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Latest Stories

May 21, 2024
Mystery Stories Marvel Chukwudi Pephel

Plant Dreaming Of Sheep

Before I begin, let me set things straight. I'm the chord of delight in a vocal. My name is Lucy. I remember I was dead conflicted. I found myself screaming in a hotel room. What happened to Jon Watts in Nelson was my fault. My vision of life had changed,…
May 21, 2024
Fantasy Stories Paweł Markiewicz

The Birdies Part IV

Vienna. July 1, 2014 Tuesday. Afternoon At 3 p.m. the party ended. Mary quickly left the university building. The woman boarded a tram heading towards the Margareten district. The weather outside was truly summary. The July sun was shining. There wasn't a…
May 21, 2024
Flash Fiction Andre Gouyneau

The Cat's Pajamas

I like Kelvin, my master. He’s cool. I used to be a black and white kitten, but bit by bit my fur became multicoloured and my mind went a bit nuts. I’d consumed more of Kelvin’s leftovers that he’d dropped on the floor than organic cat biscuits. This diet…
May 21, 2024
Poetry Alejandro Casas

The Word

Spark. First light. Then sound. Like, singing of Tibetan bowls. Silence follows. Then loud and forceful pressure. Like, a chant of Tibetan horns. Smoothed right after, by AAAAUUUUMMMM; reverberates. Calming vibrations, rapture. AAAAUUUUMMMM; reverberates.…
May 21, 2024
Fantasy Stories Paweł Markiewicz

The Birdies Part III

Vienna. July 1, 2014 Tuesday On July 1, 2014, at the Institute of German Studies at the University of Vienna, there was a warm welcome among the professors of Paweł Kowalski, a Pole who was to become a researcher at the university in the new academic year.…
May 21, 2024
General Stories Robert Pook

Interview With A Starman

Hovering Krishna-like across the luxury surface of penthouse carpet, the silken presence that is Tom Cloak glides toward the rich, red leather armchair sourced at great pains on the star’s behalf. Tom reclines peaceful, composed, meditative. Violence and…
May 21, 2024
Poetry Austin Spradlin

Memories Of Us

We spent our afternoons on the monkey barsTraded and shared one another’s snacksYou were my best friend, and I was yoursWhat I’d give to have them days back.It’s the truth that we saw each other through dark timesNow I’m sitting here reminiscing on way back…
May 21, 2024
Flash Fiction David Nash

I Gave You Power

Something in how I lay exposed on the dresser when I should be concealed. The way the sun came in red and purple this morning, I felt it in my firing pin. Something is going down. Something to test my hammer. Something to break the monotony of Joey’s addled…
May 21, 2024
Fantasy Stories Paweł Markiewicz

The Birdies Part II

Los Angeles and Bodega Bay. June 25-28, 2014 In 2014, Mary's elderly cousin Cathy Brenner called and invited her to her wedding. Cathy met and fell in love with a nice sailor named Steven. Mary decided to visit Cathy in America. The woman also had another…
April 25, 2024
General Stories Michael Barlett

Dubious Provenance

CHAPTER ONE The grizzly old man watched through the window as a Jeep Cherokee approached along the pathway leading to his cabin. He had no clue as to who the visitor might be, although the person had been there many times before. Sadly, the old man was…
April 25, 2024
General Stories Robert Pook

Debut

Glossed red leather clatters into a hallowed wicket of willow, cracking the silence within storied stands of the ‘Home of cricket.’ M.C.C., Lord’s cricket ground, two hundred years of history. Centuries old celebration of appeal, and congratulation, echo…
April 25, 2024
Mystery Stories Kownain Sid

Don't Feel Bad When I Die

(Inspired by true events) Part one: The descent into darkness "Come on, sweetie, now is the time for a bedtime story," a man tells his daughter as he begins reading from a few papers he was carrying. "Today, David is meeting his former teacher, Pinky, after…

This isn’t a story about two sisters after the same man.  It’s a story about the same man after two sisters.

Rose and I are “Irish twins”, eleven months apart.  She’s brunette and I’m blonde and we’re both...well, let’s just say we have hourglass figures.  Which is why Mr. Knutsen won’t leave us alone.  He wants us to make TV commercials for him, wearing tight sweaters and short skirts and acting amazed at the great buys available at “Krolly Knutsen’s Kar Korral”.  But we refuse.  We Jeffries are good, honest girls, and we will not shill for Kreepy Knutsen.  No way.

Till the day we sit down, add up our bills, and realize we’ve got maybe a month before we crash and burn.

Rose looks at me and sighs.  “Maybe I can get evening shifts at 7-Eleven after I get off from Macy’s.”

“Then who’s going to watch Mom at night while I waitress?”

The thing is, there just aren’t that many jobs available near the freeway exit we call home.  One of us could look for work in the big city, but that would leave the other one responsible for Mom 24/7 and soon two Jeffries women would need round-the-clock care.

So the next day I unlock my mental chastity belt and go see Mr. Knutsen.  When he sees me, he smiles a “gotcha” smile.  “Well, look who’s here!  Come in, honey, come in!”

Shuddering slightly, I follow him into his tiny, cluttered office.  There’s an extremely cute guy at the computer.

“My nephew, Buck,” says Mr. K.

“‘Buck?”

“Short for ‘Buckminster’,” says the guy.   “Whatcha gonna do?”  He grins.  He’s wearing horn-rimmed glasses.  I like him already.

“Buck’s here to learn about the business,” says Mr. K.  “Use his fancy MBA in a....what’d’ya call it?”

“An internship.”

“Right!  He’s supposed to do projects for me....wait! wait!”  Mr. K. holds up his hand like a traffic cop.  “I just had a helluva idea!  Buck!  You can work on our TV ads with Roxie here and her sister!”

“Roxanne,” I say through gritted teeth.  But Mr. K. is off and running.

“I bet you can improve our sales by 20%!  Maybe more!”

“I’m not sure advertising is...”

“No, no, this is great!  Tell you what...you get me 20% more and there’s a bonus in it for all of you!”

Buck looks at me; I look at Buck.  I wouldn’t mind a bonus.  I wouldn’t mind him.  “I’m willing if you are,” I say.  And...we’re off and running.

For the next two weeks, Rose and I work with Buck every chance we get.  He’s gone online and researched making TV commercials.  He’s got us “conceptualizing” and “storyboarding”, and he actually listens to our ideas.  He’s told Mr. K. to stay away.  I like him better all the time, and I’m grateful Rose already has the hots for an assistant manager at Macy’s.

Finally, we shoot two 30-second commercials.  Rose and I play normal, thinking women inquiring about Mr. K’s cars.  We look impressed by what we learn and nod at each other as if to say, “See?  Krolly Knutsen really isn’t out to cheat the bejesus out of us!”  But other than that we don’t tell any lies, and we look good.

Mr. K. blows a gasket when he sees them.  “Jeez, Buck!  No way I’m going to pay to run these on TV!  There’s no...showmanship!  No pizzazz!”

“But...they’re honest and informative.”

“If I want information I’ll watch the news!  If I want honest...”

I can’t stand it.  I leap to my feet.  “Mr. Knutsen!  How much does it cost to run these for a week?  Because Buck and Rose and I will pay for it!”

Mr. K. stares at us.  We stare back, wondering what I’ve done.

“Okay,” he says at last.  “I’ll pay for one week. That’s all, understand?  If sales don’t go up, then...” He makes a slicing motion across his neck.

You’ve probably already guessed the ending of this story, right?  Sales go up, we get our bonuses, and Buck and I live happily ever after.  Well, not exactly.

Sales don’t go up.  Turns out people buying Mr. K’s cars don’t want information, they just want cheap.  Figures.  No bonuses, but at least Mr. K. pays us off before he tells us goodbye.   And we start getting modeling jobs from being seen on TV, which help pay for Mom’s day care.

And Buck?  He’s doing research comparing Mr. K’s sales methods to other used-car dealerships.  He says he intends to prove that in the long run, honesty works.

We’re also doing a little joint research project on how the two of us work.  I won’t lie; it’s going well.

 

End

 

I'm a retired psychiatric nurse/hospital administrator/grant writer who now spends her time making slow-cooker marinaras, pining for yellow tulips, and writing fiction.

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