Halloween 2018 — The Danse

1 Nov

Halloween is once-again upon us, and this year, I dug back in the archives to find a creepy Halloween ditty to share.  I originally wrote this story when I was in 7th grade, and going through my dalliance with horror fiction.  I subsequently lost the manuscript, but the idea stuck around in my imagination, bouncing around every once in awhile.  I rewrote the story in adulthood… it has a bit of a fairy tale feel to it.  And before you ask, no, the title is not a typo.  It’s a reference… Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!


The Danse

By: Jason Butkowski


The ragged, hunched-over figure moved with impossible speed and agility as it leapt and bounded its way over crag and crevice in the eerie blue light of the early winter moon.

The diminutive man was a sight to behold. A foul little elf in tatters, his flowing grey beard spilled out in a mangled rat’s nest over top of a round belly. A large red, bulbous nose, an unkempt, unclean tangle of long, stringy hair and sunken, dark eyes were all hidden beneath a floppy, filthy, wide-brimmed cavalier hat. A hooded cape, a torn dull tunic, patched baggy pants, and scuffed bucket-top boots completed the ensemble. With his slight stature and odd attire, he looked like half a buccaneer, stranded far, far away from the ocean.

The bitter winter breeze and the man’s own forward momentum caused his dusty, shredded cloak to billow out behind him like some sort of spectral shadow. Over his left shoulder, he carried an empty cloth sack. A dinged, chipped and faded violin and frayed bow were tucked away underneath his right armpit.

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“Immigrant Story” at Shotgun Honey

16 Apr

The second in my one-two Noir punch, “Immigrant Story,” which was featured by the fine folks at Shotgun Honey, tells the story of what happens when a family faces generations of adversity.  Gotta chase that American Dream.  Thanks so much to Ron Earl Phillips and the editorial chain gang at Shotgun Honey for giving me a platform for a taste of slightly topical, hard-boiled crime fiction.


Immigrant Story

By: Jason Butkowski

I stuff my hands inside the pockets of my pea coat and square my shoulders to make myself look bigger than I am as I cross the street in front of the Bank of New York building on 34th and 5th.

My grandfather helped build this bank.

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“The Last Meal of Laughing Boy Reilly” at Yellow Mama Webzine

15 Apr

Gotta leave ’em with a laugh.  For the first installment of a noir double-header, I’m proud to present my short story, “The Last Meal of Laughing Boy Reilly,” which appears as the lead-off story for issue 67 of Yellow Mama webzine.  Thanks very much to Yellow Mama’s editorial staff for publishing the story, and make sure you check out the other great fiction in issue 67 from folks like Bill Baber, Hillary Lyon, Yellow Mama editor Cindy Rosmus and more.


The Last Meal of Laughing Boy Reilly

By: Jason Butkowski


C.O. McPherson tapped on the cell bars with the butt end of his Maglite to get the prisoner’s attention.

“Rise and shine, Reilly. Today’s your big day.”

From inside the prison cell, a figure moved around in the darkness.

“Is it the day of my grand cotillion already? Heavens, and I just don’t know what to wear… Fuck you, screwhead. I know what day it is.”

Bobby “Laughing Boy” Reilly was no debutante. He was a classic bad seed. In and out of juvie hall as a kid, more time spent behind institutional walls than out. On his 18th birthday, he graduated to the big leagues by stabbing a guard in the neck with the sharpened end of a tooth brush, all the while laughing like a goddamned hyena.

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“Coffee Jones” at Near to the Knuckle

21 Feb

I like my fiction like I like my coffee — dark!  I’m excited to have my short story, “Coffee Jones” published in Near to the Knuckle magazine, a very cool e-zine from across the pond featuring some mega-talent in the world of crime fiction.  Offering up a taste below — if you like the preview, click the link and head over to Near to the Knuckle to read the full story.


Coffee Jones

By: Jason Butkowski


Have you ever tried to kick a caffeine habit?

I launch a wingtip-clad foot into the solar plexus of the miserable bastard lying in front of me; the sobbing, weeping pile of human excrement who’s begging – pleading – with me about his miserable life, his miserable spouse, his miserable girlfriend-on-the-side, his miserable children. The shot to the gut temporarily lets all the air out of the windbag, and his pleas are replaced, at least for a brief, glorious moment, with a sucking sound as he tries to re-inflate his lungs and keep from retching his Egg McMuffin on the sidewalk.

I light up a Pall Mall and enjoy the first relative peace and quiet I’ve been able to experience all morning.

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Greetings from Asbury Park!

20 Nov

Hey there, Noir afficianados!

I’m excited to announce that I will be hosting my SECOND-ever Noir at the Bar night of crime fiction at the Capitolines Basement Bar in Asbury Park on Sunday, December 10 from 6-9 PM.  Details in the poster below:

Noir at the Bar 12-10-17 v2

Our first go at this at the end of October was a ton of fun… we had some great writers come out and share their awesome fiction, which in turn made me look like a competent MC / event-organizer, and got us invited back to the venue.  So, thanks!

Admission is free of charge, and we will have door prizes and live surf / jazz instrumental music between readers from 2/3 of The Black Flamingos.  Come on out and get in the holiday spirit with some tales of depravity and crime from some of the best and brightest (and most twisted) minds in the tri-state area’s crime fiction scene!

Fireworks at Out of the Gutter

29 Oct

I have to get better at this whole posting on my blog thing. 

I legit have things to promote, but am just bad about the blog end of things.  Hoping to get my act together at some point…

Anyway, I had a piece appear in Out of the Gutter waaaaay way back in August (on what would have been my Dad’s 59th birthday), about (coincidentally enough) family bonds and losing loved ones too soon.  Oh, and there’s a whole revenge rampage thing in there too…

Check out “Fireworks” below, and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Tonight, I’ll be hosting my first-ever Noir at the Bar eveningNoir at the Bar AP Poster of crime fiction in Asbury Park, and I’m super-psyched (and way nervous) about that.  You can check out the poster from the evening’s festivities by clicking on the thumbnail to the right.

And I should (hopefully) have a Halloween story to share on Tuesday, for our once-and-future Halloween tradition in these parts.  Make sure you stop back and check out the blog for a new offering soon.

Thanks for reading!



By: Jason Butkowski


Awesome Fireworks in Action Photo by Reggie Dizon, ganked with permission from Facebook

The moment the plan entered Frank’s brain, he was certain of one thing: It had to happen on the Fourth of July. The rest of his convictions may have wavered like the giant flag that he and his granddaughter used to hang over the garage door to celebrate Independence Day. But the date was an absolute certainty.

It had to be the Fourth.

Frank spotted two in the living room as he approached up the walk. No need for “covert intelligence” – the grimy bay window was bare, and the assholes were visible from the street, glued to the flickering light of the TV, probably already tripping balls. The drug-dulled response time definitely worked in his favor. Continue reading

So, what have we been up to?

5 Jul

Hey gang,

I know it’s been a long period of radio silence, but silence doesn’t necessarily mean inactivity (or at least, complete inactivity) at the Manor.

In the time since our last dispatch, Jay has been branching out his writing in some new and interesting areas — most notably, crime fiction and grindhouse noir.

And some of his stuff has been picked up by some of the most well-regarded crime flash fiction sites operating on the World Wide Web!

To catch you up, we’re offering a double shot of short fiction that you may have missed.  Check out “Bar Food,” which was first run in Shotgun Honey back in 2015, and “Snowmen,” which recently appeared in Out of the Gutter Online.

Bar Food

By: Jason Butkowski


Just another asshole in a sweat-stained trucker cap: the kind with a faux-vintage beer company logo plastered across the crown.

Just another foul-mouthed, flannel-clad, B.O.-stinking asshole, same as all the rest. Drunk, mean bastard, cussing up a storm and bragging to his buddies in the townie bar about his latest sexual conquest with the nuance of a fucking caveman. Tits this, pussy that, lewd hand gestures, obnoxiously loud laugh. I hated him from the moment I first saw him.

I ordered him a Pabst tallboy and had it sent over from the other end of the bar. Continue reading