Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tuesday Evening

By Richard Shewmaker


The skin on my feet turns whiter and peels more every day because my feet are always wet at this shitty job. I stand by the deep sink and scrub pots or I load the dish baskets and slide them into the dishwasher. While I stack the clean dishes on their shelves and the clean pans on their rack over the cooks’ line I get out of the inch of standing water in my dishwashing pit, but that doesn’t take long enough for my shoes to dry. I tried wearing boots, but that was worse. Try wrapping your feet in rubber for eight hours a day, and you’ll learn what I mean.

On the way back from delivering a stack of pots, I grab a fillet knife from the prep station and stab it to the handle under the ribs of Pedro, the line cook. “What are you looking at?” he snarls. I go back to washing dishes.

I snap off one of my apron strings and use it to garrote Chef Jean. He crowds me against a table and pushes a dinner plate at my face to show me a spot of dried egg yolk. I cringe and am overpowered by the itch in my wet shoes. I grab the plate and smash it over the head of Adrian, the grill cook.

Johnny, the smug busboy, I drown in my sink full of gray water.

Heather and Buffy, the interchangeable waitresses, I lure into the walk-in freezer and snap on the padlock so they’ll freeze or suffocate, whichever comes first.

At 3:30 on Wednesday I’m back at work and my socks are already soaked. Maybe today I’ll get a chance to kill the son-of-a-bitch owner. Pedro throws a big saute pan into my sink, splashing a gallon of water down the front of my shirt.

Mister Bowman comes through from the dining room. “I need you to work tomorrow night,” he says, “Gary called in sick.”

“Okay,” I reply. I bash his head again and again with Pedro’s saute pan until blood and brains mix with the water on the floor.

“Be here on time,” he says.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Snowman in the Sand

by Tim Tobin 

Everywhere the Snowman looked he saw sand, infinite sand. The sand surrounded him, 360 degrees of sand. The sand shifted under his feet making walking difficult and running almost impossible. Sand blew into columns and pillars as high as the sky. The wind carved canyons half way to hell. And then they were gone, replaced by some other grotesque shape. The wind was the Great Sculptor, whimsically carving the desert into camels and oases that were real and then illusions.

Far, far to the west the Snowman saw the peaks of mountains. A snowman in the desert doesn’t have a hundred years, but even if he did, the Snowman could never reach the mountains. To the north lay a great ocean. An ocean where the wind does to ice what it does to sand in the desert. He would be safe there but the ocean was also unreachable in a snowman’s life time.

The Snowman peered eastward. Green pastures lured him, meadows of flowers called to him and cool streams tempted him. He would last longer there but only marginally. Finally he look to the south. The Snowman couldn’t hear them yet, but his pursuers couldn’t be far behind. He was on foot; they rode in vehicles with immense tracks that floated on the sand like hovercrafts on water.

If the Snowman stopped here to rest they would catch him and he would melt. The sand would become wet with his blood of water.

Just then the Snowman heard a sound on the desert breeze. A mechanical sound prodded him to resume his flight into desperation. “Hide!” the Snowman told himself. Behind a dune, in a valley, up a pillar, anywhere the Midgets couldn’t see him in the desert.

His charcoal eyes scanned the vista seeking, searching, for … anything. There was nothing. The sun poured liquid fire on him and he already felt loose. He was melting, alone, desperate in a foreign world. The Midgets were only minutes away. They would howl in glee as the sun reduced him to two pieces of charcoal, a carrot and a pipe.

First came a brief salvation. The breeze turned into a wind and then into a hurricane-force gale. Hundreds of tons of sand blew across the arid landscape. Valleys filled with sand and towering sand sculptures turned into gentle ripples in the sand. The hovercraft became engorged with sand and then stalled. Victims of the desert, just like the Snowman.

The storm momentarily, at least, blotted out the yellow and orange sun. The Snowman survived a little while longer. Like him, the Midgets were now on foot. The odds were almost even.

Except they had blowtorches. Fiery hot, the torches could melt metal. The Snowman would be a memory in seconds. Again his fear turned to panic. But the storm had leveled his hiding places. He was three hunks of snow standing in a desert. Even a scorpion could see him.

And at last the Midgets did see him. The Snowman ran for his life. The Midgets had him so they no longer hurried. There were five of them and each carried a smoking blowtorch, its flame struggling to be free to search out the Snowman and melt him into the sand.

As the Snowman struggled in the sand, the five Midgets surrounded him, blowtorches at the ready. The Snowman spun in a circle, watching the horrible mouths of the torches, waiting for the spray of fire that would finish him. Would he hear their glee, he wondered? Would the fire hurt?

The Midgets rejoiced in the Snowman’s capture. They taunted him by firing a blowtorch close to his head. They tortured him by burning holes through the huge chunk of snow that was his torso. They knocked the hat from his head and burned it to ash. The carrot was cooked well done.

The Snowman had been hit five times and lay melting in the sand. The sergeant looked down at him with his torch still smoking. Why a snowman would volunteer for an army of snowballs in the desert, the sergeant would never know. The relentless sun had begun to drive the Snowman mad almost immediately but he would not quit the service. His eyes were the worst problem and no thickness of charcoal ever soothed him. When he had finally deserted, the sergeant had no choice but to bring him back. Too bad the Snowman had resisted.

When the snowman had finally melted into the eternal sand, the sergeant gave the order, “Forward, Roll!” and the snowballs returned to their base.


The Nondenominational Tourist

By Matthew Dexter

The man was enjoying his vacation so thoroughly that after pontification, he decided it should never end. In the lost decades which followed he found seven Mexican wives, lost all his teeth, burnt out his lungs, gave up frozen margaritas, took up warm-aged tequila, and pitched his tent on a different beach every evening. In America he was considered odd and unattractive; south of the border he was exotic as a mermaid. He made love to currents, dreamed of buying a sailboat--though he knew his finances and decrepit credit rating (all three scores) would weigh down his sea-drenched catamaran until it was no more than a leaky kayak. The man understood all too well that his consumption was nothing more than delusions of grandeur and a fledgling case of tuberculosis.

He was shitting in the warm starry moonlight. He cracked open a bottle of Casillero del Diablo wine stolen from Mi Casa Restaurant from a disillusioned busboy in exchange for a small gram of marijuana and a large rock of cocaine. This defecation of Australopithecus was sleeping inches from a sandy used tampon and a rusty needle. He never got pinpricked--so it did not bother him; the crabs are a different story.

The wives and mermaids wax as he pops his warts with a sombrero. Alone tonight, he busts most of them--the large ones anyway--pus slithers down his shaft. A good man despite his misery, as pigeons listen, a survivor howls amid the pain of the nightly procedure.

Familiar with fishermen, drunken captains often indulge him on sunset cruises.

    There is an uninhibited island that enchants him in the Pacific. Rocky and rough, he fantasizes about being immersed in this oasis. They say it´s too dangerous to land. He will prove them wrong; knows it’s only a matter of time, and luck. The stratosphere is his overturned hour glass.

The man gambles his wine for a fine lady tourist searching for her hotel in a nervous stupor; ends with another mediocre whore with an enormous mouth that never closes; legs always open; scabies and hairy, she chews on the man’s mustache during negotiation. As if studying the menu of a steakhouse after a month of Ramadan, unfastened bloody stained blouse, she exposes herself like a lobster trapped in a cage. Lost in the labyrinth of tent fabric, they become the moons of Jupiter; a gassy planet orbiting the sun.

As the crabs bite and fish fall from the sky, crimson bodies dripping lust for something neither can understand, embracing the carnal ecstasy already fading, they ride the already cresting atavistic wave to shore, unsure of the outcome as always.

He ends with a boat; she a crack pipe stuffed with wet rock, four bottles of wine, and a varicose spider nest of throbbing misery. Grinning toothless, she amuses the nipples of the nondenominational man and hands over the keys of the panga. The man does not bother pulling up his pants; tripped by shredded khakis, he rips them from swollen ankles, gives them to the woman, her fluorescent lighter aimed at the Big Dipper. The zipper hits her in the cheek, doesn´t faze the beast focused on her rock as if it were a hidden constellation: Ophiuchus.

His satellite is the decrepit boat tucked into the cove. Hers is the melting yellow snow of paradise. Both avenues are escapes in their own. The woman disappears. The man hits rock on his island, guided by the waxing moon. The panga sinks within minutes, so weakened by butt cheeks of women. The man swims to shore with crabs.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


BY J.S. Watts
“The very nature of life is to be random,” the lobster argued eloquently. “A sentient observer gathers a collection of unlinked, linear events and arbitrarily strings them together, calling them a chronology.” The lobster preened his whiskers with his claw, admiring his reflection in the highly polished wine glass opposite.
            “But”, said his dining companion, trying to inject his own thoughts into the conversation.
            “No buts”, said the lobster firmly. “This is how it is. The fact that we create recognisable patterns from chaos and call it life is both our victory and our undoing. I’d say ultimate undoing, but that would imply a directional flow which would undermine the obviousness of the lie of cause and effect.”
            His dining companion remained silent, staring morosely into his soup plate of half consumed lobster bisque.

            He lay full length on the couch.
            “Please continue”, said the psychiatrist.
            “But I really miss him, you know: his blue eyes, his ruddy complexion, the sublime eloquence of his arguments and his fervour. Oh, how I miss his fervour! Dining without him has lost its appeal and, quite frankly, Doctor, I don’t know what to do.”
            “Do you feel your life has become random and without purpose?” the psychiatrist asked, but the man was too busy crying to answer.

            The analyst stared thoughtfully at the lobster crouched half under and half out from his leather couch. It was a very fine lobster: ruddy carapace, large meaty claws and the best set of whiskers this side of a cat.
            He wondered what to do with it. There was no rush. His next client wasn’t due for another forty minutes. There was plenty of time, but how to fill it? That was the question. The lobster wasn’t helping much. It was just crouched there; half under and half out from the couch. It looked beautiful, elegant and highly edible. If only it had been a sheep.

            It was a young sheep, little more than a lamb really: clear eyes, soft white fleece that looked like it had been hand washed lovingly in the softest Dreft and the cutest pair, two pairs really, of little black hooves. It was so innocent, so perfect, he couldn’t help himself.

            Afterwards, as they lay down in the hay together, he found himself wanting to tell her all about the others, to make a clean breast of it, so to speak, but he couldn’t bring himself to sully such sublime Arcadian bliss. Perhaps he should take her to the city: the theatre, maybe and then a fine restaurant. Over lobster, cooked to perfection and a glass or several of the very best champagne, before the arrival of the meat dish, of course, he would tell her all about himself and what had passed before. There was such calm and placid order in the depth of her clear, dark eyes that he was sure she would understand.
Cats and Other Myths, the debut poetry collection by Pushcart Prize nominee J.S.Watts, is published by Lapwing Publications. 88 pages of poetry that finds contemporary relevance in the echoes of myth and legend and the mythic in the day to day world around us. ISBN 9781907276644.Website:
Find the writer J.S.Watts on Facebook:

Two Bills

By Chris Conroy

Two men meet in the park.  It’s not a planned meeting.  They went out for a jog and when they were done, they both sat on a bench in the park, across from one another, about fifteen feet apart.  They were friends in High School but have not spoken in years.  They see each other—they know—but pretend they don’t.  One unties and ties his shoe lace.  The other plays with his wrist watch.  They are both named Bill.  A couple walks between the two Bills.  They’re eating crispy slices of pizza.  The man stops.  The woman says something to him.  He puts his hand on his chest and collapses.  His pizza crust tumbles from his hand when he hits the ground.  Pigeons battle for it.  The woman drops to a knee still holding her slice. The two Bills watch this for a few seconds and then stand up.  They take out their cell phones like two dueling cowboys.  They punch in 911 and move towards the downed couple.  The woman pulls a stringed whistle out of her shirt and blows it.  The sun reflects off it; a glittering crucifix in her pursed lips.  She blows again.  A policeman on a bike wearing a helmet speeds up to her.  The two Bills back away.  They take pictures with their cell phones.  The cop and the couple and the pigeons.  Click.  They’re too close now not to talk to each other.  That would just be weird they think.  At least now they have something to talk about.
            “It’s been awhile.”
            “Sure has.”
            “That was something, huh?”
            “Tell me about it.”
            “He looked fit.”
            “He did.  Really.”
            “Bad diet.”
            “You never know.”
            “I thought you looked familiar.”
            “Small world.”
            “So, how are you?”
            “I’m teetering on madness.”
Sirens sound.  An ambulance rolls up and the crew hustles out. 
            “What is it?  The madness?”
            “Birds.  In my head.  Chirping.  It’s constant.”
            “You’re kidding?”
            “I wish.”
            “The volume.  Does it go up and down?”
            “It does.”
            “And at night?”
            “The worst.  I can’t sleep.”
            “I thought I was going crazy.”
            “You hear them, too?”
            “It’s horrible.”
The EMTs are gathered around the man like a swarm of ants.  They pound at his chest and hand each other medical devices.  They count: “three, two, one” and try—several times—to bang life back into him.  They wipe sweat from their pimpled faces and foreheads.  The woman who was with the man is smoking a cigarette.  She extends her bottom lip when she exhales.  They were supposed to go to the circus.  It was their third date.  They hadn’t had sex yet.  She liked him and carried a whistle because she was deathly afraid of dogs.  She was ripped apart when she was fourteen by her neighbor’s mutt.  The doctor told her to always carry a whistle after that.  The whistle had her name and birthday engraved on it.  It was real gold.  Her father bought it for her.  It made her feel safe. The deep scar went from her right hip down past the back of her knee.  It healed well.  You had be a close friend, her lover or in her family to see it.  The dead guy didn’t even know she carried a whistle.
            “I think he’s dead.”
            “Sure is. You never know.”
            “So, besides the birds…what else?  What are you?”
            “I’m a urologist.”
            “Isn’t that something.  So am I.”
            “Get out.”
            “Are you married?”
            “Divorced.  No kids.  Remarried.”
            “Same here.”
            “Come on.”
            “Small world.”
            “We should get a drink some time.”
            “We should.  We should catch up.”
            “Do you still play the guitar?”
            “Come on now, Bill.”
            “Time.  It flies.”
The two Bills say goodbye without shaking hands.  The ambulance drives away.  The woman puts her whistle back inside her shirt and calls her father from her cell phone. The sun changes shadows on the ground.

Bill’s second wife is naked on the bed when he comes in the room.  Her legs are spread wide and she’s working a tiny vibrator over her clitoris.  Her other hand is pinching her left nipple.  Her hair is wet from a shower.  CNN is muted on the TV.  Bill walks up to her.  He pulls his shorts down to his knees.  His legs are hairy and white and weak.  He grabs his limp cock and works it in front of her face until it’s hard.  His head is killing him.  She stares at his cock and smells him.  He waits for her to come.  She comes with her eyes closed.  He jerks off harder, faster.  He cups his hand out in front of his cock and ejaculates into it.  He makes a fist over the hot semen.  He grabs for the tissue box on the nightstand.  “No,” she says and grabs the box, “let me.”  She takes out a tissue. He opens his hand and she cleans it. “Thanks,” he says pulling up his shorts. 
“How was your jog?”
But he’s already in the bathroom.  He opens the window and stares out from the 66th floor.  Chirp.  Chirp.  Chirp.  A gust of wind blows his hair back and, with arms spread like wings, he steps up and out of the window.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Fat Blunts and Slutty Women

By Grant Wamack

Dear Rich,
     Last night I ate a rapper. I know it sounds strange, but it's true. You can check the facts if you want. There's probably some DNA strands embedded in my shit. Disgusting, I know.
     I found him walking down the street rapping that rapper stuff. You know, the money, hoes, and clothes stuff you hear all over the radio. I knocked him out with a steel frying pan and dragged him inside the front door under the cover of night.
     He smelled like a pungent mixture of fat blunts, dead presidents, and slutty women. Just thought you would like to know.
     The kids were sound asleep and so were you honey. So I knew I had to be real quiet like. Mouse. Cat. Old people. Take your pick.  I was all three and then some.
     I tossed the rapper on the table with a small thud. It was actually quite easy thanks to some workout videos I picked out last year and some key supplements. Then I took a butcher knife and chopped him up real quick like.
     It was crazy bloody. I got some fluids in my hair and bits of flesh on that yellow summer dress you bought me for our last anniversary. I considered cooking him but none of my pans were big enough for the job so I said fuck it. Yeah, I know ladies aren't supposed to cuss but I'm a lady with an edge. Metaphoric of course. That's why you married me instead of that goodie two shoes who lives down the block.
     Just like sushi I ate him raw. I applied liberal amounts of wasabi and Tabasco sauce to add some flavor and I downed a few cups of bone marrow afterwards to finish off a satisfying meal. I felt a little bad that I didn't wake you up and share, but I thought your sleep would be more important than my late night snack.
     All that remained were hollow bones, a little viscera, a fat ass gold chain and some rings.
     I slid the rings onto my slender fingers and put the chain on my neck. I have to admit it was kinda heavy. I wanted to feel like a rapper. It felt good.
     I gave the leftovers to the neighbor's dog who seemed to like it just as much as I did.
     I woke up the next day late. You already dropped off the kids at school and I assumed you went to work.
     Everything seemed the same. Drool hanging out the side of my mouth. Eye boogers in my tear ducts. Hair all over the place as usual. The only thing that was out of the ordinary were my thoughts. They all rhymed. I couldn't help but think of raps. That five finger ring, gold chain rap.
     So I said a few and they sounded great.
     I tossed on some clothes and felt this urge to take out a sucka emcee.
     I went outside scouring the streets of our safe and serene suburb for any rappers who dare cross my path. I finally found a couple of acne ridden teenagers and accosted them.
     “Yeah I rap,” this little snotty ass Eminem wanna be said. Then he spit on the ground. “Nice tits.”
     “Yeah wish you could feel these chump, but I bet your balls aren't any bigger than a cancerous lump.”
     He looked at me dumbfounded. Then he began trembling like a poorly constructed house caught in a raging hurricane. He fell to pieces, sobbing on the sidewalk.
     “'s true...every single word.”
     His friend gave me dap, closing his hand around mine as if it were a secret gesture.
     “I make beats. You should come over to the studio and we can make an album.”
     So I did. I sleep in the basement with rats and other creatures. Sometimes I give the kid a blow job from time to time so he'll be happy and let me stay for free. He actually has a pretty big cock. It's juicy too. Besides that, I write raps all day and record them at night.
     We released a few songs on youtube. My newest song is called “Fat Blunts and Slutty Women.” I think you would like it. Plus, it  has over ten million views on youtube.
     A couple record execs called me up and invited to fly me out to talk about signing a deal. Isn't that great? All of my dreams are coming true and I'm going to be rolling in the dough in no time.
     I hope there's no hard feelings. Tell the kids I said hi.
     Melissa Sawyer aka the baddest bitch.


BIO: Grant Wamack writes weird fiction at night and works for the Navy during the day. He has been published at Flashes in the Dark, Everyday Fiction, and 365 Tomorrows among other places. If you would like your mind blown please visit him at