“OYSTER SHELLS” by SAMUEL STEVENS

He took these hunting trips three times a year. He hunted one kind of game but he never had the stomach to take it.

The hunter hiked through the bush—no, it was not bush, he corrected himself. The autumn leaves on the forest floor made him think of corpses, for some reason. The sun shone over the ridge-line ahead. He had been here as a boy.

The hunter never carried many rounds. He kept ten in the cartridge loops on his belt for appearances. He breathed out and went downhill. There was a wide stream that trout lived in at the foot. He came here in the summer to fish. He crouched at the stream and the cool air was refreshing despite the autumn winds.

He was going to be back at his job on Monday, maybe, back to listening to the bitch make demands of him over nothing and expect him to act as her confessor. Coming home to an empty house was normal to him.

He looked up from the water and a deer stared at him, a doe. He stood up slowly. The doe ran up the ridge on the other side of the wide stream. The hunter sloshed across. His boots filled with water. That was alright.

He listened and stalked. He was not after this doe; it was the wrong kind of game. He went after it anyway, tracking the disturbances in the dead leaves. Continue reading

“HOUSE ARREST” by SAMUEL STEVENS

The patrol cop pulled up to the tiny house in the suburbs. He could smell the dead body through his car. “Son of a bitch,” he grumbled. He lit a cigarette just to ward off the miasma. The house was in a woman’s name but her son—Gary Adams, 26, single, no employment history—was the only resident. He’d seen a lot of that in the last few years. Some autism mom would shack up with a schlub, move across town, and leave their kid at home. Continue reading

“NIGHT CUSTOMERS” by SAMUEL STEVENS

The night shift at the sub shop had a certain peace to it. During the day the signs the night clerk saw out the front windows were tacky, reminders of how ugly the strip mall was. You could see how dirty it was in the day time too. At night he couldn’t see the grime, just the glow of the signs and night sky.

He wiped everything down again. He looked at his phone again, as if he had people to communicate with on the damn thing. He just refreshed the same four apps. He knew it was chasing a drug high but did not care.

A middle aged man came in the store. He wore a t-shirt with a bar’s name, the cartoon design peeling off the shirt. His jeans were too loose and he wore white sneakers like all the men his age had. Continue reading

“A DIFFICULT OPERATION” BY SAMUEL STEVENS

He saw the girl on the side of the parkway. She looked about as out of place out in the Blue Ridge in her nylon shorts and crop top and gaudy floral thigh tattoo as he did in his suit. She waved to his car. He drove past her. He’d only pick her up if he thought he’d get lucky and even if the chance arose he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He was working a case. Continue reading