Friday, July 29, 2011

Interlude Stories: Richard Godwin


His charm wasn’t contagious. No vaccines were made against it. He didn’t even know what a Rorschach test was. Dolphins hated him and dreamed of eating him. He tried growing a beard but he looked like a twat. He’d been known to make people throw up just by walking into a room.

Josh Adams started out as a campus rapist. He tied two students to their beds and fucked them with a Dos Equis bottle. He stood in front of the mirror for hours imitating the Dos Equis ads saying over and over ‘I am the most interesting man in the world’. He played the all round good guy in front of his friends and flunked his geography course. Until he found his true career path he’d only ever been interested in geography because he wanted to travel. He’d never left the States, in fact he’d never travelled out of Kansas. When he became a cop he didn’t even own a passport.

He made a lot of arrests and got on the good side of his corrupt racist boss who ignored his misdemeanours and sloppy paperwork. He liked to strip search his female arrests.

One day he was called to the scene of a bank robbery. Two masked men had beaten up the manager. Josh had no interest in catching them and instead looked for records of any recent releases from jail.

He arrested Blake Thomson, one time thief and petty criminal who had got out of jail a few days before. Blake was shopping out of state when the robbery occurred.

‘It’s all in the paperwork,’ Josh said.

Blake gave him the receipts to prove it. Josh buried them and Blake went back to jail.

Josh’s boss retired and he took over. His obsession with Dos Equis returned and he bought a fake beard and kept a supply of the beer at the back of the station. One night he arrested a tall blonde called Cindy.

She’d thrown a glass at the barman in a nightclub. Josh walked into the cell wearing his beard and stuck his hand up her skirt.

‘I am the most interesting man in the world,’ he said, and stopped suddenly.

He felt a dick.

‘What the fuck?’ he said.

‘I’m a boy,’ Cindy said and started laughing.

Josh broke Cindy’s jaw then smashed himself in the face with the butt of his gun.

Cindy was sent to jail for assaulting a police officer. He ran into Blake there.

‘That fucking pig’s scared of trannies,’ he said. ‘He thinks he’s that guy on the Dos Equis ads, dresses up like him.’

‘It’s good to meet you, Cindy,’ Blake said.

When Blake was released Josh was nearing retirement. He’d bought a stable where he kept a horse. He’d ride out on it wearing his beard, thinking of all the amazing things he’d done with his life.

It was a beautiful summer morning when Blake caught up with Josh.

Blake stepped out of his pick up in a long black dress with a police badge on it, army boots, a Colt 45 and a fake beard.

He found Josh sweeping the floor of the stables.

‘Who the fuck are you?’ Josh said, staring at the large man in the dress.

‘I’m the most interesting man in the world,’ Blake said, ‘and I’m here to serve you papers.’

‘Get the fuck out of here.’

‘I think you ought to read this,’ Blake said and handed him a piece of paper.

It read ‘Acquisition Notice: you are now my property, I own the police.’

‘It’s all in the paperwork,’ Blake said.

He pistol whipped Josh, opening up a deep gash in his forehead. He removed his police badge and stuck it in the wound.

‘You look like a vending machine, pig. You’re mine now, vend motherfucker,’ he said, kicking the tip of the badge so it jammed deep into his skull.

‘You might be a useless fucking cop who doesn’t do his paperwork, but I’m going to give you an interesting death.’

He turned him over and stuck his Colt up his ass and blew a hole through him.

‘I’m going to have a bottle of Dos Equis,’ Blake said, and headed out into the sunlight.

BIO: Richard Godwin lives and writes in London. His first crime novel is the critically-acclaimed ‘Apostle Rising’. His dark satire ‘The Cure-All’, about a group of confidence tricksters, has been produced on the London stage.

His writing appears regularly at Disenthralled; Gloom Cupboard; Thrillers, Killers ’N Chillers; The New Flesh, Media Virus Magazine and Pulp Metal Magazine, among many other magazines and anthologies. His story ‘Pike N Flytrap’ is in the Fall 2010 issue of Needle Magazine, his story ‘Face Off’ is in Crime Factory, issue #5. You can follow him at Twitter here.

His website, complete with information on his novel APOSTLE RISING, also has a special page devoted to the spectacular CHIN WAG AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE interviews.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Interlude Stories: John Kenyon


He settled on an old oak door he’d found in the basement. It was heavy and thick. With four straps made from a leather belt bolted in with metal clamps two to a side, and a base made from a couple of sawhorses, it was a solid table on which he would restrain the man. He assembled it quickly but with attention; this was the most important part of the plan. If the table failed, the plan would fail. After pounding the final nail, he climbed onto what he had made and laid back. He thrashed around a bit and found it to be sturdy.


238 days. That’s what they took – 238 days of his life, gone. At first, he figured it must be a mistake. He’d been in American jails before. Each time the officers talked tough, and most of the time he served a few days or, twice, was sent back. After the second day turned to night and he still hadn’t seen or heard anyone, he realized this was different. If that hadn’t tipped him off, the dank canvas hood placed on his head before he was driven for what seemed like several hours and then flown somewhere, certainly did.


The room was special, secure, with a door like that of a safe. Everything seemed to be controlled by a panel inside the door. There wasn’t much in the way of furniture, just a couple of chairs, a couch and a small table. Canned food and gallon jugs of water lined one wall. He wasn’t sure if there would be enough, so he rolled two barrels in from the back yard that were used to burn yard waste, ran a hose in from outside and filled them to the top. The swirling water dislodged flakes of rust that spun lazily on the surface. He coiled the hose and erased any trace of his efforts.


The real rub? He’s not even Arab. He’s a Mexican, for Christ’s sake, and anyone with an ounce of sense could see that. Now, he was a bad guy, he’d give them that. But his was the kind of bad that got you sent to prison. Drugs. Armed robbery. A carjacking once. He could do that kind of time, had done it. But this, this was something else, and no matter how much he protested that it must be a misunderstanding, they ignored him. If this was a jail, there were no other inmates. There was no time in the yard.


On the day, everything was set. He was too full of energy to sit, so he stood just inside the door of the room, a cell phone in his hand. As he had been assured, the car arrived around 5 a.m. He heard the old man before he saw him, his shadow cutting across the morning light that streamed through the open front door, a shine bouncing off his bald head. The man yelled back over his shoulder that he had to use the can and that they should wait outside. There would be two waiting, according to what he had been told.


After working on a fishing boat for several months, he’d made the mistake of trying to cross the border from Canada instead of coming up through southern California like all the unlucky pendejos who are just grabbed and sent back. He regretted that decision each of the 238 days. He could have found a way to make ends meet in Canada; but the lure beyond the border was too great. The man who offered him a ride and forged papers was using him to get through a roadblock, figuring an Arab and a Mexican wouldn’t look so suspicious. He was wrong, which was why they had both been labeled “enemy combatants” and shipped to the island.


He took a step back into the shadows of the room and punched a number on his phone. When he heard Carlos answer, he pushed a button and held it for five seconds. He then hung up. This was the diciest part of the plan, but the old man had to need to be in the room if he was to have time to do what he wanted to do. Plus, he knew the man was dangerous with guns around, even when he didn’t mean to be. With the guns outside and the man inside, he liked the odds much better.


He couldn’t ever answer their questions because he wasn’t who or what they thought he was. He told them several times: “My name is Jesus Gutierrez. I am from Nogales. I don’t know anything about Al-Qaeda.” It was as if they couldn’t hear him. They asked the same questions again and again, only occasionally bothering to rephrase them in the hope of tripping him up. It never differed: “What is the plan?” “What are your targets?” “Who is leading your cell?” “Where does your money come from?”


A minute later, just as the man was coming back through the house, something smacked the front with a metallic clang. Carlos had done it. Two beefy men in dark suits rushed in and grabbed the old man. “Some sort of flying object just hit the house, sir. We need to get you into the safe room,” one said calmly. They pushed the old man beyond the threshold and pulled the door shut, one saying, “We’ll go investigate.”


On the island, they kept him cold and dark and alone, 24 hours a day. And that was the good part. The bad? Being laid out on a board and having water poured on your face until you think that this is the time they’re never going to stop. Being kept naked. Being beaten. Being naked and beaten and left huddled in a corner with other men while snarling dogs snapped at any appendage unlucky enough to stick out of the pile. Alone, he couldn’t have kept track of the days, but together, it was their ritual. Some men had prayers. Some remained silent most of the day. But each man had a different number, and he recited it each day.


Jesus stepped over to the glowing control panel and pushed a button that sealed the door, making it impenetrable from the outside. A light automatically turned on as the airlock engaged. He turned and looked at the man, gesturing with a handgun that he had pulled from his waistband. “I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you,” he said. “Now, take off your clothes.” The old man started to object, so Jesus fired a bullet into his foot. The man howled, but Jesus knew the soundproof room would muffle it. “After you are naked, climb up onto that table.”


His count stopped at 238, the day they came without a word and threw someone else’s clothes into his cell. A burly guard grabbed him once he’d changed and pushed him out the door. He was taken to a plane that flew him to Matamoros. The officer who discharged him told him two things: never talk about what had happened, and never try to come back into the U.S. Of course, he did both almost immediately. It was so much easier to get across from here than it had been from Canada. Wall? Fence? It didn't matter. The coyotes were motivated by greed.


The old man needed help getting up onto the board, but soon Jesus had him on his back and strapped in. He removed the man’s glasses, dropped them to the floor and crushed them under his boot. “Let’s talk about enhanced interrogation techniques,” he said, going over to one of the rusty barrels. He grabbed a two gallon bucket from the floor and dipped it in to fill it. He walked back to the old man and hit him hard in the mouth. “Tell me, do you know where Osama bin Laden is?” he said as he poured the water over the man’s face, causing him to sputter and choke.


He’d worked his way around Texas, doing odd jobs here and there. He told his story to some fellow workers over a beer after a day of repairing fence on a ranch. “Hey, one of those old dudes that used to be in Washington has a place around here,” one said. “He stops by on hunting trips. Not the dumb one. You know,” he said, sneering with a growl. “That guy. We do work there sometimes.” A day later, while watching as his friend, Carlos, used a remote control to steer a small plane through the sky, Jesus had an idea.


He had been told that it would take even the old man’s guards at least four hours to break into the room once they realized something was wrong. There was no override for fear they could be tortured into revealing the code. Jesus found that funny. The torture was going to happen inside the room, not outside it. All he wanted was 238 minutes. He hoped the old man’s heart would hold out. It wasn’t a fair trade, but he was going to do everything he could to make each of those minutes feel like a day of hell.

BIO: John Kenyon is a newspaper editor in Iowa who writes the blog Things I’d Rather Be Doing ( He has published short fiction in Thuglit, Crime Factory, Beat to a Pulp and elsewhere.


Coming soon...

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Twist Of Noir 678 - Hilary Davidson


Don didn’t have friends, but on the scale of people who bugged the hell out of him, Leo ranked low. So low Don saw him every couple months for drinks or pool or a game. Leo had a buddy who always scored good tickets.

So what’s with Leo tonight? Don wondered. He drank, watching Leo lurch out of the men’s room for the tenth time, rubbing his nose. Leo ran smack into a big greaseball who looked ready to take a swing at him. But the greaseball stopped dead, hypnotized by something he instinctively recognized. Don watched him ooze away, muttering. Leo sank into the chair across from him.

“Hell of a night,” Don said.

“Yeah.” There was a grayish cast to Leo’s dark brown skin, and the whites of his eyes weren’t white but yellow, like a jaundice victim. Or a junkie. Don’s brain flinched from that thought.

“Not getting a new car, are you?” Don tried to keep his tone neutral.

“Hell no.” Leo’s smile stretched his fleshy face, but it didn’t make it to his eyes. “Ride I got runs too fast for me.” He downed the double scotch a waitress had set down while he’d been coking up. “Good to see you, man.” He stood suddenly and put out his hand.

Don shook it. “See you around.”

After Leo left, Don tried to finish his drink, but he couldn’t shake the image of a raw, moist cut of meat. That was what Leo’s hand had felt like. It was none of his business, he told himself, but he found himself standing, tossing bills on the table, and heading for the door.

Leo’s red Ferrari was gone, but Don heard its wheels screeching in the distance. Don saw that car as a symptom of all of Leo’s problems. The man used to drive a Jaguar — sleek as anything, but black, which said he didn’t need to show off. Then Leo had tossed it aside — along with his wife and kids — for a ride that came straight out of “Magnum, P.I.” The woman who came with it had fake hair and fake tits. Her nails were so long Don wondered how she wiped her own ass.

The few people who knew Don well thought him cold and calculating, but he counted on instinct. Meticulous planning was important, but instinct had kept him from cops and harm for most of his life. His only regrets were the times he’d ignored his gut. So he steered his navy sedan out of the lot, following the Ferrari.

He found it below a dark curve of the highway, first sighting the break in the guardrail. The Ferrari should have tumbled down the hill, but a tree had caught it. As Don got closer, he saw Leo with his head bowed and hands clasped together, as if praying. “Nice stuntwork,” Don said, opening the door.

Leo stared. Were those tears streaming down his face? Don looked away, giving him space to get himself together. “Come on. I’ll drive you.”

“I can’t go home,” Leo whispered.

“Why not?”

“Tammi’s dead.”

“What? Since when?” Don thought of the cheap piece of ass with the talons.

“Two days ago. She was stepping out on me.” Leo’s words came out in breathy gasps. “I gave up everything for her, and she… she…”

“I get it.” How many messes like that had Don cleaned up for other people?

“I keep thinking on it, feeling my hands around her neck. God help me.” Leo started to cry loudly.

Don ground his jaw. “Look, I’ll take care of the body for you.”

Leo sobbed harder. “Wish I was dead.”

“But… you got your kids.”

“You’re not listening, man. Please.”

Something ached in Don’s chest.

“Please,” Leo repeated. “You the only friend I can ask, Don.”

In Don’s vision, Leo was melting away, replaced by a skeleton still covered in flesh. Usually the question was how to maximize suffering. It had been a while since he’d snapped a neck. Don didn’t want to do it, but he said, “Okay.”

BIO: BIO: Hilary Davidson’s debut novel, THE DAMAGE DONE (Forge, 2010), has been nominated for an Anthony Award, a Macavity Award, and an Arthur Ellis Award. Her second novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, a mystery set in Peru, will be published by Forge in February 2012. Hilary won the 2010 Spinetingler Award for Best Short Story for “Insatiable,” and her stories appear in upcoming collections including CRIME FACTORY: THE FIRST SHIFT, D*CKED, and BEAT TO A PULP: ROUND TWO. Visit

A Twist Of Noir 677 - Frank Bill


She’d died and lived to tell about it.

Part of herself sprayed from her temple like ivy. Hugged her jaw line. She tasted the smell of rubber and rusted wheel wells. Scents that branded her years before. She took a right cross to the solar plexus, tightened her abdominals, dug an uppercut into the heaving hairball of a man’s kidneys.

The slap of bone and sweat meshed the air.

She rarely used a firearm. Preferred fists, fingers, elbows and knees. Proving herself gave her another reason to exist. This one, like the others, owned a salvage yard.

She connected actions in newspapers from surrounding states. Women who’d disappeared.

Sometimes their vehicles had been found. Sometimes they hadn’t.

She followed these trails. Uncovering morbid men from small town taverns and roadside truck stops. An underground railroad of abducted women traveling, young and naive wanting to see the States, commuting between college and home. Identical to the one who sat watching, wrist and ankles cankered and bleeding from rope burns, her ceramic hide fudged with blemishes, her shirt moth holed, knees and elbows scarred and scabbed, brunette hair frayed and clumped with lips peeling.

Every female she found breathing delivered hope.

The shoat hog of a man panted. Her lungs rung of adrenaline. She thought about the miles she’d clocked down the roads in the surrounding states, chin-ups from hotel closets, push-ups and crunches from stained carpets. Shadow boxing in mirrors. Rounds fired at milk jugs of water, tin-cans in abandoned fields and boarded houses. Survival. That’s what she called it.

Her fist jarred the man’s neck, vertebra popped down his spine. Ligaments vibrated down her forearm, ended at her elbow. The man’s knees locked. Double hooks hit left, then right kidneys. His pisser dribbled, he whimpered like a child being smacked with a section of leather for disobeying his kin.

Cars lay dented and smashed in rusted hues of black and maroon. Dogs foamed with filed teeth, spiked collars attached to log chains that kept their mud-dried coats anchored to the earth.

Scars plotted the diary of her mistake. Blazing her arms and legs, she remembered a passing conversation at a gas station, daytime heat. Windy. Stopping to use the restroom on the way to see her parents from Missouri to Indiana. Buying bags of chips, a soda. The stopping down the road for a boy, her car idling as he got in. The toxic scent forked through her nasal passage and lips, screams from the backseat, a female rustled from sleep, now smears of regret.

She’d blacked in and out of consciousness, felt branches carving into her legs and arms, rocks denting her skull into a dull state of being. Remembered words wobbling through her mind, “This one got too much gamecock in her.” Then came the damp moss that replaced her air as she watched the shadows expire.

That’s when she died.

Now, pain was no longer felt, it was earned.

The man came forward, met her instep, slammed his face into hers. Buckled her teeth. She swallowed grit. Her sight rattled and the memory of the girl streamed through her mind; hair the color of a wasp, eyes blue as the Great Lakes and pigment the shade of a vanilla wafer.

She clutched the hairy man’s loose hanging balls within his sweat pants with one hand and his lard-locks with the other, tugged each and met his snout of black heads with her teeth, bit down and kicked his legs from beneath him.

His outline jarred the dusty lot. She spit and straddled the man, rolled him face down, twisted one arm behind his soiled back, then the other and snapped the cuffs around his wrists.

Standing, she tasted his filth and listened to him bleed with screams.

“Who the shit is you?”

Knowing she was close, she said, “Nostalgia.”

“What’cha you want?” he cried.

Glancing at the female on the ground, hugging her knees, Nostalgia looked down at the man, dirt covered him like he’d been dipped in brown sugar and she said, “Answers.”

A Twist Of Noir 676 - Phil Beloin Jr.


Previously published in a much longer version in Astonishing Adventures Magazine

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

Her hair was tangled from our romp.


“I haven’t fucked my husband in months,” she said. “Unless you think I’m a strumpet?”

Through a shared smoke’s mist, she said, “You’ll kill him?”

There it was.

“And then, honey, we’ll be together forever.”

She forgot to add rich, too.


Johnston Pettigrew was a fat fortyish and owned a pulp mill. I worked there. Saw Pettigrew everyday. Like every rich guy I came across, Pettigrew oozed arrogance.

Me and his missus spent another week mussing around before she told me her husband dug his nighttime swims. Helped him chill after an arduous day of watching me turn wood into paper.

I crouched in the bushes by the pool behind their estate. Eyed him lapping. Waited till he slogged out. I dragged him back into the shallow end.


The mill closed. I didn’t see or hear from the widowed Pettigrew for a week. Every bone, every sinew, even my tendons ached for her. I called.

“I need you, babe.”

“Not now,” she said. “Later.”

She didn’t come later.

Policemen did—three of ’em with gleaming Sigs. They took me downtown.

“You knew Mr. Pettigrew?”

“I worked for the man,” I said.

“What did you think of him?”

“An ass.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Ain’t your boss an ass?”

“What about Mrs. Pettigrew?”

“I seen her before.”


“The mill,” I said. “She liked to bring Johnston fruit pulp for lunch.”

“She’s a real hot broad.”

“I ain’t blind.”

“You ever hit that?”

“Not in my league.”

“Autopsy revealed bruising around Mr. Pettigrew’s throat.”

“What’s that to me?” I said.

“That’s not consistent with a drowning victim.”


“There was a rotating security camera on the back of the Pettigrew’s house.”

“Rich folks and their toys,” I said.

“Tape’s dark but it shows a man leaving the pool the night Mr. Pettigrew died.”

“Do I care?”

“Someone held Mr. Pettigrew under the water.”

“You hear if they’re gonna re-open the mill?”

It went on and on, but they had nothing against me.


I called again.

“Babe, the police pulled me in.”

“They’re questioning everybody from work.”

“What’s this about a backyard camera?”

“Johnston had just installed it,” she said. “I didn’t even know.”

“I need you bad.”

“I can almost taste you, too,” she said. “But patience.”

Nah, not for me.

I shadowed her. To a mall, the wake, the graveyard.

It was the day after the funeral when she met this other creep. Outside of the fancy threads, he wasn’t so different than me. He got takeout and they shot over to his pad. They were up there for hours.


The easy thing would have been to snuff her. But she was growing that thing inside her. Maybe it was mine. I wouldn’t erase my heir to the Pettigrew accounts.

I waited outside her new creep’s love nest. When he was alone, I knocked on his door. .38 Special low. He answered. I backed him inside.

“We know you’ve been stalking Mrs. Pettigrew,” he said. “She feared for her safety, having the camera installed on her grounds for protection.”

“Who are you?”

A cop, he said. I had been under surveillance since I had been brought into the station.

“We watched you follow her to the mall. You were outside the funeral home and cemetery. Mrs. Pettigrew is convinced her stalker drowned her husband so he could then be with her. We pretended she was seeing me, trying to lure you out.”

I lowered the barrel. “We were having an affair,” I said.

“You’re delusional.”

“She’s carrying my child.”

“She fainted last week during an interview. I went to the hospital with her. Neither she nor her doctors mentioned she was pregnant.”

As he said it, I heard feet rushing up the stairs. Sirens roared from the road.

“The apartment is surrounded.”

I went to deadbolt the door. The cop rushed me. My finger squeezed the trigger.


There. It’s all down. The truth. Not the infamy of Mrs. Pettigrew.

This—my suicide note.

BIO: Phil, aka, loves femme fatales so much, he married one. He has new stories at The Flash Fiction Offensive and Pulp Metal Magazine.

A Twist Of Noir 675 - Michael J. Solender


I’m not a student of architecture but I can tell the building in front of me used to be something else. It had a stately aura about it that belied its current haggard image. It’s funny how you can see strength in things, even when they’re tarnished.

The four story edifice stood silently, darkened not only because it was Saturday, but because this part of Minneapolis had long been forsaken for the western suburbs. There, office parks boasted ‘green’ facilities and quicker access to starter homes that littered tracts where dairy cattle once grazed. Newer, it seems, is always better in some people’s minds.

Nobody was stirring at 675 Hennepin as I made my way up the half-steps to the imposing door. Sven was waiting.

Sven was getting up in years and had to be about ninety, I figured. I hadn’t actually seen him in years, maybe even decades earlier in Vegas.

You may not know of the Minnesota mob, but let me tell you these guys had class and they knew their business. The kingpin of ’em all was Sven. He treated all his guys with class. When we were in Vegas, it was steaks and champagne every night, front row for Frank, Dino and Sammy and a hot tomato waiting in our room for after.

Whenever Sven needed me to persuade somebody, all he had to do was ask. Now, here I was paying a visit to the old man after all these years. As I entered the hulking building’s lobby, I saw an old man in a wheelchair, puffing on a cigar.

“Come here, Mikey-boy, let me get a good look at you.” Sven’s voice, still booming, kicked around in the empty lobby.

“Hiya, Sven, long time, where’s your keepers at?” I was incredulous that a mob boss of Sven’s stature was all alone.

“Those bums, they got the morning off. I got you here to take care of me. You were always my best muscle boy, Mikey, and now I got the ultimate job for you.” Sven may have looked frail, but his spirit was strong.

“Anything for you, Sven. It’s been a while since I’ve done any persuading, but I haven’t forgotten how. Who’s the lunker that needs some talking to?”

“Well, Mikey, that would be me and it’s a bit more than persuasion I’m after.” He paused and drew heavy on his stogie.

“I’m not catching your drift, Sven, what are you saying?”

“I’m saying I need you to whack me, Mikey. Me. I’m ninety years old, can’t make it through breakfast without filling my pants, got no wife, good-for-nothing kids and nothing to look forward to. It’s time. I want to go, and I want to go today!”

I was stunned.

“But why get whacked, Sven, and why me? Why don’t you just take a handful of pills or go sit in your garage with the car running? Why get offed?” I was trying to wrap my head around it.

“Mikey, I was once at the top of my game, respected across the land by the Bigs. Capone, Siegel, Luciano, I even had the Daper Don fly me out to Jersey before he went into the can to pay his respects personally. How would it look if people picked up the papers and saw me dead by my own hand?” He handed me a forty-eight with a silencer. “You were always a quick study and I know you’ll be that way today. This gun here is untraceable, take it. As to why you, it’s because I know you’ll do it, shut up about it, take the satchel of dough I got right here and forget it ever happened. Am I right, Mikey?”
I took the piece, made sure it was loaded and then popped Sven right under the bridge of his nose, knocking him back over the top of his wheelchair, his brains in a pool of expanding blood.

“Yeah, Sven, you’re right,” I mumbled, looking around the old building.

Strength can be found in the strangest places.

BIO: Michael J. Solender is the author of the short story and poetry chapbook, Last Winter’s Leaves, published by Full of Crow Press. His essay, Unaffiliated, is featured in the newly released anthology, Topograph: New Writings From The Carolinas and the Landscape Beyond, published by Novello Festival Press. He is the editor of the online magazine, On The Wing. Solender’s work is found at and his blog, NOT FROM HERE, ARE YOU?

A Twist Of Noir 674 - Kenny Crist


“How do snakes do it?”

Bobby and Caroline were lying sprawled in bed under the ceiling fan. She was one of those redheads men dream about. Alabaster skin, pubic hair that matched, coral nipples, freckles and the whole bit.

He was a hairy bastard. Damn near as much on his back as on his head. Dark five o’clock shadow even right after he shaved. Striking blue eyes and pretty well-hung, too.

“Huh?” He had been almost asleep, enjoying the afterglow of great sex. It hadn’t always been great with her, but she was coming along…

“I’ve always wondered—how do snakes do it? How do they fuck? I mean, they can’t really hold each other…”

“Jesus, Caroline, why the hell does this shit matter?” He wasn’t really irritated with her, but sometimes she came up with some of the damnedest thoughts.

“Well, sometimes I just get curious about things like that.”

“I seem to recall a few short weeks ago, you didn’t know much about how humans did it, let alone…”

“Gawd, I know. I was really fucked up in the head. I never knew it could be so good…”

“Thank you.”

“No, seriously, you taught me so much about my own sexuality, and sensuality. I’ve done things with you I’d have never dreamed of doing before.”

“So. Snakes, huh?”

“Yeah. Snakes. Does the male have a penis?”

“Duh. Of course he does. And the female has a cooter, too.”

“You mean vagina.”

“Yeah. Snake snatch.” He was trying not to laugh. So was she, but she was going to crack up any minute now.

“Doesn’t really tell me much…”

“Well, I’d imagine, the male would start out by flicking his tongue…like this…” He turned over and attacked her, flicking everywhere he could reach until he settled in between her legs. The giggling started right about then.

Soon, he was gripping her tightly, cupping her ass in both hands as he worked her up into a gasping shivering mess. When he was ready, he entered her, thrusting deep and hard, then holding her tightly as he began wrapping himself around her. First the arms, pinning her own arms to her sides, then the legs, forcing her legs together, making her small sheath even tighter as he slowly and steadily applied pressure.

Caroline had engaged in rough sex before, so she wasn’t really alarmed until she began to realize that his body was elongating, stretching out, becoming somehow thinner, and that his two legs seemed to have become only one, a long, impossibly long leg that wound around her legs. And that things were still tightening.

Her eyes flew open as he bit the side of her throat and she felt blood trickling down from where his fangs were now dug in, giving additional purchase. His left eye was inches from her own and amid the scales she saw the slitted pupil and she tried to draw in breath to scream, but there was no breath.

His two arms had disappeared and his body was looped around hers at least twice, maybe three times. His skin had become cool and shiny and there was a definite pattern to his scales. All that body hair was gone.

Now she was definitely scared and struggling, trying to find some escape, but the edges of her vision were beginning to sparkle and she couldn’t get her breath. Inside, she felt his size increase until there was definite pain there, too, and then she felt him come. She had never actually felt his semen pump into her before. This time she did—just before she lost consciousness.


When Caroline came back to consciousness, Bobby was not in the room. She was on her back in the center of their bed, a load of semen drying between her legs and there were blood drops on her pillow. She felt bruised all over.

Then Bobby came back from the bathroom and sat next to her on the bed. “Now,” he said, grinning evilly, “ya wanna know how chickens do it?”

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


The 600 To 700 Challenge returns again this Friday with stories by Kenny Crist, Michael J. Solender, Phil Beloin, Jr., Frank Bill and Hilary Davidson.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Interlude Stories: Dana C. Kabel


Jessie was enormously happy with the box C.J. gave him after they went through the drive thru of the McDonald’s. At first, he was very upset that they weren’t going inside the restaurant because he loved the Playland where you took off your shoes and went through the tubes with the other kids and jumped in the colored balls.

But when they went inside, C.J. usually sat with his coffee while Jessie played and never got anything to eat because he was too excited with Playland to actually eat anything.

C.J. called the box a Happy Meal and it was certainly doing its job of making Jessie…well, happy. There was chicken and French fries and a toy Shrek and Shrek was Jessie’s favorite movie of all time.

Jessie was eating fast because he was so hungry. He didn’t want to eat breakfast when Mommy made it for him and then it was time for her to go to work and then the breakfast was gone. But when he saw the green Shrek toy in the bottom of the Happy Meal box, he forgot all about eating and a half chewed fry dropped out of his mouth.

The car went fast then. It got real loud and growly underneath and Jessie felt a big bump as they flew over the curb and into the street and he almost dropped Shrek. There was a loud squealing noise and a stinky smell.

C.J. was talking on his phone and he must have been mad because he was using the words that Mommy said were bad and he was using his loud voice to say them. Then he said the really really bad F word and threw his phone against the window of the car and it fell on the ground.

“Uh Oh!” Jessie said.

C.J. turned around and looked at Jessie. He gave him a great big smile, but his eyes were still mad.

“It’s okay, buddy. Are you having fun with your new toy? Make sure you eat your chicken!”

It must have been okay then, because C.J. didn’t use any more bad words. He rolled his window down and the cold air came in with the smelly smoke from C.J.’s cigarette. Mommy smoked cigarettes too, but not in the car with Jessie.

He coughed and C.J. threw his cigarette out the window and rolled it up. Jessie took a piece of chicken out of the box and bit it.

C.J. stopped the car and opened his door.

“I’ll be right back, buddy. I’m gonna lock the door and turn the radio on so you can listen to the music. But I promise I’ll be right back.”

C.J. shut the car door and went into a building Jessie had never been to before. There were no windows on the building, so he couldn’t see inside. It was kind of dirty with junk and garbage cans like Oscar the Grouch lives in, so Jessie didn’t feel scared. He was hoping Oscar would pop out of one of the cans when the door that C.J. had gone through flew open and a man was thrown right out of it.

The man looked like a big ball and rolled head over butt and tipped over one of the garbage cans when he landed on the ground. There was trash all over the ground that spilled out of the can, but no sign of Oscar.

Then C.J. came out and picked the man up by his shirt and started shaking him. The man must have been real sad because he was crying and shaking his head. But that must have made C.J. mad because he shook the man more and slapped his face.

Then he shoved the man real hard and he flew backwards and slammed against the car. Jessie jumped in his car seat and almost dropped Shrek when the man’s head hit the window next to him.

The man fell to the ground then and C.J. walked towards him real fast. He spit on the man and said a lot of bad words. Jessie saw his leg move back and forth real fast and hard like he was kicking something.

C.J. sucked real hard on his cigarette and then threw it on the ground and opened the car door.

“All set, pal?” C.J. said to Jessie. “We gotta go for another ride now. How’s that Happy Meal coming? Want some more juice?”

Then they were driving real fast again with lots of squealing noises until they came to another building. C.J. stopped the car on the side of the street where there were lots of other cars.

There was trash here too, but the cans weren’t against the building, they were out by the curb. And there were lots of people all around. Some of them were sitting and lying right on the sidewalk.

“Shit! I can’t leave you in the car in this friggin’ neighborhood,” C.J. said.

He got out of the car and came around and took Jessie out of his car seat. Jessie dropped a half eaten piece of chicken, but held on tight to Shrek.

“Come on, kiddo,” C.J. said. “This’ll only take a minute.”

The building they went into was real stinky and Jessie wanted his pacifier, but it was in the car. C.J. carried him up a bunch of stairs and then down a hallway where they stopped in front of a door.

There were babies crying and people yelling in lots of different languages. It was a very noisy place.

C.J. took Jessie’s Shrek and put it in Jessie’s pocket.

“We’re gonna put Shrek away for a minute so you don’t drop him,” he said. “Okay? Now we’re gonna play a game. I want you to put your hands over your ears and hold them real tight, okay?”

Jessie covered his ears like C.J. told him and then C.J. held Jessie tight against his chest while he knocked on the door.

There were foot stomps and C.J. reached in his jacket and pulled something out.

The door opened as far as the door chain would let it.

“What you want!” A man shouted through the crack in the door.

C.J. kicked the door in and the chain broke and the man behind it fell backwards to the ground with a shout.

C.J. pointed the gun at the man on the ground and fired it a bunch of times until the man on the ground stopped moving. The gun was real loud, even though Jessie’s hands were clamped tight over his ears, and it smelled real bad.

Jessie looked over C.J.’s shoulder as he turned to run down the hall and he saw the blood that was all over the man on the floor.

When Mommy came home from work, C.J. got up from the kitchen table where he was feeding Jessie carrots and applesauce. Shrek sat on the corner of the high chair tray.

“How’s my baby? Eating something healthy, I see.”

She walked over and kissed Jessie on the head.

C.J. was putting his coat on.

“Thought I should make up for giving him a Happy Meal for lunch,” C.J. said.

“Oh, did you get a new Shrek?”

Jessie pointed his finger at Mommy like a gun.

“BANG!” Jessie said. “BANG BANG BANG Mommy!”

Mommy made a funny sad face at C.J.

“Was Mr. C.J. watching bad movies again?”

“I thought he was sleeping and I’m afraid he caught a few minutes of a crime thriller I was watching. I won’t let it happen again.”

“That’s okay. I’m sure there’s no harm done,” Mommy said. “See you tomorrow, C.J.?”

“You betcha. See you tomorrow, Jessie.”
BIO: Dana C. Kabel’s work has appeared in The Flash Fiction Offensive, Out of the Gutter, Yellow Mama, Mysterical-E, Powder Burn Flash, and Muzzleflash. He can be contacted at

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I urge everyone to check out Flashes In The Dark Radio's latest interview with Richard Godwin.

Have a listen here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Interlude Stories: David Harry Moss


Craig peered through the window of the crowded open-all-night diner hoping to spot the homicidal junkie who killed first and then robbed. Craig had a good idea what the man looked like: white male, medium height, medium build, slope shouldered, walks with a limp. Craig had been on night duty for two of the three previous robbery/murders.

Craig smiled at Rita when she brought him his coffee and pastrami on rye. Rita threw her chest out and smiled back. Craig liked pretty women and they liked him.

“You look good in your cop uniform,” Rita said. They had something going even before Craig and his second wife divorced.

Craig grinned and sipped hot black coffee. The steam warmed his face. He liked the spicy coffee smell. He sat at the end of the counter facing the window so he could see outside where snow flakes that looked like torn tissue paper fell. It was night time but that part of the street stayed busy until late. There were people going in and out of bars and in and out of a strip club flashing red and yellow bulbs arranged in the shape of a naked buxom female. Zipping cars, buses, and taxi traffic gave the busy street a quick pulse.

Craig had his police car parked by the curb. Looking beyond the car Craig spotted a white man, medium height, medium build, slope shouldered, gray hooded sweatshirt, with his head down and limping on the opposite sidewalk. Craig’s heart began beating fast. He sprang from the stool and tossed Rita a ten dollar bill for the coffee and the uneaten pastrami on rye.

“Got to go.”

“Hey,” Rita yelled. “My place or yours when we’re both off duty.”

Without answering Craig bolted through the door.

Before getting into the car Craig’s eyes darted along the street in the direction where he had last seen the man in the gray hooded sweatshirt but the man had blended into a throng and Craig didn’t see him. Craig took a deep breath and made a sharp u-turn and drove slowly, looking into shadows. The busy late-night places gave way to a long block of squat gray buildings holding asleep restaurants and retail stores. Craig had the car windows down, listening.

“He has to be around here somewhere,’ Craig kept telling himself. Anticipation made Craig’s gut churn. Up ahead the street got busy again with a few bars and a line of upscale hotels. He saw a man in a dark overcoat exit a bar. He pulled the car against the curb and shut off the lights and waited.

A few minutes after the man in the dark overcoat turned a corner Craig heard the gunshot and tromped the gas pedal. His police car took the turn on squealing tires.

Craig spotted the suspect, the white male, medium height and build, gray hooded sweatshirt fleeing through the alley toward dimly lit and seedy Cedar Street. A handful of curious minded people drifted from a corner jazz bar across the street.

Craig sprang from the police car and ordered, “Stay back.”

Craig followed the flashlight beam into the garbage littered alley. He stepped around broken whisky bottles and a soggy brown plastic garbage bag. By an overturned trash barrel next to a dumpster Craig saw the victim, a middle aged white man in a dark overcoat sprawled face up on the wet bricks with a spreading dark stain on his white shirt. Craig squatted and touched the man’s throat checking for a pulse. “Dead,” Craig muttered.

Up ahead Craig saw the killer limping away. Craig was in top shape and could catch him without effort. Instead Craig grinned and aimed the flash on the dead man. He caught the glitter of an Omega watch on the man’s left wrist. Craig guessed that the thief, the killer, drew the man into the alley with the gun, robbed him of his wallet, shot him, and fled without bothering with the expensive watch. A druggie who only cared about cash was how Craig saw it.

Craig looked around. The people who had come out of that bar were too far away to see anything. Craig took the dead man’s Omega watch and dropped it into his pocket. It would go well with a diamond ring, a gold wedding band, and a gold neck chain he had lifted from the victims of the robberies two weeks and four weeks ago. He guessed the value of the Omega watch to be $1500, the value of the gold neck chain to be $1200, the value of the gold wedding band to be $1100, and the value of the diamond ring to be $800. In due time he’d unload it all on a fence he knew.

Craig rubbed his cold hands to warm them and called it in. “Victim dead. A possible suspect fleeing on Main Street. Armed and dangerous. Black male, dreadlocks, tall and thin, red jacket.” Why spoil a good thing? Craig hoped that the killer would not get caught by a good cop and he hoped also that he would be on night duty when the killer struck again.

BIO: David Harry Moss is a writer and an actor. His mystery fiction can be found in print in Gary Lovisi’s Hardboiled and online. As an actor, he has appeared in dozens of films most notably Silence of the Lambs as an F.B.I. agent. Currently, he lives in Pittsburgh but has also lived in Phoenix and Minneapolis. Other favorite habitats include New York City, Los Angeles, the Florida Gulf Coast, and Paris.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Twist Of Noir 673 - Cindy Rosmus


All your life, you hated washing dishes. Your mom’s fancy china, pots and pans caked with grease. Broke as you were, you’d toss your own, vs. scrubbing them. Buy new ones in the dollar store.

Now here you are, so hard up since Shithead left, you’d do the thing you hate most.

“Sorry!” the cook says, breathing booze in your face. “We don’t need no waitresses.” Like waitressing is every girl’s dream. You see two: a graying redhead and a mummified blonde.

“I’m here to wash dishes.”

It sounds fake. Like you’re a hired killer, and this is a front. Like some scorned chick hired you to take out this cook. Shemp’s his name, like in The Three Stooges.

Nah, you think. Not him.

Shemp’s like fifty, with this shock of white hair that’s got to be real. A Hawaiian shirt and shorts that reveal too-hairy legs.

He looks familiar: like that “hunk” from your mom’s day who drove the navy Lincoln all over town. Each time, with a different blonde. As he got older, the blondes got plumper, with doughy, made-up faces.

Was that Shemp?

“Ever wash dishes before?”

“No.” It’s true. You’d die first.

He snorts. “Good luck.” And leads you to the kitchen.

Where his girl waits. A chunky blonde in tube top and shorts.

That’s him, you realize. Mom’s first love. Now the cook at Casa Vitale. Little does the clientele know this tarantula-legged fuck is sautéing their shrimp.

Between shots of ’Buca.

Greasy pots piled to the sky. Dishes stacked at a crazy angle, in a sink from like 1910. And at Casa Vitale, you think. Fat roaches scoot up the wall.

“Hah!” Shemp says, when you cringe. “Even the best restaurants got ’em.”

You’ll never eat here again.

Only one automatic dishwasher. For all those dishes.

“Hand me that apron,” he tells Fatty Pants.

“Do it, yourself!”

“Fuck you, bitch.”

You walked into that. On your first night. But they were battling, before. You can tell. The blonde was too quiet, like she was waiting, maybe hoping, to be fucked with. She’s got the craziest eyes going.

The grimy apron is for you. Shemp throws it at you. When it lands in your face, he snickers.

“Ha! Ha!” Fatty Pants says sarcastically. Like he thinks he’s funny, but he’s so not.

For some reason, you start with the pots. Puttanesca sauce caked so thick, it’ll never come off. Never. Back home, this fucker would be in the trash by now. On the garbage truck, already.

Like an asshole, you try scrubbing it. With a sponge.

“Good luck,” Shemp says again.

You need it. Those pots are hopeless. The matronly waitresses dump dish after dish on the belt. And the dishwasher’s fucked up. Shit, you think.

A half hour later, it’s almost closing time. Your elbows are killing you. You start stacking silverware.

“Hurry up, will’ya?” Shemp says drunkenly, from behind you.

“Ya like that, don’t’cha?” Fatty Pants means you. She’s as drunk as him, now.

“Nah.” You hear bottles clink. “No meat on ’er.” Like you’re not even here.

“’Sides,” he says, snickering. “I like blondes.”

You know what’s coming.

“Blondes?” she says. “Like, how many?”

“How many?” Shemp says, getting pissed “Like, too many.”

“So I’m not blonde enough for you?”

“Forget it,” Shemp says wearily.

A wave of booze hits you, as Fatty Pants reaches past you, grabs something off the tray.

Scrunch! you hear, next.

“Ahhh!” Shemp says, sounding choked.

Then...scrunch again. “You fuck!” she says.

You turn around, nearly keel over.

The biggest knife, she took, and is hacking away. Shemp gags, as blood shoots out of his neck. He grabs it, tries to stop bleeding.

In minutes he’ll be dead. But she keeps chopping: chest, shoulders. Now she’s sobbing.

Blood is everywhere: even on you, way over there. On dishes you washed. Like the world is splashed with Puttanesca sauce.

“Help!” you scream, finally.

Till then, Fatty Pants forgot about you.

Luckily, a waitress runs in and screams...

The old blonde.

BIO: Cindy is a New York textbook editor by day, a hardboiled Jersey female by night. Her fiction has appeared in Black Petals, The Beat, The Cynic, Red Fez, Zygote in My Coffee, Hardboiled, NVF, MediaVirus, The Monsters Next Door, Out of the Gutter, Devil Blossoms, 13th Warrior Review, Mysterical-E, and Beat to a Pulp. She has four collections of stories out: Angel of Manslaughter, Gutter Balls, Calpurnia’s Window, and No Place Like Home. She is the editor of the e-zine, Yellow Mama. She is also a thrill seeker, a Gemini, and a Christian.

A Twist Of Noir 672 - Ron Earl Phillips


I was six years old when Mrs. Greene introduced our first grade class to Hope Parsons, my first crush.

Hope was beauty before I even knew what beauty was with her golden pigtails, brilliant blue eyes and an infectious smile -- even after Jamie Delano flung his Frisbee, knocking out Hope’s two front teeth.

It had been an accident, but before Jamie could say he was sorry I was on top of him flailing my fists, each repeatedly finding its mark.

Hope smiled through her tears and her purple fat lip.


I eyed her when she walked into the bar, a gorgeous fuck on heels. Long blond hair teased back to yesterday, a peak-a-boo skirt receding north with the ebb and flow of her stiletto boots. My eyes traveled up and down, settling on her tits; both jumping out her cheap low cut blouse deliberately bought a size too small.

The townies knew her. Like Adam knew Eve.

Setting her round ass on the stool next to me, she rummaged through her purse before leaning close.

“What’s a girl gots to do to get a drink around here?”

The regulars laughed on cue, knowingly.

“What do you want?”

Her blue eyes smiled, “What do you got?”

I didn’t answer. I pulled a fat wad of twenties from my pocket and peeled one off, laid it on the bar. I walked out and got into my car. She followed.

We went to her place, a room at a rundown lodge that rented by the week, the day or the hour.

“I ain’t a whore.” She insisted, but she didn’t mind the twenties I laid on her nightstand.

We skinned out of our clothes and got to business.

The bed springs squealed as she rode me. Hair whipped, I could feel she was riding fast to an orgasm, so I held on. We came together.

She flung her hair back and shot me a toothsome smile.

I bucked her off and the bitch crashed into a battered dinette.

I sat up. My face was hot with tears.

I thought of Hope.


Hope Parsons vanished on her eleventh birthday.

The town mourned, filled with sadness and flyers. Every telephone pole and shop window was littered with her picture. Her blond hair now straight, with a hint of a curl, her blue eyes were brighter and she still had a captivating smile.

Hope was never declared dead, but on her twelfth birthday the town dedicated its new park in her honor. It was an abandoned field, a favorite place of hers to hide and play.

I tried to remember that last day.


They found the body a day later. Her face was crushed and impossible to identify. Blood splattered violently across the walls and bedding, and pooled around the body.

The red blue neon of a dozen cruisers -- local and county cars -- flooded the parking lot. Officers stood around, whispering. Seasoned cops were smoking while several rookies were bent over sick.

They all saw the woman in the middle of the room, grotesquely bludgeoned, same as the nine before. A painted red message again read -- No Hope.


Hope’s field was smothered with asphalt and covered in useless shops. It had been her favorite place to be, but now it was no longer a field. Not even a park. The town had forgotten Hope, moved on.

I remembered.

She snuck down to the field after her party with my promise of a special gift. Hope smiled when we met and I took both her hands, guiding her deep into the overgrown field. She didn’t mind.

We laughed.

My chest fluttered when she asked about her gift. I pulled her close like I’d seen older kids do and pursed my lips.

I didn’t expect Hope to pull away, so I tried to hold tighter, but she tugged harder, falling backwards.

The metal spike punched through her chest, a bloody pop. Her eye rolled, her skin paled and her perfect smile withered.

A final body spasm and Hope was gone.

BIO: Ron Earl Phillips writes fiction. Someday he’d like to get paid for it.

Currently he resides in West Virginia with his wife, daughter and three cats. He spends his days as web developer for a newspaper media group.

He also hosts a weekly flash fiction writing challenge at Flash Fiction Friday.

Ron’s stories can be found posted on his website,

A Twist Of Noir 671 - Kelly Whitley


Bart and Lana walked into the Four Seasons Hotel. In the Aspen Room, the reception for the new Mr. and Mrs. Blake Potowski was well underway. Guests packed the ballroom, laughing, talking, and dancing. A long table against one wall held a cornucopia of wedding gifts ranging from large boxes festooned with ribbons to demure envelopes containing monetary gifts.

Lana froze in the doorway and gripped Bart’s sleeve. “I think we might be underdressed. Everyone here is decked out for black tie. We look like we don’t belong.”

Bart clamped his hand around her arm and steered her through the doorway. “You look fine.”

“I can’t afford a new dress for every wedding,” she whispered. “What if somebody’s seen this dress before?”

“A little black dress doesn’t stand out. This is the last time, I swear.”

“That’s what you said last time.”

“Get in line for refreshments,” he growled.

The respective queues for cocktails and cake were short, and they zipped through the lines.

As they carried their food and drinks to one of the empty tables flanking the dance floor, the best man intercepted them. “Didn’t I see you guys at the Zucker wedding last fall?”

Bart spoke up. “No, I don’t think we’ve met.” He stuck out his hand. “I’m Gus Sinclair, and this is my wife Greta.”

The best man narrowed his eyes as held Bart’s gaze and shook his hand. “Joe Potowski, brother of the groom. Which side of the family are you with?”

Lana swallowed and set her food and drink on the table. “The bride’s side. I went to college with Lucinda.”

The two men sized each other up as a waltz flowed from the DJ’s turntable. The happy couple cuddled and kissed on the dance floor behind them.

After an eternity of seconds, Joe broke the silence. “Enjoy yourselves. I’ll see you later.” With a nod, he ambled off toward the wedding party’s table.

Lana watched as Joe bent and spoke to another groomsman, and then both men stared across the room at Bart. “I think he knows, Bart. Let’s... let’s just go.”

“Sit down and eat.”

“We could get arrested—”

“Do what I say, and it’ll all be fine,” he said through his teeth.

Lana consumed her cake and punch with shaking hands. “They’re still watching us, Bart. I want to go.”

“Go check out the gift table,” Bart murmured.

Lana glanced across the room at the newlyweds, then at the best man. “This is so wrong. Every time your gambling gets you in trouble, you drag me off to a wedding. You can pay off your debts some other way.”

“No, I can’t. I’m out of time.”


“Check the table. Now.”

Lana recognized the implied threat in the words, and shuddered at the thought of Bart’s uncontrolled rage. Reluctantly she strolled along the gift table while he collected their coats and tipped the checker.

In the lobby, Bart pulled her aside. “Did you get ’em?”

She gave him a withering glance and handed him a fat envelope. “Yeah. Another gambling debt paid off courtesy of newlyweds. I’m going to the ladies’ room.”

“Be out here in ten minutes or I’ll leave without you.” Bart turned for the door.

Lana checked the ladies’ room, then the lounge area of the restroom. She pulled out her phone and made the call. Then she pulled out the tote bag she’d stowed behind the lounge’s couch earlier that day, and made her preparations. Fifteen minutes later, she peeked out of the ladies’ room. In the lobby, a police officer led Bart away in handcuffs as Joe Potowski and the other groomsman watched.

Lana smoothed her new slacks and trench coat, then tied a scarf over the blond wig and patted her purse. Enough to start a new life in Mexico, away from Bart and the loan sharks he still owed from the last ill-fated bet. As soon as she got situated, she’d start paying back all those newlyweds.

She’d already settled up with Bart.

BIO: Kelly has been writing for years, but is new to the art form of flash-- the shorter, the better.

A Twist Of Noir 670 - Naomi Johnson


She hunkered down in the snow, digging the deep white away from the base of the tree with her bare hands. The snow was falling almost as fast as she could scoop it away and the wind was an icy scissor flaying her exposed arms and face.

She thanked God for that wind.

And for the hole she could just make out at the base of the hollow oak. And for being skinny enough to slide through the hole and inside the tree.

Cold here, too, and dark, but at least she was out of the wind. She curled into a tight fetal ball, thinking what must she do next.

That wind, if it would last for even one more hour, might save her. Just one hour and the wind would destroy her tracks. And when darkness fell – surely not long now – she would make her way up the hill to where old Fader had a meth lab in a cave. Mal didn't know about the cave. Fader would have killed him just for knowing. But Mal wasn’t much of a woodsman and he didn’t brave the wild places without a reason. He’d do it to find her though; he wasn’t going to just let her go.

So she’d hole up in Fader’s cave until daylight, if she made it that far, then push on toward the railroad station at Claustrum. She could hop the freight and beg for a meal wherever she got off. Hitch a ride from there. And that was as far as she needed to plan, because if Mal caught up with her at any point short of that freight, the only train she’d be seeing would be bound for glory.

A snapping sound rose above the howl of the wind and at first she thought it was branches being snapped by the gale. Then she heard the laugh and her breath was caught in a solid frozen lump in her chest. Mal’s voice came to her. Close. Close enough to lick her with the fetid air skimming over his rotting teeth. Make a sound and he’ll have you.

“Carrrrleeee! I’m gonna fiiiinnnnd yuuuuuuu!” A rabid hyena’s laugh. “Carrrrleeee, where arrrrr yuuuuu?”

She buried her face in the crook of her arm as her stomach dry-heaved, empty but for water for the last two days.

“Hey, Carrrrleeee girrrrl, I can smellllll yuuuu! Ooooh, you smell taaaasteeee! Here I come, ready or no-otttt!”

The hollow oak juddered from a sudden blow to the trunk and Carly stuffed cold fingers into her mouth to keep from shrieking. Mal had brought his pickaxe.

Mal’s wild cackle tickled her ears and she felt warm liquid ooze down her throat, and she realized she’d bit her fingers to the bone. Mal always claimed he could smell blood and she’d more than half-believed it. But now she totally believed it.

“I smelllll yuuurrrr bloooood, Carrrrleeee. Oooheeee, you smellll goooood! Gonna get me some of you, girl, gonna get me –”

His words were obliterated by a blast and there was only the sound of the wind, rising and falling, rising and falling, keening its solitude.

Carly snaked her head and shoulders out into the snow, peered through the mountain gloom. Saw Fader with her deer rifle, standing by the fallen Mal.

Fader caught her movement and gestured with the rifle.

“Come on out, girl. I reckon he’ll live but he won’t be chasing you no more for a while.”

Carly scrambled away from the oak and stood up.

“He’ll live?”

“It’s what I said. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d gone deef from all his bellerin’ and carryin’ on. Knew it would come to this one of these days.”

Mal roused, turned his head to Carly. “Hey, Carly, I found you. We gonna have us some fun now, girl.”

Carly saw the pickaxe at her feet. Bent and picked it up, felt the heft of it. Felt the power.

“Oh, yeah, Mal,” she agreed. “We gonna have us a big time now!”

BIO: Naomi Johnson is still in shock over being able to write to such a limited word count, and thanks Christopher Grant for the opportunity. Her longer stories have appeared here at A Twist of Noir, as well as at CrimeFactory, Southern Cross Review and Encounters magazine.