Free Fiction Thursday – Bluesman

Good morning, everyone!

This has been a pretty cool week so far.  Fiction River #1 – Unnatural Worlds – released this week with my brand new Diz & Dee story “Here, Kitty Kitty.”  I always love getting contributor copies.  There’s just something about holding the book in my hands — I don’t think I’ll ever get past the awesomeness of that. *g* If you’d like your very own copy, it’s available at Amazon in both ebook and paperback, and also from Ella Distribution.

I also have a new release from Thunder Valley Press.  “Bluesman” takes me back to the days when I actually played guitar– in front of an audience, no less — only thank goodness, I never had an experience like the blues guitarist in this story.  Enjoy!

Bluesman ebook cover small

Bluesman

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright © 2013 by Annie Reed

Cover art Copyright © Depositphotos | InConcert

Johnny ripped the wrapping paper off what he knew had to be another lame-ass inspirational poster as his momma belted out the last off-key strains of “Happy Birthday.”

He’d put her call on speaker so he could hear her sing while he opened her present.  There for a minute, she’d actually made his cell phone rattle around the metal top of the battered TV tray he used for a table in the low-rent motel room where he lived.

She didn’t have the greatest singing voice, his momma.  She used to tell him he yanked whatever musicality she had right on out of her when he was born and took it all for himself.

What she lacked in skill, she more than made up for with enthusiasm and volume.  Every year she insisted on singing to him on his birthday whether they were together or not.  This year found him in Vegas trying to get a gig.  She was still back home in Mississippi.  As far as Johnny knew, she’d never left the delta, not in her entire life.

“Happy birthday, baby!” she said when she was done singing.  “How you like my present?”

For once, Johnny didn’t know what to say.

The posters his momma sent always had sayings like Soar With The Eagles or Believe In Yourself coupled with photographs of high mountain peaks covered in snow or beautiful, sandy beaches, the sun setting low over the water.

She was a great believer in the power of positive thinking.  Life had pretty much sucked the positive out of him, but every year he still thanked her for her gift and said something nice about it because she was his momma and she loved him, and it was only polite.

This year he couldn’t quite bring himself to say “Cool picture, momma,” or “You’re so good to me, thinking about me like that,” like he did usually did, even though he always threw the poster away as soon as he got off the phone.

“You got me dead rock stars?” he said instead.

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Friday – Cleo and the Scout

Happy Friday, everyone!  Ready for a little free fiction?

This week’s story is “Cleo and the Scout,” a story about a curse, a little old lady who isn’t quite what she seems, and a very determined Cub Scout.  Happy reading!

Cleo and the Scout

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 by Annie Reed

Cover art copyright Dvarg Vasiliy at Dreamstime.com and

copyright Anna Velichkovsky at Dreamstime.com

Cover layout by Thunder Valley Press

 

Cleo’s neighbors thought she was a witch.  She thought that was rather ironic.

She did look a bit like the witches of old, what with her hunched shoulders, humped back, and long, stringy gray hair, not to mention the black shawl she always wore wrapped around her shoulders.  She never wore designer jeans or fashionable boots like some of the other neighborhood women old enough to be grandmothers, and therefore old enough to know better.  Cleo wore long, voluminous skirts and used a cane, more for affect than need.  She’d learned long ago that people saw what they expected to see, and their expectations were always based on first impressions.  If the neighbors thought she was a witch, so be it.  She could live with a few evil eyes being cast her way whenever she made her way down the street to the corner grocer’s or the bank where that nice young man with the nice young smile spent far more time than necessary explaining to Cleo how to use her ATM card properly so she wouldn’t have to always come to the teller window to withdraw cash from her account.

It wasn’t that Cleo was too old to understand how to use such a thing as an ATM card.  She understood perfectly well.  She just preferred not to.  When a person got to be as old as she was, that person earned the right to be cranky.

She especially earned the right to be cranky with the Cub Scout who insisted on helping Cleo cross the street whether she needed help or not, which she most certainly did not.

“Can I carry your bags for you?” he asked as she made her slow way back home from the grocer’s.  He held out his pudgy hand for her bag of bread and cheese and olives and wine.

He was little more than a babe, though he spoke with the solemnity of a man.  The buttons on his uniform strained against his rotund little body, and his chubby legs looked like fat little sausages sticking out of his shorts.  His cheeks were round and altogether too rosy for a boy.  His hair, what little Cleo could see of it beneath his Cub Scout cap, was coppery red and poorly cut.

Cleo snatched her bag in closer to her body.  “I can do this myself, young man,” she said.

His arm dropped back to his side.  “I’m just trying to be nice.  Why do you have to be so mean about it?”

“No one’s nice just to be nice.”  They never had been, and they never would be, not in Cleo’s long experience.  Everyone, from babe in arms to the most powerful men in the land, had always wanted something from her, and she’d grown tired of it.  She thumped her cane against the concrete sidewalk.  “So tell me, my persistent young man, what do you really want from me?”

He’d looked crestfallen before.  Now he positively deflated.  “I get a citizen pin for helping old people,” he said.  “You’re the only old person I know.”

She blinked at him.  “I have seen grandmothers who live in this neighborhood.”  She could identify four or five that lived in her block of row houses alone, although not by name.  Cleo had no desire to know anyone in this neighborhood by name.

“But they’re not old,” the boy said.  “They don’t need me.”

(read the rest of the story here)