Sunday, July 31, 2011

Las Wages

The 25 Cent Millionaire by Kalifer Deil
That man, two seats down; I think he must be a millionaire or something. By the time I put in one quarter he drops in a couple of sets of four at a time. Even though he doesn't show a wedding ring, he doesn't seem to notice me. Maybe he likes blonds and not brunettes. I wonder how I can grab his attention. I tried giving him a big sexy smile but he didn't even look over. I've never had trouble getting boys, young or old, looking in my direction.
If I hit a good payout maybe that would do it. Those coins a-jangling into my cup should do something. At least he'll look at me. I'll feed the coins in faster and maybe I'll hit something good before he goes away. I wonder if he's from Texas. That looks like a Texan hat and that weathered look. He probably owns a big ranch.
I wonder how he is in bed. Does he look at women as slot machines? Maybe I should dress up as a One Armed Bandit. I'll bet that would get his eye. Oh shit! I'm out of quarters. Damn! Im out of cash too. Maybe I can get some cash with my credit card. Oh fuck! I'm SOL, he'll be gone by the time I get back. I'll turn away and pretend to be hard to get. At some point he'll notice that I'm not playing anymore. The security mirror tells me this isn't working either. Oh well, he's probably gay anyway.
Horse Sense by Bill
Consider the snail, or whether the snail puts upon its awareness the burden of time on its way through the meager flower-bed outside your window. Or shit on the snails. Either one is fine. The only pith I like is the kind in plants, but when we joined our farm share all we found was every other week we had to throw out crisper drawers full of moldy cucs and blackened lettuce. I really wanted the special release, limited edition version of life, but I think I got the crappy version they hand out to the suckers in the self-help book of the month club.
Slots by Alan
I met Arthur inside the blackjack pit.  He had been watching my last few hands as I lost just about everything I had brought with me on the trip.  The crowd was thinning.  My family was asleep back at the hotel.  I wasn’t sure if I had enough left for the cab fare back to my bed.
We started up conversation about the way things were going, how fortune crept in and crept out, the general odds of this and that.  It was late.  It was early.  We knew, but we didn’t know.
We started combining our money, first on the slots, then roulette, and then back to blackjack.  A small fire was lit, and we warmed our hands by it.  I could see the marks of a callous, bitten fingernails, and the long lifeline in his palm that was interrupted by a birthmark.  His face wore a kind of crooked smile unsure of what direction it might take next.
Somewhere around sunrise, I told him that I really had to go.  Arthur was playing by himself now.  He told me that if I were to come back later that he’d probably be at the slots.  He confessed to me that he was a famous actor and that I could look him up on the internet.  I asked for his last name and told him I would.
Present Tense by Johanna
Outside, a warm breeze sweeps his exposed skin below his shirt sleeves and makes him think of   sun. He looks into it unthinking and automatically brings his palm up to shadow his eyes. Very rarely, he feels as if he is shining from inside out.
Inside, he squints his eyes to adjust to the darkness and coughs into the cloud of smoke. He searches the oversized faces for anyone he knows and is thankful for anonymity. No one looks up from their slot machines or card tables, he is invisible.
Outside, the sun is a bright light taking him in and reflecting off of him. He finds change in his pockets where none had been before. Coins for his nephews to make wishes into fountains. A song pops into his head that he used to sing as a kid, the words slipping through him. He slows down time to hold onto them.
Inside, he steps down into the cavern of plush red carpeting and feels his breath grow shallow, his chest tighten. He doesn't have much today to spare. His hope is shallow and convincing. He decides to start easy on the slot machines. He listens to the clank of quarter fall into the belly of the machine and pulls with acquired finesse at the lever. Eyes closed, he watches the dollar signs align.
Outside, the sun heats his eyelids, the perfect balance between warmth and burning. The light grows larger, too big to be contained. The breeze picks up the scent of honeysuckle and lifts it to him. There is nothing else left.
Las Wages by Kurt
It’s inevitable, you think. In this economy, you knew the bottom would eventually drop out. That you’d wind up flat broke again. After all, living hand-to-mouth on bi-weekly unemployment checks isn’t really living, you tell yourself. So, something’s got to change. And fast. Right? Screw feeling sorry for yourself. Screw being dependent on the man.  Screw the way it feels like you’re always being scraped off the bottom of someone else’s shoe.  
And that’s when it hits you. 
The lyrics to that Springsgteen song. The one you used to sing out loud in the car, driving home from work. Back when you had a job. The one that gave you hope. The one that made you feel invincible. The one that’s like a banner tattooed on the underbelly of your psyche.
“The dogs on main street howl, 'cause they understand, If I could take one moment into my hands. Mister, I ain't a boy, no, I'm a man, And I believe in a promised land.” 
So, that’s when you finally figure it out. That’s when you finally realize that you’ve got to take control. That you’ve got to be the man. That it’s time to double down on your last unemployment check. Cash it and take the funds to Vegas. Turn this misery into joy. 
Because, you believe in a promised land.
sega sa by Lyle 
aLas Wages — segaW saL
[wags sale
sew slags
gas l was
son of a bitch]
in the empty warehouse a conversation:
amongst the slot stools a dialog:
between the machine lines:
the cherries and sevens and BARS
Lost upon being born
Slottery by Forrest
I never get me no action on The Wheel of Fortunate but Gold’n Rush play loose, mostly cause, I think, ev’ryone know The Wheel of Fortunate on account of that blonde lady an her husband with the toupee. A trap from the start, suckering folk with guessing letters for words. They can lacquer that teevee horseshit all they want. It’s generic ones, see, like Diamond Dust an Superwild Cherries pay out best—them machines sit there un’specting  and un’preciated, I can stare straight into ‘em, make those diamonds an cherries line up an I know they’ll line up cause I’ll leave otherwise so they won’t let me. Why sometime I sit there an loiter an wait for the pretty girl, better’n The Wheel of Fortunate lady and thrice as young—she swing by and ask me if I’m all righty an if I want to stop playing. No, ma’am, I’m fixing to get my Superwild Cherries in order fore I leave cause I already know how to spell “Winnebago” an “Steel Magnolias” but who levels those cherries so well. Made three small jackpots easy last week. She remember that, naturally. Lucky me she say—you wanna drink? Shore, bring me two whiskeys, one for me an one for you, an no she can’t drink while working an I say, None of this is working. I tip her big anyway. T-I-P, she can spell that with her hiney alone. Get her on one of these Million Dollar Dreams an I bet she spell a whole lot more.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cuidad Juarez

Forensics by Forrest

Last time—or the one last time of what can be an overlong career in this city after I arrived in forensics— when I saw them working a scene, the two officers responding were already digging into each other over what remained on the pavement. An embrace between brave women with a loaded weapon, I can imagine, is not easily accomplished, much less seen often. If one of them believes a gun is lighter than it appears because of fruitless duty, it seldom has opportunities to be used to her heart’s content.


Cages by Bill

Spring is nearly over the hill, the hot turning us out, like zombies, weaving through the night unable to sleep. Another cup of coffee further from the backs of eyelids. So many cups now its starting to give off that sour feeling in the stomach, but it tastes too good. It tastes too good because it still tastes at all. It might be the best cup of coffee ever. Remember in Jaws, when Quinn’s talking about the cages, “Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark's in the water. Our shark.” Well we got sharks up here too.


Headline by Alan

The bridge was devastated. When the bomb detonated, a family of seabirds dispersed as if they were roses at the end of a wedding ceremony, the church doors now completely flung open. It was a sunny day. The sound was deafening.

The officers arrived quickly and pointed their weapons at the thought of anything suspicious. They became little sad hummingbirds maneuvering through a garden of flowers. Sweetness. Nectar. Dear god. How we need to feed ourselves with answers, targets for our desperate stomachs.

The smoke never cleared. The smoke never clears. Occasionally, we come across each other in a room in the dark and we fumble for the right questions, which (like hummingbirds) always seem to elude the logic of our collective imaginations.


Backstory by Johanna

I first noticed you across the room, your sway and swagger. I knew from the way you wore your hair in wings that you were from the butterfly clan. The more my attraction to you grew, the more I avoided you. One day, in a moment of bravery, I opened the door for you. “Thank you,” you said and smiled just enough that you might be flirting but, of course, I wouldn't dare assume so.

“My privilege,” I said. I meant to say, “my pleasure,” but it came out wrong. I imagined our dance, how sweet, our knees kissing.

After the incident, I saw you there looking like you were trying hard not to cry and I went to you without thinking. I was a stranger to you. You held me anyway.


Escape by Lyle

I’m sorry. This one escaped me. Escapes. Escapes me. Is in the very process of escape. Always with this sense of not being something, somewhere. If only for a minute it is this one. Just like a bullet. Escapes into the chamber from fingers. Escapes into the barrel and then out of the barrel and then escapes. I’m sorry: my very soul escapes with that bullet long since gone.