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Gary Clifton

     We were staked out in a grocery-store. Six months, I'd pension out.      Two guys burst in. One shoved a revolver in the cashier's face, a shotgun bulged beneath the other's hoodie.
     I hustled down the storeroom, behind them. "Police," I shouted. Bullets shattered overhead.Washington shot-gunned the shooter's face up the wall, then took off half the partner's head. Washington knelt, stunned. "Oh Christ, I thought..."
     "Me too," I said.
     I made retirement. Sometimes I can go several hours without thinking about that twelve year old kid, head blown off, a damned stupid tailpipe extension clutched in his hands.

Gary Clifton, forty years a Federal officer, has an M.S. in psychology from Abilene Christian University. He published a novel in national paperback, Burn Sugar Burn (publisher's title) and has short fiction pieces on several online sites. Retired, he lives on a ranch fifty miles north of Dallas and patiently waits to see if rain ever falls on Texas again.

     Lying poolside, on the chaise lounge, the truth of your tanned body opens toward the sky’s Delft blue bowl. The Palm Springs air, thirsty for a hammering rain, drinks you in. You’re pleasantly amused by my untimely confession. Married yesterday, now with my best friend’s last name, you smile at my hushed invitation to leave him and run away with me—NOW!
     When David returns with the drinks from the hotel bar, you coyly sigh to him, “Oh honey, this one is much too sweet. Could you be a darling, and run back to the bar to get me another?”

Brad Rose was born and raised in southern California, and lives in Boston. His poetry and fiction have appeared in print and on-line at: Boston Literary Magazine, San Pedro River Review, Off the Coast, Third Wednesday, The Potomac, Right Hand Pointing, and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at: www.bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com. Brad’s novelette, Lola Loves Richard, a tragicomedy, set in contemporary Hollywood, told in 6-sentence chapters, is in progress at http://lola-loves-richard.blogspot.com/.

Bubbles and Illusions
Mary Ann Back

     Trixie, the bubble dancer at The Palace, was Ozzie’s favorite escape. For years he’d been drowning his troubles with double shots and paying the pretty blonde for a tumble in his bed. There, sharing broken dreams, they snubbed a world determined to spin without them. She’d leave his loft at daybreak, taking with her the only sun he’d ever known. In time, Trixie’s opaque bubbles and feathered fans gave way to younger, artless sirens who left nothing to the imagination. She took the redeye home one night, leaving her bubble behind. Rattling inside her suitcase were Ozzie’s hopes and dreams.

Ms. Back of Mason, Ohio, was awarded the 2009 Bilbo Award for creative writing by Thomas More College. The characters she creates are often disreputable and not to be trusted. She kicks them out of the house every chance she gets when some unwitting publisher agrees to take them off her hands. Her writing has appeared in many publications, including: Short Story America, Every Day Fiction, Bete Noire, Apollo’s Lyre, 50 to 1, Flashes in the Dark, A Twist of Noir, Flash Fiction Chronicles, and Screenwriters’ Daily.

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