Coffee Break

By David Galef,

Still new in the neighborhood, trying to become a regular at the Roja Coffee Bar, nursing a double espresso to kill an hour slot every afternoon, I start to notice the way the barista scratches his cheek before every order he fills, the whuff of autumn air whenever the entrance door opens, a couple of pudgy laptop guys who seem to have made the Roja their office space, and a middle-aged woman—get this—who comes in at three every afternoon but not to buy … Continue reading

Death Comes to the CEO

By David Galef,

“I’d like to get back to you on this,” said the CEO to Death, who had walked into his office unannounced. The CEO had spent the last three years at Valu-Con climbing back from bankruptcy, but regained ground is shaky. He was already in his early seventies, having reached that half-life where all he could hope for was to feel half-decent for half the day. His life was punctuated by pills. On his desk was a list of Things to Don’t. … Continue reading

Grace

By James Joyce,

Two gentlemen who were in the lavatory at the time tried to lift him up: but he was quite helpless. He lay curled up at the foot of the stairs down which he had fallen. They succeeded in turning him over. His hat had rolled a few yards away and his clothes were smeared with the filth and ooze of the floor on which he had lain, face downwards. His eyes were closed and he breathed with a grunting noise. A thin stream of blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. … Continue reading

I Had to Catch

By Kim Chinquee,

I knocked on the door eight times. A cow bellowed on the other side of the door. I pushed the little board up over the latch. It was an old barn, gray and wooden, one my grandparents had built, or maybe even the ones before them.

My breath pushed into the cold air. I had on a hat, mittens, and the boots I wore when I fed the calves every morning before I had to catch the school bus. … Continue reading

Stone in the Bone

By Larry Smith,

They said Mary Modesto was pregnant sometime in 1955, I think it was sometime around June, they being Dr. Heath and the nurse and an obstetrician who stops by from Glens Falls on a regular basis. Mary did not have a husband but we didn’t hold that against her, we being me and most of the people in town that I know. Unlike what a lot of people say, people in towns like ours can be pretty fair-minded, and we hold our judgment and we who are not without sin do not throw first stones, especially when we like you, and everybody likes Mary or at least there’s no reason not to. … Continue reading

Two Poems

By Kelli Allen,

The verdict is honey for tea, a typewriter under your wrist

There are only two ways to look at a face: once
while we live, then the after. If I am translating
theft from Mandarin late into night, we can only guess
what language might occupy morning. This is story

time—exact syllables, masculine vowels. … Continue reading

One Lucky Guy

By J. Duncan Wiley,

Somewhere I got this idea that I was lucky. Or not an idea, more of a feeling really, like my heart was a muscled four leaf clover pumping pure gold through my veins. I’m telling you, you don’t ignore a feeling like that. You’d be dumb to. So I did what any self-possessed American would do and got myself out to Vegas. … Continue reading

Harvard Girl

By Mark Brazaitis,

“I guess it’s a little risky, coming back here,” Ariel said to her friend Becca as they sat in a booth at Wild River, a bar outside of Sherman, Ohio. In three hours, Becca would take the stage at the Metropolitan Theater downtown to perform songs off her debut album, A Butterfly in a Field of Moths. When Ariel last looked at the Billboard charts in Rolling Stone, Becca’s album was at number twenty-six, which is how old they both were.

“Risky?” Becca asked. “The show is sold out.”

“But don’t you think at least some people might have bought tickets so they could boo you?” … Continue reading

Cats at the Fire Front

By Laura Jean McKay,

My stepmother calls. She says, “Jean, you don’t know what you’re missing.”

“Missing what, Hannah?” She has woken me up. “What?”

It’s late morning, autumn. The light barely makes it through the clouds. I was up past midnight with Ed doing the furs. There’s scratch marks over my hands, my fingers swell purple. … Continue reading

Runt of the Brood

By Chad Broughman,

Clicks and chatter rang through the hollow den and beyond. A frolicking litter, to say the least. And soon, the kits began to grow into cubs, slipping outside for some close-by scouring, sometimes following Mama on her nightly excursions. They were wild and meddling, their masks dark and full.

Mama provided well, sturdy shelter in a fallen oak and a wide-range of sustenance. … Continue reading

Today I Asserted My Manhood

By Michael DeBenedictis,

Today I asserted my manhood, in gladiator arena-like battle,
And proved the superiority and evolutionary advantage
Of mankind of over a lower and inferior species…
Insects, specifically, and not just the annoying land and fly away kind. … Continue reading