Friday, January 23, 2015

Wichita Pete

Image via Wikimedia Commons


When I was growing up, there was an old hermit at the end of the street named Wichita Pete. I always remembered him as an old man who wore baggy GI surplus pants held up with red suspenders. His hair was always slicked back with something like Vaseline, but different because it never stayed put like the high school boys’ did. His basketball-sized face had this thin gray moustache like there were cigarette ashes balanced on his upper lip. Wichita Pete lived at the edge of the neighborhood, in a little tarpaper shack with its blackout curtains. Kids dared each other to ride bikes past his yard, or knock on his door and run away. If Mother had ever found out about that, she would have whipped me, but she was in charge of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, and always busy. I don’t know if Father would have cared, he pretended Wichita Pete’s house didn’t exist. Nobody seemed to know what Wichita Pete did with his time, but somebody heard that he was once the meanest gangster in Kansas City.

There was one time, at the market, where I saw Pete shuffling down the aisle, razors in one hand, and a can of peas in the other. He stopped to look down at me, but I wanted him to move along, since I had been sneaking vanilla wafers right from the box, and had the evidence hidden behind my back. He kept looking at me, that ashy moustache of his quivering. He smelt of wood smoke and cesspit, with something else that I would later learn was lavender. We stared at each other for a while, and I knew he knew about the cookies. His runny eyes stared into mine, but I didn’t feel like he was going to yell at me about it, or get me in trouble. Instead, my arm was yanked out of its shoulder socket by Mother. The cookies dropped to the floor, still open, but she was dragging me down the aisle and hadn’t noticed.

“I didn’t say anything to him, Martha,” Wichita Pete said.

“Time to leave, Chester,” she said, and stared a mean one at Pete. I took one glance back, and saw him picking the box from the floor. Mother tanned my butt right there in the car, and I understood I was not to go near Pete again.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reunion

By Bettyann Moore

As far as Toby was concerned, leaving things to chance was not an option. It had been ten years since Georgie had set eyes on him and when she saw him again, he would be perfection personified. For 20 years he’d kicked himself for never telling her how he really felt about her, back when he had the chance, so she’d married someone else, moved away and the chance was gone. Until tomorrow.

Tomorrow was the Putnum High Class of 1995 20-year reunion. Georgie was a widow and was going to be there (he’d checked on both counts), Toby had dumped his lazy, meth-head wife years before, and there would be a full moon. Everything good that ever happened to Toby happened during a full moon. He should have known better to marry the meth-head; they’d met during a new moon.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sins and Accolades


Author note:  This is an urban fantasy story featuring characters from the story Carne Fresco

The boy: nine or ten, snarls and thrashes at the bed sheets tying him to iron bedposts. His bloodshot eyes roll in darkened sockets and he gurgles black speech with a voice deeper than any human ought to produce. The priest: Bible held over his heart with one hand, eyes closed, Latin rites on his lips. His other hand quivers, sending the crucifix twirling in circles on its silver chain over the boy’s head. My hand: steady, holding the priest’s head in my pistol’s iron sights.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sales Job

By Bettyann Moore
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

“It’s only for one year,” Darla Wilson told her reflection in the mirror. “One year isn’t going to kill you.”

As she applied the last swoops of mascara, she heard her dear departed husband’s voice in her head: “That which doesn’t kill you may make you stronger, but it’s still attempted murder.” Darla laughed, as she’d done so many times at Bernie’s wit. She threw the tube into her makeup kit and sighed. Oh, how she missed that man, now more than ever. If Bernie hadn’t died, she wouldn’t be prepping herself to become C.F. Pratt’s newest sales clerk.