posted @ 5:15 am in [ halloween -SPASMS ]

 The companion piece to yesterday’s story. Enjoy!

Gene awoke to a furious pounding at the door. He fumbled for his glasses. The doorbell rang insistently. He pulled on some sweatpants and went to answer it.

“Are you insane?”

Gene blinked at the man on his doorstep. “I… Do I know you?”

“Scott Morrison. I live next door. You’d notice that if you ever bothered to trim your hedges.” Another incentive not to trim the hedges, Gene reasoned.

“Oh, yeah. Hi.” Big yawn—man, it was cold outside. “What can I do you for?”

“You can clean my car, for one thing. What the hell were you thinking, giving kids eggs and shaving cream for Halloween?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. I didn’t have any candy, so–”

“So you incite vandalism? Have you seen my car?”

“It’s a Mustang, isn’t it?”

“Is it?! I can’t see it under all the egg yolks and shaving cream! Now, wake your lazy ass up and get over to my house and wash my goddamned car!”

“Hold the phone. I didn’t egg your car.”

“You provided the eggs!”

“Maybe I thought they’d make egg sandwiches. Hell, I gave the one kid a waffle iron.”

“If you don’t have candy, you don’t answer the door.”

Gene was horrified. “And disappoint the kids?!”

“The kids will live! My paint job isn’t doing so well!”

“I provided those kids with the means to create a Halloween night they’d never forget! They’ll thank me for it!”

Morrison collected himself. “Look. I’m not trying to start a fight here. All I’m saying is, intentional or not, the stuff you gave the kids last night was used to vandalize my car. I am a victim here. So I’m counting on you to be a responsible adult and take care of the damage. That’s all. Fair?”

Gene thought it over. “Yeah, it’s fair. I’ll be over after I shower.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.”

“No problem. I’m sorry.”

“Okay. I’m taking the other car and doing some food shopping. You can use my hose or whatever you need while I’m gone.” Morrison waved and walked back to his house.

A pretty decent fellow, after all. Gene closed the door and took a nice, long shower. Next door, he was surprised to find how thickly congealed the eggs had become. This wasn’t going to wash off without difficulty. Maybe if he wiped most of it off, the rest would come more easily.

He went back to the house. No paper towels. And he sure as hell didn’t want to cover his bath towels in egg. Oh, but here’s a thought… He grabbed a package from the closet shelf.

It didn’t wipe very well, but it did absorb some of the damage. Gene swaddled the car for maximum absorption and went back to his house for a cup of coffee.

The egged and creamed car was now covered in toilet paper.

 

 

Copyright 2007 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 





MEET BEAUTIFUL ORIENTAL AARDVARKS BY MAIL
posted @ 6:01 am in [ SPASMS ]

It’s true what they say about the mysterious and lovely aardvarks of the Orient – they may have flat faces and no chests, but they certainly are mysterious.  Gentlemen are invited to meet the beautiful aardvark of their dreams through this exclusive and perfectly legal service.  Charming aardvarks await your letters!  Once you begin corresponding with your personal aardvark, you may bring him over across the Atlantic to be with you for a nominal shipping fee of $144.67 (cost may be slightly higher if shipped in excess of twenty miles).  And for only fifty dollars more, your discreet Oriental aardvark will arrive wearing a 100% genuine polyester traditional kimono and a black wig, carrying a fan, two pairs of chopsticks, and a quart of pork fried rice (just enough for the two of you on your first night together).  To begin your correspondence with your beautiful Oriental aardvark, simply telephone 1-800-EAT-ANTS.

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






A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Classic SPASM)
posted @ 5:06 am in [ SPASMS ]

I’m working on a longer project this week, but I offer this special SPASM in the hopes that it will give you a little Christmas spirit. xo, Amy

It was the night before Christmas. Scrooge had dismissed his employees earlier in the evening, and after a simple supper, he donned his flannels and nightcap and climbed the stairs to his bedchamber. Being a miserly sort, he blew out the stub of candle before falling to sleep, and lay still in the darkness a few moments before drifting into slumber.

He awoke to the rattling of iron chains. Opening his eyes, he found the room awash in an ethereal gleam, and the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Morley, hovering above him. Morley was trying to tell him something, but Scrooge paid no heed. His hand flew to the nightstand and seized the telephone, a newfangled invention from Mr. Bell. Scrooge had always possessed a fondness for gizmos and whatnot. “Operator! Get me the Ghostbusters!” he cried.

Scarcely an hour later, the Ghostbusters had done their duty and departed (with no Christmas tip!) the premises. Scrooge smiled to himself and slept soundly until the next morning, when a group of carolers gathered to sing a hymn beneath his windowsill. Scrooge found himself filled with delight. Leaping from his bed, old Ebenezer heaved up the chamber pot from the corner of the room and hefted it out the window onto the carolers.

“Merry Christmas!” he cackled from the window as the carolers sputtered and choked in filth. “To hell with you all, every one!”

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





CRIME THEORY
posted @ 7:47 pm in [ SPASMS ]

Thanks to Doug Morse for some useful details. 

Absence of evidence.  That was his only goal, apart from murder. 

His victim worked graveyard shift, returning while it was still dark.  This left him nearly nine hours to enter the darkened apartment and set the scene.  Prior to entering the apartment, before even touching the doorknob, he slipped on new surgical gloves and a surgical cap.  Over his own clothing, he donned a new plastic coverall.  It was hot working under all this protection, but it prevented any hairs or fibers from escaping.  Surgical booties over his shoes eliminated footprints. 

Being cautious, he brought plastic sheeting with him.  After entering the apartment, he spread the sheeting along in front of him, never once letting his foot touch the unsheeted floor.  This complicated his movements to some degree, but he felt it was both prudent and necessary.

The gun was a 32-round 9mm semi-automatic pistol.  It had been stolen from a would-be mugger two years before, rendering provenance difficult.  Its serial numbers had been filed down and brushed with acid.  A foam pillow was secured over the barrel as a silencer.

He made his way to the bedroom and switched off the breakers.  The apartment was now without electricity or light.  It was nearly time.  He put on his helmet, which had a miner’s light attached, and waited behind the door.

His victim opened this door at precisely 5:11am.  She reached for the light switch, flipping it back and forth in the light from the hallway.  Satisfied that the foyer bulb had burnt out, she left the door open to illuminate her way as she walked to the lamp on the console table.  Noticing the plastic on the floor, she glanced around.

He closed the door gently and switched on the miner’s light.  She turned in surprise.  He took aim and fired.  The silent bullet hit her squarely in the forehead.  She sagged to the floor.

The heat from the charge had ignited the homemade silencer.  Gasping, he threw the gun to the floor, melting the plastic and setting flame to the carpet beneath.  Immediately, the skirt of the tablecloth on the console table caught fire, blocking his exit.  The fumes from the melting plastic were intense, the heat in his plastic coveralls brutal.  He tried staggering to the window over the melting plastic.  He got as far as the couch before losing consciousness.

He awoke to bright lights and blinding pain.  “You have second and first degree burns on 70% of your body,” said a cheerful nurse.  “You’re also suffering from smoke inhalation.  We’ll get you back on the morphine drip just as soon as you answer these detectives’ questions.”

“The perfect crime,” he whispered.

The detective snorted.  “Yeah, you set yourself on fire.  Just perfect.”

 

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





Chapter 11: HARMONIC CONVERGENCE
posted @ 11:57 am in [ Snake & Freaky John Novel ]

…in which we take a ride to a butterfly farm.

Again, a very rough chapter, but I wanted to get this out of the way so I could focus on what’s next. As always, any constructive criticism or suggestions from the peanut gallery would be mightily appreciated.

Chapter 11:

Harmonic Convergence

Peter Arsenal rolled over groggily at the sound of the doorbell. This was odd, he mused. Nobody ever rang his doorbell. Guests were supposed to be intercepted by the doorman, interrogated, and if suitable, called up appropriately. It must be a mistake. He yawned and buried his face in the pillow.

The doorbell rang again.

How annoying. Where was Charlie, anyway? No, wait, what was today? Saturday morning? It would be that new kid, Hamid or whatever his name was. Mentally, Peter excised Hamid from the list of servants to be tipped at Christmas.

Heavy pounding at the door. A voice calling from the hall—perhaps the building was on fire? Peter sat up and looked around. It didn’t feel hot in here. No smoke odor, either. And wouldn’t the sprinklers have been activated by now, if that were the case? There was something very peculiar about this whole business, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Cautiously, Peter adjusted his silk pajamas, stepped into his slippers and went down the hall toward the front door.

He started to look through the peep-hole, but not yet having inserted his contact lenses, everything was a blur. Several people standing out there—it must be an emergency, after all. Well, well. Peter Arsenal opened the door, replacing his expression of curiosity with one of concern. “Yes?”

Detective Buckley held up her badge and smiled. “We’re here to exercise a search warrant.”

Detective Pisciotta handed Peter Arsenal a sheaf of papers. “Lovely morning, isn’t it?”

Ever witty, Peter Arsenal replied, “Shit.”

Downstairs, on the street below, Hangdog was saying the very same thing: “Shit.”

Sharp-Nose looked around at the police vehicles double-parked all up and down Riverside Drive and slumped at the wheel of the truck.

They sat there for a while, watching uniformed and non-uniformed investigators go in and out of the building. The doorman (Hamid, who wasn’t getting a Christmas tip from the tenant in the penthouse apartment) was standing off to the side, being questioned by a uniformed policeman and apparently enjoying the chance to bad-mouth Arsenal. A gaggle of early risers with nothing better to do had assembled to watch the proceedings.

Sharp-Nose sighed. “Want to go get some pancakes?”

“Yeah, pancakes sound all right.”

They found a parking spot a few blocks up and went into a coffee shop. Neither of them spoke until they both had coffee in front of them and Hungry Man Specials on the way.

Sharp-Nose raised his eyebrows significantly. “Ever notice how every breakfast place has a Hungry Man Special? I defy you to go into any coffee shop or diner and not find a Hungry Man on the menu. It’s one of those comfort things, something you can get anyplace and it’s always the same. Kind of like McDonald’s.”

Hangdog, whose actual name was Dean, ignored this revelation. “I figure we go back to our original plan. Screw Arsenal—he’s out of the picture anyway, looks like—we go to the insurance company, show them the goods, get paid ten percent of the take and call it even.”

“That’s all well and good, but we need a middle man to handle the insurance people,” countered Sharp-Nose, who was born as Kirby.

Hangdog/Dean agreed. “That fence Arsenal recommended is out of his gourd, and unless you found another fence in the meantime, we don’t know anybody who deals in art. We gotta find somebody who’s just a little shady, with some kind of art background to make the deal. And then you know they’ll want a cut, too.” He leaned back while the waitress deposited two platters of eggs, home fries, bacon, ham and sausage on the table, flanked by two stacks of silver dollar pancakes and matching plates of toast. When she’d gone, he added, “The main thing, priority number one, is we need a place to park the truck. That, or a place to stash the crates till we make the deal.”

“You know, that guy Snake said Saul Hersch had his good days and his bad days. Why not give him another try?”

“Because.”

“’Cause why?”

“I have an aversion to being attacked with fire extinguishers.”

Kirby swallowed some coffee. “What are the odds of it happening again?”

“What were the odds of it happening in the first place?”

“Oh, come on. You want to talk about odds? What were the odds of us getting sucked into this scheme to begin with?”

Dean folded his arms over his chest. “It wasn’t my fault. Could have happened to anybody.”

“What did you say when we were breaking into Arsenal’s apartment? ‘What are the odds of him coming back from Europe early?’”

“I thought we agreed not to bring that up again, Kirby.”

“Well, yeah, but I’m making a point.”

“Point’s moot. Look, we didn’t get arrested.”

“Yet.”

“And Arsenal got us to pull this job, and we still stand to make some money off it as long as we play our cards right.”

Kirby slopped syrup on his pancakes. “If he doesn’t turn us in.”

“How? He doesn’t know anything. He’s got the number to an anonymous prepaid cell phone. That’s all he’s got on us, and we can get rid of that anytime. Doesn’t know our names, our addresses, nothing.”

“He’s got our fingerprints.”

“Where?”

“On the inside of that truck he rented.”

Dean swiveled around in his seat and signaled the waitress. “Check, please!”

Minutes later, they were headed down the West Side Highway toward the Holland Tunnel. Kirby was at the wheel, as usual.

Dean was thinking fast. “We’re getting rid of the truck. First, we gotta find a place to stash the crates.”

“Or give them to that fence, Hersch.”

“Okay, we’ll give him another shot. But if it doesn’t work out with Hersch, we find a place for the crates. Then we clean the truck, wipe down the entire interior and exterior, and leave it double-parked with the engine running.”

Kirby shook his head. “Why not just take it back to the rental?”

“We don’t want anybody at the rental to know what we look like, either. An obvious parking violation where the truck has to be moved out of the way, the cops’ll impound it before they even know they’re looking for it. No questions asked.”

“Oh, yeah! Nice. Then by the time they do realize they’re holding their own evidence, anything we might have accidentally left in it will have been smeared up anyway by the cops and the tow crew.”

“Right. Then all we have to do is unload the goods and rest easy.”

Kirby smiled at the wheel. “I like this plan. This is a keeper.”

“Well, let’s not get excited till it’s finished without us being arrested. So quit speeding.”

“Righty-ho.”

This being a Saturday morning, the entrance to the Holland Tunnel wasn’t as bad as usual. Normally, it’s a vehicular hellhole in that area at this time of day. Kirby and Dean reached Saul Hersch’s apartment building in less than forty minutes.

When they rang the bell for apartment 201, a familiar voice answered. “Helena, is that you?”

Kirby answered. “No, I’m here to show you some stuff.”

“Oh. I’m sorry, I’m not really looking at things these days.”

Kirby buzzed back. “It won’t take a minute. A guy from a gallery sent us—there’s two of us, me and my friend—and he said you might be interested in what we picked up.”

After a moment, the vestibule door buzzed and they entered. Kirby beamed at Dean. “See? He has his good days.”

“It remains to be seen.”

Saul Hersch was waiting at the top of the stairs. He had probably once stood at five-eight, but age had shrunken him at least an inch. He was slender, with bright chocolate eyes and a fine smattering of white hair on his head. Saul Hersch wore a short-sleeved light blue dress shirt and dark gray trousers. Leather slippers were on his feet.

“Nice to meet you fellows,” Mr. Hersch said as he ushered them inside the apartment. “I hope you didn’t have to come a long way.”

“Nah, Manhattan’s all.” Kirby was cheerful. “Nice place you’ve got here. I notice the medals you got framed there on the wall.”

“Thank you. I also have a small collection of Roman coins framed over here.” He indicated the wall near the telephone. “But I must apologize for whoever sent you. I’m very old, I’m afraid, and I haven’t done much business in many years. Retirement agrees with me.”

Kirby was still doing the talking while Dean looked around. Hard to tell if there were any wires in here. The doors to the bedrooms and the bathrooms were open, though, and he didn’t see anybody in there. As far as he could tell, the three men were alone in the apartment.

“You’ve retired? Get out! You’re awful spry for a gent your age,” Kirby was saying. “How long were you in business, anyway?”

“Oh, fifty years or so. How long have you been in business?”

“I don’t get you.”

“Picking things up. Been at it long?”

“Since I was in high school. Maybe twenty years. Nothing compared to you, sir. But I’m semi-retired, myself.”

“Really? At your age? You must have done quite well for yourself.”

Kirby smiled proudly. “Well, me and my partner here, we got into what you might call a new line of work. We still pick things up occasionally, but mostly we’re doing this other thing, and I personally find it very satisfying.”

Hersch blinked curiously. “I bet it has to do with computers. Am I right?”

“Not at all.”

Dean shook his head, but Kirby was telling Hersch anyway.

“See, what happened was, I’d been fooling around on the guitar for years, and although I knew Dean—that’s my partner, here—played the bass, we never really put two and two together until one night, my girl and I are over at Dean’s house with his wife, and we’ve all had a couple of drinks, and his wife suggests we try playing a couple songs together.”

“You’re musicians?”

“Yeah! Turns out we both like folk music, so we started working on some songs, and played them in coffeehouses, and people liked them, so we wrote some more, and started playing more, and—”

“But that’s not why we’re here this morning,” Dean added.

Saul Hersch smiled at him. “Let’s sit down. Would you like some tea? Let your friend tell me about your folk singing and then we’ll take a look at what you’ve brought.”

As it turned out, Saul Hersch was a great admirer of Simon and Garfunkel. Kirby was ecstatic. “I’ll bring you a copy of our CD, then. You’re gonna love it.”

Saul Hersch told them about some of the heists he was involved in, long ago, before he became a fence. He clearly enjoyed remembering the old days, and they were interesting stories, but when he finished them, he looked confused. “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten—were you here from the doctor’s office?”

“No, sir, we’re here because we have some things to show you.” Kirby pulled a slender white box from his backpack. “Medals.”

“Oh, I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake, young man. I’m retired.”

Dean glanced around to be sure Hersch didn’t have a fire extinguisher handy.

Kirby opened the box and held it up so Saul could see the art inside. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it. What is that, a portrait of a woman, a pretty woman? I don’t know much about art, but I can see it’s really nice.”

“Yes, it’s nice, but I can’t buy anything from you. Really, thank you for stopping by, but I’ve got things to do.”

“It’ll only take a minute. Look, I’ve got another one.”

Saul Hersch pointed at Dean. “Who is he?”

“That’s my friend, the one who planned this job. Now, I got five crates in a truck out there—”

Saul Hersch declined, getting up from his chair. “No. I’m sorry, boys, but I…I believe I have something to do this morning. You’ll have to leave.”

Kirby stood up. “But you haven’t seen all the medals. And I was going to give you a copy of our CD.”

Saul blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

Dean touched Kirby’s arm. “Let’s go. Nice meeting you, Mr. Hersch.”

Saul Hersch’s fingers were cold, his grasp feeble. “Pleasure meeting you. You were with Helena, you said?”

Leaving the building, Dean shook his head. “I knew this was a bad idea. Look how much time we just wasted.”

“Look on the bright side. We got one less option to check out now. Right?”

Dean sighed grimly as he pushed out the front door.

Outside, a black Monte Carlo with a snake decal on the hood had just pulled up. Kirby recognized the guys in the car. “Hey, Snake, how are you?”

“Just had a long fuckin’ night. How about you?”

“I just talked to your friend Mr. Hersch. He can’t help us out.”

Freak got out of the car. “I’m gonna get a nap. See you in a couple hours.”

“Okay, dude.” Snake turned back to Kirby and Dean. “That sucks, but I told you, he has his good days and his bad.”

Dean shrugged. “This started out as a good day, but it degenerated pretty quick.”

“Oh, man. So you got anybody else you can see about this stuff?”

“No. We don’t usually pick up this kind of material.”

“Yeah, but fuck, probably anybody would take watches. They’re easy to re-sell.”

Kirby leaned in. “Yeah, but these are really hot. So we were thinking of finding a place to keep them till things cool down. You know, someplace we’re not normally associated with. But we can’t rent it or anything.”

Snake considered this. “I might be able to help you out. Hop in.”

Dean shook his head. “I don’t want to leave the truck.”

“Then follow me. We’re only going a couple blocks.”

Dean crossed his arms. “Why don’t you tell me about it first?”

“Well, my brother runs the family business out of our house. I help him out. We have a two-car garage, and for this business, he has to keep a lot of stuff in the garage, so it’s really his warehouse. We don’t use it as a garage at all. And instead of paying rent, I help him out, which includes keeping inventory of everything in the garage. Get it?”

Kirby nodded. “He doesn’t go into the garage?”

“Every once in a while. But as long as there’s space for his stuff, he doesn’t care if I put other stuff in there, too. Come take a look and see if you think there’s enough room.”

Dean relaxed. “Yeah, I’ll follow in the truck. If it looks good, maybe we can put the crates in there right now.”

The house was a couple blocks over, a tall, narrow Victorian number that rose to three stories via various towers and gables in the front, and rambled on for some distance in the back. A surprisingly neat wrought-iron fence ran along the front, with gates opening into a driveway, where Snake parked in front of the garage. A sign hung from the arch over the driveway, Hudson Rivers’ Butterfly Farm in green calligraphy over a field of peach.

“Should be River. Singular,” Kirby remarked as they got out of the car to wait for Dean. “Or move the apostrophe over.”

“No, that’s my brother’s name. Our last name’s Rivers, and we’re all named after rivers. I was almost named Nile.” Seeing the look on Kirby’s face, he shrugged. “It’s complicated.”

Dean walked up the driveway next to them. “What’s complicated?” Nobody answered.

Snake opened the garage door with a key. Inside, screens were leaned against one of the walls according to size. Boxes and boxes marked as containing varying sizes of glass frames were stacked high all around. Some garage type stuff was scattered around a workbench to one side, and an old bicycle was suspended from the ceiling, but for the most part, it really did look like a warehouse.

“I’d put the crates over here in this corner, near the workbench, and put some paint cans and shit around on it, so it’s not clear if it’s business stuff or personal. And being over here in the back, nobody could see it from the street if I have the door open. What do you think?”

Dean poked around a little bit, checking the perimeter. “Pretty good, actually. You’re not dealing or anything, right? No reason for the cops to come around?”

“Nope. Everybody knows my family. We’re good. Which reminds me. If you’re gonna stow it here, I want to clear it with my brother.”

Kirby was polite but firm. “No reason to bother him about it. We’ll give you a little something for helping us out, of course.”

“Naturally. But look, my brother runs the business and the house is in his name. He stands a lot to lose if something happens—which is why nothing’s gonna happen, you can trust me on that—so I gotta clear it with him. Trust me, he’s cool. Come on, he’s probably in the sanctuary.”

Dean looked dubious. Kirby shrugged. What else could they do?

Snake locked up and led the way around the side of the garage to the back of the house. A great glass greenhouse took up most of the yard, filled with a wide variety of flowering plants and miniature trees.

One screen door opened into a little glass vestibule with a second screen door at the other end. “This is like an airlock,” Snake explained. “So if anything escapes by accident as you’re leaving, you can catch it and put it back so it doesn’t get out into the open.” He pushed through the second door and into a miniature summer paradise. Blooms of every color blossomed forth from urns set all along the walls and baskets and bowls hanging from the ceiling. Overhead, fans set into the walls admitted a gentle breeze that kept the sanctuary from getting too hot.

Snake ignored the profusion of color and scent and headed for a screen room at the rear of the greenhouse. “Hud, come out for a sec. Got some visitors.”

From somewhere on the floor rose the biggest man Dean or Kirby had ever seen. Snake was tall, but this man was taller, more classically proportioned. He was naked from the waist up, muscles glistening with sweat. A long mane of blond hair highlighted by strands of silver crowned his head. A beard of the same color jutted forth proudly from the man’s chin. He was barefoot, clad only in cutoff jeans.

Kirby caught his breath. Except for the cutoffs, this man looked exactly like Thor. Or Odin. Some Norse god, anyway.

Dean choked. “There’s a butterfly in your hair.”

Hudson Rivers gently rifled his fingers through his hair, plucking a huge brown insect from the tresses. “Attacus lorquinii.”

“Atlas moth,” Snake said helpfully. “It’s called a butterfly farm, but we do a lot of business in moths, too. Hey, Hud, these friends of mine need a place to keep some of their stuff, only it’s a little hot.”

“Warm, really,” Kirby added.

“Yeah. It’s just a couple crates of watches. You mind if I keep ‘em in the garage? If anybody comes asking after them, course, you don’t know anything, it’s all mine. Right?”

The Norse god shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”

“Thanks, man. They’ll be out as quick as they can unload ‘em.”

Dean nodded. “As quick a turnaround as we can make it.”

And so seven crates of stolen art medals found a home on a butterfly farm.

Copyright 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.

 

 





THE GREAT MESMERO
posted @ 8:14 am in [ hypnotism -SPASMS ]

 

The Great Mesmero entered the room and spoke to the young woman sitting at the computer. “You have not vacuumed, I perceive.”

She turned in her chair. “No. I was over at the next-door neighbor’s all morning. Lucky for you, she’s not going to press charges.”

The Great Mesmero smiled and made a small gesture, as though he were wiping something away. “But of course. That is to be expected, my dear.”

“Not forever. Post-hypnotic suggestion doesn’t last too long. I had to promise her you’d fix the broken tread on her front steps before she agreed not to make a fuss.”

The Great Mesmero turned to look at Gail. “I didn’t break her steps. I never even entered her yard.”

“I know, I know, all you did was work in the garden naked and convince her that you were really wearing clothes. I get it. Kinky, but you didn’t hurt anybody. The thing is, she remembered after a while. She was in the house, doing some dishes, and suddenly realized you were out there in your birthday suit, and that’s when she started screaming. But she’s okay now, and like I said, she’s not pressing charges.”

The Great Mesmero stroked his goatee thoughtfully. “Perhaps I should pay her a call.”

“Perhaps you should wear pants when you go outside! Geez!”

The Great Mesmero patted her shoulder. “I shall endeavor to remember. The mere fact that I did such a thing really does, in your parlance, suck. But I shall make a clean sweep. You do not need to—”

“I don’t vacuum, Frank. Administrative assistants don’t clean. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish answering your fan mail. Oh, and we might have a gig in Finland. Hopefully we’ll hammer out the details this afternoon.” She glanced down at her desktop and saw the envelope. “And another thing. The blank pieces of paper won’t work on me. I want a real paycheck by the end of the day, or I walk.”

The Great Mesmero nodded, embarrassed. It was rather unfortunate that his new assistant wasn’t susceptible to suggestion.

 

Copyright 2008 Amy Frushour Kelly. All rights reserved.

Reproduction by any means prohibited without prior written consent.

 




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