Back in the Game
By Ken Miller
It was the first date Bob or Dolores had been on in several years. Sure, it wasn’t so much a date as they both happened to be on the same bus at the same time, but it felt like a date to them.
It didn’t take long for both to use up their best material—Bob was born in a Walmart bathroom, Dolores loved all of Pauly Shore’s movies equally. Upon realizing the conversation had pretty much dried up, they decided to look around the bus, grin as widely as possible and nod.
Then Bob got political.
“I hear cow farts are destroying the planet.”
“I don’t know. I’m just glad it’s not mine.”
Conversation is overrated, he subsequently thought.
- Reading Issue
- Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream
- Life, letters and Las Vegas
- ‘I was surprised by how much good stuff there was’
- The Wordy Shipmates
- Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark
- A brief, opinionated guide to Las Vegas’ used-book stores
- Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook
- Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America
By Josh Bell
He gripped the gun tightly, hardly able to believe it was real. It was heavier, greasier, somehow more metallic than he had imagined. His palms sweated profusely, making the gun feel slippery in his hand, but his hold on it never loosened. If he let his fingers relax even the tiniest bit, everything might fall apart. He knew that this was it. This was the moment.
It has to be done, he told himself as he got out of the car. There’s no other way, he thought as he mounted the apartment steps. It’s me or her, he repeated as he opened the front door. This is the biggest mistake of my life, he realized as he pulled the trigger.
Plan B is Plan A
By Stacy J. Willis
At dawn our gin-sour gambler sits outside Guardian Angel Cathedral, looking up at the sleek Encore tower next door. When will the priest come? What can he do in the shadow of this arrogance?
Father Isis takes a nip of brandy, slips into holy garments and opens the door. Poor man, come in, let us pray.
Father, forgive me, for I have sinned.
Of course you have. Was it greed? Or lust?
Go and speak well of the Lord. He’ll save you. Have faith.
The gambler leaves, itching for a better game. Father Isis lights a candle, sits in his office, fires up poker.com and hopes to cover the amount he borrowed. Hail Mary, full of grace...
An Obituary (Well, Not Exactly) for David Foster Wallace in the Form of a (Somewhat) Wallace-like Short Fiction (or Lame Parody Thereof)
By Scott Dickensheets
Suddenly(1), everyone(2) was hit(3) by a truck(4).
1. Suddenness is required, narratively, or someone would’ve moved. Never mind how sudden happened—stealth tires; truck popped from a wormhole. Doesn’t matter.
2. When the truck popped from the wormhole, in its path were: a spy sneaking 9/11 documents to journalists; a future president; three people of no consequence; Andrew Dice Clay (to create postmodern interaction between fiction and reality); a youngish writer, celebrated for his postmodern, footnoted stories(a).
3. Hit and killed, adding tragedy (entirely contrived) to the farce (entirely fictional).
4. For narrative purposes, the truck was wide enough to kill everyone.
a. In his case, being “hit” by “a truck” is a metaphor for whatever drove DFW to suicide.
A work of obvious fiction
By Spencer Patterson
Game 7, NBA Finals. Eight seconds to go. Down by two. “I’ll make it,” I volunteer, and a play gets drawn up on a dry-erase board. A horn sounds, and as I make my way onto the floor, I realize I’ve been living my whole life for this moment. Phoenix Suns, NBA champions. Words only dreamt of will now be spoken. The whistle blows. I come off one screen, then another, and head toward the corner, making sure both feet are behind the arc. The ball comes my way, and I catch it cleanly. My defender runs at me, but I’ve got a nice, clear shot. I rise up, release, and then it hits me. I totally suck at basketball.
Jerry’s Big Idea
By Kristen Peterson
It was Jerry’s idea. We were living in Phoenix. I had two kids, three jobs and no pool. So one day he comes home and says, “Hey, why don’t we move to Florida.” At first I thought he was crazy, just talkin’ ya know. But the next thing I know, I’m looking out at palm trees, a dried-up pool, drunk neighbors and I got another kid. Meanwhile, Jerry can’t sell any of those vacuum cleaners and I got no cash for groceries.
Maybe I should try pottery. Sandy has a real knack for it. Just look at this shit. Look at it as if it’s not Sandy’s, as if it’s sitting on a shelf at Walmart. She’s sittin’ on a gold mine.
By T.R. Witcher
Listen up. There’s a space at the end of the freeway. It’s where the giant road dips under an overpass and turns, with a slumping of shoulders, into a surface street—it’s where cops sit and wait to catch drivers still doing 70 in what has quickly become a 45. The space is easy to miss, off to the right of the freeway, near the junction of an exit ramp, nestled among the shadows of the underpass’ concrete pillars. So drive slowly or you’ll miss it—a tiny grove of weeds and flowers, rocks and litter, not a dead zone but a zone outside the consciousness. But not totally—which is why it’s best if you come to collect the package at night.
By James Cullum
Frank was sweating. It poured off of him in sheets, making his cheap tweed suit cling to him. He wondered if anyone noticed his right hand pocket sagging, or that the object inside pulled his coat down much farther on that side. He eyed the bank teller nervously and tried to smile when she did. His heart was racing and his hands balled into fists without his permission, making his arthritis scream. Frank stepped up to the teller and reached into his pocket for his pistol. The teller smiled and asked him something, but he didn’t hear it. His right hand shot to his chest and squeezed. His vision blurred, he uttered, “Give me all ...” and collapsed. Frank was dying.
546 S. 11th Street
By John Katsilometes
We used to play Wiffle ball here, Bill and I. In the summer we waged water wars; in the winter we built big, fat snowmen. Dad played football with us here, mapping out pass plays in his palm. Mrs. Jensen, an old lady who drove an eggshell-white 1969 Bonneville with a cracked tail light, lived next door. When we moved in, we scrawled “JK & BK ’71” into the wet sidewalk cement with a twig. But the little white house with green awnings and a roof made of wooden shingles has been hauled away. Standing there today is a gleaming medical center. It’s a clinic specializing in the health of children, I’m told. Good. It’s the best spot for that.