Yellow Mama Archives II

Joe Surkiewicz

Acuff, Gale
Ahern, Edward
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Aronoff, Mikki
Ayers, Tony
Baber, Bill
Baird, Meg
Baker, J. D.
Balaz, Joe
Barker, Adelaide
Barker, Tom
Barnett, Brian
Barry, Tina
Bartlett, Daniel C.
Bates, Greta T.
Bayly, Karen
Beckman, Paul
Bellani, Arnaav
Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
Beveridge, Robert
Blakey, James
Booth, Brenton
Bracken, Michael
Burke, Wayne F.
Burnwell, Otto
Campbell, J. J.
Cancel, Charlie
Capshaw, Ron
Carr, Steve
Carrabis, Joseph
Cartwright, Steve
Centorbi, David Calogero
Cherches, Peter
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.
Dinsmoor, Robert
Dominguez, Diana
Dorman, Roy
Doughty, Brandon
Doyle, John
Dunham, T. Fox
Ebel, Pamela
Fagan, Brian Peter
Fillion, Tom
Fortier, M. L.
Fowler, Michael
Galef, David
Garnet, George
Garrett, Jack
Graysol, Jacob
Grech, Amy
Greenberg, KJ Hannah
Grey, John
Hagerty, David
Hardin, Scott
Held, Shari
Hicks, Darryl
Hivner, Christopher
Hoerner, Keith
Hohmann, Kurt
Holt, M. J.
Holtzman, Bernard
Holtzman, Bernice
Holtzman, Rebecca
Hopson, Kevin
Hubbs, Damon
Irwin, Daniel S.
Jabaut, Mark
Jermin, Wayne
Jeschonek, Robert
Johns. Roger
Kanner, Mike
Karl, Frank S.
Kempe, Lucinda
Kennedy, Cecilia
Keshigian, Michael
Kirchner, Craig
Kitcher, William
Kompany, James
Kondek, Charlie
Koperwas, Tom
Kreuiter, Victor
Larsen, Ted R.
Le Due, Richard
Leotta, Joan
Lester, Louella
Lubaczewski, Paul
Lucas, Gregory E.
Luer, Ken
Lukas, Anthony
Lyon, Hillary
Mannone, John C.
Margel, Abe
Martinez, Richard
McConnell, Logan
McQuiston, Rick
Middleton, Bradford
Milam, Chris
Miller, Dawn L. C.
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
Myers, Beverle Graves
Myers, Jen
Newell, Ben
Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
Park, Jon
Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Plath, Rob
Potter, John R. C.
Prusky, Steve
Radcliffe, Paul
Reddick, Niles M.
Reedman, Maree
Reutter, G. Emil
Riekki, Ron
Robson, Merrilee
Rockwood, KM
Rollins, Janna
Rose, Brad
Rosmus, Cindy
Ross, Gary Earl
Rowland, C. A.
Saier, Monique
Sarkar, Partha
Scharhag, Lauren
Schauber, Karen
Schildgen, Bob
Schmitt, Di
Sesling, Zvi E.
Short, John
Simpson, Henry
Slota, Richelle Lee
Smith, Elena E.
Snell, Cheryl
Snethen, Daniel G.
Steven, Michael
Stoler, Cathi
Stoll, Don
Surkiewicz, Joe
Swartz, Justin
Taylor, J. M.
Temples. Phillip
Tobin, Tim
Traverso Jr., Dionisio "Don"
Turner, Lamont A.
Tustin, John
Tyrer, DJ
Varghese, Davis
Verlaine, Rp
Viola, Saira
Waldman, Dr. Mel
Al Wassif, Amirah
Weibezahl, Robert
Weil, Lester L.
Weisfeld, Victoria
Weld, Charles
White, Robb
Wilhide, Zachary
Williams, E. E.
Williams, K. A.
Wilsky, Jim
Wiseman-Rose, Sophia
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zackel, Fred
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zeigler, Martin
Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark

So Long, Sonny


by Joe Surkiewicz



Hey, Sonny, sorry I’m late. Beltway was a bitch, the usual clusterfuck around Towson.

       Don’t look like I missed anything, though. It’s still viewing hours. I didn’t make too much of a racket pulling in. Lady at the front desk was nice, took my helmet.

        Look, I even found a tie, nearly matches my jeans. Not too many other folks here. Guess I missed the rush, huh?

       You’re looking good, man. They did a good job. You know, considering. 

       I know you woulda rather gone out different. “Outlaw Motorcycle Club Leader Killed in Hail of Bullets After 100 Mph Police Chase.” Instead of, “Toyota Highlander Slips Off Lift, Crushes Grease Monkey During Snow Tire Swap.”

       Guess we can’t choose the way we go out. At fifty-six, I know you were hoping for more. Not wrenching at a gas station. Honorable work. Shitty pay.

       Talking about shitty pay—remember that warehouse job right after we quit high school? The new assistant manager, ex-Marine, gung-ho and a crew cut and busting everybody’s ass as we unloaded a tractor trailer?

       That jerk leaned in close to you, what did he say? Right. Why grow on your face what grows natural around your asshole?

       If memory serves, that was a fifty-pound sack of fertilizer you dropped on his foot. You mouthing “Sorry” as that hardass hopped around, me laughing so hard I nearly puked.

       Gotta ask, was it worth it? You fired on the spot, me getting notice a week later? Fuckin’ A, it was worth it. I learned a valuable lesson that day, Sonny, and I got you to thank. You can laugh at authority, but you gotta do it behind its back. 

       I know you feel bad about that stretch I served, eighteen wasted months out of my life. But it wasn’t just you. There were other factors. Like that gun. That wasn’t you, that was me. Shoulda tossed it.

       I know the pigs saw your scooter, and I got collared after they tailed you and found me instead. But it wasn’t your fault. Anyway, my stature in the club went way the fuck up after I got sprung—a made man, all that shit.

       Then dealing ground to a halt after the big boys moved in. The club scene just ended up a good excuse to ride bikes on the weekend and terrorize the countryside.

       But it was you, man, who sponsored me. It was you helped me earn my colors, stood with me when I bought my first hog, rode with me on club rides up and down the East Coast and deep into West Virginia. Fightin’ and fuckin’, although that dropped off considerably the last couple years.

       And that other lesson. I will never, ever, over my dead body, cross my heart and hope to die, knock on wood—hey, real mahogany—go back to stir. I even got a damn job, nine to fucking five, service manager at a Harley dealer.

       But not you. Not Sonny Colbrelli. Boozing and selling dope and petty crime and dead-end jobs to the end. A free motherfucker.

       Before I forget, I brought you something. Nobody’s looking, so I’ll just slip this into your jacket pocket. This yours? Nice fit. There ya go, a little libation for when you reach the other bank.

       Dude, it’s been great. Getting to be closing time. In fact, it’s just me and you. Cold as shit in here. They really got the AC cranked. Joint’s in the left breast pocket, don’t forget.

       One final adjustment. I know you wanna give the world a final send-off. Let ‘em know what you really think. Wow, cold fingers. I’ll just curl these in, just so. And now this hand.

       There you go. Two extended middle fingers, a final fuck you to the cold, cruel world as they slide you into that furnace.

       You didn’t know? It’s a whole lot cheaper.

       See you on the other side.



Two Down


by Joe Surkiewicz



Roland Risotto downshifted, swerved into the mini-mart’s empty lot, and parked his bike in front of the double doors.

       Two in the morning. Valentine’s Day.

       Inside, he was greeted by a cardboard display presenting a cornucopia of greeting cards, candy, and other holiday items, all sporting a heart motif. 

       It beckoned:

       ―show that you remember.

       ―take a moment to demonstrate you care. 

        ―don’t be a schmuck.

       Most important, Roland thought, as he perused the display, do not pull a repeat of last year.

       Two minutes later, a cat-themed card and an assortment box of chocolates in hand, Roland moved to the candy aisle.

       Bingo. Payday—peanuts and nougat. He hadn’t seen them in years. Roland picked up two bars and approached the clerk.

      “Eighteen eighty-five,” said the kid behind the counter, after ringing him up. “Need a bag?”

      “Mucho gracias.”

      Roland turned as the double doors opened. A man walked in, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Richard Nixon.

       He had a gun in his hand.

       Roland groaned.

       “Hands over your heads! This is a stickup!”

       Roland raised his arms. His bag, weighed down by the box, the Paydays, and an impulse buy of bottled water, swung against his head.

       “Can I put my bag down? It’s kinda heavy―”

       “A comedian. A comedian with a Harley.”

       Nixon walked to the counter and shoved a cloth shopping bag at the clerk. “Fill ‘er up.”

       Turning, he said, “You Roland Risotto? Ride with the Pagans?”

       “I don’t know you and can I put my bag down?”

       “Set it on the counter and raise your fuckin’ hands and no sudden moves. And you, register guy, do your thing.”

       Roland said to the clerk, “I don’t know this guy.”

       The clerk said, “I think he’s wearing a mask.”

       “You know who Richard Nixon was, right?”

       Nixon said, “Shut the fuck up and empty the register.”

       To Roland: “You’re a Pagan, right? The mother club outa Hyattsville? I’m sure I’ve seen you.”

       “Pagan? I’m Catholic.”

       “Naw, man, a one-percenter. You got outlaw biker written all over you.”

       Nixon leaned in and said, sotto voce, “Damn, Roland, it’s Chuck Sloat. I applied three times and got the blackball. You the motherfucker who had a hard-on for me?”

       “I quit the club. Sloat? Sure, I remember. Wasn’t me.”

       “C’mon, Roland, level. If it wasn’t you, who’d I piss off?”

       “This is not a confidence I usually share—club bylaws and all that—but under the circumstances, it was Rooster Ekimov.”

       Sloat took the money bag from the clerk and motioned Roland toward the door with the gun. “Why’d that cocksucker block me?”

       Roland shrugged. “Rooster did things the way Rooster did things.”

       At the door, Sloat picked up a giant bag of tortilla chips with his free hand. The money bag was clamped to his side by his left arm. The gun in his right hand was pointed at Roland.

       Sloat said, “How many blackballs does it take?”


       The money bag slipped down toward his waist. Sloat struggled not to drop it or the chips, the gun waving in the air.

       Roland said, “Allow me.”

       “Thanks,” said Sloat, and handed him the gun.

       Roland pointed it at Sloat’s throat and fired.

       He walked back to the register. The clerk, rising from behind the counter, said, “He didn’t strike me as outlaw biker material.”

       Roland snorted and picked up his bag.

       “Valentine’s Day. For my girlfriend.”

       “You better go. Cops are on the way.”

       Roland got to the entrance, stepped over Sloat, and pushed against the door. He turned to the clerk.

       “You do know who Richard Nixon was, right?”

       “Wasn’t he president before the black guy?”

       Roland raised the gun and shot him.

       Some people don’t deserve to live, Roland thought, as he climbed on his bike.

       Two down.



Joe Surkiewicz lives in northern Vermont. His fiction has appeared in Yellow Mama; Horror, Sleaze, Trash; and Shotgun Honey.

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