Archive for September, 2011

PodCastle 176: Middle Aged Weirdo in a Cadillac

by George R. Galuschak

Read by Norm Sherman (of the Drabblecast)

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read it here!

He’s driven this way five times already, watching the same banks and donut shops and car washes fly past in a never-ending reel. Got the front windows open, taking in the night air. And then he sees her—sitting on the curb, cradling her head in her arms, going boo hoo. Hodgepodge of girl and woman: miniskirt; halter top, no bra; friendship bracelet on wrist; hair pulled back with cherry scrunchy; Hello Kitty stick-on tattoo on her left shoulder, mushy from the heat.

“Hello.” He cruises to a stop. “I’m lost and I need to get to the Interstate.”

She raises her head and looks at him: middle-aged weirdo in a Cadillac. Tom Cruise shades; charcoal suit; porkpie hat; looks about 40, like her dad. Probably smokes; a hint of ash about him.

“I’ll give you directions.” When he shakes his head, she says: “It’s simple. Even a moron could do it.”

“I’m afraid I’m not a moron,” he tells her. “The last three people I asked gave me directions and I ended up getting more lost. So it would be easier if you just got into the car and showed me.”

She snorts: “Are you for real?” She’d be stupid to get in, she surely would.

Rated R: Thematic Material

PodCastle 175, Giant Episode: El Regalo

by Peter S. Beagle.
Read by Emily Smith.
Originally appeared in The Line Between.

“You can’t kill him,” Mr. Luke said. “Your mother wouldn’t like it.” After some consideration, he added, “I’d be rather annoyed myself.”
“But wait,” Angie said, in the dramatic tones of a television commercial for some miraculous mop. “There’s more. I didn’t tell you about the brandied cupcakes—”
“Yes, you did.”
“And about him telling Jennifer Williams what I got her for her birthday, and she pitched a fit, because she had two of them already—”
“He meant well,” her father said cautiously. “I’m pretty sure.”
“And then when he finked to Mom about me and Orlando Cruz, and we weren’t doing anything—”
“Nevertheless. No killing.”
Angie brushed sweaty mouse-brown hair off her forehead and regrouped. “Can I at least maim him a little? Trust me, he’s earned it.”
“I don’t doubt you,” Mr. Luke agreed. “But you’re fifteen, and Marvyn’s eight. Eight and a half. You’re bigger than he is, so beating him up isn’t fair. When you’re . . . oh, say, twenty-three, and he’s sixteen and a half—okay, you can try it then. Not until.”
Angie’s wordless grunt might or might not have been assent. She started out of the room, but her father called her back, holding out his right hand. “Pinky- swear, kid.” Angie eyed him warily, but hooked her little finger around his without hesitation, which was a mistake. “You did that much too easily,” her father said, frowning. “Swear by Buffy.”

Rated PG.

PodCastle 174: The Parable of the Shower

by Leah Bobet.
Read by Laurice White.
Originally appeared in Lone Star Stories.

The angel of the LORD cometh upon you in the shower at the worst possible moment: one hand placed upon thy right buttock and the other bearing soap, radio blaring, humming a heathen song of sin.

Fear not! he proclaimeth from the vicinity of the shampoo caddy, and the soap falleth from thy hand.

Motherfu—thou sayest, and then thou seest the light, the wings, the blazing eyes like sunlight and starlight both at once, and since thy mother raised thee right thou coverest thy mouth with one hand and makest the sign of the cross with the other. It is the soap-hand which covereth thy mouth: thou gett’st soap in thy mouth, and spittest—away from the angel of the LORD—and do not curse again though it is terrible hard.

The angel of the LORD he does laugh.

Rated R for language, sex.

PodCastle 173: Who in Mortal Chains

by Claire Humphrey.

Read by Julia Rios (of the Outer Alliance Podcast).

I almost had friends in 1965.

Ryder was a brewer in those days, when brewing was a thing no one much cared to do. He was well loved among a circle of twenty or so, every one with a lost art. Mylene was a weaver; Tom worked leather; Eskil kept bees. Up on the mountain, Andy ran a print shop, with a hundred fonts of lead type, sorted by letter into a hundred wooden trays. Clifton made images with light: albumen prints, salt prints, silver negatives on glass.

I suppose I could have taught someone the art of the bayonet, or the language of signal-flags, but I was mostly just hanging around getting drunk with them. It was almost like hanging around people my own age, except that everyone my age is an asshole.

I did teach Ryder how to bake bannock over coals. We ate his first attempt with some of Eskil’s honey, and mugs of beer pulled from the cask. Clifton took a daguerreotype of all of us seated on blankets under the arbutus tree behind Ryder’s house.

He made copies for everyone, but I wrecked mine, of course.

The only thing I’ve managed to keep from that time is a rough forging from the shop of Jason the blacksmith. Steel, and therefore tempered against my temper. Jason would have made it a blade, but I told him I’d only end up cutting someone.

The rough forging sits now on the windowsill in my kitchen, half a continent away and four decades later. The window itself has been replaced by an ill-fitting piece of Plexiglas held in place with duct tape. The things I break, I cannot always fix.

Rated R for violence.