Smorgasbord Short Stories – Authors in the Sun – #Blackmail- The Millennial by John W. Howell

When I worked on radio in the south of Spain I presented and recorded four series of Authors in the Sun showcasing local writers and their short stories. I ran a series here on the blog in 2017 which was much enjoyed and showed off the skills of some amazing writers.

I would love to share your short stories here too this summer and details of how you can participate is at the end of the post.

The Millennial by John W. Howell

He sits at the counter eating what passes for oatmeal with an eye on his iPhone sitting next to the coffee cup. She said this was the day to talk, and the damn phone always rings twice and then to voicemail. He took it into the Apple Store, and they said they found nothing wrong. So today, he’s not taking chances. He will see the bright light blinking when the call comes in. One thing he learned if calls from her go to voicemail, she hangs up without a word. Calls back are not answered. It’s almost like she wants to punish whoever doesn’t answer their phone.

“More coffee?”

The words hit him like an open palm to the top of his head.

“U-uh, no, I’m okay.”


“Yeah, sure.”

He realizes he is staring at the phone with his thoughts a million miles away. This crowded diner might as well have been a rock out in the desert for all he knew about his surroundings. Yet, the words from the server behind the counter brought him back. The damn call, he thinks. Why won’t she just go ahead and place the same call?

“Here you go, sir. you can pay me or at the register upfront.”

“You can take it. Here’s a ten.”

“Yes, sir. You want change?”

He waves his hand. “No. No, go ahead and keep the change.”

“Is everything alright, sir?”

He glances at her. “Yes. I think so. why do you ask.”

“Your check came to three bucks and change. That would make the tip higher than the bill.”

He frowns. “You asked, didn’t you?”

“Well, yeah, but that’s just out of habit and before I saw the check. I’ll get your change.”

“Not necessary. You keep it. I insist.”

She rolls her eyes. “Sure, sir. You’re the boss. Thank you.”

He grabs his phone and walks toward the front of the diner. As he reaches the door, the phone rings. He fumbles for the slide to take the call, and his fingers are move in slow motion. One ring down. His shaking fingers finally get the slide to work and puts the phone to his ear.


“It’s me.”

“Hi, Chris. Is everything okay?”

“Doin fine. Can you talk?”

“Yes, I’m just leaving a diner. Let me get outside where it’s not so noisy.”

“Make sure no one is around.”

“Okay, I’m in the street. You said you wanted to talk.”

“I need more money, Skip.”

“What are you talking about? Our arrangement was for fifty thousand and you said that would cover everything.”

“Well, you see, Skip, a girl’s gotta live, and I simply underestimated how much living would cost.”

“W-well, we had a deal. Fifty is a lot of money, and I just don’t have any more to spare.”

“Oh, come on, Skip. You and I both know you’re loaded. Besides, I would hate to have anyone find out about our little secret.”

“Is that a threat, Chis?”

“It’s not a threat, Skip. I need more money is all, and I’m getting desperate.”

“How much money?”

“Another twenty-five would work.”

“Not possible.”



“How much then?”

“Nada, zip, zero.”

“You are forcing me into a corner.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’re used to corners.”

“Come on, Dad. Let me have ten.”

“Chris. When I gave you the fifty, you were supposed to make that last the whole school year. Your mom warned me not to give it to you, but I did. So now I suppose you are threatening to tell her that you’re broke. Is that what you meant by anyone finding out?”

“Well, yes.”

“Tell her I don’t care.”

“Dad, you don’t mean that.”

“Okay, I’ll give you ten. Next year is going to be different. Come to the house for dinner, and I’ll have a check.”

“Uh, dad?”

“What, Chris?”

“Could you make it cash?”

©John W. Howell 2021

Thanks to John for sharing one of his unique takes on life and I know he would love your feedback..

About John W. Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the tension. The final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016 concludes the thriller series. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a different thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted.

The fifth book is a collaboration with the ​award-winning author, Gwen Plano titled The Contract. Heavenly bodies become concerned about the stability of the Earth and send two of their own to risk eternal salvation in order to save the planet. The Contract achieved number one status in its genre. John’s latest book is titled Eternal Road – The final stop and launched in September 2020. In search of their eternal home, Sam and James discover a threat to human existence. They also encounter the prince of darkness. The question is; can they save humankind and their eternal souls. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Books by John Howell

A recent review for The Contract

Bookworm 92 4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Action  Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2021

An easy read that is part thriller, part love story, a part supernatural. Peter and Teresa are two angels who are sent to earth to thwart an assassination attempt on the president. They assume the identities of Brad, a former Navy SEAL, and Sarah, a woman caught in an abusive marriage.

The action is fast-paced with a cast of characters that keep the reader guessing the identities of those involved in the assassination attempt. Coauthoring a book can’t be an easy task but this was well done so readers aren’t aware of different voices. There were places where the dialogue seemed a bit formal and out of character. Otherwise, an enjoyable book.  

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USand on: Amazon UK – Goodreads:John Howell Goodreads Blog: John W. Howell. com – Twitter@HowellWave

If you have a fiction short story to share with us then here is what I will need. Please send to

  • A word document with your edited story. A new story or one you have written and published on your blog.
  • 1000 to 1500 words.. but if it is slightly shorter or longer that is no problem. It can be any genre except for erotica as I have younger readers.
  • If you are an author or blogger who has featured here before I don’t need anything else.
  • If you are new to the blog then I will need an Amazon page link, blog or website links,three main social media links and a profile photograph.

I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your writing here… thanks Sally.


109 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Short Stories – Authors in the Sun – #Blackmail- The Millennial by John W. Howell

  1. Daughters have a way with their fathers, and this young woman knows her dad well. I didn’t expect the ending at all. Very clever, John, and well written. Thank you for sharing this winner, Sally. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Short Stories – Authors in the Sun – #Blackmail- The Millennial by John W. Howell | Legends of Windemere

  3. Great work, John! First off, I didn’t think he was waiting for a phone call from one of his kids. Cleverly done and way to build the suspense. I find it interesting that she never left messages asking for money, but perhaps that’s her M.O. Get him on the phone and then put the screws to him. John’s story is a good reminder that parents aren’t doing their kids any favors when they constantly slip them money.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – September 12th – 18th 2021 – Queen, Self-Care, Book Reviews, Bloggers, Health, Humour | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

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