Tag Archives: murder

Does this Macabre Macaroni still smell okay?

Lisa BurtonHi Gang, Lisa Burton here with the last of Macabre Macaroni for 2017. So far, we’ve raged through the streets as a monster while exploring some of the broken things about various systems. We’ve looked behind the curtain at a hospital to poke a stick in the idea of accountants running our medical professions. We even pulled up a lawn chair for the end of the world.

I’ll, sadly, be retiring my witch’s hat for now, but not until I go trick or treating. I may get to wear it a bit during the editing of Craig’s novella, The Hat.

Today, we’re just going to enjoy a bit of nature in a story Craig calls Little Brown Bat.

Little Brown Bat

Little Brown Bat crawled out of a crack along the cliff face. The crack, no wider than a bottle cap, had housed bats for over a hundred years.

He squinted at the setting sun, but decided to leave the roost early. Soon the nighttime sky would be full of his brethren, but Little Brown Bat knew something they didn’t.

They would all head for the college campus nearby and hope to find the night insects fluttering around the lights surrounding the quad.

Little Brown Bat was headed for Randall’s Marsh. Situated on an abandoned farm, the waters had not been dredged for swimming or poisoned for mosquito control.

Sometimes, if he was early enough, he could catch the last of the day-flying insects. Fat blowflies, and yellowjacket wasps full of meat, made for a satisfying snack. It takes a lot of food to keep Little Brown Bat in the air.

Once the sun set, the marsh itself always had a hatch of water borne insects. Sometimes they were mayflies, sometimes caddis, and if he was lucky a giant stonefly or two.

He ducked into the forest along the way, the shade protected his sensitive eyes from the setting sun. He caught a lazy moth in his tail and flipped it into his mouth on the way to the marsh. A tasty snack this early at night.

He veered onto the muddy two track road, and stayed about three feet off the ground. A fat blowfly gave him hope that he arrived early enough.

Wild yellow iris bloomed along the edge of the first pond, and spread across the boggy area. Later tonight the scent might attract one of the gigantic sphinx moths, nearly as large as he was. He moved on to the first small grassy mound, but it produced nothing more than a pair of lawn moths.

By the time he reached the earthen mounds, he’d scored a juicy yellowjacket and two more flies. The sixth mound remained bare earth. It takes time for the grass to grow over the fresh dirt. It appeared a coyote or some other creature dug deep here. Little Brown Bat caught flies by the dozens.

He made two more circles, but he’d caught all the day insects this evening this evening would offer. On his final turn he spotted a fresh hole.

Barely three feet deep, he knew it wouldn’t be long before it was filled back in. That’s when the day insects came. Sometimes they swarmed by the hundreds over the fresh mounds. He would be able to scoop up flies two and even three at once with his tail.

His friends could fight over the night insects at the quad, and scare the coeds to death. This was the place for Little Brown Bat. The holes always became a fresh mound in three days.

His radar detected the first of the caddis flies coming off the water’s surface. The day flyers were finished, but Little Brown Bat knew the ponds always held an abundance of night hatching insects. They’d been much more abundant this year for some reason. He veered out over the surface of the water.

The swollen faces of three coeds watched him from below the water’s surface. They’d been here for over a month, and the night insects seemed to hatch with greater frequency. They no longer screamed at the site of a tiny bat.

His radar detected a fluttering stonefly, and he veered left. He nearly brushed the exposed rib cage of another coed along the shore as he scooped with his tail, but he caught the huge insect.

Yes, Randall’s Marsh was a lonely place, but it was perfect for Little Brown Bat.

***

If you enjoyed Macabre Macaroni 2017, you can always keep reading. Stories from previous years are available in the sidebar under the category Short Stories and Vignettes. If you’re really into it, and we hope you are, you can pick up some of Craig’s short story collections. Go to his Amazon Author page and look for either of the Experimental Notebooks, or both of them. You can also find some of Craig’s work in the anthologies Quantum Wanderlust and Macabre Sanctuary.

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Ghost Hunting

I’m still stuck in Portland, but I wanted to do something while I’m here. I found the Portland Walking Tour Company and booked a tour last night. I really wanted to go on the Shanghai Tunnels tour, but the schedule interfered with my seminars. I am here for a reason, after all. I wound up booking the late version of Beyond Bizarre, because it covered parts of the Shanghai Tunnels.

In case you don’t know, being Shanghaied means bashed over the head and sent to sea against your will as slave labor. My grandfather served as a Marine in China between the world wars, and this was still a serious risk over there. They were told to hang out in groups and stay in the safe areas when they went out. My grandpa is part of why I wanted to visit this site.

I started my evening at Old Town Pizza. Wound up with a personal pizza that was more like a small, but since it was the only real food I had all day I ate the whole thing. I also had a mushroom beer that was surprisingly good,

Mushroom BeerThis one is a nice brown ale, and it uses an extract for the flavor. Not maybe the best way to brew a beer, but it was good.

My tour started right around the corner. Monday night was sold out, but there were only three of us on the tour last night. The guide handed us all electromagnetic field indicators and showed us how they work. Then we were off, weaving through the street people who seem to sleep in every store opening and all along the sidewalk.

EMF meterSomething registered a few times, this was in one of the parking lots.

There was so much stuff I’m bound to miss something, but I’m going to touch on the highlights. The first thing we learned was that Portland had more men than women, and had a huge seamstress population. Seamstress was a code word for prostitute. There was human trafficking there too and we covered some of that.

It was nighttime, so I took limited photos. This is one of a cast iron building. Apparently, you could order all the pieces, a tall ship brought them in, and you assembled it on site just like Legos. They added brick and such for the walls once the frame went up. Cast iron isn’t the most reliable material in a city that gets this much rain, but it was state-of-the-art back then.

Cast iron building

Once you get onto it, you spot the frills and pillars all over the old part of town. This pub also has a ghost. There was a fire that broke out downstairs, and the fire department saved everyone. A dog went missing and a fireman went back inside for it. Yup, haunted by a fireman.

We toured a couple of haunted parking lots next. Lots of EMF readings but no ghosts. Historically, they are both considered tainted ground and no building or digging is allowed. Even the power lines run overhead in these locations. One is an Indian burial site and the other is a cholera mass grave. All they can be is a parking lot. Apparently that isn’t okay with the dead either, because things keep happening to the cars that park there. These are all electronic failures and not vandalism. 

The guide showed us a photo of something called a vortex that they took there one night. It’s a beam of light coming straight out of the ground. Only about half the crowd could see it, but the picture came from someone who was a non-believer. Yeah, it could have been photoshopped, but what kind of fun do you want to have on a ghost tour?

We also saw the site of a street shooting from the 1980s. Apparently this location has a lot of poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because the victims were all teenagers.

There are specific ghosts that are regularly seen downtown. The tour guide listens to the police scanner and they get reports, The police never find the person they were sent to check out. One example is an 1800s era ship’s captain. All they ever found of his ship was the wheel. His body was lashed to it, and we got to see the wheel from the outside. The restaurant was closed for the night and it was kept inside. People see this cos-play looking sailor in that vicinity disrupting traffic. Cops come…nobody there.

We got to see the old police building that was actually owned by the Ku Klux Klan. This was all about government graft and corruption, and the Shanghai tunnels were used to move liquor around. Whiskey barrels were placed in the basements of ethnic competitors. Then the Klan-controlled police would raid and find this whiskey, putting the ethnic fellow out of business. The police would bust up the barrel in the street, the whiskey flowed into a special drain that routed it back to the original owner who bottled and sold it. This all happened decades before the USA adopted prohibition, because Portland had its own laws.

We saw the street of death, where every building used to house a mortuary. The cemetery was on the opposite side of the river, and there was even a special ship for the dead to cross the river. It all sounds so wonderfully legendary. Why so many mortuaries? Lots of death going around.

This is the high water mark of a flood that occurred.

Flood markerWe were way above the river, and this plaque is about five and a half feet above street level. All of the basements in this part of town are connected by tunnels. It was Portland’s idea to minimize flood damage, they weren’t built for Shanghaing men to ship to sea. It’s all semantics, but Shanghaing never happened in Portland. This is because of a perfectly legal system called “crimping.” There were legal press gangs that bopped people over the head and sold them to ships who needed crews. They said in those days, if you were seen dragging an unconscious man downstairs, a policeman might pick up his ankles and help you – because it was all perfectly legal.

These Shanghai tunnels were used for legal crimping and storage of those men. That’s when the flood came. They didn’t want to let the crimped men go, so they locked them inside. Hundreds of men drowned and could not be cleaned up for months. They didn’t clean them up. They crimped more men, made them clean up the bodies, then sold those men to sea.

This left a bad taste in their mouths, and also helped one of the cholera outbreaks along. The next time they had a flood, they went downstairs and shot all the crimped prisoners rather than deal with the mess.

Seamstresses were trafficked too, but they fell victim to a little something extra in their opium. This is one of the cells where victims were held, but this one was used for seamstresses.

Jail cellThe women would be held here for three days and three nights without food, water, or light. Then they were offered a job as a seamstress. If the woman refused, the process was repeated one more time. If she still refused, they cut her hair, bound her chest, and sold her off like a man. By the time anyone knew what happened they were miles out to sea. It was considered bad luck to have a woman on board, so the women were thrown overboard to drown.

This is what the Shanghai Tunnels look like today. They’re all filled with rubble, which isn’t great engineering when you’re driving busses and trucks over them. One day they will have to figure out an alternative way of closing them.

Shanghai TunnelsIf you believe in ghosts, Portland almost certainly has them. A lot of pain and suffering went down here. If you don’t believe, it was a great tour of the dark underbelly of an early part of American history.

I didn’t see any ghosts, but I know where they all live – or don’t live, cause dead and all that.

I didn’t get to bed until midnight, and my presentation was the first one today. It went down really well, but I’m a little tired right now. Whatever I do tonight will probably be kind of light duty.

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Ghost Hunting

I’m still stuck in Portland, but I wanted to do something while I’m here. I found the Portland Walking Tour Company and booked a tour last night. I really wanted to go on the Shanghai Tunnels tour, but the schedule interfered with my seminars. I am here for a reason, after all. I wound up booking the late version of Beyond Bizarre, because it covered parts of the Shanghai Tunnels.

In case you don’t know, being Shanghaied means bashed over the head and sent to sea against your will as slave labor. My grandfather served as a Marine in China between the world wars, and this was still a serious risk over there. They were told to hang out in groups and stay in the safe areas when they went out. My grandpa is part of why I wanted to visit this site.

I started my evening at Old Town Pizza. Wound up with a personal pizza that was more like a small, but since it was the only real food I had all day I ate the whole thing. I also had a mushroom beer that was surprisingly good,

Mushroom BeerThis one is a nice brown ale, and it uses an extract for the flavor. Not maybe the best way to brew a beer, but it was good.

My tour started right around the corner. Monday night was sold out, but there were only three of us on the tour last night. The guide handed us all electromagnetic field indicators and showed us how they work. Then we were off, weaving through the street people who seem to sleep in every store opening and all along the sidewalk.

EMF meterSomething registered a few times, this was in one of the parking lots.

There was so much stuff I’m bound to miss something, but I’m going to touch on the highlights. The first thing we learned was that Portland had more men than women, and had a huge seamstress population. Seamstress was a code word for prostitute. There was human trafficking there too and we covered some of that.

It was nighttime, so I took limited photos. This is one of a cast iron building. Apparently, you could order all the pieces, a tall ship brought them in, and you assembled it on site just like Legos. They added brick and such for the walls once the frame went up. Cast iron isn’t the most reliable material in a city that gets this much rain, but it was state-of-the-art back then.

Cast iron building

Once you get onto it, you spot the frills and pillars all over the old part of town. This pub also has a ghost. There was a fire that broke out downstairs, and the fire department saved everyone. A dog went missing and a fireman went back inside for it. Yup, haunted by a fireman.

We toured a couple of haunted parking lots next. Lots of EMF readings but no ghosts. Historically, they are both considered tainted ground and no building or digging is allowed. Even the power lines run overhead in these locations. One is an Indian burial site and the other is a cholera mass grave. All they can be is a parking lot. Apparently that isn’t okay with the dead either, because things keep happening to the cars that park there. These are all electronic failures and not vandalism. 

The guide showed us a photo of something called a vortex that they took there one night. It’s a beam of light coming straight out of the ground. Only about half the crowd could see it, but the picture came from someone who was a non-believer. Yeah, it could have been photoshopped, but what kind of fun do you want to have on a ghost tour?

We also saw the site of a street shooting from the 1980s. Apparently this location has a lot of poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because the victims were all teenagers.

There are specific ghosts that are regularly seen downtown. The tour guide listens to the police scanner and they get reports, The police never find the person they were sent to check out. One example is an 1800s era ship’s captain. All they ever found of his ship was the wheel. His body was lashed to it, and we got to see the wheel from the outside. The restaurant was closed for the night and it was kept inside. People see this cos-play looking sailor in that vicinity disrupting traffic. Cops come…nobody there.

We got to see the old police building that was actually owned by the Ku Klux Klan. This was all about government graft and corruption, and the Shanghai tunnels were used to move liquor around. Whiskey barrels were placed in the basements of ethnic competitors. Then the Klan-controlled police would raid and find this whiskey, putting the ethnic fellow out of business. The police would bust up the barrel in the street, the whiskey flowed into a special drain that routed it back to the original owner who bottled and sold it. This all happened decades before the USA adopted prohibition, because Portland had its own laws.

We saw the street of death, where every building used to house a mortuary. The cemetery was on the opposite side of the river, and there was even a special ship for the dead to cross the river. It all sounds so wonderfully legendary. Why so many mortuaries? Lots of death going around.

This is the high water mark of a flood that occurred.

Flood markerWe were way above the river, and this plaque is about five and a half feet above street level. All of the basements in this part of town are connected by tunnels. It was Portland’s idea to minimize flood damage, they weren’t built for Shanghaing men to ship to sea. It’s all semantics, but Shanghaing never happened in Portland. This is because of a perfectly legal system called “crimping.” There were legal press gangs that bopped people over the head and sold them to ships who needed crews. They said in those days, if you were seen dragging an unconscious man downstairs, a policeman might pick up his ankles and help you – because it was all perfectly legal.

These Shanghai tunnels were used for legal crimping and storage of those men. That’s when the flood came. They didn’t want to let the crimped men go, so they locked them inside. Hundreds of men drowned and could not be cleaned up for months. They didn’t clean them up. They crimped more men, made them clean up the bodies, then sold those men to sea.

This left a bad taste in their mouths, and also helped one of the cholera outbreaks along. The next time they had a flood, they went downstairs and shot all the crimped prisoners rather than deal with the mess.

Seamstresses were trafficked too, but they fell victim to a little something extra in their opium. This is one of the cells where victims were held, but this one was used for seamstresses.

Jail cellThe women would be held here for three days and three nights without food, water, or light. Then they were offered a job as a seamstress. If the woman refused, the process was repeated one more time. If she still refused, they cut her hair, bound her chest, and sold her off like a man. By the time anyone knew what happened they were miles out to sea. It was considered bad luck to have a woman on board, so the women were thrown overboard to drown.

This is what the Shanghai Tunnels look like today. They’re all filled with rubble, which isn’t great engineering when you’re driving busses and trucks over them. One day they will have to figure out an alternative way of closing them.

Shanghai TunnelsIf you believe in ghosts, Portland almost certainly has them. A lot of pain and suffering went down here. If you don’t believe, it was a great tour of the dark underbelly of an early part of American history.

I didn’t see any ghosts, but I know where they all live – or don’t live, cause dead and all that.

I didn’t get to bed until midnight, and my presentation was the first one today. It went down really well, but I’m a little tired right now. Whatever I do tonight will probably be kind of light duty.

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Unintended Consequences, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonWelcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. The world recently learned of something the Japanese call Karoshi. This is the situation where people are worked to death. Several deaths have been labeled as Karoshi in recent weeks.

What would it take to get to that point? What goes through someone’s mind as the symptoms take over? We’re going to talk to someone who is very near that point today. “Welcome to the show, Trish Clayton.”

“Hello, Lisa. ‘Karoshi’? Is that what they call this insanity? I guess having a label for it is rather handy for some. Make no mistake, Lisa; there is nothing about this entire situation that a sane person wouldn’t have problems dealing with. I’m not certain about my ability to step back from this on a personal level, and that’s hardly a point from which to assess anything rationally, is it?”

“Let’s not be too hasty here, Trish. You’re dealing with life or death situations every day. People are being tortured and murdered in some kind of sick cat and mouse game, and everyone wants to bring the game to a conclusion. Tell us the truth, how many hours are you putting in every week? When was the last time you took a vacation?”

“The images of the victims at their time of death haunt what little sleep I’m able to grab. How many hours a day do I work? That’s blurred now, one day seems to melt into the next. I guess I get around two, maybe three hours downtime every other day. As for vacation time …! The last time I took some time off was just before the FBI team was formed to investigate the ‘Countdown’ murders. So, that would be over five years ago now. I can’t take time out, not from this. It’s not just the victims now, we just lost a fifteen-year-old boy who went to help one of whoever the hell these victims really are. He was just a kid! A brave kid with a good heart who should never have died.”

“An abduction leads to a photograph with a cryptic message. Find this person by a certain time or they will be killed. When the time passes, another photograph of the person’s severed head. Followed by another abduction which starts the cycle over again.”

“Five years worth of this and you don’t have any leads?”

“No, Lisa, you’re wrong. I have leads! All roads lead me to hell. Sheila Harrington is involved up to her dangerous smile in this situation. The toxic Ms. Harrington is about to become the Governor’s fiancé, Lisa. And, if rumor is correct, the Governor is about to throw his name in the race for the Presidency. I guess suspecting the female most likely to become the new First-Lady of the United States could gain me a few interested parties. How is she connected to the ‘Countdown Murders’? I believe she is at the very least connected via someone powerful enough to have had eighteen men executed. She’s no serial killer, not this one. Oh, I do believe her capable of murder. I also believe that she is simply the well-paid puppet of someone very powerful. Someone else is jerking her strings.”

“If not Sheila, then who?”

“Let me run a few things by you, first, okay? First up, I don’t believe in coincidences when they occur on this kind of scale. So, you’ll understand my dilemma when we discovered that not ONE of the victims existed anywhere on record, prior to two years before their deaths.

I mean nowhere … no registration of birth, no driver’s license, marriage license, no social security, Facebook or other social links. No one came forward to claim them as family when their bodies were released for burial. Only one of them was ever reported missing, that was Quentin Hammersley, the first victim. The friend that reported him gone has since been untraceable.

“There were discrepancies in our records. Vehicle and registration details had been deleted. Passports were falsified in most of the cases, sending us on a wild goose chase that distracted us for far too long.

“You need to understand, Lisa … this information had to have been altered from the inside. The FBI security access is state of the art, and a sad sign of the dangerous times we now live in. We hadn’t been hacked. Someone I knew, perhaps someone on my own team was steering this investigation in a direction away from Sheila Harrington. I began to suspect everyone. It made me sick to my stomach thinking that one of these people whose lives I’d die to protect was bent in some way … or acting under duress.

“I’m sorry … this conversation is affecting me more than I thought it would, I’m wound up pretty tight.”

“Now, Trish could your stress levels be causing a little paranoia?”

“Am I paranoid? Jesus, Lisa … I hope so! I hope to be proven wrong every hour of every day. But it’s all adding up to a really bad equation here, and the recent assassination of Director Ted Prendergast was a professional hit. We have zero leads on the shooter. Ted was my friend, Lisa! We even dated for a while before he started moving up the ranks faster than anyone we knew. Why was he silenced, had he discovered something and was about to reveal it? Or, was he operating under duress? Was he being coerced into altering FBI files?

“I didn’t go to his funeral, Lisa. I took a couple of days and headed out to where the first victim had lived and died. I found things there; things … things that I can’t begin to believe are even possible. I had to speak to somebody. I was cracking under the weight of it. The acting Director Henry Weisman is the man I chose to share everything with. Henry and I discussed it at length. He helped me hold on to my sanity. The case is now closed. On record, it’s now a cold case. Henry and I have both resigned from the bureau, and we’ll be heading up a private security company … the staff will all be FBI trained. We plan on the private security income to provide us with an income to pay for all the time we will be investing in this case … that is, and will remain our prime objective. We–”

“Trish, I hate to interrupt, but we have a caller. Go ahead caller, you’re on the air with Lisa and Trish.”

“To say any more would be a mistake, Ms. Clayton.”

“Why are you altering your voice? If you have evidence you should come forward with it.”

“Let him talk, Lisa. Go ahead caller, I’m listening.”

“No good can come of pursuing this case. People are in danger. You are in danger.”

“Is that a threat?”

“I like the color blue on you, it matches your eyes. It would be a pity to cover that pretty blue dress with your own blood.”

“Trish, you need to get to an interior room away from windows.”

“Way ahead of you, Lisa. Shit! … I need to make a call…”

“Trish? Trish? Are you there?

“If you want to find out more about Trish, pick up a copy of Acts Beyond Redemption and Acts of Betrayal by Suzanne Burke. I’ll include the purchase links on the website.

“Please help Soooz spread the work by using those sharing buttons today. She’d do it for you when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

Acts Beyond RedemptionActs Beyond Redemption:

Acts Beyond Redemption takes you on a twisted, deadly, journey.

Mike Matheson is head of a Special Task Force set up by the F.B.I to track down and apprehend the serial killers responsible for 18 brutal murders.

The team are exhausted, frustrated, and ready to burn out after almost five years and no leads.
Their nightmares are stripping them to the bone.

Nothing has prepared them for this.
Someone on the inside is deflecting their weary eyes away from an incomprehensible and shattering truth.

Who will be buried in the shattered remains of a country where freedom and honor are treasured above all things?

Just how far will those elected to protect and defend go, to keep the American dream alive?

PURCHASE “Acts Beyond Redemption” here on Amazon.com

Purchase “Acts Beyond Redemption” on AMAZON.UK

PURCHASE Acts Beyond Redemption on AMAZON.COM.AU

 

Acts of Betrayal

Acts of Betrayal:

Can one powerful man ring mankind to the brink of extinction? Time’s running out …

In this powerful sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption Nigel Cantrell is back, and he’s out for blood.
One of his team holds on precariously to life, with no guarantees of recovery.

Can those responsible drag him into a nightmare he will struggle to contain?

In a complex dual where oaths taken are forsaken, and promises made are broken beyond repair; he must seek the help of the only people he can trust, people who revere him … and, those that despise him.

Cantrell is efficient and deadly, but even he has ghosts in his past, demons that must be exorcised. And nothing is more demonic than the peril he must now face, as a one man’s maniacal thirst for revenge is uncovered.

A man so enormously powerful, with a hatred so intense, so extreme, that the possible demise of his own species means nothing to him. He will dispense his revenge as his diseased mind sees fit.

Nigel Cantrell and his team do not have failure as an option.

The fate of their country and beyond now rests in their hands.

Can they prevent the final Acts of Betrayal?

PURCHASE “Acts Of Betrayal” on AMAZON.COM

PURCHASE “Acts Of Betrayal” AMAZON. U.K

PURCHASE “Acts Of Betrayal” on AMAZON Australia.

Suzanne Burke

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds- of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.

Her Fictional works are written under S. BURKE.

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A Grave Misunderstanding, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa BurtonHello, and welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I’m stoked to introduce this week’s guest. It’s my first time interviewing another robot. “Welcome to the show, Smithers.”

“It is my distinct pleasure, Lisa.”

“Smithers, you’re in the studio with me, but our listeners can’t see you. I’m excited to meet an advanced model, and you look as human as I do. In fact, I think you look a bit like Peter O’Toole.”

“Yes, that is very perceptive of you. In fact, most of us in the Simdroid 3000 Series resemble Peter O’Toole. Our human creator, Darius Hawthorne, has a great affection for O’Toole, particularly his role in Lawrence of Arabia. That’s why he has ten other simdroids in the mansion who look like me. Our voices vary, however. You know, Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, and so on. Oh, and then there’s the upstairs maid, who has the voice of Marilyn Monroe. My voice, as you will certainly note, is the actual mellifluous voice of none other than the late Richard Burton.”

“Great voice, and great last name, if I do say so myself. My voice is an amalgamation of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vanessa Williams, and a lady I thought sounded nice on a telenovella. Now my bio says you are a butler at Hawthorne Mansion. Butlers always have all the dirt. What kind of things go on at Hawthorne Mansion?”

“Until yesterday, I would have said nothing much. Polishing, cleaning, tidying, the usual butlerly stuff. But the murder has changed all that, you see, and not just any ordinary murder, but a murder that defies logic, at least any logic I’ve been given in my programming.”

“Why, what a wonderful puzzled expression you have generated!

“Let me explain. The gentlemen I am helping with this case, Detective Simon Grave and his near invisible partner, Sergeant Barry Blunt, call the murder a locked-room mystery, but with a twist. Instead of the victim, poor Miss Epiphany Jones, being locked in the room dead as can be, all of the so-called prime suspects—seven in all—were locked in the room, myself among them. Not that the butler did it, understand. Oh, my, who programmed your expressions? They are quite delightful.

“At any rate, we don’t know who did it, and I don’t know logically why Detective Grave thinks that any of us locked in that room could have been the murderer. He’s a rather curious fellow, and logic seems to be a challenge for him. That being said, he at least recognizes my abilities as an observer and recording device. He’s letting me sit in on the interrogations.”

“Let me tell you, my recording capability has proven handy more than once. Does anyone seem to know why the murder happened?”

“There are at least two theories. Firstly, there is reason to suspect a violent argument between the victim and Mr. Hawthorne’s daughter, Whitney Waters, who has achieved some small fame by painting red herrings, in the nude. And, of course, there is the MacGuffin Trophy, a sailing trophy that was stolen from the locked room the same night as the murder. Two crimes, you see, perhaps connected.”

“Hmpfff! So detective Grave is going to have to chase the MacGuffin, get it?”

“What? Oh, Ha! I see what you are doing there, but no. The trophy is named after Barnaby MacGuffin, a famous local yachtsman. The trophy is awarded to the winner of an annual race in Crab Cove.”

“Okay, so we have this missing trophy and a body. Do you have any suspects yet?”

“Well, Miss Waters, of course, although it could have been Mr. Hawthorne; his second wife, Philomena; his other daughter, wheelchair-bound Edwina; the French governess, Lola Lafarge; or Whitney’s young son, Roy Lynn Waters. And me, although that is quite ridiculous. Nothing in my programming suggests I could have done such a thing. Robots just don’t do that sort of thing.

“Still, the interviews of the suspects have been interesting. As I said, Detective Grave seems to have an oil and water relationship with logic. He reminds me more of that fictional character Dudley Do-Right than the equally fictional Sherlock Holmes.

“I have to say, though, that I think Detective Grave could learn something from Sherlock. I’m not sure if Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels are part of your database, but I can access them all, including his way of approaching a case, which is, and I quote: Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.

“Well, I’m afraid Detective Graves’ approach goes something like: Once you eliminate the truth, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the impossible.

“So, right at the moment, everyone is a murderer and a thief, and everyone is a red herring.”

“Oh crap, that reminds me. The traveling salesman Red Herring stoped by the writing cabin recently. I need to finish cataloging and putting all that stuff away. I’ll bet my author would prefer a naked lady painter to show up. Wait, Whitney is a lady, right?”

“Yes, and quite beautiful, according to my programming. A ten on some maddeningly subjective scale or other, ten being the highest. Although frankly, that is not a data point of any interest to me. I am a Simdroid 3000, Series 2, Butler Model XL, and butlering is what I do. I am not human and don’t wish to pass for human.”

“See, that’s our programming. I was built to almost trick people into believing I’m human, so I want to be as human as possible. If I were programmed to be a butler, I’d want to be the best butler possible. I really respect your work ethic and dedication.”

“Well, the sooner we solve this murder, the sooner I can get back to doing just that. And that will be fine with me.”

“Smithers, I wish you all the best. Sometimes these little diversions can be maddening. Do you have any closing remarks for our listeners today?”

“Being a butler, my entire focus is on serving my master and his household as well as I can. Part and parcel to that, of course, is being as efficient as possible. With that in mind, I would make the following humble requests. Gentlemen guests, please lift the seat before urinating. Lady guests, please avoid leaving lipstick on the champagne glasses.

“And thank you, Lisa, for letting me ramble on. You have quite run down my battery.”

“You can learn all about Smithers, the MacGuffin Trophy, Barry Blunt, and the others in A Grave Misunderstanding, by Len Boswell, one of the Simon Grave Mysteries. I’ll include all of the deets on the website.

“Don’t forget to help me keep the lights on around here. Please use those sharing buttons and help Len and Smithers spread the work about this book.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***
Book Blurb:
In A Grave Misunderstanding, by Len Boswell, the first in a new series of Simon Grave Mysteries, “almost handsome” Detective Simon Grave and his “nearly invisible” partner, Sergeant Barry Blunt, investigate a locked-room mystery with a significant twist: the prime suspects are in the locked room, not the victim, a logic-defying situation that challenges the team at every turn. As if murder weren’t enough, they must also investigate the simultaneous disappearance of The MacGuffin Trophy from that same locked room, the studio of artist Whitney Waters, famous for her stylized paintings of red herrings.

Who is/are the killer(s)? How did he/she/they get out of the locked room with the trophy, kill the victim, and return unnoticed by others in the room? These and other questions, including the limits of logic and the meaning of life, are posed and perhaps even answered in this quirky, near-future mystery. Yes, there are robots.

Author Bio:

Len Boswell is the author of Flicker: A Paranormal Mystery, Skeleton: A Bare Bones Mystery, The Leadership Secrets of Squirrels, and Santa Takes a Tumble. An award-winning writer, he now spends his days in the mountains of West Virginia, with his wife, Ruth, and their two dogs, Shadow and Cinder.

You can follow Len and pick up a copy of A Grave Misunderstanding at the following locations:

Purchase Link

Twitter: @simonsilverback

Facebook

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Songs From Richmond Avenue, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hi all you mystery lovers, this is Lisa Burton, the robot girl. You’ve landed on Lisa Burton Radio, and my guest today is a real enigma. He’s calling in today from The Relix Club in Las Vegas, and he’s known only as the Buddhist. “Welcome to the show, Buddhist.”

“My humblest of greetings, Lisa. One brief correction, if I may. I am currently in The Relix Club, true enough, but it’s located in Houston, Texas, where I have resided, on and off, for a number of years. The confusion may be that I have only recently returned from North Las Vegas. I flew west, you see, to make right a wrong done to a friend concerning his vehicle and another party’s rather substantial debt. It’s probably best to leaving it at that, at least in such a public forum. Too many people listening in, if you follow my meaning.”

“I take it this Relix Club you’re in is kind of a seedy place. When you called just now I distinctly heard glass breaking and someone cursing at the top of his lungs. Why did you choose to call in from there?”

“Cursing? Oh yes, Danny. He’s the bartender. It’s how he relieves stress and maintains order. I prefer chanting, myself. Do you want to talk about chanting and meditative states? Maybe chemical relaxants to assist with meditative states?”

“No. I want to talk about why you are calling from that Relix Club dive.”

“Well, it’s kind of my headquarters, so to speak. I do business out of here and am comfortable with the level of discretion provided by its staff and clientele. The dress code is fairly relaxed as well. Shirts and shoes are more of a humble suggestion than a requirement, you see, so long as you happen to be a paying customer. Plus it’s dark here. Easy on the eyes.”

“Now, Buddhist, my bio says you’re sleeping in an old car these days. What happened to drive you to those depths?”

“I must take exception here, Lisa. My current living arrangements have less to do with sinking to depths than they do with rising from the ashes – like a Phoenix, only in Houston. You see, there was a fairly substantial fire at my prior address, the cause of which has yet to be determined. All I can say on the record is that I was not the perpetrator. Anyway, I decided a more minimalistic approach to life was spiritually preferable after that. I like to think of the fire as something of a cosmic blessing, though I could have done without all the depositions.”

“So I understand using your friend’s car as a residence got him into a pickle last year that had something to do with unpaid gambling debts.”

“The car in question is no ordinary vehicle. It’s a classic Mercury Marquis touring car, circa 1976, containing the largest factory engine in commercial automotive history. Needless to say, it provided lots of room to stretch out, making it an obvious choice. Actually, I only slept in it a time or two and in no way took up residence. I can only say the Merc was central to my friend’s difficulties, but you should ask him about that. Wait, I’ll put him… He’s shaking his head, Lisa. Now, he’s leaving without even finishing his beer. I think I’ve only seen him do that once before.

“A thousand pardons, Hoss. Come on back!

“It’s difficult to explain, Lisa. You see he is the press by trade, yet he shuns the press. Kind of a yin and yang relationship with his chosen vocation, don’t you think?

“Understand, Lisa, I am limited as to what I can say out of a sense of loyalty and due to certain pending legal constraints that I unfortunately fall under. I will go on record to say his difficulties were not of his own making but rather due largely to a certain admirable naiveté on his part. That I fell asleep when I did, admittedly complicated matters.

“Danny, when you get a chance, another drink before the band starts making noise.”

“So what’s wrong with a nice band? It might give the old place some character.”

“Character? The Relix’s loaded with both character and characters. The bands, I’m afraid, tend to draw a more conventional segment of the populace than we’ve become accustomed to, so to speak. Less flexible in their sense of right and wrong, less forgiving. They ask for wine lists and make Danny nervous. What if there’s a fight, for example? These people will want cops and ambulances if someone really gets hurt.”

“Okay then, Buddhist. Let’s talk about the body you and your friend, and his date discovered. What kind of leads do the police have so far?”

“That unfortunate turn of events was most definitely none of my doing. Even Michelle was there as a witness to the discovery, and I can tell she never does anything injurious. My belief is the deceased fell into the shrubbery from an upstairs window while home alone. Possibly death by misadventure as the coroners say in such cases. Frankly, the deceased was, in my view, not as mentally sound as you or I. Say, how do you even know I was there when the body was found? Who talked? A thousand pardons, Lisa, but I’m starting to regret agreeing to this interview. I thought we’d be swapping lewd stories like Howard Stern does. Or, or, or, maybe giving away cars to your audience like Oprah. How do you know all of this?”

“Actually, I used to be a cop, and yes I’m recording the show for transcription onto the website.”

“Transcription? — So, Lisa, assuming that is your real name, do you think during the editing process you could by chance, I mean– Look, humblest of apologies but I have a pending commitment I nearly forgot that requires me to cut this short. A thousand apologies.

“Hoss, the Merc. I need to borrow the Merc. It’s of the utmost importance.”

“Buddhist? Are you still there? Buddhist?

“We seem to have lost Buddhist somehow. The good news is there is a book available. It’s called Songs From Richmond Avenue, by Michael Reed. I’ll post the link, and all the other deets on the website after I transcribe everything.

“Don’t forget about those sharing buttons on the website. I’m sure after he thinks about it, Buddhist will appreciate it, and I know Mike Reed will too.

“For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

A Houston Love Story, with Beer and a Couple Dead Folks Thrown In

Songs From Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed offers an off-kilter, satirical take on big-city misfits, the bars they frequent and the occasional, albeit, misguided quest for something better.

For the blurry-eyed denizens of the Relix Club and our narrator, a serially employed journalist with questionable work ethics, whiling away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting on just about anything – is a pretty good life. That is until he meets pretty Michelle, a woman who he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”

Could she be his salvation, he wonders. Maybe, but not until after he completes an alcohol- fueled urban odyssey involving Michelle’s Nihilist stripper roommate, a paramilitary Buddhist barfly, a pair of dumber-than-dirt, debt-collecting hoodlums, and the usual ration of Bayou City sweat and torrential rain.

“Bukowski, no doubt, would have found comfort and more than a few laughs in the sideshow of Houston inhabited by the author.”

– Steve Olafson, longtime Houston journalist

“It keeps the reader turning pages while navigating the Bayou City at a breakneck pace…”

– Tom Minder, author of Long Harbor Testament

To order

Print: www.blackrosewriting.com/literary/songsfromrichmondavenue

Kindle: www.amazon.com/Songs-Richmond-Avenue-Michael-Reed-ebook/dp/B01N039ZM7

Michael Reed is an award-winning Texas journalist, which means he has lived in inexpensive apartments and driven paid-for used cars most of his life. Experience as a reporter and editor, along with extensive, though at the time completely unintended research into the many facets of Houston’s dive bar scene, provided him with the requisite background material for this novel. This is the Southern Illinois University graduate’s first novel.

You can also find him in the following locations:

Twitter: @trends_to_reed

Facebook: SongsFromRichmondAve

Instagram: @miker0130

 

Email: songsfromrichmond@gmail.com

 

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Filed under Lisa Burton Radio

The Broken Life

It’s my pleasure today to welcome Jaye Marie to Entertaining Stories. She and her sister have a blog tour going on, and it’s their first one. Please make them feel welcome, and share this post across your social media.

***

Interview with David Snow/Broken Life

 

I have interviewed David Snow before, but usually in my office. This time I am visiting him in the hospital, where he is recovering from the horrendous injuries he sustained in The Broken Life, the third book in my mystery thriller series.

I’m not sure what condition I will find him in, but I believe he is almost ready to be discharged. As my job as editor I have to find out what his plans are for the future. Rumour has it that he will be retiring, but I might have other ideas about that. It would be a shame to lose him now, as he is one of my better characters.

I find him sitting in a chair by the window in his private hospital room, looking amazing and wearing casual clothes and not the pyjamas I was expecting. He looks up as I push open the door, the same boyish grin on his face as he recognises me. The attractive blonde sitting on the bed stands up as I approach.

“I’ll be back later on, David and we can finish making the arrangements…”

I watch as the door swings shut behind her and wonder what kind of arrangements Jane Bates, the duty solicitor for Guildford Police Station could be making with DI David Snow.

“Hello, David. You’re looking much better than I thought you would. They must be taking good care of you in here.”

“Hi Jaye, they have worked wonders, but it’s time I got out of here…”

“That sounds as though you have a plan of some sort. Care to let me in on it?” Was I mistaken, or did I see a flicker of uncertainty cross his face? He would have to talk to me, for I was going nowhere until I knew what he was up to.

“Well…” he paused, checking my face for clues as to the purpose of my visit. “I think I know why you’re here… but I don’t think I will be going back to work just yet… maybe never…”

My heart sank. This was the worst thing he could have said to me, but I had been expecting something of the sort. He must have been dreading telling me, and my face probably reflected my disappointment.

“I am sorry to have to say it… I hope you’re not too unhappy. I never thought I would leave the Force, it has been my life for so long, but I’m not getting any younger…”

“Is there a medical reason for this decision?” I was clutching at straws, and he probably knew it.

He laughed… and the nervousness on his face eased immediately. “No… I have been pronounced fit and good to go. I desperately need a break though, before I begin to think of what happens next. If you have come to put me back to work, I’m afraid you’ll have a bit of a wait.”

He stood up and walked to the window. I had forgotten how pleasant it was to watch him move. No lasting damage to his body that I could see either, he moved like he always did, like an athlete. The thought of never seeing him again was beginning to upset me, so I tried one more question. “You can’t fool me, David. You can’t just stop being a detective, and a good one at that.” Changing the subject, I asked, “Any news from Kate Devereau lately?”

He frowned, and I thought I had possibly touched a nerve.

“She sends postcards sometimes, seems her life really has changed for the better…”

I sensed a reluctance to talk about Kate, so stood up to leave. I knew I wouldn’t get the answers I hoped for today, but I had the feeling I wouldn’t be losing him after all. But before I left, I had one last question. “You will let me know what you decide, won’t you?”

He walked up to me and gently took my hands in his. This close to him I could smell the soap he used laced with his testosterone. My knees reacted instantly, a fluttery weakness that always occurred near my snowman. Kate thinks she invented that nickname for him, but it was me all along.

“I will be in touch, Jaye. Don’t you ever worry about that…”

***

My name is Jaye Marie, the ‘oily rag’ of the partnership http://jenanita01.com and usually, I prefer to stay in the background.

Since we decided to publish our books ourselves, most of my other interests have had to take a back seat, and as I am not half as clever as I want to be, they may well have to leave the country for a while. Well, some of them can but not all. I am an avid Bonsai fan and have a collection that demands my attention in the growing season, or they will die. (It is a bit like having children)

I love books and have read my way through stacks of them, so when my sister needed someone to edit and type up her manuscripts, I was happy to help. Somewhere along the way, I discovered my vocation and my love-hate relationship with the world of computers. But I did learn how to edit and proofread, taking over the job of getting Anita’s books ready for publication. I even had some wonderful compliments from one of the best literary agents in London for my editing of Anita’s first book, Bad Moon, and for the last twenty years since my retirement, that‘s what my life has been like.

Then everyone started talking about ‘Indie’ or self-publishing. I already knew how hard it was to be published in the traditional way, so became very excited at the prospect of being able to do it ourselves. I started our own website and found that I enjoyed talking to people from all over the world and posting our thoughts online. Then I concentrated on publishing Anita’s books. It wasn’t quite as easy as they made it sound, but with my usual stubbornness, I kept at it, learning more and more as I went along.

Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about a story that had been nibbling away in the corner of my mind for months, and before too long, it demanded to be written and then there were two writers in the family!

Links

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/anitajaydawes

Amazon Author Page: Author.to/JayeLink

Website: http://jenanita01.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaydawes2/media
Facebook: http://facebook.com/anita.dawes.37
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8638857.Jaye_Marie
UK Amazon Link : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Life-Jaye-Marie/dp/1326866753
US Amazon Link https://www.amazon.com/Broken-Life-Jaye-Marie/dp/1326866753

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