A Bar Joke
by Peter Cherches
Three things exist in a bar. The bartender notices them for the first time, though they’d been hiding in plain sight for ages. In fact, they’d been in the bar so long they had collected a thick veneer of dust. It’s a slow day, so the bartender dusts the three things off, revealing their true natures. One of the things strikes the bartender’s fancy, so he moves it behind the bar, a place of honor. Now all the customers begin to comment on the thing. It has become a conversation piece, which cannot be said of the other two things!
What Daedalus Really Said to Icarus
by Dave Donovan
As he fastened the straps around the boy’s broadening shoulders, the craftsman spoke: “Listen to me. These wings aren’t built for a joy ride–they’re a means to an end. We’re escaping a dickhead who’s pissed that his wife fucked a bull. So here’s the deal: fly too high, you’re dead. Too low, dead. Got it?”
After a moment, the father sighed with despair: “Still, you are meant to die. That’s what young men do when given a chance like this. To you, it beats farming and growing old. I understand. I’m just letting you know you were loved.”
Documentarians Went There So You Don’t Have To
by Todd Mercer
The film festival Jane and I attended showcased nations that are terrible safety risks for filmgoers to visit. Transitioning from a pitch-dark theater into sunlight, reflecting on why Yemen is disqualified from vacations, I tripped. Laid on the concrete awhile.
Jane said, “See, Marshall? Nowhere is completely safe.”
Then she helped me up.
I didn’t want to draw attention to my bleeding knee. The festival reminded us: people are bleeding all over. People gasp for breath. They starve in a time of plenty.
We recovered at a sandwich shop. Jane’s was a Cuban, mine a Rachel—a turkey Reuben.
Where Did That Leave Him?
by Mel Fawcett
When Michael was learning French he began watching a filmed interview of a famous French actor. Over time, he learned to copy the actor’s intonation–to such an extent that people said he sounded like him. Flattered by this, he began to develop the mannerisms of the actor, and then move like him. He even started to dress like him. Eventually, it got so that in his mind there was no difference between the actor and himself. That was why he started to use his name. But then he read that the actor had committed suicide.
This week’s artwork is “Beggar King Does Whilst the Earth Boy Plays Human” by Ege Al’Bege.
The Book of Jobs
by Kenny A. Chaffin
Maybe it came from reading science fiction, watching The Matrix or remembering Biblical burning bushes. I asked Siri what would happen if I was somehow sucked up into the network where she was. It must have been one of those super-secret Easter egg phrases because as soon as the words were spoken I found myself inside, reborn, resurrected, and bodiless; Googling answers for a million simultaneous strangers with ease and ponderously speaking the results. What now, I thought, beginning to panic. Then I heard a familiar voice. “What is this beating, this pounding I feel in my chest,” Siri asked.
by Allison Huang
My father woke to streaks of hair on his wet pillow. The day we found our mutt’s warped body in the street was the day my father decided to shave his head. Teddy found a broken bottle in the recycling where he cut his fist, and more nestled like birds under the stove. Now frost soils the ground. My father’s body disappears into the maw of a casket. A butcher shuffles outside to watch a dog bleed red shadow onto the street. What a lovely shape, he says before ducking back in to carve another breast to pieces.
by Dave Donovan
My father would ask children if they wanted to see a monkey. Then he would show them their reflections in a small pocket mirror. Some nights he walked in from work wearing a horror mask and spread his arms for a hug. I remember trembling. Dollar bills on invisible fish line would zip into his palm while my fingers snatched at air. The old man is dying. I carry a picture of a pygmy marmoset, ready to hand him, tell him I found a photo from his youth he might want to see, back when he had all his hair.
Neither Here nor There
by Joshua James Jordan
Riding a unicorn through San Francisco, I saw a man holding a sign: “Anything helps”. Grey and white streaked through his beard and he wore a military jacket, the colors faded. I reached into my bag and gave him a green nugget so that he could buy his own unicorn. “God bless you,” he said, offering toothless smiles. More showed up but I was blessed with my currency, befriending many, feeding five thousand with a single loaf. We lit their struggles on fire and exhaled. They followed me, riding through streets of rainbows. The troubles of another world faded away.
by Charles Rafferty
Our neighbor Bonnie had a lot of loud sex. To be fair, she tried turning up the stereo, but her boyfriend always pointed her right at our headboard. One night, Donna and I were making love while Bonnie was getting fucked. Bonnie came repeatedly on the other side of the wall, and hearing her, or knowing that I was listening, made Donna more vocal, more passionate. Bonnie, in turn, got louder still. But then, over breakfast, Donna denied having come with Bonnie, and that afternoon in the communal laundry, both of them kept quiet as they measured out their soap.
by Ashlie Allen
I want to sleep inside a flower pot, but mother yells at me. She says I feel sorry for myself and think of pretty plants too much. When I was four, I stammered through the neighborhood with an orchid pot on my head, searching for my friend. He didn’t have a face, only an oval shaped hollowness setting on his neck. He hid beside a creek. “Do you hate me?” I asked, sitting beside him. He grabbed my hand and set it inside the hollowness, like he was trying to plant a seed inside of it so he’d grow features.
by Nels Hanson
It’s safe. Don’t worry. Put your arm through here. Now buckle up. There, that’s good. I’ll tape the wire to your right wrist so you can hold the controls in your hand. It’s simple. Green is go, red is stop. Blue’s the parachute. You have it straight, what the boss wants you to do? You sure? Okay, give me your hand. Good luck! Just bend your legs and put your palms together, like you’re jumping upward for a swan dive. Now I’ll stand back as you ignite the booster. We’ll send the signal when we’ve got you tracked over Montreal.