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Carryout: Fiction by Daniel C. Bartlett
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A Good Book: Fiction by Robert Pettus
Happy Hour at the Grown Folks Bar: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
Blocks: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Nobody Puts Liza in the Closet: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
No Going Back: Fiction by Ken Luer
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How I Shot My First Husband: Flash Fiction by Brad Rose
Alive Another Day: Flash Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
The Monster of Hinchley: Flash Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Two Down: Flash Fiction by Joe Surkiewicz
Waiting Room: Flash Fiction by Cathi Stoler
"68": Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Bobbie Gets Her Divorce: Flash Fiction by Robb White
Murder by the Numbers: Poem by Robert Jeschonek
A Pinch Point: Poem by Janna Rollins
Now I'm 64: Poem by Di Schmitt
Hard Work Damned on the Road to Extinction: Poem by Richelle Lee Slota
The Lonely Planet Guide to Death: Poem by Richelle Lee Slota
my mind: Poem by Meg Baird
the non: Poem by Meg Baird
giant cottonwood tree: Poem by Judith Nielsen
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crows in our hayloft: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
spring kicks off its boots: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
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A Reason to Put the Rent Up: Poem by Richard LeDue
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Disinfected: Poem by John C. Mannone
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Cathi Stoler: Waiting Room

Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg 2022

Waiting Room


by Cathi Stoler



Get a look at that, thought John as the woman took a seat opposite him. The old-time phrase flashed through his mind unbidden and instantly reminded him of walking around town with his granddad when he was a kid. A poke in the ribs and a whispered “Don’t tell your Grandma,” had inevitably followed as the old man stared open-mouthed at some pretty young girl they’d passed on the street. Well, granddad would sure be staring now. Forget about the #MeToo movement.

Wow, she’s hot, he almost said aloud, catching himself just in time. Better than hot. The woman sitting opposite him was smokin’. She had settled herself comfortably on the end of a small floral sofa and was already immersed in a magazine. Tall—man, he hadn’t missed those long legs when she sauntered in—and curvy, with wavy brunette hair and spectacular blue eyes, she was the whole package. He watched from behind his newspaper as she crossed her legs and her short skirt rose up a little higher on her thighs.

She’s mine. It’s a done deal. All I have to do is walk over there, ask her out, and she’ll want me so bad she’ll have to say yes. The sex will be great. Like nothing she’s ever had before. So great, we’ll never leave the apartment. Just order in when we have to eat, if we can tear ourselves away from each other.

John took off his glasses and started polishing them as he thought ahead to his plans for tonight.


  Emily had noticed the guy as soon as she’d walked in the office. He’d put down the paper he’d been reading and was carefully polishing his glasses. Cute. Actually, very cute, with buzz-cut sandy brown hair and deep brown eyes set wide apart. Dressed okay, too, in black jeans and a button- down shirt. Casual, but nice. He didn’t give off the vibe of a financial type, or a lawyer, which was fine with her. She’d had enough of those guys. He seemed more settled than that. Maybe did something with computers or the internet. From where she sat, it looked like he had a good body. Like he worked out and spent more than a little time in the gym. Probably had a few tricks he’d liked to show off at the right time, and she was just the girl to coax them out of him. She bit her lip and raised her eyes from her magazine, focusing on the middle distance. If she smiled at him now, she bet he’d come running.  

But what if she gets clingy? John gulped and suddenly was having trouble swallowing. What if she wants a relationship with all the commitment that could lead to. No way. That’s just not happening. Hot or not. I mean I like her and all that. She’s terrific, but I don’t think so. This is just way too complicated.

No. I’d better rethink the smiling before I do anything stupid, Emily told herself. I mean who is he anyway? Okay, his body’s a plus, but underneath he’s probably just some boring online guy who’s a total nerd. God knows if he even has any imagination. I mean, look at him sitting there wiping those glasses over and over again. You know, they’re not going to get any cleaner, buddy, she wanted to shout at him. I bet he’s all into having virtual fun instead of real fun, as if he’d know the difference. He probably never wants to go anywhere, just stay home and play with his Xbox. Well, he can play with whatever he likes on his own. What a loser. I never want to see him again.


 “Mr. Matthews,” the receptionist said, as she put down her phone, “the Doctor is ready for you now. Through that door, please,” she added and pointed to her left.

John rose and tucked his glasses into his shirt pocket. “Bitch,” he whispered to himself as he walked in front of the woman on the couch.

Emily shuddered slightly as the man passed by. “Asshole,” she muttered under her breath and turned the page of her magazine.




Cathi Stoler is an award-winning and Amazon best-selling author. Her Murder On The Rocks Series features The Corner Lounge owner, Jude Dillane, and includes Bar None, Last Call, a Silver Falchion Best Suspense Novel finalist, and Straight Up, published by Level Best Books. She’s also written the suspense novels, Nick of Time and Out of Time. She is a three-time finalist and winner of the Derringer Award for Best Short Story, “The Kaluki Kings of Queens” Her newest short story, “The Art of Payback,” was recently published in the anthology Justice For All Murder New York Style 5. Other stories have been published online at Beat To A Pulp, Mysterical-E and in various anthologies. Cathi is a member of Sisters in Crime New York/Tri-State, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. You can reach her at www.cathistoler.com.

KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words and images for an awfully long time. Check out her poetry and art book, One-Handed Pianist (Hekate Publishing, 2021).

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022