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Michael picked Asa up from the airport. They hadn’t seen each other in three months and she had been on a plane for twelve hours so they didn’t waste any time, they went straight back to the house.

They took her luggage into the bedroom and then they took turns using the bathroom. Michael found her sitting on the edge of the bed when he returned.

“What should we do now?” he asked.

“Show me.”

Michael smiled and unbuttoned his shirt and let the two sides of his shirt hang open.

“How bad do you want it?”

Asa cracked her knuckles.

“Real bad.”

Michael grasped the hole side and the button side and folded the two halves back until his shoulders were exposed.

“Yay,” said Asa.

Then Michael turned around and looked back into the mirror above the dresser back at Asa.

“Are you ready for this?” he asked.

Asa nodded eagerly.

Michael threw back the shirt halves and twisted his arms inwards and let the damned thing fall off his torso. His back was dotted with all manner of pimples. There were two dozen or so ready to pop.

“Oh my God,” Asa said. Then, “Let’s get it on.”

Michael walked over to the foot of the bed and climbed up onto it and laid face down on the blanket. Asa got on the edge of the bed on her knees, body bent forward over Michael, and placed her hands on his back.

“I don’t know where to start,” she said.

Asa chose the right shoulder blade. Pimple by pimple she worked her way down Michael’s back. She would pop only the ready ones, in one smooth, fluid motion, and leave the trail of pus beside the crater like spent confetti.

She had popped twenty pimples before she noticed how much he was bleeding. Asa had neglected to dab the pimples. She grabbed some toilet paper and laid it down in balls atop the bubbles. Soon they were soaked red.

“That felt so good,” said Michael. “I could take a nap.”

Asa replaced the old toilet paper balls with new toilet paper balls but they only became soaked through as well.

“Is this normal?” Asa asked.

Michael didn’t hear her. He had drifted off somewhere else.

Asa tried to shake him awake first and when that didn’t work she went and got a cup of water and splashed him in the face. Then she decided to panic.

“I popped too many pimples,” she told the 911 operator.

An ambulance came and took him away. A paramedic rode in the back with them, checking Michael’s vital signs.

“What were you two doing in there?” he asked Asa.

She didn’t know what to say.

“Was it a sex thing?”

Michael had to get a blood transfusion. Asa was sitting by his hospital bed when he regained consciousness.

He glanced down at the IV in his arm and then up at Asa. He smiled weakly and told her that he had missed her.

This story was written by Lee Blevins, who is an open micer with a fast approaching expiration date for his hair. He sometimes tweets @BleeSevens.

There were no cell phones in the 1970s, but there was something called voice pagers. Spencer being the professional sales person that he believed himself to be was one of the first to obtain this specialized communication system. Also during the 70s Spencer’s parents who live in another state would visit once or twice a year but instead of staying with him or his older sister they would rent a room at the Holiday Inn Coliseum.

Spencer had been fortunate to set up an appointment with Conley Chevrolet, one of the largest automobile dealers in the state. The appointment was to demonstrate the Novus system, a method by which to repair Dings and cracks in windshields. This brand-new technology would allow automobile dealers to fix broken windshields rather than replacing them.

While Spencer had begun to demonstrate this amazing new product, his sister was headed to the airport to make sure their parents were picked up on time and safely settled in at the motel.
The appointed time had begun, and Spencer found himself standing in front of Mr. Conley, the owner, and fifteen of his employees. They had provided an automobile with a cracked windshield for Spencer to use in his demonstration. Spencer began telling the Novus story while placing his tripod over the damaged area. Things seem to be sailing right along and looking good for Spencer. He was answering their questions quickly, and his performance was without glitches. Boy, am I a real pro he thought to himself.

And then his voice pager went off as the message heard loud and clear, by all encircled around him and spoken in a very sexy female voice. “Hi Spence, I’m at the Holiday Inn Coliseum, room 212, come on by as soon as you can, I can’t wait to see you again, okay sweetie – – – bye.”

At that point, Spencer lost total perspective for what he was doing. He became uncomfortable, hot around his collar, and began to turn a nice toasty shade of red. Spencer looked up to see the smirks on everyone’s face. Then he proceeded to compound the situation by saying to the group,” That was my sister.”

They all grinned, nodding their heads up and down while saying almost in unison, “Sure that was your sister.” After his stumble, the demonstration began to fail as the windshield problem became worse than when he had started. Spencer was told shortly after to check back with them when he felt more comfortable with the process. Now humbled, Spencer packed up his demonstration equipment and thought to himself, "ain’t big sisters great.”

Jim Freeze is seventy years old and retired. He has been happily married for fifty-two years and has two grown sons. He began writing in early 2012 to have something to do. His short stories have been featured in several publications including-----( Brilliant Flash Fiction, Calliope Magazine, and The Original Writer.)

"And this, with the right incantation," the goblin held up an ornate candelabra, "will transport you to another dimension."

Eric and Will looked at each other. "Only one?" asked Eric.

"What do you mean?" replied the goblin.

"We have three dimensions here, four if you count time. If we transported to a just single dimension somewhere, we would die instantly."

"Well, how about this?" Waving his hand over a slab of polished oak inscribed with several strange symbols, the goblin explained, "It allows you to communicate with the other side."

Eric sought clarification. "The other side of what?"

The goblin explained, "You will be able to contact the denizens of the Great Beyo-"

"It's not even in English," Will interrupted, "Does Google Translate support it?"

The goblin stopped, and took a deep breath. "Okay. This," he pulled a crystal from a red velvet sack, "was crafted by the dark lord himself. It is a source of great power. It..."

Eric's turn. "It doesn't even have a USB port. How am I supposed to charge anything with that? Look, my Mom is going to be here soon to pick us up. Can we just get what we came for?"

A few minutes later Eric and Will were walking out of the store, Eric holding a new adapter for his phone. "You know," said Will, "I still like RadioShack a lot more now that it's merged with Sprint."

This story was written by Todd Wells, father of three and husband of one. Todd Wells runs marathons, hosts international visitors through US Department of State exchange programs, and enjoys standing in line for airport security at Midway and O'Hare. He writes about all of those things at His previous pieces have shown up on, and right here ("Three Wishes"). 

Lauren walked along the beach and watched the waves. Her auburn hair whipped in the breeze as she looked down at the clear water and small flecks of sand rolling in and out. The noise of the big breaks filled the air and bounced off the dunes. After one loud crashing wave the cold water pushed farther than before and enveloped her ankles. The cool foamy water that pooled around her feet stood still for just a second and then flowed back out to sea.

The bigger wave pushed sand away and at her feet she found the top of a light brown corked bottle. She reached down and tugged it free from its grave. The bottle was empty except for a rolled up piece of paper.

She clenched her teeth as she struggled but finally managed to pull the cork from the mouth. Tipping the bottle over her hand, she patted the bottom until the paper came out. Her eyes sparkled as she uncurled the paper and found a handwritten note. Lauren gently read aloud.

“My dearest, I’m sorry. The squall was too large and I couldn’t keep her true. I was blown off course and then she floundered. I’m floating with the gulf stream but I don’t know if I’m a mile off the coast or twenty. The fins are everywhere circling me. If you find this you have to know that my love is as…”

“Blah, blah, blah.” Lauren said out loud crumpling up the note. She threw the paper on to the sand. “This bottle would look so cool on Pinterest, I could fill it with beads or a single dry rose.” She cradled the bottle in one arm and lifted her phone for a selfie. Still cradling the bottle, she kept walking down the beach.

A new wave rolled in and grabbed the note and pulled it back out to sea.

This story was written by Tyson Abaroa, a self-described ADHD guy trying to make it in the world. Of course my affliction is dealing with the constant need to write down the stories that continuously run through my head day and night.
When the alarm went off, I wished the snooze button I was hitting was, instead, a detonating device. Sunday NFL at the bar had devolved into drunken debauchery. The merriment, I blearily recalled as I pulled on jeans and a t-shirt, had ended well past midnight.

The primary tasks I had to complete this morning were to get to school on time, and make sure I didn’t reek of booze. I spritzed myself with cologne and was out the door. I snagged the last spot in the employee parking lot and trudged to my classroom.

As I opened the door, I was hit with a sickening wave of hot, sour stench. “What the fuck?” I muttered as I fumbled the lights on. It was peak heatwave season, and the air conditioners in the old building rarely worked. I wandered around, trying to sniff out the source of the stink. I could feel flop sweat gathering in my pits, alcohol seeping out of my pores. “Ugh.” There it was: an open milk carton, shoved into a Arturo’s desk. It had been fermenting all weekend.

The bell rang. I had just enough time to toss the offending carton into a trash can in the hallway before the kids came streaming in. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeew,” said Charles, the first person bold enough to comment on the foul odor that still hung over the entire room.

“Since the smell came from your desk, I’m going to let you open the windows, Charles,” I called. It wasn’t true, but Charles was the kind of kid who got away with murder, and I’d take what little justice I could manufacture. Charles reluctantly walked around the back of the room opening windows; gusts of fresher air entered.

Arturo walked in. He’d left early on Friday with a stomachache. Such a sweet boy would never have left the milk to spoil on purpose; clearly he’d forgotten about it in his nauseated state.

“Arturo, how are you feeling?” I asked. The sickening spoiled milk stink was closing in on me; my mouth started to water.

“Better,” he replied as I bent over and unleashed a torrent of beery bile all over his pristine Air Jordans.

Slowly I returned to a standing position. The students, including Arturo, were still frozen in shock.

The door opened, and in walked the principal, Mr. Barron. He eyes were fixed on his iphone as he strode into the room. “Good morning, Ms. Langley. Don’t mind me, I’m just here to observe. Carry on with your lesson.” He finished reading whatever was on his phone’s display and looked up at the class.

The students stared at him mutely. I shot Arturo a desperate look, bulging my eyes at him in a fashion I hoped was expressive. “Good morning, Mr. Barron!” I chirped, surreptitiously wiping my chin. “Arturo had a little accident. And there was a little, uh, spoiled milk problem. I’ll have everything under control and back to teaching in no time.”

The principal’s face contorted as the odor hit him. “I understand, Ms. Langley. I’ll get the custodian in here ASAP, and we’ll reschedule your observation for another day.”

“Thank you, Mr. Barron.”

The door closed behind him. Charles opened his mouth.

 “P.E.?” I blurted quickly, before he could speak. “Extra P.E.? What do you guys say?”

Charles opened his mouth again. Arturo pointed to his shoes. “P.E. every day this week?”

Charles shut his mouth. Arturo looked resigned. A Hail Mary pass, completed.

This story was written by Kate Malone, who lives in Los Angeles and teaches elementary school.

Tariq prodded a wary finger at a plate of heart-shaped cookies topped with red icing, and added one to his plate. One door down the buffet line lived grilled beef hearts, cut in chunks and threaded on bamboo skewers. Morbid curiosity won out over good sense.

Tariq’s eyes did a walk-about to make sure only his wife was in whispering range. “Why does Janice host a Christmas party? She’s the least festive person I know.”

“To annoy her second husband,” Jennifer said.

“Has it always had a creepy Valentine’s theme?”

Jennifer pursed her lips. “That was to annoy her third husband. He didn’t like Valentine’s Day. Neither does Janice, so they should have gotten along swimmingly. Police reports say otherwise. She hopes the party will continue to annoy him in the afterlife. I keep telling her that he’s not dead, but you know Janice.”

Tariq jabbed his fork into the oily conglomeration on his plate. Two grinding passes of his teeth unleashed an overwhelming desire to retch. A masticated beef heart left an orange trail across the carpet.

Tariq scrubbed the stain. Janice’s beige carpet shredded the cocktail napkins like a steel brush attacking wrapping paper.

“I’m making it worse,” Tariq offered. “We should turn this problem over to the host.”

“And get tagged as the relatives who make a mess? No way.”
“I might not be good at cleaning, but I am good at scheming up ways to avoid cleaning. Let’s pretend nothing happened.”

A hot-air-balloon-inflating rise made way for the tiniest of head nods. “That could work, but Aunt Janice is clever. If we spill beef hearts on the rest of the carpet to match this stain, we’d have a better chance of pulling off the scam.”

“So she’ll notice an orangish splotch - which could be under the couch with some creative feng shui - but she won’t notice if her beige carpet has a new pattern?” Incredulous wrinkles ran the length of Tariq’s face.

“If we mention her second husband, she might blame the whole thing on Walter.”

“Your plan involves a lot of work just to weasel out of cleaning. I enjoy shirking household chores as much as the next guy, but not if it means taking up a huge home redecoration project. It’s a violation of the first rule of shirking,” Tariq said.

“Evading household duties has rules?”

“I learned it at the church’s marriage preparation retreat.”

“Funny,” Jennifer said, “I don’t remember learning about shirking.”

“You wouldn’t. It was in the men-only group. We also talked about boobs. Very enlightening discussion.”

“Are we going to doctor the carpet, or not?”

“I’ll go with not. This calls for a more basic trick - ignore the problem.” Tariq pressed his palms together. “The mind of the shirker must let go of the past. That is the path to true dereliction of duty.”

“How Zen. I hope you’re making up this crap. Because it’s a clear violation of the first rule of shirking.”

This story was written by Caleb Echterling, who tweets funny twitter-sized fiction @CalebEchterling.

Leonard grabbed for the seat in front of him as the airplane dived. The words This seat is used as a floatation device for flight attendants only was etched on a gold-colored plaque on the back of the seat. He had been reading it over and over during the course of his flight. Leonard turned his head as the contents of his stomach, five complimentary packets of airplane peanuts and two whiskey sours, began a frantic race from his stomach and up his throat. Cindi, his Attendant in Flight-a bleached blonde with a giant mono boob-wobbled her way down the aisle on two ice pick stiletto heels. Earlier in the flight, Cindi refused him a seventh complimentary bag of peanuts. Mr. Clowtauer, there are no more peanuts. She said his name with a look on her face like he just crop dusted her and turned her back to him. It’s Leonard. Mr. Clowtauer is my alias. His attempt at humor didn’t budge Cindi. This made him angry, which made him order more whiskey, which Cindi reluctantly handed to him. Leonard couldn’t help but insult her dye job.

As the airplane continued its rapid descent, Leonard and Cindi both lunged for the flotation seat, their last lifeline. Water gushed inside the plane as the lights above flickered in rapid succession. Cindi wasn’t going to move despite his 280-pound weight being tossed her way. She was proving herself to be deadly with a right hook. As Cindi’s fist bludgeoned his face with a boxer’s accuracy Leonard made up his mind: there was no way in hell he was going down after being bumped from first class to coach.

Leonard mouthed a quick prayer as he managed to grab the seat’s cushion and hug it against him. The plane was dropping like an empty cocktail glass at a holiday office party. Cindi glared at him, her index and middle fingers frozen in the gesture of Please exit the walk way and take notice of your exit doors. Leonard tossed his head around like an injured bull, unable to recall Cindi’s opening speech where she efficiently and with timed articulation pointed out where the exit doors were located. She was a blue and white uniformed dart torpedoing due south with her middle finger raised, she was his only hope of escape, and she was pointing to the broken shards of sunlight-their only exit-as it disappeared under a heavy, suffocating blanket.

Hillary Leftwich resides in Denver with her son. In her day jobs, she has worked as a private investigator, maid, and pinup model. She is the associate editor for The Conium Review and Reader/Marketing Coordinator for Vestal Review. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart and appears in a number of journals including Hobart, Smokelong Quarterly’s “Why Flash Fiction” essay series, Matter Press, WhiskeyPaper, NANO Fiction, decomP MagazinE, Monkeybicycle, Dogzplot, Cease, Cows, Pure Slush,, Gone Lawn, The Airgonaut, FlashFlood and others. You can find her at or follow her on Twitter @HillaryLeftwich.
 "Ya ever wonder what's out there?" Seth was staring into the only light in the small room filtering in thru dirty glass. Their Mom told them it's called moonlight.

"You know Mom told us what's out there. Nothing!" Michael hated Seth's constant daydreaming. There was work to do, and if Seth's head is up in the clouds that meant he wasn't working.

"Alright boys, time for bed," Mom said.

"Mom, if nothing is beyond, how is it we always find food? And what happened to Dad when he left, where did he go..and..." Seth pleaded.

"That's enough Seth, I told you a million times."

"Tell us again, while we fall asleep. Please," Seth yawned.

"OK, if you promise to go to sleep."

"The elders say, a long time ago there was more than this place, places so big you couldn't find the end or beginning. And the food, Oh the food, as much as you wanted! But there were these strange monsters. They were huge! They had big eyes, big teeth and the sounds they made, it was horrible. Well, these monsters did not want to share the lands with us. They had these horrible creatures that were used to hunt us. They were fast, and had big fangs. They killed so many."

Moms voice starts drifting away.

"Mom! Then what happened?"

"Anyway... Seth...the Elders decided it was not safe anymore. They found this place. And this is our home. There's a rumor that those monsters felt so bad for hunting us that they leave gifts of food for us."

By this time Seth was wide awake,"Has anybody ever tried to communicate with them, maybe if we just told them....and..."

"Seth, shhh, you'll wake your brother...Let me finish. As I was saying, they left bits of food for us, not a lot, but enough. Your dad had the same silly ideas in his head that you do. He just knew if he communicated with them, they would let us leave this place and live with them."

"But daddy never came back did he?"

"No, he never came back. So let this be a lesson Seth. This is all there is. Now go to sleep!" Mom leans over and gives Seth and Michael a peck on their heads.


"Michael... Michael, you awake?"

"Well I am now! Go back to sleep!" Michael grumbles.

"I'm going," Seth whispers.

"What? Where are you going?"

Seth leans in close to Michael, "I'm going to find Dad and communicate with the monsters!"

"Seth, don't be crazy. Dad 's gone, let it go. Now go back to bed!"

Seth quietly makes his way to the hidden entrance to the "other side." Mom doesn't think he knows about it. It's dark but his eyes are so accustomed to limited light he has no problem finding his way.

There is stuff piled in front of the last tunnel and it takes some time to dig his way through.

When he finally steps through the other side his breath catches in his throat. He has never seen a place so large!

Out of nowhere a huge monster, like the kind his mom told him about, walks into his view.

"This is it, I have to communicate with it, maybe ask it where Dad is!" Seth trembles with fear.

"Um..Excuse me," Seth stutters.

The monster doesn't respond. Perhaps it didn't hear him?

"Excuse me!" he yelled.

The monster must have heard him this time, because it screamed something he couldn't understand and ran away.

"What was that? They don't seem so bad, they look like they're scared of me. Ha, wait till Mom and Michael hear about this!

As Seth scurried back to his family his tail raised high, the monster continued screaming in its foreign language.

"Carl! Carl, get the cat! Another damn mouse is in here!"

This story was written by Misery Buchanan, a wife and a mother.

I knew I was in for a different experience when she greeted me—her sturdy arm and woodsman-like hand extended out, and down, to meet my meager wet-noodle handshake. My poor mitt was no match for her robust clutch. But, all wincing aside, I could picture what those meaty paws would bring to the table.

She placed hot towels on various body parts—several on my back, neck, and feet. She applied an icy-hot product to persuade my knotted body to relax. I smelled an infusion of lavender and menthol. Hmmm wait, what’s the other smell? Stinky feet? I inhaled deeply for some reason. I guess the scientist in me craves confirmation. Yep, no doubt about it, feet. I was troubled.

With vigor, she massaged my back. I tried to remain calm, but the putrid gym sock smell grew stronger. I usually keep my eyes closed during a massage session. You know, for relaxation, but also in case the therapist is admiring my body or doing something I don’t want to see, like picking their nose. What? It’s a dark room, where certainly some secrets reside.

Nonetheless, I had to open my peepers. Need data. Need confirmation. The smell was mushrooming, and the room was small. I opened my eyes, and through the head cradle, I saw two enormous bare feet. Stench explained. Now, what do I do? I felt dizzy and anxious. Please, I don’t want to vomit. Did I mention I have a healthy fear of feet?

I fibbed to my massage therapist: “I think I’m ready to flip over to my back. My sinuses have been bothering me lately.”

“Sure, honey. Give me just another minute on this knot.” She dug in, using her elbow. I flinched. She roared. Literally. Loud guttural noises permeated the room, akin to the odor from her feet. She struck a rhythm with intense breathing, followed by a groan, culminating into a rich howl—the crème de la crème. Am I in the presence of Bigfoot?

“How’s that? Ready to flip?” she woofed.

“Yes. Thank you.”

She lifted the blanket, so I could turn over. As you may or may not know, most clients, myself included, are naked on the table. At this point, I was rattled. My nostrils were overcome with horrendous foot odor; I couldn’t shake the image of her gargantuan bare feet; and now the howling. What’s next? I breathed deeply, trying to overcome.

“You can turn over,” she yipped.

“Oh, yes. Sor . . .” Thud. Just like that, I was on the floor, naked as a jaybird.

She bent over to help me up, but her bare feet stared me down. We were on the same level now, and I was petrified. I locked in on her big toes, assessing they were the size of eggplants. I reached up to the table and grabbed the blanket. And, no, I didn’t use it to cover my naked toosh. I whipped that blanket over those monstrous dogs.



The barking had stopped.

This story was written by Tiffany Parson, environmental scientist and author. She lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and fourteen-year-old border collie. She's currently working on a novel and several short stories. Her fledgling website is

As I sat in the bar waiting to meet a friend from work, Mickey the white-haired owner of the place
pointed with pride to framed photos of celebrities who had visited the bar on various occasions: mostly politicians, local news anchors, and athletes. One picture looked familiar. “Is that Cher?” I asked.

“Nah, that’s Kenny Kovalesky. He’s a neighborhood guy that dresses in women’s clothes. He comes in on Saturday nights, drinks cosmopolitans, and wins money arm wrestlin’ guys that don’t know he’s a man.”

Continuing to scan Mickey’s wall of fame, I noticed a frame enclosing a sweat sock instead of a picture. “Does that sock belong to a famous athlete?” I asked.

“No, that’s Jimmy Dombrowski’s sock. He’s one of our regular customers.”

“Why is it framed?”

“That’s the sock he was wearin’ when Richard Nixon pissed on him.”

“President Nixon?”

“Yep, Tricky Dick himself.”

“How’d that happen?”

“Well, it was back in ’72. Nixon was in town reviewing damage from the Hurricane Agnes flood. Our congressman told him that I had provided food and drinks to the Red Cross after the flood, so Nixon wanted ta stop by, shake my hand, and get a couple o’ pictures since it was an election year. He thanked me for bein’ a good American, then asked if he could use the men’s room.

“He headed back ta the john with two secret service guys. I guess he really hada go ‘cuz he got ta the urinal before his guards completely checked out the place. So they didn’t notice Jimmy Dombrowski in the stall sittin’ on the hopper. Just then Jimmy flings the door open and comes outta the stall pullin’ up his pants and cursin’ about his hemorrhoids. That scared the hell outta the secret service guys and one o’ them throws Jimmy against the wall while the other one grabs Nixon to protect him. Well Nixon was in mid-stream and ends up squirtin’ Jimmy’s ankle.

“After they realize that Jimmy is harmless, Nixon said, ‘I’m sorry but these guys were just doin’ their job.’ Jimmy, still holdin’ his pants up with one hand, says, ‘That’s OK it was a nice change. Usually when republicans are in charge people around here get shit on.’ Nixon didn’t like that too much so he zipped his fly walked outa the place without even sayin’ good bye.

“When Jimmy told us what happened I said, ‘I never got a chance to get Nixon’s picture so gimme your sock and I’ll frame that instead. So there it is original stain n’ all.”

Mickey was off tending to another customer when my friend arrived. I asked him if he had ever heard the story of Jimmy Domrowski’s sock.

“Oh sure, lots o’ times.”

“Is it true?”

“I dunno. All I can tell ya is the last time I didn’t believe Mickey I lost fifty bucks arm wrestlin’ some guy in an evening gown.”

This story was written by Michael J. Moran, a retired university professor living in Alabama. Having left behind the writing of scientific articles and text books, he now writes short stories and flash fiction reflecting the people and culture of the anthracite coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania where he was raised. He is a member of the Chewacla Writers Guild. His work has appeared in such publications as Hobo Pancakes, Clever Magazine, and Midnight Circus.

I was literally born with a chip on my shoulder. Lay’s Dill Pickle. The doctors ate it up, literally. My parents at this point already knew they were literally in the deep end with me. It was a water birth. Everything’s been downhill for me since, literally, except for the parts where I went up hills.

My childhood was literally a train wreck. Luckily I survived, but I’ve been scared of trains ever since. Elementary school was a trial by fire, literally, and I got through it with only minor burns. Middle school was literally a whole different ball game: baseball. Though I wasn’t popular in class, I was a hit with the baseball team — literally one time, when the pitcher threw me instead of the ball and the batter knocked me literally out of the park.

High School was literally a different story, so I won’t talk about it here.

When I arrived in College I literally found out I was swimming with sharks. Fortunately, a nice woman heard my screams and pulled me out of the water before the sharks literally had me for lunch. When I looked at the woman who saved me, it was love at first sight — literally because she was blind before we met. We literally fell for each other right then and there, and someone else had to pull us out of the water before the sharks came back. Her name was Elena. She was smart, funny, considerate, and literally radiant — which was helpful when the power went out. Our romance was literally a storm, which drew complaints from those who had to ride their bicycles through our romance on the way to their class.

Elena and I literally tied the knot a year after graduation, and a year later we got married. We rented an apartment on the east side that was literally a hellhole, and I had difficulty gaining meaningful work. In the mornings and afternoons I collected minimum wage literally licking the boots of the literal big wigs. I didn’t have a dollar to my name, thankfully, but still literally only had $269. Elena literally had bigger dreams, so she literally left me.

She was literally the one thing keeping me together, and once Elena was gone my life literally became one bad break after another. And now I’m in a full body cast, with not much hope for survival. I’m telling you all this so that you won’t repeat my mistakes. Instead of living like me, do literally the opposite: be brave, stand up for those who are wronged, make a difference, take pride in yourself, and create something good that wasn’t there before. Do it all with a smile.

Hopefully these last words will help you live a good life. And now mine is over, and it’s time for me to shuffle off this mortal coil — metaphorically speaking, of course.

This story was written by Jordan Moffatt, a writer and improvisor living in Ottawa.

In 1939, tiny Hale, Connecticut nearly imploded due to its misguided attempt to stage a minstrel show festival.

Like many bad ideas, money spurred the insanity, as the town needed a shiny new fire truck with no funding available to purchase it. Minutes of the town meeting, indicate the following exchanges:

“We need a new fire truck.”

“Then let’s get one.”

‘There is no money in our coffers.”

“So let’s raise the money.”


“Let’s stage a minstrel festival, bring in all of the greatest acts in the country and charge people to see this wonderful indigenous American art form.”

“Okay, then all in favor of staging a minstrel festival, say Aye”


“All those opposed, say Nay.”


“The ayes prevail, now let’s gobble the cookies Mabel Swing cooked for us!”

Meeting adjourned.

First Selectman Cyrus Bee appointed himself the chair of Talent Procurement, lining up the Christy Minstrels, Gavitt’s Original Ethiopian Serenaders, Kunkel’s Nightingales and the Sable Brothers and Sisters.

Second Selectman August “Gus” Fleezer supervised the construction of the grand minstrel and exposition hall, relying on the generosity of town carpenters and loggers to build it.

Third Selectman Ram Stipulski was responsible for advertising and booze.

Taking on a life of its own, the festival sold out its tickets and Red Man Beer agreed to sponsor the event.

Then the advancing wave of history lapped at our heels, starting with the troublemakers and the pissants, claiming minstrel shows were objectionable.

This we had not thought about.

Outside agitators filed a lawsuit against the Town of Hale, seeking an injunction to stop the staging of this spectacle. At first the citizenry laughed at this attempt to quash our first amendment rights and the judge ruled that nobody, even outside agitators could stop our right to stage a minstrel festival; but then he hit us below the belt, agreeing with the agitators that we did not possess the proper licenses and permits to serve all the booze that we had bought. Plus the agitators picketed the Red Man Beer factory until its owners withdrew their sponsorship of the minstrel festival, changed their name to Red’s Beer and provide 100 cases of ice cold beer to the agitators. The festival promoter stole all of the ticket money that he collected and moved to Argentina.

Stripped of sponsorship, performance fees and unlimited beer, many of the prime acts announced that they were not coming to the festival, although once the town disowned the minstrel concept, Melanie decided to come. Drunk, the outside agitators burned down our monstrosity of a minstrel hall. The town then sued the agitators, and settled with them for enough money to buy that new shiny red fire truck.

This story was written by Don Hubbard.

He’d heard that things were usually hopping on Wednesday nights at Chez Moi. Since the bar was close to his new apartment, he decided to give it a try. He was nervous as usual going in without a wingman, but as soon as his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he slid onto a tipsy stool next to an even tipsier redhead who was swaying to an old Simon and Garfunkel song.

“Come here often?”

Jesus, Ted, talk about corny. You should just leave.

“Every single HUMP-day,” she replied with a wink. He could smell the Tabu, his favorite, wafting off of her.

Hmmm. Maybe I spoke too soon.

“Those your friends?” He nodded to the three boisterous blondes spinning quarters across their beer-sloshed table. They looked at him and tilted their heads in for a group giggle.

“Yeah, but I’m over twenty-one and free to do whatever.” Another wink.

“What ya having?”

“Martini,” she responded without hesitation.

“Can I buy you one?”

I hate friggin’ martinis, but what the hell.

“Sure, but I’d love to share.” Her leg nudged his. One stiletto heel dropped to the floor and her big toe snaked up his pant-leg before peeling his stocking down to the top of his shoe.

Larry said I don’t read social signals very well, but even I’m not so illiterate that I’d miss these.

“Barkeep! Martini, make it a double.” 

She drew the drink and his hand to her mouth. She sucked in his first two fingers for ten seconds and created a loud pop when the vacuum broke as she ejected them from her mouth. Her hand brushed his knee and headed north, way north. “Thanks. I’ve been wanting company.” She tonsil-hockeyed after his half-swallowed olive.

What a tongue. What is she, part anteater?

He surfaced for air. “Ahem. Wow.”

She threw back her head, yanked off the clip shackling her hair and shook out long auburn curls. “Wanna go to my place?” she cooed as she raised her eyebrows and waggled her tongue and the impaled olive up and down.

“Sure. Sounds like fun. By the way, what’s your name?”

“Hey, Buster!” She slapped his face. “Don’t get personal with me, you pervert.”

This story was written by R. Steven Heaps, author of The Rancid Walnut: An Ultrarunning Psychologist’s Journey with Prostate Cancer.

The tall, hungry-looking girl and the bird were being photographed together against the terracotta stone backdrop of the 17th century manor house. One was the focus, the other was the prop. One was all glamour, draped in aquamarine chiffon; the other was pecking in vituperation at the gravel.

“Amazing darling. Hold that pose. Give me more hair. Fuller lips. Great! Pull your top down a bit lovey.”

The skinny photographer lept around like a hyperactive spider. Around him, a tiny (but essential) entourage hovered, keeping out of both birds' way. They had all learnt early on that morning, where the safe zone was.

A maze of birdseed decorated the patio; it served as a lure for the peacock, with only partial success. The bird did his own thing. The model, who hadn't eaten in hours, kept eyeing the seeds hungrily. She was trying to work out how many calories there were in maize. The peacock drifted nearer to the valuable chiffon gown.

The model, nervous, on edge, shrieked, “Keep that bloody bird away from me can't you?”

“Think Karma darling, think Zen thoughts.” The photographer babbled on. “Lift your arms, like you're going to fly.”

Obediently the model lifted her stick thin limbs so that the chiffon fabric would appear wing-like, and would blow gauzily in the breeze. All was a vision of glorious aquamarine and turquoise glimmering in the sunshine until...

….the peacock, plunged in urgent forward momentum, aiming for the only bit of fat on the model, her juicy big toe, which was protruding from the sliver of shoes priced at several thousand.

Screams split the air, “Ow! It got me! That damn bird bit me! I'm going to need antibiotics in case I catch Ebola.”

There was some sniggering among the tiny entourage at that outburst.

“Great shot though darling, with you leaping up like that. Very energized.” The photographer commented. It was part of his job to stay calm.

The peacock, by now totally fed up with the carnival unfolding in his private domain, pulled in his own his own aquamarine cloak and mooched away to find his more tolerant mate.

This story was written by Alyson Faye, who is currently setting up a Wordpress blog site for herself and her fiction. She's on Facebook as Aly R, and has several pieces available online.

It happens every time I call my parents. Mom is watching TV in the den upstairs; Dad has skittered off downstairs to his Man Cave. When my call comes in, they always pick up their respective cordless phones simultaneously. At this point some parents would say, “I’ll hang up and let you talk to Mom,” or “I’ll pick back up after you’ve talked to Dad,” but no. They both stay on, one upstairs and one down. “All George needs down there,” Mom sighs, “is a half-bath and a hot plate, and I’d not see him again til Gabriel’s trumpet calls us to glory. Your dad’d float up and maybe we’d say two words to each other at the top step before flying off.”

To make matters worse they watch the news, which scares them to death. The first item they announce to me is the horrific global Report o’ the Day.

“Natalie,” Mom warns, “You know we’re not long for this world. The Arabs and ISIS is attacking. It’s the end times.”

“I don’t believe ISIS is after anybody in Bruce County, Tennessee.”

“You don’t never know,” Dad mumbles. “Hal went down to the post office other day and told Bobby they was a Arab-looking man in there handling mail behind the counter. We got to thinking about when they started that anthrax mess some years back.”

“We’re betting Bruce County’s going to have a bad anthrax problem before too long,” Mom says. “Hal wants to warn somebody about it but you know Kitty the postmistress had to take a rest at Shady Stone for bad nerves, so – ”

“So ain’t nobody to tell,” Dad interrupts. Then, as always, the subject is changed and I’m out of the conversation altogether.

“George, did you call the yard men?” Mom asks. “I’m looking out here at the front. All that mulch just laying around, it’s a eyesore.”

“I told you, Mildred, I ain’t heard nothing definite. Except Junior did call the other day, said they might have to put it off a week or two.”

“Put it off! I wanted to get that done today. When were you going to tell me about this?”

I try to ease back in. “Well, I hope y’all are enjoying this spring weather.”

“Junior and them got lots of jobs around here, Mildred.”

“You could have mentioned it. Here I was about to put makeup on and change into my good top, when you knew all the time they wasn’t coming.”

As I grit my teeth and listen to my parents interact for the first time that day (by phone in the same house), I wonder: how bad could anthrax be? Better that fate than being Raptured and spending eternity listening to such bickering. Maybe I’ll seduce the Arab working at the P.O., convert to Islam, get him to write me a love letter with anthrax enclosed, rub it all over myself.

Gabriel won’t even have to waste a precious trumpet blast on my lost soul.

This story was written by Ellen J. Perry, a Literature and Humanities instructor at A-B Tech College and UNC-Asheville. Her academic interests include 17th- and 18th-century British life and literature, Restoration drama, and Southern/ Appalachian culture. Ellen's short story "Milk, Bread, Soft Drinks" was awarded First Place in Fiction by the Bacopa Literary Review and published in their print journal (October 2015). Additional works of original fiction have appeared in Steel Toe Review, Deep South Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Gravel among others. Ellen enjoys traveling to the beach, dancing, reading, and playing with her stylish cat, Ms. Coco Chanel. For more information please visit Ellen's website at

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