Category: Fiction

Heroes and Villains

By Josh Darling

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Hearing myself snore, I woke. The ice cream truck’s muffled music penetrated the Tudor style walls of the living room. Outside, children spoke, shouted, and demanded over the looping circus theme. Other than ruining my life, why did the truck stop here? The ice cream truck driver knew better as did the neighborhood.

The whooshing of running water chased along the white plaster above me. He’d gotten in the “bath” by himself. From the angle of midsummer sunlight through the windows, he’d started at least an hour late.

Rising off the warm couch, I shivered in the air-conditioned home.

Footfalls pounded, moving away from the shower to the top of the stairs. He cornered banister. Andy, wet and naked, jogged down the stairs. His penis flopping against his thighs as his hairy gut jiggled.       

Yanking the front door open, Andy’s chunky flesh vibrated. He crossed his arms over his chest and stood legs spread –the pose of a superhero defending turf.

Moving up behind him, I replayed slices of what I’d learned in the mandatory Peaceful Restraint class. The truck was off center of the front yard. A hot summer’s day and the Pied Piper had the neighborhood lining up. Mixed in with the children, soccer moms clung to strollers.

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Vegetable

By Lara Katz

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            “Is it possible to steal from a vegetable?” I asked Timothy.

            “Of course it is,” he said, zigzagging his crayon heavily into the page. “If the vegetable’s got something and you take it, well, that’s stealing.”

            “So if I peel a carrot,” I said, “and I take away its skin so it’s good for eating, am I stealing from it?”

            “Of course,” he said, and began to peel the paper off of his crayon as though I had inspired him.

            “But do you think that’s immoral?” I asked. “The carrot’s dead already, it’s been picked already, it doesn’t care if you peel it. It doesn’t care if you eat it. It didn’t even care when you picked it.”

            “You don’t pick carrots, Dad, don’t be stupid. Carrots are dug up.”

            “You’re not answering my question.”

            Timothy looked up from his waxy drawing and frowned. “Why do you care?”

“I want to know what you think.”

            “Well then,” Timothy said, and picked up his crayon once more. “I don’t think it’s immoral. It’s stealing but the carrot didn’t care.”

            “Doesn’t care.”

            “Whatever. The carrot doesn’t give shit whether you peel it or not.”

            “Timothy! We don’t swear.”

            “We don’t. I do.”

            “Timothy…”

            He shrugged.

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Abdication

By L. N. Holmes

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It’s not Michael’s fault they made him the captain of the football team, even though he wasn’t the quarterback. They said he hit guys “like a Mack truck” and his coaches liked how fast he understood new plays. Eric, the quarterback, wasn’t too happy about it either, said so during halftime the last time they played their local rivals, the Hedton Hounds. Michael pointed out he never wanted to be captain in the first place. But if Michael was a Mack truck, Eric was a Volkswagen Beetle, and the other team members were a bunch of demolition derby cars.

Now everyone in his high school is campaigning and voting for him for homecoming king. He doesn’t even plan on attending the dance (he has to attend the pep rally, the coach won’t let him out of it). Michael has this theory that the knuckleheads he’s forced to call classmates think he’s rich because his mother drives him to school in a remodeled ’76 Stingray. But they don’t know his mother’s only love—barring her third ex-husband—is that Chevy Corvette and there aren’t many pennies put aside for things other than tire foam and glass wipes.

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The Octopus: A Fable

By Tushar Jain

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Pariya Tenammi suffered from a unique problem that became the source of all his misery. It was this that rendered his life a mess, turning it into a series of unfortunate heartbreaks unfolding one after the other. For as long as anyone can remember, whenever Pariya fell in love, seconds after, he’d turn into a gigantic octopus.

He was all of eight when it first happened. One humid August evening, his new neighbour, Nomi, eagerly tagged along with her mother to make introductions. Pariya, shy, withdrawn, approached the playful Nomi, close to his own age, with some caution and an extended hand. An ageless offering of friendship. So, when Nomi cheekily swatted away the hand and pulled Pariya in an embarrassing embrace, he was flushed with something he’d never felt before.

In a flash, the room turned into a cauldron of screams. The shrieks bounced off the walls and seeped into the carpet, lamps, everything, ensuring no one would forget that day all too easily. A bawling Nomi was hurried out by her horrified mother. She was sternly told to keep her eyes averted from the nightmarish octopus.

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The Mourning Doves

By Wendy R. Pierman

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I.

The mourning doves arrive in March. 

Three perch on the rim of the pool and drink from the murky, winter thaw. Fresh droppings from shiny, black grackles in nearby trees decorate the plastic cover.  In shallow water is a fragile chick, plucked from its nest, of no use to the flock.  

The doves preen, side-by-side, heads bent, up and over, twisted, reaching. Black beaks nip into gray-brown feather down stripping parasites from within. Wild eyes like round Onyx pearls dart right and left, blinking, blinking. 

Three mourning doves coo ooh coo, shuffle side to side then flutter up and onto the splintered deck rail near the window.  

Beyond the reflection of the rain-gray sky, a woman lies fetal-like on the carpet. Wrecked. Her body, under her sweater, twitches.

She asks, Who are you?

But knows.  

A man leaves, triumphant. Heavy shoes with rubber soles make no sound across the shiny, lacquered parquet floor. 

No need to shut the door after one has opened the floodgates to words like useless, failure, disgust. 

She should have remembered the dry cleaning. 

II.

They are at the door, the woman, the man, and the child. The man adjusts his golden cufflinks and checks his watch. 

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