37 lede

10 Stories About My Friends
by Kaj Anderson-Bauer

A little before Christmas, a few years ago, my friend Bradley killed a woman with his car. It happened on the freeway at night, so you can’t really blame him. She was standing in the middle of the road. Just standing. He told me that when he hit her, the woman sailed in a high arc, which seemed odd to him at the time.
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“Nobel Peace Prize” by hi(y)per-b===z%-7

Put on a pair of pleated slacks……
Jangle a little bit and adjust your radioscope…
Reduce me to code…
Break me down to my basic constituents…
Compose my consciousness.,,
                

10 Stories About My Friends by Kaj Anderson-Bauer

BRADLEY
A little before Christmas, a few years ago, my friend Bradley killed a woman with his car. It happened on the freeway at night, so you can’t really blame him. She was standing in the middle of the road. Just standing. He told me that when he hit her, the woman sailed in a high arc, which seemed odd to him at the time.

36 lede

Nice and Respectable
by Irving A. Greenfield 

The MOMENT he walks into Carmine’s, I see his reflection in the large mirror behind the bar. A portly, gray-bearded man with a balding pate, he comes up to the bar and claims a stool, leaving one between us as etiquette demands at an uncrowded bar.
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Feast for Two by Patrice Sweeney

Dense steam, laden with the smell of seasoning, uncoiled from the dish just recently cooked. It was one of many; succulent and roasted to perfection. As it was placed amongst the other delicacies, the great table groaned with perverse pleasure for being weighed down so, and the two individuals oversaw the small kingdom of rich platters with mounting delight.

Looking by Mack Gallacher

His face had a pale, sharp sort of beauty. A complexion like fine sheepskin parchment stretched tautly over His angular bones. I sat three tables away, watching Him. I was too old to be watching a boy so intently. He was so very young. Eighteen at best. Strange how quickly you can leave that age behind. Ten years stood in the small distance between us. Young myself yet, but without His freshness. I’d been in one place too long for that. Sitting, I looked across the space between us, scattered with tables and chairs and others. An impediment obtruded itself in my observations in the form of another boy, one who held a neon rubik's cube in long, dark, delicate fingers, twirling it round and round. The brightly colored squares whirled into a single flashing blur. It distracted me from my object of gaze for a moment as I caught only glimpses of Him around the movement between us. Suddenly, the impediment leaned forward and stopped his dizzying phalanges in their acrobatics and my view was once more unrestricted. The completeness of His visage startled me anew. I’d forgotten in those short moments of obstruction how pale and smooth His cheek was, how black His eye, and how shyly He looked down at His book, avoiding my intrusive stare. Once, twice, His eyes flickered upward, nearly meeting mine before darting back into the safety of the pages that held His tenuous attention. I couldn’t help but laugh. At myself mostly. How odd I must seem. This girl woman across the room, staring, looking, gazing. My feelings were a jumble of awe, adoration, and desire – but I couldn’t quite decide if I wanted to kiss His lips or ask what kind of facial cleanser He used. Did I covet His attention or His even skin tone? Perhaps it was both. I had to leave. Had a class that I should have studied for during my study of His form, but He had made for much more interesting subject matter. I stood slowly, letting my eyes linger on His brow, His cheek, His lips, a distant kiss of farewell. He didn’t look up again, a courtesy I was grateful for, and I walked away without turning back.
                

Nice and Respectable by Irving A. Greenfield

The moment he walks into Carmine’s, I see his reflection in the large mirror behind the bar. A portly, gray-bearded man with a balding pate, he comes up to the bar and claims a stool, leaving one between us as etiquette demands at an uncrowded bar.

35 lede

Dancing with Steinbrenner 
by J. Bradley

THE SERVER at Acapulco's gently places a kid-size poolful glass of margarita on my table, the periscope of a straw staring into me. I pluck it out, lick the part of the straw soaking in margarita, then sip, watching grains of salt float into my mouth slowly. It burns away the knots in my neck and back. I look at the menu for something that won't punch me in the stomach later.
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A History of the Russian Revolution by Stephen Baily

“To think of the red flag actually flying over the Winter Palace. . . .”

My grandfather rested his right hand, which held the scissors and the comb, on his left bicep. He folded his left hand over his right forearm and eased the fingers into his right armpit. With a wondering expression he looked over the back of Trotsky's head, into the mirror on the wall opposite.

Relic by Sparrow Crain

“Picturesque desert, giving way to bountiful oceans all at your grasp!” the automated tour guide gushed as the tram came to a stop. In times past, multitudes of people stepped off the tram into this resort. There were no people left. None that were entirely people, that is. War had been declared, both sides running into battle with all weapons raised. What had been first a game between two governments became death for all, with a few exceptions. The resort was known by no name anymore, the large sign at the entrance had long been whitewashed from age and sun exposure. It stood at the highest point in the world, on the only continent that made this world’s entire geography. The opportunities here had been endless, if you could pay the price for them. A giant pool of water once held a miracle cure for any ailment! How about the famous musician who held court here, singing every night in the lounge?
                

Dancing with Steinbrenner by J. Bradley

I; 1. The server at Acapulco's gently places a kid-size poolful glass of margarita on my table, the periscope of a straw staring into me. I pluck it out, lick the part of the straw soaking in margarita, then sip, watching grains of salt float into my mouth slowly. It burns away the knots in my neck and back. I look at the menu for something that won't punch me in the stomach later.

34 lede

Dad on Ice by Clay Conger

I couldn't believe a faster way to shovel snow hadn't been invented; surely something electronic, or at least with a motor. We have 3D films, daisy cutters, and Joan Rivers: why hasn't technology advanced household chores? I slid the shovel under a chunk of snow and chucked it back into the yard, watching half of it blow back to me with a sudden breeze.
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[Three Letters to Val Kilmer]


Dear Mr. Kilmer,

I dreamt recently that I was signed up for this birthday thing where a celebrity calls you on your birthday. I should mention that I qualified for this birthday thing because I had cancer in the dream—it was sort of like make-a-wish foundation. Anyways, my birthday comes and goes, and no call from you. So I call the people that put this thing together. I assumed that they had my phone number wrong or something. Apparently the problem, they said, was that you had been dropping the ball, as in not making your calls. This was happening for all of your cancer birthday people. So they gave me your phone number and said I should give you a call myself.

Only Friend by Joseph Chevalier

When she opened the front door of the townhouse Mark smiled and then leaned over to give her a peck on the cheek, stealing a glance at her eyes as he did. They were clear today, not red rimmed or glassy. That was a good sign.

“Hey good lookin’. How’re you feeling today?”

“Oh, I’m hanging in there. How was your night, dear?” She smiled back at him, the dentures that lined the top of her mouth many shades whiter than the yellowed teeth on the bottom.

If Seal Is Broken by Sparrow Crain

A tear rolls down a pale, emaciated cheek. Eyes that seem out of focus gaze into your soul, making you feel frozen. He stands up, naturally making you feel Lilliputian in comparison. For the first time, you realize that you have no idea where you are. He reaches out, and hoists you onto his shoulder. You find yourself comfortable on his bony shoulder there, high above where you normally stand. The fierce wind blows through his hair, just long enough to blow into your face as well. For some strange reason, it smells like your sister's carrot cake. Exactly like it. The road is all pebbles now, it's harder to sit comfortably here. You grasp onto his coat which is made of material you’ve never felt before. It appears soft like cotton, but feels tough like leather! You’ve got good grip on it, and good thing you do; he starts to run as if pursued. You turn your head to peer behind you, but there’s nothing on the pebble road. He runs for what seems like an eternity, the carrot cake giving way to the normal smell of sweat. You close your eyes and try to imagine yourself someplace else away from here. You feel him stop, then hoist you down to a hard landing. You take a deep breath, and open your eyes to find him staring at you. Were his eyes this exact color of blue before? He smiles then, revealing a mouth of shiny white teeth. Normally you’d see square teeth in this state, but his were spindly and gangly. It was as if there were a dozen ivory daggers hanging from his gums. He sits Indian-style on the pebbles, his smile a little more subdued. He opens his mouth, but the next part still isn’t clear. It’s as if everything coming out of his mouth envelopes you in a warm pocket of air. No sounds, just the feeling of home. The feeling of last year, and the year before. No sense of time or the fear that comes with it. I come to, and open my eyes. He’s still there, mouth open as if singing. I am floating, above the pebble road. His thin lips close, and I start to slowly sink. As I fall, he takes off his coat and lays it where I will land. He wears no undershirt, just bare skin. His cadaverous frame is still pale, but covered in blue scars. They are long and thin themselves, as if not from casual blows. These scars are from long amounts of torture or self-mutilation. But eyes like his, eyes so pure could not be capable of harm. I landed on the tough fabric, and scramble to standing. I wonder how anyone could stand this much torture as I walk over behind him and touch the largest scar on his spine. He does not shiver, does not move one inch. But as I rest my entire arm on it, I begin to fall asleep again. But this time, I feel different. I open my eyes to confirm my suspicion, to find myself floating in front of myself. I look down, and recognize the blue scars on my arms. A cold feeling seeps into my pores, where I once felt intense heat. As my mind settles into this new place, I find myself standing up. I find myself looking back to where I started. I find myself running towards the opposite direction, abandoning the old self. He lived within me now, and I was him entire. I breathed deep, pacing myself, ready to run until I could run no more.
                

Dad on Ice by Clay Conger

I couldn’t believe a faster way to shovel snow hadn't been invented; surely something electronic, or at least with a motor. We have 3D films, daisy cutters, and Joan Rivers: why hasn't technology advanced household chores? I slid the shovel under a chunk of snow and chucked it back into the yard, watching half of it blow back to me with a sudden breeze.

33 lede

The Many Worlds Theory 
by Philip Walford

The drive home from the lab, long and slow, affords him the chance to think that just as a man's life informs his work occasionally it informs his aggressiveness in negotiating clogged lanes. He drives defensively on a freeway blotted with cars like a strip of sequencing gel, having noted in the past that over a long enough stretch, luck is evenly distributed across lanes.
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Nagelvoort by Chris Raia

They would all crowd around the water cool and talk about him. It was how they spent their breaks. That poor Nagelvoort, they’d say. The guy just can’t catch a break.

“Did you hear the boss go on him this morning? What do you think he did this time?”

“Same shit, different day. You name it, he probably did it. He’s a nice guy, but let’s face it, Nagelvoort sucks.”

“He really does. He means well, but he’s just the worst.”

“Hey, go easy on the fellow. His marriage is falling apart just in time for Christmas.”

“Ocean, you’re an ocean (or ref# LD23e38411)” by hi(y)per-b===z%-7, the author of Syllogies of Roman Outbuildings In the First Century BC and other notable titles.

Fuck, what a day for cleaning.
\…get the place all nice n spruced up,
from time to time, your obsolescence….
Synthetic planes and best of wishes
scrawled repeatedly across a vast slushy void of calling cards
…House proud and dust free.\
|||_-!!_URP_>>%<<,…..//\\?//\\//\\|..,..,..,,..//?.?.?..>%
……. but you’re never really dust free
                

The Many Worlds Theory by Philip Walford

The drive home from the lab, long and slow, affords him the chance to think that just as a man's life informs his work occasionally it informs his aggressiveness in negotiating clogged lanes. He drives defensively on a freeway blotted with cars like a strip of sequencing gel, having noted in the past that over a long enough stretch, luck is evenly distributed across lanes.

32 lede

Cravings by Claudia Cruttwell 

MAIA put Francesca to bed early, dismissed the housekeeper for the night and laid out her tools in the bedroom for a luxury pedicure. Giuseppe was away on business so she had the whole bed to herself and plenty of time to clear up afterwards. First she trimmed her toe nails, remembering how as a child in Italy she would scoop the dirt out from under her nails and eat it.
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My life in the year 2040 by Matthew Harris

I celebrated my eighty first birthday this past January thirteenth!

Just nineteen more journeys for the big bright wheel in the sky to turn before this curmudgeon reaches the centennial milestone!

Rumor circulates that the first hundred years is the most difficult!

“What a Spectacle” by Cheryl Spinner

My glasses are dirty, you know.
Dirty
Dirty
Dirty.
I said listen, I know very well how dirty they’ve gotten.
Don’t tell me. I know.
                

Cravings by Claudia Cruttwell

Maia put Francesca to bed early, dismissed the housekeeper for the night and laid out her tools in the bedroom for a luxury pedicure. Giuseppe was away on business so she had the whole bed to herself and plenty of time to clear up afterwards. First she trimmed her toe nails, remembering how as a child in Italy she would scoop the dirt out from under her nails and eat it.

31 lede

Letter to Dorian
by Edward Armstrong 

I  am a VILLAIN of my times; I wish I’d done it differently. I care little for how I should have acted in such a situation, but I know my reaction was unnecessary. I am hunted by a pack of vicious dogs like a hare on an estate in Southern England during the enchanting season of freezing woods.
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Afloat on a whole grain cheerio! by Matthew Harris

Mom called out my name as she madly dashed out the kitchen door!

“Orson, La Di Dah” by Cheryl Spinner

“Oh, golly, miss molly,” says a Rita
To her sweeta,
Orson.
                

Letter to Dorian by Edward Armstrong

I am a villain of my times; I wish I’d done it differently. I care little for how I should have acted in such a situation, but I know my reaction was unnecessary. I am hunted by a pack of vicious dogs like a hare on an estate in Southern England during the enchanting season of freezing woods.

30 lede

I Dream In Italics, Eat In Mandarin and Order In English At the Noodle Shop 
by Dena Rash Guzman

THE INNER WINDOW of this noodle shop is steamy. There is a down of rain out the door but my hair hangs in perfect, shiny waves of ethereal beauty. I am confident in this place, all grace and poise. I am nimble at the wonky stool, defeating its short leg and cracked vinyl cushion.
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Culinary Coup at Le Monde or A Chef’s Worst Nightmare
by Chuck Mazzarella

It was a battle like no other seen throughout recorded history. The skirmish did not result in any human casualties, as there were no bipeds present at the event. The colossal siege was captured on tape, so experts can now look upon it to study ‘strategery’, aka strategy, to help ensure that another war of this magnitude never takes place again.

“The burial of Matthew Harris”

The undertaker drew a deep breath! He exhaled little billows of cold air while awaiting the hearse carrying my lifeless body.

Methodical Madness by Wilbert Stanton

His Facebook status read “saving the world”: that’s how I kept tabs on him. Our friendship had been reduced to cyberstalking.

I always felt guilty whenever he called. It was shameful really; seeing his name on my caller ID and ignoring it, once again. I loved him, really I did. He would stop the world from turning if he thought such a colossal act would make me smile. He was everything to me and I him… or at one point, we had been.

Why Pulled Bandages Will Be Plucked from the Waiting Hall.
by Shane Jesse Christmass

Nub Love by Madison Capps

Marge lightly touches the top of her prosthetic leg. She pulls down the hem of her knee-length dress. Her gaze never leaves the cowboy’s face, her blue eyes remain static. His eyes make contact with hers. The man walks from the door of the NightOwl Bar and sits on the stool next to hers, moving an absent person’s beer over.
                

I Dream In Italics, Eat In Mandarin and Order In English At the Noodle Shop by Dena Rash Guzman

The inner window of this noodle shop is steamy. There is a down of rain out the door but my hair hangs in perfect, shiny waves of ethereal beauty. I am confident in this place, all grace and poise. I am nimble at the wonky stool, defeating its short leg and cracked vinyl cushion.

29 lede

Infinity by Douglas Colby

BY NOW you have to know that it was me who has been murdered. I can remember it feeling like I was falling asleep. Something like that. Like I had stopped breathing and started again without ever needing to think about it. It was just like that. The pillow was placed over my face. I felt arms around me. I knew that either I inhaled or forever be called a failure.
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Str8, No Chaser by Nick Mwaluko

I’m doing research on women before my transition into manhood. I figure a new body with a new penis will lead to a radically different sex life, so I want to prepare before my surgery. Most researchers prefer books. I prefer living subjects. Knowing first-hand how to handle a straight girl is crucial to my survival as a new man. Plus, I doubt a book or medical journal has been written that explains how to achieve orgasm when a new penis meets a mature pussy. By the way, if a doctor or other medical professional plans on writing that book, I’d be more than happy to volunteer my services. Suggested title for suggested essay in suggested book: “Mature Pussy Meets New, Improved Penis.” Suggested subtitle: “New Penis More Powerful Than African Strongman, Longer Than Nigeria’s Dictatorship.”

Until the End of the World by Wilbert Stanton

I sat on the park bench holding my messenger bag close to my chest. The weight of the world seemed to be in that bag. There were no books or parcels, just one solitary knife. It had a wooden handle and a dull tip; its edges were serrated, and the commercials promised it would cut through anything including a steel pipe in a matter of minutes. That was a refreshing thought; I had an irrational fear of stabbing someone to death, having a hard time breaking the surface, or if a bone got in the way of vital organs. It would make for an uncomfortable situation; frankly I would rather have the certainty of knowing that the first strike meant death. Surely a slit across the throat would suffice, but that seemed so messy and downright over the top. I wasn't a killer and I didn't plan on using such barbaric tactics. No, the kitchen knife came with a guarantee to cut through anything or your money back. I for damn sure kept the receipt.
                

Infinity by Douglas Colby

By now you have to know that it was me who has been murdered. I can remember it feeling like I was falling asleep. Something like that. Like I had stopped breathing and started again without ever needing to think about it. It was just like that. The pillow was placed over my face. I felt arms around me. I knew that either I inhaled or forever be called a failure.

28 lede

The Squire's Debate by P.L. Ernix

A rotund miller and a young squire were perched upon a soft bench surrounded by other locals, engaged in an eventful conversation regarding the deposition of king and court by peasants and townsfolk in the face of hastened deterioration of living conditions.
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“Scenes no. 1” by Lee Brooks

1. A small thing peering among, Chihuly in the field - do you hear? A so-solemn megaopening, there where it can be seen by the sunflowers, if you saw them
At four and five and six o' clock

Synthy Fists by S. Howard Monterey

Synthy Fists of Love and Joy are flying from the sky toward the sheep, as the poor woolen beasts run along the outskirts of the pasture. The flights of fancy that perpetrate such desires are common in this neck of the agrarian landscape that surrounds the small town of Landlocked. The sheep dogs have since run off to get their master.

Justice by Edward Armstrong

They had welcomed me in so openly at first, until of course the news of my mischievous behaviour followed me to my new home of Japan. Emperor Aeguji was distraught with confusion and indignation with the complex decision involving his next move. To save myself I quickly reminded him of our binding contract; he had given me his word and would not be hasty to break it. He could not hand me over; he had promised protection for me in his land. I remember he called me in to his palace tea room and demanded I recite the things I had felt and events that occurred before we spoke, as he clearly knew the events following. So I began: