author Martha Reed to the blog today as she explains how research played a
significant role in the tale…
Rules of Ransom by Martha Reed
released NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Book 3 in my John and Sarah Jarad Nantucket
Mystery series, last week. As they say on Nantucket, this one’s a whopper.
When state archaeologists
lift the lid on a suspicious steamer trunk buried in Nantucket’s landfill,
Detective John Jarad’s world explodes. The trunk’s contents reactivate intense
interest in Nantucket’s most notorious cold case crime, the Baby Alice Spenser
kidnapping in 1921.
Sarah Jarad has a slightly
different life focus. Halfway through a twin pregnancy, Sarah is convinced that
she is losing her mind. She can’t shake the feeling that she’s being watched.
She’d like to blame her paranoia on raging hormones, but that doesn’t ring
true. Sarah fears that her control freak ex-fiancée Mason has finally tracked
her down, and that Mason is on Nantucket, plotting revenge.
As John pursues the Baby
Alice investigation, myriad family scandals emerge from the Spenser’s
privileged and gilded past. Events flare white-hot when a copycat criminal
snatches a second child. John and Sarah must race against the clock to unmask
the kidnapper and expose these modern day threats.
I needed to research two key
elements in NO REST FOR THE WICKED: 1) the evolving world of forensic DNA
analysis, and 2) because of the copycat kidnapping plot point, I needed to
learn the rules of ransom.
Kidnapping wasn’t a national
offense until 1932, when President Hoover signed it into law. Until then,
authority was held at the state level. As part of my research, I discovered these
rules to follow in a modern day kidnapping event:
1) The event is just getting
started. Don’t expect it to be over quickly. Negotiations can take weeks,
months, even years. There can even be a significant length of time after the
ransom is paid before the person is returned.
2) The family and the ransom
team need to stay strong and focused. Don’t give into emotion.
3) The family needs to decide
on an initial lowball offer to establish a ransom base. This lowball offer lets
the kidnappers know that the family is not going to cave in to their demands.
Chances are that the kidnapper will reject the offer anyway, to show that
they’re not afraid to play.
4) Kidnapping is about exercising
control. The only power you have is that you’re the sole buyer in this
particular market. Develop a game plan, and anticipate some back and forth
5) Demand “proof of life.”
Insist on speaking with the victim and hearing their voice. If the kidnapper
refuses, be prepared to insist on it, or else the negotiations will not
Researching this level of
detail is what makes the story line authentic. It underlines the emotional
pressure that my characters are experiencing, which helps me draft the
narrative. Plus, it’s a great excuse to ask a lot of crazy questions, which
makes the whole effort interesting and fun.
My publisher, Buccaneer/KMA Pittsburgh, decided to run a Fan Reader Appreciation sale on all of my Nantucket Mysteries to celebrate the launch of NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Book 3. The trade paperback price has dropped to $9.99; the ebook versions are only $3.99. The sale ends on March 15, 2017.
MARTHA REED (web link: www.reedmenow.com) is the author of the award-winning John and Sarah
Jarad Nantucket Mystery series.
Book 1, THE CHOKING GAME, was
a 2015 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion nominee for Best Traditional Mystery. THE
NATURE OF THE GRAVE, Book 2, won an Independent Publisher (IPPY) Honorable
Mention for Mid-Atlantic Best Regional Fiction. Book 3, NO REST FOR THE WICKED
was released by Buccaneer/KMA Pittsburgh in February, 2017.
Martha recently completed a
four-year term as the National Chapter Liaison for Sisters in Crime, Inc. You
can follow her on Twitter@ReedMartha.
Barry is back today for FFB with a review of a book
that was not published in the distant past. Make sure you check out the full
list of reading suggestions over at Todd Mason's blog.
MIRROR IMAGE (2010)
by Dennis Palumbo
Reviewed by Barry
clinical psychologist who specializes in treating those who have experienced
severe traumas, Dr. Daniel Rinaldi has been working with Kevin Merrick for six
months, during which the troubled and previously hospitalized young man has
gradually identified with Rinaldi such that he’s trying to become his therapist by stealing small items from the office and
“(H)esitantly at first, and then quite blatantly, he’d begun dressing like me…His
beard, without my telltale sprigs of gray, was coming in nicely….Then today,
when I opened the connecting door to the waiting room for our regularly
scheduled appointment, I found Kevin hanging up a dripping jacket next to mine
on the standing coat rack.” The jacket is very similar to one of Rinaldi’s own.
session with Kevin at the novel’s opening includes a significant revelation
about the latter’s past, a revelation that amounts to something of a
breakthrough that has been a long time coming. When the session ends, Rinaldi says,
“I meant what I said in there. It took guts to reveal such an old, painful
secret…” Kevin replies, “Hell, man, I got lots
never learns directly from his patient what they are because, upon departing
from the office, Kevin is murdered in the parking garage beneath the building.
As a sometime consultant to the Pittsburgh police department, and as a man with
the kind of conscience that demands being in on the capture of the murderer,
Rinaldi is not about to let up even when it’s suggested that Kevin’s
resemblance to him might have made him
the actual but mistaken target.
loath to reveal any other details because the impeccably paced and plotted Mirror Image is fraught with multiple
twists and surprises I don’t want to spoil. (I advise readers to be wary of
comments at sites like Amazon, Goodreads and others of that sort because
they’ll learn of some major plot points before they discover them in the novel
itself, and thus ruin the surprises.)
I’ll only point out that several other murders occur, including one for which
Rinaldi is a prime suspect; that an influential, amoral billionaire who might
have political ambitions plays a significant role; that Rinaldi develops an
intimate but complex relationship with the very attractive Casey Walters, an assistant
district attorney; that he has conflicting issues with a district attorney who
aspires to a state governorship; and that some questionable business dealings
might factor in to some of the aforementioned events.
Dennis Palumbo started out as a screenwriter, and is responsible for the
wonderful film My Favorite Year,
episodes of Welcome Back, Kotter and
other television series. He went on to become a psychotherapist himself, so his
fictional protagonist, a man who has known severe trauma himself, speaks
plausibly about the patients he deals with as well as dealing with some of his
impeccably paced and plotted whodunit/thriller with a strong sense of place, the
dialogue in Mirror Image is
skillfully rendered in the manner I’ve come to associate with the likes of Evan
Hunter/Ed McBain and Jeremiah Healey: dialogue that individuates characters and
makes them come alive and practically walk off the page. Easily one of the best
mystery novels I’ve read in quite a while, and the first in the Daniel Rinaldi
series I look forward to reading more of, I strongly recommend it to all but
those readers who find moderately graphic (but not protracted) violent and
sexual moments, as well as some street language, offensive.
Gallard has only been a detective for a month so the deceased woman hanging
like a scarecrow at the Three Sisters Organic Farm might be a bigger case than
he is ready to handle. Though he has been with the department for eleven years,
Gallard has been a detective barely a month. Not even long enough to be
comfortable wearing a suit on the job. If the case wasn’t complicated enough,
somebody opened fire on the crime scene as Deputy Pudge, Gallard, and the two surviving
sisters as they contemplated Gladys and the strange note that was pinned to
everything that has happened, Sheriff Clayton thinks Detective Gallard is going
to need some help and wants Al Quinn to assist and unofficially mentor Gallard.
Al Quinn is sixty-two and far too young to be retired in Sheriff Clayton’s
opinion. While he tells Quinn that all he wants is for him to show Gallard how
to up his detective game, Quinn figures Clayton has something more in mind. The
good sheriff frequently has an agenda within an agenda, but what that would be in
this case, Quinn has not idea. Things at home are not at all relaxing and since
he owes Clayton as they go back many years, he agrees to help for a few days.
Neither Quinn nor
Gallard are thrilled to be forced together, but they form an uneasy alliance to
work the case agreement. Good thing too as the dead woman isn’t the only murder
case they have on their hands in the South Texas Countryside.
Second in the series
that began with To
Hell And Gone In Texas is
another good read. While billed as an Al Quinn Novel, the read is also
about the other people in his life whether it be his brother Maury, his brother’s
nurse, Bonnie, or other folks. Those relationships with Quinn, as well as the
relationships between each other, are just as much as a part of the read as is
the highly entertaining mystery. As was done in the first book, author
Russ Hall has set up another complex mystery in the Texas Hill County and
challenged readers to figure it out first.
While you could read A
Turtle Roars In Texas first, it is recommended that you start at the
beginning with To Hell And Gone In Texas. There is some character evolution at
work here and less familial backstory in the read, so it is best to read in
order. Both books are highly entertaining and mighty good reads.
A Turtle Roars In Texas: An Al Quinn
Novel (Book 2)
Today on the blog, we have
something a bit different as it has been a long time since there has been an excerpt
from a new book shared here. Bill Crider recently reviewed
this so go take a look at that review after you read the excerpt below.
THE RIGHT WRONG NUMBER: An Ed Earl
wasn't San Francisco or London, but the fog was thick and flowing -- like tufts
sucked from a bale of cotton, carrying the muddy tint of a used linen filter.
It made him think of trench coats, lamp posts and the low warning moan of a
ship's horn sounding somewhere out on the water. Rolling across the flat
fields, it made dark gray ghosts of the trees that huddled along the far
fencelines and left cold beads of moisture on his skin and memories of old
black-and-white movies in his mind.
But there were no ships in the
harbor, no waterside buckets of blood, no Rick or Ilsa. Just lightless
farmhouses, barns, open-sided equipment sheds and squat corrugated feed bins
for cattle, all cloaked by the fast-moving fog, glimpsed only if the wind
parted the curtain of stained white wetness as you rolled by.
And it wasn't the Left Coast or
Britain. It was Texas and the scrubby coastal country north of Houston, beyond
the Intercontinental and its roaring planes. Take a left off the farm-market
road with the four-digit number. Find the third dirt road on the left, take it
for three miles. Splash through the potholes and set your teeth against tires
juddering across the washboard track. Hit the T of another dirt road. Look for
a faint gravel trail at your 10 o'clock. Rattle over the cattle guard. Close
the gate behind you.
Easy to remember. Hard to do with
visibility down to zero. Even with the window rolled down and the Beemer's fog
lamps flipped on. Nice car. Leather seats the color of butterscotch taffy.
Mahogany inserts flanking the instruments and fronting the glove box. Killer
sound system and a cellular phone. Shame to bang this baby along back roads,
splashing mud and gravel against its polished flanks of forest green.
Not his car. Not his problem. Fog
and time were. He was already a half hour behind schedule when his contact
finally drove up with the car, the briefcase of bills and directions to the
meet. Fog was adding more minutes to his travel time. He had to double back
when he missed one turnoff and that made him slow and leery of missing another.
Not good. Not good. Patient people
weren't on the other end. They never were. But they would wait because he had
the money, they had the product and both sides wanted this deal closed tonight.
And if they were pissed and wanted to wrangle, he could deal with that; a
matte-chrome Smith & Wesson Model 6906 with thirteen rounds of 9 mm hollow
point nestled in a shoulder rig underneath his black leather jacket.
Always the chance of a wrangle on a
run like this. Rip-offs were a run-of-the-mill business risk, even between
long-time associates. But on this deal the probability of gunplay was low. He
was just nervous about running late. It wasn't professional. He thought about
using the cellular phone but shook the idea out of his head. Not something a
pro would do.
And not something his people would
appreciate. They were security-conscious and worked the high-dollar end of the
street. No cowboys. Pros only. Running a well-oiled machine. Not that he knew
them well. He was strictly a cutout man, a well-paid delivery boy who made it
his business to stay ignorant about those who hired him and their business
He wasn't totally in the dark about
his paymasters; no prudent pro ever was. But he kept his curiosity in check and
his focus on the amount of money he was paid and the demands of the night's
It was a relaxing way to make a
living. A phone rings. A voice on the line gives him the name of a bar or cafe.
A man meets him with an envelope and instructions. And he goes where he is told
-- to deliver money, to pick up a truck or car loaded with product, to put a
bullet through the skull of someone he doesn't know.
Command and control. Just like
the Army and those over-the-border ops in Cambodia. Project Vesuvius. Studies
and Observations Group. Words both grandiose and bland to cover what he and his
comrades did. Slip over the fence, gather the intel, slit a few throats along
the way. Set up the Big Death -- from the air and on the ground. Operation
Menu. Operation Patio. Operation Freedom Deal. Cambodian Incursion. More bland
words for killing the enemy in his safest sanctuaries. Parrot’s Beak. The
Fishhook. The Dog’s Face.
A sputtering string of electronic
beeps startled him. The car phone. He glanced down and saw a red pin light
flash to the time of the beeps. He pulled the receiver out of its cradle.
"Talk to me."
"Where the hell are you?"
"You don't want me to
"You're late and that's making
some people nervous."
"Your man was late and this
phone call is making me nervous. It's not very smart."
"We decide what's smart. We pay
you to get things done and be on time. How long till you get there?"
He snapped the receiver back in
place and shook his head. Not good. Not good. Lots of snoopers scanning these
cellular circuits. A pro would know this and wouldn't risk a call unless the
other side was making a ruckus. Made him wonder if the players in this game
were as big league as he thought they were.
Those thoughts rode with him as he
wheeled the Beemer down the dirt road, looking for the T intersection. There it
was. He looked for the gravel trail, slowly turning the car to the left and
letting the fog lamps cut a slow sweep across the far side of the road. There.
At his ten o'clock. Just like he was told. He stayed alert, but his nagging
nervousness and doubts started to fade.
The trail led from the gate and
crossed the field at a sharp angle. He crept along, easing the car through ruts
and washouts. He saw the shrouded form of a tin shed and weaved the car so the
lights would pan across its open door. The yellow beams caught the wet metal of
an old tractor and two men in dark slacks and windbreakers -- one tall, bald
and lean, the other short, squat and slick-haired.
He stopped the car, fog lamps still
on. He pulled his pistol, letting his gun hand drop to his side and rear as he
stepped out, keeping his body behind the car door.
"Wanna cut the lights,
A purring voice from the short guy,
coming from a full, sleek face that made him think of a seal.
"Not really. Let's keep
everything illuminated. Makes me feel safe."
"You're among friends, guy.
Nobody wants monkeyshines here. We just do the handoff and the call and we can
all get the hell out of this fog. You're late and we're cold."
"No arguments from me, my man.
But let's do this by the numbers."
"Numbers it is, guy."
He stepped away from the car.
"Money's in the front seat.
Have your buddy do the honors."
A nod from the talker. His companion
walked to the passenger side of the Beemer and leaned in. He heard the latches
of the briefcase pop open.
"Looks good to me."
"Make the call. That okay with
"By all means. Make that call.
Tell Mabel to put a pot of coffee on."
A laugh from the talker. He could
see the other guy reach for the cellular phone. Somewhere across town, a phone
would ring. Assurances the money was in hand. Somewhere else another phone
would ring. Product would change hands. Then the Beemer's cellular would ring
again and the night's business would be done.
He was alert but relaxed, ready to
wait, the screw-ups behind him and the deal running smooth and professional
now. He had a clear view of the talker and his companion. He had his gun in
hand. He was thinking about a cup of coffee when the baseball bat cracked
across the back of his skull.
"Cut those damn lights. Secure
A nod from the companion. The talker
moved toward the third man, the man with the baseball bat, a hulk with the arms
and shoulders of a lineman and the on-the-balls-of-the-feet stance of a third
baseman. They stood over the slumped body.
"Give me a hand with this
sumbitch. He's heavy. Get that gun, Jack."
"Got it. Who'd this guy piss
"Nobody you need to know about,
guy. Or me. He's just a poor soul somebody wants whacked."
"Awful lot of trouble just to
whack a guy. What the fuck are we stagin' this thing for, Louis? Why not just
pop him and get it over with?"
"Not your worry, guy. Just
muscle him into the driver's seat and let me dress him up pretty. Bill, did you
wipe your prints?"
"Does it matter?"
A glare from Louis. The companion
shrugged, pulled a bandana from his back pocket and leaned into the Beemer.
When done, he hoisted the briefcase and walked back toward the shed.
Louis kept his eyes locked on the
bald man as he walked away, his head swiveling like a table-top fan, his eyes
popped with anger. He broke the stare and fussed with the body, pulling the
head back, reaching into the mouth, then his pocket, then back into the mouth.
Jack watched and shook his head.
"Get me that bundle, guy. The
jacket and the trench coat. And bring that bag with the stuff in it."
Bill hustled to the car. Louis
patted him on the shoulder, thanking him in that purring voice, his face soft
and placid again. He turned back to the body, peeling off the leather jacket
and unfastening the shoulder rig. He fished through the pockets, pulling
wallet, keys and a checkbook, leaving loose change. He replaced these items
with wallet, keys and a checkbook he pulled from a crumpled brown paper bag. He
pulled a ring from the right hand and a fake Rolex from the left wrist, digging
a wedding band, a class ring and a real Rolex -- an Oyster Perpetual Datejust
-- from the bag.
The jacket and trench coat came next
-- a nicely tailored Burberry, pity the waste. Louis started to sweat as he
pulled and smoothed the clothes onto the body. He unbuttoned the shirt down to
the navel, then reached into the bag and pulled out a squeeze bottle, the kind
with the thin nozzle that could poke through the bars of a footballer's
facemask. He squeezed water onto the body's chest then reached under the dash
to pop the hood of the Beemer.
"Jack -- hook up those cables,
"I know it's unpleasant, but
just do it for me, guy."
Louis fired up the Beemer's engine
then waited for Jack to hand him the twin clamps. Clamps to the body's chest.
The smell of burning flesh and electrified ozone.
Again. Again the smell.
And again. Clamps to Jack. Engine
"Bill. The acid, guy."
A glass bottle of sulfuric acid. A
small glass tray. Fingers and thumb from one hand in. Then the other hand. He
handed the tray to Bill.
"Careful with that, guy. Dump
Louis turned back to the body. He
pursed his lips as he lined up the shoulders, the head and the arms to stage
the proper angles of a kill shot.
The head was the difficult part.
Without a helping hand to hold it in place, it rolled about and wouldn't stay
upright. Louis pulled the hips forward then shoved the shoulders deep into the
folds of the leather seat, pressing them into place. The head was now resting
lightly against the butterscotch leather padding of the headrest.
That's how it would line up. He
stood up and pulled a snub-nosed Colt Agent in .38 Special from the paper bag
with a gloved hand. He eyed the angle for another second then nodded Jack away.
Louis eased the pistol barrel into a
sagging mouth, eyeing the angle one more time. He pulled the trigger, blinking
at the pistol's flash and sharp report. He dropped the gun to the floor.
The bullet had blown off the back
of the man's skull, obliterating the pulpy mark of the baseball bat and
spraying a dark stain of brains, blood and bone shards across the light-colored
leather seats. The impact canted the body across the console and gearshift,
head and shoulder jammed between the seats.
"Christamighty, it's one thing
to whack a guy up close like that, another to do all that shit with the battery
cables and the acid. But to have to fish out his dentures first? They'd have to
pay me double to do that."
"They are, guy. They are."
"Whadja have to do it
"They were making his gums
sore. He needed a new pair."
"Like he'll need 'em where he's
"You never know. Blow the car,
Jack. We gotta get us back on home, guy. Get us on the outside of some gumbo
down to Tujague’s."
"I'm for that. A shame though.
This is a nice car."
"That it is, guy. Blow her just
the same. Make it burn pretty."
"Lotta noise. Lotta flash.
Cops'll be here like flies on a dead fish."
Format .rtf or google docs following standard manuscript format
Deadline: May 1, 2017
should be under 500 words and can be any genre as long as they are dark
or contain an unusual or unexpected twist. Authors of the selected
stories will receive a contributors copy and reduced price on additional copies.. Questions and submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in .rtf or google docs following standard manuscript format by May 1, 2017.
in the Short and Twisted and Short and Twisted Fairy Tales anthology
traditions, submissions are open, while we're all in holiday spirit and
stressed for time, for Short and Twisted Christmas Tales. An anthology
of Short and Twisted Christmas tales to be published in the Fall of
should be under 5000 words and can be any genre as long as they are
focused on Christmas and contain an unusual or unexpected twist. Authors
of the selected stories will receive a contributors copy. Questions and submissions should be sent to SnTC2017@gmail.com in .rtf following standard manuscript format by March 15, 2017.
September 2016 by Darkhouse Books, We’ve Been Trumped is an anthology
of short stories speculating about life after Trump became President. Some
stories are set during the president’s first term while others are set far into
the future. In either case, most of stories make heavy use of the candidate’s
rhetoric during the recent campaign cycle. That means these stories tend to
dystopian situations and futures and are not lighthearted reading or humorous
despite what it says on the cover.
In addition to not having author bios there is not an introduction to the anthology. The read begins right away with the stories and does so with “Exceptional” by Michael Guillebeau. Set a few years In the future, Trump
National Corporation runs everything. Panama was nuked because South America
refused to drop the America part of its name. Chihuahuas went crazy in 2021 and
the only way to stop them was explosive bullets fired from M-15s wielded by
average citizens. There are other glitches. Of course, some folks have to be
eliminated to do their part for making America great again.
Kaye George’s tale
“Ivanya Figures It Out” comes next and is even further in the future. Things
have change a lot since The Imperial Regime was established in 2017. For one thing,
everyone born these days has to be named after a member of the Imperial Family.
Twelve-year-old Ivanya has been busing tables at Doyle’s diner for three years
now. Very glad to have the job the walk to and from work is the scary part of
life. One has to worry about crumbling sideways, roving gangs of men since the
cops are not around anymore, and other issues. It is the 2040’s and the life is
hard, though it could easily be worse. Some folks are lucky and escape to
Canada. That might be an option for Ivanya and her mom, but it is incredibly
Readers are taken
back to the early spring of 2017 in the murder mystery, “A Feast for Fools” by
Joanne Lucas. When the lights came back on in the restaurant in Fresno, California,
it was very clear that Trevor Sorenson was very much dead thanks to the knife
stuck in his chest. If the Eccentric Gourmet is on the premises to do one of
his reviews, the murder could destroy their business. For Dorothy and Jeff, the sister and brother owners, the night of March 31st is proving far
Paul F. has some
questions that only President Trump can answer. As the authorized biographer,
it should be relatively simple to use the video chat link and speak directly to
the President. However, it hasn’t worked that way at all in “The Chat” by Paul
Alex works at the
White House as a gardener in “Alex in Wonderland’ by KB Inglee. It has been twelve
years and he has steadily moved up thanks to those above him being fired. The
summer heat is on, but he loves his job. He also believes the man in the White
house just might be insane. That thought is reinforced by his latest
“The First White
House Costume Ball and Other Trumpery” by Diane A. Hadac explains how the event
is setup and will commence. Among other items covered is the fact that Vladimir
Putin, the unofficial Vice President, will be in attendance, there will be only
certain specified allowed costumes, as well as the plans for seating and the
food that will be served. It is a weapons friendly event so you are encouraged
to bring your guns and use them at will should non-supporters storm the ball. This
event as well as the five-step jobs plan, is explained by Billy-Bob Larrabee,
gardener and White House beat reporter.
The CIA could be very
different under President Trump and Craig Faustus Buck considers some the
possibilities in “Trump Towering.” As the story begins, CIA director Brennan is
trying to explain to the President why selling B-21s to the President of the The
Gambia is a really bad idea. Not only is the President of the African Nation
insane, ISIS is advancing and could take the The Gambia. If that happens ISIS
would take control over state of the art American bombers. While he does not
grasp this problem, maybe the President can grasp the next issue.
With his family out
of the way and hopefully safely at the grocery store in town, Lucas “Luke” Pennymore
awaits his company. It isn’t long before the Sheriff and the Editor of the
local paper show up to hear what he has to say. He has known both of them most
of his life. He has quite the tale to tell them in “According To Luke” by John
Five years after the
Zombie outbreak, Zombies these days are not that much a problem now. At this
point, with so many of them killed and many others just falling apart, those
that remain are usually found in isolated small groups or individually. For
professional Zombie Hunter Matt Hix his way of life is going away. After the
twin shocks of a Trump Presidency and the Zombie Apocalypse, everything is in
flux. Matt has no real future earnings wise unless he does something radically
different in “Career Change” by Ross Baxter.
Ever since Trump
became President, when Barry makes the donuts, he slaps a dollop of orange
frosting on it no matter the kind of donut. Every single donut, no matter the
type, gets the dollop of orange frosting. Barry does it because he believes he
is an artist and is creating thumbnuts. BK Donut is the only game in town for a
real donut so Rudy Calles gave up coming around because Barry had become a
crazed Trump supporter. This day he really wanted a real donut and came back in
“Donalds to Donuts” by Brian Asman. Coming back may have been a mistake.
Peter Cosgrove does
not know where he is or what is going on as “Great Again” by Zed Lawson Edwards
begins. After Roger pounds on the door of an office and yells at him a few
times, Peter Cosgrove opens the door to find his name and job title stenciled
on it. That is the first shock of a number of them in this tale of a world
seemly gone mad.
For the veteran in
“That Hope-y, Change-y Thing” by Caroline Taylor he made the call requesting
the President’s help two months ago. The President had promised to help every
veteran personally while he campaigned across the country. Yet, he has not
called. Hopefully, the tumor is one of those slow growing ones. Immigrating to
Canada is not an option since the Canadians closed the border. All the veteran
and his wife can do is wait and continue to show support for the President by
posting daily to social media.
A tweet caused the end
of the world. President Trump had not been in office two months when he got so
enraged by a tweet that he unleashed twelve nuclear warheads on Istanbul,
Turkey. That strike resulted in the retaliatory destruction of America in the
tale “In the Service of the People” by RJ Meldrum. One does what one needs to
do to survive. Bill and Linda do their best, but they are going to need help including
a new source of food.
Arizona in July is
hot, but that has not stopped the men and machines that are building the wall.
Rancher Hank Campbell sees them coming slowly closer as they erect huge
prefabricated sections and lock them in place. Some of the locals have been
employed by the Border Construction Corps as that is the only work around these
days. One such local is Jefferson Scott. Good thing they know each other so
there is no need for the military firepower in “Down Mexico Way” by Ring
It is supposed to be
an ordinary Saturday for Arlene Clay. Things start a little wrong with the
arrival of the delivery person in “Arlene’s Visitors” by Andrew Garvey and never
recover. In fact, they get worse when everyone is present and do not believe
her true story.
President’s voice boom through the barracks isn’t helpful when one is seriously
hung over. That is Marissa’s problem as the day starts in “Looking Good,
America” by Katherine Tomlinson. At least the new military uniforms are in and
nobody will have to wear those awful camouflage pattern outfits anymore. The
new uniforms made in China are just part of what is at work in this tale.
promised to pay the legal fees of anyone who was arrested at one his rallies
for punching a protestor. Getting the promised help from President Trump is
difficult in “A Phone Call to the White House” by Pat Anne Sirs (Kathleen
Rockwood). Unfortunately, the protestor died. The guy who did it has been
arrested and is calling from the county lock up looking for the promised help.
The nuclear weapons
have also fallen in “Lunch Special at The Trump National Golf Club” by Rachel
Cassidy. Food is also an issue here, but at least one survivor has a plan.
Written in a play
format, “Pulling Strings in DC” by TL Snow explains how the candidate became
President. Manipulating the American People was just a small part of the
Ernie and his wife,
Gloria, have more business than they know what to do with in “Success Story” by
Robert S. Levinson. It helps that the name of the business is “WALLS.” The
media attention also helps. So does the fact that Ernie has the contract for
building the greatest wall the world has ever seen.
Glenn Beck is just
one of a number of reporters at the press conference of the Secretary of
Defense and Personal Fitness, Josey Callahan. There isn’t just one wall in “The
Wall” by Warren Bull. Beck isn’t going to be out of jail for very long after
asking a question that he should not have asked in this political climate.
Making sure you have
all your papers for the Census Master is vitally important. The night of the
census is vitally important. Make a mistake and lose it all in “The Census
Master’ By Manuel Alex Moya.
As the chief editor
of superlatives and censorship at the Bannon Times, Sarah has a very important
job. It takes a lot of her time and that is why her day starts long before dawn
in “The Emperor’s New Wall” by Tamar Auber. It is going to be a very important day
as the first block of the wall will be unveiled in Times Square. Trump’s
America is grand and she has a mountain of misinformation to process.
Educating students in
the public schools is far different in “Trumped” by Ronald P. Wolff. It should
be the greatest year ever for the students as the new principal has fixed
everything. Mrs. Roberts is doing her best to keep the class on track, but her
newest student, Mario Hernandez, is not helping.
Life is very hard in
“As American as…” by Khomans Ens. It is 2021 and the drought and trade wars
have taken a huge toll. This is especially for Sophia and Olivia in their
Minnesota cabin though they do have it better than many folks. With Sophie off
to her job in Minneapolis moping hospital floors, it up to Olivia to figure out
something for dinner out of their meager supplies.
Considering how much
money is present during an election cycle to get people to vote for a
candidate, would it not make more sense to pay people directly for their vote?
A little cash, a signed contract, and a new way of doing business are at work
in “Buying Votes” by Don Noel.
The party has to be
fantastic according to his assistant, Christina, so Marcos agreed to let her
and his wife, Donna, handle all the details. The celebrity impersonators should
be a huge hit. However, one such impersonator does not seem to understand what
he is supposed to do in “The Impersonator” by Timothy O’Leary.
By order of the President,
things are going to be different this year for Flag Day and that means a major
hassle for the Secretary to the Mayor, Connie Edwards. Instead of the
traditional ceremony for Flag Day held at the front of town hall, this year
there will be a parade. June 14th is no longer to be known as Flag
Day as it is also the President’s birthday. Henceforth, the birthday of the
President is to be celebrated in every town and city in the United States by
way of a parade under very specific and detailed guidelines. Celebrating the
birthday is their patriotic duty and everyone needs to get on board and make it
happen in “76 Trombones” by Anne-Marie Sutton.
“The Divine &
Infernal Top-Secret Mission to Stop the False Apocalypse” by Joshua James
Jordan brings the read to a close. Representatives of Heaven and Hell both
thought the other side was responsible for Trump. Angels get ambient light from
all directions and have to wear sunglasses all the time so they look like the
new President. The angels always thought Trump’s hair covered up the horns.
This means the Hell Representative, Jason, and the Heaven Representative,
Veronica, need to have a private meeting in Limbo to see how to fix the Trump
The stories that make
up this anthology run the gamut from the realistic to the surreal. They vary
from present day to decades in the future. A number of them have a science
fiction angle while a few could easily be classified as fantasies. Many of the
stories have tend to dystopian situations and futures and are not intended to
be lighthearted reading or humorous. All of the stories to varying degrees share
a less than positive outlook about our future-- short or long term.
Thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and support for the past six years plus as Sandi did everything she could to be here with all of us. She is now free and not hurting anymore. I am still trying to pay off her past treatments at Medical City Dallas Hospital as well as at Texas Oncology. While the hospital can't handle direct donations, if you can help and would prefer to donate directly, please contact Debra, the financial counselor at TEXAS ONCOLOGY in SUITE 220 of Building D at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas. We thank you for your prayers, thoughts, and support for the past six years plus as Sandi did everything she could to be here with all of us.