"The Night Movers"

Sometime in the late summer of 2020 -- that horrible year! -- I stumbled across a BBC article about Japan's jouhatsu, "the evaporated ones," people who, for whatever reason or combination of reasons, want to disappear from their lives and start afresh, in a new location, with a new identity. According to the article, there are shadowy companies called "night movers" who help the jouhatsu to begin anew.

"There's a story there," I thought, and it didn't take me long to come up with a plot line. Since Laurie and I had recently moved to Brandermill, a lovely development west of Richmond, Virginia, I decided to set the key scene there, on a bench overlooking the Swift Creek Reservoir. If you read the story -- which you can buy here -- you'll see that there's a reference to two kayakers out on the lake, and that's Laurie and me. I'm particularly happy with the way this one ends -- it's got a very creepy "Specialty of the House" vibe in its last sentence.

When I sent this one to Kerry Carter at Mystery Weekly, she accepted it ... but suggested I might want to make it a little shorter, so that it would qualify as a piece of "flash fiction." (Understandable, since I'd just won the Derringer Award for Best Flash Story for "The Two-Body Problem," which Kerry published in Mystery Weekly in 2019.) That would have meant cutting about a hundred words, though, and I really didn't think this was a case where shorter would be better.

"The Night Movers" came out in the January 2021 Mystery Weekly and was my sixth appearance in the magazine.

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