A Rain of Frogs ~ The tales of onetinleg.com (free reads)

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The Ninepatch Variation―the 1st tale of the Libby the Quilter quintet
Libby Pease remembers her girlhood as a litany of lost callers. Now a visitor: William Powell has misplaced Myrna Loy.
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The Red Sneaker Zones―the 2nd tale of the Libby the Quilter quintet
Libby Pease accepts having her own personal shaman as an article of faith, which faith she could not tell. The dead Indian smells rank, but not unpleasantly so―fresh earth clinging to over-wintering vegetables, plug-cut tobacco and molasses.
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Chimaera Constant―the 3rd tale of the Libby the Quilter quintet
“Sweet Jesus!” Libby Pease has—for just a moment, a split second—the queer idea that there is an eyeball in her teacup. “Uh... hello, eye.” The eye does not speak. She takes a swallow of Dr. Pomeroy’s straight from the bottle and shakes her head to clear it. She squints; the eye in her teacup squints back—it is her mother’s eye.
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Blue (as in an Early Frost)―the 4th tale of the Libby the Quilter quintet
The closed library smells of cluster flies, old books, hardly strange in a library, and an indefinable something―funerary linen from some millennial boneyard, perhaps. Elizabeth Profitt Pease strains to open the window. Shut. Tight. “What have I done for myself lately?” Libby Pease asks no one in particular. “Not much,” she answers, “have I?” Libby regards the pottery jar that contains her father’s ashes.
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Grasshopper Dreams―the 5th tale of the Libby the Quilter quintet
“Oh, the poor, dear man,” said Dicey Pease. As they undid the corpse’s nightshirt, a smell issued forth. Noses were crinkled, then relaxed. “The Milos,” said Libby’s mother. Pansy Graham’s sanitary habits had been well-defined. In death as in life he was preceded by a not unpleasant smell which Dicey identified as the yellow bar soap provided by the Daughters of Milo.
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Saint Velcro™ and the Swan
It had been, by the saint’s count, a thousand years or more since the last tour passed through—Attila and his Hunnic Horde, their hardy ponies pulling an endless cavalcade of Airstream trailers that stretched to the sunrise.
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The Illuminati Owe Carl 57 Cents
The day the Illuminati—secret, sinister—reentered my life Harold Junior pulled up in his rusted-out Lincoln Continental as I was checking my mail. Our mailboxes, down by the road, do double duty as street addresses too, here in rural Maine. Harold’s huge domestic battle cruiser had been bought cheap and came with a titanic appetite for gas and oil. But it never had to go far, only start. And it plowed through drifts that would stall a Jeep.
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The Queen’s Head
The heart-breaking beauty—the original of the flesh and blood face with the moondrop eyes—resided, a carved and painted sandstone effigy, in the Bureau of Antiquities, the face of an ancient queen. The Sender of Dreams had sent him either a true dream or a false dream. It was for him to find out which.
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Mark Twain in Milan
A woman popped out of thin air beside me. She was swinging a serious looking cavalry saber; she gave me the once-over and attacked. I ducked. Her pale gray eyes grew huge. “Oh, terribly sorry, old chap. I thought you were someone else,” she said. “Are you still alive?” I said yes. “I say, good fun, what?” she remarked. A bullet zinged past and we dived under the desk.
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Magnetic Betty
Magnetic Betty explained the problem. “And so you see, things fly through the air and stick to me when I walk by. None of my friends’ mothers will let them play with me.” “A tricky business,” replied Dolby Jenks, World’s Number One Champion Detective. “Not my field, I’m afraid, Betty. I would suggest that you find different friends with different mothers.”
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The Beewolf
A tall insect with feathery antennae and a nervous tic paused before the mirror of a machine plastered with multicolored blurbs announcing it as a dispenser of a popular brand of chewing gum. The walking nightmare spoke to his human companion. “Harry, you wait with the bags, there’s a good fellow.” Evenly modulated tones carried the force of a command.
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The Diplodocus Effect
I covered my eyes. The face on the phone was cloaked in a halo of light, an iridescent gold and blue lapis mosaic. “You are very bright,” I said.
“Transcendence. You’ll get used to it,” said Teaberry Balcom. “I have taken this appearance lest you be stricken blind by my radiance.”
“Hold on a minute. You’re pretty much like a god, right? Then how come you have to use FedEx to deliver your miracles?”
“Competitive bidding.”
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The Tirewoman Gabriel
Twice a year and regular as clockwork, when Barbara’s School of the Dance trots in the latest corps of majorettes and ballerinas, the classic backdrop―Mediterranean hillsides with Raphaelite shepherds and shepherdesses discreetly about their distant businesses―was always requested. In addition to shepherdesses on their backs in the grass under fluffy clouds, there is a backdrop of a convent garden at dusk. Giant bumblebees prowl thick wisteria, vines knot to frame a lovers’ bower. Before the foreground, hogging the floor, lies a toppled faun, his lips curled in a sneer of passion. I could not bear to throw the stuff out. Some day someone would want to be immortalized with a leering, panting satyr.
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The Missingest Man in America
“I am Joseph Force Crater; I am a judge of the New York State Supreme Court. I am not the Adversary. Your chastity is safe with me; I am a Democrat.” ―The Miracles and Death of Judge Joseph Force Crater and His Questionable Resurrection, excerpted from Midwife in the Tire Swing, a novel in progress.
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Cherokee Purple
Thelma Wagstaff blew herself away as she sat on her high red upholstered stool supervising the cash box at the White Street Billiards and Snooker. Thelma hit the floor like she had fallen out of an airplane, no parachute, and her pistol went bouncing toward Ed Seitz and me. Ed and I were absorbed in the cushion shot he was negotiating. We did not look up; there was a fiver riding on Ed’s shot.
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The Moose in the Noösphere
The man, an Algonquian, met the moose head on on a springy forest trail. The moose had come that day to drop his antlers and wanted to be alone. It had been an open winter, roots and lichens dying off for lack of snow cover. With bad foraging the moose was tired and irritable. The moose had dropped antlers before and anticipated the loss with regret. His antlers amplified the fall of snow, the separation of a dry leaf from its stem, the impact of a pine needle on the padded forest floor. To go antlerless was to imitate the solitude of starvation and withdraw into himself as into a heavy, windless snowfall.
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The Last Teddy Bear
“Where is the bear when the bear is not where the bear should be?” asked Frankie Jelinek’s husband with sweet reasonableness. “Ever think about that?”
“No,” said Frankie, “I don’t. Wherever teddy bears go. Maybe a picnic.” Steve gave his wife a sleepy kiss and rolled over. Supernatural phenomena were not in the baby care books. Yet...
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The Francher
An odor of mint attracted the francher to an unpromising patch of brown scrub. It spread its fetlocks, a legacy of embedded Przewalski horse genes, and arched its neck down to feed. It munched contentedly for some minutes then collapsed. The francher’s nostrils flared as it gulped at the thin unsatisfying air. Wide speckled eyes bulged; oval pupils stared. An Andean vulture circled closer.
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The Year They Invented Frozen Lemonade
“I am midtown. Manhattan?” Linda Winkelman speaks her question out loud in the middle of the rush hour push; no one takes notice. Linda is standing in the middle of a street. She can not recall who she is or why she is here. “I remember lemonade,” says Linda. Buildings disappeared, people disappeared. Now it is her turn. Linda Winkelman was born the year they invented frozen lemonade.
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Scope Virgin
The woman at the far end of the kaleidoscope had not been there last week, of this Simon was sure. She was naked or near enough, thinly dressed in a diaphanous veil. “Holy shit!” Simon Alexander breathed on the lens and gave it a wipe with his sleeve. “I see that I have your attention...” said the woman, “...finally.”
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McMuckle Makes a Minyan
The ineffable, unnamable God of Hosts stood with a burly, bearded personage who held a bar towel draped over one arm, a symbol of his trade. The golem toyed nervously with an ear. “My people should quake at My unutterable Name, not fall on their tukhes,” God sighed. The ear came off. “Bim... this is not about you. Try to stay on topic.”
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Platterland
It was a real nice laying-out—tasteful. Well, maybe not so much tasteful particularly, but neat. They’d got Ed’s left arm attached to his head and not his shoulder. And they had the remaining right arm attached on the left side. To look like them, I supposed.
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Daphne Longhandle’s Last Flight
“See that, Franklin?” said Eleanor Roosevelt. “That’s O’Brien.” Franklin observed a line of stars on the eastern horizon. There were four. “Oops, sorry.” Eleanor nodded at her new constellation, O’Brien, and the fourth star blinked out.
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The Song of the Rice Barge Coolie
“My sister, is she dead? Go and give her a poke, would you?” The great white presence that was the Lady Mother of the Long Walkers indicated the row of captive queens on their dais beneath her, deferentially lower.
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The Runaway Bungalow
“Arrgh! See me neck, lad?” The pirate’s head hung at a grotesque angle from where the long executioner’s knot had settled at the base of his skull. Theophrastus Bigelow was a big man—the weight of his fall through the executioner’s trap had broken his neck but had not killed him immediately. He lifted a ten-kilo strand of gold chains to reveal his scars. “Admirable, what-oh?” The mark of the hangman was stamped on Bigelow’s throat.
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E Pluribus Human
“YO, BABE!” a man’s voice blared at Grenadine McKenzie, “SURPRISE, YOU’RE PREGNANT.” A craggy male face bloomed before her. The face was a hero’s face, Lance Davenport from Rights of Spring. There was an odor of patchouli.
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A Pass on the Tabouli
Errol Flynn, aged 120, has been kept alive with hormones and organ transplants until 2025 for the last, final, remake of Kipling’s ‘Kim.’ It will be a musical.
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Boys’ Night Out
Hillary pushed the platter of cookies across the center line back to Sally’s side. “We went the Lysistrata route―Aristophanes? Withholding sex, that got their attention. First we tried threats and confrontations about those things they will keep on dragging home to bury in the yard―the boys can’t recall anything of their midnight rambles or so they say. Dear, please don’t let your mouth hang open like that.”
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The Death of James A. Garfield
Did I tell you I went to James A. Garfield Elementary? Probably not. We had cheerleaders and a losing basketball team for them to cheer for—Bobo skewatten-daddle, get it right! James A. Garfield gonna win tonite! I missed out on World War Two because I was pigeon-toed. School spirit saw to it that I was more or less informed about the late president.
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I Want to Share Your Wheat
Prosper Epilegomenes is a mouse demon in service to Sminthian Apollo. He blows up a car dealership and kills a troublesome neighbor.
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The Perfect Homburg
Duckpin bowling in Taunton, Massachusetts. A duel over a magic hat sacred to Artemis, sister of Apollo.
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An Unwarmed Fish
A barroom in Hell’s Kitchen. There is a meatball buffet and it is always Thursday, August 14th. Artemis, Apollo’s sister, is ahh... difficult.
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Klein, the Clone
Twins play which kid’s got the papers. Originally published as The Flags of All Nations Hors D’eouvre Toothpick Caper.
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The Prophet Harry (from The Return of the Orange Virgin)
The smell of fresh cut grass with the roar of a two stroke engine said Harry was doing the library lawn. He must have been at it for hours and that meant he was drinking. Riding circles and massaging the turf till the beer or the gas gave out.
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A Special Providence
“I thought there was a special providence that looked out after these things,” said Gerry. A ten-dollar jackpot dropped into the takeout drawer. “There is,” said a voice. “And don’t whack the machine—the lottery corporation doesn’t favor muscleheads abusing church property.”
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Two of Swords
Capt. Futvoye Halfnight, D.D.S, popped his dropped eye into its socket. “Ahh.” What he saw ahead was not reassuring. “Ohh...” A great gnarly man was leaning against a tree and staring at him. He was naked but for the skin of a tiger which he wore nonchalantly over one shoulder. “You pilgrims should carry rearview mirrors. You leave an inventory of lost lesions and dropped appendages all over the landscape,” said the man.
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Tomcat
His great green eyes invited her to share a secret knowledge, intimating she was trusted, but not yet ready for a full revelation. Her species would have to mature.
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Dead Man in the Yard
There was a dead man in the yard this morning. I checked in my wallet for my latest picture of the front yard. I have a collection of yard pictures that goes back for years but I usually carry only one photo at a time. No, he was a new arrival. I called Sheila. Sheila is my ex-wife.
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Facelift
Lord Zorgon of Sulunia sighed, a great exhalation redolent of smoldering carpets. “Where was I? Facelifts, yes. Women, whatever their ages, never wish for sensible things like orthotics or a tonsillectomy.”
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Sylvester and Beany
The year the monarch butterflies didn’t return to Maine, I went home to Brooklyn. “Something in the milkweed,” they said. With a cold winter and no milkweed to browse to keep up their strength on the long flight from Mexico, the butterflies weakened and froze, dying in their millions.
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Midwife in the Tire Swing—Lucy Hobart's history of the 20th Century in 73 chapters.
Boom. That was how explosions were supposed to be written down; Young Lucy was an avid reader and knew this. But this was more of a Thump, felt through the soles of his feet rather than heard.

Return of the Orange Virgin
A tale of the Fata Morgana, Lady of the Wild Things―a serial novel with mp3 and m4b downloads.

Lost in Willipaq―Lovers, Losers, and Part-time Demons
Willipaq, the book: new stories, fresh forays into the fantastic―sixteen tales plus a novella.

Platterland―Nine Stories and a Novella
Willipaq, the second book: new stories, fresh forays into the fantastic―plus the The Return of the Orange Virgin.

Magnetic Betty―has big trouble. Her omelet pan has run off to Australia. Magnetic Betty, an eight-year-old Brownie Scout, marshals the Browntown Ocelots to save the world, Santa Claus, and Christmas as we know it, assisted by Walt and Madge, her bewildered parents, along with Dolby Jenks, World’s Number One Champion Detective.

The Quilter Who Went to Hell―The Libby stories were supposed to be a one-shot, starting and ending with The Ninepatch Variation. Libby’s interlocutors, even as Doctor Who’s companions, had to start somewhere. William Powell (The Ninepatch Variation) was my first choice for the first story. The tales became a diptych as she picked up a spiritual counselor, a 400-year-old medicine man. Then a trio as she pursued her evanescent mother’s lost eye. Then a quartet as her aged father turned blue and went to live inside the TV. Then a fifth tale, Grasshopper Dreams—it is sixty years later, a significant passage even when measured by the life of a lonely man and generations of grasshoppers.

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