Category Archives: Murder

Introducing “A Slice of the Adirondacks” (Trio 2, Story 4)

Have You Ever Left Your Kids With Babysitters and Worried?This story was inspired by a family visit to upstate New York and the enormous Adirondack State Park. The statistics on the park size are astonishing: it covers more land area than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined. I guess New York state is kinda big.

On such a vast backdrop, I wanted to write a small story. An old man, Walter, goes swimming every morning, but one day is disturbed by some kids. It turns out bad weather puts their lives at risk, and the old fella is there to act as their savior. But not before they are forced to spend a night on an island in the middle of the lake…not far from shore, but too far to risk using the boat to get back. Has he really saved them?

The effect is a kind of cross between Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons or C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and a story of brooding horror. If Jonathan Swift got hold of it, Walter as the traveling anti-hero would be the Brobdingnagian giant to the kids’ Lilliputians. You just can’t trust big people.

The story might be seen as sinister and creepy and I’m fine with that. 🙂 Ultimately, I wanted it to be a story about irresponsibility (the absentee parents and absentee babysitters) and accusation (of the old man). An old man left alone with some kids must be up to no good, and yet events might prove otherwise. To accompany the story, there is also Video 4, Have You Ever Left Your Kids With Babysitters and Worried?

A Slice of the Adirondacks” is Story 4 in my writing sequence, and will appear in Trio 2, A Slice of the Adirondacks and Other Capers.

 

 

“The Last Page of Friendship” – why is friendship a combat sport?

friend-best-friendEveryone knows the scenario. You make a new friend, or you have an old friend you want to hold onto, but how to keep in touch? What happens when someone drops the ball? Is it your turn to make contact, or theirs? Who’s the bad person?

Friendship is one of the greatest loves, Platonic. It’s free of the often volatility of romantic love, whose intensity that can breed suspicion. Friendship is known as a calmer, more rewarding, often more long-term affair. Your best friends can be with you for life, longer than many relationships, even longer than your family. The demands are few, the support long-term; plus you picked your friends, so presumably you enjoy their personality, their humor, their giving emotional support. They’re just fun to be around.

But throw in a little business, a little competitive spirit, and what have you got? Yup, a mixed metaphor, a ticking time bomb and recipe for absolute disaster. Such is it in the third story of my first collection of three stories, Trio 1, The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes.

In “The Last Page of Friendship,” Judy and Soo are successful middle-aged women living the American Dream (big homes, families, money to spare). They live on the beautiful Bainbridge Island near Seattle. But they have reached a level where dissatisfaction creeps in, with only coffee mornings to complain how drab and predictable their lives have become. To gain attention, meaning, maybe a little fame, why not become writers?

Aside from the incredible difficulty of this pursuit, of making the world sit up and care, they don’t dwell too long on how it might affect their being pals. But it does…and badly. Check out my website to read the first page of “The Last Page of Friendship,” a horror story to put you off being a writer for life (and that’s a good thing).

Judy and Soo made the mistake of picking the same dream. That’s what makes friendship a combat sport — it works best when your circles intersect, but don’t completely overlap. Instead, their friendship turns inward, self-consuming, nasty. Toxic, as the Americans say. Who will get the upper hand? Write the best story? Resist not plagiarizing her friend’s story? Try and be the one to stay above ground a little longer? BFNs: best friends for never.

Who needs friends when you have best friends?

Trio 1 publishing on November 5, 2015 (Stories 1-3)

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes (cover)I can now confirm that the first three stories of Rising Apes, Falling Angels will publish on November 5, 2015. They will form a standalone trio (Trio 1) called The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes.

Each story focuses on a particular theme: fraud in “The Man in Gray Tie,” consent in “(He) Said, (She) Said” and plagiarism in “The Last Page of Friendship.” Well, plus a little cheating, lust and murder!

The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com (in Kindle, nook and iBook formats).

Roll on November 5, 2015!

Videos live on YouTube (Stories 1-3)

Parkgate Press You Tube ChannelThe videos for Stories 1-3 are now live on YouTube. All three are viewable here on the Parkgate Press YouTube Channel. They are narrated by my slightly mad brother, Frankie. He’s even created his own corner for reviewing my stories, and called it, well, Frankie’s Corner.

Each video corresponds to the story from The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes, with a tag line that reflects that story’s theme. For example, Video 1 is titled “Have You Ever Gambled and Won Something You Couldn’t Afford?” since Story 1, “The Man in Gray Tie,” is about a man who fraudulently pushes the prices up at auctions. He gets what he deserves, but not before he wins something he couldn’t pay for….

Video 2 is titled “Have You Ever Crossed a Line of Decency You Shouldn’t Have?” and reflects the theme of consent in Story 2, “(He) Said, (She) Said.” It’s a story about consent, set on a London college campus close to Tottenham Court Road. Do you believe what he said, or she said? Who drank too much, but who slipped away in the morning?

Finally, Video 3 is titled “Would You Go Into Business With Your Best Friend?” and reflects the theme of plagiarism in “The Last Page of Friendship.” Two Seattle women want to write the Great American Short Story. Have they got what it takes? Who is prepared to go further than her best frenemy?

Introducing “The Last Page of Friendship” (Trio 1, Story 3)

Rock, Paper, Scissors --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThis story was inspired by two events, the first being a visit to Seattle,which plays a large part in the story, from downtown and the Space Needle, the infamous drizzly weather, to the ferry over to Bainbridge Island, a secluded an affluent enclave where you wouldn’t expect bad things to happen.

The Last Page of Friendship” is the tale of two middle-aged women, old friends who have reached a plateau in life: married, bored, and seeking career revitalization. What better way than becoming writers for redeeming their flagging egos, shoring up their reputations, and giving a competitive jolt to their friendship. Only things go too far…

Which brings me to the other aspect of the story, namely a percolating interest in the case of Juliet Hulme, who along with her adolescent best friend, Pauline Parker murdered Parker’s mother, Honorah Rieper. The fact that Juliet Hulme went on to become best-selling crime novelist Anne Perry, is another twist in the real-life tale. (Her story was adapted into Peter Jackson’s 1994 movie Heavenly Creatures starring Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey).

Rather than involve intervening parents, “The Last Page of Friendship” makes the women middle-aged, and uses Seattle as a backdrop. The engine of the crime is their literary rivalry, which could only form in the cauldron of an over-intense friendship. People seem to be more ardent on oneupmanship when it focuses on those in their inner circle. A little schadenfreude never hurt anyone. 🙂 And these women are not used to losing.

What could possibly go wrong?

…And Other Crimes…Inspired by a Spike Lee Joint

spike-lee-joint-1.2A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering how to title my first collection of three stories. Since they were crime stories, I hit on the idea of replacing Stories with Crimes, so instead of The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Stories, I settled on The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes.

I owe this homage to a memory of Spike Lee titling his movies ‘joints’ rather than ‘movies,’ ever since I saw Lee’s joint Do the Right Thing. The opening credits got a laugh just by announcing ‘A Spike Lee Joint.’ Entertainment first! Plus you can get high off a Spike Lee film.

Henceforth, my ‘stories’ for my Trio 1 will be known as ‘crimes,’ hence the title The Man in the Gray Tie and Other Crimes. Fraud is the focus of “The Man in Gray Tie,” consent in “(He) Said, (She) Said,” and plagiarism in “The Last Page of Friendship.”

Smoke ’em if you got ’em.