The boat-tailed grackles have returned from wherever they go in winter. Unlike the grackles I’ve run into up north, these fellows have a sweet song. They do not annoy. When I lived in western Wisconsin, I often wanted to shoot at them to make them go away, they were so noisy, sitting in the trees, screaming their heads off. Well, I have no gun, and I wouldn’t have done it anyway, but still, the thought was there on many an occasion.
Carol pursed her lips and walked around me slowly, looking at every detail. That was her job, but it always made me uncomfortable.
“The shoes are right. Ugly, but right. The pants… a little tight in the ass.” She patted one butt cheek. “No worries.” She smiled evilly. “You won’t be there long enough for anyone to notice.” She pawed my hair. “It should be shorter, and where’s the hat? The well-dressed man always wore a Fedora.”
“Forgot it in my apartment. Sorry.”
“That won’t do. Sloppy, Mars. Sloppy.” She finished circling and tapped the com wrapped around her wrist. “Someone go to Mars’s place and fetch the Fedora–” She glanced up. “Where is it?”
“Table by the door.”
She relayed the location and returned to studying me, weight on one hip, tapping a long red fingernail against her teeth. “It’s winter where you’re going, and it’ll be cold. Not that it will matter much. In and out.” She pointed at the chairs. “Sit. Final run-through.”
It was warm in the anteroom; the time inversion machine put out a lot of heat. I removed my suit jacket.
Carol squawked instantly. “What the hell! That tattoo… no. Only the worst kind of ruffian sketched on their skin in 1943. You’ll have to stop by Cosmetic and have it covered for the trip.” She consulted her paperwork. “Why wasn’t that mentioned? Mistakes like that can jeopardize the entire project.” Glancing at the time, she made an impatient sound. “They’ll have to come here.” She tapped her com again.
Embarrassed, I sat, crossed one leg over the other knee, and gripped the ankle with one hand. Within minutes, a thin young man with a protruding Adam’s apple appeared, swinging a box of tools from one slender hand. Carol told him what was required, and my tattoo vanished under a layer of fake skin that would remain in place until I returned.
When we were alone again, she said, “You’ll have six hours. Go to the address we’ve given you. Find the bomb and fix it. Three people were involved in this plot, and somehow they didn’t get it right. Idiots. They would have saved the world a lot of grief and ended the war that much earlier if they had.”
“You want it to go off,” I said. We’d been over this again and again.
She nodded. “Think of all the people you’ll save.”
Someone rushed in with my hat. Carol set it on my head. “You look handsome.”
I put on the suit jacket and faced her. “I’m ready.” There was a chance I would die. I was prepared for that.
She smiled, and I noticed a smear of lipstick on her upper teeth. “Go, then. Kill him. When you return… a party.”
Hitler died in an explosion on March 21, 1943. It changed everything.
I never made it back.
Word count: 493
Be sure to check out the rest of the stories here.
This one came to me at five in the morning. Horrible time to be struck by inspiration, but sometimes you have to go with it. Word count: 807.
Dr. Jane was working graveyard in the ER when an old man was brought in a few minutes after midnight. He was wearing pajama bottoms and nothing else. She checked his pulse, looked in his eyes, asked him if he knew his name. His mouth moved, but there was no sound.
She directed the EMTs to a curtained cubicle and gestured for them to move him to the bed. “What’s the story?” she asked.
The one called Salmon huffed a little as he lifted the patient. “Guy called 911. Cop was dispatched, had to break in the door. Found the guy on his bedroom floor.” Transfer complete, he pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to Jane: a wallet. “Cop said it was on the dresser.”
She flipped it open and immediately saw a driver’s license. The old man’s name was Copper Smith. That rang a bell. Smith was a writer. He’d won all kinds of awards for his last book. She’d read and liked it. No, loved it. Continue reading
Florida is known for these little creatures. They dart around, eat ants, scurry through grass and brush, and mate a lot. Some are native, many aren’t. When they get in the house–and they always do–we leave them alone for a few days, then move them back out. They’re friendly, eat ants and other insects, and are no trouble at all.
I was at R’s house Sunday afternoon with the camera, and I noticed a bunch of them in one corner of the house. I grabbed a chair, sat, and started shooting. Remember, you can always click on the photos to see them full-sized. Continue reading
It’s been a hard week. Work has sucked up a lot of my time, so I didn’t write as much as I wanted to. That upset me, especially when I realized I haven’t put out a new title since last Halloween. :( The way things are going, I’ll be lucky to release two books this year, and that’s simply not enough. Something must be done, and I’m thinking about it.
R tells me his 82-year-old mother may be moving into the lake house this weekend. He says it’s temporary, but I think it’ll be hard to get her out of there once she takes up residence. The woman pisses away money, having a generous monthly stipend, but is always in debt and bugging her family to help her out financially. They’re all sick of it, and no, she’s not senile. She’s always been this wasteful and stupid when it comes to money. On what she gets each month, I would never have to edit again, could afford a new car, and would be able to travel, albeit modestly. She has two storage units she’s been paying $60 each a month for, and they’re stuffed with shit she hasn’t looked at in years, yet she needs more. Hoarders, anyone? Continue reading