When a charismatic Algonquian killer shows up in the remote mountain town of Wicklow, CA, he turns peaceful Wild River County upside down and inside out. One time criminologist, and Wicklow resident, Maggie Tall Bear Sloan, (50% Yurok, 50% Irish, and 100% gutsy) joins forces with county sheriff and long-time friend, Jake Lubbuck, to track down the murderer. Maggie’s twin nieces live in Wicklow and match the killer’s victim profile exactly. She’ll do whatever it takes to protect them and the people of her home town. Maggie has recurring dreams of turning into a green-eyed raven the local tribal people believe exists, and she just might be a “pukkukwerek,” the shapeshifter monster killer of Yurok legend. As she pursues the killer, who may be possessed by the Manitou demon, Maggie begins to accept her true nature as she learns not all things are as they seem, and discovers that some myths are true.
Canada, Twenty-Eight Years Ago
Three weeks before his sixth birthday, the boy tasted his first human heart. It happened during an elk hunting trip with his father, Noshi, his mother, Chepi, and his twin brother, Sheshebens.
“Uncle Sokamon says the Elk are plentiful on the back side of the La Cloche,” Noshi said.
The family packed, Noshi grabbed his rifle, and off they went. The day before, a freak storm, “the worst of the season,” the weatherman said, dumped another meter of snow over the already blanketed peaks. But today the sun was blinding orange and the sky, hyacinth blue. The boy shielded his eyes with one hand and squinted at the glinting snow. …
Northern California, Present Time
An unkindness of ravens, knocking and cawing, settled into the branches of a gray pine. Maggie squinted at them through the morning glare of the sun, and reached into her coat pocket. “You gluttonous, winged pigs.” She withdrew her hand and tossed corn onto the dirt. No matter where Margaret Tall-Bear Sloan was, ravens were certain to be nearby. She always carried corn.
The phone rang. She dropped the kernels remaining in her palm, and sprinted into her cottage. “Hello?”
“I’ve got bad news,” said Jake Lubbock, Wicklow’s sheriff.
“Don’t tell me. More kids?”
“Six-year-old girls. The O’Malley twins.”
“Dammit. God dammit.”
“You still thinking about joining the reserves? Your certification is current, and you still have your license to carry. Right? I can expedite this.”
“Maggie, listen to me. We sure could use your help. Two sets of twins in less than eight months.
No clues. We can’t get a handle on this.”
“You know after what happened in Oakland, I don’t deal with child killers. I’m sorry, but I have to say no.”
“Can we meet for lunch and talk? At least hear me out.”
“What time? I’ve got an appointment this morning. I can be in town around one if that’s not too late.”
“One it is,” Jake said. “And…Maggie?”
“Don’t thank me. I’m not getting involved. This is only lunch, and you’re buying.”
“Whatever you say. See you at The Dandelion.”
She slicked back a few stray hairs. Not bad for an old broad. With her bare foot, she stroked Samantha, her blue point Siamese rescue cat with a crooked tail and an attitude. The slinky feline leapt onto the table and butted Maggie’s hand in a bid for additional petting.
For 46, Maggie figured she’d held up pretty good, her complexion wrinkle-free except tiny crows’ feet at the corners of her eyes when she smiled, which was seldom. Maggie had Yurok features from her mother’s side, toasted butter skin and Native hair, glossy stuff of legends she plaited into a thick salt-and-pepper braid that fell to her waist. Her lime green eyes that turned dark olive when she became angry, which was often, she owed to her Northern Irish father.
She pulled on her favorite T-shirt, the one that read, “I’m half white but can’t prove it,” kicked off fuzzy pink slippers, yanked on her Dan Post boots, and left with her dog following close behind. “See ya later, Samantha. Keep the mice away while we’re gone.”
She opened the door to her ‘54 cherry red Chevy pickup. “C’mon, Chester.” The old bloodhound leapt into the passenger’s seat. As Maggie headed toward town, a raucous cry broke the mid-day stillness. She glanced in her rearview mirror. “Yup, ravens following us, Chester. What a big surprise, eh boy?”
53 Amazon reviews, all 4s and 5s. Excellent reviews on Audible.com and on Goodread, too. The latest 5-star Audio review:
"Made me think of Twin Peaks"
In a small town in Northern California a serial killer is murdering sets of young twins, whose bodies are always placed on an embrace and without their hearts. Maggie, a retired criminologist, is required to assist on this case by the local sheriff. Her Indian heritage as "pukkukwerek" will be decisive in finding out who is murdering these children, but it is something Maggie is not willing to accept, preferring her Celtic roots, and discarding this legends as simple myths.
I loved the setting of this book. The small town, the gruesome murders, the diner, the ravens, and the mystic element made me think more than once about Twin Peaks. Wheeler depicted great characters with distinctive personalities that were alive, with their obsessions and their imperfections, and they fitted perfectly into the setting, which was also very elaborate to the point of feeling real. I could almost smell the coffee Dawn prepared, and I almost felt part of the small population of Wicklow.
The story is very well built, and I immediately got immersed in it. The book alternates between the current story and another one in the past, which will give us small clues as to why this murders are happening. Halfway through the book I was almost sure about who the culprit was, but Wheeler knows how to keep us in the dark, and the truth is neither revealed nor suspected until the end of the story. This last twist was totally unexpected and when the killer was finally revealed I even flinched.
One of my favorite things though about the audiobook is the narration. Joe Hempel always delivers a great experience, and for me, he makes the listening almost something seamless. At some point I forget that I am listening to somebody narrating a book and I am living the story. You always know which character is doing the talking, and he is at the same time subtle, which is relaxing to the ear. Hempel also transmits very well the characters emotions, bringing them to life.
This book is one of those great and unexpected finds. I would love to read more stories by Peggy A. Wheeler, and I would not mind visiting Wicklow again.
Other books in this genre:
By the time Savvas arrived at the copse in Filothei, the police had already cordoned off the area. Two ministers, the High-up Chief and the Press Secretary of the Government were waiting at the crime scene. The head rookie bypassed the representatives of the Intelligence Service and grasped the hand of colleague Jacob Oldman.
“What do you mean, good morning?” queried Oldman.
With greying hair, thick moustache, squared shoulders and serious expression, the taciturn Oldman was the most senior officer in Homicide. “Come see,” he said in a fatherly tone, pointing at the victim’s Rover. Gus Black, the President of the party in power, was slumped at the wheel, with two contact shots in the head. Three hours earlier he had dismissed his bodyguard and driver. Black’s door was closed, the rear door was not. The gun used to shoot him had not been found, and neither had the revolver he kept in the glove compartment or his personal belongings.
“How do you feel about robbery after murder?” whispered Whitebrow, who had crept up as quietly as a cat.
“It’s likely,” said the senior officer.
The Chief pulled Savvas aside.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“Did the Honourables remove his personal belongings?”
“You know the answer to that.”
“They thought they would round off the crime scene, eh?” chuckled the head rookie and swore at the “good for nothings” for tampering with the investigation.
In his opinion, the passenger door had been broken into by an amateur; someone who must have known how long Black would be unaccompanied. If it was someone the victim knew, it was likely they would sit beside him. Otherwise, the threat of a weapon would have been enough to get them into the car. The perpetrators had preferred to break in and hide behind the driver, leaving mud smears with DNA. And as it hadn’t rained for days, it was probably transferred from a garden.
“Black must have been followed by at least two people,” said Stretch. “When they saw him head towards his vehicle, one hid in the back. We’re looking for a thin, short and flexible person, who jumped up as soon as the politician turned the key. He didn’t let him drive far due to the increased police presence in the area, killed him and hopped onto his accomplice’s motorbike. This was indicated by the narrow tire tracks behind the Rover. The victim must have been at one of the villas nearby. It smells like a political crime committed by an amateur.”
“We’ll get caught up with professional liars. Zeus, take note. Your theories are for my ears only. Oldman is in command of the investigation, I’ll explain your role to you in private,” said the Chief, and returned to the huddled VIPs.
Officially he was in charge, unofficially…
“Clearly one coroner won’t suffice,” murmured Oldman, motioning to the Crime Scene Investigators to stop snickering, as no less than three coroners pulled up.
While they were waiting for Black’s driver and bodyguard, Savvas decided to consult with the representatives from local police station, certain they would be aware of the quirks of their citizens, many of whom were involved in politics, be it front and centre or behind the scenes. It turned out to be no secret that the victim often visited Claire Vane, who lived 200 metres from the scene of the crime and another 200 from his own villa. Although she was Black’s closest associate, they had not been instructed to inform her of his death.
The head rookie updated Oldman, who requested Savvas handle Vane.
:: Warm-blooded Constituent
In the meantime, the police had blocked off the roads leading to Black’s residence. Savvas asked the patrol car to pass by the house first. Arriving there, he saw the victim’s wife in a red convertible waiting for the garage door to open. It was 4.55 am. The patrolmen had some very interesting gossip about the “brand-new widow” Lola Black and the Vanes. Among other things, the latter’s husband, former MP Vane, had moved to the city centre “to serve his female constituents better”.
His “official wife” was sleeping. Her house was like a bungalow with large uncovered windows, which offered the perfect view into the sitting room. The head rookie walked through the unlocked gate and rounded the garden. There were puddles in a few areas from a recent watering. He requested that Forensics take a sample of the mud for comparison with the trace found in the Rover and to search for footprints and other evidence. Ringing the doorbell, he heard Claire Vane’s voice a few seconds later.
On hearing about Black’s death, she burst into sobs. However, she quickly regained her self-control and systematically asked for details. She then proceeded to make telephone call after telephone call. Her authoritarian words testified to her anger and antagonism. To Savvas she said that Black had also been a close friend of her father’s. The previous evening they had shared a bottle of wine, chatting easily. He must have been killed just a few minutes after leaving her house. Claire flatly rejected the possibility that it was an organised political crime, or that the perpetrator was a friend or colleague.
“Politicians kill with their words,” she stated. The only possible explanation was an entirely unpredictable action by a warm-blooded constituent. The “only possible explanation” was interrupted by the sound of her telephone.
“Yes, I know… an officer is here now… I don’t care… it’s your problem,” she said, hostilely.
Her husband, wondered Savvas. Was he asking for an alibi? He looked at her questioningly. She wasn’t going to enlighten him. He expressed his condolences and bid her goodnight.
“You are completely different from the woman who opened the door to me,” he said.
“Please explain, Mr Kallinis.”
“I met three Claires this evening. One opened the door, warm from her bed. Another expressed her deep grief on hearing about the murder of her closest friend. Now I’m bidding farewell to a disciplined, dynamic scientist. I won’t mention your political standing in case you misunderstand me.”
Before shutting the door behind him, Mrs Vane took his mobile number saying, “We will meet again.” There was no doubt in his mind that she was flirting with him.
Frank Armstrong had lain down on the dining room table before, but in the past he'd always been either sound asleep or dead drunk. Now he was just dead.
I stared at his half-open mouth and washed-out face, and marvelled at the way his body seemed to barely inhabit the crappy suit he always wore. If I were the sort to feel guilty, I might wonder if it had been my fault, him being dead, I mean. But I wasn't.
Behind me, the blonde coughed like she needed attention.
'Why'd you call me?' I said.
'I just...' She shrugged. 'Wanted someone here, y'know? And you were his friend. I thought ye'd want to know.' She pouted at me, then seemed to remember she was supposed to be the grieving widow and turned it into a whimper.
'You call an ambulance?'
I expect they'll send one, but what's the point? He's stone cold.' She sniffed. 'Doctor's on his way.'
Her face was conspicuously free of tears, and even though it was only eight in the morning and she'd probably only been home an hour, I could see she'd taken time to tart herself up before receiving visitors. Only the wonky hairdo and excess luggage under her eyes, showed she'd been shagging all night.
'You think it was..?' I hesitated. 'I mean..?'
'I know what ye mean, bonny lad. Ye mean was it natural causes or did I smack him over the head once too often for being a boring shit?' She sniffed again and dabbed her nose with a hanky. 'No. I expect his heart packed in. Bound to, sooner or later.'
I nodded and wondered if she realised there'd be an autopsy.
Lizzy glanced out the window and made a face. 'Tch, look at that nosy cow. I should've left the nets up.'
I turned to look. A woman across the road was standing at her front door, watching. With two pairs of eyes on her, the offender backed inside and shut the door. As we stood watching, I noticed Frank's car wasn't outside. I didn't say anything to his wife. She had enough to deal with just now.
There was a pause while Lizzy brushed unseen fluff from her blouse. She fiddled with the curtains and wiped a finger through the dust on the windowsill. I got the feeling there was something else in the pipeline.
Eventually, in an oh-I've-just-remembered sort of way, she said, 'You wouldn't be goin past Ronnie's, by any chance?'
When I looked her full in the face, she dropped her gaze to the carpet.
'Wondered if ye wouldn't mind callin at the office? Tellin the lads, an that?' She bit her lower lip the way she always did when she was pushing her luck. 'I made a couple of phone calls, ye know, family an that, but I'm not up to talking to anyone else yet.'
Of course. That's why she'd called me. Not because she felt in need of a friend, bit of moral support, which'd be fair enough, you might think. No, she wanted someone to take the crap that Frank's boss would be dishing up with a hot spoon. Or more to the point, when the brown stuff hit the proverbial and Big Ronnie went ballistic, she didn't want to be in the firing line. The fact of Frank being dead wouldn't get in the way of Ronnie taking back what was his.
'Aye, of course.' I shuffled my feet. 'I should go.'
'I was at Dave's place last night.' She showed me her 'sorry' face. 'I could tell you were wonderin, like.'
She threw her hands up as if the frustration of it all was truly overwhelming. 'I mean how was I supposed to know? Never told me where he was going or nothin.'
'He was at work, wasn't he? So ye did know where he was, pretty much.'
'I knew he was drivin a bloody taxi. Course I did, but...' She ran out of steam and excuses at the same time.
Relenting a little, I allowed her a small slice of benefit-of-the-doubt pie. 'So you weren't here when he died. It wouldn't have made any difference.' I glanced at Frank. 'Not to him.' I started for the door.
'I'll let you know when the funeral is.' She touched my hand. 'Ye'll come?'
It was only then, in that few seconds of human contact, that I felt the tears start. Not for her, mind, not that selfish, money-grabbing bitch. I looked back at the body on the table. 'I'll be there, Lizzy,' I said. And I would be - for Frank.
Charles Carpenter, the author of the revered memoir Handcuffed does it again with Colors of Oppression.
The well written narrative explores the anatomy of the often hostile, racially divided prison environment. Charles Carpenter details the social and psychological ramifications of oppression, and describes the wisdom needed to navigate through a microcosm of hatred, racism, deception, and prison politics.
This book highlights various deceitful tactics employed by the correctional officers and inmates, thus giving the general public an unadulterated glimpse into the world within a world - prison.
Colors of Oppression is an educational tool for anyone interested in a career in the field of corrections. This book also raises the awareness level for those interested in analyzing the dynamics of prison life.
A woman in Johannesburg returns home from a trip to Belgium. Her dark blue suitcase is mistaken for an extremely similar suitcase belonging to a man travelling to Botswana. Just before going to bed the woman, Aziza, opens the suitcase to find it is not hers, but sees on top a brown paper package containing a box of chocolates. She knows it is not her suitcase but she cannot resist opening the box and eating a chocolate.
Her body is found the following morning when she does not go to work having died from extreme cyanide poisoning.
The police realize that the suitcase has just come on a flight from London, and they trace the other suitcase, her suitcase, to the man in Botswana who traveled on the same flight as Aziza to Johannesburg. He is naturally concerned as he has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and following a visit to an Ayurveda clinic in Edinburgh has just started on a course of treatment with apricot pits, which contain minute traces of cyanide, and in his briefcase he has a half kilo bags of apricot pits!
The police contact Scotland Yard in London, who realize that there may be some connection with the recent theft of cyanide from an agricultural company in Cambridge, with the cyanide eaten in chocolate by the woman in Johannesburg.
The following joint investigation produces several “Red herrings” principally from the players in a string quartette playing in several locations in the east of England, until eventually it is narrowed down to a family in Lincoln, when they learn who purchased the fatal box of chocolates, and then they find a partial fingerprint on the sealing cellophane. But they still cannot determine a motive for the murder, and their problem is how the fatal box of chocolates managed to get into the man’s suitcase when the cities of Cambridge and Lincoln are one hundred miles apart.
Mystery dinner parties usually require guests to learn parts and risk getting embarrassed by their own bad acting. The worst might happen to a host if a guest assigned an important part simply does not show up. This book offers three different process-of-elimination games designed to be played by 2 – 4 players, 4 – 8 players, or a party of 41 to 57 players. The solution is different each time any of the games is played. Game pieces, game boards, and instructions are included for buyers to copy and print for use at their own party. Have more fun at your next fund-raiser, group pot-luck dinner, or simply play the games with friends and family at home.
Prison, a time in my life that I want to forget. So why am here now after all of these years? Even though the prison has long since gone…..
I remember the fear when I’d been caught, used as a scape goat while the others got away. I thought I was hard, hanging out with the older boys, doing the dirty work for them just so I could be part of the gang. Then when they got away with all of that money, with me as the look out, I didn’t even know they’d left me. There I was caught red handed with that family tied up in the bedroom terrified, and the kids screaming blue murder. I felt so guilty I wanted to cry, but that would have looked weak so I put on a stony face and let the police lead me away.
They never found the rest of them so it was all taken out on me. I didn’t deserve such a harsh sentence but they obviously decided they needed to blame somebody so I would do. I was a wreck, even thought about ending it at one point, probably would have in fact if it hadn’t been for my family. They visited me as often as they could and the fear and sadness I saw in mum’s eyes, the unconditional love that poured out of her even though I was now classed as criminal, saved me. I couldn’t have done that to her she’d have been destroyed so I forced myself to keep going, look to the future when I would eventually walk out of those gates a free man.
I look around now at this peaceful garden and remember when the innocent looking fences were topped with barbed wire, when the gate was fitted with a huge padlock…..and I didn’t have a key. When the dogs on the other side of the fence weren’t pets but angry vicious enemy’s trained to attack at the slightest sign of an attempted escape.
The alarm sensors that picked up the tiniest steps outside of the perimeter fence, screaming shrilly, alerting all. The times I was awakened in the night, with my heart pounding in my chest as I heard guards shouting…..gunfire popping, cries of anguish, then silence.
As I stand here the memories assaulting me, I notice the left over evidence of times gone by. Bullet holes in the fence. The bare soil where no grass grew, because of the constant trailing backwards and forwards of the guard dogs and their handlers.
Looking at this sad and quiet place a memory of the past that haunts me, I can see us now, myself and the other inmates huddled in a group in a corner of the prison yard sharing a sneaky cigarette. Always on the alert in case a warden came along.
I remember the patch of grass where the sun always shone, everyone battling to get to it first so they could soak it up and feel the warmth on their skin before being returned to the cold cells, shut in, locked away.
When I was eventually released and free of the confines of this place I swore I’d never go anywhere near again. I even left the county for a while. But then I heard it had been closed down. Rumour had it the guards were as dodgy as the prisoners and there weren’t enough honest ones to keep it open, how ironic is that?
However I knew the only way that I could believe it no longer existed was to see for myself. Now I have, the fear and weight that has always been on my shoulders is already lifting. I can finally push the memories aside sure in the knowledge that I’ll never have to go through that again. I’ve been on the straight and narrow ever since and I intend to stay that way.
With a sigh of pure relief, I turn my back on this outdoor space, now a place of tranquillity but once hiding so much sadness, and walk away. I’ve laid my demons to rest.
AFRICA. Where corruption often rules and human life can be the most worthless commodity. Read the story of Sierra Leone and its people in this bloody, harrowing, and heart breaking suspense thriller.
This is a work of fiction, except for the parts that really happened.
Vast deposits of diamonds and oil are found in land overlapping both Sierra Leone and Liberia. A scramble ensues to secure the mining and drilling rights of both commodities. Leading the race is the Mining Earth & Ocean Corp. (MEO).
To amass and control this wealth, the creation of an illegal state called Salonga is proposed. The nominated ruler, backed and supported by the MEO, is a former RUF commander - General Icechi Walker, known as 'Body Chop' - a suspected mass murderer involved in countless atrocities.
As the battle for control of the land unravels, stories spread of horrific bloody massacres and mutilations in towns and villages, many of them by child soldiers. The capital, Freetown, is threatened by a full-blown mindless rebellion led by the RUF.
To secure power, Body Chop, with the help of the MEO, engages the protection of a private mercenary army. But control will not be handed to him so easily.
Disgraced, virtually bankrupt, ex-Sgt. Alex Dalloway, is a major part of the mercenary brigade. He has a personal quest to locate the Army officer who tortured him and killed his men years ago in the jungles of Sierra Leone. He begins to suspect the former RUF commander's involvement.
His personal life in shambles, Dalloway and his troop goes against Body Chop and his supporters, to avenge the death of his men and all the innocent lives lost at the hands of the RUF.
A week before Mother died, she told me a story about a conversation she had with her grandmother a week before her grandmother died. Mother looked at me in a way I knew meant that she needed me to really listen and told me the story. This how the story went:
She said, “My grandmother knew she didn’t have long to live from her stage-four breast cancer when she looked at me and asked, ‘What would you like from me when I die to show you that there is more to life once you pass?’ I felt shocked but responded, ‘I would like one of your red flowers to show up the day you die.’”
Mother continued, “A week passed and I went outside to the back patio to water plants and in a pot that had an old tree, a red flower had appeared as red and as perfect as could be, just like the one I had asked my grandmother for. I later found out that my grandmother had passed away around the same time that flower appeared.”
Mother then asked me, “Now, what would you like from me when I die to let you know there is more to life once I am gone?”
I knew my mother had been fighting a rare blood cancer for years, but she often talked about dying so it did not come as a surprise that we were even having this conversation.
I replied, “I want a red flower, too.”
Mother smirked and replied, “You do not even like flowers. You are not a ‘flower-type girl.’ You would like something different — you do like chocolate. I know! Chocolate flowers!” Mother said with a big, proud grin.
I looked at Mother, shocked, and knew there was no way she could arrange chocolate flowers. I just replied, “Sure, that sounds like me all right.” I smiled and looked at her — there she was with such a genuine grin and twinkle in her eyes. I kissed my mother on her forehead and took a long look in to her hazel eyes. I wondered when I would have the next chance to see her and whispered, “I love you.”
Mother didn’t respond. She didn’t look well — she had a tint of green and yellow to her skin and her thinning hair was a dull salt and pepper color, cut extra short and clinging to her scalp. She had no makeup on, which told me she just had no more energy. I began to walk out of her room and turned to look at her. I wanted to run up to her, shake her, and beg her to tell me she loved me and was proud of me. But when I looked at her, she was already sleeping.
A week passed, and I was busy working at my real estate office. One of my office phones rang, which was a surprise because I normally don’t give that number out. I answered it, and it was a man asking for Jori. I told him that I was Jori.
He replied, “I am at your home, and there is no answer. I have a floral delivery for you.”
I told him I was 20 minutes from my home and to leave them on the porch.
He said, “I need your signature.”
I said, “Just sign my name, and I’ll come right home.”
He replied, “I can’t leave them out; it’s a hot day, and they are chocolate flowers. I’ll go see if one of your neighbors are home.”
I hung up the phone and grabbed my purse when that same phone rang again. I answered it, and it was my stepdad. He sounded upset.
I asked, “Did Mom die?”
“Yes.” He sounded shocked.
“I will meet you at your house, Dad.”
I grabbed my purse, my cell phone, and yelled to my coworkers, “My mom just died. I am going to go help my dad!” I got into my silver Honda and drove home. I felt a dumb shock but was anxious to get my chocolate flowers while I wondered how my mother arranged a chocolate floral delivery at the exact time she passed as promised. I arrived home to the note on my door to go to the neighbor on the right. I knocked on the door and a grouchy, older man answered. Without saying a word, he went to his refrigerator, opened i t, and said, “I think these are for you.”
He handed me this large bouquet of fruits all cut like flowers and dipped in chocolate.
“It looks like chocolate flowers,” he said with a grin, adding “I had a few, and they are great.”
I held my delivery. I opened the small envelope and read the card:
I appreciate you showing us homes and although it has been months, I woke up this morning with a thought that we should do something nice for you today. I hope you remember us. The Johnsons.
This was a previous client who is a pastor. He never knew I had a mother who had cancer nor did I ever mention the conversation about the chocolate flowers. It had been several months since I had heard from this couple who were considering purchasing a home. I called the client, whom I hadn’t even spoken to for such a long time. I was confused and wanted to know what made him decide to send me chocolate flowers, and why that day, of all days? He said he woke up and told his wife that they should do something nice for someone. He thought of me. His wife was the one who thought of sending me chocolate flowers.
“Do you believe in God?” I asked Dad when I met with him at home and handed him the chocolate flowers. He was so hungry from being at the hospital with my
mom all day that he hadn’t even thought of eating. He sat and ate the entire bouquet by himself without saying a word. At that moment, I knew that the chocolate flowers were for my dad, and at that time I did not know then what I know now:
Chocolate Flowers “the book” was for me.
Big Mo nodded his head slowly, his eyes rolling. “That’s right, Shooter, me old mucka,” he said. “You’ve finally got it... have a gold star.” He gave a mirthless chuckle, pausing before delivering the punch line with perfect comic timing. “Strange, though, because the way you’ve been acting I can only assume you believe my head buttons up the back.”
Everything was still, silent for a moment, the only sound that of laboured snorts coming from the prisoner, who was trying to clear the blood from his airwaves.
“Wh... what sh’you mean?” Shooter stuttered eventually.
“Ripping me off,” said Mo. “I know what you took away from that Holland Park raid. You owe me a lot more – a couple of grand, I reckon – and it’s a bloody cheek you’ve held out on me after I tipped you off to the opportunity. Don’t you know there’s a recession on? I got a wife and kid to feed, with another on the way. I’m sorry Shooter, truly. You always seemed a loyal soldier and a good mate, but now I’ve got to make an example of you. I can’t afford people thinking I’m a soft touch. Seems no one can be trusted these days. Handsome? Keep hold of him. Cozza, get Reg, would you?”
“Oh shit. No!” pleaded Shooter. “Not Reg. Look, I’ll make it up to you. Pay you extra, if that’s what you want. Do another job especially for you. It wasn’t on purpose, honest, I’d never do that to you, Mo, you know that. I must have miscalculated is all I can think. I’ve always been useless at maths...”
Chuck let out a whimper. He didn’t know what it was all about but he didn’t like seeing his daddy so cross. Big Mo looked at him and winked as if to say, “It’s all right son, none of this is real”. Chuck told himself what he was seeing was a magic trick, the red stuff on Shooter’s face not blood but tomato sauce, like he had at home on his chips.
HOURS later Chuck was in bed, crying himself to sleep. Big Mo told his wife the youngster was overtired. They had popped into the pub after their ‘bit of business’, just to take the edge off things, and Chuck had fallen asleep. Beryl Dolan looked at her husband.
“You’ve made him a part of it, haven’t you?” she said. “I asked you, even begged you, but you couldn’t help it. You had to ‘toughen him up’. I can only guess what you’ve been up to. You took that... thing... with you. I can see the blood. There’s a stain on my carpet and a trail on the tiles in the hall.”
Big Mo looked out from beneath his thick, black, caterpillar eyebrows, pushing his hand wearily through the bristles on his head. He didn’t feel like justifying his actions. It had been a long day. He had done what he had done, and in his mind he had made the right call. A row with the missus was the last thing he needed.
Lifting himself from his favourite armchair, Mo reached over and switched on the television, turning up the volume to dissuade his wife from carrying on with the conversation. A well-dressed man was standing in front of a weather map pointing at various areas of the country, but Mo wasn’t interested.
Bending down slowly, he picked up the three-foot length of wood he had propped beside him on the sofa. Noting the dark stains for the first time, he vowed to rub it down with a hot, damp cloth in the morning to get rid of any ‘evidence’. Shame. To his way of thinking it just added to the character, like when you had a champion conker as a kid and the more messed up it looked, the more scars it had, the more you knew it had done its job. Walking out through the sliding glass-partition doors, he swung the sawn-off curtain pole at his side, the spherical ball on the end reflecting the light. Resting it gently against the wall in the corner of the small parlour room, he patted it affectionately.
“Night, Reg,” he said.
Why read 7 short stories?
7 is a special number for people all over the world. There are 7 days in a week; 7 deadly sins, 7 virtues; 7 colours of the rainbow; 7 Wonders of the Ancient World – and, of course, the 7 year itch!
These 7 stories are special, like the number itself.
Why an extra ½?
We all like a little extra and this extra comes with a bonus.
You get to decide how the last story ends. ‘The Night Before Christmas’ leaves Emily with a choice – and it’s not an easy one! Read her story and go for what you want to happen. Wonder what you’ll decide.
Grimly he shuffled forward a decisive five centimetres. Nothing was ever going to change the world or his place in it. Just one second of courage,then it would be over. He would be over, on his way to the pavement and certain death.
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Spirituality and Beyond
Relax and breathe in slowly. Feel how the body reacts as you inhale and then exhale. Let’s consider this relaxing meditation technique in regards to the dimension of universal energy....More
Prosecco Pink (Franki Amato, #2) by Traci Andrighetti Narrator: Madeline Mrozek Series: Franki Amato Mysteries #1 Published by Gemma Halliday on 02-23-17 Genres: Cozy Mystery
author: Allyson R. Abbott name: Judy average rating: 4.80 book published: rating: 5 read at: 2017/09/20 date added: 2017/09/20 shelves: review: Allyson Abbott's new book