Inspiration for MAKE IT WRITE

Belfast Co-op Community BoardWhy I took this photo of a typical community board remains a mystery even to me. But it soon became the inspiration for my short story Make it Write. The photograph was taken at the Belfast Co-op in Maine.

belfast

Like all community boards, it’s filled with notices of local events, lost pets, local concerts, and business cards for lawyers, dog walkers, cat sitters, etc. This ordinary looking community board made me think about what would happen if there was a business card that read, I CAN HELP. Nothing else on the card except for a phone number. Help with what was the first question that popped up in my mind followed by this must be a scam. I then wondered what would happen if I took one of the cards and called. What would the price be? For my character, George Jensen, a failed novelist, in  Make it Write the price may be more than he bargained for.

Make it Write Book Cover Final2r-002

MAKE IT WRITE is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

 

 

“Bitter Ends” on Sale for Only 99 Cents

For a limited time my collection of short stories, Bitter Ends, is on sale for only 99 cents at Amazon Just click here.

an intriguing collection oft quick, quirky short stories that deal with infidelity and revenge. They read fast and furious. – Joseph Souza – author of The Perfect Daughter.

“Bitter Ends” is jam packed with quick, nasty little numbers full of cheating and murdering spouses and twisty turns of fate. – David H. Schleicher author of And Then We Vanish.

Bitter Ends2-003 Preview with Border

Like Lana Turner in Postman only Deadlier

She took one step into the bedroom framing herself by the open bathroom door. Jimmy stared at her.  Exactly as John Garfield first saw Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice, he thought: white shorts, halter top, and turban.   Only this time Margaret added one more accessory… – The Late Show and Other Tales of Celluloid Malice

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords

Lana Potman 

Short Story: Social Distancing

Tad was a wild and reckless kid. We’ve known each other since middle school, hanging out many afternoons when we cut classes: smoking pot, drinking, and picking up girls. They were good times until we’d get caught. Our parents reacted in different ways to the news. Tad’s father always physically hit him. There were times he came to school with visible bruises. When the teachers questioned him, he always said he got into a fight with some kids who he refused to name. My father never hit me. Instead, he’d sermonize. No, he’s no preacher, at least not in the traditional sense. Dad would sit me down and give me what he called a good talking to or a lecture: why cutting classes is wrong, why it is wrong to lie, why it is wrong to be friends with a kid like Tad. The talks were long, lasting close to an hour each time. By the end of his sermon, I prayed he would just hit me and get it over with.

As time passed, I became more responsible: graduated high school, went to college, and got a good job. I guess my father’s sermon’s sunk in; I did not want to jeopardize my future by having a bad reputation that would follow me through the years. Tad didn’t give a damn. He barely graduated from high school. Had one low-paying job after another, none of which lasted long. Through it all we remained best friends, though he thought I became a flaming pussy. Afraid to take chances I wasn’t, I just grew up and learned that many of those chances were not worth taking, like sleeping with your best friend’s wife. Technically, Jenny wasn’t my wife at the time; we were engaged. Tad later said that still made her available.

Jenny and I married. I didn’t know about their hooking up at the time. Neither of them ever mentioned it. After Jenny and I divorced ten years later, Tad assumed it was okay to tell me about it since Jenny and I no longer were husband and wife.

I never forgave him.

I finally understood what my father told me at the end of all those lengthy sermons which he always finished by saying, “Tad’s a jerk.” That he was. Still, we remained friends. Don’t ask me why? I don’t think I can explain why.

Jerks! There are plenty of jerks around these days. Stupid may be a better word, and unlike COVID19 when someday there will be a cure. There will never be a cure for stupid. After being caged up in his apartment for more than a month, Tad couldn’t take it any longer and decided he needed to get some beach time in now that the county reopened the beaches.

“Tad, I don’t think it’s a great idea, going to the beach,” I said. “There will be hundreds of people there and who knows who is carrying the virus.”

“Hey man, we live in Florida! The beach is what we live for, Sand and surf, watching women strolling along in bikinis, fishing, watching women hanging out in bikinis, what could be better?”

“It’s reckless!”

“All these years and you’re still a flaming pussy.”

“People are not going to social distance.”

“The sun and heat kill the germs.”

“Tad, there is no proof of that.”

“The President wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.”

“Listen to the scientist and doctors. You’re better off.”

“You’re coming with me, my friend.”

“No, I’m not.”

Tad laughed. “Fine, I’ll go myself. Sit in your apartment all day, every day, doing whatever you do. I can’t take it anymore. No one in our lifetime has ever had to sacrifice like we’re doing now. This is America, man, we have rights, and we have the freedom to do what we want.”

“You make it sound like staying home is the biggest sacrifice ever. How about the people who went through the years of the Great Depression, World War

i and II? And what about Anne Frank and her family who hid from the Nazis for over two years? No sun, no rain, they couldn’t see the sky or the grass.  All we have to do is stay home and watch Netflix, and you can’t do it!”

“That’s all bullshit; this is not a war. And we have our rights.”

“Oh yes, it is a war, and we will lose it, or at least those of us who are reckless enough will lose it. Freedom doesn’t mean you can be reckless and get other people sick and die!”

Tad didn’t pay attention. He called me a drama queen and went to the beach.

That night on TV they showed the crowds on the newly opened beach, hundreds, if not thousands, of people. There was no room for social distancing, even if you wanted to observe it. Tad made it on the news that night. As the local news commentator spoke and the camera scanned the crowded beach, there stood Tad next to this beautiful blonde in a skimpy bikini. They were part of the crowd in the background cramped together with other beachgoers, Tad, the blonde and everyone waving at the camera attempting to get their one moment of TV fame. Less than a minute later, as the commentator wrapped up the segment, Tad and the blonde were hugging and kissing each other as the surrounding crowd egged them on, and giving each other hi-fives.

Tad told me the next day over the phone, since I refused now to see him in person, that her name was Sandy; they met that day. Like Tad, Sandy loved the beach.

That was the last time I spoke to Tad. His father called me a few weeks later; he was crying. Tad was dead from COVID 19.

Copyrighted 2020 by John Greco

You can find more of my short stories at Amazon.

Book Review: And Then We Vanish

And Then

In his first collection of short stories, D.H. Schleicher’s And Then We Vanish gives us an intriguing assortment of 11 tales accumulated over a ten year period. Each story ends with a twist, many of which you will not see coming. In each tale, people’s lives change, not always for the better. “When Night Falls on Niagara,” one of my favorites is both a whimsical and mysterious tale and will make you wonder what’s real and not real about one of America’s most famous landmarks. Another gem, “Upon the Unfortunate News of My Death,” deals with modern-day social media. How spreading rumors and misinformation can so easily change lives. “Anthrax and Cherry Blossoms,” “Somebody You Use to Know,” “Boko Harem’s Greatest Hits” are a few more of my top picks. Schleicher has a style that draws you in and makes you care about each of his characters. There is both humor and chills.  And Then We Vanish is available at Amazon.

The Late Show is Now Playing!

IT’S HERE!  Today my latest collection of short stories, The Late Show and Other Tales of Celluloid Malice, is available for purchase on Amazon as both an eBook and paperback.

The Late Show Poster Collage2

Eight dark short stories all with two things in common – Movies and Malice! Murder, revenge, greed and more are now playing.  The stories include:

The Late Show Kindlw Cover-004The Late Show

I Ain’t So Tough

Six Shooter

The Green Light

The Movie Club

The Cabin

The Butcher’s Kid

Benny and Slaughter

Creativity Comes From…

Creativity comes from many sources and directions: newspaper articles, movies, dreams, travel, photographs, talking to others and more. Writers observe as do photographers and other artists. To me, that is the key to creativity… observation.  You see something, you hear something and that gets your creative juices flowing. I have been inspired to write by my own photographs. For example, the photo below was taken at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. The photograph inspired a story called The Bombay Hook Incident.

Sunrise Bombay Hook NWR Delaware CW-1572

 A little background. My wife and I went on a photo trip with photographer John Slonina, and The Bombay National Wildlife Refuge was one of our stops. As any photographer knows, early mornings are a great time to shoot, especially landscape and wildlife. While driving around the refuge, we came across a tent near some sand dunes. Apparently, some people camped there overnight. I doubt it’s legal to do so, but there they were. The scenery, the beautiful morning skies, the abundance of wildlife got me thinking, and I wrote this story about a female photographer out there alone in the early morning who runs across a shady individual looking to steal her photography equipment. It was published last year in the online A Million and One Magazine. You can read it here.

This leads me to my new collection of short stories, The Late Show and Other Tales of Celluloid Malice. One story, The Butcher’s Kid, is about an older teenage boy who helps his father get out of a jam with a local hoodlum. I was thinking about my old Brooklyn neighborhood and a butcher shop that my mother frequented. The butcher had a daughter about my age. We both attended the same junior high school and shared a class or two together. The girl was pretty, and I admittedly had a bit of a crush on her. That’s probably the reason it remains a memory. Using that as the background, except for the girl who is not in the story, I came up with this short tale of a father and son protecting their turf and themselves.

The Late Show Kindlw Cover-004

The Butcher’s Kid is one of eight short stories, all with two things in common – Movies and Malice! Murder, revenge, greed and more are now playing. These stories may make you change your movie-going habits. Available now for pre-order. Due on March 3rd.

Book Review: Double Feature

hardacsw

Hard Case Crime recently brought back Donald Westlake’s 1977 book Enough under a new title called Double Feature. The original book was hard to find unless your local library had a copy. That’s where I originally discovered it some years back. Double Feature consists of two short novellas; A Travesty is the longest and best of the two stories. The second story, Ordo is decidedly less interesting. With the recent publication under its new title, I reread A Travesty and still found it a fun read. Attached is a link to a post called A Slight Case of Donald Westlake, I wrote a few years back that includes a review of Enough/Double Feature.