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Darker Than Dark-Fiction by Mark Joseph Kevlock
What a Mess-Fiction by Miles Ryan Fisher
Flippimg the Frozen Finger Farewell-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
A Gift of Death-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Maggot-Fiction by Max Watt
Redemption for a Lowlife-Fiction by Angelo Gentile
A Night Out at Wrath's-Fiction by Jason Butkowski
The Pact-Fiction by Edward Francisco
Joey Brick-Fiction by Henry Simpson
Violators-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Trauma-Fiction by Robert Petyo
Fire-Fiction by Tom Barlow
The Bank Robbin' Deacon-Flash Fiction by Walter Giersbach
The Matrix of Love-Flash Fiction by J. Brooke
Huddled and Crying-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
The Mere Four-Flash Fiction by Henry G. Stanton
The Big Hunt-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Family Tree-Poem by Neil Ellman
A Line from Lynynrd Skynyrd-Poem by Mark Young
The End of the End-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Bones-Poem by Christopher Hivner
The Berserker Train-Poem by Christopher Hivner
Contemplating an Unknown-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Lifeless Space Rock-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Our Armored Oxygen Suits-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Like Broken Glass-Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Walk at Night-Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Terrible Animal-Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
I Am Borges-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
I Am Hesse-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
I Am Camus-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The House of Four Senses-Poem by John Grey
At the Complaint Department-Poem by John Grey
My Mighty Pen-Poem by John Grey
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Angel of Manslaughter
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No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Darren Blanch 2019



Robert Petyo



“Where the hell are you?” Jake snapped when he got Tom’s answering machine. “It’s almost seven-thirty and nobody’s here for cards. Get your ass over here.”

Jake was in the empty back room of Donny’s Bar at their usual spot where they gathered every other Wednesday night for some drinks, some chatter, and a night of poker. They had been playing for years, and Jake always looked forward to the short-term escape from the real world of nine-to-fives, car payments, and difficult relationships. As did the others. So, where were they?

He looked down at the phone he had slapped onto the table and was surprised to see how large it was.

 Kim must have bought an upgrade for him. If it was up to him, he’d never get an upgrade. In fact, he had always preferred his old-fashioned flip phone. But Kim was always taking charge. It was one of the things he loved about her. And one of the things he hated about her. It simplified his life to have a girlfriend who worried about the insignificant stuff like what clothes to wear or what to have for dinner. But, staring at the gaudy screen, he thought maybe it was time to become a bit more of his own man and stop letting her run his life.

A young waitress approached. He didn’t recognize her, but he never paid much attention to the staff here, except for Donny, the portly bartender. Jake stayed focused on the cards. “I’m waiting for my friends,” he said. “But get me a beer. No. Better make it a Coke. Got a bit of a headache tonight.”

After she disappeared, he looked around the empty room and wondered if he should call Bart and Steve and bitch at them, too. He especially wouldn’t mind going after Steve, who had lately been eyeing up Kim.

A few minutes later the waitress brought his Coke. “Are you here every Wednesday?” he asked.

“Yeah. My regular shift.”

“Did anything weird happen here two weeks ago?”

“Buddy, I can’t remember what happened yesterday, let alone two weeks ago.”

“Back here. A fight or anything like that.”

“A fight? That I would remember. Nobody fights here at Donny’s. Everybody’s too busy sleeping.” She started to cackle as she turned toward the main bar.

He stroked his temple as he watched her leave. Something must have happened for them to be stiffing him like this. Sure, they sometimes argued when they played, but they always got over it. That’s what friends did.

After his first sip of his soda, he saw Tom appear at the entrance to the back room. “How are you feeling?” Tom asked as he approached.

“How do you think I’m feeling? I don’t like getting stood up here on game night.”

“No. I mean physically, how are you feeling?”

Huh? “I feel fine.”

“You haven’t had any accidents lately, have you?”

“Accident? Tom, what is your problem?”

“Well, the problem is that we haven’t played cards in three months. Not since Steve died.”

Jake’s mouth dropped open.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Am I okay? You’re the guy who’s talking like a whacko. What do you mean, Steve died?” He pushed his chair away from the table and stood.

“Steve is dead. You were there when he shot himself.”

“You’re nuts.” He started toward the bar.

Tom blocked him. “Are you all right? Have you been smacked in the head recently? Because it looks like you have some memory loss.”

“I’m fine. You’re the one who’s fucked up.” Jake shoved him away and ran through the main bar. A silent big screen TV lit the patrons who slumped on stools and didn’t notice any commotion behind them. Jake rushed outside where he sucked in some fresh chilled air.

“Where’s your car, Jake?” Tom had followed him.

“My car?” He looked up and down the narrow street. Daylight had faded and the streetlights were on. He crossed to the small parking lot across the street, but his car wasn’t there. Had he driven? “I guess I got a ride from Kim.”


“Yeah. Does that bug you, too?”

“When did you and Kim get back together?”


“You guys split up a month ago.”

“You’re full of shit. Let’s go to her place right now.” He spun and ran.

Kim lived about three blocks from Donny’s in an old Victorian house that had been converted into rentals. She would knock some sense into Tom.

“Jake. Wait a minute.” Tom’s voice was distant because he couldn’t keep up. When Jake whipped around the corner at Kim’s street, he jerked to a halt.

There were two police cars, lights pulsing, angled on the street in front of Kim’s house. Just beyond them was an ambulance, the back doors wide open. And across the street a car was smashed into a light pole. It looked like—

“That’s your car,” Tom puffed from behind him.

Jake raced toward the house where two EMTs were wheeling out a gurney. He could see a woman sitting on the gurney, her head wrapped in a white bandage. “Kim?”

A policeman cut in front of him, holding out a hand to stop him. “You know this woman?”

“Of course. She’s my girlfriend.”

“Are you Jake Millerton?”


“That’s your car?”

Shaking, he glanced toward the wrecked vehicle. “I think so,” he whispered. But how did it get here?

The policeman gestured toward Kim. “She says you assaulted her.”

Jake slipped to his knees. They had argued. He remembered that now. About Steve.

He touched his throbbing temple.

“And she says we should reopen the investigation into Steve Walker’s suicide.”

Art by Darren Blanch © 2019

Robert Petyo's crime stories have appeared in small press magazines and on the web, most recently at Mystery Weekly, Spinetingler, Flash Bang Mysteries, and in the anthology, A Bit of a Twist. His most recent crime novel, The Poe Manuscript, is available as an ebook from Amazon. In the deep dark past, he wrote three science fiction novels under three different names. 

In his other life, he is recently retired from the U.S. Postal Service and enjoys playing with his adorable grandson. He can be reached at

His most recent crime stories have been published on the web at Flash Bang Mysteries, and in the anthologies EconoClash Review, Last Shot Fired, Passage of Time, COLP: Sky’s the Limit, and Suspense Unimagined.

Darren Blanch, Aussie creator of visions which tell you a tale long after first glimpses have teased your peepers. With early influence from America's Norman Rockwell to show life as life, Blanch has branched out mere art form to impact multi-dimensions of color and connotation. People as people, emotions speaking their greater glory. Visual illusions expanding the ways and means of any story.

Digital arts mastery provides what Darren wishes a reader or viewer to take away in how their own minds are moved. His evocative stylistics are an ongoing process which sync intrinsically to the expression of the nearby written or implied word he has been called upon to render.

View the vivid energy of IVSMA (Darren Blanch) works at: www.facebook.com/ivsma3Dart, YELLOW MAMA, Sympatico Studio - www.facebook.com/SympaticoStudio, DeviantArt - www.deviantart.com/ivsma and launching in 2019, as Art Director for suspense author / intrigue promoter Kate Pilarcik's line of books and publishing promotion - SeaHaven Intrigue Publishing-Promotion.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2019