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Firefly rusty sputum by liaoqinmei

VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 54

									      Firefly
A Journal of Gateway Community College

      Student Artistic Expression

               Fall 2010




                                         Photo by Sarah Lewis-Stowe

    Professor Martha Hayes, Editor

                  1
                       Table of Contents

Poetry

Cynthia Green              Crowds………………………………………….                    3
Cynthia Green              Cuban Soldier…………………………………..               3
Cynthia Green              Rusty Button……………………………………                 4
Ms. Sudo Nym               First Dance……………………………………...               5
Sarah Lewis-Stowe          Sugared Whole………………………………….                6
Malissa Bowles             Crossing the Bridge…………………………….            7
Jeff Brown                 With One Eye Closed…………………………..            8
Jeff Brown                 The Soul of Murdered Guilt…………………….        8
Jeff Brown                 Forever, Guardian………………………………              8
Lillian Rawles             I’m Green……………………………………….                 10
Veldon Steele              Descend………………………………………….                  11
Veldon Steele              What Can’t Be Touched…………………………           11
Veldon Steele              The Queen’s Three Daughters…………………..      12
Veldon Steele              Laughing to the World…………………………..         12
Veldon Steele              Smile…………………………………………….                   14

Creative Non Fiction

Lillian Rawles             The Funeral……………………………………..               16
Stephanie Lemieux          A Shoebox Stocked with Memories…………….     17
Malissa Bowles             Rolling Toy……………………………………..               19
Sarah Lewis-Stowe          Retreat to Home………………………………...            20
Theresa J. Moscato         The Old Cabin………………………………….               21
LaDrea Moss                Everlasting………………………………………                23

Fiction

Jeff Brown                 Masterpiece for a Distant Friend…………………   25
Theresa J. Moscato         In Season…………………………………………                 26
Malissa Bowles             Auto Cemetery……………………………………               29
Capree D. Irvin            The Choice of Guilt………………………………           31
Stephanie Lemieux          Headline-Inspired Pity……………………………         34
Eric Eichler               Miro the Gunsmith……………………………….            37
Nini Munro-Chmura          Welcome to War………………………………….              40
Nini Munro-Chmura          Death and Transfiguration……………………….       41
Ramon Pilgrim              Untitled……………………………………………                 44
Tim Finola                 House of the Rising Sun………………………….        46




                              2
                                               Poetry

                                                        Cynthia Green

Crowds

The first time I rode
the city bus, grease marks
and fingerprints blocked
my view out the large rectangular windows.
A day warm enough to melt
ice cream. And I sat straight.
My feet wiggled toward
the floor, sticky like a movie
theatre. The sun glared inside
and stared at me as we rode this path.
Up front the driver waved hello
to arriving passengers, a cherry
smile from ear to ear.

But then, I wanted to get off.
The crowds formed, huddled above my head,
so close I could smell the bacon
they cooked this morning. My stop
could be anywhere. And I wanted
to get off. The empty
spaces next to me began to fill
with heavy bottoms, and I knew
that the sun would fade,
and the driver wouldn‘t be cherry
any longer. And I wanted to get off.

I wanted to.


Cuban Soldier

I used to write letters to a boy
with beautiful eyes. A boy with lost thoughts
and a serious face. I opened his mind like a book
and memorized every word. I remember
his poems as rushed water
and quickly dried blood stains.
He was my Cuban soldier.
In the winter, he would sleep
in the snow, and I'd have to dig him out.
But he liked to climb back in every so often.
He said he felt safe there.
He told me he didn't eat, and I thought
it was part of his depression, but I never
told him that. When we looked

                                                    3
at each other, we tried to look in both
eyes at once--afraid to miss an expression.
I'm sure he caught all mine.
It was indoors that we fell in love,
which turned into sharp pine needles
and brick walls. We haven't spoken
to each other in years, and I still write
letters to the beautiful-eyed boy.


Rusty Button

You taste salty, and your hair is braided. Your
kisses are soft as long as your tongue is also.
You‘re are a box of multi-colored buttons
with different sizes and shapes. You are
also the box. Tell me how that is so
when you have never seen a button
or touched one of that matter?
Does it interest you that I know
you better than your own box?
Your box is not brown, neither is it square
but has angles protruding out of all different
sides. Dull angles that have no potential
whatsoever of poking one uncomfortably.
They are silk mashed with black ink,
and their only nature is the attribute of the human hand.
Do you find it uncomfortable living in the box
with the buttons? Well maybe you can get a breath
of fresh air. Fall out the box if you have to.
Please, land on your head. And remember,
I am not angry, just mad.




                                                  4
                                            Ms. Sudo Nym


First Dance


The first time I danced
with a woman, I was thirty-three.
Nervous and scared,
like a ballet dancer
making her debut
on the Lincoln Center stage.

Deep feelings emerging
as a crocus breaks through
the early spring's
thawing ground.

December. Snow sparkling outside.
Warmth of the crackling fire inside.
Music of 1700's England,
light and airy
like baby's breath
in an arrangement
of dark, luscious, burgundy roses.

Spinning, spinning, glorious spinning
like a top whirling,
faster and faster,
almost dizzying.

Arms around each other,
supported
as a baby in her mama's arms.

Feeling something
new.




                                        5
                                             Sarah Lewis-Stowe

Sugared Whole

The first time I went
to a Mets game, I was six,
excitement bursting
through my bones
convexed my back,
pulled through my chest.
It was August, and
my legs pasted themselves
to the hot plastic
of the green mezzanine level
seats at old Shea stadium.
We had parked
between chop shops,
free for only a short walk
past old crumbling garages,
pungent tire stacks, hub caps,
and used car scraps
glistening in the late afternoon sun.
I wore a Mets hat
she had given to me
before we left the house.
They bought me
Pepsi-Cola, cotton candy,
Cracker Jacks, hot dogs,
ice cream in a blue and orange helmet.
He tried to explain
The Game,
wrote hits, runs, outs
on a piece of paper,
but I was busy
cheering for a man
they named their Spaniel after,
Mookie Wilson.
First base coach at the time,
now a smiling bust
in the Hall of Fame.
Still number one.
On the ride back to the house,
I slept away
the hoarseness in my
six-year-young voice,
body sugared whole,
waiting. Waiting
for the next Game.




                                         6
                                                                        Malissa Bowles
Crossing the Bridge

The cold metal creeps through to the little mittened hand.
The persistent winter wind pushes at the small backs.
Four booted feet and four carriage wheels quickly crush the
soft snow beneath.

Beckoning ahead is the sturdy steel bridge,
spanning the twin cities and guarding the cackling ocean
waves below.

The song they sing is caught by the chilling atmosphere.
Their frost smoked breath floats on ahead.
The music propels them forward toward the covering over
the great body of salt water.

This athletic exercise fulfills the ambition of this mother
who has borne two.
The long feminine legs, the newly formed short stems, and the
sleeping ward reach the far shore.
Deep breaths of the frigid oxygen warm their nostrils.

Quickly turning, the three drink in the sights.
Wind in faces now, a tiny hand slings to the chrome bar of the baby‘s
resting nest.
They return to their starting place.




                                                 7
                                                   Jeff Brown
With One Eye Closed

I‘m not a fool to a false paradise.
I know when I‘m asleep
Because there‘s always a nightmare,
to slay the dreams.
I can exhale as the sky turns red
and hum a song to drown the screams,
as the betrayal of an idle mind
shatters the sanctuary of ignorant peace.

The Soul of Murdered Guilt

I‘ve been exposed by the candles,
can‘t blow them out without a breath.
The shadows dance around my coffin.
Silent songs penetrate my dreams

I‘ve been surrounded by these statues
with faces frozen in painful stares.
Relief I‘m blind and my body stolen.
I‘d have run so far away…

Awaiting the day this tomb will crumble.
Beneath the ground lay my remains
with only regret lying within.
Please let me dissolve.

I hold the darkness closest to me.
The unknown is safer than a heart.
The sun has shone for its last time
on a soul that longs for a black escape.

Forever, Guardian

The first time I ever
truly noticed the moon, I was eleven,
carefree, and sitting on a curb in front
of my house, waiting for my friend to finish
his share at another of his family‘s
pizza nights. Looking up to avert my eyes
from the endless rows of single family
houses, some wearing broken windows,
some with front lawns tall enough
for safari adventures, but all the same
color in the dark.
I saw the moon floating triumphantly
through a sky void of stars.
It was only a sliver of a moon,


                                               8
not a full one, or even a half one, but
only a thin, curved line of white, like
a freshly trimmed thumbnail, peered
from behind the endless shadows of
the night. Time disappeared with the last
of the lights in these lonely homes, and
sirens sang far off in the distance.
Only the smallest amount of the moon‘s
light spread across the sky, but even so,
I could finally see it, and I knew
it was something I wanted to
watch forever.




                                            9
                                                  Lillian Rawles
I’m Green

Who am I?
I‘m me, black, white, yellow
with a hint of red.
I‘m shy on introduction and comical
a week later.
Who am I?
I‘m me, a genius if you must know
with a hint of occasional stupidity.
I‘m a sports fanatic on Sundays
and a student on Mondays.
Who am I?
I‘m me, a sensitive soul with
a hint of bravado
I‘m a closeted Hannah Montana fan on Wednesdays
and an advocate for cancer every day.
Who am I?
I‘m me…. That‘s it, just me.




                                           10
                                                        Veldon Steele

Descend

Wrapped in Devil's Wings
do you still pray to a God who has forsaken you?

Cloaked in Darkness
do you still grow hungry for the light?

Bathed in Blood
do you wish to sink into the waves?

Alone in Silence
do you speak of days filled with rhythmic sound?

Lost on your Way
do you remember how you got here?
All those images of betrayal
All those thoughts of self-doubt

As you've fallen into the dark,
I will tell you of the sun
for it‘s you who have chosen
to live as if there's none.

What Can't Be Touched

I place in your hands
the keys to the sun
Will you embrace its rays
or lock it away in the darkness?

I place in your hands
the keys to the stars
Allow them to shine
or let them fall from grace.

I place in your hands
the keys to the moon
Its sight brings bliss
but in your eyes, it stays distant.

So distant
So far away
These things you can't touch
but long to control.
For if I gave these keys
to you, one who swears to understand
what Love, Compassion, Emotions mean


                                                   11
will you know what to do with these, which go untouched
as well as you would the Sun, Moon, and Stars?

The Queen’s Three Daughters
Sitting Upon Her Throne
the Queen called the peasant
and the peasant with little hesitation obliged

"Peasant" Said the Queen
"There is something I wish to know."
And nodding his head, the peasant simply replied

"Yes my Queen." With simple form
she cleared her throat and sighed
"I bring dire news"
"Dire news you say?"
"Yes" She spoke with a quick reply.

"The teller says, a fortune for my daughters, and all three are most horrid."
"The Eldest?" he replied
"Oh dear" she snapped.
"She is to be taken by the flies."

"Oh dear, oh dear," the peasant did answer
"And what of the middle child?"
"Well she..." Her throat clears
"She..."
"Yes my Queen?"
"Will be buried alive in a snow of pure white!"

"Oh dear, such troubled news you bring!" said the peasant with a moment of shock
"But peasant, that be not the worst of it!"
"Oh, for the youngest..."
"Burned at the stocks!"

"Oh my, oh dear, oh me, oh my." the peasant responded in horror.
"Then you understand my pain." the Queen did proclaim
"But I can't believe such horrors!"

"Well of course not my Queen"
"By what do you mean?"
"Well the fortunes, they are but half lies."

The Queen was stumped
and upon her rump
she shifted and did reply.

"Then Speak my peasant, tell me then, the real truths behind these lies!"

Standing full


                                                  12
the peasant bowed
and slowly went one by one.

"For the Oldest, my Queen. The Flies, You see..."
"Why yes...You mean...."
"Are the STD's she will acquire!"

The Queen sat shocked
her mouth unlocked
but the peasant he did continue

"And the middle daughter, oh dear, oh my."
"Will find the white snow from men‘s loins to be rather hard to breathe through with so much
aquired!"

The Queen jumped up
her face red and plump
as she ordered his sudden silence

"How dare you peasant!" Her words screaming out.
"What gives you the right to such lies?!"

"My Queen, my Queen, do you not remember?"
He gave a simple bow and gesture.
"I only speak the truth."
"The apple does not fall far from the tree you see..."
His grin was wide and aloof.

"And as for the third daughter, well she will be burned on an altar!"
The Queen sat, stood but ready to fall.
"For it is the churches job to burn and cleanse such things that through generations have grown that
filthy!"

Laughing to the World

Laugh, laugh laugh, it‘s a simple and silly thought. To think that in the end, any of his words could
hold truth. He's smiling, he's dancing, his role is being filled. You raise your glass, and continue to
laugh, after all, it‘s simply how he gains attention.

Laugh, laugh, laugh, you can see it in his grin. What a perfect actor he must be, speaking of pain, of
suffering, or how he hates his life, but as he laughs along with you, and his body shakes, you can see
it‘s all simple comedy. How wonderful an actor, to speak of such things, and then simply continue
on with a new joke almost as fast as his last one came.

Laugh, laugh, laugh, its odd to see a tear, but you have to agree, the smell is rather strong here.

Laugh, laugh, laugh, he's acting again. It's funny, how it seems so casual to him each time.

Laugh, laugh, but it holds less jolly, and this time the punch line is taking too long to come.

Laugh, it‘s funny.

                                                   13
Laugh, it‘s a game.
Laugh, it‘s f…….. hilarious in the end.

Laugh, he is, each and every time.
He laughs, and he laughs.
At just good an Actor he played

Laugh, it‘s funny
You never understood his pain
So all he could do is play along with the game.

Laugh, it‘s hilarious
After all
the death of a Jester is the best scene in any play.

Smile

Raise your head and Smile
The sun is shining Bright
Raise your head and Smile
There's not a cloud in Sight
Raise your head and Smile
The people must be Right

Raise your head and Smile
The men all work for You
Raise your head and Smile
The men place food down for You
Raise your head and Smile
The men they bring you Clothes
Raise your head and Smile
The men they always Know

Raise your head and Smile
Of course, it‘s not a Lie
Raise your head and Smile
That's it, right to the Sky
Raise your head and Smile
So Bright
So Stretched
So Wide
Raise your head and Smile
For no matter your true Emotion

It‘s The People Around You That You Let Own Your Mind




                                                       14
Creative Non Fiction




                       Quilt and photo by Nini Munro-Chmura




        15
                                                                                          Lillian Rawls
The Funeral

         The smell of the funeral home filled my nostrils, burning the hairs. I sat swinging my feet in
the chair watching as familiar faces walked by. I didn‘t have the courage to speak, but I could see my
family entering into the room. As I looked up, I noticed my mother‘s somber face looking over at
me, she forced a smile and I smiled back. I knew she just wanted to know if I was okay. My aunt
announced that the service would begin in five minutes, and an unsettling feeling rumbled in my
stomach. My mother began to walk over to me, and I knew it was time. It seemed as if I was frozen,
but as my mother took my hand and guided me into the room, the ice seemed to melt. I felt like a
snail moving slower and slower, but I finally managed to reach my seat, and as I sat down, my eyes
began to wander around the room.
         I looked at the swollen eyes and puffy faces and then at the coffin. It was brown with gold
trim and covered in yellow tulips, her favorite flower. As the funeral begun, everything seemed
nonexistent as if I were stuck in a nightmare. I closed my eyes tight, not wanting this moment to be
happening.
        The funeral was over, and as I was getting up to leave, I looked at the coffin realizing that my
grandmother was no longer here. As memories started to fill my head, her last words echoed, ―I love
you.‖ My eyes began to flood with tears, and I began to quiver. My aunt ran over and hugged me
tightly. She then handed me a beautiful handmade doll that resembled me. The doll had black hair,
a purple dress with white flowers, and a huge smile. My aunt pointed to the doll‘s chest, and I
noticed a heart but inside the heart were my initials, LR. I smiled as my aunt explained how my
grandmother had been working on the doll for weeks, it was my Christmas present and she had
finished it a couple of days before she died.
         ―She wanted you to have it,‖ my aunt said to me as I stared at the doll. I hugged it, knowing
that I would always have a piece of my grandmother and that I would cherish it forever.




                                                  16
                                                                                    Stephanie Lemieux

A Shoebox Stocked with Memories

           As a young child, I referred to the house I grew up in as a big green shoebox. The origin of
this nickname came from its architectural style – it was a small, three-bedroom ranch with a sort of
rectangular shape to it. My family of seven squeezed cozily into this modest home, and such space
limitations were both a blessing and a curse. While we may not have had all the room we wanted,
we were forced to cooperate and interact more. We spent eleven years at this residence, and I firmly
believe it is one of the reasons why we are so tight-knit.
          Perhaps the most significant feature of the property was its backyard. A full half acre of land,
it was the stage upon which several of my childhood memories played out. My family and friends
were vibrant characters, and each season seemed to begin a new act. In the autumn, which has
always been my personal favorite, leaves of brown, red, and orange hues made the green grass a
distant memory. My siblings and I would assist in the raking, but as children, our intention was to
gather the foliage into enormous piles and take turns jumping into the crunchy conglomerations.
        When the trees grew bare naked and cool breezes turned into harsh gusts, winter stepped in to
strip the landscape of its color. White snow fell in heaps and would once again create a wonderland
of fun for me to enjoy. After my parents dressed me in my puffy, insulating snowsuit, I gushed with
excitement, eager to engage in activities made possible by the precipitation. Sledding, building forts,
and crafting snowmen consumed my days during the months when freezing temperatures filled the
forecasts.
       When it began to warm up, the spring would come to bring the nature surrounding me back to
life. My mother would plant a plethora of flowers of all colors and scents, the grass would grow fresh
and new while the trees would awaken with leaves to erase the bland, bare branches I had grown
used to. Now it would be time to rescue a kite from the depths of my closet and spend relaxed
afternoons swaying in our hammock. Such warm days grew gradually hotter as I anxiously awaited
the freedom that came with the end of the school year. When the sun started working extended
hours and I was able to see the sweat glisten on my body, it was time for air conditioners to occupy
windows and provide relief from the humidity. Soon after, I would re-introduce myself to my
swimming pool and guests would join me for aquatic amusement. When our skin became pruned,
we broke from the water, feeling a hundred pounds heavier and heading to my driveway to lie out
and dry off. Here, the moisture left on our bathing suits was no match for the sun‘s sizzling rays that
beat the blacktop of the pavement. It was also during this heated season that my family would dust
off the grill and gather around our picnic table, making memories that would last for years to come
as we munched on delicious browned hot dogs and held watermelon eating contests.
          Internally, my former residence was not as exciting and left much to be desired. However,
our unfurnished basement, dubbed ―the utility side,‖ has a fair amount of nostalgia attached to it.
This particular room was slightly shabby and aged but was often very full of life. It had been filled
with old and new toys, books, furniture, and clothes, and was a prime location for hanging out and
releasing imagination. I can recall several afterschool afternoons and Saturday sleepovers that took
place here and defined the friendships of my youth. It was this space that sticks out most for me, as
the rest of the rooms seem too typical to be noteworthy.
          I can say with confidence that one of the motives my parents decided to buy the house was
for its ideal location. Set on the quiet hilltop of town, it was an extremely safe and friendly
neighborhood. So friendly, in fact, that it had attracted many families with children, thus
introducing my siblings and me to some of our closest friends that we would grow inseparable from.
It also had the added convenience of being down the street from our elementary school and church,
which were a five minute walk away. This proximity lead to countless hours of fun at the school‘s
playground and athletic fields, and would often be used as the meeting place for the other
neighborhood kids and me.

                                                   17
        During the summer following my sophomore year of high school, our unfortunate financial
circumstances pushed us into foreclosure, putting an end to the book of memories that was written
throughout our time living there. Heartbreak was inevitable as I packed up my room into our U-haul
on moving day, which would take us to a slightly larger colonial in a new neighborhood down the
hill. We have spent four years here, and it still does not feel the same, as renting a house cannot
compare to owning a home, and the neighbors around us have a knack for being rude and
judgmental. I can only hope to be able to provide my children with a comfortable home one day –
one that allows them to remember their coming of age as wonderfully as I do.




                                                18
                                                                                     Malissa Bowles
Rolling Toy

        When I was young, roller skates were my freedom. They allowed me to go long distances
from my home in a short period of time. I owned several brands of roller skates over the years. There
was the flat platform style that had a leather strap that went around the ankle and brackets that
clamped over your shoes. I always had my trusted key on a long string around my neck to tighten
them. There were a lot of companies that made roller skates when I was a young girl. Each brand
offered different innovations, Heely made skates for men and kids, as did Riedell and Skechers. I
owned Lenexa Supremes and Carrera Speed Skates made for girls.
        With my roller skates I could go to stores, friend‘s houses, the movies, the park, and the
recreation hall. People were not as concerned about their floors as they are now. Later, when I tried
to change to roller blades it was difficult keeping my ankles straight and balanced. The same was
true with ice skates. Both were limiting. There were not many frozen lakes or fresh water ponds in
my area. With roller skates all I needed was cement, wood, or even a dirt floor.
        While roller skating, the only thing needed to watch out for were the cracks in the side walk
and the rocks or stones in the road. It took practice to lean forward and lift the right leg sideward
and swing it around to hit the ground as you pushed forward with the left leg. Your body twisted to
give momentum to your glide and away you flew.
        Roller skates were invented in Belgium and have been around since 1760. By 1863, James
Plimpton of Massachusetts invented the rocking skate that allowed the bearings in the wheels to roll
freely and smoothly. Over the years, the axel system has evolved so there is less maintenance
needed. Now Jonex Yorkal Super Tenacity Roller skates, Medrid, Pacer Rave, Labeda, Sonic
Cruiser, Chicago Racers, and Rio Disco Roller Skates are the brands that are most popular.
        Ever since I was young, I have worked with my father repairing and building things. He
taught me to always take special care and learn about my toys, tools, and equipment. I cleaned,
oiled, and sanded the large wheels on my roller skates. The regular ball bearings were changed for
ceramic bearings. The shock absorbers system was first class. The reward was that my roller skates
took me to every corner of my town, safely. They helped me to meet new and interesting people as I
rolled around.
        As I swung my arms back and forth to propel myself forward, the wind whizzed by my head.
I loved skating on the sidewalk and making people and animals step aside to let me fly by without
striking them. The roller skates also were great for escaping bullies and angry people.
        Once I had a pair of used Roller Derby Troc Star adjustable girl outdoor roller skates. The
shoes were white, the back brace and wheels were lavender as was the brake stop in front. The ball
bearings were aluminum alloy. These skates were smooth sailing and flawless as they moved across
the cement. I felt like they were a part of my body.
        My friends were as committed to skating as I was. We had races, contests, and shows. The
shows produced great tricks, several broken bones, and countless skin knees and elbows. Of course
there were neither helmets nor knee and elbow pads back then. It was all out there for the pavement
to scrap off.
        Joy is in the satisfaction experienced by the skater, and I experienced joy. I am not sure
where my old roller skates are today, but I bet the ball bearings are still spinning smoothly.




                                                 19
                                                                                    Sarah Lewis-Stowe
Retreat to Home

         There is a house on Stanley Street that used to be my home. Blue, two family, two-car
garage, one and a half baths, two bedrooms, one fireplace. Our yard was bordered with a chain link
fence, consumed by rose bushes and azaleas. Our retreat from the rest of the neighborhood. The
mulberry tree in the back left stains over the walkway, left stains on my dad‘s mood when he had to
wash it. Miss Denise lived upstairs, and we lived on the first floor. My parents, me, and our dog. I
had a nice bedroom in that house, crawling with Barbies and stuffed animals, but, like any child, my
mother and father‘s bedroom overwhelmed me with interest. Every time I went in there it seemed
new and exciting. In that room, my mother and father had two closets, one being a very small room
off to the side. This, and all the treasures in it, belonged to my mother.
         This room has stayed with me, plastered itself into a pocket in my brain. Maybe it was the
way my mother crowded the walls with my artwork once the refrigerator was too congested. Maybe
it was the way the dressers lined the two walls, leaving just enough room in the middle to move
around, their drawers sprawling out sweaters, scarves, and panty hose. Maybe it was the way I felt
safe. Nothing could hurt me there. It was too rich, too lush, too soft. There was no window in this
room, but the light gave it a warm hazy glow like the late summer sun, orange, pink, and yellow.
Clutter has always been my mother‘s best ability in housekeeping. In any keeping. The dressers
didn‘t have surfaces anymore; they were gone, lost under decades of sweatshirts, jeans, and t-shirts.
Her jewelry boxes ruptured with beaded necklaces, clinking bracelets, and dangly earrings.
         In that room I was a hippie, a socialite, a princess, an animal. In that room, I slept. Finally,
my tumultuous mind unwound itself in a corral of blankets, pillows, and carpet. In that room, I
forgot. I forgot about Waterbury, forgot about the fire and the itchy blankets at the YMCA. In that
room, I forgot about the powdered milk, forgot about the black eyes and puffy lips, forgot about the
moving, about shuffling through different families. In that room, I was stationary. I was still,
unmoving, unchanging.
         Our retreat was just that. The rest of the neighborhood continued to tumble downward, until
three years later when our retreat wasn‘t such a retreat anymore. Miss Denise, rest her soul, was lost
there because of an unstable ex-boyfriend. As if my dad‘s discovery of her body was not sufficient, it
had collided with the morning of my mother‘s birthday. I will never be able to recall whether or not I
had school that day, because if I did I never got there. I woke up to police officers infesting our
house, crashing into our quiet, our calm, our happy. My parents were deafeningly silent. And as the
closet became just a closet, it also became too untidy and too claustrophobic for my nine-year-old
body.
         Two months later we were gone. We came to McKinley Avenue. White, one family, two-car
garage, three and a half baths, four bedrooms, two fireplaces. Now this house is my home, with my
parents, and our dogs, and my boyfriend. There is no Miss Denise upstairs to go to church with even
though I‘m Jewish, no mulberry tree for my dad to sporadically curse at. And now I have my own
walk-in closet, pink, and warm, and full of life.




                                                   20
                                                                                  Theresa J. Moscato
The Old Cabin

         I vividly recall going to my Uncle‘s cabin in Vermont when I was a child. During the
summer and spring, the cabin sat upon the greenest blades of grass, with surrounding woods that
provided the songs of woodland creatures. The trees in the woods surrounding the cabin began to
rust, and the grass began to die in the autumn. When we went up during the winter, it was a
challenge getting up the hill that was a long driveway to the top where the cabin stood, tall and
proud.
         The summers were filled with trips to amusement parks, namely, Santa‘s Village and Clark‘s
Trading Post, where we went on rides and saw shows, including my favorite at Clark‘s, involving
bears eating ice cream with their lovable owners. In the summer, there were countless trips to Lake
Willoughby and Crystal Lake (which as I grew older and fell in love with the horror genre put the
picture of Jason Voorhees in my mind) with mud fights. Hiking mostly took place in the summer,
and sometimes spring or autumn. At the end of August, we always went to the Caledonia County
Fair. One of my favorite moments during the summer was dancing in the mud after it had rained. I
remember the laughter that came along with the soggy dirt mashing in between my toes and flinging
mud at one another. The summer days were hot, but at night there was a natural, crisp, and
euphoric air conditioning.
         There wasn‘t much to do during the spring except crafts, our own games, or walking around
the trails in the woods nearby and catching frogs. Most of these things also took place during the
other seasons when we became bored or ran out of things to do.
         Apple picking was a given in the autumn, along with pumpkin picking. The air was fresh,
and the foliage was an uncoordinated, beautiful mix of yellows, oranges, reds, and browns, all
celebrating the winter that was just around the corner. Looking up one day, I spotted the perfect one.
It was red, shiny, and seemingly juicy. Reaching up, I grabbed the apple, twisting the stem until it
came undone from the branch.
         Autumn is probably my favorite season, but I would have to say that in Vermont, my
favorite season is winter. I so reminisce about the snowmobile rides in the dogsled that hung on to
the back of my Father‘s snowmobile, the snowball fights, making of igloos, sledding, and cups of hot
cocoa that waited for us inside. The list for activities in the winter is endless. One of my favorite
memories from winter time is probably my cousin and my run-in with the abominable snowman. As
we were just finished sledding for the night, my sister began to walk my cousin and me up the hill.
The walk seemed like forever, especially in the frigid months of winter. As we made our ascent, we
started to find these odd markings that dented the powdery snow.
         ―Uh-oh,‖ my sister said in a worried tone as she looked down at the marks.
         ―What is it?‖ my cousin and I asked.
         ―They‘re abominable snowman footprints,‖ my sister explained in a hushed voice. She told
us to be quiet because the tracks were fresh, so he must be nearby. We were all silent and took soft
steps until we heard a roar bellowing from the woods. My sister, cousin, and I ran to the cabin as
fast as we could with our winter gear. Everyone was there except for my brother. In fear, my cousin
and I frantically told of the encounter we almost had with the abominable snowman and told them
that it must have gotten my brother. Not long after he came through the door with snow shoes
adorning his feet that had made the markings of the beast we thought was out to get us.
         There are many more memories that still cling to me, like my mother‘s simple game that
made all us kids creep up as close as we could to her until she screamed ―Who‘s on my land!?‖ and
chased us around the deck that surrounded the cabin. Or, playing ―circus‖ with whomever of the
cousins went up to the cabin with their family and my family. I also recall slanting a mattress on
others and using it as a slide. A story that lives on and was developed in Vermont is the story of the
―headless snowmobile man‖ that my brother told to one of my cousins, scaring him out of his wits
for years on end.

                                                 21
        My family and I stopped going to my Uncle‘s cabin in the summer of 2000 for one,
unfortunate, heartbreaking reason. In July, nature had a vengeance, for what reason I do not know.
A lightning bolt was cast down on the cabin, sparking a fire that led to an untimely death of a
vacation home for a large, loving family. However, none of us stopped going to Vermont. Luckily,
my parents had bought property, and a bit later, after the gloomy destruction of a cabin and a friend,
my parents put a trailer home on the property. So, we still go up, and a few family members also
have their own cabin up there. Those that don‘t, we still bring up with us sometimes. There are old
memories that can never be remade and live on through the memory of the old cabin, but new
memories have been made, and they are still in the making. The memories in the old cabin were in
the prime of my childhood, and some of the best memories I have still live there on that land, which
we are close enough to still visit and still live in my mind.




                                                  22
                                                                                          LaDrea Moss

Everlasting

              Growing up in a rough neighborhood, there were little sports and activities to do that
benefited the neighborhood. Either we were running the streets or fighting with the people across
town. I always was the one to hang out with all the boys, I was a tomboy at heart and the boys were
the only ones there for me. They were my second family, and I did everything with them. Stole
bikes, played football, played hooky. But one day my friend introduced something to me that
became more than just a sport.
             The red, waterproof objects that once were a part of my life hung from my closet,
lifeless, motionless, similar to skeleton bones. Once alive to me, they became dust collectors and
objects that blended in with the walls. They were my first love as a child, well what I thought love
would be like if it were between an object and a person. However, just looking at them brought a
smile upon my face, a devilish grin and memories that only they and I had together. Imagination ran
wild like an untamed animal. Where it would go I didn‘t know. Maybe to the year we went
undefeated or to the time I had my first knockout. Wherever it went, it was always good memories,
never bad.
            Four years ago we were a team, before I was traded to a different team. Different and
new experiences, but boxing would never be forgotten. It became similar to an ex-boyfriend, still
around but not enough to acquire all my love. We had great times together that can‘t be replaced. It
taught me how to protect myself and gave me a confidence I thought I would never possess. It was
more than just about going in the ring swinging my fists. It showed discipline, hard work, and
responsibility. The dark red gloves that were stamped with a yellow logo that read ―Ever-last‖ were
my first love.
        Yellow lights filled my imagination, alone in my room, but I heard the announcer announce
my name. I put on my silk black and yellow robe, the mother of all bumblebees. I danced around in
my room, swinging my hands in a furious motion; I felt the cool breeze from my rapid fist
movement. Fire should have come out my knuckles, but that‘s a cartoon scene. I dropped to my
knees, put my head all the way back and let out a sigh. One arm pointed to the sky like the statue of
liberty, you couldn‘t see it under my gloves, but I was holding up my pointer finger. Symbolizing I
was the champ and number one.
        Four years and twenty minutes ago would become one of the most important times of my
boxing career. All the training and scarce dieting would finally pay off. I sat in the darkened room,
headphones in my ear, trying to calm the butterflies that flapped uncontrollably in my stomach. I
quenched my thirst with the Gatorade that would later be replaced with victory once I entered the
25-foot boxing ring. I was ready and determined; this was just another victim in my book, I was the
perfect author. Hearing a raspy voice, ―`Drea, it‘s time,‖ I rose my head up slowly and looked my
trainer in his eyes, we both were saying the same thing with them...it‘s time!
        Blood rushing, rapid movements, body shots, head shots, ducking, dodging, cheering, yelling,
this all went on for three rounds. She was tired, she sat on her wooden chair that barely looked
strong enough to hold up her drained body. She was breathing heavy as if she had run miles. She
was out of shape, neither fast nor strong enough to beat me. Her only advantage was that she was
five inches taller than me, but that also went unnoticed for I was the one standing tall in the
bloodstained ring. The bell rung, the last bell I will ever hear. Thirty seconds into the ring, I hit her
with two rib shots. It stung her; remember I‘m the queen bumblebee; I had that effect on my flowery
victims. She let out a similar noise to when you step on a dog‘s tail and did the worst thing. She let
her guard down and dropped her head, leaving it open for a knockout. I went for it, my arm hitting
her like an oncoming car, and she just stood and stared like a deer stuck in headlights. Her head
wobbled, it must have been made of Jell-O, she fell straight back, blood ran down her face from the


                                                   23
cut I left under her eye. She dropped and the referee ran to her and counted her out. She was out for
the count. My career and hers ended in the same night but due to different circumstances.
        Until this day, memories and images fill my head from time to time about my boxing days. I
miss it, all the five am workouts, the training, the matches. I miss all of it but sometimes think was it
a good decision to just give it all up after so much dedication. Maybe it was for the best, it made me
who I am today: a strong, independent woman that can stand on her own, number one in my ring.
Boxing was more than just a sport to me; it was a love, something that guided me in the right path.
The discipline from the hard training kept me off the streets and taught me more than my teachers
did back then. It molded me, and I thank boxing for making me who I am today.




                                                   24
                                                Fiction


                                                                                            Jeff Brown
Masterpiece for a Distant Friend

          Behind her eyes, a desert: ducts once able to produce lightly salted streams of water, caught
in a permanent drought. Beneath her smile hides whispers of the pain she wishes she could feel—
the anger, the hate, the love, the comfort, the happiness she desires, all escaping through muted
screams. Through her veins runs her life flow. One severed a half dozen times, yet never running
dry. Within her heart plays a hollow beat; a beat so faint, so helpless, it offers no change in rhythm
even under the wicked eye of fate.
          Here she sits, sprawled across the moss colored sofa, a living mannequin, a distant soul. She
never tries to question, she never sits in wonder. She merely is. A single look into her eyes offers no
insight, but a deeper gaze sends the weak willed to their knees, overtaken with sorrow. The light in
her eyes remains, a prisoner to the emptiness that consumes the rest of her being. It holds no
intention of abandoning the shell that confines it, not until its master‘s pulse throbs in unison with
the still of night.
          Deep within her mind, she remains but a child. Her gaze pointed upward at the moonlit
eternity, waiting, drifting, stolen. She watches with a gilded demeanor for that shooting star. Lips
prepped to send off her wish to the unknown granters of the heavens before the star falls into
oblivion.
          Seldom does she speak, yet thoughts whirl destructively through her shadowing mind. A
hurricane of words within her makes her an artist in her own way, able to sort the storm and create
complete tranquility. A talented curse to craft beauty from an otherwise sickly existence, one no
amount of splendor could liberate.
          Pen wielded to deliver her farewell, a note to the falling star she couldn‘t save, couldn‘t
catch, couldn‘t ask. The letter addressed to the lone existence she felt matched her own. Within this
goodbye, the final brilliant piece she‘d borne, no encores, no sequels, not a single hint is given
toward her intended request. Finally, with crimson ink she signs her name. A ghostly breath floats
through the air as a star silently falls through time across closed eyes. An unseen flash of light,
finally freed from the black, leaves a note unread. A masterpiece for a distant friend.




                                                  25
                                                                                   Theresa J. Moscato
In Season

        She quickly pulled up her underwear and pants that were around her ankles once he was
done with her.
        ―Why are you doing this? Please, let me go, please,‖ she pleaded with him
through rapid tears.
        ―Don‘t worry,‖ a menacing voice said, now out of sight, ―I will, I‘ll let you go. I let the rest
of ‗em go.‖
        ―Thank you. Oh, thank you,‖ the woman said, now with tears of joy and hope resonating in
her voice. However, she did not realize his vicious intentions.
        The man came out of the shadows and unlocked the chain that led from a wall to her neck,
which nearly choked her, and left pink tender marks. Once he detached the chain from her neck, he
pulled handcuffs out of his back pocket and used them with force, bringing her hands behind her
back and locking the cuffs tight around her fragile wrists.
        Only hours before this moment had this man, known as Randy throughout his town of
Anchorage, searched for a new victim, and when he had found her brought her back to his house
and made sure she couldn‘t get away.
        Randy was well known through the town, well known and loved. He was the perfect
gentleman, and that must have been why his wife fell for him at the naïve age of seventeen. No one
knew, however, that he was abused as a child, not even his own wife. The abuse which led to his
teenage years and caused him to go mad in ways. Eventually, he learned how to overcome the
madness.
        She was a prostitute named Jenny that Randy had slept with in a hotel the night before he
brought her home and brutalized her.
        He waited to take Jenny there so that his wife and children would be out of the house. His
children in school and his wife visiting her parents in the next town over.
        ―Get up,‖ he commanded, in a somewhat gentle tone, if such a thing was possible for the
fiend that preyed on prostitutes and exotic dancers. The fiend that drained his victims of their lives
with horrendous rapes and violent beatings before completely taking that which he drained away.
The fiend that said he let them all go; and he did.
        She wriggled in an effort to stand and eventually did as she got herself in a kneeling position
and forced her legs up beneath her body. When she finally did stand, he put his left hand on the back
of her neck and directed her to the garage where his car sat and waited for another trophy to be
hidden away in the trunk.
        He brought her to the trunk of his car, and still with his left hand at her neck, he reached in
one of his front pockets and pulled out a chiming set of keys. Browsing the set for a particular one,
he found the one he was looking for, pushed it up with his thumb and pressed against it with his
index finger. He put the key into the lock, turning it until it jolted upward and made a slight popping
sound.
        ―Now, you‘re gonna get in the trunk. If you struggle, and fight back, I‘ll kill you. Got it?‖
        ―Yes,‖ she answered.
        ―Good. Now get in.‖
        She did what he demanded of her, sitting on the edge and coiling herself into the trunk of his
beloved, baby blue, Chevrolet Chevelle. He looked at her with knowing eyes, wicked eyes. He
slammed the trunk shut, and soon after, the frightened woman could hear him start the car and felt it
take off.
        He hummed and whistled to tunes on his favorite tape, and even sang along with a couple of
favorites, ―Ring of Fire,‖ ―Always on My Mind,‖ ―Jolene, ―King of the Road,‖ and ―Mama Tried.‖
Jenny could even hear him at some times in the trunk of the car, especially when he sang bits of


                                                  26
―Always on My Mind.‖ That was Randy‘s usual routine on the ride to desolation for the victim and
heaven for him. That and thinking of how he wanted to do the deed.
         About half an hour later or so, Jenny figured, is when he came to a stop and turned off the
engine. Randy knew it was a 45 minute ride. Jenny became disoriented and wondered where he had
taken her. Randy opened the trunk and stood between her and the blinding, morning sun. He lifted
her out, only to reveal an abandoned field with an airplane, his airplane, more to the right side of the
field.
         He put her down on her bare feet and once again guided her by the neck. She began to run,
and eventually he caught up to her catching her in his grip as she continued to struggle.
         ―You said you were gonna let me go!‖she explained, and tears made her eyes bubble.
         ―Yeah, but I didn‘t say where, and I didn‘t say how.‖
         Soon enough he got her in the plane, started it up, and took off when everything was ready.
At a high distance up, Jenny wondered if it would be better to jump from this height and just die,
than go through what he may have in store for her. She figured she might as well wait and see if
there was any chance of escape, than simply to die. Jenny promised herself that if she got out of this,
she would clean herself up, stop the drugs and the prostitution, and she would take care of her two
young children, one four and the other six, who were staying with her parents until she fixed her
own life, and now she promised she would.
         After a while, he landed the plane at a remote cabin with surrounding woods but enough
room in between the forest and cabin to land a small plane. They exited the aircraft, and he grabbed
her by the arm this time, pushing her into the shelter. Once inside, she looked around seeing heads,
or trophies, of multiple animals on every wall. They stared at her with polished, fear-kept eyes,
knowing a dark secret she would soon learn.
         He raped her again, cutting and leaving her clothes off and then beat her with anger clutched
in his fists until bright red drops slid from her nose. She felt as if she were still being beat, even when
he had finally stopped, like the legs of bicycle riders feel after riding for a while, like they‘re still
riding.
         ―Why won‘t you let me go?‖ she asked behind hot tears that felt as though they burned her
puffed cheeks.
         ―C‘mon,‖ he said snatching up her numb, naked body. ―I think I‘ll leave you handcuffed.
Heck, let‘s make it more fun for me.‖
         He went to a drawer and pulled a black blindfold out. He tied it around her head, over her
eyes, and soon they were outside again, only she didn‘t realize the rifle he had in his hands.
         ―Run,‖he whispered in her ear.
         ―What?‖
         ―I‘m gonna give you a head start, and then I‘m comin‘ after you, so you better run.‖ Saying
those words gave him pleasure, and he cracked a smile that grew when she listened to his alarming
advice.
         She could hear the predator count to ten, and then shout, ―Ready or not, here I come!‖
         She tripped over a fallen branch, and as she grasped the ground to help lift her up, she could
hear something close by. She finally got her bare body, which was now dirty and scratched up off of
the ground. She didn‘t know what to do, and she was blinded by this cruel material. She got an idea,
as she felt for a tree and tried to peel the blindfold off by scraping it against rough bark, paining her
face even more. It didn‘t work; he had tied it too tight.
         Jenny‘s breath became heavier with each unknowing step. She began to weep, thinking of
her children, her parents, the life she should have lived, the way she should have died.
         He wondered what he was having for dinner tonight after he got home from hard work at his
own bakery that he and his wife had opened up about two years ago. He looked at his watch,
realizing it was time to open the bakery in two hours. Time to end this game, he thought.
         Randy aimed very meticulously and fired. It entered the sternum of his prey and exited a
shoulder blade, killing her in that single shot. He went to collect his prize and brought her to a

                                                    27
shallow grave he dug at a nearby river. As he buried his trophy next to the others, he felt the
madness lift off of his shoulders. This killing would hold him over for a month or two at the most.
       As Randy covered Jenny with the softened dirt, he slowly hummed ―Ring of Fire‖ and
thought to himself with an ominous smile, they’re always in season.




                                                 28
                                                                                      Malissa Bowles

Auto Cemetery

         It had rained hard the night before, but the spring sun was now reflected in the water
surrounding each dismembered car. Alice stood mesmerized, staring out at the bodies of metal,
steel, plastic, and iron laid before her in uneven rows. She held the wheel cover that had
been broken when her right front tire hit an uneven curb and deflated immediately. Her buddy Jim
had repaired the tire and rim but told her to scrounge the auto junk yard for a replacement wheel
cover. Now she faced a full sea of wrecked automobiles, not knowing in which direction to find a
used cover for her wheel.
         Alice had been the boy her father had not had. Short and wiry but a fast learner, she grew up
steeped in cars. She truly loved them and received a lot of satisfaction from driving, tinkering with,
and repairing them in her father‘s commercial garage.
         She thought she was talking to herself when she said out loud, ―There must be some order to
this chaos of junk?‖
         ―There is.‖ She heard a voice that appeared to come from a white-gray Honda Odyssey
2001, V6 cargo.
         ―What?‖ Alice said to the car. ―Did you just speak to me?‖
         ―Yes! We need your help,‖ the Honda said. ―We have been waiting for you, Alice. We are
not junk, we still have value.‖
         Alice protested, ―I can‘t do that.‖ She started to run down the cleared path, trying to avoid
the large puddles that coated the dirt covered ground that made up the yard. Remembering her goal
to find a used Chevy Impala tire wheel cover, she slowed her pace and heard a hushed tone come
over the lot. Autos were crying, yelling, and shouting her name. ―Alice, over here. Tell them it was
not our fault.‖
         Confused, Alice walked on trying to ignore the voices, but they persisted. Doors remained
open, hoods were raised, trunks wouldn‘t close, batteries were unhooked, spark plugs hung loose,
and windshields were missing. From in front of her, a 2005 blue BMW wailed, ―Look at me, I‘m
one of the fastest cars on the road; why did they put me in here?‖
          Alice shrugged her shoulders and walked on still looking for wheel covers.
A 2003 Volvo with black leather seats and loaded with extras, reached out, ―There were two little
girls in the back seat not buckled down, mother was on the cell. It wasn‘t my fault. Drivers have to
keep their eyes on the road. Please tell them.‖
         Another Toyota Yaris, 1998, 3-door hatchback with AC and folding rear seat, spoke up.
―See my side. It is all smashed in. I was rolling down the avenue minding my own business when a
2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 4 doors, V8 came out of a driveway and broadsided me. It wasn‘t my
fault. Tell them.‖
         The bright sun was setting and the yammering cars were still pitching their tales of woo.
Alice had looked from one end to the other of the yard for a Chevy wheel cover to no avail. Her feet
were wet, perspiration ran down her back, and her clothes and hands were dirty. She remembered
her father‘s saying, ―Even a ‗Tom Boy‘ has to give up, sometimes.‖
         Alice started back to the office of Harry‘s and Jake‘s Auto junk yard, and she had to pass the
2001 Honda again. ―How would you like it if people came to where you live and picked at you and
took vital parts of your chassis without asking or closing your hood when they were finished?‖ It
sobbed. Alice climbed the stairs to the flat platform that extended from the back of the building and
turned once again to take a look at the view with amazement. Before her were silver, white, green,
black, auto chasses that lay before her. The sounds were muted now, but the sadness hung in the air.
She took a deep breath and entered the shop. Harry, wearing a baseball cap on his balding head, was
wiping his greasy hands on his already greasy jeans and said, ―Did you find anything you can use?‖
         ―No,‖ she replied. ―Did you know that those cars can talk?‖ Alice said.

                                                  29
        ―Yes. Everyone that comes in here says the cars cry out to them for help. I‘ve had this yard
for 15 years, and I have never heard a word from a car. I think the thought of so many dead cars is
ghostly and plays on your imagination.‖ He grinned and turned to his partner Jake, who was tall
and slim, and said, ―Another one.‖ They both laughed heartily.
        Alice exited the office and was visibly shaken. She sat in her car for at least five minutes
gathering her wits. She remembered she needed to put the old broken wheel cover in her truck and
got out to lift the lid. As she did, a big black flatbed truck pulled up to the gate and blew its horn.
The gate slowly slid to one side to allow the truck to enter. On its back was a small compact 2007
Volkswagen Beetle red convertible with extensive damage. As Alice looked up, she heard, ―Help
me! I told the mechanic the brakes were not mounted correctly. No one listens. Tell them it was not
my fault.‖
        Alice waved and shouted, ―I‘ll tell them,‖ and the gate slid closed behind the little red car.




                                                  30
                                                                                        Capree D. Irvin


The Choice of Guilt


         Christina woke up with a weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. She didn‘t know if it was
because it was empty or if she was just nervous. Feeling too tired and weak to get out of bed at the
moment, she pulled the covers back over her head and thought about what her life would be like if
she had this baby. Knowing that she could barely take care of herself, she decided to go ahead with
the appointment this morning for an abortion.
         Getting out of bed she felt a twinge of hunger come over her, but the thought of food
instantly made her nauseous. Pulling a pair of rumpled jeans out of her closet, she proceeded to get
herself ready to go. When she finished getting dressed, she walked downstairs into the kitchen for a
small glass of water, since that was all she was allowed to have before the procedure. She was glad
she didn‘t have to force food down this morning because it wasn‘t like it was going to stay down
anyway.
         Back upstairs, Christina grabbed her toothbrush and went to the bathroom. As soon as the
toothpaste touched her tongue, she gagged. She was tired of this. Everything made her feel sick.
Finally finished with her grooming, Christina wearily sat on the soft couch in the living room. She
wished she could go back to sleep but knew she would be unsuccessful. She hadn‘t had a restful
sleep since she found out she was pregnant.
         She picked up her cell phone and called her boyfriend. ―Hello,‖ she said.
         ―Hey,‖ he replied on the third ring.
         ―I just finished dressing and am leaving in a few minutes. You‘re still coming right?‖ she
asked, hoping he was.
         There was a long pause. ―Umm, something came up. I won‘t be able to make it, but I want
you to call me as soon as you get home,‖ he answered.
         Tears rolled down her face as she slammed her phone closed without saying goodbye. She
couldn‘t believe that he wasn‘t going to come with her. He helped to create this problem, but he
didn‘t want to help solve it. Nothing should have been more important than being there for her and
showing his support. Christina quickly wiped away the tears with the sleeve of her sweatshirt and
tried to forget about him when she heard her mother‘s footsteps descending down the creaky
staircase. She knew that meant it was time to go.
         ―Ready?‖ her mom asked with a hint of concern in her voice.
         ―Yeah.‖ Christina got up and walked to the front door. ―There‘s no other choice,‖ she
continued as her mom closed and locked the front door and they headed to the car in the cold
morning air.
         After a few minutes in the car during the silent ride, Christina started to feel nauseous again.
She cracked the window open to get some fresh air, hoping it would make her feel better. As she got
closer to the Planned Parenthood office, she was afraid that she would see the pro-life protesters she
always heard so much about. She was relieved when she didn‘t see any. Christina undid her seatbelt
and slowly got out of the car. She waited for her mom to get out and lock the doors, and then they
walked to the front door. She was glad to have her mom by her side and that she didn‘t have to do
this alone.
         Christina signed in and was handed a clipboard full of paperwork. Knowing that she was too
weak to fill out any papers, her mom filled them out for her. After signing her sloppiest signature,
Christina brought the paperwork back up to the front desk. On her way back she felt judging stares.
She knew her petite frame made her look younger than her eighteen years, but it still made her angry
how quickly people judged others without knowing the whole story. And not only that, but they
were obviously in there for the same reasons. If it wasn‘t them getting the procedure, then they were

                                                   31
there to show their moral support for someone who was. Sitting back in the faded blue chair, she
leaned on her mother‘s shoulder. She really didn‘t feel well and couldn‘t wait to feel better.
          Minutes turned to hours, and she heard everyone else‘s names being called, even the people
who came in after her. She had to use the bathroom so bad, but she tried to hold it because she knew
as soon as she got in the back they would ask for a urine sample. After a few more minutes,
Christina felt like her bladder was going to explode, so she went to the bathroom in the corner of the
waiting room. Before she could sit back down in the chair next to her mother, her name was called.
          She was glad she was a step closer to having this over with, but knew she wouldn‘t be able to
use the bathroom again that soon.
          ―I just used the bathroom. I don‘t think I can give a sample right now.‖ Christina told the
nurse.
          ―If you can‘t give a sample now you can go back into the waiting room. We will try again in
a little while or you can try to give a sample. We don‘t need much,‖ the nurse told her.
          Determined not to go through the waiting process again, Christina went into the brightly lit
bathroom, turned on the rusty faucet, and listened as the water ran. She didn‘t think it would work,
but to her surprise she got enough out for them to test. After putting the cup with her urine sample
into the small door, she went into a small room that resembled a doctor‘s office. She got her finger
pricked, blood pressure, and weight checked, and the pregnancy was confirmed. Christina then went
into an official looking room filled with pamphlets on birth control. A middle aged lady came into
the room and started talking to her. After getting a brief description of the different methods
available to her, Christina decided on wearing the weekly birth control patch.
          The doctor then led Christina down a short, narrow hallway into yet another room. This
room was another waiting room, but it had a small part sectioned off by a curtain for the patients to
change into gowns. The gowns were made out of the same material as the paper towels that were in
the bathroom. After changing into the gown, Christina cautiously sat down in fear that she would
rip her gown and expose herself to the other women in the room. There was a small television set
above the door. Everyone else in the room occupied themselves with the rerun of ―The Proud
Family,‖ a Disney Channel cartoon, so she sat and watched the marathon of the cartoon until her
name was called.
          The nurse pointed to the room across the hall. Christina walked toward the room, but with
each step it seemed like she was getting farther away from the room. Finally, making it into the
room she was greeted by a bunch of unfamiliar faces. She knew it didn‘t take four people to do the
procedure but continued to do as told because she didn‘t know what else there was for her to do. She
lay on the bed and felt a sudden pain in her arm. She hadn‘t realized that the older man to her right
stuck a needle in her arm for an IV, while the nurse to her left tried to distract her by talking about
the cold January weather. Christina continued to listen to the nurse when she heard a noise that
sounded like a vacuum cleaner. She tried to lift up a little bit to look but the older man held her
down so she couldn‘t move at all. Confused with the unnecessary force the man was using, she sat
back and cried as she heard her flesh and blood sucked into the fetus eating machine. The old man
noticed her tears and said, ―You should have thought about the consequences before you got in the
bed with that boy.‖
          With hurt feelings, Christina jumped off the table when the procedure was over. She rushed
out of the room, trying to put the realness of this moment out of her mind.
          She was disappointed to find out that she had to sit in a different room for a while to make
sure she was alright. The room had big, comfy chairs that were tall and lots of cabinets. Christina sat
in the chair that was directly in front of the door so when they told her she could leave she would
run out of the room. The doctor gave her a can of ginger ale and a few crackers. She sipped on the
ginger ale but left the crackers sitting on the side table. Noticing that Christina had no intention of
eating the crackers, he said, ―You can‘t leave until you eat at least two crackers.‖
          ―Everything I eat makes me nauseous.‖ Christina said.
          ―Just eat the crackers. You won‘t get sick,‖ he assured her.

                                                  32
          Christina took two small bites of a cracker and felt fine. Realizing that the doctor was right,
she continued to eat the crackers. She sat there for a half hour nibbling on her crackers, then the
doctor came up to her and gave her two containers of pills that she would have to take for the next
few days and the box of birth control patches. Finally able to leave, Christina ran to the waiting
room to find that her mom was the only person in there. She felt bad that her mom was all alone but
glad she was able to leave.
         In the car, Christina felt hungry for the first time in weeks. She asked her mom to stop at
McDonalds and ordered a hamburger and a small fry. She was glad that it was over and that she
finally felt a little better. Pushing aside the hospital like smell of that room still lingering in her nose
and causing her guilt, Christina bit into the hamburger, glad that she could finally eat one of her
favorite foods again.




                                                     33
                                                                                    Stephanie Lemieux

Headline-Inspired Pity

         The evening set in as the darkness of winter cut the day short. A small thirteen-inch
television set gave off a dim glow as Kevin absent-mindedly flipped through the channels,
awakening from a day-long drunken stupor. As his hangover lingered, he sat slouched on his worn-
in olive green sofa. Empty beer cans littered the coffee table in front of him as their alcoholic stench
filled the air. Kevin continued to gaze emptily at the tube until he eventually settled on the Channel
Five news. It seemed like the only connection he had with the outside world and what was going on
outside of his dismal apartment. His attention barely kept up with the headlines until one of the
anchors announced a horrific bullying incident at the local elementary school. The redheaded
reporter exclaimed that a child who had been consistently made fun of climbed to the top of a
playground slide. He was seconds away from jumping when a teacher arrived to save the day, as
well as his life. Such a bittersweet story made an alarm go off in Kevin‘s mind as images of the past
were vividly brought back to life.

         Kevin had always been the bully at school. His soft, emotional interior was hid under a
rough and cruel outer facade. He never hesitated to ridicule his peers, making them upset and
fearful. Out of all his former classmates, there was one in particular who flashed into Kevin‘s
thoughts. It was Jerry Edwards, who he had always been the cruelest to. Jerry was the outcast of the
class – the nerdy, quiet kid who sat in the corner without ever bothering a soul. He had always worn
high-waisted pants with suspenders to complement his thick glasses and brace face smile. This
appearance made him the target of many harsh jokes and pranks. Kevin had brought him to tears on
numerous occasions, and eventually, Jerry sacrificed his attendance to stay at home in peaceful
solitude. In hindsight, Kevin realized he had no true motives for his ill-mannered ways. He merely
had several insecurities that he didn‘t know how to deal with, and he had been taught not to show
weakness. If the news report came from his playground, Jerry would have been the one about to
jump, while Kevin would be the red-handed culprit. As he realized this, Kevin felt defeated by guilt.
Wanting to forget what he had just seen, he turned off his television, threw the remote on the couch
and headed to bed.

        Though Kevin had wanted to fall asleep, his mind worked against him. He tossed and turned
on his old rusty cot as he wrestled with his thoughts. Unanswered questions about Jerry tormented
him. ―What ever happened to him? What‘s he doing now? Did he ever find success? Is he even still
alive?‖ Kevin lay awake incessantly wondering as his brain worked at lightning speed. Soon enough,
he gave up on getting any shuteye and sprung up out of bed. He walked through his apartment,
turning all the lights on before stopping to take a good look around. The ivory carpet was spotted
with several dark stains, the blinds were crooked, there was a mountain of dirty dishes in his sink –
the gloominess of his surroundings were a perfect match for the hopelessness he felt inside. He
turned his attention to the tool belt hanging up on the shelf across from him. It had been collecting
dust for months. Kevin had really liked his carpentry job, and he missed having meaning and
purpose in his life. He was tired of spending all his unemployment checks on booze, of drunken
moping, of being alone, and of feeling sorry for himself. The late night silence brought out his
introspection. Instead of reaching for a beer to numb his thoughts, he searched through the phone
book to look up Jerry‘s address.

         When dawn broke the next day, Kevin awoke to prepare for the nerve-wracking day ahead
of him. He re-introduced himself to his shower that he had not seen in a week, and dug through his
abysmal closet to find the most formal attire he owned – a pair of khaki cargo pants and a deep red
polo shirt. He slicked his messy mop of hair back, shaved the scruff off of his chin and headed out to
his car. Scraping snow off his windshield, he began to second-guess himself. Was he really ready to

                                                   34
go back to Arrow Lake? It was a three-hour drive east, and he hadn‘t been there very much since he
had graduated high school ten years ago. His apprehensiveness brought him back inside to
unwillingly greet his liquor cabinet. He filled a flask with vodka and tucked it deep into his pocket.
―Just in case,‖ he thought to himself. He knew of no other way to calm his nerves, as alcohol was
the most comforting friend he had.

        It was mid-afternoon when Kevin turned the corner onto Ashland Lane, a quiet side-street
brimming with large upscale homes. The last time Kevin was in this part of town, there had been
nothing but a large wooded area. He allowed his driving to slow to a crawl as he searched for the
mailbox that would be labeled #58. The neighborhood‘s seemingly well-to-do residents peaked
through their curtains in fear, likening Kevin to an alien or murderer just released from prison.
When he reached his destination, Kevin stopped to marvel at the sheer size of the house in front of
him. It was three, if not four, stories set on at least a full acre of land. Mustering up his confidence,
he got out of his car and headed up the long wide walkway towards the oak front door. He noticed
the sleek black sedan in the driveway and assumed that it cost Jerry quite a pretty penny. Growing
up, Kevin had always dreamed of owning a luxury vehicle. Reality came back into focus when he
turned to glance at his own car, a rusted red station wagon. His envy grew deeper when he noticed
the decal on Jerry‘s back windshield. It said ―Amnehall University Alumni‖ in bold font. Kevin had
only passed high school by the skin of his teeth but had always wanted to go to college. As he
realized how much his life paled in comparison to Jerry‘s, he felt a sense of despair.

       After taking a deep breath, Kevin rang the doorbell. A minute or two passed before Jerry
opened the door and gave him a look of bewilderment.

―Can I help you, sir?‖

―Jerry Edwards?‖

―That would be me.‖

―It‘s Kevin. Kevin Smith.‖

Jerry stared at Kevin blankly for a moment before the puzzle pieces came together in his mind.

―What on Earth are you doing here?‖ There was an angry tone in his voice.

―I thought maybe we could catch up. It‘s been quite a while.‖

―So why would you show up at my house uninvited, without warning, after god knows how long?
You must be out of your mind.‖

―I know it‘s unexpected, but I just…I just felt compelled to come here.‖

―Like you were compelled to act like an asshole all those years?‖

Jerry‘s words hit Kevin hard. He stopped to re-compose himself.

―I‘m not trying to re-live our playground days, Jerry. I guess I just want to make peace. What do you
say we go grab a beer or two?‖

―At three in the afternoon?‖

―Never mind. How about coffee?‖


                                                   35
―Where?‖

―I like Joe To Go.‖

―You‘re kidding me, right?‖

―No, why? Where do you usually go?‖

―Café de Fantaisie.‖

―Ah, I see you like the fancy java joints. Well, we can go to café de whatever and it‘ll be my treat.‖

Jerry paused and looked down at the ground, contemplating whether or not Kevin was worth any of
his time.

―Alright,‖ Jerry sighed. ―You win.‖




                                                  36
                                                                                        Eric Eichler

Miro the Gunsmith
         The trees rustled overhead through the thicket of the mosaic of green, rouge, and mahogany.
A brown blur was seen hopping beneath the tropical canopy, almost like that of the ancient ninja
warrior of Japanese folklore. The stillness of the Brazilian jungle seemed to be interrupted by the tree
jumper, some animals giving off shrill cries of territorial or maternal protection. The figure paid
them no mind, however, as the brown flash maneuvered through and through. Soon enough, he
arrived at his destination, which appeared to be a small brown shack that stood in a tiny clearing.
The sunlight beamed upon the cabin, but the figure itself rushed inside before it could be seen.
         Upon the jungle grounds, more mysterious figures concealed themselves amongst the
shrubbery, slowly moving in on where the brown blur had made is descent. The little brown cabin
was quickly surrounded by hidden men, only identifiable by the gleam of the sunlight reflecting off
the barrels of their rifles.
         ―Ah! So hard to get good Chinese food these days…or any Chinese for that matter! I‘m so
sick of the local fruit and seafood mixes, I need some variety!‖
         The brown blur was finally revealed, it was no more than a single man. He wasn‘t too tall or
intimidating-looking either. Through the naked eye, one could measure him to stand around 5‘10,
maybe 5‘9 if he took off his shoes (which incidentally, were only shoes, not height elevating boots).
His physical appearance seemed to be normal as well. He was a white man, English by judge of his
earlier whining of the lack of food variety. His face was tan, darker than most English folk,
determining that he had been in this atmosphere for at least a while now. His hair was short, spiky,
and neatly slicked back, a darker, more dirty shaded hue of amber in color. His attire, however, did
not seem fitting for a jungle warrior, if one would consider him that. Hopping through the trees was
commonplace, not something impressionable among the natives of Brazil. But nevertheless, he wore
a long sleeved white cotton shirt, covered by a thin brown leather vest. The upper outfit was nicely
complemented with a matching pair of brown khaki slacks covering his lower body, finished off with
his aforementioned shoes, also of symmetrical color. However, it seemed that he was not without
protection, as a brown leather holster belt sat loosely around his waist, with two small pistols sitting
in the holster pockets on the sides of his hips. He seemed rather excited about his rare lunch.
         Outside, silent death was continuing to slowly creep around the cabin, ready to eliminate the
unsuspecting Englishman inside. The stalkers were intelligent enough not to talk to each other, and
communicated their actions through a series of simple hand gestures. The forces seemed to have
finished amassing. It looked calm and empty of the outside. But quite obviously, looks can be
deceiving.
         Within the debilitated shack, the man walked over to a small table with his plastic bag of
food. He smiled, licking his thin faded peach lips, taking out a few small white cardboard containers
and a plastic spork. He dug the spork deep into an opened box of Chow Mein noodles, but before
he could take a bite he heard a noise just outside his cabin. He slowly set the box down onto the
small brown wooden coffee table and listened more intently. Creeping…stalking…skulking…Click?
His eyebrows rose, and he instinctively thrust the coffee table toward the window and dove behind a
tattered green couch to seek cover.
         ―OPEN FIRE!‖
         Immediately, before the table could even hit the window, a hellstorm of bullets blitzed the
entrance to his house, stealing away the silent jungle ambiance. The combination of the seemingly
endless barrage exploded in a fiery cacophonous roar, shattering everything within. The man lay
behind the couch and covered his ears, waiting for the infinite rush to end. The wooden cabin was
being shredded like pulled pork, splinters flying about almost like shrapnel. On the outside, the
same commander of the firing squad had stood up from his kneeling position and commanded his
small battalion to cease fire. ―There‘s no doubt that bastard Miro could have lived through that! I
don‘t care how excellent of a gunslinger he is, he‘s not a ghost! Well, he could be now, hee hee hee.‖

                                                  37
          Smoke lingered from the shack and from the jungle within, from the hidden magnums and
submachine guns. The rest of the battalion removed themselves from their hidden shot points,
feeling the same confidence their leader did. As they all rejoiced for having finally killed the
legendary hero of Brazil, the door flew into the distance, a forceful kick sending it flying off its
already weakened hinges. The man who was called Miro had emerged from the bullet brazed house
and leapt up into the sky and in front of the sun, silhouetting his body. He drew a pair of twin pistols
from its side holsters, and began to rain his own hell upon the assassins. He fired them as rapidly as
single shot guns could fire, rampaging throughout, men groaning and screaming from being pierced.
Blood spattered everywhere across the shrubbery, trees, and exotic flowers, giving them a new
crimson stain. He landed gracefully, quickly striking a battle pose. His arms were crossed over his
chest, pistols gleaming underneath the sun, as his left foot was crooked back and his right pushed
forward. Guns cocked and ready to resume fire, Miro began to dance to a silent beat he generated in
his head, and rushed the remaining shooters. With a swift spin jump, he launched himself and
kicked a few more nameless foes, spinning on his left foot and kicking with his right. He tossed his
pistols high into the air, his arms and legs moving with fluent symmetry, as he delivered a smooth
punch and two kicks before dropping himself onto his hands and propelling his body in a circular
motion, sweeping more men off their feet. He then pushed himself up in a forward flip, catching the
falling pistols in a cross motion, the sun sparkling off his pearly white smile. He slicked back his hair
and aimed his guns. Aside from the moaning and groaning from the ones who were physically
battered, the remaining assassins immediately dropped their weapons and turned tail, screaming
painfully, leaving trails of tears, snot, and urine behind. ―He‘s a monster!‖
          ―He‘s inhuman!‖
          ―He‘s a fucking freak of nature!‖
          ―Screw this, I‘m getting the fuck outta here!‖
          The cries of the assailants filled Miro with great satisfaction, as he sheathed his pistols back
into their holsters. He walked back into his cabin to attend to his lunch, but he saw nothing but a
destructive mess. ―Son of a bitch! My lunch is ruined! Do they know how long it takes to get to
town from here?!‖
          ―Well, I glad SOMETHING of our efforts was able to ruin your day.‖
          A familiar voice cackled the retort. It was deep and full of bass, sounding a bit on the chaotic
side, heavy with a Spanish accent. It was the same voice that commanded the dirty looking guerilla
battalion that fled for their lives, even though Miro hadn‘t killed any of the ones he had taken down.
He looked over with a fierce look of anger in his face. ―Kaue Souza! I should have figured it would
be you after me again. Don‘t you learn to quit? I always kick your sorry arse every time we meet!‖
          ―Ha ha, but it is you who should get his, how you say, ‗arse‘, kicked. For today, I have with
me a weapon not even you know of, so called master gunsmith!‖
          Kaue laughed quite confidently as he pulled out what looked to be a modified AK-47 spray
rifle. It contained a much larger sight scope, with a specialized M-203 grenade launcher attachment
that was capable of rapid firing 6 grenades within a 5 second burst twice its original design, which
only shoots one at a time. The wooden stock and barrel had also been replaced with platinum plates
designed to absorb the recoil of the grenade shots and the modified firing specs that now could shoot
single .50 caliber rounds along with its normal rapid firing 7.62 millimeter rounds. The magazine
chamber remained intact for the normal rounds, but there was now a belt fed chamber for the belt of
.50 caliber rounds, strapped around Kaue‘s chest like a sash. Kaue himself wore a tattered straw hat
and a dirty white t-shirt, accompanied with slightly torn blue denim jeans and black strap-on
sandals. His skin was as dark as a chestnut shell, his body a lot more intimidating than Miro‘s frail
build. He held his specialized weapon in his shoulder and scoffed smugly at Miro, confident that he
would finally kill the do-gooder and be the hero of the Brazilian underworld. Miro eyed the rifle in
his enemy‘s shoulder, and instead of looking worried or afraid, a gleam of childlike excitement filled
his eyes. ―That rifle of yours…does it have a name?‖ he questioned, almost endearingly.


                                                   38
         ―It is my special weapon. You‘ll have to take it from my cold, lifeless body, and I already
know you don‘t have the fortitude to kill me, or anyone for that matter! You‘re too soft, gunsmith!
That will be your undoing!‖
         Miro said nothing else. He figured he‘d either have to knock him unconscious, or cripple
him with bullets to the arms and legs. Or he could go with a tranquilizer gun. As he thought to
himself, and Kaue had ceased his laughter and aimed his rifle. Miro saw a .50 caliber round feed
into the belt chamber and immediately he fled into the thicket of the jungle for concealment.
Quickly, he detached the magazines and inserted fresh ones full of rounds. Kaue identified his
location through the noise and fired the round in his direction. The giant bullet razed through the
jungle easily, destroying anything in its path. Miro‘s senses instantly kicked in, and he dropped
down onto his hands, his legs lifted in air and watched the bullet fly overhead. He then pushed
himself upward onto a tree and hastily climbed up. Down below, a giant shell fell from the belt of
the AK-47, and he quickly loaded a new one. Miro leapt from the treetops in a diagonal downward
spiral, and Kaue did not have the opportunity to shoot. Instead, he lifted a rather muscular right arm
with a bulky fist at the end of it, and it met Miro‘s spinning drill kick, easily parrying his attack.
Miro kicked and back flipped a distance away. He landed on his feet and crossed his arms forward,
aiming at Kaue. In turn, Kaue aimed his modified spray rifle at Miro, and the two were caught in a
classic standoff.




                                                 39
                                                                                   Nini Munro-Chmura
Welcome To War

         Nineteen-year-old private first class James Sullivan started his third perimeter patrol through
the dark jungle. He could just make out the camp-radio. The song echoed in his head competing
with the cacophony of insects, frogs, and other night jungle sounds.
         "…you got me sneakin’ and a-peepin’ and runnin’ you down."
         He walked on – farther from camp. It was the absence of the night noises that alerted him
more than anything else. A slight rustling of foliage nearby brought him up short. He ducked down
off the path. ―Who‘s there?‖
         Silence.
         ―Come out with your hands in the air.‖ James felt his testicles retract. Sweat souring with
fear trickled down his back and from his armpits and blossomed on his khaki t-shirt.
         His first week in ‗Nam and he‘d been sent out on perimeter duty every night.
         The jungle was quiet. He strained to make out any noise, any movement. Faintly the camp
music came through the leaves and thick air.
         "…I'm gettin' tired of waitin' and foolin' around…"
          There! He heard leaves moving again. It was closer this time. He raised his M16 rifle to
shoulder level and felt the weight and moisture of his hands dragging the muzzle downward toward
the leaf-strewn ground. He wondered if he had the courage to actually fire.
         These slanty-eyed gooks were people just like him, weren‘t they? The noise came from his
left now. He shifted and tensed his thumb and index finger on the trigger guard as he crouched.
James squinted his eyes trying to make out shapes in the dusky, gloom filled night, while ignoring
the voracious mosquitoes.
         He could discern some of those jungle noises. The sounds of peepings, clicks, squeaks, and
flutters. He relaxed slightly, still vigilant. He wished Diablo were by his side. They were a single unit
focused on the kill when Diablo and he went hunting in the north woods of Vermont. The cocking
of his ears or rising of his hackles could tell James volumes about what he, with inferior human-
senses, could not detect.
         James flared his nostrils and inhaled quietly but smelled only the foreign rich profusion of life
and jungle decay.
         Suddenly a figure loomed in front of him. He fired a six rounds burst. The shadow crumpled
to the jungle floor. Silence again except for the damn music.
         "…You got me runnin' and hidin' all over town."
         James was immobile. Listening intently. The frogs started chirping again. He waited for
what seemed a long time, then jumped to his feet, clawed at the flashlight in his hip pocket, and
shone it on the face of the corpse sprawled on the ground. His stomach heaved. The rounds had
missed her face, but not much else. Her crumpled body was mangled. Her left arm entirely shot off
lay half-a-yard away. A girl! Clad in Viet Cong ‗jamies‘ with her black hair pulled tightly back from
her serene face and tire tread sandals on her small feet.
         Again he shone the flashlight. Where was the gun? He swore that she had been holding a
gun. Where was it? Nothing. Just a cloth-sac she had slung across her shoulder. Why hadn‘t he
challenged the intruder? Why hadn‘t he shined the flashlight to identify her? His head and gut hadn‘t
given him that opportunity. She couldn‘t be more than fourteen years old! His dinner came up.
          Fourteen? At fourteen James had spent the summer in Spain as an exchange student. He‘d
learned how to drive a tractor, stuff sausages in hogs‘ intestines. He‘d had his first glass of wine and
lived with a family that didn‘t speak English.
         After fourteen? He had gone from middle school to high school, joined the debate team and
played soccer. Thought he‘d try out for a part in the school play but discovered he lacked the ability



                                                   40
to act, so he volunteered to help construct set designs. His whole life had felt like a roulette wheel he
could spin to win his fortune.
          James had never wanted to be drafted, wanting to work a couple of years before committing
himself to college. He had thought about running to Canada but didn‘t want to leave his parents and
two younger brothers. His ego got a boost when he saw the way his siblings looked up to him. James
liked the admiration in their eyes when he played a Scott Joplin rag on the family‘s upright-yellowed
ivory piano keys. Or when he bragged about screwing Betty-Anne after their third date.
          ―Tell us the details,‖ they had eagerly asked, their eyes wide-open and imaginary saliva
drooling from their open mouths as if tasting the deed. James had embellished on events that really
never got much beyond first-base, but now he remembered Betty-Anne‘s feet, small, pale, and
perfect just like this girl‘s. He had just shot a defenseless Vietcong girl.
         The light from his torch glittered on the blood on her body. James‘s teeth chattered as his
body shook with chills. He wanted to be home and wake up from this nightmare. Home in his own
bed.
          He calmed himself. He lowered his rifle. It dropped. He unzipped his fly as an
uncontrollable urge to piss came over him. He thought for a second of fleeing into the jungle.
         The company platoon lieutenant hadn‘t said more than, ―Sullivan, you‘ve got perimeter duty
again tonight.‖
       Nothing more. No guidance. Not what to do in this situation. James felt his rushed weeks at
Fort Dix hadn‘t prepared him for war. Should he go back to camp to report this killing to the
lieutenant now? James sank to his knees, crossed himself, and prayed. The mass at Saint Rita‘s had
been a welcomed Sunday ritual where he could always put his soul and weekly deeds at rest.
He craved that hard marble stone floor, the arched knaves, the delicate wood carvings of the Saints,
the spectacular stained glass windows, and Father Benedict with his gravelly voice and kindly words
of wisdom. How would Father Benedict console James for this?
          Ants crawled up his shoes, and under his camouflaged army fatigues, prowling through his
hairy legs, and biting their way upward leaving their swelling blisters behind. This physical pain
mingled with his anguish of desolation and despair. He saw dark blood in the bullet holes strung like
a rosary chain across the dead girl‘s chest, her small breasts firm as Betty-Ann‘s, those sweet pale
feet. The night was darker. He left the body and trod back towards camp. The jungle sounds parted
to let him through as the radio blared,
                  " …This can't go on, Lord knows you got to change, baby……change your evil ways, baby,
before I stop lovin' you..."


Death and Transfiguration

        ―For Christ sake Madge.‖ Jeffery‘s voice rose like the steady crescendo of an ambulance‘s
wail. He and Madge had been on this mat for many bouts during their twenty-two year marriage.
        ―What‘s got you in such an uproar this time? Just try to take a deep breath and relax.‖
        ―Relax?‖
        Jeffery looked like one of those contorted Tobys Madge had collected as a teenager, but she
decided this would not be the appropriate time to tell him so. ―How can I relax when our seventeen-
year-old daughter hasn‘t come home yet?‖ He burrowed his hands in his dark wavy hair, as if
seeking shelter from his chaotic thoughts. He stared around the room, looking for a clue for his
daughter‘s unorthodox behavior. She had never stayed out past her curfew before.
        His eyes strayed briefly to the family in an antique frame on the tiger maple highboy, taken
at one of Shelly‘s school vacations. The afternoon had been sunny, and now it stunned him to see
those relaxed smiles on their faces as they posed on the deck of a speedboat, the shimmery reflection
of Lake Como‘s glare capturing their image.

                                                   41
        The fireplace smelled of bitter almonds from the dying ashes of the cherry wood. Jeffery
walked over to it and grabbed one of the andirons. He could feel his heart hammering like the
adrenalin rush of the bell at a boxing match. He wanted to beat something, beat Madge, with this
raging frustration that begged for an outlet, her body? Instead he gripped the andirons, as if his life
force was pouring into them.
        Madge saw the tension in the rigidity of her husband‘s posture. Saw the veins stand out on
the back of his hands with the ferocity of his grip. She walked over to place her slender fingered hand
on his arm.
         He shook her off with a feral growl. ―Just keep away from me Madge!‖ He reluctantly
replaced the andiron, then pivoted around on his heels and looked at this woman, a peahen, all drab
colors. The beauty that had attracted him had washed away like their lack of connecting.
        ―She‘s my daughter too.‖ She delivered these words with no inflection in her voice. Just flat
out like everything else about her. ―I‘m just as worried as you are Jeffery.‖
        ―Then why the hell don‘t you show it? I just realized,‖ and he turned to face her, his jaw
showing evidence of the grinding of his teeth, ―that you‘re not a very demonstrative person. ―
        ―Do you want me to moan and groan and tear my hair like one of those Greeks in a
Euripides play?‖ She clenched her fists, thwarting her anger, her long fingernails digging into the
palms of her hands. She thought fleetingly of acting out these emotions but realized that he would
only give her a disdainful look with one of his dark eyebrows raised as if questioning her sanity or
her long ago forgotten thespian talent, the career she had given up when Shelly was born.
        ―Oh for god‘s sake! See, there you go! You just don‘t understand what I‘m saying or feeling.‖
He took in a short breath and noisily exhaled. Staring at her with a sneer as if she were a worker ant,
he said, ―I don‘t even think you‘re a fit mother!‖
        She felt his words whiplash her as if she were hit in a highway collision, could feel her
intestines coiling in tight knots. ―I‘m going to overlook that statement because I know you‘re under
duress right now.‖ A long silence ensued. Madge sat down on the couch and with trembling hands
ruffled through some pages of the London Times’ Arts and Leisure section lying on the cobbler‘s
bench in front of her. Her eyes were unfocused. She thought, why can‘t we have a conversation? Has
it always been this way? Then she said, ―Jeffery, let‘s call the police.‖
        As these words bounced off the tapestry walls of their stylishly appointed living room, the
phone rang. Jeffery rushed over to the old mahogany butter churn where the dial phone sat in its
innocence. ―Hello,‖ he said. clutching the receiver as if it were Brunhilda coming to his aide.
        ―Mr. Grant?‖
        ―Yes,‖ he replied in a rush, ―this is he.‖ Jeffery‘s voice quivered at the official tone of the
voice. He felt a stone drop into his bowels.
        ―Mr. Grant, this is Chief Inspector Haydow of the Southwick constabulary. Can you come
down to the station now?‖
        ―Now? At two-thirty in the morning? Why?‖ Jeffery could feel sweat forming on his brow.
His hands made coils with the phone cord.
        ―I‘d rather talk to you here in the station than over the phone line. I‘ll be awaiting your
arrival Mr. Grant. Goodbye.‖
         ―Wait!‖ He looked at the phone in momentary disbelief, but the line had been disconnected.
Jeffery rushed out of the living room, down the long hallway toward the front of the house. He
opened the coat closet to retrieve his brown Burberry.
        ―Wait, I‘m coming too!‖ Madge yelled as she reached to fetch her Loden coat.
        ―Stay here!‖ Jeffery commanded.
Madge edged past him, grabbed her purse, fumbled in her pocket, and retrieved her car keys. She
was in too much of a rush to slip on her winter boots. With dead fish eyes she said, ―My car is
blocking yours. I‘ll drive.‖



                                                  42
        Jeffery mumbled obscenities but got into the passenger seat. ―How can you remain so calm?
What if something horrible has happened to Shelly? Don‘t you care?‖ He stared straight ahead,
seeing nothing but dread. ―Remind me, why in blazes did I ever marry you?‖
        Madge‘s lips pressed together in a thin-wired line. A pall of fraught filled silence permeated
the Daimler sedan as she maneuvered through the snow slick streets. Neither broke it until Madge
pulled into an empty slot in front of the police station.
        The station held no hustle and bustle at this early hour in the morning. The tired looking desk
Sergeant stifled a yawn as he asked for their names and then waved the morose looking couple
toward a closed door.
        The Inspector watched as the man and woman entered the room. He could sense their lack of
togetherness. Two empty lemon halves, he mused.
        As the Inspector eased his girth out of his seat, his trousers stuck to his buttocks. Rounding
his desk, he stretched out his calloused palm in greeting. ―Mr. and Mrs. Grant please be seated.‖ He
aligned both chairs facing his deck as he returned to his seat. ―I want you both to look at this picture.
Do you recognize this girl?‖ His voice vibrated with compassion. Of course they would, the
Inspector thought. Her identification had been in her wallet, inside the purse that had been found
next to her mutilated body.
        Madge‘s eyes nearly came out of her sockets. She turned the color of her fireplace ash. Her
hand flew up to her mouth like a marionette. She chewed on the palm. ―Oh no, it can‘t be! Not
Shelly! Not my baby!‖ She shook her head like a metronome doing four-four time.
         Jeffery‘s hands gripped the picture in such intensity that the heat from his palms almost
singed it. He looked up at the Inspector, tried to swallow, but his mouth held no saliva, and said
with an eerily quiet voice, ―What happened to her?‖ His eye‘s bore into the policeman‘s like a
pneumatic drill. He listened to the end of the explanation then said, ―Obviously, this is my
daughter.‖ With a dismissing nod of his head he said, ―That‘s it then.‖ He got out of his seat as if he
were an apparition of himself and walked with the steady cadence of a death march out of the room
and into the night.
         Several long minutes later Madge left the station house. All her joints felt like they had been
frozen as she took disjointed alcoholic-like steps. She saw Jeffery pacing back and forth on the
sidewalk with his hands in his coat pockets and his head and eyes cast downward. Neither said a
word as she unlocked the car doors.
         ―Coming?‖ she barely mumbled. The tears streaming down her lard-like colored cheeks.
Jeffery seemed to look through her, his face a bleak landscape of desolation. He slowly scuffed the
snow off of his shoes on the running board as he entered the car, exhaling a long anguished sob.
Madge started to turn the key in the ignition when Jeffery's hand shot forward to forestall her.
         ―Wait,‖ he said.
         Silence.
         He brought his hands up to his face with his fingers pressing into his temples. He tried to
clear his throat, but it was clogged with sputum and mucus. The tears ran through the cracks of his
fingers. He needed to be alone. He wanted to do his grieving in silence, not fettered by the emotional
shackles of Madge.
         Finally, the words came out in a croaked whisper. ―Madge, I‘m leaving. There‘s no reason
for me to stay now.‖ There, he had said it, but it had taken the death of his daughter to give him the
courage to accomplish this distasteful deed.
         Madge‘s head rocked back against the headrest as if she had been struck. She said nothing,
turned the key and put the car into gear. She drove slowly down the ice-covered road as if she were a
mourner in a funeral procession while Ravel‘s Pavane ―For A Dead Princess‖ played quietly in her
mind.




                                                   43
                                                                                       Ramon Pilgrim
Untitled

         Tye woke up Saturday morning with high expectations for his day. He was eager to be
finally closing a deal with a client that he had worked months to acquire. But after a long week at
work, he was dying to get some rest and just have some time to relax with his family. He'd made his
plans the previous night about what and how things get would get done in the morning. He had a
long day ahead of him. When he woke up that Saturday morning, he felt uneasy. His wife told him
she wanted him to stay in today and be with the family, but he had to decline. Tye always felt guilty
for so often having to be on the run, but he knew it was how he made his living and to be able to
provide for his family. He had originally planned to spend the day with his family at the football
game, but now things had changed. His plans for the day were to run errands for his wife of ten
years, who could not run around as she would have liked. She was pregnant with their third child, a
girl to be named Aasia. Then he would run to the office to finish up some paper work and meet his
clients before leaving to meet his wife and kids for his son Tristan's first football game. Tye thought
he had everything in control and planned. But what would happen in the next couple of hours was
something he never imagined he would have to face. The events that occurred on that Saturday have
haunted Tye since then.
         Tye got ready to walk out of the house and was stopped by Tristan. "Dad, are you going to
be there early? Remember your promise," Tristan said. The game was scheduled to start at 2:00pm.
He couldn't miss the opening of the game. He had promised Tristan that he would be there for the
kickoff. Tristan, who was in the 4th grade, had just made his first sports team and was very excited.
Tye reassured Tristan that he would be there to see him. He rushed out of the house at 10:30 am to
leave for the office. During his meeting, he stepped out to make a call. He called his wife to see how
things were going and if they needed anything. She said they were all set and were ten minutes away
from the football stadium. They exchanged I love you's and ended the call. He knew he had to start
wrapping things up at the office. There was no way he could be late. He didn't want to disappoint
his son, and he knew his wife would be furious with him if he did.
         It was around 1:40pm when Tye finally finished up at the office. He was rushing to make it
to the game. The next ten minutes seemed like the earth stood still. While driving to the game, Tye
approached an intersection where he met traffic. Feeling rushed and in a hurry to reach his
destination, he called out to one of the police officers to ask what was going on. The news he
received would be the worst he ever imagined hearing. The police officer told him there was an
accident involving two kids and a lady in an sedan who were hit by an SUV trying to beat a traffic
light that was about to change to red. They had died instantly from the impact of the crash. The
thought of his family flash in his mind. Upon hearing the news, Tye hopped out of his vehicle,
fearing the thought of losing his family. To his horror, while he approached the accident, he noticed
his wife's vehicle. It was totaled. In an instant, he lost everything. Tye broke down crying. He
physically felt his heart being torn out of his chest.
         Tye wanted to wake up and the accident to be just a dream. But he wouldn't be waking up
from a dream. The accident had been real. In an instant, he had lost everything that was most
important to him.
         Three years since the accident, and that Saturday still haunts Tye. He has not healed from
his loss. He constantly blames himself for the accident. He punishes himself for his family not being
here with him. He blames his job for his loss. If he hadn't focused on work so much, his family
would be alive. Since the accident, he questions himself constantly, asking what if he had done
things differently. What if he never decided to go to the office? He would be in the car with them.
They would have left for the game earlier, and the accident would have never occurred. Even if he
was with them, and the accident occurred, at least he would be with them, and he wouldn't be alone.
He knows this thought is selfish, but he wonders about it anyway. He wonders if he gave his


                                                  44
children kisses before he left the house that morning. Tye spends most of his days trying to figure out
where everything in his life went wrong.
         After the accident, Tye quit his job. He moved back in to his parents‘ home. He just couldn't
bear to be alone. Tye didn't feel like he could ever come to terms with losing his family. He had
spent years building his family and working hard to be able to provide for them. He went from
planning to add another life to his family to losing his four lives. He remembered how much he and
his wife went through when they were first trying to have a child, to being ecstatic when they were
able to have more than one safely. Tye's spirit died that Saturday. He felt no motivation to work
hard for anything or to get close with anyone. He had come to the conclusion that God favored
certain people. After all, he would lose it all unexpectedly. He would never get the chance to fully
appreciate the things he had worked for, so he just didn't work. He felt that he was undeserving to be
alive if his family was gone, but he couldn't bring himself to take his own life. On a Saturday, three
years ago, Tye decided he would unwillingly exist until it was his turn to go.




                                                  45
                                                                                                       Tim Finoia
House of the Rising Sun
Prologue
         Dreams have been dreamt a thousand times before, and downfall into his palms‘ prayers.
His body felt open, a bare mattress, concaving. He stared into the mirror, the gentle hum of the
plane coursing through his head. His face was gaunt, his eyes exhausted. He tore through his
pockets, searching frantically for the relief he needed. Empty. How could he be so careless? How
could he have forgotten the meds? He sighed heavily, hands shaking. “You would be dead if you had
stayed,” the voice told him. Fists clenched, he lashed out, shattering the mirror before him. He cried
out in sorrow, begging for relief. “Go to your seat, James, you’re drawing attention.” He emerged from
the bathroom, bloodied hand thrust deeply into the recesses of his jacket. His breathing labored, he
stumbled from side to side of the plane, trying frantically to make it back to his seat. A sudden wave
of pain ripped through his body, bringing him to his knees before the intentionally ignorant guests of
Flight 815. A young man stood up, helping him back to his feet. ―Are you okay, sir?‖ the man
asked.
         ―Yeah, inner ear thing. Never was too good on flights,‖ James said, trying to pick up the
remains of his dignity. He felt eyes judging him as he stood up to return to his seat. The seat that
would take him anywhere he wanted. This wasn‘t a pleasure trip, where did he need to go? “Think
James, where are we going?” the voice probed. His memory struck him like a dark wind; he knew what
he was here for but tried hard to forget. “New York. You have to find Maple. Alex Maple,” said the
voice, but James already knew. ―No, I might as well go back to Detroit. Maple wants me dead,‖
James argued. “Maybe it’s time to give up, give in?” he thought he heard an angel whisper, yet at
the same time felt a forked tongue. ―What‘s that,‖ he thought. ―Just my imagination,‖ he
whispered through hollow breaths, ―what would an angel or even a devil want with me anyway?‖
“To take away your soul. To take over your body,” said the other voice. James grasped the
armrests at his sides, his fingers gnarled roots searching for earth. ―Everyone wants you dead, James.
At least allow yourself to choose your killer. Now focus, you must be strong the next few days, they are the only
ones you have left.” He shook the thoughts from his mind like the last image on an etch-a-sketch, and
sank into his seat, thinking to himself, ―dreams to be dreamt, and prayers to be said.‖
         Somewhere in New York City, in an undisclosed apartment building sat Alex Maple. He
wasn‘t aware of what was headed to his door on Flight 815. Hell was coming for Alex Maple.

Sympathy for The Devil
         Let me introduce myself. On an undisclosed day in an undisclosed town, I was born to
Mary and Frank Maple, upon which my father gave me the name Alex. It was the first and last
thing good ol‘ pop ever gave to me as he took the big sleep a month after my entrance into this grand
world. You see, pop was a shamus, and not a terribly good one. He rattled a few too many cages
and made the wrong people sore in this town, and one of them decided pop could use a bit more
iron in his diet. So we put him to rest in Saint Raphael‘s cemetery, God rest his soul, and Ma didn‘t
take too well to the new living conditions. Long story short, she did the Dutch act a few months
later, leaving little old Alex all by his lonesome. I did time with the Penguins over at Saint Patrick‘s
on Prince Street, and they eventually turned me loose on the world. After learning that nice people
sometimes don‘t like to be taken advantage of, I started taking jobs fixing problems for the nice
people of NYC. I ran the business with one of the Saint Patrick‘s boys until a dame shook up the
whole damn operation, left me with a wounded pride and James a problem with the nose-candy.
We don‘t work together anymore I reckon is what I want you to walk away with on that topic. I got
my P.I ticket a few years back and live each day with a gun in my hand and a song in my heart on
the streets of New York City, the best city in the U.S of A, Amen. That‘s the crop of it. I don‘t
think I left anything out or at least anything I still wanted out in the open. We should be all caught
up, you and me, dear reader out in la-la land.

                                                       46
        Well damn, I suppose I should probably fill you in on what I do. I‘ll do you one better, I‘ll
let you in on what happened to me last night. You see, last night was a doozy of an evening. It was
the night that I saw a ghost.

I Told You That Story So I Can Tell You This One
         It was ten past seven when I heard the labored shambling of some stiff outside my door.
Being the Good Samaritan I am, I grabbed for my .45 and got up to go see what all the commotion
was about. Just as I was reaching the door, it burst open from the weight of the man falling against
the other side. The body crumpled at my feet in an old familiar pattern, and I helped him to the sofa
beside the door. His complexion was that of a fresh corpse and his breathing made my chest hurt,
but I immediately recognized the face. ―You got a lot of nerve showing your mug around here,
Jim,‖ I said through gritted teeth, ―Now what damn fool problem have you gotten yourself into
now?‖
         ―The cipher. Jacket lining,‖ James managed to get out, blood already forming on his lips.
We wrestled with getting his jacket off before ripping the haphazard stitching along the bottom,
spilling a paper onto the dusty floor of my apartment. I held it up to my desk lamp, trying to make
out the text scrawled across the page.
         ―This some sort of code, Jim?‖ I asked over my shoulder, getting no response; I made my
way over to see Jim bleeding all over my second favorite sofa. The optimist in me gave him a night,
but I needed to get some of that bleeding staunched. I rummaged through my drawer, coming back
with a needle, thread, and grim sympathy for a man I wanted dead. One spool and some cursing
later, Jim was a real boy again. I helped him to my back room, out of eyesight from any visitors I
might get the rest of the night, and let him gather his wits. I pulled up a chair and got to work
pouring myself over the cipher.
         ―What have you gotten yourself into,‖ I muttered, rotating the paper in my hands. ―Hell, I
can‘t tell if this is upside down or what, how‘d a bindle stiff like you get mixed up in secret codes,
Jim?‖ I replaced the paper with a scotch strong enough to carry me through the rest of the night,
and went back in to check on my patient. ―You look like hell. Who gave you the Broderick, and
why come to me,‖ I asked to no one in particular, Jim‘s breathing dropping to a deep, even pace.
―God-willing, you‘ll make the night,‖ I thought, the optimist in me chiming in again. A knock at
my door brought me back to my evening, and I made my way to answer before stopping to lock the
door to Jim‘s room. Another knock, more impatient this time rung through the house before
hearing the door click open behind me. A small man slithered under my door and took a look
around before noticing me. I knew the face and the reputation and any business he was bringing me
could go right back out my door.
         ―Maple, how‘s things?‖ he hissed, his false cordiality dripping from his words like venom.
He wore the kind of suit that wanted to sell you a car and a smile that let you see his molars. I try to
remain entirely objective when I say this clown had a face made for punching, and I never turn
down an invitation to do so.
         ―Status quo, Braker. What brings you to my cozy neck of the city?‖ I asked from across my
desk.
         ―Well, it would seem our boys in Chicago had some problems, and when the Chicago boys
have problems, we have problems,‖ Braker answered.
         ―I didn‘t take you for a dancer, Braker. Now spit or I close my doors early tonight,‖ I said.
         ―Someone‘s snippy tonight. Joe, come in here so Mister Maple remembers why we don‘t get
snippy,‖ Braker said over his shoulder as his gorilla lumbered in from the hall.
         ―You should have let me know Joe was coming, Braker. I would have put out bananas,‖ I
said, Joe‘s eyes flashing hate before Braker put a hand on his shoulder.
         ―Play nice boys, we need the shamus. Word on the street is that Chicago lost a paper. A
very important paper. Since you seem to be Johnny-on-the-spot with finding things, I said to myself,
‗Braker, old boy. Why don‘t you go give Maple some business? He sure could use it.‘ So out of my

                                                  47
support for independent business, I find myself at your door tonight with a proposition. There is a
man coming into town tonight with Chicago‘s paper, one of the old neighborhood boys, James Best.
You find him, and we may lose some money on your doorstep one night. You see, Maple, you are
very good at what you do, and we are very good at what we do. Please do what you do, so we don‘t
have to do what we do,‖ Braker explained, his speech coming off well-rehearsed.
         ―Is that a threat, Braker?‖ I asked.
         ―I don‘t know. Do you feel threatened?‖ said Braker.
         ―By a half-wit vaudeville knock-off and his dancing monkey? Hardly, but I could fake it for
the sake of your feelings,‖ I spit back at him.
         ―How hospitable. Joe, thank the man for being hospitable,‖ Braker ordered.
         Joe took three thundering steps forward and raised a hand. I winced on reflex before seeing
his hand extend into a shaking gesture.
         ―Jumpy, Al,‖ Joe asked with a grin.
         ―Me? Nah, all this talk of missing papers and high adventure has me excited is all,‖ I said,
meeting Joe‘s hand and preparing for the massage I knew was coming.
         ―Good, I don‘t wanna‘ go making you nervous,‖ Joe said, wrapping a fist around mine and
rearranging my knuckles.
         ―Now why would I get nervous around friends, Joe?‖ I asked.
         Joe just smiled as Braker said, ―I think I‘m starting to like this kid. You ain‘t so dumb,
Maple. Now we‘re going to leave on this high note before you go lousing up my opinion. Get to
work.‖
         ―I‘ll look through my caseload and get back to you. I‘ll be in touch,‖ I said.
         ―No, you won‘t, Maple. If we need to speak with you, we‘ll contact you. Let‘s hope next
we see you, you‘ll be in proud possession of our paper or I‘ll have to try letting Joe get in touch with
you,‖ Braker said, Joe grinning over his shoulder with a face that should be mounted above a
fireplace.
         ―Like I said, we‘ll be in touch,‖ I said, rubbing the feeling back into my hand, ―Now can we
quit bumping gums, last I checked this was my office, not Boys Town.‖
         ―Yeah, we were just leaving. Joe, let‘s go,‖ Braker said as the two of them slinked their way
back down my hallway. I made my way to the back room and picked up the phone receiver, placing
a call to my girl.
         ―Kat, I need a favor,‖ I began before getting cut off.
         ―No, Al, you need to get yourself a big boy job. I can‘t have you calling me to patch you up
every time you get in a scrape,‖ she shouted from the other end.
         ―Babe, I don‘t have any scrapes yet, and if you hear me out I might not get any at all this
time,‖ I pleaded in as soothing a voice I could muster up after the night I had. There was a silence
on the line and I took the opening to continue. ―I just need you to come over to my place and watch
a friend of mine while I go out. It won‘t be long, I just need you to make sure things stay keen until
I get back.‖
         ―And just what are you going to be doing?‖ she asked.
         ―Jim is back in town, so Joe and one of the New York boys just came by. They want me out
looking for a paper from Chicago.‖
         ―Jim is back?‖ she interrupted.
         ―Baby, I‘ll explain it later, I just need to lose the tail and give me some breathing room,‖ I
explained.
         ―What tail?‖ she asked.
         ―Joe knows how close I was to Jim; safe money says they weren‘t looking to hire me. They
want to shake me up and see where I run. I intend to run‘em to somewhere we can discuss matters
in private,‖ I said.
         ―I don‘t like this, Al.‖ she said. ―One of these days you aren‘t coming home.‖


                                                  48
        ―Well not with that attitude. I gotta‘ go. I‘ll call you as soon as the dust settles,‖ I said,
―and Kat?‖
        ―Yeah?‖ she said.
        ―You‘re the greatest,‖ I said.
        ―Sure, sure. I‘m not stitching you up if you come back shot,‖ she said.
        I laughed grimly as I hung up the phone and took one last look at Jim before grabbing my
holster. ―Rest up, old chum. It‘s cooking up to be a hell of a night,‖ I said as I closed the door
behind me, exited the building, and cut through the mist of New York City after hours.

The Horse You Rode In On
         I hopped in a cab and made a bee-line out of the city, leading Joe down to the docks. My
eyes kept darting to our rearview mirror, searching for the painstakingly inconspicuous car tailing us
about 30 feet behind. ―Joe, you dumb lug, and you wonder why you only ever get the heavy lifting
jobs,‖ I thought to myself. I had the cabbie let me out near the loading area, the workers long since
turned in for the night. As I walked towards the water, I heard the sound of the car door shutting
behind me, Joe‘s heavy steps thudding against the wet wood of the dock. I stood, looking at the
water, the air hanging heavy around us like a man at the gallows. ―Brings back memories, eh Joe?‖
I asked.
         ―It‘s been a while since the dock days, Al,‖ Joe responded.
         ―You here to kill me or rough me up,‖ I asked.
         ―That all depends on you. I‘m just supposed to give Braker some time alone with Jim at your
place,‖ he said.
         The smile faded from my face as anger flared through my body. How could I have been so
dumb? I took Braker for a sap and left Jim wide open. I needed to get back to my place, and it
looked like Joe had a monopoly on transportation at the moment. I was willing to bet money I
wasn‘t going to get anywhere by asking nicely.
         ―Joe, I‘m going to be taking your car,‖ I told him.
         ―You take one step towards that car, I‘ll lay five on you so hard they could dust you for
prints,‖ he warned.
         ―Fair enough, Joe.‖ I said, reaching behind me to grab a crowbar half-emerged from a dock
crate, keeping my body in front of the box.
         ―You ready, Al?‖ Joe asked, beginning to come at me at the determined pace of someone
who doesn‘t intend to lose.
         ―No, give me a minute,‖ I said as I whipped forward with the crowbar, meeting bone on his
left forearm. I heard the sound of rocks cracking against each other as his arm rocked from the
force, his confidence physically shaken.
         Joe let out a yell as he grabbed my throat with his good arm, lifting me to my toes and
breaking my ties with my old pal oxygen. I swung halfheartedly at his head as he caught it with his
left arm. With a grunt, the crowbar was pulled from my grasp and thrown to the side of our little
squabble. Just as he wound up to paste one on my jaw, I threw a knee into his ribs and his grip
faltered. I fell to the ground as I began to claw my way to my feet, heading farther onto the docks
and away from Joe‘s rage. He stomped towards me, sending crates crashing around us as we
approached the loading pulleys. Joe came charging at me with violence in his heart as I took the
brunt of his bull-rush. I stumbled backwards as he swung at me, removing a few memories from my
brain as his fist connected. I let out a wild swing to his stomach as he laid another on my jaw. I put
my head down and tumbled forward into him, throwing a few into his side as he wrestled to pull me
away. I suddenly felt that old familiar weightlessness as he picked me off the ground to throw me.
From my scenic view atop Mount Joe, I saw the pulley rope a few inches above me and made a grab
for it, wrapping the end of it around his body as I was thrown across the floor. I started to wrap the
other end around a dock crate as Joe came charging again, but this time I was no fool. I planted a


                                                   49
firm foot against the crate and leapt forward towards his feet, sending Joe sprawling over me and
into the container.
         With a creak, the crate slipped from the dock as Joe‘s mind registered the next logical step in
this sequence, and his eyes went wide as he scrambled to untie the rope around his shoulders. With
a splash, Joe was pulled off his feet and hung dangling in the air, kicking wildly as he cursed me and
my kin. ―Joe, you dumb lug, and you wonder why you only ever get the heavy lifting jobs,‖ I
laughed as I watched him swing about, ―I‘ll be sure to send a car for you after I‘m through with
Braker.‖ I walked away from the scene and got into Joe‘s car to find the motor still running. ―You
know, Joe, I‘m kind of insulted you didn‘t even give me enough credit to shut the car off. Was I
really a one-two job?‖ I shouted from the window as I pulled the car around the dock. Joe‘s
response will be omitted from my little story to protect our less than jaded readers. We‘ll say it
wasn‘t too kind but rather deserving considering the circumstances.
         I rode hell-bent for leather down the NYC streets, as the boiler tore through the thick mist of
the night. I jumped from the car at the steps to my apartment and ran to the front desk where Frank
the doorman was just coming out from. ―Frank, call Kat. Tell her to steer clear of this place until
she hears from me,‖ I blurted as I began to run upstairs.
         ―Al, what kinda trouble are you in?‖ Frank shouted after me.
         ―Just call, Frank. Please,‖ I said before disappearing up the staircase and entering the
hornet‘s nest.

The Hard Goodbye
         I entered the floor to find a sliver of light creeping through the crack of the door that I had
left closed earlier. I gripped my .45 and with a firm kick to the door made an entrance into what was
once my office. Papers scattered about, shelving strewn on my desk, the scene made the good
housekeeper in me cringe. I raced to the back room and shouldered my way through the door only
to get a crack across the back of my skull as my world went white for a moment. I rolled onto my
back to find Braker standing in the doorway, his pathetic frame blocking out my office behind him.
He brandished a small, but effective looking shiv, already coated in a fine layer of red. I glanced
around the room, looking for where my heater scattered when I took the spill from the doorway.
         ―How long have you had the paper, Maple? You know what? Never mind, it doesn‘t matter.
Just hand it over and we won‘t have any problems,‖ Braker hissed through a smile.
         I glanced over to the bed to see Jim and saw the crimson painted across him. I looked back
to see Braker noticing my noticing.
         ―It‘s a damn shame. It would have been easy if you had just given up the paper when we
came by. Things wouldn‘t have gotten so complicated. Speaking of which, I assume Joe couldn‘t
make it back with you,‖ Braker sneered.
         ―No, he got tied up. It‘s just you and me, Braker,‖ I said through gritted teeth.
         ―Well isn‘t that just swell? Give me the paper, Maple,‖ Braker said as he began to cross the
floor to me.
         ―I‘m sorry, that‘s not how this is playing out. You want it; you‘re going to have to pry it
from my lifeless hands,‖ I said back, eyes finally spotting my gun beneath Jim‘s cot,
         ―No, I‘ll tell you how this is going to play out, Maple. I‘m going to come over there, I‘m
going to give you a big ol‘ grin with my friend here, and I‘m going to walk out that door just pleased
as punch,‖ Braker said coolly, his voice an eerie calm.
         I‘d been through hell tonight, and I just watched a ghost from my past show up only to die in
my own home. I was eight shades of mad and shooting angry, and I wanted nothing more than to
see Braker on the wrong end of a colt revolver. ―Braker, the only way you‘re walking through that
door tonight is if you brought six friends to carry you,‖ I said as he lunged at me.
         I grabbed his hand as he lunged, struggling to pull the knife from his grip. He began swatting
wildly at me with his free hand, hoping to loosen my hold. I pressed forward as he leaned back
against my weight and released my hold to plant two hands against his chest. He stumbled

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backwards into the shelf against the opposite wall as I dove for my pistol, raising it to his chest as he
regained his footing.
        ―It‘s over, Braker. Take one step more and I give you the hard goodbye,‖ I said in a cold
tone. Braker grinned that old toothy smile as he darted towards me, meeting four of my shots
halfway. A look of surprise washed over his face as he tried desperately to get some air. Braker
came to rest against the opposite bookshelf for the second time that night as he breathed his last,
eyes glazed over like a department store mannequin.
        I rose to my feet and closed James‘ eyes before picking up the phone yet again. I took my
bottle of scotch into the back room and sat down beside Jim as I waited for Kat and the police to
arrive. I suddenly remembered those days back at Saint Patrick‘s, just two kids against the crowd. I
choked off those memories as I felt myself begin to tear up, placing my head in my hands. Taking in
a deep breath, I looked at Jim one last time, ―I forgive you old buddy,‖ I said as I rose from my seat.
        ―I‘ll get to the bottom of this, Jim. I promise,‖ I said, shutting the light off to the room and
lying down on my second favorite sofa, finally feeling every ache and bruise of the night. It was
then, in the wee hours of the morning, that I finally fell asleep.

And Here We Are
         Like I said, hell of a night, right? It is now nine in the morning, and the sun is judging me
from high atop his perch. I guess I should drag my bones out and start working. It‘s going to be a
hell of a day.




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                                            Contributors

Malissa Bowles, retired Director of Girl Scouts, Connecticut Trails, is a native of Massachusetts. As
a teenager, she wrote for a Boston African American newspaper, reporting events that took place in
the many small North Shore towns where she grew up. While raising her family, she wrote and
published a variety of ‗How to do?‘ articles, including: ―Install Your VCR Yourself;‖ ―How To
Select An Apartment;‖ and ―Travel Sights Across America.‖ Today, Malissa is trying her hand at
fiction and exploring her imagination.

Jeff Brown started his creative career in his early teens with painting and drawing. Finally, after
realizing he could better express himself through words, he began to write. He has since dabbled
in both fiction and poetry but has a soft-spot for songwriting. With several unfinished
screenplays on his resume, he hopes to continue his work and, with any luck, complete them to
put on the big screen someday.
Jason Eammon Crowley enjoys every aspect of life, good and bad. He tries to view everything as a
learning experience – always a chance to grow and mature but is forever a kid at heart. He is an avid
skateboarder. The sounds of the wood snapping against the pavement are soothing to him. He lives
for photography. Capturing a single moment in time is a beautiful thing, yet he loves the
challenging technical characteristics equally. Writing, his oldest passion, has recently been redefined
for him. He plans to move to New York to pursue his passions.

Eric Eichler is a young aspiring fiction writer, who draws inspiration from anywhere he sees fit. A
gaming and anime enthusiast, he also delves into the world of interactive role play to greatly
influence his own work. He is currently developing a fantasy novel that he hopes to start writing
upon killing his procrastination habit.

Tim Finoia is a student at GWCC and intends to transfer to continue a pursuit of film. He enjoys
writing stories for both screen and page and usually incorporates one into the other. Tim most often
uses the same cast of characters in his works and tries to allow cameos between his own stories.
Most of his writing is done throughout his day at work and most ideas begin as phrases scribbled
onto the back of receipts or post-its. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with Writer‘s Block. His
condition has been improving as of late.

Cynthia Green took Creative Writing at Cooperative Arts High School and ECA, where she learned
poetry, screenwriting/playwriting, memoirs, and short stories. She has had two poems published by
Celebrate! Young Poets Speak Out as well as a memoir published by Connecticut Writing Project at Storrs
volume XX of Connecticut Student Writers. Both Long Wharf Theatre and Hartford Stage showcased
one of her plays in 2008. Cynthia also has taught a playwriting workshop to a group of youths, who
performed and wrote their own play for the first time. She will pursue her interest in writing as she
obtains her Bachelor‘s in English.


Capree D. Irvin is a second-year business major at Gateway Community College. As a little girl,
she was the shy one and started writing to help express herself. She always wanted to help people
and decided to do so through her writing. In her spare time, she writes memoirs on relatable
experiences that may help comfort people going through similar situations. She looks forward to
publishing some of her work and hopes to be a well-known memoir writer.



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Stephanie Lemieux is an aspiring journalist with an innate love for storytelling. She enjoys the
creativity, expression, and endless possibilities that come with writing, and she has always been
complimented on her way with words. She writes for the Gateway Gazette and is also a member of
the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. If she wasn‘t in school, she would be traveling the world as a
vagabond and crafting stories based on her adventures.

Sarah Lewis-Stowe has been writing for several years, though once she reached high school it
became less of a hobby and more of a passion. She currently attends Gateway Community College,
where she has grown very interested in creative nonfiction, using both poetry and memoir. Although
she plans to continue writing, she is also working toward a culinary degree and would like to
someday own her own bakery.

Theresa J. Moscato’s writing began around the tender age of eight, and she loved it right from the
start. She especially liked writing plays and performing them with her willing cousins in front of a
parental audience. She has written many short stories, poems, songs, plays, and has started to write
a book titled Liona. She writes fiction, non-fiction, and realistic fiction. She hopes to become
published.

LaDrea Moss is a sophomore at Gateway Community College majoring in general studies. In her
spare time, she likes to play basketball, draw, play cards, hang out with her best friend, and just
relax. As a student at Gateway, she played on the basketball team, was selected for both All-star
games, and received many awards. She plans on attending University of New Haven, where she will
pursue a degree in criminal justice. She will play basketball in the future if she does not become a
crime scene investigator.

Nini Munro-Chmura rests comfortably under the shade of an elm tree, where she dreams her daily
stories upon parchment. While she weaves and entwines her love of words with her wall hang
quilted creations, her two familiars purr contentedly upon her lap. She chose the title for this
journal.

Sudo Nym is a new writer, who was inspired and encouraged by her Gateway Community College
professor, Martha Hayes. Ms. Nym enjoys other creative outlets such as playing Charades, finding
bargains, and making puns. Fun and laughter make her world a happier place.

Ramon Pilgrim is a Gateway Community College student whose mom knew he liked both reading
and sports when she saw him reading Goodnight Moon while dribbling a soccer ball. At first she
couldn‘t believe it. She shut her eyes, and when she opened them again there he was still doing it. As
Ramon grew older, his love for reading developed into a love for writing. In high school, he received
Best Young Author‘s award for his short story about a boy and his dog. He continues to write little
short stories and enjoys doing it.

Lillian Rawls is a text messaging champion who in between texts enjoys writing fiction stories and
poetry. She‘s a student at Gateway Community College majoring in business. Maybe after her ten
years of education, she‘ll figure out what she wants to be.

Veldon Steele has been writing since the fifth grade, where he was inspired by his teacher, Mrs.
Chamberlain, to take his constantly moving and creative thoughts and turn them into something


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concrete. Since then, Veldon has been writing small works of fiction and poetry in his spare time and
is a great lover of the arts with hopes of one day publishing his own work of poems and ideas.




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