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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story. Ebook available here.

Then the waitress comes along with a steaming plate and sets it down on the counter in front of Dory Lanigan, who proceeds to tear into it like tomorrow is Judgment Day. Like cigarettes and coffee and sugar packets have been her staples for a while. Five minutes later, she wipes the thick white plate with the last hunk of toast, jams the soggy bread into her mouth and washes it down with orange juice and more coffee, making a slurping noise. 

     Now I’m having the thought that the wise thing to do is to get out from under while I still can. But something in me doesn’t want her slipping away quite yet. I pay the bill. Which leaves me only one wrinkled twenty in my wallet. Elton Kirby’s wallet.

     Keith Elton’s wallet. 

     “Do you need any money, Dory?” I ask anyway, my ‘kind eyes’ looking into her baby blues to see what I can find.

     “I can’t take your money, Keith, after you’ve been so nice to me and all. But if you could give me a ride down the road a-ways, it would help me out a lot.  I’d feel safe with a man that has kind, smart eyes like yours.”

     “Sure, no problem. Where you need to go?”

     “About ten miles south of here, at Crystal River. My car’s getting fixed at a gas station there.”

     “Sounds good. Where you headed after that?” I give her my soulful look.

     “I don’t really know for sure. Might even come back here to the motel. Old lady who owns the place has been letting me crash in one of the rooms in exchange for some cleaning. Guess she got sick of cleaning the lousy little rooms after a million years in a row.”

     “For sure. That must be it. So what’s wrong with your car?”

     “I think they said the timing belt… timing gear… something like that.”

     “Isn’t that an expensive job?”

     Her thin lips curl down at the corners, her blue eyes drenched in pathos and vulnerability. “I don’t know,” she says. “They didn’t tell me. Seemed like nice boys, though.”

     She’s an attractive girl and I’m feeling needy. I can use some companionship. Always been a sucker for a sad-eyed lady. And there’s something real nice about Dory. Also something else, but I can’t quite figure out what that is. Sometimes she seems a little slow but that doesn’t exactly define it. Drifty. Maybe that better describes her. Sometimes I get the feeling we aren’t walking on the same earth. But come to think of it, I get that feeling around most women.

     Now you’re probably thinking it’s crazy to invite a stranger into my vehicle—or should I say Bagley’s vehicle—given what else is in there at the moment, as well as what just happened on the beach. And you’d probably be right. But it seems I just can’t resist a pretty face. The possibility of mystery and adventure in Dory’s melancholy baby blues prove too strong an attractant.

     “You can ride along with me as far as you want to go, Dory. I’ve got a Volkswagen bus and there’s plenty of room. Why don’t you get your stuff and meet me out front of the motel in twenty minutes? I just need to get my things from the room. What do you think?”

     “I think you’re sweet. And I really appreciate this.”

(End of Chapter 7)

ebook only $2.99 – through June 1!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story. Ebook available here.

Then the waitress comes along with a steaming plate and sets it down on the counter in front of Dory Lanigan, who proceeds to tear into it like tomorrow is Judgment Day. Like cigarettes and coffee and sugar packets have been her staples for a while. Five minutes later, she wipes the thick white plate with the last hunk of toast, jams the soggy bread into her mouth and washes it down with orange juice and more coffee, making a slurping noise. 

     Now I’m having the thought that the wise thing to do is to get out from under while I still can. But something in me doesn’t want her slipping away quite yet. I pay the bill. Which leaves me only one wrinkled twenty in my wallet. Elton Kirby’s wallet.

     Keith Elton’s wallet. 

     “Do you need any money, Dory?” I ask anyway, my ‘kind eyes’ looking into her baby blues to see what I can find.

     “I can’t take your money, Keith, after you’ve been so nice to me and all. But if you could give me a ride down the road a-ways, it would help me out a lot.  I’d feel safe with a man that has kind, smart eyes like yours.”

     “Sure, no problem. Where you need to go?”

     “About ten miles south of here, at Crystal River. My car’s getting fixed at a gas station there.”

     “Sounds good. Where you headed after that?” I give her my soulful look.

     “I don’t really know for sure. Might even come back here to the motel. Old lady who owns the place has been letting me crash in one of the rooms in exchange for some cleaning. Guess she got sick of cleaning the lousy little rooms after a million years in a row.”

     “For sure. That must be it. So what’s wrong with your car?”

     “I think they said the timing belt… timing gear… something like that.”

     “Isn’t that an expensive job?”

     Her thin lips curl down at the corners, her blue eyes drenched in pathos and vulnerability. “I don’t know,” she says. “They didn’t tell me. Seemed like nice boys, though.”

     She’s an attractive girl and I’m feeling needy. I can use some companionship. Always been a sucker for a sad-eyed lady. And there’s something real nice about Dory. Also something else, but I can’t quite figure out what that is. Sometimes she seems a little slow but that doesn’t exactly define it. Drifty. Maybe that better describes her. Sometimes I get the feeling we aren’t walking on the same earth. But come to think of it, I get that feeling around most women.

     Now you’re probably thinking it’s crazy to invite a stranger into my vehicle—or should I say Bagley’s vehicle—given what else is in there at the moment, as well as what just happened on the beach. And you’d probably be right. But it seems I just can’t resist a pretty face. The possibility of mystery and adventure in Dory’s melancholy baby blues prove too strong an attractant.

     “You can ride along with me as far as you want to go, Dory. I’ve got a Volkswagen bus and there’s plenty of room. Why don’t you get your stuff and meet me out front of the motel in twenty minutes? I just need to get my things from the room. What do you think?”

     “I think you’re sweet. And I really appreciate this.”

(End of Chapter 7)

ebook only $2.99 – through June 1!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

Read Full Post »

“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story. Ebook available here.

I walk over to the diner and everything is eerily the same as the night before, same waitress and the same thin-faced blonde sitting at the far end of the counter. This time I change the scene and sit down with only one faded blue-green stool between the blond and me. I smile at her nicely, and much to my surprise, she gives me a Mona Lisa smile in return. She’s a true country beauty. Shoulder-length blond hair, milky complexion, blue eyes, and a certain kind of softness about her. Daylight has pushed the haunted look out to the edge of her face, revealed only by a slight pinching of the skin. She’s wearing a yellow sleeveless blouse that buttons up the front, faded blue jeans and open sandals with a low heel. Nice rounded rear end. She’s drinking coffee and smoking a Winston, the flattened pack lying next to her white coffee cup and saucer.  

     The waitress comes and pours coffee in my cup and in a couple of minutes, I order. I can’t help but notice two things. One, the girl isn’t eating anything. Two, she keeps looking over at me, the worried look back on her face. I drink some of the coffee and get the urge for a cigarette. More coffee, coupled with the smell of the smoke from the girl’s cig, makes the craving grow stronger. I search my pockets, fidget on the stool for a moment then turn to the blond. 

     “Excuse me, miss,” I say politely. “Could I bum a cigarette from you?  I’m afraid I left mine in the room—and I’m dying for one. Pathetic, eh?” And then, as if someone else is doing the talking: “I tell you what, I’ll buy you breakfast in exchange for a cigarette.”

     The sweet young thing gets up off her stool, moves next to me and hands me the nearly empty pack of Winston’s. I pick it up and slide one out.

     “Thanks a lot,” I say, smiling at her.

     “No problem,” she says, her pursed lips rising slightly on the corners. “And you don’t have to buy me breakfast just for one cigarette.”

     “No, really, I’d love to. I just saw that you weren’t eating and thought I’d offer. In case you ah… in case you needed something to eat or something. Just trying to be friendly. I mean, I saw you in here last night and you didn’t seem to be eating then either. So I thought, well… you might be broke or something. God knows I’ve been in that situation myself enough times. I didn’t mean to imply that—”

     “Slow down, honey,” she says, looking in my eyes and grinning slightly. “You don’t have to explain. You’re a nice guy, aren’t you?”

     “I try to be—but sometimes it’s hard. Where I come from, that’s the way we try to treat people.”

     “And where is that?”

     “Minnesota.”

     “You’ve got kind eyes,” she says. She looks down at her coffee cup, turning it in the saucer with her long fingers. “For someone with eyes like that I can eat breakfast.” She glances over at the waitress, who’s standing with her hand on her hip by the order window. “Mary Ellen, fix me up a steak and eggs with a tall OJ and a side of grits, would you please.”

     “You like those grits?” I ask, trying to grasp what it is about a soggy pile of white slop.

     “Yeah, they’re good for you. I used to eat’em with sugar when I was a kid. So whattaya doin’ in Florida, Mr. Kind Eyes?”

     “I live down in Clearwater.”

     “No shit—excuse my French. Whattaya do there?”

     “Not much. I used to be a tennis pro until I broke my leg.”

     “You must’ve made a lot of money.”

     “No, not really. I was a teaching pro, not a guy like Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe.”

     “You make a habit of buying breakfast for strange women, Mr. Kind Eyes? What is your name, anyway?”

     “Keith. Ah—Elton. Keith Elton. No, I usually only buy breakfast for those I’ve slept with the night before.”

     She gives me a wrinkled up nose and then directs her attention back to the coffee cup. “Well, Keith Elton from Clearwater, by way of Minnesota, pleased to meet you.” She sets down the thick cup and holds out a slender hand, nails bitten down. 

     I shake it lightly.

    “So, what’s your name and where’re you from?” I ask, looking in her eyes and finding myself being drawn in.

     “Dory Lanigan. And I’m from Tennessee by way of Las Vegas.”

     “Now that’s a tough one. So you were born in Vegas?”

     “No, just outside of Knoxville.”

     “Oh, so you moved to Vegas. What brings you to Florida, then?”

     “I had a lot of bad trouble in Vegas,” she says, turning solemn. “My boyfriend was murdered. And my dog, too.”

     “What? You’re kidding me, right?” She shakes her head to the negative. “No? Jesus. Who did all that?”

     “People I’d rather not talk about. Some of my boyfriend’s business associates. I found both bodies in the trunk of my car. Jimmy and Sammy. Sammy was the dog. Couldn’t stay in Vegas after that, so I bought a junker and took off driving as far as my money would take me.”

     “No shit? What did you do with the bodies?”

     “I called the cops and everything, and they came out and hauled the bodies away. That was a couple months ago. After that, I just had to get out of there, y’know? I knew the cops wouldn’t protect me. I knew they knew who did it, but they wanted me to help them. Talk about my boyfriend’s business and shit—and I wasn’t going to say anything, so I ran.  Just couldn’t handle it. Had to get outta Dodge.”

     “They killed your boyfriend and your dog? Jesus.”

     “My boyfriend—Jimmy—was into some things.” She pauses, staring at the coffee cup. “How could anyone kill a nice sweet dog?” She puts her hands to her eyes and sobs briefly, then snaps to as if nothing happened.

     “Yeah. I mean—I don’t know.”

(To be continued)

ebook only $2.99 – through June 1!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

Read Full Post »

“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded collection of three short crime stories and this longer story. Ebook available here.

I walk over to the diner and everything is eerily the same as the night before, same waitress and the same thin-faced blonde sitting at the far end of the counter. This time I change the scene and sit down with only one faded blue-green stool between the blond and me. I smile at her nicely, and much to my surprise, she gives me a Mona Lisa smile in return. She’s a true country beauty. Shoulder-length blond hair, milky complexion, blue eyes, and a certain kind of softness about her. Daylight has pushed the haunted look out to the edge of her face, revealed only by a slight pinching of the skin. She’s wearing a yellow sleeveless blouse that buttons up the front, faded blue jeans and open sandals with a low heel. Nice rounded rear end. She’s drinking coffee and smoking a Winston, the flattened pack lying next to her white coffee cup and saucer.  

     The waitress comes and pours coffee in my cup and in a couple of minutes, I order. I can’t help but notice two things. One, the girl isn’t eating anything. Two, she keeps looking over at me, the worried look back on her face. I drink some of the coffee and get the urge for a cigarette. More coffee, coupled with the smell of the smoke from the girl’s cig, makes the craving grow stronger. I search my pockets, fidget on the stool for a moment then turn to the blond. 

     “Excuse me, miss,” I say politely. “Could I bum a cigarette from you?  I’m afraid I left mine in the room—and I’m dying for one. Pathetic, eh?” And then, as if someone else is doing the talking: “I tell you what, I’ll buy you breakfast in exchange for a cigarette.”

     The sweet young thing gets up off her stool, moves next to me and hands me the nearly empty pack of Winston’s. I pick it up and slide one out.

     “Thanks a lot,” I say, smiling at her.

     “No problem,” she says, her pursed lips rising slightly on the corners. “And you don’t have to buy me breakfast just for one cigarette.”

     “No, really, I’d love to. I just saw that you weren’t eating and thought I’d offer. In case you ah… in case you needed something to eat or something. Just trying to be friendly. I mean, I saw you in here last night and you didn’t seem to be eating then either. So I thought, well… you might be broke or something. God knows I’ve been in that situation myself enough times. I didn’t mean to imply that—”

     “Slow down, honey,” she says, looking in my eyes and grinning slightly. “You don’t have to explain. You’re a nice guy, aren’t you?”

     “I try to be—but sometimes it’s hard. Where I come from, that’s the way we try to treat people.”

     “And where is that?”

     “Minnesota.”

     “You’ve got kind eyes,” she says. She looks down at her coffee cup, turning it in the saucer with her long fingers. “For someone with eyes like that I can eat breakfast.” She glances over at the waitress, who’s standing with her hand on her hip by the order window. “Mary Ellen, fix me up a steak and eggs with a tall OJ and a side of grits, would you please.”

     “You like those grits?” I ask, trying to grasp what it is about a soggy pile of white slop.

     “Yeah, they’re good for you. I used to eat’em with sugar when I was a kid. So whattaya doin’ in Florida, Mr. Kind Eyes?”

     “I live down in Clearwater.”

     “No shit—excuse my French. Whattaya do there?”

     “Not much. I used to be a tennis pro until I broke my leg.”

     “You must’ve made a lot of money.”

     “No, not really. I was a teaching pro, not a guy like Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe.”

     “You make a habit of buying breakfast for strange women, Mr. Kind Eyes? What is your name, anyway?”

     “Keith. Ah—Elton. Keith Elton. No, I usually only buy breakfast for those I’ve slept with the night before.”

     She gives me a wrinkled up nose and then directs her attention back to the coffee cup. “Well, Keith Elton from Clearwater, by way of Minnesota, pleased to meet you.” She sets down the thick cup and holds out a slender hand, nails bitten down. 

     I shake it lightly.

    “So, what’s your name and where’re you from?” I ask, looking in her eyes and finding myself being drawn in.

     “Dory Lanigan. And I’m from Tennessee by way of Las Vegas.”

     “Now that’s a tough one. So you were born in Vegas?”

     “No, just outside of Knoxville.”

     “Oh, so you moved to Vegas. What brings you to Florida, then?”

     “I had a lot of bad trouble in Vegas,” she says, turning solemn. “My boyfriend was murdered. And my dog, too.”

     “What? You’re kidding me, right?” She shakes her head to the negative. “No? Jesus. Who did all that?”

     “People I’d rather not talk about. Some of my boyfriend’s business associates. I found both bodies in the trunk of my car. Jimmy and Sammy. Sammy was the dog. Couldn’t stay in Vegas after that, so I bought a junker and took off driving as far as my money would take me.”

     “No shit? What did you do with the bodies?”

     “I called the cops and everything, and they came out and hauled the bodies away. That was a couple months ago. After that, I just had to get out of there, y’know? I knew the cops wouldn’t protect me. I knew they knew who did it, but they wanted me to help them. Talk about my boyfriend’s business and shit—and I wasn’t going to say anything, so I ran.  Just couldn’t handle it. Had to get outta Dodge.”

     “They killed your boyfriend and your dog? Jesus.”

     “My boyfriend—Jimmy—was into some things.” She pauses, staring at the coffee cup. “How could anyone kill a nice sweet dog?” She puts her hands to her eyes and sobs briefly, then snaps to as if nothing happened.

     “Yeah. I mean—I don’t know.”

(To be continued)

ebook only $2.99 – through June 1!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

Read Full Post »

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