Dirty Magick Anthology, Book Two
Editor Charlie Brown
Genre: urban fantasy/crime hybrid
Publisher: Lucky Mojo Press
Date of Publication: 5/8/2015
Number of pages: 309
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Trent Oubre
"Dirty Magick: New Orleans" continues the urban fantasy anthology series exploring the crossroads between magic and crime. Set in "The City That Care Forgot," this book covers back alleys of the French Quarter, the hidden corridors of Storyville, the weird voodoo in the backyards of Treme and whatever those old Victorians are hiding. Featuring such established authors as Rhonda Eudaly, Terry Mixon and Scott Roche, as well as the continuing editorial hand of Charlie Brown, this book sweeps away the swampy myths for some hardboiled partying.
Excerpt from the Introduction: Hiding In Myth’s Shadows: New Orleans’s Complicated Relationship With Truth
On a moonlit night in late fall, the fog lowers onto Jackson Square, clinging to the street lamps and bathing the ancient cobblestones with a soft ambience. These moments show how magical New Orleans can be, how it is a world separate from the known.
On any night and in any part of town, those same streets can be bathed in revolving red and blue glares, police creating a barricade to investigate violent crime, maybe multiple-victim murders of wasted youth.
The sad truth about New Orleans is everything that makes it great simultaneously makes it awful. The laissez-faire attitude can devolve into lawlessness, the celebratory drinks carried through the streets can flip into fistfights and the culture’s uniqueness can squeeze itself into parochial arguments about who and what is authentic.
But one fact remains. New Orleans is about the show. Bourbon Street’s constant carnival draws visitors eager to drop cash on illicit pleasures. Fancy restaurants offer service so perfect that it’s impossible to tell when that water glass refilled. Few weekends go by without some sort of parade.
And yet, we keep many secrets. We’re free with the house wine, but reserve the good stuff for ourselves. The best meal may not be served by the black-coat-white-shirt set, but out of an old woman’s kitchen deep in back of town. And this is where the magick happens.
About the Author, Editor and Publisher:
Charlie Brown is a writer and filmmaker from New Orleans. He currently lives in Los Angeles, where he recently received his Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and also runs Lucky Mojo Press and Mojotooth Productions. He has made two feature films: “Angels Die Slowly” and “Never A Dull Moment: 20 Years of the Rebirth Brass Band.” His fiction has appeared in Conium Review, Oddville Press, Writing Disorder, Jersey Devil Press, The Menacing Hedge, Aethlon, and what?? Magazine, plus the anthology "Dimensional Abscesses."
All The Pretty Little Horses
Michael Ashleigh Finn
Excerpt All the Pretty Little Horses:
It was always about the music.
The first time I’d heard New Orleans’ special blend of jazz, I had been sent to the city by Winesap to look into the man behind a string of murders in 1919, in which the music played a pivotal role. Ever since, I’d made sure that if I came anywhere near the city in my travels, I’d swing by to get an earful before going on my way. There’s a soul to the sliding bend and weave of the notes that’s just mesmerizing.
It was on one such visit that Baba Ghede found me.
I was tasting the local spiced rum and enjoying a slow rendition of an old old southern lullaby being crooned out by a woman, accompanied by bass and sax.
Hush-a-bye, don’t you cry,
Go to sleepy little baby
A slender man slid onto the seat next to me, skin dark as pitch. He was cocky in demeanor, and his grin nearly split his face in two. “Why, as I live and breathe, is that a Wormwood I see before me? What Christian name are you using these days?”
I looked sideways at the man. “Josiah, same as the last time, Baba.” His family and I go back a ways. “You’re looking in good spirits.”
He spread his arms wide, barely missing someone juggling drinks away from the bar. “Have I no reason to be?”
I took a sip. “In my experience, meetings with you and yours are seldom accidental.”
He cocked his head and peered at me, some of the joyous demeanor dissipating. “I remember you being more fun.”
He wanted something, and was trying on the charm of a salesman. It didn’t suit him. I took another sip. “What can I do for you, Babaco?”
His hands made placating gestures. “Alright, alright. We do need your help. But not here, we need to discuss this in private.”
“I like this seat. Spill.”
He leaned forward and hissed in my ear. “The Loa are missing.”
I slipped off my stool and followed him into a back room.
About the Author:
Michael Ashleigh Finn writes his shorts from Houston, Texas. The protagonist here can also be found getting into trouble in "Dirty Magick: Los Angeles", and is worming his way into nascent novel. In addition to his shorts, he's a consultant for the Hugo nominated "Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files" comics from Dynamite Press and the "Mana Punk" role-playing game from Hot Goblin.
Last Dance In Storyville
Excerpt Last Dance In Storyville:
You couldn’t cross Basin Street without feeling like you were entering another world.
George Frontenac stepped over a horse plop, paused to let a police wagon pass, then stepped quickly out of the way of a gleaming red Model A as it growled its way up the street. He didn’t entirely trust the newfangled machines. It was shaping up to be a noisy and boisterous new century.
He reached the far sidewalk, and just like that, all respectability was left behind. He was in Storyville now, where vice was king and the law looked the other way.
A flash of color caught his eye, and he turned to watch a young woman in an elegant blue dress making her way across the street. She wore boots with mud still clinging to them, the fancy dress at odds with the almost masculine swing of her hips. She moved like a farm girl, with a no-nonsense stride that said she meant to get where she was going and that was that.
When she reached the sidewalk near him, however, that changed. She set down a pair of dainty Mary Janes, stepping out of her boots and into the shoes. When she picked up the boots, making them look somehow delicate in her slender hand, she was suddenly an elegant lady with a willowy, swaying walk. She headed down Basin Street away from him, holding the boots well away from her dress.
George followed, since he was going the same way. When she turned on Villere, he worried she’d think he was following her. At the corner of Iberville, he watched her climb the steps to Dixon’s and wondered if it was fate. He shrugged and followed her inside.
About the Author:
Brent Nichols is a Canadian writer of science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk. His stories appear in a bunch of anthologies, such as Shanghai Steam, Blood and Water, Here Be Monsters, and Tesseracts. He’s also the author of several novels and novellas, including Lord of Fire, Bert the Barbarian, and Gears of a Mad God.
Willie “Sparkles” Evans looked up at the edifice of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. It had been a number of years, almost half of his twenty six, since he’d set foot in a church. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing approaching this one. He did need sanctuary, and he’d heard holy ground was always supposed to be a safe place, even for a drugged-out, hung over hedge wizard like himself. He started across the street without looking both ways, traffic non-existent in the muggy pre-dawn. There were a few lights on inside the house of God, showing off the beautiful stained glass.
He reached into one of the pockets of his faded green Army surplus jacket and pulled out two blue tablets. He popped the pain killer in his mouth and pulled a battered silver flask from the same pocket. The cheap whisky wasn’t what he wanted to chase the ibuprofen with, but it was what he had. Cafe au lait would come after he knew he was safe. He grimaced and pushed on the door.
“Locked? When did they start locking churches?” A sudden sense he was being watched made him want to be anywhere but outside. He touched the door’s lock with his finger. “Open, says me.” There was a click and he rushed through the now-unlocked door into the cool air of the nave beyond. He made sure the door was locked behind him before moving on.
The lights overhead were turned almost all the way down. Candles flickered here and there. He grabbed a few brochures from a rack near the door, hoping they would tell him something useful. He scanned them, and they gave a brief history of the building, but that was all. He didn’t need the history lesson right now and tucked the brochures into his other jacket pocket, next to what was left of last night’s spliff.
He took a moment to look around. The ceiling was crazy high, and the benches were gorgeous things made of wrought iron. He walked past the font of holy water and dipped his fingers in. He flicked the water into his own face, hoping it would wake him up a little. “Hello? Anyone in here?”
His words echoed back to him. The place was deserted. “Maybe I can catch a few winks and go to the nearest crowded café.” He still wasn’t sure why he was being chased or who was chasing him. It could have been nothing more than his own personal demons, but drunk or straight he had never beenthis paranoid without reason.
If he could just spot who it was, he’d call his sister, the detective. She’d ream him out in good fashion, but then she’d listen and maybe he could crash on her couch for a day or two while she looked into it. Until he could identify them, it wouldn’t do any good. She’d chalk it up to his penchant for telling stories and ask him when he was going to get his shit together.
Halfway down the center aisle, he saw the crucifix. They were the creepiest fucking things. Christians complained about Islam being a religion of violence, but they seemed to forget that a man on a massive torture device hung in the middle of theirs. He looked closely at the artifact. He’d always thought Christ was supposed to be naked. This guy was wearing all black. He had the crown of thorns and blood-smeared face Willie always heard about, but the blood looked wet in the candlelight.
When he smelled blood and shit, he realized this particular torture victim was flesh and bone and not a wooden representation. Now he had a reason to call Helen. He just had to find a phone.
About the Author:
Some creatures feed on blood and revel in the screams of their prey. Scott Roche craves only caffeine and the clacking of keys. He pays his bills doing the grunt work no one else wants to take, bringing dead electronics back to life and working arcane wonders with software. His true passion is hammering out words that become anything from tales that terrify to futuristic worlds of wonder. All that and turning three children into a private mercenary army make for a life filled with adventure.
The Sacred Marriage of Etienne McCray
Kirsten M. Corby
Excerpt The Sacred Marriage of Etienne McCray
The next couple of days were weird. He was off the next day, and called in sick the day after. He wouldn’t be able to avoid work forever, but maybe by the time he went back the bruises would go down.
But that wasn’t the real issue. He kept seeing things. Hearing things. The city had changed. Or he had. Or he was going crazy. A building in the middle of Royal Street that had collapsed the year before was suddenly standing again – or an image of it was, the building as it had once been, clean new brick and fresh whitewash, instead of the crumbled ruin. He found if he tried hard enough he could still see the empty lot, the piles of neglected bricks no one had hauled away. But when his concentration lapsed, the ghost building was there again.
Other buildings had upper stories they hadn’t had; alleys that never existed opened off streets he had walked his whole life. And there were … people in those streets. Creatures. A businessman with a briefcase, a bespoke suit, and arching white angel’s wings on his back, rustling softly as he hurried down Iberville Street. At the mouth of one of the alleys, a vévé, a voodoo sigil, was scrawled in white chalk – he saw something hovering about it, a shadowy cloud watching him with perfectly human brown eyes.
Snakes crawled out of the sewers and climbed the wrought iron lampposts downtown, hissing softly, watching him as he passed, their eyes glowing like fire.
On some crazed impulse, he went at midnight to the door in Exchange Alley, across from the precinct – the door that had never been there before – and banged on it for several minutes.
The being that answered could only be called a loup-garou. Bipedal, towering over him, covered in a thick gray pelt, with the body of a man and the head of a wolf.
Its red tongue lolled out between its sharp white teeth. “Been expecting you,” it growled.
Steve’s nerve broke and he ran, ran all the way back to Frenchmen Street, his own neighborhood. He didn’t sleep that night, but spent it taking scalding hot showers and forcing himself to throw up, trying to purge this madness from his body.
About the Author:
Kirsten Corby is a writer and librarian who works for the public library and lives in the Irish Channel in New Orleans.
Paul K. Ellis
Excerpt Glass Darkly:
The crimson spray arched gracefully up the wall and across ceiling from the window to the overhead light. Deep, dark, almost black at the curtains to a somewhat brighter shade of maroon near the bulbs told of a day or so drying time.
If it weren’t for the copper tang in the air, you might think it was paint.
Thank goodness for the cold, the coldest October in New Orleans in over one hundred fifty years. Kept the flies away. And, the maggots.
The bedroom, well, the only room in the chef’s flop was tore up, and not like the bulls had given it a once over, either. That mess would’ve looked like it had a purpose. This mess looked like an alligator had been let loose. Except there was no bloody swath where the gator had dragged it’s snack back to the bayou. And no clawed and broken door. In fact, the only thing in the room that appeared truly broken was the vanity mirror set on the wall near the window. From the smears on the cracked glass, it looked like the crimson painter had been shoved into it with significant force. Where that body was now was anyone’s guess.
And yeah, the neighbors had heard nothing.
That I intuited, in large part because NOPD wasn’t camped out. Which was a good thing, since my peeper’s license had expired. And wasn’t any good in Louisiana. I toed through the debris on the floor, shaking my head. The things we do for family.
I heard a metallic clinking while pushing a clump of wadded-up lingerie aside. I squatted on my heels and prodded at the clump with a pencil I’d pulled out of my jacket pocket. The wad fell apart, and I used the pencil to pick up a small, delicate chemise by its very thin straps. Far too small to fit on the chef’s arm, much less over his head. So, Justin had a honey on the side. I’m sure his wife would be thrilled. I shook it. The noise makers fell out, and disappeared into the folds of the clothing strewn on the floor. After pawing around a little more in the unmentionables, I came up with an earring shaped like a crescent moon, with a small, stylized star nestled in the inner curve. Yeah, I recognized it. I’d seen it’s mate earlier this morning.
Hooked on one of the moon’s points was a tie bar. I unhooked it from the earring and gave it a gander. It was an expensive piece of frippery. ‘R.’ ‘D.’ Gaudy initials on sterling silver, and, at the time he bought it, worth more than the owner made in a month. So, his wife paid for it. Out of the food budget. ‘R.’ ‘D.’ Renny Dupre.
I swore. I wasn’t being paid. Good thing; nothing was enough to put up with this.
“Lose sumting, mister?”
My skin crawled, not so much because someone snuck up on me, as my reaction to that old black magic. Contrary to Louie and Keely, it wasn’t love I was feeling. No, I had felt this over a year ago in Los Angeles, when I had my unfortunate run-in with the Nain Rouge. Okay, yeah, a little because he snuck up on me, too.
I looked up from the floor to the jimmied and opened doorway. Leaning against the jam, sucking his teeth, was a short little guy. His white hair puffed around his dome like a delicate dandelion, but his hands were meat hooks. I noticed only because he was busy flexing them in time with his breathing.
“Naw, I’m good,” I said, slipping the earring and tie bar into a pocket, and standing to look down on him.
He wasn’t impressed. I’d had that effect a lot, lately.
“You gonna invite old Aga Bab in, mister?” His voice was a little high, but not enough to make fun of.
“Naw,” I said again, around a slow smile. “I’m good.”
“So, I call the cops, then?” He waved his hand in a through-away motion.
“Fine with me, sport.” No, it wasn’t fine with me. I was itching that “conjuring itch” all over and wanted the little prick gone. I had a feeling he wanted the cops here just about as badly as I did, so I played a hunch. “Maybe they can ask you where the chef is.”
He grimaced. “You don’t know either? So, where’s the frail?”
“What frail, sport?” I kept smiling. “You going to call the cops, or shall I?”
He stopped leaning on the doorway. “I’ve never seen a body in such a powerful hurry to stay the night as a guest of the state,” he said.
“You do give off that air,” I replied, then made a show of looking around the room. “I’ll call, then. I just saw the phone a minute ago.”
It was his turn to smile. “On second thought, I got other girls...younger girls to look after.” He stepped backwards, out of the doorway. “You take care there, Jack. Right now, you’re protected, but everything changes and we’ll meet again.”
He knew my name. Swell. My sinking feeling got worse when Shorty crammed a hat on his head, turned, and walked down the hall, his footsteps echoing back.
“Oh, and Balor sends his regards.”
That damn hat. That red Peter Pan styled hat.
How did I get into this mess?
About the Author:
Paul grew up in northern Alabama, in the crook of the Tennessee River, and moved to central Virginia in the late 70's. He has worked in food service, retail, radio and television, and in IT, most recently as a systems programmer. His work has appeared in Dirty Magick: Los Angeles, Dirty Magick: New Orleans, and Tales from the Archives. Paul's life is kept exciting by his wife and three daughters. Other than that, he's just this guy, you know?
Hugh J. O'Donnell
Excerpt Prompt Succor :
The name is Terry O’Byrne. Folks that know me call me “Sharp.” I have a keen eye, keener than most people believe. I was born in Ireland back at the turn of the century. My Gran said my generation was going to be something special, that we had a fate touched by the fair folk. She was a bit soft, my old Gran, but she was right, in the end. I have what she would’ve called “the sight.” I can see things other people cannot, or maybe just willfully ignore.
I see ghosts, naturally, but I’ve spotted many things as well: faeries, angels, demons, and a thousand others. When it first began, I thought I was going mad, and in a panic, I fled the country. In my haste, I took some favors and made some promises to some men I would have been smarter to avoid. I hoped that leaving would cure my condition, but the sight has only gotten stronger, and my new friends began making some serious demands.
That is how I ended up in New Orleans, running a charming little curio shop in the Vieux Carre. I play to the tourists, ask no questions about where my merchandise comes from, and I take on other odd jobs as my sharp eyes earn me. My primary employer is William “Big Willie” MacCarthy, boss of the Irish mob and the man that supplies the water of life that keeps The Big Muddy flowing. I take other odd jobs and requests from time to time, but the oddest one of all was in January, 1925.
It was the feast of the three kings, and New Orleans was celebrating in its own particular fashion. I was just about to close up for the night when a walking shadow stomped in. He wore an oilskin coat and a lowcrowned hat, but I could see his black shirt and white collar clearly enough.
Although he came in by himself, he wasn’t exactly alone. He was followed by a line of ghosts, each one soft and indistinct, and as colorless as a film projection. That’s usually how it is with spirits. I get the image, but most of the time, it’s like a moving picture. No color, no sound. I’ve never been able to communicate with one. The priest’s ghosts were a line of little old ladies who clung weakly to him like mist.
The regular ghosts in the shop made themselves scarce. I haven’t had many priests in the shop, but they seemed genuinely terrified of him. I wondered what they saw that I didn’t.
“What can I do for you, Father?” I inquired as he stomped his way up to the counter. Even for a man of the cloth, he had a dour expression. The hair under his hat was white, but he didn’t look much older than thirty. But there was something about his eyes that I couldn’t put my finger on, just then.
He stared straight into me and hurried to the front, as though trying to avoid seeing any of my wares. I knew there were rumors about my store. I started most of them myself. An air of mystery is good for business in New Orleans, and the more “legitimate” sales I made, the less on the hook I was to my benefactors.
“So I’ve been called.”
He reached into his coat pocket and thrust a letter at me the way one of Willie’s goons draws a roscoe. I took the slightly damp envelope and flipped it over. “This is the Archbishop’s seal,” I said.
“Aye.” The priest continued to stare, so I pulled out my pocket knife and broke it. The letter was not very long, but it was from Archbishop Shaw himself. I read it twice, and looked the holy man in the eye.
“He might have telephoned, or used the post. This is all rather cloak and dagger.”
He grimaced at me with a most unholy look on his face. “If it was up to me, we wouldn’t be calling on someone like you at all. But your services are required by the Church. I am told that you fought for the liberation of Catholic Ireland, but no one has ever seen you at Mass. If you were a parishioner, this all could be handled quietly, but as that is not the case, we’ve taken extraordinary methods.”
About the Author:
Hugh J. O'Donnell is a writer and podcaster. He is the host and editor of The Way of the Buffalo Podcast, and his fiction has appeared in Bards and Sages Quarterly, Over My Dead Body! and others. He lives in Western New York with his spouse, cats, and shelves of obsolete video game consoles.
Knowledge Is Power
Excerpt Knowledge Is Power:
Light streamed through the hotel room windows, triggering a blinding headache. Janna blinked. Maybe not choosing the interior room was a mistake. She remembered wandering the French Quarter as the clubs opened up. The rest was a blur. The pounding increased in volume and insistency until she realized it wasn’t her head. Someone was knocking on her door.
“One moment.” Janna stumbled out of bed and slipped on her robe. Maybe she’d ordered breakfast before falling asleep?
Room service wasn’t on the other side of the door. Surly looking men in sports coats and badges stood behind a nervous-looking hotel manager.
“Janna Allen?” the lead jacket asked.
“We need you to come with us,” he said.
“Not until you identify yourself.” Janna took a solid stance. “You know better.”
“NOPD. Detective Eli Medina. Please come with us, Ms. Allen.”
“The Arcanus Magus was stolen last night. We have questions.”
Janna’s eyes widened. “Give me an hour to shower and dress–”
“You’ll come with us now, Ms. Allen. We’ll use handcuffs if necessary.”
Being on the suspect side of the interrogation table felt weird. Janna tried to breathe normally, but couldn’t stop her rising anxiety. The room didn’t help, with the bare cinderblock walls and steel furnishings. At least she’d been able to put on real clothes, if not shower. The door squealed on its hinges. Detective Medina stalked in and dropped a file folder down on the table.
“You know I’m on your side, right?” she asked.
“We’re looking into your background, Agent Allen. But that doesn’t mean you’re above suspicion. In fact, your skills with the Federal Special Investigations makes you uniquely qualified to pull off this theft.”
“Why on Earth or Ether would I steal the Arcanus Magus? I know what that book can do.”
About the Author:
Rhonda Eudaly lives in Arlington, Texas where he's ventured into several industries and occupations for a wide variety of experience. She's married with dogs and a rapidly growing Minion© army. Her two passions are writing and music, which is evident in her increasing horde of writing instruments.
Rhonda has a well-rounded publication history in fiction, non-fiction and script writing. Check out her website - www.RhondaEudaly.com - for her latest publications and downloads.
Butler’s Last Stand
Excerpt Butler’s Last Stand:
I entered the old building and climbed the stairs up to the roof access. I opened the creaking window and stepped out onto the slate-tiled roof. Looking down, I didn’t really blame Jean for not wanting to be there. The ground looked a long ways away.
I patted the hidden Butler medal I kept tucked under my shirt. It was just about the only thing I had left tying me to parents who had died when I was too young. It was my lucky charm. I hoped it would keep me from doing something stupid like falling off the roof.
The only saving grace if I did? Jean wouldn’t be able to give me a hard time about it.
The roof was slick with moisture, making footing treacherous. I inched my way toward the mystery object.
The closer I got, the fuzzier it seemed to be. I had to practically lean over top of it to get any idea what it was. When I saw it, there was no doubt though.
It was a head. More precisely, the head of a black man. Some sick bastard had impaled it on a piece of metalwork protruding from the eaves. It still looked all fuzzy, even up close. I could only guess that was because it was dark and foggy.
I took a pair of gloves out of my breast pocket and pulled them on. Then I carefully reached down to retrieve the grisly piece of evidence. My hand went right through the thing like it wasn’t even there. I almost did a header off the roof.
About the Author:
Michell (Mike) Plested is an author, editor, blogger, closet superhero (not to mention sock herder and cat wrangler) and podcaster living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the host of several podcasts including the writing podcast, Get Published, (2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014 Parsec Finalist).
His debut novel, Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero was shortlisted for the Prix Aurora Award for Best YA Novel and its sequel, Mik Murdoch: The Power Within was launched at When Words Collide 2014. He has stories and several books coming out this year (2015) including Scouts of the Apocalypse (June), and a collaborative Steampunk work, Jack Kane & the Statue of Liberty (June).
Please welcome Michell Plested to Diane’s Book Blog.
Butler’s Last Stand
by Michell Plested
I have always been fascinated with New Orleans but have never had the opportunity to visit, so when I heard about Dirty Magick: New Orleans, I knew I had to try my hand at a story.
But, how do you write a story about a place you’ve never been? That was the question that kept going through my mind as I thought of the story I wanted to tell.
In the end, I reminded myself that Charlie, the editor for the anthology, knew the city inside and out and would correct any blunders I might make (it also occurred to me that my story could be rejected out-of-hand, but I didn’t let that stop me).
I started researching the city and its rich and varied history, hoping a story would pop out at me. That began a fun exercise of research (that I normally hate). The initial idea came pretty quickly, then I had to find more information that would make the story come to live and celebrate New Orleans.
I think I found that and I was able to tell the story of a police detective who came from a long line of heroes (although he doesn’t even know it). His ties to and passion for his city make him the ideal candidate to save it from an old evil.
I particularly like the idea of old evil, too. Our world has existed for a very long time and there is always a lot going on. Things that we don’t necessarily see in our day-to-day. That ties to the saying I’ve heard on and off throughout my life, usually by busy people: a single lifetime isn’t enough to get everything I want to do, done.
Why shouldn’t that be the case for evil too?
And so, with my research in hand along with my story ideas firmly locked in my mind, I proceeded to write. What came from all that is, in my opinion at least, a fun story that leaves something to the imagination and enough loose threads I can come back to visit the city any time I want. So many wonderful stories to tell.