Back to the days of the genteel crime - Editor
by Norman A. Rubin
Madame Edythe Picardy was greatly respected by all the staff at the Clermont Spa. The manager of the watering place bowed and scraped as he attended to the bejewelled widow and saw to her comfort. When she arrived for dinner the headwaiter rushed to arrange her seat; the wine waiter was near at hand to pour her favorite red wine from the wineries of Verien of Gascony.
Royalty from princes to counts, all in reduced circumstances, held Madame Edythe Picardy in great regard; the philanders admired her collection of baubles as they complimented her; impoverished artists who spent their last franc to come to the spa looked towards this charming woman as a patron to their talents.
Yet, their advances did not captivate Madame Edythe Picardy, as she was still mourning for her wealthy husband, a Monsieur Albert Picardy, albeit his demise was in the past year. The devotees respected her grief and they worded their phrases carefully when they paid their complimentary attention.
You can feel the power - Editor
by Billy Wong
Colin drew his cloak tight about his body as he stepped out of Warren's empty tent into the cold night air, eyes wandering in search of his commander and friend. The warrior stood at the edge of the camp, facing the great walled city of Gustrone. Though his back was turned, there was no mistaking his singular poise and armored frame. Colin didn't understand why the man wore armor now, though he almost always did. The weight of that iron plate must have been tiring, but Warren showed no sign of it.
Without turning, he acknowledged Colin's approach. "Can't sleep, even after battle? Is the joy of victory so invigorating?"
He shrugged. "Maybe I've learned not to need sleep, like you." Colin was sure Warren slept at some point, but he had never actually seen him doing it, and nor did hunger or thirst hamper him as much as other men. "Anyway, I'm leaving tomorrow."
"Oh? You're not going to stay and celebrate our victory with me? Now that we've defeated the dukes, the people will have no choice but to accept me as king."
"I'll be back. I'm just going to take Rhona home. You know the battlefield's no place for her."
Warren exhaled, a mist dancing from his lips. "I don't understand you, Colin. That little hellcat matches the best of us in killing every day, and now you say she can't fight?"
by Elizabeth Creith
Hazel held a forked willow stick out in front of her by the ends. Ten-year-old Molly trailed her aunt across the field, their steps swishing in yellowing knee-high grass. The stick quivered, then twisted like a cat, reaching for the ground.
"This is for show, mind," Hazel said. "Folk like to see something happening, something to tell them you've done it. But you don't need the stick, understand?"
Molly nodded, looking up into Aunt Hazel's face. Wisps of fair hair escaped from Hazel's braid and caught the light of the full harvest moon in the darkening sky. If Molly stood in just the right place, she could make the moon into a halo around her aunt's head.
The moonlight was dazzling-bright, bright enough to cast shadows. When Molly shaded her eyes, she could see her aunt smiling, her one crooked front tooth and the sweet, clear blue eyes. Molly's mama had those eyes, too, but Molly's eyes and hair were brown, like her father's.
All Silent on the Flint
...the sounds of silence - Editor
All Silent on the Flint
by John P. Wilson
It was an early, frozen morning during the month of December when Sheriff Jones climbed into the boat, lit a cigarette and wondered where the dead girl was hiding. He stared silently at the blood sky and dark clouds. Bats screeched as they glided over the river bank, disappearing beyond the pine trees.
A thick mist engulfed the Flint River, and he listened to the lapping waves softly slapping the launch ramp. It was a cold, bitter morning, and cigarette smoke stung his eyes as he observed his surroundings. The camp ground was empty.
“Bobby!” he said. “Go ahead and back her in the water.”
Deputy Bobby stuck a fist out the pickup’s window and gave the sheriff a thumb’s up. The truck backed down the ramp until its rear tires were at the edge of the river and the boat trailer was halfway submerged in water.
“Keep going!” Sheriff Jones said.
If you've ever loved a dog... - Editor
by John F.D. Taff
The first time I saw him he was all motion and energy, pushing over his littermates, straining to get to me, to be taken with me.
To be with me…
The last time I saw him he lay motionless, a pool of dark water in the middle of the country road that runs in front of my house.
Only it wasn’t the last time…not really.
I’d gone in for a second, just a second, to pee while I let him out to do the same. I was late getting home from work, and I knew he’d be anxious to get outside. It was dark, no moon, and he was a small, black pug. But I wasn’t worried, never gave it a thought. The road, a narrow, gravel thing, heavily cratered and barely graded, was little used. I live on, if you’ll excuse me, a dead end. The few people who actually use it are those few who actually live on it, and there aren’t many of us. Traffic wasn’t a concern.
For One Night Only
Hospitals can be wonderful, or horrible - Editor
For One Night Only
by James A. Stewart
I listen to the beep-beep-beep of the monitors, their constant metronome giving comfort to those wearing the plethora of wires and straps that reach out from the tooting sentinel next to their bed. I don’t want to be here. But I am.
Laughter rises from the room next door: a family happy at grandpa’s recovery? Perhaps. I wish them ill, for their joy is in contrast to my anguish. There will be no recovery in this room; the odours of urine and disinfectant mix to give this sterile cubby-hole the stench of near death. The wilting flowers only add to the bleakness of the surroundings. I bat them away with my hand and they drop to the floor with nil ceremony. They’re lifeless. I look at them lying with pathetic limpness on the floor and give an ironic laugh. The snort causes me to gag and I retch up putrid bile. It burns the back of my throat and leaves behind the tang of a hundred hangovers.
Peace on Earth
This is certainly a story about crime, but not the kind you might think - Editor
Peace on Earth
by Keith G. Laufenberg
Be proud of those strong sons of thine
Who wretched their rights from thee!
—Tennyson, England and America in 1782.
The father swung his arm around his son’s shoulder and told him that he would take him inside the pub and introduce him to his first pint. The son blanched sharply—he wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, much less to take what his father thought was his first drink. For, Samuel Dewey Baldwin had been introduced to drink in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, when he was but a lad of thirteen, as it wasn’t hard to get a drink in Baltimore in 1910. And now, in 1914, in London, England, where they had gone to visit his father’s family, his father was about to officially introduce him to his first pint. It was the first day of August and the hot noonday sun had burned the morning fog almost completely away. Sammy Baldwin with his American accent was hailed as a Yank but was having a hard time understanding the strange accents and phrases everyone so quickly spat out, in Great Britain.
The Couch Troll
This story will give you pause the next time you see an abondoned sofa on a curb - Editor
The Couch Troll
by Jeanna Tendean
The old man coughed and wheezed. His bones ached as he slowly climbed out of the flea-ridden, tattered bed. He hobbled into the living room, while holding his aching back. He moaned aloud, causing his dog, a shepherd-collie mix, to tweak his ears, but nothing more. “Ya lazy mutt.” The old man griped as he made his way to the beer and cigarette stained lazy boy. The wooden skeleton of the chair bulged through the trodden cotton, allowing the old man sturdy support as he eased down. He still couldn’t believe someone would throw out a good chair like this. Sure, it had its share of burns and a few stains, and if he wasn’t careful, he’d snag his pants or scratch himself on a few unruly wires or splinters snaking out, but other than that the chair was in great condition.