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Unreliable-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Dealing with Mr. Blue-Fiction by Michael Lemieux
iFriend-Fiction by Jeff Dosser
Till Human Voices Wake Us-Fiction by John Post
Tape-Fiction by Will Bernardara Jr.
Dead Drunk in Glasgow-Fiction by j brooke
The Spot-Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Wait Until the Ice Melts-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Tattooed Love Boys-Fiction by Greg Smith
The Losers-Fiction by John Short
Anger Serves a Greater Purpose-Fiction by Heather Santo
Odium Pentothal-Fiction by Steven M. Lerner
Finally Adopted-Flash Fiction by Tom Fillion
Boxing Day-Flash Fiction by K.J.Hannah Greenberg
Godmother-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
First Communion-Poem by Tom Fillion
Almost Gone-Poem by Henry Bladon
Foa Da Price of One-Poem by Joe Balaz
a few haunting memories-Poem by J. J. Campbell
Pressure Lines-Poem by Meg Baird
Work it out-Poem by Meg Baird
lily pads open-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
a melodious voice from the reeds-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
a cobblestone trail-Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
A Beautiful Madness on Mallory Square-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Beautiful Death on Mallory Square-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Luminous Metamorphosis on Mallory Square-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
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 Darren Blanch 2019


By Steven M. Lerner



          During the Cold War, when the Soviet Union and the United States were grappling for global dominance and the future of mankind, I was an interrogator for the CIA. During my tenure, many means of gaining advantage in the spy game were at my disposal. Our scientists were brilliant and tireless. What one side invented was soon counteracted by something the other side invented. We had a microphone that could record a conversation a mile away. The Russians came up with a soundwave blaster their agents could carry while discussing top secret plans so that all we’d get was static. We’d pump Sodium Pentothal into interrogation subjects to loosen their lips. The Russians countered with a drug called Alarin that field agents could sprinkle on their scrambled eggs in the morning, rendering Sodium Pentothal useless outside of a dentist’s office.

Then we invented Radon 171.

          I tried it once, so I’d know what my subjects were experiencing. A fellow agent asked me questions. Who is your supervisor? What is your passcode? What are the names of operatives you know personally? Et cetera.

I listened to a recording of the session. I was spitting out classified information like a Vegas slot machine spitting out coins.

          Using Radon 171, I obtained classified information regarding military weapons in development, intragovernmental squabbles, names and locations of operatives living under false identities in the States, and more.

          All this success resulted in an increase in funds shelled out to our beloved Department of Foreign Intelligence. I got a raise. I bought a Ferrari. I showed up at work in custom-tailored suits. April and I moved from the suburbs into a house the size of the Pentagon. We had a wine cellar and a tennis court and a big lawn for our kids and their friends and our purebred English bulldog to play on.

But there was a price. Between prepping, conducting interrogations, and various bureaucratic functions, I was putting in fourteen-hour days, often seven days a week. April complained at first, but some part of me wondered if she was complaining enough. She should have been livid, demanded I spend more time at home. I kept waiting for an ultimatum, but it never came.

I had no reason to suspect April of any extramarital activity, but I didn’t understand how she could be so complacent about how rare our time together had become. And now I had the Radon 171, in the grips of which no person could conceal a secret. And, to boot, they wouldn’t even remember revealing it.

I told myself I’d be doing it for both of us, that if I offered her the opportunity, she would jump at the chance to prove the faithfulness of her heart. As I would do for her. But in spite of my rationalizing, I could not, at first, bring myself to do it. I went about my work, trying to put the idea out of my mind. But the Radon 171 beckoned daily like a devil on my shoulder. I began to hate Radon 171.

One day I returned home early from work to find my wife engaged in rapt conversation with the pool man. I flushed with anger, though April had shown no signs of subterfuge. She greeted me warmly and explained that the pool man had witnessed Terry, our English bulldog, urinating in the pool. She found it amusing that he felt guilty about snitching on the dog. I feigned amusement, but the image of this man and my wife giggling together played in my mind repeatedly over the next several days, taunting me. I told myself again and again that she was not a cheater, that she was a good woman who loves me. But the Radon 171 beckoned with increasing vigor until, finally, I relented. I’ll do it for us, I told myself. I’ll do it because I am a paranoid fool who needs to be shamed by unassailable proof of his wife’s virtue.

          A week later— it was a Sunday night— I made use of one of the many drugs at my disposal and dosed April’s after-dinner glass of wine. She was fast asleep within thirty seconds. The kids were out somewhere, and I could conduct my interrogation in privacy.

          My face burned with self-loathing as I took syringe in hand and looked at my beautiful April, asleep to the world, asleep to the conniving, suspicious nature of her husband. I injected the Radon 171.

          Two minutes later, I began asking the series of questions designed to elicit proof of her virtue.

          “April,” I said.

          “Yes?” They answered always in monotone, without the slightest awareness of what was happening.

          “When was the last time you had sexual intercourse?”

          “Three nights ago,” she said.

          That was me.

          “Who is the last man other than your husband you’ve had sexual intercourse with?”

          “Billy Larkin.”

          I froze. “Billy Larkin?”


          “When was this?”

          “After the Homecoming Dance, my senior year of high school.”

          I suppressed a cry of relief and continued.

          “Who, other than your husband, do you have sexual fantasies about?”

          “No one,” she said.

A tear or two trickled down my face. I embraced her. She put her arms around me. I told her repeatedly how much I loved her.

          “I guess we can wrap this up,” I said, sniffling and wiping my tears. “We both have better things to do.”

          “Yes,” she said. “My weekly report to Rifkin.”

          “Who the hell is Rifkin?”

          “My handler at Russian Intelligence.”

Steven M. Lerner works in closed captioning and has a B.A. in music composition. His first publication was “Jury Pool” in Issue # 57 of Yellow Mama.

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