Wednesday, November 30, 2011

For &*%$ or %^@ Or Worse

"What's with Grandma?" eleven year old Jake asked.

Grandpa Phil rubbed his temple, stalling.

"You know the way she gets when she watches those reality shows since her accident," he replied.

"You mean how her face turns red, and she uses those words I'm not supposed to know."

Grandpa Phil smiled and nodded.

"You bibelot, sere, inchoate, idiot." The shrill words coming from the TV room pierced the wall.

"Is she speaking in a different language?" Jake peeked around the corner and saw Grandma Faith sitting on the edge of the chair, hair falling out of its bun, fists pounding the air.

"I don't think so." Grandpa Phil sat at the dining room table and waved Jake to him. "She's been like this since she got struck by lightning. You remember that happening?"

"She went out to get the mail in a thunder storm." Jake shook his head. "Not a good thing to do."

"That's right." Grandpa Phil tousled Jake's hair. "The doctors don't know what happened, but they think she'll get better." He looked out the window and chewed on his lip. "At least, they hope she will."

"Hey, tenebrous, even Dr. Phil couldn't fix you," Grandma Faith yelled.

"Does she know what those words mean?"

"Probably not."

Jake walked to the doorway, covered his ears, and stuck his head into the TV room.

He turned to Grandpa Phil. "You think it works the other way, too?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, there are a lot adults that don't make any sense when they talk. Maybe if they got hit by lightning, they would?"

Grandpa Phil laughed for the first time since the accident.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


NOTE: Every Sunday, The Flash Factory (a private office at challenges the members to write a 50- or 55-word story using a set of five words. Today's words are in bold.

Seven porcelain caterpillars perched on the oak dresser stared in unison at the lifeless body lying contorted on the bed.

 His client had said to make it quick and painless. One silenced pfft, one bullet to the head. It wasn’t until he pulled the instructions from his pocket he realized he had the wrong address.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


First published at A Twist of Noir (2011) - read editor interview

It's no fun having sex with an alien.

Her name is Jenny. We used to be best friends. We used to be married. Sex used to mean something. Then she changed.

She turned thirty and decided to be somebody else, someone I didn't recognize. She cut her hair short, dyed it red, got a tattoo of a macaw over her left breast, and started talking funny--like she was on drugs. I didn't mind the hair or the language. I hated the damn parrot.

She ran away twice, once with her yoga instructor. I hunted her down and welcomed her back both times. When she tried to leave again . . . I had to stop her.

It wasn't always like this. We met at a college frat party. Jenny's major was art history, mine biology. She acted like she wasn't interested in me, but I knew better. It was during Spring Break in Cancun our junior year when she finally came around. We married that August, ignoring her parents' concerns, and were very happy -- despite not having children. The quack doctor said I was impotent.

Jenny is still the prettiest woman I know. She's lying on the bed, her eyes and mouth open, the look of pain and surprise gone. A sheen of sweat from our lovemaking covers her naked body and glistens in the moonlight coming through the open window, the beacon accompanied by the sounds of the night critters that surround the cabin. Jenny never liked this place. Said she was a city girl and always would be. Guess it doesn't matter now.

The sun will be coming up over the lake in a few minutes. I'll call the police shortly after that, or maybe I'll take a shower first. I'm not going anywhere. Everyone will know I killed her, especially since it's my hunting knife sticking up from between her naked breasts, blood oozing around the blade. I threatened to harm her every time I had too much to drink, which I wouldn't have done if she hadn't turned herself into an alien.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

At Last

The Flash Factory's Sunday 5 to 50/55 prompt words are in bold.

Her final episode of The Mistress at the Bar complete, Dawn exited the hotel with no regrets. It wouldn't take a genius to understand the note saying she was leaving. Her husband would get it. A breeze tickled her cheek as she entered the cab waiting to take her to the airport.

"Where to?"


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Her Friends Didn't Know

Everyone called her Butterscotch because of her orange hair. She was an all-terrain partygoer. Happy was how her friends described her, until she bid them farewell and jumped from the roof. A crowd gathered on the sidewalk, looked at her as if they cared, called her Dead.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Distracted Hostess

*The Flash Factory's Sunday 5 to 50 challenge words in bold.

An anonymous crescendo fills the room as the hostess mingles with the guests. A velvet smile hides her pain. A trial from God, she calls it. She thought she knew her husband, thought he cared about her friends. Nobody’s asked where he is. The police will. Soon. Her smile tightens.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Good Lie

First published at Microstory a Week (2011)

My mother sits across from me, a sliver of white slip visible beneath the hem of her wool skirt. She looks out the window of the single room that’s now her home, a question forming in her mind. It’s the same one she always asks.

My answer is the same each time, too. One she struggles to process, but eventually accepts. I can tell her the truth. She won’t remember what I say any longer than she remembers what she eats for lunch. But I don’t. Ignorance is less painful than truth.

I used to regret lying to my mother. Not anymore. The truth might do more damage, like when she shut down after my older sister, Susan, died. I tell mom the truth about Susan, though. A tumor the doctors found too late is more acceptable to a woman of mom’s upbringing than carbon monoxide poisoning, in Germany, in a car, with a married man, while serving in the army.

“Do you know how Kathryn died?” she asks.

I glance at the picture of my other sister, Kathryn, part of a family montage pinned to a corkboard hanging on the wall.

“No, Mom. They never told us what happened.”

I look her straight in the eye, sincere, remorseless, and thank God she’s the way she is.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It Didn't Last

NOTE: Every Sunday, The Flash Factory (a private office at challenges the members to write a 50- or 55-word story using a set of five words. Today's words were orgy, innocuous, window, river, and tarp. Here's my 50-word story.

It Didn't Last

He thought asking her to the orgy was an innocuous proposal. They’d known each other for six months and had been intimate a number of times. He stood by the window, gazed at the river--the water flowing freely--waiting for her response. She remained under the tarp, warm, safe.