Tag Archives: Story


The song “Black Sunshine” was apropos as Marissa floored it down the 10. She couldn’t let a freak storm impede the progress of her Shelby Cobra on its way to destiny. This was her date with death, if it came down to it. Traffic had to go. All this weaving was making for an even more miserable experience. Was she trying to stop a catastrophe for these people? Sometimes she wondered its worth, especially with all the persecution.

Being a manipulator of the forces around her was still a problem for those raised on too many fairy tales. Good and evil always begin in a neutral state. Those who use their mystical attributes take them down that road. Her father, Hogan, would often prance into her study with, “Oh-hoo-hoo, are you a good witch or a bad witch?” Such was his nature to be cheeky, and often used common society to irritate her to no end. Teenage angst, being what it was, would always seem to give him the satisfaction of a reaction to his facetiousness.

Those were easier times for the young sorceress, up in the Superstitions. It was a veritable paradise compared to the current state of affairs. Time was endless and there was always a centuries-old book to crack open. Scribbles could dance with the touch of her fingers even when they were much older than the country she called home. “The trade was eternal,” Hogan would say.

He left when she was 20. It may have been just a matter of independence, a going of one’s own way. That was understandable to a certain extent, but to never get back in contact? She couldn’t think of anything she did to turn him away. A second pair of hands would be well received right about now. There were countless, terribly dangerous users on the isolation planes that could peel the crust off this planet as if it were an orange and with little effort.

Signs were everywhere, but usually explained away with science and reason. Two new moons, sinkholes everywhere, the Flight of the Phoenix, and this unending thunderstorm meant something more sinister than mere traditional explanations. A male member of the tribe was resurrecting himself from suspension. This was a serious Council infraction and whoever it was needed to be put down like a rabid dog. She read no one was willing to return to their assigned dimension.

Turning off on a county road, she skidded left of center and back in time to miss a rig driver laying on his horn for all it was worth. Slick as the road was, it wasn’t nearly as perilous as the destination. A steadiness came over her as she pushed the needle past 80 mph. Everyone she knew, including herself, would be shot to Hell without doing all in her power to get there.

The reception square lay in a remote part of Arizona. Inconspicuousness favored sparsely populated areas. Convicted members would have to rest and regain their strength from such a brazen move. More than likely they would hole up in a cave or derelict house for a few days with their thoughts and motives.

Surrounded by sagebrush and sand, the platform disguised itself as slate rock partially buried in the Earth. Saguaro and yucca obscured it further from the road, but the inter-dimensional charge gave it a light white halo for the trained eye. Marissa was in the right spot; she’d soon find out who she risked life and limb to stop.

The Council of the Dogs was completely unaware of the happenings in Arizona. A New York committee spent that time arguing over the regulations of their charter, which have been known to take years on more than one occasion. She was the point of contact for the desert southwest, which meant little to nothing in the eyes of bigger fish. After three ignored missives, she decided to enforce the will of the Council herself.

 A tall cactus made for the best impromptu cover she could afford. Holding on to the relief of arriving early, rain beat down soaking her to the bone. Through stringy pink hair she surveyed the landing site intently, even though she wanted to fly far away from it. It was too late to have a change of heart.

The glow ceased and the rain gave way as a peal of thunder ripped a hole in the desert before her. A white eye with large black pupil shimmered and curls of darkness gracefully slid out into this world as the passenger came close to the exit. Marissa thought of the old 1950s horror films with their excessive use of dry ice and water. Someone’s science fair project won first place.

A sinister sight emerged from the portal and fell to the ground. Such was the way of  forbidden rituals. Even the most powerful of magicians would be weakened by it. Some fare better than others, but there was always a negative impact on the user. This was her best chance to gain the upper hand. Shouts as good as any law enforcement came forth as she charged the spent figure on the ground.

“In the name of Alexia Oroyo and the Council, I am here to enforce the rules set forth in the tribal charter. Your sentence was to be served as promised, and reintroduction is a clear violation of said promise. No exile is to return from their suspension unless granted explicit permission by the Council itself. Under these conditions, I must either escort you back to your imprisonment or destroy you. That choice will rest with your actions.” It sounded authoritative enough, even if she had no experience with either.

“Are you a good witch?” Inquired the fatigued warlock, “or a bad witch?” He couldn’t quite raise himself up off the floor, but was trying regardless.

Marissa knew that voice. So long had it been, the sound of her father moved her to tears. This was the last person she’d expect to meet at a charter breach rendezvous. Why was he in limbo to start? It certainly would explain his disappearance, but the new question was a little harder to answer.

“Dad! Why are you here? Why were you there?! What’s going on? Tell me! I don’t want to kill you, but that’s not saying I won’t.” Patience wasn’t the strongest of her virtues.

Swallowing hard and gaining moisture back in his mouth, Hogan tried to explain. He wanted to lay out the whole story, but could only manage “needed to see you.” With this he took in slow deep breaths and looked at her for a reaction.

No amount of training could prepare a member for this situation. Sifting through her thoughts she lifted her father and supported him on the way to the car. Many people make poor choices; she was willing to gamble this time. The Council certainly wouldn’t approve.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Is It Better to Love and Lose?

Lou jerked the pull chain and the neon sign for La Chaudron de Sorcière flickered to life. They were already starting to draw an evening crowd, myself included. Being a back-alley bar in New Orleans wasn’t the most accessible location in the world but convenient for other reasons. The trip was unavoidable. We all found our way here no matter how far off it seemed. In little time I recall grabbing the next ticket leaving Chicago and set upon a wild goose to find her. My family hasn’t heard from me since.

Justine sat in her favorite chair. She was as beautiful as I last saw her, always dressed to the nines. Tonight she sported a silk top hat with pheasant plumage and peek-a-boo veil. The slit running up her black pencil skirt meant business. Sidesaddle on the stool, her coattails tapped against the brass foot rest as she giggled and flirted with the crowd around her. Everyone wanted her; no one had a choice.

She was quite the thief, a dealer in hearts of the human variety. They gave her life. Travelling abroad, the world was her garden. She’d harvest the most intense blossoms for her bouquet. In its place, she’d plant a stone. Such an exchange would drive the person mad, and they’d eventually find themselves a slave to her.

This slave couldn’t stand it anymore. The whole experience was walking a fine line between the living and the dead. There needed to be some way out. I had to break free of this curse. So, I decided to meet her head on. As I walked up to her, she smiled with the promises of sweet nothings.

“I can’t go on like this. I feel nothing. I am nothing. I can’t even cry myself to sleep. Please, give me back my heart. It belongs elsewhere.” My pent up thoughts slid out on the floor with as much grace as the average wino.

Taken aback by the unusual statement, Justine leaned upon the railing. She spent a moment studying my face and frowned.

“Oh, I’m sorry, mon cher, but I had that a long time ago.” By now she was touching my cheeks with the tips of her fingers. If I weren’t so anhedonic to it all, it’d be a welcomed gesture.

“That means there’s no way back. I’ll be stuck here forever.”

Pausing a moment, Justine pulled her lapel flower close to her nose for a whiff. It reminded me of the arrogant grace that lured me into this. As she set it upon her ruffled blouse, she smiled.


“Louis,” she purred with predatory satisfaction, “another bloody mary, s’il te plaît.” His bulkiness turned with mechanical compliance as he prepared the drink for madame. In his former state, he was an ill-tempered brute of man. No police docket would be complete without a bar brawl involving him. It wasn’t until Justine pulled his heart strings that he became as docile as a lamb.

There wasn’t much left for me to say. I certainly couldn’t take back what was stolen. It was gone. There was no hope for any of us. I turned to meditate on the conversation and looked up at Lou. We stared at each other for some time, and a common link formed between us. We both knew what we wanted. The marionettes wanted to detach themselves no matter what the cost.

With his back to the madam, Lou pulled out a hidden flask from the bar. Justine was too busy being entertained by her entourage to notice. With a flick of the wrist, a bottle of arsenic was added to the bloody mary. There was no living without her. We’d all be dead by morning.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Of Schneemenschen and Solís

Want. A desire older than time identified and humanity gentrified. Folly be it to humans that it is theirs alone to possess. The quality of want is ubiquitous in every last morsel of the universe. Quite a delicacy, and delicate it is, as it presents a tug of war in a congress of existence with frayed rope. All pull to their side of want, gain as much as possible and gamble against possibility of breakage. Anger. Destruction.

As it so happens, the frigid community of Schneemenschen was in no short supply of want, as their huts lay deep in snow’s company. Their trees crackled to the force of Boreas bloviating on the virtues of Winter. Their furnaces became hungrier with every degree closer to zero. Their hours drug out mercilessly as the landscape became unfit for life. Their igloos were their world, and within such casing does a beast wait for a time of mildness and the taste of freedom.

In another corner of the world lay the República del Sol, sweltering under Summer’s heat. Exhausted, with little relief, the Solís huffed in thick atmosphere. Their eyes stung with sweat as the orbs spun incessantly hither and thither in their watery sockets. Fruitless endeavors would make up most of the days, while lethargy occupied most nights. No spot seemed sweeter than that which boasts a shade-free existence.

Trying to please their people the Kühlenkönigin and Presidente Calor sent scouts to all ends of the Earth looking for the prime place of relocation. Within the year, their parties returned most excited and spoke of land green with life and water neither steamy nor frozen. Balmy were the days and gentle the nights as it was beyond even the reach of the gods. Truly a paradise fit for either tribe.

Enthusiasm was felt in both communities that night as celebrations of new land filled their hearts with joy. It was time for a change, and for the better! As soon as they could, Solís and Schneemenchen alike packed their belongings and headed in the direction of prosperity. It wasn’t long before they found the very place of which their tribesmen spoke. Trees with leaves! Grass that’s green! Rivers that flow and pleasing to the palate. No book or poet could ever capture the true happiness contained within the hearts of these desperate people.

Often it said, and often it correct, that things too good to be true are. Soon both people found themselves in the company of one another. Neither tribe wanted a neighbor, and even less a polar opposite. These were their trees, their streams, and their grass. This was their land! How dare someone else try to take it away so quickly. If we can’t have it, then no one can!

With that, a war raged to destroy paradise. The Schneemenchen brought their Wintery wrath, plucked tree leaves, froze rivers, and blanketed grass. The Solís browned the Earth with Summer’s ire, and brought drought to nature’s creation. The only problem was in the personality of the embattled nations. So different, yet so alike, neither one could convince the other to leave for good. Instead, periods of victory were followed by periods of defeat and such outcomes forged an endless loop of hot and cold for all to observe.   

Humans have lived with “seasons” for so long, they do not realize what they witness. No scholar, historian, or sage can ever recall the lore behind the phenomenon and come up with other reasons meteorological to soothe the curiosity of Man. This does not stop our two tribes from fighting and the Schneemenchen and República del Sol will engage in a fierce struggle leaving such no-man’s-land scorched, parched, and blistered, or iced, frozen, and frostbitten in a cycle of want. Unfortunately to all matter involved, this want will never be satisfied. The lust for more is a candle never consumed, and such a dance is two steps forward with two steps back.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Coffee and Smoke

A cup of coffee receiving a long sigh may have been undeserving in other situations. Creature comforts were to be enjoyed, but the well-being of the creature will control ultimate appreciation. After all, there was some poor sap in a third-world country who couldn’t buy a well-roasted cup o’ joe, right? That’s the knee-jerk response from any faceless schmuck upon grappling with deeper issues more important than hot, bean water. The taste of nothing, in a Camus-esque sense met lips cracked from Winter’s wrath. This could be the gooseberries of your life.

The darkness beyond the rim of the drinking vessel agreed with nihilism over Nietzsche, providing a subject matter of negative space. Metaphor for the lonely: warmth surrounded by rigid structure.  He could not help but stare and pity its circumstance, want for it. In an act of defiance, it served as a mirror image of self-pity and reflected his face back to him.

“If I could be paid for depressing myself, I’d be rich.” The long, drawn-out sigh drew more attention than he wished. A mouthpiece of the of the soul made audible by lapse of constitution, as life decided to empty its spit valve. Was this a metaphysical representation of being “in between gigs”? Jazz, music of a whorehouse, and he lay naked and waiting. Vulnerable and desperate. Alone and afraid.

Drink, slightly bitter, much like life with little in the way of sucrose relief. Such emotional luxury is not affordable. The strong, hard bouquet of flavor washes over the tongue and scalds for good measure. What’s a little more pain? It was a joyless exercise after all.

Thriving city streets provided a showcase of unconscious effort, much as a river rapid moves without intervention. Small bubbles are the foam that separates the water from the head, and encased around the clusters of people moving as an ebb and flow of a tide. Unthinking. Uncaring. Unintentional. The walk wasn’t the release he needed.

Along the sidewalk, a panhandler sat in oblivion, a common thread with the stranger. He paid his respects with the drop of coins from his recent escapades at the coffeehouse. They were both impoverished: one of wealth and one of emotion. The only difference being one will see fewer results in begging for affection.

The door to his apartment gave way to a coffee-black square with wedges of light carved upon the floor. The living room displayed a lack of possessions through economy and desire. There wasn’t much of a point. A couch, a bit threadbare in places, was the mightiest of trophies the place had to offer, and was decidedly more welcoming than the flush of people in the streets.

Cigarettes, with their intentions clear, offered their services on an end table as one would hold out a dueling pistol. Several times he promised it wouldn’t end like this, but no bounty was to be had in avoiding the situation. A stick slid out of its pack and a barrel set in his mouth. Fire, propellant, and smoke arrived in due time as the bullet sped to the back of his throat. A slow suicide, but who wouldn’t have the same results sooner or later?

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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My City by the Bay (Chapter 2, Part 2 of 6)

Up-down-up-down-up-down. An urge to vomit grabbed Sig’s stomach as he stared at the water. Sea sickness was calling to him. “Oh, bucket… buck-ET… BUCK-ET!” Wildly twisting to Captain Fryer, he mimed for some sort of medical assistance.

“Off the stern, boy.” Fryer said without removing the nautical pipe from his mouth. Dots lined up on the bridge like birds on a telephone line. He heard a screech, and the Barracuda darted back to Old Town. That must have been the cause of all this commotion. He’ll make a note of it on his report.

*Herf* “Oh!” *hurbrle* “Oh, God!” *hooooool* “Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick!” Sig rested on the railing with his chest. This was worse than being hung over. “I need to get off this boat, Cap’n.” Closing his rheumy eyes, he tightened his face in vain to shake off the nausea and immediately recalled the time he made a mess on the Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair. Fumbling for his badge, Sig offered it to Fryer with a sour composure. He felt like a soaked shopping bag in the middle of a grocery store parking lot.

“City police, eh? Well, we’ll get you to your station. Before that happens, we’ll need to get your story on all this excitement. You mind?” Fryer’s face didn’t move from its original position since they first met.

“Eh, mind if I send it to you later? I can get back on my own all right. I need to do a few other things first.” No! No paperwork right now. He’d rather make a harmonica out of a cheese grater.

“I suppose,” Fryer said, “but don’t make me wait. Last time I played ball with you boys, it took two weeks to get a profile. I’m not a man to be kept waiting.”

“Yes! Yes. Oh, absolutely! You’ve got it, Cap’n.” Sig’s sickness eased with the glee of a temporary reprieve. The boat moored on the safer side of the Nagawatachumi, and Sig clambered out on to the docks. He was never very graceful, and often felt like the slow clown in a pie fight.

Bus Stop

Sig stood in a lonely puddle, with the rest of the riders clumped conspicuously to the left of him. He might as well be wet; there were storm clouds over him. Pantsed again, and it wasn’t even gym class! Damn gawkers. He plugged another cigarette in his mouth but instantly realized they were soaked, too. “Bah!” He launched the pack at the trash can and made a few of the other riders jump.

The silver box on wheels rolled up and opened its doors with an exasperated sigh. Banners of slick law firms and exotic vacations clung loosely to the sides like the hopes of their financiers. A squeaky slosh was heard ascending the stairs and Ralph Kramden was given his fare, and maybe some algae, for his service. Although this time Ralph was Bunny Washington and he was just as suspicious as anyone else on the bus. “Damn,” Bunny shook his head and muttered, “just when I thought I’ve seen it all. Some honkey has to come and test me.”

With a sluggish gait, Sig sat right beside a little old lady who recoiled from the moisture. As the bus resumed its course, he looked over to her and gave a Jack Nicholson smile. “There’s nothing like a good swim to make someone few brand new. Wouldn’t you say?” It wasn’t his best impression, but it was good enough for jazz.

It wasn’t luxurious, but it was home. The wet clothes quickly made a pile near the door, and he lumbered to the fridge. “Great! My car’s gone, and now my beer, too.” He slammed the door shut to antagonize his forgetfulness. Exhausted. Moments later, he was sprawled over his single bed. Before he passed out, he figured he’d go out and buy Star Trek bed sheets. If he were to be single like this, he might as well enjoy some of the small things in life.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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My City by the Bay (Chapter 2, Part 1 of 6)

Impact wasn’t the most pleasant. In fact, it was like hitting a concrete wall. As a sign of Sig’s patience with Chrissy, he was “rewarded” with a 5 point racing harness in his Camino. At that time in her life she obsessed with his safety. This was years before the fallout and a bitter one at that. “Get hit by a bus” was the last thing she said when she left him. She always knew how to translate her emotions into words so eloquently.  She probably would have a fit, if she knew it probably saved his life.

“Get out! Get out! Get out!” Sig screamed to himself, but he needed to calm down. A capsized car isn’t the best scenario to be in but it wasn’t like he had a choice. “I’m not dying like this!” The water was filling in the car in no time at all. He took a deep breath and unlocked the doors, hoping beyond hope he could still get the door open.  Fortune was smiling on him as the pressure wasn’t yet enough to seal it. Sig took another breath before he popped his belt. The action made him bathe in Nagawatachumi waters, a questionable source of water for all endeavors. Using the steering wheel as an anchor he pushed the door as hard as he could and slowly pulled himself out.

Disorientation is always a fun time. What is up is down, left is right, and he was desperate for some clarity. Noticing the direction the bubbles were taking, he felt a little better and went with the flow. A burning sensation in his chest told him he wanted more air. He clamped down and wriggled as quickly as he could to the surface. The murky river water brightened then broke, and Sig let out a gasp that would frighten a sea lion.

“Over there!” A voice called out from the patrol boat. “About time someone was on top of things. I’m certainly not.” Sig was huffing like fat kid in gym class. He should know; he was that kid. The boat pulled up alongside and offered him help out. “You’re lucky to be alive, son.” Captain Fryer called to him as the river police yanked him up over the starboard side. The grizzled, pepper-haired vet couldn’t muster a whole lot to say. After his years in the Navy, there wasn’t a whole lot that got him too excited about anything.

“It’s a shame.” Fryer muttered while lighting his pipe.

“What’s that?” Sig peered up from his towel, still a little out of sorts from the whole affair.

“It looked a damn fine car, too.”

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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My City by the Bay (Chapter 1, Part 3 of 3)

Sliding through all four lanes of Douglass Avenue, the El Camino drifted behind a moving truck. “Mah!” Sig spun the wheel to the left and fishtailed his lane change. The ‘Cuda came alive and began to mime the Camino down the road. Sounds of a bee hive gone mad echoed down the road.

“They’ve got the better ride, but do they know how to jam?” Sig spoke, as his 8-track looped to the beginning. A slight ping notified the permission of a dirty habit. The tip of his menthol was singed and a curl of smoke arrived on the scene. “If today’s the day, at least it won’t be these that are the death of me. That’ll show her.” By “her” he meant his estranged wife, Christine. Chrissy had a way of throwing insults like pizza dough. She had her own spin, and they’d stick when she wanted them to.

The Camino ducked and dodged down Douglass for another thirty seconds, before a sharp right gave him a way north. He jammed on the clutch and power shifted the 8-ball capped stick into fourth. The ‘Cuda’s hockey stop nearly checked a bum into a bench, but it recovered and made another dash to the fleeing car.

“He’s not that great with the goods. That’s a shame. I’d hate to see him get it dirty.” With that, Sig made a beeline to a fruit stand off to the right. The proprietor, torn between dodging and protecting his assets, decided to save his own skin by hopping on a pile of black trash bags behind him. With a quick flick of the wrist, The Camino juked left and only smacked the right-side mirror on the kiosk. As intended, the sprinting ‘Cuda couldn’t dodge the stand quick enough and plowed through a variety of melons and fruit.

“Dammit!” No-neck said. “I just made my last payment on this thing two months ago!”

The gap between the Camino and the ‘Cuda widened and Sig could not push the pedal hard enough. Jumping a few hills, Sig smacked his head. “Moof!” could be heard as the blur passed several pedestrians.

He finally hit the bridge and stood a chance of making it back into friendly territory. The ‘Cuda, once again, recovered and hit the straightaway. The Camino could not match the speed of the muscle car, and soon No-neck was bumping The Camino’s rear end.

“She’s not that kind of car!” Sig screamed as he did all he could to keep the car steady.

Just a few more seconds, and he would clear the crown of the bridge. His grip could crush steel and he wanted to puke that cheap beer he just had at Jack’s. Clenching his jaw, he held on and steadied the car for what seemed like hours.

“Steady. Steeeady. OK, half-way th— OH SHI!” Sig failed to see the traffic jam at the other end of the bridge. It was rush hour, and those lucky enough to live in North Wharf wanted to get out of Dodge. With this distraction, the ‘Cuda made a solid bump and the Camino was out of control. A slam to the right and slam to the left knocked the cigarette from his mouth, and the ‘Cuda went in for the kill. By some fluke, the last slap sent the Camino up and over the rails.

All Sig saw was blacktop, then blue and lots of it. It wasn’t a huge drop, maybe 15 feet, but it certainly was enough to drain the blood from his face. White foam soon enveloped the Camino, and the chase was over.

No-neck slammed on the breaks only to clear a bumper by three inches. Getting out, he went to check on his handiwork. A ring of suds marked where the car had made its surprise splash landing and a police tug was already preparing to survey the site. The river cops were strangely different than the regular heat, as they were more prone to do their job. Provided Sig could get out of the Camino, he would be able to find a route back to safety. No-neck slammed his fist on the steel tubing of the rail.

“He dead?” Tiny stuck his head out the car’s window like a dog.

“No, he ain’t dead.” Said No-neck flatly.

“Miss Redglove ain’t gonna be happy with us.” lamented Tiny.

“Really?! What makes you say that?” No-neck was building in irritation.

“Well, we didn’t get him or kill him. That’s bad. Ain’t it?”


© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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My City by the Bay (Chapter 1, Part 2 of 3)

Almost tripping over the barstool, Sig leapt up and bolted for the back. To his advantage, there was enough excitement to cause confusion in the room. Mr. No-neck grabbed him, and Sig shifted his weight onto the guy’s shoe. There’s nothing like a searing pain in the foot to get someone off your case.

With a loud slap, the door to the alley opened up. Blinding sunlight and stench. It wouldn’t be Old Town without its aroma. So familiar… so repulsive. Too bad he didn’t have time to vomit.

The dumpster was a decent enough refuge to hide behind for the moment. Better yet, it was the place he decided to hide some supplies before he went it. Someone had one too many drinks; the packaging was covered in puke. There’s a small amount of bravery required in handling puke-soaked items, but it’s better than ending up dead. A plastic bag produced a Ruger SP101 and a paper bag with a change of clothes. There was no time to lose. He had to work fast.

He couldn’t deny it now. There was something up at this place, and it was pretty serious. If Sig could get back to the station, maybe he could start cross referencing disappearances within a certain radius of the place and find something in common. He had to find out why they were being taken. That’s part of the hunt, but first: the getaway.

Immediately after he slipped on the change of clothes, the backdoor of the bar swung open. No-neck and a friend came out to play. “Fine,” Sig thought, “I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later.” Crouched behind the dumpster, he waited. The figures peered around the alley for a starting point. Sig strained to hear any jabber from two goons who didn’t know any better.

“Why are we after this guy, again?” bumbled a tall, brutish man with a several day-old beard.

“He was harassin’ Harley, and snooping around ’bout the bodies.” Mr. No-neck had that quintessential Jersey accent. Sig winced about the cliché before continuing to listen. “We need to find out what he knows, and probably show our unwanted visitor the way to Chestnut Grove.” Chestnut Grove was the name of the dilapidated cemetery in the heart of the ghetto. Cops rarely poked around there, because of the high probability of finding the recently deceased. Less paperwork that way.

“Miss Redglove never liked unwanted company.” The lug childishly pondered aloud as he pulled back a stack of pallets, only to discover a two-inch gap made a poor hiding spot. He was a regular Baby Huey. They probably have some apt nickname for him, like “Tiny.”

No-neck was a few steps ahead of him on the intelligence scale. He had already peered into the dumpster Sig was behind and wiping his hands clean on a kerchief. The congealing food grease and liquor remnants apparently took up temporary residence on his palms. The dumpster smelled beyond foul and he was glad it was suspect free. With a little relief, he decided to scope out a nook in the building beside the bar. It was the backstage exit area for the Hips and Jiggles ‘Gentleman’s’ Club. Those walls had some stories to tell.

Knowing when to spot opportunity, Sig pistol whipped No-neck without much more thought. He didn’t want to shoot these two, as that was only used as a last resort. Less paperwork that way. The slight grunt and subsequent thud was enough to wrench Tiny out of his meditation upon an olive loaf sandwich. Spinning around, Tiny found himself with a coldcocked partner and a rather high-strung man in a pink hoodie and a snub nose.

“Whaddyado to him? Don’t make me angry, mister.” For all Tiny wasn’t, he was at least polite.

“I wouldn’t try anything smart, pal.” Sig was sure that he didn’t have to worry about that, but felt the need to say it anyway.

“You don’t wanna mess with us. We’ve gots a good thing going. I get paid and my Daisy likes the flowers I get for her.” Sig could only imagine they were from funeral arrangements.

“Listen, I’m not looking for an economics debate,” as he would probably end up using the pistol on himself, “but what I am looking for is you to step aside. Nice and easy.”

The big man’s eyes darkened. He knew failure would be bad, or at least bad in the sense he had to listen to Miss Redglove scream at him again. He didn’t like it when she screamed at him. Throwing things at him were fine, but screaming, no. She was pretty (stunning, as it turns out), and it made him very sad when pretty girls were mad at him.

“I can’t let you do that, buddy. Miss Redglove likes me to do my job.” Tiny shook his head as if he were agreeing with her in a previous conversation.

“Oh, is that who that is?” Sig said, spying over Tiny’s ham-fisted shoulder.

As surefire as basic instinct, the meat head turned to look down the street. He saw no one there. Then he saw black with a white starburst.

“MMMMMMMOTHERFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFT,” yelled Sig, as he would have been better off clocking masonry. Clutching his right fist underneath the .38, he dove in a gap between Tiny and the wall.

When the brute finally sorted out all the pieces, he roared, “hey, that was cheap!” Sig didn’t stop to apologize. He was out on the street and ducking into his El Camino. With a plaintive sputter and hack, the car screeched onto the road and headed to the St. Mary’s Street bridge. That was the best way to get on the “right” side of the river. Fortunately, driving south-side of the Natawagachumi required very little adherence to traffic and safety laws.

Tiny and No-neck were making their way to a 1974 Vitamin-C Barracuda as best they could, shaking off their latest surprises. Their engine started. It wasn’t over yet.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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My City by the Bay (Chapter 1, Part 1 of 3)

Old Town

The hustle of traffic and the bustle of pedestrians made a clamor on Fillmore Street. Sidewalk vendors bartered with customers, dogs were barking, couples arguing, and rain water made its hasty exit down storm drains. It was typical bedlam in the slum neighborhood known as Old Town. Built in the late 19th century, it was now a neglected wreck of a site. Buildings often lost bricks off the top of their facades, and was received with near apathy by the typical pedestrian.

Neglected and worn out, the residents were in a drifting state. The crime rate was naturally high, but there weren’t exactly any welcome wagons elsewhere. Like many American cities, Old Town was the hand-me-down from the well-to-do long ago, a cast off by the boon of successful businessmen. These stately structures spoke of craft and care few artisans today would ever desire. In recent times, they told tales of neglect and abuse. The frustrations of a population trapped under the thumb of chance, personal mistake, and indifferent leadership were acted out in broken windows, graffiti, and arson. It was like a pet shredding a comfy shirt.

Sig (Sigmund only to his mother) played with his lighter, waiting for something to happen. One-Eyed Jack’s was known to be a problem child among the police, but apparently there was more to it. Spinning the lighter, he took a drink of a flat domestic pilsner. There was wind of suspicious activity, people disappearing to be more precise, going on in the area. He needed to check it out for himself. Being early afternoon, it wasn’t very packed and fairly dull. Fortunately, he brought a book with him. That often caught him flack, but his apartment was a mess and he couldn’t drink a pint at the library. Naturally, he was more at home in a bar.

He started to ply his mind to the pages. It takes a few moments to orient one’s mind to a story, and get in a groove. The characters of the book came back to the forefront and the movie he created started to roll. This wasn’t to last, as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. It was the bartender nodding to someone. A corpulent man with a comb over, the color of his right eye would suggest that he owned the place. He continued to clean beer mugs with a questionably dirty rag, and not pay any attention to Sig.

“What’cha readin’?” a voice nothing less than nails on a chalkboard inquired behind him. It was a bar fly. Squatty, with a bit of a muffin top, she smiled like used car salesmen. She looked quite young and impressionable, but looks can always be deceiving. The hair dangerously close to being burnt by bleach and her clothes obviously the cream of the thrift shop spoke too much. They were loud, too, but Sig knew this was his foot in the door. She was the “bait” for whatever was going on around there.

Catcher in the Rye,” Sig replied, “I’m going through the curriculum I never got to read in high school.” He thumbed the pages of the used paperback. Some English student at a uni obviously needed some beer money, and decided to trade it in at his favorite coffee house. A dollar a piece for something so beneficial. If adjusted for inflation, he could only imagine the amount of chatter it would have caused 150 years ago. Coming back to Earth, he knew it was important to look drawn in to the lady.

“Oh, yeah!” She was obviously a bad actor, because there was something else on her mind. “I read that in high school.” Apparently acknowledging the reading level of the book isn’t enough to prevent from people restating it. Sig felt like sighing. He was fighting his ego, and unlucky for him, it was a heavyweight. The temptation was too much.

“So, how much do they pay you?” He said not looking up from his drink.

“I ought to throw this in your face!” She spat after an uneasy pause.

“Not like that,” he looked at the grimy bottles of hooch lining the mirrored shelves. “How much do they pay you for the guys?”

“What guys?!” She was genuinely stupefied. The woman wasn’t the keenest mind in the think tank.

“Really?” Sig thought it high time to throw down some serious cards, if he were to get anywhere with this conversation.

“That hairpin,” he said as his pupils rolled to the upper-right corners of his eyes, “costs $500 uptown and that sapphire ring is easily a grand.”

“Yeah, so?”

“When would a woman on this side of the river ever sport such merch?”

She screwed up her face as he flatly continued, “she sports them, when she knows she has protection.” His face slowly pivoted to meet hers, squarely.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Her indignation forced her to fold her arms quickly and neatly under her breasts.

“Really?” He took his largest gamble yet. “You mean to tell me some bar fly doesn’t know about people disappearing in her own haunt? You make a poor liar, ma’am.”

“The name’s Harley. I may be a terrible liar, but that doesn’t mean I have nothin’ to do with nothin’.”

“Oh, yeah?” He chuckled, because the biggest gamble was in the bag. “Who’s the goon in the corner that has been eyeballin’ us ever since you spoke to me? He’s the flagman. Isn’t he? You get your clients drunk. Lead them out to the alleyway, and Mr. No-neck over there calls in his crew. You get money and protection in return.”

Her face sat concreted in disgust. Who did this chippy, fat jerk think he was coming in on her turf and pulling the sheets right off the bed. Shewasfurious.

“Is that all they give in return?” He wanted to throw that dart in there, before it was time to boogie. The sting was satisfying.

“YOU ASSHOLE!” She screamed, and the green light came on in his head. Time to fly.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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