“Merry Xmas from Orchard Beach” up at Spinetingler

Copyright Tony SheaMy story “Merry Xmas from Orchard Beach” is now up at Spinetingler magazine. Many thanks to Jack Getze for publishing it.

I’ve always wanted to write a story set in the Bronx Riviera. I went there several times as a kid, the memory of it being very distinct from my memory of Coney Island. When I went back as an adult, I was struck by the sense that this place had been quite magnificent once but had fallen into disregard and decay, cracked sidewalks, abandoned colonnades, a place where dreams floated away like globs of suntan lotion atop salty, mucky water. Well, hello, noir!

This is my second story for Spinetingler. A few years ago they published “Watching the Iguanas,” which is now included in Roachkiller and Other Stories.

Here is a quick excerpt from “Merry Xmas from Orchard Beach”:

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Tito asked.

“Never mind,” Heather said. “He’s got jokes.”

“I have your money,” Ledesma said. “Where is this so-called evidence?”

“I have the evidence against your client right here.” From her coat pocket, Heather pulled out a sealed manila envelope. The day before she had folded up a couple of pages from the New York Post and shoved them in there. “Money first, my friend.”

“You know what? I think you’re a couple of jokers, and I smell bullshit. What the fuck do you really want? I got three screaming spoiled brats waiting to open their goddamned presents. If you don’t tell me what the fuck this is about, I’m getting out of here. And don’t think you can stop me.”

“No, you’re not.” Heather pulled out a .38.

“You have to be kidding.”

She waved him over to one of the doorless bathroom stalls and pointed to the seatless toilet, where the water was frozen.

“Cop a squat,” she told him.

You can read the full story here. If you read it, and you like, please leave a comment there.

Photo courtesy of Tony Shea.

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All about Setting: Library Panel, December 12

locationNext Monday, December 12, starting at 6:15 p.m., at the Seward Park Branch Library
192 East Broadway, I’ll be discussing setting and location in mystery stories with authors C.E. Lawrence, Laura Joh Rowland, and Triss Stein. We’ll read from our works and then answer any reasonable questions.

For more details, click here.

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PURE as the Driven SLUSH

product_thumbnailSpeaking of Dark Times, Winter is indeed coming to the U.S. So perhaps we could all use a little humor before humor is made illegal. I’ve a funny story just printed in Pure Slush, Vol. 13: Freak, an outfit (“flash . . . without the wank”) from Down Under (I think). (I’m seeking to expand my fan base by engaging readers on the other side of the world; if I get just one more fan, that’s an increase of 50 percent!) I entered a story because I happen to have one mostly finished on hand that fit their call: anything concerning freakishness. (Lesson 75: Don’t throw out any drafts or half-gestated ideas.)

Here is a sample from the start of the story, “Echo, Echo”:

“My cubicle is right outside the ladies’ room. I do not try to listen, but with the shape of the walls and the vent in the door, I hear the echo of things I was not meant to hear.”

For the rest of the tale, buy it, buy it now.

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THE OLD HAUNT

The Haunted House / Das GeisterhausThis story was originally published in Nightmare Illustrated and has been republished several times. I thought I’d add it here temporarily, for your Halloween reading pleasure.

The Old Haunt
by Richie Narvaez

WITH HORROR, Grace realized that she was dead, and that she was now a ghost, and that she would be doomed to haunt the dark, dank, dusty halls of Chuffnuttington Manor for all eternity. What would become of her darling children? What of her dear husband, who had not the least idea of how to order dinner?

“Dearest maman, you are mistaken,” said her suddenly-appearing twin children, Catarina and Carl. “It is we who have passed on to become phantoms and not you.” They perched on tricycles before her, extremely pale and extremely calm, just as eerie in death as in life, for they had since infancy a penchant for talking in burps. “Do not fear,” they chimed in unison. “We are ever so happy. We play all the day, and our laughter shall fill your dreams.”

“How awful,” said Grace.

But then suddenly bursting into the room was her husband, Barley, seaweed covering his drenched tuxedo. “Darling, darling,” he uttered. “How silly you are. It is not you who are the haunting spirit, but I. And before I ascend to the light, I’d like you to take note of a few things, such as how to work the boiler, and that I squandered your family’s fortune on Internet gambling.”

“Oh, Barley!” said Grace.

“Nonsense!” came a voice, hinting of evil and too much apricot brandy. It was the voice of Barley’s father, Lord Chuffnuttington. He floated into the room in his cape and patent leather mandals. “I am the true ghost who haunts Chuffnuttington Manor! All the guests have been tricked into coming here by my missive from the Other Side—you know, Connecticut.”

Just then, the guests filed into the parlor, slowly, ponderously. The young couple who needed only some trauma to reaffirm their love for one another, the comely-yet-duplicitous real estate agent, and the diminutive psychic who was less a psychic and more just a very sensitive Virgo. All of them claimed to be the true ghost.

“FOOLS!” came the snarling voice with a geographically-unplaceable accent, of Carla Van Carla, the maid/chef/groundskeeper/mechanic/reiki master. “I’ve reached back from the Darkness to haunt you all for your sins!”

“But then who made the hors d’oeuvres?” said Grace.

“The canapés were to die for,” noted Barley.

“This cannot be!” pronounced Lord Chuffnuttington. “We can’t all be ghosts.”

“Wait! I know!” said the diminutive Virgo not-really-a-psychic. “It’s the house!”

Just then the doors creaked, an ancient clock chimed, and a microwave dinged, like a forewarning of malevolence.

“The house is a ghost! The house is a ghost!” burped the twins in tandem.

“That explains the horrible wifi,” said the male half of the young couple.

“There is an old Indian burial ground below the library,” said the lovely-but-larcenous real estate agent. “But with its lovely view of the gardens and some curtains, it could be turned into a casino room.”

All of a sudden, the faithful old Rottweiler, who had a predilection for stealing and then chewing Barley’s private lingerie collection, appeared in the doorway and deeply barked: “Ridiculous bipeds! Hear me, Rugtug Catkiller, for that is my true name among my kind. I passed into the Great Nap, but I have brought you here to hear my plea from the Eternal Yard of Light.”

“Shoo, Peaches, you demon hellhound,” said Barley, who disliked the dog for what it had done to his corsets and who, like all the others, had not understood a word it had said.

Then, in the abnormal stillness that followed, they realized that they were all alive, that none of them was a ghost, apparition, or poltergeist, and that they were, in point of fact, merely bored, high on Ritalin, needing to potty, married, senile, emotionally stunted, manic depressive, plagued by dreams of Cthulhu, Libertarian, on steroids, in need of a paint job, and/or in gay denial, respectively.

Things seemed to go well after that, until Grace suggested a round of charades. The others quickly overpowered her, cooked her, and ate her like livestock. The twins particularly enjoyed her shins. “Maman is a tasty maman,” they said, eructating in harmony.

At midnight, their bellies filled, their mouths greasy, they sat round the cavernous library with its cavernous fireplace, and a cavernous bowl of popcorn, and, realizing after all that there was indeed nothing else to do, began a ripping game of charades.

“First word,” said the ventriloquist’s dummy, which had arrived alone and which had heretofore been silent. “One syllable.”

FIN

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The Accent Is on Spec Fic: LATIN@ RISING

Latino-Rising-300As much as I hate to plug a book before it is physically in my hands (a superstitious, pessimistic git am I), Latin@ Rising is on the horizon, due out February 2017. This anthology of Latin@ speculative fiction was edited by Matthew David Goodwin, who successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund it.

The anthology features works by: Kathleen Alcalá, Pablo Brescia, Pedro Zagitt, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Daína Chaviano, ADÁL, Ana Castillo, Ernest Hogan, Junot Díaz, Richie Narvaez (er, that’s me), Edmundo Paz-Soldán, Steve Castro, Alex Hernandez, Carmen Maria Machado, Giannina Braschi, Carlos Hernandez, Alejandra Sanchez, Daniel José Older, Carl Marcum, and Marcos Santiago Gonsalez.

I mention the book now because it is available for pre-order by clicking aqui or aqui, and advanced orders and advanced word help make a book successful. And I really think this book deserves to be successful. There are some very cool and very, very good stories in here.

My own contribution is a story called “Room for Rent,” and it combines some of my favorite themes, which should be familiar to my fans (both of you—hi!). I’ll add that I was in a fairly misanthropic place when I wrote it (when am I not?), and I wanted to keep the story small and centered on a single character. FYI, Spanish speakers: There are some in-jokes in there for you.

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ROACHKILLER Goes into Overdrive

The ebook of my collection of short fiction, Roachkiller and Other Stories, is now available for loan at libraries via Overdrive. The book contains ten short stories, ranging in genre from crime to horror to speculative fiction.

Eva Dolan of Crime Factory said, “Roachkiller is an accomplished debut from an author in full and firm control of his voice. Narvaez is definitely a name to watch.”

And Amazon Customer said, “Too many bad words. DID NOT CARE FOR IT.”

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It Ain’t the Heat, It’s the Iniquity: SUNSHINE NOIR

Sunshine Noir CoverDear Fans (both of you),
I’d like to reassure you that I have not been dormant for lo these many months but have actually been scribbling away and getting stories rejected and even accepted. It is just that sometimes the Giant Hand of Publishing moves so, so, so slow. But here’s some news! I’ve a story in the out-this-very-day Sunshine Noir anthology.

The PR line goes: “In these stories, seventeen writers from around the globe tell of dark doings in sunny places.” It’s basically a wink-wink at popular Nordic Noir books, saying “Hey, what’s with all the snow?” and it features a talented cast of writers: Leye Adenle, Annamaria Alfieri, Colin Cotterill, Susan Froetschel, Jason Goodwin, Paul Hardisty, Greg Herren, Tamar Myers. Barbara Nadel, moi, Kwei Quartey, Jeffrey Siger, Michael Stanley, Nick Sweet, Timothy Williams, Robert Wilson, and Ovidia Yu. The ever-lovely Alfieri and ever-stalwart Stanley edited.

My contribution is a story called “Pale Yellow Sun” about a McGuffin gone missing in Puerto Rico (hot enough for ya?), and haughty woman who decides to get it back all by her lonesome. I could’ve written about New York City (and, boy, has this City gotten hotter every year since I was born here) or even Florida (worst sunburn of my life, screw you very much, Florida). But Puerto Rico could always use the attention, and its current troubles kept it very much in my mind. The “Pale Yellow” was inspired by the epidemic of ketamine usage on the island (the drug sometimes comes as a yellow powder). Symbolism! With the setting plus the drug plus my notion of noir, I cobbled a story. I hope you read it. I hope you like it.

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