Category Archives: Crime

The Encounter By Cynthia B Ainsworthe

portrait of a beautiful brown-haired woman in a flower wreath sitting in the autumn forest close to the harp

John Drake drove down the dirt road, scarcely wide enough to allow for two passing cars. He slowed down at every sign, hoping he would find the name of the turn located on the tattered, coffee-stained road map. After stopping for the fourth time, he pulled over to what once was a rest stop for would-be campers.

His eye caught the glimpse of something fleeing not far in the woods. A young woman, twentyish, wearing a flowing gown, with a ring of flowers on her head, and a light blue ribbon tied around her neck. Her fingers grazed lazily over the autumn leaves on a nearby tree limb above her head. She stopped and looked at him. Her eyes grew intense and seemed to communicate a sad, beckoning message. John swallowed hard. He sat straighter, and ran his finger between his turtleneck collar and his throat.

Why is she staring at me? Is she lost? There are no spring flowers now. Why does she have flowers in her hair?

As compelling as the image was, he forced himself to check the map again. When he looked up in her direction, she was still there, only deeper into the forest.

His hand shook as he grabbed the keys and got out of the car. He stood a moment, watching her, and then walked around the car to the edge of the gravel, where it met an overgrown path. She didn’t move, but seemed to study his form for a few seconds, before she turned and darted into the forest. His steps grew faster and faster till he was at a slow run.

She disappeared out of sight behind a clump of thick-trunked trees.

John stopped and turned in a complete circle. There was no sight of her. Which way had she gone? It had to be that way. Instinct took over as he trudged through the growth of trees and fallen dead tree trunks hosting clusters of mushrooms crossing his path. Still, no sight of her.
Is she in danger? Does she want me to help her in some way?

A small clearing came into view with an old cabin standing in the center. As he drew closer, John saw it was missing some of the planks used to make the walls, and had no door. The hole that must have held a window revealed that the damaged roof allowed a stream of sunlight to fill its interior.

I wonder if she’s in there? Why is she hiding from me?

John hurried to the cabin, then slowed his pace, suddenly apprehensive. He toured the perimeter, careful where he stepped for fear of finding a hole, or some abandoned well. Coming back around to the front, he noticed a pale blue ribbon on the step to the rickety porch. He bent down, picked it up, and rubbed the satin fabric between his fingers. She is real. This ribbon proves it. He peered cautiously into the cabin. Empty. He looked around again, squinting to sharpen his focus. He could see no sign of this mysterious woman. He stashed the souvenir in his pocket. Her image haunted him. He returned to the car and continued to his destination, hoping to find the peace and quiet he sought for his weekend retreat. Dust kicked up as he picked up speed.

Crossroads came into view, with what appeared to be an old general store on one corner. An old brown pickup truck stood under the shade of an enormous oak tree. John pulled into the makeshift parking lot of packed dirt, and grabbed his map before getting out of the car. He stepped onto the old porch and noted a hand-honed wooden rocker. The sound of creaking wood under each footstep announced his arrival before he opened the door.

John stood a moment, searching for someone to assist him. He spotted an older woman behind a rough-hewn wood counter. He noticed a thin gold wedding band on her finger.

“Hi, Ma’am. I’m new in town and need some directions.” He laid the map on the counter, and pointed to his desired target.

The woman leaned over the counter and studied the map. “Nice to meet you,” she said with a slow drawl. “I’m Mabel. My husband, Henry, is in the back.” She pointed over her shoulder. She took a pencil from the gray bun at the back of her head and made an X on the map. “You are here. You go down this road till you get to a Y. Take the right fork, and the next left will take you to the campsite. You should be able to find your way from there. There’s a sign. You can’t miss it.”

A stooped man with a weathered face came from the back and stood next to her. “Don’t drive too fast in these parts. We don’t fancy road kill ‘round here. Critters got a right to live, and we only kill for what we eat. No huntin’ for city sport—not fair to the animals.”
John shifted his weight. He picked up the map. “No chance of that. I’m here for some rest. I only brought a sketch pad and pens.”

“You’re a painter?” the man whom he assumed was Henry, stroked his chin.

“Yes.” John smiled. “Though I only do that for fun. I’m an investment broker.”

Mabel’s jaw set. “One of them that makes money from others—skinnin’ them alive and they don’t feel it until they’re near dirt poor.”

They’re not very friendly here. I better get moving before it’s dark.

He paused at the doorway, and turned back to the older couple. “Do you know of a young woman in her twenties around here? I saw her in the woods—thought she might need help so I stopped the car and tried to find her, but she vanished.”

The couple exchanged knowing glances.

After a moment, Henry stiffened his posture. “Nope. Don’t know of any person like that. Sure you aren’t seein’ things from lack of sleep? Been drivin’ too long?”

“I know what I saw.”

Maybe he’s right. Stress at work and the long hours driving could’ve played tricks with my eyes.

* * *

The stranger left far quicker than he arrived.

Mabel looked up at Henry. “You think he’ll get to where he needs to be?”

“Don’t know. City slickers can be a bit disbelievin’ with all their book learnin’.” He started stocking the fresh shipment of canned green beans from the cardboard box onto the shelf behind them. “We might not see him again. Might end up like the rest.”

Her brow furrowed, accentuating the look of worry. “I hope not. All-in-all, he seemed like a nice young man.” She gazed out the window. “He might be back for some fixin’s. Might need some spray for all those bugs in the cabin.”

“Don’t go fussin’.” Henry tossed the empty box to the others in the corner. “What’s meant to be will be. Nothin’ no one can do. If we see him again, then we will. If not, it’s nobody’s business.”

“You’re right.” She patted his hand on the counter. “I fret too much over things that’s none of my concern.”

* * *

John hadn’t slept well. He tossed and turned and couldn’t make out if he slept with one dream blending into the next, of it he spent his entire night looking at the shadows and images formed by the moonlight. The vision of the girl in the woods tormented him.

I know she is real. Why can’t I stop thinking about her? Why did that couple at the store act so odd when I mentioned what I saw?

He slung his legs over the edge of the bed, stood up and gave an expansive stretch and yawn. A well-worn coffeemaker stood on the small dresser along with Styrofoam cups, packets of instant coffee, sugar, and powdered creamer. He filled the coffeepot with water from the bathroom sink then poured the contents into the reservoir. He pressed the “on” button to boil the water.

Nothing happened.

He checked the wall socket and re-plugged the appliance. Still nothing—not even the faint sound of gurgling water. Damn it! Now I have to go back to that store and find out where people eat around here. Maybe I can buy a new coffeemaker.

John dressed quickly. He checked his pocket and pulled out the ribbon with his keys. He looked at it briefly then stuffed it into his shirt pocket.

The morning sun nearly blinded him, and he grabbed his sunglasses from the glove compartment. The drive seemed much shorter than he recalled yesterday. He didn’t need a map this time. He drove back to the general store as if he had driven this road numerous times before. I was so lost yesterday. Why do I know these roads so well now? Am I still dreaming?

This is weird.

John pulled into the same parking area. He got out and checked the money in his wallet, and hoped he had enough. He wondered if the older couple would accept credit cards.

He opened the door and walked straight to the counter. Mabel swept off dust with an old rag that must have seen better days.

He cleared his throat. “Ma’am, I was here yesterday asking for directions.”

Mabel gave no indication that he was there, nor that she heard him.

Henry came from the back with a large barrel of pickles supported on a hand truck, and un-packed them toward the entry. “I haven’t seen that young broker man—the one askin’ for directions,” he said.

John stepped toward Henry. “Are you blind? I’m standing right here in front of you.”

“Yup,” Mabel replied. “Guess he’s gone for good. Hope he finds out where he’s supposed to be.”

She brushed away a lock of gray hair from her forehead and secured it with a bobby pin from her apron pocket. “Hate to think he’ll get lost.”

John turned to the woman. “Why are you ignoring me? I am here, right in front of you,” He almost yelled, panic rising in his throat.

“Henry, do you think he really saw her in the woods?” Mabel placed her hands on hips.

“Don’t know. Might have.” He chuckled. “It’s not like he had proof—a picture or somethin’.”

John reached into his pocket and retrieved the blue ribbon. He waved it in the air. “Yes, I do have proof! Here it is. Right in my hand.”

Mabel and Henry took no notice.

What is wrong with these people? Are they purposely being rude? I’m from the big city—that means I don’t exist?

In exasperation, John slammed the ribbon down on the counter. It was his only proof that he had seen her and that she was real, but he didn’t care. What he saw and experienced the day before fell back to second place. He felt a new urgency to be somewhere, but didn’t know where that place was located. He headed for his car.

At the door he paused at the sound of Mabel’s voice, and turned around.

“That man was here. Look, Henry. Here’s the ribbon.” She took it from the counter and handed it to her husband.

“I’ll take care of it. Put it with the others.” He shuffled to a box under the far end of the counter.

“I wonder what he thought when we didn’t say a word to him when he was here.”

“I didn’t know he was here—not until that ribbon. Didn’t even feel a breeze.” A small smile curled at her lips. “Guess he hasn’t learned that skill yet.” She watched Henry carefully place the ribbon in the container. “When do you think they’ll find the body?”

“All depends how well that girl hid it.”

John’s mouth gaped open. They are totally nuts. I’ve entered some kind of twilight zone.

His car was gone.

In its place was the young woman in a flowing nightgown with a blue satin ribbon around her neck. Her arm reached out to him.

© 2016 Cynthia B Ainsworthe

Cynthia has longed to be a writer. Life’s circumstances put her dream on hold for most of her life. In 2006, she ventured to write her first novel, Front Row Center, which won the prestigious IPPY Award (Independent Publisher), as well as garnering numerous 5-star reviews, one from known Midwest Book Review. Front Row Center is the first book in the Forbidden Series.

This novel is now being adapted to screen. A script is in development by her and notable Hollywood screenwriter, producer, and director, Scott C. Brown. Remember?, and Forbidden Footsteps are books two and three in the Forbidden Series. She also contributed to the award-winning anthology, The Speed of Dark, compiled by Clayton C. Bye, published by Chase Enterprises Publishing. Cynthia enjoys retirement in Florida caring for her husband and their five poodle-children.
https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-B.-Ainsworthe/e/B00KYRE1Q8
https://www.cynthiabainsworthe.com

THE NEIGHBORHOOD WARS by Sal Buttaci

 

a

“Not anymore,” Giosif said. “Remember? It’s 2212. Nobody needs no permit to fire one of these.”

The old man shook his gray head as the boy tapped his thumb on the hammer of the gun.

“We gotta defend Dartmouth Street, Gramps. Ain’t no other way.”

“Don’t go out there. It ain’t safe,” he said, but even as he spoke the words, he knew warning him was a waste of time.

Great-grandpa Alowishis remembered when he was even younger than the boy. Porch-chair afternoons found his ears glued to the stories his own great-grandfather recounted of Old America when the national pastimes were baseball, football, hockey. It was a happy time when spectators in sweating shirts came in droves to cheer their teams.

Now the pastime was fear, a wave of quaking civilians cowering indoors behind their conviction that life was a brief candle. Still, the unwritten gang law of “Tutum Domi,” (safe at home) declared them untouchable. It was only a matter of time before home became a cell and death by escape seemed preferable to life by containment. A step outside meant leathered delinquents on the streets would snuff out that flickering flame.

He felt sorry for the twelve-year-old. The boy had lost his parents in the Neighborhood War. They had ventured from home onto Dartmouth Street, claiming some false sense of courage compelled them. The old man knew better; he called it reckless bravado, an agreed-upon pact to take that final walk.

Giosif’s father made light of the gunfire deafeningly flashing overhead. “We’ll pretend it’s a rainbow,” he joked. And Giosif’s surrogate-mother added, “Or an arch of flowers above us as we walk.” The two held hands but the old man could detect, even with fading eyesight, both their hands trembling.

They never came back.

Giosif and the old man. Prisoners in their stone house, nibbling rationed morsels unfit for rodents. How much longer? he wondered.

Suddenly, the stars and stripes of Old Glory waved proudly in the old man’s memory. He bit his lip to dispel it. He remembered placing his hand on his chest like school children of old who for so long recited allegiance to one nation, this nation, this home of the free and the brave and now the center of siege. Foreign oppressors he could have predicted, even in his youth. They stormed the skies, bombed the cities, planted their dark flags as they burned ours, but instead of freedom fighters banding together to save the nation, street gangs grew in numbers and strength. Their objective?  Retake the cities for themselves.

“Life’s different now,” Giosif said without looking up from the green Spetzer in his hand. Hypnotically he ran the chamois up and down the green triple barrel. “We gotta show them.” Show them what? the old man thought. That we could possibly put a stop to this? To these neighborhood terrorists? Even the Radical Armies are afraid to march down our streets!

“Ain’t a crime no more.

Then the boy walked towards the door, released the deadbolt, yanked down the chains, and stepped into the light of machinegun fire. He raised the shiny Spetzer, aimed it with a cool hand and fired at Clara somebody from Arbor Lane, Jacksonville Jack’s woman who co-led the Z-Ford bikers up and down city-block streets. Clara fell, her bike spinning where she lay.

“Stay your ass on K Street,” Giosif shouted at the dead woman.

Alowishis gasped and called to him. “Cold-blooded murder.” But the boy laughed, reloading for Jacksonville Jack. He’d take no chances. He vowed he would never make the mistake his close friend Daveed did. Turning his back on the street, heading back into his Dartmouth Street home, Daveed was shot dead by a survivor from a Harris Road family he was so sure he had wiped off the asphalt face of their street

Giosif walked backwards into the dark house. He shut the door, chained it, threw the deadbolt, and puffed his thin lips into a full-of-pride smile. Then someone knocked on the door. The only sound Giosif offered was the click of his Spetzer’s hammer.

“It’s me, Giosif. Your neighbor here on Dartmouth. Margie. Margie Pederson. You knew my dead husband Sam. Please let me in.”

His inner voice said No, let her die out there; that ain’t Sam’s widow, but tough boy with gun was still boy with a heart full of street honor. He unchained the door. Slid the deadbolt free. Expected Margie to dash inside quickly enough for him to slam the door behind her.

Instead, he saw Jack. Margie was gone. Armed with a Thompson-Abdul M9, Jack forced his way inside.

Straight off, he sprayed the peeling walls, then shot the boy. Giosef lay crumpled and bloody on the faded green living-room carpet, his unfired Spetzer clenched tightly in his hand, blue unblinking eyes locked open as though in rapt attention to what Jack had to say.

Alowishis furrowed his stubbled face into waves of wrinkled skin. Jack had set down his machinegun, then removed from his leather jacket a Ruger pistol, plunking the barrel hard against the old man’s temple

Giosif lay dead at his feet. Through the still-open door Alowishis could see the sun, so many years a stranger, sting his eyes. He shut them. Filled his mind with happier times. The Independence Day Parade up and down Dartmouth Street. The neighbors from every street and avenue marching proudly to patriotic tunes. Ice cream cones and blue cotton candy. Mayor Billy Quince shouting to visitors, “Welcome, neighbors! Welcome! Welcome!” Old Glory filled with the promise to wave forever.

The old man sighed at the volley of first fireworks.

Jack squeezed the trigger.

  * * *

Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer whose work has appeared widelyHe was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award.

His short-short fiction collections, published by All Things That Matter Press, are available at Amazon.com:

Flashing My Shortshttp://www.amazon.com/Flashing-My-Shorts-Salvatore-Buttaci/dp/0984259473

200 Shorts: http://www.amazon.com/200-Shorts-Salvatore-Buttaci/dp/0984639241/ref=sr_1_1?Ss=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314991699&sr=1-1

A Family of Sicilians, his book portraying a true image of what it means to be Sicilian, is available at https://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=A+FAMILY+OF+SICILIANS&type=

Sal Buttaci lives in Princeton, West Virginia, with his loving and much loved wife Sharon.

THE STING by Bryan Murphy

photo

Photo by Awersowy – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5930841

Portugal in the 1970s. Ed Scripps, a young expatriate English businessman, has lost his wife, his business and his money. Now an evil cult, which calls itself Pangaia, has sucked his best friend, Mark, into its clutches in order to get its hands on Mark’s newly acquired wealth. Ed is determined to rescue Mark, and enlists the help of Mark’s wife Simone, and other friends, to try to do so.

Ed took a dark Sagres beer from the fridge for inspiration. He had acclimatised so thoroughly that he now drank his beer cold, even in winter: the chill at the back of his throat added to the impact of that first swig. With the night’s third bottle, inspiration started to arrive. By the time the fifth empty bottle clinked into the waste bin, he had a plan.

In the cold light of day, Ed still thought his plan was a good one. He summoned the group to a meeting that evening and laid it before them. They thought it risky, but feasible. They would do it.

The next morning, Simone went to the bank and wired a significant sum of money from a joint account to the bank’s branch in Vila Abade, for Mark to pick up in person. One of the group, Luís, then phoned Pangaia, declared himself to be a senior clerk from the bank, and asked to speak to Mark. They told him Mark was unavailable but he could leave a message. Luís explained the transfer and said that Mark could collect his money the following day.

Early the next morning, Ed, Simone and Gabriela drove up to Vila Abade in a hired car. They parked near the police station in the small town and walked towards the bank, hurrying to keep out the winter chill as well as to get in position before the bank opened. They took up their places, in sight of each other, but with only one of them visible to the guard outside the bank, should he care to look in that direction.

They were counting on Jorge being keen to get his hands on Mark’s money as fast as possible, and they were not disappointed. Minutes after the bank opened, Ed saw Mark approach it, accompanied by three heavies. Ed pulled his borrowed hat down and hurried towards the bank, taking care to disguise his limp. He was the first customer to enter the bank, and he engaged the sole clerk already on duty in a discussion of how he might open an account there, spinning out the misunderstandings by making his Portuguese more rudimentary than it had been for years. The Pangaia group came in after him and had to wait. If Mark recognised Ed, he did not show it.

A blast of cold air came in as the door opened. Gabriela strode in, looking flustered and anxious. She asked who was last in the queue and started complaining loudly about bank staff always being late for work. The guard raised his eyebrows and closed the door on them. Mark’s escorts glared daggers at the foreigner separating them from Mark’s money. When Ed could spin out his request no further, and gave it up with many thanks to the bored clerk, the Pangaia group moved forward to take his place, but Gabriela brushed past them to the counter.

“Excuse me, I’m sorry, I just can’t wait! Show a little gallantry, gentlemen!”

“Hey! Who do you think you are!”

“Get out of the way, bitch!”

“We’re next! Not you, you stupid cow!”

They did not notice Simone enter. Mark did. He rushed to embrace her. As he did so, Ed started to yell.

“Help! It’s a robbery! Help!!”

Gabriela began to scream. The clerk pressed the alarm button. The guard ran in, gun in hand, and saw the heaviest of Pangaia’s disciples with his thick arms around Mark’s neck. The guard felled him with a blow from the barrel of the gun, then pointed it at the other two heavies who scrambled to tend to their fallen companion.

“Stop where you are! You’re all under arrest!”

The above is an extract from Revolution Number One, the forthcoming novel by British author Bryan Murphy. Bryan welcomes visitors to his website at http://www.bryanmurphy.eu You can find a selection of his e-books here: viewAuthor.at/BryMu

Parole

 By Micki Peluso

 

a (3)

Rita counted the days. Her mental competency hearing was a week away. Convince these morons I am sane and I am outta here, she thought. Of course she was sane, no doubt of it. Imprisoned by a biased Judge and a jury of rednecks. Just let me get out of this hellhole and they will see how sane I am. These thoughts kept her calm.

          She pretended to take her mind-altering prescription drugs from the prison matron, then spit them in the toilet of her small cubicle. One more week. She could wait. Years had passed, waiting. Soon a trip home to see her husband, ex actually, since the bastard chose to divorce her while she was incarcerated. Like he hadn’t helped her beat up the kid. Rita had told him she never wanted a brat anyway. But she was here and he was out free. It ate at her like a canker sore, but not for long-not for long. And their little girl, grown now after five years. What would she be now? Ten years old, about. Probably don’t remember her dear ole Mom, Rita thought. She will when I get out. Oh she will. and her father more so.

Rita faced the panel of parole officers, the Warden, social worker, shrink, etc., on the date of her hearing. Her once rosy complexion was pale from years of prison life-her drab green prison garb accentuated it. Still the glitter from her steely gray-blue eyes,held a madness she fought to conceal. Beneath a mop of ash-blonde hair, her face held a reminder of cruel beauty, not quite lost.

The panel was a somber group. Suited men, suited women, wearing a facade of importance and fake concern. God how Rita hated these hypocrites. She hid it well, sitting demurely before them, with as much innocence as she could portray and still be believable. This had to work. She must get out-there were debts to pay, and Rita was never one not to meet her responsibilities. Dick and Melissa first on her list, then her parents. Could she stop then? Rita had no idea but just the idea of killing gave her an orgasm of such intensity that she had to cross her legs to keep from crying out.

The snob panel did not seem to notice. They sorted and shifted paperwork, in preparation for her question and answer session that would decide her fate. Rita was ready. Let the inquisition begin.

“Rita,” asked the psycho therapist. “Have you learned from your years with us?”

“Yes Ma’am, so much that it would take a month of Sundays just to tell ya about it.”

“I see. And do you think you can live outside and be a credit to the community? When you answer, please give me details.”

” Ma’am, I know I can. I have learnt so much from you and everyone here. I have become a new woman. I’ve been thinkin’
 on how much my baby girl needs her Mama. I’ve lost so many years I intend to make up for them if I can, in the best way I know how.” Rita lowered her head at the appropriate moment.

“Rita, it will not be easy to establish a relationship with your daughter,” the social worker, interjected. “you will need a lot of support.”

“I realize that Ma’am, a big job, I reckon, and it will take time, but I got plenty of that.”

The Warden spoke next. “You do understand, Rita, that on parole, you will be required to report to your parole officer once a week, should we agree to return you to society?”

“Yes sir, I know that. I will comply with anything you want me to do.”

“You realize that we have petitions from your family asking us not to let you go.”

“No Sir, I didn’t know that. I will promise to stay away from them if that is your wish, much as I love them.”

“Rita,” the Warden added, rising from his seat. “We expect you to do just that. If you go anywhere near them, except for monitored visits with your daughter, you will be immediately brought back, in violation of parole. Is this perfectly clear ?”

” Yes Sir,” Rita nodded, with a face sincere and sad enough to convince them. She was edgy now. Her freedom was at stake.

“Leave us now, Rita,” the Warden advised her. “We will discuss your parole request and inform you of our decision by the latter part of the week.”

The news came to Rita as she was folding prison laundry. Her psychologist brought her the answer.

“Rita, the panel has decided in your favor. I am happy to bring this news and hope you will make a worthwhile life for yourself.”

“Thanks, Ma’am, this means so much to me. I won’t disappoint you.”

The therapist smiled, shook her hand and told her to call her if she had any problems. It was done. Rita was free. Her breast swelled with emotion. At long last, her revenge would begin. And after killing those who had rejected her, Rita would be happy. If not, there were always more to kill.

 

Micki Peluso began writing after a personal tragedy, which lead to  publication in Victimology: An International Magazine and a 25 year career in Journalism. She’s been staff writer for one major newspaper and freelanced for two more. Twelve of her award winning short fiction and slice of life stories are published in anthologies, magazines and e-zines. Her debut book was published in 2012; a funny family memoir of love, loss and survival, called, . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG which won the Nesta CBC Silver Award for writing that builds character. She is presently working on a collection of short fiction, slice of life stories and essays, in a book called, DON’T PLUCK THE DUCK. Her debut children’s book, ‘The Cat Who Wanted a Dog’ will be released in May, 2016.

 

http://www.mallie1025.blogspot.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/And-Whippoorwill-Sang-Micki-Peluso-ebook/dp/B007OWPBGK/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdt_img_top?ie=UTF8

Family Man By Patricia Dusenbury

c

A family man and proud of it, Rick Stelljes enjoyed his kids’ dinner table chatter. Johnny’s class took a field trip to the aquarium; Linda thought she’d aced her geometry test.

“Keep it up, Baby,” he told her. “You’re gonna be the first Stelljes to graduate college, and it’s gonna be a big-name school.”

“Daddy.” She smiled indulgently. “Everyone from Windsor Prep goes to a good college.”

Headlights flickered through the drapes; someone was pulling up in front. Richie went to check – people here parked in driveways – and saw the kid next door getting dropped off. He sat back down.

“I’m going to Harvard,” Johnny said.

“You get in, son, I’ll pay for it.”

No one had ever asked Rick about his day at his stinking dump of a school. The smartest kid in the class, he’d made up for it by being the meanest. He would have been dead or in prison by eighteen if Mr. Dee hadn’t taken an interest in him, hadn’t become like a father to him. He’d been working for Mr. Dee twenty years now. Married to Tanya for fifteen. Every day of his life, he thanked God for his good luck.

Johnny and Linda went upstairs to do their homework, and Tanya asked if he wanted an after-dinner drink.

“Not tonight, baby. I’ve got a late meeting.” He pushed back from the table. “Time for me to go.”

“I wish you didn’t have to.”

Rick also wished he didn’t have to. He liked Billy Balfour, but Billy had crossed a line. “I won’t be late. You make sure those kids do their homework.”

“They’re good kids.”

“I know. And you’re a good mom.” He stood and kissed the top of his wife’s head.

Walking through the family room on his way to the garage, Rick admired the leather sofas and the wide-screen TV. At 72 inches, it really was a home theater. When he got back, he and Tanya could watch a movie, something light. He was going to need to decompress.

The monitor mounted on the garage wall showed multiple pictures of a quiet yard and an empty street. Rick pushed a button and a section of wall swung away, revealing the cabinet that held his guns. He selected a Glock 9mm and an AWC Abraxis supressor. The Abraxis didn’t muffle the noise as well as his Osprey, but it was lighter and smaller, which could be important tonight. After another check of the monitor, Rick slid behind the wheel, turned the key in the ignition, and pressed the garage door opener.

Tomorrow or the day after, they’d find Billy, shot twice through the back of his head. The news would call it an execution, and they’d be right. More important, people who might have been tempted to try some free-lancing would be reminded that Mr. Dee didn’t tolerate disloyalty, and Rick Stelljes would have another $25,000 to keep his family safe and comfortable.

 

 

Bio:  Patricia Dusenbury is a retired economist and the author of the Claire Marshall trilogy, which if it had a name, would be called A Path Through the Ashes. The first book, A Perfect Victim, was named 2015 best mystery by the Electronic Industry Publishing Coalition. The second book, Secrets, Lies & Homicide, is a Preditors and Editors top ten mystery. Book 3, A House of Her Own, was released in October.  This nasty little story was inspired by a conversation with a friend who is a criminal defense attorney.  Are you sure you know where your neighbor works?

 

Web page:  www.PatriciaDusenbury.com

Why does an Englishman write American crime? by R.J. Ellory

photo for wed october 26

This is a question I have been asked so many times.  Enough times for me to take a long look at it, if for no other reason than to have an answer next time I am asked.

Paul Auster said that becoming a writer was not a ‘career decision’ like becoming a doctor or a policeman.  You don’t choose it so much as get chosen, and once you accepted the fact that you were not fit for anything else, you had to be prepared to walk a long, hard road for the rest of your days, and I concur with his attitude.

I feel the same way about genres.  I think the genre chose me, as opposed to my choosing the genre.

The thing that has always fascinated me, and the thing that I believe is the only thing that fascinates authors really, is people.  It’s that simple.

Life is people.  People are life.  Without people there is nothing to talk about, nothing worth saying.

And why American crime?  Because such a genre presents me with a broad canvas, and upon that canvas I can write conspiracy, thriller, romance, history, politics, social commentary.  I think US crime holds a mirror up to society better than any other genre.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly for me, crime gives me an opportunity to present my ‘people’ with situations that they would never experience in ordinary life.  This then gives me possibility of putting those people through the mill emotionally, and that is where my true interest lies.

So that is where my selection of genre and subject matter comes from, and right from the first book – Candlemoth – I have tried to create real and believable characters and storylines that have this American cultural and political background.  Candlemoth is the story of two boys, one black, one white, who grow up together from the early 50’s in North Carolina.  It tracks through that time period – up through the death of JFK and Martin Luther King, through Nixon and Watergate, all the significant political and social events of that time.  The story is told in flashback from the perspective of the main protagonist, the white boy now in his 30s, who is on Death Row for the murder of his black friend.  The events are recounted to a Catholic priest sent to reconcile the man to his execution, and it deals with the events that brought him there and how he was consigned to such a fate.  Ghostheart is told from the perspective of the central female character, a young woman who – by the discoveries she makes in the pages of a book – learns the history of New York gangland and underworld figures in the 50s and 60s, and ultimately how this history relates to herself and her own life.  A Quiet Vendetta is a five hundred-page epic that deals with seventy years of accurate Mafia history throughout New York, LA, Chicago, Miami, Havana, and numerous other cities, and is a story told through the eyes of a young man who becomes a hitman for organised crime.  City of Lies is a fast-paced thriller that deals with the lives and crimes of a group of elderly gangsters in Manhattan, and how they use their influence to seduce a younger man into a criminal lifestyle.  It concludes with four violent high-powered armed robberies in four different banks in New York City on Christmas Eve.  A Quiet Belief In Angels is the biography of a young boy growing up in Georgia in the 1930 and 40s, and how his entire life is affected by the killing of a number of young girls in his hometown.  A Simple Act of Violence is essentially two stories – a series of contemporary killings in Washington DC and how these killings are linked to the undercover actions of the CIA in Nicaragua in the 1980s.  The Anniversary Man, is the story of a serial killing survivor who works with the Police to uncover the identity of someone perpetrating killings in New York who is copying famous serial killings of the past and carrying them out of the anniversary of their original occurrence.  Lastly, Saints of New York, deals with corruption within the Organised Crime Control Bureau, child prostitution, the burdens of one policeman against a system that does anything but acknowledge and reward honesty.

I believe that crime fiction is the most widely-read genre fiction in the world currently.  I hope that it will stay that way.  I think – as a genre – it excites, evokes emotion, stimulates mentally, engages, mystifies, perplexes, and pleases readers greatly.  We love puzzles.  We love the dilemmas of ordinary people presented with extraordinary situations.  We love to be challenged.  Is that not the index of a healthy and inquisitive mind, and thus a healthily inquisitive society?  We want to know more.  We want to find out.  We want truth and justice.  And – if we cannot find it within our culture – we have to be reassured that it is still possible within the pages of a book.

 

R.J. Ellory’s wife thinks he is a workaholic, his son considers him slightly left-of-centre, but they put up with him regardless.  Everybody knows that as a writer and musician, Roger is dedicated to the best in his craft. Having suffered incredible loss after loss in his youth, it would have been easy for R.J. to turn his  brilliance to crime, but fortunately for Britain and us, he has taken to writing great crime fiction instead.

COMING SOON FOR THOSE WHO LOVE TO READ

Not only are the members of The Write Room Blog fine authors, but we are also prolific and wide-ranging. Here are some of the new books from the gang. Some are already available and others will be out soon. All are worth reading. So check the inventory, make your wish list, and get set for a good read.

1) From Frank Fiore “MURRAN” the story of a Black American boy coming of age in the 1980s and his rite of passage to adulthood. Trey is a member of a tribe in Brooklyn and is enticed into helping a drug gang. Eventually he is framed for murder and flees with his high school teach to the teacher’s Maasai village in Kenya. There Trey learns true Black African values and culture, goes through the Maasai warrior’s rite of passage, and becomes a young shaman. Returning to America to confront the gang leader who framed him, Trey teaches the values of the Maasai to his tribe in Brooklyn.

2) Suppose your acts and deeds in life were exposed?  What if darkness spread throughout the world, its evil feeding each person’s inner fears, terrorizing their bodies, minds and souls?  Monica Brinkman’s stand-alone sequel to “The Turn of the Karmic Wheel” aptly titled, “THE WHEEL’S FINAL TURN” takes us to Northern California where one woman holds the power to control the world’s destiny.  Brinkman presents a page-turning adventure of horror, the paranormal and spirituality. Watch for its release in 2015.

3) From Anne Sweazy Kulju comes “GROG WARS: PART 1.” Who will win the war for love and beer? A self-made German brewer endures the cross-Atlantic “coffin ship”, braves the savage-infested Oregon Trail and is threatened with Shanghai.  He becomes wealthy, but he would give it all for the love of his woman–while a lesser man would take it all and rid of the woman.  Let the battles begin!

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4) Chase Enterprises Publishing is now taking pre-orders for a stunning memoir from a woman who has lived nearly 40 years with the deadly disease, anorexia. Eileen Rand’s story, “NOTHING ON THE FIELD: A message of hope from a recovering anorexic” is a brutally honest account of her terrible struggle while also offering up hope to others with eating disorders. Clayton Bye, her recorder, recommends the memoir to anyone who has ever faced adversity in their lives or who simply wants to know what this killer disease is all about. Avoid the rush and order yours now at ccbye@shaw.ca.

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5) Discover the passion for not only cooking, but for enriching the joie de vivre! Recipes that create delicious entertaining and romantic conclusions. Whether cooking for two or more, these easy dishes will enhance any occasion and can turn an ordinary eating experience into a memorable event. Intermingled between luscious pictures of recipes, are gorgeous photos of men to spice the cook’s creative energy. A romantic story thread begins after the first recipe and concludes following the last menu suggestion of cheese and wine. “FRONT ROW CENTER’S PASSION IN THE KITCHEN” is a great addition to any cook’s collection and is the go-to book when desiring originality with a flare. Winner of multiple literary awards, Cynthia B. Ainsworthe delivers more than tasty meals.

6) Kansas, 1959. A traveling carnival appears overnight in the small town of Seneca Falls, intriguing the townsfolk with acts of inexplicable magic and illusion. But when a man’s body is discovered beneath the carousel, with no clue as to his identity, FBI Special Agent Michael Travis is sent to investigate.  Led by the elusive Edgar Doyle, the carnival folk range from the enigmatic to the bizarre, but none of them will give Travis a straight answer to his questions. With each new turn of the investigation, Doyle and his companions challenge Travis’s once unshakeable faith in solid facts and hard evidence.  In “CARNIVAL OF SHADOWS,” his powerful, atmospheric thriller, bestselling author R.J. Ellory introduces the weird and wonderful world of the Carnival Diablo and reveals the dark secrets that lurk at its heart.

7) Santa is better known then ever, and the world is getting busier. But he still has to deliver the presents. How will he get the goodies to all the children in time? Watch for the e-book and enhanced e-book of “SANTA’S DOPPELGANGER” coming soon from Stuart Carruthers.

8) Looking for a collection of multi-genre short stories, funny bittersweet slice of life experiences, essays and a smattering of poetry to laugh at, relate to and treasure? Be prepared for “DON’T PLUCK THE DUCK” by Micki Peluso, a reading experience to remember. Available soon on Amazon and everywhere enjoyable books are found.

9) “ANGELS VERSUS VIRGINS”. The twisted mind of author Bryan Murphy mingles with that of a teenage boy in this short, sharp tale of football and fanaticism with a bitter-sweet ending.

10) “SHADOW OF DOUBT” by Nancy Cole Silverman — When a top Hollywood Agent is found poisoned in her bathtub, suspicion quickly turns to one of her two nieces. But Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station, doesn’t believe it. The suspect is her neighbor and friend, and also her primary source for insider industry news. After a media frenzy pits one niece against the other—and the body count starts to rise—Carol knows she must save her friend from the court of public opinion. But even the most seasoned reporter can be surprised. When a Hollywood psychic warns Carol there will be more deaths, things take an unexpected turn. Suddenly, nobody is above suspicion. Carol must challenge friendship and the facts, and the only thing she knows for certain is that the killer is still out there. And, the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she’s in.

11) Rosemary “Mamie” Adkins new book is “MAGGIE’S KITCHEN TAILS: Dog Treat Recipes and Puppy Tales to Love.” It is inspired by her dog Maggie, who rescued Mamie many times when she got into trouble with her blood pressure and diabetes, waking her when they crashed.  Maggie is now in training as a Service Dog.  She was severely abused as a puppy creating serious health issues for Maggie, which forced Mamie and her husband Doug to learn what foods were healthy and to create special recipes for their canine companion. Many of those recipes are included in the book; all of them are human grade and with added spices can be enjoyed by humans. A potion of each book’s sale will be donated to benefit animals suffering from the effects of abuse that are needing to be re-homed. Mamie’s co-authors for this book are her husband Douglas E. Adkins, Martha Char Love and Linda Victoria Hales. Copies can be reserved in advance.

12) “BACKWOODS BOOGIE” by Trish Jackson (just released on November 14th) is the third  book in Trish’s romantic comedy Redneck P.I. Mystery Series. Twila Taunton can’t allow gentle Pam Taylor to go to prison for a murder she did not commit, and sets out to hunt down the real killer, with the help of her quirky cohorts. When she discovers an illegal puppy mill, and a possible dog fighting ring, Twila calls on a vigilante biker gang and her long distance lover, Harland to help.

13) “VIRGO’S VARIANT” is Trish Jackson’s third story in her Zodiac Series, where each heroine belongs to a different star sign and exhibits the typical traits of her sign. “Virgo’s Variant” is a romantic suspense thriller about a reality show gone terribly wrong. It is available for preview on Amazon’s Kindle Scout program, where the power goes to the readers, who are the judges. If you have an Amazon account, please click on the link and if you like the story, Trish would love you to nominate it

14) Eduardo Cervino’s (writing as E.C. Briefield) upcoming novel “ALLIGATOR ISLAND” is based on his last years living in the Island of Cuba, during the Castro revolution. Revolutions, like alligators, have a nasty habit of eating their young. When moonlight bathes the Florida Strait, you might see Cubans escaping north aboard rickety rafts. The price of the perilous trip is fear, tears, and laughter if they succeed, or death for those who fail. These men and women carry nothing but dreams of freedom for themselves and hopes of prosperity for their children. The ninety miles between Havana and Key West may well be the most dangerous adventure of their lives. The spirits of countless Cubans who have drowned in the salty waterway cannot always steer away the sharks circling the flimsy rafts. This is the story of one such trip.

15) D. M. Pirrone’s “SHALL WE NOT REVENGE” is “a deeply nuanced mystery bolstered by fine writing and attention to historical detail” (Kirkus starred review, August 2014).  In the harsh early winter of 1872, Irish Catholic detective Frank Hanley must solve the brutal murder of an Orthodox rabbi.  Aided by the dead man’s daughter Rivka, who defies her community to help track down her father’s killer, Hanley unravels a web of corruption and deceit that ultimately forces a showdown with a powerful gambling king and nemesis from his own shady past.

16) Talk about homecomings . . . Thanks to suspended animation during his missions, Turtan, humanity’s greatest hero, returns to the space academy where he graduated 4,000 years before.  John B. Rosenman’s novel “DEFENDER OF THE FLAME” is Book III in his Inspector of the Cross series, and thanks to MuseItUp Publishing, it will blast into outer space this winter.  For 4,000 years, Inspector Turtan has traveled on freeze ships to investigate reports of weapons or devices that might turn the tide against our heartless and seemingly invincible alien enemy, the Cen.  If it weren’t for him, we would have lost the war and been annihilated centuries ago.  Now, at long last, Turtan believes he has found a way to defeat the foe and save us.  But is he only deluded?  Read the series and find out!

17) Set to be released by Christmas of 2014, “IT’S BAD BUSINESS” by R.L. Cherry is the second in the Morg Mahoney, P.I. series.  The investigator with a tongue as lethal as her revolver is back with a vengeance and the bad guys learn she is no wimpy woman.  She’s Morg, and that says it all. With a tip of the fedora to Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon,” the story even includes a Sam Spade who helps Morg at key moments.

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18) “THE MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN,” John B. Rosenman’s novel about three boys growing up in the fifties is now also available as an audio book.  It is narrated by Aze Fellner and available on iTunes, audible.com, and amazon.com.  If you think the fifties were conservative and innocent, think again.  Sex, violence, and mayhem abounded, and that was on a quiet night.  The story stars a boy with an Orthodox Jewish father who sternly discourages his two immense gifts.  Johnny is potentially an unbeatable heavyweight boxer and a sublime expressionistic painter.  The other two boys, a black kid from the ghetto, and a born Romeo with a gift for football, ain’t bad either.

19) John B. Rosenman is Bundling these days.  MuseItUp Publishing has just released “THE AMAZING WORLDS OF JOHN B. ROSENMAN” – Don’t put him down for being conceited.  The publisher picked the title!  It’s 592 pages and 4 complete, mind-blowing books.  Pre-order until November 21 at a special low price.  Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and more.  Dark Wizard.  Dax Rigby, War Correspondent.  More Stately Mansions.  Plus The Blue of Her Hair, the Gold of Her Eyes, winner of Preditor’s and Editor’s 2011 Reader’s Poll for SF/F.

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20) Ken Weene’s “BROODY NEW ENGLANDER” is a collection of three tales set in Maine. Beneath the Down East quiet, emotions roil and passions burn. These are tales of desire, lust, and yes, of love. Stories of fidelity and deceit, of anger and repentance, of youth and aging, of birth and death. They celebrate the prose poetry that is life.

21) Coming soon from Ken Weene,  “TIMES TO TRY THE SOUL OF MAN,” crime fiction based on real events and including previously untold facts about the attacks of 9/11. It is also a story of coming of age in 1990s America replete with drugs, alcohol, sex, unrequited love, and the search for life’s meaning.

Stiletto

Warning:  This story contains explicit language.

 

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What happens when society begins to paint individuals in colours they don’t like? Well, I think I have an answer for you. And it begins and ends with my stiletto. This was a blade I had fashioned a few years ago, as part of my Knights Templar collection. But unlike my ceremonial swords and daggers, this piece was battle ready. Good strong steel, utilitarian design—its point proclaiming its wicked function; this triangular blade was made for stabbing.

A stiletto, you see, traditionally refers to a type of knife blade which is triangular in design rather than flat. It’s also longer than an average blade. And while it’s often referred to as a knife, a better term would be a dagger or a sword dagger―due to the cross piece between the handle and the blade. The triangular construction of the blade makes for dull edges. On the other hand, the blade is strong, much stronger than a normal knife. And then there’s that extremely sharp point. It’s this function that makes the blade ideal for stabbing, and in the past it was known to be damned good at passing through the ribs to get at the heart or lungs of an enemy.

The Italians developed the stiletto in the late 1400’s, when the art of the Vendetta, or honor duel, was openly practiced by the noble and the wealthy. A rapier (long, thin sword) would be held in one hand, and a stiletto dagger with wide cross guard would be held in the other. The stiletto could be used to fend off an opponent’s sword or catch and trap it along the cross guard. It could even be used for attacking.

The blade was also made in circular and diamond shapes, but they all had the common needle-like point. So popular were these blades that they went on to be adopted by professional assassins as their weapon of choice, both for the stabbing ability and because the dagger could be easily hidden on the body. In fact, the stiletto was so effective that entire countries banned its use.

And so we come to another reason I had the stiletto made. It was as a thumb-jerk reaction to the Mounties pulling my gun license. You see, I’d grown up with rifles and such, and right or wrong, I’d always felt safer knowing there was that kind of protection in my home. You might ask “Protection from what?” Home invasion, the drunks that have twice tried to break into my home, societal breakdown, war—I could name any number of reasons, and they would all seem somehow less frightening, because I had a good weapon at hand. Anyway, now, due to the onset of Bipolar Disorder and a three week hospital stay, I was suddenly unfit to be around firearms. I had been banned from owning or using them―painted by the same brush as those ancients who would have used the stiletto. Well fuck them; I was going to have protection. And I loved the deliciously circular nature of my situation and weapon of choice.

You see, the situation I alluded to at the beginning of my little story has nothing to do with the original issue of protection. It’s about justice…an eye for an eye. You know, that fucking McGonagle didn’t even get jail time. Road conditions, they said. Black ice, they said. Yeah, that’s why my baby’s chest was flattened. Not because the asshole was driving too fast, but because the road was icy, and Penny had enjoyed a couple of drinks before heading out for the evening. My ass. Penny would never have been that close to the side of the road, drunk or not. She always walked as far away as she could get from traffic. Her mom had lost a brother to a drunk driver, and there was no way Penny was going to repeat the tragedy. No, the fuck was driving too fast for the road condition and lost control of the vehicle. I knew it. So did he. I’d seen it in his eyes—they gleamed when the verdict was announced.

Well, I was going to fix him. No more thinking about it over and over and over again. The time had come to clear my mind. I stuck the stiletto in my waistband, the cold metal burning against my bared flesh, and I headed out. McGonagle was going get it right under the rib cage and straight up into his black, fucking heart.

I waited until midnight. The cops should have gotten their quota of drunk drivers by then. The town would be quiet, but there would still be enough traffic that I wouldn’t stand out. When I got to his place, I left the car on the street and walked up to the darkened house. I wasn’t worried about getting caught, see? But I wasn’t going give the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) a slam dunk, either. Trying to act like I belonged there, I went to the front door and pretended to jiggle the lock with my car keys. I needn’t have worried; the idiot didn’t lock his door at night.

Now for the tough part. There were going be two kids and a wife in the house. I’d cased the place and had figured out everyone slept upstairs. Kids at the back of the house and the parents up front. Their door would be right near the top of the stairs.

I went into the house, took the stairs quietly in my soft-soled Keds, and opened the nicely weighted, oak bedroom door without hesitation, without sound. I was going to get one shot at this, and I wasn’t wasting a second. The streetlights, shining through a large window, illuminated both the man and the woman.

I’m never going to forget McGonagle’s face… My luck, he was sleeping on his back. I walked around the bed, lifted his blanket and I shoved that steel pin as hard and as deep as I could. He made a huff and his eyes opened. I shoved my face into his and leaned into the weapon. It was just like killing a trapped fox. Take hold of the chest and keep the pressure on until the heart stops. He was trying to buck now. I didn’t want to have to deal with his wife, so, keeping one foot on the floor, I laid down right on top of him. There was very little blood. A stiletto is like a wedge, and it doesn’t have grooves for bloodletting and easy removal like a hunting knife has. No, the thing went in and stayed put until I wanted it to come back out.

And that’s why I say it begins and ends with the stiletto. There’s only one place in Canada that makes a dagger like that. If the cops were on the ball, they’d find out I bought one. But it wasn’t going to be a free throw by any means. I paid cash for the blade, used a fake name and had it sent to a U.S. mail drop. We Canadians have a lot of those drops just over the American border. They don’t care what’s in a box. Don’t even care where it’s from.

So, yes, there was that paper trail, but I bought enough in the way of weapons and supplies, I was hoping it was never put together. And when the cops asked me about it, well,  I wouldn’t know what they were talking about.  “I collect swords, gentlemen,” I would say. “Used to collect rifles, too.” Then I’d pause… “No, the only knives I have are a hunting knife and a set of carving knives.” Hopefully they would be stumped.

Anyway, I’m home now. McGonagle’s wife didn’t wake up. Even when the prick shit himself. It’s late, my clothes have been burned, the stiletto’s gone forever. And I’m nursing a double shot of Blair Athol single malt, rare, 27 years-old and the perfect end to a very good day.

 

Copyright  2014 Clayton Clifford Bye

LAST SUPPER by Roger Ellory

 

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For some considerable time, David had known he would kill his wife.

David was a creature of habit, and yet he had learned to accept his anonymity and predictability as a blessing, not a curse.  He rose at the same time, dressed in clothes indistinguishable from those he wore on any other day, ate the same breakfast, took the same route to work.  He filed insurance claims until lunchtime, and then he walked to the park.  Here he sat for forty-eight minutes to read the newspaper, to eat his sandwich, and then he walked back to the office.  To him, this routine had become a comfort.

David had made no definite plans as to the means of disposal for her body, nor how he would explain her sudden disappearance to family, friends and neighbors.  Perhaps he believed that once the deed was done he would be struck by a brilliant solution, a streak of lightning, a bolt from the blue.

David had decided the manner of her death, however.

He would stab her in the eye.

The chosen instrument of death was not a knife, but a knitting needle.  He had bound half its length in duct tape so as to provide a firm grip, yet with six inches exposed he believed that the needle – if driven suddenly, and with sufficient force – would pass directly through her eye and into the brain.  There would be little, if any, blood, and death would be instant.  She had given him fifteen years of comfortable, predictable marriage, and he did not wish to cause her any undue pain or distress.

In fact, David did not think of it so much as a murder, but more of an execution for some unknown crime.

And so it was, on a cool summer evening, that David and his wife sat at the kitchen table to eat.  She had prepared a chicken salad and opened a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.  They ate in near-silence, the stillness punctuated by the odd pleasantry, the fact that rain had been expected but not arrived.

“Perhaps tomorrow”, David had commented, finding it ironic that he was mentioning something of which she would know nothing.

David sat calmly, the knitting needle beneath his thigh.  He felt a sense of philosophical resignation regarding the inevitability of what was about to happen.

There would be no struggle, no raised voices, no desperate drama as she fought against hands tightening around her throat.  There would be no blood spatter, no scuff-marks from frantic heels against the linoleum.

She would find herself at dinner, and then she would be dead.

Perhaps she would not even notice.

“You’re having no wine?” he asked her.

“No,” she said.  “I have a slight headache.  The wine will worsen it.”

It was then that David experienced a sudden pang of something.

She had smiled at him, and smiled in such an innocent and unaffected way, and there had almost been a sense of sadness in her tone.

She could not know what he had planned, for he had planned nothing beyond her death.

She could not suspect him of any deceit.

Each day had been the same.  He had done the same things, expressed the same thoughts with the same words, continued with routines that had remained constant and unchanging for years.  In fact, it was safe to say that the single most defining characteristic of their marriage was that nothing ever happened.

But now he was feeling something.  Was it regret?  Guilt?  Was he even now questioning the determination he had made to kill her?  Why was he experiencing this sense of disorientation, a feeling of agitation in his stomach, a fleeting wave of nausea?

Why did he now feel so weak, so uncertain?

He opened his mouth to speak.

His words were thoughts, but they were not sounds.

She looked at him, the same sense of sadness in her eyes.

The stab of pain in his gut was breathtaking.  It snatched every molecule of air from his lungs and throat.

He had never felt anything like it.

The pain did not last so long – thirty seconds, perhaps forty.

He felt his cheek against the plate of moist salad, and then he felt nothing at all.

David’s wife carried the wine bottle and the glass to the sink.  She was methodical as she washed them, ensuring every grain of sediment was removed from both.

And then she stood in the kitchen doorway, and she looked at her dead husband, and she believed that during the last days – as she had planned his murder – she had felt more than enough emotion to compensate for a decade and a half of feeling nothing at all.

 

As if writing powerful crime novels were not enough, British writer Roger Ellory is also a musician. Indeed, making music may be the greater of his two loves. RJ is guitarist and vocalist with Zero Navigator.  To find RJ’s books in the US visit

http://www.amazon.com/R.J.-Ellory/e/B002IVGFJO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1403962252&sr=8-1
In England use
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roger-Jon-Ellory/e/B002IVGFJO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1403962965&sr=1-1-catcorr