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Dick and Jane, Together Again-Fiction by Marcy Dilworth
Lay Down Sally-Fiction by Jack Coey
Cleaning Up After the Narc-Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Faith-Fiction by Don Stoll
Cigarettes-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Blood Will Bloom Like a Watercolor Flower-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Toast, Jell-o, Tea-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The PLacebo Effect-Fiction by Paul Smith
Aftermath-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Just Like Fish-Fiction by Paul Lubaczewski
Waterworks-Fiction by Sue Cmileski
Saith Me-Fiction by Robert Ragan
The Return of the Ladykiller-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Fire Man-Fiction by Terry Butler
Lost in Greenwich Village-Fiction by Dr. Mel Waldman
Never, Ever Bring This Up Again-Flash Fiction by Ralph Benton
Hip-Hop Baby-Flash Fiction byJ. Brooke
Idylls of the Queen-Flash Fiction by Dini Armstrong
Looking Cold-Flash Fiction by Stanton McCaffrey
Camera_Flash Fiction by Leyla Guirand
Ashes and Dust-Flash Fiction by Janet Hartwell
Family Man-Poem by Ann Marie Rhiel
Heads-Poem by John Grey
The Architect-Poem by Marc Carver
economy class-Poem by Meg Baird
She Knows-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Rain-Poem by Maddisyn Condora
Counter-Intuitive-Poem by Henry Bladon
An Eerie Journey Down the Invisible Staircase-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
A Sonnet for Elvira-Poem by Juan Perez
Unforeseen Endings-Poem by Michael Keshigian
When Her Kisses-Poem by Richard M. Prazych
In Your White Cadillac-Poem by Richard M. Prazych
Love in the Time of Wolves-Poem by Jennifer Lemming
I Do-Poem by Jennifer Lemming
a bite better-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
hot afternoon-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
registry-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Dirty Pink Lipstick-Poem by Ian Mullins
Wrestlin' Gal-Poem by Ian Mullins
Between Takes-Poem by Ian Mullins
Banjo Bob and Cassy-Poem by David Spicer
Neurotic-Poem by David Spicer
I Imagine It's Goodbye-Poem by David Spicer
A Date with Destiny-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Under Moonlight-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
2020 (The Heart and the Thorn)-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
She Loves You-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
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 Hillary Lyon © 2020

Blood Will Bloom Like a Watercolor Flower


Hillary Lyon




My girlfriend always wears red because, get this, she says it is the color of extreme artistic passion and sensual power, and besides, it hides the blood. I keep telling her, forget all that other nonsense, if you really want to hide the blood, you have to wear black. All black, head to toe. But she loves the garish color, says it brings out her true self, or something. She’s a drama queen, so I don’t argue.

We met in a watercolor class at the local community center, of all places. The class was listed in the spring catalog under Self-Improvement & Continuing Education. Forty dollars for a four-week course, not including the cost of supplies. Though the class was only about half full, she sat next to me each week and made snarky comments under her breath about the assignments. I couldn’t help but snicker, because the assignments were lame, and her sense of humor was wicked. I enrolled in the class for a little me-time and socialization, she enrolled because her therapist recommended it. She’s not crazy, she’s just a little tightly wound, as my grandma would’ve said. Girlfriend just needed something calming to do, something to help her get centered. Like we all do, at one time or another. Don’t you judge her.

Anyway, we became friends—fast. Had lots in common. I love old Tarantino flicks, so does she. I love spicy food like jerk chicken and jalapeno poppers, so does she. I love refurbishing old furniture I find at yard sales, so does she. Well, she likes to go yard-sale-ing with me, and likes to hang out while I work. I love the music of Shawn Colvin and Puddles Pity Party and Journey, and she’s an absolute fan-girl, as well. I get a kick out of spit-balling various ways to kill my husband, and she does too.

Now, because I refer to her as Girlfriend, doesn’t mean we’re lovers, so get your mind out of the gutter, you swine. We’re just really close, that’s all. Twin-sister close. Sometimes, she finishes my sentences, helps me find the right word when I have a brain freeze. I mean, I swear, it’s like she can read my mind. So that’s how I knew it would be totally cool to toss out ideas in regards to offing my lying, no-good husband. I brought the idea of his death up as a kind-of joke—like, ha ha, what if his plane crashed on the way back from that conference in Chicago—and she read between the lines, right away. She laughed, but I could see in her eyes, she took me seriously. Girlfriend argued that innocent people need not die just to get rid of one sorry bastard.

We were in the backyard. I was sanding down an old end table, sweating and headache-y from the south Louisiana heat and humidity. Couldn’t work in the cool shade of the carport, since that’s where husband parked his precious Mercedes, and he didn’t want any saw-dust or paint-splatters or grungy tools to contaminate the aura of his parking space. I drove a “gently-used” Cherokee, because that’s a much more practical vehicle. I parked on the street. Anyway, that afternoon Girlfriend sat on the ground behind me, whisper-singing “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” She’s better than a radio, really. Always seems to know just exactly what type of music I’m in the mood for, and hums or sings softly to me. At this particular time, I was not paying much attention to her music—which was rude of me, I know, but I was on a rant about my worthless husband.

Always calls me toward the end of the work day, I tell her. After I’ve already got dinner under way. Says he’s got to go on a business dinner, can’t be helped, and he’ll call me when he starts home. Sounds thoughtful, right? Except when he phones later, the caller i.d. never fails to read something like “Teasers Gentlemen’s Club” or “Bushwhackers” or “Blue Moon Motel.” See, he has to use the phones at those places because he always “forgets” his cell phone. Leaves it on the dresser so I can’t call him at the office or wherever and bother him. The secretaries already know to tell me he’s in a meeting when I call—whether he is or not. Another fun fact: It’s not unusual for him to leave his wedding ring out on the dresser, too, in full view. Of course, he always has to “work” on weekends, as well. Ironically, he’s the one who suggested I take a class, or something—anything to fill my time and make friends. To get me out of his thinning hair.

You’d think, with all his hard work, we’d be rolling in dough. If that’s the case, why do I have to clip coupons and buy everything at discount outlets and yard sales? Because, he told me on his third tumbler of imported scotch one night when he was actually home for dinner, he works hard to earn money, so it’s his. I can get a job or whatever, if I want my own money. What a sweetheart, right? Don’t think he understands how marriage works. I stay home and take care of the house, do laundry, pay the bills, fix the meals, and all that jazz, but he doesn’t see that as work. I am convinced that he thinks I’m his mother. Not his housekeeper, though, because then he’d have to pay me.

All this time while I’m venting, Girlfriend listens thoughtfully, tilting her head this way and that. Like a good dog trying to decipher her master’s mood and message. And when I finally say, most days I’d like to kill him to get free of this living-death-marriage, she says, well, why not? You could divorce him, she says, but where’s the fun in that? Plus, she points out that if I’m a widow, then everybody will be kind to me and bring me casseroles and run errands for me. Everyone worries and cares, at least for a while. But if I divorce him, well—who gives a damn about divorcees? They’re so common these days. I had to agree. Girlfriend did make some good points.

So, we start coming up with murder plans, just for fun. It was like a game, you know, to pass the time on a lazy afternoon. At one point, Girlfriend leans back on the grass and gives me a cat-ate-the-canary smile. She looks me in the eye and licks her lips. I have the perfect way, she tells me. Look, you have this big, beautiful swimming pool right here in your own backyard. Got a tall wooden fence all around. Enormous trees sheltering this space, making it really private and secluded. How about, next time he comes home drunk—which will be the next time he comes home—after he passes out, you slit his throat. I’ll help you drag his fat ass into the pool. Then we get in your car and split for somewhere west. Like Texas or Arizona or California. Hell, maybe we’ll just go down to Mexico. Lots of really good spicy food there, she adds.

I look up from wiping down the end table, and smile.

* * *

The very next night, sumbitch husband stumbles blind-drunk into bed, already snoring like a gored ox before his head hit the pillow. Too out of it to undress, big surprise.

Girlfriend pops up out of the shadows in the closet and helps me undress the slob. Don’t know how she does it—always being right there when I need her—but I’m glad she does. It’s like she’s magic, or something. I don’t question; I just accept. Anyway, we pull off his shirt and shoes, tug off his socks and pants. It’s like undressing an ogre. A cigarette-stinking, booze-sweaty, under-bridge-dwelling ogre out of a scary fairy tale, who still wears tighty-whiteys. Girlfriend asks me, what kind of male wears tighty-whiteys after they’re over the age of twelve? I sigh and tell her, the kind whose 76-year-old mother still buys their underwear for them, that’s who. And gives it to them for Christmas. Girlfriend peels off the offending undies, grimacing as she does. The whole scene is like something out of a black comedy.

Don’t worry. Hubby-troll was so blotto I could smash cymbals next to his fat head and he wouldn’t hear it, much less wake up. Girlfriend says to me, hey, here ya go. She hands me a filleting knife, one from the wooden block in the kitchen. How’d she get that so fast? I wonder but don’t ask; I just take. The blade is long and thin and really, really sharp. I like it.

Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. That’s it. I create three fluid strokes with that delicate filleting knife across his flabby throat, like a calligraphy brush across rice paper. I’m done and he’s bleeding out like the clichéd stuck pig—which is what he is. Who’d have thought the old fart had so much blood in him? I remember reading something like that in Shakespeare, in high school lo! these many years ago. Well, William didn’t use the word “fart” in Macbeth, but the sentiment is the same. I wasn’t prepared for the flood of blood, though my mother always said, where blood’s concerned, it always looks like there so much more than there actually is. I don’t know about that. His blood soaked his pillow and all the sheets, and through the mattress. Plus blood leaking, slopping all over the carpet, seeping down to the pad. Ugh. Think of how much bleach and how many buckets of warm soapy water and hard-scrubbing and—wait a minute. This is not going to be my mess to clean up, I realized, and that made it easier not to care. Exactly, Girlfriend giggled, shaking her head in agreement and flashing her devil-may-care grin. About time, she added, you saw how much better life is going to be, now that you’ve finally decided to take action. Nothing worse than whiner who won’t shit or get off the pot.

Back to business. Girlfriend said for me to grab his feet and drag him off the bed, which I did. He slid off the mattress easily. She tried to grab him under his arms, but he was so slick with blood, her grip kept slipping, and she kept dropping him. Thunk, thunk, thunk. His head hit the floor, again and again and again. It was ridiculous; I couldn’t help but laugh at her efforts. Never mind, I said to her. I’ll take it from here. You go slide open the patio door.

Jeez, the mook must’ve weighed over 300 pounds. No wonder he recently bought new clothes. Nothing more unattractive to strippers and office skanks than a fat man in tight clothes, no matter how much money he throws at them. I had to stop twice, to catch my breath and give my arms a rest. I was in good shape, but I can’t haul 300 pounds across the house in one fell swoop. Girlfriend kept urging me on, though, gently reminding me I had to be on the road before dawn.

I drug the ogre-man through the den and out the patio door. Under the moonlight, the trail of blood he left behind looked like nothing more than a very long skid mark, which could be a metaphor for my marriage to that big goon. I lugged him over to the edge of the pool, and rolled him in. Splish. There was a bit of blood still in him, and it blossomed in the water like a dark and lovely flower—it reminded me of watercolors spreading on a canvas. It was inspiring. What an interesting painting this scene would make. Maybe I should take a photo, for future reference.

No, Girlfriend interrupted. Just study the scene. Later, you can paint it from memory. Matter of fact, you can do a whole series of murder-scene paintings, she encouraged. Think how stunning the subjects will appear, portrayed in watercolors. Consider the contrast of a harsh, violent act rendered in the soothing, blurred softness of watercolors. It will probably make you famous, and then you’ll have your own money, to spend how and when you like.

She was right. I washed off the patio, so there’d be no blood to draw flies and other unsavory critters. I changed out of my black jeans and t-shirt, and into a gorgeous, sleeveless red satin dress with gold flowers embroidered along its Mandarin collar—an expensive, sophisticated dress I’d bought for an office Christmas party that we never attended. With my black hair and pale skin, the vivid color made me look like a movie star. Or a vampire, which is equally glamorous. I threw my black clothes into a plastic bag. I could burn them later, or better yet, wash them and donate to a church charity. I like that idea. I’m all about recycling.

With my bags previously packed and already loaded into the SUV, I locked up the house and hit the road. Girlfriend stayed behind, preferring to lurk in the shadows of the now-empty house. So, she wasn’t with me on my long trek across the country. She didn’t appear like magic in the car’s passenger seat, or across from me in a diner’s vinyl booth—mainly because she doesn’t exist. But then you knew that, didn’t you? Don’t you judge me.

Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2020