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The Finest in Crime and Suspense Short Fiction

Story Excerpts

Smitty’s Roadside Diner
by Michael Bracken and Sandra Murphy 

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Smitty’s Roadside Diner had served travelers for nearly a century, but after the new highway bypassed Smithville, business had dwindled to a trickle. That Tuesday morning only three people were in the diner—the cook, the waitress, and a lone coffee drinker sitting in the rear booth, his back to the wall. He was more than three-cups-of-black jittery, and Ellen kept her eye on him.

He wore a dirty olive-green army jacket and had longish, unwashed black hair, several days’ growth of facial hair, and dark, unfocused eyes that darted back and forth. He didn’t look like a tweaker, one of the methamphetamine addicts who sometimes visited the diner, but he did look like the kind of customer who wouldn’t leave a tip and might even skip out on paying for the coffee. If he did, Ellen would cover the dollar and a half herself. She understood what he was going through. Since leaving her boyfriend the previous year, she’d had days when buying a cup of coffee meant not having enough gas money to get to work. READ MORE

Bayou Blues
by Shauna Washington 

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I watched the two women dressed in purple, yellow, and white stomping to the beat of the trumpets, trombones, and saxophone horns while waving their handkerchiefs back and forth. They grabbed at the giddy, willing patrons, engaging in a two-step while walking through the lobby of the hotel. Not wanting to be grabbed myself, I quickly slipped out the front doors and into the sweltering heat that was so oppressive I felt like I could cut the humidity with a knife. It was no wonder that the shuttle bus driver from the airport had a smirk on his face as he dropped me off at this place.

So this was Louisiana, I reflected, and more specifically, New Orleans. I’d heard so much about the South, and the city, that I was anxious to see it, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how hot and sticky it was. I felt my hair go from a Beyoncé flat iron to a Diana Ross blowout. READ MORE


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