Thursday, February 18, 2021

Sty Wardlow, A short-short story blog post #486

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Last week, I mentioned that my son Clai’s ashes were to be delivered Wednesday of that week. I was out when they tried to deliver the package so I had to go to the post office to claim it. I thought I was mentally prepared, and handled it all right… until I walked from the car to my apartment and realized I was carrying my adult son in my arms just as I did when he was an infant. Have to admit, that got to me some. But enough of that.

 Hope you enjoyed a look at The Cutie-Pie Murders last week Am anxious for the novel to be out. But today, I want to give you another short story. In some quarters “Sty Wardlow” would be considered flash fiction, although it runs more than the 500 words some people use as a measure. At any rate, I hope you enjoy the tale.



Sty Wardlow—birth name, Stanley, and actual nickname, Pig Sty—was usually as neat as a pin and as clean as a recently laundered T-shirt. He didn’t come by his nickname from slovenly habits; he earned it because of where his mind dwelt. Or so his peers claimed. Only eighteen, he was sex obsessed. He’d never had any, but he rarely thought about anything else. He looked at a banana and saw a penis. A grapefruit and observed a ripe breast. A…. well, you get the idea.

So he was floored one day when he spotted an unfamiliar face moving down the hall between classes amid a flood of other students. Tall for a girl, but it was the most beautiful face he’d ever seen. Way better than Libby Sneldon, Drake High’s football queen, prom queen, and everything else that had a queen. Wonder if the new chick had a figure like Libby’s. Sty hadn’t been able to see anything through the crowd of moving, chattering students except that beautiful face and a head of black, black hair. Neither short nor long. He earned irritated mutters when he came to a stop and turned around to watch that magnificent mane of hair disappear around the corner. His body reacted in a way that made him think of a banana.

Sty got the shock of his life when he reported for tennis that afternoon. He spotted the same face atop a slender but muscled male form. He tried to keep from staring as he shook hands with the new guy in school named Ransom Wellerby. The guy had a prominent Adam’s apple, so he was definitely a dude.

“Call me Ran,” the stranger said. His shake was firm. Not crushing and not a dishrag… just right.

He’d bet anything they called this guy Handsome Ransom at his last school. Smart. Cut it down to “Ran” straight off the bat.

“You wanna hit the court for a set of singles?” the new boy asked in a voice that registered somewhere between a baritone and a bass.

“Why not?” Sty answered, deepening his voice somewhat.

Maybe he was distracted or maybe Ran was a better player than he was, but whatever the cause, the new kid whipped him four ways to Sunday… six games straight.

“Okay, I surrender,” Sty said, after Ran put away the final shot of the set. “You’re better than I am.”

“Not really,” Ran said.

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve seen that look before.”


“I’m an air force brat. We’ve moved around a lot. First time somebody sees me, they get discombobulated. Doesn’t take long for that to wear off.”

“Discombobulated by what?” Sty asked.

“They look at my face and figure I ought to be a girl. We get on the court, and they find out I’m not. Am I right?”

“No… yes. Well, maybe. I gotta admit you’re one good-looking dude. I could probably squint my eyes and see you as a chick.”

“Except I’m not.” Ran halted on their way to the boy’s locker. “Sty. What is that? Short for Stuyvesant? I heard your name was Wardlow.”

“It is. Sty’s a nickname.”

“For what?”

“Long story.”

“I got time. This was my last class.”

“Okay,” Sty said, his ears flaming. “It’s short for Pig Sty.”

Ran’s chocolate brown eyes scanned his frame. “Look clean enough to me. A little sweaty, but who isn’t after six hard-fought games of tennis.”

“It… It’s not my appearance. It’s well…. It’s just that I think about sex a lot, so the girls started calling me Pig Sty. It stuck. Hell, even my folks call me Sty now, even though they don’t know exactly why.”

Ran laughed, sending chills up Sty’s back. The image of a banana popped into his head.

“That’s rich,” Ran said, moving on toward the locker room. He shot Sty a hooded look. “Sex, huh? Who doesn’t think about it? But I guess it’s the doing of it that counts, right?”

Sty figured his ears would have lighted the darkest corner of the blackest closet. “Yeah. Right.”

“You ever done it?”

“Uh….” His whole face burned.

“You haven’t have you?”

“Guess not.”

“Guess not? Don’t you know?”

“Well, of course I know. And the answer is no.”

Ran halted and looked straight into Sty’s eyes. “You’re one good-looking dude too. Wanna try it?”


Apparently the new boy at Drake High doesn’t fool around. Well, it looks as though he “fools around” okay, and he does it on an accelerated basis. Any thoughts on whether Sty took him up on his offer or not. I have my own ideas about it… but wouldn’t want them influencing your own.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 Now a link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The Cutie-Pie Murders blog post #485


Thanks to my readers for giving me a pass last Thursday, and thanks to Mark Wildyr for guest posting that day. Can’t say that I’ve recovered from the death of my older son Clai as yet,, but at least I’m functioning… sort of. I preparing this coming blog post on Tuesday night because my son’s “cremains” are arriving tomorrow, and I’m sure that will occasion something emotional, although I have no idea what that will be Nonetheless, wanted to get the post set up just in case.


Dreamspinner Prtess has advised of a publication date for the seventh BJ Vinson mystery of April 2021. They likely gave me the exact day, but it eludes me at the moment. At any rate, I wanted to show you the cover and give you some more of the book Those who read my earlier blogs on the book will recall that BJ and his companion Paul have been drawn into the investigation of the death of a handsome young man who was found naked and strangled on Albuquerue’s West Mesa. It appears the youth was a novice call boy who made a date with the wrong individual.


In the scene that follows, BJ is questioning Ma Flanagan, the longtime owner and operator of an old fashioned telephone service. Ma knew BJ’s parents, which makes her a little hard to handle.




Ma Flanagan gave me a motherly look through her rimless granny glasses, and for a moment I thought she was going to say “tsk-tsk.” We sat in the tiny office of her small house on Roma NW. So far as I knew, she’d lived there for most of her seventy years.

“Now, BJ, you know I can’t divulge such information. My business is built on confidentiality… as is yours, I’m sure. My goodness, I can’t get over how much you look like your mother. She was a beautiful soul, as well as an attractive woman.”

“That she was, Ma.” Ernestine Flanagan insisted everyone call her Ma. “But the owner of the account I’m asking about is dead. Brutally murdered, and I’m trying to find out who killed him.”

“Like those two delightful APD detectives I talked to. They made an attractive couple.”

“You do realize they’re a professional couple, not a romantic one.”

“Are they married? To other people, I mean?”

“Not so far as I know.”

“Well, you just wait. They’ll wake up to the fact they’re compatible… quite compatible.”

“Maybe, but I need—”

“Yes, I know. You always were such an impatient young man. Always in a hurry. Take it from someone who knows, one day you’ll discover how much you missed in your rush through life.”

“Yes, ma’am, I probably will.” Like the time I’m wasting now. “But at the moment, I’m trying to catch a killer. Someone who’s murdered three young men and deprived them of the rest of their lives.”

A hand flew to her chest. “Three? Oh my goodness. That’s why the nice detective couple asked if I had accounts for those other two names.”

“Did you?”

She hesitated a beat before revealing how sharp she really was. “No, just for young Mr. Zapata. I had nothing for Mr. Greene or Mr. Hubbard.”

“So explain to me how Mr. Zapata’s account worked. Let’s say I wanted to leave a message for him. Would I need to give you my name?”

“Perhaps. Perhaps not. Most people identify themselves, but not all. Some merely leave a message for Mr. Zapata to return a call to a certain phone number. So my operators take down the number and leave a message on the client’s personal voicemail or forward a text to Mr. Zapata’s telephone.”

“Is it always a request for a phone number?”

“Sometimes it’s to confirm a meeting time and place.”

“So I could merely call and leave a certain hour and a specific address.”

She nodded her head without dislodging a single strand of gray hair held in a bun by a huge tortoiseshell comb. “Exactly.”

“But would I have to leave my name and phone number?”

“Most do, but sometimes prior arrangements have been made, and the pertinent information is all that is given.” She smiled and shook her head. “And I can see your father in you too. Robert was as handsome as Frances was beautiful. You have good genes, BJ.”

“Thank you. Do you—”

“What a tragedy. How long have they been gone now?”

“January 2003. Do—”

“Nine years now. Seems like yesterday I heard the news about their automobile accident.”

“Ma, I’m taking up too much of your valuable time. I have a couple more questions and then—”

“Oh pshaw. My operators handle most of the calls. Did you know I have a male operator now? Can you believe it? First time in forty years, but you can’t discriminate, you know. Name’s Robert, like your father. Such a nice young man.”

My skin crawled, but I kept at it, refusing to believe Ernestine Flanagan was going dotty. This was her way of evading my questions.

“Ernestine, cut out the old lady act, and let’s get down to business.”

“Why, Burleigh J. Vinson, I can’t believe you were so rude to me.” The words were prim, but there was a smile hiding in the pastel-blue eyes. “Your mother would give you a smack on the back of the hand.”

“You may do so in her stead, but, Ma, this is serious. Someone is murdering handsome young men after—” I fought for an acceptable word. “—debauching them.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so? What do you want to know?”

“Are there recordings of the calls?”

“Goodness, no!” She apparently rethought her vehement answer. “It’s not like in the old days, BJ. Now you can call me on my cell and leave me a message. When I opened this business, there was no such convenience. And when it came along, I had to adjust my way of doing things to stay in business. Most of my clients are medics or medical services who need a human to discern what is an emergency and what is not.” She paused again. “In order to survive, I had to accept other customers. I’m certain some of my clients arrange trysts, for example.”

“Why not use email or Skype or something similar?”

“Do you know what I believe it comes down to?”

I shook my head.

“The authorities are watching for that sort of thing on the internet because it’s become so prevalent. My clients want to be a bit more discreet.”

“Okay, you don’t record the calls. Do you log them?”

“Oh yes. Otherwise I couldn’t bill my clients. You see, they get a certain amount of traffic for a blanket fee, but—”

I held up a hand. “I understand. May I have a copy of the log for Mateo Zapata’s account? And the three text messages?” I saw her internal battle and added, “The police already have them.”

She surrendered gracefully. “Do you want a copy of the calls and texts that came in after the young man died?”

My eyes widened involuntarily. “Absolutely. How many were there?”

“If memory serves, three more phone calls and one text message. I see no reason why you shouldn’t have the information.” Her eyes sharpened. “Providing you can tell me who engaged your services.”

She probably thought she had me over a barrel, but I fooled her. “The family engaged me, Ma. They want me to help APD catch their son’s killer. And I’ve okayed this with Homicide and the two detectives you mentioned.”

I knew how much I’d been played when she picked up a slender file folder from her desk and handed it over. “Here are your copies.”


I hope this piques your interest in the book. I had fun writing it.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 Here's a link to the new book:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Douche Bag blog post #484

 Photo courtesy of

On January 22, the older of my two sons died in a Texas hospital. He was admitted on the 7th of that month suffering from colitis. Although he’d had heart trouble over the past two or three years, I initially had no clue that his condition was serious. But as time went on, his organs began to fail until they could no longer sustain life. On the afternoon of his death, the nurse put the phone to his ear and I was able to say goodbye and tell him I loved him. Not long after that, he passed. Needless to say, I sort of fell apart and am not yet fully collected.


As a result of this, my Oklahoma writing buddy, Mark Wildyr agreed to let me guest post the same short story he’s posting on his own website ( this very day. Thank you, Mark, for coming to my rescue.



By Mark Wildyr

I managed to snag a summer job back home after my freshman year at Eastern New Mexico University. Lucky, gainful employment was hard to come by in this uncertain economy. Not only that, but my hometown can’t even claim 10,000 residents, every one of them scratching for a living.

Anyway, when I hired on as one of the remodel crews for Westerton’s Home Repair, I considered myself lucky. I might have liked a semi-blue-collar job, say like working in the mailroom at city hall or delivering for the local florist, but, hey, you gotta take what’s available, right?

I’m not a rough-and-tumble guy, but I figured I could hold my own with a blue-collar crew. My old man was one for years, but then, I’m not my old man. In fact, I spent more time with my mom and grandmother than any of the male members of my family. Truth be told, I’ figured out I was gay this past fall when I got involved with my first semester roommate. Can’t tell you how liberating that was. But now I’m back in this little town with a mindset of the 1940s, requiring me to go back into the closet. Wasn’t hard to do. Been doing it all my life, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

On my first day, the boss assigned me to Walsack’s crew. Julius Walsack was about as broad as he was tall, but it wasn’t fat. Overdeveloped muscles… but definitely not fat. I’d known him before I went off to college in the vague way a guy knows everyone in a small town. He had a rep for spending his days doing hard manual labor and devoting his evenings to doing hard physical exercise in the town’s one gym. About five years older than my nineteen years, he’d been somebody to say hi to when our paths crossed. Looking back, I realized that he’d scared me, or at least intimidated me with his he-man bluster. Now he was my immediate boss.

The other two members of our crew were older men I knew the same way I knew Walsack, they were faces I could put a name to. They were an amiable bunch, and I knew my way around a hammer and saw, so I fitted in right from the start. Or thought I did.

The second day, Walsack walked up to me as I was fashioning a spline miter joint for a box window and sent me to the hardware store to pick up an order. As I started up, he slapped me on the butt.

“And put a hurry on it. It’s got some stuff I need,” he yelled while tossing the keys to his pickup at me.

I caught them and hurried to the company’s truck, swiping sawdust off the rear of my jeans as I went.

Later the same day, he came up to inspect the work I was doing and stood so close his thigh lightly brushed where he’d left his handprint. I moved to the other side of the saw table and watched his eyes as he studied what I’d been doing. He suggested a small change which made sense before walking back to whatever he’d been doing.

The next day, I was hanging a curtain rod in one of the bedroom’s closets when he sauntered in to see how I was doing. While one hand tested the rod, another came to rest on my ass. I was sorta penned in, so I just brushed his hand away. He agreed I was doing a good job, and went back to his own work. Maybe I wasn’t as far in that other “closet” as I thought.

For the rest of the week, it was something every day. Once, he slipped past me in tight confines and rubbed his fly across my butt. He paused just a second, not noticeable to the others, but it definitely was to me. A couple of times when he came to make suggestions or inspect something I was cutting on the saw, his eyes weren’t on the work. They were on my crotch.

Long before the end of the work week rolled around, I considered quitting. But this was as decent-paying a job as I was going to find. Maybe I could ask for a new assignment. Of course, I’d have to come up with a reason for the request. At the end of shift Friday, he informed me that most of the guys gathered at a local bar downtown to celebrate.

“But I’m not twenty-one yet,” I replied.

“Aw, you come on. I’ll get you in.”

But he didn’t. The bouncer turned me away after eyeing my driver’s license. I glanced at Walsack, who shrugged.

“Hey, I figured every college kid had a phony ID. Too bad.”

As I turned away, he laid a hand on my arm. “I’ll get a couple of six packs, and we’ll go to my place.”

I pulled free and started walking toward my car. “No thanks. I’m tired.”


The weekend was unsettling. Most of my high school buddies had moved on, and I wasn’t interested in trying to find a date. Most of my time was spent puzzling over how to handle Walsack and thinking about my former roommate. I missed him; and I missed what we’d done. Sure wasn’t anyone in this little berg I could do that with. Except maybe Walsack. The thought made my skin crawl.

Why? He wasn’t a bad-looking dude. Sure was built. Like a brick shit house, as they say. But he was so damned… macho was the word that came to mind. Aggressively so. Wasn’t my type. I had a type? Must have because he sure wasn’t it.

I went to work Monday with my tail dragging. Not a week before, I’d been excited and anxious. Now I was dreading it. My mood must have showed, because the others on my crew-except for Walsack—asked if I was okay. He just beamed at me like a fox spotting a hen.

We’d finished last week’s job and were working at a new house. My assignment was to install paneling in the two-car garage. That meant I mostly worked alone since the rest of the guys were remodeling the kitchen. A solo job was okay by me, but it meant Walsack checked on me more often than usual.

The first couple of times were okay. He pointed out a couple of things I needed to correct and gave me some tips that made the job easier. Then he started in with his tricks. Standing too close. Putting his hand on my arm. As the afternoon went on, he grew bolder. Once, he reached over me to point to something, and his groin pressed right up against my butt. I froze, and after saying something I don’t even remember, moved away. I turned in time to see him adjust himself.

The dude’s turned on!

Just before quitting time, he delivered the clincher. I didn’t even hear him enter the garage, but I heard the door close behind him. I ignored Walsack until he was standing behind me… too close, as usual. My mouth was open to say something when he leaned into me.


I started to move away, but his hand snaked around me and grabbed a handful. I twisted away and ended up in the middle of the garage with my fists curled.

Walsack faced me, laughing. “What’s the matter, kid?”

“Don’t ever touch me like that again!”

He shrugged. “Why not, you’re gay aren’t you?”

“What of it?”

“So you oughta like a real man feeling you up.”

“Is that what you are? A man?”

“One hundred percent New Mexico beefcake. A queer like you oughta be lappin’ up what I’m offering.”

“Tell me something, Walsack. If you’re such a man, why’re you even interested.”

His chest swelled. “I’m a man, all right. But a little change now and then don’t hurt. You oughta be flattered I find your ass kinda fetching.”

“If you’re such a man, that means you screw women, right?”

A smile played on his lips. “Ever chance I get.”

“So do you go feeling them up all the time.

Walsack scowled. “N-not all the time.”

“Why not?”

“Hell a man doesn’t make a play for every woman he meets. You know the old saying. Some will, some won’t.”

“According to that logic, you oughta feel them all up to see which ones will.”

“Hell, can’t do that.”

“How come?”

“They’d, I dunno, think I was a douche bag or something.”

I smiled. “There you go. Got it right the very first time.”



I believe this short story addresses a truism… far too many people, upon discovering someone is gay, automatically assumes he or she will go to bed with anyone who’s willing. Not so in most cases, as gays are looking for special people and commitments and possibly marriage, just as hetro’s do. Of course, some sleep around… just as some hetros do.

Good job, Mark. And thanks again for your help.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

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