In my head, a mental timer ticked – eleven hours fifty-two minutes
A half dozen times over the past two weeks I begged, “Nothing special, please.” And today was no different.
“Why so sad?” she asked, dancing across the kitchen floor, a light hum spilling from her lips. After sixteen years of marriage, she was still stunning, and the tactic of using the hum to drown out my pleas. Well, I’m familiar with that ploy. But unbeknownst to her, I spotted the iconic yellow Post-it notes. And when she wasn’t looking I dug them from the trash. Written in her familiar handwriting, were names, numbers, and a recurrent date. That date was today. So, I knew she was up to something. And who could blame her, it was a special day. It was a day for celebration. “See you tonight,” she said, pushing me out the front door with honey-do-list and a soft peck on the cheek.…
“We need more guns,” Teddy Koala said, standing back from the array before them.
Teddy was the more aggressive of the pair while Rudolph, a year older, was the planner and dreamer. He was the one who insisted he’d once read an article that had identified the brothers as the most feared killing machine in Australia’s notorious Northwest Territory in the last hundred years.
Teddy liked the idea that they were men to be feared. His only concern was that, if the newspapers were so determined to help run them down that they might use an old photo that cast the damaged right side of his face in a poor light, making him look less like a predator and more like a victim.
Rudolph knew Teddy was right. “What exactly are we missing?”…
Twelve days after Christmas, prowling the attic for her mother’s prescription pills, Melanie finds beneath the toolbox a prescription bottle filled with finishing nails. Apparently, Ativan and carpentry were so last year. She shakes the bottle, creating a manufactured hailstorm. The noise brings clarification to her New Year’s resolution to hang clothes on her bedroom walls—except for space above the headboard plastered with a 20×40 poster of Tom Selleck’s hairy-chest. She fills the inaugural wall with black pantyhose, a blue bra and lace panties, a gray mini skirt, and a zebra-print blouse and belt. Finding a new way to get high until an old high is reinstated is still a type of high. Ah-ha moment number one.…
Garner adjusted his mask, pulling the Plastiskin(TM) tight against his throat. He flashed two fingers to his clone who stood at the end of the hall. He wanted to make sure Garner2 knew to wait a couple of minutes before knocking on the door.
His clone answered with a smile.
Garner was glad he’d programmed the clone to smile like a normal person. Lexa never liked how uneasy his own smiles were and now he could see why. Watching Garner2, he felt a sense of warmth. If he wanted to smile like that, he’d have to learn to do it the old-fashioned way: practice. No way would he install a personality chip in his own head. There were limits to his love and the risk of unleashing a computer virus in his brain was one of them.…
Three out of nine days, writing for William Talbot was a joy. The other six days his time would be better-spent fishing. This typically gorgeous morning in the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, Central Mexico, where the air strokes the skin like a lover, started out one of the joy days. But then the telephone rang. A low down bedroom whisper asked for him by name. He thought she might be one of his students. “We need to meet right away. You have information I’ve got to have.”
Couldn’t be about her grade. After the university back home refused to give him tenure he quit and came down here to teach tourists, hoping to connect for romance. He did not give grades. “What information?”
A sharp intake of breath carried over. “On a foreign phone? No way.”
He visualized a tall and willowy brunette spy with a classic bob, short of lip, long of bone, and with knowing eyes. He cleared the morning tequila phlegm from his throat and dropped his voice down into the gravel-in-tin-bucket range. “What’s your name?”
She lowered her voice an octave and the image took on a high-arching upper lip and a game under bite.…