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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…

 

 

The van rolls through the stop sign, turning right without so much as a signal. Patrolman Kendle heaves a sigh and tips back his cup for a final sip of too-strong coffee that's long past anything resembling warm. He starts the motor and shoots out from under the shade of a tree, flicking on the lights and giving the siren a quick chirp.

Nestling up behind the van on the soft shoulder, he grabs his ticket book. He'd thought staking out that corner would be a waste of time, but, good lord, this makes his third boulevard stop of the morning.

Or, as some of the snowbirds call 'um: Rhode Island rollers.

For a moment he sits, his eyes on the still palm trees to the side. Not a stitch of wind, puffy gray clouds splattered against the pale blue sky, and probably no more than seventy degrees out there.

Perfect fishing weather.

He takes in a long deep breath and climbs out of the patrol car. Five more years until retirement. Man, is he really going to be able to do this for five more years?

As he sidles up to the passenger side window he gives his sagging pants a quick tug--Lena was on him about his weight yet again last night--then nods to the driver, a younger man with hair that hangs over his ears and a plain-looking shirt that doesn't match his plaid pants.

"Morning." He stretches back, noting the Florida State University seal on the van's door. "You mind taking off the sunglasses?"

"Oh. Sorry. No problem."

Kendle waits until the man sets the glasses on the dash, then leans into the window. "Not sure how things work over in Tallahassee, but here in Jacksonville those funny looking red signs give reason for most of us to stop. You in some kinda hurry, son?"

"Sorry, officer. My mind musta been a thousand miles away."

"I'd say so."

Kendle, noting a bit of hesitation in the man's voice, feels a twitch in his gut. Cop gut, as Mack, his partner for twenty years, used to say. He leans in closer, putting an elbow through the open window.

The van, one of the passenger types, has a bench seat just behind the driver, but the back is open. Other than a couple of candy wrappers loose on the floor, there's not much for Kendle to see.

Yet something about the driver gnaws at his innards.

"You ain't been drinking, now have ya son?"

"Me?" The man chuckles, yet continues to look straight ahead. "No, sir. Little too early for that. But, after explaining this ticket tonight, I'll probably do me a six-pack good and quick."

The driver turns his head--only for the briefest of moments--and Kendle pretends to smile, but he makes sure to catch a peek at the man's pupils. He almost feels disappointed when they seem about right; in fact the driver's eyes aren't in the slightest bit bloodshot.

But...

"Well, alight then. License and registration, please."

The young man digs out his wallet and passes the license over the seat, trying hard not to meet the patrolman's eyes. "There's that, but I'm not sure where they keep the registration in these vans." He reaches over to the glove box and fumbles through some papers, before giving up and tipping down the sun visor, "Ah-ha."

Kendle takes the paper, still in its holder, and nods to the driver. He rubs a hand to the back of his sweaty neck, then moves it to his stomach.

Cop gut.

"Don't go nowhere. I'll be right back."

With a slow shuffle he moves back to his patrol car and plops into the seat. Pursing his lips, he lets off a low whistle, his eyes on the back of the van. What's up with the driver, anyway? Hell, he's a handsome young guy, probably quite the ladies' man, no doubting that. But, on the other side, young and stupid may be more the case. Telling a cop you're gonna pound a sixer?

And there's just something else...

He rubs his belly one more time, and then grabs the mike, ready to call in the license and registration. But before he can click the transmitter, the radio squawks to life.

"Hank, you still over near the park?"

"Ten-four," he replies.

"Can you git over to the city parking lot? Some creep pretending to be a fire chief or something tried picking up Parmenter's fourteen-year-old daughter."

"Holy shit," tumbles out of his mouth before he can even think. He sucks in a breath trying to gather his composure and keys the mike one more time. "I'm on my way."

Springing from the car, he jogs back to side of the van. As he steps to the open window he holds the Colorado license up for a last look at the driver's name.

"Well, Mr. Theodore Bundy, this here's your lucky day. I'm off on another call. But I've got a funny feeling about you, so I'm gonna keep an eye out. For now, be a little more careful with your driving and watch them stop signs, you hear?"

"I guarantee it, officer. You have my word."

Jim Bartlett lives in Southern California with his wife and golden retriever - (shhhh - she doesn't know she's a dog).

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