Yellow Mama Archives II

Jacob Graysol

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
Flynn, James
Fortier, M. L.
Fowler, Michael
Galef, David
Garnet, George
Garrett, Jack
Glass, Donald
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.
Price, Liberty
Proctor, M. E.
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.
Stanley, Barbara
Steven, Michael
Stoler, Cathi
Stoll, Don
Surkiewicz, Joe
Swartz, Justin
Taylor, J. M.
Taylor, Richard Allen
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

Hate and Love




Jacob Graysol



Millie woke and massaged her temples. Sunbeams framed drawn shades. Afternoon? She turned; her blue bandanna covered the clock. Another anxiety blackout? What’s the last thing . . . the morning meeting with Simon’s spineless principal!

She rubbed her neck. Advil!

She slipped on her terry robe and stepped into the hallway. Simon’s door was closed. Past four already? She approached and knocked. “How was school, sweetie?” She grabbed his doorknob. Locked!

Millie’s eyes watered. “Did Nick bully you again?”

Silence, still, as usual. He’d have swept his desk clear and laid his head on his arms, crying.

“Focus on your friends. Nobody who matters cares about your ear.”

She felt the slim key through her pocket, then dropped her hand.

“Simon, I’ll respect your privacy”—she wiped off tears—“but talking always helps.”

Mousy Moorehead! He set up today’s meeting after last week’s threats, then gave Nick a warning after his hollow apology. Another warning!

“I’ll make sundaes.”

She waited, then bit her lip. Refusing ice cream? Nick must’ve pulled his worst.

Bang! Bang! Bang! A fist pounded the front door. “Police, Mrs. Gold!”

She yelled to Simon. “It’s the police! Maybe they’ve arrested Nick.”

She ran downstairs and opened the door for a muscular patrolman.

“Millie Gold?”


“Earl Broderick, ma’am. There was an incident at the middle school—”

“I told Moorehead leniency would only encourage Nick Marden. Mousy dismissed them both to Woodshop.”

He nodded. “I need to ask about afterward.”

“Simon’s decompressing. I give him alone time when he’s upset. You understand, with kids.”

Broderick raised his left eyebrow. “It’s urgent we sort this out.”

“Then I’ll fill you in. In elementary school, Simon’s microtia was a curiosity, not a curse.” She brushed her left ear. “And it’s barely noticeable now, with the surgery. But Nick’s been calling him ‘half-head’ since September, shoves him in the hallway, and scorched his coat.”

“The captain’s interviewing Nick—his father gave permission.”

“Of course. Now his parents respect authority. They skipped our meeting, wouldn’t face that Junior’s a hateful delinquent. Don’t trust what Nick says.”

“We tried calling here, about talking to Simon—”

“I silence my phone when I get migraines.”

“—and to you.”

“Me? Sure.”

“Someone pulled the woodshop fire alarm fifteen minutes after your meeting. Was it Simon?”

“Why would he . . .” Her jaw dropped and she grabbed Broderick’s shirt. “Was Simon hurt?”

Broderick windmilled his right arm, breaking her grip. “Ma’am!” he yelled, red-faced. “Don’t do that!”

She held out her hands. “I—I’d never hurt anybody, especially a policeman. Just tell me what happened at school.”

Broderick brushed down his shirt. “Right, school. The alarm caused a big commotion, everyone packing the halls. And the shop teacher was focused on securing the flammables, following protocol.” He paused. “Mrs. Gold, were you still in the building then?”

His narrative evoked forgotten memories, like yesterday’s dream. “I was. . . . I left with everyone else . . . so crowded. . . . Some of the kids were yelling.”

Broderick’s phone chimed. He tapped it, muttered, “From the captain,” then looked back at her. “Mrs. Gold, I have to come in now.”

“But Simon’s been through—”


“Fine! Seeing the police take this seriously might help, anyway.”

She led him upstairs. “If only the Mardens taught Nick consideration, or Moorehead meted out consequences. . . .”

She gestured to Simon’s door.

Broderick rattled the knob, then scowled at her.

“It’s his safe space. Just knock.”

He locked this?”

“I’ve allowed it, since the bullying.”

Broderick shook his head, turned back toward the door, then stooped and stared.

Millie followed his gaze to a crimson speck. “Simon’s bleeding!” She reached into her pocket, then fumbled with the key. “We’re coming, sweetie!”

When the lock popped, Broderick burst in, stepped to the desk, and held up his phone. Millie followed, then froze, dropping the key.

Simon wasn’t there, yet his desk had been swept clear, clear except for three items: his clock, sixteen red LEDs displaying 12:15; the nub of an earlobe, matching the scoring knife’s gash in Nick Marden’s photo on the cop’s phone like a puzzle piece; and her cursive on a stained sheet of paper, Nick will never tease you again.






Jacob Graysol


Billy passes as one of the diehards who ventures out in the winter nights to gaze at Edison Tower, aiming his battery-less phone, feigning clicks, having shortly before left the museum through the same door he’d busted to get in.


That was the plan.


But his backpack should be bulging with two fireproof, waterproof boxes, and he shouldn’t have a gash in his right glove. Better not have left blood.


He gets in the car and preempts my tirade with an outburst of his own. “You screwed up, Lee! There wasn’t a cam lock on that cabinet, it had an electronic deadbolt! I nearly sliced my hand forcing it open!”


He waves in my periphery as I focus on the road.


“And there were no records inside,” he says.


“No whats?”


“Edison’s first recordings. Just some old parts and boxes of knickknacks.”


“You grew up in Edison and never went to the Thomas Edison Museum? His lab was there!” I turn right.


“Yeah, yeah. The light bulb, the phonograph.”


“You idiot! Early recordings were on cylinders. Those knickknacks would’ve fetched enough Bitcoin to buy a couple of Cadillacs.”


“What did you call me?”


“An idiot!” I shake my head. “We could circle back if—”


“I’m no dimwit.”


“Do you think that new lock was alarmed separately from the phone line I had you cut?”


“At least I know the difference between ignorance and stupidity.”


“Then focus, ignoramus!” I slow down before Dellwood Road. “Should we backtrack or not?”


“Quit the insults. If I’d planned this job, I would’ve given clear instructions.”


I slam the steering wheel and continue straight. “You think staring at a fortune and leaving it behind isn’t your fault at all? A smart person would’ve asked questions if he didn’t understand something. A curious person would’ve visited the only museum in his hometown. Ignorance is usually caused by stupidity—”


“Don’t call me—”


“—which is clearly the case now.”


I fume, and both of us stay silent until I start pulling into my garage. Billy says, “You’re sure no one will remember my car’s been parked at the Fix-It?”


“There are always different cars there overnight.”


“And this will be our last job together?”


“That’s for sure, Einstein.”


“Then I’m coming in for the evidence burn.”


I huff. “Fine.”


I close the garage door and we get out of the car. Billy puts the backpack on the ground, takes off the black coat, hat, and gloves I’d bought and piles them together on the hood, then retrieves his coat from a hook.


“Make sure your own gloves are on before you come in.”


“I’m not stupid!”


That time I hadn’t meant it.


I say, “Stay here a minute. I’ll double-check that the shades are drawn and start the fire.”


I’d left the wood and wax starters stacked to burn and get back to Billy quickly. He’s wadded the robbery outfit and backpack in his arms and holds the tools in his hands. I lead him in, then nod to the bathroom. “Steel in the tub. I use straight vinegar for any residue that’s stuck.” He’s gentle with the crowbar but clunks the hammer and screwdrivers. “Careful!” Careful, moron!


We continue to the hearth. He kneels with the pile and hands me the clothes. I toss the hat and gloves into the flames, then cut the coat into strips with shears.


“The backpack’s completely empty?”


“Otherwise, what? I’m a dope?” Billy unzips it, puts both hands in, then pulls out four brown-wax cylinders pressed together with the fingers of his left hand.


“You said—”


I raise the shears as Billy brings up a silenced pistol with his right hand. He smirks. “I’m thinking one Cadillac is all I need, and a boat. Or would that be stupid?”








Brett voted in the elementary school gym, then followed the lilliputian hallway to the cafeteria for the volunteer recognition breakfast.

Principal Newman always honored Brett last. “Many are surprised that Georgia’s most dedicated volunteer isn’t a parent. But I saw it coming: his third-grade essay was Robin Hood Belongs in Heaven. Now, he captivates the kids with his nature presentations, concealing that his expertise comes from being an exterminator.”

Brett laughed at the bad joke with the crowd. Deception wasn’t the worst skill he’d honed.


“No! No! No!” Brett yelled at the Restaurant for Sale sign in front of Seymour’s, smacking his steering wheel. Never should’ve counted on that slacker to go the distance, he thought. Only opens for four dinners a week …

He fumed until he reached Possum Hill, then calmed down and plotted. He returned to the restaurant at three and rang the service-door bell.

“Congratulations, Seymour! Retiring young?”

Seymour chuckled. “Semi-retiring. This place sucks most of my time, but internet sleuthing for the banks earns me more—all those white-collar crimes—so I figured, just work seaside.”

“I’m jealous. How about one last deal, a free inspection if you’ll recommend me to the next owner? Freezing nights bring mice.”

“Sorry, I’m swamped, and you marked me critter-free at the quarterly check. That’ll do to close the sale.”

“Come on, Seymour. I’ll be done inside before the ovens get warm, and won’t bother anyone from the crawl space.”

Seymour huffed. “Shouldn’t refuse free.”

Brett went to the pantry and was finishing behind the shelves when KISS started blaring. He found Seymour trimming zucchini, shouted his name, and gave a thumbs-up.

Seymour nodded back.

Brett went out to the front of the restaurant and donned goat-leather gloves. The crawl space was long but narrow, closed in with cedar-stained latticework and buffered from the parking lot by a strip of myrtle and a central stairway.

Brett opened hinged panels on the side. With four feet of clearance and a checkerboard of sunlight shining through the lattice, he could crawl in without waiting for his eyes to adjust. But the silty soil sloped up gradually from the front, leaving the back shallow and dim. Bass tones throbbed through the floor.

When he got behind the steps, he crept right, concrete closing in from above. He pulled out his flashlight and scanned the slab’s underside for his yellow blotch, then took the hand spade off his tool belt and began digging. He soon yanked up a clear plastic bag and removed five velvet pouches. Even gloved, he could identify the pieces of jewelry by touch, remember when he stole each one, whose house, which room. His only regret now was greed, burying the larger jewels for years instead of fencing them hot, for less.

Suddenly, the pouches brightened and he was casting a shadow. He turned and blinked against the glare from a cell phone recording a video. “Shut that off!”

“I knew it was you,” Seymour said.

Brett shaded his eyes. “What was me?”

“Cut the crap.” Seymour turned off the light. “I helped my cousin cater the Atlanta Opera Gala, and when we came out to restock the flambé trolleys, I spotted you at the high-bidder table with Anna Netrebko. Made no sense, exterminator gushing money, so I pulled your credit report: no mortgage, no delinquencies, yet your credit cards come from those rip-off companies that cater to deadbeats. You’re hiding income. Lots. Dug deeper, and found the pattern of a thief.”

“Nonsense! Your bank job has you imagining crooks.”

Seymour waved his phone. “It’s undeniable now. You know, before you insisted on reinspecting here today, I’d thought you’d pay ten percent to keep me from sending that credit research to the cops. That was really how I could afford to move.”

“Through extortion?”

“I suppose. But recording you retrieving your stash, at my restaurant—that makes me a fifty-fifty partner. I’m going beachfront!”

“You expect me to accept half?”

“Hey, if I were a killer, or worried you were, you’d be accepting a cleaver in the back.”

“I’ve done all the work!”

“Oops! Almost uploaded the file!”

“OK! OK! Just give me a minute.”

“What for?”

“Uh …” Brett swept the higher ground with his flashlight. “There are two more.” Brett tucked the pouches into his chest pocket, kept the bag in his right hand, and held his light in his mouth. He crawled farther in, angling to conceal the excavations from his blackmailer. When he finished, he twisted the bag closed. “Let’s go.”

Brett crawled quickly, closing the gap to eight feet as Seymour neared the opening. “Wait!” Brett called. Seymour turned, and Brett kept approaching. “I handpicked you.”

“I had the largest crawl space?”

“I needed the right person.”

“You chose poorly. And stay there, I’m leaving first.”

Brett stopped, momentarily, then edged closer as he talked. “I needed someone who wouldn’t stumble upon the jewelry.” He pulled out a twelve-carat ruby ring and made it gleam in a sunbeam. “Someone who’d confided in his exterminator.” Brett pocketed the gem and planted his left hand on the ground. “Someone afraid of snakes!” He thrust the plastic bag three feet from Seymour’s eyes, an eastern garter and foot-long Dekay’s writhing, freshly extracted from their winter burrows.

“Aah! Take those away!” Seymour turned, but Brett lunged and grabbed his ankle.

“Drop the phone, Seymour!”

“Let go!” Seymour kicked, but couldn’t break free.

“Ten percent to keep mum, and you’re safe.”


“The copperhead’s slithering between your legs!”

“OK! OK!” Seymour tossed his phone. “Get rid of them!”

Brett released his victim and smashed the phone. When he reached daylight, Seymour was shuddering.

“Y-you nearly killed me! I should call the police.”

“Just scared you. And apparently can’t trust you…. The new deal is ten grand a year, which’ll reach ten percent eventually, if you don’t rat me out.”

Seymour shook his finger at Brett. “If I find one snake—”

Brett held up his hands. “No more snakes.”



Edit Text

Jacob Graysol ( lives and writes in central New Jersey. He wrote the lawyer-laden police procedural Righteous Judgment, and published its sequel, Righteous Endeavors, in February, 2020. His flash fiction has been published by Yellow Mama (#92 & #95), as well as Every Day Fiction, Mystery Tribune, and Reflex Press (UK).








Jacob Graysol


Hope took the ten-thousand-dollar down payment from the box and looked for the mark on the band. “5x” meant fifty thousand, her rate for a single hit with body disposal. “10x” covered complications or special requests. This one read “50x.”




Hope parked at the North Hollywood CostClub, checked her wig, and put on oversized tortoise-shell sunglasses. As she approached the black Escalade, she recognized Eli Topalov of the Danube Syndicate. She climbed into the back seat and closed the door. “No, I won’t kill your boss and make it look like an accident, and I’m keeping the ten grand, for saving you from an agonizing death.” She grabbed the door handle to leave.

“That’s not what I want for Gregor. Something smarter. You’re the only freelancer I’d trust to think of everything.”

Hope crossed her arms and leaned back. “Go on.”

“I want him framed for murder.”

She stared at distant power lines slicing the sky. “I can’t keep Gregor from knowing he’s been set up, and he’ll assume it’s your doing.”

“Screw what he thinks; the half-million is to finesse it so nobody believes him. The charges have to stick, and you have to stomach whacking a civilian, not one of the bums on my list who deserve it.”

Hope thought for another minute, then nodded. “Oh, she deserves it.”




Hope still reeked of aftershave. She rang Grace’s doorbell over and over, expecting her sister had whiskey for dinner. Sure enough, Grace fumbled with the locks to open the door, then leaned on the doorframe, and struggled to focus.

“Time to settle up, Grace,” Hope said.

“I almost took care of that myself, yesterday.” Grace poked her temple with a finger gun and used her thumb to bring down the hammer. “It was the twentieth.”

“One year, seven months.”

“A long time to live with an accident like that.”

“Don’t call it an accident!” Hope balled her fists. “You were drunk behind the wheel, and now nothing can bring our parents back.”

“You think I don’t know that?”

“Then stop pretending you’re suffering more than me.”

Grace held up four fingers. “They upped my Klonopin to four milligrams. Everyone wants me alive, and numb. Everyone but you. And myself.”

Hope took a deep breath. “Come on. I’m treating you to a steak dinner. You hump an old-school mobster, that’s what you get.”

“You’re not pimping me out!”

“Not you, Grace. Me. Eighty disgusting seconds.”




Gregor screamed at his attorney. “I didn’t do anything to that slut!”

“The case file has—”

Gregor held up his hand. “Nothing illegal, I mean. She was out of her dress before I could even talk about dinner, and after we finished, I took her out.”

“You two going into The Tender Steer is on their security footage, and you leaving together.”

“Like I’ve been saying. And twenty people inside saw her devour a sirloin. After that, I drove her home—”

“Where they found her, skull cracked, and hair matted in blood.”

“Having nothing to do with me. I dropped her three houses away. Some crap about a fundamentalist landlord.”

“Contradicted by the condom in her bedroom . . . your DNA inside, hers outside.”

“We did it at my place. The freak must’ve fished it from the trash.”

The lawyer opened a folder. “Undigested beef in her stomach. Medical examiner reports she died early evening, about an hour after she ate . . . when you admitted you were at her house.”

Gregor wagged his finger. “Uh-uh. Down the street.”

“Without proof. No credible alibi until two hours after the meal.”

“I should record my dates? This is ridiculous.” Gregor slammed the table. “And those anonymous tips. Somebody set me up.”

“The coroner?”

“Someone who’d benefit . . . Eli Topalov.”

“Well, unless Eli plans to confess to murder, you either accept life without parole, or let a jury put you on death row. A paralegal huffing glue could beat me with this evidence.”



Hope brushed sand off her feet and slid the glass door open. Raul yelled to his workers, “Callense! Dama espejo!” He turned to her. “The air conditioners are in. Sunny Costa Rica outside, cool and comfortable inside. You’ll love this house!”

“You’ve made everything so easy, Raul.” She scanned the half-dozen portraits on her walls, three landscapes, and the single mirror in the hallway. “What makes me dama espejo? ‘Mirror Lady,’ right?”

He smiled and gestured to her only full-family photo, Grace and her with Mom and Dad in Maui, the picture she’d taken from Grace’s house. “I was nicknamed Mirror Boy,” he said. “I’m a twin, too.”

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