Tales from The Side
Tandy Gutierrez
(1 reviews)
Updated monthly. Tommy Powers has lived his entire life in Switch, a city of magic that began ... Show More
Adventure, Comedy, Crime, Fantasy, LGBT, Mystery
Humor, fantasy, adventure, danger, romance, creatures, magic


     The goat leers at me over the handlebars of the motorcycle.  Sharp menacing horns curve back  and cast devil shadows on the wall of the garage. He chews on a piece of tin as he watches me. I curl my fingers around the first thing my hand finds on the floor; a wrench. I could kill him right here, right now. Instead, I ask a question.

     "What do you want, Puck?" I say. I use the wrench to tighten a bolt on the motorcycle.

     Puck spits a little ball of tin at my head.

     "You've got a customer."

     I glance around the empty garage. It’s just me, the goat-man, and the drone of old-timey trumpet music coming from the boss's office.

     "Outside, stupid."

     I walk over to the window above my workbench and wipe away the grease with my sleeve. I peer out onto the cobblestone street. Someone is pacing in front of a bicycle. I turn back to Puck. He smirks.

     "I fix motorcycles, not bicycles." I say.

     “Same thing,” Puck says. He spits another tin ball my way.

     “Why don’t you go?”

     “I’ve got a three-hour nap in the spare tires calling my name.”

     “Are you half-human-half-goat or half-human-half-sloth?” I say.

     "Just, go!  Wouldn't want to tell the boss you turned away a paying customer."

     I slam the wrench down on the workbench. Puck’s lucky I’m off tomorrow; otherwise, he’d be having wrench sandwich for lunch.

     The daylight blinds me as I step outside the garage doors. I use my arm to shield my eyes, but I quickly notice it isn't the sun, it's my customer. He rises like a skyscraper with wild orange hair that glows like a setting sun.

     "Are you Tommy?" He says.

     "That's me. Tommy Powers."

     “Frances Drake,” He says. We shake hands.

     “I’m afraid my bike is having a bit of trouble. Could you take a look?”

     I examine the bicycle. The chain dangles like a sagging telephone wire.

     "Can you fix it?" Frances says.

     "Sure," I say, but as I take hold of the chain, I realize I don't know a damned thing about bicycle repair. I improvise.

     "I tried fixing it myself, but no luck," Frances says.

     "Kniad Mercury owns all the luck in Switch." I say.

     "Is that a person?" Frances says.

     "Yes. Let’s hope he lets us borrow a little to get this bike fixed.” I loop the chain back around the gears and nearly slice my fingers off on the rim of chain ring.

     “Voila! Fixed,” I say, staring down at my handiwork. Sometimes I surprise myself.

     Frances hops onto his bike and rides a circle around me.

     "This is great. Thanks. How much do I owe you?"

     "Nothing. You’re new to Switch, aren’t you?"

     "Yes. We just moved here from Candlewick. How’d you know?"

     “Switch is a small town of about 500 people. You get to know everyone and their brother-in-law after a while. Where are you staying?"

     "The Gardens, number 9."

     "I live with my family at number 3. You’ve probably seen my brother dragging out the trash. He’s got big ears, buck teeth, whiskers.”

     Frances brakes and stares at me.

     “He's a mouse."

     Frances gives me a curious eye. His pupils are thin like a lizard’s.

     "Aren't you a mortal?" Frances says. “I can smell it.” He starts circling me again like a hawk.

     "I don't have any magic, if that's what you mean."

     "That's what I meant. How did you end up with mice?"

     I try not to let the lizard pupils and hawk circling concern me, but I feel the tempo of my heartbeat quicken. "They rescued me from strangers."

     "Do you often find yourself at the mercy of strangers?" He circles faster. I wish I still had that wrench.

     This always happens to me. I don’t know why. He mentioned smell. It’s like this world is full of wolves, and they can smell my meat from miles away. Normally, I’m not bothered, but with Puck acting like an ass, it’s been a rough day—and I’m not willing to play along.

     I step forward as Frances circles in front of me and grab the handlebars. He slams on the breaks. The bicycle nearly flattens me as it screeches to a halt. I stare up into his lizard eyes.

     "If you’re looking to cook me, kidnap me, or kill me, there’s something you should know. I’m like a cockroach. Step on me, and I’ll come back. I’ll crawl all over you, and make your life a living hell. So, don’t mess with me!” I release him from my stare and hope that worked.

     His eyes narrow, and my heart leaps up into my throat. This is the end.  I really wish I had that wrench.

     “Brave speech.”

     “Does the trick. Oh, and it helps that my boyfriend likes decapitating people who try to hurt me.”

     “Good to know,” Frances says. "My family is in the business of banks not black markets for mortal flesh. You can trust me, Tommy Powers." He holds out his hand, and we shake again. Then he rides off.

     I take a deep breath and exhale. I'm sweating so hard, I might need a jumpsuit change. Puck grabs me by the arm as I walk back into the garage. His fuzzy fingers give me rug burn.

     "Did he pay?"


     "You're useless. I knew you'd screw it up."

     "I told you, I fix motorcycles, not bicycles." I grab my wrench and get back to work. Puck hovers. I turn to tell him to beat it, and he shoots a tin ball right into my eye.

     I rush to my workbench. Puck runs off laughing. I stare out the window, holding a wet cloth to one eye. The pain slowly subsides.

     Just get through today. I tell myself. No need to go to jail.

     I catch a glimpse of orange hair across the street. Frances is watching. I try to get a better look, but a car passes, and he disappears.

     Everyone in this town has it out for me.
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 7/16/2015 3:52:23 PM
  • Yashita Ghazi commented on :
    5/31/2017 3:31:01 PM
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  • ANN BROWN commented on :
    4/6/2016 12:42:34 AM
    Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), ... Show More
  • Sara Klein commented on :
    4/3/2016 8:22:21 AM
    I love your intro. Can't wait to read more!
  • anna brown commented on :
    3/31/2016 12:41:55 AM
    Hello good day, i will like to meet you in person, am miss Anna, am from France and am leaving in London, please contact me on my email id at (annh1brown@hotmail.com), ... Show More
  • Muteteli Harvey commented on :
    11/14/2015 12:40:21 AM
    Ummm. Lol. I didn't know what to expect going in. Now I am intrigued
    • Tandy Gutierrez Lol. Yeah, it's a strange one. Glad you liked the intro.
      2/27/2016 2:31:35 PM
  • Steven Marshall commented on :
    2/12/2016 8:32:28 PM
    Very cool and quirky (in the best possible way). Well done! :)
    • Tandy Gutierrez Thanks. I think in first drafts you have to really just find the quirk before you can find anything else.
      2/27/2016 2:31:19 PM
  • Angi Shearstone commented on :
    10/26/2015 1:17:04 AM
    Fun start, good cast, nice glimpse of the world.
    • Tandy Gutierrez Thanks. I like to pull from many different aspects of fairytale. Glad yiu enjoyed.
      10/26/2015 3:41:41 AM
  • Eliza Knightly commented on :
    9/29/2015 9:09:56 PM
    Great opening. I like how unique your characters are.
  • Frances Pauli commented on :
    9/7/2015 3:13:46 PM
    This is amazing. The hook is immediate and the characters unfold gently and feed you the world through interaction. Fabulous. Can't wait to keep going.
  • Joan Albright commented on :
    8/23/2015 10:39:25 PM
    That first line made me laugh. Definitely an interesting premise.
  • Andre Clemons commented on :
    8/19/2015 11:57:31 PM
    Magic? A mortal raised by mice? Half-human half-goat named Puck? And this town of Switch? Okay, consider me hooked...
    • Tandy Gutierrez I always like to start out with a little ridiculous. Glad it worked. Thanks for reading.
      8/20/2015 11:15:07 AM
  • Robert Tucker commented on :
    8/15/2015 5:04:08 PM
    What an intriguing opening chapter. With an effective use of a present tense narrative, you are giving the reader unusual characters, subtle humor through concise ... Show More
  • M. Howalt commented on :
    8/11/2015 12:53:06 PM
    Oh, this is story took me by surprise. It has some almost absurd elements (and that's a good thing!) and I like the subtle world building going on and the natural feel of the dialogue.
  • TP Keating commented on :
    7/29/2015 6:30:52 PM
    Hi Tandy, A most intriguing story indeed. You can consider me a fan. I like the way the characters are completely comfortable with the magical circumstances! Regards, TP Keating
    • Tandy Gutierrez Thanks, TP. Yes, for them all this magic and fantasy is pretty normal. Maybe not always for Tommy, but he'll explain later.
      7/30/2015 2:37:21 AM
  • Jill Gutierrez commented on :
    7/23/2015 9:41:44 PM
    This starts with a little intrigue and a little danger. I cant wait to see where the trail leads. JK
  • Evan Marcroft commented on :
    7/19/2015 6:23:28 PM
    This could almost be a short story in how self-contained it is. With just a few key details and not a lot of needless exposition you vividly draw a complex world and ... Show More
    • Tandy Gutierrez Thanks, Evan! I try to give a little sense of closure, while giving a greater sense of mystery. Defientely more to come. Thanks for reading!
      7/20/2015 11:20:19 PM
  • Sarah Kelly commented on :
    7/17/2015 10:55:05 PM
    Really strong beginning! I liked Tommy, and as much as I like goats usually, I might have to dislike Puck. A tin ball to the eye? Owww.
    • Tandy Gutierrez I love goats, too. We'll see others that'll be less dislikeable. Yeah, that tin smarts, but Tommy's been through worse. Much worse.
      7/17/2015 11:43:41 PM
  • Jessica Lailson commented on :
    7/17/2015 6:59:40 PM
    You've got me hooked! Great first chapter, you introduced your protagonist very well yet still left enough mystery to make us want to come back next Friday. There better ... Show More
    • Jessica Lailson Oh, and [*****] puck. What a turd!
      7/17/2015 7:00:10 PM
    • Tandy Gutierrez Yeah, Puck is the very essence of turd. We've all had that co-worker, right? Glad you liked the story. Stay tuned. I've got some gentlemen you'll really like.
      7/17/2015 11:40:55 PM
    • Tandy Gutierrez Yeah, Puck is the very essence of turd. We've all had that co-worker, right? Glad you liked the story. Stay tuned. I've got some gentlemen you'll really like.
      7/17/2015 11:41:09 PM
  • Ryan Watt commented on :
    7/17/2015 4:27:24 AM
    It's a great opening line, and it helps establish a great tone to the chapter. Your protagonist seems so familiar with this world it is normalized to the point of ... Show More
    • Tandy Gutierrez Thanks. After living 15 years with these characters, they feel like family...we-know-all-your-secrets kind of family. And Puck's actual name is Puxley, but Tommy knows enough Shakespeare to be dangerous.
      7/17/2015 11:38:57 PM