Black Petals Issue #107, Spring, 2024

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(After) Life is What You Make It: Fiction by Richard Brown
Gauche Cuisine: Fiction by Gordon L. Stewart
Here's to Forgetfulness: Fiction by Roger Johns
Insights Into the Trajectory of Human Cetacean Communication: Fiction by Andre Bertolino
Mal Ojo: Fiction by M. N. Wiggins
No Dark: Fiction by Bill Dougherty
Overtime: Fiction by Dennison Sleeper
A Cut Above the Rest: Fiction by Roy Dorman
Resemblance: Fiction by James McIntire
Sign of the Times: Fiction by Liam A. Spinage
The Attic Party: Fiction by Michael Fowler
The Renovators: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Balance: Flash Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Bawk Dark: Flash Fiction by Michael C. Jessen
The Incident With the Mismatched Man: Flash Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Radio Tower: Flash Fiction by Blair Orr
Take Me With You: Flash Fiction by Steven French
Slippery: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Where Dead Babies Come From: Poem by Nolcha Fox
302 Asylum Avenue: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Another Story: Poem by Joseph Danoski
Home Repairs: Poem by Joseph Danoski
A Creepy Leap Year: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Funeral Memorial: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
BatGrl: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Twin Flame: Poem by Casey Renee Kiser
Shadow Play: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Dark Ride: Poem by Simon MacCulloch
Leviathans of the Void: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Sunbursts: Poem by Christopher Hivner
Into the Eyes: Poem by Anthony Bernstein
Airtime: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Gloria: Poem by Peter Mladinic
The Sorcerer: Poem by C. Walker
Frozen Eve: Poem by C. Walker

Hillary Lyon: The Renovators

107_bp_renovators_jelliott.jpg
Art by J. Elliott 2024

The Renovators

 

 

Hillary Lyon

 

 

 

“What exactly is this supposed to be?” Joe said with disgust, waving his hand at the modern artwork hanging above the fireplace. “It looks like somebody threw up on the canvas.”

“Looks like somebody threw up blood on the canvas.” Mabel commiserated. “How is this garbage supposed to inspire, to help us transcend our dreary existence?”

“It’s not. I suspect this is an example of money laundering,” Joe sniffed. “The art world is nothing but a scam anyway. It produces nothing of beauty any more.”

“Agreed. Now,” Mabel said, changing the course of their conversation, “have you seen what these people did to the rest of the house? It’s not just the artwork on display that’s awful. Their renovations are, too.”

Joe sighed. “No; I’ve been too distracted by this.” Again he motioned to the painting. He picked up a small bronze statuette of a wasp from the coffee table and threw it at the offending painting. The statuette tore through the canvas, and knocked it to the floor.

Joe kicked the painting, sending it sailing across the den where it toppled a pedestal displaying an abstract glass figurine. “Smash, crash, glittery shards everywhere!” Joe said, clapping his with glee.

“Follow me,” Mabel said.

* * *

“Is this supposed to be a kitchen?” Joe snorted. “Looks like a sterile abattoir. Where’s the warmth, the personality—like when we lived here? I feel like I’m in a laboratory.” He grabbed a cookbook from a shelf next to the stainless steel stove top. “This hasn’t even been opened. No stains or drips on the pages, no handwritten notes by the recipes.”

He threw the book across the kitchen, where is smashed into a row of Baccarat wine glasses. “Posers. I suspect they eat out all the time.”

Joe next opened the door of the smart fridge “Of course, there’s hardly anything in here. Condiments and imported beer. Do they honestly think this fridge will re-order their food when they run low?”

Mabel shrugged and pulled a butcher knife from the wooden block on the counter. “Who knows what people like this think. If they actually think at all. I believe they just mindlessly follow popular trends. Any excuse to spend money, to show off to their friends.” She ran a fingertip along the edge of the knife; it sliced her finger like a fine paper-cut. “They do keep their toys sharp, though. Gotta give them credit for that.”

She lurched towards Joe; the knife plunged deeply into his stomach. They both laughed.

With the knife still embedded in his belly, Joe grabbed an iron skillet hanging from the pot-rack overhead and swung at Mabel. The ensuing force of the skillet connecting with her head knocked Mabel down. She rolled on the spotless hardwood floor, giggling. Joe helped her up.

“Let’s go see what they’ve done to the master bedroom,” Joe urged. “You just know it’s a horror show.”

* * *

“More artsy red splatter,” Mabel observed, pointing to the art hung over the bed.

“And it’s not even blood!” Joe groused. “How boring.”

“Oh, but how original! Red to match the red and black bedspread.” She slid back one of the mirrored closet doors. “Red to match this woman’s wardrobe. Ugh. Whatever happened to wearing a color to match your mood?”

“Maybe her mood is always murderous,” Joe muttered, fingering a red silk dress.

Mabel yanked the dress from his hands and threw it on the bed. “You wish,” she hissed. From the closet she took a wire hanger, opened it up wide enough to place over Joe’s head. She then set about twisting the hanger around his neck until he turned purple.

Flailing, he swung his arms wildly until the two of them fell onto the king-sized bed. Breaking free of Mabel, he grabbed the silk dress and shoved into her mouth, causing her to gag and choke.

Joe untwisted the hanger around his neck, allowing him to speak. “Fighting with you is the absolute best form of foreplay,” he sighed.

 Pulling the dress from her mouth, Mabel murmured, “How I do love you.”

* * *

Carina and Monty arrived home from their weekly Friday night symphony date, astounded to find their newly renovated home in such disarray.

“Have we been robbed?” Carina said breathlessly. “Was this a home invasion? This was supposed to be a safe, gentrified neighborhood! You promised it would be safer here than in the city! I told you we should have installed a burglar alarm system!”

Her husband ignored her accusations. “Doesn’t look like anything was taken.” Monty’s voice trembled. “But look what they did to our artwork—it’s ruined!” Tears leaked from the corner of his eyes. “All that money invested—now it’s all gone.”

“Insurance! We have these pieces insured, right?” Carina said. She clenched her fists.

“I meant to...but I...haven’t had time.” He sat down on the floor, running his fingers through the shag carpet like he was petting a beloved dog. Instead of finding comfort, shards of glass stabbed his soft fingers. Bleeding only made him cry harder.

“You idiot! I told you we should've invested in the stock market instead of buying this stupid art! It always appreciates, you said. It’s better than a savings account, you said.” Carina huffed as she dug in her red leather designer purse for her cell phone. Without saying another word to her husband she punched in 911.

Hearing their distraught voices, Joe and Mabel wafted back into the den like wisps of smoke. From the shadows they watched the two new home owners yell and throw blame at each other much like monkeys flinging poo.

These are the new owners?” Joe laughed. “They’re just not…”

“Any fun,” Mabel finished for him. “Especially him. He’s so easily crushed! Though she appears to have a bit more gumption. Ooh, I have an idea.”

Grinning, Mabel slid up behind Carina. She whispered something into the woman’s ear, and a tendril of wickedness wormed its way into a dark corner of her mind, taking root.  Carina nodded, took a deep breath and grabbed the wasp statuette from the floor. Gritting her teeth, she raised it over Monty’s head.

“Oh yes!” Joe crowed as the police sirens neared. “She’s a whole lot more fun!”

Hillary Lyon holds a Masters in English Literature, and what did she do with that? She founded and for 20 years acted as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her short stories, drabbles, and poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications. She's lived in Brazil, Canada, France, and several states in the US; she currently resides in southern Arizona. Hillary also creates illustrations for horror, sci-fi, and pulp fiction sites. She is the Art Director for Black Petals Horror/Science Fiction Magazine.

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