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

Bruce Costello: Patrick Hatrick

Art by Michael D. Davis © 2022

Patrick Hatrick

by Bruce Costello


I hadn’t been feeling well for some time. I was tired. My brain was foggy, my eyes blurry and to top it off, I had Mr and Mrs Ramsay in my office and the session wasn’t going at all well.

The night before, sitting in a circle with two dozen other counselors at the monthly meeting of the Family Court Association, I’d had a sudden impulse to push my chair into the middle with a loud screeching noise and recite Three Blind Mice backwards.

“Mice blind three those, knife carving the with tails their off cut she.”

 What a hoot that would’ve been!        

 Back in those days, I often just wanted to forget about serious issues, drop everything including my trousers and go paddling along some far-flung beach, maybe come across a dog and throw sticks into the surf.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, telling you the story of Patrick Hatrick. 

“What on earth is it,” I’d said to my daughter when I opened up her Christmas present.

“Dunno. I just wanted to buy you something weird, because you’re a bit weird yourself and I know you like weird things.”

“Good thinking!” I replied. “The weirder the better.”

I picked the thing up, stroking it gingerly. “What’s its name?”

“Dunno, Dad.”

 “Tell you what,” I said, thrilled to have been given such a thoughtfully chosen gift instead of the usual ties and socks, “I’ll post a photo on Facebook and see if we can get some ideas.”

And that’s how the name Patrick Hatrick came about, suggested by the daughter of a friend of a friend, who claimed she lived in a toadstool and was married to a field mouse.


I took Patrick Hatrick to the office and sat him on the desk, where he attracted a lot of lighthearted ribaldry from my clients and helped to introduce a note of levity into a serious process.

I was one of the guys that the Family Court sent distressed couples to when they were splitting up and struggling to resolve parenting issues – such as who was going to look after the kids on a day-by-day basis, when would the other parent have time with them and so on.

It was not easy work, I can tell you, because there was often a lot of hot emotion and things could get really stressful. One of my colleagues used to say it was driving him slowly round the bend and another would joke it was driving him sane - I’m not sure if he was being serious or not.

Anyway, let me take you back to the day when Patrick Hatrick showed his true colours.

Picture this, if you can: an office with a mahogany desk and two high-backed chairs in front of it. I’m the older guy behind the desk with a bald head and a worried look.  Sitting to my left is Mr Arnold Ramsay, a perplexed man in blue overalls who continuously taps his left boot against his right boot. To my right is Mrs Fleur Ramsay, an immense, red-faced woman with arms and legs like whisky barrels.

Sitting on the desk, watching quietly, is Patrick Hatrick, a knitted entity of improbable species and unknown ethnicity, with a brown body the size and shape of a jam jar, no legs and no arms. He has a pointed yellow hat which rises to a great height and droops at the top under the weight of a dangling purple bell. The hat is pulled down so low over Patrick’s head that it completely covers his face. Only his beard is visible. And from his beard, quite oddly, grows a nose.

Mr Ramsay was a pleasant small man who wanted the best for the children and was willing to negotiate. Mrs Ramsay was the most disagreeable woman I’d ever met. She argued, yelled, and flung her arms about, and wanted total control of the children. She said that her husband was “a psycho ” and insisted he should only see the children for one hour a fortnight, under close supervision of a welfare worker. She wouldn’t compromise at all, so I decided to apply a little pressure.

“Mrs Ramsay,” I said, “if you and your husband can’t resolve your differences and come to an appropriate arrangement in this room, the dispute will have to be settled in court.”

”You siding with him?” she spat out. “You saying I’m going have my kids took off me, mister?”  Her lips were stretched so tight they’d almost vanished. Her chest was heaving. I saw her fists ball and whiten, and her face grow crimson. A chill ran through me.

At this point, Patrick Hatrick made a huge noise.

 What it was, I don’t know. I was so shocked, I couldn’t take it in. It was just an enormous noise. His presence suddenly filled the room. All eyes and ears were on him.

Mrs Ramsay half rose in her chair, looked  wildly about, sniffing, then slumped back, staring at Patrick, then at me, her eyes fixed on my lips, as if wondering whether I were some kind of demented ventriloquist. 

Patrick Hatrick leapt down from the desk, ran across the room and jumped onto  Mrs Ramsay’s head. Don’t ask me how, because he hasn’t got any legs, as I said before. But that’s what happened.

Then, despite being also armless, he clicked his fingers in front of her eyes and she went out like a light. He let out a jubilant yell, then plunged his hand inside her skull. . .didn’t make an incision, just went right on in, and started fishing around, singing a funny song. I remember it clearly.

Patrick Hatrick found a head,

E. I. E. I. O.

And in that head he healed a brain,

E.I. E. I. O.

With a cut snip here and a new bit there,

A loosen here and a tighten there,

A twiddle there and a twiddle here

there a twiddle, here a twiddle

Everywhere a twiddle twiddle

Patrick Hatrick healed a head,

E. I. E. I. O.


He kept singing as he worked, his hands working furiously, splattering bits of brain and blood in all directions, while Mr Ramsay looked on with a perplexed smile.

“All done,” Patrick cried out, finally. He clicked his fingers and stood back to admire his handiwork.

“I’m a new woman,” exclaimed Mrs Ramsay, waking up and punching the air with a jubilant gesture.

 Her angry look had gone. In its place was a face devoid of lines and wrinkles, with an expression of serene contentment and unearthly happiness.

“Let’s get down to business,” she cried. “Let’s put our personal differences aside and make an amicable parenting agreement, the best ever made.”

Within five minutes we had a wonderful agreement all sewn up.

The Ramsays left, holding hands.

Patrick Hatrick resumed his position on my desk, sitting still, back to his old self, looking like nothing had just happened and butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.


Later that day there was  a loud knock at the office door and before I could hide under the desk, it burst open and a big policeman came in, followed by a couple of scary guys in white coats.

That was a good while ago. I can’t tell you exactly how long ago, or what happened next.

These days, Patrick Hatrick spends most of his time just sitting on my bedside cabinet, grinning at people.

Sometime I take him for a walk around and everybody makes a big fuss of him.

 At bedtime, the nurses tuck the little fellow in beside me.


The End.

When professional counsellor Bruce Costello of New Zealand retired in 2010, he took up short story writing as a pastime. He has now had 148 short story successes - publications in literary journals, popular magazines and anthologies and contest wins, commendations and places.

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