This week’s artwork is “Potentially Unsettling if Made into a Wallpaper” by Connor Fieweger.
Too Much of a Good Thing
by Jackson Freud
They were eating pizza on the couch when she asked him.
“Do you still find me attractive?” she said.
Robbie chewed his mouthful of cheese and salami, taking care not to swallow it too soon lest he be forced to answer the question.
He wiped his fingers on a grease-stained napkin, drained his beer and turned up the volume on the television. She yanked the remote from his hand and said, “Babe?”
He sighed. “Too much cheese. Why do you always have to order extra fucking cheese?”
by L.L. Madrid
Mother said Broden pulled my hair because he liked me. She said that if I just ignored him he’d lose interest. By late summer, the neighborhood children ran feral. They leered as Broden pushed me to the ground, pinning my arms with his knees. The sun burned in the cloudless sky but I didn’t dare close my eyes. One dirty hand squeezed, forcing my mouth open. The other pinched a fat, oozing slug. Grim-faced, Broden shoved the slimy creature deep inside me, mollusk skin scraping off against my teeth. The other children cheered. I suppose they liked me too.
by Andrew Bertaina
Across town my wife is on a date with another man. And here I am, like a flower, gathering light in the window and thinking of her. And just imagine that as she reaches for her coffee, or suddenly takes his hand; imagine if she just as suddenly thinks of me, the two of us miles away, lonely for one another.
by Jareb Collins
“Death is the gentle passage from the horrors of this life to the blessings of the next.”
At least, that’s what Reverend Tommy always said.
Poetic, I used to think.
Far be it from me to argue with a man of the cloth – seemed like bad karma. But as cyanide slowly burned a hole in my gut, I couldn’t help but feel like I was stuck in a frozen boxcar hurtling down a rusty track. I shivered violently, a bloody froth bubbling from my lips. The world began to fade; I almost regretted escaping the eternal flames.
Death was cold.
by Brett Blocker
The thrill of paper targets was short-lived. Same with the cans on the fence post. He’d graduated to birds now, and the feeder proved an inexhaustible supply. Every day after school he fed the pile. Swallows, chickadees, robins, it made no difference; their beaks all shattered as fragile things against the steel bb. Some lay where they fell. Cats carried away the others. In time, the yard fell silent, distant branches found new use, and animals flicked their tongues in defiance.
This week’s artwork is “Blue” by G.J. Mintz
by McKenzie Schwark
The sun floods through the doors and washes the train car in amber. He enters with his hair tucked neatly into a grey beanie; his beard auburn and misshapen. He settles into the seat across from me and becomes a silhouette against the mid afternoon sun. I could imagine loving him for a lifetime full of Thursday mornings and red-headed babies. I bless myself for snoozing my alarm and missing my train. He is looking at me. He shifts. We are watching each other and smiling coyly back and forth. He exits downtown, dissipating between State and Lake.
Ship of Fools
by Paul Rogalus
Red-headed drunk guy in a Red Sox hat on the “Ship of Fools” harbor booze cruise gives his “girlfriend” his ATM card, and she tries it at the bank machine fifteen feet away. “Mike, it doesn’t work,” she calls. He smiles stupidly and shrugs, and she uses her card. She turns around with cash, and he asks her for a Sam Adams Summer Ale. She gives him the finger and goes upstairs to dance to “Sugar Magnolia.”
by Jackson Freud
Jason photographs the dead. He keeps a police scanner in his apartment, races the cops, coroners and paramedics to crime scenes. He has photographed jumper-suicides, murdered men and women, car crash victims. The pictures are tacked to a corkboard in his kitchen. “This is sick,” Sam says. She moves out, leaves Jason with his dead friends. He doesn’t mind though; he enjoys the silence. One morning he snaps a faceless man, pins the Polaroid to his board. He studies it for minutes, hours, days. He discovers a lump on his testicle and prays the next vulture captures his good side.
by Hasen Hull
Approached her in the usual club and started with the usual line. We’re both young and beautiful; we talked about ourselves and pop music. To seal the deal, I made her laugh, entertained her like a child. If we were in another world, we could find a hotel with a vacancy. Instead we’re back at mine, loud and lurid as we screw, two strangers at the peak of liberation. After, she gets up and uses the bathroom. Through the wall, I can hear her pissing. It’s the only noise I’ve heard all night I can relate to.
On the Detroit-to-Chicago Line
by Brent Fisk
My uncle, a brakeman for Amtrak who lost a son himself, told this story many times: A young man walking, his back to the train. Between cities at speed, it could take them a mile before they could stop. No horn could make him look back, step off. Firemen cut a path through the trees so they could wash what was left of the man free of the grill. My uncle split a bottle of bourbon with my dad, and he’d wink when he’d notice me listening behind the couch, say, “Get your uncle a few more cubes of ice.”