Table of Contents

Summer 2008

From The Editor

Letter from Sandra Ruttan

Short Stories

Amra Pajalic

The Game

The Old Man

The Vow

The Other Shoe

Patrick Shawn Bagley

Bank Job

John McFetridge

Overtime

Russel D. McLean

Her Cheating Heart

Steve Mosby

Fruits

Grant McKenzie

Out Of Order

Patricia Abbott

Pox

Leaving

Damien Seaman

Love In Vain

Ugly Duckling

Steve Allan

Hump The Stump

Stumpy's Revenge

You and Me and Stumpy Makes Three

Stephen D. Rogers

Head Shot

Richard Cooper

Simmer Time

Sandra Seamans

Predatory

Allan Guthrie

Freckles

Brian Lindenmuth

Gun

Tony Black

London Calling

Brian McGilloway

Spoonfull of Sugar

Interview

Damien Seaman with Tony Black

Reviews by:

Sandra Ruttan

Savage Night

The Cold Spot

Brian Lindenmuth

Kockroach

The Crimes of Dr. Watson

Half the Blood of Brooklyn

Crimson Orgy

Mad Dogs

The Resurrectionist

Sharp Teeth

Lawrence

Black Man

Tricia

Hip Flask: Concrete Jungle

Chadwick

At the City's Edge

Amber

Small Favor

Madhouse

Book Excerpts

Toros & Torsos
by Craig McDonald

Paying For It
by Tony Black

Dirty Sweeet
by John McFetridge

Feature

The Graveyard Shift: blog by Lee Ofland

Out Of Order by Grant McKenzie

The young boy glanced at the occupied urinal beside him, his timid gaze lowering to the thick penis cradled like a weapon in the man’s hand.

It was an ugly thing: gray fleshed and purple-veined. Its slit bulbous tip, straining against a tight collar of circumcised flesh, bore two tiny scars, each the shape and size of a child’s tooth.

The man wore a brown herringbone suit, tired from too much wear: pants beginning to shine; two jacket buttons reattached with thread that didn’t quite match. When the man smiled, it was tired, too. The lasered white shine needed an overdue touchup, a scaly film of plaque finding little impediment to its advance.
The man shook his penis to release the last few drops of colorless urine. Instead of tucking it away, he held it on display — unabashed. The fingers of his free hand began stroking it gently as though it was a dear and fragile pet.

“You like?”

The man’s eyes nervously scanned the public toilet to make sure no one had entered behind him and the pretty, dark-haired boy. His words were slightly slurred and his breath gave off the olive-tinged fragrance of bar-brand vodka.

“You pay?”

The boy’s voice was so delicate the scurry of a passing roach could have set it adrift.

Even after allowing the words to escape his cupid-bow lips, the boy kept his face lowered, hypnotized by the man’s slow stroke. Between the index finger and its companion, the man’s skin had begun to turn a sickly sewage yellow.

The boy struggled to contain a shudder, willing his pulse not to race and his heart not to thump as an uncontrollable sensory flash burst within him: a hand clamped tight, its meaty thumb digging into his cheek, the caustic smell of nicotine, drowning on dry land.
He was glad the man couldn’t see his face to witness his pale panic. Small droplets of sweaty fear ran down the side of his face. The droplets were stained black from his hair.

“You don’t take plastic do you?” the man asked. Even though the man had used the joke a hundred times, the boy could still hear nervousness and strain behind the attempted joviality.

“Cash.” The boy’s voice was still soft, unchallenging. “Fifty.”

“Fifty? Fuck that. Twenty’s my limit.”

“You been away?” The boy made it sound innocent, playful.

“Huh?”
“Most know the price before they come.”
“Uh.”

As the man’s voice faltered, his proud organ begin to wither in his hand. The boy reached out with one finger, stroked the smooth, velvety-soft skin.
The organ responded instantly.

The boy removed his finger and popped it in his mouth. His lips were the color of rose petals.

“Ohhh, God,” the man moaned as his body twitched with delight. “Fifty?”

A nod.

A lick of salty lips.

A deal.

By the time the boy locked the cubicle door behind him, the man was sitting on the edge of the toilet with pants around his ankles. His penis had grown to its full length and his breath had quickened into a steady pant not unlike that of a dog after a fast run.

The boy dropped to his knees. The concrete floor was cold and slightly sticky like a slab of mortuary marble.
The man loosened his tie and allowed his eyes to drift into lazy slits. He relaxed against the water tank, its cool dampness easing the tense muscles in his shoulders and back.

The silver buckle of his belt touched the side of the porcelain toilet with the gentle peal of a Christmas bell as, with greedy anticipation, his lips curled into a cruel smile.

The boy’s eyes never rose above the man’s waist as he leaned forward. The man’s eyes closed tight in ecstasy at the first gentle touch. It was accompanied by a sharp, delicious tingle that rose through his body in a wave until his mind abruptly registered the pain.
“What the fuck!”

The man tried to rise to his feet, but a sharper, debilitating pain behind his right knee, dropped him back onto the toilet seat. His eyes opened wide to see the boy rising, a sliver of glistening steel in his hand.

The razor slashed out again — this time to the throat of Bob Collins: aged 49, wife and two kids, mutual-funds salesman, heavy smoker, heavier drinker, mortgaged to the hilt.

Bob’s jugular withstood two deep slashes in the shape of a V before bursting. A fountain of crimson liquid erupted in a high arc that splattered the cubicle wall. Another slice of the blade opened the skin and soft muscle of his throat to form the yawn of a second mouth. Bob’s heart raced, every beat pumping more of his lifeblood onto the filthy cubicle floor.

The boy stepped back and leaned his weight on the flimsy metal door. Peeking over his shoulder, someone had scratched a quote from Gandhi into the drab, hospital-blue paint: You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

The boy studied the fresh blood as it drained from the man’s mortal wounds. It pooled around resoled Oxfords before following the gentle slope of the floor and flowing into the next stall where it found a circular drain.

That was good. The boy had worn his lucky sneakers and was reluctant to throw them away.

Bob clutched at his torn throat, desperate to close the wounds, but the cuts were too large and too deep. Arterial blood oozed between fat, soft, useless fingers. He looked up at the boy, eyes pleading, his bubbling mouths unable to form words.

Then, recognition dawned.

The boy smiled, showing twin rows of perfect white teeth; a confidence builder, an investment in the future.

“Took a while, Bob. Guess I meant a lot, huh?”
Bob was having difficulty breathing. Blood filled his throat and flooded his lungs. His eyes began to wander, showing his head was light, stomach queasy.
“Does your wife know?” the boy asked, his voice flat and no longer gentle. “Do the girls?”

Bob’s hands dropped from his throat, blood still escaping in spasmodic spurts that kept rhythm with the atrophy of his heart.

“Because they will, Bob,” the boy continued. “I’ll make sure of it.”

Bob’s chin flopped onto his chest. His breathing became ragged. The muscles in his face slackened.
He actually looked sad.

The boy unlocked the cubicle and walked to the bank of sinks near the entrance. Splatters of blood speckled the side of his face and the collar of his denim jacket. The skin of his knife hand, however, was a crimson glove, the warm blood reaching to his elbow and splashing across the rolled-up sleeve. The jacket would probably need to be burned.

The boy scrubbed his hands and face, wiped the jacket sleeve as best he could with wet paper towel, then pulled a small plastic bottle of cinnamon mouthwash from an inside pocket.

He gargled and spat.

All the time in front of the mirror, he was careful not to lock eyes with his reflection. He didn’t want to witness what lay within its steely depths.

Once satisfied, he crossed to the maintenance department’s supply closet and removed a steel bucket and shaggy rope mop, plus a few other essentials.

He used the mop to clean around Bob’s stall, knowing it wasn’t necessary to be perfect. The lighting in the room was dim and the painted concrete floor was made to disguise worse offenses.

When he was done, the boy returned to Bob’s stall, pulled the door closed and sealed it with a strip of shiny red duct tape. He then slipped one of the maintenance crew’s pre-cut Out of Order signs into the door’s handy plastic slot.

The boy checked his watch after returning the mop to the closet and took up position at the row of urinals. His back was to the four cubicles, two of which were still in working condition.

The 14-year-old lowered his gaze as the outside door opened and an eager man walked in.

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