Featured Stories

Riding High In L.A.

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Penelope loves being a tourist in her own town. Today, she is touring the OUE, the tallest building in DTLA (Downtown LA.) Its height exceeds any other building between Chicago and Singapore at 73 stories. Roundish and all glass to give people on each level the illusion there is openness around them, the building lulls them into forgetting there never …

March 21, 2020 :: 0 comments

Shimmering

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When shimmering they came, he was hanging over the railing of his second-story balcony. He loved to stand on the balcony watching the sun’s comprehensible inertial descent behind the skyline of Agung Darussalam to the east and Masjid Agung Darussalam to the west. He would smoke his only clove cigarette of the day while he watched that happen. He bought …

March 14, 2020 :: 0 comments

Connectivity

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Jack, seventeen and homeless, still wearing scars across his cheeks from the beatings his stepfather gave him a year ago, tramped along the underground carriages begging for money every day, thankful for the generosity of the odd schoolboy or septuagenarian who handed him some change. Not that it amounted to anything, but being treated like a human, knowing someone cared, …

March 7, 2020 :: 0 comments

Contributed Stories (Past Year)

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1969

by on April 20, 2019 :: 0 comments

Jim looked out of his upstairs apartment window. He watched as a drunken man staggered up to the door of the Bus Cafe. It was late. No doubt after a night of drinking he was going for a burger and fries, or some greasy chili. Jim and his wife Brenda rented one of two apartments that were above the New …

A Bolt, A Blot

by on September 21, 2019 :: 0 comments

The fighter jet decimates each cloud. Smoke cloaks each house with a pall of dust. The smell of burning tires enhances the stench of smoldering rubbish that emanates from the metal containers punctuating our streets and lanes. A car squeals its venom terrorizing the heart of night. The rattle of bullets rends the air like a snake, ensnared. I inhale …

A Quiet Thanksgiving

by on April 7, 2019 :: 0 comments

She was an old woman now. The crime her son Aaron committed was on her mind every day. And why shouldn’t it be? He had killed his wife and was serving a forty-year sentence in Chino Men’s Prison just south of Los Angeles. Her husband, God bless him, had left her plenty of money. Sitting at her cluttered dining room …

A Second Chance

by on January 11, 2020 :: 0 comments

The last day of the Bi-Annual Industrial Fraud Conference had gone as poorly as the first two days. The unseasonably cold weather, the economy, an escalating series of unfortunate events had left Riley Babcock exhausted and defeated. It was his last night in Vegas, for God’s sake, but all he wanted to do was retreat to his room. At least …

Aint It Like

by on August 3, 2019 :: 0 comments

Momma, Ms. Betty, Poppa Turtle, Ervay and I went to Tyler’s so named cause that was the headliner that night. They goan go someplace, do something out this joint, was Ms. Betty’s critique. She aint no Tina mumbled Pops. No, Ms. Peaches smelled like the clean sweat of honest work. She sang with her man, Tyler on bass, a daughter …

An Oral History of the Telephone

by on January 14, 2020 :: 0 comments

“I don’t know what to tell you, Bryan,” Van Harappan said, expressing a minor distaste at having the young man’s name in his mouth. “That’s just business. I don’t judge you for engaging in it. But I might judge you for not having the stomach for it. All I can tell you is to suck it up. And, if you …

Bellicose Diatribe

by on November 23, 2019 :: 2 comments

The leaves were falling. Jim Jefferies drove about town and noticed trees getting thinner and winter drawing near. He thought of the plains Indians living in these parts. How cold they must have been and how cozy in a warm tepee. Population replacement must have been easy. He loved his hometown but times were tough, once again. He was cruising …

Blooming

by on January 25, 2020 :: 0 comments

An Excerpt of Sleeping Beauty There was kiss me under the Golden Bough mistletoe, yes Virgil says it was gilt wholly golden, so named possibly from the clinquant tint the cut limb acquires when kept to wither glittering through a season. Was not the sun’s firelight, or a modicum thereof, supposed to radiate from this shrub gathered all in all …

Calling Vito a Guido

by on October 5, 2019 :: 0 comments

Having tied his Capezio shoes, Vito brushes his white slacks and gets up from the chair. He walks over to the mirror in the living room to brush his black hair — again. He tilts his head to one side, looks at himself from the corner of his eye and runs the brush across his coal black mass of hair. …

Chesterfield

by on September 28, 2019 :: 0 comments

Chet sat on the edge of the courthouse lawn. He was a thin black man. He wore khaki slacks and a green t-shirt and had a fedora hat on his head. It had cooled off a little now that the sun was going down, but it was still hot. Chet took a drink from a half pint bottle of Jim …

Creek Don’t Rise

by on November 3, 2019 :: 0 comments

Fermentation tanks reflect last call exit lights. Finishing beers, the tenth or fifteen, as taproom lights fill in our accidental drunken Thursday. We’re the only two drinkers at midnight other than the bartender who drank to not be our third wheel. We walk and all that watches is the moon, a misshapen fish eye from a broken body of water. …

Drifted Away

by on January 21, 2020 :: 0 comments

Off like a shot, the years just drifted away for two young men. John and Nick grew up together on Harrison Avenue. Their fathers worked at blue collar jobs and the mothers stayed at home. The moms didn’t all bake cookies but they were there to put band-aids on the scrapes and cuts and cooled the bruises with ice cubes …

Fast Asleep

by on May 18, 2019 :: 0 comments

Excerpts from Sleeping Beauty The princess speared her palm on the spindle cusp of the spinning spinning wheel and fell down senseless in a death-like swoon. The old crone started in alarm and tried to undo the damage the spindle prick had done but all her qualms cries pat-a-caking rock-a-bye-babying rub-a-dub-dubbing Mother Goosing ring-around-a-roseying and hey-diddle-diddling failed to arouse the …

Fly High, Little One

by on March 31, 2019 :: 1 comment

Fly high, little one. Let your beautiful wings spread. You’ve learned much, now, and far more to see still. Travel onward, now, across this peculiar world. Mature, experience, and feel. You’ve come far. All the trials of your life you’ve surpassed; all the pains you bore them well. Carry on now, little one, and fly high. Soar across this beautiful …

Gwen Ifill Is Dead

by on December 3, 2019 :: 0 comments

It was one of those lazy November days, the sky was a blah grey, with an impenetrable fuzzy blanket across the sky. I pulled into the driveway of my condo, just in time to find something to eat and watch the PBS Evening News. My late husband inculcated the importance of this in me, and it was now my duty …

Hands

by on November 5, 2019 :: 0 comments

I remember my mother had built a small terrace garden on the roof. I was around fourteen years old then and I helped my mother in her endeavors. She had built a room size steel cage with whatever money she had saved for years. It was impossible for her to do gardening on the roof without any guard as mischievous …

He Belongs to Nobody

by on July 20, 2019 :: 0 comments

Coyote sings us into presence and then laughs his ass off. Sings us into the soul of winter, into resistance, into euphoria. He knows he’s just a moon-illuminated rumor, dog with no name, knows he’s as much a mnemonic device as peyote is a serial killer. Tufts of stubborn snow feathered against the old walls may last, surviving in shadow, …

Hometown Breakdown

by on January 7, 2020 :: 0 comments

Dwayne catches a cab from the bus station to his parent’s home on Salazar Street. Late afternoon sunlight diffuse and mute like underwater light under a gray Kansas sky flickers through a line of darkening catalpa trees. The cab pulls into his parents driveway. He notices his Dad’s silver Cadillac parked in the garage. He’s ambivalent about seeing his parents …

I Have a Mistress

by on April 13, 2019 :: 0 comments

Back in 2017 I acquired a mistress, or should I say she attached herself to me. I informed my wife of the mistress and she begin to cry and said can you get rid of her. I said I will try. But now she is with me all the time. She demands to go shopping with me and then I …

in skin

by on November 16, 2019 :: 0 comments

The sun on the bare rock-tip is raspberry, above the mingled white of snow, green of wood. ‘Ïmi amintesc de terci,’ crystalizes in Chocolate’s mind. Ioana was from beyond that mount. Maybe she returned. He still lumbers. To his shy heart the bears had been strength. The wood had been a playground. At fourteen he had only known the closing …

Keeping the dream alive

by on November 19, 2019 :: 0 comments

While Tony gave a speech in his role as the best man for Gareth the groom, he sported a traditional Nigerian royal blue kaftan, clutching a horsehair fly swatter–clashing with the black-tie event–and reeled off a list of Gareth’s conquests that he’d seduced prior to his bride Jackie coming on the scene. Everyone shifted uncomfortably in their seats but when …

Last Night on Earth (TX)

by on June 1, 2019 :: 0 comments

Antlers, still attached to frozen plastic bagged deer heads, stare as my husband sits into a sagged old lawn chair in our new garage. Old paint buckets to touch up new scratches we put in our new world pyramid around us. We didn’t need a map to find a home with one another, just a compass. But the damn severed …

Look Down From the Night Sky

by on December 24, 2019 :: 0 comments

Around narrow trunks, thoughtlessly spread lights wrap bare trees reaching towards the end of the year. Etched initials on bark are all that exists, nothing lives in the trees. No shadows cover main street’s potholes as Christmas steps dry out on downtown asphalt, the only audience for strung lights atop closed businesses. By the nativity scene between a Spanish-speaking Baptist …

Mad Swirl

by on December 31, 2019 :: 0 comments

Out of concern her family keeps a constant watch over her, the youngest leaf on an ancient tree, so very eager to flutter with the slightest breeze. Filial feelings dictate on nearby twigs to sermonize the little chick whose veins contain the thinnest blood. Deep-rooted in the soil, her father is keen on having his fretful kid enjoy a gravity-free …

Make My Day

by on October 26, 2019 :: 0 comments

When I climb out of the KIA I notice an old man standing by his suburban. I look to where he’s staring and see a woman behind her covered pickup. The tailgate is down and she is moving metal cages around that hold small dogs. I think she must be a rescuer. The woman must bend over to do this …

Memories of Water

by on June 22, 2019 :: 0 comments

My son lives in a small town. Recently, I was helping him move to a new apartment not far from the one he’d been living in for the past five years. The old apartment is a 1930s or ‘40s era city office building that had been converted decades ago into housing. It’s located on a beautiful little trout stream that …

My Amnesia Garden

by on November 13, 2019 :: 0 comments

When someone quits you, for whatever reason, even death, there are parts of you that languish, anger, and wither. You fallow empty of sun, thirst for rain. It can be an emotional cardiac arrest, or a diabetic depression, coma. Instinctively you know, just as the removal of slivers won’t fall trees, to survive, you need to keep growing. A broken …

My Partner

by on August 10, 2019 :: 0 comments

My partner was driving me nuts. We work for a company that does financial research and analysis. When we’re assigned a project, I do the research part, using the internet to get all the information I can. I give the data to Ben and he uses computer algorithms to analyze it, then he generates a report. By the way, I’m …

Night Call

by on February 14, 2020 :: 0 comments

The phone rings incessantly on this seething August night. It is 3 A.M. but the night call does not disturb my sleep. You see, I suffer from insomnia, my air conditioner is broken, and on this oppressively hot night, I sweat profusely. “Hello,” I growl. “I need your help,” the eerie voice whispers. “Who are you?” “Don’t you know?” “No.” …

Night Talk

by on August 24, 2019 :: 0 comments

He’d seen their eyes stare at him when he read, in front of bars and tables. The eyes looked serious and fixed under the night lights, like he was saying something important. John Hynes had experiences like that reading. A musician called John Hynes over one night. They were in a bar. John Hynes knew the guy slightly. “I like …

Pauses

by on December 17, 2019 :: 0 comments

Friendship’s the wine of life; but friendship new is neither strong nor pure—Bunko was reading Ernest Young’s Night Thoughts in your bedroom. Reading’s a practice you shared since the early days of your marriage. You smiled endearingly, watched his Adam’s apple move up and down, listened to his solemn baritone reverberate. Bunko enjoyed your undivided attention. But that was two …

Peter Pan of Jazzland

by on May 25, 2019 :: 0 comments

His name was Billy Ray, and he was anything but country. Billy Ray was the Peter Pan of the jazz scene during the 80s in Oklahoma City. The bass player had come of age in the 60s during the birth of free jazz. It was then he had found his religion and never strayed from the altar of Miles, Monk …

Picking Up the Thread & Who Me?

by on October 13, 2019 :: 0 comments

Excerpts from Sleeping Beauty Picking Up the Thread Rumor went round and round the land and even abroad of a most beautiful sleeping princess Rosamond, as you know I was called, who was encircled by an impassable thorn thistle which prickly creeping hedge had plot-thickened year after year after year for nearly ten decades and that within that intriguing aculeate …

Power of Words

by on September 7, 2019 :: 0 comments

There is a saying that has been around for quite some time now: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words may never hurt me. I reckon just about everyone, whether five or fifty, have heard these words several times over. Now often said by those who had just moments before sent their own verbal arrows flying right into …

Prescott Endures

by on February 29, 2020 :: 0 comments

The second psychiatrist I spoke with was Dr. Knowit —Barbara Gowers, the first, committed suicide at 6:00 pm and I left at 5:45. With such a suggestive name, how could I not investigate his schtick? I had as many questions as I had nonsense answers for his. For this diagnostic session, I cleaned up well, according to my mother.   “Did …

Prognostication

by on May 4, 2019 :: 1 comment

Not everything in my childhood was forged with gold. We frequently stayed with our indulging grandparents and basked in their trustworthy hands, but I was occasionally entrusted to the care of the treacherous type, a few family friends with whose children I was accustomed to play. We were once driven to a steep cliff that overlooked a vast expanse of …

Pulled Pork Sandwich

by on July 13, 2019 :: 0 comments

One day Perry Beckett took a pulled pork sandwich to Bone’s basement and when he got there, he said he wished he had told them to put more sauce on it. “So take it back over there and tell them you want more sauce on it,” said Bone. “They got the sauce in squeeze bottles on the counter,” said Perry …

Record Turd

by on February 1, 2020 :: 0 comments

1. I would like to tell you a story that usually is not appreciated much when I have told it to others throughout the years. The kind of humor that many of us appreciated back in those days is pretty much extinct. At the time of this story, there was a soybean processing plant just outside of a very small …

Ring

by on January 18, 2020 :: 0 comments

Mother tosses that gold ring down the toilet. It strikes the bottom. Clink. “A metaphor for your father.” She laughs. Laughter cracked. She holds the handle, as if one gesture will unleash something frightening. As if he hasn’t been gone a whole year. “Shall I?” “Go for it.” I remember Dad making the announcement, words so matter-of-fact. Mother’s words, husky, …

Scratched

by on December 10, 2019 :: 0 comments

“Brother, calm down. They will be here. Twenty more minutes, OK?” I don’t want to hear that. I really don’t. I have already been standing here in this two-bit DVD store for over half-an-hour. I don’t need it then. I need it now. “First, I fuck you, then my friend fuck you, OK?” And, no, I don’t want to hear …

Showerless

by on July 6, 2019 :: 0 comments

This train is a church in both its movements and its congregation. No one dares interrupt the silence. Metal rolling over rusted metal. Outside the scenery passes by like life to a teenager: fleeting but feeling never-ending. Most passengers wish they could be anywhere else to feel anything else, to feel something other than strictly operational. At each stop people …

Silence

by on August 17, 2019 :: 0 comments

Silence. Silence is a contagious word, she muses and looks at sea. Warm waves hurry to meet the sun burnt rocks. The gold of the sand shimmers in the glow of the night. Silvery orb of the moon twinkles, one last wink and then ducks behind bales of black cotton. She scribbles on the sand: there is silence in the …

Simulation

by on August 31, 2019 :: 0 comments

Simon began to suspect he was living in a computer simulation. And not only a computer simulation, but a flawed or infected one. This wasn’t just a philosophical idea metastasizing into a neurosis or psychosis. More and more, Simon thought he was detecting seams in the matrix, tiny fractures in the surface of his so-called reality. One morning while shaving, …

Some Are Some Also

by on May 11, 2019 :: 0 comments

To Mrs. Johnson: Sort of knowing is not knowing but maybe it’s a start. Hazy black grey knowing warm knowing for sure but no knowing what. What’s the time, said the State Trooper who must have stopped you. Must have been it couldn’t have been me because I am asleep, or should be if not then well—nothing that comes out …

Some Men Think This Way

by on December 7, 2019 :: 0 comments

“I went up those stairs at my next door neighbor’s party after midnight on New Year’s night to fetch our winter coats. I turned on the light and all the coats were on the floor and Gail was naked under the blankets making it with my next-door neighbor, this guy that ran a bunch of tanning salons. I flicked the …

Stiff Neck

by on June 8, 2019 :: 0 comments

We kidnapped the barber with the stiff neck. I was against the plan but had only one vote. The rest of the guys were in awe of our friend from Princeton. He had a lot of family money in our small suburb. We called him Coney because his head seemed cone headed. His red hair and crew cut accentuated the …

Summer Creatures

by on February 8, 2020 :: 0 comments

Jasper was cleaning out a smelly animal pen when he realized that he had a dopey crush on his boss’s daughter. Until this moment he had just assumed he hated Anna less than the girls he went to school with, but now he saw with disgust that he didn’t hate her at all. Her face was stuck in his mind …

The Alley

by on June 30, 2019 :: 0 comments

The alley you’re walking down is dark. It is the back end of many dive bars, illuminated by the opening of back doors as some bartender takes out the garbage. The green of large, metal, rectangular, Industrial Waste Company trash containers lines the route. The smell is rancorous; a revulsion that immediately makes itself apparent. There are oily patches everywhere where …

The Clause Conundrum

by on December 22, 2019 :: 0 comments

“What we gonna do now?” asked Zim, tugging his elf sleeve. “I dunno.” Nico scratched his pointy ear. “Hide him somewhere?” The two elves stood beside the sleigh in waist-deep snow, considering a headless situation. Icy gales snatched packages and toppled them overboard into the darkness. Panic filled Zim’s frail voice. “We can’t just dump him! This isn’t my fault.” …

The Divine Key

by on September 14, 2019 :: 0 comments

The silence was eerie. The darkness was sinister. After his great feat, he had expected joyous celebrations, pompous gifts and that elusive key, his mentor had promised him. He was sure he would get the award of all awards. His mind reassured him that the silence and the darkness were temporary. Therefore, he decided to wait… Losing count of time, …

The Gun

by on June 15, 2019 :: 0 comments

The gunsmith placed his latest creation, beautiful with precise, hand-assembled mechanisms and a handle made of rosewood stemming from metal blue, into the display case. It sat unfired, immaculate in oil, in its velvet housing for of weeks until a man came in, admiring the static potential of a gun, then bought it. The man bought the gun for protection …

The Invisible Man

by on November 30, 2019 :: 0 comments

Fall wind bit through William’s threadbare coat producing a shiver. He pulled the coat tightly around his neck to cut off the draft. The coat used to be snug, now it wasn’t. William was somebody in the military, but that was five years back. Since his discharge he hadn’t adjusted well to a noncombat environment. An endless string of temporary …

The Leech Speech

by on July 27, 2019 :: 0 comments

I heard him brag, in a speech at work, that he was self made. I was so focused on the beads of sweat dripping down his face that I didn’t think twice about being told to shine the light on him as he speaks. It wasn’t until after my boss walked away, and I saw him slither in, that I …

The Resurrection Club

by on January 28, 2020 :: 0 comments

My limbs move with an awkward, reflexive motion. I speak in a mechanical, colorless tone. My body is composed primarily of plastic and stainless steel. Most people assume that I am a robot. They are wrong. I am an electronic person. I once was a live human being. Toward the end of my life, an electronic copy of my brain …

The Sophia Energy

by on November 9, 2019 :: 1 comment

I believe God is a woman. Why do I think God is a woman? The creator of all living things? I think it happened after the accident (I’ll get to that later on). For the longest time I tried to understand my own purpose. I used to look up at the stars and feel somehow I was in the wrong …

THE WATERING HOLE

by on October 19, 2019 :: 0 comments

Through the sliding doors she came one hip at a time: the most beautiful woman he had seen in his life. It is a strange thing to suddenly find the most beautiful woman you have seen in your life. If you know this, then you are in rare company. Furthermore, you know exactly the feeling, and you do not doubt …

They’ve All Passed On

by on February 22, 2020 :: 0 comments

The Reedman house had been empty since the old man died. He and his wife June fell in love with it when it was part of Land Tract No. 19. He continued with his welding job, a strong man with a stubbly beard helping build ships at the Navy Yard. Then June starting coughing. The walls of their bungalow rang …

Tommy

by on April 27, 2019 :: 0 comments

James was sitting in a lawn chair in the garage having a beer watching Becky’s two-year-old draw with chalk on the driveway. Not the way he planned on spending his Saturday afternoon, but with the washing machine broken, the kid’s mother had to go to the laundromat. “She could’ve taken him,” his buddy on the phone said. “No kidding; she …

Waitress, Please! I’ll Have the Bit-chop!

by on January 4, 2020 :: 0 comments

Hey nearly tripped up tripped down tripped over but bu b—got back on’em okay. Much the wiser. After talking it down over with my waitress we got outta’ ‘dere again. So, talkdown over much more productive than talk down all over. All over; from head to toe front to back inside to outside every cubic anything. As; all over; no …

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