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Mystery of the Fat Cat By David Frenkel Review

Hard boiled second grader

I read this with much ‘perspicacity’, new word learned haha.
I actually really liked this, I don’t know why people are down on it. I wanna say it went over people’s heads without seeming too pretentious. People who aren’t a fan of this kind of genre like I am wont really get it. it’s like a fun kiddy version of a Sam Spade novel.
I see it for what it is, a nice neo-noir almost essay or an opener. It’s a nice little show piece. Fun kiddy noir style diaglogue and characters, i don’t see what’s not to like. I can’t say I’d like to see you do an actual noir story with adults because that would lose it’s uniqueness but maybe you could use this as an opener to a book with a bigger mystery down the line or a series of cases like this for a children’s book.
I think it has a lot of potential.

https://www.inkitt.com/stories/mystery/156850

TOtCB Chapter 11 ‘The Boy with the Thorn in His Side’

Hey, hows it going my imaginary audience.

So, it’s done, sorta. I finished Diana After Dark, if that’s even what I’m still calling it by the time I post this. And I’m sinking into my usual funk. That completionist depression, when you walk away from a book. Like when you finish a videogame that really gripped you and then it’s over and you’re like ‘I want more’. Same for books I guess but my first experience with that feeling was videogames, just getting engrossed in that world and then having to leave it behind because there’s nothing left to do. It’s depressing.

That’s done, I say ‘done’ what I really mean is it needs shitloads more editing and fixing and tweaking which could take months but I’ll happily do it, also I think I might change her aunt character into a cop. It just might make more sense later on, give her more leverage in the story and it sort of makes sense in regard to the character she’s based on I guess.

It’s finished and I feel lost once again, trapped in that miasma of deciding what to do next. Because honestly the first thing I wanted to do was just say fuck it and write the sequel right away. Start drafting up the ideas floating around in my head and put it on paper, I literally have ideas for at least two more but I don’t know if it’s healthy to stay in that headspace for so long and listen to the same music. I figure I should put something in between.

I’m thinking I might do something that’s a twist on a bunch of Lovecraft stories. I did do a sort of weird almost Lovecraftian super hero story a while back that I could revive. It might be fun, like a cosmic horror thriller novella. Then maybe I could do another Diana or that fantasy novel I’ve been planning to do or that other fantasy novel I’ve been planning to do.

I dunno, just feeling bummed the fuck out recently and I need to get reinvigorated and throw myself back into something and I need to get this stuff cleaned up and start talking to agents again and try to get some money out of it so I can start getting deeper into potential series’.

Also planning on making a pilot or something for a Starship troopers tv show, I was just at a party recently and I thought how awesome would that be if netflix dropped all this gay ass superhero shit (Punisher not included, The Punisher is awesome, they could still fuck up his standalone show though) and started a high budget live action starship troopers tv show. I mean shit I would watch that in a second.

I mean I would be happier if I didn’t even write it, if I just gave the idea to a good screen writer and then I could just enjoy it. But it’s netflix so they’d probably still fuck it up haha. Or shit even worse if it was taken on by AMC and it couldn’t have any nudity or swearing like Preacher, fuck me sideways that was fucking retarded.

Anyway, enough of me ranting about bullshit, got another chapter of The one that came back for your viewing pleasure. You know the drill.

See you…

The Boy with the Thorn in His Side.

Porter couldn’t let it go. there was something about it that he knew would haunt him if he didn’t get something squared away. He figured a few questions, a couple of hours out of his life. That would spare him the sleepless nights, tossing and turning thinking about it.

So here he was sitting in his truck on Swallow Street. Outside Johnny’s old house. He looked into the old case reports on the boy’s disappearance online. They were bare enough for the cops to not care who looked at them and all the addresses were old anyway. This is Johnny’s old neighbourhood, he was taken in a park not too far from his home. The family moved out after his disappearance because of a new job across town.

He thought about watching the kid at first. As far as he could tell the neighbours he had. The friends he had back then were still kicking around here so they might have more to say. As far as he was concerned the person he met and the boy that went missing were two different people. So following him wouldn’t teach him anything he didn’t already know.

He’d gotten hold of a Photostat copy of his missing poster. He went over it a couple of times trying to get a picture of the kid in his mind.

Johnnathon William Bartlett Missing Since Jun 13, 2013, Missing From San Antonio, TX. DOB Dec 31, 2000. Sex Male. Race Caucasian. Hair Color Lt. Brown. Eye Color Blue. Height 4′8″. Weight 80 lbs.

Identifying features; Has three tattoos. The letter T on his left hand between his thumb and forefinger. The letter J on his left shoulder, and the letters L and N on the outside of his left ankle.

What’s a thirteen year old doing with tattoos? He thought to himself. He made the drive out to fort Sam Houston where the boy was abducted. It was at least a twenty minute drive, maybe an hour bike ride away, or a three hour walk from his house. A picture of this kid was forming already. The missing poster said he was diagnosed with adhd. So this wasn’t your average kid. Normal kids don’t have tattoos or take hour bike rides to go play basketball away from home.

Swallow street was a normal neighbourhood. Lined with modest single story homes in reasonable condition. Nothing out of the ordinary about it, no gangs, or drugs or undesirables about. The house he was looking for was 14118 Swallow Street.

The house was a small red brick building with a tiny covered porch at the entrance and a single car garage at the side. A black mailbox outfront. The lawn was small and sloped down with a single tree in the front that looked like a hand sticking out of the earth. Bare of all its leaves. All the houses in the neighbourhood were pretty much the same sandy colours. Like they all just rose out of the desert.

It was early and there weren’t too many people out, the odd dog walker or baby stroller. A squat Mexican woman one yard over was raking leaves and mumbling to herself in Spanish.

He didn’t think it would do much good asking the new owner about the missing kid. Chances are he wouldn’t have even known about the thing at all. Not exactly need to know information for a realtor to give out. ‘Oh by the way a kid who used to live here disappeared’.

But he figured it couldn’t hurt to talk to the guy. Maybe if he got talking something might tumble out and he’d get to look around a bit.

Porter parked on the sidewalk next to the black mailbox. The sidewalks were those little strip sidewalks. Like they expected you to walk single file.

Porter crossed the lawn, it was well kept, a little too short even, dry looking.

He passed through the little alcove and tapped on the glass in the door. No one answered, Porter went around the side and peeked through windows. It didn’t look like anyone was home.

“HE NOT HOME!” A shrill voice called.

Porter looked towards where the sound came from. The squat Mexican woman was looking at him from across the yard. Holding her rake close to her as she bagged leaves. Porter put on his best smile and hopped across the lawn like a little bunny. Pretending to be out of breathe when he reached her.

“Mr Hostelle not home, he work in construction travel a lot, he come back next week.”

“Right, thanks” He was surprised, he didn’t even need to ask any questions yet.

“Something you want?”

“As a matter of fact, I was wondering if you knew the family who used to live here?”

“You here about the boy who disappeared, Johnny whatshisname?” She said tutting trying to remember his name. Waving her hand trying to pre-empt Porter correcting her and progressing the conversation.

“Bartlett” He said flat.

“That’s it Bar-lett, the news people already been here, you with them?” She probed the air with the end of her rake acquisatorially.

“Not really, I just wanted to know more about the boy, can you tell me anything?”

“Si, I remember.” She said curtly as she tied up the garbage bag full of leaves a little too tight. She looked up from the bag and cocked her head to the side. “You want me to say he was the pefect little angel who flew away, is not true. That one was a little puta!”

Porter thought it best to keep quiet and pretend he was taking mental notes, which he was.

“The policia, they come around all the time for this kid, and this a good neighbourhood”. She swung around as if to give him a good look at the neighbourhood, her house was simple but nice. A single story house with a slanted roof, a large two car garage with a 4×4 taking up one a half cars worth of space. The windows outside looked almost like church windows, three in a row. Twin cedar trees dominating her lawn. “We don’t get much trouble, but with him always trouble. He come home late, screaming and shouting and fighting and drug”.

“Drugs?”

“That’s what I hear, I never see, and that not the first time he run away either. Last time he was hiding down the bottom of my yard. Tearing up my flower bed.” She started to get fidgety now. “And these not little kid fights. When they fight, they fight, they use knive, the mother she have boyfriends and they no good.” Something told Porter she was enjoying this a little too much. The reporters didn’t let her get to the nit gritty. Like she wanted.

“Do you know what happened to Johnny’s father?”

“No, we moved in after he was already gone, they say, err, he run away” She shrugged.

She started looking a little more nervous than aggravated. She started rubbing a cross that was hanging around her neck. She made the sign of the cross. “Madre dios, that’s not all, one night we call the police because we heard noise”.

“What kind of noise?”

“Like an animal cry and like singing, err not singing, like a droning noise. The police come and the man, err what his name J- something. He answer the door cover in blood”. She moved her hands to signify the blood was all over and her eyes were wide now and he could see the whites. She was excited, a little theatre crept in.

“What did the cops say” Porter stayed cold and flat like a frozen flank steak.

“He say, the man, that it was chicken blood. He kill a chicken for dinner, no way, in mehico we kill chickens, very little blood. You see a chicken, they very small, not very much blood. Head to toe. The policia, they leave him alone”. She shrugged and wrinkled her bottom lip.

“Was this around the time Johnny went missing?”

“I don’t remember exactly, maybe. It get so bad, with the boy that they had to bring in his Uncle to come live with them because the boy was so violent. He was hitting his mother so they bring in the man J-something to keep the boy, behave, you know. But you know the news they only want to hear how good he was. Cute little blonde boy with blue eyes go missing. They only want to hear nice things about him” She chuckled to herself.

“Thanks, you’ve been a big help”

“Si” The woman said as she raised her eyebrows and got back to raking leaves.

Porter went back to the dodge and got in and sat there for a moment, tossing gravel in his head.

 

 

 

Review for “The Package” Author BryanQ

A great read, it hits that spot for me that sits right between your Dan Brown schlock and your serious crime thrillers, your noir mysteries. The opening is tense and sets the scene well and then the inter cutting with the past is a nice touch to build upon the mystery further and bring in a fresh additional level of intrigue. I really love stories that do that, it just adds something out stretching the story entirely, linking the past and the present. Honestly it’s a little slow, a little dry and a little too cerebral for me I like what I like, you can tell in my writing.

I prefer hard hitting action from the start and this story is very methodically paced and I have a very short attention span, But I’m fairly young, so I’m guessing it’s not really aimed at my age bracket and I think an older lover of mystery/thriller epics would be thoroughly engrossed in this if and when it goes to print. Overall, solid, well researched work, a great deal of time and effort evidently gone into it.

The Package

Diana After Dark Chapter 4 ‘Heads over Heels’

Yeah so playing with the name a little, someone told me to get rid of the alliteration and I thought it was a little heavy to have it in the title despite the obvious homage to the source material but I can always change it.

So things are going well, having a lot of fun writing it as usual, also oddly having a lot of fun proof reading it. But obviously I’m pretty biased. I do have a lot of trepidation, I’m thinking of reworking some of it. I see my short falls a lot more in this piece when I compare it to the source.

There’s just some stuff I lack, some vital piece I think I’m missing and I feel like I have to fake. I just need to go over it and I need it to be edited and I need someone to put a partial eye to it and tell me what I need to tweak. Because I feel like it’s almost there, it has all these nice little touches. And it really is the little things that make something like this, the small touches that add up to this one great big living world.

Huh, I dunno. I just need to step back and look at it and get some feedback, and I mean real feedback not people on inkitt blowing smoke up my ass.

Well anyway, this is a fun chapter, lots of senseless gore haha Actually that was the last chapter, well whatever haha.

See you…

Heads over heels

~

I squeaked my chair back an inch. I felt, I felt, numb, I felt like I was vibrating, happy, satisfied, complete. I felt like lighting up a cigarette and leaning against the board of a four poster bed. What was this, what was that? Could it have been real? It could have been faked, easily. But something in her eyes and something, that thing, deep inside, deep in the dark well told me it was all too real. It’s tinny little laugh ringing like a hunchback swinging on a church bell.

 

My skin felt damp like I just got out of a pool, refreshing, tingling sensation going up and down. Working up my spine and down my legs. My heartbeat slowing, breathing going back to normal.

 

I’ll have what she’s having, or what he’s having.

 

I felt dazed, tension working loose on my muscles made them slack and weak and I shook as I logged off and stumbled goggled eyed out of the library. My arms felt like limp noodles, like useless pieces of string pulled along by a runaway kite.

 

I felt, good.

 

I almost ran, through the halls tripping over my own feet hearing only my shoes screeching against against the cool silence in the empty school.

 

I stopped at my locker, I meant to get print outs of the newpapers and some of the juvie records but I forgot and it was already nearing closing time. Tomorrow is another day Diana I thought as I fumbled with the lock on my locker, it came off easy like I didn’t even lock it. I must have forgotten, in my daze. Not like I keep anything valuable in it unless futures in deflated volleyballs have sky rocketed in the last couple of hours.

 

I opened it and started to unload my satchel into it. The notepad and pens back in their rightful place.

 

Casting a wanton glance at the volleyball, almost like a mascot, I may as well paint a face on it and start talking to it. Then I noticed, in the corner of my eye.

 

There was already a face on it.

 

Someone had drawn a big smiley face on it with eyelashes in black marker.

 

Funny.

 

There was a strange noise like a pirate skulls lower jaw opening and there was a feeling like a giant boulder was going to roll down the hall and crush me. Like I’d stepped right on an X someone had carefully placed for me.

 

The noise was coming from Wendy’s locker to the left of mine. I closed my locker and actually locked it this time. The door being out of the way gave me a good look at her locker which now was ajar.

 

The lock of which had been cut with a set of bolt cutters. Bolt cutters? But why use those on her locker and not mine, maybe I really did leave it open, or he knew the combination.

 

This was getting too much, I was getting carried away, this was silly, it was all in my head. Not everything is about me. I’m not the centre of the universe. I’m going to open this locker and there’s going to be absolutely nothing inside it because this was just a simple robbery. Maybe someone saw her leave a macbook inside and just had to have it. A simple explanation for a simple buttoned down world.

 

Was I going to open it? I know that’s what he wanted me to do. Does that mean I should? Should I play his game, that’s what he wants, he wants to play.

 

I want to play too. I really do.

 

I felt a shiver up my spine as I thought that, as my true intentions became known even to myself. The darkness inside stretching like a cat, clawing the inside of my head playfully pricking me.

 

I put one finger inside the tiny dark opening and I nudged it open and let the gravity do the rest. The door swung open slow, creaking all the way giving me that long pirate ghost laugh. Behold ye not so buried treasure.

 

I wanted to gasp but all breath was stolen.

 

There it was.

 

There he was.

 

“Hello Benjamin” I said. My voice carrying an echoing that vibrated all through me. Both voices coming together and smirking as a puzzle piece fell into place.

~

 

 

Review for “The Lady and the Prince” Author Jan Suchomel

Now, I have to say this is the last type of story I would read, I’m english so period dramas are played incessantly here and bore me to tears but even I liked this. The characters are likeable and believable and the world is effortlessly constructed, I can almost smell the wood and the food. I thought the writing was very high quality, this is something I would expect to read in print.

The plot and the backstory is delivered very very well, I was expecting this to drag a little and be a slow burn but we get the plot rolling right after we set the scene with the house and their affairs. So right off the bat after the first chapter you have a great reason to turn the page because you want to find out what’s wrong with the prince. It’s a great way to start a story, you’ve met and like the characters and now are sprinkled with a little mystery and intrigue.

I didn’t notice any problems grammar and spelling wise, I don’t really have much more to say about it, I pretty much made my mind up about it halfway through the first chapter, excellent work.

The Lady and the Prince

ToTCB Chapter ten ‘All Tomorrows Parties

Hey there folks,

Gonna keep it brief, throw out another chapter of something juicy and bale. Not much to update on, been pretty dark recently inside and out. Day job has been a little annoying and I’ve just been engrossed in this latest project up to a point where I almost see nothing past it. I got lost a little a long the way, I lost myself in it, had some more shitty developments in my personal life my house falling apart not withstanding. Water is shut off right now because the guy we had do out kitchen was a shit plumber and it all needs to be redone, what a ball ache.

So far sales of GS are pretty shitty but its a first book and the publisher has his shit to sell too and honestly I mean did I really think I was going to making boat loads of cash off a book about a zombie gameshow? Nah.

I’m just gonna keep doing what I do, maybe work on the zombie stuff if my publisher wants them other than that gonna keep writing real shit and trying to get an agent so I go on to a bigger publisher, tv, movies, t-shirts the whole bit haha.

As I said, short.

See you…

All tomorrows parties

Within a week Con arranged for the boy to flown out to Houston to have a forensic interview. Johnny was taken alone by a consort of FBI agents from the San Antonio field office. He was put on a plane and sent to meet a psychologist at the Texas childrens hospital in Houston. One of the biggest hospitals in the state.

They waited in an airconditioned waiting room with a black leather couch. His handler was a stuffy man that didn’t talk and just sat and read magazines. He had the demeanor of pampered night watchman, always checking the time he could clock off. Johnny people watched and bobbed his knees up and down. He couldn’t sit still. Struck by a sort of nervous energy, half way between fear and excitement.

Within a couple of minutes Johnny was called into an office. Blue walls and dark maroon leather chairs, grey steel filing cabinets against the walls.

He was greeted by a soft looking middle age man with glasses and light curly hair sitting behind a teak desk. He was dressed casually in a white shirt and sweater vest with no tie and brown pants.

He stood to shake the boys hand and sat down.

“Johnny, its nice to meet you, I’m doctor Banner. I’m just going to ask you a few questions, it’ll be very relaxed, nothing to worry about”. He smiled earnestly. There was something calming about his voice. He put Johnny at ease within a few moments and he was rattling off the story he’d told so many others already.

It was all over in a few hours and Johnny was taken back to a hotel room they got him to spend the night before his flight home.

“This is doctor Jules Banner for Agent Nancy Jaeger”

“Speaking” Her voice carried the vague disinterest of a sceptic.

“Oh, well I have some unsettling news”

“Go on.”

“Erm, well concerning his trauma.”

“Yes”

“Well to be frank, there doesn’t appear to be any.” He sounded incredulous.

“What do you mean” Nancy was hanging on the edge of the phone now.

“Well I didn’t see the same physiological change that you get in most people who suffer trauma. His body posture, his pupil size, his heart rate. There wasn’t the usual changes you’d associate with someone reliving trauma”

“So you’re telling me he’s not traumatized?”

“Yes but what’s more, what I find troubling is he can’t seem to speak English without an accent.”

“He claims to have been held in Europe for a number of years.”

“You’re not following me, he speaks with an accent, and accent can be picked up but he can’t speak without it. This is supposed to be a boy who was raised in an English speaking household until he was thirteen”.

“Ok”

“Well it tells me about the development of his brain and the development of language. It’s impossible for someone raised in an English speaking home to not be able to speak without an accent. Regardless of spending, five, ten, twenty years in a foreign country”.

“What exactly are you telling me?”

Con was watching from his desk on the otherside of the room but he wasn’t saying anything. His face was still and expressionless as he watched Nancy talk.

“I can guarantee you within the best of my abilities.” He paused for effect. “This child was not raised in an English speaking home”.

“Once more please”

“This child cannot be Johnnation Bartlett because this child is not an American”.

“Thank you Doctor.” She said as she hung up the phone.

“Peggy, this is Special Agent Nancy Jaeger”

“Yes” Peggy’s voice was strained, anxious.

“I’ve spoken with the forensic psychologist and we have some troubling news.”

“What is it, is Johnny ok?”

“Dr Banner has informed me that the person claiming to be Johnny Bartlett cannot be your brother. Because he is not in fact an American”

“What do you mean he’s not an American, he’s my brother”. Her voice got higher and she took on a comic incredulity like she was waiting for a punchline.

“The psychologist has confirmed he was not raised in an English speaking house. Due to the development of language in his brain”

Peggy got quiet, she started breathing heavy over the phone. “Oh my god!” She said through her hand cupped over her mouth.

“Now you don’t have to worry I will-“

“OH MY GOD!” Peggy started crying and shrieking over the phone. “WHAT DO I DO, WHAT DO I DO?”

“Don’t panic, me and my partner will meet him at the airport. We will take him into custody for the mean time until we can figure out who he is. You don’t need to meet him, you don’t need to take him home, we’ll handle everything.”

“Ok”.

 

Review for “Rigorous MORT” by Author Zak Standridge

Straight off the bat I’m feeling tarantino, a little guy ritchie in my head too. You have a quick and self aware hook at the start and then it leads off into this funny tarantino style conversation akin to the one in reservoir dogs about Like a virgin, It works really well. Honestly though I don’t see why you couldn’t just turn it into a novel, I mean the screenplay works fine but it wouldn’t take too much effort to turn it into a novel. It has a nice flow. The characters are interesting and you splice the scenes together really seamlessly.
I don’t know when you wrote it but I was reading the part when they’re talking about ghostbusters two wishing they were talking about the new ghostbusters haha. Also I don’t get the hate for ghostbusters two haha.
I’m not gonna say the story is some masterpiece but with Tarantino style stories, it’s more about the characters and the style. He’s not trying to tell this epic story. I think you have the characters and the atmosphere down pat.

Overall, I think it’s fun and cool and has a nice vibe, not too pretentious. Well written quirky characters. Doesn’t take itself too seriously, a lot of fun all round I’d say.

Rigorous Mort

Review for “We Were Swans” by Author GJ Freeman

Very nice package.

Great hook at the start, the blurb, the mini blurb, the chapter titles, the title of the story. It’s a very neat well presented package, it makes a very good first impression. I like the way the stories unravelling, short snippets of information, we’re getting it just as the main character gets it. You don’t dwell too long on his grief which I like, a lot of stories like this lay it on way too thick at the start when you’d more than likely be too in shock to feel grief at that point. It wouldn’t be totally real at that point. I liked the case, sort of a take on the Venibles murder but with a twist. The prologue makes you think there’s more too it as well the fact it seems open and shut from the start. Obviously there’s some kind of mystery unravelling and it does pull you in, makes you want to know more. Which is exactly what it should be doing. The writing style is very confident, not trying to hard, flows well, very relaxed. The only criticisms I have are that you have these big block paragraphs, just huge blocks of texts. It would be a lot easier to read if you broke them up a little. Other than that I can’t fault it, it’s a solid story.

We were swans

DDD Chapter 3 ‘Come into my head’

Hey there dudes and dudettes, back again to let me shovel more interesting tripe into your noodle. well good. Got some doozies for you today.

Ok well not much to report on, got my first royalty report for GS and I’m too afraid to open it and admit I suck at marketing haha. Yeah, a fair few copies sold but probably not enough to warrant a release of a sequel which is depressing but you know if someone actually went right for me I’d have to eat my fucking hat, now wouldn’t I?
I sound saltier than I actually am, I know people like the book, what’s not to like, not tooting my own horn, its just a fun book. But I never really looked at it as my magnum opus or anything like that. It was never the book to save me from the poor house but nevertheless I want it to do well and hopefully with some time and elbow grease it can and then I can release the sequels.

I can’t really get down about it, because a) I have a lot better more traditional things to depress me a la life in general haha and b) I have two more serious book franchises in the works that have a lot more potential to do well and hopefully get me a fucking agent which is what I really need. I can’t be doing with this indie shit anymore.
I’m obviously talking about this and maybe the one who came back, after extensive work, actually now I think about it it might not even be long enough after the editing and DDD is a Dexter clone so I’m pretty fucked either way, but I have to dream because otherwise what do I have? What reason do I have to go on if I don’t keep the hope alive that this is all worth something? And what is that something? Money? Fame? Love? Immortality?

Who knows?

Come into my head

~

The steady metronome of waves gently beating the shore, the smell of the spray. I open my eyes but it’s just blackness and then a light comes on but it’s not a light, it’s a moon rising out of the sea. The sea, am I on a boat? I ask myself stupidly.

Then I can feel it, the cold cloying embrace of the ocean in answer.

I kick my legs but I don’t feel I need to, I’m bobbing, cold and wet, just with my head floating above the surface of the water.

I can’t see the shore, the ocean seems endless and the only noise I hear are the waves parting and my heart beating. A rising anxiety sets my teeth on edge and I can feel it all around me. Is this what it’s like inside? Is this it’s world? A cold endless black ocean. I can’t feel the bottom, why would it have a bottom?

I can feel something, something moving, circling, rising. Waves and bubbles rising to a crescendo peaked by an anticlimactic blub blub and something bobbing on the surface of the water.

It floats towards me and I know what it is before it the moon can cast it’s bright bitter smile down on it.

It’s a head.

A perfectly lopped head of a woman. It floats towards me and in the glare of the moon it rolls open and it’s wet hair parts like a flower and it’s my dear old aunt Mary Beth. I should feel things, I should feel earth shaking, bone clattering terror and cold sweat but I feel nothing, nothing but a joyful wonder. A question answered, a life revealed, a lie told and taken away just as swiftly and my heart races and in an instant. I’m surrounded by more perfectly lopped heads, floating and bobbing like rubber ducks floating in crude.

I wake up in the same cold sweat, no maybe even colder, as colder as that black ocean, or maybe I just left the fan on, yeah it’s the fan. I slop the sheets off my damp body and walk on over and turn it off.

I need a shower and maybe a ritualistic burning of my sheets.

The water washes over me and I’m expecting revelations, a brief aside into Jungian psychology. Did I even care what the dream meant, if it meant a thing?

The sea, the darkness, fear of the unknown, the oldest fear, pretty standard. If you’re not afraid of the unknown you don’t have a very good imagination. The moon, well that was easy. I felt my teeth clicking thinking about it, getting responses up my legs and back as I just let the water flow over me.

The heads were a gift from my new and anonymous friend, but why did I recognise them, why her? I often thought about my aunt, about how I would feel if she would die. To tell the truth, if I could love anyone it would be her. Her absence in my life would be the most notable. A sapping noticeable emptiness that could be called loneliness or sadness. Something close to that but sadness was a foreign concept to someone completely bereft of any feeling whatsoever. A blessing and a curse, a crisp clear almost chipper emptiness. Like a smile with no teeth.

Where did that come from? I turned off the water and towelled off, it was a Saturday so much less care was taken in regards to time and form. As I towelled my head I heard something like the door opening and whispering.

I opened the door and looked down the hall but all I could see was my aunt holding tight to the door and looking at whomever was there. I tried looking past her but all I could see were their feet, well one foot, the other seemed to be, well not there. The stump was pressed against the stirrup of a wheelchair. The other foot not looking much more useful next to it.

She whispered harshly and shut the door latching it with the chain and the deadbolt and scurrying into the kitchen.

It took me a few minutes to get ready. I ran a comb through my hair, when I found it and put on a loose t-shirt. Then a pair of jeans more hole than denim and walked down the hall of the minimalist bungalow we shared.

She was waiting for me in the kitchen nursing a mug of gourmet instant coffee and mumbling to herself as she was one to do when something was taxing her.

I’d ask her what was wrong but she’d usually outright tell me as I was the only one she could tell her in insular little world. She really needed to get out more, like me, at least in my dreams. She owned some kind of crystal hoodoo voodoo shop in town that was run by a couple of kids. She came in to visit occasionally but most of the time she didn’t have to. Especially not on weekends. The shop did well, that kind of crap always does in California.

I came in and leaned on the the sparkly faux marble breakfast bar, none of it was new. It had all come with the house and I didn’t need her to tell me that. It has a sort of flat pack feel, like everything could be folded up and carried away at a moments notice.

I put some bread in the toaster and pressed the plunger down imagining it was some sort of small flat animal.

“What did I say about carbs?”

“That they’re delicious?” I said.

She scoffed and went back to her coffee and nothing.

“Who was that at the door?”

“Oh just the mail man, you know how chatty I can get” She took a sip waiting for my reaction “Poor guy couldn’t wait to get away.”

Now I was no expert on the hiring process of the postal service. But I was reasonably sure someone wheelchair bound and missing vital appendages couldn’t make up the required walking speed. So that was either the result of liberal diversity policies running amok or a sweet little lie rolling off my aunts lips to my ears.

“What were you talking about?” I prodded catlike, fighting a smile at the corner of my mouth.

“Oh you know, the usual stuff” She said tossing her long hair around in my face. She had it tied back with one of those seventies bands things that gave it a little lift on the top and a floral loose fitting dress. “So what are you doing today?” She asked, skilfully changing the subject as she sipped her coffee, the smell of which was driving me nuts.

“I was planning to go to the library and catch up on some studying” Of what was a need to know basis of course.

We lived in a nice but relatively secluded part of orange county. Turtle rock was a picturesque little hamlet made up of cute little match stick houses. Street names that sounded like they came straight out of fairytales. Sweetwater and rainbow falls, morning dew, sandpebble, gumdrop lane, I made that last one up. It was a good area but in comparison to the homes around us we lived in a shack. It had privacy but was incredibly secluded. You couldn’t get anywhere without a car and that was something I was sorely lacking.

“Ok”

“So I was wondering if you could drive me there and I could maybe get a ride back?”

She seemed to not be listening to what I was saying and took another sip, her head bobbing and then caught like she skipped a beat. “Sure” She said giving me a laboured smile. “Wait the library? As in at your school?”

“Uh huh?”

“It’s fifteen minute walk versus a two minute car journey” She said pausing trying to register how much I cared about carbon emissions.

“Didn’t you hear? There’s a serial killer on the loose” I said trying my best not to glow as I said it.

“I heard” she said with a ringing tone in her voice like it jumped and fell down a well. “You sure you don’t want to go the mall or something, all that work on the prom and you haven’t bugged me for a dress or shoes.”

“I still have time” I shrugged.

“Ok” She said. She picked up her unwieldly keybang off the kitchen counter with a clattering noise. Various useless keyrings like peace symbols and weed leafs. Cool aunt persona mastered. “Shouldn’t you be out with your friends? It’s a weekend.” She said clapping the keys in her hands. She almost sounded hurt, like I wasn’t fitting into the fantasy she had for a kid my age. Frolicking through piles of maple leaves and having water fights with the local kids. Taking breaks in between licking giant circular lollipops and braiding my hair. Maybe her childhood was on rainbow falls but mine fell somewhere a lot darker on the map and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Who says my friends won’t all be in the library?” They weren’t, Paul was at basketball practice and Wendy was probably at a salon somewhere getting her nails ‘did’.

“Ok sure, I can get some stuff done in town and pick you up around six?”

“I was planning on staying late, I’ll just get a ride or catch a cab or something”

“How late?”

“As long as it takes, I don’t know, are you gonna take me or not?”

“Ok fine”

“Thanks” I said in my most chipper getting my way voice.

We left the house, it was still early afternoon, I slept til about twelve which was odd. I never usually needed much sleep but these dreams seemed to leave me feeling drained. The sun was hanging lazily in the sky and the birds saw fit to fill the silence of turtle rock with their incessant happy chirping.

Most people here didn’t stay on the weekends so the place was deserted apart from the sound of sprinklers hissing. They were probably all out on the beach with their jetskies making lots of noise.

We lived on the tip of a little culdesac called whitewater, probably the least fairytale sounding name in the area. It had a mini garden in the centre of what was supposed to be a roundabout but was a tad too small. But it left more than enough to allow whatever bike or hybrid car the neighbours were packing. The place was a little too metropolitan to have front lawns opting more for the shallay feel. Little neatly formed shrubberies and trees sticking out of perfectly shaped garden strips hemmed in by the bricked driveways. Their mail boxes all nicely shaded by god knows what trees, do I look like a tree surgeon?

The houses all looked the same or similar. The same matchstick wood with sandy coloured tiles matching the tone almost perfectly. They looked almost like unpainted monopoly houses in their uniformity.

Little balconies on top for relaxing two car garages that seemed to take up most of the space in the house.

She opened the garage and drove her little rollerskate car out of the needlessly huge garage. She saw fit to fill it with useless nicknacks, a fooseball table we never used and some piece of ethnic art she picked up in a flea market. Anything to fill the void left by the tiny car in the huge garage.

The car was so small it was basically a motorized rickshaw but complaining would be pointless and eat up too much air in the car. I was getting a free ride after all. A chance I sorely needed to get a leg up on whomever was in the shadows of the internet so interested in little old me.

I opened the car door careful not to break it. I eat all my green vegetables after all. And settled in the front passenger seat, sans legroom. No complaints uttered. She started the engine and the dull hum of the electric motor made my fillings ache.

It puttered along like a milk float down the end of the drive turning right on Sweetwater. A left onto Sycamore creek and then it was another left and a straight shot onto Turtle rock drive. Only coming out of the neighbourhood noticing how much it looked like a cult compound from the outside. Trees planted there like it was a model of some Swedish fishing village and the grass cut so fine it looked like it was just paper mache painted green.

We drove for what felt like miles of an endless stream of near identical houses. Neatly topiared bushes pointing up at the bright clear pale blue sky. Were there any clouds in Orange County?

I couldn’t bare to look at their near perfection anymore. Choosing to just follow the bumps of the dry dusty hills on the otherside, reminding us all that in fact we live in a giant desert.

I opened my window because of course AC was broken in the boxy car, I was lucky the window still worked. I poked my head out for some fresh air, taking in the smell of chlorine as we passed a walled off little compound. The tops of a slide poking over the high walls. Probably owned by some cartel money man that liked quiet swedish fishing villages and indoor pools.

After about a minute of watching shadows slide over the almost non-existant crumple zone of the car. We were pulling into the flat patch of concrete that was the campas parking lot. Which was nice and empty with it not actually being a school day.

Despite all the space my aunt parked at a jaunty angle trying to take up three spaces. I got out and rounded the car to peck her on her cheek narrowly missing her pair of fake DG sunglasess. Planting a bird like poke of hard dry lips on her freckled sunkissed cheek.

“Don’t work too hard” She called at my back as I walked into the shade of the foyer.

“I wont, thanks for the ride” I called back waving at the glare of the sun, covering my eyes with my forearm.

Now onto business.

~

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