Editor's Page & Archive Link
"Skeeter", the Official YM Mascot
Contact Us & Links to Other Sites
Ferdie's Christmas-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Dead Meat-Fiction by Morgan Boyd
Twisted Love-Fiction by Mandi Rose
Run, Robby, Run, Part 4-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
All I Want for Christmas-Fiction by Carly Zee
Arterial Spray-Fiction by J. Brook
Murder Boots-Fiction by Jim Farren
The Blueberry Muffin Girl-Fiction by Michael Bauman
Standoff-Fiction by Lester L. Weil
Guns 'N Money-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Fester-Fiction by Mark Renney
The Start of a Bitchin' Year-Fiction by Luke Walters
Reprisal_Fiction by John W. Dennehy
Elevator-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Jamie, with the Blue Eyes-Fiction by Betty J. Sayles
All for the Love of a Good Burger-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Multiple Choice-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
Karma-Flash Fiction by Dr. I. M. Irascible
That Poe Story-Flash Fiction by Chris McGinley
Nome-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Underestimated-Poem by Marci McKim
The Stream of Life-Poem by Aiki Mann
Christmas Tale-Poem by Joe Balaz
In Loving Memory Of-Poem by Michael Marrotti
The Tattooed Man-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
You Got a Friend-Poem by Jerry Vilhotti
70,000 Birds-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Migrations #1-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
at the crest-Poem by Meg Baird
Gottingen Street 1998-Poem by Meg Baird
a subtle karate pose-Poem by Mark Young
The chains coil up into helical structures-Poem by Mark Young
Dream I'd Like to Forget-Poem by Alan Britt
Near Dawn-Poem by Alan Britt
Mischievous Ghosts-Poem by Alan Britt
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 John Thompson 2017

Multiple Choice

by Bill Baber


The address the boss gave me was over in the East Bay. South of Oakland, where Castro Valley, Union City, Hayward, and Fremont all blend into one sprawling suburban shithole. Forty years ago, it was the American Dream come true for the white middle class. Now, it was nothing but a nightmare for the rest of the melting pot.

The guy’s name was Carl Morgan, an ex-cop living on disability, got shot on the job about ten years back, when a stickup went bad in the Tenderloin. Junkies, no doubt. He owed the boss fifty grand, didn’t know if it was for home improvement, putting his kids through school, or bad bets on the ponies—didn’t ask, didn’t care. I was just doing my job.

I didn’t like it. Most ex-cops are paranoid wackos, sitting around half-gassed, with a gun in their lap. At any moment liable to shoot someone or swallow their fucking gun. I drove by the house first: dead lawn, peeling paint, nothing to distinguish it from the rest of the dumps on the block. Obviously, he hadn’t used the dough to fix the place up. I knocked on the door, and my fears were realized.

He had a .38 revolver in his hand. The ripped T-shirt he wore was stained and struggled to enclose a huge gut. His gray hair hadn’t been washed, combed, or cut in quite some time. Three days worth of gray stubble covered his face, and his eyes had the yellow cast of a hardcore boozer.

I could have gone all OK Corral and just started throwing lead right at the door, but I’m a professional and like to keep things neat. This would require some tact.

“Officer Morgan?” I offered, with a real attempt at respect.

“Who the fuck wants to know?”

His voice sounded like the rasp of a saw being pulled through an oak. He kept ahold of the .38, pulled a pack of Camel straights out of the chest pocket of the T-shirt. Reaching into his pants, he came up with a lighter, lit his cigarette, and blew smoke in my face.

“I’m a lawyer with Patrick, Dibbs and Kornheiser,” I said, producing a phony business card from my suit coat pocket. “We do pro bono work for the Policeman’s Benevolent Association. We are going in front of the Mayor’s commission to try and get an increase in disability for officers hurt on the job.”

Warily, he looked me over.

“Frankly, sir, I think the city of San Francisco is screwing you without the Vaseline every two weeks when they send you that check.”

“What the hell do you want from me?”

“We want you, along with some others, to testify before the commission. How long has it been since you had a cost of living increase?”

I noticed a glint in his eyes. The possibility of more money had the sucker hooked.

Turning into the house, he told me to come in.

We sat at the kitchen table. He finished a full glass of bourbon in two swallows. A lone drop dribbled out of his mouth, drained through the stubble, and added to the collection of stains on his shirt.

He got up to refill his glass.

“You want a snort?” he asked.

“Sure. Thanks,” I replied.

When he turned to get a glass, the silenced .22 Colt Woodsman came from behind my back.

I shot the dumb son-of-a-bitch in the back of the head. He slumped forward into the kitchen sink. This one was too stupid to produce a kid who could get into college.

So it must have been the ponies, then—in situations like this, it almost always was. Sometimes you liked to think it might have been something else.



Bill Baber’s crime fiction and poetry have appeared widely online and in numerous anthologies. His writing has earned Derringer Prize and best of the Net consideration. A book of his poetry, Where the Wind Comes to Play, was published by Berberis Press in 2011. He lives in Tucson with his wife and a spoiled dog and has been known to cross the border for a cold beer. He is working on his first novel.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017