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

Cindy Rosmus: Captain Yeah-Way

Art by Londyyn Thomas © 2022





Cindy Rosmus



          Sure, I knew him. We all did.

Captain Yeah-Way. (Like, vs. “No-Way”?). Dressed like a superhero in yellow and red spandex. But no cape. Just that mask that covered his head and face, so nobody knew who he was.

Masked or not, I knew.

All over town, you’d see him, doing good deeds. Like picking up litter out of the street. Once he almost got smashed by a Beamer. “Get outta the street!” the driver yelled. “Ya crazy fuck!”

Jackson Pepper. Bald, and mean, like Lex Luthor. Pepper hated cats, and kids.

Captain Yeah-Way fed stray cats. The ones Pepper hadn’t poisoned.

Outside the old A & P Captain Yeah-Way would squat, tossing dry food to the feral cats, like crumbs with birds. Pigeons liked him, too. Even squirrels mobbed around him. Like Dr. Doolittle, but he never talked to animals.

“A burn victim,” the Town Ghouls claimed. “S’got no face left.” “Tongue burned out, too,” people swore, up and down. “Walks stiff ‘cos of a wooden leg.”

          “Let ‘em talk.” Dan Feeney laughed. My best bartender, and an ex-cop, he was a “people” person. Listened to their stories, laughed at their jokes. Knew how mean they could be . . .

Picturing “Captain Yeah-Way” as a charred, tongue-less, cripple.

          “He’s blind,” Sloan said. A regular, who drank shots with morning coffee. “Lost his eyes in Afghanistan.”

I tried not to laugh. “What, so he feels his way around town?”

          “Let’s get him a dog!” Dan said. “Everybody chip in.”

          “All the dough he collects,” Sloan sneered, “Can get his own.”

          Charity-wise, Captain Yeah-Way cleaned up. Toy drives, natural disasters. When he walked in, kids cheered like he was Santa. Old faces creaked with smiles. Money poured in . . .  

Like it grew on that tree that smashed Jackson Pepper’s Beamer.

          “In fact,” Sloan went on. “Buy himself wheels.” He threw a ten on the bar.

          Smiling, Dan limped to the register.

A wooden leg, people said.

I wondered if Sloan was too drunk to notice.

Rumor was, Jackson Pepper aimed right for Captain Yeah-Way that time he almost hit him. When that tree crushed his Beamer, it was karma, for sure.

Like superpowers had flipped the tree over.

Afterward, Pepper stormed in here, rushed over to the bar.

Dan was smiling. “The usual?” He poured Pepper’s IPA, ducked the punch just in time.

How fast shit hits the fan has always amazed me. But that week was the worst, ever.

Someone (Pepper. Who else?) laid out enough poison to kill all the feral cats on the block. Unaware, neighbors walking their dogs got a horrible surprise. Vets’ offices were mobbed for days.

At the animal shelter, Captain Yeah-Way collected donations, so adoption fees could be waived. Grieving pet owners took selfies with him. In one pic, he was inside a cage, three dogs sprawled in his lap. On his shoulder perched a scrawny cat.

“The ones without claws,” Dan told me later, “bite the most.”

Outside one vet’s office, six-year-old Mandi Rutnik sobbed. “Chewy” was her dying Corgi. “Chewy’s going away.” Most passersby smiled, sadly.

But one person stopped. 

And Mandi disappeared.

“It’s Pepper!” Sloan said. “Cats wasn’t enough.” He slammed down his shot glass. “He’s killing kids now!”

“Maybe she’s not dead,” I said.

Dan looked grim. She’s dead, his eyes said.

Like they could see through walls.

Days later, Mandi showed up in a suitcase, in a closet, in an abandoned house. Two doors down from Pepper’s. A prime poisoning spot. Dead felines littered the lawn.   

At the bar, we watched the news. “Stay away!” Pepper told the cops. “You can’t prove I did it!”

But you did, Dan’s eyes said.

When he was a cop, those eyes helped a lot.

I wondered who else knew that.

Was Pepper really like Lex Luthor, who enjoyed toying with Superman? Was it all a game, or for real?

If it was real, who would win?  

My late husband, another ex-cop, kept a Glock behind the bar. “For protection,” he’d claimed, though no one ever tried to hold us up. Nobody even stiffed on their tab.

For the past year, each day I reached down and gently touched that Glock. It was my connection to him.

That, and hiring this new guy. The best bartender, ever.

And the best shot.

This morning, the Glock was gone.

It was Captain Yeah-Way who found the body. On the overgrown lawn of the house, where Mandi was killed.

Like a poisoned cat, Jackson Pepper was splayed out, in the grass. Eyes wide open, two bullets lodged in his brain.

One for Mandi; one for the animals.

The scene filled up instantly, with cops, reporters, ambulance. The Town Ghouls craned their necks till they got whiplash.

For the first time, Captain Yeah-Way wore a cape.

“Spinning around!” one person posted on social media. “Ready to leap off a building!” another wrote. All bullshit.

In the photo, he stood up straight, the cape wrapped around him.

Like a well-kept secret.




Cindy is a Jersey girl who looks like a Mob Wife and talks like Anybodys from West Side Story. Her noir/horror/bizarro stories have been published in the coolest places, such as Shotgun Honey; Megazine; Dark Dossier; Horror, Sleaze, Trash; and Rock and a Hard Place. She is the editor/art director of Yellow Mama and the art director of Black Petals. Her seventh collection of short stories, Backwards: Growing Up Catholic, and Weird, in the 60s (Hekate Publishing), is out, now! Cindy is a Gemini, a Christian, and an animal rights advocate. 

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