Friday, September 29, 2017

Summer's End by John W. Dennehy

Sean has grown up by the lake, but his summer companion Alfonzo is from a rather more menacing background; by John W. Dennehy.

Sean played down by the lake until he heard a car pull into the driveway. Running up the hill between their cottage and the neighbor's multi-level home, his heart beat expectantly. Summertime had ramped up, and the community buzzed with activity. Boats cut across the water and docks were crowded with swimmers. During the dead of winter, he often ventured on the frozen lake alone, isolated, but in the summer, he usually found a companion.

He glanced at the neighbor's driveway. A shiny '74 Cadillac was parked on the asphalt. The big engine grumbled from the heat, having raced north from Boston. He sprinted up the stairs to the parking area. Two more Cadillacs whipped down the driveway, then a green car rolled into his parking area.

Large men got out of the cars, securing the area before Alfonzo's dad alighted from a sedan. Back for another season, they'd rented the neighbor's place again. Sean would have a friend for a few months. They were different from other families on the lake; guys that worked for Alfonzo's father stayed at the house the entire vacation.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Dog Breeder by Frank Beyer

Frank Beyer's character finds that his father's obsession with breeding show dogs has gone too far, and he must take drastic action.

The ambulance arrived five minutes after I made the emergency call. The paramedics put a brace on Dad's neck. They got him on a stretcher, out the gate and into the back of the ambulance. Dad's eyes were open, but he didn't say anything. He was getting too old for this kind of carry on. Or maybe he was too young? He was years off being frail. One of his dogs had knocked him over and he'd bumped his head on the concrete path in the garden. The paramedic who rode with us in the back, a well-built Samoan guy, told us that he had a naughty dog too. Dad managed a smile. I couldn't, I felt bloody sick that one of Dad's dogs had caused trouble again.

As a precaution Dad was kept in overnight. I went back to the hospital straight after work the next day. A doctor wanted to see me. He was tall and broad-shouldered, the kind you expect to be supremely confident. A man of thirty with two kids, still managing to fit in club rugby on Saturdays. But this guy was tentative, embarrassed even. He spoke so quietly I didn't catch all of what he said: The blow to your father's head caused a minor concussion... few things were amiss... sweating profusely and pacing the ward last night... kept complaining that the sheets were giving him a skin rash there was no visible sign of... not symptoms of concussion. And then he said this: Did you know your father had a problem with amphetamines? Bloody hell no. I thought dexies were for dickheads down at the pub not somebody like Dad. The doctor outlined the steps for me to help the Old Man through. I had to get in touch with his GP as soon as possible, fill out such and such... I didn't really listen, dreading the forms and appointments.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Case of Stagger-Lee by David W Landrum

David W Landrum transports Sherlock Holmes to the swinging scene of 1960s London in a case narrated by his new assistant, Dr. Ophelia Turnberg.

Sherlock Holmes Case #1, 1966

Narrated by his assistant, Dr. Ophelia Turnberg

You heard the music everywhere you went back in those days. Almost everyone under the age of twenty-five carried those small, portable transistor radios, so you heard the music in parks and out on the street. Restaurants and stores played it. As I sat down to keep my dinner date with Holmes, I heard a song I had heard a lot lately - one of the "top 40 hits" as they were called - playing over speakers in the restaurant.

There've been so many girls I have known

I've made so many cry and still I wonder why

It was "Heart of Stone" by the Rolling Stones. While I wondered if I was becoming a fan of popular music, Holmes walked into the restaurant. Before he sat down in the booth he looked at me and said what I knew he would say.

"You too, Dr. Turnberg?"

I had worn a minidress that morning - white with black stripes. I shifted nervously in my seat.

Monday, September 18, 2017

In Father's Eyes by John Mullen

John Mullen's Irish tale steeped in poetry, religion, and the guilt of a son's betrayal.

They needed an extra bearer on each side of Father's coffin to hoist him onto his funereal bier, later to ease him into his Irish soil. The morning sparkled with a gusty wind that sent dry air in great circles, rousing and mingling the smells of laden sheep with the lush grasses blanketing the hillsides. Mum and I stood in front, our backs to the others sitting in rented plastic chairs. Her arm pulled mine tightly against her; I in navy suit with white shirt and gray tie, she in the long-sleeved black dress that had adorned her on occasions of death as far back as I had memory.

I leaned to whisper, "Why did the monk Seamus do the church service? Why not Father Keely?"

She said, "Mary Healy told me he went down to the Garda. They arrested him."

I said, "Arrested?"

Mother whispered, "No one knows why."

But I knew all too well.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Uncle Harry by Michael Stewart

When Michael travels to visit family, Uncle Harry picks him up from the airport and takes him on a wild trip down memory lane; by Michael Stewart.

My uncle Harry was bigger than life. I expected him to roll up in a Lamborghini this time or a chauffeured stretch limo or even a fire truck with sirens blaring. It wouldn't have been out of character for him. But as it was, this foggy evening, he drove a classic '73 Corvette with a paint job that changed colors like a chameleon under the florescent lights. He beeped his horn twice and swung in front of me, popping the trunk.

"Hey, Michael," he said, rising out of the driver's door, thick black hair blowing in the wind as he rushed around the car. Overcoat flapping.

Cars drove by and others pulled alongside to pick up passengers. People bustled by pulling baggage behind and porters helped them. A plane flew overhead and the tumult was lost in the roar.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Journey Begun In Lovers Meeting By JC Freeman

JC Freeman tells a gentle ghost story set in the ancient New Town Cemetery outside Charleston, South Carolina.

Sunrise comes late to New Town Cemetery. The graveyard is seated in the west face of Torqwamni Hill, and no matter the season the quick fall of the slope and a thick line of adolescent Douglas firs at hillcrest combine to delay the cemetery dawn by a hundred yards or so. New Town's a pretty place; the winding paths are lined with fragrant, non-fruiting cherries and delicate Japanese maples; on clear days the Olympic Mountains fill the western horizon with their beautiful yet icy indifference, and there're an abundance of old fashioned, winter-weary tombstones just begging to be charcoal-etched by artists and the sentimental at heart. A handmade wood sign attached to the main gate informs would-be visitors that the cemetery is open from dawn to dusk. It's been observed by the wise that dusk almost always finds its way to New Town just before the start of Happy Hour at the nearby White Pig Tavern.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Pretty People by Dakota James

When Dakota James's character loses weight he becomes so attractive he's invited to join the secret cabal of pretty people.

The following story is an excerpt from Dr. Robicheaux's CABRET AWARD WINNING book, The Pretty People: Psychoses Behind the Masks and Mascara. The interviewee in this excerpt asked to remain anonymous; with the exceptions of certain names, nothing from this interview has been edited, removed, or added for publication.

It always confused me to see attractive people do bad things. They could've gone through life with such relative ease, I thought. But that wasn't true, exactly; pretty people have their own set of issues. For example, one day, thinking it over, I realized I didn't know a single sane attractive person. They'd all lost their fucking minds.

No one likes to think of themselves as ugly. I'm no different. But I was a bigger boy than most and then a bigger man than some, so I wasn't exactly sexy. Not by traditional standards.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Song of Black Bear Mountain by Sharon Frame Gay

Bitsy, a traditional healer in the remote mountains of Kentucky, feels threatened when a new, educated doctor arrives; by Sharon Frame Gay.

Bitsy sat on the porch, smoking a pipe after a long afternoon traveling the hills. The sun had melted behind a Loblolly pine, the sweet after-smoke of day stirring up gnats in the woods. Before long, fireflies attended the dance, lighting up in a fever, seeking mates in the coming darkness. Down below near the shed, the horse and mule snorted, tuckered out and set in for the night with a coffee can full of molasses bran, and a whisky barrel of spring water.

For most of her life, Bitsy was the closest thing to a doctor on Black Bear Mountain. She learned her craft from the old ones, how to use herbs for teas and poultices that ease the breathing of a small child, or calm the heart of an ancient woman. She learned how to apply honey to scrapes and burns, the natural antibiotic soothing and sucking all the bad out of the cut. And Bitsy knew when to say goodbye to a soul, watching it drift out of the body like mist over the valley, until the eyes looked skyward and met tomorrow. She helped bury many a person here in the hills, digging into the Kentucky clay with a shovel alongside the family, a ritual, the blade cutting into the dirt with a sorry thump, and the rhythm of the bereaved swinging the shovels in cadence as it rang through the trees.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Front Centre Stage by Don Herald

Out of the blue, Don Herald's character decides to turn his hand to acting. How hard can it be?

My wife peered over the rim of her morning coffee. "But you've never acted before. Ever."

"How hard can it really be?" I replied. "I'm going to audition this coming Sunday for a part in that upcoming community theatre production. I think it's called 'Crystal Palace' or whatever."

She set down her mug, smiled a bit like the Mona Lisa and went out to the kitchen to feed the dog.

We never talked about it again.

On Sunday afternoon, I turned up at the audition with other aspiring actors - two teens and thirteen adults of all ages. There was an anticipatory buzz of energy flitting unseen about the room.