AKAQ’s First Anthology: Let’s discuss

First of all, this year is going to be a busy one. In this month alone I’m going through lots of personal changes and they are all very significant, life changing type changes. Writing-wise I have huge plans, both for my own endeavors and for this blog here. The most important is an anthology.

Right now? I would love to just hear input from any writer, any reader, or just anyone who frequents this blog.

When and if I get this going these conditions wont change:

1) Genre: Speculative fiction, crime, noir, horror and sci fi. Pretty much any pulp type material.

2) Cheap and nonprofitable: Depending on the amount of authors I’d like to keep the ebook under $3 and over 99 cents. All profit will go towards the AKAQ website, which includes upgrades, access to more images (Which this website lacks, except for book covers. We have tons of those thanks to Amazon.) and other website related costs.

3) Availability in Amazon. Others are up for debate.

Now, these are topics I would like to discuss:

1) Submission length. Maybe flash/poems in-between stories.

2) Help. I would like either someone who wants to help editing or perhaps some beta readers. I personally like using the writers to go through the whole book, but surprisingly I feel like I’m the only one that ever does it and I feel like I’m bothering the editor, even though I want the whole book, which has my story in it, to be as polished as possible.

3) Covers: I have some ideas already maybe using the image we currently have on our frontpage.

4) A physical book: I once sold pre-orders to my first book and found how successful it was. But after that found almost no sales through lulu.com After that I moved over to Amazon and found a way better and pleasant market. I would like to sale pre-orders through lulu.com again. It’s cheap, I can drop the price to $5 bucks and still make the donation worth it. After all the primary point is to get writer’s work out there and the website’s funds are, if anything, not important at all.

5) Do you want in? I want to include at least 20 authors, and I think I can easily get pieces from the usual bunch around here. I think I plan to send some invites first and then open it up to submissions. This way I could get some bigger names mixed with some new talent.

So discuss, I love a good online discussion. 🙂

-L. Vera

Review: The Killing of the Tinkers

The Killing of the Tinkers
Ken Bruen

Blurb:

When Jack Taylor blew town at the end of The Guards his alcoholism was a distant memory and sober dreams of a new life in London were shining in his eyes. In the opening pages of The Killing of the Tinkers, Jack’s back in Galway a year later with a new leather jacket on his back, a pack of smokes in his pocket, a few grams of coke in his waistband, and a pint of Guinness on his mind. So much for new beginnings. Before long he’s sunk into his old patterns, lifting his head from the bar only every few days, appraising his surroundings for mere minutes and then descending deep into the alcoholic, drug-induced fugue he prefers to the real world. But a big gypsy walks into the bar one day during a moment of Jack’s clarity and changes all that with a simple request. Jack knows the look in this man’s eyes, a look of hopelessness mixed with resolve topped off with a quietly simmering rage; he’s seen it in the mirror. Recognizing a kindred soul, Jack agrees to help him, knowing but not admitting that getting involved is going to lead to more bad than good. But in Jack Taylor’s world bad and good are part and parcel of the same lost cause, and besides, no one ever accused Jack of having good sense.

Review:

The latest Bruen I’ve read is actually the second Jack Taylor book, after The Guards. For those keeping score at home, this is when Taylor loses his teeth (mark that on your Jack Taylor Injury Scorecard, a big 50 points). I can’t really explain why I haven’t tried to read them in order; I suppose it’s because if I made a deliberate effort to put them all in order I would read them through in one great orgy of words until they were all done and then where would I be? Probably standing on the streets of the Claddagh listening to Bruen type.

And the Gardaí would come drag me away.

So, it’s better that I just read them in the order in which they cross my path, which happened with this tale of the tinkers and Taylor. He’s still raggedly recovering from his flight after the end of The Guards and the deaths left in his wake. It’s Jack, so he’s managed to screw up his life even more in London and as he returns to Galway, things look bleak. Then he’s asked to help deal with the killings of young tinkers because his former colleagues in the force have no interest in their world. The tinkers give him a home, his friends give him hope and he’s got a good idea who might be behind all the killings.

But you know it’s going to turn out badly because Jack Taylor is a magnet for nightmares. Bruen gives you a Galway that rustles with skittering shadows and malevolence. The circle of recurring characters have been sketched in by this second volume, but they grow more intricately here. Terrible things lie ahead for some and it makes the happy moments even more bittersweet. There’s philosophy, poetry and too much backsliding from Jack. Bruen tells his tales with a ragged beauty, his eloquence matched only by the bleak horror.

Sure it’s grand.

~ K. A. Laity

Weird Noir: Tentacles Ho!

Out soon from Fox Spirit Books!

The days get colder, the nights get longer, and things seem to move in the shadows — which means it’s almost time for Weird Noir to be born! What sort of twisted individuals come up with tales to fit this mash-up of genres? I asked my writers to tell me a bit about the process of getting all weird about noir:

Chloë Yates

I knew I had to get it written, time was running out and the Prof waits for no man. Naturally slothful, I’d been putting it off, waiting for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is an unfeeling bitch alas and so I began hammering at the keys with nothing but the production of words, any words, as my goal. Midway through the first paragraph, Maxxie Vickers came along and kicked me in the nuts. She had a story to tell and she’d chosen me to tell it. Who was I to turn a good looking, if dentally challenged, dame down?

Richard Godwin

I set the ingredients in the pan. I raise the flame. You know, the texture of the meat that night was strangely familiar, reminiscent of a taste my memory had buried. But the corner of London I ended up in gave me this story, dark and lyrical, imbued with the Noir thrill of being touched a certain way as the moonlight shines on your skin.

As I hand you the menu I would like to say there are some unusual flavours on offer here, so set your palate to receive.”The notes are plaintive, haunting, as if she is singing of a time before her life was altered in some way.” Barbara Dauphin is a night club singer who plays Joe Billy Holiday at her flat. She wants to find her missing sister. She realises there is something unusual about Joe…

Jennifer Martin

When I heard the call, the call for submission, I jumped at the chance to have another of my stories published in an awesome anthology.

‘The Darkness Cult’ is a strange and twisted tale that first wormed its way into my head several years ago. I had toyed with the idea of making a novel from it, but alas, I hadn’t finished up that project. Although a complete work in and of itself, it could be expanded on at a later date.

I sat down after reading the call and just knew that this seedy underground story was just what Weird Noir was looking for. I had to flesh it out. Make it whole and ready for the world to read. I did just that. Like a madwoman, I sat for days at my computer and worked on the story with coffee flowing through my veins. When I finally turned it over to my editor for a read through, watching his reactions was reward in itself. He has never quite looked at me the same since reading that particular story…

More to come — we’ll understand the madness soon. See the full line up here.

Deadline Approaches: Weird Noir

Just a reminder there’s only a few more days left to submit! To what?

This: I’m editing a collection for Fox Spirit with one swanky cover by SL Johnson.

Weird Noir

On the gritty backstreets of a crumbling city, tough dames and dangerous men trade barbs, witticisms and a few gunshots. But there’s a new twist where urban decay meets the eldritch borders of another world: WEIRD NOIR, featuring thugs who sprout claws and fangs, gangsters with tentacles and the occasional succubus siren. The ambience is pure noir but the characters aren’t just your average molls and mugs — the vamps might just be vamps. It’s Patricia Highsmith meets Shirley Jackson or Dashiell Hammett filtered through H. P. Lovecraft. Mad, bad and truly dangerous to know, but irresistible all the same.

Writer already confirmed for the collection (i.e. I already have their stories or their souls  in my possession) include Richard Godwin, Joyce Chng, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel and Andrez Bergen.

But there’s room for a few more.

Story  length
4-10K (negotiable)

Payment
$10 advance against future royalties, split 70-30 with the publisher.

Format
Word .doc (not docx), Times New Roman 12pt font, 1″ margins, double spaced

If you have a previously unpublished story you’d be interested in contributing, let me know. Stories will be due September 5. I’m particularly interested in characters who show a little more of the diversity evident in the real world. And tentacles — they’re not just for weird porn! If you want some insight into the editor who will be choosing the stories, see my website. I won’t know how much space there is left until all my invitees turn in their stories (or don’t). So I won’t  get back to you before the end of September at the earliest, so don’t bug me (unless you want me to give you your story back so you can send it elsewhere).

Cheers –

Kate

(katelaity at gmail)

Submissions: Weird Noir

Having opened my big mouth, it seems I’m now editing a collection for Fox Spirit:

Weird Noir

On the gritty backstreets of a crumbling city, tough dames and dangerous men trade barbs, witticisms and a few gunshots. But there’s a new twist where urban decay meets the eldritch borders of another world: WEIRD NOIR, featuring thugs who sprout claws and fangs, gangsters with tentacles and the occasional succubus siren. The ambience is pure noir but the characters aren’t just your average molls and mugs — the vamps might just be vamps. It’s Patricia Highsmith meets Shirley Jackson or Dashiell Hammett filtered through H. P. Lovecraft. Mad, bad and truly dangerous to know, but irresistible all the same.

Writer already confirmed for the collection (i.e. I already have their stories or their souls  in my possession) include Richard Godwin, Joyce Chng, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel.

But there’s room for a few more.

Story  length
4-10K (negotiable)

Payment
$10 advance against future royalties, split 70-30 with the publisher.

Format
Word .doc (not docx), Times New Roman 12pt font, 1″ margins, double spaced

If you have a previously unpublished story you’d be interested in contributing, let me know. Stories will be due September 5. I’m particularly interested in characters who show a little more of the diversity evident in the real world. And tentacles — they’re not just for weird porn! If you want some insight into the editor who will be choosing the stories, see my website. I won’t know how much space there is left until all my invitees turn in their stories (or don’t). So I won’t  get back to you before the end of September at the earliest, so don’t bug me (unless you want me to give you your story back so you can send it elsewhere).

Cheers —

Kate

(katelaity at gmail)

Review: Psychosomatic

Psychosomatic

Anthony Neil Smith

Blurb:

Because Lydia didn’t have arms or legs, she shelled out three thousand bucks to a washed up middleweight named Cap to give her ex-husband the beating of his life.  But the beating turns to murder, and the murder into lust and desperation between Lydia and an underworld clean-up man. Meanwhile, overgrown frat boy car thieves take up cop killing as a side hobby. When these paths cross, a horror show of violence unfolds as they all slide into a hell of their own design, surrounded by the neon and noise of the casino strip on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Violent, vivid, life at hyper-speed. This debut novel from the editor of Plots with Guns is a noir nightmare that asks how much is too much in a relationship, and what is the cost of leaving? Ken Bruen calls it “the darkest song I’ve ever read”.

Review:

Wow, just wow. I read this on my phone over the last few weeks, here and there every time I had to wait for something like the bus. I got used to people shooting me sidelong glances because I was chortling out loud or wincing with empathetic pain or just shaking my head. This book is the literary equivalent of psychobilly music: weird, backwoods, southern, rocking mayhem of head-shaking madness. A legless coquette who wraps men around her phantom finger, frat boy heavies who develop a mutually needy symbiotic relationship, would-be drug dealers and a gothy would-be drug moll clash in ill-founded madness and mundane violence. Everybody’s got a plan and nobody really knows what’s going on. They’re all screwballs and mostly terrible people and yet you start to root for them some of the time, even as things knot into a mad whirl of hurt and blindly stupid schemes that can’t help but fail and maybe just maybe — nah, it’s all going to end badly. But what a trip. So here’s some Royale Brothers to give you a soundtrack for it. It’s 99¢ — get it, you cheapskate (just click the image above).

Review: Red Esperanto

DESCRIZIONE

The winter night had draped itself over Warsaw’s Aleja Jana Pawla like a shroud, and a sharp sliver of moon garrotted the death black sky. I was in the depths of a crawling hangover and feeling more than a little claustrophobic in Tatiana’s cramped, deodorant-soaked apartment. I poked my trembling fingers through a crack in the dusty slat blinds and gazed out at the constellation of neon signs that lined the bustling avenue. Sex shops, peep shows, 24 hour bars, booze shops and kebab shops were pretty much the only buildings that I could see, apart from The Westin Hotel, with its vertigo inducing glass elevator. Looking it always made my stomach lurch a little.

L’AUTORE

PAUL D. BRAZILL was born in England and has lived in Poland for the last ten years. His comic crime novel, Guns Of Brixton, will be published in  2012. His collections 13 Shots Of Noir and Snapshots out now as eBooks.  He is the editor the anthologies Drunk On The Moon and (with Luca Veste) True Brit Grit. Paul’s short stories have appeared in dozens of international magazines and anthologies -including The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime. Paul’s short story “The Tut” was nominated for a 2010 Spinetingler award, which recognises established and up-and-coming authors. His blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You? has featured interviews with many writers including Tony Black, Matt Hilton, Simon Wood, Sheila Quigley and Anne Billson.
He contributes to Pulp Metal Magazine, Mean Streets and Sabotage Times.

REVIEW

The Warsaw Tourist Bureau is not going to be using Red Esperanto to flog the city to tourists. While some of the nicer bits of the city make it into the tale, Brazill sketches a city that would rival Brixton for grit. From the sordid view of a hooker’s squalid flat with its view of “sex shops, peep shows, 24 hour bars, booze shops and kebab shops” the hapless narrator, journo Luke Case, stumbles his way into incongruous Irish pubs and a casually dangerous relationship with the second-hand clothes Baron’s wife, Crazy Jola, who does what she can to live up to the name. As usual, Brazill will have you alternately wincing and laughing as you follow Case’s shambling wreck; fun stuff. You won’t be disappointed.

‘The only crime is getting caught,’ I said, shrugging.
‘Yes, but if a butterfly beats its wings in the forest a one handed man claps and a tree falls down.’ said Sean, and he stumbled off in the direction of the toilets.
I ignored him and tried to catch Jola’s eye. Rory was placing a drink in front of her. She said something to him and, for the first time since I’d known him, I actually saw him laugh. Though, when he turned back to me he had the same grimace he always wore.
Jola took out her mobile phone and began sending a text message. Fuelled by Scotch courage, I walked over.
‘Would you like another drink?’ I said, swaying a little.
Jola looked up and tried to focus on me, as if she were attempting to take in a magic eye painting. She sipped her drink and shook her head.

Review: The Secret Hour

“Un intenso e originale nuovo modo di viaggiare, e di leggere”

DESCRIZIONE

The Secret Hour is the time when Paris meets his lovers, and allows them to escape from their lives. He makes love to Viola in various locations in London. The wealthy, exclusive districts of Mayfair and Piccadilly form the backdrop to their erotic liaisons, as Viola becomes another woman. But she is married to gangster Max Reger, and he is watching her. As Twilight falls on Golden Square and Paris makes love to Viola, Max steals into the house where they are sharing their stolen time together. And Paris discovers something about Viola.

L’AUTORE

RICHARD GODWIN was born in London in 1963. He taught English and American Literature at the University of London before becoming one of the most successful British writers of the detective genre, noir and horror. He has published many short stories and novels, including Apostle Rising (Black Jackal Books, 2011) and Mr. Glamour (Black Jackal Books, 2012). His personal website is www.richardgodwin.net

REVIEW (er, il riesame?)

This story might surprise some Godwin fans at first. There’s a sensuality that may throw you off. The life of Paris Tongue seems an unusual subject for this writer who generally veers toward horror and bloody crime, but don’t worry — he gets there, too. The London of Paris’ “secret hour” has a likewise unexpected sexiness that the “dirty old town” wears with surprising ease. Like his Greek namesake Paris has an ethereal beauty and puts it to good use as a kind of gigolo. The life suits him well and he maintains a lucrative lifestyle spending his secret hours with clients. Until one day he beds Viola (a suggestively Shakespearean name) who decides she wants more than just the secret hour. Her gangster husband, however, wants to put an end to these shenanigans with extreme vengeance. The disparate threads weave tighter until the story reaches a wild and bloody climax. You’ll find it satisfying, I promise.

~K. A. Laity

Atlantis eBooks: Global Noir

Atlantis eBooks — a division of Lite Books — has launched a new publishing venture of noir stories that crisscross the globe. As you can see, they’ve developed a clear marketing identity and a slick design sense. You’ll find some familiar names like Richard ‘Mr Glamour’ Godwin, Paul D. Brazill and myself, but there’s also a wealth of names and stories from around the world. What they have in common is that they bring a sexy noir aesthetic to famous cities around the world. The site is still in the beta stage, although you can already buy the books (if you use the epub format). There’s an English language website coming and the books will also be in all the usual outlets like Amazon, iTunes and so forth (some already are). Check it out: the site offers generous samples from the stories.

Richard Godwin: The Secret Hour
Paris Tongue is an accomplished seducer. He has a blond fire about him. He can read a woman’s sexual needs as quickly as he used to pick pocket the tourists who frequent Piccadilly with cameras on their shoulders and maps in their eager hands. One day he seduces beautiful Viola. The Secret Hour is the time when Paris meets his lovers, and allows them to escape from their lives. He makes love to Viola in various locations in London. The wealthy, exclusive districts of Mayfair and Piccadilly form the backdrop to their erotic liaisons, as Viola becomes another woman. But she is married to gangster Max Reger, and he is watching her. As Twilight falls on Golden Square and Paris makes love to Viola, Max steals into the house where they are sharing their stolen time together. And Paris discovers something about Viola.
Paul D. Brazill: Red Esperanto
The winter night had draped itself over Warsaw’s Aleja Jana Pawla like a shroud, and a sharp sliver of moon garrotted the death black sky. I was in the depths of a crawling hangover and feeling more than a little claustrophobic in Tatiana’s cramped, deodorant-soaked apartment. I poked my trembling fingers through a crack in the dusty slat blinds and gazed out at the constellation of neon signs that lined the bustling avenue. Sex shops, peep shows, 24 hour bars, booze shops and kebab shops were pretty much the only buildings that I could see, apart from The Westin Hotel, with its vertigo inducing glass elevator. Looking it always made my stomach lurch a little.
K. A. Laity: The Claddagh Icon
He saw Clodagh by the Claddagh Icon when the sun lit her golden hair. Two drinks later he figured he was in like Flynn and ready for sin. Of course there was the small matter of her husband, but once she had him on his knees, there were all kinds of things a man might agree to do.

Interview: Andrez Bergen

I’m pleased to say that today’s guest is Andrez Bergen. Born in Melbourne, Andrez Bergen is an expatriate Australian author, journalist, DJ, photographer and musician, who has been based in Tokyo, Japan, over the past eleven years. His forthcoming novel One Hundred Years of Vicissitude follows up on the splash made by his first iconoclast offering, The Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.

KAL: What do you write on? Computer, pad o’ paper, battered Underwood? Give us a vivid picture.

I’m an all-rounder, though I have yet to include an iPad or smartphone in the mix. Not that I’m afraid of technology; I just prefer to wait for a bit before squandering hard-earned cash on new stuff. Mostly I use my Mac desktop at home, and when I’m not home I busily scrawl notes on bits and pieces of scrap paper – anything blank I can find in my bag. I do this on the train, on the street, sitting on the edge of the gutter (really). Years ago I had a postbox-red Olivetti manual typewriter, and that’s the one I used to start writing my first novel, Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, but I tossed it out the window once when I was late on a university deadline and the ribbon ran out. My mother has it on her wall back in Melbourne. Calls it art.

KAL: Do you listen to music while you write? Does it influence what you write?

Yep, I do, though usually not while I’m working on the desktop at home – unless my six-year-old daughter Cocoa is practicing the piano (which she’s actually doing right now). On the train I lug my iPod Nano everywhere, and I’m often listening to rousing classical stuff, soundtrack music by people like Clint Mansell, Kenji Kawai, Hans Zimmer, Michael Nyman and Philip Glass, old 1940s jazz and big band numbers, plus techno and experimental electronic music that (a) I’m working on or (b) is made by mates. All of it influences what I write. Often pivotal scenes get conjured up in my head while I tune out to somebody’s brilliant music.

KAL: Do you write in short bursts or carve out long periods of time to work? Is it a habit or a vice?

I think I do both. Short bursts in between stations on the train going to work, and long stints at home. I did a mad two-week dash to polish off One Hundred Years of Vicissitude at the end of March. Nearly killed me. It is a habit of late, bordering on a vice, since I should be spending this time entertaining my daughter more than I am right now. I tell her it’s my homework, but I’m not sure she believes me.

KAL: What writer would you most want to read your work? What would you want to hear them say?

God, what a tough question. Living, or dead? I think I’d like Raymond Chandler to read my stuff, but I’m equally terrified by that notion. The guy is one of my all-time literary heroes. Alternatively, L. Ron Hubbard. If he said he hated it, then I’d die happy.

KAL: On the days where the writing doesn’t go so well, what other art or career do you fantasize about pursuing instead?

I wish I was better with movie making, something I started in university but never really following through on. Movies are my big love – one of the reasons I ended up writing about them.

KAL: What do you read? What do you re-read?

Re-read first: Anything by Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Isabel Allende’s Zorro, Colin Harrison’s Manhattan Nocturne, Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Nicholas Christopher’s Veronica, Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, Ryū Murakami’s Coin Locker Babies, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, and Robert M. Eversz’s Shooting Elvis – the first and easily the best Nina Zero novel. With my daughter we’re constantly reading Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I love old 1960s Marvel comics.

New stuff? I’m always on the look out for new noir and sci-fi – and I love raiding the local bookshop here in Tokyo, where they sell second-hand English novels for ¥200 – about £1.60. A lot of it’s complete crap, but I do stumble upon some unknown doozies on occasion.

KAL: Where did the idea for One Hundred Years of Vicissitude come from? Do you have a surefire way of sparking inspiration?

Well, I think just as Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat wore Blade Runner and Raymond Chandler on its sleeve, the new novel owes a truckload to the past eleven years I’ve spent living in Tokyo. I love this city and the people, along with the culture, and in some ways it’s my celebration of that affection. I’m indebted to the cinematic work of Satoshi Kon, Akira Kurosawa and Seijun Suzuki, actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, and the wonderful 1940s boogie woogie of Shizuko Kasagi. The real-life story of identical twin Japanese centenarians served as the initial spark, and a fantastic visit to Kyoto last year added fuel to the fire. Add in Sean Connery’s James Bond and the crazy antics of the Japanese Red Army. Lots, really.

***

Find Bergen on Twitter, Facebook as well as Amazon and Goodreads. Aside from specializing in Japanese culture, anime, movies, and electronic music’s various tangents for magazines like Geek (USA) and Impact (UK), along with newspapers The Age and The Yomiuri Shinbun, Bergen has written fiction for Another Sky Press, Shotgun Honey, Big Pulp, Snubnose Press, Perfect Edge, Pulp Ink, Solarcide and Crime Factory, and collaborated on translating and reworking the English text for Japanese anime filmmakers Mamoru Oshii, Naoyoshi Shiotani and Kazuchika Kise.

Bergen released his debut novel, the noir/sci-fi-inclined Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, last year. He will publish a second novel, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude, in October 2012. He is currently putting together an anthology of short stories, by himself and other writers and illustrators relating to the dystopia of TSMG, and he’s working on two novels, The Mercury Drinkers and Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa.

 

THE PROLOGUE TO ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF VICISSITUDE:

It’s swing time, and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers must be cooling their heels elsewhere.

In all honesty, I can’t distinguish swing from boogie-woogie—styles my grandparents would be better equipped to judge.

Though not wearing a tuxedo to match the music, I am blessed with a suave smoking jacket.

Anyhow, this jazz-inflected number continues to blare, doing seventy-eight rpm on brittle shellac, something warbled in Japanese about people having fun just by singing the zany song.

The whole package is strung together in a crackly, mono din that originates from a gramophone, housed in a lacquered wooden casket on the other side of the room.

Splayed on the floor before the music box lies a half-naked man, inert.

You’ll find me propped up on the bed. It boasts a hard, uncomfortable mattress and the quilts are awry, but who would fret, seated next to a young, exquisite geisha?

Not that she doesn’t have flaws.

This girl bears smudged makeup, a vivid red streak (blood) on one white cheek, and she’s wrapped in a twisted, half-open kimono that’s fallen off her shoulder.

I glimpse an ample amount of small, pale breast, as I reach over to light the cigarette she has pinioned between her teeth.

Eyes off, you ancient rotter.

It’s damnably humid in this small, spartan closet, and both of us are sweating. The temperature is something I doubt the fellow on the floor needs to concern himself with.

‘He’s dead?’ I pipe up, in a blustering voice that startles me.

‘As a doornail,’ the woman says, unruffled, and then she exhales a plume of smoke toward the ceiling.

‘So. What shall we do now?’

‘I have no idea about you, but I’m enjoying the song and this cigarette.’

‘You don’t mind sharing them with a man you just murdered?’

‘Well, I’d say he’s far more functional in this state.’

She places her bare feet on the corpse’s back, wriggles her toes, and then leans back to relax. There’s a smirk on her cherubic mouth.

‘That’s better. Who needs a footstool?’