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Blake Kilgore – Beyond Flickering Lights

Beyond Flickering Lights

It was a bitter cold December evening, and Officer Pierce wished he was home with his family. It was the holiday season, after all.

Soon he arrived at the scene, which had an ominously festive appearance. Blue and red lights flickered, reflected in the glass shards that covered the ground like a light dusting of snow. The crunch of his boots on the glass sounded like a stroll through a winter wonderland. But there was death here.

It was a dangerous corner, a turn that coincided with an intersection established long ago, when drivers heard hoof beats or the jingle of horse-drawn buggies, and paused, tipping hats and bidding good evening to neighbors they knew, not only by name or appearance, but by voice and words and deeds.

Officer Pierce had complained, but it was just this sort of curious merger of lanes that drew visitors, gave impulse to the wanderers who came here to reminisce over what they had never really known, but somehow understood was lost. The city council stonewalled, and his stack of accident reports climbed.

He looked beyond flickering lights; saw the rose encrusted crosses, the photographs of those who paid the ultimate price for sentimentality and carelessness. The paramedics were waiting for the Jaws of Life to disentomb the teenage boy’s body from the crumpled vehicle. They stood about, restless; this job was tedious, one of gloom. They were only here to testify to what already was fact.

The car had been t-boned, struck as it passed the intersection by a pickup pulling into the main road. It had been launched diagonally and flipped several times before slamming into one of the large oaks that lined the ambling country lane. The driver of the truck survived, having departed minutes earlier in another ambulance, its paramedics busy, hopeful for success.

Officer Pierce continued to survey the wreckage and finally saw the elderly man, leaning on the hood of his undamaged car, head in hands – a witness. He walked over to the man, waited for him to look up.

“Mr. Brogdon, may I take your statement?”

Moist cheeks and reddened eyes soon emerged from behind the shelter of his shaking hands. His voice was quavering, but full of conviction, agitated.

“I killed him!” Continue Reading »

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Dick Bentley – Out of Plan

Out of Plan

Jane was visiting her therapist for what she thought would be the last time.  Her health insurance provider had determined that Dr. Goodbody was “out of plan,” and Jane’s visits would not be covered.

Jane settled down on Dr. Goodbody’s sofa and talked for a while, explaining her circumstances; then she invited him out for dinner.

“Jane,” Dr. Goodbody said, “we cannot conduct a therapy session in a restaurant.  It’s unprofessional.  It’s….it’s….”

“…It’s Thai,” Jane said.  “It’s the new Thai restaurant on the corner.  We could have Pad Thai.  We could have Kanh Ko Mu if they’ll go easy on the garlic.  You may be out of plan, but we could still have champagne to celebrate.”

“Celebrate? I may be out of plan,” the Doctor said, glaring at her across his desk, “but perhaps we should discuss the possibility that you are the one who’s out of plan.  Your therapy has certainly not been completed.

“Wait,” Jane held up her hand, “your job is to listen to me and nod occasionally.”

“You’re out of all sorts of plans,” Dr. Goodbody continued angrily.  “You’re depressed much of the time.  Sometimes you feel sad, empty and tearful, do you remember?”

“I shouldn’t have told you that.  I was just trying to impress you.  I was trying to convince you I had a disorder.  Every personality trait is a disorder, you’ve convinced me.  If I so much as blink, I have a disorder, isn’t that right?  Blinking Disorder.  Or maybe B.A.D.  Blinking Anxiety Disorder.  And if I scratch my nose…”

“Therapy is arduous and taxing.  Only the dead are cured.  All right, if you insist, let’s go to dinner.”

“I’ll pay,” Jane said.

“Of course you’ll pay.  That’s how we maintain the therapeutic relationship.”

Dr. Goodbody followed Jane out of the room, switching off the lights.  They walked down the street, under the many windows of tall buildings.  They walked in silence until they reached Bangkok Bites on the corner.  As they were led to their table, the headwaiter gave Jane a wink she didn’t completely understand. Continue Reading »

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Kurt Hohmann – Best Served Cold

Best Served Cold

Maybe I should feel guilty. I don’t. She really did have it coming. But you know that.

Try the shrimp. That’s a wasabi crust; the dipping sauce is orange-ginger.

Where to begin? You know, things used to be really good between us. Effie and I were together six years. And up until the last couple months, everything seemed great. Sure, we had our ups and downs, like everybody, but we always worked them out. Until he came along.

You okay with me not using his name? Yeah, I figured you would be. It’s childish, I know, but I can’t bring myself to say it. It grates on me that much.

Anyway, Effie comes home one day and announces that her boss is dead and gone. Terrible thing. I’d always thought Grant was a good guy; he let her do her job and kept the bean-counters off her back. I guess he died in his sleep. Massive coronary. She was sure she’d have to look for another job.

Then he shows up. New boss, new routines. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. When Effie started putting in longer hours, I figured it was all part of the normal process. She had job security; everything was okay.

Taste this. Tomato bisque with roasted garlic and pesto. Amazes me how many people never move beyond the stuff in the can.

Most people in my position, they get some hint of what’s going on. But me? Totally in the dark till about two weeks ago. I hadn’t seen Effie for more than a few minutes in passing for three, four days, and thought I’d surprise her at work. You know, take her out for lunch, give her a short break. You can probably guess what happened. Continue Reading »

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Joe Giordano – Mustard Beer

Mustard Beer

Two dark-haired students wearing Brazilian-flag tee shirts undressed Jessica with their eyes. She tossed her red hair and turned her back on them. She’d arrived in Belgium from the States on Saturday, and this was her first day of a summer semester studying at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. The orientation for new and reentering students had ended, and she weaved through French and Flemish conversations. She was in the square outside the arched portico of the Tower Library, a Gothic, gild-relief building. The sky was gray-smeared clouds.

A sandy-haired student wearing wire-rimmed glasses and a pink tie spoke in German-accented English to a fellow with a three-day beard and flowing blond hair under a black ski cap.

The German said, “Read Kafka. The meaning of life is that it ends. There’s no God.”

Ski cap said, “That’s arrogant.” He had an East-European accent.

The German’s eyebrows rose. “No one can prove God’s existence.”

“True. But certainty is hubris.”

“So, how do you reconcile doubt?”

“Pascal’s advice. Believe in God; if you’re wrong, you lose nothing. Deny Him, and you risk everything.”

“Faith isn’t mathematical.”

“Do amoebas believe in man? We’re all around, but the amoeba’s tiny brain can’t conceive of us.”

The German bristled. “I don’t have an amoeba’s brain.”

Jessica liked the sparkle in ski cap’s blue eyes. She stepped forward. “Amoebas think that God’s an amoeba.”

Ski cap laughed. Continue Reading »

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Susan Monas – Mates for Life

Mates for Life

Parrots mate for life, I’m told. I don’t know how parrots show love, whether they crowd and peck, or groom and chatter with adoration. My parents pecked at each other in a partnership of endurance for most of their forty-five years together. My mother craved order, but my father loved a soiled nest, cluttering the house with newspapers, bus transfers, receipts, notes on napkins, Torah passages, and pamphlets from Jews for Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy. My mother forced him to take it all to a closet in the basement.

When we children had fledged and flown away, my parents sought new shelter. Their overheated one-bedroom in a subsidized high-rise, where the odors of curries and sofritos wafted through the hallways, offered no basement and no room for his clutter. Like a bird gathering twigs and leaves to construct its nest, my father gathered magazines, newspapers and letters along the walls and piled beside the couch. Dust-balls hovered like cumulus clouds around the litter, a noxious environment for two weary birds. My mother, beside herself, screeched, “I can’t keep up. “Why can’t you clean up after yourself?” Order had never been his priority. She exhausted herself tidying their shared space and grooming his toes and finger-nails, those hard sharp pointed claws. She felt captive in his clutches. 

When they met, he had charmed her with his good looks, big brown eyes in a round face. Fond of the Big Bands, he’d swing to Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie. He’d break into song and croon with Frank, “Fly Me to the Moon”.  My mother, shy and awkward with herself, won him with her tall and bosomy body. He wanted sex. She wanted security. Basking in the shine of a diamond ring on her finger, she ignored his admission that once, at sixteen, he had swung so low he put his head in the gas oven. He was the man who could fly her to the moon. Continue Reading »

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Kathy Buckert – Deviled Feast

Deviled Feast

In keeping with its name, this meal gives a devilish dose of mayhem – until the aroma of forgiveness infuses every heart within the home.

Makes a family size serving
Total Time: Nineteen years to marinate and one night to complete


  • 1 spurned ex-daughter-in-law
  • 1 bastard son who was unaware of his status
  • 1 woman diagnosed with Stockholm syndrome
  • 1 Mafioso lover who was also an ex-drug addict
  • 1 loving husband who had a vasectomy
  • 1 bad ass pastor
  • 1 informed daughter
  • 1 SWAT team

Preheat: To a steaming, sweltering, and scorching temperature

Combine: The blending of two or more food ingredients to create a mixture. He slashed girl’s faces for disrespecting him. He killed seven men. I was coerced through fear to engage in sexual relations with a man who claimed to be in the mafia and who had been clean from drugs for two months, a lethal combination. I became his drug. As much as crack surged through his body giving him undeniable pleasure, so did I. He would not let go of my sacred space. He would not let me breathe. I was his hostage.

Toss: Uses a lift and drop method. The food is turned over and over again enabling food to be seasoned with the flavors of each item. After months of verbal abuse and threats against my family, I grew to love this man. My therapist said: Stockholm syndrome. My faith, the only remnant of my former self, made me evaluate the depths of my desire for him. I knew I could not go on. I had to fight back. I needed normalcy again. Toss in a 6’3” biker with tattoos covering his strong, muscular arms, who just happened to be my pastor, and the scare tactics began. He didn’t like someone messing with one of his parishioners, so he went to the restaurant where I worked with my lover. When his Harley Davidson rumbled into the parking lot, patrons looked out the window. When he walked in the door, every eye was on him. When he asked to be seated in his section, the hostess trembled from the command in his voice. When my lover approached the table, my pastor’s only words after he asked him to sit: “You mess with a girl in my church and you will pay.” I surmised he intimidated him because my drug addict Mafioso lover backed off after a week of screaming in my answering machine, “You ungrateful bitch.” Continue Reading »

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Patricia Donovan – Fred and June

Fred and June

I didn’t want to go that day, but my mother said we were lucky and had to give back.  I was fine with just being lucky, but she was feeling all do-goody and dragged me to the church where they were handing out cleaning supplies and clothes and old people in World’s Best Grandma sweatshirts were drinking coffee and telling kids to keep it down.  In the kitchen, a lady loaded our summer cooler with hot food coming off a big silver stove.

We were runners, she told us; our job was to deliver meals to the beach, where the storm had hit hardest.  At the barricade, I thought it was cool when the National Guard checked off our names and waved us through, but my mother didn’t think it was a list you wanted to be on. These people are in a bad way, she said, driving slow around curbside mountains of trash.  “How’d you like to throw out everything you own?” she asked. 

I was too busy holding my breath to answer; our car stank from the egg sandwiches in the back.  I thought I was just keeping her company until we got to a small white house boxed in by walls of sand, its front door sprayed with a bright orange X.  My mother double-checked her paper. “That’s it.  44.  Fred and June.”  From the back seat she stuffed egg sandwiches, bananas and bottled waters into a plastic bag and shoved it toward me.  “Go on.”  Continue Reading »


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