Stanley Bruce Carter
Stan Carter lives in Bellevue, Nebraska. He has been in the
newspaper business for nearly 30 years, serving as a reporter, copy
editor, columnist and typesetter at various publications. He currently
is a paginator with the Omaha World-Herald.
Learn more about Stan here:
to Stan for being in the 2012 Preditors and Editors top ten
Steampunk Category for The Caskian Scandal.
Congratulations to Stan for being in the 2013 Preditors and
Editors top ten Erotica Category for The Extortions of
New Title(s) from Stanley Bruce Carter
Click on the thumbnail(s) above to learn more about the book(s) listed.
When handsome TV archaeologist Faladan Pala disappears while taping an
episode of “I Dig the Past,” it’s up to Petchy Maligula, grrl detective,
to bring him back alive. Petchy is big and tough, and more than a match
for any man, but she does have one weakness: She’s madly in love with
Faladan Pala. When she hears an evil cult called the Sisters of Inner
Beauty may have abducted Faladan so they can sacrifice him to the
ancient serpent goddess Quatakexel, Petchy vows to save him at all
costs. As she contends with ghost gangs, demon wannabes, eccentric
professors, reclusive millionaires and snotty babes, she must draw on
all her power―both muscular and magical―to learn the truth. But as she
delves into the case, she uncovers a secret that knocks her for a loop
threatens her love for the man of her dreams.
Pages to Print: 262
File Format: PDF
From Fat Grrl
From Bookingly Yours
||Taram Zhod is one of the hottest dancers on the
planet, and he has millions of female fans. But two of them
are a royal pain—Queen Gelydia and Queen Scaldera. Each one
claims to be the rightful ruler of the United Realms of
Mariga and both are desperate to win public approval, using
any means necessary. Hoping to score a propaganda coup,
Scaldera orders her soldiers to kidnap Taram and bring him
down South for a command performance, but Gelydia sends her
own army to intercept them, vowing that Taram will dance to
HER tune instead. Taram has no desire to be a pawn in a
civil war, but with two sets of soldiers on his trail, as
well as alien gangsters, foreign assassins and
absinthe-guzzling socialites, he'll really have to keep on
his toes if he hopes to stay one step ahead of them all.
Pages to Print: 249
File Format: PDF
|The sisters Geggelkek are half-goblin, half-human, and
totally horny. Behind the respectable facade of their
stately home in the midst of the Yorkshire moors, they will
go to any lengths to find hot young studs to satisfy their
green-blooded lust, even if they have to build the men from
scratch or teleport themselves to the ends of the earth to
seek them out. This is a shocking and lurid tale of sex,
perversion and blasphemy, told by a man driven to the brink
of madness by his secret knowledge. If you dare read more,
you'll find "The Caskian Scandal" to be steam-goth fiction
at its finest.
Word Count: 44400
Pages to Print: 160
File Format: PDF
||The Ballingers’ maid is very good at finding dirt—not
just dust and grime, but the dirty little secrets the
Ballinger clan desperately wants to hide. And she’s more
than happy to keep those secrets—for a price. But the
handsome Ballingers soon learn it takes more than money to
seal the lips of Stiffani Voydalle.
Word Count: 30,000
Pages to Print: 104
File Format: PDF
||Eldelaide Crawson desperately wants to kill her husband,
and she'll do anything to get the job done. But despite her
best efforts, Barrett manages to survive her strange and
diabolical attacks. And then, just as success finally
appears within her grasp, Eldelaide makes a bizarre
discovery that changes everything.
Pages to Print: 103
File Format: PDF
flesh of Adono Phrebus
was a delightful shade of blue—often referred to as "sky blue," although
that phrase was meaningless in the city of Betroit—and his wavy hair had
a coppery tinge. His sharp, angular cheekbones were offset by an
inviting rosebud mouth, and his eyes resembled sapphires (stolen
sapphires, of course).
Petchy Maligula liked pretty men, but she had been
forced to make some alterations to Adono's face—adding some purplish
bruises and puffy skin, and splitting open those rosebud lips, causing
cyanish blood to trickle down the cleft in his chin and stain his
expensive peach-colored shirt. Since Cygnians had a high pain threshold,
she knew Adono wouldn't break down and cry from a few love taps, but the
damage to his looks and his wardrobe was definitely getting on his
Petchy was lucky; she never had to worry about her own
looks. Because she didn't have any. If forced to describe herself, she
would compare her blotchy skin to sandpaper, while her reddish-brown
fuzzy-buzzy hair resembled rusted Brillo and her eyes were pea-soup
green. Her facial features lacked Adono's finely chiseled look; "hacked"
would be a better word—hacked out of gnarly wood by a bad carver with a
And while Adono's body could be described as lithe,
Petchy's was . . .
But she couldn't complain. This was the way the Goddess
had made her. And in Petchy's line of work, size came in
handy—especially when you needed to lean on a slimeball to loosen his
"OK, Adono," she said. "I'll ask you one more time.
Where the hell is Faladan Pala?"
She twisted the collar of his emerald-green suit and
heard a satisfying ripping sound.
"Stop that!" Adono replied in his thick Cygnian accent.
"Sure. As soon as you tell me where Pala is."
"I already told you, I don't know anything about
"So why does the SIB want the dagger?"
"Come off it. Everyone's heard of the Sisters of Inner
He smirked. "Sisters of INNER beauty? Heh. With a name
like that they must be ugly as sin. I'm surprised you're not a member."
She whacked him again. For a second she thought she saw
a tooth fly out of his mouth, but it was only a blob of phlegm. Too bad.
"That was cute," she said. "Nearly as cute as you. Oh
wait, I forgot. You're not that cute right now, are you? I hope you
don't have a hot date tonight, 'cause with that messed-up face you've
got as much chance of scoring as the Betroit LionCubs."
"What would you know about hot dates, Maligula?"
She hauled off to hit him again, a real good wallop
right on the chin, but thought better of it; she might knock him out
cold and then he couldn't talk.
"Come on, Adono. Make it easy on yourself. Why did you
come here? Who's the dagger for?"
"Bull. You're not the kind to work blind. You know who
Bardoko's buyer is."
"I didn't bring the dagger here. I found it on the
floor when I arrived."
"Then why did you come here?"
"Just a social call. Garek's a friend." He glanced at
the massive blob of goo on the floor behind him. "Uh . . . he WAS a
"Can the crap. You don't hang out with people unless
there's money involved."
"Shows how much you know. I've got lots of friends. But
you wouldn't know what that's like, would you?"
"If Bardoko was such a friend, why did you kill him?"
"I didn't. I'm not into violence. That's your line."
"Oh yeah? Then why did you try to stick me with the
"You startled me. I thought you might be the killer
returning to the scene of the crime. You should know better than to
sneak up behind people. I was just trying to defend myself."
Petchy gave him a dirty look and let go of his collar,
then turned around and walked a dozen steps to the other side of the
living room, dodging the contents of a book shelf that were strewn
across the floor.
Maybe "living room" wasn't quite the right word, for
there was a dead body lying in the middle of it, or the remnants of one,
melted by a beam gun into an ash-colored blob that resembled a big wad
of gum someone had tossed on the ground and stepped on. Only this wad of
gum had a face at one end—smeary eyes and a crumpled nose and fused
lips—and at the other end was part of a foot, still clad in a shoe; an
Abidas, judging by the tread pattern.
The blob could have been anyone, but Petchy assumed it
was Garek Bardoko, although the name on the mailbox downstairs
identified the tenant of Apartment 613 as "Mr. Johnson."
She wasn't well acquainted with Bardoko, and had never
been to his place before (he moved fairly frequently), but she knew he
was a first-class fence and one of Adono's main contacts in Betroit.
Bardoko was a Deshian—a humanoid race with dimpled,
slate-colored skin and tufts of orange hair protruding from odd
places—and even though the beam gun had erased all those distinctive
characteristics there were other clues pointing to the blob's identity.
The TV set was on, the DVD player set to Repeat, showing a music video
of a Desh group called Slof. Mercifully the sound was muted, but Petchy
had heard The Slof before; their shrill squeaks and whistles were the
kind of cacophony only Deshians would call music.
Another clue was the newspaper on the coffee table: The
Strident, a rag put out by the Deshian Protective Front.
Then there was the pile of cat heads in the
wastebasket. Deshians considered cat brains a delicacy. They'd cut the
heads off and drill a hole in the top of the skull—with a special tool
purchased from a Deshian food shop—then suck out the brains and toss the
heads away. Petchy didn't remember what they did with the bodies. And
didn't care to find out.
Back to Petchy Maligula
Depraved Dances of Taram Zhod
| Lelly’s fingers
tightened on the barrel of her spyglass as she zoomed in on
“That dance he’s doing is way over the top,” she
“Way over,” Tasca replied.
“It’s almost obscene!”
“And that outfit of his!”
Frowning, Tasca adjusted the focus on her own spyglass.
“What outfit? All I see is a scarlet thong.”
“That’s what I’m talking about. How can he dress that
“Well, we are in the desert.”
“It’s not that hot.”
Tasca licked her lips. “Hmm. I’d say it’s getting
hotter by the minute.”
Lelly twisted the zoom dial up another notch. “Is that
oil all over his body?” she said in alarm.
Tasca squinted. “Hmm. I can’t tell for sure. Could be
“Too shiny, don’t you think?”
“What does it matter?”
“Tactically speaking, it doesn’t. But if he’s smeared
oil all over himself, that’s just, you know...”
“Way over the top?
“Maybe it’s suntan lotion.”
“Somehow I doubt it.”
The music skipped a beat. The dancer didn’t.
“Zhod is nimble, I’ll give him that,” Lelly said. “It
can’t be easy dancing under these conditions, especially with
that god-awful music.”
She wasn’t referring to the tune itself—a sprightly
Brazenian number played on clarilutes, guitubas and trumpums—but
the quality of the recording. Phonograph cylinders never fared
well in the Nirvada desert, even the copper ones, because the
metal was softened by the relentless heat, and the windblown
grit got into the turntable gears. Yet Taram Zhod seemed
unbothered by the skips and scratches—and by the clapping of his
Liberationist captors, which was enthusiastic, but way out of
sync with the music. He wasn’t even fazed by the giant
crustaccas looming over him, who were clicking their
wicked-looking claws like castanets.
Lelly lowered her ‘glass and shoved hard on the
eyepiece, the brass cylinders snicking softly as they slid into
“I’ve seen enough, Tasca,” she said. “It’s time to
“In the middle of his performance?”
“You call that a performance? I call it debauchery.”
“Perhaps he does something uplifting at the end.”
“Oh I don’t know; he might fall to the ground in
supplication to the Goddess—or something.”
“Fat chance of that. Besides, the Libs are distracted
now, and they haven’t had their breakfast yet. This is the
perfect time to go after them.”
Tasca sighed. “Yes, ma’am.”
She put away her spyglass, then drew her war wand from
its scabbard. It was an ancient tube of dark green gnometal,
covered with arcane symbols etched deeply into the surface and
blurred by time. Tasca pressed a button at the base and the wand
telescoped to nearly a yard in length, the sections clicking
Lelly reached into a sheath on her belt and pulled out
her own weapon, a swordagger. It wasn’t government issue, but
had served her well over the years. The handle was made of ivory
and covered with bas-relief carvings depicting Shynese demons
and hell dogs, and the telescoping blade was fashioned from
Glamascus steel on which a single word was etched in tiny
letters, repeated once on each of the six sections. She smiled
as she squeezed the handle, the well-worn carvings pressing
comfortably into the palm of her hand. Exotic energies throbbed
within the blades.
Her dragocorn, Kekawek, had been rooting around in the
sand, searching for the succulent duneberries that often lurked
just beneath the surface, but now he raised his head as he
sensed impending action, his wing muscles flexing with
anticipation. Tasca’s mount, Fenwek, looked up a moment later,
Lelly looked over her shoulder at the rest of her
squad, which was lurking on the far side of the dune. Their blue
caps were pushed up from their sweaty foreheads, their damp hair
pasted to their reddened brows, their youthful faces full of
curiosity. They could hear the music but couldn’t see the enemy
encampment, and had no idea what was going on.
Time to clue them in.
“Form up!” Lelly shouted. “Form up!”
The troopers yanked on their dragocorns’ reins and the
beasts reluctantly pulled their snouts from the sand. Snorting
with displeasure, they trudged to the crest of the dune, where
their riders brought them to a stop.
As the troopers caught sight of the dancer below, they
let out a collective gasp, their jaws dropping open, their eyes
“Crimaneewillikers, get a load of that hotty!” said
“Ooh baby!” said Trooper Waish.
“Pipe down!” Lelly snapped. “And listen up! We’re going
to attack. You’ve got to watch your lines of fire and your
blowbacks so you don’t hit the dancer. It’s imperative we take
him alive. Understood?”
Fifteen heads bobbed enthusiastically up and down.
“Okay,” Lelly said, “let’s go kick some Libby butt!”
The troopers drew their war wands from their sheaths,
the metal shafts shooting up with a chorus of clicks. Lelly made
eye contact with each grrl, then turned toward the enemy and
raised her sword.
Back to The Depraved Dances of Taram Zhod
|The Caskian Scandal
Mister Caspinger was lying on a table, stark naked—well, almost
stark naked. He had his socks and slippers on, but that was it.
And the table on which he lay was a very strange one, consisting
of ten hinged panels of reddish gold metal, with telescoping
tubes forming a railing around the sides, and four thicker tubes
for legs. Attached to the railing were multi-hinged arms with
pivoting ball joints at either end, and mounted at the front of
each arm was a metal housing shaped like a nymph’s head with an
open mouth containing a pink tongue made from some pliant
material similar to sponge rubber.
As a small motor beneath the table purred and the gears whirred,
the heads roamed over Mister Caspinger’s body, licking his skin,
inducing an endless stream of giggles. But they were mirthless
giggles tinged with terror, because there was one more arm, at
the far end of the table, and attached to it was the head of a
demon, and protruding from the gaping mouth was no soft tongue,
but a spinning drill bit. And the arm was slowly unfolding,
extending itself, bringing the demon ever closer to Mister
Understandably, the old man did not wish to remain on the table,
but metal bands bound his limbs, digging into his flesh as he
twisted and squirmed and arched his back in a desperate bid for
freedom. His exertions were duly registered by a disk, about the
size of a half-crown, which was taped to his chest, with a thin,
coiled black wire in the middle of it, leading to a small box on
the side of the table. The sound of the old man’s heartbeat
issued from a speaker atop the box, and the mechanical heads all
moved in sync with the beat—including the demon head, which
inched nearer to its prey with every thump.
You might expect such a bizarre scene to play out within the
confines of a damp-walled dungeon in the bowels of some castle,
or a detainment camp ringed by barbed wire and guard towers. But
this lurid scene took place within the attic of Caskian Manor in
the heart of the respectable Yorkshire countryside, and it was
the first thing Elexabith, Jemafer and Chack saw as they came
tumbling through the jigsaw window.
For a few seconds they just sat there on the floor, gaping at
the table, which glistened in the swirling blue-and-white light
pouring from the window. Then Elexabith snapped out of it,
saying, “What the hell is that?”
“It’s a table,” Mister Caspinger rasped. “What the hell does it
Elexabith and her two companions got to their feet and warily
approached the contraption.
“How did it get here?” Jemafer said.
“What difference does it make?” the old man snarled. “It’s going
to kill me in about five minutes, by my calculations, if someone
doesn’t do something quick!”
Chack came closer. “Maybe I can help.”
For a split second Mister Caspinger didn’t understand the
stranger’s words, until the sisters’ lingomnia kicked in. Then
he nodded and said, “I’d be most appreciative, young man. Are
you Thatchan Tane?”
“Who?” Chack said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Elexabith said. “I’m forgetting my manners.
Mister Caspinger, this is Chack Wegg. He’s not from Sylvarnia,
he’s from Grimehouse, which is . . . somewhere else. Chack, this
is Mister Caspinger. He lives with us here at Caskian Manor in
Yorkshire, which isn’t anywhere near Sylvarnia either.”
“Pleased to meet you, sir,” Chack said.
“Likewise,” Mister Caspinger said. “But could we please dispense
with any further formalities until you’ve shut off this damn
“Gladly, sir,” Chack said. “Where’s the power switch?”
“Damned if I know.”
As Chack began walking around the table, hunched over, his eyes
seeking the switch, the old man turned back to the sisters and
muttered, “Why is he wearing a toy elephant on his head?”
“Long story,” Jemafer said.
Chack straightened up. “Well at first glance I can’t see any
mechanism for disrupting this machine’s activities, so perhaps I
should focus on freeing you from the restraints.”
“Please do,” Mister Caspinger said.
Chack reached into his bag and removed a tool that resembled a
tuning fork/mini-eggbeater. He touched the fork part to one of
the wrist restraints and said, “Five, one and two, clasp undo.”
“Extraordinary,” he muttered. “A tang-less magneto-clasp with no
visible release mechanism.”
The Caskian Scandal
|The Extortions of
“I’ve come to clean up your dirt, sir.”
Narando Ballinger stared incredulously at Stiffani Voydalle. “At
this time of night?”
Stiffani smiled. “Yes, sir. I saw the light under your door, so
I figured you hadn’t gone to bed yet. May I come in?”
“There’s no dirt in here. The room is spotless. And even if it
weren’t, this is hardly the proper time to be tidying up. Come
back in the morning.”
“Oh, but there is some dirt in here, sir. And I’d be neglecting
my duties if I didn’t tend to it right away.”
“I think you’ve been working too hard, young lady. I suggest you
get a good night’s sleep. Now if you’ll excuse me . . .
He started to close the door.
“If you say so, Foster Lee,” she said.
He froze. “What did you just call me?”
She put her fingers up to her mouth. “Oh, I am sorry, sir. Slip
of the tongue. I got your name mixed up with your partner’s.”
His eyes narrowed. “I have no partner.”
“Not anymore. But you did. Before that unfortunate . . .
Narando studied her face. It had been pretty once—before someone
cut a big scar into it, running jaggedly from her forehead clear
down to her chin. But it was her eyes that captured his
attention now—green eyes, feral and hungry, like those of a
jungle cat stalking its prey.
He quickly swung the door open. “Get in here,” he said gruffly.
He was a handsome man, with swarthy skin and brilliantined hair
and a pencil mustache, and he was nattily attired in cream
colored silk pajamas with gray trim, and maroon slippers. The
glowstone lamp next to his roll-top desk was alight, and a
workbook full of blank music sheets lay on the blotter, with a
fancy gold-plated fountain pen next to it. Some musical notes
had been jotted down on the first page of the book, with a few
lines of lyrics scribbled below the staves, marred by lots of
cross-outs. But most of the page was empty.
Stiffani strolled toward the desk, humming a tune—Rubber Boot
Blues. It was one of Narando’s compositions, perhaps his most
She sat down in the dark green swivel chair and crossed her
legs. Narando inspected her shapely shins, then returned to her
flawed face. He licked his lips. She picked up the workbook.
“What’s your latest song about?” she asked.
He marched to the desk and snatched the book away from her,
snapping it shut.
“Look, Miss Voydalle, I don’t know what you’re up to, but I wish
you’d get to the point. Why did you really come up here?”
She swung around to face him, folding her hands in her lap. “To
talk about Foster Lee. A remarkable lad. Earned his living
scraping the barnacles off the hulls of fishing boats down in
New Orleans. Used to sing little tunes he made up on the spot
while he worked.”
“What does that have to do with me?”
“Isn’t it obvious, sir?”
“No. It’s not. What makes you think there’s any connection
between myself and Foster Lee?
Stiffani reached into a pocket of her white apron and took out a
deck of cards.
“I understand you’re good with cards,” she said. “Ever played
with a deck like this?”
His eyes slitted. “Your Mumler deck. So that’s it.”
“Correct, sir. The little scrying session I held in the parlor
the other night went so well, I decided to gaze into my water
bowl again and see what else I could dredge up. I’ve captured it
on this card, and I thought you might like to watch it, just in
case your memory needed a bit of a jog.”
“How kind of you,” he said acidly.
She riffled the cards, then fanned them out. “Pick a card, any
card—as long as it’s this one.” She pushed up one of the cards
with her thumb.
His hand trembled as he pulled the card from the deck. It had a
black back embossed with a pentagram, and the front was white,
the border decorated with Celtic designs in thistle-colored ink.
But the picture in the middle was not a king or queen or joker,
it was Narando Ballinger himself—not a drawing, but a sepia
toned photograph. A very special kind of photograph.
Stiffani traced a magical glyph in the air with a forefinger and
said, “Visions of water, in cardstock sealed, come alive now,
the past reveal.”
The surface of the card glowed with soft light, and the sepia
image blossomed into color—and began to move. The focal point
zoomed out, revealing more of Narando’s surroundings, and sounds
began to play—the plinkety-plink of a piano, the thrum of a
powerful engine, the wush-wush of a paddle wheel churning
through water. Narando was sitting at a round table, playing
poker with three other men, all clad in gentlemen’s clothing.
Two of the men were smoking cigarillos, while another had a big
stogie crammed into his mouth.
Everything seemed quite amiable at first—until one of the other
players suddenly grabbed Narando’s left wrist, twisted it, and
plucked an ace of spades from the sleeve of Narando’s green
suede jacket. Everyone stood up. A brief argument ensued.
Narando was seized by his fellow players and forcibly escorted
out the door onto the deck of the riverboat and hurled over the
railing. He splashed into the moonlit waters of the Mississippi
and shook his fist at the receding boat, then began swimming
toward shore. But he tired long before he reached the bank, and
began to cry out piteously, begging for help. A cry no one
to The Extortions of Stiffani Voydalle
|Kill My Husband
Clutching a hideous jade statuette in her hand, Eldelaide
Crawson strolled nonchalantly toward her husband. He was seated
at his writing table, tapping his lavender fountain pen against
his lower lip, his eyes fixed on the sheet of twenty-bond paper
in front of him. He didn’t look up as his wife approached;
didn’t notice she was holding one hand behind her back.
“Eldelaide,” he said. “If a woman were scaling the apex of her
passions, would she be more likely to say Ooh or Ahh?”
Eldelaide stopped abruptly, her murderous mindset
discombobulated by Barrett’s question.
“Scaling the apex of her passions?” she said.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“And what, pray tell, does that mean, exactly?”
He regarded her with his watery blue eyes, and his thin lips
curved into a tolerant smile. “Her climax, my dear. Would the
average woman go ooh or ahh or perhaps utter some other
Eldelaide replied in a frosty tone: “I’m afraid I wouldn’t know,
Barrett. I’m not an average woman. And I really couldn’t say
what sounds I used to make when I scaled the apex of my own
passions, for it was so long ago.”
One of Barrett’s carefully trimmed eyebrows arched. “Oh, come
now. You’re not quite old enough to be losing your memory just
“Not quite old enough?”
“Besides, I’m not asking what sounds you personally would make.
I’m asking what most women would do.”
“And why do you want this information?”
He waved a slim hand at the piece of paper. “My latest poem is
all about the sounds of physical love. Auditations Amorous is
the working title. I already have the bodily noises—the slurps
and squishes and gasps and grunts and squeaks and creaks . . .”
“Your lovers squeak and creak? Where’s this poem set, in an old
“It’s the bedsprings that squeak and creak, Eldelaide,” he said
wearily. “But never mind that. I need the words people utter
during their climaxes. I have the man’s response already—as his
procreative urge / swells to its crescendo / his passion starts
its surge / and he trumpets forth his bellow. I think ‘bellow’
fits nicely. But I need the woman’s response. Women don’t
bellow, of course. Sometimes they shriek, but I want something
less animalistic. The word ooh can be rhymed more easily than
ahh, but I don’t want to take the easy way out.”
“Sorry. I can’t help you.”
“Oh, come now. Surely when you women get together you talk about
“Well . . . don’t you?”
“Are you speaking of harlots in some bawdy house? I would know
nothing of that. As for me and my friends, we most certainly do
not discuss such personal matters.”
“Oh. Well you’re no help, then.”
He set down his pen, then reached for his teacup and brought it
to his lips. He took a sip, held the cup toward his wife.
“I’m empty. Fetch me some more tea, would you? Oolong, of
course. You know the way I like it.”
“With absinthe and butter,” she said tonelessly.
“A tablespoon of absinthe and a teaspoon of butter.”
He held the cup a little higher. She did not take it.
“Why don’t you ring for Lisanne?” she said. “Fetching your tea
is her job.”
“Why should that poor girl have to scurry all the way up here to
find out what I want and then go all the way back down to the
kitchen to fetch it when you’re already here? Come on, be a good
girl. I need to keep the creative juices flowing.”
Eldelaide took the teacup. It was a lovely thing, over a hundred
years old, with gold trim on the rim and hummingbirds on the
sides. Imported from Japan, the cup was an exquisite example of
Kenzan craftsmanship and cost nearly three hundred pounds.
She remembered the day Barrett brought it home. She’d been
delighted at first—so nice of him to remember her birthday, for
once, and to buy such an expensive and charming gift.
“What do you think of it?” he’d asked.
“Oh, it’s lovely, Barrett!” she’d replied.
“I saw it sitting in the window of that little antique shop on
Headingley Lane and I just couldn’t resist.”
She reached for it, but he turned away, heading for the stairs
leading up to his study atop the tower.
“It will look lovely on my writing table,” he muttered.
And that’s when she realized the truth: He hadn’t remembered her
birthday. He’d bought it for himself.
Her face reddening, she blurted out: “Don’t you think it’s a bit
sissy, a grown man drinking out of a teacup with little birdies
on the sides?”
He paused on the stairs, looking at her over his shoulder.
“Sissy? My dear, your knowledge of ornithology is woefully
inadequate. There is nothing sissy about the hummingbird.”
And with that he’d continued up the stairs, gazing lovingly at
his cup . . .
The memory of that exchange reignited Eldelaide’s fury and she
hurled the teacup across the room. It struck a bust of Percy
Bysshe Shelley and burst into a thousand pieces that sprayed
onto the carpeting, landing in a roughly fan-like shape—a
fitting continuation of the Japanese motif.
For a few moments, the only sound in the room was Eldelaide’s
ragged breathing, until an astonished Barrett finally found his
“Merciful heavens, Eldelaide, if you must get out of sorts
during your monthly madness, I do wish you’d confine yourself to
hurling non-breakable objects. Or better yet, quaff some sort of
palliative. That teacup cost nearly three hundred pounds!”
She replied through clenched teeth: “A non-breakable object. Is
that what you want? Very well, Barrett, I happen to have one
right here. Have a look at it!”
She took her right arm from behind her back and held up the jade
statuette, clutched in her white knuckled hand.
“What an intriguing statuette,” he said, his displeasure giving
way to delight. “It looks rather bestial. But I can’t see the
head very well. Set it down on the desk so I can get a better
“Oh, you’ll get a better look, all right!”
She raised the statuette high above her head, her grip
tightening, her chest tightening even more. She could already
see his skull cracking open like an egg, his brains running out
like gray yolks—all those precious rhymes and well-wrought
couplets oozing onto his blotter. All she had to do was slam the
statuette into his head. Perhaps more than once. As many times
as it took. That’s all she had to do. And she would do it . . .
|Back to Kill