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The Hunter-Fiction by Sebnem Sanders
Back in the Day-Fiction by A. F. Knott
Red Velvet, White Lies-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Headhunters-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Holiday Season-Fiction by Don Stoll
Milky Way Galaxy. Solar System. Earth.-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
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Backpage Baby-Fiction by Robb White
Elegant on the Outside-Fiction by Bruce Costello
A Life Examined-Fiction by Doug Hawley
Run, Baby, Run-Fiction by J. Brooke
The Pursuit of Presley Penguin-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Neighbors-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Strange Attractors-Fiction by Jeff Houlahan
The Ghost of Christmas Never-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Best Enemies Forever-Flash Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Glitter in the Dark-Flash Fiction by Dini Armstrong
Spirit Intoxicating Babe in the Woods-Flash Fiction by Monique Saier
My Only Christmas Story-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Ode to Old Brooklyn-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Bacardi Taillights Machine Gun Farewell-Poem by John Short
Pearl Diver-Poem by Wayne F. Burke
Abandoned Sofas-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Kafka Museum-Poem by Henry Bladon
Elegy for Frank-Poem by David Spicer
Schmoozy-Woozy-Poem by David Spicer
Dangerous-Poem by Marc Carver
Eternal-Poem by Marc Carver
The Race has Just Begun-Poem by J.J.Campbell
The Endless Nightmare-Poem by J. J. Campbell
The Last Word-Poem by Meg Baird
Vision of Steel-Poem by Meg Baird
Zen-Poem by Meg Baird
Estrangement-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
First World Herd-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Christmas Morning in an East Hollywood Hovel-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
A Season of Bailing Wire and Duct Tape-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

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Art by A. F. Knott 2019

Back in the Day

 

By A. F. Knott

 

Bette held the half carton of eggs in her right hand after closing the refrigerator door and pushed her oxygen tank with the left. Halfway across the kitchen, the plastic tubing snagged Tinker Bell, jerking her off the treasure table and snapping her wand in two when she landed on the floor. Dan had bought Tink on their trip to Pennsie twenty years back. Out of the blue he had pulled the Olds over, said, ‘Bette, stay here,’ went inside the store and came out five minutes later with the box. He had gotten himself a pint of Popov as well, but when Bette opened the box, there she was, Tinker Bell.

Bette knew if she still had her old four-wheeler, she would have swung wide of the treasure table. They sent her a two-wheeler this time, too big for their kitchen. She looked at Dan’s newspapers piled so high there was hardly room to move. Bette told him, and more than once, to say "four-wheeler" when he called the company. She figured he must not have been listening when she saw the two- wheeler. Bette had been wanting to turn her oxygen tank off anyway and shove the whole kit and kaboodle into the corner. Last week, the doctor told her she couldn’t do that. He also told her she couldn’t turn it up or she’d stop breathing, that either way she'd stop breathing. That’s what happens with emphysema, he told her, too much oxygen and you stop breathing.

“I did not know that,” Bette said.

She looked at Tinker Bell’s cracked wand and didn’t know what to do. She put the eggs down, picked up Tink’s pieces and set them on the old wooden table. She looked at the broken wand for a while then turned and pushed her tank over to the stove and fixed Dan’s eggs. She only made him the half dozen, but made them the way he liked, sunny side up, the way she’d be making them for the last fifty years. Bette knew he’d be weak as a kitten after rehab or she would have brought out a full carton.

When Dan walked through the door, he spotted the eggs, and the first thing he said, even before a hello, was: “You know what I like, Bette.”

She examined him.

“Where’s your bag, Dan?”

“What, I’m already being interrogated here? I just walked through the door.”

Bette nudged the plate of eggs across the table toward his chair and pulled her chest way up to speak.

“I know what you like, Dan,” Bette said, exhaling slowly.

“You had better know what I like, Bette.”

“I knew you’d be weak as a kitten, Dan, so I only made you a half dozen. And four slices of toast, buttered both sides, the way you like it.”

“A half dozen is nothing. Back in the day there’d be three, four, five egg cartons in the ice box, Bette."

“I know, Dan. I was the one who put them there.”

“Half dozen is child’s play. How many times have you seen me eat two dozen?”

"Oh, I’ve seen you eat two dozen plenty of times, Dan."

Bette’s laugh sounded like an old lawnmower. When she started coughing, her cough sounded like someone shaking a coffee can filled with rusty nuts and bolts.

Dan pointed at the eggs.

“That’s only a half dozen you got there, Bette. I step through the door and there’s already a problem. Is that what I get? And I don’t see something else. You know what that something else I don’t see, Bette?”

Bette gave her nasal prong a tug and didn’t answer. She pulled up her chest in order to take a breath.

“You need a hint? We used to sit at this very same table and smoke our Chesterfields. Incidentally, we can’t do that now because of that contraption of yours. But what else was always there on the table that’s not there now? My Popov is what’s not there. My Popov always stands right there by the soup tureen but for some reason it’s not standing there right now. The price is right, and it tastes great. Smirnoff is shit. I could make better in our bathtub upstairs."

Bette looked at Tinker Bell’s broken wand and smoothed the oxygen tubing behind each ear then cinched it tight under her chin. She reached down and turned her oxygen up, all the way up and felt the breeze inside her nose like the breeze off the ocean that time they stopped in Point Pleasant on the way down to Atlantic. Dan had taken her out on the boardwalk and bought her fresh squeezed orange juice. The breeze off the ocean hit her in the just right. That had been ten, fifteen years back at least.

“Your eggs are getting cold, Dan. You must be weak as a kitten.”

“I am weak as a kitten, you got that right.” Dan dropped into the chair. “That place was a fucking dump. Food was shit. I walked out the front door. I told them that, ‘Your food is shit,’ I said, and walked out their front door.”

Bette watched Dan take a bite of egg. She felt good now, tired, but good. The breeze, she wasn’t sure if there was a breeze coming through the window. She realized that couldn’t be. The window was closed. Dan had nailed it shut years ago. She wasn’t sure where the breeze was coming from but felt like closing her eyes.

“I’m going to close my eyes for a spell, Dan, while you eat your eggs.”

Dan stopped eating.

"You are calling these eggs? These aren’t eggs, Bette. These are shit."

Dan wiped the plate off the table. It smashed against the stove. The yolks slid down the white porcelain and looked like sad clown’s eyes for a second then like nothing. Bette opened her eyes for a moment and was about to say something but didn’t. Her head dropped first onto her chest, then bounced against the kitchen table.

“Oh, and now what, Bette?” Dan said. “You know you’re going to have to do those eggs over and this time the full dozen. That’s the way I like them.”

Dan looked at Bette, her head resting on the table. When he gave her a shove, Bette’s body toppled over onto the floor, dragging Tinker Bell and her broken Wand with it. Stacks of newspaper fell on both of them.

“Bette? For crying out loud, I step through the door and this what I get?”






A. F. Knott is a self-taught collage artist, writer and cofounder of Hekate Publishing, whose mission is to unite artists, writers and represent the under-represented. Sometimes sells collage in New York City's Union Square Park . Work can be found on flickr.com/photos/afknott/ among other places. Welcomes exchange of ideas: anthony_knott@hekatepublishing.com.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019