Punk Novel Depicts America’s Fall from Grace

August 26, 2020, Los Angeles, California – “Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, the list of cities rebelling, rejecting our current system of government and social order is growing, and the oppressed, the long-ignored, are now rising up,” claims Russ Lippitt, author of the soon-to-be-released novel F.T.W.: Rise of the Anarchy March. “A ‘new’ normal? Get used to it. The reality is there is no such thing as ‘normal.’ It’s an illusion.” Rising authoritarianism, the cratering of the US economy, and geopolitical instabilities, Lippitt proposes a way out. By showing us what will happen if we decide “to continue on a road that is futureless,” and placing Anarchy in a fictional space, he makes an often-misunderstood philosophy more plausible.

F.T.W. dives deep into the bleak and post-apocalyptic nation once known as the United States of America. When the ideals of, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” were taken for granted, those same rights were denied. In the near future, the republic has been torn apart into sovereign countries by politics, greed, and religion. The horrors that ensued from decades of raging wars between the upper and lower classes gives rise to a punk brigade known as the Anarchy March. They fight to overturn their corrupt government’s tyranny on humanity and to save the world from the status quo.    

Lippitt scoffs at the comparisons of his revolutionary and quite disturbing predictive tome, and the “Punks” who lead it, to Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. “They missed the mark by decades and were wrong about the people who would lead the charge!” Does F.T.W. try to solve some of life’s most complex and looming questions. “No,” says Lippitt, but rather, “It’s a warning shot, decrying the savageness when all seems lost.” The expeditions of the Anarchy March shine a spotlight on unfettered religion, war, and politics in order to understand and co-exist with one another amidst diverse philosophies. 

In the spirits of The Outsiders and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, I raise my gin and tonic high in author Russ Lippitt’s honor!”

— Outsight Radio (review for Lion’s Share)

Russ Lippitt lives in Los Angeles, CA. He is the Anarchologist of our time; the author of the critically acclaimed Lion’s Share, a sought-after counterculture featured columnist, and has several script and film projects in the works. Lippitt is the articulate voice of the younger generation of punks and societal rebels who believe they have been betrayed by the “promise” of America.

November 2020 · 226 pp · 5.5” x 8.5” · Fiction
Trade Paperback: ISBN 9781893660304 · $19.99
Published by Ravenhawk Books

Talking to Strangers by K. A. Laity

PhotoFunia-1593254997Talking to Strangers

K. A. Laity

 

I do talk to strangers. You don’t mind, do you? I know some people do. They move away from me on the bench, even if it’s raining and they get all wet. Sometimes I can understand. You want a bit of quiet, you want to think your thoughts. I feel that way sometimes, too. The thoughts they have a way of getting out or getting in, up in your brain like, I guess. They want to have a wander, they want to let you see the shape of them and hear their voices and sometimes that’s not bad at all.

Do you want a bite of my sandwich? It’s fresh. I just got it out back of the shop there. No one else but me has eaten it. No? Well, if you change your mind, don’t be shy.

Thoughts was it? I was thinking. We are all thinking. All the time. My husband used to say that’s why he drank. Joking like, you know, only joking—or was he? Sometimes I wasn’t sure. He had that deadpan wit, that quiet sort of way, only joking he would say and sometimes I figured, as you do, sometimes I figured he was only saying so, you know what I’m going to say, only saying so when he had been caught out and it wasn’t a joke at all just a thing he wanted to say and then walk back from as if he had never said it or meant it or not.

He was always like that. God rest his soul.

No, no: not dead. He’s alive last I knew. I think I saw him in town about a year ago, hurrying along to the betting shop. Getting his little flutter in. Like the drinking it was never so much, just a bit to distract him. Mostly from me. I think he regretted things, as you do, as we all do sometimes. The baby, I regretted the baby. We regretted the baby, I mean. A mistake, after all. A mistake when the house is not full of love. Babies need love. Babies need care. Constant care. You have to be there all the time. You have to be attentive. He wasn’t going to be the one. It had to be me.

I can share my chocolate bar. Shall I break off a piece? No? On a diet. Young thing like you shouldn’t worry about slimming. You never regret the chocolate. That’s one thing I can say for sure. Never regret the cakes or the biscuits. No. Children though, you regret them.

I haven’t thought of them in years. Children I mean. We can live our whole lives without them, you know. It’s not just modern women. In my time, too. Lots of women, lots, decided they could do without. That was the age of the pill. You take it for granted now. But in my day—

Oh listen to me! Talking like my gran, like I said I would never do. ‘In my day’ well, we all know things were different in the past though not always as much as we guess. Same as in my gran’s day because the priests you know, the priests said it was sinful so we had the babies we didn’t want and had to live with it make the best of it. That’s the way it was.

And it wasn’t what I meant to do, none of it. Didn’t really want a baby, not once I found out that I got tired of him. You can’t imagine how dull men are when they have you, when they don’t care to please you anymore. Just want a mum to clean up after them, feed them, bring them tea.

And all the time you have to be fussing with another baby, too, one that cries and screams and has the most foul smelling poo you ever could imagine in your life. No, wait until you find out for yourself. So foul.

And just a moment’s distraction. Well, a few minutes. I was only away a moment. The bath is—well, we should have had little baby one but himself didn’t want to buy it. Only a minute or so. The water was cold, I told them, because I was always afraid of scalding that tender skin. Really. Sad, it was, but he looked pretty as a doll once he was quiet.

Don’t you want a bite?

Panic, Passion…Pancakes by Mike Zone

Panic, Passion…Pancakes

(Dedicated to the crew…you fuckers know who you are)

It was a morning full of sun but there was a melancholy quietness about it which kind of haunted the air reminding me of that Hitchcock movie where the birds come down and peck all the people to hell…I couldn’t quite recall the title but there I was sitting at table nine with the usual crew on the nineth day of the nineth month at the nineth hour of the morning, distracted by the absence of bird sounds feeling something bad was about to happen but no one seemed to notice trapped inside their own similar phone prisons that told us we were all the same but different so I knew making mention of anything outside of what we were here for outside of that tiny mobile screen would be useless. Who gave a fuck about nature anyway?

Once you were inside Flapjack Stacks the only thing that mattered was the kind of syrup and toppings you were going to desecrate your body with as one consumed a stack of plate sized specialty pancakes. Crisping pork flesh filled the air along with sizzling chicken fetus, chopped onion, raw batter and alcohol stained sex from various nights before oozing from a multitude of pores…lots of families went to Flap-Jack Stack on Sundays right after church to stress eat about going to hell and take it out on the slaves working in the strip mall, it was a Sunday but church wasn’t out yet and that’s why we were there.

I hated table nine. The waitress brought us there. She acted like she didn’t know us and treated us like shit, even though we’d been going there for years. Table nine and I had history. She didn’t share that history just hated other people who worked for a living because she didn’t want to work for a living because it all added up to nothing for her, so no one eating here was going to swoop in like a superhero and save her with a middle class life to make her their middle class wife, when she couldn’t even afford to go anywhere outside of work.

Life was over. Maybe that’s why, she got table nine.

I rolled a small joint as I sat down and tucked it behind my ear to demonstrate what a low life I was and smiled at her like I was going to kill her and have stuffed in some twisted love-struck way. She held head up high pretending like she had self esteem and was going to attend a private school and abruptly walked off as the rest of the guy’s snickered. I noticed the little extra wriggle she gave her ass as she walked away, it was instinctual she didn’t mean it, soon very soon she’d cave into the wrong guy, who wasn’t me. I leaned back with my eyes closed trying to imagine tapping that from behind.

“Fuck, I hate table nine.”

Armand chuckled know the history of most it, except what had happened a month before, I was still in my neck brace about to address Boris only to realize he had been deported and Tom had brought Boris’ cousin “Richie” in place of him. A few years ago, it was a golden age of filing serial numbers off guns in my loft and grooving out barrels to make bullets untraceable. Shortly after my ex left, I had asked Boris who I had known since the seventh grade for about ten thousand dollars to cover about a year in rent.

“Tony, I don’t have the money, but I know how we can make it.”

I kept my place, got a little deeper but pulled out once I got a warehouse gig and finished school to work for a text book company swindling students from all over the socioeconomic spectrum, it was cool until we got bought out and shut down by one of our rivals and here I was almost thinking of getting back to into things with a wide array of connections. Boris literally got pulled out of his apartment by a swarm of FBI agents for having a cache of illegal weapons and drugs, went through eight different prisons in a year and wound up back to where he came from returning to hopefully not the pile of rubble that was his shelled home back in the old country during the siege.

As for his cousin…

Richie wasn’t his real name; it was going to be his chosen name when he officially became an American citizen. He’d always puff out his chest and tears would well up in his eyes whenever he’d bring it up and how the land of opportunity allowed his family’s cleaning business to flourish, Richie didn’t know that his dad got Boris into the real cleaning business which wasn’t as much cleaning as much as covering for people who weren’t supposed to exist but that’s another story for another time. Richie was a good kid.

“Bro’, once wrong with table nine?”

I sighed, thinking of where and how this was going to go.

Luckily Tom, grabbed Richie’s hoodie and turned his American flag pin right side up.

“Dude, you want to be an American you can’t disrespect the flag like that. You got to keep watch over it, she’s your motherland now.”

“I’m sorry bro, I’m sorry.”

Armand smirked at all this, he smirked at everything whether it was actually funny or wicked, he was kind of fucked from the copious amounts drugs over the years along with being sexually abused in a refugee camp in Germany which led to some strange dark paths here.

“Man, Richie…I cried when I became a citizen.”

“Really bro?”

“Yeah, I still cry.”

“Why bro.”

“I cried for the homeland before we left, looking at our cat before the bombs blew it up. I cried when we got on the boat. I cried when we came here. I cried at my first American feast of fried chicken and orange soda. I cried when I became a citizen because the life, I knew was completely gone on paper, I was an American now.”

“What the fuck you saying that shit for,” Tom exclaimed, pounding his fist on the table.

“We’re free.”

“Yeah, Tom…totally free, I can choose my soda, what to put on my pancakes, but I can’t choose to live outside any of this,” Armand gestured around.

“Fuck you, you sound like the black guy’s at work.”

Tom was everything America was but wasn’t. He was the surface the corporate media wanted, a moderate with family-oriented values who was softly bigoted but fairly decent about it, hated paying taxes, shrugged his shoulders at war and didn’t vote. His grandpa used to be a high powered lawyer before dementia set in, it was rumored Tom’s family secretly owned the police department in several counties which explained the astronomical number of times Tom crashed his truck into trees and literally defecated and urinated on factory and cutting room floors, shrieking about the right to work whenever a union steward wanted to talk.

Tom didn’t believe in college. He believed in working with his hands, which really meant falling into a pool of blood money he got from just sitting back and inheriting. He didn’t have many friends rich or poor, because he pretended to be one or the other among the wrong ones, so he stuck to us like a parasite which meant he was loyal and reliable out of loneliness.

“Bro, what this about table nine?”

“Bad things always go down at table nine.”

Tom laughed recalling the drunken and heartbroken time I descended upon a butch lesbian who insisted she liked girls and how me made out hard in front of everyone in broad daylight only to find out she was transwoman and wanted to me to later come over and help her write a book about her life.

That was a table nine story BUT that wasn’t the story, Richie was going to hear…

I bristled as Armand’s eyes shifted knowing to where our association with table nine stemmed from and what it was connected to and how every story when it keeps going eventually ends in tragedy and it’s not an opera until somebody cries.

“It’s where I met…the girl.

Pearl, my pearl in an ocean of sorrow when I hit bottom and needed a reason to breath for air, so lifted it up to the light out of the water to see the shine sparkle on her. It was a marriage between Heaven and Hell that eventually became an inferno when we were on the verge of getting married which was the reason we were all here together today due to the fallout of what I had to do after she or rather her dad worked on taking my future away, here condemning me to what we once affectionately deemed the “The Company” which had to do work for “The Organization” which co-existed in a love/hate kind of way with “The System” which really loved it all but pretended to hate it.

“You could say that’s when the trouble started but it was just the seed, really…”

The seed planted was hope, the trouble was the actually sprouting out and crawling from the gutter, she help me find who I wasn’t in all of this, encouraged me to go back to school and go to law school so I could become a lawyer maybe give other working class thugs like me a fighting chance…only I never got go to law school, I was unofficially marked, black listed from any real positive prospects, her dad and the deacon played golf with the judge and the lawyer they hired did work with for our fascist governor and normally busted unions for a living. It didn’t matter what happened or how it went down, only I won but had to pay for it and the pound of flesh wound up being a future in law. The nearest thing I could do was allegedly ghost lawyer and do people’s bankruptcies for them, a boring ass phantom melting in the shadows, working as a barback to most people I just seemed like a middle aged failure who only knew how to sling half drunk beer glasses and fuck…I didn’t fuck all that much but I could sure secretly lawyer, snort cocaine and masturbate out of frustration reading Russian literature.

The pancakes arrived. The highlight of the day. Perhaps a final meal part of the last rites for the devil’s bargain made but not kept. Funny, how you can never exactly focus on the face or other details of a person when their heralding something great, whether it’s food to sustain a ravenous hunger or sex, the experience consumes you rather than you actually doing the consumption but to hell with philosophy it was pancake eating time at Flap Jack Stacks where even if things were to go wrong, you’d die fully satisfied, fuck everything else including the end of the world.

“Bro…” Richie was astonished by the sight of the All American: plate sized butter milk pancakes, sausage, bacon baked in like berries topped with corned beef hash, shredded American cheese, steak tips and ketchup. His eyes glazed with a misty pride.

“I’m an American.”

Armand snickered and look down at his plate and beamed with his own peculiar type of pride at the Po’ Panda, same pancakes covered vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, black berries for nose and chocolate chips for eyes and for some reason strawberry jam for blood foaming out of it’s mouth. He cleared his throat and nodded to me.

“Tony…it was a great idea coming here, you know the first time I knew we were truly friends, we ate at this table and I ordered these pancakes feeling like a true American, you were my first real American friend because you were genuine and not an asshole looking for a token foreigner.”

“Why don’t you just suck his dick and ask him to marry you?” Guffawed Tom, who held his fork like a caveman and stabbed into a sausage atop the Texan, which was whatever someone from Ohio thought should go on a Texas styled stack of pancakes topped with butter and barbecue sauce and a single jalapeno.

I took a slug of coffee and looked at my crew, missing Boris. We both used to get the same thing, Big Blue; buttermilk blueberry pancakes because we were basics bitches or rather anything but and that was the joke which as every joke has a nugget of truth, and at the heart matter, aren’t we all pretty basic?

“Tony Bordello in the House of Jack!”

Chris James swaggered in , obnoxious white sunglasses and all, knowing Tom would be there in his army fatigues and assault rifle, Chris felt the need to outdo him; in stars and stripes track pants, backwards white ball cap with Uncle Sam flipping the bird and of course a bazooka strapped on his back to offset his black DANCE , DANCE, DANCE t-shirt. Bordello wasn’t my last name either, it was Bordeaux, but Chris was an obnoxious asshole, you couldn’t help love.

“Have no fear everyone, my weapon of choice is disabled like my cheating ex-girlfriend’s new man!” He proclaimed to frightened patrons and uneasy friends alike. He shook hands all around the table like a spastic coke fiend, shaking so much you didn’t know if he was going to lift off and collide with the moon.

“Bordeaux, man…you remember that time we sat here and those goofy fuckers we’re drunk and talking about killing some guy’s girlfriend’s boyfriend and they bought us pancakes and the next day they were on the news ‘cause they really did fuckin’ murder that guy…anyway I gotta take a shit!” He thumbed toward the bathroom and blasted off in more ways than one.

I remembered the night.  I had just starting going with Pearl, those two wanted to get ecstasy and have all of us run a train on her, when they found out we were dealing at raves, only we didn’t have any and the weaselly guy jumped up and down sputtering…

“We’ll get the bitch so drunk, stick that booty out the back window with duct tape, charge five dollars a pump! God, I’m so horny! Started drinking at 5am!  Woke up from a dream, bathing in my girlfriend’s blood!”

The prospect of atrocity seemed to be attracted to the dynamics of Pearl and I which is why I was in this neck brace, sitting among old friends waiting for something wicked this way to come at table nine. The crew was gathered, and it was time for them to know why, Chris had known the story without even asking, he transcended “The Company” and could be considered an extended “family member of middle management in relation to “The Organization”.

“There’s always a story with you Tony.” He told me as soon as he picked up the phone before anything could be said. He knew why and agreed to what I was going to ask before it could be asked; we were homeless and used to feed each other when we lived off the streets, even did a couple of low level jobs, I just got out of the tractor beam of “The Organization” on time, while Chris got further pulled in, deeper into a specialized trade that eventually left him on borrowed time, as he had recently had surgery for an aneurysm due to the excessive amounts of coke and acid he had taken over years. It didn’t work and I’m sure the now brutal and more frequent intakes of coke, meth and whiskey weren’t helping, one week later.

I poked an over easy egg and drowned a strip of bacon into it. Tom shook his head and laughed.

“Worst Jew ever.”

I grimaced, it was forced there was barely any laughter left inside of me and Armand noticed. He took my hand.

“Tony? How’s your dad?”

Something broke inside of me and blurted on the edge of weeping.

“I done fucked up guys, it’s over.”

“Bro, what’s over.”

“Everything.”

The levy broke and it all came flooding out.

“Pearl’s dad had to take one last dig, knowing he couldn’t touch me…my dad’s cancer is back, he can’t get Medicare, right? Got a dishwashing job so he could have insurance, they fired his ass for no reason, told him he wasn’t welcome there anymore showed him write-ups he never signed, manager said his friend Renaldo Salucio knew a guy by Tony Bordeaux, ‘Any relation? A junior perhaps?’ Laughed in his face, my dad’s going to forgo treatment he can’t afford now without insurance. “

“Bro, what are going to do?”

“It’s not what I’m going to do…it’s what I did.”

“Tony, when you strike back- “

“I’m a fucking monster, Armand.”

“Tony, every time you’ve done something to get back at someone it’s because they deserved it. You show them a bit of mercy, they laugh at you and poke you again…you’re like an animal in the forest, you can show the people where the food is, help them survive, protect them, show kindness, then they beat the animal with a stick, back him against the wall, cage him and wonder, why did this beast rip my arm off?”

“Shut the fuck up with your gay ass poetry. Damn, Tony don’t go all sissy with tears what did you do and what’s with the neck brace?”

Armand’s eyed widened, his mouth dropped as he slumped against the booth.

“Tony, you did it, didn’t you?”

“I couldn’t help it…Armand, I’m a fucking monster…that’s why I told you guys to come packing, it’s the end.”

Tom stopped shoving food in his face when it dawned on him what it could’ve been, remembering the one thing which frightened even Boris.

“Tony, god damn it, you didn’t…”

“Bro, what did you do? Bro, what did he do? Bro what the hell is going on?”

“The crack-whore? Was it the crack-whore? Don’t tell us it was the friggin’ crack-whore.”

“You unleashed Nancy, didn’t you?”

“You got back with her?”

“No, guys far worse than that.”

“Bro, who’s Nancy?”

“Nancy is the Devil, one time your cousin, thought of shooting  her ‘cause she said he was a pussy for bringing a gun to a dope deal but he didn’t think the bullets would stop her when she pissed off this one dude who smacked her with a brick in the face…didn’t even phase her, bitch was so high and crazy. You didn’t fucking get back with her, did you?”

“No, no…I declared my love for her, told she was the one and how wrong I had been about everything, especially us.”

Armand shook his head in dismay as Richie nodded pretending to know what was going on as I wondered why it took so long for Chris to take a shit. Tom pounded the table with his fork and huffed.

“You stupid mother fucker!”

Nancy was my girlfriend from way  back when, we used to make ecstasy or rather she did as she was good with chemicals and I’d sell it at raves until she got into crack but her lawyer parent’s eventually cleaned her up and she wound up getting three master’s degrees; one in political science, chemistry and business management…her job was inheriting money from her dead cancered up mother and suicidal father, while gravitating toward a slew of prescription drugs to keep her normal with others to counter act the side effects of the initial prescriptions along with the legal highs of a multitude of painkillers and unheard of amounts of alcohol. Her body was a perfect drug intake machine almost making her  superhuman, a demon in the sack, coupled with a trauma inflicted mind , spoiled rich kid syndrome and corporate filtered news, she was a soul sucking succubus that not only devoured your sex organs but consumed your sanity and recycled the will to live into something so twisted and bizarre you never knew exactly where you were and how you’d get out.

“I couldn’t help it, I needed revenge so bad…I went to her…these people are never going to recover, the old man’s legacy is gone, his shit he valued with his money…all gone, he can’t get it back without plundering his own retirement and Pearl…Pearl’s  infertile and totally fragmented from her family, her new husband beat her so bad she’s on life support.”

“She got The Movement involved.”

“That bad ass freedom fighting group?” Tom was elated by the revelation.

“She’s bankrolling a new local chapter; they want to overthrow the government and they’re actually white supremacists.”

“You can’t join them, who ever heard of a Jewish Nazi?”

“Bro, they’re not coming here, are they?”

“No, most of them are gone…I outed what they did to the police giving names, it all went down, but Nancy escaped.” I pointed to my neck brace.

“She tried to snap my neck after I got up in bed and told her I made a terrible mistake and how every time we have sex, I always get a guilty sick feeling in my stomach and that I could never be with her. Then I begged her not to commit suicide, she once told me how if I ever rejected her again she would go off in the woods, take a bunch of ecstasy, crack and acid and just wander all drugged out until she died heartbroken but tragically fake happy.”

I drained the last bit of coffee from my bone chipped mug, took a sip of water and cleared my throat.

“I saw those baby blues glisten and harden into something dark, Armand. She manically laughed, it was otherworldly, asked me about The Movement. When I declined, she pounced on me trying to break my neck, giggling ‘I’m going to make it so you can’t move and learn what it is for someone to take your ass against your will.’ I got away in a way I’m not proud of with what she and I used to call ‘love taps’. She screamed at me how she would never let a cheap Jew from a poor ass family join The Movement anyway and that I had a small dick and didn’t know how to use it and how she was going to crush and create a union to crush all other unions.”

Bro, what does that even mean?”

“Man, other than the killing you part, this chick is starting not to sound bad after all.”

“Tony, you’re my best friend, I love you like a brother, you’re going to be fine, we’re all going to be fine.”

“We’re not fine. None of us are fine. She is a pill crazed, toxic chemical laced blood hate filled abomination and she is coming here to kill us and anything that gets in her way. I’m hoping everyone is packing.”

They all nodded. Armand snickered.

“Remember when Nancy called me: ugly, fat, stupid and disgusting and I asked, “Yes Nancy, I am ugly, fat, possibly stupid and even disgusting but even so, shouldn’t I be allowed to have love and affection?”

I nodded with a sheepish smile at half of it being true.

“NO!” I mocked shrieked emulating my crack whore femme fatale set to do us all in.

We all shared a laugh and a few snorts until like a movie there was a crash, and glass breaking, a haunting silence followed by a shrill spiteful inquiry.

“WHERE IS HE?” She screamed, decked out in an American flag jump suit, sporting mom’s apple pie baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and an un-American katana blade in the other.

“I don’t care how many of you have to die, I am here to destroy this god damn Jew!”

The busboy tried to intervene, a young kid about sixteen threw his bus tub at her. Nancy sliced it half and smacked him against the side of his head with the bat.

“All lives matter! The Movement will keep moving!”

The climax of the third act of this carnage filled real life cartoonish murder film (I had always wanted to screen write, one of the many things I couldn’t afford to do) had arrived and what lesson we learned would depend on who lived after the credits rolled. The bus boy’s execution resulted in a flown blown counterattack. Strangers protecting a stranger they didn’t even know existed all to render another’s stranger’s life with meaning in the dispatching of a foul stranger’s presence. Silverware flew, followed by chairs, and furious bodies with pounding fists with even a few guns thrown in there. We pulled our own heat out and started blasting away to join the fray in the hopes of stopping her but Nancy her baby blues and curly red hair accentuated by her jumpsuit at her diminutive height gave her the statue of a hungry god in need of human sacrifices, trained a bit in martial arts, jumping, dodging she followed with a thrust of the sword into a vital organs, spinning like a tornado limbs flew in every direction, blood spraying likewise as the bat she held tore skin, crunched bone and brain damaged lives. What she couldn’t block or miss, lodged into her skin.

We caught each other’s glances.

My beautiful death-machine, a blood veil across her face.

Our bullets ran out, she kept going among the wreckage of bodies, gritting her teeth with an animalistic glare. We threw our guns at her. No words could be said.

“YOU ARE NOTHING, I COULD’VE HAVE GIVEN YOU LOVE!”

Armand threw himself in front of me as Tom dove under the table and Richie frozen in fear.

“Fuck love!” I pushed Armand out of the way ready to pay my dues, none of it mattered anymore and the good sure as hell didn’t outweigh the bad, I was ready to go and just give it all a rest.

“I never wanted love, I never wanted you.”

Nancy stopped, perplexed.

“I never met anyone that didn’t want love.”

“I never wanted it from anyone, and I never got it when I needed it. You were just supposed to be a one-night stand but I felt sorry for you when you asked to call you, I stayed with you because I was desperate for a place to live, I became your friend out of guilt but you got your share of misery out of me over the years, it’s over.”

“It’s done, when I say it’s done, you stupid, uneducated, gay, loser ignorant waste of man.”

“It’s over, bitch. Step off, or I’ll use it.”

Chris stood outside the bathroom aiming his bazooka at her. Nancy turned around with a grin.

“Aww, is the brain-damaged piece of shit going to use his big toy instead of his tiny penis to try and please me? Maybe you can join your dead mom and Tony’s dead mom in a sick three way in Hell like the faggot you are!”

“I’ll, do it.”

“DO IT!” Nancy threw her sword at Chris; the blade went through his shoulder as he pulled the trigger and what we thought was disabled was actually quite capable.

Nancy was gone. People were gone. Part of Flapjack Stacks was gone.

Chris was bewildered, looking between us and the bazooka on the floor.

“I was just trying to scare her. It wasn’t supposed to work. Honest, man…am I good guys?”

Armand put an arm around Chris and looked solemnly at me. Tom was curled into the fetal position weeping for Boris possibly mention something about love, but I didn’t want to notice nor care. Richie vomited, wiped himself with his napkin and calmly took the scene in.

“Bro, my dad can get one of a hell contract out of this.”

It was hot, I zipped open my black hoodie and was irradiated I still got coffee on my white t-shirt and sighed.

“I don’t think your dad’s going to be able to clean this up, Richie.”

 

Mike Zone is the author of  One Hell of a Muse, A Farewell to Big Ideas  and Void Beneath the Skin and coauthor of The Grind.  Editor in Chief at Rogue Wolf Press and a managing editor at Concrete Mist Press, a frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl . His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, , Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press,  Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, The Whiskey Rye Review and Cult Culture magazine.

 

 

 

Not Backing Down by Robert Ragan

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Not Backing Down

 

Jerry Riley truly lived the good life. So big in the dope game that he hadn’t laid eyes on the product in forever. He did all this while fronting as a businessman. 

Believe it or not, he was even a deacon at his local church. The man was so good at fooling people guess he thought he could fool God too. 

There were lots of men like J.R. out there counting blood money with clean hands while others were hunted down like animals for doing the same things on a smaller level. With his every move covered, J.R. had a lot of time and money to do whatever he wanted. The man would have been on a street corner betting on a dice game between hustlers. Instead, he traveled all over NC attending high school basketball games.

In 2017 and 2018, J.R. lost over seventy thousand on a couple of State Championship games. Was it Karma? Around that same time, his used car dealership was exposed for selling lemons. Plus the criminals he hired to work at his plumbing company were stupid and did a lot of half-ass work driving customers away.

Even the dope game was causing him to take losses. J.R. could have fixed that part. Instead, he was a coward, afraid to meet with the right people. Next thing you know the poor guy’s wife files for divorce citing infidelity.

Behind closed doors, he made jokes about paying someone a lot of money to make her death look like an accident. Everyone around him witnessed his mind unraveling.

The 2019 State Championship game was coming up and this season J.R. decided he’d take a more hands-on approach to win. Instead of betting on the two time defending champions, Western Harnett Eagles, J.R. decided to bet on the underdogs again, being his home team, the North Mecklenburg Vikings.

The Eagles won their first State Championship against the Vikings. J.R. lost fifty thousand on that game. 

The next year another team played Western Harnett in the Championship game. J.R, still holding a grudge, was quick to throw down twenty thousand against the Eagles and lost again. 

That year, with his Vikings getting a rematch, J.R. figured he’d leave Charlotte and visit Harnett County. The plan was to meet with a very athletic and talented young man from Shaw Town, NC. 

For Harris Woods to attend Western Harnett, his mother got up and drove him to school every day. She never thought much of Harris’ dreams of playing pro basketball. But damned if the boy wasn’t doing his thing so far. 

Two State Championships in a row, Harris was the second-best player as underclassman during the first title run. The following season, he won MVP of the tournament. 

Harris looked up to Kobe Bryant, mimicked his jump-shot plus had that natural Mamba mentality. 

More than his success on the court, his mother admired who he was as a person. She had another son who decided to live a fast life. Jamal was out there feeling out-shined by his more athletic little brother. He was always on some outlaw shit but never absent from his mother’s prayers. 

Harris never tried living that life. He was good-hearted and compassionate. Not once did he look down on his teammates. But he didn’t want the teachers fixing his grades so he could play basketball. No, he actually wanted to study and learn. Harris knew nothing was promised on the court, not with so many talented players to never see the spotlight.

Whatever happened, Harris would make it in life and never fall into the trap his brother fell into. He definitely never looked down on Jamal. Watching Lakers games with his bro is how he got interested in basketball in the first place. Needless to say, Jamal was never absent from his little brother’s prayers either.

With the 3rd State Championship game in a row coming up, Harris’s mind was on basketball a lot. It threw him off when one of his neighbors approached him asking if he’d gotten in any kind of trouble. Squinting his eyes, Harris asked, “Ole no, but why do you ask?”

The word was that a white man was at the store. A square who looked like the police asking everyone how to find Harris Woods.

Thinking it over, Harris said, “If it was the police they’d gladly come up in the school to get me, so I don’t think it’s them.” Joking around, he said, “Besides, I haven’t done anything wrong, unless they’re gonna charge me with larceny for all those steals I’ve been getting on the court this year.” Harris was humble, laughing, and tapping his neighbor on the shoulder.

Instead of meeting with Harris, that piece of shit J.R. found out where his mother worked. He approached her outside a factory during her break. Saying he was a major fan of her son and wanted to meet him. Straightening the tie he wore, J.R. said, “My name is Jerry Riley, by the way, and I didn’t want to bother Harris at school.

Confused, his mother asked, “Are you a college recruiter? Because you know my son’s only a junior right?”

Being totally honest for once in his life, he said, “Ma’am, I’m not a college recruiter. I’m just someone willing to give your family a lot of money if Harris throws the game coming up against the North Mecklenburg Vikings.”

Laughing out loud, Vivian Woods said, “First of all, I’m sure you’ll make more money on it than us. Second, I know my son and he would look at that like selling his soul. So, you just get outta here and place your bet on the Western Harnett Eagles, baby.”

J.R. said, “Mrs. Woods, I was trying to help you. My other ideas, well I don’t think you’ll like those very much.”

Vivian asked him, “Are you threatening me?”

With a shit-eating grin, J.R. said, “You can contact the authorities about this matter. But even behind bars I’ve got people paid off with full knowledge of your family’s whereabouts.”

Nobody was willing to kill an ant for Jerry Riley, but he put on a big act and actually managed to intimidate the woman. Yet, if they’d thrown hands, bet your money on Vivian because she would have whooped his skinny little twerp ass.

When Harris found out what happened he was devastated. Yet, glad to figure out what was up with the white guy looking for him. Faced with this crisis the first thing Harris did was contact Coach C.

Mitch Carson was deep and kind, he actually cared about his players. He was a  History teacher who idolized Coach K from Duke the same way Harris looked up to Kobe Bryant. 

Coach C claimed that meant being honorable both on and off the court. Always brutally honest, C admitted that his program was no longer honorable. Not with the guys playing because their grades were fixed. He reached out to each of them, explained to them how important it was to get their education. Coach C even offered to tutor them in his spare time.

When Harris called him about the threats against his family’s lives, he made sure to tell Coach C that going to the cops was out of the question. Immediately C put his player first, saying, “If we have to, we’ll just throw the game.”

That touched Harris’s heart, but really he was just calling the coach to talk with him about it. Tell him he’d already spoken with his teammates and that the Western Harnett Eagles weren’t throwing anything but sharp, crisp, on-point passes in the State Championship game. 

C asked if he was sure. Harris said, “Yes.”

Coach C said, “Alright, so let’s make this happen again.”

Despite them winning back to back championships, C made sure to keep them thinking they were the underdogs. The team to beat gets everyone’s best shot. So if they didn’t stay hungry, someone else would eat off the plate they wanted. 

The night before the game, Vivian had a talk with her son. She said, “We didn’t take the money so now they’re gonna have to kill us, right?” 

Grabbing Harris’s hands, she squeezed them tight and said, “Either way you’re gonna go out a champion baby.”

Letting his hands go, she was out of character going for a high five and saying, “Three-peat bitch!”

Harris said, “Momma, you crazy,” and gave her a huge hug.

The family tried to keep quiet about everything but it was impossible. And the day of the Championship game everyone could sense the black clouds hovering over that high school gymnasium despite the bright sun they saw.

The game took place in Raleigh, so neither team would have a home-court advantage. While warming up during shootarounds, Harris had his heart touched again when his big brother showed up out of no where with close to thirty Folk goons with him. Of course, security called the police, and half of them couldn’t get in. Jamal told them to leave peacefully.

The whole thing was his way of showing those fucking crackers what would happen if anyone harmed his mother or his little brother. He and his Folk superior all sat with his mother. It was the closest Vivian had ever been to a gang. 

She spotted J.R. when he walked in wearing his North Mecklenburg High t-shirt and hat with sunglasses. Vivian didn’t tell Jamal, knowing he was a live wire and might ruin the whole game. She was wrong because as long as everyone stayed in line, Jamal was only eager to see his little bro do his thing and get his third championship. True, he used to feel a little outshined but he was still proud, telling everyone his little brother was a star basketball player. 

Showing more trust in Harris, Vivian pointed out J.R. to him. 

Right before tip-off, a couple of Viking players tried to check Harris at half court. One of them pushed him and right away his teammates came to his aid.

When the ball went up in the air, Harris grabbed the tip-off.  Going straight to the rim, he rocked it with a thunderous reverse dunk then looked at the man sitting in the bleachers wearing sunglasses and flexed his muscles with both arms, just to let him know the Eagles weren’t backing down. 

Coach C normally would have yelled at him saying, “Don’t showboat!” But he knew the heart Harris brought to this game and couldn’t fault him. 

Harris played like a man possessed, stealing the ball, and blocking shots. He even stepped in and took charges.

Scoring wise, he was on fire, knocking down all four threes he took, plus three more dunks during fast breaks. 

At half time, Western was up by fifteen. Jerry Riley, dear old JR, removed his sunglasses. Staring across the court, he made eye contact with Vivian. He dragged his finger slowly across his throat, as a way of further intimidating her. Yet, he got up and walked out, knowing he’d blown another fifty thousand betting against Western and there really wasn’t a damn thing he could do about it. 

Harris started the second half picking up where he left off. Steals, dunks, and threes. Before you knew it, Western was up by 29 points. No backing down, no looking back, they built a 36 point lead before Coach C put in his second and third-string players. 

The first two championships were tight, nail biters. Going down to the wire. This time it felt good to pull a blowout.

Walking off the court when the game was over, Harris hugged his mother then Jamal. After that, he found Coach C and thanked him for offering to throw the game if they needed to.

C said, “This is just a game and I would have done the same thing for any of you.”

Harris grabbed Coach and gave him this huge almost bear hug and said, “I know you would.”

Once Harris let him go, he reminded C that they have to win this thing again, at least one more time in 2020.

They bump fists together and C said, “We’ll be ready when the time comes.”

Harris didn’t know tragedy was coming and that he’d be dedicating the next one to the memory of the Mamba, Kobe Bryant. R.I.P. 

 

Robert Ragan, from Lillington North Carolina, has had short fiction published online at Vext Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine, Yellow Mama Webzine, Synchronized Chaos, and Terror House Magazine. In January 2020, he had his second short story collection, It’s Only Art, published by Alien Buddha Press.

 

Gay For A Day by Judge Santiago Burdon

PhotoFunia-1591088957Gay For A Day

 

My son Dashiel invited me to the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco. He was participating in the Fandango as a person on one of the floats. I was thrilled he wanted  to share this event with his father, so I enthusiastically accepted his invitation. I flew into Oakland instead of the SFO in an attempt to avoid the throngs of people arriving for the celebration.

The City of Oakland has always fascinated me.  It was once the Headquarters for the Black Panthers , Jack London had lived here and wrote his stories. The most notable fact is that it is the home of my favorite NFL team the Oakland Raiders.

I made the decision to rent a car which seemed like a good idea at the time. It would later prove to be a poor choice being that San Francisco has a more than efficient mass transit system in place.

There was a promotion available by the rental agency for a budget priced Toyota Prius and I readily took them up on their offer.

The car was smaller than I’d had been accustomed to driving and other cars in traffic were so much larger causing some concern. I wasn’t sure if they could even notice me and as the message displayed in my sideview mirrors warned… objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

I made my way over the East Bay Bridge into San Francisco to meet my son at Washington Square. Amazingly I arrived at my location near the Cable Car Museum without an incident. A parking space opened up just as I  rounded the block and I parked the mini-mobile with ease into the space.

I walked across Stockton Street to  Park Tavern where I was to meet Dashiel. I was 15 minutes early for our agreed meet up time and wasn’t expecting him to be there since being punctual wasn’t one of his strong characteristics. I noticed him immediately looking so much like a man. We hadn’t seen one another in over ten years since my daughter’s funeral.

His signature Hollywood smile radiated throughout the tavern after he saw my reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

“Hey Santi you made it! I was worried you’d run into some type of problem as usual.” He said with a laugh.

” I’m happy to report that I didn’t encounter a single dilemma.”

He stood and gave me a hug that didn’t seem to last as long as I would have liked. I’m so in esteem of my son for the person he has become. My emotions are a mix of pride, joy and melancholy and they begin  to surface but I quash those feelings not wanting to sully our reunion. I ask if  he would like a late lunch before heading to his apartment in the Mission District. He accepts and we pour down a few brews with our Bar Burgers and  head out to the Micro-Mobile.

“We grab the bus on the other side of the park.” Dashiel instructs.

“Oh I rented a car! They had a screaming deal at the rental agency, I couldn’t pass it up.”

” Really? Ok,well you’re going to end up wasting more time searching for a parking spot than it would take to ride a bus.”

There it was! My son lecturing and advising me on my poor decision. I learned early in our relationship that we were much more than just father and son. Even at a young age he served as a teacher, a prophet of sorts enlightening me.. There is so much we can learn from our children. I respected his opinion and ideals and he accepted mine I think.

He often defended my acts of indiscretion that caused the

family,  relatives and acquaintances considerable agitation.

“It’s not all his fault. Life has always had it out for Santiago. He is at the mercy of fate’s left hand.”

No one ever questioned his logic.  He seemed to enjoy the part I played in his life. For Father’s Day one year,  I received a greeting card he created with a photo taken of me sitting down  between two scantily clad prostitutes at a bar I once owned. Their ass cheeks exposed  facing the bar with their backs to the camera,

me facing the camera with a pleased expression. The caption read; ” My father is not a role model. He is a cautionary tale. Happy Father’s Day Santiago.”

It is a gift I shall always cherish.

We reach the Tiny-Toyota and he erupts into a laughing jag pointing at the car in disbelief.

“What the fuck is this? This is what you rented a goddamn Prias? Never would have imagined you in a car like this.” He jokes  “Are you an Environmentalist now? This is definitely not you!”

I was a bit hurt by his sarcasm but understood the humor in his remark.

” Ya I know,  what  was I thinking?”

” You weren’t thinking. You were feeling. See, that’s the downside of emotion, it has no logic.”

“Hey Dash stop with the philosophy lesson. I’m having to deal with the consequence of my folly. I  know why my decision making has temporarily become unreliable.”

” Ya I know. I have heard your quote more times than I can remember.

“Most of my poor decisions were made when I was sober.,” It’s a great quote Santi and I’ve used it many times.  It always gets a great laugh and as you requested I always give you credit as the author. Let’s giddy up.”

We both squeezed into the Tonka “TOYota” pushing the seats to the farthest back position. He is six foot four or five inches tall and still unable to extend his legs. I entered the afternoon traffic with a questionable confidence in the abilities of other drivers. Then a SUV cuts me off just missing my driver’s side front fender while merging into my lane without a fucking signal.. I slam on the brakes pounding on the horn at the same time.

” Cocksucker.” I scream out the window.

“Ooo really, where is he?”

His comment causes me to laugh and at the same time it creates a disturbing vision in my mind.

” I think I threw up a little in my mouth from your comment Dash.”

He responds with a bout of hysterical laughter.

” You should know however the driver was a woman.”

He immediately stops laughing now with a disgusted expression.

” I think I threw up a little in my mouth. Thanks a lot.”

We’re both moved to tears from laughing.

” Dash I thought I’d get a Hotel room instead of staying at your place. That way you and your roommates won’t be uncomfortable or feel the need to alter their lifestyle.”

“Sure Santi if that’s what you want to do. Although my roommates are pretty low-key and know you’re cool. I’m the one who is famous for my acts of decadence. I inherited my depraved sometimes immoral behavior from none other than the master of epicurean conduct…my father.”

” Is that a compliment or are you using me as an excuse?  Let me fill you in…it’s a road riddled with potholes, unpaved sections with gravel, large rocks and boulders lining the way. I wouldn’t recommend anyone travel that particular stretch of highway.”

We reached the Renoir Hotel with moderately priced rooms and a time-worn charm located in the Tenderloin District near a unique Farmers Market. Dashiel headed home on the bus after I checked in. We agreed to have dinner together later and after visit some clubs to meet up with his friends.

I was excited to spend the night partying with my son and appreciated his willingness to introduce me to his friends. I quickly fell asleep tired from my journey, having three hours to recharge before hitting the San Francisco nightlife.

The phone startles me awake with a ring of astounding decibels of loudness. It’s Dash informing me he’s on his way and will arrive in twenty six to thirty four minutes. Strange reference to time. His way of wanting to be unique and eccentric which he is. The shower is delightful with a large shower head and great water pressure. I’m not able to enjoy the refreshing spray for long after hearing a knock on my door. I exit with a towel wrapped around my body dripping wet to answer.

” Is that you Dash? I just hung up with you.” I say while opening the door.

” Pardon me Mister Santiago I’m Frederick the concierge. Your son left a request at the front desk to wake you up personally. Is everything to your satisfaction?”

” Well Frederick I will not kill the messenger but I am a bit perturbed. I was in the shower.

I believe everything is to my liking. Thanks for asking.”

“Wonderful. If there is anything you need and I mean anything please don’t hesitate to ask. My name again is Frederick. Anything.”

He appeared to be a friendly sort of fellow, young and hopelessly hip, so against my better judgement which I seldom seem to use I decided to make a request.

“Anything you say!” He shakes his head yes.

” Can you find me an eight ball of Cocaine? No fucking trash! I’ll pay for quality. And deliver it here in half an hour?”

” Certainly, it’ll be my pleasure. You have cash?”

” Yes American dollars. So we’re on?”

“I’ll return in half an hour or sooner.”

I close the door shivering from the cool air, still wet from the shower. I’m not sure I demonstrated good judgement but I’ll  accept any  consequences that may result from my decision.

I’m clean shaven and dressed in a matter of five minutes. The view of the city is intoxicating, an abstract panorama of multicolored lights painting a masterpiece.

Still have a few minutes before Dash will be here, so I lie down on the bed and click on the Television. As soon as I get all cozy and comfortable there’s a knock at the door.

” Voy” I holler in a disgusted manner.

” It’s Frederick Mr. Santiago the concierge.”

” That certainly was quick. Are you liquid? Please come in ”

He smiles reassuringly while pulling the baggie from inside his vest.

” I’m sure you’ll be more than satisfied with the product. I got it from..”

I hold up my hand to stop him  from talking.

” I don’t need to know the details. It is not a good idea to relay sensitive information regarding the score. You don’t know who the fuck I am and the less I know the better. You understand what I’m saying? Uh see I forgot your name already.”

” My name is Frederick.”

” Okay nevermind.”

I inspect the package and it appears to be three and half grams almost all in one shiny rock. I dip my finger into the bag and place a taste on my tongue.

” I think We’re in good shape here guy. Good job. How much do I owe you?”

“Aren’t you going to do a line to test it?”

” I don’t think I need to at this time. I am going out for dinner and don’t want to ruin my appetite. You work here and I’m confident you wouldn’t rip me off. How much?”

” It’s one hundred and eighty. I know that’s a little pricey but I know you’ll be happy.”

I give the fellow two hundred and tell him to keep the change. After he leaves I repackage a fair amount to take with for the evening and hide the other away under a bureau drawer.

I kick back once again on the bed waiting for Dashiel. As my head hits the pillow there’s a knock at the door. I’m sure it’s my son this time and I open the door.

” Hey Dash,ready for dinner and a night on the town?”

” I’ve been looking forward to this for awhile. I was thinking we’d head over to Lolo’s for some Mexican. Does that sound good to you?”

” Excellent choice. Think we should take a Taxi. I’m not up for driving.”

We had the pleasure of a Japanese cabbie. He was a talkative gent from Japan having been in the United States for twenty five years.

I was surprised by his blatant prejudice of  the Chinese. He commented how pleased he was that we weren’t  going to Chinatown.

The Mission District is by far my favorite neighborhood in San Francisco.

Hispanic culture is alive and proudly displayed, along with a variety of Mexican Restaurants all with delicious cuisine. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Lolos as well as some engaging conversation pertaining to the days when we were a family. I was impressed by Dashiel’s memory of vacations and holidays spent with relatives. There is one event which occurred on vacation at SeaWorld in San Diego that is one of my favorite stories to relate concerning Dash. There is a large map of the United States painted on the concrete, each state marked with the name of the State Capitol. He was maybe five years old at the time and already quite intelligent. We all stood together on Arizona paying tribute to our home. Later in the day we lost Dasheil and notified Security immediately. We were desperately searching for our son when the location of where he might be came to me.

I quickly ran to the area with the large painted map, there was Dash waiting patiently to be found, standing on the State of Arizona.

We met up with some of Dashiel’s friends at The Stud one of San Francisco’s oldest gay bars. They were a diverse group of intelligent, amicable, humorous, talented and polite young adults. The future of the World would be left in good hands with these type of individuals. A method of determining a person’s character is knowing the company they keep. I was treated courtesly with a touch of teasing and taunting which I enjoyed. They seemed comfortable with my presence and it felt good to be accepted into the ranks. Although I was somewhat confused being referred to as a “Breeder” I never considered my heterosexual lifestyle as unordinary nor thought of a homosexual lifestyle being strange or unnatural. We are all residents of the same planet with different characteristics, beliefs and preferences living the same crazy life surviving adversity. There are enough negative vibes in the cosmos without adding hate for a sexual preference. I knew it was all in good fun and not intended to be hurtful. We all took turns singing karaoke. There were some excellent crooners in the crowd.

I wanted to catch a Drag Queen show but it was getting late and Dasheil had to be up early for the Parade. We’d have to catch the shows next night. I gifted the group with a generous amount of Cocaine we hadn’t consumed.

We return to the Hotel room and get tucked into our beds and after a few minutes I hear Dasheil start to giggle bursting into laughter.

“You okay over there Dash or having a humorous dream?”

“Sorry, I was remembering a time when we were on vacation heading to Wisconsin I  think. It was late at night, you were driving while we were asleep in the back. I remember McKenzie woke up and came up front with you. To keep her entertained you allowed her to play beautician and she placed a bunch of barretts, hair clips and ribbon with bows in your hair. You looked like a bad day at the beauty parlor but you told her she did a wonderful job. After an hour or so we made a pit stop at a Gas Station Restaurant. You exited forgetting about all the barretts and other things in your hair. Entering inside to pay for gas and a cup of coffee in the restaurant you returned to the van confused and embarrassed.”

” I remember the incident clearly.”

” Shauna, McKenzie and I watched through the window the reactions of people and you having no clue as to what it was they found so humorous.”

” After I looked in the rear view mirror I joined in the laughing. One of many times in my life I provided laughs for others at my expense. The memory was worth it though.”

” I love you Dad.” He whispered.

” You love who? You said Dad.”

” I know. Just thought you should know I think of you as my father although I always call you by your name.”

” That’s a good thing to know. I love you Dasheil. Good night son.”

Off to Dreamland we both traveled.

The phone rang with the sound of a Fire Alarm. A clanging instead of actual ringing. Of course Dashiel stayed sleeping undisturbed by the call. How is that some people can sleep through a damn hurricane or screaming sirens?  Myself, a light sleeper and one that always has trouble falling asleep. I’ve seen people sleeping upright in bus seats or on benches, concrete floors and in places filled with hundreds of different noises around them. I envy their ability to sleep under adverse conditions

I order room service for some coffee, English muffins with jam and orange juice. Actually I had an appetite for poached eggs but Dasheil has a strong dislike for them and gets sick to his stomach at the sight of them.

We wolf down the meager breakfast I showered first and was dressed in Superman changing time. Dashiel however took close to half an hour to make himself presentable for the Parade. He came out of the bathroom dressed in regalia fitted for a Drag Queen performance. The red boa accenting the colorful costume.

” You look incredible Dash. How’d you fit all those clothes in your small bag? I’m totally blown away by your costume.”

” Thanks. I was hoping you wouldn’t be critical of my dressing up like this.’  He looked at me with a disappointed expression. Causing me to answer with a defensive “What?”

” Is that what you’re wearing to the parade?’

” Yes. What are you saying?”

I was dressed as I normally do. I’m no fashion icon and I’m not trying to make a statement about who I am.

” You’re going to stick out like a bad penny in a pile of quarters. Hawaiian shirts are passe. The 60’s are long gone, dead. Sandals are an ancient statement of a Doc Martin mentality.”

” This is all I brought with me. What do you want me to do?”

” Wait let me get my makeup bag.”

Now there’s an expression I can bet most of  you would never expect to hear your son say. Understand how perfectly bizarre my life is. I am one lucky man to be part of this kind of experience. How fortunate I am to have my son’s confidence allowing me to participate in his lifestyle.

First he ties my shirt at the bottom exposing my stomach. Then he takes mascara and applies a generous amount on my eyelashes making them appear longer. Next some black eye shadow with a small amount of blush to my cheeks and finishing with a blue lip gloss. He hands me some long dangling  earrings  to replace the ones I have in my pierced ears.

“There ya go. Now you look presentable. And if anyone asks just say you’re a Chicken Hawk. They’ll get it.”

” Shouldn’t I have some wings to be a Chickenhawk?”

” Forget it. It’s not important.”

We grab a taxi and head to the Parade route. He has the Cab drop me off at a place along the parade route. Dash heads to the staging area where the parade floats start there run.  We had set a meeting place earlier for after the event.

There was an enormous crowd of spectators assembled on the streets. Together they created a kaleidoscope spectacle all in colorful costume.

The procession passed by with floats, supporting gay rights, lesbians, dykes, transvestites and transgendered. Everyone I encountered was friendly and in a gay mood. Someone handed me a large rainbow flag and instructed me to wave it enthusiastically as the media was on the scene. I was having a wonderful time and happy to be part of the celebration. Then I heard the music of one of Dashiel’s favorite songs. This had to be his float next to pass by.

“It’s raining men hallelujah. It’s raining men. Amen. Gonna run outside and get soaking wet. It’s raining men.”

There he was on top of an enormous float with the song blaring. They were all dancing and a few lip syncing the song.

The theme of the float confused me. There was a large fist displaying  the middle extended upright.  Only three words in large letters painted on each side and across the front and back “FUCK YOU DAD”  Dashiel noticed me in the crowd and pointed to me laughing while dancing on the float. He blew me a kiss and waved. I then understood the gist of intention was not a statement of our relationship but a declaration of what it didn’t represent. I began laughing as well with him applauding as he rolled by. What a great way for all those persecuted by their own father because of a trait determined by birth not by choice to express their feelings. I was filled with pride and elation. Our relationship was never poisoned because of his sexuality. To be truthful I believe I knew when he was at an early age that he was blessed. It never bothered me in the least. There was no long drawn out decision to ponder.

I began euthusiastiicly waving my gay pride flag. After a short while I began to sweat profusely from the exercise. A spectator standing next to me commented on my eyeshadow and mascara  running, giving me the appearance of a raccoon she said. I looked at my reflection in a store front window and she was correct. My makeup had run over my face and eyes now looking like I had lost a fight leaving me with black eyes. I looked ridiculous but had nothing to clean off the makeup.

So I returned to the formation of spectators and resumed waving my flag.

A woman reporter stepped in front of me with a cameraman behind her and asked if she could do a quick interview. I answered yes but had forgotten about  my appearance.

” Why aren’t you dressed as anything for the parade to express your gay pride?” she asked.

” I am.  I’m a Chicken Hawk.” I blurted loudly. ” It’s hard to tell without wings.”

Can you imagine how embarrassing it was being interviewed at the Gay Pride Celebration broadcast  on National television … looking as I did, with makeup running all over my face. I found out later a Chickenhawk in gay slang is defined as an older homosexual man that preys on young gay boys.

This event I will fondly remember, when I was…

Gay for a day”.

Cut From A Different Cloth by Robert Ragan

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Cut From A Different Cloth

An alarm clock goes off. Outside, what little dark there is left waits for the sun to show up. Fuck my life, having to get up and go to work.

It would be okay, but I always do something wrong giving the people I work with a reason to bitch and talk shit.  Most days it’s unbearable, I want to tell them all to fuck off and walk all the way home.

Can’t do it, what’s my pride, health, and peace of mind when I have bills to pay. Without going through all this hell, I’ll lose everything I’ve got, which isn’t a whole hell of a lot. But every bit of it I worked for.

It all came honestly. I feel like I may have been switched at birth. First of all, my momma never done no harm to anyone. It would have taken too much of her energy, maybe even forced her off the couch.

Momma had no ambition, no goals in life. All she had to look forward to was whatever was coming on TV. Her bed was lonely, she was never unfaithful to my father. Not even when he stayed gone; off somewhere getting in trouble and not when he was locked up facing the consequences for his actions. Let’s just say my older brother, Sean, kept her busy trying to keep him out of trouble.

People always said that I was the quiet, more mature one. I’d make straight A’s at school but have my accomplishments over-shadowed by him busting a kid’s eye socket on the school bus.

He tried to get me to smoke marijuana and do speed. But I left all the mind-altering drugs to him. Growing up I was always the pussy little sissy boy.

Other kids saw my older brother picking on me. It became open season. I got my ass kicked by a gang of bullies. Sean stood there and watched. Never lifting a hand.

He only said, “Brad, you better punch that little prick in the mouth.”

After it was over, on the walk home from school, he made fun of my black eye and busted lip.

“Dad would be so proud of you,” he  said before laughing.

“Oh, I’m sure he would have been proud of you for just standing there watching,” I said.

Sean stopped beside the road, with both clean hands against my chest, he pushed me down in a ditch bank filled with over-grown weeds.

Looking down on me, he said, “I fight my own battles buddy boy, you fight yours.”

When we got older, I got a job and he went to jail. Apparently, Sean was pissed off over a woman and decided to break some guys ribs with a baseball bat. Needless to say, I didn’t see my brother for a few years.

Mom did one time, but just like dad he told her not to come back. Said he didn’t want her to see him that way. Too bad he wasn’t out when dad came home.

I was working and paying all the bills for mom. But the old man was more proud of his oldest son doing time for roughing someone up. I told my mother if she needed anything to call me. I left her there with the madman she married.

It didn’t take long, and my father tried to steal another car. This time he raised the stakes toting a little 38 with ragged tape on the handle. Daddy done lost his mind! Pulling over and shooting at the law. Luckily, they didn’t kill him. But this time he was going up the river forever.

While all this goes on, I’m getting up early everyday going to a job I hate. Sometimes I think…man my father wouldn’t put up with this shit. He’d see his wife and kids starving and sleeping on the streets before he’d get out of bed early and hear a bunch of bullshit at a job.

My brother wouldn’t either. That lazy fuck wouldn’t work at a pie factory tasting pies for a living. His crimes and failures have always up-staged my success and trying to be a decent person. At least I can say I got him one time.

Sean ran up a huge debt fronting ice for himself and his little lowlife buddies. When drug dealers were threatening to kill him, all his buddies disappeared. With no where on earth to turn, he called and asked for my help.

I said, “I fight my own battles buddy boy, you fight yours.”

Fuck fighting, I’ve got to go to work like a responsible adult. Still, I don’t want to see my brother get horribly beaten or shot. So, I told one of my cop friends what was going on. Asked him to look out for Sean.

This cop and I were good friends back in high school. Pulling no punches, he says, “I’ll do what I can but if someone’s after Sean then you know he’s probably got it coming.”

I tried to tell Sean to get a job and live like a normal human being. But  deep down I guess he just always wanted to be like our father.

Doing stupid shit and being locked in a cage just never appealed to me. Work doesn’t appeal to me either, but I’ve got to get up and go whether I like it or not, because the bills keep coming.

Fuck my life!

Murder in My High School by K. A. Laity

in cold blod

This is not going to be a lurid tale; more of a puzzled one. A colleague share a link this morning about the need to compensate formerly incarcerated people for telling their stories—particularly for those events seeking to redress the criminal (literally) imbalances in the justice system. It got me thinking about a weird thing from my own past.

My high school, like many American schools of its time, would have ‘assemblies’ from time to time of varying sizes (don’t get your hopes up, Austen fans—not that kind of assembly). The whole school would get together in the gymnasium, but there was a block of classrooms that were separated by moveable accordion panels to bring six or eight classrooms into one big one.

Sometimes they did it for films: one time Fail Safe, the 1964 Sydney Lumet cautionary nuclear war film (that’s kind of a po-faced remake of Dr Strangelove) –why? Who knows? Cold War romanticism from some faculty member? More striking in my memory is when they showed us In Cold Blood, which gave me a whole new fanaticism for Capote’s novel and true crime. I remember the gym teacher who taught ‘history’—for whom I used to grade quizzes because you know child labour laws were lax and I was bored with the quizzes themselves—making fun of the actress screaming before her character was murdered. ‘Isn’t that the worst scream ever?’ he said laughing, then turning the sound back up.

All the misogyny I remember well, too.

Films were always a welcome relief from the day-to-day grind of classes, especially in that term where I was stuck in a class with a teacher who had given up on everything. But I remember the weird day that they brought in a murderer to talk to us. Once more all the walls folded back. We turned our desks around to face a different front. And a quiet unassuming old man told us that he committed murder in the heat of a moment of anger as a young man and spent a lot of years regretting it.

I suppose, in my school where they were churning out better autoworkers for tomorrow, it was a warning: Think before you knife someone. Perhaps it was just another indication of how little they expected of us: try not to murder someone. I remember his regret, his quietness. I remember more the students’ heady combination of fear, fascination, and a kind of intoxication as the two mixed.

I remember the disappointment many had that he was not some slavering beast held by chains but a tired older man who spoke softly to us about lost time. I suppose things that might have been on adults’ minds at the time included the recent memory of ‘Michigan’s Ted Bundy’ but I don’t recall thinking about that at the time. The invulnerability of youth. I remember his sadness. I remember thinking about all he might have done instead.

The Song of Spring by Sebnem E. Sanders

The Song of Spring

 

Belma

Belma watched over the crowd gathering in the courtyard of the mosque. On the altar, stood a coffin. Draped over its raised head, a muslin scarf with a crocheted edge, and a small wreath of white and purple freesias placed upon it. Her favourite flowers. The men were lined up before the altar and the women, their heads covered, assembled on both sides. Belma scanned their faces. They all had tears in their eyes. She recognized most of them. Friends, relatives, colleagues. Someone must have died, a woman. She saw her mother, her best mate, and her cousins. Her eyes searched the congregation. Where’s Aila? She jabbed a finger at her mother’s shoulder and whispered in her ear.

The sweet aroma of the freesias reminded her of the Song of Spring she used to sing to Aila when she was a little girl, and how Aila accompanied her, trying to remember the words. That song was theirs, mother and daughter, the lyrics etched in their hearts. It gave them comfort in moments of pain and sorrow.

Belma hummed the melody as the imam began his prayers. She raised her voice and sang in a high soprano tone. She could hear the orchestra playing in the background, as the images in the courtyard blurred.  Little Aila’s voice joined her in the chorus, transporting her to another place, one of tranquillity and lightness, away from the chaos.

 

Aila

Aila gazed through the small opening and glimpsed the night sky beyond the bars. A crescent moon complemented by bright stars illuminated the darkness. A beam of light filtered into her chamber, landing on the single bed. She watched it linger on the white sheets as the wind howled, swaying the branches of the barren tree outside the window. Shadows of monsters played tricks on the walls. She sat on the cold floor, her back against the wall, eyes glued to the gap that gave her access to the world outside. Aila sought comfort from the faint light seeping into the pitch darkness of her surroundings, and rocked, playing the scene over and over again, in her mind.

The wind stopped. Silent, powdery white specks dotted the patch of sky behind the bars. Gradually, the snow muffling the sounds coming from the other cells, decorated the branches of the tree. She imagined a white blanket covering the dismal surroundings with its magic, making everything clean, pure and innocent.

Aila remembered playing in the snow with her mother in the garden of their suburban two-storey house. They gathered the snow, shaping it into balls, and rolled them across the lawn, buried under the deep, crunchy whiteness to make a snowman. A carrot, a scarf, a hat, and pebbles for the eyes. Recalling the Song of Spring they sang, she began to hum it, her mother’s smiling face completing the picture.

The scene rewound in her mind and she wept.

“Mum, I need cash.”

“Why do you need cash, sweetie? You have your credit cards.”

“They don’t take credit cards everywhere. I need cash.”

“Let me see how much I have. Will a hundred do?”

“I need a thousand.”

“Aila, you know I don’t carry that much. Tell me truth. Why do you need so much?”

“I owe money.”

“What for? You haven’t, not again?”

“Just shut up and give me the cash or something valuable I can trade.”

“Why, Aila, why? You know how long it took for the treatment. You were dying of hypothermia and ended up with pneumonia. Remember the days in the hospital and the trip back home? I’m so glad to have you here. You went to rehab willingly and suffered through hell trying to deal with the addiction. Why, sweetheart, why?” her mother asked with tears in her eyes.

“Don’t call me, sweetheart, you stupid bitch! Your world is fake, perfected with your silly dreams and illusions. You think you can make everything right with your Pollyanna approach. You dream of happiness, but you’re not happy either. You stink of self-delusion and lies.”

“Not again, please, Aila. I can’t deal with this anymore.” Belma threw herself onto the settee, covered her face with her hands and sobbed, her shoulders shaking.

“Give me the money. I’ll go and never come back.”

“I can’t. I won’t. I cannot help you kill yourself.”

“I need a fix. You will or I’ll kill you.”

“Do it then, Aila. Do it, and end my pain. I can’t take anymore. I’m done.”

Something flipped in Aila’s mind. She leapt towards her mother and struck her in the face. Blood trickled from Belma’s nose and her broken lip, mixing with the tears running down her neck. She screamed and howled, trying to fight back. Aila picked up a cushion and pressed it over her mother’s face, with all her might. Belma resisted, her arms flying through the air in helpless struggle, her voice now muffled under the weight on her face. Aila pushed, harder and harder, until Belma’s limbs stopped moving and her legs dangled limp from the side of the couch.

Time stopped. She didn’t know how long she pushed until her arms gave in and she lifted the cushion. Belma lay lifeless on the settee. Beneath the blood and muck staining her fine features, an eerie purple whiteness began to spread, her sightless eyes staring at Aila.

Aila held her hand. “I’m so sorry, Mum. Please wake up.” She shook Belma in vain. Nothing changed. She kissed her face. “Forgive me. Please, please, forgive me. Oh, God, what have I done?”

She sat by her mother and shivered, her shoulders rocking with tremors, teeth chattering. She wailed and hugged her mother, burying her head in her bosom.

The Song of Spring flashed in her mind. She rose in a trance, picked up the phone, and called the police.

“I … I killed my mother.”

 

 

First publisted at Twisted Sister Lit Mag, then in my anthology, Ripples on Pond, this story is inspired by true events. All details are imaginary.

 

Short Bio

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the Southern Aegean where she dreams and writes Flash Fiction as well as longer works. Her stories have appeared in various online literary magazines: the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Spelk Fiction, The Bosphorus Review of Books, Three Drops from the Cauldron, The Rye Whiskey Review, CarpeArte Journal, Yellow Mama Webzine, Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive, The Cabinet of Heed, as well as two anthologies: Paws and Claws and One Million Project, Thriller Anthology. Her collection of short and flash fiction stories, Ripples on the Pond, was published in December 2017. More information can be found at her website where she publishes some of her work:

https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

Ripples on the Pond

 

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17427985.Sebnem_E_Sanders

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https://Twitter.com/sebnemsanders

https://Instagram.com/sebnemsanders

Harsh Rain Falls On Holy Stones by Mark McConville

Harsh Rain Falls On Holy Stones.

She pulls the cover over her eyes and embraces the darkness. From now on, she’d like to conceal her face and body. Over these past few years, love has been strained, life has been a mammoth task. Smoking cigarettes and drinking cheap vodka delivers the only real pleasure, speaking to anyone other than the cat takes courage. All over this wooden floor lies empty bottles and written letters to someone she wholeheartedly adored. His name is secretive, a code. In full bloom, he was a handsome eccentric, a poet, a charismatic believer in hope. His dazzling features kept her glued to him, but it wasn’t only that, his intelligence intensified the relationship.

These days building social empires isn’t on the agenda. Crossing off days on a calendar keeps her heart fulfilled. Maybe one day she’ll venture beyond the walls to seek aid, and trap those demons in a web of fire in her sophisticated mind. Trapping those voices which tell her she isn’t worthy, would take a pill or two and determination. Hardship exists and while she drinks the last of the vodka under the cover, she unwraps herself.

The girl playing with her own sense of self pulls down the cover and watches the cat drink from the tap. By looking on, as the tap drips, her standards have slipped. Neglecting a cat is one thing, but neglecting herself is dangerous. Not eating, not dreaming must take its toll, and it has. Grubby hands, dirty nails, unkempt hair, all on show.

Since his departure, moments of solitude have overshadowed glimmers of hope and clear-cut clarity. Love must answer the questions? But it can’t, it doesn’t have a beating heart, a skull, a brain, a tongue, or a mind. It is what it is, a showing of joy and connection. Disconnection overwhelms her life. Discontent also digs deep into the equation.

She rubs dead skin from her face. She has to leave the isolation. Today is a big day. A day of peace, a solemn day. For her, it will be a struggle. An endless exertion of her social capacity. Firstly, her reclusive nature hinders everything. Hopelessness may derail all moments of normality.

Makeup does the trick. All greyness has been dissipated and covered. Exuberant she is not, but the mirror, if alive, would not recognize her. Pulling over a white shirt onto a skeletal structure almost feels like a waste. She is wasting away, slipping away, peeling away. Underweight and fading, but reluctant to die yet. Before all that, there’s a place to be.

Dressed in black. Lipstick ready. The girl takes a deep breath. Ankles twitching, hands sweaty, equipped with a speech for the ages. Only one thing is missing, the man of her dreams. In hindsight, he probably wouldn’t want to see her like this. Broken and malnourished, enraged by the world and its feeble defenses.

A black car arrives outside her one-bedroom house. The driver opens the door. The seats offer comfortability and the car offers a shield, a sheet of armor. Vodka drunk, hiding it will take imagination and restraint. It could go two ways, a drunken daze could take hold, or revelations could spark unrest?

The driver speaks about the weather. It’s cold outside, people shiver and splutter. It’s been colder this year than before. The girl is still under the influence, looking at shiny buttons on her blouse, seeing floaters in her eyes. She’s tired and aching for another drop of alcohol to infuse her body, but a liver can take only so much. She feels stranded in this life. No one visits. On her way to the place of reckoning, fake people will scatter, they’ll say sorry, but then they’ll disband. Family values are sacred to some.

The car stops outside the church. Miserable weather impedes. A hopeless feeling churns her stomach. Harsh rain falls on holy stones. She retreats from the car. No umbrella to cover her long, frayed hair. Still drunk and angry at the world, she turns and stares at the flock of people walking into the church. A cigarette sounds about right, but she can’t mar fresh air.

There’s no strategic plan to how this will unfold. The inner sanctum will be teeming. Her nerves at breaking point, her heart pumping at a dangerous tempo. Time is precious. Inside this room, people read eulogies of how they knew and loved the deceased. Her speech could be misconstrued, subjected to ridicule, deemed unworthy.

The doors open and she walks into a cathedral populated by a sea of black. They’re all singing a verse. She feels like a sardine, a small object in a box of hammers. Fabricated under stress, demented, and monitored. Under scrutiny, she sings also, trapped in this room. After voices dissipate. The young girl who is damaged, disturbed, and misunderstood, stands at the front of the sea of black. Her freckled face on show. Her vulnerability on edge. Eyes fixated, in the line of sight.

‘‘In time I will meet you again. Through the light I will go. Up there, angels surge through the sky, and I hope they’ll pick me. You were my warrior, a pillar of strength. I’m lost in a whirlpool of alcohol and despair. Forgotten by people who once tended to my grazes. I am tainted, dripping in rain and poison. I wish you could aid me in my pursuit in trying to rebuild my life, but impossibility strangles all hope. To you I praise, to you I send love,’’

If the ground could swallow, she would ask it to devour every piece of her. Through the middle she walks with her head down. Sparks fly in her head, memories of a joyous past swirl through the raging blaze. She isn’t settled, the cloud is still swollen, but a sense of calm has momentarily been instilled.

       

Longcroft on Lockdown by Darren Sant

TFTL

Longcroft on Lockdown

 

The Longcroft Housing Estate, Yorkshire,  England.

These were scary times. A global pandemic has changed the world as we know it albeit temporarily. As the world held its collective breath unprecedented events were unfolding on the Longcroft estate.

  1. Briefing.

North Longcroft Estate – Police Control Room

An assortment of coppers of varying ages, ranks and sexes shuffled restlessly on their seats waiting for the Sarge to get his papers in order and begin the late shift briefing. All were sat the government dictated two metres apart. This, of course, led to the usual childish behaviour you’d expect from any group under stress. Giggling and the throwing of notes to one another. The Sarge conscious of the restlessness of his captive audience launched into his briefing.

“Thanks for your attention ladies and gentlemen.” he coughed, then laughed.

“It’s alright I haven’t got this fucking virus. Damn tree pollen is playing havoc with my tubes.”

There was a half-hearted laugh. The Sarge was to comedy what Piers Morgan was to diplomacy.

Sensing he hadn’t engaged his troops he ploughed on regardless.

“Okay, there’s something big going down on the estate. It’s been quiet generally until now. All of the usual scrotes are playing nice on lock down or breaking into garages, cars and sheds. But they’re scared of the virus same as the rest of us so the low level scum bags are not currently a worry. Oh, and if any of them say they’ve got the virus and threaten to spit on you then you have my personal permission to ram your baton up their arse.”

This time there were genuine laughs. Nothing united a force more than twatting the enemy.

“An informant has let us know that all the top level scum bags in the area are meeting up. They’re planning something and it’s BIG. We have no idea where the meeting is or what the hell they are discussing but keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t take any unnecessary risks but find out what you can.”

He was losing them, they were muttering and speculating amongst themselves. Time to conclude.

“Okay, stay safe out there and go get ’em. Dismissed.”

  1. The Shed

“Oi! Soft lad, get your fucking arse over here!” yelled Davey in a loud whisper.

Rich looked up from the patio door handle he was yanking on.

“This shed is unlocked” stage whispered Davey.

Rich gave up, low crouched then ran over to Davey at the shed. He cursed as he caught his leg on a terracotta potted plant. Hopping for a moment on one foot.

“Ouch, fuck!”

“Quiet you twat. You’ll wake people up.”

Rich winced in pain, “Sorry! It’s so dark” he whispered.

“People tend to see if you try robbing them in the daytime you muppet.”

They were in the garden of a house on the very edge of the estate, where the houses were bigger, and it was just that little bit more affluent. Richer pickings in other words.

“This door is unlocked, let’s see what’s in here.” said Davey.

They crept carefully over the threshold, neither of them could see a thing. Davey reached into his pocket and took out his LED torch.

“Pull the door closed, just in case the light carries.” Said Davey

Rich did as he was asked and with a creak the little remaining light from outside was slowly extinguished. It was pitch black.

Davey clicked on his torch and swept it across the shed. He quickly clicked it off again.

“What the…” he said.

“Did I just…” said Rich.

Davey clicked on his torch again to see if what he’d seen was still there. This time he did a slow sweep. Rows and rows of shelves of creepy china dolls stared at them. They were exquisitely painted with rosy cheeks but their eyes were dark pools of evilness and they stared down at them with malevolence unknown to man.

However, the back wall of the shed is what made them both gasp in fear. A long row of brutal looking dildos. In order of size. Some with spikes. Some wrapped in barbed wire. Some as large as golf clubs.

“Oh-my-fucking-God” was Rich’s eloquent response.

“Dude, I don’t think god has anything to do with the contents of this shed, look.” replied Davey.

He swept the torch over a corner and saw several secure hooks containing sturdy looking studded bondage gear and several leather gimp masks.

There was a loud bang from the nearby house. They looked at each other and ran for their

lives.

  1. The Meeting

Somewhere on the east side of the Longcroft Estate in a small closed down community centre and tonight there was a flurry of nervous activity.  The estate is roughly split up into several powerful gangs, centres of power. All of whom would be present at this most unusual meeting.

The first to enter was the dreadlocked figure of Drexel. Originally from West Indian but his parents had moved to the estate when he was just two years old. Drexel was six foot three of pure muscle and aggression. His dreadlocks cultivated over years hung three quarters of the way down his back. His well muscled arms bulged free in his bodybuilders vest top. Drexel was your man for drugs on the estate. If you needed a high you came to one of his network of dealers. Going anywhere else for your high on the estate was worse for health than the drugs themselves. Drexel took his seat at the table on a tiny plastic chair designed only for an old ladies bottom.

Next to enter was Chuck “Knuckles” Van Cleef. He was the Longcroft’s gangster. Protection rackets, girls, clubs they were his thing. No one knew how he’d gotten his peculiarly American name but every one was sure they didn’t want to be on the other end of his knuckles.  He stood at just under five foot six but was almost as wide as he was tall. His hands were like hams, huge and menacing and his knuckles stood out even amongst the meaty flesh of his hands. Hence his nickname.

There was only one Biker gang on the estate that for reasons known only to themselves were called The Found.  Their fifteen members all wore a uniform of denim jackets and green bandanas with The Found in fancy scroll on the back. Since they were almost all male they cultivated ZZ Top style beards, with varying degrees of success.  Except Rosy their only female member, but you’d have to look twice to establish that. They were not a criminal gang per se but if you crossed one of them vengence was sure to be swift and merciless. Their leader Ted O’Malley was a skinny guy but if you crossed him you’d see just what a skinny elbow could do to your face.

All of these leaders were sat glaring at each other, trash talking and nervously waiting for the real power in the estate to arrive. Outside their various hard men were all in separate groups waiting for it to kick off so they could have a good scrap.

Finally, ten minutes later than the agreed meeting time the door creaked open and the ominous shuffle and tap tap of several canes and zimmer frames were heard.  The most powerful group on the estate had arrived. The Longcroft East Bingo Club. There was a scrape of chairs as all of the estates hardest men rushed to stand and show their respect. These ladies controlled the estate by fear and information. If you crossed them they didn’t forgive and they didn’t forget.  They had access to a source of information and gossip more powerful than any internet server. The weekly bingo meetings.

If you dared to cross them the information was shared among the network. Your card (like a bingo card) was marked for good. The first time you slipped up they’d have you. Any one of dozens of pairs of curtain twitching eyes was watching your every move. A phone call would be made. It could be the taxman. It could the DWP. It could be a rival drug dealer. Underestimate them at your peril.

Vera, their natural leader and most vicious with an elbow, quickest with a dabber and most merciless with a cutting remark was the first to speak.

“Good evening gentleman.”

She made no apology for being late and settled heavily down on the seat at the head of the table. She was flanked by her two closest cronies, mad Margo and dotty Dotty.

“Before we begin,” said Margo, “I’d just like to inform Mr O’Malley that one of his bikers nearly ran over my nephew last week.  Sort it out quickly or we’ll be forced to give Mr Van Cleef the photographs of one of your lads and his wife.”

Chuck leapt to his feet in anger and glared at O’Malley who looked bewildered and terrified all at the same time. Before things could get out of hand. Vera shook her grey haired head.

“Not now gentlemen. We have business to deal with.”

And with her true demonstration of power over they began their meeting.

So it was decided with some raising of voices, threats, anger and some chess grandmaster moves by Vera that the meanest, toughest, nastiest tribes on the Longcroft Estate would use their networks to ensure that no one went too hungry, everyone had toilet rolls and that everyone would get their medication. They would look after the vulnerable and the needy until lock down was over. They would help each other in a way they never had before for the mutual good and no knee caps needed to be broken for a while.

The moment it was lifted…the gloves would be off and it’d be back to settling old scores and making money. For now peace and co-operation would be the order of the day, signed and sealed by Vera.

Epilogue

The Sarge kicked off his boots and went into the living room to kiss his wife.

“Hi love. How was your day?” She enquired.

“Not too bad. There is something big going down but the streets are quiet for now. It’s eerie really.”

“How are your officers coping?”

“They’re as clueless as ever.” He chuckled.

“Oh well, at least they have you to guide them.”

He smiled at her lovingly and patted the little pug that was sat on her lap.

“They do indeed. Listen it’s been a long day. I need to unwind. I’m going to spend some time in the shed.”

She smiled and nodded, “You do that I’ll catch up with the soaps. You’ll have to show me what you do in that shed one of these days you’re so secretive.”

He smiled, “Oh I will. Don’t worry about that.”

 

Darren Sant was born in 1970 and raised in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire which is in the United Kingdom. He moved to Hull in East Yorkshire in 2001.

Darren’s stories have appeared in various online publications such as The Flash Fiction Offensive, Pulp Metal, Thrillers Killers N Chillers, The Killing Pandemic, Flash Jab Fiction and Shotgun Honey. 

Darren’s creation The Longcroft Estate is the setting for a number of his stories. A collection of the first three of these tales is was published by Close To The Bone in February 2012.