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Carnival Days 1969-Flash Fiction by Robert Kokan
Break-Flash Fiction by Martin Zeigler
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Boiled Like Lobster (Not Me)-Poem by Bradford Middleton
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My Palimpsest-Poem by Leon Fedolfi
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The Poem as a Bouquet of Broken Glass-Poem by John Sweet
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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
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Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
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Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

80_ym_break_nrichardson.jpg
Art by Noelle Richardson 2020

Break

 

by Martin Zeigler

 

 

"Sit anywhere you like, hon," the waitress said, and so Lena chose a booth away from the windows.

The waitress followed her with a menu and a glass of ice water. "Prime rib is our special tonight."

Lena looked up from the table. She didn't know how to say she'd spent most of the money on a motel room, and a good part of the rest on gas, before ditching the car in the woods somewhere.

"You okay?" the waitress said.

"Sure."

"Your eye says different."

Without thinking, Lena touched her fingertips to her cheekbone, knowing if she pressed any harder, it would hurt.

The waitress said, "My name's Betsy. Same as my name tag. What's yours?"

Lena brought her hand down to the table, fidgeted with the menu.

"You can give me any name, hon," Betsy said, smiling. "Just something to call you by."

"Lena. Lena Kellbrecht."

"Kellbrecht? As in Kellbrecht Autos?"

Lena shrugged.

"Dirk Kellbrecht sure has the run of things over there, in Herrett County, don't he? Police. Fire. Likes to get his way, and he don't even hold office."

"I suppose," Lena said.

Betsy looked Lena in the eye. "He do that to you?"

Before Lena could deny it, she found herself nodding.

Betsy kneeled down at the table, rested her hand on Lena's wrist. To Lena, the warmth and gentleness seemed almost foreign.

"I know a couple," Betsy said. "They're good people. Help you out, if you don't know where to turn. They live a ways away, but I can drive you. I'll be closing in an hour. Where you staying, Lena?"

Lena hesitated, then named the motel and the room number.

"You get yourself packed. I'll pick you up and bring along some grub. We'll have us a good drive. You like country?"

Dirk liked country, but Lena didn't mention it. She didn't have to.

"That's okay," Betsy said. "I've got all kinds of music. Or we can talk. Or just sit quiet."

"Okay."

"This couple, Lena. They'll find you someplace safe."

 

#

 

The crunch of gravel outside drew Lena to the window. She inched aside the curtain. Under the outside lights, a car was parked sideways. Betsy was at the wheel, looking straight ahead, not to her left at Lena's room.

Lena shut the room's door, circled around the car to the passenger side. Something seemed off, but she climbed in anyway.

The waitress turned to Lena, and Lena gasped. "Oh, God, Betsy. What happened?"

Betsy looked at Lena, then shifted her gaze ever so slightly to the passenger door. Lena went for the handle. A harsh cough from the back seat startled her, and she froze.

The cough became a voice. "That's right, Ms. Kellbrecht. Hold still. There, that's better."

Betsy spoke in vague vowels, spittle dripping down her chin.

The back seat voice said, "Your friend Betsy here's now the quiet type, on account of her jaw's broke."

The voice let this sink in, then went on. "Your hubby, as you know, likes cars. But maybe what you don't know is, he likes to keep them. It's why he puts tracking devices in the ones he owns. My pal Mitch is driving back the Caddy. Me, I stayed behind, took Mitch's car for a little spin. Came across the greasy spoon down the road. Showed Betsy your photo."

Another cough. "She didn't tell me anything at first, but later she wrote down everything."

Now Lena turned, risked glancing at the man in back. He looked like none of Dirk's friends, and yet all of them. "She needs to be taken to emergency," Lena said.

"What she needs is to take us back to Herrett County. Your hubby misses you. I'm sure he'll want to catch up. And he might have a kind word or two for Betsy here."

 

 

Martin Zeigler writes short fiction, primarily mystery, science fiction, and horror. His stories have been published in a number of small-press journals, both in print and online. His most recent publications can be found in the journal The Weird and Whatnot, and in the horror anthology Strange Stories, Volume I, edited by Daniel Cureton. Besides writing, Marty enjoys watching movies, playing the piano, and going for long walks. He makes his home in the Pacific Northwest.

Noelle Richardson comes from a relatively large family and has been illustrating and painting for about twelve years. She writes a little on the side, plays a couple of instruments and dabbles in tattoo design.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020