Yellow Mama Archives II

E. E. Williams

Acuff, Gale
Ahern, Edward
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Aronoff, Mikki
Ayers, Tony
Baber, Bill
Baird, Meg
Baker, J. D.
Balaz, Joe
Barker, Adelaide
Barker, Tom
Barnett, Brian
Barry, Tina
Bartlett, Daniel C.
Bates, Greta T.
Bayly, Karen
Beckman, Paul
Bellani, Arnaav
Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
Beveridge, Robert
Blakey, James
Booth, Brenton
Bracken, Michael
Burke, Wayne F.
Burnwell, Otto
Campbell, J. J.
Cancel, Charlie
Capshaw, Ron
Carr, Steve
Carrabis, Joseph
Cartwright, Steve
Centorbi, David Calogero
Cherches, Peter
Christensen, Jan
Clifton, Gary
Cody, Bethany
Costello, Bruce
Coverly, Harris
Crist, Kenneth James
Cumming, Scott
Davie, Andrew
Davis, Michael D.
Degani, Gay
De Neve, M. A.
Dillon, John J.
Dinsmoor, Robert
Dominguez, Diana
Dorman, Roy
Doughty, Brandon
Doyle, John
Dunham, T. Fox
Ebel, Pamela
Fagan, Brian Peter
Fillion, Tom
Fortier, M. L.
Fowler, Michael
Galef, David
Garnet, George
Garrett, Jack
Graysol, Jacob
Grech, Amy
Greenberg, KJ Hannah
Grey, John
Hagerty, David
Hardin, Scott
Held, Shari
Hicks, Darryl
Hivner, Christopher
Hoerner, Keith
Hohmann, Kurt
Holt, M. J.
Holtzman, Bernard
Holtzman, Bernice
Holtzman, Rebecca
Hopson, Kevin
Hubbs, Damon
Irwin, Daniel S.
Jabaut, Mark
Jermin, Wayne
Jeschonek, Robert
Johns. Roger
Kanner, Mike
Karl, Frank S.
Kempe, Lucinda
Kennedy, Cecilia
Keshigian, Michael
Kirchner, Craig
Kitcher, William
Kompany, James
Kondek, Charlie
Koperwas, Tom
Kreuiter, Victor
Larsen, Ted R.
Le Due, Richard
Leotta, Joan
Lester, Louella
Lubaczewski, Paul
Lucas, Gregory E.
Luer, Ken
Lukas, Anthony
Lyon, Hillary
Mannone, John C.
Margel, Abe
Martinez, Richard
McConnell, Logan
McQuiston, Rick
Middleton, Bradford
Milam, Chris
Miller, Dawn L. C.
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
Myers, Beverle Graves
Myers, Jen
Newell, Ben
Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
Park, Jon
Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Plath, Rob
Potter, John R. C.
Prusky, Steve
Radcliffe, Paul
Reddick, Niles M.
Reedman, Maree
Reutter, G. Emil
Riekki, Ron
Robson, Merrilee
Rockwood, KM
Rollins, Janna
Rose, Brad
Rosmus, Cindy
Ross, Gary Earl
Rowland, C. A.
Saier, Monique
Sarkar, Partha
Scharhag, Lauren
Schauber, Karen
Schildgen, Bob
Schmitt, Di
Sesling, Zvi E.
Short, John
Simpson, Henry
Slota, Richelle Lee
Smith, Elena E.
Snell, Cheryl
Snethen, Daniel G.
Steven, Michael
Stoler, Cathi
Stoll, Don
Surkiewicz, Joe
Swartz, Justin
Taylor, J. M.
Temples. Phillip
Tobin, Tim
Traverso Jr., Dionisio "Don"
Turner, Lamont A.
Tustin, John
Tyrer, DJ
Varghese, Davis
Verlaine, Rp
Viola, Saira
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Al Wassif, Amirah
Weibezahl, Robert
Weil, Lester L.
Weisfeld, Victoria
Weld, Charles
White, Robb
Wilhide, Zachary
Williams, E. E.
Williams, K. A.
Wilsky, Jim
Wiseman-Rose, Sophia
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zackel, Fred
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zeigler, Martin
Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark


By E. E. Williams


The time on the clock read 3:45 a.m. when the alarm sounded. Bill was up in a flash to turn it off. He hadn’t been sleeping anyway.

Susan turned over and groaned. “Too early,” she whispered, and went back to sleep.

Bill stared down at her and thought, You won’t have to worry about it much longer.

He got up from the bed, went into the bathroom and dressed in the clothes he’d laid out the night before. Boots, insulated pants, camo shirt and jacket. Back in the bedroom, he removed his Browning Maxus shotgun from the closet. Cradling the weapon in his arms, he took a long, last look at his sleeping wife. His mouth curled into a tight, mirthless smile.

“See you soon,” he said.

She didn’t respond.

Bill made his way out of the room and down the stairs to the front foyer. Before opening the door, he grabbed his hat and earmuffs. It was cold outside.

He examined himself in the full-length mirror Susan had insisted he hang by the door so she could check herself before going out. How many times, he wondered, had she checked herself before seeing … him?

Bill left the house and walked down the driveway to where a white Honda Pilot, belching exhaust in the frigid morning air, waited for him. He climbed inside.

“Terry,” he said brusquely.

“Bill,” Terry said with a solemn nod.

Terry and his wife Trudy had moved into the neighborhood just a few months after Bill and Susan and in the six years since, the four had become fast friends. The women got together often for coffee in the mornings to discuss the things they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, share with their husbands, while the men hung out watching football, drinking beer, bowling, or, as they were doing this morning, duck hunting.

Bill thought both he and Terry looked ridiculous decked out in their camo gear, like they were off to war or something, but where they were going only the birds would notice so what did it matter. Together, the men had built a blind on an inlet of the lake where no other hunters ventured. Once there, they would be totally alone.

Which suited Bill just fine.

Terry parked the car, and the men silently slogged their way to the blind. Beyond their initial greeting, they hadn’t spoken, each man seemingly lost in his own thoughts.

Once settled into the blind, Bill said, “Quiet this morning.”

“You, too,” Terry said. “Something up?”

“Well, now that you ask, an anonymous someone sent me a picture last night.”


“Yeah. Real pornographic.”


“Yeah. Hardcore stuff.”


“You don’t seem surprised.”

“Why should I be surprised?”

“Don’t know. Your best friend tells you someone sent him some porn and all you got to say is, ‘Huh.’”

“Maybe that’s because someone sent me some pictures, too.”


“Show you mine if you show me yours,” Terry said.

Bill reached into pocket, pulled out his phone. Terry did the same. Each fiddled with their devices, held them up for the other to see.

On Bill’s phone was a picture of Susan, naked and legs spread, and between them, Terry. Terry’s phone showed an equally nude Trudy straddling Bill.

Terry leveled his Syren XL R5 Waterfowler at Bill and shouted “You sonavabi …” Bill didn’t let him finish but pulled the trigger on the Browning. As Terry was blown back by the buckshot hitting and shredding his chest, his finger reflexively yanked the Syren’s trigger. The blast removed much of Bill’s face and painted the side wall of the blind in a red mist.

The twin booms reverberated across the lake but were heard only by the V formation of ducks flying overhead.

Later that morning, Trudy and Susan sat in Susan’s kitchen, drinking coffee.

“Did you call Terry?” Susan asked.

“Yes. He didn’t answer. You?”

Susan nodded. “Bill didn’t answer, either.”

They smiled at one another.

“You think it worked?” Trudy asked, fingering one of the tight coils of the auburn hair that bunched at her shoulders. “Are they both dead?”

“I do, and yes,” Susan said. “I’ve gotten pretty good at Photoshop. I could have put a donkey in those pictures, and you wouldn’t be able to tell.”

“What if …”

“… one of them is still alive? He’ll be spending the rest of his days in prison for murder.”

“The police?”

“What about them? We weren’t there.”

“The pictures?”

“Already wiped. I’ve also gotten pretty good at hacking phones. It's amazing what you can learn on the Internet.”

Trudy leaned across the breakfast table, gently tucked back a stray strand of Susan’s blonde mane, and softly kissed her lips.

“That’s why I love you, baby.”

“Need to shut down that fake email account, though,” Susan said. “Just to be on the safe side.”

Trudy stood and began unbuttoning her blouse.

“Later,” she said. “Let’s go upstairs and take some more pictures.”





It started to rain for the third time that morning. Jackson Horn stared out the window at the gray titanium clouds, and the rain streaking the glass. It was a dreary start to a dreary day, in a dreary week, in a dreary month, and, if Horn was being completely honest, a dreary existence.

His last job had been catching a tech mogul’s wife in flagrante delicto with her tennis instructor, a cliché in what had become a lifetime of clichés. Horn had tracked her for three weeks and eventually provided the tech guy with a list of flagrante hotel rooms, inns, apartments, and tavern restrooms, as well as delicto photos, audio files of phone calls, and transcripts of the conversations to which he’d listened in on with a directional mic.

Presented with the evidence of his wife’s infidelity the mogul grew furious. With Horn. Refused to pay the remainder of Horn’s fee. Told him he could sue. Horn could, of course. He had a contract. Signatures and fine print and everything. Ironclad. But the mogul’s pockets were deeper than Horn’s. Much deeper. So, one hundred twenty hours of wading through the muck of humanity disappeared down the drain.

Thirty years ago, this wasn’t the way Horn had seen his life going. He’d just mustered out of the Army and wanted nothing more than to be a famous private eye, like the ones in novels and movies. Philip Marlowe. Mike Hammer. Jake Gittes. There would be book deals about his cases. Movie offers.

That was the plan.


Now, here he was, trailing adulterers through back alleys, bedbug hotel rooms and sleazy bars that stank of booze and desperation.

That’s who Jackson Horn was when someone rapped on his office door, the one with JACKSON HORN stenciled on the pebbled glass. Jackson Horn wasn’t his real name, but at the time he’d started being a “Private Detective,” as it read under his name, he thought it had a sexy ring to it.

The knock tugged at Horn’s reverie but didn’t pull him completely out. Fat raindrops slithered down the window, dividing once, twice, three times and branching crazily left and right. It was hypnotic. Each tributary was a different path Horn’s life could have taken. This branch, he was a doctor. That one, a lawyer. That one? Maybe an investment banker making million-dollar deals.

A second more insistent thump on the door finally jerked Horn out of his stupor.

“Come in,” he said in a voice loud enough to be heard out in the hallway.

There was a moment’s hesitation before the knocker stepped into the office. He was in his early thirties, dressed in black jeans, a soft blue Orvis t-shirt and blood red Nike sneakers. He had one of those local TV weatherman faces: Not handsome, not ugly, but vaguely recognizable in a bland sort of way.

Horn stood and offered his hand. The young man took it and squeezed, somewhat harder than he should have. Nerves, thought Horn. Not uncommon when hiring a private detective.

“Erik Thornton,” the young man said by way of introduction.

“Jackson Horn. How can I help you, Mr. Thornton?”

“Please, Erik. With a K,” he said, glancing around the chaotic mess of an office, where precariously leaning towers of paperback mystery novels were stacked in various corners of the cramped room and sheaths of crumpled notes and wrinkled correspondence appeared to be vomited up by Horn’s desk.

Horn thought he detected a slight downturn at the corners of the young man’s mouth, but it was there and gone in an instant replaced by an easy smile.

“Okay, Erik with a K. Same question. How can I help you?”

Horn was expecting the usual. I think my wife is cheating on me … I need you to follow my girlfriend … I have to blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah-blah, blah-blah. The script rarely changed.

But Erik with a K surprised him.

“I’m looking for my father,” he said.

Gesturing for Thornton to take the chair, Horn opened a notebook, clicked open a pen and asked, “Your dad? He’s missing?”

Thornton shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Maybe.”

“You don’t know if he’s missing?”

Thornton’s lips thinned as he sought the right words.

“I … I never knew him. He abandoned my mother before I was born. So, I really can’t say he’s missing missing, but, you know, maybe. Could be he’s missing from wherever he is now.”

Horn stared at Thornton, wondering if the man was pulling his leg.

“I’m not really putting this very well,” Thornton said. “As I say, I never knew my dad. I don’t even know his name.”

“Your mother never told you his name?”


Thornton spat the word like it was vinegar on his tongue.

Wind continued to whip rain against the window, and something tickled the back of Horn’s brain. There was something familiar about Erik with a K, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Do we know one another, Erik?”

Thornton gave Horn a dead-eyed stare and said, “No.”

“Right … so, you don’t know your father’s name. How about the year he left your mom?”

“I’m thirty-three. Figure it out.”

Thornton’s tone had taken a sudden left turn. He’d started off pleasantly enough if a little goofy. Now his voice had an edge sharp enough to slice through Horn’s desk.

“Sure,” Horn said. “Thirty-three years ago, then. Where were you born? I can check birth records, maybe get your father’s name from that. Use it as a starting point.”

“Don’t know.”

“You don’t know where you were born?”

“We moved around a lot, my mother and I. She didn’t offer up a lot of details about my … background.”

Horn sighed.

“Let’s come at this a different way,” he said. “What was your mother’s name?”


“Greta Thornton …”

“Michaels,” Thornton said, interrupting. “Greta Michaels.”

“And your last name is Thornton? Why?”

“Because I didn’t want to keep her name one minute longer than I had to,” Thornton said, his voice rising.

Well, this is definitely off script, thought Horn. “If I may, why not?”

“Because she was a crazy freaking bitch, is why. Because she was a drunk. Because … because of this.”

Thornton yanked aside the collar of his shirt to reveal puckered rounds of white scar tissue. Horn’s gut clenched.

“Cigarette burns,” Thornton said.

 “Why?” Horn asked. “Why would your mother do …?”

“You’re really not much of a detective, are you?” Thornton said with a sneer.

Bewildered, Horn said, “Look, Mr. Thornton, I’m not sure where this sudden hostility is coming from, but …”

Thornton’s face purpled with rage.

“You don’t know where this hostility is coming from? Let me tell you. It’s coming from the fact my mother was so destroyed when my father abandoned her, that he threw her away like yesterday’s garbage, it broke her. She spent the rest of her life taking it out on me.”

Thornton rocketed out of his chair and paced the room. What was it that made him so familiar, Horn wondered. The piercing gray eyes? The nose slightly too large for his face?

Then it hit him, a sucker punch to the jaw.

“I wasn’t truthful with you,” Thornton said, turning to confront Horn.

Horn tried to say something. Anything. His mouth opened and closed but the words stuck in his throat. A line of sweat beaded across his forehead.

“My mother did tell me my father’s name,” Thornton said. “His real name.”

Like magic, a gun appeared in Thornton’s hand. It was small and compact, yet for Horn the barrel yawned as wide and black as a mountain tunnel.

“It was James Wilson,” Thornton said. “Jimmy Wilson back then. He picked my mother up in a bar. Took her back to her apartment. Left the next morning before she woke up. Put fifty dollars on the nightstand. She never saw him again and never ever got over that he thought she was no better than a cheap whore. It sent her down a very dark alley she never found her way out of. I blame him for that and everything that came after.”

The gun jumped in Thornton’s hand, and Horn suddenly found himself slammed onto the floor, flat on his back. There was a burning sensation in his chest and then a searing pain that grew with each passing second until it consumed his entire body. He tried to grab a breath but there was no air.

“When you get to hell,” Thornton said, “say hello to mom. Don’t bother telling her I’m sorry for cutting her throat. Because I’m not. Goodbye … Jimmy.”

Then Erik with a K was gone. As the office door creaked shut, memories flooded back to Horn. Lawton, Oklahoma. Fort Sill. A pretty brunette at Rooster’s bar, drinking alone. Lovely gray eyes. Easy, ruby-lipped smile. Nose just slightly too large for her face. Greta. Greta was her name.

Horn felt something liquid and warm trickle down his ribs and begin to pool beneath him. Blood. His blood.

Greta, he mouthed silently. Erik.

As the light dimmed around him, Horn’s eyes shifted upwards to the window where rivulets of rain still branched crazily left and right. Left and right. Left and …


E. E. Williams is a former journalist who worked at some of the country’s largest and best newspapers, including the New York Daily News, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Fresno Bee. At his last two newspapers—The Muncie Star Press and Cherry Hill Courier Post—he was both Executive Editor and General Manager.

During his 42-year career, he won numerous national and regional awards for his writing and editing. His first two Noah Greene mystery novels were published by a small North Carolina independent publisher that has since gone out of business. (Not his fault, we don’t think.) The third book in the series was published on the Amazon Kindle platform.

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