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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 Rich MacNeill 2018

A Turn for the Worse


by M. Espinosa



You are beautiful and intelligent and classy. Women your age pay to get laid. He turns towards me, momentarily taking his hands off the wheel.


The mountain road is steep with sharp hairpin curves.


Are you telling me to be grateful for the occasional fuck?


Oh shit, can’t you take a joke? He presses down on the gas. 


I tighten my scarf against the wind, which is messing my hair as it blows through the open window. He holds the electronic controls.


Can’t you shut the damned window?


I need the fresh air, he says.


We stop in a small mountain town for cold sodas. A secondhand shop intrigues me.  Old jewelry is displayed the window. 


We walk inside, and inside the front counter is an antique silver ring with a gorgeous blue sapphire in its center. 


It fits my ring finger perfectly, as if it were made for me.


How much?


Sixty-five dollars.


I take out a credit card, pay for it, and wear it out of the shop. I let its energy flow through my body


When we drive back into Albuquerque with its crowded Central Avenue, it is dusk.  We park and go inside our apartment. It has been over a month since we had sex.


In his mind I’m an old broad who is lucky not to have to pay. But then, I am paying. I am his major source of support. Without me, he’d be on the street.


We get into bed and he turns his back. He is always so tired at night.


There is no rage like that of a woman scorned.


The ring vibrates through me.


I go to an herbalist in the old Mexican district of the City. Each day I pour just a few grains of the mixture she has prepared into his morning coffee—about an eighth of a teaspoon, the size of a baby’s fingernail.


That night, in bed, he caresses my shoulders and breasts. I pretend to be asleep.


Over the months, he grows more ardent.


But he also looks older.


His erections begin to fail.


A year has passed. I return from my morning run, prepare his oatmeal, help him to the table, and feed him spoonfuls of the soft substance. The gray in my hair has vanished. My breasts no longer sag. My thighs have lost their cellulite. I’ve begun to menstruate again.


Sometimes I’m late after a tryst with the new man in my life, and then the poor soul is hungry and anxious when I return.




Maria Espinosa managed to get expelled from Harvard, and has lived  most of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area. A recent transplant to New Mexico, she feels that her roots are finally beginning to penetrate the hard, dry desert earth. Maria has published two several award-winning novels. They include Longing, Dying Unfinished, Incognito: Journey of a Secret Jew, and an earlier novel, of which she rarely speaks, Dark Plums, about a Manhattan prostitute. Since then, she has completed another novel, not yet published, and has begun a sixth. Website: www.mariaespinosa.com

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2018