The 2:04 PM morrigan

1 008The following passage from my novel Simplicity Lane is posted in response to Esther Newton’s January 15, 2015 Weekly Writing Challenge #35, where she asked for us to “please send in your ghost, crime, thriller, horror etc. stories/poems/articles for this week’s challenge.  I look forward to being scared!”


2:04 PM: Charenton left the blue Honda on a side road.  He laughed about this.  Simply a force of habit, as there was no longer any reason to cover his movements or hide his identity.  He looked up and saw there were clouds moving in; the sun had receded into the safety behind them, and the air tasted of pending rain.  Good theatrics; ominous clouds and pending rain.  He had never used theatrics because you were begging for problems when you allowed extraneous things to get into the act.  Then, today was different; today he would have some fun.  When Charenton reached One Twenty-Three Simplicity Lane he knew he would have time to settle in.

Stedman’s pond was moving from tranquil to slight agitation as the mood of the weather changed.  It was the tree line behind the pond that caught Charenton’s attention.  The stand, oblivious to the movement of the wind, was death still, as in the totality of death, not simply ‘dead’ as a synonym for lack of movement.  Within the stand were trees that had long crooked limbs that stretched out like arms bent to both beckon you forward and to swoop down and hug the breath out of your feeble lungs.  Arm-like limbs that grace the pages of nightmarish stories parents read to their children because of their own ignorance to true evil.

And, high on a branch was a lone crow.  A big, deep, unforgiving darkness of night-colored, still crow.  It was looking at him.  Charenton stood and stared back; the crow was unmoving.  It moved Charenton.  Charenton recognized evil.  “*$#*^&% morrigan!”  He turned and made his entry up the path to the house.

(Simplicity Lane, copyright Steven S. Walsky, 207.)


Please read all of the story submissions on Esther Newton’s blog…and why not accept her new writing challenge!

Simplicity new cover 123113 drawing

Building Blocks (snippet images…)


Time molds vivid memories from one’s past into the building blocks of one’s writing…


Recently I discovered the blog Seen in Baltimore, where pmoyo posts everyday life pictures of Baltimore, and I thought about the smaller images of life that can become part of our writings.  While, for the most part, my stories are not set in a particular city, nevertheless, I obviously use images from my past in them.  Today’s Building Blocks is about those unrelated to ‘life stories’ snippet images from our pasts, that for some reason stay in our brains.

For example, the dark and edgy flash fiction story The Elevator started forming when I thought, ‘air travel has gone to hell’, and crystallized when the image of the outdoor elevator I pass when I park on the upper deck at Dulles International Airport started revisiting my brain.


In my novel Through a Stranger’s Eyes Dave, while taking Breen on a tour of the, albeit fictional, city he lived in when they first met, says:


“See that building over there?  It was once a firehouse; from the 1920’s, hook and ladder, that’s why it’s long and narrow.  I had visions of turning it into a restaurant…La Firehouse.”

“What kind of food, French?”

“No idea, just wanted to make it into a restaurant and La Firehouse sounded good.”

Breen laughed and shook her head.

“You seem to shake your head a lot when I tell you things.”

“Definitely things; most definitely things,” as she shook her head again.


Yep, I actually had that real life inspiration every time I would pass this, now former, firehouse at 700 North Eutaw Street in Baltimore.  It opened January 7, 1860 as Engine 7; the steeple and bell were removed in 1905, it closed in 1991, and is now a homeless shelter (picture and information thanks to Mike Legeros’ Historic and Former Baltimore Firehouses).

Former Baltimore City firehouse at 700 N. Eutaw St.  Picture Mike Legeros.

Former Baltimore City firehouse at 700 N. Eutaw St. Picture Mike Legeros.


One day in 2004, while driving to work I saw something that periodically jumps back into the spotlight of consciousness.  I recently used that image in the life and love flash fiction piece The Road Traversed.


The sun is just wakening to address the day, as a coyote, with head raised, walks along the road towards our car; owns the world soon to be dawned.  The coyote cares nothing for the cars that pass.  These are the suburbs and to the average ‘city folk’ he is but another stray pooch.


What recurring snippets are dancing around in your mind that beg to be used in your writing?

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.


Through a Stranger’s Eyes (2005), The Elevator (2011), and The Road Traversed (2013) are copyrighted by Steven S. Walsky, all rights reserved.

In fond memory of goldfish

This synopsis about goldfish and burials is from the novel Simplicity Lane, and is offered in fond memory of Girl on the Contrary‘s dearly departed goldfish masthead.

Danny tells his five-year old twin sister Teal that he heard the Cookie Lady had died; died like her goldfish Fin.

This upset Teal, as she loved the Cookie Lady.  All the kids loved the Cookie Lady.

That night when she said her prayers, as the song of an indigo bunting entertained outside, Teal asked God not to flush the Cookie Lady down the toilet.  Teal’s mom, who was standing by the bed ready to tuck Teal in when her prayers were finished, did not know if she should laugh or what (?).  Teal seemed so serious and concerned with her request.

“Teal honey, why would God want to flush Miss Whatts…down a toilet?”

“Oh Mom, Danny said she died like my Fin, and she has to be flushed down the toilet!”  Before Teal’s mom could say anything, Teal started to cry, “I don’t want her to die!”

Teal’s mom reassured her that Miss Whatts was alive and well, and they would go over to her house the next night.  As for Danny, Mrs. Stedman was not very pleased and intended to have a few words with her son.  With Teal in bed, Mrs. Stedman softly exited the room and, mind preoccupied on this revelation of Danny’s, she bumped into her husband who was standing in the hall, having just come from Danny’s room on the other side of their bedroom.  She silently signaled her husband to follow her downstairs, and once in the living room, “Teal thinks Miss Whatts is dead and when people die they get flushed down the toilet like dead goldfish.  We need to have a word with your son.”

“My son, why is he ‘my son’ when he’s in trouble?  Besides,” putting his arms around her hips and pulling her into an embrace, “maybe Danny has hit on a solution to the high cost of funerals.”

The next morning at breakfast the Stedman explained to their little ones that ‘A’ Miss Whatts was alive and well, and ‘B’ people are not flushed down toilets when they die. That night the four Stedman visited the Cookie Lady and she was as fit as ever; even if ninety-three years old.  The cookies were warm.  Tasty oatmeal.

Sadly, the Cookie Lady would die a few days later, and…

At the funeral home Teal looked earnestly for the giant toilet they would use to flush the Cookie Lady down.  Regardless of what Mom and Dad said, she firmly believed the Cookie Lady would be sent off to heaven like Fin was.  Teal pulled at her mom’s arm, twisting and turning, both little girl impatient and trying to look around the grown-ups to see where the toilet was.

Years later, Teal’s young adult son would visit the same funeral home, and when the owner told him that he could call him by his first name, not ‘Mister Bigford’, “…but I reckon your mom would consider that impolite.  However, since I recall she attempted to flush a bunch of flowers down one of the visitor toilets, she owes me.  Course she was, what, five or six?”

(Simplicity Lane is a work of fiction, copyright Steven S. Walsky 2007, all rights reserved.)

Simplicity Lane, posted on this blog, is a novel about lethal greed existing in places goodness is ignorant of.