Category Archives: charles Gramlich

And Now for Something Completely Different…

I’m not the best salesperson.  Back when I worked at a kiosk in the mall (cut me some slack; I was nineteen), I sold “Diamond Dirt.”  It was this gelatinous goo that one could put plants in and they would “grow” just like normal plants.  Seeing the mangy, sad sticks poking out of the suffocating pink and green glop, I did not believe in this product, and could not get behind it.  Whenever any potential client asked me questions like, “Is it better than dirt?”  my reply was a quick, “Probably not.”  I quit the sales business in rapid order.

Having said that, I will, on occasion, pitch something to people whenever I truly believe in it.  Dyson vacuums would be one of them.  Apple computers would be another.  Fluevog shoes, a third.  And now, author Charles Gramlich joins the ranks.  Charles is a talented writer whose diverse range of work always proves a good read.  His ebook, Killing Trail debuted today on Kindle for Amazon.  From the author’s blogger page:


Killing Trail is a collection of western short stories by Charles Allen Gramlich, the author of the Talera Trilogy and Cold in the Light. It contains:

Killing Trail: When they dumped Angela Cody on Lane Holland’s ranch she was scant moments from death. She managed to speak only a few words, but those were enough to make Lane strap on his guns and ride out on a killing trail.

Showdown at Wild Briar: Accused of a murder he didn’t commit, Josh Allen Boone has ridden a long way from his Wild Briar Ranch. But now he’s coming home, and the real killers are waiting for him with a rope. (Never before published.)

Powder Burn: They said Davy Bonner’s luck had run out and they ambushed him along a dark road. But luck or no, Davy wasn’t going down without a fight. (Written specifically for this collection.)

Once Upon a Time with the Dead: For the gray raiders, death was an old friend.

The work also includes two nonfiction essays, one about Louis L’Amour and another about the real Wild West.
As I said before, Charles is a great writer.  And, by selling his ebook for just $2.99, he’s also quite the bargain master.  That grocery-store-coleslaw-tub-of-useless-glop I had to sell back in 1992 wasn’t even that cheap!

Go download a copy (and get yourself a Dyson, while you’re at it).

Halloween Flash Finale

Well, Halloween is almost at hand and I’ve come up with a final flash piece to contribute to Charles’ Halloween Horror Flash Fiction-a-thon. This one’s been hiding in my files almost as long as The Empress.

If I don’t get around to writing another post this week, have a Happy Halloween. Listen to some spooky music, light a bonfire, dress up as the creature you’ve always wanted to be. Oh yeah, and go get some candy for me (Baby Ruth’s are the preferred donation).


The Love of the Job

Like a mechanical mosquito the needle hammered into his flesh, drawing out slick smears of crimson, depositing various shades of gray in return.

Remember Nikky, this spot is mine.

Those had been the last words spoken to him by his grandfather, Sid “the Ink” Shepherd, as the dying old man patted the final bit of virgin skin on Nick’s motley arm. Now only the walls’ collection of flash stood as silent witness to the fulfillment of that promise, the memorialization of Nick’s mentor, despite the torturous regret it fostered.

The job was going horribly wrong.

Nick’s sweat-slicked right hand clung to the battered, duct taped armrest as his defiant left arm steadily worked his grandfather’s prized shader across his flesh. He could no more stop its progress than will the frenzied staccato of his heart to slow. The needle buzzed into his skin with hot, jabbing intensity. The newly injected ink swarmed through the dermis, breaking lines here, joining others there, willfully reshaping his chosen design to suit its own undisclosed end. Nick could do nothing but watch.

After hours of slow agony, the maniacal tension in Nick’s arm dispelled and the shader clattered to the floor. His stomach knotted with trepidation, Nick grabbed a handful of rough paper towels and wiped away the sanguine and ebony swirls. From its place in the center of his forearm, the grayscale visage of his grandfather stared sternly up at the collection of lewd cartoons pinned to the ceiling. Like a slow moving wave, the skin on Nick’s arm gathered and broke, folding over his grandfather’s eyes as dark, hooded lids. The tattoo gave a slow blink and then rolled its gaze down, sweeping back and forth, studying its new incarnation. Sweat ticked down Nick’s face as the eyes–those eyes wrought by his own hand–turned upwards to bore into him. With a careful stretch of its mouth, the tattoo gave Nick an admonitory scowl.

“Your shading is shit, boy.”

Halloween Horror October Numero Dos

As it it both October, and the thirteenth, I’m honoring two of my favorite things with another installment of the Halloween Horror Flash event, sponsored by the one and only Charles Gramlich. Our charming host has two stories up with more promised soon. Head over to Charles’ site and check out Goodnight and Spot. The ever-twisted (and your future president) Stewart Sternberg, has offered up Fat Man. Read it and see if you think our protagonist is evil, or if you’re like me and think he just might not be all bad. Sidney has channeled his inner angst and presents us with, Having His Say, a good read for all you resentful youngsters out there. Laughingwolf gives us, Flight–don’t let the lightheartedness fool you; darkness lurks in this wolf’s soul. Miladysa gives us, Twisted, a dire warning to those of you inclined to take shortcuts. If I’ve missed anyone on the rounds, drop me a line and I’ll be sure to scurry over and read your flash, and add your link here.

As for me, I had a traumatic incident this past week. Well, three, exactly. And they all boil down to the same horrible conclusion; I’ve become Damian. I didn’t really want to be, what with the responsibility involved and all, but it has happened all the same. The first incident was last Friday. I was raking the yard and came upon a young mauled dove sprawled on my back patio. Then, on Saturday I went to a friend’s house on the river. We kayaked in the sun, and then headed back to the house to get some wine. On the walkway, right at my feet, was an injured bluebird. Then, yesterday, as I watered my garden, I noticed a large group of flies around my pot of mint. I peeked in, and, sure enough, another dead dove. It seems my former avian friends are dropping from the skies wherever my feet touch the earth. So, if you’re trying to avoid me and my new sinister career path, just go out and buy yourself a yellow canary like the miners of old. If it drops dead, beat it out of there, because I’m sure to be on the way over.

So, with no further jibberjabber, here’s the next flash:

Problem Child

The creature stopped twitching, and immediately she wished she could take it back. She held her daddy’s hammer tightly in the palm of her shaking hand and stared at the mess that had not too long before been a head. The insides of her stomach twisted into a dozen tight balls of string. There was no taking this back. No putting life back into the small form.

She gazed at the ruined body in contemplation. It had been so small, so weak. When she had picked it up, the thing squawked and squealed in panic, but had been helpless to do anything more. Surely that meant something? Her young mind gnawed the problem, chewing it like tough meat. She gazed at the lifeless shell, and the bits of swirling emotions settled, locking in her mind as a much more logical, concrete outlook.

Because it had no chance against her, the creature deserved to fall under her control. With no means to defend its life, its death became hers to decide. She hefted her daddy’s hammer in her hand and felt a surging swell of dominance. The young monster gazed down at the rest of the tiny, scurrying humans, and smiled.

Halloween Horror October

Spurred by the fantastic piece of flash by Charles Gramlich, and his idea to keep the short bursts of horror going for the entire month of October, I humbly offer a bit of fluff I wrote a few years ago after purchasing my first (and only, to date) grotesque. I did post this story in 2006, but I had somewhere close to zero readers at the time, so I’m treating it as new-to-you. Enjoy, and be sure to think twice before that next lawn ornament impulse buy.

The Empress of the Fescue

This is how a snake feels, awaiting the first rays of light to banish the insidious chill. This is how it will always feel, cold and alone. This is why my desperation grows–as hers must have-wild.

I purchased her at an estate sale to stand sentry against the hordes of sticky-mouthed candy-grabbers trampling my front lawn. My beautiful, winged, snarling chimera, the Empress of the Fescue.

With a childish thrill I ventured under the harvest moon to admire her fearsome grimace. Only a flattened patch of turf remained to belie her post. There was no time to gape, or wonder. She came with full fury, a winged wrecking ball to the back. I toppled forward against the dew-dampened grass, gasping for air.

Masonry talons clicked against the sidewalk. I heaved onto my back. She was there under the halo of light, waiting for my gaze to register her carven jaws stretched wide with hunger. Panic jolted my bones and I scrabbled away, clawed hands and bare feet churning the earth in desperation.

The grass was slick. I was slow.

Her terrible weight prematurely expelled the last of my breaths. That gaping mouth sucked deep into my own. I struggled to stay inside, but there was nothing to hold onto, no anchor to cast.

I pushed myself up with shaking arms.

Not me.

She, wearing me.

I fit her like a well-made suit, and she smiled. She did a small dance of joy, cavorting out of view as she tried her new legs. My head could not turn to follow. Cast in a haze of gray, my world contracted to a narrow strip of grass, a patch of siding, and my living room window.

It aches, sitting here with my knees hunched around my chin. A spider has built a web in the crevice of my right ear. The grass is cold against my immovable hide and I spend the long dark wishing for the following day to come without rain or clouds so I might briefly remember warmth.

I catch snippets of her through the window, clips from a movie I will never see. She seems happy. And why shouldn’t she be? She has it all: my life, my husband, my flesh. And she has me, her Empress of the Fescue.