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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

Hillary Lyon: The Poser

Art by Wayne F. Burke © 2023

The Poser


Hillary Lyon



“Here, let’s drape one more gold chain across your . . .” he said as he laid the necklace across her bare breast. “There! Now that’s the look I want.”

Marie stared at the ceiling, counting the water stains she saw there in order to calm herself before she responded. “This is the same ‘look’ you saw in that old girlie mag.”

“What?” Neal replied. “No, I thought of this myself.”

“No,” Marie countered. “You showed me the picture weeks ago. You thought it was ‘artistic’.”

“Well, it is artistic,” he said. “I recognize an aesthetically-pleasing composition when I see it—I’m an artist after all.” He immediately changed his tone. “You look so delicious in those thin chains—you’re so striking in this light!”

He rose from the bed. “I must take some photos before we . . .”

“Oh, get on with it,” Marie said. Why did everything have to be such a production with him?

* * *

“Honestly, I don’t know why you put up with Neal,” Dina said before taking a deep drag on her little green and white glass pipe. She passed it to Marie. “I mean,” she continued after exhaling a cloud of sweet smoke, “it’s not like he’s rich—though his parents are—and he’s not particularly handsome or charming.”

“Yeah, I know,” Marie said before putting the lighter’s flame to the pipe. “I’m just sticking around until someone better comes along.” And they always do—like that trust-fund ‘poet’ in Austin. He was easy enough to get rid of, she added to herself, after I helped him with his ‘overdose.’ She took a deep drag. “Neal’s funny, and sort of—”

“I think you mean sort of funny looking,” Dina commented, sending both women into giggles. “Seriously, though, after that business at his parents’ pool, where he posed you—naked—on the diving board? Like you were some kind of dead fish, ready to be gutted! He’s such a freak. What if you’d been caught?”

Marie shrugged. “His folks weren’t home; he was house-sitting. They were in Mexico, or some place. Some place far, far away.” And I saw to it his nosy parents were never coming back, she was tempted to add. She half-smiled at the thought.

“Or that time he posed you—again, naked—through the open sunroof of that old silver Thunderbird, out in the middle of an empty field on a moonlit night! Jeez, the whole thing sounded like you were about to be a ritual sacrifice to the God of North American Land Yachts.”

Before continuing, Dina took the pipe from Marie’s hand. “What if he’s a serial killer, posing as a photographer?” She took a hit. “Seriously, remember that report on TV about that guy in California who worked as a free-lance fashion photographer—who was a serial killer?”

Dina went on. “He’d sweet-talk attractive, gullible young women into modeling for him way out in the desert, on the pretense of ‘fashion shoots,’ and then he’d—”

“If he was a killer, I’d already be dead,” Marie said, cutting off Dina’s lurid train of thought. She dragged her finger across her throat, rolled her eyes and pushed out her tongue. Dina laughed so hard at that pantomime, she fell into a fit of coughing.

“And with that,” Marie said, rising from the sofa, “I take my leave. Got to get home to Mr. Poser.”

* * *

Marie was aware of Neal rummaging around in the bathroom cabinet before she opened her eyes. She sat up, and leaning on one elbow, watched him look at bottle after prescription bottle until he found the one he wanted. He popped the cap and shook out several capsules.

“Whatcha doin’ in there?” Marie asked from the bed.

Neal spun around. “Good morning, doll!” He shoved the capsules into his jeans pocket. “I had an inspiration! We’re going to the State Park to do a wilderness shoot. So get up, get dressed!” He pulled the sheet off the bed. “We’re burning daylight. I’ll get you a cup of coffee.”

Since when does he get me coffee in the morning?

He was back with a full mug of black coffee just as she walked into the bathroom. He handed her the cup. “Sip, sip.”

“You know I don’t like to be watched while I do my business,” Marie said, kicking the bathroom door shut with her heel.

With the door closed, she poured three-quarters of the coffee out in the toilet. She pushed the handle down, and as the toilet flushed, she tilted the coffee cup to confirm what she suspected was there: a couple of broken, half-melted green and white capsules sticking to the bottom of the mug.

He tried to slip me a mickey this morning. Amateur!

* * *

In the car, she pretended to drowse.

“Man, that coffee you gave me this morning,” she murmured, “sure was weak.” She yawned dramatically. “I’m still so sleepy and muddle-headed.”

Taking his eyes off the road, Neal turned to stare at her. He wore a wolf-grin Marie had never seen before; she didn’t like it.

He thinks he’s drugged me, she pondered. He thinks he’s going to take me into the big bad forest to molest me and then stage my murder. Pose me like a ripped-open rag doll. Just like that loser photog in California did to those naive young women.

She then closed her eyes, plotting all the while.

* * *

The car came to an abrupt stop in the gravel parking lot on the edge of the State Park.

“We’re here!” Neal said as he hopped out of the car. He was on her side, opening the passenger door before she could unbuckle her seatbelt. “Out, out, out!” He pulled her roughly from her seat. As he reached into the backseat to get his camera bag, she noted the top of a buck-knife peeping out from his back pocket.

 Marie allowed him to drag her deeper and deeper into the woods, until they came to a small clearing. On the other side of this treeless space was a large, flat slab of granite near the edge of a small cliff.

“Okay, okay,” Neal said, pointing to the slab. “Strip and lay down there, face up.”

Marie slipped off her shoes. The stone was pleasingly warm under her bare feet. She turned to Neal, pulled him to her. “Kiss me, you fool,” she said, entwining her arms around him. He did as he was told, and as he did, Marie expertly lifted the buck-knife from his back pocket.

She pulled away and turned her back to him before she lifted off her sundress. She opened the knife and hid it in the folds of her dress. She then laid down on the warm slab, making sure her dress, and its hidden blade, were well within her reach.

On his knees, Neal positioned himself between her legs, quickly taking one picture after another. He reached down with his free hand to fondle her breast.

So, the molestation begins immediately, she thought, somewhat disappointed. He’s so predictable.

He continued to take pictures, but moved his free hand to his back pocket, feeling for the knife. Marie stretched and slipped her hand into her discarded dress, feeling for the knife.

She found it.

“Looking for this?” Marie asked, as she plunged the knife deep into his belly. Before he could answer, she raised the blade all the way up to his sternum, effectively gutting him. Like a fish!

He toppled, frantically attempting to shove his intestines back inside.

She stood up and slipped on her sneakers. “You thought you were going to pose me like one of those sad victims of that killer in Cali, didn’t you?” He gurgled in reply. “I know you saw those crime scene photos—thanks to the national media, everyone saw those photos.”

Neal attempted to protest, but the only thing that came out of his mouth was a burst of bloody bubbles. “I wondered how long it would take you to decide you were going to duplicate one of those scenes.”

“You’re not an artist,” Marie grunted as she dragged Neal over to the edge of the slab. “You’re a copy-cat, a hack. A poser.” His mouth quivered as blood burbled out one corner. “And your parents? They never made it to Mexico—hell, they never made out of their garage.”

As she posed Neal on the brink of the slab, she added, “Just so you know, my tire iron made for a swingin’ going-away present. I still have their luggage in the trunk of my car.”

“And as for you—you’re not even a real serial killer.” Marie said, and careful not to get blood on her shoe, kick-shoved him over the edge.  “I should know—because I am.” She leaned over the edge of the slab to watch him roll and bounce down the rocky slope of the steep little ravine. He came to a thudding stop against a towering pine.

Marie pulled on her sundress, picked up Neal’s camera bag, and then dug around inside that bag until she located his keys—for both his car and apartment. She had lots of photos she needed to delete from his computer, and from any of his external-drives or cloud-storage locales. She was going on a scavenger hunt!

With Neal’s keys now in hand, she slipped the bag across her shoulder. Humming a happy tune, she receded into the cool darkness of the woods, and disappeared.

Hillary Lyon founded and for 20 years acted as senior editor for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. Her stories have appeared lately in 365tomorrows, Black Petals, Sirens Call, Night to Dawn, 50 Word Stories, Legends of Night drabble series anthology, and Revelations drabble series anthology. She’s also an illustrator for horror & pulp fiction magazines.


Wayne F. Burke's drawings have appeared in a number of publications, in print and online, including FLARE, Portland Review (ME). Red Savina, Duane's Poe Tree, Driftwood Magazine, Grey Sparrow, The Octopus Review, About Place Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in the central Vermont area (USA).

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2023