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A Bad Place to Be-Fiction by Lamont A. Turner
If the World Never Knows Our Names-Fiction by Craig Fishbane
I'm Not Antonio-Fiction by Garr Parks
George's Personal Big Bang-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
When the Omen Follows You Home-Fiction by Alyson Tait
The Pie Room-Fiction by Dave Kunz
On the Matter of Hennessey-Fiction by Ed Nobody
Proud to Be a Pig-Fiction by Bob Ritchie
Marmalade and Mayhem-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Check Out-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
The Stanton Harbor Grocery Massacre-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Seizing Power-Flash Fiction by Tim Frank
Frog Huntin'-Flash Fiction by Gary Clifton
Best Friend Forever-Flash Fiction by Serena Jayne
Bus Stop-Flash Fiction by Jonathan Woods
Doing Without-Poem by R. Gerry Fabian
Another Day-Poem by Ann Marie Rhiel
Don't Say You'll Play the Game If You Don't Know the Rules-Poem by David Centorbi
Why I Stopped Being Me-Poem by John Sweet
Something About Her-Poem by Meg Baird
Only the Good-Poem by James Lilley
Bill's Otherworldly Cafe Across from Cafe Bizarro-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Eating Catfish on the Bank of the Sankuru River-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Post Mortem-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Deer in the Headlights-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
I, Cartographer-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
I'll Paint You a Picture-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
beside wild roses-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
sitting quietly-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
lifetimes-poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
All the Way Home-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
like a poem written-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
So There-Poem by Judith Partin-Nielsen
Sugar Wolf-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 Henry Stanton © 2021

Seizing Power

by Tim Frank



Everyone has their team and we had ours. Christian was one of us but at some point, he decided to follow his own path. He stopped answering our calls, avoided the Rainbow café where we met to plot and drag on cigarettes like soldiers in Eastern lands. But the gang tracked him down, found him holed up in a motel with a whore that looked like a boxer with a weak chin and bruised pillowcase eyes. He'd spent all his money on her, said he was in love. So, we paid her off, slapped some sense into him and as he vomited blood on the nylon carpet, he apologised. Then we allowed him back into the fold.

Whenever there was friction amongst the boys, I was the man who they relied upon to mediate.

I proved my worth when Paolo almost killed Lance for a small block of Afghani hash Lance was slinging on the waterfront. Paolo punched Lance in the Adam's apple with his pointed rings and Lance nearly choked to death.

Everyone wanted to punish Paolo. He was part of the crew, true, but most of us were repelled by him as he had a thing for young boys who he catfished on the net—plus, he owed us all money.

I gathered everyone at the Rainbow café, and we sat on the wobbly aluminium chairs as pedestrians dodged brown globs of phlegm that we spat on the sidewalk. We formed into a huddle, and I hollered above the blare of the traffic, “The crew is all, it's like a marriage—for better, for worse. And so, Paolo is one of us. It's true he’s fucked up, but nevertheless we must protect him."

Everyone lit up and coughed into their fists. They took turns to spit again and mulled over my words. Finally, they agreed to let Paolo be. That's why I'm the leader.

One afternoon I arrived at the café and I was furious to learn that the lads had met up an hour before me. This was not how things were done and I took it as a clear threat to my position.

"What's going on?" I said, taking a seat, starting to roll a cigarette, making it clean and straight. "You guys forgotten who's in charge here? Anyhow, it's good to see you two all friendly," I said, indicating Lance and Paolo. And it was true, they looked united wearing their Adidas Classics, the figure-hugging black tracksuits and their pouches strapped around their shoulders.

"We want Paolo out," Lance said, nervously playing with a box of matches, the harsh bruising around his neck still visible.

"I thought we'd dealt with this issue," I said.

"You decided. We didn't," said Lance.

"So, what's the difference?" I chuckled.

"Let's not do this on the street," said Lance.

"What is your problem?" said Paolo, scanning Lance as if he was a cockroach, clenching his fists, ready to go again.

"Enough," I said.

"You don't get to give orders anymore," snapped Lance.

I stood, whipped out my blade from my back pocket and held it against Lance's flared nostril. Before I knew it, the rest of my crew had pounced on me. My knife slipped and I slit Lance's nose. Blood splashed across the crew's cigarette packs that were stacked on the table and then the claret dripped into the cracks of the pavement below. I was pinned against the concrete by Christian, and Lance said, "This is the new way. I give the orders now. Either you step down or you suffer the same fate as Paolo."

And like that, my life was transformed. I’d had my time. It was my turn to sink back into the shadows, take orders, laugh when it was appropriate, and mirror the fluctuating moods of my crew in order to fit in.

Our personalities would continue to ebb and flow within each other’s orbit and I just had to accept my position until I could rise up again. Eventually I would take back my rightful place, seize power, and rule with an iron fist. Next time I would never let go.


Tim Frank’s short stories have been published over sixty times in journals, including Able Muse, Bourbon Penn, Intrinsick, Menacing Hedge, Literally Stories, Eunoia Review, Maudlin House, and The Fiction Pool

He has been nominated for The Best Mystery Stories of the Year 2020 and is the associate fiction editor for Able Muse Literary Journal

Henry Stanton's fiction, poetry and paintings appear in 2River, The A3 Review, Avatar, The Baltimore City Paper, The Baltimore Sun Magazine, High Shelf Press, Kestrel, North of Oxford, Outlaw Poetry, PCC Inscape, Pindeldyboz, Rusty Truck, Salt & Syntax, SmokeLong Quarterly, The William and Mary Review, Word Riot, The Write Launch, and Yellow Mama, among other publications. 

His poetry was selected for the A3 Review Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Eyewear 9th Fortnight Prize for Poetry.  His fiction received an Honorable Mention acceptance for the Salt & Syntax Fiction Contest and was selected as a finalist for the Pen 2 Paper Annual Writing Contest.

A selection of Henry Stanton's paintings are currently on show at Atwater's Catonsville and can be viewed at the following website www.brightportfal.com.  A selection of Henry Stanton’s published fiction and poetry can be located for reading in the library at www.brightportfal.com.

Henry Stanton is the Founding & Managing Editor of The Raw Art Reviewwww.therawartreview.com.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2021