Train of Thought: A Short Story Collection



a short story anthology

Lori L. Robinett

Copyright © 2015 Lori L. Robinett

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1507725590

ISBN-13: 978-1507725597





I dedicate this collection of stories to

my parents, Dean and Alma Hazen.

Dad, the Robbin’ Hoods story was inspired by a story told to me by your dad, and pays homage to our family connection to printing.




table=. =. |=.

|=. p={color:#000;}. Acknowledgments |=. p<{color:#000;}. i | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 1 |=. p<{color:#000;}. The Train Yard |=. p<{color:#000;}. 1 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 2 |=. p<{color:#000;}. Robbin’ Hoods |=. p<{color:#000;}. 5 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 3 |=. p<{color:#000;}. Queen’s Revenge |=. p<{color:#000;}. 12 | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 4


|=. p<{color:#000;}. Three Little Pigs: Redoux


|=. p<{color:#000;}. 23


| =. |=. p>{color:#000;}. 5


|=. p<{color:#000;}. Fatal Impulse

(A sneak peek) |=.
p<{color:#000;}. 26


| =. |=. p>{color:#000;}.   |=. p<{color:#000;}.   |=. p<{color:#000;}.   | =. |=. p>{color:#000;}.   |=. p<{color:#000;}.   |=. p<{color:#000;}.   |





(prequel to Diamond J Series)



(contemporary western / romantic suspense)


FATAL IMPULSE (thriller)






This book would not have happened without the support and encouragement of my fabulous critique group. Thanks to Carolyn Paul Branch, Colleen Donnelly, Ericca Thornhill and Jennifer Bondurant. I also owe thanks to Holly Lisle, for her fantastic writing classes, and Kristin Lamb, for her blog and WANACon.







Join the author’s VIP thriller newsletter and

get a free copy of her bestselling mystery/thriller,

Fatal Impulse,

about an abusive husband who pushes his wife too far . . . and she pushes back.


Start Here: FREE BOOK



This story first appeared in The Storyteller Magazine

January/February/March 2008

Winner of the People’s Choice Award (Fiction)


Footfalls on the cobblestones echo off the giant steel beasts perched on the rails all around them. Everything is dark, dreary and depressed, which fits his mood perfectly. Even the heavy gray clouds hang low. The weight of the world presses down on him.

He squeezes her tiny hand gently. The white fabric is soft and slick against his calloused hand. He reaches up and adjusts the borrowed bowler hat atop his head and swallows hard. With each step, the crack in the sole of his shoe expands and closes, pinching his flesh. The pain is welcome and he focuses on it.

“Uncle, the trains are so big!” Her voice is a small whisper nearly lost in the bustle of the passengers pushing past them. He shakes his head ever so slightly, for he can scarcely imagine anyone choosing such a lawless place as a destination. Her blue eyes wide, taking all the new sights in.

A woman standing on the platform catches his attention. Her hair is piled atop her head in the style of the day, with auburn ringlets framing her ivory face. A hint of a smile touches his lips as he thinks of his sister -- she had hair like that, though she always wore hers pulled back in a practical bun. The woman's dress is a rich burgundy velvet, and her black shoes are polished to a high sheen, but they have a low, sensible heel. He likes that. There are two bags sitting on the platform next to her. They match. Like her dress, they appear expensive, but not pretentious. She seems to be alone, but has a smile for everyone who passes. Her smile reaches her emerald eyes, so he is comfortable with the fact that her demeanor is genuine. There is a plain gold band on her left ring finger.

He squats down so that he and the girl are eye-to-eye. He smiles sadly, as he touches her rosy cheek. She looks at him and her smile fades. She looks just like her mother, God rest her soul. He pinks a note to her chest and whispers in her ear.

He blinks quickly, but tries to look stern. “Do you understand me?”

She nods.

He repeats, “Do you understand me?”

“Yes, Uncle.”

“I will always love you, but you must not forget me.”

She nods again, and he realizes how much she has matured in the fortnight since her parents were killed. A child of six should not know such sadness. He bobs his head, then stands. He prods her gently, then steps back. He watches as the miniature version of his sister walks away from him. Her dress is too short, and her shoes are too small, but she is still perfect. She never looks back, which makes him proud.

She walks straight to the woman on the platform and reaches up with a tiny gloved hand to tug on the woman’s skirt. The woman looks down and smiles. She speaks and the girl points to the scrap of paper on her chest. The woman’s smile fades as she reads the note. She looks around, up and down the platform, then leans down to talk to the girl. The girl smiles, the woman shakes her head, then pulls the girl close to her. She calls to a conductor, speaks frantically and motions to the surging crowd around them, then shows him the note.

The man waits, hiding in the crowd, close enough to see everything, but far enough away to hear nothing. The woman always keeps her hand on the girl, and he knows he made a good choice.

“All aboard for Jefferson City! All board!”

The woman takes one last look around at the crowd, then gathers her bags and takes the little girl’s hand in hers. Together, they climb onto the train and he loses sight of them.

When the train huffs and puffs and pulls away with a gentle roar, he spots the girl in the window. He steps forward on the platform and waves his hand in a silent salute. She smiles and blows him a kiss. He catches it and she is gone.

The sky droops under the gray weight of the clouds, and raindrops patter on the cobblestones. He closes his eyes and turns his head up toward the heavens, praying that his sister is watching and approves of his choice. Tears and raindrops mingle, and a single ray of sunshine peeks through the clouds.

It is done . . .



This short story first appeared in

The Storyteller Magazine

July/August/September 2012


Marion Avenue was busy three times a day – at 9 am when the stores were opening, at noon when people ventured out for lunch, and at 5 when men locked up and headed home to their wives. While most businesses closed, two men continued working. Newspapermen kept different hours than most. The sun slanted in a large plate glass window with Olde English style letters that proclaimed the shop as the home of the Washington Evening Journal.

“You think this banner is big enough?” Charlie asked as he scratched his head and left a tail of red hair pointed at the pressed tin ceiling. He held up a metal plate that read, in reverse, “Bonnie & Clyde Release Kidnapped Deputy – with Bus Money to Get Home!”

“Guess it’ll have to be. We’ve got to put this paper to bed soon.” Metal clanked as Bob carefully placed type in the bed of the printing press. The stress of making the deadline was constant, but it was something that he enjoyed. Being a newspaperman was in his blood, he supposed. “You decided who you’re voting for?”

The younger man answered with a grunt and a shrug, “For President? People in these parts are more worried about local happenings, don’t ya think? Did you hear that Billy Dearborn’s daddy passed away? Stone City ain’t never gonna be the same. That stone quarry of theirs is big business and I’m pretty darned sure that everybody ‘round here is wonderin’ if Billy’s gonna be able to run that place on his own.”

“Yeah, times are tough, the toughest I’ve ever seen.” Bob was all too aware of how tough the times were. Every penny he spent was carefully weighed. His wife, Louise, always reminded him that he deserved to spend a little money, that he worked hard for it. But he still felt guilty when he spent money on himself when he knew his employees were barely getting by. “That’s why I gave Paul Jenkins’ youngest boy a job delivering papers. Paul lost his job at the shoe factory and was lucky to get on bagging groceries up at the Piggly Wiggly.”

“You mean that little tow-headed boy? He cain’t be more than seven.”

“Six and a half, but the boy came up to me after church last Sunday and asked if he could do anything to make money to give to his mama.” Bob concentrated on inking the press before continuing, “I don’t think Hoover’s got a snowball’s chance of winning.”

The radio crackled and a news report interrupted the Jack Benny show. Charlie started to say something about California politicians, but Bob held up a hand to silence him. Both men stopped what they were doing and cocked an ear to listen to the announcer.

“—the notorious outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are believed to be responsible for a murder in Columbia, Missouri, last week and have been spotted in southeastern Iowa. They may be driving a 1932 Nash. Extreme caution must be used. If you see them, contact your local sheriff.”

Bob gave a low whistle and whispered, “1932 Nash. You see a fair lot of them around, so that might be tough to spot.”

Charlie wiped his hands on his pants, cocked his head to one side and said, “That reminds me – I saw your Ford Roadster out in front of the Journal t’day. It’s mighty nice.”

A crooked grin split the older man’s face, and he ducked his head modestly. He knew that Charlie rode his bike to the newspaper every day, because the family only had one car and his daddy used it to drive to the mill in Ottumwa. He liked the car, but didn’t want to show off and make the younger man uncomfortable.

Charlie nodded his head towards the print banner that would proclaim the morning’s headline, then looked up at the long wall where Bob tacked up the front pages that blared the story with giant headlines. He said, “I hear Hoover is using everythin’ the Bureau of Investigation’s got to catch those two hooligans.”

Bob shrugged and turned back to the press. Bonnie and Clyde had done a fine job of selling newspapers since they started their crime spree. He would never admit it to Charlie and certainly not to Louise, but he enjoyed coming up with headlines for them. The whole story was kind of romantic. “I don’t know. I’ve heard some folks say that Bonnie and Clyde are like modern day Robin Hoods. They rob from the rich and give to the poor.”

“Well, I don’t know about that,” Charlie said doubtfully. “Give to themselves, seems like. My cousin – you know Kermit Franks, don’t ya? Has that one leg a tad shorter’n the other? – well, Kermit lives down in Texas now and works down there at the Texas Pen. You know that Bonnie? He said he saw that husband of hers, Roy Thornton, in the prison there.”

Bob scratched his nose, leaving a streak of black ink on its tip. “Hard to believe she’s married to an ex-convict and now she’s with another criminal, but she seems to be pretty nice. Little wisp of a thing. Remember that couple that her and Clyde kidnapped in Louisiana? I read they weren’t really kidnapped, but that Bonnie and Clyde were helping them get to Texas.”

The younger man raised his eyebrows and shook his head, doubt clouding his voice, “I don’t know. I guess that man – I guess he’s still her husband, anyways – that guy down in the Pen that Kermit talked to, well, Kermit says that man talked about his little wife, and how she was mean as a rattlesnake.”

After he finished loading the paper and it began whirring through the machine, Bob pulled his chair up closer to the scarred desk where the radio sat. “She may be mean, but she’s a looker, she is. Little bitty waist. I hear she’s got eyes the color of the sky, too.”

“I’ve seen the pictures of her, too. The Bureau of Investigation has released some of those pictures of her and Clyde.”

“They seem to be having a good time. A match made in heaven, maybe?” He shrugged, thinking of that picture with one of them holding a rose in his – her? – mouth. Very romantic. “I don’t know. They both come from poor backgrounds, and maybe they’ve just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Suddenly, a loud banging on the front door caused both men to jump. Charlie jumped to his feet and ran to the front of the newspaper shop. Bob wavered, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, torn between seeing what all the commotion was and keeping the press going. He watched Charlie hesitate in the doorway, then the door slammed shut behind him and shouts could be heard from the street. Whatever the hullabaloo was about, Charlie would get the scoop and fill him in. The press needed his attention. It was a bit temperamental and he didn’t quite trust the paper to not jam. Besides, he wanted to get the run finished so he could get home before the Will Rogers show came on.

Charlie rushed through the door, screaming, “Stop the press! Stop the press!”

Bob jumped to his feet and flipped the machine off, the metal beast protesting loudly. Those were words that newspaper men didn’t joke about. “Why? What’s happened?”

“That was Henry! He’s been working part-time over at the bank in Iowa City, and he, and he,” he stopped to suck in a deep breath, then the words rushed out like a river, “He said the bank was robbed this afternoon and it was-“

“No,” Bob’s eyes widened, his eyebrows crept up his forehead and he shook his head slowly, “You don’t mean—”

“Yup. It was Bonnie an’ Clyde in the flesh.”

Both men went to work, Charlie pulled the banner type off of the tray while Bob sat down with a pencil and paper to compose the new headline about the robbery. He started flipping through his rolodex to get sources for the story and made calls to those he could trust. His call to a trusted deputy who liked to talk was interrupted by shouts coming from the street.

“Something’s going on out front, Joe. I’ll have to call you back.” Just as Bob sat the handset in its cradle, the sharp sound of gunfire erupted, quick pops like firecrackers tossed in a can. Charlie ducked under a desk, but Bob hit the floor and army crawled to the front of the store. Muffled shouts were heard, then another barrage of gunfire. Curiosity overrode caution, and he lifted his head just in time to see a tall dark man and a little wisp of a woman dive into his brand new Ford Roadster.

“Can’t be!” he whispered.

The engine roared to life, and gravel flew as the car reversed into the street then sped away. Someone shot at the bandits and Bob’s heart felt much like the rear window of the coupe as it cracked and spidered. He sank back to the floor, anguished at the loss of a vehicle he hadn’t even gotten used to yet.

By the time the first rays of the sun slanted through the glass of the front door, the story was set and the press was running again. Bob hated cutting it this close, but he could still get the paper printed, folded and bundled in time to make the afternoon delivery.

And this time, he not only printed the news, he was the news.



“Lawless Bandits Steal Newspaperman’s Car:

Car later found riddled with bullets at Gaston’s farm”




This short story first appeared in

Bridges: writing across callaway county, 2007

Lori Robinett, writing as Elle Robb


Carli examined her face in the cracked mirror above the dresser, wishing she could afford some new makeup and a new hairstyle, when an envelope slid under the door. She raised her eyebrows, then picked it up and slit it open.

You are cordially invited to join the Order of the Tiara. You will be contacted tonight at midnight. Be prepared. Dress is casual. RSVP is not required. Whether you choose to accept this invitation or not, your silence is required.

Carli flipped the cream colored envelope and looked at it again. Her name and address were printed in a fancy script font on a clear label --nothing unusual about that. No return address, but there had been a seal over the flap of the envelope. A gold-colored crown. She frowned and stepped out into the hallway, looked to the left and to the right. No one in sight.


The Order of the Tiara. She couldn’t recall ever having heard of it before. She shrugged and stepped back into her dorm room. Probably some silly Greek thing, though she had made no effort to get involved in that scene, and really didn’t care about getting into it. As far as she was concerned, the only thing the sorority girls had done for her was pledge her roommate, who was a Barbie doll on uppers, so that she could have the 12 × 12 room to herself.

By the time the lights went out on the floor of the residence hall that night, curiosity was getting the best of her. She decided it wouldn’t hurt to go along with it for now. If it didn’t work out, she’d drop out. She left her jeans on but changed into a fresh sweatshirt, and settled back on her bed to watch television until the mysterious contact was made by the Order of the Tiara.

A gentle but firm tap on her door woke her from a light sleep. She stood and stretched and glanced at the clock on her nightstand. Midnight, straight up. She opened the door, anxious to see what kind of messenger a secret Order would send in the middle of the night.

The young woman at the door looked like your typical college student, dressed in faded jeans and a sweatshirt. Her dark brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and her makeup had been applied with a light touch. The most striking thing about her was her countenance. She stared steadily at Carli, no smile whatsoever. Carli waited a beat for her visitor to say something, to identify herself or something.


She opened her mouth to speak, but the woman held a manicured finger to her lips, then stepped back and turned. It was a smooth, fluid motion. After hesitating a moment, Carli followed the stranger as she glided down the hallway and out into the parking lot. She stepped out the door and suddenly a soft cloth bag was tugged over her head. There were hands, lots of hands, pushing and pulling her forward. She felt dizzy, and she sucked in air, not able to get enough air in her lungs. She flailed about, trying to grab one of her assailants, but her arms were held firmly to her sides. Her heart pounded in her chest, the blood roaring in her ears. Her mind raced with possibilities.




She was shoved into a car, with someone sitting on either side of her. She tried to focus on the motion, the speed, the direction, anything to keep her bearings. The only sound was that of tires on pavement, and the rumbling of the motor. The sick feeling in the pit of her stomach was reminiscent of the motion sickness that threatened to ruin more than one family vacation. In spite of her concentration, she quickly became disoriented and had no idea of where she was.

The car slowed to a stop, and she was pulled out. This time she didn’t fight, and had a better sense of what was going on. There was a person on either side of her, holding her upper arms and guiding her. When she stumbled, the hands tightened. Occasionally, she was nudged one way or the other, but the hands were not actually rough.

They stopped and released her.

She stood, swaying slightly, still feeling disoriented. She wanted to take the sack off, but was afraid to do so. Her fingers twitched, and she shivered, even though the night was warm.

“You have been chosen.” The woman sounded older, sort of like her English professor, the one with long straight hair and flowing skirts. “We do not take our choices lightly, and will welcome you into our fold with open arms. The mission of our Order is to advance the goals of our sisters, to encourage and enlighten, and to stop the tyranny of men. Do you choose to accept our invitation?”

Carli gave a short laugh and cocked her head, turning towards the voice. “Is this some kind of Greek initiation thing?”

“Hardly. The Order of the Tiara has its roots in the Middle Ages, and you will join a sisterhood with such historical figures as Abigail Smith Adams, Molly Brown, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Our Sisters are some of the most powerful women in the world. Are you prepared to accept our invitation?”

“I need more information—”

“Poppycock. No further information is required. Either you accept our invitation and learn our secrets, or you decline our invitation.”

Her mind raced. It really was intriguing, this idea of a secret society of powerful women. She could almost hear her mother’s voice, warning her to be careful, look both ways, look before you leap. In spite of the inner voice urging caution, she nodded.

“Speak your mind. Do you accept our invitation?” The voice was firm, but not entirely unkind.

“Yes, I accept your invitation.”

The cloth sack was pulled away, and she blinked in the dim light. In front of her stood a woman who looked to be in her late forties, possibly early fifties. She was dressed in a long, flowing purple robe, and there was a crown upon her head, sparkling in the candlelight. In one hand she held what appeared to be a leather bound book, and in the other, a golden scepter with a clear crystal at the top. The room was dark, with a low ceiling and walls that were covered with tapestries. Carli glanced to her left, then to her right. The women that flanked her also wore long robes, but theirs were emerald green. Each wore a jewel encrusted tiara. Their heads were bowed slightly and their hands were clasped in front of them, like monks.

The woman spoke. “Approach.”

The women at her sides urged Carli forward.


Carli swallowed, then complied, and was immediately aware of the cold stone floor under the threadbare red carpet. She was sure the others could hear her heart pounding. She wiped her palms on her jeans, then looked up at the woman that was obviously the leader of this group, and caught other figures in her peripheral vision. She realized that there were other women in the room. There were at least two other women on either side of her, backs to the walls, facing the older woman. They wore the same emerald colored robes, but they wore the hoods up, covering their heads.

The woman placed her hand on Carli’s head, gently pushing it down so that she was bowing her head like the other women in the room.

“I, Queen Alpha III, do hereby bestow upon you the title of Baroness Catherine of Boone.”

Carli opened her mouth to speak, but the woman -- Queen Alpha -- pulled her chin up with her finger, closing her mouth. It was an almost imperceptible movement, but it was obviously a correction. She felt the blush creep up her cheeks and lowered her eyes. Something was placed on her head and she felt a cool stone brush against her forehead, and then a ring was placed upon her ring finger of her right hand. It was like being in a play. But here, there was no audience in the darkness, no director, no script.

“You may rise.”

Carli blinked and stood. The woman turned to her side and laid the ancient book on the podium, then opened it with slow, deliberate movements. She plucked the fountain pen from its nook and presented it with a flourish, then moved aside and motioned for Carli to step forward. The pages of the book were yellowed and the edges were gilt, and it appeared to be full of names. Like a guest book of gargantuan proportions. She glanced at the woman who nodded, then wrote her full name below the last signature. The whole situation was so surreal. It had to be a dream. The Queen smiled at her for the first time and gestured for her to turn and face the others who had gathered in a loose group in the center of the room. She glanced at her right ring finger, which was now adorned with a simple sterling silver ring in the shape of a tiara, and raised her hand to feel the circlet that had been placed upon her head.

“I am proud to present to you Baroness Catherine. We will adjourn to the meeting room for a roundtable discussion. Duchess, would you be so kind as to take our new Baroness to the chapel and give her a brief introduction to the Order?”

A woman wearing a deep garnet robe stepped forward and smiled. Wisps of brown hair peeked from beneath her hood. She stepped to the wall and pulled back a tapestry to reveal a narrow doorway, and motioned for Carli to enter first.

It bore little resemblance to the chapels she was familiar with. Nothing like the First Baptist Church back home. This room was small and dark, with an altar at one end, a cross hanging on the wall across from it, and an ancient Bible lying open on it. Against the opposite wall just to Carli’s right, was another altar, which also had an ancient leather-bound book, but this one had a pentagram hanging on the wall behind it. Interesting dichotomy of religions. There was a simple wooden table in the center of the room, with a straight backed chair on each side. Duchess – Carli had a hard time with these titles – pulled a chair out for Carli, then took a seat on the opposite side. She wasted no time with pleasantries.

“I know this is all very unnerving for you, Baroness. But I would like to be the first to welcome you into our Order. We are a proud group, and take the duties of our membership very seriously. This is not a game, this is life. As a member of the Order, you will have access to more wealth and power than you could have ever imagined. Do you understand what I am saying?”

Carli shrugged and whispered, “So this is for real?”

The Duchess nodded. “There is some business we need to take care of at this time.” She pulled a small leather bound book from inside her robe and pushed it across the table towards Carli, who began to lift the cover and look inside.

The Duchess reached across and shut the book. “You will look at it later. Now you will give me your full attention. Queen Alpha stated our mission. Do you remember anything about it?”

“Something about encouraging women and stopping tyrants?”

“The mission of our Order is to advance the goals of our sisters, to encourage and enlighten, and to stop the tyranny of men. You were chosen because you have traits that we believe will be a benefit to the Order.” The Duchess paused and smiled. Her teeth were perfectly straight and white. “But what’s important right now is what the Order can do for you.”

Carli smiled but it felt stiff and fake. She still felt uneasy about the whole situation, and half expected to wake up at any moment. Encourage. Enlighten. Tyranny. Queen. Duchess. It was all running together, fuzzy around the edges like a dream. She blinked as she realized there was a keychain with a single key attaching laying on the table in front of her. She looked up at the Duchess and raised her eyebrows.

“It’s yours. You will find it parked by the residence hall, Lot A. You now have a reserved space along the first row, Space 9. Black Mustang.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Deadly serious, my young Baroness. This is only the beginning.”

“What’s the catch?” She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. “Is this a cult?”

The woman Carli knew only as Duchess laughed. “Of course not. You are free to leave the Order at any time. However, that brings us to the next order of business. We do require that you sign a confidentiality agreement. You understand, I’m sure.”

Carli picked up the keychain and tucked it in the pocket of her jeans, then picked up the paper that the Duchess had produced. It was printed on onion skin paper, which she hadn’t seen in ages. The language was very old English, handwritten in a beautiful, flowing script that was difficult to read, particularly in the dim candlelight. She skimmed it and wasn’t overly concerned – it seemed pretty simple. But she couldn’t get past the new car. Every time she needed to go somewhere, she had to catch a ride. It was like a constant reminder that she was here on scholarship, that her mother was a cleaning lady, that she didn’t have what all the other kids had.

She frowned as she tried to focus on the words in front of her. In very flowery language, it said that she would never reveal the secrets of The Order and that if she did she would be excommunicated from the Order and terminated.



A little over the top, but the Order had a right to protect itself, she supposed.

“Please sign.”

She thought about the car and wondered how it would feel to be a part of something. To have an identity. And she wondered what this would cost her. She shrugged, then picked up the old fashioned quill pen, dipped it in the ink well and signed her name. She sat the pen down and chewed on her lower lip for a moment, then looked the Duchess directly in the eye.

“May I ask a question?”


“Why me?”

“Because your grades are exemplary, you have shown a knack for politics while in high school and college, and you have handled the transgressions of the men in your life with dignity.”

“Sounds like you’ve done your homework.”


The transgressions of men – her mind drifted . . .

The dingy white sheet was tangled around his legs, and his dark blonde hair was tousled. In between, he was, well, older looking than she would have liked. His face was angular, but attractive. The most prominent feature was his steel blue eyes. That had been the first thing she noticed when she walked into her English Lit class on her first day as a “real” college student at Missouri State. Even from across the room, his eyes were intense and intelligent and stormy. That was the word that always came to mind when she looked into his eyes. Stormy. There appeared to be undercurrents that held the potential of danger.

There was a sharp knock on the door, and she blinked rapidly, clearing the memory from her mind. She turned to see one of the hooded women standing in the doorway, her face hidden in shadow. The Duchess rose, and Carli followed suit.

“You will now be returned. Take your book with you and study it. I trust that you will keep it with you at all times. We will be in touch.”

Before she knew what was happening, she felt the cloth sack being placed over her head again. Hands pushed and pulled her, the car ride was over, and she was back in her dorm room.

Was this for real?

Carli examined her face in the cracked mirror. Her eyes were shining with excitement, and the clear crystal that hung from the circlet atop her head made her feel like a princess. A chill ran down her spine and snatches of memories from the evening flitted through her mind. She sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was nearly 2 a.m. Exhaustion set in. Tomorrow would be the first day of a new life, and she would no longer be the poor kid from northern Missouri. She crawled under the covers, clothes and all, and slept with the car keys clutched tightly in her hand.

The Three little pigs: redoux


This short story first appeared in

Bridges: writing across callaway county, 2007

Lori Robinett, writing as Elle Robb


Three little pigs decided to go out on their own and build houses. The first little pig took the easy way out and built his house out of the first thing he could find – straw. The second little pig decided he wanted his house to be a little more sturdy, so he built his house out of sticks. The third little pig watched his brothers build their houses and scoffed at their naivete. He went to town and bought bricks and mortar and hired a contractor to help him build his new house.

One evening they were each sitting in their own little house, vegging on the couch and watching television. Suddenly, the first little pig heard a knock on his door.

“Who is it?” He asked in his squeaky little pig voice.

“It is I, the Big, Bad Wolf. Let me in.” The wolf’s voice rumbled and made the little piggy’s whole body shake.

“Nor by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!” The little piggy answered bravely.

The wolf huffed and he puffed, and he blew the house down. He looked high and low, but there was no little piggy inside. He helped himself to a Twinkie and then continued onto the next house. He knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” The second piggy called out gaily.

“It is I, the Big, Bad Wolf. Let me in.”

“Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin.”

So the wolf huffed and he puffed, and he blew the house down. He looked through the jumble of sticks, but there was no little piggy to be found. He helped himself to some popcorn (after he added butter and salt – pigs never add enough butter and salt) and went on to the third house, where he rang the doorbell.

“Who is it?”

“It is I, the Big, Bad Wolf. Let me in,” the wolf roared, for he was very angry by this point.

“Not by the hair of my chinny, chin, chin!”

So the wolf huffed and he puffed, but nothing happened. He took a deep breath, and huffed and puffed even harder, but again, nothing happened. He peeked in the window, but did not see anything. After a moment's consideration, he decided to walk around to the back of the house and see if there was a back door. This time he was shocked at what he saw. The three little pigs were sitting on the couch watching a movie. But that's not what caused him to draw in his breath sharply -- what really got him was that there were stuffed wolf heads hanging around the room like trophies! He looked above the fireplace and saw a big gun. He shivered in spite of the heat and his thick fur. He glanced at the kitchen and saw a big pot of stew boiling on the stove. There was a recipe propped up on the counter. The wolf squinted, not believing his eyes at first. No, his eyes were sharp. It really said, "Wolf Stew!"

The wolf thought for a moment, and snuck another peek at the three little pigs sitting on the couch.

“Nope. Not worth it. I think I’ll go home. Maybe order a pizza.” And off he sneaked through the woods.

The three little pigs glanced at the security monitor and watched the wolf leave.

“Yippee!” said the first little piggy. “Borrowing these wolf things from your taxidermist friend was a great idea, Brother!”

“Woo-hoo!” said the second little piggy. “And that fake stew recipe was pure genius, Brother!”

“Thank you,” said the third little piggy. “Thank you. And you are welcome to stay, but we’ll have to work out the rent . . . “


An Excerpt from

Fatal Impulse

by Lori L. Robinett





Andi felt her husband’s glare from across the room, like a red hot laser boring into her. She nodded and smiled as the gray haired gentleman beside her at the bar talked, but she didn’t hear his words. She raised two fingers in the air and caught the bartender’s attention. “Two red wines, please.”

The man continued, his eyes bright with enthusiasm, “There is treasure on this island, just waiting to be discovered. The geology is right for it.”

The brunette behind the counter set two glasses on the bar. Andi picked them up by the stems and murmured to the man beside her, “Good luck with finding that tanzanite.”

“Tourmaline,” he corrected her.

She turned away and froze. Chad stood in front of her, inches away. His steel gray eyes bored into hers, narrowed and suspicious. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your new friend?”

She blinked and turned towards the man. “Chad, this is Mr. Franklin. Mr. Franklin, this is my husband, Chad Adams.”

“We’ve met.” The man stuck his hand out, “Nice to see you again, Chad.”

“It’s Doctor.” Chad grasped the man’s hand and pumped it once. “Dr. Adams.”

The man hesitated, then said, “Dr. Adams, then. Please, call me Carl.”

The chill in Chad’s voice matched his eyes. “How do you know my wife?”

Andi handed her husband a glass of wine. “We just met.”

“I own a jewelry store in Buccaneer Bay.” Carl produced a business card from his breast pocket and handed it to Andi. “I’m an amateur rock hounder. Afraid I get so excited about my hobby, I talk about it at every opportunity.”

Chad took a sip of his wine, then settled onto her bar stool. “Really, why don’t you tell me about it?”


Lightning slashed the sky above them, thunder rolled and a strong wind swept the rain in sheets across the blackness of the Atlantic that stretched away to the East. Andi hugged herself to calm the shivers. The wipers slapped at the rain while Chad berated her for the way she acted that evening. She stared out into the inky darkness.

He glanced at her. “You act like you don’t know what to say or do when we’re out in public. You ignored me during dinner, and giggled like a schoolgirl at Carl Franklin at the bar.”

He overlooked the fact that he monopolized the gentleman’s time after dinner, leaving her alone in a sea of strangers. He accused her of flirting with other men on a regular basis, and that night was no different. Hopefully the anger would get out of his system before they got home.

“You make me look bad when you flirt like that,” he continued. “It’s not like Carl Franklin would ever be in the least bit interested in you, even if you weren’t my wife.”

It never occurred to him that his wife found the man’s hobby of rock hounding to be interesting. His accusations stung, and he didn’t always stop with words. The two celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary the previous May, and she was determined to make her marriage work. Her parents raised her to believe marriage is forever, ‘til death do you part, so she would not leave him. No matter what.

A sharp bang interrupted his tirade.

The SUV swerved on the wet pavement, throwing her sideways into the door. The seatbelt grabbed and held her in place, and she braced herself against the dash with her hands. Her head jerked from side to side as the vehicle fishtailed back and forth until Chad slowed the Grand Cherokee. He held the steering wheel with an iron grip and guided the vehicle to the side of the road, the blown tire thumping. He set the emergency brake with a sharp yank, then turned to look at her, his dark eyes narrowed. He looked evil in the amber glow of the instrument panel.

The interior light blinked on when he opened his door, bathing the inside of the vehicle with harsh light. He started to get out, then paused, one foot in, one foot out, and turned to stare at her.

“I had control. There is no need to grab the dash like that. As you may recall, this vehicle is equipped with airbags. Had they deployed, your arms would have been broken.” That low, smooth voice that had once impressed her now gave her chills. “Snap.”

The door slammed shut behind him and darkness washed over her. She bit her lower lip, angry at the tremble she felt at his sharp words. She watched the driver side mirror as he stalked around and opened the back hatch. He shoved his golf clubs to the side and yanked the jack out of the back of the SUV.

She took a deep breath and got out. With winter’s last gasp, the rain plastered her thick hair against her head and the clothes against her back. Her thin, sequined jacket did little to protect her from the cold rain that stung like needles where it struck her exposed skin. Her heels sank into the soft shoulder with every step, and the wind pushed her so hard her left leg bumped the steel guardrail. She glanced over the rail. The angry waves crashed into the rocks far below them, but she couldn’t see anything but darkness.

He cursed under his breath as she squeezed past him, then said, “Make yourself useful and hold the damned flashlight for me. There’s one in the emergency kit.”

A dark colored sedan splashed water as it sped by. She reached in the back and fumbled around for the flashlight. Her fingers closed around the black metal barrel of the Maglite. The beam sliced through the night as she took up a position just behind her husband and shone the light wherever he directed. The wind whipped and howled around them. Chills racked her body and her hands shook, which made him madder by the minute.

Finally, he yanked the shredded tire off and lifted the spare on. After a few spins of the tire iron, he let the jack down with a thump and rolled the shredded tire past Andi, then settled the jack and iron back into their places. He stuck out a hand and demanded her jacket.

“What?” She blinked as a raindrop struck her in the eye.

He shook his hand in her face. “Your coat. Give it here. I need something to lay the old tire on so the carpet doesn’t get dirty.”

She shivered in the rain while he spread her black sequined wrap out and laid the muddy tire on top of it. He slammed the hatch shut, then turned to sneer at her. “It’s a wonder I got that thing changed with you shaking that light around all over the place.”

She opened her mouth to apologize, but stopped when his eyes narrowed. He grabbed her ponytail and jerked down, forcing her to look up at him.“It’s a damned good thing you’ve got me around to take care of you – you never could have kept control when that tire blew, and you sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to change a tire in good weather, much less in the driving rain like this.” He released her ponytail and poked her chest with his index finger, hard. “Stupid bitch.”

He laughed that cruel, mocking laugh of his and rocked back on his heels, his head thrown back. Lightning flashed across the sky, and he looked like a madman. His laugh echoed around them, mixed with the roar of the waves, as though the ocean itself was mocking her.

She tightened her grip on the Maglight, and swung it like a baseball bat, just like she’d been taught that summer she played softball as a kid back in Missouri. He blinked and stammered as he stepped backwards. The back of his knee hit the guardrail and he tipped over, his legs flying up in slow motion. He looked at her as he fell, eyes wide with surprise, and then he was gone. His scream echoed against the cliff and then there was silence.

The flashlight felt heavy in her hand.

The emergency flashers continued their steady throb.

Thunder shook the ground beneath her. She stood there, numb, staring down into the darkness.





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Fatal Impulse,

about a woman who snaps when her abusive husband pushes her too far . . . but even after he’s dead and buried, he still controls her. Can she expose his secrets and get her life back?


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Train of Thought: A Short Story Collection

A collection of award-winning short stories, with something for everyone. An orphan in a train yard, a newspaperman who tangles with Bonnie and Clyde, a poor college student inducted into a secret society of powerful women, and a fun refresh of a classic children's tale. These bite-sized stories are perfect to read over your lunch hour, or while waiting in line. A man is left to care for his dead sister's little girl in the late 1800s. Despite his best intentions, he is unable to provide for her. Left with no other options, he takes her to a train yard and desperately searches for help . . . and the only decision breaks his heart. A newspaperman in southern Iowa is anxious to put his paper to bed and get home. As he's putting the finishing touches on his story about the notorious outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde, gunfire erupts on the street outside. As he peers out the plate glass window, he realizes that he may do more than report the news this time.

  • ISBN: 9781370306121
  • Author: Lori L. Robinett
  • Published: 2017-08-24 04:22:20
  • Words: 7588
Train of Thought: A Short Story Collection Train of Thought: A Short Story Collection