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Latest Stories

December 09, 2018
Mystery Stories Wally Smith

Body of Evidence

Crime Scene Tours Ltd. had built their business, some would say, on the basis of appealing to people’s morbid curiosity for grisly acts of murder, and Liz and Colin Stevenson therefore had no qualms at all about conducting tours around the scenes of the most…
December 02, 2018
General Stories John L. Yelavich

Aesthetic Shock

Allie is delicate and gentle, waif-like in her presence. Her luminescent smile frames an image that seems so lighthearted. A sense of reality cannot disguise my enamored, whimsical feelings. I rhapsodize her essence in my affectionate mind excursions. She…
December 02, 2018
Fantasy Stories Vidal Martinez

The Purpose of Life

The front door slowly creaks open just as I reach to touch it with my cold, stiff hand. I stand still, hesitant, wanting to walk away, but finally I peek into the house, and through the darkness of the old Victorian home is a shadow of a flickering light from…
December 02, 2018
Fantasy Stories Pat Tyrer

It's All Relative

Before I get started talking about what I did, and why I did, what I did, I need to explain that Harold was no prize. He retired from John Deere because he couldn’t get along with the guy who worked next to him on the line. Not the supervisor, mind you, but…
December 02, 2018
Crime Stories J.D.Plummer

What Goes Around Comes Around

It was 12:45AM on a Tuesday. The old TV in the corner was playing some idiotic sitcom rerun. The ball game had gone into extra innings, but had basically ended a half hour before. There was a couple sitting at the table in the corner, having wandered in…
December 01, 2018
Crime Stories Nicholas Tomsko

Special Delivery

“BE THERE IN 5 MINUTES”...Tammy hit the SEND button and tossed the cell phone. It made a thud as it bounced off of the passenger seat. She hated the feeling of things in her pockets and never used a purse. Cruising the highway during a mild September…
December 01, 2018
Fantasy Stories Marie Anderson

Epiphany

After the meeting, Leo hurried back to his office and filled his briefcase and pockets with everything that mattered. His company mug brimmed with cold coffee. He poured the coffee over his PC’s keyboard, then threw the mug at a framed portrait mounted on the…
December 01, 2018
Romance Stories James Ross

Bones

‘Park here,’ Leo said, ‘We’re early and I’d like to sit in the sunshine for a while.’ Michael parked the car in one of the empty bays and went to purchase a ticket. When he got back to the car Leo was standing by the door grinning broadly. 'See!' he said.…
December 01, 2018
Mystery Stories Virginia Revel

The Shape I'm In

“Good morning, Mr. McCord.” “Good morning Dr. Porter,” I say, inclining my head slightly in his direction. His answering nod pays tribute to my quiet self-possession. I show him no hostility, but I do not pretend he is my friend. There will be no heartiness…
December 01, 2018
General Stories Jesse McKinnell

Hi, My Name is Mark

The drug store stretched out in front of Mark like a fun house, dizzying in its array of colors and textures and smells. Racks filled with Halloween candy, masks and plastic pumpkins sat in front, requiring shoppers to battle through their compulsions before…
December 01, 2018
General Stories Roger Ley

Harley

“It’s in here,” said Martin as he unlocked the door of the old, dilapidated wooden shed. “My dad lets me use this as a garage.” The shed was sited on the edge of the golf course that his father’s family owned. They went inside. It didn’t smell too bad, and it…
December 01, 2018
Science Fiction Stories Matt King

In Formation

Honking, the geese fly overhead in a giant V as the sky reddens in the late September dawn. Tralley watches them for a moment before continuing to unload the pickup truck outside the transmission tower high on the hill. Rucker fixating on his smartphone in…

 

 

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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