Issue 27 / July 2019
"Breathless, the resplendent tale of coral castles
and starfish courtiers flowed from me as a tidal wave.
My father only shook his head.
He did not notice when a splendorous golden fin
broke the surface and waved goodbye.
You think this is a metaphor, but you are wrong."
- “She Swims Like a Fish” by Marlee Abbott

Issue 27

What I Learned Teaching Literature Inside

Jennifer Sapio

It is the opposite of ironic to teach Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment inside the Travis County Correctional Complex. It is apropos, apt, appropriate. Perhaps too on the nose. TCCC houses pre-trial and county inmates in a 130-acre facility just east of the Austin-Bergstrom Airport. Pay attention during take off and landing next time you fly into town for SXSW or ACL, and you’ll be able to see the barbed wire.

Issue 27

To Love

H. C. Phillips

Professor Victor Miles, head of the Department of Future Insight at a highly prestigious institution, was to dine with one of his favourite ex-pupils on one particular spring evening.
Carl Werner arrived on the stroke of seven, ever punctual.

Issue 27

The Woodcutter and the Angel

Esther Ra

Last fall, in my first semester of college, I wrote a collection of poetry. It was a series of poems revolving around an ancient Korean fairytale about a woodcutter and his wife. The original story goes like this. When a poor woodcutter saves a fleeing deer from a hunter, the deer tells him a secret in return: there is a magical spring where seonnyeo (the traditional Korean equivalent for angels) come down to bathe. If you steal one of their winged robes, she will be unable to return to the heavens and therefore become your wife.

Issue 27

The Trickster of Mentor, Part I

David Kennedy

It was in a mood of intense irritation that Senator Roscoe Conkling arrived in Chicago. Chet Arthur had been sent out in advance, his bulk trundled into a railway carriage like an overstuffed suitcase along with Thomas Platt, but Conkling had little expectation that Arthur would perform any more competently than he had in ’seventy-six...

Issue 27

The Green Bike

Nick Gallup

Benny had forgotten about signing up for a job to deliver newspapers. It’d been two years, but that was evidently how long a kid had to wait to get a paper route. It was one of the few jobs reserved for kids. The routes didn’t pay much more than $15 a week, which was too low for grown-ups but high enough that every kid on Point Cadet wanted one.

Issue 27

The Good Samaritan

Jo-Anne Rosen

The five children were waiting for their mother to come out of the Amerikanische Packetfuhrt ticketing office. They sat on a bench in birth order, the two girls first in white pinafores over high-collared navy-blue smocks; the three boys in navy and white sailor suits. Their luggage was stowed under the bench.
Sora had been left in charge of her younger siblings. She leaned forward, gripping the basket on her lap that held their provisions as if it were a life jacket and she, already at sea.

Issue 27

The Exorcism

Willow Barnosky

So there was a man named Ed, and I really liked him at first. I thought he had an interesting life story, although I didn’t know all the details. I knew all that I cared to know, all of the essentials, but when I tried to tell other people about Ed, they had the tiresome tendency to ask for more information: “Oh, but how’d he meet his wife?” or “Why doesn’t he have any children?” or, even more exasperatingly, “What kind of car does he drive?”

Issue 27

The DeDramafi

Jhon Sanchez

I grabbed Alberto’s wrist and explained to him the difference between the DeDramafi and a watch: “The orange bar indicates that your body is acting abnormally.” I told him that the DeDramafi helps us deal with the drama queens.
He didn’t believe me, even though his arms looked as if they’d been stung by a jellyfish.

Issue 27

The Binding of Isaac

Iulia Calota

I remember the bottles. And the flacons. And the blister packs. All neatly lined up on the kitchen counter. I remember her taking a handful of her strongest tablets just before bed and, within minutes, her eyes droopy, mouth like rubber, voice distorted, like a slowed-down turnstile. It was during those few moments of seeing my mother changing from a normal person to a toy that had run out of batteries that I recognised something I wished I could forget.

Issue 27

Our Soldier of Fortune

Kirk Combe

Cleve Clucus was high mountain people before he came to live with us. Not trappers or recluses or nothing odd like that, but high range people in the Sawtooth, over by the Salmon River. Kin. Part of our clan families around Arco. Clucuses, Combes, Barlows, Gordiols. All Swiss that hadn’t wanted to be in the Italians’ war.

Issue 27

Mugwah, The Winged Tortoise of Love

Steve Young

The last time she saw Tommy Greene was in a laundromat in downtown Essex Junction, where he gave her $180 in cash in a plain white envelope. She drove her car in to meet him through a cold, drenching, late-winter downpour. The grayness and the raw, chill rain had infected the little college town that morning like a virus; the streets and sidewalks were waterlogged, the storm drains overflowing, the stores and cafes, with their pale-yellow beacons of light, lost and abandoned in the torrent.

Issue 27

La Chica Dura

Darius Powell

It wasn’t until she felt the snap, crackle, and pop in her knee that Melany Reyes knew this part of her life was over. Under normal circumstances she would never tap out but this was different.
Even though the outside world regarded her as an overnight success who had come out of nowhere, Melany knew it was a matter of fact. She knew all along she’d be an awesome MMA fighter and had proven her point.

Issue 27

He Crossed the Line

William Hubbartt

I packed up the Tacoma, figuring on a five-day round trip down to Georgia. I researched planned stops, and figured that rural Georgia was more likely to have gravel back roads with higher hills and deeper valleys than the flat country blacktop roads that were fairly common in the northern Midwest, my stomping grounds.

Issue 27

Fear of Flying After Erica Jong

Loren Stephens

I was thirty-one, a mother with a one-year-old son, and a marriage on the rocks. It would take two more years before we filed for divorce, but in the meantime, I was the sole breadwinner, my husband having taken a flyer on producing Broadway theater when the company he worked for downsized and I was six months pregnant. At some point, I told him he should get a job as a taxicab driver to contribute to the household, but he didn’t take too kindly to that suggestion. No surprise, but I was sufficiently exhausted and angry that I had no filter.

Issue 27

Box of Rain

Bobby Wilson

All Tobias could do was thank HaShem over and over again that he had made it to the train station on time and that they were now on the train; the former because of what his wife would have said to him and the latter because now that they were on the train she wouldn’t be able to level criticisms of any kind at him in such close quarters.
He loved Hannah, she was a lovely woman, but the nagging sometimes, it was a bit much. And it didn’t seem to be waning in frequency or potency as the years went by

Issue 27

A Friend Until the End

Sandra Schmidtke

Arthur Millman wears the shadow of his mortality like a shroud, and I know that our time together will be brief but profitable. I give this commitment two months, tops.
Grey wisps of hair do nothing to conceal the marigold tinge of jaundice on Arthur’s scalp. Glee bubbles up in my heart. Pancreatic cancer is a hard-hearted mistress, and she has had her way with this thin, nervous man. While my latest client reviews the contract, I count backward.

Issue 27

“Safe” Spaces

Natasha O'Brien

‘But Mummy…’ Lukas tugged at my sleeve, protesting. ‘It’s not bedtime, look!’ He pointed out the window at the sunlit peaks topping over the valley. ‘The sun’s still up!’
‘That’s because the sun stays up later in the summer.’ I guided Lukas towards his small bed in the corner of our living room. He usually slept in his own bedroom, but I felt safer if we all stayed together.