Other Stories in this issue

Short Con

by Brandon Barrows

About the Author: Brandon Barrows is the award-nominated author of the occult-noir novel This Rough Old World as well as over fifty published stories, selected of which have been collected into the books The Altar in the Hills and The Castle-Town Tragedy. He is also the writer of nearly one-hundred individual comic book issues. He is an active member of the Private Eye Writers of America. Find more at


“Why do I haveta write it out?

I heard the smack against Amber’s face before I knew my hand was moving. The stinging feeling started in my palm around the time I realized what I’d done. It was hardly the first time, but even I thought maybe it was coming too easily now.

She held her own hand to her reddening cheek and gave me a look like a wounded animal—which is kind of how I was starting to think of her, I guess. A dumb animal I had to feed and take care of and got nothing back from. There were tears in the corner of her eyes. A little tingle of guilt warmed the back of my neck, but I stomped it down flat. Amber deserved whatever she got. Always asking “why, why, why” instead of just doing like I told her. How come I had to be saddled with such a dummy for a sister?

“So it’s all nice and neat,” I told her, letting her hear the irritation in my voice. “My writing’s for shit, you know that. You want this to work or not?”

Amber nodded her head, her stringy blonde hair shaking, then falling in front of her face, like one of those old beaded curtains, hiding her eyes from me. She was trying not to let me know it hurt. That was fine. She needed to be tougher. It pissed me off when she didn’t answer out loud though.

“Well, do you?”

Story Comments

Mar 22 - Frances Dunn

The story was well written and the ending with Amber outsmarting Eli was great. However, I don't enjoy reading mysteries where there is child abuse. That part was a downer for me. But again, kudos to the writer for a well written story

Dec 18 - Brandon Barrows

Frances, just FYI, they're both adults. There are no children in the story.

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