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A Memorable Kiss

I’m giving you my heart. Please take care of it for now you have two – and I have none.

 

I knew from the time I was in third grade that I wanted to be a teacher. There was never a doubt in my mind.

In 1961 I graduated from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI and began my teaching career. I loved being a teacher. I can remember thinking at the end of the day, “I can’t believe I’m being paid for doing this.” However, at that time four thousand dollars a year was good pay!  

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Tilmer Wright Jr.
I love this, Adele. It's not all that involved and it seems so simple on the surface, yet there's a warmheartedness that kind of s... Read More
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 10:30
Susan L Kite
What a sweet story and very nicely told. Those kind of intimate moments in schools are sadly gone when even a hug is suspect these... Read More
Tuesday, 20 March 2018 16:45
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2 Comments

RECYCLE: Tin Cans into Cars or Deleted Scenes into Short Stories

 

Shake and Bake and Double-O Buckshot

By Wayne Zurl

 

This story was fabricated from an outtake which originally appeared in the Sam Jenkins novel, A NEW PROSPECT. I reworked it to create a stand-alone story. The scene was deleted prior to publication because it didn’t provide ancillary support to the basic storyline. It’s based on two actual incidents which took place in New York in the 1970s.

 

       

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Cheryl Peyton
Mesmerizing story with enough local color and details to put the reader in the middle of the action. I loved the interruptions in ... Read More
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 15:14
Kaye George
Lovely story! Thanks for the great read before I dive into my own work today.
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 15:55
Wayne Zurl
Thank you, Ladies.
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 16:07
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5 Comments

A Tribute to the Late Robert B. Parker

 

Whenever someone asks me what well-known author has influenced my writing most, I tell them the late Robert B. Parker. Parker in turn had been greatly influenced by Raymond Chandler. So, I’ll assume some of his style rubbed off on me, too. Characters like Spenser and Marlowe are good role models for any all-American boy.

 

In January of 2010, Parker passed away in his Boston townhouse. I was then attending an on-line writer’s workshop called thenextbigwriter.com. News of Parker’s death made the rounds of the daily forums and elicited many sad comments and kind words. A lot of people, me included, would miss him and the characters he created.

 

I wrote this piece shortly after his death. For this anniversary, I’d like to post it again.

 

 

So Long, Bob, and Thanks for the Memories

 

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Kaye George
This is beautiful, Wayne! I enjoyed it.
Thursday, 18 January 2018 10:33
Tilmer Wright Jr.
I absolutely love the image of the landscape being glazed over like a "cheap doughnut". That gave me a chuckle and made me like th... Read More
Thursday, 18 January 2018 10:47
Wayne Zurl
Thanks, Kaye & Tilmer.
Thursday, 18 January 2018 11:00
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7 Comments

Excerpt from my latest Alex Trotter Mystery, "Murder in Mobile."

This book is a departure from the format of my others in the series that follows the adventures of tour operator Alex Trotter as she conducts groups on vacation that's always interrupted by murder. Here, Alex is reuniting with four of her college friends in Mobile, Alabama for Mardi Gras, ten years after graduation from their women's college, Wood Hole, in Frededrick, Maryland. In this excerpt, Alex is remembering one of her friends as she makes her way down to Mobile. 

Note: This is a true-life incident that happened to me and my friends whose actual names I'm using for their characters in my book.

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Wayne Zurl
Great beginning. I'm looking forward to reading this one. And Mobile is a great town to use as a setting. Good choice and good luc... Read More
Saturday, 25 November 2017 16:20
Cheryl Peyton
Thanks, Wayne. Your encouragement means a lot. Mobile does provide more than its share of history and ambiance.
Saturday, 25 November 2017 19:00
Susan L Kite
Too funny! Nice beginning and love the sweet revenge!
Saturday, 25 November 2017 19:00
101 Hits
5 Comments

THE LAST GAME IN BROOKLYN

If my world hadn't changed in 1957 perhaps the outcome of the latest World Series would have bothered me. But the Dodgers abandoned Brooklyn when I was just a kid and I vowed never to watch a major league ball game for as long as I lived.

A couple years ago a friend asked a few mystery writers to each give him a short story for his blog with baseball as the theme. This what I came up with.

 

LAST GAME IN BROOKLYN

By Wayne Zurl

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Tilmer Wright Jr.
Nice, Wayne! You told a lot in that small space - a rare gift.
Monday, 20 November 2017 13:46
Wayne Zurl
Thanks, Tilmer. I got good advice from Robert B. Parker. Less words, more story. WZ
Monday, 20 November 2017 14:06
Cheryl Peyton
When I finished reading this, I went, "What?!" aloud. It's possible this could have happened, but since you used your character's ... Read More
Monday, 20 November 2017 13:48
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6 Comments

I Want to Live When I Die

When I die, I want to live.  I want to live in the smell of my perfume on the pillow next to you as you wake in the morning.   I want to live on the bathroom counter as you move my makeup and hairspray around to reach your razor.  I want to live in the smell of the morning coffee as you pour it in your favorite cup.  

When I die, I want to live.  I want to live in the recliner next to you as you read or play with the dog on your lap.  I want to live in the shadows as you turn to say something to me, but I am gone.  I want to live in the everyday objects that remind you of me. That tell a story of our life together.  That show the love we shared all these years. 

When I die, I want to live.  I want to live in the air that you breath and in the memories that you have, before they fade away. 

When I die, I want to live as long as possible.   Until the last scent of me is gone. 

By Penny C. Lofton, 
sister of Gale Frances
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Cheryl Peyton
This is pure poetry from a courageous woman who is in a fight for her life. I have no doubt that everyone who knows her will remem... Read More
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 21:38
Susan L Kite
Just lovely and I think the same sentiments reside in each of us. To live....
Saturday, 04 November 2017 11:05
Wayne Zurl
That's a beautiful thing. I couldn't write poetry if someone held a gun to my head. But this is excellent. Thanks Cheryl, for post... Read More
Sunday, 05 November 2017 17:19
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Phlash Phiction Phor Halloween

A few years go I entered a contest and one first prize. My big grand award: A free copy of the sponsor's Southgern Writers magazine. The rules were simple: Less than 200 words and the story must begin with, I've had wonderful holidays...

This what I submitted.

 

A Halloween Collar

By Wayne Zurl

“I’ve had wonderful holidays, but this wasn’t one of them.” After that sentiment, I smacked the kid on the back of his head.

A rubber ghoul mask fell from his hand to the floor and he pulled in his head like a frightened turtle.

“Up yours,” he said.

I grabbed his nose and put my face an inch from his ear. “The next time I hit you, smartass, you’ll lose a few teeth.”

His eyes strained to look at me. I removed my fingers from his beak.

“I chased you four blocks, nitwit, and ripped my pants going over that fence. I am not a happy policeman. I’ll ask again. Where did you get those fireworks?”

A slight smile crossed his face. “I forget.”

I smacked him again, this time on his ear and a little harder.

His hand went defensively to his head. “I’ll have your badge for that, man.”

“I doubt that you little stinkbug. Blowing up a mailbox is a felony. Talk or go to jail. Where did you get the M-80s?”

He cracked an arrogant smirk. “From my father, the chief inspector.”

 

PS: The title of this blog entry is in honor of my buddy Phlash Phelps, morning DJ on Sirius/XM Radio's 60's on 6, for mentioning my last novel, HONOR AMONG THIEVES, on his show. He had a cameo spot in the book.

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Cheryl Peyton
You won for your O Henry finish. I thought the scene was already amusing with the scruffy kid mouthing off to the seasoned cop who... Read More
Monday, 30 October 2017 12:03
Wayne Zurl
Thanks, Cheryl. Speaking professionally for Sam Jenkins, some times you win and sometimes you also ran. WZ... Read More
Monday, 30 October 2017 13:32
Susan L Kite
Way funny! Thanks, Wayne! Great job!
Monday, 30 October 2017 21:29
99 Hits
4 Comments

A Short Story by Russ Fine

Daisy

 

I remember the day Daisy came into my life. I had just left my local Walmart and as I turned on to the street there was an old man wearing worn out clothes standing next to a shopping cart he had borrowed from a grocery store. It looked like all his worldly possessions were in the cart. He was holding up a cardboard sign that said, “Please Help”. Next to him, sitting at his feet, was a small brown dog.

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Stephanie McElligott
Love your story Russ! Well done
Thursday, 26 October 2017 18:00
Susan L Kite
What a sweet story, Russ. Very poignant, very evocative of feelings every pet owner has. Nice job!
Thursday, 26 October 2017 22:06
Gale Frances
You already saw my tears when I read this story a couple of weeks ago - wonderful story!
Friday, 27 October 2017 08:41
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8 Comments

The Dreaded Thought of Gun Control

After the recent Las Vegas massacre by a supposed lone gunman armed with multiple assault weapons, sevral people asked me for my take on the possibility that this individual really acted alone and basically what I think of common sense gun control. I'd like to wait for a final conclusion of the investigtors on the ground at the scene before theorizing too much about the first question, but The overall idea of COMMON SENSE gun control has always appealed to me. I DO NOT advocate banning all guns from civilians entitled and qualified to purchase and own them; any legislation pointed in that direction is nothing more than a waste of time and a disaster waiting to happen. However, the laws as now written are disjointed nationwide and in need of COMMON SENSE refurbishment. A quick fix would not be overly difficult, but should be addressed by people who understand statute law, the public's right to basic protection from incidents like these and the point of view of the average law-abiding gun owner.

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Cheryl Peyton
This is a remarkable retelling of a senseless and, arguably, preventable mass killing of innocents by an unbalanced individual. It... Read More
Friday, 06 October 2017 22:08
Wayne Zurl
Thank you, Cheryl.
Friday, 06 October 2017 23:19
Sam Bledsoe
Wayne Zurl has written and shared with us a sad but powerfully moving story about guns in America. He has broad experience in this... Read More
Monday, 09 October 2017 15:20
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8 Comments

Insights

 “Mr. Jerry, Mr. Jerry, guess what?” the four year old excitedly shouted as he entered the Sunday morning classroom for three –to-five year olds.

Several children were crowded near the door’s entrance as I stood there trying to welcome each one with the ritual hug. The excited child circled his arms around my leg and then looked expectantly into my face.

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Cheryl Peyton
Funny exchanges with children. You're a fine teacher -- you listen respectfully and don't over-react to emotional outbursts. Very ... Read More
Monday, 07 August 2017 11:38
Wayne Zurl
Very good, Jerry. You're an expert in child psychology.
Monday, 07 August 2017 13:03
Susan L Kite
Cute story, great reaction. Someone's mommy or daddy need to have their mouths washed out, not their darling's. ... Read More
Monday, 07 August 2017 22:15
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June's Predicament: A Short Story from the Book Women Among Men: The Story of three Sisters from Eastern Kentucky

Harlan County, Kentucky. One sunny Saturday morning in early August of 1943, June Brittian woke up feeling out of sorts. Her period was a week late and she was starting to worry. At first she hadn’t thought much about it; maybe she had miscounted. She counted the days again–twice; no, she had not! She went outside and sat on the porch, uneasily mulling over her predicament. What if I’m pregnant? What would Jim think about that, she fretted. And what would Momma do? Her thoughts frightened her. She couldn’t decide which was worse.

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Susan L Kite
Nice crisp dialogue, Sam. Good hook, too.
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 18:50
Cheryl Peyton
Wonderfully authentic characters and emotions seen in your dialogue. You were able to speak through the mind and words of a woman.... Read More
Sunday, 30 July 2017 10:30
Cheryl Peyton
This is a late notification of being a subscriber to the posting I've already commented on.
Monday, 31 July 2017 14:11
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Ten, Nine, Eight...

7-19-rocket-launch-morguefile

The official launch date is tomorrow, July 21, for DAY OF THE DARK: Stories of Eclipse. Why July 21st? Because it's exactly one month before the total solar eclipse, the first one in North America since 1918. The last one across the continent was in 1900. To star-gazers (and sun-gazers, but don't actually gaze at the sun, OK?) this is big deal.

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Wayne Zurl
Congratulations and good luck, Kaye. Sell a million.
Friday, 21 July 2017 07:51
Kaye George
Thanks, Wayne. From your fingertips to the buyer's pocketbooks.
Friday, 21 July 2017 11:24
Kaye George
I mean the buyers' pocketbooks! I hope there's more than one. ... Read More
Friday, 21 July 2017 12:18
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My Home in Montague, MI – A Very Special Place

On Saturday or Sunday afternoons my father would often want to take a little ride.  We would pile in the car and off we would go to places unknown.  I say unknown because it was always my father’s desire to find a two-track road that we had never been on before.  Our 1935 Ford would take us through the very bumpy dirt roads, the winding roads and sometimes to dead-end roads.  When dad came upon an old vacated house he would stop and we would take the tour. As we were walking through these old homes, I can still remember my dad saying, “If only these walls could talk.  Wouldn’t they tell a story?”

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The Letter

My brother Jim joined the Air Force in 1955 with two of his high school friends.  Jim was called upon to study and complete a course in Serbo-Croatian language at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana. As he could not explain what his mission was to be, we had no idea what he was doing or the danger that it entailed.

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Gale Frances
Wow! We may never understand why things happen the way they do, but one thing for certain is that God is in control of all things!... Read More
Friday, 21 July 2017 10:43
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A TOO PERFECT CRIME...A summertime police story by Wayne Zurl

This piece was destined for a contest that required everyone to begin their story with the line, “Have we met before?” I got that far, but drastically exceeded the word limit. So here we are. I gave the detective/hero of this saga the name Ian MacDonald because I wanted it ending with him getting the girl. And it would have been inappropriate for the long time married Sam Jenkins to do that.

A Too Perfect Crime
By Wayne Zurl
2011

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Cheryl Peyton
First, I love the title. Goes well with your Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe-style slick plot and spare dialogue. As usual, you have a su... Read More
Thursday, 22 June 2017 16:34
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Proud to be an American

Almost every day I put our American flag out at dawn and take it down at dusk. I often think of my dad and our neighbor Mr. Ford.  I was very young when I first noticed Mr. Ford, early in the morning, raising the American flag on his tall flagpole.  I watched as he pulled that flag higher and higher until it was waving high in the sky.  He secured it tight and then stood back and saluted. At dusk I would see him go outside, and slowly lower the flag, fold it neatly and go inside.  I remember asking my dad why Mr. Ford did this every day, weather permitting.  

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Cheryl Peyton
That's an amazing story about your dad, Adele. As usual, he had his wits about him and knew just what to do. BTW, I never heard ab... Read More
Sunday, 28 May 2017 22:44
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More Eclipse Teasers by Kaye George

Day-of-the-Dark---cover

The place I first heard of the upcoming total solar eclipse (coming closer every day!) was on Earth and Sky. http://earthsky.org/ In fact, I subscribe to their posts and get them every day. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen me repost some of their things. I’ve always been fascinated by what’s up there in the sky—and by what’s down here on the earth.

 

The 24 authors who contributed to DAY OF THE DARK, our short story anthology of eclipse-based stories, decided to give some of the proceeds to charity. Guess what I chose? You’re right, Earth and Sky! Two others chose that, too. We’re a varied group, so we have a lot of different interests. Here are the charities that will benefit from our sales:

 

I like to say that these donations are going to these great causes in the spirit of light and life: Earth and Sky, Petconnect Rescue, Natural Resources Defense Council, Science Center in Finland, DonorsChoose.org, Friends of Goldendale Observatory, Friends of the Earth, Morehead Planetarium, Texas Museum of Science and Techonology, DAPCEP.org for STEM education for future astronomers and scientists in Detroit, and personal friends in need. 

 

Here are teasers for 4 more stories, coming out July 21st, a month before the total solar eclipse in North America, from Wildside Press.

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Cheryl Peyton
Love the cover. The touch of red makes it pop even more. I'll mark July 21 on my calendar for the first Eclipse.
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 22:33
Kaye George
Thank you!
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 22:42
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2 Comments

A WALK WITH MOTHER

One activity that I enjoyed with my mother was to take evening walks. It was a time for me to tell her about my accomplishments and disappointments. It was a type of therapy for me and I believe it was for my mother also. She didn’t work outside of the home, and didn’t drive a car, so ‘getting out’ was something I believe she looked forward to.

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Kaye George
What a great story! Thanks.
Thursday, 11 May 2017 11:45
Cheryl Peyton
Well done, Adele! You had me going all the way through and I laughed out loud at the end. What a nice memory for Mother's Day. Tha... Read More
Thursday, 11 May 2017 12:07
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COMING HOME

Much about Walter Murray Stone is a mystery. He was a smallish but stern man who was easily riled. He was born in Oliver Springs, a small town about 25 miles west of Knoxville in east Tennessee in 1897. He had an older brother Richard who lived in Oliver Springs and a younger sister Jean who lived in Ohio. His father was William E. Stone; his mother was Mary Ann Francis. Except for the above meager information, nothing else is known about his parents or his siblings for he was never heard to speak a single word about them.

 Actually this is not a totally accurate statement for one fact is known about his brother. Richard and a friend were killed by a train under mysterious circumstances as they stood talking one morning on the railroad tracks in Oliver Springs. They failed to respond to the sounds of the approaching train until it was too late. No one knows why.

In 1923, Walter met, under unknown circumstances, and married Mary Almeda Caldwell, a kindhearted and thoroughly religious woman, also from Oliver Springs and from a fairly well-off and educated family. Three of her six siblings became secondary school teachers. Her father Johnce Cranston Caldwell owned substantial acreage in the small community of Galloway and was highly respected in the area.

It would be hard to find a husband or wife with less in common. Most people from her church and her family considered their marriage to be a poor match, and Walter made little effort to interact with his wife’s family even though they lived close by in Galloway. Mary was as calm and patient as he was harsh and unsocial. She was as trusting as he was suspicious. The Caldwells were strong supporters of the small Galloway Baptist Church and her faith was simple but unwavering; he, on the other hand, rarely went to church with her and showed little interest in matters of religion. He was also given to bouts of drinking with his brother Richard. 

Most people agreed that Walter was hard to get to know. He was socially awkward and tended to regale those he met with stories about something he had done better than someone else while making little effort to get to know his listener. He was never heard to pay a compliment to anyone, even his long suffering wife. Once when Mary tried on a new shade of red lipstick, Walter declared that her mouth reminded him of the ass end of a blue jay that had been eating poke berries. He had not completed high school and was not a proficient reader; that fact may have contributed to his suspicious nature.

Walter and Mary lived in a modest two-bedroom frame house, where they raised two rather handsome sons: Kenneth Walter, born in 1924, and Louis Stanley, born in 1927. In spite of their father’s influence, both boys were good hearted with a generous nature, but Kenneth was level-headed and responsible while Louis tended toward exaggeration and enjoyed being the center of attention as well as displaying some of the social awkwardness of his father.

Walter was a hard worker who expected his sons to work as hard as he did. He worked as a mechanic at a local hosiery mill and also raised most of the family’s food on their small farm by keeping a garden and raising chickens. Mary canned a lot of the vegetables from their garden and they drew their water from a spring. There were always chores to be done and when the boys failed to meet his expectations, he didn’t hesitate to use his blacksnake whip on them.  He had a mule named “Dolly” that he used to plow his garden and he beat his boys mercilessly just like he did Dolly.

World War II was raging across Europe in 1943, when Kenneth was 19. One day when his father was using Dolly to plow some new ground, Kenneth couldn’t bear the cruel way his father continued beating Dolly, even after she collapsed. The ground was hard and Dolly was old so Kenneth pleaded with his father to stop; instead his father started beating him. But Kenneth was an adult and it was the last straw. He grabbed his father by the wrist and swore, “That’s the last damn time you’re ever going to beat me!” The next day he joined the Army. It was the last time his parents ever saw their son alive.

Kenneth was inducted into the Army just across the state line in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He received orders to report to Camp Wheeler, Georgia for training and upon completion of his training he was assigned to the 29th Infantry Division in Europe.

His father was so furious that Kenneth had stood up to him that he refused to correspond with his son. His mother was broken hearted that her husband and son were estranged. Kenneth wrote to her as often as he could, but he never wrote to his father.

In September of 1944, Mary received the following letter from Tennessee’s Congressman in Washington.

Dear Mrs. Stone:

I am advised by the War Department that your son, Pfc Kenneth W. Stone, is reported missing in action. I wish to express to you my deepest sympathy and the hope that you may later learn that your son is safe.

I want you to feel free to call upon me to render any assistance within my power here in Washington.

        Sincerely yours,

        John Jennings, Jr.

 

That news caused her many sleepless nights and prompted a torrent of tears and prayers. But Mary’s prayers were not answered. In October of 1944, she received a posthumous citation from 29th Infantry Headquarters awarding her son the Bronze Star medal:

PFC Kenneth W Stone, 116 Infantry, U S Army, for meritorious achievement in military operations against the enemy in Normandy, France. On 8 June 1944 Pfc Stone, Automatic   Rifleman, excelled in the performance of duty during the early stages of the Normandy beachhead. Displaying courage and aggressiveness. He provided effective covering fire       for the advancing troops until killed by enemy machine gun fire. Pfc Stone’s unselfish devotion  to duty reflect great credit  upon himself and the Military Service.

The following months were difficult for Mary as she grieved over the loss of her son—and for Louis who idolized his brother. Six months later, Mary received the letter: her son was coming home.

Kenneth was coming home—in a casket to be buried and mourned by his small family. He never had a chance to have a wife or children to remember him. His nephews and niece would never know him. His father, his mother and his brother never mentioned him—remembering was too painful. He was a good son, a good brother, and a good man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and too soon would be forgotten. But he was coming home.

In 1945, Louis made up his mind. He would turn 18 in July; he would join the Navy. After completing his initial training, Louis received orders to report to the USS Logan, a new attack transport ship docked in Seattle. But his tenure in the Navy was short. After the Logan had served several months in the Pacific, the Japanese surrendered on September 2, 1945. The mission of the ship changed to ferrying troops from the west coast to Japan for the occupation and returning veteran troops to the US.  

Coming under tremendous pressure to bring the troops home, Congress promised that all servicemen eligible for demobilization from the Pacific would be in the U.S. by June 1946. Soon local newspapers informed the public that many thousands of discharged soldiers and sailors were flooding into major cities like Birmingham, Memphis and Cincinnati on their way home.           

It was joyful news for married women who had been left behind while their husbands went off to fight in the war and for young single women who had come of age during the war and suffered through a prolonged scarcity of eligible men to marry. By the same token, the war had deprived so many men of female companionship that when the two irresistible forces finally came together, it was like a colossal pressure cooker exploding.

After the USS Logan’s duties were completed, the ship returned to San Francisco in early February, 1946, and Louis was discharged from active duty on February 12. Two days later, he started the long train ride that would take him through Cincinnati back to his home in eastern Tennessee.

Mary’s son was coming home.

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Cheryl Peyton
I love seeing all these excellent short stories by our members. I think it's a special writing skill to tell a story and shape cha... Read More
Saturday, 06 May 2017 09:48
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SHOTS FIRED, a short story

Here's another 1970s police adventure featuring Sam and Louie patroling the Long Island ghetto of North Bellport, a place known to the street cops as Pace Park. 

 

Shots Fired

By Wayne Zurl

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Cheryl Peyton
Loved the twist at the end that reminded me of the short-story writer Saki (HH Munro) who achieved fame for his surprise endings. ... Read More
Saturday, 06 May 2017 10:02
Kaye George
Great ending! Thanks for the story.
Saturday, 06 May 2017 14:42
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