KIERAN SHEA’s fiction has appeared in dozens of venues including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Dogmatika, Word Riot, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Crimefactory, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir well as in some beefy-looking anthologies most of which will make you question the tether of his shiny, red balloon. To his self-deprecating astonishment he's also been nominated for the Story South’s Million Writers Award twice without sending the judges so much as a thank you note. He co-edited the satiric transgressive fiction collection D*CKED: DARK FICTION INSPIRED BY DICK CHENEY and his debut novel KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY is out now from Titan Books. Kieran divides his time between 38°58′22.6″N- 76°30′4.17″W and 39.2775° N, 74.5750° W.


Paging, Miss Davidson

Steve Weddle and Hilary Davidson cooked up a little flash fiction game for a chance to score a copy of Hilary's debut novel The Damage Done. I found out about this challenge late. While I don't necessarily need a copy of Hilary's novel (got one, thank you) I'd like to try to win a copy for my favorite public library in Ocean City, NJ. Ground rules? Neil Young and Ava Gardner have to be in the 500 word piece somehow. I was up anyway so I gave it a try.


In paint splattered clothes, Neil Young is on Late Night with David Letterman and looking like sixty-five years of hammered shit. I have the television sound on mute and work in the flat screen’s eerie glow. -

Rewinding. Playing. Stopping. Fast forwarding. Rewinding. Playing. I fear the primitive magnetic tape feeding through the heads will snap at any moment like so much shedded snake skin pulled tight, but I have to be sure. I have to have this right. My late grandfather’s voice, the dead actor’s, I have to have the truth. -

“Look. Thanks for making the trip up here today. Can I get you anything? Coffee? Orange juice? No? Have my cook pick the oranges from my trees right out there every morning. Loads of vitamins.” -

“No, thank you.” -

“Suit yourself. Have a seat.” -

(Unspecific noises of settling. A door closes?)-

“I’ve a meeting down on the lot in an hour so let’s not waste each others time bullshitting each other and such.…”-

“Agreed. It was clear or I wouldn’t be here.”-

(Pause, snowy hiss)-

“Right. So then.”-

“So. Quite frankly, it’s a lot to ask.”-

“Yes, but my friend said you’ve stepped up before. Gave me a couple of—”-

“Your friend should keep their mouth shut.”-

“Sure, sure. Of course. But, I mean, you have, haven’t you? I mean, this.”-

(Snowy silence)-

“I have.”-


“You have to understand, we’re not talking about scooping up some underage star-struck fan in the middle of the night and sticking her on the bus back to Provo.”-

“I know. God. Do have any idea how humiliating this is for me to even be--.”-

“Sir, I really don’t want to know.”-


“Yes, sir.”-

“That bitch. What about my reputation, huh? Now she’s balling that wop.”-

“It’s tricky what you’re asking though. High visibility.”-


“The eyes of, well, let’s just say things might run away from us this gets too much attention.”-

“But you can keep that from happening can’t you?”-

“Oh sure. Believe me, I like where I am, Mr. Rooney. What I’m saying here is it would have to be something simple, you know, so as not to draw suspicion or attention after the fact. Something that adds up.”-

(Pause, words not clear)-

(Laughter—my grandfather’s)-

“What’s so funny?”-

(Indecipherable, more hiss)-

“Fine. So what do you suggest?”-

“She’s a boozer, right? (Again, indecipherable) might do the trick.”-

“I have some (Indecipherable), some swish down at the studio gave them to me—”-

“No. That’s a link. And anyway those things won’t do the job.”-

“They’re powerful.”-

“Yeah. But we need street, no way to link it to you. Some stone cold barbiturates. Don’t worry, I know how to get them. Jungle up, go east side. Those club negroes. Score.”-

“Then what?”-

“S’all about figuring where and when.”-

The tape goes dead. I rewind, start over.There are hundred of tapes stored in my grandfather’s trunks. Hours of listening. I've been at it for five days now.-

Why didn’t they go through with it? A slighted Mickey Rooney plots to kill Ava Gardner? Jesus. Grandpa used to push me on the swings.-

Grandpa—the Hollywood cleaner.-