Short Story: Holcomb Bridge

Holcomb Bridge is a short story from my book, Devious Tales. If you like it and want more tales with a twist, you can purchase the complete book at Amazon (ebook and paperback), Barnes & Noble (ebook and paperback), and Kobo (ebook).  The paperback contains two additional stories.

Holcomb Bridge was the sort of small bridge you find in many small towns. This particular one though had little traffic during the day and was even quieter at night. That is except for Friday and Saturday nights when local teens came out here way after dark looking for a deserted area where they could park and neck. As a cop, I knew all this pretty well. I was also a teenager once myself, and having grown up here, I had fond memories of kissing Caroline McKay, Janie Newton, and a few other girls right on that bridge. Not at the same time of course!

      It’s a romantic spot. Especially if you got lucky and the moon was full, shining bright and reflecting off the river below. These days, this area of town was part of my regular patrol, and those nights of my teenage lust long gone except for the memories. I am married now to a great woman. Her name is Barbara. We have two terrific sons, Michael and Anthony. Still, whenever I drive by this bridge which is every night I am on duty, it brings back fond recollections of those late nights and early mornings. Today, as a police officer, I always left the kids alone.

     Unlike Ray Morton.

     Ray Morton was the police officer who patrolled this area back in those days when it was me and Caroline and Janie necking in the shadows of the bridge along with other kids. Soon as he spotted us, Morton jumped out of his car. He would shine a bright flashlight right at us and chase us all off threatening to tell our folks. Like we cared!

     Me on the other hand, I just drive by, take a quick gaze at the surroundings making sure nothing looks out of the ordinary and let the kids be. Necking and maybe smoking a bit of weed was not the worst thing you could do.

     This particular night though was a Wednesday. It was well past midnight, and the person on the bridge was not a teenager, and he was there all by himself. His car was parked right in the middle of the bridge. I pulled over stopping my car about twenty feet from him. I shut the headlights off and sat there looking at him for a bit getting the impression he didn’t even know I was there. He hadn’t moved. He was just staring down at the water. I quietly got out of my car and slowly walked over toward him until I was a couple of feet away. He still did not move or acknowledge my presence. I leaned over the railing and stared out into the darkness.

     “Nice night, a bit cool maybe,” I said.

     “I’ve seen better.”

     “How long you been here?”

     “I don’t know. An hour or so, maybe. Makes no difference.”

     “You know, I bet that water is still cold after our snowy winter.”

     He turned and looked at me for the first time, just for a moment. He nodded, “yeah, it probably is.” He then turned back to staring out into the dark nothingness.

     He pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Put one in his mouth and then offered me one.

     I shook my head. “Gave them up a while back.”

     “I thought of doing that too, but lately it just doesn’t seem to matter.”

     He lit up, took a long drag and blew out a mouth full of smoke.

     “You know, life gives you a lot of twists and turns,” he said. “One moment it makes you think everything is finally going to ease up and go well. You could settle down, be happy, and then…then you suddenly, unexpectedly get a big knife right in your gut ripping you apart.”

     “If you don’t mind me asking, what happened?”

     He took the cigarette out of his mouth and held it in right hand.

     “My wife died.”

     “I’m sorry.”

     “That’s what everyone says. They all say how sorry they are, friends, relatives, co-workers. They all offer help, food, comfort, companionship. Everything except for one thing.”

     “What is that?” I asked even though I knew the answer.

     “How do I get my wife back? She was everything to me, and now she’s gone. I’m alone.”

     “Do you have kids?”

     “No. Stella couldn’t have children, and that was okay with me. We had each other and always would, forever. At least, that’s what I thought. Forever ended sooner than expected.”

     With that, he flicked the half-smoked cigarette into the river below. We were silent for a few minutes.

     “You married?” he asked.

     I nodded in the affirmative, “we have two boys,” I said.

     “That’s nice. Like I said, Stella couldn’t have kids.  I knew when we got married that she couldn’t have them. She had a hysterectomy when she was nineteen believe or not. Cancer. But they got it all, and here we were twelve years later, and she was doing great. We were happy.”

     “What happened?”

     “The cancer didn’t come back if that’s what you’re thinking. It was a car accident. Some teenage kid. A seventeen-year-old asshole texting on her phone swerved, not paying attention to the road, slammed head on right into her. The doctors said she most likely died instantaneously. I guess that’s something to be grateful for huh?”

     He pulled out another cigarette and lit it up. “Maybe, it was cancer that killed Stella. The stupid human kind. You know what I mean?”

     “Unfortunately, I do. Kids, texting and driving. It’s not just kids,” I said. “Not to sound like an advertisement or something, but it’s an epidemic.”

     “Stupidity never dies.”

     “I’ll take one if you don’t mind.”

     “Thought you said you quit?”

     “Generally speaking…” I smiled.

     He smiled back and offered me the pack. I took one and lit up. We both stood there silent for a while again.  This time it was longer though I can’t say how long, but we finished that pack of cigarettes, I know that.

     The wind was beginning to pick up a little. It felt good.

     “I hated that kid,” he said suddenly. “Lord knows I did. Marcy Stevens, that’s her name. I know you’re a cop, but I’ll tell you anyway. I wanted to kill her. I wanted her not just to die, but to suffer before she died, actually suffer like I have been suffering now.”

     “Did you? I asked.

     “Did I what?”

     “Kill her.”

     He looked at me incredulously. “No, of course not. I had a lot of rage for a long time, and I thought up a lot of bad things. A lot of different ways to make her suffer. Run her down like she did Stella. Then run over her again and again, going back and forth. Then I thought of shooting her or stabbing her. But I…I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do any of that. Stella wouldn’t have wanted me to. She would have wanted me to forgive that kid. That’s the kind of sweet soul she was.”

     “Sounds like she was a wonderful person.”

     “Oh she was, she was.”

     “Have you been seeing anybody? Professionally I mean, a doctor.”

     “I did for a while, but I stopped going. I began drinking for a while, but I kept getting sick to my stomach. Never been able to tolerate booze well. I gave up on that too. That’s when I started coming out here to think. Thinking about a lot of things but mostly about,” he stops for a moment, “well, you can guess.”

     “Yeah, probably,” I said. “You should go back to the doctor.”

     “Yeah, but I have been coming out here for a while now. True, the first few times I came out here, I always had plans to…well, take the dive. End it all. But, somehow, I never did. Then I began coming out here as some sort of therapeutic thing. I’d talk to Stella, and for a while that was good. And she told me it was okay and I should go on with my life. Am I crazy, talking to a dead person?”

     “Lots of people do when they miss someone,” I said.

     “Well, believe it or not, it helped. I stopped coming here, and I thought I was over it all. You know, I figured I reached a point, with Stella’s blessings, where I could move on with my life. It was all okay for a time. A couple of months went by, and it was good. I even thought of dating. Then came one night when suddenly inside my head I felt all those old emotions and feelings come rushing back. The next night and the next were the same. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to come out here. It all came back. I wanted to jump again. I wanted it all to end. Then you appeared, and we talked. I’m okay now, at least for tonight.”

     “Well, I’m glad for that,” I said and truly was.

     “I guess it’s like being an alcoholic. You have to take it one day at a time.”

     “I guess, but I still think a doctor could help you along the way.”

     “You’re probably right. I should go back. Maybe next time you won’t be here to talk me down.”

     He looked at me.

     “I want to thank you,” he said. “You know, I just realized I don’t know your name.”

     “Moretti, Bob Moretti,” I said. “If you ever want to talk or need me, here is my cellphone number.” I took a card out and jotted down my personal number.

     “Mine’s Fred Smith.”

     We shook hands.

     By now, a couple of hours had passed, and the sun was beginning to rise slowly.

     “Wow, we’ve been here almost all night,” Fred said.

     “Time goes by when you’re having fun…” I said, trying to keep it light. “Like I said, Fred. Anytime. Just call me, and we can talk. I don’t want to come here again some night and find you down at the bottom of that river.”

     “I appreciate all this. Thanks, Officer Moretti.”

     “Bob,” I said.

     “Bob.”

     We shook hands again, and I walked over and got into my cruiser. I backed up to the end of the bridge and sat there for a moment watching as Fred got into his car. He was heading in the opposite direction from me.  His car started up. Suddenly, there was the screech of his tires. Bob’s car burned rubber as he drove right through the railings and off the bridge plunging into the cold river below.

     I waited for the rescue team to arrive. It took them a half hour to get here. By then the sun was almost up, and it was no longer a rescue operation. There’s no way Fred could have survived that frigid water, even if he survived the car’s dive into the river. Now, this was a recovery operation.

     They dragged the car out of the river. As expected, Fred was dead. Still strapped in with his seat belt which I found ironic since he planned on killing himself. Habit maybe?

     Also dead was the teenage girl, Marcy Stevens. She was tied up in the trunk of the car. Her cellphone was stuffed into her mouth and held there with tape.

 

 

 

Pitfall on TCM Friday

PitfallAndre de Toth’s  1948 film noir Pitfall will be on TCM Friday, September 29th, at 11:45AM. The film stars Dick Powell as John Forbes, a bored insurance investigator, allegedly  happily  married to Sue (Jane Wyatt). His world falls apart when he meets sultry Mona (Lizabeth Scott) whose lover embezzled money from Forbes’ company. Complicating matters is the P.I. (Raymond Burr) the insurance hired who also has eyes for the femme fatale.

Pitfall1De Toth and his writers weave a downward spiraling tale with elements of suburban discontent, stalking, infidelity and murder. Aptly titled, “Pitfall,” the film reflects the consequences of one man’s actions on many. Forbes infidelity leads to at least one man dead. Mona is in jail, arrested for at least attempted murder, and of course Forbes’ own marriage is now in a fragile state. –    From Film Noir at Twenty Four Frames Per Second.

Available at Amazon.Book Cover_DSC_0583-002_Final2_small

 

Depression Blues and the Dance Marathon

they-shoot-horsesDance marathons were phenomena that began in the 1920’s. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Horace McCoy’s 1935 novel is a dark tale of losers desperately attempting to hang on to impossible dreams. Just like in Nathaniel West better known novel, Day of the Locust the characters all have unreachable dreams of being in the movies. Continue reading “Depression Blues and the Dance Marathon”

Devious Tales

My thanks to author Carol Balawyder for the wonderful review of DEVIOUS TALES, my short story collection.

Carol Balawyder

There’s a saying in writing: make every word count or at the very least have every paragraph/scene be relevant. This can be argued, especially for the novel where there is room for sub-plots and leisure strolls through gardens and having tea with a favorite aunt. Not so for the short story. Short stories are (generally) tight, concentrated and condensed.

John Greco’s latest collection of short stories, Devious Tales has all the technical markings of this form and Greco skillfully merges his skill as writer and photographer in these twelve snapshots of life.

His stories are also highly influenced by his passion for noir film and fiction. His short story Late Night Diner reminded me of the rural diner in James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and I immediately associated his story The Organic Garden to one Stephen King could have written because of its macabre and conniving ending.

John…

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The Steel Helmet on TCM

TheSteelHelmetSam Fuller’s gritty Korean War film, The Steel Helmet,  will be on Turner Classic Movies on  Saturday May 27th (4:30pm ET) as part of its annual Memorial Day  Weekend  tribute. Despite being  over 60 Yeas old, the film is quite contemporary in its view of the  high cost of war. Gene Evans, Steve Brodie, Robert Hutton and James Edwards star in this under the radar film.

You can read more about it in my book, Lessons in the Dark, available at Amazon.

Here is an excerpt…

“Fuller has filled the screen with brutal battle scenes presenting one of the harshest views of the realities of war. Bloody, horrific and deadly. The men are dirty and scared. There are no heroes and no cowards, just men trying to survive and survival is precarious.  Fuller’s Americans are multi-cultural, from different backgrounds, filled with misfits and offbeat characters. From John Wayne’s patriotic war films to Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998), we have seen the unit composed of the misfit, the hotheaded kid, the kid from Brooklyn, the kid from the mid-west, the pacifist and so on. What makes The Steel Helmet unique is a coarse quality that filters throughout separating it from the others”  – Lessons in the Dark 

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Devious Tales: 12 Short Stories is Now Available online at Barnes and Noble

My new collection of short stories,  Devious Tales: 12 Short Stories, is now available as both a Nook ebook and in paperback from Barnes & Noble. The paperback contains two bonus stories!Devious Tales Book Cover - Final (1 of 1)-001

You can also purchase it from Amazon, Kobo and CreateSpace.

Holcomb Bridge
Holcomb Bridge has been a secluded and romantic make out spot for the local teenagers for many years, but that changed one late night.

Amanda
Photographer Derek Shaw’s life changes in both good and bad ways after he meets Karen, the new love in his life, and her two kids, Gerald and Amanda.

Late Night Diner
Some people like working the over night shift. Others need to. It gives their demons and nightmares a place to escape.

Smart Like Dillinger
Love, even in old age, can take an unforeseen turn.

An Almost Perfect Woman
Judy was perfect…well almost. She did have one little problem.

Life Lesson
For young Bobby Smithfield there are some lessons you never recover from.

The Organic Garden
A bad marriage and an organic garden make for a delicious mix of ingredients that will make your garden grow.

An Office Romance
Office romances can be great; they can also be bad. However, sometimes it’s just what you need when your life is about to take a deadly turn.

The Anniversary Surprise
As Brad Hollis discovers, surprises do not always turn out quite as you anticipate.

The Old Man
Young Billy Atwood becomes friends with an old man who lives in his apartment building. Their relationship is short lived, but for Billy there’s an unexpected twist of fate.

A Merry Little Christmas Gift
The holidays can brings out the worst in everyone, and does in this Christmas treat.

Call Waiting
Can old lovers come back and haunt you? Well, not if they are dead…or can they?

New Release: Devious Tales

devious-tales-book-cover-final-1-of-1Devious Tales is my new collection of short stories consisting of 12 dark tales with a twist. It’s available as both an e-book and a paperback from Amazon and as a paperback from CreateSpace. The paperback edition contains two bonus stories. Check out the summary below.

Holcomb Bridge
Holcomb Bridge has been a secluded and romantic make out spot for the local teenagers for many years, but that changed one late night.

Amanda
Photographer Derek Shaw’s life changes in both good and bad ways after he meets Karen, the new love in his life, and her two kids, Gerald and Amanda.

Late Night Diner
Some people like working the over night shift. Others need to. It gives their demons and nightmares a place to escape.

Smart Like Dillinger
Love, even in old age, can take an unforeseen turn.

An Almost Perfect Woman
Judy was perfect…well almost. She did have one little problem.

Life Lesson
For young Bobby Smithfield there are some lessons you never recover from.

The Organic Garden
A bad marriage and an organic garden make for a delicious mix of ingredients that will make your garden grow.

An Office Romance
Office romances can be great; they can also be bad. However, sometimes it’s just what you need when your life is about to take a deadly turn.

The Anniversary Surprise
As Brad Hollis discovers, surprises do not always turn out quite as you anticipate.

The Old Man
Young Billy Atwood becomes friends with an old man who lives in his apartment building. Their relationship is short lived, but for Billy there’s an unexpected twist of fate.

A Merry Little Christmas Gift
The holidays can brings out the worst in everyone, and does in this Christmas treat.

Call Waiting
Can old lovers come back and haunt you? Well, not if they are dead…or can they?

Win a Free Copy of My Book “Devious Tales”

devious-tales-book-cover-final-1-of-1I am giving away 12 copies of my new book, Devious Tales: 12 Short Stories.  Winners will receive the PDF version of the paperback edition which contains two bonus stories. Below are the simple rules…

  1. E-mail me at John.twentyfourframes@gmail.com. In the subject line type Book Contest. Provide your email address. I will send you a PDF file that can be downloaded to your PC, I-Pad or other device, along with a JPEG file of the book’s cover.
  2. I strongly encourage you to write an honest, and I do mean honest, review and post it either on Amazon, Goodreads and Blog if you have one. All three would the best scenario.  That said, the recipient is not obligated to write a review, but hey, that’s why I am sending you the book.
  3. If you do have a blog and write a review, please send a link back to me.

That’s  all there is to it.

Devious Tales – Now Available as a Paperback

devious-tales-book-cover-final-1-of-1Devious Tales: 12 Short Stories is now available as a paperback! The paperback version includes two bonus stories. Both were previously published in Murder with a Twist. You can get you copy here at CreateSpace. It will also be available on Amazon in  a few days. The e-book is now available here at Amazon.

Inspiration: Where Does it Come From?

Abandoned Shack - 1924-CW-1144I find inspiration can from anywhere and at any time. Many times it happens when you least expect it. For Life Lesson, one of  twelve short stories in my new e-book, Devious Tales, it came from the above photograph I took back in 2015 in Vermont. My wife and I did a photographic road trip that began in Burlington. From there we made our way to Woodstock, St.  Johnsbury and eventually back to Burlington; making multiple stops to photograph what caught our eye along the way. One day during this road trip we found ourselves on a dirt road. Instead of turning around, we decided to see where it would lead. There was actually little to see or photograph except for this old boarded house. I took a few photos from different angles and we went on our way.

The house intrigued me. I wondered who built it way back in 1924? Why in the middle of nowhere? Who and how many people have lived here since? What happened to them? It all stayed buried in my head. As the idea for Life Lesson began to take root, this house was the image that suddenly appeared in my head, and where most of the action in the story takes place.

Like any creative individual does, no matter what form your art takes,  you observe, you listen and you store away information into a mental or physical file for possible future use. That’s where it remains, waiting for that spark of creative juice to bring to life something new.

You can read Life Lesson and other short stories in Devious Tales. Currently, available as an e-book on Amazon. Click here.

It will soon be available as a paperback. More on that later.

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