Monthly Archives: June 2007

Perfection by Sandra Seamans

Pip knelt down in the darkness, watching for the woman who lived on the other side of the white picket fence. The woman’s name was Sylvia and she was the embodiment of perfection.

How Pip envied her. The perfectly colored skin, silky blonde hair that swished around her waist when she moved and not a pound out of place on her perfectly toned body. Pip felt like a fat frump whenever she saw Sylvia, hating the roundness of her own face and body, the kink of her black hair. Sylvia was everything Pip wanted to be and could never be.

Pip watched Sylvia slip out of the house, night after warm, summery, night. She loved how the moonlight played across the naked curves of Sylvia’s body. How that mass of blond hair shimmered around her body, as if to embrace the purity of Sylvia as she took her midnight swim. Pip glanced at her watch, Sylvia was late tonight.

Pip had heard the screaming, the sound of smashing china, the thud. Sylvia’s husband must have come home. The husband who was on more intimate terms with his frequent flier miles than his wife. He spent his working life checking out exotic locations for his travel agency, returning home to Sylvia after weeks in the perfumed sunshine of far away islands. Places he never took Sylvia. But she only cried when he came home.

Pip watched as Sylvia slipped out of the house, gliding silently across the patio toward the edge of the pool. She watched as Sylvia stripped the designer clothes from her body, her naked perfection drenched in moonlight. Pip sighed at the sight of such celestial beauty. Her sigh turned to screams, as Sylvia put a gun to her head and splattered her brains across the moonlit pool.

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The Celery Conclusion by Rose Contreras

It really wasn’t about the celery, Roger thought as he packed his bags. The celery merely proved his point. She put it in everything, even in the omelets. No matter how many times he asked her to stop using it, she kept on. Celery was the flavor of their life together, and as he packed his bags he saw a celery haze in the air that pervaded their home.
It really was amazing that they lasted as long as they did. Their life together had never really jelled despite seven years of marriage. It was not that they had stopped getting along. They still held the same views about life, money, politics. They were both straightforward people, no nonsense, and cut to the chase. Their life was vastly organized and quite comfortable to any outsider looking in, but even after their orderly marriage, they continued to build their lives apart from each other. Their individual lives had never intertwined, the edges of their being remaining solid and independent, with no blending or blurring of spirit over time. They remained two hard, straight stalks growing upward and never touching in the middle. When Roger contemplated their future together, he saw more of the same. Year upon year of the same life. Growing straight, upright, and apart. Rigid as the celery he hated so much.

Roger waited for a Friday evening to tell her he was moving out. There were never any messes in their life, and it seemed fitting to wrap things up at the end of a week. When he gave her the news he was surprised that she wanted to know why. She wanted a reason and he had difficulty getting the words out. After a very long pause of misty green silence, he plucked an argument out of the air and used the weight of his irritation to sound convincing.
“You put celery in the omelets last Sunday morning, and I realized then that you just don’t care about me and I wonder if you ever did.”
Her face was serene, and she had a tilt to the corner of her mouth that was more of a smile than not. Her calm demeanor irritated him and he was sure he saw a celery green tint to her face, more vivid in her eyes. He must be imagining it.

“I’ve been saying it for seven years how much I hate celery, and you go right on using it. My likes and dislikes just don’t matter to you. I don’t matter to you.” She never flinched, and her voice was even as she explained her rationale.

“Celery lowers the blood pressure Roger. It’s been proven scientifically. It has a chemical called 3nB. The father of a medical student ate a quarter pound of celery a day and his hypertension disappeared.”

“I have no problem with my blood pressure Tina, and neither do you.”
She nodded her head in agreement, and her look turned thoughtful yet distant. He realized she had always been distant, and he had accustomed himself to her crisp rigidity early in their relationship.

” I’m leaving now.” He held his shoulders back resolutely as he turned to leave. He tossed his key on the little entrance way table as he walked quickly to the door. The green mist seemed to fade as he walked closer to the door. He stopped and turned expectantly to face her.

She sounded amused as she spoke. “It really isn’t about the celery, is it Roger?” He knew it was the truth. They would not miss each other, and they would not feel any regret. He stepped out the front door and was immediately invigorated by the sight of the electric blue sky and the warmth of the sunny wind on his face. The celery was a ridiculous conclusion to their relationship, but it was better than none at all.

I am 42, a writer, and a communication specialist. I have been married for 23 years to my high school sweetheart, and I am mom to two wonderful teenagers. I have always loved to write. I am currently working on two books, one nonfiction, working title: Veiled Hearts, and one fiction book tentatively titled The Murder of Saint Charbel. I also expect to graduate in May 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Technical Communication from the University of Texas at San Antonio. You can keep update with my work and me at www.rosecontreras.com.

Old School by Alan Peden

Detective Inspector Frank Miller looked at the knife in the assailant’s hand and thought his whole day was fucked.

‘Put the knife away, Darren.’ Miller kept his eyes on the man, seeing the still form of the cashier lying in the corner. She hadn’t moved since he came in, and Miller hoped she was just unconscious.

‘Shut the fuck up, Miller!’ Darren shouted, lifting the blade. ‘I only allowed you in here because I was getting fucking bored. And because that bitch won’t get up. So don’t push me.’

Miller wished he’d put his name down for the Lothian and Borders Police negotiators course at Tulliallan, their training school.

‘Take it easy, Darren. I’m only here to talk to you, see if we can get this resolved peacefully. There’s no pressure here.’

‘Sure, sure, it’s all fucking talk. Of course there’s pressure here.’

Miller looked around the stock-room, at the cases of booze all stacked up. Cartons of cigarettes had been knocked over in the struggle, presumably when the cashier had fought with Darren.

Her name was Suzanne and she was 23 years old. Not a match for Darren – if that was his real name – who looked to be in his early forties. He was in need of a shave and a haircut.

Miller was standing in his shirtsleeves, rolled up, showing Darren that he wasn’t armed.

‘Do you need anything, Darren? A drink? A smoke, perhaps?’ Christ, Miller felt like a prick when the words came out.

Offer them something to make them comfortable,

the negotiator outside had told him. Let him think you’re his friend. Gain his confidence, but don’t make him think you’re going to try and get the better of him. We have armed response teams for that. ‘Are you trying to be fucking funny, Miller?’ Darren screamed.

Miller wished he smoked, but he didn’t and couldn’t fake it. He was sweating like a bastard now. He kept his hands in view and reached over to a box of Carlsberg Special. He popped the tab and took a swallow. Fucking hell. He passed it over to Darren.

The air was hot in here. There were no windows. There had been years ago, but they’d been boarded up after one too many break-ins. Now there was only a fire door.

Darren threw the can down and the brown liquid rushed out at Miller’s shoes. ‘You think you can make me let her go by giving me a can of Carly Spesh?’

Then Darren did something that took Miller completely by surprise: he laughed. ‘You don’t remember me, do you, Miller?’

Miller edged slightly sideways, trying to get between the girl and Darren. Just like he’d been taught. Darren moved too. Move and counter-move.

‘No, Darren, I don’t remember you. Should I?’

He smiled at Miller. ‘Darren Holmes. 1993. Hibs versus Hearts. I was a casual back then. Loved the fucking fighting, I did. Then some old bastard copper got me round the back of Rose Street Lane, and kicked the shit out of me. A young copper stood and watched. Now it’s payback. It’s why I’m here, why I asked for you.’

Miller remembered now. That’s why they were here; the back of this stock-room opened up into that same lane.

He remembered the old school copper; Bobby something, long-retired, maybe dead now. Bobby had given a man a hiding after he’d caught him. Miller had stood and looked at him, not believing what he was seeing. After watching for a few moments, he ran up to stop it, but the man was unconscious.

‘He fucking fell, okay?’ the old copper said, staring hard at Miller.

Miller had nodded. And now it was back to haunt him.

He looked at the girl. Saw the blood now. No sign of life.

He moved with the stealth of a street fighter, better than Darren ever was. He grabbed the hand holding the knife and head-butted him.

Darren went down hard, his nose broken. He lay unconscious in a heap, and Miller thought he knew how old Bobby felt all those years ago.

Sometimes the old school ways were better after all.

Across the… by John McAuley

The piper played “Dark Island.”  He stood tall on a small hill in the center of the cemetery.

And my mother wept over the death of a man she’d divorced ten years ago.

When the piper played “Amazing Grace,” it made it all right for everybody else to cry.

I remember the first thing me and my father ever agreed on:  ” Them Beatles know how to do a fucking song,” he’d said.

All the way from Glasgow he brought us.

He built trucks here in Flint. Until some fucker had a gun instead of a knife.

Manslaughter is the charge on the bastard.

I gave my nephew Andy the money to pay the bail.  Then I sent Andy back to Scotland.

Now I have a receipt. And an address. And a knife.