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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 Kevin Duncan 2019



Kenneth James Crist


Shit like this is a pain in the ass. I don’t think I really ask that much of my people. Loyalty, that goes without saying. The ability to keep their yap shut. That’s just common sense. A little job knowledge and the willingness to learn. I mean, c’mon, we’re all in this thing together, right? Ya take a fall, ya don’t talk to the cops. That’s why we have lawyers on retainer all the time. Yeah, tell ‘em yer name, address, fine. Date a birth, yeah, fine. They’re always gonna tell ya, “Hey Vinnie, yer not a suspect, okay? We just need some background, here…” Yeah, fuck that. You lawyer up.

Then they give ya that bullshit line about, “Hey, if ya didn’t do nothin’, whatcha need a lawyer for?”

“Sorry, fuckface, it’s a matter of principle…we don’t talk to cops without legal representation.”

It always amazes me on these TV shows like The First 48, how stupid people can be. I watch the way the cops work ‘em and it’s so silly. They sit in the little room and blab their ass off. I just wanna scream, “Get a lawyer, stupid!”

I mean, what da fuck, right? We all know what’s goin’ on, right? I mean, the cops know who they’re dealin’ with. They know when a guy’s mobbed up. They like ta act like they don’t, but it’s all bullshit.

So, then there was this Charlie idiot. Yeah, I know, he wasn’t a made guy, so I shouldn’t expect that much. Wasn’t family or nothin’. But, I mean, hey. Gave him a simple task. Get rid of this foreign prick that runs that grocery over on ninth. Asshole didn’t understand that when ya run a business here, ya pay. That way nothin’ bad happens and ya get a lotta custom, right? And nobody fucks with ya, right? Ya never gonna get robbed or nothin’. And if somebody tries some shit, they gotta deal with us. Way it works…Nope. Fucker wouldn’t pay. First one in a long time. Gotta make an example, right? So, I decide to let Charlie handle it. He was vouched for, somebody’s brother-in-law, that kinda thing.

I never said, “Make it look like a robbery.” If this Charlie fuck had half a brain, he woulda realized that would look bad, because of the protection thing. He shoulda grabbed the asshole off the street and disappeared him. Not that hard to do, but no, he hasta go for the big grandstand deal.

Next thing he screws up, he uses a semi-auto, instead of a revolver. Leaves shell casings all over the place. Fuck that. Use a wheel-gun, no ejected cases, everything stays in the piece. Use an unregistered piece, wear yer gloves, tape ‘em on so ya don’t screw up, heat of the moment and take ‘em off. Make it look like a robbery and get it done. Simple, in-and-out deal, if that’s the way yer gonna go. Gimme the money. No! Pop. Pop. Pop. He’s dead. Toss the weapon and split. Hardest killing to solve. Stranger murder. Simple. Right?

Now, this idiot Charlie doesn’t anticipate that the wife is gonna be there, too. Why the hell do ya think they call it a ‘Mom and Pop’ store? Of course she’s gonna be there. He pops the guy, she’s staring at his face, cause he’s too dumb to wear a mask and she’s screeching like a bad wheel bearing, so he pops her, too. Bad news. Now the whole neighborhood is up in arms and they’re looking to me to do something about this shit. Not the cops. Me. Cause I’m the one they’re payin’ protection to. Makes my goddamn head hurt.

Second screw up, the dumbass uses his own car. And he can’t drive a Ford Fusion or a Chevy Cavalier. Naw, this mope hasta drive an Audi A4 that he damn sure can’t afford. A Ford or a Chevy, there’s a million of ‘em ta look at, but how many A4’s are zoomin’ around that part a town, especially drivin’ like a fuckin’ maniac. So, he gets nabbed about four blocks from the scene with the gun in the car. Gunshot residue, foreign guy’s blood spatter on him, the works. We hear about it, get our lawyer on it and the lawyer finally gets the idiot to shut the hell up and at the arraignment, he actually gets bail. First offense, ties to the community and all that. Now he’s out and we gotta do something about him, because if it goes to trial, we already know this guy’s gonna spill his guts. Not that he really knows that much, but we don’t want any undue attention. As soon as they mention the lethal injection, he’s gonna sing like a fuckin’ bird and there goes the ball game.

I think about this shit for a while, then I walk outta my office and out inta the club. It’s two in the afternoon and the place is dead as a shitbug. I see Big Paulie and Tony Gee sittin on their fat asses, drinkin’ coffee. So I walk over and sit with ‘em. I’ve already made up my mind I’m gonna handle this myself. Never ask any of yer people ta do anything you wouldn’t be willing ta do yourself, right?

I tell Paulie, “Hey, I gotta go see a guy in Kansas.”

Paulie’s eyebrows fly clear up inta where his hairline useta be. He says, “What da fuck’s in Kansas, Boss?”

“Nothin’,” I say, “that’s the point. An I wanna take that new guy, that Charlie guy with me. Get me some plane tickets ta Kansas City. I wanna fly out in the morning. Okay?”

Tony Gee is head-bobbin like a race horse at the gate and he says, “On it, Boss.” Doesn’t ask me shit. Just does what I ask, without any bullshit. Good, reliable help.

Fifteen minutes later he taps on my office door and sticks his head in. “Yer booked on American, first class, six forty-five in the mornin’, Boss. Flight 2284.” I smile at him and wave him out, then pick up my phone. I call this Charlie nitwit. He answers on the first ring. By now, even an idiot like him probably knows he screwed up, so he’s bein’ Johnny-on-the-spot.

“We gotta go ta Kansas City in the morning,” I tell him, “Pick me up at the house at five A.M.” He starts to ask some shit and I hang up. He doesn’t have enough balls to call me back. If he has questions, he can call somebody else.


Five in the morning, I look outside, and the mope is sittin’ in my driveway. Guy on the gate called the house at a quarter till and told me he was there. I let him wait. I give it another five minutes and walk out with my carry-on bag and wave him off as he starts ta jump out to get my door. “Let’s just go,” I tell him, “Goddamn TSA wants ya at the gate two hours early. What bullshit. I look like a fuckin middle-eastern terrorist?”

“No, Boss.” He pulls outta the drive and cobs it and I tell him, “Hey, Charlie, cool yer jets. Let’s not get pulled over or some shit. That would just make us later.”

We put the car in long-term and I see we’re gonna make the flight with no sweat. Before we leave the car, I ask him if he’s strapped. He pulls a little Taurus revolver from an ankle holster. So, he actually has learned something. I tell him, “Lock it in the trunk. Otherwise we gotta declare it and they will run a check on it.”

“Good idea, Boss.” Yeah, no shit Charlie, like I been doin’ this shit a long fuckin time and never been to prison. Not planning on it now, either. Not over your worthless, skinny ass.

On the plane, they keep bringin’ booze and snacks and Charlie’s suckin’ it up and actin like a movie star, flirtin’ with the flight attendants and all that shit. Actin’ like he doesn’t have a dumpy little German wife at home. I know when this is all over, I’ll hafta console the grieving Frau and keep her quiet. My guys tell me she’s tired of his ass, too. I figure a hundred grand and a plane ticket back to the Fatherland should do the trick. They got no little kinder, so that’s a blessing.

By the time we land in Kansas City, he’s about half bombed, not quite staggering, but close. He’s really intrigued when a car meets us and takes us to a private air service on the other side of the airport.


And that’s why we’re in a helicopter, cruising over the Kansas countryside at two thousand feet. The chopper is leased to a Medevac outfit outta Kansas City and we’re on a ‘test flight’. The pilot is my nephew. He flew for the Army and came home from Desert Storm with his own set of problems. Keeping his mouth shut is not one of those problems, though. Dickie is a good kid.

Charlie The Idiot is strapped into the patient cot and we’ve chloroformed his ass. He’s in happy land and we’re lookin’ for a likely spot to put this moron. Lotsa empty space out here. It’s called the Flint Hills and it’s land that was open prairie for thousands of years, Indian tribal hunting grounds, and not much good for farming. Sink a plow into the topsoil here and you’ll just break it on rock. It’s good for grazing cattle, though, and it’s the perfect time of year, too. The ranchers burn the grass off every year. Kills a lotta insects and scrub cedar trees and shit like that. The ashes are good for the soil and the fresh grass comes up tender and green. Fattens the cattle and makes them better for McDonald’s or whoever.

On the horizon to our left, we see smoke and lots of it. Dickie banks the helicopter that way and I get Charlie unstrapped. We watch the fire front and I know Dickie is watching the wind, too. There are bound to be thermals above the fire front, rising air currents that might mess with the ‘copter and make it hard to control, plus the air above the fire will be oxygen-deprived and could cause an engine stall. Dickie puts us a mile ahead of the fire and I slide open the side door.

Dickie tilts the machine into a left bank, heels it over pretty hard, and it takes hardly any help at all to get Charlie out the door. We watch him all the way to the ground. There’s a puff of dust, almost like in a Road Runner cartoon and I slide the door shut. The damage from the impact, along with the burn-over of the fire will make an interesting case for whatever sheriff hasta handle that shit.

Most of the counties in Kansas don’t have much in the way of enforcement and no investigative people at all. If and when old Charlie is found, they’ll call in the KBI, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, to handle it. I know they’re spread pretty thin and it may take a long time to identify Charlie. Or it might never happen at all.

I originally had the idea that I’d take the dummy to a meat packing plant. There are several of those in western Kansas. Put him through the process and people would be eatin’ his dumb ass two days later and never know it, but then I figured, could be some of my good people chowin’ down at Burger King and get a Charlie burger with their fries, so I decided this was better.

The other down-side to that plan was that too many people would know about it. Out there in Dodge City and Garden City, they employ a lotta Vietnamese and Mexicans, and they don’t know about how things work. Somebody was bound to talk, right?

This way, there’s only me and Dickie. And Dickie’s family and he’s good, reliable help. Dickie talks to Kansas City Center and gets a vector and we head back. Gonna be in time for a late lunch…



Kenneth James Crist is Editor Emeritus of Black Petals Magazine and is on staff at Yellow Mama ezine. He has been a published writer since 1998, having had almost two hundred short stories and poems in venues ranging from Skin and Bones and The Edge-Tales of Suspense to Kudzu Monthly. He is particularly fond of supernatural biker stories. He reads everything he can get his hands on, not just in horror or sci-fi, but in mystery, hardboiled, biographies, westerns and adventure tales. He retired from the Wichita, Kansas police department in 1992 and from the security department at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita in 2016. Now 74, he is an avid motorcyclist and handgun shooter. He is active in the American Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard, helping to honor and look after our military. He is also a volunteer driver for the American Red Cross, Midway Kansas Chapter. He is the owner of Fossil Publications, a desktop publishing venture that seems incapable of making any money at all. On June the ninth, 2018, he did his first (and last) parachute jump and crossed that shit off his bucket list.

Kevin D. Duncan was born 1958 in Alton, Illinois where he still resides. He has degrees in Political Science, Classics, and Art & Design. He has been freelancing illustration and cartoons for over 25 years. He has done editorial cartoons and editorial illustration for local and regional newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous small press zines, e-zines, and he has illustrated a few books. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019