Archive for December, 2009

Failure is Not an Option

07 Dec

He would only have 30 seconds to get out alive. Emilio stared at the remote detonator in his hand. Two buttons. If he is successful in his mission he presses the red one and detonates the charges he had just placed under the building. If he is unsuccessful he presses the green button and detonates the charges around his waist. In his line of work – failure was never an option.

Emilio carefully attached the last wire to the explosive device at the base of the massive concrete support column. He was lying on his stomach. His heavy breathing formed small tornado like whirls in the dirt. Many of the fine particles managed to find their way into eyes and his lungs. He suppressed the urge to cough. Failure – was not an option. Above him towered a 12 story concrete building, bustling with life. He did not know the nature of the lives being lived there. It was not his job to know. He was taught to leave his personal feelings out of the decision making process. He was taught to follow orders. He was trained – to press a button.

Three and half minutes later, Emilio had crawled his way to the edge of the building. He took a minute to catch his breath and to try to get some of the dirt out of his eyes. Looking out from under the building he spotted the getaway car that was left for him. He had to wait for the right moment to exit and cross the street. Failure was not an option. Once in the car, he could press the button and have 30 seconds to put some distance between himself and the explosions. If he could just make it to the car he would be free.

There was no hesitation when the right moment arrived. Emilio reacted without thinking. The next thing he knew he was in the driver seat, key in the ignition, and detonator in hand. He turned to look at the building. He saw two women, one of them pregnant, and 4 small children preparing to climb the steps that lead up to the door of the building he was about to destroy. The pregnant woman looked at him and smiled. It was a punch in the stomach. It was as if he had never seen a smile before. Things started to move in slow motion. He noticed the innocent, care-free expressions on the children’s faces. He thought of his own children. As tears began to stream down his cheeks he quietly asked himself, “Is failure an option?” Looking down at the detonator in his hand, he took a deep breath and pressed the button.

Student Visual Arts

05 Dec

Gates of Heaven

Golden Beach

Living Water


Andrew Colantuono

Back to the Barre

Red Dress

Jill Wright

Delicate Age



Kristin Rose LeMar

Macro Dragonfly


Student Fiction and Nonfiction

05 Dec

Student Fiction


Taylor Meredith


Bleed the Line


Bill Graydon

Space: The Finite Frontier

Adam Gadomski

A Very Merry Christmas

Jay Foulk

Failure is Not an Option

Steven Brown

Student Nonfiction

Going Home

Laura Tanksley

Staff Poetry and Fiction

05 Dec

Staff Poetry

neutrally, our fresh hot teas both flushed light gold

Marc Matza

the Nightingale rests on a tree

Queen of Veneer

P. J. German

Staff Fiction

The Tale of the New King and a Rich Soul



P. J. German

Fall 2009 Student Poetry

05 Dec


Steven Brown

Shape Shifter

Taylor Meredith

Master of the Night

Aaron Rowand


Jay Foulk



Steven Harrison


Cherstin Haga

The Pillsbury Doughboy Can’t Giggle

Bill Graydon


Matt Nations

Our Generation

Marc Zappia

A Very Merry Christmas

05 Dec

“This present is for Gordon,” I said as I handed my nephew his loosely wrapped present. “Be careful. Don’t shake it, you don’t want to hurt it.”

Gordon’s eyes lit up as he took the present and put it down on the floor to open it. Everyone was curious; what had I purchased for Gordon this year? Last year, I bought him a BB gun and he promptly shot out my mother-in-laws bird feeder. This year would be different. Since they refused to give the gun back, I decided it was time to get even for Gordon.

I never liked my in-laws and Gordon’s parents weren’t much better. Cathy, my wife, was completely different from her family. She wasn’t pretentious like her mother and sister. After all, who names a kid Gordon?

As Gordon ripped at the paper, his mother and grandmother took turns shooting me dirty looks. Everyone leaned close to see what it was.

“What is it Gordon?” His grandmother asked.

“I don’t know, it’s an empty cage!” Gordon said, trying to act excited.

“Why would you give him an empty cage?” Michelle asked me.

“It wasn’t empty last night when I went to bed,” I told her, faking an incredulous look. “Let me see that Gord,” I said, reaching my hand out. Gordon handed me the plastic enclosure. I reached under it and pulled out a small book. I had taped it there to make sure nobody saw it first.

“I think we have an escape artist on our hands folks.” I said as I hid what was on the cover of the book.

“I hope it wasn’t a mouse,” his grandmother said, a look of disgust on her face. Cathy had to fight to suppress the smile from her face; she was in on it with me. Gordon was in on it too. I had given him a hundred dollar bill earlier and explained what was going to happen.

I bit my lip as I held up the book for everyone to see. Gordon’s grandmother fainted instantly. His mother wasn’t far behind.

“Oh my God!” she screamed and then fainted, just like her mother. Tarantulas for Dummies turned out to be my new favorite book.

Bleed the Line

05 Dec

“You know,” David said, “this is illegal in some states.”

“What, gay sex?” Devon asked.

“No,” David said, then kissed Devon, inching closer to him on the ambulance stretcher, “having sex in an ambulance. If I get caught, I’m fucked.”

“Like you wouldn’t like that,” Devon said, sliding his hand across David’s stomach.

Devon worked as a security guard at Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, Florida. This is where he hooked up with David, a paramedic he routinely received blow-jobs from on Wednesday nights. Devon did not believe himself to be a fag. He was having sex with David because he needed something from him, and he was willing to sacrifice his masculinity (so he thought it to be). They had been having sex for almost one month. Devon, during this time, was able to emotionally detach himself from David. This is something I have to do, Devon continuously reassured himself, especially after ejaculating.

“Fuck off,” David said, standing up, almost hitting his head on the center dome light, “and why do we always have to have sex in the rig?”

“You know it turns me on. I’ve told you that already.”

“Whatever.” David began searching for his pants on the floor of the ambulance.

“Hey,” Devon said as he grabbed David’s forearm, “do me a favor.”

“What?” Devon slipped into his pants.

“Teach me how to give someone an IV?”

“Why in the hell would you want me to do that?” David said, buttoning his pants, and then picking up his shirt.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to know how to do. Besides, I’m a security guard. I should know how to do these things. Who knows when the next nine eleven is going to be, you know?”

“I don’t know why I’m doing this,” David said, reaching

above Devon to open the IV supply cabinet.

“Because you love me.” Devon said. Do I love him?

“I wonder about that.” David began to prepare Devon’s arm for an IV, carefully explaining each step. It took almost thirty minutes for the IV to complete. Afterwards, Devon convinced David to give him enough supplies to initiate two IVs.

“Well, I’ll see you next Wednesday.” Devon kissed David.

“You’d better,” David said, holding Devon tightly, not wanting to let him go.

“You know you will,” Devon said “Goodnight babe.”

While driving home, Devon’s cell phone rang. After reaching into his pocket, he took out his cell phone, holding it in sight of his driving vision, and read the LCD display: MOM. I know Mom. I know what day tomorrow is.

“Hi Mom. You’re calling late.” It was ten-thirty.

“I know Dev, I know. I was just thinking about, I was just thinking that, well your father.”

“It’s been ten years, Mom.”

“It doesn’t feel like it.”

“Tell me about it.” Devon said as he pulled off the road. This familiar conversation would require his full attention.

“Devon,” his mother said, “I hope you’re not still trying to find that damn medic. You should let it go.”

“You should take the same advice Mom,” Devon said, placing his hand atop an IV bag, “and I’m not trying to find this medic because I want to kick his ass. I just want to know what happened. That’s all.”

“We know what happened, Dev,” she said, and paused, “Your father died of a heart attack—“

“Well maybe if that damn medic did his job better, Dad would still be alive.” Devon, after realizing he was squeezing the IV bag, released his grip.

“I want to come down and see you tomorrow.”

“No,” Devon said, “I mean, I would love to see you. I just, well, I have plans. I have a date.”

“Really,” she said, “What’s her name?”

“Da—Debra.” Did I almost say David?

After Devon successfully convinced his mother to postpone her visit, Devon returned to the road. Often, he wished his mother would stop calling him on the eve of his father’s death. Each time she called, he felt himself beginning to forgive the medic who took care of his father on the day he died. Ultimately, Devon thought his mothers’ annual call was a distraction, pulling him away from his mission.

Now at home, Devon showered. He believed, after having sex with David, the shower would cleanse the homosexuality from his body. Clean, gay free and dry, he grabbed the IV supplies. Once in his backyard he carefully navigated, in darkness, to his shed. His work often performed at night, required privacy. Inside the shed, Devon placed the IV supplies in the appropriate location, just like David’s ambulance. Perfect, Devon thought as he closed and locked the door.

Before going to bed, Devon logged-on to FACEBOOK. It was this electronic medium which provided Devon the location of the medic he believed to be responsible for his father’s death. This instant communication, and abundance of information had eased the difficulty of murder. Locating an enemy or a potential target was a click away. Often, when Devon first began his on-line search for the medic, he would sing: “It’s a Small World After All.”

Devon was able to begin his search for this medic, Gregory Walsh, because the image of his name badge had been permanently etched into his mind: GREGORY WALSH, US ARMY, EMT. This, of course, was not all Devon was able to recall from that day. He could still see the medic, Gregory, fumbling around the ambulance, desperately trying to establish IV access, which he was not able to do. Devon could still here Gregory’s voice

telling his father: “You’re going to be alright.” He also recalled the grayness that flooded his father’s face, and most of all he remembered his pain and ire.

Devon clicked on the link to Gregory’s profile.

“Tomorrow,” Devon said, deleting Gregory’s page, “This is over tomorrow.” He shut down his computer, and then retired for the night.

Devon had been up and ready to go since five am. At six am he called in sick. Today, his plan was going into action. After careful observation of Gregory’s life, during the previous month, he learned that Gregory was single, living alone with his mentally disabled nephew, Kevin. Kevin, Monday through Friday, attended a local Easter Seals day program. Devon also learned Kevin was able to walk unaccompanied, each morning, to his bus stop.

“Hey,” Devon said, slowing his car down, “Kevin, the bus broke down, I’m here to pick you up.”

“Cool, I hate the bus. It sucks.”

“I hear you bud,” Devon said, now outside of his Dodge Caravan, placing his arm upon Kevin’s back, “They suck.”

Inside the van, Devon grabbed a bottle of Coke and offered it to Kevin.

“Want a Coke?”

“Yeah man, I love Coke. I love it.” Kevin quickly untwisted the cap and gulped half the bottle of soda.

“I love Coke too.” Devon Said. Earlier, Devon injected 10 milligrams of ATIVAN to the Coke Bottle. It would not be long before Kevin was rendered into unconsciousness.

Devon pulled into his driveway along with Kevin, drooling by his side, fast asleep. The driveway extended to the back of Devon’s house. He parked in front of his shed. Devon quickly carried Kevin from the van and into the shed, which he left unlocked that morning, knowing he would need quick access during the daylight hours. Twenty minutes had lapsed before Devon exited the shed. Once he locked the door, he returned to his vehicle. While driving to the hospital, Devon’s cell phone rang. As he did with all calls, he scanned the LCD display. DAVID.

“Hey babe,” Devon said with surprising ease.

“Hey babe, I know you only like to hook up in the ambulance

but I really want to see you tonight. I want you to come over for dinner.”

“Tonight?” This is the first time he asked me to visit his house. Does he know something? “Um, I might be able to. Can I call you in a few hours?” Devon asked, while pulling into the rear parking lot of Fawcett Memorial Hospital.

“Please,” David said, “I really want you to come over.”

“Yeah, I know,” Devon exited his van, “I promise, I’ll call. Okay?”

“You better.”

“I will.” Devon closed his cell phone. Damn fags. I might just need a blow-job after this. Erasing the thought from his mind, he continued to the service entrance of the hospital. Once inside, Devon displayed his security badge to the first kitchen employee spotted.

“Where’s the nearest phone?”

The employee pointed to her left at a door with a sign that read: KITCHEN MANAGER. Inside the office, alone, Devon picked up the phone and dialed Gregory’s cell phone number, which he obtained for an expensive on-line public record’s search.

“Mr. Walsh?”

“What’s wrong?” Gregory asked, after seeing Fawcett Memorial Hospital on his caller ID display.

“I’m afraid it’s your nephew, Kevin. We found your information in his wallet. He was involved in major bus accident.”

“Is he dead?”

“No. No, he’s being treated as we speak. You should come as soon as you can. His injuries are quite severe.”

“Perhaps you should have someone drive to the hospita—“

“I’m on the way.” Gregory said, cutting off the line.

Devon hung up the phone and exited the Kitchen Manager’s office. Once in his van, he drove to the emergency room parking lot. He calmly walked to the bench located adjacent to the ER entrance. Sitting, hoping his supervisor would not see him, he waited for Gregory’s Green Honda Accord to race into the parking lot.

The left side of Devon’s upper lip curled upward when he saw Gregory’s car. Gregory, not bothering to stop his engine, or close his door, leaped out of his car and ran for the entrance. Devon stopped him by placing his hand in the center of his chest.

“Mr. Walsh?”

“Yeah, my nephew, he’s hurt. Wait, why are you waiting for me. What the hell happened?” Gregory said, attempting to push his way forward into the emergency room.

“Mr. Walsh, please calm down. You nephew was just transferred to Tampa General Hospital. I was asked to meet you outside. Please, come with me.”

“Why?” Gregory asked as Devon placed his arm upon Gregory’s back, just like he did with Kevin.

“I was asked to drive you to Tampa.”

Inside Devon’s van, Gregory scrambled to find his seatbelt. As Devon drove out of the parking lot, Gregory turned toward Devon.

“Do I know you?” Gregory asked.

“No, I don’t think so, I just moved to Florida.”

“Since when do security guards drive people to hospitals? This is really fucking strange. I mean, what do you know? Was Kevin awake, did he say anything? Was he awake? Was he breathing on his own? Was he as—“

“Mr. Walsh, here,” Devon handed Gregory a bottle of water, “drink some of this, and please try to calm down.”

“Thanks.” Gregory sipped from the bottle.

“No problem.” Devon said as he continued to drive, hoping the increased dose of ATIVAN would take quick effect.

The ATIVAN succeeded in placing Gregory into a brief oblivion. Devon carried Gregory into his shed, like he did Kevin. This time he did not exit. This time he waited

inside, anticipating the opening of Gregory’s eyes.

“What the fuck, what happened? An accident?” Gregory asked, trying to move, but finding it difficult.

“No. Not an accident,” Devon said.

“Wait, why can’t I move?” Gregory asked, looking downward upon his body, taking notice of the duct tape, which bound him to the chair in which he sat. “What’s going on?” he asked again.

“It wasn’t an accident.” Devon said, walking closer to Gregory.

“There’s no windows, this isn’t an ambulance,” Gregory said.

“No, not a real ambulance. Pretty cool, yeah?” Devon asked, placing his hand upon an IV bag hanging from the ceiling, “It took almost a year to complete.”

Gregory then noticed that the IV bag Devon was holding was attached, via tubing, to a line connected to his bound nephews arm. Kevin, unconscious, was also bound, to an ambulance stretcher.

“Kevin! Kevin! I swear if you hurt him I’ll kill you!” Gregory said, while attempting to escape his confinement.

“You’ll kill me like you killed my father?” Devon asked.


“You heard me. Like you killed my father. Don’t remember me? Think hard asshole. You let me sit in the same chair you’re sitting now. I watched you run around like a stupid fuck trying to save my father from dying and you couldn’t do it. You didn’t do shit.”

“I remember, I remember,” Gregory said, beginning to breath more rapidly, “I do, I’m so sorry man, I really, really am. I was young, I was an army medic, not trained well enough, I did everything I could, I did, I really did, please don’t hurt Kevin, please—“

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Devon yelled, grabbing hold of the drip chamber attached to the IV tubing connected to Kevin’s arm.

“Please, man, don’t,” Gregory said.

“You know,” Devon said, while his hand traveled downward, embracing the IV tubing, “giving an IV is very safe. It’s very safe, as long you bleed the line of air.”

“Don’t,” Gregory said.

“Oh shit, I didn’t bleed the line,” Devon said, opening the line.

“Greg, is that you?” Kevin, now awake, asked, “hey, this isn’t Easter Seals.”

“Yeah,” Devon said, “that’s Greg, Kevin, and I’m about to ease his pain.”

“Hey, this really hurts, Greg. Something really hurts.” Kevin spoke his last words to Gregory, followed by violent convulsions, and drool.

“You’re so fucking dead.” Gregory said.

“Me?” Devon asked, walking toward Gregory with a fresh roll of duct tape in his left hand, “not today.”

After Devon sealed Gregory’s mouth with five layers of duct tape, completely surrounding his head, opened the shed door and was about to shut off the light.

“You know what, I’m going to leave the light on. So you can watch Kevin rot before you die,” Devon closed and locked the door of the shed.

While walking back to his house all Devon could think about was a scene from “Gone With The Wind.” After Scarlett killed a Union soldier she said: “Well I guess I’ve done murder. Well I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Why the hell am I thinking about Gone With The Wind, and Scarlett? Am I a fag or something?

Inside the house, Devon dialed David on his cell.

“Hey babe, what’s for dinner?”

Macro Dragonfly

05 Dec



Back to the Barre

05 Dec

Back to the Barre


Going Home

05 Dec

After endless miles of interstate, I have finally reached McMinnville, Tennessee. I immediately recognize the wagon wheels marking the entrance to a tree-lined lane. I follow the gravel stretch back to a semi-secluded cottage nestled in the heart of middle Tennessee. Exiting the car, I am greeted by a small black barking dog. I try to coax her to me. I even call her by name, but she stands back – barking. She follows me around to the rear of the house. Just past the wrap around deck – I see it – the rustic barn stocked with fishing rods, reels, and tackle for use at the bass-stocked pond. The air is filled with the sweet aroma of honeysuckle in full bloom. Rose bushes of every color are bursting with buds ready to blossom. The garden is a lush deep green. I spot large, juicy, green tomatoes and cucumbers that are almost ready for harvesting. Five acres of rolling green landscape display a sampling of the areas finest nursery stock from flowering shrubs to weeping willow and blue spruce pine trees. I wander through the back door of the small house. Everything is just as I remembered it. Approaching the front room, a lump forms in my throat. There is the bar. I run my hand across the smooth lacquered finish. Then I notice the t.v., resting on a shelf that is mounted from the ceiling in the corner. A replica of the Budweiser Clydesdale team and wagon are proudly displayed next to a Coor’s Light clock. It is a miniature version of my childhood home – the small town bar my parents owned for forty years. I try to hold back. I can’t stop the salty flood of tears streaming down my cheeks. My husband holds me tight and I cry longer and harder than I have ever cried before. This was the vacation destination I chose for my family that 4th of July. Instead of a relaxing week in the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau, I am here to bury my father.