Owen and Jessica

Enjoy your meal, my darling

Owen’s gaze went from the morning sun outside the kitchen window to his laptop screen. He closed the lid so Jessica couldn’t read what he’d written.

Besides, it was time to make breakfast.

He went to the drawer with all the butcher knives in it. There was one he never used. It was Jessica’s and she kept it sharp. God knows why, she rarely cooked. It was a game with her; she’d come home, pull out her knife and hold it up towards him. “You used my knife today, didn’t you? It’s not as shiny as it was this morning.”

He checked the whet of the knife, forgetting his father’s warning: “Scrape, don’t slice.” Blood gathered in the whorls of his thumb. He stared at it and chuckled before licking it clean.

He would kill Jessica today.

The sunlight came through the window exactly how Owen told God it had to come through if God wanted Owen to kill Jessica, and it came through exactly how Owen told God to make it come through so that was it, there was no argument about it, God approved and gave Owen the sign he’d asked for so it was okay to do it and today was the day he would kill Jessica because God sent the sunlight through the window just as they’d agreed.

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Rachel, Above the Clouds…but we’re not sure if she’s Flying

To be embraced by passion, as if set on fire by the sun

I recently had a short story, Rachel, Above the Clouds, published by an online, Across the Margins. The original title was “Rachel, Above the Clouds, While Flying” and was written for a writing class I took in the early 1990s. I updated the technology in the story some, not much. Below is the version I submitted and you can use the link above to read the published version.
I’d appreciate your thoughts on which is the better story, and why.

Joseph Carrabis' 'Rachel, Above the Clouds' on Across the Margin

“SolarMax Ten to Houston.”

“This is Houston. Go ahead, SolarMax.”

“Ted, you feeling okay today? You sound awful froggy.”

“Guess again, Rachel.”

“Benny? Is that you?”

“Hi, Raech. Long time no hear.”

“What are you doing riding bridesmaid, Benny? I heard you’d gone civ.”

“I have, I have. Mission Control said the last few days had been rough and thought you’d like to hear a familiar voice on your last morning up.”

“How sweet of them. I’m kind of surprised to hear your voice, though.”

“Well, you know. Mission Control wanted to do something special on your last day up and they brought in me.”

“Thank them for me.”

“Will do.”

“Anybody else down there waiting for me?”

“Well…of course, Rachel. There are lots of people.”

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Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 8 – Montana-Mexican

Remember me now?

“You got dinner plans?”

“No, not really.”

“Good. Follow me. There’s a great Montana-Mex place about twenty miles down I95.”

“El Nina’s?”

“The exact place.”

Half an hour later Cortazar had a margarita the size of a small aquarium in front of her. She caught Phyl looking at the bowl-sized glass. “Don’t worry. This’ll take me all night.”

“Okay.” Phyl sipped from her beer bottle.

“You joined the force. How’d that happen?”

“You happened.”

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Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 7 – Girlfriends

I know you from somewhere, don’t I?

A guard silently escorted Dr. Cortazar and Phyl through the prison outside to the parking lot. Phyl looked at the sky and drew a deep breath.

“I – ”

“Amazing, isn’t it? You’re in there for what, maybe an hour? Probably less, and you feel it lift from you the minute you’re outside again.”

“I – ”

“Imagine what it’s like for those people inside. Not just the timers. The guards, too. The staff. The staff that can’t be made up from inmates, anyway. They get to see the world after eight hours, no overtime on this job. But the timers. Those put in the Hole. Lifers. They get to see the sun maybe an hour a day. You were in there for a small part of your day. Imagine being in there for years at a time.”

“I – ”

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Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 6 – The Parole Hearing

Dead or Alive. Preferably Dead. Very Dead. Extremely Dead. Completely forget that “Alive” part, okay?

The wooden chair screeched across the hardwood floor as Phyl pulled it under her. She’d placed her small, black leather purse on the green topped officers’ table in front of her. It looked like a little black island in a puke green sea. The table reminded her of industrial breakroom tables; functional but not inviting. She shifted her purse as she sat, placing it before her but not so far in front as to claim space, not setting a boundary. Her stomach gurgled quietly and she glanced around to see if anyone noticed. No one had.

A guard, the one who met her in the parking lot, absently caught her eye and smiled. He had her move her car to a roped off area next to a construction trailer then escorted her to the parole hearing. He didn’t say much but did chat her up a bit, commenting on her deep blue skirt, cream colored blazer and sky blue blouse, offering that it highlighted her hair and eyes.

She wondered if her outfit was too tight. She didn’t think it was. It was all tailored but not form fitting. She wasn’t wearing her boobshirt. Low, functional heels, not CFMs. Schwab suggested this outfit.

It was okay. She could do this. She exhaled, picked up her purse, opened it, removed a protein bar, closed her purse, giving each act a separate, metered and precise effort.

Porcino was not getting out.

If he got out, she’d risk it all and kill him.

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