12/31/13

Afloat
By G. K. Adams


Absurd, that’s what was. Absurd as sticking a funnel up a piggy-wigs’ ass. But here they were, in a pea-green boat seesawing across the ocean.

“Catherine, darling,” he said. “Pass the honey.”

“Al, dear, reach it yourself.”

“You’re closer than I.”

“You’re taller than I,” she said, “and you didn’t polish the anchor yesterday as you promised.”

“What use is polish?”

“What use is an anchor out here?” she asked, waving her hand. “Just an ornament – to be polished.”

“Your logic is twisted,” he said.

“At least I have logic. I’m not the one who wanted to set to sea with nothing but love and tea and honey.”

“And quince jam,” he said. “Don’t forget the quince jam.”

“I hate quince jam.”

“I had no idea, darling.”

“You never asked. You never ask anything.”

“Foul! And untrue.”

“True!” she retorted. Then she added, “A year and a day! A YEAR and a day! That’s how long it’s been.”

“Now, dear, we’ll reach harbor soon.”

Catherine preened her soft brown hair, then drew a jeweled compact from her purse and freshened her hot magenta lipstick. “What time is it?” she asked.

He studied the boat’s little mast and its shadow. “Quarter past four,” he replied. “Time for tea.”

She snarled in his direction, but fetched the kettle and teapot, and began to heat the water. She spread white linen on the table and measured tea into the pot. When the kettle came to a boil, she transported the pot to the kettle and carefully poured.

“Tea will be ready shortly,” she said.

“Thank you, dear. You’re such a pussy. Speaking of which . . . .”

“Not til after tea.”

The tea was brewed and drunk; the dishes washed and stowed. The sun began to sink toward the horizon. Long lavender and pink clouds stretched starboard and port.

“Now?” he asked.

“Now,” she said.

He carefully untied her sailor’s knot and slipped the blouse from her shoulders, which he kissed.

Soon a full moon rose above the sea. And they fucked by the light of the moon, moon, moon.


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My fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Legendary, Orion headless, Flashquake, The Linnet’s Wings and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. I have served on the editorial staff of an allied health journal in the District of Columbia and as a technical editor for industry. My husband and I live on the Texas Gulf Coast.

12/24/13

Climbing the Woman Tree
By Mark McKee


Climbing the Woman Tree for a new (pri)mate. Practice genuflecting to mother Earth.

Adam's apple peels slowly to see the fruit velvet within, so we take a rocket ride into Jupiter's eye.

The cyclops lies hungry.

Sepherin-sephiroth takes a nap on Jaundice, and we lie hungry, waiting to get born.


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I'm Mark, from Dyersburg, TN. I have stories published or forthcoming in Eyeshot, Treehouse, and Menacing Hedge. I try to review most of the books I read at goodreads.com/markmckeejr

12/17/13

Henry Showed Wendy His Paintings
By: Donal Mahoney

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Henry and Wendy Throckmorton had been married a week when Henry took Wendy to his garret 100 miles south of their estate in posh Kenilworth, a suburb of Chicago. Wendy thought she was going on a delayed honeymoon. Henry had never told her that he was a painter by avocation. She knew only that he was a successful patent attorney and had a large, profitable practice.

There was a heavy snowfall that evening and it made the trip for Wendy, looking out the window of the car, all the more beautiful. They arrived at the garret around midnight and walked up three flights of stairs in the dark. It was good that Henry had brought his flashlight. He used three keys on a long silver chain to open three locks on the steel door. Once inside the garret, Henry turned on the light with triumph.

"Voila!" he said as he turned slowly in a circle with arms outstretched.

Wendy was certainly surprised. There were paintings all over the walls. Other paintings, half completed, sat on their easels waiting for Henry. He explained to Wendy that she was the first person to see his work--his work of a lifetime. He had never shown his work to anyone before but now that they were married, he felt she had a right to see it.

"Wendy, you are the one person I know who is qualified to see my work and I am very happy about that."

Wendy had been curator of several art collections at prestigious museums in a number of cities. As soon as she was settled in her new home, she planned to seek similar employment in Chicago, perhaps at a small private gallery so she would have less pressure and more time to make a nice home for Henry who had been a bachelor for a long time.

Wendy was an expert in watercolors, Henry's medium of choice. With his encouragement, she walked around the garret slowly, looking at every painting on the walls and even those on the easels before she said anything.

Finally, choosing her words carefully, she told Henry his work was "interesting." She did not praise or condemn any particular painting. She spoke quietly, trying her best to say something nice when her professional assessment told her just the opposite--the work was mediocre, mundane at best. Later on, Henry thought to himself that Wendy had looked bemused after reviewing his life's work.

Henry Throckmorton earned his living as an attorney but that was simply to buy the time necessary to paint. Before marrying Wendy he had spent weekends, holidays and vacations at his garret, painting night and day for many years. He had done well as an attorney but painting was his passion. He knew now, however, that the canvases he thought so highly of had failed to impress his young wife.

Henry drove home alone that night and told everyone at work the next day that Wendy had left him without notice. He called her parents and cried on the telephone about her sudden departure. He begged them to ask Wendy to call him if they heard from her and he said he would call them if she called him. He asked her mother if Wendy had ever gone off on her own before and she assured him that Wendy had not.

No one ever saw Wendy Throckmorton again. Over the years, her parents had died, still worried about Wendy. Since she had been an only child, there were no siblings to ask about her. It was obvious to the staff in Henry's office that he was in no mood to discuss her. They felt the man was brokenhearted.

Once again, Henry was spending weekends, holidays and vacations at his garret painting in watercolors. No one since Wendy had seen his work nor had anyone else visited his garret. Paintings were still everywhere, their number increasing as a result of Henry's ever-increasing frenzy for painting.

A wonderful cook, Henry still stored a few steaks in a small refrigerator in the kitchen but he no longer hung big cuts of beef from hooks in the walk-in freezer at the back of the garret. That freezer had been a selling point when Henry bought the place from a retired butcher many years ago. But now Henry never went into the freezer. In fact, he didn't know where he had put the keys to the locks he himself had installed on the freezer door after Wendy had disappeared.

In addition to being good at the law and enjoying painting, Henry Throckmorton had always been handy with tools. He had hoped some day to try his hand at ice sculpture but he would have to do that outside now and not in the freezer as he had once planned.


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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

12/10/13

The Clearing
By Mike MacConnell


The snow crunched under Danny’s feet as he carried the last armful of firewood inside. The air was icy, yet oddly inviting. The cabin’s door was heavy; it opened with a rusty swing that reminded him of the high pitched cry of a loon. After stacking the last three logs, he peeled off his boots and propped his feet up by the warm and crackling fire. He shivered momentarily as he eyed the full moon in the window. Finally, he would be able to relax. Between his job, his wife, and the high demands of everyday life, he hadn’t truly been able to relax.
Now, with a warm glass of bourbon in his hand, the crackling fire filling his ears and nose, Danny sighed and sank into his chair. This is great. Dropped the cell phone off at the house and left all my anxiety on this doorstep.  Danny happily sipped at his glass, savoring the warm and smoky flavor of the rusty colored bourbon. Mmm, this hits many spots, Danny wistfully thought.
Before he could take another pull off his glass, a thunderous crash sent Danny tumbling over backwards.  He shot up like a bottle rocket and raced to the window; his footsteps pounding the hardwood floor like an out of tune bass drum. He could see a bright glow no more than fifty yards away. There seemed to be a small trail surrounding it. One thought ripped across his mind—plane crash! Danny pulled on his boots, grabbed his hatchet and ran out the door, barely closing it behind him. Danny’s breath spilled out in ragged puffs as he raced to the site of the crash. The closer he got, the heavier the smell of fuel became. The scent hung inside his nostrils thickly; at one point Danny gagged.
He pulled a handkerchief and wrapped it around his nose. Like an outlaw. Look out, Mister, here comes Jesse James to the rescue, Danny fleetingly thought. Upon his approach, Danny crept further to the wreckage. No sign of any bodies—plenty of debris. Maybe some poor soul is trapped under the fuselage or something,he reckoned. He twisted, hacked and struggled with some shards of the plane, but he got nowhere. Too heavy, he thought. The dull roar of the flames swirled all around him as a crisp wind began to blow, causing Danny to back away. The heat seared at his face, causing him to flinch away. As he wheeled away, he saw the tracks—half-footstep, half dragged. Danny looked closer and noted a small dark trail along the trail. Blood, he thought. Jesus, I hope they’re alright.
Danny followed the trail into the trees where the tree line began, around roughly twenty feet to the east. If they got this far, they’ve gotta be alright,Danny thought. Danny headed down through the tree, branches popping and the icy ground crushing under his feet. The thick smell of pine filled the air—Danny pulled off his handkerchief and took a deep breath as he trudged on. From a distance, a small muffled pop could be heard. The plane? He wondered. Danny crunched onward. There’s a clearing here somewhere—before he could continue his thought, he saw it. Just ahead, he could see the clearing. Danny stepped out; he breath caught in his chest. The clearing was huge; it instantly reminded him of some forgotten Tolkien tale. The low pine branches were covered with the soft powder of a fresh fallen snow.
The moon was bright and full in the sky. Its reflected light caused the clearing to glow softly and brightly—almost creating a magical cast to the natural scene. There, at the north edge of the clearing, Danny spotted him. There was a shape huddled against the tree. A small but growing puddle of blood surrounded the base of the tree. Danny hurried to the shape, fearing the worst. He crouched down, checking for a pulse. The man appeared to be in his seventies—a wise old face, crisscrossed with wrinkles. His forehead was split at the left eyebrow. His face was battered and bruised almost beyond normalcy. The man sat up sharply, coughing out a small stream of blood. Danny reeled back with a shout.
“I—I’m sorry…” the person said.
Danny wiped his hand across his cheek quickly.
     “It’s alright, sir. Can you tell me your name?”
     “It’s Win—Winston…Winston—hic—Green.
     “Ok, Winston, I’m Danny. You’ve been in a plane crash—was there anyone else on board?”
     “No. Just…me.”
     “OK, Winston, I’m gonna check your wound, if that’s ok.”
     “You a…a doctor?”
     “EMT, sir.”
 Danny pulled Winston’s heavy coat back. He gasped—he could see three of Winston’s rib bones—and a sharp metallic fragment rammed in between. The blood was gushing in steady pulsing currents. This guy’s an endgame, Danny thought. Nothing to do now but keep him comfortable.
     “Winston,” Danny said.
Winston slowly turned his head. The moonlight was making his pale face glow.
     “Yeah?” Winston croaked.
     “You have any kids? Any loved ones?”
Winston lightly groaned and struggled to breathe for a second.
     “It’s alright, Winston. Take your time.” Winston grabbed Danny’s hand and drew him in close.
     “My wife is gone…” Winston whispered.
     “I’m sorry, Winston.”
     “It’s alright…I’m gonna…gonna get to see her soon.”
    
Danny’s clenched his jaw. What am I gonna say? Thanks for the conversation—would ya put in a good word for me when you see God?

     “You…you’re a good man,” Winston began. “You have a good soul. Thanks for trying, son.”

Danny felt a lump in his throat. Winston struggled and coughed, sending up more blood.

“Danny,” Winston whispered.
“Yes?”
“Cherish her…cherish your time.”
“I will.”
“Take care of Sarah…show her that you love her.”

Danny’s eyes widened. How did he know her name?  Winston took one last breath, then sagged lifelessly against the tree. Danny clutched Winston’s hand as tears streamed down his cheeks.

Only then did he hear the distant crackle of the flames.


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I'm a student, father, husband, destroyer of pizzas, lover of the guitar, friend to animals, and a serious student of the absurd.

12/3/13

Carlos
By Nicholas Slade


I was walking home after a long day at work. “Man, I need a drink”. Luckily, I spotted a local convenience store and walked in. I went to the back of the store and got a soda from the cooler. I was walking up to the cash register when I spotted a strange looking fellow working the register.

“Hello, my name is Carlos,” said the cashier. “How can I help you today, my dude?”

I put the soda on the counter. “Just this, thanks.”

“Whoa,” he said.

“What?”

“You like soda?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“No way, I like soda too.”

“That’s fascinating.”

“So, why do you like soda?”

“I don’t know, because it’s soda, I guess.”

“Whoa, that’s deep man, I think you just, like, blew my mind.”

“Thanks, I guess. Now, are you going to scan my…”

“Hey, what’s your name?”

“It’s Ian, but what about the…”

“Ian, dude, that such a rad name.”

“Thanks, now about the…”

“Hey, do you like rice and chicken?”

“What?”

“Because my Grandma makes awesome rice and chicken, it’s like, the best on the whole island, bro.”

“That’s great.”

“Man, now I’m getting hungry, are you hungry?”

“Yes, actually. That’s why I need to get out of here so I can go meet my girlfriend for some seafood and…”

“Ah man, seafood, I love seafood. You know who has awesome seafood?”

I put my head in my hand. “Who?”

“El Jatito. They have, like, the best lobster I have ever had, like ever.”

I reached into my pocket for my crucifix.

“Hey, are you going to the Three Kings Ceremony this Christmas?”

“I don’t know.”

“Man, you gotta go, it’s like one of the best events here in Cabo Rojo, dude.”

“I’m sure it is.”

He went on and on and at one point, I just tuned him out and nodded my head. I think he was talking about the local mayoral race at one point, but I’m not sure. The sound of a scanner snapped me out of my daze.

“Hey man, I almost forgot about your soda. That’ll be two dollars, dude.”

I’m saved. “Okay, here you go.”

“Man, it looks like we’ve been talking a while. There’s just not much of a chance for conversation lately, you know. We don’t get that many costumers around here.”

As I was walking out, I turned my head.


- - -
Nicholas is a writer currently living in Florida. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to Florida in 2012 and is currently studying for his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. He has previously been published in Farther Stars Than These and Yesteryear Fiction.


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