Beneath the Folds

      Michael Ranes
Beneath the Folds

A collection of eight short stories themed on love, death and the boundaries between. Previously published and new unpublished stories exploring aspects of human dying from the murdered to the beautiful. The stories cover tragedy, horror, humor and poetry.A collection of eight short stories themed on love, death and the boundaries between. Previously published and new unpublished stories exploring aspects of human dying from the murdered to the beautiful. The stories cover tragedy, horror, humor and poetry. Some extracts: 'Art is not about harsh reality; it's about embellishment, hiding the truth. And eternity. Once painted a flower remains forever in bloom, a cornfield forever in sun. A woman's face forever beautiful.' 'He wasn't lying right. As he fell his right arm had twisted behind and caught underneath making him lop-sided. Sliding my surgical gloves on my hands I pulled his arms out so they spread in the usual position. Like Jesus on the cross the Standard had described a previous body, but it wasn't. These guys got nowhere near a cross. They were meat on the slab.''The boy stands and Jani's finger tightens on the trigger ready for the kill. But once upright he doesn't move, standing stock-still, arms by his sides. Jani once again trains the cross hairs on the face. The eyes are filled with defiance now, chin up. The boy slides his feet together then, slowly, lifts his arms out from his side, holds them wide and open, palms forward. A smile breaks on his face and he lifts closed eyes to the black sky. ''Daily I have visualized Cameron in front of me, tasted the saliva building in my mouth as my finger pulls the trigger. I watch him hit the ground, limbs splaying at odd angles, the plastic smile on his face, gone forever. They grab me, those around him, wrench the gun from my hand and wrestle me to the ground. I stay calm among the panic. My task done.''My name is Finn McIntyre. Finn, short for Finnegan. My eyes are different, the left one green, the right, a soft speckled brown, the color of walnut cake. From the age of twelve I read poetry and science journals and held a recorded IQ of 141 - the same as Benito Mussolini. Smart but weird, that's what kids at school used to say of me. Smart, but too goddamn weird. They only knew the half. ''When his world changed, Archie Middleman was sitting quietly on a garden bench thinking about petunias. The sun bathed his face, a breeze cooled his skin, a bird-feeder in the tree above swung gently under the force of a departing sparrow. A brief heaven for a weary gardener. As he looked up at the flight of the bird the summer sky exploded filling the air with bright vanilla light and a soft familiar two-word greeting fell like an axe through his skull.'

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