Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #95 (20.4)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

The moment has arrived. Vinnie comes face to face with his worst nightmare. Can this end well? Will they be able to learn anything from the Florida Mangler? See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #95 (20.4)

I bit back the witty rejoinder that surely lurked on the tip of my tongue. No sense in antagonizing him right off the bat. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with sugar. Or is it honey? Maybe once we’d gotten all the information we needed, I could tell Chip what I really thought of him. I forced a smile I was far from feeling.

“Not long enough,” Ethan quickly countered on my behalf.

“Aw, and here I thought maybe you missed me.”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Ethan said. “It doesn’t become you.”

Without missing a beat, Chip turned his attention to me. “And what do you think does become me, Vinny, my friend?”

“I am not your friend and never will be.” So much for remaining calm, cool, and collected. He was already getting under my skin. I had to force myself to take a deep breath. And hide my actual feelings. Namely, that he scared the shit out of me. Especially at closer quarters than I had anticipated. Maybe some people appreciated the up-close-and-personal with their incarcerated loved ones, but I didn’t count myself among that number.

I was grateful to be sitting. Otherwise, my shaking knees might have given me away. Assuming my quivering voice hadn’t already done so.

“Oh say it isn’t so, Vinny, my sweet!” he exclaimed with an exaggerated look of sorrow directed at me. I swear if his hands were free, he’d have clasped them together against his chest for melodramatic effect. But then again, if they had gone that route, we could have been on the safe side of plexiglass instead of the somewhat precarious position we found ourselves in.

“Knock it off!” Ethan growled, clearly annoyed. “There’s no time for this nonsense. I have a few questions for you, and I’d like you to answer them.”

Chip laughed. “Ah, my dear detective, I wish I had a lover who was as protective of me as you are of our sweet Vinny.” He glanced back and forth between us, before adding, “I hear congratulations are in order. Have you set the date yet?”

“How did you know?” I blurted out without thinking. I knew our engagement wasn’t exactly public knowledge, and we certainly hadn’t placed an announcement of it in any newspapers. I wasn’t sure if people still did that anymore. Then I glanced at my hand and spied my engagement ring, the mate to which sat on Ethan’s finger. That explained that.

As if reading my mind, Chip said,” The rings are a giveaway, I admit, but I already knew about the two of you planning to get hitched.” He gave us a lascivious wink. “I have my sources.” Could he get any more smarmy?

“Interestingly enough, that’s what I want to talk to you about,” Ethan said in a rather level tone of voice. He seemed to have shaken off his previous annoyance. I wasn’t surprised. Ethan really wasn’t the type to fly off the handle. That would be me.

 to be continued





Monday, December 4, 2023

Book Review: Love Mode, Vol 5 by Yuki Shimizu


Love Mode, Vol 5      

Author: Yuki Shimizu

Publisher: Blu

American release date:  May 8, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Yaoi Manga/216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


After moving in with Reiji, Naoya’s life has changed for the better, including a new school. On the first day of school, Reiji and his brother Kiichi pick up Naoya to celebrate. As usual, Reiji seems irritated by the close relationship between Kiichi and Naoya, and his brother accuses him of being jealous. Naoya keeps his part-time job, intending to reimburse Reiji for at least some of the money the man has spent on him.

The relationship between Naoya and Reiji is beginning to subtly shift, with each man thinking of the other a lot, even if neither one admits to it. However, forces are at work that threaten to tear them apart. On his way to school, Naoya is stopped by a man who asks if he is Shirakawa Naoya. Upon learning that he is, the man says he has orders to bring him to the mansion where his grandfather awaits. Grandfather? Seriously? Meanwhile, Reiji learns that one of his clients is being blackmailed.

Naoya opts to live with his grandfather, but for altruistic reasons, believing himself to be a burden to Reiji. Reiji accepts his decision, although he leaves him with something to remember him by before he goes. Life with his grandfather isn’t always easy either. All of Naoya’s stuff is disposed of, anything which connected him to his former life, including the keys to Reiji’s apartment, which is thrown out into the enormous garden. Try though he might, Naoya can’t locate them. On top of that, young Wataru, who was supposed to be the heir to Naoya’s grandfather, is angry at Naoya’s arrival and jealous that he has been supplanted in his adopted father’s affections.

Reiji pretends to be unaffected by Naoya’s absence, but even Kiichi can see the truth about Reji’s feelings for Naoya. He and Naoya reconcile, but an unexpected crisis threatens to tear them apart permanently.

This volume of Love Mode brings the love story of Naoya and Reiji to a dramatic climax – literally and figuratively. Naoya does a lot of maturing, and learns to be his own man and make his own decisions. The scene we’ve all been waiting for between Naoya and Reiji finally happens, so yay for that! There’s a lot of drama between Naoya and Wataru, who not surpriisingly feels abandoned in favor of the “true” heir. Reiji is forced to examine his own feelings for once and not hide everything away beneath his oh so cool exterior. Things should be smoother from here on out.

Another great volume, look forward to the next!


Saturday, December 2, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #141 - I Spit On Your Grave (1978), Violent Night

 I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Jennifer (Camille Keaton) heads to the Connecticut woods in order to write her first novel, having previously only written short stories. Fresh air, solitude, and country living should do it, right? But she quickly learns that all things in the country aren't good or healthy.

On arrival in town, Jennifer gets gas at the local station, where she shares her excitement over the coming summer with the owner/attendant, Johnny (Eron Tabor). Later she meets Stanley (Anthony Nichols), who delivers her groceries. He is friendly and sweet, if a little slow. Seems like a good place. But she learns otherwise when she is laying out in her bikini in a boat and Johnny and a couple of his friends come upon her and decide to have some fun, in a brutal attack which they continue even after she thinks she has escaped from them. When they send Stanley in to finish the job, he can't do it, and lets them think he has. So now it's time for revenge.

I'm not going to lie, the rape scenes are brutal and hard to watch.  The poor actress also spends most of the film naked. I read that the actors asked to be naked as well in order to help make her feel more comfortable. This is a revenge film, pure and simple, and as such it succeeds, although certainly not a great film in any way. But the brutality of the rape makes the revenge that much more satisfying. I am going to watch the sequel, which was made like 40 years later, and hope it's a better film. There is also a remake of the series, which I may or may not watch. But for now, I'll give this film 3 Stars for succeeding in its primary goal.

Violent Night

Santa Claus (David Harbour) is jaded and weary, tired of the commercialism and cynicism of the modern world. He feels as if the spirit of Christmas has been lost, and he drinks to dull the pain. Trudy (Leah Brady) is a very bright little girl with only one wish for Christmas - that Dad (Alex Hassell) and Mom (Alexis Louder) make up and get back together again. They are all meeting at her Grandma Gertrude's (Beverly D'Angelo) house, along with her aunt and uncle and their brat, Bertrude. The latter are all in a tizzy to make sure they stay in good with the wealthy grandma. But a criminal who calls himself Scrooge (John Leguizamo) has other ideas. This is a Christmas they won't soon forget.

You'd think with a cast like this, and an interesting premise, this movie would be a shoe-in. I like David Harbour from Stranger Things and Hell Boy, and I have loved John Leguizamo for a long time, both for his stand-up and for such movie roles as Toulouse Lautrec in Moulin Rouge (we can forget his Mario Brothers Stint). But if you believe this, you will be sadly disappointed. The film doesn't lack of looks, and it clearly had a decent budget. But there is nothing interesting or original about it. As my son son, it's bland. It reminds me of a wanna-be copy of Die Hard. I was not just disappointed, I was bored, and I could imagine how everything was going to play out. I gave up after about thirty minutes. I suggest you just pass on this one.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #94 (20.3)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

The moment you've been waiting for (but not Vinny) - face to face with the Florida Mangler once again! See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #94 (20.3)

We were shown into a private room off the main hallway. The only furniture in the room was a table and three chairs. And in the single chair across from us, sitting there with the smuggest expression on his smarmy face, was… you know who.

The Florida Mangler himself. The man who’d killed our late partner, Eva June, among others. The man who’s kidnapped me and held me hostage for reasons I still didn’t comprehend. I won’t add injury to insult by referring to him as the alleged Florida Mangler, even though he hadn’t been to trial yet and wasn’t everyone innocent until proven guilty, because we knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was the Mangler. Despite whatever his lawyer might or might not plead when the time came, up to and including insanity. But I didn’t believe for one moment that Chip was crazy, just very evil.

If I’d expected Chip to look the worse for being incarcerated all this time, I was sadly mistaken. Apparently jail agreed with him as he retained his frat boy looks. If anything, his reddish-brown hair had grown longer, giving him a somewhat more feminine appearance, and his pale green eyes wore a look of amusement that definitely did reach his lips in the form a smirk.

I came to an abrupt halt in the middle of the doorway, having followed after Ethan and the policeman, my feet having refused to cooperate and enter the room. I could clearly see that Chip was manacled in place, and even if we sat directly across fom him at the table, he would not be able to reach either of us. That didn’t keep me from worrying that he might try.

I barely heard the recitation of the rules given by our escort, until he said he would be right outside the door, which I was still standing inside. Ethan turned to face me, a concerned look on his handsome face.

“C’mon in, Vinny,” Chip beckoned me with a wolfish grin. “Let me see that pretty face.” He chuckled at his own warped wit.

Ethan stepped closer to me, lowering his voice so only I could hear. “We can leave if you want. We don’t have to do this.”

But I knew we did if we were ever to get closure. I didn’t trust the court system to provide that. I’d seen too many cases where killers were sentenced but never had to explain why they had done what they’d done.

“I’ll be okay, Ethan,” I assured him, even though I wasn’t so sure myself. I took a step inside the room, and then another. Ethan nodded at the officer and he left, closing the door behind him and locking us in with our archenemy.

Straighten your spine, DelaRosa. You can do this.

I took a deep breath and nodded to Ethan. We covered the short distance between us and the table and took our seats.

“Long time no see, guys,” Chip remarked.

 to be continued

Now see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #140 - A Monster Calls, Silent Night, Deadly Night 2

A Monster Calls


Twelve-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall) i8s having a rough life.  His mother (Felicity Jones) is dying, and the thought of living with his strict grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) is more than he can bear. On top of that, he is being bullied at school, and no one will come to his assistance. His dad (Toby Kebbell) lives in America now, and he has a new family, and he has no room for Conor. What's a boy to do?

But then he encounter a monster in the form of a giant tree (Liam Neeson). While frightening at first, he helps Conor to cope with the reality of his existence. He tells Conor that he shall tell him three stories and then Conor will tell him his own story. Conor protests that he has no story to tell, but the Monster proceeds anyway with his tales.

I honestly did not know what to expect from this movie, but I was most pleasantly surprised. Twelve is

very young to have to deal with the impending death of one parent and the seeming indifference of the other, along with a grandmother he barely knows and doesn't like. It's a tale of bravery and imagination that will warm the coldest of hearts. It's well written, acted, and directed. I really enjoyed it. I'll give this film 4.5 Stars.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2

Ricky Caldwell (Eric Freeman) was just a baby and his brother Billy only 7 when their family was attacked by a man in a Santa suit by the side of the road. Dad was shot and killed, and Mom was assaulted and murdered in front of her children. The two boys were sent to live in an orphanage run by Mother Superior (Jean Miller). Billy grew up haunted by what he had seen, and the nun was brutal in her punishments. He became a serial killer in a Santa suit himself.

Fast forward a number of years. Ricky is in a mental institution, being interviewed by the new psychiatrist.  He tells of his past family trauma, but he has plans of his own. Will history repeat itself?

Silent Night Deadly Night 2 picks up where the last one left off. But if you haven't seen the first one,  no worries - this one recaps all of the highlights of that film, and that takes up about two-thirds of this movie. So you might as well skip the first one completely.

Let there be no doubt this movie is all about shock and gore and senseless violence. And women with bare breasts. The writing is horrible, the acting atrocious. It's like watching a train wreck. And yet you find you can't look away. If you don't take it seriously, and just accept it for it is, you might not be sorry you watched it. I didn't realize I'd already seen one of the scenes  in another video. Now I'll never forget Garbage Day. All things considered, I'll give this movie 2.5 Stars. I hear there are sequels. Might have to check them out.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #140 - M3gan


Gemma (Allison Williams) is a robotics engineer at a toy company. She is frustrated to learn that the project she has been working on to produce a lifelike AI doll is not being greenlit. Despite that, she continues to work on it, confident that this will take the toy world by storm and be a major seller. When she unexpectedly becomes the guardian for her orphaned niece Cady (Violet McGraw), she finishes the prototype and gives it to Cady, so the company will see what the doll, M3gan, can do. 

Cady, devastated by the loss of her parents and having her life uprooted, takes to M3gan immediately. The AI becomes everything to her, and they become inseparable. Everything seems to be going well...until M3gan develops a mind of her own. And she won't let anybody keep her down.

I've been wanting to see this for some time, so was glad of the opportunity to see it. I thought it was

interesting to watch, and the AI M3gan was quite chilling, and she had some interesting moves. I certainly wouldn't want to cross her. Makes you think about the possible pitfalls of creating such an AI. But overall, it was a decent film, and I am looking forward to the sequel.  I'll give this film 4 Stars.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #93 (20.2)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Vinnie and Ethan arrive in Green Cove Springs and prepare to meet their nemesis, the Florida Mangler. See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #93 (20.2)

The Clay County Detention Center/ was a more imposing structure than I had imagined it would be for such a small town. It probably housed inmates from many areas of northern Florida, I surmised. We’d received instructions from Anderson on what was expected of us, and left everything inside the vehicle, including our weapons. Neither Ethan nor I cared for that idea, but we had no choice. The rules applied to law enforcement visitors as well as others. I supposed it would be different if we were dropping off or picking up. But as Chip was already there, and I had no intention of taking him with us (the very thought made me shudder), we followed their instructions before we made our approach to the edifice.

We’d left Benny with a very nice lady who ran a pet daycare close to our motel. Benny seemed reticent about staying with her at first until she produced a particularly delicious-looking treat for him, after which he became a willing participant to being left behind and barely spared us a glance as he wolfed down his largesse and then proceeded to introduce himself to some of his fellow canines.

“Fickle child,” I muttered under my breath as we returned to our car and Ethan opened my door for me. “He could have at least pretended like he was sorry to see us go.”

Ethan laughed and kissed me softly. “Don’t worry. He’ll make up for it when we pick him up later.” I knew that was right. As usual, Ethan made me feel better. No wonder I keep him around.

Okay, he keeps me around. Same difference.

And maybe I wasn’t really perturbed at our pup’s seeming indifference but was using it to mask what was really bothering me. Which, of course, my observant and intuitive boy quickly figured out. Before we reached the front door, he drew me aside and hugged me.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I could hear the concern in his voice.

“No,” I said honestly. “But I’m going to do this. I can do this.”  I looked deep into his beautiful blue eyes and hoped he would understand my determination not to give in to my fear. Of course he did.

“I know you can, Vinny,” he agreed. “I have faith in you. Always have. Okay, then, let’s do this thing.” He kissed me gently and we proceeded on our way. We headed to an information desk where we gave them our information and presented our badges. I’d expected to have some sort of wait, but an officer was immediately delegated to escort us to our destination.

I remember thinking that at least he’d be on the other side of a plexiglass barrier, as far from us as possible…

But how wrong I was. Which I quickly discovered when we were shown into a private room whose only furniture was a table and three chairs. And sitting on the other side of that table, hands and feet securely chained, a smug look upon his face, was none other than the stuff of my nightmares…

Chip…aka the Florida Mangler.

Let the games begin.

to be continued

Now see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb