IN THE ELEVATOR, BITE ME, AND UGLY
"The South African junkie/bites my breasts/with his broken teeth./He refuses to believe the bruises/are from him./I love him in exact proportion/to his disdain." Read these three poems by Christine Hamm.
AN EXCERPT FROM FAST EDDIE, KING OF THE BEES
"A rat had found the old lobster trap washed up beneath the dilapidated docks of Inner Harbor. I climbed in. Shep padlocked the top and draped the sheet back over the crate. Buckles clinking, bars rattling, the struggle began. 'No way the wound-up wonder child can get out of this one!' A couple of rat assistants hauled the whole contraption over to the edge of the Frog Pond and heaved me in. Portentous bubbles rumbled up from turgid turquoise depths. The Frog Pond's only a few feet deep, but as Shep would say, forebodingly, 'It only takes a teaspoon.'" By Robert Arellano.
"Mother, like a wild animal, jumped onto the counter top, over the register she went, her followers did the same. They stormed the kitchen and like lunatics, they ravaged whatever food they could. Mother laughed as she stuffed her mouth with French fries. They appeared to be a group of circus clowns gone mad." By Kim Rivera.
"The man who had been castrated was now being spoken of as a good man who had never harmed anyone, and that he should be elevated to the status of sainthood if only to honor his memory and to bring closure to this most tragic of events. The priest of course was opposed to this. This must be left to Rome's discretion, he argued. They could not take this matter into their own hands. It was a sacrilege. The villagers decided that the priest must be hanged as well. So, after the girl and her parents were stoned to death, the priest was taken from his sanctuary and hung from the tallest tree in the village square." J. L. Navarro brings us a brilliant parable on the perils of shame, and the price of "peace".
MY EUROPE: A SHORT HISTORY
"A few years later D.T. returned to Serbia in order to take part in the two Balkan and one world war. Between the two world wars he was the owner of a very profitable bank in Sabac. He loved boasting and therefore claimed to have been one of the richest men in Serbia. Or that he was the first to bring radio set to Serbia. On the Second World War eve he went bankrupt and become broke. Later he used to say: 'When communists came to power I had nothing, so they could take nothing from me.'" By Dusan Velickovic.
LOST AND FOUND
"JR lit a fresh cigarette. This guy was great. If he was any more remote, he'd need batteries. 'To be honest, I am finding this whole thing very strange….I feel like I don't exist, or have never existed. No one around here knows me, no one knows anything about me. I could be an escaped lunatic, or an axe-murderer, or a serial killer…'" By Tracy Jenkins.
"Don't give me that wounded look. Speak evil, a thousand arrows fall from my heart./ Lay down and listen to the storm move the pictures tacked to the wall. An attempt to escape on wings dried and cracked." Wayne Wolfson explores the unnamed spaces between the known territories of human emotions: Read Rain Suite.
"The next thing you know, you've got the school whore in the back of the family mini-van near a deserted construction sight, licking vodka and orange juice from each other's naked bodies." By Nathan Leslie.
BENEATH THE RAIN
"Livonia stood in the doorway, looking shy and scared. Her finger twisted around a lock of her hair and she chewed her lower lip. "I was here visiting Taylor the other day and I think I left my earring in his room. May I go look?" Clearly telling the older woman this was much easier and made more sense than telling her the truth: that she had a feeling that Taylor was gone, that she'd never see him again and that the very thought made her sick to her stomach. She just needed to breath him in one last time - one last lingering scent of him." By Jennifer Fields.
"But I was not beneath them when they landed. I had backflipped onto a tabletop, the one that belonged to the couple that had nothing to say to one another. I promptly called each of them an obscene word, then kicked in their faces with my steel-toed boots and knocked them onto the floor (once a battle in the restaurant starts, anything goes and you can let anybody know what you really think of them, whether they threaten you with their mouths and fists or, in the case of these two degenerates, with their ennui-ridden existences)." Take a walk through the quiet side of town with D. Harlan Wilson's Restaurant.
"Page five of the pamphlet, which was printed with public subsidy at public pressure, reads: The Ghettos in your city have been color coordinated according to risk factor. Pine-green denotes a ghetto chased with public works, such as libraries and courthouses. The ghetto and the public works exist together uneasily, but are the safest combination." Read Joe Hirsch's excellent Instant Ghetto.
THE SNAPPING SOUND OF SELF-PITY: A MUMMERY
"How did these things turn sour, he wondered, as he pulled the harness over his thighs and shoulders. Love grown so strong at midnight, withering away like his erection in its lambskin sheath, hunched over her the first time around, love dead as he woke to the dawn light, her faded green jailhouse tattoo, and the ripples of fat on her ass." By Rusty Barnes.
"And by the afternoon they could see that the fog had been driven off by fierce winds driving in from the North, cold and wild forces which shook out the becalmed stillness of the golden fog like waking a dream. By evening they could see the sky, the cumulus clouds clear as cream, even the moon again, the stars. They crawled to the door and stood under the night sky breathing the air." By Colin Sex.
ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
"Why would you die?" Len was drowning in his dream already, and she drew him out by his receding hair." By Mark Budman.
MY FATHER THE VAMPIRE
"That would explain her dad’s lifeless complexion and his overgrown stubble. Was he waking up in the middle of the night to suck the blood out of the neighbours? Sumitra's Grandmother was just the other day saying that she hadn't seen poor old Mrs Moby for a while. Sumitra pondered for a moment, and then carried on reading." Read this delightful tale by Bindu and see what children see.
"Her cleanliness was for another place and circumstance, for another man... I received the remainder, the slime and fuck. There was a violence to her affection that could only blossom in the indifferent turns of flesh, a spiteful collapse into one another as we rolled in blood." By Jason DeBoer.
BOXY AN STAR (PART I)
"She is mine an we are called Star an me. We feel damn dead good together an the bag feels damn dead good on us. We are under it. This big bag of pills. It is a jumbo big bag on us. Feelin good on us. An us feelin damn dead good under it. Us layin together. Me an Star." Read our first extract from Daren King's Boxy an Star which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and reached the top ten contenders for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize.
"The inevitability a depressed writer would one day make her his cash-cow with a dramatic retelling was terrifically great. She didn't like heights or cold weather, but at least a story ran through it." By Susannah Breslin.
ECOSYSTEM DISCOVERED IN SAATCHI'S POCKET
"There's a blonde woman too, with the ghost of a black eye. She's almost managed to incorporate the bruise into a makeup job that's simultaneously subtle and theatrical. She’s obviously thinking Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner, which just shows how deluded people can be. She doesn't speak, doesn’t need to because Gary already knows what her voice is like; sheared off and sharpened by expensive education then deliberately worn smooth again by St Martin's or drama school. She doesn't look the sort to accept a black eye without giving something in return." Alistair Gentry displays the life and times of a modern day rock star.
"Forgive me if I'm wrong, but if you've never taken a chance at happiness you have no clue as to what happiness is. The loud music and Francesca's arms, the sangria on a Sunday afternoon in the Haight, the feeling that whatever I was and all I despised was ebbing away. Away." By Kevin McGowin.
ME AND YOU
"In the street the light makes me squint and sweat/ but in it you’re already beginning to uncurl " By Andrew Shelley.
"There was a ton of blood, but I expected that. It was a messy, thankless job, but someday I knew I’d be rewarded. This flabby, weak-willed bitch wasn’t the first and she wouldn’t be the last. There were plenty as pitiful as she." By Landon Dixon.
"But Pego is busy farting in short bursts, each emission accompanied by an “Ole!”. Felipe sighs as he clatters trays together, what else can he expect – Pego is from the mountains, olives in a shitty bedsit in Edgware Road with his wife, has done so for thirteen years, sending money home to his son-in-law to put into the pig farm he will retire to, still farting,. Still laughing. As he empties half-eaten Cambridge Creams into a huge, stinking bin, he starts to think of his own home town, Lisbon, and the fatigue seems to weigh heavier." By Duncan Ellis.
THE ENIGMA OF RUNNERS. THE STRANGENESS OF DAMS
"The last time Karlson saw the Runner was as he stood facing the spillway of the Howden Dam . Georgeston was standing with him, her face tanned and serene as she gazed out into the blue of the day through her shades. Karlson knew that she too had a strange relationship with the dams and in his heart felt that she would continue his work. In this he was wrong." By Carter Boyle.
"Princess Ewe had the lake built as a home for her pet crocodile. Any local fisherman who fell victim to this beloved pet would have his family sued afterwards, for interfering with the croc's carefully planned diet. It is extremely unlikely that the Princess's intended meals were any more nutritious for her pet, but she relied completely on all of her advisors' opinions. Her staff lived in constant fear for their lives." By David Fischer.
THREE NEW POEMS
"Somewhere in a foreign city/a woman is sitting reading,/shaking her head at what she finds./Maybe a bottle of wine is open,/maybe a cat is on her lap/and gypsy jazz is playing." Exclusive to 3am, top Irish poet Matthew Sweeney publishes three new poems - And, A Woman Staying In, and Siege.
THE THING WITH CHICK IS
"The cop drew a mini flashlight about the size of a nice felt pen. He stood close before Chick. Chick could smell the sweetness of milk, the tang of sweat. Smartass kid must be new to this, he thought. The cop blinked, a little longer than usual. Chick knew that look from pro athletes. The cop was clearing his thoughts. Game face." Read Stephen F. Anderson's The Thing With Chick.
ICELAND: AN EXCERPT FROM ON BRIGHTEST DAYS
"I met some high fashion people and they loved my look. They paid me a lot of money to model. There were parties every night and we went to these cool clubs for dancing, gambling and sex shows. At a party at my hotel, a producer offered me a part in a James Bond film that they were shooting on the Riviera. I was only in two scenes, but they were high profile." Read Iceland, an excerpt from Gary Beck's On Brightest Days.
WAITING WITH ALEXANDRIA FOR HER MOM
"I didn't take the bus to Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania and sit with Alexandria in a booth at Ruby Red's for nothing." By Frank Matagrano.
LOBOS, BULLDOG WRISTBAND
"She is all equation,/A trained observer w/o pretense” By Matt Wascovich.
"Reichmann shook his head, took himself down into the experiment chambers of the cellars again just to keep in tune with where these notes were coming from, confused by the unbelievable mess of their confessions. It was then that he saw it for the first time, a quick jerky movement at the barred window, something small moving across the light-cube for a split second, a shadow- figure which had for just that moment looked upon him with the green eyes of a terrible yearning." Retro returns to 3am with authority.
"Pathetic, really, when you thought about them. Like the rats that scurried beneath the docks, they hustled from truck to truck, a string of tawdry angels with rainbow hair, crusted makeup, and hopeless eyes. Some were slack mouthed, gap-toothed, sometimes bruised from the last customer. Their bodies were drug-shriveled or wide hipped with flesh as flaccid as he was before he paid the money and they did their dance. It was another ritual of the road, as dull as the face of the woman now peering through his window." By Gina Gallo.
"I see sick people. I see them all the time. They're everywhere, all around me, retching and choking and heaving up the foul contents of their traumatised stomachs." Too much junk food can make a good story: read Ben Pykett's Sick Sense.
"Klump, who was a sometime security guard, used an old pair of handcuffs to shackle Edith to the cook-stove in their room on Friday nights while he went out drinking. With the help of the fatback grease she kept on the stove she usually slipped out of them and joined us on the fire escape where we talked the nights away. In the winter my mom made vanilla snow cream which Edith loved. Mom even gave her the family recipe." Read this compelling tale by Harold W. Bowman.
THE PINK BALLOON CAPER
"The balloon showed bright pink under the circus lights. Down below in the circus ring to the left was the lion's cage and Paulo knew Fergie's high-powered rifle was focused directly on the lock. All Paulo had to do was let go of the large pink balloon and that would be the signal." Who said there's easy money to be made in the circus business? Read Tony Vallecillo's The Pink Balloon Caper.
"Wheeling myself out of the limousine and through the maze of the hotel casino proves slightly easier. I have taken the stiletto sandals off and I hold them high by their straps in my upraised arm. With drunken insistence, I try to steer James over to the blackjack tables. I tell him I want to gamble. Now." By Katherine Darnell.
"She walks with a certain paper-thin panache to the pool table, which is a homage to too much Bud and too many cigarettes. The felt is a collage of Rorschach-like spots. In fact, word is, they hire the bartenders by administering a Rorschach test - most see Angelina Jolie's tonsils - whatever that means." Read Brandy Christensen's hot Molly Ringworm.
THE TYRANNY OF CLOCKS
"They work me hard underneath the burning heat of an uncaring sun, until my legs buckle with weakness. Then, they proceed to beat me until I struggle to get on my feet. When I do, they kick them out from under me, to prove a point." By Jordan Leigh.
ONCE SCREAMED TO THE FLAG WAVING DRUNKS AT THE VETS BAR, LATE IN THE EVENING
"Fifty years now and they come at me, from Chicago, Crown Point, Indiana, by phone from Las Vegas, from a hill outside Pittsburgh or Bethlehem, PA. I tell them how it happened, long after parting, one night when I was in a bar, thinking of them all." One for the brothers in arms: read Tom Sheehan's Once screamed to the Flag-waving Drunks...
"She smelled of cloves, sweat and sickness. I was going to write while she painted. We would take turns cooking for each other." Drifting days, half-hearted artistic vacations: unnamed, sad colours shimmer in Wayne Wolfson's Two Women.
"Garik thinks to himself that he needs to get some fuses and a little time bomb from the depot store because there’s last prayer playing on radio and is shed-world out there in bright sun. He says he needs to blow the stuff away. He says this to noone but the shadows he himself drags unwillingly along. The whole home town dump’s on brink, red alert." By Angharad Myfanwy Catherwood.
WHEN I'M 70
"I have clogged toilets in all three American time zones. By my girlfriend’s nineteenth birthday, I was spending too much time on the commode. These were wrenching bowel movements, often consuming three-quarters of an hour. If present trends continue, by the time I reach seventy, I will have time for little else." Read Daniel Greenstone's sanitary adventures in When I'm Seventy.
"The ole' ranch sure ain't what it was since we got the family business runnin'. Lots o money now, just no time. And no privacy, either. I hate these stupid little troubles in life that you just don't have the time for. They eat at you. Shoulda had the contractors burn the fuckin thing down when they built the new house last year. Need a new fence too. Too many gawkers trespassin'." Don Pike shows us just how human they can be.
THE VASTNESS, PARTS 1 & 2
"Legs broken and one arm missing, he was bleeding from the head but alive so alive! He could smell the onset of spring, even from his worm's-eye-view. There was scattered debris, there were detached, nameless limbs scattered about-" By Joshua Levy.
THE IMBECILE AND THE PENITENT
"At the time of this writing, I have yet to meet my brother wife. It was a shotgun wedding and I didn't have the time or the money to get to Louisiana to see the wedding. But from what I gather, she is from that witless, classless and ambitionless section of society that is referred to in the slang 'white-trash'." The joys of brotherhood are well illustrated in Ivan Whitte's The Imbecile and the Penitent.
":her acidHUMANIX_different vital=plug the hydromaniac eyeball made of retro-ADAM is streamed----I download the softwarable BDSM circuit of her cadaver with the crazy brain of the techno-junkies' reptilian form that captures the chemical quantum decay of dogs to the parasite insanity medium of the spiral mechanism of the human body pill that was infected HIV that accelerates." By Kenji Siratori.
DOWN THE WIND
"‘From here what does she look like?’ said the stranger who now looked away from her and stared over at the Complex building. She obeyed the force of that look and stared over at it too with just a blank Overwhelm Feel in her and Nought else. Blank. Overwhelm." By Retro.
"She pressed herself to the rough ground in a cache dread and impossible desire. Here were two of the weirdings about which she had heard so much in mere abstract and low-down whisper - nothing more - and they were trapdoors to her Most Beautiful Figurines (MBF) She had never seen better, more, they were yum yum - the Most. She had never considered such a life-form possible. Nothing had prepared her for such sights." By Selima Kyle.
"The county would drive by real slow with someone hanging out the window of their truck yelling to her through a bullhorn. Then they’d turn around and yell going from the other way. Bertrand said you couldn’t hear a word of it cause of all the eighteen-wheelers hauling past. Never did see anyone set foot near her fence to talk about it. Even the post office stayed clear of her place. I don’t guess she had no one to send her any letters. After a while, the county must have give up on it cause they stopped driving by." By D. Creason Bartlett.
THE NEW BOHEMIANS
"They are dizzy with decadence, with guitar notes or brush strokes or poetry, with Cosmos or bourbon or Chartreuse or Burgundy, each to his or her own. They are dancing and laughing and making plans they are forgetting to make time for." By Utahna Faith.
THE COUNTESS OF MONTE CRISTO
"Feeling dazed and semi-lethargised, you have oral sex with Xandra Virago on the floor of your hotel bathroom. Unclothed, she reminds you of Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief. 'I come from a place where inspiration, sight and meaning are one,' she says. 'A place where you carry your experiences with you, on your head like your hair, or on your back like a small rucksack.' 3am is privileged to introduce HP Tinker, one of the best young writers around.
"Apparently, two of the tourists are fighting in the dark. They’re wrestling on the floor of the cave. Two other women, I guess they’re the wives of the two tourists, are huddled together in the corner of the clearing. One of the men is sitting on top of the other one. The man on top has his hands around the other man’s throat!" By Alexander Munkachy.
THE BAG THAT BECAME HER
"They gathered around her touching the silky surface of the bag and running their fingers along the strap. Azure smiled with pleasure her spirit floating on a pillow cloud. The elation she felt at that moment exceeded anything she had ever experienced. Overwhelmed by the warmth that filled her from head to toe, she wanted it to last forever and never release the energy their palatable words and sensuous touches gave her." Anna Zeffreys shows us just what a good bag can cost.
"You see, in terms of those guns I had a vision. I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory. I guess it could be called a "political statement." To go to my stock brokerage firm completely armed and just start blasting. It'd be my way of saying to hell with this trans-national corporate system that degrades everything and everybody, including itself." Read Tony Vallecillo's The Performer, a 3am exclusive.
THE RAIN GAME
"Our generation is full of spoiled kids who have nothing to fight for, nothing to live for, and nothing to do but sit around and imagine some great pain. Then we take Prozac to get through all this imagined pain and depression, which is probably simple boredom. I've endured real pain. I'm not compelled to tell anyone about it though. Otherwise, I might be considered another bored youth from a nothing city with a nothing frown. One night stand fiends repent. Read Shawna Chandler's The Rain Game.
THE IRON BOX
"Eventually, I caught on that the bartender, Carl, had a system worked out for alerting patrons to Claggett's moods. Carl would glance at him, smile and nod to you if your presence was welcome. Or he'd frown and roll his eyes if Claggett wasn't holding court that day. And if Carl raised his eyebrows while shaking his head, it meant there was no telling how you'd be received." By Michael Gates.
LOST AND FOUND
"He stood looking down over the edge of the harbour wall and saw down below the bullheaded obstinacy of water. The salt rose onto his lips. He wondered if his sister had been eaten by the sea. The idea stayed with him for a while. The idea of the sea having dinner almost made him laugh but there was a sincere dementia to him by this time. He shivered at the thought of cannibal feastings. He had heard terrible stories. He tried to calculate the difficulty of falling into the sea by accident. The wall was quite high. The sister would have had to have climbed on to the wall and then slipped over the other side. He considered this unlikely. His little sister knew the dangers of the waters. She would avoid such tomfoolery whilst lost. She would be too abroad to have been distracted in such a homely way. She was at heart a serious little girl." By Ibn Khaldoun.
THE DOLL ON THE BEACH
"‘It can’t never drown can it? After all, its wood innit? Fucking wood. So it can hardly drown you see? And I left it there to just drift away and it come back. Its always coming back to me these days. It's grown up by now. It can know things now,’ she said. Her hands were stiff and cold like my judgement. She seemed so terrified, her lips were miracles of lattice work, the skin all broken and shattered." By Carter Boyle.
"Engulfed in the moment, he hops over to Baillie to muse aloud at the strangeness of the end-time crock-out atmosphere viz those monsters in the alleys. ‘They’re remnants already. Like left-overs of a meal no one even finished cooking yet. I had a young thought once, how there’s something a little mad about the way when an author dies the books don’t. Free-floating thoughts, existing in a ghost world. That’s what I call pure. You feel ashamed at being embodied. It sent shivers down my spine when it first came to me, though now of course its just banal, three dimensional acknowledgement.’" By Angharad Myfanwy Catherwood.
"And all he thought was that / Now he would finally be / Able to watch a first class / Serial week after week." By William Levy, the Talmudic Wizard of Amsterdam.
MALICE BECOMES HER
"Johnson sat whistling between his teeth to bluegrass music on the AM radio, its reception fuzzy with approaching dusk. He had nagging doubts. The ruby glass slippers were the real deal, he told himself. Laura had a Xerox of their provenance -- a typewritten correspondence signed by Judy Garland thanking the shoe manufacturer for making her rich and famous. Miserable came knocking later. Dorothy’s ruby glass slippers from The Wizard of Oz were priceless icons, according to Laura’s Hollywood client." by Ed Lynskey.
"We both / Knew that no sky ever actually looked / Like Grien's, that it just couldn't really / Ever have been so blue, but, as ever, / Then as before, we were too alive to care." Read The Hand of God, Andromeda Chained to the Rock, Gates of Paradise, Panegyric Elegy For a Vanquished Pineapple" and "Young Girl, and Death" by Ernest Hilbert.
CHEMICAL STUBB AND THE REMORSELESS ENIGMA OF THE CITY OF THE PLAIN
"He woke with the sound of burning, and the smell of charred wood and stone. He was filled with disgust and fear. Some manner of dying is like that. He felt he had just been taken through an extraordinary experience. It was a multiple death. He could hardly dare to rest his head afterwards. His face was drawn of its blood and there was a deep anguish in everything he thought. He could hardly speak at all. He could never speak of it." By Selima Kyle.
SANTEUIL’S GOOD WORD
"When he eventually fell into a deep sleep he had terrible dreams. The nightmares were always of a brightly lit room full of meat and chains and blood. There was always the sound of some poor and damaged person panting and howling. There were always cries of terror. Something was always being hit but all he saw were purple clots of shadow. There were strange animals, frog like things with human arms, which were forever creeping about just away from the centre of the room. He could never make out distinct outlines of just what or who was in the room except for these few things. And each time he dreamed the cries seemed to be more insistent and the sense of horror and grim brutality was more distinct.........." By Retro.
"This is a humorous short story of fiction, based on life in my family, for this upcoming Holiday season." By Hilary Flanery
"On my way back down I thought that she had been afraid. I could hear my shoes again and where they met the trousers I could feel my ankles. The car in the street was gone." By Duncan White.
"The woman suddenly fumbled in her cracked leather handbag and brought out two photos. “Josephine and Luc,” she said, with a heavy accent that surprised me and momentarily disguised the names. She handed me the photos. “Josephine is eight and Luc is six.” I looked at the photos and then handed them to Jake. I looked hard, wondering for a moment if it was possible that I might have seen them even though I knew I couldn’t have done. In a place like Alexandria you noticed foreigners when you saw them in the street and I was certain I hadn’t seen any foreign children while I’d been there. As the reality of what this woman was saying sank in I wished I had seen them. Jake shook his head and handed them back to the woman, saying something in French that I couldn’t follow. " By Peter Munford.
"With great concentration, Carl inserted the photographs and report in the envelope and clasped it shut. 'They'll be finished by Friday,' he managed. 'I'll e-mail them to you.'" By Jack Strange.
AN ACCOUNTABLE DEATH PART I
"An older professor, head of the accounting department at a local Boston college, is murdered in a men's room at the college. He has been a widower for fifteen years and for all those years has walked around Franklin, Maine every chance he could, since his wife's death by hit-and-run car, probing the earth with a steel rod. He was the person who hired private detective Harry Krisman's girlfriend, Maxine, into his college accounting department as an associate professor." By Tom Sheehan.
A MEASURE OF DIGNITY (REFLECTIONS OF A SPIRIT)
"Every breath you take has the potential to be your last. Never thought about it like that, did you? Every wisp of air you take in is a damn underachiever, never quite living up to its destiny." By Jordan J. Vezina.
"I picked up speed to show Jerry I wasn’t scared. As I swung around, my stomach rippled. I stopped spinning but the grass around the pole kept moving. I clung to the rod with both hands and put my head down towards the ground. I imagined throwing up right there at the flagpole." By Laura Wiltse.
UGLY GREEN BUG
"They offered to take me home, but I refused. I was used to that, too. In a nearby phone booth, I called for a cab. I stood there thinking. It was then that I realized why it had bothered me so--that poor ugly bug was me. I knew what I had to do. He must know what it felt like. I did. He must be made to understand." By Stephanie Savage.
"She turned quickly, sending plates and tray raining down on a cluster of startled customers. No one stood behind her. She apologized repeatedly, eagerly scraping pasta from the floor. The patrons stared down at her, and at each other: the mirrors stared down at all of them, and glinted their satisfaction." By Nitro.
THE CROOKEDNESS OF BEING
"I turned towards the lady. She was so very familiar, I felt as if we were both from another planet, and everyone else, the vignette of a Christmas Eve on the Waterfront. Funny, none of them were in the least bit concerned about my proclamation of death. Perhaps they hadn't heard." By Darren Speegle.
BILL BURROUGHS, SHOOTING HIS WIFE IN THE HEAD
"I am waiting, laughing and drinking a glass of white wine. The sun is as bright as bleach, and the wine is so cold, I don't remember tasting it. I am watching the thin arm of a girl in a yellow sundress cross the table; she is barehandedly sweeping the water ring from her glass onto the ground. The shot is an explosion no one was prepared for. Drinks are spilled, to put it one way. Everyone believes for a moment that it is they who have been shot." By John Potts.
"Edgar made me promise not to tell Jim about the pills, because Jim is a pot fiend and he'd be any other kind of drug fiend if he had access to it, so Edgar didn't even want to entice Jim. "He's weak," Edgar said to me one night as we were floating on our backs in the heated pool on Montgomery Lane. Jim was lying on the grass beside the pool, smoking the remains of a joint that he had found in the pocket of his shorts. "He'll always be weak," Edgar went on, "and it'll be our responsibility, for the rest of our lives, to look after his sorry ass." By Andrew Bomback.
"'Repression: A process by which unacceptable desires or impulses are excluded from conscdiousness and left to operate in the unconscious.' Mickey blinked and went to his father's bedroom." By Neil Smith.
THE CRICKET WAR
"She was a city girl through and through and had no ears when it came to defending vermin. She said a cricket was just a noisy cockroach, just a 'dumb horny bug' that wouldn¹t shut up. . . . No sir, no way could she sleep with all that chirping going on; then to prove her point she wouldn't go to bed. She drank coffee and smoked my father's cigarettes and she paced between the couch and the TV." By Bob Thurber.
NUMBER 32 AND COUNTING
"I felt if I looked up, raised my eyes ever so slightly, she could see right through me. That this time, I was tired of being dumped. That this time she was tired of dumping me. I bit the edge of the bed, hard. I closed my eyes. Tight, tighter. I tried to tear the label from the mattress with my teeth, but only managed to chew on the plastic, manufacturer warnings and legal type staining my teeth black. I gnawed, hungrily. Saliva and plastic. Warm, wet, moist fabric. Her and I, cold, empty -- full of disdain." By Felicia Sullivan.
"Something was falling from the sky just above his head. As the waitress with the curly red hair laid the Mayson menu on his table, the dark haired man suddenly felt a lack of reality. A lone cigarette was sending up a plump of smoke from the middle of the glass table. His brown eyes looked through the smoke at the menu. The word MAYSON appeared on it, but nothing else. Looking up, he saw the waitress was gone." By Steve Cartwright.
"You know your life's in a rut when your bartender gets predictable, he told himself. 'Torbin.' The strident voice cut through the smoky air. As soon as her angry anti-greeting reached his ears, Torbin realized that Sunny had ignored Frederick. He sat up. Frederick wasn't used to being ignored. He huffed indignantly on his Red. Said nothing.He was already ambling away from Torbin, attempting to ferret out a glass that hadn't been polished. As Frederick went, Torbin caught his amused raised-eyebrows expression and felt hotly defeated the skinner little greaser was going to hear every word, and caw relentlessly about it later." By K Wilson James.
THE FULL BRAZILIAN
"I'm not supposed to know how you get beautiful, I'm supposed to just enjoy it. I'm certainly not supposed to take part in it." By Laura Cutler.
"Up ahead some children of different sizes were screaming and slapping the water with joy, jumping and doing backflips. When I got closer I saw that they were celebrating a capture: a small whale, wrapped up in nylon lines and stuck all over with sticks and plastic toys. They were torturing it. I saw the whale's half open, bleeding eye, and decided it was still alive. As I ran up and began undoing the webbing I suddenly found myself, along with the whale, in deep water, as if the tide had come instantly. Taking a breath and then diving under I continued my attempts to free the suffering animal. The water was clear, like pool water, and I could see everything as I worked. But I was slow, or the animal was too far gone and unable or unwilling to move or inflate the air bladders that it uses for buoyancy control. It sank to the bottom.." By David Maizenberg.
YOUR BODY, MY PRISON
"When I am with you; whether caressing your velveteen cheek or kissing your ruby lips; my memories evaporate into aether and fluid time becomes dissolute, unreal. All concepts of the past and future are unraveled, impacted into nothing but the present moment. Gravity holds no bearing there either, save for that of my body pressed to yours. Together in this place we are interwoven, like some deranged Moebius strip, a symbol of the infinite. Blacker than dark matter and heavier than the sun." By Jordon Leigh.
"When he doesn't crawl out of bed, the world doesn't stop. Sometimes after work his uncle takes Carl to his house in the suburbs, and Carl plays poker with his uncle's group. Carl and three old farts from AA drinking seltzers and smoking discounts. Carl winning close-mouthed, doing nothing to piss anybody off quietly cleaning them out. His uncle puts a bony arm around him and says, "Carl you're a real third-shelf kind of guy." By Evan Reminick.
"The Santa Fe Flyer was thirty minutes out of downtown Los Angeles, heading east on a cross-country run. A hazy June twilight painted the landscape black and gray, with flashes of brilliant yet frantic light spilling from the freeways. Streaming by steadily were the loading docks for an endless conglomeration of warehouses and factories" By Charles Shea LeMone.
THE AMAZING GLOWFISH AND OTHER AQUATIC ABNORMALITIES
"My sport was fishing. I was not physically endowed to handle football or basketball. Fishing didn't care what size you were or your prowess. I gave the sport up for several years, but decided to try it again after starting work at a large Texas newspaper. Several of my colleagues were into it and spoke of their conquests." By Delo White.
"Jesse set his chair back into an upright position, interrupting Angel in mid-braid of his short, stubby blond ponytail. He lazily stood up, staring-down the kids in the rest of the classroom, the wide bottoms of his baggy pants dragging across the floor as he walked up to the desk of his English teacher, Mr. Daniels." By Jason Duke.
MATCH-STICK MAN, A CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
"Secretly, I called him Match-Stick Man, his body slender as a aslaping, his arms and legs like thin iron rods. When he blinked, lizard-like, his lids shot back, eyes nearly popping from their sockets. I had known him for a very, very long time. Frightened, he often wondered if he had no soul. No one aside me had ever claimed him." By Rich Logsdon.
"Things happen that you don't understand. And unless they touch you in some individual way, have an impact on your existence, they remain little more than casual, momentary disturbances, isolated fragments without connection, without meaning within the context of the world in which you live." By Ryan Miller.
PROOFS AND NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND
"Does anybody really know what time it is? It was early Thursday morning in the city's Technical District. The early bird commuters, all waiting for the 5:45, already filled the chilly underground subway. Most, cheerfully alert, sat and stood at various places on the platform, some of them aching to turn to page two of their romance novels or thrillers, some chatting, others musing, or humming the latest My Rock hits, while a few others struggled with the effect that the whoosh sound coming from trains in the distance had on them. It was like a soporific for those few, inducing somnolence that hung around their heads like invisible clouds." By Robert Bretts.
THE ALL-AMERICAN GRILL TEAM
"Scowling, Josh pitched the store manager's Buffy St. Marie tape to clear a spot for his ashtray. True to form, the break room was a mess. Plastic trays smeared with catsup were strewn on the 8-track tape player and shag carpet. Sandwich wrappers and soiled napkins along with Styrofoam coffee cups spilled over in the trash receptacles. A red hairnet dangled from the swag lamp. Chocolate and boysenberry syrup jugs were stacked to the wahzoo. He lounged back, propped up his feet. Close was midnight. What was more, Friday night meant Greyhounds as well as the post-football game stampede." By Ed Lynskey.
"Leviathan snores, observing listener. I was on a beach. The sunning bodies were so crowded in. The sea went on forever and purred with soft water roars; infinite and green, serene and blue. Cocobuttered breasts sloping towards armpits. Sunglasses shining back the sun. Kids digging in the sand, burying siblings like cats do turds." By Sergio Ignacio Vasquez.
"The dogs were all filled with air then they exploded. Someone's doing these things. They were not accidents. -You want an account?" By Richard Marshall.
THE VIEW OF MY BROTHER'S PROFILE IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR
"I learned that I loved my brother by dreaming of him. Before then, I didn't know what I felt. He was just there, he was just my brother and I had no say in the matter. But while I was still in elementary school, I would on occasion have dreams in which my brother had died, or been lost, or was somehow no longer with us. And unlike any other dream I have had of loss or sadness or death, the absence of my brother has been the only one in which I felt profoundly empty, waking with a need to assure myself he is still part of the universe. After these dreams I sometimes crept into his bedroom just to prove he was breathing. He was the first person to accept my presence in the world as a given - to assume that I belonged simply because I was there when he showed up" By Randee Dawn.
STARS ON THE CEILING
"If someone were to see Dwight in the back of the bar, hoisting her up out of her chair, stumbling drunk with his tongue in her mouth, they would probably just laugh or be sick. It was funny to watch a drunk man make out with a fifty-something woman in a wheelchair. It was funny to watch Dwight pull her to her feet, her knees bowing and shaking like a newborn fawn, so they could dance cheek to cheek by themselves next to the dance floor during the slow songs. The old folks just sit at the bar, sip on their whiskey and shake their heads. What was it about this scene?" By Mike Mellish.
"Defloration and moody blooms of volume. My ithyphallic Bacchanalian bow. My ebony fingerboard, my ebony odalisque. My houri.My houri. This lickerishness: blond melon, green fig, supple forgiving rosetta. Violonomania. For an intimate sound, use inner strings. Short, fast, sadistic laughter. Long, drawn, loving moans. My doxy, my love, my houri, my death." By David Barringer.
"Nobody ever says, 'I want to be Harvey Keitel in Taxi Driver when I grow up.' Of course, when you're in the broad vicinity of being eight or ten, you've probably never seen even one Scorsese flick, and the world hasn't rolled over and shown you its dark underbelly, not yet." By Jordan J. Vezina.
"He's just another guy. He could be anyone: Joe Blow, literally. My window
inches down. I materialize as he looks up. We trade smiles. He looks straight
and restless, with a healthy dose of anger. I wonder what's his story. In his
brown slash blue slash gray eyes I invent ours." By Travis Jon Mader.
"We're making a fucking stand. That's why. Things change when they don't
have to, and I'm sick of it. Why can't things just stop changing?" By
up-and-coming English author Stephen Lucas.
"She found her father up in the Presidential Suite. Mandy had always found it
easier to talk to him rather than her mother, who would fall apart like a wet
paper towel if Mandy even scraped her knee. She still hadn1t told her mother
about the fake ID incident." By Kaley Noonan and Sarah Ruddy.
"One afternoon when Kevin had wandered groggily into her bedroom -- mistaking it for the bathroom, he explained later -- to find Jade busy in between the legs of an architect's wife while the architect looked on, Jade had rather expected Kevin to act a little shocked." By Emma Kaufmann.
"Satan, the cat, was sitting between me and her, as quiet as a statue on its hind legs, and staring right down at me. Cats' eyes are notoriously inspirational_a T.S. Eliot, a Charles Baudelaire, even the downest-to-earth James Joyce will tell you as much_they convey anything your paranoia urges." See why this particular tomcat inspired Brian Valès.
"The steady click-clack, click-clack of high heels tapping tiles and Matt - the anus'- Coreamus's shit-eating grin faded slowly into a grimacing Sandra Willimus, stripped naked and sweating on top of her desk, writhing underneath John, her educated, roving hands making him squeal with desire, her tongue choking off his moans, her high heels on and her dull-colored ankle-length floral printed dress collecting chalk dust on the floor. Her eyes were no longer piss and vinegar. They had become tear-lined begging brown puppy dog eyes that needed only a good old wholesome hate-fuck to gain self-realization." Get ready for Mike Mellish's return.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
"Floyd looked through his tears at the item that glistened through the muck. He had to know what it was. He reached into the bowl and extracted a ring. A giant diamond ring." 3am proudly presents Dale Smith's first published work, Diamond in the Rough.
A LETTER TO THE MAYOR OF BALTIMORE
"Richard died in the early afternoon. The old woman nesting in the bed next to him snored loudly, farted incoherently, waiting her turn. There were no last words, only the flat line whistling of a boiling kettle. I left Mercy Hospital, and walked 5,894 steps back to Bolton Hill to an empty apartment." Read T. B. Bower's latest.
HAVE ROCK WILL ROLL
"As a feminist lawyer specializing in young drug offenders and immigrant cases, Gwenn wasn't wearing a bra. I opened the mother-of-pearl buttons of her cream-colored silk blouse, placed a nipple in my mouth and cupped her other full breast in my hand as the music shifted to 'Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire!' . . . 'There's something silly I've always wanted to do,' Gwenn whispered, 'but I've been too embarrassed to ask my lovers.' . . . It's that I want to be spanked in the back seat of the car. Then licked.'" An exclusive short story from William Levy, one of the greats according to Andrei Codrescu.
THE VISHNU ASSASSIN
"They are burning the kiosks in Ann Arbor again." A strange melancholy flavour in Ron Morelli's The Vishnu Assassin.
NOT SOME FEMINIST FANTASY
"'You gonna pay me to sleep with you?' I said as a joke. 'Yes,' he said seriously and pulled a twenty from his wallet. I clarified. 'You're going to pay me. Your girlfriend. To sleep with you.' He held the twenty in front of me and waved it." By Kaley Noonan.
LIKE A FEATHER FALLING THROUGH DUST
"Larry was always falling asleep because he was our school's best diver. He really worked hard at diving. I mean he was dedicated. I was on the diving team too, but I wasn't anyway near as good as Larry, probably because I didn't work as hard at it as he did. Every night, Larry was at the pool, climbing that ladder to the platform, doing his dives, swimming to the edge of the pool, and hauling himself out; over and over, sometimes for hours after I had left." That is what I call dedication. Some people don't appreciate the conseqiences, though. See who in John Sokol's Like a Feather Falling Through Dust.
THE BARBARIAN HANDLER
"She found his usual Virgilian note magnetized to the tiny fridge. 'Promise to burn my oeuvre if I don't return from this journey,' it said, even though he had no particular oeuvre to burn, just some notes toward something or other whose exact nature he'd never troubled to specify inside his own head. And that's exactly why she could stand to be married to the man: he was the only one she knew who wasn't consumed by the urge for 'self-actualization.' He lived his life, most of the time (at least when he wasn't depressed), like someone from a previous, less pampered American generation, whose concerns were still nourishment, shelter and family." By Tom Bradley.
THE STRIPPER IN HER NATURAL HABITAT
"Then, or so it seemed, a hundred furious women went wild on him, kicking and clawing and pulling his hair. Someone shattered a bottle of Eternity over his head. Another jabbed him with a stiletto heel. They elbowed his nose, kicked him in the teeth, twisted his limbs in impossible geometries. They seared his flesh with the curling iron and ripped the clothing from his body, tearing it to bits. His shoulder popped from its socket. Wobbly stars peppered his vision." By Jim Ruland.