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Hickenlooper’s Imaginary Republic

In June 2024 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

Mariana Rodriguez Salazar thought George Hickenlooper was being foolhardy and perhaps delusional when he told her he had decided to issue a public proclamation the next day in Managua’s central plaza and that he intended to send copies to be posted in the capitals of all the other Central American republics. As he read it to her, Mariana was sure her little dwarf was laying the groundwork for his own death.

“GEORGE HICKENLOOPER THE GREAT FILIBUSTER HEREBY ANNOUNCES THAT HE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF CENTRAL AMERICA, ALSO KNOWN AS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF CENTRAL AMERICA…”

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Discovery

In May 2024 Issue by Peter Hoppock

Todd—I have looked over the latest materials the DA sent you. You must be desperate! Are you sure this is everything? As you know, I scoured the depositions and interrogatories last week, and Phil has my report on those. Did you guys even talk to each other? How are you planning to defend Mrs. Bierman?

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A Week at Work

In May 2024 Issue by Quin Yen

The last week of July in 2009 is the craziest week that Dr. Wu has had since she became a Rehab physician fifteen years ago.
Dr. Wu moved from the Midwest to the Northeast in early July, and thus far, her transition to the new hospital has been smooth. At the age of fifty, she is proud of her adaptability.

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Parable of the Persistent Widow

In May 2024 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

When Carlito’s son suffocated to death in the back seat of his father’s brand-new Mercedes SUV, Caridad García felt all her suspicions had been confirmed. Maybe her son’s sudden fame and fortune were not a blessing but a curse. Everything had happened so quickly since the release of Carlito’s single “Love a la Cubana,” a song sung in English to a salsa beat.

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Quantitative Unease

In May 2024 Issue by Daniel Bartkowiak

3.2.2_
Hi. My name = Aioli McCoy. And, first things first, I think this is stupid. And by this, I mean you. Diary. Journal. Thingamajig. Honestly? I’m only writing to make Pauleen (wife) happy. Due to, earlier, when I came home from work, she sat me down, put on serious face like she had big news to share, then handed me this black moleskin.

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Other Plans

In April 2024 Issue by Gerald Lynch

In my room at my desk, I startle at the front door’s metallic cracking shut. It’s Monday and she’s left for work, the workaday routine of teaching high-school Biology. Without a goodbye, which she trills when happy, calls expectantly when fairly content, speaks normally when resigned to the daily grind.

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Tom’s Diner

In April 2024 Issue by Alice Baburek

Kit Bardot packed her SUV and headed out of the windy city of Chicago. She needed this break—this mini-vacation. She had planned her own way along the infamous Route 66. How far would she go? It didn’t matter. She had told her boss she was taking a much-needed leave of absence.

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¡Viva Cristo Rey!

In April 2024 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

The two brothers did not sleep that cold September night, for they knew in the morning they would both face the firing squad. One would be executed for having assassinated President-elect Alvaro Obregón, the other simply for being a priest.

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Baptism of Blood

In March 2024 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

Death appeared in the town of Markowa in March of 1942, and Aleksander and Julia both saw her at the same time. From a distance, she looked like a beautiful woman, a lovely Aryan maiden, but the closer she came to them the uglier and uglier she became.

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The Feminine Brigades of Saint Joan of Arc

In January 2024 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

The two Cristeros were sitting at the Abajeño Cantina in central Guadalajara after having spent several months in the mountains of Jalisco waging war against the military forces of the anticlerical President Plutarco Elías Calles.

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The Ecstasies of Adalenie Santaliz

In January 2024 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

Now that she is gone – meningitis in a Brazilian convent – perhaps it will be easier to put everything into perspective. Perhaps now I can figure out what I never fully understood while she was alive.

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Medicine

In October 2023 Issue by Derek La Shot

“Crazy weather we’ve been having,” an old woman said as she creaked her way forward to a row of chairs in the pharmacy, something in her knees snapping softly as she sighed and sat into the chair next to a man in early middle age, looking reflectively at his cell phone.

The man called “Cuch,” which was short for Cuchullin (his Irish mother had a thing for ancient epics), had saggy, red eyes like he’d been crying. Was this why she was making small talk? Normally the man would have dismissed trivial attempts to occupy time while waiting for a prescription with a clipped yep, but today something compelled him to reach out.

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A Workplace

In September 2023 Issue by Quin Yen

“A workplace is like a family, a home,” Megan says aloud as she faces her computer. She is thinking about the eight hours that people spend together at work, which is more than the time they spend awake at home.
It makes sense. Some even say it’s like an arranged marriage. Like it or not, you have to work with people, unrelated to you, hour after hour, day after day, and year after year.
Megan has worked in the Rehab Department for almost thirty-eight years. That is a long time.

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Bobtail Five

In August 2023 Issue by Mark Wagstaff

Snow, but not yet. Clouds built across the sky, ahead of a raw east wind like smoke from encroaching fires. Pavements and walls, brick and stone, scornful of fragile bodies. He moved quickly, thinking a day ahead when streets would freeze, when snow would lay and, bound with anxiety, each careless step invited damage.
He walked opposite to the way home. South across Euston Road, by the spot where the hospital Christmas tree stood just a week ago. A few decorations still pinned in the emergency room. A half-deflated balloon. He cut through the muffled crowd at Warren Street station. Cut across their flow, fixed straight ahead, walking fast to make people falter. A small pleasure.

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Priestess, Traitor, Enemy, Saint

In Issue 75 by Sandro F. Piedrahita

Comrade Juana understood Comrade Bárbara’s belief that Sister Rosemarie McKillop, the diminutive nun from Perth, Australia, posed a great threat to the success of the Shining Path. Like many priests and nuns, like many human rights organizations, like the democratic left, Sister Rosemarie offered the destitute masses of Perú an alternative to the armed struggle. She preached that the marginalized campesinos could achieve justice through peaceful methods and even distributed food to the poor from “imperialist” charitable organizations like Caritas. Such conduct had to be quashed, for such groups were inimical to the revolution.

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River Soot

In Issue 74 by K. Meera

I had wanted a dog. Preferably a small one, with a spot over its eye so I could’ve called it “Spot” without anyone questioning the name. Then, when I finally went to middle school in the fall, I’d have secured my place in the classroom. Now, though, I would settle for a dog that had no spots on it at all, as long as it was a dog. I looked down at the bag in my hand, the water-filled plastic straining with the weight of its contents, like Jimmy’s mom’s belly before she went to the hospital so she could have the baby that was growing inside her. Jimmy says he preferred her big belly because his brother cried too much, and I’d agreed with him, but that was before.

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Five Interviews

In Issue 73 by David Martin Anderson

When did I begin to feel so miserably old? Ah, yes. It was exactly one year, three months, and fifteen days ago. It started when I turned eighty years of age, and every muscle and body joint ignited in excruciating pain. It was the moment rheumatoid arthritis began our one-sided courtship. “What won’t hurt today, Satan?” I shout at the top of my lungs each and every morning, defiantly shaking my fist at the devil’s netherworld.

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The Stone Keeper

In Issue 72 by Ben Raterman

When the night sky exploded, the dark interiors of houses shone bright as day. And those that faced the street across from the park felt their homes tremble. Fierce chords of destruction echoed, and the neighborhood awoke with fright and stared at horror.
Caitlin sat up. Intermittent flashes lit the walls. Sounds: falling bricks, breaking glass, muted screams, explosions. She went to the window. Fires, as if dragons had entered her world, she thought, come to destroy her home.

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Sugar

In Issue 71 by Priscilla Thompson

It was the perfect day—until the fat neighbor ruined it.

Emily had just returned from a thirteen-mile jog and was sitting in her rocking chair by the window, thinking about what she might—or might not—eat. She imagined placing a chicken breast on a bed of lettuce with cherry tomatoes and perhaps a slice of the avocado lying on the window sill, so perfectly ripe from the sun. Or, perhaps not. She could let the avocado shrivel and darken, turning to mush on the inside. I don’t need to eat it, she thought.

Then the doorbell rang. Less than a minute later, again. Each time, cracking the silence like an egg.

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Hide

In Issue 70 by Derek La Shot

Sheriff H.W. Walsh bore a faraway look as he stood on the platform behind the gallows and waited for his unofficially adopted son, James Singleton, to die.
The whole scene was oddly dysfunctional, and eerie inefficiency and clumsiness hung about the whole affair like a latrine stench. As if anything that could go wrong had a malicious inclination to do so. The executioner tossed the thick hemp-threaded rope over the oak gallows beam creaking a few times in the wind above them.

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Not If, When

In Issue 69 by Beth Weeks

I first met Caleb Allen at the twenty-four-hour Kroger where he stocked shelves third shift. He was only twenty-one and had failed out of college the year before because he found it beneath him and told me “the services rendered were not worth the costs incurred.” I was an insomniac, and near nightly went to Kroger at three in the morning to meander among the concentrated fruit juices and cans of condensed soup, under fluorescent lights that tricked me into believing I should be awake anyway.

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Flesh and Ghost

In Issue 68 by Adam Cheshire

Ghosts have terrible memories. Turns out that the physical body is integral to particular recollections. Mass, matter, moving through space, imprinting on the world; being imprinted upon. Art has helped me bridge that gap (of not having a body); allowed me an entry point. Music, movies—literature especially—flesh things out. The imaginative world anchors me. Still. There’s always something a little slant to my impressions of the past. My young moments among the living.

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The Rubicon

In Issue 68 by Mark Williams

Spring semester, my senior year of college, I won Jenny Muller in a game of Trivial Pursuit. The winning question was, What Native American tribe assisted the Corps of Discovery through the winter of 1804–1805? I couldn’t believe my luck. With the question or the prize.

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Just Be Nice

In Issue 68 by Aisha West

I was still stoned when I got back home that Saturday – the first Saturday we had a family dinner planned since I’d gotten my license the previous year. We, well, my mom planned this dinner to welcome my dad back from his first tour of duty as a trucker. I was late. And my mom told me so.