Black Petals Issue #102, Winter, 2023

Editor's Page
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Betterment Day: Fiction by Malik Mandeville
Bridget Magnus: Fiction by Dean Patrick
Cemetery Road: Fiction by Richard Brown
I Quit: Fiction by Michael Stoll
Ivory Tower: Fiction by Aron Reinhold
Letter from a Poison Pen Pal: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Neck of the Woods: Fiction by Harris Coverley
No Angels: Fiction by Kilmo
It's A Dry Heat: Fiction by Roy Dorman
Requited Love: Fiction by Travis Mushanski
Stuck in Transit: Fiction by Michael Woods
Cold Yearning: Flash Fiction by Kat Sandefer
I Married a Zombie: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Snack Time: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
The Boy Who Loved Bolt: Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
The Cutting Room: Flash Fiction by Karen Schauber
Dirty Blue Bandana: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Bidee Bodee, Bidee Beaux: Poem by Thomas Fischer
Blood of Whitechapel: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Rotten to the Core: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Seque into Shadows: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Sensitivity to Light: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Boo Hag: Poem by Richard Stevenson
Paranormal Parasites: Poem by Richard Stevenson
Huggin Molly: Poem by Richard Stevenson
In the Morgue of Memory: Poem by Hillary Lyon
Unexpected Culinary Opportunity: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
OI (Oo-ee): Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Plant Eater Gone Carnivorous: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
They Shouldn't Be There: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
The Needle Spins: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Cold: Poem by Rp Verlaine
The Sleepwalker: Poem by Rp Verlaine

Richard Brown: Cemetery Road

Art by Jen Mong 2023

Cemetery Road


Richard Brown


Dear Diary… no, that sounds dorky… O Tome of Inner Darkness and Despair… ugh! Why did Mom buy me this thing, anyway?  Oh, that’s right.  So I can explore my feelings.  Well, I feel that this is a total waste of time.  She thinks I don’t have enough friends, and that I need something to replace Dad when I want to talk about “boy stuff”.  What does she know about it?  It wasn’t her Dad that got sick and died.  No, Grandpa’s still playing poker and trying to get lucky with all the ladies in the casino.  That’s what Grandma says.  Are all casino ladies lucky?  That would be cool if they could give some luck to Grandpa!  Maybe then he could come home again.

There’s nothing going on in this town that I need to talk to Dad about.  Fourth grade in Miss Santiago’s class is just like third grade in Mrs. Gray’s class.  Math and reading, reading and math.  That’s all we really do.  Sure, now we do fractions instead of just dividing and multiplying, but otherwise, it’s all the same.  None of the other kids like me, but I think they’re all stupid and disgusting, so that’s ok. The school counselor, Mr. Adamson, says it’s because I’m over-imaginative and highly intelligent for my age, and the other kids don’t understand me. That makes sense why Trevor Adkins says I talk funny – he can’t understand me!  I go across the street to walk to school, since everyone on this street walks on this side of Cemetery Road.  What a great name for a street, right?!  All because there are three graveyards on the same street!  One of the caretakers even lives on this street.  I don’t know which house, but I hope I get to meet him sometime!

I do kinda wish I could ask someone about the smell across the street.  The old house there looks empty most of the time, with its brown, stained windowshades, and swampy front yard.  The black, iron fence around it is always locked, too.  I know because the padlock on it is the biggest lock anyone’s ever seen!  It’s all black and iron, too.  I bet it weighs thirty pounds, at least.  It’s bigger around than Bobby Gallagher’s fist, and Bobby’s the beefiest seventh grader in Wren Lake.  Our Easter ham last year was smaller than Bobby’s fist.  I think someone’s cat, or dog, must’ve hidden somewhere over there and died, though.  It’s too bad the next-door lots are empty.  A neighbor surely would’ve called someone to take care of the putrefying pet by now (I had to look that word up just now – I like when words start with the same sound, although Mr. Adamson says that’s the kind of thing the other kids don’t understand about me). 

Whoa!  The house across the street is NOT empty!  I just looked out my window, and there’s a light on in the house! I saw a flicker of a candle in the window, and then a huge chandelier burst into flame behind it. There are a bunch of people in there. They must be having some boring, adult party over there, because just about everybody is sitting in a chair.  There’s somebody going around and checking on everyone, though.  He must be the butler.  He walks over to each guest, bends over to talk to them, and kind of…fusses over them.  Is that normal for a butler to do?  Wow.  I just realized that all those rich people… they must be rich, to have a butler… must not mind the smell of the cat corpse too much, if they’re hanging out there and eating and drinking stuff.  Umm…wait.  Ok, I’m back.  Had to check something.  Turns out that nobody is eating or drinking anything.  Isn’t that what adults do at parties, though?  Oh, except the butler.  I could see him sampling whatever he was offering to the guests.  He would bend over to talk to them, help them straighten their tie, or their hair, and pop something in his mouth as he stood up.  That seems weird.  I’m going to go look again…

Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!  I think one of the guests is dead!  The head of one of them just drooped forward while I was looking, and they kind of … slumped.  Hold on, hold on… just hold on, Scotty.  Maybe they fell asleep.  Old people do that, don’t they?  Grandma is always dozing off, right in the middle of a conversation, sometimes!  I bet if I checked again, the person would either be sitting up again, or walking around trying to wake up.  No, I still haven’t looked again.  I don’t want to. 

That chair is empty now.  Oh, and there’s an ancient rustbucket in the driveway.  I don’t know where it came from.  I’d swear it wasn’t there a few minutes ago.  It’s an old stationwagon.  I only know that because Mom drags me to the car museum.  She thinks I should be interested in cars, because I’m a boy.  The stationwagon is backed in, so it looks like it’s watching the street, standing guard.  I had to tell Mom about the high-heeled shoe I could see behind the passenger-side rear wheel.  I think the butler was putting the dead lady in the back of the stationwagon.  Mom said I was letting my imagination make up stories about old man Roper just because he works at the graveyard.  I didn’t know that was the caretaker’s house!  Did I just hear our front door slam?  Hold on a minute…

Mom’s going over there!  She went and made up a fruit basket for the psycho undertaker-slash-butler, and is delivering it to his front door!  Oh, and a big bee-tee-dubs… that chair the dead lady was in?  Yeah, it’s not empty, after all… there’s a head sitting on the cushion! Sorry, Almanac of Evil, I need to call the cops before Mom finds a way past that monstrous lock! 

The front door just closed again.  But I don’t think it’s Mom.  She didn’t answer when I called downstairs to her.  The police aren’t coming.  They laughed at me and told me I could get in big trouble for making prank calls.  You know that sound of silverware scraping together as some hungry person sharpens their knife and fork?  I’ve never actually heard it before.  I hear it now.  It’s coming up the stair



The End


Richard Brown lives in the Pacific Northwest with his Guide Dog, Edison. His short stories have appeared in five Black Petals issues, including the 25th Anniversary issue (#100).