Enjoy this week’s video story: Click Here
My debut novel, Joshua and the Shadow of Death is due to release October 30th, 2018
Enjoy this week’s video story: Click Here
My debut novel, Joshua and the Shadow of Death is due to release October 30th, 2018
Grayson stood there in shackles. His hands chained to his orange jumpsuit. The manacles on his ankles bit into his flesh each moment he tried to move his legs too far. Not more than five feet to his right stood Caleb’s mother. Tears streamed down her face. Between them stood his lawyer and the District Attorney. Sheriff deputies stood vigil around the group. Nobody knew what the judge would say.
The judge’s voice was firm, “Mrs. James. You may address the court, but not the defendant. The court is aware of your loss and has compassion for your situation, but I need to remind you that this is still a courtroom and we need to maintain order.”
“Thank you, your Honor,” said Mrs. James.
Time stood still for Grayson. Judge Webb was in his mid-sixties. He had been a fair judge throughout the trial. Grayson had only had a limited dialog with the judge, but the man always seemed respectful, even though he had every right not to be. Judge Webb turned his eyes towards Grayson, “Young man, the words I just spoke to the victim’s family apply to you too.”
Grayson shuffled his feet and said, “Yes, sir,” amid the rattling of this chains.
Although Mrs. James was supposed to address the court, she looked squarely at Grayson. Grayson could not stop himself from looking in her direction. Mrs. James’ long gray hair was frazzled and looked as though she had not taken a brush to it in days. Her kind blue eyes that had once looked upon him as a child pooled up with tears of sorrow. Black circles and sunken cheeks made Mrs. James appear older, sicker, closer to death. One good look and Grayson wanted to burst out with the truth, but he would not dare. He had given Caleb his solemn word. Some might call him innocent, but Grayson knew he was guilty.
“Why would you shoot him?” asked Mrs. James.
“Address the court,” said the judge.
Grayson looked up at the judge, “Please, your Honor, it’s okay. She has a right to ask me.”
Grayson turned back to Mrs. James. “Ma’am, your son was a brother to me. We had been together through school, the Army, the middle east, and back home again. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for your son.”
Mrs. James’ tired eyes narrowed as she spoke, “Then why would you kill him?”
Grayson sighed. He could feel the tears flowing down his cheeks. He wished he could reach his face to wipe them away. His defense attorney took a tissue from her purse and wiped them for him. “I wish I could tell you,” said Grayson, “I do, but I made a promise.”
“What kind of promise, Grayson? I thought we were like family.” Mrs. James voiced strained against her frustration and grief.
Grayson shook his head, “I’m sorry ma’am. It’s best if Y’all just put me down like Caleb.”
Mrs. James began to weep, and the judge interjected. “I think that’s enough of the victim statement.”
The judge’s voice deepened and projected farther as he took on a firm, magisterial tone. “Mr. Grayson, this court finds you,” suddenly the rear doors burst opened on the closed hearing. Two deputies stepped in front of a young lady who was smartly dressed and carrying a briefcase in one hand, and a piece of paper in another. The DA spoke up quickly. “I’m sorry, everyone. Your honor, she’s part of my staff.” The District Attorney looked towards the commotion at the rear of the courtroom and raised her voice, “Jenny, this had better be life and death.”
Jenny nodded her head furiously.
The DA turned back to the judge. “Please, if I might have the court’s indulgence, just five minutes. Jenny wouldn’t cause a scene if it weren’t important.”
“Five minutes,” said the judge.
Grayson was led back to his seat behind the defendant’s table. The DA walked to the back of the courtroom to meet with Jenny. Grayson sat quietly while his defense attorney, Kim reviewed some notes she had written in her plea to avoid the death penalty. Only a minute had passed when the DA asked Kim to join her in the back of the room.
The judge returned six minutes after leaving the courtroom. The attorneys were behind their respective tables, and Mrs. James sat behind the DA with Jenny consoling her. The DA remained standing as everyone sat down with the judge. “Your honor, if it pleases the court. Crucial evidence has come to our attention that we must share.”
Judge Webb raised an eyebrow and said, “I don’t think you need to add anything new to prove your case, Ms. Willis.”
“It’s not for my case, your Honor, it’s for the defense.”
Judge Webb paused, let out a breath and invited the lawyers to the bench.
Grayson began to tap his feet. Why don’t we end this? Haven’t I been tortured enough? Just convict me and put me away already, he thought to himself.
The attorneys returned, and Kim remained standing. She motioned for Grayson to stand up.
“Mr. Grayson Long, it has come to the court’s attention that you did not, in fact, shoot the defendant but attempted to stop him from shooting himself.”
A wave of nausea swept over Grayson. How could they have found out? He never said a word to anyone. “Who told you that?”
The judge frowned at Grayson, “Why does that matter young man?”
“I gave Caleb my word nobody would ever know. I couldn’t get to him in time to stop him, but I could at least keep his reputation intact. It’s the least I could do. I tried to stop him, but I was too slow getting the door opened. I should have been holding that stupid key. I should have known he would lock the door. I lost precious time having to dig through my pockets to find that apartment key. Seconds, I was only a few seconds too late. The only thing I could do was make him a promise to keep things a secret and tell him I loved him as he took his last breath.”
“You risked the gallows because you didn’t have a key in your hand? Young man, you could have been executed for something that isn’t your fault,” said Judge Webb.
Grayson shrugged, “Everybody dies sometime.”
Judge Webb thought for a moment and then nodded his head. His magisterial tone returned, “It is the order of this court, in agreement with the District Attorney, that this case is dismissed, and all documents and records of evidence associated with said case be sealed. Additionally, any arrests, fines or other items associated with this case and Mr. Grayson Long are to be expunged. We’re adjourned.”
“What about Caleb?” pleaded Grayson. “I made a promise!”
Kim put her arm on Caleb’s shoulder, “Don’t worry. We are going to say the weapon accidentally discharged moments before you arrived for a visit. We won’t release all the security camera footage the exterminator found when he was up in the attic. He was the person who found the hidden security camera with the memory stick still inside it.”
Mrs. James walked over. As soon as the chains were free, she threw her arms around Grayson and wept into his shoulder. Her muffled voice was barely audible through her sobbing. “Thank you. Thank you for honoring my son. I prayed you hadn’t done it. You were like a brother to Caleb and a son to me. I feared I had lost both my sons.”
Grayson began to cry, and he and Mrs. James held each other tight.
Author: “Joshua and the Shadow of Death”
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gmacwriter/
Ethan sat by the quiet stream. The bubbling brook brought peace to his soul. A gentle breeze blew through the freshly leafed Spring trees. Green ferns graced the edges of the crystal-clear water that ran over the rocks. Eastern blue star flowers dotted the sides of the woods. Poplar trees and oaks populated much of the forest around Ethan. He sat there on his favorite rock pondering what he was going to do next with his life.
Caroline had always been his true love, and when they married, he knew he would never need anyone else. Their life together had been everything he dreamed it would be. Although both worked to make ends meet, they had managed to always have the weekends free together. Love filled their little two-bedroom apartment, and strangers quickly became friends on their weekend adventures to nearby tourist attractions.
Unfortunately, all that changed when Mason appeared. He was a handsome rogue who had been assigned as Caroline’s boss at the bank branch where she worked. At first, Caroline would mention him almost daily when telling Ethan about her workday. However, as the weeks went by, she stopped saying his name. At first, Ethan assumed Mason had settled into his job, and Caroline had less interaction with him. Then one day Ethan surprised Caroline and showed up at her workplace to take her out to lunch. He was shocked to learn that Mason and Caroline had already left for lunch together. The bank teller behind the counter mentioned they often had lunches together.
Ethan set aside his jealousy, afraid of what it could mean. It wasn’t until that fateful day a week ago that all his fears became true. Caroline was sorry and wept bitterly, but she had fallen in love with Mason. Ethan’s heart was broken, but he let her go. In the end, her happiness was all that mattered to him. Although his chest felt hollow inside when she walked out the door, he knew he was doing the right thing.
It took less than two days for Mason to reject Caroline. She called Ethan crying on the phone from a hotel in town. Caroline sobbed and told him how Mason had walked into the hotel with another woman under his arm. Caroline knew Ethan had no reason to help her or even comfort her, but she had taken the chance and begged his forgiveness. Now, Ethan sat in his quiet place in the woods. He watched the sunlight play in the shadows of the trees and considered his options.
The footsteps behind Ethan were not unexpected. In fact, they were five minutes late. Each step was determined but slow. It seemed the person he had invited into his special place was not used to walking a mile up a muddy path.
“There better be a darn good reason you called me up here.” Mason’s arrogant voice immediately started a rage inside of Ethan soul, but Ethan controlled himself.
“I thought we would talk privately, in a relaxed environment,” replied Ethan.
“Talk about what? I don’t have anything to say to you. The only reason I came here was that you said Caroline was thinking about talking to Michelle. I don’t need that witch chatting up my new girlfriend.”
Ethan wanted to end him now, but he had to give Mason a chance. He had to give himself a chance. To provide Mason with what he deserved would cost him a piece of his own soul. Ethan continued, “I may have lied about that.”
“Lied?” Mason’s voice was a combination of annoyance and anger. “What was your plan? Bring me up here and kill me?”
Ethan forced a laugh from his tightening chest, and responded, “You really are a makebate.”
He could hear Mason begin to step closer, and Ethan finally turned to face him. Ethan nearly burst out laughing. The man had hiked up the path wearing khakis and a button-down blue business shirt. His once shiny Italian leather shoes were now scuffed and stained with red clay. Mason was apparently out of his element. Ethan stood, and Mason stopped less than two feet away from his face.
“I should punch you in the mouth right here,” growled Mason. “You dragged me all the way up here, and for what? Because your wife was a slut? I did you a favor. She was so easy to seduce. All I had to promise were all the things you couldn’t give her.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Mason took a step back and crossed his arms. With a smirk on his face, he continued. “All you guys are the same. You assume your relationships are perfect, but nobody’s perfect. You had money issues, there were nights you were too tired to pay attention to her, and you’d stop complimenting her as often as you use to. All I had to do was promise her wealth and give her the attention she missed. It works every time.”
“But why did you break her heart?” Asked Ethan. “She loved you, and you used her.”
“Of course, I used her,” said Mason. “That’s the point, and now I’m using Michelle. They give me a little happiness, and I return the favor.”
“You destroy lives.” Said Ethan.
“They destroyed themselves.” Said Mason dismissively.
Ethan had had enough. “Come with me over here a moment.”
Mason raised his eyebrow with suspicion, “Why would I do that?”
“If I were going to kill you I would’ve already done it.” Said Ethan. “I just want to show you something that Caroline had hidden out here the concerns you.”
Mason gave a quick nod and followed Ethan. They walked 5 yards downstream, and Ethan gave a kick to a stick that was leaning into a bush sitting next to the edge of the water. A tree limb shot into the air with a whoosh. Mason screamed as he found himself hanging upside down four feet above the ground.
“What do you think you’re doing? I thought you weren’t going to kill me. Get me down, or I’ll call the police.”
Ethan tilted his head slightly upside down and looked Mason in the eye. “Oh, I’m not going to kill you, and you’re not calling the police.” Ethan reached into Mason’s front pocket and grabbed the cell phone that was dangling out. Then he pulled the twine out of his own pocket and quickly tied Mason’s hands to his belt. Mason yelled and cursed, and attempted to fight back, but his office physique offered little defense.
“How long do you intend to keep me here?” asked Mason through his tears.
Ethan looked down at Mason and smiled. Then he said, “Long enough.” Ethan then turned and began walking back the way they had come.
“Long enough for what?” yelled Mason as he sobbed.
Ethan turned and answered, “Long enough for the bears. They’ve recently come out of hibernation. They always come here for water, and to forage for food. Don’t worry, you probably won’t last more than a few hours before they finally show up.”
“You can’t do this!” Cried out, Mason.
Ethan didn’t respond. He just turned back and whistled to himself as he strolled down the path back to his car.
Dictionary.com word of the day – makebate
In the video, I walk you through what has changed on my site, what stories are still available, how to navigate to future stories, and what sort of information you get from my website going forward. Additionally, links to my site are available in the YouTube video description.
I am thrilled to announce the redesign of my website Gary’s Writing Corner. This is in preparation for the release of my first novel this fall. For those who have followed my stories on this website, as well as my own there are a couple of changes.
I will continue writing flash fiction and short stories here. My goal is to write at least one story a week, and hopefully two. Our publicity campaign is starting up, and I am waist deep into the second novel of the “Berserker Series.”
My website, “Gary’s Writing Corner” will now contain blog entries as to what is going on in my writing career. For those who have followed my work there, I hope you will continue to follow me. For those who have not followed me before, I invite you to go check things out.
As always, thanks to everyone who has read my work over the past year. We writers would be nothing without readers.
Charles sat on the dark blue love seat. The cream-colored walls appeared as lifeless as he felt. He looked over at Austin’s dead body lying inside the dark cherry laminated casket. The funeral home was quiet. Charles knew the room would fill with friends and well-wishers in a few hours. Those people would be his future, but for now, he wanted to mourn the past. Charles needed to focus on his best friend.
Charles stood up and walked over to the casket. He grasped hold of the edges of the coffin. The mortician’s makeup did an admirable job of hiding the decay of death. In many ways, Austin appeared to be sleeping, and in other ways, the body in the box did not look like Austin at all. “Why did you leave me? We were going to grow old together and take over the world. You’re only thirty. How is that fair?”
Charles pushed himself away. He looked up at the white ceiling. “Why? What was the point of a heart attack at thirty? Do you know Ella can’t even make it because she is too broken up? What kind of God are you? Don’t you see what you let happen?”
Charles gasped and spun around. A man with a gray flowing beard and matching hair stood before Charles. His charcoal suit looked much like those worn by the employees. “Who are you?”
“You should know. You were talking to me.”
Charles stormed over to the man and stood eye to eye with him. “Don’t you mock me, not today,” said Charles in a pained voice.
“I’m not. Take my hand.”
The stranger’s hand grabbed Charles’, and energy surged up Charles’ arm. He felt light-headed, and then he felt like he was flying. Gravity itself seemed to give way, and his body seemed to be as light as a feather. The room around Charles felt as though it melted away, but he could still see it as if they were looking through an old television set.
“Where are we?” asked Charles.
“For the moment you are transmundane. You are outside of space and time. We are standing in my house.”
Peace and joy seemed to surround and envelope Charles’ body. He looked down, and his black suit had been replaced by a white one. Except, this was not a suit or even his old body. He was something more. Something he had not expected but loved being.
An idea popped into Charles mind, “Can we go back? Can I see Austin again?”
“Why would you want to?”
Austin’s familiar voice emanated from behind Charles, and he spun around to see Austin standing behind him. It then dawned on Charles that nobody seemed to be touching the floor. Everyone just appeared to be there. The glow before Charles was distinctly Austin, and yet nothing like he had been.
“I’ve missed you, my friend. Ella misses you too.” Charles said with joy in his voice. He could not explain it, but the grief that had taken hold was nowhere to be found inside his heart.
“I don’t miss Austin.” Ella’s familiar voice caught Charles off guard, and he watched her glide next to Austin.
“I don’t understand. Have you died too?”
The stranger’s voice interjected. “Focus Charles. Look around you.” Charles began to recognize others. His parents, friends, even people he had never met but seemed to know him.
Charles wanted to be afraid or even confused, but none of those feelings seemed to exist. Although he did not need to know, Charles felt the need to ask, “How is everyone here?”
The man smiled, “As I told you. We are outside the visible world. Everything is now. There is no yesterday or tomorrow. There is no decay, birth, or death. There is only now. Do you understand?”
Charles did understand. Life would not end for those with hope. God was everywhere because of who He is. The earth and time were not sources of reality, but the outlier. When he was ready, he would be born into the eternal existence. Charles closed his eyes and breathed in the revelation. He let out his breath and opened his eyes.
Austin’s lifeless still laid before him. The casket felt hard and cold in Charles’ hands once more. Charles began to weep, but not in bitterness. He cried at his separation from his friend and the real life that awaited him.
“Here you are.” a familiar voice caught Charles’ attention. The stranger stood before him with some tissues.
“You’re back,” said Charles excitedly.
The stranger looked confused and a little embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I don’t believe we have met, but I do have that kind of face. I’m Joshua, one of the assistant directors here at the funeral home. I wanted to see if there is anything you will need for this afternoon’s visitation.”
Charles stared into Joshua’s blue eyes. They were peaceful but did not have the light shining behind them that he had seen with the stranger. Charles stuck out his right hand. “Thank you.” The two men shook hands. “I believe I have everything I need now,” said Charles.
“I’m very pleased to hear that. If you’ll excuse me, I have others to attend to.” with that, Joshua left the room.
Charles went to grab another tissue and realized the room had no boxes available. He hurried into the hall to catch Joshua, but he was gone. Charles continued down the hallway to the office. Inside he found the funeral home director. “Excuse me, Alice, we are going to need tissue boxes for the visitation.”
“Of course, is there anything else you might need?” asked Alice.
Charles shook his head. “No. Joshua already came by and checked on things, but I didn’t realize we needed tissues at the time.”
“Who’s Joshua?” asked Alice.
“Your assistant director.”
“I don’t have anyone working here named Joshua.” Alice rose quickly out of her chair. “Where did he go?”
“He came down this direction.” the two left her office and Charles followed Alice on a quick survey of the visiting areas.
“I need to check our security files,” said Alice. Charles continued to follow back to her office. “You don’t need to follow me, I’ll be okay,” said Alice.
“That’s alright, said Charles. I’m curious to see where he went.”
“I’m afraid there’s no audio,” said Alice. The security camera in Austin’s room showed Charles on the couch, and then next to the body of his friend. Charles watched himself face the side of the empty room, and then exit into the hall.
Alice nodded and with a hint of joy said, “Oh, that Joshua. I should have known.”
“What did I see?” asked Charles with a quiver of fear in his voice. “Was that a ghost?”
Alice turned around and faced Charles, “No, that is no ghost, but you’ll have to figure the rest out yourself.”
Charles remembered being with his friend and the peace and love. With a smile on his lips, he said, “I think I know.”
Dictionary.com word of the day – transmundane