“Like some kind of particularly tenacious vampire the short story refuses to die, and seems at this point in time to be a wonderful length for our generation.” Neil Gaiman
Crooked Tales: As Crooked As They Want to Be
It’s 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. Whenever vengeance appears, danger lurks in seemingly everyday happenings, only revealed in hidden worlds of both present and future. Above all, the unpredictable kinks that catch you unaware make ‘CROOKED TALES’ 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 our 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.
There’s no escaping the near future until you realize how to play the system.
Geoff Nelder has a knack for zeroing in on the issues the world might face in the future. He does this neatly in Ubiquitous. While he addresses the world’s obsession with money and finances, he holds on to the image of the loan sharks of the past who will take everything from body parts to family members for unpaid debts. This neat splicing of a familiar past (and present in some cases) and a future that is not unlikely is clever. As the story plays out the tension that Tedrig feels as he tries to build his bankroll in order to save his hide grows in intensity. It is almost possible to smell the fear in the air. As his recently acquired “partner” Zia attempts to reassure him Tedrig bemoans what he perceives as his inevitable fate.
While the couple sits at a table in a “snackerie” Tedrig nervously scans the crowds waiting for the arrival of thugs who will either remove part of his anatomy or possibly do away with his companion. Repositioning himself so he has a better view of the room does not ease his fears. Nelder skillfully makes mention of futuristic creations like the “plasti-tabletop” where a touch of the finger can inadvertently order food and charge the tappers account. Obviously this is not a good place for a nervous debtor to be seated. From exotic hairstyles to “subcutaneous morphine blisters” Nelder creates a world that is all too believable thus drawing the reader into the story.
While all this pressure is building Tedrig is being harassed by a kid who taps annoyingly on the window and makes threatening gestures at him much to the amusement of the other patrons. At this point Tedrig hatches a plan and with Zia’s assistance he sets things into motion.
Nelder’s world of tomorrow seems to have created nervous, jittery people not unlike people in the present day who choose to live on the edge. In his own way the author had told us the more things change, the more they remain the same.
I could easily see this witty tale being expanded into a full length novel. I’d love to see what happens to Tedrig next. Has he learned his lesson? Have we learned ours?
“Hots for a firefighter cause icy cold amnesia in a
comeuppancy family affair.”
“Keeping It in the Family”
Traci Sanders has written a story that truly fits the themes of deceit and revenge. “Keeping It in the Family” is something of a cautionary tale warning the reader to be careful what you ask for. Kelly Martin is a woman who is trapped in a marriage she finds far less than satisfying. Yearning for more passion than what her husband offers she decides to use an accident as her escape mechanism. To make matters even more complicated she has developed the hots for her husband Sam’s brother, Patrick. Desperately trying to avoid being sent home with ever loving Sam she lobbies to stay in the hospital. However her hated step-sister arrives to save the day, much to Kelly’s dismay. Worse yet it seems sister Lori is currently intimately involved with Patrick, a bump in her road toward getting her paws on the sexy fireman.
What follows is a private confrontation between the two women and neither of them is particularly likeable. Both are highly competitive and so envious of one another they give no thought to others or the repercussions of their actions. While they play mind games with one another one can only feel sympathy for the brothers who have no idea they are involved with a couple of deceitful women. Rather like watching a poker game and waiting to see if either woman reveals her “tell” the reader will be contemplating who the more desirable winner is. Frankly neither woman deserves a happy ending. And in the end I’m not sure either woman is a winner. As Sir Walter Scott said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…” These female spiders have woven webs that can have no really positive outcome.
In the end this story warns that deception can only lead to more deception. With a delightful evil twist at the end, one can only wonder what mischief these vipers might get up to in the future. Or perhaps it is best not to know.