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Three very strange
Short Stories

by Patricia Crandall



            The Tamany Art Show was in progress. The lighting was dim except for the highlighting of each realistic painting. Various people milled about the gallery, sporting programs in their hands or studying the work of a new artist.

            Estelle Lohnes gripped her program tightly and admired intensely her wax-like replica of a man’s face visible beneath the glass of a chrome structure situated in the middle of the high-ceilinged room.

            Michael’s pale eyes peered out at her. His wavy, golden hair was feathered around his white features. His thin lips curved upwards in a frozen smile, so unlike the patronizing, apologetic man she had been with two weeks earlier. One evening after dinner and the theater, he had revealed to her he was in love with her best friend, Viola.

            It had been easy to murder Michael…a knife in his back, near the heart, a hot iron press to flatten his features, and a preservative. The result, a facsimile of a medieval mask and the remains of his body, recycled!


            “Elisa, put aside all caution and come with me at once. I love you, darling,” said the svelte, middle-aged huntsman leaning against a pillar in the Leonard Estate garden. Hendrik Weideman had returned from a fox hunt in the woodland bordering the Leonard property.

            Elisa Nugent waved a silk fan and said, “you speak nonsense, Hendrik. I am engaged to your cousin. Let us speak of this no more. Tory has promised me the manor when we are married and this garden will be my own. I do love this garden.”

            Ringlets of black hair framed the seventeen year old girl’s sculptured face. Her tapering hands dropped among the folds of a rose and white striped cashmere dress.

            “Bah!” The insolent man threw down his whip. “Tory is an empty-headed boy.” Hendrik reclined beside Elisa on the grass disregarding the fact she turned away from him.

            Hendrik’s large hand encircled her soft one. “Elisa,” he whispered, “Your sweetness will pale living in this desolate place. You should be mistress of several

 manors. Do not covet this garden. I can give you European gardens laid out with exquisite taste and gleaming with refreshing verdure.” He pulled her to him.

            “Tory!” Elisa screamed.

            A tall, athletic youth darted from behind a hedgerow. Tory Leonard raised a meat cleaver over Hendrik’s head.

            “Cut!” ordered the director.

                                                         GHOST OF A CRUISE

            “Great job, Tipper!” Sebastian Woodrift praised his tuxedo-garbed companion as they stole across the deck of the luxury liner where vacant chairs were strewn every which way.

            Tall and elegant, fortyish Tipper Shamus, glanced at his portly black companion and grinned confidently. Passing themselves off as a well-to-do Floridian land developer and a topnotch Honda dealer from Vermont on a one-week S. S. Martina Cruise in the Caribbean, came easy.

            Tipper pulsated with renewed energy as he felt in his jacket pocket, the heirloom trinkets his rapacious fingers had removed from the safe in Lady Maleady’s boudoir moments before.

            He winced at the thought of Lady Maleady and weaved hurriedly through the chairs as if she were at his heels. Tiffany Maleady was the most unlovable creature he had met. She would do anything for attention and was not liked by most of the people on the ship. The torment he had endured had been worth it, however. Soon he would be rich.

            As Tipper and Sebastian approached the railing to descend to a boat secured to the ocean vessel, they turned at the sound of intensified whispers and were startled to see deck chairs sailing in mid-air.

            “Hey what’s…!!” Tipper’s voice faded as an icy hand gripped the back of his neck. He was whipped back savagely then thrust onto the hard floor.

            “What the devil!” screamed Sebastian, upended by a spinning chair. He was tossed into space and landed flat on his back.

            There was a click-clacking of heels on the deck and a raucous shriek, “they stole my jewels! Catch the thieves!” Lady Maleady’s cumbersome form puffed toward the wretched twosome. She was followed by the ship’s Captain and his mates.

            Tipper and Sebastian were thrown into the brig wondering what went wrong.

            On deck, after everyone returned to the game room for shuffleboard awards, the chairs were in place, each occupied by an avenging ocean spirit.

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