Friday, November 06, 2015

CrimeBake writing contest!

This weekend I'm attending CrimeBake, one of my all time favorite conferences.

To celebrate, let's have a flash fiction contest!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:


3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: bar/bartender is OK, but bar/bear is not.

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

Contest opens: Saturday 11/7/15 at 9:53am

Contest closes: 11/8/15 at 10am

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!


Jeff Deitering said...

Harsh shadows cast by the BARe bulbs above us made my tumbler appear full.
It wasn’t.
I rattled decaying cubes against the fine plastic. The bartender nodded.
“Neat this time,” I said.
“Cool,” she replied.
I sTRAINed to maintain composure.
Concentrating on my cup of ice juice, I asked Fenster about our mark.
“He’ll be heah. Remembah: he’f an affaffin wiff the RUFFIAN mafia.”
Good toadies are so hard to find.
“Not Russian. He’s just a poser from CRIMEa,” I snapped.
Why I agreed to this half-BAKEd job eluded me.
The door creaked open; a grenade rolled inside.
“Oh fit.”

jmaggard said...

He killed them all, at that bakery off Sixth. I found him there, unconscious after his drug high, covered in their gore.

I turned in my badge.

People can change. Behind bars, he swore off crime. He earned a degree, even formed a non-profit, the Rehabilitated Ruffians. Daily, he prayed for his victims. The bakery staff. The customers, a young mother and infant. He earned peace.

Years later, they release him. He gets $20 and a train ticket.

At the train station, I raise my gun. Picturing my wife and baby, murdered at that bakery off Sixth.

People can change.

Steve Forti said...

“Dada, I go potty?”
“Good boy, Ian. Let’s clean you up.”
“Daddy, can we bake cookies?”
“Good idea, Ian. Veggies first, though.”
“Dad, why’s that dog in a trench coat?”
“That’s McGruff, Ian. The crime dog. Learn from him.”
“Hey Pop, can I borrow the car?”
“Sure, Ian. You paid the extra insurance. Drive safely.”
“Can you believe I’m getting married, Dad?”
“She’s beautiful, Ian. Treat her right.”
“Pops, you okay? You barely ate.”
“I’m fine, Ian. Just tired.”
“Dad, what’d the doc say? Why’s the machine off?”
“It’s okay, Ian. I’m ready.”
“Dad, what do I do? Dad?”


BJ Muntain said...

The train rattled endlessly.

He watched the darkness, wishing he could just get home again.

The bar called to him, but no. That would be a crime. Annie would be so angry. She always called the bartender a 'ruffian'. She called everyone a ruffian now.

He wished Annie would bake more of her pies.

He wished the old house wouldn't be dark.

The night blurred as he remembered.

Soon, these commutes would end. He wouldn't say 'I love you' to Annie every evening. She wouldn't eye him and call him a ruffian.

Annie would go home. He never could again.

Unknown said...

“This isn’t the Orient Express. Stop fidgeting. You’re perfectly safe, unless you continue to ogle that woman whose bosoms are straining against her bodice, in which case a crime most assuredly will be committed. Don’t forget, you insisted that I join you for this waste-of-time writing workshop.”

“Why do you sound like we’re in an Agatha Christie novel?” Red-faced, Bret headed toward the next compartment.

“And stay away from the bar. I don’t want you half-baked before you meet the agents!”

Bret leaned toward a tattooed ruffian and whispered.

The unwitting Victoria fell asleep.

Knife in hand, the thug smirked.

Colin Smith said...


Come on, don’t sulk. Look, a neighborhood bake sale! Lots of people.


Keep close to me. Don’t wander off.


Here, you want a brownie? I’ll get you a brownie.


How about a nice big one. That one there?


Hey! Careful with that. Put it down.


Sorry, ma’am, he’s a little excitable. I said—


Gillian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LynnRodz said...

I strain the melted chocolate, then add a splash of vanilla. I stir until it becomes thick and creamy. Next, I fold in the meringue, the color's slightly darker than cinnabar.

I taste.

Food so decadent it can give you an orgasm. I ladle the mixture into soufflé molds to bake.

Time to shower, then slip into something alluring. Hot water pours down my skin and I think of the scenario for this evening. Him a ruffian, me an ingénue - I'm ready.

I dab on perfume and hear the door open. I rush to the kitchen.

Too late, crime committed.

Stephen G Parks said...

I pressed record. “Who’s the one that got away?”

“This girl,” wistful remembrance filled Grampa’s sun-baked face: An Alzheimer’s-proof memory. “We met on a train in the Crimea, right after the war. My God, we were so alive. She wanted to swim in the sea. She took me skinny dipping!”

“Grandpa!” I barked. He smiled, sadly.

“Ah, Ian, my ruff Ian, you must live poetically, at least once in your life. Promise me that?”

I nodded.

“She wasn’t for me, I guess. It isn’t easy but you let people go, be happy for them.”

That night we let Grandpa go.

Unknown said...

I have two hobbies. Is that a crime? I like to bake. And I like to practice Brazilian jujitsu.
Think my two avocations don’t mesh? Listen.
The other day, I was in my kitchen preparing my favorite cookie recipe. A glance at the oven timer revealed that I had just enough time for a jujitsu training session. I headed to my basement.
Twenty minutes later, I returned to cut my cooked dough into bars. I was foiled. A ruffian had invaded and was devouring my cookies!
We grappled. Crumbs flew.
The ruffian submitted. He fled.
The cookies were sweet.

Unknown said...

So shoot me already. No one told me closing my bakery because of my doctor’s appointment was a crime. Ya’ ask me, the ruffians who painted graffiti across my window are the real criminals.

Geesh! If ya’ can’t go a day without a maple bar, maybe you’s should train yourself to lose a few pounds. I dare ya’ to come into my establishment and brag about what you done.

You do dat, you’re barred from ever plopping your sorry ass in my place again, well, at least until I kick the bucket, which will be soon according to the Doc.

Megan V said...

Dear John

I wish that I could find the right words, but I can’t.
Writing this should be a crime, but it’s not.
I wish that writing didn’t hurt, but it does.
Letters hurt me the way nightmares do—they stab below the heart until I scream
So you and I aren’t meant to be.
We’re like ruffians and their dreams.
Our half-baked love crashed harder than a runaway train.
I met a real character at a bar.
And I’m giving up on you, because…
I can’t write you anymore.

Love Nym

french sojourn said...

Hank’s Barbecued Ribs:

1½ oz. brown sugar (how come you dance so good?)
4½ tsp. paprika (say it like a ruffian…I dare yah!)
4½ tsp. chili powder (chilly? it warms things up)
4½ tsp. dry mustard (in the library, with a candle stick)
1 tsp. salt (could be Kosher…its Semitic semantics)
¾ tsp. cayenne (substitution’s a crime)
1 fl. oz. Worcestershire sauce
6 fl. oz. white vinegar (strained?)
24 oz. ketchup (not Catsup…never, ever!)
2 fl oz. water (not Evian…its Naive spelled backwards)

Mix all together…adjust to taste. Marinate, Refrigerate.
Grill ribs for 20 minutes, then bake for another 20.

Mallory Love said...

She kept an eye trained on the ruffian in the corner. His arms were sleeved in tattoos, his gaze wild, his smirk dangerous. The barista’s focus faltered by the words of the next customer, a man in an overcoat pointing a guarded weapon toward her.
“Money in the bag. Throw in some donuts too.”
Seriously? Who demands baked goods while committing a crime? Trembling hands followed the commands. A loud crack stole her attention. Mr. Overcoat laid on the floor as the ruffian threw cuffs on him, shaking out a sore hand. He flashed her his badge and a smile.

Gigi Kern said...

They went on a crime spree. Across every train car, looking for baked goods.

Laughing and having too much fun. Soon their fellow patroons got involved.

Calling them ruffian and bagel thief.

Till they hit the final car, and there at the bar dumped their loot, eyes wide with glee. Till all you heard was "Yum".

Kregger said...

“When my husb-ruff-iand came home after a three day bender, he demanded an open marriage—needless to say; it put a strain on our relationship.

My crime? Not enough superglue in his K-Y Jelly® or the Detane® in his ditty bag.

I still can’t believe that junkyard dog reject and his in-heat, squalling bitch had puppies.

So I baked him a fritter chock full with toasted apple seeds. It was nutty and crunchy-sweet. Uhm, uhm!

Now, everything is fubar…”

“We’re not interested,” stated the Parole Board Chair, “how you got here, but after you—”

“Is the slattern still alive?”

Janice L. Grinyer said...

"His pedigree goes back to Reviewer, whose get was Ruffian, Queen of the fillies."

The trainer raised the steel bar on the trailer door. A tall, beefy Thoroughbred stepped out, nostrils flaring, hooves dancing on the sun baked Florida marl.

Keeto paused. There was insurance, no worries.

He reached for the lead rope. It will be a crime with those excellent bloodlines, but with prices at twenty bucks a pound...

"We'll take it from here."

Keeto led the majestic animal into a dank, windowless shed as the trailer drove away.

Claire said...

“It’s not a crime to call it off. Do you really want to marry him?”

“I just don’t love him.”

“Then go. Now, quickly. Find a bar, get baked. I’ll break the news.”

“Oh Jas, I can’t thank you enough.”

“What are sisters for?”

She went. Jasmine picked up the discarded dress and slipped it on - a perfect fit. She straightened the train, grabbed the bouquet and opened the door to the chapel where Ian waited. He could be a bit gruff, Ian, but she had always liked him. And his bank balance.

Being an identical twin had its perks.

CynthiaMc said...

"Nothing good happens on a train," Susanna said, noting the ruffian with the scarab ring.

"Should be a crime to just sit in the bar," her twin Scarlett complained.

"It's the only redeeming feature."

"This is your birthday present. Enjoy."

"It's your present. I wanted to go on another dig."

"We baked in the desert last year. What's with the shawl?"

Susanna smiled at Ringman. "Nice ring. Where'd you get it?"

He bolted.

Scarlett tripped him.

Susanna hog-tied him.

"Stolen from last year's dig," Susanna told the police.

Free trip to Egypt in appreciation.

"Birthday trip!" Susanna said.

Scarlett groaned.

Dena Pawling said...

Dena scowled at the agent's blog. Entering those contests? Waste of time. She never won. That ruffian contest judge. What a crime. Who did she think she was, anyway? Queen of the Known Universe?

Dena flipped the bird at the computer, spilling her drink and scattering the gulls.

Her assistant mopped the spill and refilled her glass.

A slow smile spread across Dena's face.

Sipping her scotch on the sun-baked beach in Barbados, (a relocation funded by her writing earnings, thank-you-very-much), Dena poked another pin into the Shark doll.

No straining necessary to hear the scream from NYC.

Unknown said...

The connoisseur of crime. Master of misdeed. Sultan of scandal.
They’ll never know what hit ‘em.
I could bake a cyanide cake and they’d eat every last crumb.
I could tie them to the train tracks and run ‘em over before treachery crossed their sad little minds.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t this good. But I am. Too damn good.
I think I’ll trap ‘em in a barn and burn it to a hole in the ground.
Yeah, a fire. Roast marshmallows over their screams. That sounds nice.
Bunch of ruffians.
They should have known better. Can’t dethrone the king.

S.V. Farnsworth said...

Crime novels read on trains elicited visions of the Orient Express and adventure, thrilling my feminine heart. I strode past the bar to the dining car, imagining everyone a nefarious spy or ruffian. At the next stop, I’d strike my mark.
Smirking, I settled at a table, ordered baked apple pie, and cracked a paperback.
The server placed my pie on the table.
Tall. Handsome. Too young to flirt with?
“Coffee, Sweetie?” he said.
He acted like I owned a cat. No tip.
“Milk,” I said.
No one suspected the flash drive in my pocket held the cure for stupidity.

Susan said...

This is not a story.
(In the beginning, it was the two of us.)
It’s my defeat in a game no one wins, time the only crime,
(He sang perfect love songs, his voice tender and gruff; I answered with sonnets of my own.)
and these half-baked lies we feed ourselves,
(We kissed below the marble arch, promises protected, young souls laid bare.)
pretending there’s nothing beyond this.
(He never shared his broken heart.)
This is my plea, God forgive me
(Tears fall on graves like silent rain.)
this next step,
(One left—)
just one—
(until there’s none.)

Donnaeve said...

Ten months old, bland eyes study us behind the bars of his crib.

Such a serious baby, we say.

Potty-training rewards us with persistent smearing of feces.

The Terrible Twos, we believe.

Four years old, an Easy-Bake oven is smashed over another child’s head.

Oh, the daycare’s reaction. You’d think he committed a crime, our little ruffian.

Sixth grade, he touches a female student.

Don’t they remember puppy love?!?!

High School, he’s accused of date rape.


Under cross-examination, he’s composed.

We win.

That time.

Blank windows of his soul stare from his cell.

Our own are filled with tears.

Melissa Guernsey said...

Marsah’s bake sale goodies were a train wreck so, she was sitting in a bar with crime ruffians. She didn’t use to drink. Somehow her impending divorce and failures at Mother of the Year were taking a toll.
She wasn’t young like her husband’s mistress. She had attributes, though. The crossing guard winked at her and teenagers whistled.
She was good with tools if flour was not involved. Between the Cuisinart and chainsaw she had done a good job mulching her new flowerbeds.
Stirring her drink, she wondered if the human carcasses would be good fertilizer for the spring tulips.

Lisa Bodenheim said...


We strolled toward the quay.

Threadbare mist, a fine scrim, enveloped the waterfront. Ferry passengers scurried, their suitcases bumping on the cobbled esplanade, to the nearby train. Bright-eyed seagulls stalked closing vendors for food scraps. A miasma of odors— mussels and crabs, boat fumes and fried grease—assaulted me.

“Enh?” Ian lifted his flaccid fingers towards the departing ferry.

I smiled at him but inside, I raged. The man I loved was trapped. Ever since that drunk boat driver, that half-baked eejit, crushed Ian’s fishing boat.

“Right,” my voice came out gruff, “Ian. ‘Tis time.”

I pushed his wheelchair.

The Notebook Blogairy said...

She gazed out the train window watching the Victorian homes race by. Her mind flashed on what she was going to bake for the holiday party – spritz cookies – when the ruffian dropped onto the seat in front of her.

Laying his hand on the bar behind him he leered at her.

“What’s up, Strumpet?”

Eyes wide, she glared back at him regretting choosing an isolated seat. Bag clutched, she got up and shoved past him.

He grabbed her arm jerking her back. “Where’s the crime you rushing to?”

She gulped as she felt a sharp blade against her waist.

Unknown said...

The BAR was closed. GRUFF IAN munched his way through today’s special, kale and crab quiche.

Bobby tried not to fidget while he awaited the verdict.

After mopping his plate, the enforcer smoothed his soup sTRAINer. “Would’ve been a CRIME to let this go to waste. You’re not much of a businessman, but a damn fine BAKEr.” He stood, knife glistening in his fist. “Should’ve stuck to baking instead of cooking the books.”

Pain sliced Bobby’s throat, followed by an icy chill.

GRUFF IAN’s voice sounded miles away. “Let’s toss him in the drink, boys. The sharks are circling.”

Unknown said...

I plowed through the throng of ruffians, maneuvering my way through the haze of illegal clouds. Todd’s head rested on an empty pizza box in the kitchen floor. He looked completely baked, like a total train wreck. Bottles of booze and barbiturates lined the dirty counters.

“My partner in crime!” Todd slurred, pointing at me. He was only half lying. My partner, yes. Undercover and under the covers. But crime? Perhaps, he was right about that, too. Sometimes, it seemed wrong to keep so much a secret, especially our feelings. But that was our life, hiding behind the badge, always.

Timothy Lowe said...

1st period-
Upper and lower bounds.
I close my eyes, remember last night’s bonds.

3rd period-
Apple-shaped cake. Such a teacher’s pet.

5th period-
Battle of Balaclava. Crimea.
My heart’s a cavalry charge.

7th period-
Macbeth’s barren scepter.
Naked frailties, been there.
It rains blood in my daydreams.

8th period-
“Carbon atom triple bonded to a nitrogen. Little known fact: it’s found in apple seeds.”

1st period-
The law of falling bodies.
I imagine his. The ruffian.

“A cake?”
Sweet smile. “Only for you.”

Teacher’s pet can do more than bake.
It has no seeds and an uncommon core.

Sandra Cormier said...

Vittori lurched from under the train trestle and gripped Phillipe's arm. "You little ruffian, what have you done?"

Phillipe shrugged off the older man and shoved the baked pigeon from the ashes with an iron bar. "It's not a crime to borrow herbs from a grocer."

Vittori plucked a crispy morsel and popped it into his mouth. "It isn't borrowing if you don't give them back. Never mind; tonight we feast."

Phillipe's head lifted. He wrapped the bird in his filthy jacket and jumped to his feet. "Now, it's a movable feast."

They ran as sirens wailed in the distance.

Shaunna said...

They found Loretta at her usual spot: six inches left of the end of the bar.
"You know where this train's headed?" one asked
"Do I care?" she said.
The officer shrugged. "All right, but maybe you know where it's been."
"Whaddaya mean?"
"We're looking for the ruffians that switched out crime for the Baked Alaska on last night's menu."
"I just seat the guests. I don't serve 'em."
"If you think of anything..."
"I won't."
Loretta finished her drink, barely noticing the hint of bitter almond.
Outside, they evaluated. "You think she knows anything?"
"Not for long."

Unknown said...

The ruffian stepped down off of the train. The oppressive desert heat caused him to feel that he would bake if he did not get out of the sun.
He spied a bar across the street from the train station. As he slowly walked towards the bar he thought, " I sure could go for a cold beer, it will be a crime if that bar is closed. "
The bar was open and the beer was cold.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Awake, listening to my runaway train heart, the Doberman's breathing. The front door opened. I'm not expecting anybody.

Crimes are unreal, right, what do they have to do with me? The noise comes again. Floorboards creaking, bakelite knick-knacks scattering.

"Some guard dog you are," I mutter, rummaging next to the bed for the tools to fend off a ruffian. A hunting knife, misplaced as everything in my house is.

I creep to the stairs, holding my breath. Snap on the light. My housemate blinks at me. "I didn't mean to wake you up. I lost my keys at the bar."

Calorie Bombshell said...

Who’s the girl with pink barrettes?

Your daughter.

Man with the two-day scuff?

Ian, your husband. Now smile and pick up the suitcase.

Initials on the handle. “C.R.I.” Me?

Duh. Catherine Rachel.

The “I”?

One guess.


Ingleheart, silly. Those meds really baked your brain.

What if they happen again? The thunderstorms.

You’re better now. Doctor says so.

But - .

An accident, remember? Barely scratched her.

The little girl takes my hand. Clouds darken and thick, crimson droplets drench my hair, stain my face.

I squeeze hard until she whimpers.

“Nothing to be afraid of, honey. It’s just rain.”

S.D.King said...

A ruffian? Lewis? More like an oaf. Maybe autistic.

The half-baked story of Lewis attacking a bookstore customer seemed absurd.

He came to Crime Spree and More Books as a sales trainee from the Youth Employment Initiative, and after three weeks we weren’t even sure if he could read.

Owners had him mopping floors behind the coffee bar – after all, customers from The Hamptons were impatient. Demanding.

She sure was.

“Young man, can I get some help around here? I want this.” She slammed “Fifty Shades” on the counter near Lewis.

He followed her home. Turns out he could read.

Phil Smith said...

The “Café Car”, AMTRAK’s name for its rolling bars, was packed with authors and agents headed to the New England Crime Bake conference outside Boston. Suddenly there was a commotion as a man with the look of a thug pushed his way through the crowded car. When he got to the counter he paused. From the far end of the counter Lee Child shot him a glare worthy of Jack Reacher. It screamed “keep moving”, which is what he did. Just past Providence the train screeched to a halt. Someone had thrown the ruffian from the train.

Leilani said...

Today, I bake. Bars, cakes, especially pies.
He's on the train all week. He’ll need to eat.
I cream the butter, fold in the way she cries -
like something’s broken deep inside. He beat
her, he says, to teach her not to lie
but I know what I saw. Pinch the crust
into a ruff. I answer yes, and smile,
when he asks if it’s for him. The dust
of Grandma’s plate that broke is sitting by.
I sprinkle hate like sugar. If he should die…
Well. It’s not a crime to bake a pie.

Craig F said...

The bar door opened. Fifteen years almost disappeared. Her half-baked dramas that turned our relationship into a train wreck. The hitch in her step was new and should have been a crime but she wore like penance.

“You chose your pet ruffian over me. Let him do it or call the cops.”

“The cops will be here soon and I will be arrested. He went too far. Her name is Daphne and she is yours. Take her and go please.”

“You finally killed him?”

“No, she did but it is my fault and I will take the blame.”

Amy Schaefer said...

The key to good swimming is: stay steady. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Chug along like a train.

I try to concentrate on my technique, but thoughts keep invading. Let’s face it: this crime was a half-baked idea from the get-go. The mark was too savvy, my back-up was more Teddy Ruxpin than Terrible Ruffian, and the score was, let’s say, impractical. Did I expect to lug the gold bars in my stupid clutch purse?

I gaze around in the golden sunset. The boat is long gone. That little island doesn’t look any closer.

And my arms are so tired.


Marc P said...

The gun prompted him.

‘Ain’t a crime. Loving you.’

‘The law, my daddy and the world bar one don’t see it that way.’

‘He’s gone now.’

“Buried shallow, I’d bet.’

His sly grin. ‘Nobody bakes pie sweet as you, child.’


‘Wouldn’t allow his ruffian friend a slice. That’s plain mean.’

‘Cos you wouldn’t pay.’


‘Momma always said you train a bad man like you train a horse. Ride him till he sweats blood for you. Better than coin.’

‘You fixing to put reins on me?’

‘Hill girl’s choices. Bullet or bridle.’

‘Which then?’

‘I did say bar one.’

Unknown said...

I’m a believer in the good, not the bad. But when you get to the bottom of the laundry basket and the gun is gone. You’re baked.

There are exceptions to every bar.

Rule number one. I am the mover and the shaker.

Two, you are wrong.

Three, it was a crime to have met you.

Four, it’s not your fault. The train arrived. I boarded.

The window was blocked from a bad paint job. My fault. I did pay the ruffian to paint it pink. He should have scraped it down beforehand.

The mind runs wild before you die.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

The abandoned barn is better than the playhouse Carly never had. Besides, her new pursuits need privacy. She strokes the stolen pocketknife.

Mama says Carly's a mistake. Step-daddy Number Three says she's as ugly as his butt pimple. Old Lady Johnson says Carly's a ruffian. Whatever that is.

Pete, the town drunk, shambles from the shadows, all booze baked brain and bare feet. A slow, slithery smile spreads across Carly's face. A man no one will miss. It's almost a crime her first time will be so easy.

Glassy gaze trained on the ground, Pete never sees her coming.

Karen McCoy said...

I followed the train because it smelled like baked apples.

Ignoring the yells, I lumbered into the dining car, where a woman held a small child, and blocked the bar’s abandoned cider. I swung to get her out of the way. She screamed, grabbed some honey, and poured it on the toddler’s ruffian head.

Figuring that a fair trade, I licked it. The woman smiled. Then I took a big bite, and with it came the child’s head. The skull was hard, and oozed like rotted cheese.

A crime, sure. Not worth the deadly needle in my fur, though.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Is it a crime to bake toll house cookies for your boyfriend in prison? Yes, if you include extra ingredients like metal files, skeleton keys, marijuana, that sort of thing. They've trained dogs to sniff for anything contraband. I heard some ruffian once snuck in a mobile phone in a brownie bar. Since then, they've taken to stabbing any baked goods. (Honestly, an x-ray would suffice.)

But not once have they considered screening for high levels of botulins. Well, feet first is one way of getting out of prison...

Just Jan said...

I track my prey to the sign that reads EMERGENCY--red letters baked onto a white background like blood splattered at a crime scene. I slip into the waiting room, a ruffian on high alert for the trained assassins who would bar me permanently if they could.

My quarry rises to greet me with a tired smile. She is beautifully disheveled--and much too young. My eyes scan the room. I could take another instead--the croupy baby, the drug addict, the old man muttering epithets. But as I falter, she kisses me gently, inhaling my fetid breath.

I weep.

Mackenzie Bates said...

A self-proclaimed ruffian, Michael had never been one to shy away from sticky situations. But he was afraid today.

It was supposed to have been a simple act: enter bar, grab cash, exit before the cops come. Barely even a crime. As Michael had been heading back toward the train station – planning to flee from the scene – he had run smack into a police officer, the contents of his pockets spilling incriminatingly onto the sidewalk.

Now Michael was sitting in an interrogation room, starting to bake under the fluorescent lighting. Things were not looking good.

Unknown said...

Writing a crime novel is hard enough, I don't enjoy a barfly of a husband telling me my dreams of publishing are half-baked and doomed to failure. I didn't speak to him the entire train ride back. I don't speak at all until we walk through the front door and Ruffian greets me with a meow of gentle remonstrance for the late dinner. As always, I run my latest plot by him and, as always, he approves. I grab the baster from the counter and check the oven temperature. Who's half-baked now, sweetheart?

Anonymous said...

She slides a scotch and a smile down the bar. "You here for CrimeBake?"

CrimeBake. Like some goddamn Elvis flick.


I sound like the old ruffian I am. Not all slick and polite like these newfangled writers.

I remember this bar, walking from the train, then down to the Charles.

They pretend to know about betrayal, murder.

We took that walk, years ago, me an' Sal. Walking back alone took longer.

Goddamned Sally.

Justice, more like.

I wave off another shot. I'm teaching soon. Not that they'll listen.

"Welcome to CrimeBake," they chirp. Fucking amateurs.

I'm still walking back.

Annaka said...

Henry's win was a crime.

They should have barred that ruffian from entering his cheesecake. Who ever heard of a no-bake recipe winning a bake off?

All my training in cake frosting and marzipan molding for naught.

And these last forty years, he's claimed that he can't cook.

He's not going to like his just desserts.

RachelErin said...

“Welcome back to the final moments of Bake Off: Sculpture Edition.”

“We were saying Genevieve really set the bar here, her portrait of Obama is so realistic it might be a crime to eat.”

“Agreed. The restrained shine of the skin is genius. You know, I worried it was too sticky, but she managed to smooth it without a crumb.”

“SPILL! Flaked coconut! Just as the judges come out.”

That elbow bump gave Obama wicked dandruff! I – analyzing the odds now is beyond me. One of the judges is – I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! CAKE TO THE FACE!

Harriet Cooper said...

Eleanor sighed as she put down the book. Why were ruffians in books romantic when real-life ones were stupid jerks? Like the half-baked idiot she was after today. She looked up as the door opened and a man walked in. Confirming he was the one, she unbuttoned three buttons on her shirt, pasted a smile on her face, and trained her gaze on him as he sat down at the bar. Then she sashayed over, hands behind her back, handcuffs in one, taser in the other. Like they say, don't do the crime if you can't do the time!

Lucy Crowe said...

The view of the Crimean Pyramids should have soothed Mz. Winnie’s soul – thus was her intent. She’d bought her train ticket immediately following the penning of a vicious but precise “Dear John” letter, and had ridden, first class, into the crimson sunset. But alas, Dear John followed! Cornered her in the Mummy’s tomb and offered his half-baked notion of romance! It would take more than a rose and a diamond to bring Mz Winnie ’round; barring murder how could she be rid of him? But then . . . the kiss. Ah, how the ruffian John could kiss.

Cindy C said...

Words bled from his mouth in fat red drops. The machine beeped his heart as the night nurse with the sunbaked face smoothed his forehead and blanketed his bare legs.

She passed the doorway cop capturing secrets to stake his want. He shrugged, shirt straining to cover his chest. “Life of crime.”

Hunched beside him the ruffian son clenched bloody handcuffed fists and shaped his lips. “I’m sorry,” he wanted to say but the words clogged his throat and he couldn’t claw them out.

The day broke.

The life died.

Unknown said...

Beep, beep, beep, the monitor sounded in the still room. The ruffian on the table was mine, not a client's, and I struggled to maintain my professional demeanor. We'd been through a lot together, here on this table - I could remember the years based on what I'd fished out of him: a toddler's toy train, a girl's barrette, her junior high graduation cake toppers from the bakery. Today no crime had been committed, though. I couldn't fix what was making him sick. "Get my girl on the phone," I said to my tech.

Michael Rigg said...

Exhausted, a gruff Ian Bond surveyed the crime scene: a train car at the Amtrak station. The deceased sat immobile, like a baked ceramic figurine, in a barbaric pool of red. Bond’s partner, Anthony Grimaldi, comforted a crying man.

“What happened, Tony?” Bond said.

"Stabbing. No witnesses. Victim was on her way to a writers’ conference.”

“That the spouse?”

“Victim’s paramour. Name’s Jack. He was in the club car buying Scotch when he intercepted a threatening Tweet. Rushed to warn her. Too late, though. Killer was already gone.”

“You mean…”

“That’s right. Jack didn’t reach her in time.”

Michael Seese said...


The second peal faded into the cold night as Sonya switched off the light over the bar, locked the door, and went upstairs.

She looked at the hand-me-down gifts on her kitchen table and sighed. A mismatched train set. An Easy Bake Oven in need of a new 40-watt bulb. A Ruffians squeak toy scarred by its previous owner's teeth marks.

“It ain't no crime,” she said.

She thought about him, then rolled up her sleeves and got to work.

The clock struck three as she tied the last ribbon. Outside, snow began to fall.

Christmas was still real.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

The train was full to bursting. Tickets were a bargain, given for the least of crimes, an accident of birth. A utopia on rails as every man, women, and child, ruffian or respectable, were given equal accord.

Bakers, candlestick makers, and artisans were stripped of possession as each exchanged a name for a number. Ash fell like Hell’s snow at the destination platform.

“You get used to the stench,” the captain said.

“There are so many of them,” the boy said, clipboard ready.

The captain appraised him as he brushed yesterday’s arrivals from his uniform jacket. “There’s room until tomorrow.”

Kate Higgins said...

It's a crime how much I'm going to miss you. My tears cut muddy gullies around my bruised and swollen cheeks. You were a ruffian, a bounder and a cad.

I will remember when you left, your hands so cold even in this dry, sunbaked land. Your blank stare as I said goodbye.

Still no one else will care. This unrestrained, endlessly dusty wind should erase the fingerprints on the wheelbarrow and the bloody, rusty shovel. Yes, it is a crime how much I'm going to miss you but I guarantee you; I won't remember where I buried you.

JD Paradise said...

"Did you need to be so gruff, Ian?*"

Hot rain shotguns down around us. I stop my shambling, try to hold myself together. "You and me ain't no crime, Deenie. Ain't gonna hear otherwise from nobody."

"Nobody in that bakery *thought* otherwise, baby. Not 'til you started up." Her pain barbs my heart. "But this town is so small. And I still have to teach here."

Until word gets around, anyway.

"They'll come to love you," she begs. "Like I do."

But I know what's rushing toward us. The crowds. The torches. And what comes next. What always comes next.

Kelsie Kasandria said...

"Earlier this morning a crime occurred across the street from the local bakery!" exclaimed the news reporter. "The ruffian upended tables and left thirty computers smashed. A barista was pouring a drink when the customer suddenly went berzerk. After the incident the perpetrator hopped on a nearby train and escaped. Stay tuned for more after this break," the reporter finished as the commercials rolled.

Sharky rubbed her hands together with unrestrained glee, a smile creeping along her face. “At last I have my revenge on all those writers who post their incredibly mind-blowing stories on my blog!”

Kimber said...

Lolita Lemon Bar leapt behind the cake stand, trailing powdered sugar. Ruffian Muffin laughed, streusel topping just so, a sack of chocolate chips over his shoulder.

“You’re a half-baked excuse for a Ranger,” Ruffian sneered. “You can’t catch me.”

“That’s what Gingerbread Joe said,” she answered. “You’ll pay for your crimes, Ruffian. I hear blueberry’s a popular flavor at the penitentiary.”

Ruffian charged. Lolita was ready, her pistols, Butter and Scotch, aiming true.

The train’s dining car rocked, throwing Ruffian off the dessert cart to the floor.

The waiter’s boot came down.

Lolita sighed. “So much for the five-second rule.”

John Frain said...

Patience. My greatest asset. She’d know that if she’d paid attention.

Waited one-hundred-twenty-one days since the restraining order. It’s lifted. No crime to be here.

I extract the knife from its scabbard. Anniversary gift I bought her three years B.C. – Before Cody, the ruffian who cleans our pool.

The stainless steel glistens in the light of our kitchen. Sorry, her kitchen.

Oh, she changed the locks. But she forgot the broken basement window. So like her.

She’s at the bakery another hour. Remember – patience.

I hear the garage. Car door slams. Entryway. She’s not happy to see her anniversary gift.

Anonymous said...

The security desk was empty of its four ruffians when I swept through. I smiled in passing, because the sounds and the smell from the bathroom told me exactly where they were. I’d worn gloves and a nicely tilted hat for the camera, but honestly, what could I be charged with?

It’s not a crime to bake a cake.
Cultivating a strain of ecoli to add to the batter? Barely legal.
Stealing back a family painting from a private gallery? Probably not legal. Maybe a grey area.

Leaving it there, though? That would have been the real crime.

Unknown said...

After barrista duty
With baked goods and coffee
Train ride home

A woman was standing
(It was still rush hour)
Her skirt got tucked in between
The cheeks of her posterior

Teenage ruffians were giggling
Pointing at her behind
I felt sorry. Poor woman!
Commuters can be unkind

I tugged at her hem, once, twice
Aha! skirt was set free

She turned around
Swore at me something fierce
My only crime was compassion
It was unfair, I was near tears

What to do next?
Status quo, I guess
I pushed the skirt back
Between her ungrateful ass

Marie McKay said...

Little Billy Barlow stands too close to girls, sniffing at the waves of their strawberry-scented hair. They cry and tell the teacher, teacher sits him down. She can tell from the discussion he has no understanding of his crime.
Little Billy Barlow sits at home alone, watching silent movies where the ruffian has the girl. When he ties her to the train track, Little Billy squeals, his skin feels electric with a strange delight.

Billy Barlow's alibi is half-baked.
A search of his apartment and details unfurl. Police seize the evidence- a jar of golden curls.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Not a crime, but a misstep, I remember when it happened.
Ruffian, a dark bay who always led, was called, “Queen of the Fillies”.
After she was startled some said the jockey’s effort to pull her up was half-baked. But he knew she continued on with heart and the kind of strength which transcends training. Ruffian’s attempt to finish the race destroyed her leg. The challenge to save her, barred survival, yet caused an outcry for more humane treatment of racehorses.
Buried by the flagpole at Belmont Park, “the only race she ever lost was the one that killed her.”

Lance said...

They held hands as they strolled across the train tracks to the old bakery. Only chimneys and stone ovens remained. And the well.

“The baron was rough,” she said.

“A baker as nobility and ruffian?”

“Good bread; his crimes were against strangers. Let's sit on the well and make wishes.”

“Is it safe?”

“Depends. I'll go first.”

She threw in a penny. A tinkle echoed up from the bottom.

“It's deep,” she said, smiling. “Now you. Lean in. Hit the center.

The splashing died away slowly.

“Great grandfather was right.”

Dee said...

A ruffian in a half-baked crime story enters the train and sits down at the bar.
He looks around and sips his Pellegrino.
Snookums slides up the aisle and stops to study the man. “You got the time?”
“No, don’t tempt me.”
“It won’t take long.”
“No, no.” He shakes his head.
“Just a hundred.”
His hands already twitched in anticipation. “Maybe if it’s quick.”
An evil smile crosses her face, and she slides away. “Now for the next hapless writer.”

Steve Cassidy said...

I got off the train in Bakel hoping to catch a flight out of this wretched country.

Two ruffians saddled up next to me at the bar.

“Smugglin diamonds is a crime here in Senegal,” the big ape said.

“Punishable by death,” his pint sized monkey chortled.

“Why you tellin me?”

“You been double crossed. Ed says screw you. You want to make it out alive, turn over the stones.”

“Ed set me up huh?”

“Played you like a fiddle, hand over the stones.”

I caught him with an elbow under the chin. Pint size pulled a piece.