Sunday, August 9, 2015

6 more stories by 6 more authors

illustrations by penmarq studios


by nick nelson

gideon was the night manager of an all night takeout restaurant.

sometimes he filled in at one of the chain’s other locations, if the manager there was sick or on vacation.

gideon was not rich, young, or good-looking.

he was not particularly sensitive.

he did not understand women.

he was not a great lover. or much of a lover at all.

his hair wasn’t curly, and his teeth weren’t pearly white.

but he wanted a girl friend.

he sometimes spent as much as an hour a day - two hours on days he did not get much sleep - thinking about having a girl friend.

one night, around four in the morning, he was cleaning up and he found a magazine a customer had left behind.

the back cover of the magazine had an advertisement, in black and white, not very clearly printed, illustrated only with a crude drawing of a young woman’s face.

the advertisement offered - “girl friends - no strings attached - $500 - any race, creed or nationality”.

gideon read the small print. it did not have much to add. except that the girl friends were “guaranteed” for five years - and the customer only had to fill out the form indicating race, creed, nationality and a choice of four age groups - with a total range of 18 years to 80 years - and enclose a check or money order for the $500 and the “guaranteed” girl friend would arrive in three to seven weeks.

gideon stood in the empty restaurant with the magazine in his hand.

it seemed too good to be true. there had to be some kind of gimmick.

outside in the distance a lonesome train whistle blew.



by c c courlander

heath and iris were on their honeymoon.

they were the cutest couple anybody had ever seen.

janice, katherine, lulu, and marcia watched heath and iris from the other side of the coffee shop in the hotel.

they all agreed that they were the cutest, sweetest-looking couple they had ever seen.

“for now,” added janice.

“oh no,“ katherine disagreed. “they are each other’s forever - i can just see it.”

“how long do you give them?” asked lulu.

“get a world almanac,” said marcia. “look up the average time people stay married, and that will be your best bet.”

“that’s an awful thing to say,” katherine protested.

“i give them a lot less than that, “ said lulu. “he’s too cute. he’ll be chasing other women in six months.”

“he’s probably got something on the side right now,” janice added.

“you guys are awful,” katherine responded dutifully.

“i’ll tell you what else,” janice announced. “i bet he ends up murdering her. there is just something about him, pretty as he is.”

katherine just laughed. “you are just trying to yank my chain. you and your predictions.”

“yes, o swami,” lulu asked janice. “what’s the lottery number tonight?”

they had all been keeping their eyes sideways on the young couple while they talked. now they noticed that heath’s voice had risen - they could not actually hear what he said - and his face had turned a little red.

and iris started to cry.

suddenly the waitress appeared.

“are you ladies ready to order?”



by corinne delmonico

imogen was sent home early from school.

she banged the door to her room when she got home.

mom took her time paying attention to her.

“what did you do this time?” she asked when she finally arrived.

“i was in an imbroglio,” imogen answered sulkily.

“an imbroglio! that’s a new one. ha, ha!”

“that’s what ms fisher called it.”

“well at least you learned a new word. who was the imbroglio with?”

“celia collins.”

“you mean that fat girl you and your friends are always picking on? for christ’s sake, can’t you just leave her alone?”

“she’s a loser! she asks for it! and joanie and linda were giving her more grief than i was! and they didn’t get sent home! it’s not fair”

“so how come they sent you home?’

“because blubberbutt decided she wanted to fight me, don’t ask me why.”

“if you just left her alone, you wouldn’t have these tragedies.”

“it’s not fair!”

“well, it’s probably not the most unfair thing that will ever happen to you. i have to get to work. there’s some salad in the refrigerator.”



by roberta mason cleary

jonas was reading the newspaper when laura came down to breakfast.

she looked even more unkempt than she had the morning before, despite the sound beating he had been compelled to administer to her last night.

jonas sighed. he had a dinner to attend that night, so he decided he would let laura’s defiant behavior go until tomorrow at least.

actually, things had gone far enough, and some sort of drastic action on his part would be required.

when he had so much else on his plate.

laura did not sit down, but went over and stood in front of the open window,.

it was a beautiful spring day.

“i’m going to jump out the window,” laura announced.

“yes, of course you are.” jonas did not look up from the paper.

“i mean it this time.”

“i see that some other tinfoil hat organization is calling for the end of fossil fuels.”

“i really mean it.”

“and that somebody with an unpronounceable name has demanded - yet again - that poor old henry kissinger be tried for war crimes.”

“you’ll be sorry when the police get here . and start asking questions.”

“and that miley cyrus has a new haircut.”

“there are no secrets any more,” laura intoned. “everybody gets found out.”

a tiny brown bird landed on the windowsill.

“the price of gold is holding steady.” jonas turned the page of the neatly folded paper with an authoritative snap. “despite the latest warnings of the cassandras.”

“it’s the new age.”

“you are right about that at least. sit down and eat your grapefruit.”



by roy dismas

“kenny, this is bullshit. i thought you outgrew this.”

“dad, i have to follow my dream.”

kenneth sr stared at his laptop where the message from the high school had popped up.

the message that informed him that kenneth jr had submitted on a questionnaire about his career plans that he wanted to be a hired killer. the message took the tone that it was a joke in poor taste but one that they felt had to be reported.

but ken senior knew better. ken junior had been indulging - and talking about - his fantasy since he was in little league.

“we’ve been over this before. even if - if - we space past the legal - and moral - implications of being a hired killer, can i not get it through your head that hit men like you see in the movies and on tv do not exist. they don’t exist any more than zombies or vampires exist.”

“of course they do. and if it's morals you are worried about, i could specialize in killing bad people, like child molesters.”

“i am not saying there are not guys out there who will kill for money and make themselves available to kill for money. to make a little extra money. but there is nobody out there - no independent operators, not soldiers in some mafia - doing it as a full time job - like being a doctor or a lawyer or selling real estate - and making big bucks. think about it. how many people would they have to kill? one a week? one a month? the bodies would pile up pretty quickly. even one a month would add up to more than anything on record.”

“the good ones are too smart to get caught.“

ken senior sighed. he looked out the window at the peaceful suburban night. “and how, i ask you, are you going to break into this lucrative field? put signs up on telephone poles?”

“i’ll figure something out. it’s my dream. you should be supportive of my dream.”

“look - as far as school - or applications for college - can’t you just say something like you want to be a green beret or an army ranger or some shit like that. it’s close enough.”

“i have to be true to my self. i can’t live a lie.”

ken senior rubbed his eyes. i need a drink, he thought. “all right, we’ll talk about this later.”

ken junior got up and left the room. he closed the door quietly behind him.

ken senior got up and went over to the window and looked out.

at least he’s not gay, he thought. and that stuff about killing child molesters - it showed he had a good heart.



by chuck leary

larry lennon was almost fifty years old and nothing very bad had ever happened to him.

probably the worst thing was having to give up smoking when his fellow humans - including his two daughters - became so militantly opposed to it.

larry realized how lucky he was.

i must be the luckiest person who ever lived, he thought as he sat reading in his den one night.

he decided to go for a walk.

he marked his place in the book he was reading - a biography of general george s patton - and put it on the arm of his easy chair.

he went outside. it was a pleasant autumn night.

it would be perfect if i could smoke my pipe, he thought , but you can’t have everything.

he was almost to washington street when he heard a squeal of tires behind him.

“that’s him!” he heard a shout. “that’s the guy!”

five young hoods - mickey, nicky, ozzie, pete, and ronnie - piled out of an open convertible and knocked larry to the sidewalk and started kicking the shit out of him.

they pounded his ass but good!



they gave him what they called “the special” and left him bleeding and half dead on the sidewalk.

“that’s enough!” mickey, the leader, cried. “let’s go!”

pete gave larry one last kick in the ribs and they took off.

when they got back to their hangout at sammy’s pizza they laughed their asses off.

only ronnie wasn’t laughing quite as hard. “are you sure that was the guy?” he asked mickey.

mickey’s mouth was full of thick crust and cheese and pepperoni but nicky answered for him. “sure it was the guy.”

“don’t worry about it,” ozzie added. “it was fun, wasn’t it? that’s what counts.”

“i don’t know,” ronnie answered half-heartedly. “i still think it might not have been the guy.”

“you think too much,” pete told him. “you’ll have a heart attack when you’re twenty-one.”

“but if it wasn’t him, “ ronnie persisted. “that means the real guy is still out there.”

“that’s good,” said mickey, “because then we can find him and have some more fun kicking his ass too.”


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