Yellow Mama Archives

Jason Butkowski
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
Barlow, Tom
Bates, Jack
Bayly, Karen
Baugh, Darlene
Bauman, Michael
Baumgartner, Jessica Marie
Beale, Jonathan
Beck, George
Beckman, Paul
Benet, Esme
Bennett, Brett
Bennett, Charlie
Bennett, D. V.
Berg, Carly
Berman, Daniel
Bernardara, Will Jr.
Berriozabal, Luis
Beveridge, Robert
Bickerstaff, Russ
Bigney, Tyler
Bladon, Henry
Blake, Steven
Bohem, Charlie Keys and Les
Booth, Brenton
Boski, David
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
Butcher, Jonathan
Butkowski, Jason
Butler, Simon Hardy
Cameron, W. B.
Campbell, J. J.
Campbell, Jack Jr.
Cano, Valentina
Cardinale, Samuel
Carlton, Bob
Carr, Jennifer
Cartwright, Steve
Carver, Marc
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Catlin, Alan
Chesler, Adam
Clausen, Daniel
Clevenger, Victor
Clifton, Gary
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Colasuonno, Alfonso
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Connor, Tod
Cooper, Malcolm Graham
Coral, Jay
Cosby, S. A.
Costello, Bruce
Cotton, Mark
Crandall, Rob
Criscuolo, Carla
Crist, Kenneth
D., Jack
Dallett, Cassandra
Danoski, Joseph V.
Daly, Sean
Davis, Christopher
Davis, Michael D.
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
DiLorenzo, Ciro
Dionne, Ron
Dobson, Melissa
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
Eade, Kevin
Elliott, Garnett
Ellman, Neil
England, Kristina
Erianne, John
Espinosa, Maria
Esterholm, Jeff
Fallow, Jeff
Farren, Jim
Fenster, Timothy
Ferraro, Diana
Filas, Cameron
Fillion, Tom
Fisher, Miles Ryan
Flanagan, Daniel N.
Flanagan, Ryan Quinn
Francisco, Edward
Frank, Tim
Funk, Matthew C.
Gann, Alan
Gardner, Cheryl Ann
Garvey, Kevin Z.
Gay, Sharon Frame
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Genz, Brian
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Greenberg, Paul
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Hanson, Kip
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Harris, Bruce
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Hartman, Michelle
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Hayes, John
Hayes, Peter W. J.
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Helmsley, Fiona
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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.
Keaton, David James
Kempka, Hal
Kerins, Mike
Keshigian, Michael
Kevlock, Mark Joseph
King, Michelle Ann
Kirk, D.
Knott, Anthony
Koenig, Michael
Korpon, Nik
Kovacs, Norbert
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Kowalcyzk, Alec
Krafft, E. K.
Lacks, Lee Todd
Lang, Preston
Larkham, Jack
La Rosa, F. Michael
Leasure, Colt
Leatherwood, Roger
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Leins, Tom
Lemieux, Michael
Lemming, Jennifer
Lerner, Steven M
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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
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Marcius, Cal
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McCartney, Chris
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McGinley, Chris
McGinley, Jerry
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McMannus, Jack
McQuiston, Rick
Mellon, Mark
Memi, Samantha
Miles, Marietta
Miller, Max
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Montagna, Mitchel
Monson, Mike
Mooney, Christopher P.
Moran, Jacqueline M.
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
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Nore, Abe
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Ogurek, Douglas J.
O'Keefe, Sean
Ortiz, Sergio
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Parrish, Rhonda
Partin-Nielsen, Judith
Peralez, R.
Perez, Juan M.
Perez, Robert Aguon
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Plath, Rob
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Post, John
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Powers, M. P.
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Prusky, Steve
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Purfield, M. E.
Purkis, Gordon
Quinlan, Joseph R.
Quinn, Frank
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Rapth, Sam
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Renney, Mark
reutter, g emil
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Richardson, Travis
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Ritchie, Salvadore
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Robinson, Kent
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Roger, Frank
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Rutherford, Scotch
Salinas, Alex
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Sayles, Betty J.
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Schraeder, E. F.
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See, Tom
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Shepherd, Robert
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Simmler, T. Maxim
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Spicer, David
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Stanton, Henry G.
Stewart, Michael S.
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White, Judy Friedman
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White, Terry
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Woodland, Francis
Young, Mark
Yuan, Changming
Zackel, Fred
Zafiro, Frank
Zapata, Angel
Zee, Carly
Zimmerman, Thomas

Art by Sean O'Keefe 2018

The Last Meal of Laughing Boy Reilly

Jay Butkowski


C.O. McPherson tapped on the cell bars with the butt end of his Maglite to get the prisoner’s attention.

“Rise and shine, Reilly. Today’s your big day.”

From inside the prison cell, a figure moved around in the darkness.

“Is it the day of my grand cotillion already? Heavens, and I just don’t know what to wear… Fuck you, screwhead. I know what day it is.”

Bobby “Laughing Boy” Reilly was no debutante. He was a classic bad seed. In and out of juvie hall as a kid, more time spent behind institutional walls than out. On his 18th birthday, he graduated to the big leagues by stabbing a guard in the neck with the sharpened end of a tooth brush, all the while laughing like a goddamned hyena.

On his last brief stint with freedom, he killed a judge’s daughter. Brutalized her to the point where an open casket funeral was out of the question. Cackled like a maniac at his arraignment; giggled his way straight through the sentencing. Reilly probably would have been remanded to a psych ward for the rest of his miserable life, doped out of his head on Thorazine and confined to a straitjacket, except that the girl’s father intervened and pushed for Death Row.

The minute Reilly landed on the mile, McPherson knew he was bad news. A guy like that, who laughed at the value of human life – that wasn’t someone who McPherson wanted to have long-term in his prison. Guys who show remorse for their crimes, who genuinely feel sorry about what they’ve done – they’re the ones who turn into model prisoners. Laughing Boy Reilly was an animal – unstable, unapologetic. The guard was happy to be rid of him.

“Don’t be like that, Laughing Boy,” said McPherson. “I’m here to take your last meal request. What’s it going to be? Steak and eggs? Fried Chicken? There’s a decent Italian joint up the road…”

“Gimme your pen.”

“Now, you know I can’t do that,” said the prison guard, calmly. “Regulations… You might try to hurt somebody…”

“C’mon, McPherson, I’m taking the hot squat in a few hours,” said Laughing Boy Reilly. “I ain’t even gonna see nobody to hurt ‘em. I just wanna make sure you don’t fuck up my order. Unless you want to drag me kicking and screaming to Old Sparky…”

McPherson knew that an unruly prisoner taking his last walk was a dangerous and unpredictable prisoner. He didn’t need the headache of reporting yet another excessive force incident to the warden – he was already in hot water from the last time he put a prisoner in his place – and it’s not like he could just dump Reilly unconscious in the chair before his execution. If stretching the rules a little now bought him a little cooperation later, maybe it was worth it.

“Here,” said McPherson, looking around to make sure he wasn’t being watched before he handed the writing implement through the bars. “Don’t try anything stupid.”

“Gimme your hand. I gotta write on something.”

“No chance, Laughing Boy. I’m not a moron.”

Laughing Boy Reilly let out a peel of laughter. “Can’t blame a guy for trying… but I still gotta write on something….”

“Use the TP.”

“This cheap shit?! Tears too easy…”

“Oh, for Chrissakes…” exclaimed McPherson. He rooted around in his pocket, and produced an old dry cleaning slip from the place the Mrs. took his uniforms to be laundered. He handed it to the prisoner.

“Hurry up, Reilly. I don’t got all day.”

The prisoner scrawled something on the back of the dry cleaning slip, and handed the paper and pen back, grinning like an idiot. McPherson turned over the slip to see what was written on the back.

“You gotta be fucking kidding me, Reilly. Your last meal on earth, and this is what you want?”

“Gotta go out with a laugh, right? And you better not welch!”

McPherson shook his head and left the prisoner. Hysterical laughter followed the prison guard out the block.

* * *

True to his word, Laughing Boy Reilly went calmly to his fate. He put on a good act. If McPherson didn’t know that Reilly was an unrepentant sociopath, he would have assumed a legitimate jailhouse conversion had taken place.

It was a frigid day, and the execution chamber offered nothing by way of creature comforts. It was cold enough that McPherson could see his breath while standing at attention. The priest who gave last rites shivered – whether from the cold or from coming face-to-face with Laughing Boy Reilly was up for debate. Reilly himself seemed unaffected by the temperature, as if he had ice in his lungs.

The men and women in the observation room – many of them family members of some of Laughing Boy’s victims – sat bundled up and stone-faced as the sponge was placed atop his head, the hood lowered over his face, and the head gear strapped on.

The familiar command – “Roll on one.” – was uttered, and the generators powered up. No one expected a call for clemency from the Governor’s Office – particularly not this Governor, who made his bones in Statewide politics as a crusading, tough-on-crime former prosecutor type – but McPherson couldn’t think of a single time during his watch that a last-minute pardon ever came in. The phone sat on the wall, a consistently silent witness to the last minutes of evil men. False hope for the hopeless.

“Roll on two.”

The executioner flipped the large switch on the wall, and Reilly’s body strained against the straps in the chair, as 2,000 volts passed through him. Each second of the half-minute that the voltage was turned on felt like an eternity to McPherson. The switch was flipped to the off position, and Reilly’s body became still.

McPherson held his breath as the Medical Examiner listened for a heartbeat.

“The prisoner is dead…” announced the ME.

Thank God, thought McPherson.


The medical examiner’s eyes narrowed in confusion, and then went wide with disbelief. Deep inside Reilly’s lifeless body, past his black heart, a sound came through the stethoscope. It was faint and slow at first, but it grew louder and faster.

Pop. Pop. Puh-pop Pop.

McPherson hoped it wasn’t going to work – prayed it wasn’t going to work – but Bobby Reilly got his last wish after all. With his corpse turned into a human jiffy-pop, McPherson could almost hear Laughing Boy laughing at them all the way from Hell.

In the prison guard’s jacket pocket, scrawled on the back of a dry cleaning receipt in poor penmanship and bad spelling, was Laughing Boy Reilly’s last meal request – a bag of unpopped popcorn kernels, and a cup of olive oil.

McPherson had no idea how he was going to explain this one to the warden...

Jay Butkowski is a writer of crime fiction and an eater of tacos who lives in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter Online, and his own pulp-serial imprint, Episodes from the Zero Hour!.  You can find his work online at, or on Facebook at

Art by Sean O'Keefe 2019

A Night Out at Wrath’s


By Jason Butkowski


The bass pounded a railroad stake deeper and deeper into his ear, and the strobes fired like machine guns from the stage, filling the fog-filled club air with staccato lightning bolts.

Simon was disoriented as fuck even before he accepted the little blue pill from his friend Dave. Dave was shouting something about being too rigid, or being too hard on the world – it was hard to hear the exact words over the THUMP-THUMP’ing of the electronica music, but Simon figured that he got the gist.

He popped the pill in his mouth without looking, and chased it down his throat with some concoction consisting of pineapple juice, maraschino cherry syrup, wine, vodka, and schnapps. The drink was cloyingly sweet — typical for the kitchen sink abominations served here — and Simon had to swallow twice to counter his gag reflex.

Across the bar, the guy was staring at him again.

The man in question had no business being in a place like Wrath’s. Most of the male clientele could be comfortably separated into groups: Guys who wore stupid hats. Guys who looked like Jesus, but with too much eye-liner. Guys with bad facial hair and no eyebrows. Guys who wore tank tops and dog collars. Guys who looked like Edward Scissorhands. Guys with fingerless gloves and mesh shirts. Guys who looked like what would happen if Jesus and Edward Scissorhands had a love child.

This asshole was wearing a shirt and tie. And Goddamned khakis. In fucking Wrath’s.

What the fuck was he doing there?!

It could have been the drugs talking — God knows that Simon was no stranger to chemically enhanced paranoia — but he was definitely vibing some kind of ill intent coming from across the bar. When the aged-out College Republican realized that he was found out and that Simon was staring back at him, the prick quickly looked elsewhere to try desperately to maintain his blown cover.

“Fuck this,” Simon muttered to himself. He left the main bar area and went downstairs to the dance floor, where he figured he could lose the fucker in the sea of gyrations taking place below street level.

Simon wondered what King of the Yuppies wanted with him. His imagination went wild — one minute, he thought the guy must be some elite hit man sent to kill him for an unknown offense against a Russian mob czar, and the next, shirt-and-tie guy was just a lonely, lost fucker looking to get a handjob from one of the rainbow-dreaded denizens that frequented the club.

Simon absently started grinding on a woman who looked like a middle-aged Deb from Empire Records, complete with grey shaved head. Her slender arms were raised towards the low ceiling, baggy cardigan sleeves pooled in navy blue lagoons past her elbows, her bony wrists bent as if the product of bad taxidermy.

Did the asshole follow him downstairs?

Simon excused himself and went to hide deeper into the crowd. He caught a glimpse of khaki in his periphery.

He pushed past a woman in a sheer skirt and thigh-high leather boots, and an older guy with a handlebar moustache, wearing a studded denim cutoff — the studs on his back spelled the word “Daddy.” Shirt-and-Tie seemed like he was right on his heels.

Simon ducked behind the neon drink sign at the end of the Basement Bar. He could swear he felt breath on the back of his neck. He double-backed on his path. He looked around and didn’t see any sign of his pursuer.

The chase had momentarily ended, and the hunter had disappeared into thin air.

And then, the sudden urge to piss hit Simon like a wrecking ball to the groin.

He momentarily forgot about the suburban ghost of Christmas Future, and Simon made a bee-line for the men’s room. He unzipped his jeans and stood in front of the urinal.

And that’s when the khakis walked in.

“What the fuck do you want from me?!” shouted Simon, turning to face his nemesis.

“Are you the Simon Roberts, who lives at 317 Chestnut Street?”

Simon was stunned. “... how do you know where I live?” he asked, frightened.

“You were involved in a fender bender with a Mazda last week, and you left the scene. Cameras outside the building caught you on video...”

“You’ve been served,” said the button-down menace, a piece of court documentation dangling from outstretched fingers as he extended his hand forward.

And while Simon was being served, that’s when Dave’s little blue pill kicked in. Blood flowed involuntarily. Tissues subconsciously stiffened.

Simon had unknowingly taken Viagra.

Standing in the men’s room, engorged member in hand, Simon had no idea what to say, but “sorry” as he awkwardly tried to stuff the trouser snake back in its cage.

The process server’s jaw dropped. He flung the papers and fled, Simon’s continued fumbled apologies trailing after him out the door.

The next day, Rob Smith quit his uncle’s law firm of Smith, Collins, Friedberg, LLC. Months later, he would tearfully come out to his mother, who always kind of suspected it and told her son that the family would love him, no matter what.

Today, Rob the process server lives in Vermont with his husband. They sell beeswax candles and other assorted tchotchkes from a roadside gift shop. He has mostly moved past the trauma of that fateful night in the nightclub, when, as he tells it, he was “almost violated by an over-sexed Goth Satanist with a raging hard-on and fire in his eyes.”  When he tells the story, he emphasizes that he barely escaped with his life and virginity intact, but that the fear of being found out for his secret desires led him to have the courage to live a more authentic life.

As for Simon, he stopped taking the little blue pills offered up by his friend Dave — or at the very least; Simon now remembers to inspect them before he chases them with the Franken-drinks they serve at Wrath’s.

Jay Butkowski is a writer of crime fiction and an eater of tacos who lives in Central New Jersey.  His short fiction has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama and Story and Grit magazines.  He’s a co-host of the Asbury Park Noir at the Bar reading series, and has self-published two short story anthologies through his neo-pulp imprint, Episodes from the Zero Hour!.  He’s also an editor at Rock and a Hard Place magazine, a multi-genre journal of dark fiction. You can find his work online at, or on Facebook at

Sean O’Keefe is an artist and writer living in Roselle Park, NJ. Sean attended Syracuse University where he earned his BFA in Illustration. After graduation, Sean moved to New York City where he spent time working in restaurants and galleries while pursuing various artistic opportunities. After the birth of his children, Sean and family move to Roselle Park in 2015. He actively participates in exhibitions and art fairs around  New Jersey, and is continuing to develop his voice as a writer. His work can be found online at and @justseanart on Instagram.

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