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Second Thoughts

February 22
by Anita Rosen

Daybreak, he walks into the diner, dirty blond hair caught back in a loose ponytail, pants hanging just right on slim hips. Every female eye drifts toward him.

Trucker, I think. Nice enough to make even my tired bones tingle. Reminds me of Herm, when we were starting out.

Millie and I glance at each other, but, before we can silently nominate one of us to take his order, here comes Alicia, all 110 pounds of her, bouncing along on the tips of her toes.

“I got it, girls,” she calls out.

Straight-legged, ass in the air, elbows on the table, she shows him today’s specials.

“You got a lucky look about you,” she says, appraising him beneath mascaraed lashes.

“Got lucky at the casino. Maybe my streak’s not worn out yet.”

Alicia smiles and saunters away. Retrieving a cup of coffee, she asks, “Honey, you want this with cream?”

An hour later, Alicia appears in the kitchen, where Millie and I have been cleaning after the morning shift.

“Don’t have to ask where you’ve been,” I say.

Alicia pulls out a wallet and counts $1,000.

“Guess he wasn’t so lucky, after all,” she smirks.

Furious, I snatch the wallet.

“You’re worse than a tramp, stealing that boy’s money.”

“I’ll give you $100; after all, I worked for this.”

I find a card in the wallet and call the number of the company he works for, tell them the wallet must have fallen from his pocket in the diner.

Alicia whirls around, slings her apron across the room and leaves.

Driving home, I can’t think why I didn’t take the $100. It’s not like we can’t use it with Herm not working now because of his arthritis.

Ah, well, it will make a good story, maybe cheer Herm up a bit.

I pull up the driveway and see my love sitting in a chair, umbrella tilted to protect him from the late-morning sun, looking like the king of what surrounds him – all the junk even we don’t want that he tries daily to sell to anyone silly enough to be lured onto the property with his hand-painted “Yard Sale” sign.

Pulling my tired legs out of the car, I realize I won’t be telling Herm this tale after all.

Write to Anita:

The 1975 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

December 4
by Jack Fay

A moment earlier the sky had been filled with twirling batons; the air with toots and tweets; and the clank of metal rifle butts on cold concrete. The marchers started nervously and out of step. South Boston’s 1975 St. Patrick’s Day Parade was on the move.

Andrew Cahill, a visitor from Belfast, watched from the doorway of Finneran’s. “An exuberant people my kinsmen are,” Cahill said to the frosted glass of ale. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fat Kid

November 3
by Jack Fay

We called him The Fat Kid because he was fat, and none of us knew his name. We didn’t know where he lived, where he went to school, and why he walked behind us all the time. I’d spot him at the other end of the block, and if he saw me looking he’d jump into a doorway or run around a corner.

He always wore dungarees that were too big, and in the winter he’d wear a pea jacket that wouldn’t button in the front. Winter or summer, he wore a Red Sox baseball cap. From what I could see, Read the rest of this entry »

Mr. Hurley Leaves the Hospital

October 7
by Jack Fay

The nurse walked past the end of the bed and tapped my foot. “Try to rest, Mr. Hurley.” Rest? Is she kidding me? How can a man rest when his daughter is leaning over his head with a handkerchief stuck up her nose and crying like there’s no tomorrow. For the love of Mike, it’s only an infected hip. I should tell Bridey to be quiet but I won’t treat her mean. She’s a good girl. The only time she ever got my dander up was when she married that bonehead from Dorchester who’s standing out there in the hallway acting like Mr. Bigshot.

This place is a dump. All they do here is fix up the losers who get stabbed or shot. Do you see a knife in my gut or a bullet in my head? ‘Course you don’t. All I got is a little infection from that time I broke my hip. The hip’s not hurting but sometimes I get a little pain in the stomach. But I’m not gonna say anything about the stomach. Tomorrow I’m outta here and I ain’t coming back. Read the rest of this entry »

Buck Pickens

September 2
by Jack Fay

Everything changed the day Daddy left us and went off with Tillie Dugan, the one that worked down to the Purina Feed Store. Grampa took us in right quick, and that’s when Mama’s bitterness began spilling out, never stoppin’ ‘til we put her in the ground. Pretty soon after, Mary went away too. Topeka, some say, but I say Californy.

That little sister of mine loved them movie stars. Her bedroom walls’re filled with pitchers of Rock Hudson and Doris Day, and who all else I do not know. On the stand next to her bed is a record player. It works, too. On her pillow is a teddy bear with a red ribbon ‘round its neck. The bear’s been there since the day she left. Read the rest of this entry »

My Name is Bako

August 4
by Jack Fay

“I am Doctor Natalia Kinsky, head of the clinic. Your name, please.”

“My name is Bako, and I must protest being held here.”

“You are not being held, Mister Bako. You are free to leave whenever you like.”

“I am not Mister Bako. I am Bako. The villagers, kind people I am sure, say I must not leave until you have examined me. Why is this so? I ask you. Cannot people observe that I have two legs, two arms, one head? I see, I hear, I am aware of circumstances.”

“Circumstances, you say? They have been reported to me. But to my judgment the circumstances are outside the boundaries of belief. What have you to say to that?” Read the rest of this entry »

A Welcome Party For Lackley

February 4
by Vivian Sheperis

Lackley was exhausted, but he kept running. He stumbled over a rock in the trail and careened into a thorny bush before regaining his balance. The barks of the dogs pursuing him were growing louder.

Now was the time to bite into that little black vial under his tongue, but it was still in his left breast pocket. “Damn.” While running and negotiating the rocks and brush, he managed to fish around his pocket and hook the deadly vessel with his forefinger. He dragged it into his fist and gripped it, his one escape to oblivion.

It took several leaps at breakneck speed over the ruts and piles of dirt for Lackley to get up the nerve to bring the lethal object to his mouth. Only when howls and snarls of snapping teeth were yards away did he open his lips to admit the final solution. “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

He raised his cupped palm with the poison to his mouth just as he stepped with his left foot onto nothingness and tumbled headlong into a cavernous pit, landing on a soft pile of sand. High above him the hounds ringed the edge of the abyss, salivating and yelping their disappointment. Lackley still held tightly the little bottle and lay there, panting, unwilling to trust his unexpected escape and ready to blackout in case this lucky break was an illusion.

A whisper came from the darkness, “No need for that, now.”

He turned his head in the direction of the voice and saw a glowing, silver Deva gliding toward him from a large bright opening in the wall of the crater. Beyond her he could see several figures in robes of emerald green and violet, which reflected a peculiar luminescence. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Old Days

March 9
by Travis H. McDaniel

October 15, 2083 – Atlanta, Georgia
A sullen frown wrinkles the frustrated writer’s brow as he tears up yet another draft of a research article and flings it towards the waste paper basket sitting in the corner of his posh Buckhead office. The renowned freelance journalist, Alexander Carlton Ellis, known to friend and fans alike as “Ace,” sits at his desk, irritated at his inability to pull himself out of a slump, now in its third month. What he needs is a great story idea to put him on top again.

Ace has been in the game for over forty years, covering human-interest aspects of major international topics. He made a name for himself early in his career with hard-hitting stories relating to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab-Jewish conflict, the melting of the Greenland Ice Cap and the final clearing of what once was the great Amazon rain forest. He thought the catchy title for his rain forest article, “Amazon Green, vs. Chop-Sticks for China?” worthy of an award by itself. Yes, there were a million stories to be written, and Ace was proud of the fact he had always been out there on the edge … read the rest of this story online in Cynic Magazine

The Old Cabin

January 29
by Bill Booth

Late afternoon. Walking home through dry broom grass and fresh, soft snow. Shotgun feels like a bar of lead. Everything as far as I can see looks like a black and white photograph, 95 percent white.  Bare, black trees stand like sentinels against a pale blue sky. Feet started hurting three hours ago. Now feel like blocks of wood. Will be painful when they thaw. Hope I don’t lose any toes. I am tired.

Old cabin’s dark outline is a welcome sight when it appears just before the sun reaches the western horizon. Home at last!
Read the rest of this entry »

A Tranquilizer Gun Christmas

December 27
by Harris Green
My wife takes decorating for Christmas very seriously. It starts soon after Thanksgiving and winds down on New Year’s Day, known at our house as un-decorating day. She un-decorates while I watch bowl games. When she has to pass in front of the TV set, her staccato sandpiper gait slows down to a tortoise plod and she gives me a disdainful look that says, “How can you just sit there when all this work needs to be done.” The look is joined by a barely audible sigh. I parry the thrust by searching in my bowl of nuts for a cashew.

Read the rest of this entry »

Love at the Blue Dog

December 12
by Deborah Osgood
It’s not raining yet but you can smell it coming. An oak tree towers over the back parking lot of The Blue Dog Pub, still hanging onto clumps of dead leaves with bare fingers like oaks do, roots like knees and toes pushing up, splitting the asphalt. A 1976 Lincoln Continental, midnight blue with fat white-walls, rests like an ocean liner in the first space. This vintage ride is four years older than its owner, Zach, the lead singer of the band.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reminiscing Around the Old Yule Log

November 27
by Vivian Sheperis

1950 was a year I’ll never forget.  I learned to ride a two-wheeler with our neighbor Mr. Edsel Kinsley holding me up by my ass and running alongside. He was out of breath, but the old pervert wouldn’t let go. If mother had seen it, Edsel would have found his beer laced with cyanide on the next neighborly visit and his hand clamped in the rusty vise she kept behind the breadbox for such purposes.

It was also the year the Black Watch Bagpipers marched into town. Read the rest of this entry »

Jake’s Goodbye

September 9
by Alan Beske

It was thirty minutes after sunrise on a warm June morning, but Jake was not ready to get up.  He had lived on this sprawling Georgia farm his whole life, like his father and mother before him.  During his younger years, he’d always been the first one up, just after the earliest rooster call.  He was too old for that now.  His mind was no longer sharp, his bones ached, he had sporadic bouts with incontinence, and walking was very difficult for him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Murder In the Retirement Castle

August 30
by Hal Hart

Chapter 1

He was in an ugly mood. Driving the last three hours through a torrential downpour had stretched his patience to the limit. Damion Fitzgerald was a control freak and one thing he could not control was the weather. His Scotch-Irish background, his seventy-five years on this earth and his sporadic back problem had nothing to do with his ugly mood. Lack of control had everything to do with it. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lasher

April 2
by Harris Green

Mabry Russell knew only too well that he had no more than a fifty-fifty chance. But the alternative was almost unimaginable, so he had no choice, really.  He had to go for it. He had to make a dash for freedom. The open area he had to cross was small—only about twenty feet–but the danger was hideous. A lasher about five feet in length sat nearby in brooding silence. He noticed it was female, even more dangerous than the male if there are young in the vicinity. A lasher in defense of her hatchlings is fury incarnate .
Read the rest of this entry »

As the Mist Resembles Rain

February 1
by admin

by Fred Shaw

In this collection of stories we find the world’s smartest dog that has senses not understood—he’s also a killer. We find a mother who carries a seventy year grudge against her son to her grave, a beating that takes more than twelve years to revenge, a one-legged Vietnam vet intent on murder and an eight year old boy frightened by a thunderstorm and…a memoir on the author’s survival from a rare cancer.

This varied mix of short stories contains pieces of the author’s life. The pieces, however, are not portraits but snapshots. Fred Shaw tells these in a style that is straightforward with little adornment, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks where needed.

There is truth and there is fiction. Fred seeks truth in the reaction of the characters to guilt, greed and the many pitfalls of the human condition created by his fictional settings. Several of the stories are memoirs whose truth is blurred by time but nonetheless still seek the actual, true response to a situation.

Order As the Mist Resembles Rain Online »»
Read about Fred on the Writer’s Bios Page

Alexander’s Obsession

January 22
by Alan Beske

Judd Harmon’s life is in chaos. His young son is dead . . . his wife is gone . . . his creditors are relentless . . . and unsavory acts he committed as security vice president for faltering Linton Technologies are about to surface. When the reclusive and vengeful billionaire, known only as Alexander, offers Harmon a fortune for orchestrating a forced takeover of a major pharmaceutical company, Harmon is compelled to listen.

Order Alexander’s Obsession Online »»

Read about Alan on the Writer’s Bios Page

Blood Of A Stranger

January 20
by Bill Booth

Dr. Brent Dalton’s professional and private lives spiral downward when he tests positive for HIV following an accident in the operating room. In rapid sequence, Dalton is sued by a former patient who alleges he infected her with the virus, his hospital privileges are taken away, patient referrals disappear, and he is compelled to close his office and surgical practice.

Order Blood of a Stranger Online »»

Read about Bill Booth on the Writer’s Bios Page