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WHEN MY TOYS WENT MENTAL
by Kaley Noonan


One had her velveteen face shredded off twenty years ago; the other had the ass chewed out of him by mice in 1991.

"I've got to get out of here," Baby Bear said.

"Oh give it up," said Baby Dreams. She lay stuffed in a closet at my aunt's house in Maine. Her pink baby bunting was worn thin, frayed in places. Where the velveteen had been scraped away, her plastic face was snotty and gummy but her cheeks were pink and alive.

"You're freakin flat as a Whoopie Cushion," she said. "You have no beans. Your ass looks like someone roto-rootered it with a lead pipe . . ."

Baby Bear said nothing. The mice incident in '91 was nothing Baby Dreams and her insipid little head could ever fully appreciate. In the basement of the old house in Schenectady, the mice came on that night, horrible steel teeth, that whispery sound of scuttle. Two of them with whiskers like bristled probes, tag-teamed for flesh and Baby Bear had been helpless. Oh God, the memory of it would never leave! The torture, the sodomy of teeth and the infernal sound of pinto beans crunching as they disemboweled him. The screams of Luke Skywalker in the next box over as they gnawed his first three toes off. Not even Han Solo shooting his blaster could help; it had been Leia afterall, the big-mouthed princess. She'd saved their lives with Luke's light saber, felling one mouse right on the spot, decapitating the other.

"So anyway," Baby Dreams said. She'd been talking the whole time, oblivious to his nightmare, which was typical. In the twenty years they had been bestfriends, she was still so goddamned self-absorbed. "Once I get a chemical peel, I might then check into the Bo-tox treatments - that's botulism toxin treatments," she said patronizingly. "Big stars get them all the time. Or else they'll use hemorrhoid cream under their eyes, you know, to firm things up. . ."

Shut up!," Baby Bear screamed, his yellow button eyes wide and unseeing. "Shut up! Shut Up!"

Baby Dreams's eyes blinked. (She had that ability). "Excuse me? What's your problem?"

"You don't get it," Baby Bear wailed. "We'll never get out of here." His breath was short and choked. "We're stuck in this closet for eternity."

"Now, honey," Baby Dreams still had the mother in her and draped an arm around Baby Bear's brown cotton head, the only part of him untouched by the mice. "Hush baby, we'll get out of here some day. And I'll get a new face and you'll get your beans back."

"Can I have chick peas inserted instead?" Baby Bear sniffled. "They settle better."

"Oh, you can have anything you want," Baby Dreams soothed.

"Okay." Baby Bear was mollified again, the mice far from his memories as another morning brightened the Dollhouse Room, seeping through the chinks in the closet.


Kaley Noonan's "The Someday Cafe" is featured in 3 A.M.'s Fiction section. An extract of her recently-published online novel Backwoods East Jesus (Mightywords.com) appeared in our second issue (see back issues). More information about this novel can be found at: http://members.mint.net/anduin.

kaleyn@hotmail.com



THE BUST STOP
by Andrew Gallix


The bus stop resembled a maypole, ringed as it was with a gaggle of giggling schoolgirls - more nymphets than you could shake a hockey stick at, I kid you not. Yes, a merry maypole, or one of those ithyphallic statues they used to erect at ancient fertility gigs. The mere presence of the aforementioned schoolgirls was causing a traffic jam of epic bumper-to-bumper proportions, turning happily-married motorists into a pack of leering, wolf-whistling kerb-crawlers. Call it a bust stop if you like, for all I care, and we'll be done with it. You can always count on a perv for a fancy prose style.


Andrew Gallix, thirtyish, recently joined the ranks of the neo-Hydropathes. He's well pleased.


PINA-COLADA
Spoken Word by by Lucie Aveliere


Exactly on the spot where
A thousand years ago fell my house,
A blue stone was pregnant and digesting
A blaze, in the heart of the ruins,
The crumbling carcass which was once my house.
The stone held with all its might
The light rays pulsing painfully against her flanks.
It made a sound rather like that of an antique fridge
Struggling, at night, to keep your cheese from going bad.
Exactly on this spot
A thousand years ago
Fell the stone
And it wrote the incongruous closing chapter
Of my adventurous life. I couldn't even finish my piña-colada


If I could only lay my hands on that fortune-teller.


Lucie Avelière is a leading member of the Parisian neo-Hydropathe group. Miss Avelière writes in both French and English. This poem, published with her kind permission, is a 3 A.M. world exclusive. You can also read the interview which appears in this issue of the magazine. All correspondence about Lucie Avelière and the neo-Hydropathes should be sent to:

andrew@3ampublishing.com



LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING
Chris Fields


Women are from Pluto, men are from Uranus (according to women anyway). We've heard something to this effect for years now. Though I hate broad brush cliché titles to explain something as complex as how they got the caramel in the Cadbury chocolate bar, I do have to admit some element of truth in the concept.

We are different types of people on the whole - men like couches and remotes, throwing socks, changing front struts on the car. Women love talking, shopping, keeping the nest clean, and talking about what a bunch of sad sacks men are.

My wife loves me I'm sure, though moments of love are interspersed with the feeling that I'm some kind of nasty habit she has to put up with. I can't sit down anywhere too long before the marching orders come down the pipe - clean the shower, vacuum the floor, sweep the kitchen, peel her cantaloupe. I know I'm good for something: I'm just not sure what and it's hard to tell her what I'm good for because "I'm not good at communicating." I hate to admit it, but sometimes I wish I could cry on demand. It might grease the squeaky relationship wheels. I do think that my presence in this relationship is required to entertain my wife through nuisance, and to give my wife something to challenge her - like an experiment or an endurance test or an itch in the middle of your back does.

I love my wife, don't get me wrong, but our brains often just don't function on the same wave. While she's on the crest I'm in the trough and vice-versa. I call my wife Snow White for the way she treats people. She's one of the sweetest people in the world. But get her mad at me and it's like the snakes on Medusa's head of my 5'3" sweetie become the ones selected to kill the "Scream" killer.

I know I'm in trouble when my wife is standing between the TV and me. I claim I can concentrate on the TV and hold a conversation at the same time, but she seems to have a sixth sense that I have fine-tuned development of selective hearing and viewing. She's probably gone to "freshen up" with the company of women lately and picked up the tip while buffing her proboscis. I hear the "waaah waaah waaah" courtesy the lesson I absorbed from the Charlie Brown teacher on TV, while my wife is expressing her certainty that a) I am wrong, b) my being wrong bears repeating at least seven times (she must have talked with women who have advertising degrees), and c) my attention can only be acquired by being directly within a frame of view I insist on maintaining.

Thirty minutes of chastising about the genetic compromises made by inventing men later, the phone rings. I'm always amused by the way her jaw can become unhooked and her eyes fiery orbs of fury one moment, yet she picks up the phone and you would think she was operating a 1-900 line. This husky, sex crazed, deep-from-within, I smoked four packs of ciggies today, I'm wearing four inch heels and nothing else voice spills out into the phone: "Heeeellllo, oohh uuuuh, hhhiii. Hooowwwr rrr yuuu?"

To me, it only proves that women are entirely in control of the life and times of men, and the sooner men gather together to acquire some military intelligence on these mysterious creatures we need to subsist, the better for us little men who want nothing more than good sex, a bit of love, a good remote, a big TV, and a V-8 in the car (not the fridge). Women take note - we'll figure part of you out someday - though by then you'll have us relegated to labs to keep the population base intact.


Chris Fields is an urban planner and economic developer.

fieldsc@fclc.com



Clip
by Michael Petrie


After a while, he had been walking so long that he had to keep swapping his briefcase from hand to hand every few minutes. The early afternoon sun was hot, and his shirt collar was damp with sweat. He stood on the corner of the street and looked around, trying to get his bearings. He felt too tired to walk any farther. He put his briefcase down and wiped his palm on his trouser leg.

"Good afternoon, sir."

A middle-aged black woman was standing beside him. She was wearing a coat and a large floppy black felt hat and was carrying a rolled umbrella, despite the warm sun. He smiled at her and picked up his briefcase.

"Hello," he said. "Good afternoon."

"I haven't seen you around here before," she said. "Is this your first time in this area?"

"Yes, I mean I haven't been here before."

"You're just looking around?"

"Yes, just looking around," he said.

"Well, we have lots of young women who would like to meet a smart young man like you. We have Filipina girls, Thai girls, Russian girls, Nigerian girls, and Polish girls."

"What?"

"We have Filipina girls, Thai girls, Russian girls, Nigerian girls, and Polish girls."

He said nothing.

"Our rates are very reasonable," she said. "Just twenty pounds for a straight half-hour massage, plus another twenty for any extras."

He said, "Extras?"

"Hand relief for an extra fiver, oral for an extra twenty, or full intercourse for fifty all-told. That's a full hour," she said.

He said, "A full hour?"

The middle-aged black woman smiled at him. "If you follow me, I can take you to one of our girls," she said. She started walking down the street, and he found himself walking beside her.

After a while she said, "It was a bit windy this morning, wasn't it?"

"Yes," he said.

"When I was getting some stuff out of the boot of my car this morning," she said, "a gust of wind caught some documents I had in the boot and scattered them all over the street."

"You must have been annoyed," he said. He could hear his own voice, but it didn't seem to have anything to do with him.

"That's not the word for it," she said. "I spent the next quarter of an hour trying to catch and pick up those documents. I'm still not sure I found all of them."

"Oh well," he said. "It's turned out nice, though."

A few moments later she turned a corner and walked into an empty shop doorway. The words ŒClosing Down Sale' had been painted on the inside of the front window in whitewash. He wondered how difficult it had been to paint the words backwards. The shop was empty; only a few battered cardboard boxes and a discarded yellowing newspaper lay on the floor. The door was padlocked.

"The girl is in her own flat near here," the black woman was saying. "We can't let just anyone in, it's not safe to do that. We need some proof of your ID, like a credit card, and a deposit of a tenner. It's just for the security of the girl, you understand?"

"Yes," he said.

The black woman held out her hand. "I'll need to borrow your credit card. It's only for a few minutes."

"I don't have one," he said.

"If it's in your car or your house, I can wait here while you get it. How long will it take you to get it?"

"No," he said. "I don't have a credit card."

"Really?" she said. "Oh."

He stood and looked at her, not knowing what to say. He felt the weight of his briefcase against his hand.

"Do you have any ID on you at all? Any driver's licence or anything?"

"No, nothing," he said.

"Could you check your pockets, just to make sure?"

He put the briefcase down and emptied his pockets into the palm of his right hand. He found a used bus ticket, a shopping list from the previous week, a paperclip, a few coins and some paper money held together with a metal clip. The woman picked up the clip of money, took a twenty pound note from it, and put it back in his hand.

"Well, I wouldn't normally do this, but you seem okay. If you wait here, I'll go up to the girl's flat and ask her if she's willing to take you. I can be back in five or ten minutes. I'll have to take a deposit of twenty pounds though, because of the lack of ID. Is that okay?"

He nodded. "Okay," he said.

"Which kind of girl do you want?"

"Um," he said, "um, Filipino, I think. Yes," he said.

"Filipina," she said. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Here, take this." She handed him her rolled umbrella. "Just stay here and I'll come back in a few minutes."

She walked out of the doorway and down the street. He lost sight of her.

He leaned against the padlocked door and looked at the umbrella. It was pink and the fabric felt smooth in his hand, like silk, though he noticed that the edges were a bit frayed. There was a catch on the handle which would unfurl it. He wondered how the mechanism worked, and felt a vague impulse to press the catch. He put the umbrella down on top of his briefcase. His mouth felt dry and he couldn't swallow properly. He looked through the glass panels of the door into the empty shop. He tried to read the headlines on the discarded newspaper, but it was too far away. The stale emptiness of the shop made him feel slightly claustrophobic, so he turned to look at the people walking down the street opposite him.

He stayed in the doorway. He was watchful.


Michael Petrie was born in Edinburgh in 1965. He now lives in Milton Keynes where he is co-writing the script of a film called Sprawl.

M.A.Russell@talk21.com



MAGNETIC POETRY
by Jane Tieman


Woman will dream beyond man for a stronger passion
A secret deception of her love
Healing comes with a crush
Every word promises a friend
An evening of fear but hope for candles and beauty
You have gorgeous skin
Summer music playing
Heart's desire is tender
Not lost


Love is right through eternity
Watching the moon and kiss
Marriage broke but sweet souls meet



Jane Tieman is 16. She plays several instruments and likes travelling. This poem was actually written with magnetic poetry.

Xfilesx0@aol.com








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