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Snowflakes-Fiction by Randy Numann
The Moveable Feast-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Baker Street Motel-Fiction by D. V. Bennett
Freddie's Back-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Gangsta Girl-Fiction by J. Brooke
The Black Beast of Fulham-Fiction by Alice Wickham
The Supermart...Special-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Star of Vengeance-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Watcher-Fiction by Jacqueline M. Moran
Royal Curse-Fiction by Donald D. Shore
Order Up. One Alibi to Go-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
The Man Under the Bed-Fiction by Sharon Frame Gay
Fly-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Spiral Face-Fiction by Willie Smith
Stegmann's Basement_Flash Fiction by Peter DiChellis
It's Just Me-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Kid's Games-Flash Fiction by Tim Frank
Converse Canvas Tennis Shoe Lying on the Road-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Solution #1-Poem by Abe Nore
boo!-Poem by Meg Baird
Childhood Effigies-Poem by Ron Torrence
Nocturne-Poem by Melissa Dobson
The Name-Poem by Melissa Dobson
Direction-Poem by Jonathan Butcher
The Escape-Poem by Jonathan Butcher
Rolly Pollies-Poem by Alex Salinas
Smoke Dream-Poem by Alex Salinas
Son of a Gun-Poem by Christopher Kenneth Hanson
Stand-Up-Poem by Christopher Kenneth Hanson
The Artificial Lighting-Poem by John D. Robinson
Free Doses-Poem by John D. Robinson
Here We Are, You & I-Poem by John D. Robinson
Wanderer-Poem by David Spicer
Raconteur-Poem by David Spicer
Desperado-Poem by David Spicer
Strange Days at Cafe Bizarro-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Night Revelations in Bizarro Country-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Room with a No-Exit Sign-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Nameless-Poem by John Grey
The Time of the Spider-Poem by John Grey
Good Luck to Whoever Finds My Body-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 Ann Marie Rhiel 2019



By M.A. De Neve




          My customers at Country Kitchen Cafe wear their business name on the backs of shirts and jackets. First names are embroidered above the pocket on the front of the shirt. I start learning about them as soon as I meet them. Joe from the heating and cooling company has three kids. He shows me their school pictures. Debbie is substitute teacher and Weight Watcher. Bill is a retired cop. Amy works at Subway. 

          Susie is a widow. She needs to get out more, do things and meet new people.  She tells me everywhere she goes, she’s reminded of her husband Denny. “We used to do so many things together.”

          “He wouldn’t want you sitting at home every night watching television,” I tell her.

          “There are just too many reminders everywhere,” she signs and looks into her coffee cup as if she can see her late husband in there.

          “You need to get far away. Go on an exotic vacation to Africa or China.”

          She laughs. “Don’t I wish I could afford it.”

          I’m the waitress. I like my customers; I talk to them, draw them out, find out as much as I can about what’s going on in their lives. We’re family. 

          One day this expensive woman came in.  I don’t know much about purse and shoe designers, but I know quality and this woman was wearing expensive everything. Her nails were a pale pink, but perfectly shaped; her hair was an auburn halo. She must go to those salons that charge hundreds of dollars for haircuts.

          “Someone must have struck the lottery,” Barb, the other waitress whispered.

          I nodded. We have a few professional women customers. They rely on easier styles, and wear comfortable clothes.  Unless they work in sales, they don’t walk around on five-inch heels all day.  Betty, the sales lady, takes off her heels and wears sneakers in here. Maybe this woman didn’t win the lottery, but she’d either been born into great wealth or she married money.  I decided she must be married to a king or something.

          This is a working-class cafe. The lady stood out. But why was she here? 

          She ignored Barb whose turn it was to take a customer; she used her index finger to summon me to her table. I hate it when people do that. She ordered coffee and then after I brought it to her table, she told me to sit down.

          What am I? A dog? I figured I’d get a good tip, so I sat down opposite her.

          She asked me questions about me. How long had I worked there?  Did I like waitressing? Did I have a family living close by? Did I have a roommate? Strange. Few customers are interested in the waitress. Usually they don’t even want to know my name unless they want to complain.

          But she got my name, age and educational background, all before she took a sip of the coffee. I was surprised she didn’t ask for my Social Security numbers.

          “Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked.

          It was time to turn the conversation. “You know somebody?”

          “I know lots of people. I’m looking to hire a smart girl.  Someone like you to come work for me.”

          “To do what?”

          “Travel. Make some money.”

          “I’ll need more of a job description?”

          She handed me a business card, the fancy kind in two bold colors orange and black - and with raised letters. “I want you to be there tomorrow. What time do you get off work here?”

          “I need to know a little more before I make appointments.  Just what are you inviting me into here?”

          “I can use you.”

          “I don’t doubt you can - use me.” People use each other all the time. It’s a fact of life.  “It says here you’re an entertainment specialist. What kind of entertainment? It isn’t what they call adult entertainment, is it? Kinky?”

          She laughed. “No, this is not so-called adult entertainment or anything so crass. I work with rock bands. Actors. Movie stars.”

          “And what would I be doing with all these rock bands and movie stars?”

          “You’d be making money.” she told me. She left a hundred-dollar bill on the table and left.  She hadn’t finished her coffee and the bill didn’t even come a whole five dollars. I paid for her coffee from my tips. I pocketed the hundred and the business card. Her name was Luella Janice Thurman. On my way home from work, I stopped at the library and looked her up.

Interesting.  No wonder she could afford such great-looking, expensive clothes. She might make a good employer. But why me?  I figured I’d play along for a while. What did I have to lose?


          I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to her office the next day.  She was just exiting the building when I arrived. “My car’s over here,” she said. “We have some appointments.”

          She walked toward a new black Mercedes. I stood on the sidewalk staring.

          “Mrs. Thurman…” I began

           “Oh get in.” she said. “We’ve got work to do. And call me Lou.”

          “What exactly do you want me to do?”

          “Get in the car, and I’ll tell you.”

          An hour later I still had no idea what she wanted me for, but I was having a great time. She drove me to a beauty parlor. A shampoo girl whose only job was to shampoo rich ladies’ hair massaged my scalp with something that smelled like apricots. Then I was getting a fresh color rinsed in my hair and a cut. I looked great when they were finished.  I looked as good as Mrs. Thurman - Lou.

          At the next stop I got a pedicure and a manicure.  This was decadent. Surely she wasn’t still tipping me for the coffee that she didn’t even drink.

          “Why are you doing this?” I asked Lou as she paid my bill and generously tipped the nail stylist.  I still hadn’t gotten any answers.  “Isn’t it obvious? You need the right look if you are going to work for me.”

          She drove me a cosmetic shop and bought me new makeup. “Honestly, what is this about?” I asked.

          “We’ll go to my apartment next. You can wear my clothes.”

          “I can? Why? For what?”

          When we got to her apartment, she threw open the doors to a long walk in closet. You’re going on a Caribbean Cruise.”

          “I am?”

          “Pick out what you want to bring with you.”

          “I need to know more about what I’m getting into,” I said. “What is this about?”

          “We’re about the same height and very close in weight. Now our hair is almost exactly the same color and it has the same cut. You could pass for me.” She explained.

          “Why would I want to?”

          “Famous people have doubles.” she said. “You will be my double.”

          “Why do you need a double?”

          “All sorts of reasons. Are you in or not?”

          “I’m not an actress.”

          “You don’t need to be. People don’t scrutinize me that much. I’m wealthy and outside of my profession, I am not famous. Smile, be courteous and remember that you are me.”

          “That’s all I have to do is smile and be courteous?”


          I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on this cruise, but I picked out a few items from her wardrobe just for the fun of it. I could always give them back. Trying things on was fun. She handed me a package bulging with new bras, nylon stockings  and panties.  “These should fit,” she told me.

          “Victoria’s Secret?”

          “That bra,” she nodded toward my chest,  “doesn’t do much for you.”

          Darn, it was one of the more expensive bras at the dollar store, and I always thought I looked good in it.  (If you’ve never been to a dollar store, you might not know that some items cost more than a dollar.  I buy bras at Big Dollar on Maple and actually pay up to five dollars.  I’m a big spender.)

          She handed me a copy of her driver’s license, a copy of her passport, and a credit card. “There’s a thousand-dollar limit on it,” she explained. “Don’t overdo the shopping.”

          “I won’t need to buy anything.”

          “I want you to buy some things. The credit card receipts establish location.”

          Establish location?

          Here’s the deal she offered me. I was going on a Caribbean cruise, all expenses paid. I was to be seen only enough to establish my presence or rather her presence. I’d get five thousand dollars cash before I went and another five thousand when the job was done.

          “Don’t call attention to yourself,” she instructed.  “Just be there. Order room service and sign for it. Use my name. We’ll practice my signature, Wear sunglasses as much as you can when you are outdoors. Our eyes are different.”

          “Why am I doing this?”

          “That’s my business,” she told me.

          “It’s my business if… if…. You aren’t doing anything illegal are you?”

          “Of course not. All famous people have doubles.  It lets us go incognito sometimes. It’ll give me freedom.”

          I wanted to remind her that she wasn’t famous, but I decided to play along. I needed a vacation.  As far as staying in my room and doing little more than making my presence known with small purchases, I wasn’t going to do that.  She wanted me to establish location. That’s what I’d do.

          I bought a new iPhone with some of my advance money, not that I had anyone I wanted to call.  I was interested in its camera.

          I had a blast. I met the captain and as many other passengers as I could. I kept my real driver’s license and a credit card with my real name on it sewed inside one of my new bras.         

          Back home I unloaded my purchases in my real apartment. I barely got in the door and my phone was ringing. “Very good job,” Mrs. Thurman said. “You made enough purchases to establish my identity. Very good. I take it you kept a low profile.”

          “Absolutely.”  How did she define low profile? I hadn’t put a lamp on my head or danced naked on the tables. As far as I knew she had no reason to complain about my performance. I’d already returned the credit card and copies of the driver’s license and passport per her instructions.

          “You’ll find a money order for five thousand dollars cash in your mailbox,” she told me.  “I know I can count on your discretion.”

          “Of course,” I agreed. I didn’t add that my discretion depended on what she’d been up to while I was gone.

          When I went back to work at the restaurant, my customers asked how I’d liked visiting my family. I don’t have a family; I’m divorced and I haven’t seen my ex-husband in over five years; my parents were killed in an automobile accident when I was still a teenager. But a home visit had been my excuse for taking two weeks off.

          When I got my break, I found a discarded tabloid magazine someone had left behind. Johnny Mick the rock singer was dead, murdered, shot to death inside his apartment. I opened the magazine and started reading the details. He must have known his killer. He’d let someone inside the apartment. There were no signs of a struggle.

          After I finished reading the article, I folded the magazine and placed it under the counter. We had an unusually busy lunch rush that day, but Barb and I managed to get everyone served.

          When Bill, the retired cop, came in, I sat at the counter beside him. “I have a story to tell you,” I began. “I was involved in Johnny Mick’s murder.”

          “I assassinated JFK,” he said. “I stood at that window at the school book depository building and I …”

          “I’m serious,” I pulled out the tabloid magazine and pointed to the article on Johnny Mick. “His marriage was on the rocks. He was getting a divorce.”

          “You read this trash?”

          “It’s all true. His wife, Louella Thurman, would be a suspect, but she was on a Caribbean cruise.”

          “If she was on a cruise, she got an alibi. Of course, she could have hired the job out.”

          “She hired the job out, all right.  She hired me.” I took out my iPhone and showed him my pictures. “Here’s me putt-putting at a miniature golf course on the ship. Here’s me at Guy’s Burgers. Here’s me…” I showed him picture after picture. I showed him the picture of Johnny’s Mick’s wife in the tabloid. “She looks like me. Notice the manicure. I held my hands in front of him. “She paid for this.”

          “So what,” Bill said. “You look like Johnny Mick’s wife. Nice haircut, by the way. You went on a cruise the same time she did.”

          “It’s quite a coincidence, isn’t it? I wasn’t supposed to do anything in my own name, but I didn’t follow orders. I made credit card purchases, a dozen of them using my own card. It’s called ‘establishing location.’ ” I had transferred some of the cash she gave me into my account before I left.

          “It still don’t prove she wasn’t on the cruise with you.”

          “No, but someone else was on the cruise with me.”

          At that moment Susie came in. I’d called her and asked her to come to the restaurant.  I showed Bill my pictures again. Susie, the widow from a few blocks over, was there with me in several photos.

          Susie came over and sat with us. “We had such a good time.  She’s been after me to go out and have fun again. Thank you, for paying my way,” Susie smiled.

          Bill took us to the police station and we talked to detectives. Mrs. Thurman or should I say Mrs. Mick denied my charges, but I knew the captain’s name. She didn’t. She really should have researched better. I also had Susie my witness who’d been with me for the entire cruise. She had watched me sign Louella Thurman’s name to receipts for room service and for small purchases. Lou Thurman Mick hadn’t specified that I take no one with me. And I really did keep a low profile. I did the same things other cruisers did.

          Susie was grateful. She met a nice businessman on the trip and they’re engaged to be married now. He’s offered me a job working for his company. I’ll make over twice as much as I did as a waitress.

          I got to keep all the money and the clothes Mrs. Thurman gave me and all the purchases I’d made. I also got money from the tabloids for telling my story.

           Crime does pay.  At least it did for me and Susie.


M. A. De Neve holds a master’s degree in English and taught college-level writing for over twenty years. M. A. wrote two novels, both available on Amazon, and has published articles in many newspapers and magazines, including Over My Dead Body and Mysterical-E.  M. A. volunteers with an animal rescue group in Michigan. 

Ann Marie Rhiel is the Assistant Art Director for Yellow Mama Webzine. She was born and raised in Bronx, New York, presently living in New Jersey. She reconnected with her passion for art in 2016 and has had her work exhibited in art galleries around northern New Jersey ever since. She is a commissioned painting artist, who also enjoys photography. Her work has also appeared in Black Petals and Megazine Official.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019