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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 25, 2013 - 1:19pm

Nice!

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 6:58am

Real quick, I want to just try to pick 5 stories that were maybe my favorite. This whole collection was awesome. But don't Robb and Liv usually do something like this when they review collections on the podcast? I'm doing this based solely on looking back over the TOC and the 5 that I remember the most vividly - that stuck with me. I'm sure after I flip through the book I'm going to be kicking myself for not picking other ones. So here goes:

Fred Venturini  - Pound of Flesh
Todd W Brown - Faces on the Milk Carton
Nikki Guerlain - Children of the Wetlands
David James Keaton - Dragon by the Dumpster
Pela Via - The Donna Motels

Okay, that was tough. I originally had 11 listed... But really every story in here killed it. I could do an "honorable mentions" or something, but then I'd just be relisting the TOC.

Over the course of today - I'm going to try and post a thought or two about each story. The month is over, but the discussion doesn't have to be. And it took me longer to finish this than I meant it to - so please discuss with me!

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 6:57am

A Pound of Flesh by Fred Venturini

In the beginning of this story, I was like - where is this going? But things change pretty quick. I mean, there's a reason I still remember this story so vividly even though it was the first in the collection (and I last read it over a month ago). This is like Jack Ketchum at his best. I haven't cringed this much in a story since The Girl Nextdoor. So I guess there's a reason that everybody said - woah! Fred's story? right?

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 7:06am

The Confession of Adelai Shade by Craig Clevenger

Weren't there a lot of surprises in this collection?

It was said earlier, Craig surprised me with the voice in this one. And it was so distinct, I heard it in my head right from the first few words. I guess, I always think of Clevenger as The Contortionist's Handbook. But, man, I can't wait for Mother Howl now (that's what it's still called, right?). Really though, this was totally different than any of his other short stories that I've read. He sure can craft some good lines. And get a lot down with so few words.

"Means whatever he was last thinking probably landed six feet behind him, dripping out of his cap."

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 7:20am

California Oregon by Cameron Pierce

When I see stories written with footnotes or "skip to page 20," I get anxiety because I feel like I'm going to miss something. House of Leave was torture for me that way (even though I love that book).

So I decided to read it straight through. Not sure how Cameron meant for it to really be read, but it worked. And it worked really well. I'm not sure I believe in fate, but sometimes I feel like life really does work this way. You have a certain personality and you're just going to draw certain things into your life no matter what decisions you make. So well done.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 7:39am

Scenes From the City of Garbage and the City of Clay by Paul Tremblay

This story was way stranger than I was expecting. Every time I read a short story by Paul, I always remind myself that I really need to get to one of his novels. I have The Little Sleep sitting on my shelf. It's been there for years now! His writing is tight. And he can take such a weird and off the wall story and draw you in and have you believing everything that is happening like it's completely normal. Obviously that's the way things happened.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 9:12am

The Removal Kind by Caleb J Ross

This story reminded me of Caleb's other story (available as a kindle download), The Lipidopterist. I mean, the tone was different though. But it just brought me back to listening to him read that on the Booked. podcast. In The Removal Kind, it feels kind of nervous? I just felt on edge while reading it. Such a weird story. But with Caleb's writing, is was done so well as usual. I like that for most of the story, we're left feeling as clueless as the main character. She doesn't know exactly what's going on and we know even less.

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Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore November 1, 2013 - 9:45am

Ditto on the Tremblay. That might've been my favorite story—certainly one of them—and I've got one or two of his needing attention in my Kindle.

And Caleb's, I think "Removal" is pretty indicative of his style, the grotesque meshing with relationship stuff, making for a good gateway if you haven't read him before. And you should. Seriously, I'll wait; get on that.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 10:04am

I've read As a Machine and Stranger Will. I've been holding onto Didn't Mean to Be Kevin for a while now. ;)

With Caleb - most of his stories are about family issues and relationships. It's funny because in the beginning of this story, I was thining that maybe he's branching away from that.

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Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 1, 2013 - 10:16am

Pick up IN THE MEAN TIME by Tremblay. Excellent stories.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 10:27am

Will do!

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 11:00am

To the Bone by Seth Harwood

The characters in this story, man, I just wanted to grab every fucking one of them and shake them saying - what the fuck is wrong with you!? Right? I mean, this was a crime story, but parts of it read like horror. These people. It was believable. There are probably families out there acting like this. Wasn't that basically what the Hatfield and McCoys were doing? Solid, emotion filled writing though. I was drawn into this one from the beginning. Seth is another one that I want to keep my eyes open for. I'll be reading more of his stuff.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 11:07am

Think Tank by Craig Wallwork

See, this is the reason I was trying not to read too many stories in one day. I read Think Tank right after reading Seth's story and then read the next story after that. So I forgot about this story when I was doing my first post above.

Now I don't remember exactly, but is this one of the only stories with elements of sci-fi?

I really liked this story a lot. And it would have made that top 5 list. I don't know what I would have bumped though. But I think this one would have been in there. From the first line, I had to finish this story in one go.

"The first time I met my father he was nine years old."

And later when that sentence comes back around...

I like that so many of the authors in this collection wrote things totally different than I was expecting them to write. Any of you guys that participated in the discussion for Craig's book, The Sound of Lonliness, know what I'm talking about. Two totally different styles here.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 11:13am

Manger Dog by Mark Rapacz

Again, this was in that bunch that I read all back-to-back. So I had to flip through this story to remember bits of it. But I remember thinking when I read it the first time that the main character, Hal, he's like in his own world. The expression "miss the forest for the trees" applies to him. He's so obsessed that he doesn't see the other stuff happening in his life. And he's striving for some weird perfecting in his woodworking, so he's never moving forward and always standing still.

For a story where not much happens, I really enjoyed this one.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 11:17am

Faces on the Milk Carton by TW Brown

I loved this story. This story might have been my favorite in the collection, which is funny because I don't think anybody else really said much about it. I think it was just the creep factor. And everything was just so well thought out. He took all those little things that happen in our lives, that we brush off as nothing, and he took credit for them.

In Orthodox Christianity, we believe that you get a guardian angel when you get baptized. And he stays with you always. That always was weird to me because I do a lot of things that I don't want somebody to watch me doing.

This story made me feel the same way.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 12:15pm

The Mulligan by Joshua Alan Doetsch

I think the name Doetsch is one of those names that is impossible to remember how to spell without looking it up. I haven't been able to do it once yet.

I think with this story, it was kind of like what Amanda said. This little kid saying all of these horrible things in such an innocent voice. And the repititon. Man, it just gets to you. I really liked this story and it almost made my top 5. It was one of the ones I deleted to get down to 5.

If you liked this story, you will love Doetsch's book, Strangeness in the Proportion. You can buy it through the publisher. The ebook is only $5. I highly recommend it (as do the Booked. crew). It was one of the best books I read last year.

http://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/96994/Strangeness-in-the-Proportion

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 12:45pm

Your Savior by Axel Taiari

Well this answers one of my questions above. Here's another story with some sci-fi elements.

Axel's story in Warmed and Bound was one of my favorites from that collection. And this one is another good one. I love how slowly everything is revealed here. I love stories like this. About some weird mechanical problem in the future. Artificial Intelligence screwing us over in the end. I'm sure, realistically, that really will end up being our downfall.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 12:58pm

Children of the Wetlands by Nikki Guerlain

When I think of Nikki Guerlain, I think of stories like The Tube Top Shebop Tang Yeah Woo.

You know, stories that are weird, yet funny. Stories that are light reading, but extremely imaginative and entertaining.

And then this story... I'm sure she has other stories this morbid, dark, emotionally charged, but I haven't read one until now. I'm not complaining, it was some damn good writing. I'm just saying that when I saw Nikki's name, I was thinking I was about to dive into something totally different than I did. I'm glad she submitted this though. She's got a wide range of writing out there. Shows that she's not pigeon-holing herself into a corner.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 1:05pm

Real, Live Ghosts by Matthew C Funk

This is the first story I've read by Matthew. But I'll be keeping my eyes open for more by him now. I really enjoyed this story.

I think that all of us have a way that we act around our friends, and then a way that we act around our grandmother, and a way we act around our parents, etc... I think that it's always justified in our heads somehow. I think this story takes an idea like that a injects it with some speed. It keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. I remember I ignored work so I could finish this story in one sitting.

There was a point where this story turned like The Perfect Host, but then it took another (unexpected) turn.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 2:57pm

Straight Down the Line by Nik Korpon

I've loved everything I've read by Nik Korpon. I've read both of his novellas. And I have Stay God on my book case. I haven't started reading it yet because I like knowing that there's still some of his stuff to read. Stupid, I know.

This story was good. It was nicely paced. Great writing. Just a really solid story with a great ending.

This was on my list. I put it on, took it off, put it on again, and took it off. Hey, it's hard to narrow it down to 5 with so many good stories!

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 3:20pm

Surrender by Richard Thomas

I think that scarier than haunted house stories involving ghosts, are haunted house stories that make you question your sanity. How does anybody really know that they are sane anyway? I mean, if you're alone and shit starts happening, how do you know it's not all in your head?

This story makes you ask a lot of questions through the whole thing. What's really happening? Did everything happen like it did in the story? Or is the guy crazy and just killing people? Richard does that a lot. Doesn't just spoon feed you the story. He makes you think. And I think all good fiction should make you work for it a bit.

 

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Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore November 1, 2013 - 3:23pm

Richard's was another of my favorites (and Nik always delivers something solid yet a little unexpected). "Shit happened," for sure. It had been a while since I read a good haunted house story like that. Even if the haunting was more human in nature.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 1, 2013 - 3:45pm

Short Tendon by Amanda Gowan

See I guess I forgot all about the stories that had sci-fi elements in them. This one is chock full of them, in a real world way.

This story is beautiful and original and harsh and real. And remember when I said there were stories that I would kick myself for not including in my top 5? I think this might be one of them. Easily one of my favorite stories.

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Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 2, 2013 - 8:33am

Thanks, Pete and Gordon. It was a little bit of a departure, I wanted to write a "straight horror" story, so this was my attempt at a Paranormal Activity kind of thing. Glad you enjoyed it. I haven't seen many people talking about it, so I was worried people weren't enjoying it.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 2, 2013 - 9:43am

It started out subtle. I enjoyed it.

It's only appropriate that you're starting to read House of Leaves now, too. :)

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Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 3, 2013 - 10:16am

^^lol...yeah, i was thinking abouat that, with HOL

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 4, 2013 - 10:42am

I plan on finishing this up. But I'm not sure if I can get to the rest of the stories today. I'll have those posts done in the next couple days though!

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chrisdeal from NC is reading The Maid's Version November 4, 2013 - 10:36am

You're a good chap, Pete. Thanks for this.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 4, 2013 - 3:07pm

Take My Breath Away by Bob Pastorella

Bob, with this you prove that it's all horror! :P

This story was different. At the end I kept thinking of Tale of Two Sisters - though the stories couldn't be more different. But they both involved weird things and they both involved twins. And I generally find twins creepy to begin with. Do you guys believe in that bond that they claim twins have? Where they can feel eachother's pain? I don't think I do. But you always wonder. And then there's this story.

What was with the doileys, Bob?

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 4, 2013 - 3:18pm

Noir's City by Kevin Lynn Helmick

I kept going back and forth on what was going to happen on this story. Trying to guess the ending. I mean, wasn't it just begging for you to do that? But eventually I gave up and just enjoyed the story. It didn't have the crazy twist that I was somehow expecting. But then ending was perfect for the story. For some reason it reminded me of something but I really can't put my finger on what it was.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 4, 2013 - 3:24pm

Bokeh by Gordon Highland

I think it was right around the time that I finished this story that Gordon posted about his new short story collection, Submission Windows, being available. I ordered it for my nook right then.

Gordon's stories are always so tight. His story in Warmed and Bound was one of my favorites.

I feel like so much happened after that last sentence of the story. Where did they go? What did they end up doing? I feel like she was probably going to stab him or something after... I don't know. What a weird way to meet somebody.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 4, 2013 - 3:29pm

Two Dollar Beer Nights by Sean P Ferguson

I love that as funny as this story is, it probably feels too real. Like it's just cringe-worthy. It's like when your friend tells you a story and after every sentence you're thinking - how can this get worse. "You're kidding me! Nooooo!"

And I feel like that's the tone the story was written with. A bunch of guys sitting around telling the story of last night when all of them got blitzed. And then after they all tell their stories, with a nervous chuckle they say, "Fucking two dollar beer nights!"

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 8:24am

Dragon by the Dumpster by David James Keaton

This was one of my favorite stories in the collection. I just loved the voice of the character. And he draws you in and you're invested in the story and then you start realizing that you really can't believe a word he says and by that time you like the guy and already trust him. And he's got you. The story was fun to rread, too.

I've been looking forward to reading more of David's stuff ever since reading Zee, Bee, & Bee - which I loved. So this story reminded me that I bought his newer collection Fish Bites Cop! a while back and I need to dig into that soon.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 8:38am

Coralee by Christopher J Dwyer

Chris Dwyer's When October Falls should be sought out by anybody that would be interested in reading The Booked. Anthology. I guess you don't exactly have to "sought" since I linked right to a pdf copy. Now you have no excuses!

This story was reminded me a lot of his book. Same style of writing. Similar chasing love story. But totally different. If you liked this story, you really should check out his book.

Also - Chris - Are there physical copies of your book left anywhere? Is it being reprinted any time soon? I'd like to get a copy for my shelf.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 8:42am

Tropicalia by Anthony David Jacques

At first I was thinking that this was going to be a drinking until you act stupid - like Leaving Las Vegas - type story. But, nah, it was different than I thought it was going to be. Also I was thinking that he was going to that resort to drown his sorrows from a divorce for some reason. I liked how the whole story, for me at least, felt a little foggy. Walking around on a cloud, where ever the experience take you, I guess. I wasn't expecting the reveal to be the way it was. I liked the voice too. Totally different than other stories I've read by Anthony. Really liked it.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 9:02am

Where the Water Met the Sky by Chris Deal

This story has tinges of SGJ in it. It was nice. I liked how you could feel the emotion of the narrator without him saying how he felt. That's good writing. The story is filled with hope and in the situation that he's in - that's all you have. No answered calls, no contact - you just stick to the plan and hope.

I read a piece once about the immigrants coming from Mexico to just incur a ton of debt and be stuck working their asses off for no pay, all because of their legal situation, basically. I think it was in Esquire magazine. I want to say that the book Fast Food Nation has some bits about immigrants too. I might be remembering the book wrong though. Either way, I find the whole subject interesting. These people save and save in Mexico so they can pay somebody to basically put them into slavery and then the few dollars they are able to save up during that time, they send home. That's love and loyalty right there.

 

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 9:11am

One Shot (Only God Knows) Michael Paul Gonzalez

MPG surprised me with Angel Falls. And this story, too, surprised me.

Again I guess I just didn't remember how many stories had sci-fi slants to them. This one really had an original premise. If you know how you're going to die, what would you do different? It would suck! Especially not knowing the date and time. If you were supposed to die in a car crash, you could avoid cars your whole life and have a heartattack and be rushed by ambulance to the hospital, only to have the ambulance get in a wreck. You can't control that shit!

And Michael's story goes on to prove how maybe you could.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 9:19am

Edgewater Red Eye by Robb Olson

I'll echo what a bunch of people said already - why aren't you writing more, Robb?

Pretty original story. A lot of emotion in it. It took a little bit for me to get into the swing of it, but I ended up really enjoying this one. And it gets flowing nicely and then you get this gut punch out of nowhere. haha. This story deserved to be in the collection.

The part with the photographing at the parade, it reminded me of someting that happened to me at a bachelor party once. So my friends and I showed up at this thing already wasted and we are in the spirit. We're getting loose. So my friend's dad starts buying us lap dances with the girls that were there. I'm sitting in this chair and this girl is flipping over me and twirling around and they keep throwing beers to me. She straddles me and looks me in the face and everything changes. Her eyes open up wide and she's all, "Pete!?" I kind of snap to attention, "Sarah?"

I had been friends with her for a long time and we had dated on and off for almost just as long. I had talked to her earlier. She said she was going to the bar with her friends and I told her the same thing. Nothing was the same after that.

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Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore November 5, 2013 - 9:31am

"Tropicalia," yes. When I first started reading that, I thought maybe I was in for a creative nonfiction piece (knowing the author had recently made such a move himself), and found my interest lagging. But no, that's not what it is at all, and the story got progressively fucked up in a pleasant way. 

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 9:45am

haha I groaned when I saw the location, because I was thinking the same thing. I was like - Rum Diary?

But, yeah, he turned it around nicely.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 10:02am

The Donna Motels by Pela Via

I liked this story because, for me, half way through it starts to ask - who's the parasite in the relationship. Obviously by the end we see what's going on. But there are hints throughout.

I remember my Aunt always used to tell me - if it's too good to be true, it probably is. Which if you stick to it wholly, you might be missing out on opportunities. But still, most times it does hold true. But the girl in this is at that age. And somebody tells her she's going to be an actress because she's perfect for this part.

This might have been my favorite story in the collection - and a lot of people might not get to read it.

Pela - when are you going to put out a book of your own?

chrisdeal's picture
chrisdeal from NC is reading The Maid's Version November 5, 2013 - 10:05am

"Pela - when are you going to put out a book of your own?" That is something we all want to happen.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 10:21am

Hopefully, now that's she's partially unplugged from the internet...

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies November 5, 2013 - 1:27pm

yeah, so many great stories in here. so awesome of you pete to comment like this, i wish i had time to do the same thing. but DJK, yeah, really becoming a fan of his work. bought a REALLY beautiful, dark story for Exigencies from him, like 7 or 9,000 words, way over our limit, but it was so good, i had to take it. and really, digging into this collection, so many old voices that i'm happy to see again, people i wish would publish more, like Deal, Pela, Dwyer, etc. 

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 5, 2013 - 1:58pm

Did you read his open letter at ManArchy? It was hilarious.

And I agree with all three of those names you mentioned needing to get more work out there.

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Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers November 5, 2013 - 5:42pm

This story was different. At the end I kept thinking of Tale of Two Sisters - though the stories couldn't be more different. But they both involved weird things and they both involved twins. And I generally find twins creepy to begin with. Do you guys believe in that bond that they claim twins have? Where they can feel eachother's pain? I don't think I do. But you always wonder. And then there's this story.

@Pete--Twins have always fascinated me. I don't think the synchronicity thing anything paranormal, but it's real...too many instances of it happening, too many factual statements made from twins themselves, with verifiable events. So what is the sync thing? I think it's some kind of collective unconscious made stronger by the bond of being a twin, like their minds operate at a completely more complex level than normal. It truly is uncanny. The switching thing is real too, know a couple couple of sets of twins, male and female, that sucessfully switched partners incognito. The two brothers do not talk to one another anymore. Weird freaky shit. I've talk to the one brother that's local and he claims he can tell when his brother is trouble, he can make one phone call and confirm that something bad has happened. He thinks it's because he's psychic, but I'm very skeptical. Not saying I would never believe in psychic abilities, I just think there's been too much money on the table for people to prove they are psychic and never get the money. There's some old magician, the Amazing Randy I think, and he might be dead now, but I heard he had a 10 million check for anyone who could prove with scientific methods that they have psychic abilities. He still has the check. 

What was with the doileys, Bob?

@Pete--I devised the method of death before writing the story. Long story short, the story was set to a theme originally, then rejected due to content. It just didn't fit with the rest of the stories, so I changed the names to protect the guilty and Booked took it. I knew I wanted one of the sisters to die, but I needed a method that wasn't messy. It's very hard to suffocate someone with leaving behind signs; bloodshot eyes, etc., but the doilies worked for the story, plus it made a thematic connection with the realities of dementia, all that misery woven into their lives. When writing the story, I felt there was an aspect to it I didn't understand, and that intrigued me, that maybe if I didn't understand it all, yet knew enough to intrigue me even after finishing it, then readers might feel that as well.

Regardless, I'm glad you enjoyed my creepy little story. 

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 6, 2013 - 6:47am

Bob - Awesome insight. Thanks for that!

The Amazing Randi is alive. https://www.facebook.com/jamesrandi Old as hell, but still fiesty and alive. A lot of great videos. He's in on the board of The Skeptic's Society or maybe he created it. But yeah, that check is still there. I think it's currently at $1,000,000 and donations keep coming in, so it keeps getting bigger. Only one person ever got close to getting it and they ended up figuring out with the guy was doing.

Even though I'm a Christian, I'm a big fan of his work. Having faith is no reason to let people get swindled out of their money and be taken advantage of emotionally.

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chrisdeal from NC is reading The Maid's Version November 6, 2013 - 10:05am

Pete, for Where the Water Met the Sky, the story itself is inspired by real events, or a real person. Somethings were rearranged, but the individual in question paid a coyote to bring him across, then ended up asking for a few thousand more to deliver him. He was then dropped off at a bus station in Colorado with only enough for bus fare, nothing for food. Took him about a day and a half to finally get to his brothers. He was starving and tired. I really liked him. He’s off in warmer state now, putting working for his family back home. Once the coyote was paid he wanted nothing else to do with the situation. It really is a hard situation all around, but he ended up happier than the character in my story.

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Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon November 6, 2013 - 10:23am

Yeah, I thought you mentioned something about that - but I wasn't sure how much of that you wanted out.

Crazy story. The courage that takes is incredible. To go through with that and then you're not even doing it for yourself a lot of times.

chrisdeal's picture
chrisdeal from NC is reading The Maid's Version November 6, 2013 - 10:33am

I doubt I'd have the courage myself. But having a bit of an inside view is eye opening. And thanks for the good words about the story, and what you did here.