Archive for the ‘2012 — 4.2 (Spring)’ Category

Lookup


25 Apr

One smile can cause a storm of fury in a jealous man’s mind
so beautiful is his bride with eyes for another that lay fixed upon the one that choose her
yet yearn for the one she does not know and only can imagine
his touch foreign from what she knows and her mind driven by her jealous groom to find

reoccurring thought of just a passing glance caught by a man who has everything yet nothing
nothing if his brides eyes keep wandering to the nothing of a man
anger fills a room and searches for the release as he throws her and drives acknowledgement
there she lay broken in the perfect home knowing that her hearts torn

pleased I am not, flattered I am not, ashamed I am that I am the man that caused this rift
my eyes pierced her soul unbeknownst to me and free from guilt I am
I kissed each cheek at her wedding and shook his hand as his eyes told the story of contempt
her eyes cried out for me a man she does not know and will never

Gelesia


25 Apr

By: Shalaine


Gelasia


“Damn,” said Tony as we stared in shock at the lifeless body basking in blood on the balcony. Pieces of glass were scattered all over the corpse. The balcony was a two feet drop from the window. As for the office window, I think this is the first it has ever been any kind of open.

Gelasia had only been in our office for a week and now she was dead. I glanced over at our boss and he didn’t look too good. Investigators were already all over him and it was only a few minutes until they’d be all over us. It was one hell of a way to start our Friday; murder at ten am.

My friend Rebecca glanced at me, then at Tony, then at me again, and I glanced at Tony. Her eyes were wide open and I suddenly felt goose bumps in odd places.

Rebecca’s the only other sane person in the office therefore we joined forces. Her cubicle was across from mine and we confided in each other. Helps us both get through the days. Tony is our third wheel and we appreciate our friendship with him considering he is one of the top accountants in our firm. She knew what happened, I knew what happened, and Tony knew what happened. We were the last three people with Gelasia and the truth would come out, eventually. 

So Trump our boss had hired her Monday for his secretarial (his “do whatever I ask even if it involves sexual harassment”) position and she walked up in the office like she was Madonna. Her stilettos clacked against the office floor like pool balls.

She barely glanced at us and went straight to her little desk which was in line with the opening that led to the walkway between the cubicles. Sarah our front desk girl was the first one to make nice with her of course.

“Hi Gelasia, I am Sarah nice to meet you!” she said this and extended her arm. Gelasia in return extended hers.

The introductions continued throughout the day until it was down to Rebecca and I. I went to the lady’s room and found her on her cell phone.

“Hi, I am Chl-,” but before I could finish she threw up a hand and I guess she meant I should shut it. I proceeded to wash my hands and a minute later she got off the phone and said to me,

“Next time you’re trying to introduce yourself to someone you wanna wait till they’re not on an important phone call?”

She draped her long sandy blonde hair on her left shoulder and walked out of the restroom. I looked up at the mirror to see my squinty hazel eyes roll at her rudeness.

“What the hell was he thinking?” I said to Rebecca.

“She’s hot and she types,” replied Rebecca. She showed her pearly whites at this, something she always did when she was proud of a comment she made. Today she was dressed in a black pair of skinny jeans, a ruffled top and her most prized pair of Louboutin shoes. She was probably the tallest Chinese I knew. She took pride in her status as a fashionista. I wasn’t too bad of a dresser myself. I wore skin tight clothes that fit my petite 118 pounds body and I constantly wore heels to look taller.

“I know his secretaries are usually a bit skanky but they were always nice, like that one Jennifer chick or Lucy. I’m telling you Rebecca that girl’s a total bitch,” I said.

“I believe your restroom story, but maybe she really was on an important call. Besides that was Monday and she bought you lunch yesterday.”

“Yea give her a gold medal and put her picture in the hall of fame. Chick bought lunch for the whole office so of course she’d throw mine in there,” I replied.

Gelasia had taken everyone’s lunch orders yesterday, even Mike the custodian who never talks to anyone. She then singlehandedly delivered everyone’s lunches. She went to all twenty four cubicles, five private offices for the managers and the closet that Mike had convinced Trump to let him use instead of the break room so he could be away from civilization. I don’t see why he didn’t use it considering no one really used the break room. We all ate in our cubicles and worked through lunch. Conversations took place via email, text and random shouts across the room. Our office was busier than a bee hive during spring most of the time.

“She may be a nice person,” said Rebecca, “I introduced myself yesterday,” she winced as she said this as she anticipated my reaction.

“What? Wow, you think you know a person. I can’t believe you.”

“Chloe chill out. I’m not gonna work with the girl and just not talk to her because you think she’s a jerk. You didn’t even give her a chance.”

“What?” I shrieked. “I gave her a chance in the restroom.”

By now I was pretty frustrated so I got up and went to the coffee room. I threw a bagel into the toaster and started wrapping my fingers in my thick black curly hair thinking how sad it was that everybody seemed fooled by Gelasia’s facade.

The stupid toaster began to burn my bagel and I started muttering to myself when Gelasia walked in.

“You know, having a fit won’t fix the toaster,” she said this  and smirked.

“Oh, well smirking about it won’t fix it either,” I retorted.

“That’s no way to treat someone who bought you lunch.”

“I didn’t ask you to buy me lunch.”

“Well if I was gonna buy lunch for all the losers in this office I might as well buy for you Carly.”

“The name’s Chloe.”

I rolled my eyes and left. Goodness gracious this girl was acting as if she was queen bee and this was high school. How immature.

                                                                                   #

On Wednesday she came up to my cubicle. “Hey um a bunch of us are going out tonight and I already invited Rebecca who won’t go unless you go so what do you say CHLOOEE, truce?”

I hated the way she enunciated my name, it made me feel stupid.

“No, I’d honestly rather not. I have other engagements,” I said. She scoffed as I said this.
I lied but I was not going to go out with this chick. No way. Her little truce wasn’t fooling me, not a bit.

“C’mon Clo,” yelled Rebecca from her cubicle.

“Fine,” I said. I was in no mood to go back and forth with Rebecca. And maybe she really meant a truce.

                                         #

We were having a blast at the restaurant. Tony was there, Rebecca, the copy room guy Marvin, Sarah, Nicole from cubicle five, and two of Gelasia’s friends Evan and Nicholas. Evan was very cute and I was taking little glances at him all night. Tony was borderline drunk and so was Nicole. It was about eleven when the waitress came by with the checks. I got my purse but couldn’t find my wallet anywhere. I nudged Rebecca to tell her but Gelasia overheard. What she said next was amusing to everyone but me.

“So first I paid for your lunch, now you need someone to pay for your dinner?” she said. They all laughed. My face was white as chalk.

“I have money I just can’t find my wallet,” I said.

“That’s what they all say,” she replied.

Rebecca covered my tab and I left the restaurant severely embarrassed.

 #                                                       

The next day at work Trump called me into his office right before closing time.

“Care to explain this?” he asked throwing a pile of paper work in front of me.

I took it up and stared at him blankly.

“I would if I knew what it was,” I replied.

 “I gave this to Gelasia to give to you this morning to be filed by three pm today. It’s four o clock and I found it hanging out in the coffee room.”

 “Okay. Gelasia didn’t give me anything.”

 “Fine,” he said. He hit the intercom button. “Gelasia, can you come to my office please.”

A minute later Gelasia was in the office.

“Gelasia, care to explain why Chloe didn’t receive this paper work that you were supposed to give her?” he asked. His face was stern and his brows were furrowed. Then again Trump’s face always looked constipated.

 “I brought it to her cubicle but she ignored me so I left it on the desk. I called her name and everything but she didn’t even bother to look up.”

She was right. She did come to my cubicle and I did ignore her but only because of what happened the night before. And as for the papers getting to the coffee room, I had no clue.

 “I’m sorry sir but she really didn’t exp-,” I tried to explain. He cut me off.

 “Look Watson I’m tired of your crap. The secretary comes to your cubicle damn it pay attention it might be something important. Tomorrow morning you’re cleaning the meeting room and organizing the shelves. You’re excused.”

Yep she was definitely screwing him.

                                                                   #

Friday morning I went into the meeting room. Rebecca texted me a smiley face and wished me luck. I was still a bit mad at her for laughing at the dinner but she had paid for my meal so I wasn’t showing it. But I did pay her back so I could still be mad if I wanted to be.

I had been in the room for an hour before I heard the doors open up but I didn’t look. Someone’s hands met over my eyes and I knew it was Tony; same cologne for three years.

 “You’re not supposed to be in here,” I said.

 “Yeaaa who cares. This isn’t fair and damn this place is a mess,” he replied.

The doors opened again and it was Rebecca. She had a cup of hot chocolate.

“I feel like a prisoner guys. Come on I’m just cleaning the meeting room,” I said and laughed.

“Tragic,” said Tony and he shook his head.

Twenty minutes later in the middle of a “wind beneath my wings” rendition by all three of us Gelasia walked in. She looked at Tony and Rebecca but said nothing. She had a huge box in her hands that looked well sealed. She walked over to me and glared at me.

“You set me up, and I don’t understand why. Like what’s your prob?” I asked. My composure was calm on the outside but a volcano was erupting within.

 “Nooo, your papers grew legs and walked to the break room,” she replied.

She then proceeded to throw the box at me.

“Trump wants you to sort that stuff chronologically. It’s dated back to 1998. Have fun,” she said. At that moment I realized that as long as Gelasia would be in this office, work was going to be hell for me.

“I doubt Trump dug up a box of old paper work just for me to sort,” I barked.

This is when it all happened. I threw the box back at her so hard she caught it and lost balance. She slipped backwards and her hair flew up like a haystack caught in a tornado. Suddenly there was glass everywhere and Gelasia’s five feet four, tan slender body disappeared. All I heard was her high pitched scream and then a thud. In horror we all walked over to the shattered window.

“Holy crap they really should make glass from stronger material,” said Tony. He was already calling 911.

“Gelasia! Gelasia can you hear me?” Rebecca yelled this but to no avail.

 The yellow line was in place, men in uniforms were all over the room. The managers all looked pissed and scared and we were awaiting interrogation.

“Everything will be alright Clo. It was an accident and we saw it,” said Rebecca.

“Chloe,” said Tony, “you knew where she was standing, why did you throw the box so hard?”

I thought about it for a second.

 “Um, it was an accident,” I replied.

Loyalty and Family


25 Apr

By: Daniela Rodriguez


Loyalty and Family


“Guilty,” said the head juror.

Radmilla sat with her back against the wall, knees up to her chest, crying. The lights in the Russian prison were shut off, lights out for the night; she knew she would not sleep but simply wait for the sun to rise on her new life, a caged life.

A couple of hours later, she watched as the first rays of sunlight peeked through the bars on her small window, she stretched her legs, got up, and walked over to the small opening on the wall. Outside she saw guards coming to replace the overnight shift, while others brought out the construction equipment the inmates would use throughout the day. Once the sun was completely overhead, she heard the siren that indicated the official start of the day.

Day 1

Breakfast was the first thing in order, the women were lined up, hands behind their backs at all times as they were herded into the mess hall. They grabbed their trays as they walked by the counter and proceeded to shuffle down the food isle, once they reached the end of the counter they were free to sit anywhere they pleased. Radmilla reached the end of the counter and looked around surveying the room, with what she saw she was able to determine that in here every table is its own continent and claimed territory. She looked around one more time, the guard at the end of the line was ushering her to sit, finally she decided on an empty table closest to the back wall near the entrance. As she sat down, out of the corner of her eye she tried to see if anyone was looking at her, but no one turned around, no one seemed to care, or so she thought.

“That’s your first one,” she heard someone say behind her.

She turned around and saw a blonde, scrawny inmate leaning up against the wall. She didn’t have any tattoos, at least none that were visible, she was attractive in her own way, blonde hair loose over her shoulders, bright blue eyes, but she seemed sick somehow. Radmilla had the weird sensation that she knew her.

“My first what?” she asked.

“Strike. You get three of those and…well just make sure you don’t get to three,” she said.

“What’d I do?”

“Neutrality. You didn’t chose a table, and in this place loyalty and family are the key to survival. Case and point,” she said pointing towards the left of the room.

A fight had somehow started between two tables, food and trays were being thrown, but Radmilla had no idea why.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“I told you, loyalty and the people you choose to stand by are important in this place,” with that she turned around and walked out of the mess hall.

As the guards tried to control the situation, Radmilla thought to herself, ‘tomorrow I pick a table’.

Day 4

Three days had passed since Radmilla first encountered life in prison, on her second day as she neared the end of the food isle during breakfast she spotted the blonde from the day before, she smiled at her and Radmilla took that as a sign of welcome. She sat down next to her and found out her name was Pascal, she had been imprisoned for crimes against the government, she had participated in several anti-communist rallies and specifically one in which a government official had been killed, she witnessed the whole thing and had refused to give up information. Pascal introduced Radmilla to the rest of the girls sitting at the table, there were two sisters charged with indecent exposure, a college professor that had refused to teach her students to hate America, and an older woman who was rumored to have been in jail since before the Bolshevik revolution.

Today was the first time the women were going to be allowed to go outside to the construction site, because a fight broke out days earlier the women had been put on lockdown for a couple of days. This would be the first time Radmilla would be on the construction site.

“So what exactly are we building?” Radmilla asked.

“The new security headquarters for the prison. I heard one of the guards say that once this thing was finished, this place would be impossible to get out of,” Pascal answered. The women were walking over to the tool shed, they were both handed a shovel.

“What, isn’t already?” Radmilla asked jokingly.

Pascal leaned over to her and in a hushed voice said, “actually there’ve been several breakouts in the last year, two were caught just outside the walls but three women made it out, they’re still looking for them.”

“Really? That’s interesting,” Radmilla said, and with that the conversation was over, shoveling dirt and stone took effort.

Half way through the day’s work the women were given a break, some used the restrooms, others refilled their water bottles, but Radmilla noticed that Pascal went straight over to the on-site medic, who opened a bottle of pills and handed two to her, she swallowed them with a bit of water and headed back over to Radmilla.

“What were those for?” she asked Pascal.

“Life support,” she answered and then half smiled.

“What’s wrong?”

“Cancer. I was diagnosed like two days after I entered this hell hole.”

“And all they give you are pills? Shouldn’t you be going through treatment or something. What is that thing called, chemotherapy?”

“Anti-communists don’t get those privileges. We’re more useful to the government dead.”

Radmilla could not help but think why Pascal did not just simply give up the name of the person who had killed that official. What could possibly be more important than her own life?

Day 12

The last two weeks had been a monotonous series of repeated activity: wake up, eat, work, eat, work, shower, eat, sleep. The only thing that seemed to be changing was Pascal’s health, she had begun to look paler, her blonde hair had lost its brightness, and she had lost considerable weight, some due to the mandatory construction work, mostly due to her cancer, it was spreading.

“Why don’t you just tell them who did it?” Radmilla asked as they headed to the mess hall for lunch. “I mean, you’re dying in here, just tell them!”

“I can’t. Loyalty and family remember,” Pascal said. She took her lunch tray and walked over to their table.

“How can you be loyal to someone who leaves you in here to die? How is their loyalty towards you being reflected?”

“It’s not that simple Radmilla.”

“Nothing is ever simple Pascal, I just think you should value your life a little more.”

“I do.”

“That’s not true! You’re killing yourself, literally, to defend someone who probably forgot about you!”

“It was my brother.”

“What?”

“My brother killed that pig, he ordered our home to be burned, my parents were still inside,” she said, her eyes glistened with tears held back. “You see why I can’t say what I know,” with that she got up, took her tray, and walked away.

Day 15

Radmilla continued to believe that Pascal should turn her brother in, her condition was getting worse by the day, she had tried several times to bring up the subject again but Pascal had always found ways of side stepping it. Radmilla however, was determined, she was going to help Pascal, she was going to get her out one way or another, perhaps because she needed to make amends with her own personal demons.

“Where’s Pascal?” Radmilla asked, no one at the table seemed to know.

“She’s in the infirmary. She wouldn’t wake up this morning,” the older women said without looking up.

Radmilla ran toward one of the guards and asked to see Pascal, he radioed the infirmary and granted her permission. Pascal was in the bed closest to the far wall, Radmilla walked over to her.

“Hey, what’re you doing here?” Pascal asked.

“Just visiting, wanted to make sure you were ok.”

“Oh I’m fine. They gave me some medication for the pain, I’m feeling a lot better now.”

In that moment the an alarm went off in the whole prison, a huge fight had broken out in the construction site, every guard was being called over to the site of the chaos, even the doctor left to see what was happening.

“Can you walk?” Radmilla asked. This was her chance, the infirmary had an emergency exit that lead to the outside, this area was not heavily guarded, inmates were not allowed outside unless it was in the recreational areas.

“Yeah, of course,” Pascal answered.

“Good, ‘cause we’re getting you out of here,” she said. With that she handed Pascal her shoes and went over to barricade the entrance with the doctor’s desk.

“You ready?” she asked.

“Yeah, let’s go.”

When they opened the emergency exit, the fire alarm went off. They looked around and saw that the guards in the towers were distracted by what was happening on the other side where the fight had broken out. They walked along the wall, trying not to draw attention to themselves, until they reached the chain linked fence keeping them inside.

“Why were you put in here Radmilla?” Pascal asked. The question had been burning in her head for weeks, she needed to know. They began to climb the fence, Radmilla just behind Pascal, as they reached the top Radmilla grabbed Pascal’s hand and lowered her as quickly as she could onto the other side, she jumped in the opposite direction, landing inside the prison again.

“What’re you doing?!” Pascal asked, she didn’t understand they could have made it out together.

“I’m not like you Pascal, I did commit a crime, I need to be in here, I need to pay for what I did. Now go! Go!” she said as tears filled her eyes. Pascal retreated to the woods and yelled over her shoulder thank you. As Radmilla watched her leave she thought of the reason why she had landed in prison in the first place, her sister’s death. Victoria was a thin girl, she was beautiful, with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes, just twelve years old when she decided to get in the passenger seat of her drunk sister’s car.

Hot Nights in East L.A.


25 Apr

By: William Smith


Hot Nights in East L.A.


The hot summer seems never-ending, sun beating down on the roof of Melinda’s small one bedroom rental. The air conditioner’s been broken for two weeks and heaven only know what will go wrong next. A small box fans rhythmic sound, the blades hitting against its frame, blows a warm breeze over Melinda’s boady. She lies on her tattered couch thinking, (what am I going to do now, my job is gone and today I get my last unemployment check.) She drifts back into a half sleep, remembering how things were so long ago. How Carlos her boyfriend and Angel his best childhood friend, went from friends to rivals since Angel moved ten blocks away and into a whole new world. That’s when Angel joined the Southside Boys, the local gang that run the streets in that area. He grew from a sweet child into a member of East L.A.’s most vicious gang; he went from Angel to become known only as “Reaper,” the angel of death. Who could have imagined that Carlo’s childhood friend would end up his killer? Carlos was shot two days before Christmas; just another drug deal gone badly is how the papers read.

Melinda wakes up to the same warm breeze, slowly makes her way into the bathroom and throws some cold water over her face. She looks at herself in the bathroom mirror; she is twenty eight years old but looks much older, all the worries and the trauma of losing Carlos is taking its toll. Opening the bathroom cabinet seeing her sleeping pills, she thinks “I don’t know what to do; maybe eating all of these pills is my only way out, no more suffering, no more crying, no more painful thoughts. Just a bottle of pills, fall back to sleep, and it’s over.”

Suddenly, Melinda hears a knock at her front door which jars her back to reality once more. She takes a big sigh, wipes away the tears from the corners of her eyes, and runs to answer the knocking. When she opens the door to her amazement it’s Chico, Carlos’s younger brother the only Chicano in Carlos’s family to get out of East L.A. Chico was an Honor Student in high school and received a full scholarship to Stanford University near San Francisco, to pursue his dream of becoming a Doctor of Philosophy. He’ll raise his brothers and sisters out of the ideology of the ghetto gang bangers. “We have so many brilliant minds in our own community and I’m going to show them all the way out,” he would always say.

“Hi Melinda,” he says as their eyes first meet.

“Chico! How happy I’m to see you,” she gives him a big hug and pulls him into the house. “Don’t want any trouble, they are still warring and I’m right on the boundary. What’re you doing? You know how dangerous it is here?”

“Melinda, I’m here to see my Mom and most of all you. I’m not worried about those Southside Boys; I’m ready for their shit.” He lifts his silk tank top and in his belt is a “45 Auto” loaded and anxious for revenge.

Melinda looks into his eyes, remembering how much Chico looks like Carlos. “Chico please, I can’t bear to lose another loved one. You need to go back to school, not tomorrow, but now before they know you are home”.

“I have no bones with those gang bangers, but if I see Angel, I’m going to make sure he doesn’t place anymore of those “teardrop tats” on his cheeks.”

“Chico, don’t say that! You’re scaring me. Nobody has seen him since the shooting or you know he would already be dead.”

“He’s been seen around lately, but not to worry, I’m only here for the weekend. I’m going to show you the town, check this out,” he pulls out a wad of cash folded and held together with a rubber band. “We are going to paint the town. You put on your best party dress and I’ll pick you up and 8:00 sharp,” he says with a smile.

“I don’t know Chico; it’s been so long since I’ve been out.”

“Just be ready, no questions asked.” He grabs her giving her a short kiss, “I’ve got to go, don’t forget 8:00”, and out the door he goes.

It’s 6:00 p.m.; Melinda looks through her closet trying to figure out what to wear. After looking through her small wardrobe she decides on her white pullover mini that makes her look so sexy. As she is putting on her makeup, she notices the bottle of pills sitting there but forces the negative thoughts out of her mind. I’m going to have fun with a handsome young man, tomorrow will be soon enough for worrying.

What a great evening, dinner at “Rob’s on the Strip,” rubbing elbows with the Hollywood celebs. Then down to the “Whiskey Ago-go,” for some dancing and plenty of drinks, although Melinda notices that Chico isn’t really drinking that much.

They arrive back at Melinda’s around midnight. Chico parks his car across the street from her house, he jumps out, rushes around the car stumbling a little and they both start laughing. Opening the door he graciously lifts her up to her feet, places his arm around her, and walks her to the front door.

As they reach the porch, Chico turns Melinda towards him, pulls her close and gives her a long and passionate kiss. He says, “I’ve wanted to do that ever since I was ten years old.” She throws her arms around him and gives him another passionate kiss.

“Chico, will you stay with me tonight? I want you to hold me tight. I haven’t felt safe in the arms of a man in a long time.” She looks at him seductively.

“Nothing would please me more, but not tonight.” He reaches into his pocket, pulls out the wad of cash held together with a rubber band and hands it to her. “Here take this and hold on to it,” he places the money firmly into her hand.

“Chico, what is going on? Is there something wrong?”

“It’ll be fine, do as I say,” he kisses her again and leads her through the door. “Now I want you to stay in the house tonight, don’t come out no matter what happens.”

“What?” Melinda is starting to feel a little queasy from the drinks, “Chico what is going on?”

“Melinda please, it’ll be fine and hopefully I’ll see you soon.”

She watches as he reaches his car. Starting to feel a little sick, she staggers over to her tattered couch, sits down and throws the wad of bills onto the coffee table. She pulls off the rubber band, opens the fold, and out drops a key. “Well what is this?” she thinks to herself, “Chico must have forgotten about his key, I will give it to him tomorrow. Twenty four C-notes, $2400 at least I know he will be back.” She lies down, finally realizing how damn hot it is.

As she falls into her dreams, she remembers how Chico always seemed infatuated with her. He and his little friends would sit on the porch, waited to watch her strut by, and of course she would always give them that little extra wiggle. How when she and Carlos were split up for six months, he would be hanging around all the time. They even had that night when she got a little too drunk, made love with him, then made him promise never to tell.

Suddenly, Melinda awakens to the screeching of tires, the sound of gunfire, rapid gunfire exploding in the quiet night. Melinda jumps to her feet, runs to the window and sees Chico’s car. It is still sitting across the street, all the side windows are shot out, and there is a figure slumped over the steering wheel. “Oh My God,” she thinks, “They have killed Chico!”

Hearing a load crash, Melinda looks to the right and sees a black SUV has crashed into the parked cars along the street. Three hooded men step out from the darkness between the houses and open fire on the SUV, automatic weapons fire echoes through the silence once more.

One man stumbles from the SUV, pistol in hand, trying to return fire, when unexpectedly Chico runs out of the darkness between the houses. He looks the stumbling man in the eyes and says, “No more teardrops for you,” firing four shots into the stumbling man. The man falls to the ground like a sack of bricks.

Melinda in a state of panic, runs out of the house and over to Chico’s car. Her heart franticly beating, tear streaming down her face, she sees the figure slumped over the steering wheel. She pulls back the figure, finds that it is a stuffed dummy dressed up to look like Chico, realizing with relief that Chico must be alright. Down the street she sees the man lying there dead. When she walks closer, she can see that it’s Angel, “Reaper,” lying motionless in a pool of his own blood.

She can hear the sirens wailing in the background. Running back into the house, she grabs the money and the key, hurries out the back door and jumps into her old Pontiac. Looking down at her lap she notices that the key has stamped into it L.A. International Airport, locker #23, “well I’m only 10 miles from the airport, I have to go check this out.”

Walking through the airport she asks the security guard where the lockers are. Pointing his finger, he directs her to the second floor. She thanks the man, anxiously runs up the stairs to where the lockers are. Looking around she notices a young girl with two little children, sitting in the seats across from the lockers, crying. Melinda looks around and sees that the place is absolutely empty. After all it is 4:30 A.M. She asks the girl, “What’s wrong?”

“My father was supposed to pick us up here but has been in an accident, now me and my two girls are stuck with no way to get to my parents house,” She tells Melinda.

“That’s a shame,” Melinda says, “let me take care of something and then maybe I can help.”

She walks over to the locker, places the key into the lock turning it a quarter turn to the right. It comes swinging open. There in the locker is a small familiar gym bag. Reaching in she pulls it out seeing Carlos written on the side and remembers that this is Carlos’s old gym bag. She sits in a seat across from the lockers and opens the bag. Inside she finds twelve banded stacks of $100 bills with $10,000 stamped on each band.

“Oh My God!” she says to herself, looks back down into the bag and notices an envelope. Opening the envelope she finds an airplane ticket and a note. The note reads:

Melinda;

If you are reading this, all I want to say is that Carlos was ready to leave East L.A. with you last Christmas. The money in the bag is yours. You are now a free bird; you can go anywhere you wish, but it is my wish that you will take the one way ticket to San Francisco and come stay with me.

Hoping I’ll see you soon.

Chico

Melinda sits there for a few moments collecting her thoughts; this is too good to be true. Looking over at the young girl, she starts to think about what she should do. Getting up she walks over to the girl and says, “Hey why don’t you come with me? I think I can help you.” And they all get up and leave returning to Melinda’s old Pontiac.

“Do you know how to drive?” Melinda asks the young girl.

“Sure I know how to drive,” says the young girl.

“Good, get in the driver’s seat and you kids get into the back.”

Melinda jumps into the passenger’s seat, opens the glove box, where she finds the title to the car. She reaches into the bag, pulls out half of one of the bundled stacks of money, and slips it between the folded title. Looking at the young girl she hands the bills to her along with the title telling her, “these are for you, I have run into a little bit of good luck and I want you to have these, now you can go to your parents and see if your father is all right.”

“What, Are you sure? What about you, what are you going to do?” she exclaims.

“Well you can let me out here at the front door, I have a Plane to catch,” she smiles, gives the young girl a hung and jumps out, ready to catch the next plane to San Francisco.

My Little Empty Nest


25 Apr

By: K. V. Orr


My Little Empty Nest


My name’s Karen Johnson, there’s nothing special about me. I have a husband, Jim, and a daughter, Kaitlyn. She just left for college a few weeks ago. I miss her a lot, but I know she’s doing well. I mean, I’m a little hurt that she didn’t take any time between senior year and college to spend time with her mom; I took time off to spend time with her when she was born. It only seems fair. But it’s her choice. While dealing with my empty nest I’ve started selling Komfy Kitchen products, overpriced blenders and knives, the usual. I’m more focused on recruiting other women to work for me and sell my products for me. The woman that signed me up says it’s not a pyramid scheme, but it is. Today I am going over to Kaitlyn’s friends house, her mother, Jill, is going through her own empty nest syndrome and I think it’s a good time to give her something to do, that being selling my kitchen supplies.

I walk the two blocks to her house, KK magazine in hand, and knock on the door. She invites me in and asks if I’ve heard from the girls, her daughter tagged along with Kaitlyn and they’re in the same dorm. I catch her up and then ask “Jill, the real reason I’m here is to ask you if you’re happy with the supplies in your kitchen? Or are you finding that you have too much time on your hands without your daughter here?” Then I asked if she’d want to sell with me. She was smiling at something else.

“No, I won’t have too much extra time on my hands, Eric and I are finally announcing that we’re expecting again!” She giggled.

That bitch. She said we were supposed to deal with our empty nests together, and now she’s starting over. I bet she did this one on purpose, just like she did in high school. “Oh my, well that’s some news.” slowly making my way back to the door. Well, I guess I’ll bring over some baby catalogs for you then.

#

It’s been five months and I’ve only sold a few products, and haven’t been able to sign anyone up for Komfy Kitchen to work for me. It’s okay, it’s supposed to be slow at first, that’s what I hear anyways. What I’m really upset about is that Jill signed up to sell KK with someone else. It makes no sense; she and I are so much closer. She draws people in with her pregnancy and they sympathize with her, being so old and knocked up, and they buy all her stuff instead of mine. It’s a cheap gimmick, but she’s ready to burst, then her cash cow and free time will be gone and I’ll be the one on the top of the pyramid.

I stopped over at Jill’s house again, it’s pretty late. I know she said Eric was out of town on business so I thought it would be nice to, um, to keep her company. I sneak in through the window of what will be the new nursery. It’s all neutral colors; they don’t want to know the sex until it’s born. Jill’s in bed already, which is perfect. I sneak up on her and cover her mouth with a rag I drenched with chloroform, she panicked when I put it over her face but slowly she faded out. I slide her pants down to her ankles and take out my rubbing alcohol and my scalpel. I start the incision at her bellybutton and go all the way down. I reach in and pull out my prize, a new baby boy.

Man-Making


25 Apr

By: Caitlin Moloney


Man-making


The moon was hiding tonight. Balbo’s mother had always told him that the moon only hides when children do bad things. Now that he was older, he realized that his mother had only said that to see if he would come in with a guilty face on a dark, mischief making night like this. Balbo’s mother had been a smart woman. He hoped she was watching over him tonight.

The bark of the tree Balbo was sitting in was rough and rubbed against his bare skin. It didn’t hurt very much because Balbo’s skin was tough. But he tried not to move around too much. It was best to stay as quiet as possible. He wanted to be able hear the prey approaching.

Balbo flexed his hand around the dagger he had made early that morning. It was sharp and easy to hold onto. He remembered how it had hissed like an angry snake when he’d plunged it into the water. Since then, he had not let it go. He had been holding it for so long now that it felt like an extension of his own body, like his own arm or leg. Huyt and Falan had told him that was good thing and it would help him kill cleanly. He hoped so.

He wished that the waiting would end soon. It had been long enough waiting for this, his fifteenth year. The hours sitting in the tree were like torture, but not because his back was stiff, though it certainly was. Balbo was itching to become a man. Huyt and Falan had already had their man-making ceremonies earlier this year. Balbo remembered watching with envy as each had returned to the village with the blood of their kill painted in thick lines across their body. Huyt’s kill had brought praise from all the villagers for being so large. Even Chief Elder had remarked that the meat would be enough to feed the whole village, and he was not supposed to show any favoritism.

So, Balbo was ready. It was his turn to win praise and a place of belonging among the men. With this kill, he could finally join the fire talks that Huyt and Falan had told him so much about. He wanted to prove himself as a man. He wanted to prove that he was worthy to keep the village’s secrets.

Hoot hoot.

Balbo heard it echo from down the path and his spine straightened as if jerked by a string. It was the signal. His quarry was here. He peered down into the forest and strained his ears. Balbo could hear the crunch of leaves underfoot, slowly growing closer and closer. He flexed his knife hand once again and his lips silently mouthed a prayer to the Mother.

The prey stopped right beneath him to inspect the bait Balbo had laid out. Was it really going to be this easy? he thought. His body was as tight as a wire and he took a deep breath to release some of the tension. He needed to be limber for this. Balbo watched the prey investigate the bait and waited for the right moment. Just a bit more, he thought, and then he was a panther leaping from the tree.

“What the–” the prey said, and Balbo’s dagger narrowly missed the glide against his white throat. The white-walker jumped back and met Balbo’s eyes with his own. They were a night sky opened wide in terror.

Balbo was surprised. From what he’d heard of the white-walkers, they were supposed to be feeble. He’d expected it to be over in two quick slashes. But Balbo was determined. This was his night.

“Don’t hurt me!” the white-walker said. Balbo stared into his night sky eyes and tried to make himself cold as steel.

“The Mother will take care of you,” Balbo said. “Don’t worry. It will be fast.”

The white-walker screamed. He scrambled to his feet and began to run, but Balbo did not let him get far. Balbo leapt forward and grabbed the white-walker’s legs, bringing them both crashing to the ground. The white-walker flailed his limbs and one of them connected with Balbo’s skull, dazing him. He could taste the sharp tang of blood in his mouth. His face stung and blood ran into his eyes. Another blow caught him in the ribs. Balbo tried to focus, but the fight was too frenzied. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t see. The white-walker kicked again and his foot sunk into Balbo’s stomach. Balbo started to panic. It was supposed to be easy! He struck out blindly with his dagger, hoping that he would hit the white-walker and end this. Please Mother, he prayed, and then felt relief when the blade found its home in flesh.

The white-walker cried out, and the sound was dreadful and full of pain. Balbo sprung back, pulling the knife out. The white-walker curled up into a ball, moaning and keening like an animal. Balbo had stabbed him right in the belly. It was a death wound.

“I don’t want to die,” the white-walker cried. “I don’t… please…”

Balbo looked down at the white-walker and felt a terribly heavy sadness creep into his heart. He sliced the white-walker’s throat open with a quick motion and his cries turned into gurgles. Balbo looked into his night sky eyes and watched the life slowly leave them forever.

Balbo was still sitting next to the cold body when Huyt, the one who had given him the signal, arrived.

“Balbo,” Huyt said. “What’s wrong? Why haven’t you done the ceremony?”

Balbo looked at Huyt and then back at the white-walker. He stared at the body. Then, using careful motions, he began to strip the white-walker of his clothing. He treated the corpse gingerly, as if it had been not an enemy, but a lover who had died. Balbo placed a hand on the white-walker’s face and looked him in his dead eyes as he made a slow slice down the pale, freckled chest. He dipped his fingers inside and with white-walker’s blood, he began to draw the ceremonial patterns.

“With your death, I am a man,” Balbo recited, shakily. His fingers trembled as he painted the lines on his skin. “May you live in my skin and protect me from my enemies’ blows. Your spirit is free to walk with me. Together, we are one.”

Huyt nodded in approval. “Well done.”

Balbo stood up quickly and his vision grew dark. He threw out an arm and leaned against a tree. He felt sick.

“What is it?” Huyt said. He looked worried.

Balbo sucked in air through his mouth. He didn’t think he could breathe in the scent of death right now. “He begged me for his life.”

Huyt looked at him with a face of stone. Then he began to take notice of Balbo’s injuries. “He fought you? He resisted?”

Balbo nodded.

“We must tell Chief Elder,” Huyt said.

#

The Chief Elder was a big man. Beyond the air of authority that he carried around like a cloak, he was a man of fearful stature. Before he had been named Chief Elder, he had earned the nickname Bear based solely on his ability to bat men away with his giant hands. One looked up to the Chief Elder in more ways than one.

He stared down at Balbo now and it made him feel like a tiny gnat.

“Huyt tells me that your man-making went slightly awry,” said Chief Elder. “Is that right?”

“Yes, Chief Elder,” Balbo said. He felt shame in the way that the Chief Elder said this, like it had been Balbo’s fault. He couldn’t stop thinking about the white-walker’s eyes and how sad they had looked as he died.

The Chief Elder rubbed his beard and continued to stare at Balbo. It made Balbo feel like his skin was too small for his body.

“You are a man now, Balbo. That entitles you to certain truths,” he said. The Chief Elder looked Balbo in the eye. “If you are ready to hear them.”

Balbo nodded solemnly. “I am, Chief Elder.”

“Very well,” said Chief Elder. He sat down across from Balbo and lit his pipe. He took a few puffs before beginning. “The white-walkers are from a neighboring tribe, we have always told you this,” he said. “But they do not live in the forest.”

“Then where do they come from?” Balbo asked.

The Chief Elder’s lips quirked up in a small smile. “I don’t think you would understand even if I explained it to you. In simple terms, let us say that the white-walkers make a journey to this place as a sort of… final pilgrimage, we could say.”

“Is that why they are usually old?” asked Balbo.

“Yes,” Chief Elder nodded. “That is part of it. We came to name them white-walkers because of the whiteness of their skin and hair.”

Balbo nodded. He was following so far. “But why are they usually so large?”

“That has something to do with the nature of the pilgrimage,” Chief Elder said. “They come to the forest for one of two reasons. The first is to try and reconnect with their own selves. They hope that by being near the forest they can regain control of their bodies.”

“And the second?”

The Chief Elder laughed. “Why, to die, of course. And that’s what we help with, Balbo. We send them to the Mother,” The Chief Elder paused to puff on his pipe. “Now, your white-walker may not have wandered into the forest in search of his own death, but the Mother decided it was his time. Do not regret it, Balbo. It was what the Mother wanted.”

“Thank you, Chief Elder,” said Balbo.

“Go enjoy the feast now son,” he said. “Your kill may have been small, but there is still plenty of meat!”

Balbo thanked the Chief Elder again as he left his tent. He knew that he should feel better, but he still felt that heavy sadness around his heart. The village was gathered around the fire eating his kill, and Balbo knew he should go join them, that he would be expected soon. But he couldn’t face his friends and pretend that he was proud of what he had done tonight. So, he began to run. The forest was soft under his feet as Balbo ran and ran and kept on running.

His feet carried him there without thinking. The ground was still dark with his white-walker’s blood and his clothes were still folded in a pile next to the tree. Balbo placed his knife between his teeth and started to climb the tree. The bark was rough under his hands, but he took every splinter as penance. When he reached his branch, he straddled it and craned his head to look into the moonless sky. His white-walker was up there now. He was somebody’s son and Balbo had sent him there.

As the wind howled in his ears, Balbo began to cry. He couldn’t be sure, but with each howl it sounded like a mother frantically calling out her child’s name over and over again.

At the Stake


25 Apr

By: Kelley Egan

At The Stake

Standing in the middle of flames

waiting to burn.

They say what i speak is evil

and this is how I will learn.

But the man with the chalky skin

knows not, his evil deeds.

The man with the sky blue eyes

ruins all he sees.

I’m talking, but no one is listening.

will my words always go unheard?

I’m thinking of what God will say

when I am forced to rejoin his herd.

They’ve beaten me with fists of ignorance

and whipped me to the bone .

Hundreds of  years etched in my back

while I lay upon their stone.

Stripped me of my cloth,

while spitting on my frame.

But, they will never change my mind,

even now standing in their flame

Suburban Voodoo


25 Apr

By: Rhonda Kitchens


Suburban Voodoo


She hustled the cup of her husband’s coffee with its morning shadow of grounds to Sister Hannah Mary Swan Song Cantata.

“Oh, this is bad.” Sister Hannah Mary Tango Isis Swan Song Cantata could see no good in the sparse pattern of the grounds.

“Yes, yes?” Pauline’s hands were clenched. Her forehead was seismic.

“Baby, you just need to clean your coffee machine.”

“But Sister Mary Hannah…”

“Look it, Hon, I could sell you a gallon of St. John the Conqueror and hose you for a few hundred dollars and that man would still be seeing Widow Smith.”

“Sister Mary…”

“No, shush, child and stop asking me about your useless man. You can go down to the High Holy Totally Reincarnated His Pacemaker is Still Ticking Moe and you would still be poorer in love with that no good can’t keep it in his pants man.

“I don’t know what to do,” Pauline anguished.

“Well, a lot of your suburban, gated community sisters would just chalk it up to the high cost of living well with a roof over their head and summer vacation roof shielding their precious pale skin when it gets too hot here in the city. A handful of prescription drugs and those Stepford bitches are happy and venomous as jellyfish. My business always dips when they find new way to make everything pretty from Valium to Prozac to Yoga. So many souls need a sedative. Pauline, what makes you want
more?”

“I believe in love.” Pauline was a supra-ballet-piano-recital-Little-League-violin-concerto mom. Her Capri’s were well pressed, fitted yet yielded nothing in terms of her sexuality or soul. Sister Mary Quick Step Hannah Swan Song Cantata added, “You, Pauline, if you do what I say, you’ll have more love than you can imagine in 6 months. Leave him.”

“But…”

“Leave him and the kids and walk out with precisely $30,000 in spending cash. Get yourself the sharkiest, dirtiest lawyer in the Valley.”

“My kids?”

“Honey, women who take their kids are playing martyr and just stupid. That man will make 8 times what you make this year alone. Leave them with the moneybags. No matter what you do, they’re going to hate you. Right now, they hate you for letting that dog doormat you.”

Pauline knew it.

“Children will never love you more than when that dick wielding fool starts parading his silicon enhanced mom replacements trying to get their approval.”

Pauline had seen it.

“What Sister Mary Hannah Swan Song Valerian Cantata tells you is to leave and don’t even go to a school play for six months. Honey, people love most what they cannot have.”

Pauline dropped her bone China coffee cup to the floor with a smash of new found knowledge.

“Pauline, sister,” Sister Mary Hannah Tabasco Altis Swan Song Cantata said, “that’ll be $5 extra plus the usual fee and I’ll throw in a bottle of St. Hi John the Conqueror Powerful Mojo Bubble Bath for free. Just keep it away from open flames. I don’t need the Fire Marshal sniffing around here again.”
________

Grocery shopping had become her grandest luxury. Wide open aisles that she could navigate without fear of her charges breaking things or mouthing unbought cookies into an embarrassing mash. She could buy what she wanted. She didn’t have to plan. Picking up the extra creamy peanut butter, she didn’t have to consider the brand. She could buy a store brand. She picked up the veal without any posh private school whining about veal pens. Her kids were living in a fucking veal pen out there at the estates.

“We’re all dead meat,” Pauline whispered to the pink fillets. “It is simply a matter of style.” And she promised the veal, that latter day golden calf, a lather of lemon sauce dimpled with capers.

Pauline’s short black dress brushed her tan, toned thighs as she straightened up from the meat counter. The stock boy turned away guilty and hot.

The bag boy would not.
________

“Pauline, we need to talk”

“Well now, shouldn’t you be at Edina’s? Isn’t this your ‘work late’ Thursday?”

“Pauline….” he says to a closed door.
________

Pauline, we need to talk.”

“Won’t the kids be worried, sweety? Shouldn’t you be picking Heather up from practice?”

“Pauline….” he says over a moat of the impossible as Pauline pulls the gate up to her castle.
________

“Pauline, for God’s sake, it is the kids. We need to talk.”

“Let me see, my back talking spoiled brat kids and my philandering husband need to talk…”

“Pauline….” he weeps up against a surface into which a door has sealed itself into the smoothness of a wall.
________

Sister Mary Hannah Karpathos Michelob Swan Song Cantata and Pauline share drinks at the Art for the Artfully Downwardly Mobile Fundraiser.

“Sister, you were so right. Love. We waste it on the things that are facing away from us when right in our own hip pocket is the love that passes all understanding.”

Sister Mary Hannah raises an eyebrow and considers she may finally face real competition

Pleased to meet you


25 Apr

By:

Mason Johnson

Video Description:

“Video essay meant to introduce myself and the only rule of the prompt was that I could not appear in the video in any way, shape, or form.”

A Cruel Irony


25 Apr

By: Robert Griffin


A Cruel Irony


“Hello. I am Ted,” I said “and I am carrying the new living lord.”

The “wagon circle”, as the counselor called it, was comprised of: Sarah, the counselor (forty-sevenish, married but lonely); Parker, a schizoid homeless nihilist man with, get this, a chronic masturbating syndrome; Jeff, a man who stabbed an elderly woman with a plastic “spork” at a picnic for no reason; and me, thirty-two, single, male and pregnant, pretty damned happy if you ask me.

The group sessions for “people like us”, as Sarah would say, was what was replacing my church visitations these days. Ever since I had been

“Immaculately conceived… in…” Which is what I had told people when they noticed my swollen stomach and new, “touchy”, attitude, invoking short choking fits and a glare of disgust.

“Yes, I was knocked up by God…” I told the people in my church with a big smile. At first they thought of it as cute, but as they began to see it as a lifestyle choice, the less sensitive they became until, I had to leave. I had expected a different reaction.

“So, Reverend Bob,” Parker always called me “Bob”, “What are you doing tomorrow at four in the afternoon?”

“Parker, we don’t ask other member’s to join us in our neurosis!” Sarah chimed in.

Parker mumbled something close the word “Bitch” before one of his alter-egos got him and he was suddenly a plumber from New Kinsey, Kansas, named Buck.

Two men in white coats came and pulled him away as he kicked and screamed about a rusty copper pipe in the ceiling.

“So, Reverend Ted,” Sarah distracted us from the scene, “How has your community been reacting to your…Discovery?”

The pretentious bitch doesn’t believe me either, I thought. I put my hand on my stomach and gave her puff, jerking my head away from her in disgust.

Hussy…

“Oh, it wasn’t too bad.” I responded to the wall, “You know, the normal. They basically shunned me out and now my unborn child and I will be looking for a place to sleep!”

“Oh, I am so sorry!” She exclaimed. Thus began an hour long apology session in which I developed a pulled muscle in my neck due to the length of time I was staring at the wall.

I’ll show you! I’ll get an ultrasound and let you see the little savior!

“I think we’re done here, Doctor.” I said and stormed away.

Now, normally, I would think of an ultrasound as a sin, what with the inherent evils of technology, especially when it came to seeing the unborn savior deep in my belly, but with the lack of the patrons of my church to support me, I had begun to fall away from my reliance on the acceptance of my congregation.

I arrived at the Gynecologists office around eleven thirty in the morning. As I sat and waited for the tech to get back from going to the bathroom my mind wandered and raced as I began to think of the possibilities of its sex (admittedly, I was a bit behind in my education of medical advances, because when I asked the technician if she could tell me if it was a boy or a girl, she gave me a puzzled look and told me that it was far too soon. We had an uncomfortable laugh I only stopped looking at the ceiling panel when she gasped and said something in a foreign language.

Over the course of three days and four “exploratory operations” it turned out that the “baby” I was having was actually a “nondescript mass in [my] abdomen containing estrogen”.

Trying to explain to my “brethren in Christ” that having a large mass removed from my stomach that I mistakenly claimed to be the next christchild wasn’t even close an abortion was a difficult task and eventually I decided that I didn’t care for them anymore anyhow.

Arriving at the bar, the bartender acknowledged me, and went back to entertaining the customers. I ordered scotch on the rocks and sat down in a booth with my head hung between my arms.

I wonder what Parker is doing today…

I looked at my lap for a moment….

“Besides,” I said aloud before taking a hard shot, “what has God done for me anyhow?”