Yellow Mama Archives

g emil reutter
Adhikari, Sudeep
Ahern, Edward
Aldrich, Janet M.
Allan, T. N.
Allen, M. G.
Ammonds, Phillip J.
Anderson, Peter
Andreopoulos, Elliott
Arab, Bint
Augustyn, P. K.
Aymar, E. A.
Babbs, James
Baber, Bill
Bagwell, Dennis
Bailey, Ashley
Baird, Meg
Bakala, Brendan
Baker, Nathan
Balaz, Joe
Barber, Shannon
Barker, Tom
Bates, Jack
Bayly, Karen
Baugh, Darlene
Bauman, Michael
Baumgartner, Jessica Marie
Beale, Jonathan
Beck, George
Beckman, Paul
Benet, Esme
Bennett, Brett
Bennett, Charlie
Berg, Carly
Berman, Daniel
Bernardara, Will Jr.
Berriozabal, Luis
Beveridge, Robert
Bickerstaff, Russ
Bigney, Tyler
Blake, Steven
Bohem, Charlie Keys and Les
Booth, Brenton
Bougger, Jason
Boyd, A. V.
Boyd, Morgan
Bracey, DG
Brewka-Clark, Nancy
Britt, Alan
Brooke, j
Brown, R. Thomas
Brown, Sam
Burton, Michael
Bushtalov, Denis
Butkowski, Jason
Butler, Simon Hardy
Cameron, W. B.
Campbell, J. J.
Campbell, Jack Jr.
Cano, Valentina
Cardinale, Samuel
Carlton, Bob
Cartwright, Steve
Carver, Marc
Castle, Chris
Catlin, Alan
Chesler, Adam
Clausen, Daniel
Clevenger, Victor
Clifton, Gary
Coffey, James
Colasuonno, Alfonso
Conley, Jen
Connor, Tod
Cooper, Malcolm Graham
Coral, Jay
Cosby, S. A.
Costello, Bruce
Crandall, Rob
Criscuolo, Carla
Crist, Kenneth
Crouch & Woods
D., Jack
Dallett, Cassandra
Danoski, Joseph V.
Daly, Sean
Davis, Christopher
Day, Holly
de Bruler, Connor
Degani, Gay
De France, Steve
De La Garza, Lela Marie
Deming, Ruth Z.
Demmer, Calvin
De Neve, M. A.
Dennehy, John W.
DeVeau, Spencer
Di Chellis, Peter
Dick, Earl
Dick, Paul "Deadeye"
DiLorenzo, Ciro
Dionne, Ron
Domenichini, John
Dominelli, Rob
Doran, Phil
Doreski, William
Dorman, Roy
Doherty, Rachel
Dosser, Jeff
Doyle, John
Draime, Doug
Drake, Lena Judith
Dromey, John H.
Dubal, Paul Michael
Duke, Jason
Duncan, Gary
Dunham, T. Fox
Duschesneau, Pauline
Dunn, Robin Wyatt
Duxbury, Karen
Duy, Michelle
Elliott, Garnett
Ellman, Neil
England, Kristina
Erianne, John
Espinosa, Maria
Esterholm, Jeff
Fallow, Jeff
Farren, Jim
Fenster, Timothy
Ferraro, Diana
Filas, Cameron
Flanagan, Daniel N.
Flanagan, Ryan Quinn
Francisco, Edward
Funk, Matthew C.
Gann, Alan
Gardner, Cheryl Ann
Garvey, Kevin Z.
Genz, Brian
Giersbach, Walter
Gladeview, Lawrence
Glass, Donald
Goddard, L. B.
Godwin, Richard
Goff, Christopher
Goss, Christopher
Gradowski, Janel
Graham, Sam
Grant, Christopher
Grant, Stewart
Greenberg, K.J. Hannah
Greenberg, Paul
Grey, John
Gunn, Johnny
Gurney, Kenneth P.
Haglund, Tobias
Halleck, Robert
Hamlin, Mason
Hanson, Christopher Kenneth
Hanson, Kip
Harrington, Jim
Harris, Bruce
Hart, GJ
Hartman, Michelle
Haskins, Chad
Hawley, Doug
Haycock, Brian
Hayes, A. J.
Hayes, John
Hayes, Peter W. J.
Heatley, Paul
Heimler, Heidi
Helmsley, Fiona
Hendry, Mark
Heslop, Karen
Heyns, Heather
Hilary, Sarah
Hill, Richard
Hivner, Christopher
Hockey, Matthew J.
Hogan, Andrew J.
Holderfield, Culley
Holton, Dave
Howells, Ann
Hoy, J. L.
Huchu, Tendai
Hudson, Rick
Huffman, A. J.
Huguenin, Timothy G.
Huskey, Jason L.
Irascible, Dr. I. M.
Jaggers, J. David
James, Christopher
Johnson, Beau
Johnson, Moctezuma
Johnson, Zakariah
Jones, D. S.
Jones, Erin J.
Jones, Mark
Kabel, Dana
Kaplan, Barry Jay
Kay, S.
Kempka, Hal
Kerins, Mike
Keshigian, Michael
Kevlock, Mark Joseph
King, Michelle Ann
Kirk, D.
Knott, Anthony
Koenig, Michael
Korpon, Nik
Kovacs, Norbert
Kovacs, Sandor
Kowalcyzk, Alec
Krafft, E. K.
Lacks, Lee Todd
Lang, Preston
Larkham, Jack
La Rosa, F. Michael
Leasure, Colt
Leatherwood, Roger
Lees, Arlette
Lees, Lonni
Leins, Tom
Lemming, Jennifer
Lerner, Steven M
Lewis, Cynthia Ruth
Lewis, LuAnn
Lifshin, Lyn
Liskey, Tom Darin
Lodge, Oliver
Lopez, Aurelio Rico III
Lorca, Aurelia
Lovisi, Gary
Lucas, Gregory E.
Lukas, Anthony
Lynch, Nulty
Lyon, Hillary
Lyons, Matthew
Mac, David
MacArthur, Jodi
Malone, Joe
Mann, Aiki
Manzolillo, Nicholas
Marcius, Cal
Marrotti, Michael
Mason, Wayne
Mattila, Matt
McAdams, Liz
McCartney, Chris
McDaris, Catfish
McFarlane, Adam Beau
McGinley, Chris
McGinley, Jerry
McElhiney, Sean
McKim, Marci
McMannus, Jack
McQuiston, Rick
Mellon, Mark
Memi, Samantha
Miles, Marietta
Miller, Max
Minihan, Jeremiah
Monson, Mike
Mooney, Christopher P.
Morgan, Bill W.
Moss, David Harry
Mullins, Ian
Mulvihill, Michael
Muslim, Kristine Ong
Nardolilli, Ben
Nelson, Trevor
Nessly, Ray
Nester, Steven
Neuda, M. C.
Newell, Ben
Newman, Paul
Nielsen, Ayaz
Ogurek, Douglas J.
O'Keefe, Sean
Ortiz, Sergio
Pagel, Briane
Park, Jon
Parr, Rodger
Parrish, Rhonda
Partin-Nielsen, Judith
Peralez, R.
Perez, Juan M.
Perez, Robert Aguon
Peterson, Ross
Petroziello, Brian
Pettie, Jack
Petyo, Robert
Phillips, Matt
Picher, Gabrielle
Pierce, Rob
Pietrzykowski, Marc
Plath, Rob
Pointer, David
Powell, David
Power, Jed
Powers, M. P.
Praseth, Ram
Prusky, Steve
Pruitt, Eryk
Purfield, M. E.
Purkis, Gordon
Quinlan, Joseph R.
Quinn, Frank
Rabas, Kevin
Ram, Sri
Rapth, Sam
Ravindra, Rudy
Renney, Mark
reutter, g emil
Rhatigan, Chris
Richardson, Travis
Richey, John Lunar
Ridgeway, Kevin
Ritchie, Salvadore
Robinson, John D.
Robinson, Kent
Rodgers, K. M.
Roger, Frank
Rose, Mandi
Rose, Mick
Rosenberger, Brian
Rosenblum, Mark
Rosmus, Cindy
Ruhlman, Walter
Rutherford, Scotch
Sanders, Isabelle
Sanders, Sebnem
Savage, Jack
Sayles, Betty J.
Schauber, Karen
Schneeweiss, Jonathan
Schraeder, E. F.
Schumejda, Rebecca
See, Tom
Sethi, Sanjeev
Sexton, Rex
Seymour, J. E.
Shaikh, Aftab Yusuf
Sheagren, Gerald E.
Shepherd, Robert
Shirey, D. L.
Sim, Anton
Simmler, T. Maxim
Simpson, Henry
Sinisi, J. J.
Sixsmith, JD
Slagle, Cutter
Slaviero, Susan
Sloan, Frank
Small, Alan Edward
Smith, Brian J.
Smith, Ben
Smith, C.R.J.
Smith, Copper
Smith, Greg
Smith, Paul
Smith, Stephanie
Smith, Willie
Smuts, Carolyn
Snethen, Daniel G.
Snoody, Elmore
Sojka, Carol
Solender, Michael J.
Sortwell, Pete
Sparling, George
Spicer, David
Squirrell, William
Stewart, Michael S.
Stickel, Anne
Stolec, Trina
Stryker, Joseph H.
Stucchio, Chris
Succre, Ray
Sullivan, Thomas
Swanson, Peter
Swartz, Justin A.
Sweet, John
Tarbard, Grant
Taylor, J. M.
Thompson, John L.
Thompson, Phillip
Tillman, Stephen
Titus, Lori
Tivey, Lauren
Tobin, Tim
Tu, Andy
Ullerich, Eric
Valent, Raymond A.
Valvis, James
Vilhotti, Jerry
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Walsh, Patricia
Walters, Luke
Ward, Emma
Washburn, Joseph
Weber, R.O.
Weil, Lester L.
White, Judy Friedman
White, Robb
White, Terry
Wilsky, Jim
Wilson, Robley
Wilson, Tabitha
Woodland, Francis
Young, Mark
Yuan, Changming
Zackel, Fred
Zafiro, Frank
Zapata, Angel
Zee, Carly
Zimmerman, Thomas

Art by Sean O'Keefe 2012


Girls Want to Have Fun

by g emil reutter


     They scraped their windshields while looking at the house in the middle of block. Red and blue lights flickered in the early morning darkness as EMS workers circled the house looking for a point of easy entry. Neighbors began to gather on the front lawn as the sound of breaking glass cut through the air. Inside the house they began their search.


The three men moved from room to room until they found her on the third floor seated in the corner. Her blouse and jeans were crimson as were her hands. A large smear of blood covered the floor just in front of the room located to the left of where she was sitting.

“Are you injured?’

She shook her head indicating she wasn’t and pointed to the room. The man lay unconscious on the floor, blood streaming from his right thigh. They tied it off, administered oxygen as the police arrived.

“What happened?”

“We don’t know—she was sitting there in the corner and this guy was laying in here, we have to transport him, she says she’s okay.”

The cop stayed with her as his partner guarded the front door after they took the man away. Neighbors were talking on the lawn and as is the case with people who don’t know anything the gossip was running rampant about what happened. Detectives and crime scene units arrived and spent quite a long time in the house. News vans arrived, clogging the street, interviewing neighbors who expressed displeasure at what happened in their neighborhood. A short stocky man with a full beard looked into the camera, “The old man used to bring young girls home all the time, I figured they were hookers. Maybe a pimp got a hold of him.”

    Detective John Gallagher interviewed the woman at the top of the steps and told her they would ride to the district. She was quiet, she never said a word.




     The woman sat in the interview room, her clothes were taken and a female officer provided her with a new set. Gallagher and his partner, Ben O’Neil, entered to interview her.

“Teresa, it is Teresa isn’t it?”

She nodded.

“We found your purse and know who you are now. We would like to ask you a few questions, now you don’t have to answer us if you don’t want too and you can have a lawyer if you want.”

She shook her head no.

Gallagher and O’Neil left the interview room and received a call from the crime scene guys. They turned up a video recording system in the room where the old man was found.

“Don’t touch anything. We need to get a search warrant.” The detectives called the District Attorney to get the okay for the search warrant application for the house and for Teresa’s residence. While awaiting approval the detectives reviewed photographs of the crime scene.

The first two levels of the house seemed normal. It was well kept. Oddly there weren’t any pictures of family in the house. The third floor room was another story. Shackles were bolted to the walls, leather whips hung in the closet with dog collars. Boxes of sex toys filled the floor of the closet. A set of kitchen knives sat on a small book shelf. The rug in the center of the room was covered with a plastic tarp. Background checks were conducted on Teresa Burns and the victim now identified as William King.

     King’s record dated back to the seventies, with numerous petty offenses that began with five indecent exposure charges, twenty arrests for soliciting prostitutes, escalating to five aggravated assault charges in the 80’s, all dismissed when the victims didn’t show for preliminary hearings. His record was clean for the last decade. King was living off Social Security for the last twenty years. Teresa Burns had no record. The search warrant was executed on her apartment and yielded no new information on Burns, with the exception of a few pay stubs from a local bar. Burns was a bartender.

     Gallagher looked at Burns through the mirror in the interview room. Teresa Burns was forty years old, she didn’t look like an aging bartender, and her skin was fair. She had long brown hair and was a fine-looking woman. There was nothing in her apartment to indicate she lived with anyone. All John Gallagher knew was Teresa wasn’t going to talk and King was still unconscious. The 911 tape didn’t help at all and why King had a phone in that room of horrors was a mystery. The call came in at 5:30am. “I need help, my leg is bleeding and I can’t get up.” The phone went dead after that.

     Five boxes of CD’s arrived at the squad room from William King’s house. Gallagher and O’Neil placed the CD from this morning in the player. There was William King all of eighty years old dressed in leather pants and boots strutting around the room. A chain connected to his nipples by piercings and Teresa Burns fully clothed staring at him. “Come on baby, you girls like to have fun, take it off!”  Teresa Burns looked directly into the camera and didn’t say a word. King grabbed a whip, “I said take it off, do it now!” King slapped the floor with the whip. Burns just stood there on the plastic tarp. “You’re a quiet one ain’t you!”

King moved toward her, grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved her on the wall next to the bookcase. “You see those shackles there, girls love them, that’s where I am going to put you and if you don’t talk will violate you with everything I have in this room, bitch, do you hear me!” Burns didn’t say a word, she dropped to one knee. “That’s better. You belong on the ground, bitch!” King grabbed her hair, pulled her head back and exposed himself. Burns grabbed a knife off the bookshelf and plunged it into his thigh twisting it back and forth.

“Fuck, you fucking bitch!” The old man grabbed his thigh as Burns ran from the room. King fell to the ground, pulled some books from the lower shelf and picked up the phone he had hidden there.



    The detectives briefed their Captain and called the District Attorney. Assistant Robert Goldberg answered. Goldberg agreed with the detectives, it appeared to be an act of self-defense. A call came from the hospital. William King was awake.



    William King looked like a normal eighty year old man in that hospital bed. The doctor told Gallagher he had ten minutes, no more with King. Gallagher introduced O’Neil and himself to King.

“How are you feeling Mr. King?”

“I know why you are here. It was just an accident. We got carried away having fun.”

“You call that fun?”

“You like cornflakes and I may like oats. It doesn’t make me a bad sort.”

“Do you want to tell us what happened?”

“Nope, just an accident that is all.”

“We have the girl in custody.”

“Well you can let her go. I’m not prosecuting. As far as I’m concerned it was consensual.”

“Where did you meet her?”

“Believe it or not I met her at the 7-11. She smiled at me, so I asked her to come home with me and she did.”

“It was that easy for an old goat like you?”

“These girls like to have fun and I sure do.”

“What are you going to do when you get out of here?”

 “I’m not, they say I only have a few days, my heart is shot.”

    The detectives went back to the squad room and met with Teresa Burns. They told her the D.A. ruled the incident as self-defense and King wouldn’t prosecute anyway.

“Can I leave now?”

“Well, there you go. You can talk.”

“Of course I can, I’m a bartender you know.”

“Can I ask you something else?”

“No, you can’t.”

Teresa Burns began to walk to the door when Gallagher yelled to her.

“His heart is bad. He is only going to last a few days.”

Teresa Burns turned and smiled. She gave Gallagher the thumbs up and walked out the door.

    O’Neil boxed up the recordings and photos of the room of horrors to send them over to sex crimes to see if they could match anything up. Gallagher looked over the old case files they pulled on William King.  There was no connection with anyone named Burns in the files. He paged through again until he came across the name of one of the victims. Teresa Harris, age 14. The case was dropped when the family moved out of town.



The Day Levittown Changed


by g emil reutter


It was a different time and place in ’67 when people left

doors open and kids ran from house to house, filled the

streets playing stickball or in the fields playing baseball.

All was safe in the look-alike homes Levitt had built.


Mary, Bloody Mary, what were you thinking on that Holy

Thursday in ’67? Did you think of Nancy Glen gurgling in

the mud back in ’38 in West Oak Lane as you pulled the

hammer from the tool box?


Mothers cleaned up the morning dishes as children played

about the houses along the streets of look-alike houses

from Quincy Hollow to Plumbridge. Mary made her way

past all of them to Peony Lane. A Lech she lurked on the

street in her son’s clothing.


Mary, Bloody Mary, what were you thinking on that Holy

Thursday in ’67? In the darkness of your mind standing

in the morning sunshine, consumed seeking redemption

for your son’s broken engagement. Ethel just two doors

away called him a mama’s boy.


Mary slipped into the garage then the kitchen where Lorraine

was doing the dishes. Struck her with the hammer and chased

her throughout the downstairs of the house until she pummeled

her in the bedroom. She turned to the disabled Donald, striking

him over and over until he lay in an upstairs bedroom.


Mary, Bloody Mary, what were you thinking on that Holy

Thursday in ’67? What had the Mullerys ever done to you?

And what did you think as they lay in their own blood, it

splattered on your clothing?


Mary called Ethel Markham to lure her to the house but

didn’t answer the door when she arrived. Ethel returned

home and sent young Nancy back to the Mullery house.

She entered and Mary said, “You’ll do,” chased her about

the house swinging the hammer over and over again.


Mary, Bloody Mary, what were you thinking on that Holy

Thursday in ’67? Did you remember playing board games

with young Nancy?  When you fled, did you think of those

left behind or your own soul when you hid at the convent

in Alabama?


And that evening in Levittown the people mourned the

loss of those on Peony Lane. They locked their doors,

held their loved ones, and passed from a time of

innocence to fear.


Mary, Bloody Mary, what were you thinking on that Holy

Thursday in ’67?




 * In 1938, five-year-old Nancy Glen was left in the mud to die in the West Oak Lane neighborhood of Philadelphia. Mary Mammon, then known as Mary Keenan O’Connor, was acquitted of murder.


**Mary Mamon was convicted of the 1967 murder of Lorraine Mullery and assaults on Donald Mullery and Nancy Markham. She died in State Prison never stating remorse for the murders.


Art by Steve Cartwright 2015

Washing Machines and Storage Lockers

by g emil reutter


      He approached the small apartment house, brick and cinder block, the entry door was unlocked. The inside carpets were puke green and mail was on the foyer floor, the place smelled of burnt eggs. It was rare to find these doors open, he walked the floors slowly turning each knob, and all were locked until he arrived at the top unit. The Ramones were blasting from inside, he looked at the knob, passed this one by. He headed to the basement. Coin operated washers and dryers, storage units with flimsy hasps and keepers. There was just enough light to do his thing. He removed a small pry bar from the inside of his jacket, pried the coin boxes loose, and emptied the coins into a canvass bag. The first machine was easy, the other two were newer and took more time, he pried back the thin metal surrounding the box, threw the boxes intact into the bag. It was heavier than he expected, he headed for the foyer door, slipped out and placed the bag in the trunk of his car.

     The best Joey Flynn could figure there was only one person home in the building. He returned to the basement, sang along to the Ramones, and pried the largest storage unit open. Flynn smiled at his find, it looked like someone was selling on eBay from the apartments. He sorted through the stuff, a couple of lap tops, I-Phones. Flynn stacked all that he could carry on the floor. He never heard the girl standing at the door to the basement.

     She stood there, all five foot one of her, maybe a hundred pounds or so staring at him. The fluorescent lights reflected off her nose and ear rings, even a small diamond in her cheek glistened.  She was dressed in jeans, white shirt, leather vest and knee high leather boots. She didn’t say a word, just looked him up and down.  He knew she was the one listening to the Ramones, an 80’s wannabe he thought.

“I don’t mean you no harm, just let me get on my way.”

The girl remained silent, but didn’t move. Flynn picked up the boxes, he could barely see her. He walked toward the door, she suddenly spun and he felt her leather boot crunch his knee. The boxes flew across the basement, he fell to the floor, looked up at her as she kicked him in the balls. Flynn was hunched over, she grabbed him by the hair, pushed his head back and slammed an upper cut into his jaw. Flynn woke up laying belly down on the floor, his hands in cuffs.

“Where’s the money from the machines?” she asked. She placed her boot on his forehead. “Well, where is it?” Flynn told her it was in the trunk of his car parked on the street outside. With one kick she knocked him out again. She straddled him, removed the cuffs and called for the police.

       Flynn had been sitting in the county lock up for three weeks. Today he would head for his preliminary hearing. He didn’t give anything up to the cops and only faced the charges related to this apartment job. The Deputy Sherriff’s placed him in a van and drove him to the local court with five other prisoners. He walked into the court room, looked about, and didn’t see the girl. He just might walk, he thought. His case was called, he stood next to the public defender. The judge looked at Flynn, all six foot four of him standing at the bar of the court as he entered a not guilty plea. The District Attorney called his first witness, Katie Furness. A small petite woman walked to the witness stand. She was dressed in a long-sleeve white sweater and knee-high skirt and flat shoes. Her hair was long and flowed along her shoulders to her waist. The District Attorney began to ask her questions.

      Furness described how she walked in on the defendant in the basement of the apartment building she owned. She said she was speechless when she saw how tall he was. Furness said he tried to talk to her but she couldn’t answer. The coin box on one of the washing machines was broken open and two others were missing. A storage unit was broken into and he was trying to get away with a number of items.  The District Attorney asked if she was in fear. “Yes, he is a very large man and I thought he might harm me, when he walked toward me, I had no choice but to kick his ass.” Furness smiled at Flynn. The other prisoners began laughing as the judge called for order. The District Attorney said he had no more questions for the witness.

     The Public Defender approached the witness, thought of how Flynn described her, looked into her deep brown eyes and asked how she was able to fight Flynn. “I had some martial arts training and it came in handy with him.” He asked if she had handcuffs. “Do I look like the type of girl who carries handcuffs?” The courtroom erupted in laughter as the judge called for order. The public defender said he had no more questions.

     The District Attorney called two more witnesses, the arresting officer and the man who owned an eBay business. The cop testified that he found Flynn on the floor of the basement knocked out, had a property receipt for the coins and property stolen from the storage locker. The eBay man testified that Flynn didn’t have permission to enter his storage locker. The judge held Flynn on all counts. The Deputies escorted the prisoners from the courtroom, placed them in the van as one looked at Flynn. “You know this is going to get out that a little girl kicked your big ass!” The others in the van began laughing and ragged on Flynn the rest of the way to the jail. Flynn knew it was going to be a rough night in the pokey this evening.

      Katie Furness returned to her apartment, changed into jeans and a sweat shirt. She made some tea, sat on her sofa. She thought of Flynn, laughed at what a bitch he was. The sound of the Ramones filled the apartment as she put her piercings back in place.

     Joey Flynn sat in the cafeteria eating his dinner as two guys sat on each side of him. They told him they heard what happened in court and thought he might need some loving. Flynn stretched out his arms placing them on their shoulders. “You might be right fellas!” They all laughed until Flynn cupped their heads in his large hands and slammed them onto the table. The two fell to the floor as the guards grabbed Flynn and took him into solitary.  


Jim Dandy


by g emil reutter


In hardened veins, the life that was you

coagulates, thickens with each missed

breath. The chill of death is upon you.


Bacteria feast on what is left of you and I

think what were you thinking when you said

don’t embalm me, no autopsy, just put me

in a box.


You were a dandy dresser, everything was just

right. As tough as you were, your nails were

always manicured. The undertaker is not happy

as no matter how much makeup he applies you

my old friend are green.


There you lay, a rotting corpse in a box, a nicely

dressed rotting corpse, but rotting with eyes

beginning to bulge and your swollen tongue

pressing against the stitched lips of your mouth.


As they carry you out to the hearse the smell of

rotten eggs wafts about. You wanted to be one

with nature when you departed, you have succeeded.

At the cemetery they lower you down, throw the dirt

on your box.


No one will know those final hours your body

vanishes, nails and hair fall out, the organs that

gave life liquefy and finally you swell and swell

bursting open, your skeleton resting in the muck

of what once was you.



Art by Ann Marie Rhiel 2018



G Emil Reutter


    The joint had been here for over fifty years. Howie the bartender had been working the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift for twenty years. Dotty worked the 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift and had been at the joint for over thirty years. The joint had a sign out front hanging from iron supports, Carol’s. Fact was there was never a Carol who owned or worked in the joint. There were two entrances, the main and the ladies entrance that was never used. The regulars would saunter in around 7:15 in the morning. Each had a seat at the bar that was designated as theirs. There were no taps, a small selection of beer, no wine, and just a few bottles of cheap whisky. Howie would fill the peanut and cashew dispensers each morning. For a quarter you could open the tongue and get a handful of nuts. For those with finer tastes there was a jar with beef jerky in it. The joint had no kitchen. The only glasses on the back bar were shot glasses.

   Regulars would throw a five or ten-dollar bill on the bar and Howie would fill the shot glasses and place a bottle of beer in front of each of them. Their faces were leathery, noses red, eyes always bloodshot. It was a routine, four or five shots, two bottles of beer and they were ready to head out of the joint. It was a place to drink, no tables, just the bar. The juke box broke long ago and there wasn’t one complaint. In the corner there was a dart board but no darts. Dotty took away the darts after a fight over a game and one guy stuck a dart in another’s eye. It was a basement bar, no windows and smell of stale beer.

    So, the day began as normal for Howie. At 8 a.m. the suits came in on their way to the commuter station. Always the same two shots and they were gone. Neighborhood retired guys came in around 10 and stayed until 2. The talk was always the same. The nagging wives, who died last week, tall tales of working in the mills until they closed and of course how the kids never came to visit. The joint had banned talking politics years ago due to fistfights and all the regulars abided by the rules. At 4 p.m. the joint came to life as the early morning crew and the suits returned for their afternoon fix on the way home. Dotty came in at six and told Howie she had to talk to him.

“You know I’m getting old and I think I am going to have to move on.”

“Are you going to sell the joint?”

“If I do, you’ll have first shot at it, Howie.”

“I don’t know if I can come up with that kind of money, Dot.”

“If I do we’ll work something out, but I think we are going to need someone else in here or we can cut the hours.”

“Let me know what you want to do, Dot, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

    Dotty wiped down the bar and cleaned the shot glasses. A handful of evening regulars came in. She refilled the jerky jar. At eight two strangers came in, grabbed two open seats. They were in their twenties and the regulars were checking them out. They each ordered a bottle of beer. Dotty took their money and put in the cigar box under the bar right next to her Billy Club. One of them got up and stood behind the other, he eyed the door and the regulars. The one at the bar was relaxed and a hand talker.

 “Listen, old lady, we don’t want no trouble. You reach under that bar and give me your cash, and no one will get hurt.”

“You can’t come in here and ask for money!”

“But I can. My friend back there has Glock in his pocket.”

“Well then I guess I don’t have a choice.”

Dotty eyed the man at the bar. For a robber he was very calm, his hands were flat on the bar. She reached under and grabbed the box with her left hand and the club with her right.

As she placed the box on the bar, the man went to grab it, she slammed the Billy Club down upon his fingers. The man yelled as the regulars jumped on the second man. They searched him, no gun. Then they tuned him up as the first guy was yelling grabbing his swollen hand. They grabbed him also and headed to the front door.

Dotty yelled, “For Christ’s sake open the door!”

Out the door they went landing on their asses. They got up and ran off.

“Drinks on the house boys!”

At 2 a.m. Dotty locked the front door. She wiped off the bar, mopped the main floor with bleach to get rid of the blood. She grabbed the cigar box and headed up the back steps to her house.


     Dotty woke the next morning, prepared her bran and sat at the kitchen table. She giggled. Her adrenaline woke up last night, she enjoyed the encounter and it brought back memories. Dotty remembered the old days while she was listening to KYW radio. There were brawls that spilled out on the street. She enjoyed the flirting with the men but that hadn’t happened in a decade or more. Times had changed and bar brawling and drunkenness was now frowned upon. She had made adjustments at the joint and it was well known if you caused trouble you would be banned for life. Dotty always knew her advantage with the customers came down to one attraction. They were all drunks. She took her afternoon nap and at six headed down the steps to the bar.

“Hey Dot, what happened last night? Everyone is talking about it!”

“Hell, Howie it wasn’t like the old days. We just chased them off.”

“Is it true you used to have a baseball bat under the bar?”

“Sure is. As I got older, it was tougher to bring out and when the cops stopped carrying Billy Clubs, Bob the cop gave me his. It has had its uses.”

Dotty went on for an hour about the old days with stories of the old timers and how rowdy they were.

“It’s a different world today, Howie.”

Dotty told Howie she had a plan for him to run the bar. She told him he couldn’t buy the building as she lived upstairs and would die upstairs.

“You have to promise not to change anything. No improvements.”

“Tell me your plan, Dot.”

After a pause Dotty told Howie he could buy the business from her. For six months he would pay her $1500.00 cash a month. If all went well, he would pay her $2000.00 cash per month for twelve months. All payment would be due on the last day of the month. After that she would officially sell him the business for $5000.00 and transfer the business to him.

“No down payment?”

“Nope. It’s the same way I bought the joint.”

“So, when do we start this?”

“Today. I will work a month or so at night like always, but you have to find someone to come in for me to train in the ways of the joint.”

“It’s a deal Dot!”

     The next morning Dotty went shopping at the ACME. She made a turn onto the soda aisle and there in the middle of the aisle were the two guys who tried to rob her. One had a bandage on his hand and was standing look out. The other had a long coat on and was hooking cases of Red Bull to the inside of the coat. They didn’t recognize her. Dotty didn’t realize how skinny they were. She ran her cart into the one with bandaged hand pinning him against the shelf.

“Oh shit! It’s you!”

He tried to shove the cart away, but Dotty put all her weight on it and he couldn’t move. The other guy got up and ran, slipped on the floor, got up and ran again.

“Now, don’t the two of you know how to do anything else?”

“Please let me go. You already busted up my hand. You’ll never see me again!”

Dotty pulled back and watched the young man run away. She went to the checkout and out to her car to head home.

     At six she headed down the steps to the joint. She told Howie and the regulars about bumping into the robbers at ACME. They all roared with laughter.

“Are you sure you want to sell the place to me? You seem to enjoy it so much.”

“Listen, Howie and this is important, when your time comes. You can love a job, a place, and the people in a place but there comes a time when you have to know when to go”

“Thanks Dot.”

“Besides, Howie you already own the joint.”

And with that Dotty told the regulars she would be around for a month or so, but Howie now owned Carol’s.

One of the customers asked Dotty who Carol was. Dotty smiled and said she didn’t know, no one ever told her.


g emil reutter is a writer of stories and poems. Nine collections of his poetry and fiction have been published. He can be found at:

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