Fiction that explores the monsters and strangers among us.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Dead Werewolf’s Rant


I’m dead, not undead, not a zombie, not a vampire. I’m dead, plain old dead-as-a-doornail dead. Let me explain while my body transforms from the wolf state back into something resembling a dead human.

I was minding my own business in the front yard howling at the full moon the way I did every month. I heard a loud pop and felt a sharp pain in my chest. Since werewolves rarely have a heart attack, I figured right away it was a silver bullet. Sure enough, that weird kid down the street came charging over to me with guns blazing. Where does a nineteen-year-old semi-hermit accumulate enough silver for a fistful of automatic weapons clips?

I bled out long before the police arrived. And that silver dissolved my heart along with half my chest cavity by the time the flashing ambulance lights spun down my street.

No, I’m not going to be revived. Dead werewolves return to their human state for the funeral. The end. All she wrote. But before I leave this life, I want to warn you mothers out there to beware of your sons.

You  know the boys I’m talking about. They’re between about fifteen and thirty. They’re peculiar. I know you’re in denial. I can hear you right now saying, “There’s nothing wrong with my Harry. He just hasn’t found himself yet.”

You, lady, are in denial about your son. If he is on medication, if his brain doesn’t work the same way as most people’s brains, if he is the loner type, if he is this stranger in your home, please, for all our sakes, get the guns out of the house.

Yes, your husband has the right to bear arms. And he has a right to defend his home. But he also has the right to use a little commonsense. If the kid just ain’t right, get the guns out of the house. Stash them at Aunt Edna’s home or in a storage locker away from the kid.

Okay, I know you’re saying your child is a sweet boy, really, and would never harm anyone. And you’re about to tell me that young people with his particular condition are never violent. But, mom, that’s exactly what those other moms said in Colorado and Connecticut and Arizona and wherever else some sweet, innocent, but slightly deranged young man opened fire on a crowd of equally young, innocent and normally arranged people.

And it’s not just people. I was a werewolf for crying out in the light of the moon. Give me a break. Who gives a hoot about werewolves? It’s not like we hurt anyone, right? We just howl once a month. And okay, maybe we’re a little aggressive at the meat counter and always order our hamburgers extra raw, but is that any reason to shoot a werewolf?

Well, it’s too late to give me a break, but give the kindergarten children in your neighborhood a break by getting those guns out of the house. And the silver. Do you know where your silver is at this moment? Jerrold Slimpnickel’s mother thought her silver was in the dining room in that drawer in the middle of her china cabinet. Turns out her silver was melted down six months ago in the basement and made into silver bullets for killing werewolves like the late me.

Your boy will thank you later when his only friend, Norman Boingbanger, gets arrested on the way to your local elementary school with a boatload of his dad’s automatic rifles. So yeah, hide the silver and get those guns out of the house.

THE END 

Quotable
"She placed her left hand on my right cheek, the one on my face."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
    

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Networking with Hobgoblins


When Merrimat’s pickup shook from bumper to bumper, he pulled over and spotted six little people, each about two-feet tall, crawling out from under his truck. The laughing little critters sprinted into the cornfield adjacent to the road.

While charging after the diminutive culprits, Merrimat clicked on his cell phone and attempted to engage its onboard video camera. Despite hitting the right button, the darn thing wouldn’t come up. On the fourth try, he spotted the cornstalks dashing by on his screen, but it was vertical format. He turned his smart phone sideways and waited for his screen to adjust.

And waited.

He kept running while waiting.

He arrived at a place in the cornfield that reminded him a those corn mazes farmers create to earn extra money at Halloween. His video camera adjusted to the horizontal so he was able to shoot excellent cell phone quality video of the crop circle and several pathways leading out of the maze or maize depending on your preference.

Merrimat heard laughter to his left and followed the path in that direction. He came to a junction, turned left on nothing more than a gut feeling. Fifty yards later he arrived at a smaller crop circle with a half dozen of the ugly little scamps milling about. They brewed coffee over a camp fire.

“Who are you people?” Mirrimat asked.

“Don’t insult us, please, human,” declared one of the tiny folk.

“Sorry. What are you?” Mirrimat asked.

“Much better. We’re hobgoblins. What did you think we were? Trolls?” The little fellow appeared to be the leader because he talked while the others kept their own counsel and he was a bit huskier than the others.

Merrimat shrugged. “I simply didn’t know. That’s why I asked. Have you always been in this neighborhood?”

“Our kind always live right in the same neighborhoods as you humans.” the hobgoblin leader passed coffee to Merrimat in an old fashioned six ounce cup of dainty china. 

“Why did you shake my car?” Mirrimat sipped the coffee. It was dark roast with a hint of exotic spices and campfire charcoal.

“We wanted to get your attention. We need to speak with you,” said the lead hobgoblin.

“What about?” Mirrimat asked.

“Are you prepared for retirement? What would happen to your family if you should pass away? Would they have the financial security they need? Let’s talk about your financial future.”

Mirrimat ran screaming from the field not bothering to follow the path laid down by the hobgoblins. On the way he kept thinking about how he must warn the others. He hoped the cellphone video turned out because he doubted anyone would believe his story.

He was wrong, of course. Turned out his friends all knew about financial planners.

THE END 

Quotable
"The aroma of dead flesh became worse as I approached Penny."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
    

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wooden You Just Know


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.

Part 7 of Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler

Police Chief Martin emptied his service revolver into the chest of the screaming eagle Dorothy Minglebocker before she could ravage Marylou Brombach.

Dorothy fell at Marylou’s feet.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“Jude Nerdworthy, haven’t you ever heard of lignum vitae bullets?” replied Chief Martin.

“Why would you have your pistol loaded with lignum vitae bullets?” I asked.

“You kids think you’re the first ones to dispatch vampires in Warrenville, Illinois?”

The adults announced they were headed home after admonishing us to be in before curfew. We hiked the half mile up Route 59 to the Burger King at the Batavia Road intersection. Betsey Olson, George Howbert, Iorg Baring and Gloria Beeswax chomped fries and burgers in the last booth by the window. Marylou, Albert Bringlebaum, Brighton Adams and I took the booth next to them. Marylou and I went to the counter to order food for our group. I noticed that Marylou favored her right leg, the one with the fang punctures at her panty line.

It was an easy order to place since we all wanted a Whopper meal. Marylou, who liked to have it her way, asked, “May I have my burger bloody and raw?”

THE END

Quotable
"A hint of rotten meat snuggled up my nose."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
    

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oh, No, the Cost of Vampirism


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.

Part 6 of Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler

“You’re wrong, Ferdy.” Marylou said. Well, she almost got those words out of her mouth before Brighton Adams, Albert Bringlebaum, Mrs. Brombach, Albert’s dad and I, Jude Nerdworthy, released a volley of wooden missiles from our hiding places in the trees around the Prairie Path. Most of our shafts perforated Ferdinand’s heart.

I finished our little project by chopping off Ferdinand’s head with an old machete my dad keeps in the garage for cutting the really high weeds. Dad rates pesticides up there with nerve gas probably because he believes it really is just watered down nerve gas. Instead of harsh chemicals, he has me cut, chop, or hack whatever grows.

“I wish you people hadn’t done that,” said Ferdinand’s dismembered head. How he got the words out without lungs, I’ll never know.

“You’re alive?” Marylou asked.

“I’ve been undead for a very long time, my dear, but thanks to you all, I’m about to enter the land of the actually dead as a doornail, and I’m not coming back ever again. Just beware of my undead sister. She will be pissed if she sees that I’ve lost my head.” Ferdinand's eyeballs rolled back into their sockets. His skin whitened. He lost his twinkle.

We gathered into a circle of dancing and cheering which lasted about thirty seconds when we heard a familiar voice say, “What’s going on here?”

Click here to continue...

Quotable
"Three days later, I saw my first dead person who still had his skin on."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
    

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Change of Scenery and Tactics


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.

Part 5 of Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler

Brighton Adams strolled into the garage as Marylou Brombach, Albert Bringlebaum and I discussed Albert’s plan to destroy the twinkle vampire Ferdinand Minglebocker without revealing so much as a hint to you readers.

“Why don’t you just shoot him with an arrow?” Brighton asked.

“Arghh!” exclaimed Albert whose brilliant plan faded to fairy dust as we all realized the best way to deliver a wooden stake to a vampire’s heart would be an arrow.

“Ferdy is really quick,” I said.

“But, Jude, what if we all fired our arrows at once?” Marylou suggested.

That’s when Albert gathered us into another huddle so you readers couldn't hear his second big idea. This time even Brighton Adams thought it clever. But first, we had to practice archery. If you think about it, a heart is a terrible thing to waste mainly because it’s so tiny compared to the rest of a person’s middle.

We practiced all day. That evening, Marylou invited Ferdinand Minglebocker to meet her on the Prairie Path east of Route 59. The Prairie Path is a long hiking trail created out of abandoned railroad right of ways weaving around the Chicago area. With the railroad tracks gone, you can walk for miles without tripping. But watch out for the horse manure and manic-depressive bicyclists.

At the precise moment they were to meet on the Prairie Path that evening, eight-thirty to be exact, Ferdinand Minglebocker was a no show.

At eight-forty, Marylou said, “Oh, there you are.”

“What’s with the bow and arrow?” Ferdinand asked.

“For you, dear cousin.” Marylou released her shaft.

Ferdinand caught the arrow with his left hand. He smiled at Marylou. “You’ll pay for this, my dear.”

Click here to continue...

Quotable
"Sometimes they bite people they ought not to chew on when they have their little spats."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
    

Friday, April 19, 2013

Big Huddle in Warrenville


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.

Part 4 of Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler

Marylou and I followed Albert Bringlebaum into his garage. A dozen cardboard boxes covered the back wall.

“These should do, Jude,” said Albert.

“Bombs might not work,” I said.

“Why not?” asked Albert.

Marylou grabbed an old snow shovel with a wooden handle. “You kill vampires by pounding a wooden stake through their heart. And regular drakuls will crumble to dust if you expose them to sunshine. Twinklers are day walkers and the sunshine just makes them sparkle. It’s quite romantic, you know.”

“We could try sneaking up on Ferdinand Minglebocker while he sleeps in his coffin,” I suggested.

“Twinklers don’t sleep in coffins,” Marylou said.

“Oh,” I replied.

That’s when Albert Bringlebaum came up his grand scheme. Just like in the movies, we huddled our little heads together, well, Albert’s head is huge, but that’s beside the point, anyway, with our heads together we whispered like they do in the movies and you readers couldn’t hear a word of the plan as the lights dimmed for a fade to black and a scene change…

Click here to continue...

Quotable
"She slid her palm down my back and grabbed me in a spot girls don’t often grab."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
    

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Back, Back, Way Back, Oh No! He Just Missed a Homerun!


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.

Part 3 of Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler

“Jude Nerdworthy, did you bite my daughter south of the border?” Mrs. Brombach glared at Marylou.

I pulled my hand back from Marylou's homerun place.

Marylou carried her coffee cup over to the pot for a refill. Her robe fell back into place. “No, mother, Cousin Ferdy did.”

“Is he one of those twinklers I’ve been hearing about?” Mrs Brombach asked.

“Yes, mother, but I didn’t realize he was a vampire. I thought he was just a romantic teenage dream who knew how to make a girl sparkle like never before.” Marylou dumped three tablespoons of sugar and a half-ton of milk into her coffee cup.

“You thought you were dreaming?” Mrs. Brombach asked.

“No, mother. I thought I was living in a dream. You know the kind where the clouds are violet and you’re wearing a pink neglige. And the guy looks like one of those models from the cover of a romance novel, all dark hair, strong features, big muscles and no shirt.” Marylou sipped her coffee concoction.

“I thought you loved Jude Nerdworthy here.” Mother reached in the cabinet and pulled out two cups.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Oh, I do, mother, but Jude doesn’t have any sparkle.”

“He doesn’t?”

“I don't? But you love me?” I pushed my jaw back up to the closed position.

Marylou patted me on the shoulder. “No, darling, you’re not a dream. You’re real. You don’t hang around violet clouds. Your feet are always flat on the ground. That’s why I love you so much.”

“You do?” I asked.

“Oh, we never talked about that, did we? Oops.” Marylou’s hand flew to her lips.

I took Marylou Brombach in my arms and kissed her.

“When you two are finished, we need to decide how to kill this vampire,” Mrs. Brombach said.

“You want us to kill Cousin Ferdy?” Marylou asked, which was a trick because her lips were still wrapped around mine.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Brombach.

“How?” I asked after disengaging from Marylou's lips.

“I’ll think of something.” Mrs. Brombach handed me a cup of black coffee. “In the meantime, Jude, round up that friend of yours who helps when you have to save Warrenville from a monster.”

“Which friend?” I asked.

“You know, the one with the bombs and high explosives,” said Mrs. Brombach. 

Click here to continue...

Quotable
"Our noses touched, mine slender and straight, hers turned up and perky."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marylou Brombach’s Red Blood Cell Count


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.

Part 2 of Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler

Mrs. Brombach rolled out from under the family’s Chevy pickup. “Marylou was feeling a bit peaked so she stayed home. You understand, don’t you Jude?”

“Of course, Mrs. Brombach. You didn’t happen to notice any puncture marks on Marylou’s neck, did you?” You have to ask the right question even if this one turned out to be wrong.

“I didn’t notice anything other than she didn’t feel well when her cousin Ferdy brought her home.” Mrs. Brombach rolled back under the truck.

I exited the garage into the Brombach backyard. At the kitchen door, I knocked. Marylou shuffled to the door and let me in. “Hello, Jude. I’m not feeling my best but you may as well come in.”

Marylou wore a shorty robe with lots of leg appeal sticking out the bottom. The top didn’t exactly wrap as tight as the blouses she wore to school, but I didn’t mind. I didn’t notice any bite marks. I pushed her shoulder length brunette hair back to check her neck, front and back.

“Jude, what are you doing?” Marylou asked.

“Checking for vampire bites from that Ferdinand Minglebocker.”

“Please don’t be jealous, Jude. Ferdy was just a little fling. I was enchanted by his sparkle. Or was I sparkled by his enchantment?”

“You mean it’s over now?”

“Yes, he was a brute.” Marylou poured a cup of coffee and added three tablespoons of sugar and about half a cup of milk. She used a very large mug. She grabbed a one-pound package of raw hamburger out of the fridge.

“If he didn’t bite your neck, why are you feeling so weak this morning?”

“Oh, Jude, I never said he didn’t bite me. He just didn’t bite me on the neck, silly.” Marylou pulled a kitchen chair up close to mine and sat down. Her robe rose up on her leg higher than maybe she would have wanted had she felt better. She tore the cellophane off the hamburger package. On the north end of her thighs, I spotted a thick coating of sparkles.

My hand flew to my mouth. “Oh, Marylou, you didn’t.”

“Didn’t what, Jude? Oh, you see the sparkles down south. No, I didn’t, but he was so aggressive. I wiggled as best as I could to avoid his fangs, but he got pretty darn close to a homerun, see?” Marylou opened her robe to expose the area that’s as far up her leg as possible to qualify as not quite a homerun but way past third base. I’d never viewed her legs that far north of her thigh before, except that time she wore the skimpy bikini on our date to the Michigan Dunes, which of course is another story.

Anyway, back to Marylou Brombach’s homerun spot, there next to the tiny red lace thingy that ran around her panty leg hole on the right side. In in the middle of a thick coating of rainbow sparkles, were two pinprick sized holes.

My finger was within an eighth of an inch of rubbing off the sparkles and feeling the pinprick holes when Mrs. Brombach walked in from the backyard.

Click here to continue...

Quotable
"I contemplated how my hand had been up inside Cynthia’s skull where her wet brains used to be."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler


Part 1: The Twinkler Invasion or Sucked in by the Sparkles

“Jude Nerdworthy, I don’t have to twinkle,” said Marylou Brombach. We sat in my mom's Malibu in Warrenville Grove Forest Preserve parking lot waiting for the submarines to race down the west branch of the DuPage River which runs through the little grove.

I moved in close for another kiss, but she pushed me back. “But Marylou, I’m on your side.”

“I know you are, Jude, but so many students at good old WWSH twinkle these days. What’s a girl to do?”

What could I say? The twinkling began when Marylou Brombach’s cousins, Dorothy and Ferdinand Minglebocker, moved to one of those new houses Harry Grickmacher built off Batavia Road just east of Frank’s Supermarket here in Warrenville.

Before Dorothy and Ferdinand moved to our Chicago suburb, love at WWSH was made of equal parts teen angst and horniness. Now, our young lovers are equal parts moon and spoon. The moon is, well, it’s the moon. With the stars and soft music, tenderness, and variations on the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet except in the backseat of mom’s Malibu. That’s the moon part. The spoon is that old-fashioned use of the word that nobody in Warrenville or nearby Wheaton, Winfield or West Chicago ever heard of. No one in Naperville ever heard of it either. No one alive that is. The living dead remember, but they remember everything.

Dorothy and Ferdinand were Twinklers, the kind of vampires that walk in the sunlight giving off tiny sparkles of radiant evil energy. Spooning is a word they know from the days of our ancient Victorian teenage ancestors. It refers to spending time curled up with your sweetheart on the davenport after you've sent your chaperone in search of more tea.

A “sweetheart” is not a box of chocolates, as you may have imagined. It’s a member of the opposite sex that you are courting. Okay, you may “court” a member of the same sex if you are so inclined, but back in ancient Victorian activities, you had to confine such “courtships” to a closet unless you were a student at Eton. I’m not sure why. I only know that it was in recent times that same-sex relationships came out of the closet.

Okay, back to courting. And here I’m referring specifically to opposite sex courting. And just so you’re clear, “courting” is not that trip to the county courthouse you take every couple of months to pay your traffic tickets. Courting is what you do with your sweetheart.

No, not that something you do with your sweetheart.

Courting is more like foreplay. Or pre-foreplay. It’s the balcony scene. The touching comes later. Okay, you get a little handholding and good night kissing, but that’s the limit to courtship until you pop the big one.

No, not that big one.

I’m talking about the old-fashioned use of “big one” that refers to asking your sweetheart to marry you. Come on, you do realize that the world spun slower on its axis in the nineteenth century, right? It was all the nuclear testing during the nineteen fifties that sped up the spinning of the globe and ultimately to a shorter distance from “Who are You?” to “Uhmm, do you have any smokes?”

Meanwhile back at the Twinkler Invasion. When Ferdinand Minglebocker put the moves on Marylou Brombach, I took it personally. I love Marylou and she loves me. So what was Ferdinand up to? Marylou wasn’t even a cheerleader.

Marylou explained it to me in a way I’m certain she thought would make everything obvious. “I’m sorry, Jude, but Ferdinand just makes me want to sparkle in a new way, not that you don’t generate a spark or two out of me, but when I'm with you, it's more of a glimmer of hope, I don’t actually see you flickering, but with Ferdinand there’s these little blue, green, maroon and fuchsia sparkly things that buzz about in the air and it just perks my lips and does that thing down there that, you know, a girl can’t talk about with boys, and anyway, he just makes me sigh and say yes, so I’m sure you understand.”

“I just don’t want you to turn into a sparkler, Marylou.” I gave her my best hug.

“Oh, Jude, I still care for you, but a girl needs a little extra glow in her life, if you know what I mean.”

“A little sparkle from a twinkling vampire? What about your red cell count?”

Click here to continue...

Quotable
"Higgins was tall and skinny with a face shaped like Bob’s hatchet."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
 

Monday, April 15, 2013

About Those Twinklers


Or Why Warrenville Girls Wear Pocket Protectors Lined with Pencils

Here in my town of Warrenville, Illinois, we have both kinds of vampires including the twinkle type and the blood-thirsty beasts. The twinkle vampires are the most annoying. They come out in the daytime and glimmer in public. Granted, you have to put up with the day-glow sparkles only on rainy days, but let’s face it, they still want your blood rain or shine.

Biff Nickerson generally minds his own business which is what he was doing in Mortimer's Pizza recently. Well, he was minding Cindy Glipmonger’s beeswax more than his own but he wasn’t hurting anyone unless you consider that hickey on Cindy’s neck an act of violence, which it was, but Cindy didn’t complain. She was busy, well you get the idea. They made sparks fly in the privacy of the backseat of Biff’s mom’s Malibu.

But I digress. Back to the main issue here. Biff and Cindy were sipping brewski’s at Mortimer’s when Ladimir Rubyat Mylinski sauntered in with Janice Newberry. Ladimr was a twinkler. Janice was a blood pod ripe for the harvest. She called it love. Ladimir called it “next.”

Mortimer’s is one of those dark suds and chow joints where you can neck in a back booth without too much notice. But when a twinkler comes in, the place lights up. Some people call it charisma, but it’s 500 watts of twinkle, plain and simple.

Wooden stakes work on both types of vampires as do crucifixes, holy water and other religious mementos. Don’t believe the propaganda that claims otherwise. But you have to have faith. Faith heals as the good book says and it repulses evil.

Don’t pay any attention to those romance novels and movies that claim twinklers are simply misunderstood creatures seeking love and sustenance. They may claim it’s not their fault that they have to drink blood to stay alive, and at heart, they're good living-dead people.

Don't buy their crap. All vampires are evil, blood-sucking agents of hell. The quicker you can send their demon spirits to Hades, the sooner your town will be free of their curse.

We like to use bow and arrows to kill vampires here in Warrenville. But we never go alone. It takes at least two archers, but for the best results, bring five. The problem with vampires is they are fast. They’ll catch the arrow you shoot at them and toss it back to you at light speed. Or they’ll simply vanish in some sort of teleportation magic they do. The trick for your archers is to use the first arrow as a decoy. While the target drakul snags that first shot in its bare hands, the rest of your archers launch their oak missiles. Hit the beast in the heart. Otherwise, you just piss it off.

The blood thirsty vampires are easier to deal with if you can find where they sleep during the day. While they’re unconscious, stake them or drag them out into the sunlight to disintegrate them.

The twinklers are tougher to dispatch because they are day walkers. They’re always awake. One trick is to befriend them. Twinklers like to have human friends around them because they never know when they’ll want a quick bite. Keep your arrows nearby. Also wear a pocket protector lined with well-sharpened pencils.

While Janice may have loved Ladimir, and despite her innocence, she was no fool. She kept well-sharpened pencils handy. The one she jammed into Ladimir's chest may not have killed the beast, but it convinced him that Warrenville's young ladies were not to be messed with.

Janice reported her experience with a twinkler to our local monster fighter.

As for Biff Nickerson and Cindy Glipmonger, they made it to the altar three months ahead of the stork. Biff's mom gave them the old Malibu as a wedding present. While little Biffy, Junior, has all the charisma of a newborn, he lacks that special sparkle to everyone's joy in Warrenville.

And of course, this reminds me very little of a story my friend Jude Nerdworthy once told me. He’s the monster fighter, you know. It all began… well, we’re out of space here so return tomorrow for the first installment of Jude Nerdworthy Monster Fighter in the Romance of the Twinkler.

THE END 

Quotable
"I wasn’t anxious to watch the cops dig up people bones anymore so I changed the subject."
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Never Having to Say “Ungh” Part 4


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.
 
Sweet Acid Kisses

“Yes, of course it’s safe. Untie her,” Mr. Booger ordered.

Tim leaned in close to undo the rope around Debra Dinglesnort’s forehead that kept her flat on the bench.

Debra Dinglesnort opened her beautiful blue eyes. She smiled. “Watch out for the… Oh, wasn’t I just in a car with Reggie? I think we were about to be crushed by one of those giant vegetable trucks.”

Tim’s hands shook because she was so beautiful and not because her breath was so disgusting. “I didn’t know they made trucks out of vegetables.”

“No, silly, I meant one of those trucks that carry veggies. Oh, my, I think I love you.” Debra Dinglesnort kissed Tim in front of Mr. Booger and maybe even God. (Tim wasn’t sure God hung out in the labs of mad scientists.)

Tim grinned despite his thinning teeth enamel thanks to Debra’s acid breath.

Tim concluded that Debra Dinglesnort was subject to the same instinct as baby ducks. You know how baby ducks will think the first creature they spot out of the egg is their mother? Well, Debra Dinglesnort assumed the first guy she saw after being reanimated was her lover.

Once Tim introduced Debra Dinglesnort to Scope, they got along great. She had this little ditty where she spun her head around 360 degrees as a result of her broken neck in the car accident, but hey, we can’t all be perfect.

The accident apparently knocked some sense into Debra Dinglesnort who is now a straight A student. So far, she and Tim are living happily ever after even if finals are next week and they’re not exactly Mr. Booger’s favorite students anymore. (Never trust a teacher who falls in love with a student or an author who keeps stuffing stuff between parenthesis.)

Tim’s only complaint about the whole ordeal involved Mr. Booger’s failed Flubber experiments and the way Debra Dinglesnort bounced off the walls whenever she and Tim made out.

And off the ceiling.

And off the floor.

And sometimes out the window if Tim forgets to close it. 

THE END 

Quotable
I could see a blackjack and handcuffs on his belt in the blank spot next to the bullets. 
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Never Having to Say “Ungh” Part 3


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.


The Lightning Bolt Dance

“Maybe you have some extra brains lying about, Mr. Booger?” Tim asked.

“What? Oh, never mind. On with the experiment.” Mr. Booger spoke into his laptop, “Experiment six hundred sixty six in which I attempt to reanimate human flesh. Subject is a sixteen-year-old female victim of an automobile accident who exhibited symptoms of advanced zombie-ism. I will now inject my secret reanimation serum into the dead flesh.”

Mister Booger prepared the injection.

“Umm, Mister Booger, sir,” Tim said, “that container is labeled ‘Flubber Juice.’”

“It’s an old container I repurposed for my reanimation experiments. Don’t worry.” Mr. Booger injected his secret formula into Debra Dinglesnort’s left thigh. (Tim suspected that he peeked up where he shouldn’t have.)

Mr. Booger cried, “Throw the switch.”

Tim threw the switch.

The lights went out.

“Crap, wrong switch,” Mr. Booger said. “Turn the lights back on.”

Tim turned the lights back on.

“Throw the other switch, the big one this time,” said Mr. Booger.

Tim threw the correct switch.

Lightning flashed inside the garage lab. Thunder bolts danced across Debra Dinglesnort’s chest from peak to peak. Her body flopped around on the workbench. Her eyes popped open. Her lips receded to expose her ample teeth. Her miniskirt flew up. (Not really. That was just Tim’s imagination in overdrive. Why don’t those miniskirts ever fly up in real life?)

Mister Booger turned off the switch. Debra Dinglesnort sighed and closed her eyes. Her mounds of joy rose and fell to indicate normal breathing. She appeared to be asleep.

“Untie her,” Mr Booger said.

“Are sure it’s safe?” Tim asked. 

To continue reading, please click here.

Quotable
Ever notice how the inside of a cop car looks like Flash Gordon’s space ship?
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Never Having to Say “Ungh” Part 2


To start at the beginning of this story, please click here.

Debra Says “Ungh”

Debra Dinglesnort’s butt (along with the rest of her dead body) would not have ended up in Mr. Booger’s garage laboratory all by itself under ordinary circumstances. Apparently road kill marinated in alien watermelon pod juice transforms the dead creature into a zombie. Why Debra Dinglsnort, the zombie, wandered into Mr. Booger’s garage lab was beyond Tim Legstrom, but there she was.

Tim, a mild mannered nerdling complete with half-inch glasses and a plastic pocket protector filled with a smart phone and three dried up old Bics, served as Mr. Booger’s lab assistant. He asked Debra why she visited the lab.

Debra replied, “Ungh! Ungh! Ungh!”

Tim wasn’t certain, but he thought “Ungh” roughly translated from zombisi meant “brains.”

“I can cure her and restore her to life,” Mr. Booger shouted.

“Gadzooks!” Tim shouted in reply mainly because he didn’t know what else to say, and it sounded scientific to him.

“Strap her down on the gurney,” ordered Mister Booger.

“We don’t have a gurney,” Tim replied.

“The bench, boy, the bench.” Mr. Booger’s index finger indicated an empty bench along the back wall of the garage.

Tim cleared test tubes and other lab stuff off Mr. Booger’s extra-long workbench located in the center section of the garage.

“The other bench. The other bench,” Mr. Booger shouted.

“Oh,” Tim replied. He asked Debra if she would like to lie down.

“Ungh! Ungh!” she said. But she did place her not-quite-as-beautiful-as-before body on Mr. Booger’s empty other bench.

“Strap her down,” Mr. Booger ordered.

“We’re out of strap,” Tim said.

“Use the rope.” Mr. Booger tossed a coil of rope at Tim.

Tim tied Debra to the bench. Her compliance amazed him. She even stopped breathing so that she was perfectly still.

“Now, I shall reanimate her flesh, freeing her body from zombie-ism and restoring her soul to her body and her mind to her brain,” exclaimed Mr. Booger with hands upraised in the Halleluiah position.

To continue reading, please click here.

Quotable
“I watched Higgins dump a shovel full of bones and dirt into a canvas bag one of the guys in uniform held. My stomach turned around backwards even though the rest of me still faced forward.
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies
 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Never Having to Say “Ungh”



Part 1: Debra Dinglesnort’s Accident

Mr. Booger taught Chemistry by day and was a certified lunatic scientist at night. He worked late in his garage laboratory attempting to invent the real Flubber and conducting reanimation experiments on dead neighborhood cats. (I know. Never kill a pet in a story, even a horror story, but the cats were already dead. Okay, for all you pet lovers, especially Rosa Perkins of Glenview, Illinois, I’ll change it to road kill.) So anyway, as I was saying before I interrupted myself with a parenthetical expression, which simply means something your parents should have told you but didn’t, Mr. Booger was renowned in the neighborhood for scraping up road kill (never pets, mind you) and attempting to reanimate them.

Mr. Booger’s fascination with reanimation and Flubber stemmed from watching the original versions of his two favorite movies: Frankenstein and The Absent Minded Professor.

He would never have conducted experiments on the lovely Debra Dinglesnort, despite his reverse teacher crush on her where he had the moonbeam eyes and she had her amazing assets focused on Reginald Thorndyke, captain of the football and basketball teams, except for that unfortunate incident the other night.

Mr. Booger and Debra had an age difference of only twelve years (28 vs. 16) (there I go with the parenthesis again). But, and this but is as big as Debra’s, but Debra was involved in that car accident out on Route 59 where the truck load of alien watermelon pods crashed into Reginald Thorndyke’s imitation Beetle.

Debra Dinglesnort was transformed from gorgeous to road kill. But not just any road kill. She was smothered in alien watermelon pod juice and guck. Do you have any idea what that can do to a girl’s complexion along with her IQ?

To continue reading, please click here.

Quotable
We didn’t know the curved lump was somebody’s dead head.
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Without Annette


Before Miley… before Lindsey… before Britney… before Jodie… and even before Hayley… there was Annette, Disney’s first teenage heart throb.

Articles covering her death yesterday at age 70, remind us that Annette Funicello was an accomplished singer, dancer and actress. But many of those writing about her have missed her greatest talent and contribution to television and film.

An American Icon
For the baby boomer generation, Annette Funicello was our first crush. That’s her legacy.

For millions of American preteen boys in the mid-fifties, she was our “it girl.” She stirred that magic something in our collective hearts that made us run a bit faster coming home from school. When we turned on the Mouseketeers that first time on October 3,1955, it was to experience that new program from Walt Disney. But from day two on, we hurried home to watch “Annette.” She was the curly-haired brunette with her name written across her blouse and those iconic mouse ears on top of her head.

Our preteen sisters loved Annette because she was everything a preteen girl wanted to become: a pretty star who attracted boys. She was a girl who always dressed right. She was that special older sister who had her act together. She was worthy of imitation.

Annette’s great charm was her sweetness and purity. Wow, isn’t that something. Did I actually write “purity” in describing a Hollywood star? With the original Mickey Mouse Club, you watched a group of good, wholesome kids with talent. At thirteen, Annette was one of the older children, one of the leaders. If she was sexy or flirtatious, it was always in a wholesome way. Even in the later Beach Party movies, Annette played the girl who was saving herself for marriage despite the bikini beach all around her.

With Annette, you always had the feeling she was playing Annette. And that was her special magic.

Think about it. The Boomer generation began in 1946 so the oldest Boomer watching Annette that first time in 1955 was all of nine years old. That means Annette was only thirteen when she stole our hearts. For the boys, she was our virtual big sister, baby sitter and famous actress combined into one giant grin.

I paid tribute to Annette in my new novel Steel Pennies. The story is set in 1960. The main characters are teenagers. In one scene early in the story, Tommy McConnell, the main character, and his buddy, Bob Durkin, turn on the television and catch a rerun of the original Mickey Mouse Club. They stop the action of the novel long enough to watch because they have a crush on Annette.

Annette Funicello stole our hearts when we were young and kept them for us until we were old enough to find our own personal sweethearts, like my bride Lynn Zuk-Lloyd.

Quotable
“… I flipped the channel knob to watch the Mouseketeers. It was a rerun, too. We watched it anyway. Bob and I have a crush on one of the Mouseketeers named Annette.”
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies

Monday, April 8, 2013

I’m a Were What?


Doctor Blutmeister said, “Roger, it only took ninety stitches to close your wound. And you arrived at the ER a good thirty or forty seconds before you would have bled out.”

 Janice Bingbuster stayed with me. Some Saturday night date that was.

When Janice bit me earlier that evening, she apologized profusely. At the time, I thought her apology over the top until I placed my hand on my wound and felt the blood gushing. And yes, she was definitely chewing as she drove my car to the emergency room.

I planned to have her drive me home after the ER visit and my overnight hospital room hangout. But when I awoke around noon, my pal Vernon stared me in the face. He volunteered to drive me home.

Vernon had that far away, thoughtful look he gets right before his Cousin Janice visits. “There’s something I have to tell you, Roger.”

“No need to apologize. Your cousin already covered that with profuse sorrow and lots of kissing while chewing.”

“That reminds me. Do you have any toothpicks?” Vernon glanced my way.

“In my car?”

“Never mind. I have something I have to tell you, and it can’t wait.” Vernon gazed back at the road.

“What is it?” I asked.

“You know me as Vernon Bingbuster, and I trust you consider me a friend.”

“I do. You’re the best, but this is old news.” I adjusted the bandage around my neck.

“And you like Cousin Janice despite her propensity for deep nibbling?”

“This may surprise you considering the depth of my wound, but yes, I like your cousin very much. What’s not to like? She’s beautiful. She’s kind. And she’s smart. So what if she clamps down a little hard during a make out session. We’re young. We’ll both get better with experience.”

Vernon took his eyes off the road to stare at me. “The problem, Roger, is you know both of us.”

I glared at the pickup stopped in front of us. “How’s that a problem?”

“Haven’t you wondered why you only see Cousin Janice once a month?” Vernon faced forward and slammed on the brakes.

“That’s because she only visits you and your mom once a month. She lives like four states away, right?”

“That’s my cover story.” Vernon waited for the pickup to move on before continuing. 

“It is?” The aroma of blood from my wound filled my nostrils along with an unhealthy amount of stone cold fear.

Vernon pulled the car to the curb and stopped. “I’m only telling you this because of the accident, the bite. Most of the time I’m your friend Vernon Bingbuster, but during the full moon, I’m Cousin Janice.”

“What?” I backed against the passenger door. “I’m on painkillers so I’m not sure I heard you right or even why I would want to hear what I just heard.”

Vernon shifted in his seat so that he faced me on the passenger side. “I’m a werewoman, Roger.”

“What is that exactly, a female wolf?” My head spun from Vicodin and weird news.

“Roger, don’t you get it? I’m a guy who turns into a sexy girl whenever the moon is full. I bit you so guess what?”

“I might get rabbis?” I cranked my head to one side trying to think, but I must have stretched the stitches because a sharp pain shot through my wound.

“You’re now a werewoman, too.”

“I’m a what? Vicodin doesn’t affect hearing, does it?”

After Vernon walked me to my door, I attributed the conversation to the painkillers from Doctor Blutmeister and any lingering drug abuse on the part of the blood donors who provided for my several transfusions. If Vernon was telling the truth, that meant I kissed a guy. I went upstairs and threw up.

As the weeks passed, I worried more about my future and less about boy lips. What would happen to me during the next full moon? I watched the evening sky, but most nights were cloudy in our neighborhood. I tried talking to Vernon Bingbuster about his Cousin Janice, but he claimed he didn’t know what I was talking about.

In case something were to happen on the next full moon, I spread the word on Twitter that my cousin Rhoda was coming to town. Vernon tweeted me that he thought my cousin might make a great friend for Cousin Janice the next time she was in town. Now, I’m the only guy I know, besides Vernon, who has to worry about a monthly visit from his “friend.”

THE END

Quotable
"Wickedness attracted and scared us at the same time"
Paul R. Lloyd
Steel Pennies

Friday, April 5, 2013

Steel Pennies


My new novel – STEEL PENNIES – is ready for purchase on Amazon for your Kindle reader. The paperback version will be ready in a few days. 

Set in 1960 in a working class neighborhood of West Chester, a small Pennsylvania town, Steel Pennies is racially-charged murder, mayhem and mischief wrapped around a teen romance gone wild. When teenagers Tommy McConnell and Bob Durkin discover the body of a long missing neighborhood girl, a series of killings ensues. As the body count mounts, will Tommy and his friends learn the identity of the killer before his girlfriend becomes the next victim?  

Steel Pennies explores racial tension and forbidden love during the early days of the civil rights movement. It examines the mystery of coming of age in a love story that turns Romeo and Juliet on its head. Laugh, cry and remember the struggles that brought America together as one people as you read my new novel – Steel Pennies.

What People Are Saying About Steel Pennies
“Machine-gun sentences.  Fast.  Intense.  Mickey Spillane-style.  No way around it.  Paul R. Lloyd is a top-notch noir writer.  Top-notch.”
Thomas Phillips author of Molech Prophecy—describing Steel Pennies by Paul R. Lloyd…

“I predict it will win awards and become assigned reading in high school, with the benefit that it will be a book that students will want to read. I loved this.”
Judge’s written comment on Steel Pennies in The Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense Unpublished Division.

BTW, PLEASE DON’T REVEAL THE BLOCKBUSTER ENDING!

You can read a chunk of Steel Pennies on Amazon by clicking here.

Return on Monday to read my new short fiction.