Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Issue Six, Volume Four

From the Desk of the Editor,

Friends, countrymen (country-ladies), and assorted Romans--I must apologize for not publishing the magazine on time. It has been waiting for the publishing button to be pressed since Sunday and I forgot.

Please accept these works of independent literature as tokens of awesome for your wait. In this issue we bring you works of faniciful and fearful to amuse and amaze.

Please enjoy!

Daniel J. Pool
LFM Editor

There ain't no Damned Witches
By Gary Clifton

Homicide cops already had a full load.  The central alarm office sent Harper and me out there because six people had burned to death in a house fire.  Fires were tricky - this one could have started in an electric space-heater in the kitchen, but we smelled gasoline.

Neighbors said the single mom had been a witch, who'd "hexed" neighbor Malachi.  We cornered him down at the river, fishing.  A slimy little man with a brown mole on the end of his nose, he hissed that Witch-Mama was evil and caused him to have boils.  He had motive, opportunity and - ask any Homicide dick - his eyes read guilty.

Harper slapped him across the back of the head and tossed his fishing pole in the river, but he refused to admit setting a fire that killed six people.  He said Witch-Mama had cast a dust-scent on the air which made his ears ring.  He quit talking to us - his ears were ringing  too loud to understand, he said.  I talked Harper out of chunking Malachi in behind his fishing pole.

 Only three, her family dead in the fire, the little survivor lay at Parkland, hands and feet bandaged.  Scarred, mentally and physically, she'd recover, the shrinks speculated.   We figured they neither knew nor gave a damn.

We bought her a tricycle at Sears which she rode in the halls.  They let her take it to the County Home.  They locked her up in a cage and called it rehabilitation.  "Some sucker needs to pay hell for this," Harper said through clenched teeth.

"And that goofy little snake Malachi is good for it," I said.

Two nights later, neighbor Malachi was cleaning a paint brush in a coffee cup of gasoline and went up like a roman candle - a lot of fire for very little accelerant.  Witnesses said he ran screaming down the street and collapsed - ran out of gas we joked.  They also swore Witch-Mama was standing talking to him just before he immolated - not a joking matter.

"McCoy," Harper growled,  "couldn't have been Witch Mama.  She's as dead as Malachi out there in the middle of Birmingham Avenue."

"Yeah," I said.  "There ain't no damned..."   The sudden, icy gust of cold wind in the sultry summer night air was unexpected, sobering.  Harper looked up sharply.  Then another, colder blast.  Harper, the tough guy - and me too, I guess - studied the darkness.

 "Hellfire, McCoy, that's gotta be a coincidence."  He didn't sound fully convinced.

 "Has to be," I said.  I wasn't quite ready to admit I had a tad of doubt...at least out loud.
The End
About the Author;
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop published a novel in national paperback and short fiction pieces pending on Writer's Type, Spinetingler, Broadkill Review, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Boston Literary Review, 50 Word Stories, Black Heart Magazine, Disenthralled, Fiction on the Web, Spasm Valley, Bewildering Stories, and Linguistic Erosion.  Clifton has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University.


The Star Dollars
By Inge Moore

I walk along the road, cherry laurel blossoms on my right. A cat darts from the hedge and runs across the cobbles, a mouse clenched in her jaws. I watch, admiring her independence and agility. I can’t remember when I last ate. I am in a different country and I can’t go home.

Once upon a time there was an orphan girl, alone and very poor. She had been living in the orphanage until the bigger girls, envious of her golden curls, chased her away. She fled with nothing but a piece of bread and the clothes on her back.

I walk in the sunshine and reach town. I debate whether it is safe to go home. Whether he has calmed down. I breathe deeply and heave a sigh, “Not yet.” I am passing shops now. I finger the wallet in my pocket. I haven’t much money with me and have to be careful. The look of a plump golden-brown loaf in a bakery window and the yeasty smell wafting into the street makes me think that I have waited long enough.

When she had walked a little way, she met a little old man. He pointed to the bread in her hand and pleaded with her, "Will you give me some bread? I am so hungry." The little girl handed him her piece of bread.

Outside the shop sits an old woman, her eyes dark hollows as she grins a toothless smile, “A penny for an old woman, my lady?” I look at the window, then at her filthy, tattered clothes. I hand her my wallet and walk on. I look at my watch, the watch he bought me for our anniversary -- real gold real diamonds, real love? The watch tells me it’s been only 18 hours yet it feels like days. I gauge how much longer I will have to wait by the remembered fury on his face. All hopes of food gone now, I head toward the town square. At least I’ll be able to get a drink of water from a fountain.

When she walked a little farther she encountered a younger child, sitting by the path, crying. "I’m so cold!" the little one cried. "Please give me your coat to keep me warm." The little girl took off her jacket and put it lovingly on the toddler. Again she went on her way.

When I get to the square I take a long drink from the fountain then sit on a stone bench, pigeons flocking around, pecking at crumbs. Some of them are crippled, with stumps for legs. I see a young mother. She is holding a baby wrapped in rags. I approach her and smile. I ask her if the baby could use a bunting. She says yes. I take off my watch and give it her, pointing to the pawnshop where I think she can make a trade.

By-and-by she saw another child, crouching naked by the wayside. "Won't you give me your dress?" The little girl took off her dress and gave it to the other. Now she had nothing left but her little shirt. It grew dark, and the cold wind blew. The little girl crept into the woods, to sleep for the night. But there she saw another child, weeping and naked. "I am frozen," the child cried, "please give me your shirt!" And the little girl did, and now she had not a thing left in all the world.

Now that I have no watch anyway, I think to head back. I will be there in three hours or so and the time that has passed should be enough. I walk past tidy gardens for a while and then along country roads. It is now dark and I crunch snails under my shoes, shuddering, but unable to avoid them. I pass a pub and see a man outside it leaning against the stone wall. He is ruffled and it looks as though he may have been thrown out. As soon as he sees me he calls me over to him. I walk into his arms and he takes me behind the pub and into the wood. I give him myself. Afterward, he rolls over in the dirt and snores. I get to my feet, brush myself off and continue walking.

She stood looking up at the sky. As she watched, the whole skyful of stars fell in a shower round her feet. There they were, on the ground, shining bright, and round -- hundreds of silver dollars. And among them was the loveliest white silk dress. The little girl put on the dress, and gathered up all the star dollars in her skirts; and she was rich, all the days of her life.

I arrive at the door to the cottage. I look up at the sky sparkling with stars. I slip my key in the lock and push the door open as silently as I can. Then gasp. There he stands. I flinch, poised to turn and run. Then he smiles and opens his arms wide. My heart melts and I fall into his arms, sobbing. I am so certain I will be rich, for all the days of my life.

The End
About the Author;
Inge Moore lives in Fort Erie on the shores of the Niagara River with her husband and two dogs.  She has been writing since she was in grade school.  Her loves are family, horses, reading and writing and her muse is the river.  Moore's short fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines across Canada and the U.S.

Thank you for reading and join us next week right here on Larks Fiction Magazine!

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