A half-penny candy becomes Enron

Never believed in situational ethics. While I sympathize with Jean Valjean, he was still a thief. There are plenty of grey areas in life. Honesty isn’t one of them. Honesty is binary: anything you do is honest, or it’s not.

People make mistakes, sure, but if someone steals, and then all they do about it afterward is feel badly, they’re a thief. It’s a fundamental character defect.

A half-penny candy becomes Enron. I’m not kidding and I’m not exaggerating. Bend the twig and get a crooked tree.

Someone who’ll steal is bent. Bent is bent. Thieves aren’t known for veracity.

Bent is bent.

So when I say “it’s been bothering me,” what I really mean is that you can directly attribute some of this blathering and confusion to the severely disrupted emotional condition I’ve been in since I discovered that someone I feel strongly about, and could feel more strongly about with only a hint of a nudge, didn’t share my rigid moral character.

If that doesn’t make sense to you I suggest you don’t waste any more time on this tale than you already have.

If it does, you’ll know what it costs me to admit I stole something once, and why I’ve locked the memory away.

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

Her eyes slid over me like I was a boring patch of wallpaper

Standing where I’d been instructed, I scanned the room. There was too much room at my back for my liking, but no one was expecting me, personally, just someone standing right there. Other than to tell me to look where all the other red-blooded men were looking, Rose had been silent on anything more about Heather. Apparently it was important for me not to show any sign of recognition. I’d be contacted, Rose had said.

boring-patch-of-wallpaperIt all felt rather foolishly like a cheap spy novel, except for the part where Rosie made it clear lives (ours included) hung in the balance if I messed up.

Since it was the only job I had, I tried not to mess up standing in that spot.

Yeah, there wouldn’t be much story here if I’d been able to conquer that monumental task.

When she came around the far corner of the bar I almost shouted. Her eyes slid over me like I was a boring patch of wallpaper. Over twenty years, I’d know her anywhere, even in a dimly lit club.

So, of course, I blew everything, and shouted her name.

“Maddie!”

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

Phil Brennan, Web Martin, and Jesse Donovan Walk Into A Bar

Joel D CanfieldYou’d think I’d know what to expect considering who I was meeting in the cheap dive downtown.

One at a time, sure.

I’d never sat down with the three of them, not all at once.

It’s enough to drive you to drink.

Or for those with other proclivities, to write.

Or maybe both.


The vandals who’ve been stealing my grapes

security-camera“The library says they sent you. What do you want?”

Couldn’t she have asked them? Ah, maybe she did. Slick operator, this one. Nobody was catching her unawares.

“I’m checking on the surveillance equipment you checked out. It’s overdue.”

“Well, as I told you young man, they haven’t come yet.”

At this point, I expected a blue police box to land in the yard so David Tennant could take me somewhere, which made even less sense than this. After two heartbeats, I gave up on the Tenth Doctor and returned to Ms. or Mrs. Millhone.

“Who hasn’t come yet?” I almost added “ma’am” but fewer words felt safer.

“The vandals who’ve been stealing my grapes.”

She was now perilously close to making sense.

“You borrowed the equipment to watch for vandals stealing your grapes.”

“Certainly. Isn’t that what it’s for?”

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.

You want me to lean on kids who didn’t return “A Tale of Two Cities” on time?

being-a-bad-sport“You want me to lean on kids who didn’t return A Tale of Two Cities on time? Twist their arms for the nickel fine?”

She laughed. Out front, her underlings jumped at the sound. From the wary looks, it wasn’t a sound they heard often.

“Oh, no, not at all, though should we ever need such services I cannot imagine anyone better than you to provide them. I could imagine better with a name, I suppose.”

I told her. She introduced herself as Edie. It wasn’t what the nameplate on her desk said. I went with Edie.

“So Dickens is safe. Who’s not? Rare books?”

“Any book that couldn’t be replaced for a few dollars isn’t allowed out of the building. Unfortunately, electronic devices don’t fall under the same umbrella.”

“Nintendo decks, things like that?”

“No, we only loan the games for those things. What we’re losing control of is some expensive audiovisual equipment.”

This is an excerpt from That She is Made of Truth. To read the whole story, get your copy at Amazon.