The Shutterbug

Detective Ben Waterhouse sat on the lumpy futon in the living room reviewing his notes while the coroner finished photographing the man’s body. There wasn’t much to go on. The name on the mailbox in the lobby said the occupant of apartment seven was George Wheeler, but there was no record of a George Wheeler in any database.

The super said the man kept to himself. Twenty-two of his neighbors interviewed so far claimed they didn’t know him or his name. Most of the interviewees volunteered the man in apartment seven was ugly and that he had burn scars on the right side of his face.

The coroner left and the detective studied the body on the bed. His left hand looked like it was reaching for the cell phone. Waterhouse picked up the phone and pressed the home button. There was no passcode. He checked the man’s phone contacts. None. He checked his text messages. None. He studied the apps on the phone. The Weather Channel, Google, and a flashlight. No email. No Facebook. No Instagram. The detective tapped the photo app and let out a low whistle. Nine thousand photos. He started swiping the photos with his index finger. Hundreds of photos of women; all appeared to be strangers. He’d photographed them in the subway, in café’s, at bus stops, in museums; all public places and the majority of women were not looking at his camera. Next he tapped “Memories” and started swiping the photos again. He didn’t whistle this time.

The first woman was drinking a cup of coffee at an outdoor café. The awning said, “Get Wired.” The detective knew the place; it was on 57th Street. He swiped the next picture. It was of the same woman except she was dead. There were ‘before and after’ photos of twenty-five women. First photo alive. Second photo dead. All twenty-five had severe burns on the right side of their faces.

Photograph number twenty-six showed a young girl, he estimated she was between eighteen and twenty. Upturned nose, blue eyes, shoulder-length red hair. Pretty smile. There was no after photograph.

Back at the station house, the detective went to his superior’s office and updated him.

“There is no after picture of the last girl,” Waterhouse said. “I don’t know if he died before he could kill her, or before he could photograph her, or if she is still alive somewhere. And I don’t know where he killed the others. No record of him at DMV, no property records, no voting record. Don’t see how he could have killed them in the apartment and gotten them out without anyone seeing him.”

“Let me see,” Commander Hanson said.

He stared at the photograph and looked up ashen-faced.

“That’s my daughter,” he said.

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Win a Writing Contest This Year

pile of manuscripts

As any writer will confess, with the first day of a new year comes new resolutions to “write more,” “write daily,” “write at least five pages a day,” or “get published this year.”

You’ll never get published if you don’t submit your work. So instead of watching endless episodes of “Breaking Bad,” or all three seasons of Seinfeld’s new Internet series about comedians in cars, try submitting your work on a regular basis.

One way to get published, and to get noticed, is to win or place in a writing contest. There are hundreds of contests every year, and many of them have no entry fee.

Make a resolution to enter one writing contest a month. You might not win, but you will have honed your writing skills. With luck, you may even get some feedback on your story or your writing style.

First things first. Find websites that list writing contests, and create your own writing submission calendar. Be sure to note the pertinent details, such as the deadline and word count.

Read all of the contest guidelines; there could be a theme or keyword you must write. Pay special attention to the submission guidelines. If you don’t follow the guidelines to the letter, your story may be tossed out immediately.

Here is one website that has detailed listings of writing contests coming up in 2014:

(http://writersviews.com/writing-contests.php).

Writer’s View.com compiles and posts an up-to-date listing of writing contests all over the world. The listing is free of charge; the site encourages winners of these contests to notify them so that they can feature the author’s work on their website.

***Bonus: Writer’s Views lists only writing contests that are FREE to enter!

Sneak preview of some of their listings:

Poetry Writing Contest
Springfield Film Festival and Springfield Art Institute have united their prize budgets to offer a writing competition for all levels and all ages to submit their own original poetry about Climate Change for a two round contest … more >>
Satirist Comedy Writing Contest
looking for the next George Carlin, the man referred to as, “a major force in comedy since 1960s and there will be no substitute for his insight, nor his tireless and hilarious attacks on the enfranchised …”, more >>
Love Story Writing Contest
is a contest for romance novelists and new writers who want to try writing about the magic of love and the everlasting love between a couple and their journey into deepest emotional bond that can be experienced … more >>

What are you waiting for? Pick a contest, any contest and enter. There is no fee; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Photo credit: Huffington Post

Journal of the Written Word: Scissors & Spackle

This web site publishes a quarterly journal, online and in print. In addition to fiction, flash fiction, non-fiction and poetry, they also accept artwork and audio and visual submissions.

a journal of the written world.