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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
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

nothingicoulddo.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2018

NOTHING I COULD DO

 

                                        by Brian J. Smith

 

 

 

THERE wasn’t much I could do but lay there with my eyes squeezed shut while they did it.

We were about to go to bed around nine because she was about to go back to the university when there was a knock on the door. I walked over to see who it was at this ungodly hour when the door burst open and they stepped inside one by one. The chain snapped off the wall and danced across the kitchen floor as two of them grabbed me by the arms and sent the others into the bedroom.

          They slammed me onto the floor and whipped and kicked me until it hurt. Beneath all the beatings, the sound of torn fabric and the squeal of bedsprings mingled with the worst sound a man could ever hear.

          “Help me! Get off me, you-you! Help me.”

          The panicked tone of her scream burrowed into my brain, chiseling away not just pieces of my skull but my soul, too. They laughed when they were done, and I couldn’t taste nothing but blood on my tongue and feel a thousand rivers of pain and shame pumping through my chest and stomach. I couldn’t see their faces, but I could tell they enjoyed every minute of it.

          “Get him in here.” One of them demanded. “I want him to watch.”

          They rolled me onto my stomach and dragged me into the bedroom. They’d stretched her across the bed, her head jutting over the side of the mattress, her face half shrouded by a falling curtain of blonde hair. A tall broad-shouldered man in black clothes and a matching black ski-mask was lying behind her, his crotch pressed against her exposed white rump.

          Another man stood in the far-left corner, aiming a sleek metallic camcorder with a little view mirror on the side.

          When they pulled my head back to look at him, the man on the bed said, “You know why we’re here don’t you, Mickey Boy? If you’d just given us what we want—.”

          “I’ve got until Thursday.” My lips were bloody and swollen. “You told me I had—.”

           “I’ve had enough of your shit. I’ve given you plenty of time to get us the money.” He hissed through the ski mask. “I’ve got ways of getting what I want.”

          The sound of his zipper made my heart skip a beat; a blanket of gooseflesh broke out across my skin. She squeezed her eyes shut because she knew what was coming; we all did. He didn’t exactly ram it into her but he did a job of finding the right place. The slap of flesh against flesh mingled with his grunts and the sick satisfying giggles coming from his bookends; two of them continued to hold me down while the other one recorded every second.

The more she screamed the more they grunted. There were too many of them, so the odds were stacked against me; five on one and you were a mouse trapped by a pack of hungry cats, their eyes glinting with something stronger than blood lust and the sweet taste of anger.

          I had no one to blame but myself; no one. I’d gotten into some trouble and needed a major fix and I’d have done anything for that fix.

          It gets that bad when you haven’t had it after a while. You feel ants crawling under your skin and no matter how many times you scratch yourself you find out you’ve done nothing but scratch yourself so raw it hurts and then you feel your stomach twist up like a Christmas bow going in every direction but where it wasn’t supposed to go and then you begin to sweat so bad it soaks into your clothes and hair and when you try to wipe it away it keeps coming back. And that was before the shivers and the hallucinations.

           I tried to look away, closing my eyes to block this moment from my memory, but they pulled my head back behind my shoulders and made me watch as they took turns. One would finish and then tag the other one in and so on. One time wasn’t enough and when they finally finished, they beat the hell out of me but I blacked out before I could feel the rest of it.

 

                                                          *****

 

THAT was twenty-four hours ago.

          Now I’m in the hospital and I’m hooked up to so many tubes and machines I don’t know which one is doing my peeing or pumping my blood. I can’t hear much of what the doctors are saying but I get the gist of it. They repeat it to the nurses as much as they do to the cops: broken ribs, contusions and two broken legs and a dislocated shoulder.

          And all because I couldn’t go without that sweet juice pumping through me for just one night and then the next night and then the next night after that. I couldn’t pay my dues to The

Devil so he came to collect not just my soul but Tonya’s virginity as well. She was the most God-fearing woman I’d known in my whole useless life and she had plans for that virginity but here I’d gone off and gave it to The Devil because I couldn’t keep a simple promise.

          She wanted me to change; she was as good a reason for me to spin my life back around into the right direction as any other. Instead, I’d dragged her down with me and I couldn’t blame her if she hated me for the rest of her life. I deserved everything I got.

          There was only one way for me to keep them away from me or my family.

 I’ve turned up the morphine drip and now I’m waiting for that sweet ride on Cloud Nine to carry me off to wherever I’m meant to go.  

          Don’t worry, Tonya. This wasn’t your fault.

          Daddy Loves You.

Brian J. Smith has been featured in numerous anthologies, e-zines and magazines in both the mystery and horror genres. His books Dark Avenues, The Tuckers, Uncle Bubby, and Three O’Clock are still available on Amazon for Kindle. He lives in southeastern Ohio with his four dogs, where he eats more than enough spicy food that no human being should ever consume, already has too many books and buys more, and doesn’t drink enough coffee to suit his palate, and cheers on the Ohio State Buckeyes. He can be found on Twitter under BrianJSmith13 and on Instagram under buckeyefan913.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018