I am excited to reveal the book cover for my new collection of Christmas themed short stories. ‘Tis The Season will be out this coming October. Murder, mayhem and mistletoe for the holidays. It will be available only as an eBook and cost only .99 cents. More details coming soon.
There is something comfortable or maybe not so comfortable reading dark tales about where you live. So I was excited to discover “Tampa Bay Noir.” I was equally disappointed by the book. Not because the stories are bad, they are not, but if you looking for noir, well, at best there are a few noir lite tales. With the title, and the long running series that it is part of, I was expecting darker tales. The stories give us a view of modern Tampa Bay filled with subdivisions, malls and homes by the water. Edited by Collette Bennett, book reviewer for the Tampa Bay Times, who contributes a story, the collection gets off with a good start with Michael Connelly who brings the iconic Harry Bosch to Tampa Bay to help an old friend. Lori Roy follows with another interesting tale, one of the darker ones. Other highlights include stories by Tim Dorsey, Lisa Unger, Ace Atkins, Gale Massey, Danny Lopez, and the previously mentioned Collette Bennett. There is not a bad story, but the dark noir streets are missing.
Why 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.
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.
Below is the latest rave review on THE LATE SHOW AND OTHER TALES OF CELLULOID MALICE
Reviewed in the United States on June 21, 2020
Author John Greco’s book of short stories, “The Late Show,” ties together the writer’s passion of old movies (mostly Films Noir, peopled by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson) and tales which end in some twist of fate for their protagonist, anti-hero, or villain.
I don’t want to go into too many details, because reviewers who give spoiler alerts are missing the forest for the trees. But, there are husbands and wives whose marriages have soured; spoiled rich kid heirs and random innocent bystanders; a beloved fixture of the community who finds his purpose in life suddenly and sadly obsolescent; a vegetarian hitman who got into his line of work by turning some tables; a hippie-dippy chick whose crystal ball needs some new batteries; someone who lost his temper, and leaked a little blood on his way into the Bijou; and, to borrow a line from Johnny Cash, some of Hollywood’s has-beens, would be’s and never weres.
Greco expertly taps out some dark tales on his typewriter, but even the darkest have a light touch — he doesn’t bog the reader down in excessive gore and depravity. Drawing upon the experiences of his youth and early adulthood, many of his tales are set in New York City and Upstate. He has an uncanny knack for conveying these locales not unlike crime thriller writer Mickey Spillane.
This is the first book of Greco’s I’ve read, and his stories are quite entertaining, written in the style of the golden age magazine fiction of midcentury. Definitely recommended
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.
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
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?”
“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.
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 Movie Club meets every other week. Tonight is also Halloween night and it’s going to be frightful.
The Movie Club is one of eight short stories with a movie tinted flavor in my new collection, The Late Show and Other Tales of Celluloid Malice. Available at Amazon.