Monday, October 31, 2016

A short-short story for Halloween

The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure

“There are thirteen of you tonight. Tomorrow, when you wake up, one will be gone.” I paused and panned the open-eyed faces of the boys sitting around the campfire cross-legged, Indian style. “Thanks to Camp Halloween Adventure’s resident ghost.”

“Sure,” the chubbiest one said. “Like there’s such a thing as ghosts.” He snorted in disdain.

“It’s true,” another one said. “My friend told me about it. He was here last year.”

“So I guess you didn’t believe him. . .since you’re here,” chubby said.

I know I’m not supposed to use words like chubby, but if I didn’t one would assume I like kids. I don’t. I like their parents’ money.

“It’s my mother who doesn’t believe in ghosts,” the boy said, wiping sweaty palms on his jeans.

“Well,” I interjected. “We’ll all find out in the morning—won’t we?” They looked at each other, most unsure what to think. “It’s too bad, too, since tomorrow is the day you get to go rafting and zip lining, and maybe rock-wall climbing, if you’re not too tired.”

“But it’ll be cold.” Guess who. “And we’re not strong enough or old enough to go rafting.” Chubby looked at the others. “We’re only ten.” He paused again to survey his fellow campers’ faces. “And we could drown,” he said, looking at me.

The others nodded and made various sounds of agreement.

I held up my hand, as if taking an oath. “We’ve been running this camp for years.” I smiled reassuringly. At least, it was meant to be reassuring. “We know what we’re doing.” The boys glanced at each other, their necks on ball bearing swivels.

“Anyway, you have to worry about our ghost first. He’s in one of you right now.” They gasped in unison. “That’s right. He always inhabits one camper’s body.” I looked at Chubby. “Usually the one who complains the most.”

Chubby peered at me across the campfire, his eyes two slits, the rising heat augmenting their meaning. “You’re full of sh—.”

“Ah, ah.” I wagged a finger. “Remember, only nice words at Camp Halloween Adventure. You read the rules with your parents like instructed, didn’t you?

Chubby closed his mouth.

“Anyway, our ghost reads the inhabited camper’s mind to find out which one of the others he likes the least.” I scanned the group, pausing to look each one in the eyes. “That’s the one who turns up missing in the morning.”

Chubby said, “You’re so full of it.” He pushed himself off the ground and walked away.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait until morning to find out.” I stood. “Of course, the ghost can only take one of you away if you’re all asleep.”

The remaining campers huddled together, whispering to each other, while I went to get rid of Chubby. Little did he know he’d picked himself to be sent home early. No harm would come to him. He’d simply stop being a pain in my ass.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How to Stop a Thief

First published at

“I don’t want to scare you, sir,” Frank said as he continued to clip his customer’s hair, “but we’re about to be robbed.”

“Say what?” The man leaned forward and put his feet on the floor.

“Wait. It’s okay,” Frank said putting a hand on the man’s shoulder and nudging him back into the chair. “Nothing’s going happen to you.” Frank continued with the haircut. “It’s just Billy Jacobsen. He’s got a little circuit of small businesses he robs once every two to three months, sometimes more often around Christmas.”

“Why don’t you turn him into the police?”

“Oh, he’s harmless. Not quite all there, if you know what I mean.” Frank picked up the clippers and began cleaning up the back of the man’s neck. “We all know his schedule, so we make sure we have some extra money on hand. That way, he and his dog don’t starve.”

“What about his parents?” the customer asked.

“They passed in a car accident. Another stupid drunk driver.”

“Ouch.” The man flinched, wondering if the clipper had drawn blood.

“Sorry about that,” Frank said. “I get kind of riled up on that topic.”

“Yeah, well let’s not talk about it anymore.”

“Hey, let’s have some fun with Billy,” Frank said, winking into the mirror. “I’ll be right back.”


Billy lowered the ski mask over his face and patted his pants pocket. Satisfied the knife was still there, he opened the door, stood tall, and said, “This is a stick…Jesus, man, what are you doin’?”

“What are you talking about?” Frank said.

“You ain’t got no pants on,” Billy said.

“Oh, that,” Frank replied, “It’s No Pants Day.”

“It’s what?” Billy said.

“No Pants Day.” Frank stepped away from the chair and turned to give Billy a full frontal view. “People go to work without pants.”

“But. . .I mean…you ain’t wearin’ no underwear.” Billy reached back for the door. This guy was obviously crazy. He hadn’t noticed that the previous times he’d been in.

“Hey, no pants means no pants. I don’t make the rules.”

“I think you’re still supposed to wear underwear,” the customer said under his breath.

Frank gently cuffed the man in the back of the head.

“What he said,” Billy replied, pointing at the customer.

“All right. I’ll put them back on. Boy, you guys sure are party poopers.” Frank took a step forward, and Billy retreated closer to the door.

“Hey, what’re you doin’?” Billy said.

“My pants are on the chair behind you.”

Billy glanced to his right and saw a pair of khakis draped over the back of the chair. “You wait ‘til I’m outta here. You hear me? Then you can get your pants.” Billy backed out the door. “Crazy old coot,” he muttered.

“Wait,” Frank said. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled two twenties out. “Don’t you want your money?”

Billy paused. Thought about what to do. Finally, stepped onto the sidewalk. “No way man. I don’t know where that money’s been. You keep it.” He let go of the door and jogged down the street.

“He’s right, you know,” the customer said. “You are crazy.”