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The Fog-Fiction by Kevin Eade
Claire's Close Call-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Fools for Love-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Texas Redux-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Bridge Game-Fiction by DV Bennett
Transitory Unease-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Howie's Cell-Fiction by Chris McCartney
The Hit Woman's Hand Book-Fiction by J. Brooke
Stones Girl-Fiction by Don Stoll
One Day in the Suburbs-Fiction by Mitchel Montagna
The Bloody Whorehouse Detective Agency-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Happenstance-Fiction by Michael Stewart
You Were Supposed to Be-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
The Last Time I Almost Used-Flash Fiction by Jennifer Carr
Swimmer-Flash Fiction by Mark Cotton
Wordsmith-Poem by Meg Baird
Hey, Aunt Libby-Poem by Alex Salinas
Three Colors-Poem by Melissa Dobson
The Ladderites-Poem by David Spicer
My Kind-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Night Colors-Poem by Luis Berriozabal
Doc's Death-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Gopher-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
A Hot Summer Night After Wine-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Conception-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Married Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Sea World-Poem by Robert Halleck
Early Morning at a Friend's House in 1972-Poem by Robert Halleck
Pelican Bay-Poem by Robert Halleck
Right Through the Heart-Poem by David Boski
Sky Burials-Poem by David Boski
Third Time's a Charm-Poem by David Boski
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 Cindy Rosmus 2019



by Mark Cotton



Jimmy wasn’t anything more than a neighborhood wannabe hustler, but he understood the concept of dressing for success. The combination of his heavily-gelled pompadour and the gold sharkskin jacket that he always wore made him look more like a third-class Elvis imitator than a made guy. And, when he opened his mouth, you had no doubt about his status at the lower end of the food chain.


“Homes, I’m telling you this score will be big enough that you can quit that job at Muffler King for good.”


I didn't break it to him that the rest of us on Delaney Street had stopped calling each other “Homes” in about 1992. He was hard-selling me this crazy suicide mission to rip off one of Valentino Fiorentina’s corner guys, which was the most absolutely batshit idea I had ever heard of. We were hanging out on the stoop and there was that freedom of speech thing, so I let Jimmy run with it while I watched the steady parade of whores and johns in and out of the building across the street. Some of those younger girls hadn’t acquired that rock-hard exterior shell yet. But, they were working on it.


I drained the last of my forty and needed to take a piss, so I thought it was a good time to head to my building around the corner.


“Think about what I said,” Jimmy told me as I stood up. “I’ll text you with a meeting time tomorrow afternoon.”


“Sure thing. See ya, Jimmy.”


And, I might have even considered Jimmy’s proposal, if it hadn’t been for the furniture truck. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I never made it home that night. I remember lying in the middle of Brooks Boulevard with more pain than I thought was possible coming from my legs before things went dark.


That’s the reason I was sitting outside my building in a wheelchair a week later, with my lower half completely encased in plaster, when people starting coming outside and hauling ass down toward the docks at the end of Brooks. I watched them for a few seconds before starting to roll myself in that direction.


There was a solid line of people leaning against the railing along the wharf, looking down at the water. I rolled up as close as I could, trying to butt in enough to see what was going on.


“Some swimmer probably got caught in a riptide,” somebody said.


Finally, the gawkers in front of me moved, and I rolled up to the railing. There were a couple of harbor patrol boats, and two scuba divers in the water were trying to wrestle a bloated corpse onto a red plastic stretcher.


Even from that far away, it was easy to see it wasn’t any swimmer. Not unless they shopped at the same thrift store that Jimmy did.




Mark Cotton is the author of Two Bits Four Bits and Twice the Heist. He lives in central Missouri with his wife and two cats.

Cindy Rosmus is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife & talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants She’s been published in the usual places, such as Shotgun Honey, Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Megazine, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter, Mysterical-E, and Twisted Sister. She is the editor/art director of the ezine, Yellow Mama. She’s a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights activist. She has recently been branching out into photo illustration, under the guidance and mentoring of Ann Marie Rhiel.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019