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

M. L. Fortier: Get Your Kicks on Route 66

106_bp_route666_berniceholtzman.jpg
Art by Bernice Holtzman 2024

Get Your Kicks on Route 666

M. L. Fortier

 

   Susie was a recent graduate of the 666 Middle School. She had survived many horrors there, and also caused a few. She knew a new horror was coming, brought about by summer: the obligatory vacation trip with her father William, and mother Alice. Susie had hoped to persuade them to leave her at home in Illinois—no dice.

   “Your father only gets two weeks off each year.” Dad was an official with the City. Mom was a homemaker. “You are too young to stay here by yourself. Your father is looking forward to a well-earned rest.”

   Susie groaned. She knew she could survive very well on her own. But she gave in, as she thought her parents probably couldn’t survive this stupid trip—without her!

   They set off on a Monday, traveling down Route 666. Mom, Dad, Susie and Fluffy, their cocker spaniel, termed “Mutt.” Their first stop was a bed and breakfast, just a few miles from the Ozarks. Dinner was uneventful, except Fluffy seemed to annoy the wait-staff.

   Next day, they went for breakfast, but couldn’t find Fluffy. Susie ordered pancakes; her parents, the meat dish. “Have you seen our little dog?” Mother inquired.

   “You just ate him,” the server replied. The parents went outside, and were seriously sick.

   “You made a wise choice in choosing the pancakes, dear.” Susie was amused; she had never liked Fluffy.

  The family drove down the highway to a large entertainment center in the Ozarks. It featured unusual acts involving tigers, bears, gorillas, and other wild animals. Susie thought this sounded interesting.   She saw a large cage and a visual screen behind it. Susie sat next to a local sheriff. “What are they going to do?”

   “Well, little lady, you’ll see how we do things around here. These are offenders who would serve time, but they chose ‘trial by combat.’ Two are bullies and the third is an obnoxious teacher. They’re about to find out what their combat will involve.” The sheriff grinned.

   The first contestant was a muscular man. He was surprised when a tiger entered the cage. He tried to back away, but the tiger was on him in seconds. In a flash, he was ripped apart.

   Susie and the sheriff chuckled. “I see what you mean,” she said.

   Her parents looked pale and appalled.

   The second contestant entered the ring. A large grizzly bear jumped in. He grabbed the boy and threw him around the ring, until he tore off the boy’s head.

   The sheriff laughed and filled out a form. “One more to go,” he grunted.

   The third contestant was a young man. He entered the ring and appeared confused. A gorilla charged into the ring. The teacher screamed and tried to run, but fell into a pit.

   The back screen showed what happened.  Inside the pit were three fierce baboons. They had quickly ripped the victim’s clothes off and proceeded to fall on him as he shrieked and whimpered. Sharp teeth and claws carved his face to shreds.

   Susie saw her parents leave. “I think they’re going to be sick again.”

   “Well,” the sheriff said. “You’re a plucky little girl. Enjoy your road trip.”

   They proceeded down Route 666 to a shabby motel in Arizona. There Susie made a friend, a girl of the owner. “Dad’s a gun collector,” she said. “If you like I’ll show you some weapons.”

   That afternoon, a group of bikers—about six—pulled into the parking lot.

   “Oh no,” the girl said. “It’s the ‘Insane Zombies,’ a motorcycle gang. Trouble is here.”

   The bikers were drinking heavily. One jacket said, “If you can read this, the witch fell off the bike.”

“What have we here,” they snarled at Susie’s parents.

   “I’d like to see your dad’s collection now,” Susie told her pal.

   The bikers were advancing on the elders, when suddenly they were caught in a hail of bullets. Susie had a tommy submachine gun and she fired until the gang was riddled with bullets.

   “What shall we tell the police?” her father asked.

   “Cops nothing. I suggest we haul ass back to civilization.”

   Susie’s parents recognized the wisdom of this course of action, and started back to Illinois.

   “Dad, guess what I want for Christmas,” Susie said.

   “Oh no,” replied her mother. “You can’t have a tommy gun.”

“Well,” Dad said, “with my City connections, I can probably swing it.”

   “They grow up so fast,” he mother sighed.

   “As they said in the old days, right-oh, daddy-o,” Susie said.

M. L. Fortier:  An award winning author, I have also been teaching creative writing at colleges in the Chicago area, and currently work at College of DuPage. I have many poems in print, the most popular being "If I'd Married Poe."