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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 Kevin Duncan 2018

Redhead Reba

Kenneth James Crist


“What’s this doggie’s name?” Reba June was sitting cross-legged on the carpet of the living room. From my vantage point in the kitchen, looking through the pass-through, I could see the smooth, white flesh of her upper thighs and a bit of her black panties. She was wearing a short green skirt, the same shade as her eyes, and a halter top. Her kinky, curly hair was just as red as I remembered.

“Motherfucker,” I said, and watched her dissolve into helpless laughter. The Corgi puppy backed up a step and cocked its head at her and just made her laugh harder.

“Why would you name it that?” She was still giggling and I added another slam.

“Because ‘Booger-snot’ or ‘Cock-knocker’ just didn’t have quite the pizzazz I was looking for.” Now, she was flat on her back, gasping and guffawing great gales of laughter. The three glasses of wine were making her a bit giddy, too, I suspected.

I had run across her at Quinn’s, a pub down in Old Town that I hadn’t been to in several years. It had been that long since I’d seen her, too. She had aged a bit, but chosen not to mature.

I finished fixing her screwdriver and carried it in, setting it on the coffee table.

I dropped down and sat on the floor and waited while she got herself under control, then sat up. She reached out to me and we kissed, her cool fingers playing in the hair on the nape of my neck. “Where you been all this time?” Her eyes sparkled as she asked it. “We always had so much fun together. . . .”

“And then you went and got married,” I said.

“And you got a dog and named him Motherfucker.”

“Not really. . . .”


“No. His real name is Gizmo.”

She started laughing again and the dog was pawing at her lap. She pulled him up and reached for her drink.

“Shit. That’s almost as funny.”

“I didn’t name him. He was at the shelter and the people who had to leave him had already named him.”

“How could they leave this sweet boy?” She was hugging the dog, getting dog hair all over her top and her tits, which were not held in check very well by the skimpy cloth.

I got up and sat with my drink on the sofa, hoping she’d get over the dog and join me. She played with him for another couple of minutes, throwing one of his toys and laughing as he streaked after it on his stubby legs. Finally, she got up and came to the sofa. Instead of sitting beside me, she straddled me and sat on my lap, her skirt riding up almost to her waist.

We had been together many times in the two years we’d dated and each of us knew what the other liked. My hands stroked her thighs and we enjoyed a lot of orange-flavored kisses as the vodka kicked in.

In a couple minutes, I untied her top and freed her breasts, and brushed some dog hair off. There was a bit more sag there, but she was still very well put together. She stripped off my shirt and leaned into me, letting my chest hair tickle her nipples.

In another minute, I said, “Trade places with me.”

When she was seated, I pushed the coffee table out of the way and went to my knees before her. I pushed her skirt up, then her legs and began kissing her squarely on the center panel of her panties. She knew what was coming and she was just as eager to get there as I was. In moments, she was skinning her panties off and then I was invading her with my lips and tongue.

“Holy shit . . . I’ve missed this,” she murmured, a scant few seconds before she had the first orgasm of the evening. I held her tightly while she came, then she got the giggles again. “My damn husband won’t do that,” she said, “he thinks that’s just too dirty.”

As I started on her again, I whispered, “What a dumbass. . . .”



Later, in my bed, I asked, “Can you get away with staying the night, or do you hafta scurry home?”

She snuggled closer and said, “I probably should go home, but I don’t really want to . . . In a little while. . . .” Then we fell asleep.

It was barely turning daylight when I felt her scramble out of bed and she raced to the bathroom. I sat up and looked around. There was a broken trail of clothing from the living room into the bedroom. I got up and started gathering up her things and brought them to the foot of the bed.

Soon, she came out, having brushed her teeth and done something with her hair. I was worried just a bit.

“How much trouble are you in?”

She was slipping into her top as she said, “I texted one of my girlfriends. She’ll cover for me. Should be okay.”

Then the doorbell rang. We looked at each other and I heard her breathe, “Oh, shit. . . .”

I walked through the living room and out to the front parlor and looked out through the sheers in the bay window. In a moment, she was right beside me.

“Is that him?”

Again, “Oh, shit. How the fuck did he find me?”

“Duh. Your car’s right out front.”

“But how . . . oh, well. Guess there’s no help for it, now.” She quickly turned and kissed me and then yanked open the door and bolted past her husband, who turned and watched her as she flew to her black Honda.

Then he turned and looked at me. There was no animosity in his stare. No more than there would be in the eyes of a scientist examining an interesting specimen on a microscope slide.

He turned and stepped off the porch and walked back to his pickup and left. As soon as he was at a safe distance, Gizmo barked him the rest of the way.



I didn’t exactly haunt Quinn’s, but I started hanging out there more than I had been. I found her there the following week. She had the fading remains of a pretty good shiner and her split lip was healing nicely. As I slid into the booth beside her, I said, “Sorry I got you in trouble.”

She smiled carefully and said, “Not the first time I’ve been there, My Man. Besides, it was totally worth it. And you should see the other guy. . . .”

“What? You mean yer husband? What did you do?”

“Well, you’ve never been in my kitchen. It has an island in the middle, with a pan rack overhead. We were in the kitchen when he punched me. I wasn’t expecting it, and he got me pretty good. Then he turned around to stalk outta the kitchen and I reached up and got a cast-iron skillet.”

“Oh, no. . . .”

“Yep. I said, ‘Hey, motherfucker,’ and he spun around and I fuckin’ clocked his ass with the skillet. Knocked him colder than shit.”

“Oh, shit. Then what?”

“When he came to, one of his eyes didn’t look just right, so I drove him to the emergency room. I’d given him a concussion.”

“Didn’t ya get in trouble?”

“Nah. We were both fucked up and I just told ‘em we’d been in a car wreck. They kept him overnight. Next day, when I was drivin’ him home, I told him if he ever punched me again, I’d kill him. Pretty sure he believed me, too.”

Just then, a slightly younger, prettier blonde walked up to our table and Reba stood up and they had a quick girl-hug. “Who’s this nice lady” I asked, standing up from the booth.

The nice lady extended her hand and said, “I’m her cover, when she doesn’t get caught with her panties down. I’m Pamela.”

I turned back to Reba and said, “Well, I’m glad you’re okay and I really hate it that you got in trouble.”

“Yeah, this is only the second time in, what, four years? And I was a bad girl both times. After I got his ass home, we had pretty good sex. Nothing like you and me, though. But he’s learned there are some things I just won’t stand for. Being beat on is one of them.”

I glanced at Pamela and she hurriedly looked away. I knew I had been discussed at length by these two and that Pamela had my measure. I wondered if she’d make a move and, if so, how soon it would be.


As it turned out, it wasn’t that long. Pamela apparently had never had what Reba described to her about our times together, and it wasn’t long before I had my own personal stalker.

At first, it didn’t really register. I had stopped at my usual convenience store for gas and suddenly, there she was on the other side of the same gas pump island, seemingly having a problem.

I stepped around the pump and said, “Ma’am? Are you having trouble?”

She turned, and I saw it was Pamela and she said, “Oh! Hi, Jerry. I can’t get this damn thing to take my card. Would you mind trying it for me?”

As I put her credit card in the machine, she seemed to stumble a little and I felt one of her boobs bump against my arm. “Oops, sorry,” she said, giggling a little, “I had a couple glasses of wine. . . .” She steadied herself by gripping my arm.

The pump kicked on and I put the nozzle into the tank and started it. About that time, my own pump clicked off and I went and hung it up. When I looked back up, Pamela was standing on my side of the pump, watching me. “Nice to see you again,” she said.

“Yeah, you too, Pamela.”

Weird, I thought at the time. It would get weirder.

Two days later, on my regular day off, I was doing some grocery shopping, when I found Pamela again, browsing the aisles at the grocery store.

“Hi, Jerry! Hey, is that a new coat? Wow, that color looks good on you.”

“Um, thanks, Pamela. How you doin’ today?”

“Well, could be better . . . hey, are you busy tonight? I’ve got a couple friends of mine that want me to go to a play, and I could use an escort. . . .”

“Gosh Pamela, I’m really flattered that you’d ask, but yeah, I’m kinda tied up tonight . . . (Screwing my favorite redhead, whom you know very well. . . .)

“Okay, well, thanks anyway. Don’t let me keep ya. Nice seeing you, Jerry.”

I started watching by back trail and I soon realized Pamela was following me a lot of the time—too much of the time to be coincidence.

I didn’t say anything to Reba about it, and looking back at the way things turned out, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference, if I had.

On a Saturday night, when Reba’s husband was in town and I was having a stay-at-home weekend, my doorbell rang at ten-thirty at night. I had already gone to bed and I was almost asleep. I had to get up and clear the alarm system, then go to the door. I took along my Glock, as I always do. Gizmo was right behind me. I’m sure in his little doggy brain, he figured he had my back.

Pamela was at the door, and she was far from sober. She was slurring her words and she was unsteady on her feet. There was a shit-eating grin on her face. It was raining like a bastard and her hair was wet and plastered down.

“Hey fella. I jus’ waz passin’ by an’ I thought, ‘I bet ol’ Jerry would like a lil’ company’ . . . how ‘bout it, Jerry, you up fer some fun . . . ?”

So, finally, with the help of some booze, she’d gotten her nerve up.

“Um, no. I don’t think so, Pamela. I’d like to hang out with ya, but right now you’re sloppy drunk and I don’t care for that. You go home and get some sleep. Maybe call me later, okay?”

As I gently closed and locked the door, I could hear her yelling out there, “Hey, you . . . you fucker! Am I not good enough for you? What the fuck! You got some cunt in there? You asshole. . . .”

It went on for a few minutes and then I watched from behind the sheers as she tottered back to her car and eventually drove away.

Just as I turned away from the bay window, I saw Gizmo stretching upward and putting his paws on the sill. He was staring intently into the dark, which was relieved only slightly by the streetlamps. Then, I caught a flash of a dark car going by, in the same direction that Pamela had gone. Desperate Pamela. Needy Pamela. The car was running with no lights. It didn’t mean anything at the time and again, even if it had, it most likely wouldn’t have made any difference. I tell myself that often.


On Monday morning, as I opened my garage door to back out and go to work, there were two police cars blocking my driveway, one uniform car and one plain vanilla slick-top. I walked out into the driveway and a plainclothes copper got out and spoke.

“Jerry Laughlin?”

“Um, yeah, that’s me. What’s up?”

“Gonna need ya to come with us.” The uniform was out of his car now, a big, strapping youngster in an immaculate uniform.

“Okay. I was just on my way to work. . . .”

“Call in. Tell them you’ll be in later.”

“What’s this all about, guys?”

“We can talk about that downtown.”

“I could drive my pickup and just follow ya down. . . .”

“Nah. You can ride with me. We’ll bring ya back when we’re done.”

“Am I under arrest?”

“Nope. Not yet. We’re just detaining you for questioning. . . . hop in, let’s go.”

No Miranda, no cuffs. I got to ride in the front, like a citizen. Down to the building I’d worked at, for twenty years. Up to the sixth floor and into an interview room. Then they let me stew for an hour, while they watched me. Watched my body language. Seeing how nervous I might be. Seeing if I was worried. Seeing if I would get pissed.

Finally, they came in. The first detective and another one, both in shirt sleeves and ties and empty holsters, carrying yellow legal pads and coffee in Styrofoam cups. None for me, though. We went through the preliminaries. Name, address, DOB, etc. I pulled out my wallet and took out my driver’s license and my concealed carry permit, then my retired police ID.

“You were a cop?” This came from the younger guy.

“Yeah. Right here. I’ve interviewed perps right here in this room.”

“When did you retire, Sir?” Now I was “Sir.” Things were improving, somewhat.

“About the time you were born, I would imagine. My ID number was 738, what’s yours?”

“2851, Sir.”

“So, let’s quit dickin’ around and you guys tell me what the fuck’s goin’ on.”

I had just taken over their interview and they would realize it in a minute or so.

“You know a lady named Pamela Richards?”

“I know a lady named Pamela. Didn’t know her last name. Blonde, pretty, about thirty, maybe?”

“Twenty-eight, yeah. How do you know her?”

I ran through the whole meeting, stalking, drunk-at-the-door story for them as they took copious notes, which I knew was all for show. The camera was rolling right on the other side of the glass, recording everything.

When I was finished, the older cop stepped out. In a minute he was back. This time I got coffee and a couple donuts. Now I was their hero. I was helping solve whatever they were working on. Halfway through the second donut, the younger guy said, “She’s dead.”

I set the rest of the donut down on the napkin it had come with and looked them both over.


“Shot in the head. In her car. Saturday night at eleven thirty, or thereabouts.”


“Yeah. Fuck. Where were you?”

“Home, in bed. And all alone, damn it.”

“Okay, look, you’re among friends here. Any ideas who might have wanted to do this?”

I thought back to the dark car I’d seen running without lights and said, “Yeah, I’m afraid I do. . . .”


Reba was picked up the next day. The gun was still in her car. A firearms identification test proved the bullet that killed Pamela had come from that gun. Cops had already speculated the shooter was someone Pamela knew. The window was down on the car and it happened right in front of Pamela’s house. A search warrant on Reba’s house turned up clothing with microscopic blood spatter—blowback from the shot that killed Pamela. Reba eventually confessed and was convicted.

I took vacation time to attend the trial, but I never had to testify. In the hallway between sessions, and with court guards watching us closely, Reba said, “You know why this happened, right?”

“No, not really,” I said.

“One of the other things I can’t stand. Anybody trying to cut in on one of my guys.” She paused a moment and then asked, “You never fucked her, did you?”

“No. It never went anywhere near that far. . . .”

“Good. That’s good, Jerry. I’d hate to think there was any . . . unfinished business.”

And less than an hour later, she was convicted, and they gave her a life sentence.

I need to get rolling now. It’s three hours up to Lansing, where the prison is located, and Reba looks forward to my visits. Her husband divorced her about a month after her conviction. Nobody else comes to see her and she won’t be getting out for at least twenty-five years. I probably shouldn’t feel responsible, but if I’d let Pamela in and sobered her up, maybe . . . well, shit, who knows?

Kenneth James Crist is a tired, broken-down old motorcycle cop from Wichita, Kansas. He began writing a novel in 1994 as keyboard practice and has since written four more novels, several novellas and a butt-load of short stories. His publications have been seen in Bewildering Stories, Tales of the Talisman, A Twist of Noir, A Shot of Ink, Eaten Alive, The New Flesh, The Sink, The Edge, Skin and Bones, and Kudzu Monthly, to name a few. Recently, he appeared in two of John Thompson’s anthologies at Hardboiled. They are Hardboiled, and The Undead War, both available at Dead Guns Press on Amazon.com                                   

He also has four books up in Kindle format, for sale on Amazon.com: Dreaming of Mirages, The Gazing Ball, Joshua, and Groaning for Burial, his latest zombie fiction.

He turned 74 in June, and he still rides his big Harley every day that weather permits and is now officially “retired”. He also operates Fossil Publications, publisher of Black Petals and Yellow Mama. In June, he made his first parachute jump and crossed that off his "bucket list."

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018