Deception & Revenge in 15 Short Stories
(Short Story Tales Book 2)
“ALL HAIL the Short Story!”
These 15 short stories come from those shaded corners; the shadowy recesses of our minds where deceit and revenge take refuge. Only to surface when we choose to be most unpleasant to our neighbors, our colleagues, our lovers, and to our families—and even our species. Above all, it’s the unpredictable kinks that catch you unaware that make the ‘CROOKED TALES’ anthology such a wicked delight.
‘CROOKED TALES’ gathers the talent of 15 of the hottest authors around to thrill you with their visions of mayhem, in places exotic, bucolic, other-worldly, or simply sinister. With the resurgent interest in the Short Story, due to us having busy lives with only micro-moments of calm to read, the editorial team of READERS CIRCLE OF AVENUE PARK (#RCAP) curated this unique short story anthology.
‘CROOKED TALES’ is a sequel to the successful ‘TWISTED TALES’ short story collection published by Readers Circle of Avenue Park in 2015.
You have the itch to read, but have only a long moment to indulge, so ‘hail a short story!” and immerse yourself in brief adventures of the imagination. Each author has been challenged to describe their tale in a single line.
This story is nuts – no, really, quite nuts.
“Squatter” by Ulla Hakanson is a delightfully humorous story of deceit and revenge. Fitting beautifully into the category of the collection, it keeps you guessing until the very end. Told in the first person by the wife, a married couple (Beth and David) are challenged in their home with an invasion of squirrels. No, they don’t suddenly arrive in a pack. Instead they announce their arrival as one by one they eat holes into the wall of the happy home. Advised by the local SPCA on how to handle the problem the couple sets about ridding the premises of the pesky invaders.
At first the job falls to Beth who nervously transports the varmint to a near-by park where she encounters her neighbour; the neighbour who also feeds local squirrels regularly. Is her seeming affection for the little beasts somehow connected to the problem faced by Beth and David?
As things escalate for the couple with more incursions and more frantic attempts to save their residence their desperation grows. Hakanson does a great job of increasing the tension of the couple and the fear and disgust of Beth. But it is with David’s response, from his initial disdain to his maniacal efforts to keep the squirrels out that she hits the mark. When Beth repeatedly fails in her efforts to remove the pests David takes matters into his own hands with a characteristic masculine attitude. It’s amusing to watch David’s deterioration. I could practically see his frenetic movements.
The climax is both rewarding and amusing. Without giving too much away it seems the couple has a bigger problem than squirrels. This is a short story that could even have a sequel and I would love to read it.
A curious neighbor sees and says more than he should.
Nothing But The Truth
Joseph Mark Brewer
Joseph Mark Brewer tells his short story Nothing But The Truth in two parts. The narrator is apparently testifying in a courtroom. In relating what he knows he begins by sharing his observations of his neighbors, Helen and Marvin, and their son David. Painting a picture of a dysfunctional family he leads the reader along developing a sympathetic view of the boy. Parents who were negligent at the least grow worse as time passes. There is no question the neighbor judges the couple as much by their lack of care for their environment as for their lack of attention to their child. Eventually Marvin leaves and the situation worsens.
As the story progresses the narrator then begins to speak about David. As Helen becomes more self interested David becomes more isolated. Compassion for the boy grows. He is obviously the victim here. Even the narrator seems to feel some sympathy for the boy. He prepares his own meals, gets small jobs for spending money, and has no friends. Meanwhile his mother has a revolving door of lovers for a while as she deteriorates into her own pit of misery.
The narrator’s observations are delivered coolly, the view of a nosey neighbor. However he does nothing to help the boy; he doesn’t report the neglect, he doesn’t attempt to befriend the boy, he doesn’t even confront the parents. He merely watches. He is as isolated as the boy next door and as the mother. This speaks volumes about the author’s view of society and the way we have become observers of the world, isolated from others and seeing needs that should be addressed but doing nothing.
This story has the potential to be a classic short story. When examined in detail it is far more than just a tale of revenge. It’s a keyhole look at today’s detached humankind.
Stay tuned for the next two stories in this riveting collection of ‘Crooked Tales’!
Angel Heart by Michelle Medhat
The Scream of Silence by Pamela Crane