It’s no secret that we enjoy Switchblade here at Broadswords and Blasters, and issue 10 is no exception. It features the usual short sharp fiction, each set apart by an illustration that really sets the mood for each piece. If there was a common theme to the issue is that diners keep popping up all over the place in the stories. I’m not complaining, but hey, writers, there are places other than diners (or bars) for people to meet up.
For Love or Money by C.W. Blackwell – Blackwell is rapidly becoming one of those writers who sells me on by an anthology he’s included in, and this short is no different. A married couple, united in crime, contemplate another job while in a diner. Except the woman has her own plans, and the guy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. If I have any misgivings about the piece is that it could easily have been the cap for a longer work.
The Nature of Nuture by Serena Jayne Cynthia likes rough sex and crime in about equal measure. But what happens when what passes for maternal instinct kicks in when a young boy catches her and her partner in the middle of crime?
Greaser Jack by Eddie McNamara An old man dying triggers the narrator’s memories of what happens when the neighborhood tough guy did a favor for him, showing him what it means to stand up fro yourself and picking a fight, even if it knows you are going to lose.
Bad Coffee and the Bomb by Jim Towns This story is easily the most Twilight Zone-esque piece that I’ve read in Switchblade, and as such it threw me off at first given that this zine tends to go for the more grounded stories. That said, a snow storm leads a man with a secret to a roadside diner in the middle of nowhere and a chance encounter with a man who can see all of time… including when the world will end But the question becomes, if he’s not around to see it, will it still happen? An interesting take on observer effect and how what we think is inevitable isn’t always.
Roadside Diner by N.W. Barcus Sheila runs drugs, cigarettes, and sometimes people over the US-Canada border ends up stopping at a roadside diner because her partner just can’t wait. Unfortunately, it turns out that diner is the honeypot for a gang of organ runners, and Sheila’s partner is their latest mark. So what’s a gal to do when she’s on her own? Well, Sheila might not be smart, but she knows how to be thorough… and the gang messed with the wrong woman.
Perry, the Red Haired Girl, and the Gangster by Christian Goss – Perry is after the best Reuben Sandwich he knows of at Langers, but he’s got to go through a rough neighborhood to get there, and on the bus. Along the way he meets a gangbanger who wants to make a sale (hey, diapers don’t pay for themselves) and a woman who’s big into Communism. You know, some days you really are better off walking.
Exit Schulz by Tim V. Decker – A hitter is involved with his boss’ daughter, only she’s stealing from her daddy. And yeah, the boss knows what they’re up to, and the hitter’s best friend gets in the mix too. So what’s a guy like that going to do when he’s asked to track down a thief and it call comes down to a gun? I especially enjoyed the local Maryland flavor thrown in to spice things up. It’s not every day I see a story name drop Dundalk.
Killing Raskolnikov by Gene Breaznell – A con fresh out of prison goes to work for a recycling gig, turning old books and other paper into new paper. The Russian woman who runs the machine is intriguing, and they bond over “Crime and Punishment.” But she knows something about the con, and that little secret could end up bringing them both down.
Throw the Fight by Beaumont Rand – Jackie’s a boxer, and her father is her manager. So when he tells her he’s got a sure thing and all she has to do is throw a fight, well, then she’ll get the doll her daughter so desperately wants, right? But everybody has wants, and not everyone plays nice in the end.
Can’t Win for Losing by Jim Wilsky – A armored car robbery that goes sideways, and a criminal who puts his trust in the wrong kind of friends. But when you make a lifetime of betrayal, why should anyone trust you at the end of the day.
Last Stand at the Rough Riders Roadside Old Town & Gun Fight Museum by Timothy Friend – A guy is stuck playing outlaw at a ratty roadside attraction, but hey, at least the girl that runs the souvenir stand is pretty and seems to like him well enough. Then it all goes wrong, where he ends up getting suckered as part of a plan to rob the owner. Some times being a quick draw expert isn’t enough to be a hero.
Switchblade #10 is available on Amazon here.