Issue 33 / January 2020

"What is the proper protocol to follow when one meets a ghost? All I knew about spiritual realms came from Twilight Zone re-runs. I’d left those witchcraft books with Aunt Dulcianne. No doubt they held clues as to how to proceed in this type of encounter. Had I read them I would know how to behave."
Taking Liberties by Lyzette Wanzer

Issue 33

Bald is a Feel, Not a Look

Jarrett Neal

Byron shook the rain off his driving cap and wool blazer before he hung them on the rack by the entrance. He handed the chubby lady behind the front desk a twenty-dollar bill. She was honey-colored with glossy yellow fingernails and plump black and gold braids coiled atop her head like a nest of vipers. When she passed him his change and gave him a receipt she said, “That’s for them,” gesturing to the phalanx of barber students several feet away.

Issue 33

Saving Grace

Reyna Marder Gentin

One day, Grace Stevenson stopped coloring her hair. All those hours and all that money spent trying to keep aging at bay, and John had gone off with a younger woman anyway. What was the point? At seventy, she thought the gray made her look refined, worldly. That’s how she wanted to feel. Like she’d arrived at a certain stage in her life where her choices should be respected.
She knew she wasn’t fooling anyone.

Issue 33

Temilola

Doley Henderson

I see her still. Her beaded plaits, flashing smile, bubbling laugh. Temilola. She has five other names but this is the one she prefers. Lola for short.
Toronto, Canada 2019 Floating downstairs after a therapy session, I hold the invisible balloon around me, a hot golden bubble of healing light from my osteo-physio. Pain free for now, I exhale, re-enter the city.

Issue 33

The President’s Garden

Jordan Smith

“It is with some delicacy,” began the note that May had found that morning in the wastebasket in Theo’s study when she went in search of a scrap of paper, that I phrase this apol…” And there the script sputtered and ended. May knew exactly what had happened.

Issue 33

The Tale of Alimona

Margaret Sullivan

There lived a woman Alimona who was called so because her evil husbands had forced her to pay them alimony before they would agree to free her from their miserable reigns. Many, many evil husbands, too many to identify, lest you find her thoughtless or promiscuous, tortured Alimona’s good faith, good heart and good intentions.

Issue 33

The Cave

Ellis Shuman

They say the cave offers a passage to the underworld. In ancient Greek mythology, a musician, poet, and prophet named Orpheus, son of the god Apollo, descended through the cave into the subterranean kingdom of Hades in search of his beloved, Eurydice. There are many versions of this legend and none of them have happy endings.

Issue 33

Neither Here Nor There

Marianna Boncek

Angie pulled her cell phone out of her pocket to check the time. She was late. Actually, she was over an hour late. She had two missed calls both from Harold. He had warned her not to be late.
“You absolutely cannot be late,” was exactly how Harold had phrased it. “There will be press and photographers there. They do not want to wait around for you. Don’t screw this up.”

Issue 33

Easy Does It

Howard Sachs

Easy Ed’s brain was under siege, assaulted by an unidentified buzzing. His nervousness layered mystery onto its origin. He was too high and too edgy to think clearly. Everything was a vibrating blur. What he contemplated doing would either ruin his life or save it. Easy’s corpulent body seemed to shrink as the droning gathered into a whining bolt of shrillness that pierced his ears. The buzzing morphed into the tip of a drill that bored into his brain.

Issue 33

Loma Prieta

Helen Beer

October 17, 1989. 5:04 P.M. I’d just left the Moscone Convention Center with my colleague, Jacqueline. We were exhibiting at a conference on water pollution and had just settled into our seats on one of the buses shuttling exhibitors and attendees to their hotels for the evening. And then it struck. For fifteen seconds it felt like a carnival whirlybird ride.
The windows in the buildings around us seemed to breathe in and out, until, released from their frames, these great panes exploded, showering fragments of glass, glittering in the traffic’s lights.

Issue 33

I Am a Stalwart: Part Two

David Kennedy

There was shouting along the banks of the East River, but Arthur could not quite make it out.
He stood upon the deck of the Saint John, the steamboat that he and Conkling had caught very early that morning, and peered across the morning fog that now was lifting from the waters of that tributary that shot north from New York Harbor, cleft the island of Manhattan from the cities of Brooklyn and Queens, swept heedlessly through the sharp breaks at Spuyten Duyvil, then rushed into the great Hudson River and ran up to Albany. But the return of Conkling and Platt to Albany had proven less triumphant than anticipated.

Issue 33

Hashish and Mother Goose

Jeanne Wilkinson

Val has received a Christmas gift from the old lady of one of his clients: some hash brownies. Hashish is from the cannabis plant but purified and intensified, with a pungent, soil-like flavor that doesn’t do much for the brownies but chocolate and sugar make the hash itself somewhat palatable. I’ve smoked it before – since it’s not from a test tube, it’s on my okay list. Val gets it in a compressed form and sometimes sprinkles it in a joint. I’m not too excited about eating it, but I’ll do it. I’m on the magic bus; might as well go with the traffic. Within reason, of course. Within my code.

Issue 33

Francisco’s Tower

Paul Crehan

Sometime in the pre-dawn hours, outside of a Mexican village called the Three Sisters, a teenage boy had climbed to the top of a 500-foot-high transmission tower.
To us in the new day, our faces skyward, he looked like a tiny hovering angel, his gaze directed over the mountains of the Three Sisters, from which the village drew its name. He was oblivious to the shouts of his people so far below, in whose midst I stood.
Then suddenly as we watched, he dropped from the sky, and nearing earth, he took on flesh, while losing it, too, as the sheer-sided struts sliced through the falling body.

Issue 33

Taking Liberties

Lyzette Wanzer

They are such nice clothes.
But how can I wear them, in light of how they’ve come to me?
With an exuberant air, Dulcianne presented me with two large trash bags. She was my aunt, but for as long as I could recall, always only Dulcianne.
“Her family left all of these behind,” she said.
Then: “They took only the jewelry and the furniture.”
And then: “I think they might be ‘bout your size.”
I accepted the bags with splayed fingertips. They’d been sitting in one of the sixth-floor apartment rooms with, I understood, two polished bookshelves and a dead body.

Issue 33

Going to the CD

Stan Werlin

It’s April 1963, the snow is mostly melted, the ice is gone from the sidewalks, and we’re streaking, we’re flying, we’re absolutely airborne on our bikes as we race to the center of town. Flash has a sleek new racer, one of those Schwinns, accented bright blue on the frame and handlebar. He’s hunched over in an aerodynamic crouch, so low you can’t see his eyes. The rest of us – Ziti, Rando, myself – we’re green with envy, so jealous we can’t see straight, but it doesn’t matter, not really; we know sooner or later our parents will give in and we’ll all get one.