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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
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by K.J. Hannah Greenberg 2020

The Sicilian Doctor’s Tale

Paul Smith



The toilet was plugged up. I had left the bathroom, came back, and there it was – a still pool of murky water, staring back at me. I flushed the toilet a second time. Maybe it just didn’t hear me the first time. That didn’t work. I tried again.  Nothing.

What do you do when a toilet is unresponsive – give it mouth-to-mouth?

No. Nor do you yell it at for fear of waking up Her in the bedroom sleeping.  Silence is best. Unfortunately, something had to be done. Unfortunately, I was the one who had to do something. I was the last one who used the toilet. I looked again at the toilet bowl. Unresponsive, murky water. I could call a plumber or a urologist. Expensive. There had to be a way out. We had a toilet bowl plunger in the basement. It would get all coated with you know what and then I’d have to clean it off. I could do nothing. That was an option. I could just walk away from it and say it never happened. I could blame Her if She tried blaming me. I could avoid her and the toilet altogether, have nothing to do with it until it somehow got fixed, maybe by Her.

What kind of man would do a thing like that? I’d been to several movies lately and thought of the men in them. In one movie I just saw, there was a young guy in a fast car driving on a winding, mountainous road. He comes upon a country bumpkin driving a pickup truck very slowly. The bumpkin screws with him, not letting him pass. But the young man finally does pass the bumpkin and flips him off and laughs. Later the young guy gets a flat tire. The bumpkin catches up to him just as the fast young guy in the smart car is nearly finished changing the tire. He confronts him. The young fellow hides in the car. Was I that kind of guy? Then the bumpkin smashes the smart car’s windows, the young guy pushes the pickup truck into a ravine, the men fight and eventually there is a big explosion and both men die. Great movie.

Was I the wimpy young man who hid in his car while the bumpkin smashed the windows and took a shit on the smart car while the young guy hid? I hoped not.  So I decided to think of another movie.

In another movie there is a big tough, beefy gangster who is extorting money from a wishy-washy schlemiel. The beefy gangster wants to break his arms and legs, but instead brings in a scarecrow from the fields and shoots it to pieces in front of the schlemiel’s house. Eventually the schlemiel pays up. That’s the kind of tough guy I want to be – a tough but smart guy who shoots scarecrows and lets other people clean up plugged up toilets.

The gangster explained to the schlemiel, “See that-a dog? It could-a be you.”

Satisfied, I went about my business in the house, carefully avoiding the toilet and any mention of it. She got up, went to the bathroom, and later on we had breakfast. Who’s to say She didn’t plug it up last night? Women’s bodies are much more complicated than men’s. A man’s body has very simple functions. It is like an old-fashioned toilet with a pull chain. A woman’s body is like a sewage treatment plant, with digesters, aeration tanks, filters, clarifiers and headworks. It is infinitely more complicated and has a multitude of waste byproducts. Logically, She was the one who plugged it up in the first place. Logically, She should step forward and volunteer to unplug it. The beefy gangster in me realized all this, could see through the fallacy of getting the plunger from the basement, and was content to let the situation play itself out.

Which it did. We spent the entire day in silence. Her, making a number of trips to the bathroom, me pretending not to pay attention while I listened for the sounds of flushing. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in silence. We watched television in silence. We went to bed in silence.

In the middle of the night She sat up in bed and said, “Honey?”


“Is anything the matter?”


“Why are you screaming?”


“I wanted to tell you about a movie I saw.”

I liked movies. Movies reveal character. I was all ears. Movies have an outside story which is for entertainment purposes, to get you to follow along. And they have an inside story.

“There was this guy. He had erectile dysfunction. So he goes to a doctor and tells the doc about a ‘friend’ of his who can’t get it up. He explains that his friend is too embarrassed to come to the doctor and talk about it, so he volunteered to do this for his ‘friend.’ The doctor said not to worry, erectile dysfunction could be the result of lots of things – poor blood flow, hypertension, an overall feeling of not being manly, wimpiness, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy around women, guilt that his penis is smaller than average, the worry that he’ll come prematurely and the woman will laugh at his pathetic performance and go out and find a real stud to take his place.”

“So what happens?”

“Well, this big strong man realized that all of this was happening because he was hiding something from his wife. And as soon as he stopped hiding this thing, which wasn’t all that big, his manliness returned and they made passionate love and the movie had a happy ending. “

“They made a movie like that?”

“No, I just made that up. I saw an ad about ED on televison. I know you like movies, so I decided to put it all into a story.”

“Oh,” for a while there I thought she had me.

“Like how you make up stories.”

“I do?”

“Um hmm, like the story you create about the plugged up toilet. There is no plugged up toilet. We know what there is, don’t we?”

“We do?”

“Yes, and it’s alright. I’ve told you.” She turned the light on. “It’s alright, alright if you go see the doctor. See?”

I actually was prepared to go get the plunger.

“You’re a big strong guy on the outside. In the outside world. But this is the inside world. This is the world that I’m pretty good at. Will you do that for me?”

“I don’t make things up.”

She put her hand on my toilet plunger to see if it would, you know, get plunge-worthy. It just sat there like a slippery but lifeless eel.

So there’s this big, beefy gangster type who, for reasons unexplained, stops having erections. He has an understanding wife from Sicily who tells him that lots of men from Sicily have had this problem, and it usually stems from eating angel-hair pasta and sun-dried tomatoes and lots of Chianti. He goes to his Sicilian doctor in Sicily and confesses his problem. The Sicilian doctor puts his arm around the beefy hero’s shoulders and says, ‘I-m-a gonna show you a movie. The guy – he could-a be you.”

And the Sicilian doctor shows him a movie about toilet plungers that explains the whole thing.

It’s in Italian. With subtitles.


Paul Smith writes poetry & fiction. He lives in Skokie, Illinois with his wife Flavia. Sometimes he performs poetry at an open mic in Chicago. He believes that brevity is the soul of something he read about once, and whatever that something is or was, it should be cut in half immediately.

KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).

Recently, Hannah’s seventh short story collection was published by Bards and Sages Publishing.

The publisher writes: "Bards and Sages Publishing is pleased to bring readers Walnut Street, our seventh short story collection by KJ Hannah Greenberg. Greenberg’s flair for the peculiar and eclectic shines through in this collection of over fifty flash and short fiction works featuring anthropomorphic starship pilots, angsty authors, strange neighbors, and more."

Walnut Street is available on Amazon:


Volumes One through Five of the KJ Hannah Greenberg Short Story Collection at 50% off the list in an exclusive bundle only at 


In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020