Twisted Endings March 2014
Welcome to Twisted Endings THE MAGAZINE FOR LOVERS
OF UNPREDICTABLE PLOT TWISTS
Frequency: March & September Founding Editor: Monique Berry Designer: Monique Berry
Website: http://twistedendings.webs.com Email: email@example.com Twitter: @1websurfer
Table of Contents 3
The Founder’s Brief
Ensenada in Summer by Dan Delehant
The Meal by Jon Moray
A Little Bit of Murder by Shannon Hollinger
Rendezvous by Irina Glazkova
Self-Improvement by Andrew Sacks
Planning Ahead by Rebecca Rose Taylor
Glory Days by N. Edson Cunniff
The Old Triumphator by Colin W. Campbell
Twisted Endings Revealed
Cover:© pst / DollarPhotoClub © robertosch / DollarPhotoClub
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The Founder’s Brief Just a few things on my mind… First, for the past three months I’ve been dancing through the streets of my mind. I celebrated two birthdays: Twisted Endings and Halcyon. They both turned one year old! A big thank you to the regular and new contributors who took a chance on being published in my magazines. Second, I am resurrecting Perspectives. I started it in 2006 and folded its pages in July 2012. It was based on giving inanimate objects life—letting them describe their world. I had too much fun to let it die. Now that I have gained experience, I’m bringing it back. The frequency and guidelines are in the works. Check out http://1perspectives.webs.com/archives.htm to see all of the all the archived objects. Finally, readers have been suggesting I experiment with themes. I’m not sure if the idea will work, but am willing to consider it. I hope this issue brings you lots of “I-didn't-see-this-coming” moments! Until next time, keep the keyboard clicking and the ink flowing!
Founding Editor @ MoniquesMags @1websurfer
Twisted Endings March 2014
Ensenada in Summer By Dan Delehant Certain experiences in our lives can render meaningless the rest of our remaining time here. “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun.”
dd, that she should now, after all these years, come into my mind. I closed my eyes and saw her again. I was sitting at the rear of my little trailer looking out the window toward the beach. I had just finished tapping out a few pages of my doomed novel. Juliet was coming out of the surf. The Ensenada summer sun was at its meridian and beaming brightly down on the pristine white sand. She pulled her long black hair to one side and was wringing the saltwater from it as she walked slowly out of the foaming shallows. So lovely was she that Botticelli would have made her his Venus. She stopped and spoke to Lupita and her little daughter. Lupita was the manager at the trailer park. They were the only people on the beach. Juliet slipped her exquisite feet into her sandals and bent gracefully forward, her hands holding her twisted tresses, and kissed the little girl on her cheek. The three of them laughed over something and then Juliet continued across the sun-slammed sand up towards the trailer. Over the years I have been with some very attractive women, but there was something about Juliet’s beauty that was different – shocking even. I’ve tried to describe it many times but always felt I could not fully capture it. Photographs sometimes came close, but one had to see her in the flesh, hear her melodic voice, experience her graceful movements, to truly know the aspect of her beauty. The previous evening, while out to dinner with her at La Bahia, I couldn’t help but notice everyone in the restaurant was either outright staring at her, or, if they were more respectful of their dinner partner, sneaking looks at her. I was quite familiar with her commanding such attention. Such was the manner and might of her beauty and presence. She was not tall. That, I’m sure, thwarted her modeling career and her nose was perhaps just a centimeter longer than she would have preferred. She was Lebanese and that caused her consternation since the locals assumed she was Mexican and spoke the language. In fact, that was how I met her. She was my student in my Spanish for English Speakers class here in town at the Language Center. I suspect it was her eyes that gave her beauty its distinctive majesty. With all her make-up applied, and she often wore a lot of it, she was striking, but never before or since, have
I known a woman whose eyes were even more alluring without make-up. As she came nearer the trailer she noticed me looking out at her and smiled and waved. Her white bikini was the very color of the steaming sand and it stood in stark contrast to her Mediterranean, olive-hued skin. She tossed her head as beauties do, and her wet hair traced a waterslinging, wide black arc in the high-sun salt air. It was at that precise moment I recalled myself thinking, Shall I ever know a moment of grandeur in my life to surpass this? I remembered too that I was sitting at the little desk in the madrugada with the white beams of a full westering Baja moon coming through the trailer’s open window. Close by, the goddess-eyed beauty of The Levant lay abed. The lambent moonbeams softly illumined her as she lay nude and sleeping. Transfixed by this miracle of light and beauty I composed a Shakespearian corruption of some lines from Romeo and Juliet.
f course, she is an old woman now, just as I am an old man. It confounds me, in a pleasing sort of way, that at this moment, so far removed in time from that idyllic summer on the sand in Ensenada, that it is she who floods my mind. My reverie ends. The screaming, wailing, sobbing, and praying comes pounding back into my ears. Reluctantly, I open my eyes. My beautiful Juliet dissolves and disappears into the smoke-filled, ill-lit darkness. I sense the plane plummeting! In the window seat beside me, a young man, with whom but scant seconds before I was politely debating politics with, was now looking at me with eyes wide with the terror of impending death! Past him, through the doomed plane’s window, I could see the wing ablaze! A thought, my penultimate one, came into my brain. No doubt the pilot was putting the plane into such a severe dive hoping to extinguish the flames. Then came a blinding flash and a roaring, fatal concussion! I saw a flood of fire come through the stricken jet’s metallic wall as it were mere rice paper! The last thing I recall is the young man beside me trying to scream above the din and his face instantly dissolving in a fury of fuel-fire! “Hark! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the midnight – and beautiful Juliet is the moon.”
DAN DELEHANT has had stories appear in The Other Herald Magazine (Oct. 2011 & Jan 2014), Alfie Dog Magazine, Future in Flash online Magazine, and Twisted Endings Magazine. (March 2013) He and his wife Dora live in Whittier, CA. 4 | Twisted Endings March 2014
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Twisted Endings March 2014
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Glory Days By N. Edson Cunniff The Duchess is taken off-guard when her limousine stops in front of a strange building. Despite fearing her chauffeur's deception, she enters and encounters leather straps, mattresses, chains, and cages. What she will endure when escape becomes impossible?
he Duchess knew nothing.
She knew only that she was taking a ride somewhere to do something. That was enough to know; because, more than anything, she enjoyed exploring new places. Like true royalty, she preferred the back seat of the car; it made her feel important, as if she was someone special. Of course, we all knew she was special. After all, she was The Duchess. With her eyes planted on the winding road ahead and her nose attuned to the everchanging scents of the passing countryside, the fresh breeze from the open window tossed her salt and pepper hair in a helter-skelter fashion. She liked it when people smiled as she passed by, enjoyed their admiration, inhaled it as though it were life’s sweet breath. Despite her royal blood, she never once acted like she was better than others, and despite the
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“Despite her royal blood, she never once acted like she was better than others...”
excessive pampering she received, she never flaunted. In fact, she showed more gratitude than would have been expected from such royalty; because of her sense of gratitude, she had a healthy outlook on life. Something as simple as a ride in the country pleased her. Destination was unimportant. What mattered was the journey. She was wise for her forty-nine years,
and if life had taught her nothing else, it was that each day was to be enjoyed to its fullest. These were the Glory Days and the Duchess was in her glory. Today, however, as her driver helped her from the car, a sense of trepidation overcame her. Where was she? An unfamiliar and foreboding building loomed before her. Everything about it seemed bazaar. What was this place? For what reason was she brought here? Why hadn’t she been consulted in this matter? She hesitated as she approached the door to the brick, windowless structure. With a nod, the chauffeur encouraged her to continue. Feeling an uncharacteristic sense of trepidation, she balked. A shiver of fear shot from her legs, along her spine, up her long neck, and into her brain. Her breathing quickened. Her heart skipped a beat. She made an involuntary whimpering sound, then embarrassed at her cowardice, cast her deep set eyes to the ground. She was terrified. Normally, she welcomed a challenge, but today was different. Her loyal and trusty chauffer reassured her, however, and although she still felt an innate sense of foreboding, she reluctantly agreed to enter the building. Once inside, her brown eyes scanned the narrow room. On each of the two side walls, hung various odd-shaped items: long leather straps, chains, scissors, and collars. Odd shaped mattresses leaned heavily on the third wall. In front of the fourth, at the far end of the room, were several cages. Most alarming, were the boxes of bones that lay in the middle of the room. Bones of every imaginable shape and color! What manner of beast would accumulate such paraphernalia? For what sadistic purpose? One could not help but wonder. A strange, perplexing odor permeated the air. What was that smell? The Duchess raised her head and sniffed. It was a dank smell, an odd combination-muddy swamp water tickled with the scent of coconut or lilac, perhaps. To make matters worse, from the rear of the building came an ungodly cacophony of sounds--whimpering, howling, sniffling, mewling sounds. Deep throated unfriendly growls that were so loud that the Duchess’ tiny ears could hardly bear the noise. What was going on? Was this all part of a devious plan, a conspiracy to dethrone her? Was this the end of her glory days?
chauffeur interceded. Using unnecessary force, he yanked her back. He slammed the door shut. She shuddered. Her eyes searched for another way of escape. Another door perhaps or even a window? There was nothing. No door. No window. Not even a safe place to crawl into. There was no way to escape. It was hopeless. How could she, the royal Duchess, have been so trusting? Devastated and defeated, she collapsed onto the floor. Her life of royalty had barely begun; now it was over. Then, with the speed of a greyhound, the situation changed. Her chauffer, the secret love of her life, took sudden pity on her. He bent down by her side and stroked her hair. He held her tight, and embraced her tenderly. Then he whispered his reassurance. “It’s okay, Duchie. Nobody’s going to hurt you. You can trust me.” It was not the words he uttered, but the way they were said. How could she ever have doubted him? Given that tiny bit of reassurance, she felt tremendous relief. She leapt upon her trusty chauffeur, kissed his face, his arms, his elbows! What did it matter where she was? She was safe with him! Then, from the back of the room, came an unfamiliar voice. “First time here?” The Duchess was confused. What was he talking about? She searched the chauffeur’s eyes for an answer. “Yep.” “What’s she having?” “Give her the works. Nothing but the best for our Duchess.” Hearing brightened.
And so began one of the most memorable experiences in the Duchess’ life. A day we will always remember. It was her Day of Glory and I, the designated driver, a chauffeur in her eyes, had the privilege to watch.
On impulse, the Duchess bolted for the open door. She ran for her life! But to no avail; the Formerly a computer programmer, NANCY CUNNIFF’S passion is writing. Although she lives in Pembroke, MA, she’s been leader of the Lakeville group for ten years. Nancy has self-published two books: Dodging Peach Stones, a novel about unexpected deception in the 50’s, and Bits and Pieces, an anthology of short stories. In addition, she’s edited and self-published a group anthology of poems and short stories, Word by Word.
Twisted Endings March 2014
Book Bazaar *** Discount Table
© rachwal / DollarPhotoClub
Self-Improvement By Andrew Sacks What can happen when a woman plans a sly revenge on a co-worker who annoys her?
renda Simpson was certainly no stranger to bookstores. No libraries, mind you, but bookstores. The libraries she knew did not feature the occasional pleasant little café area or Starbucks for a short sip, munch, and look around, as shopping bags, heavy or light, rested on their own. And lately, she had more and more sought out the two or three such venues near her apartment: book browsing, trinket handling, and invariably settling at a little table for two near a window to take stock of things. Her thirtieth birthday last June had come and gone with something less than the resultant ennui her chattery, friendly female officemates had promised her. Brenda had a loving family, a few genuine friends, and the current, and admittedly, customary lack of a male escort and close 8 | Twisted Endings March 2014
companion was surely nothing to be overly concerned about: she was smart enough, educated enough, pretty enough, and, even, self-confident enough. So there. She ruminated thusly one Saturday late afternoon at a table at Book Bazaar. In fact, she smiled an audible snickering smile at the thoughts. Many would envy her and her current blessings and freedoms, that’s for certain. The next Saturday she was back. A more than usually lengthy early afternoon shopping expedition had her a bit tired, and she plopped into the same chair, this time before any book purchase considerations. Perfect little seat and table and view. This was her place, she decided. In fact, she had patiently waited nearly 15 minutes for the spot to be available, bags and parcels resting comfortably on a
long bar-like counter nearby. I mean, it was surely nothing so unusual to feel most comfortable in some certain location in a room: students do it all the time in classrooms, by their own choice. In fact, another harmless little routine had commenced that day, with parking in the Book Bazaar parking lot (not necessarily in the very same parking spot—not if it was currently unavailable, of course), walking past the bookstore and to the beginning, on the south end of the four-block shopping district, then casually strolling up the blocks and stopping in whatever retail outlet struck her fancy, and concluding with the bookstore café. Then it would be back to the car. All natural enough—and in fact rather well strategized, she couldn’t help but think. Three Saturdays later, sitting and sipping at her customary spot, after an unusually long turn around the bookshelves, Brenda firmly fixed her thoughts on co-worker Marcy Blair. “Mrs. Blair. Unbelievable! She talks of nothing but the dubious achievements of her three kids and her lazy, apparently good-for-very-little husband. She has all the grace and subtlety of your average firecracker. She has all the sex appeal of a frog. Maybe the educational background of a steelworker or something. And yet she has the nerve to lecture me about sociability, about “branching out,” about involvement….” “Is there something wrong with your latte?” asked a perky barista. Brenda started and looked blankly at her. “Well, it’s just you were shaking your head, so….” “Oh, no. No, no, no. It’s just fine!” Brenda remonstrated, a little perturbed at the intrusion on her silent monologue. “Thank you, though,” she said in pleasant enough recovery, smiled forcedly, and rather quickly picked up her two medium-sized bags and was out the door. The next few weeks, through November and head-on into the crush of the holiday season, went by in a progressively mad flurry. But it was more the rush of traffic and shoppers than the purchasing and wrapping of gifts for Brenda. There were some to buy and deck out, of course, but the total started seeming to her somehow on the measly end—as talk
at work turned more and more to such activities, including the annual “Secret Santa” gift-exchanging tradition. About a week before Christmas, Brenda arrived at the Bazaar to find all café area seats taken and an unofficial waiting line of hovering, hawk-like prospective seatees. It was therefore to be a few turns around the shelves. Perhaps a seat and some sipping later. Before she had stepped four paces, a vibrantly decorated display rack caught her eye. Copy after copy of the same cover and title, complete with heartwarming image of a woman so pleased, so obviously proud, so secure in all aspects of her life, that it fairly cried out of contentment. Be Yourself by Next Christmas. “That’s it! Epiphany city! Ok, where are the rest of the self-help books? Where’s that section? Ok, Mrs. Blair—there’s a Secret Santa coming for you…” Scampering, though bag-ridden, Brenda located the sought-for section without the assistance of an employee. She proceeded to approach her task systematically, viewing each and every title. At least fifteen hectically-spent minutes passed before she reached the titles on the bottommost right. But still no perfect title. Brenda shook her head in rising exasperation and emitted an audible sigh. Just then, a passing employee approached. Brenda knew her. She beckoned animatedly. “Can you help me find a self-help book with a title that just screams out the bottom-of-the-barrel coming, that just cries of desperation and need, that simply reeks of a last chance at normality--and even sanity?” Her eyes widened in imploration and her arms involuntarily reached out. “You know, Ms. Simpson, I must say, I’m just soo proud of you! Most people wouldn’t have the nerve to ask someone here about a book like that.”
ANDREW SACKS is a college Professor of English, currently teaching in two local community colleges in the Southern California area. He is also a rated chess master. Andrew’s freelance literary output includes article on chess, and flash fiction, as well as parodies of well-known poems. Contact Andrew: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twisted Endings March 2014
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A Little Bit of Murder By Shannon Hollinger A murdered body in a locked room with no way out ... it's not just another mystery. It's not a mystery at all.
And you’re absolutely positive that the door was locked when you got here?” Detective Shaw asked the young uniform, a look of doubt on his face.
“Yes sir. We got the landlord to unlock the door for us, but it was dead-bolted from the inside. We had to take the door off the hinges to get in.” “What did you touch when you went inside?” “Nothing sir. We could tell that the guy was dead from the doorway. We called you and the crime scene techs immediately. I never even stepped a foot across the threshold.” “Hmmm,” the detective commented. This case was causing his gut to sour already. “And the windows?” “Nailed shut, sir. One of the techs tried to open one after dusting for prints. She said she wanted to
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crack it a little, let some fresh air in. You know, because of the smell.” “Yeah, I know,” the detective said wryly. He didn’t need some snot nosed kid to tell him that the room smelled. The tenant must have had ten cats in the tiny studio apartment. He’d have to check with animal control later, see how many they had removed. They were lucky the overgrown rats hadn’t started gnawing on the corpse yet. “And the room was searched?” “Yes sir, when the techs got here, they had my partner secure the scene. Checked the closet, the shower, under the bed . . .” “And the techs found?” “Nothing of interest, sir. They did a thorough search, I watched them, but with all this mess . . .” “Uhuh. And the M.E.?”
“The Medical Examiner said the preliminary indications pointed to strangulation, but the ligature wasn’t with the body. It had been removed.” “So. The door was bolted from the inside, the windows were nailed shut, the guy on the bed was dead, but his death was a homicide, so at some point, someone was in here with him, and they had to have gotten out some way,” he thought out loud. “That’s right sir. We have ourselves a real locked room mystery. I thought those only happened on TV,” the young cop said excitedly. “They do. There’s always an explanation. Always.” The kid was annoying him, this case was annoying him, and the stench of cat piss was annoying him. He’d had enough. “Well, thanks for your help officer. I’m sure there are other matters that need your attention. I’ve got this from here.” He gleaned a small bit of joy from the disappointed look earned by his dismissal. He turned his back on the kid to make sure he got his point across, heard the trudge of reluctant steps as the kid shuffled toward the elevator. Now he could get to work. He started to the right of the door, where the floor met the wall, following the union around the room, moving furniture, avoiding cat piles, until he found himself at the door again. A solid hour of scouring produced nothing at the floor seam and nothing in the walls. He grabbed a broom, which had probably never been used, and began exploring where the ceiling met the wall, again traveling around the room. He painstakingly probed every inch of the ceiling with the broom handle. He poked at the junction of the ceiling fan, with its large frond shaped blades. Still nothing. Changing tactics, he searched the room for a plastic bag that wasn’t dripping with piss, and then used it to protect his slacks as he got down on his hands and knees, methodically trying every tile on the floor. Even after moving the bed, refrigerator, and stove to check under them, he still came up with nothing. He checked under the sink. He checked the window frames. Checked the nails that bound them shut. He checked the glass in the sills. He checked the door frame. He checked the locks and the hinges.
Stepping into the hall for a moment of fresher air, he called the Medical Examiner’s Office. Cause of death had been conclusively determined. The victim had been strangled. Trace evidence suggested a cord coated with plastic. Their best guess was an old fashioned phone cord. Detective Shaw went back into the room, crossed to where he had encountered the ancient relic of a phone during his search. He confirmed that the cord was missing. So if the stiff had somehow managed to strangle himself, where had the cord gone to? He tossed the place, moving the contents from one corner of the room to the other, searching every inch for the missing phone cord. He couldn’t find it anywhere. He even checked the toilet tank, down the drains, inside the oven, the cabinets, and the refrigerator. He wasn’t ready to give up, but he couldn’t think of anything else to try at the moment. The thought disgusted him, but maybe the kid was right. Maybe this was one of those locked door mysteries that they needed Sherlock Holmes to solve. He strung crime scene tape across the door. The scene should be fine for a bit while he went downstairs to get some fresh air and clear his head. After Detective Shaw had been gone for a few minutes, there was a shuffling sound. Soft grunts uttered with exertion. A thud on the floor. It hadn’t been an easy life for Timmy Boyles. He’d never enjoyed being a little person. He couldn’t stand the word midget. He grunted again as he yanked at the phone cord, trying to free it from the fan blade so far above his head. He held on tight, making sure his bungee cord didn’t snap up, out of his reach. With a final tug, it came down. Coiling it neatly, he put it in his pocket. It wasn’t fun being thirty pounds and having your face at knee level. But, he thought as he easily walked under the crime scene tape and out the door, sometimes it had its perks.
With degrees in Crime Scene Technology and Physical Anthropology, SHANNON HOLLINGER hasn’t just seen the worst side of humanity – she’s had her hands inside of it. She currently resides in Massachusetts where she is owned by two Terrier Terrorists, and spends her free time writing and climbing mountains. The author of many short stories, her first novel is currently in the works. She is an open networker, and welcomes any and all feedback. You can find her at www.ShannonHollinger.com or www.Facebook.com/ Shannons.pen
Twisted Endings March 2014
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Planning Ahead By Rebecca R. Taylor Tom Sutton is out of a job. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time. He is worried about what will happen with him and his wife not working, and a baby on the way. Then one day a cup of coffee changes his life again.
om Sutton thought he knew how to live and take care of his family; everything had been going smoothly. But he didn’t know what was going to happen—he couldn’t have known. Tom didn’t have a crystal ball or a secret connection to something divine. He was just a man with a wife who had a baby on the way. And now he was out of a job. He’d been working at the same place for over ten years and now suddenly all that he had put into being a good employee was being taken away. He had a month left of being the breadwinner for his family. Then his wife would be on maternity leave and he would have to collect unemployment. Tom should have thought ahead, he should have planned ahead and had an emergency fund. He had always figured there would be time for that, thinking let us enjoy our money and have vacations and dinners out before the children come.
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Now, they were coming and not only would this child change his life forever but if he didn’t figure something out fast, they might not have a home for it to live in. He should have known never to take things for granted. Hadn’t his economics teacher taught him better? He should have known. Tom picked up his lunchbox and letter explaining that he was a good employee but that the company was downsizing and he was among those who would unfortunately no longer be employed at the River Ends Construction Company. He had worked assembling furniture. That was what his experience consisting of, cutting out the templates and putting them together based on the company’s specific blueprint designs. It wasn’t a job that other companies were screaming to find people for. One Friday afternoon he headed out the door towards his car. For a moment, he turned around and glanced back at the brick building, knowing that he would be back on Monday but that it wouldn’t be
long before he’d say that for the last time. On the drive home, he wondered how to break the news to his wife. He walked in the house and put his lunchbox on the counter. His wife was at the stove stirring something that smelled absolutely amazing. She was humming along to a tune on the radio. He watched her for a moment, savouring the happiness of watching her, giving her another minute to be oblivious to the changes that would soon affect their lifestyle. “Hey, love,” he said placing his hands on her shoulders. “Hello,” she answered putting the spoon down and turning to hug him. Then she took his hand and placed it on her stomach. “Your daughter wants to say hello too, she’s moving around like crazy this afternoon.” “Then, it’s a girl,” he said. “Yes, my ultrasound confirmed it this morning.” “She’s going to be beautiful just like her mother,” he answered and then he paused, “we need to talk about something.” Together they sat down on the sofa, hands intertwined. He took the letter out of his shirt pocket and handed it to her. “We’re going to be okay,” she said after reading the letter, “I know that look and you’re worrying but that isn’t going to help anything.” “But, love, the money, you and the baby, the car payments, the mortgage….” “There’s unemployment and my maternity leave benefits. I know it won’t be our usual income but we also won’t be spending as much money on gas and car repairs. We can eat at home more, and if we have to, I’ll go back to work early because you’ll be here to look after our baby.” “I don’t want you to have to give up your year off with our baby. I know how much you’ve been looking forward to this. You’ve pored over magazines and admired the baby’s clothing and all the accessories for the bedroom. Now that we know it’s going to be a girl, you have a plan for what you wanted.”
“I’ll scale back. The baby isn’t going to know or care if her clothing is high end or bargain brand. She’s going to be precious in whatever she wears. We probably should have learned to live more frugally before anyhow.” The next three weeks went by quickly. Tony and Marcia Sutton came home from work each day and got into the habit of helping each other with the cooking. Tony learned that he actually liked it. He never had before. He’d had a change of heart, he decided, he needed to do it, to help his wife, so he might as well try and enjoy it. And he was doing it with his wife in the kitchen while they talked about their days and they traded baby name suggestions. The day came when Marcia left the insurance office where she worked and went home on preventative leave until her daughter was born and then she would take pleasure in bonding with her daughter during her maternity leave. It was a week later when Tony left his job behind and went home to be with his wife. Despite the circumstances of him being home, Marcia appreciated his company and the extra help around the house. The time went by and finally they went to the hospital and Marcia delivered a beautiful baby girl that her parents named Maria Anne. While his wife and baby slept Tony went across the street with his parents to get a cup of coffee. They were running a promotion and a scratch ticket came with each cup of coffee. Tony’s mother scratched it and revealed the words “please try again.” Tony’s father was a bit luckier and earned himself “2 free cups of coffee.” Tony took a coin out of his wallet and scratched at the golden surface, “Winner of $8000.00” it read. Tony stared at the ticket in disbelief. “It’s your lucky day, son,” said Tony’s father. “You’ve become a dad for the first time and you’ve got some money to help make all of your futures more secure.” “I’m planning ahead,” said Tony, “I’m going to put this money in the bank. We never know what might happen when we need to have a contingency plan.”
REBECCA ROSE TAYLOR lives on a farm near the St. Francis River in Quebec. Her recent works have been included in Long Story Short, Barebacklit, The Montreal Review, Dark Fountain Magazine and Perspectives Magazine. When Rebecca isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys knitting, quilting and crocheting. Contact Rebecca at email@example.com
Twisted Endings March 2014
Rendezvous By Irina Glazkova They were a happy family until he messed up. Twelve years later, they met to discuss things. casual as if nothing happened. “You haven't ordered anything yet. Thanks for waiting.” Olivia picked up the menu. The waiter came few seconds later and took the orders. “Sir, you deserve standing ovation for finding me. I thought that we were safe here from you. We moved to another continent.” The woman spoke with scorn and mockery. At this point I knew she hadn't forgiven me. “Well my dear, you didn't come here at a gunpoint either. Now, let's not cause a scene and talk like two civilized individuals. If you want to go somewhere else after lunch we'll do that. By the way, I'm paying for both meals.” I said leaning back on a chair. It was hard to maintain composure. Olivia was about to say something but the waiter brought our food. “Well, if you were to ask me out for lunch last year, I would refuse. I read your letter and I talked to Nick. All of this was enough to take me out for lunch. I do believe that what you did to me and kids many years ago was atrocious. If I could see that you were a different man, I would allow you to be part of my life again.” Olivia sounded less hostile as she began eating. I tried not to think about what would be her next move. So far it didn't look good.
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livia always will be the most important person for me. I love her more than any other woman in my life.
I was the happiest man on Earth. We could understand each other without a single word. We could spend hours and hours gazing at the stars in a night sky. We enjoyed our walks and hikes. She would always wake me up with gentle touch. Then she had children. After Nick and Elizabeth were born, our lives became filled with so much joy. But then something terrible happened; we had a fallout. For the most part, it was my fault. She left, changed her last name, and moved to another country. It took me twelve years to find her. She agreed to meet for lunch. I was waiting for Olivia at our favorite place. The woman was late as usual. Half an hour later I saw her entering the restaurant. People paused and looked at her. She looked her best. The passing years only enhanced her beauty. Men looked at her with adoration—women with disdain. “Hey Kram, sorry I'm late. Downtown parking is just horrendous.” Olivia stopped in front of me. She sounded
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“Livie, how have you been all those years?” I asked hoping she’d see my sincerity in learning of her well being. “When we moved here, I worked as much as I could. Then I got a good job at the university. After I got my PhD, the kids started school. I tried to find a man, few dates here and there. I couldn't find anyone because you shattered my trust in men. How can I be happy with a man after your betrayal?” “Tell me, how are the kids?” I felt guilt washing over me and was getting nervous. I tried to change the subject. Olivia was one thing, but kids, especially Nick, was a whole new level. “Lizzy made a list of countries where she would love to go after high school graduation,” Olivia informed me. “Nick just had a surgery last week. He is getting better.” She sounded calm again. At this point, I was convinced we were still strangers. We may had been a family long time ago, but not now. My only option was to start from the bottom and to show her that I was now a different man. After we ordered dessert, our talk became less personal. We discussed weather and economy. Olivia
recommended few places for sight-seeing. She became less intense after we stopped talking about personal stuff.
At this point, I was the happiest man on Earth. We were together even though it was a brief moment.
“Hey Kram, what are you doing for the rest of the day?” Olivia was smiling for the first time since I saw her. Reconciliation was hopeful.
“Kram, Nick looks just like you,” Olivia whispered patting my shoulder. “He would love to see you. Lizzy looks just like me.”
“I am free all day. We can do whatever you like.” Whatever she would offer I was ready to accept. A waiter brought the bill.
“My dear, I have something for you. It's in a car. I would like you to have it. Perhaps, you will be able to understand me better.”
“Let me show you around. But let's use your car.” After we both got up at the same time, I left money on the table.
Olivia held my arm until we arrived at the car. I handed her an envelope. When she read it, she became silent and started crying.
“Nice car.” “Well, I'm trying to impress the lady whom I've met for lunch today.” We drove around the city until Olivia recommended a park. We sat and talked near a pond. Nothing else mattered. “Hey Kram, look! Swans! Let's sit here and feed them just like good old days.” Her voice filled with laughter. The wind was tossing her hair. She didn't care. It was the Olivia I remembered.
“We have to go to the hospital.” Olivia finished reading the papers and wiped off tears. “We have to do it now. Nick has to know.” We busted into the hospital, ran all the way to the ward, and paused in front of the door. “It's better if you go first. I'll follow in a few minutes,” I said trying to catch my breath. Olivia nodded and entered the room.
“Kram, who is she this time?” The question caught me of guard as she pinned me with her gaze.
Ten minutes later I went in. “Hi Nick,” He looked pale. He was reading the papers. Olivia was crying.
“Livie, there is nobody. After we had a fallout, there were women here and there but only for about a year or so. Today it's just me and Kyle. His mom died.”
I looked around. The hospital room reeked of medication. I saw family pictures—Nick by himself, Nick with his mother, Nick with his sister and all three of them together. I wasn't in any of pictures.
“So, what happened to her?” Olivia became curious. “After I got out of my mess. I focused on my career until I met Lana. We'd met seven years ago. Two years later Lana gave birth to Kyle. I explained to her that we couldn't get married because you and I had not settled our differences. Lana didn't object. The woman was willing to wait. Unfortunately, she passed away seven months ago from cancer. Before she died, Lana asked me to find you. She had many connections and helped me as much as she could. Before I met Lana all my attempts to find you were in vain.”
“It was you. You were the donor. It was you who donated bone marrow so I will have chance against the cancer.” Nick shook the papers. “Why didn't you tell me?” His voice was weak but affirmative. “Now you see that I have always loved you guys. All those years,” my voice was shaking. Suddenly I felt excruciating pain. “Mom, he loves us, can't you see. Please forgive him,” Nick was pleading with Olivia.
I could see that we both suffered. It was our chance to start over again. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it hard. Olivia used to do that after we fought. The gesture signified truce.
The stress overtook me. I found myself in a hospital bed few hours later.
“So, I guess we are both in the same boat. Being a single mother is not easy, but you are doing great job with our kids.” I put my arm around her shoulder.
“You should have told us about the surgery,” Nick reprimanded me.
“I miss good old days when we were all together. You would return from work. I would make supper and we all ate together. When you left, Nick asked about you for several months. I told him that you were sent away on a special assignment.” She leaned against my shoulder. “You know, you are the only father Nick and Lizzy ever knew. They miss you even today, especially Nick. We all need you.”
“Sir, we cannot discharge you until tomorrow. The doctor with be with you shortly,” a nurse informed me.
“I thought you wouldn't object to the visitors,” the nurse smiled and left the room. I looked around and saw Nick, Olivia and Elizabeth. “I can’t wait till your back with us. We can’t wait to meet Kyle.” Elizabeth was excited. “Dad, we have to go now. Visiting hours are over. I promise we'll be back tomorrow.” Olivia hugged me before leaving the room.
IRINA GLAZKOVA, originally from Russia, is living and working in St. John's, Newfoundland. Irina has a degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland, major: Marine Biology, minor: French. She loves going to church and writing. "The Step" is her first story written in English. Contact Irina at firstname.lastname@example.org for feedback. Twisted Endings March 2014
The Meal By Jon Moray The cook bakes an unexpected meal for his dinner guests. mixture of parsley, garlic and lemon zest, as he overheard Lori, his girlfriend, vividly recall the time Lam pulled a prank on her by pretending he was a stalker on Halloween night . Hal comically reminded them about the event when Lam played a listless clown in a county production as Ryan prepared carrot mash, asparagus, and roasted potatoes for the side dishes. Missy, Hal’s date, didn’t know Lam very well, but added she would always remember Lam for his odd sense of humor, comparable but not nearly as extreme as Ryan’s. Glasses of red wine were lifted, tilted and repoured as they continued their stroll down memory “Lam.“ Between brow-wiping laboring in the kitchen and subtle socializing, Ryan was able to down a few glasses of the Zinfandel. A short while later, the wannabe chef announced dinner would be served.
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yan May, professional skier and aspiring cook, was preparing a dinner for his guests a day after the loss of a fellow skier named Chad “Lam” Lambert. Ryan and Lam were practicing on the slopes for their upcoming Olympic qualifying competition when Lam caught his leg on the thickets of a pine tree that tore from his body as his limp corpse continued down to its’ tragic end. The tearfully Lam and sautéing
trio of guests, two women and one man, and humorously shared their memories of the impact he had on their lives as Ryan was the meat. He seasoned the roast with a
Ryan opened the oven door to a strong rolling heat and the emerging distinct aroma of the well cooked roast. Lori and Missy helped prepare the fine linen draped table amid the glow of soft cream candlelight, while Hal juggled the plates of side dishes from the kitchen. They sat down, filled their plates with the delectable spread, poured more wine, paused in silent meditation, and then dug in. Hal bellowed his satisfaction of the mouth watering tenderness of the meat as he savored the first bite. Missy echoed her sentiments of the tasty roast with demands for the recipe. Lori commented the entree was the best she had ever tasted. “What is this meat we are eating?” asked Hal, after finishing another wondrous mouthful. “Leg of Lam-b,” Ryan replied, with devilish delight that left his guests horrified by the eerie coincidence.
JON MORAY has been writing short stories for almost five years and has a true appreciation for stories with twist endings. When not working and being a devoted husband and father of two, he likes to play basketball and train for marathons.
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The Old Triumphator By Colin W. Campbell Be careful with people who know they are important.
“Grey hair is well earned. Life is incomplete without a triumph.”
"So, this was your King for a Day. Was it really almost divine?" "No, the caveat is as old as the ritual itself. There is a need for balance." "Balance?" Mark raised a deferent glance.
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Pass me the toga, young Mark. Look for the purple and gold one. It reminds me of the old days. The time when I rode in a fine chariot through the streets of Rome with the spoils of war. I offered sacrifice and tokens of victory at Jupiter's temple on the Capitoline Hill. On that day they called me a Vir Triumphalis - a man of triumph.”
"Yes. A slave had to follow me around and keep on calling out - Respice te, hominem te memento - Look behind you, remember you are only a man. But even today, they acknowledge my presence. They walk mostly backwards when they leave. It's not really bowing. More of a little nod." "Yes great-uncle. I don't think the attendants would ever dare to turn their backs on you." "I hear someone is coming. Is he bringing something important for the Triumphator?"
"I heard them talking about you, great-uncle. They call you the old Triumphator." Mark spoke quietly.
"It's a man in a white coat. Looks like your laxative. I'd better go now great-uncle but I'll back again next week. Will you still be the same old Triumphator?"
"Gray hair is well earned. Life is incomplete without a triumph." He emphasized his words in arms of old age that might still have the vigor to proclaim a whole Senate in a single gesture.
As he left, Mark was careful to say very quietly to the man in the white coat, "but next time he goes online on Google he might be Napoleon or even Attila the Hun."
COLIN CAMPELL originally from Scotland, is ever-so-lucky to be able to divide his year between homes in Sarawak on the lovely green island of Borneo and faraway in Yunnan in southwest China. He writes short fiction and poetry and spends way too much time on www.colincampbell.org and www.shortstory.mobi.
Twisted Endings March 2014
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Twisted Endings Revealed "ENSENADA IN SUMMER"
In a moment of fatal turmoil a man recalls a romantic episode he experienced in Mexico. A stunning girl named Juliet from his distant past comes abruptly into his mind. The unexpected memory of her, the quiet beach, and the blazing summer sun, soothes and calms him.
“GLORY DAYS” (p6) Our Duchess, the best dog ever, was having her hair cut, whether she liked it or not!
“SELF-IMPROVEMENT” (p8) Brenda Simpson is a lot less confident and content than she thinks, and completely oblivious to others’ realization of that fact.
“A LITTLE BIT OF MURDER” (p10) As it turns out, it wasn't a mystery at all. The answer was right there the whole time, like a light bulb over their heads. The killer was still in the room—a midget did it.
“PLANNING AHEAD” (p12) It turns out that even when things are looking bad, they can have unexpected events occur. A new born baby and a cup of coffee, lead to a scratch ticket that brings about new appreciation for saving in Tony Sutton's life.
“RENDEZVOUS” (p14) It turns out that the woman was his daughter who had been angry with her father for a long time. Olivia forgives her father after she found out that he donated bone marrow for her son's surgery. At the end they all forgive each other.
“THE MEAL” (p16) The meaning of the twist ending is the dinner guests ate something they would've never eaten had they had known what they were eating in advance.
“THE OLD TRIUMPHATOR” (p17) Clever but detached from reality, Great-uncle picked up the Latin and history online.
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Twisted Endings March 2014
© MARCH 2014 | MONIQUE BERRY HAMILTON, ON, CANADA
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