One December Morning in Stuyvesant Square Park

suyvesant

Snow in Stuyvesant Square Park, Second Avenue & East 17th St, Manhattan

The three teens, two boys and a girl, all ran out of The Halal Guys restaurant across 2nd Avenue near the East Village. “Anyone chasing us?” 14-year-old Brenda asked her brother Brad, pushing her red MAGA cap up over long blond locks.

“No, don’t see anyone.” Their leader, 15-year-old Ken, took them up toward Stuyvesant Square Park. It was still early morning and they’d decided to harass the old Muslim couple who’d gone into Halal for breakfast.

“Didn’t think that white guy would defend those Arabs,” Ken mused.

The trio stopped as they saw three black teens running up behind them. The oldest, a girl, said the two guys with her, “We got away.”

“Yeah,” said the youngest guy. “Who knew that black dude would defend that old white couple we were messing with.” On a nearby park bench, the mysterious Never Man was having a little fun with justice.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google Maps image/location as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Manhattan Island (yes, it is an island). Manhattan has an impossibly rich history, so choosing one topic upon which to base my wee tale seemed an enormous task. I decided to look up the local news and found an article titled Teens Wanted in Village attack on man defending elderly couple. Apparently three African-American youth between the ages of 14 and 17 were harassing an elderly couple in a McDonalds in the East Village. A 44-year-old man came to their defense, and the trio punched and kicked him before fleeing. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously hurt.

Since this is Black History Month, I wasn’t sure how well this story would be received (even though the news story is factual), so I decided to illustrate that anyone is capable of prejudice and cruelty, regardless of race, social perspective, or politics. I resurrected Jonathan Cyfer, the “Never Man,” who has the ability to alter time and space for purposes of justice, though 150 words hardly does him or his activities “justice.”

Oh, the Halal Guys is a real restaurant just outside the East Village (I couldn’t find the McDonalds on Google Maps), and if I ever visit Manhattan, I’d love to eat there.

To read more stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

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Mona Lisa Smile

monalisa

Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie and taken from Reddit.com – No other photo credit listed

Today was the day that Stefan Günther determined he would finally speak to his own personal Mona Lisa. Everyday for weeks, she sat across from him on the S-train as he made his evening commute home to his one-bedroom apartment outside of Wiesbaden and she went to who knew where.

“Hi. My name’s Stefan.” The twenty-seven-year-old accountant leaned into the aisle hoping she could hear him over the train noise and all the other conversations around them. “Since you smile at me every time I see you, I thought I should introduce myself.”

“Ludovica. Pleased to meet you, Stefan.” Her accent was unmistakably Italian and the same, subtle smile she had been wearing throughout all of their silent encounters never left her lips.

“Pleased to meet you.” He took her hand and remembered not to apply too much pressure. Her skin was warm and smooth, and her scent was slightly earthy speaking, he hoped, of seduction.

“I don’t mean to be too forward, Ludovica, but why do you always smile at me?”

“I like to smile. Besides, you remind me of someone.”

He chuckled nervously. “Anyone in particular.”

“If I like you, I might tell you someday.”

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Are You Sure You Want to be a Cop?

wright vehicle

Vehicle of a woman charged with assault with a dangerous weapon – attributed to Boston station WBZ-TV.

“But why are you arresting me? He’s the racist!” Melissa Becker was struggling and putting up quite a commotion as Police Officer Irene Atkins pressed her against the side of her car and handcuffed her.

“Need any assistance?” Atkins’s partner of four years Mike Shelton paused while taking a statement from the victim, 37-year-old Preston West.

“No, I’ve got her.” If it had been any other male officer, Irene would have taken the question as condescending, but Mike was one of the few in the Department who cared more about doing the job right than whether a cop was a man or a woman.

“Watch your head.” She eased the 25-year-old Becker into the backseat of the patrol car, holding the top of her head so she wouldn’t bump it as she entered. She’d already read the younger woman her rights and wanted to get this circus over with as fast as possible.

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What the Gull Saw

bird

Photo Credit: MorgueFile April 62433e902

The news from Florence said, “After a three-year-long restoration, Renaissance master Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection can once again be admired in its original glory.”

Yes, it had taken that long for the painting to be restored, but at the same time, it was also being copied. What was being admired at the civic museum in Sansepolcro, the little Tuscan down where the artist was born in the early 15th century, was a fake.

A private collector had paid a fortune, though not what the actual painting would be worth on the open market, to have the restorer make the switch. For him, it was worth every penny.

Now, the actual painting of the resurrection of Christ was on its way to the collector’s hidden vault on his island in the Caribbean. The only witness to the crime was a lone gull who had watched the true article being loaded into a moving van. Of course, the little bird brain would never talk.

I wrote this for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2018: Week #21. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 162.

The town reminded me of Florence, Italy, so I looked up some local English language news articles and came across Piero della Francesca’s Resurrection restored published last March in the Florence Daily News. It seemed like a good setting for an art theft.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz. This link up still needs a lot of love, so please consider writing your own response to the prompt.

Thanks.

Raising Lazarus: A Book Review

lazarus

Raising Lazarus by Aidan Reid

I just finished reading Aidan Reid’s novel Raising Lazarus and I must say I am impressed. I’ve read other works of his including “Sigil”, “Pathfinders”, and his short story “Spectrum”, and I think “Raising Lazarus” is his best authoring effort to date.

There will probably be a few “spoilers” in my review, so if you don’t want important plot points revealed ahead of reading “Lazarus,” stop reading this review now.

The novel follows college student Molly Walker, who, as part of writing her University thesis, interviews an incarcerated male prostitute named Lazarus. After he is released, she continues to be fascinated by him and throughout the first half of the novel, they casually pursue each other, with Lazarus slowly letting Molly into his world.

The novel moves back and forth between the present and seven years ago when Lazarus was a refuge in Syria being harbored by a Catholic Priest, giving the reader the opportunity to compare “past” Lazarus with who he presents himself as today.

Eventually, Lazarus reveals that he believes he is the Biblical Lazarus, the man who was resurrected by Christ after being dead and entombed for over three days.

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Diminished: The Expanded Story

grasshopper

© @any1mark66

Sean McNeal adjusted the field intensity setting on his virtual console by another two degrees. “That should do it,” he muttered absent-mindedly.

The thirty-eight year old research physicist had been working in his small home lab for the past week, but the problem he was trying to solve had been plaguing him ever since he was a child and his Dad had shown him that old movie “Fantastic Voyage.” Ever since then, he had been fascinated by the idea of shrinking objects and people down to a tiny size.

The problem was Planck’s constant, which is why people can’t really shrink like Ant-Man. Fortunately, Sean found a way around that pesky dilemma.

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Burning Bridges

 

iowa city fire

© J Hardy Carroll

Devon had been lucky to get away before the police came. The bounty hunter killed or maimed twelve heavily armed men when she escaped. He got away with a broken arm.

Time to erase his tracks both in Chicago and here in Iowa City. It would look like an accidental oven fire. All records connecting him to the human trafficking ring would be ashes and he would be long gone by the time firefighters put out the blaze. He’d saved enough in offshore accounts to start over. The bounty hunter did him a favor when she took out the boss.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wissoff-Fields flash fiction writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is exactly 100.

This reads as a complete story but is also part of the Mikiko Jahn saga which is growing by leaps and bounds. The events in today’s tale take place shortly after Murder at 900 North Michigan (written also for one of Rochelle’s prompts) and both tales are a bit of foreshadowing of their expanded versions.

I noticed one of the fire trucks in the photo had a sign saying “Iowa City Fire Department” and when I looked up recent news articles about fires in Iowa City, I came up with an article published on the 13th titled Fire causes $20,000 in damage to Iowa City apartment. I also discovered that it’s just over 220 miles from Chicago to Iowa City, so a three-and-a-half hour drive wouldn’t be out of the question for someone escaping a “bounty hunter” who had just busted the major crime ring he had been working for.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Halloween Bandits

fake heads

© J Hardy Carroll

On Tuesday, October 31st at 11:57 a.m., Batman, the Joker, and Harley Quinn entered Gordon’s Community Bank on the corner of Elm and Broadway. Bank employees had been seeing “the cosplay crowd” filtering in and out all morning long and it was pretty amusing. That is until the Joker handed the teller a note and produced a handgun.

Outside, Robin had disabled the silent alarm to the police while Catwoman waited in the getaway van.

Less than two hours later, Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, and Daphne pulled the same job at the Second National Bank on River Drive with Fred disabling the alarms and Velma driving the vehicle.

At a minute until three, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and She Hulk hit a Curio Shop on Franklin. It didn’t have a silent alarm so Hawkeye kept watch while Black Widow sat in the driver’s seat.

“What the hell did you take these stupid little heads for, Jen? Cash. Only cash, remember?” They were resting back at the hideout.

scooby doo gang

© 1969 – “Scooby Doo, Where Are You!”

“Sue me, Matty. I like ’em, okay?”

“Okay, profitable haul. It’ll set us up for the year.”

“Right, Selena.” Pete was still counting his share. “Next year, the Halloween Bandits strike another city at random.”

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge of October 29th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I had an idea for what I wanted to write even before seeing the prompt, so I had to work the image into my story. I’d read some Sunday comic strip earlier that made me think how easy it would be to walk into a bank on Halloween in disguise when any other day of the year, the staff would immediately call the police. I also thought it would be interesting to have this gang commit their crimes only on Halloween and in a different city picked at random each year.

Of course, they’d have to steal enough to support themselves for the coming year, but if they weren’t greedy, that would probably work. I very, very loosely based my “Halloween Bandits” on various television and animated cartoon versions of the Royal Flush Gang.

Oh, Jen is named after Jennifer Walters, the alter ego of the She Hulk. Matty is for Matt Murdock, Daredevil. Selena is named for Selena Kyle, Catwoman, and Pete is for Peter Parker, the secret identity of Spider-Man. The dialogue didn’t require all five gang members and besides, I hit the 200 word limit.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Missing

kayaks and sea

© TJ Paris

Their equipment sat quietly on the beach next to a placid sea. There was no sign of danger, no storm clouds, no menacing fog, nothing to say that Brad’s and Cheryl’s disappearance was the result of foul play or misadventure.

The two kayaks, life jackets, and oars were left abandoned when they should have been the fruition of a vacation they’d planned together for years.

Carolina Beach Detective Philip Lewis was baffled. How the hell did the Conklins just vanish?

“I don’t get it, Lewis. Broad daylight. Calm seas. No signs of struggle. What happened here?”

“Who knows, Davis. Alien abduction maybe?”

Junior Detective Estella Davis blurt out a short laugh. “I wouldn’t put that in a police report. What now?”

“Do our due diligence. Maybe someone saw something. Assign some uniforms to canvas the area and start asking questions.”

By nightfall, Brad and Cheryl Conklin were thousands of miles away traveling separately under different identities. The money Cheryl embezzled would let them live like royalty when they met again in Belize.

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the week of 8-01-2017 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to write a piece of flash fiction based on the photo prompt above of between 100 and 175 words, with 150 being the ideal. My word count is 172.

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

For the Love of Marilag

fort san pedro drive in

Fort San Pedro Drive In, taken from their Facebook page.

He sat eating his Ang Chicken Inasal and sipping a Red Horse while watching “The Chosen Band’s” female lead singer. Benjie didn’t really care for their music, but Marilag was beautiful. He came every Tuesday night to see her while everyone else was listening to what they were playing. He knew when the band arrived, how long it took them to set up, the amount of time each performance lasted, and especially when Marilag took her breaks.

Benjie finished eating and opened his backpack. The gag, rope, chloroform, and everything else he needed for the kidnapping was there. Tonight, Marilag would he his.

Written for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. This week, we are taken to Cebu City in the Phillipines via Google maps and particularly to the Fort San Pedro Drive In. The idea is to use the prompt to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is a modest 103.

I looked up the drive in and found its Facebook page which is where I got my photo prompt and the rest of the information I needed to write my wee tale. The idea to have Benjie kidnap Marilag (which means “beautiful” in Tagalog) came from a plot point in the 2016 film Deadpool.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.