Flash Fiction, Robert Ragan

Far away love reminded me that white hearts mean nothing when someone else flashes dollar signs.

To get attention and give birth to jealousy, my emotions were sacrificed.

But then I found someone closer; a certified sweetheart of the struggle. Dollars and cents didn’t matter to her. But then again, I was doing my thing and we had everything we wanted.

So what if I was poisoning the community. Trust me, they would beg for the venom.

Taking a late night cruise, we were always paranoid. Every car behind us had to be law, just had to be.

There was no way fate or destiny would allow us a happy ending. Yet, we dropped the cure off on the boulevard and stopped to pick up breakfast. We took it back home, ate while watching our favorite show, then fell asleep. Our happy endings were adding up.

My demons escaped my brain using my ears and nostrils as their exit. Outside the skull prison they take their full shape. Towering as they looked down on my love and I.

They want to take all my power.

Swim in all my blood as I die.

But first they had to come between us; she could go her own way. Just as long as she left.

They love to have me all alone, with no one to talk to.

An instrumental, that sounded like a song of doom, played when we were together. Only we couldn’t hear it. The sound kept everyone wondering, it kept everyone taking bets on when she would turn on me, when would she show me her lying colors.

We were together the night three patrol cars pulled into the driveway. I panicked, like what the fuck is going on? Going straight for the stash, hoping I could hide it before they came to the door.

No such luck, I was doing my thing. This was supposed to be our year. But now I was fucked.

The door was unlocked, the bastards didn’t even knock. In no time, two of them led me down the steps with my hands cuffed behind my back. The neighbors were outside watching.

Behind me my love was crying, telling me she was gonna find a way to come get me.

Booked, I had my mat. Got dirty looks just as soon as I stepped in A Block.

In a four man cell, I was locked up with three low lives. They thought I was fresh meat. They were gonna run all over me.

But they saw differently when I refused to give up my dinner tray. Told the motherfuckers I wasn’t gonna starve! Hell no, I would fight for mine.

I laid down on the top bunk staring up at the ceiling. I knew she was out there trying, but my love couldn’t get me out of this.

I closed my eyes and convinced myself that it was all a dream; I’d wake up the next morning in bed beside my woman and say, “Damn babe, I had this crazy dream that the law ran up in here and took me to jail.”

Instead, I woke up the next morning in the same cell. Same low life bastards plotting on me. I knew it wouldn’t be long before all three of them jumped me.

I couldn’t call my love on the phone, but on the 6th day one of the guards handed me a letter.

I smelled her perfume as I watched the page unfold,

It was how the story was told,

It was how the soul was sold.

Tear stained, it was full of promises she couldn’t keep.

But it made me feel loved just for her to make them. I’d never hold it against her when they were broken.

I read that letter a hundred times a day until the next one came. Wouldn’t you know one of those low lives had the nerve to snatch it out of my hand.

They laughed and passed it around playing keep away. I stood there not playing along.

Instead, I clenched my fist and swung on the one who ripped the letter out of my hand.

Knuckles met his nose, bleeding as they were introduced. Stepping back, I had my hands up waiting for the other two to move in.

They looked at each other as their buddy lay on the floor with bloody hands covering his face.

I could tell they weren’t sure if they should fuck with me or not. I said, “Come on you bitch made pussies! I’m gonna at least knock one of you out cold. Now, give me my letter and leave me the fuck alone!”

They refused, so I went after the one who held it. Guards busted into the cell, but I got one last punch in and you better believe that low life felt it.

Hell, I would have fought it out with the guards but they shocked me with a taser right out the gate.

Sent to solitary confinement, I never got my letter. That alone was enough to crush me. I needed to read every word she wrote. To feel her there with me,

to keep me strong during this struggle she didn’t know anything about.

Sitting there all alone in this dim cell. I knew they couldn’t keep me there forever.

The bitches who stole my letter, when I finally got out and went back to general population, I’d give them all hell. But right then I was so down, oh well.

Days went by, all alone, not even a book to read. It was just my thoughts and I.

In my head, my love had already moved on, so easily. She was probably getting fucked by someone else in the bed we shared. I was a fucking fool, believing her whole heartedly, when she said she cared.

No, fuck that and my mind for playing tricks on me.

She was probably all alone too; with a pen in her hand and tears in her eyes.

I remember once telling her we’d be alright, and someday watch all of our fears die.

I hadn’t given up on that promise, yet, but first I had fears I had to face all alone.

I swore it wasn’t real. No, I had to be dreaming when they came and told me to pack up, that someone had paid my bond.

Yeah, it was too good to be true. They told me to pack up and took me back to general population. I was still on A Block but not in the same cell as those three low lives.

Still, I made it a point to let ’em know I’d be going right back to the hole soon.

Right in front of everyone in the whole room, I said, “Give me my fucking letter back and I might let it slide.”

The bitch, whose nose I broke, told me they gave all the guys on A Block her address. He said she was everyone’s favorite pen pal.

Me? I shook my head and laughed out loud. “That’s ok, you all win, right? Just know that next time I’m gonna punch you dead in the throat and try to break your fucking wind pipe!”

Wouldn’t you know not long after that the guard came and brought me two letters. I read them both and yeah, they weren’t bullshitting.

Sure enough, they had a gang of convicts writing to my love. A bunch of sexually explicit letters.

But we all saw who she was writing.

I made sure to stay in line and go with the flow long enough to write her back. Explain to her that I didn’t sell our address to any lonely criminals.

I told her not to write to me, for a while. That I was gonna deal with the motherfuckers responsible for all this happening. Then they sent word that letters were the least of my worries with them knowing where my love lived.

They had people out there who would pay her a little visit. All they had to do was give the word.

Now they’d taken all this to a whole new level. I’d probably never get out now cause I swore I would kill them.

Couldn’t write that letter fast enough. The one where I told her to move out and go live with her mother until I got out of jail. Said it’s probably just bullshit but these guys have threatened to have someone go where we live and hurt you.

I couldn’t take any chances. Now I couldn’t get back at them violently. I needed to haunt A Block and keep in contact with them so maybe I could figure out what they were planning.

My court date finally came. Fuck, things didn’t go my way!

Instead of going home soon, I was about to go to prison.

I just hoped that my love would be ok.

It was 18 months; damn, could she wait? I didn’t even care if she moved on and found someone better. I just wanted her to be ok.

She mailed a letter to the Greene County Correctional Facility once a week for 18 months.

When my time was finally up, she was right outside the gate. With a fat blunt rolled up with some fire.

My love waited for me, through everything.

If only this were real.

Well, the sadness wouldn’t be eating me alive right now.

Far away love reminded me that white hearts mean nothing when someone else flashes dollar signs.

He’s jealous and he pays her attention now that my heart has been sacrificed.

Stole everything but her heart by Robert Ragan

Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

Leslie Madison had to let Terry Charles go. If not, she would have been stuck in the cycle of addiction forever, and she could never have a damn thing.

It was bad enough that he allowed her to support him plus feed his habits. But when she couldn’t, he took everything.

“Baby, I know I was wrong for selling the ring your grandmother gave you, but as far as that gold necklace with the heart-shaped charm, I don’t feel bad about that at all. Who was it from, by the way?”

“Doesn’t matter either way. You got to smoke the crack with me too, right?”

When Terry said that, Leslie’s mind took her back to the day her grandmother gave her this special gold ring. All the trees and flowers were in full bloom. They sat together outside on the swing and talked.

Leslie’s mother chose to go on the run with another outlaw. While her father served a life sentence for multiple armed robberies and attempted murder.

So basically, her grandma was her mother, and that ring meant the world to her. So damn right she smoked the crack with him. Her tears falling on the can weren’t strong enough to put out the sizzling melting rock.

Leslie had her mother’s piercing blue eyes. The same long dark hair. Unfortunately, she also had her addictive personality and poor taste in men too. The only difference was Leslie would work and take care of herself, while her mother wanted everything handed to her from a man.

Her father couldn’t keep her high and still give her all the other fancy things she wanted and look where it got him. Thinking of her dad, Leslie figured he would probably have ended up in prison, even if he had never met her mother.

Terry brought up her father after the time he borrowed her car and sold the stereo system, plus the rims off of it for crack.

Leslie said, “First of all, my father wasn’t such a pathetic thief that he had to steal women’s jewelry. From what I hear, he was a violent ruthless bastard and would have fucked you up for breaking my heart the way you do.”

Terry was close to being a skeleton, with sunk in raccoon eyes and horrible teeth that told him of his addiction. 

It was sickening to hear him say, “We’ll, ya daddy can’t save you, so just hope he doesn’t drop the soap, ok sweetheart.”

That day Leslie showed Terry she could save herself when she got up and left his sorry ass.

What a fucking bum; Terry wouldn’t work anywhere.

Hand jobs, blow jobs, and foot jobs. He once said those were the only kind of jobs he liked and damned if he wasn’t telling the truth. Always so quick to want to mess around, only it wasn’t very attractive the way he sat around and wouldn’t even clean the house while she worked all night at the diner.

By the way, plenty of men wanted her more than a late breakfast. It would have been nothing to leave Terry and move on.

Leslie stuck by him through everything, but when she decided to get sober, it became clear that she had to let him go. He lived in the trailer she rented, so she had to make him go.

Leslie broke the news to Terry on a rainy Saturday morning. She said she was leaving to spend the day with friends, and when she returned, she wanted everything he owned out of her place. 

That evening when Leslie got back home, she saw that Terry had not only removed his belongings but some of hers as well.

This loser stole her T.V., laptop, even her fucking couch! Leslie could understand the electronics, but who on earth would sell someone’s couch for crack cocaine?

Only Terry Charles could pull off such a thing. And this time, Leslie didn’t go out searching for her stuff in pawn shops and crack houses. She didn’t even file a police report.

Terry could have it all just as long as he left her the fuck alone.

Phobia of Knives by Robert Ragan

Flash Fiction, Robert Ragan

Phobia of Knives

The man had a fear of knives; that was only one of many reasons why Jerry shouldn’t have been allowed out in public.

Butterfly knives, switchblades, steak, and hunting knives; Jerry feared them all. It wasn’t the ex, who once stabbed him in the arm with a pocket knife, or the crackhead who pulled out a butcher knife and robbed Jerry.

No, it was the little old lady next door who asked him to bring her an apple and a paring knife. When he walked back into the room, Jerry saw himself slam the blade right in the top of her head, turning all her gray hair instantly red. He handed her the knife, desperate to get it out of his hand. Ever since, he’s been terrified of knives, hoping he never picked one up and did something he couldn’t take back.

This was a silly phobia since knives were only one of the many weapons he could use. For example, had he not thought of mowing down innocent pedestrians with his car?

Well, yes, he had, and Jerry didn’t just stop driving.

He fights those thoughts. The people in his life thought this was just an excuse for his laziness.

His last ex couldn’t believe he was refusing to peel potatoes for her safety. Like all those before her, she got lost.

Jerry had turned himself into a recluse, never leaving home unless he absolutely had to.

Nobody needed to know his morbid thoughts of murder, which came in a variety of visions.

Sometimes, Jerry could see his fist clenched and pounding into someone’s face until there was nothing left but their bloody skull. Other times, his hands would be wrapped around someone’s throat, squeezing until their eyes burst from the sockets.

It was all too much.

Online he read something about the act of stabbing someone being a substitute for sex.

Yeah, that made sense, he couldn’t stab his fat cock into the open wound between every woman’s legs, so it made him want to plunge a sharp blade in and out of someone’s chest.

But how would that explain his urge to invite someone to dinner and poison the food?

Jerry needed to kill, and it didn’t matter how. It was something he felt compelled to do.

Murder was the “New” sex, and he was a born-again virgin.

Staying away from everyone and giving up his dreams was for their sake. He was in complete misery, lonely, and losing touch with reality, but he did the right thing.

It just wasn’t cool to go around killing people. It said it right there in the ten commandments.

Jerry had lived a terrible life and broken them all, but he’d be damned if he turned into a murderer.

“Thou Shall Not Kill.”

And Jerry wouldn’t; he just had to stay as far away from people as possible.

He hadn’t eaten in days, and one night sick from starving, Jerry was forced to leave his tomb.

If it weren’t for his rich parents, Jerry would have probably already killed someone in today’s competitive workforce. He had the world handed to him on a silver platter, but he could never live it up, for seeing the severed head of a pretty brunette laying on that silver platter.

It was just too much.

Walking around the grocery store, he kept running into this cute blonde. Everything was fine until they met in aisle four. All he saw were kitchen knives, butter knives, steak knives, and butcher knives.

The blonde passed by again, pushing her cart, and Jerry saw himself grab one of the knives and chase her around the store screaming. He’d hold up the chase to stop and stab other customers. It would be the worst shopping experience of their whole lives.

When Jerry came back to his senses, he was staring at the chick’s ass. That was it, forget eating he had to get out of there. Jerry looked like a child who just threw a tantrum and took off running out of the store. He was on the way to his car when he heard a calm voice say, “Slow down.”

It was a tall man, wearing a black overcoat, standing there flicking the ashes from his cigarette. He said, “What’s wrong with you? Did you steal something or see a ghost?”

Gasping for air, feeling the panic, Jerry said, “I’ve got to get out of here.”

The man, with short hair and a beard, asked if Jerry would give him a ride across the bridge. Despite his murderous impulses, Jerry really wanted to help this guy. It wasn’t until they got in the car that Jerry thought of bashing his head in with the tire iron in the trunk.

Before he could start the car, the man pulled out a pistol. He told Jerry, “I’m not going across the bridge. You’re gonna drive me far away from here.”

Jerry, pulling out of the parking lot, said, “Christ man, you don’t really want to do this.”

The man said, “I’ve just killed a couple of people, don’t make me kill you.”

Everything the man said made Jerry feel a lot better. He asked the guy, “So, did you want to kill them, or was it just a robbery gone wrong?”

Jerry said, “I’ve been robbed by a crackhead before, only he had a butcher knife.”

“By the way,” Jerry said, “What kind of pistol do you have there? “

Jerry already had this killer feeling uncomfortable. Then he said, “I’ve been thinking of killing someone myself. “

Jerry asked the man, “What it was like to see all that blood and know it’s your fault?”

The guy decides to go with plan B. Lifting the gun to Jerry’s head, he said, “Pull over and let me out.”

As the man ran away into the cold night, Jerry yelled, “I knew you weren’t a real killer. Come back….kill me before I kill someone!”

Three Poems from Robert Ragan

Flash Fiction, Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

received_693844004723804 (2)



I never had a father figure

My old man was always locked up

now he’s in the grave.

So, here I am among my brothers

To be down, I must face them all for one minute

To these tattooed trailer park savages I look like raw meat.

They have me surrounded

Rushing in, they all swing on me

Punches connect with my face, back and ribs.

I fight back, but quickly run out of breath

A punch in the sternum doesn’t help.

I fell down and one of them started to stomp me

Before the others stopped him and said to let me up.

Back on my feet, I feel blood running down my cheek

“Jesus Christ,” I say.

It feels like it’s been a good 15 minutes

A member keeping time on his phone says,

“There’s 15 more seconds.”

Backing away from them

I put my hands up.


That Things In The Car


Nancy had all intentions of being a good mother,

She made everyone believe her life was pointed in the positive direction.

Then she left her two-month-old baby in a hot car while she went inside a dope spot and bought smack.

On another blistering hot day, she left the baby boy so she could go in the grocery store and pick up a few items.

High she roamed around the store in a daze.

Until the manger came over the loud speaker asking who owned the red 4 door Ford Focus in the parking lot.

She was terrified seeing the cops outside

Waiting for her…




“How much pain are you in on a scale from one to ten?”


Grabbing his lower back John howls in pain.


Trying his best to produce tears,


He says, “It’s about a billion, Doc!”


Every time he visits the E.R, his name is brought up on a list of potential addicts.


Once he went into a rage when prescribed 800 mg Ibuprofen.


Hospital security had to call the police to come and remove him from the premises.


Guess the poor guy will have to buy his opiates off the street.


The prices are steadily rising…


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

Not Backing Down by Robert Ragan

Blue Collar Noir, Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

received_693844004723804 (2)

Not Backing Down


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vivian asked him, “Are you threatening me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Cut From A Different Cloth by Robert Ragan

Blue Collar Noir, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

received_693844004723804 (1)

Cut From A Different Cloth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck my life!

Come Get Me by Robert Ragan

Crime Fiction, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

Come Get Me

An artist, I draw guns on small time dealers making their little re-up. Stuck up assholes, treating their friends like shit until they’re crying to their buddies saying, “Fiends pulled a stick up on me.”

Even with drug problems, I’m dressed nice. Still with money in my pocket and my ears to those places decent people won’t go.

I always hear so and so is talking shit. Someone sent word, said tell me my name tastes like pussy in their mouth.

“Sending word back,” I said, “Tell ‘em soon it’s gonna taste like blood.”

THC gangstas, Dirty White Boys. Anybody can get it if they’ve got it and I want it.

I’ve been lucky so far. Running into bitches not willing to die over their product.

Great! Cause I swear I don’t want to hurt anybody. Get my ass whooped almost every time I fight.

Anyone else with a gun on ‘em would smoke somebody first. Not me, but the way things are going, I’m gonna have to pull the trigger.

My name is on a lot of people’s hit lists. Just the other day someone warned me to stay away from a certain part of town. Said if I get caught out that way, I’m getting my head busted wide open, if not something much worse.

Little no name gang at least put out a warning. Some people claim it’s going down on site if they spot me anywhere.

Motherfuckers act like I’m a recluse in isolation. Terrified to come out. Hell no!

So, tell whoever’s talking shit to come get me! I already know it’s inevitable. So, who will be the first to make me pull the trigger? I’ve gotta do what I gotta do.

Started out breaking into the dope spot. Flipping everything upside down. Sometimes we found drugs plus cash and guns too. Other times we didn’t find shit.

When I say we, well, back then there was my partner, his girlfriend and me. Marcy was a thieving bitch, but once we introduced firearms to our game, she wanted out.

Lester couldn’t let her go, so I told him to go back to playing middleman and cashing bad checks.

Those two will still be breathing once I‘m buried and covered with worms.

I know it’s coming. When my time does come, whoever it is better be ready.

I’m always watching my back; a scared man is a dangerous man.

They better remember to watch their back!

They’ll see me face my fears if I go broke.

So fucking real, they can’t stop me. That’s why those cowards make threats. I hear ‘em all, even pick it apart when they try to say something slick.

If they’re ever brave enough to do all the shit they talk about, I’ll be ready.


Not That Mean by Robert Ragan

Blue Collar Noir, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

it's only art

Not That Mean


What am I doing? So in love, I’m starting to question my own morals. Yes, even criminals have morals.

One time, I was forced to pull a gun on someone. It was during a burglary, my best friend and I thought no one was home. This friend, who I’m sure would rather me not mention his name, told me to shoot this guy. But being the kind person that I am, I just couldn’t do it. Instead, I just grabbed the barrel and whipped its handle across his cheek. Instantly, blood started gushing from his face.

We both just ran. If we had stuck around any longer, I would have passed out cold at the sight of blood.

That was the worst thing I ever did. The stealing and selling dope, I knew it was all wrong. After getting away with assault with a deadly weapon, karma would have gotten me if I hadn’t stopped right then.

Going legit, I got a job as a painter. Working a day job meant having to go to sleep at a decent hour. Even worse was having to wake up early to the sound of an alarm clock. Sometimes, so tired and worn out, it feels like I’m dying. Still, at the end of the day, I’m making an honest living.

I never wanted to steal from anyone. Honestly, I was being a sorry piece of shit. No, more like the whole turd.

Every day I still worry about getting caught up. Till my last day, these crimes could always catch up with me. Right now though, I’ve got a lot on my mind.

Again, what am I doing? So in love, I’ve been ignoring all the warning signs. I went and fell in love with a single mother. Now, I can’t stand the thought of anyone else ending up with Ellen.

Her long blonde hair, deep blue eyes, and just the sweetest voice. Sunny and cheerful but you should see the way she acts behind-the-scenes. Bitch done raked her long manicured nails across my face, clinched her tiny fist, and punched me in the nose the way a man would.

Another time, Ellen actually hit me repeatedly with a broomstick. My buddy, my old partner in crime who I still refuse to name, he would have said, “That bitch would hit me one time. After that, she’d be too scared to ever raise her hand at me again.”

He would never hit a woman unless she struck him first. Me? Most times, I can take the heat. Other times, I just get up and say, “Fuck you, bitch, I hope you die,” then leave.

I would go to work then crash at my cousin’s house. Every time Ellen would start texting me after a few days. Just to make her sweat, I wouldn’t respond for awhile. Before it’s over though, she’s calling and I’m always eager to answer it.

Honestly, the pussy is too good to worry about the broad beating me up. But, the way she treats her nine-year-old son Justin, oh man, a few times, I wanted to punch the bitch in the face.

The first time I ever went to her house, I had just gotten off work and accidentally sat down on her couch with wet gray paint on my jeans. It was obvious she freaked out, yet, she screamed at Justin! Ellen ordered him, “Go and get a wet rag!” But she told me, “Don’t worry about it it’s fine.”

When the kid didn’t come back fast enough, Ellen backhanded the child hard across the face! Right away I said, “Hold on! Don’t hit him, it’s my fault.”

She looked at me dead in the eyes said, “Don’t ever tell me not to hit my child.” her eyes widened, “My mother and father both whooped my ass. With his father running off to be with some stripper, that leaves me to give him double the ass whoopin’s.”

I looked at young Justin, his own blue eyes said he was suffering. A part of me wanted to say there’s a difference between whipping the boy and backhanding him across the face.

Really, I can’t help but love the little blonde headed bastard. He has his mother’s hair color but apparently he looks just like his father. I never actually called the kid a bastard, I tried my best to be good to him. Lord knows his mother wasn’t.

Like any other child, Justin cursed saying, “Fuck!”

I’ve heard of washing someone’s mouth out with soap, but this crazy bitch squeezed the bottle of Dawn, squirting dish detergent into Justin’s mouth. Damn kid swallowed it and ended up getting sick. I said something about it and she spat in my face.

Before leaving, I asked Justin if he wanted to go with me. Flying into a rage, Ellen said, “If you ever take him anywhere without my consent, I’ll have your sorry ass locked up for kidnapping!”

I said, “I try to be good to Justin, but sitting here watching as you lash his bear back with a leather belt, I can’t help but feel like shit. We’ve been together a while now and I’ve witnessed the kid take some pretty vicious beatings!”

Talkin about leather belts…well, Justin got the metal belt buckle across his back once. Immediately, I snatched the belt out of her hands saving him. Then Ellen focused all of her anger on me, it was that night when her tiny fist socked me in the nose! My eyes teared up and blood started to flow. I wanted to pick the bitch up and body slam her in the middle of the floor!

What am I doing letting this continue to go on? I can’t get the law involved because people like me don’t have shit to do with cops. I could report her to Social Services. But anything I do might have Justin taken away and placed in foster care. Nobody in his father’s family wants him. Ellen was an only child and neither of her parents would have anything to do with him. So basically, Justin doesn’t have anyone but his mother and me.

My buddy, who I used to sling dope and rob people with, he comes to mind a lot as I think about what he would say. If I told him about the way Ellen treats her son…well, I couldn’t take his advice on this one because he would say, “Kill the sorry bitch, wrap her in plastic, and dump her body in the river!”

Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. The more I think about it, I’m not really in love with Ellen.

Thinking about it even more, I don’t believe it’s the sex that keeps me around. As a matter of fact, I know it’s not. Not when the bitch pulled a knife on me!

I think I should leave Ellen for real, once and for all. But what about Justin? What will happen to him? I guess I’m sort of like his protector, but who in the hell is going to protect me?

To see Ellen out in public, she’s dressed to kill, very polite, and outgoing. You have to really get to know her before you learn how savage she really is. I’m still dealing with it all but I don’t know what to do. I’m far from a saint, maybe I pistol-whipped someone, but I could never be that mean to a child.


Robert Ragan

No Loyalty by Robert Ragan

Blue Collar Noir, Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

Everyone had their own God. A set of rules they lived by. Brent used to believe, but he was about to throw forgiveness out the window.

Jesus should have been able to handle his problem with Judas. A fistfight and the loser got crucified.

Brent, riding in the passenger seat, watched the world go on outside his window. Sunny, cheerful people were leaving the shopping center in their fancy cars. They didn’t understand what it was like having to deal with thieves and liars to get ahead.

Good for them. They deserved the peace of mind for doing the right thing.

You don’t see the people that Brent fit in with in the daylight. They’re mainly out at night with mangy, skinny, barking dogs, breaking the silence they moved in.

The driver named Larry asks, “Are you glad you’re out of jail?”

Scrolling through his phone, Brent says, “I kind of wanted to stay.” Larry gives him a strange look, and Brent says, “Hell yeah, I’m glad to be out! What the fuck you think?”

Behind bars, he got into it with a couple of black gang members, without a single member of his group to stand by him. These thugs made it hell for Brent.

Outnumbered, there was nothing he could do. But this only motivated him to deal with the bastard responsible for his incarceration. When the time comes, Brent will show him that he fucked with the wrong one.

Checking Larry, Brent says, “So what’s up with our people? Is everything okay?

Turning down the radio, Larry says, “Everything is fine.”

Brent studies his expression, then asks, “Has Sean been holding things down?”

Changing the subject, Larry asks, “What’s he going to do about their rivals setting him up?”

”Don’t worry,” says Brent, “I’m going to take care of it.”

First things first, he wanted a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes. Before walking in the store, he gets a call from Hendrix telling him to meet him at the warehouse.

This older man, always dressed in a nice suit and tie, was the mastermind behind all the groups criminal activities. Basically, he never got his hands dirty but still counted all the money.

Every hoodlum on his payroll knew they were getting ripped off, yet they still wanted to be in his good graces. Hendrix having your back during drama meant a lot.

Inside this dusty, abandoned warehouse, the lookouts were in place. Hendrix walks in wearing a long overcoat with Sean by his side in all black.

Hendrix spots Brent and says, “Welcome back, son!” Looking around at his men, he says, “Give him a hand, he took a lot of heat for us.” Each of them clapped their hands, but none as loud as Sean.

Hendrix motions for Brent to come near him. Standing there, he’s starts to worry when Hendricks tells him to stop playing dumb.

The boss says, “You know it was Sean who set you up.”

Stepping back, Sean says, “Bet you didn’t know Hendrix was the one who put me up to it.”

Shaking his head, Brent says, “So, all of you made me the designated fall guy.”

He had planned on scraping the skin off Sean’s face with a dull knife. Now he just wanted to blast everyone there, Hendricks more than any of them.

Outnumbered like he was in jail, there was nothing he could do. They’d already double-crossed Brent leaving him to do the hard time, the only thing left for them to do now was kill him.

The whole thing started with jealousy. Sean didn’t like Brent being at Hendrix right hand. The lies he spread eventually changed the boss’s mind.

For quite a while the warehouse was silent. Holding up his hands, Brent says, “Go ahead! Do whatever the fuck you’re going to do!”

Lighting a cigar, Hendrix says, “Sean told me about the money you stole from me.”

Looking at Sean, Brent says, “Goddammit old man, can’t you see this fucking prick is lying to you?”

Exhaling smoke, Hendrix says, “Why don’t you two just fight it out.”

Laughing hysterically and clapping his hands Brent says, “I told myself I’d get that mother fucker if it was the last thing I did.”

He stood there running his mouth, shit talking.

Sean didn’t look eager to start things off. Sick of all this pussy bullshit, Hendrix shoves Sean forward into Brent. They both start swinging but neither one of them connects with a punch.

Sean rushing forward, slips and falls on the concrete floor. Dropping to his knees, Brent begins to hit him in the face. When blood starts to fly, he grabs Sean’s hair and starts bashing the back of his head into the hard floor, over and over.

Brent says, “This is what you get for fucking with me!”

Hendrix saw enough, giving the word he says, “Shoot him!”

Larry, who picked him up from jail, raises his gun like others. They all fired shots dropping Brent to the floor.

Bleeding profusely, Sean tries to get up but stumbles. Finally making it to his feet, he says, “Sorry boss.”

Putting his cigar out, Hendrix says, “I don’t want to hear it!” Turning to his men, he says, “Shoot his ass too.”

Given the word, each one pulls their trigger filling Sean full of holes.

Blood covered the floor of this old, abandoned warehouse. Just like that, two major players in the group were let-go.

The remaining flunkies didn’t care which member moved up and took the top spot. All of them will stay loyal and do whatever the boss wants. They already saw what would happen if they don’t.

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

Robert Ragan

Switched Sides by Robert Ragan

Blue Collar Noir, Flash Fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

I’m standing in line at the Kangaroo Circle with a pink can of Seagram’s Spiked Jamaican Me Happy. Two of the cashiers are talking about someone who just robbed the store and drove off in a black Explorer.
Sure enough, two cops walk in the door wearing vests all in black.
Immediately, my heart skips a beat and I patted my pockets expecting to feel my glass bowl and an eighth of loud called Birthday Cake.
I’m relieved to have nothing on me.
I get high at home but don’t carry it everywhere with me anymore.

In a way, I’ve turned into a law-abiding citizen.
I listen to these two women tell these cops what happened and I say to myself, whoever you are I hope you get away with this. I’m pulling for you even if I give a fuck now and try to stay out of trouble.
Trust me, I once won ‘Petty Thief of the Year.’ I’d go in your car and steal all the change out of your center console.

I once was shot at after spotting a double-barreled shotgun in the back window of some old rednecks’ truck. Of course, he was smart enough to lock his doors. I stood there for a good twenty minutes trying to pick the lock with a knife. When the lights on the balcony came on, I started running and felt gunshots hit the ground near my feet. I spent the rest of the night ducked down hiding in the woods.
The good ‘ole boys teamed up with local hick cops to finally catch this bastard who’s been stealing everything not bolted down. They shined spotlights through the woods up and down the road but never got me that night.
I was in a small town doing small-time shit. But in my mind, I had a pistol and was out committing violent armed robberies. I even saw myself stab people.
I once imagined myself with a gun in each hand, and sticking the barrels to someone’s eyeballs and pull both triggers at the same time.
Did they or did they not see it coming?
What I always wanted to do the most was strangle someone.

Sadly, I didn’t have the heart to do any of this.
All these gory things in my head and I couldn’t even hold an unloaded pistol on a little old lady.
I sat in the car disgusted at the low lives I was with. I broke the law, but there were codes I didn’t break.
Still, you can bet your ass I helped them spend every dime of the older woman’s social security check she’d just cashed.
So, I wasn’t the one to pull a home invasion with guns blazing. It’s okay, I’d just wait till they left home and break-in. That was really better for both of us. I could take whatever I wanted, and nobody had to get hurt.
At the same time, I know the real money is in the bank and someone may have to be home to go make a late-night withdrawal.
There are so many contradictions in the game. Most times, you have to play every situation differently.
Listen to me…
Nowadays, I hold doors open for people. Last week I helped an older woman on a walker cross the street with traffic coming.
I’m an all-around good guy these days as long as my mind is obliterated on drugs and alcohol.
Still, I don’t have a problem.
Sometimes you see me drinking, then you don’t.
Sometimes I sniff pills, but I can stop anytime I want.
You see me smoking the best marijuana. And then you…well no, you always see me smoking that shit. If not, I’m somewhere raging at the world.
Having a job is the only thing that keeps my head above water, and I feel like I’m drowning there every day.

No matter how tough it gets I know I have to do it…working is the only thing that keeps me out of people’s shit.

They can leave their car doors, even the front door of their homes unlocked. Somebody might get you but nobody can say I did it.

A couple of years ago someone stole a car a town over from mine. Whoever it was terrorized the community.

The prints of a size 12 Reebok Classic were on front doors all over the neighborhood. Said three of them would storm inside and demand these people to give up everything they had.
They swore I was in on that shit! Too violent for me to mastermind, but I had to be in on it.
Funny how at the same time this was going on someone stole a honeybun and Twix bar at the store near my house.
Wouldn’t you know they swear that was me!
I’m like, I know they have cameras they’ve caught me stealing on them before.

This time the film proved I was innocent.
Hell, I know the three goons who went on that robbing spree, and I know who stole the snacks from the store.
I may be on the straight and narrow, but I was still pulling for them.
Just like I’m pulling for whoever robbed the Kangaroo Circle tonight.
I may have switched sides, but I’ll always be a criminal piece of shit at heart.

Bio: Robert Ragan, from Lillington NC, lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetryonline at Vext Magazine, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, and Terror House Magazine. Alien Buddha Press had published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales.

Robert Ragan