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Latest Stories

July 28, 2018
Mystery Stories Roger Ley

The Wheel Fiddle

The melody drifted across the garden as she was picking fruit to make a summer pudding. She put down her basket, wiped the sweat from her forehead and walked around to the front of the cottage. The man stood waiting at her garden gate, he raised his cap. He…
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…

 

 

Bathing in the light of magnesium, the shrine resembled a giant lamp drawing moths from the darkness, glowing brighter for the poorest of moths like Daniel standing by the gate.  He looked at the buildings behind him as if he could see his father in their hovel, sleeping away his latest binge drinking.  Then he remembered that he was in a city away from his father and his belt and broom.  He looked behind him one last time before walking inside on his good leg.

 

Dan, get dressed. His mother used to whisper to him.  We’re going to Baclaran.  Daniel would immediately abandon his toys and playmates for the shrine that her mother and other people called Baclaran.  He had asked his mother if it was Sunday because all that he could see from the shrine’s gate were people.  Wednesday was her reply.

After cutting through the thicket of worshippers that stood between the gate and the church, she would unravel her chaplet at the narthex and kneel, approaching the altar on her knees.  He would walk behind her, sometimes cheering her when she was faltering, oftentimes hopping on the aisle’s beige and green tiles.

Sometimes they would reach Baclaran close to suppertime and she would finish her weekly devotion late at night. Those were the nights when he would see the ragamuffins and homeless elderly retaking the shrine like natives reoccupying their land after the invaders’ departure.  He heard the children laugh more than talk, and their laughter could jolt the bereaved back to living.  They called playfully to him more than once.  His mother’s chastising look burned each invitation.

Daniel and his mother had witnessed the shrine’s Liguorian Congregation rolling out casseroles of soup and watched the elderly queuing serenely while the snickering children would push one another off the line.

Just one bowl, mama. The aroma of the soup was so thick and inviting.  They’re so excited to eat it.

I’ll tell your papa.

After Daniel’s mother had left her mortal shell, many Wednesdays passed without him straying to within sight of Baclaran.

It was not a Wednesday, so Daniel could see the church from the gate.  Baclaran was wearing the same beige paint and none of the outlying buildings looked new.  Children were frolicking in the courtyard but they had adults hovering nearby.  He looked deeper, sighing from not finding a ragamuffin.  He strode inside on his good leg, the left leg unmolested by his father’s belt.  His right limb was leathery from the welts that ranged from his knee to his ankle, with some old and fresh welts forming hazy boundaries.  Ridges of skin thickened by the belt also crisscrossed his upper limbs and torso.

Daniel limped around the church, checking every pew where soiled blankets covered snoring bodies.  He looked closer and saw that they were the homeless elderly.  He saw children in the church, but they were clean and escorted by an adult.  Where are you? He sat on a pew and scratched a fresh welt on his right knee, his father’s reward to him for leaving their supper’s dishes on the sink.  Beside it was skin broken by his belt when Daniel did not wash the laundry.  His calf was tender where his father had pummeled him with a broom for feeling dust biting at his bare soles after ordering Daniel to sweep the floor.  Yet he was not a total beast to Daniel.

A boy and girl were playing on the chancel, waving at the altar and the portrait of a woman above the tabernacle his mother called Mama Mary.  Daniel thought of joining the children, but a man called them.  The boy genuflected while the girl blew a kiss to the altar before jumping off the chancel.  One by one, the washed children were heading to their clean homes and beds.

Daniel circled the courtyard.  It was free of the playing children and the spot where the Liguorians served soup was clean.  Where are you? He whimpered.  He thought of screaming to attract them but his mother’s screams in her battles with his father had brought half of their shantytown to their doorstep.

With his eyelids coming together more frequently and sticking together longer, he returned to the pew and stretched on the varnished plank.  Baclaran never closes its doors.  His mother had said when he asked her where the homeless go at midnight.

The wild children could frolic around him, but he would not run and play with them tonight.  He would seek them in the morning.  Perhaps they would remember him as the boy with the woman in the sweater.  Many devotees had sinned from taking humorously at his mother’s wearing a sweatshirt in summer.  If only they knew of the bruises and welts beneath the warm fabric.  If only.

 

END

 

BIONOTE: Prospero is from the Philippines where he works at home and tries to write fiction when he can. His prose and poetry have appeared in print and online local and foreign publications.

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