Yellow Mama Archives

Tim Tobin
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The Torturer


by Tim Tobin



The torturer was an average-looking fellow. He was about forty, 5'10", 170 pounds, with receding brown hair. He wore off-the-rack suits, but they fit his frame well. His shirts and ties matched the suit and were picked with care. His shoes were inexpensive but comfortable. In short, he could have been an accountant or a store manager.


Instead, he was a sadist.


His current employer was a well known Middle-Eastern terrorist group who had captured a young female lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Lieutenant Sandy Miller had been targeted and taken for her in-depth knowledge of logistics for the 201st Mobile Marine Expeditionary Force. She would know where they were going, and when and what the mission was. She was also young, a woman, and would be easy to break. 


The torturer introduced himself and made her choice plain.


“Lieutenant, you will not live out the day. The only question is how you will die.”


With that, he opened the door to his workshop.


Sandy Miller screamed and collapsed on the floor.


The torturer handed her a telephone and told her that someone was on the line who could help her make her decision.


“Sandy?” asked her father.


“Daddy! They’re going to hurt me!” Sandy wailed miserably.


Retired Colonel Jonathan Miller set the phone down and his head fell into his hands.


Shortly after, he picked up the phone.


“Sandy,” he said. “You’re a United States Marine.”


The torturer left the phone line open while he worked.


Lieutenant Sandy Miller did break, but not easily.


When it was over, Mr. Miller wept like a small child.




Gus and the Guy


by Tim Tobin



Gus was a bartender who had seen it all and heard it all. So he poured the guy a strong bourbon and water and let him talk.


“I hit her and she cried,” he said.


“I didn’t mean to hurt her, but damn it!”


“Everything is always about her! What about me? God damn it!”


“I have needs too, ya know!”


“Little bitch thinks she is something special.”


“Well, I showed her, yes sir, I showed her who’s boss in my house!”


The guy slammed the drink down his throat and pushed the glass towards Gus.


“You didn’t hurt her bad, did you?” asked Gus.


“No. I just slapped her around some. Stupid bitch.”


“Now I bet she’ll do what I want.”


Gus looked at the guy and said to him, “Why don’t you go home and apologize? Work this out.”


The guy sighed and finished his second drink in a single gulp.


“Okay, Gus, maybe you’re right. See ya,”


The guy walked into his house and nodded to his wife.


He climbed the stairs and entered her bedroom without knocking.


His four-year-old daughter cringed on the floor in the closet.




When the guy showed up the next day, Gus was curious.


“Mind telling me what happened? Did you two make peace?”


“Oh, hell no, Gus.”


“It was just more of the same! Whining and crying about unfair it was.”


“What was unfair?” prodded Gus.


“Well, hell, you know.”


“She wanted to watch cartoons while the game was on.”


“Cartoons? What are you talking about?” Gus said.


“My kid, the little brat! It’s always about her! But not anymore, I can tell you that!”


Gus stared into space for a moment and then started washing beer glasses.




The guy was right on time so Gus poured him a bourbon and water and pushed it across the bar. He looked at the guy.


“Aw, shut up, Gus. Mind your own business.”


Gus ambled to the end of the bar to check on a large man nursing a beer. Satisfied his customer was all right, Gus began to polish glasses.


Shortly after, Gus’s phone rang. He answered, listened for a moment and said quietly to the big man with the beer, “They’re safe.”


The big man finally took a long swig of his beer and slid off his stool.


He said to the guy, “Sir, can I have a word with you, please?”


The guy twirled around on his barstool.


“Who’re you? I don’t know you. Go away!”


The big man reached for the guy’s hand and applied pressure. The guy gasped in pain.


“Now, sir, please.”


The big man and the guy walked behind the bar, through the kitchen and out the back door.


Gus gave the situation ten minutes and then went out back.


The guy was curled in a ball behind a dumpster. He was crying and begging and slobbering all over himself. His pants were wet, as if he’d pissed himself.


The big man who was now holding a baseball bat looked to Gus.


“I ain’t even hit him—yet.”


As Gus closed the bar door, he heard a thud and a shriek.




Art by Kevin Duncan 2013

Diary of an Eviction


by Tim Tobin


As told to (and witnessed by) Robert J. Lexington

New York City Chronicle, April 27, 2013


My only year of freedom went by quickly. I graduated high school, partied, went to college, partied, got thrown out, came home, partied, got thrown out. All in twelve months. Quite an accomplishment even for me. My life resembled a garbage disposal with a stuck switch. Honestly, I didn’t care much except for being homeless. I tried the “Oh woe is me” act but Dad changed the locks. I tried my high school girlfriend but she was in a “meaningful” relationship. Oh, sure.


I had twenty-seven dollars and thirty cents in my pants, a thirteen year old Ford with a half-tank of gas. My watch read nine o’clock and I had nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep, and nothing to eat.


I parked in front of my old home and wondered if Mom watched me. Would she be my salvation? Maybe she would take pity and let me back in. By ten-thirty the downstairs fell dark and desperation took a firm hold of me. What the hell was I going to do?


Sleeping in the car seemed like a plan. Maybe in the morning my parents would see the error of their ways. I would apologize and beg and plead and they would relent like always. All I did was drink a little now and then. It’s not like I did drugs. At least not hard drugs. At least not often.


A search of my car turned up a single can of beer that I drank for dinner. Close to midnight I put the seat back and tried to sleep. About two-thirty I heard someone trying to break into the house. I grabbed my baseball bat from the closet and ran to the door. I yanked it open and came face to face with a cop. At the window of my car. Must have been dreaming, I thought. He motioned for me to roll down the window.


The cop told me he ran my plates and the report showed I lived here. Are you locked out, he asked. I decided not to hassle the guy and told him the truth. Except for the drug part. He told me to hang on and then he pulled out his phone and called my house. I guess my dad answered because the cop just said, “Yes, Sir” and “No, Sir” a bunch of times. He sighed when he hung up.


My father would not relent. The cop told me I just couldn’t sleep in my car on the street and I had to move. I mumbled some kind of thanks and started the car and drove. I ended up behind my old high school. The rest of the night passed uninterrupted.


I woke up in a foul mood and smelled even worse. My stomach cramped with hunger pains. So a McDonalds sold me a breakfast sandwich and I bought a toothbrush at the drug store. My wallet contained a gym membership I got when I rehabbed my ankle last year. I went there and showered. I put my dirty clothes back on but I felt a little bit better. I counted my money. Twenty bucks and some change.


Eight o’clock on a beautiful summer morning and I had no place to go and absolutely nothing to do. My cell phone worked so I called home. No answer. Caller ID probably finked me out to my folks.


There were still a couple of old friends living in town so I stopped by Mike’s house first. Maybe I could get a cup of coffee and a loan. No problem with the coffee but a loan! And a spare bedroom? Are you kidding me, he asked. My parents always thought you were a screw up. And I have to get to work.


Work? A job? I should be able to get something, somewhere. In a gas station or a fast food joint. This time I knocked on my door. Hard. My father finally appeared and he was pissed. Get the hell out of here and don’t come back, he roared. Ok, Ok I said but I need some things from my room. What, he demanded. At least some clothes, I pleaded. He slammed the door in my face. After long minutes the door finally opened and an old suitcase flew out. Now, he screamed at me, get the hell out of our lives.


In the afternoon I tried to hit up some other old friends but the story remained the same. Stop by anytime. But money? Sorry, I need my money for college.


My half a tank of gas dwindled to just over a quarter tank. If I bought a sandwich for dinner I would be down to fifteen bucks. My last stop at Roger’s house got me dinner and his best wishes. I spent another night in the car.


At least in the morning I had clean clothes when I showered at the gym. Then I made a tour of gas stations and fast food places. I must have filled in a dozen applications and every place told me they would get back to me. I wondered how they would do that when my dad cancelled my cell service.


I hadn’t eaten all day and my stomach growled. My twenty dollars would last another day, maybe. My car needed gas and I needed something to eat. If dad cancelled the gym membership, I couldn’t even take a shower so I could look for work. A drink is what I needed or maybe an upper. But I had neither and no money.


So, hungry, tired, and desperate I started back towards the school and another night crammed into the car. Honestly, the more I thought about what happened the more pissed I got at my parents. Damn them! They did this to me. And with that my car sputtered, coughed and stopped. Out of gas!


At least it stalled right across the street from a liquor store. A six pack wasn’t much of a dinner but I really needed that drink. And wouldn’t you know it, the clerk carded me. Me! I hadn’t been carded in two years.


Enough, already! My temper popped and I grabbed the clerk by the collar and yelled at him to sell me the fucking beer.


He was older than me, about my size and strong. He pushed me off and slugged me right in the jaw. I stumbled back, regained my footing and charged him. We went crashing into the beer cooler with shards of glass going everywhere. Including into his neck.


He gurgled and reached for me. I kicked him off and stared at the man. He stared back, his eyes asking what the fuck just happened to me.


Then he died.


I giggled, I laughed. I got hysterical. Dad would really be proud now! Finally I gathered myself and searched behind the counter. Holy shit, a pistol, a revolver, sat in a box. I grabbed the gun and some money from the cash drawer. Fate stepped in and decided my future and I was ready to run from the store to anywhere.


A car pulled into the store’s parking lot and a woman got out. She walked in and shrieked when she saw the bloody mess. She tried to reach for her phone when I grabbed her and told her I wanted her car keys. Man could she yell. And she stomped on my foot and tried to run. I stumbled and the gun went off. She fell.


Two for two tonight.


A stolen car, a stolen gun, some stolen money. Two bodies. Home. The only place I could think to go. Just let my old man throw me out now! Oh shit. Sirens. Loud, close, behind me. Red and blue flashing lights in pursuit. Of me.


Home. Not far now. I can make it if they don’t shoot me. What the hell is that? A cop by the side of the road throwing sticks at me. Now that’s really scary! Outta the way, pig! Explosions! Gunshots? I can’t steer the car, the tires are flat.


But I’m home now. The porch is on the right. The light is on for me. Safety, just a few steps away. I crawled over the passenger seat and got the door open and then slithered onto the ground.


Halt! A cop with a gun hollers at me. Go to hell I holler back. I’m home now. I’m safe. Another one screams something about freezing. Christ, I’m sweating like a pig. I make the stairs and one of the oinkers tackles me. I roll onto my back, the stolen gun in my hand.


Gun! They all yell at once. Shots whiz by my head nicking my ear sending blood down my neck. I dive behind the porch rail as bullets crash into the wall. Splinters dance all over my body. I squeeze into a tiny ball.


Then the front door of my house opens. Thank God! Get inside I tell myself. Mom will protect me, hold me, let me cry. Dad? What the hell? A gun. A flash. Pain. Oh God.


I don’t want to die.




Guilty! The jury roared its judgment.


Mercy! Pleaded the condemned.


Death! Bellowed the judge.


Mom and Dad? Absent. Ashamed? Guilty? They should be. After all, I am what they made me. Guess I’ll have to figure out how to get a fix on death row. Must be a way.




Today? Already? It’s only been fifteen years. Must have some appeals left.


Nope. The warden reads the court order. A couple of needles at midnight he says. Painless he assures me. I’ll go to sleep and then nothing, or whatever.


Surely Mom and Dad will come tonight. To watch me go to sleep. I remember Mom telling me stories about Dad walking me for hours when I cried. I’m crying now. Sobbing. Blubbering.


Two strong men pull me down a long hall. Into a room with a cot and straps. And three vials of stuff that will let me sleep. Ah, hell. They’re going to kill me.


This little room has windows. People are watching. Jesus, I’m scared.


Where are they? Where are they when I need them?


Mommy? Daddy?


Jesse Black let me interview him extensively and then witness his execution. This newspaper article is merely a summary of what will appear in Jesse’s biography. He blames his parents, of course. I invited them repeatedly for an interview but they always decline.


Robert J. Lexington

Tim Tobin holds a degree in mathematics from LaSalle University and is retired from L-3 Communications. “Diary of an Eviction” marks Mr. Tobin’s third appearance in Yellow Mama. His work also appears in Grey Wolfe Press, In Parentheses, River Poets Journal, Static Movement, Cruentus Libri Press, The Speculative Edge, Rainstorm Press, Twisted Dreams, The Rusty Nail, Whortleberry Press, and various websites and ezines. Follow him on Twitter @TimTobin43.

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