I'm dead. Really dead. Not in the "there'll be a twist at the end and I'll be saved" kind of way. Just dead.

I lived a short life. Just 42 years young; at the peak of my career as a well-renowned chef in New York City. Most people say it was an accident; the gunman ran into my restaurant, and randomly shot rounds into the kitchen and at the restaurant patrons.

As a dead person, unreliably, I can tell you this is not true. I say unreliably because no one will ever know that I am telling the truth here....

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"The river's on fire," said my son. The river did seem to be on fire, if you were only looking at the river.

"No, the sky is," I told him. A reflection from above. He shrugged his shoulders.

He didn't ask why the sky was on fire, just bowed his over over the rowboat's side and continued looking for fish. Small, darting, the color of the river bed, the fish beneath the fire, the river beneath the fire.

My eyes toward the sky, waiting for the fire to come down.

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Monkey banged into the table leg. The box hesitantly tipped over, shortening its shadow. Small waves of wine sieved through the table cloth.

"That fucking dog."

We laughed, watching our evening sink into the carpet.

We were too high to be drinking anyway.

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There was blood on my pillow and when I woke up the right side of my mouth was swollen and swore. I rushed to the bathroom and rinsed the dried blood from my mouth. It came out in thick clumps at first, and then ran quickly as the crimson liquid. I pulled my cheeks wide and saw that three teeth were missing.

I ran back to my room, my jaw aching and throbbing with the intensity of a fire alarm. I lifted the blood stained pillow and saw three dollar bills lying there. They were crumpled and crimped but someone...

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Shannon sat up, her eyes wide open. She wasn't sure if she was awake or asleep. She looked around the room (dirty socks, cat puke in one corner, empty Miller cans, a laundry basket filled with clean clothes) and wished it was all unfamiliar. She looked at the man next to her. His back was smooth and tanned. A tiny mole winked at her from his left shoulder blade. She wished he was a stranger.
Shannon lay back down. The pillow was damp with sweat, her sweat. Had she been dreaming or coming out of a fever?
"Where are you...

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Until now, she'd never thought of herself as pretty.

She'd never thought of herself as anything close to it. Too tall, too dark, too weird-looking in general, too much stomach fat and too small a face and too much that was just plain wrong.

Too little personality at first and then too weird a personality later. Too much for other people to deal with.

Too timid to speak up, too hinged on other people's expectations of her.

Too affected by what others said, too stupid to bring up her own ideas or her own thoughts.

And how that's changed.


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£18000 was how much it was going to cost to get him out of jail. Such is the price for public indecency in front of the queen.

It wasn't even that it was so...indecent. It was more along the lines of public infantilism. We'd both been to London before, and we had done all the touristy things, all the things that young men with wild oats were desperately in need of doing, but this time, Adam took it too far.

Adam, he of the propensity for humping things, took one look at the Royal Guard, and in a moment of...

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"Wait, let me send a pic...." Darren closed one eye as he aimed his phone and snapped a picture, capturing the female figure in three quarter view, just before the turning stage she stood on spun her slowly away.

He gazed at the picture, ran his thumb over the screen, before attaching it to the a text and sending it. The female figure had turned back around and he gnawed on his lips as he briefly met eyes with her. They were glossier than one would be used to, the whites would glitter, something in the plastic, or enamel or...

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She knew more than she was letting on - then again, that was her weapon. That was the way she lived her life, mostly on her wits.

He'd been watching her for longer than he should, longer than he'd been contracted to. He'd taken the case on (and that sounded ridiculous, he wasn't a detective, he was just a man) and had found himself captivated.

It wasn't lust. Wasn't love either. Neither of those things interested him, especially not with her (she may have been beautiful, once, a long time ago, or maybe she would become it when she grew...

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The city was empty. It was early Saturday morning, the sky was grey and rain fell lightly. Almost imperceptibly. This was his favourite time. It felt like the entire city belonged to him. He would wander down abandoned streets, look into windows of the closed shops, sometimes he would even sing out.

He started humming loudly as he walked. A pigeon heard him and thumped his wings and took off, landing a few feet away.

He hopped over a puddle next to the curb and sang out load. "They call me mister Pitiful, baby that's my name."

This is freedom,...

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