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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Kurt Hohmann: Homecoming

Art by Cynthia Fawcett 2023



by Kurt Hohmann



Gail waits at the corner of Elm and Third. Her legs ache from two hours of waiting in the damp autumn air. Her spirit aches from a wait that's dragged on for an entire year.

The projector in her mind plays the year-old film in an endless loop.

Jimmy Dupotnik, star quarterback, smiles at her from across the cafeteria. Hundreds of adolescent voices fade into background buzz as he approaches. His eyes, exuding confidence beneath a mop of dark curls, call to her. She answers his call in kind, filled with her own confidence that he's about to ask her to the homecoming dance. Her plans are coming to fruition, dreams falling into place.

But then . . .

Jimmy's smiling face is eclipsed. A shadow falls across the sunshine of his perfect visage. His attention shifts. A moment passes. With it go Gail's chances for a lifetime of happiness.

The shadow is called Mary Fezwick. The pleats of her cheerleading skirt reveal long, tanned legs. Her big, phony smile and bigger, phony boobs consume Jimmy's vision.

Gail, forgotten, is once more consumed by the noise of the crowd.

Her mental film loop includes no footage of Jimmy and Mary being crowned homecoming king and queen. The night of the dance, Gail shrouded herself in the darkness of the woods, where crying coyotes muffled her own tortured sobs.

All of the classes she signed up for, the clubs she joined, the people she pretended to befriend; all of her careful plans became torture. Jimmy was unattainable, but also unavoidable. And his eyes called only to Mary.

The year passed. Summer provided some respite, and in September Gail made sure to avoid them both.

Until today. Today, she'll see them in full royal garb, king and queen of the bygone year. Taking their last ride together.

The parade turns the corner and begins to pass by. Gail ignores the marching band, the tykes on trikes, the clowns. She focuses on her goal, the only thing that matters.

It appears. The monstrous red and blue float, royal coach of the homecoming. They are up there, turning and waving at the crowd.

Gail slides her fingers along the cold steel. A year ago, she knew nothing of guns. Today, caressing its barrel is like greeting a dear friend. Hand firm on the grip, thumb sliding off the safety, she begins to slip it from beneath her coat.

She pauses. Jimmy's in his uniform, but it looks all wrong; it hangs on his frame. As for Mary, the royal robe she's wearing can't hide her protruding belly. Any more than makeup hides the bruises on her face.

They both smile, but without joy. They do it because it's what they're supposed to do.

Gail's own smile is genuine as she slides the gun back into its holster. After all, she still has a lifetime of happiness to pursue.



Kurt Hohmann (www.kurthohmann.com) tells stories, builds altars to ancient gods, and crafts mad culinary experiments. He and his wife share a home with two living cats, six feline ghosts, and one affectionate python. His tales have been featured in Schlock Webzine, Commuter Lit, Black Petals, Aphelion, Half Hour to Kill, Yellow Mama, Literally Stories, Dark Fire, Bookends Review, and Eternal Haunted Summer.

Cynthia Fawcett has been writing for fun or money since she was able to hold a pen. A Jersey Girl at heart, she got her journalism degree at Marquette University in Milwaukee and now writes mostly technical articles about hydraulics and an occasional short story or poem on any other subject.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2023