YOUR TWO WORD SUGGESTIONS
posted @ 8:00 pm in [ SPASMS -two word ]

 Wow! You guys sure are creative. And insane. Your suggestions are all so good, it’s hard to pick.

Then again, I feel badly if anybody gets left out (Hi, Mishey! You’re not too late!), so I’m extending this two-word thing until I get up tomorrow morning. I’ll pick the title and write the SPASM then.

Until tomorrow.

xo, Amy





CHAPTER 8: Take Only As Directed.
posted @ 7:16 pm in [ Snake & Freaky John Novel ]

Haven’t figured out a title yet. The plot thickens as Mr. Hersch invites Freak in for a chat and Peter Arsenal performs some alchemy. Margaret, meanwhile, has her own plans…

Chapter 8:

Take Only as Directed.

“Fuck.” Snake nodded grimly toward the apartment door. “You go over there. I’ll go get Freak.”

Margaret preceded him out into the hall and watched as Snake let himself into his friend’s apartment. Tentatively, she knocked on the door. “Mr. Hersch? It’s me, Margaret.”

Shuffling from within. After a moment, footsteps creaked to the door. “This isn’t a good time,” he answered without opening the door. “Please come back tomorrow.”

“Mr. Hersch, are you all right?”

“I’ll be fine. Please, let me be.”

The door across the hall slammed open. Freak leaped over and pounded on the wall. He had a key in his hand. “Mr. Hersch! You okay?”

Snake didn’t bother closing Freak’s apartment behind him. “Mr. Hersch, we’re gonna come in if you don’t open up.”

In the silence that ensued, they could hear Margaret’s cell phone ringing in her apartment. She blushed at the sound.

The lock snicked back, and their elderly neighbor peered out. His eyes were red. “Would you gentlemen—and lady,” he added, “mind if I spoke to Jonathan alone?”

“They don’t mind.” Without a glance at his friends, Freak gently pushed Mr. Hersch out of the way and stepped into the apartment, closing the door behind him.

Margaret’s cell phone was still ringing. “I better get that. Let me know what happens, okay?”

“Okay.” Snake stood there in the hallway by himself for a minute. When no sound came from Mr. Hersch’s apartment, he turned and went back to Freak’s couch, leaving the door open.

In her own living room, Margaret recognized the number on her cell and smiled. She hadn’t expected a call so soon. “Hello? No, I’m not really doing anything. Sure, sounds fun. What time? Great, I’ll meet you then. Bye.” She closed the phone and held a hand to her chest. Her heart was beating a mile a minute.

In his top-floor apartment in a chic Riverside Drive co-op overlooking the Hudson, Peter Arsenal’s heart was beating just as fast. He was thinking about Margaret while he sat at his laptop, scrolling through online search engines for the information he needed. The bottles of Shiraz he’d purchased earlier had been removed from the winery bag and placed on his desk, right where he could see them. The whole process was very exciting. Frankly, he was surprised he didn’t have an erection.

Peter didn’t know Margaret very well, but he remembered a few key things, which were what gave birth to his idea in the first place. She sometimes took Ambien, a popular prescription sleep aid. He knew this because she’d mentioned it one morning when he thought she looked groggy.

He was also aware that Margaret enjoyed red wines with a strong taste, and she had a pretty good knowledge of wine. She preferred quality over price, understanding that an eleven dollar bottle can be just as good or better than a similar wine that cost thirty. Peter had tested her on this once, suspecting that she had perhaps overstated her expertise. He had invited her along to a tasting after work one evening, and been pleasantly surprised by her choices. Margaret explained that she had been married to a sommelier. How very impressive.

And then there was the day, very soon after she began working at Arsenal, that she went to a nearby pharmacy to pick up a few things. While she was out to lunch, Peter took the opportunity to look in the shopping bag and see what she’d purchased. Tampons, shampoo, and a prescription for Zoloft, an anti-depressant. Another interesting fact to file away for what he was planning, and now it fell into place. Peter Arsenal clicked on a new screen and smiled. Apparently, Ambien shouldn’t be prescribed for patients suffering from depression. Or who were drunk.

He reached for the phone, punched in a number. The voice at the other end of the line sounded distracted. “Yes?”

“Les? Peter. Listen, I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately.”

“Really? I can’t imagine why.” Les Rakolta was an old friend, and more importantly, a doctor.

“Les, I’m serious.”

“Oh. Sorry. You talked to your G.P. about this?”

“What with the theft and getting ready for the next show, I haven’t had time. I thought I’d get your opinion first.”

Les mulled this over. “You could try Ambien. I’d write you a scrip, but you’re better off going through your G.P.”

Peter frowned. “I don’t know, I’ve heard it’s easy to overdose on that stuff. You’d really recommend it?”

“Well, as long as you stick to the prescribed dosage, you’re fine. Don’t take one, and then five minutes later decide it’s not working fast enough and take another.”

“Why? What would happen?”

“You’d fall into a deep sleep you can’t wake up from. I don’t mean you’re groggy, I mean you’d literally sleep sixteen, twenty hours. You wouldn’t be conscious enough for your body functions to wake you, so you’d wet the bed, that sort of thing. And then when you did wake up, there’d be temporary memory loss, which isn’t much fun, either. Definitely not a drug for playing around with. But if you’re really having trouble, it’s very effective. You want to drop by, pick up some samples?”

Peter hesitated. “Well, if you really think it will help.”

“Sure. I prescribe it all the time.”

“Thanks, Les. I’ll stop by later tonight.”

The doctor hesitated. “I’m spending the night at Cynthia’s. Mind if I just leave them with your doorman? I could have them over there in twenty minutes.”

“Sounds good. Thank you.”

“Anytime.”

Perfect. Peter exchanged a few pleasantries and hung up. Back to task. Now to assemble the ingredients and materials.

Several years before, Peter had owned a pedigreed Dalmatian who developed diabetes. When Pollock had to be put to sleep (the Dalmatian, obviously, not the painter), Peter saved some of the syringes and insulin in his master bathroom, in part because god forbid a guest in his home might need it, and in part because the syringes looked elegantly brutal: a short, fat tube for the plunger and a mercilessly long, thin needle. Peter went to the bathroom and retrieved one. They came prepackaged in plastic shrouds, with a green rubber tip at the end so you wouldn’t pierce yourself accidentally. Despite its tiny circumference, the needle was incredibly strong. Peter had no concerns that it might break during usage.

Leaving the shrouded needle on the kitchen counter, Peter went to the butler’s pantry off the kitchen and opened a cupboard. A client had gifted him recently with a stainless steel mini coffee grinder, good for grinding exactly two cups’ worth of coffee. He hadn’t opened it yet, but this seemed like the perfect occasion. Being careful to rinse and dry the grinder—no sense getting any extraneous chemical residue into the mix—Peter placed it on the counter and plugged it in.

Next, he brought out his blender, a commercial-grade device that was versatile enough that it could crush ice, blend a mean margarita and whip up a smoothie in nothing flat. The pitcher had been run through the dishwasher the night before, so Peter had no qualms about its relative sterility.

Back to the study, where he grabbed both bottles of Shiraz from the desk and brought them into the kitchen. One went straight into the bottle opener, a sleek chrome device that uncorked wine automatically. The other remained intact. Peter held the open bottle to his nose and inhaled the exotic aroma. Impulsively, he poured himself a glass, swirling it and holding it up against the light. What an excellent wine. A pity so much of it would be wasted. A sip confirmed his appraisal. He’d have to buy a few more bottles when this was all over. And toast Margaret with every one.

Margaret was perfect: a depressed boozehound, new to the city and short on cash. That was how the police would see it, anyway. Of course, not all depressed boozehounds committed suicide, but in Margaret’s case, he decided, the act would be brought on by an attack of inebriated guilt.

The intercom sounded, a discreet buzz from a panel set into the hallway wall next to the front door of his apartment. Could Les have stopped by already? Christ, he was fast. Peter went to the intercom and buzzed back. “Yes?”

“Gentleman just dropped a package for you. Shall I bring it up?”

“Please.” Peter released the intercom button and opened his apartment door expectantly. After a minute or two, the elevator doors slid open and the doorman stepped out, offering a manila envelope.

“Thank you.” Peter waited until the elevator and the doorman were on their downward way before folding back the clasp and checking the envelope’s contents. Fourteen individual sample packets of Ambien. Good old Les.

Back in the kitchen, Peter emptied all fourteen packets onto a dinner plate, examining the little football-shaped pills. They were yellow on top, white on the bottom. The bi-level effect made them look like candy. “Sweets for Margaret,” he chuckled.

Peter tilted the dinner plate over the coffee grinder, depositing the pills in the bean chamber. So far, so good. He closed the grinder lid and pressed the button marked “fine grind.” Better if there were a “powder” option, but this was apparently as good as it was going to get. The grinder was surprisingly loud. Peter winced at the noise, but it didn’t matter. The walls were well-insulated, and his neighbors certainly couldn’t complain at the idea of his running a coffee grinder at seven in the evening. It wasn’t even dark out yet.

The grinder stopped automatically after thirty seconds. Peter pulled out the stainless steel cup that was intended to catch the coffee grounds and discovered a mess of whitish-yellow crumbs. Not good enough. He dumped the crumbs back into the bean chamber and tried again. This time, the results were more powdery. Excellent.

Now, Peter placed the powder in the blender, carefully scraping the sides of the steel cup with a plastic spoon to collect as much of the powder as possible. He trickled a small amount of wine into the pitcher, just enough to saturate the powder, and set the pitcher lid in place.

One hand firmly on the lid, Peter pressed puree. Ah. A lovely little mixture formed in the pitcher. Peter smiled at the sight. It looked perfect already, but to be on the safe side, he gave the fusion a full minute in the blender before switching it off.

The entire pitcher was poured into a Pyrex measuring cup roughly equivalent in size to a shotglass. Peter gave the pitcher a good shake, getting every drop into the cup.

Now came the tricky part. He peeled back the plastic shroud from the syringe and placed the needle in the liquid. Very carefully, he pulled the plunger, filling the shaft with his concoction. Gently, he took the full syringe by the sides, making sure he didn’t depress the plunger prematurely. Aiming the needle like a pencil tip, Peter pushed it down through the foil on the unopened Shiraz. He took care to place the hole in a loop of gold script, so it was hardly noticeable. Once the needle had pushed through the foil, seal and cork, down into the bottle itself, he gently depressed the plunger, ejaculating the Ambien-laced alcohol into the wine.

Finished, he extracted the needle with the same care. The bottle looked no different.

There, now. The dinner plate and measuring cup went into the dishwasher. So did the blender pitcher and all removable parts of the coffee grinder. The plastic spoon and syringe went into the kitchen wastebasket. Peter was just collecting all the little plastic packets that had contained the samples when his eye lit on the following phrase: “AMBIEN CR tablets should not be divided, crushed, or chewed, and must be swallowed whole.”

And why not? The package didn’t say. Peter plucked the cordless phone from the wall and dialed Les.

“Yes? Get the package?”

“Got it, thanks. Listen, I didn’t read the wrapper and I went ahead and crushed one of the pills. Is that going to affect it?”

Les sighed. “Well, yeah. The pills will take longer to do the job. They’re two colors, did you notice that?”

“Yes.”

“Well, the different colored parts have different ingredients. The yellow part is a fast-acting sleep aid, puts you out in fifteen or twenty minutes, and the white part dissolves more slowly in your stomach so you stay asleep for the whole eight hours. If you crush them up, they take longer to have an effect and they might not get you through the night, because the slow-dissolving part has been broken down. I’m speaking in layman’s terms, you understand.”

Peter played dumb. “So should I take another one?”

“God, no! Never, under any circumstances, take more than one. No matter what you did with the first one. Even if you crushed it. Just lie down, put on some soothing music or something, and let the pill do its job. And tomorrow, don’t mess with it. Swallow it whole.”

“Got it. Now, I just poured a glass of wine—”

“Jesus, Peter, I wouldn’t have given you the samples if I thought you weren’t going to read the directions. Dump the wine in the sink. If you’re thirsty, try some hot milk.”

“No alcohol when I’m taking this?”

“Well, you can have a glass or two at dinner, but nothing for the last hour before you take the pill. And don’t ever take it if you’re drunk. I’m serious, Peter, this is not a drug to fool around with.”

Peter lowered his voice, sounding appropriately chastened. “I didn’t realize. Thank god I called you back.”

“Well, no harm done. Just do me a favor and go to bed, okay?”

“Done.”

“And no more calls. I just got to Cynthia’s.”

“Tell her I said hello.”

Peter hung up, switched on the dishwasher, grabbed the Shiraz and headed for the door.

A few minutes later, Peter was at the wheel of his BMW, headed toward the Lincoln Tunnel and Hoboken. The ride was quick, once he hit the tunnel. No toll for leaving the city, but if you wanted to come back and escape that miserable hellhole, you had to cough up six bucks, of course. New Jersey was the only state Peter was aware of that you could enter for free, but charged you to leave.

Margaret’s street seemed like the sort of solid, middle class neighborhood of gentrified brownstones you’d find in Brooklyn. Peter was surprised; he’d expected something much filthier.

He parked a couple doors down from Margaret’s building. It was a neatly maintained gray stone building, three stories high, with intricate moldings on the façade, indicating that it had been designed and built in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The first floor housed a dry cleaner with a wide plate glass storefront and a dental office, marked by an elegant brass plaque and an equally elegant front door. The apartments were accessed by a set of heavy French doors on the right-hand side of the building, with an arched cornice above. Peter pushed through the doors and found himself in a five-by-twelve vestibule, with a well-worn Oriental rug on the polished wood floor. Straight ahead was a wide, solid cherry-wood door, inset with a curtained plate glass window. A row of mailboxes adorned the wall to his left, along with a brass plate inset with eight buzzers, marked by apartment number and a small card with each tenant’s name. Margaret Milton was not listed, but two of the buttons had blank cards attached. 203 and 301 were either empty or Margaret. Peter pressed 203. No answer. He shrugged and tried 301. An answering buzz signaled that the curtained door at the end of the vestibule was now unlocked. Peter went inside.

The runners on the hallway floor and stairs matched the rug in the vestibule. A wide staircase with a polished cherry banister was directly in front of the door, and the first floor hallway continued alongside it, with a door on the left hand wall adjacent to the dental office and another door under the staircase, presumably leading to the basement.

Upstairs, he could hear voices raised slightly in argument. One of them belonged to Margaret. Peter climbed the stairs and found Margaret standing in the second-floor hallway with her back to the stairwell, faced by an enormous biker.

The biker tossed his hair back, indignant, revealing a bandaged temple. “So you’re just going to leave? What if Mr. Hersch needs you?”

“If anything happens, he’s got you and Freak. He’s not going to ask for me. He barely knows my name,” Margaret countered.

“But—a date?! How can you just run out for a date at a time like this?”

She put her hand on her hip. “Snake, listen to me. I haven’t been out on a date in years, not since before I was married. This doesn’t happen to me every day.”

The biker looked up at Peter. “Is this your date?”

Margaret turned and froze. “Oh, my god. Peter. What are you doing here?”

Peter smiled pleasantly and held up the Shiraz. “I came to make a peace offering.”

“Well, at least your date brings his own fuckin’ booze.”

Margaret sighed testily. “He’s not my date, he’s my boss.”

The biker grimaced. “You mean your ex-boss?” He thumped Peter’s shoulder. “You fuckin’ fired her! She didn’t do anything!”

Peter looked down his nose at Snake. “As I said, I’m here to make a peace offering.” Turning to Margaret, he added, “I’ve been giving the matter some thought. Could we speak in private?”

Margaret hesitated, then shook her head. “No. I’m sorry, but I’ve already been offered a job at another gallery. I’m sorry for how things happened, and I hope that the medals are returned, but I’m finished with Arsenal. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m late.”

The biker started clapping. “Fuckin’ ay, hot stuff! You tell him!”

Peter changed gears rapidly. “Fair enough. I was wrong, and I admit it. I’d feel better, though, if you’d accept this bottle of wine as a sign that there are no hard feelings. On my part, at least.”

Margaret took a deep breath. After a moment’s consideration, she took the bottle and shook Peter’s hand. “Thank you. No hard feelings.”

“I’m glad. Can I walk you downstairs?”

“Okay.” She turned to the biker. “Snake, could you—”

“Course.” He took the wine and tucked it under his arm. “You kids go have fun.”

Margaret rolled her eyes as she preceded Arsenal down the stairs. “My neighbor, or more accurately, my neighbor’s friend, who practically lives here.”

“Colorful neighborhood.” Peter held the curtained door open for her.

She hastened to open one of the French doors for him in return. “Yeah. It’s a real eye-opener.”

Peter held out his hand again. “Well, thanks again. I hope that you’ll think of me if you ever need anything.”

Margaret shook it, but he could see that her mind was already elsewhere, probably on her date. “Thank you. Have a safe trip back.”

“Do you need a ride anywhere?”

“No, thanks.” Margaret stood on the sidewalk, waiting for him to get in his BMW and leave. So he did.

Copyright 2006 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

Previous Chapters

If anybody thinks of a title for this chapter, let me know and if I go with it, I’ll include you in the book’s acknowledgements. xo, Amy

EDITED TO ADD: We have a title! Thanks, Dezro!





APPLICATION
posted @ 5:37 am in [ SPASMS ]

He peered around the office door.  “I wanna fill out an application.”

The receptionist eyed his multitude of piercings and took a deep breath.  “Just a moment.”  She pressed an intercom button: “Ms. Travers?  A job applicant is here.  Could you please speak with him?”

The manager appeared, tall and slender in her pinstripe suit.  “May I help you?”

The shoulders of his leather jacket heaved as he shrugged a greeting.  “I wanna fill out an application.”

Ms. Travers smiled.  “For what?”

“I dunno.  A job.”  He rested his elbow on the high reception desk, yawning.  “You know.”

“I see. What type of position are you looking for?”

“Whatever.  What do you got?”

The receptionist pretended she wasn’t paying attention, straightening the papers on her desk, aligning the stapler with the three-hole-punch.  Ms. Travers couldn’t blame her, really.  “Do you have a resume?”

The guy looked confused.  “A res…  I don’t think so.  Do you have a men’s room?”

The receptionist began to point to the restroom, but Ms. Travers stopped her.  “Tell you what.  I’ll give you an application to fill out, and from that we’ll be able to see if we have anything available for you.”

“No shit?”

Ms. Travers’ smile didn’t falter in the least.  “Here’s the application.  Fill it out and leave it here with Mandy.  I’ll review it and call you if we have anything that suits your experience and  skills.”

He grinned, revealing a missing incisor.  “Fuckin’ ay.  Thanks, man.”

Ms. Travers nodded and left the reception area, leaving the applicant alone with Mandy.  His pen scratched diligently.  “How do you spell ‘probation?’”

Mandy stared at him for a moment.  He looked up and raised an eyebrow.  “P, R, O, W —”

Mandy smacked her hand on the desk.  “I cannot believe this.”

“It’s not like an easy word,” he stammered.

“This is unbelievable.”

“You know I’m not a good speller.”

She spun around in her swivel chair.  “I’m gonna be working with my boyfriend!”

“I’ll just write ‘parole.’”

 

Copyright 2006 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.





END OF THE RIPPER
posted @ 5:55 am in [ SPASMS ]

The murders were horrible.  Grotesque.  The product of an evil heart and a deranged mind.  He was sickened every time he picked up a newspaper. 

But the final straw, the death that drove him to action, never made the papers. 

Bosie awakened him that morning with an urgent shaking.  “It’s Eddy!  That disgusting Ripper has killed Eddy!”  His young lover was hysterical with grief and rage and fear.  He held Bosie close, stroking his hair while he struggled to comprehend what he had just heard.

Eddy was a renter, a male prostitute of his and Bosie’s acquaintance.  Eddy was a sweet young man, loving and kind and funny.  Now gutted and mutilated, left to rot on a carriage house floor.

Holding Bosie close, gently murmuring soothing words into his hair, he began to form a plan.  He would need Bosie’s assistance, as well as his complete trust.

They discussed the plan over a breakfast neither of them felt inclined to eat.  That afternoon, Bosie and a group of close friends enlisted the aid of Ellen Paine, a female prostitute who had known and liked Eddy.  She had the necessary connections.

While Bosie was out, other arrangements had to be made.  A knife specially made for gutting fish was taken from the kitchen cupboard.  A book of anatomy was studied.  A map of the Whitechapel area was closely studied.  An ample cup of courage was drunk, then another.

At midnight, they made ready.

No prostitute in all of Whitechapel walked that night.  They might not earn much this evening, but such sacrifices seemed small compared to the burden Ellen Paine faced. 

She walked the alley in fear.  Bosie and his lover waited in a shadowy recess only a few feet away, but what if…?

A gentleman approached her.  He looked so very respectable that Ellen didn’t think he was the one. 

Until he offered her a grape.

Ellen screamed and turned to run.  The Ripper lunged, but it was too late.  Doors flew open on either side of the alley. 

Perhaps the Ripper recognized some of the prostitutes, both female and male, who tore off his clothes and restrained him mute on the alley floor.  Perhaps he recognized Bosie, the son of Lord Douglas.

Certainly the Ripper recognized the face of Oscar Wilde before he leaned in to cut his eyes out with the sharpened fish knife.

 

Copyright 2005-2006 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.





ON SALE
posted @ 9:27 pm in [ SPASMS ]

He took one look at all the shopping bags and rolled his eyes. “No wonder you took so long in there. You must have bought half the store. Need some help with them?”

“Nope, I’m good.” His wife tossed a few bags into the back and settled comfortably in the passenger seat with the two remaining bags. “The drug store’s going out of business! Everything’s on sale.”

“Everything except my prescription, I bet.”

She grinned. “That goes without saying. How do you feel, anyway?”

He shifted in the seat. “Like I’ve been kicked. Hand over the medicine.” She offered the prescription bag and he took a little white pill from the bottle. “I hope this works fast. So what else did you get?”

Her eyes gleamed. “A thing of five hundred aspirin! Only two bucks!”

“That’s nice. Anything else good?”

“Sure. Expensive shampoo on sale really cheap, twelve-pack of soap, big box of Band-Aids…”

“That’s great, we’ll be all stocked up on that stuff for months.”

“Yeah!” She pushed her hair back behind her ears and smiled up at her husband. “Normally, I feel a little guilty when I go out and buy a ton of stuff, but this is all stuff we need, and it’s all so inexpensive, you know? I actually feel virtuous right now.”

He nodded. “Sure, it’s an investment. What’s in that big blue box?”

“A vaporizer! For in case one of us gets a cold in the winter.”

“People really use those things?”

She shrugged. “They must, they make them, don’t they? Oh, and look at this!”

He raised an eyebrow. “A box of a hundred condoms? Is this a joke?”

“Of course not! This is like a year’s supply!”

He turned the box over in his hands. “Well, what are we going to do with them?”

“Why, use them, of course.”

His eyes fell to the prescription bag. Cradling her face in his hands, he whispered, “Remember why we were at the hospital just now?”

She reddened, giggling. “Oh! Sorry! I guess I wasn’t thinking.”

“It’s okay. Takes time to get used to it.” He put the car in gear and started driving. Honestly, who needs a condom when they’ve just had a vasectomy?

Copyright 2005 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.
Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.





THE PROSTRATE BOMBARDMENT OPTION
posted @ 5:40 am in [ SPASMS ]

Thanks toRachelle Cornell Nasher.  Another Two-Word story.

Devon was not going to take this lying down.  Too many times, he’d let Donna walk all over him, but no more.  If she thought he was going to overlook her taking his credit card from his wallet and maxing it out again, she was utterly mistaken. 

There were two ways this could play, he reasoned.  One, Donna could be persuaded of the error of her ways and pony up the money.  Happily ever after, end of story.  Two, Donna could pack her bags and leave.  He wouldn’t pursue her legally, since he’d offered her the use of the card in the first place.  The respectful use.  If she left, then goodbye, finito.  He’d never accept her back.  Not if she couldn’t admit such a fundamental breach of trust.

Quantifying the situation pleased Devon.  It was like chess, thinking several moves ahead.  Donna wasn’t that bright.  She didn’t stand a chance.  Either way, Devon would win.

The living room door opened, and Donna came in, toting a Fortunoff’s bag and a box from Tiffany’s.  Devon stood up.  “It has come to my attention that you have once again charged my American Express to the limit.”

Donna dropped to her knees and felt for his zipper.

“But… that’s okaaayyyy,” Devon moaned.

 

Copyright 2004-2006 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.





SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE
posted @ 6:20 am in [ reader participation -SPASMS -two word ]

I’ll be writing today’s SPASM tonight, and I’d like your help! Please leave a comment of just two words (no more than two, please!) at the end of this post. When I get home, I’ll pick a comment, use that as my title, and write a story to go with it. The old “Two Word Stories” rules apply (here, in case you’re not familiar with the concept). 

Don’t worry about your words not being good enough, or whether they go together or whatever. Just try to avoid profanity and obscenity. I provide plenty of that as it is.

This’ll be fun!

xo, Amy





HEY, FOLKS!
posted @ 6:36 am in [ book -buy stuff -SPASMS -update ]

Hey, folks! Things have been happening at Castle SPASMS. Obviously, I’m writing them again, but there’s more:

1) I’m planning to self-publish a collection of about 200 stories. The stories are already written, of course, but there’s an actual designer designing the book, and I’m not sure how long it’s going to take. Even if it takes months, it will be worth it, because this lady is GOOD. I’ll keep ya posted.

2) I have a CafePress shop. I don’t think I ever mentioned that on LJ, because the shop is small and kind of sucky, but you can check out what’s there if you like: http://www.cafepress.com/spasmsproject.  If I get my act together, I’ll be updating the products to reflect www.spasmsproject.com instead of the URL for my LJ.  Anyway, if you’d like to buy a SPASMS mug or t-shirt, go for it. I’m thinking of buying a mug for my desk at work.

3) You might’ve noticed that some of the new SPASMS are a tad longer than before. I’ve always tried to stick with 500 words or less, but writing novels will tend to make you verbose. They’ll shrink to 500 as we go, probably. Think of it this way: More SPASMS for your money! Oh, wait. You don’t pay for these, I give them to you out of the kindness of my own heart! Well, just be grateful, then. 

Thanks to all who’ve been with me for the long haul (since 2004!) and thanks to my new readers. You guys rock. Go forth in triumph.

xo, Amy





OLGA’S GARDEN
posted @ 7:24 am in [ flower -garden -SPASMS ]

 

It snowed, but only in the front yard.

The back was a lush paradise of verdant grass and foliage. Cool, tropical-scented breezes tickled the leaves. Exotic orchids bloomed around the patio. A puddle near the back of the yard that had never dried from the previous year deepened, clearing and becoming home to koi and miniature frogs. A single lotus blossomed among the lily pads.

It had been a typical suburban garden until the new housekeeper came. Olga was Hungarian or Ukrainian or something. She barely spoke English, just like anybody else from the agency. Olga wasn’t a spectacular housecleaner. There were dust bunnies under the couches and trails of dirt below the cupboards. But the very day she started, a vase of flowers that Mrs. Belleci was going to throw away came back to life. Mrs. Belleci didn’t immediately connect the two events. She was more concerned with Olga’s substandard vacuuming.

Mrs. Belleci’s children were the first to notice the changes in the back. Her son brought an orchid in from the yard and gave it to her. Where did you get this, Mrs. Belleci demanded. From the yard, he said. Mrs. Belleci didn’t believe him, so he insisted she look. It hadn’t come together yet, and there were no signs of actual work—no shovel, no plant containers—but somehow, the yard was being transformed into a botanical garden.

Mrs. Belleci went to confront Olga. Clearly, this was why the housekeeper did such a poor job. Well, gardening was all well and fine, but Olga was being paid to work, not play with flowers. Olga said she didn’t go in the yard. She stayed in the house all day. To prove it, Olga showed Mrs. Belleci the soles of her shoes. They were clean.

Olga continued to work for the Bellecis, and the garden continued to grow. Autumn had arrived, but the trees hadn’t changed their colors. Leaves littered the street in front of the house, but it was still summer in the back. Olga went on a week’s vacation in November. The garden languished. Within minutes of the housekeeper’s return, the grass was green again. The neighbors’ yards were bare and frigid. It was January, after all. Mrs. Belleci’s yard was sunny and warm.

One day, Mrs. Belleci asked Olga to come sit with her on the patio. Mrs. Belleci gave Olga a glass of iced tea. When Olga entered the yard, the flowers opened.

You have a great gift, said Mrs. Belleci. You should not be working as a lowly maid.

I have nothing to do with this, said Olga.

I am going to remove the walls around my yard, so that our neighbors can see your work and appreciate your beauty.

I have nothing to do with this, said Olga. Do not tear down your walls because of me.

I must, said Mrs. Belleci. It is a crime not to share this.

The next day, a team of men came to take down the fences. By the end of the day, the snow had melted from the surrounding neighbors’ yards. By morning, the neighbors’ trees were budding.

Olga was suddenly very tired.

Mrs. Belleci made Olga lay on the couch. She rubbed Olga’s feet. The Belleci children brought Olga tea and chicken soup for strength.

By nightfall, Olga could barely find the strength to speak. I must leave, she whispered.

No, Olga. Please don’t leave. You make our home so beautiful.

I must.

The next morning, Olga’s room was bare. Mrs. Belleci and her children searched the house. Olga had gone.

The flowers by the patio were already dead.

Mrs. Belleci cried.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 





THE PERDIFEROUS GUEST (Explanation!)
posted @ 8:09 pm in [ perdiferous -SPASMS ]

Thanks to all who commented and e-mailed me reagrding this post. I was really tired when I posted it, and I neglected to mention that it was a standalone piece. We did two separate stories with the same title, which is why I captioned it “Take 2.” Here is the first. We didn’t post the second one because we weren’t sure whether to develop it further.

Anyway, glad people liked it! Sorry there isn’t a conclusion. Maybe there will be, someday.

xo, Amy





THE PERDIFEROUS GUEST (Take 2)
posted @ 8:27 pm in [ jam -SPASMS -tim_x ]

 This is a jam, written about two years ago, by [info]tim_xand myself. Enjoy!

From the journals of Dr. Henry Wilkes Tonnage III

 

My dear friend Howard,

 

I am delighted to hear that my latest missive finds you well, too many of our friends have dropped out of contact, the reasons for which run the gamut from mortality to geography. All that are left now, old friend, are you, Wesley Barr & I. Wesley, that old adventurer, is planning a trip back to the dark continent; a journey which you can be certain I warned him against making. Especially considering what happened when last we were there. Do you recall that night, Howard? That dark night of screams in the jungle? Of the things we saw, and of our damnable guest?

 

 

Henry, old friend,

 

It has been many years since that fateful venture, yet I recall it every day. I thank you for warning Wesley against repeating the journey; you may rest assured that I have just penned a missive cautioning him against the same.  I am not ashamed to tell you, Henry, that I have relived that horrifying night many times in my dreams. I remember the screams, old friend, but the memory that haunts me most is the recollection of hiding in the tangled foliage in ebon night, daring not to move, lest our guest perceive my labored breathing…

 

 

Howard,

I got a deuced chill when I read your words pertaining to that night.  I sometimes think, perhaps wish, that I had imagined it all, but holding your letter in my hands dashed me back into reality.  I paid a visit to Wesley’s estate, in one last attempt to persuade him from folly, but I’m afraid he has already boarded the Tramp Steamer “Obeisance” to Africa.  All is lost, I fear, for Lord Barr will go once more into that jungle seeking to claim what he believes is his by right…but it is that which will claim him, for it belongs only to our guest of that dark night of long ago.

 

 

DEAR HENRY STOP - HAVE OBTAINED TWO TICKETS FOR THE STEAMER HMS VICTORIA DEPARTING BLAKESHEAD TOMORROW MORNING STOP – MEET ON DOCK BEFORE BOARDING STOP – BRING YOUR RIFLE STOP – I SHALL BRING THE OBJECT WE TOOK FROM THE JUNGLE STOP

 

 

My dearest Mary,

 

When you read this letter, darling, I shall be on board the H.M.S. Victoria, headed east. You may contact me via the ship’s wire if needs must. Henry and I are returning to the jungle to save your brother, Wesley. My love to you and the children. There is a possibility I may not return…

 

My dear Howard,

It pains me to hear that, once again, my brother places your life in jeopardy.  I am not even certain that you will receive this letter before you leave.  Know that my heart goes with you and, should you fail to return dies with you in that forsaken jungle.

To: Quartermaster Jervis, Fort Britannia- Africa
From Dr. Howard Phillips

Mr. Jervis,

I am forwarding this request to alert you of my arrival, and request that you ready the necessities for my compatriot and me.  When I was last in your care I left a particular locked trunk in your storeroom.  Please have it cleaned and ready for me.  That is all.

 

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly and Tim Mucci. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 





GAHHHH!!!
posted @ 7:25 am in [ infection -rob -SPASMS ]

Rob has an infection and is on massive anti-biotics. The upshot? He’ll be okay, but I got no sleep whatsoever last night, and now I gotta get ready for work.

Hopefully tonight, after work, drum lessons and whatnot, I’ll write a SPASM.  Fingers crossed that I don’t fall asleep first!

xo, Amy





SON OF A GUN
posted @ 6:12 am in [ SPASMS ]

Thanks to Sue for the first sentence.

 

“The son of a gun is a bullet,” he says, cradling the revolver.

I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything.

He squints up at me, looking for a response.

“Okay,” I say. Lamely.

“In films, how many times have you seen the villain talk to his victim before killing him? Explaining what they’re about, giving some long spiel about the Bible or some such thing?”

“Like in Pulp Fiction?”

“Right.”

I swallow. It isn’t hard to see where he’s going with this. “A lot, I guess.”

He nods. “That never made sense to me. A hit man is hired to perform a task without calling attention to himself or his client. Why prolong the event? Why waste time on chat?”

What am I supposed to say? “Right.”

“I know now, of course. It’s a power trip. He’s not talking to the victim, he’s talking to himself. It’s a way to keep yourself from going crazy. That’s my theory, anyway. For the moment.”

I look down at my shoes.

“Then again, there’s the times when a hit man is a sadist, too. Some of us like to torture our victims. The rationale, I believe, is that the target’s not going to live, anyway. He’s dead the minute we lay eyes on him. He’s a toy now.”

I can’t look at him. And yet, I can’t not look. He’s still watching me, cradling the revolver. “You said the son of a gun is a bullet,” I remember. “What did you mean?”

“The gun is supposed to be phallic. The barrel. But think about it the other way. It’s a birth canal.”

“Oh.”

“Or put it another way. A gun is an intention.”

An intention. I shift; my body is itching with anxiety.

He checks the chambers to be sure the gun is loaded. “Don’t look,” he advises.

I blink. How can I not look?

“Please,” he whispers.

In the moment it takes to blink again, blood is spattered all over me. He’s on the floor. The right side of his head is missing. My ears are ringing. The gun is still in his hand.

Great. Now how am I supposed to get out of these ropes?

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 





VERY WELL
posted @ 6:57 am in [ killer -middle ages -SPASMS ]

 

He had murdered two women already. It was difficult now to weigh his compulsion to kill against the widening police investigation. The urge to kill was mitigated by his instinct to stay alive and free.

Fortunately, the murderer was an intelligent man, a reader. He enjoyed books on history and science. He was also good with his hands. This all came into play when he hit upon his most brilliant idea: to build a time machine.

Feudal England—or, rather, Angleland— was the perfect place for him. No police force, no forensic science, fingerprinting, technology. Additionally, late Middle English was close enough to what people spoke in modern-day England that he believed he could get by. The possibility of killing an ancestor was remote, as his family hailed from Russia. The schematics for the time machine were downloaded from the internet. He gauged that he might be able to travel to the Middle Ages, but probably not back. That meant no toilets. No baths. No modern medicine, were he to be injured or fall ill. Very well, he would take precautions, get any applicable immunizations. True serial killers had to be perfect planners. His own case required a special kind of care.

It took years to build the time machine. During that time, the murderer schooled himself in the technology, trying desperately to engineer a method of return. He was growing older, and the thought of being stuck in feudal England at an advanced age with no medical care did not appeal much to him. Still, he held up his dream of finally being able to satiate his urges. That would have to suffice until the machine could be built and he could travel back and forth safely.

Finally, he discovered that while it was impossible to return from the past, it was possible to return from the future. This was because the future hadn’t happened yet, he reasoned, and this discovery agreed with current scientific theory. He was disappointed, but realized that he was, after all, in possession of a working time machine. He decided to write a paper and hold a press conference. Soon, he was a very rich, if somewhat old, man.

Years later, in his seventies, he decided there was nothing holding him back now. He was old, and he would die soon. Why not go back and satisfy his compulsion? He wrote a note, vaguely explaining that he was going back in time to fulfill a lifelong dream, and entered the time machine.

Instantaneously, he appeared in the middle of a street, crowded with serfs who immediately recognized him as a witch and stoned him to death.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 

 





LICENSE
posted @ 4:16 pm in [ SPASMS ]

Of the two sisters, Karen was the nice one. Marilyn was the one most likely to do something stupid. Which was exactly what she did, one too many times. When Marilyn was caught driving drunk, she already had a suspended license for exactly that reason.

Easy enough to solve, she thought. “Sorry, officer, I forgot my license. My name’s Karen Cauldwell, and I live at—” she was slurring, but sober enough to give her sister’s address.

The officer checked, and sure enough, a Karen Cauldwell matching the drunk’s description lived at that address. The face that came up on the computer screen was similar enough to that of the drunk, and the physical description—five foot six, brown hair, green eyes—fit. Marilyn was booked and fingerprinted under Karen’s name, and Karen’s license was suspended.

The first thing Marilyn did when she was released on bail the next day was go online to the Department of Motor vehicles site and change Karen’s address to her own. That way, the suspension notice would be mailed to Marilyn’s own home, Marilyn would pay the fine, switch Karen’s address back, and nobody would be the wiser. Karen wouldn’t get mad, and Marilyn wouldn’t get in trouble.

Except that the very day after her address was changed without her permission, Karen went to the DMV to renew her license, and found it was suspended. Angry, Karen paid the fine—she had to have a license, after all—and determined to confront her sister.

But a couple of bad checks Marilyn had written caught up with her, and she left town, pronto. Karen arrived at Marilyn’s apartment, only to find her sister gone.

Well. Time to play a little identity theft herself, Karen mused. Her husband had ruined her credit before their divorce. Marilyn had just been given a credit card by some credit company who wasn’t paying attention. Karen went through the unopened mail, found the card, and decided the American Express card with the $5,000 limit was payback for the fine.

But Karen was basically a decent person. She could never let a bill go without paying it. In no time at all, Marilyn’s credit rating had skyrocketed.

A year later and several states away, Marilyn developed a drug habit. Inevitably, she hit upon the idea of calling up for a credit card. She was astonished to be awarded a $14,000 card with no questions asked.

Karen was disappointed, but not surprised, to find the credit rating she’d worked so hard to establish dropping before her very eyes. It wasn’t difficult to track her sister down in Nevada. Karen didn’t bother contacting Marilyn to let her know she was in town; she simply waited in the dark alley behind the diner where Marilyn worked, with the engine running. When Marilyn came out from her shift, Karen floored it.

Afterwards, Karen took the new credit card and ID card from Marilyn’s wallet. She put her own driver’s license in its place and drove away.

A crackhead came upon Marilyn’s body a short time later. The woman wasn’t too strung out to take Karen’s driver’s license and the cash.

That license sure would come in handy.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.