Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grey Johnson's Your Pajamas on Issuu

Read this beautiful publication and make her famous. It's delicious. Be sure to click "Open publication" just above and read it on Issuu so Grey gets the view count. If you like her work, and I know you will, please leave a comment for her there on the site rather than here. That will encourage her to produce more of these gorgeous little numbers. --MDJB

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Guest Writer: Bill Floyd

Misplaced

He knows he’s in trouble for real when he opens the pantry door and sees the water pitcher sitting there on the middle shelf among the boxes of noodles and the soup cans and the flavoring packets. Definitely does not belong there. The pitcher is one of those filtration type dealies where you fill the reservoir in the upper chamber with tap water which then drains through a cylindrical filter (which is itself supposed to be changed every month or so although he and Evelyn both forget to do that sometimes; no big deal) so that you have a ready supply of purified water to pour in your glass. No telling what sort of crap the governmental corner-cutters are allowing into the tap water these days. You can’t be too careful, all kinds of items in the news about the long-term damage chemicals can cause as they accumulate in your fatty tissues. And he is thirsty a lot lately; something to do with his kidneys and the medications he’s on. The doctor had explained it all, but the terminology escaped him as soon as he’d left the office.

The pitcher belongs in the refrigerator. They’ve been keeping it in there as long as he can remember.

His first impulse, instinctive and defensive, is that Evelyn must’ve misplaced it. But she’s been out of town all week, staying with her sister over in Lexington; the old gal is having a rough go of it with the emphysema, her own fault for smoking all those years. It’s not like no one ever told them it was bad for your health. Suing cigarette companies, most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard—you inhale smoke on a daily basis for decades, and then you want to blame someone else when you can’t breathe? Hogwash. He’s never smoked or drunk to excess, at least not since he was a young man.

But that water pitcher is still in the pantry. Fridge is on the other side of the kitchen altogether. When he’d looked and the pitcher wasn’t in its accustomed position on the refrigerator’s middle shelf, initially there was a moment of confusion, a lost span where he stood there staring at the blank space, suspended, suddenly adrift. But no fear, not until he’d opened the pantry door (thinking vaguely of a snack, raisins or dried cranberries, perhaps) and there it sat, so very out of place. Then the deep well opened inside him because he had no recollection whatsoever, none, of placing the pitcher there, but it must have been his hand that had done the deed. No gremlins, no one else in the house since Evelyn left earlier in the week, Monday or Tuesday or maybe yesterday.

Panic is the right word. He chants the names of his children and grandchildren internally: Bruce, Faye, Laura, Tyler, Samantha… No, not Samantha. That’s wrong. Sabrina, his youngest grandchild’s name is Sabrina. She’s Faye’s second born and has her father’s slate gray eyes. Or are they blue? He should know this but does not. The pitcher has sweated and the pantry shelf is blotted around its base.

Mute now, transfixed. Losing the future and the past all at the exact same time.

© William Floyd 2010

Bill Floyd is a writer from North Carolina who is feeling his way around the on-line world of micro-fiction. He blogs occasionally at www.sixsentences.ning.com.

Guest Writer: Adam Byatt

Chocolate Biscuits

Sunday’s early afternoon sun tapped Josh on the shoulder. He stirred, stretched and thought about the night before. He scooped up his mobile from the bedside and scrawled through the text messages from the night before. Derek had sent a few late night incoherent ramblings that Josh laughed at.
He stopped at the one that read, “Thnx 4 talking last nite. C U at skool on Mon. Katie.” His heart skipped a beat. He remembered her black hair pulled back into a single roped plait that hung over her shoulder and the sapphire earrings that dangled when she laughed. They had spent most of the night at the edge of the party, caught up in each other’s company. Josh felt his stomach jump with excitement replaying the night before. When he had left with Derek, Katie had squeezed his hand.
Dragging his body off the bed, he headed downstairs for lunch. His younger sister Caitlin was diving into a peanut butter sandwich while his Dad read the paper.
“Good afternoon sunshine. How was last night?” his mother asked from the bench. “Would you like a sandwich?”
“Yes please. Cheese thanks. Last night was good. Had fun.”
“Didn’t hear you come in. Were you late?”
“Nah, I was home by curfew.”
Caitlin popped her thirteen year old nose into the conversation. “Mum, I know something you don’t know. Josh spent all night talking to a girl. Emma’s sister was at the party and told her all about it and Emma told me.”
“Oh, that’s nice dear. What’s her name?”
“No one in particular,” mumbled Josh.
“Mum, Katie Byrne isn’t just anybody,” chimed Caitlin.
“Shut up, Caitlin,” Josh hissed as his face reddened.
“She’s lovely,” his mum said.
His father kept reading but threw his son a wink over the paper.
Josh took his sandwich and excused himself, saying he had more homework to complete. He was having a hard enough time getting through his final year of studies without having his sister point out his fledgling love life to his parents.
Sitting at his desk, he spun backward and forwards, looking at Katie’s text again and his heart skipped a beat. He wanted to find another way to talk to her again on Monday. He had no idea how they fell to talking in the first place. The thought of approaching Katie made him nervous but he needed to speak with her again. Josh thought she was stunning and when he looked in the mirror he saw a face that had taken a beating with the Ugly Stick.
He needed a plan, something tangible to help him open the conversation. Like a drowning man, Josh felt out of his depth. Scooting through the myriad movie clichés in his mind, he narrowed it down to the gift of chocolate. A reconnaissance of the kitchen yielded the last two chocolate biscuits in the packet. He carefully wrapped them in plastic film and hid them in a paper bag, stashed at the back of the fridge.
His plan was formed. At recess, he would approach Katie and share his food with her. To engage with the object of his desire required courage, but he felt like Marty McFly’s dad. He didn’t want to come out sounding like an idiot.
“You are my density,” he mimicked.
The next morning Josh carefully retrieved the biscuits from the back of the fridge and put them into his bag. His phone bleeped an incoming message. Don’t forget your History homework. Derek. Josh shot back a reply and hurried to his room and flipped his papers around until he found his homework.
The buzz on the train to school the next morning was all about the party and Josh and Katie’s liaison had not gone unnoticed. Derek jumped right in, “So, you and Katie. What happened?”
Josh blushed. “Nothing happened. We just talked.”
“Are you going to talk to her again?”
“I want to, but… I have a plan and it’s silly.”
“What is it?”
“I’ve packed some chocolate biscuits so I’ve got something to open the conversation with at recess time. I mean, I have no idea how we got talking in the first place, so I need a way to talk to her.”
“Any plan is a good plan. Hope it works. Do you have classes with her today before then?”
Josh skimmed his timetable and was thankful Katie was not in his morning classes. In class he fidgeted, couldn’t focus, knowing the seemingly insurmountable task before him. By the time recess came, his stomach felt like a writhing pile of snakes.
He caught up with Derek at their recess spot. Across the courtyard he spotted Katie and her friends.
“You ready for this?” said Derek.
“Nup. Here goes nothing,” said Josh.
He rummaged through his school bag looking for his present. Nothing. Gone. Disappeared. Vanished. At the bottom he found the crumpled paper bag that had held his treasure. No matter how much he looked in the bag, it did not contain the two wrapped chocolate biscuits. The bag was empty except for a smudged slip of paper which said, “Thanks for the biscuits” scrawled in pink highlighter. Josh was dumbfounded but it gave way to fury when he saw the smiley face.
“What’s up?” Derek asked.
“Caitlin, that sneak of a sister, flogged my biscuits and left me a note just to rub it in.”
Josh felt deflated; his plan amounting to nothing but crumbs and an empty bag. He flopped down against the wall and felt gutted.
“Have you lost something?” Even dressed in the sack of a school uniform Katie was appealing.
“I was wondering if you would like to share a choc chip biscuit,” she said offering her hand forward.

© Adam Byatt 2010

Adam Byatt is an English teacher and a drummer with an interest in literary pursuits, rhythmic permutations, theological amplifications and comedic outbursts.  He inhabits the cracks around the following websites:
http://afullnessinbrevity.wordpress.com/
http://adampb.wordpress.com/
www.twitter.com/revhappiness

Guest Writer: Adam Byatt

The Sins of the Father

Andy stumbled across a discovery that excited and startled the ten-year-old and he had to show his best friend, Pete. The two paused briefly before the open office door. Looking back down the hallway they heard the strains of the afternoon football match and the sound of a can being opened in the lounge room. Andy led the way into his father’s office and pulled the door partially closed behind them. He sidled over to the built-in wardrobe and slid back the door. Thrusting his head into the semi-darkness he rummaged around while Pete kept watch on the door and listened for approaching footsteps.
“Here it is,” said Andy holding a magazine like a holy object. The front cover was emblazoned with by-lines that screamed of eye-popping full frontals, “the best you’ve ever seen” and other saucy secrets.
Andy skipped the writing and flipped to the first pictorial. The burlesque strip tease performed on the pages caused Pete to stare in wild-eyed wonder. Breasts fell out of lingerie and bottoms were concealed and revealed from all angles. Turning the pages, they had never considered that there could be so many variations on a theme in terms of size and shape, pubic hair landscaping and tattoos.
“Wouldn’t it really hurt to get a piercing there?” said Pete as he crossed his arms over his chest.
“Shhh… did you hear that?” said Andy. The boys froze like rabbits and waited. Each could feel their heart thumping a frantic ostinato. A cupboard door closed shut and the crinkle of fast food packaging joined the sound of the game. They returned to their investigation of masculine curiosity and perversity.
Pete couldn’t believe his eyes when Andy reached the centre of the magazine.
“That’s almost life-sized,” he said.
Spread out between them was the curvature of naked breasts and buttocks and a finely manicured lawn with the staple as a secondary bellybutton ornament.
They flipped backwards and forwards through the magazine stopping to read the articles that made them giggle with words like “throbbing” and “pulsating” and they were unsure why there was a constant reference to cats.
A parental voice broke in, “There you two are. Been wondering what you’d been up to; thought it was too quiet.”
Andy’s father suddenly stopped when he saw the naked panorama. Andy and his father locked eyes. Andy just stared, knowing his guilt. His father bored down on Andy in parental displeasure but broke contact first.
“That’s not something that you should be looking at,” his father chastised. “It’s not appropriate for someone your age.”
“But why do you have it hidden away in the cupboard? Don’t you want Mum to see?”
His father rattled his brain for the appropriate parental response and grasped at the first one that would get him out of answering the question.
“Give me that. You two go outside and do something.”
Andy’s father took the offered object of indiscretion and watched them walk ashamedly from the office. He rolled up the magazine and sighed deeply. Resisting the urge to flick through the pages one more time, he checked that the boys were indeed outside playing before dumping the magazine into the garbage.

© Adam Byatt 2010

Adam Byatt is an English teacher and a drummer with an interest in literary pursuits, rhythmic permutations, theological amplifications and comedic outbursts.  He inhabits the cracks around the following websites:
http://afullnessinbrevity.wordpress.com/
http://adampb.wordpress.com/
www.twitter.com/revhappiness

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Guest Writer: Elliott Cox

I Lean on Jim

Roman stared at his companion for a moment, sizing him up. The man with no hair and a bushy gray beard took a long pull from his label-less beer, licked his lips and gave Roman a wink and a nod, “Jus’ what I see, you up-tight sumbitch. Let the trout lick your toes a bit ‘fore you grab ‘em is all I’m sayin’. Loosen up, man. Beer?”
Roman didn’t acknowledge the brown bottle that the bushy-bearded man was offering him and said, “How did you know what I was thinking?”
“Thinkin’? Son, you were slobberin’ all over yourself like a bulldog on slippery pork-chop night ‘bout the time that lady threw her blinds open.” The man put his calloused bare feet up on an empty chair. “Don’t take no rocket-surgeon to figger out what was floatin’ through your melon.”
“Smiley,” Roman would call him, he didn’t seem to do much else, other than drink beer and wear that goofy grin. “Alright, Smiley…”
”Name ah Jim”. Roman stopped. “Sorry?” The old man put his feet flat on the concrete pad, leaned into Roman and said, “I go by the name of Jim.”
“Oh, sorry, Jim. I was just saying…”
“Where I come from, you tell a man your name, he tell you his.”
“Oh, right. Sorry, Jim. My name is Roman.” Jim smiled and nodded. “Go on.”
“Don’t you mean, ‘go on, Roman,” with a smart-assed grin on his face.
“Tell ya story, boy. Don’t make me jerk a knot in ya head, just tell ya story.”

Roman cleared his throat to break the tension and said, “I was just sitting here minding my own business, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye, I turned to look…a lady was waving to me…and that was that. End of story”
“Mmmm-hmmm.” Jim finished his beer while looking at Roman. “End of story, huh? Whatcha workin’ on now?”
“I’m not working on anything now. That was it. That’s all.”
“Son, I been around the block a few times in my day, and I’m gonna tell ya, you full of it. If ya wanner, go getter. I don’t mean rape or nothin’, try that an’ I’ll cut ‘ya balls off my own self, ain’t no man worth bein’ called a man’ll do that. I’m sayin’ jus’ go be yourself. If it is, then it is, if it ain’t, it ain’t. Just do ya thang.”

Roman stared at her closed curtains the whole time Jim was talking. He looked back to give Jim the thumbs up, but Jim was gone, bottles and all. Roman went through the door to her building, up the stairs and stood outside her door. He knocked on the door and immediately ran back down the stairwell.
Idiot, idiot, idiot, Roman thought with each footstep as he worked his way back to his room. He splashed cold water on his face, grabbed two more beers, and went back to his courtyard.

The blinds in her window remained silent and still, although Roman could swear he saw them move every few seconds.
“Well, son, how’d it go?”
Roman jumped at the sound of Jim’s voice. “Jesus, man, you scared the crap out of me!”
“Just cause I’m old don’t mean I’m clumsy. Beer?”
Roman accepted the cold beer from the man and popped the top.
“So, how’d it go? Ya get ‘er?”
Roman took a long drink while shaking his head. “Didn’t have the stones, Jim. I got as far as knocking on her door and I bailed down the stairwell.”
Jim tisked and said, “Tell me Rome, what’d she look like? When you saw her through the window, I mean.”
“Well, she had brown hair and a pretty face. That’s about all I could see.”
“Seems to me you seen a whole lot more than some hair and a face. You wunta been so ga-ga over just some hair and a face.”
“I don’t know, Jim. I’ve been on the road, wrapped up in work for so long that I never took the time to start a family. I can count my serious relationships with women on zero fingers.”
“Looks like you might jus’ get that chance.” Roman looked at him and Jim nodded toward the woman’s window. Roman turned to look and saw her standing there looking at him. She made the gesture for “one minute” while mouthing the words, and went back into the room. Roman, eyes wide and mouth agape, looked back at a smiling Jim.
“Better close ya pie-hole, son. You gonna catch a fly.”

The door of her building opened and she walked toward the men, frozen drink in hand and a smile on her face. Roman just stared and tried not to look too dumb. She sat down beside Jim, gave him a kiss, and said, “So what ya’ll boys talkin’ ‘bout?”
“Roman, I’d like you to meet my wife. Eileen, Roman. Roman, Eileen.”
“How ya’ll doin’, Roman.”
Roman stared at Jim in confusion for a moment. “You two are married? Jim, why didn’t you tell me THAT instead of all that other stuff?”
“Well, son, you didn’t ask. Beer?”

© Elliott Cox 2010

Elliott Cox is an aircraft mechanic/avionics technician by day and a writer by night. His work has been selected to be included in two Six Sentences collections: The Mysterious Dr. Ramsey and Mind Games.

Guest Writer: Callan

Checking Out

I was checking out of the motel I had spent a restless night in. No one was at the front desk. I waited for some time. I glanced out the window at the rain, and when I turned back towards the desk, a women was there, I had not heard her approach. She said nothing, just stood watching me with vacant green eyes. I found her unsettling. I said nothing and handed her my room key. She took it without a word. I turned away and headed for the door.
“Sir,” she called out. I turned around. “Do you find me attractive?”
The room seemed to have grown smaller. She kept her empty eyes fixed on me. Inexplicably the desk was inching its way closer and closer to me. Till it pressed against me, pushing its hard angles into my weak flesh. I found myself face to face with the spooky green-eyed woman.
She kissed me. My back was against the door. Reaching behind me I felt for the door handle. Despite myself, I felt myself getting aroused. I did not want to be aroused by a spooky green-eyed woman with supernatural motel powers, but I was. The situation was hopeless. I could not find the door handle, and every moment I failed to escape I was becoming more and more drawn in. Soon there would be no escape. The kiss went on for an unnaturally long time. It was uncomfortable. My neck became stiff; my lips were tender. Her lips were course and dry. The kiss went on and on. At long last, she pulled away. I sighed. For a moment she looked deep into my eyes; they were not vacant now, but filled with the basest lust and desperation. The intensity of her gaze made me feel naked within. In her gaze was an unflattering reflection of my own unfulfilled needs. When it seemed that all was lost, my hand grasped the handle of the door.
Running through the pouring rain, I located my car and climbed inside. The green-eyed front-desk clerk was waiting patiently for me. I began driving quickly from the motel. My plan was to act as though there was nothing strange about her being in my car. Nothing strange about how she was able to beat me to my car, through the rain, without getting wet. Nothing strange about the fact she was able to get inside my car without keys; nothing strange about the small childish suitcase she was grasping to her chest. No, there was nothing strange about this at all.
What else could I do?
“I am all packed,” she informed me.
“Good, I hope you brought a bathing suit,” I said.
“No, I did not. Why would I?”
“So we can go swimming, of course.” My voice came out cheerful, full of anticipation of good times.
“This rain will never end,” she told me.
I looked over at her in the dim twilight of the car. Her voice was so sad. I saw that she was crying. I was invaded by her sorrow. I pulled the car over and parked. We were on a bluff overlooking a river surrounded by ragged mountains, ghostly gray shapes in the rain.
I attempted to remove the tiny suitcase from her grasp, but she struggled. She put up a fight. I was furious that she should resist me. With great violence, I wrested the small plastic case from her; the hard plastic edges bruising the tender flesh of her upper arms. She whimpered and then gave up. Her arms went limp, and she struggled no more.
I opened it, inside was a baffling mixture of things. A doll’s dress, a dildo, a ratchet set, a certificate proclaiming her satisfactory completion of a two-year hotel management program, loose change, mini-blinds, comprehensive instructions on maintaining your very own square-foot garden, a gold ring. The clothing was the wardrobe of a young girl, all cheerful pastels. I searched for a swim suit. There was none. “You should have packed a swim suit.” I told her. “Now the rain will never end.”
She turned to me and I could see she had shrunk. She was now a little girl. I watched her as she turned the key in the ignition and put the car in drive. “I apologize, usually check out is less traumatic,” she told me.
“I see,” I replied. By now the car was in freefall and I knew soon it would crash into the river below.

© Callan 2010

Callan left Orange County, Ca. in 2007 and moved to the country to focus full time on her writing her work is featured at Six Sentences and her blog www.theworksofjanecallan.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Guest Writer: Gita M. Smith

The Late Show at the Argo

The Argo Drive-In late show ended at 11:30. When the last car had gone, Marti doused the sodium vapor spotlight, slipped on double latex gloves and rolled the trash trolley through the semicircular theater lot. An empty pint of Courvoisier, an unfurled Trojan, a baby’s sippy cup joined the usual popcorn tubs and soda cans. Nothing special, not like the previous week’s find of a South Sea pearl ring and umber calfskin gloves. She heard the cough of the projectionist’s truck about to leave; Avner sounded a see-you-later beep and rumbled out the exit toward Cooley’s Package Store before it closed at midnight. In the distance Marti could see flashing blue and red emergency lights where the road bent sharply west. Silently she wished Avner a safe detour around the latest crash.
She remembered to check the speaker wires at Slot 23. She’d had to disable that speaker earlier; best to reconnect its parts while it was fresh on her mind. The couple in the car at Slot 23 had not been ugly about the speaker malfunction, especially since she’d moved them quickly to Slot 88 at the darkest corner of the parking rows. They hadn’t come to watch the movie, anyway, Marti knew. The woman had been all over the guy, humping him in the front seat and the back. They’d been oblivious to everything around them.
Marti stretched and craned to see beyond the Argo’s fence. On tiptoe she was 5’10” even. To the west, the red and blue still strobed. To the east, a quarter moon was rising.
Marti moved on to Slot 88. It was the Argo’s newest parking slot, created when the need arose one day. She checked around for any trash or unusual leavings. Nope, clean. In the weak moonlight, it looked pretty much like all the other slots with their yellow numbers, speaker stands and call buttons, which patrons pressed in case of problems. Its special feature, though, was something she and Avner had created.
“I want a pit in the ground, like the one where the mechanic stands under your car, when you go for an oil change,” she had said.
He’d caught on in a blink. “But with a roof over the dugout part so it somehow blends with the parking lot.”
He had rented a backhoe to dig the pit one morning when the Argo was closed. Marti reinforced the sides with timbers; four by fours at the corners, two by fours to brace them. They ran PVC pipe downhill away from the pit to drain off water. The bay was big enough to hold a man of Avner’s size plus a toolbox and a folding ladder. It was narrower than the wheelbase of any vehicle except a Mini Cooper’s. Marti drove Avner’s Silverado over the hole, then her own Acura to check. He practiced sliding under the vehicle’s chassis, into the bay and out again. He could reach every part of a vehicle’s underside while in the bay, especially hydraulic lines and brakes.
“No cutters, no cutting,” he’d told Marti as he selected the tools that would stay permanently in the bay. “Lines have to be damaged, but any neat straight cuts can be detected. That way, no blowback.”
“I’ll blow-back you,” she’d laughed, and they’d had sex in the bay.
The roof for Slot 88 had been a challenge, Marti thought as she rolled the trash trolley back to the concession stand. She turned the popcorn kettle off and rinsed out rags. Impossible to create an asphalt roof over the bay, they’d realized, and no way to camouflage it totally. They had given up on making Slot 88 perfectly identical to the rest. The roof just had to be strong. A flat steel grate slid over the opening, not soundlessly, but quietly enough. Slot 88 had no other parking slots next to it; no lights illuminated it; by the time the late show started, it was a shadow box.
Cleanup over, Marti exited and locked the drive-in gates. She liked this quiet time after the late show when she was sole custodian. Her employers, an elderly couple from Birmingham, left the Argo’s management to her and Avner. They didn’t update the sound system to digital, keeping, instead, old-fashioned in-car speakers that broke easily. “Just replace what breaks,” the man had said. “And keep a good electrician on call.” At her interview, she had told the owners, “I’ve always loved drive-ins. They’re an American tradition, and I want the Argo to survive.”
Two shows nightly – the early shows all PG-rated family fare, the late shows adults-only – meant a short workday for Marti. Twice weekly she completed paperwork or refilled soft drink canisters of CO2. Easy-peasy. Her pay, direct-deposited, was not the point. What counted was the opportunity afforded by the Argo.

*******

It was nearly 1 a.m. when Marti pulled up to St. Vincent’s Hospital on Birmingham’s Southside. She rode the elevator to 3 North, the surgical intensive care waiting room. A haggard older woman, a sleeping child, a nervous-looking man were occupying chairs below a silent TV screen. The man rose quickly and walked to Marti’s side. “Shelley’s still in surgery,” he whispered. “The guy, the driver’s dead.”
“And that’s your…?”
“Mother in law,” he answered. “Shelley’s mom.”
“Lorne, let’s get coffee,” Marti said and drew him towards the corridor.
“We’ll be right back, Mom,” Lorne called out, then followed.
“Cameras are everywhere, so here’s what we’ll do,” Marti said. “When you buy the coffees, take a few extra napkins. Hand me my coffee and put the envelope in my hand, as naturally as if it was a napkin. Keep to natural movements. It’s all good, all good. Keep talking to me about Shelley and the crash.”
At 2 a.m. Marti entered the apartment, showered fast and slid into her side of bed.
“Mmmmm,” came Avner’s welcome. “Go okay?”
Marti fitted her front to his back. “Your half is on the dresser. It’s more than ever.”

The first client had come to Avner, actually. A plumber checking water lines at the concession stand had griped about his cheating wife. “Bitch probably comes here to fuck in the guy’s car,” he’d said. “Bet you see a lot of cheating bitches here. I should come over and catch her. Damn, I could kill her.”
Avner, joking: “Hey man, I could use some extra cash. Let me take care of it.”
Plumber, not joking: “Do you know how to fuck up the brakes on a car?”
Marti, hearing about this later: “Well, do you?”
Avner did, although he didn’t have the stomach for the aftermath. Marti had the job of visiting the hospitals. She was okay with that. Each one got easier. Cheating Shelley was their fifth.
The routine was beautifully simple: The paying client told Avner what make and model car and license plate to look for. Marti passed by the cheaters’ slot and, with a practiced swipe, loosened a speaker wire. The cheaters complained and got moved to Slot 88. Avner slipped into the secret bay under their car as soon as the feature started; the couple drove away at the end of the show. They crashed sooner or later, often with fatalities to the woman cuddled up against her lover.
Money changed hands, lots of money. Time went by. Late shows played seven nights a week. People made love in darkened cars as if they were invisible, the last to copulate on earth.
Marti smiled against Avner’s back as she drifted toward slumber. Yes, her future was secure. The world would never run out of cheaters.


© Gita M. Smith 2010

Gita Smith is a career journalist, whose work has appeared on The Sphere, Fictionaut, Pen10, Not From Here Are You (The NOT), and her reporting on the South appears at LiketheDew.com, a news site.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Guest Writer: Rod Drake

The Murder Game
A Professor Clue Surreal Mystery

Who killed Mr. Monopoly, the mustached, monocled owner of the famous game that bore his name?

That was the million dollar question. And not monopoly money either. Plus he was only the latest in a series of ruthless game board murders.

But he was by far the most prestigious, and his murder was the most outrageous: crushed under a massive pile of hotels from his own game. Only his crumpled top hat and cracked monocle survived.

The prime suspects were the game next door on Parker Brothers Boulevard. Clue. Somewhat ironic, as that is my name as well. Let me introduce myself; Professor Clue, detective extraordinaire, genius without peer, mastermind of criminal doings. Oh yes, and modest too. My assistant is Quiz Boy, a youthful, high-spirited lad, still under my tutelage, and in desperate need of it, but on occasion, useful.

Quiz Boy had assembled the five suspects in the observatory, a nice, spacious and pleasant room. I believe one of them is the culprit behind the Game Board Murders, as the newspapers have dubbed this sensational crime.

There is Doctor Pomegranate, famed fruit disease researcher and physician; Captain Mayo, heroic military veteran of many wars; Lady C. Gull, the faded and slightly looney silent movie star; Miss Crimson, the sultry heiress to the Chinese Checkers fortune; and Mr. Verde, the adventurer, explorer and big game trapper.

“One of you,” I intoned dramatically, as is my wont, “is a murderer.”

“Oh pish and tosh,” drawled Lady C. Gull, “why would any of us commit murder? What would we have to gain?” She leaned forwarded towards Quiz Boy and whispered, “Where is the camera? Is it getting my good side? Where is that makeup girl?”

“This is not a movie,” I stated in my best Basil Rathbone voice, “but someone will be flashed across the television news, I imagine, in handcuffs.” Lady Sparrow perked up at that, until I said, “But it’s not you; you’re too frail to push those hotels down on Mr. Monopoly.”

“So Miss Crimson is eliminated too then, for the same reason?” Doctor Pomegranate asked.

“Perhaps,” I played with their anticipation. “But she has youth and an athletic body on her side, if I may be so bold.” I tipped a pretend hat at her.

“You may,” she smiled her dazzling smile, crossing immaculate legs, miles of them. “Daily Chutes and Ladders keep me in shape.”

“The murderer, Professor Clue? You said you know who did it. Can we get on with this?” Mr. Verde was impatient, often a telling detail in murder cases.

“Yes, Mr. Verde. You are a likely suspect. After all, Monopoly town and other game cities were crowding the wilderness out of existence, and without it, what good is a big game hunter?” Mr. Verde started to deny it, but I pushed on. “And Doctor Pomegranate, it is well known that you and Mr. M were not close, I believe something about a woman you both fancied—correct, Miss Crimson?”

At that remark, Miss Crimson turned crimson. Doctor Pomegranate looked positively squeezed dry.

Quiz Boy moved into position. “That’s brings us to Captain Mayo. Hero of Battleship, the Jenga offensive and the Mouse Trap campaign. Is that where you lost your eye, Captain?”

He nervously tugged on his black eye patch. “No, it was . . . the Yahtzee raid.”

“Interesting.” I strolled into the circle of the seated suspects. “Also interesting that you seem shorter, and if I may be painfully honest, a bit more rotund than I remember your appearance.”

‘He’s right,’ came murmurs from the remaining four.

“Could it be, that the eye patch is just a way to shield your myopic eye?” Quiz Boy then quickly pulled the patch off, revealing Mayo’s normal eye, “Since you need the monocle to see!”

“Holy Husker Du, Mayo is actually Mr. Monopoly! In disguise!” Doctor Pomegranate stated the obvious. “But,” he turned to me, “Monopoly was killed, we all saw—“

Quiz Boy slapped cuffs on Monopoly. “No, Doctor, you saw a top hat and monocle— Mr. Monopoly’s body was never recovered; it was thought to have been crushed utterly out of existence. That was what began my suspicions as to the ‘murder.’ And my infallible deductions to solve this case.”

I continued on. “Our clever friend here faked his own murder, to throw everyone off his scent after killing the other game board inhabitants. And you assembled here were to be next.”

“But why?” asked a confused Miss Crimson.

“Shall you tell them, or I, Mr. Monopoly?” I offered him the challenge.

“Because as long as other board games exist, I can’t be Monopoly! I’m one of many, and I must be the one and only, a true monopoly!” The police arrived then and took Mr. Monopoly away, as he screamed insanely about Community Chest, the B&O and Park Place.

To sum up this case, using the right vernacular: Monopoly took a Risk and ran his little Operation, but now he is Sorry that he failed at the Game of Life. It will be no Candyland in prison for him. Oh, I just kill myself sometimes.


© Rod Drake 2010

Rod Drake enjoyed tweaking the pulp detective style in this story, which hopefully will become the first in a Professor Clue series. Check out Rod’s other stories in Fictional Musings, Six Sentences, MicroHorror, Powder Burn Flash and AcmeShorts. You can find Cab Ride from Hell, Time to Go, Saturday at the Mall, The Storyteller, and Housefly Lament at Six Sentences, and The Adventure of the Whitechapel Murders at Fictional Musings.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Guest Writer: Stephen Stribbell

A Halo of Flies

Dead, it is white all around
Biting cold, buried in the frozen ground
Icy silence inside my eyes
Bodies bloated, attracting flies.

Often thoughts are not recorded; the movement of time is something we can
sense but never see. Is it greed that spurs the soul on through life, the eternal want of more?
A mist swirls and disguises the painted symbols on the walls. It is suddenly dark.

Insane laughter resounds throughout my head
Yet there is no smile upon my face
Voices calling me to empty rooms
The walls don't care what I say

I am Stephen. I am becoming words on paper. I am that which is and that which is not, depending
on how you wish to consider me. Changing shape, texture, patterns: a fluid, pulsing and flowing like
blood sinking slowly into the page. Drifting through the sheets, into the dark, the black, is void. Nothing.
Picture a moment frozen in time - in space, a steady clicking, millions of revolutions per second. I congeal. A life: images imprinted on burning retinas, a collection of hopes and dreams, torn and fading on rotting newsprint.

It's eerie when everything moves - molecules, not love
Light on the face, shadows for eyes, bodies in black
Is it true that we only live for the reproduction of DNA?
Faltering steps tick by like an old clock, an hour gone:
It is lost, and can never be again.

Why are you shivering, Stephen? Are you cold? Is everything dying around you? Can you feel the slow decay?
Why don't you do yourself a favor and draw the cold steel through your wrists? Listen, Stephen. Listen to us
laughing. Can't you cry anymore? The pain is getting worse, isn't it? The frustration is unbearable, you know
it is. Don't you wish you could die? You can't shut us out for even a minute! And we're laughing!

Insects and worms are climbing the walls
The laughter, increasing in intensity, echoes through the halls
A halo of flies for the son of society
Crawling in my eyes. I cannot see.

© Stephen M. Stribbell 2010

Stephen Stribbell is a self-proclaimed "Artistic Mercenary," practicing his creative skills, which include visual art, music, writing, and theater, to survive in the brutally hard underbelly of the world. You can find some of his work at http://www.thinkingten.com/profile/StephenStribbell.

Guest Writer: Michael J. Solender

Never to Call Your Name

Your words are the sparks that I use to immolate myself in a defiant and purposeful act. You use them like Spackle to cement meaning into the tiniest cracks of our relationship, unburdening yourself of their bile and ensuring I will carry their weight.

Like knotted nylon cord, the not so bon mots from your pouty lips circle my ankles and climb skyward to my ears before settling in my brain to rattle in a dissonance of your creation.

You can't help yourself, your mother was born before you and the trappings and placement of that birth laid forth your destiny. You needed me only to complete the second curtain of your three act theater.

Go. To yourself, run and embrace all that is you. You'll find no more of yourself in me as I burn it away. Each tiny bit of you vaporizing from matter to gaseous smoke as the temperatures soar to incalculable heights. It is not my pain you will feel and those receptors of yours are long since dulled of any agony other than your own.

You'll wonder and turn to those that find advantage in their twisted friendship with you, yet to discover what screams and emanates from your soul. Comfort not though will you find, rather the heat will begin to build and tear at your flesh as it has mine, though your blood runs cooler, icily coursing in vascular precision around and around the beating mass where your heart should be.

Come. Come back to where you might be able to save yourself. It is too late for me but shed not the first tear crocodile or other as that acid will etch on what remains of my emptiness. Hollow and void, burned out and charred, though at least absent of anything you have touched.

Run. Run like the breeze created by ten thousand butterflies as they flutter towards the impermanence that awaits them. They are my accompanists in the flaming symphony I have created with your vitriol.

Wait. Wait on eternity’s doorstep and then wait some more and then more still. Your dawn rises. It is there for your succor.

© Michael J. Solender 2010

Michael J. Solender is editor of On The Wing, the non-fiction online magazine from Full of Crow. He writes a weekly Neighborhoods column for The Charlotte Observer and contributes frequently to Charlotte ViewPoint and Like The Dew, Journal of Southern Culture & Politics. Solender’s micro-fiction and poetry have been featured online at: Bull Men’s Fiction, Calliope Nerve, Danse Macabre, Dogzplot, Gloom Cupboard, Right Hand Pointing, Shoots & Vines, The Legendary, Metazen, Writers’ Bloc and over a dozen other venues. His essay, Unaffiliated, will be featured in the upcoming print anthology TOPOGRAPH, New Writing From the Carolinas and the Landscape Beyond, published by Novello Festival Press in the fall of 2010. Follow his blog at your own peril here: http://notfromhereareyou.blogspot.com/.

Guest Writer: Coraline J. Thompson

Death Knows No Mercy

My life, a delusion,
At least to me,
Was to him an experiment –
A plaything to mold and shape
To cut and create
Until the perfect woman stood
Ready and waiting to please him in every way.
Independent as I was
My subconscious rejected his ways
But as time is king in all games,
Eventually, I succumbed.
I lost my independence
Somewhere along the way
My head, oh my head, such things inside me said,
“Who are you to think you can be
Greater than he, your husband, your king?”

My imperfect thoughts
Of an imperfect me
Tore me down into the depths unseen.
Beauty and grace
Were no longer mine
At least not in his mind.
Anti-depressants did little to stymie
The tears falling, falling, falling.

Enough to fill a pond, a lake, or a river
My tears kept flowing steadily.
“You’re nothing, no one, and never will be.
Forget yourself.
Be one with what he needs you to be.”

Internal flames raged within
What was left of my soul
Tormented, afraid, and losing
To his mind game-minions from hell,
I could hear their voices
Chanting victory
While my blood turned cold.

Something died
Or maybe someone. My soul?
Nonetheless, something died indeed.

Empty

A shell, a robot,
Programmed for his pleasure.

Empty

But inside emptiness
Lurks
A creature
Much worse than that of a woman’s scorn
Something that thrives on emptiness,
Soul-less,
Destroyed,
In a shell.

My memories were lost in time.

Months drifted by
A haze-filled sky
Cloudy eyes
Sleepless nights
Alone
But still his perfect wife.

The thing lurking
I knew not
Sought control, crowned itself king
Over a carnage-strewn battlefield.
“Kill him,” it breathed
Into my dreams.

Possessed
By demons
Created them he,
That used my right hand
For their bidding –
A slash in the dark,
The rip of shared sheets,
The gurgling struggle,
A cry, “Help me.”

The devil within
Shifted seats as
My old self?
My soul?
Was resurrected with
Each stab into the heart of
The man who killed me.

© Coraline J. Thompson 2010

Coraline J. Thompson is a writing mother of two. Find more of her work online at Striking Writes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

MuDJoB has won a Versatile Blogger Award!

Versatile Blogger Award



What a treat!
If you Google the Versatile Blogger Award, you get approximately half a million results as of 1 Aug 2010!



The 4 "rules" (with my responses) that accompany the award are:

1. Thank the person who loved you enough to bestow this gift.
  • I thank Salvatore Buttaci for adding MuDJoB to his award list.  You can find Sal's terrific poetry and fiction at various places online, and in print.
    Check out his Amazon.com page.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
  1. I was born and grew up in NYC, and now reside South of the Border.
  2. To the best of my ability, I teach ESL to young people.
  3. I write all the time, and have been doing so for over thirty years.
  4. Although, I have been affiliated with several writing sites over the years, I recently discovered dream sites on which to express myself, including Rob McEvily's Six Sentences and Blake Cooper's Thinking Ten among others.
  5. I've used online resources such as Issuu to "publish" work of mine and that of students, and am tickled pink to find we're being read all over the world.
  6. I try my best to be forthright, honest, and sincere with others, and try to write daily.
  7. I am very grateful to my many peers, and the people I've met in my travels who have extended a hand of friendship. This world is nothing without friendship.
3. Bestow this honor onto 10 newly discovered or followed bloggers–in no particular order–who are fantastic in some way.
  Here are a dozen bloggers (among many) that I think deserve this award:
There are several equally fantastic bloggers I would like to include. For starters, I would like to include all the writers who have participated here at MuDJoB, but have limited myself to a dozen, and considering the names previously mentioned by Sal (who also bent the "rules" a bit), and that each of the above should be gifting at least 10 bloggers, I'm fairly certain if I've not included you here, you will shortly be recognized. So many great writers, so few awards to bestow! What's an admiring blogger to do? Ha. Spread the wealth, won't you?

4. Drop by and let your fellow bloggers know you admire them.
The Versatile Blogger award is peer-driven and such recognition does a great deal to connect and support our on-line community of writers. It has been my pleasure to be a recepient and now a bestower. All my best wishes to those I was granted space to name, to the many that are great, but just couldn't fit this time, and to those whose writing I have yet to encounter.

Amazon Listings

MDJB at Amazon