May 28, 2020

“Mutt and Jeff,” A Short Story by Robert Pope

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“Mutt and Jeff,” A Short Story by Robert Pope

Friends who knew us back in the day called us Mutt and Jeff. We had buddy tattoos on our biceps, cartoon characters: Jeff tall in an orange striped suit and fedora, with a mustache like mine, Mutt short, with mutton chops, dark suit and top hat. I never told Tina, my second wife, why I had the tattoo because I got into bad habits with Mick a year into my first marriage. I wanted him nowhere near me and Tina, until the bad times hit.   We had funny hours, Tina and I. She sold real estate, I worked from home, free-lancing web sites, buying and selling, investing. We made decent money, unpredictable, sure, but we talked about having a kid. That dropped off when things cooled in the bedroom. One Saturday, I drove by an open house to say hello when I saw her on the porch, talking with a younger guy in dark slacks, blue shirt. He had dark hair, styled, real regular white teeth.     I put it out of my mind overnight. We had a nice dinner, and off she went…

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May 26, 2020

“Bleeding Hearts,” A Short Story by Mary Daurio

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“Bleeding Hearts,” A Short Story by Mary Daurio

Sarah left early, taking her stepson Jacob to see his mother for perhaps the last time. * Upon awakening, John found his wife and son already gone, too late to rescind his permission from the night before. He was upset, not at her, but at himself. John knew how exaggerated his reaction to casual contact with Anne was, yet he remained afraid of his ex-wife’s illness. He prepared for work, swearing as he cut himself shaving in haste. The front door slammed behind him and the windows vibrated, but there was no one to witness his wrath, save the blackbirds flying off in raucous chorus. John wanted to scream but felt afraid he wouldn’t stop. He turned the corner to the newsstand. Force of habit. A byline about Liz Taylor’s celebrity fundraiser for AIDS caught…

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May 20, 2020

“Lester and the Mysteries of Wax and Wane,” by Derrick Lafayette

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“Lester and the Mysteries of Wax and Wane,” by Derrick Lafayette

Lester, for all intents and purposes, was walking his dog down a familiar trail at 8:21 pm. The first block was uneventful. The dog peed where he’d always peed millions of times before. Shat where he’d always shat before. Lester readied his green, eco-friendly poop bag, bent down with ease, and collected his pet’s droppings. At 8:35pm, Lester and his dog about-faced and were heading home when a giant flash of light enveloped the sky. He saw nothing but white, and his dog was an inverted shadow, blurring in his vision. When Lester was able to see again, all of the familiar surroundings took an interesting turn. A man whose feet never touched the ground, shrouded in orange garb with mandala designs, appeared before him. The man stretched his arm, opened his hand, and inside…

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May 17, 2020

“The Kaiser of the Immaterial Kingdom,” by Ewa Mazierska

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“The Kaiser of the Immaterial Kingdom,” by Ewa Mazierska

It was late afternoon in late January. I was sitting on my own in a compartment of a Berlin–Warsaw train. There was only two or three minutes until its departure, and I assumed that I would have the compartment to myself when this guy came in. He didn’t say hello or ask if the remaining seats were free, as it was customary on the Polish trains, just took his seat near the door and put his small rucksack and two shopping bags on a shelf above him. Although his behaviour was verging on being rude, I felt instant sympathy for him, in part because behind his actions I sensed a desire to be invisible rather than rudeness and in part on the account of his similarity to my old friend from university, with whom the…

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May 11, 2020

“The Party,” A Short Story by William Torphy

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“The Party,” A Short Story by William Torphy

Image: “He Said, She Said” (c) Katheryn Holt, www.kholt.com The Party It was the architect and the gun moll who captured my attention. The party was a casual industry event held in the Hollywood Hills at the home of a producer, one in fact who had bankrolled a film I’d worked on once, though all my ideas for it were rejected in favor of chase scenes and revenge murders. I was a screenwriter who had yet to see any credits on screen. I hadn’t worked for over a year and needed to hustle a project, any project, very soon.    I was out of sorts when I arrived since my wife Jen announced at the last minute that she needed some quiet ‘me-time’ that evening. She did, however, take time to dress me for the affair. Tight black jeans that were squeezing my balls. A fifty-dollar T-shirt a size too small that cut into my underarms. A tailored green cashmere sport coat that made me look like a string bean.   I’d been invited through a friend of a friend of a colleague, someone I’d never met but hoped…

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May 5, 2020

“Window Shopping,” A Short Story by Brian Wryter

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“Window Shopping,” A Short Story by Brian Wryter

The sun was not bright like the day before. It was a gentle and calm sun. Clouds covered it and made it calm and gentle, but still the light from it gave the time the meaning of morning. The man woke up and brushed his teeth. He looked at himself in the mirror and felt deep shame. A kind of shame that made him not want to look in the mirror anymore. He put on his jeans and a white t-shirt that had a stain on the left shoulder from the pasta he ate the night before. The man didn’t look at the time and went outside his mother’s house. He didn’t say where he was going to his mother and two sisters. His sisters were in the lounge watching something that had a lot…

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April 29, 2020

“A Very Vulnerable Place,” by Alexander Kemp

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“A Very Vulnerable Place,” by Alexander Kemp

“You’re neither in Heaven nor Hell.” “Is this Purgatory?” The Old Man sighed. “Some call it that.” I looked around the modest cottage. The only furniture present was a wooden cross on the wall. Heat arose from the fireplace. The windows had thick black bars. “Have I been here before?” I asked. The Old Man pointed to the brown door. “Put your ear to it and listen.” Rushing over to the door, the knob vanished as I reached for it. I put my ear to the wood. No sound. “Close your eyes,” The Old Man instructed. * My elderly father pounded the table. “His eyes twitched. They opened. I’m serious, doctor.” “This has to be God bringing him back,” my frantic mother explained. Dr. North held his hands up. He said, “Eyes twitch. This happens…

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April 23, 2020

“Of Dark Energy,” A Short Story by G. D. McFetridge

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“Of Dark Energy,” A Short Story by G. D. McFetridge

Something about the old man seemed unpredictable—motives hidden behind the vacuous glimmer in his eyes, the way he stroked his long gray beard, his thunderous laugh—and he had told the same story for years. His only son, Lukas, when he was a senior in high school had survived a car accident that killed three people. The other driver was drunk, and he and his wife died instantly. Her nephew died two days later. But young Luke walked away with cuts and a few fractured ribs.  The old man always said, “My boy was born just plain lucky.” Many years later after his father died of lymphoma, Luke thought it prudent to get a thorough medical examination, and everything seemed fine until the doctor telephoned to discuss the lab reports. He didn’t go into specifics but…

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April 9, 2020

“Review for a Canvas Fanny Pack,” by Kerry Langan

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“Review for a Canvas Fanny Pack,” by Kerry Langan

Heading for Review:  Big Mistake  Reviewer Name: SheWhoIsDisappointedandIsGoingtoTellYouHowMuch   I gave this fanny pack one star because there was no option to give it no stars. If you try to leave the 5-star graphic blank, it won’t let you go to the box where you’re supposed to leave the actual review. So, just know that I gave this one star but it should be no stars. Zilch.  First of all, I ordered an apple green fanny pack from HikeBike.com when they were running that sale a couple weeks ago. Apple green, like the color of grass in July and my favorite sweater and, well, green apples! In the photo they ran during the sale, the fanny pack looks like it would match a Granny Smith. I love apple green. If you opened my closet door, you’d see that almost everything is green. Kevin, my ex, told me once that green was a great color with my brown…

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March 29, 2020

“Crimson,” A Short Story by Zach Lattman

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“Crimson,” A Short Story by Zach Lattman

Ester hated that dress. But it was the only thing she had for tonight. Since graduating law school, she, and four other classmates would get together once a month. Supposedly, they were all such great friends, and they didn’t want graduation to pull them apart. But to Ester, it felt fake—almost coerced. It felt more like preemptive networking; everyone was keeping tabs on each other in case they needed a favor down the road. Ester never voiced that concern to anyone. Surely, it was all in her head, she told herself. But still, in her more cynical, or rather, her more honest moments, she doubted everyone’s authenticity—even her own.  She leaned back against the living room wall and stared out the window into the late-spring evening. Chicago looked beautiful at night. From Ginny’s 21st-floor condo, it looked like…

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