Saturday, June 24, 2017

Excerpt: "Thoughts at a Picnic"

(Excerpt from the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back)

By Stephen B. Bagley

Bittersweet is that moment when you slap down on an annoying fly on the picnic table and gleefully crush it on your palm and then you realize its guts are on your hand and it probably just finished chowing down on a poop platter thoughtfully provided by the 127 feral cats who haunt the park. So you wipe your hand on your napkin, wishing you had hand sanitizer even though you watched an exposé on Channel 4 showing how sanitizer could easily ignite and you shouldn’t use it near a fireplace or an open flame so it might not be safe since you’re sitting four feet away from the barbeque where they are sacrificing wieners to the flames.

You look back at the table and realize there’s that green-reddish smear from when you crushed Mr. Fly and you don’t want to see that so you move your plate to cover the remains, but the thought of it being there bothers you, and for a moment you think about that Poe story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” where the murderer has hidden his victim under the floorboards of his house, but then he thinks he hears “the beating of his hideous heart!”

Hardly a nice thing to remember on a nice day like this with the sun shining and your friends laughing beside you, and you blame Mr. Simmons who told that story to your seventh grade English class and gave you nightmares because he did it so convincingly and kept looking at the students with such a mad look that it’s no surprise that he was arrested for public nudity at a zoo and went to prison for five years and the poor flamingoes never recovered and went around looking shell-shocked and losing pink feathers everywhere.

You look back at your plate, which now you can’t do without thinking of the corpse it’s concealing, and pick up your fork to have some of that potato salad that Kathy brought and your mind flashes back to that report Channel 4 did about food-born pathogens and how they lurk in every picnic food which should never sit out for more than a few minutes, otherwise they become something so lethal that they could wipe out entire civilizations, which might be what happened to the people who built Stonehenge. You can imagine them gathering for a rock-raising picnic, and a few hours later, they’re all gasping their last breath like that fly you crushed. But the fly’s death was so fast it probably didn’t have time for a last breath; one moment it’s on the table looking at the feast spread before it, thinking happy thoughts, and then it’s not thinking anything. This makes you feel better because, after all, you gave it a quick, happy death, which is not such a terrible thing, and many people might want such a parting from this life, although how they’d find a giant picnic table is anyone’s guess.

Still, you put the fork back down and pick up your ham sandwich—WITH THE FLY CRUSHING HAND! A hand that’s probably contaminated with the bacteria and viruses that the fly picked up when it dined on the poop of a cat which had escaped from a secret lab conducting research into bio-weapons and this...this innocent picnic is how the zombie apocalypse starts!

With mounting panic, you realize you’re sure thinking about poop at lot at this picnic and now you’re afraid you will always associate picnic with poop and you frantically start thinking of better things that happen at picnics: laughing, games of Frisbee® and softball, splashing in pools, playing games of tag with the grand-children, and once at a college picnic years ago a curvy blonde fellow journalist let you find her in the woods for a bit of friendly necking—wait, that’s not an appropriate thought for now.

You carefully take a bite of the sandwich avoiding the side that touched your palm, and it’s good. Ham, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, mustard, thick wheat bread.... Of course, if you were serious about your low carb diet, you wouldn’t be eating the bread at all. According to the carb commandos, grains are poison, POISON, and maybe that’s what actually wiped out the Stonehenge builders. Between raising multi-ton rocks, they were happily eating bread, French fries, ice cream, white rice, tacos, peach cobbler, potato salad.... Happy, heavy people who one day were felled by heart attacks, diabetes, and dreaded lard-bottom disease. All in all, there are worse ways to go if one has to go.

Which makes you think of an article you read recently in a science magazine about those people who think they don’t have to go and plan to upload their brains into a supercomputer so they can live forever, ignoring the fact that the original person would go ahead and age and die, leaving behind some monstrous thing that only faintly resembled a human, like a Congressman.

By now, everyone else is finished or finishing their plate of food and either getting seconds or thirds or deciding they’d better stop, and you have barely touched your food, which might make them think you’re on your second or third place when you’ve barely eaten enough to keep a fly alive...that fly again. Sigh. Now you’re regretting you killed the thing. Maybe you should have shooed it away, thus not incurring a Karmic debt. But you don’t believe in reincarnation anyway since you’re Baptist, and if it were true, then you’d only be releasing the soul trapped in the fly to move up into a better body, like maybe a boil weevil or a rodent. Unless it had been a bad fly, and then it would drop down in worth and become a telemarketer.

They’re cutting the watermelon now. You like watermelon and can easily make yourself sick eating too much given half a chance, but watermelon is basically sugar water held together by a fibrous matrix and loaded with carbs. You mentally add watermelon to the diet of the Stonehenge builders while taking a plate—a small plate—of the melon, vowing to yourself that you will walk several miles and burn off that sugar before it has time to damage your body even though you insisted the picnic was close to a parking lot because you didn’t want to walk.

The watermelon has seeds—the best ones do, in your opinion—and one of the black seeds moves! It’s another FLY! But you wave it off and examine the melon flesh closely, like you could see germs, and take your life into your teeth and hungrily devour the fruit.

It’s the end of the picnic, and it would hardly look right for you keep eating, so you regretfully drop your plate and cup in the trash, and stop at Delicias Mexican Restaurant on the way home for chips, dip, and a platter of enchiladas.

(Excerpt from the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back. Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Please do not copy without explicit permission from the author and publisher. Thank you for reading.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

If Only

Over the years, I've written a lot of poetry, so much so that sometimes I forget a poem and rediscover it after several years in my journal. I found this one the other day. I changed a few words, but overall, I left it as it was. Funny thing is that I don't even remember who--if anyone--I was writing about.

If Only
By Stephen B. Bagley

If only I could stop loving you
my life would be better now
in more ways than I can imagine.

If only I could forget
the taste of your lips,
your face as you slept,
those blue, happy eyes,
the silly way you smiled,
I wouldn't feel so empty now.

If only I could stop hurting
when I recall those days
of loving and laughing
and yes even fighting,
crying, and arguing--
I wouldn't run from love now.

If only I knew you, too,
had regrets when you
think of me--if ever
you do--and missed
me and our flawed love,
I could finally begin to heal.

If only you read these words
I'd know you'd finally know
I still carry the memory of us
and it's breaking my back
because you lack the courage
to share this heavy burden.

In more ways than I can imagine
my life would better now
if only I could stop loving you.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Enjoy "Blackbirds Third Flight"

Blackbirds Third Flight is available at 
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion, Lulu, 
& other online retailers!

Enjoy these dark fantasies: 
➧ A dead girl asks one final question. 
➧ A young man rides a forbidden dragon. 
➧ With claw and fang, Malone will fight. 
➧ Justina Grave battles a dangerous witch. 
➧ A father faces his family's terrible secret. 
➧ The end of the world begins in a backyard. 
➧ A predator prowls on Halloween night. 
➧ Thunder Mountain will kill the careless. 
➧ Learn the final truth of the Tooth Fairy. 
➧ A wolf reveals the face of the true beast. 
     And much more in this anthology of thrilling tales and poetry from Kathy Akins, Stephen B. Bagley, Wendy Blanton, Michael Canton, D.E. Chandler, Erin Cochran, Gail Henderson, Mariana Llanos, Jean Schara, and Heath Stallcup.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Excerpt from "Murder by the Mile"

Excerpt from Murder by the Mile

The Many Mile Marathon Chairperson Dolores Hyatt had been working in the huge race tent when runners began to share the news about what was happening on Watts Ridge. She had been horrified as the details emerged, but she kept the volunteers focused on processing the racers and making sure they all received their t-shirts and giveaways.

“Dee,” Abby Lange hissed at her. “It’s him!”

Dolores looked up from her clipboard. Michael stood in the entrance scanning the tables. Strangely enough, he was dressed in his jogging suit even though she knew her soon-to-be-ex-husband hadn’t run in the race. Or had someone else checked him in?

She saw when his gaze locked onto her. She tried to control her rapid breathing as he strode over to her.

“We need to talk,” he said flatly. “Now.” The anger in his voice made her flinch.

For a moment, her body nearly betrayed her. She had always done what her husband said, had always taken his anger as her due, and had hid the bruises to protect him. But she would never do that again.

“You need to talk to my attorney,” she said, proud that her voice didn’t 
quiver. “Call Harold Hast –” 

“I know who it is,” Michael cut in. “I read the papers you had served to me today.”

“I guess the server couldn’t find you yesterday,” Dolores said. “Call Harold.”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Michael yelled. “Now, come with me!”

People looked at them. Abby rose and came to stand behind Dolores. 

Dolores looked down, feeling the old familiar shame flood her. Only Abby’s hand on her shoulder kept her in her chair.

“Michael, you should go,” Abby said. 

“Stay out of this,” Michael snarled. “If you know what’s good for you.”

“She does,” Abby’s husband Mack said from behind the real estate agent. Mack, a construction foreman, stared down at Michael. “And if you think you’re going to beat my wife like you beat yours, you got another think coming.” Mack brought his face down to an inch from Michael’s. “Why don’t you just go before I make you go?”

For a moment, Dolores thought Michael was going to throw himself at the much larger man, but he mastered himself.

“This isn’t over,” Michael told Dolores.

“Call Harold Hastings,” she said, not trusting herself to look up. “I won’t talk to you.”

“You will.” Michael turned and left the tent.

“He’s so mad,” Dolores said, sick with fear.

“It’s okay,” Abby said. “It’s okay now. He can’t hurt you now.”

“He’d better not try,” Mack said. “I’ll snap him like a twig.”

“Mack, that’s enough,” Abby said. “Dee, are you all right?”

Dolores nodded. “He wasn’t supposed to be here.”

“Mack, take her clipboard,” Abby commanded. “Dee and I are going to take a break.”

“But I don’t know what to do,” Mack said.

Abby glanced at him. “You’ll learn.” She handed the clipboard to Mack. “Dee and I will be right back.”

Abby led Dee over to the refreshment table where she got them both a cup of black coffee. “We can sit in my car,” Abby said. “It’s right over here.”

In the car, Dolores cried for a good ten minutes while Abby held her hand.

Finally, Dolores pulled herself back together. “I’m sorry, Abs.”

“Sweetie, I’m always here for you,” Abby said. "You were very brave in there."

Dolores shook her head. 

“You know what I think?" Abby said. "I think it’s so sad that a nice man like Cyrus Fowler is dead while Michael Hyatt isn’t.”

“Don’t say that,” Dolores said. But she secretly agreed, and for a moment, wondered how to do it.

(Excerpt from the forthcoming mystery novel Murder by the Mile. Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

This is the day

Psalms 118:21-24
(New King James Version)

Verse 21 
I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.
Verse 22 
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
Verse 23 
This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
Verse 24 
This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Lost & Found

Lost & Found
By Stephen B. Bagley

I was lost in my town
living in back alleys
of lost youth and wasted time
until you found me

I wandered aimlessly
from one love to another
all just sad and empty
until you found me

Blind to important things
my light taken by ashes
with sorrow as my friend
until you found me

until you found me
I didn't know
how a real kiss (sweet and sharp)
tasted like cherries

until you found me
I didn't know
how true passion (sweat and shouts)
burned in delicious fire

until you found me
I didn't know
how I had not been
truly alive

Until you found me.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. From the forthcoming book Eternal. Thank you for reading.)

Friday, June 09, 2017


By Stephen B. Bagley

If I could, I would seduce you
into poetry. I would run
feathery words over the bare
shoulders of your muse, touch gently
the moist secret places of your
metaphors, delicately brush
your lips with similes and plunge
rhythm and rhyme into your soul.

I would take you past the threshold
where passion and structure meet, where
one image means the difference
between indifference and glory.
If I could, I would do these things
and do them long and do them well
until when you heard poetry,
you would gasp, don’t stop oh don’t stop.

Excerpt from Undying by Stephen B. Bagley & Gail Henderson. 
Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Excerpt 8 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 8 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley

Regina Kimmons knew Jacob Sloane wanted her. She could tell. The way he looked at her. The way his eyes not only undressed her but threw her on the red leather couch in his neo-Spartan office and made her scream glories until she was hoarse. How his hand would rest on her shoulder, just a brotherly pat, a touch of friendship, but his long, slender fingers would linger as if they longed to press themselves deep into her flesh until they left dark violet marks of his passion.

She sat at her desk and watched him over her filing. Once she sliced her finger on a piece of paper and pressed the welling cut to her mouth. She looked up and caught his eyes focusing on her lips before he turned away. She knew he wanted her. Now if only his inconvenient wife would die.

Often she found herself thinking of ways for Linda Kimmons to die. A car accident. A stroke. A strange strain of flu. A doctor's mistake. People died all the time; why couldn't she? She used to feel guilty about wanting Linda to die, but she had done it so often that it barely bothered her anymore. In fact, she wondered sometimes what she would do if Linda was in front of her at the top of the stairs. But then she would laugh at herself. She wasn't a killer. No man was worth that.

That's what she told herself.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Excerpt 7 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 7 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley 

Alex met Abby by one of the grossest ways possible: he threw up on her shoes. He had recently started on Gleeco, one of the latest, greatest cancer buster drugs. Since his tumor was wrapped around his spine, they couldn't operate without leaving him a cripple at worse or needing Depends at best. Perhaps he would be forced into surgery later, but for now, Dr. Jeremath wanted to try Gleeco.

Most people who were dosed with Gleeco experienced "intermediate episodes of nausea," a medical way of saying that the patient would spew vast amounts of stomach contents in truly Olympic fashion. Gleeco patients easily qualified in distance for the U.S. Puke Team. Alex had already endured a three-day bout following his last dose. This time he was smarter. He scheduled his chemo on a Thursday afternoon so that he would only miss a day and a half of work. Then he stopped eating on Wednesday. He figured nothing in, nothing out. Lying on his bathroom floor, he discovered that dry heaves were worse as he tried to throw up his stomach. He couldn't even keep down the anti-nausea pills. But the worse passed by Sunday night, and he crawled gratefully into his bed and slept deeply.

The next morning, Alex wore with a strange feeling of well-being. It took him a few minutes to realize that he was simply feeling the absence of being sick. He stretched and realized he was hungry and could even think about food without his head swimming. Still cautious, he made do with a bowl of cream of wheat, dry toast, and black coffee. Not exactly the approved cancer diet, but it was food he could face without his stomach wailing.

He showered and went to work. He thought about staying home, but paranoia honed fine by years of surviving the corporate environment urged him on. If you were gone too much -- even for legitimate reasons -- people started to get used to your absences. Projects got reassigned, files got moved. More than one woman had returned from maternity leave to find herself a glorified secretary. Men ended up as assistants or found themselves on under-funded projects that wouldn't survive the next budget. Alex already had a cubicle at the end of a hall. His next move would be outside the building.

His inbox was full, both on his desk and in his email. While picking up a folder, he caught a wisp of perfume. Probably from Rachel. She bathed herself and her cubicle liberally in her favorite scent of the month to the dismay of those close to her. Glenda said Rachel could be tracked through a sewer plant. Alex started to grin, and then it happened. A hot flood rose within him. He whirled in his chair, trying to make it to the restroom down the hall.

He made two steps into the hall, and then the wave hit him so hard that he fell to his knees. He lost his breakfast. More than lost, he expelled his breakfast, shot his breakfast, hurled his breakfast, exploded his breakfast into the far wall. He caught a brief glance of a pair of legs before he was too occupied to see anything but a blur.

After a few eon-long minutes, the spell passed. He slumped against his cubicle doorway, exhausted and horrified by what he had done. Was this going to be his life now? Alex thought he'd rather be dead.

Someone knelt beside him. "Here. Put this on your throat." A wet paper towel was pressed against his skin.

A woman with blue eyes looked steadily at him.

"You're in a bad way, guy," she said after a moment. "Well, let's just see what we can about that."

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Excerpt 6 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 6 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley

In his long life, Marcus Ryan had slept with a lot of people. Perhaps it was more correct to say he had sex with them because he rarely stayed the night so there was no sleeping. It was correct to say people, however, because he was equally intrigued by women and men. Their gender didn't matter as much as the chase did.

Naturally he had caught a few STDs, but fortunately nothing lethal and nothing that hadn't been cured with a healthy dose of antibiotics. He liked to say -- but only to those privy to his lifestyle -- that the Lord took care of drunks and fools and he didn't drink. Except he did drink. Not as much as he used to, of course. A man his age had to take everything in moderation. Even his excesses.

At 65, he held the dubious distinction of being the oldest employee at Gallant and Sons. He didn't look it. He didn't look older than 45. Well, 50. But careful application of moisturizer over the years and genetics had given him good skin that he had kept out of the sun. He had a full head of rich, black hair. He drove over to Glensdale twice a month to keep his hair color just so.

As for exercise, he had once worshiped at the gym and still went three times a week, but the workouts were slower and more difficult than when he was younger. He still caught the attention of the other people at the gym, and they would comment how good he looked, but he had a suspicion they were silently adding "for his age." Once a rude young man had even told him that he hoped to look as good as Marcus when he reached his age. Marcus only smiled and thanked the young man. On his way out, Marcus keyed the young man's black Ford truck. Twice.

He could have retired five years ago. Go cruising the islands with arm candy. Maybe finally make that trip to Paris he had often talked about. He had always been smart with money. He could live comfortably on his investments for the rest of his life. But he stayed at Gallant and Sons because he knew a secret. One that bound him to this company. At times he thought it was his greatest mistake. At other times, he thought it was the only thing he had in his life that was worth living for. Even if no one else could ever know.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading.)

Monday, June 05, 2017

Excerpt 5 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 5 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley

Richard Gallant had owned the world until now. Always been that way. In school, he made all the teams, made the good grades, got the hot girls, drove the best cars, attended the right parties, he was cool. College was the same. Oh, the parties were wilder, the classes harder, the girls more numerous, the cars more expensive, but the Gallant's little heir deserved the best and he got it. He couldn't remember his life as being any other way.

Now, Gallant and Sons -- the investment firm that had been in his family since the 1800's and that had paid for all that college, all those cars, all those girls -- was going down with him at the helm.

His grandfather and his father had made mistakes. They bought high and sold low too many times. They waited too long to modernize and then made changes frantically, but they didn't wait long enough to see if changes would help before they changed priorities again.

Oh, success hadn't passed by Gallant and Sons completely; otherwise, it wouldn't have survived, but too much red ink stained its pages over the years. And even though the mistakes of his predecessors caused the decline, he would be the one who would be blamed. The Gallant would go down on his watch.

The choices on his desk: Close Gallant and Sons or sell it to Van de Meter and Horn. Either selection would make his father spin in his grave and his mother spit in his face.

He was beginning to think he didn't drink enough.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Excerpt 4 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 4 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley

Darrell hated them. He wanted them dead. He knew they laughed at him behind his back. He was the geek. The one with all the pens. The one with stains on his shirt. The one who could fall over his own feet. The one who dropped papers at meetings. The one that had actually passed gas at a company get-together. The one that the bosses would clap on the back at office parties and say good job even as they looked for someone -- anyone -- else for them to foist him off on. When he tried to talk to them, when he tried to explain how the flow of the R327 network was both compartmentalized and yet open and that it kept the hackers out but allowed interactivity as well as intra-activity, the same lame comments started. "Speak English, man." "Watch a lot of Star Trek, don't you?" "Over my head."

He hated them all, but he particularly hated Rachel because her cubicle was next to his. Had been for five years, but she still didn't say hi to him. She would barely nod when he passed, and if he spoke to her, her eyes would glaze immediately.

He had often thought of reporting her to the HR department for violating IT email policies. She used her computer as if she owned it and it was her personal entertainment box. She emailed her mom, her brother, twenty or so girlfriends, a few boyfriends, people she chatted with online and would never be in the same room together, school and college friends and possibly the whole population of her hometown and several small European countries. She sent them jokes and prayer and recipes. She sent them web site links and quotes and pictures. She sent them advice and gossip and opinions. Rachel was a mass media. And her online activity was in direct violation of the restricted personal use policy clearly outlined on page 46 of the Gallant and Sons Company Employee Handbook.

Darrell didn't know why she hadn't got caught. What was IT doing? Did they notice the bandwidth being used whenever Rachel was at her computer? Were they blind? Or simply too stupid?

Darrell would turn her in, but he'd be asked how he knew what she did. He'd be fired as soon as they realized he was exploiting holes in their security ice to ghost her computer. He wasn't a good liar and couldn't think of a plausible story to explain his knowledge.

So he sat in his cubicle and hated them all, but mostly Rachel. Sometimes it was hard for him to focus as he sat there, listening to the faint sound of her voice on the phone to her mom, smelling the damned perfume she drenched herself in. The last year had been worse. He nearly quit every day, but he wasn't good at job searching. Actually he was good at job searching; he wasn't good at job getting. It had taken him nearly two and a half years to find this one, and he didn't want to go back to living with his mom again.

Two months ago, though, he had found something that made it better. Something that helped when he felt his hatred of them choke away his thoughts, when he wanted to scream in frustration and rage, when he wanted to run down the halls like a madman. He would reach into his briefcase and touch it. He would hold it, and he could feel cool and calm again.

Two months ago, Darrell started bringing a gun to work.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Excerpt 3 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 3 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley

Alex wasn't what she'd been looking for. Abby hadn't been looking for a guy at all. She had joined Gallant and Sons to build a resume. She needed to rise above the rank and file and she needed to do it yesterday.

She hadn't been able to finish college. She applied for grants and loans and worked two part-time jobs, but the money wasn't enough to pay for school and to take care of her younger brother and sister. So she quit school and worked days at the local Taco King and weekends at Gilbert's Git-N-Git-Going convenience store. In what time she had left, she tried to be mom and dad to her siblings. It wasn't enough, but after a rough two years, Davie was making better grades and Alissa had stopped crying over every disappointment as if her heart had broken.

It would have been easier if her parents had siblings or any close relatives, but their only living relative was a cousin who moldered in a nursing home and another cousin who lived halfway across the country. At eighteen, Abby became the head of their little family. A couple welfare workers had scared her by talking of taking Davie or maybe little Alissa, but Abby's fierce protectiveness and the fact the workers had too many children they had to rescue from abusive homes to worry about two orphans who were clean and well-fed. Occasionally someone would drop in and check on them, but the kids knew the drill.

Last year the insurance company finally settled the suit from her parents' accident. Enough money to allow her to quit the Get-N-Go and look around for a better job. One that might let her earn more money and be a way to an even better job.

Her official title was Customer satisfaction Representative. From 8:30 to 5:00, she took phone calls and answered questions from The Gallant's customers. Some of those calls she handled; others had to be bumped on up. It hadn't taken her long to realize that the number of calls dropped some each month as the Internet help system became more sophisticated. Soon management would look around to make cuts, and as the newest CSP, she had only job insecurity.

So during her breaks, she had taken to wandering the halls, trying to find a place that she could move to. She smiled and said hi and networked, networked, networked. She made copies and ran errands for other departments. She had a ton of "If I hear of anything, I'll buzz you immediately" and lots of "I wish they had hired you to do that job instead of (whoever)."

That's what she had been doing when Alex threw up on her shoes.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Friday, June 02, 2017

Excerpt 2 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 2 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley 

Vicki knew Richard wanted her. She could tell. The way he looked at her. The way his eyes not only undressed her but threw her on the red leather couch in his neo-Spartan office and made her scream glories until she was hoarse. How his hand would rest on her shoulder, just a brotherly pat, a touch of friendship, but his long, slender fingers would linger as if they longed to press themselves deep into her flesh until they left dark violet marks of his passion.

She had sat at her desk and watched him through the glass wall that divided his office from hers. Once she had sliced her finger on a piece of paper and pressed the welling cut to her mouth. She looked up and caught his eyes focusing on her lips before he looked away. She knew he wanted her.

But he never crossed the line. She waited for it. Had waited for it these past five years as his secretary. Waited for that thrilling moment when his desires overcame his restraint and courtesy. When he would ask her out or steal a kiss or run his hand down her back. The thought made her breathe harder. For a moment, she imagined that encounter and where it would lead. She knew what she wanted. She knew how to get there if only he would take the first step.

And she imagined the aftermath -- his delicious horror -- when she sued him for sexual harassment until he bled. When she threw him and his company down and took them for every dollar they had stolen from her father. Vicki remembered what Richard's father had done to hers. And the devil be her witness, she was going to make every member of the Gallant family pay.

Such a shame Richard seemed so nice. Was so handsome. Inhabited her dreams doing things she had only read in books. Was so nice to her. Listened to her. Took her seriously. Remembered to send flowers on her birthday and Executive Assistant's Day. Gave her generous bonuses for her excellent work. Work that had been excellent at first so that he would have no reason to suspect her motives and couldn't be used against her in court, but lately, she found herself working harder for ... for him.

Oh daddy, she thought. This isn't how this was supposed to go. But I will make them pay. I will. No matter what.

She took a deep breath. She looked around the office. She turned back to her work. The report needed to be on Richard's desk today. She didn't know why her eyes were watering.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading.)

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Excerpt 1 from "Red Hot Sinner Man"

Excerpt 1 from Red Hot Sinner Man
By Stephen B. Bagley

The first thing Alex learned about cancer was that it scared other people. Oh, they put on a brave face, they plied him with sympathy, they shook their heads regretfully and spouted things like, “We’ll be thinking about you” or “Keep a positive attitude” or “You’ll be in our prayers.” Then they would delicately ask if he smoked or if cancer ran in his family or did he eat too much red meat or had he worked somewhere where he could have been exposed to a terrible chemical that caused the tumor wrapped around his spine. They wanted to know why he had cancer so that they could avoid it or be relieved that they didn’t smoke or eat red meat or do whatever it was that made him sick. They were afraid of this death that worked in the cubicle next to them. After those few words of concern, those muted conversations, they began to avoid him. Nothing overt. Just conversation fading away when he walked up or sat down at the table in the break room. Dead silences that went on so long that he could hear every rustle of paper, every click of a pen, every cough as loud as the Methodist church bell at noon.

When he realized this, he withdrew. He went silent. He retreated into his cubicle and wished for a door. He felt ashamed, almost as if cancer was some sort of STD, like he was sick because he was unclean, a leper among the washed. He was a sick person among the healthy, and he didn’t blame them for being squeamish about him. Who wants to be reminded of their own mortality? Who wants to hear the ticking of the clock? Who wants to know they won’t live forever? That a disease can strike them down despite all the raw vegetables consumed and all the miles sweated? He had felt the way they felt before Mr. C entered his life. So he understood. He would be quiet. He would die politely. He would make it easy on them since he couldn’t make it easy on himself.

At least that was what he thought he would do at first. Then he met Abby, and everything changed.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)