“Unmasked”: An appropriate short fiction collection for a pandemic era.

Unmasked: Stories of Risk and Revelation

This pandemic has changed a lot of things for everyone, including what we wear and how we interact with others. Who hasn’t walked away from an encounter with someone, who we know, but didn’t recognize under their mask? Who hasn’t struggled to understand a situation properly due to the fact that we are unable to read someone’s facial expressions beneath their mask? (I have often wondered over the past year how the deaf have adapted since they cannot see any lips to read.) The necessity of wearing masks has made simple social interactions more difficult in many ways, and added an element of mystery to everyday interactions, when we are fortunate enough to be able to interact under government restrictions.

Masks may hide a lot of things, but they can also be revealing in some ways, as you’ll see if you read the new WordFire Press short fiction anthology, appropriately titled Unmasked: Stories of Risk and Revelation. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson, this collection of short stories offers many different ways to look at masks and some surprising revelations about what may be hidden beneath the mask. There are many reasons to wear masks. Sometimes they are the key to awakening super powers that we never knew we had, as in the first story by Seanan Maguire, “Pygmalion”, or perhaps the mask grants the ability to hide in plain sight, as is the case in “I Have No Name”, by Andi Christopher, or perhaps a mask holds a savior in disguise, as in “The Green Gas”, by Liam Hogan or “The Fog of War”, by Edward J. Knight. In “The Faces of Death”, by Ed Burkley, masks hold the past, or perhaps predict the future.

Masks are a form of disguise, camoflauge for what truly lies beneath, an illusion which covers what is real, as in “Framing Marta”, James Romag or “Death by Misadventure” by John M. Olsen. A mask may take the form of the shadow of a soul searcher, as in “The Quota”, by Tom Howard, or that of a self-aware sex-bot, as in “Qualia”, by Russell Davis, or a shadow creature, as in “Shot in the Dark”, Brennen Hankins. Masks can hide the true identity, as in “Pagliacci’s Joke”, by Travis Heerman, or perhaps enhance the strengths of the persona underneath, as in “La Marionnette, by Alicia Cay or “A New Purpose”, by Rebecca M. Senese. The parallel post-pandemic world of “Speakeasy”, by Keltie Zubko, hits close to home and removing the mask may not be worth the risk after all.

My favorite story from this collection has to be “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”, by Eugie Foster. A tale which takes place in a world where masks are the norm, with individual personas that are imprinted on the wearer so that they may live a different life each day.

In Unmasked: Tales of Risk and Revelation, each story stays true to theme and they are filled with surprises. I found this anthology quite entertaining and enjoyable. I give it five quills.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Don’t miss your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and have your story included in the next WordCrafter paranormal anthology!

Don’t miss the fast approaching submission deadline for the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest.

April 30th is right around the corner. We want your stories about ghosts, spirits, and things that go bump in the night.

Winner receives a $25 Amazon gift card and inclusion in the Where Spirits Linger anthology.

See full submission guidelines.


#Bookreview – Last Call and Other Short Fiction by Kaye Lynne Booth

Roberta Eaton Cheadle features a review of my short story collection, “Last Call and Other Short Fiction” on her “Roberta Writes” blog site today. Drop by and see what she has to say about the short fiction of Kaye Lynne Booth

What Amazon says

Six premium short storiesby author Kaye Lynne Booth. Stories in this collection has something for everyone witha mixture of time travel, suspense, humor, origins and speculative fiction.

Last Call- (Time travel science fiction) -Things aren’t going too good for Derek and he thinks his life is over, until he stops in for a Last Call. Will a bar in the middle of nowhere turn out to be his curse or his salvation?

Terror on the Mountain Trail- (Suspense) – It’s a perfect spring day until Kellie and Randy are attacked by a crazed man in the wilderness.

Earth Mother– (Origin Story)

A Turn of the Tables– (Speculative fiction) – Are vampires really invincible? One vampire is about to find out.

A True Hero- (Humor) – Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This one is heroic indeed.

Man of Her Dreams-…

View original post 469 more words


Dark Origins – Hansel and Gretel

Most people are familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel, a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in their Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1812.

In summary, the story goes as follows:

Hansel and Gretel are a brother and sister whose starving parents decide to abandon them in the forest. Hansel overhears his parents plotting and drops pebbles on the path so that he and Gretel can find their way home later. The family’s plight does not improve and a short while later the mother [or stepmother depending on the version] persuades the father to take the children into the forest again and leave them there. This time, Hansel drops a trail of breadcrumbs but the birds eat them and the two children become lost in the forest.

The starving children come across a gingerbread house and they begin to break off bits and eat it. The house, however, is a trap set by a wicked witch who captures the children, enslaves Gretel and locks Hansel in a cage. She sets about fattening Hansel up so that she can eat him.

Gretel saves Hansel by shoving the witch into the oven which she has heated up in order to cook Hansel. The pair escape and manage to find their way home with the witch’s treasure. In the meantime, their mother [or stepmother] has died and their father is a broken man having abandoned his beloved children. The family live happily ever after.

Hansel and Gretel - Wikipedia
Picture from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansel_and_Gretel

The real history behind this already rather grim story, is even more grim.

The true story of Hansel and Gretel may have its roots in the great flood and great famine of 1314. 1314 was a year of continuous rain and this continued throughout 1315 and 1316. The wet conditions resulted in crops rotting in the ground, harvests failing and livestock drowning or starving. Food prices increased dramatically as a result of severe food shortages.

The great famine is estimated to have effected 400,000 square miles of Europe, 30 million people and to have resulted in the deaths of up to 25 percent of the population in certain areas.

The famine was so bad that during the winter of 1315/1316, the peasants resorted to eating the seed grain they had stored for planting in the spring. People resorted to begging, stealing and even murder in their quest for food. Parents abandoned their children to fend for themselves and their were rumours of cannibalism. An Irish chronicler wrote that people “were so destroyed by hunger that they extracted bodies of the dead from cemeteries and dug out the flesh from the skulls and ate it, and women ate their children out of hunger.”

In the story of Hansel and Gretel, the pair are taken into the forest by their father and abandoned. They are taken in by an old woman living in a cottage. When the old woman starts to heat the oven, the children realise she is planning to roast and eat them. Gretel tricks the woman into opening the oven and pushes her inside.

It is interesting to note that this time of famine coincided with the end of the medieval warm weather period and the beginning of the little ice age. The changing climate with its cooler and wetter summers and earlier autumn storms damaged the harvests. Given the strange wet and cool summer South African is experiencing, coupled with severe cold in the northern hemisphere, this really is food for thought.

Another grim early tale along the lines of Hansel and Gretel is a Romanian story called The Little Boy and the Wicked Stepmother. You can read this story here: http://www.planetofbirds.com/the-story-of-the-little-boy-and-the-wicked-step-mother

The story of Hansel and Gretel was the inspiration for my recent twisted fairy tale Covid-19 cake which featured a gingerbread house and a witch who is trying to keep children out after they are declared to be vectors for the virus.

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle has published nine children’s books under the name of Robbie Cheadle. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

Her supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.

Supernatural fantasy YA novel:
Through the Nethergate

Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre):
Spellbound
Nightmareland
Dark Visions

Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth):
Spirits of the West
Whispers of the Past

Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley)
Death Among Us

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Spirits of the West Book Blog Tour

Spirits of the West Book Blog Tour

Welcome to the first official WordCrafter Book Blog Tour featuring the WordCrafter western paranormal anthology, Spirits of the West. We’ve got a great tour lined up, so let me tell you a little about this unique anthology and the stories featured within. I hope you’ll all follow along with the tour as the week progresses, to learn more about this colorful story collection.

It’s no secret that I love ghost stories, which is why the theme each year for the WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest always seems to lean toward the paranormal genre, although other genres may be involved. It’s also no secret that my first novel was a western and I enjoy writing and reading this genre, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the 2020 theme was western paranormal. I didn’t get a lot of submissions, but the ones I did get were top notch stories, and the resulting anthology, Spirits of the West, contains eight stories with western and paranormal elements, from six very different author’s worlds. The theme for the contest was not a traditional genre mixture, and there’s not much that’s traditional about the anthology.

My story, “Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”, is a western paranormal mystery, to confuse the genres even more. It’s a colorful story, about the disappearance of a saloon owner, a ghostly nighttime visit to leave a warning, and a young boy named Stinkweed, who holds the key to the mystery. You’ll be able to learn more about the inspiration behind this tale on Jessica Bakkers.

Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributed two South African western paranormal tales, which help to make this anthology very unique. “The Thirstyland Journey” and “The Ghost in the Mound” tell stories of pioneers, traveling across the South African wilderness – a different type of western, but with just as many ghosts. Both are powerful stories of survival, courage and determination and are welcomed additions to Spirits of the West. Robbie will be telling us more about both of these stories on Roberta Writes and Robbie’s Inspiration.

Jeff Bowles, the author of the winning story in 2019, contributed “Wenekia”, an excellent story of Native American folklore and traditions. When two young boys sneak out to eavesdrop on the tribal council gathering, they learn more than they bargained for when they witness the reality of legend. Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo will have a post for us about Jeff’s story on Saturday.

“The Clouds in the West”

Arthur Rosch contributed a science fiction western paranormal story, “The Clouds in the West”, which takes the cowboy to another world, where the rider may not always control of his mount, and leaves the ending open to reader interpretation.

The winning story in Spirits of the West was submitted by Enid Holden. “High Desert Rose” is a more traditional western tale of revenge, but Holden does it with a heroin, rather than a hero, and the spirits are watching. Patty’s world will feature an interview with Enid on Wednesday and wrap up the tour on Sunday for us.

“Gunsmoke”

Also included in the anthology are two stories that were not contest submissions. Tom Johnson’s story, “Gunsmoke” really doesn’t have a paranormal element, and is included as a tribute to Tom as his only western story in a lifetime of science fiction and pulp titles, as the author is no longer with us. And Enid Holden contributed a second story, “Queen of Spades”, which didn’t make the submission deadline, but is every bit as good as her winning story.

“Queen of Spades”

Time constraints did not allow for posts on some stories, but I hope you’ll join us on the tour this week to learn more about this very special collection of stories and their authors.


 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Exciting Happenings for Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

2021 is off to a great start and today, I wanted to take a minute to update you on the really cool stuff scheduled on Writing to be Read in the coming months. I’ve talked about some of these new additions previously, but one or two have only come together recently and I can’t wait to share them.

Dark Origins

You’ll find Robbie Cheadle’s new series, “Dark Origins”, posted on the fourth Wednesday of each month, and the first post will be this coming Wednesday, January 27th. Robbie will be delving into the origins of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, which can be very dark indeed, so be sure and watch for it.

Jeff’s Game Reviews

Jeff Bowles already shared the first post in his new video game review series, “Jeff’s Game Reviews”, where shared his thoughts on Hitman 3. This series will post the fourth Friday of each month, and each post includes a link to the video version of the review.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Last but not least, February will see the launch of WordCrafter Book Blog Tours. The first tour will be for the Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology. Later in the month, tours are scheduled for Arthur Rosch’s poetry and photography collection, Feral Tenderness, and Barbara Spencer’s first book in the Children of Zues trilogy, A Click of a Pebble. I do hope you’ll all join us in learning about these wonderful books and their authors. Tours include interviews, book reviews and informative posts by the authors. You’ll find the complete tour schedule, as well as instructions for scheduling your own book blog tour on the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours page.

Where Spirits Linger

I’d also like to remind everyone that there is still time to submit your story in the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest, and to have it included in the resulting anthology, Where Spirits Linger. See the full submission guidelines for details. There is a $5 entry fee, which you can pay with a button right on the contest post, and the winner receives a $25 Amazon Gift Card and guarenteed inclusion in the anthology. But don’t wait too long. The deadline is April 30th.

2020 was a pretty good year for Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, in spite of the unusual circumstances of the pandemic and the “new normal”, which isn’t normal at all. After all the lock downs and mask mandates and social distancing, I think everyone needs a little makeover, and this blog is no exception. Writing to be Read may be getting a facelift with new types of content which will change it’s appearance a little, but the end result is that the blog will be so much better for them. Jeff’s and Robbie’s new series, the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, and this year’s contest and anthology, are all welcome improvements, and I for one, can’t wait.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Looking Back on 2020 and Forward to 2021

2020 has been an difficult year for all of us as Covid 19 turned lives upside-down. Here at Writing to be Read and WordCrafter, we saw some great accomplishments, in spite of the fact that my genre theme schedule fell apart half-way through the year on the blog and content was a little more sporadic. I had to figure out how to adjust to my own “new normal”, which life changes brought my way, but they also led me to remember who I am. Now, I’ve analyzed and regrouped, and I’m ready to head into the new year with new ideas and projects.

WordCrafter’s 2020 Virtual Writing Conference

One of the biggest things for WordCrafter was the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference back in April. We ended up with twenty-two distinguished authors, offering live stream and video lectures, and interactive workshops and discussion panels, with free content for the Facebook event and a Zoom platform for the interactive stuff. We had a good turn-out with only a few glitches, and we’re preparing to do it again in 2021.

WordCrafter Press releases in 2020:

Ask the Authors

In April, the Ask the Authors writing anthology was released after two years of compilation. This book is an ultimate writer’s reference with tips and advice from twenty-two authors, and it started right here, from a 2018 blog series of the same name. In November, the print edition of this book, (and all WordCrafter Press books), became available, as well.

Spirits of the West

The Spirits of the West western paranormal anthology resulted from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, and was released in October. The winning story, “High Desert Rose”, was written by Enid Holden and is included in the anthology. The theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest was announced and WordCrafter Press is now taking submissions to be considered for next year’s anthology, Where Spirits Linger.

Hidden Secrets and Last Call

Two of my own books were also released. Last Call and Other Short Fiction is a collection of my short stories, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, is now available in print on Amazon, but the digital edition can be purchased through other retailers. In the coming year, I will have a story in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, and I’m working on a new book, The Outlaw and the Rockstar which I hope will be ready to release before the end of 2021.

Raise the Tide

WordCrafter Press‘ first stand alone author’s book was released in December, Raise the Tide, a devotional book by James Richards. We also look forward in anticipation to adding the January release of a massive poetry collection by Arthur Rosch, Feral Tenderness, to this list.

Feral Tenderness

Writing to be Read 2020:

We had some great guests on Writing to be Read. On “Chatting with the Pros”, my author guests featured Diana Raab, Amy Cecil, Cherokee Parks, L. Deni Colter, and Kevin J. Anderson. I’m hoping to transform this blog series into a podcast, which can be accessed through the blog, in the coming year, and I hope you all will join me there. Other authors interviewed in 2020 included Mark & Kym Todd, Jade C. Jamison, and Alan Dean Foster. The most viewed interview was with erotic romance author Nicky F. Grant. Interviews fell by the wayside along with the genre themes, but I’m planning to bring back author interviews for 2021, and I’m working on a new blog segment, “The Authors’ Covid Coffee Clache”, which will address issues of the pandemic specific to authors.

Treasuring Poetry

Robbie Cheadle’s poet guests included Sally Cronin, Colleen Chesebro, Victoria Zigler, Sue Vincent, Annette Rochelle Aben, Christy Birmingham, Kevin Morris, Frank Prem, D. Avery, Geoff Le Pard, and Balroop Singh. Of course, each segment on “Treasuring Poetry” are filled with poetry examples and includes a review of the poet’s latest poetry collection.

Growing Bookworms

Robbie Cheadle’s “Growing Bookworms” has great ideas for promoting literacy in children. Topics discussed “Making Learning the Alphabet Fun“, “Reading and Mathematics“, obtaining a balance of parental approval, “Sir Chocolate and the Valentine Toffee Cupid“, the benefits of singing and rhyming verse for children, “Teaching Children to Read“, “Introducing Non-Fiction to Children“, “The Future of Education“, “The Great Roald Dahl“, “Chapter Books vs. Short Stories for Children“, “The Joy of Nursery Rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat“, and “Incorporating Reading into Christmas Activities“. The post with the most views this year was a “Growing Bookworms” post from 2019, “Developing Imagination and Creativity Through Reading“, and in fact, it is also the post with the most all time views.

Words to Live By

On “Words to Live By”, Jeff Bowles offers up his thoughts on writing and life, and writing life. In 2020, he reflected on “The Creator in the Creative“, “The Kid in the Machine”, “Sex, Love, Warfare and Death“, “Fear, Creativity, and that Pesky Pandemic“, “Love in the Time of Covid“, “Be Here Now (Sanity for the Modern Writer), and”Creative Legacy“. The most viewed “Words to Live By” post was “The Big Chill“.

Mind Fields

With Art Rosch’s “Mind Fields”, you never know what the topic will be, but in 2020, they included “T.V. Addicts Annonymous“, “Nightmare with Tracphone“, “The Power of Villians in Story Telling“, “The Big Grief or Computer Wipe-Out“, “The Air in the Sky“, “Obsession: Craving Flashlights“, “Curvature: An Essay on Discernment“. The most view “Mind Fields” post was “Am I Real“.

Super Heroes and Supervillains

In May, Jeff Bowles took over the spotlight as he took over the Super Heroes and Super Villians theme, with a look at “The History and Evolution of Comic Books“, “The Rise of the Comic Book Film“, “DC Comics Gets Animated“, “D.C. Comics vs. Marvel – Rivalry and Inspiration“, and a celebratory posts for comic books and super heroes, “Look Up in the Sky!

Craft and Practice

Also in May, Jeff introduced a new blog series “Craft and Practice”, filled with great writing advice, which covered topics such as “The Revision Process“, “To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish“, “Writing for Catharthis“, “Story Synthesis: The Ultimate Tool in the Tool Kit“, “To Comma or Not to Comma“, “The Odds and Ends of Worldbuilding“, and “What’s the use of Trunk Novels“. The most viewed “Craft and Practice” post was “Should You Write Every Day?“.

Jeff’s Movie Reviews

Jeff’s Movie Reviews” covered The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey“, Hamilton on Disney+, Bill and Ted Face the Music, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Queen’s Gambit, and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The most viewed movie review post was for 1917.

Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews

“Art’s Visual Media Reviews” covered Homeland, Better Call Saul, 13 Reasons Why, Just Mercy, 13 Reasons Why (the later seasons), a critique of Marvel movies, and The Secret: Dare to Dream, but the most viewed review was a life review in “My Life with Jazz“. Unfortunately, “Arthur’s Visual Media Reviews” will not be appearing in 2021, but Art’s “Mind Fields” will be appearing twice a month.

My book reviews included Missing: Murder Suspected: True Crime Stories Brought to Life, by Austin Stone On Being a Dictator, by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker; Saint, by Amy Cecil; Heat: Book 1, by Jade C. Jamison; Old One Eyed Pete, by Loretta Miles Toleffson; Death Wind, by Travis Heermann and Jim Pinto; Severed Wings, by Steven-Elliot Altman; X Marks the Spot, an anthology of pirate fantasy tales edited by Lisa Mangum; Indominable, by J.B. Garner; Echo One, by Mercedes Lacky, Denis K. Lee, Cody Martin, and Veronica Giguere; the audio edition of Shadow Blade, by Chris Barili; Love/Madness/Demon, by Jeff Bowles; In the Shadow of the Clouds, by Jordan Elizabeth; Keeper of the Winds, by Jenna Solitaire with Russle Davis; Inspirational Visions oracle cards, by Judy Mastrangelo; The Freedom Conspiracy by Nathan B. Dodge; Disappeared, by Lucienne Diver; Fool’s Gold Rush, by Tim Baker; Terminal Sequence, by Dan Alatorre; Gunslinger, by Edward J. Knight; and Clay House, by Jordan Elizabeth. The top viewed review was Hold Your Fire, an anthology edited by Lisa Mangum.

Judging the Spurs

I was also honored to be a judge for the Writers of America’s Spur Awards and I reviewed my top six picks, and the winner of the western romance category, The Yeggman’s Apprentice, by C.K. Crigger. These were the best of the best, and I was honored to be given the opportunity to read and review them.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tours

Also, in 2021 Writing to be Read will be a host for the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours, so we’ll be keeping you up to date on several new releases as they come out. Robbie Cheadle will bring us a new blog series on nursery rhymes and fairytales, “Dark Origins”, and I plan to bring in a new series, “Writer at Work”, which will talk about different issues that writers face. Subscribe to this blog with one of the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to be sure not to miss this great new content or the tried and true content of continuing series on Writing to be Read in the coming year.

Dark Origins

Happy New Year and Happy Writing!

From Writing to be Read and WordCrafter

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


Fish Store

Mind Fields

Trevor Joyce made sure that the two hundred foot extension cord was securely fastened too the outlet in his garage. Carefully he measured out the length to the swimming pool. He walked with the plastic reel, paying out the line, around his Ferrari, past his Bentley, and when he came to the last of his car collection, the Silver Ghost Rolls Royce, he kicked the cord firmly under its rear tire so that it wedged there. Backing up the driveway, he tugged at the line, ensuring that it was firmly seated under the tire and would not come loose. 

The driveway angled steeply upward under a line of cypress trees. From the top, Trevor could see the ocean and a big chunk of Malibu Canyon with its winding roads and private gated houses. He stopped and scratched at one of the tattoos on his right arm: it was the band tattoo, the famous one-eyed cat that rock fans instantly associate with the heavy metal group, Fish Store.

For eighteen years, Trevor had been the lead guitarist with Fish Store. As of last week, some snaggly little kid named Keewee Bonior was the lead guitarist with Fish Store. One by one, the old members were being squeezed out. Trevor had seen it coming; first it was the keyboard player, Pierce Holling. Okay, Pierce had lost  three fingers in a car crash. But that was just a bullshit pretext for booting him out of the band. Pierce didn’t need ten fingers to play rock and roll. It was really the paunch and the wrinkles, that’s what  it was all about.  He just wasn’t fucking cute anymore.

The extension cord reached all the way to the hedge at the far end of the pool. Plenty of length for Trevor’s purposes. He wound it in long loops between his thumb and his elbow and returned to the garage, laying the cord carefully on the trunk of the Rolls Royce. 

He went upstairs and got his favorite guitar and his little amplifier, the Boogie, the one he used for rehearsals, “the little screamer”, as he called it. The guitar was the pearl-inlaid Flying Vee, once owned by the late guitar legend Claxton Wanko. It had played many immortal rock hits in Claxton’s band. It had played “Eat My Heart Out”,  “Work Me To The Bone”, it had played “Tough Love Tonight” and “Willng Pussy”.  Trevor had bought it at auction for six thousand dollars in nineteen eighty five. 

He gave it a little wipe with a polishing chamois, flipped it around on its strap button, inspected it from the top tuning peg to the green serial number etched into its bifurcated body. He hefted the guitar in one hand, the amp in the other, and returned to the garage. Trevor placed the guitar and amp carefully on the work bench that ran the length of the left hand side of the cavernous chamber. He returned to the interior of the house, walked up the soft purple carpet, past the billiard room and the theatre room to the master bedroom.

He went into Lynda’s bathroom; Lynda had been gone for weeks. She wasn’t coming back. There was nothing to indicate her eight years of residence in the house, but a hairbrush with a few wisps of blonde hair, a chunk of glycerine soap and a bottle of Jack Daniels, half empty. Trevor took a swig from the bottle, wiped his lips, then looked at his reflection in the mirror.

“The fuck,”  he said, mumbling to himself. He splayed his fingers and ran them through his long, lanky, thinning black hair. “Kick me out of my own band ‘cause I’m going bald. I’m not going bald.” He could not, of course, see the round circle of flesh at the very top of his head, like a monk’s tonsure, from which his flowing locks seemed to emerge as if they were rivers running off some invisible glacial lake. 

He took another swig from the bottle of whiskey and went across the bedroom to his own bathroom on the other side. He opened the medicine cabinet and took out a little sealed glass bottle shaped like a bell.  Morphine Sulfate, Two Hundred Milligrams.

“That should do it,” he said, tapping the bottle with his fingernail. From one of the drawers he withdrew a rubber tourniquet and a twenty two gauge insulin syringe. He took these items back into the garage, and set them carefully next to his guitar and amp.  He then got the end of the extension cord from atop the trunk  of the Rolls and unwound enough of it to reach the work bench.

From the far corner of the double-doored garage, he pulled a blue plastic tarpaulin off his gleaming Harley Custom. The motorcycle stood there like a science fiction insect about to ingest some screaming prey. Its headlight was like the eye of a cyclops. Purple swirling paint swept in flames down to the One Eyed Cat logo painted on each side of the silver gas tank. 

Trevor pushed it off its stand and wheeled it around his cars to the tool bench. There, he put it back on its stand and straddled its bulk. He reached for a roll of duct tape and pried a few inches from the fat cylinder and hung  the sticky part from the bar of the motorcycle. Then he placed the amplifier in his lap, settling it as comfortably as possible, dividing its weight between the bike’s saddle and  his thighs. Methodically, he began taping the amplifier to his chest. Holding it with his left arm, he wound the tape around the amp, then switched off to his right hand and continued winding around  his back, over and over again, until he had the electronic device reasonably secured to his torso. 

He picked up the guitar and used a patch cord to connect it to the amp. Cumbersome, he decided, but certainly do-able. He put on his shades. He tied a bandana around his head. He was already dressed in leather pants and a sleeveless leather vest that showed all his obscene tattoos.

He plugged the amp’s power cord into the long extension cord. He turned on the amp. The light glowed green.  Clumsily, he strummed a C Chord. Thwong! It echoed hugely in the garage.

“Yeahhh,” Trevor drawled. “Ready ready ready.”

He kicked the motorcyle into life. Its engine roared and he throttled it so the noise of the bike and the noise of the amp blended into a single savagely gleeful thunder.

Then he took the vial of morphine and filled the syringe with its contents. He had forgotten to tie off with the rubber tourniquet, so he used the guitar’s patch cord to raise one of his few remaining useful veins. He had collapsed the big one inside his elbow and the big one that ran down the side of his arm, and most of the medium sized veins, lower down near his wrist. But there was still the inch-long minor vein about two inches down from his elbow;  he had been getting hits there for the last couple weeks, he knew he could hit it, even with all this stuff strapped around him. It took a few jabs, a few misses, but finally he found the blood and mainlined that huge hit of pharmaceutical dope right into his bloodstream. It took only a few seconds to feel its soft blanket spreading from his innards to the periphery of the nerve endings at his fingertips.

“This is it,” he thought. “The perfect rock and roll suicide!”

He gunned the motorcyle. He turned the amplifier all the way up and thwanged a huge chord. He was going to accelerate into the swimming pool, electrocute, overdose and drown himself all at the same time. Someone would find his corpse in the next couple weeks, sitting there at the bottom of the pool on his Harley, with his Claxton Wanko guitar strapped around his shoulder, his Boogie Amp short-circuited, his blood full of dope.

“Yeehaaaa!”  he yelled, strumming the guitar. He managed to roll the bike out of the garage, extension cord trailing behind him. He went to the very bottom of the sloped driveway, just inside the swinging metal gate, gunned the engine, twanged the guitar, turned the motorcyle around and roared up the drive towards the swimming pool. 

He strummed as he ascended. B flat Chord, A flat Chord, F Chord, the famous intro to Fish Store’s biggest hit, “Slam Me, Ma’am”. He fought to keep his balance. He got to ten miles an hour, fifteen, twenty. He got to the very top of the drive and the extension chord snagged on a bit of outthrust pavement and whipped loose.  The sound of the guitar suddenly died. The lip of the drive acted as a ramp and Trevor flew over the pool like a stunt rider, landed in the hedge, passed through it, tore through his downhill neighbor’s fence and wound up on Malibu Drive, stoned out of his mind, but not dead, carrying his guitar and his amplifier on his Custom Harley. 

“Aw fuck,” he said aloud, as he swerved across the dividing line on the serpentine road.

A Mountain Springs water truck honked at him and managed not to squash him.

Unable to control the motorcycle any longer, he gunned the throttle, closed his eyes and simply let fate carry him. He hit a curb, went over some rocks, crashed through rhododenron bushes, flew into the air and finally landed with a gigantic splash in someone else’s swimming pool. 

He was still alive. Hands came to the bottom of the pool, pulled at the amp, pulled at his armpits,  hauled him from the pool. A dozen teenagers avidly surrounded his stunned form.

“That was fuckin’ great, dude!” One of the youngsters said. “Awesome! Did my mom set this up? Fucking great…..hey. Aren’t you Trevor Joyce? Aren’t you, like, Fish Store, dude?”

The kid did a naïve imitation of Trevor’s duck-walking stage style, mocking the chords to “Slam Me, Ma’am”, playing air guitar with his tongue hanging out.

Trevor handed the Claxton guitar to one of his young admirers. He took the bandana from his head and wrung it out. 

 Not today, he thought. Not today. I’ve still got fans.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He harkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv

Arthur’s books include The Road Has Eyes, The Gods of the Gift, and Confessions of an Honest Man. His lifetime collection of poetry and photography, Feral Tenderness, is soon to be released by WordCrafter Press.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Art’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Announcing the 2021 WordCrafter Paranormal Short Fiction Contest

Where Spirits Linger

I’m a sucker for a good ghost story. I think most people are. That is why Where Spirits Linger will be the theme for the 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. WordCrafter Press is looking for quality paranormal stories in which setting plays a key role, for publication of its 2021 paranormal anthology. Haunted houses, hotels, cemeteries, and other places ‘where spirits linger’ are all fair game.

Guidelines

  • Submit a paranormal story in which the setting plays a key role. I want to read your ghost story!
  • Stories should be less than 10,000 words and have paranormal elements.
  • Flash fiction is accepted as long as it is a complete story, with beginning, middle and end.
  • Submit only works that are unpublished and for which you hold copyright.
  • Submit stories in a word doc, double spaced with legible 12 pt font, in standard manuscript format.
  • Submit stories to kayebooth@yahoo.com with Submission: [Your Title] in the subject line. Submit your $5 entry fee using the ‘Pay with PayPal’ button below.
  • Submission Deadline: April 30th, 2021
  • If you receive an invitation for the anthology, you will also be asked to submit a short author bio and photo.
  • No simultaneous submissions. You should receive a reply 30 – 45 days after submission deadline.
  • Multiple submissions are accepted with appropriate entry fee for each individual story.

All entries are eligible for publication in the Where Spirits Linger anthology, to be released in October 2021. The winning submission is guaranteed publication, and the author will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

Contest Submission Fee

All contest entries are eligible for publication in the 2021 WordCrafter paranormal anthology, “Where Spirits Linger”.

$5.00

Previous WordCrafter Anthologies

Now Available in Print

Whispers of the Past
Spirits of the West

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s great content by subscribe to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.


“Hold Your Fire”: An anthology of creative sparks

Hold Your Fire

As with other WordFire Press anthologies I’ve read which were edited by Lisa Mangum, Hold Your Fire is an exceptional collection of stories, written by an all star cast of authors, that kept this reader turning pages in anticipation from one story to the next. Each of these stories were so enjoyable that it is difficult to pick favorites to be included in this review. They are all unique and delightful sparks of the creative imagination.

Hold Your Fire includes unique, thought provoking stories which you will find nowhere else. “Splendid Mirage: The Seeker’s Tale”, by Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart tells a tale of a never ending quest and the one who carries it’s great burden. “The Fire Sermon”, by Mary Pletsch had me pondering the fine line between a blessing and a curse, when the characters that inhabit this story show their true inner sparks. In “The White Feather”, by Shannon Fox, it takes a touch from beyond the veil to pull Jae from her grief over the death of her friend and re-spark her creativity. Venture into the fairytale land of Kat Kellermeyer “The Last Waking Princess” or endulge in a tale of mentorship and friendship gone awry, with “Bow Drill”, by Jace Killan. Other contributing authors include: Brian Corley, Kristen Bickerstaff, C.J. Erick, Wayland Smith, Alicia Kay, October K. Santerelli, Tanya Hales, Raphyel M. Jordan, Mike Jack Stoumbos, Kitty Sarkozy, Melissa Koons, and M. Elizabeth Ticknor and Rebecca E. Treasure.

Hold Your Fire has stories in a wide variety of themes and genres, so your sure to find something that will spark your fancy. All are well crafted and quite entertaining. I give it five quills.

Five Quills

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.