Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Tobias Oggenfuss.
Can Anybody Here Juggle?
by Barry Basden
I hardly recognized that guy in last night’s movie. He looked weary, just hanging in. What was that film in the ’80s with him so cynical, so beautifully stoned? Stoned–a lovely way to endure these streets melting in the dark, empty but for the neighbor’s yowling cats. Not at all what I expected. Tonight’s late late movie: Busby Berkeley, colorized by Turner. Orchestra in tails. Syncopated ladies in drag. Acrobats. A magician perhaps, something new up his sleeve for a change.
by Robert Scotellaro
He was in there smoking pot again. Mixed with the deep, otherworldly sounds of his Tuvan throat singing. His fifteen-year-old peep-tone voice, plummeting. Like his CDs, which sounded like devils chanting with frogs in their throats. You hungry? she asked through the door. Her hands hungry to make something. His No! soaring back several octaves. She poured some coffee. There was sunlight on her azaleas, needing watering. There was the cat brushing her for food. There were still a few teen years left. She over-sprinkled fishy stars into a bowl. Some things were just easier to fix than others.
by Tony Lee Marman
“You told her?” I say.
He holds up his hands. They’re trembling.
At first the girls are impressed when he doesn’t try to get in their pants on the first date. Second date, the kissing goes okay, but it progresses no further. Soon after, they start to think it’s them. Finally, he admits he’s terrified of the sex act. They laugh before realizing he’s serious. (This realization can take a week or more.)
“She dumped me,” he says.
“So what now?”
“Live a long and lonely life. Nothing wrong with that.”
“The ‘lonely’ part?”
by Anne Pem
When I sit on the public restroom toilet, the cold presence of something wet is there. Someone else’s piss—or maybe just toilet water thrown on the seat in a violent flush—contaminates my skin. I wipe, but it remains throughout the day as a patch of nervous discomfort growing larger than the bounds of the initial contact. The contamination spreads with everything I touch. My husband grabs my naked ass before bed, and his hand becomes infected. Everything tainted until we’re all-over dirty with someone else.
by Clay Greysteel
New Mexico. They set up camp in abandoned city ruins. Groups were territorial, hoarding provisions, fighting.
Lars sat with Alaina in the shade after she’d become faint. Her belly grew larger every day. Lars suspected she’d been raped, but he never asked and she never told.
“We can’t keep fighting over leftovers,” he said, watching as the others prepared for a raid. “We need to become self-sustaining, or work together, or… something.”
“Belief is power,” Alaina said, patting her belly. Desperation within the group had led to rumor that she was Mary, and the baby, Jesus. “We use this.”