November 24, 2021

An Excerpt and News from Mbizo Chirasha

An Excerpt and News from Mbizo Chirasha

Editor’s Note: Mbizo Chirasha is The Fictional Café’s Poet-in-Residence. We have featured his work for two years now and are closing in on the end of his term. You may have noticed that we have featured less of his work this year, which, we are sad to say, is because Mbizo has been fleeing his home in Zimbabwe and trying to find asylum in another country. Due to his criticism of African politics and corruption in his writing, he has frequently been a target of violence from his government. We have partnered with a few organizations to help him find a safe place to live and write, but he continues to meet challenges. Mbizo has recently published a new book, which we announced earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from his book, called, “Along…

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November 22, 2021

“Professor Crow,” A Short Story by Salvatore Difalco

“Professor Crow,” A Short Story by Salvatore Difalco

Things were a little hazy. I had resurfaced after an entire year. I knew it would take time to get my legs underneath me, and not enough of it had passed yet. Not by a long shot. Nevertheless there I stood, out in the world again. How much had it changed? How much had people changed? Had anything changed at all? I’d soon find out. The red floor was sticky. When I lifted my heel you could hear it.   I looked around the dimly lit tavern. Sparse crowd, folks still wary, or paranoid. We might still be doomed. We were doomed. Likely somewhere in that spectrum, not forgetting our recent ineptitude and iniquities as well as our successes. Dudes reeking of ganja wheeled about the place with bleeding eyes and slobbery mouths. The bald endomorphic bouncer, in a black turtleneck with a large gold crucifix hanging between his pectorals, stood by the door keeping six on them like an elephant with…

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November 18, 2021

“Once Upon a Dog,” A Short Story by Bob Calverley

“Once Upon a Dog,” A Short Story by Bob Calverley

One day Chief Warrant Officer Walters of the 99th Assault Helicopter Company would complain that the Tet Offensive began a month early for him. But on New Year’s Day, 1968, the company’s gun platoon, known as the Headhunters, was still basking in a lull that had begun a couple of weeks before Christmas. No one had been killed or wounded. Not a single rocket or mortar had exploded in Nui Binh Base Camp. Only one helicopter had been hit by ground fire. On New Year’s, the Headhunters returned to the base camp shortly before lunch after a long-planned combat assault was called off. Then they were given a rare afternoon off. Led by Walters, the gunship pilots decided to visit a Filipino engineering battalion stationed in Nui Binh. After lunch, most of the Headhunter enlisted…

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November 15, 2021

“Heather, Ludwig and Nathaniel,” An Excerpt by Derrick R. Lafayette

“Heather, Ludwig and Nathaniel,” An Excerpt by Derrick R. Lafayette

LUDWIG I was surprised she’d read the first chapter. My tutor usually found small detours in any narrative I put forth. It reminded me of looking at a sheet through a magnifying glass, judging the components that hold it together. Inside my glasses were three strands of hair, dust, and a fingerprint, yet, I blinked away the annoyance and kept going. When I finally finished chapter two, I emailed my document to her. She unearthed a cellphone twice the size of her hand, stuck her face into the screen, and scrolled with her pinky. “Do you know what a journeyman is?” the tutor asked slyly, leaving a hum of arrogance in the question. “A nomad?” I responded, unsure. “Ah, but you do know what failure is?” “A worker or sports player who is reliable but…

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November 8, 2021

“Orphan Smile,” The Poetry of Gopal Lahiri

“Orphan Smile,” The Poetry of Gopal Lahiri

Orphan Smile    How hard it is for the stars to weave a story.    It breaks through the wall and chain,  and then in turn, with eyes closed.    Words filter into dark rooms,  unnoticeably, to the tune of the evening.    It is not unexpected, nor is it striped,  wood pencils sketch grey and grey sky.    Each strum is a haze that thins and fades,  the one who sings with all the heart  for a while, is now trapped in the web of memory.    Each mirror reflects the orphan smile,  what remains is the rising smoke of the pyres.      Ancient Palms    We must learn to read, to hold them ever  among the corn fields of the golden year.    Before our eyes, the deep unique shadows  take me up…

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November 4, 2021

“24/7,” A Short Story by Sharon L. Dean

“24/7,” A Short Story by Sharon L. Dean

A fog hovers over Market Street, catching the pungent salt air. I inhale deeply as I slip the keycard into the slot and punch in the extra security code. By mid-morning, the chill of New Hampshire’s early morning spring will warm to 70 degrees. Right now I could use a jacket over my sweatshirt. Inside feels warm, though I know the temperature is set for 60 degrees.   The lights on the security cameras glow. On the far wall, the clock reads 4:05. Its face and hands are large, easy to read from any part of the room even by the people who take off their glasses to exercise.  All around, posters clutter the legal-pad yellow walls. Bright images of bright runners and skiers and swimmers, the swimmers posed cleverly in front of the rowing machine. The place reeks…

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October 27, 2021

“Bleb,” A Poetry Excerpt by Sanjeev Sethi

“Bleb,” A Poetry Excerpt by Sanjeev Sethi

Medic     As casual as strolling on a graveled pathway   in a close-by parkland, words cycle towards   me on my inner track where ideas lap dance  with a tumescent dash. The first draft is born.   This baby needs a battery of nurses and   other paraphernalia. I’m the doc on duty.   Summon the accoucheur for stillborns.       Memento Mori    Campestral locales furnish   the song and dance routine   with a context. Ill-lighted   rooms caution me of you.   When their consciousness   darkles, I am snug as a bug.   Why does sadness complect   my cheeriness? Is alertness   a curse?        Nonfiction    Google and other griefs  chase my working hours.  Nights are cut out for  graphology. In temple of  needs my pelage seeks   your petting. My god   it seems is huffy.      Fair Play    The…

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October 21, 2021

“The Star,” A Short Story by Jovan Ivančević

“The Star,” A Short Story by Jovan Ivančević

Yes I’m alive. It is a surprise for me as well as for you. I’m about to receive yet another reward. This time it is an accomplishment for my entire work. I feel ecstatic, fantastic but a little bit sad. I am going inside, but before doing so, I will look up to at the beautiful night sky. I always do that, wondering the names of the stars so far away. There wasn’t enough time for me to learn their names. The feeling of loneliness follows me, lingers, if not in me then around, always in close vicinity of my being. You might sense why it is like that, particularly those of you who have walked the same path as me. It is here, less than a cubit away, sometimes even closer, going up the spine, lurking in…

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October 19, 2021

“Professor Walker’s Leap of Faith,” by Robert Pope

“Professor Walker’s Leap of Faith,” by Robert Pope

This all began one lovely day in May as I walked the flowering roadways of Akron, Ohio. On the sidewalk of Portage Path, a street named after Native American lore from the local past, heading toward Market, which runs through the heart of our small-town city, I saw what looked like an enormous chicken coming toward me. My mind told me it could not be a chicken that large, at least the size of a man, so I took my glasses from my shirt pocket thinking it must be a man dressed for a costume party or some sort of promotional advertisement. With my glasses on, the chicken idea faded away. A powerful-looking man came toward me, yet the sensation of having seen feathers coming off him remained, putting my mind in a quandary as…

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October 13, 2021

“The Life of a Private Eye,” by Michael Larrain

“The Life of a Private Eye,” by Michael Larrain

The Life of a Private Eye, Part 4, Zounds! Once there was a man who didn’t flirt with his nurse.Once there was a wife who let her husband slide.Once there was a day when nothing bad happened to anyone,a day that had slipped god’s mind. It might have gone unnoticed,had not the Creator of the Universe hired me to look into it.I figured god could afford it, so I charged twice my usual rates,plus expenses. I began with a vague recollection ofbelieving all would be well on the day in question, the feelingthat I was on a roll, even as I was sitting still. It had fallen onmy mother’s birthday. I couldn’t call her. She had departed when I was a boy.So I settled for laughing at how she’d loved telling risqué jokes and stories.Then…

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