John Irving’s Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla was born in Bombay. Although he lived in Toronto he always felt the need to return to India every four or five years. He would probably keep returning to India as long as there were dwarfs in the circus that he could collect blood from for his research in genetics, which way why he was known affectionately as “the vampire.” Read more
John Locke – Box
“I kill other doctor’s patients,” said Dr. Gideon Box, the top Cardiothoracic pediatric surgeon in the world. Read more
If you didn’t read the first installment of Second Chance you might want to start there.
How do you kill a mobster’s wife? Or, as in my case, why would you kill a mobster’s wife? I didn’t want to give Walter a second chance with Sandy, that was my plan. I decided that all I needed to do was to convince Sandy that I had a plan and was attempting to kill “the wife,” as she was referred to by Sandy. So, how do you pretend to attempt to kill a mobster’s wife?
As luck would have it, the answer came while standing in front of the mobster’s home; his wife came out walking their dog. At least I assumed it was his wife, and I assumed that it was a dog. She was very stunning, with her long hair and shapely legs, and she seemed to be gliding along, without even touching the ground. The dog, I mean, the woman was another story completely. She was very ugly, had short hair, and seemed to be dragging herself along instead of walking. The dog was an amazing creature! It seemed to command the space around it, never turning her head to look around, yet knowing that everybody was watching her and that everything revolved around her.
I decided to follow them, just to get an idea of where she was going and how long she could keep moving without falling down. After following her for a few minutes it became obvious to me that this was someone who would be thankful to be put out of her misery! When I got close enough to hear, I noticed that she was talking to herself, complaining about something. “You can’t be serious! How long do you think that I’ll put up with this shit?” On the other hand, she might have been talking to the dog.
When they stopped at a bench in the park to sit down, I decided to approach her and maybe even start-up a little conversation with her. What a mistake that turned out to be! “Hi,” I said, “what kind of dog is that?” The look that she gave me sent chills down my spine! It was obvious that she wasn’t going to answer me, so I tried another approach. “Do you think that it’s going to rain?” This is something that you can ask a total stranger and expect to get some type of answer, right? Wrong! What I got in return was something that I was later able to determine was about 1 million volts from a stun gun!
While I was recovering from my encounter with Walter’s wife later that evening at Sandy’s apartment, she asked me, “Well, have you figured out how you’re going to kill ‘the wife’?” “Oh yeah,” I said, “I’ve come up with about a million different ways to kill the bitch! The hard part will be deciding which of the ways would be the most painful!”
If you didn’t read the first installment of Second Chance you might want to start there.
Sandy couldn’t tell me a thing about Walter, all she knew was his last name, Solonik. She didn’t know where he lived, and wasn’t sure what he did for a living! “Wait a minute,” I said, “Didn’t you say he was a Wall Street broker?” “Well,” she said, “he has a sexy accent, is rich as hell, loves spending money on me, and he once said something about Wall Street. What else do I need to know about him?”
My last job was as a bartender at the “Whole Lee Kow.” A tavern/dump downtown that had a clientele that was one-step removed from being homeless. I know, sounds like a great place to work, right? Well, they paid in cash, and didn’t demand that you work on a regular schedule. If you’re wondering how I was fired from such a great job, I’ll tell you, I have a slight anger management problem. Ok, so maybe slight is an exaggeration. It doesn’t take much to set me off. Selby is a regular at the Kow and he loves to push my buttons, and he’s good at it. The other night he was on a roll, bragging to me about some girl he met, and how he really messed with her head. He somehow got her to believe that he was a big shot golf pro at the country club and had promised her that he could get her a job working in the restaurant there. Well, to make a long story short, he ended up leaving her, half-naked and stoned, out on some country road in the middle of the night to find her own way home. I was just getting ready to serve him another bottle of Bud when he was telling the story, instead, I jumped over the bar, hit him with the bottle and ended up getting a couple of good licks before I was hauled out of there, and fired by Wong Kow.
The one thing about the kind of people that hang out at the Kow is that they know what’s going on around town. So, I went there to talk to a couple of the regulars about Walter. It ended up being a lot easier than I thought it’d be. It seems that Walter Solonik was a rich man, a very rich man. And how he came by his money wasn’t hard to find out either, he was a thief, not an ordinary, run of the mill thief that would break into people’s homes while they slept. He’s a Russian mobster who lives in the U.S. and is active in all types of white collar crime. “This is not someone you want to be messin’ with,” Sergio said while he glanced around the room nervously. Sergio was once a Wall Street broker before the market crashed. Now he lived in the back of the bar and cleaned up the place for beer. “I heard that once a guy accidentally stepped on Walter’s foot in a crowed bar and the next day he was jumped in an alley and his foot was chopped off!”
Maybe I should re-think taking this second chance.
If you didn’t read the first installment of Second Chance you might want to start there.
Let’s get something straight right off the bat. I am not a killer. Sure, I’ve done some crazy things, some that were pretty cruel. Like one time Sandy got a job at the 7-11 and had me come in at 3 a.m. to stage a robbery. I ended up being a lot tougher on the guy running the place than we had planned. But, it was his own fault for trying to be a hero. My advice to anyone who cares to listen, don’t be a hero for someone else’s money. It’s not worth it. You could end up like Jake, out of work and missing two front teeth.
“So, when will you kill her?” That was just like Sandy. Take it for granted that she’ll get her way, and start making the plans. “Look,” I said, “This isn’t like rolling a drunk and taking his money, this is pretty serious shit.” “Why would I risk everything I have for a measly $1400?” Sandy rolled her eyes in that way she had that always got to me and said, “It’s $1200, and what do you have that you’re afraid of losing?” She had a point there, and she knew it. Everything that I owned could fit into the trunk of my car, a car that was barely running. “There really isn’t any risk anyway; we’re going to make it look like an accident, so how could you get in trouble?”
The rest of the evening, Sandy would come up with ideas of how to make “the wife’s” death look like an accident, and I would come up with reasons why it wouldn’t work. “You could turn off the furnace while she was asleep and then when the house filled up with gas, you could light it.” “Ok,” I said, “so you don’t care if Walter is killed too?” “Oh yeah,” she said, “We should try to avoid that.” “How about if you sneak into her house and push her down the stairs?” she said, “You could leave a toy at the top of the stairs and it would look like she tripped on it?” “They have kids?” I asked. “No, they don’t have kids; it doesn’t have to be a toy dammit!” We had started drinking a couple of hours ago and I could tell that she was starting to get mad, and when Sandy was mad and drunk, it could get ugly fast!
When I first met Sandy, we were just teenagers. A group of us were jumping off the railroad trestle that crossed the river and she came by and watched us. After a while she said, “When the next train comes by, the last one to jump off gets to tell everyone else what to do for the rest of the day.” This could be interesting, I thought that I could come up with a few things that I would like her to do. Well, not only was she the last one to jump off, but I was already in the water watching her wait till the last possible second before she jumped! With the conductor blowing the train whistle and waving like crazy at her, she jumped off, and I swear she reached behind her and touched the train as it passed! She told everyone to split and the rest of the afternoon we spent under the bridge with her telling me what to do and how long to do it.
But that was then and right now I was looking at her getting madder and drunker so I decided to try to calm her down. “I’ve got an idea,” I said, and she looked at me suspiciously. Her look told me that I better be serious if I knew what was good for me. “How about if I follow her around and see what opportunities come up?” I knew that this was way too vague to keep Sandy happy for long, but she seemed to accept the fact that I was at least thinking seriously about committing the murder. But I wasn’t thinking seriously about it, I was still trying to figure out a way to get back together with Sandy. At least this way I could be around when Walter finally kicked her out of the apartment. Maybe I would get my second chance, if I could talk her into moving in with me.
Seldom in life do we get a second chance. So, when I got a phone call from an ex-girlfriend that had dumped me 3 years ago and wanted to get a drink, I accepted. What did I have to lose? I had just lost my job, the rent was 3 months overdue and my 99 Camry was pretty much on it’s last leg, just like me. “I’ve got a proposition for you, Sam,” she said. “How would you like to make $1200 for a half hour of your time?”
When I first met Sandy I was running with a rough crowd, and she was looking for someone to keep her amused, which wasn’t easy. Sandy’s idea of entertainment was shoplifting clothes from Bloomingdale’s and then leaving them in a box in the back seat of her unlocked car. Then she would wait for someone to steal the box, and then follow them until she got a chance to take it back. Another one of her “fun ideas” was to sit in a bar and let someone buy her a couple of drinks. When she found a guy that had a nice amount of cash in his wallet, she would say that she lived nearby and suggest they go for a walk. I would be waiting for them, and we would rob him.
Sandy looked pretty good. She had lost some weight and was wearing what looked like expensive clothes and jewelry. “I’m not going to beat around the bush here, Sam. I’ve got a problem, and I think that you can help me.” I should have known better, this isn’t a second chance to get back together; she wanted someone to do her dirty work for her. If I weren’t in such a bad way, I would have turned around and walked away. But, I needed the money, and, to be honest, my life has been pretty boring lately. “Who do I have to kill?” I joked, but she wasn’t laughing. “Let’s go for a walk,” she said, “so we can talk.” I have to admit that while walking to her house I kept expecting someone to jump me.
Sandy’s apartment was the size of small ballroom! “How can you afford this place? “It must cost a fortune!” She winked at me, and said, “Let’s just say my boyfriend likes to keep me comfortable, at least he did.” Before she turned her head, I saw a tear in her eye. This can’t be the Sandy that I knew! Sandy would drop a boyfriend like a bad habit if he did something to piss her off. What in the hell was going on here? “So, are you serious about the $1500?” I asked. She smiled and said, “It was $1200, and yes, I’m serious.”
Sandy told me that her boyfriend was a Wall Street broker and was taking care of her living expenses until he got divorced. That was the story he’d told her. Things changed when his wife found out about the affair and threatened to take him for everything he had, if he didn’t break it off right away! So, Walter told her that she had 24 hours to clear out of his life, at least until he got his wife calmed down. But Sandy had a different plan. She wanted to kill “the wife.” Well, she wanted me to kill her.
Short Story by Gregory Stevens
Abe was a fine specimen of manhood, especially for the time he lived. He worked hard of course but always, always had the dream of aspiring to do more with his life. But it seemed lately all of his dreams were being interrupted and disturbed by voices or echoes or something in his head. It seemed like the rest of the world was not on the same page as he was. But no matter, he was a confident lad who felt things would work out fine as long as he stuck to his guns. After all, except for a recent bump on the head, his luck was something to brag about. He did find it more difficult as of late to get things done but he attributed that to just being tired. He had great plans for him and his family. He could see them all living in a beautiful home one day with the respect of all of his neighbors and friends. But as he reached back and felt the bump on the back of his head, it seemed to hurt more than it first did. Anyway, he was a tough country boy and this was nothing.
Although he really didn’t remember what happened. He looked to his wife sitting near to him and she was giving him the oddest look. He knew he had forced her to come out tonight but he felt that as hard as he had being working they deserved a night out and even though he had forgotten the name of the place they were, the audience and people on the stage in front of him told him they were at the theatre. He loved plays, and really, the only thing he enjoyed more was reading.
Anyway, he was a bit hot and when he asked his wife for her hanky to wipe his forehead, she didn’t respond, although now it appeared she was looking down at him rather than next to him. Rather befuddled, his confusion suddenly increased when his wife’s face contorted into that of a horrified woman, and even though her mouth was wide open, he couldn’t hear a thing. What the hell was going on? Had he falling asleep at his desk and this was some strange dream? He certainly had been having a lot of them. Lately he’d been having terrible dreams about violence and his own death. As he reached over to touch his wife’s cheek, his arm didn’t move. Now he knew it was a dream.
Then, as he tried to wake himself up like he normally was able to do when he had odd or unpleasant dreams, he suddenly was engulfed in a multitude of male and female screams. He was surrounded by people he didn’t know and he wondered how they all could have squeezed into the small room they were in. Then through the mass of faces came that of the young soldier that was in the seat next to him. He felt the young man’s hand cup the back of his head but when he pulled his hand back it was covered in a black gunk, but it became bright red when a splash of light from the overhead lamp touched upon it. When he took his handkerchief and placed it at the back of his head, suddenly it occurred to this very intelligent President, he was touching his brain and with that realization, Abe was no longer there.
Short story written by Gregory Steven.
If you enjoyed the unique writing style of this short story and would like to have Gregory guest post on your site, you can contact him through Jim (at) jimsgotweb.com
The smell was getting much stronger now. He had to be close. Any minute now and he would see it. How long has he been following it, trying to find the source of the smell? He hadn’t been paying attention to where he was going, and he was completely lost now, but it didn’t matter. He had to find where it was coming from. Peering ahead into the early morning fog, he expected to see it around every corner. He knew that it would appear suddenly when he came upon it. The shock of finally seeing it was probably going to be a lot to handle, but he could do it. He was young, strong, and fit. What would it look like? Would it be large or small? It didn’t matter, when he found it he would know what to do. The suspense was killing him. The smell was so powerful now that it completely overwhelmed his senses.
He saw other people walking around, seemingly unaware of the smell. How could they not notice it? It was so powerful that it practically knocked you over! But, they were walking in the other direction, going on with their lives, unbelievable! It was clear by the looks on their faces that they had no idea what was possibly just around the corner. They didn’t how close they were to what was causing this unbelievable smell! It didn’t matter to him. He would find it. Then his search would be over and he could go on with his life.
This has happened to him before. He remembered that the last time had taken him forever, but he what he discovered had changed his life. This felt like one of those times. The anticipation was really getting to him now. He knew that his search was almost over. It was just around the corner. Finally, as his eyes adjusted to the sudden flash of light, he saw it!
What do you think the smell was coming from?
The Computer That Wanted Life
Laurie was always online. She was always blogging, paying her bills, sending emails, posting on Face Book, shopping, and on and on. She had to find a way to save time online by having all those mundane things taken care of. Then she would have more time to do the things that she really enjoyed. One day, while looking on Craigslist for a used laptop computer, she saw an ad that caught her eye.
She contacted the seller, bought the computer and before long, she had it up and running. At first, it seemed like an ordinary computer. She used it to do all the things she always did while online. Then she started getting messages, popups that seemed to be talking directly to her.
“Why not?” she thought, “I can’t remember the last time I’ve taken a vacation!” So, she sent out emails to all of her contacts and left posts on Face Book that she was going offline for a while, taking a break from it all and going on vacation. She’d always wanted to go on a cruise and that’s just what she did. She spent 7 days on a Caribbean cruise, living the life of a Queen. She had 7 days of no computer, no telephone, nothing but time, all the time in the world.
After the 3rd day, she started wondering how Patty was doing with her new dog, how Charlie was getting by without sending her emails every 20 minutes, and what level Ruth was on the CityVille game on Face Book. On the 4th day, she found a public computer on the ship to check her email, but she wasn’t able to log on. She couldn’t log on to Face Book either, her passwords were changed! “That’s weird, I never change my passwords!” She really started worrying when she realized that the passwords for all of her accounts had been changed. Her bank account, her Amazon account, she couldn’t even access her Twitter account, and she hasn’t used that for years! For the rest of the cruise she realized how much satisfaction she got out of being online. She missed the constant interruption of her friends sending her messages. She missed the trivial posts on Face Book about everyone’s daily life. What was Robin having for dinner? Were Susan’s kids happy at their new school? She felt as if she was totally out of touch with her life, and she wanted it back!
The first thing she did when she got home from her vacation was to turn on her laptop. But, it was already on! How can that be? She distinctly remembers turning it off before she left for her cruise! What was going on? That’s when she realized, this was no ordinary computer. There was a message on the screen.
Scott Nicholson’s opening line in the Red Church, “The world never ends the way you believe it will” sets up a story that takes place in the small mountain town of Whispering Pines in North Carolina, where the “old families” have a secret. What is causing the tragic, violent, unexplained accidents? Is there a mountain lion roaming the town at night? Sheriff Littlefield would like to believe that’s the cause of all the deaths, but Detective Storie sees it differently. She’s a flatlander and doesn’t believe in the old ways and superstitions.
How is the bell ringing in the old red church? The rope has been gone for years, every since, well, that’s part of the “old families” secret. And what is the dark shape in the belfry of the red church? Is that where the laughter and other sounds are coming from? Ronnie knows what it is. He’s seen it scratching at his window at night.
Sheriff Littlefield has heard the laughter. He heard it on the Halloween night years ago. The night of the tragic accident that took the life of his little brother. Was that an accident? Or is it related to all the other deaths that have happened in this small town?
Is it a coincidence that the preacher, Archer McFall is back in town and has bought the old red church? Archer is one of the old families, his mother has lived here for years, and her pregnancy with Archer has been part of intense gossip since his birth.