HMS Mangled Treasure: or The Rescue of Mr. Spaghetti

I don't think I explained earlier why I like Sci Phi Journal so much. Yes, it has great stories. Yes, it has published John and I. Yes, it is open to Superversive featuers (Folks have asked where to publish Superversive stories. Sci Phi Journal may be the answer–if it can stay afloat.)

But those, while great, are not the thing I like best. 

What I like best about Sci Phi Journal is: the opportunity it has granted to some young up and coming authors, like Josh Young, Brian Niemeyer, and Ben Zwychy (Look! Not a single vowel! Cool name, eh?) There are not many venues today that are open to launching new writers. Sci Phi Journal, however, was devoted to choosing stories based on merit, whether the author was old and established or young and new.

In an effort to encourage folks to try the magazine, here is the opening of my story in Issue #5. (Picture below from the story.)

Sciphi issue #5

HMS Mangled Treasure


The Rescue of Mr. Spaghetti

[Though I did not put this in the magazine, this story is dedicated to my friend Anna Hall and her grandson. What a brave, brave woman she is!]


“Pirates, you say?” asked the detective who stood on Clara’s front stoop. At least Clara thought he was a detective, since he wore a fedora and a trench coat and looked disturbingly like a Humphrey Bogart clone. He could have been the claims adjuster, however. She had talked to so many people, she had lost track.

Clara put her fists on her hips. “Listen here, Buster. Maybe you want me to lie to you – like that punk of an ex of mine did last time this happen. Tell you some comfortable story about car thieves and let it go at that. But that ain’t gonna happened!” She shook her head for emphasis,  sending her many cornrows flying and wagged a finger at him.  “I’m one woman who respects the truth, and that. Is. Not. Going. To. Change!”

Usually, this was the place where they shot her the “you should be locked away” look. This guy just nodded calmly, like he was on the set of Dragnet or something. Cool as a cucumber, he was.

“Pirates towed your car, Ma’am. Is that right?” he asked again. He spoke with a Bronx drawl, so that his “that” sounded like “dat”. Clara had never heard a Bronx accent in real life. She kept expecting him to drop it and talk like a real human being.

“Yes!” she snapped.

“That’s all right, Ma’am. I believe you.”

 “You…you do.”

“Sure thing, Ma’am. These pirates have been towing cars all over town.”

Clara sighed. It felt good to have someone believe her for a change. It had been a while since anyone had believed her about anything. Still, it took all the fight out of her.

“Any idea who’s behind it?” she asked as nicely as she was able.

The detective nodded solemnly. “A pack of the worst supernatural scum in Fairydom.”

Just great. It would be that the guy who finally believed her was three crayons short of a box. Clara she cocked her head and fixed him with the look that her miserable excuse of an ex used to call the Hairy Eye.

“Faeries towed my car?”

The detective met her gaze square on, completely unfazed by the Hairy Eye. That in itself was amazing.

“Ma’am,” he drawled. “you just told me that Pirates stole your car and sailed away – in the middle of Chicago, and I believed you. Common etiquette dictates you should extend to me the same courtesy.”

Clara frowned. The guy seemed calm and reasonable. Not what she expected from a crazy, but then she had been an ER doc, not a psychiatrist. Maybe real crazies were as cool as cucumbers. It would certainly explain why he dressed and talked as if he had walked out of a 1940s movie.

 “Look here, Mr. Spade-wanna-be. Pirates is one thing…” Clara froze, her mouth wide open, because at that moment, she remembered something.

A terrible sensation spread through her body, much like what she imagined it might feel like to be stung by scorpions. Tears pricked threateningly at her eyes. She let out a low warble of a moan.

“Mr. Spaghetti!” she wailed. “He’s locked in the car!”

“Is that your dog, Ma’am?” the detective asked.

Clara shook her head, nearly whipping him with her cornrows. Next time, she would stand a little closer and wap him good.

“No. A doll. My son’s favorite doll.” It shamed her that her voice broke. “He’s going to be inconsolable.”

“Children lose dolls all the time, Ma’am. Part of life.”

Clara turned on the poor man, showing her teeth like a wolf. “Is that so? Why don’t you come home and explain it to my son. He’s eight years old, weighs nearly seventy pounds, and has the language capacity of a delayed two year old. You come over to my house tonight, and you explain to Sammy what happened to his Mr. Spaghetti!”

The detective lowered the brim of his fedora. “I’ll get your car back, Ma’am.”

You can find the rest here.