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Review: Accidental Outlaws, by Matt Phillips

“You’re the dirt in which you stand. You’ve never been anything. You’ll never be anyone. You’ll always get taken, be brought down, get kicked in your ribs. …the truth is in your bones- you’re a nobody”

It has been said bad news comes in threes and Matt Phillips proves it true by offering three bad-ass hits of noir in his ass-kicking new offering, AccidentalOutlaws. These three stories contain reoccurring characters who help link these tales of misery and despair. It has been a while since a new All Due Respect book crossed my E-Reader, but the wait has sure been worth it. Phillips and ADR is a match made in heaven; both are known to focus on the fringe players of society and both prove novels and stories work best when they are left without a bow to tie them up, instead they reflect the truth that life rarely has neat ending.

My favorite of the three stores was Mesa Boys. Phillips paints a bleakness in this story which features no good men doing no good crimes. When Ronnie aligns himself with the untrustworthy Marl in an attempt to steal from his uncle, he sets a series of fallen dominoes into action and in true noir fashion, there are no winners when the chips are down. I really liked the manner in which Philips sets the stage with characters no one can root for. This story needed characters who play off each other and the reader has no vested interest in seeing one character emerge as a victor, instead you find yourself immersed in the story and just enjoy the misery each character inflicts on themselves and others.

The Feud is the second story and it is a doozy in its own right. Rex finds himself seething inside as he reflects on his shitty life and his anger finds a target in Garrett, a local pot dealer who Rex deems as a no-good piece of crap who holds no job benefits off the misery of others. As Rex finds his anger boiling to the point he can’t contain it anymore, the wheels of fate begin to dish out punishment and retribution to the lowlifes that inhabit this tale. The ending comes out of nowhere and leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction.

The final story, Bar Burning, has a fairly likable character Packard, who believes “A man has to make things burn. He’s got no choice about that. But what he burns, that’s what tells you who he is”.  Packard overhears local bar owner, Sketchy, disparage another man and something about that doesn’t sit right with him. His decision to burnt he bar down sets off a chain reaction that has Packard pick up the bar owner’s former girlfriend, which adds fuel to their new war. With each man intent on getting the upper hand, the potential for violence ratchets up to a fever pitch level and keeps the reader flying through the pages.

Phillips writes in a style which is authentic, true, and meaningful. His characters jump to life and are well-fleshed out. The reader will find their actions understandable, if not inevitable. The truth of the noir lifestyle is evident in every story, paragraph, sentence, and word Phillips choices in include, and exclude. While there are no winners in the pages within this collection, the true winners are the readers of these tightly written masterpieces and Phillips himself, who continues to impress me with each new offering.

Highly Recommended.

Three Fingers of Scotch

Send your best man out, you expect the job done. 

Unless the target is just a little bit better.

Three Fingers of Scotch by Jonathan Brown

Taking a punch in the face is never good. That’s why when Jensen sent a straight right aimed at my jaw, I slipped it. As his meaty fist and forearm sailed past, I gave him a nice hook to his rib cage. I envisioned his floating rib busting off and puncturing his intestines.

A body shot followed with a knee to the guts and I wrapped it up with a fast- moving elbow to the back of his thick skull. Squirming on the floor, he stayed conscious and wheezing like a ninety-year-old asthmatic.

I grabbed the remote from the bureau and brought the television volume back down. The beating was over. As I stepped over him on the way to the mini bar, he reached for my ankle. The move got him a busted wrist. He squealed.

Through tears so pathetic his mother would deny knowing him, he asked if we could make a deal and offered me all kinds of money.

“You’re not the money guy, Jensen. We both know that so sit quiet.”

After the money, he offered his daddy’s Bentley and season tickets to Charger games on the fifty-yard-line.

“Didn’t I ask you to be quiet? A guy takes half a beating and he folds like a poker player with a bad hand.”

I was two-thirds of the way into pouring three fingers of my favorite swill when his phone buzzed.

He tried to dig it out of his windbreaker but subsided when I put a foot across his neck and relieved him of it.

Without looking at the screen, I knew who it was. “I’m still breathin’. Come over and let’s chat,” I said, killing the call.

He shivered on the floor despite Hollywood suffering its hottest heat wave in thirty years. The AC unit had crapped out the day before. That’s why three fingers of booze instead of my usual two.

“You don’t know what kinda hell you’ve unleashed?” he whined. “He’ll kill us both.”

“No he won’t, I’m gonna kill you before he gets here,” I bluffed, delighted by his twitching. “Why’d he put you on me, Jensen? You guys knocked over the armored car, you got the money. And now he sends you to clip me. Why?”

“Look,” he said wincing as he got to his knees.

“Lay back down. You look like you’re praying to me I don’t like it.”

He obeyed with a moan. “You set up the truck deal nice and clean.”

“Stop telling me what I already know, Jensen,” I said, stepping close to him.

“Everything went smooth until one of the guys on the truck popped out the back door and blazed away. We lost Smitty.”

“Always liked Smitty,” I said.

“Likewise. Anyway, boss thought maybe you tipped ‘em off.”

“Tipped them off? Why? So I wouldn’t get my cut? Grow up, moron.”

“Right, he only thought that at first, though. It wasn’t until later he knew it wasn’t you…but now he’s kinda…well, you know too much.”

“Know too much? I was in on the score. Of course I knew--”

A quiet knock came from the door. I opened without any Hollywood drama. The boss man strode ahead of his two semi-truck sized security detail. They ignored me as they walked past.

He sneered at his failed hitman. “Pretty ballsy opening up like that,” he said to me.

“If you see balls on this frame you need your prescription changed, boss.”

“Yeah, okay. You’re a knockout, Veronica. So what?” he said.

“That hump on the floor is who set you up and got Smitty done in the process.”

“Prove it.”

“He’s got fresh bills pokin’ outta his Dockers, and he wasn’t even on the job. And I know you haven’t paid out yet. He’s in it with Smitty’s killer and maybe another guy who were supposed to whack your guys. But it went south.”

“That adds. Sorry we were slow on the uptake. At least Jensen didn’t clip ya,” the boss man said.

“Jensen couldn’t clip his nails. Pay me and blow. I got three fingers o’ scotch waiting.”

Jonathan Brown has penned two full-length amateur P.I. manuscripts currently being shopped: The Big Crescendo and Don’t Shoot The Drummer. He has a published short story in the Palos Verdes 2016 Anthology. He formerly wrote for The American Dream Newspaper, (luxury living magazine), Rapport Magazine, The Learning Guide Channel Magazine. Check him out at:

Review: Meat City on Fire, by Angel Luis Colon

Down and Out Books has come out with some great books as of late and they just pushed the bar even higher with the release of Angel Luis Colon’s Meat City on Fire (And Other Assorted Debacles). It was with great anticipation that I tore into this and I can honestly report Colon did not just produce a collection of short stories. Instead, he crafted a short story collection that I will compare all future collections to and they may all come out lacking. There is not a single story in this book which I would label as mere filler. Each story is well-crafted, engaging, and filled with believable, dirty, foul, bad characters with bad intentions. This is a work of literary genius.

A few stories in this collection were reprints from collections originally published by Thuglit, All Due Respect, Thrillers, Killers, ‘n’ Chillers, and other great publications. Overall, there are 16 stories here and each are original and unique, but all share the same common thread of being written by a pro in the prime of his writing career.

While all the stories are great, I especially loved Shotgun Wedding (Bonnie & Clyde with a methamphetamine kick), Saltimbocca (Revenge is best served cold), 43% Burnt (Revenge can be served at any temperature), Meat City on Fire (always go back for the money), and Jenny (never assume she’ll say yes). To say which one was my favorite is impossible, but these were all highlights for me.

I love the way Colon drops you into each story, but you feel like you grew up there. Things seem familiar and comfortable from the get go. His writing is easy and carefree, yet jagged as a piece of glass about to cut you. His reputation as a writer to watch is well-deserved and this release will only increase his stock.

Highly Recommended. 

Book Review: Life During Wartime

The Gutter is back from its sabbatical with. . .

A review from our resident, voracious reader.

Review: Thomas Pluck's Life During Wartime

Thomas Pluck has range. 

The stories in his forthcoming collection, Life During Wartime (Down and Out), span a continuum of settings, eras, and themes--to say nothing of the wide variety of characters he peoples them with. Such a diverse assortment of elements on its own doesn't necessarily make for good writing. But in the hands of Pluck, readers will welcome the diversity that comes with each successive story.

This guy can write.

One attribute of these crime stories is Pluck's facility at endings, at subverting our expectations, or even at affirming them, but in ways unlike what we might expect. I'm not talking about twists here, though there are plenty of those. Rather, it's the kind of thing one might see in, say, a Carver or Richard Yates. Sometimes he gives us a subdued piece of melancholy, sometimes a hopeful lift, and sometimes a hair-raising shocker. We're never sure until we reach the close. Notably, Pluck's endings always make sense in terms of characters and context; he never cheats or delivers anything contrived. And the "fates" of the characters, the status of things at the close, can always be traced to some development in the narrative, or in the environments from which the characters emerge. There's a rationale for how things work out, in other words, even if the results surprise us--and even if we might have to think about it for a while in order to fully "get it".

There's more in favor of variety, too. Pluck likes to explore micro-cultures--Mohawk skywalkers, elite Wall Street brokers, veterinary workers, MMA fighters, cruel middle schoolers, and single mothers from Harlem, among many other types and anti-types. Amazingly, the dialogue, settings, and situations all ring true. (Either Pluck has done some serious research or he's lived a life on the move!)  Despite the array of characters, plots, and settings, the stories revolve around universal human emotions and motivations: greed, lust, jealousy, revenge, desire, hope, and despair. Pluck never alienates his reader. We can appreciate the stories no matter who we are or where we come from, because we sympathize with his characters, be they ne'er-do-wells, criminals, or upstanding community members.

Additional strengths are pacing and dialogue. Pluck commonly plops us down in medias res and keeps things moving until the end. The dialogue is clever and witty, but what's most significant is the fact that it serves several purposes. Sometimes the dialogue gives us a subtle (or not so subtle) picture of a character, sometimes it hints at a motivation, or an emotion--maybe some loss or desire. Often, it figures as a device in advancing the plot. But whether an exchange involves a victim of domestic abuse, an embittered divorcee, or a hot-rodder cuckolded by his best friend, we want to read on and see what happens. And this is a credit to Pluck's ability to create believable characters and dialogue that resonates. The stories read quickly because characters say things that take us deeper into the action, and we appreciate them for it.

The author also favors crisp, concise narration that's never bogged down by self-conscious use of adverbs and adjectives. But this doesn't mean that his style lacks artfulness. He tailors his narration to the story, to the characters and settings. Again, there's an authenticity about it, whatever the place or time. Consider the following from a story about a bygone Appalachia:

"After supper we sat on the porch to hear Joe play. Red and me clapped and sang along to the jaunty tunes, and Maw sang the slow ballads. As the sun’s red blaze dipped behind our mountaintop and the jarflies buzzed their last racket of the day, Joe came to a song that made Maw close her eyes and sing real sweet. It was one Grams used to hum to herself. Maw’s voice rang high over Joe’s mournful tones.
That was the first time I realized how beautiful my mother was. Not just to me, but to other people. The last note faded and Maw finished the chorus alone."
It's in passages like this, and there are many, where Pluck shows us he has chops beyond that of many of his peers, or at least we see that he's doing something different.
But to you crime fiction readers out there, make no mistake, the stories here involve criminality at all levels. These are not "sweet tales."  Once more, there's clever plotting, great pace, twists and turns, and plenty of despicable characters to satisfy any crime-fiction lover's appetite.

Highly Recommended

Chris McGinley (reviewer) has appeared in Out of the Gutter, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, and Shotgun Honey (forthcoming). He teaches middle school in Lexington, KY.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the ninth Daze of Christmas,

Kurt Newton gives us the Twelve Days of Christmas (Gutter style).

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Kurt Newton

On the first day of Christmas 
They sent me looking for a tree,
And I got lost in the woods behind our house.

On the second day of Christmas
It was fourteen degrees,
So I built myself a shelter
Out of logs in the woods behind our house.

On the third day of Christmas
Still no one came for me,
So I rubbed two sticks together,
And I made myself a fire
To keep warm in the woods behind our house.

On the fourth day of Christmas
I got very, very hungry,
So I trapped and killed a squirrel,
And cooked it on the fire,
And drank some snowy water
From the stream in the woods behind our house.

On the fifth day of Christmas
It was very plain to see:
I was
to die!
They would find me stiff and frozen,
My skin the color of the ocean,
All because they sent me looking
For some fucking tree in the woods behind our house.

On the sixth day of Christmas
It was hard to believe:
My heart was beating, my lungs still breathing,
I was
So I chased down a rabbit,
And ate it with my bare hands,
Had a dream about the full moon,
And woke up screaming in the woods behind our house.

On the seventh day of Christmas
Still no family.
I knew something wasn't quite right,
I couldn't be that hard to find.
  you fucking
All that talk about presents,
And Santa coming down the chimney,
Was just a way to get rid of me
And get me lost in the woods behind our house.

On the eighth day of Christmas
The snow was awful deep.
I caught two more squirrels,
One I kept alive and tortured,
Before it died, I named it Mother.
Wasn't I a good son?
I cleaned my room, I took the garbage out.
You just wait till I get home, Mom,
I'll find my way out of these woods back to our crappy house.

On the ninth day of Christmas
I peeled the bark from a tree,
And used a twig as a pencil,
And wrote a note to whoever,
Just in case they find my body,
I could tell them my story
Of how
 I was
I packed some chewy rabbit meatsticks
To bring with me on my journey,
Just like Robinson Crusoe (whoever that is),
Except in the snow, in the woods behind a house.

On the tenth day of Christmas
I woke up and headed east.
It could have been west for all I know,
In school, I didn't do real good,
Always sent down to the principal's office,
Getting suspended for doing bad stuff,
Like lighting fires in the storage rooms.
I was
            just having
Now, I'm trudging through the deep snow,
Trying to find my way back home,
Just like Hansel and Gretel (whoever they are),
Mother, I hope you're home when I leave these woods and find our house.

On the eleventh day of Christmas
I could no longer feel my feet.
I spent the night inside a deadfall
That kinda looked familiar,
I ran out of chewy rabbit meatsticks
And ate the note I scribbled on the tree bark,
Prayed that Mom would die a horrid death,
Fell asleep and almost gave up,
Until I
  heard a
    telephone ring!
It was like a Christmas tree bell,
Like a message from an angel
Who get his wings, just like that movie
I watch each year and cry when I'm alone inside our house.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
Mother was still asleep.
Her boyfriend, Jack, was passed out in the bathroom,
I made sure to take care of him first,
And then I went and woke up Mother,
She was so surprised to see me,
I said, "Merry Christmas, Mom, here's your present,"
"It's a Jack-in-a-Box, don't you get it?"
It was then she started screaming:
I told her God has nothing to do with it,
And Santa is the devil,
And then I swung the ax and buried it,
And stacked her pieces neatly on the woodpile behind my house.

You can find more Kurt Newton flash fiction at The Arcanist and in the pages of Hinnom Magazine. His first novel, The Wishnik, was recently released on Kindle.

Gifts of Red and Green

On the eighth Daze of Christmas, 

'Tis the season to look back, and regret.

Gifts of Red and Green by J.J. Sinisi

I couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be. A forest landscape or a tulip, maybe? She asked if I liked it. Of course, I said. I always did. How could I say otherwise? She was the only woman I ever loved.

I wondered aloud if she was attempting abstractionism. I received a creased eyebrow in response. If she smelled the alcohol when I spoke, she didn’t mention it.

The painting hung askew on the wall, long intermingling pigmented streaks, joined as they were by the interminable will of randomness, robbed its beauty save for one spot at the bottom, where white and red and green joined to create a wonderful spiral of color in an otherwise confusing mess of shit.

“It’s your gift,” she said. A heavy sigh from her pert nose belied her smile, hid smoldering tears. “I paint them; then I leave them outside to weather.”

“To weather?”

“Yes, Munch used to do it. Let the elements do their worst. He even let his dog trample on one.”

“Munch? The guy who did Scream?”

She laughed at the fact that I knew this piece of trivia or because I thought it worth mentioning. She wiped a stray tear which had snaked around the large purple welt pinching her eye shut.

The bright Christmas tree crystallized white shapes across her face and I imagined it shattering, her lips going here, nose there, her cheeks flying away, all her beauty ruined in one cataclysm. The rage still hadn’t left me.

“You didn’t have to do it,” she whispered. “It wasn’t your responsibility anymore.”

A familiar ball gathered in my gut, grew limbs, climbed through my throat. My eyes wandered back to the painting, away from her splintered visage. I saw it then, the painting, what she had intended: the weather and the wear, I watched the boiling red streaks until it was all I could see.

“There was nothing left but blood,” I said.


“When I was done hitting him, no eyes, no nose. Just blood. On my fist, punching where his face used to be. Just so much red.”

“Christ, Jamar.”

“But I look at you now,” I touched her lumpy cheek. “I know I went too easy on him.”
The forecast was initially six inches, but lake effect had pumped it up to a foot, and now all that swirling white mixed in the darkness with the blinking Christmas lights. It was the first year I hadn’t hung them for her and I felt that if the course of the storm didn’t blow them down, I’d go out there myself and tear them away. I wanted to destroy anything that had to do with him, obliterate the entire world because he had lived upon it.

Moments later, the spinning light of a police car added its own colors. It was time.

I looked out the window beside the door; saw the sheriff getting out. “I left you a gift,” I said quickly.

“For Christmas?” she asked, crying now.

It climbed out of my mouth then fully formed: regret. I felt I could see it, this thing that had always been between us, had now taken shape, and would never go away. Neither her abusive boyfriend nor my addiction could annihilate it. “Yes, for Christmas. It was in his apartment. He won’t be missing it. I hid it in the shed, on top of my old desk. The one I used to write at.”

The sheriff knocked and the wind howled.

“I miss your writing.” She glanced at the painting again. “I miss creating art with you. I think that’s when it all died. When we stopped creating.”

More knocks. He could see me through the door.

“It’s worth ten grand.” I chuckled.


“It’s a Lichtenstein. Honestly, I was just glad I didn’t see any of your pieces there.”

“We never painted together.” She paused. “So you just took it?”

“I always was a good thief.”

“You were a better writer.”

“Open up. It’s Sheriff Johnston. C’mon, Cynthia. I know he’s in there.”

I opened the door to Johnston’s well-weathered mustache, white from both time and the storm. His green eyes evaded the saggy crags of his wrinkles.

“Time to go, Jamar.”

I know, I told him, because I was never any good at running away.

J. J. Sinisi is a husband, father, and professional out of New York and spends what little free time he has strolling dark alleyways creating crime fiction. His work has appeared at Crime Factory, Spelk Fiction, Yellow Mama, Near to the Knuckle, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Dead Guns Press, All Due Respect, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, and Heater among others. Check out his noir themed website

Slay Ride 2: Jingle Bullets

On the seventh Daze of Christmas,

Tom Leins revisits some old friends.

Slay Ride 2: Jingle Bullets by Tom Leins

Christmas Eve. 

The Merry Gentlemen Rest Stop.

The space-heater is turned up high enough to make me sweat and the slashed double mattress is lumpy with what is left of my fuckin’ loot.

My stubbled jaw rests on Marisol’s enormous belly and I can feel my baby boy kicking like a little mule.  

There’s a knock on the door. Brisk and powerful, so it can’t be one of the scrawny junkie fucks that are always hassling me for smokes on the forecourt.

“No room at the inn, motherfucker.”

The knocking continues.

I clamber off the bed, tuck my Glock G19 into the back of my jeans, and press my
bloodshot eye against the fish-eye peep-hole.

“No fuckin’ way…”

It’s a particularly swollen-looking Santa Claus, with a sidearm dangling from his hip and a gold star pinned to his barrel chest.

He hammers on the peep-hole with the flat of his hand and I jolt backwards.
“Son, I’ve had to walk out on the Goddamn Crippled Civilian’s Festive Luncheon for this – the least you can do is open the door for me. The ladies at the recreation center promised to keep my turkey warm for me and I really don’t want to test their patience.”

I fasten the security chain and crack open the door. The icy blast hits me like an uppercut. I shiver involuntarily.

“What can I do for you, Sheriff?”

“Josif Janko?”

I nod.

“Are you acquainted with a man named Terrell Frost?”

My ex-partner. The ghost of Christmas past. I left his skull meat splattered across a strip club called Lapland after he ripped me off and left me for dead last year.

I shrug. “I have a lot of fuckin’ acquaintances, man…”

He yawns.

“In that case, you probably knew that Frost was in hock to an out-of-town syndicate run by a man named Nicholas Saint. I have been reliably informed by my good friends in the Federal Bureau of Investigations that Mister Saint has sent a hitter named Demyan ‘Deadman’ Moroz down to my little backwater to recover whatever is left of the money.”

I shrug.

“Treat this as a courtesy call, young man. I really wouldn’t want something as distasteful as a blood feud to harm my re-election prospects. Next time I have to visit this dirt-box you call home, I’ll be hauling you away in handcuffs. Or a damned body-bag. Goodbye, Mr Janko.”

He shuffles back to his prowl car, the corrective heel of his police-issue footwear clacking noisily on the asphalt.

Before he can unlock the vehicle his lumpen body is shredded by submachine gun fire.

“Motherfucker! Marisol, get in the fuckin’ tub.”

She slides off the bed and waddles toward the bathroom as the weapon turns the motel door into firewood.  

The shooter leers through the damaged door at me. He has a shabby electric blue suit and a shock of white hair. He is clutching a PP-90 folding submachine gun. The suit has seen better days, but the man wearing it looks positively cadaverous. “We can do this the hard way or we can do this the easy way….” His Russian accent is thicker than curdled eggnog. He flashes me a sour grin and unfastens the security lock. What is left of the door collapses.   “Mister Saint has no preference, but I prefer the hard way.” He rakes the PP-90 across the floor at my feet, splintering my right foot with hot lead.         

“Fuuuck! The money’s in the bed, man. Take it – just leave my girl out of it.”

He looms over me and his cheap aftershave smells like fresh animal piss. Another rancid smile. “She’s my girl now.” He absentmindedly sprays another round into my ruined foot.

If I live through this, my days of wearing fuckin’ flip-flops are over.

Marisol steps out of the bathroom; naked, apart from her panties.

She aims a gun at Moroz. The one I hid in the cistern, double-wrapped in a Publix carrier bag.

He is distracted by her pregnant belly and swollen breasts, and the submachine gun dangles impotently from his hand.

“Merry Christmas, asshole.” Her bullet kisses his hairline.

The old bastard wilts like a dead fuckin’ pine tree.

Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Flash Fiction Offensive, Horror Sleaze Trash and Spelk Fiction. A novelette, Skull Meat, is available via Amazon. A short story collection, Repetition Kills You, will be published in 2018.

Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth

On the sixth Daze of Christmas

Robb White reminds me of the importance of Karma this holiday season.

Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth by Robb T. White

Go fuck yourself, motherfucker!” 

That was my Mom’s Christmas greeting back to me when I called to wish her Happy Holidays. For the record, I didn’t. Fuck her, that is, in case you were taking my old lady’s name-calling to heart.

That was then. This was now. I planned to kill the bitch.

What reason, you ask, could make a son so depraved he’d want to kill the very mother who shit him out into the world? Because the drunken slut stole my fucking lottery ticket and cashed it in, that’s why. My goddamned numbers on my goddamned ticket stolen from my wallet. The cash payout was $100,000 ($71,000 after taxes—but fuck it, still plenty left over—all the money I needed to blow this armpit of a town).

I confronted her as soon as I discovered the ticket missing. One look at the fingertip bruises on her triceps and the cops dragged me away while she looked on from her balcony, smoking a cigarette. She filed a restraining order. I got jammed with six months in county.

I’m homeless, jobless, poor as a shithouse mouse, scouring the parking lot for cigarette butts just to calm my nerves.

For weeks, I watched at a distance while my thieving mother went through my winnings. I followed her from one shopping mall and pricey restaurant to another. I chain-smoked and slept in my car. I had one problem to solve—namely, my mother’s death would point the arrow of guilt in only one direction.  

The witch herself provided the answer. Like the biblical dog returning to its vomit, Jezebel went looking for stray cock in the same redneck bars with her tight skirt and duct-taped tits spilling out of her blouse.

I followed her to the Royal Flush, a cement-block dump and parked far in back. She’d come rolling out at closing time with her latest stud, some bearded bike trash or cheating husband.

The fool she came staggering out the door with at closing time would do—big, tattooed, a gut the size of a Ben Franklin stove around his middle.

I followed his Silverado a mile away to a lovers’ lane. I’d had blowjobs there from my own pickups from that same dive.

The windows were fogged up from whatever was going on inside when I ripped the driver’s door open.  His eyes were squeezed shut, his head back against the seat while my mother’s head bobbed up and down in front of his crotch. I jammed the stun gun in the flab of his neck.

Perfect timing. He shot his wad just then and my mother’s mouth opened, dribbling jizz to her chin, eyes glazed from drink and sex. I let her focus on my face: recognition lit the dim bulb of her brain. Before she could scream, I jammed the gun under her exposed right tit and held it there, sparking and sizzling. I’d bought that pink stun gun for her last Christmas.

Rigging up the hose from the muffler was a few seconds’ work. Ignition on, the suicide note tossed on the dashboard, I fled the scene, cracked open a beer to celebrate, and fell asleep. Until the cops pounded on my windshield with their batons.

During the six months in the calaboose practicing her childish handwriting on toilet tissue, mastering every loop and curlicue, she had changed her handwriting to block printing. Worse yet, she left a letter with the bartender at the Royal Flush that night stating if anything happened to her, I was to blame.

I accepted an Alford plea rather than go to trial and take a chance on life without parole. Twenty-five years, out in fifteen, my lawyer says. The money left over went to the women’s shelter. Who’d have thought my old lady with her GED would ever quote Shakespeare?  “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.”

I’m a son of a bitch, all right.

Robb T. White lives in Northeastern Ohio and writes crime fiction. His latest work is "Perfect Killer" from Crowood Press, UK, and scheduled for release this coming February.