Art by Jason Eckhardt
by Paul Charles
So he was found in the garage?” Kennedy mused, as much to himself as to D.S. Dot King.
Kennedy was walking to and fro in a cold two-bay garage, in what he imagined was a break-through renovation of two terraced houses and a garage into one dwelling on the crenellated-styled Clarence Way in Camden Town. The fingers of his right hand were flexing furiously, as they always did when he came into close contact with a corpse for the first time.
The Ulster-born-and-bred detective stopped in the centre of the garage and dug his hands deeply into the pockets of his dark blue Crombie overcoat. Perhaps he was attempting to stop one of them flexing so much, or perhaps he was just doing this subconsciously to help him concentrate better. He then very slowly turned through 360 degrees, his eager green eyes scanning the contents of the garage the way a tramp might rummage in a rubbish bin—considering all before him, item by item, for use or nourishment. Then, just like the tramp’s hands, Kennedy’s eyes would expertly assess each and every item, letting his imagination run wild on every possible usage before discarding those unworthy of his effort, while hoarding all precious to his survival.
King instinctively knew not to disturb Kennedy during this process.
All in all this garage/storage area was incredibly tidy and well organised compared to the state in which Camden Town CID usually found garages. That is to say, mostly they were halfway houses for “stuff” on the way to a dump via a skip. Kennedy accepted that the inevitable hiring of a skip to unceremoniously remove said stuff to its final resting place usually came after the demise of the owner. This in turn brought the detective back to the remains of what looked like a late thirties/early forties, well-groomed, and even better dressed, man, awkwardly slumped and lifeless in a corner just to the left of the raised, automatic garage door.
The other partner is this particular relationship/marriage hovered by the kitchen-door entrance to the garage, walking back and forth without ever actually leaving the sanctuary of the kitchen. She occasionally stole a glance at the corpse, currently being carefully examined by Dr. Taylor, while she tut-tutted to herself as though irritated with her partner for leaving her with the problem of having literally to deal with his “stuff.”
Even though it seemed every ounce of the attractive blond-haired woman’s being was demanding his attention, Kennedy decided to leave her be for now and he continued to consider the scene of the crime, and eventually, and somewhat reluctantly, the corpse.
The wall facing the entrance to the garage was packed to overflowing with neat, symmetrical rows of tools. The tools were clearly divided in two sections; the one to the left appearing essential to vehicular repairs while the one to the right, and twice the size of the first, was clearly tools befitting a master carpenter. READ MORE
Art by Mark Evan Walker
by Joyce Carol Oates
In the dark, smelly place beneath the sink. Behind the drainpipes. She has made herself small enough to hide here.
Strands of a broken spider’s web sticking to her skin. Her eyes wet with tears. Hunching her back like a little monkey. Arms closed tight around her knees raised against her small flat chest.
She is just a little girl, small enough to save herself. Small enough to fit into the spider’s web. Smart enough to know that she must not cry.
Must not breathe. So that no one can hear.
So that he can’t hear.
The door to the hiding place is opened, she sees a man’s feet, legs. She sees, does not see, the glisten of something dark and wet on the trouser legs. She hears, does not hear, his quick hot panting. With a whoop of wild laughter he stoops to peer inside, he has discovered her. His face is a blur of tears. His mouth moves and is talking to her but she hears no words. But then, the door is shut again and she is alone.
In this way, it is determined. In the spider’s web she is allowed to live.
Phone rings. Unexpectedly.
Not her cell phone, which Clare would (probably) answer without a second thought, but the other phone, the land line, which rarely rings.
Seconds in which to decide: Should she lift the receiver?
Seeing that the caller ID is not one she recognizes. Calculating that the call is likely to be a robocall.
Yet, this rain-lashed April morning, out of curiosity, or loneliness, or heedlessness she lifts the receiver—“Yes? Hello?”
One of the shocks of Clare’s life.
For it seems that a stranger has called her, introducing himself as an attorney with a law firm in Cardiff, Maine. Informing her that she is the beneficiary of an individual of whom she has never heard—Maude Donegal, of Cardiff, Maine. Your grandmother.
“Excuse me? Who?”
“‘Maude Donegal’—your father’s mother. She has passed away at the age of eighty-seven. . . .”
Not sure what she is hearing. Thinking it might be, must be a prank, her first instinct is to laugh.
“But I don’t have a grandmother with that name. I don’t know any-one with that name—did you say ‘Douglas’?”
A pause, and the voice at the other end of the line continues, disembodied and matter-of-fact as a voice in a dream: “But ‘Donegal’ is your birth name. Didn’t you know?” READ MORE