Microcosms 46

Welcome, fictioneers, to Microcosms 46. Yours truly hosting once more:

Today, we belatedly pay tribute to influential Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist, Leonard Cohen, who died earlier this month.



(If you have an idea for a future contest – and would be happy to host – please get in touch with me.)


As usual, our contest will begin with three things. This week: single title , album title and genre. Incorporate the single title AND the album title – literally or symbolically – somewhere in your story.

We spun, and our three elements are single title: Show Me The Place, album title: Death of a Ladies’ Man, and genre: Crime.

Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – you can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspire you. Be sure to include which three elements you’re using.

  • Avalanche
  • First We Take Manhattan
  • In My Secret Life
  • Tonight Will Be Fine
  • Show Me The Place
  • Closing Time
  • Death of a Ladies’ Man
  • Various Positions
  • I’m Your Man
  • Old Ideas
  • Popular Problems
  • You Want It Darker
  • Memoir
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Drama


Judging this week is Microcosms 45 Judge’s Pick, Alva Holland.

All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length. You have until midnight, New York time to submit.

(If you are new to Microcosms, check out the full submission guidelines.)

All being well, results will be posted on Monday.


If you like, you may use this image to inspire you – purely optional.


The songwriter Leonard Cohen in Venice (1988) Gorupdebesanez [CC BY-SA 3.0]
The songwriter Leonard Cohen in Venice (1988)
Gorupdebesanez [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Microcosms 47
Microcosms 45

17 thoughts on “Microcosms 46

  1. Show Me The Place / Death of a Ladies’ Man / Crime
    Word count: 294

    Closing Time for Lenny

    “Show me the place, quick,” detective Cohen spluttered at the quivering rookie standing before him. Detective Cohen sighed. They just didn’t make policemen like before. Teens playing cops and robbers now, he thought, as he followed the head-bobbing, spiky-haired youth across the steaming tarmac towards the night club. It was musty inside, and it stank of booze, cigarettes and vomit. The club was painted black inside and the lights dimmer than a candle. The shape of a body emerged, and a crack in the ceiling allowed light to float down and expose the body. It was Lenny “Two-Time” Norman, a long-known gang member of the Sisters of Mercy. Stupid name really. What did they think they were? Gun-toting, shot-downing nuns? He snorted, and the coroner’s eyes gleamed up at him. He coughed. “What can you tell me?”
    “Cause of death is pretty obvious. His member was sliced clean off. He bled out within minutes.”
    “How did no one hear him scream?”
    “Club was in full swing. Too noisy.”
    There was a shuffling behind him and he turned. Spiky stood there. “Uh, the suspects are ready for you,” he said, pointing to a dark corner where two girls sat. He approached them and saw Marianne and Suzanne who were high school girls in the same class as his daughter. He blanched as it dawned on him why they were here. It turns out “Two-time” was a pretty good nick-name for Lenny. He spoke quietly to them, assuring them that everything would be okay, and then he left. He checked with the manager of the club and saw that the surveillance cameras were not working. Good. No proof that the girls were involved. Lenny was a dead ladies’ man now. Dead men don’t talk. Hallelujah!

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  2. First We Take Manhattan / Popular Problems / Romance
    Word count: 298

    Joan and Leonard

    A popular problem of time travel is that you never get to go back to the same place. Joan of Arc who by fire, was consumed in her first life, was part of a group due to go to earth this week. The “tour guide” had droned on and on about the stories of the street that they would get to hear, and she had begun to slip into a daydream. “First we take Manhattan,” the tour guide said, bringing Joan back from her reverie. New York! She had always wanted to go there. This would be fun. They were ushered to the time machine and, twittering amongst themselves, they got in. Joan’s friends, Suzanne and Marianne teased her about wearing her “famous” blue raincoat. She had gotten it in London on one of her trips, and she wore it every time she traveled. She was a winter lady anyway and felt the cold easier than most.

    It was raining when they landed in New York, and Joan smiled smugly at her friends. It was still early and the street carts were out doing brisk early morning trade. She stopped for a coffee and took it with her to Central Park where she walked the paths. She was still walking when she found herself suddenly flat on her back peering at the grey sky. Coffee, mingling with rain, ran in rivulets down the sides of her coat. A face came into view and it was a handsome one at that. He clumsily tried to perform CPR thinking she was dead and she kissed him so deep it was like a thousand kisses. He sat up shocked and she smiled cheekily at him. She jumped up and skipped away. “Hey!” he called out. “That’s no way to say goodbye!”

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  3. MicroCosmsfic 46:
    Closing Time / Death of a Ladies’ Man / Crime
    294 words

    Death of a Ladies’ Man

    Jane sighed wistfully, then said “I missed you since the place got wrecked…” I looked around the former crime scene. The interior of ‘Bar Volatile’ resembled an outlaw Biker rally at closing time. “When…and who?” I asked. “Last Monday night, some dame failed to be charmed by that fat pimp, Lucky Larry.” I suppressed a laugh. ‘Lucky Larry’ was anything but, especially when it came to dames. He attracted head-cases like dead meat attracts flies.

    “So, what happened?” Jane took a deep hit on her cigarette before filling me in. “Well, y’know Larry thinks he’s the main man when it comes to handling broads, right? So he figures to turn a trick with a dame from uptown, name of Suzy. Thinks he’s got a new pony for his string. Trouble was, he’d been on a binge since lunchtime, clouded his judgement. Decides to grab himself a free sample. Gets the shock of his life when the dame turns out to be a drag queen. So he clocks her – him – whatever – in the head. The queen slams him right back in the kisser. Knocked some teeth right outta Larry’s mouth. Larry retaliates, misses, hits a drunken sailor…then it all goes down. What a mess.”

    I took another glance at the wreckage. ‘Mess’ was an understatement. “How’d it finish?”. “Someone sliced Larry’s throat. Maybe the dame, maybe…Someone Else. Either way, he bled out on the dance floor, got wasted right there.” I studied the dark stains on the floor, surrounded by a chalk outline: Larry’s chalk outline. “Death of a Ladies’ Man, eh?”

    Jane blew smoke up towards the ceiling, watched it fade away. Smiled right at me in a conspiratorial way, then; “Ain’t that the truth, honey, ain’t that the truth…”

  4. Steve Lodge
    300 words
    Show Me The Place/Death Of A Ladies’ Man/Crime

    Another Case For Leonard And McCarthy (Death Of A Ladies’ Man)

    DS Paul McCarthy walked past the office of DI John Leonard singing loudly. Leonard shouted at him to stop.

    “Why are you singing?”

    McCarthy stopped and said “I’m singing, sir, to take my mind off my stomach pain, which is excruciating and also really hurts.”

    “I don’t know much about music, McCarthy, but I know shocking singing when I hear it. We’re supposed to be investigating a murder here. Quite a brutal one at that. I should not be reading this so close to finishing my breakfast.”

    McCarthy looked at his shoes, contritely.

    Leonard got up.“You’d better show me the place.”

    McCarthy pulled his shirt out of his trousers. “It’s here, sir, just above the groin.”

    “Yes, well, that was my fault,” Leonard muttered. “I actually meant show me the scene of the crime.”

    “Oh, right.” McCarthy looks at his notebook, embarrassingly. “What I can tell you, sir, is that the deceased is a regular man-about-town called Roland Butter. He lived in a condo near Hawkmeadow. We have seven female suspects in interview rooms downstairs. All claiming to be his girlfriend. Quite a ladies’ man, this Roland Butter. Each of the seven was the manager of a different branch of his retail empire. He owned a G-string of lingerie outlets under the name ‘This Is Your Thong’. I gather he was a bit of a fan.”

    Leonard nodded. “Can’t blame him. I’m a fan of Elliott John myself.”

    “Apparently he also did some charity work for an organisation in Frintongar called The Fumble Trust, set up to help retired, inept goalkeepers and their families,” added McCarthy.

    “Well, we’d best start interviewing these seven suspects. In your experience, does any one of them stand out as most likely? As obvious as a fish on a bicycle?” asked Leonard.

    “Marianne,” said McCarthy.

  5. Dear Geoff, so sorry just realised I missed off half the title, which was a bit dopey of me cos it’s part of the prompt. The title was supposed to be Another Case For Leonard And McCarthy (Death Of A Ladies Man). Please could you add it for me. Big thanks and apologies from Steve

  6. I Would Have Stayed Longer but I’d Already Departed.
    And If I’d Been a Little Stronger, I Wouldn’t Have Been So Broken-Hearted.

    Some nights, the darkness creeps in like a murky fog. I sit in the shadows of the Troubadour Tavern, way back in the corner where the dust balls fornicate. The smoke from the snuffed-out candle twirls up into the bleak light of the bare bulb. It hangs from a frayed cord, threatening a sharp, snake-like bite of electrical élan, a flash of pity, a skid of sorrow.

    Gilles, my man behind the bar, thunders out his usual cry of conclusion. “CLOSING TIME, MY PRETTY LOVERS AND LOSERS. PACK UP YOUR FAILURES AND SKULK YOUR WAY HOME.”

    It is a soothing refrain, if only because it is familiar, repetitive, expected, undeniable.

    It was not always this way.

    Through the miasma of memory that drapes over me like a shadow box, I remember, with a clarity that only a sober man can know, how I once was.

    I listened to my women. As they narrowed in on me with their curvaceous turn of phrase, their soft ascent to a sweeter moment, I recall that I was their man.

    I was that man.

    I swear, I was.

    But somewhere, on some twist in the road, on some icy stretch of highway, I slipped off into a ravine. I clung to the damp grass of my inevitable slide, a lover gone to seed, a roué past due.

    I now know that the death of a ladies man is not a pleasing sight. It is a slow lingering decay, a composting of lost loves, lovers piled high on the fallen leaves of a discontented autumn.

    Each night I crawl out of the Troubadour Tavern and wend my lowly carcass back to the two-story walk-up of my fate.

    The moon, every so often, speaks their names and I cry awake until dawn.

    Closing time; Death of a Ladies Man; Memoir
    296 days without a meaningful end

  7. @geofflepard
    286 words
    Closing Time / Old Ideas / Crime

    Last Orders

    ‘I had my first pint here you know.’ Ben Arnold ran his hand across the dust-encrusted bar, and stared at his finger. ‘First shut-in, too. I was all set to leave at closing time, but Dad stopped me. Who’d have thought the Dog would be the scene of a crime, eh?’
    DCI Pete Tripple looked at the Constable sourly. ‘This place was always the pits, Ben. Everyone had a story about food poisoning, beer kept too long, wine bottles exploding.’
    Ben smiled. ‘You preferred the Rose, did you, sir?’
    Cheeky sod, Pete thought. Everyone knew that was a gay pub. ‘Yeah, right. So where are these bones then?’
    ‘Up here, sir.’
    ‘Who’s doing the forensics?’
    ‘Great. Save me from the windbag by giving me the short version.’
    ‘Seems they were pulling down some old walls, and these bones fell out. This place is ancient, and Matheson has this notion it might have been home to some sort of weird club 200 odd years ago. Some crazy old ideas about warding off evil by burying a body across the threshold or something.’ Ben stopped on the landing. ‘He said the deceased may have been buried alive.’
    ‘Geez. Mind, if it’s two centuries old, I don’t suppose we’ll solve this one in a hurry.’
    From above their heads they heard a crash and a loud oath. Running up the final flight they were confronted by Chris Matheson, covered in dust and looking pale. ‘Another bit of the wall just fell down. Another body.’
    ‘Bloody hell. They were sickos back then, weren’t they?’
    Matheson shook his head. ‘I haven’t had time to look carefully but first impressions suggest this one is more recent. Like within the last year.’

  8. @AvLaidlaw
    298 words
    Elements – Avalanche / Death of a Ladies’ Man / Memoir

    Saint Augustine

    The last time I saw Terrance was at the Saint-Augustine resort. We’d been cut off by an avalanche although nobody seemed to mind too much; there was food and plenty of schnapps and, in those innocent days between the invention of the pill and the onslaught from AIDS, the ceaseless merry-go-round of affairs and bed-swapping was probably more entertaining than skiing.

    Terrance was in his element. He flirted with the nubile blondes always present at that kind of resort. He rose from his chair to take my hand and kiss the back of it. He made some suggestion about joining him later, as if the past fifteen years had been nothing more than a click of his fingers.

    I laughed. I couldn’t help myself. But those fifteen years had passed. Terrance’s eyes were filmed with yellow, and the expensive suits that had always fitted him so well now hung loose over his body. He coughed and dabbed a handkerchief against his lips.

    “You don’t have regrets?” he asked. I remember that. I remember that perfectly.

    “About us?”

    “Never have regrets, darling.”

    He died in the night. There was a fuss as they tried to decide where to store the body until the road was cleared. He would have liked that, I think, being the centre of attention, sending the unflappable resort manager into a fluster. One of the maids came and told me what had happened. I didn’t know what to feel. I would blame the schnapps for the numbness, but I still don’t know what to feel.

    I went outside on the balcony where it was too cold to feel anything at all. The snow from the avalanche lay perfect and smooth over the slopes, and the ice crystals glittered in the sunlight. The damage lay underneath.

  9. @TwiAddictAnne
    298 words
    Show Me The Place / Various Positions / Crime

    Name Game

    Maxx tried to act inconspicuous as he stepped in through the quarantine facility inside the space station. He pretended to greet the futuristic-looking robots guarding the halls before carefully slipping into the room he knew she was in.

    “Maxx!” She gave an excited squeal at the sight of him, making him place a finger on his lips.

    “Shh …” he shushed her. Then whispered, “How are you, 9033?”

    She shrugged. “Okay, I guess. I can’t remember what I’m called though,” she said in a hushed voice. “Why are you whispering?” she asked.

    “Because we have to keep quiet,” he answered.

    She seemed to remember something, and turning her wide blue eyes on him, she exclaimed, “Do you know I have a scar in the back of my head? I can’t see it though, but it feels all smooth.”

    He frowned. “Can you show me the place?” he asked, softly, dreading what he might see.

    “Sure.” She lifted her long shiny tresses of hair away and tilted her head forward to allow him a look.

    He moved his head one way and then the other, looking at her from various positions. The black patch on her scalp looked a lot like what he had learned in his criminology class—a memory chip.

    So, he thought. Her memories aren’t completely lost. They had simply been extracted through that chip.

    “9033,” he started, but she made a tutting noise, making him stop.

    “I hate being called that.”

    “But you don’t remember your name,” he tried to reason.

    “Give me a name.”

    He gave her a hard look then, before whispering, “Zara.”

    She smiled. “I like it.”

    He let out a soft sigh at the sight of her smile. So pure and innocent.

    “Well, Zara,” he said, getting back to business, “I need your fingerprint.”

  10. Clean-up

    elements: Show Me The Place, Various Positions, Crime
    289 words


    “Show me the place,” ordered Tyra.

    Corporal Taylor keyed in the access code and led Lieutenant Tyra McDonald down to the cargo hold.


    “Yes. Blood spatter indicates extermination was carried out in the immediate vicinity…”


    “The amount of blood loss indicates survival would’ve been impossible.”

    “Not to mention the vital organs,” said Tyra moving across the cordoned-off area to examine the heart, lungs and kidneys placed in various positions around the hold. “The death of Lynden Berman is, of course, a tragedy,” murmured Tyra, forcing her face into a suitable mask of sorrow, as the Captain appeared at her side.

    “A quick clean-up is vital,” he said. “We have six hours until we dock at Nebula One, and I need to have answers ready for CEO Berman. To have her husband murdered on what should have been a simple ‘job swap’ risks a trade crisis.”

    “I remember when she put the idea forward. She wanted him to experience life on the orbital routes, feed back on working conditions.”

    “Nosy bloody woman,” said the Captain. “But of course this could’ve been worse for you… I mean…”

    Tyra nodded. It was her own husband, Brandon, who’d swapped with Berman. It could have been him. She recalled their last dinner at the CEO’s. The two men had gone off to watch an alter-reality show, leaving her and Valeria alone to chat about life, the universe and everything, including their disappointing partners. When they’d left, the two women had come to an agreement of their own. One part of which had now been carried out … according to Valeria’s instructions. She briefly wondered about Brandon and then dismissed him from her thoughts. CEO Berman was an extremely efficient woman.

  11. Death of a Ladies’ Man


    Show me the Place; Death of a Ladies’ Man; Crime

    272 Words

    “Show me the place where he touched you, little one.”

    The small girl with the haunted eyes dutifully started pointing. I tried to stay calm.

    Should’ve asked where he didn’t touch her.

    “That’s OK. You can stop. He can’t hurt you anymore, OK?”

    She nodded, and was once again enveloped by the waiting paramedics, glints of anger seeping through their steely-eyed professionalism.

    The mother paced around the living room, restless and edgy. Like a caged tiger.

    Wild eyes locked on mine.

    “I warned him,” she seethed through clenched teeth. “I warned him, I did. He didn’t listen.”

    Her pacing continued, her bloodied hands impulsively balling into fists and then releasing themselves again.

    “I told him, if he ever touched my daughter, I’d rip out his ‘Ladies’ Man’ and make him fucking EAT it. I told him. He laughed.” She paused her frantic pacing, and looked me in the eyes again. “That asshole LAUGHED! Right in my face!”

    She roared and bolted for the bedroom, where the mutilated corpse still lay where it had fallen.


    Officers scrambled to restrain her from beating the dead man into even more of a pulp, but her white-hot rage was almost insurmountable. I turned away from the carnage and headed back to the door. My junior met me there.

    “So how do we call it, boss? Murder? Manslaughter?”

    I glanced back at the chaos inside and then to the shell-shocked child in the ambulance. Her ripped dress and bruising made it hard for me to sympathise with the victim.

    I sighed and shook my head ruefully. “More like suicide, if you ask me.”

  12. Sian Brighal
    290 words

    Closing Time / Death of a Ladies’ Man / Memoir


    I’m old and almost spent, which is good as the doc just said it’s closing time. Time to get a few more in before last orders, but he advised to buy shots. Funny, but I thought I’d go out and do the things I kept putting off. Instead, I went home, sat in the wooden chair at the kitchen table, nursed a scotch and stared at thirty years ago.

    I died back then. Sat in a chair much like this one…can still feel the wood biting into my back, the heady heat of a summer trying to crush us down. The smell of coffee was strong in the air, the scratchy feel of smoke in the eyes and throat, and the rattling hum of an impotent electric fan dully spinning round.

    She was standing, her hands flat against the worktop, her back bent, curved against my neglect and…foolish wandering. I was sure she’d let it slide…she always had. A few apologies, a few assurances…another round of promises and she’d be good. Never thought she had a limit.

    But when she turned, no gentler eyes have ever killed: gutted me, emptied me. And she stood there like Nemesis made flesh, each wound in her eyes or announced on her twitching lips.

    She straightened up like righteous wrath, and she cupped my face in unflinching hands. Her lips were warm and soft against my own as she passed down her sentence in a kiss, and when she looked at me, I knew. No execution was so sublime as she stole my breath, drawing out the hallelujahs I never knew I had. And in the aftermath, in her hold, with the taste of her and her name on my lips, I came alive.

  13. Show Me the Place / You Want It Darker / Memoir
    300 words

    A Million Tiny Thanksgivings

    The year my father made cousin Quintonella cry was the last time we had relatives for Thanksgiving dinner. Even as an uncultured eight year old, I knew my father was someone best swept under the rug.

    Wednesday evening, everyone piled into the Buick stationwagon – adults in the real seats, kids writhing in the back like the snake scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. We went from paved roads, to dirt roads, to a rutted driveway. We piled out at a farm near Mount Solon. “Show me the place where delicious birds live,” Dad hollered. I hid behind the turkey houses. Dad and the farmer picked out the avian victim, and Dad, as he did each Thanksgiving Eve, challenged the bird to a life or death wrestling match. Winner feasts on the loser for Thanksgiving dinner.

    I never thought the turkeys had more than a kernel of understanding about why they were wrestling. The dull glint in their eyes brightened after human contact, but faded to panic after realizing arms trump wings as a weapon of war. On the ride home, Aunt Mildred and the cousins were as pale as ghosts.

    Our dinner guests were afforded a privilege the rest of the family never received: the choice of white meat, dark meat, or squid. Dad packed a cephalopod inside the bird before roasting. Way better for flavor than bread and celery, he’d explain every year. When cousin Quintonella mentioned that her slice of turkey thigh had more white bits than the dark bits she’d asked for, Dad snapped. “You want it darker!” The squid’s ink sac splattered onto her plate.

    The slamming door sealed our future as the family that gives thanks alone. Which, except for Dad’s incorporating a thrown ink sac into every future Thanksgiving, was fine with me.

  14. Sleight of Hand

    “Show me.”

    “I can’t.”

    “Ma’am I need you to show me the place-“

    “No, I can’t. Truly,” she pleaded.

    Tears were welling in the woman’s eyes but Detective Brigham had press on. He pointed his pencil at the lone item on the stage of the empty theater: a large cabinet on casters. The trails in the pool of blood on the stage floor were evidence enough that the cabinet had been moved recently. “I know you’re shook up, but I need you to focus for me. Show me where the swords go.”

    “If I tell you, it voids my contract with the union, and I’ll never get work again.” She wiped her nose on a sequined sleeve that matched her skin-tight leotard.

    “And if you don’t tell me, I’ll have to assume you’re an accessory to this man’s death.”

    “I’ve got a daughter at home.”

    Brigham tucked his pencil behind his ear, and approached the dresser where, until half an hour ago, a man’s dead body had been lying out of. A dull sword still impaled in his stomach.

    “So you were having an affair with your employer?” The Detective checked his notepad again. “The Amazing Gerald?”

    She nodded. He continued, “You know you weren’t the only one, right?” She blinked indifferently. He’d seen that look on her face enough to know his instincts were still strong.

    “You found out today, didn’t you?”

    A cold stare. Her tears were gone.

    “That he was sleeping with all of his assistants? Not one. . . but all.”

    She nodded.

    “So you did it. You switched out one of the dummy swords with a real one.”

    She nodded again. Brigham had seen many a death of a ladies’ man before. But never one that played out in front of a sold out theater.

    300 words
    Show Me The Place, Death of a Ladies’ Man, Crime.

    1. Brady, I amended “skin tight” to “skin-tight”, since it is a compound adjective. Reducing the word count 299.
      This meant that, inside of “many a death of lady’s man”, you could have “many a death of a ladies’ man” as required by the prompt.
      [ All’s well that ends well. 🙂 ]

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