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Issue 36 Contents   Editor’s Note………………………………………………………………………..…………………………………...4  About Us…………………………………………………………………………………………………...……………...5  Sumbit……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………....6    Holly Day   

Old School……………………………...……………………………………………………………………..9 These Days………………………………………………...………………………………………………..10  Black and White……………………………………………………………...…………………………….11   

S. Marlowe   For Lynne……………………………………………………………………………………………………...13  Thin Man Blues .……………………………………………………………………………………………14  When in Denver…………………...……………………………………………………………………….15    Beth Escott Newcomer   No One Is Fat in Taiwan………………………………………………………………………………..17    Meghan Louise Wagner   Sunday Donuts …………………………………………………………………………………………….24    Contributors Notes ………………………………………………………………………………………………….33                3 


Welcome to Issue 36 of U ​ mbrella Factory Magazine​.     As  always,  it's  good to see you and we thank you for stopping by. We're privileged to curate  yet  another  issue  of  our  online  literary  rag.  Our  focus,  of  course  is  fiction,  nonfiction  and  poetry,  although  we  occasionally  dabble  in  art.  It  is  our  sincerest  mission  to  connect  well  developed  readers  to  the  best  writing  available.  Try  as  we  might,  we  are  not  really  manufacturing  anything,  and  since  we  live  in  the  sunniest  place  on  Earth,  none  of  us even  own  umbrellas.  Our  business,  if  we  can  call  it  that,  has  always  been  about  operating  a  platform for our poets, writers and artists.    Occasionally,  I  get  emails  from  people  in  the  industrial  sector.  These  emails  are  mostly  solicitations  from  people  who  want  to  somehow  revolutionize  our  factory  and  production  processes.  Sometimes  the  emails  offer  to  take  our  umbrella  manufacturing  facility  offshore.  And  my  favorite  emails  come  from  sales  professionals  who  have  training  and  quality  improvement  programs  to  increase  the  production  in  our  plant.  When  willing  to  entertain  such  queries,  I  can  continue  conversations  for  several  emails  before  someone  realizes that ​Umbrella Factory Magazine is just a magazine. The only thing we manufacture is  the ephemerality of the modern online literary magazine.    In  this  issue,  poets  Holly  Day  and  S.  Marlowe.  New fiction from Beth Escott Newcomer and  Meghan Louise Wagner. Happy reading.      Read. Submit. Comment. Tell everyone you know.      Anthony ILacqua            4 


Umbrella Factory  isn’t  just  a  magazine,  it’s  a  community  project  that  includes  writers,  readers,  poets,  essayists,  filmmakers  and  anyone  doing  something  especially  cool.  The  scope  is  rather  large  but  rather  simple.  We  want  to  establish  a  community–virtual  and  actual–where  great  readers  and  writers  and  artists  can  come  together  and  do  their  thing,  whatever that thing may be.  In  the  smallest  sense,  we  are  an  online  literary  magazine.  In the broadest sense, the scope  of  the  project  includes  Umbrella  Factory  small  press  publications,  workshops,  reading  series,  community  events  and  (in  the  long  haul)  a  home-base,  independent  bookstore  where  we  can  centralize  our  most  heady  aspirations.  We  want  young  writers  to  come  to  school  in  Denver  because  of  the  Umbrella  Factory.  We  want  visiting  writers  to  put  us  on  their  must-see list. We want to publish the next crop of authors who make us say, “I wish I’d  written that.” We want you at the Factory.  Maybe our M ​ ission Statement​ says it best:  We  are  a  small  press  determined  to  connect  well-developed  readers  to  intelligent  writers  and  poets  through  virtual  means,  printed  journals,  and  books.  We  believe  in  making an honest living providing the best writers and poets a forum for their work.  We love what we have here and we want you to love it equally as much. That’s why we need  your  writing,  your  participation,  your  involvement  and  your  enthusiasm.  We  need  your  voice.  Tell  everyone  you  know.  Tell  everyone  who’s  interested,  everyone  who’s  not  interested,  tell  your  parents  and  your  kids,  your  students  and  your  teachers. Tell them the  Umbrella Factory is open for business.  Remember, it’s raining words. Stay dry.                    5 


Submit Yes,  we  respond  to  all  submissions.  The  turn-around  takes  about  three  to  six  weeks.  Be  patient. We are hardworking people who will get back to you.  We  consider  ourselves  at  ​Umbrella  Factory  Magazine  as  a  cooperative  forum  to  connect  readers  to  the  best  writing  available.  ​All  writers  and  poets  retain  all  rights  to  their  work.  fiction  Sized  between  1,000  and  5,000  words.  Any  writer  wishing  to  submit  fiction  in  an  excess of  5,000 words, please query first.  Please double space. Please wait for a reply before submitting your next piece.  In  the  body  of  your  email  please  include:  a  short  bio—who  you  are,  what  you  do,  hope  to  be. Include any great life revelations, education and your favorite novel.  Your  work  has  to  be  previously  unpublished.  We  encourage  you  to  submit  your  piece  everywhere, but please withdraw your piece if gets published elsewhere.  poetry  We  accept  submissions  of  three  (no  more  and  no  less)  poems.  Please  submit  only  previously unpublished work.  We  do  not  accept  multiple  submissions;  please  wait  to  hear  back  from  us  regarding  your  initial  submission  before  sending  another.  Simultaneous  submissions  are  accepted,  but  please withdraw your piece immediately if it is accepted elsewhere.  All  poetry  submissions  must  be  accompanied  by  a  cover  letter  that  includes  a  two  to  four  sentence  bio  in  the  third  person.  This  bio  will  be  used  if  we  accept  your  work  for  publication.  art  Accepting  submissions  for  the  next  cover  of  Umbrella  Factory  Magazine.  We  would  like  to  incorporate  images  with  the  theme  of  umbrellas, factories and/or workers. Feel free to use  one  or  all  of  these  concepts.  Image  size  should  be  980×700  pixels,  .jpeg  or  .gif  file  format.  Provide a place for the magazine title at the top and article links.  We  also  accept  small  portfolios  of  photography  and  digitally  rendered  artwork.  We  accept  six pieces (no more and no less) along with an artist’s statement and a third person bio.      6 


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Holly Day                                     8 


Old School   When we are gone, will our appliances  wear our clothes, put on hats and wigs  try on our shoes? Will all the improvements    made on these machines, enhanced intelligence  make them more or less than we were? Will they  mourn the days of serving us, or rejoice    in their sudden freedoms?                                    9 


These Days   there are too many black people in t.v.  says my grandfather as he as he cuts more and more things  out of his realm of experience: the news, his walks through the park  anywhere he might see black people. his whole world    is Fred Astaire, Roy Rogers, Elizabeth Taylor,  polka records from his childhood in Canada  white. I busy myself scouting out nursing homes    struggle to find ways to ask the staff  how many black people live there  if there’s some way we can keep him  away from the real world.                            10 


Black and White   my body is too small to take your words anymore  scream myself awake to putrid memories of you  your anticipation festers inside of me    I am not your handpuppet, mister    last night I dreamed about your fingers on my flesh  the linoleum pattern of the laundryroom  I wish I wasn’t as stupid as you think                                  11 


S. Marlowe                                     12 


For Lynne   When Lynne loved  it wasn't in earnest  but I took it anyway  rainy night  old world Denver  wine in the park  and puking on the stairs  of an adulthood  which seemed trickier  rather than better                                13 


Thin Man Blues   her lips were wet  but cold, very cold  when I kissed her  memories of death  surfaced  I hadn't lived long enough  but the days spun by  ripped records  on the turntable  faster and faster still  round and round and round  it wasn't so much  that we were getting laid  but getting laid too much  not so much that we drank  but didn't drink enough  not so much misspent youth  but no youth at all  we had no past  no future  until morality changes          14 


When in Denver   When in Denver  it's best to forget  about everything else  or you'll liable  to get depressed                                          15 


Beth Escott Newcomer                                       16 


NO ONE IS FAT IN TAIWAN   The saleswoman came out of nowhere.  At that moment, and for the last several minutes, Tommy had been standing near  the back wall of the Nordstrom’s nearly deserted lingerie department, fondling the  empty cups of the largest bra in the display. He had it off its little hanger and was  pinching and pulling at the lacy fabric with his eyes closed. He thought he was alone; he  wasn’t even trying to hide what he was up to.  It’s hard to say which of the two of them was more startled.  “May I help you?” she said with a gasp when she saw what Tommy was doing.  “Nope,” said Tommy to the saleswoman, and he threw the Sevilla Semi Demi  Underwire Size 48DDD at her as he fled the department, ran down the escalator, out the  wide doors, and did not stop until he was a block away.  Out on Wilshire, at the bus stop, still recovering from his close shave, Tommy put  in his earbuds and for the umpteenth time, listened to his cousin Dino belt out a nearly  accent-free rendition of “My Way.” It was a recording Dino had made a few nights ago in  that karaoke bar in Koreatown—the one that looks like a ship’s galley inside. The place  still stinks like cigarettes, fifteen years after smoking was banned indoors, but it’s  packed every night with a lively hipster crowd who enjoy slumming.  That night Tommy had felt nauseous from the closeness and the smells and had  gone home early—alone, as usual—to their “swanky bachelor pad.” That’s what Dino  called their place—even though it was really the guesthouse behind their rich uncle’s  place in San Marino. Dino was always working on his idiomatic expressions. According  to Dino, Tommy was a “dweeb.”  Like Tommy, his cousin was brand-new to America—fresh from Taipei. But that’s  where the resemblance ended. From Day One, Dino exuded a sense of confidence and  style that drew cute American girls to him like moths to a flame. Dino could barely speak  English, yet when he sang, he sounded like Sinatra. He curled his lip like Elvis. He kept  his face open and boyish like Brad Pitt. He sported two-tone shoes and a stylish, angular  17 


haircut. Dino couldn’t wait to get out of Taiwan, where everything is so clean and neat and regulated. He told Tommy it didn’t seem human to him, that he welcomed the “walk  on the wild side” that America would bring.  It was the opposite for Tommy. He missed his native country. It w ​ as​ clean and  neat. Back home there seemed to be no choice but to be tidy. In Taiwan it was always  clear what the right thing was. No one is fat in Taiwan. No one wears DDD bras with  shameful pink lace cups so big he could lay his whole head inside. He hadn’t even known  such things existed when he arrived in Los Angeles two years before. Nothing here was  clean or neat, inside or out. America made him hate himself. He was dogged by shame—  of his obsession, of his loneliness, of his alienness.  The only girls he liked were the big ones no one else would touch. The fatter, the  better. It was so embarrassing, so wrong. Wrong in his native culture and wrong in his  adopted one. In public he wore his earbuds and his Ray-Ban shades like a uniform—  maybe to keep some distance between himself and the chaotic American landscape, or  maybe so he could stare at its garish and fleshy sights in anonymity.  He tried not to look at the women on the streets, in the markets, at the  department stores and shopping malls, with their glorious stomachs and voluptuous  breasts straining the fabric of their blouses, tight jeans framing luscious camel-toe. He  tried not to think of the humid place where their sweet, ample thighs rubbed together.  He looked away and tried not to notice the sweet smell of their sweat or the sensual  sound of their short mouth-breaths of exertion as they hoisted themselves up into the  bus. Yes, he tried, but often failed to block the persistent daydreams of their deep, fleshy  folds, their great, soft rolls, and when he did, such thoughts made him stiffen.  Tommy got off the bus at Westwood and sprinted toward the gym, quickly  changed, then punished himself with a run on the treadmill at the steepest incline, made  himself go until he was nauseous.  Why couldn’t he be like a regular man? Why couldn’t he go for a nice, trim Asian  or American girl with a Size 4 figure? God knows there were plenty of them in Los  Angeles. Why couldn’t he be normal, confident, and fun-loving like his cousin Dino?  Tommy loved his cousin but didn’t dare mention his unusual preferences. Dino  18 


would never understand. Dino had been generous and supportive, setting up opportunities for Tommy to hook up, who, in turn, politely passed on most fix-ups that  had come his way. His ideal woman was not likely to turn up among the party girls  orbiting around Dino.  People said Tommy was good-looking. He was compact, anyway—short by  American standards—and he worked hard to stay fit. Everyone probably thought he was  gay. Maybe it would be more socially acceptable to love men than big, fluffy women. He  went to the weight room and looked around. There were some gay men in there. When  he made eye contact, one of them smiled, but it was just a polite how-do-you-do smile.  He could see they all knew he wasn’t one of them.    He showered and left the gym, heading for a noodle shop he knew nearby. The  food in LA was 99% horrible, but there were a few places where he could find a decent  lunch. He sat at the counter and sipped a glass of water while he waited for his beef  noodle with bird’s nest fern. He kept his earbuds in but could no longer bear the music  he’d loaded—the swagger and innuendo in the songs only made him feel worse. So  instead he bobbed his head in time to no music at all, drumming his fingers lightly on  the Formica countertop, laying down a backbeat behind the ambient hum of the noodle  shop’s lunch-hour rush.  He heard her before he saw her.  “Okay. If that’s how you feel...” she said softly. “Goodbye.”  At first he thought the woman was chuckling to herself, but soon realized that she  was quietly sobbing in a booth behind him. Tommy dropped a chopstick on the floor  and leaned down to pick it up so he could catch a sidelong glimpse of the woman.  He stifled a gasp. She was perfect. An enormous Madonna encased in exquisitely  smooth, slightly transparent pale flesh. Her face was beatific, her eyes were big and  round, light blue like a baby’s—though red-rimmed and full of tears at the moment.  Thick, blond hair swirled down her back and over her shoulders with one well-kept wave  brought to the front, brushing, caressing her collarbone, seeming to gesture at the  expanse of her ample chest.  His eyes landed on her hand resting gently on top of her phone. Shell-pink nails

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at the end of long, plump fingers. He should take that hand in his. Her hand: his all- consuming goal. If he could just touch its soft white skin, hold it for a few minutes,  maybe she would exhale and let her belly out, let it settle around her like an inner tube,  like a life preserver he could hold on to, a safety net of flesh.  Would he allow himself to make such a bold move? The moment to act was  slipping away. He was frozen in the strange posture he’d assumed to pick up the  chopstick. She caught him looking up at her and turned away to gaze out the window.  He quickly sat up, twisted around on the stool, and tried to make a mental inventory of  the teacups and rice bowls lined up behind the counter. But his mind kept returning to  her—how to introduce himself, how to make a move, what to say. He had nothing to say.  He was repulsive. Certainly she would prefer a tall man, an all-American man. His beef  noodle arrived. He hunched over the bowl and tried to disappear into the steam.  After a few minutes, she said aloud, maybe to Tommy, maybe to the room at  large, “That was my boyfriend, or at least, I thought he was my boyfriend.” Tommy  removed his earbuds turned on his stool to face her, and was surprised to hear his own  voice saying, with a certain savoir-faire he did not recognize, “Either way, he was a very  lucky man.” It was as though he had left his body. He watched himself pick up his glass  of water and walk to her booth.  “May I join you?” he heard himself ask.  She sniffed a little and dabbed at her eye with a napkin, then motioned for him to  sit down, which he did. He laid his sunglasses on the table in front of him, put his  earbuds in his pocket, collected himself, and looked up. They both started talking at once.  He said, “My name is Tommy—well actually, my name is Huang Chih-ming, it  means ‘to have a clear goal in life.’ Which is funny because life seems pretty cloudy to  me. I’m all over the place. And besides, ‘Tommy’ is easier to say. Like Tommy Lee  Jones.” Who was this outgoing person telling the story of his life? He had not shared his  given name with anyone in LA other than his employer, where it had been required by  Law.  “Tommy,” she said and smiled. “Well, I’m Wendy. Wendy Winslow. You know,  from the morning show on KRG-FM? I read the news and some of the commercials...”  20 


Tommy was mesmerized, staring, transformed, silent. Too much time went by. Wendy continued, flustered, “You probably don’t listen to that station. I’m so  embarrassed. Or I don’t know why I said that. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I  moved to LA to be with Larry, but now Larry doesn’t want me anymore. But I guess  that’s okay because he got me a decent job at the radio station and I’m here now...” Her  voice had started out smooth, deep, intoxicating, professional somehow, but was now  uncertain, cracking.  “You know, Tommy, I wasn’t always this fat...but I was never that thin either. At  the beginning, Larry didn’t seem to care, but...well, I guess I didn’t realize how much it  bothered him...” She let out a gasp, a hiccup, a cross between a laugh and a sob.  Tommy touched her perfect hand and said, “It doesn’t matter to me.” He handed  her a clean napkin. “But you can tell me about it anyway.”  She exhaled, blew her nose in short, dainty bursts, then smiled at him and began  to tell him a long, detailed story about growing up on a farm in the Midwest and  something about the difference between Chicago and LA and how it felt like there was  no center. It didn’t seem necessary for Tommy to say anything. He wasn’t listening. He  was nodding and watching her mouth move, her watery eyes, her hands gesturing in the  air, smoothing her blouse, touching her hair, folded on the table. He’d let her talk as  long as she liked. She was his queen.  But suddenly she was saying something about being on her lunch break and how  she had to get back to the station. It seemed the conversation had only just begun.  Before panic could squash the impulse, he asked, “Saturday? Same time, same place?”  and she agreed. It was as if he asked a goddess on a date everyday after lunch.  Later, on the bus heading east, he struggled to remember specifics, but only the  smallest shreds of her story remained. What was the name of the radio station where  she worked? Where was she from? Indiana, maybe? She had a brother, or was it a sister?  What else had she said? Oh God, he was such an idiot. He would have to be a better  listener next time.  All the way back to Hollywood, he held her phone number as if it was a priceless  relic. On the torn corner of a paper placemat, in her perfect penmanship, she’d written  21 


the digits in blue ink, and put “Call me! Your friend, Wendy,” underneath. Maybe on Saturday, after lunch, they could take a walk on the pier, maybe go for a ride on the  Ferris wheel.  He could not sleep that night. He whispered her name into the darkness—​Wendy  Winslow, Wendy Winslow, Wendy Winslow.​ With his index finger, he idly drew circles  on his own flat belly and pictured the roundness of her.                                                  22 


Meghan Louise Wagner                                     23 


Sunday Donuts I  sat  up  in  bed  and  wanted to murder the day. Emily’s ass was warm but there was frost on  the  windowpanes.  It  was  the  time  of  year  its  always  dark when you wake up. The alarm on  my phone went off a second time. Emily grabbed it and said, “why are you up so early?”  “Going to work,” I said and put a hoodie on over my chef’s coat.  Why do they always make you work Sunday?”  I  walked  over  and  grabbed  my  phone  from  her.  The  screen  was  cracked  in  a  spiderweb  of fine lines. I’d fix it after we caught up on rent. “The brunch shift’s not so bad,” I  said, slipping the phone into the front pocket of the hoodie. “At least it’s busy.”  Now  that  I  was  out  of  bed,  she  bunched  the  covers  up  and  around  her  like  a  majestic  ice  queen.  Just  her  pink  face  and  messy  brown  hair  poked  out  from  the  cowl.  It  was  that  cold.  The  landlord  was  waiting  for  us  to  pay  the  last  two  month’s  rent  before  he  fixed the furnace. We got close to catching up before Emily quit her job at ​Captain Cutts​. She  didn’t go to hair school to trim the heads of little brats all day, she said.  “Are  you  gonna  make  it  to  my  mom’s  birthday?”  she  said  from  a  tightly  wound  cocoon  of  sheets  and comforters. Her pink cheeks glowed as if she had some extra magical  source of warmth beneath there.  I  took  another  hoodie  from  the top of the dresser. Beneath it, Emily had a bundle of  unopened  cosmetology  school  letters,  credit  card  statements  and  travel  magazines  that  still  came  to  her  parents’  address  with her maiden name on them. She kept saying she was  gonna  change  her  legal  address once we got caught up on rent. I put the second hoodie on  over my first and felt like a blown-up mummy in all those layers.  “I’ll catch the bus out there after work,” I said, dipping down to kiss her forehead. My  lips touched heat against her skin and I wished I was back in that safe warm space with her.  “And,  babe?”  she  said  on  my  way  out  the  door.  “My dad wants you to bring some of  those  fancy  donuts. The lavender-raspberry and green tea ones my mom likes. He said he’ll  pay for them.”  The  hallway  was  even  colder  than  our  room.  I  felt  a  blast  of  frosty  air  against  the  back of my legs as I stood talking to her. “Your dad doesn’t have to pay me for them,” I said.  “He says he’s got it. He just wants to make sure you bring—“  “I’ll take care of it,” I said.  “Babe, my dad knows they’re like sixty bucks a dozen so—“  24 


“I told you,” I said, “I’ll take care of it.” *  “I’ll catch the bus out there after work,” I said, dipping down to kiss her forehead. My  lips touched heat against her skin and I wished I was back in that safe warm space with her.  “And, babe?” she said on my way out the door. “My dad wants you to bring some of  those  fancy  donuts. The lavender-raspberry and green tea ones my mom likes. He said he’ll  pay for them.”  The  hallway  was  even  colder  than  our  room.  I  felt  a  blast  of  frosty  air  against  the  back of my legs as I stood talking to her. “Your dad doesn’t have to pay me for them,” I said.  “He says he’s got it. He just wants to make sure you bring—“  “I’ll take care of it,” I said.  “Babe, my dad knows they’re like sixty bucks a dozen so—“  “I told you,” I said, “I’ll take care of it.”  *  Emily  didn’t  know  about  the  Sunday  donuts.  The  owners  of  Selina’s  Bistro  were  a  married  couple  with  three  young  kids  so  they  hardly  ever  came  in  Sundays.  Each  week  me  and my  co-workers  took  turns  bribing  the  head  baker  to  save  us  a  dozen  donuts  that  we  hid from  the  customers.  It  was  a  surprise  I’d  been  keeping  from  Emily  for  months.  My  week  was  actually  supposed  to  be  two  weeks  ago  but  I  traded  with  one  of  the  cooks  so  I  could  have  today.  I  was  gonna  show  up  at  her  mom’s  birthday  party  with  a  full  box  of  her  mom’s  favorite  fancy  ass  donuts  and  impress  the  shit  out  of  everyone.  Let  her  sister’s  husband  make  those  stupid  jokes  about  me  going  to  culinary  school  just  to be a breakfast cook. Let  her Dad try to lend us money. Finally, he’ll see we don’t need it.  There  was  no  bus  line  that  went  by  Selina’s  Bistro  on  Sunday  mornings  so  I  had  to  get  off  at  the  stop  half  a  mile  away.  I  was  sure  it  was  below  fifteen  degrees  out.  Maybe  colder. The slush in the gutters was frozen solid.  Selina’s  was  in  a  shopping  plaza  next  to  a  Pilates  studio  and  an  upscale  bike  shop.  Across  the  street  was  a  Whole  Foods,  a  doggy  daycare,  and  a  gas  station  that  had  little  tv  sets  over  the  pumps  that  played  commercials.  The  plaza  parking  lot  was empty when I got  there  at  seven,  but  soon  it  would  be  filled  with  SUVs  and  luxury  cars.  The  only  people  at  Selina’s  this  early  were  the  workers.  The  manager,  Eddie,  was  a  bearded  red  haired  Viking  of  a  guy  dressed  in  a  green  and  black  checkered  flannel  over  jeans. He lit the eight-burner  range  with  a  long  red  torch.  The  servers,  two  cute  white  girls,  were  taking  chairs off tables  and  talking  about  their hangovers. Neither of them were in their Selina’s t-shirts yet. Allison  looked  like  she  was  still  in  pajamas,  wearing  billowy  pink  pants  and  an  oversized  white  sweatshirt  with  rainbows  and  unicorns  on  it,  while  Deanna  wore  a  black  mini-skirt  over  shredded  black  tights  and  knee  high  boots.  The  baker,  a  petite,  chubby  Puerto  Rican  25 


woman with  dyed  pink  hair  named  Luz,  was  icing  the  donuts  at  a  cluttered  stainless  steel  table  in  the  back.  She  wore  a  black  t-shirt  over  a  ribbed  long  sleeved  undershirt  shirt  that  read “Eff your Beauty Standards” across her chest.  “Morning,  Caleb,”  Luz  said  to  me  as  I  unzipped  my  layers  of  hoodies.  She  dipped  freshly  fried  donuts  into  a  bowl of silky pink glaze and then sprinkled them with tiny purple  lavender  buds. Most people had to stop and watch her work when they walked through the  bakery  to  the  kitchen.  She  was  an  artist  with  all  her  different  bowls  of  shimmering  glazes  and  tinted  frostings. Plastic canisters from the craft store were filled with edible gold flakes,  tiny  silver  sugar  pearls, and rainbow sprinkles. Her gourmet donuts made Selina’s a brunch  destination.  Even  though  the  Sunday  donuts  were  five  bucks  each,  we  almost  always  sold  out.  “It’s  your  turn  this  week,  right?”  she  said  and  lifted  a  full-sheet  tray  of  pink  and  lavender  topped  donuts  onto  the  multi-tiered  speed  rack  beside  the  prep  table.  “Got  any  requests?”  I  warmed my hands over the crackling oil in the deep fryer behind her. “Yeah,” I said.  “It’s  my  mother-in-law’s  birthday.  She  likes  those  raspberry-lavender  ones.  And  the  green-tea ones.”  Luz  nodded  and  took  a  tray  of  puffed  up  dough  from  a  lower  rack.  She  carried  it  over  to  the  prep  table  next  to  the  deep  fryer.  “Okay,”  she  said,  smiling  at  me.  “I  got  you,  Caleb.  You  just  remember  to  fuck  up  an  eggs  benedict  with  extra  crispy  potatoes  for  me  later, alright?”  “Alright,”  I  said  and  stepped  away  from  the  deep  fryer  so  she  could  start  dropping  circles of dough into the shimmering oil. “I got you, Luz.”  *  Sundays  got  busy  right  when  we  opened  at  nine  and  stayed  busy  until  we  closed  at  two.  I  worked  the  line  with  two  other  cooks,  a  short,  skinny  black  guy  named  Poe  who  wore  a  backwards  Chicago  Cubs  hat,  and  a  fifties-something  white  lady  named  Charlotte  who  always  had  her  dark  brown  hair  in  a  severe  bun  like  a  ballerina.  Everyone  at Selina’s joked  that  Charlotte  was  probably  pretty  hot  when  she  was  young  and  Poe  would  say,  “shit,  she  looks good now.”  Charlotte  was  a  pro  at  flipping  eggs  so  she  worked  sauté.  I  was  on  grill  and  Poe  moved  between  us  on  fry  and  the  hot  wells.  Eddie worked the expo station like a coach on  the  sidelines,  yelling  at  the  servers  to  take  food  from  the  window  and  yelling  at us to keep  up  on  the  tickets.  After  an  hour,  I got so hot standing over the sizzling meats and pancakes  on  the  grill that my face broke out in a permanent sheen of sweat. I tried not to think about  having  four  more  hours  to  go  before  I’d  be  scraping  the  shit out of that grill and scrubbing  the  floors  with  the  stiff  deck brush. I thought about Emily warm in bed tonight, hugging me  tight  and  squealing,  “and  did  you  see  the  look  on  my  mom’s  face  when  you  brought  the  donuts? And my dad when you didn’t take his cash?”  26 


Making breakfast  for  Luz  in  the  middle  of  the  rush  was  tricky  but  we  had  a system.  Midway  through  a  full  rack  of  customer  tickets,  I  set  a  buttered English muffin, grilled ham  and  crispy  potatoes  aside.  Then  Charlotte  slid  me  two  perfectly  poached  eggs  between  orders  and  I  managed  to  slip  past  Poe  to  sauce  up  the  plate  with  yolky  yellow  hollandaise  from  the  hot  well.  Iran  with  the  platter  past  bus  boys  carting  tubs  of  clinking  glasses  and  swerved to avoid Allison carrying a full silverware caddy from the dishwasher.  Luz  was  at  her  prep  table,  now  polished  and  sparkling,  with a rag in her hand and a  smile on her face.  “Here you go,” I said, handing her the eggs benedict. “Extra crispy potatoes.”  “Thanks,  Caleb,”  she  said  and  took  the  plate.  She  nodded  her  pink  head  in  the  direction  of  an  unmarked  white  pastry  box  sitting  on  the  edge  of  the  speed  rack.  “There’s  your donuts. I made extra matcha cream ones just for you.”  “You  rock,”  I  said  and  ran  back  to  the line, seeing a new barrage of tickets waiting to  be  made. But my team had my back. Even Eddie waved his hand at me in acknowledgment.  It  was  my  turn  for  the Sunday donuts and we all knew the deal. I had covered for them and  now  they  were  covering  for  me.  Next  week,  I’d  be  covering  for  someone  else.  We  were  a  well-oiled machine and we took care of each other.  *  One  p.m. was the start of the homestretch. The tickets kept coming so I knew I wasn’t going  anywhere  soon.  Poe  jumped  off  the  line  to  take  a smoke break and Charlotte was up next.  I’d power through until it was time to close.  I  plated  an  order  of  biscuits  and  foie gras and Charlotte folded a French omelet into  a  tube.  Eddie  waited  with  his  arms  folded  over  the  line,  his  foot  probably  tapping  on  the  tile. I heard Deanna’s high-pitched voice over the clattering dishes. “Shit, shit, shit,” she said.  “What’s wrong, Dee?” Eddie asked.  Deanna  pushed  her  hand to her forehead. The bottom of her smoky eyes were dark  like  that  hangover  was  really  catching  up  to  her.  “Allison  sold  the  last  donuts  to  some  guy  without  telling  me,”  she  said,  “and  now  my  table  is  pissed  because  they  ordered  six  to  go  when they put their food in and now I don’t have any.”  “Why didn’t you box them up when they first ordered them?”  “Because I was fucking busy, Eddie.”  “Fine. Then tell ‘em tough shit,” Eddie said.  “They’re being assholes about it,” she said. “I’m getting a bad yelp vibe from them.”  I  placed  the  shortcakes  and  omelet  in  the  window.  “Does  it  matter  what  flavor?”  I  asked. “I’ve got some stashed in the back.”  “You do?” Deanna never said more than two words to me before that.  27 


“If you  only  need  six,”  I  said,  nodding  my  head  in  the  direction  of  the  bakery.  “Just  take them. They’re in the box on the rack.”  “Awesome,” she said and rushed off.  Eddie  smacked  the  edges  of  the  plates.  “You  got  hot  food  here,  Dee!”  he  called  to  her.  Charlotte  shook  her head and oiled a pan. “You’re a better man than me, Caleb,” she  said through the side of her mouth.  “I can spare six donuts,” I said. “My mother-in-law will still get half a dozen.”  “Still.” Charlotte shrugged at me and cracked an egg.  *  Once  the open sign got flipped around, the music cranked up. Poe threw a bucket of  sudsy  water onto the hot grill, making it foam over like a bubble bath. Charlotte got to work  on  wrapping  the  leftover  food on the line and I was on floor duty. Through the dining room  windows,  the  sky  was  silver  and  pink  like  it  often  is  on  winter  afternoons.  We’d  be  out  before dark. I was sure.  Allison  and  Deanna sprinted through the kitchen with full bus tubs and Eddie, with a  pencil  tucked  behind  his  ear,  carried  a  crayon-blue  deposit  bag  beneath  his  arm.  Once  I  finished  scrubbing  the  kitchen  floors,  I  saw  that  the dining room was still a mess. I took my  broom out there.  “You  don’t  have  to  do  that,”  Allison  said  and  set  an  upside-down  chair  on  top  of  a  table.  “I  don’t mind,” I said, sweeping past her feet. When the bristles went over her toes of  her black non-slip shoes, she giggled.  I  headed  back  through  the  kitchen  to  the  mop  sink  and  filled  a  bucket  with  acrid  smelling  green  floor  cleaner  and  water.  As  the  faucet  ran,  I  checked  my  cell  phone.  There  were  messages  rom  Emily.  I  didn’t  have  to  read  them  all.  I  quickly  wrote  back:  ​closing now,  see you soon, with >donut emojis<.  Her response was instant. ​>kissy face emoji< and >heart-eyed emoji<.  I  tucked  the  phone  into  my  back  pocket  and  turned  off  the  water.  I  carted  the mop  bucket  and deck brush into the kitchen. Poe had the grill almost the shade of stainless steel  and  Charlotte  was  sealing  the  sandwich fridge with plastic wrap. It wasn’t even three-thirty.  Not a bad close for a busy Sunday.  The  deck  brush  and  I  glided  over  the  kitchen  tile.  I  imagined  showing  up  at  Emily’s  parents’  house  in  half  an hour, holding the pastry box out for her Mom. The baker , I would  say, ​made them special just for you, Sylvia​. 

28


Once I  finished  scrubbing,  all  I  had  to  do  was  go  over  the  floor  with a dry mop. Poe  and  Charlotte  passed  by  me,  he  with a fresh cigarette behind his ear and she with her tight  bun  loosened  into  a  ponytail.  “You  want  me  to  finish  that?”  Poe  asked,  rubbing  his  fingers  over the spotted tan filter of his Newport. “So you can get to your party?”  “Nah,  I  got  it,”  I  said,  making  my  last  pass  around the perimeter of the kitchen. “You  guys get out.”  “Don’t have to tell me twice,” Charlotte said, tipping her fingers to her forehead like a  salute. “Later, Caleb.”  “Peace,”  Poe  reached  his  hand  out  to  fist  bump  mine,  that  universal  back  of  house  send-off that ensures no one dirties their clean hands with a shake.  They  left  and  finished  the  floor.  Eddie  tiptoed  over  the  clean  tile  with  a  full  deposit  bag  and  a  clipboard  holding  the  inventory  forms.  Allison  and  Deanna  were  almost  done  with  the  dining  room  and  the  dishwashers  were  sending  the  last of the silverware through  the  machines.  Eddie  shut  the  music  off  and  the  restaurant  was  gloriously  quiet  with  the  only noise being the buzz of the refrigerators and freezers.  Hum.  The  back  door  cracked  and  footsteps  pounded  like  erratic  drum  beats.  Children’s  voices  followed,  high  pitched  and  squealing.  Before  I  knew  it,  two  blond  and  blue  eyed  blurs streaked past me. Sludgy shoes ran right over my clean kitchen floor.  “Forest!” yelled a male voice. “MacQuensie!”  “Hold on, hold on,” a female voice said, “I’m getting the baby.”  I  froze  with  the  wooden  mop  handle  splintered to my palms. Then I saw the owners  of  Selina’s.  Toby  and  Trishelle,  looking  like  weekend  warriors.  Toby  was  trying  to  look  cool  in  overpriced  flannel  and  khaki  and  Trishelle  showed  off  her  yoga  thighs  in  white  leggings  and  knee  high  black  boots.  She  had  a  peach  fuzz  headed  baby  slung  around  her  hip  who  was wearing puffy pink earmuffs and a dazed expression.  Trishelle ignored me like always and looked at Toby. “Can you get them?”  “They’re fine,” he said and waved his hand. “Hey, Caleb.”  “Hi,”  I  said,  my  eyes  dragging  over  the  accumulating  lines  of  dirty  footsteps  that  followed their bratty kids through the kitchen.  Eddie  popped  his  Viking  head  out  of  the  office.  “What  are  you  guys  doing here?” he  said, blinking.  “We  came  to  grab  something  to  eat,”  Trishelle  said,  sashaying  with the baby. “We’ve  been out hiking with the kids all day.”  Eddie  smiled  in  that  affable,  managerial  way  he  had  about  him.  “You  must  be  hungry,” he said, “it’s a chilly day for a hike.”  29 


“Don’t mind  us,”  Toby said, pushing past me to get to the walk-in refrigerator. “We’re  gonna grab some stuff to take home and cook. Keep on closing.”  He  disappeared  behind  the  thick  metal  door  and  I  quickly  glanced  at  Eddie  and the  dishwasher.  Whenever  the  owners  unexpectedly  stopped  by  at  closing  time,  it  always  added  at  least  ten  minutes  to  our  schedule,  and  those  messy  kids  were  probably  gonna  add another twenty. I felt for the cell phone in my back pocket and tried to think of a way to  let Emily know I’d be late.  The  kids  ran  past  me  into  the  dish  area.  I  took  the  opportunity  to  run  the  dry  mop  over  their  footsteps  and  return  the  tile  to  the  sparkling  tone  it  was  before  they  arrived.  I  heard  the  walk-in  fridge  door open and seal behind Toby. Then Trishelle asked him, “is that  the chicken noodle soup or the chicken dumplings?”  “I don’t know,” he said dryly. “It’s got chicken in it.”  “I don’t like dumplings,” she said.  I  was  almost  done  with  my  second  pass  of  the  kitchen  when  the  kids  ran  back  in.  The  boy  was  a  little  bigger  than  the  girl  and  I  always  mixed  up  their names. I think the boy  was  MacQuensie  and  the  girl  was  Forest.  I  suppose  it  made  just  as  much  sense  the  other  way around.  “Who’s your boss?” the boy asked.  I  leaned  on  the  mop,  praying  that  they  stayed  on  the  edge  of  the  kitchen.  “Your  parents,” I said.  “No,” the girl said, looking up at me with fair, pink cheeks. “Who’s your boss?”  I wished I had Eddie’s gift of bullshit. “Your mommy,” I said, “and your daddy.”  “No,” the boy said, pointing at himself. “I’m your boss.”  “And I’m your boss,” the girl said, bouncing on her toes.  The  kids  scrambled  off  and  I  glanced  at  the  clock  on  the  wall  above  the  office.  Outside,  the  sky  was  darkening  with  shades  of  violet and navy. The warm air in the kitchen  suffocated me and I wished I was at the bus stop feeling a cold snap on my face.  “Yuck!” the boy said. “I don’t like this!”  I kept mopping and heard the girl. “I don’t want this, Mommy.”  “Okay,” Trishelle said, “you guys don’t have to finish them.”  “I think they’re okay,” Toby said. “Funny aftertaste, though.”  “Why  does  Luz  keep  making  weird  flavors?”  Trishelle  asked.  “Can’t  she  just  do  normal ones for a change?”  I  dropped  the  mop  and  walked  into  the  bakery  from  the  kitchen.  The  four  of  them  stood  around  Luz’s  formerly  pristine  prep  table  with  the  white  pastry  box  wide  open.  30 


Broken lavender-raspberry  and  matcha-cream  filled  donuts  littered  the  surface  and  floor  surrounding  it.  The  kids  both  reached  for  the  last  donuts  in  the  box  and  tore  them  in  half  for the fun of it.  “They’re weird,” the girl said.  “It tastes like soap,” the boy said.  “I  know,”  Toby  said,  pitching  a  donut  with  only  one  bite  taken  from it into the trash.  “They’re not very good. No wonder Luz had all these left over.”  *  I  sat  at the bus stop and fiddled with my phone. The sky was black and each breath I  took  made  a  cloud  of  smoke.  After  thumbing  the  cracked  screen  of  my  phone  in the frigid  air, I sent Emily the message.  >On my way. I couldn’t get the donuts. Something happened.<  Her  answer  wasn’t  immediate.  It  wasn’t  until  I  was  on  the  frosty  bus,  twenty-five  minutes  into  the  half-hour  ride  to  her  parents,  that  my  phone  buzzed  with  her  response.  The  road  rumbled  beneath  me  and  I  jostled  in  the  cold  plastic  seat.  The  other  people  on  the  bus  were  dead  eyed  and  frozen.  A  middle-aged  black  man  with  a  lazy  eye  drank  a  tall-boy  from  a  paper  bag,  an  obese  red  haired  white  woman  with  slits  for  eyes  had  garbage  bags  filled  with  clothes  on  both  sides  of her, and the dude next to me smelled like  a clogged urinal.  I  read  Emily’s  message  behind  the  fine  spiderweb  of  cracked  glass.  >​Don’t  worry​<,  she  wrote,  >​my  dad  figured  that  would  happen  so  he  went  up  there  and  bought some himself.  He said you were busy and he got the last ones.​<Insert s​ miley face emoji.  The bus went past the stop for Emily’s parents’ house and I kept riding. My thumb    hovered  over  the  base  of  my  broken  phone.  I  looked  outside  and  saw  a  fluorescent  pink  posterboard  tacked  onto  a  telephone  pole  with  words  written  out  in  thick  magic  marker:  Looking  to  make  $$$?  It  looked  out  of  place  in  the  fancy  neighborhood.  The  seat  rattled  beneath  me  and  street  lights  flashed  through  the  windows  as  we  passed  by  three  story  houses and luxury condominium complexes.  My broken phone buzzed in my hand but I didn’t look at it. I just rode and wondered  what it was like to be safe and warm in one of those homes for the night.  ***          31 


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Contributor's Notes Holly Day​’s poetry has recently appeared in ​The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, ​and Gargoyle​. Her newest poetry collections are ​A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), ​In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), ​A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), ​I'm in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and ​The Yellow Dot of a Daisy (Alien Buddha Press).

S. Marlowe hung around the streets of Denver from birth to death. Posthumously, this is S. Marlowe's first publication.

Beth Escott Newcomer ​grew up  on  Normal  Avenue  in  Normal,  Illinois,  came  of  age in  Chicago,  was  chewed  up  and  spit  out  by  New  York  City,  licked  her  wounds  in  Los  Angeles,  and now lives a quiet life with her husband and a pack of dogs in rural Fallbrook, California.    Meghan Louise Wagner is a fiction writer and professional chef from Cleveland, OH. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing from Cleveland State University. Her fiction has appeared in places such as ​Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words a​ nd​ Literally Stories.                     33 


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Profile for Blog Site

Umbrella Factory Magazine Issue 36  

Umbrella Factory Magazine Issue 36  

Profile for blog-site
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