Black Petals Issue #101 Autumn, 2022

Editor's Page
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
BP Artists and Illustrators
Dig Deep, the Therapist Said: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Dinner Club: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
God of the Winds: Fiction by Scáth Beorh
Head Pot: Fiction by Spencer Harrington
His Deadly Muse: Fiction by Roy Dorman
Patrick Hatrick: Fiction by Bruce Costello
Squawking Chimes: Fiction by Robert Pettus
The Courier: Fiction by Billie Owens
The Midnight Sonata: Fiction by David Hopewell
The Wolves are Coming: Fiction by Mauri Orr Stone
Abduction: Flash Fiction by Laura Nettles
I'm Your Garlic:Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Ho/Ma:i - (Ho-maaa-ee): Flash Fiction by Rani Jayakumar
Mona Wants to Die, but She Lets the Weather Decide:Flash Fiction by Riham Adly
The Cookie Crumbles: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Right Knife: Flash Fiction by David Barber
A Devilish Matter of Disinvitation: Poem by Carl E. Reed
Abhor the Light!: Poem by Carl E. Reed
Shadow House-A Writer's Retreat: Poem by Carl E. Reed
Accursed Personae: Three excerpted Poems by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler
Remember When We Watched "Kill Bill" Together: Poem by C. Renee Kiser
I Die, You Die: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
Northbound Train: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Haunted Liquor Cabinet: Poem by Joseph V. Danoski
The Candlelight Killer: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Wooden Soldiers: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
The Curse of Verse: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
When a Star Dies: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker

Roy Dorman: His Deadly Muse

Art by Sophia Wiseman-Rose © 2022



Roy Dorman


    “Looking back at the day when Alison Denton first arrived in New York City, I realize I would have done anything to get her into my life. No matter the cost. I see now there was a cost, and it was high. Very high indeed.”

    Looking every bit the best-selling author that he is, Arthur Chesterson is doing a reading from his most recent novel at the Read It Again, Sam bookstore near Central Park. Online sales have been brisk, and he can probably count on half of the fifty or so in attendance to buy a book today.

    He scans the audience while reading, trying to make eye contact with as many in the audience as possible.

    Being a good writer is important in getting a book published, and Arthur is a good writer, but marketing is not his strong suit. He tries.

    “I pursued her relentlessly. I now see that it was she who was pursuing me. I was clueless as to her intentions. I was blinded by what I thought was love.”

    Arthur’s gaze wandered to the back few rows. He saw a woman standing alone near the doorway of the little backroom they were in. She was holding a large bouquet of red roses. 

    It’s a secret only Arthur and his wife, Sophia Santos know, but this new novel is semi-autobiographical. The name Alison Denton is fictious, but there really was an Alison Denton. Or there had been. She had been Victoria Caldwell.

    Arthur choked on the sentence he was on and covered it with a cough and a sip of wine. After recovering, he continued reading and waited a bit before glancing again to the back.

    “An obsession, that’s what it was. Once I found myself ensnared, it was too late. I was hooked.”

    Sophia Santos sat in the front row listening to her husband read. And watching him. She thought he looked a little pale. Why was he making furtive glances toward the back?

    Taking care not to be obvious, she casually turned to look at the back of the room.

    “It’s her!” she gasped to herself. “But it can’t be, can it? She’s dead, buried in our backyard.”

    She knew Arthur was almost to the point where he finished reading and began the question-and-answer part of the program. A few might leave then, but those who stayed would probably be buying books.

    Other people had noticed Arthur and Sophia looking to the back, and now some of them did too. As more did, a low murmur filled the small room.  

    People looked at the woman standing in the back and then looked at the books in their laps they’d purchased and intended get autographed.

    Those who didn’t have books looked from the woman to the easel standing next to Arthur. On the easel was a large picture of the novel’s cover. With an artist’s rendition of Alison Denton, or Victoria Caldwell, wrapped in the arms of a muscular young man.

    Arthur had stopped reading when the murmuring had started. He stared at the picture on the easel, realizing the reason for the disturbance.

    A hand shot up. “What does this mean?” asked a man in the third row. Pointing at the woman in the back who now had a small smile on her lips, he said, “Is she the model for your book’s cover art?”

    A collective sigh rippled through the audience and there were whispers of, “Of course, that’s it….  She’s a model….  How clever….”

    But Arthur and Sophia didn’t feel all that clever. Out of revenge, they’d put the antagonist, Alison Denton, on the cover using a photo of Victoria Caldwell for the artist to use. They thought the irony of making money from book sales with a likeness of Victoria Caldwell on the cover could be savored for years. She had almost wrecked their marriage before Sophia had hired a hitman to take care of her. 

    For an extra thousand dollars, the hitman had helped them bury her.

    “Ya outta let me put her in the landfill,” he’d said. “That’s how we do it.  It’s safer.”

    But Arthur and Sophia had their own ideas and they prevailed. They planted rose bushes on the spot and intended to enjoy those roses for a long time.

    “I’m not a model,” shouted the woman in the back in a commanding voice. “I’m the woman in the story, Alison Denton. In real life I was Victoria Caldwell, and Arthur Chesterson and his wife had me murdered, and then buried in their backyard. Just as Alison Denton was murdered and buried in his book.”

    Victoria started walking up the aisle throwing roses to crowd as she went. The roses disappeared as soon as they were touched, and people shrank from the horrible stench given off by Victoria’s passing.

    Most of the crowd was now nearing a complete state of panic, and they overturned chairs in their haste to get out of the room.

    When Victoria got to the podium, she wrapped her ghostly arms around Arthur in a bear hug. He screamed and struggled, but could not free himself. 

    Sophia tried to come to the rescue, but her hands were unable to grasp the spirit that was Victoria.

    Arthur suddenly stopped his struggling. His eyes rolled back into his head and fell to the floor.

    Sophia shouted curses at Victoria, but Victoria merely laughed at her.

    She then raked Sophia’s face with the thorny stems of the roses and disappeared.


    There was one person in attendance who had not run screaming from the room. Crime Fiction aficionado, NYC Detective Oliva Hudson, strode up to the podium and put handcuffs on Sophia Santos. She checked Arthur Chesterson for vitals, but found he was gone.

    “I know I’ll probably catch some ribbing from the guys I work with, but after I get a warrant, you and I are going to look at what’s buried under your rosebushes.”


Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for over 65 years.  At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer.  He has had flash fiction and poetry published in Black Petals, Bewildering Stories, One Sentence Poems, Yellow Mama, Drunk Monkeys, Literally Stories, Dark Dossier, The Rye Whiskey Review, Near To The Knuckle, Theme of Absence, Shotgun Honey, 50 Give or Take, Subject And Verb Agreement Press, and a number of other online and print journals.  Unweaving a Tangled Web, recently published by Hekate Publishing, is his first novel. 

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