The Tut is one of My Little Corner’s TOP 10 stories!

If you haven’t checked out Sandra Seamans’ MY LITTLE CORNER, you really should. Sandra is one of the best short story writers around and, as well as her musings, MY LITTLE CORNER is an essential database of short story markets.

Sandra has chosen her top ten online short stories and, along with the likes of Hilary Davidson, Patti Abbott and Cormac Brown, she has picked my story The Tut which was at BEAT TO A PULP earlier this year.

Thanks very much Sandra and also David and Elaine at BTAP!

The link to MY LITTLE CORNER is:

The link to The Tut is:

Best Crime Fiction in 2009

Okay, so Kerrie at MYSTERIES IN PARADISE is putting together a list of the best crime novels of 2009. I’ve come up with ten crime books that I really enjoyed. In no particular order and only including one book from each author – I could have put all of Ray Banks’ Cal Innes Quartet in there, no problem, for example. Not all the books were published in 2009 but, I think, most were.

Slammer – Alan Guthrie
Killer – Dave Zeltserman
Broken Dreams – Nick Quantrill
Paying For It – Tony Black
Beast Of Burden – Ray Banks
Dead Men’s Dust – Matt Hilton
Deadfolk – Charlie Williams
Sanctuary – Ken Bruen
The Bloomsday Dead
– Adrian McKinty
The Desert Hedge Murders – Patricia Stoltey

The link to Kerrie’s blog is here:

Guest Blog: Maxim Jakubowski – Courmayeur’s Noir in Fest Festival

Festivals in Europe are big business. Unlike conventions in the English-speaking world, European festivals are usually organised with the assistance of much in the way of subsidies, public and private funding, to the extent that the competition between cities and organisers is savage and that festivals almost take on a political nature. Versailles has an event devoted to films about aviation, Spoleto features opera, Pordenone silent films, Saint Malo has travel writing, etc… and woe is the town or city that does not feature an artistic festival of some sort on its calendar.
At last count, there are almost 2000 art festivals in Europe alone every year, with subjects ranging from the popular to the most arcane. And crime fiction has its share: Gijon in Spain, Cognac, Lyon, Frontignan, and a much-lamented event in Grenoble and many others in France, Mantova, Trevi and Brescia in Italy. But one of the most important ones is Courmayeur’s Noir in Fest, which takes place every December in the trendy ski resort at the bottom of Mont Blanc on the Italian side of the tunnel under the mountains. Where all these festivals differ strongly from the Anglosaxon model is that they mostly organised by professionals rather than fans, although access is free to the general public and no costly registration is involved. Balancing the budget is not the organiser’s main aim, and as long as the event generates enough press and media, both regional and national, the funders appear to be satisfied as do the hosting cities and towns.
I was invited in the early 1980s to Cattolica on the Italian Adriatic when the festival was still called Mystfest (and still continues to this day under that moniker, although with a different emphasis) when the year’s event was focused on Jim Thompson. I had earlier as a publisher revived Thompson in the UK in my short-lived Black Box Thriller imprint (alongside David Goodis, Horace McCoy, Cornell Woolrich, Anthony Boucher, Fredric Brown, W.R. Burnett, Marc Behm and others). This was a whole year before my buddy Barry Gifford also picked up on Thompson and some of my other rediscoveries with his Black Lizard list) and Stephen Frears was in the process of filming THE GRIFTERS from Don Westlake’s script, and was asked to speak about him. I wrote a piece on Thompson and his legacy for the festival’s programme book and also managed to bring along some rushes of the movie which was still being edited as a preview. The festival offered both film and literary events and allowed me to meet a number of Italian and French attending writers and critics, as well as Roger L. Simon, Stuart Kaminsky, Julian Semyonov and other mystery writers who had also been invited,. Lasting friendships were made amongst a most convivial atmosphere of sea, sun, Italian food and wine and culture.

During the course of the following year Elisa Resegotti, who then organised the festival’s literary events, and her colleague Marina Fabbri would occasionally call me back in London asking for addresses and phone numbers of US and British authors or filmmakers they wanted to contact, as well as for advice and recommendations about future guests and possible movies they could screen. A year almost went by when I had another telephone call, which ended with a friendly “See you in 2 weeks, then”. My reaction was “Are you inviting me back?” After all, the festival (and most European events likewise) was in the habit of paying for guest’s fares (and their companion), and also paid for our hotels and meals, so this was a wonderful freebie to say the least.

“Of course” was the answer and I was informed that I could pick up my ticket at the Alitalia offices on Regent Street. There was no need to ask me twice! On arrival at that year’s festival, I picked up the complimentary copy of the lavish festival souvenir book cum programme in my hotel room, and lo and behold I was now listed as one of the festival’s official overseas advisers.
To cut a long story short, I’ve been attending the festival every year since for the last 21 years and it is always one of the highlights of my criminal and personal year. The initial directors of the festival were two major Italian film critics, Giorgio Gosetti and Irene Bignardi. Following my second year of attendance (other guests included James Ellroy, Derek Raymond, Agatha Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard and J.G. Ballard amongst others), the organisers had a fallout with the city and transferred the festival to the Mediterranean resort of Viareggio, with Bignardi moving on to take over the Venice film festival (and later Locarno) and Giorgio promoting Marina to co-director. The two years in Viareggio were splendid, with guests including Krizstof Kieszlowski, Nicolas Roeg, Quentin Tarantino, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Bloch and many others, and the entertainment budget on the extreme side of munificence what with all guests being given passes to the best restaurants in town and as much time spent at bars and meals as at specific film and lit events. It was therefore no surprise that after 2 years in Viareggio, we heard that a handful of town notables responible for the funding had ended up in jail for corruption and the festival no longer the recipient of such generosity had to decamp. After some nervous months, Giorgio and Marina soon informed us they had come to an agreement with the town of Courmayeur in the Valle d’Aosta to move the festival to the mountains, and from June to December. In 2010 we will be celebrating twenty years in Courmayeur and what an adventure it has been.
In my next piece, I will discuss two memorable decades of Noir in the snow and write about the 19th festival which took place in December 2009.

MAXIM JAKUBOWSKI ( his Wikipedia entry is here: ) is a publisher and former owner of the world-famous Murder One bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road. As well as being a writer and editor of various cult publishing imprints, he is acknowledged as a disturbing and controversial voice in contemporary fiction. His collections have sold massively, he is a regular on TV and radio where he is an expert on crime, erotica and film, and a Guardian columnist. He is literary director of the prestigious CRIME SCENE festival held at London’s NFT.

“An unholy mixture of Jim Thompson and American Psycho” – Time Out
“It memorably evokes the ghosts of Cain and Hammett and delivers some of the scariest writing since American Psycho” – City Life (UK)
“The hard sexy edge of Henry Miller and the redeeming grief of Jack Kerouac.” – Mystery Scene
“Proudly pornographic… the most comprehensive rendering of S&M variations ever to make it in to mainstream fiction” – The Literary Review

Books by Maxim Jakubowski
Life in the World of Women (1997)
It’s You That I Want To Kiss (1998)
Because I Thought I Loved You (1999)
The State of Montana (2000)
On Tenderness Express (2001)
Kiss Me Sadly (2002)
Confessions of a Romantic Pornographer (2004)

Edited by Maxim Jakubowski (with Mike Ripley):
Fresh Blood
Fresh Blood 2 (1997)
Fresh Blood 3 (1999)

Fresh Blood Set (2001)

Blink Ink Print


Blink|Ink Online is a website intended to showcase short fiction, of about 50 words.

They publish microfiction (nano, smudge, shorts) on their website and have also produced a print collection.

I’ve had a few stories at the website and yesterday I was pleased as punchdrunk to receive a copy of Blink Ink Print Issue One.

Contributors include Michael J. Solender, Offbeatjim Wittenberg, Jelena Venel Ohlrogge and a brilliant story –Illusion – by A. L. Dresser. Photos are from the super talented Kristin Fouquet and I also have a story: Old Town, Midnight.

Details of how to get Blink Ink Print are at the website.

Blink|Ink also features art, multimedia projects, photography, and more.

For Submission Inquiries:

For General Questions/Website/Concerns:

For Blink|Ink Print:

For Blink|Ink Projects, Web, Art, Multimedia, Audio, Etc.

Visit the Blink|Ink Gallery, where you can find collections, featured artists, mail art, photography, asemic writing, and more.

For information about art|multimedia at Blink|Ink, contact:

Lynn Alexander

Guest Blogger: Laurie Powers – L. A. Riot

L.A. Riot by Laurie Powers

That first morning I ran into Brian at Joanne’s cubicle. “Did you hear?” he asked. “Rodney King trial. The cops. Not guilty.”

I looked at him, and for once the stupid little preppie and I had the same thought. “Head for the hills,” we said in unison.

By two o’clock, the radio stations had transferred to continuous live helicopter news. I could hear the stress in the reporter’s voices. People were being attacked at Normandy and Florence. Looters were breaking into stores in East Los Angeles. Fires were being started.

At three o’clock, my boss appeared at my office door. For once she seemed as frightened and as human as the rest of us.

“I’m letting everybody go home early,” she said. It was three o’clock, two hours before normal quitting time. How generous of your tight ass, I thought.

Home? How could I get home? Getting to the San Fernando Valley from Beverly Hills, I might as well have been trying to get to Russia. I called Ken and told him I was on the way to his house.

I watched the eastern sky blacken as I waited in gridlock on the side streets in Beverly Hills.

I had met Ken on a blind date, one that I furiously resisted for weeks because of the endless years of unsuccessful blind dates. I had sworn them off and I wasn’t about to waver. Truth is, the fun in fucking men on the first date went right out the window when I stopped drinking, and there was nothing to say this would be anything other than a first date. The guy sounded like he was eighty years old. The first time he had called I told him I was much too busy to talk and to call me back in three days. And he called after three days – who is this idiot I thought – and even though I was rude to him on the second phone call just like on the first, he still wanted to meet.

Did you lose a bet or something? I thought. Even with that intriguing raspy voice, I didn’t want to meet him. I drove down Wilshire Boulevard to the restaurant, bristling. Eat your lunch and get out of there, I told myself.

But there he stood in the parking lot, with a face like Kevin Kline’s. He wasn’t eighty, he was more like forty and looking like a freaking angel sent to redeem me.

He lived in the living room of his parent’s rambling ranch house on Airdrome off of Robertson in the Fairfax district. The house was stripped to the studs for a major remodeling job. His parents had moved out and he was there to protect the place, to some odd work around the house and to keep from paying rent. We walked on clear plastic tarp to get to the only bathroom on the other side of the house, a house that stretched for miles.

His bed, high up on a wooden captain’s bed that he built, was stationed in the living room, the only room not completely gutted. We made love on that bed in front of a broad picture window where silk lined drapes separated us from the Orthodox Jewish families walking to temple on Saturday mornings.

He liked the fact that I would stay in the house in the evenings and watch television, waiting for him to come home from various jobs. Depending on the neighborhood he was working, he could be home at 11. If it was Brentwood or Beverly Hills, it was usually later. People there had much more involved burglary systems, so it took longer to get inside. He’d come home at 1 or 2, exhilarated, but refusing to tell me about it or show me the take. He didn’t want to make me an accessory. Fine, I said. Just come to bed.

The sky to the east was completely black by the time I pulled up in front of Ken’s house. He had no food in the house except for a measly orange chicken Lean Cuisine in the freezer.

“We can’t go anywhere. There’s a curfew on.” He was standing in front of the television and watching replays of Reginald Denny getting his head bashed in.

“Fuck curfew,” I said. “I’m starving. There’s got to be something open.”

We drove down Robertson. The street was deserted, not a car in sight. I kept a look out for black and whites, Ken looked for an open store. Frustrated, we pulled into the Montgomery Wards parking lot. At the far end of the lot stood the hulk of a Toys R Us store, dark inside. But a door was open, a battered white Toyota parked outside. Three other cars pulled up in unison, people streaming out and sprinting into the store.

Watching the looters come out of the store with arms full of electronics was mesmerizing.
Ken looked hypnotized. “You know, we should get in on this.”

“No, Ken. We need to get the hell out of here,” The thump thump thump of a helicopter was approaching. I started to pound the inside of the door, feeling that familiar urge to jump out of the car and bolt. He gave me a swift look of anger.

We went back to the house in silence. We split the Lean Cuisine and turned on the television. And there was that stupid Toys R Us being looted, the whole thing on television. Apparently it wasn’t a cop helicopter that I heard, but a news helicopter.

He shook his head. “Man, that would have been some easy pickins.”

“What, for cartons of Barbies? Give me a break,” I retorted, embarrassed over my slip-up.

Later, he grabbed my hand. “Come on,” he said. “We can see a lot from the roof.”

We climbed up via a ledge outside the bathroom window.

“I’ve had to come up here a few times to fix things,” he said, straddling the peak like he was king of the world.

To the left the plume of smoke from East Los Angeles was as tall and as broad as a dust storm. The only sounds were constant sirens in the distance. The Toys R Us forgotten, I was never happier.

“I need to go check on my grandmother,” Ken said two days later. Curfew had been lifted.
“What? Today?”

“My mom’s worried. No one’s answering at the switchboard. She wants to make sure everything’s ok.”

Ken’s grandmother had Alzheimer’s and was imprisoned in a convalescent home, an old converted hotel on Fairfax Boulevard just below the Tower Records on Sunset, a complex hidden by a concrete wall sprinkled with graffiti. The switchboard was fine – like everywhere else, the phone service was erratic.

Ken and I sat on the window seat in Grandma’s room. Next to me was a dinette table, a small television with rabbit years and a blue bud vase the only ornaments. The afternoon sun was starting to pale.

Grandma With Alzheimer’s asked him questions. Had he retired yet? How was his wife? “No, Grandma, you’re thinking of my father. I haven’t retired. I’m too young. I’m not married.”

“You’re still living in that place on Gramercy?”

“No, Grandma. Dad lived there before I was born.”

“Do you have any children?” she asked.

“No Grandma.”

“Why not?”

“Because I haven’t met the right woman yet, Grandma.”

I looked at him, waiting for the punch line.

It didn’t come.

We got back in his truck. I stared at him.

“What the hell was that?” I asked. He said nothing. Just grimaced and shrugged his shoulders.

We went back to the house in silence.

“Look,” he said when we had parked.

Here it comes, I thought.

“I just can’t promise anything.”

“ Why the hell not? Either you do or you don’t want this.”

“The truth is that I…I don’t know…I’ve always imagined myself with another type of girl.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Christ, Ken. You break into houses for a living. I’m the one with the straight job here.”

“Well, I know. I just…I don’t know.”

“You don’t know what?”

“Look, I can’t really say right now. I just don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”

“Let’s go back up to the roof,” I said later that evening. Ken looked at me, puzzled, then relieved. Apparently I had gotten over the afternoon.

We climbed up again, through the bathroom window, out on the window shelf. Ken pulled me up onto the roof again.

We sat with our feet braced to keep our butts sliding down the shingles. Below the pathway gracefully laid the way to the front door.

Maybe we could start over, I thought. I nestled next to him, placing my right arm behind his back for balance.

At first he looked ahead, and then turned and looked east.

“We should have done it. We could have made some money.”


“That Toys R Us.”

“You’re still mad about that?”

“Hey. All it would have taken would have been a run in and a run out. Nothing to it. There were so many people in there, no way was one black and white going to run us all in. IF they showed up.”

“Would it help if I went and bought you a G.I. Joe?” I rubbed his arm, trying to make a joke.

This scared me. He was freaking mad at me for not wanting to rob a Toys R Us.

“I just didn’t see the point in taking the risk,” I continued.

“Well, that’s just it. You never want to take risks, do you?”

I sat there, looking west at the sunset. Everything was in a haze, even in Santa Monica and over the ocean. It made for a spectacular sunset.

I placed my hand between his shoulder blades and pushed.

He tried to scramble for his balance, his arms flailing. For a second I thought he was going to grab me in his panic and pull us both off the roof.

I planted a foot on his hairy back and pushed hard.

I looked down at him face up on the pathway, motionless, his grey eyes staring up at me, a pool of blood spreading underneath his head.

“I guess I’m the right woman now,” I whispered.

Sirens wailed on Robertson Boulevard but I knew it would take the cops hours to get here and only after someone found the body. As I climbed down the roof and scooted through the bathroom window, I looked to the eastern sky towards Watts and South Central being rebuilt right at that very moment.


Laurie Powers is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She is the granddaughter of Paul Powers, a prolific pulp western writer from the 1930s, and has recently published his memoir, Pulp Writer: Twenty Years in the American Grub Street. Laurie writes on her blog, Laurie’s Wild West, about the history of pulp fiction among other topics. She primarily writes memoir and historical pieces. L.A. Riot is her first work of fiction in over ten years.

Link to Laurie’s Wild West:

Link to Pulp Writer web site:



There’s a load of new stuff at PULP METAL MAGAZINE.

Whatever Happened To Cuddy Wiffer? is my new I DIDN’T SAY THAT, DID I? column; the fiction section features work from Jason Michel, James Hilton and part two of Frank Duffy’s wonderful CYCLE; Ghost Story By Peter Straub – A Review By Steve Jensen is in the Non-fiction section;the brilliant Tim Hall has Business Reply Mail in the Art Comics section and in the music section Pablo D’Stair gives us his thoughts and recollections of the band Bellflur t

Guest Blogger: Matthew Funk -Football Is My Life

Football Is My Life by Matthew Funk

Everybody wants to score some happiness these days. Happiness is the new religion—it shoved aside the health craze 80s, the head case 70s, the Call of Duty spit and polish satisfaction that kept the Greatest Generation’s hearts pumping even when they were powering down scotches in a car without seatbelts. I’ve lived in Santa Monica, California, in Xenia, Ohio and in the big, Red State hemorrhoid of Orange County, and no matter where I am, folks are looking to jack up their happiness.

I’ve found what their looking for. This score is never dry, and the man is always on time with the goods. I have a simple solution for every sad sack that pushed a pen or smiled through her teeth while knowing—knowing like it was written in red paint on every raw nerve—they deserve better than what they’re putting up with just to eat and sleep indoors.

I have a simple solution, and that’s a big part of what makes it good. The best solutions are the simple ones—easy to practice and a breeze to remember. At the root of the Global Happiness Deficit is that people overcomplicate the problem. No matter how green the cud they’re chewing is, they’re always wondering how fat the color is on the other side of the fence. People with money worry about their soul. People with soul worry about their bank account. Everybody worries about their health, and if they don’t, they worry about what shit they’re missing out on in CNN or the Crystal Cathedral or the NY Times Best Seller list while they’re working their asses off at the gym. I’ve seen a man with enough cash to travel the world and enough friends to never be lonely doing it—the very model of success—melt into a whining wreck because he just couldn’t score a convincing hit of happiness.

The first trick to finding happiness is just like scoring any drug—you accept how easy it is to get it. The next trick is to turn on your television Sunday morning. Happiness is waiting for you, and it’s louder than the commercials.

Football is happiness.

Now, of course, a nod to my international brothers out there: You’re all set with your version of football, and so long as that ticks off all the boxes I’m going to cover here, we needn’t quarrel over whose football is the “real” football. The following diatribe is to extol the American sport of football—NFL football—not to tear anybody else’s faith down.

And that’s the first perk to football—the reason why it trumps finding spiritual fulfillment through telling your beads or intoning a mantra any day of the week: Football has all the zealotry of faith with none of the sniffy doctrine. No one is turned away from the altar of the NFL. WASPs, blacks, gays, chicks, Jews, sinners and saints and suck-ups alike can all get off on watching the elaborate brutality of the grid iron. Better yet, the services are always on schedule, broadcasting live coverage of the Apocalypse in the here-and-now.

Fans, you don’t have to wait to see if you’re among the twelve tribes or if you’ve made it onto the lists of the chosen—Judgment goes down and everyone’s invited. Miracles don’t have to be mined from between oft-contradictory lines of seven-point font—you watch them happen with every 40+ yard pass and every desperation onside kick. There is no boring sermonizing, no need to wrench yourself into some weird posture named after a flower, no need to skip chapters like Numbers or Corinthians to get to the good parts. The drama is wall to wall. The blood is all over the field. All you need to do is to be what you are—what God or Brahma or formless chance made you—an animal.

We’re all animals, and it’s our right to eat. The satisfaction of being warm and loud and well-fed is something we all were born believing in our sinews that we deserved. A lot of nonsense follows to distract us, but at our core, we can depend on the primal thrill of a full gut and a head full of adrenaline more than we can on the dollar standard or the Democratic Congress. But we’re human animals; we have something in us—dress it in a Hallmark prom dress and call it a soul, or kick it in the gutter and call it perversity—that has an appetite for wonders. We want to see shit get really weird and wild. It takes all kinds, but whether we dream of true romance or true crime or God’s providence, we all need a break from the normal to have our bit of happiness. And for that, my friends, we have the football field—shameless, super-hi-def purveyor of fourth down conversions, Hail Mary passes and broken bones.

If you need data to support this hypothesis, I present you with a control group: The small Texas town. In small Texas towns, football presides in its proper place above heaven and Earth alike, and rightly so. This is because small Texas towns are humanity boiled down to the basic human element. They don’t have any money, they don’t have any museums, they don’t have any sure way out, down the road or under it. They don’t even have real horizons out there—just a knife’s edge of a desolate meridian, all highway and no destination. But they have football. And football will never kick you out of your own house after you done her wrong. Football will never set a collection’s agency on you or issue a bench warrant with your name on it. There are no sins in football, only penalty flags. And while football giveth and football taketh away, football never leaves. This is the faith that those whose lives are just a test of faith, every second after the next, can depend on.

Trust in football, my friends. Believe in it, and it will make you happy. You can worry about bills day to day, and you can worry about the hereafter, and you may still be disappointed to find a car wreck or a carcinoma cutting your perfect plan off at the knees. You can worry about making a difference, and work toward it, and still find in the last accounting that you come up short. You can worry about love and love will still break your heart. But football, a game of inches and intricate rules, is just complex enough to sponge up all the worry you can ever imagine, and never fails to deliver the goods. If you want to actually get a life lesson from football—if you are blue-balled for some doctrine to tell you right from wrong—it is this; it is the First Commandment of the NFL:

You can be in the best possible condition, and you can be on the best coordinated team, and you can and you must play as hard as you are able, but you may still lose—you may still fail to get that inch that carries you forward to The Big Win—you may fail to find those inches and you will have to try again.

This is what life is about: Be the best, try the hardest, expect nothing and go for the win.

That’s happiness. That’s what the fans tune in every Friday night, every Saturday day, every Sunday and that’s why the true fans believe there is nothing more important. This is what we tune in to see and why the players take the field.

Politics, poetic truth, the pulpit—that’s a chump’s game, with no real way to cash in your chips no matter how much you pay into the house. Football will deliver a miracle you can taste at the back of your yelling throat, yard by yard. Football is the game that matters.

Football is my life.

Matthew Funk is a professional writer in marketing for corporate America, a writing mentor and the author of several manuscripts that illuminate the beauty of human extremes. A graduate of the Professional Writing MFA at USC, his work is also featured on his Web site.

Guest Blogger: Carole Parker -Sins Of The Father

Sins of the Father


Carole Parker

Kelsey sat on the floor of the small camper-RV. The lights were out. A hard rain beat down on the tin roof like a symphony of pounding devils. And it was COLD. She watched her breath rise like a soft, puffy cloud.

Her right hand was throbbing. Blood leaked slowly out of her black leather glove. She held it gingerly. Wincing with pain.

‘Fuck,’ she moaned softly.

She reached into the side pocket of her motorcycle jacket, pulled out a small, burlap bundle and carefully unwrapped it. In it were four fingers. Her fingers. One of them with a small diamond ring. She shuddered. Carefully wrapped them back up and slid it back into her pocket.

‘How am I gonna shoot with my left hand,’ she mumbled to herself.

It was supposed to be an easy job. Rob the Tataglia card game. Then kill ‘em all. Yeah, right. Knock off a group of low-level mobsters? What the fuck was she thinking?

Ten-thousand dollars was what she was thinking.

But the whole thing blew up in her face. What the fuck happened? Was it a set-up?

It was like they were waiting for her. She KICKED the door down, raised her 9mm Beretta at them, and she was grabbed from behind. Whirled around. SHOVED into a chair. Arms held down on the table.

And then the chopping started. One finger at a time. Every ten minutes.

Gave her lots of time to think about the next one.


But she was good. She didn’t give him up. She couldn’t.

Not her father.

But then, a miracle. Fucking crazy Westies came in blasting, killing them. Taking their money. Leaving Kelsey hiding under the table. Pretending to be dead.

She looked around in the camper. Not abandoned. Someone lived here. There was food in the fridge. Well, a couple of TV dinners. A six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Great taste, this guy had.

She looked at the stove. Had an idea. She needed to cauterize the wounds on her finger stumps. No time to worry about reattaching them.

See, Kelsey had to go hunt down dear old papa while she still had the element of surprise. It wasn’t going to be easy, as he changed hideouts as often as most people change their sheets.

She looked at the nasty bed.

Well, most people.

Kelsey went to the stove. Turned it on. Watched the black coils slowly turn red. Slowly, achingly pulled off her glove. White hot pain shot up her arm. The glove hit the floor with a sloppy, wet SPLAT.

She spied a bottle of whiskey. Kessler’s. ‘Smooth as Silk.’ My ass. She grabbed the bottle, twisted off the cap. Took a long drink. Wiped her mouth. Watched the blood from her stumps drip, drip, drip on the fake-tiled shitty linoleum floor. Bent the bottle up again, drained it.

Dropped the bottle. POP. Glass splintered like snowflakes across her boots. She closed her eyes, feeling the booze go right to her head.

Kelsey opened her eyes. Stared at the oven. The burner now bright red.

‘Just do it,’ she mumbled. ‘Get it over with.’

Kelsey SHOVED her hand onto the coil. A SIZZLING sound. The smell of charred flesh. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she thought, ‘it really does smell like pork.’

Kelsey SCREAMED. Ran to the sink. Turned on the tap. Held her ruined hand under the cold water. Instant relief.

Outside the tiny trailer a man in black peered in the window. Rough-looking, about fifty. Shock of grey-black hair, dressed in a filthy, grey jumpsuit. Small, piggy black eyes. Bruised and battered face. Smiling a smile of pure evil. He pulled a black snow mask down over his face. Opened the door and went inside.

Kelsey wrapped a wet hand towel around her ruined hand. Looked up, startled at the unexpected visitor.

‘Sorry to barge in like this,’ she sneered. ‘But it was an emergency. I’ll pay for the damages.’

The hulking figure stared at her through the slits in the woolen mask. Silent. Ominous.

‘Okay, you’re pissed off. I get that,’ Kelsy said, holding up her hand. ‘But I just lost four fingers, and I’m not in the best mood. So if you’ll just excuse me, I’ll get the fuck out of your hair, and we can both continue our wonderful little lives.’

The figure whipped out a black matte Glock. Aimed it at her.

Kelsey grabbed a cast iron skillet off the stove and HURLED it at his head, CRACK. He went down, THWUMP. She jumped on top of him, trying to grab his gun. But the man was strong, and only dazed from the blow to the head.

His gun went SPINNING across the room.

They wrestled across the filthy floor, trying to reach it, BANGING into cabinets. Kelsey tried to grab her gun with her left hand, but the figure was too strong. He FLIPPED her over, pinning her to the floor with his beefy girth. CRACKED her across the face with his gun.

She spat blood, teeth and drool in his face. The figure ROARED with anger, raised his haunches like wrestler, and BANGED down with all his weight on her ribs.


Kelsey spun her head back and forth, looking for something. Saw an empty steel doggie bowl. This guy has a dog? She GRABBED it and CRACKED it on the side of the figure’s head, CLANG. He stopped, shook his head, and Kelsey SMASHED it under his chin, HARD.

He flew backwards, landing on his back with a THUD. Dazed. Reeling from the blows to the head.

Kelsey got up, wincing from the pain of her cracked ribs. Struggled to get her gun out. Aimed it at him with her good hand.

‘Don’t move, asshole. I’ve had a REALLY bad day, and I’m not in the fucking MOOD.’

The figure groaned underneath the mask. Blood slowly flowed out onto his neck.

‘Take your fucking mask off. I like to see who I’m shooting.’

No response. Then … what was that? Was the bastard chuckling at her?

‘NOBODY laughs at me, fuck-head!’

Kelsy FIRED off a round. Wood SPLINTERED to the side of his head.

He laughed louder.

Kelsey SCREAMED. Fired off five rapid shots in succession. BANG. A bullet in his arm. BANG. The next, his shoulder. BANG. Then the side of his head. BANG. his right eye. BANG. Then his left.


She walked over to the hulking figure. Now still. YANKED his mask off, to reveal a dark-haired man.

Who looked JUST like her.

Kelsey looked at him sadly.

‘My father, who art in heaven’ …

About Me

Carole Parker
I’m a Noir/Pulp/Hard-Boiled dame. A chain-smoking, hard-drinking, screenwriting beach babe, and all-around dangerous chick. If you’ve got the crime, I’ve got the time … My blog THAT KILLING FEELING is here:

Guest Blogger: Matt Dukes Jordan – Hollywood Zombified The World.

In Hollywood the line between the living and the dead is permeable and many screenwriters exist in a zombified state, souls long gone, boney fingers tapping on keyboards as if guided by some unseen force, cranking out screenplays about zombies, something they know well.

Guys like John Fante, Jim Thompson, and Horace McCoy are good examples of cool novelists turned into Hollywood zombies. Booze, bad times, and producers stole their souls. Finally, a sense of artistic waste washed over them like listless waves carrying spent condoms sloshing ashore on the sands beneath the Santa Monica pier, dazzling lights spinning in the dark above.

Everyone’s favorite Hollywood zombie-writer is a fictional character in a film, a poor sap who ended up face down in a swimming pool. It’s not often that films are narrated by dead men, but in Sunset Boulevard, a zombified screenwriter tells the tale of how his last drops of precious bodily fluid had been drained by the flashy fangs of a zombie-vampire Hollywood actress demanding yet another rewrite. The next stop was a coffin shared with a dead pet monkey.


Billy Wilder co-wrote and directed Sunset Boulevard,which some argue is a horror film, not a film noir, and he also directed Double Indemnity, a true classic noir. Not one but two great writers contributed to the final product on that film, though one of them felt the other’s prose had a bad odor. Screenwriter Raymond Chandler, a brilliant but somewhat fussy man, wrote in a 1942 letter to the wife of his publisher, Alfred K. Knopf:“….Hammett is all right. Igive him everything…. But James Cain – faugh!Everything he touches smells like a billygoat…. Such people are the offal of literature, not because they write about dirty things, but because they do it in a dirty way. Nothing hard and clean and cold and ventilated.”


Hard, clean, cold, and ventilated is not what zombies like. They prefer stuffy, stinky, hot basements and box canyons where they can corner you. L.A. inspires tales of seediness and collapse because it’s a smelly, brutal, unventilated place where the air is only cold and clean way out over the ocean—offshore.

Writers tend to be thoughtful, quiet, reserved sorts, but L.A. is great for loud hustlers. You gotta be tough, fast, and vicious; and willing to suck ideas from the brains of writers and claim them for your own. It’s a city of mirrors, and illusions, and lies, where the best bullshitter wins if he doesn’t lose himself the way Chaplin does in the film The Circus when he runs into a funhouse room full of mirrors. (Welles used the same imagery in the super-sleazy noir, The Lady from Shanghai.) To make it, many have to be willing to hustle and steal like Sammy Glick does, lead character in What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg.


Oh, and don’t try to laugh Hollywood away once it’s zombified you. It’s the city where Jim Belushi died of an overdose in a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont while in the midst of writing a screenplay for a film he was calling Noble Rot; where Richard Pryor caught on fire while freebasing; where Fatty Arbuckle worked as a director under another name after his career was ruined by a false accusation of murder; where Chaplin went through a miserable divorce from his teen bride Lita in which her lawyers did all they could to destroy his character.


The Los Angeles resident Aldous Huxley predicted a brave new world in which a wonder drug called Soma will make everyone zombie-like but mellow. Turns out that blockbuster film spectacles are Soma for the masses. Everyone is put to sleep by the razzle-dazzle of a thousand CGI deaths that sooth the savage souls of the zombies in the audience, all chuckling at decapitations, auto crashes, and exploding blood packs.


Literature is all about the importance of the individual soul, something zombies lack. Yet even great writers like Burroughs and Borges and Baudrillard say that in the labyrinth of the garden of forking paths of the book of sand of simulations of reality there is no reality, no soul, no individual– only the map, the simulation, the replica, the replicant. L.A. is where many thousands of people are engaged in creating seductive and entertaining simulations about zombies and replicants shuffling around, hungry for brains and souls. It’s a metaphor for real life in the modern world. It’s also a metaphor or working in Hollywood as a screenwriter.


The odd thing is, the more sleazy and horrific the whole thing is, the better the films about the place are. Here are some wonderful dark visions ofL.A.: Chinatown by Roman Polanski, Collateral by Michael Mann, Day of the Locust by John Schlesinger, The Big Lebowski by the Coen brothers, Ed Wood by Tim Burton, Mulholland Drive by David Lynch, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie by John Cassavetes, Pulp Fiction by Tarantino, Boogie Nights by Paul Thomas Anderson, Short Cuts by Robert Altman, and Bladerunner by Ridley Scott.


Los Angeles is bulldozed at night so a new movie set can replace it by dawn. You can run from your fate as a zombie but you can’t hide from the fake reality that L.A. has created for you that has replaced your own life by infiltrating your dreams, taking over your imagination. Don’t fight it, surrender. You’ll feel so much better once you’ve lost your soul and begun shuffling toward the cineplex or your computer keyboard, thinking only of zombies and longing for brains.


Bio: Matt Dukes Jordan is the author of a forthcoming novel called Dance, Hollywood Monkey, Dance, written with his fictional cohort, Ron Jon Bone. Jordan is also the author of Bukowski’s L.A., 2008, and Weirdo Deluxe, 2005. His book Weirdo Noir is due out in the fall of 2010. His short story Sunset Boulevard Escort Services can be found in the brand-new anthology of LA fiction, Sleeping with Snakes: Notes from the Los Angeles Underbelly. He shows art at Hyaena gallery (see He’s lurked around L.A. on and off since 1990. He has also lived in London, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Key West, and various other places. 

He is also the film guy at Pulp Metal Magazine.

Late Night Film at disenthralled

Walter Conley’s amazing disenthralled is out again with some great prose and photos from Alisa Rynay Haller
R o b e r t C r i s m a n
Lynn Kinsey
M i s s A l i s t e r
Howie Good
Tom Leins
C K B l a c k
Richard Godwin
L e n a V a n e l s l a n d e r. I’ve a story there too:Late Night Film. It’s here:

The Steve Weddle Memorial Airport Flash Fiction Challenge

The Steve Weddle Memorial Airport Flash Fiction Challenge

Details of the challenge are here:
The challenge was to write a Flash Fiction story featuring an airport. I struggled but this is what I came up with.

Warsaw Dawn by Paul D. Brazill

The men in the long black overcoats looked like shadows as they cut through the snow smothered square. A ghostly spiral of smoke drifted up from the husk of the burnt out car as Darko fell to his knees, the low hum that hovered in the distance growing louder.He looked up, gasping, as the plane roared overhead. His fingers buzzed and tingled and the sensation spread through his hands and up his arms. The weight of an elephant was on his chest and he felt the cold hard metal against his forehead. Then the day dissolved into black.

The tall man hummed a misty melody as he poured the petrol over Darko’s blood splattered body and set it alight.

‘Get a move on, Marek ’ said the corpulent slug with the bullet hole eyes, who stood beside him. ‘He’ll have landed by now.’ The tall man picked up the briefcase and lit a cigarette on the flickering flames of Darko’s burning cadaver.

‘Take a chill pill, Arek,’ he said without cracking a smile, his accent as dark and thick as Irish coffee.

The airport was as bright as a migraine and Colin Graham shuffled to the front of the queue and picked up his suitcase. He was gasping for a drink and one of the reasons he was glad to be back in Poland was that he knew the airport bar would be open, even at this hour. He rushed through customs focused on the thought of a pint of Krolewskie and a shot of Bols when he saw them. Laurel and Hardy,Flip and Flap, Bolek and Lolek. They had a few nicknames, although no one ever said them to their faces. He knew them as Marek and Arek. Dragan’s boys. And he knew that they were a harbinger of a shit load of trouble.

Whenever Colin saw Dragan he was reminded of the picture of Dorian Grey. He’d been a journalist in Warsaw long enough to know that Dragan wasn’t known as The Psychotic Serb for nothing. But like Wilde’s hero there was no sign of corruption or suffering or sickness or guilt on Dragan’s angelic face. Colin knew that the Serbian was in his forties but his face was that of someone half that age. Unblemished apart from the small crescent shaped birth mark on his right cheek. Colin sipped his vodka and waited while Dragan and his goons examined the contents of a briefcase that was splashed with what he hoped was red paint.

Dragan nodded and said something in Russian to his henchmen who rushed out of the room. Colin spoke Russian but sometimes it was better not to know what was being said. Dragan looked up from the briefcase and turned on his 5000 watt smile.

‘My old friend, Colin,’ he said, with a twinkle in his eye.
‘My English/Irish friend. How the fuck are you?’

He filled up Colin’s vodka glass and sat on the edge of the desk, swigging from the bottle.

‘Could be worse. Bit knackered.’

‘Long flight, eh?’

‘Six hours. Long enough.’

‘And how was the Big Apple?’

‘So good they named it twice. Beers like rat’s piss though.’

‘And did you see her? Colin shuffled in his chair. He shook his head.

‘Long gone, Dragan. Months ago.’ ‘And…’

‘Well, NYPD are looking for her. In connection with the murder of a mugger in Central Park but …’

Dragan laughed.

‘Ah. That’s my girl. That’s my Krystyna’

His face went dark.


‘Back in Blighty as far as I know.’

Dragan nodded.

‘Scotland? With Banks?’

Colin shrugged his shoulders. There was a knock on the door. Dragan looked up at Marek and Arek. They had the look of scolded schoolboys. They mumbled in Russian but all Colin understood was that ‘the real one’ had been ‘burnt to a cinder’ in the back of the car. Dragan looked like Vesuvius ready to erupt. He took a large envelope from the top of the desk and handed it to Colin.

‘Later,’ he said. Colin didn’t argue. He picked up his coat and suitcase and left Dragn’s office as fast as he could.

The trendy bar in the New Town –which was actually older then the Old Town -was pricey but with the money Dragan had paid him – plus his money from Krystyna -Colin felt he could afford it. He sent one short message to the Facebook page know as Femme Fatale: He bought it and then closed his lap top. He lay back in the Zebra striped sofa and looked out outside as a horse and cart clip clopped past and wondered how long he should wait before he headed off to Scotland.

Guest Blogger: Carrie Clevenger – Reboot.




The red subsided into darkness; a black muffled in between unseen cushions of dust and discontent. There was no pain, no want, or loss. There was only the staleness of contained air.

Silence. Sweet, blessed silence.

I resisted my coming-to, my conscious mind moaning and rolling over in sleep. I wanted nothing more than to chase away the morning sunlight. But there was no sun, no bed, no voice welcoming me back to awareness. There was only stillness and perfect, immaculate nothing.

Even nothing couldn’t describe what I saw when I opened my eyes. It was as if everything around me had simply dissipated, and all that was left was one tiny neuron, capable of bearing intelligent thought. Electricity. Cold.

My mind felt the freezing temperature but my skin registered no response. My eyes rolled dryly in their sockets, confused about being open or not. I had something behind my back. Hard. Yet soft.

My hand jerked. Slowly, it obeyed, coming to an abrupt halt as I considered my confinement for the first time. Satin, covering hard surface there. Slowly, my fingers tiptoed over the quilted fabric like blind salamanders in a cavern pool. I tested it with a push, and it did not move.

My feet revived suddenly and I kicked. More resistance. I was cold and contained. Here in this perfect, impenetrable dark, so complete that white snow danced in my vision as my eyes fought the first exposure to the only true darkness they’ve ever known.

A box. I was in a box. The thought filled my head. My ears were catching up to the rest of me and initiated their first complaint of silence. The low hum became a high rev of interior noise. The sound of my brain. The sound my fingers made as they nosed into the satin. I knew satin.

Satin, like my girl’s negligee.

Panic threaded into my system, and I realized that all of me was just now waking up, like an old computer booting up for the first time in months. A spark here, a current there, and I was on the loading screen.

Please wait…

My muscles jumped on their own, bumping my knees against the (lid of the) box. I frowned, both hands seeking my ceiling now. I was prone. I was on a cushion, thin as it was. Not exactly for sleeping. I think I knew where I was, but I didn’t want to try to rationalize just exactly how I’d been put into that situation.

A sound overhead. Distant but true, I wouldn’t mistake it in this bubble of absolute quiet. The scratching my fingers were doing, matched by something far away. Far but getting closer.

I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand out as my scalp crawled with the foreboding that shit was about to go awry once that sound reached me. The scrape-shuffle-scrape sound filtered down, through cottony stuffing and into my little private prison. I swallowed the desert back in my mouth and gritted my teeth, feebly attempting to quell the mania building in my brain. I couldn’t wrap my head around this.

I’d lose it if I even tried.




A pause in the monotonic clockwork of it, and I was holding my breath. Mentally. I had nothing to breathe. My mind shuffled that thought back to priority 999 and continued motoring along.




More silence. The din in my ears picked right up where they’d left off and I had the strangest image of standing in front of my tv with the channel set to three, before the screen started to turn blue and mute out…there was static. I blinked in the nothing. I was wearing socks, but not shoes.

My fingers were dried branches. My tongue was leather. I tried to speak, and once reassured that wasn’t back to normal operating procedure, I let off stressing my system.

I wasn’t fucking breathing.

The scrape-shuffle overhead, or underneath for all the fuck I knew, was replaced with a rapid digging. Like a dog. A big one. A weird DigdigDigdigDigdigDig noise, terrifying me more than the scrape-shuffle ever had.

I opened my hands and pressed them palms-up deep into the satin. I pushed. A creak.


It was getting closer now, and when I was at the breaking point, something struck the top of the coffin.

Coffin, yes. I was in A. Fucking. Coffin.

I screamed.


Carrie Clevenger, (also known as Carrie Cleaver) worships Maynard and dreams of cephalopods on trains and other oddities in Austin, Texas. She doesn’t have to write the next great novel, but it’d be nice to at least leave a smear on the way down.

The hub of her evil network is here: or on Twitter @shadowsinstone.

Guest Blogger: Jim Wisneski – An Honest Hitman

AN HONEST HITMAN by Jim Wisneski

Most hits were pretty easy. It wasn’t like the movies or books where things get overly complicated. The only hard part was to get the person isolated so once they were shot you could leave the scene in normal fashion.

Oh, and always use just one bullet. This game of unloading a clip into a body is reckless and stupid. First, police will instantly know it was a hit and will go right for the spouse which was where half of Billy’s hits came from. Second, it was a waste of ammo which costs money.

Billy’s hits were so good he had never been questioned once. Even on the numerous times when the other spouse broke down and admited to hiring a hitman. It made Billy laugh when he tried to figure how many Adam Smith’s or Jackie Jones’s were in jail or being questioned for his murders.

Well, it wasn’t murder. Not in Billy’s eyes. It was a job. Just like if an executive of a big company steals another’s idea or something.

Sitting in an old white Honda that he stole, Billy waited for his next victim to come out for a smoke break. Billy didn’t know the persons name. He never knew their names. He didn’t care. The only he cared about when getting the perfect shot. Depending on the request, Billy always aimed for the heart. Even liars and cheaters deserved an open casket in his opinion.

Billy checked his watch.

Three minutes to go.

Then he’d have the Honda returned within ten minutes and back home within thirty.

This case seemed pretty solid because the man he was going to kill had a lot of enemies. He was a defense attorney. He’d probably gotten rapists and murderers kept out of jail and all those victims families would be suspects.

But not Billy.

One minute to go.

Billy slid out the silenced weapon and prepared himself for the shot. Once the victim walked out of the building and to the right, a bullet would storm through his chest. Then Billy would duck down and wait a few minutes before starting the car and slowly driving away. Casual. It had to be casual.

Counting down the seconds, Billy heard a dog bark.

A beautiful golden lab stood on the corner and barked towards the car.

Billy made a kissing sound and clapped his hands and dog slowly walked towards him.

“Come on boy!” Billy yelled.

He laid the gun back on the seat. Part of this hit wasn’t to kill a dog so he had to keep it out of the way and keep it from barking in his direction.

The dog trotted forward then stopped. It turned and moved back to the corner.

There was only twenty seconds left until the victim would cross at the corner of the alley.

“Wanna treat?” Billy yelled. “Come on.”

The dog walked back. Once it got to the door of the car, it turned and ran again. Billy recognized these movements, the dog wanted to play.

“I can’t play, I have to work,” Billy said opening the door.

He slowly stepped out. He had ten seconds either grab the dog or chase it away and then get back in the car and shoot the victim. No matter what though, Billy couldn’t let the dog get hurt.

Billy’s foot touched the pavement and the dog came running towards him again. Eight seconds to go. Billy stood up and clapped his hands. The dog was at an arms length away. Six seconds to go. Billy turned to let the dog jump in the car and felt a sharp pain in his chest. He looked down and saw his shirt absorbing the blood at a fast rate. He looked around but everything became hazy. He saw the victim standing on the corner. Billy smiled and knew he still had a chance. Then he’d deal with his own bullet wound. He swallowed and reached into the Honda. Before his hand could touch the weapon he felt great deal of pressure on his head and heard the sound of his skull being crushed.

It was a second bullet wound. Thankfully for Billy it was the last he’d even encounter.


“Seven thousand,” Barry said hanging a laptop case to a man.

“Do I need to count it?”

“No, I don’t play those games. But hey, I wanted to ask about the dog, that was pure genius.”

“Yea, I knew Billy. He thought he was the best. We were friends when we were kids. We wanted to grow up and be cowboys and fight bad guys. I remember going to his house. He had a golden lab. He loved the dog so much. Then one day it got hit by a car and had to be put to sleep. He never had another dog after that. But I knew he had a soft spot for dogs.”

“Well, you sure do your homework. I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe my wife put a hit on me.”

“I could take of her, if you want. I’ll give you a returning discount.”

“Eh, not today,” Barry said waving his hand at the hitman. “I think it would be better to see her face when I come home tonight alive. See what she does. But I have your number.”

“No you don’t,” the hitman said smiling. “The phone’s been destroyed.”

“Well, what If I need your information again?”

“I’ll contact you soon.”

“What about the dog?”

“I returned it back to the yard I stole it from.”

“Boy you guys won’t stop at anything will you?”

The hitman tapped the laptop case and smiled.

“Just another day at the office.”

Barry stuck his out to shake the hitman’s hand. The hitman shook his head and pointed behind Barry. Barry turned and threw his hands up half expecting the other hitman, Billy, to be there. Nobody was there. Barry turned back around and the hitman was gone.

Barry walked to his car faster than normal and checked over his shoulder every few seconds. He started his car with his eyes shut waiting for it to explode. It didn’t. He smiled as he stood at the front door to his house knowing he did the right thing by hiring an honest hitman.

“Honey, I’m home!” he yelled walking through the door.

Short bio: Visit Jim’s writers blog at – visit his personal blog at – and visit his podcasting blog to hear some of his stories, novellas, and novels at Jim writes short stories, novellas, novels, and poetry. . . and music. Listen to some of his new songs at When he isn’t writing, he is thinking about writing.

Writer, Editor, Teacher.

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