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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 Dr. I. M. Irascible



by Dr. I. M. Irascible



After three miserable days of being housebound with a virulent strain of intestinal flu, Denise Waterman decides to phone her primary care physician’s office, in the hope of obtaining a prescription.


“Hello, Back Cove Primary Care. Bridget speaking. How may I help you?” asked the voice on the other end of the line.


“Hi, my name is Denise Waterman. I’m a patient of Dr. Applebaum. I’m calling to

request a prescription.”  


“What sort of prescription, ma’am?”


“I’ve caught some sort of wretched stomach virus.”


“What are your symptoms, ma’am?”


“I’ve been on the toilet for three straight days.”


“So . . . diarrhea?”


“Yes, bucketloads. It just keeps pouring out of me. I can’t even think about leaving the house.”


“Okay . . . Are you having any other symptoms?”


“Cramps, I’m having the most God-awful cramps!”


“On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being no pain at all, and 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, how would you rate these cramps?”


“14! Think of your worst time of the month, ever, and you still can’t imagine it.”


“My goodness, ma’am. That sounds really unpleasant.”


“That’s because it really is, so will you please ask Dr. Applebaum to call in a prescription? My friend says she can pick it up on her way home from work.”


“I’d be happy to assist you, Ms. Waterman.  What’s your primary health insurance?”


“I have Blue Cross, Blue Shield through the state.”


“You’re a state employee?”


“Yes, I work for Cumberland Country DHHS.”


“Oh, really. A lot of our patients have been having trouble with DHHS ever since the governor lowered the maximum monthly income limit for MaineCare.”


“Well, I fully support the governor’s initiative. People in this state seem to think they’re entitled to Medicaid benefits. I’m actually about to break the record for most Medicaid claims ever denied by a case worker in a single month.”


“My . . . that’s . . . quite an accomplishment.”


“Thank you. Aarrgggh . . . hold on a minute. I’m having another one. Oh, no . . . not again!” 


That same moment, Denise is doubled over by a spasm in her lower abdomen. She clutches the phone with both hands dangling between her knees, as the pain grows steadily worse.


 “Oh, God . . . pleeeeaaasse!”


“Ms. Waterman?”


The administrative assistant strains to listen as Denise’s voice becomes faint and distant.  Just then, she hears what can only be described as an explosive bowel movement.


Nearly a minute passes before Denise has the wherewithal to put the phone back to her ear. “Hi, Bridget,” she resumed, without a trace of embarrassment. “Did you get all that?”


“Um . . . yes, Ms. Waterman. Um . . . oh, dear. You don’t sound well.”


“I don’t sound well? Listen, buttercup! I just passed everything but my brains! Now, will you please have Dr. Applebaum call the pharmacy for me?”


“Yes, Ms. Waterman. I’ll speak to her. Will you please hold?”


Several minutes later, Bridget comes back on the line, “Hello, Ms. Waterman.”


“What took you so long?”


“Sorry to keep you waiting. I spoke with Dr. Applebaum, and she says that she can prescribe an antiviral, which should relieve your symptoms within a couple of days.  Unfortunately, our billing department has informed me that your health plan does not cover this medication.”


“What?” Denise shouted into the phone, grimacing at the onset of yet another cramp.  “Why the hell not? Can’t you see I’m dying, here?”


“Because, Ms. Waterman,” replied the administrative assistant curtly, “karma is a preexisting condition.”




While Dr. I. M. Irascible strives to honor the female subjects of his poems, stories, and drawings, he tends to depict them as flawed protagonists, who spend a lot of time with their skirts up.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017