An excerpt in celebration of Easter

Piper and Bess had grown even closer since Houdini had left to dazzle Chicago with his feats of daring and wonder. On Easter Sunday, Bess had taken her into Manhattan where she and two hundred-thousand other people flaunted their new spring clothing in the parade along Fifth Avenue. Seated in his customary chair as though he’d never been gone, Houdini lowered the paper and smiled.
“Come give your uncle a big birthday hug,” he said, opening his arms wide. When they embraced, she couldn’t tell if she sensed tension between them or if it was just her imagination. After all, how could he have known for sure that it had been her in Margery’s parlor? The only thing he could possibly have seen was a pair of glowing stars, which wouldn’t be out of the ordinary in a weird room like that.
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An excerpt in honor of National Bootlegger’s Day

Piper took one step and almost twisted her ankle. She wasn’t used to walking in heels and stumbled twice more crossing the street to the Adonis Club.

It was Saturday night and a line had already formed at the door. But it moved quickly. When Piper reached the stairs, she was barely able to navigate the creaky steps down to the entrance. She rapped twice on the door and a small window slid open.

“What’s the word, doll?” A dark eye blinked at her. Piper opened her mouth and froze. The window slammed shut.

The people standing in line at the top of the stairs began to grumble. Piper thumped twice on the door again. The slot opened a crack.

“You again?” the eye said. “You got a spruce caboose, kid, I’ll give you that. Now haul it back to your dapper’s house this second or I’ll…”

“Bee’s knees,” Piper said with a plastered smile that looked like it belonged on a ventriloquist dummy.

The eye scanned her from head to foot.

“You ain’t old enough to be here.”

“Tell you what, you show me your liquor license and I’ll show you my birth certificate.”

The eye narrowed.

“You’re a real bearcat, ain’t ya?”

The peephole closed. Piper thought she had blown it until she heard the click of the doorknob.

“Welcome to the Adonis Club!” Continue reading

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Piper celebrates Memorial Day

A steamboat sounded its horn as it departed the pier to collect passengers from New York City. Standing upon an outdoor stage beneath a giant seashell canopy, Sam Gumpertz was greeted by cheers, whistles, clapping hands, clapping feet, and even the clapping flippers of the Seal Woman.

Sam extended his hand to the three distinctive landmarks that ascended high into Coney Island’s unblemished blue sky: The Wonder Wheel, the Thunderbolt, and the hundred-foot bejeweled structure that towered above a new roller coaster called the Bobs.

“Welcome to another summer at Dreamland. Or at least what’s left of it,” Sam announced, bowing to the small crowd. Continue reading

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An excerpt to celebrate baseball’s Opening Day

It was a simple stone. No dates, no first name, no epitaph. Just the name “Ebbets” carved in capital letters on a rectangular stone slab. Flapper knew very little about the man she had slept with except that he once owned a baseball team that still played three miles to the east in a stadium bearing his name. Continue reading

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Black Friday for Black Henry

Black Henry

Many of today’s young pop-culture enthusiasts are only familiar with zombies of the modern, “toxic” variety—corpses restored to life as the result of a horrifying virus or radioactive contamination from an exploded space probe. The iconic zombie owes its heritage to a much earlier period, when Haitian slaves invented stories of such a purgatory to prevent them from committing suicide. Continue reading

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