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Sibling Rivalry in a Zombie Apocalypse: Fiction by Jon Park
Dead is Dead: Fiction by Roy Dorman
Rooms: Fiction by Harris Coverley
Do You Know the Pizza Man?: Fiction by Beverle Graves Myers
Testing the Waters: Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Unclaimed Property!: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
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The White Nothing: Flash Fiction by Phil Temples
Carmelita: Flash Fiction by Zvi A. Sesling
The Horror of Hidden Pond: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Kim Philby: Flash Fiction by Henry Simpson
Fear: Flash Fiction by Cheryl Snell
Homecoming: Flash Fiction by Kurt Hohmann
Castle: Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Head: Flash Fiction by Ron Capshaw
Something Wicked This Way Thumbs: Flash Fiction by K. A. Williams
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Mr. Bunny and $88.01: Flash Fiction by William Kitcher
Don't Think Twice: Flash Fiction by Elizabeth Zelvin
Teasing in the Light: Flash Fiction by Bradford Middleton
Spider: Flash Fiction by Mark Jabaut
Infirmities: Poem by David Galef
Dreaming a Little: Poem by Juan Mobili
The Dead Mingle with the Living: Poem by John Tustin
The Flower in Your Lapel: Poem by John Tustin
May Day: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Procession: Poem by Partha Sarkar
At the Funeral Lunch: Poem by Joan Leotta
Dreaming My Way Home: Poem by Joan Leotta
The Silence: Poem by John Grey
Pacing: Poem by John Grey
Elementary Classes: Poem by John C. Mannone
Rage: Poem by John C. Mannone
Comfort Zone: Poem by John C. Mannone
Serpentine Line: Poem by Charles Weld
William Calley's Apology: Poem by Charles Weld
Steve J: Poem by Charles Weld
Thief: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Sweet Pleasure: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Courtship: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Again, A Bike Left: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Short Cuts to Madness: Poem by Rp Verlaine
Ingrid Leaves Vegas: Poem by Rp Verlaine
A Necessary Poem: Poem by Rob Plath
Last Gesture: Poem by Rob Plath
Carpe Sanguinem: Poem by Rob Plath
The Antitesis: Poem by Rob Plath
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Henry Simpson: Kim Philby

100_ym_kimphilby_wfburke.jpg
Art by Wayne F. Burke 2023

Kim Philby

by Henry Simpson

 

Superior Court Judge Patrick William O’Neill jogged down Painted Cave Road with his beloved German Shepherd Kim Philby trotting along beside. The narrow road serpentined, challenging drivers and terrifying their hapless passengers with its quick, tight turns and steep drop-offs. Great granite slabs thrust up its edges and hung down slopes toward Santa Barbara. Manzanita, Sagebrush, Sage, Chamise, Bay Laurel, and the occasional Yucca and Prickly Pear cactus dotted the arid landscape.

O’Neill stopped a mile down at his usual turnaround spot, jogged in place, and sat on a boulder. Kim Philby was panting but eager as always, his eyes alert, prick ears up. O’Neill reached down, scratched his head, and a fingertip sensed the irregularity of a fresh hard tick in his coarse, brown coat. He grasped it between index finger and thumb, twisted it out, set it on a rock, and crushed it with his foot, leaving behind a dime-sized red splotch.

 Kim Philby gazed worshipfully at O’Neill, a lean and fit man of sixty, clean-shaven with silvery white hair and clear blue eyes.

The view was fine, O’Neill thought. Friends, coworkers, and relatives had all told him it was nuts to live up here, what with wildfires, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, and coyotes, but they were wrong. All of Santa Barbara lay below, as far south as Ventura and, beyond the curving coastline, the pellucid blue Pacific Ocean and upstart Channel Islands. It was an awesome place to live despite the hazards.

He checked his watch. They would be along soon now, and it was time to head back up the hill.

He stood and stretched.

Kim Philby’s ears perked and his eyes blazed.

O’Neill took a few deep breaths and then continued his jog, slowly at first, and then quickening his rhythmic pace, heading toward the house on the summit where he lived with his wife and Kim Philby. A house with, among other things, a tripod-mounted Celestron 1000-millimeter telescope good for observing wildlife and surveying the neighborhood. From his hilltop aerie, he had spotted incipient fires, burglaries in progress, and, most recently, a possible clandestine drug laboratory; the next hour would reveal the nature of his latest prey.

 Sun rising above his right shoulder, O’Neill jogged steadily uphill, retracing his earlier downhill course. Kim Philby floated effortlessly beside him, perfectly in tune, breathing with clocklike cadence. The road pitch leveled out as they approached O’Neill’s midpoint landmark, a row of four rural mailboxes atop a stone wall at roadside surrounded by a patch of white-flowering Toyon.

Powerful diesels whined in the distance as they climbed their way up the curlicue road, steadily getting closer. That would be them, O’Neill thought. Right on time.

He jogged past the mailboxes, stopped a hundred feet beyond, turned for a look back, and waited.

And waited. It was like marking time before the first pitch in a championship baseball game. He felt a tinge of pleasure, as if placing a bet, for he had something riding on the outcome of this particular game. His bet was that the Sheriff’s party would find some incriminating prize inside that little house beside the road. If they did, he’d win; if not, he’d lose face.

Flashing lights appeared a quarter mile away as they rounded a bend and came out onto the straights. The lights grew brighter and their conveyances larger, and soon he could make out raiding party elements.

Two sheriff’s cruisers led the way, followed by two white vans and two trailing cruisers. The caravan grew louder and larger, sunlight glinting off windshields and polished chrome, and then gradually slowed until all its vehicles came to a stop on the road alongside the little house. Loud, idling diesels and crackling sheriff’s radios pestered the otherwise sweet and silent mountaintop air.

A few seconds passed, and then six helmeted men in black uniforms carrying M4 carbines disembarked from the front van. A second group left the rear van. Four men in the assault team slung a steel battering ram between them, double-timed to the porch, and swung the ram into the front door, which collapsed inward in two strokes.

Soon O’Neill would know the answer to his question.

 

 

Originally published by the author in Poydras Review, 5-7-18.

 

Henry Simpson is the author of several novels, short stories, and works of nonfiction on technical subjects. He studied engineering, did graduate work in English and Psychology, and holds a PhD from UC Santa Barbara. He lives in Monterey, California.

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