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Death comes for us all.

Keep her as your friend.

 Read "La Santisima"

What's New:

Miserere is now available at Audible.

My short story "Naked the Night Sings" is only one of the many fine stories in the urban fantasy anthology Manifesto: UF, edited by Tim Marquitz and Tyson Mauermann, Angelic Knight Press, 2013.


"Filled with show me now and tell me later prose, [Miserere] was one of the finest debuts of 2011 and remains a novel that I remember details from nearly three years later." Justin Landon, Tor.com

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« Gender Bending Entry #6 by Kyle Schuler | Main | Gender Bending Entry #4 by Jackson Harris »

Gender Bending Entry #5 by S.A. Daniels

Some of you have questioned whether we (the authors) are deliberately trying to trick you, so for the record:

Several authors submitted pieces they had lying around. I asked only that they choose something that would not easily be identified with their writing style. Fans can easily pick up on an author's voice, and since several of the authors are very well known, I didn't want people recognizing specific writing styles.

When an author didn't have something lying around, they wrote a piece just for this blog, primarily because we knew that once it hit the interwebs, it would become a freebie for everyone.

We took a brief hiatus for the holidays; however, I'm back now and will be running posts until we reach the end of the contest. Please keep your comments focused on the question at hand.

As always, please don't break my website.

Here we go ...

READ THIS FIRST: The rules and the prizes. Your mission: comment on whether you believe the author of this excerpt is male or female.

Untitled by S.A. Daniels

The woman in the doorway of the small grocery leveled an uncertain frown at us as we crossed the street. Brown hair heavily streaked with gray had been pulled back into a stubby ponytail. Her denim capris looked to be about a size too small, but her dark blue t-shirt—emblazoned with Mirelle’s Grocery on the upper left—was large enough to hang halfway down her thighs. “Sabina Moore?” I asked as soon as I was on the sidewalk.

“That’s me,” she replied. Sweat dotted her upper lip, and her complexion seemed pallid. Maybe what I’d taken earlier as a disapproving frown was more a grimace of anxiety and upset. “You wanna talk to me about the dead man?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “I’m Detective Alan Taylor, and this is Detective Rick O’Cull.”

A frown puckered her forehead. “I already told the other cops what I saw.” She lifted her chin toward St. Cyr and Simpson.

“We’d like to hear your account for ourselves,” O’Cull said, tone friendly and soothing. “We only need a few minutes of your time.”

She looked him over, seemed to be satisfied with what she saw. Clean cut, kind smile. Nice-looking with dark hair and blue eyes. O’Cull could be a tight-ass neat freak, but he knew how to charm a witness. “Sure, that’s fine,” she said then glanced over at me. “Sure,” she repeated, though this time she didn’t sound as if she was.

“Why don’t we go inside,” I suggested, partly because I didn’t want to conduct an interview out on the sidewalk, and mostly because I could feel the air-conditioned air flowing out around her, and I hated sweating this early in the morning.

She turned and entered the store, the denim between her thighs hissing with each step she took toward the front check-out stand. “There’s an office but there ain’t no room for all of us in there,” she said, looking back at us as we followed her in. “Barely enough room for me,” she added with a wheezing laugh. “I hope y’all are okay with standing out here.”

“That’s fine,” I replied. It wasn’t an issue since there was no one else in the store yet. “Can you tell us what happened this morning?”

She blew out her breath, crossed her meaty arms over her breasts as she leaned back against the counter. “I live about half a mile from here—walk here every day. No car,” she explained, looking to O’Cull. He gave her a sympathetic nod and she continued. “I always cut through the alley, but today I come out of there and the first thing I saw was that man lying sprawled on his back.” Her throat bobbed as she swallowed. “I didn’t touch him, ’cause I saw all the blood. I could see he was dead. I called nine one one and then came right over here.” She uncrossed her arms and spread her hands. “And that’s pretty much it.”

“Did you see anyone else in the alley or the parking lot?” O’Cull asked.

“No. Just me.”

“Have you ever seen that man before?”

Her lips pressed together as she considered. “No. Don’t think so. And I know that car wasn’t in the lot when I left last night.”

“And what time was that?” he asked.

“Nine o’clock.”

I looked toward the door, then back to her. “Ms. Moore, the hours on the door say that the grocery closes at ten.”

She swallowed, gave a jerky nod. “I wasn’t feeling too good, and there was no one here so I closed up early.”

“I see. The hours also say you open at five a.m. Yet you didn’t call nine one one until after six.”

A droplet of sweat snaked down her temple. “I was running late. I was still feeling bad. I ain’t been sleeping too good.” She gulped and hunched her shoulders. “I was running late,” she muttered.

I gave her a reassuring smile. She looked anything but reassured.

“One more question, Ms. Moore,” O’Cull said gently. She yanked her attention to him like a drowning man seizing a life buoy. “Do you always work from five a.m. until ten p.m. here?”

Some of the tension left her, and she shook her head. “No, the owner—Mirelle Jefferson—she works the mornings most of the time, but her daughter just had a baby, and she’s in Mississippi for a few days.”

“I see,” he said. He glanced my way, and I gave him a slight shake of my head to let him know I didn’t have any other questions. “Ms. Moore, we appreciate your time.” He pulled a business card from his notebook and handed it to her. “If you think of anything else that you think might aid our investigation, please give me a call.”

She took the card, gave him a weak smile. She didn’t look my way.

We left the grocery, closed the door behind us. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sabina Moore flip the sign over to Open. “You think she was telling the truth about why she didn’t call until after six?” O’Cull asked.

I nodded. “It would have still been dark at five a.m., and there aren’t any lights in that lot. I don’t think she’d have seen the body that early.”

He considered that for a few seconds. “That makes sense. Good thing she was feeling sick, I guess.”

I didn’t answer. Sabina Moore probably felt sick because she was going to have a fatal heart attack in the next couple of days. Sabina Moore needed to see a doctor as soon as possible, because if she did so, it would very likely save her life. But I didn’t turn around to tell her to go see her doctor. I didn’t go back and give her some story about how I had a aunt who’d had a heart attack and how she’d felt tired and sick too, how she’d had the same sallow expression and tremor in her hands.

I had rules about that sort of thing.

I continued across the street and didn’t look back at Sabina Moore. I knew she was still watching me—like the rabbit watches the coyote to make sure it’s really leaving, to be certain that it’s found other prey.

It was almost a relief to return to the comforting peace of the dead man.

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Reader Comments (81)

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Weimer (@princejvstin)
I think this is written by a woman
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDominick Swennen
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Auffrey
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Smith
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCD Covington
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterProtected
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi
This is the first entry where I've had any doubts. I'll WAG it and say male.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCyrus
Guess female.
Lynn :D
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
I have no idea. But I'll go with female.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmmanuel Sanya
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenni
I'm gonna guess male because most of the descriptive text is visual in nature and the last few paragraphs remind me of noir stuff which tends to be male dominated (I think). The more I reread this, the more I lean towards male.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterclerian
Guessing male.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKarmin
Female...not sure if reasoned guessing is any better than random chance. A good author lets the characters talk without the author's own baggage gender or otherwise.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Knowlton
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris v
Went back and forth on this one, but I'm guessing female.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMC
I think this is a male. I can't say why this time - a gut feeling, I suppose.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuniper
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJean
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMerc
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermegazver
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrilby
Female. Mom and step-son think it's a woman.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean Lambert
I'd guess Male.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterperiklis begzos
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGhryswald
I really don't know.. I guess a man wrote it... I do know that I'd love to read the rest of the story!!
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLonnie
Male based off which details are getting attention. It seems very procedural to me.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Douton
Tough call, but male, because I've never read a female writer who says characters cross their arms over their breasts, or under them, or in any other way relating to their breasts. They just cross their arms. But there's a first time for everything and I wouldn't be surprised it I turn out to be wrong!
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie
My vote is female. Because when I read the line "I'm Detective Alan Taylor" I was surprised the narrator was male.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Dionne
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShane
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina Vourvoulias
I'm stumped. I can't find any of what I'd consider tells, and tells are not trustworthy in any case. I'll say male on a hunch.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThom
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSL Hass
This was a tough one.

Many of the descriptions came across as male, but the writer had a lot of what I consider female phrasing, and some of the descriptions came across as female as well. Denim capris instead of pants, for example.

The more I read it, the more I think it's female, but I'm going with my initial gut feel.

December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren D.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternumberdance
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJillA
December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindy Callens
Written by a man.
December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNadine
December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAtrus
December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA J Winter
December 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDimSkip
December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShelly
December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie B.
December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterO'Malley
December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKris J.
December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisaC
December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJo in OKC
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