Friday, November 29, 2013

Queen of Acapulco - Part I

By Bettyann Moore

Anywhere, Rhonda thought, I want to be anywhere, but here.

She had just left her mother-in-law’s house. No, ex-mother-in-law’s house. No, that wasn’t it. Former? Still? What did one call one’s mother-in-law once the tie that bound them is dead?

Rhonda’s head swam. She preferred the numbness of the last week. She aimed her car toward town, trying not to think. To feel.

She saw a sign, yanked the steering wheel, the cars behind her squealing their brakes as she crossed two lanes of traffic. An empty spot in front of the building, her first break in eons.

Fantasy Destinations the sign declared. Rhonda only saw the words “destinations” and “open.” She needed a destination. Now.

She swept into the tiny office, startling the young man whose eyes had been glued to his monitor. He barely had time to minimize the porn site before the wild-eyed redhead was upon him.

“M … may I help you?” he stammered. He couldn’t stand to greet her, not at that point.

Rhonda ignored him as her eyes scanned the walls behind him. Cool, blue-green water beckoned. Palm trees swayed. She could almost smell the ocean.

Never taking her eyes off one of the posters, she demanded, “Where can I go right now?”

“The Cayman’s are hot right now,” the young man said, spiel at the ready.

“But can I go there now?” Rhonda insisted.

Friday, November 22, 2013


by Colleen Sutherland

You ask, how did I wind up here? Well sir, it all began with a turkey.

A year ago I announced to my seven children that I wanted to go to a restaurant to avoid the annual Thanksgiving dinner “At my age, I shouldn't have to put up with this.” I meant it. After 59 years of drunkenness, abuse and infidelity, my husband was finally gone. I wanted quiet and time for myself in my remaining years.

Then in mid-November, I got the call from the local television station to congratulate me. I had won a 25 pound turkey.

“I didn't enter any contest,” I told Ruth, my eldest.

“Oh we all entered your name for you,” she explained. “We figured this year you wouldn't have to pay for it and we could have Thanksgiving at your house after all.”

“It didn't have anything to do with the cost! I didn't want to do Thanksgiving ever again!”

“Too late. All the travel plans have been made. Lois and her family are flying in from Idaho. Paul is driving overnight from Minneapolis. We'll be there as usual. But don't worry about it, you make the turkey and we'll bring the rest.”

And so there I was at 5:00 on Thanksgiving morning, a seventy nine year old woman preparing a 25 pound bird. I waited for one of the children or grandchildren to come to help, but they never did. I wound up cramming it into the oven on my own. I felt my muscles tear. I would have to schedule a trip to the chiropractor.

They began to arrive at 11:30. The first was Ruth who came in with a pumpkin pie. She was followed by Mary-Margaret with another pumpkin pie.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Balanced Approach

Photo by Nilfanion via Wikimedia Commons

Author's Note: This story features a paranormal lawman, a talking knife, and is rated M for "Mature." For other stories featuring these characters, check out Carne Fresco right here on the blog.

If you go to a certain parking garage and enter the elevator, you will find yourself selecting between four buttons set into a sheet of scratched stainless steel. The panel is crooked, letting the lights behind the buttons seep out and destroy the illusion that technology is somehow elegant and flawless. You notice the magical light behind the panel is just a cheap light bulb with dusty wires looped around a plastic clip. You wonder if it’s even a good idea to be in an elevator to begin with, to trust your life to something so simple and easily broken. Shouldn’t it have computer chips or something? How old is it? Maybe you should leave it alone and use the stairs instead. That’s the safe choice, the one most people choose.

The idiots seem to believe that something as old as this elevator must be good for one more trip, and punch their floor. Death spares them once more, and the elevator delivers them without incident. They alight, mentally congratulating themselves for being so brave. At least that’s what I think goes on in their heads. Either way, all that matters is that no one lingers in this elevator for long.

When the doors close, I insert a key in the fireman’s slot, and punch out a pattern on the buttons. The elevator goes down four floors farther than it should. When the doors open, I’m greeted by three hundred and seventy pounds of muscle, fur, and teeth dressed in jeans and a Black Sabbath concert shirt.

“ ‘Lo, Angus,” says Tusk, putting down a book, “What the hell happened to your face?” 

Friday, November 8, 2013


By Bettyann Moore

I think I’m brain-dead,” Porpoise McAllister muttered.

On the picnic table before him, 150 Ways to Play Solitaire lay open to Osmosis, the 29th game Porpoise was trying to learn that morning. He wasn’t having much luck. It had been his mother’s idea to come here; he would have much preferred the cool dankness of his basement retreat to the noise and sunshine of the town’s only park. He would have even preferred working on the farm, but he was supposed to be studying for his SATs and his father had declared the month of July “farm-free,” at least for Porpoise.

Just look at yourself, Leslie!” his mother had cried. “You’re as white as a ghost!”

She had surprised him, sneaking down the basement steps with that look of disgust on her face that said “I should have turned this space into a rumpus room.” He was just thankful that he had finally gotten around to filing away his collection of magazines – alphabetized under various fantasies – and that he hadn’t been in the throes of passionate reading when she had descended upon him.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Christmas Spirit

“Bill! Get those pumpkins off the porch and take down the orange lights.” It was November First and Beatrice was ready.

Bill had promised to love Beatrice until death did them part but he thought he should have inserted an exclusionary clause exempting him from Christmas and the months preceding. But there was nothing he could do about it after forty years. He had his marching orders.

He packed the plastic pumpkins and orange lights into boxes and drove his pickup over to their double storage unit to pick up Christmas. The boxes and bins he loaded up were marked numbers from 1 to 40. Nos. 1 through 25 had to be delivered to the spare bedroom for Beatrice to sort through. For the two months, forget about the calendar. It was Christmas.

His next assignment was to open the first box which held the big inflatable turkey beside the house. It was a mere sop, a side show to the spectacle that was about to follow. Beatrice had given up on Thanksgiving which is more about food than decor. That last Thursday in November, they always took their sons out to the Country Buffet until they married. Her daughters- in-law rebelled and took over the feast in their own homes. None of them felt there was any point in going to Bill and Beatrice's house at all until until Christmas. That was fine with Bernice. Her eyes were set on bigger things.

By the second day in November, Bill was on a ladder putting up the exterior lights. There were the icicle lights that dropped from the eaves. There were the strands of big bulbs that had to be wound around the nine spruces. Each year the trees got taller. In another year he would have hire a cherry picker to wind them to the top where the golden stars waited. As long as he was up there he hung the giant ball ornaments Beatrice collected each year at the citywide rummage sales. As it grew darker, Bill set up the dozen small pre-lit trees that lined the driveway. It was only day two and he was exhausted and wishing he only had twelve days of Christmas to contend with.