Featured Stories

the orange book was an abomination

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The orange book was an abomination. The people working in the shop left it to work its own way ‘round. Shaliqua saw it on one of the tables Thursday morning. When all surfaces were wiped but that table, she abandoned the task in favor of shining spoons. From behind the counter, with her right eye closed, she held each spoon …

July 4, 2020 :: 0 comments

Trash Vampires

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Midday bartending is witnessing drinkers begin, then see them end before your night even starts. Ending shift drinks are something to hold to, same as a nurse in aged green scrubs holds to her deep yellow beer. She daydreams, day drinks, and has for two hours. She’s looked towards me but far into her own past. Or into what happens …

June 27, 2020 :: 0 comments

Live Chat with Gremlin

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Customer: I tried to pay with PayPal for my Serenity Serum. My PayPal Transaction ID is o-4AR19803G257038B. I entered the payment at 9:55 PM. Reggie: Good evening! I will be happy to help you. May I have your Street Address, City, State and Zip Code to locate your order? 9:56 PM. Customer: Yet, End of Time webpage said I need …

June 20, 2020 :: 0 comments

Contributed Stories (Past Year)

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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 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 …

Airports & Sadness

by on May 16, 2020 :: 0 comments

Airports and airplanes always give me a sense of new beginnings. The moment an airplane takes off, gravity changes and pseudo force pushes us back to the seat. Then the flight continues. Everything seems like a celebration with happy stewards walking across the plane, asking if everything is okay. Sometimes a hard turbulence may strike and suddenly everyone is praying …

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 …

Bishopbriggs

by on April 8, 2020 :: 0 comments

He invited me to the swimming pool for a dip. I pondered over my bikini of too many low-cut bits. I could not think of myself at Bishopbriggs in such a strip. The name suggested a stronghold of monks that a monastic vein in my heart had always cherished. I deliberated over the matter with a troubled wit then decided …

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 …

Connectivity

by on March 7, 2020 :: 0 comments

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, …

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. …

Dangerously Afloat

by on April 25, 2020 :: 0 comments

Smoothly, it floated, sashaying down the slope. It twirled around, nudging its posterior, dancing to the tune of pitter-patter. Oh! It had the moves! The notes were clear. It’s movement swift. It was a sight to see the graceful moves. Captivated, they looked at it shimming its way through. As the droplets became heavy with moisture, it bobbed as it …

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 …

El Rialto

by on April 21, 2020 :: 0 comments

“His was the light of the world, a lit match or the whole city, burning.” — Robert Creeley My old friend visited Las Vegas with his Katrina rescue shepherd, stayed at a nostalgic Motel 8 on the main drag, urine and stale disinfectants warded off most demonic spirit possessions in the late 1970s. Rescued from nowhere, its neon sign stared off …

Feeling Loss

by on May 9, 2020 :: 0 comments

I play Santa the year after Dad leaves. I’m fifteen. Older sister Nancy and Mother insist. I try to make his suit fit. It’s too wide, lanky body invading another man’s space. Spaces rife with mystery and Dad’s inner thoughts, concealed. I can’t even do Dad’s booming voice. I think of the act of leaving, taking furniture, leaving rooms and …

From “Blooming,” excerpts from Sleeping Beauty

by on April 29, 2020 :: 0 comments

My oh so bloomy garden auteurist domain, where savored I wholesale poetic license, was far more fantastic than the famed hanging wonder of the world terraced in antiquity for a melancholy missus by her kingly spouse. Still and all I wanted the whole blooming world as my garden my luring organa garden my fata morgana garden brimming in the brightest …

Geez, Louise, Love is a Hassle

by on June 6, 2020 :: 0 comments

Geez Louise, I know what’s wrong with me. Even so, there are times when you must talk to something called a psychologist — in my case, for a lawsuit. (You know what they say about female litigants: nutty, slutty, or crooked.) And here I am sitting across from a woman who is probably crazier than I am. She’s scared of …

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 …

How Close Can Your Shadow Be to Mine?

by on April 1, 2020 :: 0 comments

Alcohol will still be everywhere but soon no one can buy any from bars. “You can go home whenever you want, just lock up by 9,” is the last thing my boss says before disappearing out the door. “And wash your hands. We’re filthy.” He wouldn’t be here for the end of an era’s closing time. Our old vices don’t …

How to Prepare to Watch The Lighthouse

by on April 11, 2020 :: 0 comments

Don’t be alarmed if alarms alarm in your head. Remember, the lighthouse of your body is in your head. The island of your head. I have a head. It alarmed during the film. But this is because I am a horror fan and this was horror is horror and I got in an argument with a Poet Laureate from Minnesota …

Human Malfunction

by on April 18, 2020 :: 0 comments

WARNING: IMPACT IMMINENT COURSE OF ACTION: WAKE PILOT WAKE UP. WAKE UP! Donte Zazzala was sleeping. Deeply. Dreaming of the riches that would one day be his. The women he would have, the drink and the debauchery. The semblance of a smile rested on his scarred sleeping face. YOU ARE FLYING ON A COLLISION COURSE! YOU MUST PULL UP! The ship …

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 …

Incumbent

by on May 30, 2020 :: 0 comments

Michael was medicated—by a doctor, no less—and had two dozen nurses and a security guard to make sure he didn’t do anything rash. They were more careful than he knew—nobody else in the hospital had a name like his. It invoked visions of a dozen police cars lined up in front of the building, of litigation, of manipulation of public …

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 …

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 …

Mailman Rachel

by on June 13, 2020 :: 0 comments

I can’t think of a better job. I’m the third-generation mailman in my family. We call ourselves “mailmen” and won’t change that term no way, no how. Grandpop worked in Germantown, Daddy worked in Bucks County, and me, the only girl, I work in Huntingdon Valley, PA. Lordy, Lordy. What a gorgeous area that is. Would you believe I’ve been …

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 …

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 …

Ninja Egg

by on March 28, 2020 :: 0 comments

In science class, the teacher was telling us that human beings can’t lay eggs and that only chickens can lay eggs, but I piped up, “Humans can lay eggs, you’re wrong, you stupid teacher!” The teacher said, “Well, that’s what all the smartest people in the world say is true and you can prove it through science. You can poop …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Riding High In L.A.

by on March 21, 2020 :: 0 comments

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 …

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 …

Shimmering

by on March 14, 2020 :: 0 comments

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 …

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 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 …

Standing Here

by on April 4, 2020 :: 0 comments

Jack didn’t know why, but over the last year he’d been thinking about that day a lot. It wasn’t a day that had been out of the ordinary. And it wasn’t a day that he could recall that he’d really thought about for more than thirty years. But there it was anyway. Just as it had been for the last …

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 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 Devil May Feel

by on May 23, 2020 :: 0 comments

It’s Tuesday night and the table is full of weeping women, various stages of sex appeal, holding paperback books with the power of the universe coursing through their hands. The throbs of infinite emotion beating in their hearts. They are all on the same page. The same paragraph. Cindy reads every word aloud while everyone else follows along. Her satin …

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 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 …

Tropical Storm

by on May 2, 2020 :: 0 comments

The storm had passed by the time that dawn came. Wind fluttered into the back porch from over the lake. It had been a long journey from the other side of the continent but they would need to make it back soon. But before that could happen there would be kind of a long journey in and of itself and …

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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