I subscribe to two pulp mystery magazine which are actually "sister" publications from the same publisher: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. I look forward to their arrival each month and enjoy reading the quality stories - often by well known writers.
The two magazines are very similar and look alike, but there are a few variations. The Hitchcock pulp, for instance, has a writing contest feature called "The Mysterious Photograph." Each month an offbeat photograph is presented, and readers are invited to write a story about the odd picture. The story must be 250 words or less, and it has to involve a crime. A winning story is selected from all entries, along with nine runners-up. The winning entry is published in an upcoming issue of the magazine and its author gets twenty-five dollars. The nine runners-up get their names and hometowns listed in the future issue that carries the winning entry, but their stories are not published.
I entered "The Mysterious Photograph" once about twenty years ago, but my entry did not place. Then, a few months ago, the bug to submit bit once more, and I entered again. And while my very short story did not win, I was informed a few days ago that it was selected as one of the nine runners-up. So, for those who subscribe to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine or have access to it through your local grocery or bookstore, look for my name in the October issue - due out in about thirty days.
My entry was in response to the mysterious photograph that appeared in the April 2016 issue, a black and white picture of two men on the rooftop of a tall building in what appears to be a large city in the early twentieth century. The men are on the ledge of the rooftop. One is standing and watching while the other is balancing on his hands on a the back of a chair that is sitting atop two tables. The fellow is an acrobatic daredevil, or what was sometimes referred to as a "chair devil."
I was fascinated by the picture and wanted to learn more about it. I was able to find the photograph on the internet at Shutterstock.com where I discovered that the acrobat was a fellow named Jammie Reynolds, and his performance occurred in Washington, DC, around 1921. Given that information, I came up with the following story. There are two crimes included - possession of bootleg liquor during Prohibition and child sexual abuse - as well as a prelude to homicide.
My story, The Flying Catamite, follows. It is not a cheerful tale, but as a former state child protection worker I can attest to the fact that children do suffer hideous and horrendous abuse at the hands of adults - and sometimes the kids strike back. Make of it what you will.
The Flying Catamite
by Rocky Macy