It’s release day for Chicanery by Barbara Chioffi – Get your copy via Amazon
This is a collection of eight twisted tales of the unexpected. The stories are completely different from anything you’ve read previously and I know you’re going to enjoy them.
Here’s a sneak peek from one of the stories
Larry visited Cora once a week on Saturdays, but never stayed long. Bored with his mother’s aging mentality, he would raid the refrigerator, doing what he had always done, helping himself. Cora, who no longer drove, relied on Larry to do the grocery shopping, and he took advantage of the opportunity to buy for himself and provide Cora with only what he thought she needed. It was a sad commentary. He had no idea what she liked, never having thought of anyone but himself. If she requested something, he would conveniently forget. After some time, she took what he brought her and said nothing.
He lived off the proceeds from the sale of her house, receiving a generous monthly allowance. Her lawyer was well acquainted with Larry and knew he thought himself entitled to whatever his mother had. Larry spent the money on whatever he wanted—a nice apartment and a new car. It was a blessing that he had no access to her sizeable bank account. At the end of every month, he would ask her for extra to tide him over.
Cora had limited conversations with her son during his weekly visits. He would talk as little as possible and exit with what he had pilfered. She sighed with relief each time he left. As a parting shot, he always slammed the door behind him. Smiling to herself, she would raid her hidden stash of goodies, bought by the pleasant neighbor in the next apartment.
Not long after Cora moved in, a woman her age had rented the other side of the duplex. Evelyn and Cora entered into a relaxed friendship with morning coffee followed by their favorite TV shows. They had a mutual agreement, she and Evelyn—secret goodies in exchange for tending the garden. If it was one thing Cora had retained, it was her green thumb. Evelyn had devoted a small room in her apartment to a variety of plants, especially flowering ones. A screen door had replaced the traditional one, and the women could watch the activity as they visited and drank their morning coffee. The one window remained open giving insects, mostly bees, access to the nectar therein. The women would water the flowers while the bees merrily buzzed, never stinging either of them. All of this, they kept from Larry. Not having access to Evelyn’s apartment, he was unaware of the haven the women had dubbed the “Bees Knees.”
During an afternoon visit, Cora discovered a small hive under construction in a large potted tree Evelyn had placed in a corner. Both women watched with wonder. The hive began to grow as bees flew in and out of the window. Cora remembered the small hive in her former hothouse and wondered if the bees were transferring their residence. Recalling the mutual respect she had shared with the bees, she hoped they had followed her to regain that closeness. Nature amazed her in its variety and purpose.
One Saturday morning, as Cora was getting dressed, Larry burst through the door, his face contorted in anger. “Mother, where’s my allergy pen. One of those bees just stung me. Hurry. I don’t feel so good.”
Cora ran to her medicine cabinet, took the pen, and returned to the living room. Larry grabbed it and jabbed it into his arm. He sat on the sofa, waiting for it to take effect. His color returned and he sighed. After letting loose a barrage of expletives, he said, “The next time I come, I’m bringing insect spray. I’m going to kill every one of those damn menaces.”
This frightened Cora. If there was anything left in her life she loved, it was those bees. She had dreaded his being stung for she knew the next time she saw him, he would be covered from head to toe with protective gear as he methodically killed her friends. Cora soothed him as best she could, not relishing his temper. “Son, it was a freak encounter. It won’t happen again.”
“Don’t hand me that, mother. They were swarming around me as if they had been waiting. I’m coming tomorrow. There won’t be one left when I’m done.”
Sitting in her recliner after Larry left, Cora shared her fear with her friend, who had just arrived. “Evelyn, I am more upset than I’ve been in years. Larry is coming this weekend, armed with enough poison to kill every bee for miles. I can’t let that happen.”
“I agree, Cora. Those bees are the most important part of our lives. They give us such joy and I feel they love us just as much as we love them.”
“We can’t give them up.” An unwavering resolve settled on Cora’s face.
She and Evelyn discussed the issue at length and decided on a course of action together. Not what she wanted, but it had to happen. Entering the garden room, they warned the bees, hoping their thoughts and words were carried on the wind.
Larry walked with purpose to the front of his mother’s apartment building. He was ready for battle. Strange, no bees were there–not a single one. The sun was shining and the flowers were in full bloom. Where were those annoying pests?
Draped in layers of covering, all one hundred and twenty pounds of his scrawny body was covered in sweat. He waited several minutes, then growling to himself, he went inside. Cora sat in her recliner, drinking her morning coffee. Larry removed all but his jeans and T-shirt and dropped the paraphernalia on his mother’s carpet. “I don’t understand it, mother. There were no bees. I’ll wait a while. Perhaps they’ll be out when the sun is hotter.”
Going to the kitchen, he poured himself his usual glass of tea. As he gulped it down, a smile graced Cora’s face. Waiting patiently, she watched as he began to relax.
“You know, mother, I was thinking about having you move closer to me.” He yawned. “There are some small apartments about a mile away. It would certainly save me trekking out here every weekend.”
Cora knew of the apartments he mentioned. They were adequate, but small and for the first time, her irritation showed in the iron grip she had on her coffee cup. She nodded as she watched carefully, ignoring most of his jibes. Soon, his eyelids drooped. He was asleep. Her remedy to her situation was underway.
You can read the full story when you purchase Chicanery – Barbara Chioffi.