Sleepers (Part 3)

By Sidney Williams

This is part three of a four-part serial published July 10-31 2014. The rest of the story can be found here.

Renalda Coates managed a hair bar—stark white interiors over a hardwood floor in Islington. Stylists aimed blow dryers, taming miles of hair while she hovered near a desk where a clerk worked a phone.

“We can do a beautiful job with those locks, Luv. What would you like?”

Aubrey smiled. “They told me you’re Renalda.”

“Right. Can I help you?”

“I’m curious about Casbah and your grandfather.”

Her features went through a moment of denial.

“Anything I ever posted about that blasted show was a warning. I don’t know how you tracked me down…”

“A warning’s what I’m interested in,” Aubrey said. “Is there somewhere…?”

Minutes later they were in a booth at an internet café a few doors away. More chai, these cups sweet and fiery hot.

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Sleepers (Part 2)

By Sidney Williams

This is part two of a four-part serial published July 10-31 2014. The rest of the story can be found here.

She answered the knock that came a shower and make-up touch up later, adjusting her robe’s neckline to make sure it didn’t conceal too much.

“Welcome back. Glad you’re still on duty.”

“I work most weekdays. We trade off on weekends.”

He gestured to his side, to a woman with skin as smooth and bronze as his, large black eyes and hair equally dark and glossy.

“This is Hadia. An apprentice with me today.”

Aubrey felt her smile fade as her cheeks flushed. She gave a cool hello then found her glass and a formal tone.

“Knots in neck and back if you could help with those.”

She watched him set up the table, watched his biceps and forearms ripple with the effort. Her skin warmed in spite of Hadia’s presence.

“Ready,” Hadia said.

“Would you put this somewhere handy?” she asked as she slipped out of her robe, hoping the look was tantalizing and frustrating since Baraz’d brought the chaperone.

“If you’ll lie face down,” he said.

She complied, and he touched her calves first with the backs of his hands, almost a teasing caress.

“Progress today?”

“Strange. I met a rather odd little man who used to work in the theater. I thought he might have some leads, but it didn’t work out.”

“Did you have any success?” Hadia asked as she watched from beside the table. With a glance Aubrey took in her beauty, white tee and crisp shorts hugging her form, her hair tied back.

Didn’t seem prudent to mention the discovered page, but Baraz’s palms glided across her flesh, moving to the tops of her thighs, brushing against her ass. Something inside relaxed even as little waves of pleasure rippled to her core.

“A partial on what I was looking for.” She wasn’t supposed to say that. “Not a complete song, just the middle page.”

“Intriguing, though. A portion could be played, give you the tune, no?”

“A start.” The last word slid out in a sigh. “Can you go higher? I spent a lot of time sitting on the Underground today.”

“Perhaps Hadia’s touch would be helpful.”

Before Aubrey could protest, the girl’s palms were moving up her legs. But she didn’t have time to analyze. Her thoughts blurred as those wonderful hands began kneading, brushing under the sheet, leaving the tops of her thighs behind.

Was there another question about the music from one of them? Were they working for a competitor or for Amil? Did she answer?

Aubrey’s face pressed the table as her breaths came in slower measures. Her eyes closed tight. Electric ripples of pleasure coursed through her. Both sets of hands were on her, and the girl’s waist-length hair spilled free.

For a while she could forget about everything.

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Sleepers (Part 1)

By Sidney Williams

This is part one of a four-part serial published July 10-31 2014. The rest of the story can be found here

“The client wants assurances the sheet music from Casbah will be in his hands this week.”

Amil Bera’s accent became more pronounced as his agitation rose.

“Why the hell else is he funding a trip to London, he asks me. So, now I ask you.”

Aubrey Slater kept her voice calm and even. “I’ve been all over Kensington and Chelsea, Amil. Part of Camden. My back aches and my feet are throbbing.”

“And for this you have nothing to show?”

Aubrey sipped from the dram of Glenfiddich she’d poured to temper the sense of urgency born with Amil’s “please call” message. Just one, she’d told herself. One.

She put the hotel glass next to the only thing she had to show for her slog, a little covered jar that had once been used to hold sterile cotton balls on the makeup table of one West End actress or another.

Or at least that’s what she’d tell Delilah when she offered it as souvenir of the London adventure.

“I have a lot of shops lined up for tomorrow. Something will turn up.”

EBay and Craigslist have brought a lot of forgotten items out of closets and attic corners, but some collectibles required a hard target search through old shops and flea markets. A few disorganized shopkeepers and auction houses still have treasures, called sleepers, nestled away, forgotten, un-cataloged, and, most importantly, not recognized for their value.

Enter Amil Bera and Bera Imports. For a select clientele i.e. those willing to throw wads of cash, Amil dispatched emissaries for the hard-to-find items. Emissaries such as Aubrey who had discovered she possessed a bit of sixth sense for such matters.

She had no idea what made the music for the final song of the first act of the forgotten musical Casbah so important, but for Amil finding the elusive collectable meant that more business would flow from this middleman who’d approached him, a broker for a number of exclusive collectors

“Tomorrow will have to be better, or perhaps I will need to find someone better,” Amil said. “If your back aches, get a massage, my dime, then go find the music.”

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Flooding

By Matt Galletta

Kate was on top of me, pressing down on my chest, and it felt like my lungs were going to collapse. It made me think of deep sea divers swimming around under tons of ocean. If they come up too fast, their lungs can pop from the change in water pressure.

Her hands were touching my hair. We were on her couch, which was made of some kind of scratchy material that chafed the back of my neck. The couch faced the TV, which was showing a newscaster in a rain-slicker. He was babbling about the hurricane. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but there was a news update scrolling along the bottom of the screen.

“While the city remains relatively unharmed,” it read, “the areas surrounding it are experiencing major flooding.” Continue reading

Telling You

By ReBecca Compton

I was fourteen when my grandfather bought me a Furby. I was too old for them and they weren’t really popular anymore, but even though he didn’t smile as I pulled it out of the Walmart bag, he looked so proud of himself. The way he crossed his arms and nodded to me when I thanked him, I knew he believed this would make me happy. I carried it with me around the house for the next few months. I didn’t expect any of my friends to understand him, and that’s ok because they didn’t need to.

He wouldn’t have cared.

He worked for the city’s utilities, and when he walked through the kitchen on his way to the couch, I’d hum The Song of the Sewer. He’d pretend not to hear, but I’d caught him smiling once. He liked that, when I teased him. Maybe it reminded him of my father in a way, though from what I understood Grandpa watched him from afar too. Continue reading

This Word Is Body

By Harmony Button

There is a certain horror to the ordinary. Every day, we force ourselves to do things that go against the messages of the body. I watch the nurse turn towards me, needle in her hand. She swabs my inner arm and I look away. Run! says the body. Bite and fight! But instead, I stare at a spot on the wall and try to count to ten.

The nurse tries to make conversation. I can’t remember what comes after three.

“So, are you married?”

I tell her the truth: I am not.

“Just having fun, then,” she says, drawing the blood.

This woman does not know me. Everything about what’s happening is wrong. I need out of this immediately, and my body pulls the ripcord.

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Nancy Ryan Keeling

Nancy Ryan Keeling is a Diet-Coke freak hitchhiking through life on lies & caffeine.  During her life in Itazuke, Japan, she began an affair with photography.   Once it snowed tumbleweeds. That’s when she learned to always carry a loaded camera!