Devil Dog

NIP DOWN TIGHT - jamie grefe

An old seventy turns to fuel injection. I couldn't believe it. She'll sit on the head of a pin just to be with me. It's not that way now, the wet one. They resurrected the bike. You could bring it right in and pipe wrench, tear it apart. I'll keep the big cow here when I have to put my bride on the back, take her to the moon. That thing is like a spaceship, just go. I was here at four. He was up sucking coffee, had the house blue smoking cigarettes. I'm going to John the barber, get my hair cut short. Let her grow back. Nip down tight. It's windy again, a little breezy, not a sixty mile an hour gale like two racks of ribs. I sat in the garage and drank a couple of beers. Drunk, we are, all of us, tucked in grease. I'll ride down to Oscoda, have that GI cut me. He knows how to do it. Have I bored you already? I’ve got to get outside, see the day. One thing after another. I would like a couple more of them sleeping pills.

Jamie Grefe
Joy in the Morning
P.G. Wodehouse

SOMETIMES - brian ross

Sometimes, when a waiter ignores me or when a housewife in a sport utility vehicle cuts me off, I imagine that I have been kidnapped and beaten by a group of henchmen until the head lackey grudgingly admits that he has never seen a man take such a pummeling. He frees me and we garrote his boss, the effete kingpin of a drug empire. We assume control, increase territory, and double profits. We yacht around the world, leaving broken bodies and broken hearts in our wake. One morning, I sip cognac in my study while my unsuspecting comrade is machine-gunned in his master bathroom. I branch out, bankrolling the dictator of a small Latin American country. My country invades two neighboring nations. After the dictator’s assassination, I assume the presidency and pursue nuclear weapons. The U.S. President declares that I must step down or troops will storm my city at dawn. Instead, I hold a private screening of Charlie Chaplin films for my mistresses. When the sentinels alert me that commandos have breached my compound’s perimeter, I retire to my safe room, rub my Doberman’s belly, and use an antique Luger to fire one perfect shot through my right temple.

Brian Ross
Don DeLillo

THE FROGS - matt bruner

It was the night of what would have been Brad’s 22nd birthday. Not long ago we learned he had been killed somewhere in the Middle East. We celebrated accordingly.

We reminisced about younger times in that old, abandoned pool, our once-pink lungs giddy for the P-Lights Brad always stole from his drunk mother—one of the few things he ever got from his mother. His dad, on the other hand, just gave and gave—beatings, repressed memories, Black Cats. We always went to the pool with Black Cats—for the frogs. There were hundreds of them, singing for us all at once as we approached. They were easy to scoop with our dirty hands, and we took turns squeezing the little shits and stuffing them with firecrackers.

At that point I envisioned the men who scooped Brad up from murky waters, who force-fed him a similar poison and watched as he flopped and bubbled into a steaming, black bulk of sinew.

Frogs croaked outside, but I didn’t really hear anything.

Matt Bruner
The Night of the Gun
David Carr

SMOTHER - brittany harmon

Sometimes when I tell you to get on top I just want you to lay on me, not sexually but in stillness, like a human blanket. I want to be crushed by your weight, compressed by your body. Our heartbeats in sync or out of sync, I don’t care which, our stomachs rising and falling into each other, and it’s intimate and quiet and warm. But mostly I like feeling trapped by you, knowing that if you laid there too long my lungs would collapse, knowing that if you never uncovered me, I would suffocate. 

Brittany Harmon
Fast Machine
Elizabeth Ellen

LEMON POPPY SEED CAKE - carol deminski

I eat lemon poppy seed cake in the kitchen, you fuck my sister in her bedroom. I can't understand why she has sex with you. All those parts sloshing around. Gross.

I pop seeds between my teeth, a hint of citrus on my tongue.

You pad into the kitchen, jeans clinging to your hips. Your chest is flat and hairless. We don't talk.

You get a can of cola from the refrigerator and gulp your drink down in a mouthful, leave the empty on the counter. Your tee and sneakers are on the floor. You pick them up. Take them down the hall.

Mom works at Dr. Rosenblatt's during the day and MegaMart at night. When she comes home, I'm asleep.

My sister wears eyeliner and lip gloss. Sometimes she sticks tissues in her bra. I don't tell anybody, the things I see her do.

You come out of the bedroom with your arm around her. You walk my sister outside to your moped. The engine sounds like angry bees as you buzz away.

I cut another slice. A constellation of black stars in a yellow sky. My fork is overflowing. It's there for me. So much lemony goodness.

Carol Deminski
The Bee Loud Glade
Steve Himmer

HEY IF YOU ARE OUT THERE - kevin o' cuinn

She had Jackie Brown hair and a cream cheese laugh, came from San Diego. She was leaving Europe and going home—to the US, school, and Joe-boyfriend; going back to go forward, she’d say, and no you cannot penetrate me but everything else is okay. We said we’d keep in touch, and did for a while: School’s cool, but Joe’s been excavating pussy not mine. She wrote that we had unfinished business, that I should get my white hairy ass off the barstool and onto a plane. And I would have, and should and could have, but didn’t, and someone took her place and burnt her letters, the picture taken in Le Violin Dingue. And I forgot—actually forgot—her family name, which says everything about me then. And Google returns 7,700,000 hits for all I have to go on, Cherie, San Diego, but I’m sure she’s in there and looking for me too, trawling—but I changed my name, see, and countries, continents, and she doesn’t have a prayer, which is why I am 34,874 hits into the search, and why I get dozens of Google Alerts each day.

Kevin O' Cuinn
Meg Pokrass

MARCO POLO - howie good

I sat in a room of eager doctoral students who nodded sagely even as the professor drew pentagrams on the board. Women with scratch ‘n’ sniff skin would enter my thoughts, but avoid leaving their names. The moon appeared from somewhere behind me like the holed white hull of a dream. There’s a suspicion that Marco Polo didn’t tell half of what he saw. Birds of certain countries could sing in three languages and lie and grieve in none.

Howie Good
An Anatony of Addiction
Howard Markel