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Three Black Eyes

A collection of three stories of psychological suspense

- 1939: Set in Appalachia at the end of the depression, two sisters skip school to visit a nearby swimming hole.

- 100% Organic: A teenage boy working at a small-town grocery store takes a shipment of some unusual, and very realistic, Halloween masks.

- Noah's Rock: A man recounts a tragic incident from his childhood. 

Excerpt from '1939'

Frances and I used to play a game when we were small. One where we imagined one day waking up at different ends of the world. One of us in Paddle and the other someplace else.

 

Usually, that’d be Frances, the someplace else. She was the adventurous one. It would be somewhere like Australia or Japan or Ceylon (Frances’ favorite, she loved the way it sounded - sail-on), eating strange food like kangaroo steaks and kumquats, while I would be left behind in the log house Daddy built for us before the collapse down at Big Bend mine.

In the game, we would imagine ourselves setting out on a quest to find each other, across lands we didn’t know but from adventure books and the bounty of childish imagination. We would debate on how long it might take. Back with no help of telegrams or telephones or any of it. Back then we would wonder at how big the world beyond might be. Sometimes we’d talk on it for hours. The color and size and thousand different scents. How many souls it held and long it might take us to meet all of them, how many years we would need to live for such a search.

Now I know the answer.

I’m an old lady now. This winter I’ll turn eighty-eight. Sometimes I catch myself believing I must have met every being the world has. Even if only by sight, passing in a hallway or a furniture store, brushing shoulders at some bygone dance or in the waiting room at the dentist office or filling prescriptions at Grenard’s Drug. Even foreign folks, from places I never saw, what I know now I never shall see, in my old woman’s arrogance, I do come to think I know them from the feeble few magazines and newsreels I have read and watched. See, when you are old you can come to believe in the eternity of knowing.

 

You must.

 

Sometimes it’s just too hard to accept anything less, like how back in the summer of 1939 it never once crossed either of our minds that Frances and I might lose each other forever.

© 2019 George Alan Bradley