Zeus #atozchallenge #fiction

“That year, Zeus runs in the United States. Franks being a half-assed trainer, shows mediocre results. Finished eleventh two weeks earlier. Zeus is going to run at Bellemont. He makes the second race, and wins by four lengths and pays one-hundred and sixteen dollars. Ol’ Cash heads for the fifty-dollar window at the clubhouse. He has fifteen hundred dollars in win tickets, plus six hundred dollars to show. He walks away with eighty-thousand dollars in winnings.”

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet that Justine Calloway and Ziggy Franks made a killin’ making an off-track bet,” Orrin said.

“That’s my point. If Tripod is a dead-ringer to Cash’s horse. He could collect another mountain of money off the insurance company, but only if Tripod dies.”

“Then I reckon I better get a little surprise ready for them when they come,” Orrin said, with a grin.

Later, Orrin takes Tripod’s horse blanket and dusts a powder from the Stinging Tree branches and leaves. Orrin knows it will enrage the horse. But he has to do that to save his life.

Two nights later, Cash shows up to the stable in a truck, pulling a horse trailer. Ziggy Franks is behind the wheel.

“I’ve been thinking about that horse I sold you a couple of years back. I’ll tell you true, I’ve been missing that horse. I’ll pay you fifty dollars to get that horse back,” Cash said.

“He’s not for sale,” Orrin said.

“Maybe this will help change your mind,” Cash said, producing a revolver. “The only reason that horse is still alive is that he has value to me. I can’t say the same for you.”

Ziggy Franks entered Tripod’s stall, and placed the bridle in his mouth. Backing him out, leading him out of the barn into the trailer. Cash wadded the money into a ball and threw it into Orrin’s face.

“If you don’t keep your mouth shut, you’ll end up in the same dog food processing plant as your horse.”

“If you’re going to transport him in a trailer, put on his blanket…keeps him from getting fussy,” Orrin said offhandedly.

Cash slipped the revolver into his coat pocket, grabbed the horse blanket and headed for the trailer. Thirty seconds after he threw the blanket on Tripod’s back, he bucked when the shock of the hairs embedding themselves in his back. The more it hurt, the more he fought. It took less than ten seconds for Tripod to kick Cash and Ziggy to death.

Part 1 Your Horse is Mine

This has been a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Thanks to each of you for your input. This has helped us (friends of Steve) in our decision making as we publish and also put some of his stories in TV or radio series. He thanks each of you!!

Your Horse is Mine #fiction #atozchallenge

Orrin Crear worked as a stable hand at a ranch that produced champions. He had a gift for choosing winners. Bookies paid him money for tips on horses.

 “Crear was always right.” They said.

Cash Dakuten was a breeder who travelled the world looking for the best. One foal in his stable was born with a deformed rear foot. He ordered Orrin to put him down. Instead, Orrin signed paper and paid two-dollars for the cripple. Orrin named the colt Tripod. Each day he would walk Tripod then after cooling him down he’d massage his foot and rub Hyjonda Conqueror’s root on his leg. At night he would pray to Saint Lazarus.

“Don’t you worry none, just let Saint Lazarus do his work,” Orrin purred.

As a yearling, Orrin started trotting Tripod. In another three months, Tripod was cantering. At By the end of the season, he was ready to run on the track.

“He rides like the wind. I shouldn’t say anything, but your hoarse is the spitting image of the one Cash Dakuten’s got. He finds out you got him, he’ll be down here to steal him from you,” Phil the jockey warned.

“I bought him fair and square from Mr. Dakuten for two dollars on the barrel head. I got a bill of sale signed by him. He can think what he wants. Tripod ain’t for sale!” Orrin said.

“I heard last year he goes down to Brazil and buys two horses different from salt and pepper. Zeus is four years old and won no race he’s been in. He earned seven hundred and change the first year he runs. I hear Cash buys him for twelve hundred dollars. The other horse he buys named Jupiter, a world-class sprinter. A winner of seven out of eight this year. He lost by a nose to Starlight, the Pan American Champion his last time out. He plunks down eighty-five thousand dollars and has both shipped back here. The thing most people find odd is those horses are identical.”

That night Cash was on a ship headed to New York. He sent a cable to Ziggy Franks, a has-been trainer who gets a Western Union Check for Ten thousand dollars. Franks hooks up with a multi-millionaire named Justine Calloway, who lives in Bayshore, NJ. He arranges the sale, sight unseen for two-hundred and fifty thousand bucks. They shipped both horses to Calloway’s farm. The night both horses arrive, Jupiter dies of croup. Before they report it to the insurance company, they whisked away Jupiter to the dog food factory. Calloway collects on a two-hundred-thousand-dollar insurance policy.”

What happened to the other horse… Zeus?” Orrin asked.

Part two of story tomorrow: Zeus

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Sennacherib’s Tomb #atozchallenge

My name is Al-Salaam. I live in a village that was in Assyria; now it’s north of Mosel in Iraq. Over one-hundred generations of my family have served the Assyrian Guard. I have sworn an oath to protect the tomb of King Sennacherib, who built his kingdom in Nineveh. Anyone who knows about Nineveh knows that it was reclaimed by the desert centuries ago.

“The King’s crypt is deep beneath our land.” My father would remind me. “It is our duty to protect it with our lives.”

 My father died last spring and I am the last of the Assyrian guard.

“The Wraith of Kings protects the tomb!” My father would say as he retold the history.

When I was a boy, he would remind me that the very captain who fought the Medes and Babylonians murdered the king. He then carried the body to the vault and sealed it. Before the Babylonians caught up with the captain, his remaining army made a blood oath to protect King Sennacherib’s sarcophagus.

“They killed the Assyrian guard; my great, great, great grandfather was the only one to escape.” I finished the narrative.

 Archeologists were always nosing around and I knew it was only a matter of time that ISIS would arrive to destroy this protected spot.

On the night of the waning moon, in a year predicted by astronomers, I opened a leather bag that contained a powder that, when ignited, opened a portal.  

“Please, reveal what it is I am to do.” I inhaled the smoke .

 After a few moments, I opened my eyes and saw the wraith.

“I am Atenagoras,” the ghost stated. “You have summoned me?”

“I’m Al-Salaam, the son of Salam. The spirits foretell the enemy will plunder the king’s tomb.”

“In two days, they will arrive. Tell them the tomb is full of gold. The guardians marked the entrance with the mark of Sennacherib. Resist as long as you can. If you provoke them, it will lead to your death,” Atenagoras warned.The specter whisked away.

I wept. “My family’s sacrifice was for naught. I’ve given up everything only to be beaten and murdered.  My birth-line will cease and all the army has preserved will be stolen.”

I gathered my courage and waited. I was a warrior and I pledged to die fighting. The noonday heat caused me to slumber. When I awoke, it was to the sharp edge of a knife against my throat.

“I am called Junaid. I demand that you show me the gold!” Junaid hissed.

“I will tell you if you don’t kill me,” I begged.

“It’s Allah’s will. If you lie, I will stake you to the desert and watch the jackals feast on you.”

“Under the carpet,” I said with steel grey eyes. “and down many stairs there is a marker with the king’s seal on it. Underneath there is more gold than in all of Egypt! But you must beware…”

“What you scoundrel?” His knife caused beads of blood to encircle my neck.

“There is an ancient guardian who protects the tomb. I have seen him once but I have heard…”

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

many thanks to my editor: Leslie Moon aka Moondustwriter

check out other great writers at the 2022 A to Z challenge

A Walk in the Park #fiction #atozchallenge #murder

A call was made to a man known as ‘Jack.’


“Hello, Jack. I was thinking of taking a stroll in the park. It’s lovely weather, care to join me?”

“One thirty, the usual spot.” The line went dead.

Sir Basil sat on a park bench on the east end of Saint James Park.  Jack’s real name was Percy Roland. He was a retired member of Special Branch. A discrete member of the old boys’ fraternity. Always willing to do little errands for an old chum.

“You look well,” Basil extended his hand.

“As well as one can be when retired,” Jack huffed.

“Let’s walk.”

They walked along the trail where Great George Street intersects with Horse Guards Road. “Someone’s preparing to put the arm on me,” Sir Basil said.

“Do we know who’s involved?”

“I’ve been involved in a fling. The woman I’m seeing lets a room to a lodger. She claims he’s a South African. She found some negatives on her carpet. Said her roommate was seen scurrying around on his hands and knees trying to find something he dropped. The negative was from a Minox—.”

“Do you think this bloke is a spy?”

“I don’t know enough yet to make an educated guess. That’s why I called you,” Sir Basil reached in his pocket and handed Percy a thick, sealed envelope. “All the information I could get is right here. Driving license, passport, both names. She told me she’s known him since she was a child. There’s twenty-thousand pounds and a first-class, round-trip ticket to Cape Town. There’s the number of one of our agents who works at the embassy. He has been relieved of his assignments to render any assistance you might need. He can supply anything the South Africans have.”

“Ruddy good of you. Thank you. I should be back in a week or so. Ring me up if you find anything else.”

“Of course. Good hunting,”

Fifteen days later, Sir Basil received an anniversary card in the mail. Signed by Jack. He picked up the phone and dialed the number.

It rang twice, “Hello.”

“How was your fishing expedition?”

“Interesting to say the least. I’d love to tell you all about it. Our usual spot at say two sharp?”

“I hope you hooked a whooper. I’ll love to hear all about it. See you there.”

Sir Basil was waiting at the same spot.

“Let’s take a stroll. The bad news is taken better if you’re standing up,” Jack said.

“I checked on our friend. Everything I found was routine… too normal. I found an arrest for public drinking. I reached out to one of my old mates who was from Rhodesia. He checked his files…Something awkward reared its ugly head.”

“Awkward? Do tell.”

“It seems that Stephen Cole’s real name is Arkadi Petrolav. I was able to learn that he’s a disgraced member of the East Germans HVA. Reported directly to Markus Wolf. As best as I could tell, he’s originally from Belarus. It’s no surprise to me that the fingerprints on file in South Africa were different than the set the Rhodesians had.”

“What do you think he’s after?”

“I’d say he’s trying to flip you to their side and get back in the graces of his old handler. Maybe a bit of blackmail. I checked against what the Rhodians told me and I checked our files. He was involved in three assignations after the second war.”

“Good work. How long do you think Arkadi’s been out-of-the-game?”

“At least fifteen years. I found out about the woman. They’re related; she’s his niece. She is from Chechnya. A beauty queen that took third in ‘Miss Europe.’ Her real name is Ruth Kuczynski. I read an intelligence file that she had an affair with Colonel Vitali Yurchenko. The relationship ended suddenly when Yurchenko took cyanide.”

“Oh, dear,” Sir Basil moaned.

“Both of these subjects are experienced, trained intelligence agents. If I had to decide on what to do, I’d insist that it contained a lethal option.”

“You’re right, of course. We can make a case of a conspiracy. The option will apply to both. I can lure Devon, or whatever her name really is, back to the Maldives for a three-day holiday.”

“Tell me when and I’ll collect some help and be on with it.”

Two weeks later, during the Christmas holiday, Steven Cole was accidentally struck in a crosswalk by a hit and run driver.

In the Maldives, Devon was killed while painting her fingernails. The police investigating the case listed it as suspicious, yet undetermined cause. They failed to check the desk lamp for the source of the TCCD that caused her death. TCCD is 170,00 times more poisonous than cyanide.

All the recording devices she had installed were discovered and removed.  As a safety measure, Devon’s flat was burnt to the ground.

The link to the first part of this story: The Other Woman

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

many thanks to my editor: Leslie Moon aka Moondustwriter

The Other Woman #fiction #murder

A black Jaguar with dark tinted windows was parked in the underground garage of a downtown London office. The chauffeur was standing in front of the car, smoking a cigarette. An attractive, twenty-something stepped off the elevator, looked around, making sure she wasn’t being watched.  She made a beeline for the Jag.

The chauffeur scanned the car park, looked at her and gave a slight smile.  She opened the rear door, and without saying a word, stepped into the rear passenger compartment.

“Thank you for meeting me on such short notice,” Basil said.

The woman shook out her long blond hair, leaned over, and kissed him.

“I hope you have missed me as much as I’ve missed you,” Devon flashed a wicked smile.

“I’d like to talk to you about that negatives you found. Where did you say you found it?” Basil asked.

“In the hallway of my flat,” Devon frowned.

“From the size of the negative, it’s from a Mino; that’s a spy camera. It looks like the bungalow where we stayed in the Maldives,” Sir Basil coughed.

  “Basil there’s only one explanation.  I found the negatives on the carpet outside of my lodger’s makeshift darkroom.  I noticed him searching on his hands and knees looking for something. When I asked him what he was looking for, he told me he’d lost a screw from his glasses. He declined my offer to help.”

“Where did you say he was from?”

“South Africa.  I’ve known him all my life.”

“I’m going to ask a friend to make some discrete inquiries. There may be more to your friend Stephen than meets the eye.”

“He’s a nice old man. Promise me you won’t do anything rash,” Devon looked worried.

“If he’s taking photographs of me, he’s angling on blackmail. Then, darling, he’s not a nice old man,” Sir Basil said. “I hope my wife doesn’t find out.”

“I just don’t want you to hurt him is all—.”

“And you’re sure he hasn’t hinted at anything?”

“No, I can’t think of anything,”

“Then we’ll have to wait for him to make his pitch.”

“I need to see you,” she said, moving next to him.

“And I you.” He smiled.

“I’d better get back before I’m missed.” She leaned over and gave him a passionate kiss.

“I’ve got an appointment with the foreign minister. Let’s plan to have dinner at my club on Thursday.”

“I’ll make sure I’m free. Ciao baby,” she winked.

Basil watched her as she intentionally sauntered for his enjoyment. The elevator door started to close. She gave him a little wave.

The driver asked, “Where to Minister?”

“Let’s stop at a discrete phone box. Something’s come up.”

“Right away, Sir Basil.”


Tomorrow’s end to the story: A Walk in the Park

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Not Neat #atozchallenge #fiction #N

I had discovered that Shiro was going to be giving a lecture at the local Medical School. I would use this opportunity to assassinate the Doctor. The previous me would leave old blood at the scene of his death creating a false trail for the police to follow.  Then the plan was to molt my old-skin and turn into someone that could not physically be connected with the murder.

My weapon of choice was a rusty, ice climbing ax. Imagine a long arching hook for grasping the ice; the other side equipped with a well-honed, sharp point. Quiet, efficient, and deadly. I was sure Dr. Shiro would get the point.

The planned location of the attack was two blocks from the lab. The urban concentration would allow me to use the rooftops to aid in my escape. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop would allow me to cover the two blocks in seven minutes. Have the procedure and be a newly minted human being before the police conducted the investigation. I smiled at the thought of them chasing their tails.

I even chose the weather pattern; there would be an off-shore wind. I planned to remove my clothing and stuff it into a waterproof bag. The bag would be attached to a weather balloon. I’d stuff blood-soaked clothing into the bag and release the balloon into the off-shore breeze. It would carry it many miles out to sea. I would be a “altered” by the time it disappeared into the Pacific Ocean.

I traveled the route several times both day and night and knew it by heart. The only thing was to wait for the guest of honor to arrive. I hoped he was not too old to realize the work I’d put into planning his demise. I’m sure it’s more that he had put into my father’s.

The day finally arrived. I donned janitor coveralls and coated the water pitcher on the podium with a film of Ipecac Syrup. He’d immediately feel nauseated and head for the bathroom. That’s where I’d be waiting. I knew he’d start to get sick four minutes after his first sip of water.  I watched the monitor in the hall. I saw him take the first sip of water and pressed the countdown timer on my watch. I futzed around wiping the area down with alcohol, obliterating any fingerprints. He walked in, moving quickly to one of the stalls. I placed an out-of-order sign on the door and lock it. I removed the ice-ax from the refuse container.

I asked, “Are you feeling alright?”

“I think so.” he said between heaves. Something I ate.

“Let me tell you about my father,” I said as I swung the Ax above my head.

“He was on your lengthy medical experiment list.”

 I swung the pick deep into his thigh. I may have done that two or three more times.

“Your experiments were painful and purposeful.”

 I chopped at his arm.

And when you had enough, you removed all evidence of your war crimes.

I lashed out all my fury into that final stroke into the man’s brain. I pushed it further as he gasped his last breath.

“What a mess you have made of your life.” I looked at the corpse scornfully. “You’ve’ ruined my uniform”.

I poured my donor blood around the body. I then dragged the wheeled trash barrel to the doorway, locked the door and taped the “out of order” sign to the door and casually make my way to the roof.

Stripping off my disguise, I stuffed everything into the bag and sent the balloon on its merry way. Now a dash across the rooftops which took me seven minutes. When I arrived for the treatment, I take several minutes to allow my heart rate to drop. I listened to the sounds of the city, not even one siren. I walked into the surgery, ready to become a new man. Five hours later, I continued my new life after the cleaning up the past.

This is month long journey with A to z challenge. I hope you are enjoying the blogging. This series of short Stories is called “30 ways to kill (or die)”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

Murder at Ping Fan #atozchallenge #fiction #M

On Monday, I checked the mailbox and to my surprise the thing I most coveted had arrived. During the Covid-19 pandemic, I had volunteered for an experimental procedure, a method to convert my body into a virus-proof machine. There were only two downsides that the doctors could think of:

First, there were no guarantees that it would protect me from the virus. I was okay with that. The second issue was also the most controversial. There was a certainty that the procedure would alter my DNA. This procedure was so radical it was going to reshuffle the helix of my DNA, making me hyper-resistant to any disease.  Dr. Wendel Fulbright was the master-mind; I would have to report to his lab in Lima, Peru. Where he could conduct the tests away from the prying eyes of the FDA or the AMA. 

The Doctor said there were going to be some notable changes in my body because of the procedure. First, I would appear to be younger by approximately fifteen years. Testing on lab animals (which is now what they are doing to me) showed that I was going to be healthier and younger. Even my fingerprints were going to change. It was like a snake molting an old skin.

Anticipating the procedure, I had a pint of blood removed from my body. It was put in a special vault (in Peru) so there was no way to lose or tamper with it. I had special plans for this liquid.

Next, I had to find the whereabouts of the man I abhorred more than any other, Dr. Ishii Shiro. Dr. Shiro was the Joseph Mengele of the Pacific Theater during World War Two. This monster murdered many prisoners of war including my father. I found out by searching through freedom of information documents that my father was a prisoner held by Shiro in Unit 731. This I discovered was the Japanese Bacterial Factory at a place called Ping Fan, Manchukuo.

On testimony from Japanese doctors, my father was exposed to bubonic plague. He was the subject of many experiments on Biological Weapons conducted at the camp. He was more than murdered; it’s as if he was pulled apart one strand of DNA at a time. All evidence of the lengthy atrocities was destroyed in the camp crematorium.

This is a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

King Moon and the Uncursing #atozchallenge #flashfiction #K

“If I may ask, what do you think you’re doing?” Geno pensively asked.

“We found a wagon!” John said excitedly.

“I can see that. It’s a Gypsie caravan. I knew the family who owned it. The caravan was looted and they were murdered… by Nazis,” Geno said sadly.

“I almost forgot,” John showed Geno a walking stick.

A look of shock came over the old man.

“Where did you find this?” Geno asked seriously.

“I walked outside to stoke the fire. I’ll admit, we’d never havfound this wagon if the stick didn’t lead us here. Something’s hidden inside, it rattles.”

“This staff belonged to my dear friend Sasha Wojtyla. He had three daughters who lived with him in this wagon. I can’t imagine the horrors forced on them by the Nazis.”

“Why is ‘Help us, Ana’ carved on the staff?”

“I made the staff for Sasha on the birth of his first child. I made the staff out of Elder. On Sasha’s bequest, I placed seven leaves of Vervain, powdered eye, dried tongue, and powdered hearts from a wolf, a salamander and 3 tree swallow’s. I charged the staff with a protection spell. It protected them from illness, but I’m afraid not the Nazi’s.”

“What was it doing in your backyard?”

“Sasha gave it to my son when his wife Catarina was sick, he may have thrown it from the wagon to hide it from the Nazis.”

“What do you plan to do?” John asked.

“We must search the area for anything from the wagon. If we find anything, we’ll return it and burn all of their belongings.”


“It’s our tradition. We must remove nothing from this wagon. An unspeakable curse will befall anyone who violates this edict,” Geno warned. “This is why all the Nazis died.”

“I found these a few meters from the caravan. What are they?”

“Glossopetrae! Serpent tongue stones. They dispel misfortune and illness, some use them as oracle stones. Place them on the floor of the wagon, quickly!”

Geno lit some small twigs on fire as he prepared to set the wagon alight.

“What are you doing?”

“I intend to destroy the wagon and its contents before night fall.”

“There’s some elegant stuff in here. You don’t want to destroy it, do you?”

“The sun is hiding behind the mountains. Tonight, is Saint John’s Night. All spirits visit humans, either to help or to harm them. The sanctity of this burial site must be safe. We will only live if we burn this wagon. We have no choice, we must do now it!” Geno’s voice cracked with fear.

“You don’t really think—”

“The revenant will come! If certain rites don’t get respected, the dead will return. They cannot make the journey to the other world. They will bring many múle.” Geno watched the wagon burn. Walking over to John, he snatched the walking stick and tossed it into the pyre.

“Hey! I found that,” John said.

“And I am returning it to its rightful owners.”

The stick burned an radiant blue color, and in seconds, it vanished.  A firefly hovered above where the wagon had been.

“It’s King Moon!” Geno gasped in fright.

The green glow became brighter and brighter. Out of the light, the spirit of a man holding a flute clad in silver appeared.

He waved the flute over Geno.

“A great wrong fixed. Your curse is removed,” King Moon said.

We watched as Geno turned into a firefly and flew into the light. The light disappeared, taking with it Geno’s spirit.

This flash fiction is part of a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

check out other great writers at the 2022 A to Z challenge

Indoctrination #fiction #crime #atozchallenge

My name is Markey Dobbs. The day before yesterday was my birthday, I turned twenty-one. That’s the day I graduated from the police academy. Stayer County Sheriff’s Department hired me that day. I reported on duty with one other recruit -Thorne Whittaker. It was still dark when I arrived at the Sheriff’s station. Standing on the sidewalk was Thorne.

“Who do you think you’re going to ride with?” Thorne asked.

“I’d say my training officer,” I said.

“Duh, let’s report in. We don’t want to be late on our first day. That’s not how you want to be introduced.”

We stopped at the front desk.

“Good morning, sir. We were told to report to Lieutenant Bailis,” Thorne said.

The officer looked emotionally ragged. His eyes were dead from any emotion. I guess that happens when you see too much of everything.

“Welcome aboard. Go through that door and take a seat. The Watch Commander will be back in ten minutes, he’s expecting you. My name is Jeff Radford.” he said, offering his hand. “The ‘El tee’ will issue your keys and lockers. He’s conducting roll-call for early day-watch. He’ll give you your patrol assignments and you’ll meet your training officer during the briefing.”

“Thank you,” I felt the tingling of anticipation.

We stepped into a small office and sat down. Five minutes later, Lieutenant Bailis walked into the room.

“Carl Bailis,” he said, shaking our hands. “I’ll issue your keys and show you where to put your stuff. He pointed to a rack of uniforms. Now go and get squared away. Roll-Call is in twenty minutes.”

“Yes, sir,” we said in unison.

Thorne and I turned and hustled down the hall, trying to find the locker room.

Walking past the desk, we could see a man who looked 60 ish. His uniform bore sergeant stripes. On his left sleeve, he had seven hash marks, each denoting three years. His long sleeves turned back like an old timer and his blue eyes pierced to my heart. A toothpick jutted out of the corner of his mouth.

“Locker room is the third door on your left. My name is Wilkie. I’m your patrol supervisor. We’ll chat later. Welcome aboard. I’ll see you in roll-call,” he said, walking past us.

“Holy Shit! Do you know who that was!” Thorne said.

“Sergeant Wilkie Reynolds. He’s a legend. My dad told me he’s a ‘Cop’s cop.’ I don’t think there’s anything he hasn’t done in the Sheriff’s Department. My dad told me the Attorney General has awarded him two medals of valor,” I said.

“I doubt we’ll see much of him if we’re chasing radio calls,” Thorne said.

“Hey man, we got to start at the bottom. Just like everyone else here did,” I said, trying to sound confident.

“Let’s get a move on, I don’t want to be late.”

We found our lockers, put on our uniform, and reported to the roll-call room. The only two seats that were open were in the front rows. The veteran officers sat in the back row. I knew they were establishing a pecking order we ;were on the lowest rung.

“El tee” Bailis and Sergeant Wilkie pushed through the door carrying clipboards and a mound of paperwork. Wilkie scanned the room, counting heads.

“Where’s DeLone?”

“He’s in the head. Praying to the porcelain god,” a voice from the back chuckled.

“He must have eaten some of your wife’s cooking,” a voice cracked from the back.

“Okay, we’ll be down a man. Which one of you is Dobbs?”

I raised my hand.

“You ride with me today. We’re Sam-7. Whittaker, you’re assigned to A-22, Goldin raise your hand so your trainee can find you,” Wilkie said.

One of the old heads in the back raised his hand, another pitched a paper airplane, made from an old hot-sheet sailing to the desk.

“If I can have the attention of the Wright Brothers, we can start this briefing,” Lieutenant Baillis said. “We’ve got two, fresh off the academy, warm bodies. Treat them well, if they pass probation, you’ll be able to take some much-needed time off.”

The briefing lasted forty-five minutes.

“The kit-room is behind the desk. Check out a car, grab an M-4, and a shotgun. Get regular and less-than-lethal ammo for each. Get a camera; make sure you’ve got film and a fresh battery. Do you have a flashlight with good batteries?” Wilkie asked.

“Yes, sir. My flashlight’s in my car. I didn’t think I’d need it on day shift,” I pensively offered.

“If you don’t have it, as sure as I’m here talking to you, we’re going to need to check an attic or a basement for some nut-job with a gun. We’ll pick it up when we drive out of the station,” Wilkie said, “And happy birthday.”

I finally grabbed all the gear and dropped it in the cruiser. Wilkie walked out, carrying a cup of coffee. A set of car keys hung from the chrome buckle of his gun belt.

“How did you know it was my birthday?” Dobbs asked.

“You may have not have heard what happened twenty-one years ago. The night you were borne, your dad had been drinking heavy. He drove into a ditch about three miles out of town. Before we could load your family into my car, your mother’s water broke, and she started went into labor. The ambulance was on-the-way, but you didn’t want to wait. I delivered you. Six pounds three ounces.”

“I guess that makes you some kind of uncle?”

“An uncle is your father’s brother; I think your dad might have something to say about that.”


“I was the detective that sent him away to prison,” Wilkie said. “One thing about police work. If you look for it, you’ll see it.”

“See what?”

“Everything has irony. For instance—I put your father in prison. Now, I’m training his son to be a cop—that’s irony for you. You just have to watch it, and you’ll see it.”

I was familiarizing myself with the reports. “These differ from the ones we used at the academy. I have a question, what’s SPIT?”

“That’s mostly for suicides—knuckleheads who are successful at jumping off buildings and splat on the sidewalk. It stands for: Sudden, Pavement, Impact, Trauma. We added that box for jumpers—it helps the bean counters keep score so they can apply for federal funding—it’s not the fall that’ll kills you. It’s that sudden stop.”

In Your Eye #atozchallenge #flashfiction “E”

My name is Bertram Gallagher, my friends call me boring. I’m a biology nerd and I live in the Keys. Life isn’t great:  I’m confined to a wheelchair, my mother died of cancer when I was in high school and my sister drowned a few weeks later.

The police said it was an accident, the drowning I mean. Sis was messing around in a pool with her boyfriend, Roarke Banner.  Roarke pushed my sister hard enough to break her neck, never making an attempt to save her. He was too busy high-fiving his swim- team buddies. I could do nothing but watch her body float in the pool.

One of the things that I have obsessed about since that day was drowning Roark Banner. Like that’s going to happen in my lifetime. He’s an all-state champion in swimming, diving, and water polo. He was even being considered for a position on the Olympic Swim Team.  I mean, it’s not like I’m a member of SEAL Team six or anything.

 I still want payback no matter the obstacles.

In University, my major was Biology. I excelled in robotics and with my degree as a nurse practitioner have been on a team using robotics in brain injury surgeries. Though Roarke Banner is off my radar, I still dream of his drowning.

I started studying a worm named Spinohordodes tellinii, commonly known as the Hairworm. This bad boy’s aparasitic worm that goes at the host. Once inside, they begin to grow into adulthood. Things are pretty good for the Hairworm. As it matures, it needs to find a mate. So, it starts to release a protein that alters the host’s central nervous system. It’s able to convince the host to immerse itself in water. Thereby drowning the host.  The Hairworm then abandons the host, exits the body to find a mate. That night I lay awake, trying to figure out a way to get to Roark Banner.

The luckiest day of my life arrived in July. One of the nurses told me that my old school chum Roark Banner had injured his spine in a diving accident. I went to intensive care to see him. He was wearing a halo cage to immobilize his spine. He was scheduled for surgery over the next two months.  I went to the lab and removed a test-tube of microscopic larvae from the Hairworm. Judging by their tiny size, I estimated I purloined over seven million, parasitic larvae. My plan was simple: deliver the larvae to Roark’s brain.  The larvae would follow their genetic programming, destroying his brain in the process.

 How I was going to deliver a few million larvae into his brain without drilling a hole through his skull. The doctors tend to notice that kind of thing. The next day I was scheduled to assist in surgery where the patient had a damaged optic nerve. The surgeon removed the eye from the socket to relieve pressure on the optic nerve. I realized that I found a vector via the optic nerve that led directly to the brain and Roark’s end.

The next day, I came in to check on Roark. He was heavily sedated. I removed his left eye and irrigated his orbit with several million parasitic larvae, the whole time he watched. I replaced the eye, and I told him he was getting along nicely. I guaranteed him that he’d be back in the water soon.

Months later, he left the hospital. Over the fourth of July weekend, he went to the pool where he had taken my sis. He didn’t see what was happening until it was too late.

This post is part of a month long journey with the A to Z challenge. Each day the letter is the prompt for my short stories themed: “Thirty Ways to Kill or die …”

And keep on the lookout for my upcoming novel – “Lifeblood of the Dragon.” Lifeblood is set in the seedy alleys of post-war Los Angeles. The morgue is full more often than not. Cameo appearances by the well known gangster Mickey Cohen and his goons.

check out other great writers at the 2022 A to Z challenge