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With This Ring: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Wheelie: Fiction by KM Rockwood
Contents Undisclosed: Fiction by Rebecca Holtzman
Here's Looking at You: Fiction by Victoria Weisfeld
Girl of My Dreams: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Jet Fuel: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Princess of the Silent Kingdom: Fiction by Fred Zackel
Relationship Status: Fiction by Greta T. Bates
A Dish Best Served Cold: Fiction by Shari Held
The Face in the Tree: Fiction by Joan Leotta
Shower Scene: Fiction by Ben Newell
The Dreary Detective: Fiction by E.E. Williams
Deadly Meating: Flash Fiction by Jacob Graysol
Full, From the Grave: Flash Fiction by Craig Kirchner
Leave Me Alone: Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Free Key Day: Flash Fiction by William Kitcher
The Night the Monster Came: Flash Fiction by Tim Tobin
Some Things That I Learned in the Army: Poem by Richelle Slota
Double Negatives: Poem by RC Potter
Bird of Night: Poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Last Night: poem by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal
Poem for an Ex: Poem by John Grey
His Gallery: Poem by John Grey
Beachwood Canyon: Poem by Damon Hubbs
Stick Horses: Poem by Damon Hubbs
she blew me a kiss: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
so much in common: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
After I Turned 40: Poem by Richard LeDue
The Alarm Clock: Poem by Richard LeDue
Sentimental Love Poems Shown to No One: Poem by Richard LeDue
The Children: Poem by Dawn L. C. Miller
The Deadly Shoes: Poem by Dawn L. C. Miller
The Sands of Inanna: Poem by Dawn L. C. Miller
Angelic: Poem by John Short
Robophobe: Poem by John Short
Worry Beads: Poem by John Short
not even Baudelaire: Poem by Craig Kirchner
Dream Doctor: Poem by Craig Kirchner
Neon Poem: Poem by Craig Kirchner
Another Chapter in Life:Poem by Amirah Al Wassif
The Same Old Story: Poem by Amirah Al Wassif
to bury a curious girl: Poem by Amirah Al Wassif
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Bill Kitcher: Free Key Day

Art by Steve Cartwright © 2024

Free Key Day




William Kitcher



For no reason I could discern except for the fact the three of us were drunk, Eddie picked up a rock and smashed the window of the back door of the store beside the bar in which we were drinking and outside which we were smoking.

Eddie knocked the remaining shards of glass out with his elbow, put his hand through the window, and unlocked the door.

Our drinking companion, whose name I think was Annie, backed off and shook her head. I agreed with Annie. “What the shit, Eddie?” she said.

It was four o’clock in the afternoon; the store was still open for business. I figured that was the worst time of day to rob a place. But what do I know? I’m not a robber. My business is more dispersal of stolen goods, but I was a little intrigued.

Eddie went inside, and I went in after him, more out of interest in what would happen than any potential windfall.

I looked back at Annie. She took a couple more drags on her smoke, threw it away, and followed us inside.

Eddie had already moved into the front of the store. He had the storekeeper, a man about sixty, in a headlock.

“Jesus, Eddie,” said the man. “What are you doing?”

The guy knew who Eddie was. This could not end well.

“Shut up, old man,” said Eddie.

Eddie wrestled the old guy into the back room. “Annie, get the money,” he said.

This was stupid, but at least I was now sure of her name.

Annie shook her head. “Oh, good job, man. You idiot. That’s not my name.” Annie lit another smoke as she went out the back door. Annie wasn’t a burglar from what I’d heard. She was more of a pickpocket and scammer.

“Bill, get the money,” said Eddie.

I was kind of stunned by this point, especially considering my name isn’t Bill, so I went into the front of the store. I had no idea how to open a till.

A customer came in, and all I could think to say was, “May I help you, ma’am?”

“I’d like this key duplicated.”

It was a shoe store. I was confused. Pathetically, I called out, “Eddie?”

Faintly, I heard, “What?”

“Customer wants a key duplicated.”

There was a pause, then the old man came out of the back room, took the woman’s key, and went back to the back.

I smiled stupidly.

A couple of minutes later, he came back with two keys, gave them to the customer, and said, “No charge. It’s ‘Free Key Day.’ Please come again.”

The woman left, and I stood there with the old man. OK, not old, he was about sixty, as I said.

Eddie came into the store from the back. We all looked at each other.

The storekeeper turned to Eddie. “Swear to God, Eddie,” he said, “and you know I don’t believe in God, why do you do shit like this? I asked you to replace the entire back door. I have three sons and two daughters who could do this without being dramatic, but I chose you, and this is how you start?”

“Hey, Dad, you know me. It’s more fun this way.”

I was still standing there, stupidly.

When Eddie and I went back to the bar, we discovered Annie had drunk the rest of our drinks and stolen our coats.



Bill Kitcher’s stories, plays, and comedy sketches (and one poem!) have been published, produced, and/or broadcast in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Czechia, England, Guernsey, Holland, India, Ireland, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.S. His stories have appeared in Horror Sleaze Trash, Rock and a Hard Place, Shotgun Honey, Guilty, Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, and many other journals. His novel, Farewell and Goodbye, My Maltese Sleep, was published in 2023 by Close To The Bone Publishing. 

Also, his prehensile tail,which never caused him any problems, has now started lengthening.

It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2024