Sunday, November 27, 2011

Don't Wait and Don't Hesitate!

An Honest Lie, Volume 3: Justifiable Hypocrisy
is now available for purchase! This volume brings you more zany, unique, and intriguing stories. Here's a peek at what you will find inside!

Anna Likes to Die, by Will Terry

People in lines, at government offices, seem so drained of life you can almost see right through them. They shed opaque-like thin layers of plastic stripping off a severed limb. If they stand just right, with the sun, you can see straight through the organized tolerance for waiting and observe that beneath the translucent social mores is just another torn appendage like everyone else, waiting to be delivered to another line.

The Dognapper, by Yance Wyatt

Daniel exhibited unprecedented self-discipline in the following months. When he went to the supermarket with his mother, he refrained from buying video games and junk food. To avoid the temptation, he refused to walk down those towering aisles of kitsch, the ones gleaming with shrink-wrap. Instead he waited on the sidewalk with other men who didn’t want to go in. He loitered near the newspaper dispenser as they deposited their coins, then caught the door as they turned away, just in time for a freebie. There in the classifieds, Daniel circled terse descriptions of various breeds, but most of them were at least two-hundred.

Rolex Ruby, by Sally York

She picked up the laminated menu the waitress had left on the table when she’d taken Ruby’s order for a Bloody Mary, and studied it. She was hungry, but reluctant to blow twenty bucks on lunch. She still had about $7,000, but that would get chewed up by bills in a few months. She was weighing her decision when she heard pockets of laughter rise from some of the tables.

Civil Serpents, by Joshua J. Mark

“If it is clear, then say `Yes, Mr. Oculato, we understand.’”

“Yes, Mr. Oculato,” they all said in unison. “We understand.”

“Fine,” he smiled. “Point two is equally simple. If, having uttered the name of that fascistic den of iniquity, and having properly named it ‘the K-Mart of the mind’, you should then mention it again, for any reason, within ten minutes of having first mentioned it, and you must then say `and, you know, it is a communist country.’ Is that also clear?”

Furries, by Ruth Webb

The liquor was starting to hit him hard, but instead of the reassuring buzz he usually felt when drinking in character, Doug felt more and more insecure, unsure of himself. He kept looking down at his fox suit, which had seemed to fit his personality so perfectly a few months ago, and rejecting it as old, dated, slightly pathetic. He wondered if it was the condition of the suit itself, but thought, no, it was the fox persona that wasn’t working for him

Choosing the fox as his personal furry had not been a rash decision, he had pondered his furry animal at length. In addition to being beautiful animals, the strength of a wolf with the slinky sex appeal of a cat, foxes were sneaky, opportunists. But what really made the decision, what made the fox a definitive “Doug” character, was defined in one word, sly.

Melvin Gee’s Short Trip to Hell, by Eric Trant

Melvin noticed that where the angel’s bare feet touched the path, the grass crept toward the prints, pinching off the trail behind her. Melvin hurried to follow her, both of them walking toward a range of mountains several miles in the distance.

Holding her pen between her fingers, trying not to mark her robe, the angel rubbed her left shoulder as she walked; the ink stains on her robe spelled old habit. “Yes, I know what you’re thinking: the sky, this field, that little stand of trees, the mountains … beautiful. Peaceful, isn’t it. Makes you want to lay down and sleep. Don’t. This is the Old Garden, the one you cats got booted out of. If you fall asleep, or slip off this trail, or God help you if you steal one of those precious apples, you’ll get carried off. But I bet the big question is why I don’t have wings.”

“Actually,” said Melvin. “I was wondering about the path. It—”

“We don’t have wings anymore. Not since that whole fallen angel thing. ‘For security reasons,’ they said.” The angel glanced over her shoulder at Melvin. “Security! Ha! More like penance for a sin I didn’t commit. You should have seen my wings!”

The Easy Way Out, by Greg Kuehn

We were at the hospital a lot in the beginning. With all the testing they did on her, you would have thought she was training to be an astronaut or something. Neurological exams, MRIs, CT scans, a biopsy. The doctors and nurses, they knew, but they had to be certain. We all had to be certain. Then, it was certain. A glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor, grade 4.

There was crying and anger and fear. And love. There was love then.
In the beginning, I hated the hospital. I hated the surgeries, the chemotherapy, and the radiation treatments, what they each took from her. They took all the good parts. I hated the doctors and the nurses, the cheap toilet paper, and the vending machine dinners. I hated the unorganized piles of hunting and gardening magazines and the waiting.

They were constant reminders of the devastating illness that had been inflicted upon the wife I adored. But once the cancer began to worsen, and she grew weaker, trips to the hospital became a refreshing break from it all.

Suspension Bridge, by Dorene O’Brien

I told him that Paolo Caliari painted the Marriage at Cana, which now hangs upside-down in the Louvre, and that Federico Barocci paved the way for Baroque art with a largely unheralded painting of the first meeting of the Society of Carpenters.

He intermittently growled and purred as I spun the names off my tongue with a self-styled Italian accent, as I wove a strange tapestry of artistic truth and fiction that even I would be unable to reconstruct an hour later. But none of this concerned me because I’d quite naturally assumed the role of artist myself, experimenting with form and composition, manipulating content for dramatic effect, curating an inexhaustible repository of images and ideas. I was made to feel invincible by Tony’s insatiable appetite for interpretation and his apparent belief that I could provide it. I extrapolated world histories from painting titles, genealogies from family portraits, landscapes from a single hill.

Mike from the Mailroom, by William Walton

Most mornings I watch until she comes out to get the paper, usually about an hour after it arrives. My regular parking spot is just around the corner in front of an empty house that’s for sale. It’s perfect. I can see her house, but she can’t see me. No one else notices me either.

Sometimes she comes out with a cup, probably coffee, in her hand. That’s what she drinks at work. She comes out in her robe, with her hair all mussed up. She looks so natural, so vulnerable. As soon as she picks up her paper, I leave for work. That way I’m early enough to sharpen her pencils before the others arrive. I leave one or two unsharpened so she won’t notice.

Helping her without her even knowing brings me unspeakable joy. I used to go out to the parking lot to check the pressure in her tires. But since I have no way to correct it when it’s low without being noticed, I don’t do that anymore. It still worries me though.
Mostly I just love watching her, daydreaming about the time when we’ll be together. Of course, at work she has to keep things very professional, so my favorite times to watch her are at night and on the weekends.

The Great Oppression, by ME Johnson

I turned back to Mr. Jessen, my mouth full of more hate than blood for what he had just done to Jimmy. But by that time, Mr. Jessen had grabbed hold of Vera an’ was pushing her into his car.

“You leave her alone!” I cried as I rushed toward him, but he didn’t listen. He just laughed – laughed an’ laughed. That made me even madder. I started hitting him as hard as I could, pounding him with all the hate I could muster, which was quite a lot. But it didn’t do any good. He just kept laughing until he’d had enough. Then he pushed me away so hard I fell to the ground, skinning my knees an’ hands.

But I wasn’t done with him. I quickly got back up an’ charged him again. This time, he slapped me across the head so hard I got dizzy.

An’ then he hit me again, an’ again. I fell to the ground, my ears ringing, my heart racing, an’ my head hurting so bad I couldn’t think. That was all the time he needed to shove the wad of money in his pants an’ push Vera back in the car. She had tried to climb back out when he was hitting me.

As he got in after her, he yelled back at me, “You tell your Momma this money is mine. And you tell her she’s going to pay for lying to me!” Then he hit Vera a couple of times to shut her up ‘cause by now she was crying an’ bawling real loud.

“Etta, Etta!” She yelled. “Don’t let him take me away!” But I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t even help myself.

Even though my ears were still ringing, I couldn’t mistake the sound of his car door slamming shut an’ the race of his engine as he started it up an’ drove off. I’ll never forget the look on Vera’s face. She had pressed herself against the window, looking out at me in passing. She was terrified. I could see her lips saying the words, “Help me, Etta, help me!”

An’ then they were gone, lost in the shadows of the night. I must have stood there for a long time, not believing what had just happened. At least, it seemed like a long time. I looked back at Jimmy. He hadn’t stirred one bit, an’ suddenly, I knew something was terribly wrong with him.

Scent, by Donna Hole

Near the gates, he undressed and shifted, and was about ready to seek an entrance when he heard the clump of goat hooves. It sounded muffled, slightly odd, but Reggie decided the cement was distorting the sound. It felt good to be stalking hoofed prey, and Reggie took his time following the clumping sounds. Once he located the stomach rumbling noise, he tracked it from behind a hedge. When he could stand the sounds no longer, he leaped over the greenery, fangs and claws extended for a quick slash across where the neck should be.

What he landed on was a young girl wearing pink platforms and a matching pink skirt. Reggie was as startled as the girl, and tried to stop his attack mid-leap. He managed to close his jaws as his face connected with her chest, but the swipe of his paw left a deep bloody slash from shoulder to hip.

She screamed and kicked her heals against the ground, and the semblance of dying prey hit Reggie’s wolf senses with renewed strength. An efficient bite to her neck stopped her screams. Reggie sat back on his haunches for a moment, licking her blood from his lips and wondering what he should do now.

The Santa Fix, by Bill McCurry

As Max pressed the earpiece to his ear it began buzzing. He waited in silence while it buzzed three times. At the fourth buzz he glanced over at the woman and smiled. She did not smile back. At the seventh buzz Max stopped smiling too. At the tenth buzz Max realized that his right foot was tapping like a Geiger counter, and he willed it into immobility. Somewhere before the fifteenth buzz Max’s head had dropped, dangling below his shoulders like an ox in Death Valley. He glanced up and realized that the woman would happily beat him to death if only she had something heavier than lingerie in her shopping bag. But a glance at the boy showed nothing but beatific confidence on his face.

Just after the seventeenth buzz a concerned voice in the earpiece answered, “Hello?”

“What the h—“ Max erupted, and then he calmed himself as he looked at the kid from the corner of his eye. Max went on, “I’m calling from the elevator, and there’s a problem. We’re stuck at the eighth floor.”

“Who is this calling?” the voice inquired, having dropped into a calm and businesslike tone.

Max paused, aware that the boy was soaking in every word. “This is Santa Claus,” he managed to reply without grimacing.

Affectionating, by Helen Chapman

While Noreen used her cell phone to make the call, Denver stepped out of his truck to assess the job to come. Noreen was always surprised when she stood next to this man. She was not a small woman, but this former sheriff’s deputy fairly towered over her. And today, he wore his cowboy boots, giving him another two inches in height. Looking at him now, though, no one would ever think he had ever worked in law enforcement. With his long sun-bleached hair and tattoos, he might more readily be mistaken for a former inmate.

With Noreen leaning on the side of her car and Chuck still seated safely in the back seat, Denver noisily backed his big truck up to the rear of Achmed’s van. With as much squealing and thumping as he could manage to get out of his hoist, he began running the hook under the rear of the vehicle, just as the door of the trailer burst open and a short swarthy man emerged, followed closely by a very young woman holding one of the twins and an older, much heavier woman carrying the other. They rushed towards Denver as he got up from the ground without hooking the axle.

“What you think you doing, man?” the man, presumably Achmed asked. “Get the hell off my van.”

The Skin Script, by Stephanie M. Lorée

She smiled. “I’ll try to keep my hands to myself.”

He caught himself grinning as he began. “Talk to me about you. I want to know it all.”

“You already do, limner,” she said, “but I’ll tell you anyway.”

As he filled in her future, she relayed her past. And when the pain ceased, they smiled. Together they whispered deeper truths under florescent lights. Skin against skin.
Twice Jules negated her death. Maybe his too, he couldn’t know.

Years would pass in guile and secret rendezvous. Mistakes that might have led to their discovery, simply erased. No taint of their love allowed on her neck, no exchange of passion interrupted by a curious father.

Her skin consumed him as he worked. The smell of iron and ink. The smooth delicacy of her touch. The flavor of peppermint lip-gloss. The heat. He might illuminate her body, but she carved a channel inside Jules. She liberated him from a prison of plastic walls and cold steel. Worse, she made him laugh.

Our Storybook Bear, by Debrin Case

And so our storybook bear allowed the mouse to scurry ahead of him as they wound their way into the fiefdom of Lesser Mousefield.

Along the way he found that as he grew into being more awake he had more strength and what began as slow plodding steps on all threes, he learned a galloping maneuver that allowed him to keep his head raised.The crafty mouse wound his way between warehouse

shelving with thousands of decrepit boxes, and darted under a salmon colored couch with a missing seat cushion.

“This way friend bear,’ he squeaked, and there under the couch was a mouse hole unlike any other seen before by neither man nor beast. About the archway of the entry point into Lesser Mousefield was a solid silver frame upon which was engraved the words “The citizens of Lesser Mousefield welcome you”.

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