All Stories, General Fiction

The Rifle by Tom Sheehan

Thump. Bump. Bang. Sixty years collapsed around his feet as if they were a single lump. Merricut was one step inside the front door of the antique shop, an hour-old beer settling within him, his wife Lynette three steps ahead of him. 

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All Stories, General Fiction, Historical

What’s in My Wallet? By Tom Sheehan

For these past 70 years, since 1951 in Korea, I have carried a 1000 Won Korean Banknote in my wallet with the signatures of all my squad members on the face of that banknote, our unit being Headquarters section, First Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division, when we were deployed on the far side of Lake Hwachon, and when squad members put their signatures on that bank note, given to me by a Korean worker assigned to our unit, Lee Bong Ha. He was a chief figurehead in his own right when he made a replacement crystal for a comrade’s broken watch crystal out of a plastic spoon, which was carried in many military papers under the title of “Time to Spoon.” Lee Bong Ha had been paid off from his government contract with a basketful of such banknotes, and passed them out like the near-useless paper that they were (some of them used for the most unlikely reasons you might think of.)

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General Fiction, Short Fiction

 The Quiet, Empty Bedrooms of Saugus by Tom Sheehan 

                         

As all of earth once growled and gnarled its way to an instant conflagration, a calamitous roar, all its gears beginning to shift, in the near-middle of the last century, Saugus, Massachusetts, a small town just north of Boston, started to empty its bedrooms… the ones in the attic, in the space out over the garage, third floor second door on the left, the bedrooms facing on the pond or the cemetery or those looking broadly down on the wide marshes or quickly down on quiet Cliftondale Square. The bedrooms where boys cruised into manhood, almost overnight at that.

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All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Sonny’s Shadow by Marco Etheridge

My eyes snap open and in that instant, I’m battered by the three-punch combo of a massive hangover, Rosie pounding on my door, and three more dead on my ledger. The hangover will sort itself eventually, the dead are dead, but Rosie will beat the damn door down if I don’t answer. She’s stubborn as hell, is Rosie, and dangerous strong for a female.

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All Stories, General Fiction

A Psalm for Eddie by Tom Sheehan

“One day,” Ed LeBlanc said, up to his crotch in the swiftly flowing Pine River near Ossipee, New Hampshire, rod tip high, a bright Macintosh apple half eaten in his left hand, his words more oath than wisdom, “we’re going fly fishing in Curt Gowdy country.” He said little else that morning, intent on the merest sensations electric at fingertips, on early May temperature of water laying heavy tongue on our boots, on the Mac’s sweet taste, on delicious silence falling on our heads as if the world was a mushroom and we under that still cap.

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All Stories, Historical

Captain Carey’s Luck by Michael Bloor

I came across the manuscript below in a second-hand shop in Simla, the former British hill-station in the foothills of the Himalayas, among some papers previously belonging to a Victorian military surgeon. The ms was seemingly written in Bombay (now Mumbai) and signed by Captain Jahleel Brenton Carey of the 98th Regiment of Foot (later to become the South Wales Borderers). It is dated the 23rd of February, 1883 (two days before his death, aged thirty six), and appears to be written as a kind of testament.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Silent Retrieval by Tom Sheehan

The day had a head start on young Liam Craddock, he could feel it, and all that it promised. Across the years, on the slimmest sheet of air, piggybacking a whole man’s aura on that fleet thinness, he caught the sense of tobacco chaw or toby, mule leather’s hot field abrasion, gunpowder’s trenchant residue, men at confusion. If it wasn’t a battlefield in essence, or scarred battle ranks, he did not know what else it could be. And it carried the burning embers of memory.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Once Screamed to Drunks at the Vets Bar, Memorial Day Evening by Tom Sheehan

Sixty-six years now and they come at me, in Chicago, Crown Point, Indiana, by phone from Las Vegas.

I tell them how it happened, long after parting, one night when I was in a bar, thinking of them all.

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All Stories, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Top Secret by Tom Sheehan

His name was Maxwell Max Dugan and this is his story, but only covers those disturbing and warful years between 1941 to 1947, just seven years chockfull of battles, combat, explosions, heroic people, deadly people on a world-wide rampage, and means of salvage, at least of the souls, if nothing else.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Caught Wearing the Rags of War by Tom Sheehan

The day’d gone over hill, but light still remained, cut with a gray edge, catching rice paddy corners. In battle’s blue brilliance they’d become comrades, friends, Walko and Williamson and Sheehan, at night drinking beer cooled by Imjin River in August of ‘51 in Korea. Three men clad in rags of war. Stars hung pensive neon. Mountain-cool silences were earned, hungers absolved, ponderous God talked to. Above silence, that God’s weighty as clouds, elusive as windy soot, yields promises. They used church keys to tap cans, lapped up silence rich as missing salt, fused their backbones to good earth in rituals old as labor itself, men clad in rags of war. Such August night gives itself away, tells tales, slays the rose in reeling carnage, murders sleep, sucks moisture out of Mother Earth, fires hardpan, does not die before dawn, makes strangers in one’s selves, those caught wearing rags of war. They’d been strangers beside each other, caught in the crush of tracer nights and starred flanks, accidents of men drinking beer cooled by bloody waters where brothers roam, warriors come to that place by fantastic voyages, by generations of the persecuted or the adventurous, carried in sperm bodies, dropped in the spawning, fruiting womb of America, caught wearing rags of war.

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