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The Last Meal of Laughing Boy Reilly-Fiction by Jason Butkowski
Miss Pearl-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Vegas, Napalm Strike-Fiction by j. brooke
Favorites-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Salton Sea-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
We Must Never Find Out-Fiction by Sam Graham
Collateral Damage-Fiction by Jim Farren
Radiant Night-Fiction byPauline Duchesneau
Late Returns-Fiction by P. K. Augustyn
Bad Influences-Fiction by Marci McKim
Where My Fathers-Fiction by Willie Smith
Nothing I Could Do-Fiction by Brian J. Smith
The Magician-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Sky Toucher-Falsh Fiction by Jerry Vilhotti
Dark Morning-Flash Fiction by M. G. Allen
What Might Happen in Vegas-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
San Mateo County Easter Egg Hunt-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Doing Some Resaearch-Poem by Roy Dorman
A Lack of Rain-Poem by Michael Keshigian
In Traffic-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Distinguished Souls-Poem by J. J. Campbell
The Ghosts of Murdered Children-Poem by J. J. Campbell
Digging Season-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Sometimes the Light is My Enemy-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Char-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Gone Feral-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Rat Tamer-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Imaginary Hedgehogs-Poem by Michelle Hartman
I Knew Him when He was Six-Poem by Michelle Hartman
A Reason for Everything-Poem by Michelle Hartman
Cartoons by Cartwright
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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 Hillary Lyon 2018

Late Returns

by P.K. Augustyn


It was dark. Then there was a pinpoint. A pinpoint of light. It was far away. Peaceful. Wake up. No, it’s peaceful here.

The light started to move. Slowly closer. Wake up you fool.

Faint noises. Echoing. Closer the light came and it was picking up speed. Like a freight train. The light was getting bigger and brighter. Faster and faster. Crashing noises.

Blinding light filled the space and my head exploded.

I opened my eyes. My skull felt like it was split open by an anvil. I closed my eyes and fell away. Back into the dark.


I woke up. The taste of blood and vomit in my mouth. Minutes passed. Slowly, I rolled over and got to my knees. I felt doing that was a major achievement. My head was killing me. On all fours, I made my way to the bathroom.

I reached the sink and with my right hand pulled myself up. I let out a yell. Agony torpedoed throughout both sides of my chest. Those damn kicks in my ribs. I turned on the cold water.  

I buried my head in the porcelain. The chill of the water did little to null the throbbing pain in my head.

I looked up. In the mirror I saw a face. I knew my nose was broken. My left eye was completely closed, surrounded by colors of black, brown and orange. The white of the right eye was fire red. My lips looked like two fat sausages and between them both front teeth were chipped. The right side of my jaw was as large as a catcher’s mitt.


And then I remembered Vera.

I stumbled out of the bathroom.

She was laying in the kitchen between the table and fridge. Her legs were bent at odd angles and her eyes bulged out glaring at me. The piano wire cut into her neck causing it to swell and forced her tongue out.

Crap. I failed.


Vera Sobieski came to my office yesterday. Said she needed protection. A Private Cop. She worked as barmaid at The Double Deuces. It’s owned by the Wojcik brothers. Four of them. She saw something. Something they did. And they saw her see that something.

She wouldn’t tell me what she saw. But she pleaded with me to protect her.

She had cash and I had twenty-six dollars in my savings account. 


I wrestled putting on my overcoat and shoved my .45 in the pocket. It was dark when I got outside. Dark as black oil. I grabbed a gas can from the garage and lifted it. Almost full. I got into my car and drove it slow over to The Double Deuces.


It was 4 A.M. when I stopped the car in front of the joint. It was closed, but lights were on and I knew they were in there. Grabbing the gas can, I made my way to the back of the building. I splashed gas all over the back, making sure I got the rear door good. Then I lit a match and hurried out to the front. I waited at the sidewalk with the .45 in my hand.

Frankie came out first. My first shot took half of his jaw off and spun him around. The second shot slammed into the back of his head.

Big Stan was next through the door. He had a gun in his hand but he never got the chance to raise it. I put two into the center of his chest.

When Luke came out I didn’t even care if he had a gun or not. My .45 blasted a hole in his throat. He just stood there with his blank eyes as big as two headlights. I placed the next shot between them.

Walt started spraying bullets before he came through the door. He managed to put a couple of them into my heap. Once his face emerged through the smoke I emptied my gun. I didn’t know how many bullets were left in my .45, but the coroner would never identify Walt by looking at his face.


It’s done. Over. The roof collapsed and flames shot twenty feet up in the air.

Two visions of Vera entered my mind. One of life when she first walked into my office. And one of death laying on my kitchen floor.  Then I remembered a repulsive face in a bathroom mirror.

I’m done. It’s over for me too. No one would hire a detective that couldn’t protect his client. Especially a detective that got his client killed.

I shoved the .45 in my coat pocket and headed east down the sidewalk.

I spotted a pinpoint of light down there. But it seemed far away.



P.K. Augustyn was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. He is a U.S. Navy veteran and has worked at a leading high tech company in Rochester N.Y. When you don’t see him walking the streets of Western New York, you will find him kicking up dust in the deserts of the American Southwest. He has authored numerous short stories and is presently completing his first novel, featuring a Polish-American private detective operating out of Buffalo N.Y. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018