Joe Avery Meets Mother Nature by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery Meets Mother Nature Charles C Cole You can take the detective out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the detective. I was at a gas station some two hours from home. No traffic lights in sight. No…

Calendula, My Partner by Charles C Cole

Calendula, My Partner Charles C Cole I returned from a brisk walk around the block to clear my head. Weird things were happening. I watched a cat giving a tongue-bath to a squirrel! I saw a centaur prancing in circles in traffic to get…

Genie, Ginger, and Gretel by Charles C Cole

Genie, Ginger, and Gretel Charles C Cole Genie, the big-and-tall shirtless exotic client who’d started it all, was back in my office. As he’d done in his original visit, he grabbed some throw pillows and sat cross-legged on the floor. This was not a…

Joe Avery goes for a Ride by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery goes for a Ride Charles C Cole My office, closed for the holiday, was as good a place as any to have a power nap. Signs had been posted on the door for days. I even went so far as to unplug…

Cupid is as Cupid Does by Charles C Cole

Cupid is as Cupid Does Charles C Cole I’d been having dreams about my half-rosebush receptionist, Calendula, so vivid it felt as though someone else was projecting them into my mind. I looked out my office window in thought and spotted Cupid hovering about…

Joe Avery and the Old World Visitor by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery and the Old World Visitor Charles C Cole Did you ever have one of those days when the world just seems off? Most days, exotics lined up at our office door like we were the only bar in a corporate mining town….

Joe Avery: When Calendula’s Away by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery: When Calendula’s Away Charles C Cole “Next!” I swung open the door of my consultation chambers into our crowded waiting room, figuring the clients knew who was first in line better than I did and would make the appropriate accommodations. Calendula, my…

The Song in the Heart of a Friend Charles C Cole

The Song in the Heart of a Friend Charles C Cole “Some of my best friends are trees.” Others said it, but I meant it. A few former clients delighted in paying me back in novel ways. I was relaxing in the uppermost boughs…

Joe Avery Meets Cupid by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery Meets Cupid Charles C Cole Cupid had curly blonde hair and smiling eyes that could light up a room! Round and jolly like Santa as a youngish man, like a five-foot tall cherub. “I don’t understand,” I began. “Your message to my…

One of Cupid’s Casualties by Charles C Cole

One of Cupid’s Casualties Charles C Cole I stepped inside the bustling java joint for an early wake-up jolt. Large mirrors on the walls made the place seem like a carnival funhouse for pouty mommas’ boys on their way to the first day of…

Another Wishmaster Sighting by Charles C Cole

Another Wishmaster Sighting Charles C Cole It should come as no surprise for anyone to learn that genies are most convincing liars. (“You want to be a prince? Now you’re a prince!”) This is particularly true of the lovable really-big-fish-in-the-really-big-pond Genie with whom I…

Not Just Another Human-Plant Hybrid by Charles C Cole

Not Just Another Human-Plant Hybrid Charles C Cole The place was packed, well, for us. I stepped into the waiting area to check with my new receptionist, Calendula. While she wasn’t exactly a creature of traditional folklore, as most of our clients were, she…

Joe Avery and the Foster Shadow by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery and the Foster Shadow Charles C Cole Calendula, my half-rosebush receptionist, was perturbed. Even a non-detective could conclude this by the obsessive way she sharpened pencils longer than was necessary. Many of our preindustrial clients had a distrust of computers (digital technology…

Joe Avery Meets the Goats Gruff by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery Meets the Goats Gruff Charles C Cole Humpty Dumpty was in town to expand his regional domination. Things had been going well financially, to the extent he was getting the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of people. A recent…

The Final Return of the First Client by Charles C Cole

The Final Return of the First Client Charles C Cole The only way to guarantee a lunch break at the office was by leaving the building, but the demands of work didn’t always observe strict protocol. Maybe there was a long call or I…

Joe Avery Meets a Marathon Sleeper by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery Meets a Marathon Sleeper Charles C Cole Early morning, so early the sentinel rooster on the roof (the penthouse tenant had an extensive chicken coop!) was still snoozing. My intermittently shy, half-rosebush receptionist, Calendula, had been invited by former clients out of…

Joe Avery Returns to the Beach by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery Returns to the Beach Charles C Cole A friend from high school reached out. I didn’t have the best childhood, surrounded as we’d been by neighborhood violence. Most acquaintances had grown up but not out, if you get my drift, older but…

The Case of the Stone Lions by Charles Cole

The Case of the Stone Lions Charles Cole My ex-wife, Janice, an intersection of deep-rooted quiet and calm like the library where she researched, was agitated. The sight was both alarming and darkly funny, like the time my third-grade teacher, Sister Anna-Maria, had blown…

Detective Joe Avery Hits the Beach by Charles Cole

Detective Joe Avery Hits the Beach Charles Cole For some, every day is a perfect day to go to the shore, even when it’s not. I myself am not much of a sun worshipper: I burn easily. And I’m always profiling the masses for…

The Flower Girl, The Tree Man, and the Troll by Charles C Cole

The Flower Girl, The Tree Man, and the Troll Charles C Cole On doctor’s orders, I was power walking through Central Park, ostensibly sans cigarettes. Being prescriptive, there was no inherent fun in the endeavor. I huffed and puffed – keeping my anti-health disgust…

Joe Avery’s Early Client by Charles C Cole

Joe Avery’s Early Client Charles C Cole I arrived at my office in the early morning. I stepped out of the elevator into an empty hallway. The peace and quiet wouldn’t last, but it was a nice way to start the day. An unexpected…

A Private Eye For Magic Folk by Charles C Cole

A Private Eye For Magic Folk Charles C Cole I’m a detective. Once upon a time, I helped a non-humanoid, and now magic folk line up outside my office like they’re getting free front-row tickets to the elf king’s coronation. Not every customer leaves…

A Wishmaster’s Wish by Charles Cole

A Wishmaster’s Wish Charle’s Cole The shirtless genie ducked his head as he entered my office. For a moment, I thought he wasn’t going to fit; he was large like a troll. He practically folded himself in half to fit on my sofa. When…

The Island and the Sailor by Charles C Cole

The Island and the Sailor Charles C Cole One night a sailor, Khondro Elisaf, fell overboard in a raging storm while at sea. Exhausted and bruised, he ultimately washed up on an uncharted island. As it happened, the island, Iochetes, was sentient – due…

A Second Caesar by Charles C Cole

A Second Caesar Charles C Cole Our grad school program won a research grant to investigate Central American villagers having an extremely high incidence of mental health issues: domestic abuse, night terrors, suicides. We reviewed diet, genes, microbiology in the drinking water, heavy metals…

Unfinished Business by Charles C Cole

Unfinished Business Charles C Cole At the time of these events, I lived in the same small Vermont town as the famous author of supernatural stories, William LeRoy. To the locals, he was a favored son. When he shopped, people nodded politely, but they…

The Backup Plan by Charles C Cole

The Backup Plan Charles C Cole My widower father obsessed about my getting hurt. He even had me wear an emergency pendant to reach him, with the press of one button, during a crisis. My friends and I had just graduated from high school…

The Wizard of Lowell Road by Charles C Cole

The Wizard of Lowell Road Charles C Cole Last cheery fire of the fading summer. Vacation would be over in the morning. Back to work. Winston tossed some remaining burnable chunks onto the smoldering pit. “So long, grandfather oak!” It was from an old,…

Malachi’s Magic Seed by Charles C Cole

Malachi’s Magic Seed Charles C Cole Mid-morning but already a scorcher, the third in a row. The root cellar, pretty much a clay igloo with a door tucked under a man-made hill, was looking inviting. Farmer Malachi Aylward had just finished soaking his garden….

A Meeting of Minds by Charles C Cole

A Meeting of Minds Charles C Cole The most dangerous profession, you say? Sailing along the edge of our flat earth. Mining in deep, near-airless tunnels not far from a clan of territorial dwarfs. Or, perhaps, like me, as psychoanalyst to the supernaturally needy,…

A Man of Many Spells by Charles C Cole

A Man of Many Spells Charles C Cole For a wizard of some regional renown, Methaglyn the Modest was a bookish sort. In his mind, nature in its rawness surrounded his remote dwelling like a village uprising, relentlessly busy and noisy and unpredictable. Spells,…

Understanding Wranglers: A Primer by Charles C Cole

Understanding Wranglers: A Primer Charles C Cole Nobody ever thinks about where old wizards go to die. Why would they? They look human enough, but they’ve had transformative magic pulsing through their bodies for so many decades that they are lightyears closer to sentient…

The Case of the Mismatched Man by Charles C Cole

The Case of the Mismatched Man Charles C Cole What follows is a previously unpublished account, based on the oral history of a survivor, of a heretofore little-known supernatural disaster, an explosion in an illegal mine being quietly carved out of the base of…

Please Remember Me! by Charles C. Cole

G., a white-haired Italian craftsman, was recovering in a hospital bed, having suffered a tragic, bones-breaking fall. Though the staff managed his pain, they were nonetheless losing him – to Alzheimer’s. There was a bright, brief glimmer of “recall” when Pino first arrived in…

I Like Martian Music by Charles E. Fritch

The Chimes by Charles Dickens

The Chimes by Charles Dickens Abridged by Lee A. Hart First Quarter There are not, I say, many people who would dare to sleep in a church. I don’t mean at sermon-time on a warm Sunday; but in the dead of night, and alone….

A Tale Worth Telling by Charles Gramlich

A Tale Worth Telling Charles Gramlich Morning fog streams through the great forest like the smoke of a thousand fires. The clan forages through the mist-blurred world, gorging on succulent red and yellow fruits that dangle from the trees. They move leisurely, selecting only…

Hunted Down by Charles Dickens

Hunted Down Charles Dickens I. Most of us see some romances in life. In my capacity as Chief Manager of a Life Assurance Office, I think I have within the last thirty years seen more romances than the generality of men, however unpromising the…

Far Beyond Home by Charles A. Gramlich

Far Beyond Home Charles A. Gramlich The eye fills with black that speaks oblivion. The sun is a reckless thought, or perhaps some exotic dream. Has there ever been light, except that which you carry with you? Has there ever been a whole world…

Kissed by Charles A. Gramlich

Kissed Charles A. Gramlich In the dry wend of a lost river, sotted with visions, I lie peyote-kissed. This world is bejeweled, texture rich, full of strange harmonics. A congress of cacti filibuster the owls. Siroccos play a threnody with dust and skulls. I…

They Burn by Charles A. Gramlich

They Burn Charles A. Gramlich In the lives of stars, thoughts are forever, never in a hurry. Time is constant luxury. In the measure of planets who only fear the sun, life is a great waltz, slow and majestic. In the world of mountains,…

Peel by Charles A. Gramlich

Peel Charles A. Gramlich Peel back the hollow and reveal the core. Show the wounded heart behind the savaged ribs. Let the shudder of angels pass through you. Let it sing like dark gods born out of stone. You will walk through the burn….

Offerings by Charles A. Gramlich

Offerings Charles A. Gramlich Beneath a locust sun, where memories stab like the fingernails of a harlequin witch… he offers his hand to the crimson lips… that shine in his eyes, the bloom whose petals rest on his tongue in a sacrament of need….

Charles and the Dodo by Jonathan Bowerman

Charles and the Dodo Jonathan Bowerman I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date! Charles stressed as he sat at his desk and blew on the end of his feathered fountain pen, chastising himself. “No, no. That simply will not do. If you…