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Pink Polka Dots – Ashley Reynolds

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If my mother had her way, she would have worn a ragged t-shirt and no pants every day. She would come home every night and take off her work clothes before she even said hello to us. As a result, most of my early memories of my mother she’s wearing nothing but a holey shirt. She would even check the mail in her underwear until my dad finally confronted her about it; apparently he didn’t like the idea of the neighbors getting a blatant view of his wife’s tighty whiteys every morning.

The only exception was a particular pink dress that every once in a while would find its way out of her closet. It was the one remaining scrap that remained of her femininity, and on days she wore it I suddenly remember my mother once owned a bridal store and dressed like a model. On days like that my dad always waxed poetic about the days she wore dresses and a pair of heels every day instead of her uniform of old socks and Microsoft tees.

“When your mom and I started dating she always did her makeup nicely and did her hair every day,” he sighs. I listen, even though I had heard it all dozens of times by now. This time we’re in the living room sipping on coffee, waiting for my mother to emerge from the bedroom after getting home from work.

“I buy her heels and she never wears them,” he continues.

“She wears them to work,” I point out.

He says something in response but I can’t hear it over the loud hum and gurgle of the fish tanks. It doesn’t matter. At this point we’ve had this conversation so many times it’s like we’re in a play. We’ve already recited our lines.

I take another sip of overly-sweet coffee. Warmth spreads through my chest down to my fingertips.

My mother emerges. To our surprise, she’s still wearing the pink dress. I forget now if my father bought it for her or she sewed it herself; in the days before her laptop was her constant companion, her hobby was sewing my sister and I clothes. It was something I had forgotten until then. Both my mother and I had long outgrown the Blue’s Clues shorts and Little Mermaid pillowcases.

“Dinner?” she asks. My dad gives her a bright smile, flashing his freshly-whitened teeth, and asks where she wants to go.

“Hooters,” she answers.

I watch them joke with each other, my father complimenting her on her dress. She blows him off just like she did when they were young, before they were dating. For a moment I imagine I’m watching my parents back before they were married, before three kids and a mortgage payment, when they sat in bars all night and laughed until the early morning.


Ashley Reynolds is a two-time winner of the GCACWT Fairhope Prize. In 2013, she won the award for Poetry with “Nas JAX”; in 2014, she won the award for Creative-Non Fiction with “Dance Dares and Secret Affairs.” She will graduate Saint Leo University in 2016 with a  B.A. in Global Studies and a B.A. in English.

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I Still Love You From the Other Side of This Bottle of Whiskey by Andrew Bertaina

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Hello Darling,

The water sways with the rhythm I’ve seen in the hips of women. Though there is a chance that I am just profoundly drunk as the room is also spinning, counter-clockwise, against my wishes. “If you’re to spin, spin clockwise,” but the room, like you, doesn’t listen well. In the event that you are reading this letter sitting down, I advise you to stand up. In the event that you are reading this letter standing up, I’d advise you to sit down. In the event that you are reading this letter I’d advise you to get properly soused first as the best parts were written under the influence of alcohol. In truth, I recommend drinking for all occasions, but at the very least, get properly inebriated for this one.

Though we’ve known each other but a short time: shall I compare thee to a summer’s day, the contrails of a falling star? I would, if it would please you, make love to you under in either circumstance; summer’s day or an evening sky scarred by light. I am giving in this way, a fact which I’m continually reminding people of. This morning I walked down a path strewn with russet leaves, through oaks, pine and aspen and down to the lake. The water was reflecting a deep white pocket of clouds, made whiter by the contrast against so much blue.

Remember when we talked that evening about missing geography—the mountains and valleys we’d left thousands of miles away? There is an empty space in me that I forget about until I think of those cavernous western skies, the dark silhouettes of mountain ranges, the snaking of a river through valleys. I still love you from the other side of this bottle of whiskey, but that’s not what I wanted to say. Everyone, I’d like to believe, is in love with someone.

Here is what I realized, sitting at the base of pine, while somewhere in the distance a woodpecker hammered away with the kind of intensity that I wish I felt for anything, the sky has its own geography. A large pile of cumulus is rimmed in gold. Beneath that, cirrus turn purple and the sky above them is blush of rose. The geography of the clouds, I now see, is similar to that which I’ve left behind. It has its own internal beauty that combines ephemerality with eternality. This is precisely the sort of thing that I’d say to you when I was drunk. The sort of things you’d laugh off, sitting back in the rocking chair, curling your lips, creating, then blowing smoke out of existence.


Andrew Bertaina is currently living and working in Washington, DC where he obtained an MFA in creative writing from American University. His work has appeared in The Broadkill Review, OxMag, Big Lucks, The Wilderness House Literary Review and Fiction Southeast. He is currently a reader and feature writer for Fiction Southeast.

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Screening by Madeleine Leznoff

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The stars slowly suck the last evidence of daylight out of the apartment and still he sits in his chair. Another episode airs and he bores his vision into the center of the screen where the color is clean and the movements sharp. The laugh-track rises and falls, but his mouth does not.

His eyes drift to the outskirts of the screen that crackle with encroaching static. It threatens to eclipse the picture. He feels the sadness in the gray; sees his wavering reflection and the looseness of mediocrity, the unraveling of the masses. His eyes lose focus from swimming in the same shade for too long and throb painfully. He shuts them. Phosphenes explode across the inside of his eyelids in gold and bronze and rain down as confetti that he imagines rests in his eye sockets. An eerie calm crawls over him and suddenly he feels that when he opens his eyes, he’ll be sitting in an airy room painted entirely in sunflower yellow. What is it they say about yellow walls, he wonders, vaguely. That they’ll eat at your memory and make you crazy? He remembers a woman at a hardware store a long time ago laughing gently while he fanned swatches through his fingertips.

With his eyes still closed he remembers in black in white, can recall how people used to watch the world when entertainment was separated from reality with the push of a button. Color was a line in the sand; a threshold crossed when you looked up from the screen and realized where you’d been for the past hour was in someone else’s head, and it was time to return to your own world where the apples were red and the light flitting through the blinds held a hundred colors you couldn’t see but knew were there.

Whose head is mine now, he wonders, when our screens are sharper than our eyes?


Madeleine Leznoff has a degree in media theory and creative writing from the University of Western Ontario. She is currently a digital marketing manager in Toronto.

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Oregon by Jackson Ellis

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My wife stood by my side in slowly flowing thigh-deep water as I taught her how to cast a fishing rod. She watched as I demonstrated proper technique, arcing the line into the brilliant sky.

A hundred feet away the float and fly dropped like tiny bombs. A perfect cast. I surprised myself, as I’m not a great fisherman; in fact, I’ve never fished before.

Silver firs shivered along the riverbank as I reeled in the fishless fly. I noticed a weathered wooden sign nailed to the trunk of a tree. “Welcome to Oregon,” it said in faded brown letters. Odd, as I live far from the Pacific Northwest; in fact, I’ve never been to Oregon.

I turned to hand off the rod, but found the space occupied by my wife a moment ago to be empty. I looked far downriver, where the watercourse changed abruptly, bending sharply and disappearing into a narrow canyon. There, the calm waters were supplanted by raging white rapids. And, somehow, there too was my wife, her gaping mouth skimming the surface as the current pulled her under. She half-screamed, half-gurgled my name, and then she vanished. I roared in agony and knew in my heart she was gone, but I dropped my pole and dived into the river, despite knowing I had no chance to catch her; in fact, I can’t even swim.

When I broke the surface gasping for air I came to. I was wet  not with water but with sweat and tears, in pitch dark broken only by the glow of the digital clock. I caught my breath and composed myself. I was safe and alone, far from Oregon. Like so many figmental faces in dreams, my wife’s was quickly forgotten; in fact, I’ve never married.


Jackson Ellis is a writer and editor from Vermont. His work has appeared in The Vermont Literary Review, Sheepshead Review, and Broken Pencil, among other publications. He is the co-publisher of VerbicideMagazine.com.

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Angels Flight by Chad Greene

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“This isn’t working,” I admitted. “Not anymore.”

Annie and I stood next to the gate at the bottom of what the dog-eared guidebook we had purchased when we decided to move to Southern California assured us was “The Shortest Railway in the World.” Riding it was the only item on the guidebook’s list of “The Top 25 Things to Do in Los Angeles” that we hadn’t checked off.

As the sun set, however, none of the dozen light bulbs lining the arch that topped the pillars at the station on Hill Street turned on. Painted in black on orange, the two words at its pinnacle – Angels Flight – threatened to disappear into the twilight. The twin funicular cars sat, stalled, at opposite ends of the approximately 300-foot track to the top of Bunker Hill.

“I told you our guidebook was out of date,” Annie sighed. Leaning against the peeling paint of one of the pillars, she slipped her smartphone out of her pants pocket. After tapping out Angels Flight on its touchscreen, she hit the Search button on its web browser.

“According to this article in the Times, the National Transportation Safety Bureau shut down the Angels Flight after a quote-unquote ‘minor derailment’ a few weeks ago,” she summarized. “Apparently, the operators were using a tree branch to hold down the start button.”

“Why?”

As she attempted to scroll through the article, frustration started to set in. “Hold on, hold on, my signal isn’t strong here…. The use of the stick appears to have been an attempt on the part of the operators to, to … override a safety system that had detected a problem.”

I looked down at the guidebook in my hand. “Just trying to ignore the problem, to go through the motions – up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, down the hill, up the hill—”

“Yes, then down the hill,” she snapped. “I see the pattern, Charlie. But what was the point of it? Why up and down this hill, day after day?”

In the deepening darkness, I squinted at the description of the Angels Flight in our guidebook. “When it was built in 1901, Bunker Hill was a fancy neighborhood full of prosperous people whose homes were at the top of the hill and whose jobs were at the bottom of the hill. Before all the affluent folks abandoned downtown for the suburbs, the Angels Flight used to make 400 trips a day up the hill—”

“Yes, then down the hill,” she sighed. “Why are we still here, Charlie?”

“You mean, why is the Angels Flight still here?”

“No, I mean why are we still here, in Los Angeles?”

“Because we haven’t done all ‘The Top 25 Things to Do in Los Angeles’ yet?” I flourished the foldout checklist tucked inside the cover of the guidebook. The 24 checkmarks weren’t all in the same color ink. Hell, they weren’t even all checkmarks – a couple of the boxes had Xs in them, instead; one was simply filled in neatly, like an answer on the form for a standardized test. But that wasn’t the answer she wanted.

Without a word, Annie tore the checklist out of the guidebook. Ripped it apart.

As she shredded it, I suddenly understood that checklist had become our tree branch – an attempt to override our problems. Since we had decided last weekend to ride the Angels Flight, to check the last item off the list, I had had the words of “Angel From Montgomery” – the live version that John Prine and Bonnie Raitt duet on – in my mind. All week, I has assumed the connection to our visit to the Angels Flight was simply the “angel that flies” in the chorus.

Make me an angel that flies from Montgomery.
Make me a poster of an old rodeo.
Just give me one thing that I can hold on to.
To believe in this living is just a hard way to go….

But the words that came to my mind at that moment, the ones from the last verse, those were the ones that truly mattered.

And I ain’t done nothing
Since I woke up today.
How the hell can a person
Go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening
And have nothing to say?

Annie and I had nothing left to say to one another, had nothing left to do with one another. Without that checklist, we had nothing left.

Silent at last, we stared at one another for what felt like a long time. Finally, she looked down at the wreckage of the guidebook.

“I never meant to stay,” she whispered.

I nodded. “You just meant to be a tourist.”

Here, at last, was our delayed derailment. Like the Angels Flight, we weren’t working. Not anymore.


A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, Chad Greene is an assistant professor of English at Cerritos College. Whenever he isn’t planning lessons or grading papers, he is attempting to put together a novel-in-stories tentatively titled Trips and Falls.

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Katrina by Angele Anderfuren

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Katrina always wondered what her world would be like, if only she had been born a month later, if only she wasn’t premature, if only her birthday was September 12, 2005 instead of August 4th. If she could have just stayed in there, in the warm comfort of her mother’s belly, her life would be so different. Maybe she wouldn’t have been named after that granny. Maybe she’d be Hazel Orleans, after the other one.

What a different world she’d live in without the taunts and the calls, the horrible whispers whirling around her as she walked down the hall at school or the playground in the park.

If she was Hazel, she’d be celebrating her heritage, her warm brown skin color, her eyes like the changing sunset, eyes like her grandma Katrina, ironically. Granny Hazel, afterall, had the bluest of blues – like her mother and her daughter, but not like Katrina. Granny Katrina’s eyes of gold with flakes of grass and sky and dirt – they were the most interesting thing about her, and the same could have been said for the younger Katrina too, if she had just been born in September. If it just wasn’t for that damn hurricane, she thought, which left her in the dark, stuck in an eternal storm that wouldn’t let anyone forget, even there in Houston.

Her name said it all, at least it said all that anyone wanted to hear. No one would listen past that. No one would look for the sunrise in her eyes. Instead they felt the storm’s touch. She just wanted someone to call her anything else.

Her parents didn’t understand, they didn’t hear her demands, her pleas. When she spoke of this topic, they were swept back, torn to that year, that month, that week, that day – when the storm shredded their town, their street, their house, how their baby had almost been swept to sea off the porch of their drowning house. And how it was this terrible fright that saved all of their lives, for as they jumped into the street’s river to catch Katrina’s floating bassinet, their second story crashed into their first, following the roof. Katrina saved their lives as Katrina destroyed all around them.

To them, Katrina was beautiful – name, face and soul – and strong, just like her grandmother who, too, saved their lives years before, in a world, a life before Texas – proof they could weather any storm, any time. Why would they let some old meteorlogical society’s random appointment of names change their devotion to the woman, the women, who saved them. They’d have none of that nonsense. They had it first.

That meant something, but Katrina could not yet understand what. She was just going to have to prove to the world that she could be the hurricane and make a name for herself. If nothing else, when she was old enough to contact the Social Security Administration and make Hazel official, not just the nickname she so desperately pleaded the other second graders to call her.


Angele’ has been a professional writer for 18 years, working in a variety of nonfiction platforms as a journalist (in TV news, web, print and social media) and as a blogger. She teaches at Northern Arizona University’s School of Communication. Angele’ often ponders realities, shadows and light to write by at 4am. You can find her daily musings on Twitter @AngeleOutWest.

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The Mermaid’s Son by Ken Poyner

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As with most things, I thought nothing of it until it got in the way.  By then, I had already learned to move it about, flip it up when it began to inconveniently drag, smooth it back when I needed a clear angle to sit.  But, eventually, it began to get ungainly in a standard pair of trousers, and so I had to take stock of it.

It was not uncute, given the way that it connected.  The whole of it seemed remarkably willing to fit in, at least for a fluke, and I could hardly blame it for its bulk.  It would have to be an awful bother to any sort of uneventful clothing that might be caught expecting only two legs.

The simple thing was to cut a hole for it.  The trouble is that the end connecting to flesh, and the end that was meant to pound water, are of different sizes; and once I cut a hole big enough for the fin itself, the hole gapped miserably loose at the connecting in, and I might as well not be trying to wear pants at all.

The solution was to clothe myself in only those baggy but elastic half pants that proved so popular a season or so ago with kids that wanted to look ghetto.  You could almost stuff a small fishing vessel into the legs of one of those pairs of shorts; so, accepting an oversized fit, I could put both a leg and the tail through one shorts leg, hike the clothing leg up a bit, and, while it was a little awkward, I was covered.

As my new merman’s tail grew, I could do more things with it.  It had its own set of muscles, its own commitments to symmetry.  I could amuse myself for hours seeing how far away from its main axis I could spin it; how much of a spiral I could curl it in; how much force against the air could I stretch into the fin and then, with a sickening flick of my rattling spine, hurl teasingly forward.

This was a symbiosis.  As the tail grew, I used it ever more eloquently, and for my ever closer-to-continual use the tail grew stronger.  And a stronger tail I would use more often, find new uses for, strengthen.  The tail would curl around the leg it had been mated to by the expedience of my shorts, trying to stay out of the way as I walked, and even with this effort growing thicker, more tendon and less scale, more tendon and less flesh, more tendon and less fickleness.

I took it one day to the beach, and it uncoiled radiantly from my leg, large enough now to lay its fluke flat on the sand.  I guessed enough not to go too close to the water: but there was a boy, who had never seen a man with a merman’s tail before, who brought a sand pail of ocean water inland to me and poured it slowly over the relaxed fluke.  The leather webbing oscillated in self-luxuriance.  The boy ever so slightly ran his elfin fingers along the fluke’s supporting spines and I could feel the alien density of his touch:  fiercely, dutifully in the thought bubbles of my mid-brain.

The tail now is large enough to support me; and some mornings, before I can get balanced again on my petty legs, it will bound with me around the house; and more than once, without me consciously opening the door, it has slipped into the front yard.  I tell it to wait, wait until I get my pants, but it will stop only to wick the dew left in the grass and then off we will go.  Once, we made it to the fence before I could rock into a two footed stability and lift the tail out of its preferred balance, shaming it into curling for emotional comfort again about my leg.

I know what is coming.  Even I stare longingly down the length of my street, imagining the left turn, then right, that puts me on the path to the ocean.  I feel a mounting greed deep in my heart as the four chambers begin ever so slyly to reorient themselves and my scaly skin dries unwillingly in the suddenly thick air.  I will not be able to stop the tail forever.  This last week I have been eating fish, fish and crabs and shrimp, and I am ready, oh I am ready.  But I have my legs, and I can run.  I can run!  I can still run to the ocean.  In great, land-gravity shattering steps, the tail but a rudder behind me, I can run!  I can run with the smell of the ocean reeling me in, the sound of feet dimming in sand, in water becoming indistinguishable from the sound of a fluke, a fluke taking its aim and turning to its brother legs:  my turn!  It is my turn!


Ken Poyner has lately been seen in “Analog”, “Café Irreal”, “Cream City Review”, “Blue Collar Review”, and many wonderful places.  His latest book of short fiction, “Constant Animals’, is available from his web, www.kpoyner.com, and from www.amazon.com.   He is married to Karen Poyner, one of the world’s premier power lifters, and holder of more than a dozen current world power lifting records.  They are the parents of four rescue cats, and any number of energetic fish.

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TKO by Ken Schweda

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Unlike the first eleven presidential debates, this one, the last before the election, was particularly unexciting. Like evenly matched prize fighters hoping to win on points alone, the candidates bobbed and weaved around every question the moderator threw at them. Truth be known, the moderator, who had presided over numerous presidential debates in the past, had become quite irate in private over their performance. He was overheard saying, ‘Jesus Christ they get more and more like slick used car salesmen every election cycle.’ Nevertheless he persisted.

“Gentlemen, we come to the final question of the debate. As agreed upon earlier, unlike all other questions during these debates, you were not given this one in advance. In addition, I will not call on you to answer. The first to speak up has the floor.”

The moderator took a quick sip from his water, and then pulled a thick book from under his desk. It had a single bookmarked page to which he slowly but deliberately turned.

“You may or may not know this, but I’m a bit of an amateur historian. Professor Broward Nooseman, a renowned World War Two scholar, just published a book containing a recently discovered trove of Adolph Hitler’s personal journals. In one of them he found a particularly interesting passage. I’d like to read that passage to you now, and pose our final question of the night.”

Both candidates appeared puzzled but confident about this little twist of events. Both nodded their approval to proceed.

“Thank you gentlemen. The passage reads as follows. ‘I hate those Jews. I really really hate them. So much so that I get sick to my stomach. On the other hand, I get great relief from watching my two cute and cuddly puppies play around. Puppies are just so adorable and cute.’”

My question to you gentlemen is, “Do you agree with Hitler that puppies are cute?”


Ken Schweda is a Systems Analyst and former technical writer. He now writes fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in Perihelion SF, The Bookends Review, Spank the Carp, and others. Read more at kenjeavus.com.

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Freedom Riders by Mark Antony Rossi

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Right after a few blue tabs the city seems cleaner and safer. The “poor-man’s scotch” I hear they call it. Aquamarine activators scrubbing the senses of grit and grime. The peace that flows like pancake syrup. Thick and slow and sweet and difficult to erase. I have no choice but to thank the big shots. I know it’s strange for me to say it. Who would’ve thought the companies and the government joining forces to make “the blue-ride?” And to make it so cheap. Free for the masses. I’m truly impressed.

Who are you to judge? Not all of us can afford fancy foreign bottles of high-priced mouthwash. Anyway, you drink yours and we’ll drop ours. The world is better that way. That’s what the ads say. And you know what? They’re right! Politicians make sense now. Police deserve our respect. Pride’s a nasty word angry people use. We’re not angry no more. Happy days are here again. Tabs are blue. To hell with rainbows. Never got us anything before but ballrooms full of fake leaders and faulty promises.

Three months have passed I think. And not one of us has a bruise or broken word to report. The police have never been so polite. They finally have respect for us. Barely a day goes by that a policeman doesn’t help a person off a sidewalk and into his or her home. Forty years of civil rights had yet to give us something like that. Our leaders never learned we could read the Bible but you can’t eat it. Serves them right anyhow most are in jail where they belong. And we put them there. The people, their own kind, put them there. Bet they can’t pin this on someone else now. It will give them more time to pray.

I absolutely love working in the garbage recycling plant. The boss is always cursing about something. Calling us one of those old-time bad names on occasion. We know he doesn’t mean it. Stress has a strange way of oppressing people. The candy bars he provides every week proves the good heart wins out. Our pay is fair and goes a long way in the government warehouse. All our food, clothes, tabs, etc., is conveniently located there. Again showing us how much this society cares. Society is trying hard to make up for past abuses. We don’t have to go far, pay much, or want the best. All this causes anger. And like the ads say, “anger is stupid, smart is happy.” I can’t add more to that.

Yesterday, the government and the police had to put down a squabble at the Relocation Camp. Seems like our old leaders were at it again. Strutting and rhyming and giving them heartburn. You’d think they learn by now. Some have and joined us. The rest clearly hate happiness. Our permission was asked as always. And we obliged. Permanent purges are underway. The social order can no longer wait for their systems to adapt. Their anger blinds them to a better life. It stalls the blue ride. A most curious irony since freedom has arrived.

We have never been a happier people.


Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and photography have been published by The Antigonish Review, Black Heart Review, Deep South Journal, Ethical Spectacle, Flash Fiction, Japanophile, On The Rusk, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, The Magill Review, Sentiment Journal, Death Throes, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and dozens of other worthy publications. He currently writes a weekly science humor column “Atom and Eve” for the online publication “Cherry Creek Review.”

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Irv was Taking Cooking Lessons by John Flynn

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Irv was taking cooking lessons, and that irritated his wife. She couldn’t cook, didn’t want to cook, and barely could eat. When Sunday night rolled around and Irv decided to cook a French dish with mirepoix, or a Thai whole fish with peppers, she left the house. Usually she went to McDonald’s, but even that wasn’t to her liking.

Is there any way I can get by without eating food? she wondered, staring at Irv working at the homemade pasta machine on his saffron wheat fettuccine.

And that started her research project. Powders, pills, and power drinks: that became all she would consume.

“Don’t you miss food?” Irv asked. “Isn’t it one of the joys of life?”

“I wouldn’t miss life if it came to it,” she said. She was thinking about doing without Irv too.

For a few days the powders, pills and power drinks made her feel almost high. She felt wonderful, as opposed to her usual aches and pains. Why didn’t I do this a long time ago? she thought. Food is a fraud. Damn farmers and producers probably in on some kind of conspiracy.

Then the fourth day she could barely move. She sat at her desk at work, which she could do without too, staring at the stack of reports she was supposed to edit, and did nothing. When her supervisor yelled at her for being late with one, she realized she hadn’t even been thinking.

She liked that.

But while she lived she needed money. Irv didn’t make enough with his insurance sales. So she headed to Big Tex Steak House.

One Dallas Double Dude, 5 pounds of burned cow, on the plate in front of her was enough to send her running out the door. She threw a $20 bill on the table first.

Listless was how she would be. Listless was how she wanted to be.

Irv was gone one day, run off with a woman she knew who wore the lowest cut blouses she could find to show off her chest to any man until she hooked one. Apparently she hooked Irv because a letter from her husband’s lawyer was the only communication she had from him.

Then she got fired, although she hadn’t missed a day in eight years before she missed two weeks in a row.

Then her friends stopped calling; then her family stopped calling; then the mail, even junk catalogs, became fewer and fewer.

The house was going to be repossessed or made part of the settlement, she didn’t know. She slept 18 hours a day, and resented being awake those 6.   She stared out into space from the sofa until it was time to return to the bedroom, which always made her happy. One day, she stared at the cup full of water and power drink, and had the same reaction she had with the huge steak, revulsion. She threw up, and curled up in a ball on the floor.

And that’s where the police found her, dead, boney and smiling.

A note was found in the bedroom, scribbled on the back of a bill she didn’t pay:   “I never asked to be born anyway.”


David Flynn’s literary publications total more than one hundred and seventy. His background includes reporter for a daily newspaper, editor of a commercial magazine, and teacher.
His writing blog, where he posts a new story and poem every month, is at http://writing-flynn.blogspot.com . His web site is at http://www.davidflynnbooks.com .

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Prayer for the Small Goat with Deformed Horns by Gwendolyn Edward

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Your life is sad, a metronome of monotony and loneliness. You are confined to the perimeter of a barn. Your horns are twisted, grown into and around each other into the semblance of some malformed unicorn. When you were born you were abandoned because of this deformity, left to die. At the time we did not know why you were pushed away and almost trampled, but something inside your mother burned greater than distaste. You were wrong and she knew it. Culling the herd is nature’s way, but your smallness, your newness, was too overwhelming to discard. We kept you alive because we didn’t know better. Because we did not know the difference between pet and wild and did not know that as you grew we would abandon you too.

Now your horns outweigh you, make it hard not to stumble and collapse. This is why, over the years, you have learned to walk with your body leaning into the side of the barn, your horn scraping into the wood the record of your existence, a low and broken scrawl that can be heard day and night. You have stopped complaining. You make no noise, except for when you fall, and these times, you scream like a terrified child until someone rights you. I cannot imagine living like this: days made of rectangles. I hope you don’t know your own life.

I pray, with your head cocked to the side, that you see the world differently and more brilliantly than the other animals. This is what I need to believe to assuage the guilt of keeping you alive. I pray you see grass grow along its length and instead of looking down at just the tips, you marvel at the wide green ribbons of the blade. I pray you see the horizon like a door opening for the sun and the moon. I pray you see trees as the rungs of a ladder that you climb each day to escape. I pray on the night you disappear, when the coyote comes and sees you resting against the barn, exhausted and still, that you are not afraid, that your eyes are not wild, that with your head angled in the darkness you see its mouth as a smile.


Gwendolyn Edward writes nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. Her work has been accepted by Crab Orchard Review, Bourbon Penn, Crack the Spine, and others. She retains a MA in Creative Writing from the University of North Texas where she worked with American Literary Review, and she is currently pursuing a MFA at Bennington. She works with Fifth Wednesday Journal as an assistant non-fiction editor and also teaches Creative Writing.

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Bar Iwo Jima by Carles D. Tarlton

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Hey, come on in.  What do you think of the place?  I inherited it from my father.  Take a look.  It’s like a war museum.  My father was 88 when he died and he owned this bar since 1950, named it Bar Iwo Jima after the World War II battle.  He made it through the war all right, but he never got over it.

Look around all you like.  This place was his life, and that’s the truth.  He got up every morning and came over here early to open for the breakfast drinkers, and he wouldn’t leave till after midnight.  “It’s a bar,” he’d say, “and people expect a bar to be open at night.”  So, now he’s dead and I’m putting it up for sale.  It’s lucky you caught me.  I’m almost never here.  I ran over today to get some personal stuff.  If you’re not in a hurry, I could fix us something to eat.  The place was famous for its burgers.  He called them “K-burgers.”  That’s a military joke.  You want a drink, or something?  I’m going to have one.
*
How was that burger?  My old man always made them simple like that, just the toasted bun, good meat, fresh tomato and onion, and homemade mayo.  “None of that fast food crap,” he used to say.  I’ll be glad when I’m rid of this place.  Look at this stuff!  Those are real guns, you know, the hand grenades are empty, of course, but they’re real too.  Look at this bayonet.  Did you ever see anything scary as that?  Imagine some guy coming at you with that on the end of a rifle.  Are you sure you won’t have a drink?  I come in here and I see all this war junk, and I’ve got to have a drink.

A lot of the old soldiers used to come in here and drink.  I’d hear them talking.  They would start out all cheerful, but after a while, after they’d been drinking who knows how many double-shots of Corby’s with beer back, it’d get louder and sadder.  They’d complain how they couldn’t sleep, how the doctors understood nothing, how they gave up their lives, and nobody even cared.  It got to where I just couldn’t be around them; the stories were too depressing.

Look at this helmet.  Somebody got his brains blown out wearing this, look at those dents and that hole right through it.  What’s this doing in a bar?  I need just one more drink to help me calm down.  I hate to come in here.  And would you look at this damn thing!  It’s a land mine, some kind of sick booby trap  “Oh, here, darling, sit down, sweetie, don’t worry.  It’s just a fucking land mine.”

I learned to drink from my old man.  I need the old crutch sometimes, to keep me going.  You’re wondering what kind of man was he, really.  Oh, it’s hard to say.  He was mostly angry.  He seemed to be angry all the time.  He’d spend the day and night down here with his buddies and by the time he got home late he was looking to take it out on someone.  I tried, but I couldn’t love him, you know, he was too damn mean.
*
Drunk now, the ex-Marine’s son’s movements had become deliberate, and his words were getting slower and blurred.  We stood up as if to leave and he was suddenly alert.  “Oh, you can’t go yet,” he said.  “I haven’t shown you the trophies.”  He opened a drawer under the bar, rummaged in it for a minute, and came up with an old photo album.  He dropped it on the bar and wiped the dust off the cover with the bar rag.  “Check this out,” he said, and flipped the album open.

The old photos had turned a sort of sand color, but you could still see young American Marines standing around, laughing into the camera.  Everyone has seen pictures of Americans soldiers in Germany, GIs sitting on tanks, waving from a fighter plane with the canopy open, pointing at the bullet holes, and on Pacific islands, after a battle, exhausted but smiling, many of them shirtless in the heat, their dog tags around their necks, a couple here and there still wearing helmets.  And you’ve seen pictures of the Japanese prisoners, I’m sure, sitting on the ground, fear and defeat in their faces.

“Just wait,” he said.  “It gets better,” and flipped the page.  Marines were using long bamboo poles to torment some prisoners whose eyes were wide open and fearful.  Then he turned several pages at once and stood back so we could see.  “Here is my old man,” he said, “in a nutshell.”

There was a sequence of eight aging snapshots pasted on the page.  The first one was of a terrified young Japanese sitting on the ground and tied to a palm tree.  His legs were spread wide and each ankle tied to a stake.  There were a couple of pictures of laughing Marines showing hand grenades to the camera.  Another showed a Marine posing in a comically exaggerated bowling pose, a hand grenade held like a bowling ball.  The fifth snapshot was taken from behind a row of laughing Marines with the Japanese soldier visible in the background between them.  The sixth photo showed a grenade being tossed at the soldier tied to the tree and then, in the very next, how it had exploded and blown him to bloody bits.  The eighth picture showed Marines laughing into the camera and the other Japanese soldiers staring terrified in the background.


Charles D. Tarlton is a retired university politic professor now writing poetry and flash fiction.  He has published poetry and flash fiction over the last 10 years in a variety of print and online journals.

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PEACOCKS by Toti O’Brien

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I’ll never get used to peacocks roaming around as if they were chicken or stray cats. I just can’t believe such fabulous creatures (second only to what? phoenix, unicorn, bird of paradise?) would casually parade among banal folks… people.

Peacocks are not people. They don’t form a crowd. When they group, cross or intertwine (as if strolling up and down the main boulevard on a summer evening) they always keep a slight distance. They brush by almost feigning indifference, deeply absorbed in personal cares. If they imperceptibly nod, acknowledging one another, we can’t tell. There’s something mysterious in their attitude. Enigmatic.

Still they aren’t snob in the least. There’s an aura of naivety about them, yet more scandalous associated with such an appearance. They have the slowness of dinosaurs and the same stupor, as if just awoken from hibernation, from some sort of amnesia. And in fact they wander, surprised, in a world that quite evidently is not their own, that they don’t recognize.

These particular peacocks flew out of a botanical garden then they multiplied in the neighborhood. They didn’t go far, becoming a local feature. Their call fills the night in all seasons: they start screaming at sunset with a sound quite hard to define. Disgraceful, acrid, plaintiff but with a note of questioning: as if uttering a stupid hope over and over though we all know it’s a lost cause. A wildcat’s scream: nothing airy or birdlike about it. Something feral instead. Childish maybe. Something dumb, still close to the soul… mine at least.

They start screaming at sunset while they wander on sidewalks, cross streets, pecker flower beds, rest on lawns, fly on walls, perch on roofs where they land with a heavy thud (as if they were not birds but flying carpets, spaceships or meteorites). On the roof they keep howling, looking eagerly into remote horizons, searching for something that we can’t imagine… a dot in the distance… a balloon becoming smaller and smaller… a very pale star. There is something haunting about them: eerie sentinels scanning skies that for us remain mute, neutral, undecipherable.

As I said they don’t make a crowd: that’s why to see many is quite thrilling. Each of them is unique even when it looks like another. Not a matter of color and shape. Neither of expression: they have none. It’s their poise that doesn’t admit repetition. It just happens once. Then again, it happens once.

Female peacocks are pretty as a background, a teaser, raising our appetite for the male. The male is a miracle. He displaces here and there its disproportioned beauty with sublime resignation. There’s no hint of arrogance, there’s no pride: it looks innocent as a rose blooming, a tree spreading its shade, a lofty mountain or river. Still we detect a halo of gravity, of unconscious embarrassment: as for bearing the weight of long-lived nobility or a ponderous coat of arms.

Why is the male so outrageously gorgeous? That’s a useless feature. Who could state if it looked like a turkey (no aqua tones, no swan’s neck, precious crest, stellar, kilometric, arabesque, laced, filigreed, fantabular tail) it wouldn’t be able to mate? Wouldn’t females notice? Would the species be extinguished? Come on. On the contrary: it’s a total prodigy such monster of aesthetic delirium survived. As I said it’s a dinosaur. That is why it hops on rooftops and howls at the moon, at the setting sun… at planets long disappeared it still can see but we don’t. Its reign visibly is not of this world.

Is it by mere chance that these peacocks (former runaways, now prosperous settlers) dwell in residential suburbs where they perfectly match the landscape? They enhance emerald lawns, lavishly tended gardens, mansions laid on the grounds with similarly discrete nonchalance.

No chicken would be allowed around here but peacocks can stride. Is it accidental? I don’t know. I will never get used to peacocks. I’ll keep wondering just as they do.


Toti O’Brien’s work has appeared in The Altadena Review, Poetic Diversity, Edgard Allan Poet, Litro NY and other journals. She has published two children books, two short story collections and an essay collection in Italian. She has collaborated with Italian magazines such as Mezzocielo, Salpare, L’Ostile and Inguine.

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Philosophy of Rent by Mark Antony Rossi

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We’ve lost our magic. Our instinct for mystery. Most bold questions have pat answers. Whatever’s left—few manage to pay attention.

How I long for a day when the classics are read aloud from atop a balcony to studious listeners drawn to every syllable. Perhaps I’m daydreaming abit. Foolishly expecting culture from soulless mall addicts intent on spoon-feeding corporations. Mindlessly they dump their slave wages into the awaiting tentacles of ugly giants. The fat and prosperous merchants who in turn dump their garbage into our drinking water.

We’ve lost our minds. Our fear of freedom is the root of all trouble. The cardinal reason we as a people are exploited over and over again. We are too willing to trade a piece of liberty for peace of mind. In the end it can’t be done. But you already you know that in your heart of hearts.

Why bother listening?  Fear is a friend beamed in from skyscrapers built by the lowest bidder. Grab that remote switch to something more soothing. You can’t fight City Hall. You can’t change the World. It’s somebody else’s problem. You don’t want to get involved. Not in my backyard!  Daddy will walk out. Mommy might start drinking again. And my God, “what would the neighbors think?”

These are but a few thoughts running through my mind at the precise moment I forced a nervous bank clerk to fill the bag. One could smell her fear…or was that something else entirely? The instant realization that her shopping days were over. It was almost necessary to remind her—the bank had insurance, she did not. What loyalty could such an oversight instill?

Very little I assure you, there was a gleam in her eye. As if to communicate—“take me with you.” Maybe diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but right now I can live without both. A gym bag full of cash and the sight of smartass suburbanites kissing marble is enough inspiration. Thank you.

None of those good citizens care about anything but themselves. The men had no chivalry. A sea of white shirts pissing their pants. I’ve seen more courage in a baby nursery. The magazines say women want romance. I say they want these gutless gold-card holders with little alligators on their shirts.

Women know romance is a fantasy sold by women with the exact same gripes. A man like me, wavering a gun around, is probably more excitement than any of these ladies will see in their boring bedrooms.

The police arrived at a bank swarming with shaken but unharmed customers. The entire bunch much too impatient for questioning. They’re all eager to race home and share a sexy crime story with a friend in front of the nightly news.

I fairly divided the money between my three assistants. Two underpaid bank guards and a single mother: three victims of the American Dream. I’m still amazed to find believers in this fairy tale. But such is life in the land of the free.

I have a young child to feed and a naive woman who expects an island paradise will guarantee happiness. If only she weren’t the mother of my child. If only I could explain to her how things truly are in the world. If only the rent were as sunny as that island paradise I wouldn’t mind believing in myself.


Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and photography have been published by The Antigonish Review, Black Heart Review, Deep South Journal, Ethical Spectacle, Flash Fiction, Japanophile, On The Rusk, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, The Magill Review, Sentiment Journal, Death Throes, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and dozens of other worthy publications. He currently writes a weekly science humor column “Atom and Eve” for the online publication “Cherry Creek Review.”

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How It Crumbles by Charles Tarlton

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This is a sad story.  Rodney Hollister was a really talented guy, but he had a weakness.  He could never do anything the regular way.  Give him a task, and he’d spend more time figuring out an angle than it would have taken him just to do it.  Strictly speaking, Rodney was a contractor-builder, but he considered himself an entrepreneur, a wheeler-dealer.  As a result, he was always nervously waiting to see how things would turn out.

Alice married Rodney just before he gave up his law practice and began putting deals together. She was only vaguely worried at first, but as the secure prospect of being a lawyer’s wife dissolved into the anxiety of his speculations, she began to develop a tic and spent long hours in a deck chair in the backyard, also just waiting.

I don’t have to tell you that Rodney had no real flair for life out on the edge.  Invariably, he would sink money in already sinking ships, and as half-finished houses stood amidst discarded concrete blocks, he would turn away with a shrug and look for new opportunities, as he called them, saying things like, “there’s gold in them thar hills.”  The pattern of wild enthusiasm followed by anxiety and finally resignation became the structure of their lives.

Here the story takes another turn (as you were already expecting).  Rodney took out a second mortgage on Alice’s house and broke her heart.  It was, she felt, all they had left, and, as she watched Rodney invest the whole amount in a screwball scheme to convert the abandoned mop factory at the edge of town into a game mall, she spent more and more time sitting out in the backyard.

The scheme was to provide all kinds of games in the huge building, everything from paint ball to a table tennis studio.  There was to be a card parlor, a pool, snooker, and billiards hall, archery, and pin ball.  And those were just for starters.  It was as if Rodney had stuck a needle right into the town’s sympathetic nerve system—it lit up like Christmas and they had to turn away dozens of applicants for leases in their new adventure.  The money poured in, Rodney paid off the mortgage, bought tickets for the two of them for a grand tour of Europe, and went around smiling all the time.  He had finally struck it big.

The money was still rolling in when they got back from Europe.  Rodney talked as if there had never really been a question whether he would strike it big or not, but Alice worried even now that it might all come to an end, worried whether luck this good could last, and she still spent a lot of time in the back yard.

She was really surprised when Rodney came home that Tuesday and announced that he had bought a sailing yacht, a Beneteau Oceanis 38, and that they were going to become sailors.  He hired Howard Allison, a one-time recreational sailor who now worked in the pool hall, to teach them how to sail.  It was on one of these training trips to Santa Cruz that Rodney had a heart attack and died on the boat.

Here is where the story ends.  Alice continued the sailing lessons with Howard and they got married six months later.  It’s awful to think how Rodney never got to enjoy his money after all his scheming had finally paid off.  And it’s still more awful how a nobody like Howard could get his hands on Rodney’s wife and his money without barely lifting a finger.


Charles D. Tarlton is a retired university teacher who has been writing poetry and flash fiction since 2006. He and his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter, live in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA.

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Mother Dearest by D. Seth Horton

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A flight attendant welcomes Diane aboard and helps her find the right seat.  She’s going to visit her only child, who has finally agreed to see her for the first time in years.  Ray will be in San Diego through October, working some temp job to pay for a sublet.  Diane assumes he’s going through a midlife crisis.  Since his divorce, he’s lived in various towns and cities throughout the borderlands.  Two weeks in Juárez, three in Yuma, a few months in Matamoros.  Apparently, the threat of violence doesn’t bother him.  He’s doing research for a book, though Diane thinks it’s unlikely he’ll ever finish it.  At forty, he’s published very little; just a dozen or so stories and a handful of reviews.  His ex-wife got tired of waiting for him to make it as a writer.  Belle took their daughter and remarried within a year.

Diane doesn’t blame her.  She blames herself.  Ray’s childhood was filled with a certain kind of emotional terror, especially after his father left.  It followed a consistent pattern: she would lose all control, and he would completely shut down for a necessary period of time.  The worst part must have been the screaming.  She’d bend down, get close to his ears, then unleash the demons.  He was a disappointment.  Something was seriously wrong with him.  Once, she even called him a fag.  Through it all, she reminded him of the sacrifices she’d had to make.  Later, out of guilt and self-pity, she sometimes cried so hysterically through the night that he couldn’t sleep.  The next morning, she’d try to make up and then move on as if nothing cruel had happened.  Ray listened silently to the promises that were made, but even she didn’t believe the lies that dripped off her tongue like sweet tea.  It was a confusing childhood.  If her son grew up terrified of the world, was there any wonder why he couldn’t connect with it as an adult?

On the plane, Diane orders another cocktail and opens a little-known magazine that contains Ray’s latest short story.  The binding is cheap and there are errors in the editor’s note.  She tries to read her son’s work, but it’s too strange and depressing.  Really, who wants to think about the macabre reflections of a Tijuana man about to be executed?  Why couldn’t he try to write a normal novel, or a children’s book, or at least something that people might actually buy?  Over the phone, he admitted wanting to write a story about her.  Surely it would also be too ugly for her to read.

She closes her eyes and tries to remember what it felt like to be close to her son.  Her memory must stretch all the way back to his infancy.  There he is, Ray, her baby, asleep in his crib.  And then he’s crying out for her.  There, there, she says.  She feeds him in a rocking chair and quietly sings the words to a lullaby just recently learned.  She was a good mother, at least for a while.  What happened?  Where did the rage come from?  Why did it all go so wrong?

The plane lands in San Diego.  There are a few scattered clouds in the air, but they’ll soon float away to the ungraced, interior part of the border.  Diane checks her makeup in the bathroom.  At sixty-five, she fights her age with Botox and plastic surgery that she can’t really afford.  Ray is waiting to welcome her at the baggage claim carousel.  They hug awkwardly.  It’s not the kind of greeting that either of them wants, but at least it’s something.

It’s a start.


D. Seth Horton’s fifth edited book, Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest, was published last year by the University of New Mexico Press. His stories, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in over twenty publications, including the Michigan Quarterly Review, the North Dakota Quarterly, and Glimmer Train.  He is a book reviewer for the El Paso Times, and he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Virginia.

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The Hoarder by Michael Neal Morris

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The woman from social services pointed to a four-foot stack of New Yorker magazines and asked, “What about these?”

“What about them?” the old man asked, his throat tightening.

“Do you need those?”

“I need them.”

“Why? Have you read them?”

“I read them.”

“Then why keep them?”

“I need them. For things. Different reasons.”

“Why can’t you throw them out?”

“Look, honey,” he said, resisting the urge to point his finger. “You young people don’t need words. At least that’s what you think. You can dispense with them and shorten them and ignore them, but eventually you’ll grow up and need them. Well, I’m keeping mine.”

The social worker sighed. “Mr. Long, all this paper, all these magazines and newspapers,” she gestured to indicate every stack in the room, “these are a fire hazard. One spark and they’re gone.” She patted his knee and did her best to sound tender. “And you with it. We wouldn’t want that.”

Mr. Long sat up straight. “I don’t allow smoking in the house.”

“But that–”

“My wife smoked until the day she died. Even on that day. But not in the house.”

“That’s nice, Mr. Long–”

“She loved words, Miss. And her cigarettes. She’d sit outside on the porch with her coffee or tea if it was afternoon and she’d write all sorts of things. Poems and stories. She had lots of articles published in the local paper. I could show you–” He began to stand.

“That’s not necessary. Maybe you could keep her writing in a scrapbook. Donate the rest to the boy scouts or something.”

“What for? Boy Scouts don’t read. They camp and make crafts.”

“For recycling. They could take it to a recycling center, who would pay for it. Help them pay for equipment and uniforms and such.

Mr. Long shook his head. “My wife wouldn’t like a scrapbook.”

There was a silence between them for several minutes while the social worker tried to think of another approach. A clock from the kitchen chimed.

“One thing I didn’t like was the smoking. But she couldn’t stop. Even though she loved me. But we worked it out. I think she was happy.” He felt then like he was choking.

“I’m trying to help you, Mr. Long,” the social worker said softly. “This isn’t healthy.”

“Maybe,” he said and sobbed.

Finally Mr. Long nodded assent. Over the next two days, men came and took almost everything away. A maid service was hired to clean the house, and the social worker took care to make the small house look cheerful with photos of his wife, whose clippings were neatly placed in an attractive scrapbook.

Mr. Long sat on his porch, sometimes sipping coffee and fingering the cover, but he never opened it. He also never spoke again.


Michael Neal Morris has published short stories, poems, and essays in a number of print and online venues. He most recent books are naked and Recital Notes, Volume I. Collections of his work are listed at Smashwords and Amazon. He lives with his family just outside the Dallas area, and teaches at Eastfield College.

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Bummed by Bertram Allan Mullin

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Dan’s dad told him not to give anything to the homeless. “They only want your money, son. Trust me.”

The boy didn’t understand this, nor would he listen. While on the bus ride to school, he saw a scruffy man wandering the streets between lanes and showing everyone his piece of cardboard with brown writing—no way those smudges were ink. “Help Me. Please. Anything will do.”

Ignoring parental advice, Dan handed the homeless man his sandwich. That was when his sense of humanity fell, right along with his roast beef on wheat, into the dirt.


BAM has work in several places including Bartleby Snopes, StoryShelter, and Writer’s Ezine where his work won awards and was reprinted. For more info check out bamwrites.com

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The Five-Minute Marriage by Gregory Janetka

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Damn television sets. Three blaring away and the sun still down. Noxious distractions – news that’s not news, fear mongering masquerading as news, and the third with adverts for pills for conditions they don’t treat here. Suppose they treat the side effects though. We’re all side effects now. A soda machine? Fake plants? Don’t treat me when it’s my time, chuck me on the ice flow.

Screech.

Huh? Oh, the door. Two more poor souls – which is sick and which will wait? Wait. That’s all we do our entire lives and it never comes, whatever it is.

Good god she’s beautiful. Could pass for Evelyn if she had lived. To wake up beside that messed brown hair; dark downcast eyes barely open. I hope she’s waiting. She’s no fool, look how she sits – impeccable posture, in command. She has a solid job, something reliable but infused with passion and creativity – designing layouts for fashion magazines. Too intellectual to be a model herself but could have easily been. At least it lets her travel and live where she pleases. Thank god for the Internet, huh, Evelyn? Sure, Minnesota will always be home and fill her heart but life takes her around the globe. I mean, it’s because of that that we’ll meet in an overplayed situation – a hotel bar. I’m there for a weekend seminar and hating every minute but at least the firm is paying for the booze. We click but exchange nothing beyond words, no bodily fluids, not even names. But the next day when the man tries to steal her purse and stab her with a screwdriver I’m there and give chase and recover the purse. We talk more and more and when we’re in the same city I wake up beside that messed brown hair. After months and months it’s too much – propose or end this. I propose, she accepts. We settle down in the Midwest in a city, (we both hate the suburbs), that neither of us has ever been to before. We don’t discuss children but when one comes along we’re overjoyed and welcome her with open arms.

Screech.

“Excuse me, Miss Delacroix? We’re ready for you.”

“Allez, ils sont prets pour nous. Thank you nurse, we’ll be right there.”

French? She can’t be French, she’s from Minneapolis.

Screech.

And there she goes. And here I am.

Screech.

“Mr. Conway? Could you come this way please? There’s been some more complications with your father.”

“Complications? Oh. Okay. Sure.”

French. How could she be French?


Gregory T. Janetka is a writer from Chicago who currently lives in the outskirts of San Diego. His work has previously been published in Foliate Oak, Flyover County Review and Gambling the Aisle. He is terribly good at jigsaw puzzles and drinks a great deal of tea. More of his writings can be found at gregorytjanetka.com.

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