Everyone who reads this piece asks if it’s true. Thankfully, no. The story is fictional and was originally submitted to Reflex Fiction for a contest. It didn’t win, but they were moved by it and decided to publish it anyway.
The idea for this humorous short story was already in place. What was missing was the movie star; someone well known and famous. To be honest, I don’t know if Nicole Kidman is as temperamental as she comes across in the story. When writing it I had just watched one of her movies on Netflix and decided she would be perfect. I even make a cameo appearance as “the writer.” This story was originally published by CommuterLit in January 2019.
Nicole Kidman’s Shoes
by DL Shirey
The day of the screen test, Gary got up early. He was so excited, sleep had evaded him most of the night. It had been a good eighteen months since he had made the decision to take Hollywood by storm. The classes, the training and creating the perfect look, all of it was going to pay off today.
When Gary’s feet hit the upstairs floor Wanda barked. She was always excited to see Gary, no matter the day. She didn’t know this one was circled on the calendar. And Gary started the morning like any other, giving the dog a good brushing and a big bowl of kibble.
As he put on the florid purple jacket, Gary couldn’t decide if he felt a fool for agreeing to the attire or for his dreams of stardom. Either way, he was immediately bolstered by a happy bark.
“That’s my good Wanda. Who’s my best girl? What is it you want to do today my sweet, my bestest girl? Go for a ride?”
Two vacations lent significant portions to this piece of fiction. The church came from Santa Fe, NM. The musicians came from Austin, TX. Together they formed the backbone of this tale. Although it strays from my usual speculative style, I think it’s one of my better stories. It was published in October 2018 by Wild Musette Journal for their “Vegetable Pulp” issue.
On the Flame of One Candle
by DL Shirey
Shrine. Perhaps too big a word for such a small saint, but people passing through Austin know where to find her. The table is wedged into a narrow notch at the dark end of the spare, little church, next to the storage closet.
As he does each morning before unlocking the doors, Carlo runs a feather duster along the wooden frame bolted to the wall above the table. It’s a reproduction of a fifteenth-century portrait: a woman finely dressed, hair pulled up and garnished with flowers. Dainty fingers lay on her viola strings, a look of serenity on her face as if she just heard something heavenly.
This is an essay wrapped in a short story. In my opinion, important life choices should not be determined by anyone except the person making the choice. Assisi Terminal was first formed way back when after seeing the movie Soylent Green. There’s this scene near the end with Edward G. Robinson and he decides to go to… Wait, that would be a spoiler. Read this and then go watch the movie.
According to the character in this story “if you can find a refuge away from the world, where people know you, where you feel comfortable enough to be yourself, that can be family enough.” For him that might be a comforting statement, but the place where he finds it is anything but comfortable.
A toast to Yellow Mama, the webzine that first published the tale back in December 2018.
All You Can Drink $5.00
by DL Shirey
I did a double-take at the sign on the door, to make certain I’d read it correctly. Who could blame me for checking, given my lousy day so far? I’d lost a good account, my phone died and I was stuck in a strange town overnight with nothing but a cut-rate motel room in my immediate future. Cheap drinks sounded like a good way to end a bad business trip.
I reached for the door handle when a man crashed through. Clearly drunk, he staggered forward, trying not to lose his footing. He was dressed as I was, in a blue suit and tie; but that’s where the similarities ended. He looked twenty years my senior and his suit had scuffs and stains, the sleeves and cuffs worn to frays. He hadn’t shaved in days.
Wild eyes met mine and his mouth unhinged to speak. Then a bull of a man shouldered through the door and grabbed the man by the collar.
“I’ll show you how to finish what you started,” Bull snorted.
Horror Tree is a valuable resource for authors of speculative fiction, with news and information about publishers and markets. They also post writers’ stories in the editor’s weekly column, Trembling With Fear. In December 2018 they published my short story “Faithful,” a tale of technology being used in the wrongest way possible.
by DL Shirey
The first blue of morning came before Lowell looked at the sky outside his window. The phone in his hand lit in azure, prompting the middle-aged man to get out of bed. His fingers were combing back the memory of hair when the white letters appeared on the blue background:
Lowell swept his legs out from under the sheet and placed his feet onto polished oak, feeling the cold wood floor. His new morning ritual was all about feeling, connecting to his emotions and embracing what the daily word truly meant. Be in the moment, the Master had said, feel this moment. But all Lowell could feel now was a scratching need for coffee and the chill of a bachelor’s bedroom before the heater kicked in.
In this story, an intriguing character named Alice has a disturbingly peculiar talent. I always thought she might make an appearance in another story. If she does, remember, you saw her here first.