From Lombard to Lebkuchen (circa 1998) by Kieran Shea

-What the—? No way. This has got to be a joke. What kind of—what kind of a person would make something like this? Paul? Are you listening to me? Did you hear what I just said?

-Mmm?

-Look at this thing.

-Wow, a gingerbread house. How festive.

-That’s all you’ve got to say?

-Well, I think you know I’ve never been a big fan of gingerbread.

-Don’t you know what that’s supposed to be?  

-A diorama? Gee, do you think those evergreen trees are safe to eat?

-Those trees are dyed marzipan.

-Marzipan?

-Marzipan. Honey and ground almonds. Those birch trees? Rolled wafer cookies dipped in powdered sugar with pretzel stick branches lacquered together by something.

-Oh.

-Look closer.

-Why?

-Just do it.

-Okay, okay. Let’s see. Um, the roof has a pretty fierce pitch.

-Right. And?

-No candy canes?

-It’s a cabin, Paul.

-A gingerbread cabin, a gingerbread house, what’s the big deal? It’s a Christmas party. I’m just trying to rock the open bar and wolf down as many hors d’oeuvres as I can. So somebody built a gingerbread house. Getting crafty isn’t a crime.

-Stand here.

-Suzy…

-Now from this side, do you see that little plastic guy with the mustache, the one trudging through all that shredded coconut snow?

-Yes.

-Ratty green hoodie, disco-era sunglasses, carrying a package…you seriously don’t recognize who that is?

-Holy shit.

Boom.


FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION/PRIVACY ACTS SECTION
MEMORANDUM 64747-330-891H UNCLASSIFIED
SUBJECT: THEODORE JOHN KACZYNSKI; AKA “UNABOMBER”
FILE NUMBER: CS3424DTTF
RE: VICTIMS
PAGE TWELVE (CONT.)

05/25/78: Terry Marker — inconsequential cuts, burns.

05/9/79: John Harris — significant lacerations, 2D burns.

11/15/79: AA Flight 44 (twelve unidentified passengers) — toxic smoke inhalation, mild shock.

06/10/80: Percy Wood — severe tissue trauma and 2D-3D burns over 90% of the body.

05/5/82: Janet Smith — severe 3D burns to hands, shrapnel pattern wounds.

07/2/82: Diogenes Angelakos — severe 3D burns, shrapnel pattern damage to hands, throat, and face.

05/15/85: John Hauser — explosive loss of four digits, severed artery, vision loss L/R.

11/15/85: James V. McConnell — temporary hearing loss.

11/15/85: Nicklaus Suino — extensive shrapnel trauma, 2D and 3D burns.

12/11/85: Hugh Scrutton — DEATH.

02/20/87: Gary Wright — severe nerve damage and acute PTSD trauma, 2D burns.


06/22/93: Charles Epstein dual eardrum ruptures, PTSD trauma, hearing loss, loss of three digits.

06/24/93: David Gelernet — vision loss, burns, acute shrapnel mutilation, right hand post-event amputation.

12/10/94: Thomas J. Mosser — DEATH.

04/24/95: Gilbert Brent Murray — DEATH.

For Worse by Kieran Shea

-Jen?

-What?

-I don’t like this.

-There’s nothing to like.

-But, Jen—

-You just need to do what I tell you, Tommy.

-But this can’t possibly be real. It’s got to be something else. Some drill.

-Honey, there’s not a lot of time. You need to pick up Connie at school and keep driving north. If you leave right now, and I mean right now, you two should get to the cabin in five hours, four and a half if you push it. You’ll be well ahead of everyone. If we’re lucky, really lucky, the story won’t break ‘til you’re nearly halfway there.

-Jen?

-What?

-I don’t like this.

-There’s nothing to like.

-But, Jen—

-You just need to do what I tell you, Tommy.

-But this can’t possibly be real. It’s got to be something else. Some drill.

-Honey, there’s not a lot of time. You need to pick up Connie at school and keep driving north. If you leave right now, and I mean right now, you two should get to the cabin in five hours, four and a half if you push it. You’ll be well ahead of everyone. If we’re lucky, really lucky, the story won’t break ‘til you’re nearly halfway there.

-Tommy?

-I mean, how can this happen? Everything just…it can’t.

-It’s real, Tommy.

-Yeah, but stuff like this only happens—

-In movies, I know. Listen, take the cash from the safe in the bedroom closet. There should be a little over two thousand in there and take the coins your Dad left you. Take all of our papers, yours and Connie’s passports too. There are two box stores just over the Pennsylvania border. Grab what you can, but be quick. Think durable and long term. Cans. Powders. Proteins. Stuff for Connie. Medicine. Don’t get distracted. If something happens, and they’re not taking credit just go. Get out of there.

-Okay.

-And stay focused.

-I am focused.

-I mean it, Tommy. Don’t get rattled and end up in an accident in the parking lot with some jerk.

-What do I tell Connie?

-Say we’re going camping.

-That’s it?

-Jesus, Tommy, she’s six. The fuck else do you want me to tell you to say?

-But what about your folks? Have you called them?

-No.

-Why not?

-Nothing can be done for my parents at this point.

-What do you mean, nothing?

-Baby, we’re trying, but it’s…complicated. Not only that, but it’s about to get out of control. Thirty minutes ago the Joint Chiefs were walking around the White House with sidearms for fucksake. Where Mom and Dad are, even if they could get out, the scope assessments aren’t like anything we’ve seen. My God, the prevailing weather patterns….

-So then I guess there’s nothing to be done about my sister either, huh?

-It’s three in the morning over there, Tommy. Jesus Christ, when the media gets ahold of this we’re going to commence full blackout protocols, just think about that for a second. Do you want your sister’s last moments alive to be of blind terror? Confusion?

-Jen, God. No.

-I’m sorry, but—hang on a sec. What’s that? Now? Fuck. Okay, I’ll be right there. Tommy, baby, I’ve got to go.

-Jen—

-After you get to Pennsylvania, use back roads as much as you can. When the satellites go, when there’s no cell service or Internet, people will start sensing the confusion is top down, and panic. National Guard, the state cops, they’ll do what they can, but fully coordinated EAP mobilization will be haphazard at best. Just get to the cabin.

-Who else knows?

-Right now? We’re trying to contain, but the big three. A third of NATO. The fucking Brazilians for some reason, if you can believe that shit.

-What about water?

-Taken care of. I doubled up the stores down in the cabin’s shelter back in July. You took Connie to the fair and went canoeing, remember?

-There’s a shelter?

-Pull out the fridge. The combination is our anniversary. The door will pop. You go down there and you’ll see everything. Two months worth of everything we need. Airlock is the same combo. Remember when I showed you how to load a shotgun?

-Tommy? Tommy, you still there?

-I’m here.

-We’re already at Andrews. I’ve a spot on Hercules heading to an airbase outside of Harrisburg, and they’re taking off in five mikes. At Harrisburg, I’ve been promised a car. I’ll see you as soon as I can.

-Baby, listen to me. You did the program when I was at State and ONI. You’ve got this. A level head prevails. Keep Connie close.

-I love you, Jen.

-I love you too.

-This world….

-I know.

The Orphan by Kieran Shea

With a cooling shotgun across his lap, Peter Bradley sits on his mother’s favorite couch and wonders if he has the nerve left to finish it.
Two of his father’s chalky, tiny Ativans dissolve in a hot wash of whiskey in Peter’s stomach while he stares at the phone on the polished coffee table in front of him. Such gleaming, antique mahogany festooned with senseless bric-a-brac. The swarms of wasps in his body start to melt away, and he looks out the living room’s picture window. So many identical, jigsawed homes. His parents’ retiree development at Easter in New Jersey. A sky scrubbed clean and achingly bright.
-Sir? Are you still there, sir?
-Yeah. Got you on the speaker now.
-Good. Please stay on the line, sir.
-Okay.



-So, how was your day?
-Sir?
-I said, how was your day? You know, work and things. Have you been on 911 dispatch long? I guess it’s a good job, but wouldn’t know. Just making conversation.
-Sir, is there anyone else in the residence with you besides the two victims?
-No.
-Do you know if the two victims are still breathing?
-They’re in the other room.
-Which room is that, sir?
-In the back. It’s a kitchen and TV room kind of thing. Breakfast nook, a little patio outside with bird feeders and wrought iron chairs. Wind chimes.
-Do you know if the two victims are still breathing, sir?
-No. And it’s Peter by the way.
-Who is Peter, sir?
-Me. My name. I’m Peter.
-You’re Peter?
-Yeah, I’m Peter. Peter Bradley. Their son.


-What age are you, Peter?
-Are you keeping me on the line so I don’t run off? Trust me, I’m not going anywhere.
-How old are you, Peter?
-How much do they pay you for this?
-For what, sir?
-Peter.
-Pay me for what, Peter?
-Listening.
-Peter, I need you to tell me if the victims are still breathing.
-I’m on the couch.
-What couch? Where’s the couch, Peter?
-In the living room up front. God…I hate these curtains.
-I need you—
-I’m not going back there.



-Like everybody I once I thought, like, I’d never be capable of doing something like this, you know? But I guess in the end all it takes is a little…push.
-Are alone in the room in the front of the house, Peter?
-Yeah. All alone. It’s kind of weird. It’s like everything’s rushing to a hot point. I don’t know, maybe it’s the pills. I took a couple of my father’s pills earlier.
-Do you know what medications you took?
-His anxiety stuff. I was so shaky.
-Peter, I need you stay on the line with me, all right?
-What’s your name?
-I’m sorry?
-Your name. What’s your name?




-Penny.
-Penny, huh? Like the coin?
-Yes, like the coin.
-People—Christ. They never think, I mean, they never even dream they got so much power. All it takes is a little something beyond their control, you know what I’m saying? A little something somebody else doesn’t know about. Chemical changes. Things accumulate. It’s like snow or sand or like rust, you know? All of sudden it’s there and then it’s too late. Penny? Are you still there, Penny?
-I’m still here, Peter.
-Stay with me, Penny.
-Okay, I’m staying with you.
-Good. That’s good. Thank you.




-Are there any other firearms in the house, Peter?
-Nah, just the one. Bought this baby at a sporting goods store and drove up yesterday. This country is so messed up, I mean, walk right and talk hunting and ducks to some dude in a green smock and he acts like he’s your best friend in the world. Wait—
-Peter?
-I hear sirens. Oh, wow. Here they come. Hey, do me a favor will you? Tell them what I said about the push, okay?
-Please stay on the line, Peter, please stay on the line as long as you can.
-It might’ve been easier if they’d just left me alone.

Blue Water Black by Kieran Shea

-We should do something.
-Emerson?
-Like what?
-I don’t know.
….
-This is not our responsibility, Susan.
-Well, I think we should at least try.
-Listen, we’re pulling anchor on the afternoon tide. That’s, like, an hour from now. We can motor over then and see if he’s okay.
-Isn’t that just like you.
-Like me what?
-Pushing things off.
-You’re crazy.
-He’s really pink, Emerson.
-What do you want me to do, huh? You want me to take our dinghy and putter on over there? Intrude on someone else’s privacy? It’s the Caribbean. So the guy fell asleep and gets a wicked sunburn. Jesus, it’s not like the first time that’s ever happened.
-But it’s been almost three hours.
-He’s probably just drunk.
-In the middle of the day?
-There are these things called time zones. German time. English time. He could be Russian. Vacationing sailors down here, it’s rum-thirty and happy hour around the clock for Christ’s sake. He could be operating on a whole different time zone is what I’m saying.
-You think he’s European?
-Well, c’mon. Look at him. Guy is, like, wearing a man-kini. Anyway, are you going to join me for a dip?
-Maybe later.
-Suit yourself.
-It’s almost a quarter after one. I’m telling you, something’s not right over there on that boat.
-Susan….
-I mean, does that actually look comfortable to you? The way he’s splayed out on the bow with his legs like that? Maybe he had a heart attack.
-You’re insane. I’m going for a swim.
-Or a stroke.
-My father had a stroke all alone like that.
-One minute he was pruning the boxwoods, the next he was unconscious and drooling beneath the birdfeeder. My mother didn’t find him for hours.
-Here.
-What’s this?
-It’s an air horn, honey.
-An air horn?
-Yeah. You just press the button there and give it three blasts. If that doesn’t rouse him, I don’t know what will. But do me a favor and wait until I’m underwater when you cut loose with that thing.
*
-So, what happened? Hey, you okay, Susan? What’s wrong?
-Get back on the boat.
-Why? What’s going on?
-Can you please just get back on the boat?
-Did he wake up when you blew the horn?
-Can you please, please, please just get back on the boat?
-Hold your horses.
-Emerson, there are two other men.
-Wait…who? What men? Hand me that towel, would you?
-Over there. On man-kini’s sailboat.
-Where? I don’t see anybody.
-They saw me.
-I hit the horn like you told me to do, and they came up from below. The man on the bow didn’t move an inch. I waved, and the two looked at me but they didn’t wave back. They went below again. They were black.
-Black?
-Native.
-They didn’t wave back at me. Last night when we anchored in this cove there was just that man and a chubby woman and now there are two more men on that sailboat.
-What if something happened to her? She could be dead. Tied up below. They could be—
-Where are my binoculars?
-Shouldn’t we start the engine and just get out of here?
-It’ll be better if you took a breath and calmed down. This could just be a misunderstanding.
-Or they could be pirates.
-Right. Pirates. Sure. Or they could be visitors. Or friends. Or mechanics fixing a fuel line kink. Do me a favor and go below. The binoculars are in the navigation table on the starboar—the right side. Hand them up to me. Maybe I can see what’s what.
-They they are! Oh my God! Look!
-Holy fu—
-They’re rolling him into the water.
-Susan, get the anchor line. Do it. Go!
-What about the tide?
-You want to wait? We draw six feet. Get the goddamn anchor line. We’ll shoot the channel.
-Shouldn’t we call it in?
-This is the Dominican Republic. You suddenly speak French?
-Oh God…one of them is getting into their dinghy at the stern with a machete.
-Shit, shit, shit, shit sh—

Waiting on the 6:15 by Kieran Shea

-Anyway, what can I say? She ended up transferring the next semester. Bates or Hobart, I think.

-What?

-I can’t believe you just told me that.

-C’mon, it’s no big deal. I mean, who cares now right?

-Jesus, man, will you stop it with the pinched face? You want another drink? Tell you what. It’s Friday. Have another drink.

-I don’t want another drink.

-Suit yourself. Train isn’t for another, like, twenty-five minutes. I think they serve food here, but it’ll probably take next to forever. Oh, wow—hey. Hey, dude. Check it out. Redhead—three o’clock. Phew, I’m telling you, man. Manhattan in June, it’s like a goddamn torture chamber.

-Here.

-What’s this?

-Give the bartender the rest.

-You’re leaving?

-Yeah, I’m leaving.

-Didn’t you hear what I just said? The train back to Connecticut isn’t for another twenty-five minutes. What, you’re just going to mope around and read your email on your phone? Call the wife and tell her to save you some chicken pot pie? Don’t be such a pussy. We’ll ride back together.

-Dude, wait! Hold up a sec….

-You raped a girl, you self-involved prick.

-What?

-You’re a rapist.

-Jesus, man, keep it down will you? I don’t think the whole bar heard you.

-You and three other guys. I can’t believe you just told me that.

-Oh, please. And anyway, it was just me and two other guys and one was her stupid boyfriend. What’s the big deal, huh? It was twenty-three years ago.

-What’s that supposed to mean?

-Well, I think it means it was twenty-three years ago.

-That’s all you have to say for yourself? So, what? There’s some statute of limitations that erases the fact that you’re subhuman piece of shit?

-Christ, why’re you being such a skirt?

-Let go of my arm.

-Fine. Have your stupid arm back. You know what I think? I think you ought to step off with all this self-righteous attitude of yours.

-Oh, is that a fact?

-Yeah. You’re too uptight that’s your fucking problem.

-Gee, I guess that’s me all over.

-Goddamn right that’s you all over.

-Jesus—how can you be so glib about this?

-Listen, dude, just forget I said anything.

-Pin is out of the grenade now.

-Well, stick it back in.

-How can you even live with yourself?

-Live with myself? Y’know what? Screw you, man. Screw you and double-screw your suburban Knights of Columbus holier-than-thou sanctimonious bullshit. You’re telling me you’ve never taken advantage of a chick, ever? You’re a goddamn liar. Yeah, that’s right. You’re a liar. And I’ll tell you something else too, dickhead. You don’t know jack squat about me.

-Two minutes ago you told me you gang-banged a drunk girl back in college, and I should just forget all about it?

-Jesus, it was different back then.

-Different?

-It was the nineties.

-Oh, that’s just perfect. The nineties. Just perfect.

-Hey, and I’ll tell you something else too, Rachel Maddow. Like it or not, I’m a goddamn executive vice president in our division now.

-Meaning?

-You know what I mean.

-Oh, so you’re threatening my job now? Over this? Jesus, you are drunk.

-Look, you know what? I’m sorry, all right? I apologize. It was a joke. That’s right. It was all just one big, sick joke, and I made it all up. I was just pulling your leg to see how you would react and you took the bait like a charm. You’re so gullible. Not a shred of it even happened.

-Why don’t I believe you?

-I don’t know, but you should.

-Look, I swear on my six-year-old son, and I’m sorry if it upset you, okay? I didn’t have lunch. I mean, two of these double Grey Goose on the rocks and boom—straight to my head. C’mon, man….

-My wife….

-Huh? Your wife? What, about your wife? You need to call her or something? Okay, that’s cool. I understand.

-No, it’s not that….

-Oh.

-Oh, Jesus.

-Oh, God. Oh, shit….

-Yeah. She was raped like that back in college too.

Mining for Gold by Kieran Shea

-Shhh. You should stop struggling. Struggling lessens the morphine’s benefit.

-Lessens the what?

-You, señor. The morphine in your blood. The less you move, the longer it will last.

-Wha—where am I?

-You are here.

-Where’s here?

-Outside the city. Cabo. Cabo San Lucas. You are here on vacation. You do not remember?

-Did something happen? What in God’s name is going on here? Did I—oh God, did I have aneurism or a heart attack or something?

-No.

-Was there an accident?

-Accidents do not happen.

-What?

-I said, accidents do not happen. Accidents are illusions.

-D’hell’re you talking about?

-This is something I think about sometimes. Many people say things are accidents, but calling something an accident is more like blaming one thing so another thing makes sense.

-We were asleep. The last thing I remember is Donna and I were asleep. At the hotel.

-Cabo Azul. A very nice place. Expensive.

-Jesus, my throat feel like it stuffed with hot cotton.

-A side effect. To come to after such invasive things have traumatized the body—it can be very painful but if steps are taken there is little pain.

-So this is a hospital?

-No.

-Then where am I? Who’re you? I demand to know what’s happened to me and what I am doing here. Christ, why I can’t I move?

-Paralytic drug administered to assist your anesthesia. Like the morphine, this too will wear off soon, and that is why there are additional restraints.

-Hey! HEY! Don’t walk away from me! Christ, this is kidnapping.

-Kidnapping. Hmm, in Mexico. How unusual.

-You’ve got to be shitting me.

-Listen. Untie me, man. If you help me get out of here I can help you. I swear. I have money.

-No, you do not.

-What?

-I said no you do not. She is the one who has the money. We know this.

-You know, there was a time when I was a real doctor, señor. A good one. I worked very, very hard to make my way, but then one day a man comes to my office in an expensive suit and presents a job for me. I tell him I already have a job, but he offers me money, much more money than I could ever make as a regular doctor. He tells me he has special work for a man like me so I ask him, what kind of work? Intelligence work, he says. Like a spy in the movies? No, although some say the technology is so. Sure, I think, this man must be a crazy but then he detailed the work. He talked on and on about computers and metadata and things once so far out of reach they cost so much money but now can be had for next to nothing—how these things bring golden opportunities. When he finished he handed me an envelope with a hundred thousand U.S. dollars. I have never seen so such money. You see, I have many children, señor. Providing for them with all my debts? What could I do? Yes, I swore an oath to heal, but oaths are broken every day in this world. I do not believe in God. My family, they are what is important to me. Their needs are real.

-Please….

-You have betrayed someone.

-I haven’t done anything!

-You are a liar. This woman? This Donna? She is not your wife.

-We’re just friends….

-Ah, I see. Friends who fuck like dogs in expensive hotels.

-I’m sorry….

-You did not fear her husband, but you should always fear the man who can pay.

-Look, I’m sorry! Jesus…I’m sorry, all right?

-Wait! Don’t leave. You can’t leave me here! Leave us! Donna? Donna, wake up! Please, where are you going?

-I am going down the hall to the incinerator. I must burn the waste.

-The waste?

-The waste from your surgeries. Your limbs, her limbs. Your cock and balls. Her eyes, heart, and tongue.

Going All Shatner by Kieran Shea

-Oh, c’mon. What is that?

-This thing? Went to a Blue Claws game up in Lakewood back in June. Took my nephews for bat promo night. Dirty water dogs, some suds for me and birch beers for the kids…they were giving theses shit beaters away. Of course, I’m not one for baseball, but it was fun time all the same.

-Morgan….

-You won’t even feel it, Pete, I swear. It’ll be like hitting your funny bone. You’ll go all twangy and numb, just like that.

-Couldn’t you just—I don’t know. Use your fists on me or something?

-The man said make a visible and lasting impression.

-Bruises are visible.

-Sure, but they don’t last. Hold out your wrist.

-My wrist? Jesus, there are a lot of bones in the wrist.

-So? You go to the emergency room and you get a cast. Six to eight weeks and you’re good as new. What, you want me to do your foot instead?

-No.

-Then do what I told you.

-Look, I said I was sorry, all right? I’m sorry. How many times do I have to say it?

-Yo, you swing righty or lefty?

-What?

-Answer the question. Golf. Batting cages. Beating off to your Maxim subscription. Are you righty or lefty?

-Lefty.

-Then lay your right arm on the bar.

-Wow. I mean, wow, man. You’re nothing but heart.

-So people tell me.

-I can’t believe this. I’m a goddamn cop, you know. How am I going to explain a broken wrist to my boss?

-Say you fell off of a ladder. What do I care what you tell people?

-All this over some dumb stripper.

-Tut-tut. Exotic dancer.

-Whatever. It’s not like I went and stole from Dante Donofrio.

-Mr. Donofrio has taken a personal interest in Gina.

-And it’s not like I propositioned Donofrio’s goddamn daughter or anything.

– Word of advice here, Pete. We know each other, but you might want to watch your mouth, saying something like that.

-And it’s not like me and Gina even did anything.

-Just put your arm on the bar.

-Morgan….

-Pete, if it were up to me, yeah, I might give you a pass and let you off with a warning. Seriously, I know things can get out of hand in the heat of the moment, and Gina is a doll. But all this? This ain’t up to me.

-Maybe we could pretend or something.

-Pretend?

-Yeah. I’ll wrap my arm in some bandages and keep my mouth shut. C’mon, you know me, man. The thing that went down last March with those Pakistanis from Philly? That thing you guys have going on with the state’s paving contractors? You know I can keep my mouth shut.

-And yet you’re yapping about things I know nothing about in public.

-It’s ten a.m. This place is empty.

-Did I mention I was a cop?

-Now is not the time to be funny, Pete.

-I mean, do I look that stupid? Do you think for one second if I’d known Dante Donofrio himself had a thing for Gina I would’ve even have entered the woman’s friggin’ orbit?

-Gina is a decent girl.

-One of the best I’ve ever seen.

-Smart too.

-Oh, c’mon. Let’s not go overboard. The next thing you’re going to tell me is she’s working her way through school.

-As a matter of fact….

-No freaking way.

-One year in at the community college x-ray tech program. Kind of ironic, huh?

-My whole life is one big irony.

-What’re you doing propositioning a girl like that anyway?

-Have you seen my wife?

-No.

-I’d draw you a picture, but I’d run out of ink.

-God, you’re a charming prick. Look, I’m growing weary of this so here’s the straight dope, okay? You got a lousy home front? Tough—deal with it like a man, because you certainly wouldn’t be the first. I mean, this shit. You going all Shatner with the club’s talent pool, what were you even thinking? Put your arm on the bar.

– There. Now then, look away.

-Look away? Jesus, why?

-It’s like getting a shot at the doctor. It’ll help.

The Key by Kieran Shea

-Why can’t we go again?

-Be bad for you.
-Bad for me? How so?
-Jus’ bad.


-It’s just a key.

-A sandbar practically. A couple of palms. Mangroves.

-Huh. Looks safe enough to me.
-Señor should jus’ go back to his hotel, no? Nice beach at hotel. Clean.
-But we want to go over there.



-Look, I have plenty of money.
-Be better you go back to hotel, señor.
-But my wife wants to snorkel.
-So she snorkel at hotel, yes? Snorkeling good at hotel.
-But the water in front of the hotel is all cloudy. There’s hardly any fish. The wind is lighter out there. Look.



-Jesus Christ. You people. Here.

-Take it.

-Just talk to your friend.

*

-So what’s the deal, baby?
-The guy said we shouldn’t go.
-What do you mean he said we shouldn’t go? Did you tell him we’d pay?
-Yeah. Even tipped him to get things greased with the boat dude. Vibed it was a bad idea.
-Cripes, what’s it, a fifteen minute putter out there and back? You can see the waves breaking on the reefs from here and it looks gorgeous. Private.
-Well, apparently it’s a no go. Guess it’s a superstitious thing or something.


-Superstitious.
-Yeah. Let’s just forget it and head back to the hotel.
-I don’t want to go back to the hotel. Snorkeling in front of the hotel sucks. I want to see a barracuda.
-You’ve seen a barracuda.
-No, I haven’t.
-Yes, you have. Remember our trip to the BVI?
-You saw a barracuda in the BVI, I didn’t. I was sick, remember?
-Let’s just head back to hotel and hang. Read a little. Play some bocce with that Canadian couple. Order a couple of micheladas. Maybe the hotel area will get better after lunch.



-Please don’t start with the eyes.
-I just don’t get it. That boat guy has been been motoring around all week. I’ve seen him. Back and forth, back and forth. What’s the big deal?
-Guess there’s a good reason. Oh, what? Now you’re giving me the pout too?
-I bet you didn’t even tip that guy.
-I did.
-Oh, yeah? How much?
-Like twenty bucks.
-American?
-Of course I gave him American. Pesos are like play money. They take dollars here.

-Hey—wait. Where are you going?
-I’m going to go talk to the boat guy.
-Honey, don’t….
-Sweet talk. Be right back.

*

-You’re just mad because I made this happen. Here. Rub some sunscreen on my back. Phew, what’s wrong with you? It’s not like it’s a reflection on your manhood or anything. Negotiating is what I do for a living, sweetie. One of the first things they teach you in law school is everything, no matter how impossible, can be negotiated. Don’t forget to do the backs of my arms.



-Hell, negotiation is how I got you to marry me in the first place.
-Gee, that makes me feel sooo much better.

*

-Oh, baby, look! To the right, eleven o’clock. A stingray! Do you see it? Oh, the water is so clean out here. See, I told you this would be better than at the stupid hotel. I can’t wait to get into the water.
-Wait a minute, why is he—?
-Hmm?
-Why is he going around the island?
-I don’t know. Maybe it’s a better place to anchor. Ask him.
-I don’t speak Mexican.
-You mean Spanish.
-I don’t speak Spanish.
-Neither do I.
-But I thought you said you sweet talked him.
-I did. In a way.
-In a way?
-Mostly I just pantomimed.
-Pantomimed….
-Yeah. And upped the cash-o-la gesturing a smidge.
-Oh, great.




….
-What? What’s wrong now?
-I just…I just don’t…this doesn’t feel right.
-Oh, will you relax? See, he’s cutting the motor. Guess we’re anchoring.
-Honey? Oh shit, honey, get in the water.
-In a sec. I need to adjust my mask.
-No, get in the fucking water right now!
-What? Oh, no. Oh, Jesus!
-Please! Please God no! We have money! Please! My wife, we have—

Neighbors by Kieran Shea

-What do you expect me to say, Brian?  That it’s all okay? That your sleeping with my wife doesn’t mean anything?

-Jack, no. Jesus. No. Look, things just got out of hand.

-Out of hand.

-Yeah. We smoked a little pot. It was—what I mean to say is, none of this means anything. I swear, it’s just a big mistake. Yeah, I’m a shit and you…you have every right to be angry with me, but none of what happened with me and Carol means anything.

-What’re you doing?

-Pulling up the video.

-Pulling up the what?

-Yeah, Brian. The next time you decide to bang your neighbor’s wife you might want to check out the bedroom. The desk in the corner? Open laptop. Camera had a perfect angle and everything. Wait, here we go. See? Got both of your faces in this clip. Jesus, you sweat like James Brown. Do you fuck Diane like this at home?

-Jack—

-Shut up, Brian. Get out of my house.

-Jack—

-I said leave. Now.

-I’m sorry.

-No, you never get to say you’re sorry to me again. Not ever. Sorry doesn’t even begin to cut it. You are scum.

-But Carol, she—she—

-Carol is sick, Brian.

-Sick?

-Carol is manic. Carol has issues. You have no idea.

-I don’t understand.

-She’s bi-polar, you idiot. Carol has a family history hardwired into her DNA and we’ve both been suffering her mental ups and downs for years. Maybe she has an excuse, maybe she’s gone off her medications—Christ, have you even seen our master bathroom? It’s a pharmacy counter, but no way does that even remotely excuse your actions. God damn it, you’re my neighbor, you piece of shit. I helped get your daughter into Georgetown.

-Y’know what? I should just call your wife Diane right now. Yeah, I should call her and tell her what a scumbag her husband is.

-Don’t.

-Oh, and why shouldn’t I?  I think I have the right.

-It doesn’t have to go this way, Jack.

-And what way should it go? Look at mister friendly here. Mister neighborhood cocksman. Afraid of what your wife will do to you when she finds out? Afraid of what your three doting daughters will think of their precious daddy?  What the whole neighborhood will think?

-You live here too, you know.

-Shut up. You do not have the upper hand here.

– Upper hand? Are you threatening me?

-I’m not threatening anything.

-I’m a lawyer you know.

-All shakes over here.

-Jack—

-Does your stupid degree in rote memorization spare you the wrath of loved ones betrayed? Fuck you. Don’t talk to me about being a lawyer.

-Think of Carol….

-Think of Diane and your kids.

-Jack—look. I am sorry, okay? I’m sorry. What else do you want me to say? I am an awful human being. I wasn’t thinking. Carol and I, we talked at that cocktail party last week and she asked if I could come over and take a look at some business plan she’d been working on. Some jewelry idea.

-Trinkets.

-Yeah. She said she wanted legal advice. It was the middle of the afternoon and we had some wine, but then she brought out that bowl of pot and she was so insistent. After smoking we just started talking about the city and the next thing I know is she was really, really close. It just sort of happened.

-And I have the proof.

-Wait a second….you have the proof? How did—oh. Oh no. Please tell me you’re not that stupid.

-You two. You guys are trying to set me up?

-Leave.

***

 

-Is he gone?

-Yeah.

-So what do we do now?

-We wait.

-What if he goes to the police?

-Brain? He might, but what proof does he have? A conversation?

-He might tell someone else.

– Hedge his bets? Sure, maybe. Let’s just wait and see. Their marriage records confirmed he and Diane got hitched right out of college. Their story, hell, we’ve been hearing about that boring shit for years. How they scraped by on love. Took that fucker ten years to make it through law school nights and that son of a bitch lands in the class-action settlement of the decade? Fuck him. They don’t have a pre-nup and if Diane finds out about this she will eat him alive.

-Wants some wine, baby?

-There’s champagne in the fridge.

-Jack! You bought champagne? You doll!

-Life’s short, babe. We have to get it while we can.

 

A Man Full Of Stones by Kieran Shea

-Hey, Morgan.

-Well, well.  Look at what the tide dragged in.  S’up, Mikey?

-That him?

-Who?

-The guy in the corner.  Watching Vlatka on stage.  Bony-looking dude with the glasses.

-Yeah.  That’s him. Guess who gets to take that creep to the airport in an hour?

-You?

-Yup.

-Atlantic City?

-Nope.  Philly.  God, I’m looking forward to that like a punch in the nuts.

-So….

-So what?

-Is it true?  I mean, what they say about him?

-Believe it or not it’s true.

-That’s hilarious.

-But hey, he’s good at what he does and Mr. Donofrio likes him so what do we care if he’s a freak?  To each his own, that’s my motto these days. To each his fuckin’ own.  Throwing some deadbeat clown a beating is one thing but that other nasty stuff?  Do me a favor and leave me the hell out of it.  If Mr. Donofrio wants to contract those grisly details out to some Rain Man-talking sideshow from Boston, he can be my guest.

-Providence.

-Whatever.

-I’m going to go talk to him.

-I wouldn’t do that if I was you, Mikey.

-Why not?  What’s the worst that could happen?

-Come on.  I just want to see what he’s like.  Where’s the harm?

-You’ve been warned.

*

-Hey, how y’doin’, man.  I’m Michael.

-One of Mr. Donofrio’s guys.

– Just talking with my buddy Morgan over there at the bar and he says he’s taking you to the airport this afternoon.  Back up to Patriots country.  Providence, right?

Travelin’ Man.

-What?

Travelin’ Man.  Thru and Thru.  I’m Moving On.

-Oh, right.

Take It or Leave It. Gotta Get Away.

-Everything go all right during your time here in A.C.?

It’s All Over Now.

-Yeah, I guess that’s a good thing.

If You Need Me…Hand of Fate.

-From what I understand fate had very little to do with our problem down here.  Anyways, I’m sure Mr. Donofrio appreciates your work.

Happy. Fool to Cry.

-How about this weather, huh?  Can’t remember a June on the Jersey shore this nice in a long time.  Hope you got to take in some of the sights.  What do you think of our fair city by the sea?

Pretty Beat Up. Mixed Emotions.

-I hear that. Get any action?

Casino Boogie. Tumblin’ Dice. Winning Ugly.

-Oh a craps man, huh?  I hear that.  I kind of suck at math so I could never really follow that stuff.   Me, I like a little blackjack, the trotters.  “Wild Horses”, know what I’m sayin’?

-I see you dig Vlatka.

-She’s something else, isn’t she?

Dancing in the Light.

-Ain’t that the truth?  That, my good friend, is one hundred percent, flawless Croatian prime.  No additives or fillers.  See, Mr. Donofrio likes to keep the girls clean here at Cherry Bombs.  Not even an ankle tattoo.

Two Thousand Light Years From Home?

-Guess so.  Some place called Zagreb I think.

-Grown Up Wrong? Backstreet Girl?

-Who’s to say?  A real beauty though.  I’m mean, look at that.  Your eyes can run out of breath just roaming up and down those legs.

Rocks Off?

-Excuse me?

Rocks Off?

-Oh.  I get you.  Um, if you’re interested I’m sure something can be arranged before you leave with Morgan for your flight out of Philly.  Probably run you a Benji for starters though.

Leave Me Alone.

-Okay.  But you let me know if I can help you out with Vlatka, okay?

-Be my personal pleasure.

Bitch….

 

###

Tonight the Monkey Dies by Kieran Shea

Five words. Two on either end. Will framed.
No one will ever know.
*
-Hey, with that bed sheet wrapped around you, you kind of look like a Roman empress looking down on her people.


-Yoo-hoo. Your majesty….

-Hey. Are you OK?
-We shouldn’t be here.


-Well, I’ll admit…the Hyatt is closer to my office. The ceilings are higher in those rooms too, but this place isn’t that bad. Room service was prompt.
-No, I mean we shouldn’t be here. Doing this.

-God, I just never thought something like this could happen to me. I never wanted to end up like this.
-End up like how?
-I don’t know. A cliché.


-There’s nothing cliché about this.
-Oh, we’re lousy with cliché.

-Maybe it’s genetic.
-What? Genetic? What do you mean genetic?
-My uncle had an affair.
-So?
-It destroyed his life. Things were never the same with my uncle and my aunt after she found out about it. A few years later when my aunt developed cervical cancer? My uncle blamed his infidelity for it.
-That’s ridiculous.
-Karma.
-Karma? Please. This is our choice, honey.
-I know.

….
-Well, you know how I feel about you. I suppose I could just pull the brakes and stop but you know I won’t. Stopping this goes against everything forcing through me right now. The things we’ve done, the world is completely different for me now. It feels like I’m on fire, like I’ve been given this second chance.
-At what?
-Life.
-Easy for you to say, you’re divorced.



-Come back to bed.
*
-Jesus Christ, you scared the shit out of me. Oh. Oh my God. You’re—

-Look, I appreciate you coming down here to confront me face to face, I mean, if you’re looking to take a swing at me or something I’m going to tell you right here and now there’s cameras in this garage.

-Don’t do something you might regret. Like I said, ther’s cameras. There’s one right over there—

-Shit.



-What can I possibly say? That I’m sorry? Okay, I will be honest with you. I am sorry. I regret what I did, I’m mortified by it, but the truth is it was almost two years ago. In the end your wife saw it for what it was—an affair. It was stupid. Stupid and rash and stupid.

-Say something.

-You just going to stand there?

-Hey, look. Iin the end she came back to you, right? And Jesus Christ that has to mean something, right? She chose you, not me. I remember how she kept saying to me all the time that you were such a good man, that you didn’t deserve it, that she still loved you in so many ways. I’ll admit, at the time I couldn’t stand the thought of losing her to you, but when she called it off I’d hoped when she’d never tell you. That we’d keep it a secret. She promised me that she never would but these things…

-I guess they can eat at you.
*
NAME: ALOYSIUS (AL) P. (PAUL) DANFORTH
DATE MISSING: APRIL 6, 2011
DATE OF BIRTH/AGE: May 15, 1968 –
MISSING FROM: Washington, DC
HEIGHT: 6’ 2”
WEIGHT: 197 pounds
HAIR COLOR: Brown
EYE COLOR: Blue
GENDER: Male
RACE: White
CLOTHING/JEWELRY: Dark suit, Tag Heuer wrist watch, inscribed July 3, 2005
SCARS/TATTOOS: None
CIRCUMSTANCES OF DISAPPEARANCE: Danforth was last seen leaving his office in downtown Washington, DC early in the evening of June 3, 2011. His car was found in his building’s parking garage.
CONTACT: Washington Metropolitan Police
CASE #: 567980-D
*
Five words. Two on either end. Will framed.
No one will ever know.