by Guy Belleranti
The writer’s dinner was in full swing when I leaned close to Chelsea Yates and told her I felt ill and had to leave.
“Oh, Amanda, must you?” Chelsea’s hazel eyes fastened on me, disappointment clouding her face.
Afraid so, Ms. Perfect Mystery Writer, I wanted to say, but didn’t. I had something better planned for her, something that would put a little crimp in her pocketbook, and a bulge in mine.
by Will Zeilinger
The last thing I needed was to wake up to a yapping dog. Not on the morning after St. Patrick’s Day. I hadn’t thrown a party like that since my college days and the hangover I had was a killer. I managed to get both eyes open and drag my sorry ass out of bed to find out what was getting Lardass worked up.
by Gary Hoffman
I got my job as a batboy with the Pine City Pinkies not because my old man was somebody important, but because I didn’t have one. Most batboys are hired because their old man knows someone or is an important person in the community. Mine left me and my mom when I was two years old. May 13, 1950, was the date he bailed out for “parts unknown to seek his fortune.” Mom still gets dumpy when that date rolls around every year.
by Gail Farelly
He’s the worst, the absolute worst. I’ve always hated bullies, and he’s no exception. His name is Bob; to me, he’s Bully Bob. He’s in a bad mood tonight. So what’s new? When he’s in a bad mood, that’s bad news for me. I have to pay the price. He manhandles me, as he sees fit and really pushes my buttons. Hard. Much too hard. I’m amazed that all my parts are still in working order. I only wish that his weren’t.
by Selika Maria Sweet
Gracie Lou crossed the Pearl River Bridge on the way from her hangout, the coffee shop in Jackson, Mississippi, across from the medical center. It occurred to her that the bridge separated more than just the cities of Jackson and Pearl; crossing it was like going across a racial twilight zone. Jackson was mostly African American and Pearl was mostly white.
by Andrew Welsh-Huggins
He breezed into the restaurant fifteen minutes late with a rush of apologies, his cologne strong and his distraction stronger.
“Traffic was such a bitch. I’m so sorry.” He made a show of crossing over to kiss her on the cheek even as she was still rising from her chair, as though oblivious to what people in the crowded restaurant thought. Out of the corner of her eye she saw more than one woman send an approving glance their way.
by Elaine Faber
“You never have a handkerchief when you need one. Here, take mine.”
Agnes shaded her eyes and looked up. Godfrey Baumgarten? How long has it been? The years zipped away as the flickering light played across the man’s face. She took his handkerchief, dabbed her eyes and blew her nose. She stumbled to her feet and stared at the tall, distinguished, grey-haired gentleman grinning down at her with the same rakish smile she remembered too well.
by Barry Wiley
The rustling well-dressed crowd of Parisian lace and titles applauded with some spirit as, still blindfolded, I placed my hand gently on the shoulder of the mistress of the house, the Countess Cladissa D’Dadario, identifying her as the bloody assassin. As I removed the blindfold, tossing it aside, she, in turn, a gracious lady of perhaps mid-fifties, with many rumored affairs, began to laugh.
by James Callan
He stood facing Mr. Sambici. Rico never sat in this office. He came in, got his orders, and left. Usually, he said little more than “yes, sir,” or, “No, Mr. Sambici.” Once, he said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Sambici. It won’t happen again.”
by Guy Belleranti
Janice Dillon flinched as Tony Rosaro charged past her and out the door of Kim Brennan’s half of the duplex.
“Help…murder!” Janice cried, running into the yard.
Tony swung a wild glance back in her direction, then jerked open the door of his red sports car and piled inside. Once…twice the engine sputtered. Then it died.
by Charles West
There was a dead body in the tractor shed. It had to wait, however, until the Friant Police Department and the Friant County Sheriff’s Department figured out who it belonged to. The tractor shed was at the center of a small fig orchard. No one was sure if the property, and therefore, jurisdiction belonged to the city or the county. Unlike television and movie law enforcement officers, actual police do not engage in turf battles over dead bodies. No one wants another potentially unsolved murder case damaging their statistics.
by Linda Cahill
Sean Clark slammed his hand on the desk and raced out of his office cubicle. “Shut that damn thing off.”
The man with the vacuum froze. “Yes, yes.”
Sean tapped his watch. “You’re not supposed to start until six!”
The vacuum continued to whine.
by Paula Gail Benson
On December 28, I returned to work, hoping to hide out in the holiday-hollowed halls of academia. No such luck. The first of the three dastardly “Ds” in my life, my ex-wife and fellow faculty member, Daphne, anticipated my strategy and beat me there. She stopped me as I reached my office door to ask if I’d decided on the song I wanted.
by Mabry Hall
Rudolph sauntered into the bar, his red nose blue from the cold. “Gimme an Irish coffee, Bert. Gotta heat up the old schnozzle.”
by Frederick Ramsay
The door slammed against the wall, bounced, shuddered, and slapped shut again. Darcie Starling, mouth agape, stood as her father’s picture in the foyer wobbled on its hook, seemed to hesitate, unsure if it should, and then plummeted to the floor with a crash, scattering glass shards across the floor. Seconds later, the Digby police, search warrant in hand, pushed their way in, this time more gently, and proceeded to search her house.
by Barbara Schlichting
Maggie and I had been friends for over twenty years. Our moms were friends; they went shopping together, taking Maggie and me along. Our families lived side-by-side in a working class neighborhood in south Minneapolis, until the day that turned my life around. That was the day my parents were killed in a car accident. I went to live with my grandparents, Marie and August Ott, and fortunately, they lived nearby, so Maggie and I could still be friends and go to the same schools. We graduated and still do everything together.
by Elizabeth Zelvin
The new kid in town, the only Jewish girl in my class, and as far as I could tell, the only shape-shifter—high school was hell. On top of that, my parents seemed to be the only Democrats in the county. President Eisenhower was considered a shoo-in for re-election. Even though I begged them not to, my parents stuck a Stevenson bumper sticker on the car. I got to say, “I told you so,” when they got five parking tickets on Main Street within a month. But it didn’t give me much satisfaction.
by J.R. Lindermuth
Jasper Greene shuffled to a window and pulled back the curtain, peered out, and saw a station wagon in his yard.
The driver was a stranger but one familiar with country ways. He sat in the car with the motor running, waiting, not coming up to pound on the door like some traveling salesman. The old man went back to his coffee and waited.