Mr. Payne's daughter. He told her I interpret dreams.
I remember the conversation. Six months ago? Mr. Payne brought his extra garden vegetables and helped with the cost of fixing the long driveway from the main road, which we share. "I don't know how to reciprocate."
"Always give away the extra. People leave zucchini on the church steps." He laughed.
He cocked his head at me and I imagined how he flirted years ago. I nearly laughed at what he might be thinking. "I've written some books on dreams. If you or a family member ever has a nightmare and you want some help, I'd be happy to answer your questions."
He nodded, his thoughts locked away, the country way.
"What's your name again?" I ask.
"Laura. It's my daughter Jenny that's got the nightmares. Can you help?"
"I can try. How old is she?"
We agree on a day for them to come by. I'm retired, not licensed in this state. I tell myself I won't be doing therapy.
When they arrive, Jenny doesn't want to come inside. Her mother steps into the living room while Jenny takes a seat on the rocker on the porch. A moment later, from the window, I see her get up and bend to stare between the spaces of wood floorboards.
"She's afraid to sleep," Laura says. "Every night, she wakes me up. I can't have it."
"What's troubling her?"
“No trouble. She’s got nightmares. Can you make ‘em stop? I can’t have it.”
The blue smoke hung like a ghost over the shallow Platte River-the smoke of five or six tattered old men and two young guys, one a bit older and better conditioned to the nomadic life, all choking desperately on long butts forgotten on the bank. You could stare straight down the sandy linings and see the very end of it. It was finite; progression marked by short bridges patching the rift between the sides of the small valley. In the yellow streetlight glow of the city above it and faint caress of the moon and stars, the smoke seemed to collect and mold itself around a figure; everyone's projection looked different. The oldest of the men saw their children, all grown up and distorted with daydream approximation. Others, their wives and friends and parents long gone, youthful reveries of comfort and jovial fraternal discourse. They sat and looked, mesmerized by their own smoke-wrought ghosts, silently recalling the sad stories of the lives they had left at the other end of the tracks. A Pacific Freight train thundered overhead. The ragged men had prepared two or three times for the jump, but couldn't commit. It was never too close to the city, or a security guard would see. The anxiety of it all made action nearly impossible. Then, or never at all, they deposited themselves just before the small crater of the Platte- just one stop before the train depot that would have been their demise. They were lucky too: the worker bees were prowling the tracks tonight. From inside an apartment window overlooking the bounded cityscape, bisected by the Platte, a young woman saw the bees propelled on motorized carts. The beams of light from their flashlights looked an awful lot like stingers. And when that light fell on you, boy, you felt the sting.
The old men were escaping the finality of the lives they had already forged in other cities and states. "I bet there's good work on those tracks" resounded against the enormous sound of the locomotive. Weak nods and hopeful chuckles followed. The young kid stole away to find more butts along the nearby trail, uneasy about being so close to the depot. The other kid joined him. He sensed that the older men needed their silence and revelry in the new life, and left as to not disturb their needed meditation. They introduced themselves briefly when the older kid hopped on the car. His name was Tyler; the other's, Max.
A Romantic Comedy with a bold Native American twist.
by RA Winter
Karen left home, leaving her family and dreams behind. She returns only to sleep with Richard, a man who could end her career. Enter Grandfather, who raised his granddaughters the Kiowa way. He needs his heritage to be passed on to the next generation. Grandfather takes one look at Richard, and decides to put him through the trials. No one courts his granddaughters unless they were worthy.
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The News Factory
by Matthew Abuelo
The last book by Matthew Abuelo focuses on the quickly disappearing New York which is being white washed by gentrification. Most of the poems and short stories focuses on specific tenants of an SRO building along with some homeless people who once held a higher status before disease and financial problems hit. There is also several references to disappearing New york City institutions such as CBGB.
By Tara Ruddy
He scraped it out of the tin at one in the morning and put the filthy bowl on the floor. They came running. He threw the tin on the floor with the rest of them. His only friends were his cats and he had hardly left the house except to stalk Ciara's house in the early hours of the morning. To say he had let himself go would be an understatement; his beard was down to his belly and his hair down to his ass. Anxiety prevented him from going into town to buy clothes. He didn't really care anyway. The house was piling up with clutter and rubbish and he could hardly get through the rooms. His days were spent sleeping and his nights, watching porn. That would all change after tomorrow. Tomorrow he would finally have her. He would catch her when she came home from work and bring her here. The attic would do for now and then she would fall in love with him like all the rest of the women who developed Stockholm syndrome that he'd been googling. It had been planned for months but he'd had to put it off due to nerves. He was staying up all night tonight as he worried he wouldn't wake on time.
Ciara sat at her desk and refreshed her Facebook newsfeed again. Still nothing new. It was almost six o clock and time to go home. She brushed her long blonde hair away from her face and sighed. She looked over at Aisling and sighed again;
"She's so skinny, that bitch. I can't wait till I lose another few pounds." She thought.
She was perfectly thin herself. After what felt like forever, everyone in the offices started to leave and Ciara packed up her stuff and walked out the door. She drove home but when she was almost at her door, William grabbed her arm and shoved a wet napkin against her face. She became more and more limp until finally she passed out. He scooped her up and carried her to his van, roughly laying her down in the back seat. As he was about to take off, his windscreen shattered;
"Let her out now!" A man screamed
William panicked, drove over the man and drove the five miles back to his house. He hoped that he had killed him. Carrying her up to the attic was nearly impossible. On finally getting there, he laid her down on the bed and handcuffed one of her hands to the headboard. The attic was the only room in the house that was spotless clean. He had done that for her. He would do so much more too. When the chloroform wore out she woke up.
The publisher was little nervous; so was author Frederick Donovan.
After his breakthrough bestseller, the next five mystery novels came easily. All were set in New York City, Frederick's home, because he thought the city offered an endless source of plot lines and fascinating characters.
The publisher was spoiled; Frederick was always ahead of schedule, sending his manuscripts weeks before the contractual deadlines. However, the seventh novel's manuscript was due in five weeks and wasn't close to completion.
His writing efforts the past two months had been merely a series of fits and starts. Frederick conceptualized several promising plots and prepared his customary outlines. The first fizzled out after twelve thousand words…the next after five thousand…the next after three thousand.
Frederick's characters, normally vivid and interesting, were dull, lifeless, and unexciting. He unconsciously repeated events and locations similar to those in his earlier novels. He began boring even himself by writing scenes set yet again in the city. Frederick finally recognized and accepted the obvious: His writing was stale and becoming formulaic. He'd burned out on tales of big city murders, rapes, and other lawlessness. He closed the Word document, not bothering to save it. His fourth draft was going nowhere. He needed a change of scenery, new locations, and perspectives to re-ignite his creativity…somewhere drastically different from New York City.
Excited by the revelation, Frederick left his study and walked to his bedroom. His girlfriend, Priscilla Kaufman, was already in bed, reading the latest issue of The New Yorker.
"Prissy, I think I've figured it out," Frederick said.
"Did you finally stumble on a decent plot?" Priscilla asked, not looking up from her magazine.
Frederick ignored her sarcasm.
"No. But I know what I've got to do to come up with one."
"Oh?" she said, flipping the page.
"I've got to get out of the city for a while. This place is just not working for me."
"You mean that New York City, the most exciting and vibrant city in the world, isn't working for you? You need to get your head screwed on right and get busy."
Kelly Cherry’s tenth work of fiction delivers twelve compelling stories about women of the American South. These are women struggling to find their way through the everyday workings of life while also navigating the maze of self. From a young woman’s nightmare piano lesson to an elderly woman’s luminous last breath, Twelve Women in a Country Called America takes readers on a journey sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always enlightening.
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Get Serious: New and Selected Poems
by Jefferson Carter
"So much depends upon Jefferson Carter, Hero of the Humiliated, Mensch of the Unmentionable. No longer can we shun the rumor that he is indeed the long-awaited love child of Rimbaud, Jim Morrison, and Sarah Silverman, such is this poet's unerring irreverence."-William Pitt Root. Jefferson Carter's Get Serious: New and Selected Poems has been selected as a 2013 Southwest Best Book by the Tucson/Pima County Public Library.
By Mara Buck
She danced on the table in the back room at Max's, when everyone simply called it Max's. She was living on luck and a smile and stuffed her Mexican hemp satchel with all the free wings and ribs she could wrap into the red cloth napkins, each progressively faded from the industrial laundry. She amassed quite a pile of the things and always intended to use them at Christmas, but Andy Warhol had wiped his mouth (maybe his mouth?) on those napkins, and they morphed into a sacred stash in a back closet of her apartment. Elora was fond of Max's and was equally fond of her place in history. She was a scholar of her times.
"Hey, baby. Whatcha drinking?" Long-haired, hippie-rocker type. They always fell for Elora's hair. And tits. The two important attributes for any single woman. Elora had existed on tits and hair for many a moon.
"Singapore Sling." She giggled a bit at just the right point. "Healthy, ya know. Mostly fruit, right?" None of the guys ever realized she could drink anyone twice her size under the table. Another useful attribute. She accepted the tall glass with a wink and popped the cherry between her teeth. "Let's dance, honey. Janis is on the box."
Actually, Janis herself was probably in the back room with Andy and Mick, but Elora really didn't give a hot damn. Every night she'd tank up at Max's, hoard all those buffet goodies for later, fill her pockets with chick peas to feed the pair of gerbils she kept in the bathroom, bum a few joints, and make it home before last call. Then she'd write and paint, listen to the gerbils race on their little wheel, gaze out the apartment window at the twin towers rising, and figure the status of the universe. Elora's brain was even bigger than her tits.
Times were tough in Fat City and the landlord found increasingly-creative ways to circumvent rent control until, laden with chick peas and a napkin full of chili, Elora found an eviction notice stapled to her apartment door early one morning when she staggered home. Her door was a decoupage of beauty --- posters and peace signs and album covers --- and the stern white paper had no place in the midst of such heartsblood creativity. She ripped it down, but a fresh notice appeared every morning, like the swallows returning to wherever they return to or like roaches immune to the latest insecticide. Elora had lived with roaches for a long time and didn't give a fuck for swallows.
I cleared my throat before reaching out of my red silk comforter to grab the iPhone buzzing on the windowsill. It was five o'clock Thursday morning. An agency staffer, Jane or Kate or Nancy, congratulated me with game show enthusiasm on being chosen for the latest project at the Mefison advertising firm in midtown. She told me to report at eleven o'clock that morning. I jumped up on my elbow as my eyes scorched in the sunlight seeping through the wood-paneled blinds.
"I can't start this morning," I said. "I have this family trip to Niagara Falls I planned weeks ago. Monday's Labor Day. Can't I just start on Tuesday? Isn't that when the rest of the world is going back to work?"
"Oh, it shouldn't be a problem," the whiney voice assured me. "You've worked for Mefison before and they love you. I'm sure they'll let you start on Tuesday. Just let me double check and someone will get back to you shortly."
"Sure," I said before ending the call.
"It's looking better," I told Jon.
"The burn?" he asked from beneath his blue sham with his eyes still closed.
"Oh," I said, stroking the tongue-shaped grease burn on my right arm from the night before. Stevie had wanted French fries with mayo at home and I'd neglected to dry all the water drops in the skillet before heating the sunflower oil. One scalding grease tongue leapt from its pool, staining my arm. I slathered Nivea cream over the bubbling sting before lifting the dead skin off my arm like a sausage casing. I told Jon what happened when he slipped into our bed at midnight.
"The burn's looking better too, but I was talking about work."
"Mefison wants you back?" he asked, yawning.
"Yes," I said, picking at the bubbles of dead skin on my arm. "The agency's just checking about my starting when we get back from Niagara Falls."
"Sounds great," said Jon, cracking open his glass blue eyes. He ran his tapered fingers through his mouse-brown hair and yawned again, more in boredom than exhaustion. He strained over to kiss my lips then snapped back as though the left side of his body were harnessed by a web of rubber bands. As he sprung off his side of our bed, I knew he was relieved I would be going back to work soon. I hadn't worked since the abrupt ending of my last gig at Mefison back in June. But that was over and today was a new day, I told myself.
Society creates the stories it tells itself: factual, specious, apocryphal, or dishonest; by any rendition, according to Wallace Stevens, it will still be a fiction. Myth wears the clothes of its culture, will always be a social fact, and those who would eschew these basic facets of humanity, will prove themselves the poorer. Truths are to be found in Myths, even if Metaphorical. This is a book of Mythopoesis - Mythoi, by verse. Visit Marvin Welborn's website: Tink's Chapblog
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Phoenix Element: Normality Twisted
by Jennifer "Next Jen" Kibble
Normality Twisted is the first book in the young adult adventure series, Phoenix Element. In this first installment, our soon-to-be-hero discovers that she has superpowers, and can teleport. On top of that discovery, Anya learns that she is on her second reincarnation and has an alien entity inside of her.
What Was on His Smartphone?
By Kristopher Miller
Sam sips his coffee while looking at his smartphone.
Then he starts chuckling. The smartphone shakes in his hands. He drops his coffee cup. The cup shatters all over the floor. The mug shards dot the floor while the steaming hot coffee flows freeform in different directions.
Then he starts cackling. As he cackles, Sam rips the smartphone apart piece by piece. He throws the pieces all over the place. People look up from their breakfast.
"What is this guy's problem?" a customer asks.
"I think I'm going to get my rain check," another customer murmurs.
"Just ignore him," a customer tells her husband. "I'm sure someone will escort him out the door."
Sam's waiter walks by and asks, "Uh, sir? Excuse me? Are you all right? Please stop laughing and calm down."
But Sam continues to cackle.
"Sir," the waiter says again. "Stop laughing this instant or I am calling the manager-"
Then Sam grabs a glass full of ice water and smashes it over the waiter's head. The waiter screams in agony as glass embeds his face and eyes. Then Sam takes a fork he ate bacon and eggs with and jabs it into the waiter's neck. The waiter gurgles blood out his mouth as Sam cackles and stabs him repeatedly with the fork. Blood covers Sam's face as it spurts out with every jab wound he makes.
Blood flows from the dead waiter as Sam gets up. He drops his gory fork on the floor with a clatter and cackles as he walks. Customers get out the way as Sam leers at them while cackling nonstop.
Sam kicks open the restaurant doors as he cackles. A homeless man sees him and says, "Hey sir, can you spare me some cha-?" but Sam drives his thumbs into the homeless man's eyeballs. Sam's cackling muffles over the man's screams as Sam gouges out his eyes. Sam tosses his head back and cackles as he lets the homeless man fall dead on the dirty sidewalk. A woman walking her dog screams in horror. A man drops his morning latte in shock.
Sam keeps cackling as fresh blood drips from his hands. He walks in the middle of the street. Several cars screech and brake in front of him. Sam cackles as people beep their horns in anger.
A policeman stops by and gets off his motorcycle. He holds his hand out at Sam. Sam keeps cackling and walking.