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Baby It Was Divine-Fiction by P. K. Augustyn
Reservation Beer Run-Fiction by Daniel G. Snethen
Dark Streets-Fiction by Harry David Moss
Breathless-Fiction by Mick Rose
The "Birthday Blues"-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Redhead Reba-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Thor's Anvil-Fiction by J Brooke
You Never Know-Fiction by Jim Harrington
Something About the Devil's Pickup-Fiction by Walter Giersbach by
Do I Know You?-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The One and Only Alexa Kalekar-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Guillotines Cause Permanent Disability-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Biology is Destiny-Flash Fiction by David Powell
Knucksie-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Cell-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
Urban Renewal-Flash Fiction by Gerald E. Sheagren
Pearl-Poem by Meg Baird
Conundrum Street-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Hope of It-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Endings #2-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Immense Hot-Air Balloons-Poem by Alan Catlin
Red Fires Up the Bike-Poem bt Alan Catlin
Jazz Standards-Poem by Kevin Rabas
The Evening Air-Poem by Kevin Rabas
For K-Poem by Mark Young
The/Secret Life/ of Wilhelm Reich-Poem by Mark Young
A Line from the Leningrad Cowboys-Poem by Mark Young
Delta Leo Remembers Her Nephew-Poem by David Spicer
Rosa and the Creep-Poem by David Spicer
Tribe of Two-Poem by David Spicer
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 Hillary Lyon 2018


  By Mick Rose


Pain. Hammering his skull. Like a Jehovah Witness’s zealous fist assailing an unanswered wooden door. Drew peeled opened bleary eyes to an even more unwelcome sight: a grisly pair of shotgun barrels primly pointed at his chest.

Certainly not the first time Drew had surfaced from the Land of Nod—and discovered himself aroused with a loaded gun that wasn’t his. (Though he much preferred stiff nipples brushing hard against his chest.) But if his luck held true to form this wouldn’t be his last—

“You lookin’ to get killed, Mister?”

“Naw, I’m just lookin’ to find a Starbucks.”

“You got a real long walk ahead of you then—closest one around here is sixty miles east.

“Course if you had yourself an iPhone you’d know that.”

Shifting the shotgun to her shoulder, she strode right out the barn.

Abandoning his gear and beer (empties littering the hay), teetering Drew followed, shielding swollen eyes against the early-morning sun. Staring at her ass easily made him seasick. But no pain, no gain—and Drew enjoyed the view.

“Kick-ass place you’ve got here,” he hollered, clawing straw from his hair.

“For five-million-two it’s yours—no more skulking in the barn.”

“Why you selling?”

“Cuz I’m the kick-ass realtor who holds the exclusive listing on this private kick-ass place.”

That explained the pencil skirt—and the three-inch pump stilettos. He’d glimpsed a lovely canyon of yawning freckled cleavage. But that slender finger on the trigger had commanded his full attention.

“Not a for sale sign in sight. And you’re the first person I’ve seen all week. The owners living elsewhere and just decide to sell?”

She fished a nearby flowerbox. And flipped a key to Drew. Who, much to her surprise, snatched the silver Yale in stride. Though he fumbled with the lock before the deadbolt finally snicked. Then they stepped into the kitchen—where the Keurig caught his eye.

“What I wouldn’t do for hot coffee and a shower—”

She leaned the shotgun by the entry and left the back door open, key still in the lock. “Hot coffee, hot shower—you probably want hot pussy next.”

“Do I have to walk sixty miles to get that, too?”

“Depends how bad you want it. Or what you’re willing to settle for.”

“Right now, I’d settle for coffee.”

“Help yourself—you’re good at it: cups are in the cupboard above the stove; everything else is on the counter.”

Drew snagged a Boise State Broncos mug, selected a Dark Roast from the Sampler pack, snapped the K-cup in place, and idly tapped Start.

“I like your work, Drew. It inspired me.” Smirking she waggled an iPhone, her back propped against the fridge; those fine long-legs crossed above the ankles. “Did a magazine hire you for this here job—or are you freelancing?”

Drew stared at his Facebook Profile. Jesus, how long had she been in the barn rifling his gear? “Both. Photojournalism’s a ruthless field. Even worse than a frenzied band of Bargain Basement shoppers—all hopped on crystal meth when Black Friday rolls around. I learned early: save your best photos for yourself—everyone wants quality, but no one wants to pay.

“And male Greater Sage Grouse are truly magnificent birds few people ever see. They’re secretive creatures. And outside mating season, they live in isolation. But late February to April, they gather to court. Watching these birds perform their rituals always leaves me breathless.”

“How did you know these birds were here?”

Drew shrugged. “I network.”

“How did you get here?”

Drew set the empty mug in the sink. “Hired a ride from the airport.” His propensity for DUIs had left him bereft of a license. And sixty nasty days in jail had curbed his propensity to drive without one.

“Hot shower’s down that hall, to your left,” she instructed.

Drew shuffled off. Pleased with his good fortune, he took his time in the pulsing steam. And returned to the kitchen, snuggly wrapped in a towel, his right-extended-arm gripping balled-up grungy clothes.

“I need your help, Drew.”

“With what?”

She waved a half-liter-bottle of Absolut. “Open this, will you?” 

Drew considered his clothes—and tossed them out the door.

Accepting the open vodka, she swallowed a tentative sip, and gave him a tentative kiss. Passing back the bottle, she plunked her ass on the kitchen table: and delving her blue blazer—suddenly produced his knife.

“I want it rough, Drew. Starting with my clothes. I want you to shred them. I want you to leave me … breathless.”

Hearing hinky housewife shit was nothing new to Drew. Slugging Absolut, he calmly reclaimed his knife. But bit back the growing urge to whistle while he worked.

Setting the knife and vodka on the counter by the Keurig, horny Drew leaned forward to twist a tender nipple. “Now this is what I call prime real estate. Your husband’s a lucky man—”

“Stop talking!” she ordered. And slapped him in the face: long, artificial nails strafing cheek and neck. Drew’s reflexive backhand smashed her in the mouth—extracting blood-for-blood. All thoughts of foreplay vanquished, he ripped away the towel and plunged his cock between her legs—her pussy even drier than arid desert sage. And just about as cold as far-flung fucking Pluto.

“That’s it, Drew, take what you want. Take it, take it, take it!”  

He slammed a fist into her ribs: a blow that left her breathless—

Drew soon passed out on the floor. But eventually opened bloodshot eyes to a familiar unwelcome sight: a pair of goddamn shotgun barrels—pointed primly at his chest.

“Congratulations Drew. You left your jailbird fingerprints everywhere. Your DNA’s under my nails. And your mess lies in the barn. So when the cops find your corpse splattered around this kitchen, they will naturally conclude I shot you in self-defense. Once they’re out of my hair, I will sue the idiots who hired you for endangering my life. I imagine they’ll offer me several million to keep my case out of court.

“Hope you enjoyed your unlawful stay. And our kick-ass romp in the hay.”

All that primo real estate in all its naked glory. But the last thing Drew laid eyes on was that single slender finger.

Yeah, that finger left him breathless—



A hack musician and photographer, Mick wanders the United States in search of the perfect pizza. He’s turned his hands to writing fiction—and dabbling in poetry. The kind folks at Near to the Knuckle and Horror Sleaze Trash have sullied their pages with his stories. While Black Petals and Better Than Starbucks have generously published his poetry. Want to say, “Hello?” You can visit him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mick.rose.56808

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018