Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Defining Even

By M.J.Iuppa the beginning, her talk was small– nothing too serious, mostly about horses, about pleasure riding in the country, seeing fields & woods through the optical illusion of two perked ears.there, on a back of a horse, she found balance. 2. sync– that is, in sound & harmony, the juicy suck of giddyup, the even clomp of hooves. 3. music to her ears & everyone agrees. 4. an evening hour of bliss, her coon cat curls in her lap & purrs, poor world, poor world. the next day he disappears. footprints zigzag on the hood of the neighbor’s red corvette. he’s left her a note about her cat. 5. in her mind, loss is the thunder of ice heaving on the lake. she can’t make its steady pounding stop. she watches the red corvette parked on the street. 6. still missing. she buys a five pound bag of sugar. 7. hands that can handle a horse’s delicate mouth peel back the sealed sugar bag, uncap the gas cap, and pour, clean & even. 8. inside she hears the muffled choke & gasp of the car’s engine. she peers through the crack in her curtain. small drama. the door slams. the tow truck arrives. 9. she smiles. this is getting even. she hears a low yowl and a slow scratch on the back door.
Copyright ©2015 M.J. Iuppa.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.

Note: This story was originally published in Quarter After Eight.

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M.J. Iuppa   lives on Red Rooster Farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Most recent poems, lyric essays and fictions have appeared in the following journals: Poppy Road Review Black Poppy Review,Digging to the Roots, 2015 Calendar, Ealain, Poetry Pacific Review, Grey Sparrow Press: Snow Jewel Anthology, 100 Word Story, Avocet, Eunoia Review, Festival Writer, Silver Birch Press: Where I Live Anthology,Turtle Island Quarterly, Wild Quarterly, Boyne Berries Magazine (Ireland), The Lake, (U.K.), Punchnel’s; forthcoming in Camroc Review, Tar River Poetry, Corvus Review, Clementine Poetry, Postcard Poetry & Prose, among others.  She is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College.  You can follow her musings on art, writing and sustainability on

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Like Venus

By Michael Koenig

Jade and I consummated our love for the first and only time on a blood stained bed in a safehouse in Juarez, once considered the most dangerous city in the world. Paco insisted on referring it as a budget hotel, though it didn’t appear on any of the maps they handed out repeatedly to the few tourists that remained.

A few minutes earlier, Jade had sent her boyfriend away to buy more cigarettes and summoned me into their room. This was the moment I’d been living for the past three months, that and the money. My head was spinning as I tried to summon up the concentration to fuck Jade properly. I was drunk and dirty and spent from jerking off in the car, and the safehouse was the loudest place in the world. I kept telling Jade to keep quiet, thinking about some other girl to goad myself into cumming. She squealed as I pulled out my firehose and dribbled a load on her back.

Seconds later, Paco knocked as he was entering to ask us if we needed more towels. I rushed to cover myself. Jade just lay there like Venus.

Wonderful, she said. Just wonderful.

I was never sure that Jade liked me until she saw me with a gun. Two days earlier, back home in Minnesota, two people had died, ostensibly by our hand. I’d known both men forever, or at least chatted with them every day, and didn’t feel a damn bit sorry, because I’d never intended to do anyone any harm. I really only wanted the money.

I’d been a loyal-enough employee of Associated Allied for more than 20 years, and resentment had settled in my belly like a heavy breakfast. All I knew about the company was everything, and yet I was required to bow and scrape to younger men with a haircut and an Ivy League education.

My plans for fixing the situation remained largely theoretical until I met Jade at a bar called the Hide-A-Way. She flirted over to my table to get my extra chair, the one I was resting my coat on, and triumphantly presented it to her boyfriend. Soon their conversation spilled over to my table. They were arguing about the split from some robbery they’d temporarily gotten away with. The liquor led me to explain how Associated Allied receives large shipments of cash from the branch offices every Tuesday. I’d pretend to be scared while Hal tended to the hostages, Ben would grab the money and Jade would perch at the guard desk, giving him the whole five-day forecast. The job would be easy, and we’d make a million at least.

When the big day came, I inserted a gun into my waistband to make I got my split, and when my friend Larry came creeping up behind Hal I fired, then shot Sam when he was foolish enough to chase us. It was easy, easier than asking out a pretty girl. And after a brief stop to pick up our clothes, we piled into Hal’s car and headed straight for the border. I insisted on carrying the money.

Three days later we arrived at the safehouse. Paco greeted us at the door, rambling on about the local attractions like an autistic concierge. We hated the way he looked at us, a full-bellied dog begging for food. I handed him fifty cents to carry my trash bag full of clothes to the room. He told us he had family in Chicago.

We aint from Chicago, I replied. The idiots laughed.

That night, I left most of the money in the hotel safe. Paco warned me not to put anything too valuable there. I told him it was just a bunch of old paper.

Once the liquor had served its purpose, Jade and I returned to our bed. I was too drunk to check on the money. The best part was seeing Hal’s reaction as he skulked off to the room he and Ben were now sharing.

I made a halfhearted pass; too tired.

I slept until five in the morning, when the combined police forces of two countries came knocking at our door. We were sure it was Paco who turned us in; later we found out Jade had left her cell phone at the bar. They shot me first because I had the temerity to pick up my gun, then shot Jade as she tried to get away. Blood squirted onto the lens of my glasses, rendering me temporarily blind. I was wounded, but otherwise fine. Jade kept wandering down the hall, leaving a hemoglobin trail to remind herself of where we’d left the money. Hal and Ben got away, for three days at least.

The cops asked Jade and me where the money was, then gave us a ride to the hospital. People are always so kind when you’re bleeding. The doctors made heroic efforts to save her. They wanted to know where the money was too. I told the police the truth, that I’d been duped, and they allowed me to testify against the other three. They’re on death row, waiting on their own special day.

The cops never did find the money. It was the one thing that kept me alive, throughout my five-year ordeal.

As soon as I regained my freedom, I returned to Juarez to settle my business with Paco, in violation of my parole. People said he now owned a large tourist hotel. As soon as I saw his bodyguards, I realized I’d never get back my money.

Where the fuck is my money?, I said to the smiling fat man sitting behind a fat man’s desk, teeth crunching fistfuls of hard candy. Paco pretended I was joking as his bodyguards swept me out with the offer of free drink tokens.

I sat at the bar, soaking in bullshit margaritas drowned out by tourist mariachi, trying to get up my courage for the ass-kicking that was soon to follow. And then I headed back to my room.
Copyright ©2015 Michael Koenig.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.

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Michael Koenig is a writer, editor, and designer in Oakland, California whose stories have appeared in recent issues of The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, Hardboiled, and the Paterson Literary Review. His work has also been anthologized in Awake! A Reader for the Sleepless (Soft Skull Press) and The Shamus Sampler 2, an international detective fiction collection.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Curvatures for Afternoons

By Peter Baltensperger

It was in the Gallery of Chimeras high atop Notre Dame Cathedral that Gisli Rathor could have met the man who might have changed her entire life, but the gargoyles were much too disturbing with their grotesque bodies and distorted faces. Hunched in the four corners of the gallery, they kept staring at her from dead eyes, strutting their frozen humps, their weathered limbs. Gisli didn’t quite know where to look, although the River Seine far down below provided her with some relief. She wouldn’t have paid much attention to any man, even if one had been there. The gargoyles were more than enough deformed masculinity for her mind.

She went to Venice by herself and treated herself to a gondola ride along one of the quiet canals. She watched her reflection in the calm water and was surprised that it wasn’t the same anymore, even though she had taken plenty of photographs of the gargoyles and the chimeras. An Italian gelato in a café along the canal made her forget where she had been. She knew when to let go, despite the fact that she held tightly on to herself wherever she went. She only trusted herself, even when it rained. It didn’t rain much in Venice. She hadn’t brought an umbrella, only her camera, to remind herself.

And then she did meet the man in Rome, in front of the Coliseum. They were taking the same photographs from the same spot, then went inside and took more identical photographs, the way vacations sometimes go. They couldn’t agree on what it meant, or on the significance of the ruins. Gisli only knew that she was there and that she was accumulating visual proof of her being there. Little else mattered. The sun was shining in vain, the pigeons cooed to themselves, the ruins reflected what was and what had once been. The man was at the center of her universe, at the center of the amphitheater of her mind, and she had a photograph to prove that as well.

Up in her hotel room, they found themselves caught up in a whole new turbulence far from the sacred stillness of the ancient ruins. The clock on the wall turned itself upside down, making it difficult to keep track. They could see the River Tiber from their window, entwined as they were. It still didn’t make any sense. Gisli kept trying to listen to the waves to keep herself anchored to herself, only to lose herself over and over again underneath the upside down clock, in the darkly mysterious shadows of the man.

Somewhere in some other universe, the waters of the Seine and the Tiber and the Venetian canals poured into a giant lake full of primordial reflections, ancient memories, fragile thoughts. Gisli saw her face in the lake, transformed beyond anything she had ever seen, and she still didn’t understand. Perhaps her photographs would help, if she ever managed to get back to herself again.
Copyright ©2015 Peter Baltensperger.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.
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Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His latest book is a collection of flash fiction, Inside from the Outside: A Journey in Sudden Fiction (available from Amazon). His work has appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their four cats.

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If you enjoyed this story, you might want to also check out another story written by Peter (Nocturnal Tableaux), published on this site in October 2012. Nocturnal was republished in Peter's aforementioned anthology Inside from the Outside).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Señor Gordo

By Terrance Aldon Shaw

Señor Gordo is never not hungry. Little cabron’s always complaining about it, and, of course, I’m the one who has to sit there and listen to him 24/7.


“Man! It’s been six whole months—”




“Whatever! We never go anywhere.”


“Aw, Geez! Don’t start with that again.”


“You thinking about joining the priesthood or something?”


“At least I think—”


“—therefore you suck,”  Señor Gordo laughs at his own cleverness. “What’s the matter with you anyway, Mr. I-know-what’s-best for everybody?”


“Like you can’t figure it out?”


“How come we never go out anymore, jeffe?”


“Maybe because you’re always embarrassing us.” I say.


“—or maybe because you’re always thinking too much, El Gran Cerebro!”


“Well, somebody has to. For Pete's sakes! I’m not the one who practically splooged on that pole dancer’s hooters in Omaha. They were gonna call the cops for crying out loud!”


“Ha! Good times! Good times!”


“Are you kidding? I was scared shitless. Did you see the size of that bouncer?”


“Did you see the size of that stripper’s titas? Besides, we could have taken that doorman—no problemo!


“See, there ya go—”


“C’mon, amigo! All I’m saying is that maybe you should try pulling your weight a little more.”


“I pull plenty of weight. I carry you around, don’t I?”


“You’ve got serious issues, dude. Lighten up a little. Try and have some fun—Hey! Remember that Portuguese chica at that diner in Texas? Mui caliente, no? Why didn’t you try talking to her?”


“Here we go—”


“The mother wasn’t bad either. Ay! Madre que me gustaria coger! I’d have loved to—”


“What? Do the two of them together? That bitch would have cut off our balls and served ‘em up in the soup of the day if she even thought we’d looked sideways at the hija—”


“C’mon, man! Where’s your spirit of adventure?”


“—besides which, that muchacha was only fourteen—or didn’t you notice? Talk about adventures! You want us to end up in prison—in Texas?


“Better that than in the priesthood. You going maricon on me, bro?”


“What is it with you, Gordo? I just can’t figure you out sometimes.”


No es dificil, jeffe. All I want is to have some fun. Is that too much to ask?”


“How did we ever end up together like this? Me, a pasty-faced Swede from Minnesota; you, a loudmouthed verga from Jalisco who talks like the second-coming of Cheech, joined at the groin like trans-ethnic Siamese twins because of some massive cosmic bureaucratic snafu—”


“You think you got it bad? You should see the poor baboso from Guadalajara who got stuck with your lily-white pinga!”


“—Geez Louise! It’s like a scenario for one of those braindead sit-coms on Fox—”


“—starring Señor Gordo, with Jessica Alba as the Beaver!” 


“—more like being in hell, stuck together for all eternity.”


“Well, it’s not hard to see who gets the better end of that deal!”


“Says you, Cerebro Pequeño.”


Chingate, gilipollas! You’re just a stick in the mud.”


“And you’re a lousy excuse for a cock!”


“You tryin’ to start a cock fight with a Mexican,  gringo?”


“The point is, that whole thing about dicks having minds of their own is just a silly metaphor—a convenient excuse guys use to behave like—well, for lack of a better word—dicks. It’s not a real thing. You’re not a real thing—” 


“—says the culero loco who talks to his own pollo.”


“You’ve messed up my life, gotten into my head, embarrassed me, alienated every woman I’ve ever been interested in, and forced me to wear flesh-colored condoms for Pete’s sake!”


“Hey! Don’t go putting no globitos on me, man! That wasn’t my idea—no way!”


“—Can you blame me for being just the slightest bit frustrated? Can you see how all that would possibly—”

“Whoa, dude! D’you see the April centerfold? Ay ay ay muchacho! I am in loooove!

Copyright ©2015 Terrance Aldon Shaw.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.

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TERRANCE ALDON SHAW’s current project is a collection of “mature literary” short fiction (50 stories ranging from 50 to 3500 words) entitlted The Moon-Haunted Heart. He blogs, and shares the occasional story at Erotica for the Big Brain. Among TAS’ other titles are the anthologies Six Erotic Tales and Kiss-Off the Devil (9 Short Stories). On-going endeavors include The Erotic Writer’s Thesaurus (With Notes on Usage). Contact TAS at

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Black Dog

By Kurt Newton

A boy went down the block, door to door, asking those who answered, "Have you seen my dog?" He held a printout of a mutt--black coat, floppy ears, droopy eyes. Smiles were smiled, heads shook, advice was offered, but no one had seen the pet.

The boy continued on to the poor side of town. Even fewer people answered their door. Some even warned him he shouldn't be out by himself, and where were his parents? None had seen the dog. The boy thanked them just the same and continued his search.

On the outskirts of town the boy came to a trailer park. He knocked on doors that rattled like dog cages. Sometimes his knock wasn't heard above the volume of the television inside or the loud voices shouting at each other. Again, those who answered offered no help.

The boy continued along a narrow road that led to a string of mansions, each buried deep in the woods. At the first mansion an older man answered a fancy sounding doorbell. He seemed not to hear the boy when shown the picture and asked about the dog. Instead the man stared at the boy as if he were made of gold. "It's getting dark," the man at last spoke. "You must be hungry. I have cookies and milk. I could make you a sandwich. Why don't you come in?" The man stepped aside to let the boy enter. The boy walked in.

Soon after the door closed, screams could be heard, but no one heard them because of the mansion's remote location. Not long after the screams ended, the door opened again and out walked a dog--black coat, floppy ears, droopy eyes. The dog traveled back the way the boy had come. He was home before dark.

Copyright ©2015 Kurt Newton.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.

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Kurt's stories have appeared in Weird Tales, Dark Discoveries and Shroud. He also has a flash piece in the upcoming return of Weirdbook.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


By Emily J. McNeely

The Greek Galleon put in near Peragua on the Ile du Roy. Captain James set out in the launch with Greene, Castle, Kirkpatrick, and Mr. Dobson, the purser. They brought the spices for Piney and letters of introduction. Piney knew Captain James well, and in fact, had seen him and his crew not three months earlier, when they stopped for water. Unbeknownst to Piney, they had also come to drop off a certain lockbox for safe keeping. Piney had recently gotten word that a Navy brigantine was seen running down the Malabar Coast looking for James and his ship and he was under no small amount of pressure from the Crown to report on James' activities. Consequently, he was not in a generous mood.

When they arrived at Piney's estate, a honey-colored servant girl with large brown eyes brought them into the waiting hall and bade them wait. They waited for an hour. Captain James was pacing. It was never a good sign when the Captain resorted to pacing on land.

Mr. Greene was the first to speak. "Captain James, if I may, sir. You could send Dobson and myself to collect the...canvas...while you and the others wait for the governor."

Captain James stopped his pacing and eyed Mr. Greene carefully. He looked at Mr. Dobson, who knew nothing of what went on among the higher officers and was at the moment picking his nose. He made his decision and nodded at Greene. Mr. Greene collected Mr. Dobson and they left the manor.

Greene and Dobson walked down the long road and came into town half an hour later. Mr. Dobson was aware of the lockbox's existence but he was not privy to its location; only Greene and Castle were trusted with that information. Mr. Greene planned in advance to arrange to have a letter sent back home and had found his opportunity. He might not get to leave just yet but he could surely send word.

Greene pulled Dobson into the Fille D'Or, Peragua's main drinking hole. He sent Dobson off to order drinks with the barman and called over another patron to his table.

"Listen, friend. I've got two pieces that could be used to post a letter to Father George, if only I knew a friend who could do it for me," said Greene in a low voice.

The other man, a native looking fellow with an older style Navy uniform nodded and stuck out his hand. Mr. Greene handed him a sealed paper.

"I'll drink with le fille again tomorrow in the evening," said Greene, and looked down at the table. The other man left without another word.

Mr. Dobson came over to the table a minute later with two pints in hand. "Oy, Greene, you best be payin me back for these 'ere pints. I ain't made o' silver y'know.
Mr. Greene nodded. "Aye, Dobson, you're safe with me."


It was well past dark by the time Dobson and Greene made it back to Piney's manor. They went up the long walk with the lockbox in hand, and the same servant girl let them into the parlor. Captain James, Mr. Kirkpatrick, Mr. Castle, and Piney were playing at cards and a sideboard was laid out with meats and cheeses. Captain James had a pile of money by his hand and was in a better mood than Greene had seen him in months.

Captain James looked up when they entered. "Took you swabs long enough. And a good thing too, else I'd not have collected Piney's bribery income."

Piney frowned and put his cards down. "Oh, I fold. I don't know why I don't just turn you into the law, James. God knows you're worth more to them."
James swept up the pot. "Because I bring you cinnamon, Piney. And better news than those tight-lipped saluters."

Piney stuck his fat fingers into his waistcoat and harrumphed. "I'll need more than cinnamon and gossip before I let you leave my port."

The men of the Galleon started pocketing their coins and collecting their gear. James gestured to Dobson, who handed him the lockbox. The Captain opened the lockbox to display a pile of bank notes, letters of recommendation and introduction, coins of all kinds, and a few pieces of jewelry. He pulled out a small draw purse which clinked when he shook it and plopped it on the table. Piney swept it into his pockets, which were deeper than they appeared. James also pulled out one of the necklaces, which sparkled in the flickering light of the lamps.

"And something for your hospitality."

That, too, got swept into the depths of Piney's waistcoat. He patted his generous stomach and stood to leave. "Welcome to Peragua, gentlemen. Don't overstay your welcome." Piney went out of the parlor and up the long staircase and the maid saw the men out.


The next day Mr. Castle left a skeleton crew on board the Galleon and the rest of the men came ashore on longboats with strict instructions to return and relieve the others by midday. The officers, less Mr. Kirkpatrick, who stayed on board to supervise the skeleton crew, headed for the Fille D'Or. Mr. Greene sweated under his cap and not just because of the humid tropics. If he should run into the native fellow at the bar he was unsure how he would explain it to the Captain.

Captain James, Mr. Dobson, and Mr. Greene entered the bar. It was less close than English bars and less smoky than Indian bars. The bars in the tropics were often informal affairs - rude thatched huts and the like. This one was a true brick-and-mortar building, but it kept its doors wide open and its ceiling low in the same fashion as the other establishments on the island. The natives of the land knew how to keep the breezes moving through their perpetual summers.

The three sat at a table and doffed their hats, except Captain James, who never removed his unless he was abed. It was a good breeze that morning and the air refreshed them. James sent Dobson for drinks and turned to Mr. Greene.

"How are the drinks in this establishment?"

Mr. Greene felt the heat rise up in his cheeks. "I expect they're good enough."

"Expect? Don't you know?" Captain James said, calmly.

Mr. Greene shifted in his chair. The bar didn't feel very open anymore. "I'm sure I don't, sir."

"But were you not here when we ported at Peragua not three months ago?" said Captain James, maintaining an air of innocence.

Mr. Greene let out his breath. "Oh, that. Yes, sir, I did come in here on our last furlough."

Dobson came back at that moment with three pints. He looked at the two men at the table. "Did I miss somefin'?"

The Captain did not take his eyes off Mr. Greene. "No, Dobson. We were just speaking of the quality of the drink here at the Fille."

Dobson set down the drinks and plopped down in his own seat. "Oh, aye, the drinks 'ere are top quality. They was particular fine last night, ey wot, Greene? He still owes me from it, too."

The blood dropped out of Greene's stomach and he couldn't meet Captain James' eyes. Captain James grin spread across his lips - the fish caught. "You do, do you, Greene?"

Mr. Dobson, oblivious, kept chattering. "He said he was good for it. I 'spect so, considerin' the haul. You brought cards, sir?"

Captain James did not answer. He stared at Mr. Greene. "Well, George. Are you going to pay the man back?"

Mr. Greene nodded and fumbled in his pocket. He pulled out a silver coin and dropped it out of his shaking hands onto the floor. He reached to pick it up again and handed it toward Dobson.

Just as Dobson extended his hand for the coin, a short metallic shriek sounded and a silver sword flashed through the air. Mr. Greene's arm fell to the table, severed just below the elbow, the hand still clutching the silver coin. Blood splattered across the table and floor. Captain James stood and drew the sword around in a wide arc, slicing off Mr. Greene's head. The head toppled off the body and landed on the floor with a thunk. Mr. Greene's body slumped in the chair.

"I told you, Greene, I would kill you before you spent a penny."
Captain James sent Mr. Dobson for a rag to clean his sword and sat back in his chair. A serving girl came over to collect the hand (from which Dobson had already pried loose the silver coin) and wipe up the table. Dobson brought back the rag and Captain James cleaned his sword and wiped his boots. He sheathed the sword and pulled out his cards.

"Mr. Dobson, do you think you could find me a native man wearing a uniform?"

Dobson nodded his head. "I know the one ye speak of. I seen him last night."

"Good. He's got a letter for me, I believe."

Copyright ©2015 Emily J. McNeely.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce in any form, including electronic, without the author’s express permission.

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Emily McNeely is the Art and Acquisitions Coordinator at Double Life Press, an independent publishing house she and her husband, Craig McNeely, own and operate. Emily has been published in Pulp Modern magazine and Dark Corners magazine. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

**One of my stories, My First Love, in three confessional parts, was published on the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website

One of my mainstream stories, My First Love, in three confessional parts, was published on the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) website.

This briefly sexual, sometimes romantic, always blunt piece charts thirteen roller coaster years of a guy, as self-inflicted loss and eventual forgiveness evolves him from an emotional f**ktard into a somewhat responsible man.

My First Love is part of the loosely linked First Love series, which includes the poems Beyond a fearful door,  The long-ago dreamt and Marker (asterisk edit), published on the Leaves of Ink site last month.

My First Love will appear on the ERWA site until the end of August 2015.

Big thanks to Daddy X (ERWA) and  E.S. Wynn (Leaves) for publishing these works!