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Death Orchid-Fiction by j. brooke
Orange Bikini-Fiction by Maria Espinosa
Sirens-Fiction by Jason Bougger
Death Takes a Snow Day-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Chill of a Lifetime-Fiction by Robert Aguon Perez
HIJAX-Fiction by Liz McAdams
Marriage-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Secrets-Fiction by Carole Sojka
The Ten Ten-Fiction by A. F. Knott
Losing Eileen-Fiction by Marci McKim
Snake Dog-Fiction by Catfish McDaris
My Heart Will Always Be Yours-Fiction by Jon Park
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Hollywood Harry's bar and Grill-Flash Fiction by Fred Zackel
Grandmother Nightmare-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Death Row-Flash Fiction by Luann Lewis
The Jarvis and Mae Team-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Flying Away-Flash Fiction by Jerry Vilhotti
A Note for Alex Gildzen-Poem by Mark Young
Spoiled-Poem by Chad Haskins
Recognized-Poem by Michael Keshigian
the only goodbye he deserved-Poem by J. J. Campbell
Dropping the Ball-Poem by Ian Mullins
A Song of Vengeance-Poem by Christopher Hivner
A Slip of the Tongue-Poem by Robert Halleck
Again the 11th Hour-Poem by Robert Halleck
Jack-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
singles ad Westwood Magazine-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
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Travelling-Poem by Meg Baird
Roxyanna-Poem by David Spicer
Wanted-Poem by David Spicer
Whataya Say?-Poem by David Spicer
Cartoons by Cartwright
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Angel of Manslaughter
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Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Bill Zbylut 2018


Doug Hawley

Eric was complaining to Jeff at the next cubicle again.  “Look, my wife is such a pain in the butt.  She rags on me if a leave I light on when I leave the room.  I follow too closely when I drive.  If it’s not one thing it’s three things.  I don’t know what to do about her.”

Jeff had the usual advice “When you were a kid, did your parents ever spank you?”


“And didn’t that turn you into a good citizen?  Did it turn you into some kind of monster?”


“Think about it.  Jane just needs some strong-handed discipline.  Maybe you don’t need to get physical with her, maybe you do.  You could start off by just putting her in her place.  Explain the facts of life.  You are the one bringing home the bacon; she just has to keep the house in order, right?”

“I see what you are saying.  Things are going to be different around the house.”

After the weekend, Jeff asks “How did it turn out?”

A stricken Eric says “She’s talking about leaving.”

At lunch in the cafeteria, Lamar sits down beside Eric.  “Hey, I know that you’ve been taking advice from Jeff.  There are a few things that you don’t know.  The ‘expert’ on relationships has been married three times, has restraining orders placed against him and has spent a little time in jail for domestic violence.  I don’t think that you’ll get anything helpful out of him.”

“So you think that you know better?”

“Well, I’ve been happily married for thirty years, and hope for thirty years more.”

“OK, I can’t argue with that.  Shoot.”

“Before I suggest anything, let me ask you a few questions.  Do you kiss your wife before you go to work?  Have you had a ‘date’ with her lately?  Do you thank her for cooking your meals and cleaning the house?”

“Uhhhh, no.”

“Think about it, maybe if shown tenderness and thoughtfulness, she’d return it.”

“Worth a try, Jeff’s advice sucked, and I sure want my marriage to work.”

After a few days, Lamar asked Eric “How’s it going?”

A smiling Eric said “I can’t believe the change; it’s like when we were first married.  She is so loving, the house is immaculate and the sex is like our honeymoon.”

The next month Eric asked Lamar to come over for dinner to see the wonders his advice had wrought.  As they entered the house, Lamar encountered a terrible stench.  Eric didn’t seem to notice.  Lamar then was shocked to see a filthy house with a kitchen filled to the ceiling with dirty dishes.  Eric was oblivious.  A nervous Lamar asked “Where is Jane?”

“She must be taking a nap.”

When they went into the bedroom Lamar saw Jane decomposing in bed.

Eric said “Let’s just let her nap a little longer.”

Lamar started to shake, but did what he could to remain composed “Say Eric, she looks like she needs her rest, why don’t we just postpone dinner for a couple of days.”

Eric, who saw nothing out of the ordinary, said “Sure, but I really want you to have dinner with us soon.”

As soon as Lamar was out the door, he called 911.

The police investigation found some things which were surprising and some that were not.  Jane had been dead for about three weeks.  Eric was a diagnosed schizophrenic who could behave fairly normally when he took his meds.  Like so many others, he did so well on his meds, he recently decided that he didn’t need them.

The surprising part is that he didn’t kill her.  She died of an aneurysm, but he just could not acknowledge it and slipped into a dream world. 

Eric’s detailed description of their fantastic sex life over the last few days troubled his interviewers for weeks.

      There are some things that no marital advice will help, but it didn’t seem that way to Eric.  His life got even better when some nice people found him a new home where he didn’t have to go to work anymore and a lot of friendly people took care of him.  The best part came when Jane told him they would be parents.

“Marriage” originally appeared in Penny Shorts, on June 25, 2015.


The author used to make numbers for a living and now he writes stories for fun https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/

Twit handle @dougiamm`

aberrantword - Doug Hawley

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2017