SEXY REXY’S HOMECOMING FEAST by Steve Gergley

For his fortieth birthday, Lance bought himself a red-tailed boa and named it Sexy Rexy. When he returned to his empty apartment, he masturbated to a video on Pornhub called “MASSIVELY JACKED STUD ANNIHILATES SUBMISSIVE TWINK.” Then he turned off his phone and set up Sexy Rexy’s living enclosure, feeding tank, and hide box. For dinner Lance ate an entire chocolate cake and washed it down with half a bottle of champagne. Then he smoked a pack of Marlboro Lights and threw up in the bathroom for half an hour. After a long, hot shower in which he threw up…

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CONSIDER YOURSELF HOME by Aimée Keeble

You and I at the window with our bandit teeth all exposed. Mine tallow, yours anodizing with the stale gold of nicotine, crap coffee that lives petrified in a jar. I’m your artful baby and I slip into shops first and blast back my chest. Hiya! And you coyote low behind me scoping with your dull sly eyes. Side by side at a counter and you’re velvet and torn at the creases but I’m no better (no worse) and my shirt is soppy and sags, better to stuff the gaps with. We’re proud as we unwrap our sandwiches in front…

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BIRDS AREN’T REAL by D.T. ROBBINS

My girlfriend tells me something’s off in our relationship. Says we’re missing a spark or magic or whatever she calls it.  I go, Oh, you wanna see magic? She goes, Yeah, idiot, I just said that.  So, I wrap an old t-shirt around her eyes and lead her out into the field behind our apartment. It’s all a big surprise. The ice chest is full of beers and pastrami sandwiches and the chocolate cookies she baked last month. I put a slice of bread in a Ziplock bag with the cookies to keep them fresh. The cookies stay moist and…

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WE THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW by Jamy Bond

That your mother is dying alone in a room at St. Francis. The stale sighs of a ventilator echo through the hallways, pumping one last moment of life into her over and over and over. There’s a sad sliver of hope in the sound of it, and in the silence that follows.   She forgives the insolence, the years you spent overseas and never called, the sporadic letters full of vacancy, even your cold indifference to her cancer diagnosis. She has mostly forgotten your teenage shenanigans: the time you snuck bourbon into your lunch box and drank it at school, nights…

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THE PURPLE TREE by Alienor Bombarde

It was not her favorite tree. It was simply where the children met. The tree was tall, its purple leaves like curtains, shielding its trunk. It was where, when she was four years old, she first saw Pasang. Pasang was the first and only newcomer the children ever knew. His father had come to work on construction plans. Pasang had a round face and a soft pink mouth. Even before she knew that people could use mouths for anything other than eating and drinking, she liked the look of it, its softness and slight downward turn. Those were the days,…

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THE BLUE ANGEL by Austin Farber

She was cooking dinner when I walked in the door. She had worked all night at the hospital, slept the whole day while I was at work, and was about to leave for another shift after dinner. I usually was relieved when she left, but tonight she looked unusually chipper. When she greeted me, she was dicing up a full rotisserie chicken. She kissed me. “How was your day, honey?” She asked. “Good,” I said. “How was your night?” “Oh, it was something,” she said, stripping the meat. “We had a code blue in ICU. A real stiff.” “Oh wow,”…

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OUT OF JOINT by Miranda González

Edgar was a man with a peculiar malady. It wasn’t just that he had a voracious appetite for all things internet and a quick temper. No, it was that when he read something online that upset him, his nose became, quite literally, out of joint. Each time he furiously disagreed with a news article or a post from an opinionated relative, the cartilage of his nose would turn ever so slightly—imperceptibly—counter-clockwise. The phenomenon seemed to begin following a particularly distressing piece of journalism about an out-of-state investor buying up his favorite Texas burger joint. (He could never enjoy his patty…

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BURN THE SHIPS by John Darcy

The first scam was parking outside the bank, mobile-depositing a check, running inside to cash it with the teller. He dubbed it The Double Derring-Do. Loopholes find fault in failures of imagination. It’s about outsmarting, round-abouting. Okay, he did end up with two years for wire fraud. Watching a scumbag stoner conman movie, he whispers, “That’s not what it’s like.” On his computer are two hundred years of pirated movie soundtracks. He’s working his way through them. Also the first two acts of a five-act play, stellar dialogue but lacks compelling conflict. Policies in triplicate because it never hurts to…

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CUTTING ROOM by Tex Gresham

The woods stopped being an enchanted place where the sound of animals scurrying through undiscovered territory felt light and natural. Sunlight blocked, trees strangling the brassy tones into a steel-tinged umber. A fluorescence coated every surface, something we’d walked into, a transition from scene to setting. Maybe it was the deer that brought this change––maybe it was something else. Limp and drained, the deer’s face was a shocked mask of deadness. Blood spumed out its crooked mouth like seafoam on the surf of a slaughterhouse floor. I was a boy out hunting with his dad and uncle in the humid…

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MOMENT by Chad Redden

A little raccoon, more sponsor than mascot, came with the moment, came down the tree. We waited below the tree, Ryan and me. Waited for the racoon that came with the moment, but it was a tall tree, it took some time. For the racoon. For the tree to grow that tall, how many years I cannot speculate. I cannot look at a tree and say how much time it took for a tree to grow. It took some time for the racoon to reach the ground. After a while Ryan had to leave, before the racoon could reach the…

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