Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dan Malmon Must Die

By Paula Matter

I wrote this story after accepting a challenge. Read more about it here:  

 “So what can you tell me about this guy?” I like knowing a little about what, and who, I’m up against. Right now, all I knew was someone wanted Dan Malmon dead by next Tuesday. 

“I know as much as you do. Let’s see if he’s on Facebook. Amazing what you can learn about a complete stranger.” He clicked a few keys on his laptop, then grinned. “Tons of public posts, photos.”

“What’s he look like?”

“A real geek. Skinny, wears tortoise shell glasses. Likes hockey, comics, rides a bike.”


“Schwinn, I think.” He scrolled. “Eats a lot of junk food--Mr. Pibb, donuts, cookies, candy bars, Pop Tarts, pizza. All sorts of crap. Jesus. Chocolate cake for breakfast.”

“Heart attack waiting to happen. And he’s skinny. Huh.”

“Must ride his bike a lot. Here he’s riding with his wife. Pretty. He calls her “Red” and says she’s a real ass-kicker.”

“Let me see.” I leaned forward, glanced at the screen he turned toward me. “She is pretty. She won’t be around, right?”

“Right.” He scrolled some more. “Wait. They’ve got a dog.”

Damn. I hated having to deal with animals. “Vicious?”

“Nah. It wears dresses. Any man who dresses up a dog deserves to die.”

I didn’t disagree.

“So. You want the job or not?” He pulled a thick envelope out of his briefcase.
I thought about it for about two seconds, then said, “Sure.” Sounded like easy money, an easy target. The one condition was weird, but what the hell. The customer was always right. The paying customer was always right. I shoved the envelope of cash into my pocket.
* * *
No barking when I rang the doorbell. The wife must’ve taken the dog with her.

The door opened about an inch, one eye peered out at me. “Yes?”

“Mr. Malmon? I’m with O’Shea’s Roofing, here to look at your roof.”

“I know nothing about this. Go away.”

“Your association wants me to take a look, sir. It’ll only take a few minutes.”

“Oh, okay.” He slid back the little chain, opened the door wide enough to let me in then quickly closed the door. 

I had my knife at his throat before he even turned around. I dragged his skinny ass to the living room, tied him to one of the chairs.

“Who are you? What do you want?” 

“Keep your mouth shut. You’ve pissed off the wrong person by talking too much.” I pulled my iPod out of my pocket, unwrapped the earphones and shoved them into Malmon’s ears. “Let’s see how you like this,” I said. I cranked up the volume and pushed the play button. I’d looped the video ahead of time, and watched his face as he listened to the short clip over and over.

It  didn’t take long for Malmon to start whimpering. Once the blubbering started, I moved closer. Every time I heard Letterman pause, I pulled the blade out of Dan Malmon.

Oprah, blade in. Pause, blade out. Uma, blade in. Over and over and over again.

The front door suddenly opened and in walked Malmon’s wife.  Red. The ass-kicker.

She took one look at her husband’s body, clenched her hand and held it up. “Now, this is worthy of a fist-bump.” 

The one condition. I returned her waiting fist. Like I always say, the paying customer is always right. 

 Dan O'Shea, should we ever meet, I'd like to buy you a drink as a way of thanking you for giving me an excuse to start writing again. Dan Malmon, sorry, and I guess I should also buy you a drink. Kate "Red" Malmon, you deserve free drinks forever. And ever.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Loss of a Working Stiff

by Joyce

For those who haven't heard the news, longtime Working Stiff Wilfred Bereswill passed away suddenly on Palm Sunday. ("Passed away" seems inadequate when a death is so unexpected.) I first heard about it on Easter Sunday, when Jenna Bennett/Jennie Bentley posted a link to her blog on Twitter. To say I was shocked doesn't begin to cover it. It was all I could think about for most of the day.

The only time I met Will in person was at Bouchercon in Baltimore. When Annette and I ran into him, it was like a family reunion.
Joyce, Will, Annette
It's strange how someone you know mostly through blog posts can make such a lasting impression. It's a testament to his ability to tell a story that so many people feel like they lost a good friend.

Will posted often on China and Hawaii--two of his favorite places. He wrote about his work, his books, his every day life, and a very poignant post about losing his father at a young age to colon cancer.

Will's every day life got hectic and eventually he had to drop writing for Working Stiffs. His last post with us was on March 7, 2011. Read it. It was titled So Long, Farewell & Amen.

Amen, indeed.

So long, Will. We miss you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is it...

...our last day. It's been loads of fun. We've enjoyed getting to meet each and every one of you. We hope you'll track us down elsewhere and stop and say hi.

It's with tears in our eyes we bid you adieu.

Until we meet again,

C.L., Gina, Martha, Kristin, Annette, Paula, Joyce, Jenna, Pat, and Ramona


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Death and Taxes

According to Benjamin Franklin, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Let me add change to that list. Nothing stays the same. Take Facebook for example. As soon as you learn how to navigate it, they change everything.

Spring seems an appropriate time for making changes. Mother Nature is trading in the drab monotone shades of winter for greens and yellows. Gray skies give way to blue. So not all change is bad.

Which of course brings me to all of us Working Stiffs. This is my last post here. Like all my fellow Stiffs, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Over the years, since Nancy Martin introduced us on September 3, 2006, regulars and guests have come and gone from this site. Only Joyce, Gina, and myself have remained throughout.

We’ve written through good times and bad. We’ve celebrated book launches and mourned family deaths. We’ve covered serious topics such as senseless murders in our own hometowns and we’ve gotten just plain silly more than once.

What I hope we’ve always done (sometimes with more success than others) is to entertain.

I’m still going to be around cyberspace. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I have my own blog, Writing, etc, where I’ll continue to write about whatever tickles my fancy on any given day. My website needs to be updated, but feel free to stop in there, too. You’ll be able to find the real me (as opposed to the virtual version) at the Pennwriters Conference in Lancaster PA this May (17-20), where I’ll be teaching a workshop Thursday afternoon. And I’ll be at Bouchercon in Cleveland this October even if I have to walk.

So at the end of the month, Working Stiffs may come to an end, but it’s simply another of life’s changes.

Happy Spring! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Beginings

by C.L. Phillips

Today is my final post for the Working Stiffs.  I'd like to thank Joyce Tremel for taking a chance on an unknown mystery writer from Austin, Texas.  Prior to blogging here, I'd made a few posts on the Sisters in Crime blog.  Joyce kindly offered me a home away from home, gave me a chance to find my blogging voice, and introduced me to the most amazing group of mystery writers.

I confess I'm a little sad and excited to see the end of Working Stiffs.  I've decided to strap on my big girl pants, grow a pair and launch my own blog at  C.L. Phillips, where I'll be waxing Texan about:

  • True crime (yep, it's massively stranger than anything I could create)
  • Flash mysteries (like two of my later entries on Working Stiffs, here and here)
  • Interviews with cool people who love reading and writing mysteries
  • The Story behind the Novel (or the true story of how I come up with crazy ideas to write)
The focus is narrow.  All mystery.  All for readers.  I hope to provide a place of fellowship and discussion for people that love to read mysteries, of all types.  Like most of my work, there will be irreverent humor, veiled sex, and more than one story you can tell at the bar with your friends.

I hope to see you there, and I'd love to keep in touch.  You can find me on twitter, and this summer I am launching two books, FIRST MISTAKE, and KILLERS ANONYMOUS,  Some of the Story behind the Novel will be hilarious, so you might want to stop by and find out how I created an ex-stripper-turned-psychic-channeler who channels a fifteenth century Irish Catholic priest and what happens when said priest drinks tequila.

And I hope to see you all at Bouchercon in Cleveland, where rumor has it, there is tequila at the hotel bar.  Cue the Eagles, and Hotel California.  You gotta admit, when you hear the line, "you can check in but you can never leave", you wish the song was a full length mystery novel, no?

Joyce, my deepest and sincerest thanks.  And to everyone else, I'm buying the first round at Bouchercon.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jane Austen Sequels and ReWrites

By Pat Gulley

I think Dear Jane’s work is about the most rewritten and sequels added to in a category other than Science Fiction. It all started in 1913 with Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil G. Brinton and has been roaring along ever since.

I’ve read a bunch of them—the sequels, not the rewrites. I don’t like rewrites, they seem too presumptuous, as if they know better than the original author. Sequels allows us to find out more about secondary or lesser characters. Some of my absolute favorites are The Lydia Bennet Story, Charlotte Collins, The Diary of Captain Wentworth, and Mercy’s Embrace—a three book series about Ann Elliott’s sister Elizabeth. Oh, you are not Janites, okay, Lydia and Charlotte are from Pride and Prejudice and Captain Wentworth, Ann and Elizabeth are from Persuasion, which is my all time favorite Austen Book.

I even have a sequel started myself. It isn’t one of my files that I open frequently due to the fact that one must be in the mood for the totally different speech patterns and spellings necessary to keep the time period right. (I’m assuming all historical writers understand this, but OTOH, I have seen some written with totally modern language. Most Janites would disapprove.

So it occurs to me that a lot of famous books might deserve sequels and I’d like to see what you think.
Without doing Jane, or Conan Doyle or Shakespeare, and not taking up the ones that already exist in SF, like Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, and not Harry Potter, what great stand alone book or famous character from fiction of any kind would you like to write a sequel to? No, we won’t demand you get to it, just a little bit of daydreaming about if you could or maybe someday should.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Saying Good-Bye

By Paula Matter

Two weeks ago this time, I was grateful I still had two weeks to come up with today’s blog post. My last one here at Working Stiffs. 
Saying good-bye isn’t easy.
Two weeks ago, I’d written about the sudden death of Davy Jones. Last Saturday I went to a memorial in Beavertown, PA to say good-bye to him. (There are tons of photos and videos on Facebook and Youtube. I have a couple of videos at both places).
Saying good-bye is not easy.
It helped that the atmosphere, the whole event wasn’t totally sad or somber. Lots of funny stories and good music helped ease the sadness. His life was celebrated and I was there with 500 others to help do it.
So that's how I decided to end my last post.

Y'know how you're suppose to give the audience what they want? Darcy Flynn, this one's for you:


Or you're suppose to leave 'em laughing?

My favorite clean joke:

Do you know why seagulls don't fly over bays?

Because then they'd be bagels.

No? Not laughing? Okay. Tell you what. Since this can't possibly be the last time we'll be together, next time we meet, I'll tell you some of my better, dirtier jokes.

Thanks, fellow Stiffs, and dear readers and commenters, for all of the good times.

Til next time. . .