Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Rack Archives


Deborah Biancotti   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: March 02, 2013

"In there, Clay," she said.

Words are words but these hit hard.

I stared down at Big Jake, the guy who'd stopped a bullet for me one day in Korea, the guy who said he'd give his right arm for a friend but instead gave a leg when a commie bayonet-charged me and Jake tried to trip him up. He caught the bayonet just above the knee. He caught the commie by the throat. A commie died that day and Jake lost a leg. Now someone had got Jake and I - I saw red.

"I wasn't talking about Jake," Sheri said, leading me across the room and several chalked lines. "I'm talking about Deborah Biancotti -

"And what she got to do with this?" I was curious, as curious as hell.

"Nothing, Clay, she writes books. She wrote A Book Of Endings."

"She coulda known Jake," I said, looking back.

"And Bad Power," she said, ignoring me. "That's set in her home town of Sydney-  a gritty, industrial place where gods and superheroes seek refuge and where humanity is often in doubt."

"Well, there's no doubt about Big Jake," I said. "Where is she?"

"Usual place." She opened a door....more

Kirstyn McDermott   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: February 23, 2013

“They found me kissing earth, the kind that buries a man when he’s finished with life. The night would make one hell of a shroud, I thought, only there wasn’t much of it left and it was getting shorter by the second..”

"Only you weren't finished with life." Sheri regarded me, legs crossed and pencil poised, like she was painting her lips. I was dictating my memoirs. It was Sheri's idea. She talked of posterity. I just enjoyed how she crossed her legs and fingered the pencil and all I had to do was come out with the words. Then she said something unexpected.

"And you weren't born on Halloween."

"And you ain't no pumpkin. What's with Halloween?"

"Our next guest was born on Halloween."

"We have a guest? Why the hell didn't you say? Who do we have?"

"Kirstyn McDermott"

China Mieville   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: February 16, 2013



The fly muddled its way round the small pool of bourbon on the desk. I watched it, wondered what it got out life, wondered if this was fly nirvana, and whether it would notice the thumb; whether it cared. Either way it would die happy and come back some day as a lawyer or a two bit punk with something to prove.

"Clay! don't do that."

"Do what? It's a goddamn fly."

"Insects have feelings." She waved a book as she spoke. "It's a dimensional thing."

"Say what?"

"They can be kind of sexy." She licked her lips as she spoke. "You can make love to them."

Jeez, this was beyond perversion. Sheri had a serious shopping habit; she liked her drink; but this? Honeybunch had finally snapped. I hate commies, anarchists and free-loaders. I hate perversion, and don't have that much time for bugs, but this was something else. This was Sheri Lamour, the dame at the head of the queue, the dame that cast the Trojan broad and Cleo into long shadow. I decided to humour her.

"Make love to an insect. Jeez, hon..." Words failed then inspiration struck. Sheri had a thing about Marilyn Monroe. I didn't like it but it was one hell of a way better than screwing a bug. "You know what Monroe thinks?"

She raised one of those delectable eyebrows and waited.

"'When love goes wrong, nothing goes right.'"

It threw her for a time, then she hurled three books on the table. "And what does she have to say about wasp women and Krakens?"

I sighed, lost in relief. Sheri had been reading again, and judging by the light in her eye she had the author somewhere downstairs. I followed her, wondering who the hell wrote about insects and krakens."Who have you got down there?"

"China Mieville."....more

Lisa L Hannett   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: February 09, 2013

“It's been released on compassionate grounds.”

I sunk lower in my chair as I listened to her voice. Sheri was a honey. Sometimes sweetness covers venom. She was talking about a cookery book: Ten Minute Tantric Cuisine. Hadn't these jerks heard of pastrami?

The dame knows me inside out and then some, and she knows Clay Cross likes mysteries to solve, not venting rage against the dark forces sucking all light from the world. I'm a reasonable guy - even when it comes to books you wouldnt waste a tantric match on.

“So what's the real story,” I said. I held the offending book and tossed it in the  bin. "It's a New Year, damnit. You've got me something better than this, right?"

Sheri pouted, her lips like dark cherries holding a worm. "I might have."

“You're holding out on me, yeah?”

Sheri shrugged helplessly as if to say what the hell do I know? You’re the detective, big guy. "They say she's pretty hot right now. She wrote something called Bluegrass Symphony. Nominated for the World Fantasy Award."

I gave her my shark's smile, the one with teeth. "What else do they say?" I've always found 'they' useful. Rumour's cheap. Informers you pay. "Who have you got down there?"

"Lisa Hannett," she said.
The door slammed behind her and I leapt to my feet. Sheri was interested, and that meant only one thing....more

Sarah Pinborough   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: February 02, 2013

“Anything out there?”

"It’s you hogging the window, Clay."

I was talking about books, not the stumblebums out there, grazing on fried chicken or breeding the new feral horde. The window had blinds and I closed them. It’s a choice we all have, windows, books. Sometimes the choice is made for us. My old Morgan radio gave up its ghost sometime ago, after years regurgitating lie after lie from the slime-balls who now pillage this country. If it’s not slime-balls it’s innuendo and tattle from broads with silicon for brains.

“You’ve never complained before, Clay.”

“Never had to, Sheri.” Don’t you just hate it when dames read your mind?

“Anyway, there is somebody out there – or rather in here."

Did I tell you that Sheri has a voice like honey and a figure to match?

Sarah Pinborough.

A shiver ran up my spine. It was that kind of name.

“What's she done?”

"What hasn’t she done?"...more

Rob Kaufman   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: January 26, 2013

It was about 3 a.m. when I arrived back at the office. 3 a.m. and twenty or more years late. I paid off the cab and stood for a moment surveying the building. It was a dump: stale, yellow and empty. The door opened, a little too easy. The hall was in darkness.

“Is that you, Mr. Cross?”

“That you, Pops?” The dialogue stunk, much like the building.

A shadow moved and rheumy eyes that had once been a piercing blue, stared sightlessly inches from mine. A gnarled hand reached up. I took it and held it firmly in my own.

“You still here, Pops?”

“Hell, there’s nowhere else to go, son.”

“Ain’t that the truth.” True or not, the answer didn’t interest me. I’d asked the wrong question. I was looking for Sheri, only Sheri wasn’t big on directions, unless they involved perfume or hats. She'd given me one word written on pink paper. : “Omega.”

It sounded like some fancy French fragrance, its meaning clear as Brooklyn mud. And then I got it. She was talking about a tenement in L.A. Our first office. A day in the summer of ’53 when she’d first walked into my life.

“Sheri up there, Pops?”

“Sure is, Mr Cross, and she’s got a man up there.”

“Sheri always has a man up there. Who is it this time?”

“A guy called Kauffman. Rob Kauffman.”

Suzanne Willis   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: January 19, 2013

“This thing still work?”

“Just about,” he croaked, wiping away a trace of phlegm stuck on his chin. “Only it hasn’t been used much since you’ve been away.” Pops chuckled. “Hell, when them women-folk get to hearing you’re back and all...” The old man slapped his thigh but missed, “It’s jest gonna be like old times, ain’t that so, Mr. Cross?”

“That’s right, like old times.”

I slid into the elevator as Pop struggled with the door. He patted the control box affectionately, and the elevator began its slow, wheezing climb. ‘There’s a lady waiting. Miss Lamour is keeping her company.”

Keeping her company; jeez. Sheri wasn’t the companionable kind – especially with ladies. Still the elevator gave me time to think. Pop had been operating that elevator longer than I could remember. Hell, they’d raised the building around him and that metal cage he called home. More than once he’d saved my life, with a timely warning of unwanted guests. I approached the office cautiously, and opened the door.

The office was empty, except for Sheri Lamour in a dress that showed too little and too much both at the same time.“You’re late, Clay,” Sheri said it like she’d cooked me dinner and cared.

“There’s a lady.”

Sheri gave me that evil smile. “So you know…She’s dying to meet you, Clay.”...more

Roz Morris   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: January 12, 2013

The punk turned. One good look and my stomach turned. He was ugly inside and out. He averted his eyes, stared for a moment into his own personal abyss. A dry snake-like tongue flickered and wiped each of his lips in turn, then hovered as if seeking another.

"Let her go," I said.

He released his hold on the girl, and Sheri took over. She sounded maternal and I smiled.

"Oh, so you're Roz Morris?"

I left the punk chewing floor and followed them home.

Jason Nahrung   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: January 05, 2013

I guess I owe the army for three things; like for training a killer; for giving me a partner in the form of a screwy left eyeball with a mind of its own, and finally for leaving me enough severance pay to set myself up in business as the best Private Eye in L.A.. And just now I was in business again. The organisation had thrown me a bone, a writer called
Jason Nahrung, and they wanted answers. They wanted them fast.


"Yes, hon?"

"I'm in the basement. We have an Australian down here...dying to meet you."

Sheri had legs, let me tell you, and heels that clattered and clicked down those steps like scorpions on speed.

Felicity Dowker   By OFW Editor: Michael Keyton    Publish Date: December 29, 2012

There was relief on Sheri's face and it made me feel warm inside. With Sheri, relief was usually followed by gratitude, and warm became hot. We had another victim and Sheri was shaping her nails

'I don't know how you do it, Clay," she breathed.

I didn't tell her it was a break, a break that was to tear this case wide open, and it all began because I happen to have a screwy left eyeball - a memento from Omaha beach. Hell. I must be just about the only Private Dick in existence with a left eyeball still suffering from shell-shock. As eyeballs go it’s kind of anarchic, likes keeping late hours, falls asleep when you least expect it, and every now and then swivels away of its own accord and homes in on a break. It’s a natural. The break? Heh, I phoned Australia.

"Who is it?" Sheri was waiting. She sounded excited, the way I was gonna feel later that night....more

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