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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 Noelle Richardson 2017






Goddamnit, I had to take a leak. Old man problems.

I rolled over in my cot and stared at the ceiling. Same cracked walls, light dimmed and wrapped in industrial metal wiring.

Lights out.

Next door I could hear Buddy humming away. Usual racket, some kinda tuneless noise that creeps inside your skull. Don’t know how I managed to sleep with it, guess I got used to it after a while.

Get used to alotta things, I guess.

I stood up to take a piss, cursing my bladder. Or was it prostate? Whatever. Old man plumbing not working right. Hurts like a bitch.

Funny how things change, your body just lets go and one day you wake up old. Guards come and go, but everything else around you stays the same.

The toilet was still the same, cold metal pre-formed deal welded to the wall. No seat, of course, and you get pretty tired of planting your ass on cold metal just to take a shit.

At least I’m allowed to have my own toilet paper.

Privileges, that’s what I got. Don’t cause any problems and you work your way up. Heck, I’m practically running this joint.

And some of them never learn.

Down the range I can hear other guys stirring, and the guard’s footsteps echoing down the corridor. Guard on key doing night checks, and across the way Dave asks for a drink of water.

Guard tells him to wait ‘til morning.

Dave starts to kick up a ruckus. “What’d you mean, you shut off my water already.”

“Lights out.”

“I just want a goddamned drink of water for chrissakes.”

“Go to sleep.”

“I’m not a fucking kid – I’m dying of thirst here. Need a drink.”

The guard says something real quiet, I can’t quite catch it.

“Fuck you.”

“That’s ten demerits – you wanna keep it up?”

“Fuck you.”

Guard laughs, and I recognise his voice. Wilkens. Royal bastard. Poor Dave’d dehydrate to hell before he’d get a drink outta that asshole.

“What – you want me to drink outta the toilet?”

“Go ahead.”

“It’s full of piss. You already shut off my water. At least flush the damned thing.”

“Morning, gotta wait ‘til morning.”

Dave starts yelling about his diabetes, and the doctor’s orders. Wilkens just walks away, I can hear his footsteps echo down the range.

My piss stream dribbles to a slow drip, and I curse the old man plumbing I got going on. Takes forever to take a leak, and never quite finishes up. I catch myself with a couple drips on my pants.

Goddamnit, laundry’s still a few days away.

Gonna smell like piss and stink myself out before then. I flush my toilet and rinse my hands in the sink, hoping Dave can’t hear the water running. Poor bastard flooded his cell last week, and they still haven’t turned his water back on. Think it’ll teach him a lesson.

As I’m heading back to bed Buddy starts up again. Some kinda tuneless song of his, moaning away. Down the range Dave yells at him to shut the fuck up.

Doesn’t matter, Buddy’d keep going no matter what.

I scrunch down into my cot and pull the blanket over me, and I can hear Buddy next door ripping his blanket to pieces, and making his noises. Whooting and moaning.

You’d think guards’d take his blanket away, but no, they let him have it. Say it’s his constitutional right an’ all. Don’t know about that, the last blanket Buddy had he chewed up to bits and swallowed half of it.

Went down to the hospital wing for a while and they tried to pump his stomach.

Don’t think they got it all out, Buddy was screaming a blue streak every time he’d take a shit for a nearly week afterwards. But, everything musta passed through him alright, because here he was, back at it again.

The rip, rip of that blanket being torn starts to get on my nerves. Scratchy sounds of threads snapping apart.

“Hey Buddy, knock it off,” I call over to next door.

Nothing but more hooting and hollering and the sound of his blanket getting ripped up.

Goddamnit, how much blanket he got left over there anyway?

The ripping continues and I lay in bed trying to ignore it and then he starts getting happy with the thing, whooting it up in that tuneless voice of his. Kinda reminds me of a howler monkey, like I seen on TV.

I try to pull the blanket over my head and scooch down on the cot. The noises go right through me.

“Goddamnit Buddy, I’m trying to sleep over here.”

More calls down the range, muffled yells of shut the fuck up. Or else.

Buddy just keeps on going.

Fucking hell.

The hooting noises get louder; he’s getting excited over there. Frisky, even. Fat bastard’s probably humping it. Rolls of lard hanging over that wee dick of his, humping away. I close my eyes as though I can shut out the sound.

Buddy’s a bit odd, to say the least. When he first came to our range, nobody knew what to do with him. Guards just kinda shied away, gave him a poke every now and again with a stick, and that’s that.

Even out on the yard, inmates just let Buddy alone. A big fat fuck and dumb as shit. Buddy’d sit by himself, cross legged like a big school kid in the dirt; flicking his fingers in the sand, and shooting up little rocks and pieces of gravel, all the while hooting in the sunshine.

I guess he was happy enough.

Buddy showered alone, marched down the hall by guards in latex gloves and then we’d hear him hooting and hollering all the way down the range. Something about soap bubbles made that boy happy.

At first, his mom came to visit. Yes sir, his real and bona fide mother came to visit, and lemme tell you, nobody around here gets any kind of visitors, never mind their moms. Something to do with the reason why most of us are locked up in the first place, I guess.

So when Buddy’s mom stepped onto the range, I could see her standing beside the guard station and looking around, like she’s real scared, and down the way ol’ Dave sets up a holler about fresh meat and Jonesy over at ’02 tells him to shut the fuck up, don’t that guy have no respect – Buddy’s mom starts crying and wailing some godawful racket and the guards usher her into the little plexiglass box they use for visitors.

Not that any of us get visitors, just lawyers looking to earn some extra cash and deal with the all kinds of legal wrangling and such fellas like us bring, most of it paid for by legal aid. Dave’s got three whole lawsuits going on against the government, and all paid for by the state itself.

He’s smart, that Dave.

Not Buddy.

When he saw his mom, Buddy set up hollering and thrashing about so that it took three guards just to hold him, and then when Buddy got into that little glass box with his mother, she started bawling and Buddy got bucking and banging his head on the plexiglass walls; which, I must say was pretty impressive given the fact he was wearing handcuffs and dragging three guards behind.

It was becoming a prize-winning shit show, and all of us were watching.

At the dull thud of Buddy’s skull connecting with plexiglass, Dave starts yelling about assault, and how that mom should sue the asses off those bastards.

Buddy and his mom kept crying and the guards were yelling a blue streak.

Nobody was listening to Dave, which is a shame, cuz like I say, Dave’s pretty smart.

But Buddy was making such a godawful racket and his mom was wailing away that nobody was listening to nothing. Buddy kept at it, banging his head on the plexiglass wall, those dull thuds booming through the range and his mom kept screaming. They made quite a pair, those two.

As I peeked through my bars I could see blood spatter against the glass, kinda like when you throw a wet basketball against a wall.

At each thud, I’d peek out, and see a bigger splatter. He was gonna have his brains all over that plexiglass before you’d know it.

I wasn’t too sure how it was gonna end, and I could tell the guards didn’t know either, with Buddy screaming and banging his head and carrying on. His mom was no better, but at least she wasn’t banging her head.

Then one of the guards, a real dumbass, tries to subdue Buddy and pulls out his can of pepper spray and waves it all over the damned place like it was air freshener or something.

Well, that worked like how you can imagine. Five of ‘em, yes, five, Buddy, his mom and those three guards, all of them now half-blind and coughing and screaming –

I went to bed after that. If you can’t trust the state to sort you out, who can you trust? I’d had enough of that shit show. From what I recall, Dave was now yelling about suing them all for disturbing the peace or some such nonsense.

I dunno know about that, but the next time Dave’s lawyer came to visit, he sat up and looked pretty interested at whatever Dave had to tell him.

Now, here I am well past lights out and trying to get some sleep and Buddy won’t shut up. He’s still there, hooting and wailing away.

“Buddy, for crissakes, shut up already,” I called over to next door.

Sounds like the humping noises stopped, and he’s set up a low moan. Tuneless shit that makes it impossible to think, never mind sleep. I pulled the blanket right over my head.

Yells continue down the range, shut the fuck up, followed by somebody else yelling at the first guy to shut up, or else –

It’s gonna be a long night.

At the wet slap of flesh hitting metal, I sit up. Buddy’s not hooting anymore, he’s gone real quiet, and I wonder for a minute if he’s knocked himself out.

The range is suddenly silent as everybody’s wondering the same.

All of us holding our breath. Waiting.

And then Buddy starts screaming, shrieking out a god awful racket as if he’s dying or something.

The wet slap, slap sound starts up again, and I wonder what he’s hitting himself on. Sounds pretty wet, I cock my ear, and wonder if he’s trying to do himself in on the toilet.

The slapping continues, pretty regular hits, with a big pause between them where he goes all silent, and I get to thinking after each hit he’s knocked himself out.

But he keeps going.

Gotta give it to the boy, he don’t give up.

The screaming starts up again, full blown banshee. I cover my ears and yell, “Buddy, shut the fuck up.”

Don’t matter, he can’t hear me away. Sounds like he’s being murdered over there. Now he’s screaming to all get out, cut by wet thuds of skull on metal.

More slapping, spatter of wetness on the concrete floor, and I know he’s doing himself in.

At a loud bang I jump a little and look around my cell, wondering what he’s gotten himself into. Maybe he’s trying to take his bed apart.

Across the range the boys are yelling at Buddy to shut up already. Enough of this shit.

No guards to be seen. Guess they’re doing some kind of meeting.

Then the screaming gets real loud, an unearthly sound that makes my balls crawl up inside me. And the banging starts to sound really wet. Dripping with blood or piss or all of it together, Buddy keeps on going.

I stand up and lean toward the door of my cell, stick my hand outside the bars. “Hey, boss – staff up.”


Buddy keeps going, although the hits seem to be coming slower. Must getting tired. He’s still hollering away, but his voice sounds muffled and kinda garbled, sloppy-like. Probably broken some teeth.

I wave my hand a little, hoping they can pick it up on the cameras. “Hey boss, staff up – need somebody down here.”

Still nothing.

Buddy starts screaming, a high-pitched shriek, like a train whistle, or the squeal of a rabbit caught in a trap. Goosebumps break out on the back of my neck.

That’s the sound of a dying man.

Down the range Jonesy over in ‘02 starts yelling in that big bassy voice of his, “Hey, boys – gotta problem here. Staff up, mother fuckers.”

I can hear the guards stumble out of the station, their voices rising in confusion.

I wave my hand again, shoving my arm right through the bars. “Hey, boss, staff up.”

“Down there.” I hear one of them say.

At the rumble of footsteps coming down the corridor, I turn and lay back down on my bed, pulling the blanket over top of me.

“Goddamnit, need a suit.”

“Who’s going in first – got your gloves on?”

“Hey, Ramos – go back, grab the stretcher.”

More footsteps as Ramos runs back down the corridor, and I can hear him coming back, outta breath.

Then the click of the key in lock.

 Guard calls, “Door.”

“Get ‘em, get ‘em.”

“Watch his neck – hold his neck.”

“Holy shit – I almost slipped. Floor’s soaked.”

“Get those gloves on – now.”

“Don’t drop the bastard.”

As they carried Buddy out of his cell, I closed my eyes. Finally I could get some sleep.




Liz McAdams is a short, sharp, writer and fond of dark things. Her work appears in the usual places, including Spelk, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, and scattered around Twisted Sister lit mag. Check Liz out at https://lizmcadams.wordpress.com/.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017