Monthly Archives: May 2007

Open House by Patricia Abbott

It began at the Bristol’s Open House. She rounded a corner and found him in the bedroom rummaging through the drawer, his hands lost in a mélange of brightly colored silk. Sensing her presence, he quickly elbowed the drawer shut. It was a slick, practiced move, neatly executed, and she wondered if he often found himself in such a situation. Perhaps he was a burglar, or someone a bit off, the sort of person who liked to fondle a stranger’s under things. He was what she’d been looking for without knowing it.  

“Are you the agent?” He was examining her rather openly through Mrs. Bristol’s ivory hand mirror, a glint of approval in his eyes. He was definitely her type. 

Did she really look like a realtor though: women who wore brightly colored suits and too much makeup, perhaps a faux jeweled broach on the lapel? She shook her head. ”Just window-shopping on a rainy Sunday.” She sat down on the Danish king, wrinkling the Moroccan duvet, and slid her heels off, emitting the slight sigh that always accompanied the removal of heels. She liked how her legs looked but lacked the stamina for wearing them.  

“Anyone downstairs?” he suddenly asked, gesturing with his head. “Besides the realtor, that is.” He sat down on the opposite side of the bed, slipped off his shoes, and quickly stretched out, testing the mattress with a light bounce.  

“No.” They looked at each other from a forearm’s distance. He looked pale, almost indistinct; she had a small mole on the side of her mouth. “The realtor’s attached to her cell.” She looked toward the sky-light. “No one will come out here in all this rain.”  

They looked up together as water flooded over them in sweeping dark waves. He winced. “The Bristol’s need a new mattress. Do they number coils the way they do vertebrae? I detect a definite break in number 8.” 

She smiled. “The room has nice proportions though. I’d give anything for such closet space.” 

“Women always notice things like that.”  

“And men always mention copper pipes and the dimensions of the garage.” 

“Size matters.” 

“Or so you say now.” And then she stopped talking and let the mood overtake her.  

She was up and put together when the realtor poked her head in. “Finding everything okay?” 

“It’s a terrific house,” she said, running a hand through her still-tousled hair. “Lots of closet space.” 

“Women always notice that,” the realtor agreed. “Shall I show you the kitchen?” 

They met often after that. She’d find the local paper stuffed in her mailbox, a Sunday open house circled in red marker. Sometimes there were too many people about, but often there was the empty room. She sought the swoon, the caresses he offered. She had been searching for this feeling forever: her hands opening drawer after drawer and finding nothing. Until now.  

They found her body at the Bristol’s second open house in May. ”Have you ever seen her before?” the detective asked.  

The realtor, in her canary-yellow suit, blinked nervously and nodded, her eyeliner caked from tears. “It was always a little eerie finding her in their bedrooms. All the realtors knew about her—joked about it.” 

“Ever see anyone with her? Anyone following her perhaps?” 

“Not once.” 

“She must have taken pills,” he observed. An empty plastic bottle lay on its side on the bureau.  

“I wonder if that’s what she was always looking for. Pills. Sometimes I’d come in on her going through their drawers. I shouldn’t have allowed it, but she seemed harmless. Never took anything. What could someone that old be up to?” She shook her head.  

“She must be seventy.” He corrected himself. “Have been seventy.” 

“At least.” 

Together, they looked at the pair of heels lying next to the bed: five inch spikes, blood red. It was hard to believe her feet, so swollen from pills, or old age, or death, could fit into such things. She should have been wearing something more suitable, something that didn’t give her ideas.  

Patricia Abbott lives and works in Detroit.

Dollar Lake by John McAuley

The water on Dollar Lake was flat and dark as I stared out at it through our trailer window.We’d planned on living in the trailer until we could build a house on the west side of our beachfront lot.

But it’ll never get built.  And neither of us will see a dime when our assets are split up.

The moon eclipsed by a cloud…Shelley on the floor; missing her front teeth and the back of her head…

The dispatcher called me on my walkie-talkie. Multiple calls about shots fired in the area of Fenton Road and Dollar Lake.

I took a last look at the water.

Pick a Pig Night by Julie Wright

Ethan Dobson woke up with a start, tried to work out where the fuck he was. His head was banging and his mouth tasted of fags and stale lager. He was in bed, alone, in a strange room. When he tried to stand, the room pirouetted and his stomach lurched dangerously. Fuck it. He lay back down. 

Things started coming back to him. The Blue Bell with Mark and Jimmy, down the road to Kebab Korner, then on to Mirabelle, stuffing their faces with pitas packed full of elephant’s leg meat and chili sauce, trying not to get grease on their clothes as they went. Mirabelle: north east
England’s premier night spot. Back in the 1950s. Maybe. Christ, it was a hole! But that was all part of its attraction. The clientele made it the perfect place for the first Friday after pay day: pick a pig night.
 

 He’d copped off with a beauty this time. Even with his beer goggles on, this lass had a snout and trotters. Should be a law against birds that plug. Fucking ugly bitch. Speaking of which, where was she? He took it slow this time, managed to get onto his feet. The landing light was on and he moved slowly toward the door. It stood ajar and, as he got close, he could hear her talking quietly. Sounded like she was on the phone to one of her mates. 

 ‘No, man, he’s still here! He’s upstairs.’ She giggled. ‘Aye, we did it, like.’ 

 Bragging about him! If only she knew. Mind, he was probably the best thing to happen to her in a long while. 

 ‘What about yours? Mark, was it?’ 

 Ethan had Mark beat. The bird he’d pulled looked like a bulldog chewing a wasp, but she was pretty compared to the pig he’d just porked. 

 ‘Couldn’t get it up? Typical!’ 

 Ethan was surprised; the lass wasn’t all that bad, not for pick a pig night. Must have been the beer. 

‘Tracey’s one managed it. Jimmy, they call him.’ She paused. ‘I know, he’s not that ugly. Mebbe she just fancied him, eh?’ 

 Ethan didn’t understand that one. He scratched his balls while he tried to puzzle it out. 

 ‘Well, it was a toss up between my one and your one, but if yours couldn’t manage it…. You know the rules!’ 

 Ethan took pride in the fact that he could always manage it, no matter how pissed he was or ugly a bird was. Christ, he’d boned some hounds, but you didn’t look at the fireplace while you were poking the fire. 

She laughed. ‘That’s one to me, then. About time an’ all. It’s ages since I won a pick a pig night!’ 

How the hell did she know? 

‘Ta-ra, Shaz. See you later.’ 

She came back upstairs. Fuck was her name? Ethan racked his brains but came up empty. 

 ‘Oh, you’re up!’ 

 Christ, she was rough looking! But still, a shag was a shag. 

 ‘Aye,’ Ethan told her. ‘Every time for you, pet.’ He reached out towards her and she ducked away. 

 ‘Cup of tea? I’ll go and put the kettle on.’ 

He ferreted about on the floor for his skiddies and his t-shirt. Must want a cup of tea first. Oh, well, he could wait. Cup of tea wouldn’t hurt. He padded down to the kitchen and heard her mobile ring. 

‘Oh, hiya, Tracey. Aye, I’m just making him a cup of tea.’ She laughed. ‘Oh, he’s keen, like, but once is more than enough with a lad like him.’ 

 Ethan preened. 

 ‘And I won pick a pig! See you later.’ 

Ethan lounged in the doorway. ‘How did you know?’ he asked. 

 ‘Know what?’ 

 ‘Pick a pig….’ 

She shook her head, picked up a mug. ‘Milk and sugar?’ 

 ‘Aye, thanks, pet.’ He sat down at the table and drank his tea. One of his mates must have coughed to one of her mates. How else would she know about pick a pig night?

 

Bio: Julie Wright lives by the seaside in the north east of England and hangs out on Crimespace http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/Julielew when she’s supposed to be working.

Filo County by Karyn Powers

Eliza knew she was skinny. Her mama used to tell her, “Girl, you just a slip cover for your bones. I swear you the only girl in Filo County who could come late to Easter Service and just pick up someone’s bible if you needs a place to sit.”

 

Filo County, Nebraska, was a place so flat that the souvenir post cards at Alston’s Drug Store appeared to be empty frames. On a good day Daddy said you could see tomorrow com’n. Eliza guessed tomorrow wasn’t much to look at.

 

The day she crossed over the county line, Eliza was as angry as the fresh welt rising under her left eye. She readied a good spit but then decided she’d already given the place enough of herself and swallowed it back inside.

 

     “Good bye, Filo County. I hope the winds and the rain take the summer off so’s that you crack and peal til there ain’t noth’n show’n here, but the rafters of hell.”

 

 

Karyn Powers

Writes poetry, for trade mags and all forms of

fiction (from Flash to tax returns,)

Lives in Northern Wisconsin w/

husband , Patrick & two labs.

A Quibbling Matter by Sandra Seamans

“Don’t you think you might be over planning this job, Charlie?” said Stella.

“That’s got to be the stupidest question that’s ever crossed your lips, woman, and I’ve heard a lot of them over the years. How many times do I have to explain this to you? The more you go over a plan, the less likely something’s gonna go wrong. Maybe if I talked slower it might sink into that pea brain of yours easier.”

“But, Charlie, there’s no way you can be prepared for everything. What if you were to plow into the back of a school bus on the way to the bank? And maybe one of the kids climbs into our car and finds the guns in the back seat? That kid could shoot someone and the cops would blame us. Or what if we followed your plan exactly, got the money, and some off duty cop comes walking in the door just as we’re running out. What do think he’s gonna do? Hold the door open for us?”

“You’re the naggingist wife I know. You’re always thinking about what could go wrong. You gotta think positive. We’ve been robbing banks all our married life. We’ve only been caught twice out of three tries. The odds are in our favor for this job.”

“One out of three and the odds are in our favor? Thank God you’re not a gambling man. You’ve got a good plan this time, Charlie, but I still think you need to leave some room for the possibility that something could go wrong. If you don’t look past the plan, you won’t be able to think on your feet.”

“My feet don’t need to do any thinking. That’s what my brains are for. Trust me,” said Charlie. “Nothing can go wrong.”

Charging into the bank wielding their shotguns, they were brought up short by a pair of bank robbers already at work. Charlie and Stella grabbed a piece of the floor when the cops came SWAT teaming into the bank behind them.

“Yep,” said Stella as the cops cuffed her. “That was one hell of a fool-proof plan, good thing the odds were in our favor.”

“Nag, nag, nag. Don’t you ever get tired of being right, woman?”

Living in Sin by Bryon Quertermous

“You can’t tell my mother,” he said. “With all of the things you’ve done in your life, this is what you want to hide from your mother?” She asked. 

“I don’t want to deal with the shit if she finds out. Things are just starting to—“ 

“You kill people for a living. The last guy you hit was a father of three.” 

“It’s different. Those are macro level things. That stuff doesn’t affect my day-to-day operation.” 

“It sure as hell affected his day-to-day operation.” 

“You’re a whore,” he said. 

“So tell your mom that.” 

“I’m not going to try and explain the inner workings of my mothers brain for you. Neither of us are angels, we know that, she knows that. But this is something she can wrap her brain around and its something she would jump on to make my life hell.” 

“You. Kill. People…for a living.” 

He groaned and pressed his palms against his head to keep it from exploding. 

“It’s the little things that make people go crazy in life. Nobody can really comprehend that hitmen exist in real life. Nobody’s ever met one that they know of, and it’s an easy thing to blow off as exaggerated if you actually tell someone the truth.” 

“But living with a women—“ 

“Her religion is very important to her, and so is the opinion her church friends have of me.” 

“They don’t mind that you’re a killer, just that you don’t live with me?” 

“They don’t know that I’m a killer. And even if they did, they wouldn’t let themselves believe it.” 

“This is bullshit,” she said. 

“I’m not saying it isn’t. Why can’t you do this for me?” 

“Alright, I’ll make it easy for you. Marry me.” 

“Marry you?” 

“Tonight. We’re in Vegas, I can grab a couple cocktail waitresses for bridesmaids.” 

“You don’t want to get married.” 

“I don’t want to hide our relationship from your mother.” 

“You hide your profession from my mother. And does your mom know what I do for a living?” 

“My mom is too doped up to know what she does for a living. But this is about us.” 

“I don’t want to talk about this right now,” he said. “And I don’t want to get married. I’ve got work to do.” 

“If you aren’t going to tell her, then I will.” 

“Why?” 

“I want to be close to someone’s mother and it’s not going to be my own.” 

“You’re being a bitch.” 

“You’re being an asshole.” 

He was sick of arguing, so he went to the bathroom, grabbed the pistol from behind the toilet, and shot her twice in the mouth and once in the heart. 

“You just don’t get it,” he said.

Bryon Quertermous set this site up with very selfish ambitions. Read the rest of his narcissistic ramblings at http://bryonquertermous.blogspot.com

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Alan Peden

Fate. Sometimes you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happens every day in life. You decide to take the later train and it jumps the rails and the next thing, you’re wife gets asked to come down to the morgue to identify your body.

Or you pop out late at night, just down to the 7-Eleven to pick up a six-pack and the guy who just got fired from his job is in there too, only he’s in there with a .38 and an attitude. You hold your hands up just like he says, but he’s not having any witnesses left to put him away. So he pulls the trigger and gets lucky with a head shot after taking down the cashier.

Fate can step out of the bushes and ruin the rest of your life with a flash of steel, or it can play around with the brakes on the tractor-trailer sitting behind you on the Thruway just as the traffic starts to back up.

Liam O’Neil didn’t believe in fate.

Things happened to people because he made them happen. Pure and simple.

* * *

Eve Lennon had two hours and twenty-eight minutes left to live. She had entered the crossroads in her life two weeks ago, and fate had dealt a hand for her. If she had left her office five minutes earlier, she would have been further along the line in Starbucks. Instead, it took her that little bit longer to get served. Five minutes was all it took. She was looking at her watch when she walked out the door and bumped into Liam O’Neil.

It wasn’t fate that led him there that day. He was hunting. And he found his quarry. She apologized. He smiled.

Eve was going to die tonight because of attention to detail, meticulous planning and Liam’s ability to do the job with the minimum of fuss. Nothing to do with fate. She was dead whether she had chosen to drive the Lexus to work or had hopped on the Metro-North Railroad.

* * *

 

He lived in an abandoned house in the woods. It was more of a cabin really, but the track leading to it was overgrown. Nobody had been there in years.

He didn’t bring them in here. He would let them go, then shoot them in the woods. Then hang them up on the frame he used to cut up the deer, then he’d open them up and let what blood was left, drain out. Then he’d place them to be found in the city.

He wanted to get some more practice in before going to abduct Eve.

He put on his camouflage outfit and went into the woods to practice his hunting skills.

* * *

The shot rang out, loud in the quiet of the woods. The bullet found it’s mark. The stamp of running feet on the forest floor. Hands swiping branches out of the way.

This was what it was all about. The hunt. The kill. The feeling of victory.

‘Holy shit,’ Ray said, stopping dead in his tracks.

‘Mother of God,’ Jack said, stopping beside Ray. He took his cell phone out.

Ray put a hand on his arm. ‘This isn’t hunting season, friend: we call this in, we go to jail.’

‘What do we do now?’

‘Let’s take him further into the woods. He won’t be found for a long time. By then, we’ll be long gone.’

They each grabbed an end of Liam O’Neil and lifted him further into the density of the trees. The shot had been a good one, right in the head, and if it had been a deer like he thought, Ray would have been proud.

Liam O’Neil didn’t believe in fate. He would have thought that two hunters out shooting at exactly the same time he was honing his skills was mere coincidence.

Eve Lennon locked the back door to her office and opened the door to her Lexus. Looked at her watch. She had thirty-two years left to live.

Alan is Scottish but lives in New York State. He’s currently working on a crime novel. He has a story coming out in the Summer edition of Demolition magazine