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An Accidental Suicide-Fiction by Pamela Ebel
Dead Revival-Fiction by Vinnie Hansen
Deep-Fiction by Jon Park
Four Slugs-Fiction by C. A. Rowland
Note to Self-Fiction by Peter W. J. Hayes
Fool's Paradise-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
One-Armed and Dangerous-Fiction by Zakariah Johnson
Ray's Mistake-Fiction by Elena E.Smith
Shoplifting Lessons-Fiction by M. A. De Neve
Little Jimmy's Special Days-Fiction by Tom Barker
Lorraine's Recipe-Fiction by Alison Kaiser
The Italian Job-Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
The Gas Man-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Deep Cuts at the Inner Groove-Fiction by Jeff Esterholm
No Reason-Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
The Tourist-Flash Fiction by Max Thrax
The Rebound-Flash Fiction by Kathleen Bryson
Caveman-Flash Fiction by Ben Newell
This is Nothing. This is Nowhere. September, 2008-Poem by John Doyle
What I Expected-Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Thank You-Poem by Meg Baird
She Sings the Rum Song to Me-Poem by Otto Burnwell
Whiskey at the Horseman-Poem by Otto Burnwell
Conversing With Dark Passions-Poem by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Floof-Poem by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Beyond Our Cities-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Rose-Colored Clouds-Poem by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen
Questioning-Poem by Scott Cumming
Running Until We Run Out-Poem by Scott Cumming
Lost Without Knowing It-Poem by Richard LeDue
Unwell-Poem by Richard LeDue
What Are You Waiting For?-Poem by Richard LeDue
All I Ask-Poem by John Grey
Gigolette-Poem by John Grey
The Grave-Robbers in the Distance-Poem by John Grey
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 Steve Cartwright 2021

“An Accidental Suicide”


Pamela Ebel


“Good morning Bay City Viewers. Thank you for waking up with KVUE. It is February 3, 2021, and we start our 5:00 a.m. hour with Breaking News from Sacramento, where the State Parole Board has granted a request to consider early parole for convicted murderer, Cortez Hawks. Famous for restoring and reviving the Rock ‘n Roll classics of the 1950’s and 60’ as music videos, Hawks was convicted in 2006 of the second-degree murder of actress and singer Fawn Douglas. She was found shot in the head at his Hollywood Hills mansion seventeen years ago today on February 3, 2004. Hawks, who has always claimed his innocence, has served fifteen years of his nineteen years to life sentence and would be eligible for parole in four years. His attorney argues that the seventy-five year old is suffering from congestive heart failure and should be released from prison for medical and humanitarian reasons. Please stay tuned for further developments.

“In other music-related news, Americans around the country are remembering sixty-two years ago today, February 3, 1959, when a plane crash took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and ‘The Big Bopper’ J.P. Richardson.”

Cortez Hawks stared at the television from his bed in the local hospital. He had been moved from the prison infirmary because of the need for specialized treatment and the pending parole hearing.

“I tried really hard to get those three estates to let me do a deal for video remasters and got nowhere. There ought to be laws about using old materials when the singers are dead. I could have made some real money.”

Hawks scowled at the TV and turned it off. John Desmond stopped adjusting a small video camera to look at his client.

“The laws, Cortez, are meant to keep the rights to the work product of the original artists in the hands of family and business associates. You know that. All of the videos you’ve created are going to be protected, your children’s interests will be protected and …”

“And they are all worthless losers waiting for dear old dad to die so they can spend all of my money. None of them have ever worked an honest day in their lives. But when you get me out of this joint, I am going to get a good doctor and fool everyone and live to be hundred”.

“Excuse the interruption but I have to change your medicine drip. It will just take a few minutes.”

Cortez looked the blonde woman standing by his bed up and down and leered at her.

“You my nurse for today? An improvement over that broad from yesterday.”

“I’ll be working with you. Yes. And this will just take a minute.”

His attorney called Cortez back to their discussion.

“You won’t be getting out of anywhere if you don’t let me get this brief video made to show the parole board this afternoon. We are basing this early release on your medical condition and they need to see you’re ill and need better care than you get from the state. You also need to show them that you are contrite and remorseful about Fawn Douglas’s death.”

“I keep telling you that I should have never been convicted. My trial attorney did a lousy job. The evidence wasn’t enough to find me guilty of anything. I should have walked.”

“You already lost the bid for a new trial based on ‘incompetent counsel’ twelve years ago. And, I really don’t want to relitigate the facts of the shooting. The less said about that the better for you. We just need to show you are remorseful, didn’t have a record of bad acts before this unfortunate event and that at your age and with your medical condition it is humane to let you out. You’re lucky none of Ms. Douglas’s family has chosen to contest our request.”

“They don’t care about her. All I ever heard from them was how I should admit to shooting that loser. She was a B list actress and washed up at thirty.”

“Cortez, I have worked with you for several months to secure this hearing. Disparaging language about the victim and this angry attitude will not get your parole.”

“I don’t care if you don’t like my attitude. Those guys in Sacramento need to understand I got a raw deal. There weren’t any witnesses that saw me shoot her. She had gunshot residue on her hands. She shot herself. She was drunk and carrying on and whining. God, I hate whining women.”

“Where did she get the gun, Cortez? How did she get her hands on your gun in the first place?”

“I don’t know. She just did. I said it over and over. She wanted to off herself, but not really. It was an accidental suicide. It has been fifteen years. We all need to move on.”

“I think we will be better off if I just submit the medical reports to the parole board without any video. I have to get on the road shortly. I will call you with the results.

“I’m done now. You should rest, Mr. Hawks. We will check in with you in a while.” The nurse nodded and left the room.  The attorney followed shortly after.

Hawks had breakfast and took his morning meds and dozed off. He woke an hour later struggling to breathe. The television announcer was reporting the State Board had denied his parole request.

He shouted at the TV and began choking. The nurse appeared in the room.

“Are you alright Mr. Hawks? Your vital signs are going off the charts.”

“I can’t believe they won’t let me go. I got a raw deal.”

“Please calm yourself or you will have another heart attack. I need to check on your meds.”

“I don’t feel so good. I can’t breathe. I need my digitalis. Give me some.”

“I will have to check because your chart doesn’t show when your last dose was. I have the pills, but I want to call the desk.”

She put the cup of digitalis pills on the tray table and turned to the phone. In the mirror she watched as Hawks picked up the pills and swallowed all of them then fell back on the bed clutching his chest.

“My heart’s racing. I feel like I am going to explode. You have to help me. What’s your name?”

“Your heart is filling with fluid, Hawks. That drip bag I put up an hour ago was filled with digitalis. Just now you swallowed double your normal dose of it. Oh, and my name is Douglas, Fran Douglas. And you’re wrong that our family doesn’t care about my sister Fawn.  I’m about to show you how much we care about her reputation and memory. You won’t be able to lie about her death, or anything ever again.”

Douglas took down the drip bag filled with digitalis and put the correct medicine bag up. Hawks grabbed at her sleeve.

“What have you done? Help me! I can’t breathe.”

 He stared into Douglas’ eyes and felt fear for the first time since he had been convicted of the murder.  

Hawks reached for the call button as Douglas moved it just out of his reach and placed some digitalis pills in his hand. She took one more look at him and walked out of the room. The realization that no help was coming was the last thought Cortez Hawks had.

Fran Douglas stood at the elevator as the crash cart flew by her. The white uniform, latex gloves and drip bag had been dumped in the Hazardous Material Waste Can. She rode down to the lobby, left the hospital and crossed the street to a bar. She ordered a glass of champagne and watched as Breaking News came on the television.

“We have just learned that Cortez Hawks has been pronounced dead at the county hospital. The treating physician said that Hawks had taken a lethal dose of his digitalis upon hearing of his parole denial, causing death from Digoxin Toxicity.  Sources say Hawks took the overdose, appeared to change his mind and was reaching for the call button but couldn’t get to it before he died.”

The bartender looked at the television as a photo of Fawn appeared. “Guy got what he deserved. Pretty Girl.”  

He moved to the other end of the bar.

Fran smiled at the photo and raised her glass.

“Here’s to Accidental Suicide, Sis.”

The bartender put on a music station and the soft strains of Don McLean’s homage to Buddy Holly filled the room.


Art by Steve Cartwright 2021

Pamela Ebel been published in Shotgun Honey and The BOULD AWARDS 2020 Anthology, as well other venues. Her poetry has appeared in the Delta Poetry Review. A native of California, she now concentrates on tales from her original home state and tales from the highways of the South. She also knows, like the Ancient Greeks and the Irish, that as a southern writer, you can’t outrun your blood.

She has turned to writing full time as of 2020, obviously either perfect or bizarre timing, and this will be her fifth career. She lives in Metairie, Louisiana, with her husband and two cats.

It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021