Painted Black

Jo Sullivan just wanted some new material for her column in Winds of Change, a weekly rag willing to dust the dirt off the seamier side of Chicago. Then she meets fifteen-year-old Lexie Green, with her haunting eyes, eerie tale, and the terror that sends the girl fleeing into the night. When Lexie disappears, Jo finds herself haunted by her own dark past and unable to ignore the anonymous faces of youth on the streets, Together with Cry, a street graffiti artist and friend of Lexie, Jo uncovers a path littered with corpses, corporate greed and one man’s private collection of freeze-dried cadavers.

Christopher Robert Young, Cry for short, told himself he went with Lexie to keep her safe, that it had nothing to do with his struggle to avoid hustling along the harbor like Moon and the others. Selling blow jobs for forty bucks, however, pales in comparison to what he finds in Cole’s apartment above the funeral home. And even a hungry kid will only go so far to fill his stomach. In the ensuing struggle, Chris escapes but Lexie does not and that fact still haunts him.

Sidney Cole’s fascination with death has soothed him since childhood. From the dead pigeon he kept in a shoe box under his bed so he could stroke the downy feathers, to the first failed experiment in human sublimation he should have disposed of-but didn’t. He just wants to be left alone with his collection, and his fantasies. And Philip Quinlan had promised him peace.


This is one of those stories that really opens your eyes. Homeless street kids are everywhere but do we really stop and notice them as we go about our day to day lives? Jo Sullivan is a reporter writing a Street Stories column who after a brief meeting with Lexie Green becomes embroiled in one of the most unique mysteries I’ve read in a long time. From drugs, hustling, and child abuse to the seedy and disgusting desires of a strange and twisted man this story keeps you reading from page one to the last word. Dark, gritty and suspenseful this is a seat of your pants ride that you won’t soon forget.

Debra R. Borys spent eight years volunteering with homeless on the streets of both Chicago and Seattle. She is a freelance writer who specializes in fiction but has experience in everything from news shorts to how-to manuals. Several of her short stories have been published in online and print magazines. Currently she is working on a second novel in the Jo Sullivan series which combines mystery and suspense with the reality of throw away youth striving to survive.

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