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We the Jury; Fiction by Barbara Stanley
Emptying the Trash: Fiction by Rick McQuiston
Milepost 44: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Planetary Perpetrator: Fiction by James Flynn
A Thin Thread: Fiction by M. E. Proctor
What Is the Song the Children Sing?: Fiction by Paul Radcliffe
A Bottle of Sherry: Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Junipers: Fiction by Liberty Price
Institution Inspector No. 23: Fiction by Michael Fowler
Nightmares of Nightmares: Fiction by John J. Dillon
When You're Dead, You're Done!: Fiction by Pamela Ebel
Family Business: Fiction by Donald Glass
Colors: Flash Fiction by Bernice Holtzman
Gladiators: Flash Fiction by John C. Mannone
Pigeons in the Park: Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Kitsy: Flash Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
the look of legs: Poem by Meg Baird
Mike's 80th Birthday: Poem by Elizabeth Zelvin
The Art of Flying: Poem by John C. Mannone
Magazine Sestina: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Been Down So Low, It Now Sounds Great: Poem by Bradford Middleton
the burnt globe and the pregnancy: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Evening Alone: Poem by Craig Kirchner
Larry, Moe, and Me: Poem by Craig Kirchner
I Live the Life I Chose: Poem by Richelle Slota
Death House: Poem by Richelle Slota
he died of cancer: Poem by Wayne F. Burke
Night: Poem by Wayne F. Burke
and they are prancing: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
full of thoughts and hopes: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
threading a needle: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Atlas Yearns for Retirement: Poem by Richard Allen Taylor
Frown: Poem by Richard Allen Taylor
Why is the Sky Cerulean?: Poem by Richard Allen Taylor
Awakening: Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Swirling in the Chaos: Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Moira: Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Midnight Molt: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Moments Before Awakening: Poem by Michael Keshigian
The Messenger: Poem by Michael Keshigian
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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Hillary Lyon: A Bottle of Sherry

Art by Cynthia Fawcett 2024

A Bottle of Sherry


by Hillary Lyon



A handful of roofies, in a plastic zip-lock baggie. A six foot length of medical tubing. One scalpel. Four pairs of handcuffs. A roll of plastic sheeting. One empty wine bottle, screw top. I meticulously store all of these objects in my duffel bag, the olive green one my father used when he hitch-hiked across the Midwest, back in the 70’s. Before he was arrested as the I-90 Mangler. But that’s a story for another time.

* * *

Carson reached over to tap the mute button on our MP3 player.

“Hey, I like that song.” Here we go, another tug of war over the smallest stuff.

“Well, I don’t,” Carson retorted. “You know I prefer classical.”

“But that’s a classic Pat Travers’ song,” I said. “His version of an old blues classic by Little Walter.”

“This,” Carson said, bored with this battle and changing the subject, “is a fortified wine from Spain, usually served after dinner—as a digestif.” He twirled a glass of a dark wine-colored liquid before taking a delicate sip. “Often, it’s white or amber colored, but this one’s an Oloroso—so it’s dark, as well as complex, dry and slightly nutty.”

I reached for my glass, and he slapped my hand away. “I’m not finished.” He then droned on about the region of Spain from whence this sherry came, the grapes used, how those grapes were processed, how long the sherry was aged and in what sort of wooden barrels.

I couldn’t help but think of the sherry referenced in “The Cask of Amontillado,” which was preferable to listening to Carson go on and on and on about the attributes of this particular sherry. I hated it when he brought his work home. Carson worked as the liquor specialist for a local big box spirits store—Booze-R-Us is how I thought of it. Lately, he was infatuated with sherries, and all the middling varieties his store offered.

Sherry is also the name of his girlfriend. The one he thinks I know nothing about.

* * *

On the back of a grocery receipt, I found a phone number, written in Carson’s jagged scrawl. He’d also scribbled the name, Sherry. Did he leave it on the kitchen counter because he wanted me to find it, or because he’s a careless slob? Having been married to him for 13 years, I vote for the latter.

Yet it wasn’t the first time he’d left clues around. It was almost like he wanted me to find out, wanted me to confront him, leave him. He wanted me to do the dirty work; passive-aggressives are like that. I was on to him.

And I had other ideas.

I called the number on the receipt. A woman answered.

“Hey baby,” she said in a husky voice. Looks like he’d called her from our house phone before.

“Yeah, Sherry?” I replied. Silence.

“Listen, you know Carson? I’m his wife, Janine,” I began. She groaned. I went on, “I think we should meet, talk like adults. I have an idea that will resolve this situation for all three of us.”

“Yeah, okay,” she mumbled. I was surprised how easy, how agreeable she was; probably how Carson got in her panties in the first place. Sherry was but one in a long line of store customers who he’d charmed and bedded. The early conquests tended to be classier wine-moms, but the last few were—let’s just say Carson lowered his standards.

“How about, you give me your address, and I’ll pick you up. We’ll do lunch. My treat.” She told me the name of her apartment complex, and her unit’s number. “I’ll see you Saturday morning, around 11.” That would give me plenty of time to pack my bag of tricks.

* * *

Sherry opened the door after several knocks, wearing a stained pink chenille bathrobe. Her hair was wild and dry, with last night’s eye make-up smeared on her face. Eleven o’clock, and she’d just stumbled out of bed.

“Too much fun last night, huh,” I said as I pushed my way into her tiny, messy apartment. “You alone? Or do you have a playmate sleeping in the bedroom?” When he was scheduled to work on Saturday—like today—Carson always stayed home Friday night, so I know he wasn’t her party buddy.

“Huh? No, just me.” She mumbled, her breath reeking of last night’s whiskey and cigarettes. I looked Sherry up and down. What on Earth did Carson see in her?

“You forget our appointment?”

“No, no—Janelle, right?” She shook her head, as if that would clear the muddling fog of her hang-over.

“Yeah,” I snorted. My name was Janine, not Janelle, but whatever. I dropped my duffel bag on the floor next to her coffee table.

“What’s that?” She asked distractedly. Before I could answer, she was on her way to her tiny kitchen. “Want some coffee?”

I followed her. “Thanks,” I said as I took a cup of luke-warm instant from her. I dropped in several roofies.

Back at the couch, I pointed to a large, framed photo of an apricot poodle hanging on her wall. “What a pretty dog! Is he yours?” When Sherry turned to look at the photo, I switched the coffee mugs. So easy.

“Maybe someday!” She cheerfully slugged her coffee. I could’ve asked what she meant by that, but I really didn't care.

“So about Carson,” I began abruptly, “You do understand he’s just using you for a bit of fun, right?” She shrugged, her eyelids beginning to droop. Sherry fumbled her mug, spilling coffee on her robe. I took the cup from her, set it on the table.

Then I reached for my duffel bag, unzipped it, and began laying out my toys, neatly, on her coffee table. Her brow wrinkled, and she was breathing heavily through her mouth.

I pulled out the handcuffs, dangled them before her unfocused, uncomprehending eyes. “He’s a serial cheater, and you're not the first slag he’s had,” I said as I clicked the handcuffs closed around her bony wrists, “but you’re certainly going to be the last.”

* * *

“You are going to love this,” I shouted from the kitchen, as I poured the viscous red liquid into the delicate cut-crystal glasses. I waltzed back into the den with the two glasses and the bottle of Sherry set on the silver-plated serving tray. A wedding present from his mother.

I placed the tray on the coffee table before us, careful not to spill a drop. “This has a most delightful mouthfeel!” I handed Carson a glass, and raised my own to him. “Cheers!” We clinked glasses.

I took a sip, never moving my eyes off Carson. He raised the glass to his nose, sniffed. “Doesn’t smell like sherry,” he grumbled.

Oh, but it does! I wanted to corrected. “This is a special edition,” I said instead. “You couldn’t say this Sherry is sweet, or particularly attractive.” I giggled. “Matter of fact, she’s very dry, nutty, and about 35 years old.”

Carson ignored my critique; as I’d been told many times, he was the connoisseur, not me. He took a sip, licked his lips. “I don't like it,” he said as he put his glass back down on the coffee table. “Got a weird, almost metallic taste.”

“Oh, contraire—you did like this Sherry,” I grinned. “So much that you cheated on me with her.” I picked up the bottle, spilling the dark red liquid on the tacky silvery tray as I did.

Carson’s eyes grew wide. “How did you . . . when did you . . . this can’t be . . .” For once in his sad little life, Carson was at a loss for words. I swung the bottle at his head once, twice. As the old song says, Boom! Boom! Out go the lights.

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 the Art Director for Black Petals and is also an illustrator for horror & pulp fiction magazines. 


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 2024