AtoZ Reflections #atozchallenge

Really appreciate meeting excellent bloggers through the A to Z challenge. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs in the coming weeks.

I wish I (Moondustwriter) could tell you about the life of my friend Steve Slack. Suffice it to say, he has had an unusual life which has resulted in great stories.

Recently Steve was diagnosed with ALS (there is no cure) and his friends are working at publishing and producing some of his work.

Each of you and your comments have helped encouraged him to keep writing.

Steve might participate again with the A to Z challenge in 2023…

He will definitely come by and visit bloggers that have visited.

Steve thanks you for your visits and your feedback.

Thank you A to Z team for hosting this event.

keep an eye out for Steve Slack’s books. Look for “Lifeblood of the Dragon” in the next several months. Hazard Point is another title to look for…

Winning Throw #atozchallenge #fiction

“I think we should get casino security involved.”

“No need. I’d hate to be with him when bad karma finds him,” she said, leaning over and kissing me.

The next Sunday, I was working at the bar when Johnny Quinn sat down. He looked ill.

“How you doing, Johnny?” I asked. I could see that he was out of sorts. “Blue Label?”


“Sure thing, I said, filling the glass at the gun.”

When he collapsed off the chair, I mashed my emergency button, and dashed to the customer side of the bar He was still conscious when the Paramedics arrived. They whisked him away. After they left, I noticed they forgot his coat. On my break, I took it to the hat check where Jayna was working.

“Looked like you had a little excitement over at the bar.” she smiled.

“Johnny, your favorite customer. It looks like heart problems. Here, he forgot his coat.” 

“I’ll give you the check. You can give it to him when he comes back.”

Three weeks later, Johnny returned to my bar.

“Andy, you saved my hide. He said. “I wanted to thank you for what you did.” He said as he wadded a hundred-dollar bill and stuffed it in my pocket.

“It’s no big deal… before I forget, I checked your coat into the coat check station. Here’s the coat-check ticket.”

“Thanks, it’s an expensive coat, I wondered what happened to it.”

“Are you going to hit the Craps tables?” 

“Yeah, now I found my jacket. I just might throw a few times. The doctor said that I shouldn’t get too excited. But one little throw won’t hurt.”

Johnny picked up his ticket and retrieved his jacket. He headed over to the Craps table. Before he could make a bet, he passed out and did a face plant. The grimace on his face looked like he was in a lot of pain. He was dead before he got to the hospital. I guess it wasn’t okay to get excited after all.

After work, I picked up Jayna, and we drove back to my place.

“Your customer came and picked up his jacket at around ten,” she said.

“Yeah, he stopped by the bar and thanked me, tipped me a honey to show his thanks. Even though the doctors told him not to get too excited, he headed for the tables.”

“I have a confession to make.”

“About what?”

“I want through Johnny’s Pockets when you brought me the coat. I always do a complete inventory, sometimes I find cash or valuables. I tell the floor boss and we double count it and place it in the safe.”

“Did you find anything valuable this time?”

“A pair of loaded dice, and guess what? I tossed and they came up seven.”

“Shavers… that will certainly pique the attention of the casino. Did you call security?”

“Nope, I put them back where I found them and I left him a little gift.”

“What kind of gift?”

“A very tiny one. I slid a Death Stalker scorpion into his pocket where he stashed the dice.”

“That’s going to be a surprise?” 

“He’ll only find it when he tries to remove the loaded dice. If he does, he’ll get stung.”

“How bad is the sting of a Death Stalker?”

“One-hundred percent fatal.”

“I guess this time his winning throw was a deadly one.” I grabbed her hand.

Part One: Vegas

Move Quietly #atozchallenge #fiction

Festas Pinal was a half-breed, former Texas Ranger, and the most feared bounty hunter in the Oklahoma territory. He took great pleasure in looking for men with a bounty on their head.

“The more dangerous the bounty the better.” Festas chose to go after ruthless killers.

“You don’t wanna tangle with Festas; he’s crafty and downright dangerous.” Bounty hunters would spout off behind his back.

 The winter of 1894 was one of the worst on record. The temperatures dipped well below freezing. Festas was coming back to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to collect the bounty on the Shipmen brothers. Parker, well-known as the “Hanging judge,” had issued a Territorial Bench Warrant on Ronnie and Billie. Torture, bushwhacking, arson, and robbery were a few of their “skills.” Parker swore Festas in as a U. S. Deputy Marshall which allowed him to search on Indian land.

Festas had learned tracking by living with his mother’s tribe.

“Silence and eyes in front and behind make the best tracker,” his uncles told him.

After talking to several people about the Shipman’s, Festas knew he would need to move quietly and have a few tricks up his sleeve to catch Ronnie and Billie.

When travelling by Sager Creek trading post, Festas picked up a fugitive named Zed Smith. Smith was wanted for claim jumping. Festas had no choice but deliver the mouthy old coot to a jail which was in Indian territory. Zed took an arrow to the chest before Festas could kill the three Apache attackers.

The next night while setting up camp, Festas sensed that he was being tracked.

“Better be ready for company,” he said to the Zed who he had propped up against a fallen log.

He started a fire and began heating rocks in the coals then he opened a can of beans. He dug a shallow hole, threw in some hot stones, and covered them with dirt.  He laid out his bedroll then carefully lifted the lid to a tin and shook a dozen, small fuzzy critters onto two blankets. He built up the fire so his camp would be easy to find. He put his hat on Zed, grabbed some Buffalo jerky, a canteen of water, and headed for his ambush position.

The hairs on his neck started to tingle before he saw the two men. Driven by hunger and cold, they circled the camp like wolves.  Peering into the camp, they saw Zed with an arrow in his chest.

“Looks like the Indians got him,” Billy said.

“His horses are still here and he ain’t been scalped. Them Indians might be close,” Ronnie whispered. “You go into camp and see if there’s anything to eat. I’ll make sure we’re alone.”

“You do that.”

Billy cautiously moved toward the camp. He picked up a blanket, wrapped it around his shivering body, then dug his fingers into the open can of beans.

“No sign of them,” Ronnie stepped close to the fire trying to get warm. “Give me that second blanket and give me them beans afore they’re gone.” He grabbed the can from his brother.

Festas watched the two fugitive’s and waited.

“Something bit me. I think this blanket got’s bugs.”

“I feel something gnawing on me too. Damn that hurts, feels like a black Widow.”

Both brothers moaned and curled up into the fetal position. Festas smiled waiting for the poison to take effect. When it did, they’d be docile as little lambs. Men have described the bite of the Puss Caterpillar as painful as being struck with a hammer. Pretty strong stuff for a caterpillar that looks like a tiny Persian Cat.

..Pot of Honey #atozchallenge #fiction

Second part of “The Pot of Honey…”

The Colca Canyon Mine chamber would support bee’s that manufactured Elvish Honey, the rarest, and most expensive honey, on the planet.

The hives were transported from the Saricayir Valley to Peru.  After the first season, the hive was at maximum output. The honey was indistinguishable from the Saricayir Valley honey.

 Ramallah enlisted honey brokers to acquire the Elvish Honey. Two thousand bottles were secure in a private bank vault in Panama. He then persuaded millionaires from all over the world to drive the price to an unobtainable cost. News was leaked from Turkey: production had stopped, the season’s crop had been destroyed, future production was at risk. Prices climbed from 28,000 euros to the point where enthusiasts were willing to pay a million dollars for one 170-gram bottle.

One year later, at the Anti-Corruption Conference in Durban, South Africa, Ramallah was having a conversation with Muhammad Fayyad. Ramallah was quite aware that Prince Hassan Haifa al Abd was eavesdropping.

“To think I have the last jar on the planet.” Ramallah walked away.

The next morning Ramallah was contacted by Lairs Swoboda, a commodity broker in Stockholm.

“I have a client who is interested in bidding on your jar of Elvish honey.” Swoboda stated.

“Who said I have such a thing?” Ramallah asked.

“I am unaware of how my source obtained his information. My client would like to offer five-million dollars.”

“A Russian  has offered nine in gold bullion. Tell your buyer to offer ten in bullion.”

“I will communicate with the buyer.”

“Tell your client he has until noon tomorrow.”

“I’ll be in touch. Thank you for your time,” Swoboda terminated the call.

Swoboda made another call knowing the answer.

“My client tells me he will offer ten million in gold bullion, but the bidding’s closed. No counteroffers can be made. ” Swoboda conveyed.

“Agreed. I’ll send you my account number, and your client can transfer the funds. I will then dispatch a courier with the merchandise for the buyer’s agent to inspect,” Ramallah said.

“That will be fine. I will send the address in a text.”

“Thank you, good day.” Ramallah was close.

The transaction was complete on Tuesday. Ramallah knew Rashmi would gorge on honey. Saturday, Rashmi was found dead in his bedroom. The BBC reported that Rashmi was under investigation for embezzling over two hundred million dollars in precious metals and gems from a foreign trust. A source told the BBC that Rashmi had died from an Opium overdose.

At OPEC, Yasser Abd Ramallah was offered the nomination for Regent and asked if he would be interested in accepting the Chairman’s position at the Oslo Accords. Ramallah accepted with grace and dignity.

Ramallah alone knew that honey intoxication, known as grayanotoxane poisoning, killed Rashmi.

The Dinner Guests #halloween #crime

“Come in officers,” Mrs. Smith smiled sweetly.

“Thank you,” Detective Walters cleaned his shoes on the door mat.

“Have they found my husband?”

“The more we look the less we find,” Officer Warbeck said.

“Where could he be?” Mrs. Smith wiped her face with a hankie

“We put out a state wide BOLO on him,” Walters said with assurance.

“I’m out here all by myself. I seldom get gentlemen callers,” she flirted.

“The area car will stop and check on you,” Warbeck promised.

“I’m making Henry’s favorite-—pork roast. Would you boys like to stay for dinner?”

“I’m a bachelor, I haven’t had a home cooked meal in a month of Sundays.”

“Well, you two boys just sit down at the table and relax,” Mrs. Smith said.

The officers got up to leave. “Thank you for the dinner. That roast was delicious.”

Mrs. Smith blushed at the complement. She waved from the porch.

“I’ll invite the postman to dinner, then maybe the UPS driver. One-hundred pounds of meat will take several weeks to cook up.” She smiled at the thought of all the work it would have been to dig a hole in her lovely garden.