Black Petals Issue #103, Spring, 2023

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Editor's Page
BP Artists and Illustrators
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
All the Sky Is Waiting to Be Told: Fiction by Daniel I. Clark
Fire Sale: Fiction by Christopher Pate
Kregah: Fiction by Ron Capshaw
The Beauty of Machinery: Fiction by Hayden Seay
The Cold Sore: Fiction by Chris McGuinness
The Lake: Fiction by Harper Hargis
The Price: Fiction by Josh Hanson
The Tailbone Is Connected to the Hipbone: Fiction by Michael Fowler
The Thorn Tree: Fiction by Lawrence Buentello
They: Fiction by Tony Ayers
Work Experience: Fiction by Martin Taulbut
Burns: 3 Connected Drabbles by Hillary Lyon
Grandma Medusa: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
I'm So Sorry, Computer: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Invasive: Flash Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
Jumper: Flash Fiction by Kurt Hohmann
Personal Things: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Good Doctor: Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Another Tomato Invasion, Again: Poem by I. N. Shimabuku
Curse of the Crazies: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Ghosted: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Meteor Moon: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Halo Around the Sun: Poem by Kenneth Vincent Walker
Maker's Image: Poem by Bindi Lavelle
Specimen: Poem by Bindi Lavelle
Blood-stained Jupiter: Poem by Meg Smith
Cat Science: Poem by Meg Smith
Mortician's Powder: Poem by Meg Smith
The Pinups of the Afterlife: Poem by Meg Smith
Dark Gate Park: Poem by Meg Smith
A turntable fabricates hope during the apocalypse in 3 parts: Poem by Dennis Bagwell
Reverend Mother Munchausen: Poem by Sophia Wiseman-Rose
Whispers of Winter: Poem by Ashley N. Goodwin
A Man Is Nothing Without His Wife: Poem by Ashley N. Goodwin

Ron Capshaw: Kregah

bp_103_kregah_stanton.jpg
Art by Henry Stanton 2023

Kregah

 

By Ron Capshaw

 

          Calloused feet landed behind me.

          There was no need to turn around.

          Because we were the only living people who knew where the cabin was.

           Instead I stared at a snake that had wrapped itself around the knob of a door made by good old British craftsmanship 100 years ago.

          How utterly appropriate.

          The snake, that symbol of ultimate evil, was on guard duty.

          Age had rotted the wood so instead of risking a snake bite, I kicked the door off its hinges. The snake quickly slithered toward me but changed course when the man behind me growled.

          We went into the musty, cob-webbed cabin, me on two legs, the Duke of Greyminster on all fours. A lizard darted past the rotting wooden toys on the floor and I heard him gulp it down.

          An appetizer.

I stopped at a makeshift double bed that had a tarantula on it and finally faced him.

          He didn’t disappoint. The last time I saw him, during that interview that kick-started the biography I would write, that would let the world know he was real, he was dressed in the height of fashion circa 1970.        

          Now he was dressed as a Jungle Lord should be.

          A loin cloth. A knife in a scabbard hanging from a belt. A bow and arrows slung across his broad shoulders.

          But he also looked more primitive than the figure painted on the covers of the novels.

 His hair was matted, and his gray eyes blazed out of a mud and blood covered face. Scars criss-crossed his bronzed stomach, chest and back.

Otherwise he fit the covers. He had the body of an Olympic swimmer even though he had 90 years on me.

But then again I didn’t have access to the Eternity Root that grew in a part of the jungle no white man or even African tribesman had penetrated.

That was one of the things unmentioned by Meridian Phillps in the novels.  Because it wasn’t necessary.  Readers didn’t mind their fictional heroes being permanently 30. Forever in their prime.

The Duke didn’t mind because this, along with tales of men the size of one’s thumb and lost colonies of Roman centurions with lizard tails, made him seem a figment of Phillips’ imagination.

It took me four years of painstaking research to find out that the figure currently crouching in front of me was the real ‘Wilde of the Jungle.’

          “I take it you got my letter.”

          “Yes,” he said in a clipped British accent that had an undertone of one only an anthropologist could identify. “You have a wonderful economy with words.”

          Anyone else would have not understood what I wrote:

          I found the crime scene.”

          And that was where we were; in a jungle cabin that a shipwrecked British family had built a century before.

          “I take it the book isn’t going well,” the Jungle Lord said.

          “Yes. Writer’s block. But not the usual kind. I haven’t run out of words. It’s a matter of whether to include this and shatter people’s illusions about you, especially those who believe in you, or leave it out and let you remain the romantic noble savage of Meridian Phillips books.”

          I pulled out a cracked leather-bound book with yellowed pages peeking out.

          He knew what it was. He paled underneath his deep tan, and growled and retreated on all fours like a cornered cat.

          “The rumors were true,” he said in a whisper. He swallowed hard.

           “Yes. Your father hid it well. And it made it into your creator’s hands but not until the 8th novel."

          I looked at one of the wooden toys. It was a ship, and you could barely make out the Union Jack painted on it.

 “Did he know you were real before he wrote the first novel?”

          “Yes,” the Jungle Man said. “My friend, in his cups, told him the story the British government tried to keep quiet.”

          “But not all of it.”

          “No. I met Phillips once and liked him too much to tell him what was necessary to survive in the jungle.”

          I gestured at the bed.

          “What happened here was not about survival.”

          He didn’t seem to hear me. He was looking out of the doorless frame into the jungle.

          “Phillips thought they were apes,” he said, smiling in a way that was the closest he would come to looking nostalgic.

          “Your father drew them in the diary. They were closer on the evolutionary scale to humans, rather than apes.”

          “Yes. They were what you Yanks call ‘Bigfoot.”’

          I felt in the back of my khaki pants to make sure the pistol was still there. I gave myself less than half a chance of surviving this.

          But I had to go through with it.

          He was still gazing out of the cabin into the jungle.

          “They’re probably extinct now. I tried not to love them. To see them as simply my subjects.”

          “Your accomplices.”

          His gray eyes blazed at me.

          “You didn’t have to go through what I did! I wasn’t an infant as Phillips wrote in the first novel. Had I been, the Kregahs would have eaten me on the spot.”

          “You were ten.”

          “Twelve actually. Daddy started on me when I was six. I think he would have eventually resumed our ‘relationship’ after the shipwreck. Away from the eyes of my mother, of course, even though she once came upon us in the dining room of the castle with me bent over a table. It was only a matter of time before he took me into the bush.”

          “But then the Kregahs came when I was outside the cabin, and I gladly took to the trees with them.”

          “I left my parents alone for 6 months. And then when they gave up looking for me and yet felt nice and safe, we came back.”

          My body started itching. I wanted out of there because I had read what happened next in his father’s diary.

           “Why your mother?”

          His eyes seemed to flash red for an instant.

          “She didn’t try to stop it! She would rather let him keep at me than get me away from his groping hands and risk the scandal of being a divorcee.”

          “But dear old Dad left me a legacy. I had developed a taste for what we did, albeit I wanted to be the one doing the thrusting, and the male Kregahs and later the warriors in the African tribes were more or less happy to oblige.”

          He took his knife out of the scabbard. It was whittled thin from age and constant use. I guess he was sentimental about it even though it was his father’s knife.  

“I wanted Father to suffer. So the best way was to make him watch. As we dragged what was left of her out of the cabin and into the bush, I saw that his mind had snapped. He was cackling and drooling in the corner.””

I looked around the cabin and somehow knew which corner it was.

“I wanted him to live with the memory of what we did to her. I gave it a year and then when I came back the son of a bitch had shot himself. He died with a strange smile on his face.”

“I couldn’t figure out why until I learned about the existence of his diary after someone found it. The Kregahs, with their limited intelligence, later told me they saw white men go into the cabin and carry away a book.”

 I tossed him the diary. What the hell. It wasn’t like I would be walking out of here, pistol or not.

”You should have killed him that day and not let him live for a while. During that time, his sanity, or whatever you want to call it, came back enough for him to write about what happened to his wife. It’s all there. In cold print.”

I almost whipped out my gun and shot him when he smiled and licked his lips.  

His eyes gazed at the bed.

“Did Philips know?” he asked.

“Not at first. As I said, he didn’t get a hold of the diary until the 8th novel. That was why he killed himself. Because you were nothing like the heroic image Phillips presented to the world.”   

His knife was now pointed at me.

I had mere seconds left, but I had to know.

“Did you eat your dead father also?”

 “Just his heart. I left the rest for the Kregahs.”

“Was he your last human meal?”

“Oh no,” he said, grinning. “But you will be the latest in a long line of them.”

He launched himself at me roaring.

I had the gun out, fired and missed.


Ron Capshaw is a writer based in Florida. His novel, The Stage Mother's Club, came out in June from Dark Edge Press. Here is the link:

https://www.amazon.com/Stage-Mothers-Club-Ron-Capshaw/dp/B0BWPN4GP8/ref=sr_1_1?crid=28E2C73KBSH1F&keywords=the+stage+mother%27s+club&qid=1680278727&s=books&sprefix=the+stage+mother%27s%2Cstripbooks%2C139&sr=1-1

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