Monday, July 28, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 98 - Michael A. Kechula


My thoughts of murdering Holly Spencer were interrupted by rowdy Skinheads, who plowed through Manhattan’s rush-hour crowds. One of them elbowed me in the ribs. He grinned when he saw me doubled up in pain. Enraged, I reached inside my gym bag to grab the silenced pistol. He slipped into the crowd before I could blow his brains out.

Rubbing my aching ribs, I headed up 42nd Street toward the movie theater where Holly worked. I paid a private detective plenty to find her. He said she sold tickets in one of those outdoor ticket booths, and took lunch at 11:30.

I figured I’d shoot her in the face, right through the ticket window. But there were too many people around. So, I decided to follow her at lunchtime and shoot her as she pushed food through her lying, thieving lips. Maybe I’d wound her in the stomach, so she’d suffer every day for the rest of her life. What a great way to get satisfying, never-ending revenge. It’d be like a royalty arrangement—do a piece of work once, and cash in on it for years.

I ducked behind a store window that gave a clear view of the ticket booth. My trigger finger twitched when I glimpsed Holly’s profile. The bitch stole $50,000 from me. Money I skimmed dealing blackjack for an illegal gambling operation. Being my fiancĂ©e, she knew where I stashed the money. The day before our wedding, she dug it up and disappeared.

Somebody arrived to relieve Holly for lunch. She left the booth and headed in my direction. Suddenly my plans collapsed. Thieving Holly was sharp enough to bilk me out of fifty grand, but not swift enough to avoid pregnancy. Dammit! I never figured on shooting a pregnant woman.

She waddled by in a puffy, sunflower covered, electric-blue dress that stuck out a mile. My gut urged me to forget her and go back to Dallas. Instead, I decided to confront her.

She entered an eatery, with me not far behind. It was a noisy, greasy dump, filled with down-and-outers. The electric dress was at a small table, way in the back. My stomach was in knots when I reached her table.

"Oh My God! Ed!” Her eyes bulged, her hands shook.

“Take it easy. I just wanna talk.”

She grabbed her stomach and yelled, “Ow! My baby!”

People looked our way. A waitress rushed over. "Are you all right, lady?"

“It hurts so bad. I feel like I’m gonna heave!”

“I’ll help you to the ladies room,” the waitress said.

Holly groaned loudly, as the waitress led her away.

Sonovabitch! How slick to pull that stunt. I wondered what she was telling the waitress. Maybe she’d lie and say I was threatening her. They might call the cops.

I rushed out, headed for the subway, and barely squeezed through the doors of a departing train.

As it sped through dark catacombs, I wondered what to do next. My plan had failed miserably. Holly was alive. She hadn’t even apologized, or asked forgiveness. I imagined her laughing her ass off and calling me a freakin’ loser.

I swore I’d get revenge, one way or another. Maybe I could dream up some dirty tricks to sting her, undermine her sense of security, erode her sanity.

I started to plan something rotten to pull on her. I didn’t get far—my intense, focused thoughts gave way to disconnected fantasies, as the repetitive clacking of the train’s wheels lulled my brain.

“Coney Island—last stop.” somebody said, jolting me awake.

“How do I get back to Manhattan?” I asked.

“Stay on this train.”

New passengers boarded. One was a mangy Skinhead with a swastika tattooed on his forehead. Sonovabitch! My grandpa died during World War Two ridding the world of Nazis.

Homicidal rage slammed my gut.

The Skinhead tried to panhandle a woman. She shooed him away. So did others. Then he asked me if I could spare a buck. I snickered when I realized fate had sent me a booby prize.

“I don’t give money away. But, if you’re hungry, I’m good for a burger and fries.”

“Yeah, I’m hungry. I ain’t et all day.”

“Where’s the nearest burger place?”

“Next stop.”

As the train sped toward our exit, I scribbled a few words in my little notebook, tore out the page, and stuck it in my pocket.

“This country’s turning into a third world shithouse,” Skinhead said, his mouth full of greasy fries. “Only the Master Race can save it. This is who should be running this country.” He tapped a photo of Adolf Hitler in his wallet. “He’d seal the borders, fire up the ovens, and get rid of all the mongrel vermin.”

I couldn’t stand much more of his looniness. I wanted to get him alone somewhere.

“I got some good desert,” I said. “Columbian Gold.”

“Yeah? Let’s go out back and smoke it.”

As he puffed away behind a dumpster, he asked if I wanted to join the Nazi Vengeance Brotherhood.

I answered him by firing one round into his chest and another into his head. Then I removed the slip of paper from my pocket, and stuffed it in his wallet behind Hitler’s picture.

I combed the morning papers for news about Skinhead, but found nothing. Maybe the cops killed the story. I wondered if they hit the panic button after reading the note I’d planted in Skinhead’s wallet.

A bit of disinformation can go a long way in New York these days, if the right words are used: ANTHRAX IN PLAYGROUNDS. BEN LADEN. NEW YORK CONTACT IS HOLLY SPENCER.

“Welcome to the world of dirty tricks, Holly,” I mumbled.

The End

BIO: Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in seven contests and second and third place in five others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 107 magazines and anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at and Paperback available at

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 97 - Sean Monaghan

Long Jump

Janice jumped at the sound. She lowered her key. Someone was inside the apartment. She stepped back from the door and reached into her shoulder bag for her phone.

Another thump, closer to the door this time. Someone inside throwing her stuff around.

Janice tapped the menu, called Alex. As it rang she went to the stairs, looked down towards his apartment.

‘Hey,’ Alex said.

‘Are you at home?’ she whispered.

'Sure. Sopranos marathon on-’

‘Get up here now.’

‘Why are you whisperi-’

‘Now. Someone’s in my place.’ She heard another thump, then something breaking. Mom’s bowl, she thought, imagining the carnival glass splintering across the tiles.

‘On my way,’ Alex said.

She heard his door open, then he was running up, still in his TV clothes, beer in one hand, phone in the other, Pringles crumbs on his sweater. He was nothing like the old days when they were doing track together, but it was good to have him close.

‘Okay,’ he said, puffing a little. ‘What’s up?’

‘Listen,’ she whispered.

But there was nothing. After a moment, Alex raised his eyebrows, widened his eyes, tilted his head. ‘And?’

‘Wait.’ Janice stepped closer to the door. Still nothing.

‘Fire escape?’ Alex said.

Janice grabbed her key and leapt at the door. A click and it was open. Glass on the floor from her trophy cabinet. She ran along the passage to the living room. Someone was there trying to get out the window. Wraparound sunglasses, hoodie, trackpants.


He looked up.

‘What the hell do you think-’

He sprinted at her. Straight at her.

Janice sidestepped and the intruder collided with Alex. Both of them tumbled to the floor. The man kicked at Alex and scrambled to his feet. Then he was heading down the passage to the door.

‘Alex?’ She went to him.

‘I’m okay.’ He started to get up. ‘Don’t let him get away.’

Janice dropped her bag and ran after the intruder. She realised that there was something missing from the cabinet as she flew past. Why the hell would anyone want to steal her old trophies. Gold plating worth fifty cents?

Mrs Hudson and her latest suitor were on the stairs just below the landing and the man had to head up. Janice followed.

‘Miss Echelle?’ Mrs Hudson called after her.

‘It’s under control Mrs Hudson,’ she called back.

‘Oh good dear.’

The man was fast, taking the stairs two and three at a time. Where was he going? Another apartment? It was five floors to the roof and the door was permanently jimmied. Surely he wouldn’t go to the roof. Where could he go from there?

She came around a landing and saw him standing on the next landing up, facing her. Something hit her chest and knocked her back. She stumbled and fell against an apartment door and he was gone, still running up.

On the floor one of her trophies, Louisville trials 1996, triple-jump, second place. He’d thrown it at her and now it was broken, the base snapped off at the gold-athlete’s legs.

She stared for a moment, then went after him again. Steps three, four at a time. Swinging around the balustrades, using her momentum on the landings to push herself on up. Four steps, push, four steps, three steps, landing swing around. Four steps. She got her rhythm. She could hear him pounding on the stairs above. Two more levels to the roof.

‘Get back here,’ she yelled.

‘Leave me alone,’ he shouted back’ A few more thumps, then she heard the door to the roof get kicked open.

Swing, four steps, four steps, three, swing, four, four, three and she was at the door.

She jumped out onto the gravel, saw his blur as he went over the side to the next building. She kept moving. The building was one storey lower and she dropped almost right behind him. She grabbed the hoodie, and he looked at her, glasses lost. Just a kid, fifteen or sixteen. He rolled away from her. Sprinting again.

Janice smiled. No next building, just the 21st street alley. Nowhere to go.

But he was still running. Still running. She followed, slower now. He kept going. Kept going. Jumped.

Janice ran again as he vanished from sight. The alley was narrow here, and the building across the street even lower, but he wouldn’t make it.

She came to the edge and looked out. Not dead. Hanging on to lip of the building over twenty feet away. One of his hands came away and he swung, feet scrambling again.

Janice turned back and focused on a mark. Turned at the mark and breathed. She ducked her head and pounded across the asphalt. Three, two, one and she put her foot right on the edge. Out and over. Spinning to grab as much air as she could. A car beneath, a siren in the distance. Lights in her eyes from the apartments. Out and out and over.

She came down on the roof. He foot slid out and she tumbled, rolled against an aircon fan.

To her feet and two quick steps and she grabbed his wrist. His other arm came up and she pulled him onto the roof. They sat together breathing. He was crying and he looked so young and small.

‘I dropped your trophies,’ he said. ‘Down there.’

Janice smiled a little, looking back across the alley. ‘Yeah, well. I’ll have to measure it, but I think that was my personal best.’

Copyright 2008 by Sean Monaghan

BIO: Sean Monaghan is a New Zealand writer who also tutors in creative writing, makes music and art and works in a busy public library. Sean’s affair with short stories is long, his first published story came out way back in 1987, with recent flash fiction stories on and More info about Sean and his writing is at his website

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Powder Flash Burn # 96 - Kieran Shea


The night Hurricane Chino made landfall, Stu Mason took forty feet of barbed wire and lashed Linda Cox to a Cypress tree.

Stu picked up Linda at the bar attached to DG’s Liquor Mart, a shit-colored concrete bunker about forty miles southeast of Olustee. Linda was bombed beyond repair and coming off a bad relationship with a Disney cruise puppeteer named Cal. So Stu made nice. He complimented her on her homemade jewelry, eyes, and bought her a trio of rocked, fizzed gins.

“I like you,” Linda slurred as her hand crept like a shaky creature up Stu’s thigh, “But I'm not so drunk or crazy to be messin’ with nobody just yet. I'm still tender inside, know what I mean?”

Later in the parking lot Stu sped things up with a sinker-filled sock. Actually he marveled at how simple it was this time around. Florida bar flies having their half-hearted hurricane party, the storm providing good cover for him taking Linda out clean. Didn’t hear jack shit. Fluke luck that.

In the front seat of his pick-up Stu caressed the puffy, belly flab that mushroomed out and over Linda’s unsnapped jeans. His groin itched and thickened, so Stu swallowed hard, fired the engine of his F-150, and tried to focus on the rain-hammered road.

Johnny Cash sang “Guess Things Happen That Way” as he plowed northwest across the state, the bands of Chino rocking his Ford from side to side as he struggled to stay between the lines. Weather Channel had said Category 3 back at the bar. Not as bad as Andrew or catastrophic as Katrina, but sure as hell a lollipop swirl of motherfucking doom.

The spot Stu picked out was at the bottom of Marion County, two hundred swamp acres off a sandy two track where a golf developer went tits up the year before. Stu knew it would be some time before anyone came looking back there. The wind screamed as he dragged Linda from the cab and worked the barbed wire around her tight with a pair of slip-joint pliers.

Once finished, Stu peered into the rain slashed dark. Probably take her feet first, he thought. Gators always lay low in weather like this.

Stu went back to his truck to get his digital camera.


Eight months later, Deputy Sheriff Walter Gates knocked on Stu Mason’s trailer.

Gates was conducting a routine follow up. Some old lady claimed Stu or someone with a black F-150 like his had clipped her van while leaving a Stuckey’s parking lot out near Lake Butler.

No answer from within prompted a quick peek through an adjacent window. A set of hairy bare feet forked in the hallway. Gates removed his sidearm and identified himself twice. He then slowly pulled open the trailer’s door.

Place was a wreck. Not from a struggle, but just from degenerate, white trash living. Above the dish-choked sink a couple of freaked out crickets bashed themselves to death against a rusty screen trying to escape.

Gates crept closer to the body. The stench of rum sweat, cigarettes, and sour garbage was prime in the Florida heat. Then Gates heard Stu Mason’s faint snore and he was relieved.

Mason’s jeans were wet with a long, dark patch that led from his crotch and halfway down his thigh. Christ. Dumb bastard must’ve passed out drunk and pissed himself. Gates holstered his gun, hitched up his belt, and went over to the sink. He ran some tap water into a faded plastic tumbler and spat with disgust. Man, this shit was getting old. Serving papers to welfare dads, giving bad news to car wreck victims’ families, shaking kids down all sparked up without a dime to their names, grunt work and then some. Not what he envisioned as an exciting career in law enforcement.

Gates was about to pour out the tumbler of water on Stu Mason’s forehead when he saw a laptop open on the kitchenette table. The computer was coal black and looked worse for wear, its keyboard flecked with flakes of ash. The screen-saver was hot and displayed a simulated lake bottom complete with fat bass, abandoned tires, and an oil drum with a leering toxic skull.

Half expecting some hardcore smut, Gates ran a damp fingertip on the touch pad. He nearly gasped out loud when dozens of tortured images of three unsolved homicides bloomed before his eyes. He knew about these women. Each body had been half eaten by alligators, rats, and assorted swamp feeders.

Quietly Gates snuck back out to his cruiser. He plucked up the radio mic from the dash thinking, sweet Jesus… and me just here just to check some pissant traffic complaint. Man oh man. Handle this right and I'm going places.

Fluke luck that.

BIO: Kieran Shea believes the quality of mercy is strain'd so you best back the fuck up, Portia . His short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Word Riot, Dogmatika, Pulp Pusher, Plots with Guns, and upcoming in both Demolition and Thrilling Detective.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 95 - Michael A. Kechula


“How much was in the safe, Honey?” Ann asked, while cleaning her pistol.

“Fifty thousand,” said Alex.

“No way!”

“It’s true,” he said. “Not only that. Look what I found in the safe.” He tossed a clump of papers on the motel bed.

“What’s this?”

“A plan for a coin shop heist. It’s supposed to happen in two days. That’s why so much money was in the safe. Probably pay for the driver, and whatever.”

“Oh Hell!” Ann yelled. “You musta robbed mob money. I don’t want my share.”

“But with this you can get that fur coat and diamond tennis bracelet you want so much. Well, that means more for me,” Alex said.

“Yeah. More bullets for you when they find out.”

“How the hell will they find out?” he asked. “We’re unknowns around here. Listen, I stopped for coffee and read the plan. It’s pure genius. Somebody’s gonna hit a coin shop that’s loaded with gold and silver ingots without serial numbers. So, I got a brilliant idea.”

“Like what?”

“We’ll use their plan and pull the robbery before they do.”

“Wait,” she said. “We’re talking heavy stuff here. You rob the safe of a company---probably one of the mob’s legit operations. You get fifty thou, plus a plan for a heist. Bad enough you took their cash, but you also took their plan. Wake up! We’re talking mob, here. They’ll go ballistic. They’ll turn this city upside down looking for us.”

“Let them. We’ll be in Mexico on our honeymoon.” He grabbed her and kissed her hard.

“I love you so much, Alex,” she said. “You know how protective I am about you. Listen to me. I got a bad feeling about this. Please…for me…for the sake of our future life together…take it all back. We got enough to live on for six months.”

“Are you crazy? You want me to go there, open the safe and put everything back?”

“Yeah. Right now.”

“You going soft on me, Love?”

“No way,” she said. “There’s plenty of other jobs to pull. Forget this one. Listen to what I’m saying.”

“Are you having one of your intuitions?”

“Yeah. It’s a bad one. Take it back. Real quick.”

Alex trusted Ann’s intuition. It’d gotten them out of a few pickles over the past few months. Without another word, he dropped everything into a black laundry bag, kissed her passionately, and left.

Intuition or no, Alex really hated to see a good plan go to waste. Why should somebody else get all them gold and silver ingots? Charlie in Fresno can melt them and cast them into palm-sized bars. They’ll be easy to sell. Plus we can use the extra money now that we’re gonna get married. I wanna get her that beautiful wedding band she likes so much.

Passing Kinko’s copy shop, he was struck with an idea.

* * *

Alex woke Ann. “Look, Sweetie. I copied the plan. Now there’s no link between the plan and us. So there’s nothing to worry about. We can pull the job tonight. And then we’ll head to Mexico and get married.”

Throwing her arms around him, she said, “I’m gonna marry the most brilliant crook in the whole world.”

She didn’t tell him her intuition nagged even worse.

They spent a few hours studying the plan. At noon, they drove downtown to check out the coin shop. Alex occupied the owner by buying a silver commemorative coin, while Ann looked the place over.

“It’s just like the drawings in the plan,” she said. “You were right. That plan is dynamite.”

“We’ll hit it at midnight,” Alex said.

* * *

“Rise and shine, Honey,” she said. “It’s time to get those sweet ingots.”

On the way to the coin shop, a dozen fire engines raced by.

“Wow. Must be a huge one,” Alex said.

Street barriers blocked them several blocks from the coin shop.

“What’s going on, Officer?” Alex asked.

“Whole block’s on fire.”

“Oh God, my uncle’s coin shop is up that way,” Ann said with faked alarm.

“That’s toast, along with a bunch of other stores,” the cop said.

“Sonovabitch!” Alex yelled as he turned the car toward the Interstate. “Talk about rotten luck. We get a chance to make a real killing, and this happens. It just ain’t right. I had fifty grand in my hands before you made me take it back. Now we got nothing for all that work.”

“Fate,” she said. “It wasn’t meant to be. Let’s leave for Mexico right now. Please.”

As they drove toward the border, Alex tuned the radio to a news station.

A newscaster was interviewing the Police Chief.

“We think it started in a coin dealer’s shop,” the Chief said. “The arsonist used a Molotov cocktail. That’s why the fire spread so fast. Right now, three people are dead, including a fireman who has a wife and four kids. And the fire isn’t out yet.”

“Hear that?” Alex asked.

“Yeah. Tough break”

“What’s that up ahead?”

“Looks like a roadblock,” she answered. “Must be a hundred cop cars.”

“No sweat. They ain’t got nothing on us,” Alex said, as they approached the barriers.

Suddenly, cops brandishing pistols ordered them out of the car.

“What the hell is this?” Alex yelled.

“You’re under arrest for suspicion of arson and murder.”

“You’re making a big mistake. I’m gonna sue you for false arrest!”

“We have a witness. He wrote down your license plate. You have the right to remain silent…”

* * *

While cyanide gas filled the chamber, Ann wished she’d never gone to the coin store an hour before they were supposed to rob it.

“I didn’t have a choice,” she muttered in the rising fog. “I hadda do it so we could get married and have children.”

Drawing her last breath, she screamed, “If I didn’t burn it down, we woulda got killed during the robbery!”

The End

BIO: Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer. His fiction has won first place in seven contests and second and third place in five others. He’s also won Editor’s Choice awards four times. His stories have been published by 107 magazines and anthologies in Australia, Canada, England, and US. He’s authored a book of flash and micro-fiction stories: “A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales.” eBook available at and Paperback available at

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 94 - Paul McGoran

The Lesser Evil

They took Harold down, blindfolded him, trussed him up from behind and tossed him in the car. He fainted. When he woke up, he lay face down in the dirt listening to a ragged squeal of car tires fading away.

Alone now. Highway noise. Must be the woods outside of town, close to the interstate. But why? Was it Chaz, the thug he hired to get rid of his wife Carmella? How could this happen?

Time passed. The smell of dirt and leaves filled his nostrils. Pain radiated from his neck clear down his arms. Finally, a car pulled in – twigs, branches and gravel popping beneath the tires.

With the blindfold pulled away, Harold looked up and saw the cynical smirk on Chaz’s hard face.

“Think it’s funny?” he sputtered. “You gotta be a freakin’ idiot to screw things up this bad. Now cut me loose.”

“Can it, shithead,” Chaz said. “Somebody wants to talk to you.”

The passenger side door of the car opened, and a long, tanned leg descended to the ground. Carmella! She picked her way over the littered ground and stood looking down at him while Chaz took a tightly coiled blanket out of the trunk and rolled it out to the side of the car.

“Thanks for bringing Chaz to town, Harold,” she said. “That was real thoughtful of you. We haven’t seen each other in ages.”

“Wha …?”

“Never told ya I had a brother, did I, honey? I used to be ashamed he was a mob guy.”

While she spoke, Carmella rummaged through her handbag. Finally, she pulled out a little gun. Just then Harold noticed a glint of sunlight playing over the butcher tools Chaz was arranging on the blanket.

“The gun!” Harold begged. “First, the gun.”

BIO: Paul McGoran lives in Newport, Rhode Island. In his life before fiction, he was a Russian interpreter for the U.S. Navy, a career marketing executive and a management consultant. He began writing crime fiction in 2005 and can't seem to stop. He has written two novels and a collection of shorter fiction -- all, alas, unpublished. Look for a short story of his called The Thanks You Get on the U.K. webzine Pulppusher.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 93 - Cormac Brown

Poker Face

Well, there are curveballs and there are curveballs. And this? This is like the other seven guys on the playing field have decided that they want to pitch too…

…All at once.

…While the catcher is tying the batter’s shoelaces together.

“This was supposed to be easy pickings,” Pratt curses. He knew from the other kids that went to the same privileged high school as he did, that almost half of this neighborhood was spending Christmas vacation in Tahoe and the other half was in Hawaii . Pratt guessed that nobody explained that to the man of this house, Dougray Hiatt, that he should be some 2,300 miles away in Kauai .

Why just a minute ago, Pratt was just mulling throwing a party in what he believed to be an empty house and now he is cursing himself for not checking first or even bothering to have a mask on. He knows that his partner John won’t care either way, which is bound to make this tenuous situation even worse.

“You’re supposed to be in Hawaii ” Pratt says out loud. “Because we wouldn’t be here or at least we would be wearing masks” he finishes in his head. His partner John comes into the room holding a laptop inside a gray Tumi bag and is just as startled as Pratt was seconds ago to find someone home.

There Dougray is, sitting in the combination computer and exercise room that was formerly the bedroom of his eldest daughter, Deborah, who was currently in college, but was now in Kauai with his youngest daughter, Dana. He was sitting the same spot some eleven hours ago, but something work-related came up and he had to cut short his vacation. He had four files out on his desk and until Pratt’s intrusion, he was typing away on his desktop computer.

Pratt is trying to figure out just what the fuck is this guy doing at home and why didn’t he heard them come in. The burglar alarm’s chime made an awful racket throughout the two times it took Pratt to disarm it, because he was so nervous, that he momentarily forgot the code. He knew the code well enough; he spent many a night spying on Deborah to have seen it. Then Pratt hears the washing machine and realizes that Dougray probably was putting a load in and didn’t hear them enter.

And when Deborah moved out for college, Pratt’s eyes moved onto Dana as she worked out in this very room, five days a week. He couldn’t help but overhear about the Kauai trip, because Dana’s friends called her about it every three minutes, cutting short her dance routine and his fun. Now Pratt’s fun is cut short again, with a complication that seems completely nonplussed at the fact that he and John are standing in his house at three in the morning.

The silence between them and Dougray’s cool exterior get to John. He thrusts his chest out and pulls his shirt up, exposing the cheap Glock knockoff that was in his waistband of his baggy jeans.

Dougray responds by merely sitting at his desk with a face that any poker champion wishes they could own. He doesn’t seem scared or particularly perturbed; he isn’t happy or grim-faced. As a matter of fact, he is just sitting there with his lips slightly clenched.

Pratt looks over in askance to John as to what should be their next move, and John answers back with a scowl. Pratt winces as John reaches under his shirt with a snarl and pulls the nine millimeter out. Pratt almost pulls his gun out too, but he doesn’t like the math behind this. He wants to run away, but he stands his ground and resigns himself to the fact that nothing good will come of this. Yet Dougray just sits there, blinking every so often.

Pratt wonders if this is just a case of Dougray being as scared as he is and that Dougray is simply too damn scared to move. Finally, Dougray’s nose twitches and a nervous John almost pulls his trigger. His nose twitches again and Dougray takes a few, long, large gasps.


Dougray sneezes hard and his dentures flew across the room, where they land inches away from John’s feet. John and Pratt both look down at the displaced false teeth and that’s when John flies backward into the wall with a crimson hole in his chest. Wide-eyed, Pratt looks at the last bit of life escaping John and turns around to see a still-seated Dougray. He had the same poker face, but it looks pathetic without any front teeth.

A small wisp of smoke escapes the barrel of the silver-plated hand cannon that Dougray has pointed at John and the last thing that John sees is that cannon roaring again.

Dougray shakes his head and thinks, there are sticky wickets and then there are sticky wickets. And this?

This is like the other nine fielders have decided that they want to be bowlers too…

…All at the same time.

…While the wicket-keeper bites your ankles.

Here he is a hit man of nearly thirty years of experience and he has let two amateur burglars get the drop on him as if he still was wet behind the ears. He has to be in Tahoe within the hour to take out somebody that is in the witness protection, before the mark moves to another safe house, and now? He has two bodies in his own house to contend with.

Well, he’ll have to tarp them and leave them in the garage; the paying job always takes precedence.

The End

BIO: "Cormac Brown" is my pen name. I'm an up-and-slumming writer in the city of Saint Francis, and I'm following in the footsteps of Hammett...minus the TB and working for the Pinkerton Agency. A couple of stories that I've stapled and stitched together can be found at

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 92 - Keith Rawson


“Ya know he’s gonna kill you, right?”

“Shut up! Let me think a couple of minute, would ya?”

“What were you thinking when you and your asshole buddies came in there with your funny little masks and waving your big bad guns around?”

We were thinking that robbing a mall jewelry store would be an easy score. Four guys in dead President’s masks packing shotguns; we thought everyone in a quarter mile radius would hit the tiles and squirt their panties and we’d walk away with fifty or sixty thousand dollars worth of swag. We thought it would be a lot easier than the Mexican drug dealers we’d been ripping off for the past couple of months; yeah it was a shit load of fun busting down the front door of some beaner crack dealer and watching the taco benders scurry around thinking our crew was Border patrol getting ready to haul their dirty asses back down south. That shit was hilarious, and the scores weren’t that bad either, but it attracted the wrong kind of attention. Dealers didn’t report you to the cops, they gave you up to their distributors; the distributors were harder than hardcore who had no problem torturing you 2 or 3 days before putting a bullet in your head and dumping your dead ass out in the middle of the desert. The Mexican suppliers didn’t even care if the head of your crew was the son of the craziest crime czar in Arizona.

“What did your Dad tell you? He said lay low! He said don’t make any moves!”

“What he meant was to stop hitting the Mexicans.”

“Bullshit! He meant everything, Roger!”

Roger Raines led the crew. He was the only son of Clyde Raines. The senior Raines has been a prominent villain in Arizona for the past 20 years. He made his bones back in the day when the Italians were still trying to run things and the Indians and the Mormons were chopping the Wops into little bitty pieces. The senior Raines was fortunate enough to be there and have enough muscle and brains to carve out his own little empire. Clyde Raines was the last great white man in Arizona, and his son, Roger, was the great big hope with a capital H to continue the empire. The problem is that I’m pretty sure that Roger is mildly retarded and 100% insane. The only reason I’ve stuck it out with his dumb ass so long was the drugs, and after today, I’m starting to think it was a pretty lame reason to hang around with the kid.

“And what the fuck were you doing holding up my job?”

“I forgot you worked there!”

“You forgot? I’ve worked there for 15 years, Roger! I used to take you there when you were in diapers!”

The woman lecturing Roger is his Aunt Sarah. Normally she’s sweet as pie. She helped raise Roger and was as close to a mother as he had. She’d been working in the same branch of London Gold, like, forever, even though she didn’t have to work because of her little brother’s illicit businesses. But ever since I’ve known Roger, she’s been lecturing him, me, and anyone else around to hear her that you need to create your own success, your own place in the world. Roger took her philosophy to heart and decided to make Aunt Sarah’s little place in the world his own—at least for 3 minutes of bloodshed and hostage taking.

Despite what the little retard is saying, I’m pretty sure the kid knew walking in that we were boosting Aunt Sarah’s store. He was probably thinking that Aunt Sarah would recognize him—despite the fact that he was wearing a Ronald Reagan mask--when the four of us walked in and she’d just start shoveling merchandise into our pockets with a big, proud shit eating grin on her face and the rest of the staff and security would take the hint and play along nice.


We came in hard and face-to-face with two security guards packing MAJOR firepower. Within a minute and a half of walking into the store front, two of our crew were sporting sucking chest wounds, one of the guards looked like Dick Chaney’s best friend after hunting quail, two clerks minus heads, and Roger had his Sig Saur pressed hard into Aunt Sarah’s temple giggling like a kiddy fiddler in a locked room full of toddlers.

We booked out of there dragging Aunt Sarah by the neck. I thought for sure the Mall parking lot would be the last sight of the living world I’d ever lay eyes on; at the very least I thought there’d be sirens and a couple of dozen cops ready to drop us.


Nothing but blue burning summer sky and row upon row of mini-vans; but you could hear them coming. The distant sirens, the whoop-whoop of low flying helicopter blades. We jacked a retired couple’s Oldsmobile and burned it out of the lot, Aunt Sarah begging for her life; that is until we ditched the masks and then she started beating the shit out us. We lost the stolen wheels a few miles away from my folk’s place and switched over to Roger’s Lexus and drove back to my place to get our shit together.

Roger’s been pacing the kitchen the past hour, his Sig pressed tight against his hip, listening to Aunt Sarah nag and bitch about what a fucking idiot he is. I can’t help but agree, but even she’s starting to get on my nerves.

I zone, smoke a joint, I let my ears and brain check out, eyes down and focused on the off-white kitchen tiles. I barely flinch with the roar of the Sig. I look up, suck in a big lung full of cordite, and I see Aunt Sarah standing in the middle of the kitchen with what’s left of her head looking like the messiest taco ever made. The body drops limp and soundless.

“What the fuck did you do?” I know I say it, but I can’t hear the words.

“I didn’t do shit,” the Sig is right in my face; right there, the barrel’s hot. “You did.”


The drugs definitely weren’t worth it.

BIO: Keith Rawson lives in the Phoenix, Az. suburb of Gilbert with his wife, daughter, and dog. He works as an Education counselor and has been writing off and on for the past fifteen years. He love crime fiction and other such degenerate literature.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 91 - Dana C. Kabel

Fucked and Finished

McTeague jammed the barrel of the snub nosed .38 into Ferret’s mouth and shattered several of his teeth.

“Where’s my daughter?” He shouted.

Ferret mumbled something desperate and unintelligible.

McTeague pulled the gun out of the scrawny man’s mouth and pressed it against his temple before pulling back the hammer. A gob of blood and teeth shards drizzled down Ferret’s chin and the front of his pants grew dark as he pissed himself.

“Jesus Christ, Mac! Are you out of your head?” Billy jumped out from behind the bar and ran to the front door.

McTeague swung the gun around and aimed it at the bartender.

“The fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“Relax!” Billy said. He turned the bolt on the door and flipped the sign to “CLOSED” before pulling the shade down behind it. In his head he thanked Christ that there were no other customers left in the bar.

Ferret started to wiggle and the gun pressed into his skull.

“Talk, you toothless fuck!” McTeague growled.

“You fucking idiot! I’m a cop.” Ferret said.

McTeague put his mouth close to Ferret’s ear. “I know. You’re the reason I spent the last five years in the can, you fuck!”

Then he bit down on Ferret’s ear and tore a mouthful of it away. Ferret screamed like a banshee as McTeague spit the piece of fleshy cartilage out on the floor.

“Whiskey!” McTeague barked at the bartender.

Billy reached behind the bar and handed him a bottle of Jack.

He took a swig to rinse his mouth out and another to swallow down. Then he tipped the bottle up and splashed a generous amount of the fiery liquid over the bloody mess on the side of Ferret’s head. The wounded man screamed louder.

McTeague repeatedly slapped the side of the man’s head where his ear used to be until his screams turned into tired whimpers. Then he let go and Ferret slumped to the ground and curled into a fetal position.

“Tell me where they took Michelle or I’m going to kill you.”

Ferret was shaking on the floor as McTeague raised a foot up over his head and let it hover there for a moment.

“Mac!” Billy put his hand on his old friend’s shoulder. “Michelle ran away from her step-father’s house after they convicted you of killing her mother.” He said.

McTeague brought his foot back down to the floor instead of stomping Ferret’s skull in. Then he bent down and grabbed the dirty cop by the throat and yanked him back up to his feet.

“Is that what this piece of shit told you, Billy? And did you really think I killed Evelyn?”

Ferret couldn’t stand on his own legs. McTeague held him by the throat as he choked and sputtered.

“Mac…please…he’s a cop! Don’t do this shit in here. Don’t bring this shit down on me!”

McTeague shook Billy’s hand off his shoulder.

“Then tell me where she is, cop! Tell me where she is and I won’t spill any more of your blood on Billy’s floor.”

Ferret gasped. His face turned blue.

“F-f-f-fuh…” Ferret sputtered.

McTeague released his iron grip on the man’s neck and let him drop back down to the floor.


He heeled back and kicked the cop in the ribs. There was a loud crack and Ferret coughed out a spray of blood. Then he started to laugh through the tears and snot and blood.

Fucked!” Ferret spat. “Fucked and finished! We fucked your little girl…and then we killed her.”

The blood boiled in McTeague’s head until his eyes looked like they would explode.

A gunshot ripped through the air and Ferret’s head turned into an unrecognizable pulp of shredded flesh and blood. McTeague’s face was wet with splashed gore. He wiped it from his eyes and looked at the gun that was in his own hand, thinking at first that he had instinctively pulled the trigger and hit the mark without consciously aiming.

But the little .38 couldn’t have caused the mutilated mess at his feet. He realized that his right ear was ringing and looked over that shoulder.

Billy stood there breathing hard through his flared nostrils and holding the smoking shotgun still aimed at the dead man on the floor. McTeague slowly took the weapon from the bartender’s shaking hands.

“Jesus, Billy…why did you do it?”

Billy’s mouth gaped open, but nothing came out. How could he tell Mac that he had betrayed him so many years ago? How could he tell him that Michelle was really his own daughter?

BIO: He has had other work published in Muzzleflash, and is currently seeking publication for my novel, Killing Is My Business. He can be contacted at,