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E. A. Irwin ~ Dark Fiction Bender

P. A. Matthews
Official site for Riley McCabe series

Dirt Beneath the Shamrocks

 

Welcome to my Blog! What lurks beneath all that Irish charm? Updates on the new Riley McCabe novel in progress - "The Blood-filled Kiss" or "Inhuman" depending on the day and mood ... plus news on published works, the other huge work in progress - the Shamrock series, and hit and miss bullets regarding writing, and my ... umm ... personal life ... when I get one.

Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. Be sure to join the site!

Ta and peace,

E. A. Irwin/Patricia

 

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Celebrating Women in Horror Month

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

 

It is with great humbleness I submit to you one of the publications honoring Women in Horror writers this month.

Among the pages you will find great writers who all have three things in common: love of horror in its many facets, great storytelling abilities, and they are women.

While the debate rages on whether women can write horror as well as men, lets put that aside and enjoy the stories provided in this magazine. If you took out the names of the authors, I think you would be surprised the stories have no gender slant, aren't written while rampant feminine hormones rushed through their bodies, but are meant to deliver what horror readers want - a good story.

I'm pleased my poem Inkwell of Blood and short story Frankie's Day made the cut and shares pages with some great writers.

Support writers, whether female or male. Read and escape into their worlds. Enjoy your time within our words.

New Year, New Work!

Posted on January 12, 2014 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to the year 2014! Honestly, I can't believe it is now 2014, yet here I sit several days into the year, wondering where it will take me.

First, let me thank those who have continually come back to this blog to read. I know there aren't many of you, but I appreciate each person who takes the time to click on my name, even if it is for a second, to see if anything new is happening.

2013 closed out the year with several stories making it in to anthologies! Yay for me! The side bar over on your left shows where you can purchases these great tomes of writing fun. Something for everyone!

So far this year I have several poems to be included in an anthology, plus the long-awaited publication of the Sideshow Anthology, which is stellar.

Also this year I will devote most of my writing time to finishing the first three books in the Shamrock series and with hope find someone who wants to publish this series. For those familiar with the Riley McCabe series, there will be a few cross-over characters appearing, as well as a few intertwined storylines. This was always my intent when creating the Riley McCabe series along with a few interconnected short stories, for them to be under the giant umbrella of the Shamrock series. A vast undertaking and one I'm looking forward to continuing.

I think I will put my progress on the Shamrock series either here or under the page on the site, but I'll let you know soon where to look. I promise you will either love or hate the characters in these series and hopefully look forward to all their adventures. I know I do.

So Happy New Year to all and thither forward into 2014 which promises to be a great year. If anyone has questions about the series and what is in store, please don't hestitate to leave a note and I'll answer anything I am able. I love interaction so don't be afraid. I don't bite. I leave that to some of my characters.

Ta for now,

E. A. Irwin

Coming to your nightmares October 1, 2013

Posted on September 28, 2013 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Two of my stories, Died to Match and Tourniquet are included in two, yes two anthologies! 

 

Here it comes ... aimed right at your brain ... over twenty contributors in two volumes of horror waiting to invade your dreams and nightmares. Satan's Holiday and Welcome to your Nightmare. 

 

I will post places for purchase when the links are available, or you can send me a message and I'll hook you up with a book.

Talisman

Posted on January 26, 2013 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (14)

 

This week's word is "light."

 

 

 

Talisman

 

 

By

 

E. A. Irwin

 

 

Aquamarine panorama fills my vision. Pounding surf, upon ancient rock, seduces my ears. I hear the siren’s song, beckoning me to jump from my perch in surrender. Sheets of brilliant hue adorn the sea as the sun presents a heart-stopping show before bidding adieu.

 

From where I sit, the world seems perfect.

 

Seems.

 

A nebulous word. Yet, that is all which remains. Misty vagueness surrounds my heart, an imperfect dwelling where security should lie.

 

Briny wind taunts, though all I smell are zephyrs. A constant reminder of the elements you love.

 

Sea.

 

Wind.

 

Rocks, where I stand, awaiting your return.

 

The sketchbook you gave me is filled with daily reminders representing our lives. As I stare across the vastness of time and space, waves violently caress this place, and all I do is pray their laced cuffs of foam will hold your hands to claim me.

 

Wind catches the straw hat upon my head, worn to avoid the harsh sun’s rays, as I sketch another scene for you. Watching its voyage toward the horizon makes my heart sing our lost melody. Strange, something so unexpected would bring such joy.

 

I have time for one last sketch before I must return to the artifice of life. My hands work with the speed of an unknown force, attempting capture of the sea’s ever-changing beauty.

 

But there exists no remnant of time.

 

Space.

  

Just completeness infusing my heart.

 

My handiwork beseeches my stare. There you are. Picture perfect. Calling from a distant, lighted shore. As I run my hands over your face, I then caress the shell hanging around my neck. The talisman you always touched to bring good fortune, given to me before your last sail.

 

I refuse acceptance of you lost at sea. Surely, I would feel that loss, cutting as the reaper’s scythe divides life. Standing, I remove the talisman, kissing the object of our shared happiness.

 

It is cast into the transfiguring sea. Knowing you will always return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Unopened Box

Posted on January 20, 2013 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (15)

 This week's word is "package."

 

 

 

The Unopened Box

 

 

by

 

E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

Barbara didn’t need the incessant ring of the doorbell adding another layer of nuisance to her already harried day. She gritted her teeth, and swallowed an obscenity after banging her hip on the edge of the foyer table she’d tried to avoid when rushing to the front door. A delivery boy, sporting a wide grin upon her opening the door, only heightened her need to scream.

 

“Wait a minute,” Barbara grabbed her handbag off the table and dug through it with clumsy fingers, “let me give you a tip.” She withdrew a crumpled bill, and jammed it in the boy’s hand in exchange for the package he held.

 

He slowly smoothed the dollar and offered her another grin. “Thanks, ma’am.”

 

“Sure.”

 

Barbara scowled at the offending table as she placed the package on it, and then limped toward the washer’s ongoing nagging buzzer. Why couldn’t that have been the repair man instead of some silly kid with an equally goofy smile? She ran her hands through her disheveled hair, and dashed from the foyer, the unopened box evaporating from her thoughts, as her attention honed in on the potential flood in the basement due to the overflowing washer.

 

She worked throughout the remainder of the day in a state of oblivion. How many chores could she finish in the few hours left before she met her husband for dinner? The telephone jangled a discordant tone, and threatened to splinter the last nerve in Barbara’s brain. Her cries echoed through the empty rooms. “Will this day never end?”

 

After a quick shower and donning a soft blue dress, Barbara made one last adjustment to her lipstick before hurrying out the door for her much anticipated anniversary dinner. She saw the parcel’s reflection in the foyer mirror, and realized she’d never opened it.

 

She tore off the paper. Dug inside the package, and extracted an exquisite cloisonné music box. Opening the card, Barbara read these words: “They are playing our song.” She sighed as she wound the key and listened to the tinkling love song.

 

Her sigh ended in a frown when she looked at her watch. Gathering her purse and coat, she slammed the front door, and ran to her car. As she opened the car door, an explosion rocked her home. She stared in disbelief as the front door shattered and her house blew apart in a violent shower of burning wood and blackened bricks. She’d wanted the day to end. But not this way. Not with her death.

 

* * *

 

To this day, the bomb remains an unsolved mystery.

 

A disconnection of dots.

 

A delivery from a dyslexic teen.

 

Received by an inattentive woman.

 

The intended victim—at the correct address—now under witness protection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Green Grass of Christmas

Posted on December 17, 2012 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

 

 

Truth, most times, is stranger than fiction. I present to you today something which could never be made up. A strange little tale from the annals of my personal life ... shocking, though true. Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

 

The Green Grass of Christmas

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

“You want what?”

 

 

I stared into the small, bloodshot, piggy eyes of my next-door neighbor. His appearance resembled one of the members of ZZ Top—an out of shape, bare-footed, frighteningly tattooed, cigarette-sucking, beer-swilling member none of the group wanted. I didn’t even mind tattoos. Some ink is quite beautiful; however, his were just plain ol’ ugly. Did I mention his fingernails resembled yellowed eagle talons?

 

 

He’d been rejected by ZZ Top and me. Sans guitar, sans anything that would make his standing on my front porch on a Sunday morning more intriguing, or more attractive, although, he did wear a baseball hat covering his out of control frizzy yellow head of hair which blessedly cast a shadow on his less than appealing features. Unfortunately, the shadow cast wasn’t dark or deep enough to prevent me from gawking at the teeth that matched the level of hair color, rushing quickly toward brown barn boards.

 

 

The urgent desire to vote him invisible accelerated through me faster than if I’d sucked on an extra strong tea bag while eating Sugar Pops. The level of his performance attempted to be somewhat original though; just couldn’t wait to hear the profanity sure to come as he honed his watery, blue pig eyes on mine.

 

  

Insanity began with this back story: I informed the gardener he didn’t need to trim the hedges, since the last time he’d cut them back I waited almost an entire day to look at them, knowing his expertise with a hedge-trimmer was similar to doing chemistry in an Easy Bake kitchen. Let me just say when I did look expletives exploded in my head, raining like the last bright white, phosphorescent bursting Fourth of July firework—causing a really saucy curse word to exit my mouth. But the man really was one of the nicest gardeners we’ve ever had, even if he was shorter than me by several inches, and I’m not tall, thus making it decisively difficult for him to get the correct stance on the stool I’d provided for his gardening feats.

 

 

I have five large hedges. Personally, I like their fluffy outgrowth and usually cut the hedges until I’m no longer able to reach the height differential with the electric hedge-trimmer known by me as the vibrating dead severed leg. I loosed the gardener with his trimmer. Shame on me. Now that I’m positive that his expertise isn’t bushes, we’re fine, just too much angst on my part due to his getting paid for making them ugly.

 

 

Had I tried for geometric puzzle shapes to compete in upcoming gardening magazine design layouts, I was on my way. I now possessed two parallelograms, a trapezoid, and one suspiciously resembling a rhombus. The remaining bush he hadn’t touched (apparently his search for three-hundred and sixty degrees on each bush had boggled his mind to the point of anarchy) so luckily it still remained in a gentle round blob. Geometry gone wild, and he hadn’t even tried. In fact, he’d been quite proud he’d accomplished so much with his hedge-trimmer, and what he’d used to get those really fine cuts down the sides—his weed eater. Truly a man of many talents and wonders, so I’m back to doing them, dragging out my trimmer, holding the vibrating severed leg over my head until I’m finished.

 

 

But I digressed. As I mentioned, I’d interrupted the gardener’s conversation with my neighbor, a dual purpose since the ZZ Top wannabe was preventing him from doing his job. Not that I don’t want the gardener to obtain further employment or mind him having unusual friends, I just don’t want him getting in the middle of what I sense coming; Ol’ Long Beard making some demand of the gardener, me, or the people that live in my house. Basically, I don’t want ZZ around. Period.

 

 

Apparently, the lilting sound of my voice reached the gardener’s ears. He turned, acknowledging my presence with a seemingly desperate and heightened expression. Like, could I come out and get between him and yellow teeth so he could get back to work?

 

 

No. He’s an adult. He’s a man. I’m a short non-confrontational woman who just wants the lawn mown and edged. Besides, my voting ZZ invisible hadn’t worked, and the bag of incantations for insipid bothersome neighbors was truly empty, its last power depleted on my previous attempt at community peace with him. Suffice it to say, ZZ’s last foray into his realm of persecution, while screaming dim-witted and disgusting insults, resulted in me staring into those creepy eyes and demanding he bite me. Simple. Au contraire, nothing is ever simple as we march toward world peace and ZZ’s version of world dominance.

 

 

As the gardener acknowledged me, I quickly turned to retreat into the inner sanctum of my home, my wishes known, and my job completed until he is handed a check for his work. Unfortunately, the neighbor also witnessed me, heard my voice as it spoke words intended for instruction, ignoring the fact it was definitely not an invitation for interaction between us. Hiding on my porch as the bush spoke to the gardener reached fail safe. I heard those words. Words I’d rather not hear. “I want to speak to you.”

 

 

I ignored him. Not nice, don’t care. He raised his coffee cup, as if noticing the odd-shaped pottery thrown on some off-kilter potter’s wheel would grab my attention and hypnotize me into conversation. The cup? One of those clay things in the shape of a triangle with a flat bottom and a small hole in the top so liquid doesn’t slosh unknowingly onto your car’s interior—some weird tri-color combination which clashed with his otherworldly appearance, the only color in harmony that of muddy brown resembling his teeth. Another influx of geometry to make my brain hurt.

 

 

The plea of his triangle cup fell on deaf ears. I stepped inside, watching through the security door to see if he was going to cross the border like a welcomed guest. Yep, the yellow man cometh—straight to my door, his sense of boundaries unknown to him and his kith and kin. Another thing which bothered me far more than any tragically cut hedge could ever accomplish. An infiltrator he was. Come to lay his form of crap on my porch like a member of the Hell’s Angels Taliban. Life was always his way, none other existed.

 

 

Side note: The man has the smallest stride I’ve ever seen in a man. What was with the teeny, tiny steps the likes of which I haven’t witnessed since Fred Flintstone approached the bowling lane to throw a strike? As he pitter-pattered his way toward my door, I couldn’t even think about what to say, too mesmerized by those baby steps, as I imagined him toppling off bright red stilettos onto the sidewalk. Perhaps he wasn’t aware the coffee couldn’t escape the triangle cup no matter how big of steps he took. The sight of him became intriguing in the worst possible way, as I struggled with the urge to laugh hysterically, while yelling something inappropriate. I bit my lip and remained mute not wanting to stoke the fire building in his belly.

 

 

One step, two, up on the porch, I see you. He bore an expression only his odd features could capture. Something was on his mind, and he was going to be a neighbor in the most ingratiating form. Falsely pleasant, with a giant plop of humility on the side.

 

 

I stepped from my living room in an attempt to stop the pollution of his person from entering my sanctuary, while sparing those inside the travesty of his words as he worked up some sort of outlaw conversation. He spoke. The wannabe possessed one of the most unusual voices, muffled, yet strangely piercing as it reached your ears doing a dance of insanity while it pushed along the auditory canal. The man was slightly deaf; most assuredly from listening to head-banger metal most of his life. I listened to the oddity of his speech, suddenly transfixed on his piggy eyes, yellow beard and ochre teeth, the bare feet and vastly protruding beer gut, and longed to pull the baseball cap lower so I no longer had to stare at the freak. The tenor of his voice soon became background noise while my eyes took in the troll before me.

 

 

I stood on the porch, my Tara, waiting for his words to ignite the fires that would inevitably burn. My best conversation was going to be short, an economy of words just to get him gone. “What.”

 

 

“I like Christmas. I really like to decorate for the season.”

 

 

This was September. We’d just had Labor Day, and were nowhere near celebrating scaring each other on Halloween, hadn’t had a chance to honor the veterans, for pity’s sake we hadn’t gotten to eat turkey or be thankful at Thanksgiving. Besides, I’d seen his decorating; the opportunity of not witnessing it again waged uppermost in my mind.

 

 

I’d been known to decorate at Christmas. Sometimes the hedges become giant packages tied up in red ribbons leading the way to my home, though I’ll admit one year wasn’t my finest. I’d purchased sets of lights all strung on a grid, placing them strategically over my hedges, hoping a soft glow of illumination would enhance the winter’s night. I was wrong. I know I was wrong, because all I saw in the winter’s night was a grid for algebraic equations. I couldn’t find X or Y, and am still unsure if I had traversed into negative numbers, and couldn’t remove the suckers since everything got tied up nice and pretty in those red bows. I understood the mistake and those lights never went up again.

 

 

His decorations? Well, some strands of mismatched lights still hung in their catawampus positions from last year, his form of decorating similar to his disarranged mind. Last year a scarecrow sat in its prominent position on the bale of hay along with a reindeer and various other tributes to the holidays. Frightening in the worst possible way, as if someone decorated while on LSD. I take that back. That comment was unfair to those losing their minds on hallucinogens—he’s just tacky.

 

 

I contemplated what to say, his statement expected some sort of response. “And?”

 

 

“I really like to do it up, like things really nice and I want to see a sea of green lawn for Christmas. I spoke with the gardener to have him seed our lawns and put something special on it so it will remain green across both properties.”

 

 

Something special? Wasn’t part of the promise of winter and cold weather simply that the grass stopped growing and you didn’t have to tend to it? Wasn’t this the circle of life for grass, undisturbed by my interfering with water and seed? Wasn’t this Bermuda grass at its finest?

 

“You want what?”

 

 

“Don’t worry about the expense; I’ll pay for everything to get us going.”

 

 

The visions dancing in my head weren’t sugarplums, but invoices for winter rye, fertilizer and all the water wasted on sod meant to die in December. Besides the fact I didn’t want grass, was the mere fact the man had the nerve to usurp our authority as landowners because he’d decided his cockamamie idea was sound. Moreover, he never followed through with anything having to do with money, upkeep of the property he rented, etc., etc. The water flow from his home during the summer season rivaled that of release from the Hoover Dam. I could only imagine how much it would take to sustain winter rye, a grass discouraged by our town because of the water issue.

 

 

Christmas was supposed to reflect a wintry feeling unless you lived in a land down under. My thoughts ran to decorating with snow, a scene from Currier and Ives complete with horses and sleighs, or at least layers of polyester batting to simulate a snowy landscape—not the greens of Pebble Beach. A migraine formed somewhere near my left eye socket as he spoke in a voice that sounded slightly mechanical. But wait! He wasn’t through. He hadn’t even looked in my eyes to notice I wasn’t hip to his request.

 

 

A voice spoke from the darkness of my home. Great, the man brought forth someone dwelling within. My attempt at circumventing the situation screeched to a halt.

 

 

“Get off my property, no one here is interested in anything you have to say.”

 

 

Strangely, by this time, I wanted to hear what was truly going on in that drug and alcohol induced sponge he used for brain. He was beginning to give information, as the person inside thwarted my efforts to extract what was really on his feeble, wannabe brain.

 

 

He pointed to the door. “Why do they have to be like that? I just came over to try to be neighborly, they’re a real—”

 

 

A fight ensued between the dark and the yellow troll on my porch. Expletives escaped him at rapid-fire speed as he cocked his oral gun, shooting rounds of verbal ammo straight into my face. Ah yes, now we were back to reality. I thought I might have had to endure more of his traipsing through nicety while I mentally poked a meat fork between my eyes to alleviate the migraine pain. He continued backing me against the security door. I prayed I’d become liquid and ooze through its holes like a sieve in an effort to escape not only his insulting attitude, but his cigarette, coffee-laden stinky breath.

 

 

“You’re on my property, insulting my family; no one’s interested in green grass during winter.” I tried to be nice … honest.

 

 

His demeanor changed faster than a lighting strike. More expletives completed his neighborly visit as he tiny-stepped his way off my porch, signaling his discontent with a finger well placed above my tidy, shorn hedge. The gardener gaped in disbelief, his speed finishing the yard surpassing his ability to do a good job. I just thanked God his weed eater hadn’t cut crop circles in the lawn while speeding toward a hasty finish.

 

 

I approached the gardener with a tentative grin, embarrassed he had heard the ramblings of insanity from the yellow man. “I don’t think we’ll have green grass for Christmas.”

 

 

I watched the wannabe tripping along, his delicate step in direct contrast to his wretchedly, vulgar person, inside and out. His attempt at world dominance once again thwarted his loss of ultimate control over life on my street a hollow victory to me, his neighbor. He’d never understand, and he’d forgotten the most important thing about ZZ Top wannabes. There’s just something about a sharp-dressed man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© E. A. Irwin

 

Madeline

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (12)

 

Today's word is "Finger" and my take on that word.

 

 

Madeline

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

The tic in Madeline’s right eye worsened as she stared across the auditorium. Hundreds of blank faces, she hoped would remain humane, stared back. Sweat poured from every pore as she sat exposed and vulnerable to not only the audience, but to the inner turmoil stifling her mind.

 

Her handkerchief, gripped tightly in twitching, nervous fingers, had lost its soothing ability half an hour ago. Now, it lay twisted and balled in her hands like the emotions raging through her stomach. She had to do this no matter how loud the voices of opposition multiplied every doubt and fear until she felt ready to scream and run from the room. She had to openly come to grips with what her life had become no matter the consequences. She owed it to herself and to the countless people helping her not to let fear rule her life any longer.

 

Madeline surreptitiously glanced down the dais at Susan Rehnquist, the organizer of the forum. Kind brown eyes and a gentle smile were returned with a reassuring nod. Madeline closed her eyes, imagining herself somewhere else—anywhere but here. Was it really that important she take a stand? Here of all places? She could feign illness and leave the room; this audience would understand illness better than others.

 

What was that knocking sound? Madeline grabbed her leg to still the drilling drumbeat of her foot against the wooden floor. The demon was beginning his assault no matter how she tried remaining aloof and detached.

 

A feeling of desperation, bordering on anger, fused with the irrational thoughts in her head. Her planned speech began vanishing as she struggled to remain focused. She stared across the audience; some were lowering their heads, trying to hide their unease. Her new diagnosis had been heartbreaking. Were they passing judgment on her already?

 

The sound of a gavel pounding jolted Madeline back to reality. Susan stood at the podium bringing the meeting to order. “I would like to thank everyone for attending our Fourth Annual Symposium on Mental Health Awareness. Please welcome esteemed speaker and our fellow physician Dr. Madeline Cooper.”

 

Madeline walked slowly to the podium as the room seemed to turn on its axis. The demons in her head screamed with continuous shrill chants. You’re mad Maddie, no one’s going to listen to your insanity. Go home. Give up. They’re going to run you out of the medical field anyway, no one’s going to believe you. Just go home.

 

Madeline grabbed the lectern and breathed deeply. “Thank you for inviting me to share my story, Dr. Rehnquist. Tonight, I would like to speak on the subject of schizophrenia, my recent diagnosis, disease management, and the acceptance of people within this disorder group.” You can do this, Maddie. Remain focused, use all the tools the therapists have given you to help you cope. Help those who don’t understand the problem. You can do this. She gave the audience a bright smile she didn’t quite feel but knew would eventually become real. “With the help of my friends and colleagues, new treatments and medications, my future now looks promising.”

 

 

 

© E. A. Irwin

 

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Blood-colored Slurpee

Posted on April 22, 2012 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (2)

Today's word is "car." Hope you enjoy my take on the prompt. ;)

 

 

 

 

Blood-colored Slurpee

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Sally exited the mini mart sucking a cherry-flavored Slurpee that matched her painted lips, and headed toward the gas pumps to fill her car.

 

 

She grabbed a nozzle, jammed it in the gas tank and began humming aimlessly while she pumped gas. The final click of the nozzle brought Sally out of her daydreams. Anger consumed her as she stared at bright red streaks messily adorning the passenger side door of the vehicle. Great, the last detailing she’d had done on the car had cost her over a hundred bucks and that had only been two days ago. She scanned the parking lot and highway for the culprit. She’d only been in the mart for a few minutes, who could have done this and left unnoticed so quickly?

 

 

She touched the streaks and pulled away sticky and greasy fingertips, then cocked her head to read the scrawled message help me, along with an odd combination of letters and numbers. Before she could consider the cryptic meaning behind the alpha-numeric combo, a highway patrol car, its sirens wailing, swerved in behind her vehicle and screeched to a stop.

 

 

Both officers exited their vehicle with hands on their guns and carefully approached Sally. “Ma’am?”

 

 

Sally turned and faced a tall, lanky officer. “Yes?”

 

 

He nodded his head toward her vehicle. “Is this your car?”

 

 

Sally left her Slurpee on the hood and gestured wildly. “Yes. Boy, am I glad you guys arrived. Someone just graffitied my car while I was in the store. I’m not exactly sure what it means, but perhaps one of you can make it out and catch the person.”

 

 

The smaller officer addressed her. “Someone spotted your vehicle and reported it to the Highway Patrol. Those numbers on the door represent a license plate number. Are you sure you’re all right, ma’am?”

 

 

Confusion etched itself across Sally’s face. “Of course I’m fine. But apparently someone else isn’t. If that’s a license don’t you think you should track that plate number instead of hanging around here? Now that you know I’m fine and I know what the mess is, I think it’s more important you look for the car involved.”

 

 

The officers exchanged uneasy glances. “We’ve run the license plate, ma’am. Are you sure you don’t recognize the number?”

 

 

Sally swallowed hard. She needed the coolness of the Slurpee to calm her irritation with the cops. Slurpee’s always relaxed her anxiety, especially the red ones. “I already said I didn’t even know what it was or what it meant.”

 

 

The taller officer spoke. “Ma’am, the license plate number is to this vehicle. Would you please step to the rear of the car and pop the trunk open?”

 

 

The keys jangled as Sally nervously handed them over. “I don’t understand. But I’m pretty sure you need a warrant or something to search my car.”

 

 

The tall officer opened the trunk to discover Slurpee residue, blood-spatter and lipstick markings covering its interior. The smaller officer wrestled Sally to the ground as she tried to run. Slapping handcuffs on her, he shouted a Miranda warning while she writhed against him on the asphalt.

 

 

He looked up at his partner. “It’s a good thing her latest victim survived and left that message when Sally dumped her on the side of the road thinking she was dead. After five kills it looks like we’ve finally closed the Slurpee Killer case.”

 

 

 

© E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

 

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Helping Hands

Posted on March 5, 2012 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (6)

Helping Hands

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Mary-Louise Pentington walked the perimeter of her living room, stopping occasionally to gaze through the bank of windows facing the back of her vast property.

 

 

Smiling, she watched her small army of gardeners tend the grounds of her estate with meticulous perfection. How she longed to work alongside them and cut the fragrant blooms or deadhead old roses or merely dig in the ground and feel its texture against her skin. Instead, her days were spent as founder and President of Helping Hands – one of the largest international bio-tech industries and inventors of advanced, state of the art prosthetics.

 

  

 

Mary-Louise walked further into the beautiful room and noted its wondrous gleam. How fortunate she was to have the wealth to employ not only maids and cooks, but a personal driver. Every day she thanked God for the help of these wonderful people.

 

 

Life hadn’t always been this luxurious. From her first day on the job she’d studied new technologies to improve people’s circumstances, soon making it her life’s mission to provide aid in any way possible. The profits from the hard work of those in her company had been a great reward, however, the greater reward came with the knowledge those needing new limbs led more fulfilled lives.

 

 

She sat on a couch and pulled one of her grandmother’s needlepoint pillows onto her lap. Inspecting the intricate stitches brought back sweet memories of her grandmother and mother sitting near the fireplace, laughing as they shared gossip, cross stitch patterns and cups of tea, while Mary-Louise watched in wonder at their deft abilities with a needle.

 

 

Returning the pillow to the couch, she sighed, realizing her dream of following in her grandmother and mother’s footsteps doing needlework would never be fulfilled no matter how much she wanted it. She closed her eyes and dreamed of their elaborate work, the desire to create the beauty on those pillows as bittersweet as the desire to grow hands on the ends of her amputated arms.

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

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Heat

Posted on March 4, 2012 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (2)

The following story is for a picture prompt with a maximum of 300 words to tell the tale.

 

 

 

 

Heat

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Heat makes you do strange things. So do dames. Throw in a snub-nose heater and shit happens.

 

 

Veronica flirted with danger like she flirted with men. A skirt with a hip-swayin' walk and cherry-colored pout made Ziggy Ambertone fall hard. Veronica draped his arm like flashy jewelry. Hitch was, Ziggy’s jewelry tarnished quickly and if he couldn’t buy it new, he stole.

 

 

Nobody stole from Fingers Magee, especially the skirt Veronica. He owned her. Had the goods on her once she’d squirted metal into her rival Lana Dewbury at the Tip Top Club. He’d forgive lead chillin' another dame, made sex dangerous, but breezin' off to become Ziggy’s kitten made her dead.

 

 

They made a clean sneak, tradin' Chicago for Havana heat, to avoid wearing wooden kimonos. Word on the street: Ziggy nicked the skirt, but Veronica stole enough ice off Fingers to break his bank. Two chiselers were two too many in Fingers’ world.

 

 

Moonless night. Humidity thick enough to cut in a Cuban lagoon. Ziggy and Veronica slammed back jingle juice in the backwater dive unaware Magee’s button man made them faster than a grifter settin' his mark.

 

 

Magee’s fingers itched on his roscoe. He’d rather watch Ambertone and Veronica do a rope dance but drillin' was faster, this kill personal. From the shadows, he rubbed sweat from his brow and took aim.

 

 

Chicago lightning split the night. When dawn hit, Ziggy and Fingers lay blown down from the rain of lead. I just had to wait for nightfall and row my skiff out to at sea before flies swarmed the blue net coverin' the bodies. Ziggy and Fingers never were good with heat, bein' from Chicago. I lived for it. I had my ice back along with Veronica. No one stole from Raul Hornedo and lived.

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

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Beatrice

Posted on February 26, 2012 at 10:55 PM Comments comments (7)

 

Beatrice

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Beatrice studied herself in the mirror, the revelation as unremarkable as the previous day. Those she lived among mentioned turning eighty was a milestone. Beatrice didn’t want to hurt their feelings; merely eighty years, not quite a milestone by any estimation.

 

 

When she arrived, the buoyant attitudes of neighborhood well-wishers welcomed her openly, despite a world war. From the vantage of her living room window on Sycamore Street in Middle America, she witnessed each passing era complete with its joys and strife of life affect her intimate world. Today would be no different for those residing on the streets where she lived, except for one.

 

 

Beatrice opened her closet and surveyed her wardrobe. What should she wear for a milestone birthday? Nothing suited Beatrice’s idea of how she should look, though through the years she adapted to this lifestyle’s ever-changing fashions. For personal reasons she thought it easier to fit in among those observed.

 

 

A blue silk dress, which highlighted the snowiness of her gleaming white hair, was chosen. While tucking stray curls that managed to escape her tidy chignon, she laughed at the women worried about their gray hairs and monthly visits to Stella’s Style Emporium for upkeep. This color adorned her since birth. She couldn’t understand the waste of time involved changing it to another hue.

 

 

The last of her affairs seen to yesterday, her observations finally ended. Her mission here completed in the same manner in which it began—without notice or interruption.

 

 

Beatrice readied herself for her grand night. One promised when she arrived as an onlooker. A night that would free her from life among her neighbors. As she slipped the dress down her slight frame, Beatrice realized this would be the last time she would feel the smooth sensation of fabric against skin.

 

Opening her window, she glanced at the heaven-filled night, knowing the next time she observed it would be from another realm. Beatrice rested on a chair while the moon set the twinkling prisms in her eyes alive, a reminder she was not of this earth and waiting for transport to her starship and home.

 

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

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Heart Shot

Posted on February 13, 2012 at 5:35 AM Comments comments (16)

 

Heart Shot

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

Bad news never got better. Horrific news ate your core. Walking through my house became surreal—a plod through wet cement while my shoulder bag beat against my side like a metronome measuring each pace.

 

 

Sounds registered despite my brain splintering. Keys clattered when tossed in the copper bowl by the front door, the odd plop of a leather jacket on a chair in the living room, ice clinking in a glass that would soon hold scotch. Sounds of normalcy from my fiancé.

 

 

His voice sliced off the veneer of my thoughts. “Want a drink, Elizabeth?”

 

 

I continued walking through the room. “No thanks. I had a few on the plane.” I would have drunk more but even mainlining alcohol straight into my veins couldn’t deaden the pain.

 

 

The sound of liquid sloshed over ice. “Do you want to go out tonight? You know, you could use cheering. You’ve been in a funk for months.”

 

 

Perhaps the screaming in my head would make me deaf. “Maybe.” I made it inside the bathroom and flipped on the light as I hurriedly locked the door. A stranger stared from the mirror. Hollow-eyed and wasted. Grief etched itself across grayed skin as if it had been sandblasted with concrete.

 

 

I sank to the floor. The tiles were cold but not as chilling as the horror written in letter form lying in my purse. Jerking open the cabinet below the sink, I withdrew my favorite things—a bottle of Royal Crown Black and my Para-Ordinance Warthog Pistol. I removed the ammo clip and settled against the door to reread the unsettling missive and decide what to do. Clicking the trigger, I swilled whiskey and read each word of doom now with complete understanding.

 

 

 

Gerald’s voice startled me as it reached through the wood and registered in my brain. “Elizabeth, are you okay? You’ve been in there forever.”

 

 

“Yeah, I’m going to take a bath and try to relax. I’m really wound up from the flight.” I got up and started the water flowing, and then resumed my previous activities. Despondency flooded my soul as I clicked the trigger faster. How could I continue when I finally knew the truth? I reread the letter once more, honing in on the last paragraph.

 

 

“Gerald Morris is a professional hit man. He was hired to kill your parents, thereby securing the corporate takeover. Enclosed is his photograph. Consider him extremely dangerous.”

 

 

I shoved the clip in my gun with a trembling hand and glimpsed one last time in the mirror for courage. Pounding on the door shoved my brain into hyper-drive as I quickly raised the pistol.

 

 

Gerald’s voice sounded menacing as it hissed against the door. “I’m giving you ten seconds to come out, Elizabeth, or I swear I’ll kick the door in!”

 

 

My screams ricocheted off the tile, reverberating insanity through the small room. “Do it!”

 

 

As the door splintered, I took aim. Pumping the trigger as fast as possible, I emptied the clip of its 12 rounds, dropping Gerald with a heart full of lead that matched my own.

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

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Altered Ego

Posted on February 7, 2012 at 1:35 AM Comments comments (7)

Altered Ego

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Martha fastened the strap around her ankle ensuring the five-inch Lucite stiletto wouldn’t slip off her foot. Slowly dragging her hands along fishnet stockings, she sighed vampishly as she playfully snapped their lacy tops against her firm, tanned thighs.

 

As she stood, Martha inspected her metamorphosis. The flickering light bulbs surrounding her mirror added an odd dimension to her glamour tonight. Rhinestone pasties that matched her G-string adorned full breasts. Shimmering cream applied to her statuesque figure made her look as if moonlight possessed hands and had personally buffed her. Martha pouted lips the color of an enameled cherry, and then grinned wickedly as she donned her costume.

 

A voice echoed eerily through the empty dressing room. “Monique, you’re up.”

 

She burst through the silver lamé curtains as her new theme song blared throughout the club. A trail of wool business suit littered the runway as Monique stripped her way toward the expectant crowd, the cries and wolf whistles a cacophonous melody set against her pulsating music. The mob roared as Monique made her first captivating pass in front of them. Taunting with a brush of hands along her sparkly breasts, both sexes waved twenty-dollar bills for encouragement—no singles for the headliner.

 

Monique strutted erotically toward the pole, her first controlled spin around it loosening her head of untamed, curly red hair to cascade down her body like a bloody waterfall. Her second spin caused a raucous outburst when she hung upside-down by her feet and fireworks exploded from the Lucite heels, making it appear as if thousands of fireflies frolicked around her.

 

As she undulated to the music, Monique moved to the stage edge and stooped to allow the money offered a place in her G-string and stocking tops. With a flick of her strong fingers she removed roaming and unwanted hands before they got too frisky. With one last bend over to reveal her bare bottom, Monique blew a kiss between parted legs, and then pranced offstage to thunderous applause.

 

An hour later, Martha arrived home, a new wool suit clothing her plain, tall form. Pale pink-glossed lips thanked her driver as her makeup-less eyes scanned her upscale home.

 

Her husband’s voice welcomed her as she entered the living room and put down her briefcase. “Martha, you must be exhausted tonight. How was your weekly business meeting?”

 

Martha smiled at his placid face. “Boring, the same old stuff.”

 

He smiled back. “Would you like a drink to unwind?”

 

Martha loosened the bun at the nape of her neck and ran her fingers through her straightened auburn hair. Gosh he was a dreary little man. Had she ever loved him? Thank goodness at least once a week she could dance away the empty hours instead of being home with him. . “No thanks, Stanley. Although, I’ve been on my feet most of the night and would love a foot massage.”

 

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

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Eyes That Truly See

Posted on January 23, 2012 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (8)

 

  Eyes That Truly See

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

 

Gregory walked through life not understanding what it meant to be alive. At one time he’d known, now, he wasn’t sure. His life had turned into a momentum of shifting grays with an occasional sepia tone added if something happened to alter his existence.

 

A recollection flashed through Gregory’s mind. An evanescent moment when color existed and sound meant something other than cacophony beating against his eardrum. Visions filtered through his brain when he closed his eyes, allowing her beauty to fill the recesses of his emptiness.

 

Wisps of memory spun their magic, weaving before him a tapestry of their shared life. Strands of ebony claimed her head in silken tresses, while brushes dipped in the ocean’s hues painted her eyes with color. Gregory sighed, remembering how they laughed while eating a peach; often telling her that her cheeks were abloom with the same shade as that luscious fruit. Kissing the nectar from her lips was his greatest joy on those days.

 

The remembrance faded to a bleached watercolor, and then turned gray as Gregory released the vision. Biting back tears, he made his way through the room cognizant life for him had almost stopped. Even the ticking from a nearby clock reminded him of the passing of time, setting Gregory’s teeth on edge. He watched the advancing minute hand as one would watch a slow waltz. The pulsing movement a hypnotizing effect, steadily luring him to the place he constantly avoided.

  

Sound infused his mind—a trickle of conversation, her full-bodied laughter, and the gentle whispers in the night as she laid her head against his chest and sighed. Oh, how he genuinely missed the sounds of her cries in the night when they were finally able to truly become one by the worship of each others’ bodies.

  

Those sounds soon faded along with the color of his previous life, leaving vacant the part of his soul which could never be refilled. Gregory sat at his desk, aimlessly swiping a layer of dust away as he stared at the calendar. He checked his movement as his eyes honed in on the date.

  

Another memory reeled his mind. Pushed the agony through his gut as the vision plummeted him backward. She lay in his arms. Blood gushed from her as he tried to gather the remaining bits of her flesh and reform them into the woman he loved. Her black hair matted and full of glass. Her eyes fixed, no longer holding the beauty of the ocean’s depths. Her cheeks lacked color, and the lips he so loved to kiss were blanched and slack. Gregory lost her that day when a hit and run driver mowed her down in a crosswalk outside their home. Lost the ability to save the most important thing in his life. More than that, Gregory had lost himself to the eternal miasma in his head as he relived the moment of impact; no longer able to identify with the living, only waiting for the moment when God would claim his life for eternity.

 

“Gregory?”

 

Gregory jumped as a man entered his cubicle and began speaking. “Yes?”

  

“I know it hasn’t been very long since your wife died, and you have only been back to work a few months. But we would like to tell you how proud we are that you continued living through what must have been a horrendous time in your life.”

 

“I haven’t done anything to make you proud of me. I spend my time walking through my days remembering how much I’m alone.”

 

The man pointed to the crowd around Gregory’s desk. “You aren’t alone, Gregory. We all care, just look around. Who are you going to believe, me, or your own eyes?”

 

  

 

©E. A. Irwin

   

 

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Hmm

Posted on January 20, 2012 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (7)

Hmm…

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Mary swiped an anti-bacterial wipe over the desk lest her new cubical mate think her messy. The woman was due shortly and it was Mary’s responsibility, one she didn’t relish, to welcome new employees into the Lusterworld family.

 

 

She looked into the mirror, straightening her glasses to perfection, then ran her hand aimlessly through her mousy-colored hair, imagining it blonde and in a sexy style. She sighed. Even if she had blonde hair or a sexy style no one would notice her. She peeked from behind the gray flannel walls of her cubicle to inspect the ongoing office melee, gasping as the elevator’s chrome doors slid open announcing the woman’s arrival.

 

 

Out she walked—six-feet, six inches of gliding sex. Men and women stared as she sauntered. Blonde hair worshipped her face in waves, enhancing blue-gray eyes set in an intriguing angle atop cherub-like cheeks. Mary gawked at the voluptuous creation floating her way, instinctively gazing to her own small breasts as her arms wrapped around her in a protective cocoon.

 

 

The woman claimed the floor like a red carpet, her hips swaying to her own internal rhythm and didn’t care if anyone knew the tune. Her dress caressed legs that rose beyond half her height and then some with the addition of four-inch stilettos.

 

 

Mary stepped from the cubical, cleared her throat and extended her hand. “Hello, I’m Mary. Welcome to our family. It’s good to meet you—.”

 

 

The woman dwarfed Mary’s hand as she shook it. A throaty voice replied, “I’m Charlene, good to meet you, Mary. Looks like Lusterworld put me here in time. You do need a makeover.”

 

 

Mary’s mouth dropped open. “What?”

 

 

“Makeover. Just wait, in a few weeks you’re going to look hotter than me.”

 

 

Disbelief painted Mary’s face. “Why would I need a makeover?” She surreptitiously looked around. “Am I being punked? Who put you up to this?”

 

 

 

Charlene chuckled. “No, hon, you aren’t being punked. Consider me a gift from Lusterworld with a chance to advance. You have enough brains to run this place but all people see, if they manage to hone in on your invisibility, is a frump, not the charismatic woman I know is hidin’ inside.”

 

 

“I’m sure I’ve been insulted, by you and Lusterworld, since I was supposed to ensure you got settled properly. So, I’m not pretty like you,” Mary stared at Charlene’s breasts, “or have the necessary attributes some women possess. I do my job as well as any man and that should be enough.”

 

 

“That’s the point, you’re sprintin’ rings around the guys but they know what to wear to stand out and bullshit their way up Lusterworld’s ladder. I’m just gonna help you skip a few rungs so you end up on top.”

 

 

Mary sank into her chair in defeat. “I give up. I’m not a man and I obviously am not up to female standards. This is a losing battle. If, that’s a huge if, I let you help me we have to face the facts I don’t have what you have in the um, boob or anything else department. Plus, all the men would ridicule me for making myself into something I’m not and the women would be worse. Forget this. Sorry you had to come here under false pretenses.”

 

 

“Men are stupid. Besides, Lusterworld is creatin’ a new job overseas for you so no one will know what was happenin’ inside your caterpillar cocoon until you’re set free. Don’t worry darlin’ what you don’t already own we’ll buy.” 

 

  

“Buy?”

 

 

Charlene ran her hand over her body. “No one has to know they aren’t real.”

 

 

Mary nervously giggled. “Yours look very real. Could I really be as beautiful a woman as you are without anyone knowing I’d changed my appearance? I think I might like that.”

 

 

Charlene laughter deepened as she leaned into Mary’s ear. “I like it all darlin’, including being a woman. Now, don’t tell anyone my secret. I used to be a man.”

 

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Money

Posted on January 9, 2012 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (8)

 

Blood Money

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Blood flew from my mouth as a fist connected with my jaw for the thousandth time. Hands grabbed my hair, wrenching my head backward as another set of fists pummeled the slab of meat previously known as my battered face.

 

 

“Where did you hide the money, Larry? Tell us now and save yourself the inevitable.”

 

 

The many possibilities regarding the unspoken inevitable made my head swim when I shook it. I wasn’t going to pony up information. A foot assaulted my gut. I cringed and sank lower in the chair to avoid having my lungs explode from their perforation by broken ribs. The hands entwined in my hair jerked me upright, assuring I’d experience the full pounding to my body.

 

 

Shrill screaming met my ears. “Leave him alone. He doesn’t know anything!”

 

 

Through swollen eye slits, I stared at my wife twisting in a chair across from me, her efforts futile as she attempted to free herself from her bonds. The man behind me walked to her, grabbed her hair and jerked her face to within inches of his. “If he doesn’t know anything then I suggest you start talking, Mrs. Moneybags. I’ll give you one second to tell me where he’s hidden the money he stole from us.”

 

 

Sheila’s attempt at bravery by spitting in his face ended with him backhanding her across the jaw, causing her head to ricochet against the wall. “That will be the last time you do that, bitch. I’m through playing nice, either tell me where old Larry stashed the cash or you watch him die piece by piece.” His eyes flashed with malice. “Or perhaps you hid the money without Larry knowing.” The flick of a switchblade against her neck produced another scream. “Is that what you did, Mrs. Moneybags? Did you find out Larry’s been a naughty boy and wanted to get back at him for not sharing his misdeeds and the loot? You two in this together? That why you’re holding out on me? Not a good idea, sweet thing, my blade doesn’t like liars.”

 

 

Blood trickled from a fresh wound on Sheila neck, her voice strangled as she spoke. “I don’t know anything about any money Larry allegedly stole. Give me a figure. I have the money, all you have to do is give me an amount and I’ll make good on whatever you want. We won’t go to the police. They can’t trace cash. Just don’t hurt us anymore. Please.”

 

 

“That so?” His beady black eyes bored into mine. “Is this how it works in your marriage, Larry? You let the little woman pay for your mistakes? Figured you for a loser.” He rubbed the front of his pants with the switchblade while vulgarly laughing. “Maybe we can up the ante here, hey Sheila baby? Looks like you need a real man in your life to show you how it is, not some puny-assed thief making you pay for his crime. Want to bargain by spreading your legs and doing me in front of that piece of crap you call a husband?”

 

 

“Stop it! Get away from her!” My words grew incoherent as my tongue swelled.

 

 

He bent and whispered seductively in her ear, the calmness of his voice chilled my spine. “I’ll get off more if you scream when I’m riding you. Could be worth a discount on the debt if you go the extra mile with my friend over there and me, kind of a two-fer one thing, you know?”

 

 

Hyenas sounded saner than his friend when he laughed. Sheila’s eyes reflected the terror shifting through her brain as she weighed the idea of being raped simultaneously by two savages. Her sudden outburst shattered my reserve. “He’s lying, Larry. Tell them where the money is! They’re going to kill us if you don’t no matter what I do!”

 

 

A rivulet of red seeped down Sheila’s arm, her shrieks matching the depth of the cut her assaulter delivered.

 

 

Another slam rocked my head. “She dies now if you don’t start talking.”

 

 

“Larry!”

 

 

Breathing deeply, I watched blood spatter spurt from Sheila’s mouth and hit the wall as her anguished cries filled the room. “I told you, I didn’t steal your money. I don’t know anything.”

 

 

“Have it your way, Larry. She gets cut until she dies while you watch. I warned you. You’re next.”

 

 

They sliced my wife into bloody strips of flesh barely attached to bone while her insane screeching ran along my ear canal in a frenzied death song. I watched with gory fascination until the last swipe of the knife stilled. “Is she dead, Stan?”

 

 

He kicked the chair containing my wife’s remains to the floor. “Yeah, she’s dead.”

 

 

I motioned with my head to Stan’s buddy in crime. “Untie me, Tony. Why the hell did you beat me so badly? This could have been accomplished without practically killing me.”

 

 

Stan ripped off the latex gloves he’d worn while murdering my wife. “You wanted her dead. Had to make it look real for the cops. Same reason we can’t untie you. You need an alibi.”

 

 

I spit broken enamel and blood clots from my mouth. “You broke my teeth.”

 

 

Derisive laughter filled dead air. “Buy new teeth with your inheritance. We’ll call the police after we leave and inform them we heard screaming. Should give you enough time to work up a few tears for your dearly departed.”

 

 

I smiled despite the pain and Sheila’s growing stench. Yeah, the inheritance would buy everything I wanted … including a new wife. Who said liars never prospered?

 

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

 

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Moonlight Becomes You

Posted on January 2, 2012 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (15)

 

Moonlight Becomes You

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

“I can’t believe you did this to me!”

 

 

David ran strong hands along my spine, his fingertips leaving a trail of excited gooseflesh behind. Warm breathy breezes eased around my ear as he spoke. “Sweetheart, I couldn’t help myself.”

 

 

Facing my husband, I focused on his face, noting his eyes gleamed more mischievously than normal. If I could put both hands on my hips to accentuate my disbelief in his actions I would, but from this position it was awkward, plus, those damned fingers kept wearing down my reserve. I grabbed the digits of pleasure to stop their advance to other areas I couldn’t control. “Stop. This is important, David. I mean far past the top of the list of imperative items you assured me would never happen. Seriously, what were you thinking?”

 

 

David stroked my face, sending the tingle to another location as my mind struggled to remain focused. “Come on, Leah, I didn’t do it on purpose. Believe me I’m as surprised as you are.”

 

 

“Likely story. You promised!” Watching David’s eyes melt into smoldering liquid emeralds didn’t foster confidence in his proclaimed innocence. I sighed, touching his ruggedly handsome face, knowing he’d never intentionally harm me even if we took turns toward the bizarre. I squinted at him. Maybe this latest action wasn’t an accident as he claimed. Perhaps he’d planned it and was lying to protect himself. “Did you do this on purpose? David, I need to know. We’ve been married a long time, why did this happen now? Are you losing control?”

 

 

“Leah, I’m always uncontrolled with you, that’s the way it’s been for me. I love you more than life. But I’d never put you in danger, I simply needed to kiss you.”

 

 

“That was not an ordinary kiss and you know it.”

 

 

His facial expression fell further than my desperation. “Okay, I admit the kiss wasn’t ordinary. Nothing we do is ordinary and we both love the outcome. Yet now, an unusual moment of passion and you’re subjected to a foreign lifestyle.”

 

 

“I’ve known about the problem since before we married. I don’t want to blame you; we’ve just been able to manage the situation for years.” A heavy sigh escaped me. “Tell me, what’s different tonight? What made you do this?”

 

 

“An unbelievable frenzy I couldn’t quell stopped reason. The moonlight bathed you and you became ethereal. The beast rose too quickly to stop.”

 

 

I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t see his anguish, and then pulled myself into his embrace, wincing as he touched the bloody bite on my shoulder representing David’s true form of a kiss. “What now? When will I know if what occurred will make me like you?”

 

 

Hot tears fell from him as he whispered into the moonlit room. “Leah, I’m so sorry, please try to forgive me. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait until the next full moon to see if you become a werewolf.”

 

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

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The Green Grass of Christmas

Posted on December 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (6)

 

Truth, most times, is stranger than fiction. I present to you today something which could never be made up. A strange little tale from the annals of my personal life ... shocking, though true. Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

 

The Green Grass of Christmas

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

“You want what?”

 

 

I stared into the small, bloodshot, piggy eyes of my next-door neighbor. His appearance resembled one of the members of ZZ Top—an out of shape, bare-footed, frighteningly tattooed, cigarette-sucking, beer-swilling member none of the group wanted. I didn’t even mind tattoos. Some ink is quite beautiful; however, his were just plain ol’ ugly. Did I mention his fingernails resembled yellowed eagle talons?

 

 

He’d been rejected by ZZ Top and me. Sans guitar, sans anything that would make his standing on my front porch on a Sunday morning more intriguing, or more attractive, although, he did wear a baseball hat covering his out of control frizzy yellow head of hair which blessedly cast a shadow on his less than appealing features. Unfortunately, the shadow cast wasn’t dark or deep enough to prevent me from gawking at the teeth that matched the level of hair color, rushing quickly toward brown barn boards.

 

 

The urgent desire to vote him invisible accelerated through me faster than if I’d sucked on an extra strong tea bag while eating Sugar Pops. The level of his performance attempted to be somewhat original though; just couldn’t wait to hear the profanity sure to come as he honed his watery, blue pig eyes on mine.

 

 

 

Insanity began with this back story: I informed the gardener he didn’t need to trim the hedges, since the last time he’d cut them back I waited almost an entire day to look at them, knowing his expertise with a hedge-trimmer was similar to doing chemistry in an Easy Bake kitchen. Let me just say when I did look expletives exploded in my head, raining like the last bright white, phosphorescent bursting Fourth of July firework—causing a really saucy curse word to exit my mouth. But the man really was one of the nicest gardeners we’ve ever had, even if he was shorter than me by several inches, and I’m not tall, thus making it decisively difficult for him to get the correct stance on the stool I’d provided for his gardening feats.

 

 

I have five large hedges. Personally, I like their fluffy outgrowth and usually cut the hedges until I’m no longer able to reach the height differential with the electric hedge-trimmer known by me as the vibrating dead severed leg. I loosed the gardener with his trimmer. Shame on me. Now that I’m positive that his expertise isn’t bushes, we’re fine, just too much angst on my part due to his getting paid for making them ugly.

 

 

Had I tried for geometric puzzle shapes to compete in upcoming gardening magazine design layouts, I was on my way. I now possessed two parallelograms, a trapezoid, and one suspiciously resembling a rhombus. The remaining bush he hadn’t touched (apparently his search for three-hundred and sixty degrees on each bush had boggled his mind to the point of anarchy) so luckily it still remained in a gentle round blob. Geometry gone wild, and he hadn’t even tried. In fact, he’d been quite proud he’d accomplished so much with his hedge-trimmer, and what he’d used to get those really fine cuts down the sides—his weed eater. Truly a man of many talents and wonders, so I’m back to doing them, dragging out my trimmer, holding the vibrating severed leg over my head until I’m finished.

 

 

But I digressed. As I mentioned, I’d interrupted the gardener’s conversation with my neighbor, a dual purpose since the ZZ Top wannabe was preventing him from doing his job. Not that I don’t want the gardener to obtain further employment or mind him having unusual friends, I just don’t want him getting in the middle of what I sense coming; Ol’ Long Beard making some demand of the gardener, me, or the people that live in my house. Basically, I don’t want ZZ around. Period.

 

 

Apparently, the lilting sound of my voice reached the gardener’s ears. He turned, acknowledging my presence with a seemingly desperate and heightened expression. Like, could I come out and get between him and yellow teeth so he could get back to work?

 

 

No. He’s an adult. He’s a man. I’m a short non-confrontational woman who just wants the lawn mown and edged. Besides, my voting ZZ invisible hadn’t worked, and the bag of incantations for insipid bothersome neighbors was truly empty, its last power depleted on my previous attempt at community peace with him. Suffice it to say, ZZ’s last foray into his realm of persecution, while screaming dim-witted and disgusting insults, resulted in me staring into those creepy eyes and demanding he bite me. Simple. Au contraire, nothing is ever simple as we march toward world peace and ZZ’s version of world dominance.

 

 

As the gardener acknowledged me, I quickly turned to retreat into the inner sanctum of my home, my wishes known, and my job completed until he is handed a check for his work. Unfortunately, the neighbor also witnessed me, heard my voice as it spoke words intended for instruction, ignoring the fact it was definitely not an invitation for interaction between us. Hiding on my porch as the bush spoke to the gardener reached fail safe. I heard those words. Words I’d rather not hear. “I want to speak to you.”

 

 

I ignored him. Not nice, don’t care. He raised his coffee cup, as if noticing the odd-shaped pottery thrown on some off-kilter potter’s wheel would grab my attention and hypnotize me into conversation. The cup? One of those clay things in the shape of a triangle with a flat bottom and a small hole in the top so liquid doesn’t slosh unknowingly onto your car’s interior—some weird tri-color combination which clashed with his otherworldly appearance, the only color in harmony that of muddy brown resembling his teeth. Another influx of geometry to make my brain hurt.

 

 

The plea of his triangle cup fell on deaf ears. I stepped inside, watching through the security door to see if he was going to cross the border like a welcomed guest. Yep, the yellow man cometh—straight to my door, his sense of boundaries unknown to him and his kith and kin. Another thing which bothered me far more than any tragically cut hedge could ever accomplish. An infiltrator he was. Come to lay his form of crap on my porch like a member of the Hell’s Angels Taliban. Life was always his way, none other existed.

 

 

Side note: The man has the smallest stride I’ve ever seen in a man. What was with the teeny, tiny steps the likes of which I haven’t witnessed since Fred Flintstone approached the bowling lane to throw a strike? As he pitter-pattered his way toward my door, I couldn’t even think about what to say, too mesmerized by those baby steps, as I imagined him toppling off bright red stilettos onto the sidewalk. Perhaps he wasn’t aware the coffee couldn’t escape the triangle cup no matter how big of steps he took. The sight of him became intriguing in the worst possible way, as I struggled with the urge to laugh hysterically, while yelling something inappropriate. I bit my lip and remained mute not wanting to stoke the fire building in his belly.

 

 

One step, two, up on the porch, I see you. He bore an expression only his odd features could capture. Something was on his mind, and he was going to be a neighbor in the most ingratiating form. Falsely pleasant, with a giant plop of humility on the side.

 

 

I stepped from my living room in an attempt to stop the pollution of his person from entering my sanctuary, while sparing those inside the travesty of his words as he worked up some sort of outlaw conversation. He spoke. The wannabe possessed one of the most unusual voices, muffled, yet strangely piercing as it reached your ears doing a dance of insanity while it pushed along the auditory canal. The man was slightly deaf; most assuredly from listening to head-banger metal most of his life. I listened to the oddity of his speech, suddenly transfixed on his piggy eyes, yellow beard and ochre teeth, the bare feet and vastly protruding beer gut, and longed to pull the baseball cap lower so I no longer had to stare at the freak. The tenor of his voice soon became background noise while my eyes took in the troll before me.

 

 

I stood on the porch, my Tara, waiting for his words to ignite the fires that would inevitably burn. My best conversation was going to be short, an economy of words just to get him gone. “What.”

 

 

“I like Christmas. I really like to decorate for the season.”

 

 

This was September. We’d just had Labor Day, and were nowhere near celebrating scaring each other on Halloween, hadn’t had a chance to honor the veterans, for pity’s sake we hadn’t gotten to eat turkey or be thankful at Thanksgiving. Besides, I’d seen his decorating; the opportunity of not witnessing it again waged uppermost in my mind.

 

 

I’d been known to decorate at Christmas. Sometimes the hedges become giant packages tied up in red ribbons leading the way to my home, though I’ll admit one year wasn’t my finest. I’d purchased sets of lights all strung on a grid, placing them strategically over my hedges, hoping a soft glow of illumination would enhance the winter’s night. I was wrong. I know I was wrong, because all I saw in the winter’s night was a grid for algebraic equations. I couldn’t find X or Y, and am still unsure if I had traversed into negative numbers, and couldn’t remove the suckers since everything got tied up nice and pretty in those red bows. I understood the mistake and those lights never went up again.

 

 

His decorations? Well, some strands of mismatched lights still hung in their catawampus positions from last year, his form of decorating similar to his disarranged mind. Last year a scarecrow sat in its prominent position on the bale of hay along with a reindeer and various other tributes to the holidays. Frightening in the worst possible way, as if someone decorated while on LSD. I take that back. That comment was unfair to those losing their minds on hallucinogens—he’s just tacky.

 

 

I contemplated what to say, his statement expected some sort of response. “And?”

 

 

“I really like to do it up, like things really nice and I want to see a sea of green lawn for Christmas. I spoke with the gardener to have him seed our lawns and put something special on it so it will remain green across both properties.”

 

 

Something special? Wasn’t part of the promise of winter and cold weather simply that the grass stopped growing and you didn’t have to tend to it? Wasn’t this the circle of life for grass, undisturbed by my interfering with water and seed? Wasn’t this Bermuda grass at its finest?

 

“You want what?”

 

 

“Don’t worry about the expense; I’ll pay for everything to get us going.”

 

 

The visions dancing in my head weren’t sugarplums, but invoices for winter rye, fertilizer and all the water wasted on sod meant to die in December. Besides the fact I didn’t want grass, was the mere fact the man had the nerve to usurp our authority as landowners because he’d decided his cockamamie idea was sound. Moreover, he never followed through with anything having to do with money, upkeep of the property he rented, etc., etc. The water flow from his home during the summer season rivaled that of release from the Hoover Dam. I could only imagine how much it would take to sustain winter rye, a grass discouraged by our town because of the water issue.

 

 

Christmas was supposed to reflect a wintry feeling unless you lived in a land down under. My thoughts ran to decorating with snow, a scene from Currier and Ives complete with horses and sleighs, or at least layers of polyester batting to simulate a snowy landscape—not the greens of Pebble Beach. A migraine formed somewhere near my left eye socket as he spoke in a voice that sounded slightly mechanical. But wait! He wasn’t through. He hadn’t even looked in my eyes to notice I wasn’t hip to his request.

 

 

A voice spoke from the darkness of my home. Great, the man brought forth someone dwelling within. My attempt at circumventing the situation screeched to a halt.

 

 

“Get off my property, no one here is interested in anything you have to say.”

 

 

Strangely, by this time, I wanted to hear what was truly going on in that drug and alcohol induced sponge he used for brain. He was beginning to give information, as the person inside thwarted my efforts to extract what was really on his feeble, wannabe brain.

 

 

He pointed to the door. “Why do they have to be like that? I just came over to try to be neighborly, they’re a real—”

 

 

A fight ensued between the dark and the yellow troll on my porch. Expletives escaped him at rapid-fire speed as he cocked his oral gun, shooting rounds of verbal ammo straight into my face. Ah yes, now we were back to reality. I thought I might have had to endure more of his traipsing through nicety while I mentally poked a meat fork between my eyes to alleviate the migraine pain. He continued backing me against the security door. I prayed I’d become liquid and ooze through its holes like a sieve in an effort to escape not only his insulting attitude, but his cigarette, coffee-laden stinky breath.

 

 

“You’re on my property, insulting my family; no one’s interested in green grass during winter.” I tried to be nice … honest.

 

 

His demeanor changed faster than a lighting strike. More expletives completed his neighborly visit as he tiny-stepped his way off my porch, signaling his discontent with a finger well placed above my tidy, shorn hedge. The gardener gaped in disbelief, his speed finishing the yard surpassing his ability to do a good job. I just thanked God his weed eater hadn’t cut crop circles in the lawn while speeding toward a hasty finish.

 

 

I approached the gardener with a tentative grin, embarrassed he had heard the ramblings of insanity from the yellow man. “I don’t think we’ll have green grass for Christmas.”

 

 

I watched the wannabe tripping along, his delicate step in direct contrast to his wretchedly, vulgar person, inside and out. His attempt at world dominance once again thwarted his loss of ultimate control over life on my street a hollow victory to me, his neighbor. He’d never understand, and he’d forgotten the most important thing about ZZ Top wannabes. There’s just something about a sharp-dressed man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

Enjoy other authors' Tuesday's Tales here.

 

 

Bon Appetit

Posted on December 9, 2011 at 3:20 AM Comments comments (4)

Today, I thought I'd send a little bit of comedy your way. Hope you enjoy this Friday Flash!

 

 

 

 

 

Bon Appétit

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

Plates whizzed by my ear, punctuating the wall with a panoramic display of fine cuisine.

 

 

“Your throwing distance is getting better, André. Perhaps we can get you a gig as a pitcher after you retire. You’ll have to work on your aim though, that flying saucer missed my head. You do realize I have to actually be injured to collect Workers’ Compensation, don’t you?”

 

 

André picked up a cup, judging its weight, and then threw it, hitting the wall alongside me as I bobbed and weaved toward him.

 

 

“Stop that!”

 

 

I stopped mid-step. “Stop what?”

 

 

“The idiotic dance you are doing. I cannot hit you while you continue moving.”

 

 

I eyed him, gauging how far he was from his next piece of crockery arsenal. “Good to know. Apparently you never played dodge ball when you were a kid.” I sidled up to André as he relinquished the bowl he’d retrieved and returned to stirring his pot of soup with the velocity of a stage four tornado. “André, what’s wrong? You seem even more excited than usual.”

 

 

“It is nothing, and I do not get excited.” He sniffed with disdain while adding cream to the soup. “Retire, indeed.”

 

 

“Uh . . . want to try again? You’re not only excited and throwing things, but your accent’s gotten as thick as yesterday’s béchamel sauce.” I swiped the chef’s knife lying next to the stove as André lunged for it. “No you don’t. Stick people on your own time. Now, what’s up? Even you aren’t always this continually agitated.”

 

 

“I do not understand Americans.”

 

 

I rolled my eyes, waiting for André’s next entrée into his own form of détente. “The entire population, or was there someone in particular disturbing you?”

 

 

“That musician in there!”

 

 

Listening to the rehearsal assaulting the dining room, I grimaced at the notes from an acoustic guitar that sounded as if it hadn’t been tuned since Woody Guthrie died. “You mean Randy?”

 

 

André’s snarled lip rose level with his nose. “Randy. Mon Dieu! The French would never play in such an atrocious manner.”

 

 

I thought of the wheezing accordion accompaniment in the songs André listened to, reluctantly admitting their disconcerting sounds far outshone Randy’s attempts at music. Frankly, I wasn’t hip with Randy being an American either, his illusion of art insulting not only me, but my fellow countrymen who were forced to listen to him.

Fingering the knife, I studied André developing his tornado. “I know, André, and that shrieking voice he calls his gift makes me want to take drugs. I’m always afraid to open the alley door lest the cats join him onstage thinking he’s their leader.” André’s drooping moustache lifted fractionally, revealing a slight smirk. “I don’t know what the owner of The Broken Locket was thinking when she hired him, but I’d like to find the lost chain and twist it around Randy’s neck and stop his ramblings.”

 

 

André’s eyes turned mischievous. “Ah, but of course, why did I not think of this before? You are the answer. Ma petite, tonight you become clumsy and fall, breaking the offending instrument before he touches it.”

 

 

“Me?” The thought of turning Randy’s guitar into kindling made me giddy. “Am I the only one going to have fun?”

 

 

André grinned as he retrieved a bottle of Ipecac from the pantry and poured a healthy portion into the tureen containing Randy’s soup. “No, we both shall have fun while we enjoy the glorious sounds of silence, ma petite. I am afraid Monsieur Randy will have to be content giving tonight’s performance in a small porcelain venue.”

 

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

Caramel

Posted on December 5, 2011 at 2:35 AM Comments comments (4)

 

Welcome to another Tuesday Tale. This week's prompt word is "fire" so I thought I'd treat all of you to a tidbit from the new Riley McCabe novel still in the Work in Progress stage. Hope you enjoy. To read other authors and their stories in the Tuesday Tales Blog Hop, be sure to return here.

 

 

 

 

 

Caramel

 

 

 

by E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

The aroma of caramel bloomed in my head. Creamy. Sweet. The rich flavor flowed across my tongue, waves of decadence filled my mouth with distinctive pleasure as I savored the thrill-induced taste.

 

 

The caramel warmed, releasing ribbons of tantalizing temptation to begin their slide down my throat each time I swallowed. I craved more. Sucked harder. Needed the decadence to move faster than the stingy trickles coating my throat with sporadic stickiness. The caramel grew hot, burning the delicate lining of my esophagus as it seared toward my stomach with liquid fire. The sounds of screaming replaced the fragrant scent of silken seduction in my head. I grabbed my throat as the molten ribbons turned cold, forcing them to coagulate into hardened bands building a dam in my throat instead of the delicate streamers of satisfaction whetting my appetite.

 

 

The dam became more. Solid. Unmoving. Impenetrable. My hands clawed my neck unable to dislodge the confectionary lump. Gasping for non-existent air, I clawed my flesh, trying to puncture a hole through which I could breathe. My eyelids flew open, a wall of fathomless black pressed tightly against my sight. Blind and suffocating, my hands searched the solidity of space surrounding me, my ears registering the onslaught of squishing in accelerating fluid decibels as the noise rushed through them like a locomotive careening toward the cliff’s edge as its brakes refused stopping.

 

 

Heat engulfed my body as if a blanket of live coals wrapped me in a fiery embrace. Sweat exploded from my core, lying atop the smoldering flesh, adding to the unrelenting heat of an oil-spill fire spreading through a tropical swamp. The screaming continued in my mind as the inability to breathe through the caramel wall increased. Frantically, I fought the air as if I could rend the universe with my fingernails.

 

 

“Madeline …”

 

 

A sliver of a whisper glanced off my brain.

 

 

“Madeline …”

 

 

An arctic-blown shiver ran down the length of my spine, chilling me to the bone despite the feeling of flames licking along my skin in relentless pursuit of the unknown dwelling within me. A guttural groan escape between clenched teeth as the black, the caramel, and the scorching fire coalesced into a horror-filled moment I was doomed to never escape.

 

 

 

 

©E. A. Irwin

 

 

 

 

 

 

http/tuesdaytales1.blogspot.com/

 


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