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The Beetlemeyer Exhaltation_Fiction by Steve Carr
A Farmer's Tale-Fiction by James Kompany
Date with Yellow Mama-Fiction by Tom Barker
Sweet Spot-Fiction by Gary Clifton
Singers and Sinners-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Sleeping with Sharks!-Fiction by Pamela Ebel
The Long Shot-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Suds in the Bucket-Fiction by Elizabeth Zelvin
The Easy Job-Fiction by K. A. Williams
Think Tank-Fiction by Bruce Costello
Three Little Pigs-Fiction by Andrew Davie
Out of Time-Fiction by Steve Prusky
Hope-Flash Fiction by D. J. Tyrer
So Long, Sonny-Flash Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
Katnip-Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Twenty-Two-Flash Fiction by Wayne F. Burke
I May Be on My Way to Becoming a COVID Statistic-Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Night Poem-Poem by Christopher Hivner
jury's out on a motorcycle-Poem by Meg Baird
The Mauler-Poem by Harris Coverley
The Mob-Poem by Harris Coverley
Pandemic Noir on the Desolate Highway to Nowhere-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Pandemic Noir Inside an Otherworldly Oceanic Dream-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Illness Kills My Soul but Poetry Comes to Save My Mind-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Your Television Sucks-Poem by Bradford Middleton
50 Quid Down the Drain, or a Night of Delinquent Savagery-Poem by Bradford Middleton
Blue-Poem by Thomas Zimmerman
Fighting Off the Wise-Poem by Thomas Zimmerman
Horses in the Dark-Poem by Thomas Zimmerman
Contents of the Attic Trunk-Poem by John Grey
The Dead Man to His Heirs-Poem by John Grey
Holding Out for a Rainbow-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

Joe Surkiewicz: So Long, Sonny

Art by Steve Cartwright 2022

So Long, Sonny


by Joe Surkiewicz



Hey, Sonny, sorry I’m late. Beltway was a bitch, the usual clusterfuck around Towson.

       Don’t look like I missed anything, though. It’s still viewing hours. I didn’t make too much of a racket pulling in. Lady at the front desk was nice, took my helmet.

        Look, I even found a tie, nearly matches my jeans. Not too many other folks here. Guess I missed the rush, huh?

       You’re looking good, man. They did a good job. You know, considering. 

       I know you woulda rather gone out different. “Outlaw Motorcycle Club Leader Killed in Hail of Bullets After 100 Mph Police Chase.” Instead of, “Toyota Highlander Slips Off Lift, Crushes Grease Monkey During Snow Tire Swap.”

       Guess we can’t choose the way we go out. At fifty-six, I know you were hoping for more. Not wrenching at a gas station. Honorable work. Shitty pay.

       Talking about shitty pay—remember that warehouse job right after we quit high school? The new assistant manager, ex-Marine, gung-ho and a crew cut and busting everybody’s ass as we unloaded a tractor trailer?

       That jerk leaned in close to you, what did he say? Right. Why grow on your face what grows natural around your asshole?

       If memory serves, that was a fifty-pound sack of fertilizer you dropped on his foot. You mouthing “Sorry” as that hardass hopped around, me laughing so hard I nearly puked.

       Gotta ask, was it worth it? You fired on the spot, me getting notice a week later? Fuckin’ A, it was worth it. I learned a valuable lesson that day, Sonny, and I got you to thank. You can laugh at authority, but you gotta do it behind its back. 

       I know you feel bad about that stretch I served, eighteen wasted months out of my life. But it wasn’t just you. There were other factors. Like that gun. That wasn’t you, that was me. Shoulda tossed it.

       I know the pigs saw your scooter, and I got collared after they tailed you and found me instead. But it wasn’t your fault. Anyway, my stature in the club went way the fuck up after I got sprung—a made man, all that shit.

       Then dealing ground to a halt after the big boys moved in. The club scene just ended up a good excuse to ride bikes on the weekend and terrorize the countryside.

       But it was you, man, who sponsored me. It was you helped me earn my colors, stood with me when I bought my first hog, rode with me on club rides up and down the East Coast and deep into West Virginia. Fightin’ and fuckin’, although that dropped off considerably the last couple years.

       And that other lesson. I will never, ever, over my dead body, cross my heart and hope to die, knock on wood—hey, real mahogany—go back to stir. I even got a damn job, nine to fucking five, service manager at a Harley dealer.

       But not you. Not Sonny Colbrelli. Boozing and selling dope and petty crime and dead-end jobs to the end. A free motherfucker.

       Before I forget, I brought you something. Nobody’s looking, so I’ll just slip this into your jacket pocket. This yours? Nice fit. There ya go, a little libation for when you reach the other bank.

       Dude, it’s been great. Getting to be closing time. In fact, it’s just me and you. Cold as shit in here. They really got the AC cranked. Joint’s in the left breast pocket, don’t forget.

       One final adjustment. I know you wanna give the world a final send-off. Let ‘em know what you really think. Wow, cold fingers. I’ll just curl these in, just so. And now this hand.

       There you go. Two extended middle fingers, a final fuck you to the cold, cruel world as they slide you into that furnace.

       You didn’t know? It’s a whole lot cheaper.

       See you on the other side.



       Joe Surkiewicz lives in northern Vermont. His fiction has appeared in Yellow Mama; Horror, Sleaze, Trash; and Shotgun Honey.

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 2022