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Oklahoma-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Claire's Disposable Distraction-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Doing the Trash-Fiction by Sean McElhiney
Kinks-Fiction by Don Stoll
Heads or Tails-Fiction by Ambrose McJunkin
Brother Smith-Fiction by Bruce Harris
Designated Driver-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Dr. Flytrap's Home for Women-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Bhopal 2-Fiction by Doug Hawley
There He is Again-Fiction by Thomas Bailey
Genital Pulp-Fiction by Matthew Licht
There is Nothing-Fiction by Rick McQuiston
La Mere Mauvaise-Flash Fiction by Dini Armstrong
One Dark Quiet Night Disturbed-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Prankster-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Petal World-Flash Fiction by j. brooke
Reading Bukowski-Poem by Bob Kokan
Preparing the Children for Grandma's Visit-Poem by John Grey
Marble-Sized Raindrops-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Never Any Good at Magic-Poem by J. J. Campbell
Red-Poem by Meg Baird
Spigot-Poem by Otto Burnwell
Wrong-Poem by Ruth Ticktin
In the Backyard-Poem by Holly Day
Harry the Hippie-Poem by David Spicer
Michelangelo's Handshakes-Poem by David Spicer
Flaxen Hair-Poem by John Short
Once Every Four Years-Poem by John Short
A Recap of the Main Points-Poem by Mark Young
Morning Raga-Poem by Mark Young
Corona-Poem by Marc Carver
Pandemic-Poem by Marc Carver
The Secret-Poem by Maec Carver
Consideration-Poem by Richard M. Prazych
The Apartment-Poem by Richard M. Prazych
Holiday_Poem by Richard M. Prazych
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by A. F. Knott 2020


by Don Stoll


        Funny, the hard time Detective Inspector Ellen Flay of the York and North East Yorkshire Police had finding someone to grant her unorthodox requests. Like the bloke was afraid of her, which under the conditions was rubbish. Dishy chap named Tommy would cuff her, then say You hold the key just in case. Slip it between her lips, business end out, so she could reach the lock.

        She’d spit it out saying Not the long hard thing I want in there. He’d make like to put it back and she’d say Tommy, use your head: everything you’re about to do to me, get me gasping and howling, and I’m supposed to keep that key between my lips? 

       He’d give his puppy look and she’d say More likely I’d swallow it and he’d say Just in case. She’d say In case what? He’d say I could have a heart attack.

        Brand-new Constable Tommy was, while she was a seasoned Detective Inspector, recipient of not one but two Special Commendations. But the difference between Tommy and herself boiled down to more than age and rank. Tommy had gotten into police work to uphold the law. He wondered if everything Flay wanted to do in the bedroom was legal or otherwise on the up and up. Morally, like.

        But maybe that was it, Flay thought, never mind him being so fit. What with guilt and all, dishy Tommy could have thought himself into a heart attack.  

        Flay thought guilt was bollocks. The people who felt guiltiest had no clue what to feel guilty about. Would Tommy know to feel guilty about some of the nonsense he’d be called on to do as a copper? Snatching some innocent colored bloke off the street to pin a crime on, say, or knocking the poor chap about to get a confession. Good chance Tommy’s guilt and “morality” would accept that sort of rubbish even if it wouldn’t accept giving Ellen Flay everything she wanted in the bedroom. Long and short of it was, blokes like Tommy didn’t know who they were. That left them at the mercy of guilt and “morality.” Flay knew who she was, so she knew what she would do in bed and what she wouldn’t do to “solve” a crime and stick some poor sod in the nick.                                 

        Flay had gotten into police work for adventure. Which is what she saw in Colin. 


       She’d had a couple in The Phoenix, on George Street, when this bloke maybe about fifty, good decade older than her, swaggered in and took up residence at the other end of the bar. Got that Ray Davies look, Flay thought, meaning on the craggy side: long sharp nose with a bit of a hump got playing sport or fighting, deep creases setting off his cheeks, lips carved big like a black chap’s. Appreciating me as much as I appreciate him despite this silly perm, she thought. Smiling at me and what a smile, that Ray Davies smile his crooked crown jewel except slanting up to the right instead of the left. You a Kink too? Kinky like me? You thinking Girl, you really got me goin’? Speak to me and stop chatting with Fat-ass next to you.

        “Been years,” Fat-ass said. “Had enough of London then? Decided God’s Country’s good enough for you?”

        Colin—what Fat-ass had called him—rubbing and blowing on his hands said, “Can’t get a real winter down South.”

        Technically still summer, Flay thought, but winter never far off here in North Yorkshire. What a summer, though: Yanks on the moon, know they’ll never have another Kennedy in the White House, whacking great music festival in the States, Leeds United the champions. And of surpassing personal significance Ellen Flay discovers her exotic sexual appetites.                 

        “South in this case meaning South Africa,” Colin added. “Left London. . . not sure how many years ago.”  

        “London were too quiet for likes of you?” Fat-ass grinned as Flay thought Better not have a good word for apartheid, or I’m right off you Colin.

        Colin looked at Flay before answering. She didn’t know what to make of that, or of the look he gave her with his darting eyes once he’d spoken. Because he’d lowered his voice just a bit, but she was sure he’d said something about SWAPO, and pretty sure he hadn’t lowered too much just so she could hear. She thought He a mercenary? But for which side? But whole point is it doesn’t matter, right? Or he selling arms?  

        And she thought Testing me? Letting me hear SWAPO to see if I’d turn tail and run or be drawn like a moth to the flame?              

        She nudged her glass forward so it would sit there like an invitation.

        Want to burn, she thought. Feel on fire already and want to keep burning.

        Colin said “You dry, luv?”

        “Highly personal inquiry, isn’t it?” she said. “You a gynecologist?”

        Colin smiled his craggy crooked smile. A Ray Davies smile except with those lips carved big like a black chap’s slanting up to the right instead of the left.

        “Anyroad,” he said to Fat-ass, “if you’ll excuse me.”

        He came down to her end of the bar as the barman asked, “Gin and tonic again?”     

        Flay nodded. She was a great one for pleases and thank you’s with barmen and the like. But she was that taken with Colin, she forgot herself. He can handle himself, she thought. Hard beneath that leather jacket, and a hard man’s good to find.

        “I’m Ellen,” she said. “And I heard the other chap call you Colin.”

        Fat-ass who’s pissing off even as I speak, she thought.

        “Don’t be a stranger,” Fat-ass said on his way to the door.

        “You headed out then, Mike?” Colin said.

        Like he doesn’t give a fuck, Flay thought. Wouldn’t want to sound concerned, twat might change his mind and stay.

        “See me mates round Old White Swan,” Fat-ass said winking at Colin and nodding toward Flay. “Don’t do nowt I wouldn’t do.”   

        Twat, she thought. 

        “That a new do?” Colin said. “Goal was to look black?” 

        “That a problem?” Flay said suspiciously.

        “Reckon your hair’s a winner however you do it up.”

        Flay appreciated the compliment. She’d been self-conscious about her perm since getting it on the weekend, but thought now maybe she could make peace with it.       

        “You from round here?” she said. “That why. . .”       

        “Why Mike knows me?”

        Why Fat-ass knows you, she thought.

        “More between Bradford and Huddersfield,” he said. “Know Mike from Bradford. Worked with him.”

        “What sort of work you do?”

        “Whatever needs doing,” he shrugged.

        He reached for her hair.

        “You mind?” he said.

        He took hold of a curl forward of her left ear and tugged it toward himself. Out of the corner of her eye Flay saw him insert his finger into the hollow. 

        “Each curl forming a lovely inviting orifice,” she said. “Each orifice a bonus added to the three common-or-garden ones.”                                                                 

        “Not a gynecologist,” he grinned. “But I’ll do a bit of probing, you don’t mind. What line you in?”

        “Totally boring,” she shrugged. “Own a company, makes parts for tellies.”

        Advantage of picking at least one pub for nobody to know you, she thought, not every bloke at ease with a copper. Golden Fleece over on Pavement also good for that till I investigated the stabbing there. 

        “Must do all right,” he said.

        The barman brought her drink. She remembered her thank you while thinking Why’s he care? Thought mercenaries and arms dealers and the like shat five-pound notes.            

        “Not going to stand here wide-open for you,” she smiled, “show you my books or other private matters. But yeah, money’s good enough.”

        “Good enough for what?” he said, and for the barman he added, nodding at his pint, “Tip a whisky in there, chief.” 

        “Depends on what’s to be bought. You for sale?”

        He smiled.

        Wolf’s grin to cover a multitude of sins, she thought. But I want sin.  

        “Now you doing the probing,” he said.

        “That a problem?”

        “Only if your hands are cold.”

        He slid his hand toward her and she took it in her own hand.

        “What your politics, luv?” he said, too quietly for the barman to hear.

        “Can’t afford politics,” she said just as quietly. “Out to make a quid, sell my parts to whoever’s buying.”

        “We’ll discuss your parts later,” he said. “But for my part, was selling to SWAPO—let you infer what I was selling—when some other blokes who knew what I was selling saw an opportunity.”

        Flay sipped her gin and tonic.

        “Blokes get everything?” she said.

        “Paid for your drink, didn’t I? And didn’t swim here from South Africa.”

        “Landed on your feet then?” she said.

        “Still standing. Not on my knees.”

        “Like to see you on your knees,” she said, squeezing his hand.  

        Nothing stood between her and one gin and tonic after another. Certainly not Colin, who happily allowed her to buy him one pint after another and one whisky after another after being more forthcoming about the extent of his recent financial embarrassment.

        The alcohol’s effects included making Flay wonder if she’d be able to muster the energy for a good shag, not a question that often troubled her. Yet the inclusion among said effects of her growing inability to judge whether it might be wise to fly like a moth to the flame and burn neutralized all misgivings about her declining energy level. As closing time approached her thoughts were in the vein of I’ll do whatever he wants.   

        Last call came and Colin shoved off of his stool, pleased he could still stand. He took Flay’s hand and made for the exit, saying “Don’t want to create suspicion by hanging on till the end.”

        Outside, he turned left. A table and chairs had sat unused on the sidewalk all evening because of the cold. With his free hand—the one not dragging Flay along—he collected a chair. He plunked it down in front of the high brick wall that started where The Phoenix building ended.

        “Pretend you’re waiting for a bus,” he said.

        I drove, she thought. But parked where?     

        She looked down George Street in the direction they’d been going. She didn’t see her car. She looked back the other way. She didn’t see Colin, but she heard him swearing. His voice was coming from where the spiked fence began at the far end of the building.

        She heard his big body hitting the ground. The muffled noise told her he’d hit the grass. She thought it was odd he’d tried to climb over the fence.  

        But she also thought Maybe a four-foot fall, he’s fine.    


        Flay woke up wondering why she had to wake up since she had such a frightful headache. Bloody cold too, she thought. Studying her watch with the pretty illuminated face—it took studying because she wasn’t yet in the best condition to be making out the time—she thought God’s truth 3 AM.

        She thought Did I drive here?

        She thought Where’s here anyway?

        She thought That sound of breaking glass, that real or a dream?

        She thought And if it’s real where’d it come from?

        She thought Fucking hell, that big sheet-glass window front of The Phoenix. 

        But she saw only an empty space maybe six foot wide and four foot high where the glass should have been. She got out of her chair. Wobbling a bit less with every step she went over to the empty space to peer into the pub, wondering Who’d do such a thing?

        She remembered I drove here and car’s next street over but suddenly she didn’t care because she remembered Colin.     

        Fell other side of that fence, she remembered. Should see if he’s all right.

        Then she thought Looks like a crime here, should look at that first.

        And then she thought Fucking hell, Colin’s done this.

        “Colin,” she called through where the window had been.      

        “Ellen? I’ll get the door.”

        “But what you doing in there?”

        He swore as making his way through the darkness he collided with something.

        “You break this window, Colin?”

        “No, luv, broke of its own volition.”

        He fiddled with the door.

        “Was going to break in the back way, but. . .”

        He opened the door.

        “Had a kip and woke up to dead quiet, so why not come at it straight on?” he said.

        He yanked her hands toward his crotch.

        “Got something big and fat in both pockets,” he said.

        He moved her hand in circles over his right pocket.

        “Fat wad of notes in there,” he said. “Tonight’s take, and”—moving her other hand in circles over his left pocket—“you know what that is, luv.”   

        “You short, I can lend you a couple hundred quid.”

        “But don’t have to pay this back, do I?” he laughed.                                

        He kissed her mouth with his beer-and-whisky stink. She said “I’m a police officer” and thought maybe she oughtn’t to have done that.

        He pushed her away.

        “Lying cow,” he said.

        Flay would later ask herself Why’d I stand there like a target?

        This would often happen when she looked in the mirror at the scar on her upper lip. But she found she could live with it as time passed.

        She hadn’t seen him swing his arm. Reeling backward, assisted in the effort to plant her feet by her success in clutching both sides of the doorframe, a shower of liquid washed over her. She knew the bastard had struck her with a beer mug. 

        She would infer later that he hadn’t expected her to right herself so quickly. Because instead of following up with a second blow like any sensible bastard bent on mayhem would have done, he only stood there complacently.

        His bloody cheek made her angry. The arrogant bastard never moved except for the arm that raised toward his mouth—meaning to swallow the beer he hadn’t spilled—the mug he’d used to inflict a scar on the wrong person.   

        She noticed a mug on the table to her left. A little puddle of beer, flat as piss, sat on the bottom and a fag butt too. She hefted the mug in her right hand and with the piss puddle and fag butt along for the ride swung the mug backhand, smooth like that lovely Arthur Ashe who’d won the U.S. Open last year, aiming at Colin’s mug as he drank.

        She didn’t give a toss that with her blow she’d cut her hand. Colin was down for the count. She switched on the overhead lights.

        The effects of her adrenaline rush having faded, her pain was conspicuous. But less so than her amusement at seeing that Colin now gave the appearance of possessing an authentic Ray Davies smile: the cut from her blow began at the left corner of his mouth and angled diagonally upward to the left.  

        She thought it a pity he’d turned out a bastard, since he was so yummy.  


Don Stoll has fiction forthcoming in The Helix; Green Hills Literary Lantern; The Main Street Rag; Sarasvati; Between These Shores (twice); Down in the Dirt; and Children, Churches and Daddies. His stories have appeared recently in Eclectica (tinyurl.com/y73wnmgq) and Erotic Review (twice: tinyurl.com/y8nkc73z and tinyurl.com/y36zcvut). In 2008, Don and his wife founded their nonprofit (karimufoundation.org) to bring new schools, clean water, and clinics emphasizing women's and children's health to three contiguous Tanzanian villages.

A. F. Knott is a self-taught collage artist focused on book layout and book cover design as well networking in conjunction with Hekate Publishing, one of its missions, bringing together artist and writer. Sometimes seen selling in New York City's Union Square Park. Work can be found on 

flickr.com/photos/afknott/ Any exchange of ideas welcome: anthony_knott@hekatepublishing.com

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020