Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Shameless Plug

Hey! Check out my short story Nature of the Disease in the March issue of Midwest Literary Magazine. It's available online at <http://midwestliterarymagazine.com/archives/>.

Go ahead and listen to this while you're reading:

Friday, February 18, 2011

strawberry blonde half-hour hiccups


she said mid-kiss, "you know, i usually don’t make-out all night with boys on the dance floor like this."

i said, "me neither."


she rolled her eyes, these perfect denim blue marbles and i chewed at her skinny lips. the girl was all avian neck moves. each peck put my head back-and-to-the-left like the Zapruder film. each kiss blew my fucking brains out.


eventually she jerked away, covered her mouth, her denim blue marbles open wide.

"did you just burp?" i asked her.

"hiccuped," she said.

"has it been a half-hour already?"

she nodded ’yes’.


this was the stand out feature of the otherwise flawless ms. maria smalls: every half-hour like clockwork she would hiccup. she nor medical science could explain it, it just happened... like black holes or gamma flutter or lemming suicides. the enigma of ms. smalls’ half-hourly hiccups existed without any definitive explanation but plenty of random speculation.


"i had stomach problems as a kid. maybe it’s long term after effects from that. or maybe it’s something to do with my diet?"

"are you vegetarian?"

"no."

"vegan?"

"god, no."

"raw foods fanatic?"

"uh, i like salad? if that counts."

"you eat it everyday?"

"no way."


so the mystery persisted and presented itself all night at balanced intervals. i would notice without even trying to.


initial incident. 6:23pm. she’s closing up her work, i’m picking her up. pre-date. she counts out mounds of cash. she’s gorgeous not looking up at me. the first hiccup is pretty unremarkable, slips by unacknowledged by both parties.



secondary incident. occurs at dinner right before her chili and my burger shows up. she’s not drinking anything carbonated, just water. so i get curious, i ask her...

"you got the hiccups, girl?"

"yes. everyday."

"no bullshit?"

"my whole life."

"get the fuck outta here.”

"at least once every hour."

"you can time it out?"

"maybe every half-hour."


tertiary incident. i’m skeptical on the walk interzone, this low-lit crowded bar where ms. maria smalls (as it turns out) is a known pool-shark. she’s a feared hustler with a street name and everything: "lazer grenade". 7:22pm, an entire minute before the next projected hiccup should arrive: i’m opening the door to interzone when lazer grenade goes off. the hiccup shtick is for real. and i’m so into it. it’s fucking adorable. but i dunno if she’s sensitive about it? or at least i don’t want her to think i’m this asshole first-date who is gonna be picking on her the whole night. i try to stop noting the further incidents, the frequency of occurrences. but they continue and are impossible for me to ignore. i can’t help it.


some come, like, mid-paragraph...


"i spent a lot of time by myself as a kid. i’m an only child. so i would always play outside by myself by the lake. it’s not that i didn’t have any [HICCUP] friends, i just did fine on my own. plus i lived on a farm, it wasn’t like i was bored. you know?"


some come to serve as markers. dog-ears before good dialogue...


[HICCUP]


Maria: Do you do a lot of drugs?


Me: I, uh-- not really. It’s all relative anyways.


Maria: Like, what do you do?


Me: I dunno, I hangout. If you wanna finger paint, we can finger paint. If you wanna eat some Ecstasy we can do that, too.


Maria: I ask ’cause I don’t do drugs.


Me: That’s-- that’s alright.


Maria: I love mushrooms.


Me: I-- me as well.


Maria: But the last time I ate them, though, was just so...


Me: Heavy? Long?


Maria: Bad.


Me: What’d you do?


Maria: Cry.


I laugh a little. I Catch myself and cover my mouth with the palm of my right hand.


Maria: I’m serious. I laid on the bed and cried my eyes out for hours and hours. And Wyatt, my boyfriend at the time? He was in the bathroom, sick, convinced that he was throwing up babies.


Me: Fuuuuck that.


Maria: Seriously. I was like, "Ah! Please do not tell me that you are throwing up babies right now!"


Me: Sounds like a bad one.


Maria: I never know what to expect with those things.


Me: Yeah, the water’s always a little deeper... a little murkier. Vast.


Maria: But I still love ’em. I can see the potential there.


[HICCUP]


Maria: Basketball. Soccer. Volleyball.


Me: So you were a letterman?


Maria: Um...


Me: I mean letterwoman. Or, uh-- letterperson?


Maria: I was a letterman. Yeah.


Me: You had the jacket and everything?


Maria: I did.


Me: I dated a girl when I was 15 or something who did Volleyball. Maybe you played her.


Maria: Maybe. I played a lot of girls.


Me: Guess that makes sense.


Maria: Did you wanna...


Me: Yeah, let’s get out of here. Let’s check out that bar, catch a drink.


Maria: I almost don’t want to leave. It looks freezing outside.


Me: Wanna borrow my jacket?


Maria: No. I’ve got my own.


Me: Oh, that’s right... a letterman.


[HICCUP]


Maria: Our coats are gone.


Me: Check the rack.


Maria: The rack’s gone.


Me: Gone-gone?


Maria: Gone.


I peak inside the bar.


Me: Shit...


Maria: What?


Me: Our coats are gone.


Maria: Really.


Me: Maybe that’s what that guy meant when he told me it wasn’t a coat rack. I just thought he was being a prick.


Maria: Do you really care?


Me: That he was being a prick? I mean—


Maria: About the coats. Are you upset about your coat? Do you even care at all about it?


Me: Maria, right now? I don’t care about a single fucking thing right now.


Maria: Would you leave with me without it?


Me: Right now?


Maria: I mean, when do you want to go?


Me: Right now!


Maria: Even without the coats?


Me: Fuck the fucking coats. Taxis are warm.


Maria: So let’s go...


A bartender inside yells out "Last Call!"


Maria: After this last drink.


HICCUP


the whole night like that, until her hiccups became more than bench-marks and more than interjections. more than a cute quirk. more than anything, the hiccups came to represent a passage of time like smokes or drinks.


i was down a whole pack of mediums. i had downed well over a 12-pack. i was down on one knee trying desperately to remember how to tie my shoes. that’s when i heard maria’s 23rd hiccup: the final bell. i told my shoelaces to fuck-off, and i hailed me and maria a cab. it was one of those minivan numbers.


no more than one minute in the cab, i was on my knees for maria smalls. literally. each of us had one of the pilot seats in the middle row of the vehicle. she was on the driver’s side, i was on the passenger’s side. there was only two-feet between us which, apparently, was two-feet too much. because i unbuckled and dropped to the floor. i fumbled over to maria to chew and breathe and eat and love on her skinny lips again.


i went head-first at her. face-first into uppercut kisses. and we were still lip-locked when the cab stopped out in front of my place.


i said, mid-kiss, "you know, i usually don’t make-out all night with girls on the first date like this."

she said, "me neither."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Within the Ether

by Brian Kutanovski

“You are not special.” Beetle says.

A crack splits diagonally across my dormer windowpane. It's fogged over. I don't know when the rain will stop. I heard the flooding is an anomaly, that they will declare it a state of emergency tomorrow. But I'll never know if they declared anything because my electricity was cut today. Beetle is on the windowpane crawling back and forth over the crack. She flutters her wings to grab my attention.

“I said you're not special! Just deal with it.” Beetle yells to me.

“Of course I'm special, I'm a human.” I said.

“You make yourselves special.” Beetle replies. “Humans have been plagued for thousands of years with the illusion that because you can wear baseball caps that you're separate from nature. You're the same as me you buffoon.”

“We can make meaning Beetle. We have mastered symbols and language, something you petty insects know nothing about.”

“You really think we can't communicate? That we don't have a language? You just haven't figured it out yet. And somehow, I've figured yours out. Most of us 'animals' have figured it out… you just don't know it yet.”

The candle flame dances in the reflection of the pier glass mirror, illuminating my attic. In times of massive floods, or even the great flood, your attic is your only refuge.

My backyard once overlooked acres of meadows. Now it's a giant body of water. I can't see land anywhere except the cascades miles into the horizon. After several consecutive days of overcast, the atmosphere resembles more of a puke green than a gray. I think it's my eyes accustoming to the bleakness. My hairs rise with every rumble from above, almost nauseating. In the belly of the grey clouds, lighting strikes fasten together, flashing, to make one colossal electric spider. I never want to see it again, but I'm afraid it's permanently etched into my eyes.

My basement should be completely flooded by now. By design, once the basement overflows, my house should convert itself into a boat, purposely built with a specialized designed wood platform on the first floor similar to a deck. Once the sensors go off, the house will latch off the cement foundation and release it into the flooding lakes. It's better than sinking. It's better than drowning.


I think we are in for it--the doom and the end of days, at least in North America. The crackling of my house down below makes my heart quiver in pain. I feel it shift. It's finally letting loose. My house gains speed merging with the rapids below.

“You can't love!” I exclaimed. “You have no capability to love or to even experience the grandeur of love. Your brains are too small!” I shouted.

“Love?” Beetle asks.

“Exactly!” My righteousness is overpowering. I slam my hand against the veneer wall panels. Beetle flutters. “All you insects can do is eat and mate. And then repeat. You have no memoirs or desires or biographies or passion. You know nothing of love.”

“As far as beetles are concerned, all living species are born into love. Love is not a state of mind; it's not an idea, it's not some hybrid emotion--love is existence itself. We are love, we are sanctified in life. Don't think about it!”

The house jolts, I fall to the floor. Beetle continues, “The saddest part of you humans is you've created this grand illusion thousands of years ago, not yesterday. All it took was one misperception and the rest is an uphill battle. The illusion is that you are beyond nature, beyond existence with your big ugly brains. As generations passed, that delusion was carried forth, merely to accumulate into one big lie, almost impossible to break-up, living it out every day in ignorance. New generations grow up believing this lie and the cycle continues. Ignorant humans, deceiving yourselves... truly believing that you are separate from the rest of us.”

I say nothing. Beetle is smart. I wish she wasn't a beetle.

My house is the boat I've always imagined, soaring through the flooded landscape. Although steering my house never occurred to me it would be essential. Supposedly I never predicted I would ever use my house as a boat, but floating suffices. The rest is up to chance. The mountains would crush my house. The valley would topple it over. A cliff would plunge me to my death. Maybe I would drift into a dry meadow or a muddy field halting me into safety.

The speed of the rapids grows faster. We are soaring down what would seem to be a river. My dormer window smashes into pieces; I think a crane hit it. The vacuum of the air sucks Beetle outward. I catch her in my hands faintly crushing her. She seems injured.

“Are you okay? I didn't mean to.” I say.

“Do you want to sing with me?” Beetle asks in a whimpered voice.

“What are we singing?”

“I wrote a song for you…


My beloved one,

your treasure trove has all dried up

but in our innocence

Together, our rain is our only luck.”


I know that song. I know it's her. She told me to dream.

This is supposed to be a lucid dream, but I have absolutely no control this time, and the more I'm stuck in this realm the more I convince myself I'm not dreaming. I want out.

“I think we're losing control.” I whisper to Beetle.

The trembling of the house is too strong for us to be traveling safely. We must be crashing against sunken houses or stop-light poles or other buildings. It feels my house will topple over any second or simply disintegrate against the carnage below.

Outside, darkness begins to encumber my dream state. My candle flame is extinguished. I can barely see Beetle in my hand and there is no flutter of her wings this time.

“Beetle?”

No answer.

“Beetle?” I repeat.

Nothing.

“Elyse!” I shout. I know she's in there. I know it's her underneath those bugged eyes.

Most humans under extremely stressful situations find elaborate ways to get rid of tense energies. Naturally, we have evolved a response technique known as crying. I'm normally not apt to such a mechanism, but today it happens. Unprecedented, a tear falls into my hand and I feel Beetle flutter against my palm.

Beetle's voice is weak and cracked.

“Existence is always young. It's always here. It never leaves.”


The quavering of my house comes to a still. We must be floating in open waters. Maybe we entered the Pacific. Maybe we hit a lake. Wherever we float nothing scrapes the underneath of my house. It's almost relieving but yet tinged with the horrible idea that I am in a clueless drift.

It's completely black outside and the rain pellets crashing against my roof never sounded so menacing in my life. I look for the moon at least for a vague source of light, but only pitch black engulfs me. They say if you want to wake up from a lucid dream to flicker a light switch. But I don't believe it's a dream anymore.

This should be the signifier of waking up. When you can't see anything for so long, you trick yourself into being dead.

“Am I asleep?”

“Each day you are asleep. Right now you are finally awake.”

A sort of fuzzy noise creeps in, like white static on a television. My house comes to a halt. I know because I feel the wobbling. No movement just a still float. An array of bird chirps blend with the static noise. Have I stumbled upon a jungle paradise?

“Crawl out through the window?” Beetle says.

“Are we safe?”

Beetle flies out through the broken window. I crawl out after her. I think I'm bleeding from the shards of glass. I don't know for sure, it could be sweat. I crouch through the window and onto the roof and the fuzzy static noise is clearly a waterfall. However, the blackness outside denies me as a witness and I'm unaware if I'm at the bottom of the cataract or lingering near its edge. I lay on my stomach, straddling the ridge of the roof, scraping raw against the shingles. The wobble of my house becomes fierce.

“We're free!” Beetle exclaims. “Let's go. She flies off into the darkness.

I yell for Beetle for a long time. I yell for God to turn on the lights. The crashing waters are deafening and my house teeters so violently I begin to lose grip of the shingles. I'm hurled off into the gloom and vertigo consumes me. I'm in freefall and time seems to disappear.

I wake up. It's over.

However I notice I'm not in my bed. I am in my bedroom but everything seems larger than before, and it's all rounded and distorted--the bed, the dresser, the mirror, the nightstand and the television displays the white static-- it all looks hazy and blobby. I'm looking through a circular glass, submersed in water and I can breathe. Air rushes through my neck. I look straight up floating at the surface of the water. I see a face. It's Elyse. I try to embrace her, but all I can do is flap.

Elyse tells me existence is eternal

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Word Vomit

Hey everybody. This is going to be one of those bye weeks where I don't have a story to post, so I apologize if that's what you're expecting. To be honest, I haven't gotten as very many submissions lately. For the record, I think that the majority of the submissions I've posted on here have been high quality stuff, and I just wanted to thank everybody for their contributions. I'm hoping to reorganize the site in the near future in order to have a more comprehensive system for interviews and author profiles, because I think the current way I have it isn't cutting it. Anyway, I'm all ears if anyone has ideas.

Stay tuned for a new work soon. In the meantime, here are some interesting videos about writing:










Monday, January 17, 2011

Undone

By Sarah Wayland


That’s really me 2006
My image, your fix
Desire reciprocal
Consumed by your tricks

Gotta find fault
Why it isn’t meant to be
You’re getting a little
Too close to me

Tell me your secrets
Mine don’t come for free
Only find refuge
When you leave me be

Breath in every word
You say page by page
To everyone you know
Day after day

Doesn’t mean admiration
Is coming your way
My actions will never
Match what I say

Crucify you
For the sins I commit
Convincing you and myself
We aren’t a good fit

Aggressively deny you
Of feeling and thoughts
Passively shun you
Feel worthless you ought

Deliver you evil
My last sleight of hand
Bent on destruction
Bed of fire to land

Do away with you
Yet tenaciously follow
A tribute of hatred
One more lie - swallow

Monday, January 10, 2011

oh god they scream




i can see plastered mannequins outside in the snow when the clouds darken the sky and blot out the sun with storms reaching to the highest towers and mountains of our world- the mannequins stand there as if they’re bored- and in a dramatic fashion like statue of David rip-offs hoping to make a few bucks off of some scum willing to waste their money on some fake novelty garbage- but anyway these mannequins just stood there not silent (but i’ll get to that later) all day every day and all night every night because neither the rising or falling of the sun could rouse them from their inanimate slumber.

            and if you don’t believe me about those damn mannequins then you are just the same as those absent-minded numbskulls who think the government created AIDS, the government were behind 9/11, the government is in contact with life forms from outer space- i mean come on, where do you draw the line? i’ll tell you that the margins of life sure are closing in on everyone- choking us into believing whatever gets passed around, a big old game of telephone.

            those mannequins stand and stare every day and sometimes they sing- usually old slave songs concerning Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt like they’re some kind of enslaved race being held to do work for some mightier empire but i can tell you myself i don’t want them in MY backyard! as a matter of fact, i wish they would just leave already. but there they are singing those slave songs all day and sometimes in the night so i can’t sleep- i’ve decided that the only way out of this one is man’s first great discovery- the burning, the flame- Fire.

            so i run out into my backyard looking like a crazy insane dingo-man carrying a 2-gallon jug of oil and some matches while wearing a fur bathrobe. first i start to encircle the gang of mannequins with a nice boundary of gasoline making sure that none escape my wrath- then i started circling each individual little rascal and connecting each one of those little circles to the massive circle, imprisoning them all- the end result was not spectacular just yet because you can’t see the design in the wet, dew-layered grass of course.

            i take a match and strike it, standing on the outside of the circle of doom i created. i’m ready to set them all ablaze but then i hesitate- i hesitate some more- and some more- and then i extinguish the poor little match and run inside with an evil grin just waiting for some teenage pyro boyish fun.

            once i make it to my roof through the attic window i look down and the mannequins are looking back up shaking their heads saying no no no and i start laughing maniacally because for some reason i think this is the funniest thing i’ve ever seen because the stupid mannequins don’t even have mouths yet i knew what they were saying- i’m about to light the second match that is for sure to wipe out that damn odd race standing on my property when i hesitate once more- i run inside.  i run past my kitchen, littered with dishes and half-eaten Chinese take-out, past my living room where the TV was idle with white noise, i run to the upstairs hallway, and quickly scamper up the ladder to the attic and grab a 2 by 4. “yes,” i decide- this will indeed be my weapon of mass destruction.

            i use the last of my gasoline to soak the end of the piece of wood and prepare to lose my mind so i light a match and light the wood and it bursts out and burns my nose hairs and eyebrows but no matter so i lift the flaming doom above my head and shout to the mannequins
“get away from me, you fiends!!!” and cast down the 2 by 4 into the middle of the big circle of gasoline encircling the other circles of gasoline within it.

            the result was spectacular- the initial flame branched out, following the trails of gasoline (reminding me of dominoes) and setting each little white faceless man on fire as the trails went along their way. i watch them all burn and suddenly they attain mouths because the fire melts away their once smooth un-mouthed faces.  they pull apart the melting surface of their face to open their new born mouths wider and they scream and oh god they scream and open their horrendous mouths wider wider wider than i thought possible and oh god they scream and i scream too.