Free Fiction Thursday – For a Few Lattes More

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Middle of October already.  Boy, how did it get to be so late in the year?  I don’t know about you, but it gets harder and harder for me to get up in the morning when it’s still dark outside.  I’d rather stay in bed, snuggly comfy under the covers.  Nope, I’m not a morning person at all, and I’m not alone judging by the long line at the Starbucks drive-thru.  The baristas are certainly busy this time of year.

This week’s free fiction Thursday story features a Starbucks barista who encounters a whole different kind of customer — a guy who looks like he rode straight out of one of the old Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns.  I hope you enjoy “For A Few Lattes More.”

 

For a Few Lattes More

Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2011 Annie Reed

The cowboy parked his horse in the handicap spot in front of Starbucks.

Terri almost dropped the Halloween coffee mug she’d just tagged with a second red clearance sticker.   Ten minutes to closing.  Of course.  The strangest people always came in right before closing.

“You see that?” she asked Leon, who was sweeping the floor on the other side of the clearance display.

Leon craned his neck around a shelf full of travel mugs decorated with glow in the dark ghosts and goblins to look out the plate glass storefront.  “Huh,” he said.  “That’s a new one.”

Terri watched as the cowboy in the battered hat and leather duster got off his horse and wrapped the reins around the freebie community newspaper stand in front of the handicap spot.  The cowboy was tall and thin and wore his hat low over his face.  Thanks to the overhead lights in the strip mall parking lot, he was little more than a silhouette and totally out of place.  Who in his right mind rode a horse in the middle of town?

“He’s really going to leave his horse right there,” Terri said.

“I’m not cleaning up after it,” Leon said.  “No way.  Cleaning the bathrooms is bad enough.”

He had a point.  Picking up horse poo wasn’t in either of their job descriptions.

Terri and Leon saw a lot in the way of weird walk through the doors of this particular Starbucks.  Three blocks from the casinos, liquor stores, tattoo parlors and pawn shops of downtown Reno and a block away from the biggest dorm on the University of Nevada campus, it wasn’t all that unusual to see frat pledges in penguin suits chilling in line next to black leather wearing bikers.  Terri got propositioned by the frat boys on a weekly basis.  The bikers went straight to offering Terri a free peek at tattoos on body parts she didn’t want to think about, much less see.  And that was on a slow night.  Throw in a holiday, like Halloween or New Year’s Eve or the anniversary of Elvis’s death, and anything at all might walk through the door.

Like a cowboy straight out of one of the spaghetti westerns her dad used to watch when Terri was a kid.

“Just wait,” Leon said.  “He’ll want a latte.”

(read the rest of the story here)

Free Fiction Thursday – Hunters

Happy Thursday, everyone!  And happy first week of October.

Somehow it doesn’t quite feel like October yet.  The weather’s been too warm, the trees haven’t really started losing their leaves yet, and hubby’s still mowing the lawn.  The days are getting shorter, though; this morning it was still dark when I got up.  Pretty soon we’ll be putting up Halloween decorations — at least those that don’t stay out all year — and watching scary movies now that I’ve finally been able to satisfy my Avengers craving. *g*

So to get us all in the mood for the scary season, how about a little supernatural horror story?  I hope you enjoy “Hunters.”

Hunters

Annie Reed

 Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2010 by Annie Reed

Cover art Konradbak | Dreamstime.com

The first time Shelly knew she dreamed in technicolor was when she saw her own blood splatter across a rough brick wall.  The blood was deep maroon, each drop as big as her thumb, glistening and wet and oh so much of it.

Too much to lose and survive, even for her.

Maroon blood.  Grey brick. The stone cold certainty that she was about to die.  Over the years the nightmare had become familiar, if not welcome.  At least she no longer woke up screaming.

When Collin touched her shoulder to wake her, Shelly sat bolt upright with her hands to her chest, heart pounding.  Tonight the dream had been so real.  More than any other night?  She didn’t know, but she thought so.  She half-expected her fingers to smear her tee-shirt with that dark maroon red.

“You had the dream again,” Collin said.  It wasn’t a question.  He had been with her too long.  He knew her too well.

Collin brushed Shelly’s hair away from her forehead, leaned in and pressed his lips lightly against her pale skin.  Collin was good to her, watched out for her, but he couldn’t understand.  He didn’t dream.

“We’ve got a gig tonight,” Collin said.  “You gonna be okay with that?”

Thigh-high boots, leather skirt and a baby-doll, all in black.  Her stage costume.  So different from the faded, oversized, Reality Bites tee-shirt she wore when she slept.  Shelly tried to remember if she had been wearing the costume in her dream, but the details were elusive.  Rough grey walls, dank, musty dirt under her feet, the heavy pounding tread of something chasing her — that’s all she remembered.

That, and the taste of dying.  The dying part had been very clear.

(read the rest of the story here)