￼The King by Ben Forstenzer
Let me tell you, Mickey never saw an obvious thing in his whole life. He musta spent all his time seeing the other stuff. For god’s love. This guy could stare at a spot on the page and only see its edges. Did you see a spot there Mick? What spot?
My oldest friend Mickey, that’s for sure. Oldest, from like my elementary school. From around fourth grade. He was chubby with a funny way about him and most of the kids were mean to him. But he could crack such serious jokes. Make you laugh your milk up your nose, caused a scene in the lunchroom.
And the thing was, his dad owned the place. He started it with The Old Guy. Mickey’s dad and The Old Guy, hands and gloves, hands and gloves all the way back.
So The Thleen tells me, “you got to see your move.” The Thleen says I got to get smart about it, got to make it happen. Kathleen. Twenty
years married and she’ll still tell me whats what. Since day one. She’ll tell me and it’ll be right. The Thleen does her homework.
“Mickey”, she says, “Mickey is soft. It’s yours, it’s yours to take.” She’s got the rheumatoid arthritis. Her hands are caving in. But The Thleen is tougher than that. “Mickey,” she says, “Mickey couldn't do it anyway.”
Mickey still makes jokes.
“What do flies wear on their feet?” I don’t know Mickey, tell me. “Shoes!” he says snorting through his beer. Yeah, Mickey is soft. But I laughed
at that one. Used it on clients. Sometimes it worked.
The Old Guy is old. That guy is really getting on. He rubs his chin a lot when he thinks about stuff. Mickey’s dad died a while back already. Right after me and The Thleen got hitched up. Clear cold day, hard blue sky pushing out all over, pushing down. Came into work after the funeral, wearing black and all. Thought Mickey would be in the main office next to The Old Guy. But no. Out at our double desk like usual. The Old Guy was back there calling
Mickey’s dad’s contacts.
“Just making sure we can still count on your business.” The Old Guy. He’s no slouch.
The Thleen could see it. She came in last week and popped into his office just for a hello. She’s on some new medication, makes her puke, but her knees can bend OK. Came out of the office and raised her eyebrows so high she knocked the hanging light. At home that night she told me, “he don’t got much more time there.” She’d seen it in his face.
“He’s gonna die?” I said.
“No. Just done with that office, that place.” she said.
Forty five years in that office. And
he’s had four trips to the hospital the last eight months. “Mickey can’t do it,” she said. Fixed me in a stare. Waited. “Mickey can’t do it.”
It’s pretty simple. The Thleen laid it out and I got it.
I told Micky to meet me at the bar. I told him I had business to finish. Which was true.
“Why is there a gate around the cemetery?”
“Ah Mickey, I don’t know.”
“Because people are dying to get in.” He snorted and put on his hat. “See you at the bar.” he said. I nodded.
The Old Guy was back there. Me and The Thleen had worked it out. The angles, the reasons. Mickey. That I would treat him good. If I hadn’t rehearsed it with her I swear I would have puked. But I walked right in there and I got it out. I nodded and answered his questions. I rubbed my chin like I was The Old Guy himself. We rubbed chins and thought about it and he agreed.
“Mickey” I said, “so it’s not how you pictured it would go.” He nodded. He finished his beer and looked up at the screens. He watched a soccer game. He doesn’t like soccer.
He turns to me and says, “Two hats are on a hat rack. Hat number one says to hat number two, you stay here,
I’ll go on a head.”
Inside Bugs by Johanna
In the recesses of the bath tub, a spider climbs and slips, climbs and slips. I beg my husband, Don’t kill it. It's bad luck. He turns on the faucet and eight legs curl under and float downstream resigned.The moth darts desperately from porch light to kitchen light to bedside lamp and hovers without rest as one after the next is switched off. Where do moths go in the dark?
To sleep, my husband sighs, turning from his back to his side.
Do moths sleep?
The fly, trapped between window screens for the length of its short life, flutters, keeping me awake to wonder what morning will bring and how futile the day that follows.
We’ll Make Great Pets by Lyle
Winston, sole proprietor of Animal Kingdom, upon opening the store one Monday morning, after a debauched weekend in Las Vegas (what happens stays, right? he thought as he turned the key — a feeling of both moral and physical corruption mingling in him) in which the same types of animals he pampered and loved hundreds of miles away in his store were used in a variety of sordid sexual applications, smelled the candy-apple scent of decay.
Raison d’être by Forrest
Never mind all these senses of intolerability we the workers exude, even in our peaceful, frenetic state of continuously applying, plastering, building up: worry about regurgitation instead. Before the King put himself in charge of our defense and titles and the general welfare of the State, only the Delegate of Heaven knew the needs suitable for the true excrescent practitioner; and now the King sits on the Delegate of Remains without so much as a pillow, forever asking him if he enjoys the new shapely form of this pretend world the best. There is no response from the Delegate. In pleasurable dread, we are waiting for the King’s next question.
Known Like Unknown by Bill
you draw your lay lines as I draw mine. some you see in clear, defined space but the fourth world was not always so wondrously three dimensional, so if I choose to lay them stitching this way or that across my shit leave me to my work and keep your thoughts on it. once you had to whisper what you'd seen through many eyes' fractal perceptions, drawing across numerous planes like you were Mapplethorpe seeing dark and ever darkening shades when you dropped acid and went barking, the world split to planes and always the howling chatter of Mictlan never far away. you had to hold your ears in the presense of Xipe Totec who ever has a say. tote up your channels leading through the deep blue sea, from Wych Cross Sussex to sandy Badlands' graves, carving up the mind of this world.
It Is What It Is by Beth
Is anything iridescent not unpleasant? She watches a swarm of flies take off from a busted garbage bag the trash truck has left behind. Flies, gas spreading in a puddle or behind a motorboat. Maybe wings. Maybe dragonfly wings, and if you think about them as dragonflies or damselflies and not darning needles, waiting to sew your lips together while you nap on your hammock, they’re not necessarily so sinister.
But then, everything is gross here in the city in the summer. The alleyways smelling like diapers. The dumpsters behind the gourmet restaurants smelling just as bad (maybe worse) than the fast food ones. The homeless guys you feel bad about holding your breath around. The smashed fruit of the gingko trees smelling like dogshit, and sticking to your shoes in the same way. The trash cans in the park full of knotted plastic bags of actual dogshit, which conscientious owners have hovered near their dogs’ asses to gather. All those bags of shit broiling in the sun. The iridescent flies landing on the bags of shit and then taking off, all at once like the girls in iridescent dresses coming out of the clubs in Old City after last call. Like the flocks of birds that wheel through the park and perch on one ledge and then another, all taking off, all landing, all taking off again.
On Reading Lord of the Flies (for the 11th time): a fictive primer/equation by Alan
Life + the mother of motivations + Golding’s beast + that was some vicious circle + “I cried when I read that part” + “that was stupid” + the fear inside all of us + what Simon said + once upon a time + it could happen to any of us + it could happen to you + it happened to me + “what does the title mean?” + that which we’re all attracted to + that which ties us together + the thing inside all of us + running really fast toward a car accident + “they’re all just a bunch of bullies” = “we’re all just a bunch of bullies” + if literature were really a mirror + what Simon said + if education was really education + the impetus for change + looking inward + the difference between a fly and a human + the difference between reading and reading + the distance between the little i and the big I + the courage inside all of us + “an end to war” + an end to war? + an end to war + fiction + fiction?