Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #53 (12.4)

 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. 

Evan has taken on a double shift to help a colleague. Somehow he feels as if it might be better to give Chan and the kids time alone, without him. Yet he feels guilty for feeling that way. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #53 (12.4)

Evan’s night had been a long one, but relatively uneventful. He’d issued warnings to a few speeders, ticketed a couple he recognized as repeat offenders. Helped a stranded motorist with a flat tire and was called to the scene of a domestic dispute which ended with him taking an abusive spouse to jail. Now he was done, paperwork complete and turned in, and he was ready to call it a night.

The trouble was that for once the thought of going home didn’t appeal to him. And that only served to make him feel guiltier than he already felt.

According to the clock in his cruiser, it was already after one. Chan and the kids would be long asleep, so no sense in calling. They wouldn’t miss him, or notice his absence. He tried to tell himself he just wasn’t tired. He wasn’t ready to go to sleep, too wound up from having worked an extra shift. But if he was completely honest with himself, it was much more than that.

He considered just driving around Tucker Falls until he was ready to head back to the house and go to bed. Not that there was exactly anything to see at this time of night. Maybe it was because he spent so much time in his vehicle that it had become a form of refuge for him.

Or a place to hide, he couldn’t help but think.

Not until he found himself driving by Partners did he decide that he could use a night cap. Something to get him through the night. He didn’t really have time for more than a drink or two anyway, since the bars all closed at 2 AM, and last call came at least fifteen minutes before that.

He pulled into the parking lot. Typical Friday night, maybe thinned out just a little due to the lateness of the hour. That and a new place had opened on the other side of town. He’d been meaning to take Chan there, but the opportunity had yet to present itself.

He parked the cruiser away from the other cars and headed inside. He was the object of a few glances as he headed toward the bar, but once they realized he was only there for a drink, not to roust anyone, they relaxed again. Evan wasn’t the only lawman who wore his uniform in Partners, although he didn’t do it that often.

He stood at the bar, surveying the crowd as he waited for the bartender to move his way. He wasn’t sure what or who he was looking for, if anything. In the back of his mind, he’d hoped maybe Roy would be there. That was kind of a long shot, though. He saw no sign of his friend or his boyfriend.

That being the case, he took a seat on a vacant bar stool and ordered a draft when he was asked what he wanted. It was cold and went down smoothly, giving him something to focus on other than himself, or anything else.

Before he realized it, his glass was empty and he ordered a second.

“Put that on my tab and give me the same,” came a voice beside him. Evan turned in surprise to see an older man slide into the seat beside him. Maybe fifty or so, his dark hair was lightly salted with a little white. He wore a dark suit, but had unbuttoned the jacket, revealing the white shirt underneath. He smiled at Evan.

“That’s not necessary,” Evan began but the stranger waved his hand at Evan’s words.

“My pleasure. You looked alone, I’m definitely alone, and you know what they say about drinking alone…”

Evan couldn’t help but ask, “No, what do they say about drinking alone?”

“That you shouldn’t do it.” The man laughed, even as the bartender set their beers in front of them. “And you shouldn’t drink with a stranger either, so let’s get that out of the way. Frank Murdoch.” He held out one hand toward Evan.

“Evan Rainsford,” Evan said, shaking the proffered hand.

“Nice to meet you, Evan,” Frank said. “I guess it’s not going out too far on a limb to ask if you’re in law enforcement.” His gaze raked up and down Evan, making him slightly uncomfortable, although he pushed the feeling aside.

“That’s pretty obvious, I guess.”

“Now it’s your turn to guess what I do.” Frank grinned. “I know what you’re thinking. Funeral home, am I right? People tell me I dress like an undertaker.”

“I wasn’t going to guess that,” Evan admitted. “Honestly, I don’t know. Clothes can be misleading, I’ve learned. Like judging a book by its cover.”

“How right you are,” Frank agreed. “I like the way you think.” He leaned closer to Evan, laying his hand on top of Evan’s arm. Evan automatically moved his arm back, out of reach. The man didn’t seem fazed by Evan’s apparent rejection of his overture. Assuming that’s what that was.

“I’m in insurance, by the way. Auto, life…whatever you need. What do you need, Evan?”

This conversation had taken a sudden turn for the worse, not anything like Evan had envisioned. Although what he thought was going to happen, he couldn’t say either. Before he could tell Frank he had the wrong idea, Frank leaned in close enough to whisper in Evan’s ear.

“I know lonely when I see it, Evan. And you have lonely written all over you. How about you and me go into the back and get un-lonely together?”

Evan fought to keep from showing just how repugnant that idea was. The idea of going back there for any reason was repulsive to him, but especially to be with this man or any other man. He loved Chan, he would never do that to him.

Rising so suddenly, he sent a startled Frank careening back into his seat, he said, “No thank you,” tossed a few bills on the bar and hurried off.

to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

J Alan Veerkamp

Carol Pedroso

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Book Review: White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton


White Trash Warlock      

Author: David R. Slayton

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

American release date:  October 13, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Fantasy/260 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Adam Lee Binder of Oklahoma is on a mission to find the amoral warlock who is making and selling charms at the expense of the misery of members of other species. Being a practitioner of magic himself, Adam takes umbrage at this misuse of magical power, but his search is also a bit personal. He thinks the warlock just might be his dear old dad, long missing in action.

Adam lives in Oklahoma with his Aunt Sue, another practitioner, and has since his release from Liberty House, the cruelty-ridden mental institution where he was relegated as a teen by his older brother, Robert, with the assistance of their mother. Unable to handle Adam’s being different, they shut him away in what was essentially a hell-hole. No wonder he doesn’t exactly stay in close communication now that he’s out and on his own.

However an urgent text from his usually reticent brother sends Adam driving up to his brother’s home in Denver. Bobby’s wife, Annie, is… ill, for lack of a better word, and Bobby think he needs Adam’s expertise to deal with the situation. Looks like a family reunion is in the cards, as their mother, Tilla, is staying with Bobby too.

As far as witches go, well, Adam doesn’t consider himself a witch, and his power is somewhat lacking, but he does believe in patterns. The first mention of Denver came from a Saurian named Bill, the second is that Bobby lives in Denver. And the third has to do with a pool cue Adam is trying to find out about which apparently came from a pawn shop in Denver. So going to Denver becomes a no-brainer.

As Adam nears Denver in his beloved Cutlass, he sees quite the disturbing sight in the form of a large creature hovering above the city, with tendrils that reach into various places, including Bobby’s home.  Probably right into his wife, if what Adam suspects turns out to be true. This task is not going to be easily accomplished, and most likely Adam can’t do this alone. Might even have to talk to the elves about it, which he really doesn’t want to do, seeing as he has an ex who is an elf, one who ran out on him years before, breaking his heart.

Not to mention, elves can be… difficult to deal with.

Damn, life is so complicated.

I was given a copy of this book by my daughter-in-law, and I fell in love with it from the beginning.  In some ways, it reminds me of the Dresden Files, which I also happen to love. And happily this is just the first book in a series.

The writing is great. David Slayton has a deft touch with humor that I can relate to, and his characters come alive on the page. Even the ones you want to punch for being jackasses. Adam is not your typical warlock in that he considers himself to be white trash from Oklahoma, isn’t rich and doesn’t think of himself as particularly good-looking, not to mention that being locked up in a mental institution as a teenager has given him serious insecurity issues. But I think he’s great, and a much better person than he realizes. He just needs to find the right person who can convince him that he is worth loving. The story is very imaginative, and I love the different types of supernatural beings we get to see, including but not limited to Saurians, elves, leprechauns, and gnomes. And let’s not forget Death and death reapers. Throw in a little romance, and I’m in heaven.

The only criticism I can really make is that the book would have benefited from a little more careful editing, but that’s because I’m an editor and I notice these things. Most people wouldn’t. I look forward to reading more books in the series, whenever they are published.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #52 (12.3)

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. 

Evan is beginning to doubt himself and his relationship with Chan's siblings. Maybe he isn't what they need. Maybe he's doing things all wrong. See what's happening in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #52 (12.3)

Evan sat lost in thought in the station break room. His pad of tickets lay open on the table before him as well as a cup of coffee. He’d been asked to trade shifts for tonight and had readily agreed. Not only would he be helping a fellow trooper, but he couldn’t help but think in the back of his mind that maybe the others would like a night without him being there.

Not Chan, of course, he hastily told himself. He meant the children. But that thought felt disloyal as well.  As did his relief at not being there. And that only made him feel guilty on top of everything else.

Maybe he’d been too harsh with Kamal the night before. He tried to make allowances for the boy. He’d been through a lot recently. He was still very young. And just maybe he didn’t realize how much words could hurt.

On the other hand, Evan knew he meant what he said when he reminded him that Chan was his brother, not Evan. Evan knew he wasn’t their brother, but it wasn’t like he was a passing stranger either. He had a place in their lives now, whether they liked it or not. Whether they cared to admit it or not.

Evan had called Chan earlier, just to see how things were going. And what Chan had said was disturbing. At least, to him it was. Apparently he’d taken all of them out to dinner. As though what happened yesterday didn’t matter. As if his feelings were of no consequence.

Stop thinking that way, you’re a grown man. Suck it up.

Maybe they would just be better off without him…

The sound of a throat clearing drew him from his reveries. He glanced up to find Christina standing in the doorway.

“I was going to offer you a penny for your thoughts but I didn’t want to startle you,” she said as she entered the room and took a seat beside him. “You okay?”

Evan automatically responded with his standard line of “I’m fine.” He couldn’t help but notice that Christina had changed out of her uniform and into a pretty blue dress that fell just below her knees. She’d draped a lacy white shawl around her shoulders. He could detect the faintest hint of floral scent around her. It didn’t require much detective work to guess where she was going, and with whom.

The look she gave him told him he was wasting his time trying to fool her. She knew him too well for that.

“Just dealing with things,” he amended. “Trying to, anyway.” He wasn’t being deliberately vague. He appreciated her concern, but he found it hard to explain something he didn’t completely understand himself. “So, you and Nate going out tonight?”

If he’d hoped to deflect her with tactic, her next words told him she wouldn’t be so easily sidetracked.

“We are, yes.” She reached across the table and took his hand in hers. He could see concern in her pretty brown eyes. “I know there’s a lot going on, with you and Chan and his family. You’ve all been through so much. It must be so hard to lose your parents like that, especially at such a young age.”

Evan nodded, not trusting his voice, and unsure what to say.

“It must be especially hard for you guys. I mean, you haven’t been going out very long, or living together very long. And suddenly you have a family to take care of. I’m sure that wasn’t what you planned, was it?”

“No, I can’t say it was,” Evan admitted. “But that’s not the point. It’s happened. I need to deal with it.”

We need to deal with it,” he corrected himself. But even to himself, he sounded weak. Like he was trying to avoid blame, which wasn’t the case at all.

Was it?

“Children are very resilient, you know,” Christina said, her expression serious as she held his gaze. “And they can also be very cruel. They haven’t learned not to say exactly what they’re thinking at all times, like adults have. They just say what comes to mind and never mind the consequences.”

A moment of silence passed between them as Evan gathered his thoughts. “I appreciate honesty,” he said at last. “I’m just not sure if they like me at all. Like maybe they think I don’t belong there. I’m an outsider, when they just want Chan, and I’m in the way.”

Damn, he hadn’t even said these things to Chan. How did Christina manage to get him to talk to her so candidly?

“Give them time,” she said as she gently patted his hand. “Don’t give up on them. They just don’t know you yet and they’re used to having Chan’s undivided attention, am I right?”

“I guess so.” Evan knew she was right about that. Chan had told him he hadn’t brought anyone to his parents’ house before Evan, so his siblings had never had to deal with his romantic life before. And on top of that, their parents just died. He needed to learn more compassion.

So why did he suddenly feel so out of place?

 to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

 Cia Nordwell

J Alan Veerkamp

Carol Pedroso





Sunday, January 10, 2021

Book Review: Blue Exorcist, Vol 24 by Kazue Kato


Blue Exorcist, Vol 24        

Author: Kazue Kato

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: August 4, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/234 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Eighteen hours have passed since Yuri’s labor began and she is no closer to delivery than she was when it started. Because of the cradle barrier, medical experts are unable to give her an injection, and she is exhausted.  Not to mention that during this ordeal, the poor woman is on display, and there’s nothing anyone (meaning Shiro) can do about it. He is helpless to help her. Yuri pushes hard and manages to birth the first child, which has its own consequences. Poor Rin, an unseen silent witness to the events of the past, becomes convinced more than ever that he should never have been born.

Sir Pheles feels Rin’s pain and removes him to another place.

Meanwhile, aboard the airship Dominus Liminus, Yukio has been summoned by the commander, Lucifer, who informs him that his test results are back. While Yukio is not a demon, he is not exactly a normal human either. Yukio’s left eye shows signs of severe temptaint, which is probably why Satan is able to use the eye as a window onto Assiah.

Lucifer decides to play tour guide and takes Yukio around his airship. A set of twin pistols catches Yukio’s eye. Turns out they are the test type and prototype of the Armumahel gun and its power “has the same qualities as the black flame” they consider to be “the flame of Gehenna.” In a surprise move, Lucifer offers the guns to Yukio and he accepts.  However, Lucifer explains, before Yukio can wield both weapons, his arm needs to be repaired, which could take five or six weeks. But there is a way in which it could be done in only one day…

Lewin Light (aka Lightning) is on trial for his attack on Director Drac Dragelescu. Lightning attempts to tell them (including Arthur Angel) that Drac has been working for the enemy, working at producing clones of demons. That doesn’t go very well, so now it’s up to Suguro to find the proof of Lightning’s innocence. Is he up to the task?

Shima gives Yukio some confidential information and tells him to do with it what he will. Yukio can’t help but wonder which side Shima is on. Shima says he wonders the same thing about Yukio. But what Shima tells him about Lucifer constantly changing bodies makes sense and explains much. Also explains much about Dragulescu.

The evidence of Dragulescu’s perfidy comes a day late and a dollar short as the man has flown the coop. Meanwhile, Lucifer has allowed Yukio to witness the experiment involving so-called “chosen ones” for whom this is not their first time at the rodeo. And now Lucifer reveals the reason for wanting Yukio to be present at this time…

Shiemi finds herself among the Grigori as an honored guest and given a complete make-over. They refer to her as Lady Shiemi and her wish is their command. She is unsure of why she is there. And she makes an unexpected discovery…

I’ve been waiting a long time for this next volume, and it doesn’t disappoint. On the contrary, I am now impatient for the next one. I only hope the wait is shorter.

Rin is beginning to think he should never have been born, as if his birth was the cause of anything. I hope he gets over this soon. Yukio, on the other hand, has come back into my good graces. I should have known better. The jury is still out on Shima. Suguro is pretty awesome, and has been trained well by Lightning, who isn’t as useless as he often seems. Even Mephisto Pheles shows an uncanny knack for knowing where and when he is needed and what to do in any given situation.

I still feel bad for Yuri. She was used as a pawn for something that was none of her fault. The heart loves where it loves. Not enough Shiro in this volume, but that’s not unexpected. Important things are happening, I can’t wait to see what they are. Another great volume of Blue Exorcist!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #50 (12.1)

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. 

Chan finds himself stressed out by work, and wonders if he might be driving Evan away. See what's happening with them in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #50 (12.1)

Chan’s head throbbed, a pounding rhythm which made thinking difficult at best. The numbers on the balance sheet sitting on his desk refused to add up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he was also acting as head teller, as the previous one had abruptly quit one day and moved away from Tucker Falls. Announced she was chasing her dream of being a circus performer. Seriously? That meant he had to make sure the tellers each balanced their drawers before leaving. And sometimes that was just easier said than done. Not to mention one of the regular tellers was out sick, and one of the two savings counselors was on medical leave for another couple of weeks. Altogether that meant longer hours for Chan, but what could he do? He had children to provide for.

He’d applied for social security on his siblings’ behalf, but that would take a little time to process. And whenever it did start, he would set it aside for them, to go toward their future education. He would provide for their needs without touching that money. Evan had agreed that was the thing to do.


Chan sighed and closed his eyes momentarily against the pain. Evan was being so good about everything, he couldn’t be any sweeter. But things at home were not going exactly smoothly. Not for lack of trying. The children… well, they were children. And he wasn’t mad at them, he could never be. They’d been through so much.

And yet, life would be much easier if they were a little bit better behaved. And by they he actually meant Kamal. Laksha was always a little lady. Maybe she was a little more quiet than usual, but at least she wasn’t acting out like their brother. Madhu, on the other hand, was worrisome. She spoke even less than before and he seldom saw her smile anymore.

Why was life so damn complicated?

Chan opened his eyes and glanced at the time on his computer screen. Almost four. Normally, he’d be leaving soon, but he didn’t think he’d be on time tonight any more than he had been the past few nights. Evan should be headed home, if he wasn’t there already. What to do about dinner? He could ask Evan what he wanted, and then take it from there.

A mere moment later, Chan’s cell began to ring. He recognized Evan’s ringtone immediately, a song they both loved. In spite of his headache, Chan smiled as he answered.

“Hello,” he greeted Evan. “I was just thinking of you.”

“I like the sound of that,” Evan replied. “How’s your day going?”

“Don’t ask.” Chan tried not to whine, but sometimes he could hear it in his own voice, and he hated his weakness.

Chan heard a knock at his door. He barely had time to tell Evan to hold on a sec when it opened and a young blonde teller’s face appeared. Cindy was in her early twenties and had only been working at the saving and loan for a couple of weeks. Her smile was both apprehensive and apologetic. “I’m sorry, Mr. Basu. I hate to bother you… but…”

She didn’t have to finish that sentence. Chan knew instantly what was coming. “I’ll be happy to help you balance,” he said softly. “And please, it’s Chan.”

“Thank you… Chan,” she amended and made an immediate withdrawal.

Chan returned to his phone call. “I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I have to go. The new teller…”

“Don’t be sorry, it’s your job. Tell you what, when you get off, why don’t we take the kids out for burgers? They love those.”

That was very true. While his mother had raised them on many traditional Hindu dishes, they’d also eaten their fair share of American cuisine and thrived on it. His family was very American in that regard. Burgers, pizza… they loved it all.

“That’s a splendid idea, thank you.” At least dinner would be taken care of, one less worry. At least for tonight.

“Call me when you’re on your way and I’ll make sure they’re ready to go,” Evan said.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.”

“Don’t thank me, I love you, Chan. I’d do anything for you.”

Chan’s heart swelled at his lover’s words, knew they were true. “I love you too, Evan,” he said. “I’ll call as soon as I can.” Once he’d hung up, Chan sat there for a moment, replaying Evan’s words, basking in the glow of his love, albeit over the phone.

Oh yeah. Cindy. Work before play. He briefly massaged his temple before exiting his office to help the young woman balance her drawer so everyone could go home on time. Hopefully.

 to be continued

Now go visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them!

Cia Nordwell

J Alan Veerkamp

Carol Pedroso