SHOOTER by Kristin LaFollette

I was walking next to Maureen at a slower pace than usual. She was always walking slowly, mostly because she was usually talking too much. I was actually surprised to hear from her when she had called me the day before. It had been months since I’d heard from her. I knew it was because of the incident, but if I was truly being honest, I wasn’t sorry for what I’d done. Maureen had always been a subpar friend, even if we did claim to be “best friends.” Every time I had a crisis situation going on in my life, she would still find something about herself that was more important to talk about instead. She drove me crazy most of the time, but I had agreed to meet up with her in an attempt to clear the air about the whole Ryan situation. Over lunch, she hadn’t even mentioned it once, which was good, I thought. I didn’t want her to see my less-than-genuine apology if it came to that. Plus, I didn’t want to have to tell her that Ryan and I were still seeing each other.

“So, how’s your job going?” Maureen asked as we walked into the coffee shop around the corner from the deli where we had eaten lunch.

If there was one thing I hated talking about, it was my job. I was home for the summer between my junior and senior year of college and had landed an internship at a small magazine in town. I thought it was going to be prestigious and give me great experience to take back to my writing program at school, but all I did was follow the editor around and do his paperwork for him. The truth was that I was embarrassed about how belittling the job was, so I always felt the urge to lie every time someone asked me how it was going.

“It’s fine,” I said, standing in line with Maureen behind a couple of young girls in halter tops. “I think I’m getting a lot of experience.”

“Have you written anything lately?” she asked, staring at the menu behind the counter as if she didn’t always order the same thing when we came in.

This was another question I hated to be asked, but I was always getting asked it anyway. I had really slacked off on my writing that summer, mostly due to the fact that I was spending so much time with Ryan. But I couldn’t tell Maureen that. I was starting to question why I had agreed to meet up with Maureen in the first place. Ryan was all for us meeting up and talking; he said Maureen had a right to know about us, but I felt differently about the whole situation. I would have rather ignored Maureen for the rest of eternity than tell her the truth. I hated conflict.

“I’ve been working on some short fiction for a compilation I’m putting together,” I lied. “I’m hoping to have it finished by the time I go back to school.”

She looked skeptical. If there was one thing Maureen knew about me, it was that I loved to talk about my writing in detail. When I didn’t, she had to know something was wrong.

We ordered our drinks and waited for them at the end of the counter. Maureen was playing with a curl of her blonde hair, something that was a very annoying habit of hers. It made her look stupid. I was trying to think of something to say when she spoke up again.

“Chrissy, I just want you to know that the whole situation with Ryan is in the past. I’m over it and have moved on. Things don’t have to be awkward between us.”

I should have felt relieved, but I felt suddenly nauseated instead. I felt a strange pain deep in my organs somewhere. She was willing to move on from the whole thing, but she didn’t know the whole truth. Ryan was actually waiting for me a couple streets over in the parking lot of a bookstore we often went to together. We were meeting up after my outing with Maureen. I knew he would want to know how lunch went, and I would have to tell him that I didn’t tell her the truth.

“Great,” I said. “That’s what I was hoping you would say.”

I didn’t know what else to say. I felt like a coward, especially because I wasn’t quite sure how Ryan and I would continue our relationship without her finding out at some point in time. I just didn’t want to start an argument with her, especially in the middle of the coffee shop.

We left the coffee shop, walking slowly again while Maureen examined her paper coffee cup in an effort to avoid the silence between us.

“Don’t you have anything you want to apologize for?” Maureen finally asked.

Here was the moment I had been hoping to avoid the whole time. I kept looking down at my feet as we walked, unsure of what to say. My first instinct was to lie.

Before I could say anything, I noticed a one-hundred dollar bill lying in the grass next to the sidewalk. I stopped walking. Maureen took a couple more steps and turned around. She saw the money, too.

For a moment we just looked at each other. I turned back and the money was still in the same spot it had been. I looked a little closer and it looked as if the bill was stuck to the ground with a sewing pin.

“Aren’t you going to pick it up?” Maureen said as I stared at the bill.

“It’s pinned down, like someone put it there,” I said. “Like it’s a joke or something. Like some prank.”

As I was contemplating whether or not to pick it up, I glanced up at the high-rise apartment building in front of us. About five stories up, I saw a man standing in the window. The window was open and the white drapes were fluttering around him in the breeze. He had a gun propped up on the windowsill and was looking down at me through the scope.

I pointed up at the window and screamed.

“Run, he’s got a gun!”

There were many people lining the street and sidewalks, and they all looked up at the window. Everyone started to run at the same time, a stampede of wild animals.

I took off running with my head down and as I heard the gun go off. I didn’t know what kind of gun it was, but it kept going off. I had my back to the shooter as I ran. I kept expecting to feel a sharp pain and then a hot stream of blood down my back. I ran as fast as I could to try to clear the street and get around the corner. I didn’t turn around, but I heard people screaming as I ran. I thought of Ryan, sitting in the driver’s seat of his car in front of Barnwell’s Books on Main Street, waiting for me to jump in with my coffee in hand and tell him all about how Maureen had given us her blessing. Could he hear the gunfire?

I finally made it to the end of the street and ran around the corner, dropping to my knees as soon as I did. I couldn’t catch my breath. I didn’t realize until I had stopped running that I had managed to lose my purse in the process of getting away from the shooter. I didn’t dare look around the corner to see how many people were down or if the police had arrived. Or to find Maureen. It was like I was deaf. I couldn’t hear anything but my own breathing.

My feet hurt from running. I looked down and saw that my skin was raw and red from the straps on my sandals. I took them off and left them on the sidewalk. I needed to find Ryan. I started jogging to put more space between myself and the guy with the gun. As I neared the street where I knew Ryan would be waiting, I saw the Barnwell’s Books sign in the distance. Underneath the sign was Ryan’s blue car. He had the windows down with his music playing, as if nothing in the world had changed. As if people weren’t dying on the street nearby.

I sprinted to his car and pulled the passenger side door open, nearly diving in and slamming it behind me.

“Chrissy?” he said, reaching forward and turning down the volume. “What’s wrong?”

My hair was stuck to my forehead with sweat and I wiped at it with the back of my hand. I was sweating everywhere. My hearing was coming back to me and I heard police sirens in the distance.

“Didn’t you hear it?” I nearly screamed at him. “Couldn’t you hear the gun?”

“What are you talking about, Chrissy?” he said, his expression changing from curious to something between concerned and angry. “Where’s Maureen?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “There was a guy standing in a window with a gun. He started shooting. How could you not hear it?”

We sat there for a couple minutes in silence, not saying anything. Ryan had his hand on my back, my sweaty heat radiating to his palm. My skin stuck to the leather seat of his car.

Finally, Ryan said, “I’m getting out. I’m going to find Maureen.”

I slowly opened the door of the car, putting my raw feet on the hot concrete one at a time. I had been so worried about not letting Maureen know about Ryan and me, and now all I wanted to do was find her and tell her. Maybe out of guilt. Maybe because I didn’t want to feel like a coward.

We walked back toward the street in silence. I heard ambulance and police sirens echoing off of the buildings around us. As we rounded the corner to the street where the shooter was, I saw a figure in a blue dress standing in the distance. Her blonde curls bounced as she talked with a police officer. She was crying.

“Maureen!” Ryan yelled as he took off running.

I hugged my arms around myself.

Maureen turned around and ran to Ryan. They hugged each other as Maureen spotted me over Ryan’s shoulder.

“Chrissy?” she said. “Chrissy, I had no idea where you went. I thought he got you, the shooter.”

I walked up and hugged Maureen. Her sweaty hair clung to my neck.

“Ryan, what are you doing here?” Maureen said, wiping tears from her pale cheeks.

Ryan glanced over at me. I kicked a cigarette butt around on the ground with my bare left foot. For a moment, we were all silent.

“We never stopped seeing each other, Maureen,” I said, looking down at my feet.

Maureen looked at Ryan. She was still crying. Behind her, dozens of policemen and emergency workers were ushering people out of the street and onto the sidewalk. I saw one man lying on the pavement, writhing around and grabbing at his leg. Another woman lay face down in the middle of the street.

Maureen reached up and slapped me across the face. I didn’t move or say anything, I just looked down at my red feet again.

“Chrissy, I told you my brother was off limits! How can you be my best friend and go around with my little brother behind my back? Don’t you have any boundaries? Any morals?”

Ryan stepped in between us and grabbed his sister by the shoulders. He was talking to her but I wasn’t listening. My ears started ringing and I feared the deafness would return. I turned and looked up the street again. Off in the distance, I could still see that one-hundred dollar bill stuck to the ground, the sun reflecting off the tiny piece of metal pinning it down.

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TRIAL by Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle

The mystery shopper is ambitious, athletic, with a big dick. It looks good on you. I’ve been here for a while. I ask him what his Myers-Briggs type is and he says he is an INFP. What, INFP, but I’m an INFP. You don’t seem like an INFP, I don’t know if you are actually one. I am, he says, that’s what I got when I did the test. Ok, I say, I’m going to the test right now and pretend I’m you while I’m doing it.

I walk the perimeter of the mall. I really want to buy something but I can’t find anything to buy. Then I can’t find my way out of the mall. I get lost three times. As I am getting lost someone I know messages me to say they just matched with my ex-boyfriend on an online dating site. I am late to my job trial. The job trial is in a suburban but industrial part of town. I have to put pasta sauce into 50 plastic bags with a very large ladle and I’m not supposed to get any sauce on the sides of the bags. I am very slow and I keep checking the weight of the bag and trying to scoop up excess sauce back out of the bag with the large ladle which keeps touching the sides of the bag. I’m not a practical person. Two people are watching me and the warehouse we are in has high ceilings and no windows. One of the women watching me says, Are you just out of school? I say, No, I’m 26. She asks me what I studied at university and I say creative writing and she says Oh, well, that’s not going to lead to a job is it. She criticizes the way I am placing spinach on rice. She pulls me aside. We’re not really sure what you’re looking for, she says.

I take a taxi to the mystery shopper’s house. Did you get paid for the trial, he says, and I say no. We lie on the bed. I say my hand is too sore to give him a handjob right now sorry because of the arthritis in my hand. He says, You don’t look sick, you seem too young to be sick. I want him to be my boyfriend but he doesn’t want to commit. The mystery shopper says, Maybe you should be a teacher I think you’d be good as a teacher and additionally, you already dress like a teacher. I say I already thought about that. I applied for teacher college and a few weeks after my interview, the interviewer called me to her office and asked me what my plans were for the upcoming year. I said, Well, the teaching course?? I hope? She told me I was academically strong. But that I seemed too fragile and submissive to be a teacher. Are you sure you want to a be a teacher, she said, Why don’t we brainstorm some other possible options for you for this year?

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ART NAZIS by Marc Olmsted

Spainhammer's gone, of course.  Flattop blond muscleman Viking male stripper and street hustler who wrote for Curtains' ReSurface, grumbling about not getting paid, and mad at Crazy House Press publisher Enoch Poorboy (whom he threatened with a syringe of his own AIDS blood ) - that was the event of Floyd Lice's "ironic" Hitlerian performance rant at the Bijou, where my Japanese friend Tony Amida ran into the famous Satanist's daughter "who was surprised they let Asians in.")  I liked Mick Spainhammer and sat on Tony's back porch 1988, both of us smoking cigarettes, as he discussed the "art nazis" framed within the kitchen door at the party which included Floyd Lice in usual arrogance,  holding the hand of a razor-thin Aryan punkette in a dress with a lowcut back that showed her asscrack, that "new cleavage" that still hasn't quite caught on. Mick was still ready for his close-up, Mr. DeMille, with no sign of the ravages to come, not just to him but to our city, our day jobs, our planet.The most amazing story about Mick Spainhammer was told to me by Tony 25 years later, reminiscing about this old San Francisco that was evaporating before our eyes.  Spainhammer was fisting a trick and Spainhammer was on acid.  The trick farted and a spray of blood went all over Mick's chest.  On acid. It definitely took our hustler to another realm - staring into the Abyss, so to speak. Still, he didn't freak out or go on a bummer. That was something you had to respect.

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BANGKOK by Isabella Esser-Munera

He begins to paint.

Frescos. No. But layers. Layers.

There are faces. Clouds. He paints feverishly. Time is obsolete. His hand is limitless; it isn’t his. His body; not his. He makes love to himself in paint.


It is July 4th and he takes the four pieces that are left from the box in his drawer.  He eats them quickly and quickly lays down on his bed.

It is a mat, long and thin.

The room is bare and feels like it is opening. Like a box, as though the walls were slowly falling away by a pulled string. The color white, but something softer than that.

The man is not old. His arms are thin and at his sides. They fold over his chest. He is waiting for something.

Then he gets up, rapidly, like he knows. This is when he begins to paint.

It happens like this:

He left the room, saw two people. More accurately: two people saw him. Face bent, angled, Asian. Sharp hair, sharp features, light cutting across his shoulder. A staircase shadow, sinking down the steps. Cloaked, eclipsed. Harrowed. Gone. He was quick, he did not see them.

It is difficult not to pause, outside the door.

He pauses outside the door.

He is breathing.

What he is breathing: smoke, gasoline, food, other things. More importantly: the building, and their inhabitants. There is color. Flesh.

He walks.

Swiftly, anonymous. Like everyone else. It is fascinating. He thinks this to himself: fascinating. Escape: into, onto—others. There is color, there is flesh.

He hears it: gently, twinkling like a lullaby. Not the cart, the infinite piles of avocados. Not the man, woman, child. A pruned face giving way to a smooth one. Not the multitude of flashing eyes: lecherous, tired, pleading, bored. The twinkling, silver drums.

He sees them: ten thousand silver, pure, thin-sheet-silver metal drums. Tiny porcelain dolls, robots, playing on the drums. A long line like dominos. They are drumming their nails.

There. A window like a fish tank. It is glowing. He feels it, there, in his chest. His ribs are plastic. They are bowing out. He feels bigger. His heart overflowing. He walks into the store.

Things are slow and up close.

Or maybe no.

In the store there is color.

No flesh.

Color. Brilliant, saturated, blossoming.

He feels it in waves of texture. He breathes, dizzy. So much. The paint lined against the walls like dominos.

A small windmill outside the door spins, is singing.

It sounds like an angel.

He wants the color. He swallows it, standing there. It is not enough. He wants more. His ribs are plastic. Burst into arms. Reach out. His heart is bigger. Overflowing. Dribbling to the floor. Drooling.

He wants the color like a lover. Like water. It is not enough, standing there.

He steals the paint.

All of it.

There are no cameras. He fills his pockets, his pants, his hoodie. Mechanical. He is a robot.

He leaves the store.

He does not stop outside the door.

The flesh surrounds him. A wall.

Get through.

He moves. The flesh surrounds him, parts.

He is swelling. He is peeing. He is fine.

Back in his room.

His room is a box. He never noticed before.

Sweating, sweating. Sweaty. He peels off the navy hoodie with his thin, pale arms; the white, wet shirt. So much white. Sticky. Sweat on his forehead, clinging black hair. He lets out a moan. Unintentional. Glass is falling to the floor. Nothing breaks. There are no cameras. He breaks.

There is color.


He is in a city that does not celebrate July 4th.

He begins to paint.

He does not have a brush. He does not find it until later.

He uses his ribs. His thin arms. His tongue. His penis. He lets out a groan. Unintentional. He is masturbating, he is naked.


There is color, there is flesh, he moans.

He holds up his hands.

They shake. Some asshole called them feminine once. Against the light they are snowflakes. His face is wet. So is his body, so. He looks at them, slender, plastic bones. He wants to bite them. He doesn’t. He looks. Snowflakes.

His cheeks are high and spread across his face like dove’s wings. Dovetailing down: his sharp chin. Like his mother. The blinking eyes which close, curtain. The hair, flattened back in odd angles.

His mother with her face over the bowl of soup.

As if it were a round pocket mirror, propped up, the reflections doubled, split down the spine like a horizon line, one face on the table, one face floating above it. A stillness in the morning, with the feeble light filtering through.

It caught her eyes, set them glowing. The house filled with stillness, cold light.

Her skin was pale and as thin as moth’s wings. Raising her eyes, over the bowl, over breakfast, she was all light, he said nothing. And at the seam where her faces met, the clasp, her chin an arrow pointing in—a necklace dangled, the one his father gave her.

His father is in the United States of America, Long Beach Island now. He could be his younger brother instead of his son, if. His elder sister, glamorously sprawled on the couch with a magazine, smirking, “When you get there, what’re you going to do? Make art? Fuck men? Huh? Fuck men and get high? Go, faggot. Go like your fucking dad.” Her legs scissoring over the couch, cupping a cushion like two fingers the plush meat of a cigarrete. I can’t, fuck, those. Kinds of hips, white as the sky.  

The downturned navy hoodie, she would remember, flattened down in the middle like his nose, his sister thought, as he left. As he left he lifted it over his head with pale, thin fingers. Like a cloak, a curtain, closing, edging down, and with a hiss, sweeping the cloth over the floor.

His eyes are closed.

Making love to himself in the paint.

There are cameras. They are like mirrors. They are like eyes. His room is a box, he is sure. He is sure there are cameras. He is on a stage, there are floodlights, the opening magician’s act, he will saw himself apart, his bones will oblige.

He paints with his body, the white white room.

Finds a toothbrush.

He is going to paint a fresco.

No. But there are faces. Clouds.

He is determined, so he paints. He paints frantically. He is in a city that does not celebrate Independence. Independence Day. There is color. He makes, bleeds, cries color. There is no flesh. He paints. He will find a lover. He will come home. He will not come home. He will not find a lover. He might be crying. There is color.

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CRAWL ON ME by Shane Kowalski

A lot of times, after having disgusting sex at her slow nephew’s cabin, we’d just get very sick of each other and begin volleying hurt back and forth.

Don’t call my nephew slow, she’d say.

I have a cousin who’s slow, I’d say. It’s okay.

My nephew’s not slow though, she’d say.

Have you met him? I’d say.

She’d put her silver hair up, spit in my shoe. I’d tell her not to do that. Oh what are you going to do, she’d say. And I wouldn’t do anything.

Why am I thinking of this now?

…I think it’s because I was feeling very bored yesterday: a deep, gnawing kind of boredom that begins to change the community of blood inside me. So bored I was, in fact, that I had raced in my car away from my big house to the nearest grocery store. I thought it was going to be like the old days. I’d pick up an older lady in the bakery section, whisk her away, pack of donuts hitting the floor, and let her do disgusting things to me, and vice versa. She’d have a slow nephew, too, and we’d go to her slow nephew’s cabin and not have children that looked like us.

Nothing happened though. The grocery store was practically empty. A couple construction workers waited for meat at the deli. A little boy in tiny crutches, with his average-looking mom, was walking down an aisle. Not one older vixen! Outside, an ugly as hell employee on his smoke break asked me if I wanted to get high. I hated his stupid fucking dumb as shit red hair. I told him that, too. I was looking for something to happen. He punched me in the face—he was strong!

I stayed down on the ground for a little bit: desperately hoping somebody—anybody—might crawl on me and do sexual things to me while I lay there. Soon though the manager of the grocery store came out and said get. Just kick me a little, I said. Go, he said. Just spit on me and give me one kick! I pleaded. Get, freak, he said, or I’m calling the cops. I got up, unsatisfied, and left.

On my way home—after wondering if I might be the exotic topic of dinner conversation later in the grocery store manager’s home; his wife and children all going to bed with steamy, misty thoughts of me in their boring heads—I ended up with only my memories of when getting hurt was fun. I was older now, too. I was naïve to think there’d always be a person willing to hurt and be hurt as much I myself. Then I started to laugh! Ha ha ha! I was in a BMW, unlucky as fuck, lights all turning on around me in the evening, not caring at all that I had somehow let myself—finally, after so many years—become myself.  

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Which brings me to this afternoon, like many others this summer I hope. How I was out by Lake Merritt, out next to the giant Children’s Fairyland sign and the fountain, out on that hill right there in the sun trying to you know, like, melt into the earth. That’s my goal. To melt into the earth. And, if I can’t do that, then raise my vitamin D levels as much as I can.

And nothing really in particular happened; I guess this:

An older man pushed his bike up next to my head to get my attention while I was lying there listening to Ambulance Blues and he asked me if he could ask me a question.

“You already did,” I said.

“Hey man,” he said back to me. “What’s your problem?”

I told him I was tired and he asked me again if he could ask me a question and I said sure.

“My wife needs tampons, but we don’t have any money, so can you give me some money so my wife can get tampons?”

I was afraid he was going to roll his bike over my head or kick me in the head or do something to my head. I was lying there in my cutoff jean shorts and nothing else. Prone, you could say. He walked off, though, without saying anything else and then I felt like an asshole for being a wiseass to a man who looked like he was at least fifteen years my senior and like he did need the money and it didn’t really matter what for, so much so that he would suffer the ignominy of having to ask someone at least fifteen years younger than him for money so that he could buy his wife tampons. But it was true. I didn’t have any money on me. It was also true that I could just as easily be him if my landlord decided to evict me. I can’t afford rent in Oakland anymore.  

I rolled over and fell asleep while the last bits of Ambulance Blues played, the final duet between the harmonica and the violin—it sounded extraterrestrial, like a portal had opened up and this was the music transmitted out of it and I was following the sawing sound of the harmonica and the violin through that portal and when it finished I realized that I had fallen asleep. When I woke I was disoriented, like I had come back through the portal and forgotten where I was and hazy from the sun and it reminds me now how last summer when I was in Abiquiu for a week staying in a yurt behind the house of two Sufi mystics, a husband and a wife, my girlfriend knows there. So, one of the afternoons that I was staying there, I drove twenty minutes up the highway to Ghost Ranch and I walked through Georgia O’Keefe’s house with its viga-and-latilla ceilings and I saw a bleached out cow skull hanging above a door and outside the little square windows all the red and yellow-colored bluffs like huge walls boxing it in, except that they really couldn’t, not really, because the sky was so big and I hiked up this trail to what was called Chimney Rock and when I got there that’s what it was, a giant rock that looked like a chimney but I realized that that was not really the best part of what I could see. I could see out across the landscape, the old volcanoes, the steely flint of Cerro Pedernal and the blue, blue Abiquiu Lake and the field of white clouds scudding across the sky vividly. I stood at the ledge and I remember being afraid of it. Gales of wind blew and whipped my hair all around my head and dried out my eyes and so I turned around and hiked back down the trail, satisfied that I had seen all there was to see but also not because one could spend an eternity at a place like that and not see all the ways in which it could be seen, the changing light and colors. The sky at night the cosmos like an infinite dynamo.

When I got back to the yurt the Sufis were home so I knocked on their door and the old man greeted me. He wore a light blue kufi and a matching light blue flowing kurta. He brought me to the kitchen where there was a table made and carved from pinon, lacquered beautifully so that I could see the wavelike grain of the wood. His wife was sat there; she wore an emerald green headscarf. They offered me chai, and it was pink and they asked me what I had seen that day. I told them about the Ghost Ranch, the Cerro Pedernal, the red and yellow bluffs. They nodded and smiled.

“It is beautiful here,” the wife said.

“Very beautiful,” the husband said.

When I finished my pink tea I felt more awake, but also calm. “Thank you,” I said.

“Of course,” the husband said.

“Of course,” the wife said.

I went to my yurt around back and lay out on the bed I was so tired from hiking but awake and calm in a way that is hard to describe. I put in my ear buds and listened to Beethoven’s Ninth and I was listening to it and drifting off much in the same way that I drifted off to Ambulance Blues next to Lake Merritt this afternoon and I did and then I was back up on that ledge at Chimney Rock out at Ghost Ranch with the red and yellow cliffs and blue lake and ancient volcano and fleet of white clouds scudding vividly except that this time I was not afraid of the ledge. This time out in front of me just beyond the ledge was a door (a portal) that had opened up and the silhouettes of two human figures stood in the door (the portal) and behind them was only this bright white light, but they were serving me pink tea like the Sufi mystics and I was reaching out for it and I can’t remember if I took it or if it was already in my hands or maybe that was what I was trying to figure out in my vision and then I rose up out of it and I was back in my bed in the yurt and now it was completely dark outside.

So it was in the middle of the day on the little hill next to the Children’s Fairyland sign next to the lake with the fountain splashing when my brother Jason sent me this text about a script he’s working on about a guy who works odd jobs, one of them being an Uber driver, and is estranged from his daughter who lives in Rio (Why Rio? I wondered) and this was the text: Should I call it My Bum Heart or Uberlifter or Women Who Rejected Me or The Rain Tree in the Golden Valley. I ignored it. Instead, I decided to listen to Neil Young with Crazy Horse and I nodded off to the final fuzzy distorted bars of Cinnamon Girl and I decided that that is the greatest closing to a rock and roll song ever and when I woke up again Cowgirl in the Sand was playing and I opened my eyes and Jason was standing there above me blocking my sun wearing his Ray-Bans that make him look sort of like Jason Patric in The Lost Boys. No kidding. He has the same thick curly hair and bone structure, and it occurs to me now that they both have the same name.

“I thought you’d be here,” he said.

I squinted up at him sort of disappointed that he had come here to my spot because I was busy trying to melt into the earth as I said, but I said hey and rubbed my eyes and put on my Ray-Bans and sat up.

“So,” he began. “What are you doing?”

I wanted to say what does it look like I’m doing, but I didn’t. I told him how I was trying to waste my life out here and melt into the earth and he kind of chuckled, but I could tell he was a little concerned.

“Or at least raise my vitamin D levels.”

I couldn’t tell if he was giving me a puzzled look because he was wearing his sunglasses, but I imagined he was.

“I like the titles you sent me.” I paused. “For your script.”

“Oh yeah,” he laughed. “Which one?”

“Why not call it all three? Don’t settle for just one.”

He looked down at me and I looked up at him and then I lay back down on my back. “Can I sit down?” he asked.

“Be my guest.” Now I was happier that he’d come by but also wishing that he hadn’t. I had felt another portal coming on before he appeared but sometimes that happens. I think the moment will arrive and then it gets interrupted or it simply doesn’t and then there are other times when—Boom!—it does and everything opens up and there I am laying in the middle of it all, the sun setting and melting and I’m melting into the earth and generally wasting my life or at least trying to gather vitamin D from the final rays of sunlight and my brother Jason next to me thinking of titles for his script.         

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BEACHY COVE BEACH by Sofia Banzhaf

My father looks up the wet steps illuminated by the beaming headlights at the top of our driveway. He opens the door for me.Thanks, I say.But what I’m really saying is: thanks for not asking about who is picking me up.Thanks, in fact, for never asking me anything.Thanks.The car door is heavy because it’s a truck. I imagine myself as a tiny monkey, swinging the door open and hanging on the handle, feet off the ground. I close the door with a slam.Hi, I say.How was your evening, he says, deviating from his usual mumble, he enunciates every word.  I feel flattered.He pulls out of the driveway.It is raining and it is night.I don’t know where to put my bag because the floor is caked with dirt and the bag was expensive.Do you want to go buy some coffees, he says. I’m sorry, he says.There is never anything to do here.Newfoundland.We buy coffees.I linger in the Starbucks parking lot and he gets back in his truck. I look at the sky.Are you coming, he calls.I’m coming, I say quietly, but I’m saying it to the stars.We drive around.We drive to where he works. It is a warehouse of some kind. I don’t ask what he does at the warehouse. I’ve known him for too long, it would feel strange to ask him. On our way to the warehouse, we pass by a car parked in the middle of the street. It seems reckless to park a car in the middle of the street. A girl is sitting in the back. The inside car light is shining on her like a spotlight. She is wearing leggings that have a picture of a purple galaxy printed on them, and she is hugging her knees.When we round the bend we see a boy zipping up his pants. He is walking back to the car with the girl in it.We park and he rolls a joint in silence. The silence is okay.He starts the engine again.Did we just come here to roll, I say.I don’t want to smoke here, he says.I feel confused and also thrilled.As we leave the parking lot we pass by the couple in the car. The light is still on. The girl who was hugging her knees now seems aggravated. They are both wildly searching for something in the car. I can hear her yelling, but I can’t make out the words.Trying to find their last crack rock, he says.It seems like a fact. We were just driving to his warehouse to roll a joint in the suburbs of St. John’s, and now there is a teen couple in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night, looking for their last crack rock.

We drive around smoking. I make an effort not to get too high.I drink the milky coffee with vanilla syrup and ice cubes melting.We drive to a beach. We park so we can see the ocean from the car. I feel incredible. I feel that this is a perfect night. I feel high.Man, I feel like I’ve been a shell these past 6 years, he says.Yeah, I say. Why.I don’t know man, he says.Were you isolated, I say.Yeah, he says.It’s a good thing you broke up, then, I say.Yeah, he says.He removes the arm rest between us.I didn’t know you could do that, I say.Have you never been in a pick-up truck, he says.There is a lot of space between us.Do you want to go down to the water, I say.We walk to the rocky beach. It’s drizzling. We can see a ship on the water. It has little lights on it. I wish I was on the ship.I wish I was on the ship, I say.He is looking at the ship.I don’t, he says.I touch his wrist even though it’s far away from me. I made an effort to reach his wrist. I touch it gently and let go again.But he keeps looking at the ship.This is harder than I thought it would be.What do you think they’re doing in there right now, I say. Playing cards.Probably, he says.Playing cards and eating mashed potatoes and drinking whiskey, I suggest.Probably not drinking, he says, unsmiling.Oh, yeah, they can’t, I say. They’re working. That’s good.We walk back to the car. I’m touching his wrist.It is so quiet. Just the ocean.Your hair smells like pineapple, he says.There is a lot of space between us.I look at him, making eye contact for what feels like the first time.I’m trying to dissect my attraction. We have nothing in common. He is good looking, but none of my girlfriends agree. He has a shaved head and dark eyebrows. Since high school, he’s become slightly overweight, which I like.Can you drive me home, I say.He drives me home. He doesn’t protest or suggest anything else, even though it was a test.We park at the top of my parents’ driveway.The headlights are shining down to the house.The stairs are wet.Can you at least kiss me, he says.You kiss me, I say.He leans over and kisses me. He tastes like coffee.Fuck, he says.We keep kissing.I don’t mind it.Can we go somewhere, he says.I didn’t think you wanted to, I say.Suddenly, I’m annoyed.You are sexy, he says.I am fantasizing about never seeing him again.Come on, he says. We can do it quickly.I laugh. I try to communicate everything in the laugh.I slam the car door shut. It’s a heavy door, you need to slam it.I walk down the wet steps. I walk around the kitchen quietly so I don’t wake my parents.I microwave some noodles.

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