“The Trench Coat Chronicles” Now Available at Barnes & Noble

Cover image for the anthology “The Trench Coat Chronicles”

I’m pleased to announce that the Celestial Echo Press “hard-boiled detective” anthology The Trench Coat Chronicles is now available Barnes & Noble.

Edited by Ruth Littner, Ann Stolinsky. it features my short story The Haunted Detective.

In 1947 San Francisco, Marguerite Potter has just gone into business for herself as a Private Detective after learning the trade from her more experienced mentor. Used to the rough and gritty streets of the City that Never Sleeps, even Margie is startled when her first client is the young woman who became her friend when Potter arrived in the City, a woman who had been murdered six years ago.

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Preview of my Short Story “The Haunted Detective”

trench

Promotional image for the Gemini Wordsmiths anthology “The Trench Coat Chronicles”

About six weeks ago, I announced that my short story “The Haunted Detective” was accepted for publication in the Gemini Wordsmiths anthology “The Trench Coat Chronicles.”

The graphic above not only includes my name among the accepted authors but relates that this book will be available sometime around the winter holidays.

If you can’t wait, here’s a small excerpt:

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The COVID-19 California Police State

cdc map

Found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

No, I’m really not that paranoid, but you have to admit that people are probably getting nervous about not just the pandemic, but governmental responses.

First, the rise of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic across the globe. Then the hoarding, including guns and ammo, and then martial law…well sort of.

Yesterday, I heard that San Francisco and several of the surrounding countries all went on lockdown:

Almost 7 million people are affected by the lockdown that went into place Tuesday as Bay Area counties followed San Francisco’s lead in ordering residents to shelter in place. It was the first of such measures in the United States as authorities try to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Okay, I get it. The northern California authorities are trying everything they can think of to flatten the curve.

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Escaping Paradise

road

Photo credit: Jodi McKinney

“Are you sure this is the right move?” Sixteen-year-old Erin leaned forward against her seatbelt so her Dad, who was driving, could hear her.

“It’s too late to ask now. All our stuff’s moved to the new place in Glenbrook, the house in San Francisco finally sold, so Nevada is our new home.” He chuckled until he saw his wife giving him “the look,” which the middle-aged executive consultant could see out of his peripheral vision.

“Phil,” Esther hissed, adding emphasis.

“Sorry, Erin. I know you miss your friends, your school…”

“Everything,” she moaned. Erin’s six and ten year old brothers Matt and Chad were asleep next to her. “Am I the only one who cares what this move will do to us?”

“We’ve talked about all this.” Esther turned around in the front passenger seat to look at her daughter. “Your Dad’s right about what a mess things have become in the Bay Area. Look at this move as an adventure. I promise that in a year, it’ll be a lot better.

I wrote this for the 195th FFfAW Challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 173.

I haven’t lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since the early 1980s, but I do keep up on the news. Most of it sounds pretty bad. The article I read this morning is called Videos shows Santa Con attendees trashing popular SF restaurant, reporting how two women tore a restaurant apart because the payment for their food orders was in dispute. I had to look up Santa Con, but vandalizing an establishment and assaulting an employee doesn’t seem much like the spirit of Christmas.

I also read recently how people from expensive portions of California, including LA and the Bay Area, are leaving in droves going to much lower cost Nevada.

In 1994, my family moved from Orange County, California to Boise, Idaho for similar reasons, but mainly because the nearest drive by shooting was a mile and a quarter from our house and we didn’t want our (then) little children to get shot, or involved in drugs and gangs.

Life isn’t perfect here, but with each news story I read, I must say I’m glad I’ve lived here for the past 24 years. My daughter, who is now 30, made the decision to move to Northern California, but so far, both of my sons are still in Boise. I’m pretty sure David will always live here, and maybe Michael too, although I think he’d like a place where the politics were more “blue.”

Oh, Glenbrook, Nevada is pretty small, but it’s really a bedroom community for Carson City and Reno. It’s right on the shore of Lake Tahoe, and according to Google maps images, it’s really pretty.

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

Going Home After All These Years

pier 14

Pier 14. (Photo: Curtis Simmons/Flickr)

“You embarrassed me this evening.” Myron was standing with Rachel outside the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco waiting for the valet to bring around the car.

“It was the truth. What are you complaining about?”

“Truth or not, you shouldn’t have said it.”

“It’s over and done with. Here comes the car now.”

He pulled out his wallet and extracted some bills. “Thank you,” he uttered softly as he tipped the young woman and then received the car keys.

“Here.” He tossed them at his wife, her unbidden reflexes deftly causing her to catch them.

“I’m driving?”

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Forlorn Rendezvous

goat island

Goat Island (now Yerba Buena Island) in San Francisco Bay.

“A child’s eyes light up when they see their Grandpa.” –Catherine Pulsifer

“Where is she? Are she and Leah well? Don’t just sit there man!” Isaiah was as frantic as Keisha had ever seen him during the short time they’d known each other. At the first mention of his Mom’s name, Josiah rushed over to his Dad. The teenager from another universe stood and waited.

The lighthouse keeper was rapidly writing on a pad and then put the pencil down. “She’s ceased transmitting. A moment, Isaiah.” Joachim began tapping at the telegraph key. Grandpa had taught Keisha Morse Code when she was little since one of the projects they’d worked on was building a working signaling system, but Rosenstein’s finger was moving too fast for her to understand the message. Then he stopped and listened.

“Sorry. I think she was cut off in the middle of her transmission. She’s not answering now.”

Isaiah put his arm around his son and took a deep breath. “Can you read out what you got?”

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Aerial Encounter

airship

© Vadim Voitekhovitch – Found at Deviant Art

“Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” –Alex Haley

Keisha guided, or so she thought, the ornately decorated airship “Graceful Delight” out of the gigantic hanger set upon a massive floating derrick just off of Alameda. However she was about to discover there’s a difference between reading and memorizing instructions, and real practical experience. She had never driven a car before, let alone piloted a fifteen-meter-long gondola suspended under a sixty-meter dirigible. When the propellers begin to drive the ship forward, they had spun up to a preset speed, dictating the Delight’s velocity, and whatever gas was inside the thin, metallic envelope above her head, was providing buoyancy and lift.

The Delight was accelerating upward and Keisha didn’t know how to stop it.

Frantically, she racked her memory for how to control the ship.

“Let’s see, these levers control engine speed, but how do I keep from going up?”

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Almost Home

fog

© Mara Eastern

Charlie and Betsy Shaw and their eight-year-old son Andy made their way through the fog toward their flat, still in a daze after a special Sunday evening service at their church. The Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was still so hard to believe. Betsy’s cousin Elwin was a Seaman First Class on the USS Arizona. Everybody was saying that Roosevelt and Congress weren’t going to keep us out of the war after this.

“I can hardly see where we’re going, Charlie.”

“We’re almost home, Hun. I know it’s been a hard day.”

Andy didn’t say anything, but he looked up at his parents searching for some kind of reassurance that his world hadn’t fallen apart. They both looked so lost.

“We’ve got to stop. I really can’t see though the fog. I think we’re lost.”

“How can we be lost?” Charlie didn’t want to admit he couldn’t see anything except fog and diffused light. “We’ve lived on this block for over ten years.”

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When David Met Ana

dutch windmill

© Fandango

“King’s Day, Ana?”

“King’s Day, David.”

The young couple was standing near the base of the Queen Wilhelmina Windmill at the western edge of Golden Gate Park. It was their third date and after brunch at the Cliff House, they decided to go for a walk. Ana Janssen was introducing David Silverstein to one of the City’s annual festivals.

“Every year in April the Dutch community has a celebration here just like in Holland in honor of the King. It’s a lot of fun. They always need volunteers. How about we do it together?”

“On one condition.”

“Name it.”

“You come with me to celebrate Purim next Sunday at the JCC.”

“What’s Purim?”

“Every year all over the world, Jewish communities celebrate our victory over a plot to destroy us in what is now Iran. It’s a lot of fun, probably a lot like King’s Day. Didn’t you ever read the Book of Esther?”

“No, but I’d love to learn. You teach me about it and I’ll tell you more about King’s Day.”

“Deal.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge of the Week of February 27, 2018. The idea is to use the image at the top to inspire authoring a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words. My word count is 174.

I cheated. I know where Fandango’s photo was taken. I used to live in San Francisco back when normal people could afford to and I’ve been past the windmills at the western edge of Golden Gate Park countless times. I looked them up and discovered that every April, the Dutch celebration of King’s Day is celebrated there. Sounds like a lot of fun, but is it a story?

I was sort of reminded of the Jewish celebration of Purim (which begins at sundown this coming Wednesday but was observed as a community event at San Francisco’s Jewish Community Center last Sunday) so I decided to talk about both of them through a young dating couple, with David being Jewish and Ana being of Dutch descent.

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

Sigil

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Image: Business Insider

The Seventh Chapter in the Undead Life of Sean Becker

The sigil left in his place made no sense.

Raquel was the first to see it amid the rubble. Even the firefighters and arson investigators hadn’t been able to get down to this level yet.

Clearly the carved sign had been substituted for the vampire Antonie, but it was in the shape of an inverted pentagram accompanied by a number of other symbols. She only recognized the “all-seeing eye” which is found on the dollar bill and she had no idea how to read the Latin.

The sigil was etched into the concrete floor below what Antonie had once called his throne. Raquel hadn’t known a time when he hadn’t been the cult leader of a group of vampires inhabiting the lowest level of what had once been an abandoned warehouse on the San Francisco waterfront.

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