Saturday, October 27, 2007

Powder Burn Flash # 50 - Glenn Gray


Everything seemed pretty damn good. What didn't make sense to Johnny Boy though, until lately, was why this fucking stripper going by the name of Quilt took so long to give him the time of day.

Johnny Boy ratcheted out a front lat spread, his girth filling the mirror on the wall of his studio apartment in Bensonhurst. Wing-span like a goddamn pterodactyl. He held it a minute, started to tremor then relaxed, shook his hands out at his sides.

He adjusted his bulge in the tight knitting of the jockstrap. Yeah, he was still pretty damn solid, even at forty-nine. The abs were rock, still could see the washboard, six little knobs poking through a thin layer of fat. The couple strands of gray hair above the ears you could hardly even notice.

Had he gotten hitched he probably wouldn't have looked so good. He'd have a beer gut and a turkey-waddle chin. Probably get his ass kicked in a bar brawl. And no friggin' way could he be working the door at a titty bar. No way a wife would deal with that shit.

Johnny Boy grunted through sixty close grip push-ups, turned over and did twenty crunches, puffing out hard. He sprung up off the hardwood floor and turned the radio a little louder, getting in the mood for work. The disco beat cranked and he did a goofy dance move, rocking his pelvis. He caught a glimpse of his hairy ass in the mirror and laughed.

He slid into a choreographed posing routine to the beat; a performance that earned him third place in the heavyweight class at the Mr. East Coast eighteen years earlier. He eyed the trophy standing majestically on the top of the television and felt as if he were back on stage. Shredded to the hilt. He still had every move down. Every transition just right, like a goddamn ballet.

He muscled into the black tux, black cummerbund and black bow-tie, pulling and stretching. He stared at the mirror and raked a palmful of gel through the buzz cut.

The fuck could've been wrong with her anyway?

Not seeing the obvious.

A short time later he was in the Trans-Am. The T-tops were off, the cool air massaging his ears and face. He cruised the pot-hole ridden Belt Parkway toward Long Island, the road smoothing out a bit as he merged east onto Sunrise Highway, ending up at the Raven's Nest Tavern in North Bellmore.

He did the rounds of hellos and howyoudoins then planted himself at the door, checking ID cards and shaking hands with the regular assholes. He stood on the top step, way up high just inside the door, leaning on the thick chrome railing. He could see everything from there.

Quilt got in around seven, sporting a workout getup; black spandex pants that showed off her gorgeous bubble-ass, a baggy t-shirt draped over smooth mountains of silicone, a headband and ponytail. And those eyes -- the eyes glared at him, signaled to him as she strutted past.

He could swear she was giving him a secret code lately. Finally seeing it like he did. Like she wanted to marry him when she was done with this stripping gig, finally coming around.

He imagined them living together, nice new apartment, right in Bay Ridge, him cutting squares of fresh cantaloupe in the morning. There'd be awesome views of the Verrazano Bridge -- sun blasting through a huge bay window. She'd grind the coffee beans in her nightie. They'd sit at the kitchen table and eat, go workout, then come home and fuck all afternoon.

Of course, by then he'd have a different job, something other than the strip joint. Quilt wouldn't dance no more. Maybe she'd do interior decorating for some rich clients. He'd do construction or something, a good union job with a solid pension. Straight seven to three.

So tonight, like all the other nights, Johnny Boy watched. Making sure these fucking losers in suits didn't get too close. Grabbing Quilt and trying to cop an ass feel. He watched her work the smoke-filled room, doing it just to make cash, not caring about the parade of gawking sleazebags.

Occasionally, she'd look over and wink. He was sure now they finally had the connection. When she hung upside down off the pole, she glanced over his way and he could see that sexy-as-shit smile. He knew she was dancing for him. It was Johnny Boy's show now, baby.

Their little secret.

So, Johnny Boy thought it a little friggin' weird when he escorted Quilt to her car after work. When she said, "Thanks JB," and he pulled her close for a kiss and she pushed him away. Both her palms on his chest, pushing, Quilt saying, "The fuck you doing?"

What the fuck? He was sure she was keeping up their little game, in case somebody was spying. Sure, that was it. Everyone knew the doormen weren't supposed to bang the dancers -- against club rules.

She smelled so good though.

Just a whiff sent his mind reeling

Johnny Boy thought it was way too much though when she hammered his chest, clenched fists, hitting hard, now kicking him too, saying, "The fuck off, you freak!"

He reined her in, thick fingers circling her tiny neck, just to get better control, making her see the light, the kind of life they had in store -- husband and wife.

The cantaloupe.

The coffee.

She wouldn't listen.

He leaned in, his chest flattening the balloon-like tits.

Johnny Boy thought the knot in his stomach was a cramp, maybe low on potassium or something. The pain was funny though, took his breath. Funny enough that he let go of Quilt and had to step back and sit down on the pebbly blacktop.

And then Quilt saying, "The fuck didn't you just stop. Fucking choking me, asshole."

Johnny Boy looked up at Quilt, her purse hanging open, on a cell phone now, frantically punching in numbers, saying, "Shoulda stopped. Shoulda just stopped."

Johnny Boy then felt the thing protruding from his gut -- a smooth wooden knife handle. It jutted out just above the cummerbund, off the middle, at a little bit of an angle. Sticky warmth spread from its base, soaking the white shirt.

The pain got worse and Johnny Boy had to lie down, his head getting light, thinking of all the dirt and crunched glass that was getting in his hair and on his tux. From the ground, Quilt looked like a giant, the glow from the streetlight behind her head making him squint. He turned his head away and touched the wood handle again, then rubbed his abs, wondering if the washboard would ever be the same.


Glenn Gray is a Radiologist in private practice. His stories have appeared in Thuglit, Blazing Adventures Magazine, DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash, Bewildering Stories, Underground Voices and Out Of The Gutter 3. Reach him at

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Powder Burn Flash # 49 - Patricia J. Hale

Things To Do

-buy potted plants, soy milk, orange juice, eggs, rat poison
-make Steven’s “breakfast”
-get shovel from basement
-locate old sheet (one with blue flowers)
-wait until evening, then unscrew porch light bulb
-dig hole out back
-take “garbage” out to hole
-fill in hole and top with potted plants
-soak sheet to get out grass stains
-wash sheet
-finish ironing

Bio: Patricia J. Hale has had stories published in Flashshot, Flash Pan Alley, and Fictional Musings. She writes because she can’t stop herself. Her husband can’t stop her either. See or reach her at Especially with paying gigs.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Powder Flash Burn # 48 - Christopher Grant


Dex was thinking of Claudia, his wife, when they pulled up to the house. He was thinking about how she was leaving him, not for another guy but for another life. A better one, she told him. He wondered what she would think of what he was doing right now. Dex hadn't had a job in over a year, legit or otherwise. Claudia was right to leave him.

Dex still couldn't get over the fact that Ryan had found this girl, that she was sixteen years old and that she wanted them to rob her parents' house. He couldn't believe that they had a week to do it and he couldn't believe that Ryan wanted to screw this girl and that he didn't understand the concept of statutory rape.

As he opened the door and slammed it shut, he watched the girl come bouncing (literally) from out of the house and jump into Ryan's arms, pushing his hair out of his face and french kissing him. Dex just rolled his eyes.

She grabbed Ryan by the hand and led them through the doorway and into a small foyer and then into the living room which was illuminated softly. A fire was going in the fireplace and that's when Dex saw them. The portraits.

There were dozens of them and Dex immediately thought them all unnecessary. And yet, he stood there, transfixed by the one above the fireplace. It was a man and a woman and a street scene behind them. They were oblivious to everything going on around them, enjoying this moment with each other.

For the second time, Dex thought about Claudia. Was it too late to stop her?

The girl led the both of them through the dining room, pointing to where the silverwear was and telling them that the vases on the upper shelf of the china cabinet were priceless. Through an arched doorway, they were now in the kitchen. She hopped up onto the counter, pulling a drawer open once she was seated. She swung her legs back and forth and told them to look inside the drawer.

A metal box sat in the center of the drawer, a keyhole on top of it.

She reached inside the collar of her shirt and produced a key on a chain. She took it off her neck, handed the chain to Dex. She told him to open the box. He fit the key, turned it and the box emitted a click noise. Ryan lifted the top and smiled at what he found inside.

Ryan lifted his hand and with it came a Rolex, a necklace and a pair of earrings. The girl told them that they were 24 Karat, probably worth a couple thousand dollars. Dex didn't know from gold and had no idea if what she said was true or not.

She opened a couple other drawers and the key Dex held opened the boxes inside, too, finding cash, finding jewels. The girl told him that there were furs upstairs, that there were suits that would look good on the both of them. She licked her lips in Ryan's direction.

Dex went back to the living room and his gaze fell once again upon the painting over the fireplace. He barely noticed when the girl and Ryan came tearing out of the kitchen and ran upstairs. He didn't want to know what was going to happen, though he had a good idea. He rolled his eyes for the second time this night.

Dex headed back for the kitchen and took a handful of cash and a handful of jewels. Again, he thought about Claudia. Would this do the trick? Could he keep her with this pile of cash and these stones? He heard a thump from the ceiling and he just shook his head. Two more thumps and he ran for the stairs. Ryan just didn't get it.

Dex opened the first door he came to and found nothingness. He reached around the side of the doorway and found the light switch on the side and found nothingness in the light.

He continued down the hallway, throwing open doors and finding nothing until finally, he found her. She was half-naked, her teenaged breasts uncovered. She was crying and Dex tried not to look at her. He asked where Ryan was and she gulped and looked at the side of the bed. Her shirt was on the floor, bloody and under Ryan's head. Ryan was staring at the ceiling. He had a hole in the middle of his forehead.

The girl sobbed uncontrollably and Dex asked her what happened. She mumbled that she didn't think it would go this far, that Ryan had shoved his hands up her shirt and down her shorts and that she had grabbed a gun and shot him in the head.

Dex felt this was going to be the dumbest thing he'd ever done. He grabbed the cash in his own pockets, grabbed the jewels and started to stuff them in Ryan's pockets. As he did this, he told the girl to go put a shirt on. Don't shower, he cautioned her. Call your parents, get them home now. Call the cops, get them here now.

Dex stood as he finished his task and was happy to see she had followed his orders about putting a new shirt on. She had her cell phone in her hand and was starting to dial. Dex told her again what she should tell her parents, tell the cops. She had taken a shower and was getting ready for bed when a man opened the door on her bedroom. He attacked her, she got away, got a gun and shot him.

Dex started to leave and she grabbed his arm, stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. Not the french kiss she'd given Ryan a little while ago. A kiss that said thank you for saving me.

And he left.

BIO: Christopher Grant is a writer of all kinds of fiction, not the least of which is the kind your reading right now, crime fiction. His blog is The-Not-So-Quiet American, where you can find links to other stories as well as his take on various other issues.