far more repulsive than anything man can dream up.

Shameless Self Promotion

"Good not-day-nor-night evening, salutations and welcome to the transmission of us. Tonight we will be using the english - no other - language to make conversational discussionable commentry on my new baronial and majestic inscribing of opus-creating text. It contains, yes, yes, it does, it comprises many, many divisions and sections, from the prolegomenon, that's right - prolegomenon - through to the noted feet at its hindermost part. In the course of my august and grandiose personal narrative, i set forth, not back, to record the peregrination that all my born days have availed itself of. The availability and, indeed, its puchasableness, is in multitudinous and multifarious merchants and vendors of splendiferous collections of printed utterances."

"Yes, he is talking about his autobiography and you can buy it at your local bookseller."

Colours

Our eyes see the beauty of colour; lush green grass, emerald oceans, deep blue skies, blood red roses - but for me, colour has a bigger role and influence.
Where would my life be without Brown-Eyed Girl, Purple Haze, Red Red Wine and Yellow Submarine?
My childhood wouldn't have been complete without Ruby Tuesday, Tangled Up In Blue, Little Red Corvette and Black Dog.
My ears couldn't appreciate what my eyes could see without Brown Sugar, Blue Bayou, Purple Rain, Pink Cadillac and Crimson and Clover.
My days of listening to Green Day, Black Sabbath, Pink, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Flag make my life so much more complete than just seeing these colours.
With all of this at my disposal, I am never green with envy, a cowardly yellow or just blue, rarely do I see red (in anger), but I can always look to these great songs and artists as my silver lining.

Killing Time

Concentration was the trick. When shooting from this distance, it was all in the balance and poise, long before the shot is taken. I visualise exactly where I want to hit and just let my body relax and block out everything else. Sure, there are gonna be some very unhappy people when I am done, but, you can't please all of the people all of the time. Deep breathe, focusing again....
"Black ball, bottom pocket."

Welcome To The Mountain


Flags and banners flapping in the breeze....we wear our colours like badges of honour.

We cheer, we scream, we yell when our favourites go thundering past....we don't care who it is as long as he is wearing our colours....Red versus Blue...as it should be.

A splash of beer on our shoes, the smoke in our eyes, deafened by the sound generated by these gas-guzzling monsters....but who cares??? This is why we come, this is our lives!!

A man sitting alone (wearing his colours), a family with kids (wearing their colours), a woman and her baby, staring at us all like we have transformed into something out of a Stephen King novel (but she still wears the colours)....

The smells - the sounds - the colour....all part of our tribalistic pilgrimage to this sacred site....

Welcome to our Holy Grail, Welcome to The Mountain!!!



(This is an old story, written a few months back but I feel it is one of my favourites)