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…

Episode 10: A Familiar Face

Fragrant smoke wafted over Cole as he sat cross-legged by the crackling brushwood fire. He warmed his palms against the flames and rested his uneasy gaze on the lip of the ravine. Above, the stars turned slowly across the darkened sky, remote and silent…

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…

The Case of the Wolf and Three Pigs by Charles C Cole

The Case of the Wolf and the Three Pigs Charles Cole As an in-demand private detective, I rarely get weekends or holidays or evenings off. Neither do my clients. “No rest for the weary,” my mother used to say. I live in a world…

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…

Episode 9: Stranger in the Wilderness

The walls of the Splinter Rock shook, the ancient gatehouse of the mountain passes shuddering under a renewed assault. Cole felt the battlements quake beneath his feet. The catapult stones were not arcing in across the alpine valley anymore. Instead, it was as if…

Episode 6: To Stand Against the Throne

Under the blaze of the noon-time sun, they mingled with the throngs filling the road to Duke Henry’s castle, the Splinter Rock. Cole soaked in the sights and sounds of the busy route. All sorts crowded the winding mountain track as it traced the…

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…

Episode 4: By Force if Necessary

From across the meadow, a column of horsemen approached in two neat lines. At least fifteen in all, they were armored neck to boot-cuff in glittering chainmail. The tabards draped over their armor bore a black and yellow striped pattern that reminded Cole of…

Episode 3: The Sellsword’s Prize

From the shade of a canvas tarpaulin stretched between two spears a warrior stumbled to her feet, groggy and sweating under the weight of her padded gambeson. She strained her eyes against the noon-time sun as two strangers crossed the meadow, then roused her…

Episode 2: The Monster’s Trail

The sparse oaks of the foothills gave way to thick stands of highland cedar. The air was tinged with the fragrant scent of the conifer forest, and Cole stopped to take in the high-country air. He and Eleanor had gone three leagues before the…

The Curse-Wrought Beast

Episode 1: The Curse-Wrought Beast Burnt grass crumpled under the tracker’s boot sole as he picked his way past the stockade. He brushed a hand against the charred cedar stakes, and it came away covered in soot. The sights, the smells in this place,…

Greetings From My Side of the Veil by Charlie C Cole

Greetings From My Side of the Veil Charlie C Cole Hello, mysterious unseen world beyond the veil! I’ve heard much about you over the centuries, but never thought of actually making contact. If you’re reading this, then it was more than worth the rather…

Interview with a Sea Monster by Charlie Cole

Interview with a Sea Monster Charlie Cole The dripping gorgon – What else would you call something so shocking it froze humans in their tracks? – stood just off-shore, hesitating, seemingly transfixed, as six-foot waves lapped over its scaly ankles, staring down at the…