Thursday, February 23, 2012

Business As Usual

By Robert Mynatt

      You go into the office with anal beads, you know, shoved up there. Someone starts talking about spread sheets, then quotas to be met next quarter, then what the color for the company's summer picnic invitations should be, then an argumentative, point-by-point run down of the marketing advantages of using this software over another, all of which you're drowning out because there are anal beads shoved up your ass and the only thing you can think of is a). does anybody notice you squirming in your seat and b). would Joelle from accounting date a guy who recreationally shoves anal beads up his ass. It's a microscopic feeling, in which you become suddenly more aware during business meetings.
        But I mostly use anal beads as a way to keep myself awake in the 9-to-5 after long nights of speculating investments, i.e. a promiscuous and, I believe, precocious love life, and leveraging resources, i.e. drinking enough to ensure my liver won't recover for at least several years. I came into work one too many times late, tired, sore, or all of the above, and my boss has yet to see the advantages of his employees climbing the social ladder at clubs and bars, but I think he'll come around.
         One morning, after a night of after-hour accrued collateral interest, I went to take my standard five-hour energy shot when all of a sudden this naked Korean investor in my bed says, 'Those are so unhealthy for you. You might as well just stick anal beads up your rectum to stay awake.' I know she meant it as a joke, but I thought it might be a sign to experiment with my portfolio in expanding methods to wake me up.
          So she hands me this string of what I imagine is a five-foot-long, neon-blue, polyurethane anal beads, which I promptly used to shove up my sphincter. Before you know it, I'm wide awake and bushy tail, ready for the most brutal and bloody hostile corporate takeovers.
         I must warn you, for those who might want to try it, there will be a little bit of blood, you know, the first time. Real standard, nothing to go to the doctor or anything serious like. The blood goes away after awhile; you just need to optimize your seating position and adapt. Trust me, there are probably only five different positions you can put your buttocks in without those anal beads irritating the shit (literally) right out of you.
          The only down side is that each time you put the beads up there, well, it expands your rectum, and eventually it doesn't keep you awake. No, you have to keep increasing the size for optimal efficiency. I've acquired a tolerance to the anal beads. I can no longer stay awake at the office without anal beads, but I think I've gotten to the point where regular beads just don't work anymore. I've had to upgrade about five times, and now I use beads that are almost as big as the circumference of the rim of a coffee mug.
       I read an article about goldfish being able to survive in the anus of sturgeons for five weeks, so I think I might go to the pet store and buy me one. I'll let you know how it goes.      

Bio:  Robert is a college student. His friends nicknamed him Mumbles because he never learned how to annunciate. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rag Tavern

By  Andy Griesenauer


Their pores reeked of stale misfits.  Little mind is paid to how they arrived there or why they stood there.  Yet they huddled in masse, leaning into each other’s silences, a give and take of thought and hunger.

One broke away and moved left.  It was unannounced and uncelebrated, a movement equally calculated and shadowed.  Before One, a long, concrete portal shot straight ahead, inviting a restless corpse to lay its body down and sleep for a while.  One had nothing but time.  

Simple sleep is always the best sleep.  One ducked around inside for a while, searching for a place to hang One’s head.  Behind Door #1: Endless blue.  Where the ocean ended and the sky began was up to the discretion of the viewer.  Splashes of wind tussled greens rocked rhythmically on the sands of time.  Behind Door #2: forks, spoons, knives.  A doorknob being twisted at 5:10 p.m.  The thuds of footsteps from above and around.  The sink is claustrophobic.  “Honey, did you bring the chicken?”

One walks towards that with color.  The door opens and the scene turns to black. 

Two witnesses the peril of One and offers advice.  One has become Two.  Two sits up and moves somewhere new, a place where eyes are blinded and recall nothing being seen.  This has also been referred to as heaven.

Sidewalks lead to another door.  A sign above:

The Time is Now

Tick-tock. Tock-tick.  Tick-tick. Tock-tock.  Bong.  Back and forth, sideways swaying, the walls are lined with clocks and numbers.  Was Two supposed to be somewhere?  Some of the big hands move faster than the small hands.  That one over there is screaming 4.  But his sister over there is chiming 1.  Was Two supposed to be somewhere? 

It led to a headache.  A pounding distortion.  An overwhelming annoyance that assaulted the senses and threatened well-being.  Two must escape and find shelter.

“Four!” Getaways are all the style.

Four ran toward some place heard about in tales from late nights.  Wishing well.  Drop a coin in, pull a hope out.  Thank you for your transaction.  Four to a corner of a circle.  Necks craned down into the vast abyss.  It has been minutes waiting for a sound, a “clink”, a confirmation. 

Four decides to make some noise.  “HELLO!”  “CAN YOU HEAR?” 

S          I           L          E          N         C         E

But the fog began rising, crawling upward, framed by the chute.  Four moved its head up, turning away from the smoke, seeking anything but betrayal from the star splattered sky.  But no march could beat away the intoxication.  Four fell asleep on the ground.

Four awoke to a Thousand.  A Thousand met a Million.  A Million was frightened to look.  They all looked the same.  Mirrors.  Everywhere.  Walls.  Ceiling.  Floors.  “I’m scared!” “Help!”

A cry in unison.  A great division.  You’ve heard it before, right? 
“we are all one”

Their pores reeked of stale misfits.

BIO: Andy Griesenauer is currently a student at the University of Missouri.  He can usually be found buried beneath a pile of words.  Or at Jack in the Box.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sour Pinch Of Summer

By Jamie Grefe   

Floyd and I had unloaded the last of the furniture from the van into the garage, thirsty . . . oblivious. The returned tables, lamps, and chairs were stacked in the far corner, right where she had told us to put them. There was a door in there, led inside. I grabbed the key from under the mat, where she told us it would be. We were itching for that complimentary drink. It wasn’t everyday that you could enter your boss’s home when she wasn’t there.     
     “Freshly squeezed lemonade in the fridge, boys,” she had told us, “help yourselves when you’re through with the load.”
     It was a beautiful house, clean, but stunk--sour milk or bad eggs. We should have turned back right then and there. How were we to know, though?     
     “Probably the old hag’s dirty laundry,” Floyd said. “That or her leftovers.”
     “I hope it’s not her lemonade.”
     Down the hall was the kitchen. All of the cupboards were white. I grabbed two plastic cups from the dish rack by the sink, Floyd went to the refrigerator for the lemonade pitcher. The refrigerator door opened. Floyd must have swung it wide on his way down. Just like that, he was skittering backward on his elbows, pushing away, and pointing at the fridge.
     That’s when I saw it, too--can almost still see it now.
     It was a fleshy ball of earlobes, eyelids, puckered lips, and fingers all blotched together in a ball. The fingers, thin and pink, curled down, dangled from the middle rack, each one tipped by a clear, sharp nail. The thing huffed slow like it was sleeping or something. Eyes shot open.
     “What the--,” but Floyd would never finish that question. It happened quick. I dropped the blue cups to the floor, heard them bounce, skid around my feet. The thing was chomping on Floyd’s face, gnawing, digging into him, while his whole body shook and writhed. It was snarling, biting . . . and those nails . . . I couldn't help it, started to cry.
     I grabbed a kitchen knife from the dish rack. Flustered, didn’t know what to do, threw myself on top of Floyd, shut my eyes and let my arms go to work, stabbing up and down, harder . . . harder. When I snapped out of it, the only thing I could see was the knife sticking out of Floyd’s mangled face. What was left of his face was broken with bloody holes, torn skin, flesh-puddle of goop. The thing was gone.
     I scrambled to my feet, and there it was--the other one.
     I felt lunch lurch up my throat, took steps back, skin prickling. The thing was seven or eight times the size of what was in the fridge. It was ambling down the hall, a flabby mass of plump toes, a giant blob of fat, covered in curly brown hair. Some kind of wild animal, I thought, or worse.
     My back slammed into the open fridge, must have bumped that lemonade pitcher too hard. It slipped down beside me and spilled all over the floor. I couldn't stop screaming, gripped the knife like a sword. The hairy thing pounced almost all of it’s body on Floyd’s chest--those toes, hair like fuzzy feelers, sniffing at his remains. Then it came out of his mouth.
     Three long fingers rose from Floyd’s open mouth. The little thing had been rooting around inside his skull. That heap of earlobes, lips, eyes, and fingers, slid up, stretching and ripping open the lower part of his face, and stared at me with all those eyes blinking fast. I wanted out, imagined running right past. But, just as I was about to dash, a strange miracle of sorts happened.
     See, that lemonade had been making its way across the kitchen tiles and just made it to the tip of one of the fat one’s hairy toes that still touched the ground. With that little brush, as liquid hit skin, I heard a squeal like the shriek of a pig.
     It was the lemonade.
     Toes twitched, hair stiffened. The big thing tried to scuttle backwards, away from the liquid, tried to balance itself atop Floyd’s body, was too clumsy. I reached down, picked up one of those plastic cups, threw, and knocked it right in the middle, or thereabouts. The thing tottered, slipped, and fell right smack into the spilled lemonade. When that thing hit the lemonade, it began to bubble, the rank odor tripling in stench, hit me hard. Puke flew out of my mouth. Under all that hair, I saw fleshy bubbles form and pop, fizz and pop. Something was happening.  It was swelling, was gonna burst. I heard the little one start to make the most awful weeping sound. It’s eyes turned to me, sets of lips parted to reveal sharp white teeth, and it flew up. I stuck my arm out and watched it dive right into the outstretched blade. I spun, rammed the thing into the open fridge, slammed the door to muffled squeals. 
     I bolted, ran back down that hall, out into the garage, into the van. I just sat there for a second, trying to breathe, trying to wonder what had happened, just rocking back and forth. I thought I heard something explode, splat from inside the house. Didn’t matter. Floyd was gone.
     When I told them, they ridiculed my delirious imagination, even tried to pin the disappearance of Floyd on me. His parents left town two months later after the tabloids picked up on the story. People in suits kept me under watch for a while. I told them all what I saw, took a lie detector test. I told them about the lips and toes, about Floyd, the knife, and about the lemonade, how it saved me. They never found Floyd’s body or any trace of those things. There never was a crate, they told me. My boss, a pillar of the community, denied everything.
     I ran away two months after that, without Floyd.
     It was summer. 

Jamie Grefe lives and works in Beijing, China where he clutches his Craven A tin with a grip of steel. His written work can be found here: