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Best short stories by the Winner, seven Shortlist Winner Nominees, and eighty-seven Finalists of the second annual Adelaide Literary Award Competition 2018 selected by Stevan V. Nikolic, editor-in-chief. THE WINNER - Toni Morgan; SHORTLIST WINNER NOMINEES - Lazar Trubman, Pam Munter, Susan Pollet, Esq., Jose Recio, Peter Freeman, Michael Washburn, Janet Mason; FINALISTS - Andrea Lorenzo, Brooke Reynolds, Heather Whited, Jack Coey, Darrell Case, Alexandra Lapointe Edward D. Hunt, M Cid D'Angelo, Richard Dokey, Michael Mohr, Scott Kauffman, Olga Pavlinova Olenich, James White, Thomas Larsen, Patty Somlo, Rita Baker, Janine Desvaux, Mark Albro, Skyler Nielsen, Rachel A.G. Gilman, Jim Zinaman, Carolyn L. Bell, Robert McKean, Royce Adams A. Elizabeth Herting, Tara Lynn Marta, John Wells, Heide Arbitter, Jeff Bakkensen, Jeffrey Ihlenfeldt, Bettina Rotenberg, Hina Ahmed, Peter Hoppock, Matthew Byerly, Tim Rodriguez Riley Bounds, Wayne Hall, Dennis Nau, Kathryn Merriam, Sam Gridley, Jonathan Maniscalco, Harold Barnes, Mattie Ward, Brenna Carroll, Barbara Bottner, Beth Mead, David Macpherson Judyth Emanuel, George Korolog, Peter Gelfan, Mary Ann Presman, Deborah Nedelman Rebekah Coxwell, Richard Klin, Ted Morrissey, Ben Rosenthal, Terry Sanville, Steve McBrearty Richard Key, Max Bayer, Amada Matei, Sydney Samone Wrigh, Ross Goldstein, Zia Marshall, Lisa Lopez Snyder, Peter K. Wehrli, Joshua Hren, Maureen Mangiardi, Carolini Cardozo Assmann D. Ruefman, Lynette Yu, Mandi N Jourdan, Masha Shukovich, Annina Lavee, Meg Paske, Emily Peña Murphey, Clay Anderson, Niikah Hatfield, Jose Sotolongo, Carl Scharwath, Kaleigh Longe Maryna Manzhola

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Published by ADELAIDE BOOKS, 2018-12-14 09:00:32

Adelaide Award Anthology 2018: SHORT STORIES, Vol. Two

Best short stories by the Winner, seven Shortlist Winner Nominees, and eighty-seven Finalists of the second annual Adelaide Literary Award Competition 2018 selected by Stevan V. Nikolic, editor-in-chief. THE WINNER - Toni Morgan; SHORTLIST WINNER NOMINEES - Lazar Trubman, Pam Munter, Susan Pollet, Esq., Jose Recio, Peter Freeman, Michael Washburn, Janet Mason; FINALISTS - Andrea Lorenzo, Brooke Reynolds, Heather Whited, Jack Coey, Darrell Case, Alexandra Lapointe Edward D. Hunt, M Cid D'Angelo, Richard Dokey, Michael Mohr, Scott Kauffman, Olga Pavlinova Olenich, James White, Thomas Larsen, Patty Somlo, Rita Baker, Janine Desvaux, Mark Albro, Skyler Nielsen, Rachel A.G. Gilman, Jim Zinaman, Carolyn L. Bell, Robert McKean, Royce Adams A. Elizabeth Herting, Tara Lynn Marta, John Wells, Heide Arbitter, Jeff Bakkensen, Jeffrey Ihlenfeldt, Bettina Rotenberg, Hina Ahmed, Peter Hoppock, Matthew Byerly, Tim Rodriguez Riley Bounds, Wayne Hall, Dennis Nau, Kathryn Merriam, Sam Gridley, Jonathan Maniscalco, Harold Barnes, Mattie Ward, Brenna Carroll, Barbara Bottner, Beth Mead, David Macpherson Judyth Emanuel, George Korolog, Peter Gelfan, Mary Ann Presman, Deborah Nedelman Rebekah Coxwell, Richard Klin, Ted Morrissey, Ben Rosenthal, Terry Sanville, Steve McBrearty Richard Key, Max Bayer, Amada Matei, Sydney Samone Wrigh, Ross Goldstein, Zia Marshall, Lisa Lopez Snyder, Peter K. Wehrli, Joshua Hren, Maureen Mangiardi, Carolini Cardozo Assmann D. Ruefman, Lynette Yu, Mandi N Jourdan, Masha Shukovich, Annina Lavee, Meg Paske, Emily Peña Murphey, Clay Anderson, Niikah Hatfield, Jose Sotolongo, Carl Scharwath, Kaleigh Longe Maryna Manzhola

Keywords: anthology,short stories,fiction

ADELAIDE LITERARY AWARD
ANTHOLOGY
2018

SHORT STORIES

Volume II



ADELAIDE LITERARY AWARD

ANTHOLOGY
2018

SHORT STORIES

Volume Two

Adelaide Books

New York/Lisbon

2018

ADELAIDE LITERARY AWARDS ANTHOLOGY 2018
SHORT STORIES
Volume II

Special Issue of the Adelaide Literary Magazine
September 2018

ISBN-13: 978-1-949180-65-7
ISBN-10: 1-949180-65-4

Adelaide Literary Magazine is an independent international monthly publication,
based in New York and Lisbon. Founded by Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide Franco
Nikolic in 2015, the magazine’s aim is to publish quality poetry, fiction, nonfic-
tion, artwork, and photography, as well as interviews, articles, and book reviews,
written in English and Portuguese. We seek to publish outstanding literary fiction,
nonfiction, and poetry, and to promote the writers we publish, helping both new,
emerging, and established authors reach a wider literary audience. We publish print
and digital editions of our magazine twelve times a year. Online edition is updated
continuously. There are no charges for reading the magazine online.

(http://adelaidemagazine.org)

EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR-CHEFE
Stevan V. Nikolic

[email protected]

MANAGING DIRECTOR
Adelaide Franco Nikolic

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT
Patricia Dinis

GRAPHIC & WEB DESIGN
Joana Cardoso

Vesna Trpkovska

Published by: Adelaide Books LLC, New York
244 Fifth Avenue, Suite D27, New York, NY 10001

e-mail: [email protected]
phone: 917 477 8984

Copyright © 2018 by Adelaide Books LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission from the Adelaide Books / Adelaide Liter-
ary Magazine Editor-in-chief, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in

critical articles and reviews.

Best short stories by the Winner,
seven Shortlist Nominees,

and eighty-seven Finalists of the second annual
Adelaide Literary Award Competition 2018
selected by
Stevan V. Nikolic
editor-in-chief



Content

FINALIST (continue)
MEN

by Matthew byerly  13
UNCLE DON

by Tim Rodriguez   21
DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN

by Riley Bounds  35
THE YELLOW MUSTARD THEORY

by Wayne Hall  43
SLEEPY EYE DAYS
by Dennis Nau   53

NO WORDS
by Kathryn Merriam  65

SIRENS
by Sam Gridley  77
AN AMERICAN MILL TOWN
by Jonathan Maniscalco  83

AMBERGRIS
by Harold Barnes  89

7

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018

AFTER THE MARTYRS
by Brenna Carroll  97

HORSE COUNTRY
by Barbara Bottner  109

ON THE ROCKS
by Beth Mead  123

DEAD BATTERIES
by David Macpherson   133

THE DAY I AM DEAD YOU KNOW
I START SUF-FER-ING
by Judyth Emanuel  143

DESERT BLOOM
by George Korolog   153

DANCING IN VENICE
by Peter Gelfan  157

ROWLEY ROAD
by Mary Ann Presman   167

EVANGELINE AND THE WRESTLERS
by Deborah Nedelman  179

SAILOR
by Rebekah Coxwell   193

CANDY COLORS
by Richard Klin   205

CROWSONG FOR THE STRICKEN
by Ted Morrissey   213

THE WOLVES
by Ben Rosenthal   223

8

SHORT STORIES

HOOKED
by Terry Sanville   235

INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE
by Steve McBrearty   241

DO-GOODERS GOTTA EAT TOO
by Richard Key  253

A POSSIBILITY OF JOY
by Max Bayer   257

FEARING AUSTRALIA
by Amada Matei  265

ON FALLING
by Sydney Samone Wright  275

THE HALF LIFE OF SHAME
by Ross Goldstein   287

A WRITER’S WORLD
by Zia Marshall  297

SHE
by Lisa Lopez Snyder   307

ROBBY AND ALFRED
by Peter K. Wehrli  313

DEBTS
by Joshua Hren  319

LOBSTER NIGHT
by Maureen Mangiardi   323

THE COAL BUCKET CRADLE
by Daniel Ruefman  331

9

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018

BANDIT LOVE
by Carolini Cardozo Assmann   335

PHOTOGRAPHS
by Lynette Yu   337

PAPER FACES
by Mandi N Jourdan  343
WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND
by Masha Shukovich  347

THE BUBBLE
by Annina Lavee  353

THE CICADAS
by Meg Paske   359
THE PEDDLER IBRAHIM
by Emily Peña Murphey   367
THE SNAKE PREACHER
by Clay Anderson  373

ALLIUM
by Niikah Hatfield   385

A YOUNG LEAF
by José Sotolongo   391

AFFLICTION
by Carl Scharwath   403

DEFILED
by Kaleigh Longe   407
WHAT ABOUT YOUR SOUL:
DOES SHE SPEAK TO YOU?
by Maryna Manzhola   411

10

FINALISTS (continue)



Men

By Matthew Byerly

22

The silence was thick, and it filled every crack of the room. It was
like a fog that you would wait out until the sun came to save you,
though this savoir was complicated, maybe even non-existent for a
couple of college seniors.

They were at Natalie’s off-campus apartment, her living room,
sitting away from each other on other sides of the room. Adam was
hunched over, holding his hands together though his fingers were
covered up by his sweater sleeves; Natalie sat with her back resting on
the couch, with her hands folded across her flat belly. She would look
over at Adam periodically but their eyes would never meet. His eyes
just met the ground, staring for who knows who long, unblinking and
emotionless. She just wanted to hear his voice, maybe some opinion.

Adam rubbed the back of his black, shaggy hair viciously,
breaking his frozen nature after hearing the news. This alarmed Na-
talie, allowing her to look at him a little bit more frequently.

He abruptly copied Natalie’s seated position, and looked at
her. “So, you sure about all of this?”

She nodded, calm in nature but her eyes read something else.
“How do you feel?”
She shrugged. “Mostly terrified. There’s just too much going
on. I just wanted to graduate.”

13

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
“We could always do something about this.”
She shrugged, again.
“What?”
“What if this is the only chance I ever get? It’s truly a nightmare
situation. Like I always wanted this but…But not now. We’re just
kids—”
“We can do something about it,” Adam entered.
“But Adam.” She stared at Adam with her big white eyes. He
could see the tears accumulating at the edge of her eyelids.
He got up, grabbed a tissue and sat beside Natalie. “We’re just
kids, you said it yourself. I can barely take care of myself, let alone a
family, a kid, a marriage. I don’t fucking know.” He gave her the tissue.
She sniffled, while she briefly wiped her eyes.
“I don’t know what options we have.”
She continued to wipe her eyes as more tears began to fall.
“Baby.” He held her hand. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she sniffled.
“How the fuck did this happen?” he said, looking back at the
old carpet.
She shook her head.
The silence came around again, but thinner than the time be-
fore, though no one looked at each other, just staring at the plain
carpet, thinking of some idea, some fate they could believe in.
Natalie looked at Adam, until he looked back. She whispered,
“I have an idea.”
The months went by. They both graduated, and got full time
jobs downtown. Adam grew a professional beard that was trendy;
Natalie became noticeably pregnant. They tried to balance life,
which was a struggle but they still got through it.
Natalie’s family wanted Adam to propose, which Adam
thought about, but he had a problem with. This caused strain on
their relationship, still it didn’t break. Family gatherings grew tense
and uncomfortable, nothing that frustrated Adam.
Adam’s problem with marriage was that after the birth they
would be childless. Adam and Natalie agreed that they were unfit to
raise children at that time, but Natalie still wanted to have a child,

14

SHORT STORIES
worried that she would never get another opportunity. Her idea
was to have the child, and give the baby to her sister, who always
wanted children but was barren. Her sister loved the idea and almost
everyone did, except Adam had his reservations.

During the birth, Adam wanted to be in the room with Na-
talie, but her mom and sister already claimed spots, so he remained
isolated from the action, waiting in the waiting room with a few of
Natalie’s relatives. She gave birth to a son named Alvin, who had his
mom’s eyes and his father’s smile. He was passed around to relative
to relative, allowing Adam to be one of the last in line. Adam was
disappointed by that, and lost interest while waiting for a chance
with his son.

That day Natalie and Adam decided that when Alvin was old
enough, the couple would tell him about their true relationship.
Adam liked that, and thought more about proposing to Natalie.
That was the only day they were parents, with Natalie’s sister Re-
gina and her husband Albert officially adopting Alvin. Adam though
things were back to normal.

29

Years have passed, and Natalie and Adam broke up. They moved
apart, and realized that their relationship wasn’t going to work, well
from Adam’s perspective. The two of them still stayed in touch,
having a subtle relationship and talking occasionally about life and
Alvin.

It had been years since Adam last came in, and Natalie strongly
encouraged Adam to meet his biological son, who was no baby any-
more. Adam knew it was going to be uncomfortable, but agreed to
it anyways. Natalie’s family was having a birthday party for Alvin,
who was turning six, at the park.

Adam strolled up in his rental car to the park, accompanied
by his gift.

He walked up to the park, in which a picnic table was sur-
rounded by adults, drinking beer. The kids were off playing away
from the table.

15

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
“Adam!” shouted Natalie, running up and giving him a hug.
“How have you been? Adam, this is—”
“Hey, hey. How are you all doing?” He greeted Regina and
Albert, after finishing the hug with Natalie.
“You wanna met your ahh—Alvin?”
Adam nodded.
“My parents are over there if you’d like to say hi.” Natalie and
Regina scurried off. Adam looked over at Natalie’s parents, who
were sitting in fold-out chairs. He decided to just stay there next
to Albert, as he waited for the women to go fetch the birthday boy.
“How’s it going, Al?”
“Alright.”
Adam nodded, realizing the conversation was over.
“Look who I found!” Natalie pushed Alvin forward who
was resistant. Regina watched from behind smiling. “Alvin, this is
Adam.”
Adam held the present behind him, but he could feel himself
trembling. He crouched down to Alvin’s eye level. “Hi, Alvin. I’m
Adam.”
“Hi,” the child responded.
“Well, Happy Birthday.” Adam handed him the gift.
Alvin’s face brightened up, and grabbed the present. He shook
it, and the gift rattled. “What is it?”
“What do you say, Alvin?” Regina stepped in.
“Thank you,” he said, reluctantly. “Can I go back now?” He
ran away.
“Wait, Alvin. Come back. We’ll open presents, and cut the
cake. Kids! Come on over. Cake and presents!” The pack of kids flew
over, with the parents meeting them.
Everyone met at the picnic table. Regina and Albert discussed
whether to have cake or open the presents, but eventually announced
it was time for presents.
Alvin went through the gifts, rapidly. He got action figures,
sports equipment, and others, like Adam’s gift. Some gifts brought
excitement to him, but one’s like Adam’s Lego set were just thrown
to the side. All of his joy was contained for one gift. A wooden gun

16

SHORT STORIES
that shot rubber bands. This filled Alvin with wonder. “Whoa! I can
be like Stonewall, now!”

Adam’s face got sour as the other parents laughed.
“We almost got him a BB gun, but we’ll wait a few years for
that—”
“Then the real thing,” some parents went back and forth.
They sang and ate some cake, but Adam stood disturbed for the
whole process, just thinking over everything. He eventually got time
with Natalie alone, after the whole cake passing was all through.
“What’s the deal with Stonewall?” He asked her.
“Just a war hero. He likes stuff like that.”
He shook his head.
“What?”
“Ah, I think I gotta go soon.”
“Aww, so soon?”
“Yeah, got to see my family.”
“I was hoping you’d get to spend some more time with your son.”
“Well, he’s kinda not my son.”
They hugged once more, and talked a bit more. But after that,
Adam disappeared from Natalie’s life, and also Alvin’s.

35

Adam got home from work. It was a two bedroom home, but almost
always empty. He spent most of his time and effort at work. That
was his life, 60-70 hours a week, more or less. A date from a dating
website, here or there, but no more special.

He would get letters from Natalie talking about her life. She
was married now, with a few kids. Adam was happy for her, because
she definitely seemed happy. She would send him a Christmas card
every year, which he appreciated but never held onto. They knew
they were more than an ex-couple. An ex-couple who had a child
together, though not their child anymore.

Alvin was talked about, to Adam, in those so-called letters.
The letters came less frequently with Natalie’s marriage and children

17

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
adding to the equation. Alvin wasn’t the center of her attention any-
more. Still, Adam encouraged the information she provided, because
even though Alvin didn’t know it Adam knew who he was.

Adam took off his suit jacket and loosened his tie, tossing the
jacket on his steps. He grabbed the television remote, turning it on,
and checking the channels. He saw references to World War III on
the news broadcasting, disappointing him since he only wanted to
know about the weather. He was worried the first frost might be
coming, and it might go after his very few plants in his backyard.

He tossed the remote on the couch, and hid behind his bar.
He poured himself a neat whiskey, staring at the television, showing
numbing repeated presentations of politicians and soldiers. His stare
dried up his eyes, and had to look away, rubbing his eyes.

He took a hearty sip, and rubbed his five o’clock shadow.
Looking up, he watched the television from the side of his eye. To
his luck, the weather report came on.

41

Adam was shopping one day, and ran into a woman a few times. She
was a few years younger than him, but they really hit it off. He met
her about a year ago, and they were living together, engaged to get
married. Her name was Sabrina, and she brought life back into Adam.

He still had the same home, but there was more life, but less
empty and much less quiet. His 70 hour work weeks were halved,
and money wasn’t something he was worried about. He was sad
occasionally, but Sabrina made him overcome it.

She sat down at the dining room table across from Adam,
reading the newspaper. She slide a plate of toast in front of him,
buttered and all.

His eyes peeked out from behind the paper. “Thanks, honey.”
“Babe, why read that stuff? Just depressing, boring stuff.”
“Gotta know what’s going on in the war. Not depressing, just
gotta keep an eye out and stuff.” He put the paper down, looking fully at
her. “Gotta make sure your safe. Safe from all these bombs.” He smiled.

18

SHORT STORIES
“You might just have to take me away to safe, special spot.” She
copied his grin. “Might as well start making a family, now. While
there’s still a world left.”
He shrugged. “You brought up some valid points.”
“Oh!” she stood up, and left. But came back a moment later.
“This came yesterday.” Sabrina handed him a letter.
Adam held the letter, from Natalie, softly in his hand. He hes-
itated for a moment.
“What’s wrong?”
He paused, then quickly shook his head, to justify that nothing
was wrong.
“Read it, honey. I’ll give you some space.” She turned her back
on him, and muttered. “You better hurry, though. Gonna need your
help in the shower.” She turned back with a smile and a wink.
Adam grinned back, but focused back on the latter. He opened
it, and read it.
As he read the letter, his face went from his happy smile to
stern concern, concerned to worried. His hand covered his face,
dropping the letter to the table. He stared at nothing as he eyes
began to well up. His head fell into his hands, catching his tears of
his silent sobbing.
The letter was only about Alvin, and the details of his funeral.
At the earliest possible moment, he joined the military. Adam knew
this, and respected it, but he grew worried every single day that his
biological son was out there in the war. He knew there was a chance
he may never see him again. Adam kept an eye out for anything. He
was building the courage to finally see him again, and let him know
who Adam actually was.

Mat Byerly graduated from Robert Morris University with a Bache-
lors of Arts in Applied Mathematics, and he is a M.F.A. (in Creative
Writing Fiction) dropout. He has several short stories published

19

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
(“Boys” published in Adelaide Magazine’s Spring 2017 Edition,
“In My Head” published in July 2017 for Subtle Fiction, “Home
Alone” published in the 2017 aois21 annual, “In My Shoes” pub-
lished in LEVITATE Literary Magazine, and “Men” published in
the Adelaide Literary Award 2018 Anthology), and a few poems
published in August 2017 for Scarlet Leaf Publishing House. He
writes screenplays, songs, short stories, and poems. He loves to write
stories with strong internal conflicts, but has a tendency to write
humorous material as well as strange, unconventional stories. He
has a strong passion for connecting music with literature in innova-
tive ways. He is currently seeking representation for his novel “The
Moments Between You and Me.”

20

Uncle Don

By Tim Rodriguez

Hearing the coon dogs reminds me of Uncle Don. Somewhere in
the wooded distance, the pack suddenly stops howling. The silence
is unbreakable. It speaks so clearly about what is in store.

Uncle Don’s relationship to my family was never established.
My father and mother addressed him as uncle. But none of my rel-
atives in the south had any idea who Uncle Don was.

Exactly who he was can best be answered by naming some of
his associates: Father Brown, Chief Inspector Jansen, Sam Spade
and Lew Archer.

Uncle Don assisted High Constable Joseph Cox in uncovering
the Macdaniel conspiracy; he taught the Chevalier Dupin how to
catch a suspect with a cleverly worded newspaper advertisement.

Sometimes Uncle Don had to deal with such scum as the Mos-
quito or Speed to apprehend the likes of the Ripper or the Garrote.
But of all the villains, the greatest escaped him. Death claimed Mori-
arty before Uncle Don could get him.

I met Uncle Don when we moved to the city. Because of our
temporary status, I didn’t attend kindergarten. Rest assured, though,
I was in school, and Uncle Don was the headmaster. He looked like
no one I had ever seen. He was as spindly as the corn growing in a
drought and his limbs were as flappy as the leaves on the stalk. His face
was so gaunt every bone cast a shadow. In his wide lapel suits he wa-
vered much like the July heat on a paved road. He spoke with a woeful
conviction, as if everything he said was a pronouncement. The way
he locked those black eyes on me forced me to listen to each syllable.

21

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
At first I shied away from him, but since I had no brothers or
sisters at the time and wasn’t allowed out unless supervised, I over-
came my reservations.
The time I cherish most was when he brought me a .38 police
special. The whittled piece had a black shine that led my mother to
believe it was real.
“The best never need one,” he told her and the steered me
through the living room, his sinewy hands digging into my skull.
On the sidewalk I stooped to get out from under his grip. I
slipped on my Davy Crockett coonskin hat. I flicked the tail to make
sure it wasn’t snagged on the leather fringe of my buckskin coat.
Uncle Don allowed me a moment to arrange myself, then he
stepped back and said, “Yes ... Yes, if not the ensemble, then cer-
tainly the sullen low beat of your eyes, leaves no room to doubt ...
But here, give me your arms.” He rolled up my sleeves a good four
inches to free my hands. He tucked the wooden pistol in my belt
and zipped the coat halfway
“You sure you’re not too hot?”
The June day called for a light sweat at most, and I wasn’t
about to let the weather deny me a chance to wear my “skins.”
“Uh ... No ... No, it’s kinda cold.”
“Cold, you say. Try London. Raw as an egg this time of year.”
“I had eggs for breakfast.”
“The weather, my boy. The weather ...” His voice trailed. He
gazed across the street. “Not a day goes by that I haven’t effected
some important discovery.”
I didn’t understand what he said, so I stared at my shoes.
“You know what fish are, don’t you?”
I could feel his eyes. “They like worms.”
“Yes ... Yes, indeed, they do.” His voice drifted. “When you
fish for them, that is. But the fish I am speaking of swim into my
net. And usually sooner than later.”
“What net?”
Uncle Don answered by outlining the day’s mission. We had
to track down the nefarious Kamato, the sole survivor of a Japanese
spy ring responsible for murders in Hawaii, Detroit and Mexico City.

22

SHORT STORIES
“How?”
“Why, we find the House at Satan’s Elbow.”
“The what?”
He hushed me. His long nose edged upward. His mouth parted
slightly. He scrutinized an old woman leaving a brownstone across the
street. His vigilance lasted until she reached the corner. His eyes re-
turned to the door from which she left. “Ever notice how doors seldom
open fast? But when they do what can we infer? What can we conclude?”
“They scramble the eggs in London like we do here?”
“The door, my boy. The door. When it opens quickly what
does it make you think of?”
“It’s easy to open.”
“No. When it opens quickly? When a heavy door like that one
across the street, when it is opened quickly, what do you surmise?”
“Uh, surmise?”
“What do you think?”
“Maybe someone is late.”
“No!”
“It’s broke.”
“Something is indeed broken. And it’s usually the law.” His
eyes contracted. “See, she was at the doctor’s office. A doctor ...” He
strained his eyes. “A doc—A doctor Julian—Good, God! Could it
be? No, not Freke. No, it looks like French. Yes, Dr. Julian French.”
He spun around to me. “Remember this about doctors. They prefer
poison to punishment.”
I nodded vaguely. After a moment I asked, “What kind of eggs
did you eat in London?”
“Eggs?” he asked, confused. He desisted from his study of the
lacquered front door. “Eggs? Why I can’t recall ever having an egg at
221-B Baker Street. Of course, I was seldom—No, I was never there
for breakfast. We never got in until well past noon. Why do you ask?”
I shrugged.
“Strange that you should mention it, though. Did I ever tell
you how an egg, a hard boiled egg, was the key to the Smithfield
murder. It was a duck egg, not a hen’s, but to the—“
“Uncle Don, when are we gonna get this Kabuto guy?”

23

Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
“Kamato? Why follow the red thread of murder.”
We headed down to the corner. About every fourth step Uncle
Don grabbed my collar to keep me from outpacing him. We turned
down Second Avenue and wound our way through the crowd at the
produce stands. We covered three blocks before Uncle Don sud-
denly dragged me into an alley. He pressed me flat against a brick
wall. Out of his pocket he removed a shiny apple.
“Hey, where’d you—“
“A gift.” With a large pocket knife he sliced the apple, giving
me half.
“When’d you—“
“A vendor back there. Saved his wife’s life. Nasty business that
was. Adultery, Latin tempers. Messy, very messy. But they’re better
for it now.”
We ate in silence for a while.
“Uncle Don, how come you know everybody? You know Davy
Crockett?”
“Can’t say as I did.” With his thumb he pressed against the
roof of his mouth. “Arrived two days late. The Alamo was already
in ruins. The dead already buried.” In adjusting something in his
mouth he squinted, cocked the right eye and skewed the right end
of his lip until it was painfully out of kilter. Once the adjustment
was over he resumed his normal expression and said, “’Member the
blood in the sand, though. So much blood ....”
Not until we threw the cores on the sidewalk did we notice the
red paint. It wasn’t a true line. Probably someone had been carrying
a leaky paint can.
“As I live and breathe.” Uncle Don bent down and fingered a
dollop. He smelled it. “Blood. About an hour, maybe two.”
Even though I knew it was paint, I could also accept it as blood.
“We’re pretty lucky, huh?”
“Luck has nothing to do with it. Chance never leads.”
“Where’s Kabuto?”
“It’s Kamato. K-a-m-a-t-o.” He studied the street. “Not at the
end of this trail.” He added, with an eerie gaze into my eyes, “But
not far from it.”

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Before I could take a step I felt my coat draw up against my
armpits. Uncle Don had me by the collar. “No, now don’t be so
hell bent for leather. I want you to use that silent way you have of
noticing things.”
As soon as he released me, I hunched my shoulder and struck a
pose not unlike a turtle. With a fierce squint, I scanned the neighbor-
hood and fell in behind Uncle Don’s plodding lead. We followed the
red line around the corner. The blood ended on a stoop to a black door.
“All the fish come into my net,” muttered Uncle Don.
“What d’ we do?”
He examined the cars lining the street. “One of these is the
nefarious Kamato’s. It’s my—“
“I thought his name was Kabuto?”
“Kabuto, Kamato ... Potato, po-tah-toe ...”
“Well, shouldn’t we—“
“Look for which car is his?” He didn’t wait for a response,
“Exactly. It’s my guess he didn’t get a space up front. So we’ll skip
down four—no, three, and let the air out of the tires.”
“How?”
“With this.” He unfolded his pocket knife.
We didn’t have to rehearse. Our plan was easy. We walked
hand in hand until I pretended to break loose. Uncle Don caught
me between cars. Bending down as if to catch his breath, he slashed
the front tire of one and the rear of the other. It was so much fun
that we crippled the ten cars on other side as well.
From the alley in which we hid, you couldn’t tell all the cars
had been immobilized.
“Waiting’s the worst part,” Uncle Don whispered, as he peered
over two trash cans.
I suddenly had an uncontrollable burst of laughter.
“What’s so funny?”
“The people, when they find out their cars won’t go.”
“Good point. Now listen. We can’t give him time to discover
the tire’s flat. As soon as he gets in, we rush him. Got it?”
“But what if he doesn’t come out?”
“He’ll come out all right. He thinks he’s set the trap.”

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“He does?”
“Do you suppose the red threat just happened to be there?”
“Uh-huh.”
“Think again, Flamer. He knows we’re onto him. He’s come
thousands of miles, and how he can’t go any farther. It’s curtains.”
“Why?”
“Why? Well, it’s—well, imagine two men are running, one
right behind the other. Imagine what would happen if the man
in front suddenly stopped. The second man would fall into him,
wouldn’t he?”
“I reckon.”
“Well, you reckoned wrong. Because we won’t fall into his
trap. And remember this, the nefarious Kamato won’t fall until the
very end.”
The woeful weight Uncle Don placed on his remark deterred
me from asking any more questions about Kamato. “Was Davy
Crockett dead when you got to the Alamo?”
“Unfortunately. I rode with two hundred men. Complete
men, common men, men good enough for any world. We would
have made the difference; Travis, Bowie, Crockett and myself. We
would have been three hundred and eight-one against five thousand.
There would have been no doubt of the outcome.”
“What happened?”
“Those were the days before the telegraph could overtake the
murderer speeding away for his life.”
“Huh?”
“We didn’t get the word in time.”
“So Davy wouldn’t of died?”
“Probably not. But Davy, all the men—they died bravely. Un-
like the dastard Sir Julian Freke. Now there was a man with gifts,
but—“
“Mean like an apple?”
“A what?”
“Like the apple you got back there.”
“Oh! No. The gifts I’m speaking of are like your silent way of
noticing. God given gifts.” He sighted wearily. “But what a messy

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business it was with the vendor Arturo. He had no idea his wife had
betrayed him. Her first husband was in Germany when—“

Uncle Don swung his forearm into my chest. He peeked over
the can and whispered hoarsely, “This is it.”

A well-dressed, dark-haired woman rushed down the steps of
a brownstone across the street. Her shiny black shoes spun as fast
as bicycle pedals.

“OK, boy, lock and load.”
Uncle Don was too intent on the woman to notice the house-
wife four floors above us. She started to hang white linen on a line.
The squeaky pulley brought my eyes up to hers. Her smile stopped
at my black pistol.
“Let’s move it!” Uncle Don leaped between the cans, setting
off a racket upon which unseen dogs embellished.
We raced toward the coupe the woman had gotten into. She
slammed the Nash Rambler into a Buick Century, locking the bum-
pers. She tried to accelerate, flat tire grinding the cobble stones.
Uncle Don reached in, pushing her aside. He removed the
keys.
The woman shouted at him in a strange language. She didn’t
speak as much as spit her words.
“Save it for the judge, lady,” said Uncle Don. He opened the
door.
Too preoccupied with the woman, Uncle Don never saw the
swarthy man hurtling toward the car. I didn’t have time to warm
him.
The man lifted Uncle Don by the lapels and tossed him aside
like so much garbage. He didn’t bother to see Uncle Don land. He
ripped the woman out of the car and slapped her so hard he grunted.
He was ready to strike again when Uncle Don caught his arm.
“You’re under arrest, Kamato. Flamer, keep him covered.”
Kamato snapped Uncle Don’s grasps. He wheeled. He saw
my pistol before he ever looked at me. His ears wiggled from the
maniacal grin playing across his bearish face.
“Don’t, Kamato. He might not look like much. But then nei-
ther does a bullet.”

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Before Kamato had time to blink, much less charge, a police
car screeched around the corner. The officers flung themselves out
the doors, their pistols drawn.
“Drop it, kid.”
The other cop shouted, “Everyone on the ground. NOW.”
Kamato and I were cataleptic. Uncle Don started walking to-
ward the cops. “Now, just hold on there, boys. You don’t—“
“On the ground, mister.”
Uncle Don kept on coming. “If only you boys would read
your bulletins.”
With the police focused on Uncle Don, the woman made her
move. She crawled behind the car and dashed down the sidewalk. As
soon as Kamato saw her he crawled like Tarzan’s Cheeta and then
broke into an upright run. I cried, “Uncle Don.”
He didn’t bother to turn. “Boys, it’s your foot race, not mine.
And if that man gets away, it will be your tail, not mine.”
The cops looked at the fleeing couple and then at each other.
One shrugged and the other took off in pursuit.
It was just as Uncle Don had predicted. The woman broke her
heel and fell, Kamato was too close behind to change course or slow
down. He toppled over her.
A second police cruiser packed off Kamato and the woman.
Uncle Don and I were ushered into the back seat of the first car. On
the way to the precinct, the driver asked Uncle Don who he was.
“No doubt you know nothing of the nefarious Kamato, al-
though his deeds are legend. Similarly, my name would mean
nothing to you.”
At the stationhouse I sat on a bench in front of the desk ser-
geant, while Uncle Don went upstairs for questioning. A plain-
clothesman escorted him back thirty minutes later and told the ser-
geant not to let us out of his sight.
Until my mother arrived, I was never really frightened. She
appeared calm, only deigning to glance at us. She stepped up to the
sergeant as if he were a clerk at a department store.
The sergeant made a phone call, and one of the officers who
took us in came downstairs. My mother and he talked briefly, on

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occasion both shooting glances at us. When they walked over to us
Uncle Don stood while I remained seated, gripping the edge of the
wooden bench.

The cop told my mother he was releasing us into her custody.
A decision about criminal charges would be made later.

Uncle Don said, “Officer, I lived outside the law for more years
than I care to remember, but I have always worked within the law.
So desist from this imbecilic notion of reprimand and tell me what
you plan to do with Kamato.”

The cop bristled. “We’re questioning Mr. Perez.”
“I imagine the authorities in Detroit would have some ques-
tions of their own. And what about the woman?”
“His sister. She had nothing to do with the robberies. She was
trying to get away. She’s lucky you happened along when you did.”
“Luck had nothing to do with it.”
My mother’s chest rose, her eyes flared. She was about to say
something to Uncle Don but then suddenly swung toward me. “Just
wait till your father gets home. Then we’ll see how lucky you are.”
My father didn’t live up to his advanced billing. He took me
into the bedroom on the pretext of spanking me. “You held him
off with a wooden gun?” I nodded contritely. He patted me on the
head.
Two days later he paddled me in earnest. It took a day for all
the car owners to discover the damage and another for the police to
make the connection. Although Uncle Don paid in full, my parents
weren’t appeased.
They confined us to the church playground across the street.
We sat on the bench directly across from the apartment. When my
mother pushed back the curtains all she could see was our backs.
What she couldn’t see was the new .38 Uncle Don was whittling.
To pass the time Uncle Don recounted some of his exploits.
“But I knew it had to be Willie, the Wiley. The burglaries all
had his signature.”
“But he was in jail, right?”
“Exactly. Willie was in jail. Had been ever since I collared him.
So you can imagine the puzzlement. Here we have a rash of high-

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wire burglaries, and the man renown for such jobs is in jail. So what
did I do? I went—“

“Took a nap.”
“Right. How’d—Have I told you this one before?”
“Cuz you had to get up real early. Like one o’clock in the
morning.”
“Yes, one o’clock. I went down to his empty cell and waited
until he finally appeared at three o’clock. Crawled right out the cell
window, he did, and slipped back in just like the snake he is. I—“
“And you didn’t have to check the reports the next morning to
know a burglary was committed, right?”
“Exactly!”
“Too bad they called you back to Sherlock’s place.”
“Yes, I know. Crime does indeed spread a man thin.”
It took a week to carve the pistol. By then my mother’s
vigilance was spotty. We came and went as we pleased with im-
punity.
From the very start of our adventures Uncle Don had his
suspicions about a house two buildings down from ours. Ac-
cording to the gold plate beside the door it was the residence and
office of Dr. Julian French, a name Uncle Don suspected was an
alias. The true resident was no other than the diabolical Dr. Julian
Freke who gave the body of one of his victims to an anatomy class
to dissect.
Our stakeout was a basement stairwell across the street. From
this vantage we noted the comings and goings at the building.
Strangely no man ever left the premises.
At exactly 10:34 on the morning of our second day of sur-
veillance a haggard woman approached our lookout. When it be-
came clear she intended to come down the stairs we hugged the
dark corners. Her lumpy legs negotiated the descent so woodenly
that before she reached the landing Uncle Don jumped out in the
sunshine.
He clicked his heels and bowed with a majestic sweep of his
hand. “Mademoiselle Hortense, welcome. Funny we should meet
again across the street from the office of famed neurosurgeon.”

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The woman’s face stretched like gray clay. She screamed.
We scrambled up the stairs, bowling her over.
I reached the corner first. As I turned to see where Uncle Don
was, he raced past me. He ran out into the street, waving his arms
wildly. Until a taxi stopped, I thought he had lost his mind.
We rode in silence. After a while Uncle Don had the driver
drop me behind the church. He told me to stroll through the play-
ground using that silent way I had of noticing things. If I saw the
street was clear, I was to go directly to the apartment and not leave
until I received further instructions. I asked where he was going. He
didn’t reply.
Before I reached the bench, the taxi was gone. In the days fol-
lowing the encounter with Mademoiselle Hortense I conceived of
a grand battle taking place: Uncle Don pitting his wits against the
wickedness of the woman. They fought like Titans on a secret field
far from my neighborhood, and the average man wouldn’t learn of
the outcome for years to come, maybe never.
To assist Uncle Don I continued to keep the doctor’s office
under surveillance from the apartment window. On the hour I went
to my bedroom and radioed him. Because his transmission device
had been knocked out, he couldn’t respond. This went on for three
days. By then my mother, thinking I was desolate without my side-
kick, walked me to the playground. I kept sending coded reports
but eventually my enthusiasm waned. In the end I even gave up
totting my gun.
Uncle Don came for a brief visit the end of the second week.
He ignored my questions about Mademoiselle Hortense and her
world of evil. We went to the park bench. I flitted around him,
doing all the talking.
We went back to North Carolina the following week. In part
because of the Kamato caper, my parents considered leaving me
with my grandparents in Apex. My tears prevailed against that
idea.
Upon our return we received a call from the hospital.
I sat in the lobby with my coonskin cap on my lap. Eventually
my mother stepped out of the elevator and came towards me.

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Before she could say a word, I blurted out, “Who shot him?”
“No one.”
“It was Mrs. Hortense, wasn’t it?”
On the elevator I experienced a sensation of being hammered
to the floor. As the doors drew back, I lunged for my mother’s hand.
We walked down a stark corridor and stopped at a block of light in
an open door.
“Mom ...?”
She knelt and held my hands in hers. “It’s OK. He wants to
see you. You were his partner.”
The dark hooded the dim light over the bed. Uncle Don was
on his back, tubes running into his nose and flowing into his arms
and side. A peculiar smell made my nose crinkle. My eyes teared. My
father moved to the window and turned his back on us.
“Cut it out, boy,” said Uncle Don in the same voice I remem-
bered.
I got as close to his bed as I dared. “Who got you? Who did it?”
His breathing began stertorous. “No one ...”
“It was the Hortense woman, wasn’t it?”
My hand slipped under the covers and found his. His grip was
weak and wet.
“No one. It was no one. It was a foolish old man’s dream ....
Only got us in trouble.”
“But what about Kabuto? What about the others. We got Ka-
buto, didn’t we? You said they put him away for good.”
His hand fell from mine. “There never was a Kamato. It—it
was all—“
“But there was,” I shouted.
“Flamer!” My mother rested her hands on my shoulders.
I swung toward her. “But there was, Mom. There was. Cuz I
helped make the pinch. Tell her, Uncle Don. Go on, tell her.”
Uncle Don, his eyes shrouded in gray, turned to stare at the
ceiling. His mouth parted.
The silence, that unbreakable silence, moved through the
room. Only Uncle Don could break it.

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Timothy L Rodriguez has published in English and Spanish. His
novel—Guess Who Holds Thee?—is available on Amazon. His fic-
tion and poems have appeared in over a dozen national and inter-
national journals including New London Writers (UK), honorable
mention in international short story competition sponsored by The
Writer’s Drawer (Israel), Main Street Rag and Heyday Magazine
and Stoneboat Literary Journal (2017 Pushcart nomination). His
essay The Problem Now will appear in the 5th edition of New Theory
and his poem “Mid the Muster on Main” will appear in the Spring
issue of AMP by Hofstra University.

33



Don’t Let the Sun Go Down

By Riley Bounds

Men in corpsepaint shrieked whispers into his ears of the death of God
and man’s submission to the Negative One. The world moved around
him behind a veil of parchment, dreadful ambience. His breath was
caught by something clinging to his face, a mask, suffocating him. He
couldn’t hear himself to call for help; only wolves come for help.

The Man and the Accused

1The man parked the sunbleached SUV out beside the road, some two
hundred feet away hidden in the green spires of saguaro cacti. A col-
lared lizard scurried into a creosote bush as the man rounded the vehi-
cle’s back. He’d removed the license plate once they crossed a few miles
into the desert. 2He opened the back hatch and grabbed the accused
by the crook of his arm and cast him to the ground from the cargo
holding. The man pulled the length of a chain from the trunk. 3He
tested the zip ties around the accused’s hands and ripped the canvas
sack from the accused’s face and flung it behind them in pluming dust.
4He lashed the accused’s head back with a length of chain and wrapped
it four times around his neck, slick with sweat. He fastened the hook of
the chain into one of the chinks along his neck 5and tore the earphones
blaring death metal from the accused’s ears and threw them with the
media player into the trunk. He shut the hatch.

6The accused struggled at the chain cutting into his throat.
“What’re you – doin’ to me?” he strained.

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7“Stand,” the man said.
“What?”
The man held the revolver out three feet from the accused’s ear
and fired a round into the sand beside him. The accused cried out.
“You hear that?” the man said. “Now stand.”
8The accused held the chain at his neck as he rose, shaking. He
faced the dirt road. The man stood behind him, holding the end of
the chain in his left hand and the gun in his right. 9“Now walk,”
the man said.
10The accused quivered and stood still, gasping against the
chain. Then he took an unbalanced step forward and fell to his
knees. 11The man wrested the chain back and choked him. The ac-
cused managed to get to his feet again and walked forward. The man
followed about ten feet back. 12 They started along the Camino del
Diablo as the sun cauterized the horizon. “Where’re we goin’?” the
accused asked.

“I got him, Dad.”
“What?”

“I got him.”
“Got who?”
“Him. I made his bail.”
“. . . Oh my God.”
“Dad, I got him.”
“Oh God. Oh, my boy.”

“. . . ”
“Oh my boy. Oh God.”

The Camino del Diablo

1The road to perdition was wide and the breeze spit embers in their
faces. 2The man tipped the plastic canteen back and swished the
water in his mouth before swallowing. The accused’s breath rasped
and grated. He looked out from the road to the Agua Dulce Moun-
tains setting the distance. 3“Where,” the accused slurred, “where’re
we goin’?”

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“This isn’t right.”
“It doesn’t matter what’s right.”

“To anyone else it does.”
“This isn’t about anyone else but her.”
“And you think this is what she’d want?”
“She can’t want anything. She can’t feel or need anything.”
“Then how will you live with yourself? What then? How will you sleep
knowing all you are is what he is? Worse than he is?”

“I don’t sleep anymore.”

The Vulture’s Shadow

4Bloated hillocks of sand clawed and fell to valleys lined with brittle-
bush and globe mellow and bur sage. Along the jagged rises prickly
pears and saguaros and buckhorn chollas climbed to escape, but
there was no escape from this. The man once saw a Gila monster
sunbathing on regolith near a thicket.

5When the accused would get too far ahead the man would
yank the chain back and almost send him into a fall, and when there
was too much slack he’d whip the chain against his back. Blood built
about the bottom chinks around his neck. His lips began to dry and
crack. 6At times he would look to the morning star overhead and
whisper, “Where’re we goin’? Where’re we goin’?”

7The man saw a shadow on the bloodstripe periphery, and he
looked and saw a vulture about a mile off beating the wall of the sky.

The Helicopter

1The accused ascended the rim of a rockslide and stopped. The man
took up the slack and beat it against his shoulder. The accused wa-
vered but stood up, looking off in the distance.

2 The man listened. There was a thrumming somewhere far off
and steadily advancing. The man furrowed his brow and squinted
under the light.

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3All at once the accused cried out, “Help!”, his voice carrying
along the plain.
4The man ran up the rise and tackled the accused. 5 They rolled
in a flurry of whipping chain and dust down the embankment and
off into the dry bed of an arroyo. 6 The man rolled atop the accused
and straddled his torso. He looked about for the revolver and re-
covered it from under the accused’s side. He took hold of the chain
again and scrambled up the side of the gully and peered over the
edge. 7Out beyond the reverberating heat striations a white United
States border patrol helicopter scouted some three quarters of a mile
away, maybe five hundred feet above ground.
8“Help!” the accused screamed from the arroyo bed.
9The man skidded down the embankment and put his foot on the
accused’s chest and aimed the barrel at his head. “Do it again,” he said.
“They’ll hear you,” the accused snarled. “Help me! Please!”
10The man threw the gun away and picked up a rock the size
of his fist from the gully bed and struck it across the accused’s cheek
and jaw. 11The accused choked on his blood until he coughed it out
with the shard of a molar. He didn’t call again. 12The man listened,
holding the rock poised to strike. The drone of the blades grew
louder, and then faded, and then it was gone, 13and the world was
silent save their breathing.
14The man stood and hauled on the chain until the accused
was on his feet. Bloodstrings drizzled at the corner of his mouth and
down his shirt, broken capillaries and dusking cheek. 15 The man
retrieved the pistol before pushing the accused up the embankment
and back to the Camino del Diablo. From the south clouds began
the first sequence of liturgy.

Shigionoth

16It was the day of baptism, the drip of cleansing and the incense of
petrichor, falling temperature and congealing sand.

17The arroyos and channels flooded. 18The man saw a young
muledeer swept along one of the currents, bobbing and flailing its

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legs about before it was taken below the surface. 19The man walked
on and after some time he looked back for the deer in the water. It
was gone.

The Dunes

1The sins of a desert bighorn were stripped away in the wash. The
man saw them, white as bone.

2They had come into the dunes in the late afternoon. The vol-
canic fields were five miles south. They found shelter under an out-
cropping of igneous. The man had tried to start a campfire but the
brush was too moist.

3The accused lay shivering towards the mouth of the recess. The
rain ran hollow at the opening. The man had coiled some slack of
the chain around his arm. They lay with their backs to each other.
The gun rested in the crook of the man’s arm.

4The accused looked over at the man. He didn’t stir. 5The ac-
cused turned back and worked his hands slick with rainwater against
the zip ties. The plastic bonds gradually slipped down his wrists
to his metacarpals. He looked back at the man again. He didn’t
move. 6The zip ties slid down his fingers and fell to the sand. He
unhooked the claw of the chain and set about freeing his neck. 7As
he unspooled the last two lengths he pulled the slack and it tugged
the man’s arm. The man moved and rolled to face him. The accused
cast the chain away and ran into the rain.

8The man rose with the pistol in hand. 9He went to the opening
and fired a shot after the accused. It missed. 10The man ran after him
as the sky compressed.

11They ran alongside an arroyo where water seeped over the
edges as the tide screamed past. The accused staggered through the
clotted sand. 12The man aimed after him and fired. The bullet en-
tered his shoulder. The accused yelled out and fell by the channel.
The man made his way to him. 13The accused crawled towards the
current, glancing back at him. 14The man reached him and took hold
of his shoulder and flipped him onto his back. He shot blind. The

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bullet beat through the accused’s right quadriceps. He belted ache,
and it carried in the rain.

15The man pistol-whipped himself three times and screamed, “I
can’t take it!” He paced around the mire as the accused lay writhing.
16“I see her when I walk down the street,” the man cried, “and I’ll see
a girl with blonde hair, and I’ll wait for her to look back at me until I
know it’s not her, ’cause what would she think of me?” His lip quiv-
ered and his voice broke. “What would she think of me?” he asked
himself. He stood away and looked for God between the mountains.
17“It should’ve been me,” he said after a while. He turned back to the
accused, shaking. 18“It should’ve been me. Then she could’ve gone
on and found . . . someone . . . better.”

19They were silent between the pelting rain and the accused’s
rasps. The man laughed, quavering. 20“I need a cigarette,” he said.

The man hung his head, revolver at his side. 21“I didn’t see her,”
the accused rasped. The man looked from the ground to him. The
current roared, guttural. 22“I swear,” the accused said, “I swear on my
life I didn’t see her, man.” 23He winced as he pressed the bleeding
hole in his thigh. “For days, I just . . . kept . . . hearing it . . . the
sound, when we hit.” 24He couldn’t stifle a sob. “When they got me
out,” he cried, “I looked up . . . and there was just . . . fire all along
the front of her car.” He heaved and sputtered, “I’m sorry.” And he
cried. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

25The man looked at him. Something caught his eye beyond
them. A vulture was perched atop the black igneous, watching.

“Do you believe in God?”
“. . . She took me to the mountains once. . . . I believe in God

when I see mountains.”

The Caldera

1The rain stopped sometime before dawn. The man had hogtied
the accused overnight with the chain. He unbound his legs at first
light and they trekked on like before, 2the accused chained by the

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neck with the front slack of the chain bound about his hands. He
couldn’t walk straight; every time he stumbled forward he seemed
that much weaker, pallid, pneumonic. He hunched for the bullet in
his shoulder. The man didn’t whip him anymore.

3They came upon the Pinacate Peaks as the sun bled fire over
the Earth. They ascended the rim of a crater. 4The accused strained
every breath and fell more than once against the loose rock. The man
watched him. 5The accused rose to his feet and stood until he was
balanced enough to move on. They climbed toward God. Toward
something.

6When they reached the summit the man said, “Stop.” The
accused did. He stood breathing against the pressure of the chain.
7“Kneel,” the man said.

8The accused shook as he dropped to his knees, overlooking
the ashen cavity. He was crying and held in sobs. The man cocked
the revolver as quietly as he could. He stood over the accused. There
was a silence there; the land was watching.

9“What about my mom?” the accused said. His face was twisted
and stained with tears. “Who’s gonna buy my momma’s groceries?”

The man held the loaded gun and watched him, a tear splitting
his cheek.

10“Oh my God,” the accused sobbed, “please don’t do this.”
11The man watched him cry at his feet, and he cried with him.
“Why do you act like I can just move on? Like she never existed?”
“You’ll always have her. You’ll always have her in the mountains.”

“. . . ”
“If you do this, you’re gonna keep her burning in that car the rest of

your life, and you know it.”
“. . . ”

“I believe God took her home. God takes all His children home.
You can see her again.”
“. . . ”
“Please, son.”

“Did it ever occur to you that maybe He lied?”

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12The report caromed down the crater wall and across the flat-
land. The accused collapsed down the barranca 13and rolled among
the slag and ash. In blood and dust he was part of the land.
14The man stood atop the crater. The sun ascending bore wit-
ness.

The Eclipse

1The man traipsed the dunes. He hung his head, lost in some thought.
Just lost.

2He stepped on the diamondback and it flailed forth and bit
him around the ankle. He fell onto his back, screaming and cradling
his shin. The snake migrated along the sand. It was always there.

3The man exhausted his canteen trying to irrigate the venom.
He stayed on the trail until the dehydration took his senses. 4His
ankle swelled two feet around, and the skin began to rot, his veins
drumming blood and venom. 5He dragged himself across the dunes,
moving towards the mountains.

6The man scaled the apex of a hillock and let his head fall
back. The sun and searing light. 7He fell to his knees, and then to
his side. 8He rolled onto his back and squinted into the sky. A flock
of vultures circled above, umbra in the sun. 9They cast their shadow
on him.

Riley Bounds was raised in Alex, Oklahoma. He earned a BA in
Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma and
is currently pursuing an MA in Philosophy from Talbot School of
Theology. He plans to do doctoral work in theology. He resides in
La Mirada, California.

42

The Yellow Mustard Theory

By Wayne Hall

Most residents of Faulkner County frequently recall, with a smile
or shaking of their head, the day the Ferris wheel broke free at the
county fair. Even sometime later, it is talked about by old men on
park benches while discussing fishing and local politics and whis-
pered between friends on padded pews as church bells chime, but
for Claude Peterson, it is the second most eventful memory from
the fair.

Claude had been an insurance claims adjuster in Winslow
Arkansas for most of his adult life. He had also been married to
Mary his high school sweetheart for approximately the same amount
of time. For some people, both may have sounded mundane, but
Claude enjoyed the familiarity of his family life and career.

The Peterson household ran with the efficiency of a well-oiled
machine, reminiscent of a timepiece designed by a skillful clock-
maker. It was not only from Claude’s genes that his twin daughters,
Shelia and Sandra, inherited their passion for being punctual or
their fear of change. Claude’s wife Mary was also known for running
a tight ship around the house. Breakfast and dinner were served
at the same time each day, except Sunday. The can goods in the
pantry were alphabetized as were her handbags and shoes in her
closet, which were labeled by designer name. Every Wednesday she
served meatloaf for dinner and had since before their two daughters
were born, seventeen years ago. Claude and Mary made love every
third Thursday evening. When they both were younger, it was every

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Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
Thursday, but at the age of forty, they both decided to concede to
the one change in their lives.

On a cloudy Wednesday in September,Claude looked out his
office window onto a somewhat deserted town square. The gray sky
cast an almost eerie tone across the concrete landscape, which caused
Claude to shiver and think of the coming winter. At precisely noon,
he sat at his desk and opened a brown paper bag; the brown bag
contained his lunch that Mary had lovely packed for him the way she
did every day. As if in deep thought, Claude stared at the sandwich
bag without blinking. It was not the brown paper bag that caused
him to pause, but the note attached to its side. The note simply read,
“Babe, we were out of mustard, so I added mayo instead. Hope
that’s okay? Love Mary.” For as long as Claude could remember
he had eaten a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread for lunch,
and for as long as he could remember each of those sandwiches had
contained mustard, not fancy mustard, just plain yellow mustard.
Feeling disappointed, Claude tossed the sandwich, bag and all, into
the trashcan next to his desk before walking out the door.

He walked sluggishly along the sidewalk more troubled by the
lack of mustard on his sandwich than he cared to admit. Three blocks
away he happened upon a small storefront restaurant with large plate
glass windows. Above the windows, a faded blue sign read, “The
Diner.” Claude had driven past the restaurant every day on his way to
work, but had always chosen the more economical choice of eating a
sandwich at his desk. Feeling that he was expanding his horizons and
thinking outside the box, he threw caution to the wind while turning
the doorknob under the faded blue sign. The door opened with a
loud clanking sound caused by a tarnished copper cowbell attached
to the entrance with a strip of leather and an eight penny nail. Several
customers turned to look before returning to their plates, containing
whatever was the special of the day. He quickly found a table in the
corner covered with a red and white tablecloth that looked to have
been resurrected from the 1960s. The tablecloth appeared sticky,
possibly from syrup spilled by previous customers, and the menu
yellowed from age, but Claude felt good maybe even proud that he
had stepped outside his normal boundaries.

44

SHORT STORIES
“Be with you in a sec!” A short dumpy waitress shouted while
giving a nod in Claude’s direction.
“I’ll take the new table,” an angelic voice with a southern ac-
cent declared from the kitchen area.
She entered from a hidden room, where the sounds of pots and
pans being cleaned and meat being cooked could be heard but not
seen by patrons. She wore faded jeans, not tight but fitting, and a
green t-shirt with “The Diner” written in white across her bosom. As
she sauntered toward Claude, she pushed her dark-rimmed glasses
higher up on the bridge of her nose. She wore her blond hair pulled
loosely into a ponytail; in the front, just a small portion fell into her
eyes that were as blue as the sky on a fall day.
“Hi, my name is Beka. I’ll be taking care of you today,” she
said while peering over her glasses.
For a moment Claude forgot what he had read on the menu.
His mind was numbed by Beka’s perfume that was bold but not
overwhelming and smelled sweet causing him to think that honey-
bees might give chase when she walked out into the afternoon air.
Claude looked into her blue eyes and panicked that he could not
make a decision . After what seemed hours, but was only seconds,
he blurted out, “vegetable soup with cornbread, and sweet tea.”
Thinking he may have stared too long, he dropped his eyes to the
table.
“Soup and cornbread it is,” she said with a smile.
When she returned with his tea, her hand touched his ever so
lightly, or did it? He could not tell for sure. “No, it did,” he thought,
and he was almost certain it was on purpose. The thought of their
hands making contact warmed him more than all the vegetable soup
in the world.
At precisely 5:30 that evening, Claude sat down at his dining
room table next to Mary and across from his daughters, but Claude
only picked at his meatloaf while the rest of the family talked about
their day. His mind sifted through the earlier events, still angry
about the mustard, but mostly he thought of the waitress, and the
way her perfume had lingered in the air, and how she had touched
his hand, or at least he thought she had.

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Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
The next morning, Claude took an extra ten minutes getting
ready for work. For a long while, he worked at creating the perfect
comb-over before trimming his bushy eyebrows. He even found
an old bottle of cologne he had not used in years and applied a
little before leaving the house. When the clock struck noon, a bag
containing a ham and cheese sandwich could be found in Claude’s
wastepaper basket next to his desk. The sandwich was on white bread
and covered with yellow mustard. Three blocks away, past a large
paned window, under a faded blue sign that read, “The Diner,”
Claude sat at a corner booth talking to a blond waitress who wore
dark-rimmed glasses.
On the same Wednesday that Claude first discovered no mus-
tard on his ham and cheese sandwich, eighty seven miles away in
Mena, Arkansas, Bernie Stillwell’s hand shook as he filled out a
job application. He worried over how he would answer question
number seven on the application? If it came up, and he knew it
would because it always did. It was the only question he had left
blank.
Bernie sat across the desk from a balding man with a handlebar
mustache that seemed to move more than it should when the man
spoke. Bernie nervously wrung his hands in his lap while the man
behind the mustache read over his application. Bernie needed the
job. In the past three years, he had hung drywall, painted houses,
and worked as a cashier at an all-night gas station, and that was just
the ones he could remember. What he did remember was that they
had all ended the same.
The balding man behind the monstrous mustache cleared his
throat before speaking. “I see you left question number seven blank.
I guess there is a reason and maybe even a story behind that deci-
sion?”
“Yes sir, I guess there is,” Bernie answered while wiping sweat
from his hands. He thought of trying to come up with a convincing
lie, but his lies had never been that convincing. He looked the large
overbearing man in the eye, or at least he tried to look him in the
eye but could not bring his stare passed the mustache that seemed
to grow larger as he spoke. “The truth is sir, I have been known to

46

SHORT STORIES
drink a little. Well actually, I have been known to drink a lot. Over
the past three years, I don’t know how many jobs I have lost because
of it, but it has been a few. I haven’t had a drink in a month, and
well, I need this job. If I don’t get it, I don’t know what I will do.”

The balding man’s voice took on a softer tone as he cleared his
throat before placing the application on the wooden desk that sat
like a great wall between the two.

“Bernie, I will be honest with you,” the big man said. “There
are about a hundred red flags waving in my brain right now, warning
me not to hire you, but I’m a man who believes in following his gut,
and my gut tells me you are a straight-shooting kind of a guy,” he
said while touching his large belly. “Wilson Carnivals was started by
my dad over fifty years ago, and we take great pride in presenting
a family setting at all our events. For the next few months, we are
going to be as busy as bees. We have ten county fairs to put on. If
you can stay off the bottle, we would be glad to have you be a part
of our little traveling family. You can start by learning to operate the
merry-go-round, and from there we will have to see.”

The two men shook hands. Bernie felt an ease come over him
that he had not experienced in a long while. His hands had stopped
shaking, and he thought he would never drink again.

After two weeks of tossing his lunch that Mary made for him
into the trash and spending his lunch break at the diner, Claude
had finally worked up the courage to ask the waitress for her phone
number. During that time he had also learned that Beka was re-
cently divorced, and she showed little hesitation in the fact that he
wasn’t.

Claude was surprised at how little guilt he felt texting Beka late
at night while his wife was sleeping next to him, possibly dreaming
of rearranging her closet or the can goods in the pantry. The waitress
made him feel excited and young. He soon found himself thinking
of excuses to spend more time away from home. A few days later,
Claude and Beka shared their first kiss in her car behind the diner.
The next evening Claude and his wife performed their ritualistic sex
while Mary watched the clock on the wall, and Claude thought of
Beka and the way her lips had tasted.

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Adelaide Literary Awards Anthology 2018
In the weeks following, Bernie developed into a full-fledged
Carnival worker and felt more peace than he had in a long while.
He had not had a drink, and his eyes and thoughts were more clear
every day. He had been promoted from the merry- go- round to
the tilt-a-whirl; he enjoyed it more, and the faster pace of the ride
suited him better.
“I want you to know I am very proud of you,” the large man
with the mustache said while handing Bernie an envelope with his
week’s wages inside. “You show real potential in the carnival busi-
ness, and when we set up next week in Worley, I want you to be my
new Ferris wheel operator. It may not be as fast as the tilt- a- whirl,
but it is the biggest ride we have.”
Bernie did not know what to say, so he nervously stood while
shaking the boss’s hand accidentally knocking the chair over with
a loud clank. This great news would have given a reason for a drink
just weeks prior, but now his eyes were bright and his hands steady.
An oddly felt distance had grown in the Peterson household
that possibly only Claude could detect. At the dinner table, he on
one end Mary on the other the space between the two measured only
six feet but could have been a mile. He watched as his families daily
activities appeared unchanged, but his waking hours were consumed
with excuses and lies that could afford him time away from the
house, time that could be better spent with the waitress.
On a cool evening, the wind gently moved a rusty neon sign
that read, “Mystic Mountain Motel,” allowing a pale blue and or-
ange light to float across the thin bedspread atop the bed where
Claude and the waitress lay. The room smelled of, cheap merlot,
and cigarettes, but the new lovers were content and unwilling to
move. Claude lit another cigarette watching its end glow red in
contrast to the waitresses pale skin. He had never smoked, but since
the waitress did, he had picked up the habit while in her company.
A slight twinge of guilt spread over Claude as he thought of Mary
and the girls, and how they would be going about the evening in
their usual fashion. The girls on their computers or watching a movie
while Mary more than likely worked on her scrapbook. The guilt was
short lived and faded at the sight of the waitress walking naked across

48


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