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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
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Whiskey at the Horseman-Poem by Otto Burnwell
Conversing With Dark Passions-Poem by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Floof-Poem by KJ Hannah Greenberg
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Questioning-Poem by Scott Cumming
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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

The Italian Job


Joe Surkiewicz


          “Roland? Give me Roland. I’ll hold.”

          “Roland? It’s Arthur. Art. I got it.”

          “Haven’t counted it yet. I’m still fucking out of breath.”

          “It went—good. It went good. Mostly.”

          “I don’t think so. Everyone was wearing a mask, just like you said. That part was smooth.”

          “Not as smooth. I had to write a note. I mean, another note.”

          “It’s kind of—I mean, unplanned. I had to write the teller another note.”

          “It’s awkward. I’m standing there, trying not to look like a bank robber while she’s stuffing bills—”

          “She who? The fucking teller, that’s she who. I’m trying to look like another schmuck customer while she’s stuffing—”

          “Yes, I gave her the note. ‘No exploding dye pack.’ She was emptying her tray into the bag. I’m watching, when—”

          “No, she was good. No alarm. Everyone else was business as usual. But then—”

          “I’m trying to tell you. Christ, will you shut the fuck up? The teller’s stuffing wads of cash into the bag. Then I got, I got this urge—”

          “No, you weren’t there. Will you let me? Will you let me tell you? I had to piss—bad.”

          “Well, I couldn’t stand there and pull it out, could I? What was I gonna do? Take a leak right there on the carpet? I wrote her a note.”

          “Yeah, yeah, big block letters. ‘I NEED TO USE THE RESTROOM.’ Then it got weird.”

          “No, not weird weird. Just weird. She leaned forward so’s no one else can hear and says, Customers can’t use the restroom.”

          “How would you feel, got to piss real bad, I mean, urgent? But I’m not losing my cool. Real polite like, I say, I’m not a customer. And that’s all. What I wanted to say was, I’m not a customer, I’m a bank robber. But I didn’t. I didn’t.”

          “Next? She pointed to a closed door two tellers down and said, I’ll buzz you in. Coulda kissed her.”

          “I’m not a complete moron, Roland. I took the bag with me. I can’t tell you how bad—”

          “What was I gonna do? I’ll tell you this. I’ll tell you. No more cappuccino before a job. I had three cappuccinos—”

          “Oh, excuse me. Cappuccini. You know, I do the job, I take the risk. I get the cash and then you’re, like, correcting my fucking Italian? Now I know why no one can stand you, you supercilious prick.”

          “What’d’ya mean, how’d it go? You want the details? I open the door of the rest—”

          “The restroom is right there behind the tellers. No one was looking at me. Business as usual. I open the door and thank god no one else is in there. I got my fly down before—”

          “You said you wanted all the details. I’m giving you all the details. I’ll tell you one thing, goddam it, I was never so happy to see a urinal.”

          “How’d it go? Seriously? You’ve never had to take a piss so bad—?”

          “Oh, after. It gets better. I zip up, walk out, the place isn’t swarming with cops, tellers are helping customers, everything’s normal. And there it is.”

          “I’m about to tell you. Will you please shut up? There’s a back door. The fucking bank has a back door. Who knew? So I walked out.”

          “No, it wasn’t locked. I mean, not from the inside, anyway. I’m pretty goddam sure it’s locked from the—”

          “Goddam right it meant no shootout in the lobby. Woulda been an awfully one-sided shootout, would nit? And we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

          “Say that again. I can’t believe my ears. Did I leave the bag—the bag with the fucking money—in the bathroom? What did I say not two minutes ago? What did I say? I got it.”

          “Well, thank you. I’m pleased to hear you say that. I had my doubts. I was a little dubious about the split, what with me, a near-geriatric with a trigger-happy bladder—”

          “I understand. I understand your situation. Your weight. Your asthma. I had doubts. But I get it. Division of labor. The masks—”

          “I agree. I totally agree. That was all you. You said it. Why no one else—”

          “Everybody’s still wearing a mask. It’s stick-up heaven. Why no one else—”

          “Really think so? Regular bank robbers are scared of the virus? Risk a gunfight with security but afraid of the flu? I mean, you’re right. When you’re right you’re right.”

          “Next? Fairly obvious. Count the—”

          “Oh, next next. Haven’t thought that far ahead.”

          “Really? No shit? Roland, I’m—”

          “No one else has done it? It’s inspired. Fucking inspired. Marijuana retail. Fuckin’ A, I’m in. Cash and weed.”

          “Yes, Roland, I’ll keep it to one cappuccino.”



Joe Surkiewicz is a reporter and writer living in Northern
Vermont. His fiction has appeared in Horror Sleaze Trash, in Shotgun
Honey (in September 2020), and in Yellow Mama (in December 2020). He is the author of several Unofficial Guide travel books and has written for the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, Outside Online, and many university alumni magazines.

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