Free Reading

Chapter One

There are probably a million things that could send a  commuter airplane hurtling to the earth from 18,500 vertical feet. At the moment, I was consumed with only one. A thin ribbon of auburn hair lit to a campfire ember across the aisle and one seat up from me. 

Chapter One

Trying to help Eugene Garboski get comfortable around women turned out to be murder. And I was the most likely victim if my wife caught a whiff of the perfume my half-naked seat mate was rubbing all over me. Every time the front door opened my body snapped eyes right…

Learning New Songs

The first time I heard “Jerusalem Ridge,” I was in the passenger seat of Denny Sterling’s Chevy S-10 halfway to Charlottesville, Virginia. My date was wrapped in a tarp in the truck’s bed behind us. Denny’s spicy aftershave filled the cab. 

Excerpt: Unstrung

Unstrung

Artie Rane shuffled down Lake Avenue, the old pistol’s weight anchoring him within the edges of the sidewalk. He’d turned his denim collar high against blasts of surplus winter, and his thumb jacked the hammer inside his coat pocket. 

Free Short Stories

Amateur Sleuth Found Born In A Barn

I wake shivering and certain that my life has no good end. Darkness does nothing more to block the cold than the thin sheet and thinner cotton knit blanket. My death is imminent. Even at seventeen I know this.  Somehow I sleep again. An anguished wail jerks me from a...

Amateur Sleuth in the Desert, One Point One

"Desert Miles" Scene 1 A four-foot tall dust devil skipped across Main Street, stuttering for a moment between Miles Thurman and the Law. It bobbed and weaved with the expertise of a boxer. Juneau poked his damp nose at a loose candy wrapper caught in the whipping...

Amateur Sleuth in the Desert, One Point Five

"Desert Miles" Scene 1.5 Sheriff Mentz turned to grin at his new deputy. “Miles is planning a bed-and-breakfast out on the property where that kid got killed,” he said. “He thinks the Air Base is moving away. And a good chunk of Miles’s insurance business with it....

Amateur Sleuth in the Desert, Two

"Desert Miles" Scene 2 Miles plopped into the leather wing-back chair opposite his father’s desk. “Sheriff Mentz is on the warpath. He’s got Jim in jail for murdering some kid out at Konnelig’s!”  Harold Thurman was lean and balding, the roundness of his head giving...

Amateur Sleuth in the Desert, Three

"Desert Miles" Scene 3 “He hates me,” Miles told Louise Fillman. They sat in an aqua blue booth inside Buck’s Diner. Juneau sat on the outside window ledge, pressing his forlorn nose against the glass. Louise laid a wine-stained hand on Miles’s sleeve. “That’s a word...

Amateur Sleuth in the Desert, Four

"Desert Miles" Scene 4 “Don’t bother calling.” Emmeline stomped out of the kitchen. Miles found her packing a bag in their undersized bedroom.  “Unless you’re dead,” she said to the suitcase. “And certainly not if you’re in jail,” she told the dresser drawer. Emmeline...

Amateur Sleuth in the Desert, Five Point One

"Desert Miles" Scene 5.1 Miles left Juneau scrambling about in the car’s murky interior, while he crept through overgrown skeleton weed to the wide front steps of Konnelig’s place. He tiptoed up, stopping at the open doorway.  The night was cool and the moon dim....

Amateur Sleuth in the Desert, Five Point Five

"Desert Miles" Scene 5.2 “Why?” Miles attempted to shift the beam toward the sheriff, resulting in a swirling wave of dust.  “The boy was mouthing off, Miles. Talking crazy. Wouldn’t stand still.” “He was a kid!” Miles said. “I don’t understand. What’s happening?” “He...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode One

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode One There’s a heat that wraps you in its steamy wet blanket. An oppressive tropical heat. It pretends to shield you while locking you inside a cocoon of sensory depravation. The kind of heat that enflames adulterers and...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Two

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Two I stood outside the privacy screen, aching for a cigarette one of the perimeter cops sucked on, ruminating on the sensory overload of an early Okinawan morning. My decade-old decision to quit smoking felt pointless....

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Three

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Three I drove back to Kadena and my empty house. Nansi and the kids were visiting her parents in Virginia. Our household goods were packed and gone. The furniture keeping me company included a tatami mat and two plastic chairs...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Four

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Four Two women were arguing in the yard of the Bennett home. I stopped my car a block down the street. It took a minute of spying to realize my mistake.  Lori Bennett leaned into the slightly taller and thinner character until...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Five

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Five Logan and Sharon Pasfield lived on a quiet, overly lit street on Kadena Air Base in the shoe buckle of Okinawa Jima, bounded by the Philippine Sea to the southeast and the East China Sea to the west. A slipper of...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Six

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Six Headlights pinged my radar through the study window. I froze in place, processing where I'd parked my car, how many lights I’d turned on while coming through the house and my limited skill in hand-to-hand combat. For a...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Seven

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Seven My drive toward the empty house was crowded with short list items preventing me from boarding the plane. Roll up the tatami mat and sleeping bag, grab my duffel, do a hand-off with the First Shirt to keep Housing off my...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Eight

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Eight Higa directed traffic with his service weapon. “So you killed the Captain and his lover, right, boy?” Jimmy implicated himself with a hangdog drape. “He deserved it.” “What are you doing here, Master Sergeant Higa?” I...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Nine

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Nine Lori Bennett stepped through the door. I cringed, expecting a scolding over my misuse of the ornamental pillow. “Oh my God!” she screamed, running to the bedside and pushing me down. She kneeled, holding Jimmy’s head...

Hard-Boiled Amateur Sleuth, Episode Ten

Murder at the Edge of the Orient, Episode Ten The airplane’s cabin provided a comfortable warmth I hadn’t expected.  My head reeled from a combination of fear, guilt, shame and confusion ignited by the past week’s interrogation. Numbness and tingling danced a...

Your Free Gift

Running Out Of Pain is my free giveaway. Sign up to my list to receive updates on stories and future books. You’ll get your free ebook immediately. Included in the content are the three opening chapters of Murder of the Prodigal Father. A bonus inside of a bonus! Enjoy the reading.

By Mark Wm Smith

Running out of Pain

A Short Story

Running can save you… or get you killed.

From the first toke to the final joke, Abelard Rahn finds trouble that has him running from pain in more ways than one.

Poor choice in friends launches Abelard toward a crash landing into the Scioto River. Ride along as Officer Jones and Prison Guard Riley Plinters hunt Abelard through the streets of Columbus, pushing him closer and closer toward a frigid finale.

Sneak Preview Included

Inside “Running Out Of Pain”  you will find the opening chapters of Murder of the Prodigal Father. Take a peek at Connor Pierce’s hazardous search to find his estranged father’s murderer. Can he uncover the truth before he’s arrested or killed?

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Abelard Rahn is on a wild ride toward... an early death if he's not careful. 

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