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Some Week-Fiction by Don Stoll
Weird World-Fiction by Bruce Costello
A Bottle of Tequila and $2,000 in Cash-Fiction by Charlie Cancel
Heated Awakening-Fiction by Michael Steven
The Waitress-Fiction by Zachary Wilhide
Why I Left the House that Smelled of Death-Fiction by Merrilee Robson
An Incident in Dodge-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Grandfathered-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Two Little Words-Fiction by Shari Held
Thigh Candy-Fiction by Darryl Hicks
I'm Not a Lawyer-Fiction by David Calogero Centorbi
Midnight Munchies-Fiction by Amy Grech
Dead Men Don't Text-Flash Fiction by Pamela Ebel
Stunned-Flash Fiction by Brad Rose
Hate and Love-Flash Fiction by Jacob Graysol
Love Hurts-Flash Fiction by M. E. De Neve
The Curse-Flash Fiction by Ted R. Larsen
Topsy-Poem by Peter Mladinic
Wat You Want-Poem by Joe Balaz
The Champagne of Beers-Poem by John Tustin
A Not-So Brilliant Poem-Poem by Richard LeDue
Something Bigger-Poem by Richard LeDue
Imminent Mortality-Poem by Robert Beveridge
unspoken passions-Poem by Robert Beveridge
My Brooklyn View of a Starry Night During Lockdown-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Starry Night in Ogunquit the Beautiful Place by the Sea-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Van Gogh's View of the Starry Night Through the Iron-Barred Window in the Asylum-by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Lamp Filament-Poem by John C. Mannone
Like Sherlock Holmes-Poem by John C. Mannone
A Glint of Steel-Poem by John C. Mannone
Writer-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Panda Bear-Poem by Michael Keshigian
The Silent Poet-Poem by Michael Keshigian
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Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
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No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Don Stoll: Some Week

92_ym_someweek_kcwalker.jpg
Art by Keith Coates Walker © 2022

Some Week

 

by Don Stoll

 

        Al stood with me over the body while we waited for the ambulance. Somebody else, it might have bothered me. Might have thought he was there to give me “comfort,” like wasting such a waste of space would have got to me. Not Al, though.

        “Looks like he only got one kid before you nailed him, Dave,” he said. “Boy. Fifth-grader, I think. Hard to tell, way the teachers are screaming. All hysterical.”

        “You know what’s gonna be in the papers,” I said.

        “Calls for gun control,” he laughed.

        “Bleeding hearts’ll be all over it.”

        He lit a cigarette saying, “Offer you one but you’re trying to quit, right?”

        I nodded.  

        “Know what else is gonna be in the papers?” he said. “Officer Dave McKeon, hero. How’s it feel to be a hero?”

        I caught a whiff and thought maybe one smoke. But Lisa was right: wouldn’t be just one.

        “Won’t be a hero to everybody,” I said. “Bleeding hearts’ll say could have shot him in the leg. Could have sung him a lullaby—sung ‘Kumbaya’—listen to him pour out his heart about his abusive childhood while you put on the tourniquet.”                  

        “Unbelievable. Like the other day when the SEALs took out Osama, there were people saying they shouldn’t have killed him. Should have taken him alive.”   

        “Yeah, give him a fair trial. You imagine the shit show?”

        Al exhaled. I caught another whiff. I thought of Lisa saying I went a month, she’d let me fuck her in the ass. But funny I’d never asked. Telling me maybe I didn’t need to pass her test. Get a few drinks in her so she’s relaxed, we’re doing it doggy style and I just slide from one hole into another like it’s an accident. I bet she’d be fine with it, me kicking cigarettes or not.

        But she’s right about the cigarettes. I really should stop.

        “You imagine the cost of guarding him?” Al said. 

        “Osama?”

        I’d gone hard thinking about fucking Lisa and had kind of forgot about him.

        “Shit show is right,” Al said. “Shit show for the taxpayers. I’d like to be on that guard detail, save them some money.”

        He brought his hands up to his chest and bent his fingers so his hands were like claws. He made like he was strangling somebody.

        “Osama was six-five, Al. You sure you could manage that, being the runt of the litter?”

        “You know how it is with guys like me,” he laughed. “Lot of anger.”

        He finished his cigarette. He threw it on the blacktop and lit another.

        “Jesus, Al. Kids play here.”

        “What they have janitors for, isn’t it?”

        I jammed my hands in my pockets. With my left hand I brushed the end of my dick, firm enough to get the feeling but fast enough so nobody could see. It was only Al and me there anyway. The other cops and the Fire Department had herded the teachers and kids away from us, past the classroom buildings. Parents were starting to show up, so talk about a shit show.

        With my right hand I felt for the scrap of paper where the blond in the Mustang that I’d stopped just before I got the call about the school had written her number. If I was wrong about Lisa I might be right about the blond. I pulled out the paper, holding it close to my pocket. Jane. And her number in neat block letters almost like they were typed.   

        “What’s that?” Al said.

        “Nothing.”

        I slipped it back in my pocket.  

        We heard the ambulance. Al turned toward it. Usually hard to make out the direction, but the school was on a dead-end road. I was standing behind him, looking over his toupee. I gave the end of my dick another brush, but this time slower and firmer. That one was for Jane. With my right hand I patted Al on the head.

        “How many endangered species had to die to make this thing?”

        He laughed and swatted my hand away. 

        “How about for your next one they kill a Siberian tiger, give you a unique look?”  

        We heard the ambulance come closer.                                                                                   

        “Slow, aren’t they?” Al said. “Had to finish jerking off before they answered the call.”

        “That, and. . .” I said.

        I waited for Al to look back at me. Then I made like I was smoking a doobie.

        “You know they’ll take your gun away for a while?” he said. “Make you see a shrink?” 

        I shook my head.

        “Even in Palmdale,” I said. “Hour from LA, no ‘diverse constituencies’ whose asses we have to kiss. You think it’s a different world, and then—”

        “So, Officer,” Al said, changing his voice, “how do you feel about taking a human life?”   

        “I hear they like it better if you ‘open up.’ Gets you back on the street faster.” 

        We could see the ambulance.      

        “Been some week for you,” Al said. “This time last week you were. . . where?”

        “Oman.”

        “Rescuing your baby brother from the Arab Spring. You really are a hero, man.”

        “Baby brother didn’t need rescuing. Nothing happening there.”

        “That’s what you needed to rescue him from. No action with those Arab women, right? Get stoned to death or some shit.”

        He grinned. He had something green stuck in his teeth.

        “Get stoned to death or get your hand cut off. Or something else.” 

        He grinned again. 

        “So your brother fucking camels?” he said.   

#

        My baby brother isn’t much like me. Teacher, which is the last thing I’d want to be. Unless it’s to teach shooting. I’ve done a little of that with civilians, and it’s a kick. Especially the ones that you can tell they think there’s something wrong about guns. Maybe they’ve had some kind of scare so they’ve decided they need the protection, but even so they think they’re better than people who carry guns all the time. Then you get that baby in their hands, get them comfortable with it. Be patient with them because they’re nervous. But their nervousness is really excitement because everybody loves what a gun can do even if they won’t admit it.

        Be patient and encouraging until they can hit something. Then you don’t need to encourage them anymore because the gun does all the encouraging. You don’t show too much satisfaction because they still want to believe there’s something wrong with guns and that they’re too good for them. That’s all right, though, because you’ve done your job. You’ve taught one more civilian to shoot, so maybe one day he—or she—will put an end to another school shooting before it gets out of hand.  

        Anyway, my baby brother—Paul, who I call Paulie—was living in LA till his girlfriend dumped him. He had a steady job with the LA Unified School District teaching seventh and eighth grades. Never mind that I’d never want to teach school, kids that age are the worst. Paulie, bless his bleeding heart, loves them. But he wanted to get out of LA after Sally broke that heart, and right away he found a job teaching English in a technical college in Oman. I wasn’t sure where Oman was. When he said close to Saudi Arabia, I told him he was crazy. He’s stubborn, though. He said he’d be fine and he’d already bought the plane ticket. So that was that.

        This was last August. Way it went the first few months was fine. I started to think he was right: nothing to worry about. But then the “Arab Spring” cut loose and I had second thoughts. People were being killed and I didn’t want that to happen to Paulie. I thought, white guy among all those Arabs—and Paulie’s way white, impossible to miss—he makes a perfect target. The hell the Arabs were raising was supposed to be about their own governments. But people get angry to a certain point, the anger takes over. Doesn’t matter what they started out being mad at, they get to that point and they want to hurt anybody who might deserve hurting.

        So I started looking for a time to go check up on him. Wanted to make sure Oman was as mellow as he said, not like those other crazy countries. Too much going on at work, though, and other cops were getting sick or injured. The Chief couldn’t spare me.

        Not till last month, that is. Window opened up and Chief says, “Dave, I know you’ve been concerned about your brother. Don’t know when there’ll be a better time.”

        Funny thing, by then I pretty much believed what Paulie was saying. Eight months he’d been out there and he’s fine. And I think, I take this time then I don’t have vacation left to take Lisa to Mexico to lie on the beach for a couple of weeks.

        I would have told the Chief it’s okay except for the fucking royal wedding. Lisa wouldn’t shut up about it. I said why do you care, you invited? She said it was like a fairy tale and I said I got no use for fairies. She said you’re a real funny fucker aren’t you Dave, and I said nothing funny about the way I fuck.  

        Point is, I thought since the fucking royal wedding is taking over Lisa’s life till April 29, good time for me to disappear for a week. With two weeks’ vacation that still leaves me one, so take one week in Mexico instead of two.

        I fly out, Paulie meets me at the airport with his girl. Bonnie. Big upgrade over Sally. I’m thinking Paulie’s got the life. Work’s easy, he says, but the money’s good. And Bonnie. . .

        Baby brother’s fucking camels? No, Al.   

        He teaches in a town called Sur. First day I’m in his apartment, jet-lagged. He returns from the technical college with Bonnie, who’s also teaching, at noon. They say done, it’s beach time. They have three-thirty classes but all semester they haven’t had a single student show up. Only half the Arabs show up for morning classes. Late afternoon, when it’s hot, forget it.

        Beach and snorkeling are great. Drive’s an hour, though, and I fall asleep because their Toyota’s AC can’t keep up with the heat. Paulie pokes me when we arrive and says I’ll need to be more awake tomorrow.

        “Bonnie goes till one-thirty but I’m done before nine. In the afternoon we’ll all come here, but in the morning it’s just you and me at the wadi.”

        “The wadi?”

        “You’ll see.”

#

        A wadi, I found out, is a long narrow valley between two canyon walls. You can’t call it a river valley because it takes a big rainstorm—which doesn’t happen often in a desert country like Oman—to make the water flow. I guess when that happens, you get serious white water. Most of the time you just have little pools one after the other.   

        The wadi Paulie took me to is famous: Wadi Shab, which you can find on the Internet. He said his favorite part was the pool where little fish nibble the dead skin cells off your legs.

        It was quiet. Good thing since something happened that would have been bad if there’d been people around. I’ll explain later. For now, I’ll just say that after it happened I thought I should lay low. I was happy to go to the beach every day the rest of the week. I never got tired of seeing Bonnie in her bikini.

        Last day at the beach we heard about Osama. Party time.  

#

        Like I say, Oman had been a great vacation. Still, work gives you certain satisfactions. If you’re lucky you don’t work only to pay the bills.

        Second morning back saw a soul brother driving a Caddy, thought let’s have some fun. It was going to be the kind of fun you can’t have on vacation. You need a badge for this.

        I spotted him on the edge of town. I had the thought to be patient, see if he heads out to the country. I could have a serious good time with him out there. Not in the mood, though. I stopped him in front of the AutoZone.

        He says, “What’s the fine for Driving While Black, Officer?”

        Why would you be a smart ass like that? You really don’t understand that makes it worse?

        I was thinking about how medieval I wanted to get on his ass until I saw the blond coming out of the nail salon across the street.

        “Your lucky day,” I told Puff Daddy. “Just got an emergency call.”

        She’d made a left before I could start up. But a brand-new Mustang the same cherry red that I’d been able to see on her lips even across the street. . . an amateur couldn’t have lost her. She turned once more before I made the stop. 

        She could have had her registration ready but she waited till I asked. Stretching toward the glovebox, she bent over extra. Full view of her bra: hot pink, half off her hot pink nipples.

        If Puff Daddy had been lucky, on this stop the lucky one was me. I snagged Blondie’s name and number before the emergency call—a real one—came through.

        The thing civilians don’t understand about school shooters is that these sickos aren’t Lee Harvey Oswald. They’re not sharpshooters. Usually, two days before the Big Day, Mr. Sicko buys his gun, and next day he goes to a firing range for the first time in his life. His aim is shaky so if you fight back and stress him out, throw his aim off even more, you’ve got a chance.

        In this case I was first cop on the scene and I see the teachers and kids doing exactly the wrong thing: they’re on the ground. You want to make it easy on a guy who can’t hit a barn door at ten paces, do that. These teachers with all their education—I know this school: principal and vice principal both have Master’s degrees—and this is their bright idea.

        The one dead boy, the fifth-grader, had been shot in the cafeteria. It all began there. Then the teachers had hustled everybody outside. But the cafeteria had been the place to make a stand: turn those long tables on their sides and hide behind them. Then throw plates, cups, glasses, silverware, food—sloppy joes or whatever shitty thing is for lunch that day—hope for a bullseye. That many people throwing shit, bullseye probably happens. Same principle as you lock enough monkeys with typewriters in cages long enough, you get War and Peace.   

        Cafeteria opportunity’s wasted, though. Bodies stretched out on the playground blacktop, begging to be shot. I didn’t hesitate. I squeeze off one round and Sicko’s on the ground too, and never getting up. I’m a hero except to the gun-control types.

        To me, gun control means finish your natural exhale, hold your breath—chest muscles relax then, so you can hold it good and long if you have to keep shooting—and don’t pull the trigger. Squeeze. That’s gun control.           

        Anyway, Al got it right when he said I’d had some week. Standing over the shooter waiting for the ambulance and scoping out what my bullet had done to his head, I remembered the morning in the wadi with Paulie. The trail hugged the canyon wall on our right. We’re usually about fifty feet above the valley floor where the pools were. We joked most of the way. He was excited about the pool where the fish nibble on you but I said I didn’t know if I’d like it. He said you’ll like it, they nibble soft. He said about as soft as you want to be when you go down on a girl and I laughed. I said you grew up right, baby brother.

        Getting close to the fish pool, he was a good ways ahead of me. He was more used to the heat. I was on a narrow stretch of trail when this Arab comes around a curve. He doesn’t try to make room. Bumps me with his shoulder against the canyon wall.

        I tell him say you’re sorry and he looks back at me and laughs. Says something I don’t understand because it’s not English. Three quick steps and I’m level with him. Just like that, I shove him off the trail.

        The drop was straight and short. He didn’t have time to scream. His head landed on a boulder and split open. Kind of like the shooter’s.   

        This is why I was happy with the beach the rest of the week. It’s dumb because nobody had been there to see. But I kept thinking that if we went back, somehow a witness would turn up.

        Later, coming back from the fish pool, we saw some Arabs climbing down to the body.   

        “Maybe we should help,” Paulie said.

        I said, “Looks like they got it.”

        Paulie said, “Such a shame,” but I wasn’t ashamed. Figured I’d done the world a favor.

END







Don Stoll lives in Southern California, in the mountains overlooking Palm Springs. His fiction has appeared four times before in Yellow Mama and recently in Punk Noir (tinyurl.com/3ut3m7e7tinyurl.com/yckshbnj), Roi Fainťant (tinyurl.com/44fwen37), Terror House (tinyurl.com/4tch459c), and A Thin Slice of Anxiety (tinyurl.com/fy9wer4h).


Keith C. Walker was born in Leeds in 1939. He studied Ceramics at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art. In the late 1960s to early 1970s, he was Personal Assistant to Eduardo Paolozzi. Keith taught at Hull College of Art and Leicester Polytechnic, which is now De Montfort University. In 1994 he retired from Academia.

Keith says, “Digital technology has made and continues to make big changes to all of our lives: the way we communicate, the way we are monitored, the way we entertain ourselves, and much, much more. 

 

We now leave a digital footprint wherever we go, and with whatever we do. 

Do we already have one foot in an Orwellian world?

 

 My collages are an investigation, with a small “I,” on the impact of digital technology and its possibilities.”




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