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Perfect: Fiction by Elizabeth Zelvin
Duck, Duck, Goosed: Fiction by E. E. Williams
Call Back: Fiction by Brian Peter Fagan
Hanging Out: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Jelly Boy: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Billy's First Road Trip: Fiction by Shari Held
Craps: Fiction by Steve Carr
Blackout Blonde: Fiction by M. J. Holt
Can Lid: Fiction by Frank S. Karl
Hacked Off: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
The Poser: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Trunk Space: Fiction by Jen Myers
Catching Up: Fiction by Edward Ahern
Butcher Knives Don't Float: Fiction by Chris Milam
The Grimsby Reaper: Flash Fiction by Jon Park
Bat Boy: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
For Love: Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
Getting Personal: Flash Fiction by Diana Dominguez
Owen and Jessica: Flash Fiction by Joseph Carrabis
Until I Wrestled It Back: Flash Fiction by Louella Lester
Lying in Wait: Flash Fiction by Robb White
Fox Fox Fanny Cuts: Poem by Otto Burnwell
Beer and Love Songs on a Wednesday Night: Poem by Richard Le Due
Her Wicked Devices: Poem by Lee Clarke Zumpe
Looking at the Sea: Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Twilight Zone Kind of Days: Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
The Canvas: Poem by Meg Baird
me and the boys: Poem by Meg Baird
ode to sleep: Poem by Meg Baird
Plate Tectonics:Poem by Christopher Hivner
Seeking:Poem by Christopher Hivner
Bloodbound: Poem by Harris Coverley
Paradise: Poem by Harris Coverley
The Now Outside: Poem by Harris Coverley
Dallas County Phone Calls: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Two Old Ladies Arrested for Feeding Feral Cats: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Her Name Isn't Margo, but it Should Be: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Yorick: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
After First Sex: Poem by Rp Verlaine
The New Same Goodbye: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Fishermen: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Three Years Ago: Poem by Rp Verlaine
the smallest feline is a masterpiece--da vinci: poem by Rob Plath
no typewriter or ABCs necessary: Poem by Rob Plath
my cat sleeps: Poem by Rob Plath
it's enough: Poem by Rob Plath
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Shari Held: Billy's First Road Trip

Art by Bernice Holtzman © 2023

Billy’s First Road Trip

By Shari Held


One hundred miles. Just one hundred miles to the relative safety of a safe house in Ohio. I glance in the back seat at my son fast asleep in his car seat, blissfully unaware of the drama taking place. Am I doing the right thing? Could I have done something differently? Doesn’t matter now. There’s no going back.

I wonder how it ever got to this point. I should have confronted you when things first turned ugly. Our relationship used to be sexy and fun. Your handcuffs were an exciting turn-on, adding novelty to our sexual escapades. Even your cop’s odd work schedule was a turn-on. I loved it when you’d sneak into bed in the early hours of the morning and surprise me with a fast and furious round of pleasure.

I enjoyed being privy to the interesting details you entertained me with when you came home from work. The ‘bereaved’ widow who was messing around with the next-door neighbor. The man who shot his wife because she bought the wrong brand of butter. Juicy tidbits that increased my popularity with my colleagues in talks around the water cooler.

I’ll never forget the day we decided to marry. We rushed to the altar like two giddy, starstruck kids. The next few months were heaven.

Then, your life at the department turned sour. You were demoted. Your career on the skids. Bitterness accompanied you home. From then on you reveled in describing the gorier aspects of your homicide cases. How the victims had been tortured. How long it had taken them to die. How the weak deserved what they got. It alarmed me that you condoned the behavior of the bad guys rather than showing pity for the victims.

I should have left you before Billy was conceived. I hoped his birth would mellow you. That you’d revert to the person I’d once been so attracted to. I wanted you to love him as much as I did.

But after Billy was born, your sadistic side took over. I’d come home to his raw staccato cries. You hadn’t fed him or changed his dirty diapers. If I took you to task for it, you stormed out and spent the evening at a bar with Jack Daniels.

Then, you introduced your gun and knife into our sex life. Without saying a word, you ran that hard steel blade up my body while I was handcuffed to the bed. Every hair on my body stood to attention. I didn’t dare move. You laughed when you took the gun from your holster, put it to my forehead, and pulled the trigger. Later you said you knew it was an empty chamber. But I wasn’t so sure. That was it. I had to protect myself and Billy.

I couldn’t report you. Fat chance your department would do anything about it—even if they believed me. Cops close ranks on their own. Plus, there was the shame. Spousal abuse. No one ever thinks it will happen to them. No one wants to admit it when it does.

My only recourse was to take Billy and run. After you left for work, I threw a couple changes of clothes, juice boxes, and graham crackers in a duffel bag. Tossed Pooh Bear and my computer in a Whole Foods bag. Filled the Subaru’s tank and withdrew the max allowed from an ATM. Then we hit the highway, leaving our old life and you far behind.

Although we’re now hundreds of miles away, I still hear your voice in my head. Your shrill laughter as you slid a knife down my chest, daring me to defy you so you could sink it into my skin. I may succeed in leaving you, but will I ever be free from your voice, your menacing laughter? Will the memories of what I became ever leave me? And how will I explain everything to Billy?

I reach back and touch his tiny hand. This is all for him. Another hundred miles to the next state. You have no jurisdiction there. And the people at the shelter will help us. But we’ll never truly be safe unless you get knocked off in the line of duty. And God forgive me, I pray for that every day.

Our new home will be a fear-free zone. A place of refuge rather than terror. That’s worth the risk I’m taking now. My shoulders start to relax as I think about life without you. No insults. No debasement. No threats. No danger.

Sirens sound in the distance. Could they have found us this fast? My heart sinks to the soles of my feet as the flashing lights race toward us. I pull over. Billy awakens and shrieks at the strobe lights and high-pitched wails.

False alarm. The caravan speeds by, and tears of relief overflow my eyes, travel down my face, and dribble off my chin as we are left in inky silence once more. I drop my head to the steering wheel and rock back and forth. My Jell-o knees tremble and I don’t trust my ability to press my foot to the pedal.

I turn to give Billy’s little foot a reassuring squeeze and I’m relieved to see he’s asleep once again. He’s too young to remember his first road trip. The night we escaped, leaving his mother, Police Sergeant Teresa Merriweather, far behind.



Shari Held is an Indianapolis-based fiction writer who spins tales of mystery, horror, and romance. Her short stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Yellow Mama, Hoosier Noir, Asinine Assassins, Homicide for the Holidays, and Between the Covers. When not writing, she cares for feral cats and other wildlife, reads, and strategizes imaginative ways for characters and trouble to collide! 

Bernice Holtzman’s paintings and collages have appeared in shows at various venues in Manhattan, including the Back Fence in Greenwich Village, the Producer’s Club, the Black Door Gallery on W. 26th St., and one other place she can’t remember, but it was in a basement, and she was well received.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2023