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Better Than Nightmares-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Page One Four One-Fiction by A. F. Knott
The Devil You Know-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Cabin Fever-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Ramona's House-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Visitation-Fiction by Henry Simpson
The Night Driver and the Injured Man-Fiction by Roy Dorman
They Both had Guns-Fiction by Jeremiah Minihan
The Earl of Redcrest-Fiction by Ashley Bailey
Black Cat-Fiction by Stephen Tillman
A Place for Grandpa-Fiction by Paul Smith
Away from Home-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Dolls-Fiction by R. Peralaz
Bright Eyes-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Heart Attack-Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
A Turn for the Worse-Flash Fiction by Maria Espinosa
Rain-Flash Fiction by J. Brooke
Specter-Poem by Chad Haskins
Blue Ghost-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Unfathomable Rhapsody of Psychosis-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Late, Late-Poem by J. L. Hoy
One for the Road, I Guess-Poem by Jennifer Lemming
Edge of Nowhere-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Summit-Poem by Robert Beveridge
Three Tenses-Poem by Meg Baird
Caution-Poem by Meg Baird
Honeysuckle Breeze-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Old Crow and I-Peom by ayaz daryl nielsen
Moments-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Developing Land-Poem by Alan Catlin
Sideshow Freaks-Poem by Alan Catlin
Insomnia-Poem by Alan Catlin
Without-Poem by John Grey
Graveyard Stroll-Poem by John Grey
The Two of Us-Poem by John Grey
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 John Thompson 2018


A.F. Knott

Ensenada sprawled to my left, the Pacific to my right; blue, like he described it, but darker blue, grey even, with low cloud cover: Page one four one of Brown’s Requiem, James Ellroy. Hadn’t been there before, on that page, that is, until I stepped out of the car. Brought the book to keep me company. Never been to Ensenada, either. Only border crossing I’d ever done was Brownsville into Matamoras. Wanted to try Pulque. Ended up spitting it out, ordered a cerveza instead, then several more cervezas.

In the book, detective parks by a wooden railing. His view was my view. Like me, he’d been waiting for the Sandoval widow to come out of her house.

She had lost weight; described as ‘troubled’ in the book. When I saw her, if anything, she had gained: Fluid retention, legs like sausages. The widow addressed my presence right away. Took off her sunglasses and glared. I was standing on the edge of the bluff, above her house, interrupting her privacy. Someone in town mentioned she used to be a bombshell; now more of a crater. I felt for her.

Why did she skewer me with those bloodshot eyes? John Dillinger was living in her house was why, the John Dillinger: One hundred fourteen years old. That’s right. She told the postmaster he was trying to break the Ukrainian record; deliberately, she said: One hundred and sixteen. Only ate yogurt and drank vodka. Little known fact.

Dillinger’s body double had been shot in the lobby of the Biograph by Melvin Purvis, in the back of the head: Cowardly if you ask me. Everybody knew it wasn’t Dillinger. Face in the Cook County morgue didn’t fit Dillinger’s: Missing a dimple. Kind of like the Kennedy single shooter theory. People lie. More common than you’d think.

Dillinger ended up at the Sandoval widow’s place with a nice view of the Pacific. Took me ten years to track him. That was too long. By the time I arrived, couldn’t give a rat’s ass. Had lost my lust for life.

Dillinger was bedbound: Pressure sores, pissing himself, all the shit we look forward to. Told the widow to smother him if it ever got that bad. She didn’t. He was John Dillinger. Americans idolize their criminals, at least the successful ones. And she may have been in love. Who knows. Didn’t mention love to the postmaster, though.

What I heard was one Saturday afternoon, in the middle of a three-day tear, tequila and gin, not necessarily in that order, the widow felt chatty. Ended up at the Ensenada post office, leaning on the counter. Held up the line for twenty minutes. Postmaster wasn’t paying attention. Some writer down from San Diego was. Waiting to buy Mexican stamps. Story ended up in the LA tabloids: John Dillinger living at the Sandoval widow’s house. Everybody figured it was bullshit. Dillinger lead a hard life and wouldn’t have lasted much past sixty let alone one hundred fourteen. Nobody came down to check; nobody except me.

I could see into their bedroom from the bluff; saw the long lump under a pink and red checkered quilt, Foley bag on the bed post, ready to pop. She hadn’t been emptying it.

Widow told the postmaster, John yells ‘Whore!’ at me, and a lot worse. That’s why I drink, she said. Wake up at one every day to make my first Bloody Mary, she said. Sounded a little whiney to me. But that’s just me.

Old man Sandoval owned a field of derricks up in Long Beach back in the fifties. Made his money then got drunk one night. Had a snooze on the Southern Pacific railroad tracks. Run over by the three-nineteen out of Fresno. Left it all to the wife. She took in Dillinger two years later. He’d been staying in a hotel on Tecate, few blocks from the brewery. They met at the bar. She recognized him. Big true crime fan.

I was packing when I pulled onto the bluff: Two forty-four magnums. Got the permit easy, Gun Emporium, in Pasadena: Told the man I wanted to hunt geese. Real reason? These tanks were loud. I wanted to wake Dillinger: His brand of alarm clock.

When the widow finally opened her door and staggered onto the terrace, I popped both toasters off into the air. Curtain fluttered and whoever was in that bed jumped. Foley bag fell. Smacked the floor. Heard a splash. Mission accomplished.

That’s when she took off her sunglasses and caught me in her sights, gripping the Bloody Mary with two hands as if it were a jackhammer: Water glass filled to the brim, three celery sticks. Didn’t even flinch when the guns went off.

I slid both magnums back into their holsters, crossing my arms over one another. Did it slow: Wild west move. Practiced in the mirror. If either had gone off, I would have lost a leg. I’m a risk taker.

The widow squinted, trying to read my license plate. That’s when I waved, one of those opening and closing your hand kind of waves, my idea. She curtsied and went inside. Slammed the door. Endearing. I got in my car and drove back up the coast, glad it was over. Border crossing, bumper to bumper nightmare, the whole thing anticlimactic.

Returned the guns. Store owner was surprised. First time anybody done that, he said. I watched him examine me over the counter, holding his wad of Double Bubble still for a moment before starting to chew again.

Anthony Knott is a burned-out individual who gave up everything to write stories of mayhem and do collage— so that's what he’s doing. Novel Number Two was published in 2016 by Hekate: Ramonst, the dark story of an East Tennessee teenage serial killer's summer of 1970. The way Knott sees it, it's a matter of finding your voice in life; although he'll have to die first to confirm that. Writing site: afknott.com. Collage site: afknottcollage.com.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018