Black Petals Issue #105, Autumn, 2023

BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary-Chris Friend
Cards Fiction by Gene Lass
Barfly: Fiction by Gene Lass
Case Study: Fiction by Martin Taulbut
Delivery: Fiction by David Kloepfer
Joy (noun): a source of delight: Fiction by Noah Levin
Master of Dream: Fiction by Ash Ibrahim
Nightshade: Fiction by Adam Vine
Red Popsicles: Fiction by Caitlyn Pace
Temporally Closed: Fiction by J. Elliott
The Mansion Dwellers: Fiction by Robb White
Time for a Change: Fiction by Lamont A. Turner
Bernie's Friends: Flash Fiction by Phil Temples
Death Visits the Sapling Trust: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Monster: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
Sleep: Flash Fiction by Kurt Hohmann
Welcome, Ghouls: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Ode to Chateau Marmont: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Cadaver Dogs: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Phases of the Moon: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
The Darkest Octave: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Green Man Standing: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Day That Mary Went Away: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Northern Migration of Souls: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Gone West: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
If I Scream: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Witchery: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Carry On: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
The Song of the Dead: Poem by Ben Huber

Kurt Hohmann: Sleep

Art by Bernice Holtzman 2023


Kurt Hohmann


Not much going on at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday.

I'm wide awake and the world's asleep. So I gotta find things to do.

Some nights, I jump in the car. Push the pedal to the floor. Windows down, headlights off.

Barreling around blind curves. Wrong side of the road. Never knowing who might be racing to meet me. That's the rush.

I should stay home. Drink a cup of warm milk. Drift back to sleep. Be all fresh and ready when the alarm goes off. Nice visual, huh?

What a steaming pile.

I've tried them all. Milk. Chamomile. Whiskey. Demerol.

They all work. More or less. But nothing lasts.

See, falling asleep is easy. But staying there? Two, three hours tops, and I'm wide awake. Feeling like I've never slept at all.

So out I go.

Grocery stores are filled with colorful wonders. So many things to ponder. Like, can anybody really tell when a juice box has been opened? Which pills look just like bulk-bin Skittles? What happens to a donut sprinkled with drain cleaner?

Amusements to occupy the wee hours of my morning.

I used to get eight, nine hours of sleep. Every night. Loved my bed, couldn't wait to climb under the covers and burrow in. A long, sweet recharge.

Seems like a whole 'nother lifetime. Might as well be a dream.

Except I don't.

Dream, that is.

My bed's a dark seductress, luring me into her soft embrace. She caresses and teases, promises comfort. But within her linens, she hides a torture rack. Within her pillows, an iron mask.

I know her games, yet succumb to them nightly, slipping between cool sheets that I know will soon be basted in my sweat. What choice do I have? I cannot avoid her.

Some nights, I see another shopper. Up and down the aisles we go. I'm never too close. Never too far away either. Looking at the same things they are. Picking the same cans and boxes from the shelves. By the time they hit the exit, they're sprinting.

Perks me up every time.

I wonder — as I lay awake in the quiet darkness — if death will offer me sleep at last. The sweet release a bullet might bring, a shock to the skull that leads to the rest I so desperately crave.

Fantasy, of course. In hell I'll be awakened every night. Forever.

Just like now.

The desire to sleep is constant, but it hits hardest when I first go to bed, and one other time. Right as my workday begins.

Long before most folks have even hit snooze — when I've already been awake for hours — I pull out of the garage and begin my daily rounds.

In my bright yellow bus.

Kurt Hohmann ( tells stories, builds altars to ancient gods, and crafts mad culinary experiments. He and his wife share a home with two living cats, six feline ghosts, and one affectionate python. His tales have been featured in Schlock Webzine, Commuter Lit, Black Petals, Aphelion, Half Hour to Kill, Yellow Mama, Literally Stories, Dark Fire, Bookends Review, and Eternal Haunted Summer.

Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received.

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