Monday, March 14, 2011

A Twist Of Noir 669 - Kieran Shea


-Hey, babe.



-What’re you doing here?

-The guy in the downstairs apartment let me in, you know, that Asian dude who helped me get rid of your couch a few months back? He was going out the front door with some trash when I was coming up the steps and he let me slide on by. Why’s that guy always smells like bait?



-He’s not supposed to do that.

-Do what?

-Let people into the building. It’s against the rules.



-Come on, he knew who I was. Besides I practically live here. And he was all smiles, guess you kind of remember a guy who suckers you into moving a couch that weighs a ton.



-You should have called first, Kenny.



-Excuse me?

-I said you should have called first. I don’t like you just popping by and showing up unannounced.

-What is that supposed to mean?




-Is something wrong?




-Come on, undo the chain.




-Seriously, Dottie. Quit screwing around. Undo the chain.








-Wait a second—what did you just say?

-I said no, Kenny.


-Yes, I said no.




-Look, I’m sorry, but I really can’t deal with all this right now. I’m tired, Kenny, and I have a monster headache and I’m just so tired. Please. Do me a favor and just go on home. I promise I’ll call you tomorrow morning.

-What’s wrong? Look, I’m not leaving here until you tell me what’s the hell is the matter with you and why you’re acting like this. You’re kind of scaring me, baby.

-You really should have called first.

-Yeah, well I didn’t. What’s the deal here, Dottie?



-It’s late, Kenny.

-Fuck late. It’s nine-thirty. Nine-thirty isn’t late. Undo the chain.


-Undo the chain, Dottie. I swear, I will push this door in.

-Can’t you for once just show me some respect and do what I ask? Just go home, go home and I’ll call you in the morning I promise.




-I’m asking you politely, Kenny.




-Come on, enough’s enough, baby. Just open the fucking door already and stop being such a cryptic little freak. Honestly. Jesus Christ.

-Stop it, Kenny. You’ll break the chain.

-Then unlock it.


- Christ—look. If it’s something I did or didn’t do or something I said or didn’t say or something I forgot completely I apologize, okay? I fucking apologize. Come on, baby, just let me in and we’ll talk about it.



-I so wanted to do this tomorrow. 

-So wanted to do what tomorrow?




-Wait, no.

-I wanted to tell you at work.





-I tried to tell you the other night but you were drunk again and had done all that crank and were being just so impossible. You were frightening me, Kenny. You were out of control. You broke that chair, you threw all those magazines and clothes out the window. Do you even remember screaming at me? I just can’t take this anymore. I can’t take this. I don’t want to. I don’t want to make this any worse—

-You little bitch.


By: Jacqueline Gallagher


A Longport man wanted in the strangulation slaying of his 28-year-old girlfriend surrendered to police on Monday.

Kenneth Sloat, 30, was charged with one count of murder in last Thursday evening's death of Dorothy Ferguson, 28, in her apartment on the 3200 block of Fairmount Avenue, police said.

Investigators said a domestic disturbance preceded the incident. "We don't know exactly what it was all about," said Homicide Capt. Lawrence Clay.

Sloat was let into the apartment building by a downstairs neighbor who recognized him. The downstairs neighbor, Nguyen Van Dai, 44, subsequently heard a short argument and noises that prompted him to contact police.

Responding police arrived at 9:47 and found Ferguson unresponsive in her apartment. Van Dai said Sloat left about 9:30 and was located a short time later via sources at the Tropicana Casino where Sloat is employed as a blackjack dealer.
BIO: Jersey born writer Kieran Shea scratches at the eight ball of crime fiction. He blogs the struggle and other musings at BLACK IRISH BLARNEY.

A Twist Of Noir 668 - Katherine Tomlinson


You’re with Raimundo on K-ESE Los Angeles and it’s time for the news.

A clash between Montagues and Capulets left five dead as gang violence spilled over in Verona this afternoon. Responding to pressure from residents of the small suburb of East Los Angeles, the Verona police chief announced a new zero tolerance policy that would implement the death penalty for any gang member caught breaking the law.

The first time Romeo Montague saw Julieta Capulet he forgot all about Rosa, the Capulet cousin he’d been boning in order to get intel on the Capulet gang. Rosa had invited Romeo to her cousin’s quinceanera on a dare and to her surprise, he and his compadre Mer-Q had shown up.

Romeo was chowing down on home-made tamales when Julieta appeared on the dance floor wearing a turquoise dress he wanted to rip off like wrapping paper. Some little nerd of a cousin was dancing with Julieta when Romeo stepped up to claim her, right there in front of her father and everyone else. “I don’t know you,” Julieta had said as he danced her backwards around the room.

“You have always known me,” Romeo said in Spanish so that it wouldn’t sound cheesy. “My name is Romeo Montague.”

She’d gasped at his boldness and pressed herself closer to him, thrilled by the danger Then Julieta’s cousin Pablo, the one they called Count P, had security throw him out. As he was hauled away by the rent-a-cops, Romeo saw Rosa staring balefully at him. Puta wasn’t happy at all.

Neither was Julieta’s mother, who intended for Julieta to marry Pablo, who was destined to take over the Capulets from Julieta’s father. “You’ll marry the Count,” she told her daughter harshly. Julieta, who privately thought of Pablo as “the cunt,” didn’t answer.

That night Romeo sneaked into the Capulet compound and climbed up to Juliet’s window. Warmed by lust and stolen sips of tequila, the two pledged their love and made plans to sneak away the next morning to be married.

Only problem was, the church was in Capulet territory and a banger called T-ball peeped Romeo coming out of the side door. He followed him back to a Montague chop shop and called him out. When Mer-Q realized Romeo was just going to stand there like a fucking maricon and let the guy talk trash, he stepped in front of his hermano to deal with T-ball himself.

You’re with Raimundo at K-ESE in Los Angeles and it’s time for the news.

Despite a crackdown on gang activity in Verona, an encounter between rival sets turned deadly this afternoon. Witnesses say a Capulet known as T-ball fatally stabbed Montague gang member Mercer Quinero, known as Mer-Q, before being shot by Quinero’s companion, Romeo Montague. Verona’s Chief of Police responded quickly, issuing a warrant for Montague’s arrest. Montague is believed to have fled to Mexico where he has family.

Furious over the death of T-ball, Julieta’s mother laid down the law. Marry the Count, she told her, or face life alone on the streets. Julieta took option C, sending Rosa to a street dealer to procure a drug she’d looked up on the internet. When her mother came to dress her for her second wedding, she found her daughter dead.

Romeo heard the news from Rosa, who, trying to make amends, texted him with directions to the mortuary. Slipping back into California, Romeo broke into the place, knocked out a guard and found Julieta lying on a slab waiting to be embalmed.

Filled with despair, Romeo kissed her lips and injected himself with a hot shot he’d purchased on the way home.

Julieta awoke to find Romeo’s corpse on the floor. It was just as she and her father had planned. Romeo was handsome, but he wasn’t very bright. He thought he was playing Rosa when all the time, she was just setting him up for her cousin.

Julieta was her father’s daughter and her father’s motto was “Death to all Montagues.”

BIO: Katherine Tomlinson is the publisher of Dark Valentine Magazine and co-creator (with artist Mark Satchwill) of the weekly fiction series NoHo Noir. Her collection of short fiction, Just Another Day in Paradise, can be purchased here.

A Twist Of Noir 667 - Nigel Bird


It was hot under the studio lights.

Even in a tee-shirt and shorts Mitchell was sweating.

They’d told him what to wear a week before filming. Explained they were going with the beach barbecue theme.

No way on Earth he’d ever seen himself being painted as the villain in the piece, but that’s what they’d done.

He’d persuaded Ellen to have the kid. Said he’d be there whatever happened. They could move into his mother’s place until the council offered them somewhere of their own. Nothing would have got in the way on account of the way he felt about her.

But they were twisting it all around.

The audience booed when he tried to defend himself.

Maybe he should have seen through it from the start. Realised when the Daniel Dean story broke he wasn’t going to get a look in. Way the papers told it, Daniel and Ellen had got drunk at a barbecue on the beach and had got carried away. Didn’t mean much by itself, only it made Daniel the youngest recorded father in Britain.

The little shit didn’t look old enough to cross the road by himself, let alone shave. Hadn’t let go of her hand since the ‘LIVE’ sign lit up. Smug bastard.

They must have been coining it in with all the attention they were getting. Front page most days. It just wasn’t fair.

Mitchell might not have minded if the host had given him a fair shot. She was supposed to see it from all angles. Keep it on a knife edge to the end.

Only thing on a knife edge were his nuts.

“You forced her to have the baby and then left her as soon as you heard about Daniel. What kind of a man are you?” Agony Agnes, host and star of the show, seemed to have it in for him as much as everyone else.

“It wasn’t like that...” He might as well have been pissing into the ocean. The audience shouted and jeered so loud he couldn’t even hear his own voice.

Daniel and Ellen lapped it up, circling their arms at the crowd and urging them to call louder.

How the baby slept through it all, Mitchell had no idea. Wouldn’t have surprised him if they’d doped him up for the show.

“So who is the father of baby Nathan?” Agnes said directly into the camera. “We’ll find out after the break.”

One of the chefs served out food as the director counted down to the adverts.

It was the part no one at home got to see.

Daniel took a big bite from a burger and spat it in Mitchell’s direction.

Mitchell knew he shouldn’t let it get to him, but he was raging.

Kept his cool though. Took a bite of his kebab and chewed. When the result of the paternity test arrived he’d be laughing loudest of all.

When the ads were over Agnes reminded everyone of the story in case they’d missed it the first four times, then she clicked her fingers.

From behind a partition wall a lady appeared. In her hand was a silver platter and on the platter the golden envelope.

“And the father is...” Agnes theatrically slid out a slip of paper, read it and held it into the air like a trophy. “...Daniel.”

Something in Mitchell snapped.

He leapt over to the other side of the room and stuck his kebab skewer all the way through Daniel’s chest. Cut the bugger’s celebrations short, that was for sure.

As the bouncers dragged him back Mitchell just stared at the boy.

The boy stared back.

“That the best you can do?” he goaded, his face pale and tight.

“That the best you can do?” he asked as they pressed at his chest with their hands.

“That the best you can do?” he said, his lips turning blue as they moved.

“The best you can do?” he challenged, his pallor turning grey.

“The best you can do?”

BIO: Nigel Bird is a Support For Learning teacher in a primary school near Edinburgh. Co-Producer of the Rue Bella magazine between 1998 and 2003, he has had short work published in such places as ‘The Reader’, ‘Crimespree’, Needle and Dark Valentine Magazine and was interviewed by Spinetingler for their ‘Conversations With The Bookless’ series last year. He is bookless no more as his e-collection Dirty Old Town (And Other Stories) was recently released to critical acclaim and can be purchased here.

A Twist Of Noir 666 - Paul D. Brazill


The Zodiac Club, at 666 Casanova Street, loomed ominously over Silver City like a great black spider waiting to ensnare its prey. Once a full moon clung to the sky, a sickly stew of screams and howls clung to the wind and drifted down to the city, coaxing Victor Brown from an already fitful sleep.

Retired Police Detective Victor Brown was a discarded and crumpled tissue of a man who spent night after night on his soaking bed as dark dreams and worse memories lapped at the shore of his sleep. Until he awoke, drowning in sweat.

Each night, violent thoughts brewed and bubbled to boiling point until, at last, one cold winter night, thought congealed into action.


Just after midnight, Victor stumbled out of his clammy bed and into the migraine bright bathroom. He splashed his face with water and looked in the cracked mirror at his battle-scarred face with its furrowed brow and drinker’s nose.

He stumbled back into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed. Wheezing, he poured himself a large Jack Daniels. His eyes filled up with tears as he looked at the dusty framed photo of his wife and child, on holiday outside Silver City. He picked it up and kissed it.

It had been ten years since their car had broken down and they had made the fatal mistake of going to The Zodiac Club for help.

Victor blamed himself, of course. He’d been on a stakeout and hadn’t answered the phone when his wife had called. He knew what went on behind the walls of the Zodiac Club once the moon was full and gibbous. The whole Police Department knew but what could they do? Nick Casanova owned the club and owned the whole stinking city.

He switched on the lone light bulb, which buzzed and flickered, revealing a room cluttered with wooden barrels and crates. And a large, battered, black suitcase.

Victor opened it wide. Inside were a Glock, three grenades,six silver bullets and a gleaming silver dagger. He said a silent prayer and guzzled from a bottle of bourbon before fastening a crucifix around his neck.


The moonlight oozed across Silver City’s shattered sidewalks like quicksilver; creeping between the cracks, crawling into the gutters. Victor slowly walked up the hill, his breath appearing in front of him like a spectre.

As he got closer to the Zodiac Club’s blinking neon sign, Victor could hear music and laughter. The screech of a woman suddenly sliced the air. Victor shivered, pulling the long black overcoat close to his flesh. He pulled out the pistol and carefully pushed open the large metal door. He paused and then stepped into the hallway.

Checking his pistol, Victor walked toward the sounds. He paused in front of a pair of wooden doors and kicked them open.

The room was suffocating in red velvet and leather. Half eaten corpses littered the marble floor and around them, feasting, were some sort of creatures – half man, half wolf.

Instinctively, Victor threw a grenade.

The next few moments were a flash of fireworks and explosions.

As the smoke subsided, the creatures crawled towards him.

There were about five of them. A couple of them ran toward Victor but he sprayed them with silver bullets. He threw another grenade and kept on firing as the wolf creatures pounced.

Then there was silence except for his heartbeat. And a snarling sound. Victor turned and saw the wolf behind him ready to attack. As he went for his revolver the wolf was on him, knocking him to the ground.

With a series of slashes from his silver Bowie knife, it was over and Victor was soaked with blood. Panting he struggled to move the werewolf’s corpse and blinked as a hand grenade rolled onto the ground. And then he looked into wolf’s bloody jaws. A grenade’s pin was attached to one of its incisors.

Victor gasped and started to say a prayer.

And then it all turned black.

BIO: Paul D. Brazill was born in England and lives Poland.

His stories have appeared in a number of online and print magazines including A Twist Of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Dark Valentine Magazine, Crimefactory, Needle Magazine, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal Magazine and Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, as well as in the anthologies such as Caught By Darkness and RADGEPACKET Volume Four.

His story Guns Of Brixton will appear in The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Fiction 2011, edited by Maxim Jakubowski & his story The Tut was nominated for a 2010 Spinetingler Award.


A Twist Of Noir 665 - Jim Harrington


She stepped into the hotel lounge and spotted him. Three men and four women wearing name tags chatted at a table near the door. She didn’t care that the men ogled her, or the women whispered about her short dress and low bodice. She was there to show the conventioneer sitting at the bar a night he wouldn't remember.

“Hi, Tom,” she said, sliding onto a stool and holding out a manicured hand. “Allison. We met last week at the Townsend’s.”

“Yes, I remember.” He imprisoned her hand in both of his. Crooked teeth peaked between puffy lips. “You know my wife.”

“I met Ellen at a yoga class.”

The bartender took her order.

“Tonic water?” Tom said ordering another scotch. “Is that as strong as it gets?”

“For now.”

She sipped her drink and watched his eyes. Long, athletic legs and stocking tops peeking out from the little black dress captured his attention, as they had the others.

He talked about his boring work, his boring life, and how things should have been better for him. After his third round, he leaned forward and kissed her cheek. His hand meandered up her leg. She stopped him when it reached bare skin.

“Not here.”

“Let’s get a room.” His thick speech told her it was time.

“Okay,” Allison said, caressing his thigh. “But we need to be careful. We wouldn’t want Ellen to find out.”

“No, we wouldn’t want that.”

As soon as they were in the suite, Allison excused herself to go to the bathroom. She took off her dress, hung it on the hook behind the door, and removed her thigh highs. She looked at her profile in the mirror and cupped her naked breasts. Blonds did have more fun, she mused, even if their hair color was from a bottle and their boobs man-made. Maybe Josh would have... She forced him from her mind.

She refreshed her lipstick, admired her profile once more, retrieved the weapon from her purse, and opened the door.

Tom stood naked in front of her. “Wow, Allison, you’re—“

The knuckle thrust crushed his vocal chords. He grabbed his throat and fell to his knees.

Allison moved behind him and lowered him to a sitting position. Using her legs to pin his arms to his sides, she put the knife to his throat and clasped his chin in her palm.

“I forgot to tell you something about Ellen and me.” She pressed the blade into his skin, just enough to draw blood. “She hired me to find out who you were sleeping with and was despondent when I showed her pictures of you with three different women.”

Tom tried to get up, but she was the stronger of the two, and he failed.

Allison lifted his chin, inched the blade across the soft skin of his neck, and watched the blood trickle onto his chest.

“Don’t worry, Tommy, I’ve had lots of practice. That cut won’t kill you.” She leaned away and tilted his head back so she could see his eyes. The fear in them excited her.

“Your wife has quite an imagination. She wanted me to do all sorts of nasty things to you, but I assured her you would suffer in proportion to your level of infidelity. She can’t wait to hear the details.”

Unable to plead for mercy, he tried once again to get free.

Allison lowered the knife to his chest and opened a second gash from nipple to nipple. “Somehow, I doubt this is what you had in mind while you were pawing me in the bar. Am I right, Tom?”

Tom’s breathing slowed. His body went limp.

She repositioned the knife at his neck and sliced a third gash, this one deeper. A gurgling sound caressed her ears as blood entered his throat. She held him to her breasts, waiting for the end, and chanted the same mantra she had with the others. “Why, Josh? Why did you cheat on me?”

BIO: Jim discovered flash fiction in 2007, and he’s read, written, studied, and agonized over the form since. His Six Questions For... blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” In his spare time, he serves as the flash fiction editor for Apollo’s Lyre.

A Twist Of Noir 664 - Matthew C. Funk


They stole the boy at 10:00.

Parnell stared at his Rolex while Ownage picked the lock.

The rag and Glock kept Darel quiet. Darel’s kin slept. Darel went into the Pontiac trunk.

Parnell made his third call. Ownage drove Desire’s ruined streets.

“Everything cool?” Ownage said.

“Eskimo shit.” Parnell watched his town: Shells of houses. Open sewers. Lightless yards. A wilderness of graffiti and sword grass.

“Things is going to get real uncool,” Ownage said.

“Hell ain’t known for snow.”

“Is that what Darel gets? Hell?”

Parnell watched the Mississippi Industrial Canal rise as the car drove beyond the levees.

“You know how I roll.”

Ownage knocked back Drank - codeine syrup and Dr. Pepper.

“How’s that?” Ownage guzzled again because he knew the answer.

“I ain’t just strapped like some hood rat fool.” Parnell checked his Rolex. “You want to survive the Ninth, you got to roll with Hell by your side.”

“A’ight.” Ownage parked the car by the warehouse kennel. “A’ight.”

The Grub crew was waiting.

The dogs were starved and barking.

The Rolex read 10:10.

Ownage took Darel out. The dogs yanked their chains, a slim yard from him. Parnell took up the notched machete.

“Please, Parn,” Darel sobbed. “Please.”

“You know where you are?” Parnell pushed back his Buddy Holly glasses.


“You in Hell.” Parnell stared the boy down. “You know why?”

“Yes.” Darel leaked tears and whines. “And I’m sorry.”

“Why’s that?”

“I tried to run your business off your corners even after you told me no.”

“Nah, man.” Parnell checked his Rolex. 10:15. He frowned. “Nah.”

“Just let me call my Momma.”

“This is about the other thing.” Parnell tapped the blade.

Realization dawned on Darel’s face like an acid bath.

“The schoolyard shit?”

“Get them dogs ready,” Parnell said to Ownage.

“Please, Parnell, I ain’t never going to do it again.” Darel convulsed.

“It ain’t about just you.”


“It’s about making sure every fool in the Desire knows what happens when they pull that kind of shit. Every swinging dick, every shirm head, every crack fiend - everybody.”

“Please, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“There’s just actions and consequences.”

Darel pissed his boxers.

“Please, let me call them.” Darel fell. “Let me call my Momma and tell her I love her.”

Parnell glanced at his Rolex.

“I got somewhere to be.”

“My Lord is my shepherd," Darel raked the heavy Mississippi air with his voice. “I shall not - ”

Parnell hit Darel in the jaw with the machete. He opened Darel’s belly and his thigh. Darel was alive and leaking.

“Let the dogs.” Parnell walked away.

Ownage released the chain and the dogs followed the smell of meat and ate.

The Rolex read 10:22 when the screams stopped.

“Goddamn, Parn.” Ownage drank and offered Drank to Parnell. Parnell glowered.

“You know where I have to go now and you offer me that shit?”

Ownage cringed. Parnell got in the Pontiac.

“When them dogs shit,” Parnell said, “you send a pack of it to Darel’s folk.”


Parnell checked his Rolex as he snuck around the back of the rowhouse. 10:28. He eased the backdoor open. He walked heel-to-toe. He crept into the bathroom.

Parnell opened the faucet, then turned it lower to quiet it. The blood sheeting his hands clung under the water.

Parnell was scrubbing too hard to notice the woman with the bat sneak up behind him.

He caught sight of her raised bat in the mirror.

“You going to cave me in, Jaycee?”

“Ought to.” The woman was tired as she lowered the bat. “You a minute late.”

“Maybe.” Parnell toweled off and walked by her frown.

“Do the Desire a favor.”

Parnell crept into the living room.

A little girl curled sleeping there. Parnell sat on the armrest to not disturb her.

“You do that boy who grabbed ’tween Sky's legs?”

Parnell nodded and brought out a brush.

“You the Devil.”

“Almost.” Parnell brushed his daughter’s hair, taking care to not tug a single one.

BIO: Matthew C. Funk is a professional marketing copywriter and social media consultant, a writing mentor and the author of several manuscripts that illuminate the beauty of human extremes. A graduate of the Professional Writing MFA at USC, his online work is featured at sites such as A Twist of Noir; Thrillers, Killers and Chillers; Flash Fiction Offensive; ThugLit; Powder Burn Flash; Pulp Metal Magazine and his Web domain.

A Twist Of Noir 663 - Cindy Rosmus


Atlantic City 1972

On the balcony, I turned the blade over and over, smiling. If Howard...if any of them knew...

They wouldn’t call me “Psycho” for nothing.

From the bar downstairs came hoarse laughter. My mother. Bitch, I thought, stabbing the air. Really hacking it, till my arm ached.

She deserved it. For never wanting me. For dragging me down here, just to cheat on my Pop, night after night.

As Marco and the Mustaches broke into “Spanish Eyes,” I pictured her in sequined blue getting up to dance. Maybe with Carlo, that scumbag who eyed me (a creepy fourteen-year-old) like a two-buck steak. Or with Dean, in his white leisure suit. Dean’s shoes had platforms as high as a girl’s. I hoped he stomped on Mom’s foot, hard.

But even more...I wanted to hurt...

Teeth clenched, I turned toward the mezzanine.

Howard. For tricking me. For hurting me so bad, I wanted to hurt him...and myself.

This blade...was mine, now. In my shorts pocket, I carried it with love.

“Give it back.” As he reached for the blade, Howard’s hand would shake. “Where was it, Pam?”

On the balcony floor. It fell out when you dropped your jeans. So that French-Canadian bitch could gobble you up! You just didn’t know...I was watching.

“In the lot,” I’d say, calmly. Behind the old salt water taffy store. Where you said you’d fight your boss.

But you never went.

No matter what, we were meant to be together. Alive, or...dead.

On the mezzanine, I waited, Howard’s blade hidden behind my back. I looked around, smirking, at the tacky velvet furniture, the grand piano Howard’s dad had got from some mobster. The chandelier, which seemed out of place in this rathole hotel his dad owned.


Mom again. Even on the mezzanine I heard her. Bitch, I thought, this is your lucky night.

Tomorrow you won’t be a mom anymore.

“Thought that was you.” Howard, at last! He sat next to me on the couch. “You weren’t in your room, so I came looking.”

Sure. “I was on...the balcony.”

He stiffened. Then played it off. “Wanna take a walk? On the boardwalk?”

Past the old taffy store?

Behind me, the blade felt good in my hand. “No. What I really want...”

He leaned closer. “Yeah?”

“You steal a key, and we’ll go up to a room...”

What he had wanted, all along. But I was too chicken. “Pam the Prude,” he’d called me, since Day One.

“You mean it?” he said. I just smiled mysteriously.

He stroked my bare thigh. I was ticklish, but it felt good. I wanted to feel good, even just a few moments, before I died.

When I grabbed him, he jumped. “Whoa!”

Maybe his thing was sore. From Frenchie sucking on it.

Soon he would know real pain.

“Be right back!” he said. I retrieved the blade from between the cushions.

When he came back, dangling the key, he looked so smug, I wanted to kill him right there. But this old couple was coming up the stairs, smiling like we were just dumb, lovesick kids.

“Oy, you’re Jerry’s son!” the old bat said. “Someday you’ll own this hotel, yourself.”

“Shut up, Miriam.” The old guy winked. “Leave the young people alone.”

Neither suspected we’d be dead in minutes.

The room Howard picked was on the top floor, at the end of the hall.

As we climbed the stairs, his arm was around me, squeezing me, gently. His blond hair brushed my cheek.

Inside, I was shivering as he locked the door. Too chicken to get naked. To see his...thing.

Never mind, I told myself. Kill him! Just...kill him.

As he kissed me, really hard, I dropped the blade. It landed, soundlessly, on the rug.

When he slid out of his jeans—for the second time that night—he saw his blade. “Oh, there it is,” he said.

And there it stayed.

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

A Twist Of Noir 662 - Pete Risley


Back down in Lyleton when we were kids, I used to tag along after my brother Sandy a lot. He was a year older than me, and was always running around with his best friend Bill Bonner, and for one summer, with Billy's cousin Junior Coe along too. I’d go places with them sometimes, when they’d let me.

I was in second grade then, and Sandy and Bill were in third. Junior was in fourth grade, held back once, but in a different school across the tracks, plus he was pretty close to eleven. Sometimes he'd say he was already eleven and almost twelve, but he was just bragging like usual.

Junior always had to try and act big, and say he'd already done stuff, already hopped a train or seen a shrunken head somewhere or put his hand up some girl's skirt on the bus or whatever. Sometimes it would be true, but he just made a lot of stuff up, I think.

He always wanted to climb stuff, so we always had to do that. At first it was just trees, but he'd always have to climb up higher, if it was possible to do so. I wouldn't want to climb as high as him, especially up into the skinny branches that might not hold your weight, but I think sometimes Billy and Sandy would just let him climb the highest to be done with it, when they could have climbed that high too. He wasn’t satisfied unless he was first all the time.

After that it was rooftops, usually the roofs of abandoned houses, which we had more than a few of there once the radiator plant closed and people started moving away. I'd climb up too, but I was chicken to run on rooftops. One time Junior noticed me walking real careful and slow, said “we can cure him of that,” and got Sandy and Bill to pick me up by the arms and legs and swing me back and forth like they were going to throw me off the roof. I didn’t cry, but got down off the rooftop right away when they quit. I never wanted to get on another one. And in fact, that was the last one for a long while.

Soon after that, Junior wanted to climb more rooftops one day when it was raining a little but not that much, and they tried to climb on this one tin-roofed house out there way off the road. I didn't try. It was way too slippery, so both Billy and my brother gave up and climbed down.

“You guys are all such babies,” said Junior, and bounded across the roof, trying to stop and sliding toward some wires overhead that were attached to a pole. He grabbed the wires and then he did stop, and after that just held there real still. There was something weird about it, that stillness all the sudden, and it was even weirder the way he didn’t immediately start bragging and taunting us. In fact, he didn’t say anything at all, just stood there on the roof holding the wire.

“OK, you done it, Junior, c’mon down,” Billy said. But Junior didn’t answer, or even look around. He didn’t move either, just stood there on the roof holding the wire, like he was looking at something off in the distance that was so fascinating he couldn’t be bothered with anything.

We stood there calling to him for what seemed like a long time and he never turned around. It’s a good thing they didn’t try to climb up again after him. I guess they didn’t because, in a way, we knew. Sort of knew. Though it wasn’t until we went home and told Mom, and she started to wail and called Dad, and everything else happened, that we knew completely.

So Junior was first again, for the last time. But he never did get out of the fourth grade.

BIO: Pete Risley is the author of the novel RABID CHILD, published by New Pulp Press in July 2010. Check it out at 'Rabid Child' by Pete Risley—New Pulp Press. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Challenge Story Drop Planned For Monday

It has been




since a Challenge story has appeared at ATON.

This Monday, that changes.