Black Petals Issue #104, Summer 2023

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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

Eric Burbridge: A Question of Money

104_bp_questionofmoney_mikedavis.jpg
Art by Michael D. Davis 2023

A Question of Money

 

By Eric Burbridge

 

 

          “Larry, let me solve your financial difficulties…for five million dollars let me murder you?” Rocmon asked.

          Larry Herman laughed, but the seriousness in those dark eyes made his heart sink. How did he know his situation? “You’re kidding, right? I thought we were friends.”

“We are and no, unfortunately, I’m sick too, but it’s different.”

Jesus! He’s a rich psychopathic killer or a sick practical joker. Larry was a sick man, a sick man who took care of himself down through the years. A health nut he was not, but he had excellent muscle tone and those periods of physical abuse; drinking, drugging and too much sex with strangers, were few and far between. Inoperable and uncurable cancer entered his life at the age of forty-five and it made him a desperate man, but not bitter. What good would it do? He had a small circle of friend’s people would die for; from the intellectuals to a billionaire, Ernest Rocmon, the guy with NBA height, hands and a vise grip handshake, which he apologized for after each and every formal introduction, they got especially close. Both exchanged what others called sick imaginative story plots any fiction writer would envy.

          Larry sighed and leaned back on the concrete and wood bench where their group met. A man with Rocmon’s resources could find out anything; a person’s medical record would be simple. Did he want to watch the life leave his body perhaps with a smile?

          No way you sick shit!

*

          It was a pleasant fall day and the autumn-colored leaves fell quickly and the brisk breeze scattered them everywhere as Rocmon approached. A fist bump took the place of a handshake. Larry crossed his legs, reached in his pocket and took out a silver flask. “Care to join me,” and turned it up.

          “Sure.” They stared at the wildlife in and around the lagoon for a brief moment. “You’ve lost a lot of weight, you’re pale and the family’s having problems.”

          “Whose doesn’t?” Larry snapped. He still had a hard time believing what his friend asked. “Not only are you crazy, but clairvoyant too, right?”

          Rocmon smiled. “No, my friend, I try to help. You got questions…ask them.” Larry didn’t know where to start. His lips parted, but nothing came out. “Better yet, I got an idea, I’ll deposit the money in a trust for you, everything will be taken care of for your family and they will have no worries. If in the next few months, you don’t want to do it, I’ll leave you alone, but you spend any of it there’s no turning back…deal?”

          “Could I ask a question?”

          “Go ahead.”

          “What do you get out of this, obviously you’ve done this before?”

          Rocmon sighed. “Listen to me, I’m being merciful, charitable and quenching my thirst for the taking of another person’s life. I feel powerful; the look in their eyes as I absorb the life out of a useless shell that’s no longer worthy of existence. And remember this, I got everything covered, all the questions you can think of I have answered but, by all means try to figure it out if that makes you feel better.”

          Larry shook his head in disgust. “That’s sick, Rocmon.”

          “But I can afford it…deal or not?” Larry’s would be murderer extended his fist.

          His fist trembled slightly. Would he regret that or what? “Ok…deal.” He had his work cut out for him not letting temptation get the best of him, but he would keep it simple.

*

          Day in and day out Larry thought about the proposal…those dollars deprived him of many a night’s sleep. Questions that had to be answered: how would he kill him? Would it be strangulation or a bullet? What if he killed himself? What if he ran or killed him first? What if he told the cops? Damn the questions…take the money, you’re dying. His fate and love of family put him in this situation. They deserved it, even though his son got in serious trouble with the law and his wife was having an affair. He could not blame her. She was exhausted from waiting on him hand and foot. Soon the pain would be unbearable, but his brain functioned fine and he had a little fight left.

          The tall middle-aged financial advisor asked, for a second time, was he ready to talk.  “Yes, I’m ready to do business.” She smiled and he followed her to her office. With his finances set up the way he wanted, now he knew how it was to be a dead man walking.

*

          Larry sat at his favorite spot looking out at the lagoon. He enacted his final plan. The morphine fentanyl mix was doing its job, the euphoria and numbness set in, but he felt someone nearing. This is it, Larry! He spun around when he heard twigs snap. Rocmon’s tremendous grip crushed his windpipe and spit flew out his mouth. He couldn’t breathe! The bones severed the nerves when he was lifted off the bench; he felt nothing as his frail body dangled. He shut his bulging eyes, tight. Keep them shut! “Look at me…look at me!” Rocmon hissed, shaking his neck. No…hell no! You won’t get the satisfaction. As life left his body a blackness approached, he had never seen before and here it was…

 

The End

Eric Burbridge has been writing short fiction for years. He has written a collection of stories and he is currently working on a novel, but his passion is short fiction.

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