'SOMEONE' - ricky garni



robb todd

After we have sex I slip cash into your purse, just a few bucks, without you knowing. You're not a whore, but I'd like to buy you lunch sometime without having to be there.

Robb Todd
The Preposterous Week
By George Keenen

DOT - kathy fish


kathy fish

The woman poured more wine and the man said, "Whoa, you're getting ahead of me." She got out spinach dip and Triscuits and said, "Then I'll eat. That’ll slow me down.”

The baby lay on the floor, facing the Elmo toy. The baby didn't crawl for the toy like their first one had. She only blinked and drooled.

"You’re just not a striver, Pork Chop," the man said to the baby.

Every now and then, demons or witches or princesses tromped up the porch steps and the man held out the plastic pumpkin and watched their grubby hands.

“I’d like to chase them away is what I’d like to do,” he said to the woman.

The woman had lost weight. She was tired and slack-jawed and she wasn't making milk and now, her baby wasn’t a striver.

"Don't you love her little nose, though? It's just a dot on her face. It's like those cartoons."

"No, it’s not,” the man said. “The cartoons don't have noses."

The woman sipped her wine and wondered if they were thinking of different cartoons. The Triscuits were gone. She scooped dip with her fingers. She brought the bowl to her face and licked.

Kathy Fish
Later, at the Bar: A Novel in Stories
Rebecca Barry



scott garson

Holliston circled his eyes and nose in black greasepaint with the dick and balls symbol and went to the store. Women pushing grocery carts looked at him once or not at all. He was out of deodorant. Probably he needed milk too. And beer. And sliced prosciutto. At the checkout, a girl whose eyebrow was bruised from the piercing offered him greeting. She asked if he had a savings card, if he wanted one. He was slow in responding. She told him that he could be saving fifteen percent on his purchases today.

WORRY - brandi wells


brandi wells

She locks her bedroom door and sits on the floor, leaning back against her bed. It is there that she lifts her foot to her mouth and gnaws the skin around her toenails. She bites and picks at the little whitish-clear hunks of flesh until she begins to bleed. Blood gets caught in all the little grooves of the chewed on skin. If you look at her toes with a microscope, you will know she is a monster. She takes fingernail clippers and snips off the calluses from the bottoms of her feet. The skin looks yellowish and dirty. There’s a hunk of tar between her toes. She rolls the tar into a little ball and throws it under her bed. She eats the clipped off skin. She chews on it, feeling the gristle of it. A bit of it gets caught between her teeth and she stands up, unlocks the door and goes to the bathroom to floss. She flosses with the bathroom door open, not worrying who will see her teeth or gums or tongue. She is not one to worry.

Brandi Wells
Birds of America
Lorrie Moore

CAT THROWER - john stadler


john stadler

After perfecting his cat throw, Jonas learns to cat-juggle, catching and releasing the tawny fur balls by the napes of their necks. When he masters seven, I notify the press. They televise the event for the five o'clock news. We train the cats to meow Beethoven’s Fifth while Jonas juggles them. The reporter calls the event breathtaking. A woman on the street palms her cheeks, says only, Beautiful. For Christmas, father buys Jonas throwing knives and encourages him to add them to the act. He does so precariously, incorporating knife after cat, knife after cat, adding an additional twenty feet to the arc of his parabola. With this change in regiment, though, not everyone is pleased. Juniper, the smallest kitten, bites Jonas on the wrist during the rotation. Jonas curses the cat and drops the act literally. Today our home is littered with holes and cats who run through them and knives we never use.

John Stadler
Honored Guest
Joy Williams



greg gerke

Jerry Muncey borrows his friend Michael’s green and white Datsun truck and drives to an intentional community in the Sierra Nevadas to visit Prue, a woman he is very interested in. On the highway he stops to aid another woman who has a flat tire and drives to her house because she can speak Polish and has a red belt in judo, things Prue can’t compete with. Jerry falls out of contact and stays with the strong Pole for close to three years until they mutually decide it is time to get on with their lives. He continues then to the intentional community, interested to see if Prue still lives there. She does and so does his friend Michael, who eventually came searching for the green and white Datsun. In fact they are a couple and have a two-year-old child named ‘Riverstone.’ Jerry is very happy to present Michael with the truck. They all have a nice laugh, then a hearty dinner. It is in the stars, Prue says, holding a cup of ginger tea in their cold hands.

They are all sleeping in the same bed the next morning, even Riverstone, who has learned to pronounce ‘Datsun.’ The group chuckles about their good fortune. When rambunctious Riverstone climbs up to the window he sees the Datsun and gleefully blows spit bubbles. Suddenly the parking brake slips and the Datsun rolls backward, slamming into the sauna built by the founders of the community, a place Riverstone thinks of as ‘hotplay.’ His mouth blooms to a circle and Riverstone turns back to see his parents and Michael staring at him with unbridled love. He blows a bubble. But somewhere in his soft head he already knows—not even if they give him one will he never, ever drive a Datsun.

Greg Gerke
JM Coetzee

MAYBE - ricky garni


ricky garni

When my mother got sick her best friend Marion took me to the Root Beer Stand and bought me a bag of crinkle fries with tight little ridges that were delicious.

Then my mother got better and my mother’s best friend Marion and my mother had a lovely time together drinking Tetley Tea on Tuesdays every week until my mother’s best friend died and then my mother died and then my mother’s best friend Marion’s husband got remarried and then died also as did my father, who died and I know for certain.

Now that the Root Beer Stand is gone too I suppose at least it is and now it is late at night with no one to talk to although tomorrow is supposed to be warm and sunny or at least it will be warm and sunny sometime soon and until then I will stand right here against this Root Beer Stand that I remember so well I am pretty sure I think.

FAMILY SECRET - robert scotelarro


robert scotellaro

One night, when my father came home drunk after gambling away his paycheck, my mother (usually quiet as a cotton ball), said simply: "You louse!" and hit him over the head, repeatedly, with a small hammer she grabbed from the utility drawer, while he stood there and took it.

When he finally sat on the sofa, dripping blood all over her plastic slipcovers, my mother put a hat on him and drove him to the hospital.

As shaved patches and stitches suddenly appeared, we told everyone, even family, my father was mugged in the parking lot back of Stacey's, after picking up some aspirin for one of my mother's famous migraines. "They got him from behind," we said. "Never knew what hit him." And nobody was the wiser, seeing as how sweet my mother always was.

When a detective came to the house with a small notebook and a big smile, my mother served him coffee in Grandmother's fancy china and a big plate of her Crunchy Nut Delights.

No perpetrators were ever found.

Robert Scotellaro
In the Land of the Free
Geoffrey Forsyth


'Man Not Crying For Help' - ricky garni

THURSDAY - audri sousa


audri sousa

we are waiting on a supply truck to back out of the liquor store and i am drinking from a juicebox my neck feels strange and i am expecting mail i am telling you this is my favorite dylan song it makes the skyline pregnant with our latent selves at any given moment i can quickly become a hypochondriac i have sufficient reason to believe i am diseased the supply truck leaves my back feels strange my right eye twitches i notice tributaries of fireflies have begun to pour out of my spinal cord in green luminescent fluid this seems decidedly unhealthy but i keep driving there are laws against this and the people who upkeep them in towns like this are fascistic and pitiable i continue down the highway the fireflies swirl out open windows and swarm the car people on the corners are staring a woman drops her groceries and jaw some of the fireflies slide across my face get caught in my eyelashes they illuminate your hair your cheeks are ruddy like you would dribble pomegranate syrup if i made you laugh the car's interior is dense with green constellating fire the insects are vacuumed outside into orbit around the car the sky fades into orange klimt patterns and the police have begun to chase us the sirens are sounding but my back feels so much better and i have mail to check

Audri Sousa
measuring tape for the midwest
noah falck




Two trucks or one truck bring the new things. Two men or one man bring the new things on their backs with their bones, their calloused hands ripping into flesh ribbons. Sweat stinging. They lay them down with the strength of one who wants the burden off their back as quickly as a thousand years worth of pain that burden has caused dictates. The new things slam to the floor, commanding.

You move the old thing. There is a love letter underneath; a child's scrawl mystery. It goes into your mouth. The floor is dirty, yet bright. The old thing moves out of the door. Away. The floor is scraped. This will become the tattoo you will remember it by.

The old thing gets tossed aside. Woodland vermin with eyes some think cute will nest in its hollows, oil poisoning them rabid. It kills many. This old thing. Ruthless, laughing vengeance.

You clear a space. You move something there. That leaves a space. You put something there…leaving another space. You spend twelve days filling spaces that are created by moving things to other spaces. You taste madness for a while, but choke it down, swallowing, sanctimonious.

Eventually old is new again. The old is forgotten except for the scrape tattoo. You step on it with your bare feet. It's sharp. You wear socks. It is forgotten. You worship the new.

Gates of Fire
Steven Pressfield

NEW WORLD ORDER - ryan griffith


ryan griffith

In Bar Liverpool, I meet a Dane drinking Baltika and doing shots of Sambuca. You are American, he says. I will draw you my one picture. He tears the notebook from my hands and scrawls a cartoon elephant. Under the elephant he writes, Intelligence is knowing your own limitations.

He tosses back his Sambuca and flicks a match. With the match he lights the inside of his mouth on fire and blows a smoky zero.

The zero floating between us, he says, My friend, I’m sorry to tell you this, but America is over.

He points at me with the burning eye of his cigarette.

Europe is moving closer to Russia now. It’s a new world order coming, and the U.S. is no longer needed.

Look at Denmark, he says. We owned Scandinavia. Sweden, Norway, even Germany. And now? Hans Christian Anderson and Hamlet. That’s all people remember.

He holds another shot of Sambuca between two fingers. Empires end, he says, bringing the shot to his lips.

Even as he’s drinking the shot his other hand is striking a match, ripping a small hole in the darkness.

Ryan Griffith
The Power and the Glory
Graham Greene



cl bledsoe

We memorized train schedules, bus stops, and stayed near the front. We bought bicycles and saved our cooking grease for Dave’s van. We grew our hair long because wind resistance doesn’t matter when walking. We doused our heads in oils to hide the scent of wind. We never held hands, kept to the shoulder, huddled in the backs of coffee shops, and ordered only black. We watched you in your heavy trucks rumbling through the dirt. We felt you stomp your lives out, forever weighted in your shoes. We tried to enjoy the paralysis of processed sugars, the heavy bloat of carbonated sodas, missionary position, holidays. In the darkness of our shuttered bedrooms, we admired each other’s feathers and hovered above our beds. When we stumbled into the light, we wore gloves to hide the pinfeathers we’d plucked and wound round each other’s fingers.

CL Bledsoe
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Laurence Sterne



d.c. porder

Think of me as a fossilized shark tooth. I’ll think of you as an antique globe. We’ll eat lollipops in a library and check our piggybanks for counterfeit 2’s. Think of me as a blue mood ring indicating smile-worthy dreams. I’ll think of you as a purple racecar changing tires half-way through. We’ll eat batteries and jump off the smoggy smell of bridges. We’ll shovel dandruff drifts and freeze-dry our problems like astronaut ice-cream. Think of me as a barcode when you scan my eyes. I’ll think of you as a lost teddy bear when I find you.

D.C. Porder
Necessary Stranger
Graham Foust

FUGITIVE DOCTOR - savanna schroll guz


savannah schroll guz

The doctor became convinced that The Mossad would come for him, would wrench him from his bed, hook his feet to their transport, and flay his body by driving in circles over sandy soil and jagged rock. He had dreams of this agony again an again, and he would wake gasping for air, tangled in damp bed clothing, his heart beating so loudly he could hear nothing else. And so, he spent many nocturnal hours pacing his hovel’s cold flagstone floor, seeking the piercing chill of each uneven square against his feet. The cold stones were confirmation of his sustained freedom but also, he felt, a portent of his eventual incarceration.

Feeling he was eternally observed, though seeing no one, he became inclined to flee residences without notice. He whittled his possessions down to a few portable items and became a living ghost: there one day, vanished by morning.

Savannah Schroll Guz
Why Orwell Matters
Christopher Hitchens

TIMECARD - mel bosworth


mel bosworth

First, the electricity. Thin worms of light twisting on a domed black canvas. Shapes and letters, obscure images.

E <++> I (:0) O

Second, the conversations. Snippets, at varying volume.

I love you. David, what did you have for dinner? I didn’t see that. It’s like translucence. My aunt gave me twenty bumble bees on a black stocking. Ketchup.

Third, the water. Goodbye to blue sky and ground. Warm, deep, bubbles, slow motion, defensive slices. Then, yielding.

Kick. Kick. Kick. Drift. See. Hear. Thoughts pushing through like fingers in a spider web. I told you I loved you, David. Her hair like horns, but soft soft soft lips. Turning thoughts. Kick. Kick. Kick. Golden dog curled bedside, stretching legs, yawning. Kick. Kick. Smooth white skin, breasts. Approach. Suckle. Rise. Rise. Rise. Breaking the surface, angry. Buzzing. KickKickKick. Pulled up.

Fighting the sky, smashing the clock, only to lace up dirty dawn boots to punch another.

Mel Bosworth
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Robert Louis Stevenson

PRAYER - megan detrie


megan detrie

Our father who art in heaven, I pray for Palestinians to have electricity, for single mothers to get their alimony checks and you do not listen. But, I think this one might be up your alley. Dear God, tonight, at this party, I want to kiss a girl. I want to stand close to some pretty thing in a green summer dress and ask her name. Praise be to the Lord who created skirts that flutter around dancing thighs. I ask for gentle, soft kisses, lips barely parted. Let there be happy confusion in her eyes when the goodbye kiss misses the cheek and lips half meet. Send me a chorus of angels to witness. God, you are a being of passion: who could make a world in six days except a man driven by inner fury? A man who demands beauty. Well, I demand that tonight the beauties of the world leave their hair down so I can run my fingers through it. I am patient, God. The tension will build as our lips play I Dare You and No, You First. Two of the best games you've ever created. Tonight, oh Lord, I know its hallelujah. Amen.

Megan Detrie
Guy de Maupassant