Make Them Dumb

By Lisa Martens 

On my last day as an undergrad, I ran into my Chinese lab partner. Her English name was Scarlett. I told her I was graduating and she proceeded to do some ancient Chinese dance for “good luck in future!” Then I went to drown myself in Red Bull and attend a reading for my creative writing in Spanish class.

After that, I took the six train uptown and hung out with my friend Elif and her boyfriend. They had a relationship based on supplying each other with chemicals in a very thoughtful way. He bought cigarettes, she bought weed, they bought snacks together when they got the munchies, they split the cost of coke (both kinds). It was a symbiotic understanding that they both needed all of these things and they would help the other. I leeched behind them for the view of it, not drinking, not smoking, not snorting, not eating. Continue reading

Saint Joseph

By Larry Roszkowiak 

After the sex stopped I’d lie in bed at night, stare at the ceiling and plan carpentry projects.

I’d plan the miters and the cuts. I’d calculate the swing of the hinges. I’d plot the saw settings.

In my mind strips of wood moved through the air obedient to the blueprints developing in my mind. Continue reading

Lost in Space

By Murray Carlson

We drove silently through the rainy Seattle night. When we stopped, I couldn’t feel my body. I was a shell walking into that dimly lit room, where a red curtain was the door to the hallway. I looked around the room just to take my focus off what might be brewing behind that curtain. I filled my mouth from a bowl of candy.

There was a small television. The dial sounded “chunk, chunk, chunk” as I looked for a distraction of any kind. To my astonished joy, the fifth channel was airing “Lost in Space!” I leaned over to get as close to the screen as possible. I pleaded with Billy Mummy and Mr. Smith to save me. I was shaking. Continue reading

Smile in Aisle 7

By David Cox

She came through fast, brushed my arm and almost knocked the jar from my hand. I started to exclaim, “Well, pardon me!” when she stopped and turned.

“Excuse me,” she said with sincerity.

I smiled forgivingly. She continued down the aisle. Where was I? Oh, gherkins on sale, buy one get one, but I loved dill. Crap! The pickle decision paralyzed me. Dill in one hand, gherkins the other. If a thumb had been free, I’d been standing with it up my ass. I grinned stupidly, unable to make a decision. My tears of frustration were close to cresting when a horrific cry came from aisle’s end. It was the gut wrenching sound of potato chips breaking, torn where ridge meets ridge. I smiled in sadness. Continue reading

Smokin’ with the Cabbie

By Kevin Moriarity

I remember some things from that day vividly. Other things are still fuzzy. I remember the warm sunshine and crisp air of a Minnesota summer morning. I was in Minneapolis to speak to a client about their new software system. I was sipping coffee in front of my hotel, waiting for a cab to take me to that client.

The cab pulled up the hotel driveway. I got in on the driver’s side.

“Where to?” the driver asked. Continue reading

The Hardwood Floor

By James Thibeault 

They don’t know until I hit the hardwood floor. I make my knuckles crack, then bleed. I scream. The neighbors hear and call. Police and sirens surround me, checking for bruises and scars, but don’t look too hard. My father tells them, “She stressed herself out.” The neighbors don’t call again — not even when I attack the floor later that night. He doesn’t give me scars, I tell myself, except the ones I make. But those don’t count. Those are my fault. Continue reading

Bookends

By Jon Richards

Henry Otis shuffled down the street, rounding the corner to the liquor store.

He kept playing in his mind, over and over like a movie, the time when he was 18 years old. He remembers how he won the gun in a card game. A pair of twos, my God! It wasn’t a real gun — he didn’t run with that kind of crowd — but it looked like a real gun he thought. The day after the win, Henry woke up, dressed, walked down to the liquor store, pulled out the gun and walked away with 19 dollars and 63 cents — a lot of money! No hassle, no one chased him. No sirens, no wanted poster. He just walked away. Continue reading