Black Petals Issue #104, Summer 2023

Editor's Page
Editor's Page
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Question of Money: Fiction by Eric Burbridge
Behold, a White Horse; Fiction by Spencer Jepma
Crawling Flesh: Fiction by Michael Stoll
Elm Weaver: N. G. Leonetti
Hunger: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Mr. Fuzzypants: Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Stop the World: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Road Less Taken: Fiction by Albert N. Katz
The Washer Woman: Fiction by Sophia Wiseman-Rose
Underneath the Sheet: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Shining Up Grandma: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Children of 666 Middle School: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Bleed: Flash Fiction by Liam Spinage
Good Times: Flash Fiction by Ronin Fox
Time Lost: Flash Fiction by Bruce Costello
Unhappy Shadow: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Cemetery Road: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Chasing Desolation: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Detroit Jurassic: Poem by Joseph V. Donaski
Colonia Somnia: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
The Precipice: Poem by Bianca Alu-Marr
Dread: Poem by LindaAnn LoSchiavo
Home Movies: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Peppermint Twist: Poem by Christopher Hivner
There's Always Tomorrow Night: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Joke: Poem by DJ Tyrer
Ceramic Duck: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Choice: Poem by Pete Mladinic
To Stop the Killing: Poem by Pete Mladinic
Reaper: Poem by David Barber

Black Petals Issue #104, Summer, 2023

This will undoubtedly be the longest, most maudlin Editor's page I will ever write. It kinda sucks, but I need to write this and get it out of my head, so please bear with me...

The era is 1950 to 1961. I’m “being raised” on a farm in Michigan and one of the things I hated most about farm life was being poor. We ate good because we had animals and a garden, but cash money? Not much. This was a culture where a seventeen-year-old boy might get a new tractor for a graduation gift, but never a new car.

One of the things I remember is how shabbily farm people treated dogs and cats. They were never allowed in the house. They were fed table scraps and a minimal amount of dog/cat food. They were expected to catch mice and rats. And woe to the dog who had the audacity to kill a chicken. He’d be taken behind the barn and shot. Buried back there, too. I actually saw farm people drown unwanted puppies in a bucket and throw them in a hole and bury them. I left for the U. S. Air Force in 1961 and never went back.

Fast forward to 1965. I’m married to one of the nicest, kindest people I’ve ever known. Our dogs and cats are like children. They are treated humanely and cared for with the best interests of the animal always in mind.

Fast forward again. It’s now 2023. Many dogs and cats have come and gone and I am once again faced with the toughest thing a pet owner can have to do. I have had Molly, a black miniature Schnauzer, for a little over fifteen years. Molly has cancer. Big, fat, aggressive carcinoma on her spleen and bleeding into her belly. We are at the vet’s, looking at the x-rays and trying to solve this dilemma. Grasping at straws, really. Wanting to hear some good news, any good news, but it is not to be had.

The Dr. says he can do surgery, a splenectomy, remove the spleen and the tumor. As soon as she’s strong enough, start her on chemotherapy. What’s the prognosis? Maybe 180 days, 270 days, at the outside. And what about her quality of life?

“Well,” he says, “you have to understand that dogs are quite good at hiding their illness. She won’t let you see that she’s in pain, if she can help it. It’s a survival instinct that goes all the way back to when dogs were all wolves. If the pack saw weakness or illness they would take down the weak and sick.”

“So she’s in pain right now?” I asked.

“I would imagine so,” he said. “And when she’s in chemo, she’ll have a life of vet visits and needles and she’ll feel miserable most of the time. There will be a few good days, but not that many.”

So I dropped the big question. “If she were your dog, what would you do?”

He sighed and said, “I’d put her down. Hardest thing for you guys. Best thing for Molly.”

So, on June 6th, (D-Day, if it makes any difference) Donna and I held Molly and said goodbye. And she knew something was going on. Knew it wasn’t good because her peeps were crying like little kids. Then the vet gave her propofol and it was like, ‘oh, thank God, I can take a nap’ and she curled up and dropped off, pain free at last. Then the other shot. The one that stopped her loving, valiant heart and his stethoscope on her chest. “She’s gone,” he said. But no, she’s never gone. Not from our hearts and our memories. Rest now, Molly. We’ll see you soon.

   So, that's the low point for my summer, hopefully and I just wanted to share that. Hope you didn't find it too upsetting. Now to the magazine. This is the 26th Anniversary issue and our Featured Writer this month is Paul Radcliffe, Paul is an Emergency RN and for that alone he has my admiration. I worked in a major trauma center in Wichita for 23 years and saw firsthand every day what folks like Paul are able to do. The ER Docs may call the shots, but people like Paul keep many a doctor from screwing up and they are the hands-on people who make things come out right.

  Michael Stoll is back with Crawling Flesh and Roy Dorman with Stop the World, both damned fine writing. Some new people are here, getting their dose of Black Petals, Eric Burbridge, Spencer Jepman and Albert N. Katz making their first appearances in our hallowed pages. Liam Spinage and Ronin Fox are also new, giving us flash pieces so we can see what they're about.

  I think as you read this issue through, you'll see why we had to close to submissions for a while. The good stuff was coming in at such a rate, I was just getting buried. We'll reopen on September first and start reading for January 2024.

  Thanks for listening to my ramblings. I'll let you get to it.

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