YOU ALWAYS GET CAUGHT ON THE LAST ONE by Steve Anwyll

Ain’t it always the case. I’m bored as fuck. Life’s like that. So I fill my coat pockets with cans of beer. Drink as I cruise the streets. Stopping to look in windows that aren’t obstructed. And ain’t it always the case? You get caught on the last one. The whole night going good. Then blammo. Out of nowhere. It’s over. Some fucking do-gooder concerned citizen. Prodding into affairs that ain’t their own. Acting tough. And as soon as they start yelling. You know you’re sunk. Like tonight. I’m standing there in the darkness. Behind these shrubs. Tall ones. I…

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MR. ANGEL by Jennifer Greidus

She was no Ingrid. She was more of a Pat, or even a “Chuck,” but she was no Ingrid. An Ingrid would never own a truck stop on 85, and an Ingrid would never tell blue jokes to men who haven’t bathed in a couple weeks. When her daughter, my lover, took me there to eat, Ingrid always saved us a booth in the corner, away from Manuel, Jim, and Shaky, because those three stank more than anyone. While she was alive and in her thirties and forties, Ingrid had two wishes. One of them was to bowl a perfect…

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LISTEN, MY SISTER, LISTEN by Gary J. Shipley

He watched his legs grow from the armpits of his baby sister every day for a year. Both white calves there on the door of the fridge whenever he looked, and around them the arms of his sisters that through some mistake of birth were limited to two. Their eyes and feet and ears likewise dyadic. And the things they had only one of absurdly depleted in this same way. Your sister was never more than one, the mothers kept saying. For the mother-body also seemed to be hiding someone else inside it, without any admission as to why it…

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DANIEL, MOSTLY by Nathan Dragon

He always felt like he needed things to be told to him. Bed and drinking water were always good, though. Something like that, so his TV would easily be a good distraction and some rest. People’s voices, anyways, were fine. He worried a lot. Daniel needed something that could help with that. Nothing too scandalous, though. Everything as it comes, as he could handle it or it could be handled. One at a time, please, he’d say. Why did he walk away? Cause he couldn’t handle it. Missed the point. Did it anyways instead of not doing anything. To feel…

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IN CARS by William Lessard

1 The car stopped turning. Jay would drive to the deli, reverse the process once the six-pack or bag of 40s was chilling his inner thighs. The job of the person with him was to rotate their head to the middle of their back. Bumper distance within ten feet required a preemptory “Yo.” In tighter circumstances, random curses were substituted. Increasing volume emphasized proximity of the parked car/oncoming vehicle/pedestrian. Walking the five blocks was never a consideration. 2 My father’s car was parked in the yard with hedges growing from one of the wheels. On the screen in front of…

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PEOPLE WATCHING by Michael Seidlinger

You aren’t alone even though it still feels that way, long gaps of nothing between discussions that seem to have everything to do with the weekend, which leads you to the assumption that tonight won’t be much. You are with someone familiar, been around, floating along with the same circle since as far back as you’re willing to remember, and you are both searching the shopping mall for the others, convinced that they had told one of you to meet them at the food court. “Why, I have no fucking clue,” he says. But that’s really not ever worth considering…

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DOG PERSON by Troy James Weaver

For over an hour she’d been thinking about killing the baby. Was it a baby? A toddler? He sprawled between two exhausted, resigned parents four rows behind her. They had been in the air for six hours, somewhere over the Pacific, and she’d just had it already with the carts of stale food, the fake smiles, the snoring old men, and now, now more than anything, the crying of the kid, especially after having had the worst sex of her life that morning. It went on and on and on. She tried to plug her ears with her fingers, some…

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DETECTIVE STORY by Joseph Grantham

There was this woman’s voice. It came on the radio at about 11 p.m. every night. The jazz station. KCSM 91.1. Think her name was Dee Alexander. She told her listeners to breathe in fresh air and exhale negativity. She told us to love our children and to take care of ourselves. She told us the world needed us. I’d always hear her in the car on my way home from the gym. She made things better for a little while. I didn’t have any children to love but I needed help taking care of myself. I was going to…

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LITELIFE by Jimmy Chen

The receptionist hid the instant message regarding the logistics of an imminent gathering behind her work email, though the only thing visible to others in the waiting area was the back of her computer, which featured a ubiquitous apple with a sole bite mark in its side. Those who waited did so with the fragile purposefulness of people completely consumed by their phone, and so weren’t actually “waiting”—an anti-event generally marked by ennui and restlessness—but rather, simply tending to labyrinthine text threads and neglected emails which, therefore, imparted a sense of accomplishment they ultimately found pleasurable. Behind her, on a…

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OLIVER by Kevin Maloney

I was sitting in a McDonald’s in Elkhart, Indiana, eating a Big Mac, crying and swallowing. The beef, or whatever gray rubber they wedge between the white bread and Thousand Island, was foul and made my stomach churn, but under my disgust was the pleasure of my unshackling. In Burlington, Vermont, the communist outpost where until 13 hours ago I’d lived in unhappy matrimony, everybody was vegetarian or vegan. Somehow, I’d gotten sucked into that nonsense; for eleven years, I’d subsisted primarily on kale, a leafy green that tastes the way doilies look. It was my wife’s doing. She wanted…

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