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Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Garden Path by Simon Duringer - Scene 5


“Mr Paul, this is the police, we need to ask you a few questions. Open the door or we’ll be forced to break it down!”

Break the door down? Frederick thought; why would they need to do that… He stalled for a moment, “Wait, wait… I’m coming”, he stuttered nervously.

Just feet away, on the other side of this physical wooden barrier, the constable stood up straight, no longer needing to stoop to shout through the letterbox. He glanced at his partner, shrugged and commented sarcastically “Let’s give the man a minute.”

Inside the house Frederick’s mind was racing. Why are these people being so aggressive? He was already regretting becoming involved, and nervously edged towards the door to confront his visitors. As he undid the catch and attempted to open up just enough to peek through, the officer outside shoved the door with a force that knocked Frederick off balance. The edge of the door struck his skull above the eyebrow and Frederick shrieked and bowed over in pain, clutching his face. Blood quickly seeped from his forehead onto his hands. Gritting his teeth, he peered upwards to see the officers already inside. They saw a man in some shock, still disorientated from the blow, and like a speechless child Frederick held out his bloodied palms to show them what they’d done.

“Frederick Paul… I am arresting you for the murder of Mr Smythe…” he paused, staring in disgust at the blood-stained and scruffy man standing in front of him, before continuing to read him his statutory rights…

Frederick stood silently... pure disbelief held him paralysed. DI Loxley’s counterpart reached for a pair of handcuffs and clumsily attached them onto Frederick’s wrists before manhandling him, terrified and wounded, out through the front door and to the waiting police vehicle…

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Werewolf Whisperer - Segment 2

Xochitl Magaña paced nervously behind the bar of her cantina, anxiously waiting for the cops to arrive.
¡Santa Maria, reza por mí!
Turning in her gangbanger boyfriend Memo was dangerous at best.
I'm gonna be in deep shit if this doesn't go down right...And Miguel, Memo'll...
"No," Xochitl hissed, squashing the sprouting thought before it could ripen. "This'll work."
She snatched a towel from its hook and began wiping down the individual liquor bottles that lined the shelves behind the bar.
El Gallo's done.
Memo Morales preferred the moniker "El Gallo" and fancied himself Tony Montana.
¡Híjole! What's with vatos and Scarface?
And like an over-glorified, self-obsessed crime lord, El Gallo had exploited his relationship with Xochi, using her bar as his headquarters — his command center for the gang's illegal operation.
And I let him.
But El Gallo gave her protection — something Xochitl desperately needed after her papa had died. And she had to admit, just as Memo liked having the only fair- skinned, light-eyed, natural blond ruca in the neighborhood, she'd initially liked the attention he'd given her.
It had been hard growing up a "güera" in the barrio — a place, despite being Mexicana, Xochitl had never felt she truly belonged.
School had been her refuge, and she'd even won an academic scholarship to UCLA.
I was so close to getting out.
Then everything changed. Her father had a stroke. His health rapidly deteriorated. She dropped all her classes. Moved back home. Took over the bar. Took over care of Miguel.
Back in the hood, back in the life with Memo.
But Memo went too far. Gun running. There was no way Xochitl could live with herself knowing she had let this thug take over the business her papa had worked so hard to build.
God, what would Papa think of me now? I just wanted to keep the bar going and Miguel safe.
Xochitl hated all of it: the dogfights, the guns, the East Los Locos — Memo.
She shook off the flutter of nerves vibrating up and down her spine and noticed she'd been wiping off the same fifth of tequila. As she carefully placed the Cuervo Gold in its proper slot between the Don Julio and Patrón bottles, she caught the reflection of her cantina in the mirrored glass that backed the liquor racks lining the wall.
Wood and leather tables filled the space. A '50s style jukebox, her papa's pride and joy, played only vinyl from the '60s and '70s. "Mija, there's no other music." He would tell her whenever she'd begged him to update the playlist. Various paintings of matadors and bullfights attempted to lend a Spanish flavor to the rugged bar.
Xochitl's Cantina had been Xochi's home since she was six when her father, Carlos, had left the Marine Corps, following her mother's death. And in its heyday, her
papa's bar had been the favorite local hangout.
The barrio Cheers.
By the time she was eleven, Xochitl had a stepmother she couldn't stand and a new baby brother she adored.
¡Híjole! In one shot, Anita went from barfly to mother. What was Papa thinking?
But Xochitl remembered how sad and lonely her papa had been after her mom had died. He was honorable and would never have considered not marrying the mother of his child. Carlos Magaña was the finest man Xochi had ever known.
Biting back tears, Xochitl clenched her eyes. Her papa's warm and inviting spirit echoed within every element of the cantina.
I miss you Papa.
For what seemed like the millionth time, Xochi looked up to the neon DOS EQUIS clock hanging over the bar.
2:37 A.M.? They're late. The fights'll be over and Memo'll leave soon. He's gonna wonder why I'm still here and not waiting for him upstairs.
"Where the hell are they?" she mumbled.
"Where the hell's who?" Memo Morales asked.
Startled, Xochitl whipped around, knocking over several liquor bottles. She barely

registered the clamoring rattle of glass hitting glass as Memo, who had come in from the back without her noticing, stood behind her.
Despite the frozen crush of heart-stomping anxiety, Xochi couldn't help admire Memo's movie star looks and how his white T-shirt and jeans emphasized his strong, lean build. His big, hazel eyes always took her breath away. Tonight was no different.
Still the best-looking guy in the neighborhood.
"Who's late?" Memo asked again, grabbing a beer from the cooler under the bar. "Huh, what? one. I mean, Miguel. He's late."
Memo wrapped his arms around Xochi and tugged at her rose embroidered

peasant blouse. "¡Ay, mamí! Let the boy be. He's almost eighteen. A man." He began kissing her neck. "Why don't you go upstairs, put on that sexy slip thing I got you? I'm all wound up. You can help me relax."
Wrinkling her nose at the smell of stale beer and dog, Xochi shrugged Memo off her. "What do you know about it? He's not one of your boys."
Xochitl knew she shouldn't be flippant with Memo. He had a short temper and could be aggressive with her when he didn't get his way. But she couldn't help herself when it came to her little brother Miguel. She hated it when Memo thought he had any say in how Miguel was raised.
She wanted to yell in Memo's face, "Stay away cabrón! He's mine!" Instead she whispered, "I'm tired."
Xochitl walked around to the front of the counter, trying to put distance between herself and Memo. She could see in his eyes he was losing his patience.
Where's la chota already?
Undeterred, Memo closed the gap between them and grabbed her arm, yanking her to him. "I said go upstairs and get in that pinche slip, bitch."
Xochitl pulled her arm back and without thinking threw a right hook to his jaw. Instantly, she felt pain shoot from her fist straight up her arm. "¡Ay carajo!"
Shaking out the sting from her hand, Xochi looked up and saw Memo stunned, holding the left side of his face.
Oh, fuck! What did I do?
Instinctively, she began backing up toward the bar's front door to make her escape.
As she turned from Memo, Xochi heard a menacing laugh and the distinctive clicking sound of a gun being cocked.
"Not bad for a little güera bitch. Daddy teach you that?"
Xochitl grabbed for the door.
"Don't you fucking move, puta."
Naked fear blasted through Xochitl's body, leaving her feet bolted to the floor.

She had nowhere to go. If she moved, Memo would shoot her.
He's gonna shoot you anyway.
Taking a chance, she slowly turned back to face Memo. He stood at close range, his gun pointed at her chest.
Oh, God.
Xochi raised her hands in the air.
"Please, Memo," she tried to placate him. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean—" "¡Cállate!" Memo growled, pacing back and forth in front of her like a wild beast

about to pounce on his prey.
An odd bubble of calm enveloped Xochi, and — as if locked in stasis, she stood

immobile, waiting, contemplating her next move.
"You think you can do this to me and not pay, bitch? I'm El Gallo!"
Xochitl stole a glance at the bar.
Behind the counter. Papa's shotgun. If I'm quick enough...
"I run this—" Memo raged on only to suddenly cut himself off.
Xochitl brought her attention back to El Gallo. He stared past her at the frosted

glass window. She slowly craned her neck to follow his line of sight. A shadow moved swiftly by the front of the bar.
¡Híjole! About damn time!
She turned back to Memo. His eyes again fixed on her. Xochitl could see by the amazed and — hurt? — look on his face that he'd puzzled out she had betrayed him. Why Memo hadn't made a move on her yet she didn't understand. She wasn't
about to ask. Keeping him in her sights, she began inching her way to the bar.
Xochitl had almost reached the end of the counter when Manny, a fourteen-year-

old boy, one of Memo's lookouts, sprinted into the cantina from the kitchen. "¡Jefe! ¡La chota! ¡Afuera!"
Memo regained his senses. "¿Dónde?"
"Everywhere. I came from the dumpsters out back," the boy answered.
¡Carajo! The cops didn't find the kitchen entrance!
The side alley door was hidden by the dumpster enclosure. Xochitl's produce
vendors constantly complained about the difficult access.
If I get out of this alive, I'm gonna move those pinche dumpsters.
"Did anyone see you?" El Gallo asked the boy as he moved toward the kitchen and peeked through the swinging door.

"No, Jefe," the boy replied, pulling out a 9mm handgun stuffed in his pants like a gangster out of a movie he'd probably watched a million times.
"The cops will find the kitchen door soon." Memo stepped back into the bar.
Xochitl eyed El Gallo, as he searched the room for another way out, revulsion churning her guts.
How did I ever get mixed up with this monster? What am I gonna do if he gets away?
Memo glanced down the hall toward the restrooms. His mouth turned up into a sly grin, and Xochi knew he had figured out his escape.
¡Hijo de puta! Where's pinche Xena warrior cop?
Unsure, Manny took a tentative step closer to El Gallo.
Memo put up his hand, halting the boy. "Stay here, homes. Pinche cops can't touch you." The gang leader beat his chest with his fist and shouted in salute, "¡Órale! East Los!"
"East Los!" The dutiful boy soldier mimicked.
Some day this kid's gonna get himself killed by these pendejos. That will not be my Miguel.
El Gallo turned back to Xochitl, "I'll deal with you later." Then he ran down the hall toward the women's restroom.
Xochi stood next to the bar, staring after Memo. There was nothing she could do now except hope the cops would nab him crawling out the bathroom window. She looked over to Manny, who appeared lost now that his leader had ditched him.
Poor kid. Doesn't even know Memo could give a shit what happens to him.
Shouting and gunfire blasted from the back lot.
Officer Lowell.
Xochi darted behind the bar, grabbed the Smith & Wesson 12 gauge, checked it was loaded and readied herself. Looking up, she watched Manny cock his gun.
"Wait," she hissed.
Manny smiled at her and ran for the back exit.
"Shit!" Xochitl, shotgun in hand, took off after the boy. 

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Garden Path by Simon Duringer - Scene 4


Frosted air trailed behind the detectives as they made their way up the short garden path to the front door of number 31. They found the door slightly ajar. The bellowing wails from inside the house had subsided into little more than sobs. Detective Inspector Loxley called out to Mrs Smythe. He paused for an answer, but with none forthcoming he cautiously nudged the door open and briefly took stock of the hallway. Exercising standard procedure, he checked for hazards before entering what was potentially a crime scene; there was a table on its side and post strewn across the hallway floor. Immediately ahead was a staircase, and beyond it a kitchen with the adjoining door wide open. He slowly entered the small, modern two-up semi, and as he moved towards the source of the sobs he silently waved his partner past, towards the darkened staircase ahead. He called out again, this time in a more inquisitorial tone before cautiously entering the Smythes' living room.

Immediately, as he saw the body, he lunged forward like a sprinter taking flight from the starting blocks and, mid-leap, hailed the ambulance crew forward. Mrs Smythe was kneeling on the carpet next to a bloodied Mr Smythe. With his head in her lap, she was rocking to and fro in time with her sobs. Her arms and blouse were covered in blood, and there was a bloodied knife at the side of Mr Smythe’s body that had, clearly, previously been embedded in his chest. The telephone had been pulled to its full extension from the wall socket; the receiver was bloodied and off the hook following her call to the emergency services.

Loxley extended his right arm, the palm of his hand towards Mrs Smythe. He moved forward as though pushing through an invisible force field. Sternly and authoritatively, he ordered “Mrs Smythe, move away from the body!” His command set her off wailing once more as she shuffled backwards on her knees, her hands remaining on her husband’s body as long as she dared. The ambulance crew, ignoring Mrs Smythe completely, moved in to attend to the mortally wounded and bloodied man.

Mrs Smythe looked up at Loxley, her face swollen from crying, and shrieked hysterically, “Did you get him, did you get that sodding freak?!”

For interview and/or further information please contact Simon:
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Twitter: @SimonDuringer
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Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Garden Path by Simon Duringer - Scene 3


Across the street at number 30, Mrs Patricia Booth, an elderly widow, began observing the scene. She had been napping in front of the television when she was awakened by the nearby shrieks. Now in her eighties, she had suffered a stroke during the previous 12 months and her movement was restricted by the necessity to use a Zimmer frame. The disturbance outside sent chills through her body. It reminded her of the war days and the blitz she had lived through as a child. But regardless of her frailty, she reached the curtains just in time to see a dark and imposing gentleman stepping away briskly from the gate of number 31 and heading up the path of number 29.

This gentleman was certainly not Mr Smythe, and if she had been ten years younger she would almost certainly have ventured out to investigate. Rather, she immediately headed for the telephone to call the police and was quick to impart all the details of what she had heard and seen. She too was told to remain in her house which, at her age, came as something of a relief. After replacing the handset she immediately headed to the front door to ensure it was locked. Fumbling her way back to the living room, she turned the lights out, and recalling the ‘blackout’ nights of her youth, she cowered behind the curtains and peeked out with morbid curiosity as the emergency services arrived on the scene.

The police were first, arriving very quickly after Mrs Smythe's initial phone call, followed by the ambulance which had come from further away. Patricia gasped as the ambulance crew arrived. An ambulance? It would appear things were more sinister than she had first thought. Unable to contain herself, she headed back to the phone, clumsily manoeuvring her walking aid as she went. Compelled to tell somebody what was taking place, she glanced at the clock on her mantelpiece and decided her niece was probably the most likely still to be awake. It was ten past midnight on Wednesday 11 November. A time and date she would never forget.

For interview and/or further information please contact Simon:
Mobile: 07449 810583
Twitter: @SimonDuringer
Facebook: Simon Dusty Duringer

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Friday, December 1, 2017

The Werewolf Whisperer - Segment 1

Kyon Virus
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Kyon Virus (also known as KV, Wereflu, or The Affliction) is a sudden-onset viral infectious disease that attacks the entire body, transforming the muscular and skeletal structures of the host. Typically, the first signs of KV begin with extreme muscle and joint pain and a temporary loss of equilibrium, followed by the development of canine- like features. Symptoms include excessive body hair, unnaturally vibrant colored eyes, lupine snout, sharp fang-like teeth, over-developed musculature, clawed hands and feet and preternatural strength. There may be a loss of inhibitions in the Afflicted, and in some cases, KV may cause extreme aggressive behavior.
The Kyon Virus manifests in hosts in a variety of ways, leading to the three-tiered classification of the Were: Hound, Feral and Werebeast. For further classification information see Lucy Lowell. See The Werewolf Whisperer. See Xochitl (Socheel) Magaña (Mah-gah-nyah).
No known cure for the Kyon Virus exists, nor can the symptoms be treated. It is estimated at the initial outbreak (see K-Day) one in twenty Californians contracted the disease.

K-Day 24 months ago
Lucy Lowell tucked into the shadows behind the white cinder block wall of Xochitl's Cantina and listened. Coarse Spanglish curses pierced the night, accompanied by loud cheers and snatches of Tijuana narco-pop. Vicious barking and short, pained shrieks lacerated the seedy revelry.
Through holes in the camouflage canvas stretched over the parking lot's chain- link fence, Lucy counted thirty East Los Locos gangbangers crowding around a shallow dogfight pit. Strewn around, discarded like trash, lay lumps of fur and flesh Lucy didn't have the stomach to focus on. Through the wall of men, Lucy caught a glimpse of a blue nose pit bull turning away from its opponent, a muscular pit mastiff mix.
"Handle your dog, güey!" a paunchy man yelled from just outside the ring.
Accompanied by loud taunts, men from each side of the pit dragged their dogs back to the scratch lines. The mastiff's handler fussed at the dog's mouth, unfanging the dog's lip from its teeth. Clearly dead tired and hurt, the blue nose pit bull started toward the line of cages against the opposite fence.
"Whoa, Puta." A young man with a baseball cap turned backwards yanked the dog's collar hard, causing the pit to drop to the ground as if taking cover.
From her hiding place, Lucy could see deep scratches on the pit bull's face, bite wounds bleeding on the shoulder and old burn marks seared into the fur.
Lucy's stomach cramped.
The dollar tacos she and her partner Gabe had devoured on their way to Echo Park threatened a hasty exit. Cabra Blanca, their favorite late night food truck, had been parked close to the raid at Montana and Alvarado. Eddie, the owner, always included extra mango guacamole with Lucy's order.
Guacamole! Shouldna eaten. The dogfighting makes me sick enough. Why'd I chance it with the cabeza quesadilla on top of those goat tacos?
Lucy breathed in slowly and directed her gaze from the hurt dog to the few stars blinking in the murky L.A. sky. The lights of an airplane outshone the sliver of the waning crescent moon. She could make out the distant roar of jet engines.
"Bitch won't fight no more, jefe." The young man with the cap delivered a kick to the blue nose pit's side. An ugly curse cut through the tumult as a man in a formfitting white T-shirt and dark designer jeans parted the crowd.
Memo Morales, cock of the walk. Nice of you to join us.
Teeth clenched, Lucy drew her sidearm and looked back down the alley. Officer Gabe Torres of the LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force quietly crouched down next to Lucy, indicating with a nod that he too had spotted "El Gallo."
Her partner for five years, Gabe was as fierce an animal rights protector as Lucy had ever met. Both she and Gabe had risked both badge and incarceration many times, as they rescued dogs from backyard dogfighting with or without departmental approval.
Tonight's raid was another point of contention with their ACTF lieutenant. When the confidential informant had approached Lucy and Gabe about dogfighting behind her cantina, it had been just the break they'd been looking for. These East Los Locos had been brokering dogfights for years, but their slippery leader Memo Morales, a.k.a. "El Gallo," always managed to ensconce the events with aggravating efficiency.
Distressingly the CI, Xochitl Magaña, had given Lucy and Gabe much more than they'd hoped for. El Gallo and his Los Locos were running guns. The dogfights, while generating tens of thousands of dollars on their own, were a mere front. Lucy and Gabe's supervisor Lieutenant Heckman had turned their information over to her superior, Captain Burch. Burch had taken the lead on the raid, called in SWAT and only allowed the ACTF along as a courtesy after Lucy had begged to be involved. Lucy and Gabe had been virtually cut out of the planning despite their relentless pursuit of the East Los Locos dogfighting ring.
"Get rid of it, Tuti!" El Gallo spat, prompting Lucy to inch forward. She could see El Gallo throw a fistful of cash at another man and stalk into the cantina through the backdoor.
The gangbangers laughed and joked as more money changed hands. Pushing the baseball-capped banger away, the man named Tuti threw a chain around the bloodied pit bull's neck and dragged her clear of the wall of men. The exhausted dog cowered from Tuti as he tightened the chain around her neck. Small whimpers reached Lucy's ears.
"Just shoot it." A thin teenage boy in baggy jeans and an oversized white T-shirt approached Tuti with what looked like a Hi-Power Browning 9mm.
Nice gun.
A detached part of Lucy's brain noted the semi-automatic.
"¡Cállate, Flaco! Let's have some fun." Tuti yanked the chain, smashing the pit's
chin into the asphalt. The sharp yowl caught the attention of the other attending Locos who turned to watch Tuti's show.
Gabe's hand settled on Lucy's arm and held tight. She would have bruises in the morning.
"Wait," he hissed.
Lucy tilted her head to look directly into her partner's dark brown eyes. In a split second a struggle resolved between them. Burch's words, "You two hotheads are on thin ice," echoed in her memory. She knew Gabe remembered it too.

"X the bitch, Tuti!" Drunken hysteria pitched the Locos' voices higher. "¡Fuego! ¡Fuego! ¡Fuego!"
Her eyes still locked on Gabe, Lucy knew what was happening in the parking lot. Having investigated the sad aftermath of the East Los Locos games, she knew what inevitably came next. Slowly she nodded her head, and Gabe released his grip. It wasn't the plan. It wasn't even smart.
Lucy rose to her full height. Her Beretta clutched firmly, Lucy shot a quick smile to Gabe. Easily on the taller side of six feet, muscled like a professional bodybuilder, Gabe Torres looked scary as hell.
Glad you're on my side, good buddy.
Lucy felt calm wash down from her head to her toes. This was what she was made for. 

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