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Gun Buck Before Dawn-Fiction by j. brooke
Grunt-Fiction by Kevin Z. Garvey
A Stab in the Dark-Fiction by Gary Clifton
Run, Robby, Run, Part 2-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Surprise Me-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Here They Come-Captain Jack, Part 2-Fiction by Michael S. Stewart
Evolution=Crime-Fiction by Calvin Demmer
Bike Killer-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Home on the Range-Fiction by Liz McAdams
Tickets to Heaven-Fiction by Paul Heatley
Free-Flash Fiction by Andrew J. Hogan
I Hate Dave Matthews-Flash Fiction by Carolyn Smuts
The Journey-Flash Fiction by Oliver Lodge
Running-Poem by Meg Baird
in your shoes-Poem by J. J. Campbell
At Midnight-Poem by Sergio Ortiz
Roadkill-Poem by Rachel Doherty
Skinny Dendrix-Poem by Joe Balaz
poet-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Shy Dryad-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Someone Else's Cat-Poem by John Doyle
Sundays-Poem by John Doyle
Farewell, Bibi-Poem by David Spicer
Rolling Down the Highway...-Poem by David Spicer
No One Ever Asked Winslow This-Poem by Gregory E. Lucas
The Adirondack Guide-Poem by Gregory E. Lucas
Why Back to Gloucester, Boys?-Poem by Gregory E. Lucas
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Sean O'Keefe 2017



Kevin Z. Garvey


Blame it on genetics. My father was a small guy and my mother was tiny. So when somebody describes how I look, you won't hear the words lanky or towering or anything like that. I'm a little guy. A little guy with a big chip on his shoulder.

It's called short man's disease. And I've got it bad.

The way I compensate for my lack of height is with bulk. At five foot four, I'm one of those guys who's as wide as he is tall. I've lifted weights all my life. I'm a hardcore lifter, and I'm not ashamed to say that I grunt when I lift. You can tell a lot about a lifter by how loud he grunts. And I grunt pretty fucking loud. Believe it or not, I've actually been kicked out of gyms because of my grunting. But I never go without a fight. A real knock-down, drag-out rumble. Trust me, you don't want to be the guy escorting me out, because you're liable to wind up with your teeth knocked out, or your nose splattered across your face, or worse.

I love to fight. Been fighting all my life. I specialize in tall, thin dudes. When we fight, they think they can keep me at a distance, popping me with long range shots. But I'm faster than I look and I get inside real quick. And then I bomb on their asses.

You ever see a video where a guy knocks somebody out and then keeps beating on the unconscious person? Yeah, well, I'm that guy. The fight's not over when I knock you out, or even kill you. It's over when I hear sirens, or when somebody drags me off you. I guess that makes me a savage, but it feels good.

Of course, there's risk involved with that kind of aggression. I've done time for fighting. The first time I went away, I was real nervous, but then I discovered that prison life isn't so bad. If you can fight, that is.

My longest stretch was a five year bid, after I'd given some loudmouthed prick permanent brain damage. I still think about that guy from time to time. I like knowing that he'll never be the same. Every time I picture him drooling, it makes me smile.

But I've been lucky. Even though I've killed people in fights, I've never caught a murder rap. Not until a week ago, anyway. That was when my luck ran out.

I was at a bar, not minding my own business. Drunk and surly, as usual. I noticed a big guy pounding down beers alongside some skinny little dipshit. The big guy was seriously big, too. At least six three, two forty. When they're that big, they're always dangerous. But that's okay. I fight a lot, and I know you can't win them all. I've had my teeth knocked out, nose broken, ribs fractured, the list goes on and on. But that's the chance you take, right? It's a fight. Fuck it.

Anyway, I stared this guy down for about an hour before he finally got fed up enough to say something.

"You got a problem with me?" he said.

"Yeah, I do," I said. "Fuck you." Then I spit in his face.

Want something to escalate quickly? That's the way to do it.

The look on the guy's face was priceless. As he wiped the spit out of his eye, I reared back and threw a massive overhand right. The punch caught him right on the chin. He went down, cracked his head on the floor. Lights out. One look at him and I knew he was gonna die, which he wound up doing two days later.

Since I was in a bar, a public place, I didn't jump on top of him. Instead, I headed for the exit, where I ran into his dipshit friend.

"You're not going anywhere," the little prick said.

Some pair of balls, huh?

I snorted, and grabbed him by the shirt. I intended to head butt him, but before I could, he hit me with a body shot that dropped me to my knees. At first I thought it was a punch, but then I looked down and saw blood.

The little fucker had just put a knife in me.

Next thing I know, I'm in the hospital, charged with murder. No way I can beat the rap, either. Not with my sheet. Soon as I'm healed up, I'm going away for life. An all day bid.

But don't feel sorry for me. I don't. Like I said, prison life isn't as bad as you might think. In fact, if you like to fight, it becomes downright tolerable. Besides, prisons are famous for their weight rooms, and that's where I intend to spend as much time as possible.

It's like having a free lifetime gym membership.

And nobody gives a fuck if you grunt.

Kevin Z. Garvey's crime fiction has appeared in Spinetingler, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, and other publications. In addition to writing, Garvey is an award-winning combat sports ring announcer and a member of the NJ State Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017