cc&d magazine (1993-2017)

Lost in America
cc&d magazine
v269, March 2017
Internet ISSN 1555-1555, print ISSN 1068-5154

cc&d magazine

Table of Contents




(the passionate stuff)

Linda M. Crate an awkward dance
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz Gesture drawing
Linda M. Crate fight like a woman
Holly Day Falling, Flying
The Survivors
R. N. Taber Bending Nature’s Ear or G-A-Y,
     As The Wind Blows

Towards a Coming of Age
David Russell Diseased Tree photography
CEE Cleansing vs. Control
Bonnie Lambeth Starlight
Simon Perchik untitled (hush)
untitled (tree)
Kyle Hemmings trees photography
I.B. Rad Lost in America
Aaron Wilder L’Americain painting
I.B. Rad Road Kill
Rose E. Grier In Bed With art
Drew Marshall Legal Tenderness
Michael Lee Johnson Flight of the Eagle
Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz Eagle One art
Marc Livanos Walk with Pride
Ken Allan Dronsfield Empty Silence
Wes Heine 10985447 photography
Richard Schnap Open Mic
Michael Ceraolo Things Found in Books
Stefan Benz new and free
Üzeyir Lokman Çayci ART-GAT-KUC art
John Yotko haiku (burn)
David Michael Jackson 0026 painting
Erren Geraud Kelly Maureen
Patrick Fealey Heather drawing
Brian Looney The Antagonizing Spirit
Richard White Run Boy Run
Rose E. Grier Same Feet photography
Alicia Berdeguez The Battle of Kitchen Pointe
Janet Kuypers newspaper ink’s the blood of a dying species
David J. Thompson 026 photography
Janet Kuypers Quieted Soul

performance art


(1 poem from the 6/4/16 Austin show “Love in the Universe”)

Janet Kuypers Pluto, Plutonium & Death



(the meat & potatoes stuff)

Charles Hayes Where I Will Not Go
School House Perspective
J. Charles Furman Well Mate?
Tremont Charlie The Perfect Heist
Patrick Fealey Nuclear Reaction
Nora McDonald The Wind from Nowhere
Justin Hunter Scars
Janet Kuypers Scars
Phil Temples Running Man
Ronald Charles Epstein TCM Star of the Month-Shirley Temple
     (July 2015)
Donal Mahoney An Immodest Proposal
Bernard Otto Smit and Williams
the HA!Man of South Africa Trunk drawing

lunchtime poll topic


(commentaries on relevant topics)

CEE Anarchist Bomb Stereotype

philosophy monthly


(justify your existence)

Charles Hayes Honesty

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the passionate stuff

an awkward dance

Linda M. Crate

i think it’s time for tea
and pleasantries
we will see
if i can be peace and tranquility
in the eye of the storm i
would rather drown
you in,
but as we’re both going to be a part
of the same wedding party
and i don’t want to ruin her day
i will try to play nice;
but one misstep
and i might lose it
could send you flying into the fountain
with a backhand i should’ve given you four
years ago—
time prattles on that this was so long ago
that i should just forget,
but i wasn’t engineered that way;
i am the girl that remembers every scar
and they’re never something
you should give to someone you claim to love
as you claimed to love me—
i am a day dream or a nightmare
the choice is yours,
but if you choose to dance with my devils
they’ll drown you
use your own lust against you and chisel your heart
straight from your chest.

Linda M. Crate Bio

    Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. Her third novel Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016.

Gesture, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Gesture, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

fight like a woman

Linda M. Crate

i fight like a woman
will build up
before i tear down,
but if you cause me to be a crescendo
of any phoenix flame
i will burn you far past the point
of ashes;
your ego will be decimated in my wake
for i have no time for games
or simpering fools
who know all the right things to say
yet never know what to do
as their heads are far too up thier own asses
for them to realize that their crap does
have a stench—
my heart is a weapon of war
try to wound me,
and i will gnaw you down to the bone
will ricochet all blasts given to me and let the insults
roll off my back
because even you worst couldn’t wound me now;
i am stronger than you’ll ever know
will never seek my revenge
i am above that and i know karma will hit you harder than i
ever could.

Linda M. Crate Bio

    Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. Her third novel Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016.

Falling, Flying

Holly Day

Strapped to her body, weighing not nearly enough
to make the sunrise it did when she hit
the mushroom cloud that lit up the desert for miles around
it would have been beautiful if anyone
had been left to see it.

She opened her eyes
just as the dots became cars on the road
people in the street
tiny, white blocks became buildings and houses
an end she did not want to see.

The wind dragged against her, but not enough
to stop her fall, just enough
to pull roughly at her hair, to open the top button of her shirt
with fingers as cold and rough as death.
It was like sunrise when she hit, if the sun
could erupt from the middle of the earth, instead of rising around the edge of it
could pour out of broken concrete like a an angry phoenix

this was the end she would never see.

video still jumping out of an airplane; copyright 2007-2017 Janet Kuypers

Holly Day short bio

    Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota since 2000. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and The Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in New Ohio Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

The Survivors

Holly Day

His arms reach out, fingers drag
him up through six feet of dirt. Eyes pick stone angels
out against the starlight
as dead flesh curls and writhes, adjusting to the summer air.

He stumbles across the graveyard, following
the scant clues of an end he doesn’t remember.
There was a woman with a bomb strapped to her chest
packets of explosives bright red beneath her jacket.
Flashes of sunrise surface, as if from a dream
the agony of moist flesh pulled away by the force
white bones poking through. No more.

There was a bright yellow schoolbus in that flash
he doesn’t remember. He’s grateful
he can’t remember. There is peace in oblivion, surrender.
Around him, other things
are pulling themselves out of their graves, each
with a horrible memory to bury. It was like sunrise when she exploded

his arm is burned through, even now, beneath the plaster.
It cracks when he moves it, it wasn’t made
for movement. The skies broke open to let in the blaze
clouds boiled, red and black
that’s a good enough place to end.

schoolbuses image copyright 2007-2017 Janet Kuypers

Holly Day short bio

    Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota since 2000. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and The Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in New Ohio Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

Bending Nature’s Ear
or G-A-Y, As The Wind Blows

Copyright R. N. Taber 2016

I’d let squirrels swinging upside down
on a washing line
into certain secrets I preferred to keep
from family and friends

I’d tell next door’s cat touching base
with its favourite haunts
how it’s a shame many humans so love
pass judgement on others

I’d hold forth to a vixen watching cubs
venturing into the open
on humankind’s fetish for hypocritical
hearts and minds

I’d confide in the sun, moon, and stars
that many Earth folk
might well be happier for engaging less
in one upmanship

I’d commune with nature and company
about divided societies
more likely to fight over any differences
than respect them

Finally, I got around to telling the wind
I am gay and to pass it on;
if all nature can live with that, humanity
can take or leave it

Towards a Coming of Age

Copyright R. N. Taber

Darling buds of spring
remain closed in the branches
of a tree, once climbed
by the child I was

Your letters, unopened
in a drawer

Diseased Tree, art by David Russell

Diseased Tree, art by David Russell

Cleansing vs. Control


Cosby, 1971, on Cavett
Holding forth on racial bigotry
Offering caveat of
This Will Always Exist
As if there is any deviation
From any template, no matter
Universality soufflé,
Assuming One individual
Deviating in One way
Well...we aren’t all “one”, then
Are we?
So, stone him...
Fine, if anything ever was final
If Family Service agencies
Ever actually took kids away
For mere, “you ain’t the norm”
Family Services, don’t play that
Just insist on being doting Gramma
Subpoena in her pocket,
They don’t want your kids
Like banks don’t want your house
They just wanta refuse loans
Perhaps rearrange paperclips,
Family Services, just want robots
Striking pose of scripted behavior
“Just be the template, for just one minute”

Stoning you, would be doing something
The State expects YOU to do something


Bonnie Lambeth

Every time I hurt I survive.
This time shouldn’t be any different.
I’ve sang this song before,
I’ve done this dance before,
yet these emotions are still
so raw and this wound still bleeds
I forget that I’ve been through this
routine before,
it feels like my first
depressive swing all over again.
It’s the same redundant routine -
I WILL get past this round of hurting
just like every time before,
but like my previous matches,
I’m doubting my resilience.
I have the pieces of
my shattered psyche
broken up into millions
of pieces by these turbulent swings
resting in my hands
shards so sharp they’re
cutting into my skin
my palms are bleeding.
This swing has packed quite a punch
my spirit has been beaten
beyond recognition.
It certainly feels
like I’m dead inside -
unlike previous rounds
with Depressive Bipolar,
I noticed something new this time.
upon closer inspection
I see a tiny spark
at the center of my soul
still sparking up a storm
under all this emotional debris-
if I can just find a way to
reach it
I can reignite these flames again.
But how?
I’ve checked my surroundings
so many times for solutions
my eyes are worn out.
It’s time to look somewhere else.
When I can’t figure out an answer
on land,
I direct my gaze up to the stars.
Everything on our planet Earth
holds at least
a small percentage of the
particles left behind by
our Universe’s stars,
including me.
I often feel them move around
my insides,
bumping into each other
bouncing off the walls of
each organ.
Perhaps that’s why
I thrive in starlight.
When I’m beneath a
clear night sky in summertime -
I feel a sense of dejavu -
Maybe there’s a piece of my past spirit
resonating on a celestial body
millions upon millions of years away
but when I’m looking up in the
right place at the right time -
it’s able to call out to me to say hello
and reconnect just for a brief moment.
So here’s a thought:
I feel so safe conversing with my stars
why not fill these cracks from my hurting with their remnants?
Time to cast my net out
into the midnight abyss-
fishing for the dust my stars
leave behind.
I can take these shards in my
bleeding palms
rearranging each piece into
emotional constellations
filling the cracks
with a sturdy mixture of
molten silver and the stardust
I’ve collected,
creating a
sparkling masterpiece with
a celestial silver lining
carefully stored in
the golden rims of my irises.
I’ll take the dust of the things
I love the most
mixing it in with
the rest of me,
to create another
source of starlight than
just the sky -
now I have a source of starlight
coming from within myself as well.
Now I hold a psyche composed of
broken pieces held together
with a celestial silver lining -
I don’t just thrive in the starlight.
I thrive in just being myself.

untitled (hush)

Simon Perchik

A simple hush and the moon
loses direction, smells
from skid marks and nausea

wants to change places
end up on your shoulders
the way a sobbing child

uses height to forget
be near where the others are
and sideways, this way and that

–you calm this gravestone
as if not enough darkness
could stop in time, went on

to become evenings
and all these lighthouses
abandoned, hardly turning

lit by this single shoreline
led across as rocks
and the afternoons inside.

About Simon Perchik

    Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at

untitled (tree)

Simon Perchik

This branch climbs past you
the way a breeze spreads out
warmed by roots and feathers

–that’s why when you look down
the fruit changes its colors
sweetened with leaves and eyes

that are all alike though the tree
no longer feeds on slower trees
or regrets the choice it made

–its wood still rises, is sure
water will come and wings
still possible, not yet too heavy

from after so much death
so much dirt to shade
and already underway.

About Simon Perchik

    Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at

trees, art by Kyle Hemmings

trees, art by Kyle Hemmings

Lost in America

I.B. Rad

Praise God
“discovered” America
so its native inhabitants
could at least identify
where they lived.

L’Americain, painting by Aaron Wilder

L’Americain, painting by Aaron Wilder

Road Kill

I.B. Rad

Along life’s superhighway
lie the shattered corpses
of those not quick enough
or willing
to dart aside.
To mend those battered psyches,
no paramedics will arrive,
for on this desolate stretch
only gawking tourists
are flying by,
leaving a wing or two
of what was once a life
fluttering in the breeze.

image copyright 2013-2017 Janet Kuypers


I.B. Rad

Taken literally,
one meaning for ratfucking
is two amatory rats copulating,
another alludes to dirty tricks
played on a political opponent;
the first ends
with more rodents
plaguing our cities,
the second
still more rats
infesting our governments.


* Term attributed to a Nixon political operative

In Bed With, art by Rose E. Grier

In Bed With, art by Rose E. Grier

Legal Tenderness

Drew Marshall

Fourteen years as a litigation-paralegal
Employed at a Wall Street firm
Several years later
At the Corporation Council

In theory
The law fascinated me
The realities
Were a different story

A trial attorney told me
The law is a crap-shoot
Play your cards
Roll the dice

The law
Is what the trial judge says it is

Flight of the Eagle

Michael Lee Johnson

  From the dawn, dusty skies
comes the time when
the eagle flies-
without thought,
without aid of wind,
like a kite detached without string,
the eagle in flight leaves no traces,
no trails, no roadways-
never a feather drops
out of the sky.

about Michael Lee Johnson

    Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 880 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites. Author’s website Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN: 978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems (available for sale online as an ISBN# book with a “day” cover and with a “night” cover). He also has over 92 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015:
    Michael Lee Johnson was nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015. Visit his Facebook Poetry Group and join
    He is also the editor/publisher of anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze:

Eagle One, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Eagle One, art by Edward Michael O’Durr Supranowicz

Walk with Pride

Marc Livanos a/k/a Panhandle Poet

I admire her honesty,
judgment, restraint.

I look up to her,
never averting my eyes.

She’s looked up to
but questioned.

Family says
come out, tell all.

Homosexual ways
need be declared.

should be known.

Sexual practices
must be judged.

How’s that
your business?

Loving oneself is straight,
not a direction.

Protected by law,
if not family, I pray:

in due time
in due time

Empty Silence

Ken Allan Dronsfield

leaf strewn empty lot
little children absent
numbers in color chalk
laughs from yesterday.
bike rack bent & twisted
fences missing and rust
kids watch from the steps
question looks, zero trust
police car resting, tireless
oak tree darkened by fire
windows smashed, silence
ode to those fallen, lifeless.

Ken Allan Dronsfield Bio

    Ken Allan Dronsfield is a published poet and author originally from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms, walking in the woods at night, and spending time with his cats Merlin and Willa. He is the co-editor of the new poetry anthology titled, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze available at His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues including: The Burningword Journal, Indiana Voice Journal, The Literary Hatchet Magazine, Belle Reve Journal, Peeking Cat Magazine, Dead Snakes, Bewildering Stories, Aquill Relle, Members Anthology, Book 6, Literature Today, Volume 5, Poetic Melodies Anthology, Creative Talents Unleashed,  and many others.

10985447, photography by Wes Heine

10985447, photography by Wes Heine

Open Mic

Richard Schnap

The first poet read
A flyer he’d found
Describing somebody’s lost cat

The second poet read
A diary entry
Discovered in the back of a thrift store

The third poet read
A popular tabloid
Detailing a celebrity’s suicide

The fourth poet read
A birthday card sent
By his aunt who had died of cancer

The fifth poet read
A note of rejection
From a prestigious literary journal

And the last poet read
A letter that said
His fiancée had found someone else

Things Found in Books

Michael Ceraolo


The Federalist Papers
Bantam Classic Edition
published February 1982,
a note on the inside of the front cover
(in red)
dated February 2000,
addressed to a David
from his brother Ed
wishing him the best of luck
in his political pursuits
and offering the book as advice
No last names,
one can only wonder if David
did indeed pursue a political career,
if he did so,
if anything,
he took from the book 
before he recycled it


The Holy Sinner
by Thomas Mann,
copyright 1951
by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
The signature of a Jack Peterson
with a 74 underneath it
(the year of his high school
or college graduation?)
In purchasing the book
I struck up a conversation
with the owner of the bookstore,
who said he was the same Jack Peterson
(I didn’t ask about the number),
that when he first opened the bookstore
way back in 1988,
he didn’t have
nearly enough books to fill the shelves
so he augmented his inventory
with a number of books from his personal library,
this one among them


A Fan’s Notes
by Frederick Exley
Vintage Contemporaries Edition
September 1988
was an airline ticket
from USA 3000 Airlines
for a Mr. Brian Starrfield
Flight #109
Boarding at 8:15 AM
at Gate E-8
(no date noted)
Seat 16 D
Destination CUN
(which I learned was the designation
for Cancun, Mexico)
I don’t know if Mr. Starrfield
actually used this ticket,
if he did,
I hope
he had a nice vacation


The Selected Writings of Salvatore Quasimodo
First Noonday Paperbound Edition 1961
And inside was the card of Newell B. Walters,
Consultant on Teacher Welfare
for the Office of Professional Development and Welfare
of the National Education Association of the United States,
1201 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington 6, D.C.
Was Mr. Walters using his card as a bookmark,
or had someone else taken or been given his card
to mull over whether to use his professional services?
And did either of the potential readers
actually read Quasimodo?

book stack copyright 2002-2017 Janet Kuypers

new and free

Stefan Benz

new and free, the day.
a life worth unknowing.

wake up, worm, there is earth
to shuffle through, suck and

spit out. shit until flowers bloom and
birds eat you up like you lived enough to

be eaten alive with deserving gusto.
brood, there is so much more earth than there

is day. and the night will never see you
wriggling, gutted carelessly by beasts

of heaven. soul, a wonderful illusion
dreamt of once or twice again, while

dying. keep your eyes out for spades. they
might cut you free & into more.

ART-GAT-KUC, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci

ART-GAT-KUC, art by Üzeyir Lokman Çayci

haiku (burn)

John Yotko

A day in the park
Nuclear winter’s first sun
My skin starts to burn

0026, painting by David Michael Jackson

0026, painting by David Michael Jackson


Erren Geraud Kelly

Maueen took my computer discs
And put them in the garbage disposal
Threw my clothes out the window
They fit better on branches of trees
Told her sons “men are pigs,”
Then found another one to ride

All because I couldn’t drive a 
Stick shift

Heather, drawing by Patrick Fealey

Heather, drawing by Patrick Fealey

The Antagonizing Spirit

Brian Looney

Back in grade school,
second or third grade,
our classroom was invaded
by an overpowering
aroma, whose body
grew so pungent
I could feel it
crowd my face,
coddling the

The day progressed,
the stench increased,
until the teacher
told us that a
“kitty had
been trapped
beneath the cubicle,”
it had died,
and the smell
should “go away
in a couple days
or so.”

We took some air at recess,
which only served to
weaken us the more,
for upon re-entry,
we had to fight
the rot afresh,
to re-embrace it,
so to speak.

And in a couple days
or so, we grew
accustomed to the
presence of decay,
for it was a Presence,
creamy clear and milky thick,
a chalky, putrid cloud,
which coated our pubescent tongues,
shattered our arithmetic,
invoked our prime detention,
while the teacher coughed
and frowned and
sprayed a stream
of air refresher,
and how she cupped her hand
across her mouth and nose
and whipped her right arm
violently, so that
seabreeze scent affected
every student equally;
but all it really
did was marry
the antagonizing spirit,
for that is what it was.

Run Boy RunRun Boy Run

Richard White

Run Boy, Run
Melanin, Sun
To live outside of the Pen
May be to die by the gun
Don’t know where you’re going
Don’t know where you come from
Divine Powers in the mind
Can run free through your tongue
Run free from the Barrio, free from the Slums
Free of the Gangsta’s, Goons, the Greed
Free of the Guns
Follow your own tune and you can go -drums
Follow your own tune and you can go -drums
Run Boy -Run, Run Boy -Run, Run Boy -Run,
Must learn to dig tunnel, vision yourself at the end – Begin
Lesser men sin, while greater man win
No matter how loud the winds may howl
The mountain will never bend -Zen
Only take a knee when Thou bows before your Lord
Never a weapon formed shall be mightier than your sword
Remember you were lied to
By those who wish to blind you
It is not the Light, but the Darkness you’ll get lost in
It is not to live life, to be boxed in -Coffins....
Seal bodies, not fate, it’s never too late for change
Run free of the chains Strange Fruit
Tamed Roots makes for strained Troops
Many Men have died, Genocide
Women tried to lead
Infiltrated villages, Women hide your seed
New God, Religion, Language, must learn to read to be freed
From shackles upon the feet -Defeat
Enemy made sheep of Man who put iron to Lions for meat
Families eat, we’re asleep
Run Boy -Run
We’re complacent and weak
Run Boy -Run
Never show the other cheek -repeat
Run Boy -Run
Never show the other cheek
Command, demand, be a man when you speak
Educate self, your son’s wealth will be in what you teach
Their God is found in what you preach
Run Boy -Run
We have higher mountain peaks to reach
Run Boy -Run
There’s a war going on
Run Boy -Run
Seek shelter from the storm
Run Boy -Run
Tell your story, there is glory in your poem
You are Hungry -Poet
You are Warrior -Poet, Spit Fire
Run Boy -Run
Like you are chasing your Birth Right
No retreat, no surrender, remember
They have done everything to ensure your children aren’t birthed right
Fight... or Run
But keep moving forward
War waged against us, never run from it, run towards it
Soldiers die, but so do slaves
There’s a difference in dying in pain and dying in vain
There’s a difference in riding the train and finding your name
Run Boy -Run
Know the difference between bend til you crack and peddling crack
There’s a difference between skills that you lack and skin being black
Run Boy -Run
We will not be held asunder, Black is the clap of thunder
In blood and tears we drown, Black, Brown may fall like Autumns
But we rise to survive infinite summers
Black is not, the color of sin
That is a colorblind notion
Just like Black Men can’t swim, it’s because we run across oceans
Run Boy -Run
Until the pressure rips through your chest
Run Boy -Run
Until the soul emerges from the flesh
Until nothing is left but God, Staff and Rod
Be Armed, Harm is upon the horizon
They wish to strip you of you
Rewrite and retell who you are to your children’s, children’s children
Villains bleed the same blood
But cannot be camouflaged by the same mud
Knights fall, but it’s only dark when Sun don’t shine
Time -is of the essence, Fear -is their only weapon
I am not afraid to hang, not afraid to die fighting
I only fear dying in silence
I will riot, I will run, I will scream, I will run, I will die,
I will bleed, I will succeed, I will achieve, I will lead
I will die, I will live, I will die, I will run
Never break, not to escape, but give chase
Face to face for every rape, every hanging, for the plaguing, the enslaving
For the tainting, for the taking
For my daughters, I’m reclaiming
I will run, we will run -Run
Run Boy -Run
Run, until behind you, all that is left standing......are our sons

Same Feet, photography by Rose E. Grier

Same Feet, photography by Rose E. Grier

The Battle of Kitchen Pointe

Alicia Berdeguez

He looks at me with eyes like
daggers and carves insults
into my arms and legs when
I try to take a bite. A shot fires
across a long, wooden table
as if it were a damp battle ground,
brought inside and slightly civilized.
It seems the distance between
us is expanding as the words roll
off of my tongue and into the barrel
aimed just inches from his nose.
He knows exactly which exits to
bar when I run for cover and push
past empty threats towards the border-
line that lies in the deep base of our
hidden banquet room. I’ve prepared
meals here before but never with
ingredients like this. Cyanide and
casserole, salted with sarcasm and
murmurs of affection. The cannon
fires again and I check that I’m not
bleeding. No need to retaliate. The
reinforcements should be here soon
if I could just remember how to dial 911.

newspaper ink’s the blood
               of a dying species

Janet Kuypers

Sitting in those basement labs,
the hum of computer workstations
accompanied my thoughts.

Time was ticking, deadlines darted,
but I was used to the daily deadline —
the rush to be on time was my nicotine.

I’d slam my hands, my fingers
into those keyboards so every newspaper
would know my side of the story.

I would keep copies of my work,
in nine point type, two inch wide columns.
But newspaper pages are thin as tissue.

I can’t hold my work in this form forever,
not like this, the ink smudges and disappears
whenever anyone touches the page.

Maybe this is the disintegration
of the written word, now that everyone
prefers reading the news from their phones

and tablets. Besides, they want to read
on their commuter train to work; newspaper ink
could smudge onto their crisp white shirts.


Journalism is a dying art. Millennials
think that using your smart phone
and texting what anyone blurts out is news,

so they post their nonsense on every
electronic medium they can find.
Besides, with the prices they pay for phones

so they can Google every question they have
and not have to retain any answers,
texting and data better be free.

Not like those newspapers, not the tabloid
ones, but the ones that you have to
spread your arms out to read. You know,

those cumbersome ones. The ones
that make you feel like they have something
worth saying, because it’s something of value.


This is what I loved. I loved being able
to make a statement on a printed page
and have it delivered to the town’s front doors.

I’d open my front door, then open my daily paper,
just like the one delivered to every front door,
to open the pages wide, and then find what’s mine.


“Why bother remembering stories or the news
when you can reference it in archive online?”
Well, you may be right, it may seem convenient —

but it’s inconvenient to search for the stories
in the first place, and anyway, I still contend
that it’s better for your eyes,

and maybe your brain, ‘cause you can retain
information on a page. I know, I know...
The newspaper’s a dying species. It’s a dying art.

But the oils, the pigments that make the ink,
they make our blood. Understand this.
And if you ever grab a newspaper again,

if any ink smudges onto your fingers, well,
rub it in. Let it get into your bones, because
this stuff’s in our blood, and it gives us life.

video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 2/26/16 (Cps) of Janet Kuypers reading her 2 new poems Life got in the Way & newspaper ink’s the blood of a dying species, and her Periodic Table poem Tin at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s.
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 2/26/16 (N) of Janet Kuypers reading her 2 new poems Life got in the Way & newspaper ink’s the blood of a dying species, and her Periodic Table poem Tin at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s.
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her 3 poems Precinct Fourteen, Philosopher at the Blue Note and newspaper ink’s the blood of a dying species 7/31/16 at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (this video was filmed from a Canon Power Shot camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her 3 poems Precinct Fourteen, Philosopher at the Blue Note and newspaper ink’s the blood of a dying species 7/31/16 at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (this video was filmed from a Sony camera).

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.

026, photography by David J. Thompson

026, photography by David J. Thompson

Quieted Soul

Janet Kuypers

Drop you in a strange house
                in a strange land.
Have a seat, they say relax, enjoy.
                But you feel so tense,
you don’t know which way to turn
                and the house is hollow
because only your soul will make it
                a home. So the Sun
beats down, and you’re at a loss,
                not knowing what to do.
So you slowly sit down, catch
                patches of grass
in your peripheral vision, wonder
                what steps you can take
so you can build a ladder to the sky
                & turn down that damn
Sun, ‘cause with the sun so strong
                on this foreign soil
it scorches the streets and strips
                the life from our souls.
So sit here stoically as the Sun stares
                at this strange home,
search for ways to quench that
                quieted soul once more.

video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poem (that she wrote there, just before the reading) Quieted Soul at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s 3/25/16 (Canon PS camera, w/ a Posterize filter).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poem (that she wrote there, just before the reading) Quieted Soul at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s 3/25/16 (Canon PS camera, Threshold filter).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video 3/25/16 of Janet Kuypers reading her poem (that she wrote there, just before the reading) Quieted Soul at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s (Nikon CooPix S7000, Edge Detection filter).
video videonot yet rated

See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her poem (that she wrote there, just before the reading) Quieted Soul at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s 3/25/16 (Nikon CooPix S7000; Hue Cycling filter).
video not yet rated
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers’ 3 poems Deity Discipline, You Can’t Tell and a poem she wrote there, just before reading, Quieted Soul, and then she closed by reading the Ai poem The Good Shepherd at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s 3/25/16 (filmed from a Canon Power Shot camera).
video video
See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers’ 3 poems Deity Discipline, You Can’t Tell and a poem she wrote there, just before reading, Quieted Soul, and then she closed by reading the Ai poem The Good Shepherd at Georgetown’s Poetry Plus open mic at Cianfrani’s 3/25/16 (video filmed from a Nikon CooPix S7000 camera).

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.


performance art
(1 poem from the 6/4/16 Austin show “Love in the Universe”)

Pluto, Plutonium & Death

Janet Kuypers
Periodic Table of Poetry bonus poem, written 4/10/16 (#94, Pu)

“My kingdom is the underworld,”
you could imagine the King Pluto
from ancient Greek mythology say,

and an eleven year old English girl
thought this was the perfect name
for a planet surrounded by darkness.

And for decades the rogue, this
rebellious quote unquote planet
had a different orbit from its brethren,

crossed paths with brother Neptune,
was otherwise one that didn’t quite
fit in. Maybe that’s why the big boy

club of astronomers kicked Pluto out,
said you’re not good enough
to be one of us. But shrouded in death

seems to be the theme for Pluto. ..
Man-made element ninety four
is not naturally occurring, but only existing

after smashing heavy water (deuterium)
into Uranium. And for those of you
with any nuclear know-how, you know

that whatever Uranium smashing makes
has to be crazy dangerous.        And it is.
Since Plutonium has been on the scene

since 1940, the only thing we’ve known
it for is for the nuclear bomb,
the fat boy that blew up Nagasaki.

Great legacy, Plutonium,
you first carried the torch
of death and destruction

before Pluto itself was demoted
from planet status. When the fight
for Pluto first came to light,
even little children wrote letters

to protest, don’t kill this
dark mystery, they pleaded.
Because even little children

are fascinated with the
the concept, especially because
it seems so far away.

I look around me now,
I see the destruction
we bring upon ourselves:

Christians bombing abortion clinics.
Muslims shrouding women
and beheading non-believers.

Chicago gangs shooting some
in retribution for more shooting.
The violence doesn’t end.

But the darkness, the death,
that seems to be ruled
by the planet / non-planet

named from Greek mythology,
and the element whose only
function we humans know

is complete annihilation.
How fitting that Pluto and Plutonium
are forever locked in this deadly dance.

video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/7/16 show “Love in the Universe” in her first scheduled feature at Expressions 2016: Reasons to be Cheerful in Austin (Cps), first singing (with John singing and on guitar) the Depeche Mode song The Bottom Line (with altered chorus lyrics for heir wedding), then with her poems Pluto, Plutonium & Death (a bonus Periodic Table poem), her haiku universe, observer’s love poem (2016 edit), everything is my home, Wanted To Play, and electricity.
video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers in her 5/7/16 show “Love in the Universe” in her first scheduled feature at Expressions 2016: Reasons to be Cheerful in Austin (Sony), first singing (with John singing and on guitar) the Depeche Mode song The Bottom Line (with altered chorus lyrics for heir wedding), then with her poems Pluto, Plutonium & Death (a bonus Periodic Table poem), her haiku universe, observer’s love poem (2016 edit), everything is my home, Wanted To Play, and electricity.
the “Love in the Universe” 5/7/16 chapbook
Download all of the show poems in the free chapbook
Love in the Universe
5/7/16 at Expressions 2016: Reasons to be Cheerful show in Austin
video video See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers saying her twitter-length poem “Juxtaposition, or Irony?” in conversation, then reading her poems “Pluto, Plutonium & Death”, “Your Minions are Dying” and “Salesman” 10/23/16 at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (Canon Power Shot camera).
video not yet rated See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers saying her twitter-length poem “Juxtaposition, or Irony?” in conversation, then reading her poems “Pluto, Plutonium & Death”, “Your Minions are Dying” and “Salesman” 10/23/16 at the Austin open mic Kick Butt Poetry (from a Sony camera).

Janet Kuypers Bio

    Janet Kuypers has a Communications degree in News/Editorial Journalism (starting in computer science engineering studies) from the UIUC. She had the equivalent of a minor in photography and specialized in creative writing. A portrait photographer for years in the early 1990s, she was also an acquaintance rape workshop facilitator, and she started her publishing career as an editor of two literary magazines. Later she was an art director, webmaster and photographer for a few magazines for a publishing company in Chicago, and this Journalism major was even the final featured poetry performer of 15 poets with a 10 minute feature at the 2006 Society of Professional Journalism Expo’s Chicago Poetry Showcase. This certified minister was even the officiant of a wedding in 2006.
    She sang with acoustic bands “Mom’s Favorite Vase”, “Weeds and Flowers” and “the Second Axing”, and does music sampling. Kuypers is published in books, magazines and on the internet around 9,300 times for writing, and over 17,800 times for art work in her professional career, and has been profiled in such magazines as Nation and Discover U, won the award for a Poetry Ambassador and was nominated as Poet of the Year for 2006 by the International Society of Poets. She has also been highlighted on radio stations, including WEFT (90.1FM), WLUW (88.7FM), WSUM (91.7FM), WZRD (88.3FM), WLS (8900AM), the internet radio stations ArtistFirst dot com,’s Poetry World Radio and Scars Internet Radio (SIR), and was even shortly on Q101 FM radio. She has also appeared on television for poetry in Nashville (in 1997), Chicago (in 1997), and northern Illinois (in a few appearances on the show for the Lake County Poets Society in 2006). Kuypers was also interviewed on her art work on Urbana’s WCIA channel 3 10 o’clock news.
    She turned her writing into performance art on her own and with musical groups like Pointless Orchestra, 5D/5D, The DMJ Art Connection, Order From Chaos, Peter Bartels, Jake and Haystack, the Bastard Trio, and the JoAnne Pow!ers Trio, and starting in 2005 Kuypers ran a monthly iPodCast of her work, as well mixed JK Radio — an Internet radio station — into Scars Internet Radio (both radio stations on the Internet air 2005-2009). She even managed the Chaotic Radio show (an hour long Internet radio show 1.5 years, 2006-2007) through and She has performed spoken word and music across the country - in the spring of 1998 she embarked on her first national poetry tour, with featured performances, among other venues, at the Albuquerque Spoken Word Festival during the National Poetry Slam; her bands have had concerts in Chicago and in Alaska; in 2003 she hosted and performed at a weekly poetry and music open mike (called Sing Your Life), and from 2002 through 2005 was a featured performance artist, doing quarterly performance art shows with readings, music and images.
    Since 2010 Kuypers also hosts the Chicago poetry open mic at the Café Gallery, while also broadcasting the Cafés weekly feature podcasts (and where she sometimes also performs impromptu mini-features of poetry or short stories or songs, in addition to other shows she performs live in the Chicago area).
    In addition to being published with Bernadette Miller in the short story collection book Domestic Blisters, as well as in a book of poetry turned to prose with Eric Bonholtzer in the book Duality, Kuypers has had many books of her own published: Hope Chest in the Attic, The Window, Close Cover Before Striking, (woman.) (spiral bound), Autumn Reason (novel in letter form), the Average Guy’s Guide (to Feminism), Contents Under Pressure, etc., and eventually The Key To Believing (2002 650 page novel), Changing Gears (travel journals around the United States), The Other Side (European travel book), the three collection books from 2004: Oeuvre (poetry), Exaro Versus (prose) and L’arte (art), The Boss Lady’s Editorials, The Boss Lady’s Editorials (2005 Expanded Edition), Seeing Things Differently, Change/Rearrange, Death Comes in Threes, Moving Performances, Six Eleven, Live at Cafe Aloha, Dreams, Rough Mixes, The Entropy Project, The Other Side (2006 edition), Stop., Sing Your Life, the hardcover art book (with an editorial) in cc&d v165.25, the Kuypers edition of Writings to Honour & Cherish, The Kuypers Edition: Blister and Burn, S&M, cc&d v170.5, cc&d v171.5: Living in Chaos, Tick Tock, cc&d v1273.22: Silent Screams, Taking It All In, It All Comes Down, Rising to the Surface, Galapagos, Chapter 38 (v1 and volume 1), Chapter 38 (v2 and Volume 2), Chapter 38 v3, Finally: Literature for the Snotty and Elite (Volume 1, Volume 2 and part 1 of a 3 part set), A Wake-Up Call From Tradition (part 2 of a 3 part set), (recovery), Dark Matter: the mind of Janet Kuypers , Evolution, Adolph Hitler, O .J. Simpson and U.S. Politics, the one thing the government still has no control over, (tweet), Get Your Buzz On, Janet & Jean Together, po•em, Taking Poetry to the Streets, the Cana-Dixie Chi-town Union, the Written Word, Dual, Prepare Her for This, uncorrect, Living in a Big World (color interior book with art and with “Seeing a Psychiatrist”), Pulled the Trigger (part 3 of a 3 part set), Venture to the Unknown (select writings with extensive color NASA/Huubble Space Telescope images), Janet Kuypers: Enriched, She’s an Open Book, “40”, Sexism and Other Stories, the Stories of Women, Prominent Pen (Kuypers edition), Elemental, the paperback book of the 2012 Datebook (which was also released as a spiral-bound cc&d ISSN# 2012 little spiral datebook, , Chaotic Elements, and Fusion, the (select) death poetry book Stabity Stabity Stab Stab Stab, the 2012 art book a Picture’s Worth 1,000 words (available with both b&w interior pages and full color interior pages, the shutterfly ISSN# cc& hardcover art book life, in color, Post-Apocalyptic, Burn Through Me, Under the Sea (photo book), the Periodic Table of Poetry, a year long Journey, Bon Voyage!, and the mini books Part of my Pain, Let me See you Stripped, Say Nothing, Give me the News, when you Dream tonight, Rape, Sexism, Life & Death (with some Slovak poetry translations), Twitterati, and 100 Haikus, that coincided with the June 2014 release of the two poetry collection books Partial Nudity and Revealed.


the meat and potatoes stuff

Where I Will Not Go

Charles Hayes

    I hadn’t seen Roger Pines for more than twenty years when I was called to his death bed. We had been in the Vietnam War together and had come from the same small town atop one of the mountains of the Southern Appalachians. Roger became a hero during the war when he received the Silver Star for carrying the body of his platoon commander through heavy fire to safety. That allowed him to return home with a top job waiting in the mining industry. As for me, after the war, I let the government send me through the University then moved up North to work in the Boston area. Roger and I lost touch after that. Then, out of the blue, I received a call from his brother telling me that Roger was dying of cancer and wanted to see me before passing on.
    I am called back by the creak of the old timbers as I enter the room where we used to happily plan our trout fishing trips. But, adjusting to the new light and its atmosphere, my fond memories are short lived. Bathed by the rays of sunlight filtering through the window curtains, Roger lies before me feebly toying with a tiny box atop his chest. Dust motes, like little parts of his spirit anxious to be on their way, hover in the rays of sunlight that cover him. And his vivid blue eyes, set in an ashen face, startle me as he turns to.
    “I was afraid you wouldn’t make it,” he says. “Thank you for coming, Ed.”
    Pulling over an old cane backed chair, I sit by my friend and do the best I can to not show how nervous I am.
    “I am honored that you thought of me, Roger. We go back a ways, don’t we?”
    Roger’s eyes seem to inherit an even brighter burst of blue as he gazes to the sunlight and slides the tiny box towards me.
    “I wish we could roll a fly over Glade Creek one more time,” he says. “That was really something else. But there is no time now. I need you to do something for me, Ed.”
    “Sure, Roger, if I can.”
    Tapping the box with his finger, Roger lets me know that it might not be easy.
    “Oh, you can, Ed. You may not want to but you can. Take this medal and place it on the grave of Lieutenant William Stevens. He is at Arlington. The grave address is noted inside the box. They’ll show you where.”
    William Stevens was the platoon commander that Roger carried out of the bush in Vietnam.
    “Ok buddy,” I say. “Consider it done.”
     A shadow seems to cross Roger’s face as just outside the window a bird calls.
    “I killed him, Ed.”
    Thinking how hard it must be to die and what it must do to one’s mind, I try to put some meaning to his words.
    “You did your best, Roger. It wasn’t your fault.”
    Looking to the window as if his next words are written there, Roger continues.
    “You don’t get it, Ed. You know what a glory hound he was. Half of our platoon was gone from his pushes. The three of us left in my squad drew straws. I got the short one and shot him during that last firefight.”
    Stunned at first, I come to think about the limp that I carry and how it got to be. The waste of it all. There had been angry comments about our casualties. And though not unheard of, I never dreamed that anything would ever come of them.
    Lifting the Silver Star box with a trembling hand, Roger holds it toward me and locks me with one of the hardest looks that I have ever seen. It is then that I realize Death has blue eyes.
    “Go on, take it,” he says. “Stevens was a big fan of the Silver Star, always talking about how he would like to have one. Give it to him, Ed.”
    Feeling numb to the core and knowing no words for such a situation I accept the Silver Star and slip it in my jacket pocket.
    Silently watching me take this load, Roger loses the fire in his eyes as a look of exhaustion fills them. Turning away, he lifts his hand, palm up. Taking it, I watch a small smile cross his face as he releases me with words that seem to float from a Netherworld.
    “Thank you, Ed. Now you know. The rest is between me and my maker.”


    So many markers. Standing here at Lt. William Stevens’ spot, like an odd being among those no more, I remember the words of a Persian poet: “....among the guests star scattered on the grass.” Only the poet’s drift was one of cheer. This place brings me down, too far askew. A milky way of dead. Of mostly young. In my face, all these dead.......trying to change what was someplace. Or was in someone else’s mind. My leg hurts as I remember Roger’s words, “ may not want to but you can.” Pulling the medal and the little ribbon attached to it from its box, I remember my own purple heart medal and how, when the alcohol wouldn’t kill the pain, I threw it into the Charles River. That pain is not as bad now but there is another kind of pain that pulls at me......standing here among these dead. I can not carry the genre of this trinket to the dead. I have no will to do it. Nada!
    Getting back to my rental car, I leave the cemetery and pull over along the Potomac River thinking that I am done with this sad happening. Returning the Silver Star and its ribbon to their little white box, I give them a fling and watch the frothy grey current take them down with the rest.

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a multiple Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Scarlet Leaf Publishing House, Burning Word Journal, eFiction India, and others.

School House Perspective
(from “An Appalachian Collection”)

Charles Hayes

    The white school house, covered with years of coal dust, looks so much smaller now. A rusty flag pole, white when it adorned, lies among the busted mine machines that cover the grounds once for play. The mine gone, the coal trucks only noisy ghosts in my mind, can I have lived here?
    Its little flat spot up against the steep land of the hollow where it came to be, my place to learn and grow back then. Marbles at recess, oral book reports to a room with two grades, and the growling gray trucks, humped with coal, that passed all day.
    Broken windows, like eyes that only light can see, sadly look my way. And a missing door with only night beyond seems to say, “Oh yes, I loved you then. I am not so bad. Look at you now.”

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a multiple Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Scarlet Leaf Publishing House, Burning Word Journal, eFiction India, and others.


Charles Hayes

    Picking his way through the darkness of the banana palms near the Philippine Sea shore of Guiwang, Carloi approaches the white cinderblock house at the edge of the jungle. Although hating himself for spying, he must answer the question that has troubled him for some time: is his wife having an affair with the white foreigner that lives here?
    Leaving the cover of the banana trees, he studies the stars and remembers how he and Rosa led their tribe of Sama-Bajau sea gypsies by the stars. And how those same stars married them and helped them raise a son. A son to assume their mantel of leadership and the lead banglo, or family boat, when they retired to the Cebu shore, still young. Trying to put his finger on when it began to change, Carloi remembers how they were quick to adjust to living ashore, yet continued to live from the sea with their knowledge of the fish runs and a good outrigger. How together they pulled nets of tuna from the dangerous deeper waters and celebrated with love in the isolated island coves afterward. Feeling a sudden wave of shame, Carloi must remember how it’s been lately before he loses his will. How his age began to show and a younger Rosa seemed restless. Then came the little tell tale signs of cheating: fuzzy explanations, unexpected absences and reports from friends that Rosa was seen in this area. And Carloi’s own sighting of her and the foreigner at an eatery in Dalaguete yesterday while he was completing an errand on the bus. Then tonight another disappearance.

    Rosa, telling herself that this must be the last time, looks both ways along the highway to make sure she is unobserved. Stepping off the paved road onto a grassy path that cuts through the banana trees to Robert’s place, Rosa wonders how she ever became involved with the American. Maybe it was his older looks and secure manner or maybe she was just feeling a little unappreciated at home. Whatever the reason, this whole thing is just too dangerous. The American knows and understands nothing about her.....except maybe her hormones. And he is not the kind to put any stock in to begin with. Let alone jeopardize her marriage for. This will be it.
    Having tried yesterday to end it in Dalaguete, she was met with manicured resistance and somehow convinced to come by his place this evening for a final goodbye. She knows what to expect, and for the life of her, she can’t help feeling excited by it. But this time she has to choke it.
    Quickly covering the trail through the trees and the wet growth from a recent rain, Rosa enters the brightly lit porch. Feeling her heart in her throat and hating the bright light, she kicks off her sandals and pecks on the door. Listening to the night sounds of the jungle, she tells herself to be steady in her resolve.
    Watching the door open to reveal a candle lit Robert, dressed only in Navy shorts, Rosa catches the scent of Jasmine as soothing twangs of sitar music drift from a back room. Despite these nice extras of the tropical evening Rosa tries to buck up and keep her mind in gear but Robert is quick to engage her with another kind of attention.
    “Rosa, how beautiful you are glistened by the night dew. But your wet, sit down, I’ll get a towel.”
    Moving to a chair, Rosa sits and at the same time realizes that she likes the nice things that Robert has. It is nice here amongst his things. And comfortable, despite her resolve.
    Returning with a towel, Robert pats down her hair then moves lower to her arms, lightly massaging as he goes. Dropping to his knees, he lifts her feet to his lap and gently brushes them off before continuing up to her short clad thighs.
    Seeing him touch her with such care while her feet touch his firm warmth, Rosa’s resolve begins to slip. Sensations that ask for a little more time tell her that a little longer will hurt nothing. Maybe even make it easier.
    Dropping the towel, Robert gently spreads her legs and kisses each thigh. Lifting his eyes to her face, he sees in her expression what he has always been good at delivering. Taking her hands and rising, Robert looks upon this lovely creature, primed and sculpted to a tee.
    “Come Rosa,” he says, “let us say goodbye like the world is ending.”
    An uncommon need leading her, Rosa simply pulls to.

    Lowering his eyes from the sky, Carloi gauges the distance to the house and it’s dark exterior. From one of the back windows a soft light shows below the partly raised shade. Thinking that this is his destination, Carloi circles the small yard and comes to the window with the jungle at his back. Fully committed now, all his senses center on the moment. Crouching below the window, he at first hears only the sounds of a stringed instrument. But on the shade above him a shadow expands and contracts. Or perhaps two shadows seesawing into one. When the music suddenly stops and begins to recycle he hears the soft kittenish sounds of a woman’s abandonment mixed with the sounds of a man’s voice. No doubt left in his mind, Carloi knows the woman is Rosa. His heart turned numb, he stands and looks in the un-shaded lower part of the window. On a large bed, cast against the flickering glow of a nightstand candle, Rosa and the foreigner are coupled in a delirium of pleasure. Braced by pillows under her lower spine, making herself more accessible, Rosa whimpers and cajoles the foreigner mounted atop her to do what must be done while he, at the same time, coaxes her to come.
    Shattered to an almost surreal consciousness at first, Carloi just stares, frozen. But as the death throes of his spirit surfaces, a primal scream like none this jungle has ever heard issues from his soul. And for a moment the night is dead.

    As the window implodes in a shower of glass and bamboo and the shade crashes to the floor, Robert and Rosa leap from the bed and run from the room, leaving a bloody Carloi halfway in the window. Falling back to the ground, Carloi does not hear the jungle come alive with sound as Rosa flees naked into the banana trees. And Robert locks himself in the toilet with a bolo, praying that Carloi will go after Rosa.
    Slowly becoming aware of the jungle panic, and having glimpsed his naked wife sprinting towards the highway, Carloi begins to crawl toward the banana trees, leaving a trail of blood as he goes. Reaching the edge of the trees, he stands and again looks to the sky. Offering a Shepherd’s staff instead of his usual hunter’s bow, Orion boldly stands out. Clearly seeing the sign but unable to consider what it portends, Carloi disappears into the banana trees, tortured by a new reality. Now he knows.

    Quickly crossing the dark highway and disappearing into the rice paddies on the other side, Rosa follows the network of paddy dikes to the small track that leads to the Sea and their native cottage. So far unseen, she manages to get to the coconut grove and into their home without being exposed to others. Quickly she throws on some clothes and dons a pair of slippers while stuffing some essentials in a nipa carrying case. Grabbing a paddle by the door on her way out, she throws her stuff in the smaller outrigger, unties it, and prepares to drag it across the sand to the water. But which direction does she go once she hits the water? Suddenly feeling overwhelmed as her actions begin to catch up, Rosa looks to the stars. And stops. A thousand different directions are there in their lights, all leading to the same place——-where she stands. A hundred baths in salty brine nor a thousand leagues of ocean can erase the humiliation and regret that she feels. Nor the terrible mistake that she has made. There is no place to go to escape what is. Looking to the Sea and the fuzzy glow of Tagbilaran across the Bohol Strait, Rosa sees that her only chance to live with any face is to stay and live with what she has done. The stars will be a party to nothing else. With surrender and guilt filling her up, Rosa re-ties the outrigger, shoulders her belongings and returns to the cottage. Stowing the gear inside the door, she sits on the stoop and looks to where the stars are unobscured by the palms. Carloi will come from that direction.

    The distant sound of a barking dog signals that the quiet of the night is starting to ebb. The call of cocks follow not much later, sending and receiving battle cries from all over the barangay. And the lights of lanterns grow larger upon the dark waters of the Sea as the night fishermen paddle towards shore.
    Having dozed fitfully, Rosa lifts her head from her knees to see a blood covered Carloi shuffling through the grove toward the Sea. Ignoring, or not seeing her, he passes, stripping his ragged clothes as he goes to the water. Naked and knee deep in the tide, Carloi tumbles forward and rolls to his back. Floating on the gentle swells of an incoming tide, he uses what’s left of his shirt to wipe his wounds, sometimes screaming as he does so.
    Having followed him to the beach, Rosa stands by the boats and watches until he stands and walks from the water, again ignoring or not seeing her. Passing close enough for Rosa to see his cuts, Carloi stubbles to the cottage and closes the door. Shaken from her guilt, Rosa runs toward the Barangay Hall screaming for help.

    After a hundred and thirty stitches and a trip to Dalaguete to purchase them and the necessary medicine, Rosa and the doctor leave an unconscious Carloi and walk the right-a-way track leading to the highway. Rosa learns what to do and is assured by the doctor that she is capable. And that the clinic is always free, though equipment and medicines, many times, must be purchased elsewhere......if they can be found. Knowing only that the cuts were not the result of an assault, the doctor does not press Rosa for details. Rosa’s obvious fragile condition tells her that details might be an uncomfortable place to go. And her position as the Barangay Clinic Physician does not require it. Let sleeping dogs lie. The pair say good-bye and part company at the highway when the doctor catches a trisikad for the short ride to the clinic.
    Returning to their cottage, Rosa can see that Carloi’s fever is still bad. It likely will take a steady dose of antibiotics to break. Luckily they are readily available over the counter and cheap. But still there is her guilt. What can she be to her husband after such a betrayal? That is their sickness that has no medicine.


    Coming ashore in the late afternoon after dropping a nice load of tuna off at their distributors, Rosa tries again to established something resembling a relationship with the man that she lives with.
    “A good day for tuna, huh, Carloi?”
    Carloi, looking at his still beautiful wife under the large conical hat, simply replies over his shoulder, “It was OK.”
    At least receiving a reply to her comment, Rosa senses an opportunity.
    “You know, Carloi, it reminds me a little of those times when we first left the tribe and came ashore.”
    Having spoken more in these two sentences than she has spoken in a day, Rosa holds her breath as she watches Carloi, his back turned, roll a small net.
    Finished with the net, Carloi pauses in his movements before turning to face Rosa. Her hat now in hand and rich black hair down over deeply tanned shoulders, framed by a Sea alive with sun diamonds, Rosa is the girl he choose to ride the lead banglo with many years before. Holding her eyes for the first time since he almost died, Carloi says, “Me too...........but that was before.”
    Knowing what he means but seeing an opening that might not come again, Rosa says, “Before what, Carloi?”
    His gaze not faltering, and seeing that determination in Rosa’s eyes that first drew him all that time ago, Carloi simply replies, “You know what.”
    “Say it, Carloi.”
    “Say it!”
    “I can’t!”
    “Yes you can. Say it!!!
    “Before you fucked the American!!!!”
    Sinking to the hull of a neighbor’s blocked dugout, Rosa looks away but can feel the fire of Carloi’s glare.
    “Yes,” she says, “and I want to die each time I remember it.”
    As if planted in the sand around his feet, Carloi drops the net, clinches his fists and looks to the small lump of Siquijor on the horizon.
    “How many times?”
    “All that time,” says Carloi, “and only three times?”
    Beginning to cry, Rosa says, “Yes, I wanted to surprise you. I was doing his house work, trying to make enough money to buy a gift for our son’s wedding anniversary. Robert........the American was very persistent. He knew what he was doing. And I was shamefully negligent of myself.....and you. I would do anything to make it just a bad dream. And then I would still want to die.
    Moving to sit on the gunwale of another boat, Carloi fingers the deep scars across his chest and stomach. Glancing at Rosa before letting his eyes drift afar, Carloi finally ask the hardest of all to know,
    “Do you love him?”
    “No! I knew he was no good, a predator. I hear he is since deported for young girls in the city, and rightly so. He fascinated me with his stories and his things. But I knew he was a snake. Please Carloi, give us another chance. I am God above, I am sorry.”
    Shaking his head, Carloi stands and walks toward their cottage before turning to face Rosa.
    “I wanted to kill you.”
    Rising from the dugout, Rosa moves toward Carloi as if to shorten the chances of rejection. Searching his open but haggard face, Rosa begs for her self in the simplest way she knows how.
    “Please don’t kill me Carloi. Forgive me.”
    As evening rapidly settles, Carloi, turning his back again, replies, “If I can.”

    Ominous skies, rough seas, and a signal 3 storm flag flapping over the Barangay Hall tell Carloi and Rosa that there will be no fishing today. A typhoon cutting across the Northern tip of Mindanao will soon hit Cebu and its Central Visayan neighbors. Already the wind and rain bends the palms, whipping their fronds like green crape.
    The day is spent collecting enough food and petrol to hold them and moving the boats within the grove. Their native cottage, anchored in concrete footers, and partially protected within the trees, will or will not make it. Such risks come with the territory of airy economical housing.
    As evening closes in, the power goes and the winds start to howl. Sitting on separate sleeping mats, nursing a large candle on the floor between them, Carloi and Rosa watch a corner of their roof disappear. The sound of the Sea slapping against the footers below their windward main window signals that the storm is at its peak. Suddenly a large coconut crashes through the grass roof and smashes to the floor, crushing the candle. Groping in the dark, Carloi locates another, lights it, and unsheathes his bolo. Bracing the nut on their heavy breakfast table, he shears the end off with two swings of the blade and offers the fruit to Rosa. With a nod, Rosa turns it up and drinks thirstily. Wiping her mouth on the back of her hand, she returns the fruit to Carloi, watching as he drains it and rolls the hull to a corner.
    With not much to do but wait out the storm, they draw closer. Like his recent brush with Rosa on the beach, Carloi is reminded of the resourceful woman that helped him and their tribe survive. Finding it harder to condemn her for being human, he sees a woman of poise and beauty that would be coveted anywhere. How could he have been blind to that?
    Rosa, watching the soft light play on her husband’s weathered face and its character, forgets the winds and missing pieces of roof. More important than that, she knows that she and Carloi will survive. But, as she moves her eyes over his jagged scars, she also knows that this kind of man will only happen once. When she was a girl only in her teens she knew that. Now a woman, it can be no different.

    Long into the night, as the winds begin to abate and the Sea recedes, jeep headlights swing across Carloi and Rosa’s coconut grove. Knowing who it must be, they do not move. Wrapped in separate blankets, they hear the Barangay Captain call out, “Is everybody OK here?”
    A little sad that the official end of the storm has arrived, but thankful just the same, Rosa yells back, “A little chilled is all.”
    Seeing the touch of melancholy in Rosa’s eyes and feeling much the same Carloi shouts, “Thank you, Captain. We are fine.”
    As the jeep’s headlights swing back toward the highway and the Sea and sky crack with a pale glow, Carloi stands and looks down at his wife.
    Lifting her eyes to her husband, Rosa is reminded of his morning stance over the banglo bed before going aft to shoot their tack. Lowering her eyes, she moves the candle and pulls the mats together while Carloi watches. Raising her eyes to him once more, Rosa follows the flickering light on his face and opens her blanket.
    The beautiful girl that added a splash of brown to the coral colored waters of a lagoon is still there, treading water for him standing above. Going down, how lovely it all is. How nice to be back.

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a multiple Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Scarlet Leaf Publishing House, Burning Word Journal, eFiction India, and others.

Well Mate?

J. Charles Furman

    With wavy golden blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, a salt water tan that radiated his chiseled features and a six foot muscular physique, the only way to describe Glenn Darling, would be absolutely drop dead gorgeous.
    Glenn slipped into a long sleeve white dress shirt, admiring his initials monogrammed on its cuffs. He looked out the bedroom window, realizing that except for the dismal bumper to bumper traffic, crawling along Park Avenue, the view of Manhattan from his digs up on the twenty-seventh floor, was simply magnificent.
    Dressed in a grey Armani suit, and matching tie, Glenn departed for the dining room.
    Breakfast had just been delivered from a nearby coffee shop. Glenn dug a fork into a bacon and egg omelet, while leisurely reading the Wall Street Journal. Then, for the lack of anything better, he scanned through the personal section entitled woman seeking men, in this month’s copy of Bravo Macho. To him most of these ads were downright hilarious. And he believed the ladies who placed them, to be pathetic individuals. Glenn was thoroughly convinced any woman who thought so little of themselves, that they’d stoop to placing an ad in the personals, was either homely, desperate, or just horny as hell; or possibly all of the above. It was obvious to him that these females must have very little self esteem. They probably didn’t feel comfortable or have the confidence to go to any singles bars. Certainly not the fast moving swank joints Glenn Darling frequented.
    For some strange reason one unusual ad caught Glenn’s attention. The bold vivacious phrasing of it is what made him stop to think about it for a couple of seconds. Glenn shook his head, sarcastically chuckled and tossed the copy of Bravo Macho on the table. But as much as he tried to dismiss that stupid little annoying ad, that read, “Well, mate?” The more it dwelled on his mind. He then, stared at the cover of Bravo Macho, with contempt, repeating the words, “Well, mate?” Who the heck is this woman kidding, with that, Well, mate, crap? He thought. Then as if he had no control over himself, Glenn reached out, grabbing the magazine, quickly flipping through its pages, until he found the ad once again. After reading it several times over, Glenn came to the conclusion that he detested the woman who placed that stupid classified ad in personals of Bravo Macho.
    Because he had an important ten o’clock meeting at the office, he guzzled what little coffee was left in the container. By now the usually self-composed, Glenn Darling, was in a rage at the thought of that idiotic ad, and those two stupid little words, “Well, mate?”
    Glenn was so furious, at that ridiculous ad that instead of saving the copy of Bravo Macho, as he usually did, he uncharacteristically threw it into the garbage compactor. But being it wasn’t full, he never flipped the switch.
    On his way to the door, Glenn adjusted the knot on his tie, and gave the dining room the once-over. Outgoing containers, packets of salt and sugar, were scattered on the table, some were lying on the floor. He realized the place was a mess. Thank God, the cleaning lady will be coming the first thing tomorrow morning, he thought, grabbing the attaché and dashing out of the apartment.
    Glenn hailed a cab. On his way downtown, Glenn thought about the ad in the personals of Bravo Macho. He tried to picture what the anonymous woman who had placed that classified looked like. Because the manner in which she had phrased her ad, anyone reading it, would have been under the impression, that this woman definitely thought who the hell she was. The nerve of her, Glenn contemplated. He stepped out of the cab and into a skyscraper on Lexington Avenue, muttering to himself. “Well isn’t that unusual, a woman who thinks her shit doesn’t stink.” On his journey across the busy lobby to the bank of elevators, he thought, it’s quite obvious, she’s just another full of shit broad. Because any woman that was “all that,” certainly wouldn’t have to resort to placing an ad in the personals.
    After cheerfully exchanging warm greetings with co-workers, the elevator doors slide open. Glenn, along with a horde of other people, forged their way onto the crammed chamber. At this point, all he could think about was that unique ad in the personals, and the anonymous woman who had placed it. He began to realize, that if nothing else, at least her approach to it was different. Because this woman’s ad wasn’t the perennial mundane, rally around the flag rhetoric, most of the females submitted to glorify the boring existence. All her ad said, was “Well, mate?” What the hell’s that supposed to mean? He thought.
    Glenn Darling had been reading personals for years. To him, it was somewhat of a measuring stick. If only to see what devices the undesirables used to get the opposite sex into bed; or how they used the personals as a vehicle for trapping their newest unsuspecting mate. All in all, reading the personals was just a form of amusement, and a means of entertainment, to a popular ladies man like Glenn Darling. Who in his wildest dreams would never considered answering any of those personal ads. Or waste his precious time, giving any of those classifieds a second thought. Until this morning, that is.
    After all, Glenn Darling was an attractive thirty six year old bachelor. A successful ad exec, at one of the nation’s leading advertising agencies. The board of directors had recently voted him senior vice president of the firm. A lavish high rise apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side had been his home for the past several years. There along with a summer retreat in the Hamptons, is where he entertained some of the most gorgeous ladies in the world.
    Glenn was a womanizing ego-maniac, who over the years had earned quite a reputation with the ladies. With an extensive wardrobe of designer clothes, he made a point of dressing the role of a man about town, even if he was only going for a walk or a cup of coffee. But Glenn was so gorgeous, that he could have worn hand-me-downs and still would have been easy on the eyes. Besides, Glenn Darling wasn’t your average everyday heart-throb. This suave and debonair gentleman, with a quick-witted sense of humor, was without a doubt, one dashing individual. And of course, woman undoubtedly enjoyed being in his company.
    Wherever he went, females would helplessly flock around the charming Mr. Darling, initiating small talk, while ogling at this handsome kisser. Some of the more aggressive young ladies he encountered would often scribble a brief but enticing message on their business card. Then discreetly slip it into Glenn’s jacket pocket.
    Ladies were desperately falling all over themselves to bang down his door. The last thing anyone as striking as Glenn Darling needed, to be in the company of a different female whenever he so desired, was the aid of a classified ad in the personal columns.
    For the duration of the morning, and even during the ten o’clock meeting with the board of directors, Glenn continually recited those two little annoying words, “Well, mate?” The audacity of that bitch, he thought. Who the hell does she think she is any way? It was as if she was challenging the entire male species, to see what it was she had to offer, he contemplated.
    By the way the young lady subtly stated those two simple little words, “Well, mate?” plus, the arrogant manner, in which she so shrewdly laced each word with a seductive ring, it was obvious, that she believed, she had something going on for herself that no man could resist. Which had a hip and savvy guy like Glenn, believing that chic must be under the impression that no guy’s good enough for her. Just a load of self indignation, he thought. Sure, that’s because as a teenager some schmuck must have broken her poor little heart, he suspected. So now, beneath it all, she’s probably just a man hating bitch. Whose only ambition, is taking her revenge out on the entire male population. He also concluded, by the elegant manner in which this anonymous woman expressed herself that this beauty was actually attempting to make an all out effort to demean men. In fact, Glenn realized he saw through all of her bullshit, right from the get go. Of course, this prima donna was totally convinced that no man on the face of this planet was good enough for her.
    “What a crock a shit that is.” Glenn thought, while escorting some out of town clients to lunch. While entertaining them, he desperately tried to forget that silly little ad; but for the remainder of lunch, and the duration of the day, it subconsciously kept playing tricks with his sanity. The more he attempted to convince himself, that he could give two shits less, about the ad and the frustrated woman who placed it, the more it began to weight on his mind. It was as if he was totally consumed with that annoying ad, and those two stupid little words that merely read, “Well, mate?” and the anonymous woman who placed it.
    Most evenings after work, if Glenn didn’t have a dinner date, he’d meet up with some of his cronies at the Last Oasis, on East Forty-Seventh Street. At cocktail hour, this dimly lilted cocktail lounge was always mobbed from wall to wall with hordes of people which included an assortment of some of the most exquisite Ladies in Manhattan. In Glenn’s opinion, most of them were either disillusioned singles, divorced or cheaters looking to change their luck for the night. With a piano bar and a small parquet dance floor, the Last Oasis was definitely Glenn Darlings kind of hangout. But tonight he had other plans.
    After picking up take out at Wok Around the Clock. Glenn walked uptown along Third Avenue, in hopes of finding a vacant taxi. In his travels all he could think about was that self indulging woman, who had placed the unique but sensuous ad in Bravo Macho. At Fifty-Second Street, he noticed some people getting out of a cab and without wasting a moment quickly jumped into the back seat.
    On the journey uptown to his high-rise on Park Avenue, Glenn desperately tried just about anything to forget that ridiculous classified ad in Bravo Macho. For some reason or other it constantly kept bugging the shit out of him. The odor of spare ribs and shrimp in lobster sauce, coming from the bag resting on his lap was certainly working on his appetite.
    Then from out of the blue, as if obsessed, Glenn suddenly visualized the anonymous woman who had placed the ad seated in his dining room. There she was sitting across the table from him, all decked out, in a shear skintight low-cut outfit. The fabric clung tightly to her shapely figure. He anxiously envisioned her reaching for the long stem wine glass, then bringing it up to her luscious lips. Glenn couldn’t help but notice, the garment firmly wrenching against the contour of her seductive body. With each little move she made, emphasizing every curve of her anatomy
    He then began to imagine, they were in the midst of dining on the food he had picked up at Wok Around the Clock. They couldn’t take their eyes off each other for a moment. He knew this would be the perfect opportunity, to take advantage of the situation. So he quickly dug his chop sticks into the container, pulling out a shrimp. He then reached across the table, placing the crustacean between her perfectly formed fiery red lips. As she bite into it, Glenn instantly kicked the chair out from under him. Then he leaned forward, until his teeth grasped the portion of shrimp dangling from her mouth. The thought of both of them nibbling on the same piece of shrimp, was beginning to arouse Glenn. He was now envisioning their mouths touching savagely, as they chewed on the shrimp simultaneously. Long after it had been devoured, he pictured their lips were still passionately pressing against each others, the tips of their tongues endlessly fencing in the dark of their mouths.
    In an attempt to see where this erotic day-dreaming was going, and to make sure it didn’t come to an end until he visualized the outcome, Glenn eased back into the seat, and shut his eyes for the remainder of the trip, purposely blocking out all thoughts of anything else. He couldn’t believe he was actually fantasizing about some anonymous woman. Someone he didn’t even know. Except for what he had read in that stupid little ad, she had placed in the personals of Bravo Macho. Glenn realized, for someone as popular as himself, who had dated tons of ladies, he was certainly out of character; definitely not acting himself. Sure as a kid, he always imagined himself romancing some Hollywood starlet he considered hot. But as an adult, he couldn’t remember the last time he had a whim, or dreamed about any woman.
    To an insensitive chauvinistic individual such as Glenn Darling women were only objects. Who were put on this earth for one reason, and one reason only, his own satisfaction? So he couldn’t understand why was he, so totally engrossed with a woman he had never seen or even met before?
    The romantic fantasy he was having with this anonymous woman, had left Glenn so excited, that he almost didn’t hear the driver calling out. “Hey pal, wake up, this is your stop. That’ll be three and a quarter.”
    Glenn gleefully greeted the tall doorman. Who while holding the huge glass door open, made a comment, about how unusual it was to see him getting home at such an early hour. Of course Glenn made light of it, with a clever remark, which had left the doorman chuckling, as he watched Glenn step onto the empty elevator.
    On the ride up to the twenty-seventh floor, he tried to persuade himself, that that idiotic ad in Bravo didn’t really matter to him in the least. The woman who placed it was probably nothing more than a horny, frustrated old bag. Who, if nothing else, had a good command of the language, which she proficiently applied in a cunning and teasing fashion?
    But what significance, if any, should this have on a sharp guy like Glenn Darling. Who, in his opinion, and the opinion of his cronies, along with most of the ladies in this town, all unanimously agreed, Mister Glenn Darling, was one of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelors. With more females chasing after him then he knew what to do with. Why should some anonymous woman, be so intriguing to a ladies’ man like him.
    Glenn prided himself on being able to spot a conniving, cock teasing female from a mile away. He met them all. By now he was immune to their over-zealous come ons. Their flirtatious methods would have left most guys high and dry. These so-called Romeos would be panting with frustrations, before the evening was over. Because all they’d get for their trouble, was nothing more than a good nights kiss on the cheek. But Glenn knew how to handle ladies who came on like a tease. In fact he enjoyed nothing better than breaking down their tantalizing ways. Often bragging about it to friends afterwards, saying something like. “Remember that pecker-bender I picked up at the Oasis the other night; the one with the bleach blond hair, who came across with an attitude. As if she thought, she could purr, ‘jump’ and all the boys would instantly shout back, ‘how high mistress.’ Well fellows, I inherited a leach and there’s no getting rid of her now. At least six or seven times a day, she’d leave some dumb message on my answer phone. Of course, I haven’t even attempted to call her back, not once. But I guess that young lady just can’t take a hint. It seems as much as I try avoiding her, the more my phone keeps ringing off the hook. I knew it was a mistake giving her my number in the first place.” He’d boast with a smug expression, before saying something cruel, like. “Hey fellows, do you believe the other night I actually prayed she’d eventually lose my damn number. I’ve already changed it twice this year. So I’m really not looking forward to doing it again. Perhaps with some luck, she’d, get transferred to her firm’s office in Bei-Jing.”
    Of course Glenn Darling always kept a couple of ladies on a string, for those evenings he didn’t care to go carousing. Obviously, one didn’t realize the other existed. Although he never said it in so many words, in his own cagey way, he had all of these young ladies believing, if they played their cards right, perhaps someday in the near future, anyone of them could be his next main squeeze. But Glenn Darling’s only main squeeze was Glenn Darling.
    This shallow individual sincerely believed he was God’s gift to woman. Who, in spite of it all, when it came to ladies, one way or the other Glenn always managed to get his way? Up to this point in time, he certainly hadn’t met a lady, who was capable of ruffling his masculine feathers.
    While stepping off the elevator, the ad he had been desperately trying to forget began tapping away at his senses once again. “Go ahead, keep it up you bitch,” he mumbled standing in the vestibule that lead to his apartment. “And you might just get more than you bargained for.” He certainly didn’t take kindly to the way that ad was getting the best of him. “I need this shit like a hole in my head.” He muttered, in an attempt to convince himself that it really was of no importance to him. Then while fumbling for the keys in his pocket, he mouthed with determination, “I’ll put this sweetie-pie straight if it’s the last thing I do.”
    The first thing Glenn did, after changing into something a little more comfortable, was devourer the take out from Wok Around the Clock. Then he went to the bar to make himself a double scotch on the rocks. Glenn wasn’t much of a boozer. But whenever he found himself confronted with a dilemma, which up to now never included woman, he believed liquor gave him a broader perspective on things. So he instantly polished off the scotch in one swift gulp. It went down nice and easy. He immediately poured himself another and downed it in one quick swig and placed the empty glass on the counter.
    With no further delay, he hurried over to a magazine rack anxiously fumbling his way through the publications. When he couldn’t find the issue of Bravo Macho he was looking for, he became a madman, ranting and raving, “Where the fuck did I put this month’s issue of Bravo Macho?” Obsessed and discouraged, he began whipping out one magazine after another, from the rack haphazardly tossing each of them aside. When he finally came across a copy of Bravo Macho, he felt relieved. To ease the tension he felt rippling through his body, Glenn dropped down into an easy chair situated next to the magazine rack. He sat on the edge of it, enthusiastically flipping through its pages. When he eventually found the classified section, he eagerly scanned for the personals woman seeking men. He anxiously ran his finger down the column, briefly reading each of the ads. With no luck, Glenn suddenly realized he had the wrong copy of Bravo Macho. The publication he was interested in was this month’s edition. Because after all the times in the past, that he had read the personals in it, he couldn’t recollect ever seeing the ad he was desperately searching for, prior to this morning.
    Glenn immediately went back to pulling the remaining magazines out of the rack. Whenever he came across a copy of Bravo Macho he automatically looked at the date. Before long, the rack was eventually empty and the floor was blanketed with magazines. He wondered what the hell he could have possibly done with that recent copy of Bravo Macho.
    He wandered about like a man possessed. Glenn quickly began ransacking the entire apartment. With no success he decided to fix himself another double scotch on the rocks. With no time to lose, he immediately gulped it down, than continued turning the apartment inside-out and upside-down. In between he poured himself another double scotch on the rocks. Knocked it off, and hopelessly walked into the kitchen. That’s when it suddenly hit him. “Holy shit!” He gleefully shouted like a man who had just discovered he hit the lotto. He dashed over to the garbage compactor, grabbing its handle, and yanking open the small door. On the top of the pile of garbage was the copy of Bravo Macho he had been hunting for. With a sigh of relief he quickly pulled it out.
    Glenn’s face blossomed with joy as he flipped through the pages strolling towards the personals. When he finally found the ad that had been toying with and torturing his mind, for the better part of the day, Glenn anxiously read it. His face suddenly twisted with contempt.
    He headed to the bar, poured himself a drink, took a sip and placed the half empty glass on the coffee table. From his vest pocket he took a multi-colored pen and circled the ad he had been searching for in red. Then he lifted the glass and held it up to the vicinity of the small ad as if he were toasting it and thought: This is one smug lady. “Well missy,” He boldly announced before taking another long sip, emptying the oversized glass. Glenn lowered the goblet from his mouth, and with a sarcastic grin planted into his stunning face, lifted the glass again. “Here’s to you, and your stupid little ad, Missy.” He took another swig, and then focused on the tiny ad, circled in red. With a degree of self determination, he proudly raised the glass, cleared his throat, and reassuringly broadcasted, “Young lady, you’ve must be used to playing around with a bunch of goody two-shoes, mommas boys, I presume.” He bellowed, with a drunken slur laced to his every word. Then as if she was actually in the room, he continued, “Be prepared for a real man sweetheart. Something I sincerely doubt you can handle. But as long as you had the nerve to challenge me, darling, I guess it’s only fair to warn you this is one liaison you definitely won’t forget.” As if the glass was a torch, he held it above his head, boasting, “If only to take you down a notch or two you bitch. But I’ll guarantee you this much, you sanctimonious witch, before it’s all over you’ll enjoy the slide so much that you’ll be begging me to bring you down another few notches if just for the mere pleasure of it. So being the charitable individual that I’ve been known to be in the past, I just might oblige you.”
    Glenn flung the empty glass, victoriously onto a nearby sofa then shuffled unsteadily over to the bar. He grabbed the bottle of scotch, and headed towards the computer, laughing to himself. While contemplating how he wouldn’t have even wasted his time answering her ad but unfortunately for this young lady, she had to come off with that fucking attitude of hers and an air about herself, as if she was so fucking high and mighty. “We’ll soon see about that,” he shouted. Unbalanced he wobbled down into a club chair, staring at the blank monitor of his P.C. Pressing the on button the screen illuminated. He took a swig straight out of the bottle and roared, “How smug and high and mighty are she’s going to be, when you’re desperately trying to rip down my door? And what’ll you do for an encore, when security shamefully marches you out of the building, run up and down the sidewalks of Manhattan shouting, ‘Well, mate?’ You’ll be popping in and out of every lounge, night club and gin mill, hoping to catch me sitting all by my lonesome, eh sweetie.” He lectured as if the anonymous woman were actually in his presence. “So, let’s hypothetically say, you eventually did track me down. Well, what are you going to do next?” Walk into the place, while trying to maintain you’re cool, by nonchalantly strolling over to me as if you could care less. Care less, that’s a joke, in reality the blood I’ll be rushing through your veins and your heart will be pumping with anxiety. Then you’ll graciously offer to buy me a drink. Big deal! Because before, we part company sweetheart, you’ll learn what happens to young ladies who think their all that especially those beauties who try shoving it in my face.
    He sat in front of his PC, clicked it into word document mode and opened a new file. Glenn then spent the next ten minutes or so contriving a most charming and seductive letter. What he had written seemed to have satisfied his intoxicated mind. Content and foggy from booze Glenn dozed off in the chair in front of the PC. Hours later, at several minutes before seven he woke up. The letter he had typed was still on the computers screen. After carefully reading every word, he printed it out. Then grabbed a pen and proudly put his signature at the bottom of the letter stuffed it along with a picture of himself into a stamped envelope which he addressed to the anonymous woman care of Bravo Macho.
    After creating such a sensuous letter, Glenn Darling certainly had no intentions of waiting until he left for the office later this morning to mail it out. Because he knew by the time he headed out of the building the mailman would have already have made his pick-up for the day.
    Still somewhat woozy, Glenn took the envelope and staggered out of the apartment, into the corridor. He then took an elevator to the lobby where he deposited the letter into the building’s mail box.
    As he walked back onto the elevator, he heard a voice. “Hold the door for me, would you Mr. Darling?”
    Glenn turned to see his cleaning lady, Peggy Nicholson running across the lobby. He quickly pressed the button that held the doors from closing. She stepped onto the elevator. The doors closed behind her.
    With suspicion, Peggy Nicholson looked up at Glenn and asked. “Don’t tell me you’re first getting in at this ungodly hour you naughty boy, you?”
    “No Peg! And stop looking at me like that you snoop. For your information, not that it’s your business but this evening I was home at a normal hour. I just came down to mail a letter.”
    “At this hour?” she said, with disbelief. “It couldn’t have waited. This must’ve been quite an important letter?”
    Glenn grinned at her, shrugging his shoulders. He wasn’t interested in talking to her of all people, about the letter he had just mailed to the anonymous woman who placed the classified ad in Bravo Macho. While he thought of what to say to change the subject, without being too obvious about it, he then glanced down at the small elderly widow whose face was wrinkled and worn from hard work, worry and age. But to his surprise, today he noticed she was made up. In all the years Peggy had been cleaning for him, he couldn’t remember ever seeing her with lipstick and eye shadow. He even detected the fragrance of perfume coming from her. Perfect he thought, before informing her. “I almost didn’t recognize you this morning, Peg.”
    “Why’s that?”
    “Well look at yourself. I could have sworn it was Jennifer Lopez running onto the elevator.”
    “Stop the baloney, Glenn. Save it for one of your girl friends.”
    “I’m not handing you any baloney gorgeous. By the way you’ve made yourself up this morning you look beautiful. So what’s the occasion?”
    “No occasion! But I’ve finally decided to take your advice.”
    “My advice” Glenn asked as if in shock. “Since when did you start taking my advice?”
    “When I realized how right you were. Always telling me to get out and start dating. After all Walter has been dead close to eight years.”
    The elevator doors opened. With Peggy hanging onto Glenn’s arm, together they walked the corridor to his apartment.
    “C’mon Peg, we’re old cronies. If you’ve got a date with some dashing Romeo after doing my place, don’t be shy with me after all these years.” He pushed open the door and together they walked into Glenn’s apartment. He anxiously said. “Fill me in on the details.”
    “No date! Not yet. But this afternoon I’m going to dating service for seniors.”
    “That’s great, Peg, I hope you find your heart-throb,” he said, watching her open the broom closet.
    “Me! What about you,” she said looking over her shoulder and reaching for a couple of rags and a dust mop. “When are you going to stop running around and finally settle down?”
    “I’m working on it Peg.”
    “It’s the same song and dance. You’ve been working on it ever since I met you.”
    “Peg you must excuse me, but I’m a little bushed. So I’m going to grab some zee’s’, before going down to the office.” He reached into his pocket, and pulled out some dough. Whipped off a couple of twenties and handed it to her. “I wish you luck at the dating service.”
    “Thanks Glenn,” Peggy said, brushing the dust broom up and down against the verticals. “But I’m not relying solely on that dating service.”
    “What does that mean?” Glenn inquisitively asked, stopping at the door less entrance as he walked out of the room.
    “It means, being I’m an amateur at dating, I realized who knows more about the subject than you. So like you always said, ‘when it comes to the opposite sex never put all your eggs in one basket.’ So besides using the dating service as a means of finding myself a beau, I placed an ad in the personals of one of the magazines that you subscribe to.”
    “That I subscribe to?”
    “That’s right! Bravo Macho!”
    “Huh, Bravo Macho” Glenn replied as if in shock.
    “Of course! Where else? And keeping in mind how you always tell me, so not to get walked all over by the opposite sex we have to be shrewd and cunning. So, of course, thinking of you when I placed the ad, I phrased it in a clever manner, using only two simple words, Well Mate.”
    “What?” Glenn Darling shrieked.
    “Well, what do you think of my catchy phrase?”
    Suddenly feeling like a total idiot, Glenn never answered Peggy. He just ran past her almost tripping over the coffee table, and bumped into the wall as he headed out the door, hoping he would make it to the lobby in time to intercept the mailman.

The Perfect Heist

Tremont Charley

    The country had slid into a deep depression. Jobs were hard to come by. Long-time roommates and best friends Ramon and Chicky fell on hard times. Chicky’s unemployment benefits had recently run out. Chump change Ramon received from unemployment paid their rent, utilities and groceries. Not much dough, if any, was left after that.
    Money they had saved dwindled to an all-time low. They were now living from day-to-day, and barely surviving. Ramon and Chicky had never stolen anything. Reduced to poverty, suddenly and out of desperation, they began entertaining the idea of pulling a stick-up.
    Just thinking about doing a stick-up and the chance of getting arrested gave them both the jitters. Yet, dining every night on T.V. dinners, peanut butter and saltine crackers became more than reason enough for them to want to pull a heist. To avoid getting busted, they borrowed a library book entitled The Perfect Heist. The author was allegedly a master thief, formerly on the F.B.I’s “Ten Most Wanted” list.
    The guys found The Perfect Heist so informative they could hardly put it down. After several readings they became confident and gung-ho about pulling a stick-up. The duo believed if they followed the author’s instructions to a T, they would be in the chips.
    Ramon and Chicky spent the next couple of days, as the author specifically recommended, driving from one location to another, casing businesses in search of one that would be easy pickings for a stick-up. One night they cased all-night coffee shops and diners in the South Bronx. An hour into this excursion the gas gauge on Chicky’s jalopy was on empty. Lucky for them Rooster’s Gas Station only a block away on Randall Avenue was still open. Chicky drove onto the station and pulled up to the only working gas pump. A tall, scraggly, elderly gent limped with the aid of a cane out of the stations office towards the car.
    The elderly attendant looked down through the open window at Chicky. “What’re y’a having and how much?” Before Chicky could manage a reply, the attendant stared down at him and boldly stated, “At Rooster’s payment’s in cash...American currency only or take your story walking.”
    “Make it three dollars, regular.”
    Five dollars was all Ramon and Chicky had between them. Ramon pulled the five dollar bill from his pocket and handed it to Chicky. While the attendant was pumping gas, Chicky leaned close to Ramon and said, “Monch, this could be the perfect place for a stick-up...don’t you think?”
    Ramon agreeably smiled at Chicky and whispered, “In that case I guess we’ll have to exercise Rule Six in The Perfect Heist.”
    Chicky scratched his head. “Huh? Rule Six?”
    “That’s right...Rule Six. It states that in order for a heist to be successful, we’d first have to grill the attendant for information without, of course, being conspicuous...remember?”
    “Oh yeah, Rule Six!” Chicky said, nodding his head. He then looked out at the elderly attendant and nonchalantly asked, “Excuse me, but what time do you close?”
    “Close?” the attendant grumbled, staring down at Chicky. “At Rooster’s, the word close doesn’t exist. We’re open 24/7 even on Christmas and New Year’s just like the Marines.” With his cane the attendant steadied himself and placed the hose back into the gas pump. He forced a smile at Chicky showing several missing teeth. “Anything else?”
    Ramon leaned over, cuffed his mouth and asked, “24/ So what shift do you work...midnights, you know, the graveyard shift...?”
    “Something like that, Dick Tracy,” the attendant sarcastically replied.
    “Whoa! Don’t take offense. Wasn’t asking about classified information, I was only curious and with good reason.”
    The attendant leaned over and stared at Ramon. “If it’s of any importance, which I sincerely doubt, I work, everyday from eight P.M. till eight A.M.” He shook his head. “If you’re asking because you’re planning on bringing me coffee, make it Scotch...Johnny Walker Black.
    “I was only asking because we just moved to the neighborhood and don’t get home from work until after midnight; so we need a place to gas up at that hour.”
    “Excuse me, but didn’t I tell y’a Rooster’s doesn’t ever close? In that case I’d say it really doesn’t matter what shift I work or don’t work or if I’m in Timbuktu basking in the sun with a coupl’a blondes or pushing up daisies, does it?” He forced a smile a Ramon and taped the cane against the car’s front bumper. “Okay, enough bullshit, three dollars.”
    Chicky handed the five dollar bill to the attendant.
    He snatched the bill, held it up to a light above the gas pump. Certain the money was not counterfeit, he stuck the bill into his shirt pocket and hung the cane over his arm. He balanced himself against the gas pump pulled a huge wad of dough from his pants pocket, peeled two dollars from it, and handed Chicky the change. Then without so much as a “Thank you” or “Good night” turned and limped back toward the office.
    Chicky asked, “Did you see the wad of dough on the old guy?”
    “How could I not?”
     “It’d be enough to put us on easy street.”
    “Yep, and that along with what’s in the cash register should hold us for a while.”
    Chicky said, “This’s the place, isn’t it, Monch?”
    “Yep, Rooster’s prime for the taking.”
    “It’ll be easy pickin’s, especially when the old bird’s on duty.”
    “Certainly seems like that.” Ramon replied.
    “Seems like that? C’mon, you for real? The night attendant’s an old geezer. Without the cane the guy can hardly stand up. So, tell me, Monch, when’re we going to take this place, eh?”
    Ramon rubbed his chin as if in deep thought. “According to the author of The Perfect Heist stick-ups are most successful during bad weather. So I’d say, it’d be best if we wait...wait until it...”
    “Wait? Wait for what?” Chicky interrupted. “Broke as we are, what if it doesn’t rain or snow for another month? Then what’re we supposed to do?”
    “Twiddle our thumbs and just patiently wait for a thundershower a blizzard or an earthquake...just as Rule Eight in the book suggests.”
    A voice came over the gas station’s loud speaker. “Okay, dummies, I only got one pump available. Take off, before I have y’a arrested f’er loitering.”
    Chicky started the car and looked over at Ramon. “That old asshole thinks he’s a wise guy, doesn’t he, Monch?”
    “He certainly comes off like that.”
    As Chicky drove from the gas station, he asked, “I wonder how much of a wise guy he’s going to be, when I shove a pistol in his kisser?”
    “You bought a pistol? We haven’t even got money for food. I thought we were going to use my old cap gun?”
    “Easy, Monch, I didn’t buy a pistol, and a cap gun wouldn’t fool anyone. You know, I’m quite accomplished at carving things out of wood...right?”
    “Sure, but what’s that got to do with the pistol you’re going to shove in the old guy’s puss?”
    “Everything, ‘because the .38 special I’m going to carve will look so real that it’ll have that old geezer shitting in his pants.”
    The guys slapped five to celebrate the success of their up-coming heist that would have them both sitting pretty and on top of the world.
    One evening the downpour was endless and heavy—perfect weather for sticking up Rooster’s Gas Station. Ramon and Chicky had spent the past couple days planning and rehearsing in detail exactly how they were going to pull off the heist.
    At ten minutes to midnight the rain was torrential. The men ran out of the building with jackets pulled over their heads and climbed into Chicky’s beat up jalopy. Ramon tossed an overnight bag onto the back seat. The bag contained a roll of duct tape, a box cutter and two black ski masks. The most significant item lodged in the bag was a replica of a .38 special Chicky had masterfully crafted from balsa wood and painted black.
    On the drive to Rooster’s Gas Station they thought it best to first stop at Nick’s Diner. Over coffee, which was all they could afford, they would review in detail precisely how they were going to execute sticking up the gas station. Rain was coming down in buckets. Chicky parked the car in the diner’s parking lot close to its entrance and the two men raced into the diner. Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” was playing from the juke box. The place was empty, except for a middle aged blonde waitress snapping her fingers to the rhythm and a short order cook in the kitchen peeling potatoes.
    Ramon and Chicky slipped into a booth at the back of the diner and ordered coffee. Then in a whisper they went over every aspect of the stick-up. When finished, Chicky took a sip of coffee and eye-balled Ramon. “You ready for this, Monch?”
    “As ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.”
    “You guess? What the hell does that mean?”
    Ramon shrugged. “Means just as I said...I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be.”
    “Are you getting cold feet about pulling this heist?”
    “Not in the least. But on the way over here I got to thinking...”
    Chicky interrupted, “Thinking? Thinking about what? Thinking that maybe you haven’t got the balls to go through with this heist?”
    “Balls have nothing to do with it. After all the times I had your back, when you got into scraps you should be ashamed of yourself for even bringing up shit like’s just something else.”
    “C’mon, Monch, you know as well as I do that heisting Roosters, especially with the old geezer on duty will be a walk in the park.” He waged a finger at Ramon. “Have you forgotten that we’re broke and haven’t had a good meal in days? I’m starved.”
    “So am I.” Ramon agreed. “What do you expect? We haven’t worked in...oh, God only knows how long. Talk about work I thought you were going to Nico for a job?”
    “I did, two weeks ago.”
    “So, what happened? He had no openings?”
    “Nope, he had two. And he was more than eager to put us both on immediately.”
    “What?” Ramon almost shouted, throwing his arms up in the air. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me this back then?”
    “The job’s working for peanuts...busing tables, washing dishes, mopping floors and cleaning toilets for slave wages.”
    “Mopping floors and cleaning toilets for slave wages beats getting locked up. Do you think those jobs are still open?”
    “Forget it, Monch! Knowing Nico, you can bet those jobs are filled by now.”
    “Who are you kidding? You don’t know for sure if those jobs are you, Chick?”
    “What’s with all this bullshit about jobs, Monch?” Chicky poured sugar into his coffee and gave it a stir. “If for whatever reasons you’ve changed your mind about sticking up Rooster’s, just tell me straight up. I won’t hold it against you.”
    “Don’t sweat it, Chick. I’m not backing out. But as I said before, something about heisting Rooster’s has been bugging me.”
    “C’mon, Monch, what if anything could possibly be bugging you? Once I shove the pistol in the old geezer’s puss, he’ll be shitting in his pants and handing us the dough in record time.”
    “And that’s precisely what’s troubling me, Chick. Just thinking about the old guy being scared shitless doesn’t sit well with me at all.”
    “Excuse me, Monch, but have you forgotten that the reason we decided to stickup Rooster’s in the first place was because of the old geezer...remember? We knew with him on duty, robbing the gas station would be a piece of cake...right?”
    “I know, but the way you’re planning on intimidating the old guy is bugging me.”
    “Okay, okay, stop the crap. I’ll give you my word that I’m not going to hurt the old bird. I’m just going to let him know in no uncertain terms that we mean business and that it’d be in his best interest to hand over the dough in his pocket and whatever’s in the cash register without giving us any grief.”
    “And while you’re making your point, with the pistol pressed against his temple, he’ll probably be shitting in his pants, as you so bluntly put it. Did you ever think the old guy might have a bum ticker? I mean, could you live with yourself if, God forbid he collapsed and had a heart attack?”
    “Alright, alright, already, relax. Didn’t I tell you I’ll go easy on the old guy?”
    Ramon forced a smile at Chicky and applauded.
    Their coffee finished, the guys decided it was time to take care of business. On the drive over to Rooster’s they speculated on how much money they would get away with and how they were going to spend it.
    Stopped at a red light, Chicky looked over at Ramon with enthusiasm and said, “I was just thinking, with the economy the way it is, jobs aren’t readily available for guys like us...are they, Monch?”
    “Yeah, so, what’s your point, Einstein?”
    “Once we get this heist under our belt, we could take a vacation and spend a couple a weeks in the Bahamas or down on the Jersey Shore. When we return, instead of looking for work, we could case other gas stations or all night diners that could be easy pickings for a stick-up. We’d be our own bosses and wouldn’t have to worry about taking any crap from asshole supervisors. And we’d only have to work a day every two or three months. Then after pulling a few heists we could graduate from robbing gas stations and diners to sticking up banks and from there...”
    Ramon interrupted, “Don’t get carried away. Let’s see how this one goes first, Willie Sutton.” The traffic light turned green. “And don’t forget that I’m counting on you to go easy on the old we understand each other?”
    “Yeah, sure, I’ll be on my best behavior just like Father Flanagan or The Dalai Lama.”
    Rain was still heavy as Chicky turned onto Randall Avenue. A mob of people were on the sidewalk across the street from the gas station. Several uniformed cops amidst the crowd were keeping order. A police mortuary van drove off from the gas station. Two squad cars from the local precinct and an ambulance were parked at the station. High ranking police officers dressed in foul weather gear were all over the place. A mobile vehicle from one of the major networks pulled up across the street from the gas station. A cameraman and a reporter carrying a microphone and an umbrella stepped from the vehicle.
    A cop directing traffic motioned for Chicky to pull over to the curb. Terrified, Chicky turned white and stared at Ramon. “Holy shit Monch, why the hell’s he pulling us over?”
    “It’s obvious some shit went down. But don’t sweat it, seems as if they’re pulling everyone over.”
    “Get the bag, Monch. Bury it somewhere...anywhere. We’d be in deep shit if the cop saw the burglar equipment and the gun even though it’s bogus.”
    Ramon turned, grabbed the bag on the back seat, brought it to the front of the car, and shoved it under his seat.
    The cop approached the car, leaned over and stared through the open window. “There’s no through traffic, fellows. You can either make a U-turn, and I never told you to do so, or you could wait a couple’a minutes until things get squared away.”
    Chicky asked, “What happened, officer?”
    “Three gun toting thugs tried sticking up Rooster’s.”
    Astonished, Ramon and Chicky turned to stare at the other.
    Ramon then leaned toward the open window and looked up at the cop. “The old guy who works at the station is he alright?
    “If you mean, Arby, he’s just fine.”
    “Thank God,” Ramon sighed. “Did the thieves get away with much money, officer?”.
    “Get away? That’s a joke.”
    “Why’s that?” Chicky curiously asked.
    “First off, this is the third time this year thieves tried sticking up Rooster’s. All of the perpetrators, past and present, are either in prison or dead.”
    “Dead,” Chicky uttered, feeling a chill run up his spine.
    “That’s right. Just like the three hoodlums that tried sticking up Arby tonight. Two of them are on the way to the morgue and the other one’s barely alive. According to the ambulance physician he’ll be lucky if he makes it through the night.”
    Ramon asked, “It was three against one, wasn’t it, officer?”
    “Yep, sure was.”
    Chicky injected, “There’s no way Arby could’ve gotten the best of three thugs. I mean, unless, of course, he had a machine gun.”
    The cop laughed. “Arby doesn’t need a machine gun.”
    “You mean he shot it out with the three thugs by himself?”
    “There was no shootout. Those bandits never had a chance to begin with.” The officer noticed the puzzled expression on Ramon and Chicky’s faces. “You see here’s how it went down. The hoods stormed into the office with their guns drawn. One of them stuck a pistol in Arby’s face and demanded money.”
    Chicky said, “Arby must’ve been shitting in his pants, eh, officer?”
    The officer laughed. “I guess you fellows don’t know you?”
    “We gassed up here one night when he was on duty,” Ramon replied. “Other than that we don’t know him from a hole in the wall. Why’re you asking?”
    “Why? That’s because everyone in the neighborhood that don’t walk with their heads in the ground knows that old-timer’s one tough cookie. This evening when the three desperadoes stormed into the place, he went into his survival mode.”
    His survival mode?” Ramon inquisitively asked.
    “That’s right, his notorious survival mode. Arby makes a practice of using it whenever being held up.”
    “He went up against three armed bandits?” Ramon curiously asked. “What the hell could he have possibly done to have gotten the best of them?”
    “Simple! Here’s how the survival mode works. With the gun pressed against Arby’s temple, he pretends he’s having a stroke, acts faint and drops to the floor as if he had collapsed. As he’s lying stretched out, allegedly unconscious on the floorboards, the three hoods make a dash for the cash register. While they’re in the midst of emptying it, Arby pulls a .45 automatic from a holster attached to the back of his trousers and blows the three of them away. By the way, Arby also happens to be an expert marksman.”
    Car horns from an accumulation of vehicles backed up on the cross street kept blaring, the noise getting louder. The officer cordially smiled at Ramon and Chicky. “Take care, fellows. Duty calls.”
    “Thanks, officer, have a good night.”
    The officer tipped his cap, and then headed toward the congested vehicles.
    “Holy shit Monch! I can’t believe the old geezer actually got the best of those three thugs.”
    “I guess it’s lucky for us that we didn’t get here any sooner or we’d have been the target practice for Arby, eh, Chick?”
    “I can’t believe the old geezer was actually packing a rod.” Chicky shook his head. “And of all weapons a .45 automatic at that. Go figure.”
    “Arby carrying a piece is covered by Rule Twelve in “The Perfect Heist.”
    Confused Chicky mumbled, “Rule Twelve?”
    “Yep, Rule Twelve that states when pulling a stick-up, never take anything for granted. And that’s what Arby had going for him.”
    “How’s that, Monch?”
    “Simple! Anyone looking at Arby, just like us, took it for granted that he was a pushover. I guess the three hoodlums that tried sticking him up tonight never read “The Perfect Heist.”
    Chicky rubbed his chin as if in deep thought. “You know, other than the cook and waitress, Nick’s Diner was completely empty...wasn’t it, Monch?”
    “So’s your brain. I know exactly where this is going. Just forget it.”
    “C’mon, Monch, now that heisting Rooster’s is out, I figured as long as the diner’s empty we’d have no problem sticking up the place.
    “No problem?” Did you ever think that the waitress, just like Arby, might have a Luger or an Italian Beretta concealed in her bra or strapped to her girdle?”
    “Holy shit, I never thought of that!” Chicky gasped. “What the hell are we going to do now, you know, I mean for money?”
    “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to Nico’s Restaurant.” Ramon looked down at his wrist watch. “They close, depending on how busy they are, at one, one-thirty...two the latest. With some luck maybe Nico’s still there and maybe, just maybe, he still has some job openings.”
    “Monch, you don’t think Nico would be interviewing job applicants at this you?”
    Ramon shrugged. “I’m sure he doesn’t make a practice of it. But if he has some openings, close as we are, he’d tell us to come back tomorrow.”
    “C’mon, I’ll drive you.”
    On the way to Nico’s Restaurant, stopped at a red light, Chicky glanced at Ramon. “Monch, I was just wondering if Nico has an opening for a maitre d’.”
    Startled Ramon rubbed his chin and asked, “Maitre d’?” Whoa! What happened to your career as a stick-up man, Clyde?”
    “I’m on a temporary leave of absence.”
    Chicky pulled up to the only available parking space on the block, located directly across the street from Nico’s Restaurant. The bright restaurant lobby was congested with customers on their way out of the place, most carrying umbrellas and doggie bags.
    Ramon opened the car door and said, “C’mon, Chick, let’s go before Nico leaves.”
    The rain was heavy, as they climbed out of the car. They pulled jackets over their heads, dodged traffic, and ran across the street into the restaurant. The vast, magnificently decorated dining room was empty except for two busboys clearing tables. As the guys wandered about, suddenly someone tapped them on the shoulder. They turned. Standing before them was Nico in a fashionable tailored suit, tall, distinguished looking and handsome. He smiled at Ramon and Chicky “The kitchen and bar’s closed. What’re you boys doing here at this hour, and in this weather?”
    “We were hoping with some luck you might have some job openings...anything...any kind of work.” Ramon spoke in a meek and self conscious tone. “Nico, we’re not afraid to work and certainly not afraid of hard work...honest.”
    Nico smiled. “This isn’t the chain gang fellas, so don’t sweat the hard work. I just need people who’re conscientious and willing to work hard.” Nico looked down at his wristwatch. “By the way, you guys pick some strange hours to go job hunting.”
    “We just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought maybe...”
    Nico interrupted. “Forgive me. I don’t mean to be rude. It’s late and I have to clear the register, plus a million and one other things. But if you...”
    Disappointed, Ramon and Chicky mumbled, “Sorry, Nico...Have a nice night.” Discouraged they turned, and with hands stuffed in their pockets shuffled toward the door.”
    “Hold it, fellas,” Nico shouted, as he chased after them across the dining room.
    They stopped, turned and stared at Nico.
    “Why didn’t you guys give me a chance to finish what I was saying?”
    “, I mean...we just figured...” Ramon sputtered.
    “Stop your figuring. I’ll expect both of you to be here at precisely ten tomorrow morning. I’ve got two openings. One’s for a busboy and another for a dishwasher, both jobs include mopping floors and cleaning toilets. Does that interest you boys?”
    They stood at attention and anxiously nodded.
    Nico jerked a thumb over his shoulder toward the restaurants entrance. “Remember...its ten o’clock and don’t be late. Now beat it.”
    Ramon and Chicky bowed and both uttered, “Thank you boss.”
    “Excuse me, but didn’t I say beat it?”
    Thrilled, the duo walked out of the restaurant, as if they had just hit the Lotto. The rain was still heavy. Since the jalopy was parked across the street, the guys had no desire to get drenched, so they stood under the canopy, hoping the rain would eventually let up. Ramon put an arm around Chicky. “I can’t believe Nico actually hired us. Feels great, doesn’t it, Chick?”
    “Yep, it’ll be good to have some money in our pockets for a change.”
    “You know, it’s a miracle, Chick.”
    “What’s a miracle, you mean that Nico hired us?”
    “That, too, but that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
    “What the hell are you talking about, Monch?”
    “I’m talking miracles. I believe everything that happened tonight’s a kind of miracle...and it’s also a miracle that we’re both still alive”
    “Huh! You’re losing me, Monch.”
    “Think Chick. What if we hadn’t stopped at Nick’s Diner and gone directly to stick-up Rooster’s, then what, eh, Chick?”
    “Who knows? Anything’s possible. Maybe when we got to Rooster’s Arby would’ve been in the shithouse taking a crap. Then, there would’ve been no way he could’ve pulled off his survival routine on us.”
    “It’s easy to get cocky after the fact, Chick. In either case, here’s the way I see it. Strange as it may seem, bottom line, we’re indebted to Arby...indebted to him big time. Remember, if it weren’t for him blowing away those three bandits at Rooster’s we’d never have gone to Nico for work. And it’s anybody’s guess where we’d be right now...maybe in the morgue.”
    “Indebted, my ass!” Chicky pulled his jacket over his head. “C’mon, enough bullshit. Hard as it’s raining, let’s split. I’ve got to get some sleep. Nico want us back here at ten this morning.”
    Eight years later the guys were still employed at Nico’s Restaurant. In time Ramon was promoted to manager and the flamboyant Chicky began his apprenticeship as a waiter. Shortly afterwards he was upgraded to head waiter and eventually maitre d’. At seventy-three Nico had enough of the restaurant business and decided to retire. Instead of selling the place he handed it over to the guys on notes, with monthly payments of whatever they could afford.
    One night, just as Ramon and Chicky were about to close, Sergeant Jack McKenna from the local precinct walked into the place. He was dressed in civies so the guys knew he was off duty. Since taken over Nico’s the guys had gotten quite close with most at the precinct especially the brass and Sergeant McKenna. They could tell by the sorrowful expression blanketing his face that something was troubling him. “You alright, Jack?” Ramon asked.
    “Is the bar open? I need a drink.”
    “C’mon, Jack, you know the bar’s never closed for you.”
    Chicky ran behind the bar, held up a bottle of Smirnoff and asked, “Vodka on the rocks, right Jack?”
    “Make it a double, Chick.”
    “When’d you start drinking doubles, Jack?” Ramon suspiciously asked.
    “Tonight, I need it.”
    Chicky handed the Sergeant a double Vodka on the rocks, and McKenna gulped it down. “Give me one for the road, will you, Chick?” He took money from his pocket.
    “Don’t even think of it, Jack.” Ramon said. “Now, come clean. What the hell’s got you so upset?”
    “I’ve worked this precinct for the past twenty-five years. As a rookie beat cop I met Arby, who worked nights at Rooster’s Gas boys know the place?”
    “We’ve been there once some years back,” Ramon replied, wondering where this was going. Of course, he had no intention of telling the Sergeant back then he and Chicky had planned on sticking up Rooster’s.”
    “So I guess you boys don’t know, Arby?”
    “We met him once back was just a brief encounter, but what does any of this have to do with why you’re down in the dumps?”
    “Over the years Arby and I got close...I loved the guy.” He shook his head, than buried his face in his open palm. Seconds later, somewhat composed and with his voice breaking up, he said, “Arby’s dead.”
    “Oh my God, what happened? Ramon almost shouted.
    “Tuesday night Arby had a massive heart attack. We buried him today.”
    “Tough break,” Chicky sighed, handling McKenna a second double vodka on the rocks. “Please accept my condolences, Jack.”
    “Mine too,” Ramon added. “And if there’s anything you need, don’t be shy.”
    “Thanks fellas.” The Sergeant lifted the glass. “It’s a shame you guys didn’t know Arby. That old timer was one tough cookie. But inside he had a heart of gold, especially for those who were up against it.” McKenna gulped down the vodka in one quick swig. He shook his head and said, “You know Arby was quite a bright guy. No, forgive me, he wasn’t bright, he was brilliant. And most people didn’t know he was the author of two books.”
    Chicky curiously asked, “What kind of books did he write?”
    “They were non-fiction books Arby wrote about crime under a fictitious name.”
    “Crime?” Chicky gasped. He must’ve been an authority on the subject.”
    “Yes he was. As a young man Arby was an F.B.I. agent...or at least he was until his leg got shot-up in a gunfight, which is why he limps and walks with the use of a cane.”
    “What was the title of these books he wrote,” Ramon asked.
    “The first book he wrote...” McKenna scratched his head and paused for a second. “It’s been years since I last read it so don’t quote me, but I believe he titled it ‘The Perfect Heist.’”
    Ramon and Chicky were flabbergasted and speechless. They discreetly looked at each other as if in shock and almost dropped their glasses.
    McKenna did not realize the shape the guys were in continued. “The other book Arby wrote was, for nine or ten weeks, on The New York Times Best Sellers List.”
    Somewhat composed Ramon asked, “What was the title of that book, Jack?”
    “It was a sequel to his first book entitled ‘A Dozen Ways to Beat the Perfect Heist.’ And because Arby wrote under an alias the publisher thought sales would skyrocket if the book’s author was an ex-con on The F.B.I’s Ten Most Wanted List.” Sergeant McKenna shook his head and mumbled, “What bull shit! Arby was as straight as they come.” He nodded at the guys, and with his voice breaking up said, “Thanks for the consultation fellas.” He took a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his eyes. “Thanks for everything. I have to blow.”
    Ramon and Chicky watched, as McKenna shuffled his way toward the door. They noticed the grief on his face, when he turned to wave at them. Ramon began thinking of Arby. He realized to his embarrassment, that over the past eight years he had on occasion given Arby some thought. But those thoughts only occurred when someone, for whatever reason or other, mentioned Rooster’s Gas Station or when he heard of a stick-up that had been foiled by employees. Ashamed of himself, all Ramon could think of was Arby, visualizing him limping with the aid of a cane across the gas station. He thought of the night he courageously took down the three hoods by himself. Lucky for him and Chicky that incident happened 20 minutes prior to when they had planned on sticking up the gas station. Ramon, with a sigh of relief motioned to Chicky. “Pour me a drink, Chick.”
    Ramon vividly recollected that memorable night, thinking: I know for a fact that Arby killed the two thugs in cold blood and critically wounded the other. I know that it could have been Chicky and me instead of them. I also know, even though Chicky would never admit it, that that violent incident at Rooster’s brought him and I back to our senses. Ramon looked up toward the ceiling thinking: Thanks Arby, if it were not for you, taking out those three hoods we might’ve wound up being the next Jesse James, John Dillinger or dead.
    Chicky gave Ramon his drink, poured a beer for himself and sighed. “Shit! I can’t believe Arby’s dead. Isn’t that a bitch?”
    “Whoa! Since when’re you’re sentimental about Arby? I was always under the impression that you had no feeling one way or the other about him.”
    “That’s because I don’t always say what’s on my mind or how I feel and often keep things to myself...especially when I’m wrong.
    Ramon applauded. “Don’t stop now. You’re doing just fine, my boy.”
    “Excuse me! Can I please continue without any interruptions?”
    “The floor’s all yours.”
    Chicky pointed to the restaurant’s lavish décor. “Look at all of this. It’s elegant. And it’s all ours. I often think of how extravagantly we live...stylish clothes, magnificent homes, our beautiful wives and wonderful children.” He put his hand on Ramon’s shoulder. “And if you think just because I never speak of Arby or mention his name that I’ve got no feelings about him, that’s bullshit. Sure, it goes without saying that we also owe Nico for all this too. But if it weren’t for Arby, we would’ve never gone to Nico that night. And if it wasn’t for Arby, we’d probably be rotting in prison or digging ditches in the Sahara, living in some shithouse and still eating T.V. dinners, peanut butter and saltine crackers.”
    Ramon once again applauded. “Voil’a.”
    Both lifted their glasses, silently glanced at the other, and softly whispered, “Here’s to you, Arby. May you rest in peace?”

Nuclear Reaction

Patrick Fealey

    The sun got lost in a fog and then I saw the beach. I saw where the wires were going to, or coming from. Looming in the overcast, a gigantic dome sat by the beach. The surf was frothing in a hard onshore wind, the waves were shit. Knee-high whitecaps pawing the sand at the foot of a nuclear power plant. The plant was a dark gray, concrete painted the color of a warship, ocean camouflage. My skin peeled off in red sheets.

    I drove Weederman across a great wide lot to where there were cars and people, a young couple walking close through the sand, an older couple too, others tossing a Frisbee and dogs running free. The members of a family dressed in pink and purple windbreakers were eating cheese sandwiches and tossing some to floating gulls. There was one guy out, fighting with the water. Bobo would have attributed his attempts to radiation. He was a kid and you could tell he could surf and also that he knew better. He lacked restraint, maybe sense. It’s called addiction. Those six-inch waves were kicking his passionate ass. Bobo would have been unable to watch. I would have agreed with him, for once. This was no more than a windswept puddle. I hung out for a while because it was a beach and I had driven a way to get there and all I had to go back to was a house full of hung-over strangers and Stick. Stick and I were not getting along. We had an aversion on the particle level. Also, we lived in opposite planes.
    I watched the Frisbee get pushed around in the wind, the loose and smiling dogs, and the people, who seemed to have found a spot of enjoyment in the shadow of the giant dome. I never saw any of them look at it. I guessed they were used to it. There was little to look at, anyhow. It was deflective and cold. It was sealed and resistant. It was hidden out in the open, gunmetal and silent. There were no visible workers about, just wires tightly strung on insulators. The lines were impressive from an engineering standpoint. I was not opposed to nuclear power, but I had never been close enough to have one grab the landscape from me. There were practical reasons to put them by the ocean. There were reasons to put them elsewhere.

    I went down to the beach and sat on the concrete wall. There were not a lot of women around, but that didn’t mean a goddamned thing. It only took one and a brunette in her twenties walked by in grey sweats and white sneakers. I didn’t know it yet, but her name was Julia. I could see that she was tall and beautiful, but I didn’t know she was Italian and she had bought a copy of William Blake in a used book store that morning. My first impression was that she was a graduate student at Cal-Poly and she was. Mathematics. I thought I’d lost her, but she walked back to me and it was do or die. We smiled and said hello at the same time. She was standing before me.
    “What are you doing?” she said.
    I said, “I’m looking for a woman to talk to while trying to keep the seagulls from reading my thoughts. I’m not having many thoughts, but I don’t want any seagull picking one up.”
    She said, “I knew you would still be here because I would be coming back. I’m glad you are.”
    “My name’s Tommy.”
    “Julia. Nice to meet you.”
    “Nice to meet you.”
    She sat down and we talked. We had all the subjects available to us. She was a most confident and attuned and open girl, if a little enthusiastic. Things moved fast, but she was comfortable with that, good at that. I was the one being seduced. Two hours passed.
    She brought up the fog and suggested we sit in her car. Having seen that she was driving a compact, I suggested Weederman. She agreed. As we stood up, I stepped into her. I was not at all nervous. I liked her. She kissed me back like she wanted everything on the sand. We stopped at her car so she could grab her purse and then we went in through Weederman’s side door. We were out of our clothes in seconds.

    “You have a ten-inch cock!” she said.
    She found her purse, produced a tape measure, pulled out a foot of tape and aligned it. “You’re right. It’s only eight. But it’s not even all the way hard.” She put her mouth on me. I didn’t want her to stop, but-
    “Get that ruler - is cold - offa me!”
    “You know how many dicks I’ve seen?”
    “I don’t want to know.”
    “You might be number two out of hundreds. Three-hundred.”

“Three- hundred?”
    “No, okay, two hundred.”
    “You’re a lying whore.”
    “You can’t handle the truth.”
    “You can’t measure the truth.”
    “More than a hundred. Less than three hundred.”
    “Who’s number one?”
    “The first or the biggest?”
    “Whichever you can remember.”
    She lit up. I was wilting. “He had a twelve-inch cock.”
    “Adjusting for your excitement and exaggerations, that would be a ten-inch cock,” I said.
    “No, it was a twelve-inch cock. Just like this ruler. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t go out with him again. He’s too big. It hurt. And he’s fucked up. He’s a real fucked-up person.”
    “So I’m number two?”
    “I think so.”
    “Am I also fucked up?”
    “Well, look at you.”
    “So, truthfully, you can only remember number one for sure.”
    “Well. You’re up there with him.”
    “No I’m not. He’s 50-percent more. He is the biggest and then there are the rest of us.”
    “You’re perfect.”
    “Yeah, I’m here.”
    “Do you know how many dicks I’ve endured that were no bigger than a hot dog?”
    “No, but they’re out there and you never know when someone’s gonna spring one on ya.”
    “I’ll take your word.”
    “Think about a cock the size of your pinky, what would you say to that?”
    “I don’t know. ‘I’ll have a hamburger?’”
    “Mercy is no place for mercy, I mean bed isn’t. Trust me, you have a huge cock. I can’t believe no one’s ever told you that before.”
    “Just the guys in the shower making jokes.”
    She laughed. “Males of all species, assemble and brawl it out.”
    “If they hadn’t, I might not believe you. I don’t know. There was a girl who brought down the house every time, a thousand times, and all she ever said was, ‘I have no complaints.’ I guess I really didn’t need to ask her.”
    “The bitch was playing poker.”
    “You’re the first chick.”
    “Yes. I’m the only woman for whom size matters.” she laughed. “Size is presence. Simple as that. Sex is about being there, right? Don’t you agree?”
    “And getting there.”
    “The amazing thing about cocks, to me is how much they can grow. Look at you now. You must be down to two inches.”
    “Get that thing away from me!”

    Afterward we sat in Weederman’s front seats and laughed. Then we were staring at the weathered Pacific through wiped windows, the life gone out of us. It wasn’t that the sex was all we had and we had nothing to say. It was the realization that we had no future and we might have had one. The sex had been monstrous after she put away the tape measure, though she said it was not unusual for her to come four times in one hour. I’d finished from behind and it was a better view when she moaned from deep inside and I came and fell onto her white back. Then we laughed. But our journey led us to silence. I was leaving in the morning. We went to different schools six-hundred miles apart. We didn’t delude ourselves. We’d made something that would live one day. We wrote down addresses and numbers and I left her at the beach where it started and drove back feeling like I’d been forced to give back something I’d just won. I was satiated and I threw her address out the window.

The Wind from Nowhere

Nora McDonald

    Kathryn Harrison’s guardian angel had been dead for seven years. Or asleep. Either way she was unreliable. In fact the only thing Kathryn could rely on her for was her unreliability. Until the day of the wind from nowhere.
    Until that day Kathryn had never really believed in guardian angels anyway. Though she’d often wondered why some people had much more luck than others.
    “You make your own luck!” her father had often counselled her and in his case it had appeared to be true. Fired with genes of dynamism, Kathryn had tried to emulate her father’s example that hard work and determination made for success. But somehow success, happiness and even financial stability had all seemed to elude her. The death of her mother, her divorce and the children leaving home had left her raw and lacking in either confidence or hope for the future.
    The trouble was herself. And she knew it. She was a master of bad decisions and bad timing.
    But it was this last one that had her particularly agitated. And her daughters weren’t helping.
    “You’ve booked a holiday on your own! You can’t do that!” they’d both said.
    “Why not?” she defended, though secretly she had great reservations about why she had. Travelling with her husband and children had been easy. But herself? How would she cope?
     “It’s no big deal,” she said, more confidently than she felt. “Lots of people go away on their own. It’s time I did.”
    “But it’s not safe – a woman travelling on her own! Anything could happen!”
    “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said her friend, Maureen, at work the next day. “Did you hear about Rose and her husband?”
    Kathryn didn’t really want to but knew Maureen was going to tell her anyway.
    “They were mugged in the Paris Metro. Someone pushed them from behind and ran off with Rose’s husband’s wallet – all his money and credit cards were in it.”
    “But I’m not going to Paris,” Kathryn corrected her.
    “Paris, Cyprus? What difference does it make. There are criminals everywhere. And a woman on her own. You’d be easy pickings. No, if I were you I’d cancel the holiday. You’d be safer staying at home.”
    “It’s the evenings that are the worst,” said her single friend Muriel, who’d inspired her to holiday alone in the first place. It was Saturday and they’d met up for their usual cup of coffee and a chat. “Everyone’s in couples or families and you feel terribly self-conscious sitting in restaurants and bars alone. Mind you, the days are just as bad. Everyone stares at you and wonders why you’re alone.”
    As the days to the holiday approached, Kathryn felt more and more anxious.
    Why did I book the holiday in the first place? she thought to herself. What am I trying to prove?
    Then she remembered all the wonderful holidays she’d had in the past.
    I deserve a holiday, she scolded herself. Why should the fact I’m on my own make any difference? You’re going and that’s that! she decided.
    But by the Monday of the holiday week she felt ill.
    You’re not ill. You’re just getting yourself in a state about going! she reprimanded herself.
    But it only made her feel worse.
    “For God’s sake, just cancel the holiday!” said her daughter, Leanne. “You can’t go away if you’re ill. I’ll spend the whole time worrying about you! And what if you’re ill when you’re away!”
    A mental image of a foreign hospital flashed across Kathryn’s mind.
    Leanne was right. She couldn’t take that risk. She’d cancel the holiday!
    An hour later, she’d changed her mind.
    I can’t afford to lose all that money, she thought. And there’s no way I’m going to get it all back! I’ll just have to go!
    “You don’t have to go, you know,” said Leanne at the airport the day of her departure.
    “Yes, I do,” said Kathryn, more confidently than she felt, at the sight of thousands of other passengers, at the airport terminal.
    “Well, if you’re sure. But if anything goes wrong, phone me and I’ll come straight over.”
    Kathryn smiled, thinking how lucky she was to have someone to care about her.
    “I will,” she said, giving Leanne a hug as she joined the queue to go through security.
    Leanne’s reply faded into the noise of the terminal as Kathryn felt herself moving forward and emerging out into the departure lounge.
    Kathryn was suddenly aware of everyone around her talking. A feeling of foreboding hit her at the thought of having no one to talk to for a whole week.
    Ridiculous! she said to herself. There would be plenty of people to talk to. She just had to make an effort to speak to people. And she’d start in the plane. She’d speak to whoever was sitting next to her. She might even make a new friend.
    It was the ideal seat. The lady who had allocated her it obviously thought so and she would have too. Seven years ago. Room to stretch out and even put your feet up. But Kathryn looked at the two empty seats beside her in the plane with a feeling of gloom. She looked around the plane. Everyone else had people sitting beside them. Except her.
    Never mind she comforted herself, stretching out her legs on the vacant seats. There’ll be plenty of people to speak to in the bus. At least a few of them would be going to her hotel.
    “You look a little lost by your self,” said the slim, dark-haired lady who had clambered on to the coach followed by a silver-haired man.
    Kathryn smiled. She looked around the empty coach.
    “You’re unlucky,” said the woman. “The coach is usually full. With lots of people on their own.”
    Kathryn felt her heart sink at her words.
    Unlucky, she thought. Yes. That about summed up her life. She’d come to expect nothing else.
    Still there was one consolation. At least there would be one friendly face at her hotel.
    After an hour the coach stopped. Kathryn peered out into the darkness. Was this her hotel?
    “Hotel Potamos Beach,” said the holiday representative from the front of the darkened coach.
    That’s not my hotel, thought Kathryn and watched with dismay as the friendly woman and her husband gathered their belongings, said goodbye to her and left the coach.
    It can’t just be me going to my hotel, she thought.
    But she knew it was.
    How about giving me a little luck for a change! she thought angrily gazing up at the dark, brooding sky.
    There was nothing but a sinking feeling in her stomach at the thought of a long, lonely week on her own.
    Everyone had been right. Holidaying alone was a bad idea!
    This will be the last holiday I ever take on my own! vowed Kathryn.
    It was a long week. And by the end of it Kathryn felt like a blocked volcano unable to erupt. If only she had someone to speak to! Not that she hadn’t tried. There’d been the beach attendant who hired out the sun-beds, the taxi-drivers who’d taken her where she’d wanted to go and the hotel staff and, although she’d been grateful to have them all to talk to, their knowledge of English and their time was limited.
    And now it was her last evening. And she was glad. Muriel had been right. The evenings were the worst. The daytimes she had filled with trips to the beach, the city and the mountains but the evenings after dinner had either consisted of her sitting on the balcony of her hotel and going to bed early or tramping aimlessly round the café-filled streets near her hotel, envying the happy, laughing groups of holiday-makers that seemed to fill them. And tonight was no different.
    The air was warm, still and humid as she walked down the hotel steps. It was too hot to sit on her balcony. The trees opposite the hotel hung depressingly listless, as though praying silently for a breeze. But none came.
    Kathryn walked along the street that ran parallel to the sea. The pavements were full of couples walking hand in hand or large groups of families forcing Kathryn to step off on to the road.
    I should turn back, thought Kathryn, when she’d walked a fair distance from her hotel.
    She wiped the beads of sweat that had gathered on her top lip.
    If only there was a breeze, she thought. It would make everything much more bearable. But there was not the slightest stirring of the tree above her head.
    She stopped at a table outside a travel agency. Piles of leaflets lay there covered in the week’s dust. Kathryn didn’t know why she stopped. The leaflets were all about trips. She wouldn’t be going on any more trips. She was going home tomorrow. And she couldn’t wait.
    Someone else had stopped to pick up a dusty leaflet when out of nowhere came the wind. Like a tornado that sprang from nowhere it seemed to centre on the table whipping the dusty leaflets into the air and scattering them like falling leaves fluttering to the ground.
    Hands grabbed for the leaflets. The shop owner appeared from somewhere and Kathryn felt herself picking up leaflets from the ground. Her hand grabbed the same one another woman had. Their eyes met. And the wind that had sprung out of nowhere was gone as fast as it had come.
    “That sure was strange,” said an American voice.
    Global warming, probably,” said Kathryn.
    “Maybe,” said the woman, “and then again, maybe not.”
    She smiled. It was a nice smile.
    She must be around seventy, thought Kathryn. Imagine travelling at that age! She’s probably come away with her family.
    “We don’t want to lose these, do we?” said the woman placing them tidily back on the table. “We won’t know what trips to take.”
    “I won’t be taking any more trips anyway,” said Kathryn. “I’m going home tomorrow and I can’t wait.”
    The woman looked at her strangely.
    “Haven’t you enjoyed your holiday here?” she said.
    “No,” said Kathryn. “It was my first holiday alone and I’ve hated every minute of it!”
    “You have? How strange.”
    What would you know about it? thought Kathryn. No one knows what it’s like until they’re on their own.
    “I’m on my own too,” said the woman. “I’ve holidayed alone since my husband died.”
    “Oh, I’m sorry,” said Kathryn.
    “I’m sorry too,” went on the woman. “But then Larry never liked travelling. That’s when I decided I wanted to see a bit of the world. I’ve been all over. And I don’t regret one minute of it.”
    Kathryn looked at her, amazed.
    If a woman this age is not afraid to travel on her own, she thought, what am I making such a fuss about?
    “See the world,” said the woman. “While you can. It’s a wonderful place,” she said, grasping Kathryn’s hand warmly.
    And then she was gone. As swiftly as the wind had.
    “I think you’re very brave,” said the Glaswegian lady waiting along with Kathryn for the pick-up coach to take her, her husband and Kathryn to the airport the next morning. “Going off on holiday by yourself. My mother just sits at home and won’t go anywhere. She’s too frightened.”
    Kathryn smiled.
    “I’m not brave,” she said, “unless being brave means doing something you’re totally terrified of.”
    She paused, suddenly remembering the effect the effect the American lady’s words had had on her.
    “Tell your mum to do it even though she’s terrified and it seems like a bad decision. She’ll never regret it. The world’s a wonderful place, you know. That’s one thing you can rely on.”
    Kathryn smiled to herself as she stepped aboard the coach to the airport. She’d been wrong. Her guardian angel wasn’t dead. Or asleep. She was the one who had been both. And now for the first time she felt alive. And lucky. This wouldn’t be her last holiday. This would be the first of many. She had so many interesting people still to meet. Her dad had been right. You make your own luck. You don’t rely on anyone else. But along the way, you might just get a little help from a wind from nowhere.


Justin Hunter

    She touches the bubbled, rough skin below her right eye.
    A rock, kicked up from the back tire of one of the 4x4s the boys drive after school.
    She lays her arm on the table and rotates it so her forearm is facing up. Long, pink lines. Raised skin.
    I thought I could juggle swords. Not swords, really. Kitchen knives. Like I was in a circus.
    She turns in her chair, lifts the back of her shirt above the waist. She can’t see it. Can’t really feel it. But she knows it’s there.
    No, not a belt. Well, it was a belt of sorts. I tripped in the garage and managed to land right on top of dad’s belt sander. And it had been left on.
    She shakes her head.
    My father? He always told me I shouldn’t have been so beautiful. Shouldn’t have been so much like my mom.
    Her finger hurts when it rains, but not right now. Not as she lifts it just above the table to show the angle at which it bends to the left.
    Car door.
    She listens then pulls her hair back from her face, away from the skin just below her ear. She bunches her hair behind her head in a ponytail, careful not to touch the purple bruise along her jaw.
    No, I couldn’t say that. My dad’s not like that. He’s just tired of remembering my mom.

Author Bio:

    Justin Hunter is currently working on his MFA at Arcadia University. He lives in Dallas with his wife and two boys. When he’s not writing, Justin is probably buried under a doggie pile of children and, well, dogs.

bruise photo copyright 1990-2017 Janet Kuypers


Janet Kuypers

    Like when the Grossman’s German shepherd bit the inside of my knee. I was baby sitting two girls and a dog named “Rosco.” I remember being pushed to the floor by the dog, I was on my back, kicking, as this dog was gnawing on my leg, and I remember thinking, “I can’t believe a dog named Rosco is attacking me.” And I was thinking that I had to be strong for those two little girls, who were watching it all. I couldn’t cry.

    Or when I stepped off Scott’s motorcycle at 2:00 a.m. and burned my calf on the exhaust pipe. I was drunk when he was driving and I was careless when I swung my leg over the back. It didn’t even hurt when I did it, but the next day it blistered and peeled; it looked inhuman. I had to bandage it for weeks. It hurt like hell.

    When I was little, roller skating in my driveway, and I fell. My parents yelled at me, “Did you crack the sidewalk?”

    When I was kissing someone, and I scraped my right knee against the wall. Or maybe it was the carpet. When someone asks me what that scar is from, I tell them I fell.

    Or when I was riding my bicycle and I fell when my front wheel skidded in the gravel. I had to walk home. Blood was dripping from my elbow to my wrist; I remember thinking that the blood looked thick, but that nothing hurt. I sat on the toilet seat cover while my sister cleaned me up. It was a small bathroom. I felt like the walls could have fallen in on me at any time. Years later, and I can still see the dirt under my skin on my elbows.

    Or when I was five years old and my dad called me an ass-hole because I made a mess in the living room. I didn’t.

    Like when I scratched my chin when I had the chicken pox.

Order this iTunes track: Janet Kuypers - The Chaotic Collection #01-05 - Scars
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CD: Janet Kuypers - Chaotic Elements
the poetry audio CD set“HopeChest in the Attic”
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13 Years of Poetry & Prose
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Janet Kuypers - Etc
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(2:58) live 04/15/09 at the Café
Listen mp3 file to the DMJ Art Connection
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of Janet Kuypers reading this prose “Scars” in Nashville TN 5/18/13 after her Tag Team feature reading
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of Janet Kuypers reading “Scars” and “Children, Churches and Daddies” in Nashville TN 5/18/13 after the Tag Team feature reading
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of Janet Kuypers reading her Scars 2015 medley (based on parts of the prose poem Scars and the poems Scars 1997 and Scars 2000 10/6/15 at Quenchers open mic in Chicago (Cfs)
video See YouTube video
of Janet Kuypers reading her Scars 2015 medley (based on parts of the prose poem Scars and the poems Scars 1997 and Scars 2000 10/6/15 at Quenchers open mic in Chicago (Cps)
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of Janet Kuypers reading 5 poems: Once Wanted You as my Friend, Escaping Every Cage, and a Scars medley (based on parts of the prose poem Scars and the poems Scars 1997 and Scars 2000, then Too Far and Children, Churches and Daddies 10/6/15 at Quenchers open mic in Chicago
See YouTube video (Cps)
of Janet Kuypers reading 5 poems: Once Wanted You as my Friend, Escaping Every Cage, and a Scars medley (based on parts of the prose poem Scars and the poems Scars 1997 and Scars 2000, then Too Far and Children, Churches and Daddies 10/6/15 at Quenchers open mic in Chicago
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her prose Scars in the first round at the final Austin installment (at her house) of the Poetry Plus open mic 7/22/16 (this video was Canon Power Shot camera).
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See YouTube video of Janet Kuypers reading her prose Scars in the first round at the final Austin installment (at her house) of the Poetry Plus open mic 7/22/16 (this video was filmed w/ a Sony camera).

Read the Janet Kuypers bio.

Running Man

Phil Temples

    Running Man turned the corner at Brattle, and headed up Church Street. He stopped briefly at the Border Café and peered at his reflection in the window. In it he saw a 40ish, white male wearing jogging clothes, sporting dark, brown hair with a hint of grey, a thick mustache and glasses. Running Man was not exactly stunning, but he wasn’t ugly, either.
    For the past few minutes, Running Man was aware of a disturbing fact: he did not know himself. This is not to say that he was suffering an identity crisis. Actually, he did not know his name! Nor had he any knowledge of where he lived, whether he had loved ones, or even if he was gainfully employed.
    Running Man felt that he held some sort of job. He imagined that it could be just about anything: office manager, engineer—perhaps even tradesman.
    As he rounded the corner past First Parish Church, Running Man glanced down at his hands. They were relatively smooth, free of callouses, with well-groomed nails. He was probably employed in some professional capacity. And the fancy diamond ring he wore on the middle finger of his right hand looked very expensive. Running Man guessed that it was not a wedding ring, for the ring was on the wrong hand—unless, of course, he was European. No, he was pretty sure that he was an American. And, Running Man recognized the streets; the town, Cambridge, Massachusetts; the neighborhood, Harvard Square. He must live or work around here.
    This is silly, Running Man thought to himself. I must be somebody. I must be suffering from amnesia. Perhaps I fell along the way and hit my head. He reached up and felt his noggin. Everything felt okay to him—no lumps or sore spots.
    “Who am I?” he said, to no one in particular, along the busy Massachusetts Avenue sidewalk.
    Running Man felt in great shape. He had no idea how long he’d been running, where he had come from, or where he was running to.
    Keep moving, don’t stop.
    Running Man decided it might be a good idea in the interim to give his self a name. Possessing a make-believe identity could help spur his unconscious to recall something.
    “My name is Ralph,” he said. Running Man fancied he looked like a Ralph, whatever Ralphs look like.
    Ralph thought that he might be concentrating too hard on the problem at hand. He cleared his mind of any thoughts, and focused on the steady rhythm of his heartbeat and the pounding of his feet on the pavement. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and the temperature was perfect for running: not too warm, not too cold.
    Don’t look back.
    Perhaps Ralph was running from somebody or something. Maybe even the law. No, Ralph didn’t think so. He didn’t regard himself—whoever he was—to be the sort of person to run afoul of societal rules in any serious way. Ralph was no doubt an upstanding, law-abiding citizen.
    Ralph leapt agilely over an ancient tree root that was slowly winning its war with the cement sidewalk in front of the Temple Bar. He then paused for a moment to check his pulse, all the while shooting a quick glance over his shoulder to see if anyone was following him.
    The coast looked clear.
    Ralph wondered: “Should I find the nearest police station, walk up to the desk sergeant and calmly announce that I’m ‘Completely Clueless in Cambridge?’ They’d probably lock me up in a padded cell.”
    “Hmm . . . What if I’m a professional assassin?” he wondered. “Or an agent who’s been brain washed. I’ve been programmed to go completely blank when the enemy is in pursuit.
    Ralph recalled the 1962 movie “The Manchurian Candidate” starring Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey, in which one of the characters was brainwashed by the North Koreans only to be “woken up” years later by a code phrase to obey a command to assassinate an important public figure.
    Ralph realized that his imagination was running away with him. And, the “Ralph” charade wasn’t getting him any closer to answers, either.
    Running Man crossed the street and continued his run back through the law school campus. As he passed Langdell Hall, Running Man thought that this particular area seemed awfully familiar. He wondered if he worked there.
    Running Man continued past the Science Center and into Harvard Yard. Even though others might know who he was, as far as he was concerned he had no identity now.
    “This is a blessing in disguise,” Running Man thought.
    If I am—no, if I had been a lawyer or a law school professor, then the world will now be better off now with one less lawyer.
    And although he couldn’t be absolutely certain, Running Man felt strongly that he had no one waiting for him on the home front: no wife, no parents, or children. No one would miss him. It was all clear to him now—divine providence had interceded to award him a new lease on life.
    The Running Man turned his back on Harvard and ran east toward Central Square, supremely confident in the fact that his future lay somewhere.

Phil Temples Brief Bio

    Phil Temples lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, and works as a computer systems administrator at a university. He has published over one hundred works of short fiction in print and online journals. Blue Mustang Press recently published Phil’s full-length murder-mystery novel, “The Winship Affair.” And his new paranormal-horror novel, “Helltown Chronicles,” has just been accepted by Eternal Press.

from Ronald Charles Epstein:

TCM Star of the Month-Shirley Temple (July 2015)

FILM: The Little Fascist Princess
CAST: Shirley Temple---Princess Lizzie
Lawrence Howard---King Eddie
Myrna Loy---Wally
Leslie Howard---The Duke of York
Margaret Dumont---The Duchess of York
Basil Rathbone---Sir Oswald Moseley
Mairzy/Doazy Doats---Princess Maggie

RUNTIME: 92 minutes

SYNOPSIS: This rarity was recently discovered in a studio vault and painstakingly restored at UCLA. MGM’s musical comedy premiered in August of 1939 and was suddenly withdrawn in September. This feature is mainly known for its distinguished cast. Shirley Temple is appealing here, but the picture is nearly stolen by Basil Rathbone as Sir Oswald Moseley, founder of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). The production values are lower than other Temple vehicles. The only memorable scene is the musical sequence “Seig Heil! (Like Uncle Eddie)”, featuring Temple and Howard, both in black shirts, simultaneously tap-dancing. They are backed by Rathbone and a men’s chorus, all in BUF uniforms. Mildly popular in its time, it exists today as a mere curio for the hard-core Shirley Temple fan. A tragic footnote-Doazy Doats, one of the twins who played Princess Maggie, was picked up for solicitation in 1954 by the California Highway Patrol by a Route 66 roadhouse (Hollywood Boulevard was then too classy for junkie prostitutes).

-Robert Osborne

An Immodest Proposal

Donal Mahoney

with apologies to Jonathan Swift

    The other day I was talking to a neighbor who said he has found a way to help the poor and improve our environment simultaneously. It’s no secret, he said, that we have a dire food shortage among the chronically poor. It’s also no secret, he pointed out, that many of our cities are overrun with feral cats.
    Organizations already exist, he said, that trap and neuter feral cats and then let them loose again. These cats, he said, turn up on our porches, tails up, looking for food.
    My neighbor is a wild game hunter who has hunted on many continents. The heads of many of his prey are mounted on his walls. He says he should not be the only one hunting feral cats in an urban environment, something he does when he is not overseas hunting bigger animals. He sees feral cats as a viable food source not only for the poor but for anyone who likes wild game.
    He’s partial to a dish called “Feral Cat and Dumplings,” a recipe he shared with me after I talked with him in our alley early one morning while taking out the garbage. He had a lumpy canvas bag over his shoulder and said he had had a good night hunting. (He didn’t say anything when I told him I thought I saw one lump wiggling.)
    Here is his most popular recipe for feral cat, the seasoning for which, he said, can be adapted to taste:
    Feral Cat and Dumplings
    Skin and cut up your cat as you would a young rabbit. Season the cat with salt, pepper, garlic, and diced onion and then pressure-cook the pieces until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the meat from the bone and save the broth.
    Dumpling Ingredients:
    1 egg (preferably from a free-range hen until she plumps up enough for a future meal)
    ½ cup cooled cat broth
    1 teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
    Mix ingredients with enough flour to make a firm dough. Turn dough out onto a board and knead in the flour until dough is stiff. Roll the dough out thin and let it stand for an hour. (If cooking outside in warm weather after shooting the cat, stand near the dough to wave away flies and other insects.) Slice the dough into diamond and/or noodle shapes and drop into boiling cat broth.
    Water may be added to the broth if so desired. This is recommended if entertaining guests who have never dined on cat before. Then drop the boned cat meat into the broth and simmer over low heat for at least 10 to 20 minutes before serving. It’s fine to withhold the dough and use the cat meat alone to make Curried Cat or Cat Tacos should cultural tastes make one of those more appealing.
    There is a movement under way, my friend told me, to print out this recipe and post it in food pantries and local shelters throughout the world so interested parties can copy it, trap or shoot their own feral cat and then make a nice inexpensive meal at home.
    My friend isn’t certain if the recipe is online yet since he’s not into computers but he said getting the recipe out to the public, here and abroad, is what’s important. He sees it as a step in the right direction for feeding the poor and ridding our environment of feral cats.
    Eating feral cats, he said, is a lot cheaper than trapping and neutering them or aborting captured females, something proposed by a new organization that he says is called Planned Cathood. He says he’ll give me a brochure on Planned Cathood later on.
    I asked him if he thought one might grind up feral cat meat and make quarter-pounders with cheese, tomato and Bermuda onion on a toasted sesame seed bun. Children, I mentioned, often love burgers.
    He said he thought one of the cats in his bag was just the right size and probably marbled enough to whip up some thick burgers for his family that night.
    My neighbor is proof that there is no end to the inventiveness of man when it comes to helping the poor and at the same time cleaning up our environment.

Donal Mahoney bio

    Nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, Donal Mahoney, a product of Chicago, lives in exile now in St. Louis, Missouri. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune and Commonweal. Some of his online work can be found at

Smit and Williams

Bernard Otto

    When they met four decades ago they hated each other, but it alternated between mutual cooperation to perform an assignment to intimidating stares in the locker-room daring one another to strike first. A line they dare not cross if they wanted their good government jobs. Their rivalry was no secret and opened doors for rumor and instigators. Was it love? No, neither was gay; it was the deadliest mixture of all, envy and jealousy, the cocktail that destroyed big and small, everything. In their interest the two enemies transferred to different departments and later regions of the city.
    Females loved Aaron Williams, they put in simple terms; he was cute, very cute and Bart Smit let him know he objected. Williams stood 6'3", thin with a muscular physique, smooth skin with piercing intellectual eyes. He didn’t speak too often, but when he did his points on any subject, especially after a few drinks, people paid attention. Bart Smit was the opposite, medium height, wide build with a developed beer belly. His opinionated personality couldn’t tolerate criticism. He was a current event and sports guy, unlike Williams who didn’t understand the depth of football and basketball but loved them anyway. Smit’s high self esteem put him the self made intellectual elite amongst his co-workers. He and the other know-it-all’s said Williams was an idiot who didn’t bed as many females as he could. But, their sexual prowess couldn’t keep a few of them their jobs once cocaine entered their lives in the early 80’s. He adjusted the height of his bed. When they wheeled him in them the slim attractive nurse with the heavy chest jokingly told Aaron, “Mr. Williams, you keep Mr. Smit good company when he wakes or I’m going to kick you out of here and put you back to work. Ok?”
    “Yes, ma’am.” He didn’t know why he asked the guys first name, but when she said Bart he couldn’t believe it. After all these years.
    What will Smit think when he finds Williams next to him?
    The nurse pulled the curtain around him and hooked up the equipment. Too bad he couldn’t stand over him when he awakens, but then he might not recognize him. A re-introduction would be appropriate. “Hello, Mr. Smit, remember me, Aaron Williams?” That might kill him, but whatever ailed Smit was terminal. That much he was sure of, but he didn’t like the fact after a routine appendectomy he was wheeled into this part of the hospice section. Overcrowding or what? But, he loved the virtual reality rooms with the blank white walls that came to life with 3D TV and holographic projections. Soon his doctor would make his rounds; he closed his eyes.
    “Mr. Williams, how are you feeling?” A male voice inquired and holds open his eye and inspected his pupils then he lifted his gown and inspected his lower belly area.
    “I’m fine, Dr. Wells and you?”
    “Good to see you. The surgery went well and you’ll back at work soon. You gave us a scare for a while there. You had grabbed your lower abdomen, bent over and hit your head on a patient bed rail and knocked yourself out.”
    “Well, what am I doing in the hospice section?” Williams tried to sit up, but decided to let the bed do the work.
    “For closer observation for concussion and ICU’s full, you should be out soon. OK, see you.” The awkward shaped surgeon with the shoulder length blond hair left the room. Behind the drawn curtain Williams heard a weak voice.
    “Excuse me sir, you sound familiar.”
    “I sound familiar because it’s me, Aaron Williams...Bart Smit.” His old nemesis coughed hard and long. “Boy that sounds like it hurts, Smit.” Silence. Whatever was killing Smit he figured it had gotten worse. “Cat got your tongue, Smit?”
    “No, no cat got my tongue you son of a bitch. I still can’t stand you. What are you doing in my room? Oh, that’s right...hospice like me.” Smit sighed hard. “What did I do to be in the same room with you?”
    “You sound weak, take it easy, Smit. Don’t let all that hate shorten what little life you have left.” Williams giggled.
    “What’s funny?”
    Williams eased out of bed and adjusted his IV pole and snatched back the curtain. “Your face and forty years later you still think that broken nose, pitted face is pretty.”
    “Whatever I think you’re in here with me, pretty boy.”
    “Thanks for the compliment. Let me take a guess, Smit. It’s your pancreas?”
    “None of your business, asshole. I’m glad you’re here, thief.”
    “I wasn’t a thief, you self righteous prick.” Williams hissed in Smit’s swollen cratered face. “People like you trying to get in their brownie points for a few more dollars and easier positions.” Williams scanned the machines monitoring Smit. “Looks like all that athletic stuff you bragged about didn’t work now did it?” His BP monitor beeped while the numbers skyrocketed.
    “Relax.” He reached to touch him.
    “Don’t touch me!”
    Williams stepped back and shook his head. He didn’t want the staff to hear him shout and blame him for his earlier demise. Smit was half the size he remembered, but his same hateful and envious air remained. Williams left the curtain back and returned to his bed. “Nighty, nighty, Smit, sleep tighty.” He said in a child like voice.
    “Go to hell.”
    “Can’t do that, Smit, but I will get some sleep.”


    Williams’s eyes lid parted when he was nudged several times. “Wake up, Aaron, you’re snoring again.” Somebody whispered in his ear.
    “OK. Is that you, Mary?”
    “Yeah, it’s me, we miss you, when you coming back to work? You scared us for a minute when you hit your head.”
    He turned toward his Philippine coworker. “Shh, don’t let him hear you.”
    “OK, go back to sleep. I just popped in to say hello and stop snoring. Bye.” She kissed him on the cheek and left.
    Several doctors and nurses came in, smiled and pulled the curtain around Smit. They questioned him about this and that. Williams closed his eyes and ignored them. The medical team left with solemn expressions. It was obvious a few were students and not accustomed to terminal patients. “I know you were listening, which I don’t give a shit, but it’ll be interesting to see who leaves first, me or you, pretty boy or used to be.” Smit snickered.
    “Good, you have a sense of humor, Smit.”
    “Answer something for me. How did you make it after all these years drinking so much?”
    “’ll figure it out, smart guy.” Williams got out of bed and snatched the curtain. “I know your diminished mental capacity might not understand this, but I still retired and I assume so did you.”
    “OK, smart guy but since we’re here I remember you thought you were high and mighty going to school.” Smit giggled then coughed like mad. “You thought you could qualify to go to the mechanic section, but not while I was around, pretty boy.”
    “Oh, really.” Williams recalled the changes he went through to pass that test. He’d taken several work provided correspondence courses and his other strategy was simple. Take the test to find out what’s on it. On test day bring all his reference material and when he finished run back to the car and mark off the sections that were on the test. After two tries he had everything he needed; he passed with a decent score, but took it again and scored higher. When there was an opening he told his family the job was in the bag and they went for a premature celebration. The supervisor interviewed him and declined him the position, “I heard you are trouble, Mr. Williams.” He said. He was devastated, dock working wasn’t for him, but he did have an attendance problem. But, he did try to negotiate with the guy, but he smiled and still said, “No way.” He felt like a fool when he told his family. Williams went in another direction in the company and retired with a livable pension. That unfortunate incident happened over twenty years ago. Now that half dead asshole mentions it. He looked down at the sickly Smit and exhaled slowly. He wanted to punch him. “You’re a dirty guy, Smit. For a second I wanted to cut your life line—”
    “Why? You’re going to die too. Ha, ha, I heard you got fired.”
    Williams couldn’t believe the hate that flowed from him. He’d heard about people diagnosed with terminal illnesses, but this idiot took the cake. “You heard wrong. I retired at 55 and for the past ten years things have been fine. How’s Shirley? You two got married right?” Smit shot Williams a look that would scare a dead man. “Well, what happened to her?”
    “Go to hell, she deceased and don’t mention her again!” Smit spat the words at him and coughed. “They ain’t that fine you in here with me.” Again pain shot through him and tears ran down his cheeks. His skinny fingers searched around for the bed controls and he rose up. “I always thought you were stupid.”
    “Nurse Williams, what are doing out of bed?” A scratchy male voice asked. The short and wide guy with the big eyes shook hands with Aaron. “I see you’re in the state of the art room. I came to say hurry back we need you.”
    “Hey Marcus, how are you? You could wish me a speedy recovery.”
    “We love you, but minor surgery doesn’t take several days, Aaron.” His coworker laughed. “I’m not mad at you, but hurry back.” He waved his hand in the air as he walked out the door.
    “Nurse Williams? You ain’t no nurse, you idiot. You have a sex change too? You ain’t smart enough.”
    “Well, I hate to shock you and I’m trying to remain calm and not choke your stupid ass, but when they denied me the mechanic job I was still studying pre-med. I never gave up; I got my degree in nursing after I retired since I was way too old to become a doctor. But, I still miss using my hands. I got pretty good at fixing cars before they turn them into four wheel computers. I got a chance to buy and rebuild a ’69 Barracuda like the one you had, remember? I preferred the Chargers myself.” Williams reached to hold his hand.
    “Don’t touch me!” Smit finally got that shout past his parched lips.
    “I’m still going to pray for you. Anyway, I knew a few people when I graduated and got hired here. I’m old to be a RN, but it’s fulfilling.”
    “But, you still in here with me no matter how much you brag, asshole.”
    “I’m not terminal...Bart Smit. I see your eyes got big. It’s true; all I had was a routine appendectomy. I’m in here because of the room’s TV system. Sometimes me and others eat lunch in one if their vacant. I’ll ask my supervisor to transfer me to this part of the hospital so I can help monitor your medication. Heaven forbid you hit the button and the dose of morphine doesn’t do the trick. How will you like that, Bart? Why so quiet? You hate me so much, but I forgive what you did to me, but that’s today.” Williams winked. “We’re going to be the best of friends. Oh, while you were napping they discharged me. I’ll be leaving soon...Bart.” Williams smiled. “Is that a tear trickling down your chin? See you soon.”

Trunk, drawing by the HA!Man of south Africa

Trunk, drawing by the HA!Man of south Africa


lunchtime poll topic

Anarchist Bomb Stereotype


    We stereotype, to simplify, and we simplify, to dismiss. We dismiss, to be done with something, and we want done with it, as it’s no concern of ours. Not really, it’s not. If pundits or comics so badly needing to live again as pundits, wish us to see fully, completely, and of people as well, let them. It’s of no concern; we have laundry in the dryer, and have to move on. Thus, everything, everyone, is in a box. As cartoon, preferably, as then it—They—are imbecile, and cannot touch us, in any way. Except, maybe, if the merry go-round broke down. Or was blown to bacon bits.
    Stereotypes exist, of every human image, at least. Santa Claus, a sinister figure of old Europe, lives now, timeless warm and jolly, as Thomas Nast would have us know him. The boxer, thanks in main to Cus D’Amato, is a thunderous presence, with a “0” under “Lost”. A local policeman, is usually Irish, walks a beat, kneels to truly hear little Jimmy. Those east of Moscow and west of Wakiki, do not say their articles (karate teachers, especially). The anarchist we now upgrade to “terrorist”, shouts complex drabble and has arcane thinking, He carries a bomb shaped like a beach ball, and its fuse can be heard, sizzling.
    You know the image. In my childhood, that America where only the older kids went around forever apoplectic, it was a device which found its way into light, frothy, educational animation, on Sesame Street. Then, in snickering British irreverence, through the work of Terry Gilliam. The beach ball bomb, silly, goofy, stupid, was godchild of the Looney Tunes cannon. It blew to make its point, and we all went on living.
    The anarchist holding the ball-bomb, or lighting fuse, was, mostly, a fun maniac. He was all about the 4th of July enjoyment of his own spectacle. Crazy Harry with plunger, on The Muppet Show, shrieking his nonthreatening word association. Destruction as random riposte, minor counterpoint, or revised “gimme” of the Frito Bandito, with legal risk nullified. The term, “anarchist”, in the context, was culled from days of George III, and every halfassed attempt on his life or family or kingdom’s peace. An episode of Blackadder the Third, featured such an anarchist, replete with beach ball bomb. Both, overdone and overdoing. Stereotypes each, of the driven and politically invested. The kind who are through talking. Kind of like we are, in this country. Where Everyone is apoplectic, now. Where few want to talk, anymore. Where none wish to hear anOther talk. Where people fly, away, heat tiles lost from the spaceship, every day.
    You have to wonder, about an avalanche, beginning. About the whole of “us”, finally melting together, in death. And near everyone alseep at the wheel, defaulting to “well, that’s just them!”, i.e. sad as it is, and terrible, human disaster is but one or a few and their nightmarish lives, therefore explosions do not beget more. Or more and more. However bloody, the statement is made, and Yosemite Sam will be back, next scene. The acts of humans, creative, destructive, can never be multiplicative. Man, is not a dandelion.
    In my expository writings, I often hold out as a given, America’s “death by populace”. A favorite quip, tweaked various ways, is, “the shooting’s about to start”—but, Is It? I mean, for real? When set to paper, it’s in rubber plant-lifting high hopes, the sociopath’s version of “C’mon, Seven!” Those learned among you, now grimace, wanting to grille me, Pharisees, e.g. “How well do you think you’d get on, if things broke down to light and heat being lost, an empty cupboard or no police force at large? This would affect YOU.”
    Uh! I knoooow...but, b’blahblah, ya hafta break a few eggs. Had it been more than straw man, Y2K would have been the finish of me, but 17 years later, one’s gained perspective. Trust me: it’s the one’s with all the apps, who aren’t ready. Most of ‘em, think that hunk of crap they bled souls out to Steve Jobs’ estate, doubles as communicator and triples as phaser. Too many, probably think James Doohan will answer, from Heaven.
    But if Scotty with wings, is the intellectual price of a dumb’d America, how drooling are your neighbors and coworkers, or the crowd down at the watering hole, if the center’s about to blow? People poopoo, to make themselves feel good. I did, too, in days of the Soviet Union. Oftentimes, I quoted Lithgow, in The Day After, right before all buttons got pushed, “Well, they may contain it...after all, I’ve still got symphony tickets for tonight.” Flip as it was, even then, I knew We Personally, Control Nothing. Certainly not the Big Picture. But, hey! Do we control ourselves? We’d like to, and most of us try (meh), but, it’s like the Lincoln maxim, re: “Some/all and all/some, but not all/all.” Given copycat murders, even copycat terrorist acts, what happens when there’s a bad one (pick your upsetting national tragedy), and I mean something closer to Man With Gun at McDougald’s or Man With Gun at Playground, or Business Day Ends With No Living Employees. Or Dog Day Afternoon. Then, like blackest magicks, some Best Supporting Me Too, fast births another bloodbath. And someone else. And a couple, few, several more. Cue the National Guard, whereupon well prepped teenagers convert troop transports to gravy. As Dennis Miller said of the effect of hunger upon society, “it can get weird, quickly.” Likewise a platoon of Feds go down before a militia who at last say Fuck All. Or a Bureau helicopter downed like a stone, from WW2 surplus owned by Mrs. I. Canso Discriminate. These are fanciful, okay, but I told you in “The Sacred Heart of Your Buckshot ‘I’”, that, once our country’s primary response, its first string, its A-Team (pardon me) was broken and half dead on the canvas, we were candy. Like the used car guy who can’t lie fast enough when you notice the refit. “Y’know, ya got me!” An invading foreign power, once GONE FISHIN’ hangs from the outer checkpoint of the Pentagon, would be grave robbers in time of Rutherford Hayes. We would fall, stumblebums, upon swords marching in. Could we be sans medication, enough, to fall upon our own?
    I read a treatise in some gutter forum, which outlined the destruction of America from within—collapsing it into a state of anarchy and gang rule—predicated on nothing more, than doggedly going about town in the wee hours, smashing traffic lights to the point of requiring local, municipal expense and overburdening of manpower, and you begin to appreciate the Simon Bar Sinister beauty of this plan. Granted, it couldn’t be accomplished in one night, or, it damned well shouldn’t! As well, it would take more than one of you, and more than one of you and Muttley...but the proposal, is sound. I asked myself upon reading, why such a thing hadn’t happened, yet. We’ve had the necessary vandals since the first gaslights began frightening all mythic creatures into alleyways and eventually, into legend. Intelligence, in a villain-twirling-handlebar-moustache-sense, was ever thus—the WWW, didn’t cause it to spike. Why No Anarchy (the nonmakee stinky handicrafts kind)?
    Guy Fawkes, or perhaps his elf thief character, would throw to the “sheeple” cliché, or drag out the line, re: lemmings, but though cliques and groups and social strata stick together like Men in Black around ex-Presidents, the rote accusation, is not enough. It takes only a handful, to kickstart such a process (then pocket the proceeds and hike the goal). The fact of anyone realizing the populace lives as zombied, means Not All The Populace, Does. This is little to do with trances, and depending upon one’s complexion, Adam-12 and Mannix and Monk himself, must hang back or go to prison for upholding the Law (I feel like I’m writing a Benny Hill sketch, when I read that; this truly is The Snake Pit-Earth). Very little long term risk, high yield of No More Nation or ruuules maaan! If you don’t accept spacious skies, amber waves of gain, purple mountains’ majesty, a fruited plain or a shining sea, if you want to call them names and scream at them...and you want to laugh as burly Goliath before the puny blue uniforms, for they are nothing to you, in your glory...and if you’re not one to get lip-trembly about “The Children”, as your hatred of structure or belief in a Tomorrow by way of add black powder, touch off and serve, means oh-so much more...then, get smashing, and save me a blinking red! What are you waiting for?!
    Some, might need to consider that one. I’ll fast forward: the reason things like this never get off the ground, is because it takes stringent organization and dedicated teamwork, for more than 10 minutes or ten days. Your answer, is Laziness. Sloth.
    Americans, cannot sustain anger long enough, but for a lone wolf here or there, to approach “nuke the system”, as a cold blooded plan. Americans, confuse “bring it down”, with “burn it down”, and blur the resolve of the revolutionary or the underground or a terrorist from any hemisphere, with the malevolence of “I’m gonna kick your ass!” they witness at a downtown bar. Your average “I HATE thus-and-so-CEE-grew-up-with-as-normal!!”, can never maintain whitehot zeal long enough to destroy whatever it is, so he usually destroys a person. That’d be one person, two at most, not random bombings as taunt to gauge worldwide reaction. The latter, which for some time has had me yelling, “Get On With It!”, is carefully scripted but barely adult, in focus—it smacks of Patty Hearst’s SLA buddies, wishing full, rapt attention of the multitudes, 1948 Berlin before Ernst Reuter as heroic, as their gnashed theses are put in a blender with crank, as this will illuminate everyone to a personal, brain-insectoid copy/paste. In short, as Dryden put it, “There is a pleasure, sure, in being mad, which none but mad men know.” Today’s failed super youth on Main Street, their pit hair’d aunt or raging grandpa, can’t get it together, in a Free French-way. It’s either stove in the head of that one or those two you don’t like, or...or, just rant. Bitch, whine, spew, complain. Crab, oink, cry foul. Americans are lazy. Sleep farmers, but for the odd wunderkind. And one miscreant, the cops will remove. Even if that means a grand jury trial for he who drops the hammer.
    Sloth, thus, covers Anger, and Rock then watches TV. No matter marches, even with a few bullets fired. You didn’t change anything, much less overturn it—it takes a 40-foot jumper at the buzzer in the final game, to get anything upended, in this country. Which, is why I favor 4 ton cars from the Cold War. Singing “We Shall Overcome”, actually overcomes nothing but noise ordnances, not a big “badge” priority, depending on where you live. People need to vent, as not everyone can afford Hityouintheforeheadwithahammerzac (ask for it, by name!), hence, sometimes, whole blocks go up in smoke. Think of such smoke, as opening a pressure valve. And Order is maintained, as emotions come and go. There’ll be no Tricorn 2. Ever. The Powers That Be, blue uniforms, black robes, Hugo Boss suits, know what they’re doing. Bobby Fischer rarely lost, because he saw 7 moves ahead.
    I went into all that, to make the point that actual “revolution”, whether sung quickly, or slowly with key subliminal, isn’t something we’re going to see in our lifetimes, barring a comet no one’s charted. This doesn’t mean Americans won’t, at some point of engulfing discontent, begin that process—impure in caste, slapdash but contagious, akin to the whispered phrase of lore guaranteed to render one insane...because there exists an inescapable domino effect, that “step on an ant”-thing, classic Ray Bradbury payoff but in DSL, the Norman Rockwell painting (my favorite), “The Gossip”, whereby a single skewed or stand pat move, effects Others and They, more, until, here, it has potential of the mightiest scythe. I’ll take it you recall the mythic figure who carries one.
    We can’t count on Sloth, to stifle such initiative, or we’d have a somewhat larger issue with overpopulation, and public schools would have retained somewhat more of their enrollment figures. The secondary confidence we fall back on, Sartre as street profane, is the tautology of “Shit Happens”. We admit these things will occur, it’s a grim reality, but, it can’t really spread too far, no, as there are too many people, a point I made, Above. Too many, will opt out. They’ll be horrified as though they have 18th Century morals, or armchair-it, since the game’s coming on in a few minutes. Bread and circuses, yes, indeedy-do. But, this is a pleasing shackle to stay any real “organizing”, by inducing sleep. Boobs and butts and the new cheesy cherry-flavored 10% real amazingly addicive shit, aren’t The Great Wall of China against blind meltdown of the moment. Stuff like the giant zesty sugar spiced yummy you can swear just says, “EAT!!”, and hatefilled hacks unfit to clean Johnny Carson’s wiper blades, don’t exist for when other lives end or vehicles blow flames as they fly, not for buildings pancaking or subdivision infernos setting off annoying crawls under “Fun With Flags”. They’re for your special time. Or, they were...
    This theory, that things cannot snowball in a country of daily living as chaos theory, has room to walk, but may be comprised of sand. It’s too easy to stereotype “crazy” as social burnout and let media shoot the wounded. And too easy to fall back on the safe side of it taking 500 monkeys 500 years before things align just so. The whole construct of “random” as a Jupiter Effect that actually obliterates, is that, akin to waiting for the errant comet, it isn’t a playdate on the frig. It won’t necessarily happen in so-and-so many centuries, but like the sweet title of Mr. King’s shorties, a decade ago, “everything’s eventual”. Shit does happen, yes, though larger, nation busting shit, can be avoided, averted, pushed Way The-Hell Back...but, you can’t do it unaware, falling back on cliches, stereotypes or probability theory. Believing, devout, and chanting mantra of our country’s people as a whole, “it’s too big, it’s too big...”, is sheer gamble, and again, done lazily. As a victim of jai alai, Muhammad Ali, my state’s various lotteries and The NFL Today, I tell you as though I had commandments in my arms, Gambling, Fails.
    Again with throw to King, zombies overrunning the planet, can happen in a paragraph, just when you were about to put the sad story to bed and dream of the better life you wished for. The Jupiter Effect of disasters lining up, so 500 incidents bring down, eventually, 500 Chinese regiments on you and your friends enjoying half-good coffee in Circle-Slash-Christ cups, isn’t specified, in terms of the Farmer’s Almanac. Nostradamus, only said so much. Ditto, St. Malachy. Ditto, Coptic papyri fragments. What you take cues from each day, here and now, is a pattern emerging from odd fringes and random, unrelated, extreme acts. The logic, is base level. The math, you learned by 3rd grade. You need only grey out King George III as history, Blackadder walk ons as representing history, and count Jim Henson’s original Muppet focus (in the 60’s, late night and suggestive), as another part of my stronger world, plowed under. And while you’re greying out, nonfriend, remind yourself that the funny, sizzling thing, is not a beach ball, and that if you’re buying Darwinism’s entire cable package, then, Natural Selection means some—perhaps many millions, in probability—die, so the strong (not necessarily “better”) survive.
    I strode the world atop my VHS collection, when Y2K was the boogeyman. The mere idea of that crap, upset me, intensely. Now? I’ll be waiting with ordnance, hands in Roman cestus’, domicile boobytrapped like it’s the mutant familys’, in The X-Files’ “Home”. I suppose you could default in lazy confidence, to my ranking among the Top 100 Suckiest Gamblers, but you’re committing suicide, if you cop to another cartoon image, because as the line goes, “Everybody’s due.” As everything is indeed eventual, and every dog has his day or Pacino-freak-crime afternoon. A person doesn’t need to be Bobby Fischer, to see YHWH slapping Target logo-graffiti on the wall. Or know that pasta boils over, only when you turn away from the pot. No heat or down to ketchup packets, I have no stake in this but personal space. You Others, if nothing, should be shoveling green at your local Police Benevolent Fund, until your door is so caked with stars, it’s glitterdipped and Drew Barrymore walks in by mistake. Just sayin’.


philosophy monthly


Charles Hayes

    To be complicit in the killing of people that have done nothing but live under a different flag, is supposed to be a criminal act according to almost anybody anywhere. But somehow, looking back to the beginning of the American great age of perpetual war, little by little, this crime has acquired an informal ‘codicil’ that allows the killing of innocents if one of those under that different flag kills some of those people first. I might add that this excuse is almost always employed by the most powerful as a justification to kill, in order to stop killing. It is usually the first thing bandied about before the blood begins to spill. Yet long ago, before this time, the notion that destroying something in order to save it was recognized as imbecilic. Or at its semantic least, counterproductive.
    To have been involved in that kind of killing, as the one who was doing the killing, should place some special emphasis on the ramifications of killing. Perhaps a clearer perspective would be one. One that can not be crafted by those not so directly involved.
    Given that such a perspective would be quick to reveal the absurdity of killing to stop killing, it should lead one to either of two different attitudes and their concomitant conclusions. Either such killing does not respect life, it is the power and its ability to prevail that is more respected, or such killing respects life but, lacking the smarts, fails to see it as it is. At this point one must ask how many democratic leaders who make it through the cesspool of an election are stupid. One must also ask that same question about the electorate.
    ‘A Divided Nation, Hawks and Doves:’ As much as ‘killing one’s own people,’ this language of the ‘codicil’ has sentenced many a tree to death only to varnish the plain pine of one gives a damn about life or one doesn’t.
    Related disparities, it seems, will naturally follow such a dishonest ‘codicil.’ To hear about the 1% and the distribution of wealth in this country is certainly not uncommon. Any poll to get figures which would clarify these demographics, as related to this missive, are not in the works. However only 1% can not divide a whole country. How about if the distribution of wealth is such that good and caring people who must live hand to mouth don’t last very long? Survival takes precedence. Who can give a damn about populations elsewhere when their own life is constantly threatened by a lack of proper maintenance? If bullets and butter is the only way to stay alive I submit that 1% will quickly balloon much higher. In fact a greater proportion of the full bellies will get less from the killing than the hungry. That is, no doubt, one reason no such study is in the pipeline. Nor a reason for hope when it come to better fare.
    Many have been slow to grab the shiny ring of ambition and opportunity. Some have actively avoided it. Perhaps those are the lucky ones. Passing in a flash and with so many hands after it, the glittering circle reveals a trail of corrosion around it only to those with clear eyes. Especially those whose hands have been blistered on the fields of death. To them with a propensity to question the honesty of such ‘codicils,’ having been the sword of their language once, some things do not quickly wash. However, as in all occupations, a few have parlayed their bullets into a place nearer the swing of the ring. But most did not. A broad effort to pacify those holdouts with ribbons and lofty labels has recently been launched but it will not cloud certain minds for very long, if at all. For them life is bells and whistles, not the reverse.
    It is written anonymously many places, “I am a free person, I do not vote.” If given a modicum of thought, this statement, when brought to the arena of this missive, no doubt, tells of the writer’s intent. But how many really see it? It is antithetical to a way of life. Or many would say, a way of death. The great divide, a divided nation, rich it is for some, but heavily leaning on a crutch for all.

Charles Hayes bio

    Charles Hayes, a multiple Pushcart Prize Nominee, is an American who lives part time in the Philippines and part time in Seattle with his wife. A product of the Appalachian Mountains, his writing has appeared in Ky Story’s Anthology Collection, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Fable Online, Unbroken Journal, CC&D Magazine, Random Sample Review, The Zodiac Review, eFiction Magazine, Saturday Night Reader, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Scarlet Leaf Publishing House, Burning Word Journal, eFiction India, and others.

Dusty Dog Reviews
The whole project is hip, anti-academic, the poetry of reluctant grown-ups, picking noses in church. An enjoyable romp! Though also serious.

Nick DiSpoldo, Small Press Review (on Children, Churches and Daddies, April 1997)
Children, Churches and Daddies is eclectic, alive and is as contemporary as tomorrow’s news.

Kenneth DiMaggio (on cc&d, April 2011)
CC&D continues to have an edge with intelligence. It seems like a lot of poetry and small press publications are getting more conservative or just playing it too academically safe. Once in awhile I come across a self-advertized journal on the edge, but the problem is that some of the work just tries to shock you for the hell of it, and only ends up embarrassing you the reader. CC&D has a nice balance; [the] publication takes risks, but can thankfully take them without the juvenile attempt to shock.

from Mike Brennan 12/07/11
I think you are one of the leaders in the indie presses right now and congrats on your dark greatness.

cc&d          cc&d

    Nick DiSpoldo, Small Press Review (on “Children, Churches and Daddies,” April 1997)

    Kuypers is the widely-published poet of particular perspectives and not a little existential rage, but she does not impose her personal or artistic agenda on her magazine. CC+D is a provocative potpourri of news stories, poetry, humor, art and the “dirty underwear” of politics.
    One piece in this issue is “Crazy,” an interview Kuypers conducted with “Madeline,” a murderess who was found insane, and is confined to West Virginia’s Arronsville Correctional Center. Madeline, whose elevator definitely doesn’t go to the top, killed her boyfriend during sex with an ice pick and a chef’s knife, far surpassing the butchery of Elena Bobbitt. Madeline, herself covered with blood, sat beside her lover’s remains for three days, talking to herself, and that is how the police found her. For effect, Kuypers publishes Madeline’s monologue in different-sized type, and the result is something between a sense of Dali’s surrealism and Kafka-like craziness.

Debra Purdy Kong, writer, British Columbia, Canada
I like the magazine a lot. I like the spacious lay-out and the different coloured pages and the variety of writer’s styles. Too many literary magazines read as if everyone graduated from the same course. We need to collect more voices like these and send them everywhere.

    Ed Hamilton, writer

    #85 (of Children, Churches and Daddies) turned out well. I really enjoyed the humor section, especially the test score answers. And, the cup-holder story is hilarious. I’m not a big fan of poetry - since much of it is so hard to decipher - but I was impressed by the work here, which tends toward the straightforward and unpretentious.
    As for the fiction, the piece by Anderson is quite perceptive: I liked the way the self-deluding situation of the character is gradually, subtly revealed. (Kuypers’) story is good too: the way it switches narrative perspective via the letter device is a nice touch.

Children, Churches and Daddies.
It speaks for itself.
Write to Scars Publications to submit poetry, prose and artwork to Children, Churches and Daddies literary magazine, or to inquire about having your own chapbook, and maybe a few reviews like these.

    Jim Maddocks, GLASGOW, via the Internet

    I’ll be totally honest, of the material in Issue (either 83 or 86 of Children, Churches and Daddies) the only ones I really took to were Kuypers’. TRYING was so simple but most truths are, aren’t they?

    Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, CA
    Indeed, there’s a healthy balance here between wit and dark vision, romance and reality, just as there’s a good balance between words and graphics. The work shows brave self-exploration, and serves as a reminder of mortality and the fragile beauty of friendship.

    C Ra McGuirt, Editor, The Penny Dreadful Review (on Children, Churches and Daddies)

    cc&d is obviously a labor of love ... I just have to smile when I go through it. (Janet Kuypers) uses her space and her poets to best effect, and the illos attest to her skill as a graphic artist.
    I really like (“Writing Your Name”). It’s one of those kind of things where your eye isn’t exactly pulled along, but falls effortlessly down the poem.
I liked “knowledge” for its mix of disgust and acceptance. Janet Kuypers does good little movies, by which I mean her stuff provokes moving imagery for me. Color, no dialogue; the voice of the poem is the narrator over the film.

    Children, Churches and Daddies no longer distributes free contributor’s copies of issues. In order to receive issues of Children, Churches and Daddies, contact Janet Kuypers at the cc&d e-mail addres. Free electronic subscriptions are available via email. All you need to do is email and ask to be added to the free cc+d electronic subscription mailing list. And you can still see issues every month at the Children, Churches and Daddies website, located at

    Mark Blickley, writer

    The precursor to the magazine title (Children, Churches and Daddies) is very moving. “Scars” is also an excellent prose poem. I never really thought about scars as being a form of nostalgia. But in the poem it also represents courage and warmth. I look forward to finishing her book.

    Gary, Editor, The Road Out of Town (on the Children, Churches and Daddies Web Site)

    I just checked out the site. It looks great.

    Dusty Dog Reviews: These poems document a very complicated internal response to the feminine side of social existence. And as the book proceeds the poems become increasingly psychologically complex and, ultimately, fascinating and genuinely rewarding.

    John Sweet, writer (on chapbook designs)

    Visuals were awesome. They’ve got a nice enigmatic quality to them. Front cover reminds me of the Roman sculptures of angels from way back when. Loved the staggered tire lettering, too. Way cool.

    (on “Hope Chest in the Attic”)
    Some excellent writing in “Hope Chest in the Attic.” I thought “Children, Churches and Daddies” and “The Room of the Rape” were particularly powerful pieces.

    Dusty Dog Reviews: She opens with a poem of her own devising, which has that wintry atmosphere demonstrated in the movie version of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago. The atmosphere of wintry white and cold, gloriously murderous cold, stark raging cold, numbing and brutalizing cold, appears almost as a character who announces to his audience, “Wisdom occurs only after a laboriously magnificent disappointment.” Alas, that our Dusty Dog for mat cannot do justice to Ms. Kuypers’ very personal layering of her poem across the page.

    Cheryl Townsend, Editor, Impetus (on Children, Churches and Daddies)

    The new cc&d looks absolutely amazing. It’s a wonderful lay-out, looks really professional - all you need is the glossy pages. Truly impressive AND the calendar, too. Can’t wait to actually start reading all the stuff inside.. Wanted to just say, it looks good so far!!!

    You Have to be Published to be Appreciated.

    Do you want to be heard? Contact Children, Churches and Daddies about book or chapbook publishing. These reviews can be yours. Scars Publications, attention J. Kuypers. We’re only an e-mail away. Write to us.

    Brian B. Braddock, Writer (on 1996 Children, Churches and Daddies)

    I passed on a copy to my brother who is the director of the St. Camillus AIDS programs. We found (Children, Churches and Daddies’) obvious dedication along this line admirable.

    Mark Blickley, writer
    The precursor to the magazine title (Children, Churches and Daddies) is very moving. “Scars” is also an excellent prose poem. I never really thought about scars as being a form of nostalgia. But in the poem it also represents courage and warmth. I look forward to finishing her book.

    Brian B. Braddock, WrBrian B. Braddock, Writer (on 1996 Children, Churches and Daddies)

    Brian B. Braddock, WrI passed on a copy to my brother who is the director of the St. Camillus AIDS programs. We found (Children, Churches and Daddies’) obvious dedication along this line admirable.

    Dorrance Publishing Co., Pittsburgh, PA
    “Hope Chest in the Attic” captures the complexity of human nature and reveals startling yet profound discernments about the travesties that surge through the course of life. This collection of poetry, prose and artwork reflects sensitivity toward feminist issues concerning abuse, sexism and equality. It also probes the emotional torrent that people may experience as a reaction to the delicate topics of death, love and family.
    “Chain Smoking” depicts the emotional distress that afflicted a friend while he struggled to clarify his sexual ambiguity. Not only does this thought-provoking profile address the plight that homosexuals face in a homophobic society, it also characterizes the essence of friendship. “The room of the rape” is a passionate representation of the suffering rape victims experience. Vivid descriptions, rich symbolism, and candid expressions paint a shocking portrait of victory over the gripping fear that consumes the soul after a painful exploitation.

    want a review like this? contact scars about getting your own book published.

    Paul Weinman, Writer (on 1996 Children, Churches and Daddies)

    Wonderful new direction (Children, Churches and Daddies has) taken - great articles, etc. (especially those on AIDS). Great stories - all sorts of hot info!

the UN-religions, NON-family oriented literary and art magazine

    The magazine Children Churches and Daddies is Copyright © 1993 through 2017 Scars Publications and Design. The rights of the individual pieces remain with the authors. No material may be reprinted without express permission from the author.


    Okay, nilla wafer. Listen up and listen good. How to save your life. Submit, or I’ll have to kill you.
    Okay, it’s this simple: send me published or unpublished poetry, prose or art work (do not send originals), along with a bio, to us - then sit around and wait... Pretty soon you’ll hear from the happy people at cc&d that says (a) Your work sucks, or (b) This is fancy crap, and we’re gonna print it. It’s that simple!

    Okay, butt-munch. Tough guy. This is how to win the editors over.
    Hope Chest in the Attic is a 200 page, perfect-bound book of 13 years of poetry, prose and art by Janet Kuypers. It’s a really classy thing, if you know what I mean. We also have a few extra sopies of the 1999 book “Rinse and Repeat”, the 2001 book “Survive and Thrive”, the 2001 books “Torture and Triumph” and “(no so) Warm and Fuzzy”,which all have issues of cc&d crammed into one book. And you can have either one of these things at just five bucks a pop if you just contact us and tell us you saw this ad space. It’s an offer you can’t refuse...

    Carlton Press, New York, NY: HOPE CHEST IN THE ATTIC is a collection of well-fashioned, often elegant poems and short prose that deals in many instances, with the most mysterious and awesome of human experiences: love... Janet Kuypers draws from a vast range of experiences and transforms thoughts into lyrical and succinct verse... Recommended as poetic fare that will titillate the palate in its imagery and imaginative creations.

    Mark Blickley, writer: The precursor to the magazine title (Children, Churches and Daddies) is very moving. “Scars” is also an excellent prose poem. I never really thought about scars as being a form of nostalgia. But in the poem it also represents courage and warmth. I look forward to finishing the book.

    You Have to be Published to be Appreciated.
    Do you want to be heard? Contact Children, Churches and Daddies about book and chapbook publishing. These reviews can be yours. Scars Publications, attention J. Kuypers - you can write for yourself or you can write for an audience. It’s your call...


    Dorrance Publishing Co., Pittsburgh, PA: “Hope Chest in the Attic” captures the complexity of human nature and reveals startling yet profound discernments about the travesties that surge through the course of life. This collection of poetry, prose and artwork reflects sensitivity toward feminist issues concerning abuse, sexism and equality. It also probes the emotional torrent that people may experience as a reaction to the delicate topics of death, love and family. “Chain Smoking” depicts the emotional distress that afflicted a friend while he struggled to clarify his sexual ambiguity. Not only does this thought-provoking profile address the plight that homosexuals face in a homophobic society, it also characterizes the essence of friendship. “The room of the rape” is a passionate representation of the suffering rape victims experience. Vivid descriptions, rich symbolism, and candid expressions paint a shocking portrait of victory over the gripping fear that consumes the soul after a painful exploitation.


    Dusty Dog Reviews, CA (on knife): These poems document a very complicated internal response to the feminine side of social existence. And as the book proceeds the poems become increasingly psychologically complex and, ultimately, fascinating and genuinely rewarding.
Children, Churches and Daddies. It speaks for itself.


    Dusty Dog Reviews (on Without You): She open with a poem of her own devising, which has that wintry atmosphere demonstrated in the movie version of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago. The atmosphere of wintry white and cold, gloriously murderous cold, stark raging cold, numbing and brutalizing cold, appears almost as a character who announces to his audience, “Wisdom occurs only after a laboriously magnificent disappointment.” Alas, that our Dusty Dog for mat cannot do justice to Ms. Kuypers’ very personal layering of her poem across the page.
    Children, Churches and Daddies. It speaks for itself.

    Debra Purdy Kong, writer, British Columbia, Canada (on Children, Churches and Daddies): I like the magazine a lot. I like the spacious lay-out and the different coloured pages and the variety of writer’s styles. Too many literary magazines read as if everyone graduated from the same course. We need to collect more voices like these and send them everywhere.

    Fithian Press, Santa Barbara, CA: Indeed, there’s a healthy balance here between wit and dark vision, romance and reality, just as there’s a good balance between words and graphics. The work shows brave self-exploration, and serves as a reminder of mortality and the fragile beauty of friendship.

Children, Churches and Daddies
the UN-religious, NON-family oriented literary and art magazine
Scars Publications and Design

Publishers/Designers Of
Children, Churches and Daddies magazine
cc+d Ezines
The Burning mini poem books
God Eyes mini poem books
The Poetry Wall Calendar
The Poetry Box
The Poetry Sampler
Mom’s Favorite Vase Newsletters
Reverberate Music Magazine
Down In The Dirt magazine
Freedom and Strength Press forum
plus assorted chapbooks and books
music, poetry compact discs
live performances of songs and readings

Sponsors Of
past editions:
Poetry Chapbook Contest, Poetry Book Contest
Prose Chapbook Contest, Prose Book Contest
Poetry Calendar Contest
current editions:
Editor’s Choice Award (writing and web sites)
Collection Volumes

Children, Churches and Daddies (founded 1993) has been written and researched by political groups and writers from the United States, Canada, England, India, Italy, Malta, Norway and Turkey. Regular features provide coverage of environmental, political and social issues (via news and philosophy) as well as fiction and poetry, and act as an information and education source. Children, Churches and Daddies is the leading magazine for this combination of information, education and entertainment.
Children, Churches and Daddies (ISSN 1068-5154) is published quarterly by Scars Publications and Design, attn: Janet Kuypers. Contact us via snail-mail or e-mail ( for subscription rates or prices for annual collection books.
To contributors: No racist, sexist or blatantly homophobic material. No originals; if mailed, include SASE & bio. Work sent on disks or through e-mail preferred. Previously published work accepted. Authors always retain rights to their own work. All magazine rights reserved. Reproduction of Children, Churches and Daddies without publisher permission is forbidden. Children, Churches and Daddies Copyright © 1993 through 2017 Scars Publications and Design, Children, Churches and Daddies, Janet Kuypers. All rights remain with the authors of the individual pieces. No material may be reprinted without express permission.

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