What the hell have I gotten myself into, thought Stone, as he headed to O’Halloran’s to try and stop the nervous shaking that had taken hold of him since the interview. Blindsided by a goddamn dog hair, how was that for luck? Finding fingerprints or weapons near a dead body, apparently that sort of evidence was too boring for the boys in blue to look for. But drop a dog hair in their hands and look out, the case was going to get cracked and promotions were going to be handed out. How could he have been so stupid?
The familiar stench of cigar greeted him as usual, but this time he found something else unsavory inside. Hardwood was at the bar drinking red wine, a few of the locals hovering around him bugging him about something, no doubt the Casanova Carver news. Furious, Stone slammed his fist down on the bar top next to him and watched as everyone cleared away.
“Stone,” Hardwood said, gallantly as always.
“You stole my story. How’d you do it?”
“It is quite a coincidence isn’t it? Two news anchors…excuse me, two newsmen receiving letters on the same night confessing heinous crimes. What are the odds? Unless it’s the same killer and he sent letters to all the media. It’s perplexing.”
“It’s not the same guy and you know it.”
“Do I? You seem rather perturbed for someone who got as much attention tonight as you did. How many calls have you gotten so far?”
“The Times and Post called my cell while I was walking here, I told them no dice, it’s my story. I haven’t checked my machine at work yet.”
“And yet you’re angry with me. It’s not my fault some deranged soul—or souls as you propose—chose the same day to send us letters. Hell, I get letters all the time from people. Sometimes, yes, even the ramblings of lunatics.”
“But you never read them on the air.”
“This one struck me as urgent.”
“Bullshit, it struck you as a golden opportunity to steal back an audience that was glued to my report. What, someone in your office saw my report and you cut to commercial so you could dig through your mailbag real quick?”Pat came over and put a glass of whiskey on the counter for Stone. “I took a guess, I did. Dewars on the rocks. And perhaps for it being on the house you could disclose some juicy details about your new story for ol’ Pat. Like Mr. Hardwood here did.”
The drink didn’t steady Stone’s nerves as much as he’d hoped, but it helped. After it settled in his gut, he glared at Hardwood. The sonofabitch would use a story to get any small amount of attention, be it a wink or a blowjob. Getting attention was his livelihood.
“Only a minor detail,” Hardwood said, reassuringly. “Something so that Pat here can impress the ladies.”
“Aye, it’s the talk of the town tonight and Ol’ Patty got the goods. I’ll sell a few black and tans at the promise of inside news, I tell ya. So give me what you got, oh Wesley.”
It was nice to hear his own name again, and so he bit his lip and thought about the possibilities. It didn’t matter what the letter actually said, he decided, if he made something up now it would come true soon enough. But he decided against it on the notion that if Pat knew something before the cops did it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to make a connection.
“Sorry, Pat. What you heard is what I know.”
“Ol’ Hardwood here confessed that the Casanova Carver named his victim John Donor. Get it?”
“Not really. I thought it was a girl.”
“Ah yes,” said Hardwood, “but don’t we say mankind when referring to both genders. The killer sees the species, not the sex. I left the name out of the report on purpose. Gives me something to use if I ever track him down. If he knows it’s really me, maybe I’ll get an exclusive interview.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I will too.”
“By all means. Such is the freedom of the press. To repeat and reform until every angle has been squeezed.” Stone paid Pat and waited until the bartender left before he spoke again. A group of men walked in and sat down at the table nearby so he spoke low, the first buzz of the night catching up to him.
“Something’s fishy here.”
“Oh please. Sending letters to the media is the oldest trick in the book. The Zodiac killer, the Unabomber. Hell, they all send their deranged musings to us. It’s in the serial killer’s handbook or something. It’s amusing but terribly trite.”
It was then that Hardwood reached for his drink and Stone noticed the cuts on his forearm. They were fresh, the result of something thin and sharp. He’d seen cuts like that before during stories he’d covered, usually on rape victims but more often on the attackers themselves. It never failed that an attacker using a knife cut himself.
“Oh, these lacerations? I was hanging a mirror last night and it shattered when I misjudged the hammer. Shame too, it was an antique from my relatives in Portugal.”
Now, what happened next, as Stone sat back slowly and felt his chest tighten, was sort of like emerging from the mental fog that surrounds a dream. Everything became clear real quick.
“You sonofa…Hardwood, you killed that girl.”
“Not yet I’m not. You did, you killed her. You sick bastard. Killed her for the story. Sonofabitch. You, the great and successful Doug Hardwood, killed her and made up The Casanova Carver.”
From the TV at the end of the bar, there came a riotous burst of canned laughter. The bar patrons followed suit, as did O’Halloran. Stone looked up and saw Branford Marsalis beaming, pointing at Jay Leno as if he’d just one-upped the big-chinned host.
Slowly, calculatingly, Hardwood spun in his barstool and got in Stone’s personal space, their noses practically touching.
“Funny you should bring it up, my sleepy-eyed competitor. I know where you were last night…Wesley. I know about the bum in the building and what you did to him. Care to have a conversation about it?”
3/14/13: MUTE by Jeffrey Hale is officialy out in paperback and ebook formats!
2/20/13: SORCERER by Geoffrey James is officialy out in paperback and ebook formats!
2/11/13: On Thursday February 14th, 2013 The Hermetic Hour with host Poke Runyon will interview the distinguished scholar and author Geoffrey James whose historical novel "The Sorcerer" on Elizabethan magus John Dee has just been released by us. It should be noted that Geoffrey James is also the author of "Enochian Evocation of Dr. John Dee," and "Angel Magic', both factual and practical works on the magical art. Geoffrey brings a unique combination of talents to his novel: he is an historian, a magician and a masterful story teller. Tune in here: The Hermetic Hour
1/14/13: We've got AUDIO BOOKS! A Pack of Wolves, Last Stand in a Dead Land, and Dead Dog, are currently available from Audible.com More audio books are on the way!
12/26/12: We are having a 99 cent Kindle sale for the next five days! Details HERE
12/25/12: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
12/01/12: We will be releasing ANGEL STEEL by Randy Chandler and THE DEAD BOY by Craig Saunders.
11/31/12: Through the In Between, Hell Awaits by Robert Essig is now out! If you like demons this book is for you.
10/31/12: Happy Halloween! Grab some of our spooky books to put you in the mood.
6/25/12: We will be publishing Robert Essig's novel Through the In Between, Hell Awaits
6/25/12: We will be releasing the horror novel MUTE from Jeffrey Hale. More info to come.
4/10/12: We've accepted a great sci fi/mystery novel from Cliff Johns. More info to come.
3/01/12: Check out this awesome trailer for A PACK OF WOLVES.
2/23/12: THE FLESH OF FALLEN ANGELS and DEAD THINGS should both be out in March.
1/03/12: Happy New Year! Look for Craig Saunder's hilarious novel, SPIGGOT, due out in a couple weeks!
12/05/11: Eric S. Brown's newest novella, A PACK OF WOLVES, now available!
12/01/11: Iain Robert Wright's ANIMAL KINGDOM now available on kinde. Paperback coming soon!
9/21/11: New novels on the way from Iain Robert Wright and Craig Saunders, two great authors from across the pond!
8/29/11: New books on the way from Eric S. Brown and Nick Cook.
5/9/11: The detective horror antho is out. We've also accepted books from Gregory L. Norris, Randy Chandler, and David T. Wilbanks. Our first Mystery Novel is on the horizon, written by Robb White.
4/23/11: The Detective Horror antho is now CLOSED to submissions. Thank you.
3/31/11: We are almost done filling the detective horror antho. Cover design should be up in a couple weeks. And we are still open for novel submissions.
12/15/10: The Detective Horror anthology has been reopened to submissions. If you submitted during the last period we will be contacting you very soon. We apologize for the delay.
12/08/10: WE ARE NOW OPEN FOR NOVEL SUBMISSIONS. See our submissions page for more info.
12/07/10: We are back to working on the Hard Boiled Anthology. We hope to have the TOC in a week or two. Thanks.
10/12/10: PLEASE NOTE: The Hard Boiled Horror anthology is backed up. We will get back to you as quickly as possible. The Alien Horror anthology table of contents should be released by next week. Thanks!
10/01/10: Submissions have closed. Thank you.
8/9/10: Grand Mal Press is now accepting submissions to our first TWO anthologies. Details on our submissions page.