First off, here’s the writing news of the week:
1) The Enchantment of Coyotes and Shade Town are going live in e-bookstores right now. So if you’ve been hankering for more fantasy tales set in the Wild West, I’ve got two new ones out.
2) My e-books have all been given new covers and slight improvements in formatting (*’s have been added to scene breaks to improve readability). I’ve posted all the new covers to my website so that you can see what they look like now. Cubicles, Blood, and Magic underwent the most dramatic changes in its cover look in preparation for the print version–as well as the sequel–coming out.
3) More short stories are on the way. You can use the Published Stories tab on my website to find a chronological list of everything that I’ve written that has been published (newest on top, oldest on the bottom). Individual short stories and novellas will only be available in e-book format, while novels and collections will soon be available in both e-book and print (and eventually audio as well).
This week is a double feature of story samples. If you’re looking for Part One.12. of Soul Cages, scroll down the home page because it was posted first. Now we’re on to something new and completely different. Teenager Rob Stanfell knows he can’t afford to get mixed up with Yankees. He came to Boston to help his grandpa hunt down a necromancer’s servant, not find a girlfriend. But for just once in his life, he wants a night where he can go on a first date, instead of fighting the undead. Even though he knows the risks. (Please note that this short story is PG-13 for strong language.)
Just One Date
Copyright second edition © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore
Copyright © 2013 by L. M. May
Published by Osuna Publishing
This story is a work of fiction. The characters, names, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.
I frigging hate living in Boston. I mean it. If I could, I’d pack up the truck and drive back to Virginia tomorrow.
Who am I kidding? I’d worry about Grandpa, ’cause there is no way he’ll go home until Mr. Lorenzo is found. The necromancer wants both Lorenzo and Grandpa dead. So if I leave there’ll be no one to watch Grandpa’s back.
Also, I’d miss Portia real bad, she’s the only good thing about Boston and senior year so far. But there’s still about eight months of high school shit to go until I graduate.
Considering how funny some of them talk, with all that “ah” racket out of their throats like “pahk” for “park,” I don’t understand why they treat me like I’m a dumbass cracker ’cause of my accent. It’s not like I drop my g’s … unless I’m pissed.
Yankees. I’m a redneck, but I’m not dumb. Redneck does not equal dumb. Got that?
But I’m lucky. Portia has to deal with dumbasses always saying shit like, “Is your name Porsche Uh?” or “Can I ride you?”
William said that last crack to her while shoving his hands up her blouse in the cafeteria line on Monday, so I punched him in the nose. Not hard enough to break it. Just hard enough to bleed.
Today is Friday. I just finished a week’s detention for that punch. William got off with two days.
Grandpa was furious with me for getting into trouble, until he found out from Principal Alder what William had done to Portia. Then once we were alone he told me, “That ain’t no way to treat the ladies. You do what you reckon best to protect them, Rob.”
Since I decked him, William thinks twice about grabbing any girl when I’m around. I’ll see his fingers curl up to get ready, then he’ll check to see if the coast is clear and find me watching him, and stop.
He and his three jock buddies tried to start something in the bathroom before first bell on Thursday, but I kicked them down fast and hard with my steel-toed boots.
“I ain’t got time for this shit!” I told them as they laid there moaning on the tiles. “Next time, y’all will need crutches when I’m done.”
The other students no longer stare at me in the halls like I’m possum road kill when I’m wearing a John Deere baseball cap. And Portia and I can be buddies in front of her girlfriends without them running up in a panic to save her from “that redneck guy.”
So here’s what I don’t understand. I can take on four guys in a bathroom, or hack apart a zombie close enough to smell the rot, but the thought of calling Portia to ask her out gives me the shakes so bad I can’t hold the goddamn phone to do it.
It takes three tries, but I get up the nerve and press the call button on my cell phone to dial Portia’s number. As I wait for the call to go through, I pace the narrow two-bedroom apartment Grandpa rented—kitchen to living room to my bedroom and back.
We’re on the third floor of a brownstone near Commonwealth Avenue. The first two weeks I could hardly sleep due to the city racket.
Our place is tiny, so it doesn’t take long to walk it.
“Rob?” she says. “How are you?”
I’ve lost my voice, and I’m not sure when it’s coming back, so I start coughing to give myself time. And all my brain can think is, She ain’t going to want to date the likes of you. Stop.
“Are you coming down with a cold?” She’s worried.
“No.” Comes out in a croak like a swamp frog. I decide a quick death is best. “Portia, would you go out with me to a movie tomorrow night?”
“Sure.” She begins to laugh. “I was just getting up my nerve to call you. You’ve been so preoccupied this week, you didn’t seem to pick up on any of the hints I tried to give you.”
I can’t remember any hints, but what she considers a hint, I likely consider friendliness. But that doesn’t matter now.
Grandpa trudges into the apartment after dark. I don’t even have to ask how the search for Mr. Lorenzo went, I can tell from the downward droop of his shoulders that there’s been no clue.
Every day that goes by without him finding Lorenzo, means another night that the necromancer could kill the guy first.
The scent of fried steak and baked potatoes perks Grandpa up.
“Help yourself,” I say. “I ate.” I keep working on my Calculus homework at the shaky dining table. I haven’t had time to fix it yet, for we’d just found it at a thrift store yesterday to put in the living room.
It is going to be a damn busy weekend.
Grandpa comes back out of the kitchen with his steak and potatoes and sits at the table with me to eat.
I wait until he’s finishing his meal with a slice of bread to wipe up the melted butter and steak juice on his plate, to say, “I asked Portia out. We’re going to a movie tomorrow night.”
He just shakes his head as he finishes chewing.
“What?” I say. “I’ll still be able to help you tomorrow. You didn’t plan to have me searching Saturday night anyway.”
“It ain’t that,” he says.
“Her family. They’re Yankees.”
“Big goddamn deal.”
“She lives on Beacon Hill, don’t she?”
“Rich Yankees,” Grandpa adds. “If you think her daddy is goin’ to be happy to see you on his doorstep tomorrow night, you got another thing comin’, boy.”
That pisses me off. “Portia thinks I’m poor. She doesn’t care.”
“You mark my words, they’ll care, even if she don’t.”
“Then it’s a good thing I’m dating her, not her daddy.” I get up from the table, grab my homework, and go to my bedroom to work there.
Grandpa calls after me, “Don’t stay up late. You be ready and up at five, we got a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”
“Yes, sir,” I say, and shut my bedroom door. Grandpa drives me crazy with the way he always assumes the worst.
It is 5:33 A.M. on Saturday, and I am pouring ashes made from willow leaves and Lorenzo’s cotton undershirt (found left behind in his motel room back in Virginia) out of a canning jar onto the apartment’s scuffed wood floorboards to make a spell circle around Grandpa. He is standing in the middle of his bedroom—the cot he sleeps on is pushed to the wall to make room—and he’s already laid out the map of Boston on the floor at his feet, and has the quartz pebbles in his left hand, and the tiny spell book in his right.
This is dangerous, for the necromancer will sense the spell, but Grandpa is desperate. We’ve got to find Mr. Lorenzo before it’s too late.
I close the magic circle with the last of the ashes. “It’s ready.”
“Keep watch,” he says.
I go to the corner with the best coverage of the bedroom, get down on one knee, and ready my 12-gauge shotgun. God help us if I have to use it, for the blast will bring the cops down on us.
It’s a hell of a lot easier to get things done in the middle of nowhere. Cities have too many ears.
Grandpa reads the spell aloud from the book in Latin, and as he does so the gray ashes rise up like tiny tornadoes to whirl about the bedroom, then rush through the open window to be carried off on the winds.
Closing the book to tuck it in his hunter’s jacket, Grandpa says, “It ain’t goin’ to take long.”
He puts the pebbles in a heap near the map, but makes sure they don’t touch it.
I’m straining my ears for the air-sucking sound of a portal opening. The necromancer is goddamn good at that trick; it’s how he was able to sneak past Dad to shoot him in the back.
But so far, all I can hear is a car alarm going off down the street.
Then a gust of wind races back into the bedroom and pushes a pebble onto the map until it comes to rest over Brookline. I’m too far away to see which street it is.
Grandpa kneels down to memorize the location, almost touching his nose to the pebble, then flicks it away with a finger. He picks up the map to shake it free of any ashes, and folds it up to put back into his jacket’s pocket.
The rest of the pebbles he scatters about the bedroom, then slams down the window. “Bring your shotgun,” he says. …
************** End of Just One Date Excerpt *****************
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Thanks for reading! Cheers, L.M.