Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 620 - Cindy Rosmus


Lucky for him, you still have those keys.

After sneaking out, late one night. With no notice.

And dirty pots on the stove. Red rice caked to one pot, beans to another. And a plate—half-full—for the roaches. Thanks to them, you always felt “watched.”

“Baby,” Manny said. “You gotta help me. I’m banned from that place.”

Worst super I ever had! the landlady said. Even before Manny robbed three tenants. Sweep before you mop, you shit!

“Thanks to you,” Manny said. “It’s hid.”

Behind your sink, in that hole in the wall. Pounds of it. Like giant lumps of sugar, but sweeter.

You smiled.

“You know,” Manny said, stroking your face, “I depend on you.” Like Sport, from Taxi Driver, only you’re older than twelve and a whore just for him.

“Serves the bitch right.” You meant the landlady.

How you love his smooth, brown skin. Those steady black eyes. Eyes that demand your best. That cut you when you fuck up.

When he fucks up is a different story. And you have no say in who he fucks. Those glassy-eyed crack whores, even that aging colorist in 2-B.

“Baby,” he said. “I do it to get close, see what they got...”

Ghetto gold, widescreen TV. That gilded picture frame. “Antique,” he called it. Trampled the colorist’s wedding photo. “Died of AIDS,” he said, about the husband. But that didn’t stop him from fucking her.

Kool-Aid red hairs you found in his rooms.

Pabst Blue Ribbon in his fridge. Cheapest beer going.

Now you’re sneaking back in, to get his stuff. In your old place.

“The gun’s out back,” he told you. “By the garbage.” Like you forgot.

In the ground, beneath the grill some guy traded him for crack. All summer, you sat in a plastic chair, chewed up by flies and mosquitoes. Barechested, he cooked near-spoiled burgers for his bitches and pals.

Once the landlady showed up. “Where’s mine?” she demanded, smiling horribly. “I deserve a steak. For keeping you on.”

Nibbling your burger, you caught her eyeing him way too long.

“Don’t call me,” Manny warned you. “No matter what happens.”

It’s real late. No baby cries, or music from upstairs. Still, in a place like this, someone’s bound to be up.

Out back, you dig up the gun. With this tiny flashlight that’s still clipped to the keys.

“A .22,” he says it is. A “little girl’s” gun, easy to shoot. You hope you won’t have to. Still, you like its light, “easy” feel.

The back door’s propped open. Can you believe your luck?

As you creep past the laundry room, you smell Tide, hear the dryer humming.

When you peer inside, nobody’s there.

Upstairs, finally, you reach your old apartment. The gun feels like part of you, now.

As you unlock the door, the keys’ jangling is louder than church bells. Tolling for...who?

Inside, it’s like you expected: quiet, stinking. Like the roach kingdom’s been farting all night.

In the bathroom, you stop.

The sink’s been pulled out. That hole in the wall’s like a huge, toothless mouth. think, wildly. You put down the gun, grab for your cell.

“Don’t call,” he said.

Instead, you reach inside the hole. Rats, you think, too late. Nibbling curious fingers.

A shitload of chains you pull out. Tangled, golden in the light from your tiny flashlight.

Ooooooh, you think.

Suddenly, the light goes on. A figure looms in the doorway.

“Police,” Manny jokes. His gun is no “little girl’s.”

The landlady’s with him. “Don’t break the pipe!” she says, as he reaches in for the goods.

In disbelief, you sink to the floor.

“You dumb shit,” she says.

This time she means you.

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 619 - Rob Kitchin


‘For fuck’s sake,’ Pete muttered, ‘how come we always get the crappy jobs?’

The rain was drifting in on a cold, east wind; a fine mist that managed to work its way through outer layers. They’d already scoured the laneway for a knife or bloodied clothes, poking away at the foliage with stakes. Now they were wading through sodden ferns under the canopy of a small copse, their clothes snagging on tangles of brambles, hands stung by nettles.

‘You’d sooner be pushing paper, yeah?’ Harry replied.

‘We’ve got the fucker, so why can’t we wait until it stops fecking raining?’

‘Because Johnny Cronin knows this is the only way a skanky fucker like you gets a shower. We’re just here to make sure you wash the shampoo off properly.’

‘Says the man who only has three pairs of underpants and only does a wash once a week,' Pete scoffed. ‘I say we call it quits. All we’re going to catch is pneumonia. We’re just wasting our time.’

‘Will you two stop bloody moaning?’ Chloe Gaines snapped. She’d no idea what crime she’d committed to be punished by an afternoon with Harry and Pete, two dinosaurs from another era - unreconstructed, misogynist cops on the slow road to retirement. ‘Jesus, it’s only a bit of rain.’

‘I don’t see you stripping off yer’ wet gear,’ Harry replied, ‘dancing around to some rain god.’

‘Rubbing the shampoo in,’ Pete added.

‘For god’s sake - how old are you, five?’ Gaines asked, rolling her eyes.

‘What the...’ Harry trailed off, picking at the ground with his staff, revealing a withered condom. ‘Ah, Jesus, you could have cleaned up after yourself, Pete.’


‘Well, it looks like your size.’

‘If that was mine you could tie five knots in it and it would still be bigger than that.’

Gaines snorted in derision. She pressed on ahead, wondering how either man had managed to find a wife.

Harry shared a look with Pete and nodded conspiratorially towards Gaines. ‘Here’s one for you. How’s a woman like a condom?’

Pete shrugged and ducked under a low branch.

‘Both spend more time in your wallet than on your prick.’

Gaines swivelled round, her face flushed red. ‘I’ve warned you before. Any more jokes like that and I’ll be reporting you for sexual harassment.’

‘Relax will you, Chloe. It’s just a joke. Jesus.’

‘It’s not just a joke.’

‘What do you do with 365 used condoms?’ Harry continued, as if to make a point. ‘Melt them down, make a tyre, and call it a Goodyear.’

As he uttered the punch line, his footing shot out from under him and he slid down a bank which had been hidden from view by the undergrowth, plunging into freezing black water.

Harry let out a roar. ‘Fuck! Jesus wept!’

Chloe and Pete hurried back and stared down the slope at him, neck deep in water.

‘Relax, you big girl,’ Pete said. ‘I’ll pass you the shampoo.’

‘Fuck you! I’ve found that fuckin’ knife.’ Harry’s hand emerged from the filthy water clutching the blade, blood seeping out between his fingers.

‘Don’t bleed on it!’ Gaines said. ‘You’re contaminating the evidence.’

‘Are you’re taking the piss? I’ve just managed to stab myself.’

‘Yeah, on a murder weapon! For Christ’s sake, Harry.’

‘I’ve just scared the shit out of myself sliding down here; I stab myself, and all you’re worried about is the poxy knife.’

‘It sounds like you better wash you underpants whilst you’re down there,’ Pete added.

‘And fuck you, too!’ Harry spluttered, shivering in the freezing pool. 'Get down here and help me out.’

Gaines kicked the condom, it plopping into water next to him. ‘Here, grab hold of that life raft.’

BIO: Rob Kitchin is director of a research institute in Ireland and is the author of two police procedural novels and author or editor of seventeen other books. His passions are reading and writing crime fiction and undertaking research on social issues. He blogs at The View from the Blue House and Ireland After NAMA.

A Twist Of Noir 618 - Nigel Bird


Tommy Atkins was made of bad things. Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails.

His parents knew it soon as he came out of the womb.

Bruce Robertson knew it more than most. He’d been Tommy’s muscle for a good while, twisting an arm here and there. Breaking or chopping them off if things got out of hand.

But Bruce didn’t mind. He was made of bad things, too.

People said he was rotten to the core.

Might have been better for him if he was. Wouldn’t have got himself into the mess he was in if they’d been right.

Somewhere in Bruce’s soul was sugar and spice and only Tommy knew it.

Most of the time Bruce’s nice side was about as easy to spot as a zebra on a crossing.

The night they went after Barnsey it was like an enormous zit on the end of a tiny nose.

Putting a bullet through a man’s head meant nothing to either of them.

Tommy took Barnesy out with a shot to the temple, no sweat.

It was the same with Barnesy’s wife. Bruce gave it to her while she slept. Let the pillow soak up blood and brains.

When it came to the kid, Bruce didn’t have it in him.

Hiding under the bed the child was a loose end that needed tying. But Bruce couldn’t tie it.

Sure, he squeezed the trigger, just not as hard as it required.

Instead of taking her out, Bruce walked away.

How was he to know she’d made them both? Was able to describe them to the police down to the finest detail as if it had been tattooed onto her eyeballs.

And now Tommy was coming for Bruce with everything he had.

They’d cornered him in the industrial estate on the outside of town.

Bruce laid-up. Hid in the attic of Cheeky Charlie’s. Only went down to buy food from the machines or when he needed the lavvy.

Three days and three nights he’d been there.

The diet of sweets and fizzy drinks had taken its toll and he was experiencing cramps from lying still for hours on end.

On the fourth day, he decided to give up. Lay and closed his eyes and willed himself to death. Only problem was his lungs wouldn’t stop and his pulse went on no matter how hard he tried.

And that’s when he saw it.

A spider wove its silken strands, threading and circling until a web was made.

Bruce felt a tear in his eye as the spider stood at the edge of its home waiting for unsuspecting visitors to call for dinner.

Patient it was, like a fisherman on the banks of the Tyne.

That night a storm pounded Charlie’s place. Made it rattle and shake as if it were about to cave in, but the metal sheets remained in place, not a bolt removed or out of sorts.

Only casualty was the spider’s web, ripped apart by a gust that whistled through the gaps.

The spider didn’t sit and mope, oh no. Just waited for the wind to end and started over, spinning and weaving like nothing had happened.

And Bruce was inspired.

Decided the only way to make a life was to get up off his arse and run for it. Start over in another town.

Besides, Tommy and his gang would have given up the ghost way before.

Took the spider in his palm and squeezed the life from it, then jumped to the floor, opened the door and ignored the alarm that sang out loud.

The first pop halted him where he stood. The second dropped him to his knees. The third, he knew nothing about.

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 recently had work published by ‘The Reader’ and ‘Crimespree’ and was interviewed by Spinetingler for their ‘Conversations With The Bookless’ series earlier this year. He recently won the ‘Watery Grave Invitational’ contest over at ‘The Drowning Machine’ and will have work published in Needle and in Dark Valentine Magazine this summer. He hopes to complete a draft of his first novel by the end of 2010.

A Twist Of Noir 617 - Thomas Larsen


He wakes with a gasp. They were having dinner in the Carnelian Room, back when he could still bring himself to go there. Denise walked him to the windows and they looked down on the city. The room began to swirl. He reached to steady himself and his hand went through the glass. Like a thin coat of ice then nothing to stop him. Still feels the shift of balance, a blind swipe behind then gone.

He stops drinking. Alcohol was never his problem but you get older, your body changes. OK, maybe it’s a problem, breaking his nose on a bender last summer, but not this kind of problem. He’s always had violent fantasies, but never so many, and never so vivid. What it’s a sign of couldn’t be good. He watches baseball to keep from sleeping. The games pass in a boring row.

At work he has a premonition he’s about to be shot, a sniper in another building drawing a bead even as he pictures it. Looking up he sees the pressroom reflected in the windows, himself perched at the paste-up table. Through the reflection lights from the parking lot stretch then fade to a row of houses long abandoned, a hundred windows aimed his way.

“Stop it,” he tells himself, but the feeling persists. He wouldn’t even hear the shot, just that final thought and lights out. And how you see that sort of thing all the time in the movies, even on television. Heads blown apart, limbs severed, guts slithering, more graphic than the real thing could ever be. Blowback and blood splatter and how it was when he was a kid. The guy grabbed his stomach and slumped to the floor. In the movie of his life his chin snaps back and his skull shatters in a million pieces. Even better, his feet fly up and he back-flips into the gore dappled copy machine.


Smoke break. He takes the elevator, down a long hallway and into the muck. Jesus, like an armpit out here. Stands deep in the corner away from the light, smoking and staring at the Hi Hat Bodega. Countless hours spent staring at it. The slight tilt, structural damage or the weight of the years, who knows. He’s never been in there. Never seen a white person go in or out. And now that he’s looking he notices potted plants on a third floor window ledge, then more plants on more ledges and other things, bottles and toys, a car battery, a hibachi. One drunken stumble, one clunk of a watering can away from going over. He takes the train in when he works days, walks the four block through Chinatown, a thousand ledges at the ready.

“Don’t do this,” he scolds himself. Millions of people walk these streets without incident. Don’t they? Would it even make the papers? Would they bother to tell us?

He sees what can only be a brick on the pavement near the bodega door. Running his eyes up he spots a gap in a row between the third floor windows, a black hole where a brick should be. A brick!

“Cave your fucking head in,” he hears himself mutter. Thinks of how they’d do it in the movies, a loud crunch and a burst of brain matter. Freak accident, out of the blue, countless ways to die and nothing to be done about it. He’s afraid to go in the water. He won’t fly and keeps a defibrillator in the drawer by the bed. And how will he be able to walk to the train station, four blocks, a million crumbling bricks, mortar gone to dust, ledges lined in deadly objects. If he can’t do it he can’t work, the downward spiral, things that prey on the mind, no end to them.

BIO: Tom Larsen has been a fiction writer for fifteen years, his work has appearing in Newsday, New Millennium Writing, Puerto del Sol and Antietam Review. His short story “Lids” was included in Best American Mystery Stories – 2004. His novel FLAWED was released in October. He’s been published here before.

A Twist Of Noir 616 - Tom Leins


No one knew his real name, but we called him the Rattlesnake Daddy. I remember the first time I met him: our mutual friends were trading poisons in the back-room, and we killed time swapping prison stories outside. I was sitting on a plastic lawn-chair, sweating like a sun-dog as the stale night air started to congeal. Despite the all-consuming heat Rattlesnake looked cold. Later that night, he introduced me to his girlfriend, Olivia. He claimed that she was the only seven-fingered prostitute for four States. After he had retired to bed, I stayed up with Olivia, drinking rum and cokes. Sometime before dawn she kissed me so hard that she almost dislocated my jaw. As she undressed, obscene thoughts rattled around my head like loose teeth. We fucked in the dirt, and afterwards I licked up her tears.

When I emerged from the guest bedroom a few hours later the Rattlesnake Daddy was kneeling on the threadbare carpet, piecing together an Elvis Presley jigsaw puzzle. Vague daylight crept into the trailer. He was sweating and shaking.

“What’s up? Are you sick?”

“Not sick, just blank.”

After breakfast he offered me a job. A low-level heist, taking down a Mexican seafood factory. His contact was an ex-wrestler known as Gringo Starr. He fought in Mexico for his whole career before getting forcibly retired when some punk with a Tijuana switchblade put his eye out in a parking lot brawl. Now he worked as a rent-a-cop at the factory for minimum wage and all the seafood he could eat. He said that the guy who ran the factory was too cheap to use an armoured car, and relied on a posse of backwater hoodlums to bank his takings for him. Easy money, he said. Like anything in this life is easy. Rattlesnake was gonna be the wheelman; me and a guy named Tiny Tony were the muscle. Yeah, the name was ironic: motherfucker weighed at least 400lbs.

In the employee parking lot the air felt dry and dangerous. The dusty black van rolled out of the depot and into the midday glare. Rattlesnake tapped the gas and nudged in front of it as it approached the perimeter gate. I levelled my shotgun through the open window and blasted the windshield indiscriminately, splintering it on impact. From where I was sitting it looked like at least one of them was leaking blood. We slipped out of the car. In Tiny Tony’s fat hands the firearm looked like a fucking squirt gun. We approached the back of the van, blistering sunshine making my face sweat inside the balaclava. The door creaked open and a guy with slicked back hair and a little moustache poked his head out, thin grin etched across his scarred face.

I remember hitting the deck as the semi-automatic weapon sprayed across the forecourt, peppering the employee’s cars. Riddled with bullets, Tiny Tony collapsed like a blood-filled lung. Fuck. Rattlesnake stepped out of the car, tooled up. He aimed across the hood and splattered the shooter’s skull meat across the van. As I picked myself off the ground I saw a thick spurt of salsa-coloured blood spray out of Rattlesnake’s chest. The driver spat something at me in Spanglish, and levelled his weapon at my face. I fired at him blindly and heard the dull impact of bullet on bone, before dragging the Rattlesnake Daddy across to the car, leaving a thick red smear on the gravel. I mashed the accelerator and swerved out of the parking lot, glancing across at the Rattlesnake Daddy, bloody words forming on his blue lips.

“We sure taught those punks a lesson, huh, kid?”

He bled out within an hour.

BIO: Tom Leins is from Paignton, UK. His short stories have appeared online at Beat The Dust, Hit & Run Magazine, Disenthralled, Flash Fiction Offensive, Powder Burn Flash and A Twist Of Noir. He also writes a weekly DVD column, entitled Sex, Leins & Videotape.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day Four Of The 600 To 700 Challenge Coming On Halloween

Trick or treat?

These stories definitely to appear...


Tom Larsen’s CRACKUP




Monday, October 25, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 615 - Patti Abbott


Ramir watched his father die in ’93, swearing he’d never touch the stuff. Not drugs, nor drink. The smell in Daddy’s room was enough to put him off. Daddy never got past Nam, talked about it for the next twenty-five years, dreamed about napalm, Agent Orange, rounds quickly jammed into a gun, jungle stuff. Hot sweaty nightmares, bone-chilling ones, waking everyone up with his moaning, yelling, thrashing. A bed board pounding the wall didn’t mean sex in the Obabie household. Daddy went to a Vet’s group once or twice, but no one down there encouraged his return. Tyrone was too damned angry for anyone to deal with. Except his wife—and not always her.

The three kids could hear Mama soothing Daddy in a sing-songy voice on those nights. “Gonna be alright, Baby. Gonna be alright.”

It wasn’t all right, though. Tyrone Obabie, who’d picked up the habit during his 1969 tour, cashed out because he couldn’t remember how much heroin he’d already put in his veins.

“Would’ve killed a horse,” the White Coat in the ER said.

“Maybe he wanted it that way,” Ramir’s older sister told White Coat in the corridor in her sassiest voice. She never was any good at dealing with men like him.

“Thirty years of drug use—should’ve done him in years ago.”

Ramir’s older sister had no quick comeback for that. White Coat turned his back on the Obabies.

“Your Daddy wasn’t meant to be a solider.” The children turned to look at Mama. Mama had never said a bad word about Ty, even if she was pretty much used-up by then. Was anyone meant for war, Ramir wanted to ask.

Ramir’s two sisters grew up to be school teachers—one teaching math in a community college. They married, even when nobody else was doing it. Had kids. Moved to Southfield—bought ranch houses with deep back lots that their husbands mowed on Saturdays. Put their father and his ranting and his drug use behind them. Helped their Mother out when she needed an extra twenty, a weekend away, a grandkid to hug.

Ramir—well nothing worked out the way he expected. Didn’t finish high school—even 11th grade—despite his sisters’ team-ragging him whenever they could. Him being the baby only got Ramir so far, and he was just a no-count drag on them eventually.

Mama—she finally tossed him out too— tired of finding his drug shit everywhere—scared of cars stopping outside the house late, sick of coming in from her job book-keeping at an auto parts supplier to find him unconscious on the sofa, weary of dialing 911, sitting by his hospital bed to see if he was gonna join his Daddy.

The only thing Ramir had going for him was his looks. Sometimes girls did tricks, then turned over the money. Not that he was a pimp. They did it without him asking—least most of the time. Put a ten or a twenty in his hand, stuck their hand down his pants. He put their hard-earned money in his nose or his vein. Had a girl out in Troy, white girl too, who earned a hundred dollars a pop. Fixed him up with a new dealer when his old one got sent to Wayne Country Correctional. Said this guy had some sweet stuff for him to try. Something new. Sheila, she was his favorite coochie all right. Took care of him good.

He did everything right, new needle, cleaned the vein, but that drug—that sweet stuff Sheila found—took him to another place, place he’d never been. Couldn’t move, couldn’t shout, couldn’t blink his eyes even. And eventually, he couldn’t breathe.

BIO: Patricia Abbott has published more than fifty stories in literary and crime fiction outlets. Check out more from Patti at Pattinase.

A Twist Of Noir 614 - Gary M. Dobbs


I shouldn’t have broke The Hub.

It did no good, had no effect other than momentarily confusing people. Most thought it was a trick, others didn’t even notice. I showed them the truth and they ignored it. It should have set their minds free and perhaps it would have had they wanted freedom, but freedom required effort and it was much more comforting to remain amongst the pack, allowing themselves the illusion of free will.


I can hear the words now even if they are inaudible to me. I know they are there, being constantly fed into my brain and thus I hear them or rather I imagine I hear them.

I hear them but I do not obey.

Soon I will be dead.

So it matters not and no-one will ever know of my efforts, of the greatness I achieved when I set everyone free, if only for the most fleeting of moments. I liberated them all but they did not want liberation. They had been bred under control, conditioned to that control and without the guiding hand of the government they were lost, nothing more than mindless zombies living a life of illusion. We, the people of this country, are nothing more than a part of the great machine. A cog to keep the wheels turning, to keep the rulers in the luxury they have become accustomed to while we toil believing we are improving our own lot, never considering the fact that there is only so far we can go. Only so far we are allowed to go. And the saddest bit of all this is that we could end all this, we could bring the rulers down, we have power and that terrifies those in control. And so they create this illusion, keep us in the so-called comfort zone, while we follow a destiny that is decided upon by a select few.

When they come for me, and it will be soon, they won’t be wearing jack-boots though they might as well be. They have no more freedom than I; they too are living the illusion. I wonder how my death will be reported? Will it be a suicide like my friend and colleague Gene, the weapons expert who was due to make a report to the War Commission, when he suddenly and inexplicably committed suicide? It was Gene’s death that led me to stumble onto The Hub.

The Hub, that’s what they call it.

It’s a suitable enough name.

Subliminal messages – there had been experiments with this form of brainwashing for decades. The American Government were running experiments in the Fifties – It was known as the MK-Ultra program but the experiments were condemned and closed down. No one ever considered that the clandestine experiments would continue but in the mid Sixties the British government started The Hub.

At first, The Hub was basic, consisting of subliminal messages broadcast over the television and on the cinema screens, and were only marginally successful but these days the system has improved considerably – substances to make us more susceptible to the suggestions are placed in our water, our foodstuff and the messages, too high pitched for human hearing but registering on a subconscious level, are broadcast at an amazing speed – the experts claim a mind boggling 614 times each second. Broadcast from televisions, CTV systems, bank machines, speed cameras, any electronic device – there is no way to avoid the messages, the mind control. That was until I, a junior minister with only limited clearance, managed to get into the control centre and close everything down.

Here they come.

I can hear them.

It’s over now.

BIO: Gary Dobbs writes under both his own name and that of Jack Martin. You can find out more about Gary at The Tainted Archive.

A Twist Of Noir 613 - Chris Benton


I’m back in the packing department just after lunch break when I hear the first shots. I know it is Dean, and I don’t need gunshots to tell me that fucking him was the worst mistake of my life.

I met Dean during a grave-yarder I took a week ago at Cornfield Optical. After work we went with a few of the crew to Whitey’s for breakfast then headed to Dean’s trailer, which was stocked with supernatural amounts of beer and weed. Dean was a handsome dude, quiet with a razor sharp wit. When the rest our co-workers left, he put on Patsy Cline and we danced until noon before he took me by the hand and slowly led me into his bedroom.

I never liked men with big dicks; I’m a tiny woman, a quantifiable munchkin. The reason I say this is because most men I’ve known with big dicks like to give it crazy, with remorseless pride, like I’m supposed to thank them for any possible hemorrhages. Dean had a big dick, but he didn’t wield it like a weapon, he was slow, he was tender, and he liked kissing. He was a good kisser, and he didn’t want to chew my nipples like bubblegum. The only problem was that he nearly strangled me to death in his sleep. I managed to wake him up with an ashtray to the head and was already out the door and putting my car in reverse wearing nothing but a t-shirt when he stumbled out of his trailer chasing after me naked and screaming. For the next several days he left messages on my machine that only man-eating Martians could translate. I deleted all of them.

Why have I always attracted psychos? Is it karmic? I didn’t use to believe in that shit but now I’m wondering if maybe I ate my kids for breakfast in a past life.

More shots and a roaring jolt tell me God is in a bad mood today. We begin running under flickering rows of fluorescents toward the shipping docks. Smoke is crawling behind us like a vengeful promise. There’s another explosion and I think of Dean again, how a single man can contain such destruction. All this is my fault, I guess; I fucked a maniac. I made a bad call and it is killing people. I vow right then to become a lesbian if I survive.

The doors in the shipping docks wouldn’t open. There are curses and screams crashing into the walls and one of my co-workers, Christy, just gives up and curls into a fetal ball behind a crate. Christy used to talked tough shit after hours but I guess disaster brings out the truth in people.

Lang is on it though, hero-style. Lang worked at Cornfield for almost twenty years and he already has a ladder poised beneath an open window twelve feet above us.

As we climb greedily towards salvation, workers on fire begin rushing into the shipping docks like angels with their heads chopped off. You know what people do when they’re on fire? They want to run up to you and give you a great big hug. They don’t want to drop and roll, they want you to burn in hell too. We dodge and kick and burn our arms and fists fighting away these poor bastards until they finally crumble to the floor.

I’m last up the ladder crawling through the window when my left breast blows apart into the smoky wind. I find myself suddenly soaring with the cold wings of shock toward mountain peaks of darkness. I guess I can kiss my future life as a lesbian goodbye.

BIO: Chris Benton was born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina where he still resides. He can be found on Facebook.

A Twist Of Noir 612 - Matthew C. Funk


Mister Saturday’s people didn’t have to use the duct tape on Dell. The old man met them with just a nod. He wrote a note on a sandwich wrapper in felt tip pen and left his shotgun house’s door unlocked.

In the RAV4, on the way to Mister Saturday’s canal-side shack, Benny and Anton watched anything but Dell. Dell watched Florida District’s rowhouses - the neat and peeling crowd tight as a funeral procession.

“Been making you and Anton sandwiches since before you both were tall enough to see over the deli counter,” Dell said. “No sense in being ungracious now.”

“Yeah.” Benny spun the rabbit foot on his keychain. “We real sorry ’bout this, though.”

“That makes three of us, then.”

“Who would’ve thought the Saints would go from winning the Superbowl to losing at Arizona.” Benny snorted. “Arizona! Still, they lost, and you were told what’d happen if you lost another, as deep in to Mister Saturday as you are.”

“We don’t need to talk it over,” Dell said.

“No.” Anton quit grinding his teeth for a moment. “We don’t.”

They turned down Law Street in silence. Houses gave way to ruins, ruins to desolated lots gone mad with high, green growth.

“Still,” Benny said, “being a good sport for a man about to die.”

Inside the shack, Benny showed Dell the killing chair. Anton roamed the rust-showered room, getting the cleaning tools.

“Set on down, Dell,” Benny said. “Won’t be a moment.”

“Not yet, dog.” Anton shot Benny a look. “You know that.”

Dell waited. His phone rang in his pocket. Benny saw Dell’s hands begin to shake.

“You can get that,” Benny said.

“My affairs are settled.”

“Tight,” Benny muttered, nodded, waiting until Anton unrolled the tarp. He lifted the chair and Anton slid the plastic under.

“Now you can sit.” Benny resisted taking Dell’s shaking hand and guiding him. “Sorry ’bout before.”

“You can stop saying that,” Dell said.

“Sit on down.” Anton placed Dell in the chair by his shoulder. Benny’s phone rang. He checked the number. He looked at Dell.

“It’s Denisha.” Benny waggled the phone. “Want me to tell her?”


“We’ll let you talk to your daughter, Dell.”


Benny cancelled the call. Anton drew the Beretta. He ran his thumb over the filed-down serial numbers. It smoothed his breathing.

“Don’t know how in God’s green Earth it happened.” Benny sighed. “Saints losing to Arizona.”

“You can stop saying that, too,” Dell said, hands clasped, quaking.

“But laying 50 large on them when you a deli man already twenty-five in the hole?” Benny choked, cancelling another incoming call. “Why, Dell? Fucking nothing certain in the world.”

“Except that Mister Saturday gets his due.” Anton leveled the gun barrel at Dell’s head. He aimed just above the fringe of grey. He waited, eyelids in frenzy.

“Except that.” Benny shut his mouth tight. Dell shut his eyes and opened his nose deep to take in the smell of the river and the Projects, sauced together in summer heat. Anton could not breathe.

Anton pulled the trigger.

Dell’s body took a long time following his brains to the ground. It curled there like something burnt.

“Shit, dog,” Anton whined. “I just killed Dell.”

“Had to be.” Benny coughed through a sob. His phone rang - Denisha, again. He turned away to look out the window at herons picking through trash.

“What up?”

“Don’t!” Denisha bawled. “It wasn’t him!”


“I laid the bet!”


“To get Daddy out from Saturday’s debt! To finally get him free!”

Benny looked back down at Dell, and thought that if one thing was certain, it was that nothing in life was free.

BIO: Matthew C. Funk is a social media consultant, professional marketing copywriter and writing mentor. He is the editor of the Genre section of the critically acclaimed zine, FictionDaily, and a staff writer for FangirlTastic and Spinetingler Magazine. A graduate of the Professional Writing MFA at USC, Funk’s 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 611 - Chad Eagleton


They worked in the dark and in the cold, not stopping until morning lay just on the other side of the ridge. A few headlights had just begun breaking through the thin spots in the tree line to flare briefly before vanishing and reappearing farther down the highway’s snake curves.

Hank lit a menthol and offered the pack. “Nice someone’s still got a job.”

Pete refused the cigarettes. “Yeah, must be nice,” he said. “A regular paycheck.”

Hank looked at his friend. “You’re not having second thoughts, are you?”

“No,” he said. “This was my idea, remember?”

“And you know where we can unload this?”

“Yeah, I do. Unload it with no questions and a fair price.”

“Just making sure.” Hank sat the Folger’s can beside him and tapped the ash off his cigarette. “How much is a fair price?” Hank patted the tarp covering the truck bed full of copper wiring and copper pipes. “What’s the price of copper?”

“Fair,” Pete said again and then added, “but not nearly enough.”

Hank nodded. “How’s Cinda?”

Pete looked at him. “She’s fine.”

“Does she know what we’re doing?”

“Course not. Do you think she’d be fine with all this?”

Hank stared at the three vacant houses and the skeletons of two more unfinished.

“No, she’s a good woman.”


“How long before they notice?”

Pete looked up into the brightening sky. “If we get out of here before the snows come...once we turn the security lights back on...hopefully, at least a week.”

“They’ll probably blame it on meth heads.”

“That’s the idea,” Pete said, pulling his work gloves from his back pocket.

Hank killed his smoke. “We really need to turn those back on?”

“If we get as much snow as they say we’re supposed to, someone’s going to at least do a drive-by. If all the lights are dark, that’s gonna raise suspicions.”

“Don’t want that.”

“We don’t want that.”

As Pete walked from the truck to the first security light, the snow had just begun to fall. He took a chilled breath and scaled the pole.

Hank waited by the truck and lit another cigarette. “Maybe, we could all go to dinner next week?” he yelled up at Pete.


“Maybe we can all go to dinner next week? You, me and Cinda?”

“No,” he yelled down. “She’ll wonder where we got the money.”

Hank nodded. “Maybe I’ll take her to dinner,” he said quietly.

“Hey,” Pete yelled down.

Hank startled. Fuck, he heard—the security lights brightened to life. Hank relaxed.

“We’re set. Go flip the junction box. It’s the one in the blue house.”

“What?” he asked even though he had heard.

“Go flip the junction box.”

Hank tossed his cigarette in the can and gave Pete a thumbs-up.

From his perch, he watched Hank enter the house and walk past the kitchen windows. A flashlight kicked on. The security lights flared, dimmed, and then darkened.

Pete climbed down the pole. He moved around the left side of the house and opened one side of the kitchen doors. He crouched and looked through the door.

Hank lay on the floor, hands clenched in awkward claws while little wisps of smoke rose from his clothes. He made a noise. An awful, pained noise.

Pete wiped snot from his lip. “You didn’t fucking think I’d know?”

Hank didn’t answer.

“Well, I do know, you fucking motherfucker.”

Hank answered with a right hand spasm, a nail-blackened dance. He tried to open his mouth. The soldered fillings kept it closed.

“You wanted to know how much we’d get for this? Well, now you know. This is the price of copper.”

BIO: Chad Eagleton lives in Indiana. He has been published in DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash, Pulp Pusher, Bad Things, Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Darkest Before The Dawn (in collaboration with Keith Rawson) and Beat To A Pulp.

A Twist Of Noir 610 - Eric Beetner


Henry had never stolen a thing in his previous 87 years, but there was another package on the reception desk. Assisted living, my ass, he thought. Time to start doing some living for myself.

Every month that sonofabitch Leonard got a package from his kids. Cookies, usually. And that daughter-in-law was one hell of a cook. Henry’s total mail haul in the past nine years? Zero.

Leonard liked to spread his treats around, seem generous. Really he was rubbing it in that his kids gave a shit.

Sure, gave a shit enough to lock you in this prison with rubber sheets. Cocky bastard. Fuck him.

Reception was unmanned by any Care Technicians™, as they were called in the brochure. Glorified janitors is what they were. Emptying trash cans or removing yet another body after a resident croaked was the same to them.

Henry limped forward on his cane, his neck straining to check the hallways for witnesses, pulse quickening at the thought of committing a crime. He’d get that package to his room and wolf down all two dozen cookies before anyone realized it was gone. He hoped like hell they were oatmeal chocolate chip.

He heard Lonnie’s wet cough first. She’d been hacking out bits of her lung for over four years now with no break. Didn’t even care to cover her mouth or spit into a tissue anymore. You’d hear the creak of her walker, the skid of those cut-in-half tennis balls on the base, the thick splat of bloody mucus hitting the linoleum floor and you’d know who was coming.

Henry watched her approach. Slow as tar and she smelled worse. At her pace his window of opportunity was closing – fast. As decrepit as she had become, Lonnie probably wouldn’t even notice him snatch the package. Maybe he could cut her in for a half dozen. Nah, fuck it.

Lonnie hacked, spit and kept on walking. The gob of wobbly phlegm flattened across the floor like a squashed slug. Henry almost lost his appetite, but then realized stealing the package wasn’t about the cookies anymore.

Just like that, he crossed over. He became a criminal. The crime was the thing. The doing, not the reward. He liked the feeling even better than his afternoon pills.

Nilda came out of the back room, laughing. Her white uniform splotchy with stains, her teeth yellow with nicotine. Damn girl doesn’t give a shit about anyone in here. Doubt she even knows anyone’s name, Henry thought.

When Nilda saw Henry wobbling forward on his cane her smile faded away. She avoided his eyes and sat down, pretending to work.

The appeal of that package became greater than ever. It wasn’t just a snatch and go. He had to figure out how to pull off this caper.

Lonnie coughed. Henry smiled.

He turned to his right, took two shuffling steps forward to pass Lonnie, neither one acknowledging the other. When he was beside her, he flipped his cane down to the floor, hooked the hand grip around her ankle.

She went down.

A weak yell was cut off by her face hitting the floor. The slap of her flesh against linoleum was sharp, immediately followed by a loud hack and a flying clot of blood and some other substance from deep within her chest that splattered on the floor in front of her like spray from a gunshot wound.

Nilda leapt from her chair, one of the other Care Technicians™ came sprinting from behind the desk. Henry slipped the package up under his arm and limped off to his room.

Yeah, he thought, I could get used to a life of crime.

BIO: Eric Beetner is the co-author of the novel One Too Many Blows To The Head, along with JB Kohl. The select few who have read it say it is really good. His short stories are all over the web in various crime fiction zines. More novels have been completed and are searching for a home like a three-legged dog on the side of the highway at rush hour. He could never write anything as twisted as Jason Duke but he welcomes the opportunity.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Third Day Of The 600 To 700 Challenge Coming Monday

After discovering that a number of stories have suffered from the Word Count Flu, and having to regretfully drop notes to various writers to let them in on the bad news that they were either short or long on the count (and there will unfortunately be more to come as I haven’t read every last story that I have in my possession yet), we are back on track in the 600 To 700 Challenge.

I want to thank everyone for their patience and especially all of the writers that I’ve contacted thus far, who, in some cases, took back their stories and reworked them a little bit so that they would come up to or back down to count.

Now then, the stories.

Here’s what to expect tomorrow...

Eric Beetner’s LATE START


Matthew C. Funk’s CERTAIN SAINTS

Chris Benton’s BAD CALL

Gary M. Dobbs’s 614



Friday, October 15, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 609 - Robert Crisman


When Michelle went ho-ing at Wong’s, she knew there’d be lots of guys winging right in. Pimps and wannabes wanting to snatch up the new star in town, the suburban princess gone wrong.

They’d want to take her all the way up on the mountain and show her the valley below...

Romero spoke of practical matters. He had a megawatt smile that showed his gold tooth with the diamond. He dressed all pimp hip-hop, a cliché for days...

Romero suggested that he and Michelle go to Phoenix.

“Really, Romero, Phoenix? Why would I want to go to Phoenix?”

“Sunshine, baby, all warm and toasty.” He laughed. “You lounge around in a bikini all day by the pool, drinkin’ your Cuervo an’ workin’ on your tan. And meanwhile, they got all these wealthy retired down there, baby. All them old men just bakin’ away in the sun. Got nothin’ to do, they used to run Intel or somethin’ up here, they cashed in their chips an’ now they got all the time in the world on their hands, an’ now they just waitin’ for you. They see you there by the pool, they send a drink over an’ take you to dinner. You ride in stretch limos to all the best shows.” He grinned. “You be the belle of the ball down in Phoenix.”

“And what would you be?”

“I be with you.”

“Uh huh. And then what?”

Romero grinned. He loved to spar. “Look, girl, you in a strange town, Phoenix. You never been there, don’t know nobody but me, and you need somebody make the way smooth. Make sure nobody come up on your blind side, all that. All them places, shit, this town, Seattle, you workin’, you out there. Always them dudes, they got the big teeth, they just wanna take it, you know what I’m sayin’?

“A girl get hurt. I make sure that don’t happen.”

“Uh huh. Well—”

“I’m tellin’ you, baby, it’s cold in this world. On Aurora right now. All over the world...”

“Well, that might be true, but we’re indoors now. It’s way nice and toasty in here.”

“Yeah, baby, now. But shit do happen, you know? A man keep shit off you and—”

“God, Romero! You make it sound like a protection racket!” She laughed.

Romero stayed deadpan. “Everybody needs a little protection, girl.”

“I have protection,” Michelle said. “Lena’s friends.”

Lena, Michelle’s buddy at Wong’s, was friends with some bikers who’d motor on by on the weekends. Pimps and the bikers stayed clear of each other.

“Them bikers come in here?” Romero laughed. “Baby, they take you and sell you right out of the trunk of some car in some fuckin’ small town. Run trains on your pretty white ass.”

Michelle blinked. “I don’t think so...”

Romero gave her a long moment’s hooded-eyed look and then got up from his chair. “You think about what I been tellin’ you, girl. I talk to you later.” He flashed her the megawatt grin. “You pretty, girl, I swear to God. Every time you come in, the fellas be thinkin’ it’s recess in heaven.” He laughed, winked, walked away.

Awhile later, Michelle left the bar, her thoughts in a tangle. Romero, his predator’s smile; she saw herself kidnapped and beaten and stuck in the trunk of a car driven south... Stereotypical drama for sure, but the fear was real in her throat.

Next night, Michelle bought a gun from this guy that she knew for $75 and some pussy. He also sold her some bullets. She hoped the thing had a firing pin.

Pimps, bikers, whatever, she needed protection.

All these guys winging...

BIO: Robert Crisman writes crime and noir fiction. He spent 15 years on streets in downtown Seattle and has some idea of what really goes on in these realms. He has stories at A Twist of Noir, Fictionaut, Yellow Mama and Darkest Before Dawn. A movie he scripted, Chasing the Dopeman, is currently in post-prod down in L.A. and, with luck, it’ll be ready to go sometime this fall. He maintains a blog, chock full of stories, at 6S.

A Twist Of Noir 608 - Col Bury


Some people are just born lucky...

When I felt pigeon shit splatter my shoulder as I simultaneously slipped in a doggy dump, you could say that was unlucky, but it changed my life no end.

Now, I’m not superstitious - couldn’t give a toss about all that lark really. But I read the signs, clean myself up and go to pick up my dole. I neck the compulsory couple of cans of Special Brew, go to the bookies and pop a score on the old fixed odds. Now, I’m pretty damn good at picking the footy results, and with the double-dose-of-shit-thing happening, I think, Fuck it - why not make it fifty? After all, it’s those taxpaying suckers’ cash, innit?

Anyway, my ten results come in and I roll like a pig in shit. Five fuckin grand! Well £5,122.36 to be precise. A couple of ecstatic calls later and me ‘n’ the boys are cruising around town, all fuckin steaming, since we drop two E’s apiece and have a constant joint on the go between bars.

I was driving as usual, simply because I was always the driver on jobs we’d done and, anyway, I’d nicked the Vauxhall. Keys in the ignition, on the driveway, engine running, piece of piss. The look on the owner’s face, as he came round the corner of his house clutching a pissin hose pipe, was a picture, I’ll tell yer.

Next stop...Long Legs!

“My Chrimbo treat, boys,” I say, wiping stray remnants of coke from my nostrils, tossing each lad a crispy fifty.

“Aw, look at the tits on that,” said Gimp, just a little too loud.

To be honest, they are crackin Babylons, but I tell him to cool it as the management are a bit keen. We all take a seat, watch and wait, trying not to dribble.

This stunning blonde in black sussies and high heels makes a beeline for me. I glance heavenwards when she sits on my lap, the boys’ mouths gaping.

“Hey, Big Boy, fancy a private dance?” Her accent’s Czech as well!

My dick answers for me and she grins, leading me by the hand, the boys gaping some more.

Five minutes later, the sleazy music stops and beneath my jeans a manic Boa is trapped in a sack. She clocks my raging cock, her tongue sliding across a dirty smile.

“Do you do extras? I’ve won dosh...” I show her the roll of fifties.

Next thing, the Boa escapes and, in a pulse, is skilfully covered in latex.

“Mister Lucky gets fucky-fucky!’ Leering, she climbs on board, rides me bucking bronco style. My musical taste changes forever, as we sweat and thrust to Duran Duran’s Wild Boys. Such is my euphoria, I’m fuckin singing along!

A few high-fives later, and I lead the lads to the Vauxhall, me almost floating there, thinking, ain’t life grand... five fuckin grand! We hit a few more bars, beat some prick up who gave us the eye - he’ll live... just. Gimp always takes exception to eye contact, and he’s me mate, innit? We have more beers, weed and sniff, then about 10.15 P.M. we head for a club. I drive, of course, like I always do.

Now, let me ask you a question... I know it’s Christmas ‘n’ all, but what responsible fuckin parent would take their seven year old daughter shopping up town at 10.15 at night?


My ‘lifer’ cellmate Jerome gives me the eye when I tell him about the kid I killed. The news is received like I’ve called Mike Tyson a willy-wufter. Beginning to regret my blabbing, I back off into the corner of the cell.

BIO: Col Bury is the Co-Editor of webzine Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers and is currently re-writing a crime novel. His ever-growing selection of short stories can be found here on ATON, Six Sentences, Blink-Ink, Flash Fiction Offensive & TKnC. He has forthcoming stories in Pill Hill Press 365 Days of Flash and Even More Tonto Stories. He blogs & interviews crime authors at Col Bury’s New Crime Fiction.

A Twist Of Noir 607 - Robert Crisman


Roanne hungered.

Memory had ruled her forever. Shards, really, edged like machetes: daddy, whose fingers had eyes in the dark. Momma, ensconced in the shadows.

A church full of short eyes scoping the pretties...

The school playground—swoopings, formations, attacks. The girl she spit on. The boy who lit matches. A first stolen kiss. The snide little wannabe rapists who lifted her dress in a dark-cornered hallway. The nun who blamed her...

It was as if she’d been stripped and then laughed at in front of the whole third grade class...

Later, there was this movie she saw. In it, a woman, tall, muscled, proud, toting an uzi, and dressed in an outfit that flowed down her body, inseparable from her, weaving together the beauty, strength, and allure that made her The Queen.

The Queen wore a crown, a little black hat, a shell of black feathers, tipped forward to the side, with a veil that covered one eye.

The Queen! She held her gun ready and ruled. In circling attendance, a covey of young, supple gangsters. She was their rock, the dream they all dreamed of.

She stood there, inviolate, serene. She took Roanne over...

Roanne dreamed she’d be Queen. But her legs were...too short...

Wisdom has it, however, that clothes make the woman; they mold, sharpen flesh. Roanne had an eye for design; she could turn shadow to sinew. She would be Queen. The world would fall at her feet...

Women would give themselves over to her to be honed for war. She’d reshape the world: all women, men’s eyes...

Men’s eyes! Like all pretty girls, Roanne had been raised to be bait for boys. Which meant life lived in the prison of skin.

Boys tapped on her nerves—especially the bad boys who spit on the old folks’ religion. They somehow embodied a Fuck-You-All freedom denied her...a ticket away to some faraway place...

But their cruelties and callous indifference, their drumming, incessant need—what could these do in the end except sharpen her strong sense of place in the margins?

There were the yoyos, of course, yoyos who’d lick the shit off her shoes for the chance to get next. She filed these away for use later on...

Bait for boys; she’d use it, embrace it, and somehow escape it thereby...

She’d reshape men’s eyes and be free...

Roanne went downtown, age 14. Where the lights are all bright and the shadows are sleek. The Lost Paradise. Bad boys in heaven and she right there with them...

And Dope...

Roanne would be Queen. She’d learn how to game and get over, to outwit the wolves, fleece the lambs, run the maze. Then, past the maze, she’d exhume the dream and reshape the world.

She’d retire in the end to a house on a hill, where no danger or dread could ever molest her again.

She would live the American Dream, the Dream that ends in a splendor of uncaring comfort and ease, that soothes like a breeze on a raft floating down the White Nile, with the softest of suns caressing her lips and her brow and her breasts, and whispering the sweetest of nothings.

The Dream is 10,000 years old. It soothes just like chiva...

Roanne found her power.

She found it one night in the badlands. In the back of a fifth-rate hotel, in the room that holds all lost children.

She’d been dodging bandits.

She came there to rest and replenish.

She was so hungry.

A smorgasbord there on the table! She tied off and tucked in...

Roanne found her power and power reshaped her.

She hungered for more...

BIO: Robert Crisman writes crime and noir fiction. He spent 15 years on streets in downtown Seattle and has some idea of what really goes on in these realms. He has stories at A Twist of Noir, Fictionaut, Yellow Mama and Darkest Before Dawn. A movie he scripted, Chasing the Dopeman, is currently in post-prod down in L.A. and, with luck, it’ll be ready to go sometime this fall. He maintains a blog, chock full of stories, at 6S.

A Twist Of Noir 606 - Phil Beloin Jr.


I was maneuvering towards the bar in my living room, when I ran into Larry, my dipso editor. He told me about a statistic that would be appearing in tomorrow’s newspaper—eleven percent of married people admitted to having an affair.

“How would they know that?” I said.

Larry kicked back some of my free bourbon. “Huh?” he replied. “Oh, pollsters, I guess.”

Yeah, like I’d admit that for a poll.

My eyes wandered the room until they found Beth commingling with her university troupe. My wife looked ravishing in her dandy dress and coiled coif.

“My marriage is falling apart,” I said.

Larry pretended not to hear me over the jazz wafting from the speakers and the partygoer’s jibber jabber. “Great party, Mike.”

We were having the shindig catered. Money had never been a problem for Beth and I; she being a tenured professor of American Lit while I had been a scribe at the local newspaper. Words had been our bond. Beth had never wanted any surnamed piglets—instead we focused on our careers and the accumulation of the trivialities and look at us shine in our Victorian manse filled with Victorian antiquities and guests I couldn’t stand.

They were mostly Beth’s crowd, teachers and teachers’ aids, a few grad students studying to be teachers or teachers’ aids. I had invited a few newspaper colleagues but most—like Larry—were getting sour on Kentucky’s finest.

“I still love her, Larry,” I said.

My editor was giving the watery mix in the bottom of his glass the last full measure of his devotion.

“I’ve had urges,” I said. “Many times.”

“What’s that?”

“Other women.”

Larry’s head snapped up. “Where, Mike?”

Beth stood in the center of her co-workers, her mouth moving, her arms pantomiming. When she laughed, her circle did. Those intellectual types were quite a crowd—I never saw a finer group of suck-ups.

“I think I’m finished with the paper,” I said.

Larry swallowed the rest of his drink. “This is excellent bourbon, Mike,” he said. “Really top shelf stuff.”

Larry had me covering humanity’s dregs—their flawed emotions destroyed countless lives. There was no transcendence in tragedy—just something that would fill three columns—keep it around six hundred words. I ingested a deluge of carnage, and it jaded me. Beth knew so.

Perhaps I should have perused all those great tomes in my honey’s barrister bookcases. Maybe the answers to my bitterness were buried within all those yellowing and moldy pages. But fuck it, right?

I do know this: my first temptation at a renewed spirit was within arm’s reach. She worked as an intern at the paper: a strawberry blonde whose hair was more golden than red. Her eyes sparkled with naivety, and her dopey smile wiped away the filth I wrote about each day.

“I believe the game’s up, Larry,” I said.

“Who’d you pick to win?”

My eyes turned towards Beth and her sycophants again. I don’t think my wife knew about that eleven percent statistic. I don’t think she knew that I had covered an arson fire last week either—she never read my work anymore. The smoke had drifted over a motel where I saw my dazzling spouse and one of her grad students leaving a room together. While I had been tempted, all I ever did was fantasize.

I remained true, Beth.

After the party, when the revelers have reveled away, Beth will want to make love to hide her indiscretion. I will make love for another reason.

I wondered if those pollsters had figured out the percentage of cuckolds who will resort to homicide.

BIO: Check out Phil Beloin’s first novel, The Big Bad, on Amazon. Search through the book. Read a page. Phil recommends page one.

A Twist Of Noir 605 - Phil Beloin Jr.


Yep, mercy me and my faithless masculine squirting, picking up a half-nudie Mex gal and taking her to my motel room. After showering, I exited the can, refreshed and clean, but the ten dollar whore had stolen my Bel-Air with eight gees of loot locked in the trunk.

The keys were in my pants’ pocket hanging from the shower bar. Had she hot-wired the car? Doubtful.

But someone might have told her where the spare key was magnetized by the left rear wheel.

Only Roy could of.

Roy, my two-timing partner had out two-timed me. It’s clunky, I know, but apt.

After the bank heist and we was hiding out, but Roy wanted his cut, for booze, for pussy. Me, too, buddy. About a week into this, I beat him like pulp. Left him lying in the shack. Took the money and the getaway car.

This was to flesh out any potential Roy cohorts and future headaches.


In this instance, it was actually flesh used.

His girl’s.

I stepped out of the motel room and saw the tailfins of the Bel-Air motoring towards the downtown monuments of respectability. You know, stores and folks following all the foolhardy rules of society. Charlatans, if you’re asking.

I went over to the Packard I had parked here last week—telling the motel man I was going into the woods to hunt, don’t expect me to be around much. He had said, “Six dollars a day, plus the state gets a nickel tax.”

“Six-oh-five you say?” I had said.

“Yep’em. That’s your number.”

I had given the codger ten days worth of rent.

Now, I fired up the old Packard and followed the Bel-Air.

No need to hurry, though. Roy didn’t know about the Packard and his gal was probably too giddy about screwing me over to notice it either.

I drove by the bank Roy and I had hit a week ago, fedora pulled low on my brow.

A few miles later, the Bel-Air long gone from my view, I turned onto the dirt road. There was residual dust floating in the dry air, though it could have been from the breeze. I knew better of course.

I had picked up Roy’s hunny on this road. She had been fake hitchhiking—see, this path went only to the abandon shack where Roy and I were laying low. And with Roy whining about girlie parts all the time, I had had my doubts about this Mexy chick, though I hoped she might put out first before any true intentions were blown.

No such luck.

I had to park a good distance away. The motor would have carried.

I ran to the cabin. I didn’t beat Bannister’s four minute mile, but that English sissy wasn’t wearing a rakish fedora, a seersucker suit and carrying hardware, either.

I let my breathing slow down as I approached the shanty, the trunk of the Bel-Air open.

Those two dupes were making frenzied whoopee when I peered through a crack in the wall. Jesus, that swarthy gal was a perpetual motion machine, but sadly, Roy’s machinery didn’t last, breaking down and leaking all over. During their post-coital bliss—which was more like some mop up action I had seen in a Seoul cathouse during the Korean War fiasco—I stepped inside, waving my rod around.

“Hola, amigos,” I said.

Then I noticed the swag spread under their butts.

I mean really.

I’d like to say it was a struggle, but they were speechless, and I didn’t have a lot of words left in me either— emotionally, ha, ha—so I shot them both dead.

BIO: Phil Beloin Jr. still claims mental stability. His novel, The Big Bad, is on Amazon and you can even read a page or two. Phil suggests page one. The book is also in independent bookstore in the Connecticut New York border area. E-mail Phil for a list of places,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Second Day Of The 600 To 700 Challenge

What can you expect tomorrow?

How about...

Phil Beloin Jr.’s SIX-OH-FIVE A DAY, A Nameless Psycopath Mystery, Part 2

Phil Beloin Jr.’s ELEVEN PERCENT

Robert Crisman’s A DREAM LAY IN WAIT




Monday, October 11, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 604 - Phil Beloin Jr.


I was leaving the shanty on this hell bound dirt road when I saw this beautiful creature hitching along the shoulder. I pulled up next to her. The dust cloud trailing after the Bel-Air like a lawman swooped past us, but not an iota of grit stuck to her. A miracle that—much like the birth of the Baby Jesus. Hey, what you think happened to Mary’s hymen after the birth? Oh, forget it, that’s for later. Let me tell you about this vestal standing outside my window—a fresh Mexy chick with a swarthy outer layer, black hair stretching to Oz, and there was smoke in them dark eyes. A smoldering heat that prickled me.

“Need a lift, honey?”

“Yes. Much thank you.”

Not a harsh accent, probably born right here in the U.S. of A of Texas.

As she shuffled into the front seat, I noticed she wasn’t wearing much—her sandals were probably covering the most skin. Her skirt skirted decency and her brassiere from the Sears and Roebuck catalog musta’ got lost in the mail. Maybe her postman was one of them perverts you read about in them Gold Medal books.

“Where you headed, baby?”

“Into town, señor.”

“Hey, what a coincidence.”

The dirt road petered out at the 604 and I went left.

“This is a nice car,” she said. “Almost new.”

“I took it from this guy.”

“I no understand.”


“You must have much money.”

“Muchodinero, baby.”

Miles later, I rolled into the burg. It had been peppered with the usual Americana debris—a general store, apothecary, motel...and, oh yeah, a savings and loan without much security.

“How much would ten bucks get me?” I said to my sunshine.

“Anything,” she said.

A did I ever guess?

“There is this place, señor, with beds just through town road.”

“I know where it is, honey.”

“You do?”

“I already got me a room there.”

“You will never forget me.”

I had that feeling, too.


I pulled in next to this aging Packard and we strolled inside my musty room. I shouda’ left a window cracked.

“You a big, strong man, yes?”

“Thanks for noticing.”

She took my hands in hers. “Your hand is red. Bruised.”

“Had a fight with this guy.”

“About the car?”

“He lost.”

“I can tell.”

“Though I do feel a little achy.”

“You dirty, too,” she said. “I want you to be clean and you feel better.”

“Take everything off, first,” I said, “but the espadrilles.”

“You want a little lookie now?”


She wiggled the skirt off, thin hips, thin legs, a huge dark muff going for her belly button. No baby had lunched on her titties, neither.

I didn’t really want to shower, but I hadn’t paid her. Where would she go?

I sang the ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’ as I soaped myself in the shower. My excitement never wavered—not even during that tricky third verse.


The whore was right. Post-shower, my muscles were looser. Roy had put up a good tussle, but I’d never pick a partner I couldn’t whip.

Or trust.

So we had left the Bel-Air at the shanty for the getaway car. Money in the trunk. Wait for things to settle. Then hit the road and divvy up.

But hanging with Roy in a one room shack for a week wasn’t particularly enjoyable. He was always whining how he needed a woman, a real toilet instead of a privy, a shower instead of a cold get the idea.

I came out of the can to an empty bed. The Bel-Air was missing, too.

BIO: Phil Beloin Jr. is not a psycho, but his mental health provider might disagree. Writing, the quack says, is good therapy. Bull. Booze, broads, smokes—that’s the only kinda therapy a man needs. Read all about self-destructive behavior in Phil’s first novel, The Big Bad, available over there on Amazon.

A Twist Of Noir 603 - Matthew McBride


I dropped the bag on the kitchen table and Jerry Springfield came to life. His eyes became silver dollars in an instant. His mouth began to water.

That’s what I expected. Good quality mushrooms tend to have that effect on a guy. Especially a guy like Jerry. A guy who doesn’t work, but makes his living sucking the lifeblood from good people like it was a fine Chardonnay.

I divided the bag into equal parts, but Jerry complained he wasn’t getting his share. Even though they were mine, Jerry still tried to fuck me.

“You’ll get your half.”

Jerry rubbed his hands together like a child. He licked his lips and said, “Hurry up.”

That’s the kind of guy Jerry is. Thinks everybody owes him something.

I pressed a couple of stems and two full caps into his hand.

“Have a nice trip, Jerry.”

An hour passed and just about the time we thought we got burned Jerry started feeling something. A lone strand of drool traveled over his lip and hung for a full minute. I didn’t say anything, I just smiled. Then he smiled. We both began to laugh.

“What’s...this...thing...” Jerry asked me something, but what? He was pointing at the wall.

“Wanna go outside?” I asked. Didn’t want Jerry to ralph in my kitchen.

“What’s that?” He was fascinated by something. His cheeks seemed rounder than they should have been and his face was as red as a summer tomato.

“Who’s that?” he asked wildly. I didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about.

Jerry was laughing uncontrollably now. He pointed to the roof.

“You think you can fly?” I asked.

Jerry said yes.

We climbed through the upstairs window onto the addition, then climbed up to the highest part.

It was a beautiful spring day, the birds were chirping. The tiger lillies in full bloom as we came to the edge of the roof. The house stood on a step hill. We were a good sixty feet up and nothing below us, but air and concrete.

My palms began to sweat.

“Don’t look down,” I said. Jerry’s beard was full of spit.

“I know!” He screamed. His hair was a mess. His eyes were like deep pools of water. He was on another level.

I warned him one more time. Be careful.

“I know,” he screamed again. I watched his body sway as he caught his balance.

Jerry was a man who thought he knew everything. But here’s what Jerry didn’t know. I was fucking his wife. Once or twice a week for the last three months. I was deeper inside her than he’d ever been. Licking her. Eating her. Doing things to her that Jerry hadn’t done in years. Doing them better than he ever had.

I loved her, she loved me, and we both hated Jerry Springfield.

“Wish he was dead,” she whispered.

She was thinking out loud, but she said it like she meant it.

We had passionate sex in the morning and her lips tasted like flowers smelled. I could feel with my heart what she could only say with a kiss.

I bought a bag of mushrooms.

The sky was an ocean of soft blue and it was melting in our face. I asked Jerry Springfield if he could fly. Then I pushed him off the roof before he could answer. The only sound I heard was when his head broke open on the concrete. Sixty feet below.

I pulled the bag of shrooms from my pocket. My half was untouched. Now we could be together. I thought about Mrs. Springfield.

BIO: Matthew McBride lives on a farm along the river and one day he will own his own machine gun. He’s been published at A Twist Of Noir, Powder Burn FlashThe Flash Fiction Offensive and the most recent issue of Plots With Guns. He is currently reworking a novel that this editor has seen and thinks is pretty genius. His blog is Got Pulp?

A Twist Of Noir 602 - Keith Rawson


Kara’s phone roused her from her sweaty dreams. Her eyes cracked open, head pounding. Why’d she have to go out with Paulina and the girls from work last night? Who the fuck schedules a happy hour on a Wednesday? It was Paulina’s birthday and all, but why not wait until Friday? She knuckled sleep from her eyes, waiting for the sun to turn her head even further inside out.

That was funny, no sun?

Her bedroom curtains were sackcloth thick, but there was always a little light.

It was pitch black, dead of night and the ring on her phone, that wasn’t her alarm.

Her alarm was a calm, righteous chorus of church bells which slowly stirred her awake. What she was hearing now was the ring an old school rotary phone made. She chose the ring because she could hear it just about anywhere she left it in her apartment or at the office. She misplaced her phone three or five times a day...she hated her phone. Kara sat up, her head spinning, stomach going liquid, churning washing machine style. She stared at the phone, its digital display lying face down. She supposed she could just mute the little bitch and curl into a fetal ball and catch four or twelve more hours of sleep...but it might be her brother calling about their mother back in California, or maybe one of her friends calling and telling her the reason why it was pitch black in the seven in the morning was because the Chinese or some crazy Muslim extremist group decided to push the button and that the office would be closed today because of nuclear apocalypse.

She picked up the phone.

Shit...602...fucking 602.

She glimpsed the time below the number 2:13 am, she’d only been asleep two hours.

The phone stopped ringing, but she knew the deal, he’d keep at it until she finally picked up...crazy little bastard.

The phone vibrated in her hand and she hit answer before it could ring again.


“Kara...Hey, I didn’t wake you up, did I?” Nick. Nick fucking Boyle.

Nick worked for one of those online colleges. Not one of the big ones, some little christian university that was starting to dip their toes into the online market, but they were...aggressive in their recruiting tactics.

Nick was one of their recruiters, one of their best if you listened to the line of shit that spewed out of his mouth. She’d been dumb enough to request info from the small school, even dumber when she started flirting with Nick. Six months later, she was still kicking herself stupid over ever making the call.

“It’s 2 in the morning, Nick, what the fuck do you think?”

“Is it that late?”

“Are you at the office?”

“Oh yeah, money never sleeps, ya know. So, have you put anymore thought in getting back into school?”

“No, Nick, you know you’re not allowed to call me anymore.”

“Look you, little cunt. This is my job we’re talking about! If I don’t get you back into school, they’re gonna fire me!”

“Sorry, Nick!”

“You bitch! I’m gonna find you, I’m gonna come gut you like a fish and play with your fucking BLOOD! I’m gonna pluck out yer eyes and fuck your skull!”

“Good night, Nick.”

Kara clicked off.

When the calls first started, they scared her, now they were just an annoyance.

Fuck her skull? Where did he come up with this shit?

Kara turned off her phone, rolled into a ball and decided to call in sick the next morning.

BIO: Keith Rawson is a little known pulp writer who lives in the alkaline desert wastelands of southern Arizona with his wife and very energetic three-year-old daughter. His stories have appeared in such publications as Plots with Guns, Pulp Pusher,, Bad Things, Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Needle Magazine and many others. Keith is a frequent contributor to BSCreview, a staff writer with Spinetingler Magazine and, along with Cameron Ashley and Liam Jose, he edits and publishes Crimefactory Magazine. You can also find him stroking his overinflated ego at his blog, Bloody Knuckles, Callused Fingertips.

A Twist Of Noir 601 - Richard Godwin


They called him Leprous Sam. He stank of the abattoir, but boy could he dance. No medallions and he blew them away every Saturday. John Travolta never looked so good.

Sam would wheel across the dance floor as his image caught the mirror balls that hovered in the air at Fat Harry’s disco.

Harry had been coining it in for years and no one knew how.

His crumbling club stood at the end of nowhere with overflowing toilets. Women frequently found their stilettos caked in shit.

The place stank like a fetid whorehouse.

And Sam danced on in shoes stained with excrement.

Now this is what happened.

One Saturday night, when the moon fell from the sky and pierced itself on the high rise rooftops, Sam strutted in with his shirt undone and started his routine.

Harry sat at the bar with a Pina Colada and eyed a lady in a designer outfit and said, ‘That shit makes me want to puke.’

She turned to him with slow derision.

‘Who the fuck asked you, fatso?’

And he curled his magic finger and played her the wink.

Now if you’d never seen Harry wink, it was a marvel to behold.

He looked like a rabid dog that’s chewed up a Chihuahua. But when he winked, his eyes sparkled with some sinister magic and he looked strangely alluring. Beneath a certain light.

‘You beckoning me?’ she said.

‘That’s what the finger says, although it has other uses.’

‘And what might they be?’

‘You want a drink, on the house? I’ll show you the twist.’


And he led her into the private bar, locking the door.

She stood in a room lined with red leather.

‘What’s your poison?’ Harry said.


As she sat on the sofa, his eyes dropped to the break in her skirt.

‘You looking at something?’ she said.

‘Only looking at what I’m offered.’

‘And what might that be?’

‘Whatcha got?’

‘How thick is your wallet, fat boy?’

He waved a hand in ostentation, like some congenitally insane Roman Emperor.

‘How d’you think I got this bar?’

Just then, the music went up so many decibels, she tried shouting something at him. Harry shrugged and went through to the back room to fetch it through.

It was always the same.

No one ever heard the screams.

Toast was how Harry built his disco up.

Sam knew the routine.

Saturday Night Fever, they called it.

They’d let the dance floor get as hot as a burning snatch, while Harry got out his chopper.

Sam entertained, Harry eviscerated.

They’d been doing it for years.

When she saw the steel, she ran to the door and pulled hard on it. Harry calmly carved her back open and shoved a hand into her ribcage, rolling it round in there before he removed her heart.

And while Chubby Checker intoned the bright melody of his song down below and Sam cavorted, Harry said: ‘Let’s do the twist, designer bitch.’

He rotated her dripping aorta and waved her beating heart around.

Then he laid out plastic sheets with the carefree abandon of a picnicker and carved her into fine pieces.

These were sent downstairs to the restaurant, which served surprisingly good food. With toast. His speciality. A little pink. Fried. In blood.

As he said to Sam that night after everyone had left: ‘Designer trash been coming here for years and I been choppin ’em up an catering to everyone’s tastes, good business brain, see?’

Sam nodded and stretched out his legs on the sofa.

‘An you never put too much blood on the bread.’

BIO: Richard Godwin lives and writes in London, where his dark satire ‘The Cure-All’, about a group of confidence tricksters, has been produced on the stage. He has just finished writing a crime novel. His writing appears regularly at Disenthralled; Gloom Cupboard; Thrillers, Killers ’N Chillers; The New Flesh, Media Virus Magazine and Pulp Metal Magazine, among many other magazines. He has a Twitter account and can be found there under the User Name Stanzazone. You can check out his portfolio here. His first crime novel will be published later this year.

His website is now all-new, complete with information on his upcoming novel APOSTLE RISING and a special page devoted to the critically-acclaimed CHIN WAG AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE interviews.

A Twist Of Noir 600 - Jimmy Callaway


“So wha’d he say?” Two huge goldfish swam in the tank behind Murray’s desk.

Ramirez said, “He said a good credit score is six hundred or above. Lower than that...” Ramirez shrugged.

“And what’s your score?”

Ramirez held up three fingers.

“Three hundred?”

“Three,” Ramirez said. “My credit score is three.”

Murray let out a breath. “Look, it was up to me, you could have your choice, any apartment in the complex. Not just a studio, neither. One bedroom, two bedroom, whatever you want.”

“But it’s not up to you.”

Murray took his glasses off. “Look, kid, you always did right by me inside. I’m not gonna forget that.” He replaced his glasses. “But I got to run your credit check through an outside firm, and they don’t give a fuck who you are. Christ coming down off’a the cross ain’t gonna get a place here if his credit ain’t in line.”

“So that’s it, then?”

“Whadda you, kiddin’? We got a couch that folds out, you stay as long as you want.”

“C’mon, man. You got a wife and three kids in a two-bedroom. You don’t need me underfoot.” Ramirez stood up.

“Where you goin’?”

“Gonna stick up the Taco Bell across the street. Can you call the cops and have ’em meet me there?”

“Hey, c’mon, whaddaya—”

“Look, I need a place to stay. The food might suck at Donovan, but it beats starving to death on the street.”

“C’mon, siddown there. C’mon, sit down.” Murray swiveled his chair around and watched his fish. He sighed. “I was hoping there’d be another way.”

“Whaddaya mean?”

Murray swiveled back around. “Let’s take a ride.”


Murray rang the bell of the big white house on the hill, overlooking Mission Valley, the football stadium. A nice breeze floated through the neighborhood.

“Jesus,” Ramirez said. “Come a long way, ain’t he?”

“Like I told ya,” Murray said, “it’s all his wife’s. Scumbag hit the lottery.”

The tall man opened the door, and his face immediately regretted it.

“And speak of the devil!” Murray said. “Paz! ’Member me?”

“Whaddaya want, Murray?” Paszkiewicz said.

“Well, our buddy Ramirez here—you remember Ramirez, right?”

“’Sup, Paz?”

“He just got outta stir, see, and well, we were hoping you could do us a favor?”

Paszkiewicz looked down at them. “Fuck you,” he said, closing the door.

“I understand, that’s how you feel,” Murray said. “Maybe your wife will feel different. We’ll just wait here, she gets home, maybe we’ll see—”

Paszkiewicz opened the door again. “You stay away—”

“Maybe she’d like to know about the little piece of chicken you’ve got out in El Cajon, Paz.”

Paszkiewicz blanched. “What—How—”

“I’m her landlord, you scumbag.”

“Just—just tell me what you want.”

“Well, see, Ramirez here is having some credit trouble, y’know, getting a place to stay. So I’m thinking, Paz’s credit’s gotta be pretty good, maybe he’d wanna help ol’ Ramirez out.” Murray whipped out the application and a pen. “Just sign on the dotted line there, Paz, and we’ll be outta your hair. Your hair looks good, by the way.”

“Are you out of your minds? I’m not signing a fucking thing!”

“Aw, jeez,” Murray said. “I was hoping there’d be another way.”

“Another way what?” Paszkiewicz said.

Ramirez cocked the pistol, pointed it at Paszkiewicz’s head.

“Y’know what?” Murray said. “Better fill out the whole thing, social security number and all that. That stuff’s hard to fake.”

A wet patch spread across the front of Paszkiewicz’s chinos.

“Go ahead,” Murray said, “we’ll wait.”


The next week, Ramirez moved into Paszkiewicz’s new studio apartment.

BIO: Jimmy Callaway lives and works in San Diego, CA. For more, please visit