Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hey look a golf cart

Untitled by Julianna Spallholz

That was August. Now it’s December. Christmas in three days and finally, praise Jesus, you not here to as usual ruin it. I’m so glad the bitch is gone.

Admittedly I am not a winter person. I prefer tank tops, prefer light. But when shit sucks anyway best not to keep company with those who make it suck worse. That’s what my grandma always used to say.

Our house is just above the activity, just out of sight, just over the hill. That’s our son in the foreground, about to enjoy his win in the Zucchini Festival costume contest. As you know, our son takes things very seriously. He beat out Abe Lincoln. He beat out last year’s Miss Zucchini. I took pictures because I am his mother, because I show up smiling for these sorts of things, because I am his mother, because I take pictures, because I am his mother.

After the contest was completed our son went for a victory lap in the golf cart, which was driven by darling Rosemarie who manages the general store. Our son held his blue ribbon in his fist and absorbed his village as it went by. In the evening, there were fireworks. All in all, it was a fine summer day in a quaint small town in New England, no thanks to you, no thanks to you.

Please give my best holiday regards to your brand new surprise live-in girlfriend who is eighteen years our junior. Just in case you were concerned, his presents are wrapped and ready, arranged thoughtfully beneath the tree. The lights are hung. The nativity is set. Cookies are in the fucking oven.


Playful by Forrest

The deadly art of my ninja clan, forged through years of televisional exposure to underground mutagenic protoplasm, is something I feign to describe to the uninitiated outsider. Every summer, across this lawless realm, hundreds of festival barbequées disguised as former lords reveal themselves all the same as brazen usurpers of their vassals' wives—thus, at request (and advance payment) of concerned parties, I intervene so that an ancient code of honor may be preserved. Often these transactions are better disposed of at a distance, the blowdart being my preference for lethality and the sudden, low note singing from my blowgun, a sound which returns me to my adolescent training. Many a can of Old Milwaukee have I strewn upon the trampled ground in this fashion. And yet, as the one-twelfth steed of this modest cart whisks me away, I consider whether child's play has been perverted into an art with no end, or vice versa. The courtyard of my dōjō fills not with an introspective air of regret, but the beratement of ancestors instead for my sentimental weakness carried against those cold autumn winds of change. Lonely are the nameless masters, it heeds. And abide I must! For there is always another layer to peel away from my famished body.


Something Meanwhile by Lyle

And before you know it, you're in the middle of something. The X, she tells you, says just here somewhere.

There is a wedding—Abe Lincoln, a chef—she checks off the rest of the list. Yup, all there.

Meanwhile: after studying the map, you're not so sure about anything.

And here's the mossy retaining wall, she points to the map and the wall—taptap.

Something, you say ponderously.

There is a small crevice in the retaining wall, you realize suddenly (and at the exact same time that you realize they are everywhere in the retaining wall—in fact, that is how retaining walls are built: at that exact moment you also think maybe that is part of the definition of a retaining wall; at least, you believe, suddenly, it is a solid connotation).

Well then, she says. Yes, you concede.

And then, from the wedding party: Hey look a golf cart.



This Holiday by Alan

This holiday. Like all holidays, I will consider the festive and rub up against the festivity. What I mean, of course, is that I will take no prisoners – roll out the golf cart, so to speak. We will paint the course, appropriately, green, and if the course is already green we will discuss another color, something 19th-century, perhaps. And the entire family will be there. I will make them…

Stop…quiet on the set. In all seriousness, this is not quite the way I envisioned it. We’re all over the place here. And you’re not making any sense. The little one is flexing too much and the smiles are too believable. Dress it up with artifice. Don’t you know you’re not supposed to be doing this? Don’t you know the date? The sun is out. The birds are chirping. There are thousands of parking lots of people making plans dishonestly in America and you have to pick the one that doesn’t have the wherewithal to get it together? And another thing…who put that golf cart in there?

What golf cart?


In the Light Thrown Down by Bill

Over time, building from one year as a notion then become a thought, growing the next year into a sense and after into a shared feeling about the party, a communal disconcertion and finally into a fear – a dread – whenever anyone showed up in an exceptionally outlandish fancy dress, such as the sheer dervish costumes Betty and Matilda wore last year.

The concern was felt as a flutter of unease as guests arrived in on and under outlandish transports. Korigar's entrance on a bull a few years back and then again the following year, reasoning that a repeat would be the most austentatious choice, had matched for a slight prickling of hairs on the back of necks Joseph's arrival in a convoy of four-wheeled ATVs.

The exotic – foods like the white cobra fritters, or drinks, like the rum specially distilled from a sugar-cane which only cultivates symbiotically with an especially aggressive species of fire-ant entomologists claimed were the most war-prone organism on the planet – haunted the guests throughout their revels.

The bizarre, the strange, the rare, the exuberant and humorously mundane, like the golf carts this year taking the guests from one part of the party to the next, all worked to build toward this apprehension which in some ways was the signature of the party, rising in nervous glances and anxiously held breaths as the festivities approached their crescendo – that the party would never come to an end and that they all, dressed in their funny attire, would be trapped there, forever celebrating.


I’ll tell you again how it happened … by Nicole

There was a white golf cart the day Bobby joined the army.

Mom’s face cracked like a soft eggshell against the counter.

Bobby’s top and bottom buttons were always mismatched.

Dad walked in circles, pulled his hair, and shut his eyes.

It would happen sooner or later.

Fear inside my chest like pounding on the concrete belly of a pool.

And next door a family celebrates.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Storm by Johanna

Returning from the funeral. Quiet but for the wind. There is no rain, no thunder, only the distant flash of lightening in the eastern plains. Was it a night like this one? Driving north on the front range we watch the bolts strike out and reach the far corners of the dark sky with branching fingers. The darkness alight with hidden objects – billboard, farm house, factory, a car abandoned on the side of the road. Is this how it happened? I roll down the window and the air is warm and thick. The taste is metallic. My arm hair bristles. Did she see the car coming? A flash just bright enough to show us the world.


Occasional by Forrest

Out of the way, the storm chasers had fled towards the danger, only returning at dusk, but still hungry. We had a few eggs left which hadn't flown away, a loaf of bread not broken. We'll eat it all, they boasted, and we believed them until they did eat it all. Then they noticed we had nothing left, and asked if they could have that as well. We gave them the last of it for their equipment to record. They laughed, patted each other on the back. The best yet! they cheered, watching the dials move, the needles tremble. Our admiration was a helpless thing, little more than what the weather can be on occasion here, waving to the gathering crowd.


Malice by Lyle

Out the car window the signs & marquees gave way to storm clouds in that woozy way alcohol has of double exposing images in your head over time as you stare out the window of a car. Strung together by time and distance. An equation, perhaps. And you driving said something to me or not to me now and again. Sometimes with a light laugh afterwards and I smile and am warm in the heater-filled compartment watching the clouds roll in quickly and with malice.


When the Aliens Finally Arrive by Alan

I saw this coming in one of my earlier journals. It was several years ago. Don’t quite remember when. I was driving to Tennessee with Tim in the front seat mad with joy and love and cigarettes and nothing to fear. All of a sudden, the idea for a horror story.

When the aliens finally arrived, I shared with Tim, they made their way onto the systems that connected us. They bore into the wires that ran across the country and crept inside the billboards and interstate signs. They marked our tepid crossings with deep and profound vigor. They studied us as a race. They came from the clouds like a gentle rain.

How did you know they were there? Tim was curious. I was writing while driving, looking up between mile markers. I was sketching furiously in the fading light. The characters on the page began to lie on top of each other as it got darker. The more I wrote, the less I understood.

Maybe only we could see them. Tim was wild-eyed now. I stopped and looked up, away from the road. His head was half-out the window, his smile a kite in the wind.


The crazy ones.

The crazy ones, I repeated. Years later. In the onset of winter. At the sign of a storm.


American Wedding by Nicole

It happened in a court house. In a room with a conference table. In a little town I had not heard of the year before. Just the two of us, your brother, a judge on his lunch break, and a gray copy machine with it’s back turned to the room.

The judge pronounced my name wrong and again pronounced my new hyphenated name wrong. When it came time I dropped the ring. Watched it roll under the mahogany table before squatting down in-between the vows and my turn to say I do. I had been married once before. So long ago that it seemed like a dream. The memory folded in on itself like a worn blanket in the bottom of a closet.

I felt the carpet against my knees the hem of my black and white dress pushed up against my thighs as I stretched my fingers under the swivel chair. I must have made a terrible bride. I refused a new dress. I refused a new ring. I refused to let anyone where it seemed there was only us and more us.

I left my family for this tiny room. 1500 miles of distance and my first snow. The wind waiting outside to burn my cheeks. For my hand franticly searching. For the ring I would return to your finger before exiting the room and making the long drive home.


Unpredictable Variations on the Face by Bill

A quick line of them walked in at dusk, five shadows dug against the storm clouds and encroaching night wearing long gray coats and fine, brilliant red scarves. Their necks and cheeks gleamed with freshly shaved skin. The smell of vetiver came ahead of them. Their shoes clicked on the boards and their arms swung easily at their sides. The knives we all knew were tucked away in their vests against the side of their ribs on the far side of their heart. Among them I recognized my friend, so different and strange with the dark hair.

It was stupid to come in tonight with only a pen, when they had been reported so close to the border of the county. A pen is of such limited use, sharply tipped but easily bent or broken if the blow strikes a bone. A hard knife with a strong tang will break through half the bones in the body on a good thrust. Best bet with a pen is an ice-pick strike — the brain stem or the eye.

They approached the bar as I rose and came toward them from the back of the room. I kept my head lowered, staring shoulder level, letting my gaze rise only as I passed my friend, asked and answered our questions in quick succession of eye movements. They moved around me and waited. Finally I reached out a hard and pull the scarf from one of them. The softness of the fabric was exceptional as I placed the center of the scarf over my eyes and tied it off behind my head. They placed their hands on my shoulders and led me toward the door and out into the night with the pen still in my pocket.