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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…

 

 

Justine had every right to be disturbed, but she almost took my ear off, shouting, “I want a taco, not a pizza.  Can’t I just have a damn taco?”

“Okay, there’s a taco joint,” I said.  “Let me park the car.”  It was going to be a job mollifying my wife in the depths of her despair, which had nothing to do with eating.  She was sick in her soul, in a way only priests and psychiatrists could diagnose.  We had lost any children before they were born.

 

The taqueria was new to me, but these places in Los Angeles come and go like yesterday’s celebrities.  It was spiffy and very California looking.  Totally un-ethnic.  “Order me a quesadilla.  Chicken, with a side of refritos,” Justine said.  “I’m going to use the bathroom.”

 

“You’ll have to wait,” I said.  “Some geezer in a yellow sweater just went in.”

 

“Damn,” she muttered.  “Just one sign that says hombres y muchachas.  Guess that lets them off the hook for transgenders.”

 

“Wait 90 seconds, hon.  Men only take a minute and a half.  Time stands still for women in bathrooms.”  I knew immediately from her grimace that I’d said the wrong thing.  My humor was a stone that tended to sink our boat.  No jokes allowed in her present frame of mind.  A week earlier, I’d gotten Justine into the hospital for an ectopic pregnancy that had to be aborted.  With it came major surgery.  We both realized now that after three miscarriages we’d never have a child.  No one to carry on our names, DNA and dreams.

 

I put in our order and asked the counter man if they had another bathroom.  He held up one finger.  “Just one.”  The embroidery on his shirt said his name was Raul.

 

“Guy went in five or ten minutes ago and hasn’t come out.  Can you see if he’s died or something?  My wife really has to pee.”

 

“Man?”

 

“Old man in a raggedy yellow cardigan.”

 

Raul, a young guy in his twenties stepped back and looked at me in surprise.  His lips formed the words Oh no, but no sound came out.  “Tell the lady,” he said slowly, “tell her it’s okay to go inside.  Just knock.  It’s okay.  Probably.”

 

“Justine,” I called.  “Go on in.  Just knock first.”

 

She gave me an odd look and banged once on the door.

 

“See,” I told the counter guy, “she just got out of the hospital.  Terrible operation.  Muy doloroso.”

 

“I speak English,” he said pointedly.  “Your quesadillas are here.”  He placed two paper plates on the glass counter.  “The man,” he said hesitantly, “is like a regular.  We can’t do nothing about it.”

 

Justine came from a large family, with two sisters and a brother.  And a mother who asked us constantly when we were going to have children.  Mom would give me the stink eye as though I wasn’t trying hard enough.  For two weeks, Justine had suffered stomach pain and bleeding until I forced her to see her doctor.

 

By the third bite of my quesadilla I looked up wondering where Justine was.  The counter man was alternately staring at me and at the bathroom door.  “What!” I demanded.

 

He nodded toward the can and I jumped up, believing Justine had had a relapse from the surgery.  “Justine!” I shouted and burst in.  The bathroom’s stale air assaulted me with the corrupt scent of death.  A faint fog blurred the outline of the sink, commode and mirror.  Justine was standing statue-like, transfixed by something in the mirror.  The man had gone, but his reflection hadn’t.  Staring back was a…a something that wasn’t human.  It wore a yellow sweater.

 

The mirror figure lifted a hand — it looked like a hand — and reached through the glass to grasp Justine’s shoulder.  I jumped forward and batted the arm off her, feeling an electric shock numb my body.  Swiveling around, I pushed Justine back to the door.  The figure’s arm flailed through the mirror with tentacle-like fingers, wanting to claw me into its world.  I picked up the nearest weapon, a metal waste basket, and smashed the glass that exploded into shards and a blue flame.

 

I came out drenched in sweat and sucking fresh air.  “Are you totally crazy?” I shouted at Raul.  “There was a monster in there.”

 

He motioned me closer while Justine fell into our booth.  “Mister, it was the man in the yellow sweater.  He comes here sometimes to use the bathroom.  He goes in but he never comes out.  Other people go in after him but he is gone.  Or they see him in the mirror, not a reflection.  He is un espiritu to the other world.  Spirit of the devil…or maybe God’s messenger.”

 

“A spirit?  This is Los Angeles.”

 

“Better a spirit here than in your dreams.  He sometimes comes back to you in your dreams.”  Raul shrugged.  “Then things happen.”

 

“Raul, you bastard, I broke your damn mirror.  He won’t come back.”

 

“I hope so.”

 

“And we’re never coming back to your taco joint either.”

 

He nodded.  “You never know what happens with spirits, señor.

 

We took the freeway over the San Gabriel mountains and back to Pasadena where my sobbing wife fell into bed.  I watched her.  Was she dreaming of the man in the mirror?

 

But Raul may have been more right than he knew.  Three months later, Justine was pregnant — an impossibility and against all odds, her doctor said.  Inside a year we had a beautiful baby boy.

 

“Remember the baby shower?” I told her.  “Your mother gave you a yellow onesie.  Looks just like a sweater.”

 

“Perhaps that was a prophecy and not an omen,” she murmured into our son’s cheek.

 

#  #  #

Bio:  Walt Giersbach bounces between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance with a little historical non-fiction thrown in for good measure.  His work has appeared in print and online in over two dozen publications, including a score of stories in Short-Story.Me.  He's also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and to a couple of Asian countries.

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