Black Petals Issue #106 Winter, 2023

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The Thing in the Yard: Fiction by Vincent Vurchio
A Forest Green: Fiction by Logan Williams
Clown Safe: Fiction by Taylor Hagood
Home Delivery: Fiction by Jon Adcock
Judith and Bobby Save the World: Fiction by Stephen Tillman
Many Wee Undead: Fiction by Marco Etheridge
Meat Pie: Fiction by Anna Koltes
Mexican Coffee and Burgers: Fiction by Fred Zackel
Leaving: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Ghost of the Perfect Hotdog: Fiction by Mark Miller
The Illustrated Woman: Fiction by Jen Myers
Thrice in One Sitting: Fiction by Justin Alcala
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning: Fiction by Gene Lass
AI Self-Mortification: Flash Fiction by Christopher Henckel
Correct Mistake: Flash Fiction by Eric Burbridge
A Moment of Inertia: Flash Fiction by Sean MacKendrick
Get Your Kicks on Route 666: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Let's Do Lunch: Flash Fiction by Hillary Lyon
"Three Wishes": Flash Fiction by Ronin Fox
Woodsman's Revenge: Flash Fiction by Jada Maze
To a Crow: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Estranged: Poem by Michael Keshigian
At the Terminal: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Angler's Nightmare: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Last Thirteen Steps: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Murderous Words: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
My Childhood Snapshot: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
With Vampires About: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
The Zombies are Loose: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Lil' Toe Dipper: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Scattered Pieces: Poem by Andrew Graber

Fred Zackel: Mexican Coffee and Burgers

106_bp_mexicancoffee_jess_elliott.jpg
Art by J. Elliott 2024

Mexican Coffee and Burgers

Fred Zackel

 

The Devil and his girlfriend were sleeping it off in a massive tangle of sheets and blankets in a lazy motel in southern California. She had her hand in his groin and he in hers. She was giving him dozens of tiny kisses on his right shoulder while they drowsed. He was scratching out a lazy rhythm in her groin, and disturbed she pushed his hand away.

“If I keep it up,” he mumbled, “I can make a wish upon the stars and my wish will come true.”

“Keep it up,” Rafaela said, “and I’ll see God.”

She wrapped herself deeper into the tangle of sheets and blankets.

“Do you want to sleep some more?”

She was noncommittal. But covered her head up with blankets.

Angels never slept, unless they wanted. Sleep was optional.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

“Coffee,” she maybe mumbled.

He left their bed, dressed, and went across the street to an odd hamburger stand that was open this early. The shady man behind the counter did not like having a customer like the Devil this early. He looked like he had business other than cooking burgers planned for this morning.

But he took the Devil’s order and moved to start cooking.

“Is that hot coffee I’m smelling?” the Devil asked.

“It’s Mexican coffee,” the shady cook said. “It’s very strong.”

“With two shots of espresso?”

“Yes, and cinnamon.”

“Two cups to go, please,” the Devil said. “But make them each Americano size. Huge. Massive. Add extra espresso. Make it strong. I’ll pay extra whatever it is.”

The cook was surprised and began again.

“Here’s a hundred bucks,” the Devil said. “I’ll be right back.”

Now that his order was in, the Devil turned to look around at the neighborhood. Next door was a ratty junkyard filled with oh-so-interesting hardware. Across the street was a white van that said in faded letters fish on the side. The Devil found both very curious.

He took cellphone photos of the junkyard, even entering the property to get close ups here and there. He was very interested in a man-size pile of gravel on the far side of the building. He was seriously interested in the skeleton hand just poking from the gravel. He kicked at this, revealing the phalanges of a left hand, and a large shiny red ring on one of the bones. He photographed it from several angles and then took the ring.

“What the fuck you doing, man?”

The Devil turned and saw three thugs flanking him.

He gave them a big friendly smile. “My girlfriend gave me a new smart phone,” he said, “and I am learning how to use the camera.”

“This is private property,” one of them said.

“Oh, I don’t care,” the Devil said. “I do what I want.”

He took a photo of the three of them.

“Do you want copies?” he asked.

Like junkyard dogs, they advanced on him, growling.

He took them one at a time, then two at a time, and he photographed them sprawled on the ground. Then he grabbed each man and tossed him onto the roof. He threw all three up there. He had in his left hand all three of their cell phones.

Smelling coffee, he turned to return to the small hamburger stand.

A fourth man stood in his path. He had driven his shiny new Mercedes up. Not being electric, the car was a bargain, but still frightfully expensive.  The man was hefty, stout, and heavily tattooed. He was much angrier than the other three. This was his junkyard and he conducted much illicit business here. Even if the stranger had said he was the Devil, the junkyard owner would have shot him.

Yes, he had a pearl-handled revolver pointed at the Devil.

“Where are my men?” he demanded.

“I threw them up there,” the Devil said, indicating the roof of the junkyard office.

The junkyard owner disbelieved him, but glanced warily up at the roof.

“Whose ring do I have?” the Devil asked. “Who did you kill?”

He was holding it up. The red stone in the ring glistened in the morning sunshine.

The junkyard owner said nasty things to the Devil and called him out.

The Devil smiled and took his photograph.

The junkyard owner shot him five times and nothing bloody happened.

The Devil called the revolver to him. The gun flew the fifty-foot distance and landed happily in his hand. The junkyard owner was awed and backed up.

“Only five bullets in this piece,” the Devil said, “but I reloaded.”

Not that the junkyard’s owner had seen him reloading. But being the Devil, he was the most powerful being alive in this universe.

“You don’t believe me,” the Devil said.

He shot the junkyard owner’s Mercedes in the radiator five times. Steam poured out and rose like dying souls to the heavens and the blue sky.

The Mercedes owner was horrified. His car was that precious and new.

The Devil shot him in the thigh and the Mercedes owner cried and fell.

“I reloaded again,” the Devil said. “You didn’t see me?”

The Mercedes owner gripped his wound with a bandana and howled like an angel cast out of Heaven.

“Oh, you’ll be okay,” the Devil said. “But you won’t enjoy it.”

He marched around the bleeding man, snapping another photo.

Back at the shop, his order was ready.

“Keep the change,” he told the shady cook and gathered up his goodies.

On the way back to the motel, the Devil saw the white van with the faded sign saying fish on its rear and went over. He set the coffees on the van’s roof and knocked on the side window.

A nervous woman with her mouth opened wide appeared.

“Do you have any evidence bags?” he asked through the glass.

The lady cop lowered the window and he asked again.

She slowly brought up a transparent quart-size baggie and he asked for one larger. She brought up a gallon-sized one. The Devil dumped the red ring, the pearl-handled revolver, and the three cell phones from the thugs into the bag.

“You should be able to get some convictions out of these things,” he told her.

Rafaela drove up alongside in her white Stingray.

“Did you get breakfast?” she said.

“Just burgers and coffee,” he said.

“That’s good enough. Let’s get going.”

The woman in the van said, “We will find you, you know.”

The Devil laughed and pressed his hand against the glass of her window.

“Sorry,” he said to the lady cop. “No fingerprints.”


Fred Zackel has published more than a hundred stories, poems & essays and a dozen or so novels. Most all of his writings are on Kindle or the web.


Editor's Note: Upon publication, we received word that Mr. Zackel passed away on Christmas Eve after a short and unexpected illness. Our condolences and prayers are with the family...