Yellow Mama Archives II

Ron Capshaw

Acuff, Gale
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Baber, Bill
Baird, Meg
Baker, J. D.
Balaz, Joe
Barker, Adelaide
Barker, Tom
Barnett, Brian
Bartlett, Daniel C.
Bayly, Karen
Beckman, Paul
Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
Beveridge, Robert
Blakey, James
Burke, Wayne F.
Campbell, J. J.
Cancel, Charlie
Capshaw, Ron
Carr, Steve
Centorbi, David Calogero
Christensen, Jan
Clifton, Gary
Cody, Bethany
Costello, Bruce
Coverly, Harris
Crist, Kenneth James
Cumming, Scott
Davie, Andrew
Davis, Michael D.
Degani, Gay
De Neve, M. A.
Dillon, John J.
Dorman, Roy
Doyle, John
Dunham, T. Fox
Ebel, Pamela
Fillion, Tom
Fortier, M. L.
Garnet, George
Graysol, Jacob
Grech, Amy
Greenberg, KJ Hannah
Grey, John
Hardin, Scott
Held, Shari
Hicks, Darryl
Hivner, Christopher
Hohmann, Kurt
Holtzman, Bernice
Jabaut, Mark
Jermin, Wayne
Jeschonek, Robert
Johns. Roger
Kanner, Mike
Kennedy, Cecilia
Keshigian, Michael
Kitcher, William
Kompany, James
Koperwas, Tom
Larsen, Ted R.
Le Due, Richard
Leotta, Joan
Lubaczewski, Paul
Lucas, Gregory E.
Luer, Ken
Lyon, Hillary
Mannone, John C.
Martinez, Richard
McConnell, Logan
McQuiston, Rick
Middleton, Bradford
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
Park, Jon
Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Prusky, Steve
Reddick, Niles M.
Robson, Merrilee
Rollins, Janna
Rose, Brad
Rosmus, Cindy
Scharhag, Lauren
Schauber, Karen
Schmitt, Di
Short, John
Slota, Richelle Lee
Smith, Elena E.
Snethen, Daniel G.
Steven, Michael
Stoler, Cathi
Stoll, Don
Surkiewicz, Joe
Swartz, Justin
Taylor, J. M.
Temples. Phillip
Traverso Jr., Dionisio "Don"
Turner, Lamont A.
Tustin, John
Tyrer, DJ
Verlaine, Rp
Viola, Saira
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Weibezahl, Robert
Weil, Lester L.
White, Robb
Wilhide, Zachary
Williams, K. A.
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zimmerman, Thomas

Out of Gas

by Ron Capshaw



It was my own fault.

It wasn’t just taking a dirt road shortcut to my sister’s house.  It wasn’t just not paying attention to the gas gauge.

It was expecting the cops to be different.

Look at him, I thought, as he got out of his police cruiser, and strutted over.  Macho with a badge.  Cowboy hat, sunglasses hanging on the outside of the front pocket of his highway patrol uniform.  Enormous gun that seemed to slap against his thigh.

It was my past walking toward me.  It could be the 1970s all over again, when the cops ran the town of Mullin, Texas; where they could search your car without a warrant (one of my friends was arrested on the spot for stating the cop was violating his civil rights); plant evidence, and arresting people for what we called DWB—- “Driving While Black.”

By now, the cop had arrived at the  driver’s side door of the car.  I couldn’t make him out because he was shining his flashlight into my eyes even though the sun had yet to go down.

I got the sense of enormous bulk.  Not fat.  Just dense.  Like a brick.

 He rapped a knuckle on the window.

“Roll the fucking window down.”

I was 17 again.

I complied.  I wasn’t about to get into an argument with a cop on a lonely dirt road at sundown.

The flashlight was still in my eyes.

From the nearness of his voice I could detect that he was leaning into the car, examining me.

He had seen my California plates.

“So, Mr. Hollywood.  What seems to be the problem?”

Like his bulk, his voice sounded solid.  Like you would hurt your hand if you tried to punch through it.

I tried for a self-deprecating smile.

“I ran out of gas.”

The cop grunted, sounding like a bull ape.

“That was stupid.”

I heard him reaching into his back pocket.

The fucker was writing me out a ticket.

“You should pay better attention.”

“You give tickets for running out of gas?”  I said incredulously.

“Yep.  Mr. California.”

A black-gloved hand came near my face holding the ticket.

I took it, and resisted the urge to crumple it into a ball and bounce it off his chest.

But this was Mullin, where men were men and cops were above the law.

“Have a good day.”

I should have kept silent, but I needed to show I still had some guts left.  That life away from Mullin had given me a spine.

“You’re not even going to help me?”

The flashlight was turned off.

With the last rays of sunlight, I saw that he was bigger than I thought.  His hat obscured his features like the Shadow’s, that 30’s era avenger of evil.

This guy didn’t avenge anything.  He didn’t have to.  Because everyone was so scared of him or had him in their pocket that no one dared to give him anything to be vengeful about.

He merely tipped his hat and went whistling back to his police cruiser.

He drove off, leaving me with my anger and self-loathing.

I should have at least talked back.

I should have flashed him my ACLU membership card and told him what a fascist he was, and how this incident would be gone over with a fine tooth comb by my lawyer.

I looked down at the ticket.  He had actually written on it,  “Driver negligently ran out of gas.”

Oddly, he didn’t write  his name or badge number on the ticket.

I leaned back.  The sun was down by now, and the crickets began chirping, and there was a gentle breeze I felt when I got out of my car.

“Fuck,” I screamed aloud.

My voice echoed.  A wolf howled.

I hit my hazard lights, hoping some kinder soul would help me.

Then I thought about the body my friends and I found in the woods so long ago, before I wrote my way out of Mullin; getting a scholarship to UCLA (“fag country” my father called it, but still made sure I could go); graduating; and then writing my way into the bestseller list.

The body had half his face shot off.  We learned, not through the three sheet local paper, who didn’t report it (we suspected they thought deep down the cops did it) but through the highly-developed rumor mill of Mullin that it was a drug deal gone wrong.

That was credible.  Because the only thing “big city” about Mullin (population, 2500 and rigorously segregated) was its drug culture.   It wasn’t just rednecks smoking pot.  We had heroin, even cocaine that anyone could get if they ventured into the black section of town.

Drug deal or not, trigger happy cops or not, I was not going to remain in my car and lose half of my face.

At least on foot, I could hide in the woods.

I went to the back of my rental car and opened the trunk.

Big surprise.

The rental company gave me a radio that could detect sound waves on Venus and plush car seats you could sink into.   But they didn’t give me a gas can.

I heard tires crunching gravel.

Him again.

He parked in front of me, and turned off his headlights.

He got out, the police cruiser buckling under his weight.

I left my hazard lights on, and as he approached they made him look like he was on the dance floor of a disco.

Hell had just frozen over.  He was carrying a gas can.

He stood in front of me.  Easily three inches taller than me and outweighing me by 50 lbs.  Built like a linebacker.

He put the gas can down in front of me and stepped away from it.

“Sorry, for my rudeness,” he said.  “I had to dump the body.  Now let’s take care of you.”



by Ron Capshaw



You had to like him.   Even when you knew what a huckster he was. There was something endearing about someone who was up front about being in it strictly for the money.

William provided the one amusing moment in the horror that was D-Day. While we were waiting to get off the landing boat at Omaha Beach to try our luck against Nazi machine gun nests, he was still selling rabbits’ feet and “good luck” coins.

His “customers” died clutching them.

I miraculously made it to the beach and through the frozen hell of the Battle of the Bulge and into Berlin without a scratch.

William was not so lucky. A Nazi sniper shot off his hand just as he hit Omaha Beach. He was looking for it in the surf when that buck sergeant grabbed him by his backpack and drug William to what passed for cover on the beach.

Just as the medic came over, the buck sergeant’s head exploded.

But the medic had seen it all and without missing a beat, bullets pinging off his helmet, was able to save William’s life, even with the blood jetting out of the stump where his hand used to be.

“Are you ready?” William said, zipping up the Bigfoot suit with the hand that stayed attached to his body. He then covered the brass zippers with fur so the camera wouldn’t pick it up.

 “Hurry up, will ya? This thing is hotter than hell,” I said.



“Just think about how rich we will be when we sell this to NBC,” he said, picking up the handheld camera he brought to lend the “sighting” some authenticity. The idea was that he would make the camera lens go all over the place because he was chasing the “creature” across the rough terrain of the California mountains.

“Remember to swing your arms like a gorilla. Then look over your shoulder at me, and then race into the woods.”

He grinned and said, “Action.”

I was good. We got it in one take.

By then, the sun was starting to go down.

 We made camp. 


Of course, we swapped war stories. Of course, we got shit-faced.

We toasted the Bigfoot suit that lay neatly folded by the tent.

Williams was out of shape in the drinking department. He passed out first.

I polished off my glass of apricot brandy and did likewise.

As usual, I dreamed about the war.

When the landing craft door opened, I dove over the side of the boat just as my comrades in front of me exploded in cloth and blood and brain matter.

Unlike the others who floated underwater past me, I was able to get my 20-pound backpack off and not drown.

I swam/crawled to the beach, Nazi bullets miraculously not hitting me.

Right when I found some cover—courtesy of-two corpses I stacked up in front of me—-I smelled a rank, sweaty smell.

That’s not how corpses smell.

I came awake, looking into the lifeless eyes of William. He died with the same expression on his face as I saw on those who had their life shot out of them on that horrid day in 1944. Confusion more than horror.

The rest of his body was several feet away.

Pieces of the Bigfoot costume were flying into the air.

 It stopped, and turned to me.

We had invaded its feeding grounds and now we were its food.

Or maybe it was mad because we pretended to be it.

Reds Under Beds


by Ron Capshaw


Stalin was going to have me killed.

In my country.  On my soil.

I felt it. 

I had a full body shudder that I intuitively knew occurred the very moment he ordered my death an ocean away.

It must have been a novelty for him to sign an execution order for an American;  a break from his late hour routine of ferociously signing those for his countrymen; even his truest believers; pausing only to take a swig from a vodka bottle and making sure some enemy had not snuck in and emptied his pistol of bullets.

It could have resulted from a careless comment I made to another agent questioning the wisdom of Stalin executing his military high command.

In my subconscious I think I was being deliberate.  That I really wanted out.  Bad.  And that was the first of several fatal moves.

I’d like to say I came out of the shadow world of what we did in Stalin’s name because of patriotism; because I wanted to write the wrongs of how I betrayed my country for over a decade.

But in the wee hours of the night, when every creak of every board in that rented Long Island beach house had me sliding my hand under the pillow for my pistol, I couldn’t fool myself with such lofty reasons.

I simply wanted to save my skin.

The government boys who gave us top secret governments were the only ones untouchable.  But we who had them microfilmed and sent to the Soviet Union weren’t.


Within 8 months, three in my original cell had “disappeared.”  I know for a fact that two of them were en route to their midnight meeting with Karkov on that DC park bench when they went missing.

It wasn’t hard to piece together what happened.  We heard the rumors.  The absence of their corpses meant they were kidnapped onto a ship bound for Russia where they would soon be screaming and begging their captors to tell them what they wanted them to say to make the pain stop in basements where stood beefy men in undershirts holding truncheons.

The third, who I knew only as “Julian,” codenamed “The Poet,” was the victim of a nighttime hit-and-run.  No witnesses.

Conclusion:  Stalin’s paranoia was not satisfied by Russian blood.  He needed fresh foreign blood and he was reaching across the ocean to get it.

I defected quietly and intended to re-emerge publicly.  I stopped meeting Karkov and as “David Gregory,” codenamed “Writer,” forever left my Washington DC apartment with the radio transmitter and the code book underneath a loose floorboard.

I needed to be “known.”  I wanted to have a lot of light on me to discourage Stalin from having me suspiciously killed.  If he did, at least there would be questions asked.  Leads followed.

Through a journalist friend from Columbia University days who knew what I was but hopefully didn’t know the sickening things I did, I let  Congress know  I would appear in open session and expose communist moles in the State Department in exchange for immunity from prosecution and a new identity.

They agreed.

That was why I was now on the DC streets on foot and en route to testify on a cool Spring day.

That was when I saw him.

He was dressed as a hep-cat.   Shirt open at the neck, pointed collar.  Dingy double-breasted suit.  Unfashionably long hair in that year of our Lord 1938 that almost reached his collar.

The last person you would think of as a Communist assassin.

Which meant he was.

But he himself was followed.  I may have a friend.

The follower was FBI to the core.   Sedate dark-colored suit.  Shoes shined to another dimension; things all demanded by J. Edgar of his agents.  That was why we were able to get away with what we did.  Because the FBI was too busy shining their shoes to notice what we were funneling to Stalin.

I stopped at a store window, and briefly glanced at Hep Cat.  He stared at me and then nodded to someone ahead of me.

The “someone” was carrying an umbrella even though it was a clear spring day in DC.


The umbrella had a poison tip on it and its owner would casually tap me on the leg with it as he passed by me…  And when I fell to the ground in a seizure,  he would bend down and yell for a “doctor.”  Even if a doctor was within shouting range, I would be dead in seconds.

Another conclusion:

I had misjudged Stalin.  He didn’t care how it looked that I had a heart attack—I’m sure the poison was untraceable—on the way to exposing him.

He’d kill me no matter where I was.  He would just as readily do it at high noon in Washington on a busy street as he would in a dark alley.

I hurriedly turned away from the Umbrella Man  and hailed a taxi to take me back to the hotel room paid for by Congress.

Then I would fade away, using the tricks Moscow taught me.

As we drove away, I looked out the back windshield of the taxi and didn’t see Umbrella Man or Hepcat or even the FBI guy.

I gave the cabbie a generous tip when we arrived at the hotel.

I didn’t see Hep Cat or Umbrella Man hiding behind a newspaper in the lobby.

Nevertheless, I took the stairs to my room.

I went in, scanned the room, looked in the bathroom shower stall, and got my suitcase out and began packing.

I took the pistol out of it, opened it and bullets spilled out onto the carpeted floor.

When I reached down to retrieve them I happened to look under my bed.

Hep Cat and the FBI guy were under it.

They both fired.

Ron Capshaw is a writer based in Florida. His novel, The Stage Mother's Club, came out in June from Dark Edge Press.

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