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The Wasp and the Fig: Fiction by Lauren Scharhag
It's Out There: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
After the Fire: Fiction by Mark Jabaut
"NOYB": Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
La Vengeance De Leo: Fiction by Saira Viola
Bragging Rights: Fiction by James Kompany
Laundry Day: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
The Black Rider's Gold: Fiction by Brian Barnett
Mother's Day: Fiction by Kurt Hohmann
Sins of the Father: Fiction by Paul Lubaczewski
Rebound: Fiction by Phil Temples
Dead Man's Land: Fiction by Scott Cumming
The Girl from the Sweater Factory: Fiction by Robb T. White
Nightspeak: Fiction by Michael Steven
The Final Chapter: Flash Fiction by James Blakey
And the Teapot-Cat Wept: Flash Fiction by Deidre J Owen
What I Love About You: Flash Fiction by Elizabeth Zelvin
Everything Is the Same: Flash Fiction by Bernice Holtzman
William: Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Forgiveness: Flash Fiction by Karen Schauber
Doctors Make Good Killers: Poem by John C. Mannone
The Monster in the Mirror: Poem by Bernice Holtzman
The Folly of the Filly: Poem by Becky Parker
My Most Favorite Things: Poem by Di Schmitt
Take a Look: Poem by Gregory E. Lucas
skin and bones: Poem by Meg Baird
The Past Is Over: Poem by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
Fly Collector: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Pickles Butte: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
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El Rio de la Plata: Poem by Juan Mobili
blind heredity: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
moonlit wind through the forest: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
By Reason of Insanity: Poem by R. A. Allen
Cabin Fever: Poem by R. A. Allen
The Death and the Paint: Poem by John Tustin
The Sky Is FIlled with Wine: Poem by John Tustin
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He Knows: Poem by John Grey
Scaling the Wall: Poem by John Grey
On the Commuter Train: Poem by John Grey
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Angel of Manslaughter
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Saira Viola: La Vengeance De Leo

ym_94_lavengeancedeleo_llees.jpg
Art by Lonni Lees 2022

LA VENGEANCE DE LEO

 

by Saira Viola

 

     Chi Chi was a petty dope dealer, full-time fraudster and occasional paralegal. She had frittered away all of her meagre inheritance on footwear and frivolous froth like French designer jeans and lacy bedroom panties. Karl used to say she was a “poster pinup for the bourgeoisie”. They broke up when she sold his flamenco guitar on e-bay and she fucked his best friend in the Caf Rouge parking lot. She told him while they were watching a Netflix miniseries on sociopaths. She remembered his big sad eyes like two accusing dollar signs. 

#

     Midnight at Klub 7:  Chi Chi tried to block a platoon of dark thoughts from clouding her mind as she double-stepped her way to the bar and sat down next to a flirty old buzzard  with a sexy gold tooth and a sunny laugh. She slipped off her jacket and struck a voguish pose. Hot Americano legs stole the limelight.

     “Can I get you a drink?”

     “Why thank you very much …”

     “You can call me Bob.”

     His voice reminded her of scratchy nettles.     

     “I’ll have a rum and coke, Bob.”

      The barkeep sailed in from nowhere, topped up Bob’s glass and set hers on the counter. Chi Chi spied the hands of opportunity crawl through the twinkle of Bob’s eyes. 

      “You’re sneaky. You look like trouble with a capital ‘T’.”

      She threw her head back and laughed and it was like uncorking a bottle of champagne. “All my friends call me Chi Chi.”

     Bob chuckled. “You really know how to bust those moves. I’m like a constipated racoon out there.”

     “Ah there’s nothing to it, you just jiggle and jive. Somehow it all comes together.”

#

     Two whiskey-bombed hours later, Chi Chi slunk into Bob’s exclusive beach hideaway. And when she stripped off, they became two frolicking waves in the ocean of the night.   

     Around 3:00 a.m. Chi Chi woke up. She could smell the drift of Johnnie Walker on Bob’s grizzled face. She looked around in wonder. It was like a show house. Straight out of Harper’s Bazaar. Her silent smile spread into a grin. She stared at Bob and his curbstone skin all gray and scaly like a map of unfinished endings.

#

     There were all the signs of a big-ticket life but as she tiptoed around, she knew something was off. She couldn’t decide if the chemi - trails in her brain were playing cheap tricks on her or if she’d really heard her mother’s voice. Why?

     She dug her nails deep into her palms to stop herself from crying.

     “Mamma? Mamma?  Where are you?”

     Suddenly she felt a cold rush of air.  Her nipples hardened. She crept back to bed  and laid back down next to Bob. His throat hummed as he turned his body towards her. A sweaty tangle of strangeness and comfort.

#

     She slept until noon. There was a yellow post-it note on the dresser, it read: Help yourself to champagne and eggs Bob xo. She hopped out of bed and floated into the kitchen. A vulgar smack of culinary porn. Big -beamed ceilings and the ubiquitous standalone island. The refrigerator, a sleek stainless armoire of greedy decadence ate up two thirds of the room. Slowly she opened the door. Apart from all the crushed ice and luxe gourmet fare she spied a delicate black box pitted with air holes sitting on the middle shelf.  She picked it up and turned it over. Probably a fancy schmancy block of cheese or maybe something a little more exotic.

     She held it close to her ear and listened. It sounded like the chatter of old men praying; A spiritual mantra of some kind. Ya be Yae. Ya be Yae. A wave of disorientation and a scattering of stinging light. Terrified Chi Chi dropped the box and on impulse scrambled for the door. She had a tight dry feeling in her throat.  Her  eyes dimmed and the last thing she saw was a  fury of red ants dancing around her ankles as she collapsed onto the cold terracotta tiles.

##

     When she finally woke up a slap of green neon enveloped her. It covered the walls, the ceiling and the barrel of a Glock 43 inches away from her head . She gulped and stole a breath.

       This can’t be real …In her mind she rationalised a neo-Lynchian film of distraction. Soon the three-foot talking blue-haired munchkins  would bounce into view and she could catch up on some well-needed sleep. But instead, she was confronted with the lurid shadow of a woman. Her face hidden by a creepy theatre mask with the eyes and mouth hollowed out. One side tragedy the other comedy.

    “Chi Chi. Even that name sounds fake.  Like a cutesy liddle Pomeranian or one of those tacky cocktails. You know with a paper umbrella sticking out the top. Either way, it’s so …You.”

     There was something eerily familiar about that greying voice.  A voice sharpened with hate and Pepto Bismol.

      “This is a beautiful place, eh?”

      She nodded and tried to squint away all the sickly green. “I don’t understand …Who ..?”

      The woman laughed through her mask.  “You were always trying to be niceeee. So nice.”

      “Please. I … Where’s Bob?”

      The woman slithered closer and laid her gloved palm across Chi Chi’s cheek.

     Chi Chi flinched and tried to back away, but she was hemmed in from all sides. Could that be Bob’s wife or

     A brief queasy silence.

     “Who—are you what do you want from me?”

     “Now that’s a start. That’s what I expect from a wannabe lawyer.”

      The woman slipped off her mask with theatrical panache. “Now do you  remember?”

     Her face was a complex trail of unhappy yesterdays.

     Chi Chi could see all the misery of the world caged in that face.

     She tried to place her, but all she could think of was Swedish fish and milk balls.  Her stomach grumbled as she let out a short sigh.

      The woman grinned, and revealed a mushy purple gum line. “You left me  with nothing. I should have been sipping Mai Tai’s on Coco Beach. But here I am  working as a maid  for Bob. On my hands and knees scrubbing his toilet clean. Mopping up dog piss.  Washing walls, clearing cupboards etc.” She shook her head. “Rich people can be so funny. They’ll spend 4 million on a house and buy a cheap vacuum for 20 bucks. Go figure.”

     A sarcastic laugh. “As for me, I get just enough to keep my Fico score alive and a stack of pancakes at Denny’s every Friday.”

     She narrowed her eyes. “I‘ve been trailing your cheating ass for months. Just waiting for my chance. Then fate came knocking…And in a stroke of synchronicity,  well, here we are.”

     A tea-coloured wheeze landed on Chi Chi’s thigh.

     Chi Chi flashed back to a sunny day in June. Elizabeth Rawlins, a sixty-five year-old widow had walked into the office and trusted her with every penny she had. And now a year ago to the day Chi Chi, aka Cameron Bell sat face to face with her conscience.

#

     Mrs. Rawlins had a surprisingly steady hand, but her voice was shaky. “When you forged the deeds to my house and stole it from me, they burnt it to the ground. Leo was inside.”

      Chi Chi’s lips tightened.  

     Mrs. Rawlins started to sob. “Leo was more than just a cat. He was family.”

 

#

     She didn’t think the old woman would do it, couldn’t believe she was capable of pulling the trigger but that weird light in Mrs Rawlins eyes unsettled her.

     Chi Chi screeched and jumped towards her. Mrs. Rawlins toppled backwards and dropped the gun, Chi Chi made a scramble for the stairs but tripped on the third one. Mrs Rawlins limped forward, grabbed her ankles and tried to drag her back. “I’m gonna use every last breath …”

     Chi Chi kicked her away crawled to the top of the stairs,  unbolted the front door, and ran…

#

     Mrs Rawlins gathered herself together and left the apartment clutching Chi Chi’s smashed ankle chain. On her way home she felt a gravitational pull on her energy and immediately dialed Maryanne, a practicing witch. For the next few days,  Mrs. Rawlins immersed herself in  magic rituals with Maryanne, involving the sacrificial slaughter of  dead mice and Chi Chi’s broken ankle chain. They made little paper aeroplanes and wrote their wishes on them. Mrs. Rawlins spat on hers then they released them into the East River .

 

     Baja Mexico

 

      Chi Chi sat alone, sipping a Mai Tai cocktail watching the ruby crown of the sun sink beneath restless skies, when a stray tabby climbed into her lap. At first demure and coy she rubbed her head against Chi Chi’s thigh. Then with a snooty hiss suddenly sprung round and swiped her left cheek with her wet paw. A scratch of red. The seams of Chi Chi’s mouth slanted down as she tried to push it away.

      Too late!  It sunk its claws deep into the side of her face ripping open the corner of her left eye. Milky globs of red pus oozed to the bottom of her chin. Chi Chi let out a long piercing scream like a fire whistle.

     “Help me! Somebody please!”

       Blood slabbered from the cat’s mouth, her misshapen teeth chunking down on slivers of flesh.

###

     When it was over, she licked the blood from her whiskers and dropped her tail down as she slunk into the gloom. The skies were clotted with purple clouds, and you could hear the chatter of old men praying over the wind.

 

THE END





Saira Viola is a poet, fiction novelist, and short story writer. Her work has featured in magazines and journals, including Vautrin Magazine, M Magazine Gonzo Today, and International Times. Viola is a Pushcart Nominee and was nominated for Best of The Net three times. Fiction Jukebox Crack Apple & Pop (Published by Fahrenheit Press). 




Lonni Lees is a multi-award-winning writer in both fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  Her stories appear in Hardboiled magazine, Yellow Mama, A Shot of Ink, Shotgun Honey, Black Petals, Einstein’s Pocket Watch, All Due Respect, and in the anthologies Deadly Dames and More Whodunits. Among her numerous writing awards over the years, she has award-winning stories in Felons, Flames, and Ambulance Rides, Battling Boxing Stories, and her published short story collection, Crawlspace. Broken won first place and is her 4th published novel. Her first novel Deranged won the PSWA First Place award for best published novel. Her next novel, The Mosaic Murder, was followed with a sequel, The Corpse in the Cactus, which won First Place and was published in the U.S. and UK. She won several other writing awards for her short stories, including Grand Prize.

 

 She received both art and a nonfiction Creative Writing Awards from NLAPW, California South branch, an organization of women writers, artists, and composers, and she served as President from 1982–1984. She is a current member of Sisters in Crime, PSWA, and Arizona Mystery Writers, where she was the first writer to win two consecutive awards in their annual short story contest.

 

 Twice Lonni was selected as Writer-in-Residence at Hedgebrook, a writer’s retreat on Whidbey Island. After living in four states and visiting many countries, she’s settled in Tucson, AZ. She fills her spare time showing her art at WomanKraft Gallery, reminiscing on all her travel adventures, illustrating stories for online magazines, and dreaming up new tales to tell.




In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022