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March 2015

THE MAGAZINE FOR LOVERS OF UNPREDICTABLE PLOT TWISTS

Twisted Endings March 2015

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Welcome to Twisted Endings The magazine for lovers Frequency: Mar ch & September Founding Editor: Monique Ber ry Designer: Monique Berr y

of unpredictable plot twists Website: http://twistedendings.webs.com Email: monique.editor@gmail.com Twitter: @1websurfer

Table of Contents 4

Meet the Contributors

5

Desire by Marjorie E. Brody Light and Darkness by Blair Chen Backup Plan by Mel Goldberg Donna by Dan Delehant The Captive by Rod Martinez Hell’s Other People by Wayne-Daniel Berard

6 7 8 10 12

13 14 16 17 19

Second Chance by Lorna Pominville Can’t Get Him Out Of My Mind by Karen Karlitz Silent Screen by Carl Palmer FedEx Man by Fay L. Loomis The Switch by Monique Berry

Cover: © TTstudio / DollarPhotoClub This page: © robertosch / DollarPhotoClub Opposite: :© Kelly Young / Photoxpress.com

2 | Twisted Endings March 2015


And now let’s unwrap

the twisted endings... Twisted Endings March 2015

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Meet the Contributors BLAIR CHEN (P6) is an aspiring writer living in San Jose, California. In his free time, he enjoys computer programming, reading, and playing the clarinet. Music is the biggest inspiration for his music. After earning an advanced degree in literature, MEL GOLDBERG (P7) taught literature and writing in California, Illinois, Arizona, and as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Cambridgeshire, England. For seven years, Mel and his artist wife lived in and traveled in a small motor home throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. His writing has appeared on line and in print magazines in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico.

DANIEL DELEHANT (P8) has had stories published in

Western New York's The Other Herald Magazine, in Twisted Endings Magazine, and in Alfie Dog Publications in England. He and his wife of thirty years live in Whittier, California.

ROD MARTINEZ (P10) was

born and raised in Tampa, Florida and was attracted to words at an early age. His first book “The Boy Who Liked To Read” was created in grade school, his teacher kept it. Eventually he discovered comic books, but his High School English teacher told him to try short story writing. He wrote middle grade adventure "The Juniors" that was picked up by a publisher, and the rest—as they say—is history. Contact him at http:// rodmartinez.us or http://qire24.wix.com/the-juniors.

LORNA POMINVILLE (P13) is a retired

nurse living in Sarnia, Ontario and attends the writing group, WIT (Writers in Transition). While traveling to various parts of the world working as a cruise ship nurse, she wrote monthly travel articles for an on-line magazine for eighteen months. In 2011 she wrote and self published a book of short stories titled, "Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! Tales of a Cruise Ship Nurse." The recent publication of WIT's anthology, And a River Runs By It, contains two of Lorna's short stories about Sarnia. She also dabbles in poetry.

KAREN KARLITZ'S (P14) work appeared in the Los

Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Broad River Review, Loch Raven Review, Iguana Review, Ranfurly Review (Scotland), American Diversity Report, Scribblers on the Roof, Miranda Literary Journal, Long Story Short, Clever Magazine, and The Stray Branch, among others. Her e-book, “Baggage,” is available at the Amazon Kindle store.

CARL "PAPA" PALMER (P16), retired

Army, retired FAA, now just plain retired, lives in University Place, WA. He has seven chapbooks and a contest winning poem riding buses somewhere in Seattle. Carl is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee. MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever. Visit his website at www.authorsden.com/carlpalmer.

FAY L. LOOMIS (P17)lives in the woods in upstate NY. After looking death in the face, she shifted her writing focus to fiction and poetry. Her poem, “Ode to the Bhagavad Gita,” appeared in Healing Power of the Imagination Journal. Contact Fay at flloomis@earthlink.net.

WAYNE-DANIEL BERARD (P12 )

teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. An adoptee and former Franciscan seminarian, his birthsearch led him to find and embrace his Jewishness. Wayne-Daniel is a Peace Chaplain, an interfaith clergy person, and a member of B’nai Or of Boston. He is the co-founding editor of Soul-Lit, an online journal of spiritual poetry. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine. 4 | Twisted Endings March 2015

MONIQUE BERRY (P19) is the founder

of Halcyon, Perspectives, Praise Writers, Twisted Endings, and Christian Perspectives. She has published stories and poems in Quills, Personal Journaling, The Sitter’s Companion, Searching for Answers Anthology, and Rock Bottom Journal. Monique is working on her first novel and is pursuing a career in photography.


“Twisted Endings is one of the best, if not THE best, short story magazines I have ever read.” ~ Fred Shelton, March 2013 contributor

Desire By Marjorie E. Brody Just having the desire to write poetry is not enough to write it. Subject matter does not always come with desire, nor necessarily the desire with the most perfect of subjects. Sort of like sex.

Explanation: Writing can be difficult. One may have great ideas but not the enthusiasm to pursue them. Or, one may have the enthusiasm for writing a poem—or novel or play—but the core idea is not something that will work well on paper. Many people yearn for someone they can’t have, and can’t connect with the person who adores them. :© Enisu / DollarPhotoClub

MARJORIE E. BRODY is an award-winning author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her short fiction has appeared on stage, in

literary magazines, and in three volumes of the Short Story America Anthology. Her psychological suspense novel, TWISTED, with an ending worthy of Twisted Endings Magazine, received an Honorable Mention at the Great Midwest Book Festival and won the Texas Association of Authors 2014 Best Young Adult Fiction Award. Readers are welcome to visit Marjorie at: Twitter: @MarjorieEBrody1 or https://www.facebook.com/marjoriespages. Twisted Endings March 2015

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© Dmitry Vereshchagin / DollarPhotoClub

Light and Darkness By Blair Chen A plane crash leaves someone defenseless on an deserted island. Around the fallen bodies of his comrades, he must struggle for survival.

U

ghhh. My head. Everything.. hurts. “Goddamnit! We’ve been hit!” Sand everywhere. Sun. Hot. Burning. Alarms rang as the plane lost control of its engines. Owwwwwwwww. So... much light. Slowly but surely, the plane plummeted to the ground, the burning engine making a ominous spiral of smoke. I sat up quickly. The sudden motion burned my waist but what I saw was far more concerning. I was lying in a beach, the burned husk of a once airborne machine lying not 100 meters away. Bodies dotted the beach. Friends. Strangers. Dead? Who could be sure? My eyes moved to their faces for clues about their identities. David. Thomas. Catherine. Rich- I quickly averted my eyes as tears sprang up. No time to dwell on friends or anonymous strangers, burnt beyond recognition or not. There would be time for that if..err...when they woke up. The light above increased in intensity. I felt the heat collide into me, almost knocking me down again. Slowly, very slowly, I managed to stand. Every muscle in my legs complained, but I had a irrefutable goal. A clearing of.. trees stood in front of me. Shade. Perfect. I forced my legs to start walking. Left. Right. Left. Right. Don’t lose your balance. Left. Right. Left. Right. Soon, the shade of the forest protected me. The light above grew harsher. I glanced backwards at my prone friends, and forged on. For them. W-When they woke up, of course. I leaned onto the nearby tree, trying to think. The throbbing headache hindered my progress. Then slowly, the right synapses fired and my brain found a cohesive answer. Water. Another part of my brain laughed sarcastically. Well, it tried. What came out was a dusty cough. 6 | Twisted Endings March 2015

“Water? Yeah, of course, I’ll just go wandering on this random island and find water! Also, there’ll be a first aid kit and a full course meal, and that girl you liked in high school, just waiting for you!” “Shut up. Do you have any better ideas, by any chance?” The first side of my brain shot back. I sighed and closed my eyes. As if by magic, in the distance, I heard the faint trickling of water. With renewed hope, my legs started to move forward again, towards the soft sound. It grew louder and louder until, finally, I saw the stream, the moving water angelic in the sunlight. “Hah! Told you there would be water.” cried my brain. There was no response, as no snarky comeback could be found. I sighed and examined the water. Clear as crystal. Probably drinkable. The light above got yet more intense as I shoveled the water into my mouth and onto my head. The coolness refreshed my wonderfully and I soon found myself lying by the stream, listening to the peacefulness of the flowing water. It slowly lulled me as I looked above into the burning sun. The light rays reached out, brightening everything in its path. I reached out to it, and was quickly engulfed it its warmth. It surrounded my, comforted me, and, with the quiet sounds of the river, it guided me to blackness. Finally. Rest. A corpse lay motionless in a vast and empty desert, the trickling of blood the only sound for miles around.

Explanation: The main character has crashed into a desert, and has hallucinated the entire story before his inevitable death.


© Petr Mašek | DollarPhotoClub

Backup Plan By Mel Goldberg

T

he shots from the cockpit of the small private jet reverberated throughout the entire plane. The Saudi ambassador and three Saudi passengers stood, seat-belts now unfastened, shouted almost in unison in Arabic. “What is going on?” One Saudi turned, pulled a pistol from the sleeve of his tunic, and fired three quick shots, killing the ambassador and the other two Saudis. He turned the gun toward Homeland Security operative Ibrahim bin Selah as he stepped from the cockpit. Bin Selah, a martial arts expert, was quick, his reflexes almost instantaneous. He knocked the man’s hand to the side and dropped him with a kick to the chest. His head bounced against the bulkhead. He was unconscious before he fell back into his seat. Bin Selah raised his left hand above his head, palm facing the me. His arrogance was sickening. “Don’t worry. Everything’s under control. I can fly this plane.” “Damit, Ib, I was hired as the bodyguard, so why didn’t you let me be a bodyguard! I could have taken him out.” “You’re just the back-up, Zafirah. You were good, posing as the flight attendant. See about the bag with the money.” I smiled at the thought. They didn’t pay me enough. Flight attendant and bodyguard were not my only roles. I looked into the cockpit. The shots had taken out the controls. Shattered dials and wires cut and hanging. Not a single control remained operable. “How can you fly this plane now?” Bin Selah looked in and gestured at the parachute that was strapped to the dead pilot. “The pilot must have been in on it. I think he and his unconscious friend were planning on killing us, taking the money, and then bailing out. It’d take weeks to locate the wreckage in the wilderness down there. They never found D. B. Cooper, did they?” “Well, the dead pilot won’t need that parachute,” I shouted at him, “But it’s the only one.” We were losing altitude as he removed the parachute from the dead pilot.

“But what about you?” he asked. If I parachute out, you’ll be left here to go down with the plane. Maybe we can jump tandem.” “Not a problem.” I reached up and grabbed my carry-on bag. On the floor I dumped the toiletries and everything one would expect to find in the baggage of a flight attendant. Then I reached into an interior compartment and grabbed my 9mm Beretta. Then I removed a black vest. “What’s that?” Bin Selah asked. “A life jacket?” “It’s a skydiving rig. I had it customized with the smallest canopy available.” With the rig in my left hand I used the 9mm pistol in my right to point at the parachute in his hands. “What about that one? How does it look?” “It’s probably good. He planned to use it. But I don’t know about that thing of yours. Do you really think something that small will do? What’s it got? An 85-square-foot canopy?” “Not eighty-five. Only sixty-five. Fortunately, I only weigh 110 pounds. But I’ve never used something this small so I’m not too sure about it, even at my weight.” I pointed my pistol at him. “That’s why I’m taking the one in your hands.” The stunned look on his face made me sneer. “And you think I’m supposed to use that tiny little parachute?” “No. With your weight, you’d sink like a rock. You were right about what you said before.” “What do you mean?” “That I’m the backup. I’m just not your backup.” I shot him, took the good parachute and made my exit. He was right about one thing, though. They may never find the wreckage.

Explanation: It turns out that his back-up person was not on his

side.

Twisted Endings March 2015

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Donna

© stella_photo20 / DollarPhotoClub

By Dan Delehant Take youth, love, lust, jealousy, and to that already potent brew add alcohol. Mix it all together one summer night in Brooklyn and see what you get.

I

sat on the edge of the bed in my boxers. Out in the kitchen of our little flat in Brooklyn, I could hear Donna cursing and slamming drawers. She, like I, was drunk as hell. The difference was I just wanted to go to sleep and she wanted to fight. Fighting with Donna didn’t mean just raising your voice and shouting hurtful things and cursing. No, not even close--it meant punching, scratching, biting, kicks or knees to the groin, and other painful and debilitating stuff. Donna, a short but shapely girl with a sweet innocent face that belied her inner turmoil, would fight you like a man! Hell, at a bar up in Queens last month, I saw her knockout a loudmouth woman who was a foot taller than her with one punch! This Puerto Rican, Flatbush and Bedford Brooklynite bitch could go from a dainty, big-haired little beauty to a MMA assassin in no more time than it took to gulp down a few Slammers or Long Island Iced Teas. Suffice to say, as I sit here on our bed in my underwear and stare out the bedroom window into the East 35th Street moonlit darkness with my brain thick with alcohol and fatigue, I am leery of what my beautiful, but deranged, drunken lover is up to. Bang! There is a loud noise from the kitchen, then another. I hear glass, and who knows what else, breaking. 8 | Twisted Endings March 2015

I don’t dare go to sleep because I know what is coming next. “You bastard,” she screams from the little bedroom’s doorway, “you low-life son-of-a-bitch! I hate you! I hate all you bastards! God, I wish I could be a lesbian. God knows I’ve tried.” Wearing only a white bra and thong panties, she stood silhouetted by the moonlight in the doorway. The refracted silver moonbeams illumined her underwear like a black light refracts certain objects. Then I saw it. In her right hand was our large, sharp-as-hell, kitchen knife! Oh shit, I thought, not again. “I saw you dancing with Rosa; you had your hands all over her ass. You’re no different than all the rest. Why don’t you just admit it? You want to screw all the girls I work with.” Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Donna dances at a topless bar. I looked at her in the doorway. She was swaying back and forth. Her hair was all wild, almost hiding her heavily made-up eyes. Her bright red lip gloss glowed in the dark. She held the huge knife up high beside her head. Its wide blade glistened in the room’s dim light. Opposite: © jedphoto / DollarPhotoClub


Suddenly, I was infused with genius! I knew what to say to calm her down. I thought to tell her, Y eah, I would like to screw all of them, but because I love you so much, I won’t.

dark street with the knife-wielding, crazed Puerto Rican mad-woman right behind me.

The only glue that keeps Donna and me together is that I am smarter than her, and I’m pretty much an idiot. Then again, maybe the brutal, tumultuous sex we have might have something to do with it too. I began my inspired little speech, “Yeah, I would like to–”

Yelling at the top of her lungs, she chased me all the way down to the corner before she ran out of breath. Then, following a few final slurred curses, she turned, put the knife down at her side, and began walking back up the street. I followed at a cautious distance. Several neighbors were peeking out from behind curtains, some were yelling at us to shut the hell up!

That was as far as I got! With the knife poised alongside her massive array of black hair, she came screaming at me like a howling high-haired banshee!

“Go back to bed you nosy assholes!” Donna screamed at the various windows, waving the butcher knife at the shadowed faces in them.

“You bastard! I knew it! I hate you, you cheatingdog son-of-a-bitch!”

I’m sure we were quite the entertaining sight--two drunks out in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, in their underwear, one chasing the other with a butcher knife.

I flung myself off the bed just as the knife went past and stuck the mattress through the blanket! “Jesus H. Christ, Donna!” I shouted as I retreated to the other side of the bed, “you coulda kilt me!” The moonlight gleamed in her raging brown eyes. Panting and grunting like a crazed animal, she scrambled over the bed and lunged again at me with the knife. I avoided the blade by inches. She tumbled across the bed and went sprawling onto the floor between the bed and the window. I scooted over by the doorway. She got unsteadily to her feet, and with the knife still in her hand, came back over the bed to me on her hands and knees, growling like a rabid she-wolf. Her bright red lipstick now smeared on her teeth so they looked like bloody fangs. Our apartment is tiny, just one bedroom, a microscopic kitchen, and matching living room. I ran into the living room. From out the bedroom, the shedemon charged again. Once more I barely avoided getting gut-stuck. I pushed her hard as she went by. Cursing, she fell sprawling to the floor, knocking over the tiny end table and lamp.

When we got back inside Donna threw the knife into the darkened kitchen. I listened to it rattle across the linoleum. She mumbled a few more accusations and cuss words. Then she staggered into the bedroom and slammed the door. I went to the closet and got a sheet and blanket and laid them out on the couch and fell almost immediately into that deep sleep that drunks and the dead are known for. Next thing I knew, the sun was punishing me through the thin curtains. Oh geez, I thought as I covered my head with the blanket to hide from its wicked rays. Then I heard the bedroom door open. I rolled over and propped myself up on an elbow. Donna was standing there in her underwear. Her hair was all crazy-wild and her purple-black eye make-up was dried and smudged all down her cheeks. Her usually huge eyes were nothing more than scrunchy slits. Oh no, I thought, I’m too hung-over to run. “I’m hungry,” she said in a subdued voice, “want to go for breakfast?”

“Stop it Donna!” I screamed, “You’re scaring me. You’re crazy drunk! I didn’t do nothin`. ” She got back to her feet and raised the knife high over her head, “I’m going to kill you, you cheating bastard!” “Donna, Donna, stop! You didn’t let me finish what I was going to tell you….” Again the knife came at me. I whirled aside and it flashed by my face, and while still in her hand, stuck in the front door! She quickly yanked it free. I tried to wrestle it from her, but she had drunken topless dancer strength and pulled it back away from me. I put a foot in her stomach and pushed her as hard as I could. She went reeling backward across the little room and slammed into the wall. I undid the deadbolt, slid back the chain and opened the door and ran into the dark hallway. With the knife slashing out at me, she came after me again. Out and down the stoop to the street I went! She was right behind me screaming! I took off running down our

Explanation: "Youth, passion, jealousy, and alcohol -- an admixture for mayhem."

Twisted Endings March 2015

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The Captive By Rod Martinez Suzy was disoriented upon her awakening. She found herself in a dark, clammy enclosure with seemingly no way out. A sudden thought hit her, that maybe she was the victim of an abduction. With no recollection as to how she'd gotten there, or what happened before she got there, she awaits as the answers unfold before her.

D

arkness, as it is known, is an enclosure of a void that leads nowhere. Ends nowhere. Where all insecurities locked in one's psyche can spring up at a moment's notice. The fear of the dark is as widespread as the love of life among us, and this phobia was no stranger to Suzy. Dazed, she got up. A sharp pain registered within her being as she supported herself. She did not understand how she had gotten here, or where "here" was, but she knew it wasn't home. "Hello?" Her voice bounced off the dark walls surrounding her, and the cold, wet, slick floor. She walked cautiously, feeling for a wall--or something. She stumbled over vegetation but still kept her balance. "Is anyone there?" All her perceptions vanished--time, space--she depended on sheer instinct alone and a few of her five senses. Her last memory involved going on a trip with her husband. They were traveling in an unfamiliar section of... Brent! What about Brent? Her baby was with them! She stood still. "Brent? Baby, are you here? It's Mommy." No foreign sound responded except for the splashing spurts of her feet on the water covered deck. For all she knew, she was walking in circles, with no light to shed any insight of her whereabouts. What happened on the trip? And where were her husband and child? She had heard rumors of the area they were last in. Something about Unidentified Flying Objects, something she'd never considered. After all, who's actually ever believed those so called "confirmed sightings," or better, had produced a piece of evidence proving their existence? Still, for some odd reason, the subject locked itself in the back of her mind. She laughed. "Imagine me, an abductee of a UFO experience." Her smile soon faded when another thought exercised her intelligence. "What if I never get out of here? What if I never see my Brent or Davey again?" She stood in her damp, pitch black accommodation, fighting to restrain her emotions from going over the edge. "Help me! Somebody... please!" She touched a hard surface in front of her. A wall or glass, she wasn't sure but pounded on it anyway, ignoring the pain she felt in her being. The strain of every physical blow she delivered on her prison wall sent waves of unbearable pain throughout her back, arms and thighs. This was violation of the worst kind. "Please! Please!!" After a few moments of her futile pleas and overcome in tears she backed up against the wall and slid down to the floor. "Morning, General Sir!" She jolted from the voice, which seemed to have come from behind her, behind the wall. An entire conversation started in a language entirely foreign to hers. Nonetheless, she understood. She rose, turned to the slick surfaced wall, and finally sensed a small shape of light. "How is our subject?" 10 | Twisted Endings March 2015

"Still detained, sir." "And the security code..?" "Still enforced, sir." "Ok, open it, let's have a look." Someone pushed a switch was, which hummed. The sound was reminiscent of her sedan turning over on a cold morning. She stood back, unsure of what she'd discover, as light—a blinding light--slowly crept into her fortress of darkness. A curtain on the outer side of the glass was opening. Soon she'd see them, already sure in her mind they were some hideous alien-like creatures that had abducted her, separating her from her husband and child. The enclosure opened. She stood, bare, before the small group, who remained just feet away from the glass. "Is she alive?" asked one. She stood silent, holding in her horror. They were ugly, beastly looking creatures, garbed in the same type uniform. Their beady eyes horrified her. "The news of this discovery doesn't leave this room, am I clear?" "Yes, sir!" barked the others in unison. The leader approached the encasement, studying his captive with an educated and curious eye. Though she feared them, she stepped toward him and placed her hand on the glass. "Poor girl," her captor sighed, " I wonder if she knows the other two died." This news slowly dropped her to her knees in a disheartened sigh. "Sir, I think she understood you." Her melancholic stare touched him. She had seen records of his kind before. They are called "humans," who live on Terra, the planet its inhabitants call "Earth." The military installment Suzy was held captive in specialized in extra-terrestrial phenomenon, and she was a rare catch. The men stared at her nude green-grey skin, oversized head and huge bulging black eyes. Suzy was an alien, saved just in time from her crashed spacecraft that quickly emitted electrical flames after crashing through trees just miles from the lab. "Commence testing." the General said, leaving the room. "Yes, sir."

Opposite: Š Alexander Ravkin | DollarPhotoClub

Explanation: It turns out Suzy is an alien who's family "sedan" (four door space cruiser) crash landed on earth somewhere in America. I bet you thought she was capture by aliens, huh?


Twisted Endings March 2015

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© devilkae | DollarPhotoClub

Hell’s Other People By Wayne-Daniel Berard You're in Hell. Fine, you know you deserve it. But what if you see someone there who doesn't? And what if they can get you out--at a price? I mean, Hell is pretty low, but how low are you prepared to go? And what happens to the neighborhood if you do?

I

was in Hell. I wasn’t angry about it. I knew why I was there. I’d done some pretty nasty stuff. Married men. Then, when they’d dump me (always)—money to keep my mouth shut. Even a car once. And once I didn’t keep it shut. He’d been the one I really wanted. If I couldn’t have him. Big man. Important. Big house, kids. Three car garage. Must have taken forever to fill up with exhaust. So ok. But the pain. I can’t describe. You know how you don’t feel the skin hurt when you’re punched in the stomach? Well, the fire’s hot here all right, but who cares. The soul burns. I don’t know how long I’d been here. I’d look up every so often and see people crossing way above on one of those narrow stone arches. Indiana Jones stuff. I didn’t know any of them; never the same person twice. Except for one guy who must have been the guide. Him I saw all the time. Then once I did recognize somebody. Even that far off. He ran the donut shop down the street from me. Nice guy. I’d come in a lot. Strung out. Depressed to shit. He’d always talk to me. I’d say, “Why can’t I ever get a guy like you?” And he’d wave his occupied ring finger at me and laugh. And if I fished in my pockets a minute, he’d say, “Get me next time, Linda.” Sometimes that was all I’d eat that day. And there he was, passing overhead on this bridge out of Monument National Park. Same guy leading him. But I couldn’t remember his name. And he was almost gone . . . 12 | Twisted Endings March 2015

“Hey, Dono-Rama!” I yelled out as loud as I could. “Down here! Dono-man!!!” I saw him stop. He looked down and called. “Linda? Linda, it’s me. Ray.” I called back, “Ray, thank God! Get me outta here! Help me!” I saw him turn to the guide. Did Ray nod? Then next thing I know . . . I’m standing up there on the stone arch. There’s a man next to me who I guess is the guide. But no Ray. And no flames, inside or out. “What?!” I started. I looked around. “He’s down there,” the guide said. I looked down and I could see him. His face. “He asked me if there was any way, and I told him: Yes. If someone agrees to trade places. ‘Better love hath no man,’ and all that. So here you are. Nice guy, Ray. Your boyfriend?” He walked me to the end of the bridge and pointed out an opening in the wall. “Just keep walking now,” he said. “It only gets better.” Then he was gone. He was right. I can’t describe. Breezes. Sights. You know how you’re heart feels when love touches your skin? I didn’t see anybody else. Too early, I guessed. There was a mountain, and I started for it. Until I stopped. Shrugged. Shook my head. Spoke.


Next second, I’m back. Down there. But at least Ray was out, back where he deserved. Until I looked around and saw him next to me. I was rip-shit. “Hey Choir Boy !!!” I yelled. “Hey Wing Tips!!! What the hell?!” Then I saw that he was there, too. The guide. “Finally,” he said. He was smiling. And everybody was smiling. “You’re the last one.” I cocked my head at him. “That’s why you didn’t see anyone up there,” he said. “They’re all down here . . .” “You mean, everybody’s in hell?” I shouted. He nodded. “Everybody? Like saints? Like . . . Mary*?” “That’s her over there,” he motioned with his chin. “ My mother’ll freak,” I laughed. Again he motioned. “She already knows.” I stopped. “So I was right all along,” I said. “We’re all damned.” He put his finger, very gently, to my lips. “I told you how it works here. Compassion. Someone feels just too badly for someone else to leave them. They take their place. Then that person ends up doing the same. There are always new people crossing, new chances. Until, finally, everyone is down here . . .” “But doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose?” I was lost. “The decision was made a long time ago. Nobody goes till everyone goes.” I heard a deep voice from the crowd. “While one soul is imprisoned . . .” I raised an eyebrow. “Oh, that’s God,” the guide said. “He thinks he’s Eugene Debs.” “God’s down here, too? Whose place did he take?” “Mine,” said the guide with a smile, and his eyes smoldered a little. I’d thought he looked a bit like Pacino. But they all do to me . . . “Wait a minute,” I took him by the shoulders. “This is the place where God is, right? And now everybody’s here. Together. And everybody really cares? But wouldn’t that make this . . .?” You know how when you turn on the defogger, and it all just melts away from the bottom up? You know that the rainbow has a big arched shadow?

Second Chance

© misu | DollarPhotoClub

By Lorna Pominville I open the door. An endless staircase greets me, leading down to where I do not know. Down, down I go. Down. Down. Down. But I make no headway. Fear grips my body. A voice booms from above, “Do not be afraid, For I am with you.” I am no longer afraid. I feel at peace. Suddenly, I am on a hilltop, Now I'm running down the hill. Running, running, Yet the bottom is nowhere in sight. I am afraid. Again the voice booms from above, “Do not be afraid For I am with you.” I am no longer afraid. I feel at peace.

Explanation: In a nutshell, the twisted ending means that, (a) contrary to the popular standard notions, Hell isn't all about you, even if it is (b) largely a shadow cast by your own head, anyway!

*Author’s note: I'm from mixed Catholic/Jewish parentage and had the great experience of being a Franciscan seminarian for five years. Please believe that no disrespect is meant at all by my story; on the contrary, it relies on the most basic of Christian ideals, that of Substitutionary Atonement. According to this ideal, moved by great compassion and love, Jesus takes all our place, engages in atonement for the sins of others, and invites us to do the same. If this is the example set by Christ, then surely his Mother and the saints would likewise follow it? That is all that happens in my story; Mary and the saints, indeed God Himself, take the place of those condemned in order to save them and to show them the true power of unselfishness and compassion, thus re-igniting those same qualities in their own souls. The fact that Linda cannot just self-centerdly take advantage of Ray's gift of Substitutionary Atonement shows that she still possesses that spark (despite her earlier life), that there is yet hope for her. She (and the story) are acting in the great example of Mary and the saints, and they in that of Christ—that of selfless giving, flowing from the compassion of the giver, not the "deserving" of the recipient.

Another voice cuts in, “Can you hear me? Can you hear me?” Very slowly my eyes open. My doctor’s anxious face comes into view. A nurse exclaims, “She’s opening her eyes! I feel a faint pulse. My God! She’s still with us! She's alive!”

Explanation: It turns out that the person has been unconscious, not having a dream as one is led to believe. Twisted Endings March 2015

| 13


Can’t Get Him Out Of My Mind By Karen Karlitz This story illustrates how little we often know about the person we marry.

E

mily and Martin are married less than a year when they buy a house. As often happens, the pair finds temporary happiness in home remodeling. Focusing on one room at a time, each receives a make-over, good taste compensating for what they cannot yet afford. Six months after they began, interior renovations are well along. The exterior, however, remains the same as the day they first saw it. All work has stopped. Except for when the lights are on in the evening, the house looks unlived in and, in a sense it is. For even though pretty Emily and successful Martin’s marriage is frequently envied, three years after they first met they still don’t know one another. This is because both harbor secrets, secrets of the most serious kind. The truth is that although Emily rejoices each time she takes a Kate Spade Gramercy Park-patterned cup out of her top-of-theline dishwasher and places it back in its appointed spot in her new cabinet, a part of her is as forlorn as if she dropped it on her newly tiled floor. Her secret is simple; she married Martin by default. Emily is in love with David, a friend of hers at work. But before she could get up the courage to attempt to bring their relationship to another level, in one of life’s cruel ironies, David winked at Emily’s friend Jane on match.com and Jane winked back. Their first date at Starbucks catapulted to full fledged romance the following night during a three course dinner; six months later they married. Soon after their wedding, Emily met Martin on a much needed Hawaiian vacation. They got along well, and Martin looked handsome in a suit. Emily assumes marriage to Martin will shut the door on David, and that now they can enjoy dinners, movies and occasional weekends away as a foursome. She chooses to believe marriage will bring her closer to her husband and weed out all or at least most of the fantasies about David that surely no married woman should have. She is wrong. Many nights sleep is impossible because Emily can’t get David out of her mind. Employing twisted logic, she takes this as a sign that she and David are meant to be together, that a cosmic mistake occurred to keep them apart. She continues buying gourmet cheeses and excellent wines. She keeps perfect closets and perfect drawers. And she prepares wonderful breakfasts, lunches and dinners for Martin, until the day comes—and she knows it will— when she will never do anything for him again. During a dinner party at her house Emily watches for cracks in David and Jane’s marriage. Her good fortune comes sooner than anticipated. Both couples share a meal of broiled halibut and mushroom risotto. Afterwards, as the men sit on the porch, Emily and Jane clean the kitchen while finishing off a bottle of pinot. “I’ve got to talk to you,” Jane whispers, obviously distressed. “What’s the matter?” “It’s David. He’s not the person I thought I married.” “Is anyone ever really?” “Probably not, but believe me, we’re in trouble. He comes home late every night, and he’s stopped bothering to make excuses.” “It’ll pass. All marriages have their ups and downs as clichéd as that may sound.” “We haven’t had sex in six months.” It takes Emily all the control she can muster not to reveal how pleased she is. As Jane’s friend she feels somewhat guilty but Jane is not her top priority and anyway, she loved David first. “I’m

sure that happens more often than people admit,” Emily says, not believing that at all. “I’ll ride it out. Maybe you’re right.” But a month later David leaves Jane. He doesn’t offer much in the way of an explanation, but does let her stay in their condo. Emily is ecstatic. With nothing but the thoughts in her head to go on, she believes David left Jane to be with her. In her mind there can be no other reason. Soon he will contact her and they will breeze through life together, leaving their spouses behind. Every time the phone rings she runs to answer it. A few times it is David, but he’s calling to speak to Martin. Emily is dumbfounded. Her fantasies have clouded her reality. Emily is so thoroughly occupied thinking about David, she neglects to see that for all intents and purposes Martin has left her as well. He comes in late from work each night and creeps quietly into bed. Actually Emily is relieved. Her sexual fantasies have come to be all that she needs. Then one morning Emily gets what she wants; Martin tells her he’s leaving. “I’m so sorry, Emily,” he says. He looks down at the glossy oak planks splashed with sunshine. This is Emily’s final sign. She is free now to pursue David. She can’t wait for Martin to pack his things and leave. Standing in the kitchen impatiently drumming her fingers on the granite counters, at last she hears the front door slam. Her heart beats furiously as she dials David’s cell. She has no idea what she’ll say. She’s certain, however, he’ll know why she’s calling. “Martin?” he says. “No. It’s me. Emily.” “Oh, hi.” Emily hesitates. “Bad connection?” he asks. “No, no. I thought you’d want to know…Martin left me.” “I know.” “But it only just happened.” “I’m sorry, Emily. No one ever plans these things.” “It’s the way it’s supposed to be. We can be together now.” “What did you say?” “We can be together now. Isn’t that what you want?” “Haven’t you spoken to Jane? I told her everything last week.” But Emily has avoided Jane since her separation from David. “What are you saying?” “Me and Martin, Emily. This is about me and Martin.” Emily’s fantasy careens to a close. The phone slips from her hand and hits the floor chipping a pale yellow Mexican tile. Martin, she discovers, had a secret too.

Explanation: Throughout her marriage to Martin, Emily secretly loves David. Following their separation, she is certain she will end up with him, but it’s Martin who actually does. Opposite: © vgstudio | DollarPhotoClub

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Twisted Endings March 2015

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© alessandrozocc | DollarPhotoClub

Silent Screen By Carl Palmer

T

he wall mounted TV across the room, just loud enough that I can’t hear it, is showing an old photo of me when I was a kid with no front teeth wearing a red football helmet. I’m standing beside an even redder boy’s bicycle. That makes me 6 years old in that picture. I remember getting to ride it to first grade that year. My teacher’s name was Miss Deal. She wouldn’t allow us to sing the alphabet or use our fingers to count. Dad said she didn’t play with a full deck, that she had the perfect name. Why’d I remember all that? I don’t know how long I’ve been focused in on the screen. Not really looking at what’s on the program, but daydreaming at it. I must have dozed off on the couch in front of the tube. I’ve done that before. I’m still so sleepy, must of slept too long. Maybe I’m still asleep. Before this instant, I don’t know how long I’ve been gawking toward the TV. What are all these people doing around me? Why am I so tired? Am I at the airport, waiting at a gate? I can’t seem to focus. I want to shush the crowd, ask one of them to tell me where I am. Turn up the sound. I just don’t have the energy. I’m exhausted. I just realized that I’m still zoned in on the TV. I try to turn my eyes away, to view these blurry people moving around in my peripheral vision, to see what they’re up to, but the effort passes quickly, as I see that the screen is now showing a picture of me in my military dress uniform. No hat, so I must have been indoors, one of the rules. There were many rules in the military, just like church. The girls had to wear a hat in church or a veil, or a handkerchief held with a bobby pin. I used to make cooty poppers out of bobby pins, raise a whelp and a welt. Am I on drugs, a drug flashback? 16 | Twisted Endings March 2015

This racket everybody’s making, yakking back and forth, back and forth as if I’m not even here, reaching over, handing each other stuff across me in my bed. What am I doing in bed and whose bed is it, it’s not my bed. It’s not even my room. All this noise, loudest is this constant pumping sound of that rubber and chrome contraption going up and down, up and down just at the corner of my view and that insistent beeper blaring an obnoxious busy signal just above my head. This continuous “wish-thump, wish-thump, beep, beep, beep, beep” seems to grow louder and louder and louder and the people murmuring, no way can I hear TV. Now they’re airing a picture of my wife holding an infant crying at the camera, a little boy, naked. Is that my grandson or my son, they looked so much alike at that age. Little bladders of liquid crap and vomit that overflow from both ends, boneless neck and miniature fingers. They grow up, get so big, run so fast, laugh so much and then can only be seen on another channel if you have cable. Do I have cable? Why do these people have to keep getting in front of the damn television set? Why is it so blamed loud in here? All of them crowding around closer, shoulder-to-shoulder, peering anxiously into my face and blatantly leaning forward to get in my way, looking at those electronic graphs and charts on that computer monitor someone wheeled in with the black coils and little colored cables and wires, bobbing their heads in agreement to the droning voice above my head as a finger is pointing at icons on the screen, taking notes on their clipboards like freshmen at the university. I want to see TV, but I can only stare in that general direction, too tired to even blink, too much noise to hear it anyway, Beep, beep, beep, beep, wish-thump, wish-thump. Suddenly, silence. More than silence. Everyone stands up straight, looking at me as if I caused the quiet. The bleeping busy signal has stopped, just for a moment, and then the blast of an ear splitting electronic alarm clock buzzer Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee… loud, more than loud. Is that my bedside clock? Is all this just a dream, time to wake up? Suddenly a loud voice yells, ”Clear” and everyone jumps back. At least now I can see TV. If only someone would turn off that damn buzzer.

Explanation: Not in control, informed, aware or ready for all this hectic activity so soon after waking up. Or am I still asleep?


FedEx Man By Fay L. Loomis Life doesn’t necessarily deliver what we expect.

© Rafa Irusta / DollarPhotoClub

T

he timer buzzes. Time for my last urine collection. I pee into the cup and head for the kitchen to dump this catch into a jug that has been refrigerated for the last six hours. As I pass the front door, I see a dark brown silhouette. Oh, my God, I think, the FedEx man is early, am I going to blow this carefully scheduled bio hazardous pickup? I fumble with one hand to get the key in the door and open it. “I have done the last thing and just need to package it up. Can you hold on for a few minutes?” I ask, cup hoisted in awkward salute. “No problem,” he says. I rush into the kitchen, grab the jug, and pour in the last offering to the lab scientists who will search for heavy metals. Two stents miraculously placed in my heart have saved my life. Now my heart flutters wildly, my body trembles and tingles. Get used to it, be glad you are alive, they say – except for cardiologist number six who searches for answers. Will this be the definitive test? I doubt it. Trauma to body and psyche? No lab test for that. I pull the instruction sheet close to me. Shake well before pouring into specimen vial. Oops, I may have done it too well; it spills into the sink. Never mind, I will scrub later. Yup, up to the fill line. Screw tightly, (wash hands), put vial in small plastic bag, seal. Place bag, requisition form, and copy of front and back of insurance card into box. Close lid, don’t staple or tape. OK. Place box in FedEx bag and seal. I open the door and hand the bag to the driver as I say, “Thanks for your patience.” He takes it (do I detect gingerly?) and tells me, “They said before 2:30.” “Nope, after 2:30.” I want to add that I have washed my hands; however, he goes on to a new subject: the hornet’s nest. “I see the nest is gone.” He had followed the growing nest over the summer, though not my reasons for leaving it at the corner of my garage door: a safe haven for insects that support life on earth and are quickly disappearing. When I saw the first dot of a nest, I figured it would be abandoned because of the constant shaking of the door as it opened and closed. The hornets were not in the least deterred from their predestined schedule. Each time I opened the door, the back of

the nest was exposed, revealing intricate honeycombed passageways that mesmerized me. “I just took it down about half an hour ago. I wish I had had a sharper, thinner blade, without a handle, as I damaged it a little. It was glued on tight. My daughter wants it. I don’t know what for. She’s an artist,” I explain. “It’s so beautiful. Did you see the pattern it left?” Almost as magical as the shades of lacey gray fractals that undulate across the grotesquely shaped form, I thought. “Yes, I did,” he answered. “Where did they go?” “All died, except the queen, who will hibernate somewhere until she begins a new nest in the spring.” Their whole life instinctively lived in a few short months, guided by inherent wisdom, I thought. “Oh”, he says, “I didn’t know that.” “I didn’t either, until I looked it up on the internet.” He makes a half turn and points. “I see you have a new nest starting.” “Where?” “Right there at the corner of your porch,” he says, as he walks closer, though keeping a safe distance. “Oh, yes, I see it. I have lots of wasp’s nests. One summer I counted more than 20.” “I would be afraid I would get stung. Aren’t you?” I look into his eyes and see him wondering about me and my relationship to these stinging ones. The Greeks said bees were messengers of the gods, I want to say, but don’t. “No, not really. For the most part they leave me alone, if I leave them alone.” He doesn’t ask if I’m afraid of death. I’m not, just afraid of the sting of death.

Explanation: She waits for lab test results – and the sting of death. Twisted Endings March 2015

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18 | Twisted Endings March 2015

Š Africa Studio / DollarPhotoClub


The Switch By Monique Berry The perfect plan was put in motion—peace at last. Or is there?

C

arol watched the morning shadows stretch their way through the window slats and waited for her best friend to return to the phone. She looked at her watch—7:20. Viv, hurry. Bill is about to wake up. Moments later she whispered, “Oh, good. You’re back.” Carol looked around to make sure she was alone. “The boys will be down soon. But thanks for the support.” Upstairs, Carol heard Bobby’s feet shuffling across the creaky flooring. It was time to start breakfast. Her mumbling husband walked into the kitchen while she made coffee. Carol shook her head. A nother morning of ‘argue cereal’ for breakfast. “I am so sick of waking up to this every morning. We hardly discuss things anymore. When we talk, it always—” She turned around and saw Bobby standing outside the kitchen door. Her stomach sank when she looked at his flat, unsmiling eyes. He pursed his lips and walked through the continuing verbal assaults. Bill’s face darkened with defiance. “Why should I talk? Or even listen, for that matter? It’s nothing but complaints.” Bobby joked to lighten the mood. “Hey, Dad! Did you hear about the boy who—” Agitated, Bill gave him a vicious glare and then got up to pour himself a second cup of coffee. The abrupt movement caused the chair to tip, which sent a howl through the kitchen. He didn’t see the dog sitting at his feet. “You stupid dog!” He rubbed the back of his neck. “This discussion is closed. I have to finish dressing. And don’t forget. I’m meeting an important client today. You better hope it goes well, for your sake.” Half way up the stairs, Bill yelled, “Oh. Make me a tasty lunch this time. They’re always so dull.” Bobby got up to follow, but Carol put a hand on his shoulder. “Aren’t you going to eat breakfast this morning?” Carol sensed that Bobby wanted to tell her something. “Uh, no, Mom,” he replied. “I gotta get going. Not hungry anyway.” While the boys were upstairs dressing, Carol stared at her disheveled reflection in the cracked mirror above the sink. Two helter-skelter strands of hair toppled onto her forehead. Even my hair is exhausted from arguing. I’ve had it with walking on eggshells. I’ve had it with being bullied. I’ve had it with being afraid. A sudden calm replaced her angst. She felt as though her soul had suddenly been unlocked—she had a plan and would see it through. Tomorrow would never be the same. While Carol took out the ingredients to make their lunches, Bobby ran down the stairs. “Mom, you shouldn’t make such big lunches. I don’t usually eat everything, anyway.” “Don’t worry about it, Bobby. I’d rather see you full than being hungry all day… There. Finished.” Bobby picked up one of the lunch bags sitting on the counter and yelled, “I’m gonna be late for the school bus. See ya, mom.” Afterward, Bill walked into the kitchen. She greeted ‘Goliath in a shirt and tie’ with a smile. “You’re right, dear. This conversation is finished. Have a good day.”

A

fter the bus doors opened, Bobby walked to the back and kept his head down—past the expected giggles and snickers. He wanted to see if Bulldog Sergio was on the bus but didn’t dare. Once it was in motion, he closed his eyes and tightly held the lunch bag with his short, stubby fingers. Suddenly, the giggles stopped. Bobby opened his eyes. It was Sergio! The human serpent was slinking a path right to him. Bobby’s hands shook. “Hey, lookie here, folks,” taunted Bulldog. “It’s Bobby Sloppy! Did you come to learn something today? Or did you need help with adding a few lumps to that peewee brain of yours, huh? What’s this? Cat got your—” Bulldog’s eyes narrowed in on Bobby’s lunch bag. He yelled to his girlfriend, “Hey, Gypsy girl. You bring a lunch today? No?” Bobby sank his teeth into his lip. Not wanting any trouble, he surrendered his lunch even before the bully took it. Sergio rummaged through the bag like a snarling bulldog and then stepped on everything except the sandwich. He flung it toward his girlfriend. “Here you go, Gypsy. A present for ya. Vivian wouldn’t want you going through the day hungry.” All the kids laughed.

C

arol was drinking tea at the kitchen table when Bobby came home. “Hi, son. How was your lunch?” “It was good,” replied Bobby. His rapid blinking and lack of eye contact confirm her suspicion that Bobby was lying. He went to the sink, washed his hands, and took a deep breath. “Mom, I didn’t eat my lunch today. Sergio always picks on me and takes my lunches. If I don’t give them to him, he punches me and—” A phone call interrupted his confession. “Vivian! Slow down…” Carol placed her hand over her heart. “…What? I’m so sorry. Is she all right? What’s her condition?” At the same time, she heard approaching footsteps. Carol’s favorite teacup fell through her shaking hand and onto the floor. “Mom? What is it?” Bill walked in and put his lunch down. This isn’t possible. He should be dead. “Carol. Remember the meeting I told you about? I would treat you to a dinner but—” “D-didn’t you eat your lunch?” “No, I didn’t. It looked like the same boring lunch as usual. Besides, that brilliant boy of yours took the wrong one to school. I ended up getting a bag marked Bobby instead of Bill. Why?” “Hello? Carol, are you there? I have to meet Gypsy at the hospital…” Carol slumped back in her chair and whispered, “Oh, God!” Explanation: A bullied woman plans to end her husband’s life with the support of her best friend. But poor planning costs an innocent girl her life. In the end, no one got what they wanted. Twisted Endings March 2015

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September 2014

THE MAGAZINE FOR LOVERS OF UNPREDICTABLE PLOT TWISTS

I hope you enjoyed spending time with the contributors. Come back September 2015 for more unexpected plot twists.

20 | Twisted Endings March 2015

Profile for Halcyon Magazine

TE March 2015  

Plot twists as created by Marjorie E. Brody, Blair Chen, Mel Goldberg, Dan Delehant, Rod Martinez, Wayne-Daniel Berard, Lorna Pominville, Ka...

TE March 2015  

Plot twists as created by Marjorie E. Brody, Blair Chen, Mel Goldberg, Dan Delehant, Rod Martinez, Wayne-Daniel Berard, Lorna Pominville, Ka...

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