Black Petals Issue #100 Summer, 2022

Editor's Page
Mars-Chris Friend
BP Artists and Illustrators
Baby, You're the Best: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Darkest Day:Fiction by Richard Brown
They Feed on Light:Fiction by Kilmo
Step Eight: Fiction by Paul Lubaczewski
Reunion:Fiction by Gene Lass
Highwayman's Trousers:Fiction by Michael W. Clark
The Dutiful Hit:Fiction by Jay Flynn
Flight of Fantasy: Fiction by Martin Taulbut
He Asked Me to Do It: Fiction by R. A. Cathcart
Lagniappe: Fiction by Michael Stoll
No Spark, No Flame: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Bathroom Light: Fiction by Craig Shay
Dave Jenkins, Flayed: Flash Fiction by Brian Barnett
Beauty Sleep: Flash Fiction by Simeon Care
Head Games: Flash Fiction by Philip Perry
Hurry Home: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
You'll See, She Said: Flash Fiction by Robb White
Captain Yeah-Way: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Attic Notes: Poem by Michael S. Love
Exit Strategy: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
You Can Pretend: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Gold Star: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
Conflict of Interest: Poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Recording: Poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
Litha: Poem by Christopher Friend
Sleeping Beauty: Poem by Christopher Friend
It Began with Violence: Poem by Donna Dallas
Rocking Zebra Déjà vu: Poem by Donna Dallas
Circle: Poem by Donna Dallas
Love is a Ghost: Poem by Donna Dallas
Together: Poem by A. N. Rose
Silence: Poem by A. N. Rose
Dead at 21: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
House Centipede: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen

Michael Stoll: Lagniappe

Art by Hillary Lyon © 2022


By Michael Stoll


                Friday night at the Lagniappe Smooth Jazz Club on  Tchoupitoulas Street was lively once again. The muggy heat of the New Orleans summer night was not enough to keep the revelers from listening to live performances of the city’s native music. The liquor flowed freely and the subdued-lighting atmosphere was buzzing with a general sense of merriment.

Sitting at one of the small tables directly in front of the stage, Rodney Caldwell was dressed to impress – a white, button-up shirt, black sport coat, and dark chinos with matching brogues. His cologne was an expensive import, one that could turn the head of even the most discerning woman. On his right wrist was a Rolex watch – a real one, not a cheap knock off – that he made sure was noticeable. Everything about his meticulously planned appearance screamed class and sophistication, assets he would need to make sure the night went as planned.

          She would notice him tonight.

And he would love her.

Rodney took a sip from his glass of bourbon and savored the smooth flavor – top shelf, of course; nothing but the best for the night he had in store.

          He had been coming to the Lagniappe Smooth Jazz Club every night this week because, as the name suggested, it had a little something extra to offer. The first time was out of sheer curiosity. He had lived in New Orleans all his life, but had never once stepped foot inside the club. On a whim, he decided he would, if only to see who or what he could find. He had taken a seat in the back, ordered a beer, and sat through several sets of performances, doing more people watching than listening. As the night went on, his interest in the various smooth jazz performers began to wane and he decided to head home.

          That was until he saw her.

          There, gracing the stage with her presence in an elegant silver, sparkling gown, was Victoria Denise Dawson, as she was introduced. The first few notes of the first song filled the club as she swayed back and forth. The piano, bass, and drum grooved together in sweet harmony as the saxophone player played a relaxing opening solo that seemed to tell a story of loneliness. Then Victoria Denise Dawson began to sing into the vintage microphone, and Rodney swore that he was hearing the voice of an angel.

Enamored, he sat back down, his eyes glued to the stage. He held his gaze upon Victoria Denise Dawson, hanging on to every beautiful note that rose out of her. To the other club patrons, she was just another performer. To Rodney, she was an ebony goddess – the perfect specimen of feminine beauty. Could it have been love at first sight, that Shakespearean notion that only a fool would believe in today?

Could he ever hope to love her? The thought at the time seemed preposterous. Even so, Rodney had difficulty sleeping that night. The image of Victoria Denise Dawson could not escape his mind, nor did he want it to escape.

Her voice resonated seductively in his head, and he longed to have her near him as she sang a sweet lullaby in his ear.

She still occupied his mind the next morning, and every thought that day revolved around her until he resolved that he would return to the Lagniappe Smooth Jazz Club again that evening.

That night, he sat a little bit closer to the stage, but still a distance away so as not to appear too eager to his ebony goddess; after all, she could have any choice of man she so desired. He waited patiently as several bands performed, though he could not recall their names or what any of them sounded like. Nor did he care; he just waited in anticipation to see Victoria Denise Dawson.

As the night progressed, the wait started to grate on Rodney’s nerves. Perhaps she wasn’t performing tonight. Maybe the previous night was the only time she was performing. Rodney felt his heart sink at the thought. Never again being able to set eyes upon his ebony goddess or hear her voice – one that could make the gods themselves weep – left a bitter taste in his mouth.

But then, there she was, that vision of beauty in its purest form. Maybe his memory was foggy, but to Rodney Victoria Denise Dawson had somehow become more beautiful. As the music began, Rodney felt himself relaxing. Victoria Denise Dawson then began to sing a passionate siren song of desire that Rodney swore was directed at him, even though he was not close enough to the stage for her to see him in the dark room. He felt intoxicated with each note, and the more she sang, the more he knew.

He wanted to love her.

He had loved other women before, but none had such a hold over him, nor had they been able to fill him with such desire. And to love a goddess? That would be the ultimate triumph!

With each passing evening of the week, he found himself going back to the club, taking a seat closer and closer to the stage. He would wait in anticipation, knowing full well that his ebony goddess would reward his patience with her angelic melody. In her own way, he believed she knew he was there, waiting for the right moment to let him love her. And every night after the show he would return home, his thoughts and dreams dwelling upon her.

Upon awakening Friday morning, he decided it was time that he approach her with the intention of loving her. But he knew that one does not simply approach a goddess, especially one as perfect as Victoria Denise Dawson. She would not simply allow herself to be loved by just any mere man. One must look the part if he wished to love a goddess.

After a day of strained patience – a day that seemed it would never come to a close – it was finally Friday night. He had made his preparations. The cards had been dealt and the chips were on the table. She would see him and she would know he was the one meant to love her.

Rodney waited as several bands went through their sets. He ordered a second bourbon, sipping it slowly. The alcohol was no match for the intoxicating sound of Victoria Denise Dawson’s voice, but it still gave him a nice, light buzz that gave him confidence. He felt relaxed – a necessary feeling when one intends to love a goddess.

Another band finished as he reached the bottom of his second bourbon. Rodney ordered a third as a man whom he assumed was the club manager took to the stage, as he did between every performance, and spoke the words Rodney had been longing to hear all night.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for our final act of the night, Miss Victoria Denise Dawson!”

Rodney’s ebony goddess stepped out onto the stage, her perfect figure encompassed in a sparkling dress. It was red, the color of love. Rodney knew it was a sign.

The music began, the low thump of the lite-funk bass and soft groove of the drums setting the stage for the piano’s opening chords. The saxophone then let out a few soft notes that, as usual, felt like loneliness. But as Rodney stared at Victoria Denise Dawson, again somehow looking even more beautiful than she did any other night that week, he knew that loneliness would be over soon.

Then she began to sing. Her voice was the usual audible gold that Rodney had heard each night. Being this close to the stage, each note felt like a soft kiss to him, invigorating his soul with desire. With each song he could feel his arousal burning all the more within him.

Then she looked at him, staring directly into his eyes as she sang. The lyrics were about yearning for a love that would change everything. Rodney felt his heart leap in his chest as she continued singing without taking her eyes off of him. He knew those lyrics were about him. He maintained eye contact with her, hoping that she would see into his soul. Then she would know that he was destined to love her. She winked and smiled, and he knew she understood.

The show soon ended and Victoria Denise Dawson blew a kiss to the audience. She then looked at Rodney and winked again. The other club patrons began to leave, but Rodney stayed seated. He intended to wait for the ebony goddess to return from backstage and come to his table. If he was to love her properly, he would need to know where she wanted to go.

As if on cue, a tall, heavy-set black man approached his table. Rodney recognized him as one of the bouncers and initially thought he was going to tell him he needed to leave because the club was closing. Instead, the man placed a folded piece of paper on the table in front of him. Rodney gave him a puzzled look, but the man’s expression didn’t change as he walked away.

Curious, Rodney unfolded the paper. Inside was a message:


127 Seville Street, #4

3 a.m.



Rodney felt his soul leap for joy. He felt both excited and nervous, like a young man about to lose his virginity – eager to please and prove his sexual prowess. The goddess had chosen him and it would not be fitting to be anything less than perfect.

          Rodney glanced at his watch. It was 2:45 a.m. Grasping the note in one hand, he fumbled in his pocket for his keys with the other as he made his way to his car. Shaking with anticipation and still a little tipsy from the bourbon, he almost dropped his keys as he clicked the remote to unlock the car door. After sitting down in the driver seat, Rodney entered the address into the GPS on his phone. It was now 2:48 a.m. and 127 Seville Street was four miles from the Lagniappe Smooth Jazz Club. The time estimate was about 10 minutes, but Rodney did not want to risk being late, especially in the traffic caused by those still partying in the early New Orleans morning.

Rodney quickly pulled out onto Tchoupitoulas Street, almost clipping another car. He ignored the angry blaring horn (and no doubt raised middle finger) from the other vehicle’s driver and hit the accelerator. Weaving around vehicles and almost running two red lights, he could feel his blood pumping. The traffic lights and other cars were all a blur to him, and as far as he was concerned, they did not exist. All that existed was himself and Victoria Denise Dawson, the ebony goddess that was now beckoning him.

          Rodney arrived at 127 Seville Street, a surprisingly rundown looking motel, with five minutes to spare. He refrained from exiting his car, knowing that being too early might displease the goddess. She had said 3 a.m. and therefore meant 3 a.m. He could feel his desire boiling over, his heart beating frantically as he scanned the doors for number 4. Upon locating it, he noticed a soft glow emanating from the corresponding window. There, behind that door and on the other side of that window, was Victoria Denise Dawson – his destiny, his desire, his goddess – waiting for him.

          He checked his watch. It was 2:57 a.m. He glanced at the door, then at his watch, then at the door again. Going back and forth between the two, Rodney nervously passed the time, which seemed to be crawling to a standstill. A small part of him thought he had been deceived – that time was conspiring to get him so close, only to stop just shy of 3 a.m. and deny him the chance to love the goddess. He knew that should that thought be true he would go mad.

          But then the watch struck 3 a.m. Rodney felt the unsettling thought slip away as he opened the car door and stepped out into the humid early morning heat. His heart was pounding and his stomach turned ever so slightly as he approached number 4, but he then remembered the goddess had chosen him and regained his confidence and composure.

          He stepped up to the door and knocked. Victoria Denise Dawson opened the door a crack and Rodney could see her face behind the chain of a secondary lock. He caught a whiff of her perfume and was beckoned by the intoxicating odor. She was still wearing her dress from that night’s performance. Up close, her skin seemed to emit an ever-so-faint glow that Rodney figured was a trick of the light.

          She smiled at him, unlocked the chain, and wordlessly beckoned him to enter. The room was sparsely furnished with only one small loveseat up against the middle of a wall and an end table tucked away in the corner. Along the walls the floor was lined with lit candles, the only light in the room. On the end table was a statue depicting what Rodney assumed was a goddess, but certainly not one with whom he was familiar. It resonated beauty, an idol of feminine sexual desire. And yet, there was a mild undercurrent that Rodney could not quite place. It felt as though the idol had a secret – the beauty hiding ghastly rot, the sexual desire really nothing more than depraved lust. Rodney began to feel uneasy.

          Then Victoria Denise Dawson started singing, and Rodney forgot all about his unease or the figurine on the end table. He turned to her, having not realized that she had undressed while he was enamored by the statue. Her body was beyond what he had ever imagined; more perfect than perfection itself. In his desire, he felt himself getting an erection as sweat dripped from every pore. But it wasn’t her body that had him entranced. It was her song – that beautiful, enchanting song, sung in only the way a goddess could sing it. It was the music of their love.

          The soothing rhythm of her humming sweetly.

          The melodious notes, each sung in perfect pitch.

The popping of her jaw as she unhinged it, revealing rows of sharp teeth.

The guttural roar as she prepared to strike.

          The crunching as she sank her teeth into his throat, her jaws clamping down in a vice grip.

The ripping of his flesh as she tore away a bloody chunk.

          The squirting of blood as it hemorrhaged from the massive wound.

          His gasping and wheezing.

          The slurping of wet meat as she chewed and swallowed his flesh.

          The hard thud as he fell to the floor.

          Her snarls as she crawled over his body, preparing to strike again as blood dripped from her mouth.

          It was the music of the goddess getting her sacrifice – a symphony of death, destruction, and eventual decay. It was the most beautiful music Rodney had ever heard.



Michael Stoll is a former historian and journalist looking to break into the fiction writing scene. His influences include Clive Barker, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Bentley Little. He currently resides in Rogers, Arkansas, with his wife and son.

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