“The Candlestick Killer” (Short Story: 4 Authors/4 Parts)

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As promised last week, here in its entirety are Parts 1-4 of “The Candlestick Killer” by Eden Baylee (@edenbaylee on twitter), John Dolan (@JohnDolanAuthor), Billy Ray Chitwood (@brchitwood on twitter), and Diane Strong (@DianeIStrong on twitter), a short story which is a regular part of Cameron Gaggiepy’s ‘The Story Circle’ blog (@camerongarriepy on twitter). Again, it has been a great pleasure for me to participate in this project and my sincere thanks and good wishes go to my author buddies here. Eden started us off in the story, gave us our title, “The Candlestick Killer,” and passed Part 2 on to John Dolan. John passed Part 3 on to me. I passed the Part 4 finale on to Diane. It is our hope that you will enjoy our little story and perhaps visit us at twitter and our blogs. Those blog sites and amazon sites are listed at the end of the story.

“The Candlestick Killer”

PART ONE (by Eden Baylee)

I gazed into pale blue eyes framed by ruddy, pockmarked skin. His smile revealed a missing front tooth. I wrinkled my nose as an acrid smell drifted toward me. Alcohol mixed with rotting teeth. Wonderful.

“Howdy, Missy. You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

I inhaled through my mouth and sucked in my stomach, afraid bile might force itself up my throat. How many times had he used that line before? “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I can’t say the same for you.” A steely calm draped itself over me, but inside, I was shaking. I pressed my hands against my thighs to steady myself.

His look of shock seemed genuine. For a moment, I thought I had blown it, but then I saw the corners of his eyes wrinkle as he burst into raucous laughter.

“Ooh, you’re a feisty one. I like that!” He snatched a chair from an adjacent table. Twirling it around as if he were a matador fending off a bull, he dropped the chair in front me and sat down with a heavy thud.

I pretended to stave off disdain, but it was actually relief I felt. The plan was working; the next steps would be crucial. He liked women who were hard to get, that much I knew, but it was a fine line between keeping him interested and turning him off. “He’s a charmer,” my boss had said. “We need to figure out what he’s telling these women, how he persuades them to bring him home. We know it’s not his looks.”

No question about that. In person, the bastard looked more disgusting than the few out-of-focus pictures I’d seen of him. The lead we had been waiting for came after his last victim called 9-1-1 just before she died. She only managed to utter two words —“Ugly Motherfucker.” He’d left her in a pool of blood after cracking her skull with a brass candlestick. It took a week to retrace her every step, where she’d been, who she’d come in contact with.
A spree of killings over the past three months had left the women of New York City in a state of panic. Aside from living alone, the victims had little in common with one another. They came from varied economic backgrounds, worked different jobs, and shared no social connections. I received the case after the mayor demanded an arrest be made to allay the growing hysteria. Crimes against women were my specialty, but this reeked of a serial killing—not my specialty. I had little choice in the matter though. We’d caught a break. I sat face to face with the first suspect of the case the press now called “The Candlestick Killer.”

He was an ugly motherfucker, all right. I braced myself to walk the flirtation tightrope with him, wondering how the hell he had convinced eight women to invite him into their homes and ultimately to their deaths.

PART TWO (by John Dolan)

 

Manfred Bauer took a sip of beer and leaned forward slightly towards the woman sitting opposite him in the bar.He
continued to mouth platitudes while his real attention focused on the emotions she was concealing behind her confident exterior. The tendrils of his consciousness rippled out across the table which divided them and began slowly to insinuate themselves into her mind.

 

“I haven’t seen you in here before,” he said. “I’m sure I would have remembered. My name is Manfred, by the way.” His extended awareness probed into her raw subconscious, gently caressing the texture of her feelings. Ah! There it was … revulsion. The expected revulsion. But there was something else. Something with an edge to it. It felt like … fear.

 

“I’m Joy.”

 

“You certainly are,” he smiled and ordered drinks for them both from a harassed waitress.

 

Manfred Bauer had a gift. It was a talent which in the hands of a good man could have been turned into something useful. But he was not a good man.

 

Bauer had been born into a family of poor German immigrants in one of the poorer suburbs of Detroit. He was unplanned and unwanted. Moreover he was ugly, and he was made to feel his ugliness.

 

At school he was tormented by the other children and became a loner, an outcast. He was not particularly bright and incurred both the indifference of his teachers and the contempt of his peers. Even at the local Catholic Church his family attended he felt unwelcome: the consolations of religion were withheld from him.

 

Later he drifted in and out of menial jobs; security guard, warehouseman, hotel cleaner. Wherever he went, he never stayed long. People were uncomfortable with him, and supervisors rapidly found excuses to let him go. When he heard the regretful platitudes, he looked into the eyes and he saw the truth: he was hated.

 

His family had heaved a sigh of relief some years back when he moved from Detroit to New York City.

 

But it was in that metropolis of isolated souls that he had discovered his gift.

 

Bauer’s only contact with women was through prostitutes. He felt even their contempt, but gradually he began to
realise – social misfit that he was – that he had an ability that others did not have. Perhaps his upbringing and isolation had honed his senses; perhaps he was just a biological freak. But whatever the explanation, he discovered that he could know what others were feeling.

 

Their actual thoughts remained hidden to him, but he could delineate the shapes of their emotions, he could mark out the maps of their current motivations. 

With practice he became a cartographer of others’ desires. If he concentrated he found he could lay bare the restless emotions that lurked behind the quotidian mask. He could do this with only one person at a time, but it was a singular discovery.

 

However, the skill did not bring him joy. It brought him an even deeper sense of loneliness. Denied to him were the white lies and petty hypocrisies that make daily life bearable.

 

When he lay down with a whore, he could no longer even pretend the experience was pleasurable. It was fake, it was simulated. For both of them.

 

Bauer’s bitterness and sense of injustice intensified, until one day he discovered his talent had reached a new level. He could not only detect the emotions of others: he could influence them.

 

The ability was fragmentary and only worked for a short time, but it was powerful. Exactly how it worked he had no idea, but he began to use it in small ways for sexual conquest. At first, it gave him pleasure, but later it merely deepened his contempt for women. His deep-seated misogyny for the sex that had most tormented him in his youth burst forth into full bloom.

 

And a new thought formed: Why fuck them when I can kill them?

 

Bauer sat back in his chair and studied Joy’s face. The usual signs of puzzlement were present in her eyes as her feelings were silently manipulated. Her body language was beginning to soften towards him. She started playing with her hair, and her lips parted in a smile as the mental metamorphosis continued.

 

“Another drink, Joy?”

 

“I’d love one, Manfred.”

 

Bauer looked at the hint of cleavage showing through her blouse and imagined the incipient wetness between her thighs. He wondered how long ago it was since he’d last had sex.

 

Perhaps for old times’ sake he’d have this one before he killed her. He deserved a little treat.

PART THREE (by Billy Ray Chitwood)

None were visibly present in this lower Manhattan bar of zombie-like misbegottens but a swarm of flies or cockroaches would have been right at home. The scarred table in the corner of the large square room had a wall light that flickered and gave an eerie cast to the already dimly-lit room. The sordid place reminded me of dark and shadowy scenes from a Robert Rodriguez film. At this late hour there were still a few resident zombies on bar stools and at other worn tables. At the bar Manfred waited, smiling, watching me, while the bald slob of a bartender mixed my vodka tonic and poured a generous serving of well Scotch into a highball glass for my newly acquired boyfriend… The harassed waitress who had taken our drink order was no where in sight. These few moments gave me time to consider a new line of work and a long soap-sudsy bath.


When Manfred Bauer (God! this genteel name, this man!) placed the drinks on the table and sat, his eye and confident smile never left me. “I’m sorry, Joy, to make you wait. It appears our waitress has suddenly left the premises. Baldy the bar man says it happens frequently.” His smile still in place, he paused, drank, gave me a curious look with those blue eyes that were somehow conflicting pools, an odd magnetic mix of charm, evil, and sadness. “Tell me, Joy, you dress like a girl of the streets, sexy and slut-like, but I have the distinct feeling you don’t belong here… where do you belong?”

“Stop undressing me with your eyes, Manfred. Everyone has to be somewhere. Tonight, I’m here, and I belong wherever the hell I wish to present myself.” I took a sip of my vodka tonic, measured its taste, decided there was no alien blend, and took a larger swig. He couldn’t possible read my inside trembling, but his eyes touched a nerve within me and made my focus more difficult.

“Aah, a lady confident within herself! I’m not easily fooled, Joy. Why, indeed, are you sitting here with me at this hour in time?”

“There’s something about your brutish style and ugly looks that intrigue me, Manfred. What is it that you do for a living here in the lower east side?” I tried to hold it but involuntarily did a dry swallow before the drink glass reached my lips. I hoped my inceptive fear was not showing. Those eyes! Those damned eyes!

What a snake-charming creep, this perp! His orbs took me to an unwholesome place that frightened me more than I thought it possible. There was something else in those remarkably pale blue eyes that I could not define, an aura of malevolence that sought to bring me to it. My mind was being tested big time. Could I handle this? Could all my
training get me through these last moments? I could only hope that the ‘wire button’ was doing its job, that my comrades at NYPD were ready to join the party when the time came, when we were sure this person was the
candlestick killer. In my mind there was no doubt. In some exclusive way, as I sat across from this obnoxious and odorous man, there came a certainty that he was the killer. Further, another certainty came loud and clear: he
wanted not only to have me sexually in the most awful ways but he wanted to kill me. All this I felt in those light-flickering moments.

“I do whatever I want, pure Joy! There is enough money, enough sex, and enough activity within the underbelly of the lower east side that keeps me active and alive … for a while longer.” His last three words fell softly like an afterthought not to be clearly heard. As he spoke he arranged his chair and guided his left hand under the table to gently rest upon my thigh. His devilish eyes betrayed him for a moment, and, without my protest, he removed his hand. I caught something in his pitted face, just not sure what the hell it was.

“‘For a while longer,’ you said? Is there a special meaning to that statement, Manfred?”

“Why not? Why not tell you? It doesn’t matter to me and it won’t matter to you. I’m to die shortly, pure Joy. A rare and fatal disease, I’m told. What you need to know is that I accept and embrace that knowledge. It is not knowledge that will upset our little world and I’m simply living out some final dreams and illusions. What say we get out of here, my lovely and sexy pure Joy.”

“Stop calling me, ‘pure Joy,’ and leave off with the ‘my,’ Manfred. You’re dying?” His smile was locked into place and his eyes were doing a Hallmark number on me.

“Everyone dies at some point, Joy… You notice I’ve honored your request. Now, can we get out of here? Where do you live?” He pushed back his chair, stood, and put on his bulky winter coat.

“Whoa, el tigre, not so fast! Let me finish my vodka tonic.” I gulped down my drink. “What? We’ve known each other, twenty-thirty minutes?”

“Time is a relative thing, Joy. For me, it’s now or never.” His eyes did their last combo of devilry and wistfulness. “Where do you live?”

“Uptown!” I said.

I rose. I knew what it was that had brought me to this bar and part one of the mission was successful. There were the final dreaded and hoped-for moments ahead, but I had gotten the first part of the job done. Now, there was within me an odd deja vu feeling, a medley of sensations that played to my cop-side and to my woman-side. Not only was some of that mix beguiling, it was also a betrayal of self.

As he awaited my coat donning, he said: “So, you were just slumming, pure Joy?”

“Yes, occasionally I get the hankering to see multiple sides of the Big Apple. We’re all animals, you know?” I walked alongside Manfred out the bar door.

“Oh, indeed, I do. Are you driving or cabbing?”

“I’m parked a few cars up the curb.”

He was quiet as I started the car’s engine and pulled away from the curb.

He played ‘rub the thigh’ during the ride and kept his smile esoterically baffling. I tried slapping his paw away, but he kept up his game. Actually, the gentleness of his touch and the sensate stir it caused surprised, titillated, and annoyed me. I managed to check the rear view mirror occasionally but could not be sure that the few trailing cars far behind me included my unmarked back-up. There was not a lot of traffic, and we chatted, strangely like a romantic couple on their way for a sexual encounter. What bothered me was that I could feel the anticipatory urges. What the hell was up with that?

“What motivates you, Joy?” he asked, feigning perhaps an honest and sincere question. Damn, the question had a mysterious sadness to it. He removed his hand from my thigh and stroked my black smooth tresses.

“I motivate me, Manfred. I participate in life, in living, and, for the most part, I enjoy people and sharing…”

He abruptly removed his hand from my hair as though surprised by his own fondling action.

“Is this all just an animal instinct for you, Joy?” He asked in a surprisingly weak voice.

He caught me off guard with this near normal conversation. I needed to keep it real! I had to keep my focus. “What the hell else could it be, Manfred? You have your moments but you’re not the most appealing of the ape class! You do have an odd animal attraction. That, I can’t deny… What? You for sure can’t be expecting more than that after this rapid romance? I mean, hey, I’m sad, sorry you’re dying, and I feel like helping you realize some of those sexual illusions, but that’s it, pal.”

I glanced over at him. His face still held that unnerving smile on the lips. The lights of neon night produced a shiny side-view watery glaze to his eyes. For brief seconds, I damned near felt sorry for Manfred Bauer. He didn’t drug me, but what the hell was this wacko using on me? Was he using some weird mojo, voodoo black magic stuff on me? There was a lot going on in this new tech savvy world of ours, and I was not privy to all of it. Damn, maybe he did put some tasteless something in my vodka tonic…

“It was just a trick question, pure Joy. That’s ‘for sure’ all that it was.” His voice had regained its edge of hardness. He stared straight ahead with the pasted smile. It was as though he had reached a final determination on the outcome of this night. There was a sense that he knew all the steps that were to follow our drive to uptown Manhattan.

Despite all my investigative training, all the years of experience and heightened awareness in tough undercover situations, there was something palpable and very scary happening inside of me. A degree of fear always
accompanied these operations, but the frenzied feeling that came to me now was beyond any I had ever known. Manfred Bauer had done a job on my emotional wiring, and I felt myself losing control.

We arrived at the recently rented NYPD apartment twenty minutes later.

Part 4 – Finale by Diane Strong

Manfred Bauer leaned his tanned body back in the reclining chair with a sigh and pushed his manicured feet deep into the warm sand. It felt comforting. The sun sat just above the horizon casting an orange light over the vast beach and colorful bungalows. He breathed in the warm salty air, basking in the solitude. His thoughts drifted back to nine months ago, to memories he tried to keep out of his head but usually failed.

It had been so close.

Had he not changed his mind at the last minute and forced Joy to drive away from her apartment his pathetic but rhythmic life would have been doomed. The investigators would have captured him in her apartment, guilty. Evidence of his plans to kill her would have been obvious, had they reached him before the act which they most likely would have since he planned to have his way with her first…stretching out the night.

He would be on death row right now.

They wouldn’t have needed to drag a confession out of him, it would have spilled out. But then he wouldn’t have cared if they’d sentenced him to death. He had prepared for death anyway, and he certainly wouldn’t have made a difference if it come at the hands of the state or his own hands. He had wanted to die either way. He’d had no desire to remain in a world so appalled, so disgusted by him.

His gift hadn’t been enough. Sure he could influence the feelings of women, make them think they wanted him briefly, just long enough for him to have his way with them. But the manipulation always proved temporary and counterfeit. It had been like stretching a rubber band, you could pull it taut but as soon as you let go, it snapped back to its original shape, unchanged.

The sudden change of plans had saved him. There hadn’t been a chase, Joy’s back-up investigators weren’t close enough to understand what had happened until it was too late. He had ripped the wires from her body and tossed her cell phone into the back of a truck heading in the opposite direction. By the time the investigators realized they were following the wrong vehicle and got an APB out on the car, he had ditched it over an embankment.

Before making good his escape in his own car, Manfred had made a quick stop at his home which fortunately for him was not yet under surveillance.

As he scooped out the contents of his safe, he had recalled the phone call a year ago notifying him of his mother’s death. In spite the coldness between them his heart had sunk. His father’s death the year prior had hardly phased him, only creating a glimmer of sympathy toward his mother, now alone in his childhood home. His spirits had lifted, however, when in the same conversation he was informed that his mother, in good Catholic form, had left the entire estate to her one and only child, despite her never wanting him. Or perhaps because of it.

He wasn’t rich by American standards, but as he emptied the safe knew he could live quite comfortably in Mexico for the rest of his life. Moreover, he was struck by the realization that for the first time in his life, he actually wanted to live.

Manfred reached for his frosty pina colada and took a long pull from the large glass. He ran his tongue slowly over his upper lip collecting the salt from the exfoliated skin. His pale blue eyes stared into his drink, an unfamiliar image reflected back at him. The person staring back still felt so foreign with his clean shaven chin, plucked and trimmed eyebrows. Who could have known that a fresh hair style, a little dental work, daily hygiene and clean fashionable clothes could make a semi-handsome man out of him?

Of course, his new found love of running on the beach had helped tremendously. For the first time ever he had abdominal muscles and a tight ass that even he wanted to grab. The endurance he had acquired had worked for him two fold, he could run farther than most but even more importantly, he had become something of an athlete in the bedroom too.

This new life… how different it was from the one he had left behind. That creature he had been back in New York wouldn’t recognize the confident, loved man relaxing on this beach as the sun set across the ocean horizon. The Chinos, the Birkenstock’s and the soft organic cotton shirt draped over his muscular chest would all have been alien to him. Only maybe one thing would not…

“Joy, dear?” Manfred twisted his body and called out to the small bungalow behind him. A slender woman appeared carrying a tray of fresh fruit in her long tanned arms. A candle stick poked from the pocket of her long white cotton smock. Sleek, black tendrils of hair cascaded down her back, swaying as she walked carefully over the warm beach sand.

“Manfred, oh what an evening. It’s just to die for…”

“Yes, Joy. Pure Joy.”

EDEN BAYLEE: http://edenbaylee.com  –  http://about.me/eden.baylee  – http://bit.ly/ebAmazon

JOHN DOLAN: http://johndolanwriter.blogspot.com  –  http://on.fb.me/TEKHds  –  #ASMSG (twitter)

BILLY RAY CHITWOOD: http://goo.gl/TeQpP  –  http://about.me/brchitwood  –  http://goo.gl/KtPJy (amazon) goo.gl/klczd (UK)

DIANE STRONG: http://dianestrong.wordpress.com  –  http://facebook.com/RunningAuthor  –  http://amzn.to/Ouedkh  

A ‘Story Circle Gem’ By Four Authors: “The Candlestick Killer”

BillyRChitwood-250      Billy Ray Chitwood      liebsteraward      booker-award      Story-Circle-Button

It was my honor and my pleasure to join three other authors in writing a short story ‘gem’ for Cameron Garriepy’s ‘The Story Circle.’ The short story was to have four parts, each part appearing each Monday in February on Cameron’s blog, http://bit.ly/XkkzmM, beginning on February 4, 2013. On Monday 2/4, Literary Erotica author Eden Baylee (@edenbaylee on twitter) started us off with a sizzling Part One and gave us the title, “The Candlestick Killer.” Eden began Part One of the story in a jolting ‘first person’ format, and each succeeding author was to creatively pick up the story.

In Part Two of “The Candlestick Killer” on Monday 2/11  the inimitable John Dolan (@JohnDolanAuthor on twitter) moved the story along in a most delectable  narrative style.

In Part Three of “The Candlestick Killer” on Monday 2/18, I presented my segment, reverting back to the ‘first person’ delivery system.

Part Four of “The Candlestick Killer” will finish up on Monday 2/25 and will be written by the ‘Running Suspense Series’ author, Diane Strong (@DianeIStrong on twitter), and will be posted on Cameron Garriepy’s blog (http://bit.ly/XkkzmM). My own blog will run the entire 4-part short story sometime next week. You will not want to miss Diane’s dramatic and explosive finish.

For your ease in reading and connecting the story up to this point, the first three parts are posted here. At the end of my Part Three, there will be links to the talented authors who participated in this short story project. Please enjoy the first three parts of “The Candlestick Killer” and watch out for Diane Strong’s great Part Four ending next Monday 2/25/13.

“The Candlestick Killer”

PART ONE (by Eden Baylee)

I gazed into pale blue eyes framed by ruddy, pockmarked skin. His smile revealed a missing front tooth. I wrinkled my nose as an acrid smell drifted toward me. Alcohol mixed with rotting teeth. Wonderful.

“Howdy, Missy. You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

I inhaled through my mouth and sucked in my stomach, afraid bile might force itself up my throat. How many times had he used that line before? “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I can’t say the same for you.” A steely calm draped itself over me, but inside, I was shaking. I pressed my hands against my thighs to steady myself.

His look of shock seemed genuine. For a moment, I thought I had blown it, but then I saw the corners of his eyes wrinkle as he burst into raucous laughter.

“Ooh, you’re a feisty one. I like that!” He snatched a chair from an adjacent table. Twirling it around as if he were a matador fending off a bull, he dropped the chair in front me and sat down with a heavy thud.

I pretended to stave off disdain, but it was actually relief I felt. The plan was working; the next steps would be crucial. He liked women who were hard to get, that much I knew, but it was a fine line between keeping him interested and turning him off. “He’s a charmer,” my boss had said. “We need to figure out what he’s telling these women, how he persuades them to bring him home. We know it’s not his looks.”

No question about that. In person, the bastard looked more disgusting than the few out-of-focus pictures I’d seen of him. The lead we had been waiting for came after his last victim called 9-1-1 just before she died. She only managed to utter two words —“Ugly Motherfucker.” He’d left her in a pool of blood after cracking her skull with a brass candlestick. It took a week to retrace her every step, where she’d been, who she’d come in contact with.

A spree of killings over the past three months had left the women of New York City in a state of panic. Aside from living alone, the victims had little in common with one another. They came from varied economic backgrounds, worked different jobs, and shared no social connections. I received the case after the mayor demanded an arrest be made to allay the growing hysteria. Crimes against women were my specialty, but this reeked of a serial killing—not my specialty. I had little choice in the matter though. We’d caught a break. I sat face to face with the first suspect of the case the press now called “The Candlestick Killer.”

He was an ugly motherfucker, all right. I braced myself to walk the flirtation tightrope with him, wondering how the hell he had convinced eight women to invite him into their homes and ultimately to their deaths.
PART TWO (by John Dolan)
Manfred Bauer took a sip of beer and leaned forward slightly towards the woman sitting opposite him in the bar.He continued to mouth platitudes while his real attention focused on the emotions she was concealing behind her confident exterior. The tendrils of his consciousness rippled out across the table which divided them and began slowly to insinuate themselves into her mind.

“I haven’t seen you in here before,” he said. “I’m sure I would have remembered. My name is Manfred, by the way.”His extended awareness probed into her raw subconscious, gently caressing the texture of her feelings. Ah! There it was … revulsion. The expected revulsion. But there was something else. Something with an edge to it. It felt like … fear.

“I’m Joy.”

“You certainly are,” he smiled and ordered drinks for them both from a harassed waitress.

Manfred Bauer had a gift. It was a talent which in the hands of a good man could have been turned into something useful. But he was not a good man.

Bauer had been born into a family of poor German immigrants in one of the poorer suburbs of Detroit. He was unplanned and unwanted. Moreover he was ugly, and he was made to feel his ugliness.

At school he was tormented by the other children and became a loner, an outcast. He was not particularly bright and incurred both the indifference of his teachers and the contempt of his peers. Even at the local Catholic Church his family attended he felt unwelcome: the consolations of religion were withheld from him.

Later he drifted in and out of menial jobs; security guard, warehouseman, hotel cleaner. Wherever he went, he never stayed long. People were uncomfortable with him, and supervisors rapidly found excuses to let him go. When he heard the regretful platitudes, he looked into the eyes and he saw the truth: he was hated.

His family had heaved a sigh of relief some years back when he moved from Detroit to New York City.

But it was in that metropolis of isolated souls that he had discovered his gift.

Bauer’s only contact with women was through prostitutes. He felt even their contempt, but gradually he began to realise – social misfit that he was – that he had an ability that others did not have. Perhaps his upbringing and isolation had honed his senses; perhaps he was just a biological freak. But whatever the explanation, he discovered that he could know what others were feeling.

Their actual thoughts remained hidden to him, but he could delineate the shapes of their emotions, he could mark out the maps of their current motivations.

With practice he became a cartographer of others’ desires. If he concentrated he found he could lay bare the restless emotions that lurked behind the quotidian mask. He could do this with only one person at a time, but it was a singular discovery.

However, the skill did not bring him joy. It brought him an even deeper sense of loneliness. Denied to him were the white lies and petty hypocrisies that make daily life bearable.

When he lay down with a whore, he could no longer even pretend the experience was pleasurable. It was fake, it was simulated. For both of them.

Bauer’s bitterness and sense of injustice intensified, until one day he discovered his talent had reached a new level. He could not only detect the emotions of others: he could influence them.

The ability was fragmentary and only worked for a short time, but it was powerful. Exactly how it worked he had no idea, but he began to use it in small ways for sexual conquest. At first, it gave him pleasure, but later it merely deepened his contempt for women. His deep-seated misogyny for the sex that had most tormented him in his youth burst forth into full bloom.

And a new thought formed: Why fuck them when I can kill them?

Bauer sat back in his chair and studied Joy’s face. The usual signs of puzzlement were present in her eyes as her feelings were silently manipulated. Her body language was beginning to soften towards him. She started playing with her hair, and her lips parted in a smile as the mental metamorphosis continued.

“Another drink, Joy?”

“I’d love one, Manfred.”

Bauer looked at the hint of cleavage showing through her blouse and imagined the incipient wetness between her thighs. He wondered how long ago it was since he’d last had sex.

Perhaps for old times’ sake he’d have this one before he killed her. He deserved a little treat.

PART THREE (by Billy Ray Chitwood)
None were visibly present in this lower Manhattan bar of zombie-like misbegottens but a swarm of flies or cockroaches would have been right at home. The scarred table in the corner of the large square room had a wall light that flickered and gave an eerie cast to the already dimly-lit room. The sordid place reminded me of dark and shadowy scenes from a Robert Rodriguez film. At this late hour there were still a few resident zombies on bar stools and at other worn tables.

At the bar Manfred waited, smiling, watching me, while the bald slob of a bartender mixed my vodka tonic and poured a generous serving of well Scotch into a highball glass for my newly acquired boyfriend… The harassed waitress who had taken our drink order was no where in sight. These few moments gave me time to consider a new line of work and a long soap-sudsy bath.

When Manfred Bauer (God! this genteel name, this man!) placed the drinks on the table and sat, his eyes and confident smile never left me. “I’m sorry, Joy, to make you wait. It appears our waitress has suddenly left the premises. Baldy the bar man says it happens frequently.” His smile still in place, he paused, drank, gave me a curious look with those blue eyes that were somehow conflicting pools, an odd magnetic mix of charm, evil, and sadness. “Tell me, Joy, you dress like a girl of the streets, sexy and slut-like, but I have the distinct feeling you don’t belong here… where do you belong?”

“Stop undressing me with your eyes, Manfred. Everyone has to be somewhere. Tonight, I’m here, and I belong wherever the hell I wish to present myself.” I took a sip of my vodka tonic, measured its taste, decided there was no alien blend, and took a larger swig. He couldn’t possible read my inside trembling, but his eyes touched a nerve within me and made my focus more difficult.

“Aah, a lady confident within herself! I’m not easily fooled, Joy. Why, indeed, are you sitting here with me at this hour in time?”

“There’s something about your brutish style and ugly looks that intrigue me, Manfred. What is it that you do for a living here in the lower east side?” I tried to hold it but involuntarily did a dry swallow before the drink glass reached my lips. I hoped my inceptive fear was not showing. Those eyes! Those damned eyes!

What a snake-charming creep, this perp! His orbs took me to an unwholesome place that frightened me more than I thought it possible. There was something else in those remarkably pale blue eyes that I could not define, an aura of malevolence that sought to bring me to it. My mind was being tested big time. Could I handle this? Could all my training get me through these last moments? I could only hope that the ‘wire button’ was doing its job, that my comrades at NYPD were ready to join the party when the time came, when we were sure this person was the candlestick killer. In my mind there was no doubt. In some exclusive way, as I sat across from this obnoxious and odorous man, there came a certainty that he was the killer. Further, another certainty came loud and clear: he wanted not only to have me sexually in the most awful ways but he wanted to kill me. All this I felt in those light-flickering moments.

“I do whatever I want, pure Joy! There is enough money, enough sex, and enough activity within the underbelly of the lower east side that keeps me active and alive … for a while longer.” His last three words fell softly like an afterthought not to be clearly heard. As he spoke he arranged his chair and guided his left hand under the table to gently rest upon my thigh. His devilish eyes betrayed him for a moment, and, without my protest, he removed his hand. I caught something in his pitted face, just not sure what the hell it was.

“‘For a while longer,’ you said? Is there a special meaning to that statement, Manfred?”

“Why not? Why not tell you? It doesn’t matter to me and it won’t matter to you. I’m to die shortly, pure Joy. A rare and fatal disease, I’m told. What you need to know is that I accept and embrace that knowledge. It is not knowledge that will upset our little world and I’m simply living out some final dreams and illusions. What say we get out of here, my lovely and sexy pure Joy.”

“Stop calling me, ‘pure Joy,’ and leave off with the ‘my,’ Manfred. You’re dying?” His smile was locked into place and his eyes were doing a Hallmark number on me.

“Everyone dies at some point, Joy… You notice I’ve honored your request. Now, can we get out of here? Where do you live?” He pushed back his chair, stood, and put on his bulky winter coat.

“Whoa, el tigre, not so fast! Let me finish my vodka tonic.” I gulped down my drink. “What? We’ve known each other, twenty-thirty minutes?”

“Time is a relative thing, Joy. For me, it’s now or never.” His eyes did their last combo of devilry and wistfulness. “Where do you live?”

“Uptown!” I said.

I rose. I knew what it was that had brought me to this bar and part one of the mission was successful. There were the final dreaded and hoped-for moments ahead, but I had gotten the first part of the job done. Now, there was within me an odd deja vu feeling, a medley of sensations that played to my cop-side and to my woman-side. Not only was some of that mix beguiling, it was also a betrayal of self.

As he awaited my coat donning, he said: “So, you were just slumming, pure Joy?”

“Yes, occasionally I get the hankering to see multiple sides of the Big Apple. We’re all animals, you know?” I walked alongside Manfred out the bar door.

“Oh, indeed, I do. Are you driving or cabbing?”

“I’m parked a few cars up the curb.”

He was quiet as I started the car’s engine and pulled away from the curb.

He played ‘rub the thigh’ during the ride and kept his smile esoterically baffling. I tried slapping his paw away, but he kept up his game. Actually, the gentleness of his touch and the sensate stir it caused surprised, titillated, and annoyed me. I managed to check the rear view mirror occasionally but could not be sure that the few trailing cars far behind me included my unmarked back-up. There was not a lot of traffic, and we chatted, strangely like a romantic couple on their way for a sexual encounter. What bothered me was that I could feel the anticipatory urges. What the hell was up with that?

“What motivates you, Joy?” he asked, feigning perhaps an honest and sincere question. Damn, the question had a mysterious sadness to it. He removed his hand from my thigh and stroked my black smooth tresses.

“I motivate me, Manfred. I participate in life, in living, and, for the most part, I enjoy people and sharing…”

He abruptly removed his hand from my hair as though surprised by his own fondling action.

“Is this all just an animal instinct for you, Joy?” He asked in a surprisingly weak voice.

He caught me off guard with this near normal conversation. I needed to keep it real! I had to keep my focus. “What the hell else could it be, Manfred? You have your moments but you’re not the most appealing of the ape class! You do have an odd animal attraction. That, I can’t deny… What? You for sure can’t be expecting more than that after this rapid romance? I mean, hey, I’m sad, sorry you’re dying, and I feel like helping you realize some of those sexual illusions, but that’s it, pal.”

I glanced over at him. His face still held that unnerving smile on the lips. The lights of neon night produced a shiny side-view watery glaze to his eyes. For brief seconds, I damned near felt sorry for Manfred Bauer. He didn’t drug me, but what the hell was this wacko using on me? Was he using some weird mojo, voodoo black magic stuff on me? There was a lot going on in this new tech savvy world of ours, and I was not privy to all of it. Damn, maybe he did put some tasteless something in my vodka tonic…

“It was just a trick question, pure Joy. That’s ‘for sure’ all that it was.” His voice had regained its edge of hardness. He stared straight ahead with the pasted smile. It was as though he had reached a final determination on the outcome of this night. There was a sense that he knew all the steps that were to follow our drive to uptown Manhattan.

Despite all my investigative training, all the years of experience and heightened awareness in tough undercover situations, there was something palpable and very scary happening inside of me. A degree of fear always accompanied these operations, but the frenzied feeling that came to me now was beyond any I had ever known. Manfred Bauer had done a job on my emotional wiring, and I felt myself losing control.

We arrived at the recently rented NYPD apartment twenty minutes later.

PART FOUR (by Diane Strong)

(Will be presented next Monday 2/25/13 on http://www.http://bit.ly/XkkzmM)

(All Four Parts will appear sometime next week on this blog.)

Here are some links to these talented authors:

Eden Baylee: http://edenbaylee.com and http://www.about.me/eden.baylee and http://www.bit.ly/ebAmazon

John Dolan: http://johndolanwriter.blogspot.com and http://www.on.fb.me/TEKHdS and http://www.goo.gl/NvsVg 

Billy Ray Chitwood: http://about.me/brchitwood and http://www.goo.gl/TeQpP and http://www.goo.gl/DKUtZ 

Diane Strong: http://dianestrong.wordpress.com and http://www.facebook.com/RunningAuthor and http://www.amzn.to/OUEdkh

Cameron Garriepy: http://camerondgarriepy.com and http://www.amzn.to/WVrjeE

Eden Baylee     John Dolan     Billy Ray Chitwood     Diane Strong     Cameron Garriepy

Eden Baylee  John Dolan      Billy Ray     Diane Strong   Cameron Garriepy (“The Story Circle”)   

“The Things I Don’t Know”

Bill SSMT250            liebsteraward           booker-award

There are some things we feel, instinctively know, that we hold dear and very few counter positions can sway those special holdings. I’m talking about the feelings we have about the books we read, our children, our faith, family values, friendships, movies, political views, television shows, and other venues of thought that generally fall under the ‘subjective’ heading. These are things shaped by the merging of our childhood and adult hemispheres, feelings and thoughts that are inveterate, solidified, and otherwise likely not to undergo major alterations during our lives. Yes, there will be room for modification to these basic parts of us but, in most instances, they will speak of who we are to those people who might care to know us.

No big startling revelations in the foregoing paragraph. You know of what I write here. These determining factors bring us our world communities, our caste systems, our classes that define supposedly where we belong in the hierarchy of groups. Some of us are not as lucky as others, perhaps born into poverty, wealth, or somewhere in between. Some of us don’t get the luck of the draw on that intelligence quotient chart. It is all well and good that each of us has our very own unique DNA network, but we will find our ways into the groups in which we apparently belong. Sure, there are those in the poverty group who are blessed with a promising IQ and have a burning desire to move into another group. There are those in the wealthy group who do not get an accompanying IQ that is promising, but they are less likely to go to another group. There are those in all the groups who are handicapped in some way. Some are skinny and stay skinny. Some have a propensity for weight gain and, with some exceptions, stay overweight. There is some universally unwritten codex for determining who among us is cute, handsome, pretty, and who is not so. Funny, the way this programming came, the evolution from ape to man or the intelligent creation that places us where we are. We are born as equals perhaps but we don’t stay that way.

When I hear, read, and/or see something spectacular that I don’t understand like space/time continuum theories, galaxies, universes, black holes, splitting atoms, generally the mathematical and scientific stuff, I’m really out of my league – or, my group. I’m dumbfounded and fascinated by the world of cyberspace and all the technological advances, by quantum physics, by the rapid doubling of knowledge, by parallel worlds, by the ‘Star War’ movies, by the digitally enhanced Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarentino films, and by some of the marvelous books that envision worlds that I might or might not want to inhabit… Aah, the things I don’t know! We truly do have geniuses who give our lives adventure, excitement, and new knowledge. But, gee, it is also truly staggering the things I don’t know.

I guess maybe it comes down to this. In all that programming by God (I’m in that group!), it’s like He gives us this big rock of knowledge and each of us chip off a bit of this huge boulder and that becomes our main interest in life. Einstein with his chip gives us that theory of relativity thing. The Greek, Euclides, with his chip gives us his Mathematical theories. Michelangelo takes a large chunk of that rock and gives us Art with his Italian Renaissance brilliance – like, the man does it all as an architect, an engineer, a painter, a poet, a sculptor! Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (recently departed) with their chips off the rock of knowledge add so much to our devilishly exciting world of the internet.

With my chip, what am I giving? I write blog posts, books, poetry, and songs. Poverty is where I begin my journey. Along my way, there are many mistakes. There is membership in that aforementioned Middle group, and I don’t quite make it to that Wealthy status. It is my belief that God did give me a gift, much of it frittered away over time in gin mills and romantic pursuits, and I’m now trying to make up for the lost time. Whether my humble writing appeals to the hungry readers of our E-world day remains to be seen. My books are simple reads without a lot of complicated and convoluted plots, but I do promise the reader that pieces of me are there on and between the lines.

It is truly remarkable this new digital world in which I find myself, and I’m planning to stay awhile. I’m slowly adapting to the internet world, immersing myself in the merry madness of it all. I’m even giving away free books on amazon, one at a time. This next five days my first fictional memoir is FREE at amazon – fictional but over ninety percent accurate. The title: “The Cracked Mirror – Reflections Of An Appalachian Son.” The true non-fictional brother to this book is just recently out (shamefully, 100% true): “What Happens Next? A Life’s True Tale.” These two books have seven more of my fictional books as company on amazon. For the next few weeks (for five days on amazon each week) my plan is to give away a free book.

It’s my observation that this is a great time for readers. It is also a great time for authors and writers of all genres. Possibilities are unlimited. What amazes me is the incredible talent that is among us. What utterly confounds me in my reading is discovering the things that I don’t know.

Please follow me on twitter (@brchitwood), check me out and scroll the ‘home’ page on my main website/blog at http://www.goo.gl/TeQpP. There’s a quick bio sketch and a number of links at http://www.about.me/brchitwood. I belong to the following author groups: ASMSG, IAN, AHA, and TBSU. You can browse my books at http://www.goo.gl/fuxUA or scroll down the ‘home’ page of my main website/blog (above).

My Twitter Friend Honors Me!

liebsteraward             booker-award             one-lovely-blog               reality blog award                                                           very-inspirational-blogger1

We who write, we who diligently do the daily maintenance of our twitter sites know about the time consumption aspects of the many activities involved. Most of us who write also have Facebook, Google Plus, Goodreads, LinkedIn, PinIt, and other writer-connection networks – those places we hash mark and direct others. For this ‘twilight tweeter’ there is discovery and newness, a new world that technological geniuses designed to drive me sometimes mad, to lead me other times to a deliriously delightful place in my mind. For some the digital world and all its new terminology and operations come easily. For some of us this new world is exciting, fascinating, and, may I say, frantic and frightening – confused by protocols we are to follow here and there – frustrated when a hovering and/or misguided finger gets too close to the laptop keys and we lose some important data – sometimes disappointed and defeated by day’s end.

This is one of those deliriously delightful places, my blog(s), where I can commune with my twitter friends and fellow bloggers about so many things that cross my mind – some things, I’m sure, that would be better left alone (like politics and religion!). Today, I wish to single out one dear blog and twitter friend because she has honored me with nominations of some of the blog awards that appear on this page. That twitter friend is Jhobell Kristyl. I thank her for honoring me – and, for putting me in an awkward position. 🙂 You see, I’m not sure what the protocols are – if there are, indeed, protocols. I wish Jhobell and everyone reading this to know that I’m so appreciative for her nominations of these three awards: ‘One Lovely Blog Award ‘‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’ – ‘Most Handsome Blogger Award’ (Oops! My wife used that word in mentioning Richard Castle’s name while I was tapping the keys here, and, since I never erase anything, STET!) – ‘REALITY Blog Award’ (replaces the ‘Most Handsome Blogger Award’ – Okay, I’ll stop! 🙂

Having voiced my appreciation and acknowledgment to Jhobell, I’m going to temporarily postpone fulfilling the various awards’ requirements. For now I will just say to Jhobell, thanks so much for thinking of me and I’m honored with the nominations.

Jhobell has a busy blog site at http://bookmavenpicks.wordpress.com Please visit her site and be entertained and informed. She is also on twitter (@JhobellKristyl).

Finishing up some writing projects but a new post will be posted by week’s end.

 

 

“Billy Joe’s Night Out”

Bill SSMT                     liebsteraward                         booker-award

Billy Ray Chitwood

Charles Wells, Wellston Publishing, a good southern twitter/writer friend of mine, has given me permission to post a little story for you. It’s a story that hopefully you will enjoy and appreciate the homespun humor of it all. Charles and I are from the south, with me a bit more ancient than Charles, but his story here rattled my rib cage and I wanted to share it. Born and bred in Appalachia many years ago, I love the people, the purity, the simplicity of life in my native south.

We people in the south get a lot of teasing about the way we talk, our drawls and our ‘you all’s.’ A lot of jokes have been created at our expense — we’re right up there with the Polish folks! It’s all okay for people to laugh at us southerners. We laugh at ourselves. Our gentility is fairly well known world-wide and gets its share of teasing. But most of the fun-poking goes to our hill people, to our rural folks who eschew formal education to work hard and play hard, who plow their fields and harvest some of the finest food for our breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables, who strum their guitars, ukuleles, banjos, fiddles, and ‘juice harps’ for a mix of music that comes straight from their hearts and souls. Maybe some of these good people get a little push from the home-brewed ‘white lightning’ and the beer they drink.

Now, the following ‘scholarly essay’ from my buddy, Charles, deals with the more colorful of our southern brothers and sisters. It’s my hope that it doesn’t offend anyone because surely we can laugh at each other. It is what makes this big country of ours such a wonderful place. We have freedom here. We can poke a little fun at college professors, CEOs, Presidents, Vice Presidents, government workers, people from the East, West, Midwest, North, and South. The courtesy may be fading fast, but I’m guessing there are a few of us southerners still opening doors for the ladies. That doesn’t mean we’re against equality for women. It just means we were raised that way. Today, though, we’re poking a little fun at my people, the ‘southern rednecks.’

Sit back, take a swig of the suds, and read Charles Wells’ account of “Billy Joe’s Night Out.”

They Call It Bubba’s Bait, Tackle, Beer and Baptist Church

There’s a small town about 15 miles from where I live in Georgia. I’m not certain if it has a legal name of incorporation or not but I am sure the people who live there, all 119 of them, could care less what you call it. After all, it’s their community and they love it. For writing about it, I’m going to call the town by the name most everyone around these parts uses, and that’s simply, “Bubba’s” but that’s the short name. The full one is “Bubba’s Bait, Tackle, Beer, and Baptist Church”.

The reason everyone calls it Bubba’s is probably because nobody has ever given this little area of God’s earth an official title of any kind. Bubba’s has been around about as long as Budweiser beer and the name sort of just blended on over to the location.

Bubba’s is located on a two lane gravel top County maintained road and has the worldly reputation as the origination of the old joke about “don’t blink or you’ll miss it”. Every place is famous for something and that is Bubba’s eruption to fame in that joke.

Bubba’s main street is about as long as a four lane interstate highway is wide. There are no city services beyond volunteer fire and county sheriff but the unspoken reputation of the area protects these people well enough. The last fire that happened was one night when Billy Joe got drunk and then got hungry so he went on home from Bubba’s Bar. Now don’t get all fussy about drinking and driving because Billy Joe took a cab, which really pissed off Carlton the man who owned it, but that’s another story for another time.

Anyhow, old Billy Joe got home and left the cab in the driveway with the motor and the meter running, then went inside his double wide trailer at 2 AM and proceeded to fry up a mess of catfish. His wife, June Ann, was sound asleep. She’d been up late watching a Honey Boo Boo marathon on TV so she didn’t hear him come in. Billy Joe got the fish grease nice and hot then dropped in three cats he’d caught the day before at the river. What he did next is where the fire came from. He passed out cold on the floor in front of the stove and that hog lard grease got so hot it finally caught fire.

Fortunately, June Ann woke up smelling the smoke and realized the trailer was on fire. She grabbed her two children and some of their clothes, and then took them outside near the road to safety. She pointed a finger at them and snapped, “Now ya’ll stay right here and don’t move or I’ll set your britches on fire, you hear me?”

When the kids nodded, she went running back inside the smoke filled house where she gathered up and saved her two cats and a parakeet from sure fire death. She got them outside with the children and then back into the trailer she went again. With much great physical effort and power, she managed to drag and roll her mama’s old sewing machine out the front door, into the yard, and safely away from the burning structure.

By that time, the volunteer fire department arrived and told her to stay put and don’t go no place. They’d do the rest. June Ann yelled at them, “Just make sure you run down the hall to my bedroom and get my daddy’s old shotgun out of there before it burns up”.

One fireman asked, “Well where your husband, Billy Joe and what’s Carlton’s Cab doing parked here in the yard with the motor running?”

Waving one hand toward the mobile home, June Ann said, “Hell I don’t know but I think I saw him lyin’ on the floor near the stove but don’t bother waking him up. He gets pretty mean after he’s been drinking all night.”

The fireman nodded then raced into the house. One of them found Billy Joe passed out near the stove and carried him outside to safety. June Ann told him to go put him back since that seemed to be where he wanted to be but they refused. Fact is Billy Joe owed Andy (the fireman) ten bucks and he wasn’t about to let that slip past.

About five minutes and a living room sofa in flames later, a medic showed up and gave Billy Joe some oxygen out of a bottle. Pretty soon, Billy Joe coughed, gagged, spit out a pile of black soot and most of the last hours worth of Budweiser. Then he looked up at his home and asked with tears in his eyes, “Can they save the tires at least? They almost brand new.”

The last crime that happened anywhere near Bubba’s was the night Carlton’s cab got stolen right out from in front of the Bar where he parked it most days. I don’t really see no need to describe that incident to the readers though. I mean, ya’ll have been paying attention so far, ain’t you?

So that’s the story behind Bubba’s Bait, Tackle, Beer, and Baptist Church. Maybe next time I write about it I’ll go over some of the finer points of the neighborhood. Might even talk about the world famous Redneck Games held a few miles away from there. It’s interesting I promise you.

   

Catch Charles at twitter @Charles_E_Wells or email at chasw@wellston.org and follow his ‘Grits N Gravy’ blog.

Chas_with_Camera_Small-C. Wells

Charles E. Wells – Wellston Publishing