Black Petals Issue #87 Spring, 2019

God's Canyon

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God's Canyon-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Napper's Holler, Chapter 10-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler, Chapter 11-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler, Chapter 12-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
There's an App for That-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Sepia Photograph-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Chorus-Poem set by Christopher Hivner
Granite Garden-Poem set from Michael Keshigian
Cottonmouth-Poem set from Hillary Lyon

srimgrandcanyon.jpg

God’s Canyon

 

By BP Editor Kenneth James Crist

A motorcycle miracle tale

 

 

Jenny had just finished putting another five-dollar bill in her stash of “runaway” money, when she heard the rumble of the big Harley out at the pumps. She hurriedly put back the loose board in the floor of her room and scurried downstairs to wait on the customer. She knew if she didn’t step lively the old man would start in on her, and with the summer heat, no air conditioning, and a low-grade headache already—she didn’t need that.

Jenny had lived in her small Kansas town all her eighteen years. “Piss-ant” town, her father called it. Their gas and grocery suited the town perfectly. It was a two-pump, three-cooler, one-counter operation, with living quarters, if they could be called that, upstairs.

She moved briskly through the store and outside, letting the old wooden screen door slam behind her. As soon as she let go of it, she winced. The flat, cracking sound in the hot, dry afternoon didn’t help her head at all.

As she approached the pumps, she looked the motorcycle over. She took in dazzling burgundy paint in contrast with a worn, comfortable-looking saddle, gleaming chrome pipes and sagging, supple leather saddlebags—a dangerous combination of contradictions.

“Help you, sir?” she asked.

The man was tall and lanky, dressed in Levi’s and boots, along with a blue workshirt. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and on one forearm a tattoo showed. He stared at her and she tried to see past his aviator-style sunglasses, to see his eyes. There was something there...but then he pushed the glasses up onto his head and said, “I dunno, can you fill this without spillin’ gas all over it?”

“No problem, sir.”

He removed both gas caps and said, “Give it your best.”

Jenny cranked up the premium pump and carefully filled the left tank, capping it, then the right, while the rider’s eyes followed her every move. As she shut down the pump and hung the nozzle she asked, “Be anything else, sir?”

“Don’t suppose you’d have any Harley oil?”

“I don’t...wait a minute. Let me go look.”

She ran into the store and on back to the storage area. Something had stirred a memory. She went through shelves and pushed things aside until she finally found one old can of oil with the distinctive orange Harley Davidson logo. It was moist and slightly slick on the outside and left a ring in the dust where it had sat for years. She trotted back through the store and out to the waiting stranger.

“Best I could do,” she panted.

He took the oil can and looked it over. “Damn, girl. Wonder how long that’s been sittin’.”

“I have no idea, really.”

“Haven’t seen oil in cardboard cans in years.”

“Probably no good, huh?”

“Oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s just strange that you had this right when I needed it.” He set about opening the can with a Buck knife he produced from his boot. “What’s your name?”

“Jenny, sir.”

“Well, Jenny, you’re a life saver today, and very polite, not to mention pretty.” He opened the oil tank on his machine and added the quart of oil. Jenny felt a flush creeping up her face. He thought she was pretty!

“My name’s Donnie, “he said as he tossed the empty can in the trash. Then he turned to her and offered his hand. He wore fingerless gloves, with metal studs on the backs, and his hands were very brown and strong-looking. Jenny took his hand and felt her heart downshift and speed up. Then his hand was gone and he murmured, “Been a pleasure, Jenny. What do I owe you?”

“Huh? Oh. The gas was four bucks.”

“And the oil?”

“Oh. I dunno...it’s been in the back for years. On the house, I guess.”

He pulled out a battered brown wallet and extracted a five. “Very generous of you, Jenny. Keep the change.” He swung onto his machine and turned the switch and as Jenny turned to walk back into the store she heard the kick-starter crank and the engine rumble to life. She glanced back as she heard the machine clank into gear and watched as the man (Donnie-his name’s Donnie) settled his sunglasses back on his face. Then he glanced at her and smiled and pulled out onto the street. Jenny stood at the door and listened to the song of the Harley’s pipes until they were gone, then her father yelled for her and she went back inside.

 

 

Jenny Walters’ life was going nowhere. She had finished school and there had been no money for her to go on to college, as many of her friends had. She had other friends and acquaintances who were already starting families, with and without the benefit of husbands. Then there were the ones who were into drugs, not to mention the ones who had already died, from car crashes and suicides.

Her own mother had passed away when she was small enough that now it was difficult for Jenny to remember her at all. There was just her and her father.

Les Walters was a bitter man and it showed in everything he did. He hated the government that made him pay taxes to support deadbeats and told him what he could sell and when he could sell it. He hated the police who had charged the man who killed his wife with drunk driving and nothing more. He hated the jury that had failed to convict the man of even that lowly crime. And he hated being alone. Of course, there was Jenny, but he considered her more of a burden than a help. He also hated his wheelchair. The same accident that killed his wife had put him in it, for life. He had a lot to hate, and much of the time the pot boiled over.

He kept a loaded .38 Special under the counter of his store, in hopes that someday some scumbag would have the audacity to just try and rob him.

 

 

Jenny had her first dream about the man, Donnie, two nights after she met him. She had put the extra dollar he tipped her in her stash and, just before she put it in the cheap tin box, she had kissed it, feeling foolish and immature as she did it, but not at all able to stop herself.

In the dream they were on his bike, flashing through canyons, past sheer rock walls, the exhaust pipes yammering and reverberating, the machine vibrating as the engine strained. She was holding onto the only available handhold—her arms were wrapped tightly around Donnie and the side of her face was pressed against his back. She could smell the clean cotton cloth of his shirt and some other, spicy odor of deodorant or cologne.

Under the sound of the engine she could hear and feel another sound, and she listened closely, trying to identify what it was, until she finally realized he was singing. She awoke moments later, almost painfully aroused, and lay in her bed wondering where he was right at that moment.

 

 

That evening, just ten minutes before closing, he showed up. Jenny heard the Harley coming two blocks away and was standing at the pumps when he pulled up—no sunglasses this time—wearing a black shirt with a dragon embroidered on the pocket. His eyes were blue and full of pleasure as he spoke to her.

“Evenin’, Jenny. How ya been?”

“Fine, Donnie. How ‘bout you?”

“I’m gettin’ along. Fill it up?”

“You bet,” she said, and cranked up the pump.

As she was replacing the first gas cap, he asked, “You ever go riding?”

She found she had to swallow before she could answer. “Nope. I’ve never even been on a motorcycle.” Except in my dreams, she thought.

“That’s a shame. You’re missin’ a treat.”

“Isn’t it dangerous?”

“Of course. That’s why it’s fun. But it’s only as dangerous as you make it.”

“I...I’d like to go, sometime.”

“How ‘bout tonight?”

Jenny replaced the second cap and hung up the nozzle, her mind racing. “I’d have to sneak out. Otherwise, my dad will raise hell.”

Donnie pulled out his wallet and asked, “How old are you, Jenny?”

“Eighteen, almost nineteen,” she said, her chin coming up, her gaze as she looked at him almost defiant, “why?”

“That’s old enough to vote, and old enough to go into the military and get killed, even old enough to drink in some states. And you still let your dad tell you what to do?”

“It’s...it’s just easier, okay? He’s in a wheelchair and he’s pretty hateful sometimes, and...I just try to get along, ya know?”

Donnie handed her five ones and asked, “What time?”

“Huh?”

“What time shall I come by?”

“Oh. Oh, man. I don’t know. I’ll have to wait ‘til he’s asleep. It might be pretty late...”

“Tell ya what. You get out whenever you can, and I’ll come by.”

“But, how will you know...?”

He smiled at her and said, “I’ll know. Trust me.”

Jenny stepped back as he cranked the Harley, then asked, “Do you want your change?”

“Nope. You keep it, and I’ll see you later.”

He rolled out to the street and, seconds later, was gone.

From inside the store, Les Walters watched his daughter. She was getting too damn friendly with the customers, especially that guy on the bike. He’d have to speak to her about that. He reached behind his head to the breaker box on the wall and started shutting down his pumps.

 

 

It was after eleven before Jenny could be sure Les Walters was asleep. When she could hear him snoring and he was going real good, she carefully left her room and, avoiding all the boards that might squeak, made her way downstairs and through the darkened store and out the front door. She had her key and a few dollars in the pockets of her jeans and she carried a sweater. She walked out to the street, then decided to get away from the store a little ways. She walked down to the corner and loitered a few minutes under the streetlamp.

This is stupid. This is how girls get raped and murdered and found lying in ditches, she thought. Insects flew around the quietly humming streetlight and in the distance a dog barked. A few blocks over, on the main drag, tires squealed as some kid popped the clutch on his old car and voices howled in drunken laughter.

Great. Just great. I’m gonna stand here half the night, like a hooker looking for tricks, and he’s not gonna show up.

She was ready to go and sneak back into the store, back into her life, when she heard the Harley coming to her in the distance. When he turned the corner a block down, he never even looked at the store. He came straight to her, as if he knew exactly where she would be. Fifty feet before he pulled up to her, he killed the engine and lights, and, as he stopped, flipped out the kickstand. He set the machine over onto the stand and greeted her with a smile, as the pipes ticked, cooling down.

“Hi, Jenny.”

“Hi.” Suddenly that throat-lump was back and shyness packed her chest.

“You brought a sweater. That’s good, but you’ll need more than that. Temperature drops as soon as you get outta town.” He stepped to the left saddlebag and extracted an old, worn leather bomber jacket, holding it out for her to slip into. As she slipped the jacket on, his arms enfolded her for just a second and he whispered, close to her ear, “Glad you came out.” Jenny found herself momentarily unsteady on her feet and he took her by her shoulders until she regained her balance.

Then he straddled the Harley and said, “Hop on. Let’s ride.”

Jenny approached the bike, uncertain as to how to mount it, and Donnie noticed.

“I’m sorry, Jenny. My fault. You’ve never done this before. Look, just put your left hand on my shoulder. Now put your right hand on the sissy bar. Good. Now put your left foot on the passenger peg, see it? Now step up and over, just like mounting a horse.”

Jenny settled onto the back saddle and Donnie cranked the machine. It rumbled to life and she asked, “Where do I hang on?”

“Anywhere you can find. If you’re shy, hang onto the seat frame. If you’re not, you can hang onto me. If your hands get cold, put ‘em in my jacket pockets.” Then he eased out the clutch and they were rolling swiftly through town and out onto the highway, westbound.

“Where are we headed?” she asked.

“Where would you like to go?”

“I dunno, really.”

“No, seriously, tell me your heart’s desire. Where have you always wanted to go?”

Jenny thought a minute, then said, “I guess I’ve always wanted to see a big city, you know, just to see the lights and all the people. But there’s no big cities around here.”

“How about Las Vegas? That’s the jumpinest, glitziest place I know of.”

“But, that’s...what? Twelve, thirteen hundred miles....we can’t go there...I have to be back in the morning.”

Donnie chuckled and said, “Trust me.” Then he rolled the throttle.

 

 

It seemed to Jenny that they were on the road only a short time. Perhaps a half-hour. Later, as she tried to recall the trip, she would find she had only the vaguest recollection of traffic and highways, mountains and valleys, and the wind, always the wind, in her hair and snapping the collar of the old jacket that smelled like Donnie.

They rolled into Las Vegas without even stopping for gas. Down the strip, past all the great casinos and hotels, the city lit up like daytime, the sidewalks crowded with gamblers and show goers.

Donnie rolled up in front of Harrah’s and the parking valet greeted them.

“Evenin’, Mr. Blunt! Haven’t seen you in a while.”

They stepped off the Harley as Donnie said, “Say, Jimmy. How ya doin’? Be careful with her, okay?”

“Sure thing, Mr. Blunt.”

The young attendant stepped to the Harley, straddled it, and took off for the garage.

“He knows you?” Jenny asked.

“Yeah, they all know me. I’m here pretty often.”

At the door, the security man asked Jenny for some ID, but Donnie said, “She’s with me.” and they let her pass.

“You’re really supposed to be twenty-one to get in here,” he said, “so look mature, okay?”

They headed for the cashier’s cage and Donnie bought ten one-dollar tokens.

“That’s not very much to gamble with.” Jenny said.

“It’ll be enough. I feel lucky tonight.”

Donnie walked her through the casino, to a bank of dollar slot machines and stopped at a machine that was vacant. He loaded the machine with five tokens and pulled the lever. The machine rolled up random symbols and paid nothing. Donnie smiled at her and said, “That was for practice.”

He put five more tokens in the machine and pulled the lever. This time, it showed straight sevens on one pay line, straight cherries on the next and straight bars on the third. The jackpot light came on and bells started ringing. Jenny stood astounded as a security man and a floor supervisor came over and cleared the machine and gave Donnie a voucher for 5,800 dollars. They went to the cashier’s and collected the money, and Donnie said, “How about some dinner?”

It seemed to Jenny that time stood still that evening. Even though they didn’t leave her home town until almost midnight, it seemed they spent hours walking the strip, watching the laser shows, and cruising the casinos. At last, they left Vegas and it seemed in only minutes until they were in mountains and the Harley was parked. Donnie built a campfire and they sat together watching the flames dance.

Jenny thought about all that had happened and finally asked, “Who are you?”

“I’m Donnie Blunt. Robert Tachman. Dante Stevens. William Haven. I could go on all evening, but at some point you’d get bored.”

“I...I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of this.”

“I know you don’t, Jenny, and maybe you never will, but I’ll try to tell you the truth, as I know it.”

“Please do, because this is all so confusing. Is it...some kind of magic?”

“Sort of. Probably. I’m not really sure about that part. I do know this. When we die, it doesn’t end. We return. I have a curse, or a blessing, I don’t know which. I can remember, vividly, every life I’ve ever lived. It’s not supposed to work that way, you know. Each life is meant to be a fresh start, a chance to renew and redeem one’s self.”

“I’m not sure I believe you.”

“I’m not surprised. But you have lived before, also. I knew you in a past life. We raised children together, and I’ve missed you very much.”

A shiver passed through Jenny and she drew closer to Donnie and to the fire.

“How did you find me?”

“Blind luck. Never thought I’d find you at all. Wouldn’t have ever expected to find you pumping gas.”

“How old are you?”

“You mean in this life? Thirty. Or do you mean total? That, I don’t know. I remember walking the Nile while the Pyramids were being built. I fought for Napoleon and Hitler. I died on the Russian front in the winter. I never met Jesus of Nazareth, but I knew Mark, his disciple.”

“Unbelievable.”

“I know, Jenny, just like it’s unbelievable that we went to Vegas and it’s not even two in the morning.”

In spite of herself, Jenny yawned, and Donnie got up and went to the bike, returning with an old wool blanket. “Here. Wrap up in this and catch a nap. I’ll keep you safe.”

“Do you...would you like to join me?”

“Yes, I’d love to, but I don’t think we’re ready for that.”

“This is a nice blanket,” Jenny said, admiring the colors. The burgundy stripes were an exact match to the paint on the Harley.

“It’s Navajo,” he said, gazing into the fire, “one of my wives made it a couple hundred years ago. I found it in a trading post in New Mexico last year, hanging on the wall, being used as art. I bought it back.” He looked over at Jenny and she was asleep.

 

 

Donnie woke her as light was coming into the eastern sky. She felt like she had slept a long time. He rolled the blanket and started the Harley, saying, “We’ll have to hurry. I held off the dawn as long as I could, but some things are inevitable.”

Again, it seemed that only minutes passed and they were rolling into her town. He dropped her off at the corner and said, “I’ll see you soon.”

“When?”

“Whenever you can get out. I’ll know.”

She bent slightly and kissed him beside his ear and touched his shoulder as he pulled out. Then she trudged down to the store. When she got there, her old man was already up and wanting breakfast. “Where the hell you been?” he asked.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I took a walk.” she replied, but she knew he’d heard the Harley.

“I know where ya been. Ya snuck out an’ went ridin’ with that guy on the Hog.”

Jenny swallowed a lump of fear and said, “Well, what if I did? I’m not a little kid. In case you didn’t notice, Pop, I grew up on ya.”

“Did ya sleep with him?”

She stared at her father, sitting in his wheelchair, needing a shave, his hair sticking up in back. She couldn’t believe he’d really asked that question.

“No, I didn’t. Not that it’s any of your business.” She was starting to get pissed.

“You’d best stay away from that kind. They’ll just hurt ya.”

“You don’t know anything about him...”

“I know all I need to know! Sumbitch is a biker, isn’t he?”

Now Jenny could feel her cheeks burning with anger, and she said in a quiet, barely controlled voice, “Oh, he’s a lot more than that, Pop.”

“Better just stay clear of him.”

His voice was getting strident, but Jenny couldn’t stop herself.

“I’ll go out with whomever I choose. It’s my decision, Pop, not yours.”

“Don’t you take that tone with me, girl. Don’t you sass me!”

Jenny left him down in the store, ranting and fuming, and went to her room. She lay on her bed, determined that she would not cry. She thought about Donnie and all that had happened during the night, then at last she turned on her side, grabbed her pillow and, burying her face in its coolness, sobbed.

 

 

Midnight found her out on the street again, this time farther away from the little store. She waited almost thirty minutes before she heard the rumble of the bike. She would have waited all night.

With Donnie was a second rider on a similar machine, and with the stranger was another girl.

Donnie rolled up, and Jenny greeted him with a kiss, planted slightly off-center on his mouth. He introduced the other rider, a shorter, stockier man of about his same age.

“This is Alex. It’s Alexander, actually. He and I were in the Roman legions together, but he doesn’t believe it, because he can’t remember it. He just thinks I’m goofy and that’s why he likes me. The cute girl is Dawn, his current squeeze.”

“Hey, watch it!” Dawn said, then grinned. “Nice to meet you, Jenny.”

They waited while Jenny clambered aboard; then they were off, engines snarling as they headed out into the countryside.

Again Jenny found herself in a near dream-state, as the miles whipped by. It seemed that only a few minutes had passed and they were pulling into a small parking lot. A sign read, “Canyon overlook-South Rim”.

“Where are we?” Jenny asked.

“Grand Canyon,” Donnie answered, “God’s Canyon, really. Ever been here?”

“No,” she answered weakly. It was a thousand miles from her town to here.

“It’s a magical place,” Donnie said, “so I come here a lot.”

Together, they walked up to the overlook. They picked their way carefully in bright moonlight until they reached the safety rail, where they could look down a mile into the canyon.

“God, it’s so beautiful,” Jenny breathed.

Donnie climbed over the rail, an action expressly forbidden by signs.

“The view is much better from out here,” he said, holding out his hand to her. Jenny glanced at Alex and Dawn, standing nearby. They merely watched her with interest, to see what her reaction would be.

“Donnie...I dunno...that looks pretty dangerous to me...”

“You’ll be fine, Darlin’. Step over.”

Jenny’s heart was hammering as she climbed carefully over the pipe rail and entered forbidden territory. As she stepped down on Donnie’s side of the rail and turned to him, reaching for his hand, he stepped back...and back...and back, until he had walked her right to the edge of the jutting rock formation. His back was to a mile-deep drop, yet he was unconcerned and didn’t even bother to look behind him.

“Donnie, for God’s sake...”

“God’s busy right now. Come sit beside me.” Then he turned and sat down on the very edge, his feet dangling over emptiness.

Jenny sat down a few feet back and gingerly scooted forward on her rear, until she was right beside him. He took her hand at last, and her grip was that of a drowning man.

“Jesus, this is scary!” Her voice shook so badly, it was almost comical. Almost.

“Jesus is busy, too. He’s answering prayers. If we decide to slip over the edge, we’re on our own.”

Jenny laughed nervously and said, “Don’t talk crazy, okay?”

“It’s not crazy, Jenny. See, you only perceive one life. You can’t see the past ones you’ve lived, so you can’t be certain there’ll be others. I know that if I die right now, I’ll merely become a child again, and if you think about it, childhood is the best part of your life.”

“I don’t think I’m ready to die.”

“I’m sure you’re not, but I am, at any moment. See, when you know about all your past lives and you know you will continue to live more lives, a lot of the mystery and scary stuff goes away.”

“All I know is, I’m not ready to die. Not here. Not now.”

“What are you ready to do?”

“Anything, as long as I can do it with you.”

“Thank you for your trust, Jenny, but that’s the wrong answer. Flattering, but wrong. I meant, what are you ready to do with your life?”

“I dunno, I hadn’t thought about it lately.”

“Gonna pump gas in Dickweed, Kansas ‘til you’re old and gray?”

“No! Hell, no! But I don’t know...”

“Yes, you do, Jenny. Look deep in your heart, and share.”

They sat in silence for a little while, then, at last, she gave her answer.

“I want to go to college. I want to study and eventually teach.”

“Bingo. I knew it.”

How did you know it?” she asked, with a touch of skepticism in her voice.

“You were a teacher before, when I knew you. And you will be, again.”

“There’s no money for that. My dad and I already discussed it.”

Donnie reached into his jacket pocket and took something out and handed it to her. In the moonlight, she could distinguish a packet of bills.

“I can’t take this...”

“You must. It’s the money I won on the slot machine in Vegas. It means nothing to me. I can go there and win more, anytime. But for you, it’s tuition and rent, to get you started. You’ll have to work, probably full-time, and go to school at the same time. It’ll be very hard, but anything worth doing is difficult. I know you’ll make it.”

“But…I can’t leave my dad...”

“Sure you can. You must.”

“How will he ever get along?”

“He’ll hire some kid, or he’ll figure out how to manage by himself. If you don’t leave and go your own way, you’ll live your life under his thumb until he dies. Then your life will have been wasted. You’ll be old and bitter, and for what?”

Jenny sat for a while, staring into the impressive depths of God’s canyon, then she turned to Donnie and reached for him, wrapping her arms around him, and they kissed, this time a real kiss. When at last they broke apart, she said, “Thank you.”

“Thank you, too, Jenny.”

“For what?”

“For the life we had, before. You died that time, in childbirth, and I was away. I never got the chance to tell you how much I really cared.”

She held on to him fiercely and whispered into his collar, “Can we go somewhere private? I want to be with you.”

“I don’t think so, Jenny.”

She thrust him away and peered into his face, suspecting rejection, and asked, “Why not?”

“I don’t think it’s supposed to go that way. Not this time. We’d best get you home. It’ll be getting light out soon.”

 

 

Jenny was on her corner the next night and she heard the sound of a Harley coming, but it was Alex, alone. He stopped and shut off his machine and hung his head as he told her an awful thing. Donnie had crossed the center line of the highway and hit a truck rig the night before, just after they’d dropped her off. Donnie was dead. Alex wasn’t able to look at her face.

As she stood there looking at Alex, she heard Donnie’s voice in her mind saying, it’s only as dangerous as you make it. Had Donnie been ready to die? Had he planned this?

Jenny turned and ran back to the tiny store, to once again hide in her room and weep into her pillow.

 

 

The Continental Trailways bus ran through Jenny’s small town at noon each day. Her bags were packed, sitting in her room upstairs. With the money from her stash, she had over six thousand dollars to begin her college life with. Now she was having the argument with her father, the one she had been dreading for days.

“How will you live?”

“I’ll manage, Pop.”

Where will you live?”

“I’ll get a place. I’ve got some money.”

“You’ve got shit! You don’t have any idea what it’s like out in the real world.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Pop. I know exactly what it’s like.”

“Well, you’re not leavin’. That’s all there is to it. You’ll stay here an’ do what’s right.”

Jenny’s fingers caressed the cool steel of the .38 Special under the counter. She’d already decided she’d shoot him if she had to, then herself. One way or another, she was leaving…

 

 

At the university, in Wichita, Jenny settled in quickly. She found a roommate to share an apartment with and got a job waiting tables at a Denny’s. Someday, she knew, she would teach, and perhaps marry and raise a family. The only time she ever felt restless was when she would sometimes be lying awake late at night, and hear the sound of motorcycle engines out on the freeway.


The End

 

 

Kenneth Crist, blkptls@cox.net, www.blackpetals.net, of Wichita, Kansas, wrote BP #87’s “God’s Canyon” (+ BP #86’s “Tingles”; BP #85’s “It’s Out There…”; the SF serial, starting in BP #76,  SURVIVING MONTEZUMA;  BP #78’s “Those Other Guys”; “The Big Well” & “Virtuality” for BP #75; “Gift of the Anasazi” for BP #73; “The Weeping Man” for BP #72; “Pebbles” for BP #71; “The Diner” for BP #67; “New Glasses” for BP #61; “Ones and Zeros” for BP #50, & the novelette Joshua) and has edited BP for many years, continuing as Editor Emeritus, then Coeditor/Webmaster. Widely published, esp. in Hardboiled and on Yellow Mama, he also has four chapbooks currently for sale in Kindle format on Amazon.com: Dreaming of Mirages, The Gazing Ball, Joshua, and Groaning for Burial, his latest zombie fiction.

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