Home
Editor's Page
"Skeeter", the Official YM Mascot
Guidelines
Contact Us & Links to Other Sites
Factoids
Baked in the Cake-Fiction by Hilary Lyon
The Bridge is Over-Fiction by Tim Frank
Free to Leave-Fiction by Mickey J. Corrigan
Bruno-Fiction by Edward Francisco
The Sicilian Doctor's Tale-Fiction by Paul Smith
Money Heals All Wounds-Fiction by Chris Fortunato
Flag Day-Fiction by Paul Beckman
Dance Fever Part II, Fiction by Greg Smith
Black Fedoras, Fishnet Stockings and An Old Master-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Lunar Madness-Fiction by J. Brooke
Killing Chauncey-Fiction by Gary Lovisi
Dee's Sentence-Fiction by Steve Prusky
Fire Man Sings the Blues-Fiction by Terry Butler
The Sequel: My First Novel_Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Switchbacks in the Forgotten Corner-Fiction by Walter Giersbach
Carnival Days 1969-Flash Fiction by Robert Kokan
Break-Flash Fiction by Martin Zeigler
Isabelle-Flash Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
All You Young Dudes-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Irony-Flash Fiction by Betty Reich
Even the Dead Need Somewhere to Live-Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Boiled Like Lobster (Not Me)-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Black Summer-Poem by Wayne F. Burke
14 Days-Poem by Ann Marie Rhiel
Lives Alone-Poem by Kenneth James Crist
My Palimpsest-Poem by Leon Fedolfi
I Lay with Tigers-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Rushing Slowly Through a Lucid Dream with Roberto Bolano-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Dive-Poem by John Sweet
The Poem as a Bouquet of Broken Glass-Poem by John Sweet
The Projector-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Boston Common-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Along the River-Poem by Holly Day
The Voyager-Poem by Holly Day
All Points from Zermatt-Poem by Henry Bladon
Lost Letters-Poem by Henry Bladon
Black Throat-Poem by John Tustin
Working It All Out-Poem by John Tustin
The Brutality and Terror-Poem by John Tustin
A Nice Poen for a Change-Poem by Marc Carver
The Lover-Poem by Marc Carver
Metier-Poem by Marc Carver
Strangers Keep Friending Me-Poem by David Spicer
True Love-Poem by David Spicer
Rita Hayworth and Me-Poem by David Spicer
Green Lasers-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Rodeo Clown-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
My Nightmare-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
The Joker-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

80_ym_firemanbluesheader_lthomas.jpg
Art by Londyyn Thomas © 2020

Fire Man Sings the Blues

 

Terry Butler

 

How’d what work out? Oh, with Aubrey. Why are you asking, so you can tell me you told me it was stupid? If you remember, it was me who told you I was fucked going in.  

Man, what’s your trip? I’m not bugging you about why you’re here in the Brass Rail fucking with me instead of at home with your wife. Shit. Fuck it. I’m out.

*

The two nice houses of the four on Lupine Court have realtor signs in front of them now since Aubrey’s place burned to a blackened sunken shell. I keep coming back, sitting in my car across from the court on the through street. I come at all hours just to watch, waiting to see if someone shows up.

That’s how this all started. I met her in a bar, she called and said someone was going to hurt her. I came and sat here and watched as a woman got out of a dark SUV and set the house on fire. I went in, shot some dude, and took her to my place.  It was good for a while, but I kept asking her questions; normal questions you might ask a person you’ve kept from getting killed, like who? And why?

She always said the same thing, and the more she did the more hardheaded I got.

Billy, please don’t ask. I love you and what you did for me, but you’d never forgive. No one could, ever. Just love me, Billy.

The Day family are hereditary hardheads though, so I kept it up, and I pushed her too hard. One afternoon she cleared out. She left a note.

Please don’t look for me. You don’t understand. I’ll always treasure our time together. I love you Billy, take care.

*

So, I’m here at Lupine Court, listening to Miles with the mute, watching and wondering what the fuck I’m doing.  I know everyone who lives on Lupine Court has something they saw, who went in and out, observations about Aubrey. I’ve knocked on all the doors. No one answers, not even the guy with the junk cars in the yard. I call him Steady Eddie, because this man ain’t moving his cars for nothing or nobody, no way. I’m just waiting until I see him.

Then he’s at my passenger window. Dude must be watching me. I let it down. He’s calm, not angry and looks like he’s not going to act like a tough guy. I’m all smiley.

Yessir! How ya doin’?

Why you keep coming around here, man? You some kind of cop?

Last thing from a cop. I’m trying to find the woman who lived in that house.

She’s dead, burnt up in the fire.

No, she didn’t. She may be dead now, but not in the fire.

How you know that?

Because I was here that night. And so were you.  

What you saying, I had something to do with that shit?

No. Just that I saw you in your yard when I left. What did you see?

I seen a Midnight Blue Escalade come in, a chick get out, walk up to the front, toss a bundle, turn right around and leave in the Caddy. Couple minutes and the whole place was on fire. I call 911, keep watching and see a dude come out carrying what looked like a dead body. You, I guess. They got in a car across the street and rolled out.

What else?

Man, I didn’t get no license numbers, no descriptions of nobody, right?  I ain’t up for any kind of shady shit with them people so I just watch, don’t get involved.

What makes you think they were shady?

Hey, you know what, I told you I ain’t involved. Know what I’m saying? I will say I was surprised to see a little proper looking chick like her involved with some bad ass gangsters. Look like you care for her, that right?

He looks closely at me. He can see. He’s big and dark, a watch cap pulled down almost to eye level.

What’s your name man?

Lionel.

Billy.

Fist bump.

All-right, B. Check out Sleepy Batiste for yourself. Be real careful when you do, and don’t come bothering me no more.

*

The bar where I met Aubrey, Mr. Wright’s, is not downtown or out on the highway. It’s midtown by the malls, behind some carpet and mattress places. They’re hiding it because overcrowded isn’t their business model. The exclusive clientele will take care of them as long as they keep the place private.

I can get in there by reputation. I’m definitely not a high roller, not a big mouth, not a psycho. What I am is a long-time pro with certain skills. I’m known, and this is where I go to be utilized.

But unlike me, everybody in Mr. Wright’s knows who Sleepy is. I’m properly respectful of his bad-ass-ness but I’m not scared to approach him on this. Call me nuts or even suicidal, I don’t care. I see him at a table near the bandstand and I go over.

Sleepy! Can I talk to you?

A slow turn toward the source of this rude interruption. An even slower appraisal and then the clichéd response.

Do I know you?

He’s got a long frame enclosed in a tightly tailored medium grey suit, Italian wool with a subtle weave. One leg hangs over the other one without mussing his pressed pants, while one lengthy arm encircles a gorgeous redhead’s shoulders and the other extends forward to tap an ash into an ashtray. His eyes are the reason he’s called Sleepy. They’re long-lashed slits, with enough cold coming through to let you know that Sleepy may be his name, but it is definitely not his game.

No, but you know a friend of mine. Aubrey Wells. Have you seen her recently?

I take a step forward. A big guy at the table eases his chair back and unbuttons his jacket. Nobody moves but the redhead. She wants to disappear. Sleepy stows the cigarette in the ashtray, pats her hand, unwinds his arm from her shoulders and smiles a dismissive smile as he points a long finger at me.

And who are you to her?

I’m Billy Day. I was with her the night you burned her house down.

The smile switches off and he shifts in his chair in a way that sets his big buddy on edge and makes the redhead want to crawl under the table. Sleepy is now wide awake.

Feeling loose and powerful, and in some way light, I lean over him and switch my smile on.

Did she tell you what I did for her that night? Did she tell you how I made her feel clean again? Did she tell you I’d do anything at all for her?

Sleepy moves like a cat. He stands and looks down at my face from just inches away. His eyes are something like a cat’s now, definitely intelligent but definitely not human.

Man, you playing with fire.

And is this lady your fire-starter?

His eyes flick right to the big guy. Sleepy moves back and I move with him, turning him toward the blow that’s coming. He’s a head taller than me and I bunch myself, lift and throw him into the hulk just as the hulk unloads but tries to pull his punch. Sleepy catches it glancing off his forehead. Probably hurts anyway.

Of course there’s another guy, the one out of nowhere who slides behind me and grabs me, tries to bring me to my knees. We wrestle some while Sleepy and the hulk get untangled. They’re too late. I slip loose and head for the door. I’m running, juking like Walter Payton, heading for the nearest corner to turn. A couple of shots fired, but I’m gone from there. I hide in an alley a bit and then go get my car.

I don’t want to go home because I know if I do I won’t sleep anyway, so I drive back to Lupine Court.  I can’t think why I believe hanging around there will give me an answer about Aubrey’s whereabouts. I’m feeling unusual, that is to say, lost. Why do I care so much? I pull up across the street, but I don’t shut the car off. In a minute I’m driving again, pointed to The Brass rail to start a bender.

*

Why am I sitting down here at the end of the bar? Maybe so I don’t have to talk to anybody. Aw, shit man, I’m sorry. What are you drinking? I guess you never get tired of that shit. Yeah, cheers.

Yeah, I am kind of down. I miss her and I keep looking but I can’t find her. All she ever told me was that she was from California, had come here with a band, that they fired her here and she’d been scuffling gigs on her own since. No, thanks, partner, I need to keep it clean so nobody gets hurt but me. Thanks for the offer though. OK, I’ll be here all weekend. And hey! Jenny said hello. I see her around. She said to tell you hello.

The End

80_ym_firemanbluesfooter_lthomas.jpg
Art by Londyyn Thomas © 2020

Terry lives in the country, near a small town south of San Jose, CA called Hollister. He used to write steadily, publishing both in print and online as Terence Butler, but after some health issues, the energy needed to write seemed to dissipate somewhat. He has been a professional photographer and a painter/collage-assemblage maker for most of his working life, so painting and photo art have taken the place of genre fiction as an outlet. Recently the story “Fire Man” appeared all as a piece in his mind so he simply wrote it down. He sent it to Cindy, and in the ensuing back and forth. They somehow discussed using some of his visual art, too. Cindy is simply the best, and a real stalwart in this little world. She has a big heart and a deep love for animals, too!





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

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2020