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The Fog-Fiction by Kevin Eade
Claire's Close Call-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Fools for Love-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Texas Redux-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Bridge Game-Fiction by DV Bennett
Transitory Unease-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Howie's Cell-Fiction by Chris McCartney
The Hit Woman's Hand Book-Fiction by J. Brooke
Stones Girl-Fiction by Don Stoll
One Day in the Suburbs-Fiction by Mitchel Montagna
The Bloody Whorehouse Detective Agency-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Happenstance-Fiction by Michael Stewart
You Were Supposed to Be-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
The Last Time I Almost Used-Flash Fiction by Jennifer Carr
Swimmer-Flash Fiction by Mark Cotton
Wordsmith-Poem by Meg Baird
Hey, Aunt Libby-Poem by Alex Salinas
Three Colors-Poem by Melissa Dobson
The Ladderites-Poem by David Spicer
My Kind-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Night Colors-Poem by Luis Berriozabal
Doc's Death-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Gopher-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
A Hot Summer Night After Wine-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Conception-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Married Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Sea World-Poem by Robert Halleck
Early Morning at a Friend's House in 1972-Poem by Robert Halleck
Pelican Bay-Poem by Robert Halleck
Right Through the Heart-Poem by David Boski
Sky Burials-Poem by David Boski
Third Time's a Charm-Poem by David Boski
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Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

The Gazing Ball

thegazingball.jpg

KENNETH JAMES CRIST’S

 

THE GAZING BALL REVIEWED

 

By A.M. Stickel

 

Meant for dark fiction readers 21 and over, THE GAZING BALL is the second short story collection by BLACK PETALS editor, Kenneth James Crist. Its appeal is to those of like mind, whether speeding down life’s highway while avoiding things lurking in its dark curves, or restlessly roaming the twilight of waking dreams (in rubber suits?!).

     Frenzied and fetish-ridden are these 23 offspring of our modern madness. In the author’s introduction, he states that he has (for some of the stories) “included a little blurb, giving the history of that piece and maybe some insight into where I got the idea, what was going through my mind…” Many of his comments on the pieces are humorous, others sinister and ironic. Brains are slimy little buggers, and brainy writers like Ken Crist just keep proving that point. He is a master of description without being excessively wordy. Now, as to the story themes…

     In “The Turning of the Tide,” a betrayed wife’s wish is implemented in a decidedly twisted manner. “The Lucky One” depicts a biker’s encounter with an unlucky UFO. Will graffiti someday be a valuable artifact? Ask the aliens in “Little Manny 311” and enjoy a killer ending.  “The Prank” proves that even the long arm of the law doesn’t extend far enough in some situations. A pervert responds to a kinky ad in “The Personals…” and gets his kinks ironed out permanently.

     Protagonist Pete Morrow replaces fat Martha, his wife, with Delilah, “The Perfect Companion,” but finds out the hard way that perfection has its drawbacks. Nature exacts justice on a bird-hating murderess in “The Carver.” A man eagerly awaits the rising of the full moon and the return to his favorite lifestyle in “The Beast in Me.” If your mother keeps nagging you about the health benefits in “Bananas,” make sure she reads this tale.

  What are the secrets of effective gardening? One of them might be found in “Captain Tommy and the Wolfman.” Continuing on the gardening theme, “Green Thumb” shows just how obsessive this pursuit can be. While terraforming the new Eden, Robot Roland 6441 grows human emotion as well in “In His Image.” Biker Terry meets his blue-jeans-wearing Eve in “Rachael of the Moon,”—“…her hand rested on my thigh, where it burned a hole all the way through to China.”—and abandons the open road (for obvious reasons).

    “Road Rage” proves the undoing of a commuter and his souped-up Camaro when he has a run-in with four lovely young ladies in an old Maverick. Cell phone “Static” divides, but ends up uniting, two loving newlyweds. Instead of upward mobility as an actor, A Midwesterner in New York City attains a permanent position on “Level Four” of the city’s sewer system.

    Alien “Mushrooms” get a new lease on life in a most effective manner, and wage a winning war against humanity without firing a single shot. Life is a story about to end in a “Red Leather”-bound book for the man who runs the Book Nook. Searching for her best friend, Kathy, Denise experiences “Armageddon with a Siamese Cat,” unaware that her life has taken a turn into a self-created surreality. The quietest of the collection, title story, “The Gazing Ball,” is pure wish fulfillment when a liberated woman abandons her life for a simpler, more genteel era.

“Educating Molly” takes two illicit lovers from the heights of ecstasy into the depths of deadly misery. When “The Woods Are Lovely” the time may be right for recruiting new members into the ranks of the undead. A trucker finds out that when a woman with “Yellow” eyes is after him, not even a jail cell will protect him from her, dead or alive.

     Replete with the drama of human failings, ex-cop Ken Crist’s fiction is singularly insightful, sometimes sympathetic, but always entertaining. $7.00 U. S. Funds from Fossil Publications, 11627 Taft, Wichita KS  67209, or email blkptls@yahoo.com

      128 pages, illustrations by Fred Leary, cover by Tim Ramstad. PayPal orders accepted...

 

Rated 4 skulls.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019