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105
jack coey
10-15-2013
02:05 PM ET (US)
                           Jack Coey
Evelyn

Evelyn worked at the nursing home and you could tell by looking at her she liked to eat. So I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when she said yes to my offer to take her to the steakhouse. I helped lift her into the cab, and we drove to the steakhouse, and I wasn’t more than halfway through my beer as she wolfed down a plate of chicken wings. She attacked a plate of ribs and had sauce on her face that made her look like a clown. She told me her mother watched soap operas, and it got so bad she thought the characters were real. Her mother had a poodle which she lavished excessive attention on while not seeming (she excused herself to belch.) to feel the same way about her daughter. I thought about a way to suggest to her to take a napkin and wipe the sauce off her face, but couldn’t think of how to do it, so I let it ride. A guy at another table gave me a nod as if to say, “Hey, dude, you got yourself quite the lovely.” I didn’t give a shit really. He didn’t know the story. I saw her daiquiri was empty, and the waitress came over, and asked her if she wanted another, which of course she did, and the waitress suggested bringing some more napkins, and still she didn’t get the hint. I smiled, it was funny, really. I was putting a piece of steak in my mouth, and I swear I heard her, and when I looked at her, she was innocent like nothing happened. I waited to smell something, and I did. I waved my hand in front of my face. I couldn’t bring myself to take another bite. A twenty dollar steak lying there in front of me: a virgin. She said she had to go to the ladies room, and from the smell, I didn’t think otherwise. She pried herself out between the bench and the table and the non-sauce part of her face was red with exertion. As she waddled off, the wise ass guy from the other table gave me a smirk again and I thought, fuck you.


I apologized to the waitress when she brought Evelyn’s daiquiri for ordering another drink piggy-back, and she left napkins on the table. I was taking the second sip from the whisky, when I saw Evelyn waddling toward me, the sauce still on her face. The table got jammed into my gut when she pried herself in between the table and bench. She started her second assault on the ribs, and I guessed she must have missed the mirror in the ladies’ room. She talked, between chewing on ribs, about her job in the nursing home how inspired she is by the dignity with which some people suffer and die. She talked about a client who was in pain who never raised his voice or spoke harshly to her even though he was suffering. It was painful for me to listen to her talk, and I took a big gulp of whisky to control my feelings. The waitress asked how everything was, and Evelyn ordered a chocolate sundae. I must say I was taken back by her eating habits; whenever I saw her at the nursing home she was always appropriate and reserved.
“What’s your problem?” I said to the jerk at the next table who made faces at Evelyn’s bad behavior. I didn’t hear whatever he said, but I landed the first punch, and the next I knew I was on the floor, and I could hear screaming.

I woke up in a jail cell with two other guys and the smell of urine. I kept myself from vomiting. The picture of Evelyn with sauce on her face came to me as I picked up the pieces of my shattered dinner. I felt bad. Evelyn was always Dad’s favorite.
104
Arthur C. Ford,Sr.,poet
08-15-2013
05:22 AM ET (US)
JULY IS PUBLISHED.
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103
Bill Gaddis
08-14-2013
07:39 PM ET (US)
Hello,
Here's another short story, this one 1,750 words. Hope you like it.


BILL GADDIS 3848 SO PACIFIC HWY, SPACE43, 1 MEDFORD, OREGON 97501
Billgaddis32@yahoo.com
1750 WORDS—FICTION SUBMISSION
541 622 4472
541-622-4472






THERE’S A MAN GOING AROUND
        I stepped out of the shed where I had slept. I was fifteen years old and answered to the name of Billy. Of brothers and sisters, I had one each, both younger than myself. They were still asleep in the house Pa had fashioned by ramming two one-room shacks together. Of course, Pa hadn’t done the ramming himself. He used the two draft horses, Doc and Dan, for that.


     When the sun rose, an hour later, I’d breakfasted, milked the small herd of dairy cows my father kept, and hauled enough water from the spring to last the family for the day. I hurried, because today was when I’d decided to head across Strawberry Mountain to the elk wintering grounds on the far side.


     Yesterday had been relatively warm for a December day. The accumulated snow had melted on top, then froze during the night. Now there was crust enough to easily bear my 185 pounds without me breaking through.


     By around eight o’clock, I reached the upper boundary of our 160 acres of hay fields. Beyond the barbed wire fence began the timbered slopes of Strawberry Mountain. This was an area where I sometimes harvested a fat mule deer for table meat. It wasn’t legal, but considering the precious hay the deer ate and trampled, our family considered it a fair trade.


       An onlooker, seeing the high powered rifle slung across my shoulder, might have surmised that I was hunting big game but such was not the case. I merely had a strong curiosity about the elk herd that grazed Strawberry Mountain and its environs.


       Walking on the frozen crust was deceptively easy. I crossed the fence and plunged into the forest, scarcely altering my pace to allow for the increased gradient. The snow was deeper now, about to my knees I judged, saying I broke through. If I continued at this pace, I’d be over the crest of the mountain by noontime.


     The absence of wild life signs puzzled me. Not even a hawk or a blue jay disturbed the sky’s serenity. As for rabbit or vole tracks in the softening snow, there were none. It was as if a wolf or a cougar had suddenly appeared, frightening the forest’s small denizens into hiding.


     I shivered, mindful of the “Wendigo” stories I’d heard, growing up. The Wendigo, according to legend, was the spirit of the forest. It manifested itself in many ways, mostly evil. One such, I remembered, involved two woodsmen who, on a canoe trip, had camped on a brushy island in the middle of the stream they were negotiating. All went well until, upon awakening next morning, they noticed cone-shaped depressions in their firewood and in their canoe and paddles. Some kind of invisible force was drilling holes in anything on the island that had substance. Frightened half out of their wits, the men piled into their cone-riddled canoe and paddled like hell to get away before they, themselves, were wounded or killed.


     By noon, I was crossing the mountain’s summit. To my surprise and disgust, I suddenly started breaking through the crust, plunging to my knees in the wet snow. It didn’t take an Einstein to figure out the blazing sun had softened the crust to where it wouldn’t bear my weight any longer.


     What a fool I’d been! The crust had seemed so damn strong! And now I was miles from home. I turned and, in a near panic, began to flounder my way back the way I’d come. What a mess, damn it! The crust was too weak to support my weight, but still rigid enough to provide a knife-edged resistance to the front of my legs as I thrust against it.


     After nearly an hour of forcing my way downhill, I was gasping for breath. I felt almost like collapsing. Looking back, I could see drops of blood spattered liberally along the trail I’d made. It was impossible to continue what I was doing. Not only was I nearing exhaustion, my shins were bruised, and bleeding through my frayed pant legs. The pain was becoming serious. Belatedly, I realized it was time I started using my head instead of relying on brute strength, my usual solution to a problem.


     After several moments of reflection, I decided to try to fashion a pair of crude snowshoes using the materials I had at hand. The odds were against my contriving anything useful, but I decided to try. With my pocket knife, I cut a supply of pine boughs, each bough about two feet in length. Seated on the pile of limbs, I removed the leather laces from my boots and set about securing the branches to the bottoms of my boots. The trick was to tie the boughs so they would stay fastened and, at the same time, keep my boots from falling off my feet.


     The result, when I stood up, was clumsy, exceedingly so. And yet they worked. By taking short steps and sliding my feet, I managed to shuffle downhill while staying on top of the snow. I gazed at the sky and grinned mirthlessly. Maybe, just maybe, this was not my day to die after all!


     The sound of someone laughing interrupted my feeling of exhilaration. Christ! Who could it be? Looking around, I saw a man dressed in fancy looking clothes seated on a downed tree trunk. What theЕ! The area for a short distance around the tree was bare of snow! Unbelievably, green plant life was sprouting from the bare soil.


     “Holy shit!” I step-skied down to where the stranger sat. “How in hell’d you get here, Mister?”


     “Why, the usual way,” the man’s voice sounded condescending. “I walked.”


     “That doesn’t seem likely,” I said. “There aren’t any tracks. Also, how come there’s no snow around where you’re sitting?”


     “Those are astute observations, my boy,” said the strange person. “But perhaps I’m not disposed to explain.”


     “What! What do you mean?”

 
     “I mean I didn’t come here to answer your foolish questions. Instead, let’s have lunch and chat a bit. Then we’ll go our separate ways. What do you say?”


     “I guess that sounds okay by me.” I sidled over to the tree trunk and sat. I took a bacon sandwich from an inner pocket of my coat and began unwrapping the wax-paper covering.


     “Good for you.” The suave sounding stranger rummaged in a mesh sack he carried. He drew out a foot-long cutthroat trout and held it by its tail. “Down the hatch,” he said. He lifted the fish over his head and began lowering it into his throat.


     “That looks delicious” I said, half- sarcastically. “Is it even cooked?”


     “No. Cooking destroys the flavor.” He held up the sack. “Care for one?”

     I grimaced. “Not likely.” I swallowed the last of my sandwich. “What comes next?”


     “Well,” said the entity, “I imagine you’ve divined by now that you have something I might want?”


     “I’m going to go with a wild guess.” I mustered a sickly smile. “Is it my soul you’re after?”


     The stranger stood, then drew himself to his full height. “I appreciate that you don’t beat around the bush, my boy. You have no idea how tiresome it is, trying to negotiateЕ“


     “This reminds me of a poem,” I rudely interrupted. “ ‘The Devil and Daniel Webster’. We just read it in literature class at school.“ I mused. “By the way, what are you thinking of offering me for my soul?”


     “I was going to offer to save your life. You’d never have made it off this mountain if you hadn’t thought to make those stupid snowshoes, you know.”


      “I hope you’re not going to try to take credit for that.”


     “Fair’s fair. No, it was your idea.” The devil looked hopeful. “What else could I offer that might interest you?”


           “Well, there’s always money,” I grinned. “I might as well tell you though; no amount of money would tempt me to sell my immortal soul.”


          “What then? Would you like to have power? I could arrange for you to become governor of this state when you finish growing up.” The devil’s voice was growing impatient.


       I considered the offer. “Would I have to live in hell?” I asked. my own voice sounded weak and tentative, I decided.


      “Not ‘till after you die. Anyway, Hell is not as unpleasant as you’ve probably been led to believe. As a matter of fact, you would undoubtedly have a very comfortable existence there.” The devil took a sheet of paper from his dinner jacket. “All you have to do is sign this. Are you interested?”


     “I don’t believe I am. You’re really not giving me much time to think.” Now, my voice sounded loud, almost booming, I thought, puzzled at the anomaly.


     “How much time do you need? I’ve transacted business with millionaires in a much shorter time span than this.”


     “Wow! What would a millionaire need your services for?”

    
     “You’d be surprised,” The devil smiled. “From what I’ve observed, no matter how much you mortals get, there’s always something else you’ve got to have.”


     “Sounds like a vicious circle to me,” I observed. “Why bother?”


     “As I said, you’re very astute,” said Satan. “Why indeed?”


     “In that case I might as well be going.” I stood up. “I hope I haven’t spoiled your day too much.”


     “Not at all. I win some, I lose some.” Beelzebub sounded miffed as he sat back heavily on the log.


     “That’s a very civilized way of looking at things. It’s been a pleasure almost doing business with you.” I stepped up on the crust and started to shuffle down the slope. I hesitated. “Do you mind if I ask you a question...sir?”


     “That depends. There are some things I prefer not to discuss.”
     “You probably won’t want to answer this one then, but here goes anyway. Are you ever sorry you got crosswise with GoЕ”


      Then, in a puff of smoke, The Prince of Darkness was gone.

* * *

    Some time later, chuffing down the last of the mountain’s sloping flank, I began once again to see animal tracks crossing my path. Looking up, I saw a pair of hawks circling overhead. Suddenly, all seemed normal again. It was as if an evil, deadly ominous presence had suddenly withdrawn itself from the scene.


     Whistling, I continued my journey. It would soon be time to milk the cows again and, for once, I didn’t mind.

End
102
Bill Gaddis
08-05-2013
09:22 PM ET (US)
Heres a short story of 2,800 words I hope you'll like:

William J. GADDIS
3848 So Pacific Hwy, sp 43
Medford, Oregon 97501
541-622-4472
Billgaddis32@yahoo.com
2,800words






DESCENT INTO DARKNESS




           Jason Dana arrived early for his tryst with Liz Morton, a pretty young woman he’d met on his daily train commute. They’d been meeting like this for nearly a month and tended to favor a bar on Portland’s east side. The name of the bar was “The Rendezvous Room.” True to the name’s inference, the bar’s lights were dimmed a little more each hour after 5:00 pm, until the patrons could scarcely see each other. It made for a sense of cozy secureness when not wishing to meet an acquaintance. Or worse, a close family member such as a spouse.
        Seeing Liz walk in, Jason gulped, felt a warm flush suffuse his body. “Hot damn!” he muttered to no one in particular. She was just too gorgeous for a low paid bookkeeper like him to have sparked her interest. “I love my wife, but oh you kid!” was a formerly popular saying that now seemed to be appropriate all over again.
  Five foot three inches tall, bobbed brunette hair, striking green eyes, and a Madonna figure, Liz was the quintessence of female perfection. Fortunately, it was only a little after 5:00 pm, so there was still light enough to see and be seen.
      “Hi, you doll,” he enthused, after she slipped into the opposite seat.
      “Hi yourself, good looking. Been waiting long?”
       “Long enough to get a little horny,” he replied. Normally, he didn’t like to sound or act crass but the words were out and there was no recalling them. To his surprise, she wasn’t offended.
       “What would you like to do about that?” She actually smiled.
       “A cheap hotel comes to mind.”
      “Really. Why a cheap one?”
     “It’s better I don’t use a credit card and I’m a little short on cash. Okay?”
     “Whatever you say, you handsome hunk. I’m ready when you are.”

     They found a suitable looking hotel not far from the bar. “How much?” Jason demanded of the seedy looking desk clerk.
     “Forty-two dollars for one night,” the man replied. He turned and lifted a key from its brass hook. “Room 218,” he said, baring a set of nicotine-stained dentures. “No loud music after 10:00 pm.”
#
     The room was about what he’d expected for the price, but Jason wasn’t in a mood to be critical. He had just sat down on the bed to take off his shoes when the door burst open. “What the hellЕ?” he exclaimed. A very angry looking individual whom he recognized from the hotel lobby marched into the room. The man thrust out his hand and poked Jason with what looked like an electric zapper, a Taser. The effect was instantaneous! Jason screamed as he felt himself falling.
     Lying on the floor, unable to move a muscle, Jason could only glare as the angry looking man had sex with Liz on the bed. He couldn’t see Liz’s face but imagined it frozen into a rictus of fear and loathing. He closed his eyes and willed the horrible paralysis that affected his body to go away.
       The rapist soon spent himself, then casually went through Jason’s and Liz’s belongings, taking what money they had, as well as pocketing Jason’s billfold. He smiled a nasty smile as he departed. “I’ll be in touch,” he said ominously, just before closing the door.
     “W-we better call the police right away,” Jason stammered, as soon as he could struggle to a sitting position.
      Liz looked incredulous “You’re forgetting something mister,” she sobbed. “What about publicity? My husband will kill me if he finds out! We have to keep this secret. I’m afraid of him!”
    “You’re right. I sure as hell wouldn’t want Sally finding out, either.”
#
     At home, Jason was only just starting to relax, when the phone rang. Reluctantly, he lifted the receiver. “Hello”
     “Hello, sweetheart. This is Ed Coffee. Remember me?”
     “How could I not remember? I’d like to meet you when you don’t have a weapon, you son of a bitch!”
     “Don’t be ridiculous. I’d bend you into a pretzel. Now listen, amigo. I want a thousand dollars by tomorrow. In case you’re thinking of saying no, how’d you like me to have a chat with your sweet little wife?”
     Liz, his lover, was sympathetic when he telephoned her with the news. “My God, it’s like a nightmare!” she sobbed. “But at least he’s being reasonable. A thousand dollars isn’t out of the question. Besides, I can help. I can raise half of it without Darren finding out. Let me do that, won’t you?”
     “I couldn’t do that.”
    “Why not? After all, we’re in this together, aren’t we?”
     “Yes, butЕ”
     “Do you trust me?”
     “Yes, butЕ”
     “Then don’t say any more about it, sweety. Okay?”
#
     The next day, Ed Coffee called Jason at his place of employment, Fedderucci Import-Export Company. Coffee got right to the point. “Look sweetheart, what do you say we get down to brass tacks?” he grated. “How about if we quit messin’ around?”
      “What do you mean, Coffee, damn you? You got your thousand dollars! I left it right where you said!”
     “Not good enough. My horizons have broadened. I want more.”
     “My God! How much more?” Jason groaned.
     “Let’s say a hundred thousand, my friend, and that’s it. No more calls ever. You have my word.”
     Jason hesitated. “I need time to think about this, dammit, man. How do I know I can trust you? That you won’t keep coming back?”
     “You got two days. And you don’t know I won’t come back. The only thing you know for sure is that I’ll be having a heart to heart with your sweet little wife, Sally, if you don’t come up with the dough.” The line disconnected.
#
     The next day, a Thursday, Jason was caught red-handed by Mister Fedderucci himself, in a very compromising position. “I simply don’t understand, my boy,” wheezed the older man, after directing Jason into his inner sanctum. “Why did you try to rob me? Surely you didn’t expect to get away with pilfering our safe in broad daylight? I’m afraid I just don’t understand.”
     It all came tumbling out: the secret meetings with Liz, the tawdry hotel room, the invasion by Ed Coffee, the robbery, and the subsequent demands for more money. “I just didn’t know what to do!” he wailed. “There’s no way I could raise that amount of money.”
     “Even if you did raise the money, that wouldn’t be the end of it,” cautioned his long-time employer. “Men like your Mister Coffee don’t quit until their victim is bled white.”
     “Then maybe it’s best I was caught.” It was a flat statement from a man who’d given up. “At least now there’ll be an end to it.”
     “Maybe there’s another way to put an end to it,” said Jason’s boss. “I know some people. Let’s think about it.”
     “I don’t understand, sir” said Jason. “Aren’t you going to have me arrested?”
     “Let’s just say I feel sorry for you, you dumb bastard.” Mister Fedderucci was behaving somewhat out of character but Jason was down to grasping at straws. He quickly acceded when the older man laid out a scenario that included murder.
   Mister Fedderucci’s plan was simple enough: Jason and Freddy, a professional killer, would meet with Ed Coffee at a pre-arranged meeting place in order to give over the blackmail money. At that point, Freddy would pull out his sidearm and dispatch Coffee without further ado. There was some mention of a silencer and of ‘walking away quickly’ but Jason couldn’t really grasp the details. All that lodged in his senses was that a professional gunman, provided by his sympathetic boss, was going to make things all right.
     The location where the money was to be exchanged was a secluded bench in Lincoln Park. Ed Coffee specified the place and the time, which was 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon. “Bring the money in an overnight bag,” he specified. “And don’t even think of trying to short me or I’ll kill you.”
#
     True to his word, Ed Coffee was sitting on the park bench when Jason and the assassin arrived. Only Coffee didn’t wait for introductions. Without warning, he jerked a .45 caliber automatic from his shoulder holster and shot Freddy precisely in the middle of his forehead. Aside from a slight foot twitch, Freddy lay there on the footpath without moving a muscle.
     “You God-damned fool,” Coffee intoned. “Try something like that again and you’re a dead man.” He kicked at the empty overnight bag. “You’ve got three days,” he said. “Don’t screw it up this time.”
#
     After a sleepless night in a so-so hotel in downtown Portland, Jason set out on an aimless walk. For the hundredth time, he reviewed possible solutions in his head. Not that there was a viable solution to be had; Ed Coffee had already proved he was at least one move ahead of Jason in any possible scenario. The only sure-fire solution was to rob a bank! And Jason had just proved how inept he was at robbery.
     Hearing a bell-tower clock chiming, Jason reluctantly brought his gaze up from where he’d been staring at the sidewalk. He recognized his surroundings as being in the business district of the city. Wait a minute! He recognized the couple walking ahead of him as well. There was no mistaking what his eyes were telling him. It was Ed Coffee and Liz!
     For a moment he assumed the low-life had kidnapped Liz, and was forcing her to accompany him somewhere. Then it became apparent; there was no reluctance on Liz’s part. She chatted amiably and even brushed her hip against her companion in an enticing way.
     The truth was like a hammer blow to the head. He stumbled and nearly fell to the sidewalk. IT WAS A SCAM! THEY WERE IN IT TOGETHER!
     Jason couldn’t have said how he got back to his hotel room. All he could think of was how he’d been had, how Liz and Ed Coffee had pulled the wool over his eyes. What a fool he’d been! Without consciously making a decision, he found himself thinking of how he could get even with the pair of them. “You’re going to pay,” he heard himself mutter.
     Not that it would be that easy. Ed Coffee had already demonstrated his cunning by killing Freddy, the would-be assassin. Jason wracked his brain in an attempt to recall if he had mentioned to Liz the plan for Freddy to get in the first shot at the money exchange. Of course! That was it! He had told Liz and Liz had simply relayed the information to her confederate. Maybe Ed Coffee wasn’t so infallible after all!
     Further brain-wracking only reaffirmed the fact that neither Ed Coffee nor Liz knew he was on to them. He felt himself almost smile. There had to be a way he could play them off against each other. With only the embryo of a plan formulated in his mind, he reached for the phone and dialed Liz’s number.
     “Hello, Liz?” He tried to make his voice sound casual.
     She sounded delighted. “Jason! What a nice surprise. What’s up?”
     “I need to see you. Can you meet me in the city?”
     “Can I? Just say where!”
     He confided the location of his hotel, hung up, and settled back to think.
#
      When Liz arrived an hour later, Jason forced himself to ignore her affectionate greeting. “Never mind the bullshit,” he groused, pushing her away. “I know all about your little game. Only I’m not playing any longer, understand?” Liz seemed instinctively to know better than to put on an act. “I don’t know how you found out, Jason,” she said coolly; “but it doesn’t matter because you don’t dare involve the police and you’re terrified your little housemate might find out. We’ve got you by the short hairs and you know it, don’t you?” She leered.
      “So it would seem,” Jason said. He smiled meanly, then sucker-punched Liz on the point of her chin.
     Liz was only out for a few minutes. She regained consciousness when Jason dashed a glass of water in her face. She tried to sit up, and then regarded her duct-taped limbs with an astonished glance. “Jason! What in the worldЕ”
     “Time for you to shut up and listen, you bitch.” Jason ripped off a six-inch strip of tape from the roll, and mashed it over her mouth. He reached for a pair of needle-nosed pliers he’d picked up at a nearby hardware store, along with the duct tape. The short trip to the store had been a pleasant diversion while he waited for Liz to arrive.
     “Did you ever nip yourself accidently with a pair of these?“ he asked. He jerked Liz’s blouse and bra aside so her breasts were exposed. He touched her suddenly erect nipples with the cold metal tool. Liz flinched and attempted to scream, but failed miserably.
      “Now you’re going to talk to Ed Coffee”, he told her. “You’re going to say just what I tell you.” He jerked the strip of tape from the frightened woman’s mouth. He could tell that his action caused her sharp pain. To his surprise, he found he didn’t care.
#
     The next day, Jason presented himself at the private office of Mister Fedderucci at an early hour. He didn’t beat around the bush, as he normally would. “I’m here to see about getting a new job,” he announced.
     “I’m afraid I don’t understand.” Mister Fedderucci’s lips became a straight line. “You’ve been keeping my books for some time, now. Is it a transfer you suddenly want, something more challenging perhaps? Maybe you’d like to work overseas?” His tone of voice suggested he was perhaps talking to a bratty child.
      “Let’s just say I want something that pays better.” Jason stared at his employer as a hungry snake regards a mouse. “We both know there’s an opening in the muscle end of this organization.”
     The boss man looked puzzled. “Muscle? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
     “Sure you do. Don’t forget I’ve been keeping your books for a long time. To put it plainly, sir, I want Freddy’s old job for a start”
      Fedderucci rubbed his jaw. “I guess it’s no secret I’m a sucker for straight talk. But that doesn’t mean you’d be suited for the job you mentioned. It’s not that easy to kill people. How do you know you wouldn’t freeze up? I’ve seen better men than you lose control.”
     “Because I’ve already got experience,” Jason grinned with a new-found confidence. “If you don’t believe me, read today’s newspaper. There’s sure to be a story about two bodies being dumped in the East River last night.” Jason paused, his grin transforming into a modest smile. “I can give you all the details on how they were killed, as well as a description of the marks on the bodies. I can tell you that because it was me that killed them. And I not only didn’t freeze up, I actually enjoyed doing it.” He stared into the older man’s eyes. “How about it, Mister Fedderucci? Do I get the job?”
     The old gangster exhaled noisily. “Let’s just check the newspaper first,” he said. “If it’s as you say, we’ll see.”
     The story was on page two and gave all the details: Two bodies, one male, one female, had been removed from the East River by police during the night. Both bodies were nude and both had been subjected to extreme torture, as evidenced by the marks on the corpses. The report speculated that the murders, because of the savagery of the crimes, were likely the result of gangland revenge killings.
     “That should be enough to prove I’ve got the balls for the job,” said Jason, a pleased look lightening his features.
     “So what.” The older man turned away impatiently.
     “What do you mean? You saidЕ”
     “I said we’ll see. Did you really think it was going to be that easyЕ just knocking off a couple of low-life blackmailers?”
     “I don’t get it, sir. What else could you possibly expect?” Jason felt his senses reeling.
     “It’s not out of the question that I require you to do something to prove your absolute loyalty to me. Something like sacrificing someone close to you. Do you have any children?”
    “With respect sir; you must be out of your mind! God! You mean you’d have me kill my own kids?”
     “Do you want the job or don’t you?” The old gangster’s voice was suddenly ice.”
     “We—we don’t have any children. We’ve tried, butЕ”
     “Any close relatives?”
     “There’s only my wife, Sally.”
      Fedderucci’s facial muscles relaxed. “There you go, my boy. Problem solved.”
     Jason hesitated briefly as if thinking the proposal over, and then shrugged. “You know what? You’ve got a deal, boss.” he said slowly, as if belatedly realizing he meant it.
end



101
Bill Gaddis
08-05-2013
09:22 PM ET (US)
Heres a short story of 2,800 words I hope you'll like:

William J. GADDIS
3848 So Pacific Hwy, sp 43
Medford, Oregon 97501
541-622-4472
Billgaddis32@yahoo.com
2,800words






DESCENT INTO DARKNESS




           Jason Dana arrived early for his tryst with Liz Morton, a pretty young woman he’d met on his daily train commute. They’d been meeting like this for nearly a month and tended to favor a bar on Portland’s east side. The name of the bar was “The Rendezvous Room.” True to the name’s inference, the bar’s lights were dimmed a little more each hour after 5:00 pm, until the patrons could scarcely see each other. It made for a sense of cozy secureness when not wishing to meet an acquaintance. Or worse, a close family member such as a spouse.
        Seeing Liz walk in, Jason gulped, felt a warm flush suffuse his body. “Hot damn!” he muttered to no one in particular. She was just too gorgeous for a low paid bookkeeper like him to have sparked her interest. “I love my wife, but oh you kid!” was a formerly popular saying that now seemed to be appropriate all over again.
  Five foot three inches tall, bobbed brunette hair, striking green eyes, and a Madonna figure, Liz was the quintessence of female perfection. Fortunately, it was only a little after 5:00 pm, so there was still light enough to see and be seen.
      “Hi, you doll,” he enthused, after she slipped into the opposite seat.
      “Hi yourself, good looking. Been waiting long?”
       “Long enough to get a little horny,” he replied. Normally, he didn’t like to sound or act crass but the words were out and there was no recalling them. To his surprise, she wasn’t offended.
       “What would you like to do about that?” She actually smiled.
       “A cheap hotel comes to mind.”
      “Really. Why a cheap one?”
     “It’s better I don’t use a credit card and I’m a little short on cash. Okay?”
     “Whatever you say, you handsome hunk. I’m ready when you are.”

     They found a suitable looking hotel not far from the bar. “How much?” Jason demanded of the seedy looking desk clerk.
     “Forty-two dollars for one night,” the man replied. He turned and lifted a key from its brass hook. “Room 218,” he said, baring a set of nicotine-stained dentures. “No loud music after 10:00 pm.”
#
     The room was about what he’d expected for the price, but Jason wasn’t in a mood to be critical. He had just sat down on the bed to take off his shoes when the door burst open. “What the hellЕ?” he exclaimed. A very angry looking individual whom he recognized from the hotel lobby marched into the room. The man thrust out his hand and poked Jason with what looked like an electric zapper, a Taser. The effect was instantaneous! Jason screamed as he felt himself falling.
     Lying on the floor, unable to move a muscle, Jason could only glare as the angry looking man had sex with Liz on the bed. He couldn’t see Liz’s face but imagined it frozen into a rictus of fear and loathing. He closed his eyes and willed the horrible paralysis that affected his body to go away.
       The rapist soon spent himself, then casually went through Jason’s and Liz’s belongings, taking what money they had, as well as pocketing Jason’s billfold. He smiled a nasty smile as he departed. “I’ll be in touch,” he said ominously, just before closing the door.
     “W-we better call the police right away,” Jason stammered, as soon as he could struggle to a sitting position.
      Liz looked incredulous “You’re forgetting something mister,” she sobbed. “What about publicity? My husband will kill me if he finds out! We have to keep this secret. I’m afraid of him!”
    “You’re right. I sure as hell wouldn’t want Sally finding out, either.”
#
     At home, Jason was only just starting to relax, when the phone rang. Reluctantly, he lifted the receiver. “Hello”
     “Hello, sweetheart. This is Ed Coffee. Remember me?”
     “How could I not remember? I’d like to meet you when you don’t have a weapon, you son of a bitch!”
     “Don’t be ridiculous. I’d bend you into a pretzel. Now listen, amigo. I want a thousand dollars by tomorrow. In case you’re thinking of saying no, how’d you like me to have a chat with your sweet little wife?”
     Liz, his lover, was sympathetic when he telephoned her with the news. “My God, it’s like a nightmare!” she sobbed. “But at least he’s being reasonable. A thousand dollars isn’t out of the question. Besides, I can help. I can raise half of it without Darren finding out. Let me do that, won’t you?”
     “I couldn’t do that.”
    “Why not? After all, we’re in this together, aren’t we?”
     “Yes, butЕ”
     “Do you trust me?”
     “Yes, butЕ”
     “Then don’t say any more about it, sweety. Okay?”
#
     The next day, Ed Coffee called Jason at his place of employment, Fedderucci Import-Export Company. Coffee got right to the point. “Look sweetheart, what do you say we get down to brass tacks?” he grated. “How about if we quit messin’ around?”
      “What do you mean, Coffee, damn you? You got your thousand dollars! I left it right where you said!”
     “Not good enough. My horizons have broadened. I want more.”
     “My God! How much more?” Jason groaned.
     “Let’s say a hundred thousand, my friend, and that’s it. No more calls ever. You have my word.”
     Jason hesitated. “I need time to think about this, dammit, man. How do I know I can trust you? That you won’t keep coming back?”
     “You got two days. And you don’t know I won’t come back. The only thing you know for sure is that I’ll be having a heart to heart with your sweet little wife, Sally, if you don’t come up with the dough.” The line disconnected.
#
     The next day, a Thursday, Jason was caught red-handed by Mister Fedderucci himself, in a very compromising position. “I simply don’t understand, my boy,” wheezed the older man, after directing Jason into his inner sanctum. “Why did you try to rob me? Surely you didn’t expect to get away with pilfering our safe in broad daylight? I’m afraid I just don’t understand.”
     It all came tumbling out: the secret meetings with Liz, the tawdry hotel room, the invasion by Ed Coffee, the robbery, and the subsequent demands for more money. “I just didn’t know what to do!” he wailed. “There’s no way I could raise that amount of money.”
     “Even if you did raise the money, that wouldn’t be the end of it,” cautioned his long-time employer. “Men like your Mister Coffee don’t quit until their victim is bled white.”
     “Then maybe it’s best I was caught.” It was a flat statement from a man who’d given up. “At least now there’ll be an end to it.”
     “Maybe there’s another way to put an end to it,” said Jason’s boss. “I know some people. Let’s think about it.”
     “I don’t understand, sir” said Jason. “Aren’t you going to have me arrested?”
     “Let’s just say I feel sorry for you, you dumb bastard.” Mister Fedderucci was behaving somewhat out of character but Jason was down to grasping at straws. He quickly acceded when the older man laid out a scenario that included murder.
   Mister Fedderucci’s plan was simple enough: Jason and Freddy, a professional killer, would meet with Ed Coffee at a pre-arranged meeting place in order to give over the blackmail money. At that point, Freddy would pull out his sidearm and dispatch Coffee without further ado. There was some mention of a silencer and of ‘walking away quickly’ but Jason couldn’t really grasp the details. All that lodged in his senses was that a professional gunman, provided by his sympathetic boss, was going to make things all right.
     The location where the money was to be exchanged was a secluded bench in Lincoln Park. Ed Coffee specified the place and the time, which was 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon. “Bring the money in an overnight bag,” he specified. “And don’t even think of trying to short me or I’ll kill you.”
#
     True to his word, Ed Coffee was sitting on the park bench when Jason and the assassin arrived. Only Coffee didn’t wait for introductions. Without warning, he jerked a .45 caliber automatic from his shoulder holster and shot Freddy precisely in the middle of his forehead. Aside from a slight foot twitch, Freddy lay there on the footpath without moving a muscle.
     “You God-damned fool,” Coffee intoned. “Try something like that again and you’re a dead man.” He kicked at the empty overnight bag. “You’ve got three days,” he said. “Don’t screw it up this time.”
#
     After a sleepless night in a so-so hotel in downtown Portland, Jason set out on an aimless walk. For the hundredth time, he reviewed possible solutions in his head. Not that there was a viable solution to be had; Ed Coffee had already proved he was at least one move ahead of Jason in any possible scenario. The only sure-fire solution was to rob a bank! And Jason had just proved how inept he was at robbery.
     Hearing a bell-tower clock chiming, Jason reluctantly brought his gaze up from where he’d been staring at the sidewalk. He recognized his surroundings as being in the business district of the city. Wait a minute! He recognized the couple walking ahead of him as well. There was no mistaking what his eyes were telling him. It was Ed Coffee and Liz!
     For a moment he assumed the low-life had kidnapped Liz, and was forcing her to accompany him somewhere. Then it became apparent; there was no reluctance on Liz’s part. She chatted amiably and even brushed her hip against her companion in an enticing way.
     The truth was like a hammer blow to the head. He stumbled and nearly fell to the sidewalk. IT WAS A SCAM! THEY WERE IN IT TOGETHER!
     Jason couldn’t have said how he got back to his hotel room. All he could think of was how he’d been had, how Liz and Ed Coffee had pulled the wool over his eyes. What a fool he’d been! Without consciously making a decision, he found himself thinking of how he could get even with the pair of them. “You’re going to pay,” he heard himself mutter.
     Not that it would be that easy. Ed Coffee had already demonstrated his cunning by killing Freddy, the would-be assassin. Jason wracked his brain in an attempt to recall if he had mentioned to Liz the plan for Freddy to get in the first shot at the money exchange. Of course! That was it! He had told Liz and Liz had simply relayed the information to her confederate. Maybe Ed Coffee wasn’t so infallible after all!
     Further brain-wracking only reaffirmed the fact that neither Ed Coffee nor Liz knew he was on to them. He felt himself almost smile. There had to be a way he could play them off against each other. With only the embryo of a plan formulated in his mind, he reached for the phone and dialed Liz’s number.
     “Hello, Liz?” He tried to make his voice sound casual.
     She sounded delighted. “Jason! What a nice surprise. What’s up?”
     “I need to see you. Can you meet me in the city?”
     “Can I? Just say where!”
     He confided the location of his hotel, hung up, and settled back to think.
#
      When Liz arrived an hour later, Jason forced himself to ignore her affectionate greeting. “Never mind the bullshit,” he groused, pushing her away. “I know all about your little game. Only I’m not playing any longer, understand?” Liz seemed instinctively to know better than to put on an act. “I don’t know how you found out, Jason,” she said coolly; “but it doesn’t matter because you don’t dare involve the police and you’re terrified your little housemate might find out. We’ve got you by the short hairs and you know it, don’t you?” She leered.
      “So it would seem,” Jason said. He smiled meanly, then sucker-punched Liz on the point of her chin.
     Liz was only out for a few minutes. She regained consciousness when Jason dashed a glass of water in her face. She tried to sit up, and then regarded her duct-taped limbs with an astonished glance. “Jason! What in the worldЕ”
     “Time for you to shut up and listen, you bitch.” Jason ripped off a six-inch strip of tape from the roll, and mashed it over her mouth. He reached for a pair of needle-nosed pliers he’d picked up at a nearby hardware store, along with the duct tape. The short trip to the store had been a pleasant diversion while he waited for Liz to arrive.
     “Did you ever nip yourself accidently with a pair of these?“ he asked. He jerked Liz’s blouse and bra aside so her breasts were exposed. He touched her suddenly erect nipples with the cold metal tool. Liz flinched and attempted to scream, but failed miserably.
      “Now you’re going to talk to Ed Coffee”, he told her. “You’re going to say just what I tell you.” He jerked the strip of tape from the frightened woman’s mouth. He could tell that his action caused her sharp pain. To his surprise, he found he didn’t care.
#
     The next day, Jason presented himself at the private office of Mister Fedderucci at an early hour. He didn’t beat around the bush, as he normally would. “I’m here to see about getting a new job,” he announced.
     “I’m afraid I don’t understand.” Mister Fedderucci’s lips became a straight line. “You’ve been keeping my books for some time, now. Is it a transfer you suddenly want, something more challenging perhaps? Maybe you’d like to work overseas?” His tone of voice suggested he was perhaps talking to a bratty child.
      “Let’s just say I want something that pays better.” Jason stared at his employer as a hungry snake regards a mouse. “We both know there’s an opening in the muscle end of this organization.”
     The boss man looked puzzled. “Muscle? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
     “Sure you do. Don’t forget I’ve been keeping your books for a long time. To put it plainly, sir, I want Freddy’s old job for a start”
      Fedderucci rubbed his jaw. “I guess it’s no secret I’m a sucker for straight talk. But that doesn’t mean you’d be suited for the job you mentioned. It’s not that easy to kill people. How do you know you wouldn’t freeze up? I’ve seen better men than you lose control.”
     “Because I’ve already got experience,” Jason grinned with a new-found confidence. “If you don’t believe me, read today’s newspaper. There’s sure to be a story about two bodies being dumped in the East River last night.” Jason paused, his grin transforming into a modest smile. “I can give you all the details on how they were killed, as well as a description of the marks on the bodies. I can tell you that because it was me that killed them. And I not only didn’t freeze up, I actually enjoyed doing it.” He stared into the older man’s eyes. “How about it, Mister Fedderucci? Do I get the job?”
     The old gangster exhaled noisily. “Let’s just check the newspaper first,” he said. “If it’s as you say, we’ll see.”
     The story was on page two and gave all the details: Two bodies, one male, one female, had been removed from the East River by police during the night. Both bodies were nude and both had been subjected to extreme torture, as evidenced by the marks on the corpses. The report speculated that the murders, because of the savagery of the crimes, were likely the result of gangland revenge killings.
     “That should be enough to prove I’ve got the balls for the job,” said Jason, a pleased look lightening his features.
     “So what.” The older man turned away impatiently.
     “What do you mean? You saidЕ”
     “I said we’ll see. Did you really think it was going to be that easyЕ just knocking off a couple of low-life blackmailers?”
     “I don’t get it, sir. What else could you possibly expect?” Jason felt his senses reeling.
     “It’s not out of the question that I require you to do something to prove your absolute loyalty to me. Something like sacrificing someone close to you. Do you have any children?”
    “With respect sir; you must be out of your mind! God! You mean you’d have me kill my own kids?”
     “Do you want the job or don’t you?” The old gangster’s voice was suddenly ice.”
     “We—we don’t have any children. We’ve tried, butЕ”
     “Any close relatives?”
     “There’s only my wife, Sally.”
      Fedderucci’s facial muscles relaxed. “There you go, my boy. Problem solved.”
     Jason hesitated briefly as if thinking the proposal over, and then shrugged. “You know what? You’ve got a deal, boss.” he said slowly, as if belatedly realizing he meant it.
end



100
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99
Arthur C. Ford,Sr.,poetPerson was signed in when posted
10-27-2011
12:35 PM ET (US)
thanks for publishing my poetry.
here's another one you may like.
arthur charles ford,sr.,poet/editor

SUCSEX

People, People the headlines say:
“Before society put you away
Cast your votes, place your bets
Make sure you get your dose of sucsex”.
It’s two in one if you get all
One will only get you balled
The other keeps you on the screen
And smitten your life in magazines.
With beauty, brawn, oh yes!
Education!!
You challenge neighboring
And third world nations.
You sing, you dance, and act to script
You “break a leg” and “break a hip”,
You pierce a lip, you sink a ship
Not really caring
What happens next
Sucsex! Sucsex! Sucsex!
You build a mansion, but forget a deck
You wear a clock around your neck,
Sculpting wood and your anatomy
You win a statue at the Academy.
Spondee.spandex,trochee you’re next
The stress, the strain
You change your name,
A spoon’s too small, rehab.’s your call
You smoke, you drink
Your agent thinks
What song’s the best?
Sucsex! Sucsex! Sucsex!
So!
why do we call them”Stars”?
For they’re not out of reach!
And they can’t warm a beach!
So! why do we call them “Stars”?

By: Arthur Charles Ford,Sr.,poet
P.O. Box 4725
Pittsburgh,Pa. 15206-0725
1-866-234-0297
EM:wewuvpoetry@hotmail.com
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97
Arthur C. Ford,Sr.,poet
08-02-2011
07:06 AM ET (US)
“MY BROTHER,CYRIL”
(1951-1981)
In the early part of an evening of our lives, my brother and I felt like we were
trapped in a net made of glue; New Orleans humidity was the same as the
 temperature-ninety. After we drank some cheap wine, I noticed he had drifted off
to sleep with ashes hanging from fifty per cent of his cigarette. The breeze coming
from the window was cool; he sneezed; I went to cover him with a blanket, and of
course put the cigarette out, but the ashes fell to the floor,and dissipated to the
command of the wind. I threw the blanket over him, put
 what was left of his ashed-cigarette in the ashtray,then went to sleep.
I was sixteen, he was two years less, but more curious; he was the one that found a
way to get into our house “without a key”,camouflage Mrs. Katy’s lemon pies until
they “disappeared”, and find someone old enough to purchase wine for us. But on
the other hand, I soon proved to be a “partner in his mischiefs”-I mastered all his
 antics. He was good in biology, being the first to explain to me the process of
 photosynthesis , I was a wiz in mathematics, mentally computing what our change
should be “before” the grocer added it up on the cash register. We supplemented
 each other perfectly. My brother and I did practically did everything together; we
went to school, church, parties,fishing,swimming,played ball, and to secure our
togetherness even more, we dated girls who were sisters.
Years later, in the late part of an evening of my life, I sat staring(after drinking a
 bottle of Don Pernignon Champagne)across the room. I noticed that the breeze had
become wild and colder, but this time it did not interfere with my brother or his
ashes, for they both were resting well in the hermetically sealed urn on my altar.
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90
Arthur C. Ford,Sr.,poet
06-16-2011
06:21 AM ET (US)
GUIDELINES(thepoetbandcompany.yolasite.com)


Dear Literary Artist,

The Poet Band Company is asking for poetry(maximum,40 lines and prose,300 words)
to be submitted for possible publication in “THE POETRY EXPLOSION NEWSLETTER”(THE PEN”), issued quarterly(January,April,July,October). JULY'S ISSUES ARE DEDICATED TO
ROMANTIC POETRY!!! OCTOBER'S ISSUES SPOTLIGHTS HOLIDAY POETRY. ALL
OTHER ISSUES ARE “OPENED TO THE WRITER”.
We publish poems and prose pertaining to all subjects(love,holidays,current events,etc.) and in
any form(sonnets,haiku,rhyme,free and blank verse,etc.). Simultaneous and pre-published
submissions are accepted. Bio-sketches are optional. Presently, we are not paying monetarily,
but if your works are selected, we'll send you a free copy of the issue in which they(it)
appear(s).
Send us your best!!!!! All submissions must be typed and of “camera ready” quality. Submit
a maximum of five works(a L.S.A.S.E. with correct postage if you want your works that are
not accepted for publication to be returned).

Note: If sending currency from another country, please send International Coupons(2 per
dollar amount) or a Money Order or Check written in U.S. Dollars from a U.S. Bank.

If you never have been published, this may be your chance!!!
Thanks for your love of the written word!!!!!!!!

Subscriptions: $20.00 yearly(4 issues) or $38.00 for 2 years. Send $4.00 for a sample
   issue. Outside the U.S.A. , and Canada, $30.00 U.S Dollars for
4 issues or $58.00 for 2 years.Make Check or Money Order payable to:
Arthur C. Ford
P.O. Box 4725
Pittsburgh,PA.15206-0725
EM:wewuvpoetry@hotmail.com

   POEMS ARE CRITIQUED AT 15 CENTS PER WORD!!!!

     ADVERTISING RATES:

  Size One issue Four issues
  1/8 page $10.00 $35.00
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       Yours in Words,

       Arthur C. Ford
   TOLL FREE: 1-866-234-0297

BIO-SKETCH OF Arthur C. Ford,Sr.,poet

Arthur C. Ford,Sr. was born and bred in New Orleans,LA. He earned a Bachelor
of Science Degree from Southern University in New Orleans,where he studied creative
writing and was also a member of the Drama Society. He has visited 45 states in America
and resided for two years in Brussels,Belgium(Europe).

His poetry(lyrics) and prose have been published throughout America,Canada,etc.
His next book,”Reasons for Rhyming(Volume 1)” will be released in the near future.
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