Just as he’d requested in the Mid Town Reporter, the flowers were all made of papier-mâché. They were orange. And green. No other colors. The pall bearers wore suits of black, against which the brightly colored paper looked like a gift from a well-meaning, but naïve child, the kind of gift that a parent couldn’t dream of turning down, but clenched still at the thought of accepting.
And in a way, they were. Just as surely as Graham Dixon lay in that shiny orange casket, these people, these mourners, they had fathered him and birthed him and given him life. Then they killed him.
They deserved to wear the stupid fake flowers.
-- From "Foolish Notions"
The Senator’s death was a textbook shooting. Muldaine had taken one slug in the temple and died instantly. His body slumped in the leather desk chair, and his head lay back, eyes still open, staring in vain at the office’s high ceiling.
The intern wasn’t so lucky. His body lay in the doorway, arms and legs spread out like a stomped spider. He had taken eight rounds, three in his chest, one in his right kneecap, two in his face, and the remaining two in his right arm. The bullets that had disfigured his face had done most of the damage. One had taken his left eye and left a bleeding, empty socket in its place. The other had shattered his jaw, exposing the muscle and bone of his cheek. The three chest shots were clean—though none of them had pierced his heart. The shot to the knee had made walking away impossible. With any luck, he had passed out before he died. But judging by the pained grimace on his face, that hadn’t been the case.
And there was the matter of the word “Atlanta” he had scrawled in his own blood on the hardwood floor.
-- From "Lucky Strikes"
In the movies, bars always have cool names and are filled with happy people chatting up supermodels. Sure there is usually one moping character amid the clamor of noise and festiveness. But Palmer’s wasn’t like that at all. The place was quiet as an unwritten symphony and the crowd—though there couldn’t be more than a dozen people inside, none of whom were remotely close to supermodel status—sipped from their glasses in silence, each too burdened with his or her own business to spare a thought for anyone else’s. The place didn’t even smell like smoke.
-- From "Fear and Frenzy"
The man who killed me wore a tattoo of Santa Claus across his chest. The old elf in the red suit sat in his sleigh, moist with the man’s sweat in spite of the night’s chill, and his reindeer jerked with every shudder my murderer made as the icy breeze kissed his bare skin.
-- From "Sin and Error Pining"
She had never been the type of person to see the world in black and white. There had always been just too damn much, well, gray wherever she looked. In spite of all her private Protestant schoolteachers had done to instill Southern fundamentalist categories of good and evil in her, she just didn’t buy it. It was a load of crap, as far as she was concerned.
Still, even with all that, even when her mind told her it was just a compartment people had invented for storing ideals they disagreed with, she somehow knew that the man standing over her was plain, through and through evil.
-- From "Farewell"
Larry Moore stood mixed in the crowd, the wet shoulders of his raincoat bumping against those of the other onlookers as they pushed toward the front of the police line. He smelled the gladiatorial bloodlust as the curious smashed together to witness the city’s demolition crew reduce 2341 Old Smith Street to a few hundred square feet of rubble. Even through the hazy drizzle he could smell it. Like a mixture of soured upholstery and human sweat.
People always turn out for destruction, he thought with a smirk.
-- From "The Framework Soul"
Tony Tanaka fancied himself a gangster in the Hollywood tradition. Born Tanaka Yasuo and so named by his parents, he had long since dropped the Japanese custom of using his family name first and his given name at all in favor of the nickname “Anthony” or usually just “Tony” in order to appear less like just another member of the Yakuza. More prone to grandiose gestures than real bouts of forethought and planning, and more apt to make stupid mistakes that tended to get his movie mentors caught or killed than to keep a low profile and work behind the scenes, he should have been a pushover. An easy kill.
The only thing was, well, he had played us all for fools. Just like the cliché.
-- From "The Subtraction Agenda"
Something heavy and hard slammed into my back. I tried to twist and roll with the impact but its force kept me careening forward, falling out of the sky, until the cement walkway of Bishop Port Park stopped us both a few feet in front of the statue of Alexander D. Bishop.
I pushed myself up from the hole I had made and pushed the hair out of my face. I gazed up at the monument of Alex Bishop, I guess to apologize for wrecking his park, and I smiled faintly and shook my head. I stood up and turned around, finally able to see what had taken me out so easily.
The top two floors of the Simmons building.
-- From "A Gathering of Angels"
The woman across the table from me wasn’t really a woman at all. She had no real skin to speak of or any kind of humanity other than the feminine shape she had forced her new body of light and energy to look like. Her arms and legs may have been covered up with regular clothes like the rest of us wore, but the way I could see through the parts of her shiny, twinkling form that weren’t covered by clothing reminded me all over again how she was no longer human.
-- From "It's Christmas, Baby, Please Come Home"
I blame it all on Franz Suppé.
Without his genius, Joanna and I could have lived a world of bickering happiness, filled with soccer games and dance recitals, a life of too many family events and not enough hours to accomplish them. Without his damn overture, we might never have discovered that we were more than normal, less than free.
-- From "Elements and Angels"
Mom,” he said, pointing up at the top of St. Anne’s Cathedral. “It moved.”
“What moved, honey?”
He hated it when she called him sweet names like “honey” or “baby.” She never seemed to call him just son or John anymore, not since the accident. And his baby brother, Edward, never got baby names. “The angel moved,” he said, his voice cracking as he fought the spots the sun was putting in his eyes. “The angel on the church.”
-- From "Angels of Our Better Nature"
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