The Devil’s Day

calm

© Sue Vincent

Everybody calls me the Devil, and right now I wish I really was, because the only way I’m gonna save little 10-year-old Gracie Budd’s life is to stop a real Devil. Hard to believe, it being so quiet, green, and peaceful out here, but I ain’t got much time if I’m going to stop Albert Fish from killing and eating poor Gracie.

How the hell did I get myself in this mess? No, I didn’t do it. Maybe God did it. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m a 16-year-old printer’s devil named Timothy Patrick Quinn, and on April 13, 1928, I started hearing radio messages from the future.

One reason they call me “devil” is because that’s my job. I’m a printer’s devil, an apprentice in the print shop under old Shamus MacPherson at the New York Post. Been doing that since I was 12, mainly mixing tubs of ink and sorting metal type in the hellbox, putting those fit to be used again back in the job case, and melting down the broken bits.

Our foreman, Grady Owens brought a brand new All American Mohawk Lyric S50 radio right into the shop, saying it would help us boys pass the time a bit easier. Had to turn the sound way up on account of all the noise from the printers, but we got to hear berries tunes like “Cow Cow Blues,” “A Gay Caballero,” and “Sonny Boy.”

I could even hear it on the dock while having a smoke with the loaders and the colored Joes who swept up the place. Even the old truckers respected me on account of my bouts at Clancy’s Boxing Gym. I’ve always been big for my age, and ever since I was a tyke, I liked mixing it up with the guys.

I get over to Clancy’s whenever I can. He says I’ve got potential, says I fight hard enough to knock out the Devil himself, which is another reason they call me that. Turns out, though, I’d have to earn that name in a different way, even if it damn near killed me.

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The River’s Secrets

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Rabelos in the Duoro river, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal – Credit: Diego Delso, published under license CC BY-SA

The wine is transported from the valley to Porto in tanker trucks these days, but Rodrigo still made his way down the Duoro on his father’s Rabelo boat loaded with barrels. Now that the tourists were gone, he felt a sense of peace. It was a quiet morning on the water. He lit a cigar, what his wife had called a “stinking weed,” and enjoyed its pleasing aroma.

“Ah, Matilde. You always failed to understand the simple pleasures of life. I am not an ambitious man nor do I desire to become one.”

He scanned the water fore and aft. The shoreline was empty. No one would see that he was about to lose one precious barrel, which would mysteriously sink to the bottom rather than float.

Matilde left him for another man, or so he would say. No one would find her body. The Duoro has many secrets.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw 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 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Duoro Valley, Portugal. As usual, I did a bunch of Googling, and focused on the history of the Douro Valley and river and Rabelo boats.

I feel like I’m cheating slightly because I’ve written similar stories in the past, but that’s where the muse took me this morning. Oh, the maximum depth of the Duoro river is 131 feet, and let’s say that’s where my protagonist decides to lose his one special barrel.

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

Death Unmasked: A Book Review

death unmasked

Cover image of the novel “Death Unmasked” by Rick Sulik

Disclosure: Almost three months ago, author Rick Sulik asked me to review his 2015 novel Death Unmasked. We had an email discussion and I agreed with the understanding that I would provide an honest review, no holds barred. I subsequently received a kindle edition of the book and finished reading it yesterday.

You should probably know two things about Rick before we get started. He’s a retired police officer, having served on both the Houston and Pasadena (Texas) police forces. He believes in reincarnation. Both of these figure prominently in this novel.

Imagine that you’re a homicide detective in Houston and nearing retirement. You’re a loner, both on the force and in your personal life, and yet there is this longing in you for connection.

Then, little by little, you begin to recall experiences from a past life, your previous name, your wife, how you died, and how she was raped and murdered.

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The Haunted Detective

san francisco 1947

San Francisco Chronicle Archives – From the back of the photo: “F Car goes through – The two months long blockade of the Fourth and Market intersection ended completely yesterday morning as F cars moved from Fourth Street across Market into Stockton. While police officers experimented with the new traffic pattern at the complex five-way intersection, workmen rolled down the last of the fill in the project. City officials hope the revised schedule will end one or more downtown bottlenecks.” September 9, 1947.

“I keep telling you this, Marguerite, but you never listen. You are just as breakable as the next person, maybe more so given your line of work.”

Private Investigator Margurite Carter was getting sick and tired of Cohen’s lectures. “Do I tell you how to stitch a cut, Sawbones? Just do your job. I haven’t got all night for you to fix up my broken wing. And what’s that crack about me being more breakable? I’m as tough as any guy in the business.”

“Tell that to your broken arm. It’s a good thing you’re left-handed. From the way you described the thug who jumped you, he must have had a hundred pounds on you. By the way, the name’s Dr. Cohen or Joel, not Sawbones.” The fatherly doctor tightened the binding a little too much on his thirty-year-old mouthy patient just to make his point.

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What’s So Scary About Dexter Brock?

glove

Image credit Matt Seymour via Unsplash

“Oh, there it is.”

Robin looked up from her seat on the bench to see a familiar face, but didn’t have a name to attach to it.

“What?”

“My glove. Thought I’d lost it.”

He could have been as old as her Grandpa, but he was just the guy who took care of the grounds around the high school.

“Oh. Okay.” She reached over to pick up the brown, leather glove.

“I’ve got it.” He sounded nervous or maybe mad.

“Hey, I was just handing it to you.” Now she felt insulted. Who did he think he was, anyway? She was just trying to be nice.

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Buster’s Mystery

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MorgueFile 1449286229de9o8

Buster slipped his head out of the partly open library doors when he heard the front door open. Maybe the Man had finally come home. The automations regularly refilled his food and water bowls and cleaned the litter box, but he missed the Man’s warm lap, his soft words, and the touch of his hands on the cat’s fur.

“Buster.”

It called his name but it wasn’t the Man. In fact it wasn’t a man at all. It was one of the Man’s machines but this one walked on legs like the Man.

“Ah, there you are.” Buster cowered and then hissed. The man-machine squatted down and its almost man voice sounded kind. “I won’t hurt you. I’ve come to take care of you.”

Before Buster could run, the man-machine moved faster than even he could and scooped him up. The cat loudly protested until the fingers of the man-machine found the spot on his tummy where he loved to be rubbed.

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Model NS4 robot from the 2004 film “I, Robot.”

“There, there, Buster. It will be okay. I’m sorry Dr. Lanning won’t be coming home anymore but we’ve got a mystery to solve. You, me, and Detective Baley must find out who murdered Alfred Lanning.”

I wrote this for the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner for 2018: Week #11. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire the authoring of a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 197.

A cat? You want me to write a story about a cat? I don’t do cute cat videos.

Okay, I’ll make this work.

Unfortunately, the first thing that popped into my head was the 2004 film I, Robot starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, and James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning.

In one scene, Detective Del Spooner (Smith) goes to Lanning’s house looking for clues as to Lanning’s death and in the process, he finds Lanning’s cat.

So I adapted the scene to this challenge using elements of the film and Isaac Asimov’s first “robots” detective novel The Caves of Steel. Technically, the events in that novel occurred well after Lanning’s death in the Asimov stories, but this is fiction after all.

The human detective in “Steel” is Elijah Baley and his humanoid robot partner is R. Daneel Olivaw (The “R” in his name indicates he’s a robot). In my story, I imagined Olivaw to appear completely robotic, something like the NS4 models in the 2004 movie (see above).

To read other stories based on the prompt or to post your own (please), go to InLinkz.com.

Mother, What Have You Done?

evelyn dick

Evelyn Dick – Bettmann/Getty

Evelyn Dick was born October 13, 1920 in Beamsville, Ontario to Donald and Alexandra MacLean. She was arrested for murder after local children in Hamilton, Ontario found the torso of her missing estranged husband, John Dick. His head and limbs had been sawn from his body and—as later evidence revealed—were disposed of in the furnace of her home at 32 Carrick Avenue.

She was defended in her first murder trial in 1946 by J.J. Sullivan, convicted and sentenced to hang. Lawyer J.J. Robinette, however, appealed her case and won an eventual acquittal. In the meantime, however, a partly mummified body of a male infant was found in her attic, encased in cement in an old suitcase. The infant was identified as her son Peter David White. She was tried again for murder in 1947 and sentenced to life in prison, but was paroled in 1958 after serving eleven years in Kingston’s Prison for Women, with a new identity and job and disappeared from public view.

Wikipedia

“Mother, she’s just a guest. Leave her be. You don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Dear Anthony, you’re all I’ve got. I’m so afraid you’ll leave me.”

“Oh, mother. I’d never abandon you, but I need to have a life on my own.”

“That’s what I used to think and look where it got me?

“That was a long time ago, Mother.”

“Just promise me you’ll stay away from her, Anthony. I don’t trust her.”

“Like you didn’t trust the others, Mother?”

“Listen to your Mother, Anthony. Do as you’re told.”

“Yes, Mother.”

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Book Review of Sigil: A Tom Regan Thriller

sigilWow!

When I first created this blogspot and shamelessly began to promote it, a number of people commented and followed me, including 33-year old Irish thriller author Aidan J. Reid. I followed his blog back, and by the by, I saw that he had promoted his latest novel Sigil by offering the eBook on Amazon for free (but only for a limited period of time). I hadn’t read a mystery in decades and wasn’t sure how I’d experience “Sigil,” but I decided to download it onto my Kindle Fire.

The novel starts with a bang. Really, I was hooked from the first few pages on. Sigil chronicles the activities of Catholic Priest Tom Regan, who is the Parish Priest of the small town of Ballygorm.

What appears to be a tragic suicide becomes a mystery wrapped in intrigue as Father Regan, walking in the footsteps of his favorite television detective, uncovers a conspiracy not just to hide a murder, but something much more terrifying.

One step at a time, Regan unravels years of secrecy and sinister plots, revealing that the sleepy farming community of Ballygorm is anything but the idyllic rural setting it appears to be.

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