photo by Martyne Bailey

marcelle thiébaux

ron riekki

kik williams

dawn corrigan

rebeka singer

marc larock

chris milam

RUSTIC LODGE - marcelle thiébaux

I never told anyone I joined a gang of waitresses at the Rustic Lodge. We slept in the attic. I was fourteen. Waiting tables we didn't wear uniforms but our own pretty dresses. We traded dresses back and forth because we were all the same size. Some of us liked some dresses better than others.
We picked out the guests we wanted to rob. We followed them at night when they went square dancing or hayriding or drinking at Murf's. We broke into their cars and guest rooms to rifle their luggage and closets. We all had to take one thing every night.
In the attic, Tex slept with Scooter, Joy slept with Thea, Alex slept with DeeDee Bunsberger, I slept with Nell-Gwyn. Bossing us around was Scooter, a hot-blood from Scranton with rotten teeth and pink lipstick.
I don't mean we slept together. I mean we had to use the same beds to sleep in because there were eight waitresses and four double beds. One johnny. One sink out in the open for everybody to see how everybody washed. I never told anyone I killed another girl.
A lot more I never told anyone but I might.
Marcelle Thiébaux
The Accursed
Joyce Carol Oates


its advertising to include sides of barns, sides of billboards, the backs of stamps, the inside of lamps, the toll booth operator’s forehead, the toll booth operators’ scrotums, Billy Corgan’s tongue (both sides), in any vomit outside of CBGB, the lowest depths of Hell (including the seventh circle of violence, the eighth circle of fraud, the ninth circle of treachery, the tenth circle of advertising, and a particular concentration on covering the fourth circle of greed), and every aspect of the Milky Way from Pluto to the infinite other side of the universe.  They have copyrighted the number 15, the number 666, the number pi, the word “number,” and the number “word.” The ad agency working for Geico decides they will official sell their souls to Satan, to Jesus, to Buddha, to Shiva, to any God who can help increase their CEO’s multi-billion dollar income even if it means that their children’s children’s children’s children’s souls will be damned to an eternity of Geico ads in Hell—loud, bright, cliché-embracing, and absolutely repetitive to the point where Nazi brainwashing and the most vicious of torture techniques are comparatively breaths of fresh air.
Ron Riekki
Knut Hamsun


STANDS OF PINES - kik williams

She waited by the gas station bathroom, took a deep inhale of her unfiltered camel and started throwing smoke rings with each breath. She watched the rings dissipate in the 4 a.m. air. It was cold and she could feel her nipples harden against the scratchy wool sweater her mother gave her that last time she was in Missouri. As she dropped her cigarette butt into a diet whatever soda can she did a handstand in the middle of the parking lot thinking things might shift in her gut. A car drove by blasting rap, she stood up and could feel the beat of the loud music in her body and it made her feel silly. She wanted to be silly. She banged on the bathroom door again and this time it slammed open. She was surprised and a little pissed that she’d waited all this time it was empty. She locked the door, pulled her pants down, sat on the toilet, dug around in her purse, thought about those tall stands of pines they’d passed on the road and looked for an outlet for her vibrator. 
Kik Williams
The Goldfinch
Donna Tartt


We all went out into the streets and stared and mulled around, like people in a movie, stunned at the silence in our heads.
Were we in a movie? Yes, maybe we were in a movie, and this was the first step in a complex plot we were about to become involved in, but all would be all right in the end.
We were not in a movie and there was not a thought in our heads.
Finally we drove to the zoo to see what the big animals were doing.
Dawn Corrigan
Pattern Recognition
William Gibson

OUR NEW PLACE - rebeka singer

Someone tried to paint these walls. They’re mustard splotched with careless strokes of black and the bathroom is ear-sore blue. I asked if I could paint them. The owners said only neutral colors.
I never even flipped through sample strips.
See, Robby and I just got our own place. Thought it would make us happy—closer.
We’re entertaining tomorrow.
It’s summer and already dark.
I sit at the table with a half-drunk bottle of Pinot Noir.
I call a bad drug dealer. I mean, literally, he was a shitty drug dealer. Almost never had any drugs. Can you imagine?
He stops by anyway and that’s taken care of.
All those dreams that used to be are shadows on the new walls.
My dad never danced with me at my wedding. (This, of course, was before the divorce and before Robby.) I can’t remember if my grandfather did, but it feels like he did. So somewhere in my mind it happened—for real.
It’s well past midnight. We’re at our new place.
We’re doing coke (as if that sounds edgy anymore) and listening to “Little Red Corvette.”
We’re entertaining tomorrow.
I know we won’t have sex tonight.
Rebeka Singer
No One Belongs Here More Than You
Miranda July

COMMEMORATING - marc larock

I always set my mother’s place the same way—first the fork, then the spoon, knife, plate, the napkin.
I set her place the way she taught me. I fumble, as I arrange the utensils. I want it to be perfect.
I sit down, opposite her chair.
Once, I watched a young girl, maybe eleven or twelve, standing alone in the woods, holding a leash in her hand – Come here, Rugger!  Come here, boy!
I asked her – Did you lose your dog?
She turned to me. Damp red-rimmed eyes, breathless – No.
Then who are you calling?
My dog.
Well, why would you call for him if he’s not lost?
Because he died last week.
I didn’t know what to say. I just blushed and looked at the ground. And she kept calling out for him as I walked from her. It’s true. I didn’t understand what she was doing then.

But now, my mother’s chair is empty. And I sit here, alone with its emptiness, the twilight slipping away, the shadows gathering silently in my kitchen. 
Marc Larock
Eagle or Sun?
Octavio Paz

INDIFFERENCE - chris milam

Mom was a gazer. A pale finger parting the tobacco-stained blinds, exposing sickly grass. At the beige walls with thrift store art. At empty spaces filled with lost things. Her frozen stare always darting, fluttering, never quite landing.

Step-dad Rick hovered in the garage. A place where his vendetta against anything that wasn’t a Budweiser was unleashed. He experimented with rabbits and mice at first, the occasional Monarch butterfly.

That didn’t satiate him, though. His welder craved human flesh and emotion. The soles of my feet, the back of my calves. My screams stifled by electrical tape. I didn’t grow from his seed so I was expendable. Fit for burning. A slab of human steel.

His dark mask shaded his eyes but never his intentions. Thick leather gloves, a stream of fire and rage and a boy clawing at the oil-stained concrete floor.

Rick scorching, me begging and mom being indifferent. She never even glanced at the garage.
Chris Milam
The Devil All The Time
Donald Ray Pollock