Category Archives: Flash

Planted In Potting Mix by Iron Chef Gein

The last time I saw Mickey Rooney his skin was the color of water-logged duct tape and he was disgorging huge clumps of blood-flecked dirt. We were waiting for an ambulance to arrive at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Museum in downtown Marysville, Ohio, which had hosted this insane Organic Choice Potting Mix eating competition between Mick and Adam Richman. “That has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” Rooney muttered as the EMTs strapped him to a gurney and called ahead to Union County Memorial Hospital. “No, dude,” I replied. “The stupidest thing you did was getting involved in this damn Mangbetu aardvark fighting scene. I told you those Congo maniacs weren’t fucking around when they sold your markers to the Travel Channel. How the hell could you be so desperate as to start gambling on aardvark fights?! Any idiot knows the Mangbetu rig the matches with driver ants!” Then he starts in on the same old song and dance– pathological gambling consistent with manic phase of bipolar, exacerbated by massive doses of ground up Smith Kline and French Benzedrine inhaler strips rectally administered by Max Reinhardt during the filming of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “And by the time World War II rolls around, Garland and I are making secret scat porn loops for Goebbels in exchange for crates of Pervitin tabs. God only knows how much crystal meth I pumped out of my nuts into Ava Gardner!” Luckily for me, the Mickster’s litany of self-pity came to an abrupt halt when he aspirated a massive knob of manure and then it was lights out.

That was three days ago. The doctors at Union County told me Rooney was brain-dead so we opted to ship him back to his family in North Hollywood. I have no idea what Scotts is going to do with the footage of Mickey and Richman trying to scarf down a 16 quart sack of Miracle-Gro. All I know is Adam swears he’ll never eat dirt again and I was the final person on earth who spoke to Mickey Rooney. And the little cocksucker still owes me 100 large.

Clarence’s First by Timothy Gager and Teisha Twomey

Clarence hated that his professor made him go to the tutoring lab for the first time, as he would much rather eat. Yet, there he was sitting across from the tutor licking his lips with anticipation, his eyes on Amelia, trying to look inside them. She pulled the first of four pages between her pointer and thumb with one hand, while twirling her blond hair with the other. She knew that some of the students could be tricky customers, mentally unstable, or overbearing, so she wondered how to say what she needed about his ridiculous opening sentence on the subject of pan fried brains. She always tried to be open-minded and generous in her counsel.

“Couldn’t it be ground beef?” she asked.

“You don’t know what I’m getting at.”

“Well it appears to read like an odd cooking piece.”

Clarence snickered at her, “What does someone like you do all day?”

“I kick the world’s ass and kill zombies,” Amelia countered, aware of his put down and raising her guard. “Here,” she said. “Nonfiction describes information understood to be fact. Implicit in this, however, are the varying degrees to which the writer’s subjective interpretation of facts, and/or selective presentation of facts, end up making a “factual” work less true. Clarence shifted uneasily, as he was unguarded by her cleverness. “Um, yeah,” he told her. Clarence stared blankly past her, the wall being very white.

“An interesting way to delineate nonfiction forms is to look at them in terms of how accurately they reflect the writer’s experience, beliefs, and emotions in real life.”

“So,” Clarence said, “you kick the world’s ass and…ha, well you can’t kill a zombie, technically speaking, we… ehhh, I mean…they are already dead.” His nostrils flared as he sucked in the essence of her beautiful gray matter.

“I don’t really believe in Zombies anyway. Anywho, back to the paper. Why does the girl offer herself up to you? Doesn’t really make sense for her to do that does it?”

“She does if she knows what’s best for her…” Clarence hissed. Amelia splayed her pens on the table and tapped them for a moment, as if making every effort to drum his creepiness away, before balling her fist into her palm and cracking each knuckle self-consciously, a life-long habit.

Little did Amelia know, this was akin to Zombie foreplay, when she made the fateful choice to twist in her chair, releasing an earth-shattering symphony of snaps and pops from her spine, an undead requiem, which resonated through Clarence’s soulless body, rocking his world so hard he felt his still heart flicker for a moment.

He had never wanted something so badly in his life and envisaged cradling Amelia’s fair head in his sallow arms, bringing it near his sunken chest, before snapping her fragile neck with one swift twist. He wanted to eat every part of her, that way she could remain inside him forever and always help him with his papers. He quivered as he prepared to lunge.

Clarence had never actually tasted a human being, but had always known he was a Zombie. He remembers when he first watched Night of the Living Dead and looked in the mirror wondering why his parents never told him. When he confronted them, they waved him away, blaming his pale skin and dead eyes with anemia and a severe stigmatism. Now, Clarence knew the truth. Amelia would be his first.

He grabbed her in his arms, swinging her like a lasso then sweeping her to the floor the way one dips their partner during a waltz. Amelia’s eyes were wide and wet as he pulled at her turtleneck and tasted her at the collar. She let out a giggle as he sampled behind her ear.

“Yuck, you are disgusting!” Clarence shrieked, pulling away, recoiling in horror. The first time should have been special; he sulked, leaving her where she lay, a pitiful heap of need.

“Wait! Where are you going?” She cried out, “I love you Clarence! Don’t go! Wait! You forgot your paper…”

Clarence didn’t even bother to reach for it as he ran away, closing the Tutoring Center door behind him. “You keep it Amelia… I am going to have to rewrite the whole thing anyway.”

Ma Joad Pays a Visit to Charlie Manson by Larry Pinck

Visitor’s room, California State Prison at Corcoran.

Ma and Charlie are seated. Glass separates them. They speak on handsets.

CHARLIE: What’s up man?

MA: Howdy do Charlie. Call me Ma. Everyone calls me Ma. Even my Ma called me Ma.

CHARLIE: I dig ya Ma. What you’re sayin’ is: “This is my show, man. I plate the appetizers. I sniff the cork. And if you can’t deal with it, then, zip, no gravy; zow, no cranberry sauce.”

MA: I’ll tell ya Charlie, visitin’s a funny thing, A woman, well, she’s suited for visitin’, but men folks just ain’t got the temperament for it.

CHARLIE: The man puts you in a hallway, and most people only see a corridor. But me, Ma, I see a foyer.

MA: Tell me son, has they hurt ya? Has they made ya mean mad?

CHARLIE: I don’t snivel. I sweep out the charnel house. When he calls, I bring the cutlery.

MA: I’ve never know’d ya to be mean spirited Charlie. But sometimes they take a good boy and hurts him and makes him hard.

CHARLIE: Hardness is a parasite, Ma. It’s the absence of softness. See what I’m sayin’?

MA: You’re so much like my Tommy. He saw things clear too.

CHARLIE: And the big piggie said: “Beware of dog. He’s a bite case, a fornicator. Ain’t on the prison bowling team.”
MA: When we was on the land, there was an order to things. Old folks got killed off, and little fellers grow’d up and done their own killin’.

CHARLIE: A crippled man walked, until he fell over. You dig?

MA: I wished ya hadn’t a done it, Charlie, but ya done what ya had to do. Ya done it for the family and there ain’t no fault in that.

CHARLIE: I done it cause I’m aligned with the desert. I done it cause I’m Spin and Marty. I done it cause I let sodomy sing songs of rejoicing in my heart.

MA: Without the land, folks is lost. Ain’t got no purpose no more. Just like tops spinnin’ outa control, all helter skelter.

CHARLIE: Last night, man, I dreamed things that never were and said “what the fuck is this?”

MA: There ain’t no family no more. We cracked up. Pa lit out for Jersey and Tommy, he ain’t no help; frettin’ about cops beatin’ up guys. Rosasharon, she’s laid up with the clap, and Al got conked on the head by a crate ‘a peaches. Been teeched ever since.

CHARLIE: Teeched?

MA: That’s right, teeched. And there ain’t nothin’ nobody can do about it.

CHARLIE: That really sucks, Ma.

MA: It don’t matter, Charlie. We’re the people, and we ain’t never gonna get licked.

Larry Pinck was recently paroled after a 30-year stretch as a New Jersey attorney. By the grace of god, he emerged with the light of lunacy still alive in his eyes. He loves word play almost as much as foreplay. His work has appeared on The Big Jewel and The Yellow Ham.

CLASSIC by Douglas Hackle

CLASSIC and his two pals were on their way to their weekly Suri Cruise lesson. It was CLASSIC’s turn to drive. All three men had donned their cheap, plastic Suri Cruise masks, the kind with the elastic band in the back. CLASSIC sat in the driver’s seat like an old lady, the chin of his mask nearly touching the top of the steering wheel, which he gripped tightly in both hands as he squinted behind the mask’s small eyeholes to better see the country road unrolling before him.

Note: People had been calling him “CLASSIC” ever since anyone could remember. But no one–not his parents, not even himself–could recall his actual, birth-given name. And as if by some supernatural act of defacement, even the man’s birth certificate, social security card, and driver’s license indicated that his name was indeed “CLASSIC.” Furthermore, whenever he signed his name it came out in all caps no matter how hard he tried to write it in lower case letters. What’s more, when CLASSIC tried to write anything (for example, a simple monosyllabic word like “the” or a phrase like “polar bear loverod” or a complete sentence like “I take back the mercy killing of my grandmother!”), his hand always produced those same seven capitalized letters in that same order, as if his hand were truly cursed.

CLASSIC.

The man was not classically handsome. Neither did he enjoy classic rock, nor drink Classic Coke, nor attend classic car shows. He certainly wasn’t the type of person who did or said things that stood out in any remarkable way, things that might have caused other people to say, “Oh, man, that was classic!” Nevertheless, that was his name.

It is what it is, I guess.

Anyhow, as was their habit, the three men took turns telling jokes en route to their lesson.

“Hey, I got one,” CLASSIC said, grinning behind the injection molded grin of his Suri Cruise mask. “So these two white cops are driving around in a patrol car one day when they receive a dispatch to respond to a homicide situation taking place on someone’s front lawn. So they put on their flashers and siren and speed off to the location. When they arrive at the scene, they see this creepy, fat, hairy, naked dude with a graying skullet sitting on the front stoop of the house. The dude is wearing a cheap, plastic Dora the Explorer mask, the kind with an elastic band in the back. The bottom part of the mask has been cut away, so that this maniac can easily gnaw on the severed limbs of the three children he has just murdered. Two other teary-eyed children are still alive, bound with duct tape a few feet away on the front lawn, awaiting their turn to be devoured by this monster.

“The cop driving the patrol car stares in disgust at this gruesome spectacle for a moment, then turns to his partner and says, ‘Fuck this shit. Let’s go get us some more donuts, you fat, racist pig!’

“His partner replies, ‘OK, you fucking fucker. Let’s bounce, you fat, racist pig. Hahahaha…’ He reaches across the seat with one hand and grabs the big bulge between the driver cop’s legs, giving it a nice, firm squeeze. Both cops then break into peals of shrieking laughter as the patrol car peels out and speeds away from the scene, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake. Get it?”

“Haha. Yeah, I get it,” said the black dude sitting in the front passenger seat of CLASSIC’s car.

By default, the black guy was heterosexual since I didn’t indicate otherwise.

“Haha. Yeah, that was a pretty good one, CLASSIC,” said the gay dude sitting in the backseat.

By default, the gay guy was white since I didn’t indicate otherwise.

“Fuck me!” CLASSIC shouted a moment later, pounding the steering wheel with the bottom of his fist. “We’re being pulled over.”

“Aw, not again,” protested the black dude as both he and the gay guy turned to look out the back window. Though there were no flashers to be seen or sirens to be heard, something was pulling them over. CLASSIC pressed his foot on the brake, edged over to the shoulder, brought his shitbox ’92 Pontiac Grand Am to a stop, and put it in park.

“Fuck, we’re gonna be late to our Suri Cruise lesson,” the gay dude said.

“Shut up!” CLASSIC said.

A second later there was a staccato double tap on the driver-side window. CLASSIC pressed the button to unroll it. Standing just outside the car door (or more like floating) was none other than 20 Miles Per Hour.

And, no, I’m not talking about a person named 20 Miles Per Hour. I’m talking about 20 Miles Per Hour as in the actual speed. Literally. Or, to put it more accurately, a semi-concrete materialization of the abstraction known as “20 miles per hour” floated just outside the driver-side widow of CLASSIC’s car.

You know how when Predator switches on his invisibility he’s transparent for a moment, but in that moment you can still make out the shape of Predator? That’s sort of what 20 Miles Per Hour looked like, only its shape was essentially that of a formless blob. However, every ten seconds or so, the phrase “20 Miles Per Hour” appeared in the interior of the transparent body, scrolling at various angles and in a variety of font styles and sizes.

“Do you know why I pulled you over, boy?” the thing said despite not having a mouth.

“Nope,” CLASSIC said, playing dumb and making no attempt to hide his exasperation. “What did I do?”

He knew full well why he’d been pulled over.

“I pulled you over for the same reason I pulled you over last week and the week before that and the week before that: You drove your car. Driving cars–driving any type of vehicle for that matter–has been illegal for over a hundred years now.”

“Ohhhh, that’s right,” CLASSIC said, still playing dumb. “Shit. Hey, I know that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law, but I really did forget that it’s illegal to drive cars. Can you cut me a break maybe?”

“I’ve already given you like a dozen warnings about this. I’m sorry, CLASSIC, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to write you a school zone today.”

From the blurry interior of its nebulous body, 20 Miles Per Hour produced a magical pen and began drawing a school zone all over CLASSIC’s car. The transparent blob circled the rusty Grand Am as it worked at a steady pace of 20 MPH, using its pen first to draw a large and very real segment of asphalt road perched atop the vehicle. Then, on top of the piece of road, it drew a school zone sign, a flashing yellow light, a crosswalk, a living crossing guard, and a group of living schoolchildren, all of which were very real.

When it was finished, 20 Miles Per Hour said, “Now don’t let me catch you driving again. In anything.”

“How the hell am I supposed to get my car home with a fucking school zone sitting on top of it?”

“That’s not my fucking problem. Do the best you can, booaay.”

“Man, yo, fuck you, yo!” CLASSIC lost it. But by the time he’d spoken, 20 Miles Per Hour had already evaporated into nothing.

CLASSIC punched his steering wheel again. “I can’t see a damn thing with this school zone overhanging every side of my car. But I sure as shit am not about to turn around and go home like a little bitch–like some goody-two-shoes chump. We have a goddamn Suri Cruise lesson to get to.”

“Aw, hellz yeah,” the black guy and the gay guy said in unison.

But driving with that school zone pressing down on his little shitbox car and obscuring his view of the road proved to be too difficult for CLASSIC. About a quarter mile up the road, he crashed the car and the school zone along with it.

That wreck was reeeeeaaaaaaal nasty. CLASSIC, his buddies, the schoolchildren, the crossing guard, not to mention about twenty unlucky pedestrians, were all cut up, on fire, and dying in a burning pile of twisted metal and broken asphalt.

A second after the accident occurred, two white cops in squad car pulled up to the scene.

“Hey, look! Should we stop and help them?” laughed the cop riding shotgun. Using his left hand, he vigorously yanked on the driver’s enormous, unwieldy Pringles(r) can erection while he stuffed a Boston cream doughnut into his own face with his right hand. The song “Fuck tha Police” by NWA was blasting through the stereo system, and the interior of the squad car reeked of both rotten egg farts and the decomposing, handcuffed corpse of a jaywalker who had starved to death in the backseat months ago because the cops had forgotten to let him out.

The driver, who also happened to be the Chief of Police, and who was himself in the act of cramming a glazed jelly doughnut into his own face while he enjoyed a jaunty, C minus handjob from his subordinate, said, “Na. Fuck those fucking assholes. Hey, we’re out of doughnuts. Let’s go get some more, you fucking racist pig! Hahahaha….”

The squad car steered clear of the accident and zoomed away from the billowing smoke in a cacophonic chaos of raucous laughter, oldschool gangsta rap, doughnut chomping, dick pumping, and horrible odors.

THE END THE END THE END THE END THE END THE END THE END

CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC

THE END THE END THE END THE END THE END THE END THE END

CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC


Douglas Hackle is the author of Clown Tear Junkies, a collection of absurdist/bizarro short stories. D is for Douglas. Hershel from The Walking Dead is HAWT!!! TERROR MAN. TERROR FACE. TERROR CLOWN. TERROR CHILD. TERROR MAN. TERROR FACE. TERROR CLOWN. TERROR CHILD. TERROR MOUSE.

From Here to Apathy by Tony Byrer

Today’s meeting took place in a small conference room with fourteen other people. There was seating for eight. I was the last to arrive because I didn’t want to go and so I was hiding in the men’s room, perched atop a toilet so anyone who bent over to peer underneath the dividers wouldn’t see my feet. It was a useless gesture, though. My pager started beeping insistently, stridently, maddeningly. It was worse than going to a meeting, so I turned it off and trudged my unhappy ass to the room.

Because I was the last to arrive, I had to stand next to the door in this crowded, hot conference room. The production manager, Gary Busey, was holding forth on his passion. His name is not really Gary Busey, but he looks enough like the notorious actor he could be his brother. He lives to ensure a quality product goes on the trucks to our customers. “You poor bastard,” I thought. Imagine devoting your entire life to pursuing a better power steering assembly. And because I am a quality engineer technician, I fall within the sphere of Gary’s passion.

It’s a smelly place to be. Gary’s overbite looks as if it were drawn by Matt Groening. His hot, wet breath surrounds him in a steamy ball of sour fragrance. Standing close to Gary is like standing next to a large tongue dripping with saliva, a tongue that goes to the Olive Garden every day for a stromboli. Extra garlic and onions, please. Really, I can’t stand someone who can’t keep his lunch to himself.

I had assumed my place standing next to the door with the other standees. Gary glanced up. “Tony!” he exclaimed. “Glad to see you could make it. It’s not a party without you.” Bernie Frye, a product engineer, recognized Gary had just made a joke, lame though it was. He guffawed, looking around the room to see who else would laugh. A few of the attendees worked up belly laughs as well, not wanting Gary to notice they were not giving his joke the appreciation it deserved.

Inez Reynolds, a production supervisor and thus Gary’s subordinate, should have been laughing but she wasn’t. Gary reached over and clapped her on the back to encourage her laughter. She managed a wan smile, but that wasn’t nearly an enthusiastic enough tribute to Gary’s joke. He stood and tugged at his belt. There should be laughter, damn it, and there wasn’t, so he was damn well going to distribute some righteous punishment.

When he pulled his belt from his waist, his fist tapped Inez in the back of the head and her eyes popped out. They skittered across the conference table and bounced to the floor. “Oops,” someone said, and reached for one of her bouncing eyeballs. It squirted out of his fist and rebounded off someone’s face.

Charlie McKenzie, a production technology specialist, grabbed for the eye and accidentally smacked Bernie in the cheek. Bernie, he of the first guffaw, the guffaw that started this whole eye-bouncing fandango, clapped his hands to his face but not in time to keep his eyeballs from popping out of their sockets and bouncing across the conference table. Charlie grabbed for both eyes and managed to knock three more people in the heads with his flailing elbows. Suddenly this small, hot conference room, humid with the damp exhalations of over a dozen people, reeking with Gary’s exhaled lunch, was full of hopping, popping, bouncing eyeballs.

I saw a video on the internet once in which someone set hundreds of mouse traps in an empty room. He tossed a ping pong ball into the middle of these hundreds of locked and loaded mouse traps and for a few seconds the room was full of flying mouse traps. When one went off, it flew into the air, upsetting traps around it which in turn flew into the air, upsetting traps around them, and on and on and on. The snappity snap snap of the flying mouse traps pleased me. I laughed and clapped my hands. This was entertainment!

And now the squickity squick squick of flying eyeballs pleased me. I had the presence of mind to duck into the corner between the credenza and the artificial potted rubber tree. I laughed and clapped my hands.

People were flailing about the conference room among dozens of skittering, bouncing eyeballs. Their harsh gasps and soft mewling filled the spaces around the soft pops and plops of the eyeballs as they scrabbled among themselves to reclaim their lost sight. I rolled out the door on my shoulder and hopped to my feet.

“What’s going on in there?” asked Chad Sammitch, a quality engineer late to the gathering.

“Aw, man,” I laughed. “You just gotta see for yourself.” I clapped him on the back and shoved him through the door. The last I saw of him, he was on his hands and knees, one eye completely gone and the other swinging on its stalk back and forth, slapping him on both sides of his face as he crabbed and clawed on the floor. Skittering, dancing eyeballs squirted through his fingers as he tried in vain to find his own eye among the dozens now squashed and smashed into the carpet.

I whistled a happy tune as I walked back to my desk. From now on, I’m going to be a glad-handing sack of shit. I’m going to greet people with a big cheese-eating grin and a hearty clap on the back.

Work can be entertaining, oh yes it can!

Tony Byrer is a transportation engineer in the exciting, dynamic, and fast paced poultry industry. That doesn’t sum up his life, but that’s what people want to know when they ask, “What do you do?” He lives in southern Indiana with his wife, some cats, and a dog.

Twisted Metal and Cinnamon Cakes by Gwil James Thomas

I’d driven over earlier that afternoon, sure that my mum wouldn’t notice that her car had gone. I sat back on the warn down sofa finishing off the crumbs of the homemade cinnamon cake. I’d hated 94% of cakes that I’d tried in my life, but this didn’t seem so bad.

“The Somalians and Jamaicans have been beefing again. It’s been kicking off down my road these last weeks,” Robert said, scratching at the whiskers that he called his beard, not that my own was much better at that point.
“Oh,” I said.
“Yardies moved in, brought guns over and started smashing up growing kits. There were several destroyed in our road alone,” Robert said.
“All in your road,”
“Yeah, it surprised me too. One evening we all got this bout of three-way paranoia and decided that we’d stuff all our shit – or almost all of it, into two cinnamon cakes. I didn’t wanna catch them sniffing anything out. You don’t wanna get dragged into that,” Robert said and opened a vintage looking cake tin “You want another slice of cake?” he offered.

 

I took up his offer, stuffing myself as I waited for Robert. Thinking of everything and nothing as I diverted my attention from the roach ends and stones of the Go board, to the accentuated rhythm of the rising incense smoke.

 

Outside, the summer sun had already begun to set over the city. As I stuck the keys in the ignition, it seemed that I’d half forgotten that the car wasn’t mine and that I was in a rush to get it back, not to mention giving Robert a lift. It had all crept up on me slowly and just as we drove out from Stapleton Road, I suddenly realized that I couldn’t quite focus on the speedometer. That was when it dawned on me, that that stupid little cinnamon cake was trying to possess me.

 

We reached the next set of lights as a police car pulled into the lane alongside us. It was then that time was suspended, I tried to act normally and gingerly fiddled with the pine scented air-freshener. Riding shotgun, the cop car was on Robert’s side, as he tried his hardest to avoid eye contact, but even I could see that they were staring at him. A flash of blue panned across the dashboard, but they were off elsewhere. We moved away from the main road and drove off past the Polish church still fighting the cinnamon cake. I wound down the window and flicked some music on, DOOM played over the speakers as I searched for something more appropriate and braked gently to a stop as we reached the next set of lights. I tried to assure myself that I was overcoming it, my mind was stronger – this was nothing huge, just some minor psychotropic indulgence. I stared out of my window – I stared at some near by greenery, the blades of grass that seemed to vibrate in the breeze, some birds attacking a bird feeder, a passing dark haired woman tonguing at a lolly from behind her shades. I put my foot down and from nowhere came another car. We came closer and closer then we collided. I knocked the side of it and continued with my foot on the brakes, skidding across the road, the air bag deploying, as I wrestled with it and the steering wheel, sounds of glass and metal raining down on the concrete floor before finally I stopped and fell into the airbag. I knocked away the air bag and got out of the car. Through the smoke I could see another battered car. The driver flung open his door but I was in no state to negotiate anything.

 

“We’ve got to get out of here before the police come back, I’ve still got shit on me,” Robert said.

 

He was right, one way or another I was in the shit again, though how deep was something that still seemed debatable. I handed over some details to the other driver and tried to remember his, as we made haste. Black smoke filtered through my window as I drove on through the back roads, while Robert leant out of his, looking for someplace we could ditch the thing and walk.

 

Years have passed since then, but I remember it every other time I see a cinnamon cake and recall how I came to hate 95% of cakes.

Gwil James Thomas lives in London, England. He is the author of the novel Captains of Sinking Ships (Kenton) and a short story collection Halfway to Nowhere – which is available in Greece (Strange Days Books). He was also a member of the short lived punk band Irreparables and is a regular contributor to Joe England’s Push Literary Zine.

 

 

The Night of the Living Little People by Motel Todd

It was 1995 and I was halfway through my first and so far only marriage. I decided to have a few drinks and ended up in Dallas on Greenville Avenue. There is an entertainment district there with lots of bars and restaurants. I saw Marshall Phillips, the lead singer of our defunct band Spastic Revolt. We had recorded a song with me on guitar in 1993 that was played on local radio. The song was called Desert Storm, the prelude to the Iraq War of 2003-2011? This was back between wars. It was after the Cold War that lasted from 1945-1990 where there was a communist under every bed but before the never ending war on terrorism where there is a terrorist under every bed (2001-2201?). Man, there is a lot of shit under American beds!

I digress, anyway I picked up Marshall. He said he had taken 20 seconals (downers) and we ended up in the Greenville Avenue Bar & Grill. He had a coke and I had a beer. Dirty Laundry by Don Henley played. Just as the lyric played “…you just have to look good you don’t have to be clear…” an ancient rodie approached the bartender and said he had worked with The Eagles sometime around 5000 BC. Marshall and I left at this boring juncture. Marshall and I had heard our fill of these old hippie stories by this time in our lives.

I decided to take him home. However, before we did that he talked me into getting some acid at some fried old hippie’s place. He was on old Vietnam Vet and his house looked like a cross between Woodstock and a Southeast Asian hooch along the Perfume River. Stevie Ray Vaughn hung proudly on his wall along with some bowie knives stuck in the wall. After some boring lecture on the Nam we got out of there with our tab acid. We each took our two tabs and hit the road.

Next Marshall needed to stop at a friend’s to get some of his stuff he had left there in a gym bag. We knocked on the door and could hear some Van Hallen playing circa The David Lee Roth Era. A man standing 3 foot tall answered the door. The whole small apartment was filled with little people. A female little person came down the stairs wearing fishnet stockings, a push-up black bra, and a black mini-skirt. She was getting ready to go to work at some topless place. She kept smiling at me. Marshall finally negotiated the release of his gym bag full of clothes and we finally headed back to his parent’s pad.

Marshall’s parent’s pad had been our original destination before all the detours. I suddenly stared laughing. Marshall joined me. I turned down the radio.

“Dude, was I trippin’ or were those dwarfs in that apartment?”

“They preferred to be called little people…they were real!”

I dropped Marshall of at his parent’s pad and he quietly slipped in with his house key. I made it back home to my place where my wife was sound a sleep. I slipped into bed and woke the next morning and went on to work. I never told the old lady about this. She never would have believed me anyway. She did not like Marshall much. Marshall suffered from bipolar disorder and drove everyone nuts, especially my ex-wife.

Motel Todd was born in 1967. He has lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex most of his life. He escaped Arkansas in 1971 and is eternally grateful.

Over Share by Fiona Helmsley

seagull2I remember the time

We were eating lunch together in the employee break room

And I was just starting to feel close to you

As you’d just disclosed to me

That your husband, who you always gushed about in public, was in actuality, a pig.

The conversation shifted to swarth, then personal grooming habits.

“I can’t go a day without shaving my legs,” you said. “I just feel too icky!”

“I haven’t had pubes since the Clinton administration,” I replied.

From that day on,

I fed my half- eaten bags of potato chips to the seagulls in the park on my way home,

You had always finished the chips for me,

But now I ate lunch alone.

Color Coded for Your Protection and Well-Being by Chris Smith

It happened at the airport in his birth city, amidst the monotone announcer informing the businessmen and women and pilots and tourists that the danger level had been upgraded to “orange.” Emil wondered what orange even meant, how it was any more threatening than chartreuse or turquoise or cerulean. All he could even think of was the fruit–since when was citrus a danger?

Yet down they came, round as the bellies of pregnant mothers, falling from the sky and exploding on impact. They bursted into a stain of juice and flesh. They pummeled the airport’s roof, drumming an offbeat tattoo. They bombed cars, smearing across windshields–often cracking and breaking the glass–causing traffic jams and car crashes, where the terrified drivers leaned forward to gaze up through their spiderwebed windows and think three letters, “W” and “T” and “F.” They filled the air with their heady-sweet scent. They fell onto animals, driving out distressed moos, yelps, and bunny screams. They hit the pedestrians; they broke noses; they bruised cheeks and thighs; they broke children and teacup chihuahuas, the geriatrics on their walks with their geriatric pets. It all happened in the span of a half hour, one of those fluke tropical storms that stop and start faster than a heartbeat.

Through the airport’s oversized panes of glass, Emil stared at the runway planes, service vehicles, and staff. Thick sludge covered everything, pulp and rind gleaming in the noonday light like jellied sunshine. And he thought how warm and safe it must have been, hovering and sleeping and dreaming there in his mother’s womb.

Chris Smith now lives in Savannah, GA, after having spent the last year nomading it across the country from coast to coast. For whatever reason, journals and zines that begin with the letter “P” seem to like his writing the most. He’s not going to argue with this. He can be found inhabiting cyber space with his coauthor, Holly Cagney, with their blog here (http://cantfightthewrite.blogspot.com) and their twitter here (https://twitter.com/Chris_and_Holly).

Home and God and You by Grant Bailie

A shoe was thrown from a passing car and the boy called the shoe Peter and dragged it by its laces everywhere he went for days. At night the pet shoe slept by his head on a pillow of hamburger wrappers, while the boy dreamed dreams cluttered with the bright blurred colors of passing cars.

The boy had been born and still lived in the center of the turnpike. He had been conceived in ditch water, to parents who constructed his first crib from cattails and wire. They taught him about Godómore specifically, they taught him that God was the green sign for the exit ramp about a mile away. You could not make out any of the numbers or letters on the sign from where they were.

That’s God, they told him and they all prayed nightly toward the exit ramp sign.

They ate one or two or three meals a day, depending; picnics cobbled together from scraps of food thrown from the windows of passing cars. He longed to one day eat ice cream–which he had never tasted but saw once on the side of a truck–but all he ever got was apple cores, packages of vinaigrette, wilted asparagus, the pits of cherries, and the green smears of wasabi left behind at the bottom of empty sushi containers.

His only toy or friend was that single shoe Peter, tossed one day from a white van as it swerved onto the berm, kicked gravel into their home among the weeds as it sped away, someone shouting something unintelligible in a high, thin voice.

It made his mother angry. She said, not for the first time, how people had no respect for the homes or life-choices of others. His father imagined the driver of the offending car to be in middle management. A blob of a middle manager who slumped behind a desk all day, hanging up on ever phone call with a bang and then stapling various pieces of paper together as if any of it mattered.

His father was always imaging with detail the lives in the cars that drove by. That and collecting moldering TV guides were his only hobbies.

On the boys fourteenth year, there was a twelve car pileup culminating in a city bus slamming into the light pole closest to their home. There was debris and bodies everywhere, and the boy saw many things he would never forget and the smell of spilled fuel clung to everything for weeks. On the upside, after the bodies and the bigger bits of wreckage were cleared away, there was enough debris left over to build a whole new room to their home.

The boy was hoping for a bigger bed room but the father opted for a den, something he had seen once on TV and had always wanted. The boy, never having seen TV, had no idea what the new room was for. He only knew it was a private place for his father to sit and think and pretend to smoke a broken pipe he had no tobacco for.

The walls of the father’s den were lined with shelves made from car bumpers and guard rails and filled with all the rotting TV guides he had found over the years. The walls themselves were made of tires, car doors, and a piece of metal torn from the side of an ice cream truck.

This last part seemed especially cruel to the boy, who still longed for the taste of ice cream as if his inevitable enjoyment of it was a matter of instinct more than conditioning. Meanwhile, his father sat on an overturned milk crate, pretending to smoke his pipe while telling a completely made up story about wearing jodhpurs while hunting on horseback when he was a child in the country, a better country than this.

The boy could stand no more. He packed his few belongings, grabbed his pet shoe Pete by the laces, and headed out into the night, down the center of the highway toward the green exit sign of God.

He walked slowly, being unused to taking more than ten steps in a row in one direction. And by small degrees, he began to see the letters and numbers of the sign more clearly.