Stories & Novels – Page 2 – Dave Bailey

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Posts related to stories and novels that Dave Bailey is writing or working on

Chapter 8 Complete! Whoo Hoo…

Cranking away here today on Love On The Edge. I’m tentatively calling it ‘Rise of the Dragon Queen‘.

I’ve already reached my first daily goal of cranking out 2,853 words. First 8 chapters are now complete.

You can read chapters 6 & 7 on my Patreon page now.

Who Is The Real Villain Here?

Onwards and upwards with my rebellious characters. They never do what I want them to. Right.

So, I thought Dr. Jonas was the bad guy, but he ends up turning out to be a real sweetheart.

Now, Julie’s starting to point her psychological finger at Melinda, the nutty nurse.

Good news is, that both Julie and Melinda now understand what they are doing there with Dr. Jonas.

Anyway…

I Gotta Stay In Shape…

So, after trying to beat my ornery characters into submission, I finally gave up and went for a run.

Managed to run almost 2K, then walked a bunch. Working my way back up the 5K ladder.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/WAHX16FXPMech1uLA

Time To Get Some Shut Eye

So, I’m gonna call it a day, and try to get some sleep here.

Get back up first thing in the morning.

I know I write better in the morning, but that means I have to go to bed earlier, so I can wake up early enough to get some writing in before work.

What Am I Going To Read Tonight?

I don’t know. If you’re reading anything good, make sure to hit me up in the comments and let me know.

I have a couple of Short Read books on my Kindle, so that might keep me awake a bit longer if I get into the story.

I’ve been mostly reading non-fiction these days to hone my writing craft, but I miss reading good fiction.

So, I’ll check out the titles I’ve downloaded from my Kindle Unlimited.

See what looks interesting.

I know there are some creepy short stories that caught my attention the other day.

But that might not be the best thing to read right before I go to sleep. Right?

Here’s an interesting infographic on fear of the dark.

Why People are Afraid of the Dark

Ya’ll have a good night now!

Dragon Troll – A 15 Minute Kindle Short Read

Meet Reji, a new character to introduce a new race that we are introducing in the ‘NorthWorld Universe’ and the ‘Edge of the Universe’ series. Read ‘Dragon Troll’ a Kindle 15 Minute Short Read for free with your Kindle Unlimited here now.

Reji is a new line of species introduced to NorthWorld by an Engineer who has been meddling with Dragon genes and crossing them with trolls. Things are about to get ugly in this little short read I wrote.

You can also learn more about Dragon Troll here on the blog

Dragon Troll: Synopsis

How would you feel about being saved by someone you mistreated?

Meet Drifa, an old woman raising a mysterious child found in the woods. She only keeps him around because he is still useful after her husband’s death.

The child is small for his size, but still does things that she can’t.

When an old enemy comes looking to collect on a debt, there is no one around to help her, except the boy.

Will he help her or leave her to meet her fate?

After the way she’s mistreated him, she doesn’t hold he breath.

But things don’t turn out at all like she expects in this twist on the ugly duckling story. The young child turns out to be something completely different than anything she or her gossipy old neighbors ever imagined.

Read ‘Dragon Troll’ free on your Kindle Unlimited now >>

My First Death: Smoky Swallow Saga

Hey! Just finishing up with the final touches on a new story. It should be up soon on Amazon. Advanced Reader Copies are available for sponsors on Patreon. Let me know what you think when you read it.

My First Death – Tagline

If you die in the Nevada desert, you may just live to tell the tale.

My First Death – Synopsis

When a semi jackknifes in the Nevada desert just outside of Area 51, a young orphan girl dies in the accident. However, she doesn’t stay dead because someone or something else has other plans for her and brings her back to life. But when the man responsible for the accident shows up with his creepy bosses, Swallow must do whatever it takes to save mankind from certain extinction by putting a stop to the alien forces that drive him by using her newfound alien powers from the alien soul that resurrected her and now possesses her.

My First Death –  Character Synopsis

When Swallow’s parents die, she runs away from her foster home, back to the Nevada desert where she grew up just outside of Area 51. After observing a series of strange explosions in the night, Swallow gets caught up in the drama of a young family caught in the path of a runaway Iron Knight semi chased by evil forces who want the alien cargo. The truck destroys everyone in its path and evil men kill off any remaining survivors.

Something in that cargo though won’t let Swallow stay dead and brings her back to life. Little by little, she discovers strange and unusual powers that she possesses to help herself and those she loves.

However, those same evil beings who caused her accident, want what is inside of her, and will stop at nothing to get it. Can Swallow stay alive long enough to protect those she loves before they remove her power and destroy her along with it?

Questions, comments, or feedback? Talk to me in the comments.

Writing Update: 42 Day Streak & 5,017 New Words

So, today was one of those days where I just didn’t feel like writing. Kept pushing it off. Wrote a little at lunchtime. Then a bit more in the afternoon, but once I got home from work…I started writing like a madman. Managed to crank out 5,017 words today for Kobe & Katrina.

It’s an amazing story. I was shocked when I discovered who one of Kobe’s clients was and how his family got involved in this whole mess. Katrina still hasn’t figured out a way to get them out of this mess.

And we’re already in over 20,000 words for a short story that was supposed to be a quick 1,000-word short story. But this is too interesting of a story to stop now.

Yes, I know! We left old Art hanging back in the middle of Edge 1.4 which I don’t really like doing. But he is just going to have to hang on until we can get back to him. Especially since he is looking for Kobe, at least now we know where the old geezer is hiding and why.

Wow! All I can say is wow! So, let’s get to it. Eh? I don’t want to give away any spoilers of course. But I can’t wait till you get to read this story. I think you are going to love it.

Meantime, I’ve got to go get some shut-eye here. It’s way past my bedtime, and I’ve been hanging onto my desk here for the past hour or so, just to get these character worksheets up that I created today.

And whatever you do kids, don’t go out trying any of these Radical Road Rolls that kids are doing these days.

Writing Update: Kobe & Katrina

Happy Sunday to you all! This was a good week of writing. Wrote 33,372 words. Basically spent it finishing up Edge of the Universe: Season 1 – Episode 3 and then started Episode 4.

I got some really good writing days in with the help of Focusmate, which is great for helping me stay on track with my writing.

I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and I’m in a cabin full of other great sci-fi writers. And I’m already over halfway to my goal in the first week. Wooo hooo! Hope to keep up the pace.

I’ve actually got to write more because I’ll be traveling the last half of this month. So, I’ve got to cram it in now.

I also started writing a short story for the lawyer that Art is looking for in Edge 1.4 because I wanted to understand why Tony tried to kill him.

It was supposed to be something short and quick, but I started writing from Katrina’s point of view. I was instantly captivated and extremely intrigued by the relationship between the two.

And I was absolutely blown away with the whole incident that started this mess.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers of course, so I won’t say much more about it here.

But I can’t wait to share Kobe & Katrina’s story with you.

Writing Update: Edge 4 – Crazy, Narcissistic, Selfish Lovers

Doing a little research here on relationships ending badly for a couple. I’ve been writing a short story about a couple called Kobe & Katrina.

Katrina is a small-time mob boss/hit woman who likes what she does. Learned the trade from her daddy. Took over to avenge his death when her brother was too weak to do anything.

So, she often gets into trouble and needs the help and advice of her lawyer. That would be Kobe. She falls in love with him, but he’s married.

Long story short, he gets himself in a real pickle and needs her help to clean up the mess after someone kills his family for a mistake he made.

Update: This was supposed to be a short story of about 1000 words to get some background on Kobe who pops up in Edge of the Universe – On the Run – Episode 4. But I’m already up over 12,000 now on this backstory. This could become its own book. I’m finding the whole relationship between them really interesting. Hope you enjoy reading it when it’s complete.

Anyway, I was looking for articles about things going bad relationships and how narcissists and selfish lovers feel about getting dumped or put in the friend zone.

Got me to wondering about any interesting experiences that you may have had with crazy, narcissistic, selfish lovers that broke up with you or mistreated you for no reason. Feel free to share in the comments below.

The Hole

He woke up on the solid, cold metal under his body. He rolled over and tried to sit up. But his arms were lashed down. He tugged at them for a few minutes before giving up.

He looked around the room. It was bare. A single lamp hung from the roof. The walls were blank white. He twisted his head to the side and saw a small table. There wasn’t much on it except for a few bottles of white liquid and syringe.

In front of him close door. He listened, but there was only silence. In the distance the faraway hum of an air-conditioner.

He struggled against the lashes on his arms once again. Then tried to roll over to the side, but his legs were lashed down as well. He became furious. He growled in rage.

He thought he heard a noise and stopped struggling to listen. But then nothing. He realized that there was a strange scent in the year. Sweet almost like perfume. He almost seemed to remember something about it, but couldn’t quite put quite put his finger on it.

His body felt hot and tight lashed down against the cold metal. He kicked and thrashed furiously at the lashes on his feet. The string began to loosen and the knots to pull away from the base. Soon he could wiggle his legs.

He began to do the same with his arms. Pushing. Pulling. Soon the ropes began to give way. He heard the knob in the door begin to turn and the door opened. He stopped struggling and closed his eyes. He looked through small cracks in his eyelids to see what they were doing.

The person that entered didn’t even look at him. It was a man in a white lab coat with dark curls on his head. He reached for one of the bottles on the table and left.

As soon as the door closed, he began to struggle again. Pushing and pulling against the ropes. Trying to remember who it was, but he couldn’t. He didn’t seem to have any memories.

He tried to remember his name, but couldn’t. He couldn’t remember anything. He couldn’t even remember his own name.

It seemed like he should be able to remember something. People. Places. Events. But still, there was nothing.

So many concepts of his brain. So many things he was aware of. But nothing personal but related to him and belong to him alone.

Soon he got one hand free and was able to use it to pull off the knots on the other hand. Soon both hands were free. After that, it was a simple matter of loosening the knots on the ropes at his feet.

He stood up. Stretched.

“Where was he? What was this place? What was he doing here?” he questioned

He walked over to the desk and open the drawers. There were three. The top one held basic office supplies. Pens. Glue. Tape. Whiteout. A ruler and stapler.

The second drawer held several files. Three to be exact each with a different name.

Mark. John. Mary.

They didn’t seem familiar. He can remember anyone with those names.

There wasn’t much information on the inside of the files. Just basic data. Height. Weight. Blood type. Eye color. Stuff like that. He wondered if one of them was his. Maybe he could tell if he knew what color his eyes were. He looked around for a mirror to check.

Mark had blue eyes. John had green eyes.

He opened the third drawer. There were several black boxes. He picked one up and opened. There were pills inside of it. He opened another one. The same white pills. He closed the lid and put them back. Then shut the drawer again.

He opened the door a crack and peeked outside. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the hall. He stepped out and started walking toward the far end. There was another door, so he opened it slowly and stepped inside.

He found some clothes on the rack. He put them on. He threw on a white lab coat just like he saw the other man do. He walked out and continued around the corner.

He passed a group of people walking his way and heard one of them asking the other if they had ever seen him before. He looked back, but they didn’t seem concerned.

“Maybe he’s one of the new guys that just got in last week,“ they said, and they kept on walking. He came to a large room with double open doors and continued inside.

There were large sheets of paper hanging down in rows crisscrossing in both directions. He stepped up to look around but couldn’t find any way to see. So he stuck his finger through it and made a hole. Then put his eye to see what was on the other side.

What he saw shocked him.

Hey! Thanks for reading this short story. I’m still figuring out how this character fits into the rest of the Sector Seven and Kylex Lab series, so I don’t want to give anything away about what he sees yet. But you can leave tell us what you think he sees, or even create your own ending for the story in the comments below.

City In The Clouds

Look at the image above of the girl leaning from the cliff toward the clouds and listen to the song ‘Softly, Gently’ by Jon E. Amber while you read this short story.

Sunwhistle stood on the edge. Waiting. It had been a long day. The night would be even longer. She watched as the setting sun illuminated the world around her. Not that she really needed it. She could see just as well at night. Sometimes even better. The sun often glared brightly off shiny objects. Enemies could fly in directly without her seeing them. All they had to do was keep themselves between her and the blinding rays of the sun. Not a problem she ever had at night.

She stood watch over Aereyon. City in the Clouds. Protecting it from her enemies. It was her job. One that she was proud of. But recently, she had become distracted. A small series of events had begun unfolding below her. Normally, she wouldn’t have even noticed. Much less given it any attention. But after hearing some of the stories, she was curious. She wanted to know more.

Her sister would be almost eighteen if the rumors were correct. Two hundred and ten moons ago. A sister born among men. She wondered what her sister would be like. To be honest, she didn’t really even know what humans were like. She never had to deal with them. Many of her people didn’t even believe humans existed at all.

A few of the seekers among her people had gone down long ago into the lower layers of the atmosphere to explore and do some research. But they came back telling terrible tales. The atmosphere was thick and heavy. Oppressive. But the worst part was the humans themselves.

“Monsters,” they said.

Humans had mistreated the seekers. Done terrible things to them. They were fearful. A few seemed to think that the humans simply did not know what to make of them. They referred to them as ‘ghosts.’ It seemed to be what they called the souls of their dead. But they couldn’t understand why humans would think that of them.

They had been hunted. Pursued. Captured. Some had even been killed by the humans.

After that, Aereyons avoided going down there. They were content to leave humans well enough alone. There wasn’t much to learn from them anyway. They were violent, brute beasts that destroyed everything they touched. They consumed their resources trying to transform their world around themselves instead of embracing it as it was.

Every few generations, a few brave seekers returned to the land below to see what had changed and studied their current behavior patterns. But they were much more careful in how they observed humans. Rarely interacting with them. Rarely letting themselves be seen.

She wondered if she would even believe humans existed herself had she not seen them with her own eyes.

Her father had been in one of the most recent exploration parties. He had gone down. Done his research. Brought back his report to the queen. A few days ago, a small party of humans had arrived. Acquaintances of her father from all those moons ago. Somehow, he had maintained contact with them. Supposedly, they came from time to time. But this was the first that she had seen them.

Sunwhistle had been on guard duty that day. Her father had brought them to a meeting with the queen. She could hardly keep from staring. They were so colorful. So, dense. So, solid. She wondered how they could even walk or move around.

After the meeting had ended, she followed them around. Her shift had just ended. Changing of the guards.

While following them, she moved ever closer. Gaining more and more courage. Until soon she was within earshot. She could hear what they were saying. And really, she wasn’t even that close yet. But she didn’t have to be, because their voices were dense too. Harsh. Guttural. The one in the back had a shrill, irritating laugh.

After Sunwhistle’s father had left the group to return home, the humans continued milling about the garden. She pressed in closer. Observing every detail. She wanted to pump her father full of questions.

“I love that man,” the woman with the shrill, irritating laugh said. “He is so charming. I would love to have his babies.”

The woman she was talking to looked after him wistfully but didn’t say a word.

“What?” asked the woman with the shrill, irritating laugh. “Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to either.”

The other looked back at her. Smiled briefly. Shook her head as if she didn’t want to say it, but said it anyway, “I already have. That’s why I come here every year.”

The woman with the shrill, irritating laugh looked at her in shock. “You mean, Joy? But she is already eighteen years old. I thought we only met these Aereyons in the last ten years or so.”

Sunwhistle had been so shocked she almost cried out. The women must have sensed her because they stopped talking and moved away.

She fled back to her room and shut herself up for the next few days. Was it really true? Did she have a sister? A sister who was human?

That was three days ago. Today, she stood watch at her post. But this would be her final time. Tomorrow, she would go down to see the land herself. She would look for this sister.

Yes, it was forbidden. Only the seekers were allowed to go. They had to have special permission from the queen. But she couldn’t bear to get her father in trouble.

She couldn’t wait for the next expedition. Everyone would want to know why she wanted to go. Even if she did wait. The expeditions were only sanctioned every thousand moons.

No, she would go now. She would return with a group of humans. Follow them back to their home. Find this sister. And maybe, even bring her home.

Sunwhistle stood on the edge. Waiting. It had been a long day. The night would be even longer. She lifted herself up off the rock and glided softly, gently back home. Pack her bag. Wait for the humans to return. With her in tow. Softly. Gently.

I didn’t write this short story with any specific goal in mind, although I could definitely see the Aereyans possibly tying in with a part of the Edge of the Universe series. Or even becoming its own, full-blown story about Sunwhistle’s mythical hero journey. Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of her world, and if you’d like more.

Survival Skills

“Hello! Good morning,” he said cheerily.

She smiled and looked back at what she was doing.

He took a deep whiff. It smelled great. He was still full from supper, so he wasn’t exactly starving. But his stomach growled hungrily just because of the time.

Same time he ate breakfast every day. Like clockwork. He never missed breakfast. He could skip lunch if needed or he was really busy. And he often skipped supper. Just part of the way his body was changing.

When he was younger, he never skipped a meal. And he ate like a horse she always said. But over the years he realized he needed to eat less. He often didn’t even feel that great after overeating.

He could pack down ten slices of pizza in a contest against his friends. But now, he felt sick the following day if he ate four. Three was often plenty. Sometimes even two.

It left him feeling disappointed. When he was younger, he didn’t have the money to spend on good food. Now that he was older and had plenty of money to spend on food, his body couldn’t process it as before.

But, he still enjoyed it. Tried to eat healthily. Well, mostly because of her. She always ate eggs and bananas for breakfast. He was a little more liberal with what he ate. He didn’t worry about eating carbohydrates like she did. He didn’t really worry about following a diet anymore, even though he had tried just about all of them at one point or another.

Paleo. Atkins. Five Two. Etc.

Been there. Done that. Never really did much for him anyway. The restrictions always left him feeling hungry and grouchy. He lacked the self-discipline to stick to it and always broke after the first week or so. Then he just binged. Eating worse than he had before starting the diet.

Maybe, he should just go back to living the way his ancestors had as hunters and gatherers. He had heard about people doing that. They held regular nine to five jobs just like everyone else. But they still hunted and cooked their own food before and after work. They tended gardens to grow their own food.

He heard that it was good because they only ate when they had time to hunt or gather stuff. They didn’t worry about eating three square meals a day. “It was a growing tendency,” his friend told him. “You should try it.”

A bunch of his colleagues had done it over the past year on their vacation time. Spent several weeks in the woods, surviving on their skills and wit. He had thought it kind of silly at the time. A bunch of middle-aged men with potbellies running around in the middle of the woods after wild boar and deer. Tending to their tomato gardens trying to coax them into ripening before dark.

But they had come back looking better. Leaner. Stronger. Healthier.

Maybe he should try it too. Maybe they could do it together.

“Hey, Babe! Let’s do that summer of hunting and gathering program I told you some of the boys did last year.”

She looked at him like he was mad. Crazy. Out of his mind.

“Why in the world, would I want to do something like that?” she asked. “That’s a guy thing.”

He shrugged. “I just thought it would be fun. The two of us trying to survive.”

“No, thanks,” she replied. “I survive just fine, right here with shopping malls and nice restaurants.”

“We have to learn how to survive without things, Babe. Just imagine if there’s a zombie apocalypse like on those series that you watch. We have to be prepared.” he said.

She burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” she said still chuckling. “I don’t think those things will ever happen which is why I watch them. But if they did, I wouldn’t last three days without a shopping mall or fine restaurant. I’d rather join the zombie heard then hunt deer and grow tomatoes.”

He didn’t know what to say in reply to that. He just shook his head in wonder.

“But you go on this program with your friends. It’ll be good for you. I’ll stay here and enjoy my malls and restaurants. Who knows? Maybe there will be an apocalypse here soon, and you’ll be prepared to survive and defend me,” she continued with a dramatic gesture of throwing her head back and placing the back of her hand on her forehead. Classic pose of a damsel in distress.

He sighed and pushed his plate back.

“What’s the matter? Aren’t you going to eat your eggs? Wait. They didn’t taste good because you didn’t raise the hens yourself.” she jabbed.

He still didn’t reply. Just smiled through gritted teeth. He was glad she didn’t want to go. It would be hard enough trying to survive in the woods without her jabs and snide remarks. Let alone put up with them when he was hungry. She was ornery enough when everything was going great. Sometimes she even went off on him when he brought back the wrong kind of bread from the supermarket.

“Oh, are you upset, Love?” she asked.

He shook his head.

“Nah, it’s cool. I’m not worried about learning how to survive a zombie apocalypse. I just think it would be a nice adventure.”

Ballad of the Romantic Bank Robber

He needed some cash. He needed it fast. He had found her. The girl of his dreams. He wanted to marry her, and he didn’t want to wait.

He was a good-looking lad. Strong and sturdy. And pure of heart. Brave and true. He was loved by all. And he was extremely intelligent.

Almost too intelligent for his own good. He knew how to get what he wanted. And he got things easily. Almost too easily in fact. He never really had to work for the things he wanted. He grew up just floating through life. Never really having to struggle for anything he wanted.

But after his parents died, everything changed. He no longer had their support. He began to realize that things weren’t always peaches and cream. He had to struggle to survive. He got involved with the wrong people and started doing things that he shouldn’t have.

His very first job was accompanying a group of his new friends on a bank robbery. Of course, he didn’t have to do anything dangerous like carry a gun or enter the bank. All he had to do was drive the getaway car.

He didn’t want to at first. Too dangerous he said. But he needed the cash. And she worked at the bank.

“You’re the key to this operation,” they said and begged and cajoled until he finally agreed. They clapped and cheered and dubbed him the Romantic Bank Robber.

He knew what he was getting himself into. It’s not like he was stupid or anything. But they guaranteed him fifty thousand dollars cash plus a portion of whatever they took from the bank. “It’s a guaranteed deal,” they said. “What could possibly go wrong. Right?”

Of course, he knew that a lot of things could go wrong. Everything could go wrong. Anyone of a million things. One small mistake, and that was it. It was over. He was done for. Finished. Kaput.

Life. In. Prison.

At the very least.

Death.

In the worst case scenario.

No, not worse case. Death wouldn’t be so bad compared to some other options.

A bullet through the spine.

An accident trying to escape.

A wrong turn.

Wrong place at the wrong time.

There were a million and one factors to consider.

He analyzed them all.

Cold. Calculating. Smooth. Criminal.

Even though he wasn’t one himself.

At least not yet.

Not until he committed his first crime.

He acted like he didn’t care. Like he wasn’t paying attention. But he was. Oh, you better believe he was. To everything. Every detail. Every last detail. He took into account all the things they didn’t.

He staked the bank out for a week before. Looked over blueprints. Checked out the guards. Security cameras. Times.

He opened an account. Got to know the tellers. At the bank where she worked. Took her out for coffee every day at ten. Knew he wanted to marry her. And proposed.

“What if do something bad and go to jail,” he asked after she accepted and said yes.

She thought long and hard. Hesitated. Unsure. He didn’t like it. Not one bit.

“Listen,” he said after their second coffee date. “There’s this thing I’m doing. It’s a one time deal. I’m only doing it for the money. Once I’m done, we can get married. But if something bad happens and I get busted, everything is off.”

“What’s going on,” she asked, but he refused to tell her.

“How can I commit to you if you’re keeping secrets?” she asked.

“I love you,” he said. ” And I don’t want you to get hurt. If you knew what was going down, you might use it against me.”

“Then don’t do it. I want you safe.”

“I gotta do this. For the money. For myself. To prove that I’m a man. How can I take care of you if I don’t work for it.”

“I have money,” she said. “I can take care of us until you get settled and find a good job.”

But he refused. Refused her offer. Her offer to stay out of this mess. But he was in too deep. He almost accepted. He wanted to accept. He wanted to let go. Walk away. Stay safe. Play it safe. Take the easy way out.

But he was in too deep. It was go time. He couldn’t back out now. He couldn’t back out on his friends at the last minute. It wouldn’t be right for them. It wouldn’t be safe for them. They would do it anyway. With or without him. He didn’t want to leave them hanging.

Yes, he knew it was dangerous. Yes, he knew it was wrong. But he felt that this was the right thing for him to do. The right thing for everyone involved. The right thing for everyone except her.

Because if things went south, he would get what he deserved. But she would suffer along with them. Suffer innocently. Suffer for his sake because she was now a part of his life.

“Look, Baby,” he said the night before it all went down. “Tomorrow morning, I’m gonna head out early. I may not see you. Not ever. Maybe never again. So, if anything happens to me, I want you to know that I love you. Love you deeply. Love you with all my heart. This thing that I do, I do it for you. If everything works out and goes as planned. I’ll be your man. I’ll do whatever I can to make you happy. To make you glad.”

“Oh, I know, honey. I love you too. I just wish you would tell me what it is that you gotta do. I’d do it with you. I’d go with you. To the ends of the earth. Even Timbuktu.”

“Listen, Baby. I don’t want you to go to work tomorrow. Just stay home. Call in sick. Tell them you can’t make it. Tell your boss to replace you.”

“Why?” she asked. “I don’t understand. I wish you would tell me. Just be a man about it.”

He hummed and hawed. He made up several excuses, but he knew they wouldn’t hold water. She was smarter than him. She could see right through him. In the end, he just asked her to trust him.

“If this thing goes down like I think it will, I may have to skip town and find a place to chill till it all blows over, and things settle down.”

She said she would. She said she’d stay home. And when she lay down, he stayed by her side, holding her hand, stroking her long, red curls.

It was a long night. One of the longest he’d ever remembered. Time dragged on. The minutes slowed. As he worried, thought things through, and went over every last detail before the sun came up.

When she woke up, he was gone. He had already left. There was a rose on her bed and note by the door.

“I love you,” it said with words scribbled in blue.

She smiled and tucked it into her pocket. Made coffee and toast. Threw her feet up on the table. And waited for her love to come home.

A little before eight, she made her way to the phone. Called her boss, and told him that she would stay home.

He threw a fit. Begged and pleaded. Told her he needed her to do just one thing. When she refused, he threatened and tried to cajole her every possible way.

“Just come in today. For a meeting at nine. Janice is sick and can’t make it. Take her place. Cover for her. Once it’s done, you can be back home by ten to do your thing. Have your fling. I really don’t care. Just don’t leave me hanging like this. Come in today, and you can have the next three off.”

She remained steadfast. Refused to head in. Laid in her bed, drinking her gin.

“I know you’re not sick. I’ve seen you with that dude, laughing over coffee, at your break at ten. Speaking of him, I just saw him outside just sitting in his car. I think he’s waiting for you. Or maybe not. There was another woman in the car with him.”

“What?” she screamed. “Why that dirty, low-down, no-good, egg-sucking, biscuit-eating, piece of trash. He’s a dog, I tell you. All men are alike. I thought he was different.”

“I’m going,” she thought. “And I’ll give him a piece of my mind on my way in.”

She called her boss and let him know that she was coming in, “I took some aspirin. I feel a bit better. I don’t want to leave you hanging.”

Her boss was tickled pink and thanked her profusely.

She threw on a new yellow blouse that her boyfriend had given her and marched down to the bank on the corner of Jefferson and Tenth Avenue.

Just before she arrived at nine, he pulled up to the bank and dropped off his friends.

“Make it snappy,” he said. “In and out. Don’t shoot anyone. The guns are just for show.”

After they entered the bank, she came walking by. She looked him in the eye and shook her head. Angrily. Furious. If looks could kill.

He shook his head. Willing her not to enter.

But she pranced on by. Defying him. Daring him to stop her.

He jumped out of the car. He ran to her. “Wait. Don’t go in there. It’s not safe.”

“Where is she?” she screamed. “Is it Janice or Brenda. Is that why you told me not to come to the bank today.”

“Look, just get in the car. I can explain everything.”

“I can’t. I’m late for a meeting. I have a client at nine.”

“There is no meeting. There is no client. You can’t go in there right now. The bank is shut down.”

“What? Of course, it’s not. Why do you lie? Do you always lie? Let me go. Let me go.”

She turned to run to the bank just as friends came running out. She froze when she saw them. Ski masks. Guns. Bags of money.

She turned slowly. Shocked. Disappointment. Sadness.

“You used me. You didn’t care about me. You just wanted me to get into the bank. This was all I lie.”

She slapped him. She reached in her pocket to pull out the note. Put her hand down to her side. Pulled it out. Pulled back.

His friend. The one with the sawn-off shotgun didn’t hesitate. Saw the woman screaming. Attacking his driver. The red-head reaching for her waist. Pulling back. And it was instinctive. His friend didn’t think. Just reacted. Pulled the trigger.

Her lover watched her pull the note from her pocket. Stretch it out in his direction. Watched the red stains pepper her blouse. Her new yellow blouse. The blouse he had given her.

The note slipped from her fingers. Slipped from her lifeless grasp as she took her last and final breath. Eyes widen in shock one last time. Falling into his arms. Looking into his eyes as he laid her down.

And the note blew away. Blew down the sidewalk. Sliding across the cold, hard ground that she lay on herself.

He froze. Stopped. Watched slack-jawed. Eyes roving wildly. Unable to function. Held her in his arms. Her red curls still blowing gently in the wind. The red stains still spreading across her yellow blouse.

Saw her boss. Standing at the door. Smiling. Waving. Speaking. “The way of the wicked leads only to death. The path of the unrighteous heads down the pit.”

He stood. Rising. Fury. Horror. Wrath. Possessing him. Flowing through his body. Tense with adrenaline. Fight or flight. The world spinning madly around him. Slow motion. Sound distorted. Without thinking. Simply reacting. Reaching out. Grabbing the shotgun. Ramming the butt of it back into the face of his old friend. Yanking it from his hands. Spinning it around. Firing. Killing them all. One by one. It was their fault. They had talked him into him. He hadn’t backed out because of them. And this was how they treated him. Killing his girl. His beautiful redhead. The love of his life.

He reloaded. Walked to the bank. The manager backed up. Smile wiped from his face. Replaced by horror. Dread.

“We have more money in the back. There’s an extra safe. Take it all.”

“Money?” he asked. “Money can’t buy love. Money can’t bring my girl back from the grave.”

“Please,” the manager pleaded. “I’m righteous. I’ve never anything bad.”

“Neither have I,” he replied. “But the righteous and the unrighteous all die alike. They all end up together. In the end. Together. In the ground.”

He didn’t think. Didn’t think twice. Didn’t think at all. Just pulled the trigger. Watched the red stains flow and grow. Match the patterns on her yellow blouse. All of them blooming like red roses. Growing in the spring. Blooming. Blossoming. Growing quickly and then fading away slowly.

He threw the bags in the car. He started the engine.

“Sorry, Baby. You should have stayed home. I tried to warn you.”

Sirens screaming. Choppers whirring. Tires squealing. A race for his life. Little caring for the outcome. Come what may. Good or bad, it was all the same. The only thing that mattered was gone. The only person who mattered had left him. He drove around the city all day. Stopping once or twice to fill up. To grab a bite. To have a drink.

At the end of the day, he was all alone. In the end, had only himself. He no longer had the girl. He didn’t need the cash. The money was useless to him now. The bank robbery nullified the very reason he wanted to participate in the first place.

He drove down to the outer edges of the city. To the parks on the edge of town. The place where the homeless slept and stashed their stuff. Where normal upright citizens feared to walk during the day. Much less at night.

He walked along, handing out wads of cash. Some dumb bum tried to rob him. Big mistake. He gave the bum the bag with one hand. Shot him with the other. Continued walking. Handing out wads of cash. When he had finished, he had enough cash for another tank of gas and three days of eating.

After that, he’d have to get a new job. But that would be enough time to grieve. To attend her funeral. To tell her good-bye. To tell himself goodbye. Because he was no longer the same person. Everything was different. Everything had changed. He had changed. He was no longer the same.

The Romantic Bank Robber was bitter and jaded. All glitter had faded.

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