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Everywhere He Sees Her-Fiction by Oliver Lodge
Vegas Phoenix-Fiction by Steve Prusky
Bad Burger-Fiction by Willie Smith
Death and Forsythia-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Eileen-Fiction by Ray Valent
Eleventh Frame-Fiction by Bruce Harris
Regarding the Destruction...-Fiction by Matthew Lyons
The Next Step-Fiction by Nicholas Manzolillo
What Men Show Whores-Fiction by M. E. Purfield
You Should've Called Me-Fiction by Carol Sojka
At the Zombie Five and Dime-Reprint by Kenneth James Crist
Cassie-Reprint by Frank Zafiro
Nice Life if You Don't Weaken-Reprint by Michelle Reale
Old Aunt Sin-Reprint by Gary Lovisi
Yellow Mama-Reprint by Cindy Rosmus
Bald Baby-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Ruby-Flash Fiction by Liz McAdams
Widow's Might-Flash Fiction by M. C. Neuda
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning-Flash Fiction by Victor Clevenger
Sunday Evening-Flash Fiction by Victor Clevenger
Monday, Around Noontime-Flash Fiction by Victor Clevenger
The Woman on the Train-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
What Have Some of Us Become?-Poem by John D. Robinson
She Knows Something-Poem by John Lunar Richey
Harley Caress-Poem by Joe Balaz
The Unspoken Words-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
A Thunderstorm's Sideshow-Poem by David Spicer
Fruits, Vegetables, and Mindy's Topaz Eyes-Poem by David Spicer
Catherine-Poem by J.J.Campbell
Failures With Past Lovers-Poem by J.J.Campbell
Stomp-Poem by David Mac
Wilt?-Poem by David Mac
Carol of the Bells-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Eden-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Crazy, Crazy-Poem by Marc Carver
Love-Poem by Marc Carver
The Worst Poet in the World-Poem by Marc Carver
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

forsythia.jpg
Art by Kevin Duncan © 2017

 Death and Forsythia

 

Kenneth James Crist

 

 Once again, spring had come to the city. It was much more comfortable sleeping than it had been just a couple weeks prior and I had decided to sleep in. Being homeless and unemployed, living under a bridge and subsisting on a small government disability check and the kindness of others, there was little purpose in the “rise and shine” mentality.

My name, by the way, is Robby Metcalf. I was a soldier at one time and I fought in Iraq. The Humvee I was riding in got blown up by a roadside IED and after that, my head was never right. Doctors at the VA waste a lotta time and money trying to treat me, but I throw away most of the meds. The weird thing is, once I got back from the war and they let me outta the hospital, I found out I could understand and talk to animals. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, even snakes, makes no difference. I do whatever I can for my community and I live under a bridge. The animals know me and they help in any way they can. I trust them more than people. Animals don’t lie and they never try to screw you over for money.

On this particular morning as I yawned, stretched and farted and tried to settle down in my sleeping bag, my rest was intruded upon by a persistent squealing noise. I was used to the squealing of brakes from the bridge overhead, accompanied by the rumble of trucks and the smell of diesel exhaust, but this was different. This was what you might hear around a playground or day care when the kids were outside, just having themselves a hell of a good time.

Once that sunk in, I sat up rather quickly and looked around. What I saw, from my perspective, was nothing less than astonishing. There, a scant fifteen feet away, in the morning sunshine, was my best friend Fuzzy, a 120 lb. ex-police German Shepherd, who was herding and watching over a pretty filthy toddler wearing nothing but a sagging diaper and a winning smile. This was the source of the squealing. It was readily apparent the kid really liked the nice doggie and I already knew Fuzzy doted on kids. It seemed we had somehow inherited a child. Well, fuck me. . . .

“What the hell, Fuzzy?”

“Oh, hey Boss. Look what followed me home! Can I keep him?”

“Can you keep him? Shit man, that’s a kid! He’s not a pet. And we damn sure can’t afford one of those. The diapers alone. . . .”

“Yeah, speaking of diapers, Boss, this needs a change.” Fuzzy nosed the kid’s ass and turned away, snorting and then flopping his tongue out. Would have been comical, if the situation weren’t so dire.

“Well, I don’t happen to have a supply of Pampers here. We’ll have to go shopping. More importantly, where the hell did you find him?”

“Oh, he was just wanderin’ around down there,” Fuzzy pointed with his nose, “and as soon as he saw me, he just latched onto me.”

“He’s gotta be about freezin’ to death. Let’s find somethin’ to warm him up a bit.” I started digging around through my semi-clean clothes and came up with a flannel shirt that would have to do. I rolled the sleeves until they were half their length or less and quickly popped the kid into the shirt. It actually wrapped around twice, but that was okay. Extra layers wouldn’t hurt. All the while I was doing this, he was squirming and hollering. As soon as I set him back down, he went straight to Fuzzy and he was fine.

“I think we’re gonna need the cops for this deal, but first you’d better show me where you found him.” I picked the boy up and balanced him on my arm as we started out walking south along Ninth. He was barefoot and he was a black kid and, being white as a flock of seagulls myself, I knew this might cause some real problems if someone saw us and took the whole deal the wrong way. What do you say to the first big guy or lady who wants to know where you got that kid? ‘Honest, Dude, I’m really not a child thief/molester, please don’t shoot me in my ass. . . ?

We only went a couple of blocks when Fuzzy stopped and said, “Right there, Boss. He was playin’ in that vacant lot right there. I was just out for a mornin’ pee and he spotted me and . . . you know the rest.”

The area wasn’t all that promising. The houses on either side of the vacant lot were boarded up and the ones further away looked like crack houses. Further south, I saw one house that looked like it had been cared for in a reasonable manner and I started that way. On my arm, the kid was slobbering and making car noises. I wondered if he was trying to cut a new tooth.

I looked the house over from the street, taking in pale yellow siding and white trim on a frame that was probably built after World War II, when the soldiers came home. A dark green Pontiac Grand Prix sat in the gravel drive to the right of the house and some forsythia bushes were starting to bud out next to the porch. As soon as I started up the porch steps, the kid started wailing.

I stopped and looked at Fuzzy. He was looking up at me, his tail slowly wagging. “Just set him down here, Boss. I’ll watch him.”

I looked at the front door and noted that it was slightly ajar. Suddenly, I realized the place was too quiet. Spookily quiet, and a goose walked over my grave. “Yeah,” I said, “you watch him and I’ll just take a quick look inside here….”

“Ahhh . . . you don’t wanna do that, Robby. . . .”

I looked back at Fuzzy and he was down on his belly. The kid was trying to climb onto his back and Fuzzy, my constant pal and companion for the last several years, had just called me by my given name and he wouldn’t meet my eyes. “What’s goin’ on, Fuzz? We got trouble here?”

“Oh yeah, we got trouble. You can’t smell that?”

“Nope, sorry Bud. I got nothin’ here out of the ordinary. What is it?”

“Blood. Death. Dead people, Boss. I’d stay out and call the cops.”

“But there might be someone alive, Fuzzy. A few seconds could make all the difference . . .”

“Don’t think so, but you do whatever you gotta do. Be careful, man.”

I stepped to the door and only wished I had a pair of latex gloves. I elbowed the door open and stepped carefully through, alert for any sound from inside. I could hear something dripping, probably a faucet with a bad washer dripping into a sink. The front room was clear and the door I came through didn’t appear to have been forced. So far, so good.

There was a doorway to my left, hung with a bead curtain and directly ahead and slightly to the right was an archway to the back of the house. There was a stairway to the second floor directly in front of me. Any way I went, if there was anyone here and they were armed, they could get in behind me and I was fucked.

I chose the room to my left and stepped through the bead curtain with barely a whisper from the hanging, multi-colored plastic beads.

First body. Black male, face down, shirtless. One in the back of the head and two more in the back, all from pretty close range. This would be a good time to go the hell back out the front door and call my friend, Julius Tambar, to bring the cavalry. Julius is a city cop and a damn good one. He does a job every day that is made even more difficult because he is black. He also believes me when I tell him I can talk to animals. He’s seen it firsthand.

I carefully stepped around the blood pool and continued toward the back of the house. I stepped into the kitchen and found number two. He was still in the old, cracked kitchen chair he’d died in, somehow propped against the table. It looked like the merest touch would send him toppling to the floor. There was white residue and a pair of glass crack pipes on the table, along with a lot of other trash. Number two had taken a round in the face, just below his eye and another almost dead center in the chest. He too was a black male, black t-shirt and khaki shorts, no shoes and no more heartbeats, either. I looked to the kitchen sink, where the dripping noise was coming from. Blood was coming through the ceiling from the second floor and dripping into a pan in the sink. I shuddered and backed the fuck outta there.

From the living room, a clock started chiming and I nearly crapped my pants. I waited for my own heart to settle and moved on, back to the stairs and up to the second floor, moving on the outside edges of the treads, hoping to keep the stairs from creaking. Near the top, I stopped and peeked onto the second floor, taking quick looks and ducking back down. I could see a foot protruding from the bathroom doorway at the top of the stairs, wearing a red shoe. Number three. Black female who might have been pretty ten years and fifty pounds ago, and when she was still alive. She too had caught a round in the back and another in the head. Her head was against the side of the tub and her neck was bent at an uncomfortable angle. Her pain was long since gone, though. She was the source of the blood dripping through the floor.

I moved quietly through the two bedrooms, looking for more victims, but that seemed to be all. As I was about to leave the second bedroom, I noticed a baby bed and a stack of disposable diapers. There was a smell of urine, too, and I wondered where that was coming from.

Using my shirttail to avoid leaving prints, I opened the closet door to my left and something moved in the dark. I heard a low keening sound and then a sob of despair. Quietly, I said, “You can come out now. They’re gone. I won’t hurt you.”

A voice answered, with a quaver, “You the police?”

“No, but they’re gonna be comin’ in a few minutes. If you need to leave, I’d do it now.”

“I cain’t,” she said, as she crawled out of the closet, “they gots mah baby!”

Now I knew where the urine smell was coming from. At some point, probably at the height of the shooting, she’d pissed herself. I’d have probably done no better. I looked her over. She was light-skinned and maybe still in her twenties. She wore a black tank top and shorts that had been white until the shooting went down. She wore no shoes and no jewelry. I could tell she was pretty and I was sure her smile would light up a room.

“Is he about two years old, just wearing a diaper?”

“Oh, Jesus honey, please tell me you seen him? Is he alive?” She was standing now and the top of her head just about reached my shoulder. She was gripping my arm just above the elbow and her imploring face was inches away from mine.

“He’s fine. He’s out on the front porch with my dog. C’mon, let’s get you outta here.”

As we passed the bathroom, I saw her glance inside and I figured she’d start wailing any time now, but to my surprise, she held her cool and we made it downstairs and out of the house. On the porch, she scooped up her little boy and then the tears came. Again, I’d have probably done no better. I dragged out my cell phone and called Julius from the front sidewalk, telling him what I’d found and giving him the address.

“Robby,” he asked, as his siren started whooping in the background, “how do you manage to get into so much shit?”

“Just blessed, I guess, can ya just hurry up and get here, man?”

“On the way. . . .”

~     ~     ~

Within a minute we started hearing sirens. Soon a rescue squad and an ambulance pulled up and stopped a block away. I knew the drill. They’d be forced by their own protocol to wait until the cops arrived to secure the scene before they could move in.

In another minute, cops started showing up. Tambar was actually the third car to pull up. By that time, two other cops had moved us back to the sidewalk and they had moved into the house and checked it top to bottom. They came back out and got out the crime scene tape and went to work.

Julius parked me in the front seat of his car and the black chick and her kid went in the back seat of another. Separate the witnesses, so they don’t get their stories together. Again, standard procedure.

“They been dead a couple hours, looks like,” Julius said, “so tell me, how’d you get involved in this?”

I explained about Fuzzy finding the kid wandering around and watching over him until I woke up, then bringing me back down to the house. His only comment was, “Damn, wish I could talk to that dog like you can.”

The squad and ambulance left, but not before the medics checked out the woman and the kid, just to be sure they were okay. I knew in just a little while, the coroner’s wagon would arrive. I also knew the black woman was in trouble. As soon as the word got out that she had been in the house and she was still alive, the shooters would be looking to take her out, as a possible witness who could identify them.

And, by extension, I might be in danger too. They might figure she’d told me who they were, or at least what they looked like. It wasn’t long before we all got hauled downtown to give statements. I knew the neighborhood was watching and we might all have just shortened our lives by not walking away when we had the chance. Julius told me not to worry, that they’d stay on top of things, but I knew better. At least I didn’t have to worry about Fuzzy. He was going to spend his day riding around in a police car with Julius.

~     ~     ~

The police building downtown was a place I was all too familiar with, having been there before on a few occasions. In police-talk, they call them “interview rooms.” The term “interrogation,” you see, has become passť. Sort of like how they never arrest anyone anymore. They detain them. Or take them into custody. Same shit, different terminology.

I was placed in Interview 6 and left to stew for an hour. I didn’t stew. Fuck that. I put my head down on the hard table and took a nap. I wasn’t handcuffed, but I knew the door was locked. I didn’t even bother to check. At the end of an hour, Detectives Clerk and Beckmeyer came in to get my statement. Did I need to use the restroom? No. Did I need something to drink? No. They already had my DNA on file. Maybe they hadn’t checked on that, yet. Or maybe they were just being genuinely friendly.

“Okay, Robby. Tell us how you came to be inside the house at 714 Cleveland this morning.” I told my story. They pretty much let me run through it the first time uninterrupted. Then, they began trying to pick it apart. Why didn’t I just call the cops when I found the kid? It’s the neighborhood, I explained. You don’t call the cops over trivial shit. I figured I’d just find where the kid belonged and maybe keep some young mother out of trouble with Child Protective Services.

“How do you know Trish Bennett?”

Who? The kid’s mom. Oh, is that her name? You didn’t know her name? Nope. She probably doesn’t know mine, either.

And so it went. With a few bathroom breaks and, what the hell, one cup of hideous coffee. I was back out on the street in a mere four hours. No ride home offered, I started walking, thinking hard about Fuzzy. Sometimes that works. Somehow he knows I’m thinking about him and he’ll come find me. This time, a marked cop car pulled up and there he was, happily riding with Tambar.

“Figured you’d be off-duty by now,” I said, as I climbed in.

“Pretty close. ‘Bout fifteen minutes, if nothin’ breaks between now and then.”

“Well, we appreciate the lift. . . .” Tambar reached across and handed me something heavy and small, wrapped in a shop towel. I unwrapped it just enough to see a Beretta .25 semi-automatic, tiny, black and deadly.

“No prints on that,” he said, “I’d keep it that way, if I were you. I took that off a pimp last year and it’s unregistered.”

“Am I in that much trouble?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. We don’t know yet. If someone comes after you, I’d like you to have something in your hand more lethal than your dick. If I was sure you was in trouble, I’d make ya go get a serious firearm.”

“Well, okay, I appreciate this, too.”

“Just don’t target practice and don’t shoot yerself in the balls. . . .”

“So, is the house where everybody got shot Trish’s house?”

“Nope. Turns out she just came there with her sometimes live-in boyfriend, who happens to be little Deandre’s daddy, to buy some dope. She says while they were there, some other thugs she didn’t know showed up and the shootin’ started. She heard it goin’ down and hid in the closet. Didn’t know where the kid was and she was too scared to come out. So boyfriend is dead and the dealer and his old lady, too. We have no idea how the kid got out alive, unless the shooters figured he was too little to bother with.”

“Robbery being the motive?”

“That, and maybe turf. Maybe the scumbag that lived there was dealin’ where he shouldn’t have been.”

“So, Trish get her kid back?”

“Naw, not yet. She’s gonna hafta go to court. Show cause and alla that, since the kid was in the home of a known drug dealer and was technically endangered. Plus, a caseworker will hafta go out to wherever she lives and look over her house and all that, see if it’s a fit environment to raise a kid.”

“Okay, do me a favor?”

“Get her address for ya, right?” Tambar smiled, but only with his mouth. His eyes looked wary.

“Yeah . . . I’d like to look in on her, make sure she’s all right.”

“Trust me, you’d be better to leave it alone.” Now he wasn’t smiling at all.

“Yeah. Yer probably right. . . .”

“1220 Du Bose. It’s right off Columbus. . . .”

We were pulling in under my bridge and I realized Fuzzy and I hadn’t eaten a damn thing all day. “Thanks, Man,” I said as I opened the car door. I stepped to the back door and let Fuzzy out.

“Your funeral, Dude.” I glanced in at him and he was smiling again, “Just watch yer ass, okay?”

~     ~     ~

As it turned out, I didn’t have to go looking for Trish. She found us, later on that evening, when Fuzzy and I went out and scored some dinner. I was sitting at an old picnic table behind Big Pete’s Bar-B-Que Emporium on 12th street, and Fuzzy and I were working our way through ribs and brisket that was left from the day before. The owner, a guy I just knew as Sandusky, never threw away anything that wasn’t spoiled. He had a good following of homeless peeps and stray dogs and cats to feed.

A somewhat familiar dark green Pontiac pulled up in the alley and the driver’s window rolled down. Trish looked me and Fuzzy over, then said, “Hey, can I talk to you?”

I was about finished anyway, and I spoke to Fuzzy. “If she decides to kidnap me, I’ll be back home later, okay?”

He looked up from his meal just long enough to give me two wags and a “Be careful,” then he turned back to his grub. I sauntered over to the car, intending to talk to her through the window, but she motioned me to come around to the passenger side.

As I slipped into the car, she turned to me and reached out with both arms and I held her. “Thanks for what you did today. You coulda just walked away any time. . . .” She was breathing close to my ear for a moment and then she moved away. I watched her smooth, pretty face as two tears tracked down her cheeks.

“You’re very welcome. If there’s anything else I can do, just let me know.”

“Officer Tambar said you live under a bridge . . . is that true?”

“Yep. It’s by choice. Keeps me tough and independent.” As I spoke, I was looking her over. She was wearing a light blue blouse and a navy skirt that hit just above her knees and black two-inch heels. Her hair was cut in a short ‘fro and picked out and shaped perfectly. She cleaned up nice.

“I don’t suppose you own a suit?” She sniffed, then grabbed a Kleenex from a box on the dash.

“No, but I could probably come up with something.”

“I may need a pallbearer. Don’t know when the funeral will be. Don’t even know when they’ll release Donnie’s body.”

“Well, put my cell number in your phone and you can call me as soon as you know something. Will that work?”

“I think that would be great.” I gave her my number and she keyed it in. “Okay, well, I’d better get home, then.”

I reached over and squeezed her hand and said, “Hang in there, Trish. It’ll get better.” She made no reply and I stepped back out of the car and watched her drive off. Fuzzy was up on the bench of the picnic table, finishing off my dinner for me. He looked up with that doggie “oh shit, I’m caught” expression, and I just grinned at him and said, “Well, aren’t you a good helper?” I dumped our trash in the provided receptacle and we headed for home.

After dark, as I settled into my sleeping bag and Fuzzy moved up between me and the dangers of the world, my phone buzzed. I checked it and found a text from Trish. It said, “Good night, Robby Metcalf, wherever you are.” I answered with a smiley face and went to sleep.

~     ~     ~

“The funeral will be at Jackson’s over on 14th and Lowry, Tuesday afternoon at two. Can you make it?” Trish had finally called. It had been almost a week with no word, but I knew she hadn’t forgotten me. I got a text from her almost every day. I seemed to be hearing a lot from Julius Tambar, too. Usually he was “just checking in on me.” It told me he was worried.

“I can be there. Am I still going to assist?” I hated the term pallbearer.

“If you can, I’d appreciate it. Donnie had a few friends, but most of them are thugs. I don’t want them touching him. They’re mostly the reason he’s dead.”

“Okay, I’ll be there.”

As I went about my normal daily rounds, I watched my back. Nobody seemed particularly interested in me. Fuzzy was watching, too. We’d had a conversation about the fact that we might be in trouble. He seemed to understand, although the mechanics of revenge and retaliation seemed to escape him.

I scraped together enough money to go to the D.A.V. store and find a suit that fit reasonably well, along with a white shirt and paisley tie. I still had a pair of black leather military dress shoes that would work well enough. I stashed all my funeral gear in a locker at the YMCA, where I had a lifetime membership, courtesy of a cool old gal I’d helped once.

14th and Lowry wasn’t a very long walk and it was a fairly cool day. I did get a few looks on the way over, and I’d have to say I looked pretty sharp. I’d even brushed Fuzzy and he was on his best behavior, walking beside me at the “heel” position, without any leash.

We arrived at Jackson’s Mortuary about twenty minutes early. It was an old red-brick mansion that had once been a private residence and it was still the nicest place for several blocks. Mr. Jackson didn’t feel it would be appropriate for Fuzzy to be in the chapel and Fuzzy didn’t care for all the flowers anyway. He opted for a spot on the carpet in the lobby, back out of the way.

Donnie’s casket was front and center, a bronze job that looked like it would weigh a ton. Trish was right up front with some of her relatives and when I started to take a seat in the friends’ section, she turned and saw me and motioned me up. I stepped up and was introduced all around and then I was seated with the other five pallbearers. I was the only white boy in the bunch.

The service was not quite twice as long as it needed to be, but the preacher was in his element and he was gonna save at least one soul, it seemed. It wouldn’t be mine, but that was okay. When the service was over, I assisted with the casket and we headed for the graveyard. Fuzzy was allowed in the front seat of the limo, with the driver.  He set about making the driver nervous by smiling at him a lot, until I told him to knock it off and lay down.

The graveyard was on the southeast side of town and had been there since the Civil War. It covered about fifteen acres of prime real estate and held thousands of graves. The amount of money spent on marble and granite staggered the imagination. At the gravesite, we six again muscled the casket to its position on the contraption that lowers it into the ground. We were under a green canvas tent that was keeping the wind at bay, and the day was turning chillier. I had let Fuzzy out to go wander around. I told him, “Don’t wander off too far, Bud. Keep a sharp eye out, okay?”

He told me not to worry.

Donnie had done a hitch in the Marines, and the honor guard was there, along with a rifle squad. Nobody does a funeral like the Marine Corps. The fact that Donnie had died in some dope dealer’s house had no bearing on the honors he deserved. After the final prayer, the preacher looked across to the Gunnery Sergeant and gave an almost imperceptible nod and the Marines did the rest. The Gunny’s sword flashed in the weak sunshine, and the salute was fired with such precision that the seven guns sounded as one. The volleys echoed and rolled away across the thousands of graves and I could almost feel the old soldiers stirring underground.

The bugler who played Taps was the real deal, not using one of those new electronic horns most of the services have gone to. The Gunny and a Lance Corporal folded the casket flag and presented it to Trish, “on behalf of the President and a grateful nation.”

We were standing around, meeting and greeting, and the Marines were packing their gear into two vans, when I heard Fuzzy raising hell. He was quite a distance off, and coming like a bat out of hell, yapping up a storm. A ways behind was a Maroon Toyota Avalon with two guys in it. As they got closer, I saw a gun barrel and I started yelling, “Down! Get down! Get to cover!”

There was cover all over the place. Thick, granite tombstones make great bullet-stoppers. As the Avalon rolled by, the passenger opened up with a 9mm handgun. Like most city boys, he was all over the place, holding the weapon one-handed and sideways in typical gang-banger fashion.

Once you’ve been in combat and you’ve been shot at with serious intent enough times, you get to know when the incoming rounds are close. They have a different sound from shit that’s missing by a mile. I only heard one round that had that wicked snap that tells you it was close. Further back, behind my position, I heard a scream as somebody took a round. People who have never been in combat tend to stand and gawk when somebody yells, “incoming!” or “get down!”

The worst mistake the shooter made was ever getting up that morning. The second worst was beginning to shoot too soon. By the time he got parallel to me, he had fired his weapon dry and he was fumbling around with another magazine. That was when I stood up, with a two-handed combat grip on my measly little .25 Beretta and shot him not once, but twice, right in the face.

The result was immediate. He slumped over onto the driver, who was trying to make a speedy getaway and deal with his big, dead ass at the same time. Fifty feet on up the narrow cemetery road, he drilled a tree and took an airbag in the face. Ten seconds later, my Beretta, still holding six rounds, was screwed in his ear. I was joined in less than a minute by four plain-clothes cops, who had attended the funeral, just to see who might show up. They had been back amongst the trees and headstones, videotaping the proceedings when the shit went down.

They took away the Beretta and, once again, I got a ride downtown. We left just as the second ambulance was pulling up. Apparently, two people had been hit in the gunfire. Fuzzy rode home with Trish and her two cousins. Once again, Interview 6, and the hour-long wait. It was two different detectives this time. Where did I get the gun? Found it. Where? Under a bridge. Did I know it was illegal in this state to carry an unlicensed weapon? Of course. Charge me or cut me loose. In the end, they didn’t charge me with anything. And no, they wouldn’t give me a ride home. But, when I sent a text to Trish, she was glad to come get me. Alone. Except for Fuzzy, and he doesn’t tell tales. . . .

On the way to her place, as we passed by the house of death, I saw bright yellow against the pale yellow of the house. The forsythia was in full bloom.



Kenneth James Crist is a tired, broken-down old motorcycle cop from Wichita Kansas. He began writing a novel in 1994 as keyboard practice and has since written four more novels, several novellas and a butt-load of short stories. His publications have been seen in Bewildering Stories, Tales of the Talisman, A Twist of Noir, A Shot of Ink, Eaten Alive, The New Flesh, The Sink, The Edge, Skin and Bones, Twisted Sister and Kudzu Monthly, to name a few. Recently, he had three stories accepted by John Thompson at Hardboiled, for two anthologies that were published in April of 2014, The Undead War and Hardboiled, both available from Dead Guns Press.

He also has four books up in Kindle format, for sale on Amazon.com: Dreaming of Mirages, The Gazing Ball, Joshua, and Groaning for Burial, his latest zombie fiction. One of his novellas, Surviving Montezuma, is being serialized by Anne Stickel at Black Petals.

Having turned 72 last June, he still rides his big Harley every day that weather permits and is now completely retired. He volunteers as a blood services driver for the American Red Cross and he is also a member of the American Legion Riders and the Kansas Patriot Guard.


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