I am really proud of the cover. I think it turned out really nice. Even though the book is not highly rated, it is still one of more popular books. I think it is because the stories are in the mystery genre.
I thought at one point, I was going to be a mystery writer, but that has changed. I feel my strength as a writer falls into somewhere in speculative fiction spectrum. I am happy with writing the bizarre and the speculative from horror to science fiction to hybrids.
Here is a free sample from the book. It is one of my favorite stories from the collection. It is a little long, coming in about 1800 words.
Jealous Lovers and Cheating Wives
Our relationship, if you want to call it that, started in school. All of us back then wanted to change the world. We wanted to be with any insect we wanted. The others were too scared to take the leap but not Cricket. She took me, a lighthouse in the night, to the prom. Sure the others stared but soon everyone got over it and insects dated and married anyone they wanted.
Cricket and I started as a protest but we grew to something more. She wanted me to marry her and I said I am not a one insect kind of guy. Sure she was a little hurt and our relationship remained platonic and sexual, even when she dated and married Andy Dirtloader, a strong hard working ant.
She had a great husband; he treated her like a goddess. In all fairness, he deserved better because while he gave her the world she was over at my place sharing an afternoon delight.
I didn't think it was odd when she flitted in that sunny August afternoon. I went to her and tried kissing her neck. She shoved me away.
"Sam, Andy's gone," she bawled
"Aw what do you care anyway? You always thoughts of yourself as my girl," I shot back at her.
"Sam, I do love him just I'm not passionate about him like I am with you."
I grabbed her hand; I wanted her so bad, "show me how passionate you are, baby."
Cricket broke free, "Sam, I'm serious. You've got to help me at least help the kids."
I pulled away and sat at my desk, "Okay Cricket, what's going on?"
She sat in the chair across from me and pulled out a piece of paper. "Look I was on my way to see you for some fun when I saw this note taped on the inside of the garage door." Cricket laid the note on my desk.
The calligraphic handwriting stood out and the tone was formal. It read Dear Mrs. Cricket Dirtloader, It is wise if you want to see you husband alive and in one piece then you will fetch your boyfriend and go to the telephone on 23rd street. Make sure to arrive before 3 pm and wait for a call. You will answer the phone. Thank You. No one signed the note.
"Did you tell anyone about us?" I interrogated her.
"Damn Sam. My husband is kidnapped and you're worried about us?" she snapped.
"Look Cricket, obviously someone knows." I looked at my watch, 2:30 pm. Opening the desk drawer, I pulled out a freshly polished Lucy and holstered it. I handed Cricket some shells, "put these in your purse. We may need them."
I looked her over, her chest rose and fell rapidly, her body trembled and she had sad eyes. I came around the desk took her into my arms and whispered, "One last time baby and we'll never be together again." She relented.
With minutes to spare we made it to the pay phone and waited.
I've waited lots of times often with a camera in hand, waiting for cheating husbands or wives and their fling. The bulk of my work was because of infidelity not just from couples but all partnerships. Women, at times, were vulnerable and needy after I told them the truth. I reaped the benefits of money and a quick roll in the hay.
Perhaps I screwed some guy's wife and now he found out and wanted revenge. But to go to this much trouble? Why couldn't he just bust into my office and beat me like some other's done? So why Cricket? Whoever behind this watched me for a long time and just knew out of all the women that came and went, Cricket always came. And someone knew I loved her but why not take Cricket, why take Andy?
As I wrapped my brain around the why and who, the phone rang. Cricket answered. She uttered, "Hello" and said no more then hung up. She turned, looking at me.
"Well?" I asked
"We have to go to 54th street to another pay phone in five minutes."
"Is that it? What did the voice sound like?"
"It was a woman's voice very prim and proper. She asked if my boyfriend was beside me."
"What she didn't use my name? Maybe you have another lover. Why not? Because you are woman with out scruples."
"How dare you say that? Sam, you are the only one for me. I'm not a hussy." Her scorned eyes burned my soul.
We took off into the wind. I often thought Cricket had someone else especially after she walked in on Lola and me. Lola, a monarch, hired me to chase her husband, a gypsy moth. I called her and showed hundreds of pictures of him and his floozy firefly. Lola cried and smashed some glasses. I consoled her. She shoved me to the bed. Spiteful fire grew in her eyes, she said, "If he can have a firefly, so can I."
Lola spent the night. When Cricket opened the door, an argument erupted and I didn't see her for weeks. I wanted to tail Cricket just because I missed her and I didn’t want her sleeping around, but I didn't. After we made up, she'd come then go; before Lola, she used to spend hours with me. I never asked her and then one day she was mine again. I saw enough cheating to know the signs.
In some wicked way we were committed to each other even though we had other people.
We made it to the phone just as the phone screamed. Again Cricket answered.
"Now we wait," she panicked.
"Wait for what?"
"The voice just said to wait."
We sat on the bench. I grabbed her hand. I expected her to pull away but instead squeezed it.
"Do you have any idea who did this?" Cricket asked.
"None, it could be anyone. Maybe it is someone who wants you and figures if me and Andy are out of the picture, you can be his," I conjectured.
"Andy's never in the way. He is the perfect husband."
"So why do you come to me?" I asked.
"Are you complaining?"
"No just wondering."
"I love you and what we have. Andy gives me other things that a girl wants tenderness, a nice home and love,” she said.
"You know I do. I just thought you'd deserve better than a bug who unzips his pants every chance he gets."
"Maybe I do, maybe I don't." I kissed her head.
I don't remember anything until I woke up, tied to a chair in a bright room. A large ant saw me stir and called for Andy. Andy?! Cricket sat untied and motionless on a chair.
Andy stormed into the room, "Sam, you are the biggest sleaze ball."
At the sound of his voice, Cricket awoke, "Andy you're okay." She ran to him.
"Cut the crap, Cricket," he said, pushing her away. "I know all about you and the firefly. You told me it was over between you and him." He laughed. "Old Sam thinks he's the best in the business but Carmine out does him any day."
"What's it that you want?" I asked.
"Your head on a platter so I may have my wife back. Every god damn person knows about this affair you have with her. How long has it been going on ten years? Carmine, give my wife the folder."
The large ant reappeared and handed Cricket a thick folder. She opened it. Without seeing the contents, I knew it had to be pictures of every woman I was with. Tears welled up in her eyes with each picture and let them fall to the floor.
"That's right Cricket," Andy sneered. "Like he'd ever be good to you. Look at those women. I should've done this sooner because remember the butterfly. You were so devoted to me, Cricket. Then… Carmine give our dear public dick his folder."
Carmine laid a folder on my lap and opened it to photos of Cricket with other men, two men to be exact.
"Cricket, is that all bullshit you told me?" I screamed at her.
"Shut up Sam, you have no room to talk. What did you do have a woman right after you had me?" She yelled back.
"You already knew who I am, Cricket. I just didn't see a need to tell you and rub your face in it.” My gaze shifted toward Andy, “what do you want from me?"
Andy pulled a gun, "Well Sam, it looks like the only loser here is you."
He pulled the trigger. I tried wiggling free and I couldn’t. I always kind of figured I would go like this. But then Cricket jumped in between me and the bullet. She fell to the ground her sweet blood spraying over me like a sad ocean.
Dropping the gun, Andy ran to her sobbing, "Cricket. Cricket, honey wake up. I'm so so sorry." I knew she was dead. Andy got up and staggered to the gun, picked it up and pulled the trigger once more. Carmine and I stared at each other.
She cried. She loved Andy. She went over to him and cradled his head in her arms. It probably started as businesses, as years went by she developed feelings for him. I don't know if he ever gave her hope that there could be more. Andy couldn't let go of Cricket and Cricket couldn't let go of me. And here we were two lonely PI's with our sweet lovers laying dead on the floor.
"Carmine, untie me and you go. I won't mention you were here." Carmine untied me. On her way out she bent down and kissed Andy good-bye. Once I felt Carmine was long gone. I called the police and watched the coroner cover Cricket and take her away.
As I sit here, writing my tale, I think of her everyday. I look up from my desk and hope she comes through the door. Women come and go, now it's only business instead of taking my clients to bed, I take them home and wish them good luck. There hasn't been anyone since Cricket. I just can't do it. I wonder if Carmine feels the same. Maybe I should call her.