Dirt

Dirt

by Thadd Presley

Hubert jumped his Huffy and felt invincible. The dirt ramp ruled. Everything was perfect. The street bully was grounded and chicken casserole would be for dinner. The next jump would break his personal record.
The record was five feet, nine inches and marked with a pink chalk line. Hubert was sure he would hit six feet, easily.
Legs pumping harder this time; up, down, like pistons. His eyes on the ramp. Blast off, in three, two…
Then, from the bushes came something fast: “Arrrhhhgg!”
He jerked away from the sound. The handle bars twisted, the bike flipped. Hubert tasted dirt, face first.
“Got you!” The boy was bent double laughing so hard. “Oh, I got you.”
From the ground, Hubert yelled: “Thought you were grounded!”

I Can’t Remember

I Can’t Remember

by Thadd Presley

Frantic urgency pushed his failing memory into action. Who was the young woman in the faded photograph? The pictures were placed strategically to help him remember things and people from his past. Why couldn’t he remember this woman? She was in many of the pictures.
For a long moment, he stared at the small, pale face inside the brunette bob. She wore a cloche hat and a fluffy shawl. “Who are you?” he wondered aloud. Then louder: “Am I supposed to know you?”
“Dad?”
“Albert! Be a good boy. Tell me who she is and I promise not to forget this time.”
“That’s your wife, dad. My mom.” He waited and watched, hoping to see a glimmer of recognition in his father’s face. “You remembered her yesterday. You told me she used to…”
The old man raised his hand and waved his son quiet. “I can’t remember.”
Albert took his dad’s hand. “I know.”

An Arm and a Leg

An Arm and a Leg

by Thadd Presley

The teenager’s scream momentarily filled the bedroom like an expanding marshmallow. Everyone watching felt the electric shock of pain as the bone snapped. Then, with a plop, the finger fell to the hardwood floor.
And just like that, for those who paid to watch a live amputation, the show was over. But, the act was captured on four devices and uploaded for an online audience who would pay to watch it again and again if they so desired.


“How many online now?” Adam asked, holding a fluffy, red-stained towel around his throbbing hand.
“Thirteen thousand watched it live.” Mary chimed. “And it’s going up.”
“Donations? I want to know how much money. I can’t see the screen.”
“O.K. O.K.” She said quietly. “It’s over eighty thousand. Eighty-one, now. No, eighty-two…”
“Yes!” He had done it. Cut his own finger off for money and it was worth it. “That pays off my student loans and mom’s house with some left over.”
“A bunch left over it looks like to me,” Mary commented as she watched the donations cross the hundred thousand mark.


Adam felt a wave of dizziness passed through him as he laid back in the chair. “You think I’ll need to put t in ice for the hospital?”
“Yeah, for sure.”
“O.K. Let’s just go. Maybe they can sew it back on if we get there in time.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 3)

They talked while they signed the last documents, which explained that the rent would be deferred for the months he worked, but there would be rules he had to abide by while in the apartment. No drinking or parties and no one could live with him. No one can be on the fourth floor, except Adam of course. And, by signing and shaking her thin hand, he became the sole tenant of the fourth floor. He felt like a prince that day. He had an entire floor to himself. Sure the place was a mess, but so were most the castles in Europe.

He thought of all this while he ate in silence. With no television or radio, the feeling of loneliness had a tendency grew out of hand, and he found himself thinking of Caroline. He’d never felt so alone in his life, not even when his mother died. Since after high school, he always lived on his own and loved the solitude he had when he wanted or needed it. But since Caroline’s overdose, he’d found a real need for companionship and love. He hated himself for getting her hooked on pain killers and showing her how to shoot up. Her death was his fault; there was no doubt of that. It was as if he killed her the day he met her.

An hour later, having eaten what he could of the cold pasta, he was laying on the old couch, which looked as if it had been here through the thirty years of abandonment, half asleep thinking of Caroline and what his life would be like if she hadn’t died, whether or not he would have gone to rehab. It was her death that brought the police and the reality of drug use to his life. The more he thought about Caroline and what he did to her, the more he thought about whether death did for him. She never got a second chance like he did; she never got to learn a lesson. All she got was death, and he gave it to her in a needle.

He dozed and dozed…then he dreamed.

Jack.

A high pitched, hollow voice filled the room. It seemed to shake his entire being. He opened his eyes, completely sitting up, and felt for his phone. He’d set it on vibrate days ago and hadn’t changed it. He looked around the room, knowing he’d heard something.

No… someone, he told himself. It was a voice. He listened harder, trying to hear his neighbors below. He listened for footsteps in the hallway. Maybe it was someone in the stairwell and their voice had traveled. His eyes stopped on the locked door. He looked away, but somehow he could keep them from going back. The door was actually pulling his eyes to it. He felt panic beginning to set up in his muscles and chest. It would become hard to breathe, but he had to stay calm.

“Dude, calm down,” he said aloud. “It was only a dream.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 2)

The apartment he picked out on the fourth floor had a small table in the main living room, where he sat with his macaroni. On his left was a doorway to the only bedroom, which was really small, and beside that, a door opened onto the bathroom. There was a fourth room, but it was locked and so far had been inaccessible. He had keys to all the rooms on the fourth floor since part of his rent was going to be repair work, but none of the keys opened this door. The lock was older, probably left over from a century before, and because it was his first day in the apartment, he didn’t want to be a pain to the landlady, especially if it meant she would have to drive all the way back into the city and open it herself. She would be back in a few days to inspect the work he’ d be doing and make sure he was as good a carpenter as Adam said. He could wait and ask her about the room then.

For a moment, with food paused in mid flight to his mouth, he thought about when he’d met her. She was younger than he’d imagined when Adam told him about her, and she was beautiful. She asked him questions about his past and where he used to work. She reminded him that the floor had not been used for thirty years, so he would have to wear a mask when he worked.

“Who knows what all is considered toxic these days. The paint is lead based, I know that for sure; the tile has asbestos in it, as does the insulation and ceiling tiles, and probably there would be more than that. Do you understand that you have to wear the mask? It is very important.”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Legally, no one can live on the fourth floor yet, but since Adam has been so good to us in the past, I’ve decided to make an exception. What we need to do is get your room up to code and as close to livable as fast as we can, both for your health and in case of any problems we might have with the inspectors.”

“I understand. I’ll start in the apartment and work my way into other areas.”

Then came the question he knew was loaded. This was where she would decide everything. “So how long do you think it will take to do the entire job. I mean, the floors, the doors, the trim and painting, we have to replace the ceiling and there will be more, lots more, when we get into it deeper?”

She smiled when he said, “four months should get us to a good point. After that we will know exactly where we stand.”

“I’ll know where we stand in one week, Mr. Solsbury. I want to start renting that floor as soon as possible.”

“Yes, ma’am. Four months is just my guess right now.”

Jack’s Apartment (part 1)

Jack’s first day in the apartment was a new lease on life. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do first. But it was an answer to his prayers, and, yes, Jack was now a praying man. God wasn’t always on constant call when it came to Jack’s old life. However, since he began his life after drugs, he was in constant communication with the man upstairs. But, this was more than Jack could have asked for. He never knew gigs like this existed. The idea of “cup runneth over” truly had a meaning now, and Jack felt like a human being for the first time in years. But, Jack was logical. He knew that it wasn’t all God. Jack owed a special thanks to Adam, the man he met while in the county rehab.

Adam was a preacher of sorts, who spent time with addicts and gave them hope. But Adam was much more than a counselor to Jack. Adam was a guiding light and a mentor. He helped Jack and gave him a chance to work at the church and prove himself as a carpenter, which had been instrumental in getting the job at the apartment complex.

He thanked Adam as he sat alone for the first time in a long time, with his dinner on his lap, and thanked God for his apartment, which was on the fourth floor of the Wartzburg Building. It was only a small, cheap, four-room cracker box, but he lifted his head toward the roof, as if he could see into heaven, and asked God to come into his home. It was a quick prayer, just something to bless his food and to invite good spirits to his new place. But he knew it was important, because he didn’t want to forget about all the good things that had been happening to him lately, nor did he want to forget what drugs had done to him.

Before he left the rehab center, he thought that he’d be happy out in the real world, away from the clinic and all the church meetings, away from all the drug addicts and the whiners. But, he wasn’t. Over time, he’d come to like working for the church and he liked the few friends he’d made while living at the halfway house. He liked that his life was on a new path, but he was more afraid everyday. Afraid that he’ d mess everything up now that temptation was at every turn.

What he felt then was suffocation. Anytime he thought about running into old friends or what he was going to do if he started wanting a hit, a panic quickly closed in on him and crushed his goodness. His ideas of a good life and of the spirit who he’d prayed for began to wilt as if something didn’t want him to have a good, new life.

He just felt so alone.

Corporate Friends

Corporate Friends is the newest novella by Thadd Presley. Available for Kindle.

This is not a story for the young readers. It details the great evil people will commit for their love of money.This is a tale of a friend stab another in the back.  Rampant Sexual perversion, pure evil, gruesome death, bald hatred, treachery, and greed is what “Corporate Friends” explores.

https://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Friends-Thadd-Presley-ebook/dp/B07FXSXR88
Sexual perversion, torture, death, kidnapping, and the abuse of friendship is explored in this short novella. It is not intended for children.

When you purchase a copy of “Corporate Friends” you are supporting my dreams and the continuation of free short stories on Fiction Weekly. Thank you for your visit and for reading. Even if you don’t buy the book, I truly appreciate you for being here.

Still Alive

My dad told my mother that it was not the right time in his life; that everything was happening too fast and he wanted to wait a few more years. So, when she started crying, he knew he had her convinced. They went together.

The small office was in a house on South Laughter Street, right downtown next to the municipal swimming pool.

Outside, a few feet from the road, was a white sign with red and blue letters, sticking out of the lawn like a cheap campaign slogan. Written in Old English font, fading in the sun, the first line was written in red:

“Cash only!” —

The second in blue:

“Your privacy is our priority.”
S. Laughter Street Clinic.”

Mother cried when she read it.

Inside a man took them into a surgical theatre and asked my mother to relax and lay on the table.  My father didn’t want to stay in the room, but the doctor ordered him to stay with her and hold her hand.

“Murder is not easy, Mr. Frente.” He put on plastic gloves. “Your wife will need you to support her and take some of the blame once she realizes what she’s done. To stand at the morning mirror tomorrow, alone and before God, will not be like it was this morning. I hope you understand that.”

My mother started crying again.

“Why do you cry?” The doctor asked perplexed.

She said nothing, sobbing.

“Why is she crying?” He asked my father.

My father looked at my mother. “She doesn’t want to be a murderess.”

“Do you blame her?”

“No, but we can’t have a child now. We’re not ready. There’s too much at stake. My job, the money. There’s just to much to do before…”

The doctor nodded his head and went to his cabinet where he brought back a bible. Inside he had a page marked. “will you please read from the highlighted area before we begin?”

Pushing the bible away from him, he yelled. “What’s this?”

“Just read the last rights. At least you can do that much.”

“No. I will not. Now, you have the money. So, do your job, will you?”

“I’m afraid you don’t understand. sir. I’m not going to do it. I’m going to explain the instruments to you and you are going to do it. Anyone can do it once they are shown how.”

“What?” He couldn’t stand it anymore. “I paid you to do it. What do you think? I’m no doctor.”

“You don’t need a doctor. Doctors are for healing people. You need a clean room, clean instruments, and secret place to commit murder, which I have provided for you. You need me to stay quiet once you are finished killing this child and, since you have paid me very well to do so, I will. But I am not a murderer. No amount of money could persuade me to kill an innocent child.”

My mother was off the table and through the door before my father could reply. She did not return to the car, but instead called a taxi and only left the S. Laughter Street Clinic when it arrived.

She divorced my father and has never seen him again.

The first entry in my journal is this: my mother was convinced to have an abortion, but in the end it didn’t matter. I was still born.

You’d Better Learn

You’d Better Learn

Thadd Presley

“This isn’t how it has to be,” John told the big man holding the bolt cutters.

“I’m tryin’ my best t’ hold everythin’ together, but…” He looked toward his wife. “Just look!!” Sobbing, he slowly lifted his free, undamaged hand and pointed. “Look what I come home to.”

Blood was dripping from his hand and running in streams down his forearm. When he focused on the blood drizzling from his elbow, he felt waves of dizziness flow from his head to his mid-section. “She’s here sucking up the profits while I’m out working.”

“So, that’s where your money’s goin’. Big Daddy wanted me to find out what’s going on with you.”

The giant man, held the mouth of the bolt cutters out waiting for another finger — John’s ring finger was next in line — and focused his attention on the woman huddled in the corner of a dirty sofa crying. “That true? You stealin’ Big Daddy’s dope?” He waited for a response; patience wasn’t his way. “Hey, you hear me? Look at me! You smokin’ up your man’s money and making him late on his payments?” His voice demanded an answer.

She started to say something, but her voice failed.

“Tell me somethin’, John, seriously?” the the big man asked, “what should I do? You want me to take another of your fingers or do I take one of hers? Big Daddy wants two fingers. Today!”

“Just tell him…” Large tears fell from John’s eyes. “I man, ask him to give me more time. I’ll have his money. Just…”

“I’m telling you, your time’s up. He’s using you to send a message to everyone else. After this he’s finished with you.”

These words meant more to John than losing his fingers. He couldn’t survive if he didn’t work for Big Daddy. “Come on, man. Just take the other finger, but don’t cut me off.”

When the executioner cut the ring finger from the hand, the bone popped loudly as it broke. The little finger didn’t do that. It just kind of crushed up and squished off. It hurt, but not like the ring finger. When John screamed, his wife joined him with a short yelp.

Lying in a pool of blood were John’s two fingers. As blood dripped on them, adding to the already significant pool, the ring finger twitched and almost rolled over. John thought it was trying to crawl away, then he realized his wedding ring was still on the finger.

Why hadn’t he thought of that?

“O.K. My job’s done here, John. I didn’t enjoy it, you know that.” He let out a long breath. “I’ve always liked you, we go back, so be sure to have the money by Friday. I don’t want to have to…” He looked around the room, which silently assured him he would be back on Friday. There was no way would he have the money.

“What? What’s on Friday?”

“I got to get that money, brother. Seriously.”

John looked up from his dismembered fingers and spoke, his voice barely a squeak. “You mean, I still have to pay? Even after…”

The big man shook his head. “Don’t tell me you don’t know why I came here today. After all this, you going to sit there bleeding and tell me you don’t owe Big Daddy? Look here, this is just a warning for what’s coming next. Don’t you think it might be in your best interest to pay him?”

“But my fingers? God!”

“I asked you. I gave you a choice. You’ve always had a choice.”

“But, I really have to pay Big Daddy all the money?”

“If you don’t, I’ll have to shoot you. Or maybe you’d rather it be your wife?” He looked over at her. “She’s the problem anyway, right?”

John stared at the floor, not wanting to look at his fingers, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of them. Is this really happening? He wondered if there was a chance of him waking up and everything being alright..

“Am I? Is… this really happening?”

The big man slapped John in the face, not hard, but hard enough to lay him back in the recliner. “Yes, you are and yes this is. Now, stay with me.”

John didn’t know what the man had said, but he answered, “Yeah, right.” A shutter went through his body. “You’re right. Yeah…”

“You’ve got to get him to a hospital.” He told the wife. He eyes were half closed, but she seemed concerned.

“What do I say to them?” She whispered.

“Tell them you got your husband’s fingers got cut off by a big man with bolt cutters because he owed for drugs.”

“Really,” John asked. The world was growing black around the edges. “You think they can help?”

“Woman!” The the executioner said. “You got to get your man to the hospital, now.”

She looked up at him, eyes yellow and dull. “But really? What do I really tell them?”

“Tell them you had to bring him to the hospital because if you didn’t a really big, black man said he was going to kill you.”

Her eyes blinked slowly, showing a want to live. She didn’t have a good life, but it was life. “Really?” She asked.

“Yeah, really.” He pulled his pistol from under his arm. “I’ll kill you if you don’t.”

Slowly, she stood up and started toward her husband. He wasn’t looking around anymore. His head was leaned back, eyes glaring at the ceiling. “I think he died.” A high pitched squeal escaped her throat and then she started crying. “Do…do you think he’s dead?”

“He will be very soon.”

Grief seized her for a moment, but then the big man saw relief flood her face. “I’m going to miss him so much,” she said beginning to cry louder. “He was my high school crush. We got married right after graduation.”

The moment was lost when the executioner spoke. “Big Daddy wants his money, don’t forget why this happened. He doesn’t care who pays it, as long as it’s paid. Don’t let this man’s life be a sacrifice for nothing. I’m coming back on Friday.” He started to get up, but he pulled back when she started to reach out to him. “Don’t touch me. Get back.”

“What! Wait! I can’t get that much —”

“You’ve almost a week.” He stood up. “You can get some of it. Just show some effort.”

“I’ll don’t know how to get twenty thousand—”

“You’d better learn.”

She sat back on the couch after the big man walked out of the small apartmen and silence filled the room.

The End

 

Reverse Image (part 3)

Reverse Image
part 3
by Thadd Presley

What Delilah saw at that moment frightened her. The top half of her mother’s face changed. First, her pupils dilated, but not together. Each one on its own grew to the maximum size and then shrunk back down again. Her nose flared much like a horse’s would in the spring. Delilah stood and stepped away from the table. Her mother had become someone else.

She didn’t know why this was happening, but she thought it might be a stroke. Her mother was still young. Thirty-eight was young for anyone to die.

Clare saw a color of red that she never knew existed. It filled her vision and then doubled over on itself. She saw the walls of her world deepen and drown in the color. It was the color of murder, of hatred and sex and violence. God didn’t create this color to be seen and talked about. I was the last color anyone was ever to see. She knew deep in her heart that she was dying and it was a good thing.

“Mom. God.” Delilah screamed and ran to the breakfast counter where her cell phone laid. “911,” she screamed. “911.”
A woman had answered the emergency line before Clare knew what to say. “What’s your emergency?”

“My mom. My..she’s having a heart attack.”

“OK. Calm down. What’s your address.”

Delilah took a deep breath and answered all the questions.

Finally, there were sirens in the air.

The siren grew louder and closer. Too close for them to be for anyone but herself.

Clare opened her eyes. Red still covered everything and she still certain she would die. No one saw that and lived, she kept telling herself. No one could see that and live.

“Mom. Mom.”

The voice of her daughter was there in the red somewhere and that was somehow the worst part of it all. Why did she have to be involved?

The sirens stopped and doors slammed. The red was growing. It was outside now. Even the sky would be covered in red.
“Ma’am? Can you hear me?”

No, Clare thought. If I hear you then the red will get you.

“Look at her eyes, Cap. What do you think happened?”

“Looks to be a serious case of subconjunctival hemorrhage.”

Delilah screamed. The next thing she saw was the kitchen floor.

“She’s coming around, Cap. You alright sweetheart?”

“My mom. She had a hemorrhage. Her brain.”

The paramedic sat down beside her and smiled. “Let’s sit up.” He helped her. “There now. Your mom is fine. It was scary for her and for you, but that’s all. Nothing serious.”

“What happened?”

“Well, we don’t know why but she became extremely stressed and it busted a blood vessel in her eye. Both of them actually. She’s going to the hospital.”

“She’s OK?”

“Yes. Very OK.”

“I want to go with her.”

“That’s fine. You want to go ahead and stand up?”

Together, they managed to walk to the ambulance.

A moment of panic shot through Delilah’s chest when she saw her mother’s eyes. They were both filled with blood. Her mother looked like a zombie. Quickly, she snapped a picture and smiled.

“I got your good side that time.”

“You’re not funny. I don’t know how you can laugh at me. After what you’ve done. Being pregnant is hard enough on a family, but…”

“Pregnant? Mom!” For a moment, Delilah didn’t think she heard her right. “Mom, I’m not pregnant. Who told you that?”
“Don’t lie to me. You already…”

“I’m not pregnant. You must have hit your head or something when you fell.” She looked at the paramedic who wishing he was invisible. “I’m not, I swear.”

Clare was visibly upset.

“We can settle this once we get to the hospital,” he told them. “There is a planned parenthood clinic there that offers free pregnancy tests. You can go from there. How’s that?”

“O.K.” Delilah quickly assented.

Clare didn’t say anything but nodded her head.

“Let’s get this rig on the road, Cap!”

Slowly, the ambulance made it’s way onto the street and ten minutes later they pulled in at Methodist Medical Center.
An hour later, mother and daughter sat together in the E.R. A negative pregnancy test sat in a paper cup, wrapped in a paper towel.

“But, I don’t understand why you thought I was pregnant in the first place?”

“You said you found out something this morning and I thought you meant…”

“Mom, jeez. I learned something from Youtube that’s all. Really, I should have realized it a long time ago.” She smiled. Her mother’s blood red eyes looked back at her. “Oh, I’m sorry. I love you, mom. Thank you for worrying about me.”

“Well, child, that my job. It’s not this hard most of the time. What can I say? You’re a good kid.”

Ryan was escorted into the room by a nurse who was telling him that everything was going to be fine. “Clare is in no danger,” she said. “She just had a scare and fainted.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s been one heck of a morning for all of us.”