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July 28, 2018
Mystery Stories Roger Ley

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July 28, 2018
Flash Fiction Rekha Viswanathan

Pills and Capsules

I wake up to a crisp, clear and sunny morning. The fresh coffee smell beside my bed tempts me. One long sip of the coffee and my senses kick in! I have a long day ahead. At least that's what the papers at the foot of my bed say. Glancing at the paper I see…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Stephen A Murray

Russia,Russia,Russia.

There existed in Russia a small group of intelligence operatives left over from the KGB. They are known as Sputniks. From Wikipedia: "Sputnik was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on October…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Paul Anobile

A Portrait of Slam Bang City

I was hired to paint the portrait of a billionaire who founded a small city twenty years ago in a ghost town he purchased in Arizona. Danny O’Keefe, professional wrestling promoter and executive, convinced a number of investors to build a fourteen-thousand…
July 28, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Majoki

The Deadest Generation

Sergeant Taylor always checked us thoroughly before sending us in: regulation uniform, backpacks, anti-ballistic helmets, Kevlar vests, and, of course, your gun. You couldn’t go anywhere in this place and be safe without your gun. Sergeant Taylor was strict…
July 28, 2018
General Stories J.B.Stevens

Dead Camel

The improvised explosive popped off to the convoy’s left. The armored black Suburban Neil drove muffled the sound to a dull thud. The blast seemed smaller than normal. “Anyone hurt?” the medic, Luiz, called across the radio. The team members, in four matching…
July 28, 2018
Romance Stories Jerry Hogan

He'll Ask Me To Dance Again

Jay I’m Jay, and I have never been to the My Time Dance Studio before tonight. As I entered, the interior projected a garish 1930s Art Deco motif. Greenish, glow-in-the-dark, semilucent plastic tubing wrapped around the hand railings separating one sitting…
July 28, 2018
General Stories Jim Bartlett

The Comebacker

Cornstalk stretches forward, the look almost as if he’s about to fall headfirst off the mound, saved only by the slapping of his left hand to his knee. He locks eyes with his catcher, then lets his gaze wander down just below his glove for the sign. Uncle…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Susan C. Nigra

Never Kill The Author

Oh My God! What’s happening? This has never happened before. I am cornered, trapped, boxed in with no safe way out. There has always been a way out before, miraculous last minute saves. I think back to how I got here and I remember I was assigned this case as…
July 28, 2018
Crime Stories Thomas Schmidt

The Streets of Camden

Saturday night was cold and wet. Mike Joseph walked cautiously down Norris Street on his way to the Whitman Park Field, a large green space inside the depressed neighborhood. Propositioned twice by street walkers, he kept moving while shifting his head from…
July 13, 2018
Mystery Stories Rekha Viswanathan

The Enchanted Woods

The boys are on a trip. A trip into the woods. Accompanied by their family they trudge along a narrow path, a route that had obviously been traced by human footsteps, a trail that had been trodden many a time. They walk cautiously, startled by the snap of a…
July 13, 2018
Flash Fiction Carl Perrin

What Could go Wrong

If you plan every detail carefully, nothing can go wrong. I believed that when I was a teenager. Like the time Billy Long and I decided to make our own beer. Once in a while we used to steal a couple of Billy’s father’s beers, but we were always afraid we…

 

 

New York City

December 26, 1950

The Ashland Hotel is a dump in a rundown area of the city. I live in a one-room apartment, two rooms if you include the bathroom, with my common-law husband, sometime cab driver, Joe Davies.  The hotel is a perfect setting for a murder.

 

Aser Thorson is some Swedish guy Joe had picked up in his cab earlier in the evening.  Thorson lives on the same floor as us, but we had never met. Joe is a talkative sort who is always bragging to people that his wife had danced with Rudolph Valentino, been in the Ziegfeld Follies and starred in silent movies.  I guess Thorson wanted to meet me.

No one bothered to ask me what I thought, so when they show up, I didn’t know what is going on.  But the sight of two whiskey bottles and some beer in a stranger’s arms made for warm introductions.  He was about 45, tall, dirty blond hair, lanky and smelled like fruit trees.  I found out later he was an apple picker and worked in a cider factory.

After listening to Joe’s stories, I could see Thorson is disappointed when they come in.  I guess he is expecting some raving beauty instead he gets a 50 year old woman with frizzy red  hair and a puffy face.  Years of drinking had destroyed any beauty I once had.  Joe had to get back to his cab and would not be home until 7am.  I don’t know what he was thinking leaving me alone with a stranger and a lot of hours to kill.  The liquor would help pass the time.

“Call me Aser,” he said.  I said he could call me Evelyn.

He suggests we go to his apartment down the hall.  We grab the bottles and walk the few steps to his place. It is much cleaner than mine.  The table isn’t littered with empty beer bottles and the sink isn’t stacked with dirty dishes.  I had given up cleaning my apartment long ago and left the job to Joe.  I didn’t have the energy anymore.

The evening wore on with more drinking and listless conversation.  Aser is a nervous character. He’s constantly snapping his fingers and toe-tapping to imaginary music. The more he drinks the edgier he becomes; I‘m too drunk to think anything of his actions.  I’m sitting there enjoying another whiskey, when he starts making demands.

“Joe said you were a chorus girl in the Follies,” he said,

“Show me how you danced.”

“What do you mean how I danced?”

“You know - the Follies and Valentino.”

“That was a long time ago, I don’t remember the routines.  And besides, I danced a tango with Valentino. It isn’t a dance you do by yourself.”

He gets up from his chair and turns the radio on.  After twisting the dial a few times he finds a station that isn’t playing Christmas music.

“Now you can dance.”

I didn’t feel like dancing or thinking of the Follies.  Thinking of the past always makes me melancholy.  I keep those days wrapped up in my mind like prized possessions stored in a trunk. The memories aren’t to be shared with a stranger. In those days, I was the “It” girl of the Follies even headlining at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.  Then later I’m the “It” girl of silent films being groomed by a top director for starring roles.  Movie critics and casting agents always mentioned my name and wrote, “Watch for Evelyn Ayres she’s going to be a star.”

Tucked away with those memories is my dance with Valentino - a tango.  It radiates a raw sexuality that made me the envy of a lot of actresses and I still live it over and over in my mind.  I can’t start thinking about those days and push the memories back in that area of my mind that stays closed.  I’m not going to allow the present to interfere with the past.

I’m thinking of leaving when Aser pours me a drink, then another and another.  Before I know it, I’m so high on booze, that I actually think I can remember the dance routines.  Aser notices the difference.

“You feel like dancing now?” he said.

I stumble from my chair and try to hum “Look for the Silver Lining” from Sally a Ziegfeld musical I was in back in the 20’s.  Holding a glass full of whiskey, I close my eyes and with the

song playing in my head attempt some of the dance moves.  I’m whirling, around and around with visions of being on the Ziegfeld stage with thousands of people watching, then I crash into the table sending bottles and ashtrays flying through the air.  I’m looking at Aser and he doesn’t move.  He’s sitting there with beer dripping down his shirt and a disgusted look on his face. I laugh.

I always seem to laugh at the wrong moment; evidently Aser didn’t have a sense of humor.  The room resembles a scene from a slapstick movie minus the pies - and the more I think about it, the louder I laugh until Aser suddenly stands up and slams his hand on the table.  That gets my attention and the laughter stops.  He hurt his hand and I am happy to see that it is his finger-snapping hand.  All that toe-tapping and finger-snapping gets on a person’s nerves.

He didn’t bother to sit back down, instead he begins pacing back and forth, kicking the bottles and ash trays out of his path. He’s not saying anything and I’m getting worried.  I’m thinking now is the time to leave.  Just as I begin to stand he reaches over and pushes me back into the chair.

“Get your hands off me I’m leaving,” I said. I try to stand.

“You can’t leave,” he shouts, and grabs my arms and jerks me from the chair. I’m trying to wrestle my way out of his grasp, but he holds me tighter.

“Let me go,” I scream in his face.  “The neighbors can hear us and they’ll call the cops.”  I begin to panic, “Joe will be home soon I remind Aser, he’ll wonder where I am.”

“Joe doesn’t care, he calls you a whore,” blurts Aser.  “Lots of men pay to sleep with you. Why do you think Joe told me about you?  Why do you think he took me to your apartment?  Why do you think I brought you here?  To see you tango?”  It is his turn to laugh; I guess he does have a sense of humor.

I’m not shocked by what he says, I’m mad!  Mad at Joe for thinking he can make money as a pimp and mad at Aser for thinking I’m an easy lay.  The anger keeps building until I’m on fire.

I scream in Aser’s face “Look you son of a bitch, I choose who I sleep with and it’s not some apple picker who smells like rotten fruit!”

I didn’t see the punch coming and like the books say “I see stars”.  Bright flickers of light are bouncing around my head.  My nose is bleeding and drops are dribbling down my lips.  My tongue makes an inventory of my teeth and nothing is loose or missing.  My vision is blurred and Aser is a hazy image looming over me.

“Get up,” said Aser, yanking on my arm.

I’m slow getting up and I stagger to my feet. The room is moving in a kaleidoscope of colors and I’m weaving with it; such a peaceful feeling like floating on air.  I want to go back to my apartment, lie on the bed and forget about this evening, but I can hear Aser’s voice.

“Take off your clothes,” he demands.

“I’m not that drunk,” I tell him and I wobble towards the door.  He reaches out and picks me up and throws me on the bed.

“I paid $10 dollars for a fuck and I’m getting one,” he whispers in my ear.

Sobriety kicks in, and I’m fighting for my life.  Aser is on top of me pulling at my clothes. I’m pushing and screaming, but he shoves a scarf in my mouth and holds my arms down.  He winds a handkerchief around my neck and I can feel it getting tighter and tighter.  The last thought I have is hearing a tango blaring from the radio and I am dancing with Valentino.

 

End

 

 

I’m 72 and this is one of many stories I have written.  I write because I enjoy it.

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