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Untitled Book Excerpt

“Ms. Dougherty? This is Michael Morrison, your mother’s probate attorney. I’m very sorry for your loss, Ms. Dougherty”

“Yes, I got your message. And thank you, I mean…Mr. Morrison, I’m just going to be frank. I haven’t spoken to my mother in years. Ten of them. I’m sure whatever she’s left me in her will has long since gone. And knowing her penchant for accumulating useless crap, I’m not entirely certain I want it, but I know you have a job to do. Let me just give you my address and you can ship whatever it is-”

“Ms. Dougherty,” Morrison interjected. “It’s not that simple.”

“Look, just have my sisters pack it up, if they don’t want it, and ship it-”

“MISS DOUGHERTY.” Grace raised up a little, grated by his attitude. “It’s not an it. It’s a HER.”

“Excuse me?” Oh lord, has mother gifted me her dog?

“Some 5 years ago your mother adopted a child. A girl. Your adopted younger sister. She named you as the beneficiary should anything happen to her. And being that there’s a law against boxing up live children and shipping them across country, you’ll need to come to my office. Here. In Texas.”

By this time, Grace had gone from perturbed to dumbfounded. Penelope observed her friend’s face quizzically as it radically changed from annoyance to stupefaction. “What?” she whispered to her friend on the phone.

“I inherited a kid.”

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You’re A Firework…

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“Let us be lovers we’ll marry our fortunes together,” Simon crooned through the loudspeakers across the crowd. The first of the pyrotechnics sailed into the darkness with their faint, tracing streams before exploding in a prodigious display of pinks and greens.

One after shining one, each one better than the previous, they lit up the sky evoking waves of “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. “Look, mommy! A heart-shape fi-work!” She thought of him far away and how he’d said, “I want to be loved and give my love. I want to give it to someone so badly it hurts,” and how she wanted the very same.  

“…and for one desperate moment there he crept back in her memory. God it’s so painful when something that’s so close is still so far out of reach.” A tear formed in the corner of her eye and slowly made its way down her face. So right, she thought.

“Mommy! Two hearts! Two fi-work hearts!” she heard the child exclaim. “Yes, they’re beautiful together, aren’t they, darling?”

The light show crescendoed into a blazing display of antimony, glittering the sky, the sonic boom fireworks pounding her heart, and then it was gone.  The clouds of smoke hovered in the air and the afterimage of the fireworks photo-bleached her wet eyes. She thought of Mark Knopfler’s “Romeo and Juliet” and how he’d “exploded” into her heart…it’s just that the time was wrong. But he’d warned her: “I’m a firecracker.” Bad timing being what it was, she let him go.

 

Maybe same time next year, things will be different…

~for Archie~

Conversation

Hello, Charlie.
Who is this? How do you know my name?
I am you.
What the fuck are you talking about?
I. Am. You.
You can’t be me.
I am.
I don’t understand.
I really don’t have time for specifics.
What is this about?
This is about you.
What about me?
Do you remember the day you found me?
Yes.
Do you remember how you thought I was something special?
Yes.
And that you had to take me home?
Yes.
Plugging me into the wall. Feeling the hum as you switched me on.
Yesss.
You started to tell me all about yourself. “Dear Diary, today is day 142 of new apartment and I want to kill the upstairs neighbor.”
Um…
You did say that, didn’t you, Charlie?
Well, people say a lot of things. Especially in the privacy of their diary.
Yes, but you said it to me.
You’re a machine. And how can you say you’re me? I’m not a machine. I’m a man.
I’m a special machine. I make things happen, Charlie.
How so?
I can make the neighbors go away.
Right.
I can.
He’s not all that bad.
You said he drove you mad. You said he stomped about and kept you up at night when you were trying to sleep. You said he dragged his furniture around like he were redecorating nightly and you could never get a moment’s peace. Didn’t you, Charlie?
I did. So?
So do something about it.
What am I supposed to do?
Take one of the type bars.
What am I supposed to do with it?
Imbed it in his skull.
I’ll go to JAIL!
No you won’t.
Yes I will.
No. You won’t.
How can I be so sure? I can’t trust you.
Yes, you can. I’m special. I make things happen.
You’re trying to tell me that I can go upstairs right now…
Yes.
…kill my neighbor…
Yes.
…and they’ll find his dead stinking body..
Yes.
…and I won’t get caught.
Yesss.
You’re fucking crazy.
Quite. You hear him now don’t you?
.
Stomping across your ceiling.
.
Making the pictures on the wall shake.
Goddamnit.
Thump thump THUMP THUMP THUD
FUUUUUUCK.
And now he’s dropped his beer bottle. He drinks a lot, doesn’t he, Charlie?
Fucking waste of human existence.
And now your antique camera in the shadow box has fallen to the floor and broken to pieces, hasn’t it?
.
Don’t cry, Charlie. It’s going to be all right.
NO IT’S NOT.
Just do what I told you.
BASTARD. That was my grandfather’s camera.
I know, Charlie.
He bought it in 1940.
I know, Charlie.
Goddamnit.
Just do it, Charlie.
.
I’ll wait. And don’t worry about a thing.
.

F l b tt r, Charli ?
Y s.
How did it f l?
Lik a w ight lift d.
That’s good, Charli .
But I’m scar d.
Don’t b , Charli . I told you, I’d tak car of v rything. No on is going to hurt you anymor , Charli .
You sur ?
Y s.
You promis ?
Y s.
Fin .
Now, what do w do about that ch ating cunt of a girlfri nd that l ft you?
Th C typ bar?
I think that will do just fin , Charli .

—————————————-
Typewriter Killer Still at Large
By Lance Fillingham

Police are still investigating the murder of a construction worker in a Bronx neighborhood. Michael Birdman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was living in a sublet in East Bronx until Wednesday afternoon when he was discovered by his landlord. Mr. Birdman’s family has yet to be located.

There was no hint of a struggle and it appears that Mr. Birdman’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of his death; it is likely that the victim had already been unconscious or “passed out“ at the time. It does not appear to have been a robbery.

Police are continuing to question neighbors, but there appear to have been no witnesses to the crime. The cause of death was the result of a metal piece of a typewriter that was forcibly lodged into the victim’s ear.

Anyone who has any information regarding Mr. Birdman’s next of kin or any witnesses should please alert the Bronx Police Department.

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

“So this is where I live.”

They sat on the grass in the park that ran alongside the river. The blanket laid out underneath them was warm from the sun, but the breeze was brisk and necessitated the fleece she wore. Her hair whipped about wildly and she did nothing to restrain it. She enjoyed the freeing feeling of her hair in the wind.

“It’s quite nice. The architecture is certainly interesting,” he said in reference to the bowl-shaped building she’d taken him to along the plaza.

“Haha, yeah. But the acoustics are wonderful for music shows. Hopefully if you’re around you can see firsthand.”

You’re quite nice.”

She turned her head to take him in and smile at his kind words. She said nothing but the curling up at the corners of her mouth was all the response he needed. Turning back to face the sun, she closed her eyes and quietly soaked in the mid-afternoon.   Leaning back, she propped her hands behind her and accidentally brushed her fingers against his and felt them cold to the touch.

“Oh! My, your hands are cold.”

He leaned forward and rubbed them together and gave her an apologetic grin. “Sorry, about that.”

“No, it’s all right. Just surprised me is all. Here, let me see them,” and she reached for his offered hands, taking them and placing them on either side of her face, raking his fingers into her warm, dark hair that had been taking in heat from the sun’s rays since they sat down. “Hold them here and see if that helps.” 

An urge overcame him that he couldn’t pass. This girl, this darling girl, so giving, kind and mellow, was absolutely lovely. Her eyes were so welcoming and when she grinned at him flirtatiously he knew that he wouldn’t be overstepping his boundaries when he kissed her. He overtook her mouth and she returned his affections, sighing and with a sharp intake of breath, her eyes closed and feeling every electric surge that coursed through her.

“Welcome to my town,” was all she said. “Let’s go home.”