Friday, December 11, 2015

Demons - Part I

By Bettyann Moore
Image courtesy Wiki Commons

Rufus drove. Rufus always drove.

“How come you always get to drive?” Bud complained. He took the last swig of his beer and flung the bottle out the window where it smashed against a live oak. He hooted and reached between his feet to pull another out of the carton.

“That's why.”

“What? What's why?” Bud had already forgotten the question. He took a long pull from the long neck.

Rufus nodded at the bottle in his friend's meaty hand.

“You forget what Sheriff Dalton said last time?” Rufus asked.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Roommates

Image by Fanghong via Wikimedia Commons
Author's Note: The first part of this story was previously published on the blog. You can find it here.

Back at the house, I managed to pass through the door on the third try.

"So was I killed here? In the house?" I asked Darius.

He flopped to the floor and stretched out. His tail thumped against the floor in a manner I took to mean he was thinking.

"Yes, I believe you were. I wasn't around at the time."

I stared at him for a moment, waiting for him to go on. He stared back at me.

"And?" I prompted.

"And what?" he said.

"And where were you?"

He sighed. "I was out doing business. It's not like I have any obligation to see what you were up to at all hours of the day, Roy.”

"What business was it you were doing?"

"My own." He gave his tail a mighty thump.

"Okay. But I was alive when you left?'

He sighed. "You had gone out. When I arrived later, you were transitioning into a Monad in the bathroom."

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tiny Mercies

By Bettyann Moore

Rare, progressive and untreatable.

Ardys White repeated the words over and over.

“Rare, progressive and untreatable,” she said, then gave a wry snort. “Reminds me of that old movie with the kid and the scarecrow. “Lions, tigers and … what was that other one?” she mused. “Right, lions, tigers and bears, oh my. Rare, progressive and untreatable, oh my!”

Talking to herself was just something Ardys did. There was no other human in the house, no cat, no dog, and there never would be.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vikings Aren't Dumb: A Tale of the Afterlife

Image by Sven-Steffen Arndt via Wikimedia Commons

Author Note: This story is the first chapter of a novel. 

I was surprised to wake up in the bathtub because I only took showers. Events would overshadow this first fact of the day, and its significance would only come back to me later. I found myself fully dressed in my only suit, the one that served for weddings, interviews, and funerals. The wedding ring I had buried at the back of a dresser drawer fit loosely on my left hand and an old watch was strapped around my wrist. At least I was dry.

I tried remembering my last thoughts before waking, but everything seemed far away. I wasn’t even sure if I had gone to bed the night before. Was I dreaming? I didn’t think so. Hallucinating? Not likely. I lived a pretty clean life: no drugs, no meat, and hardly ever alcohol. What time was it? My watch said 10:10. Where was my phone?

I got up and stomped my foot farther into my shoe. It wasn’t tied with my slip-proof knot, just a normal shoe knot that I had abandoned at the age of 12. And as I moved around, my underwear was slightly twisted and there were sock wrinkles trapped under my feet. I looked in the mirror, expecting to see a moustache, kitty whiskers, or profanity drawn on with marker. My face was unblemished, apart from the hooked nose that I could blame on no one but my parents. My hair wasn’t even mussed, and the circles under my eyes from too many nights at the office had faded. I had to admit that I looked better than I had in months. I winked at myself in the mirror and opened the bathroom door.

I stumbled and scraped my knuckles on the doorjamb. The cat at my feet had long grey and black fur, and was the size of a small dog. It rolled to its back and looked up at me.

“Darius?” I said. This wasn’t right. Darius had died of leukemia, and was buried in the back yard.

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Boy in Love

Image courtesy WikiCommons
Image courtesy WikiCommons

By Bettyann Moore

On the first day of kindergarten, Porpoise McAllister fell in love. That’s to be expected when a boy leaves his mother’s side for the first time, but it wasn’t his teacher, Ms. Pride, he fell for, though plenty of the other boys, and many of the girls, did. And it wasn’t little Jeannie Hesacker, the doe-eyed brunette whose pink fake fur coat hung on the peg next to his. It wasn’t even a boy-crush on Jason Moyer who towered at least a head above the other 5-year-olds and who had “Most Likely to Break Many Hearts” written all over his face.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Mainstream Geek

Image by Ron Riccio via Wikimedia Commons

A red-faced girl of no more than four stared at Melvin. In her hand, chocolate ice cream flowed from her cone over her fingers, dripping onto her dad’s Jedi robes. Dad, oblivious to his mounting dry-cleaning bill, held his daughter in one arm and held out his phone with the other, recording the spectacle of Darth Vader and his stormtroopers gyrating to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Melvin stumbled, and stutter-stepped back into position, knowing that the mistake would not go unnoticed. The girl fixed her gaze on him and pointed. A bead of sweat rolled into his eyes as he spun around, and Mevlin wished for the thousandth time the park would have provided ventilated suits to offset the hot Florida sun. He finished his dance with a heel-stomp a half beat behind the others; the music ended and applause began. Dad put the little girl down and fiddled with his phone. She waved at him, then extended her arm palm out and spread her fingers so that they formed a V between the middle and ring fingers: the Vulcan salute.

Melvin wished, also for the thousandth time, that the park would have provided working blasters. Tourist scum.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Spring Break

This month, Bettyann and I are taking a break from writing new material. While we're on vacation, we will be posting favorites from the past that until now were only available through our books on Amazon.  This week, a story from Colleen Sutherland that first appeared in the journal Rosebud.

As always, we like to hear from our readers, so please let us know what stories you'd like to see more of, either here on the blog or at our Facebook page.


continue on to:  A Candle in the Window

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Birds Are Disappearing - Conclusion

By Bettyann Moore

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have taken that last shot at Larry. Things would have turned out very differently, at least for some.

Mrs. Oddstetter was pleased to see me, though she still wanted an audience with her great-nephew. She forgot all that, though, once I told her about the holograms and the birds’ refusal to migrate.

“I knew it!” she said. “I just knew there was something rotten going on, thanks to my good-for-nothing great-nephew and those of his ilk.” She gave me a nasty look, then picked up an old-fashioned rotary phone. I watched, fascinated, as she dialed. It seemed to take forever just to make one call, especially when she messed up and had to start all over again. She waved me away when I held out my cell phone to her. I wandered around the grand living room, admiring the antiques and paintings; the lady was loaded.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Birds Are Disappearing - Part II

By Bettyann Moore

There’s little reason to go into how I managed to get access to Larry and to the place he works, a place that most people don’t even realize exists. Most couldn’t fathom the work he does there anyway. Suffice it to say that this town runs on favors and I called a few in.

Larry’s room was two doors down from mine at the frat house. He was brilliant and the go-to man for any math or science questions. We weren’t close, but I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time one frigid December night and kept him out of big, big trouble. Like most people with a debt to pay, Larry began avoiding me, moved out of the frat house and changed schools. I never saw him again. I kept track of him, though.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Birds are Disappearing - Part I

By Bettyann Moore

It’s up to me, I guess, to tell the real story, to set the record straight as the Senator used to say, only when he said it, one could be sure it was all kinds of skewed. I didn’t know that at first, of course. This wide-eyed poli-sci major fresh out of college and tapped for the position of administrative assistant to Senator R_______ of the great State of M_______ would have been happy just shining his shoes. Looking back, being the Official Shiner of Shoes would have been a blessing.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Image via Wikimedia Commons

The children screamed and rhymed as the merry-go-round spun, each taking a turn (or not) at jumping down and pumping their legs around the dusty track when the group had fallen below some arbitrary but important minimum speed. The less adventurous pumped back and forth on the swings or clambered around the jungle gym. At the edges, in the shade, parents watched (or didn’t watch) from benches.

Mark sat next to Lauren, watching a girl hop down from the merry-go-round and wind the group up. Mark, in dark jeans and gold-swirled shirt, sat with his arms folded and his ankle resting over a knee. He twirled the pointed toe of his dark cowboy boot in time to his daughter’s circuits on the merry-go-round. Lauren sat with an elbow propped on the back of the bench and rested her head on a wrist. Her legs curled behind her on the bench and she watched the playground through dark sunglasses, though an observer would be hard-pressed to know whether her eyes were on her kids or Mark.

“I know you were sleeping with her,” Lauren said.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?

By Bettyann Moore
Image Courtesy of WikiCommons

Brian McAllister loathed sports of all kinds, so he wasn’t about to do it. Besides, he was too busy on the farm. Thea, poor Thea, who’d once gotten beaned in the head by a foul ball while sitting behind home plate, had a pathological – though understandable – fear of the game, so that was out. And Grandpa McAllister? He, too, was too busy on the farm, but his secret reason had more to do with the fact that he was jealous of Joe DiMaggio. It was complicated. 

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


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.