NYC Midnight 2015 Flash. Round 2-Group 24 Crime Caper

A Grandfather’s Promise.

A kidnap victim learns the reason behind the crime. He vows to help his captor though hard times, and get an old woman a snack.

“I am Drummond St. Clair!” The boy struggled against the rope that restrained him in the Victorian chair. His breath frosted the air as he spoke, “My grandpapa was the first Earl of Saanich.”

“Sandwich?” The old woman who sat across the dusty storage room of Grey’s Classic Antiques asked. “I could eat.”

“No, Nini,” Her grandson, Clyde said from beside the boy. “Not sandwich. Saanich. Them’s this toff’s people who are gonna pay up, or we gonna make sandwiches out of him.”

Clyde poked his knife into Drummond’s imported Italian overcoat, then simulated slitting his own neck.

“You’ll hang for this,” he shook the chair. “If you think you’ll profit from this, you’re daft.”

“Yes, I does feel a draught.” Nini said.

“No, Nini. Daft, not a drau– Oh bother.” Clyde sheathed his knife. “Me Nini’s cold. Consider this a down payment.” He snatched the scarf from the Drummond’s neck and crossed the room.

“Thank you.” She slipped the smooth silk between her fingers. “Oh no, Clyde this is too nice. We cannot afford this.”

“It’s okay, Nini. Soon we’ll be gitting all the nice things you want. Maybe git out to the country, buy us a bunch of cows.”

“A herd.” Drummond said.

“Heard a what?” Clyde asked.

“A group of cattle is called a herd of cows.”

“Of course I have heard of cows.” Nini replied.

“We ain’t daft.” Clyde added.

“No dear, I don’t feel a draught anymore.” Nini said.

“No—” He rolled his eyes and pursed his lips. “Okay, Nini. That’s good.”

“Why are you doing this?” Drummond asked. “Why don’t you simply sell all this old junk and move?”

“It ain’t that easy, you bleedin’ toff,” Clyde said as he looked back. “Since Pops passed, it’s just me and me Nini. Now she ain’t got the good sense God gave her, and she ain’t doin’ too well otherwise.”

“Petition the county for assistance. There’s support if you need it.”

“We ain’t taken welfare. Sides, your family owes us, you wouldn’t exist if it ain’t for Pops, so shuts yer trap. I got a letter to deliver.”

Clyde kissed his grandmother on the cheek. “I’ll be back in a trice, Nini. Don’ lissen to this tosser any while I’m gone. I just need to drop off a post.” He stopped as he passed Drummond, patted his knife, drew his thumb across his neck, and left through the curtain between the back room and the main store.

The bell jangled above the front door.

“Madam, my family is very powerful in these lands. Release me and I’ll see that no harm comes to you. You’ve had no part in his criminal act.” He pulled on his arms bound to the chair. “And what a heinous crime it is.”

“What time it is? Three o’clock young man. Are you and Clyde still playing your game? His Mum and Dad should be home soon. They stepped out for a pint to celebrate the new King.”

“Madam?” Drummond’s face pinched. “We haven’t had a new King since George the Sixth. That was five years ago.”

“Oh, I cannot let you go. Clyde would be so disappointed if you didn’t say farewell. Best you wait until he returns. He’s been so lonely since his grandpa passed. He was a good man, my husband. A hero. Went to fight in Austria during that nasty business on the continent. Came back with a gammy leg and one eye.”

“Austria? My grandpapa commanded a regiment there. They fought together, surely.”

“M’name’s not Shirley, sir. ‘Tis Gwendolyn Scottsdale Grey McTavish.”

Drummond eyes blinked with recognition of the name. “McTavish? Was your husband, Gregory McTavish?”

“No sir, m’name’s, Scottsdale Grey McTavish.” She bowed her head, and using her right hand did the sign of the cross, “Bless my poor Gregory’s soul.”

“I believe your husband saved my grandpapa’s life in the battle of Isonzo. His company fought so valiantly, the Crown deeded my grandfather this land. Along with the title, Earl of Saanich”

“Yes please, a sandwich sounds nice.”

“Madam, my family does indeed owe yours a great debt.” Drummond raised his voice, “My game with your grandson is indeed done. Untie me and I’ll await his return.”

“Very well, young man. But there’s no need to shout.” Each step seemed an eternity to the captive Drummond as she rose and crossed the room, unbound him, and returned to the loveseat that matched the chair to which he had been tied.

Now freed, he recognized the upholstered fabric of the furniture.

The sound of the bell alerted Drummond to his kidnapper’s return.

“I’m back, Nini.” Clyde called from the front of the store.

“I say, my good man. It seems your—” Drummond looked at the old woman’s tattered clothes, heard the clicking knitting needles in her hands. She had no comprehension of what was going on in her family’s closed antique store. His tone softened, “Your… Nini, and I have come to an understanding.”

“Nini!” Clyde ran into the storeroom, knife in hand, and saw that his captive had been untied.

Drummond held up his open hands, “Wait, I understand. I beseech you, hear me out.”

Clyde halted, but did not sheath his weapon. He looked at his Nini, seated where she had been when he left. Seated where she had been throughout the year since his pops had died.

“Our grandfathers were comrades during the war. Gregory McTavish carried my grandpapa from atop a mountain during a blizzard. It cost him all the toes on his right foot and the sight in one eye. My grandpapa vowed to repay that debt. For years, this store was given all of our old furnishings to sell. When he died, my father, the new Earl, stopped that tradition and it has cost your family dearly.”

Drummond turned to Nini, “I promise you justice, madam. It is my duty as heir to the Earl of Saanich.”

“I could eat.”


Ode to the Dead.

(First shot at iambic pentameter. Kudos to Shakespeare, it’s not easy. This was written for submission to be included as an extra in a novel. Wasn’t accepted.)

Ode to the Dead.
By Wayne Hills

Lament the dead’s retreat thy hallowed grounds.
The living’s fear is wrought with despair.
For all alive, a certain death abounds.

The hordes advanced. We flee in disbelief.
Pampered lives dissolve, no chance to repair.
Human’s broken society would get no relief.

Grab the child, canned food, some meager gear.
Carry all on ours backs, no room to spare.
Left to rot all else. Chattel held most dear.

Abscond from sound of death approaching.
Keep faith to find safe passage rare.
Upon our souls the horror encroaching.

In abandoned barn, or noxious sewage pipe.
Sleepless eyes locked in unending death stare.
We lay down our heads, steal flashes of respite.

Snap of twigs twix shuffle of decayed feet.
Panic overcomes frayed nerves worn bare.
Their inhuman sense tracks us, we are fresh meat.

She trips. I fall. They move so quick.
Teeth rip flesh. My chances at life are ne’re.
My blood and gore make skin grow slick.

All black, no light, my breath abated.
Hope for salvation go without prayer.
Undead quest for blood, are fully satiated.

I rise and I walk. I feel their desire.
To hunt the living a need I now share.
The quest for life’s blood fueled by hell’s fire.

She grieves for my loss, her love for me pales.
For I recall not her face, the scent of her hair.
My only desire, is to feast upon her entrails.

I search. They run. Locked in a never-ending trial.
Between life and death, a thin fabric tear.
Of love everlasting, and present reality’s denial.


2015 NYC Midnight Flash-fiction competition. The Trumpeter’s Song.

They gave me 5 points for this. Am I delusional in thinking this story hits all the criteria?
I really don’t know what the judges are looking for

Group 24-Genre:Historical Fiction-Location: A horse track-Object-A rocking chair.

The Trumpeter’s Song.

Synopsis: In the United States during the turbulent sixties, a plan is hatched to bring about the fall of America’s Camelot.


     In a smoke-filled office overlooking the thoroughbred track at Monmouth Park, New Jersey, a man in a well-tailored suit is smoking a Cuban cigar. The faraway sound of a trumpet calling horses to the gates draws his attention away from a stack of ledger sheets piled on his mahogany desk.

The office is paneled in dark oak, thick ornate carpeting covers the floor. Large panes of glass take up one wall creating a window overlooking the horses on the dirt oval below. The muffled starting bell and the frenzied call of the track announcer filter through the opening. Glancing at a calendar on the wall to his left, he picks up and dials the phone.

The clattering of a telephone breaks the silence in another oval, this one, an office located in Washington DC.

A Boston-Irish voice answers. “This is John.”

“How ya’ doin’, Johnny. Hoffa here,” replies the caller.

“I know who it is, I recognize your nasal-Jersey accent. What do you want?”

“Just want what ya’ promised, Mr. President. Secretary of Labor. Ya’ fuhget it was my men who got the vote out for ya’ last election? I’m reminding you of the fact that I’m still waiting on your call. My patience is wearing thin.”

“Hoffa, you can’t threaten the President of United States.”

“Whoa, Johnny, don’t mistake my intention. I’m a Jersey boy. We don’t make threats. We make promises. And then we keep them, unlike ya’ Boston jack-offs.”

John clenches his teeth, takes a deep breath and responds, “You know where I am Jimmy? I’m relaxing in my father’s chair. The rocker the Bethlehem Steel unions gave him after World War One because he knew how to play the game. But you break the rules, Jimmy. The Teamsters aren’t enough for you, you’re running more schemes than my people can keep a lid on. You’d never be confirmed by Congress. And more importantly, I can’t trust you.”

“Ya’ trusted me enough to take care of your little problem in L.A. Even the head-cheese of America can’t bang every big-boobed slut that sings Happy Birthday to him without repercussions. She thought she could bring ya’ down but she didn’t have the means to. Well, I’ve got the means and the balls to do it.”

John’s legs tighten, rocking him back in the chair. Clenching his free hand into a fist, he shakes it at the handset. He takes another deep breath, exhales away from the phone’s mouthpiece, rolls forward, and places his elbows on his knees. “You were compensated for that. You have control of labor unions that aren’t even in your God-damned state. We’re square.”

“Yes-sir, on that deal we are. But I want more.”

Muted cheers trickle in from the track.

He continues. “Look, I’m not asking for something for nuthin’. Don’t forget I’m a man of many talents. Who got ya’ this secret phone line? I did. My men in the CWA set it up without a peep to anybody. And now I got something you’ve been aching to get done since your CIA boys botched that island invasion back in sixty-one.”

Taking a long pull on the cigar, Hoffa blows a series of smoke rings over the desk. “Whatta ya’ say, Commander-in-Chief? Shall we find a way to bypass those pesky hearings?”

“I say go to Hell, Hoffa. I’m done dealing with you. Next time you hear from me, it’ll be through my brother.”

Slamming down the phone, John rises, walks to his desk, and depresses the intercom.

“Mrs. Lincoln, get Robert on the line. I’ve got an issue to discuss with him.”
Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, personal secretary to the President, and proud member of the Communication Workers of America, makes the call and connects the Attorney General to his boss. Neither man notices that she never disconnects her headset.

Minutes later, a telephone rings, drowning out the sound of ‘First Call’ for the start of the afternoon’s next race.

“Hoffa here.” Listening, he starts to take notes.

“Hello Lincoln.”

“Yeah, we talked.”

“He called Bobby and said that, did he?”

“He’s got a trip to Texas soon, doesn’t he?”

“No, nothing to be concerned with. I may send him a gift. Special delivery.”

“Thanks, Lincoln. You just take care of your father, we’ll take care of his medical bills. G’nite.”

Jimmy flips through a small black notebook, and dials a private number into the offices of the Dallas Service Employees Local #5.”

“Ruby, Hoffa here. How’s that nightclub we set ya’ up with working out? You’re cleaning up a lot of money for us, and we’re grateful.”

Jimmy begins creating a to-do list.

“Yeah, it’s a good thing for your family, us helping you out with those debts of yours. Ya’ really need to learn how to pick the ponies better. Look, Jack, I didn’t call just to shoot the shit with ya’. I’d like to say it’s a favor I’m asking, but it needs to be done, and you’re our man in Texas. We need someone gone, it’s best for our Union brothers, and that means it’s good for America.”

“No, I can’t be more specific, secret phone line or no. Let’s just say they’ll be a lotta tears and a State funeral when we’re done. The man welched on a deal. Y’know I can’t let anyone get away with that.”

“Yeah, we’ll need a patsy. He’s gotta be believable and he’s gotta go away quick before he can talk. Who’ve you got?”

“An ex-Marine? I thought once a Mar–.”

“Oh, he defected? Didn’t know anyone went that way. Thought they only came over to us.”

“He sounds perfect. I’ll place a call to the local PBA and get the cleanup handled. And look, anytime you want a tip, just call. I’ll put the fix in for ya’.”

“Fuhget about it. Goodbye Jack.”

As the sun sets on the track, the trumpeter’s song announces the day’s final race.


The Ledge Theory

The ledge theory of storytelling.

By Wayne Hills

Put your main character on a precipice so that if they fall, they’re dead.

That cliff could be real, a physical or imaginary height. The fall would maim or kill them, or in the case of an emotional or fiscal abyss, ruin their life.

Your reader will have that thought in their mind throughout the story, always knowing that at any moment, it will be over for the character.

Good or evil, the story will be carried by that momentum.

A Writer’s Dream.

Had a writer’s dream last night.

I was a writer in a ’50s era TV show. A weekly drama with a set cast that performed a different story every week.
I was teamed with a woman–who as best I can guess was a compilation of several female friends in the FB writer’s groups I’m in.
Although I usually dream in color, everything was black and white. Dressed as characters in the shows from that era–she in a long-sleeved full length dress, while I wore a solid grey suit with a white shirt and tie–we were collecting checks for the past week and were trying to find inspiration for the next week’s story.
I was then in a car driving to the Hollywood Sheraton. The car is a 1954 Pontiac Star Chief–I’m using this car in a story I’m writing in my non-dreaming life. The Sheraton, must be Hollywood because that’s where I was dreaming to be, and the Sheraton because I was just at one yesterday on a rescue transport.
I pulled in the front entrance to the hotel which had a small strip mall as part of the parking lot.I parked near the back of the mall and entered a small nondescript office, and this is why I’m sharing this dream.
The office’s interior resembled a stereotypical doctor’s waiting room, several chairs and couches, unmarked doors spaced throughout the room. Sitting on the furniture were faceless people, their clothes and skin the same shade of fuzzy gray. More of these, blank-slate people, were milling about, entering doors, coming out of others. They weren’t doing anything.
I was studying them, trying to figure out why they were there? Why were two sitting together, and why were others apart? What was in the doors? What were they thinking? Why did they HAVE to be here?
I started yelling at them.
“I need a story. Don’t just sit there.”
I ran up to one and screamed in it’s blank face.
“Do something compelling.”
Then I woke up.
I peeked behind the curtain of my mind and have seen what happens when I ask my muse to show me a movie that I can write a story about.
Thought I’d share this, at the very least maybe my future therapist can use it to explain my condition.