LAND SPEED by Alex Evans

On October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine broke the land speed record riding his Schwinn through a suburb outside of Madison, Wisconsin. People said that this was impossible, that Oscar Valentine, being neither a professional high-speed driver nor a legal adult at the time of the achievement, could not have exceeded 760 miles per hour. Others cite the vehicle as their source of skepticism. Not only does a bicycle seem an unideal method by which to compete for speed, but a close friend of Valentine has publicly stated that the tires on the Schwinn were nearly flat that morning, and he ought to know, as he was the owner of the only bicycle pump on the block. But the fact remained, it happened.

Many explanations have been posed for this inconceivable scientific phenomenon, each more implausible than the last, but almost all prior investigations have turned to the cosmos for answers, citing freak meteorological events, gusts that travelled from the Gulf to Wisconsin and buffeted the rusting bicycle from A to B in record speed. None have looked at the boy himself, Oscar Valentine, to understand what inspiration a teenager might have for that level of speed, instead assuming that the inspiration was the same for everyone who competed for the land speed record, that Oscar Valentine and the drivers of rocket fueled super cars were in fact one and the same. This is a flaw in the existing research and will be corrected here. This story aims to set the record straight, showing Oscar Valentine for what he is: not the victim of a meteorological coincidence, but a lover of chess, a dutiful son, and a boy who would stop at nothing to pursue his passions.

The reality is this: on the morning of October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine was running late. He had agreed to join two friends for a game of chess in the park, having already promised his mother he would go to church. The church was four blocks from his home, and the park was fourteen blocks in the opposite direction. Realizing his mistake upon waking up to his mother calling for him, Oscar was faced with two unconscionable options: to skip his planned chess match and thus risk disappointing his friends and losing his rank as Monroe County’s finest chess player under the age of 18, or to disappoint his mother and, by extension, God himself, whom Oscar felt certain was already not fond of him. Neither option was ideal, and in that warped state between sleeping and waking where impossibilities becomes possible, Oscar decided to do both.

The mass began promptly at 8:30 and lasted one hour, though Father Chandler usually cut it short early, on account of his drinking and resultant forgetfulness, which caused many parts of the service to go missing. On one recent Sunday, it had only been fifteen minutes before Father Chandler had called out, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” at which point the congregation had stood and filed out as usual, each member too polite to bring up that there had been no verses read, no communion, and no homily. It was upon Father Chandler’s unpredictable timekeeping that Oscar’s plan depended.

His chess match was due to begin at 9:30, and though his friends were fond of him, they were also hungry for power, as most teenagers are, and Oscar knew they would seize any chance to eliminate him and take his title. Thus, he wheeled his bike to the church and left it outside, ready at a moment’s notice for Oscar’s escape to the park and to victory.

At this time, all of Wisconsin’s communion wine was produced by the Glory of God Vintners, LLC. They signed an exclusive deal with the archdiocese two years earlier, and every church in the area had been well-stocked with their stigmata-emblazoned cartons ever since. However, one week before Oscar’s fateful ride, the Madison Police discovered an enormous quantity of cocaine and a stash of jewelry belonging to the deposed king of a small European nation in the factory of Glory of God Vintners, LLC. It was the largest drug bust in Wisconsin’s history, and aside from giving the Madison Municipal Police some much needed good P.R. after years of rampant corruption, it also created a major shortage in communion wine, as the entire production was seized by the state. Thus Father Chandler was sober for the first time in almost a decade, and he had many thoughts on the ways God punishes man which he intended to share with the congregation.

So you see, rather than running short, the mass had potential to run longer than ever. Oscar Valentine loved his mother and could not leave early. It would break her heart, and though Oscar was many things, he was never a heartbreaker. So, he squirmed in his pew through Father Chandler’s homily, eyes on his watch. He would have missed his chess match entirely, stuck in the church all afternoon, had it not been for Winston, the organist. It was Winston who had made meaningful eye contact with Father Chandler and gestured to his watch. Thus the service had ended with seconds to spare, and thus our hero, having taken a majority of those seconds to shake hands with members of the congregation, was forced to either admit defeat or confound the laws of physics.

The rest is history. It has been demonstrated that in times of immense stress, humans are capable of performing extraordinary feats of strength. Like a mother lifting a midsize sedan off her child, Oscar pedaled his bicycle at a speed which, by all calculations, ought to have caused both his legs to detach at the hip. Those who do not believe it can check the satellites. On October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine broke the land speed record on a bicycle, but he lost his chess match, and that’s the end of it.

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MAPLE & GOO by Anith Mukherjee

The Orb glowed, the room shook, pink slime dripped from the ceiling. The Orb shuddered. The Orb split open. Gestating ultraviolet flesh. Flesh appendages reached out and grabbed Maple by the neck, they pulled her into The Orb’s living centre. She felt blood circulating around her, absorbing her. She faded and dissolved. She did not scream. It felt like a kiss.


Town Nouvelle Vague is a paranoid city. Steeped in irony and sarcasm. Sincerity was outlawed. No one knew what anyone was really thinking. There was a constant underlying analysis of meaning. The paranoia fed into the general theme of contempt. Everyone disregarded everyone. There were no real friendships. Relationships revolved around sex and sarcasm. Non smokers were exiled. Emphysema was the town’s leading cause of death. Jazz blared from giant speakers scattered throughout the city. Your life must be soundtracked to Mingus, Coltrane, Ellington, this was not a choice. Everyone had nervous ticks, stress induced neurosis, underlying anxiety. None if it ever showed. Everyone adhered to the strict code of style. Style was essential, mandatory by law. Maple watched all this, wandering the streets, calm and invisible.  


She had decided to burn her past. Fizzle it out of existence. She was starting fresh, unburdened by old mistakes. She did this by sitting on her bed, systematically flowing through her memories. They came to her, one by one, from early childhood to yesterday’s conversations. She quietly removed the ones that were painful, awkward, pointless. She categorised each negative memory and burned the synaptic flash that held them in her brain. She was tired of being this person. She was going to create a curated and stylised narrative for her identity. Nouveau Maple.  


Goo was a mixture of a lunar eclipse and a radioactive sunrise. Her tattoos writhed and mutated across her skin. She had ultraviolet fingers, melting neon eyes, liquid hair. She would pull out her eyeballs with the tip of her switchblade, the black holes in her head absorbing nutrients from the sun. She carried a snub nose revolver with her always, strapped to her ankle. She seduced businessmen, and as they took off their clothes she would gently place the revolver by the side of their skull, stripping them of their cash. She enjoyed the work, and felt no moral remorse.   


Maple had been watching Goo for days. Something about her made her the perfect subject. Some electric quality, a tangible mystery. Maple knew she was hiding something, some underground section of her life. She followed her into cafes, walking the streets, she watched Goo carefully watch others. Maple wondered if she had found someone else like her, someone with a similar gift. She watched Goo flirt with strange men, before following them back to a house or apartment. She never saw what happened inside.


It was late at night, there was no moon, the streets were empty. Maple had followed Goo down some back street and lost her. She walked around, searching for Goo’s figure in the dark. Electricity ran down her spine. She heard the click of a revolver’s hammer.

She heard someone whisper,

“So what do you want?”


Maple and Goo sat in a midnight cafe. Around them were insomniac loners and jittery winos. Maple told Goo that she just liked to watch. Everyone. She liked to watch and see what happened. That she wasn’t interested in them personally, just in how they behaved.

Goo said,

“That’s very strange.”

Maple shrugged. She lit a cigarette, she coughed, she put the cigarette out.


Maple and Goo would work together at night. Maple would watch, observe closely, finding men who seemed rich and foolish. She would find their routine, their patterns. She would tell Goo where and when was best to find them. Goo would either seduce them, or, on lazy nights, simply lead them down some blind alley and point a gun at their head. They split the money. Iridescent in cash and crime. Afterwards they smoked and drank black coffee.


His name was Johnny. He knocked on Maple’s door in the early morning. The sun hadn’t risen, the stars seemed jittery and frightened. She did not open the door. He knocked again, louder. Maple silently walked to her kitchen and pulled out a knife. He knocked again.

He shouted,


She put the knife down. She nudged open the door. He stood tall and shimmering, an ultraviolet shadow.

He flashed his badge and card.


There was something about him.

He walked inside.

He said,

“We have an offer for you.”


Goo had found a new man. He was affluent and ungraceful. He was new to Town Nouvelle Vague. He did not suit the style of the place. His hair was too clean, his suit too fresh. She wanted to get him before he was exiled. She wanted to get inside his apartment, to rob it clean. He was easy to seduce. He lost himself to her gaze instantly. He unlocked the door. He walked inside. Goo followed. Maple stood, gun drawn, pointed at Goo’s chest. Goo, with a reflex she didn’t know she had, immediately reached for her revolver. Maple fired. There was no scream. Goo fell. Crimson ripples staining the floor. The town shivered.


Johnny sat in Maple’s apartment. A dead and silent night. He gave her a new set of clothes. He said to trash everything she owned, to become unrecognisable.

He said,

“We’ve transferred the money to this account.”

He handed her a card.


And she dreamt of a night she once spent with an ultraviolet girl. They sat high in a treehouse overlooking the city. The girl lit a joint, held it up to the sky, and said,

“We’re double high."

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In their twenties love was ineptitude—being there to fail together.

Separately they delved the snowy miles between Erie and Rochester. A quest for meaning, those birthplaces their only landmarks, logical lapses in the dense contract language of northern hardwood. Their paths converged in a college poetry workshop, a group exercise where they fixed their willful corrections onto a hapless third’s verse.

She had green hair and wore face jewels. He wore steel toes and a red bandanna, ebony plugs in stretched earlobes. She worked at the campus library circulation desk. He worked on cars and bused at a diner built to resemble the railroad car it wasn’t. Her fingertips inked, his oiled. Her window faced a man-made lake where featureless fox decoys endured snowfall the geese had fled. He had no reason to doubt his mechanic’s heart—so far it had worked on all tasks, an all-purpose tool bought from late-night TV. She worked up the natal charts of TV characters and wondered if it was poetry—Do I decide who I want to be, then be her? Or learn who I already am? She wept in public, became a mirror image. In society’s blind spot she caroused with this despairing twin, transcending to higher and more wicked realms of privacy, an incandescent flash of holy grief too painful to look at. On breaks at the diner he smoked by the dumpster and chatted with the fry cook through the grimy screen door, workplace grumbling and small-town gossip—DUIs, domestics, too-soon deaths. After closing, he trudged home. Winter facsimiled him, his spirit burrowing in, tunnels of self so secret they had no openings. Converging again, they exploded into one other’s warmth. After, he’d smoke and spin records. His day’s petty remainders failed to bind, ashes scattering. Hers, though, had strange polarity, gathering into constructions unintentionally keen; bristling letters to the world. She imagined these missives tucked into envelopes sealed with an ironic sigil—a heart bursting with radial rays, the electrotheremin from Good Vibrations warbling screw-loose in the background. Little by little in this waiting embryo, they made actual plans. Superlatives deformed under impractical weight.

Years later, they’d reached the marital beach—a New England crescent strewn with beer-bottle rocks. A heart drawn in sand. Still the red bandanna, the green hair. The horizon was real. They’d chased it to Stellwagen Bank, whale watching. After three hours, seven boats starved for encounters surrounded a pair of ghostly green humpbacks. The eye contact seemed meaningful. If the horizon was this real, they thought, it was worth refining. They searched one another’s eyes for adornments to come and honeymooned on a friend’s air mattress.

Then a pregnancy. A glow striving, an attempt to expand. She wanted to be surprised by the sex, to decorate the nursery in neutrals. He shrugged. She started on a woodland mural. Talk of names pervaded—names’ operational beauty. As she knelt at a faceless fox with a line brush, he came in reciting from a book of baby names. She turned and prettified the air with something Gaelic, a flick of her brush. He parried: Aaron. Alexander. Andrew. Their eyebrows sparred. She turned back to the fox, her brush shy to mark its snowfall blankness. An envelope fell to her lap. Heart burst sigil.

They abstracted the naming so it was unclear what mattered. They resolved to build from scratch. It had worked before. Munching tortilla chips on the patio at the Mexican restaurant, her hand on her belly, they gleaned inspiration from the signs of businesses: O’Reilly Auto. Sherwin-Williams. Shawnee Optical.

O’Sher, Willshaw, Reilin

They searched out their server’s name on the check: Desireé.

Des, Desi, Desilin

At last, a binary: Desmond if a boy. Fern if a girl.

Good. They clinked glasses. The sky unsustainable blue.

A decade later, Friday afternoon: Dad’s wearing a backpack at the curb of the George Eastman House in Rochester, museum brochure in one hand, the fingers of his other tracing the hole in one distended earlobe. He’s waiting for the ex, the sky a pink-and-gray Formica of autumn.

He’s waiting for his kid.

The brochure’s central image depicts the sitting room’s signature elephant bust, a glass-eyed idol of judgment. The feature exhibit is called Murano. Photography on Italian glassmaking—glass threaded with gold, imitation gemstones. The copy contains words like smalto and millefiori and lattimo. He imagines crossing beneath the elephant. Will he freeze there? Wrongly stabilize, succumb to fear’s hardening? Before, the stakes were low; now he dreads to forget even what’s simple—walking, swallowing. His heart having reached the limits of its utility—no more hidden potential there, no more tricks or surprises; just an object of finite nostalgia.

His backpack brims with curios—things meant to say something (everything) deftly, silently, safely. Good Vibrations on 45—the most expensive single of its time, a guiltless sound. Comic books, curated and bundled in a manner wanting to convey care and hospitable weirdness. An autographed 8x10 of Richard Kline from Three’s Company, a left-field gag meant to evoke the nuclear family, one he now realizes is meant entirely for the kid’s mother—she will analyze these gifts. The photo made more sense earlier; now the joke feels way too desperate. Beneath it all: a Kit Kat bar, wrapped in a threadbare bandanna.

After the separation—many reasons, many sharp-cornered envelopes flung from the past, some earned, some not—he read to the kid. Comics, cereal boxes. Anything. Random stuff from the news, cutting out what was upsetting, dressing what remained. A National Geographic story about flooding in India—a grown elephant washed away in flood waters, carried from Assam to Bangladesh. The elephant survived, went on to live life. The bedtime lesson maybe about hope? Did you know elephants don’t run? Part of them is always on the ground!

Another night in the car on the way back from baseball, another bluff—Pangea. Pseudo-wisdom meant to divert, to salve the sting of the faltering athletic experiment (the bench warming, the strikeouts, being hurt when the cliques didn’t notice you, hurt worse when they did), the glove finding its final purpose hiding tears. It’s okay to fail. Silence. The fireflies’ cipher plaited gray atmosphere. Then the Pangea thread found higher purpose. The world might break—but it forms anew!

The black hybrid whispers up, the ex in dark glasses. Short blonde hair now. His chest is a dunk tank. They’d gone so long apart it all rings like fever—two lives across a checkerboard in a sanitarium common room, waiting on the angel of wellness. She leans toward the passenger seat, flips up her glasses. The passenger door pops open. A small foot emerges in a red-and-white checkered shoe, then draws back, door closing. Mom’s talking. Last-minute instruction.

His mood, a painstaking exhibition of control, starts to warp. The backpack feels too heavy—the insufferable toll of need. He stares at the car. He wants only to listen—participate, perceive. Be there.

He stills himself, stroking the void in his earlobe. The loneliness brings him back to those years ago in the hospital corridor, weighing surgery on their intersex child, not quite a year old. Boots crunching in a vending machine’s wreckage. Security on the way. Kicking out the glass had not been a plan—just a reply, a sudden island of circumstance erupting.

How she’d stared at him like a stranger without context. Kneading his ear, index finger spiraling the glossy black plug, that screw-loose gesture, his heart pounding, eager for a doctor, a professional, someone to take charge, sweep up, tase him to death. His boots grinding up glass, toeing candy aside. Their family was still forming. How do you explain this? Invisible faults? The kid was healthy. Mom had gone down the hall with the hospital administrator on damage control. He guessed it was then that her hair began to change, blonde casting out green. How could either of them remain what they had been? How do you stay the self you’d fashioned while having to choose for another—Desmond, or Fern? One, or the other? Perhaps both? Perhaps neither. Imposing their fears, imagining an entire world waiting to traumatize the child with their guess.

The administrator took pity. But dad needed to clean up and pay. Maintenance hunting down gloves, but dad had already begun. He collected the candy bars first. After that, he moved to the glass, having pulled off the bandanna to protect his fingers. He picked up the big pieces, then moved to the small. He was careful, and still he put blood on the floor. Clarity seized him, held him in sight, said Be there. Someone brought a garbage can near. His wife. She would see them through.

In the black hybrid, mom’s done. The passenger door opens again. Mom looks back. He doesn’t meet her eyes, leaves that distance complete. He watches the door. One little red-and-white checkered shoe, then the other. They touch pavement.

There: Clarity.

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FOOTNOTES by Erin Cork

Stopped at a red light, Malfunction Junction. A seventies model Chevy pickup ahead of me, bull balls dangle from the trailer hitch and a faded bumper sticker that was probably added when the truck was new, “Disco Sucks”.  There’s a man-child anywhere between the ages of 18 and 30 in the driver’s seat. It could be a hand me down, his father’s rig.

I’ll never share the memory of peeling the backside from that sentiment and slapping it on the tailgate in front of me. But I do have a scrapbook full of goose bump gospel moments in the fellowship of outcasts.

The anti-disco slogan, ‘Disco Sucks’ available on t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons and more…” Luis-Manuel Garcia explains, “…wasn’t just a metaphor in the ‘70s: it was a direct reference to cock-sucking, aiming a half-spoken homophobic slur at disco and its fans.

I came of age in queer bars. I’m not gonna lie, I had some moves. I’m like Pavlov’s dog when I hear the thump of a drum machine and the pulse of a synthesizer. My shoulders roll, hips gyrate, feet slide and arms rise towards swirling colors real or imagined.

The light turns green, a new generation on my playlist; Janelle Monae’s “Django Jane” revs into the speaker, volume up, foot on the pedal I’m singing along, head nodding. I’m as fired up as ever.

My education began in earnest in the basement of the Palace Hotel and house parties in the late seventies. I was still in my teens. I was reading Our Bodies, Ourselves, Rita Mae Brown and Patricia Nell Warren. Holy Shit, I wasn’t alone.  

House parties grew into clubs. We danced to meet each other, to be together, to celebrate. We were outcasts in high schools and hometowns. We were weirdos filled with shame but when we twirled and moved sang out “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, “I Will Survive” and “We Are Family” always ending our nights with “Last Dance” it was with a fist in the air.

It was life schooling. I enrolled in advanced courses of acceptance and denial, hitting the floor with an earnestness I had previously reserved for class officer campaigns. “Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir, Voulez vous coucher avec moi”?

In 1979 radio D.J Steve Dahl lit the fuse on the Disco Sucks movement in Chicago where he blew up disco records in Comiskey Park at a baseball game. AIDS was new and on the rise, terrifying the club scene. Confusion about what it was and how you might catch it contributed to the backlash.

Fran Lebowitz commented on the events, “There’s music I don’t like, but I don’t make a career out of not liking it-I just don’t listen to it. ‘Disco Sucks’ was kind of a panic on the part of straight white guys. Disco was basically black music, rock ‘n’ roll was basically white: those guys felt displaced.” A familiar refrain today, a scratchy record on repeat.

About the same time the assault on Disco was picking up speed my parents split for good. My father left his longtime teaching job in a local high school after falling in love with his student teacher, a young man in his mid twenties, closer to my age than my dad’s. Pop came out in a blaze of glory or burning bridges depending on which angle you looked at it. He moved to Portland and went to work for the Oregonian.

Thinking about it now, I may have wanted him to hang his own balls from his rear-view mirror like he had dice in his Northern Montana College days. I guess this might really be a sign of castration. These are steers, not bulls. Whatever. Anyway, I wanted him to be my dad again, not the poster child for a mid-life crisis. I jumped in my ’66 Dodge Pickup, a retired forest service truck that I had painted sky blue and followed him out west.

I pulled into the city, both cocky and overwhelmed as I went the other way on a one way. I had a meager savings, a typewriter and big dreams, muted and muddled but recurring. Dad and I had some reparation to be done. At least I thought so. His part included subsidizing my writing ambition. After all, he had created and nurtured this monster. He couldn’t just walk away.

The transformation he was going through had nothing to do with fatherhood. He was trying to leave his past, all of it behind. I wasn’t going to make it easy for him. After all, this was about me.

In the beginning of this contract I wrote by day. I was working on a brilliant debut novel about a talking dog that had witnessed the murder of his mistress, stunning the world when he exposed the killer that had tried to silence him with peanut butter. Ha, who wouldn’t want to read this?

At night, Dad and I would hit the town. A weird and tentative twist on our relationship. I wasn’t old enough to drink but I had swagger. In my black polyester pants, matching vest, white t-shirt and cowboy hat that may have had a feather in it, I must have been hard to resist. We’d dance until the bars closed then work all day. Eventually, the arrangement got uncomfortable. Watching my father cruise was unsettling. I started venturing out to different clubs on my own like The Other Side of Midnight, Embers and Aaron’s.

I was shaking my stuff to A Taste of Honey with a local DJ who had befriended me when a small, beautiful dark-haired woman moved in and up on me. She winked at the other woman, pulled me away and into her.

This was Kris, a local attorney in her thirties. She fed me maraschino cherries from her amaretto sours. I’d practice tying the stems in a knot with my tongue.

Kris treated me well, took me to concerts, the theatre and barbecues with her friends. She’d pack a picnic lunch, her secret recipe potato salad. We’d drive into the mountains in my pickup that she claimed was a chick magnet. We’d lie on a blanket by a stream where I continued my lessons. We’d laugh hard and loud. I’d tell her about all the stories I wanted to write. She’d kiss me and tell me that she believed I could do anything. At night, we’d go dancing. God, I loved to dance.

Dad wanted me to find work if I was going to stay. Supporting the nightlife for both of us was taking a financial toll. I tried to convince him that I was working. My novel was my job. He was a patron of the arts. Unconvinced, he wanted me to contribute to the household, pay rent and help with the utilities. In a fit of rage and abandonment issues I left. I drove back to Montana where I found refuge in the arms and house of my high school sweetheart. I went to school and found a part time job.

Disco wasn’t dying, it was alive and well. I sought out house parties with the music cranked where I could find my groove again. I needed the fix. I felt alive on the dance floor with a girl running her hands over my body and whispering in my ear.

Later we’d have makeshift clubs of our own like the Amvets and Daddy’s. These were our safe havens away from the slurs, mumbled hostilities, nasty shout outs and bashings. We found refuge under the rainbow tent, in our big ol’ queer revivals.

I struggled to settle down, met another girl who would eventually get me to Seattle where I would let the colored lights and thumping beats take hold again. I just wanted to dance. When we split in the mid-eighties I gravitated toward the clubs like Neighbours where I would spend my weekends shouting and singing, going home with miss “right now”.

Our community though was experiencing devastating losses, our brightest, most creative men, our friends were sick. They were dying.

I have a painting that hangs on my wall done by Seattle artist Matthew Luzny. I shared a house with Matt. He had a quick, dry wit and a bark of a laugh. He’d whip his shirt from his lean and muscled body. He’d shake, shake, shake in the heat of release. He loved light and color. Oh the things he could do with texture, glass and paint. He had vision.

I’d met him through an artist I was dating. His diagnosis was perplexing and stunning. We didn’t know what to make of it. He and I had talked about having a kid together. The reality of such a venture was just the beginning of what we would come to understand about HIV and AIDS.

The “we” was taken out of it because I would never fully comprehend what it meant to live with the disease, the terror of a sore throat progressing to a full-blown cold. Matt died in 1994 at the age of 36.

In her book Hot Stuff: Disco and the Remaking of American Culture, Alice Echols says, “Lesbianism has never carried the same cachet as male homosexuality in either the music business or in disco studies. Disco’s only self-declared and unambiguously lesbian performer, Alicia Bridges, came out twenty years after she scaled the charts with her 1978 hit “I Love the Nightlife” And yet lesbian and bisexual women were part of disco culture-both in their own bars and in gay male and mixed clubs.”

Our history like history in general centers on men even in gay history. The dances and parties were filled with women too. These men were our brothers, we danced and sweated right along with them but little of it is documented. We participated in the seduction, the lure, our own sexual awakenings side by side.

  • In the first minutes of January 1st, 2014 Musab Mohamad Masmari dumped gasoline down a stairwell at Neighbours the popular Seattle gay club.  The 750 people inside escaped without injury, certainly not the attacker’s intent.
  • On June 24th, 1973 an arsonist set fire to the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans.
  • On February 21, 1997 the American terrorist Eric Rudolph set off an explosion at the Otherside Lounge in Atlanta.
  • October 6, 1998 Matthew Shepard was beaten and left for dead near Laramie, Wyoming.
  • September 22, 2000 Ronald Gay opened fire in a gay bar in Roanoke, VA, killing one and injuring another six.
  • On March 1st, 2009 Lawerence and Lawrneil Lewis along with their cousin Alejandro Gray launched chunks of concrete at customers in a gay bar in Galveston, TX.
  • On June 12, 2016 Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
  • June 28th, 1969 a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York caused an uprising and led to gay pride marches. Pride as we know it.

We cut loose. We were free. We got to be with people who understood. When you say, “Disco Sucks”, you can’t comprehend how we found one another or the way our bodies moved together. The risk involved was everything. It’s how we created community.

I love Disco. Dance music. It’s not the only music I love, I’ll put my eclectic collection up against anyone’s but I won’t be embarrassed by the 12” mixes that have contributed to my education as much as any lecture I sat through. Stonewall, discos, the seventies helped us find and shape our identities. It didn’t suck.

“I’m Coming Out” is an anthem we scream and shout. Don’t stop the dance.

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The last address was easy to remember. But in a year living on the outskirts of downtown Portsville, Calup still confused First Street with Second Street about every other time. Maybe that’s what happened with his last letter. Confusion was now his general state of mind, even on good days, when it was only mild. At eighty-six years old, there were more days when he could remember what was in his lunch box the day the Number 2 tipple burned on Shelby Creek than he remember what street he lived on.

The post office lady pulled to his mailbox. He got up from porch swing and started toward her. She cradled a large pink box in her arms. Written on the side were flowery words reading Thirty-One. Not for him, no sir. Before Calup could make it to the edge of his yard, the lady shook her head and hunched her shoulders, hopped in her truck and sped off.

When he sent the contents of the storage chest to his daughter in Indiana he used a large media package. Calup half expected Cayaha to send it back. But now that it seemed she might be taking a notion to keep what he sent, he was seriously regretting sending the love letters he had written Susan, tucked away all these years at the bottom of the chest.

There wasn’t much in the chest, not like you’d expect from a package sent to a daughter from a father who was barely there most of the time. One would expect a whole spread of things trying to make up for lost time. But Calup knew that wasn’t possible. And there was nothing of any real value in the chest. All the same, three weeks and no response. He had to have mixed up First and Second again. It was the only thing that made sense. It happened the last time he sent Cayaha a card for her wedding anniversary. She told him so when he finally got her on the phone a couple months later.

When Cayaha was still in grade school they sent her to stay for a month with Susan’s brother up in Indiana. Susan said it would do her good to visit family and get her nose out of books, play like a normal girl, quit worrying about skinning her knees and get a little dirty.

Susan’s brother, Paul, drove cross-country delivering RVs, hauling his Chevy Rabbit along and driving it back from every state you could think of and some you couldn’t. Calup’s reservations had a lot to do with the fact that he never cared much for Paul from the start. Paul drank, played cards with drunks, fought with his wife, Nora, night and day. Paul and Nora had three daughters. Striped snakes were more kind, easier to get along with on account of the fact that their parents mostly left them alone. Kids left alone and bored are going to find the time to head in bad directions.

Paul’s three girls – Melanie, Sara and Brit – were all older than Cayaha and pure hell on wheels. This added to his worries, which he kept to himself and, instead, thought about all the possibilities after Susan slept easily two feet away from him. Those sleepless hours were tough, watching shadows of branches cast from the moonglow appear and disappear along the walls of the bedroom. In those black forms he saw Cayaha being bullied, shunned, yelled at, ignored, lonely with no books, no solitude. For others, maybe not a big problem. For his Cayaha, it was a straitjacket, no sunlight, no hope. During those hours alone with his thoughts beating away at him, Susan snored. Calup could not imagine what she dreamed of because she smiled between breaths, and it didn’t seem there was anything to smile about then.

What he couldn’t know was that the reality of Cayaha’s circumstances in Indiana was about as bad as he thought it was, but with a stranger set of characters. For the entire month she stayed with Susan’s family they were visited nights by a crew of people headed by Rocky and Kelly, a couple who had stayed drunk, to the best of Calup’s recollection, the entire twenty-five years they had lived together. The two of them moved north with Paul when coal busted for a while and factories elsewhere was the best option for work. Of course they had no intention of working, whether they were in Kentucky or Indiana or anywhere else for that matter. Rocky and Kelly’s only intentions were to party, their own unique blend made up of poker games, loud music, and drinking. Lots and lots of drinking, along with the occasional joint, if it was available.

Had Calup been there (and how he had wished a thousand times over that he had went with her) he would have been able to negotiate the kind of swarm that happened within a household when people like that got together, negotiate it for Cayaha, rustling her from one room to another if arguments started or drinking got out of hand. But he wasn’t. Nothing about that was ever going to change.

Turned out Susan thought the trip would toughen Cayaha up. Instead she came back saying she woke each morning and watched deer scatter across the yard and sprint toward the pond at the back of the house. She cried the way an adult would cry, no expression, just tears dropping every few seconds from the corners of her eyes, telling how one morning a big dog, a German Shepherd, she thought, chased a deer down and killed it at the property line in front of the house. She remembered how the steam lifted off its torn belly and floated away like smoke.

The trip was a failure on all levels, and the weeks and months and years that followed were picked apart by family, by counselors, by psychiatrists until Cayaha was a husk left by crows, empty and slowly dying. Still empty, still dying, but he was through thinking about it just now. It had cooled considerably after sunset and the Braves would be playing since they were off Monday. Baseball, beer, and a cool breeze could wipe a day clean better than about anything else.

He situated the radio on the porch rail. With Pete Van Wieren calling the count, Calup could almost forget. Some nights he prayed out loud to come down with Old Timer’s disease. Forgetting would be a way to stop one hour from becoming the next hour. These days it seemed getting from afternoon to evening and from evening to the next morning was the longest walk he’d ever taken. And he was tired, and he needed rest, and he needed Brian McCann to knock at least a sac fly and get Chipper in from second. It would be nice to take a series from the Mets at Citi Field. Calup tipped his beer and took a long swallow. This was the kind of evening that could almost clean him in a spiritual way, lift his guilt and regret for a brief time. Susan never understood why he carried, as she called it, his suitcase full of bricks, and now, six deep on Wildcat Cemetery, she never would. She took everything in stride. Parents make mistakes, she would say. Children are stronger than we give them credit for. Not everything bad that happens to this family is your fault. It was nice to know she almost certainly died at peace, probably telling herself that nobody was perfect and you’d be surprised who could get into heaven these days.

Calup woke early as usual the next morning and went to the porch with his coffee. Post lady would be here in an hour or so. He watched the sun coming up and searched for whatever sort of inspiration or glory people seemed to find there, but all he ever saw was that color of bright washed pink, like a nosebleed from a cloud. That sort of bitterness that stole even a beautiful morning ate at him most days now. It was a new feeling, and one he didn’t welcome. Keep moving along, bitterness. We’re all full up here.

He sipped his coffee, already cooled from the milk he added, and fought off those old bedtime thoughts, fought at them until he heard the rumble of the post lady. He watched her place a stuffed manila envelope in his box, struggle to close the latch, and then finally leave it hanging. She waved and he waved back. When she marched to the truck, she stopped and slapped her thigh, bent and grabbed a package, his package. Turning, she held it up and smiled at him. Calup didn’t move from the swing. He motioned for her to sit it down outside the fence, and she did. The sun was bleeding yellow now, the color of ripe corn.

It didn’t matter what was in the envelope; it didn’t matter the package was the same size as the chest he sent to Cahaya. All a man could do was everything he could, and the fact that he hadn’t done this enough in his life was its own trip to Indiana. It was grief on top of grief on top of grief. But time won’t stop so a person can catch their breath. Time falls across the world the same way it always has, with a hatred for living creatures unable to lean into that forward motion. Calup held his wristwatch to his ear and counted off ten, twenty, thirty seconds. The sun had stopped at the edge of the sky. Who knew when it would move again.

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Terrance tells me choose a record and I struggle. He’s a new friend. A very sexy friend. I need friends. We have one in common, Metal Matt, who’s orchestrated this meetup, aka blind brunch date, slash hook-up. But with friends with records like these, you know. Plus I don’t want to offend.

There’s Rihanna, understandable.

Peaches, okay.

But the predominance of ‘80s music stupefies.

The closest thing to metal: Alice in Chains. I figure sure why not. I pull the album from the shelf.  

I say, How’s this, and hold the record high.

He’s in the kitchen constructing our bowls of quinoa and garbanzo beans and swiss chard (easier to digest than kale, I’m informed) real bacon (for him) and tempeh bacon (for me).

We’re both trying to get healthy. No booze. No wheat. No drama.

He doesn't look up but says, Doesn't matter.

I say, Honestly? Everyone always says that but really?

He says, If I own it, I should have no problem playing it.

I say, I agree.

But secretly I don't. There’s times I want something specific, the long hard build up of doommetal or the fast punch in the face of thrash.

Everything matters.

This shit’s serious you know.

I pull the record out and it has this plastic sleeve that crinkles and bunches. I can’t imagine trying to slide it back on. I figure I’ll deal with the stress later and place the album on the turntable. The needle moves and the speakers crackle to life. But it’s not anything remotely like metal. These synthesizers hum, slow and rhythmic. Then another joins, an octave higher. A drum machine begins and bumps along. It all coalesces into this rhythmic clapping beat and all I can do is bob my head. Suddenly, Terrance races in from the kitchen with a spoon and acts like it’s a mic. He belts along with this nasally singer: This is not love / This is not even worth a point of view, and it’s the worst, most beautiful thing ever.

I say, This is not Alice in Chains.

He says, This, my friend, is the immortal Gary Numan.

I say, Never heard of him.

He says, Sadly, he’s mostly a trivia trick question because his biggest hit is called Cars and everyone thinks it’s by the band Cars.

I say, Wait. Are you serious? It’s not by Cars?

He smirks but says, I’m so glad you found it. I’ve been looking for it.

I say, You have?

And realize I sound so dismissive and he’s so cute.

He says, Sometimes what you need finds you.

I sit cross legged on the carpet in this one bedroom apartment and smile up to him. I must look some kind of way because he says, Let’s dance.

I say, It’s like 10:30 in the morning. I’m not only sober but haven’t even had any coffee.

He pushes me and says, You're afraid you can’t dance because you're sober and uncaffeinated?

He stares at me. He’s still holding the spoon up to his mouth. Like he’s hungry. I look at his chest and see he’s got a handmade tattoo of that trucker lady logo. I see the legs pointing toward his armpit.

I say, You want me to dance to this song?

He says, What would you like?

I say, Not the 80s.

He says, Fine, and kills the record player and steps to the computer on the coffee table and flips it open.

He says, How’s this playlist: Cali Love. Don’t ask what’s on it. Let’s just find out together.

I shrug like of course but I can’t help it. I step to the screen and see some names I know: Joni Mitchell, Missing Persons, Warren G and Kamaiyah. But then I see the A Tale of Two Andre’s album cover and the song “My Homeboy’s Chevy.” I click on it. It opens with Mac Dre saying, Stop thugging out and get your weed from the store the legit way. He begins to rap and we both bounce our shoulders to the beat. Then Terrance dances. And I dance. We keep two feet distance between us and then I reach a hand out and he reaches out and we touch. Like needle to record. Like voice track to drum track. Like welcome home and stay a while.

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BLUE BLOODED by Thomas Barnes

On the second date she brought up the lights in the water.

“What do you mean you haven’t seen them,” she said. “You’re from here. It's all up and down the shore, real late. The witching hour or past it.”

“Just summers when I was a kid,” I said. “Now I don’t stay out late. Early shift.”

The diner faced a parking lot, the parking lot of the black ocean. End of season loomed. Emptiness inherited the town. Waves lashed the thin shore and wind ripped at dune grass. Gulls hung in the air, motionless and screaming.

“What about tonight,” she said.

I was still surprised she wanted to see me again. We didn’t have much in common, but she was kind and that’s really all you can ask for. I hoped she thought I was kind too.

“O.K.,” I said, surprising myself too. I watched her face change in the napkin dispenser.

* * * *

There was nobody under the sodium lamps of boardwalk. The arcades were open to the cold night, games like sirens. I had a dollar so I tried the fortune teller. Her orb pulsed blue and she moved mechanically. The eyes dead and lifeless, all the life of a retail mannequin, the grace of a scarehouse ghoul. My fortune was to please insert another dollar.

I turned my collar against the carbon atmosphere. Lights in the water. Was she talking about the lighthouse? No, that went dark when I was a kid. I pictured sunken wrecks, subterranean St. Elmo’s fire. But there were no mysteries left anymore, not around here anyway. All the maps were filled in, and all that was left was tired.

Her car was parked on the bridge over the kill. She stood duneside, a shadow against the night. Hands in pockets, she faced the seamless place where sky met ocean. I said hey as I approached but she didn’t turn. She watched the dark like it was about to make a move.

“We’re early,” she said.

“For what,” I asked.

“You’ll see,” she said.

We didn’t say anything for a while. The only sound was the black wind. There was a fine chill that crystalized everything, made my skin tighten. If I unfocused my eyes I could see the faint glow of the galaxy. The whole world felt filled up with an ocean of feeling. Something in my chest hurt thinking about it.

It appeared below the water. I almost didn’t notice at first. The gradual lightening. The blue glow was electric, singular, faint. But it was rising, closing in on the surface. Soon there were dozens of blue lights up and down the shoreline. Out at sea but only just.

“Holy shit,” I said.

“They’re crabs, she said.

I could feel her silent laughter, shaking beside me.

“It looks alien,” I said.

“Everything seems supernatural until it doesn’t,” she said. “Some compass always brings them back to the same spot. Where we are now. We track them for miles, rolling with the currents, all across the sea floor. But always arriving back here.”

I pictured darkness, tracks in sand like ice cream, cold North Atlantic water. Angles of light flexing against all the gray.

“I can’t believe you’ve been here all this time and never knew,” she said.

I felt like someone peeled back my own face and showed me what was underneath. I grew up inland. Working summers at the parking lot my grandfather owned, not far from where we stood now. Every day I waved through families in cars and trucks, collected dollars, made change, sweated through long hours in the hot shed, watched the tarmac fill up, empty out. I came back when school didn’t work out. There were a lot of places out there, but none of them fit me like here. After my grandfather died the lot got bought and I found a job working the pier. When you looked out at the margin, you could see for miles — but now I saw it was only the surface.

We watched the lights bounce around the waves, looking like blue fireflies under the ocean. They tumbled in shallows, sinking into where they were supposed to be.

* * * *

Breathing cold smoke, we watched the world lighten. Snow detached itself from the fog, touching dark water before rejoining. My coworkers flicked cigarettes off the pier and went back inside. It was warmer inside the refrigerated warehouse than out. And there was never anything left to say after the sun came up.

Whenever I looked at the water I thought about that night. Sometimes I thought about how things could have gone different. Her contract with state wildlife ended and she left, I didn't follow. Just one of those things.

It is what it is, my coworkers kept saying.

My boss came outside and frowned at the sky. He told me to move the bags of ice inside. There was a freak storm coming in, us in the crosshairs. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said, and shook his head. Snow clung to my jacket and I swung the pallet jack around. Seagulls danced around me and I wondered where they went during the nor’easters.

That night, the wind howled. Near midnight the TV went. Tried the light switch. No power. Snow kept falling in the dark. I pictured the town as a snow globe, under glass. I remembered the lights below the water, the stillness there. I hadn’t been back since that night. I wanted to preserve it in my head like that forever. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I brought the thing of whiskey, and went back to the shore.

And when the lights appeared, I thought, oh there you are.

The lights moved toward the surface. But they weren’t slowing. I watched as the blue lights rose into the air. I looked around but there was nobody, not even plows on the road. The lights climbed skyward, moving through the blizzard. They rose above the boardwalk and the pier. In the sky there was a brighter light, waiting.

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THE COAT by Robert John Miller

You don't wear coats. You wear layers.

You're outside, what, five minutes, ten minutes at a time?

Apartment to bus. Bus to work. Next door for lunch.

Coats are such a bougie luxury. What are these people preparing for? Ice fishing? Everest? You're never more than ten seconds from a clean well-heated place.

But you tire of the questions. And there's an online flash sale. Maybe a coat would be nice.

Remember: You know nothing about buying coats.

But that one on sale looks like the ones everyone has. Red patch. White thread. Maybe a goose is involved.

Two days later, you have a coat. Just like in the picture. Just like everyone else.

You put it on, go to work. Your patch is different, though. Red, yes. White thread. But huge. It looks like a hammer over the arctic. It's not even a knock-off. It's an entirely different brand.

No one ever fails to comment on this coat. It becomes a primary topic of conversation.

"Yes, I bought it online."

"Yes, it was on sale."

"Oh, yeah, I guess it does sort of look like those other ones."

You start leaving the coat at home. Back to the layers.

One day you come home early and the coat is moving around the house of its own accord. It has turned the heat off. You watch it call the gas company, cancel the service.

You try to have a conversation but it just hangs itself back up in the closet.

You call the gas company.

"You literally just called us," they say. "There's a note on the file that says you would call back, and to ignore you." They hang up. You start wearing layers around the house now, too.

The other coat questions return at work. The same questions that inspired you to buy the coat.

"Sure is cold out there," they say. "Where's your coat?"

You come home one night after a Christmas party. You have to force the door open.

A puffy goose down anorak is by the door, not thrilled about letting you in, but you squeeze by. There's a ruby red camel coat dancing by your turntable. A raincoat and a trench coat come over to chat up the anorak.

A toggle coat is by itself in the corner, playing with its tassels. You go stand by it. Try to blend in.

Through the window you spy a duster out on the deck, sharing a cigarette with a bomber, both trying to impress a chesterfield looking longingly back inside at a motorcycle jacket. The field jacket to its right gets fidgety.

A group of varsity jackets are standing in a circle in the kitchen, drinking all your beer.

A cape and a cloak and a poncho are sitting around a roaring firepit in the back. You never got around to buying a firepit, so it's confusing.

You follow a trail of noises into your bedroom, flip on the light. A parka and a pea coat are under your covers, zipping and buttoning and then unzipping and unbuttoning, then zipping and buttoning, faster each time. It's a cacophony of snaps and whirs. They throw a pillow at you but you've already closed the door. The noises make you feel like you might get sick and you speed walk to the toilet. The door is locked so you start pounding.

Your bathrobe comes out wearing a smoking jacket underneath. Or maybe the smoking jacket is wearing your bathrobe, you're not quite sure.

You call customer service. No returns. All sales final.

The party starts to wind down. Finally. You put on the kettle. Put on your pajamas.

Then the anorak sees you fighting to get your bathrobe to stay on and gets the varsity jackets to throw you out. They were leaving anyway. You ran out of beer.

You sleep in the bus terminal. At least it's a well-heated place. In the morning you call a locksmith but they won't help you get back inside unless you can prove you live there. They call the police for you. The police ask you to put the locksmith back on the phone. The police tell the locksmith who finally tells you that a police report had just been filed the night before about a prowler matching your description trying to get inside that same address, and that you should probably get out of there pretty quickly.

You go to the bank. They know you at the bank. But this time, they say, they are so sorry but they have to check your ID. Your ID is in your apartment. You're still wearing pajamas. They aren't supposed to tell you this without ID, they say, but all your accounts were liquidated that morning. They're sure things will get sorted out though, they say.

You are afraid of showing up to work in pajamas, given the queries about coats, so you don't go. No one notices. You're sure things will get sorted out.

You now spend each day trying to find someone who might help you. The DMV wants your Social Security card. The Social Security office wants your birth certificate. City Hall says they have no record of your birth. The hospital where you were born has since closed. The library says you're overdue on something called "The Trench Book" by Nick Foulkes. Social Services says they can get you on assistance, but they want you to sign a form that says you're a homeless transient.

"But I'm not a homeless transient," you argue. "I've just been locked out for a bit."

Meanwhile, you keep sleeping at the bus terminal.

One day you walk by your old office. Your coat is at your desk. It looks like it just told a joke. No, no, it was making a toast. Your old boss pops champagne and sprays it all over your coat.

Someone notices you standing there. A moment of recognition, finally.

You nod. Smile. Wave.

They shut the blinds.

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THE WILHELM SCREAM by Gregg Williard

Before her senior year of high school she spent every day of the sweltering summer on the side porch of her parents’ house writing an essay on existentialism while her little brother, back to her and arms outstretched for balance, inched past the windows outside, wobbling on a ledge no deeper than his heels until he lost his balance and plunged, screaming, into a sea of lava five feet below, then climbed up the drain pipe and did it again, all morning, every morning: inch along the ledge to Kierkegaard, lose balance to Heidegger, wave arms to Hegel, scream piercing terror to Dostoevsky, plunge to lava sea with Sartre, climb up the drain pipe with Nietzsche, then inch along the ledge with Kierkegaard, again.    

Years later in bed she reenacted the scene (and the sound that had haunted her for years) for her first husband Thomas (the man who showed her she was a writer, and later, that she was nothing at all). Thomas the Cinephile swore her brother’s movie scream actually had a name: “The Wilhelm Scream," a stock sound-effect used in more than 200 films, originating in an early ‘50’s western titled Distant Drums, wherein a Private Wilhelm, that first screamer, dives to his death clutching an arrow in his chest with that distinctive yelping shriek she thought belonged to her brother alone.  

Thomas played the wiki sound file for her. He was right (always, in those days).

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MORE by Tyler Dempsey

Servants scatter. The psychoanalyst enters the room. He regards his surroundings: Apollo’s wife, Aphrodite, scrolls Facebook. Her Admirers lounge. Various articles—bedside tables, a rocking horse, bowling pins, Fruit Roll-Ups—lay adrift across the floor. Aphrodite refurbishes goods, like Fruit Roll-Ups, from thrift stores.

Apollo enters, his humor betrays immense slaying. He approaches an Admirer, slays him. Tosses a bloody scimitar to the recliner. The Admirers scoot over. He sits.

—How do you feel?


He cracks a Pabst Blue Ribbon, gallantly. Loosens his golden codpiece. Apollo props his heels on the dead Admirer.

—I was whipping adversaries. The sun was angling, hitting clouds, casting them in that special glow of honey and Fruit Roll-Ups. The leather cracked in my hands, I thought: we never capture what we’re worth.

The psychoanalyst writes in his notebook. Aphrodite ‘likes’ a video of two kittens attempting to nurse from a pot-belly pig.

 Apollo glares.

 She opens her blouse. A spray bottle. Sprays oil. The Admirers shift uncomfortably.

—Your marriage, has been, on the rocks?

—He doesn’t love me an adequate number of times. And I’ve told him of the inadequacy. This, took our relationship from blended, to on the rocks.

—How often?



—2 to 4 times, monthly.

He scribbles maliciously in the notebook.

—Your job, Aphrodite—does it, fulfill you?

—I’m 27. How many husbands, can someone who’s married, expect to have? Refurbishing’s stable. Still, a career out of what most respectable people do while they’re in college?

—You’ve no interest in college?

—I tried three times.

An Admirer sketches a nude of Aphrodite. Another approaches to stare intently at her breasts. They are wonderful. I’m a mineralogist for the U.S. Department of Minerals, he says, Capricorn, half-kitten, half-pot-belly pig, I play Brahms’s Symphony No. 3 in F major, on a yo-yo.


—You were born in Lubbock, Apollo—is that right?


—What was that like?

—Deuteronomy 4:9 says: Be careful, watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children, and to their children after them. Lubbick.


The Admirer shows the sketch. Beautiful. Beautiful.  Beautiful.


—Tell more of your unhappiness. We’re all-ears.

—We dislike, different things, he and I. I strive for: the dubious, equivocal, faint, fuzzy, hazy, imprecise, nebulous, obscure, uncertain, unclear. He doesn’t. He unequivocally doesn’t strive for those things.


—Call me old-fashioned, Doc. I endeavor for biscuits and gravy, Lightnin’ Hopkins, that dog’ll hunt. The 401(k). Dirt road, dirt floor, dirt mini-mall. All-Things-Eastwood. Every night, at 9 p.m., I brush my teeth with a Model A Ford.

She rips a bit from Nora Roberts: . . . they implement relatively simple processes of template matching and pattern recognition, that is, processes that are paradigmatic cases of perceptual processing . . .


—Aphrodite suffers from Present/Post-Present Befuddlement, the direst of today’s situations, listed in my D.S.M.

 Aphrodite sprays oil.

—Certainty’s robotic. Not malleable. She’s expressing, non-robidity. Searching for, searching for, searching for.

—Any hope?

—Wallow. General wallowing. Anguish. Agony, Grief. Heartache. Heartbreak. Misery. Sorrow. Suffering.

He kicks a Corinthian helmet (purchased from Lubbock Pawn) out the window.

—My Code of Conduct, tattooed on my manly codpiece, spells happiness. It’s striving. I’m nothing. Failing lifts me upward, to Heaven, where Apollos who came before me . . .

—She hates dim-lit diners, oil pipelines, shoulder-fat, Deuteronomy.

 Aphrodite stabs a trident in Apollo’s leg.

 More, she says, more.

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