Monday, October 6, 2014

Chopping Block

Stasa's Husband by Bill

Ivo, the big Czech sits at his desk, half-cocked out from underneath its surface with one leg thrust into the walkway. He just doesn’t fit under the space he's so big. His eyes studied the proofs from the most recent set of pages for the issue, layered across the workspace in front of him.

His hand almost mechanically dips into the re-used yogurt quart at the corner of the desk as his eyes break down the contacts. He pulls up one of the homemade pickled beets. He had made all of his money, but still he brings these beets every day and the thought of retiring wasn’t something you could expect him to entertain. That stock of once oppressed immigrant shot through with a pure love of earning a dollar. The shine of capitalism forever dazzling in their eye. And as no one would have thought to try and force him out - his vision maybe slightly hampered by a need for reading glasses but had otherwise remained almost superhuman. Ivo could have drawn the exact shape of the sun. He knew when the color coming off the proofing printer was starting to weaken, to call out micro-shifts needed by the retouchers - two points of black down here, bump up four points in magenta there.

He honestly made probably half his money from being hired by printer manufacturers to test and calibrate their latest machines. The only real issue was you didn’t want to get caught in the bathroom with him. Those beets weren’t doing anyone any favors.


The Blood and the Body by Alan

Evidence is a sequential organism plucked from its soil. It has pace, tone, feel, stem. Years. It was a child once. Its head will peek out from a hole. Maybe a garden. Who knows what lurks below.

The human, like an iceberg or certain vegetables, will hover years in this very predicament, in charge of its almost undoing. When it does finally happen, it might be “knife.” But more likely something that stops the magic internally. The body, skinned, has layers like a universe. Like a bloody red universe. That stains the hands of the creator as it is handled and everything else with which it comes in contact.

Someone will put all of this together if someone cares to look.


Beets by Forrest

Beets are blood, but he brought them home anyways. Need them for their hearts, for the working parts others wouldn't have. He cooked them all—only at night, so the neighbors could sleep—and let the stain fill him up to the bedsheets. Everyone who was invited saw. A record exists of containment and measurements but he is sure he will lose it later. If he hasn't already. Beets take up enough space as it is. All they have is each other. He considers a new cutting board. In the morning, trails on the linoleum with their gruesome little footsteps dragging themselves. He fears the neighbors will be suspicious should they look through the window. They will offer a knife to come inside, perhaps, and say their daughter has recently divorced, but is looking again.


Cut by Lyle

Cut. Cut. Cut. It wasn’t like it hadn’t happened before. Was it? Who knows. Nothing ever seemed like it happened before. Or did it? Maybe everything felt like it happened before. He felt pretty sure that this had. This drink. This little bit of booze. And the chopping. Always the chopping. He remembered that. Every weekend. Cut. Cut. Cut. Every weekend hoping that the weekend would not end. Cut. Cut. Cut. How many weekends he cut out of his life. How many times he cut himself out of his weekend. How many times he said “weekend.” How many times he cut, cut, cut. Now that he was counting, it was worse. He imagined more cutting. And he tried to stop imagining, but, of course, when you start trying to stop thinking about stopping you think of a pink elephant that stops thinking. Like a smear of blood across a glass slide. It’d happened a whole lot. They said beet red, but it’s more of a purple, all told. Over and over. It had happened. It had happened.