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Lisa's Revenge-Fiction by Janet Hatwell
Her Passion-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Threes-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Ruby in the Red Hoodie-Fiction by Ryan Priest
No-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Fat Trucker, Hot Wife-Fiction by Matthew Copes
Between the Sheets-Fiction by K. Marvin Bruce
Hearts in Retrograde-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
From a Buick-Kind-of-Place-Fiction by Darrell Petska
The Map-Fiction by Jan Christensen
Old Mules-Fiction by Mickey J. Corrigan
The Right Tool for the Job-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The War Against Stuff-Fiction by Fred Andersen
The Handyman-Fiction by Bobby Mathews
Till Death Do Us Part-Fiction by Justin Swartz
Deadville-Fiction by Gary Clifton
Huggermugger-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Mortuary-Flash Fiction by Doug Hawley
Inside Room 107-Flash Fiction by Dustin Walker
Gatophobia-Flash Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Daybreak Over I-15-Poem by C. W. Blackwell
Confetti and Juicy Fruit Gum-Poem by Kenneth James Crist
Night in Cumming's Cove-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Scar-Poem by Otto Burnwell
Graveyard Love-Poem by John Grey
Plan but No Really Plan-Poem by Joe Balaz
Audible Sigh-Poem by John Tustin
Erica-Poem by John Tustin
Heartbreaker-Poem by Meg Baird
La Guitare-Poem by Meg Baird
Parking Garage-Poem by Joel Matulich
Vintage Trade Paperback-Poem by Joel Matulich
Perpetual Motion-Poem by Stephen J. Golds
The Best Ones Are the Crazy Ones-Poem by Stephen J. Golds
Black Widow-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Out of My Skin-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
The Terrible Shadows-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Lucky Number Seven-Poem by Bradford Middleton
The Old Routine of Dreaming and Blasting-Poem by Bradford Middleton
F**K It, Let's Listen to the Ramones-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Our Open Window-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Wandering Woman-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Winter's Twilight Sky-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
You, I, Together-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Each Day-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Ghost Dance-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
He Paid For-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Winter Woman-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Art by Cynthia Fawcett 2021



Jan Christensen


The hand-drawn map accompanying the ransom note looked clear enough. Drive up Lonesome Hill and continue down the other side. At Crisco Pass, make a left, drive for one mile. The computer-generated instructions at the top of the page said a cabin, on the right, stood back from the road. A sign was by the mailbox: “Lonesome Hill Lodge.”

Gaye didn’t need the map. Her parents took her there for dinner on special occasions, but it had been closed for years. Just as well. The particular memories of those outings were not all pleasant—the bickering had become old by the time she turned twelve. But at least they were more subtle about it when out in public. At home, the dishes and insults flew in about equal measure. Was she bitter about her childhood? Yes.

She thought about Josh. How was he holding up? How did it feel to be big, strong, and helpless? She wondered if he was wounded, and if so, where. She wondered if he was alive.

Pushing those thoughts away, she had to make a decision about how to handle this. Meet the kidnapper’s demand not to notify the police? Just pay the ransom and hope for the best? Or go up there and rescue Josh on her own?

The irony was, she no longer loved Josh. He’d become predicable, uninteresting. Gaye craved excitement and risk. Should she risk her life now? For someone she didn’t even love? It was against everything she believed in to pay the ransom.

What did she owe Josh? She knew he’d stayed with her for the lifestyle, not for love. He seemed to like her okay, laughed at her jokes, humored her dark moods, and made her favorite cocktail. But any gigolo would do the same. It was all so trite. Rich, slightly older—okay, quite a bit older—woman, and young, handsome lifeguard—lifeguard! Yes, he was going to college to earn a degree in, what was it? She couldn’t remember. After they met, he dropped out to jet around with her.

Now he’d got himself kidnapped. She looked at the note again. There was something about it . . .


Gaye drove up the big hill with the top down on her red Mercedes, a stuffed Kate Spade satchel in the trunk. She sang along with Billy Joel, tapping time with her fingers on the steering wheel. The drive was spectacular—tall white birch trees, the occasional deer, and the scent of pine needles in the air.

When she arrived, she was saddened to see the dilapidated lodge. Someone stood in the doorway and watched her climb the stairs. He had a Glock in his left hand and a bandana over the lower part of his face.

Gaye’s long, blonde hair was pulled tightly back into a ponytail and her own gun nestled in its holster under her left arm. The satchel felt heavy in her hand, and after the two of them entered, she set it down by the door.

“I see you didn’t call the authorities.” The voice was low and slightly muffled.

“How do you know they’re not hiding in the trees?”

“I tracked all your phone calls. And your movements.”

“Phone GPS? I could have left it somewhere and walked away. You wouldn’t have known.”

He shook his head. “I followed you and bugged your house. And your car.”

She didn’t like that, but she shrugged. “You kidnapped Josh all by yourself?”

The corners of his hazel eyes crinkled, so she knew he was smiling. “Yep.”

“Where is he?”

“In there.” He pointed with the Glock toward a closed door to the left.

“Is he all right?”

“He’s okay. You lead the way. Bring the bag.”

She picked it up and walked to the door, opened it, and looked inside.

Josh sat behind a desk, his arms pulled toward his back as if handcuffed. A bandana was tied around his mouth. His eyes pleaded with her for help.

Gorgeous eyes. Hair all in place. His yellow golf shirt looked as fresh as when she saw him three days ago. She turned to the other man. “Take off the gag. I need to talk to him.”

 “You don’t give the orders here. The gag stays until our transaction is done.”

“The bag doesn’t get unlocked until I decide to unlock it. And you’ll never find the key. So, take the gag off. Now.”

He squinted at her. “I’ll shoot the lock off if necessary.”

She sighed and dropped the bag to the floor. “Josh, what are you doing?”

When the man turned to look, his gun hand lowered slightly. Gaye pulled out her Smith and Wesson and shot him in three easy shots to the neck. He’d stood way too close to her. He fell to the floor in a heap.

Josh pulled the bandana away from his mouth, stood up and staggered around the desk.

“Stay where you are, Josh.”

He stopped short, looking shocked.

She bent down to get the other man’s gun, holstered her own, and pointed the Glock at Josh. “You should have finished your coursework at college. Maybe it would have smartened you up.”

“What are you talking about?” His voice sounded strained and weak.

“You thought you were being so clever. You forgot you’d drawn a map to this place back when we first met after I told you about it.”

He started shaking his head and couldn’t seem to stop. “No. You’re wrong.”

Her gun hand didn’t waver. “No, I’m not. You made the same mistake on both of the maps. You spelled Lonesome wrong. It has two e’s. You weren’t majoring in English, were you? I forget what it was.”

Still shaking his head, he stepped backward. “Criminal Justice,” he whispered.

She laughed. Then she shot him in the heart and watched him fall. She wiped the Glock with a handkerchief she had in her pocket and placed the gun in the other man’s hand. Did the same with her own, untraceable one, and put it in Josh’s hand. Then she picked up the satchel full of bricks and left the lodge.

“Won’t be going back there,” she said as she climbed into her BMW. “Full of bad memories.”

Halfway down the hill, a sudden thought hit her. Had she put the gun in the other man’s right hand or left hand? She couldn’t remember. Too dangerous to go back. Dread engulfed her as she drove on. Maybe she should finish her own college degree. If she didn’t end up in prison. She doubted they taught criminal justice there.

Was that a siren she heard, or only a sound in her head? She guessed she’d soon find out.


Jan Christensen’s published short story collection numbers more than 70 stories (including “The Rock in My Pocket” in Issue #29 of Yellow Mama in December 2011). The latest appeared in Mystery Weekly, Mysterical-E, and Kings River Life. She has also published eleven novels, belong to MMA, SinC, and she is past president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Cynthia Fawcett has been writing for fun or money since she was able to hold a pen. A Jersey Girl at heart, she got her journalism degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee and now writes mostly technical articles about hydraulics and an occasional short story or poem on any other subject.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021