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My lily feet are soiled with mud,
With scarlet mud which tells a tale
Of hope that was, of guilt that was,
Of love that shall not yet avail



Silver Winter
by Bruce Brown

I find her wedding ring in a side shop on 27th. Three blocks from our apartment. Not even a real diamond. The ring is thin from twenty years on her finger. After a handful of tens, the owner remembers. Three guys, regular customers. I have time. I wait. I watch. In a month I know them–hangouts, habits, the beers they drink.

It’s time. Tonight. I pick the spot and wait.

It’s snowing when they stumble out of the bar hours after last call. Like drunken clockwork they’ll cut through the blind alley, cross 22nd, maybe breakfast, then separate for home.

Not tonight. Move a few bags of broken glass, a few trash drums, you have a barricade. Matches and lighter fluid and you have another homeless bonfire for the cops to ignore.

They see the fire by the time my car blocks the other end of the alley. Brights on as I get out. They talk hard. I don’t talk, I only think of the ring around my neck.

They rush me, and I hit the big one first. My fist sinks into his gut to my wrist. He makes a small noise, pitching forward, and I drive my forehead into his nose. He’s a bleeder. The skinny one and the short one hesitate. It’s enough. I pull the gun.

I’ve learned to hate guns. The sound vibrating into your skin; the metal taste of oil. This one is sleek, chrome plated, small enough for a purse. The kind of gift a man gives a woman that earns him week’s worth of cold bed. I remember teaching my wife how to shoot. The way she held the gun like it was like some delicate animal. The way the kick surprised her every time.

I fire. Between the glow of trash fire and the stark of headlights, the blood flickers red to black. When I reload only one is moving, crawling for the far wall.

He says something, begging, praying, starting to cry, but I can’t hear him. I level the gun.

“You live if you can tell me her name,” I say. “Tell me her name.”

His face blanks and I feel the ice move into my veins, crystals branching and fusing blood in muscle, muscle locking joint and bone. I hear the cracking of organs freezing solid, shifting against one another. The cold circles, its spiral moving toward my center until I know my heart has stopped. I feel the burn of it, the freeze, blistering and numbing under my skin. And it is a comfort.

“Happy Anniversary,” I say. Then I fire again and again until the only sound in the alley is the echo of a dry clicking.



Silence Manual – Assembly of the requiem for production.

My tongue is full of the hour. The hour
is blue-black with thick liquid. Houses,
dog shit stains,
blackened paper,
grass, — the day leaving them
unsilent, eating the night’s end
to begin.

I am silently alive silently dead silently unthere, here.

—Petra Whiteley



The Mill Pub
by Janeen Chabot

Words hurt, Elliot thought, but not as much as a quick hard punch to the throat. He lay on the floor gasping for breath. His tied hands made it impossible to rub away the pain.

“All I was trying to say…”

A kick to the groin shut him up.

“Don’t you dare talk about my brother like that. You will never be half the man that he was. It’s your fault he’s gone. You know it and I know it. You set him up and left him there to die. Deny it all you want, but if it takes every last breath I have, I will prove it. Until then, you are mine. Go ahead, try to speak again, then you’ll know the real meaning of pain.”

Was it worth it? Keeping him here for—searching her mind, she remembered–five days? Almost a week had passed since she had lured him to the basement with the promise of sex. It was so easy with stupid men. Good thing she didn’t have the kind of clientele that wanted or cared about wine. Yes, it was worth it. She knew her brother was innocent; well, not innocent, but he didn’t deserve to die like he did. This worthless piece of trash would pay dearly for Matt’s untimely death.

She threw some stagnant water on him and gently whispered in his ear, “I’ll be back.”

Elliot, being the kind of man who didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, said, “He’ll still be dead.”

Grabbing the duct tape, she ripped off a big piece and slapped it hard over his mouth. Then she struck him with the roll on his freshly sealed mouth. He gagged and she laughed. She thought about how her brother had said that duct tape was good in any situation. He was right.

The blood was warm and salty in his mouth. Elliot found it strange that he actually liked the taste. Of course she hadn’t given him anything to eat or drink in almost four days. Wait, was it five days now? That crazy bitch had kept him hostage for five fucking days. Women, they always got him into trouble. He should have known she was up to something. Calling him and asking him to come to her bar. Then the free drinks, the promise of “more” if he stuck around till after closing. Idiot, he thought, a big, horny, alcoholic idiot.

Climbing the stairs, she was actually invigorated, almost renewed. She went to the front door and unlocked it. The third shift crowd should be coming in soon. How could they drink so much at 7:00 am? Who cares, she thought. It pays the bills.

Detective Jaccard was already at the door as she opened it to let the stale, steel mill air in.

“Am I too early?” he asked. “I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing all night. Something isn’t making sense to me.”

She noticed that his face was cleanly shaven, his suit pressed, his shoes polished. He was looking damn good for this time of day. Shit, she thought, it’s not making sense to me either, but I’ll figure this out before the cops do.

“What’s bothering you?”

“Well, Elliot, the idiot, Crawford is missing,” Detective Jaccard said. “Missing for about three days now, as far as we can figure. You haven’t seen him or heard from him, have you?”

“Not since before Matt’s death,” she replied. “Would you like a drink?”

He shook his head. “Mind if I have a look around, though?”

“Absolutely, knock yourself out.”

She was so calm and in control. All that stupid yoga and breathing crap was paying off.

“Doesn’t this place have a wine cellar?” He knew the answer, but wanted to see if it would get some kind of reaction out of her.

“Oh, yeah. Haven’t really used that in years.”

“May I poke around down there?” The question sounded dirty, making her smile, although he clearly hadn’t meant it that way.

“Let me lock the front door and go down with you. I’m not even sure if the electricity still works. It’s been so long since I ventured down there. To be honest, I’ve been too scared to go alone.”

She gave him the flashlight and opened the cellar door. Detective Jaccard went down first. She grabbed a litre of Absolut. Holding it tightly in her fist behind her back, she waited for the right moment.  He reached the bottom stair and she lifted the bottle. Held her breath. Saw Matthew falling through the dark. Nobody was going to get in her way. Not even her future husband.



looking down

directional light beams

I can’t see
if my hopelessness is revealed

looking down, looking
I’m always looking down

it’s safe for me

I’m able to avoid myself




by Robert Crisman

Tonight, it turned out, they had a double. Nutcracker told them to be there by nine. Her voice cracked like acid on skin.

They went to the bathroom to make themselves ready. Michelle had a black dress. It would have looked slinky three weeks ago. Roanne’s slacks, meanwhile, now just sort of drooped off her ass.

Heroin, chewing….It got them through tricks and sucked up their flesh….

They didn’t say much as they dressed. Michelle stayed sullen and pissy. Roanne grew impatient these days at that act, more ready to bark at the passive aggression behind it. Yet she helped Michelle dress, with a careful eye too, solicitous, almost….

Roanne remained, in her mind, the mentor, protector. Her gestures of care were almost perfunctory now, but they came from a deep, lasting need.

When innocence is trampled, what’s left? Roanne’s had been trampled eons ago and buried in some unmarked grave. Michelle the innocent—remember?—had come into her life a bit like an echo of some long-lost spring. A faint, dying echo. Roanne didn’t recognize it as such, to be sure. Yet it stirred something in her. She wanted to gather Michelle, hold her tight.

There in the bathroom all that were left were echoes of echoes of echoes….

Still, out in the world, the war and men’s eyes, Roanne’s dream. Roanne would reshape men’s eyes and be Queen… She smoothed Michelle’s dress over thighs turning quickly to sticks. Her eyes took on focus, perspective, informing her hands, artist’s hands, as they honed, shaped, and kneaded the ghost….



You Know
(Excerpt from unpublished play)
by Quin Browne

Hope. Hope is a trojan horse, you know? Every day, you wake up, and it’s there, right there, looking at you…You reach out and touch it, wondering if you are going to open it, if it’s worth the effort. You kinda walk around it, lookin’, bendin’ over to see under, wondering what is there…and, you have to do it. You have to take the chance, to see if this time, if this time, it holds everything you wanted and needed. Or, if, once more, it is full of shit….



Jimmy Row
By Michael J. Solender

Cornered and bewildered by the harsh light he stops momentarily to assess his predicament. Wriggling in the mildewed corner where two columns of neatly stacked concrete blocks meet in the wall that configures my cell is a German cockroach. His slender conical shape is stymied by the lack of crevices in which to advance.

Antenna and proboscis search for both sustenance and retreat. He’s wary of discovery and will stop at nothing including sacrificing limbs, if need be, to escape.

We’ve got something in common. Survival it seems is destined to kill me too.

It’s Tuesday. Or Wednesday. I’m not sure and it doesn’t matter. I’m not going anywhere. Every day in solitary on the row is Tuesday or Wednesday. My cell reeks of the fear of those on either side of me and the bodily fluids former tough guys can’t seem to keep inside of their weak bladders and loose bowels. I quit hearing them whimper and cry the day after I moved down here amongst their self pity and remorse.

Pock marks and nicotine grime on the wall of my cell drink in the incandescent light and cast a lunar glow. It illuminates the expanse of void filling the four cinder block walls. The emptiness of the room is matched only by my hate and vitriol for those responsible for my being here.

Not my jailers, they had a job to do, I understand that. It is that slut of a wife and my lawyer. That those two never met is ironic given both of them screwed me up one side and down the other.

I take inventory of my cell for the tenth time since my arrival ten days ago. I have lots of time now to take measure my surroundings.

Waiting for the juice allows one’s mind to focus.

A cot. One foam rubber pillow.

Green linens.

Stainless steel toilet with no seat and no cover, open and inviting my piss, ever at the ready.

One small stool and a small table with three legs, none of which are equal in length.

Two paperback books, The Grapes of Wrath and Call of the Wild.

4 sheets of unlined paper and a stub of a pencil.

My friend in the corner had made his way to the base of the toilet and managed to wriggle under where it was bolted to the floor. My escape would not be as uneventful. I’d be leaving though soon, very soon, toes pointed up, as my keepers were fond of reminding me.

It’s morning because the gray glop on the gun-metal aluminum tray slid under the door is oatmeal. One level cup, skim milk, a plastic cup of O.J. sealed with cellophane, a bruised and mushy banana and lukewarm coffee. One plastic spoon. Two cigarettes and two safety matches.

I eat out of boredom, not because I’m hungry. My appointment is in three days. No stays. No appeals. No bleeders interceding on my behalf. This was fine with me.

They’ve already prepped me for how it’s gonna go down. They told me I’ll have an opportunity to make a statement. I don’t roll that way but I do have something to say. They tell me I can leave a note to the guy from the Times.

I don’t want to wait ‘til the last minute so after breakfast I grab the pencil and I write.

100 years ago what I did would have been considered justifiable homicide and I’d be praised by my neighbors and God fearing men alike. Today though, finding your wife in bed with another man calls for turning the other cheek and entering into talk therapy.

Some men might have turned the other cheek, but as the Bible said, Thou shall not covet another man’s wife. He was doing some pretty heavy coveting from my angle and the fact that I took them both out with one barrel ought to tell you that they were in pretty close proximity to each other.

My lawyer tells me we need to fight this one, don’t accept the plea; a jury is never going get me on first degree. I guess the time it took for me to walk back downstairs and get the shotgun after I’d seen them like that, all tangled up, not even noticing me, was enough in the jury’s eyes for premeditation. My lawyer tells me after the verdict, he’s “sorry.”

I spent a lifetime surviving, just getting by. I welcome the end now because it means no more scraping, no more surviving, no more just getting by. No more feeling sorry. No more feeling angry. No more feeling.

I put down the pencil. That’s enough I think. I stand and light a smoke.

The cockroach skitters across the top of my left boot. In one swift motion, I crush the little fucker underneath my heel.

Now he’s no more too.




Drapes darken the
    already dark
      my bedroom.

Chipping, chipping
     ping-ping, ping-ping
      from the wallpaper
      around the mural.

Gun in hand,
      nazi’s pigment
      faded with age.

Suicide happened
     twenty years before
      I stayed awake
      in this room.

—Mary Mills



Warsaw Moon: Part One
A disenthralled Serial

by Paul D. Brazill

The night had crept up almost imperceptibly and smothered the granite coloured day with darkness. The winter moon hung fat and gibbous as Tomasz blasted Ricardo’s brains across the ground and produced a more than passable Rorschach test; the splashes of blood black in the stark moonlight. A murder of crows scattered and sliced through the whiteness, as the purr of an approaching motorcycle grew to a roar.

Snow began to fall like confetti and Tomasz took Ricardo by the ankles and hauled his massive corpse towards the dilapidated cottage, leaving a snaking trail of blood behind him. He paused and wiped his brow with his blood and sweat stained sleeve.

Tomasz gazed over at the Christmas tree in the distance which was lit up with shimmering, dancing multi-coloured lights. A wind chime that hung above the door tinkled.

The heavy wooden door creaked as Tomasz pushed it open. Ricardo’s head bounced off every concrete step as Tomasz dragged the body downstairs into the dark and dingy basement and onto a sheet of dirty green tarpaulin.

He switched on a lone light bulb, which buzzed and flickered, revealing a room cluttered with wooden barrels and crates exept for a bright orange formica table, a candy striped deckchair and a dirty, spiderweb cracked morror that hung above a rusted metal sink.

Tomasz knelt down and unstrapped a large hunting knife from his left leg. Slowy and carefully he began to cut the row of tiny red crescent tattoos from Ricardo’s right bicep.

“Tried to escape again?” said Dragan, as he came down the stairs.

He took off his black crash helmet and ran a hand through his short cropped hair.

Tomasz had been so engrossed in his work that he hadn’t noticed Dragan arrive; he paused for a moment, looked up at Dragan and nodded. Rising slowly, he dropped the pieces of skin into a jar of formaldehyde, fastened the top and put it in a red Adidas holdall.

Tomasz knelt back down and unfastened the bloodied handcuffs that hung loose from Ricardo’s right wrist.

“Nothing to lose, I suppose,” said Dragan, to himself, “apart from his balls.” He sighed and lit up a large Havana cigar.

“Did anyone see you?” said Dragan, blowing a trio of smoke rings.

“No,” said Tomasz. “No spies. No mercenary eyes.”

“Did he say anything?” said Dragan, looking at the fat heap on the ground, his scraggly beard and unkempt hair matted with blood, he was overcome with disgust, remembering a younger Ricardo.

“Yes,” said Tomasz, his black, bullet hole eyes showing no amusement. “He cried for his mother.”

Dragan peeled off his boots and black leather jacket and sat cross legged on the dirty floor. He was wearing a black sleeveless T-shirt depicting Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’ and a pair of expensive denim jeans.

His muscular body was covered with tattoos and latticed with scars but his face–almost angelic and much younger looking than his forty years–was without a blemish except for a tiny bright red birth mark on his left cheek which was shaped like a crescent moon. He plucked a bottle of vodka from one of the wooden barrels that cluttered the room, his wedding ring glinting as it caught the light, and downed a third of the bottle in one.

“Did he say anything about the others?” he said, switching from Russian to English. Tomasz nodded using his whole upper torso. His wide, sandblasted face showed no expression. Dragan poured large measures of vodka into two pink glass tumblers and scooped a little snow into each glass. He was used to being patient with Tomasz but sometimes his patience was tested. He took a deep breath.

“Well?” said Dragan.

“He said no,” said Tomasz picking up a glass. “No others.”

Dragan was lost in thought for a moment. Tomasz stood motionless and not for the first time Dragan was reminded of the robot in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still, waiting for a sign from his master. The only noise was the buzz of the light and the sound of Dragan’s breathing.

Eventually, Dragan broke into a smile.

“Well, we’ll see,” he said.

He walked over to Ricardo’s corpse and shook his head.

“Misguided loyalty, my friend,” sighed Dragan.

He passed a tumbler of vodka to Tomasz .

“Na zdrowie,” said Tomasz, toasting Ricardo.

“Okay, back to work my Polish brother,” said Dragan, slamming down his glass on the table.

Tomasz nodded and dug in a darkened corner of the room and pulled out something heavy and metallic.

“I think it’s time to sever Mr. Ricardo’s contract” smirked Dragan as Tomasz started up the chainsaw.










For Peggy McFarland, who made me hold my breath. –W.R.C.

Produced by Walter Conley and Paul Dutra.


Photo #1 by Jenny May Peterson: Only Me Fair May @ flickr.

Photo #2 by Paul Dutra, whose help was once again invaluable.

Photos #3 and 5 by Sarah R. Bloom: Sad and Beautiful World.

Photos #4 and 8 by Steve Pacuk: feel-the-waltz @ deviantArt.

Photos #6 and 7, Gallery by Meredith Kleiber:; rhapsouldize @ deviantArt.

Photo #9 by Gwyn Michael:


You can follow Petra Whiteley on facebook and order her book, THE MOULDING OF SEERS, with Steve Viner at Shadow Archer Press.

Ray Nayler and Cesar Sebastian have a noir webcomic called “Night at the Western” up at Zuda. Check it out and vote. The winner gets a regular series: NIGHT AT THE WESTERN.

For updates on disenthralled: Walter Conley (pitchbrite) on twitter.


SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED at the present time, while we complete the projects at hand and reorganize for the spring. Watch for the MARY MILLS and THEATER issues soon.

All material copyright©2010 by respective creators.



  1. Noir has sucked the light out of this issue.
    Robert, cutting edge as ever, no spare meat.
    Michael, precise and measured as the prick of a needle.
    Quin, beware Greeks bearing gifts,brevity is an art.
    Paul, you evoke Warsaw so effectively it will live in your readers’ dreams and they will only wake when the dream becomes a nightmare.

  2. Totally fabulous. Leaves the reader breathless.

  3. Christina – thick and muddy
    Bruce – sweet. revenge always is.
    Petra – gritty
    Janeen – gotcha a bastid eh?
    OBJim – avoid self at all costs.
    Robert – your micro is smokin like all your shit
    Quin – chin up!
    Mary – trippy and dark
    PDB – stonking
    All Photogs – GREAT STUFF & LOOK
    Walt – simply tremendous, thanx for letting me play with the big dogs.

  4. amazing! another wonderful job well done. so freaking good.

  5. Quin–Hold your breath and dive in–or you’ll never find out. See you made me believe.

    Michael–Did I ever tell you I went to school with a Jimmy Rowe? I believe this is one of your best pieces. I felt the depth of emotions, and the stench of this mans life and death.

    Paul–This is absolutely, wicked.

  6. There was a natural flow from one piece to the next…the pictures were top quality. I’m amazed how you put it all together. Disenthralled is a piece of art.

  7. Absolutely loved Bruce Brown’s Silver Winter, and looking forward with much anticipation to another episode of Warsaw Moon. There is great heart in the darkest of Paul Brazill’s work. He’s got the stuff.

  8. This issue is like a needle pushing under the skin. You don’t feel it until it’s too late. It stings and infects.

    My favorite poem of this issue was Silence Manual by Petra Whiteley. The poem was tremendous and captured so much emotion.

    I also really enjoyed the short pieces by Quin Browne, Robert Crisman, and Michael Solender. My favorite goes to Paul Brazill with Warsaw moon. Dragan is a charismatic and disturbing character.

    Congrats to everyone for a disturbing, dark issue.

  9. Another wonderful piece of work. Thanks for the kind comments all. I hope Warsaw Moon continues to entertain.

    Robert Crisman, MJS & Offbeat Jim my faves so far. What I like about disenthralled is how the work stands up to a lot of reading.

    Great to have that brilliant Gwyn Michael photo before my story. A splendid selction of photos this issue- Meredith Kleiber’s gallery is a gem.

  10. This issue is chock full of excellent writing. I read it all and loved every reading moment. It’s always good to read the stories of Robert, Michael, Paul, and Quin, and add to theirs, all the others! DISENTHRALLED is one of the best e-zines out there. Soon enough I will be submitting something again. I just love the company!!

  11. Solender/Brazill for the win! Kick ass stuff.

  12. Blew me away, each and every story/poem. This issue more than any other proved the title/theme of ‘disentralled.’

    Paul, this was dark, gritty, raw, unrelenting. Noir, but not your usual there’s a joke underneath the prose. You really shine with this one. Can’t wait for the next installment. (Your first paragraph is an example of why writing is an art.)

    Quin, it had to be an excerpt–you’ve never said so little! (ahahahah) Short, but Wow, to be hopeful about hope and ready for the gut punch.

    Mike S. Good to see your grimy mug hanging here. Some real gem sentences in this piece. I’m curious about the two books–one is redemption and fulfilling your nature; the other is condemnation by fulfilling your nature. Interesting, and the story had me to the end.

    Robert, Echos was compelling but the last paragraph was pure beauty.

    Walter, this was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. I’m touched.

  13. Too much awesome in one issue. I want this baby in PRINT.

  14. Revenge exquisitely written is “Silver Winter”
    Just the title, “Silence Manual…requiem for production,” opened up a place in me for unthere-ness
    What a nightmare, The Mill Pub wine cellar
    “looking down”… I’ve found many a lucky penny that way
    Roanne, now “our Roanne,” kneading the ghost, sickly-lovely
    Hope is tricky… “You Know” Yes
    Especially good, crunchy ending, Mr. Solender!
    Mary Mills ever has the haunting way
    ‘Tis the season for chain saws and always the season for details, and you do both like I like, Mr. Brazill
    Excellent, complimentary visuals as usual
    Walter, et al. you do rule : )

  15. Liked the whole biz. Walter, another great ish! Loved the picture of the old man at what looked like a Woolworth’s counter. Glad to be among ya’ll!
    Janeen, your story brings home the lesson again: guys who think with their dicks usually get ’em chopped off sooner or later.
    Michael, this one reminded me of the time I spent two weeks in an isolation cell spitting on silverfish to pass time. It also put me in mind of an old saying I used to hear around: “If I can have her, she wasn’t yours to begin with.” Life is cold business sometimes…
    Paul, I’d like a look at Ricardo’s contract if I could. Thanks. By the way, what’s Dragan doing around the middle of June? I might have some biz, long as he can keep a muzzle on Thomasz…

  16. Well done, Walt and Paul. Great to see so many friends over here as well!

  17. Haunting pictures as always; you have a way of finding the best. Big fan of Offbeat Jim and glad to see more of his stuff here. Paul’s piece is fabulous, going off to read part II now. Haven’t read Mary Mills before, but that was a great poem and I hope to see her here again.

    • Mary Mills and photographer Jennie May Peterson have a special here. Check the Issues page if you have time. Well worth the effort.

  18. Hello there, I couldn’t find any means to email you, and so I really hope that you read this comment. I own a website covering leather purses, and wondered if you might like to swap links with me. I have entered my email address in case you choose to get in contact. Thanks.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By I am Six…. « disenthralled on 21 Mar 2010 at 10:09 am

    […] ISSUE #6 is now up. Flash and poetry by Bruce Brown, Petra Whiteley, Janeen Chabot, offbeatjim, Robert Crisman, Quin Browne, Michael J. Solender, Mary Mills, Paul D. Brazill. Photography by Jenny May Peterson, Paul Dutra, Sarah R. Bloom, Steve Pacuk, Meredith Kleiber and Gwyn Michael. […]

  2. By WARSAW MOON #2 « disenthralled on 16 Apr 2010 at 5:25 pm

    […] Part One of WARSAW MOON can be read in Issue #6. […]

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