Down in the Dirt

welcome to volume 104 (March 2012) of

Down in the Dirt

down in the dirt
internet issn 1554-9666
(for the print issn 1554-9623)

Janet K., Editor - click on down in the dirt

In This Issue...

Robert D. Lyons
Mel Waldman
Fritz Hamilton
Marcin Majkowski
Nancy Lee Bethea
P. Keith Boran
Brian Looney
Christopher Hivner
Lisa Cappiello
Sheryl L. Nelms
Liam Spencer
Eric Burbridge
John Ragusa
Ben Macnair
Kenneth DiMaggio
Justin Creed
Nathan Hahs
Ryan Priest
M. E. Mitchell
Matt Barden
Kevin Cole
Jillian Simons
Mike Brennan
Alain Marciano
Tom Ball
Eleanor Leonne Bennett art
Clinton Van Inman
Kristopher Miller
Janet Kuypers

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The Lonely Grave of Ingram

Robert D. Lyons

    Bleeding to death from a wound all too invisible, a permanent scar with clairvoyant fortitude merged from the utter uncertainty that has engulfed her being like a relentless black hole. She limps softly upon sacred ground, heaving her frail limbs, burdened by an aged spirit, upon rich and hearty soil furnished by those once lingering above. She struggles to hold her head high amongst the treacherous spring breeze. She wobbles with diminishing, almost vacant, dexterity toward her only fortress of hallowed ground. Her face tenses, the wrinkles tighten like the strings of a dusty worn guitar; she falls slowly to her knees as if trying to hold on to her soul like a leaf to a sturdy branch. She is the humble caretaker of this forlorn stone. She glides her withered finger along its surface; the small tablet feels as soft as his skin used to be in the security of the nights loving arms. This gracefully etched stone, the symbol of which, is as sturdy as the marble it uses as its voyage. The plot she guards so loyally is the final vessel of her hopes, dreams, and loves. Underneath this heavy soil that sticks black as death is her only worthy lover, and with his decaying bones lies her soul. Yet another bright and lonesome Easter morning where resurrection is proclaimed unto the skies by devious human minds. Yet another year of greeting morrow in a cold and empty bed, feeling his presence like an amputee to a phantom limb. Yet his kingdom is one of the worms, a sepulcher forged for eternal slumber, silence in hopes of hearing god’s whisper. She renews the roses that lie battered from the barrage of time as she shakes subtly, a weary traveler who has foreseen a destined but grim fate. Her promise of renewed love in a trivial realm: a compassionate gesture in a malevolent plain. Sitting patently on his perch lays the watchmen, forever guarding the presence of his master; sitting peacefully to right of the elegant stone, forever steadfast to his principle. This cast iron soul, bound no tighter than any man breathing, hovers in his dreams with a straw hat shading his eyes. The cast child sits year after year with only a twig and line in hands, dangling over the steep of the rock; dying to try his luck. Forever his line will dangle without turbulence, but nor will he glance over the edge to abyss only to realize that there are no fish. For ever perched he shall stay, till affluence finds his way. A guardian with all his might protects against a lonely night. Fermented tears sprout from her aged and confused eyes, trickling down to pepsinate the barren soil bellow; yet all the love in the world could not bring life to grow. She is alone and terrified in a dangerous world shed from quintessence of dust. Another anxious and torn soul swiftly sucked up in a spring gust.

Locked Inside

A 32-Word Story
by Mel Waldman

He opened his heavy eyes.
Found himself locked inside
a cage.

Desperately, he swallowed
his ominous surroundings.

A gun lay on the cold floor.
Slowly, his small trembling
hands reached for it.


Mel Waldman, Ph. D.

    Dr. Mel Waldman is a licensed New York State psychologist and a candidate in Psychoanalysis at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies (CMPS). He is also a poet, writer, artist, and singer/songwriter. After 9/11, he wrote 4 songs, including “Our Song,” which addresses the tragedy. His stories have appeared in numerous literary reviews and commercial magazines including HAPPY, SWEET ANNIE PRESS, CHILDREN, CHURCHES AND DADDIES and DOWN IN THE DIRT (SCARS PUBLICATIONS), NEW THOUGHT JOURNAL, THE BROOKLYN LITERARY REVIEW, HARDBOILED, HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, DETECTIVE STORY MAGAZINE, ESPIONAGE, and THE SAINT. He is a past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature. Periodically, he has given poetry and prose readings and has appeared on national T.V. and cable T.V. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, American Mensa, Ltd., and the American Psychological Association. He is currently working on a mystery novel inspired by Freud’s case studies. Who Killed the Heartbreak Kid?, a mystery novel, was published by iUniverse in February 2006. It can be purchased at,, at /, and other online bookstores or through local bookstores. Recently, some of his poems have appeared online in THE JERUSALEM POST. Dark Soul of the Millennium, a collection of plays and poetry, was published by World Audience, Inc. in January 2007. It can be purchased at,, at /, and other online bookstores or through local bookstores. A 7-volume short story collection was published by World Audience, Inc. in June 2007 and can also be purchased online at the above-mentioned sites.


Fritz Hamilton

I do not/ I
cannot sleep!

The world is too awake.
It keeps trying to immolate itself.
60 percent of the U.S. budget goes

to the military to
kill our fellow man, which
we do all over the globe while

at home more
people go hungry &
are homeless/ sick &

mad/ man
pitted against his brother/ all
mad MAD MAD, &

we solve the problem by
building more prisons &
sending our people off to be

killed in war/ we
remove their hearts &
replace them with machines to

operate as automatons/ giving
our love & service to machines
DYING for machines, &

nobody knows why, &
jump off the bridge!

shoot out your brains!

hang from a noose!

so much for that!


bye-bye ...


The transvestite at the bar likes me.

Fritz Hamilton

The transvestite at the bar likes me.
It must be the feathers in my head.
They grow out of my brain.

My brain flies out of my skull, &
the feathers soften the pain.
The transvestite at the bar likes me.

She beckons to me, & I give her the finger.
Our fingers are entwined in lust.
I should run, but go to her I must.

Behind her smile are the lips of John Boehner.
Remove the lipstick & find the Tea Party.
Michelle Bachman is the transvestite at the bar.

No wonder there are feathers in my head
to soften the pain of being brain dead.
They grow out of my brain.

I attend the nation’s funeral/ Obama
delivers the eulogy leading from the rear.
His words of policy are made from what he hears.

The Right Wing gets away with murder.
Obama is lying in the grave.
It’s the corporate insanity, stupid, Bill Clinton raves.

But the dirty little cowards, they
lay Barrack Obama in his grave.
They open his casket, & there lies America.

They’ve laid America in her grave ...


to Liberate

Marcin Majkowski

I keep killing you
I do it
day by day
I often think
about this
sipping coffee
in the morning

I select
a method
analyzing each one
I clench
my fists
on your neck
your breathing

I spread
on a bench
incapacitated body
I want it
to as long as possible
in convulsive

I’m delighted
this process
of taking life
of somebody
I rip
all the clothes
the dead

I look
at the mirror
the ceiling
I tried
to kill You
it’s my own reflection
my eyes are seeing

The Quieters

Nancy Lee Bethea

    “Is this the meeting for the -” the large man asked as he approached a wooden table in the café.
    “Shhhh!” a rotund woman in her fifties said. “We are in retaliation mode now. No talking, please.”
    The man sat in an empty chair and noticed five women seated at two rectangular tables. Some stared into space. Others wrote in journals. He heard what sounded like bursts of compressed air coming from the café.
    “I came for help,” he whispered to the large woman. “It’s my wife. She only lets me talk to her for 30 minutes in the evenings. Last night, she set a timer!” he said.
    “Shhhh!” three of the women said in unison.
    “But your ad in the paper – it says come to the meetings if you need help with sound issues,” he said. “Well, I need help,” his voice rose.
    “Mr.?” the round lady said.
    “Mr. Johnson, Mr. Butch Johnson. Here’s my card.” He pulled his wallet from his back pocket retrieved a white business card.
    “We have already started our session today, Mr. Johnson. You are welcome to stay and observe, but please no more outbursts,” she whispered as the steamed milk machine burped air again. “We follow procedure here in The Quieters,” she said.
    “She won’t let me turn on the TV; she unplugs the kids’ Ipods. At the library, she glares at anyone gulping from a Thermos or water bottle,” he said. “She tells me she knows what I’m going to say before I say it,” he said.
    Two women in the group giggled.
    “Mr. Johnson, we are glad you have joined us today, but you’re going to have to be quiet. We don’t tolerate noise of any kind during retaliation mode,” she said.
    “Retaliation? That sounds good. I want retaliation, too.”
    “Mr. Johnson, our meetings offer a respite from the stresses of a noisy world,” the round woman said.
    The group members looked at Butch.
    “But, it’s so noisy in here,” Butch said looking around the café. “I like quiet just like the next guy. Really, I do. But, c’mon, I need to talk sometimes. We all need someone to listen to our hopes and dreams,” he said.
    The other group members glared at Butch. One woman giggled again.
    “You know, you could try journaling. Get your thoughts out without talking,” a faded woman wearing denim said.
    “If you’ll be patient, Mr. Johnson, you will see how our meetings progress. Now, we need to get through retaliation,” the round woman said checking her watch. “We can add your concern to open discussion time near the end of the meeting. You’ll have five minutes.”
    “What happens after retaliation?” Butch asked scratching his right ear.
    “You are welcome to stay and observe as long as you are quiet. It is your choice. We believe in equality, of course. In return, we ask you to respect our structure,” the large woman said.
    “My favorite part is next,” the woman in denim whispered pushing wire-rimmed glasses up on her nose. “It’s assignment time.”
    “Assignments? Like in school?” Butch asked.
    “Please, Mr. Johnson. I must ask you to be quiet. Please show our routine the respect it deserves. As I said, we are retaliation mode now,” the round woman said.
    “Against what?”
    “Against noise, unnecessary sound, mindless chatter, oral pollution. In other words, the static of life,” she said.
    One of the women giggled again.
    “Why are you giggling?” Butch asked.
    “Mr. Johnson, your wife alerted us you’d be at our meeting today. You see, she is a member of our group, but she chose not to come today,” the round woman said.
    Butch stood and inhaled deeply. He then fisted his hands, screamed and exited the café.

Psycho Sally

P. Keith Boran

    It pulsated and rumbled, making Hal’s teeth clench at first. But after a short tenure, he had grown to love the consistent vibration of an engine gorging on diesel. Hal liked to think of it as the truck’s heartbeat, its way of letting him know it’s there. “Psycho Sally,” he’d call it, gently stroking its dash. And in the early morning hours, Hal would sweep each parking lot at a local shopping mall, cleaning the debris left by those too busy to notice.
    And he rode with this vibration, feeling rattled, feeling alone, feeling desperate. His depression deepening the night Rita left him, the night he failed to perform in the parking lot of Burrito El Grande, the night Rita called the whole thing off, taking the beer, leaving him alone, in his truck, to cry, alone.
    And one night, during his break, Hal stopped at an all-night diner for fish and chips. He noticed her at the vending machine, bent over, purchasing tar and nicotine. She strolled to a booth, where Rita sat on some man’s lap. She whispered in his ear. They laughed. And Hal ate his supper with his head down, trying not to care, and failed.
    She saw him when they left. And they smoked cigarettes in the parking lot, flirting in manner most trashy. She placed her hand below his buckle, and gestured towards her car. And he followed. “Figures,” Hal whispered as he climbed into his cab, “no telling what’s growing between them legs of hers.”
    And as he swept another lot, Hal slowly uncorked the bottle of rage he’d been attempting to stifle since that night at Burrito El Grande. It poured slowly at first, but his anger soon bubbled over, forcing him to stop the truck. “What am I supposed to do,” he demanded as the tears ran down his face and chin, dousing the seat with his sticky brew as they dripped and fell, “I’m a man, dammit, even if I can’t show it.” And with that, the truck’s emergency lights switched on, blinking away. Hal tried to turn them off, but they kept flashing despite his efforts.
    And at that moment, Hal saw Rita’s car across the parking lot, its windows fogged with the heat of sin. Rita’s foot was pressed against the back window, pulsating up and down. The truck started. Hal’s face contorted into fear, for he was no longer controlling his girl, his Psycho Sally. “Rita knew I’d see this,” he whispered, “she wanted me to.” The engine roared just before it attacked. Hal saw the pedals move, the gears shift, the wheel turn. And he felt the metal and fiberglass crush beneath him, like fangs penetrating the flesh, stripping meat from the bone.
    Hal saw Rita’s foot dangling from the heap of crushed metal, lifeless and still. He rubbed Sally’s fender as he waited, trying to find some suitable explanation for the incident, hoping it ruled an accident without much speculation or fuss. But his mind wandered to Sally, for he was grateful to her. Because right now, it was most clear he was a man.

Exhibit 1

Brian Looney

    The light fixture beams high above, illuminating the room. The animal welcomes me in with a series of gestures, waving with its hands.

    I can hear water gushing through the pipes, a high-pitched exhalation. It issues from behind the walls, sighing with effort. Outside the wind drifts through the trees. The shelter provides comfort.

    I snoop through its food storage. The bone-white shelves have been picked; the marrow consumed. This animal has been scavenging instead of hunting. Icy breath trails all around me.

    The chair protests as the animal sits, creaking dryly beneath the weight. It stares at the television and chomps on its lips, mandibles bulging. I hand it the remote and make a note on my clipboard. This device provides pleasure.

Brian Looney Bio

    Brian Looney was born 12/2/85 and is from Albuquerque, NM. He likes it when Lady Poetry kicks him in the head. The harder the better. Check out his website at

Louder and Noisier

Christopher Hivner

The party has gotten crowded,
too many people
in the room
with drinks in their hands
and nothing in their eyes,
talking out of turn,
tongues hiding behind their teeth
like vipers.

The telephone rings
but I can’t find it,
the phone rings
and someone says hello,
a voice that I recognize
when hours turn to days
without sleep.

The voice lulls me
like white-cap waves,
but doesn’t convince me
because I have blood
in my veins,
salt in my eyes,
and I am an idiot
on my throne.

The party is too crowded,
I can’t keep the smoke
off of my skin
or my eyes off of
the women.
Where did I
disappear to?


Lisa Cappiello

Despite our age and gender, we were involuntarily drafted
by those we trusted most
The battle began long before we knew what they were fighting for

Overnight, we were standing on unfamiliar soil
amid rockets, missiles, and bombs
and the silent threat of the threat of the enemy infiltrating
at any given moment

I had five more years of experience
so I instinctually loaded my weapons faster and knew which rocks provided shelter
and many nights I stood on guard so you could recharge
But when given the opportunity, I immediately fled in search of peace
knowing deep down that I always wanted a life different than this

I will forever carry the guilt of leaving you behind
You reenlisted for another term
for you only knew how to live among landmines and grenades
and you were drafted into infantry, directly on the front line of all the action
where you remained for far too long
Although your uniform is more decorated than mine
our scars are the same
and you’re the only one who can truly comprehend the magnitude of my post traumatic stress
No amount of rain will be strong enough to erase our muddy footprints
but our bond, as strong as the giant purple heart we share, will never be broken

Fire Ant Hill

Sheryl L. Nelms

ants building
a new mound

look like
a flick

of relay runners

boiling up
out of the ground

each one
mouthing off

a chunk of sand
to the next

then doing laps
circling back

into the swarming hole

Hell of a waste

Liam Spencer

There’s a man leaning against the concrete
Sitting with a cup and a sign for help
No shower, shave, clean clothes, or meal
For days on end. One of countless.
A couple of women walk by
One very pregnant. Concrete faces.
A preacher asks me if I know Christ.
“Yeah, but others need him more.”
“YOU KNOW him?!”
“Yeah, move on to the next.”

The preacher leans down and prays with the beggar
“Oh Jesus this oh Jesus that...”
Isn’t he supposed to be Jesus?

Teenage boys walk past and taunt the preacher
And homeless guy. Others walk past
Pretending not too see or hear.

The punishing sun beats down
Upon all the passers by.
There are young couples trying to impress each other,
By saying the right things
There are old couples passing by,
Trying to reconnect by saying the right things
There are children passing by
Trying to have the right experiences
There are loners passing by
Trying to seem connected
There are beggars sitting around
Trying to seem worthy

I count what money I have
To buy a sandwhich and a drink
And marvel at the lies that walk and sit
If not for the sunshine and fresh air,
It’s a hell of a waste

Good Writer

Eric Burbridge

    “If you’re such a good writer, why haven’t you been published? You’ve been doing it forever.
    “Because I love it,” Ida snapped.
    “Good writers get published, bad ones don’t, which are you?”
    “Shut up, Reggie.”
    Ida Orr remembered that argument, but since the divorce the retired special education teacher had forgiven all his insults. Now she smiled looking out at the garden she’d been neglecting and scanned the acceptance notice into the computer. She’d forgotten that story, it had been six months since she sent it out. Their ad said, “ responds to manuscripts in two months.” She filed several copies in a secure place, the others she’d mail to family across the country. The editor also sent a subscription offer in 3,6,9 and twelve month increments. She chose six months, that would include her story in the December issue and she’d order extra copies for the kids. They’d be happy, God knew they got tired of critiquing and proof reading her work.
    The three-way call brought tears to Ida’s eyes. “Stand up, so we can see you.”
    She stood and backed from the webcam hoping they would see her entire 5'2" frame and spun. “See how much weight I lost.”
    “Congratulations mom from everybody. A story in print, weight lose, you’re on a roll mom.”
    “Thank you,” Ida turned from the screen wiped her eyes, smearing tears on her face. “It’s a small thing, but it’s a start. And, thank you, for your help. Did you tell your dad?”
    “Yeah.” They said in unison, laughing. “He said he’d call. Keep writing mom. Love you.”
    Ida received the magazine on the 15th of each month. Most of the stories were entertaining, but, of course, they didn’t compare to hers. The December issue would come in time for Christmas to show the grand kids what granny did, even at the old age of fifty-five.
    On the 21st she started getting concerned. During the holiday’s the family asked to see the magazine. Embarrassed, she told them she didn’t have it yet, but they encouraged her not to worry, it was late due to the holidays. Her ex called and when she told him she didn’t have it. He laughed, “I’m not surprised at all, wanna be writer.”
    She rebounded with, “You laughed when I took early retirement to pursue my passion, but you stayed and got laid-off.”
    By mid January, Ida was pissed. The rest were on time. Where’s mine?”
    She went to their website; that made her even madder. She needed to notify someone about her dilemma, not a smiling tanned face, gleaming teeth and sculptured features. The Smith Group and friends network wasn’t the answer. Staking out the P.O. Box didn’t make sense.
    Relax Ida, write a letter, send it to the P.O. Box, the same way you submitted your manuscript.
    Four weeks later she got a reply. It was not what she expected. “Thanks for subscribing, but your contribution only covered five issues, not six and there’s no record of acceptance of your work. We know what we’re doing. Check your records. Your continued support will be appreciated.”
    “Liar!” Ida balled up the letter and through it across the room. “They probably sold my story. How many others went through this crap?” She should’ve checked with Better Business, but it wasn’t too late to file a complaint with Consumer Protection. People like this give small circulations a bad name. It’s good she submitted her story elsewhere and continued to write more. She had six stories circulating, two were rejected with hand written compliments, the others were pending.
    When her ex moved, he forgot a check book from one of his closed accounts, that gave her an idea. She would subscribe to the magazine for another six months. They’d think she’s desperate to see her story. The check would bounce costing the editor and her ex-husband thirty bucks apiece.
    Reggie Orr didn’t believe Ida mistook his checks for hers, especially when she told him she would not pay the fee and not to call again. They deserved it.
    Ida focused on several stories over the next few months forgetting about the Smith Group. One day out of curiosity she looked for the website, it couldn’t be found. Good, that saves other writers future disappointment. She checked the regular mail and she received an acceptance letter from a university literary magazine and a jury summons. This time she’d wait until it’s in print before telling anyone. She’d been in a virtual cocoon for most of the winter and spring, now it’s time to emerge from that social hiatus. What better way then answering this summons for a change of pace.
    Ida sat by a picture window an enjoyed the panoramic view of the city while the sun set. Even with flat screen TV’s, vending machines and cushioned seats, most people expressed the same feelings, don’t call my number and I don’t have to return tomorrow. But her number was called ten minutes before quitting time. The twenty potential jurors sat in the court and the judge explained the case. When the defendant came in she recognized him. The editor of the Smith Group. He no longer had that grin on his face, replaced with bruises on his cheeks, and she spotted spaces in his front teeth when he spoke to his lawyer. The charges: fraud, identity theft and forgery. The defendant didn’t recognize her name and she answered the attorney’s questions to their satisfaction. She sat in the jury box with an inward smile at the distraught editor. This is going to be fun.

The Three Wishes

John Ragusa

    At a flea market, Wendall Keefer bought an Arabian lamp. It seemed like a nice antique. He liked its appearance, and it was inexpensive. Wendall wanted something to decorate his den with; it would make it more colorful.
    He took it home with him. He was very careful not to drop and break it.
    On a whim, he rubbed the lamp with his sleeve. To his astonishment, a genie appeared in a puff of smoke. He was bearded and barefoot, and he wore a turban. Wendall pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
    “Where did you come from?” he asked the genie.
    “I came from the bottle you rubbed, naturally.”
    “What’s your name?”
    “I am Abdul. I grant you three wishes.”
    “This is unbelievable!” Wendall said. “Is this an illusion?”
    “No. You are seeing a real genie.”
    “And I can have any three things in the world that I want?”
    “That’s right. You will receive anything you choose.”

    “There’s so many things.”
    “Think hard about the things you want.”
    “I sure could use a million dollars.”
    “Money does not bring happiness.”
    “A beautiful woman would be great.”
    “Beauty is only skin-deep.”
    “All right, then. I want to be famous.”
    “Happy is the man whose annals are blank in the history books.”
    “Well, if I shouldn’t wish for money, a beautiful woman, or fame, what should I wish for?”
    “Ponder that for a few days. I’ll come back to get your answer.” Abdul disappeared.
    “I have to consider what would really be important to me,” Wendall said to himself. “I must decide what would be best for me to have.”
    During the next week, Wendall thought carefully about what he really wanted. He had always been afraid of death; it terrified him to think of spending eternity in the cold, dark ground, with worms eating him. Funerals and cemeteries depressed him. He was petrified when he thought of the Grim Reaper. He would be relieved to know that there is life after death, because, as things stood, he wasn’t sure it existed. He felt that life was far too short. How could he possibly enjoy all the things he wanted to in so little time? It moved too fast; before he knew it, he’d be dead. Then he wouldn’t be able to do anything.

    It occurred to him that he could wish for another hundred years of life. That way, he’d have enough time to do the things he wished to accomplish in life. He’d have the chance to do what he wanted. He could live past everyone else. Death would not come to him until after a long time.
    “I wish to live another hundred years,” Wendall said.
    Abdul appeared again. “Your first wish shall be granted.” And he was gone.
    Wendall laughed. “I will enjoy the next century without having to fret about an accident or illness cutting my life short. It’ll be wonderful!”
    But then he realized that as he grew older, he’d become as wrinkled as a prune. He didn’t want this to happen. So he knew what his second wish would be. He’d wish for a century of life without the look of old age. He could still court young women.
    “I wish that I will not show the signs of aging as I live another hundred years.”
    Abdul showed up in a mist. “Your second wish is fulfilled,” he said. “You now have one wish left. Be careful what you ask for.” He vanished.
    Wendall thought long and hard about what he wanted for his third wish.
    He could ask to become a great writer or a fantastic athlete. That way, he’d have a superb profession. But he would think it over a long time before making his last wish; he had to be certain he wanted what he’d get.
    For the next hundred years, Wendall lived life to the fullest. He truly enjoyed every day. But then he had one day of life left.

    “What can I do now?” he said. “After today, I won’t be able to enjoy life anymore, because I’ll be dead. It’ll all be over for me.”
    Wait a minute. He still had one wish left! And he knew exactly what he would wish for. Of course; he should have thought of it before. It was so very logical.
    Wendall knew he was making the right choice. Hell, it was his only choice.
    “I wish that I will have eternal life!” he said.
    Abdul materialized in the room. “Your third and final wish is granted. Remember, you must live with it.”
    “Don’t worry; I won’t regret my choice.”
    “So be it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He went back into the lamp in a cloud of vapor.
    Wendall could now be happy about everything. It had worked out perfectly. He stood there in his room, pleased and triumphant. But then the house began to tremble and shake. The walls crumbled before his very eyes. There was a huge rumble. The roof caved in, and Wendall was trapped under a pile of rubble. His entire body hurt; he was bleeding profusely.
    It was a terrible earthquake that was taking place. Many people died, but Wendall stayed alive. He was suddenly miserable – and with good reason. His fate was to be buried alive for the rest of eternity. What a way to go!
    Wendall then realized what Abdul had meant when he said to be careful what he wished for.


Ben Macnair

In the news bulletin,
it was revealed that the last great dictator,
had been toppled.
Later on, it was revealed that a B list
Boy band had split up.

Both stories had repercussions,
but only one would have an impact
over Saturday night Television.
This Brave New World,
where things change in the blink of an eye,
and Saturday night TV stays the same for years,
and an assassin’s sense of guilt is the same
in all currencies,
the great and good think that a karaoke competition
is good enough for the masses.

The masses are fearful for their jobs,
their livelihoods.
In smaller pockets they are fearful for their lives,
for evil to come knocking,
and go running into a night
populated by every anonymous shadow,
that once had promise.

So Westlife leave a legacy of cover versions,
Gaddaffi leaves a legacy of ruined lives, and so much worse,
and we wait to see who is next to take their place,
for the seats are never empty for long.


Kenneth DiMaggio

Chapter 1.
    Johnny was a misfit. Johnny was a misfit because his name was Johnny. He had no last name. His name was just Johnny. His father only had one name too. His name was Dad. Johnny’s mother had one name too. Her name was Mom.
    Johnny was a teen. Johnny never called himself that. Sometimes, Johnny called himself Satan. Sociologists and educators called Johnny a sociopath. A sociopath is someone who can’t fit into society and takes revenge on it by assassinating its teachers, political leaders, and rock stars.

Chapter 2.
    Because Johnny was a sociopath, his parents sent him to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist’s name was Dr. Mengele. Dr. Mengele was a handsome middle-aged man. He had a good build and perfect features. He smiled a lot too, and his teeth were big and white. Someday, Dr. Mengele hoped to make Johnny smile a lot too.
    Johnny visited Dr. Mengele’s office once a week. Dr. Mengele’s office had a lot of pictures on the wall. Some of the pictures were of children and teens smiling. Some of the pictures just showed smiles. And some just showed teeth.
    Usually Dr. Mengele did all the talking. Johnny never said much. Johnny never said much because he was stoned.
    “So Johnny, how was school today?” Dr. Mengele asked.
    “We learned about Vietnam today,” Johnny answered. “Everyone wasted everyone.”
    “Johnny,” Dr. Mengele said. “We’ve known each other a long time. I also know your Mom. I’ve also helped your Mom. She never used to smile before she came to me. And I would like to see your father too. I’d like to see him smile all the time too. But Johnny, what I want to say is that we know each other well enough not to keep secrets from each other.”
    “Okay, I’m stoned,” Johnny said. “But I promise never to do it again.”
    “Johnny,” Dr. Mengele said. “You can trust me. Just tell me, did you kill John Lennon?”
    “No,” Johnny said. “That was somebody else.”
    “Johnny,” Dr. Mengele said as he put his hand on Johnny’s knee. “You have a sociopathic personality. But don’t worry. I’m here to help you.”
    “Thanks,” Johnny said.
    “Johnny,” Dr. Mengele said as he rubbed the inside of Johnny’s leg. “Did you kill President John Fitzgerald Kennedy?”
    “No,” Johnny said. “That was somebody else.”
    “Now remember what I told you,” Dr. Mengele said as he started rubbing Johnny’s groin. “You’re a psychotic alienated teenager with no concept of right or wrong. But don’t worry. I’m here to help you.”
    “Thanks,” Johnny said.
    “Just be honest with me, Johnny,” Dr. Mengele said as he unzipped Johnny’s zipper. “Did you push anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko out of the fourth floor window of a South African police station?”
    “Who’s he?” Johnny asked. “And what’s ‘apartheid’?”
    “Never mind,” Dr. Mengele said as he withdrew his hand. “We’ll talk again next week. And say hello to your Mom for me Johnny.”

Chapter 3.
    Johnny smoked a lot of marijuana. Dad drank a lot of bourbon. Mom took pills that were wrapped in plastic. Often, the three of them had conversations when they were stoned.
    “So Johnny, how was school today?” Mom asked.
    “We learned about Vietnam,” Johnny said. “Everyone wasted everyone.”
    “Johnny, I’m disappointed in you,” Dad said. “You didn’t try out for varsity sports. I’m beginning to think that you don’t want to turn into a fascist like your Dad.”
    “My psychiatrist tried to molest me,” Johnny said.
    “Now Johnny,” Mom said. “Dr. Mengele is there to help you. He’s helped me quite a bit. He’s prescribed these pills for me. See? They come wrapped in plastic. That’s to keep sick people from tampering with them and lacing them with cyanide.”
    “Johnny, when I was your age,” Dad said, “I was on the line-up for the team and making vicious cruel comments about women.”
    “Didja hear about the guy across the street?” Johnny asked. “The police found all these dead boys buried in his cellar. He used to chain them, have sex with them, and then torture them to death. I used to deliver his newspaper. He seemed so normal.”
    “Say Johnny,” Dad said waiving a steak knife. “What do you think about those Braves? Want to go to the ball game sometime?”
    “These pills make me feel so full of go!” Mom said with a smile.
    “He seemed so normal,” Johnny said with his face in his hands.

Chapter 4.
    Johnny lived in a suburb. It was called Dachau. All the houses in Dachau looked the same. The lawns, the Dads mowing them. The Moms swallowing pills wrapped in plastic. Even the National Guard jets flying above. They all looked the same.
    Dachau had a lot of civic organizations like The Lions Club. Someday, Dad hoped that Johnny would become a member of The Lions Club. Dad also hoped that someday Johnny would like sports.
    Dad’s Lions Club was sponsoring an anti-drug program. Sometimes, Dad brought home pamphlets about drug abuse and gave them to Johnny. Then Dad went into the old bomb shelter and made himself a drink.
    Johnny’s town only had expensive aluminum sided homes that all looked the same. There was nothing for Johnny and his friends to do. Johnny thought that Dachau was a boring place.
    Mom and Dad loved Dachau. It was a great place to raise a family. Mom and Dad worked in a city. The name of the city was My Lai. Mom and Dad would never have thought of living in the city that they worked in.
    Dachau had good schools for teens like Johnny. That was another reason why Mom and Dad lived there. They wanted Johnny to go to a good school, then go to the state university and become a member of The Lions Club.
    Johnny didn’t think his school was good. He thought it stunk. All the kids who played sports said things behind Johnny’s back. They said, Oh what a burnout. He’s never going to be rich and successful like me.
    Johnny didn’t think about planning for a career like those other kids. He had made a rational decision to smoke marijuana every chance he got. He knew that anti-drug programs like The Lions Club were just another way for its members to talk business.

Chapter 5.
    One day, Johnny had a metaphysical crisis. It happened after Johnny’s neighbor was arrested for chaining and torturing boys to death in his cellar.
    The neighbor’s name was Mr. Eichmann. Mr. Eichmann was popular with kids. He coached a lot of teenage sports teams. He was also involved with the Boy Scouts. Mr. Eichmann never liked Johnny. He told Johnny to cut his hair. He also told Johnny to try out for some of the sports teams. Johnny never would.
    One night after Mr. Eichmann was arrested, Johnny had a nightmare. It was about coaches, ballplayers, and sports fans. For a while, everything about this nightmare seemed normal. The coaches coached, the ballplayers played, and the fans cheered. Then things didn’t seem so normal. The coaches tortured young male sports players to death, the ballplayers machine-gunned foreign-looking people to death, and the fans screamed and cheered and ate human flesh in hamburger buns and hot dog rolls. At that point, Johnny woke up screaming. He screamed, “But at first they seemed so normal!”
    Johnny also began to have problems in school because of Mr. Eichmann. Kids would come to Johnny and say, “Hey Johnny, what was your neighbor Mr. Eichmann like? The one who raped and tortured all those boys?” Johnny would just step back and say, “he wasn’t like anything. He was just normal.” Then Johnny would walk away.
    Johnny told Dr. Mengele about the nightmares. Johnny told Dr. Mengele that coaches, ballplayers, and even people like lawyers, insurance salesmen, and accountants were starting to scare him. Dr. Mengele said, “That’s nonsense,” and prescribed pills for Johnny that would help him sleep better.
    Johnny may have been having a metaphysical crisis, but he was stable in knowing what kind of drugs were good for you and what kind of drugs were not.
    But Johnny couldn’t escape this metaphysical crisis. Everywhere he turned in Dachau, there were normal people. A few of Johnny’s friends, Flash and Demon, were not normal. But all the teachers and jocks that Johnny thought were just nerds, now began to scare him. And then one day something happened that made Johnny feel completely alone in the universe.
    It happened when Johnny was smoking marijuana one day under a giant steel power line. Johnny and his friends smoked marijuana, drank beer, sniffed glue, snorted cocaine, shot speed, dropped Quaaludes, did shots, and hung out under one of the power lines at the edge of town.
    Johnny and his friends liked the power lines because they looked like giant erector sets. The utility company liked the power lines too. They brought the people of Dachau their electricity and made the utility company a lot of money. It was after Johnny lit his second joint that a flying saucer landed a few feet away from him.
    “Big deal, space people,” Johnny said, as two space creatures walked towards him.
    “Oh no, not another suburban teenager,” the first space creature said to the second space creature.
    “Hey, no one is going to believe you’re here you know,” Johnny said to them when they were a few feet away.
    “I can see why they torture suburban teenagers on some of the other planets we visited,” said the first space creature, which wore a suit and tie and had a big hole where his heart should have been.
    “They’re the same everywhere we go,” said the second space creature, which wore a military uniform and had a hole through his head where there should have been a brain.
    “So how do you like Dachau?” Johnny asked them.
    “Boring,” the first space creature said.
    “Why do you keep coming back?” Johnny asked.
    The two space creatures started laughing.
    “What’s so funny?” Johnny asked. “You guys must be stoned.”
    “No, earth boy,” the first space creature said.
    “We’re not stoned. We’ve just seen it all,” said the second space creature.
    “And after awhile, things look the same no matter which planet you visit.”
    “You traveled all the way to earth to tell me that?” Johnny asked.
    “Earth boy, what’s your name?” the first space creature asked.
    “Johnny, just Johnny,” Johnny said. “I have no last name.”
    “Well, where we come from,” the first space creature said, “I’m your version of an investment banker and he’s your version of a general.”
    “You know, money and war, go hand in hand, no matter which planet you’re from,” the General said.
    “Oh no,” Johnny said with some worry.
    “And you want to know what else, Johnny?” the General said.
    “No. What?” Johnny said as he put his face in his hands.
    “There is no God!” the General said.
    “No! No!” Johnny cried.
    “That’s right Johnny!” the investment banker said. “Once you die, food for the worms!”
    “No!” Johnny cried as he started to run with his face in his hands. “I can’t take God being dead on top of normality being a lie!”
    And that was how Johnny had his first metaphysical crisis. And life as a modern American teen for Johnny would never be the same again.

One Horse Is as Good as Another

Justin Creed

    Bill threw his leg over the side of the stallion he rode, and slid off into a slow, steady crouch. His legs were literally killing him. They always did on rides like this. His legs would lock up and his sides went numb. Maybe it was all the gunfights. Seven hours in the saddle will do that to a man. He spent a couple more minutes crouched down in the dusty street of the rundown border town, and finally stood. He looked around from under the wide brim of his beige cowboy hat and shuffled his feet as he started to move toward the saloon. After he ascended to the wooden porch of the saloon, his star-shaped spurs started to clink.
    The metallic ring echoed throughout the saloon as he pushed the swinging doors open. He moved a few more paces inside the saloon as the doors closed behind him, continuing to swing on their hinges. He placed his hand on the knot that secured his handkerchief around his neck and jerked the piece of red cloth off his body. He wiped the sweat from his brow, moving his hand slowly across his face. When he felt refreshed, he looked at the bartender and said from the corner of his mouth, “Can I get a shot of whiskey?”
    “Sure thing,” the bartender replied.
    The cowboy made his way to the poker table, looking at the action that was taking place between the betting and dealing. The men tried to stare each other down while they placed money in the pot. Right now, there was more than seventy-five dollars in on the table. Finally, a man with a cigar hanging from his mouth said gently, “I call.”
    The cigar-smoking man showed his hand after coyly switching a card from his shirt sleeve and took the money from the table, holding it in his hands as he sorted through the cash. No one but Bill had seen what had happened. One of his competitors stood and placed his hat upon his head.
    “It looks like you got me again, Red,” the man said.
    “You think you’d learn after a while,” Red replied.
    Bill couldn’t let a man walk out after being cheated, so he walked to the table and stood directly beside Red. Bill stared at him with sharp eyes, waiting to see if the cheater would flinch. Red stared back, and couldn’t tell why this stranger had a problem with him.
    “Can I do anything for you?” Red asked, trying to be polite.
    “Sure is, you can give this man the money you just stole back to him,” Bill replied coldly. He knew this was going to cause trouble, and he slid his hand down his side, placing it on the wooden handle of his Colt revolver. He patiently waited to see what the man was going to do, not trying to force Red into any sort of corner that would make him fight.
    “I don’t know what you’re talking about, or where you’re from, but in this town, we don’t accuse people of cheating unless we are absolutely sure.”
    Bill snatched Red’s arm by the wrist and elbowed him in the face with his other arm. He reached down into the card sharp’s shirt sleeve, and pulled out two Aces from the man’s garment. “I know what the hell I’m talking about, you worthless piece of junk. Now I don’t know where you’re from, but in MY town, we just don’t cheat. What else did you get from this man?”
    “Here, here!” Red screamed, throwing paper at the table. He could barely take the pain and his cigar had fallen out of his mouth when he screamed.
    “Good man,” Bill snarled. “Now we’re gonna play a hand or two of poker with these cards,” he said, holding up a deck that had blue backs. The cards still on the table were covered in red.
    “Okay, okay, we’ll play. Just let my arm go,” Red cried. He took his seat and placed his hand under the table. The shotgun was still there. He swiveled the gun toward the seat which Bill was occupying, and checked to see if the hammer was still cocked.
    “They must call you Red because that’s the color of cards you use to cheat people.”
    “Nah, they call me Red because I always get caught red-handed, just like you caught me.”
    “Yet you still keep on doing the same dumb things, huh? I’m going to count these cards out and make sure there’s 52 of them here. And while I’m doing that, you’re gonna keep your hands away from these cards, you understand? Don’t get uppity or anything, because I’ll blow a hole out your ass so fast you won’t know what hit you,” Bill snapped at Red.
    Bill kept shuffling through the cards, and when he neared the end of the deck, he heard the snap when the hammer of the shotgun under the table cocked into firing position. Bill’s eyes got wide, and he took a shot of whiskey as he murmured, “You yellow-bellied son-of-a-bitch.”
    The shot hit Bill right in the stomach. He had been gut-shot, and there was no cure for that. He had been taught that from the time he was a little kid by his scarcely seen father. He looked as Red grabbed every bit of money from the table and headed out the saloon doors, shuffling backward to keep everyone in the bar in his field of vision. Once he heard his boots knocking on the wooden porch, he ran to the hitching post, catching a glimpse of a lone stallion that was held by its reins.
    Red shouted back so that the dying man in the saloon could hear him. “That’s why they call me Red. I leave you covered in blood!” He had a smile that was as big as the Texas prairies, and he rode off on the back of the tamed beast, urging more speed from the equine as he neared the edge of town.
    Back in the saloon, a grim voice called from the floor near the poker tables. “Barkeep, give me a shot of whiskey.” The man’s teeth were grinding in pain as he tried to enjoy the last few moments of his barren life. The bartender brought a shot glass filled with brown elixir to the man as he struggled to sit up against a chair. As the glass reached his lips, Bill’s hand fell, spilling the liquor.

Untitled (looking)

Nathan Hahs

looking at that slab of meat
looking back at me
through the mirror

Over Sky

Ryan Priest

    The black Chevrolet sped away driven by Elliot Leonard Davidson. The car held tightly to the road but not recklessly. The night was too important to risk an accident. The destination, the homecoming dance. The first dance of the year, the first dance Elliot had ever been to and the first date he had ever had was probably already there waiting for him.
    Charlotte Samantha Johnson had been the most beautiful creature in Elliot’s life through his junior year in high school. He had watched her from behind corners with peripheral glances without ever having worked up the courage to ask her out.
    She was from one of the better families in the community. Elliot’s family was one of the worst. Two bad brothers had already passed through Wilson High ruining his reputation before the first day of his freshman year.
    Elliot himself wasn’t a bad boy but it made no difference. His last name was Davidson and the Davidsons were a bad lot. The teachers just assumed that Elliot was so good at being bad as to never get caught in the act.
    Senior year, Davidson or not, he could wait no longer. He could spend no more nights lying awake wondering if he’d ever have her. So with homecoming dance approaching Elliot had asked Charlotte to be his date.
    Without hesitation she had said yes. No pause, no reflection, the answer had always been yes only he’d been too nervous to ever ask for it before. Charlotte was on one of the committees and had to be at the dance early so the two were set to meet there.
    The tie kept choking Elliot each time he would swallow and his hands were sweat-stuck to the steering wheel. He hadn’t ever been this anxious before. Everything had to be perfect.
    He’d envisioned the night countless times. He could see the two of them dancing and laughing. So clear it all appeared in his mind’s eye. What was less clear was the shape of his car through the dust covered windshield of the truck heading towards him on the other side of the road.
    Elliot took note of the car’s swerving. It was ok. He could get passed. He knew this land like the back of his hand. He’d grown up in the same house he’d been born in.
    Now he was two miles from home and three from school all along the same winding road streaking down the hillside.
    Elliot gave the truck a wide berth as they passed. Only when Elliot got closer did he notice a metal pole poking out from the bed and making ready to take his car across the windshield.
    “Please don’t do this to me.” Elliot felt the soft words leave his lips without sound. He wasn’t speaking to God or to the other driver but to Life and Fate, the only two truly impartial forces in the universe. “Please don’t do this to me...not now.”
    It was instinct and not wisdom that made Elliot jerk the steering wheel to his right. Just an inch. That’s all it took for the speeding Chevy to slide off of the road and then flip over onto its side. It landed on the steepest part of the slope and then it rolled again and again, and again.
    The purple clouds, the silver moon, the green trees and the black Earth did somersaults in the window. The metal roared and the glass, all of the glass, shattered crystallizing the air.
    There was heat coming from somewhere. A moist heat through his entire body nearly suffocating him. Something was bad, really bad.
    Elliot didn’t open his eyes. He knew he was still alive through the sound of his own gasping breath. The heat was still assaulting him from all sides. Was he on fire? He concentrated, it wasn’t fire. It was pain.
    Was anyone coming? Elliot had to open his eyes. He would look straight ahead though and not down at his body, whatever was left of it. Elliot prepared to open his shut lids when the horrible thought occurred to him: What if I’ve lost one or both of my eyes?
    The mental picture began to form itself, a mangled, mutilated body in an equally mangled car. The body, torn to pieces tries to open its eyes but only one blue dot can be seen because the other’s hollowed out with some sort of viscera in place of the missing eye. Elliot shuddered and the shudder racked his lungs. He had to chance it.
    Elliot opened his left eye and then closed it. He then opened his right eye and closed it. Each seemed to be in working order. He opened both making doubly sure not to look at himself.
    He was upside down, but the car wasn’t. He wondered how that had happened but just as quickly dismissed that line of thought, too many disturbing possibilities. His mind next wandered to Charlotte.
    He could see her as he’d imagined her, standing alone at the punch bowl waiting for him to arrive. Only this time he wasn’t coming, his fantasy coming true without him. He felt sorry, not for himself but for Charlotte. She’d think that she had been stood up. Sure, sooner or later she’d hear the grim truth but that wouldn’t make up for the humiliation she’d feel tonight.
    Was anyone coming? It had been...some time since his wreck. It seemed at least enough time for the other driver to have stopped to help. Elliot listened for footsteps or car engines or some sort of man made sound. There was only the creaking of crickets and a flutter of some unseen bird’s wings. No one was coming.
    He needed to look down. He might only have a cut. He’d feel stupid bleeding to death because he didn’t have sense enough to tend to the wound. There was that but there was also the fear that he might look down and see only puddles of red. He had been thrown around pretty hard and now he was upside down. That kind of thing didn’t happen without some sort of traumatic injury to the body.
    Elliot had been careful not to move a muscle, not even a twitch. What if he tried to move a missing limb? Then he’d know it was gone and would always be gone. As long as he didn’t know one way or the other there could be hope. Nothing was set in stone.
    Taking a deep painful breath of knives into his lungs, Elliot let his eyes drop. He had to know.
    Jesus Christ
    Elliot didn’t know how to feel about what he was looking at. His legs were gone at the knees and through both of his thighs bloody rods of steel stuck in and out from every angle. His stomach, or at least the skin over it was gone. He no longer had any organs it seemed, only a mashed mess of congealed sludge oozing out all over the legs.
    Sorry Charlotte, I tried.
    There was a calmness in knowing his situation. Elliot Leonard Davidson was dying. The pain went back to just feeling like heat and the sound of his breath grew fainter.
    He thought back to the dance he’d never get to. Charlotte would do okay. She had looks. She’d get to dance with someone else. Elliot was generally a somewhat jealous person but now there was only compassion. He hoped she’d have fun. He had tried and failed and sometimes that happens. Not everyone is meant for great things.
    Elliot said goodbye to Charlotte, in his mind. His voice had already left him. He looked down at his body feeling no pain, anger or shame. It was okay that his legs were gone, he was going too. It was all okay because he’d been an okay guy. No fears or even regret as the violet blanket of night closed down on him. His last thought was of Charlotte, the way she’d sounded when she accepted his invitation, the looks he caught from her in the halls and even the dream of her at the homecoming dance in a beautiful red could always be red, the night could turn out however he wanted, nothing had been set in stone.

Airport Calls

M. E. Mitchell

    You check the calendar again and pretend to act surprised. It’s April already, the season he heads north for his other life. All the things people look forward to this time of year only distresses you. Budding trees, lustrous fauna, and the hopeful anticipation that usually accompanies spring, is old hat. Been there, done that, didn’t pan out. That calendar is nothing more than a monthly announcement by which you chart your foolishness.
    Evenings of intimate farewells gave way long ago to the sound of coins dropping every few minutes into a public phone at the departure terminal. You hang onto every word he shouts at you above the background noise. See you after the Woodbine meet is over. I’ve left some money for you with so-and-so in case you find yourself short. Be well.
    Air Canada beckons him. You’re choking on the truth he needs to hear, but the operator interrupts and asks for an additional fifty cents. Forget it; he’s already bolted to the luggage check-in. How remarkably fast he moves when necessary. Even the telephone conversations are on his terms.
    You could write your own ticket with me.
     You were stunned, though flattered, by that line he sprung on you the first week. You kept him at arm’s length until he wore you down and won the game. Your cherished grand ideals nose-dived when an easier way loomed and you got that top-dog title in the end. Write your own ticket, my ass.
    You check the calendar again. It’s June now and the May call never came. An eloquent recording announces the number you have just dialed has been changed, no further information is available. Well, old girl, what did you expect?
    Between the anger and deprecating introspection, you still manage to justify a decade of waste. He is considerate; at least he made sure so-and-so keeps you supplied with a stack of Diazepam scripts.
    As the yellow pills work their magic, that disquiet in your head begins to ease and you realize Anne Sexton was right . . . you are a watercolor, you wash off.

The Postman, The Toys
and The Streets of Meadowbank South

Matt Barden

    People should always know their postman by name. That was the boss’s motto at the city sorting office, conscious of Royal Mail’s image and the decreasing popularity of postal services in the era of i-this and e-that.
    Ray Chubb lived by this motto. His patch may have looked like an unremarkable polygon on any map, a chicken-leg of land squashed between river and canal and separated from Victoria Park by the main railway line, but in reality, at street-level, it was a hive of people. The grassy floodplain that gave Meadowbank its name had long been concreted over as the city spread like a leak across a kitchen floor, but the inhabitants of its streets and terraces and roads were important to Ray. And he was important to them. The neighbourhood watch had fallen to allegations of voyeurism. The residents’ association was ruled by Capt. Bletsoe and stood essentially for the interests of Capt. Bletsoe. In a place where the Big Society was just another kind of B.S., where the milkmen had been replaced by a conveyor-belt of supermarkets and where there were more boobies on the street than Bobbies on the beat, the postman was the friendly face of the community.
    “Morning Mrs Hutton,” he’d say with a smile. “How’s Alf?”
    He knew in which homes lived men who worked and in which slept men who would arise at pub opening time. He knew the names of the kids and could tell their approaching birthdays by the increase in the number of hand-written envelopes addressed to them. Even in the high-rise flats where the children didn’t get many cards, Ray would still spot the balloons hanging from windows like a psychedelic version of a barber’s pole. “Hello Mrs Watts, say happy birthday to Wayne for me.”
    As postman, he was trusted; Ray knew under which paving slab the Borthwicks kept the spare key. He kept his ears and eyes open; Ray could tell when a family had gone on holiday.
    “Do you need a hand there Ray?”
    “Oh no thank you Tommy, Mrs Hutton asked me to drop these parcels in their garage. Don’t mind me.”
    Ray began to tell which packages would contain cash sent from overseas and which houses had the most spoilt children. It wasn’t rare for mail to go missing at the sorting office for an inordinate length of time, so pocketing envelopes aroused little suspicion. Once inside an empty house, it was easy to find an Mp3 player and hide it in his big blue jacket.
    The local evening paper just blamed the crime rate on the lack of police officers, the police blamed the councillors, the council blamed politicians, politicians blamed the migrants, the immigrants blamed the working class, the poor blamed the middle class and the middle class complained to the local paper. No-one thought about the postmen. No-one suspected Ray on his bike.
    The next summer Ray approached his manager, his shirt drenched in sweat. “Can I swap the bike for a van please?”
    “A van in this weather Ray? Are you sure?”
    “I’d prefer the van- less hard work for an old codger like me.”
    “You do insist on wearing your coat though Ray, that can’t help.”
    “Appearances are everything Steve, you taught me that. No, I’ll take the van, no problem. The other lads will prefer to be on foot when the sun’s out anyway.”
    Ray soon found that he didn’t need the coat: the van’s bright red colour and the Royal Mail insignia provided more benefit. He could park on the empty driveways of the larger houses in Meadowbank South, where the fathers worked and where the mothers congregated at coffee shops and leisure centres. Anyone watching would see him take the parcel to the front door, then try around the back and then bring it unsuccessfully back to the van. But Ray was careful not to let them see him retrieve keys from under garden ornaments, or take more items away than he had bought with him.
    December was particularly lucrative, irrespective of Ray’s mode of transport. Everyone celebrated Christmas in the city, even the poor and the Bangladeshis.
    “Merry Christmas Mrs Iqbal. Looks like another card for young Taj.”
    “Thank you Ray; here, have some of these shingaras. And have this little something on us; get you and your family a treat.”
    “Very kind of you, but I’d rather not,” said Ray, embarrassed by her generosity and momentarily ashamed by the teddy bear that he had snuck from Taj’s bedroom two days previously and that currently occupied a pile of toys in his spare room.
    Ray pulled the furry lining of his red coat tight around his chin and clapped his hands together. This December had been colder than for several years and the gradual incline through the cemetery was frozen hard. In the far corner, steam rose plumb straight from the chimney atop the groundskeepers’ hut. Reaching his destination, he knelt down by a small, beautifully-carved headstone.
    “Rest my beautiful one,” he murmured, his tears reassuringly warm on his cold cheek. “I hope God is looking after you. I miss you so much.”
    The bear he took from his bag had a red ribbon around his neck, shining bright against the black fur. Placing it on the grave, he brushed the ice from the grey stone.
    “Merry Christmas my child,” he prayed.
    After his tears had dried, Ray drove his rented white van to the hospital. He grabbed the pillow from the passenger seat and stuffed it inside his coat.
    “So good to see you, Mr Chubb,” said the matron as he approached.
    “You too matron,” he said. “You’re in my prayers this Christmas.”
    “And you in mine.”
    Ray slowly shook hands with each of the nurses in turn and followed matron, his two giant sacks of toys balanced over his shoulder.
    “Ho ho ho,” he laughed loudly. For the occupants of the children’s ward, he’d make sure it would be the best Christmas ever.

The Dascoli Last Stand

Kevin Cole

    At Drill Team finale, on Memorial Day, Brad Dascoli dropped his loaded gun. It was during the light carbine spin, the West Point move, all cadets rotating rifles with syncopated speed. The gun clattered to the concrete ground. Brad broke ranks and discipline to chase the runaway weapon. A fellow cadet kicked it far from his grasp. Another kicked it again. The rifle finally came to rest against the spiked schoolyard fence. Brad ran to the fence, picked up the rifle, cradled it like a wounded comrade. The spectator crowd of parents and neighbors stared at him as if he had performed a sexual act of bestial consequence.
    Brad’s mother, Lea, ran to the fence. Too late, Brad had stumbled away with the gun.
    “Put the safety on, you little jackass,” Georgie Pomutz said. He stuck his acne cratered nose between the fence spikes.
    “Lay off, Georgie,” Lea said. “That drill is sick. It’s dangerous. They’re twelve year old kids!”
    Lea swept both hands through her hair, then lowered them, ready for parental combat.
    Georgie pulled his nose back from the fence, pointed it at Lea like a snot pistol.
    “Most twelve year olds can handle it,” he said. “My kids did.” Ray Taylor intervened. He was the VFW commander, blue hatted for respect.
    “That’s enough Georgie,” he said. “The kid’s humiliated. It wasn’t deliberate. This is a bit too much.”
    The drill ended in the schoolyard with a circling platoon of young flagwavers. The seventh grade band backed them with the traditional off key version of “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
    “Come to the barbecue later,” Ray said. “We’ll get Brian over this. Poor guy.”
    “We’ll see,” Lea said. “Got a busy day helping at the store. Sounds good, though.” She looked again for Brad, but he had retreated to the gym with the other ROTC cadets.
    Ray kissed her on the cheek, walked off to command his veteran platoon. The rest of the crowd dispersed in holiday disorder. Georgie sniped at Lea with a final glower. Then, he vanished behind an overage sea scout.
    Lea was redfaced, muttering, attracting bystander curiosity. She walked away from the schoolyard, downhill on Scammon Avenue towards Osterhaus Avenue.
    “For God’s sake,” she thought, “wasn’t there enough going on?” She remembered the contents of the envelope and shuddered.
    American flags hung from porches, from apartment windows. The smell of overcooked chicken franks wafted in from backyard grills. Roc Naglee waved to Lea from the doorway of Naglee and Negley’s chic health center, “Fitness Forever”. She ran both hands through her blackgrey hair, jerked an answering wave.
    The letter arrived, with typical city timing, right before the holiday weekend. The imperial Department of Health return address was underscored by the red-lettered threat, “LEGAL NOTICE, OPEN UPON RECEIPT.” The twelve page document, naming James and Lea Dascoli, owners, was an indictment of their business, Old Town Bakery, for violation of the city’s sugar free baking policy. A warning was issued that random inspection by SSCB (Salt and Sugar Control Board) enforcement teams was mandated. The final paragraph threatened termination of business if the sugar control law was not followed with full acceptance.
    Lea shuddered again.
    There was a problem. To the city, sugar was an issue. To the Dascolis, it was gold. Jimmy and Lea’s “Back Door Bakery”, the basement room where they made creamy wedding cakes, buttery pastries, and sugary donuts, was an American success. Neighborhood word of mouth advertising quickly upgraded a small order business to brisk clandestine catering. Weddings, confirmations, birthdays, were all serviced through a service slot in the Dascoli back door. Cash was pushed in, cakes pushed out. Jimmy hired Gabe Lopez, an unemployed veteran, to discretely make deliveries.
    Lea passed the former “Mussey’s Motors”, a used car lot, now “City Speed”, a used bicycle lot. She was startled to a nervous halt as she approached Osterhaus Avenue.
    Police barricades blocked intersections. Howling spectators with giveaway balloons lined the sidewalks. It was The Gold Coast Run. She shouldered her way through the spectator line to a viewing point. An erratic line of numbered runners in yellow hats went by. Each wore a tee shirt with the logo of a corporate sponsor. As Lea watched, the contestant from Bank of the Nazarene elbowed past the runner from Dubai Holdings Trust. There was no complaint. This was an extreme sports event, winner take all. First and only prize was an authentic Spanish doubloon from the golden age of piracy.
    “These guys get it to the extreme,” a khaki clad spectator said to a son in mini khaki. They high-fived, waved matching game towels.
    “I’ve got to get across the street,” Lea said. She chewed an errant fingernail.
    “Taste good, sweetheart?” a short older woman said. Her breasts sagged left and right under a “Gym for Geriatrics” sweatshirt.
    Lea ignored her, turned away, rubbed a wet hand on her jeans. This event had to end sometime, for God’s sake.
    It did. The running stream of yellow hats surged forward, then ended. A last runner waving a corporate banner tripped the runner ahead of him, then vanished upstreet. The crowd, unsatisfied, murmured and remained, loiterers with leisure time.
    Lea ran across the street, picking her way through the malingerers. Charlie Woodbury, skeletal neighborhood relic, scowled at her through schoolmaster glasses. His balloon cord tangled in her earring. After a yelp from Charlie and a fluttering unwind, she was free.
    “Let me just get to the store,” she said, running to it, a block away to the left.
    There it was, “Old Town Bakery”, on the corner of Osterhaus and Baird, next to the downstairs subway entrance. The time faded sign hung from iron moorings over the gingerbread storefront, and cottage style display windows. The windows were mostly bare now, a few plain, pale looking rolls and loaves, “Ghost Bread”, under the mandatory “100% Sugar Free” sign. Jimmy had hung an American flag over the display. It was an old one, public school surplus, the white stripes faded to worn yellow.
    The store was empty.
    Jimmy was behind the counter when Lea walked in. He looked scared, wide baby face, side fringe bald head, belly fat projecting over his city regulation bakery pants.
    “Ray told me about Brad,” he said. “Where is he? Didn’t you wait for him? Dammit, Lea.”
    “He went back to the gym with the rest of the cadets,” Lea said. “He was gone before I could do anything. I couldn’t do anything. If he isn’t here soon, I’ll go back and get him.”
    That wasn’t necessary. Brad walked in the door, still uniformed, face pale beneath his freshly shaved head.
    “For conduct unbecoming in the line of duty,” he said. “Yes sir.”
    Jimmy smacked the counter. A mist of sugarless flour ascended.
    Lea ran hands through her hair. Tears welled up.
    “It’s discipline, Mom,” Brian said. “I lost control.”
    “Oh, Brian,” she said, “please sit down. Dad and I need to talk.” There were four old tables in front of the counter, round with polished wood tops. Brian sat at the first one, at attention.
    “Stay there, please,” Lea said. She led Jimmy by the hand into the backroom, the contraband bakery room.
    Jimmy closed the door to the store area behind them.
    “What did they do to him, Lea?” he said. “What was that— a general court martial? Why didn’t they just shoot him for God’s sake?”
    “He wanted to join— to be one of the boys.” Lea said. Her hands shook. “You know how it is. He wants to be accepted.”
    “He can be accepted by guys who aren’t psycho,” Jimmy said. “This crap is over. We have enough to worry about with this letter. The city and this ‘Surge for Health’. We’re screwed. Royally. Totally. You know that.”
    “We’re making money, Jimmy,” Lea said. “The family is holding it for us. It’s safe. When is it going to be enough so we can leave, get out of this crazy city. It’s all changed.”
    “It’s not that easy, Lea,” Jimmy said. “We can’t just suddenly come up with...”
    There was a rap on the outer door. Jimmy opened the slot. Gabe Lopez peered in, sad eyes under a baseball hat.
    “They’re here for the first grade order, boss.,” he said.
    “Okay,” Jimmy said. “That’s four dozen assorted donuts, two sheet cakes with whipped cream and strawberries. Come in and help us load up.”
    Gabe’s eyes looked sadder.
    “He wants to do the deal in the store,” he said. “The guy promises he’ll be quick”
    “In the store? He better be quiet, too,” Jimmy said. “All right, we’ll see him up there now.” He closed the slot.
    “That’s careless,” Lea said. “Doesn’t this guy realize he gets nailed, too, if we get caught?”
    “Sugar free, not for me,” Jimmy smiled. “Let’s go help another guy who likes it sweet.”
    They walked to the front of the store and were met by the inspection team. There were five of them, spread out around the bakery in offensive formation. The leader, suited and hairstyled, flashed a smile of gleaming implants, and a badge.
    “James and Lea Dascoli,” he said, “I’m Nathan Crosman from the Salt and Sugar Control Board.. You’ve been found in violation of the city’s sugar regulations. We’re authorized to inspect this business, confiscate the contraband, and shut you down. Any questions?”
    “You’re killing our family with this law,” Jimmy said, “and everybody else with a family business. You have no right to tell people what to eat! Where is this law from? God?”
    “Even better,” Crosman said, “it’s from the mayor, the city council, and been upheld in court. Let’s get to it, boys.” The team were dressed alike, same-suited, with a mix of bonelook and marinelook hair. They deployed in formation. As they scattered, Gabe Lopez was revealed, detained.
    “Sorry, boss,” he said. “They caught me loading the truck. Somebody tipped them off.” His eyes were sadder, cap dropped low over his forehead.
    “The back room, chief,” a team member said. He donned forensic gloves.
    “The stash is in the back room. That’s what the snitch said.”
    “The ‘concerned citizen’ said,” Crosman corrected. “Okay, Harney, lead on.”
    Harney took the point, led the team into the back room. Jimmy and Lea followed, compelled by condemnation.
    “Look at this haul,” he said. “Chief, ready the camera.”
    “Put the light on,” Crosman said to Jimmy.
    Jimmy pulled the switch, a bulb on a long cord flicked on. Shadows followed Harney’s accusing finger.
    “There ya go, chief.”
    Revealed were trays of donuts with a rainbow of icings. Next to them sat large sheet cakes, blizzard topped with whipped cream and strawberries under decorative cellophane.
    Crosman took pictures of the evidence.
    “You do great work, Jimmy,” he said.
    Jimmy nodded, hands shaking like Lea’s. Lea whispered an old prayer.
    “Now, let’s get this up front for the retrieval team,” he said. “Ammen and Hinks, help Harney with the load. Shanks, call the truck. Think I’ll take some newsworthy pictures.”
    He did. Jimmy and Lea were nudged to the front of the store, the team behind them in practiced ranks. Shanks wiggled his brush mustache, patted Gabe on the hat, shoved him forward.
    Brian still sat at the table, at attention. Ammen and Hinks placed the evidence in front of him. They prepared to bureau tag the cake and pastry.
    “Don’t eat any of the evidence,” Hinks said. He had a knife scar under his chin.
    The teammates were chuckling, pleased. Jimmy and Lea were headsdown upset. Brian stared straight ahead, on duty.
    “James and Lea Dascoli,” Crosman said, “you’re under arrest for felony violation of the salt and sugar control laws.” He produced a folded warrant and a manufactured smile..
    Jimmy forced himself to attention. Lea cried, rubbed her hands on her face.
    “You have the right to remain silent...” Crosman began the Miranda liturgy.
    “These do look good,” Hinks said. He picked up a donut, waved it in front of Brad, who grabbed it from his hand, and slammed it into his face.
    “Counterattack engaged,” Brad said. He leaped at Hinks, forced donut into his mouth. Jelly oozed, Hinks gagged.
    Brad grabbed donuts from the tray, fired them at Ammen and Shanks, a grenade barrage, with successful head shots.
    Brad emptied the tray, drove the team back. Harney howled as donut debris entered his left nostril.
    “Come here, you little...” Crosman advanced on Brad. Gabe tripped him going by.
    Jimmy grabbed the tray from Brad, smacked it against Crosman’s knee. Crosman grabbed the knee and hopped. Then, Jimmy slammed the tray over his head.
    The team retreated towards the door, as Brad retrieved more ammunition from the second tray, and continued the deadly fusillade.
    “Get out of our store,” Lea said. “We built this, we worked at it, get out!”
    Crosman used his cellphone with a jelly reddened hand.
    “Back up, we need back up! Don’t ask me for what! Are you laughing?” Lea picked up a sheet cake, smashed it into Crosman who now resembled a shabby snowman. The team retreated to the street. Jimmy slammed and locked the door. He upturned a table, placed it against the doorframe.
    “We’re done now, Lea,” Jimmy said. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t take any more of this.”
    “I’m not sorry,” Lea said. “They pushed us and pushed us where we couldn’t go any further. Now, they’re wearing it.”
    Jimmy looked out the window where a bored crowd surrounded the pastry encrusted team.
    “Yes, they are,” he said.
    They laughed, a loud burst, pointed at Crosman wiping icing from his face. Hinks was pulling donut from his brigade tie.
    There was a shout from the upstairs window.
    “I have not yet begun to fight!” Brian said. He dropped the other sheet cake on Shanks, a direct hit. He secured the high ground, the second floor.
    “More ammo!” he called.
    Shanks whirled, splattering collateral cake on bystanders, including Georgie Pomutz and Charlie Woodbury. More people were coming, a siren whooped from an approaching police car.
    “How can I help, boss,” Gabe said. “I’ll help, then I’m out of here.”
    “Good idea,” Jimmy said. “Let’s check inventory and get ready to fling it.”
    “On Memorial Day,” Lea said.
    They went to the back room, checked shelves and freezers. Gabe found several additional cakes, cookies and whipped cream pastries. Armed with bandoliers of baked goods, Jimmy and Lea went upstairs.
    “Got to go,” Gabe said. “I’ll come back later to...keep an eye on things.”
    “While we’re in jail,” Jimmy called back to him.
    Brad defended the upper window behind a breastworks of scattered furniture. Jimmy and Lea reinforced his position. Below, a gathered crowd of the curious peered up at them, and watched the health team literally lick their pastry wounds.
    “I’m the one who dropped a quarter on them, “Charlie Woodbury said. He peered through his bifocals under a shapeless fedora.
     Jimmy used the fedora as ground zero, allowed for wind variation, and dropped a cake on Charlie. It exploded in a starry burst of gooey color. Lea pummeled Georgie with pastries. When he wiped one away, another hit him in the face. His nose lifted through the wreckage, turned like a periscope.
    “You may fire when ready, Gridley,” Brad said, firing pastry at will into the onlookers.
    “Here’s somethin’ ta see,” a grandmother said, dragging a toddler to a better sightline, “a whole family flipping going godawful looney.” She cackled, the toddler stuck a hand into her plastic diaper.
    Parade ballons were released into the air, indignant curses offered from upturned mouths. People pushed forward toward the bakery. Georgie Pomutz was kidney punched in the back. Two squad cars arrived in a duet of sirens and tire squeals. Policmen emerged, hands on weapon belts.
    “That’s it,” Jimmy said. “This bunch just isn’t going to their get raw meat today. They’re going to have to settle for some Old Town Bakery pastry.”
    Brian scattered some baked goods into the crowd.
    “Officers, we’re coming out! “Jimmy called down, “Please get us out of here.”
    Charlie Woodbury snarled. Georgie Pomutz snorted through his icing glazed nose. The crowd was disappointed at the abrupt game end. Stragglers began to leave.
    Lea took Jimmy’s arm. Brian walked ahead of them downstairs, arms still laden with baked goods. When they got to the front door, Jimmy rolled the table away from the entrance. He removed the American flag from the display window, dropped it on a table. They walked outside.
    The police had edged the crowd back. They advanced, took the Dascoli’s into custody.
    “Assault and flagrant disregard for the city’s health code,” Crosman said. He wiped jelly and icing off his suit with purpose and dignity.
    “With malice toward none, with charity for all,” Brian said.
    Jimmy tossed the remaining baked goods into the crowd.
    “Enjoy it, folks,” Lea said. “It’s real food. Remember it when you’re having Ghost Bread for your next kid’s birthday or your wedding anniversary. This is final compliments of the Old Town Bakery.”
    “Let’s go,” the lead officer said, blue clad, fit and groomed. He led them to the car, Jimmy first, Lea second, Brian last.


    It was quiet late night. Gabe carefully popped the lock on the bakery back door.
    “I know how to make the cakes. Jimmy taught me,” he said.
    Shanks held the flashlight.
    “This stuff is righteous. It’s pure,” he said. “I’ve got five orders for you already.
    “The business of America is business,” Gabe said.

The Window

Jill Simons

    All us mannequins are all made the same, you know. We all come from the same factory in Italy, all from the same mold. We are all processed from the same fiberglass and plastic, poured into the same cast, and assembled in the same order. The only thing that makes us different is the window that we occupy. The window determines your quality of life. Some models will end up in malls around the United States. They’ll exist behind the windows of H&M, the Gap, and Victoria’s Secret. These windows are okay, but you know you’ve really made it when you’re displayed behind a window on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The Fifth Avenue models are the aristocracy of the mannequin world.
    What makes a mannequin on Fifth Avenue think she is better than anyone else? Is it just because she is wearing a Carolina Herrera contrast bow-shoulder satin gown, Jimmy Choo glittered crisscross sling backs, and a Gucci python medium shoulder flap bag? We are all made from the same mold, you know. Some of us are just luckier than others.
    I was one of the lucky ones once. Even though I couldn’t speak, I had the ability to communicate and attract the attention of a passerby. The only words I needed to declare were, “Here I am.” I reigned for three years behind that window of Bergdorf Goodman until one day an assailant bearing a name tag and carrying next season’s Alexander McQueen’s Lace Faux-Wrap Dress jerked down the zipper on my Versace gown, thrusting her fist into my back. I tumbled to the ground, my right hand shattered into dust. The window couldn’t have an imperfect model standing in it, so they banished me to 8th Avenue and 40th Street, where I stand outside next to Statues of Liberty encased in snow globes, coffee mugs imprinted with the Empire State Building, and a rack full of postcards. My uniform is an “I Love New York” t-shirt and jeans that are tearing at the seams. I am invisible. There are no more windows for me.
    All I can stand to do now is dream about my days behind my pane of glass that allowed me to be seen, knowing that a mannequin’s life is not measured in years, months, or days. It is measured in windows.

Santiago’s Leg

Mike Brennan

    Sailors are known for being notoriously superstitious. We try to avoid bad luck with all sorts of rituals and with all our might. Bad luck can mean life or death out in the middle of the open ocean. While dolphins surrounded our ship when we left the pier, a myriad of bad luck all seemed to conjure around Airman Santiago’s leg. He was much loved by our division, and his leg seemed to spark a series of events that would alter and haunt all of our lives forever. There was always talk that our ship, the USS Richard M Nixon, was supposedly haunted and cursed, as it had been commissioned before the Vietnam War and had seen it’s fair share of death and disasters, especially during that particular conflict. After my first tour onboard I would have to agree.
    V1 Division was conducting flight operation, probably somewhere near Korea but no one of my lowly rank could really be too sure. It was a dark but starry night, the kind you can only experience and contemplate out in the middle of the ocean as we drifted around three o’clock in the morning, and we were winding down the hyperactive flight deck until 0800, when we would repeat the whole jig all over again.
    We had been launching and recovering planes with little or no breaks since 0800 the day before. For almost three months straight we only had a few days off deck, which was usually around one Sunday a month, which was enough time for the crew too receive their many different religious rites and in my case a brunch of bacon and eggs. We were promised a port visit to Hong Kong in about a week so despite our dragging spirits there was still some glimmer of hope. We all needed a little R&R, which usually meant stiff drinks and bar broads, yet we still did not have a set date for our much needed debauchery.
    The flight deck was a football field sized airport with hundreds of different players dancing an esoteric ballet masked by their goggles and helmets, identifiable only by their different colored jerseys. Purple shirts pulled fuel hoses from the catwalks and fueled the jets already parked on the flight line and along the deck edges, as yellow shirts directed the aircrafts still in motion towards their final parking spots by waving amber wands at the pilots, and green shirts performed maintenance on the catapults and arresting gear every time another plane hit the deck and caught the wires with a roar that made me feel like I had stepped right into the middle of a battlefield. The only way to really describe the sensation of being up and out there, is like you are suddenly caught in the middle of a war-zone. The mission was always methodical but madness always had the potential to rear its ugly head.
    I was designated a blue shirt at the time, as was Santiago, which meant that we were glorified tire-chasers, following planes all around the football-field sized Flight Deck, pulling or throwing chalks and removing or tightening tie-down chains that held the war planes secured to the ship. It was dangerous work but ultimately a monkey’s. It was the kind of job you just have to suck up and deal with when you have been in the Navy less than a year. Santiago had been onboard a few months longer than I had, which meant he was trusted to be alone on the flight deck and train others, while I was still in the process of being trained. Santiago was given the task to train or “shadow” me.
    “I’m exhausted, man,” I yelled into his helmet covered ear two seconds before another plane landed about ten feet away from where we stood.
    “Just hang in there. We are almost at final recovery.”
    “This just seems to never end.”
    “We’re almost there. We just got about an hour more.”
    Another F18 Hornet landed, caught the landing wire, and headed towards the center of the flight deck, where Santiago and I were hooking up another Hornet to a tractor to park it on an elevator back aft. I untied the chains, threw them on the tractor, and pulled the chalk from the port side of the plane while Santiago watched over me, and another crew did the same on the starboard side. The yellow shirt plane director gave the directions to the tractor driver to start driving, and I followed the plane along with a whistle in my mouth and the ten pound tire chalk in my hands, while Santiago observed me from under the wing and made sure I did everything correctly.
    I constantly wonder how I wound up here. I figure I was in uniform because the economy sucked, I was sick and tired of undergraduate philosophies, dead-end jobs, my parents, my generation, phony intellectualism, my own lofty ideals constantly marred by apathy and poverty, and the day to day struggle that came with couch surfing through the meaningless void of my existence. Bush was re-elected, the war on terror(whatever a war on an emotion meant) was still raging. Television, music, movies, and modern culture was all so much trash and garbage. Everything great had already been said, done, written, produced or recorded. Old rich white morons controlled everything. All my heroes were ghosts. I had been through one too many bitter love affairs. And who would have thought that drugs really were as bad for you as people always said they were?
    I was twenty-one and felt tired enough to die, but instead of a literal death, I decided why not just sign everything away for four years after all, “this was not just a job- it was an adventure,” and if I got anything out of it, that would at least be one plus above all the negatives I had accumulated from this life. Maybe I was just bored but not bored enough to learn to value my lethargy after what was to become.
    We had probably taken the plane about twenty feet when another that had just landed turned and burned Santiago and me with the searing heat of its exhaust. I turned my head away just in time to see Santiago duck further under the wing. He screamed. His left leg was wedged underneath the plane’s tire. I dropped my chalk and began blowing my whistle. It was a knee jerk reaction and something that I had only learned how to do a few days prior when things went drastically wrong. Within seconds a small crowd began forming around us, as the ship’s intercom blared the horrifying, “Medical emergency! Medical emergency! Medical emergency on the flight deck!”
    Santiago had passed out cold with the plane still on top of him. His leg had been flattened to the width of a piece of notebook paper just above the knee.
    A crew of corpsman quickly arrived with a stretcher in tow. They gave the direction to move the plane forward and off of Santiago. His leg expanded like a camouflage colored balloon. They pulled him onto the stretcher, tied him down, and then took him down the ship’s escalator below to medical.
    Within a few minutes, the last two planes landed, and the order was given for the division to muster in the blue hole, which was our break room. I crawled through the tiny hatch from off the flight deck, and saw that our division’s Leading Petty Officer, ABH1 Thomas, a gigantic and imposing ex-football player from Detroit, had everyone at attention even as they were sitting down on the four benches that cornered the cramped over-occupied shelter.
    “As some of you know, Airman Santiago just lost his leg tonight. You’ve all heard a million times how the Flight Deck is dangerous and here you go, one of your brothers is crippled for life. Now I know you all are some bad-asses, so I am going to ask you now at the request of the higher ups. Who here does not want to work on the flight deck anymore?”
    Everyone, including me, raised their hands.
    “Flight Ops is suspended for twenty-four hours so think about what the fuck just happened up there and know that it is your responsibility that this shit don’t happen no more.”
    He headed back up top-side, and we all sat around and stared at each other in silence.
    “Santiago was just telling me about a new pair of Nikes he was gonna buy in Hong Kong,” a Third Class Petty Officer from Chicago mentioned into the bitter silence. “He’s definitely not gonna be needing ‘em now.”
    Over the next week, Flight Ops continued on schedule, Santiago was lifted off the ship to a hospital on shore, and I was interviewed and forced to write statements for at least five different officers. I had constant nightmares, and it didn’t help that I always had to talk about and reflect upon the incident. I was also extremely nervous every time I had to go up and work on deck, especially at night. I did receive a new trainer, Airmen Shelley, who continued to teach me the ropes. Through it all I talked to Shelley, who told me stories about his Ex-Special Forces Vietnam Vet father who hallucinated violently and had nightmares all the time. How his mentally retarded brother that was a probable victim of his father’s exposure to Agent Orange died while Shelley was out at sea and he still wasn’t granted leave to go to the funeral because he was in the Gulf. How Shelley himself swore he saw such things as the ghosts of everyone that had died onboard the ship and felt the rumination reflected within the keel of the boat that dramatized it’s four decades worth of thousands of sailor’s constant depressions, sudden untimely deaths, and despair.
    He also professed to practice palmistry. He read my palm and claimed I was ideally suited for the naval profession and would have three children and live to be around eighty-three years old. I was amazed I managed to live as long I had and definitely didn’t feel suited for this kind of work. The only news that held my psyche together was the word was that we were pulling into Hong Kong.
    Island fragments appeared asides the ship’s mammoth wake as it became evident we were now approaching Queen Victoria’s Harbor, which emptied sullenly through a salted cloudy haze into the very lips of Hong Kong. It was 0759, and the ships whistle announced thirty second later, “Cleaning stations, Cleaning stations, the smoking lamp is out throughout the ship. Set sea and anchor detail. Set special navigation detail. The smoking lamp is out throughout the ship. Cleaning stations.” This was the signal for an hour of mindless labor which was the custom every single morning besides Sundays at 0800.
    Two hours later I was onboard a three-deck powerboat called a liberty boat run by a Chinese charter company, chain-smoking cigarettes and watching the huge city of Hong Kong dance with life and light as we made our approach to a pier that conveniently enough for both nations served liquor and any vice a man could desire.
    As soon as we hit the dock it was like the invasion of Normandy. Sailors who hadn’t seen themselves in civilian clothing for around four months were dancing onto dry land with the prospects of all the booze and broads waiting for the taking of all the pay-checks a man couldn’t spend out at sea. Cash to be spent in a cloud of liberty and liquor, which was all mapped out across this exotic city half of us have never been too and another half of us would never set foot upon again.
    Needless to say, Shelley and I indulged to our heart’s content and beyond the pale, and the three days we were there passed by in a drunken blur that made the time seem to fly by like mere seconds. Before we knew it, our liberty had expired.
    It was at our morning divisional muster the day we were leaving, standing at firm attention, that we heard the news. It made my hangover a hell of a lot worse. V1’s Chief, Divisional Officer, and Leading Petty Officer all came out from the divisional office while we all stood at attention in ranks on the Flight Deck. It was the DIVO, Lt Troy, a bespectacled twenty-something obviously straight out of college, who broke the news.
    “V1, at ease, last night they found the body of Airman Scott in an alley in Wan Chai. His throat was slit and his wallet was missing. As far as we know it was a robbery gone wrong, but his liberty buddy, Airman Garcia, is also missing. Does anyone have any information?”
    We all looked at each other and no one said anything. Scott was a popular member of the division, who had been onboard for about two years and was pretty much friendly with everyone, including me. I couldn’t imagine him being murdered and dumped in a filthy alley in a foreign country. Scott was just a nice average farm kid from Iowa. The fact that Garcia was missing and the ship was pulling away from the port was also frightening. We never would find out what happened to Garcia, although we all were aware that Scott’s body was being kept in the freezer down in the mess decks until he could be shipped home to his parents.
    Two days later we lost another man, and this time I actually had to view the body. We were all just waking up at 0600, when I head a yell for help from the cubicle behind mine. I headed over and saw the body lying in his bunk, totally lifeless and blue. I recognized him as Jones. We weren’t that tight, as he always had a reputation as a troublemaker and slacker, but it was all so disturbing to watch Shelley check his pulse and solemnly shake his head. Thomas immediately came over and ordered me to call medical. Seconds later, the announcement came over the intercom. “Medical emergency! Medical emergency! Medical emergency in 0-3-151, V1 Berthing!” Within five minutes a crew of corpsman arrived, while we all stood around the body, most of us still in our underwear. As they loaded Jones onto a stretcher, one of the corpsman found a cellophane bag that appeared to have contained a white powder, so it was no surprise when we found out a few days later that the cause of death was an overdose of pure china white heroin. He was celebrating his twenty-first birthday with a bag of smack, alone, in his bunk. He was now in the mess deck freezer keeping Scott company, and tried not to think about it whenever down there to eat whatever shit on a shingle they served that said “not fit for feeding inmates” stamped on the carton’s side. It is a fact that death row inmates get fed better food than the U.S military. Yet we die for their freedom to kill.
    A few days later, at three in the morning, when we were to be awakened at five, and on deck by six, I was blacked out in a quasi dream-less sleep after enduring a hundred and fifty consecutive launches and landings.
    So as a matter of course the whistle blew in some much needed chaos.
    “Man overboard, Man overboard Starboard side, All hands muster with their divisions, Man overboard, Man overboard!”
    Every curse word invented was invoked in less than a minute. We threw on our boots and enough clothes on to be deemed decent and sleepwalked up to the flight deck.
    The division’s roll was called off a list kept in Flight Deck Control and we wait for a final word. The Captain finally came on the 1MC about thirty minutes later.
    “It was reported that there was a green survival light glowing in the water. It appears that someone threw a glow stick overboard. An investigation will be conducted and perpetrators will be punished. Secured from man over board.”
    “Shit, I was hoping some motherfucka was dead or something,” a random face to the left of me stated.
    “Yeah dawg, if I got to get up at this hour someone betta be drownin or something. It’s all Night Check bro, those fools get to sleep all day and they still got to mess with us cuz we gots to be up at 6. I’m still hurtin from Hong Kong and I need my motherfuckin’ sleep!” A former high-school basketball champ from LA exclaimed.
    We filed back through the passageways like sheep surrendering to the slaughter, hit our racks, and waited for the much anticipated five a.m. wake-up call.
    I couldn’t sleep so I ate breakfast when the mess decks opened at four and chain-smoked and drank pitch black Folger’s coffee until I had to go up to the flight deck a few minutes before six.
    About a week later there was another casualty, although this time it was not a member of our division. Flight Ops was in full gear and I was concentrating on my mundane yet necessary task of following airplanes and chalking and tying them down. I had just tied down a helicopter when the intercom blared, “Man overboard, man overboard, starboard side.” The air surrounding the ship was so foggy I could barely see the sea, and I searched around me for some tidbit of conversation to inform me what the hell was going on.
    Sure enough, I heard ABH1 Thomas, wearing his yellow V1 LPO jersey telling our divisional officer, “This squadron guy, I think from 172, the Prowler squadron, just took the CO2 bottle out of his float coat, threw it to his First Class, saluted him, and with all his chains still wrapped around his arms, jumped off the rail back aft. You can still see his foot-prints on the railing.”
    I spaced out for a few seconds, but then Shelley said, “This is either the best or worst possible day to go over-board depending how much you really want to drown and never be found again.” He gestured at the fog-engulfed sea with his left hand. I just wanted a cigarette break. Helicopters whirled around for a day and a half but they never found his body.
    About a day later, I almost lost my life. We were caught in the catcher’s mitt of a particularly dramatic typhoon. Our massive ship rocked and rolled like it was in the hands of a child playing in a bathtub. All the smoking areas were closed since it was quite easy for us to be sucked out to sea, but after two days of chewing tobacco and massive amounts of coffee, I had to do something. One of my Leading Petty Officers, a mild-natured forty-something black North Carolinian named Holt, was as much an avid smoker as I was, and asked me to come along with him. We crouched in the cat-walk right near the bow of the ship and lit up, disregarding the water splashing all around us. We rocked back and forth with the ship, while I quickly and greedily sucked down a Camel and him a Newport. It takes the average smoker about six minutes to finish a cigarette, but we got our nicotine fix in probably less then one. It was illegal and clandestine, so we quickly discarded our butts over the side into the angry water and made our way back inside through a tiny hatch. About five minutes later, the ship hit a wave that could have only came out of a move, such as the Perfect Storm or The Poseidon Adventure.
    He looked at me as said, “Damn, God was looking out for us.”
    In disbelief and as a true atheist, I just responded, “No man, we were just lucky.”
    I thought that enough was enough, and bad luck was bad luck, but everything climaxed three days before we were to pull into our home port of Yokosuka, Japan. We were all exhausted and ready to head back to our adopted home after six grueling months at sea. It was around 2230, and I was parking a plane up at the bow of the ship when I heard a metallic shriek accompany the landing of an F18, immediately followed by an enormous splash. I tied down the bird and ran to the middle of the deck to see what the commotion was about. One of the landing wires had snapped and the jet had crashed into the water. What was far worse was the sight of about six bodies all scattered around the deck, at least three of whom where motionless. One corpse lay with his head about five feet away from where he fell. It took me a few horrid moments before I recognized from the Fly 2 blue shirt jersey and its distinct dimensions that it was Shelley.
    The familiar medical emergency and man overboard announcements sounded, and a helicopter was launched to recover the pilots who had successfully ditched their bird in the drink. Crews of corpsman collected limbs and placed bodies on stretchers. It was a nightmare that I just couldn’t awake from. The non-skid surface of the deck was covered in large blotches of blood. I would later have to scrub it up. I watched one corpsman pick up Shelley’s head and remove his helmet, while another placed his body on a stretcher, before I vomited over the side of Aircraft Elevator 2.
    This was my first full cruise at sea and a totally horrendous introduction to the hellish reality of war, although there was no visible enemy to fight aside from foul fate and bad luck. I later had four more cruises and only one where nobody died.
    It seemed as if we were all cursed from the very second we hit the open sea, and any form of morale seemed to completely separate from our very souls- just like Shelley’s head and Santiago’s leg, or maybe just yours- which I might just be pulling right now.

Mike Brennan Bio

    Mike Brennan was born in San Diego, lived in London for seven years, and then spent most of his formative years in Los Angeles. He was honorably discharged from the U.S Navy in 2009 (which forms the basis of some of his short stories and a novel he is desperately trying to complete), and is currently a Freshman Composition and Narrative and Descriptive writing instructor at Northern Michigan University while completing his MA. After that who knows what the future may hold during these bleak times.

me and myself

Alain Marciano


    He said, Paul phoned me yesterday.
    I said, Really.
    He said, Really, the phone is over there, on the table. I asked the nurse to help me with the phone.
    I said, I know where the phone is. Paul is dead.
    He said, Dead? How come he phoned me this morning?
    I said, I don’t know. Perhaps it was not him. Perhaps no one phoned you.
    He said, Really, how come you know that.
    I said, Paul died three years ago.

    I didn’t know when Paul died. I didn’t know if he died. Or which one died. One of the Pauls living on earth probably died three years ago. There are so many of them. God bless his and the others’ soul. I didn’t even know whether or not my father ever met a Paul. All I knew was that I had not seen my father since 19XX, when mom and him had just split and I had rushed away from him and his curses and his blows, letting him shout after me, yelling that I was not his son, that I was a moron, a dope fiend and I would end up like the morons, the dope fiends I was hanging with. All I knew was that, today, 25 years later, I had rushed back after a Doctor Jenkins had called to tell me that my father was dying from stage 4 stomach cancer at the Herington Municipal Hospital, Herington, Kansas and that they had not been able to identify any other relatives and if I could come, there was a small chance I would see him alive. All I knew was that, yeah, okay, I had told myself, why not, it is time to settle our lives, eventually, to tell the old bastard one last truth before he left us. And here I was, at 7.30 pm, after a nonstop drive from New York City, after miles and trucks and large regular-coffees-with-no-milk and doughnuts and pseudo-food from Taco Bells and KFC and Wendy’s, after 25 hours spent in a fucking car. Here I was, seated in a vinyl-covered uncomfortable armchair, small-talked by my dying father about a Paul I didn’t give a shit about. The same story again. Old bastard. “I’d better check with the nurses if someone came or phoned”, I said under my breath.

    The small glass-walled nurses’ office was down the hall, next to the vending machine, next to the waiting room, next to the elevator and next to the emergency stairs. Three nurses were in the office. One guy was sitting on the desk, his back to the hall. He was talking to two fat college-looking girls who were slumped in plastic chairs, exhausted after a day’s work or bored or despaired or indifferent. It was not their pain and suffering they were supposed to look after. They did not seem interested either in whatever it was the male nurse was telling them. I bought two diet Pepsis and rapped on the glass-door of the office which was opened anyway. The male nurse stopped talking.
    “Hey there, how are things going?” I said cheerfully.
    The girls did not react.
    “Sir, good evening, how can we help you?”, asked the guy with a soft voice, almost a whisper, dark and charming. I explained that I arrived a few minutes ago from New York after a long drive, that it has been exhausting you know, really boring I added with a smile.
    The girls were still without reaction. Fucking illiterate pigs. They probably have never been to New-York.
    The guy flashed a friendly and beautiful smile that lightened his pale-blue almost transparent eyes. I could tell that he was dedicated. Empathetic was the word I would have willingly used to describe him, even though it was the first time I met him. I liked that. I liked also the full red lips and a dark, tanned skin and his angel face was framed by brown curly hair. Nice and sexy. His nametag read ANTHONY. Nice name. He reminded me of Andrew, the first boy who kissed me.
    Anthony asked again if I needed some help for anything. I looked at the girls and back at him.
    I said, “Thanks, certainly later”. I smiled back. I left. In the elevator, I realized that I had not asked about the people who have visited my father. Or phoned him. I already knew the answer. My father did not know any Paul. One of his tricks. An easy one. He could do better than that. But I might ask later.


    Next day, after a good night’s sleep and a long hot shower, like I always used to take, I gave a call to my boss’ secretary. I didn’t like her and it’s reciprocal and we both know that. It makes our relationships easier, helps smoothing out rough edges. I said that I would be away for a few more days. She sighed. Meetings were planned for the rest of the week. I will miss them and I had never missed a meeting. She said that she hoped that there was nothing wrong. “No”, I said. “Not really. My father is not well. Not as well as I expected” but I did not give any details about him dying and about me wanting to stay to tell him something important. Private matters. It was none of her business, of course. But she said she was sorry, although there was no need for her to feel this way. It was not her father. Maybe she was simply being polite, typical from a middle-class woman. Or maybe she cared for her job and her workload and my absence meant more unpleasant work for her to do. She had to tell our boss that I would miss the meetings. It will piss him off and will shout at her with no reason. I didn’t care. Maybe she did and she was sorry.
    “When will you come back?” she asked.
    How would I know? I’m no doctor. I am just a salesman. I didn’t answer. I said, “Now I have to go to the hospital.”
    Again, she said that she was sorry. I hung up on her and left the room. In the lobby, I asked the concierge how to go to the Municipal Hospital by foot. On my way I stopped at a coffee shop and bought a large regular-coffee-with-no-milk and a cream-cheese-bagel. These have always been my favorites. The guy behind the counter was black and I wondered if there were many black people around here. I smiled at him. He had wonderful arms, strong and muscled. Beautiful. There was a bluish scar on his left cheek, a soft spot under his eye. Cute. I asked for a refill of coffee and a second bagel, “with cream cheese, please” I smiled.

    It was 10.30 when I knocked on the glass door of the nurses’ office on the second floor of the Herington Municipal Hospital’s cancer ward. They were three again, two men and a woman. They looked as stupid as the two girls I saw the day before. “Good morning sir, how are you today, what can we do for you?”. I said I wanted to see Anthony. “You a friend of his?” asked one of the men. “No, no, not a friend. My father is over there, room 216. Mister Persky. I just arrived yesterday from New York to see him”. “Anthony does the night shift, starts at 8:00 tonight” he said and after a silence he added, “I’ll show you the way to room 216”. I replied that it’s not necessary, that I was there yesterday and I would easily find my way back to my father’s room. It would not be a problem. “OK, I thought that”. He stopped and added, “This way”. I knew the way.

    When I got into the room, my father was sleeping. I took a newspaper, sat on the same vinyl-covered uncomfortable armchair I was seated in the day before. There was no TV in the room. I took the newspaper I had bought with me. A local waste-of-paper in which not even the sport section was readable. I started to feel bad. Nauseated by the hospital odors. From too much bad coffee. Car-lagged—I am sensible to time difference, even between ET and CT. I eventually fall asleep and slept the whole day away. At 6 p.m. I decided to leave. I did not want to walk back to the hotel after dusk. My father hadn’t said a word, hadn’t even open an eye. They probably stuffed him with sedatives—sleeping pills of some sort. He must not suffer. And not hear me. I was frustrated. I was finally not allowed to defend myself.

    At the nurse’s office, I asked the girl if Anthony was there or if she knew when he would be there. “Tonight, yes, tonight”, she said. “Night shift until the end of the week. It starts at 8 p.m.”. We were a Tuesday. My father was supposed to die before the end of the week. This is what Doctor Jenkins had told me on the phone.


    Wednesday. A hot shower and a breakfast. A Large-regular-coffee-with-no-milk, a cream-cheese-bagel, the black waiter and his strong muscular arms and the tiny blue scar under his left eye. The hospital, the vinyl-covered armchair and the newspaper. And hours spent dozing with my dying sleeping father. Antony was still doing the night-shift and what could I say to my father?

    Later that day. Doctor Jenkins was in the room. He shook me awake and asked if everything was okay and if I had any questions. I thought about it but I didn’t have any. He stood there, in the room, looking vaguely at my father, then at me, saying nothing. He left. He had nothing to say either. After a while, I left too. I needed to move. Move. Move. Shake my life. It was the middle of the afternoon but I went to a cafeteria downtown and ordered something to eat. A cheeseburger that I drank away with two beers while watching sports on the huge flat-panel LED TV set. It was exactly the sort of TV I wanted to buy. Nice. Cool. The kind of stuff that gives you the impression that life is easy. The TV was tuned on ESPN-U. I watched four back-to-back broadcast of the same SportsCenter. I had more beers, after which I dragged my car back to the hospital.

    The cancer ward, second floor, the nurses’ office. Anthony was there, alone. “Hi man” I said. It was nice seeing him again. “Good evening sir”, he said. “I was looking for you”, I replied and asked “Could I stay a moment with my father tonight?”. He said that what was happening to my father was so sad and that he was so sorry and so depressed to see people in this situation and people like me, suffering. How kind of him. I could tell that he was really caring, feeling something true for my father and for me. That was good. I liked that. I asked, “Could you show me the way, please?”. Yes, of course he could. We walked along the hall and then we were in my father’s room. Bip-bip-bip-bip, there was an electronic noise and green lights in the room. We stayed a few minutes without moving.

    I felt him close to me. I felt his warmth. I had not anticipated that it would happen and that I would find that so exciting. His smell, too was unbelievable. I had a hard-on like I had not had for weeks, months maybe. I raised my left arm and stopped. I left in a hurry, running in the corridor. I heard Antony saying something behind me. It sounded like “I understand” or was it “Don’t leave”.

    In the bar, there was a NCAA football game. Bowling Green vs. Buffalo. I drank. I was drunk after a while.


    Thursday could just have been another day. Except that it was not. It started with a dizzy dream. Antony was dead. It left me uncertain and nervous. I was in the hospital. All the lights had been turned off. I groped my way to my father’s room and to his bed. A sheet was covering his face. I removed it and it was not him. In the bed, obviously dead, was lying the nurse. Anthony. I woke up shivering, covered with sweat and with a painful hard-on. It was 5.47 am. I left the room and drove to the hospital. I parked on the other side of the street in front of the main entrance. The parking lot was almost empty. It was now 6.14 am. At 6.14 am in this part of the world no one is outside wandering in the streets. A dark, gloomy and quiet place to die. Or to live. At that time, I was looking for life. I waited for Antony. The night shift would probably end soon. And then ... then, when he finally left the hospital — it was 6.49 am — I engaged my car in the street after him. I followed him. It was exciting. I was a teenager again, when I drove in empty streets looking for lovers and when I returned home in the mornings and my father had a used leather belt with which he beat me just because I was home late. He did not even know what I was doing. My father ... I u-turned in the middle of the road back to the hospital where I found my father awake. The eyes opened, at least. Eventually. Time to speak to each other, man to man.

    He said “Yesterday your brother came.”
    I said, “My brother came. Yesterday.”
    He said, “Yes, your brother, Paul.”
    I said, “I don’t have a brother”.
    He said “Paul is your brother and he brought me a cake his wife had cooked for me and showed me a picture of my grandkids”.
    I said, “I don’t have a brother, you’re being ridiculous”.
    He said “Of course you have a brother but you are not married and don’t have children, uh?”
    I said, “Anyway, he is dead”.

    A brother? I could have a stepbrother, true enough. After all, who was this man lying in this bed in front of me? My father? Yes, my father and he had a life without me and I had a life without him. I had spent all my life without a father. Without a mother or without a family. But if I had a brother and if the old fart was not lying why could the doctors not have found him and why did they call me? And why didn’t I see him when I was there — because I was there. Why were there no pictures of the grand-kids and any cake left? The same story again. False Pauls to trick me. Again. There was no Paul. No brother. No more father. What could I tell him that would be important for both of us? Nothing, actually. I made a decision. I did not care any longer. It was time to head back home. The day after, I would be leaving. Before that, I would spend the night here, at the hospital. I would wait for Anthony.

    I went to the hotel, checked out. The girl at the front desk said they would charge the night because it was a late departure and I had not warned them. I said that I could not have warned them. My father had passed away suddenly in the afternoon and he hadn’t warned anybody. I was leaving right away. She said, “I am so sorry sir, really sorry. All my condolences”. She was tall and skinny, so skinny that she could probably not really feel anything for other living beings. “Why do you say that, it was not your father” I replied. I folded the bill and put it my trousers’ pocket. I left. I put the suitcase in the trunk and drove to the hospital.

    I asked Antony if he could come along to my father’s room. What had happened the day before had given me the creeps. I don’t know if I want it to happen again or not, I said. Of course he said and he accepted. He was the kind of man to accept this kind of request. MY request. And again we were in the room. The smell was stronger than the day before but I could feel Antony’s presence next to me. Cooler than the day before. Different. But he was the same man. I turned towards him, put my left arm around his waist and raised my my right arm towards his face. “What the hell” he cried and pushed me away. “Come on, please, come on” I said and I tried to touch him again. This time he pushed me violently. I swayed backwards against the bathrooms’ door that was unlocked and it opened under my weight and I fell on the floor. I saw him opening the door of the room. A ray of light came from the hall and enlightened the room. Anthony slammed back the door. I was alone in the dark, seated on the floor of the bathroom and I still had a hard-on. I unzipped my fly and began to masturbate myself. It was short but really good. I stood up, washed the sperm off my hands and left. It was 9:05 at my watch. I was in the elevator when I realized that I had not given a look at my father. What for? He was sleeping. Again. It wouldn’t have changed anything. I could call on my way back home.


    In the middle of the night, I stopped to put some gas in my car. I ate a cheeseburger and drank a cold diet Pepsi. The vague smell of the antibacterial soap on my hands reminded me of the hospital. I gave a call from a public phone on a highway service area. The nurse on duty told me that my father had died the day before at about 9:00 in the evening.

Exerpts from the Diary of a Useless Man

    Tom Ball

    I observed that, “Here people were ordinary and they were easily satisfied on the one hand but on the other hand they always competed with each other for more money... Money was their God...”
    I figured it was a “Kiss ass world.”
    I told them, “They only survived due to strong stimulants... which kept them interested in their boring life.”
    And I told them, “Many still believed in a higher power so they conveniently didn’t have to worry.”
    But I also told them, “This idea of God was probably one man’s invention. Similarly religious men (shamans) existed in pretty much all cultures. And it was one guy’s idea to start farming and another man thought of domesticating animals. And so on.”
    They said, “Everything nowadays had to be done in a group.”

    And they told me, “I was not a scientific genius anyway.”
    But I told them although I wasn’t a scientific genius, I had ideas about how to use what technology we had. I specifically wanted a loving world using the banned MRT (mind reading technology)... Everyone could live as a happy group and all our problems would be solved. Make uses for one another.”
    But my true love said, “Above all you need to be useful to yourself.”
    I said, “I didn’t want to pander and suck up to anyone.”
    And I said, “If you don’t have a lot of cash you can’t do art or business.”

    But there were many people who were “against any kind of further progress.” And many others said, “All out progress was in order.” There were few balanced viewpoints.
    In any case I told them, “It seemed that recently there was a “dumbing down” of civilization. We were all mindless consumers coveting more luxuries. But the government made up statistics showing the economy was growing fast and all was well. But it seemed to me the entire economy was in the entertainment industry.”
    And I said, “I couldn’t see what the point of more luxuries was anyway.”
    But my true love said, “We are all becoming unprecedently wise due to eternal youth.
    I said, “If you are not wise by the time you are twenty, you would never be wise.
    She didn’t agree.
    I said, “I don’t know how people of the past managed without drugs and entertainment. Had to make their own fun.”
    She said, “You’ve got to fake it and pretend you are having a good time and maybe good things will happen.”

    I said, “Surely we should all live in a world in which we all have use. Have small business create jobs (now there were just 5 big companies and they all planned to merge)...
    But everyone told me, “They just wanted a comfortable position and said with eternal youth that we had no need to rush into anything.”
    “People weren’t designed to be “useful”’ they told me.
    I said, “People do the same things again and again for no reason.”


    One man I met told me, “That everyone had improved their knowledge and EQ and imagination and I was being left behind...”
    But he said, “The authorities worried about the high suicide rate of 5% per year despite eternal youth.”

    I told him, “For me it was a world of contradictions. Every idea had it’s opposite and in between. Some called us the “everything people.” But we lived simply and some said “purely.” It seemed like people didn’t care so much about money as before, but instead cared about sex...”

    He said, “There was no doubt it was a sex world now. People now lived in towers—giant phalluses which were called “temples.” When I had been young it was a normal world. But now people worshipped the Sex God with orgies and sex drugs.”

    And he said, “Most worlds were sex worlds now.”

    And he said, “Another new thing here was everywhere there were floating balls believed to be representatives of God. The balls pursued some people who were clever but not fools.”
    And he said, “Having fun was banned and that the religion balls would read your mind and destroy you if you tried to have fun.” “Others said they were part of a computer network,” said he.

    As I toured the city it seemed there was no freedom. And people had fallen for sex as a substitute for a real life.

    And some complained that women were too thin. “Stick women,” they called them.

    And some said there were too many “Jekyll and Hyde” types of people.

    Some said “Everyone was rich and spoiled.”

    But most people I talked to said, “It was a struggle to survive.”

    But most told me they “found solace in the varying drugs that were available. There were drugs for every mood.”

    The “best people” were 1 person bands playing new music on guitar (acoustic).

    And some had clever lyrics.

    Some said we were all “idiot savants” with talent for music but little else.
    They said “Everyone is in one computer brain.”

    Many people told me, “They feared devastating death rays against those the government didn’t like.”
    “And so many “behaved” for this reason,” they told me.

    I was a superfluous man and told people, “I figured I should have been a ‘scientist.’” For us science was relegated to brilliant music only.

    I told people I felt my mind was so open I was ready for anything, but science was frowned upon.

    And I prognosticated that, “In the future everyone will be insane.”

    Just like here most art was in the form of horror stories all music and art was horror, some was sci-fi.
    Some said it was all bizarre exotica...

    Some made love on the street... They had no class... They thought they were wild...

    Finally I killed myself out of sheer boredom...No doubt the government was happy to see the last of me.“They just wanted a comfortable position and said with eternal youth that we had no need to rush into anything.”
    “People weren’t designed to be “useful”’ they told me.
    I said, “People do the same things again and again for no reason.”


    One man I met told me, “That everyone had improved their knowledge and EQ and imagination and I was being left behind...”
    But he said, “The authorities worried about the high suicide rate of 5% per year despite eternal youth.”

    I told him, “For me it was a world of contradictions. Every idea had it’s opposite and in between. Some called us the “everything people.” But we lived simply and some said “purely.” It seemed like people didn’t care so much about money as before, but instead cared about sex...”

    He said, “There was no doubt it was a sex world now. People now lived in towers–giant phalluses which were called “temples.” When I had been young it was a normal world. But now people worshipped the Sex God with orgies and sex drugs.”

    And he said, “Most worlds were sex worlds now.”

    And he said, “Another new thing here was everywhere there were floating balls believed to be representatives of God. The balls pursued some people who were clever but not fools.”
    And he said, “Having fun was banned and that the religion balls would read your mind and destroy you if you tried to have fun.” “Others said they were part of a computer network,” said he.

    As I toured the city it seemed there was no freedom. And people had fallen for sex as a substitute for a real life.

    And some complained that women were too thin. “Stick women,” they called them.

    And some said there were too many “Jekyll and Hyde” types of people.

    Some said “Everyone was rich and spoiled.”

    But most people I talked to said, “It was a struggle to survive.”

    But most told me they “found solace in the varying drugs that were available. There were drugs for every mood.”

    The “best people” were 1 person bands playing new music on guitar (acoustic).

    And some had clever lyrics.

    Some said we were all “idiot savants” with talent for music but little else.
    They said “Everyone is in one computer brain.”

    Many people told me, “They feared devastating death rays against those the government didn’t like.”
    “And so many “behaved” for this reason,” they told me.

    I was a superfluous man and told people, “I figured I should have been a ‘scientist.’” For us science was relegated to brilliant music only.

    I told people I felt my mind was so open I was ready for anything, but science was frowned upon.

    And I prognosticated that, “In the future everyone will be insane.”

    Just like here most art was in the form of horror stories all music and art was horror, some was sci-fi.
    Some said it was all bizarre exotica...

    Some made love on the street... They had no class... They thought they were wild...

    Finally I killed myself out of sheer boredom...No doubt the government was happy to see the last of me.

Sing to the Moon, at by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Sing to the Moon, at by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Every Boy’s Hero

Clniton Van Inman

They kept it a major secret like buried
Cuban missiles or the true value of gold,
Never told us that you were just like us.

Even when they paraded you in pinstripes
Or gave you some lucky number
Or put your portrait on a box of bran flakes,

You were every boy’s hero
We didn’t care about the smoking, the
Drinking, or your father’s image

Or your illness that ran in the family,
Or cared how you neglected your children and wife
Or knew why your ran so well,

Because you were a legend, our hero
And idols make perfect statues
Like yours they placed in center field.

Clinton Van Inman Bio

    Clinton Van Inman is a high school teacher in Hillsborough County, Florida. He graduated from San Diego State University and was born in Walton on Thames, England. His recent publications include: Warwick Unbound, Tower Journal, The Poetry Magazine, Down in the Dirt (May, June, July), The Inquisition, The Journal, the New Writer, The Hudson Review, Essence, Forge, Houston Literary Review, Greensilk Journal, BlackCatPoems, and Out of Four, to name a few. Hopefully one day these poems will eventually be published in a book called, “One Last Beat” as he is one the of the last few Beats standing.

A Crushed Match

Kristopher Miller

    Nick receives a message on, from a woman he’d been admiring ever since he logged on. He and the woman arrange a meeting by Neko’s, a popular Japanese restaurant. Nick buys some roses. He sees the pretty woman crossing the street to meet him.
    Then the woman gets splattered apart by a truck.
    Nick laid down the roses he bought on her grave.

Seeing Things Differently

Janet Kuypers

    I was sitting at Sbarro’s Pizza in the mall taking a break from shopping and eating a slice of deep-dish cheese pizza when I caught parts of a conversation happening two tables next to me. It was two-thirty in the afternoon, so it was kind of empty in the eatery.

    “So what’s it like to be back?”
    “What do you mean?”
    “You know, to be free again - I mean, to be back to the places you haven’t seen for so long?”
    “Well, of course I missed it. It’s strange being back, actually.”
    “How so?”
    “Well, everything looks different now.”
    “Well, it has been nearly six years, a lot happens, even to a suburb. There’s been a lot of construction around here, and -”
    “I don’t mean it looks different because it changed. I mean it looks different because I have.”
    “How have you changed?”
    “You mean how did being in prison for half a decade affect me?”
    “Well, what do you mean you see things differently? Like colors look wrong? I don’t get it.”
    “No, it’s not like my vision is different, at least not literally. It’s just that people seem different to me now. The places all look the same, one street looks the same as the next, it looks the same as it did five years ago. But I see things about people now, things I never noticed before.”
    “Like what?”
    “I don’t know, exactly. But I read people. It’s like I know what they’re thinking without having to talk to them, or even know them.”

    Then they both paused. I guess their timed pattern of one person eating while the other one talked finally got messed up and they were both eating at the same time. Oh, did I mention that they were both women? One had a baby in a stroller sleeping next to her, that one was the one that didn’t go to prison. They both looked like they were about twenty-eight years old. Regular suburban women.

    “You see, it’s like this: when I was in prison, I was all alone. Being in a federal prison means the crimes are big time, so everyone in there had a big chip on their shoulder and wanted to either have you for their girlfriend or beat the shit out of you when you were on laundry duty. And of course everyone knew that I was the cop killer, and everyone also knew that I swore up and down that I didn’t do it. So when I went in there they all thought I was some big sissy, and I knew right away that I was going to be in big trouble if I didn’t do something fast.”
    “So what’d you do?”
    “Well, I figured they knew that I wasn’t a tough bitch or anything, so the only persona I could put on that would make people scared of me would be to act like perfectly calm ninety percent of the time, calm, but tense, like I was about to snap. And periodically I would have a fit, or threaten violence in front of guards, timed perfectly so that I would never actually have to do anything, but enough to make everyone else think that I was a little off the deep end, a bit crazy. Then they’d give me space.”
    “So... did that work?”
    “Yeah, for the most part. But the first thing I had to learn was how to make my face unreadable.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Well, you can see someone walk by and know they’re bored, or sad or angry, or happy, right?”
    “Well, sometimes...”
    “Well, I had to make sure that when people looked at me all they saw was a complete lack of emotion. Absolute nothingness. I needed people to look at me and wonder what the hell was going through my head. Then all I’d have to do is squint my eyes just a little bit and everyone would see so much anger in my face, you know, because usually there was nothing in my face to give me away.”
    “And when you got angry -”
    “- And when I got angry and threw a fit and smashed chairs and screamed at the top of my lungs and contorted my face all over the place; I just looked that much more crazed and in a rage. Like out of control.”
    “Wow. That’s wild.”
    “And I became completely solitary. I talked to two other people the whole time I was there, at least in friendship.”
    “Wow, two people?”
    “Well, in a screaming fit, or in a fight, then I’d be yelling at people, but yeah, I had to limit the people I talked to. Couldn’t let others see what I was like.”

    So I was sitting here eating my pizza listening to this, and then I remembered, oh yeah, I remember this story from a long time ago, they convicted this women of killing a cop, shooting him at point-blank range, and just in the local paper three weeks ago they found the person who really killed the cop, and they let the women they convicted of the crime five years ago free.
     It seems the cop pulled her over and had her license in his car when the murderer
    came up in another car, and this woman managed to get away, but the cop died and her license was there on the scene. So I get up and go to the fountain machine and refill my Diet RC Cola and come back to my seat and I just start thinking that that’s got to be rough, I mean, going to federal prison for over five years for a crime you didn’t commit and then having them come up years later and let you out early and say, “oh, we’re sorry, we had the wrong person all along.” It’s like, oh, silly us, we made a mistake, please do forgive us.
    But how do you get those years back, and how do you get rid of those memories?
    So I just spaced out on that thought for a minute and the next thing I knew they were talking again.

    “And I knew from the start this one woman didn’t like me, I could just tell from her face. We never spoke, she was like my unspoken enemy. And so once I was doing laundry work, and there are rows of machines and tables for folding and shoots for dirty clothes to fall onto the floor and pipes running all along the ceilings and steam coming out everywhere. And there were others there with us, and guards, too, but once I looked up and it was totally silent and no one else was around except for her. No other prisoners, no other guards, nothing. And she was just standing there, facing me square on, and she was swaying a bit, like she was getting ready to pounce. And I knew that she planned this, and got some of the other inmates to distract the guards, so that she could kill me.”
    “Oh my God, so what did you do?”
    “Well, I turned so my side was to her, and I grabbed a cigarette from my pocket and put it in my mouth. Than I said, ‘Look, I’m not interested in fighting you, so-’, and then I reached into my pocket, the one that was away from her, like to get a lighter, and then I took my two hands and clenched them together like this, and then I just swung around like I was swinging a ball-and-chain, and I just hit her real hard with my hands.”
    “Oh my God.”
    “Yeah, I was hoping that I could just get in one good blow then get out of there, like teach her not to fuck with me again.”
    “Oh my God, so what happened?”
    “Yeah, so here’s the punch line, so when I hit her she fell back and hit her head on a beam that ran from floor to ceiling, and just fell to the floor. So I go through a back hallway and find everyone in the next room and just sort of slip in there, but then I hear a guard asking about Terry, that was the woman I hit. and everyone looks around and they see me, and I have no expression on my face, so they don’t even know if Terry saw me or not, and so everyone starts to look for Terry and they find her dead, right where I left her.”
    “Oh my God, you killed her?”
    “Well, she hit her head on the beam, my blow didn’t kill her. But no one knew who did it to her, and of course no one bothered with an investigation, so there was no problem. But after that, no one ever bothered me again.”
    “Holy shit. You killed her. When did you know she was dead?”
    “When they found her, probably. Not when they saw what kind of shape she was in, but the instant they saw her I thought, ‘she hasn’t moved.’ And I knew then she was dead. It was kind of unsettling, but I couldn’t react.”
    “Kind of unsettling? I think I’d be screaming.”
    “But that’s the thing, all these women had killed before, at least most of them had. I’d be condemning myself if I reacted.”

    They sat in silence, the young mother staring at the other while she ate the last of her pizza.

    The murderer grabbed her soda and drank in between words.
    “Yeah, so prison - and everything after that, really - seemed different. I figured out how to remove all emotion from myself when I had to.”
    “...That’s wild.”
    “And once I figured that out, how to make my face unreadable, it was easy to be able to read what other inmates were thinking. I could read anyone’s face. Someone could twitch once and I’d know whether they were afraid of me or not. Any movement made it obvious to me what they thought of me, themselves, or their life. That’s why I look around here and just see what everyone else is feeling.”
    “Really? What do you see?”
    “I see some dopey men and some bitchy women.”
    “Shut up.”
    “No, it’s true - and they care about little details in their life, but they don’t give a damn about the big picture. They scream if someone cuts them off in traffic, they freak out if they have food stuck in their teeth after a meal. But they don’t care what they’re doing in their lives.”

    They got up and walked over to the trash can, dumped their paper plates and napkins into the trash.
    “I see a lot of people walking around with a blank stare, but it’s not an emotionless stare. It’s that they’re all resigned, it’s like they all assume that this is the way their life has to be.”
    “Oh, come on, it’s not that bad.”
    “Yeah, it is. It’s like they all were in prison too.”

    And they walked out into the mall, and I sat there, staring at my drink.

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 weekly 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 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, and the paperback book of the 2012 Datebook (which was also released as a spiral-bound cc&d ISSN# 2012 little spiral datebook . Three collection books were also published of her work in 2004, Oeuvre (poetry), Exaro Versus (prose) and L’arte (art).

what is veganism?

A vegan (VEE-gun) is someone who does not consume any animal products. While vegetarians avoid flesh foods, vegans don’t consume dairy or egg products, as well as animal products in clothing and other sources.

why veganism?

This cruelty-free lifestyle provides many benefits, to animals, the environment and to ourselves. The meat and dairy industry abuses billions of animals. Animal agriculture takes an enormous toll on the land. Consumtion of animal products has been linked to heart disease, colon and breast cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and a host of other conditions.

so what is vegan action?

We can succeed in shifting agriculture away from factory farming, saving millions, or even billions of chickens, cows, pigs, sheep turkeys and other animals from cruelty.

We can free up land to restore to wilderness, pollute less water and air, reduce topsoil reosion, and prevent desertification.

We can improve the health and happiness of millions by preventing numerous occurrences od breast and prostate cancer, osteoporosis, and heart attacks, among other major health problems.

A vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle may be the most important step a person can take towards creatin a more just and compassionate society. Contact us for membership information, t-shirt sales or donations.

vegan action

po box 4353, berkeley, ca 94707-0353


MIT Vegetarian Support Group (VSG)


* To show the MIT Food Service that there is a large community of vegetarians at MIT (and other health-conscious people) whom they are alienating with current menus, and to give positive suggestions for change.

* To exchange recipes and names of Boston area veg restaurants

* To provide a resource to people seeking communal vegetarian cooking

* To provide an option for vegetarian freshmen

We also have a discussion group for all issues related to vegetarianism, which currently has about 150 members, many of whom are outside the Boston area. The group is focusing more toward outreach and evolving from what it has been in years past. We welcome new members, as well as the opportunity to inform people about the benefits of vegetarianism, to our health, the environment, animal welfare, and a variety of other issues.

The Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology

The Solar Energy Research & Education Foundation (SEREF), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., established on Earth Day 1993 the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST) as its central project. CREST’s three principal projects are to provide:

* on-site training and education workshops on the sustainable development interconnections of energy, economics and environment;

* on-line distance learning/training resources on CREST’s SOLSTICE computer, available from 144 countries through email and the Internet;

* on-disc training and educational resources through the use of interactive multimedia applications on CD-ROM computer discs - showcasing current achievements and future opportunities in sustainable energy development.

The CREST staff also does “on the road” presentations, demonstrations, and workshops showcasing its activities and available resources.

For More Information Please Contact: Deborah Anderson or (202) 289-0061

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