Sexy Research Tapes

I waited for him to sit down next to the cage before I hit enter. His face was droopy. His breathing steadied. He uncoiled his shirttail and smoothed it out over his belly. He picked up the recorder next to his hand and pushed a button. He sucked in his gut when he caught me looking. He called me Gonzo like he did when I did something stupid. I hit enter again.

The lights inside the cage in front of his face came on. I counted the freckles under his eyes and over his nose. When the catnip plant inside caught fire, he curved his lips. I hit enter again. He sighed. I said I was sorry. He said he knew. We can figure it out, I said. He said we would.

After he left the room, I picked up the recorder, still warm from his hand. I took it with me when I looked over the computer in the corner. I listened to our voices. His voice was always higher after I spoke than it was when he spoke alone. He used bigger words and said longer sentences than I did. Spectrum. Intensity. Fluorescent. I burned two bonsais, three figs, and a Pothos while listening to him recite the configurations of the switches that controlled the wattage.

When the doorknob turned, I ran away from the computer. He looked at the recorder I held at my side. He called me Gonzo and looked away quickly. He sighed and made faces at the smell of burnt chlorophyll as I walked the recorder back over to his table. My sweaty palm dried quickly. He told me he didn’t know what to say. I said he didn’t have to say anything.

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Crushes, A Fiction Collection, Available In Paperback and Amazon Kindle

My fiction collection, Crushes, is now available in paperback!

Description: A young anthropologist observes the mysteries of the flightless birds in her father’s back yard with the help of a handsome and mysterious traveling painter. A mall cowboy competes for the favor of his work crush. College buddies discover a secret spaceship beneath a hidden lake off of I-65. These are just some of the moments in Crushes, a collection of stories that explore characters from the south scattered across America through magical realism, dark humor, and place. Some adult language and themes of sexuality.

9 stories. Buy it, please. That is all!

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I’m Walking Around With The Final Proof Copy of Crushes for A Week

Yes, finally, I’ll soon be walking around with the final proof copy of the paperback of my fiction collection, Crushes. I’ll do this for about a week, and then if nothing sticks out to me as OMG, I’ll hit the publish button and it’ll be available to purchase in a physical paperback. I’ll probably continue to carry it around because I’ll think it’s super cool for a while. Then I’ll get over it and write another one.

This means it’s looking like it will be available for purchase super soon. It will be priced at $7.99.

It’s hard to stop rewriting them, but at a certain point I guess you just sort of have to and move on and write more stuff.

Eric Shay Howard Author of Crushes Selfie
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Thirteen Stories Into My First Fiction Collection

Last week dragged by, as evident by my complaints on Twitter about it.

It was a week of recovering from my Chicago trip, job hunting, and interviews. I know. I’m looking for a new job, again. My income levels have fluctuated so much this year. Maybe next year will be different. I just genuinely don’t know what I want to do anymore. Well, I know I want to write, but I don’t know what I want to do until I make enough money with my writing to not have to do something else. When I graduated in May, I focused on finding an administrative assistant type job, but didn’t have any luck so I went back to customer service. This could take years. So many years of income-level fluctuations. I’m not thrilled about it.

I also merged my first fiction collection with my new stories that I’ve been working on for my second collection. I discovered that, through the magic of math, when I combined my new stories with my first collection, it’s actually long enough now.

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What this means is that instead of being like 6 or 7 stories into my second fiction, I’m actually 13 stories into my first fiction collection. I lost some of the stories because they just didn’t go with the others, but it’s fine. It doesn’t matter. It’s only my first fiction collection. Do I look worried? DO I?

I’m excited to have a working collection that’s long enough for some contests without having to manipulate fonts. There’s a particular contest I’ve always wanted to submit a collection to, but I’ve never had the word count long enough. It’s like a little mini dream-come-true. A few of the newer stories probably still need another rewrite, but those’ll come with time.

This week, I’m still working on a longer short story that seems like it’s going to turn into something a little bigger. I’m also working on something interesting for Friday’s short fiction post. You’ll see my progress on that at the end of the week.

In the meantime, leave me comments about any interesting short stories you’ve read, blog’s you’ve found, or dreams-come-trues you’ve had recently.

Here’s last Friday’s story, “Dialing For A Paycheck”, which took a few times to get right. That might happen again sooner or later. I’m not afraid anymore.

And, I didn’t get to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi this weekend, so hush up about that.

Also, here’s one of my recent rejection letters. This one is from Outlook Springs.

You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and like my page on Facebook.

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Dialing For A Paycheck – Fiction

Detective Mark sat at his short metal desk across the row from Detectives Logsdon and Ballou. Mark read reports. He drank coffee while he held the phone against his ear with his shoulder and dialed and stared at a report.

“I’m trying to reach a Mr. Geer. Yes, I’m Detective Andy Mark I was wondering when the last time you saw or spoke with a Elizabeth Singleton?” He said. A paper football landed on Mark’s desk. Ballou and Logsdon picked up the phones on their desks and started dialing. Mark hung up the phone and dialed a second number. “Hello. I’m Detective Andy Mark and I’m trying to reach a Mr. Rose,” Mark said. He hung up the phone and flicked the folded paper to Logsdon’s desk. Logsdon flicked it to Ballou. Ballou blocked it with his free hand, stood up, and talked into the phone.

“Yes, yes, hi, yes, Mr. Fox?” Ballou said. Mark and Logsdon turned to him and listened. Mark stood up and flagged towards a desk past the window ahead. A woman with squared -thin blue framed glasses picked up her phone and typed on her keyboard, her red nails shining on and off in the sunlight through the window like stage lights. “I’m uh, well my name’s Travis. Travis Ballou. Yes, uhuh. Ball-ew. Yes. And, well, I work at a uh,” Ballou looked over to the woman at the computer. She rolled her hands at him and nodded. “Uh, well, I work Downtown. Here in Louisville, yes. It’s the building on 6th and Broadway. Yeah, the Louisville Metro Police Department. That’s right. And we were wondering if you knew anything that could help us locate Elizabeth Singleton. Goddamn it,” Ballou said. He slammed the phone back down. Mark and Logsdon rolled back to the center of their desks. Logsdon picked up the phone and dialed. Mark marked a large X across the page in front of him. He turned the paper over and under, creased the corner under the staple, and dropped it back down in front of him. Logsdon hung up his phone.

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“This is gonna take all day,” Logsdon said. He reached into his right pocket and pulled out a quarter. “Mark?”

“Nope, it was me and you last time,” Mark said. He dialed a number.

“Call it, Ballou,” Logsdon said. He flipped the coin.

“Heads,” Ballou said, rubbing his left ear. Mark slapped the back of his hand.

“Tails,” Mark said.

“Goddamn it, Logsdon,” Ballou said. He stood up and adjusted the tail of his button up hanging over his pants.

Chief Milburn stepped between their desks, suit crisp and clean and fitted. She spoke with the woman by the window. The woman at the desk passed a pair of headphones to her. She bent, planted her elbows, and listened over the desk. Ballou walked past the women.

“You walking?” the woman behind the desk said. The department laughed. Ballou stretched his upper lip to his nose at her and walked down between the desks. The faint gray stains scattered all over his navy pants were visible in the beam of light across the path. He put his left hand in his pocket at the Safe Workplace sign. He scratched his curly head on his way out the door.

Chief Milburn handed the headphones back to the woman behind the desk and walked back the way she came.

“Voice and patterns doesn’t match. It wasn’t him,” she said. She patted Mark’s desk. Her silver chainlink bracelet hit against the metal. She disappeared around the hall. Logsdon laughed hard. A busy signal sounded from his receiver. He continued to laugh.

“Are you gonna tell him?” Logsdon said.

“I’m not telling him anything,” Mark said. He picked up the phone and dialed. Logsdon stopped laughing after a few more breaths and returned to dialing. Mark didn’t get anyone on the phone before Ballou got back with a white bag that smelled of onion rings. Mark locked his computer as Ballou tossed him a ball of foil. Mark sighed as he opened the burger on the table. He grabbed his Word’s Greatest Singer mug and filled it with coffee from the pot in the back of the hallway behind his desk. He swirled his coffee around in his mug and sipped it as he read each letter of the Respect sign above the sink. He grabbed a paper towel from the holder on the wall. Logsdon and Ball had already eaten half their burgers when he got back to his desk. He sighed when he sat down.

“Something wrong?” Logsdon said. He pushed his glasses back up on his nose.

“Tired of burgers,” Mark said. He wiped the pool of grease in the wrinkles of the foil away with the paper towel.

“Yeah, well, loser picks,” Ballou said. He threw an onion ring at Logsdon. Logsdon moved his lips to one side of his face and his nose to the other. He wiped the grease off with his cuff.

A brown-haired man in tan corduroy pants and a white button up came over and peaked under Ballou’s desk. He held his paper-wrapped sandwich up in one hand and his badge in the other as he squatted. His badge said Mueller.

“Still got both shoes, Ballou?” Mueller said. Ballou kept a straight face. Mueller laughed and moaned and went on back to the coffee in the corner of the hall. Ballou put down his burger. Mark picked up his and took a bite. He looked around at the other desks sitting two by two throughout the department and admired their decorations. Mueller had a 4×6 of him and his partner, Walker, in the corner facing out for the entire department to see.

“How much more you got, Old Man?” Logsdon said. He chewed as lettuce hang over his chin. Mayonnaise splattered up his glasses. He wiped his frame with his cuff. The mayonnaise smeared. He chewed on.

“Only about a few pages in,” Mark said.

“Dialing for a paycheck. We’re gonna be here all night,” Logsdon said. Mark rolled up the rest of his burger and tossed it into the trash outside his desk. He took his mug back to the coffee pot in the back of the hall. Chief Milburn poured herself a cup of coffee into her World’s Greatest Dancer cup.

“Mark. Have to make a fresh pot,” Chief Milburn said.

“It’s alright, I’ve got it,” Mark said. She turned to walk further down the hall. Mark pulled a filter and a pouch of grounds from the drawer under the sink. He filled the machine and pushed the brew button. He watched her hips swing down the hall. When the coffee started to run, he stepped after her.

“What is it?” She said. She continued on down the hall.

“Ma’am? I was wondering about that request I put in a while back?”

“Request?”

“About getting a new partner.”

“I denied it.”

Mark stopped. Chief Milburn took a few more big strides and then stopped and turned around.

“Can I ask why?” Mark kept his head up and his eyes above her neck.

“You’re with Logsdon and Ballou. That’s the way it has to be for now,” she said.

“But they’re—”

“Young? Inexperienced? Fresh from the academy?”

“But I’m—”

“Experienced? Good at your job? Been here longer than almost everyone else around that corner?”

“But that’s—”

“That’s the way it is,” she said. Her bracelet jiggled as she stirred her coffee. She took a sip and turned around. Mark watched her walk down the hall in her skinny black shoes, tapered black pants, and black sports jacket. He sipped his coffee as he walked back to his desk.

“Help, someone, my shoes, my shoes,” Mueller said. He ran around between the desks. The department laughed.

“God damn it,” Ballou said. He sat in his chair and stared at his burger. Logsdon took off his glasses and wiped the mayonnaise with his shirt tail. Mark dialed numbers.

*

Eric Shay Howard is a creative writer and editor. He lives in Louisville, KY. He is the editor of Likely Red Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram, and like his page on Facebook.

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