Tag Archives: Stanely Bruce Carter

NEW NEW *** The Extortions of Stiffani Voydalle ***NEW NEW

21 Aug

Congratulations to Stanely Bruce Carter on his new GSP release, The Extortions of Stiffani Voydalle


The Ballingers’ maid is very good at finding dirt—not just dust and grime, but the dirty little secrets the Ballinger clan desperately wants to hide. And she’s more than happy to keep those secrets—for a price. But the handsome Ballingers soon learn it takes more than money to seal the lips of Stiffani Voydalle.



“I’ve come to clean up your dirt, sir.”

Narando Ballinger stared incredulously at Stiffani Voydalle. “At this time of night?”

Stiffani smiled. “Yes, sir. I saw the light under your door, so I figured you hadn’t gone to bed yet. May I come in?”

“There’s no dirt in here. The room is spotless. And even if it weren’t, this is hardly the proper time to be tidying up. Come back in the morning.”

“Oh, but there is some dirt in here, sir. And I’d be neglecting my duties if I didn’t tend to it right away.”

“I think you’ve been working too hard, young lady. I suggest you get a good night’s sleep. Now if you’ll excuse me . . .

He started to close the door.

“If you say so, Foster Lee,” she said.

He froze. “What did you just call me?”

She put her fingers up to her mouth. “Oh, I am sorry, sir. Slip of the tongue. I got your name mixed up with your partner’s.”

His eyes narrowed. “I have no partner.”

“Not anymore. But you did. Before that unfortunate . . . accident.”

Narando studied her face. It had been pretty once—before someone cut a big scar into it, running jaggedly from her forehead clear down to her chin. But it was her eyes that captured his attention now—green eyes, feral and hungry, like those of a jungle cat stalking its prey.

He quickly swung the door open. “Get in here,” he said gruffly.

He was a handsome man, with swarthy skin and brilliantined hair and a pencil mustache, and he was nattily attired in cream colored silk pajamas with gray trim, and maroon slippers. The glowstone lamp next to his roll-top desk was alight, and a workbook full of blank music sheets lay on the blotter, with a fancy gold-plated fountain pen next to it. Some musical notes had been jotted down on the first page of the book, with a few lines of lyrics scribbled below the staves, marred by lots of cross-outs. But most of the page was empty.

Stiffani strolled toward the desk, humming a tune—Rubber Boot Blues. It was one of Narando’s compositions, perhaps his most famous.

She sat down in the dark green swivel chair and crossed her legs. Narando inspected her shapely shins, then returned to her flawed face. He licked his lips. She picked up the workbook.

“What’s your latest song about?” she asked.

He marched to the desk and snatched the book away from her, snapping it shut.

“Look, Miss Voydalle, I don’t know what you’re up to, but I wish you’d get to the point. Why did you really come up here?”

She swung around to face him, folding her hands in her lap. “To talk about Foster Lee. A remarkable lad. Earned his living scraping the barnacles off the hulls of fishing boats down in New Orleans. Used to sing little tunes he made up on the spot while he worked.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

“Isn’t it obvious, sir?”

“No. It’s not. What makes you think there’s any connection between myself and Foster Lee?

Stiffani reached into a pocket of her white apron and took out a deck of cards.

“I understand you’re good with cards,” she said. “Ever played with a deck like this?”

His eyes slitted. “Your Mumler deck. So that’s it.”

“Correct, sir. The little scrying session I held in the parlor the other night went so well, I decided to gaze into my water bowl again and see what else I could dredge up. I’ve captured it on this card, and I thought you might like to watch it, just in case your memory needed a bit of a jog.”

“How kind of you,” he said acidly.

She riffled the cards, then fanned them out. “Pick a card, any card—as long as it’s this one.” She pushed up one of the cards with her thumb.

His hand trembled as he pulled the card from the deck. It had a black back embossed with a pentagram, and the front was white, the border decorated with Celtic designs in thistle-colored ink. But the picture in the middle was not a king or queen or joker, it was Narando Ballinger himself—not a drawing, but a sepia toned photograph. A very special kind of photograph.

Stiffani traced a magical glyph in the air with a forefinger and said, “Visions of water, in cardstock sealed, come alive now, the past reveal.”

The surface of the card glowed with soft light, and the sepia image blossomed into color—and began to move. The focal point zoomed out, revealing more of Narando’s surroundings, and sounds began to play—the plinkety-plink of a piano, the thrum of a powerful engine, the wush-wush of a paddle wheel churning through water. Narando was sitting at a round table, playing poker with three other men, all clad in gentlemen’s clothing. Two of the men were smoking cigarillos, while another had a big stogie crammed into his mouth.

Everything seemed quite amiable at first—until one of the other players suddenly grabbed Narando’s left wrist, twisted it, and plucked an ace of spades from the sleeve of Narando’s green suede jacket. Everyone stood up. A brief argument ensued. Narando was seized by his fellow players and forcibly escorted out the door onto the deck of the riverboat and hurled over the railing. He splashed into the moonlit waters of the Mississippi and shook his fist at the receding boat, then began swimming toward shore. But he tired long before he reached the bank, and began to cry out piteously, begging for help. A cry no one heard.

About the author:

 Stan Carter lives in Bellevue, Nebraska. He has been in the newspaper business for nearly 30 years, serving as a reporter, copy editor, columnist and typesetter at various publications. He currently is a paginator with the Omaha World-Herald.