Stories... Stories of primal urges, stories of love, of hatred, of ironies and justices. This collection has stories for every reader’s tastes. Delightful, suspenseful, introspective and sometimes frightening prose for lovers of the well-crafted tale. Our first stories are recount tales of deadly demise. The opening story, “Resonance” by James Paducci, summons up the urges of a primal and violent past as a simple meal of pork chops transforms a doting husband into a ravenous beast. The next story, K. Memmel’s “Beta Group,” confronts fears of a different variety, a grown man’s phobia over all manner of dolls. In this story, ethics and phobias clash, and the titan of phobia prevails. A. H. Mittelman’s “The McMurphy Hearing” recounts travails of another sort, a man whose intermittent psychic powers fails him just when he needs them most. Death comes by suicide in Matthew Getch’s “He Walked.” After traipsing through a day of devoid of even the remotest passion, the lead character simply gives in to futility. We all make choices—sometimes the consequences of those choices haunt us and leave us wondering about what could have been. In Patricia Florio’s “Alternative Life,” the author examines a life wrecked by criminal impulses and wonders aloud about what could have been. In Timothy Gysin’s “The Little Boat That Could or Can Boats Fly?” the narrator leads us through a harrowing tale of tragedy avoided by the narrowest of margins and by unseen kindnesses of the fates. Leonard Treman’s mischievous “Teachers with Benefits” thinks about high school as it could have been. Three of our frequently contributing female writers provide us with emotionally laden stories in this collection. Patricia Crandall’s “The Bogus Man” is a classic crime story with a plot twist that makes it difficult to discern the good guys from the bad guys. Melba Pena’s “Chained Memories and Tethered Heart” movingly conveys what Nancy Reagan once referred to as the “long good-bye.” A women’s loving heart is scarred by the damage of fading memories and lost identity. While Pena provides an account of an enduring love that was lost to the ravages of old age, Terrie Hofmann’s “Chasing Rainbows” provides a saga of love initiated and of life rediscovered through love. It’s a story of hope rekindled by the generous sparks of romance. Jon Lee Lauer’s “A Halloween Dream” allows the reader to observe a lad as his waking obsession takes over his dreams, leaving him uncertain what is and is not real in his experience. Obsession also plays a leading role in “Indulgence” by Alex Poppe as Poppe pays an unusual homage to the victims of 9/11. Kathryn Pollard’s “The Dance” offers an imaginative telling of what everyday objects like a Zippo lighter could teach us about our lives and our loves. There are some choices that people should never have to make—choices like the unthinkable decision facing the father in Danny Webster’s “Daddy’s Choice.” Which of his three children will he sacrifice to save the other two? Matthew Sperber’s “Stumble Upon” confronts the reader with a different sort of choice. Will we have the courage to see ourselves and others with honesty and candor, or just with trumped-up bravo? As always, each of these short stories has won the highly competitive Phyllis Scott short story contest and we offer them to the reading public with great pride. Phyllis Scott, series editor
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