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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
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

87_ym_caveman_scartwright.jpg
Art by Steve Cartwright 2021

Caveman

 

by Ben Newell

         

 

          Standing in the middle of the showroom, Bruno stared at the long list of names on the wall-mounted flat screen. At this rate he’d be here all damned day. The AT&T store was a madhouse, everybody diddling with their respective devices, discussing this and that with the many customer service reps. 

They can have it, Bruno thought. 

He was done. Fuck technology. His smartphone had drained his bank account and shredded his self-esteem. Enough was enough. Today’s visit was long overdue. He wanted out of his contract. No service whatsoever.

  Of course, they were going to ream him with an early termination fee, but he didn’t care. Anything to regain his freedom. And pride.

Bruno stepped outside and sat in his car and smoked a cigarette.

Tinder . . .

Eight months ago, he had tried it out. Lonely, depressed, and deprived, and desperate for a sexual encounter, he had discarded his antiquated flip phone for an entry-level smartphone. Given his meager skill set, it had taken him hours to figure out the app, post a pic, etc. He had been excited, certain that his life would be an endless procession of hookups with horny women.

 Boy, was he wrong. Nothing. Not one lousy date.

“Time to do this thing the old-fashioned way,” Bruno muttered.  “Back to basics.”

#

Two hours later Bruno put AT&T in his rearview mirror and headed straight to the sporting goods store. Academy or Dick’s? The latter was more expensive, carried high-end stuff. He opted for Academy. Top-of-the-line wasn’t necessary. And he was on a tight budget. Those monthly payments to AT&T had really set him back. Luckily today’s termination fee hadn’t been as bad as he had thought. 

Now he was a minority, one of the few with no cell phone. It felt great, exhilarating, and liberating. A huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. 

Bruno entered the store with purposeful strides, the gait of a man on a mission. He went straight to the baseball bats.

#

It was Saturday, three days since Bruno’s AT&T adventure. He sat in his car in the gravel lot at the mouth of the nature trail. He had the place to himself; no real surprise as it was awfully sticky. Six in the evening and the August humidity showed no signs of relinquishing its grip. 

Still, Bruno preferred this to the cold. He hated winter. Women showed more flesh in the summer. Cold beer tasted better. Simple as that.  Back to basics. 

He slid out from behind the wheel, walked around and opened his trunk. He reached in, hefted the new bat. The salesman had tried to sell him a fancy aluminum model, but Bruno had declined. Nothing like a wooden baseball bat. American to the core. Timeless.   

  He slammed the lid, rested the bat on his shoulder, and started walking.

#

He waited and waited in the woods bordering the trail. Nothing doing.  Not a single candidate. So, he drove home and got drunk and slept until noon the next day, returning to the same spot, at the same time that evening.

Bruno hadn’t been in the brush fifteen minutes when he heard the rhythmic cadence of running shoes slapping the trail. 

She was alone. Early to mid-thirties. Sweating, huffing, and puffing. 

He waited until she had passed, then emerged from behind the tree, attacking her from behind in an all-out blitz. She looked over her shoulder as he raised the bat. Too late. Bruno whacked her over the head. One good shot was all it took. 

#

He put her ponytail tie in his pocket, grabbed a handful of hair, and dragged her into the woods until he could no longer see the trail. 

After finding a suitable clearing, he did what came naturally.    

 

 

 

Ben Newell, 49, writes poetry and fiction and the occasional review. His first full-length collection of poetry, Fuzzball, was published by Epic Rites Press. His short fiction has appeared in Alien Buddha ZineBristol NoirHorror Sleaze TrashShotgun Honey, and others.  He lives in Mississippi where he works in the reference dept. at a public library.



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