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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
Angel-Fiction by Gary Clifton
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
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Londyyn Thomas © 2019



By J. Brooke


SOME WHERE near mid-night, sleepy yawns, full moon, citrine moon beams mixing with her spinning Cadillac wheels. Satiated, exhausted, Mandal whips off the road, dust, parking lot awaiting her.

Hours out of Louisville, Christmas music was spilling out of her Caddy’s radio, putting Mandal’s mind to the joyous time of XMAS. Pulling into a war surplus store, she decided to do some Xmas shopping. She had bought three boxes of blue silicone-tipped hollow points for her .44 Magnum, which cops called "First kill" bullets, meaning no vest could stop them. Along with those, she bought a new Velcro light weight shoulder holster, four gallon cans of BULLS EYE, a substitute for gun powder, you know so the local possum hunters could reload their own cartridges as they hunted the varmints. Manic, in the XMAS spirit, she bought a Mossburg 16 Gauge shotgun and a hacksaw. Finding a dark alley, she had sawed the barrel off, loaded her XMAS present up with red cartridge caps, shoved it under the front seat. Finished XMAS shopping, she continued on, back roads, in her great escape.

Hours later, sleep deprived, she pulled into an alley and parked.

Better than nothing, she thinks.

Caddy motor chills, turned key, motor conks out, green neon, always neon from the motel's sign throbbing, on, off, on, off on her face like a skin eating virus.

So far so good. Old Caddy holding up.

Still almost a Mil in the back seat, her alimony after ripping off Tony (The Fat Man) Uruguay in Jersey, her ex-boyfriend/slave.

She had been his fuck doll, so be it.

Probably a bad idea, the in your face convertible Caddy and the fact she was so fucking blond gorgeous, well folks never forget a doll like her. It’s like she’s leaving flares behind her, you know like one of those wicked F-16 jets they use in Afghanistan, throwing off flares to detour Taliban shoulder-held rockets as the pilot zeros in with a laser guided rocket, interrupting a wedding ceremony of some tribal chief’s daughter and his closest fifty friends, turning the entire tribe into deep fried pretzels.

Great decision making wasn’t her strong point. But what the fuck, she had made it this far, like what could possibly go wrong.


Maybe Bobby Ugo the vicious number one psycho killer of Fat Tony’s Crew, not to mention his behemoth enforcer, the six-foot-seven three- hundred and fifty-pound helper Dim Dim, with the valise that carried a blow torch, bolt cutters, hack saws, pliers and other nifty stuff that Bobby wanted more than anything to use on Mandal. Bobby so wanted to see what kinda smart crap would come out of the blond whore’s yap, once he cut the tongue out of her mouth.

Never crossed her mind, so she took a deep breath, perused the graveyard parking lot.

Few cars in the motel parking slots, big rig out of Nogales City, too. Telling her desperation comes in every make of car along off -of an American dream and highways filled with life’s pot holes.

It is cold, leather bomber pressed against her long neck, cigarette dangling from her puissant lips, sand stars grinding in her eyes, quiet, a breeze rolling in off the swamps, maybe a river, she figures.

Shoulder holster on now, a gift from a War Surplus store, .44 jigged in deep, feels good, eight inch knife in her new steel-toed work boot, right next to her walk-around .38.

She is ready for war.

Voices, laughter, dull music on the wind, beaten down roadside house bar, social center for the locals stuck across the street, there’s that neon again. Orange, like fireflies, saying: JOKESTERS BAR, pimping out cold beer, shots, good food within, maybe a line-dance too.

Several pick-up trucks, gun racks, older Detroit cars, a jeep and some big rigs idling diesel, nothing flash. These are poor, hard, country folks, doing the best they can.

In the shadows she plucks out an image of something interesting. An Old Coup De Ville, looking like her baby’s twin, maybe a ‘74, ’75, her best guess. Rag top, faded blue, not green, but damn close. She's sitting all alone off to the side, busted up shed light bulb hanging like a hangman’s noose on a copper wire overhead.

Thinking, always the wrong thing to do, she grabs a ciggie, kick starts it to life, feels the warmth on her face from the flame. “CLICK,” the Zippo goes-dead, an idea is exhumed from the coffin in her brain.

Slink thief over, Slim Jim the locks, riffle the glove, get the registration, swap plates, skedaddle back, be a couple of hundred klicks down the road before anyone noticed the switcheroo, if they caught it at all.

Most likely she'd be in Vegas, jaw crushers eating her doll, recast into a can of dog food before anybody got wise.

Good idea, bad idea, her mind again, let’s do it.

She'd have to scoot, suck it up and drive all night, just in case. Manic is good when on the grift. Better denying a little sleep then looking up the wrong way from the bottom of some Jersey pier, a motor crank case chained to a gal’s pretty feet.

Liking the plan, a lot, she finishes her smoke, lets it slip down the door. It sparks to the asphalt. Madness and mania cozies in her blue eyes.

She giggles, thinking about Daphnia Water Fleas, out of The Science Journal, one of her fav mags.

The little bastards grew defensive, razor sharp spines through evolution, protection from predators.

If the little evolutionary cunts could do, it why not her?

More giggles, where do those thoughts come from, the shit even blows her mind as she feels her own spine grow some tines.

She twists the key, likes the sound of the engine, slots drive and moves slow and shadowy to the street ramp, looks left, right, and cruises across the road. She parks kitty corner in the dark just some meters from the other Cadillac.

Shuts her down, she sits and absorbs it all.

Piece a cake. She thinks

Some hillbilly music, laments, lost chances of love, jilted at the altar, sounds like Reba pukes out of the bar. Cow girl Mandal, flips thoughts, maybe mosey, likes that word now, kick it, maybe line dance with some country thug, have a rattle after in the motels bed and hit the road solid in the morning.

Common sense, reaps in, blink, blink, blink in her eyes. She moans, brain making all the wrong decisions. Petty theft is silly serious stuff, burglary an edgy gig, bad idea dancing in some Tennessee gin joint; very bad idea.

She gasps, sees a sign on the plates that says: TENNESSEE. How did she miss that? Fuck, she's spun some serious miles since Goines. Gotta pay attention, buck it up or some serious shit could fall on top of her blond head.
Scrounging through her girl/thief bag she had scored at a Kentucky County Store, she pushes aside a couple of specially cut eight inch tubes of lead pipe. Pipe bombs later, cool stuff, a girl never knew when she would need them.

Popular Mechanics is also one of her fav mags. Boxes of ammo, a carton of Marlboro's, a quart of Wild Turkey, a pint of Tequila, a switch blade, purple plastic handle reading: Kentucky, Home of Abe Lincoln on it. Wincing, she giggles. "My God, you are a fucking twisted piece of work."

She keeps looking for the stuff she will need for her little cat burglar grift.

Time to move, time to groove and a small pack stuffed with gear, long legs over the door, steel toed boots now planted on the asphalt. She turns and begins to move. To the back of her boat, Phillips Head, unscrews the license plate, same for the front, things are going swimmingly.

.38 in her boot, shoulder holster and .44 back in the doll, sleek, fast is better.

Phillips Head screwdriver, Slim Jim reopener jimmy in her boot too.

Winching in the yips, she wades up to the rear end of the Cadillac, looks around. Like the shadows, she blends into them. Seems zilch, she bends to a black jean knee and begins.

Quickly she unscrews the plate, replaces it with her own, revolves the screw nice, tight and repeats it with the front plate, screws snug she sneaks back to her car.

Déjà-vu all over again.

She replaces plates, leans against the Caddy, nothing. She’s always been a screw-head, messing with Tony's electricity, revamping CD players, fixing toasters, reprogramming TV's, Black Berry Queen of a fixer do-it-yourself world. Anything with motors, gadgets, many hobbies for this gal; the geeks at Home Depot adored her.

Balled fists, nailed to her small hips, accomplishment washing over her, she exhales, whispers. "One thing at a time."

Over the next few minutes she finishes the plate switcheroo, feels good about it.

The time is now. She slithers back over to the De Ville, peeks around, nothing still, music, some drunken guy retches out of the bar, bends, pukes his guts out on the parking lot asphalt. Seems he’s okay, back inside he goes. One more shot, one more shooter away from really feeling good, until the DT's slam his face in the morning. Mandal smiles, she has been there before.
Slim Jim slips down her sleeve, in the slot, a jerk and old cars are cool, easy to steal, back to work, girl thief work.

“POP”, too easy, door button pressed with a gloved finger, opens, interior light, “SMACK,” slim Jim shatters the bulb, darkness, full girl/burglar mode, pen light in her teeth. She slides in the passenger seat with a penlight in her full lips. She misses her Home Depot leather, low on the hips, gunfighter tool belt.

In a hurry now, V of a beam illuminating the glove, papers, a mess, mouth tobacco, Copenhagen, condoms, hunting knife, she steals that too; pack of Marlboros, she pockets them. There it is, the registration and even the guy’s pink slip. Gomer Henry, it reads.

She chuckles in disbelief, folds it, pockets it in her bomber jacket, snaps the glove shut, couldn't be happier. Another perfect crime, except there never is a perfect fucking crime.

"You rippin' me off, darlin?"

Southern accent, thick tongue, boozed up, a meat paw on her upper arm.

"OW." She yips.

He jerks her off her feet. She is violently twisted around as he slams her against the chassis of the Cadillac.

Ball cap on, face in the shadows, hard to make her MO, yet, still impossible not to see she is a slink dish, sexy is written all over her. Even a fat drunk can see that. Big man, fat man, long hair, straggling chin beard, blood coated eyes, weaving, pinchers on her arm. Her legs are spread open, steel toed boots planted on the asphalt, she's calm, excited, no fear; adrenalin orbiting around her cerebellum.

Eyes, defiant, fucking alive, eye blisters, waiting to be popped, she's manic and maybe some pain, his, hers, no matter. She was born for moments like these.

Limited brain matter, no gal looks at him like this cunt is. He reaches out, backhands her across the face. White dots of light, her face stings, very nice, whips back, blood on her lips, tongue tasting it; just an encore of things to come.

Wild, crazy in her eyes, now he sees she’s a beauty contest winner and he wants to rape her on the spot. He mumbles some kinda nonsense like, "You a pretty dolly, ain't ya, gonna teach ya now somethin' now…"

The old perv drunk wheezed.

He moves in, she grins, blood teeth, red lava on her brain.

"Do I know you, dolly?" He slangs back at her.

She grins, smiles and says. "You do now, darlin!"

"PARUMPH" a knee jerk in the balls.

"OH FUCK" he groans.

Solid caught knee cap in the balls. He slumps, Mandal nudges in, twists him, big belly man, lots a girth and racks him against the iron body of the Cadillac. In his face, she gets real near, rips his head back by his long hair and then bends. With her .38 she pistol-whips his face and then plunges the tip of her .38 past 3 broken and bloody teeth. He groans, eyes the size of the flopping tip of his dick, as she seethes.

"I like foreplay big fella, in a bit of a hurry though. Real slow now Gomer, your keys. Fuck up and I'll air you out."

"CLICK" hammer back echoes through the night.

Thumb on the hammer, big boy’s eyes doing the Mambo, dolls face, finger on the trigger, firing pin, baby face, bad intent in her polar ice blue oh so cold eyes.

"To the back, now Gomer."

She likes saying his name, she's a twist.

"Keys, now fuck-wad."

“Gobbley-gobbley” gook answer.

Thrombosis fingers dig in old Levi's. Real slow, southern like, he lifts them, dangle, dangle, cranked up eyes, watching the angel of death’s gloved finger pressing again the trigger mechanism.

"Go on, before I put a bullet into your fat head."

Nods, turns, her fingers ripping his pony tail, snout nose .38 pressed into the back of his head.

The journey from St. Anne’s in Montreal to Las Vegas continues.

At the trunk, key in the slot as the trunk rises like Lazarus from the tomb.

"Get in."


She cracks his skull with the teak handle of her Saturday Night Special even though it is Friday night.

He whoops, groans, his belly and face slap, crash against the carcass of his Cadillac. In sections he falls into the trunk. Leaning in, she “WHACK, WHACK, WHACKS” him.

Completely crazed, smelling blood, out of control like one of those big fucker Mako Sharks trolling for Tuna over there near the Island of Cozumel.
Up go his legs, flop, inside the trunk, she hyper-ventilating, lifts the .38, aims it at him. Jaw clenches, saliva and blood dripping down her chin, eyes stark raving mad, finger on the trigger. She wants to do it, really wants it, but then “CLICK.”

A thought wedges in. She shakes her head, blinks, rattles her brain again, remembers and tries to recall.

Murder, was that also on the menu in those past days?

Maybe so, the fat fuck is innocent. Nobody is fucking innocent, but maybe.
God forgives, so she can too.

Lowering the .38, her entire body shakes, time to jet, get it on. She slams the trunk, jilts her head, falls to her knees. Both hands wrapped around the .38, she shoves it in her mouth, detests herself, loves herself, presses on the trigger, love conquers all, not here, not now. She does not blow the back of her throat out.

Frankly said, she loves it all and doesn’t want to miss any future curtain calls.

Standing again, like nothing has gone down as she smiles, feeling it, feeling nice. Multiple personalities can be a hoot.

She skips back to the Deville, hops into the seat, slips down, fires her up, drive gear, cruises out of the parking lot as happy as she has ever been. In her mind there is no reason in the world that anyone could put together what she had just done or why she did it.

When a cell replicates, the DNA does not change, but merges within a blood world, hemoglobins saturate with memories of life, mixing, evolving and changing the makeup of a micro-biotic universe and a structure of a creation in the womb.

This is the remarkable process she is consumed in, if only Darwin was correct. If given time, as the dolphins’ skulls did, greater brain power through time, 50 million years of change, yet she has perhaps days to see the miracle of life; her life appear. Perhaps time is her friend or an executioner that will cheat her of this miracle, fate knows, but she is silent.

In a matter of moments, she is again cruising into the unknown, a girl, a Cadillac, a .44 Python strapped to her breasts, a ferocious succubus, hand gun, knives, lead pipe bombs are her guiding light into the unknown.

Next stop, well baby, paradise, or New Orleans, a humid, sweating hell-hole of a roll of the cubes or a desert hole, with dirt shoved in her mouth.

Baby is moving now, moving through evolution to her destiny.

J brooke is a writer with over 100 credits, and never lists them. It’s simple for j, for it’s never what you have already written, but what you are going to write next. Contact info: jbrooke2001@yahoo.com

Londyyn Thomas resolutely eschews any mythologizing of an artist and so avoids discussing personal life and relations.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2019