Black Petals Issue #99, Spring, 2022

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Editor's Page
Artist's Page
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Are You Full? Fiction by James Kompany
Bunker-Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Buy Here, Pay Here-Fiction by Kim Bonner
The Church of the Coyotes Who Would be Wolves-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Elm Mills-Fiction by Mack Severns
Hearts in the Gutter-Fiction by Lamont Turner
Midnight Espresso-Fiction by David Starobin
Spider Bite-Fiction by N. G. Leonetti
Test Tube Babies-Fiction by Kilmo
Witches' Jubilee-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Biter: A Love Story-Flash Fiction by Harris Coverley
New Mail-Flash Fiction by Eddie D. Moore
Reasons Not to Wake Up a Sleeping Beggar in the Morning-Flash Fiction by Marcelo Medone
While I was Frozen-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
Woodshop for Werewolves-Flash Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Bruja-Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
First Light-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Soul Music-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Stalker-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Zombies in Space-Poem by Jeffrey Park
Bleeding Senses-Poem by Jess Boaden
I'd Like to Speak to the Manager-Poem by Carl E. Reed
The Woods (Behind My House)-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Nocturnal Mode-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
When I Find You-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Ethereal-Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Fall-Poem by Mike Edele
Death-Poem by Mike Edele
Where Will You Be-Poem by Mike Edele
Giant Cockroach-Poem by Richard Stevenson
The Allegewi-Poem by Richard Stevenson
Tokoloshe-Poem by Richard Stevenson
The Ghoul-Poem by Richard Stevenson

Ron Capshaw: Bunker

bp_99_bunker_hlyon.jpg
Art by Hillary Lyon 2022

Bunker

 

By Ron Capshaw

 

 

 

I was the military trainer, but it was the doctor who woke everybody up.

“THE DAY we have been preparing for has come,” the old man said with the snow-white goatee but quick youthful movements, to all of us in the tent on our cots.

I came out of the bed dressed as I had been since preparing for THE DAY, when the Communists and their secret servants in the American government would take over the United States.  Army fatigues.  Paratrooper boots.  Pistol yanked out from under my pillow.

We in the Minutemen had outlined how it would play out.   Nuclear missile strikes from the Communists, followed by a land invasion by the Cubans into United States soil via Mexico.  Then the sleeper agents in the American government would be “activated,” declaring martial law, arresting or assassinating J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Barry Goldwater.

I was yelling for everyone in the tent to lock and load.  I asked Dr. Manichean what alerted him that The DAY had arrived.

He played back a recording made from the radio:

 “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”

My God.

Missiles in Communist Cuba.  Ninety miles from our shores.  JFK finally found his spine, but it was too late.  The DAY had come.  The missiles could have already been launched. 

And we were situated and stockpiled in the Florida Everglades.

I just hoped that there would be enough mines left in the field surrounding our tents to take out some Communist foot soldiers after the missiles had struck.

The gun-crazy amateurs who I hated to train nevertheless came into mission mode perfectly.  Grabbing their weapons and going underground.  Two to a nuclear shelter.

The doctor wanted to go into mine.

He once told me I was the only one of this group he could have an intelligent conversation with.  I felt the same way.  We were both well-traveled; he because he was a wealthy doctor; me because of the Army.  We could talk about Chinese pottery, Cuban coffee, German beer, French wines long into the night.

We even hailed from the same berg.  LA.  When I was born, 1922, Doctor Manichean had already made a name for himself as a child prodigy.  He got into Columbia at age 12, graduating at age 14 with a degree in chemistry.   By age 16, he went to Johns Hopkins’ medical school, getting an M.D. in three years.

Buying a Mexican adobe house, with multicolored bricks and several floors, Manichean set himself up as a doctor/shrink to the stars.

During the war, like myself, he served in the OSS.  While I was parachuting into Occupied France, he was breaking German codes. 

After the war, he returned to medical practice.  After a stint in Mao’s China as a missionary/doctor he went hard right, trying to run for the California congress on Joe McCarthy’s coat tails in 1952; the height of the tail-gunner’s influence.   Nevertheless, he lost the race.

By then, the late 1950s, the doctor was canvassing the right-wing guerilla groups forming because of their perception that at best, Ike was a weak sister regarding communism; at worst, a Soviet agent.

Meanwhile, I helped train South Vietnamese troops in guerilla warfare.  The CIA brought me back stateside where, by the early 1960s, I was training anti-Castro guerilla groups in the Florida everglades. 

I was confident they could take back Cuba from Castro.

Until the Bay of Pigs, when Kennedy went soft and left my comrades stranded on the beach.  I was in the Everglades when I got the news.

It was then I knew that the CIA and JFK had no interest in fighting THE ENEMY AGAINST AND AMONG US.  I quit the Agency.  But you really could never quit it.  I knew they were opening my mail, had me under surveillance.  Twice I saw someone photographing me from across the street.

So, I went underground, figuratively and literally.  Off the radar.  Off the grid.

That was where I met the doctor.  He was already in the Minutemen, teaching eager beaver types, with crew cuts and freckled faces, combat medicine.

Now looking back, I think it was inevitable that we found each other.  Both anti-communists.  Both AWARE.

I think the doctor had some kind of connections with the Agency, because he knew what I did in the dark alleyways of the Cold War.

We bonded.  Despite his thick glasses he was a good shot, unlike the wannabes in the Minutemen who couldn’t hit a bear in the ass with a bull fiddle. But the Doc’s true skill was with edged weapons; no surprise since he had surgical training.

He was youthful for his age, but still he needed at this moment help getting into our nuclear shelter/bunker.

We got in and closed the lead-lined door above us.  It could only be opened from the inside.

Or so I hoped.

 The doctor sat down on one of the canvas chairs inside.   I checked our oxygen bottles, made sure all weapons were loaded, and counted the k-rations and canned goods and water bottles to ensure that our stay could wait out the nuclear war.

Having done that, I sat crouched down.

The doctor was surprisingly calm.  Even serene.  Even when the bunker shook.

“The Communists have emptied their silos,” the doctor said.

“This will hold Doc,”

But again the bunker shook, much harder this time…

“What if it doesn’t?” the doctor said very calmly.

“Then only the cockroaches will inherit the earth,” I said.

“I’d feel better holding a gun and a knife.”

I understood.  I couldn’t sleep without a knife strapped to my forearm, a .38 special under my pillow.  A .45 in the desk drawer of my bedside table.

I gave him my pistol and knife.

He inspected the knife, holding it up to the light.

“Sharp?” he said, looking at me.

“Like one of your scalpels, Doc.”

He grinned.

The bunker shook and the lights in it went out.

Flashback:

The night is jet black, great for a hit and run operation, but terrible for a parachute drop.  My parachute of course gets caught in a tree.  The Nazis see me hanging and start firing...  I am sawing frantically at my parachute straps—

“Colonel?”

Doc is looking into my eyes.  The lights have come back on.

The bunker shakes again.  Canned goods fall out of the shelves.

“That was close,” I said, now wondering if the bunker was going to be enough.

Doc didn’t look concerned.

“I’ll be upfront with you, Doc.  We may not get through this.  The Communists have much better nukes and missiles than we thought.”

The bunker shakes even harder, making our teeth hit together.

“I guess it's confession time, Colonel,” the Doc said in his cultured voice.

I was familiar with that; that moment when one was convinced they were going to die and wanted to expunge their sins to their comrades—-

Like when Jenkins and I were under sniper fire when the mission went really wrong and he told me he once beat up a hooker and took all her money—

Or when Bakersfield and I were under heavy fire and the only thing between us and the Vietcong was a fallen bamboo tree and we would be cut in half if we tried to fire back and he told me that one time he didn’t pick up his sister from school and she was murdered—

I now smelt death coming into the shaking bunker; that enemy I had dodged so many times for so long.  But I never felt it this close.

“I think you’re probably right, Doc.”

The Doc smiled and gestured with the knife I had given him to me, “You first Colonel.”

He then peered intently into my eyes like the shrink he once was in 40s Hollywood.

Oh, what the hell, I thought.  It’s not like we’re walking out of here.   The walls will collapse in on us and we will be buried alive or if we could dig our way out, we will be vaporized    Or, have a slow radioactive death; our skin peeling off  us in strips like it did those Japs in Nagasaki.

I told him what I didn’t tell Jenkins and Bakersfield when we were convinced our numbers were up.

“I helped liberate a concentration camp.  When we parachuted in we lost a lot of men.  The krauts must have been tipped off that we were coming.  They killed everyone but Jenkins and me.  Our mascot, Johnny Tremaine, had his jaw shot off, and he was running around with blood spurting out and the Krauts were pointing and laughing.”

“Through red eyes, I machine-gunned every fucking one of them.”

The Doc nods, the bunker shakes again.  I look at the ceiling and notice it is cracking.

“It didn’t bother me.  I was pretty battle-hardened by then."

The shelter shakes again.  The cracks on the ceiling got wider.  I better wrap up this tale quick.

“That’s understandable,” the Doc said.  “It was wartime.”

“No, it was what happened later.  We had made camp.  We heard someone coming.  Jenkins stamped out the fire, and I went into the woods.

A shape passed by.  Like that Welsh colonel had taught me, I came from behind, pulled his chin back with one hand and sliced his throat with the other.”

I swallowed hard.

“Jenkins came around with a flashlight and I saw it was an American soldier who had gotten lost from his patrol.  Just a kid, Doc.  Eighteen at best.”

I looked down, tears finally coming out after all this time.

The Doc put a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

I shook my head as if I could shake the memory away.,

The shelter shook again.  A thin trickle of dirt was now coming through one of the cracks from the ceiling.

“How about you Doc?”

The doctor leaned back in his chair.

“I was an abortionist to the stars back in the 1930s and 40s.  I scraped Jean Harlow, Heddy Lamar, you name her; I scraped her.”

I shrugged.

“That’s not so bad.  They came to you Doc.  Voluntarily.  And you helped them.”

“Not all of them.  There was a girl, a wannabe starlet, who had gotten in the family way by a producer.  He sent her to me, and she was heartbreakingly beautiful.  She would have looked great in technicolor.  So I let her heal up at my house and promised to take some studio shots of her when she recovered.”

Boom. 

The trickle of dirt coming through the cracked door was widening.

He hurried his story up as well.

“She became friends with my teenage daughter.  They, as you say, bonded.”

“But as it turned out, too much.”

“What do you mean?”

The dirt leaking from the ceiling began to come out faster and wider.

“Linda, my daughter, never understood true sexual love.  That it can be familial.”

I looked at him and for the first time since 1944 had a full body shudder because I knew what was coming.

“Linda and I were lovers.”

I leaned back, skin itching suddenly, wanting very much to get out of there.

The Doc smiled.

“You’re shocked.”

No use denying it I thought and nodded my head.

The doctor who I genuinely liked and thought a true comrade in the anticommunist struggle, turned out to be lower than crocodile piss.

I hope he did get buried alive or vaporized.  Even though I would die with him.

I finally found my voice.

“That’s a hell of a confession, Doc.  Where’s your daughter now?”

The Doc was ice calm.  Not sorrowful at all.

“She ran away.  Married a soldier and I have never seen her again.”

I nodded.  The bunker shook again.  The dirt was really pouring now.

“But I’m not finished.”

Oh God, I thought.  Please.  No more.  What could be possibly worse than incest?

“My daughter’s friend caught Linda and I in bed together.  She screamed.  I knocked LInda out and I caught and sedated her friend.”

This was getting worse and worse.

“Linda wouldn’t go public with our relationship.  She knew my influence in Hollywood.  But the girl might have.  I couldn’t be sure.”

The bunker shakes again, the lights are flickering on and off

“Sounds like those explosives I timed upstairs are getting closer.  Anyway, I couldn’t let the girl get loose—”

Did he just say the ‘explosives I timed’?

Doc picked up the knife I gave him.

“Have you ever heard of the Black Dahlia case?”

I searched my memory and remembered.  The Dahlia was Elizabeth Short,, who was raped, tortured to death and sliced in half in 1947.  The murder was never solved.

“Her name was Elizabeth Short, and I was her lover/torturer. After I sedated her, I drug her down to my basement and we bonded.  They never caught me, no matter how many other times I raped and killed afterwards.  But the stupid police were actually getting closer.  So, I had to disappear, go underground."

That's why he joined the Minutemen.

I remembered my pistol and knife were in his lap.

I lunged, got the pistol, but the doctor sliced my neck with the knife.

I watched my blood jet the walls as he smiled, said, "Just wanted someone to know," unlocked the bunker door and clawed his way out.  Unfair. He looked down at me from the hole he made, a clear starry night above him and smiled. He started kicking the dirt down the hole and it was a death race between being buried alive or choking on my own blo-




Ron Capshaw is a writer based in Florida.  His novel, The Stage Mother's Club, will be coming out in June from Dark Edge Press.



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