Saturday, October 3, 2009


by Allie Dresser

Ryan Phillips stepped into the smoky cave, pushed his way past the four deep, half drunken patrons and leaned an elbow on the mahogany. One hand signaled for a beer while the other reached for the gardenia scented page in his pocket.

“Cap’n,” The bartender greeted then laid out the dark brew. “Rough day?”


“Well then it’s on me.”

It was their routine intercourse meant to circumvent the payola rumors that swirled around McKenna’s Tavern. It wasn’t the barroom brawls that caught the attention of the local press, or even the ladies of the night who frequented the establishment. It was the underground action they needed to keep on the lowdown. The fun and games that Candy got deep into just before she was killed.

Ryan brought me to the shooting gallery in the basement today. My first glock. It has such power, like a man at my beck and call.

The corner with the date was ripped off but Ryan didn’t need a Timex to recount their history. He remembered every smoky, heated moment: the way she’d slipped her hand around the steel like a silk stocking, caressing the half moon trigger with her finger; the wicked gleam in her eye as she took aim and the glassy look that said they weren’t alone in the room; the gangrene that ate at him because someone else inspired that passion in her.

It wasn’t my first time but I let him think it was. I’ve shot a gun and meant it twice before. My aim isn’t so bad.

That’s how Ryan had come to be in Candy’s life. A rabid call as the sun was just chasing away the shadows of night. She’d sworn it wasn’t her that pulled the trigger.

Ryan saw me slip a small pearl handled one into my garter but he let me take it. He probably thought he’d have access to it later. I didn’t tell him I was heading to Mickey’s.

Captain Phillips shoved the diary page back into his pocket, loathe to read further though the ink was burned on his irises. He knew he should return it to the evidence file, but he couldn’t chance being connected to her in such an intimate way. Not after what had gone down.

[The first original Candy Sangria story written by an outsider. A million thanks to author Allie Dresser for taking part in this. The Sad, Sad Tale of Candy Sangria continues....]

Saturday, August 29, 2009


(for Janeen)

He said, “I ask, my darling, that you look through what you see, through this salt-silvered shell, what I have and what I've been, and peer as deep as down into my heart. It’s open here for you. It is yours for the taking.”

Helen served and cleared at a seafood stand in Mystic. Billy Rydall stopped there with his sister, Jill. Every summer, since they were young, the pair had vacationed together. It was Jill’s turn to pick the destination and she chose Mystic after seeing it in on TV. They went to the seaport, the village and then the aquarium, they rode the ferry and shopped downtown. The day before they were scheduled to leave, Jill said she wanted to try fried clams. They went to a roadside grill on the bank of Davis Cove. Helen brought their order—clams, fries and chocolate shakes. Billy fell in love and introduced himself as William.

He said, “If you’d only let me, I would melt around your feet, a pedestal for your beauty.”

She was wonderful, but tired--so damned tired. Trouble seemed to have worn her down. But he was crazy and cute and acted like a gentleman and Helen didn’t have anyone else. She accompanied them back to his home in Florida. Two months later, they were wed. Billy gave her what he could and promised her the rest, but it only left her wanting and it wasn’t her fault.

She stopped talking altogether. Her days ran into nights. She disappeared with people that no one had seen before. She locked herself away, one afternoon, in the study. Billy wanted to see her and hold her and help. He went to the shed for an 8lb. sledge, ignoring the look his pool man gave, but, when he returned, the door was open, and Helen, his own true love, was gone.

She said, “Hello? Billy? Hi, it’s me. Yeah. I know…Look, I’m sorry and I hate to call you like this, but I’m afraid I’ve gotten into it…There’s a bad, awful man who wants me for himself. Not like you. In a bad, bad way…I have something of yours that I’ve kept from you. The only thing that I ever wanted. It’s a boy, sweet William. A handsome boy. And he’s so much like you it’s like having you here…I had him, once, but now I don’t. He’s gone from me. Forever, I think…See, the bad man came and took him away. He pulled that boy right out of my hands. ..God, he talks like you in that sweet, crazy way and he combs his hair with a part in the side and I’m scared to death and I want him back and I just don’t know what I would do without him….”

She was found in the street the next morning. A detective from the Florida Highway called. The policeman expressed his condolences and they set up a day for him to come to the house.

Billy Rydal summoned two of his most trustworthy ranch hands, gave them each a million dollars and a name. They did things to the kidnapper that caused one of them to lose his mind. The bad man had poisoned Helen’s Sangria. It had always been her favorite drink. They found what was left of him floating in a tub of it.

Billy said things that he didn’t want to say, that he’d been taught to never say about a woman. Then he gave that up and went to their room and cried into a sweater she’d left behind.

He said, “I know you don’t know me and have never met me, but, as luck would have it, I’m your father, son. Your mother had to leave, but she asked me to mind you. Have a look around. What’s mine is yours. She didn’t love me like I loved her, but hearts are something that can’t be helped. Once, I believe, she needed me, and that will have to be enough.”

[A slightly different version of this story was originally published in Shoots & Vines Issue #3.]

Saturday, July 4, 2009


(For J.)

The first detective on scene was Pietr Frenk. Frenk was from some country where they spell their names that way. He’d been at home, eating two-day-old pizza and watching a DVD that Kim Jong-Il would be ashamed to own, when he got the call. It was his day off, but they were short-handed. Please, Frenk. Please. I’m not asking…

When his partner, a rookie called “Jonny Blonde,” arrived, Frenk was standing over the body. She was outside a pool hall called Rosie’s. Frenk didn’t even bother to look up.

Blonde whistled to himself. “Who’s that?” he asked.

“That was Candy,” Frenk said.

“Of course.”

“Candy Sangria.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I never kid,” Frenk said. “Don’t you recognize her?”

“From the Police Log?”

“From the cover of the National Enquirer, People, the Weekly World News…”

“Doesn’t ring a bell.”

“Her real name was Helen something. Wife of wrinkled old money down in Florida. Got tired of hosting cocktail parties on the sundeck, waiting for him to kindly die and leave her everything. Took it on the road.”

Blonde shook his head, moving in for a closer look. The deceased was in the gutter, curled up like a child, back to the sidewalk. Her eyes were open. There was a pool of red liquid—almost blood-colored, but obviously not blood—drying around her.

“She vanished a couple years ago,” Frenk said. “When they finally caught up with her, she made it pretty clear she didn’t want to be found.”

“What do you think happened?”

“I think she had too much to drink, stumbled out of the bar, fell down and puked her way into the next life.”

Blonde looked up from the body. “You should write greeting cards,” he said.

# # #

Back at the station, Frenk wondered, out loud, why he was investigating a stripper who had choked to death on her own vomit. The lieutenant said he’d received a phone call telling him that wasn’t the case. Since Frenk was already there, he decided to soak the department for some overtime. He took a bag of potato chips from his desk, kicked his feet up and started flipping through the channels of the TV mounted in the corner.

The Lieutenant peeked in. “Go ask some questions,” he said.

“I can give you all the answers you want right now.”

“Make an effort, would you? She was a human being.”

“That kind of stuff doesn’t work on me,” Frenk said.

“How’s this?” the Lieutenant said. “From now on, starting this instant, you get every stolen bicycle case in Navy Housing…”

The Lieutenant took the remote and bag of chips from him as he squeezed by.

“Bastard,” Frenk said.

“Got any dip?” the Lieutenant asked.

# # #

He found Jonny Blonde in the weight room. “Take a shower,” Frenk said, “put on a lot of deodorant, put on some clothes and meet me downstairs. We’re taking the Grape.” The Grape was a purple undercover Buick that could outrun patrol cars.

Blonde dug his fingers into whatever was available on the way over. They got there in about ninety seconds. Frenk parked around the corner from the pool hall to keep from scaring people away. Although the gutter had been hosed down, the curb was still red.

They split up and started banging on doors. Everyone, it seemed, knew Candy and gee, wasn’t it sad, but as far as helping out, nobody knew anything. Just as they were about to pack it in, Frenk spotted a woman called Meg nearby. He was sure he’d seen her with Candy before.

“Give me something,” Frenk said.

“Hi, Pete. How ya doin?” Meg asked.

“Better than you, from the looks of it.”


“You knew Candy,” Frenk said. “I know you knew her. People are saying this wasn’t an accident.”

“It wasn’t.”

“How do you know?”

“It’s not really about her,” Meg said. “It’s about the kid.”

“What kid?” Frenk asked, but she was already dancing away.

“That’s all I can tell you,” she hollered back.

# # #

In the car, Blonde asked if he’d had any luck.

“Never in my life,” Frenk said. “Let’s get something to eat.”

Not getting leads had taken up most of the day. They went to Bridey’s All-Night on Church Street. Frenk was midway through a triple bacon-cheeseburger, Blonde through a salad with lemon juice, when Blonde’s cellphone rang.

“Yeah,” Blonde said. “He’s right here.”

He handed the cell to Frenk, who refused to own one himself. “You’re shitting me,” Frenk said.

“What?” Blonde asked.

“They didn’t even have time to cut her open yet,” Frenk said. “All right, all right.” He bounced the phone, with the Lieutenant’s voice still coming through it, across the table to Blonde. “Hang up,” he said. “She was poisoned. There’s somebody we need to find.”

# # #

Meg’s boyfriend was a death’s door addict named Louis. Frenk made a protesting Blonde wait outside the hotel room. After Frenk showed Louis the bag, Louis’ mouth wouldn’t shut.

Here’s what mattered…

Candy had been pregnant when she split. She wanted out, now that the kid was getting older, but her pimp wouldn’t let her. He kidnapped her son. Last night, she’d called her husband from Louis’ hotel room. Today, she was dead.

“Who’s the pimp?”

Louis swallowed.

Frenk jiggled the bag at him.

# # #

They found traces of the kid at the pimp’s apartment, but no kid. What they did find was the kidnapper drowned in a bathtub full of Sangria. Drowning was the nicest thing that had happened to him.

Frenk called a buddy on the Florida Highway Patrol. He was genuinely sick over the kid. Florida questioned the old man, but nothing ever came of it.

A few months later, Frenk got an envelope in the mail. Inside was the photo of a healthy-looking boy at a picnic table, outside a mansion, with palm trees, sand and rippling water behind him.

["Candy Sangria" originally appeared, in slightly different form, at Powder Burn Flash.]

Friday, July 3, 2009


Mary Ann McBride, Staff Writer, Wellesport Daily Record--June 8, 2009

"Southern Belle's fall from grace through the nightmarish underworld of strip clubs, fruity drinks and rock-n-roll ends tragically with the discovery of her body in a pool of 'burnt red' liquid early this morning. Candy Sangria, as she was known to clientelle..."

[Originally appeared on the Facebook wall of J.D.C. (source protected), same date as above.]