Bobo Takes a Chance

by Lisa Martinovic

Bobo Canelli wasn’t cut out to be a hit man. But that alone didn’t explain his presence on a cattle car lurching across Siberia.

He slapped a fat mosquito feeding on his forearm. “Damn Russkie bugs!”

The other passengers ignored him and continued dozing in the hypnotic heat of summer on the plains.

Bobo wondered if he’d made a mistake, uprooting his life in the Bronx, and selling everything for a one-way ticket to Vladivostok where Annabelle Marsh had vowed to meet him for an unforgettable first date.

This was Bobo’s first stab at Internet dating.

When he told Mama Canelli of his plans she laughed. Then she slapped his face and called him a fool. Mama’s mocking cackle played in his head over and over as the train rattled over the bones of a million exiles.

When they pulled into Vladivostok, the platform was empty.

Bobo heard the train whistle go foooooooo—ooooooool!

The Inner Harbor

Arlene Fish thought she’d trimmed her own sails pretty nicely. He’s gonna loooove me, she told her reflection in the yacht club ladies room.

Keith Cummings was leery of blind dates but his buddy, Melman, promised that this young lady would be worth his time. And when he saw her saunter down the gangplank in saucy sailor girl whites, his whole body flushed.

“Arlene Fish, so pleased to meet ya.” She stuck out her hand a little too forcefully.

Flummoxed by the Jersey accent and wad of pink bubblegum, Keith leaned in a little too far to the left of her hand, lost his footing and fell into the harbor.

Having popcorned her way through a million movies, Arlene was prepared for this role. She jumped up and down squealing “Help! Man overboard! Heeeeeeeelp!”

Though he was a good swimmer, Keith had knocked his head on the gangplank and was going down without a fight.

Arlene screamed louder: “Hey, lifeguard! Somebody! Get yer asses over here!”

A spiffy gent strode down the pier and stationed himself next to Arlene.

“That Cummings there, in the drink?”

“Yeah, yeah, mister, you gotta save him!”

He looked her up and down and sniffed: “He never would have gone for you anyway.”

Thinking how much Arlene, with her mouth open like that, looked like a grouper.


The Stubbed Toe

Alex Pentland stubbed his toe on the tarmac at the Denver airport. That he managed to keep from doing a face plant meant it was a good omen.

Pacing in his penthouse at the Denver Regency, Tom Valente chain-smoked Russian cigarettes he believed made him look exotic. Prompted by a knock at the door he motioned to his bodyguard.


The bodyguard frisked Alex, who was still uncomfortable with such pleasantries.

“Mr. Valente, don’t you trust by now that I am a man of peace?”

“I trust nobody. And I stay alive.”

He waved the bodyguard outside.

Valente grabbed Alex by the collar and jerked him into his greasy, pockmarked face.

“Are you fucking crazy? None of this ‘man of peace’ crap in front of my staff. They’ll think I’m gone soft.”

“Isn’t that what I’m here to support?” Alex asked, gently as he could with a fist at his throat.

Valente released his hold and collapsed onto the leopard-print Naugahyde couch. He wept softly.

“There there,” cooed Alex, stroking the big man’s head. Gingerly, he reached for the violin that had fallen to the floor.

“It’s time for your medicine.”


The Classroom

Arabella was as light and lovely as angels dancing in a meadow. She built her estimable reputation on that very image. Posters throughout the village featured her arabesque amidst wildflowers as a doe and her fawn gaze admiringly.

Private investigator Kevin Tolhurst wasn’t buying it. He’d been hired by Arabella’s spurned lover to unmask the dancer’s winsome façade and reveal her to the world as a fraud.

Tolhurst crept around the Tudor-esque mansion that served as love nest until Arabella forced her lover to flee at knife point. He peered through a ground-level window into the cellar—alleged site of Arabella’s reform school for unrepentant lovers. But instead of the medieval torture chamber promised by his client, he saw bean bag chairs, a chalkboard, and all the trappings of an alternative elementary school in Northern California. The investigator was so stunned he didn’t hear the dainty footsteps of a dancer approaching from behind.

Tolhurst felt her warm breath on his neck as she whispered: “Oh, there’s a lot I can teach you, Mr. Tollhurst.”

The sharp tip of a steak knife skittering across his kidneys.