the madswirl zineopen micpoetry forumshort storiesthe mad gallerycolumnsclassifiedsfriendscontact & submissions
home | short stories
featured stories

Bad Dreams by Joe Malone


Todd Smith woke to find a raccoon biting his chin. / "I was at camp, dreaming that my mom wanted me to shave. Christ, I've only got about four hairs." / Aaron Goldberg woke to discover that all his teeth had fallen out. / "I've had the same dream a hundred times. Out come the teeth. My therapist told me I was worried about losing my job, or maybe I was keeping a secret from someone. Turns out, she didn't know bubkes about gum disease." / Arvis Portlander was taken into custody at Microphonics, Inc., his place of work, nude in his cubicle. / "It was a lot more fun in my dream," he said. / Matty Logan, seventh grader, came down to breakfast on a Wednesday-morning school day. / "My mom was in tears. I asked her what was wrong. She told me she had had a dream...

added 07.25.14

Killing Field by Tyler Malone


The way you can’t swallow, a thick throat, swollen with the need for a wet drop, that was their country. The hunter left his family to gather supper, a hog to slaughter. The kill would happen early, while the woman and children would pick cotton. The hunter would return with blood on his hands, food for bellies. With death, there’s life. / A grown woman and two girls receive kisses from the hunter, heavy with a rifle, ammunition brass, and a canteen of well water from the cool earth odorous with snakes and spiders. Oily, like worm bellies. As if it’s the taste of gold everyone seems to rush towards with cool veins and hot beating hearts, the hunter sips the well’s canteen but its goodness is blind to the eyes of the maker, washing out his wife and babies...

added 07.18.14

Waiting All Day for the Mailman by Jim Meirose


I’m awake, I’m awake—I only look asleep because I am in the daily trance of waiting for the mailman; I’m sitting on the front couch with a cold coming on. But my mood is good—the mailman will come. She will— / When the mailman comes, it will just be wonderful! Who knows what she will bring what it can be what can it be what will it be— / Oh! Silly me! I dozed off—I peer out the window—still no mailman. I go to make a coffee in my Keurig machine to keep me awake—need to be awake, need to be, for the mailman—the machine does its job and I go back to the front couch, and set the coffee down on the coffee table how appropriate how appropriate— / I might be money, I always expect money this time of month...

added 07.10.14

contributing writers : 07.2013 - 07.2014

peruse our short story archives here

After the Anti-Depressants by Mike Lafontaine
He met her funnily enough when he had to fill out his prescription. He was working as a mechanic at the time and he kept getting these headaches, no matter what he did, no matter how many Advil he would take, these headaches would not go away and since he did not have insurance and his work didn't have medical coverage, so he just lived with it. It was only when he blacked out at work and almost had a car that he was winching fall on top of him that his boss Roscoe told him to go to the doctor and that the company would pay for it. / After the doctor made him take some tests and made him follow his finger and asked him some personal questions that was none of his damn business did the doctor finally say that he didn't know what was wrong with him... (added 09.10.13)

Anything Goes by Oleg Razumovsky
One day I sat with Natasha near her house, eating cakes. Her parents hated me. They thought that I was a useless scum. Even her Father, a pathetic drunk, despised me. But Natasha sorta loved me and sometimes brought some food from home. Even booze, on occasion. She was a kind girl. / Just the day before we had got shitfaced drunk. After we had finished two bottles of vodka at my place, we decided to go somewhere. I don’t remember exactly where and it is not very important. Maybe to Van Gogh, who had invited us to visit him last weekend. When we went out it was already getting dark. When drunk, Natasha rushes straight forward like a tank, and does not see anything in front of her... (added 04.18.14)

babygirl by James Rodehaver
you got any cash? / no. / you got a ride? / no, not really. / how'd you get here sugar? / my dad owns this station. i live across the road, with him and my sister, sal. / aah. hey, you wanna screw around? / um, are you a prostitute? / WHAT DID YOU SAY?! (reaches into her pocket.) / i'm sorry miss, it's just... / DO I LOOK LIKE A WHORE TO YOU?! (pulls out a 9mm. points it at him.) / NO, miss i'm real sorry, please don't shoot! / now, i'll ask again, (puts gun away.) / do you wanna screw around?... (added 08.24.13)

Back to Bad Homburg, Again by Addie Soaraki
Like, for sure. Got my gutter crown on and I’m pitching rocks from the bank of the crick, drinking cheap beer, a full quart of rot-gut, malt liquor really, and that’s about all there is. For me, at least. / Did I say the park’s gone dark? It’s amazing when you’re sitting in the cool evening of the fall, your back against a tree, maybe an oak or a sumac—how the heck am I supposed to know? I’m not a botanist and biology is not an interest here, man—so satisfied with the iPod and swell of warmth in the stomach that you’re out of Swisher Sweets and it isn’t even 7:30. / All the benches are broken. Gang-bangers. You know, fourteen-year-olds out for the thrill of empires nobody even knows exist except the gangs, the rival gangs, and the other gangs, and then the gangs outside the other gangs, a concentric circle of military activity right under my damned nose... (added 02.28.14)

Bars by Carl Kavadlo
...And so, there are bars for the daring of the night. / Then I left too. / And that’s what you see. The wild cherry cocktail sticks inviting adventure. Bars give you relief from the ordinary humdrum. / In front of the club, I lit a Marlboro cigarette. “A band named Pacific Radio Fire…” I inhaled, exhaled twice. “And who thought people under 25 read Richard Brautigan again in 2014?” I took another drag, staring at headlights, considering the possibility of Bukowski’s transmigration. I was pretty drunk, and maybe the whole thing happened, or maybe it didn’t happen at all. / Then I flipped the cig high in the air watching the yellow, glowing arc spin... (added 01.11.14)

Because of You by Mike Fiorito
Making a big entrance, Uncle Tutti arrived late at my high school graduation party, like a Hollywood star. He wore a smart black suit, buttoned near the collar and black and white Domino shoes. / “My godson,” said Uncle Tutti, pinching my cheek with the thick fingers of one hand and slyly handing me an envelope with the other. / “Now, I’m going to sing you a song,” he said. / Tutti pulled away from me, his periwinkle blue eyes sparkling like precious stones polished by the Mediterranean. / Now with his back to us, Tutti began speaking to the musicians, giving instructions. Tutti adjusted his suit, giving his white-gold pinky ring a twist, making sure the sapphire stone faced forward. / He turned around, looked toward me, and said, “This is for you, kid. I love you.”... (added 03.21.14)

Bestial by Owen J Traylor
Kevin finished reading aloud from the dog-eared book of quotations on the table in front of him, and took a mouthful from his pint of bitter. He looked across at his drinking partner Ron, who as so often seemed lost for words. After a few moments’ silence Kevin continued: / “That’s what makes us different from animals, Ron,” said Kevin, as ever formulating his opinion as an incontrovertible fact. / “What’s that then, Kevin? Money? Animals don’t have money, do they?”asked Ron, his inability to follow Kevin’s line of thought (or anyone else’s for that matter) Kevin found both amusing and irritating by turns... (added 03.14.14)

Bondage Games by Vincent Vassilev
Oh yeah. They wanna make ravens out of all of us. Like, how many ravens can a guy see in Miami, Fla.? Don’t not ask me how, but I did see a raven. Kind of a square head, looked downtrodden, dusty, sickened, perhaps because of the heat. I thought about Edgar Allen Poe’s “Nevermore,” and even said it to the raven as I was leaving a book store. I had bought some books about history of the Kennedy assassination. Sitting there, juggling around in that plastic retail bag, the books were just waiting to be read. You know, like books do; they wait to to be read, not said. Oh yeah, I say that a lot. Oh yeah, like I’m the Kool-Aid Man. Oh yeah! / It was fricking hot out here in Daytona Beach, and yes, it was surprising to see a raven that had flown so far south... (added 04.11.14)

By Their Fruits by Charles D. Tarlton
When the police arrived, the old woman was still in a state of confusion, having stumbled over the row of decorative bricks by the bay window and rolled down the slopping lawn to the road. / She declined any kind of medical attention, though, and would have walked off to town in a sort of huff, if the police had not insisted on a medical examination. / “I just want you to know that I’ve seen what’s going on around here,” the old woman said, turning her face away from the policeman. / The young Trooper winked at us, put her in the back seat of his cruiser, and drove away. / “She actually seemed annoyed with us,” Betsy said, “and she was the one trespassing.” / “Does anyone know who she is?” I asked, as we watched the police car turn at the big hedges, and disappear. (added 08.20.13)

Cable TV Commitment Phobia by Diane Malk
I hung up the phone, mentally exhausted from the battle that had just ensued. I had just survived something worse than negotiating with a used car salesman. Talking to my cable TV provider. / After receiving the flyer advertising the new-to-me feature of On Demand, touting thousands of movies and channels at no extra cost, my interest was piqued. Weary of flipping through the 500-plus channels we already receive and rarely finding anything suitable for my viewing pleasure, it was only logical that I still craved more channel options. (I know what you’re thinking and I really do have a life.) / The woman who answered my call confirmed, that yes, I did qualify for the free receiver upgrade. So far, so good... (added 06.07.14)

Clown by Ron Riekki
The frat near Whittier decided to have a clown party. It was Good Friday and seemed like the thing to do. / Nine teenagers from the party decided to cram into a top-down convertible and drive home. It’s what clowns do. Pile into a car. But clowns usually don’t do that drunk on a major California highway. / The car hit a tree going seventy-miles-per-hour. None of the clowns had seatbelts on. Most of the clowns went through the front windshield. Or over the front windshield. Some hit the tree. Some went past the tree. / They landed in parking lot. They landed on grass. They landed on each other. / We arrived to find a pile of clowns... (added 05.23.14)

Clown Car by Steven Gowin
I drove the clown car (used to, anyway) before I quit the shows. / To be clear, I ain't talkin' about ass clown drivin'... racing like these young no class fools do. / No. What I say is that KiKi LeBlanc worked the circus. Never mind white face, never mind Bull Clown. My job was take the falls, act the dope, finish at the wrong end of the slapstick for the blow off. Auguste, the fool. / I know you gotta find out about that car. Can't wait. OK. First off, clowns don't come up no trap door and flood out. Think about it. You can't count on a trap door every venue, and we used a tent most of the time. Them roustabouts dig no tunnels. / My car was the real deal. Kept a little bitty Chevy, American brand, and painted it red white and blue with big white stars—patriotic clown shit, understand?... (added 12.27.13)

Cooder by Oliver Zarandi
The funeral was big. / Cooder sat at the back. He was dressed in a black suit. He hadn’t shaved. He fiddled with a puzzle. He twisted it left. He twisted it right. / He could not solve it. / He’d probably never solve it. / The person next to him told him to shush. Cooder slouched into his chair and scowled. He slouched so low. He was being swallowed by the chair. / His ass was too big to be swallowed entire. / The commotion in the church, it died down. Can you call the people in a funeral an audience? / It’s some entertainment, Cooder thought. / He sat up in his chair. His shoes were patent. A woman behind him laughed and said the gentleman in front looked cheap. / Cooder released a clap of wind from his asshole. / Choke on it... (added 04.25.14)

The Cosmic Cardinal Coastal Club by Neil Post
Golf on television. What’s up with that? Do you know anyone who plays golf? / Here it is, Sunday afternoon, and I have finished my chores, emptied the garbage, cleaned the sink, brushed-out the crapper, and now, when I’m ready to sit down on the couch, there it is: another dumb golf game. / I am not knocking golf. Sure, golf is a fine sport for middle-aged men who like knocking their balls around on grass, but if anyone wants to watch golf, all anyone has to do is go to a golf course and watch people play, like, golf. Get it? / Golf is way too slow for television, but for as long as this dude has lived, all I get is the old televised golf game from name your country club here... (added 05.09.14)

Draw the Line ‘Tween by Dawn Wilson
Elevator got stuck. It jam jam, man. No go. Like a can o’ spinach with no Popeye, no extra virgin Olive Oil no ga-ga-ga-ga and no two men vying for the rape of that extra virgin. No crime so long as she’s ripe, man. / I crawl down its hole. Like peace. Without the prosperity. Too much dust. I ain’t no allergic little shit ass like that kid she bring home says is hers. Like hell. That bitch never gave birth. And while I’ll give Jesus an immaculate conception—shit happens—there’s no way in hell Mary got so lucky with the birth. No tearing, fucking breach baby just slides right out? Hell no. You know Jesus was breach. Backwards to the whole world. Maybe wasn’t ready to see the shit he was falling into. / Fix it up my son fix it up fix their little red wagons. / Down the hole this ain’t no Lewis Carroll shit. No white rabbit ever came down here... (added 10.31.13)

Editor by Rose Aiello Morales
I am not a morning person. / That being said, most weekdays I am up at five o'clock to make Alex breakfast. Somehow, the eggs are not broken, the scramble is light and fluffy, the bread is perfectly toasted, the myriad of pills Alex takes are all laid out in the right dosage. I lay the food and accouterments on the table, kiss my husband goodnight, and then go back to bed. The last half hour was obviously a dream. / I actually awaken at 9:00 am, a civilized hour for a civilized person. I shoo out the lucky kitty who gets to share my bed, make coffee, toast a bagel, and bring it to the computer to consume while I write. / Fog rolls in, fog rolls out. I check the pleas from friends to read their work, go to YouTube to watch some videos, chew my fingernails because there are no pencil erasers... (added 01.24.14)

Exploring Space and Time in Rappahannock County by Mike Lafontaine
Millie and I bunkered down against the cold months in Rappahannock County by sitting near the fireplace and reading books aloud to one another while watching old black and white films. / I had never felt peace like that before or since. I grew up in a household with an abusive father and an overbearing mother. My sisters were loud and my surroundings were ugly. We had no pets and when we welcomed in strays they usually died or ran away within a few weeks of living with us. / I realized at an early age I was being taught the wrong things so deeply ingrained was this belief that I disregarded everything my parents wanted for me. Faith. Servitude. Intolerance to others... (added 12.20.13)

Female Lovebird Available to a Home, Any Sort of Home, Doesn’t Even Have to be a Good Home by Diane Malk
They were a cute couple, those lovebirds. Sporting deep blue feathers and black heads; they were almost identical looking, except that the male was a bit plumper. They were known collectively as the Nummers. We never even bothered to assign them individual names. Sitting together side-by-side on their perch with their little birdie torsos touching is how they spent their days. / One morning I looked into their cage and discovered Mr. Nummer’s corpse lying on the bottom, motionless. Odd, he had been the more robust of the two. In the days that followed, it surprised us to see that his feathered widow was chirping so happily... (added 03.07.14)

Fifteen Round Fight by Jim Meirose
Round 1: In every profession there are a few who choose to rise above the commonplace. / Fighter 1: Undamaged. / Fighter 2: Undamaged. / Round 2: Along the path, each in his own way must, of necessity, exhibit judgment, accept the burden of responsibility, and with diligence fulfill his vital role. / Fighter 1: Undamaged. / Fighter 2: Cut ear. / Round 3: Your visit to Las Vegas in part at least should be tax deductible. / Fighter 1: Cut lip. / Fighter 2: Cut ear. / Round 4: Putting aside the obvious benefits of prestige and personal satisfaction, consider for a moment what an all-Cadillac fleet can mean to you as a businessman. / Fighter 1: Cut lip. / Fighter 2: Cut ear, swollen hand... (added 10.18.13)

Fighting by Rose Aiello Morales
Sometimes it gets into my dreams. English/Italian words, one language turning into see jack fuck you geloso cagna asshole và a farti fottere! run. Someone's hammering nails, soda bottles are falling, marbles are rolling on the floor. / Then I wake and I know just what it is. They're fighting again. Mommy and Daddy screaming around the house, doors slamming, Daddy argues better because he knows more languages. Mommy knows some Yiddish, but not enough to say what she really wants to say. / If I'm in my room, I stay there. I never want to be in the middle, but sometimes it happens. Mommy grabs me so Daddy won't hit her. Daddy promises me that he'll take me away and Mommy will never see me again. (I wish that one were true)... (added 09.28.13)

The Generosity and Versatility of Scatology by Jenean McBrearty
“Da-da, do-do, do-da-da.” / That’s some good shit, man. / You’re shittin’ me. / It ain’t worth a shit. / It’s all bull-shit. / She’s just talkin’ shit. / You don’t know shit from Shinola. / No shit, Sherlock. / Scared the shit out of me! / I don’t give a shit. / That’s some sorry-ass shit, all right. / “Here’s the thing. It sounds low-class. It’s street talk. You’d never hear the Queen say the word shit. Least not in public.” / Marty nodded his head, seriously pondering Freddie’s wisdom. “We’ll never hear the Queen say anything. Here’s another thing. All around the world, people are talkin’ shit and we never hear them either. You ever wonder what people are saying in places like Paraguay or Papua New Guinea?”... (added 03.28.14)

Going Nowhere by Roger McMurphy
She liked to let the bird out. She liked to let her out and watch it fly free from room to room of the house, from windowsill to windowsill. She liked the flurry of the wings and the mild brush of air that wafted over her when the bird flew by. Nothing should be caged up all its life, she knew; nothing as beautiful and innocent as this bird. It came out of the cage like a baby being born each time, its joy obvious as it flew gracefully around the perimeter of the room. It reminded her of a happy child—and she imagined the child growing through the years as the child she’d always wanted would. (added 09.17.13)

A Good Student by Amy Barry
Sean and Rose met in an online chat room. He proposed after their second in-person date, and she said yes. They honeymooned in Bali, and it was the most romantic setting either one had ever seen. One evening they watched the sunset at Tanah Lot Temple. After dark had fallen, they were entertained by the “Monkey Dance” performance with seventy men dancing in a semi-circle around a bonfire. The only music to accompany the dancers was the beats of their palms hitting their chests and other parts of their body, accompanied by chants and shouts. Sean showed an overwhelming curiosity at the hypnotic performance, as if he was under a spell. (added 12.06.13)

Here’s To Kissing Chimneys by Addie Soaraki
Yeah, sure. You’ve heard the old line: The young lady tells you, “I smell smoke,” and you know how it goes: Where there is smoke, most definitely, fire exists. / Did I mention fire exists? Pardon me, buddy, but after being locked in the so-called basement of life, lorded over, of course, by the Masters of All Time and All Space, you sometimes feel like heading South and starting a little lightning of your own. Don’t you? / And right: Nice guys always finish last, don’t they? Not exactly. Especially when life is a bar, and all the admirals and body language experts, the college boys who numb their instincts with alcohol and Singapore Slings, only to be force-fed someone else’s Thai food, you end-up being not so nice as you used to be, don’t you? / Been there. Done that... (added 06.27.14)

I Do Not Exist by Mel Waldman
I do not exist. I died yesterday. I can’t recall the exact date. It doesn’t matter. A year ago, 10, 50 years ago, 1 day, yesterday, it happened. A mad metamorphosis occurred. 1 hour, 1 second, 1 nanosecond ago. Puff! / I died. / “Oh no,” you say. “You’re still here. I see, hear, and smell you.” / “So what?” I say. / “But you’re alive,” you protest. / “Alive?” / “Yes.” / “What is life?” I ask. / “One infinite breath.” / “Infinite?” I say, looking quizzically at the other. / “Almost infinite,” you reply. “You breathe until you stop breathing,” you clarify. / “But what if you live for only 1 breath?” I say. / “That 1 breath seems eternal,” you say defiantly. / “I don’t believe you,” I protest. / “Too bad. Life is mysterious. Truth is fantastic. And you are alive.”... (added 02.07.14)

Independence Day by Oleg Razumovsky
On Independence Day we sat with a former translator Phil in the park near the bronze deer. Soviet soldiers brought it from Goering's hunting ground and gave it to civilian children. / Phil quit translating right after the last default, then worked as a guard and drank like a pig cheap counterfeit vodka called Freedom. / We sat, drank Freedom, and talked until we smelled an aroma of the expensive perfume. We raised our murky eyes from vodka on the bench and saw a group of officials led by the governor himself. They were passing us quickly by, looking at us disapprovingly. To celebrate, we began spontaneously throwing up in the most insolent manner, praising Freedom, the best among the cheap alcohol, but then it was too much of a good thing... (added 01.17.14)

Integral to the Whole: The Voyeur’s Role in Culture by Jeff Winke
I'm a voyeur. / But rather than surreptitiously stealing glances through the open blinds of a neighbor's windows while sauntering or crouching behind a bush for a longer gaze, I sit in plain view. I’m right here. I am not a peeping Tom. My name is not Tom. / I feign the look of disinterest, but I watch and see what's going on. I see life scripts being acted out. I see the depth of lives, from the shallow to the deep yearners. I see the scars and beauty, the heartless and saints. / Amidst the clutter, there are those who sponge attention. They are the lush, broad green leaves that require the sun. It's evidenced in more than how they dress—although, the trim and fit of clothes help. There is an attitude. A tilt of head, sideways glance, a posture that exudes a desire to be admired. They clearly need it. (added 09.03.13)

Just Sleeping by Pattie Flint
I've always hated the smell of almonds. / One time when I was fourteen I was baking some cookies. I think they were some sort of vanilla cranberry shortbread cookie. I was very proficient at baking. / The recipe called for two teaspoons of vanilla extract, but I wasn't looking when I pulled the dark brown glass bottle out of the revolving spice rack in the cupboard, and as I was pouring it, my hand slipped and half the bottle's contents spewed out into the mix below. The stinging smell of almonds wafted up and assailed my nose like a physical blow. I was horrified. It reminded me of the time that I tried to make old fashioned yeast bread but the yeast didnít take and so the bread was harder than steel. I was reminded of this fact every year when my brother would jokingly re-gift that very same loaf to me for Christmas. But I baked the cookies anyway... (added 10.02.13)

Kathleen Malone, Genius Detective by Alyssa Black
"Esmeralda seems to really like you." / "She's a cat." / "Right, and a cat has no motivation to lie about how she feels about others. She’s very useful when trying to decipher the intentions of those who are in question." / "Does that mean I can leave now?" / "No, no, you won't get off that easy. Even if you're not directly involved, you might know about others who are of interest to me." / "And if I refuse to tell?" / She shot off quickly, with fear-inducing ferocity, "If you refuse to tell, than I will have no choice but to go back to the drawing board. Considering the time and space, and resources of this endeavor, your refusal to cooperate could ultimately result in his death." / "I chose to accept that risk. After all, it's every man for himself out there."... (added 06.20.14)

The Las Vegas Hangover Cure for a Poet by Brenton Booth
I was hungover and alone on a Thursday morning in a Las Vegas hotel room and decided to go to a cage fighting gym and do some training. I took a taxi to 4055 West Sunset Road. The gym was full of guys I’d been watching on pay per view and dodgy pirated DVDs. / I looked at the schedule and signed up for a grappling class. Truth is my wrestling is terrible, though my jiu jitsu is okay. / I was immediately paired with Peter, a nineteen year old from Denver that trained at this gym every day and wanted to get into the U.F.C. Shit, didn’t they know I was a thirty-one-year-old poet! I honestly hadn’t even trained properly since my jiu jitsu coach returned to Brazil two years earlier. And even without the hangover, I was way out of shape... (added 11.16.13)

A letter to Frank Weatherman by Amy Barry
Dear Frank, / How are you? I hope the journey was smooth for you. What is life in Okinawa like? / The day you left, I thought the clouds were falling on me and the sun had vanished. My lonely self consumed by the weight of emptiness. One time I thought I was going blind from the cascading tears blurring my vision. / Stevie Ray Vaughn's song “Bad to the Bone” and Billy idol's “Sweet sixteen” were playing in my ears non-stop. I am delighted you left them for me. / The day you left, Tita took the afternoon off work. She accompanied me and entertained my erratic moods. Another time, she drove me to the side entrance of the American Embassy. I felt strangely rooted, unable to move. I imagined you walking out the back gate to greet us. I waited in vain. I was being foolish... (added 09.24.13)

A Little Ghost Story (The Intruder) by Ralph Freda
Dear Frank, / How are you? I hope the journey was smooth for you. What is life in Okinawa like? / The day you left, I thought the clouds were falling on me and the sun had vanished. My lonely self consumed by the weight of emptiness. One time I thought I was going blind from the cascading tears blurring my vision. / Stevie Ray Vaughn's song “Bad to the Bone” and Billy idol's “Sweet sixteen” were playing in my ears non-stop. I am delighted you left them for me. / The day you left, Tita took the afternoon off work. She accompanied me and entertained my erratic moods. Another time, she drove me to the side entrance of the American Embassy. I felt strangely rooted, unable to move. I imagined you walking out the back gate to greet us. I waited in vain. I was being foolish... (added 07.04.14)

The Man Who Wrote Too Many Poems by Liam Bishop
He is 57 years old. He lives in a shabby house with shabby floorboards and damp, tacky wallpaper his wife had chosen to decorate the home with, many years ago. His wife: 55. Her name: Georgia. His dog: Sally. He walks her nearly every day while his wife is at home or working at the homeless shelter. They live on West Norton Street. Once, the street occupied over 35 tenants on the entire strip of the road. Now it only occupies five tenants of whom he and his wife do not talk with and vice-versa. Deprived homes stretch along the street. Boarded up windows, hanging gutters and white, thick, bird shit cover the steps and porches of the homes... (added 12.12.13)

Mr. & Mrs. Mosquito by Wes Henry
A mosquito turned to his wife one day and said, “You’re a blood-sucker.” / “And you’re an asshole,” the wife shot back. / “What?” the husband said. “No, no, no. You misunderstood me. I didn’t mean it like that. I was just stating a fact. You are a blood-sucker. You land on animals and poke them and siphon blood from them like drinking through a straw. I, however, am not a blood-sucker. I eat only plants and nectar. That’s all I was saying. I didn’t mean anything by it.” / “I didn’t mean anything by it, either,” she said. “I was also just stating a fact.” (added 08.17.13)

My Dog Converted to Islam by John Vaughn
Sheila, my dog, used to be a very fine dog. She was quiet, well behaved and a gentle companion. She’s a Toy Australian Shepherd, 15 inches tall and 15 pounds, with no tail to speak of and a fondness for chasing rabbits. For a few years I really did not believe that any finer dog ever existed. / So you can imagine my chagrin and dismay when she converted to Islam and transformed our happy home into a place of strife and disarray. I blame myself, really. I should have known what was happening months earlier. I saw the small tell-tale signs of impending conversion but I failed to connect the dots and see where these unorthodox behaviors were leading. I simply missed the larger picture.(added 11.22.13)

The New No Novel of Chapter 4 by Carl Kavadlo
There are normal days on highway 56 going Southbound: / Traffic at standstill, the late august heat making the air sticky and heavy with the pungent odor of gasoline, the sounds of a hundred cars clenching on their brakes at various intervals, and the disharmonious din of opposing music genres melting together through the tops of open windows, every driver sighing and squirming, trying every sort of mental gymnastic to keep from dozing off in the evening sun, which is still sweltering. / Trapped in their respective vehicles, they call old friends or spouses, change the radio station, clench and unclench, sigh, hum, tell stories, run off lists in their head, go over the day’s affairs, rehearse the evening, the upcoming weekend, or even the distant future; some reorganize goals and dreams, lament the passing of time, make resolutions, face their demons, forgive and forget. (added 09.07.13)

Normal Daze by Chimera Loe
There are normal days on highway 56 going Southbound: / Traffic at standstill, the late august heat making the air sticky and heavy with the pungent odor of gasoline, the sounds of a hundred cars clenching on their brakes at various intervals, and the disharmonious din of opposing music genres melting together through the tops of open windows, every driver sighing and squirming, trying every sort of mental gymnastic to keep from dozing off in the evening sun, which is still sweltering. / Trapped in their respective vehicles, they call old friends or spouses, change the radio station, clench and unclench, sigh, hum, tell stories, run off lists in their head, go over the day’s affairs, rehearse the evening, the upcoming weekend, or even the distant future; some reorganize goals and dreams, lament the passing of time, make resolutions, face their demons, forgive and forget. (added 09.07.13)

Objects and Illusions by Stephanie Bradbury
They had the kind of house that looked like no one lived in it. It was a beautiful three story brick home with a brilliantly polished wood staircase curving down the middle. Each piece of furniture in the living room was positioned too far apart from the others, as if to avoid confrontation. On the coffee table a photo album sat precisely in the center. The cover photo was of a boy and his Golden Retriever running on a black and white beach. I assumed it was the picture that came with the album. The rest of the book was empty. / There were too many mirrors in the house. I saw on a design show once how mirrors can be used to create an illusion of space... (added 04.04.14)

On Radishchev Street by Oleg Razumovsky
At the beginning of the summer, in the heat, I hit the bottle. My wife, as usual, kicked me out of the house. I had absolutely no place to go. / For a while I cried at the window and begged her to let me in, but then I remembered that Father gave me the number of his new mobile the other day. / Father is my last chance in this life. He rescued me many times at critical moments. Just my savior in life, I'll be damned, I thought as I crossed myself and called him. Father was in a good mood. Most often he is not in a good mood and gets angry, then becomes fucking paranoid. / “Come over here, idiot, we will rescue you!” he said. / Well, we got shitfaced drunk, of course, on Radishchev Street, close to the marketplace there where they trade and cheat in the afternoon and rob and kill at night, at the time a rat woman sells moonshine. It's cheap and worse than poison... (added 10.10.13)

Paper and Pearl by Corina Roche
On paper, everything had been done more or less correctly. Married her college boyfriend, they both had good jobs, their son, albeit skinny and spotted, was doing well in school. Money in the bank. Equity. / It was their thirtieth wedding anniversary and it was the year they were supposed to open the wine they bought on their honeymoon and saved for this occasion. It was a Spanish wine they had bought in Andalucia. While the memories of their Spanish romp were foggy, she remembered walls were all colorfully tiled. The staircase was narrow. In the cafe, they sold wine wholesale and she got the idea to purchase a bottle for this day. They didn’t declare it at customs, a small act of defiance... (added added 02.21.14)

Pedro Seaman (Fishing for Tales) by David Michael Joseph
Dave and I sat outside the coffee shop on 6th Street, the one with the crazy Russian Barista who told stories, mostly with an insane and violent bent. The coffeehouse was the place for the dregs, the crazy and the downtrodden, sipping small coffees in between screams, fearful ranting and meth-induced rocking. I knew Dave through Gonzalez, John Gonzalez to be exact. I’d see him at the dark condo that overlooked the harbor. Now, I was on the computer and he was sitting in the corner, waiting for John’s instructions. / The story: years ago John was paralyzed in a surfing accident off Cabrillo Beach. Dave, a random onlooker, had saved his life and they became lifelong friends. He was John’s driver in the family van; chauffeuring him around the harbor city... (added added 11.09.13)

Pitch for a Picture Book by Joseph Robert
“Hello, Trisha Donnelly, Mindful Child Publications, correct? Sorry I read your name tag there, well, in advance, thanks for a moment of your time, Trish. Can I call you Trish? Oh, sorry, no that’s better isn’t it, Mrs. Donnelly? Oh, of course! More business-like. Thank you. You see I have this fantastic idea for a children’s picture book that I honestly believe is an exciting property, one which I’m taking to you, Mrs. Donnelly, and to Mindful Child first, due to your fantastic reputation. Right! Here we go. The cover is of an adorable fairy wearing glasses who’s fluttering on her dragonfly wings in front of a giant carnation in full-bloom. First page: A sad girl in a nice room, a mountain of toys in the background—she’s doing homework in a notebook and frowning... (added added 05.02.14)

A Random Hardworking Man by Chad Stroup
A random hardworking man punches Friday’s clock, wipes the grime from his brow, walks toward his ’84 Ford Ranger that’s in desperate need of a tune-up. If I choose to rob him for his easily forgeable paycheck and whatever pittance happens to be in his wallet at that moment, would the karmic scales be balanced if I were to donate half the money to Jerry’s Kids? Or would it be best to blow the dough on a twenty-buck BJ from a hooker with two kids? / I don’t exactly have Friar Tuck within my ranks, if you catch my drift... (added 08.04.13)

Rape of the South by Johnna A. Ammerman
I suppose I am a little boy now? How in the world did this sex change occur? When I wasn’t looking. Oh, I suppose like a manikin. / I will never forget those goddamned Southern Baptists blaming me for having been raped and then condemning me, shunning me, throwing me literally out of the band. I do not forget. I will never forget. / Surely I drank too much that night at the Kappa Alpha fraternity rush party, but I never planned on being roofied and thown back-down on a pool table during a party so crowded, so confusing, and so drug-oriented, I didn’t know up from down. Now did I? / Those little Civil War re-enactors. What in the world is wrong with their dumb world? They force their pledges to wear Confederate army uniforms and march around campus. A friend of mine leaned out of dorm 14 and shot the bird at the little bastards... (added 08.13.13)

Rendezvous with Dr. Spirit by Mel Waldman
I’m dying. I need emergency surgery. But I can’t leave my blood-red studio apartment, an antediluvian basement in a 2-family house on Thanatos Street, Brooklyn, New York. I’m too ill. In the past few weeks, I’ve called 911 a couple times, and when EMS arrived, they took me to the ER. On these occasions, the doctors admitted me for a few days. But always, they sent me home to die. My illness is incurable. / Only one man can help me. His name is Dr. Spirit. He lives in some esoteric and unknowable place in South America. I can’t get there, wherever it is. / He heals the sick via psychosurgery. While in a deep trance, Dr. Spirit performs a mental surgery without physically touching the patient’s body... (added 10.25.13)

Roken Is Dedulijk by Austin Brookner
"Make less noise," said the hotel owner, somewhere between a request and a command, while I walked up the stairs to my room. His near shout left me befuddled. But I most certainly sensed aggressiveness in his tone, something I had probably earned during my three day stint at the Hotel whatever-the-fuck it was called. I made my way up the narrow and steep windy stairs to my room. It was on the top floor. / "Where've you been?" / "I went to get cigarettes, remember?" / "That was at least two hours ago. What the hell, Austin?" / "Calm down. It wasn't two hours. Here're your Luckies." / "Don't tell me to calm down! I am calm! Jesus, would you look at the picture on the back of this box, it's horrible... (added 08.06.13)

Sedentary Escapade by Neil Rothstein
In the corridors outside I can hear footsteps receding softly—there they go, receding into chambers, chambers that I have never managed to find, although I know they exist somewhere in this portentous building, the echoes they create seem to be a physical lasting memory, a manifestation certainly. / I sit here at this table squinting my eyes at the glaring fluorescent light; all three of them are burning tightly into me like fingers. Outside there is a cold light reflecting on the surfaces, (but the expansionist view is the idea I can’t quite get rid of), the thin light hits my arms I notice, making no impression or change in the atmosphere in the room... (added 09.21.13)

Separation by Mike Fiorito
“Why did we separate?” my son Theo asks. He’s seven years old. / “We're not separated now, right? I'm with you tonight,” I say. “’Today is Monday and l will see you Wednesday, and Friday too.” / We’re drawing; we always talk when we draw. I can never get him to talk if I just ask him questions directly. I bought us each a drawing pad. I want him to do his own drawings. He often looks at my drawing and wants to draw in my book. But then I start drawing in his pad. If he likes what I’ve done, he’ll take over and make his own drawing. Beginning is hard. / “Where's your father?” he asks. / “My father died,” I tell him. / “Where'd he go?” / “I don’t know.”... (added 01.03.14)

Silver, Black, and Red by Chimera Loe
“Why did we separate?” my son Theo asks. He’s seven years old. / “We're not separated now, right? I'm with you tonight,” I say. “’Today is Monday and l will see you Wednesday, and Friday too.” / We’re drawing; we always talk when we draw. I can never get him to talk if I just ask him questions directly. I bought us each a drawing pad. I want him to do his own drawings. He often looks at my drawing and wants to draw in my book. But then I start drawing in his pad. If he likes what I’ve done, he’ll take over and make his own drawing. Beginning is hard. / “Where's your father?” he asks. / “My father died,” I tell him. / “Where'd he go?” / “I don’t know.”... (added 01.31.14)

Staying Home by Mike Fiorito
"I dream about you a lot these days," I say to my dad. / "And for some reason I show you up in your dreams,” he responds, laughing. / It doesn't feel like I'm dreaming. His voice is clear. The wisps of his grey hair are fine and crisp. I see the individual strands layered on top of each other. I always forget that I’m dreaming until he reminds me. He seems so real. / "I think it's because I'm getting older that I dream more of you. Not to mention that stress makes me crazy.” / "You have no idea the stress I had, no idea about being in debt and watching my family suffer." His face looks sad and heavy. “A gambler can’t help himself.” / "I know, I think about it sometimes. I can't believe you were able to take it."... (added 06.13.14)

A Surprise to Many with Isolated Egos by Liam Bishop
But no one can know where he is if we do not ask. We came into it, blankly, without question and there is no way we would get answers. So, we didn’t ask. / The ship came and we boarded on while some showed hesitation and some did not. “What is your plan?” he asked. / “To get stinking drunk” I replied. He gave no reply and I did not search for one. The ship was crowded and the people were loud, very loud, I could hear guts rumbling, an extreme bowel movements, sighing, yawning. We were all too close. / Then, during the night on the ocean, we saw a bright light ahead of the ship, no shape, no sound, just waves and intense light that blinded us for the duration. Now, the yawning, sighing and bowel movements turned into gasps, jaws dropping and wide eyes... (added 02.14.14)

Whiskey World Peace by Elvin "mAsKeRaiD" Holderfield
It should be required for everyone to get trashed underage, and at least once a month overage. / Nothing quite like talking to random people that you won’t give a shit about the next day. And there’d nothing quite like being best friends with them for 52 minutes. / There’s your world peace! The wells are only $2.00, and we’re all poor as hell. Screw work, but thank God for the bartenders that are working. / Buzzed yet? It’s only 10 PM. / Nothing like people crammed together like some damn factory farm. Nothing like a small, dim lit room with sticky floors. Nothing quite like yelling excessively to people five feet away from you ‘cuz it’s too damn loud. Nothing like getting shoulder bumped by douchebags and apologizing for standing where you are. Nothing quite like brushing up against a girl’s breast, and letting your elbow slowly graze past it... (added 09.14.13)

Yellow Whiz, Cracking Concrete by Addie Soaraki
At least Joe did get to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on cable. Sure. He was a movie buff from way back. And yes, while the Ang Lee cinematic display, an American-Chinese-Hong Kong-Taiwanese co-production, seemed vaguely entertaining with its goofy, Photoshop-eradicated tension cables that indeed allowed the chop-saki actors to swiftly glide from building to building in The Forbidden City of yore, that aspect of the entertainment seemed hokey to Joe, private and up-close film critic of solitude out there on the outskirts of Chicago. / Crimony. Joe’s excuse for an efficiency had dirty carpets of beige, tattered walls, some with fist indentions that indicated, at least to the critic, domestic abuse by past tenants... (added 05.16.14)

peruse our short story archives here

Welcome to madswirl's short stories. We've all got a story but some of us have an itch that we have to scratch and this is the place where the itchers go.

Please visit our submissions page for short story guidelines.