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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

Wayne F. Burke: Twenty-Two

Art by Hillary Lyon 2022


by Wayne F. Burke


“Well Deke,” Louie said, as he bent his head to climb up into the pickup truck, “I am going to go down to the Oasis and get drunk and then I am going to Willies and see my girl.”

          Deke snorted disdainfully. “Your girl! Jesus Christ, can you imagine if you brought her home to see your mother?”

           “Hey, it is cheaper than a date,” Louie said. “Fifty bucks ain’t bad,” he argued. He started the pickup. “What the hell. What else are you supposed to do? Read friggin’ PLAYBOY?”

          They drove down a dirt road past a host of trailers and then below a railroad overpass.

          “You got it easy,” Louie commented. “You got a wife. Me—what do I have?”

          “Masturbation is better,” Deke said, grimly surveying the scenery of junk yards heaped with industrial rubbish.

          “Yeah, sure it is,” Louie said.

          “It is! Christ, I am telling you! I would rather beat off than go with the old lady! That’s no shit.” He lit a Camel non-filter cigarette. The cigarette looked tiny between his huge fingers.

          Louie cut a laugh short after a glance at Deke. Deke looked at his cigarette as if in wonderment of how it had arrived between his fingers. He took a quick puff and blew the smoke out as if trying to get rid of it. “I am serious,” he stated.

          Louie looked at Deke: Deke’s massive cinder block-sized head scraped the roof of the cab. He turned to Louie. “I am serious!” he barked. His eyebrows arched below the brim of his ball cap—MACK TRUCK written across the front.

          “Okay, okay,” Louie conciliated. His face became unnaturally grave. “I know you are serious.”

          “I AM. I AM TELLING YOU. I AM SERIOUS,” Deke shouted.  “I am considering the gay scene,” he sputtered. “Seriously considering it!”

          Louie fought to wipe the smile off his face.

          “I AM! I am thinking about checking out the gay scene!”

          Louie pulled the truck into the Oasis parking lot.

          “It can’t be any worse!” Deke angrily flicked his butt out the truck window.


          The naked girl lay on her back on the mattress on the floor of the small room. Louie looked at her while he pulled his clothes off. She had a snouted face with heavy Slavic features. Everything about her was big: big shoulders, big breasts, big hips, big and solid-looking barrel-shaped legs. Big everything—even her face was big—too big for the little puckered mouth and small eyes. She watched Louie throw his work boots into a corner, on top of a pile of work-dirty clothes—all that was in the room besides the mattress and a clock radio next to the mattress.

          “We got to make this fast,” Louie said, approaching the girl. “Where is Deke?”

          The girl smiled with her eyes as she looked between Louie’s legs. “He is home,” she said.

           Louie lay down length-wise on top of her. Like a stick on a slice of bread. His white butt shone between the spread of the beer-barrel thighs.

          He guided himself into her; she moaned. He stroked once, twice, then froze; he cocked an ear toward the door opening. A noise on the stairway. He exchanged a frightened glance with the girl. The heavy tread of footsteps grew louder: the feet crushing each wooden step. Louie felt himself shrivel; he scrambled over the leg and slid his hand beneath the mattress, feeling for his .22 pistol. The girl pulled the blanket over herself. The staircase groaned. Louie swallowed hard and looked wildly around the windowless room, seeking an exit.

          Deke’s broad shoulders filled the available door space. He stared blankly at the couple.

          Louie felt his heart thumping; his sweaty hand gripped the handle of the gun.

          Deke blinked twice, as if trying to comprehend the scene. He opened his mouth to speak, then drew his lips together. He turned away with a disgusted wave of his hand at his old lady.

          He began to trudge back down the stairs.


Wayne F. Burke's fiction has appeared in Alien Buddha magazine, Dumpster Press, The Gihon River Review, Puckerbrush Review, Synchronized Chaos, and elsewhere. He is author of a short story collection, Turmoil and Other Stories (Adelaide Press, 2020). He lives in Vermont (USA).

Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi and pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River Review, as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared recently in Night to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from the Moonlit Path, among others, as well as in numerous horror anthologies such as Night in New Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the Big EasyThuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared, briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby" in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for Zombie." Having lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides in southern Arizona.  https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022