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Hidden Animals

Issue 1

Summer 2013


Hidden Animals Literary Magazine Issue 1 Summer 2013

www.HiddenAnimalsLit.com Š 2013 Hidden Animals


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Contents Introduction .................................................................................................................................................................................................. 4 Adreyo Sen ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... Notes on Observation ............................................................................................................................................................................. 5 John Grey ........................................................................................................................................................................................................ That Naples Fountain .............................................................................................................................................................................. 6 The Message ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 7 Sandra K. Woodiwiss....................................................................................................................................................................................... Superior Sings .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Linville Wiles ................................................................................................................................................................................................... Private re: Public .................................................................................................................................................................................. 12 William Doreski ............................................................................................................................................................................................... A Book Signed by E.E. Cummings ....................................................................................................................................................... 13 Howie Good ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... Night In the Country ............................................................................................................................................................................ 14 Rock, Paper ........................................................................................................................................................................................... 15 May Cause Drowsiness........................................................................................................................................................................... 16 Art Notes ............................................................................................................................................................................................... 17 Jonathan Alston ............................................................................................................................................................................................... (De)Constructed ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 18 Kenneth Pobo .................................................................................................................................................................................................. Spacker Imagines Himself Starring in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? ........................................................................................ 23 Joe Becker ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... Davenport .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 25 Jessica Tyner.................................................................................................................................................................................................... Genetically Isolated Since the Ice Age ................................................................................................................................................. 33 Matthew A. Toll ............................................................................................................................................................................................... Blurry Night .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 34 Curious Eyes .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 36 Life & Death.......................................................................................................................................................................................... 37 DH Hanni......................................................................................................................................................................................................... Secrets and Lies .................................................................................................................................................................................... 39


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Gina Vargas ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... Zoanthropy............................................................................................................................................................................................. 42 Ken Poyner ...................................................................................................................................................................................................... Commerce .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 43 Bios ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 45

Artwork David Tomb ..................................................................................................................................................................................................... Thornscrub and Plain Chachalacas ................................................................................................................................................... Cover Loren Kantor ................................................................................................................................................................................................... Bukowski ................................................................................................................................................................................................. 8 Jack Kerouac ......................................................................................................................................................................................... 22 Hunter S. Thompson ............................................................................................................................................................................. 24 Edgar Allan Poe .................................................................................................................................................................................... 38


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Introduction

As a person who would like to one day be able to officially call himself a writer, I run into a lot of instances in my reading where I think, “Damn, I wish I had written that.” This happens consistently when reading the classics, occasionally when reading articles out of magazines like The Oxford American, rarely when browsing the web, and never when reading Jennifer Egan. It is at once an inspiring and defeating feeling, leaving you to aspire to your own greatness while irrationally denying the minute possibility of its existence. It’s a rollercoaster ride of sorts, one who’s curves and loops and whiplash that I and the editorial team of Hidden Animals have come to know exceptionally well. And it is a ride that we invite you to take in the pages that follow. In our very first official issue we have plenty of writing to inspire and defeat (in the best of ways). You will read a number of great poems, four wonderful short stories, and an explorative and thought provoking piece of non-fiction by Jonathan Alston. And it doesn’t end with just words. Inside the magazine are four woodcuts from Loren Kantor, featuring some of the greatest drunks in literary history. On the cover of this first issue is a stunning watercolor by artist David Tomb. This is the beginning of the quality writing that is to come in the lifetime of Hidden Animals and we hope you enjoy, marvel at, and wish you wrote all of the work in Hidden Animals Issue 1. Eric K. Editor, Hidden Animals


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Adreyo Sen Notes on Observation In the eyes of the young, the oddball in the ordinary is of considerable interest. We wonder at the ragged man with the stacks of clothes, seemingly grumpy on a platform bench, at the lady who emerges, white-faced and brave from a small house, wearing one grey running shoe and a bathroom slipper. Grown-up now, less given to observation than dismissal, unless it is of the very specific, we cross over ragged men as we cross over the stains they leave behind on platform benches. The ladies of white-faced courage we do not match with the women reported missing or found dead with broken faces and broken hearts, with broken sentences at their twisted mouths. We do not notice their shoes not matching except for a quick laugh and a chance to say something brilliant about the oddballs we remember from our past.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

John Grey THAT NAPLES FOUNTAIN Fascination has such willing participants. Gale reminds me that once I sat and stared like this at her. It is a series of basins mounted atop one another, smallest at the top, largest at the bottom. Water begins its journey in high white marble, fills the first so easily, overflows into the next, and then the next and so on. The bigger the vessel of course, the longer it takes to fill, to fulfill its promise to the one below. But eventually, all water is flowing equally, a symmetry is reached that summons every bowl to its perfection. Gale grips my arm like touch is just one more transition this love makes. She cascades into me and nothing spills.


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THE MESSAGE Four in the afternoon, I'm stretched out on the couch like the sunlight on the lawn. Beside me, ice-cubes in a blue glass await my teeth, my nerve-ends. If it was any more over, it would be just beginning. Phone rings. I don't really have to answer, not with my spine pretending its cracked down the middle and my arms and legs, like logs in a stream pressed against the banks by my torso. The dog's of the same opinion. His ears barely twitch at the answering machine's disembodied voice. Sure, leave a message why don't you. As if I'm not a message already.


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Sandra K. Woodiwiss Superior Sings The land is not flat. It slopes and curves and early in the morning the mist in the low areas hide thick and white; from the sun. The glorious morning sun illuminates the very heart of each tree and reflects upon every insect and particle in the air, while in the evening the same sun is not so intrusive; elongating shadows and hiding the doe and her yearling in the twilight shades of dying day. At night I hear Lake Superior sing its shore sounds and not far from my back door I hear the wolf pack howl in praise of another night alive under the stars. Aside from that there is not much else to do around here but go to church and the bar (not bars – there is only one where I live). My dad went to the same bar for years and he died getting off the bar stool that I make a point of sitting on when I go in for my sip of sherry. Joe said he died in the parking lot but Mike said he died right there in the middle of the floor sorta kickin and turnin’ purple. I figured Dad would die pissed off. I sit on the same bar stool and order sherry. First time I ordered sherry Joe sorta smiled. “Not the hard stuff like your old man huh?” “No.” “What are you doin’ here anyway?” Joe asked. I shrugged. Dad left me everything – everything, by accident. The acres of land that his dad handed him and the sound of Superior singing and the wolf pack that howls late at night. I think dad figured he’d live a long time, just to be spiteful but he didn’t and all that money he was socking away working for the state of Michigan, maintaining roads in the Upper Peninsula that only tourist use, come to me. And all the life insurance money that mom thought she’d live to see, well that came to me too. I’m very careful with the money, nothing too opulent for me. That’s what mom would say, “nothing too opulent for me.” Mom liked to read. I remember my mom younger than the day she died; younger with the sun shining on her brown hair, curly and soft against her neck, with her best dress on, pale yellow with a V-neck. She would be sitting in an old wooden chair next to my grandfather – he asleep in a heap and she with a book in her lap, looking toward Superior. She could perhaps hear Superior in the daylight, I never could. I imagine her getting up with her pretty dress swaying about her thin form and walking toward Superior. The big lake I think always loved her; loved her with a soft yet hard passion that some describe as a longing. I think of her walking the slopes and curves of the land, the morning mist parting for her, and she walking to Superior. I wonder now if she didn’t stay for my sake. Mom and I would dream about the little house we would have when dad was gone. The floor to ceiling book cases, the little dormers in our bedrooms and plenty of windows to watch it snow during the winter. That was a bad day, me standing on the outside of her grave with dad breathing heavy and stone cold sober beside me. That was a bad day. Two years later he was gone. I thought perhaps that would be the case, him dying because when mom went he stayed longer at the bar and he was reprimanded at the job for being late. The union protected him; I heard others talking. The union men, they would talk in the bar that Joe and Mike owned. The only bar in a twenty mile radius. It had a pool table shipped in from down below and it had mirrors behind the bar so people could watch people watch each other drink and play pool and dance slow and clumsy. There are no windows in the bar. These men, these union men, seemed to understand my father’s suffering. The men, who with two days beard on them, would throw back a quick one, nod their sage heads and commiserate. Losin’ his wife that way – and his daughter not worth much; only thing she could do was drive down and make sure he got home from the bar. But I didn’t care what they said or thought, I was worried he wouldn’t die with benefits, but he died in time.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

And after he died I took over his bar stool, sipped sherry and talked to Joe and I walk the land to the shore of Superior. Nobody else talks to me, they all pretend I’m not there. Some of the women would talk to me at first, they were a little older and wore too much make up and were too thin but they would talk. But then they grew tired of me and started asking men to dance. I disappeared to them with time. So I sip sherry on the same bar stool my father fell off of while Joe tries to talk some sense into me; that I shouldn’t hang out in the bar when so much of life was goin’ on. Joe has always been nice to me but he never refused a whiskey and soda ordered up by my Dad. Joe would ask me if I had any plans to travel or maybe go away to school. He would tell me about his time in the army and his trip to Vietnam. He asks how the construction of my new home is going– the home my Mother and I planned together for so many years. Joe tells me how lucky I am to have so much land and such a nice little brick house to live in, that Dad had really set me up, too bad my Mom died sort of young. I nod and sip my sherry. “Why don’t you go home and get up in the morning and go to church, find some nice young man there and settle down?” Joe asked me one day. “Mom told me not to look for men in church.” I said it sipping my sherry and maneuvering for a comfortable position in my Dad’s old bar stool. I could tell Joe was about to start laughing really hard but then he looked at me and his big blue eyes sorta got bigger and he said “What?” “Mom said that nice men at church have a funny notion about women and that I shouldn’t go there to look for men – I should go just to worship God.” “So you go to church?” “Sure.” “And what do those men at church say about you coming to a bar?” “They never ask.” “What will you do when they do ask?” I shrugged and looked away from Joe because no one would ask me. Some people at church, they are very nice and call me and tell me if I need anything that I should let them know. I try and get off the telephone with them as quickly as possible and I never hang around after church. They make me nervous when they are people and not a congregation singing or taking communion. They seem to me to treat God like a police officer. I don’t think they are sick but deep down lonely. They are like people in the bar sort of, they talk to each other and not to God. They don’t notice how the sun in the morning shines and the sun in the evening will hide those things living on the land. I feel sorry for them because Jesus made things so hard for us and simple too. I like to think of Jesus talking to women; talking to His mom and to the lady at the well and Jesus just staring at the prostitute at His feet. I think women made Jesus think of Superior singing. “What are you thinking about?” Joe asked one night, a quiet, slow night. “Jesus.” “In a bar?” And I smiled at Joe. The men at the bar really are no different than men in church. That was something I would have to tell Mom when I saw her again. There was Joe all gray and tired looking. He fought in the jungles and lived in Detroit for a while and he smoked pot when a kid. Did he think of God at all? Sure he did, he thought of God keeping score but not as someone to talk to. “I was thinking about when Jesus told the crowds of men that they were guilty of adultery when they thought about adultery.” “He said that?” “Yeah.” “Tough guy.” “He’s God.”


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“Tough God.” “He’s okay though really – God I mean, because He sacrificed His own Son to get us off the hook.” “I don’t know anything about that.” I watched Joe walk away. I had made him uncomfortable. I wanted to laugh out loud but I knew that people really wanted to burn me at the stake already – or put me away. There I was with all of my dead Dad’s money, staying in the middle of nowhere; dirt roads, tiny bar (not bars mind you – we have only one, one gas station and one paved road that the state of Michigan maintains) and thinking about Jesus in a bar and avoiding men at church and listening to Superior sing. I imagine God’s own Son slapping his open palm up against his forehead and saying; “Are you kidding me? I made you. Talk to me, Discuss your desires with me. I know you did your neighbor’s wife in your head while on top of your own wife.” I imagine men around Jesus looking about sort of sheepish and feeling sort of uncomfortable and then Jesus moving in with a zinger – “of course, your own wife was not mentally there because you’re all boring lovers – Yeah she told me.” Then they’d drag Him off and nail Him to a cross. Joe’s wife left him several years ago and everyone knows why but nobody discusses it, that would be bad form, I suppose. Not to me, it’s simply life. Men push things aside and pretend they understand other men who outlive their wives or marry women who are never satisfied; women who think the landscape is romantic and can hear a song deep within Superior. My own Dad woke me up two days before he died. He woke me up rough and smelling of something awful. He told me to make him some coffee but I didn’t want to because after Mom would make him coffee, I would hear her crying in the bedroom. But he shook me again so I got up and made him coffee. He sat at the old kitchen table and watched me. I felt like crying so I talked to God - not talking really, just praying feelings I couldn’t put into words. I went about mechanically putting the coffee together and felt my hands shaking and feeling really cold all over. Then I remembered sitting with my mom the last time. She looked all swollen, but she said she was in no real pain; she was smiling at me and started talking to me. “Debbie,” she said, “Debbie, men of power do not want to save anyone. Men of power want dependency,” continued my Mom. “Jesus went through life so he could stand on rocks and part the Red Sea of loneliness, so He could raise his hands and we would win the battle of raising our children, so He could die on a cross and heal us of snake bites – even though the snakes bite us over and over again and never go away. We can live to run for our lives and meet God, that’s what Jesus did.” I knew she was worried about me. “Don’t worry about me, Mom. Dad won’t live forever.” “You build our little house, I’ll come and visit you.” “I’ll build it.” “If you want men to come, that’ll be okay – I suggest you don’t let them stay.” “What would God say?” “Fine out when the two of you meet,” she said. I only nodded at my mom. But there I stood shivering in the kitchen, the very kitchen where Mom taught me about Jesus and God and I felt all the hate of a dying man bore into my back. I placed the coffee in front of him but didn’t look into his eyes and went back to my bedroom I never stay until the bar closes; I just sit there until I really don’t want to anymore, maybe an hour or two. It’s funny because when I’m in the bar I think, I just want to be in my nice quiet home where no one has lived except me and where I feel my Mom visit sometimes and hear the wolf pack and wait for Superior to sing. He knocked on my bedroom, my Dad did, and the door shook as if Satan himself was demanding entrance. “Monday, I’m making sure you don’t get a dime missy – not a dime. You’ll finally work. The oldest work known to man – if you can get anyone stoned enough to pay for it. That’s three days away little Miss Debbie. It’s my way of making sure you won’t die a virgin – you’ll thank me later.” Even in my terror I had to smile – I had already made sure I wouldn’t die a virgin and something deep down told me he wouldn’t last three days. And he didn’t. Now I pray feelings at church and think of things Jesus would say while sipping sherry on the bar stool my Dad used among other things.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Linville Wiles

Private re: Public I make a phone call just to prove to the people in the room that there is somebody who wants to talk to me, someone who will anyway; that there’s a person out there who will receive my call, respond to my entreaties. They see me smile and nod see me pause, see me laugh, grimace, coo. They don’t know that I beg of you; nor do you know it. You think that I only wanted to talk— because we are friends. You too are in the dark.


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William Doreski A Book Signed by E.E. Cummings After a week of winter break, leaving this town isn’t easy. Shopkeepers nod, and storefronts glitter with unpurchased goods. With a fifty-dollar coupon won in a drawing I choose a book signed by E.E. Cummings not because he’s a favorite but because I envy his neat little scrawl. As we walk up Main Street the slope increases so sharply buildings collapse in our wake. A church javelins its steeple; the town hall shrugs its roof into the street. Now we’re climbing almost vertically, clawing for footholds. Asphalt peels, exposing reddish mudstone ledge. We look back into a hole as deep as the Kimberley diamond mine. The Cummings books is safe in my knapsack. But the motel with our luggage, our parked car, has sunk to the bottom of the world. How can we recover ourselves? The ashen January sunlight coughs up no clues. A chickadee percolates on a scruffy ash tree. We’re alone with this warped landscape. The populace may have escaped through the drain at the bottom of the pit, but where does it lead? Do we live north, south, west, east of this tragedy? A sour breath creeps over the land. We walk in all directions, dragging our feet, and the ancient bedrock quivers with thousands of wordless songs.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Howie Good

NIGHT IN THE COUNTRY There were no sirens, only more stars than I ever remember there being, a whole sky of heretics on fire.


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ROCK, PAPER I had half-hoped, half-expected to see women waving their handkerchiefs from outdoor balconies, men in the street lifting their hats. I can’t remember now why I ever thought I would. It isn’t true that paper always beats rock. Rain falls, equal parts light and dark. I hold the phone to my ear, waiting for someone to finally pick up. Each day brings more of the kind of life that might charm stupid people on smart drugs.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

MAY CAUSE DROWSINESS A man, about my age, on the up escalator clutches a bright yellow plastic bag to his chest. The bag says infinity shoes right on it. Everyone’s head contains all sorts of secret hiding places. I took a pill that may cause drowsiness. In infinity shoes, you could, theoretically, walk forever.


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ART NOTES 1 William Burroughs wouldn’t appear anywhere without his hat. It just swam around inside the clear plastic bag like a goldfish. 2 The first paint was probably animal blood. Art is dangerous. 3 Everything that happens, they say, happens for a reason. The sun will shine for at least another 6 billion years.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Jonathan Alston (De)Constructed 1991: my family moved to Loomis. I was six. I knew no one; I can’t remember now if I even knew anyone back home in L.A. Ryan Dominguez, a chunky half Puerto Rican boy a year younger than me with glasses – my new next door neighbor – welcomed me. From then my growing years roamed summer streets with him, hoping to dig an elaborate tunnel system between our houses to bypass calling or knocking on doors, even evade curfews. We, a pair that teepeed houses late into the night, jumped off roofs into Doughboy pools when parents weren’t home on hot summer days. Whom for years I collected quartz from around the neighborhood in an epic pursuit for crystal (a pile that still lives on the side of my parent’s house, keeping that memory alive). We rollerbladed through town like heirs to a kingdom unnamed and played street hockey in the rain. Each elementary and middle school memory outside classes is dominated by Ryan; I can’t see myself without seeing his round brown face. Summer was our time to conquer. Our parents worked, leaving us free until three in the afternoon. But monotony weighed on our shoulders: we dug too many shallow holes, the quartz weren’t fulfilling our needs, swimming cooled us off but didn’t keep our attention. TVs flickered and we sunk into couches letting the day die, indifferent to losing precious days from summer vacation. Ingenuity, however, found us in our lethargy. In an undeveloped lot behind our cul-de-sac spread a field we eloquently christened the “back field.” No one owned it (we thought), existing only for our pleasure, its sole purpose to coerce anxious kids out of suburbia. For years we played capture the flag in the back field with my older brothers and their friends, getting lost through oak tree labyrinths and barren rolling topography. But my brothers were gone – off to college or moved in with girlfriends or working fulltime jobs – and the field was bestowed without ceremony into our hands. We needed to make something of it, and we intended to do so: A fort erected commemorating the back field. Construction started without delay. It’s hard to imagine our friendship ever existed. Perfect. No flaw in remembering time well placed. But no one can prove what I remember happened. Photographs capture an object’s physical placement, the arrangements of bodies in relation to each other, having no more meaning than the observed orbits of planets. My memories are similar: they are only images, possible fabrications, of experiences in time I associate happening to me, things my mind tries to convince me occurred. Without something to give place to my memories – something to rub between my fingers – no foundation remains to build those memories upon. Perhaps they happened. Perhaps they didn’t. I doubt I can know. No plan whatsoever, just a desire to build drove its construction. And needs for resources: nails, screws, assorted tools, all cannibalized from home. But we lacked wood. Pallets were easy enough; I lived across the street from a contractor who for some reason had plenty to spare. Other pieces we found in the field: an old aluminum pole, some additional decrepit pallets we salvaged, even a few long two-by-sixes. But it wasn’t enough. Weeks scavenging didn’t suffice. No roof; we needed plywood. We scoured the neighborhood hoping someone could depart the precious materials, but nothing. Across the way from our cul-de-sac a new housing development sprouted: half completed home skeletons drifting over the landscape – a fear we imagined for the back field, but willing to fight against. If anyone had spare wood, I was certain those having living house did. We could ask for leftover scrap pieces they couldn’t use and would throw away. I think I heard about that from my dad. Mom agreed to drive Ryan


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and me to the construction site in our blue 1993 Ford Club Wagon; I hoped for the coveted wood, the finale to our fort, being all that separated failure and success. Two weeks completed after acquiring the much needed wood: a glorious fortification for adolescent imagination to fester and grow. I still see the final product tucked beneath a young oak tree. Not some rough lean-to obstruction from hell, no, far from; it was beauty formed by two determined children. Four feet high and twelve feet across; an entrance on either side of the lopsided circle between pallet walls and a patchwork roof of plywood supported by a single chain-link fence pole to avoid sagging. Behind that same pallet hoarding contractor’s house piled an odorous mound of redwood groundcover; it smelled of the coast. We stole near ten three-gallon buckets worth for carpeting, a perfumed touch even girls loved. The fort needed cover from King Road, so in his genius, Ryan suggested pulling flowers and tall weeds from around the back field and stacking them on the roof and against the outer walls. Perfect camouflage from passing cars. I know the fort was real, at least in my mind: a solid memory built with physical objects, something I touched, smelled, something more than an image. I know whenever I see old friends’ houses I can’t help but be drawn back into chaotic worlds in streets wet with laughter. Forgotten toys in boxes my parents ask if I want to keep herald to a time when toys mattered, when they encouraged unrestrained imagination and brought children together in exploring their understood world with limited knowledge. Even photographs immortalizing old clothing styles (favorite shirts and ridiculous hats) tell me I was young, when time was spent with people I now come to know I loved and cherished, far more than my own wellbeing. Memory in things, not about things. Our sweat and blood – I pierced my left palm with a nail falling off the unfinished roof – built that fort – we infused ourselves within it; it became a time capsule for experiences (not just experiences surrounding the fort, but all our young years) that could only be opened by recurring visits to our shelter: a retreat from family obligations, chores, TV shows, video games, from just sitting inside, rotting. We went there to hang out, to talk about stuff, anything: girls we thought were hot; exploring the world and finding Atlantis or buried treasure – there was something out in that field, we knew it; just spend time together as friends away from parents and siblings. The two of us, laughing, sitting, eating lunches, drinking Mug root beer, knowing that this summer, amid all summers, would last; we had the fort, our bodies were rooted against time. Ryan and I would go there on afternoons to talk about Kelleigh most of all – the only female our age living on our block. “I really like her,” I’d say. He’d nod. “She’s amazing,” Ryan would add. “I just don’t know if she sees.” I, the math nerd, he the fat kid, two unfortunate circumstances hindering obsessed boys. We didn’t compete in so many words; more hoped one would end up holding her somehow. “I know. Not just because she’s pretty,” I’d say. “She’s so, I don’t know, fun and stuff, like hanging out with you. But she’s a girl.” “Right? Like a best friend or something. You can talk to her, and you want her around.” “I need to tell her,” Ryan always confessed. School was starting soon, which meant new boys. Less time for familiarity. Seventh Grade meant new students from other elementary schools. “Are you sure?” “I don’t know. I think so. Maybe.” Ryan and I aren’t friends anymore. He graduated five years ago with a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from CALPOLY, has a serious adult job, 9:00 to 5:00 like a sucker, where people rely on him to be responsible, while I now struggle through grad school trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with myself, taping together fragments, hoping someday I’ll have a complete picture to hang on a wall.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

I see him on occasion, around holidays when we’re home with families, celebrating. We don’t celebrate. We say nothing to each other, just a simple wave or head nod recognizing that our gazes met by mistake and must be acknowledged. We seem more real in memory now than in flesh. Skin and bone and blood appear blurry, filtered by distance. I can’t say whether my memories of that summer are real. We put all this time and effort and energy and everything into our lives, constructing memories, having these experiences that create identities and friendships, all fortified by objects associated with being in that moment at that time with that person. And it’s rough. Sometimes you get hurt. Sometimes you fall in love. Sometimes nothing happens. But it all leaves marks, wounds that never heal – never want healing. Visible indications we lived in our past. And when those memories come to the forefront in my brain I become ever more anxious about what I am going to find in them; that perhaps it was all just a dream, some wonderful lucid dream, this beautiful lie I’ve lived but never knew it for falsehood, nothing anchoring stories to their place and time making a physical connection to the immaterial. I’ve wanted to run away, drive out to the back field in the middle of the night and sit cocooned in physical memory, in my past’s historical relics, in the real memory rather than drifting through visions and familiar faces. Nothing new, nothing changing or false, where I knew friendships were tangible. I could still get it back. It was all there – if that edifice still stood – it was all there. If gone, I don’t know what; blankness. That was why I went: September 18th 2010. Nothing felt certain if I didn’t, all held in suspension until I grounded my feet to the earth under the low roof, encased memories, a transmutation device from dreams into reality, from about to being. I walked up the hill on King Road, cars passing my left indifferent, me uncaring. The Congressional Church of Christ guards the hill top with its freestanding bell tower and crucifix, an ensign for its parishioners. And beyond that, the secluded back field. For once panic attacks weren’t nauseating me with nervousness. Instead, I shook. Fingertips tingled. And heat. Even with the lowering temperature of nearing fall, I sweat. Before the tree where I remember the fort huddled under came into view I saw the top of someone’s head: a white baseball cap. Now what? I couldn’t go down with him there, so I walked past noticing his two dogs: a golden retriever and a small black lab smelling around. Bathroom break I thought. Good, he’ll be gone soon. I turned back after wandering a few minutes and headed up the hill for the corner where two fences converged: a welded wire fence marking the back field, the other a wood fence surrounding my old neighborhood. Before we built the fort no property fencing sectioned off the field. Of course, it became our fault they installed it. Once you finish a proper fort it must be used, you can’t just let it sit there hoping for it to entertain you without effort. So we used it. One afternoon we thought it only logical to have a fire. I mean, you’re in nature, hanging out in your new fort, it only makes sense that you would build a fire. Nothing huge of course, everything around so dry; we knew better, we were smart. Safe. It turned out, however, someone did in fact own the property: an older couple who appeared out of nowhere. When they came searching for the source of the smoke, they found us. The fence went up weeks later and has been there ever since. “No Trespassing” signs hung every five or six feet to ensure we never went back. And it worked. I haven’t wandered through the back field since I was thirteen. For years I’ve driven by with the hopes of seeing the fort from the road – just the roof would be enough – to know it still stood. But the trees and underbrush kept it well concealed. Season after season I watched the colors in the back field change, believing that our fort was impervious to the world. But it had been too long for hope to nourish those memories. My eyes needed to work for me, my hands needed to feel. I expected to find my youth out there, not some abstract representation of carefree living, but a tangible object that was me at thirteen – that still was, I hoped. Looking into memory’s view of Ryan, of me, the fort, everything forms into nails and wood, sheltering our impressionable adolescence. A fort thirteen years ago that had since been nothing more than smoke behind my eyes. An object in a field, like a forgotten corpse never buried, continually dying without decay, unseen. Our corpse. Our memory. Me. By the time I mounted the hill again the man and his dogs were gone. It put me at ease until I remembered trespassing. To my surprise all the “No Trespassing” signs were gone, annihilated by age and wear. Or maybe never there in the first place. I can’t remember. Without the signs I shook more, knowing their existence connected the existence of


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the fort and my memories. Around the wire fence weeds stood tall and thick, yellowed from summer. And withered, crunching under foot while I tramped to the converging fence corners. I smelled the coming rain. All the brush and weeds in the back field had been mown down – nothing except sparse groupings of oak trees and a few moss covered boulders. It felt smaller, less powerful without the earth’s hair covering the brown dirt. At least my tree survived, that poison oak infested tree. My feet gained weight being so near. Not there. Not even a trace left. We’d dug a two foot deep hole to build in. Filled up. No wood scraps testified for the fort. Not even a graveyard for a beloved memory, but a new country, a new land, a new planet unmarked by Ryan’s or my life. Our history had been removed from that earth and erased, replaced by false nature. I failed to revisit my past, to keep alive those memories and so they died away and became nothing to the real world outside my imagination. Maybe we never built it. We would never know the difference. If it no longer guards the back field, what assures me that we built in the first place? That fort, fused with memory, and now obliterated by time, by life – my life, my too-busy-to-touch-the-memory-life spent at school and work and with my wife – that sparse landscape tells no stories, holds no keys to doors long since locked by time; knock all I want, no one will ever answer. The tree, the back field; I turned away from it all. Feet heavier than when I arrived. I left the field fenced in, separating me and what I thought used to be a memory. That oak tree will be there for years to come, perhaps for eternity protected by fences and new “No Trespassing” signs. Grasses and weeds will fade from green to gray to tan to gold, living and dying over and over at the pass of seasons; raccoons, squirrels, stray cats, even coyotes, searching for sustenance or rest or protection from summer heat will find their way under its branches. Other kids may stumble upon its sturdy living and come to construct their own fort – or the same exact one, a replica of our own, a reincarnation of dead youthful optimism – over the sacred earth. Or not. Perhaps the tree will die after winters of drought. Or California’s unseen worst winter in thirty years rips the roots from supersaturated soil. Perhaps the owners, following popular interest throughout Loomis, will sell the back field to developers and the tree will be cut down, sold to a carpenter for some cabinets or maybe end up in a wood pile on someone’s patio. It won’t matter because I’ll never see it happen. Once it’s gone, not even recalling its memory will bring it back. The fort exists as a fiction now, no evidence, and so must the tree too follow the fate of my fort and friendship. Ryan dies under the non-existent roof while the tree burns. Or they all evaporate in whiffs of gray smoke; it doesn’t matter how things happen to rot away and lose physical realness, so long as they do, and erase the memories associated with them.


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Kenneth Pobo

SPACKER IMAGINES HIMSELF STARRING IN WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? He’s seen the film 30 times at least, knows his favorite bits of dialogue the way his mother knows verses in Galatians. Ask him why he likes the film so much and he shrugs. Peek at him when he’s watching it and see how he smiles when Bette Davis kicks Joan Crawford at the bottom of the stairs or when Jane serves Blanche a rat. His brother Crick thinks most movies are dumb, prefers NASCAR, beer, and Hooters. The other guys want action films and sports vids. Spacker likes those too, but at night before he falls asleep he thinks his brother is Blanche. He makes plans: tape over the lips, rope around the wrists. His brother looking almost angelic in his sleep.


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Joe Becker Davenport It's the last day of my vacation, and I wait in the hotel’s open-air lobby for the airport shuttle, which, I was told, is running a few minutes late. Bellmen and valets maneuver around, delivering their well-rehearsed greetings to a new rotation of excitable tourists. I sit on a teak bench, luggage in front of me, watching them talk up the hotel's attributes and local happenings, which to a newcomer seems fresh and stirring, but to the soon departing is revealed as contrived, somewhat jaded. But they're good. Sharp, eloquent, convincing in their roles. I should know. I’m an actor. A non-working actor, I should say; in fact, the last time I had a real theatrical part it was abruptly terminated, for the main moneyman ran afoul of sound mind and firm backing (as is sometimes the case). But it’s the reason I'm here. Allow me to set the scene. About eight months ago, my friend, Carl Gaetado, recommended me for a job. It wasn't exactly the kind of work I was trained for (or, for that matter, even knew existed), but at the time my talents were not being put to use for any monetary achievement. He told me to go out to Queens, meet the head guy, just check it out. If it was something I could do, if it suited my personality (which he assured me it did) then it might pay well — and perhaps last longer than my previous job. With rent expected and creditors calling not to extend their best wishes, I donned my jacket and tie, unearthed my elderly neighbor's even more elderly Volvo, and drove over to the east side of the East river. We met in the underground parking garage, at a pre-arranged spot in the back. The job was spelled out to me, in hushed confidence, with my tight-vested assurances. I was gone within a half-hour. It was one of those decisions, like stretching out a night of drinking despite the morning regrets, which I had to deeply consider. Deeply. Not the going out there to interview, seeing what it was about — I'll check anything out that's promising — but rather the conflict I had when I fathomed its utter absurdity, its preposterousness, the banality of its conceit. I don't consider myself a naive man, or have some callow understanding of corporate life, but when it was described to me what I'd be doing I had to review my internal files, scope them for similarities. Nothing found. Of course nothing was found, I thought. Why think otherwise? As for soliciting the advice and opinions of others, I imagined this would prove difficult as well. For how was I to describe this job? And even if I could, wouldn't the raised eyebrows, the incredulous looks, the mocking questions make me look foolish, even parry my legitimacy? Wouldn't all possible explanations stop short like a flattened kickball? Not even Carl Gaetado was of any help. I was on my own with this one. So, after meeting Mr. Jeremiah K. Dilhooly, I moored the job prospect in my mind's harbor for the evening and decided to deliberate upon it the next morning. My dreams were off-kilter, a stumble through a carnival funhouse. I awoke three different times. Then at sunrise I rolled over, grabbed the phone and called Mr. Dilhooly's direct line. I accepted his wellpaying offer. Mr. Dilhooly gave me a string of tasks to accomplish before I was to start. Tailor-made suits — check; proper white-collar haircut — check; wire-rimmed glasses (non-prescription) —check; lease a BMW sedan — check; secure a parking space for it — check. All of this financed through my new corporate account. The morning of my tenure — "eight a.m. sharp" — I pulled up to my designated parking spot — "number eight, remember, Brian, eight and eight" — in an office complex where all the buildings were of similar design and arrangement, although descending in height like a nuclear family posing for a formal photo. Bright concrete structures dominated by skyreflecting glass that gave no other allusion than being erected for the purpose of starched-shirt business. I marched with strained confidence into a lobby of cold marble and polished steel, into its cologne-packed elevator, up to the eleventh floor, and down a busy hallway where my arrival was completely unexpected. At least, that is, until I found my way into the spacious office of Mr. Jeremiah K. Dilhooly.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

"How'd you look coming in?" he said, bounding from his leather chair and rounding the desk. "I told you this was the crucial part. Crucial. Over the phone, when we talked about your first day, I said your entry in here was of the most importance." He sized me up, making sure I fit his expectations. A conspiratorial smile twisted onto his lips, one I knew well from the stage. "So, how'd you do?" "Let's put it this way," I said with knowing affectation, "they'll definitely remember me." I couldn't think of what else to say, only that which he wanted to hear. "Good, good," he said verging on giddiness. It was then I thought of something, and I looked suspiciously to the closed door. "One thing, Mr. Dilhooly. Um...do you have a name for me? Or should I just go by…" Mr. Dilhooly held up his hand, quieting me as he sat back down. The back of his chair reached well above his balding head, like a giant jaw poised to swallow small prey. "Yes, I do. You won't be Brian, you know. You can't. Just can't. So I've come up with another, and it's just a last name. A last name." He shot his hand out dismissively. "These people don't need to know your first name. Why bother? You'll be known simply as Davenport." I couldn't argue with the name: strong, with the syllables rising up and then slamming down like in a rap song. Even would look good on a letterhead, if it ever came to that. "You know," he continued, "this idea wasn't mine, although I like it, really do. Love it." I wanted to interject, tell him it didn't matter what I thought. That I was a professional, a hired face brought in to fulfill a service. But I figured he needed to detox whatever was poisoning him, and besides, I was open to any information that might serve my employment better. After all, I intended to milk it as long as the udder continued to produce. Mr. Dilhooly leaned forward, working his eyes directly into mine, somewhat enthralled by the artifice of the whole undertaking. Certainly on a much deeper level than I was. He said, "My bosses, you know, well, that is, you'll have their cooperation, too. They understand your purpose here, Davenport, and of course you'll be notified prior to their arrival, so they can see how things are working out. Got it?" "Right," I said after a hitch. "So, how does their, uh, presence change things...well, with what I'm supposed to do?" I asked. Mr. Dilhooly threw his hands behind his head, sending his elbows askew like a Turkish dancer. "Not in the least. Not...in...the...least. They will only enhance your..." he paused to deliver a wide, crap-eating smile, "...your aura. Understand?" I wrenched my face into a "gotcha" smirk with a half-wink for good measure. He seemed pleased with that, must have known the look from the movies, for its presentation was purely archetypical. "Take a look at yourself, Davenport," he said as he pointed to the ornate full-length walnut mirror standing in the corner. "Think you can be Davenport? Huh, Davenport?" I cut a fine figure in my dark gray pinstriped suit, tailored as it was to my tall, muscular frame. Alcohol may have ravaged the inside, but the exterior showed little signs of plight. A stern jaw and a serious set of bespectacled eyes stared back at me. I adjusted the tie ever so, and without hesitation said, "Mr. Dilhooly, I am Davenport." With an electronic tablet propped — really, a prop — in my hand like a royal scepter, I emerged onto a vast floor occupied with seemingly hundreds of office cubicles. The room was a half-finished crossword puzzle, some boxes dark, some empty and light, others crammed with equipment and cabinets and furniture and heads. Sea-foam green permeated the space, a color derived from the corporate logo and used in expansive salute on the walls, dividers, and carpet. There was noise, chatter, movement. Phones were ringing, keyboards were clicking, voices ringing out from every direction. Things were happening, business I knew nothing of, and might never know. But did that really matter? Not in the least — my purpose there was antithetical to its designs. I got down to business, but I use the term with some reservation. If work is the expenditure of energy with an output in mind, then this definitely qualified. For, as was implied by Mr. Dilhooly on the occasion of our first meeting, it couldn't have come at a better time; the place was rife with insubordination, dereliction of duty was pervasive, and contentious, malignant viewpoints were running rampant throughout.


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I strode with purposeful ease between the cubicles, peering into many that bore startled, confused faces. Regardless the pleasantness that greeted them, nary a smile twitched my lips. My eyes, pinched to a cross under fake lenses. On such an occasion that someone would meet my intrusion with snide defiance, I would lock-in hard, bullish, then nod mysteriously to no one in the distance. That did the trick. I would consult my non-serviced tablet for vacant messages and let my fingers tap away nonsensical replies, all for effect. Quite often, I would scan the floor like I was a vulture peering down upon a valley with a withering herd. I made sure I was noticed by all, and that all noticed I should be noticed. As I travelled the corridors, I became more comfortable in the setting, in the role. My posture became more erect, my gait firmer of foot. The march was one of authority — assured and tight and vengeful. Mr. Dilhooly told me to do this for some time, as it would set the stage for his entrance. Our scene. At precisely 9:40 — “the time of rendezvous” — he turned the corner from his office and I strutted over to our pre-arranged meeting spot. He gave me a firm handshake, and if I'm not mistaken, a gentle bow. Davenport: the Japanese conglomerate chief. Mr. Dilhooly: the subservient underling. Of course, I gave a strong nod in appreciation to his deference. A good foot shorter with a rounded stomach and bulbous hind side, Mr. Dilhooly was dwarfed by my stature to good effect. I eased my hand upon his upper arm as if to say, "I got this, old boy, don't you worry." All around I noticed employees craning heads and stealing looks in our direction. Phone calls were abruptly ended and the constant clickity-clack tapered away like birds settling in for sundown. We couldn't have been more pleased. We began walking the corridors between quieted cubicles, saturating our voices with buttery complexity from which every so often lofted words of corporate-parlance: "integration," "synthesis," "personnel reallocation," "concurrent strategies," "re-org," "financial perspective." (Mr. Dilhooly gave me a printout to study). Periodically, I would slowly shake my head in confirmation to Mr. Dilhooly's meaningless whispered words, and then submit vaguely audible replies back into his ear. We would stop, together, mulling the blackness contained within my tablet, then move on. Wherever we went, vibrant conversations simmered into murmurs, with silent exchanges passed between perplexed, indignant faces. We were mimes performing in a park, and like the burdened traveler who encounters a similar troupe, the audience that day couldn't have been more annoyed, more put upon, by what they were witnessing. That night I slumbered like an overworked child, but I wouldn't at all say I was overworked. Quite the opposite, in fact. You see, Mr. Dilhooly requested I be in the office only until noon that day, to leave the premises as an apparition whose motives should be pondered. So, before the typical lunchtime departures, I made a hasty exit in the BMW and headed for home. Well, home being Manhattan, but not home itself. I headed down the block to my local watering hole, where I was conscious of keeping my profile low by tucking myself into a shadowy crevice in the back. (This was just a suggestion of Mr. Dilhooly’s in case I should I find myself frequenting any public establishment. Although, I must say it was construed more as a demand, given the intonations were coated in a veneer of paranoia.) But I was okay with this, just as I was when he called the next morning to state I should take the day off. He wanted to let my aspects simmer some; massage into their consciousness, "to gain a foothold" is what I think he said over the phone. He was monitoring my effect, he explained, judging it in incremental steps as one would "an introduced pathogen." I didn't take this personally. How could I? It meant I was working. Money to pay bills, rent, and the bar tab I accrued as I drank my day away in the back of the corner bar. I returned to the office mid-week with a slight hangover in tow. As Mr. Dilhooly made clear upon my arrival, certain "hot spots" within the office were fulminating discontent and were beginning to erode his patience. He was jittery, on edge, empty diet sodas splayed about his desk in unthinkable numbers. It was rather obvious even to an untrained eye that he was collapsing under some weight, and not only that which was attached to his frame. In staccatos of the tongue he managed to describe the various malcontents who were breeding and multiplying throughout the office, who were spawning their menace upward. He seemed wary, even to himself. For Mr. Dilhooly, the source of the scourge at the moment was well defined: a division in the southeast quadrant. "Davenport," he spat out with agitation, "it’s all internal in-fighting and subterfuge over there. Plays for supremacy. Every fucking day. I can't handle it anymore. I just can't, Davenport." Just by looking at him I could tell he was clinging to the frayed end of a rope. The man was borderline delirious.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

I began pacing the room with a look of feigned concern and contemplation, when in fact I was co-opting the moment for a bit of private questioning. Firing? Hiring? Training? Couldn't he go that route? Then I remembered our initial conversation in the parking garage, how the topic hung out there, a moth that neither of us wanted to kill. Then, without much prompting, Mr. Dilhooly swatted it down. He explained how those things were too costly and a pain to deal with. He had quality people, albeit freewheeling people, and they only needed a slight tweak in attitude. He wanted obedience, respect. Plain and simple. It made sense to me at the time, even if the scheme seemed absurd. I had nothing of consequence to say to him so I sat back down and muttered a few expletives out loud, just to get on the same page. Hell, I figured he could use a few more to his repertoire. I cracked open a diet soda and choked down a sip. "Davenport, I've been seeing some positive results over the last few days," he said in a more chipper tone. "A calibrated readjustment of attitudes. Sure have. But these recurring issues, Davenport, I need to nip ‘em in the bud." We agreed the time was opportune for my direct deployment into areas troubling him the most. Well, he sort of forced my agreement. With acidic determination, I headed toward the building's southeast quadrant to quash the meddlesome situation. When I got to QSE2 (there's also a 1 and 4, but 3 had inexplicably been decommissioned, now a vast storage space), I encountered several employees inside one of those larger-than-normal cubicles (the kind that tells someone that you’ve achieved a level of status somewhere between being granted an office door and being shown the door.) Inside, a couple of women were sitting and staring at a colorized computer spreadsheet. Drifting off to the side was a young man and two women, seemingly lacking the desire to engage with the others. They were quietly talking amongst themselves, apparently collaborating on a ruinous scheme of sabotage. To be honest, I wasn't sure if that was the case, but what the hell did it matter to me. My presence there would obviously add some value, achieve some net result, to the underlying strife suffocating the company. And, as far as I could tell, a certain amount of tension did fill the air. With a soulless gleam in my eyes, I stood at the entry and remained ominously still. It wasn’t long before they realized it; one by one they followed each other’s sightline that ended at the countenance they all knew as Davenport. I lifted my tablet and made random punches to the screen, keeping my eyes resolutely focused on it, but also letting my peripheral vision capture their echoless indignities and frustrations. The guy standing with the women took a few purposeful strides towards me. His demeanor was casual, no different from his outfit: olive-colored khakis, loafers, rumpled dress shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest. He had shaggy hair, scattered about in some hip, meaningfully way and he was trying to remain aloof, unfazed, a summer concertgoer with time gently unspooling about him. He drew his hand towards me, firm, almost straight except for the self-assured backward bend at the wrist. "Hey, I'm Vinny," he said, seizing my hand. I clamped down tight to it, but he was up to the pressure. "Davenport," I replied. He kept smiling, "So, you a contractor? Noticed you in the building the last few days." "No, on staff. Permanent," I said. "Oh, cool. What division are you with, Mr. Davenport?" I paused to recall if Mr. Dilhooly ever gave me instructions on what to say if such a question were ever asked, and I couldn't. I was blank, but I’m an actor, so I winged an answer. The delay added an element of poignancy along with its evasiveness. "Internal." I stared him down, letting my response bounce around inside his head and rebound off his eyes, making them twitch rapidly as they attempted to canvass my own for more information. None was forthcoming. I left Vinny like this and moved on. And on. For weeks, months. Conducting similar operations throughout the floor, along the corridors, in the break rooms, the bathrooms, the elevators, places where the hushed refrain of "Davenport" elicited trepidation, and where my sight battered employee consciousness with dread. I had the perfect hours — at most, twenty hours a week — which only worked in my favor. I was spectral, haunting, illusionary, and, ironically, omnipresent. It didn't take long before Mr. Dilhooly started seeing the place mold to his liking, and he was fond of telling me as such on the occasions when we met to discuss


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problematic areas. He was the unseen hand, and I was his puppet appendage, who under stark, umber-fluorescent lights and a slight of face, sought out the master's reparations, unapologetically and remorselessly so. Over time, I became more emboldened, callous, some would say sinister, perpetrating the most craven form of persuasion known throughout the ages. History is full of Davenports, I thought to myself, those who are shamelessly on vigil for the blood of the weak, the shepherds for the strong arms, the ones who do dirty work in lands made dirty by dirty people. There's always a Davenport, sometimes in multitudes. But I told myself it was just a job and that I was good at it, a natural with a professional disposition. This was true, indeed. Late one evening, as I pickled myself in a dank pub, Mr. Dilhooly called my apartment and left a message: "Davenport? Need you in here at eight a.m. tomorrow. Listen, we're gonna turn the dial up on this operation." I could detect a quaver of anxiety working through his words. The next morning — a sunny Friday morning — I entered a semi-filled elevator with semi-cheerful people who would count each passing hour with a greater euphoria than the last. A few spoke of weekend plans, some laughter about a kid's soccer match. The music inside was upbeat, jazzy. I stood silently in the back (eighth floor), gazing straight ahead (ninth floor), without a word to anyone (tenth floor). Just to my right was a brash junior executive type. When the doors came ajar he waved me towards the opening like he was ushering a frail lady through a turnstile. I kept my eyes forward and pointed him out the opening, deadpan like Schwarzenegger's Terminator. His head resolutely fell, crestfallen. He then scampered away to join the rest of the colony in the sea-foam green nest. After turning the corner of Mr. Dilhooly's office hallway, I noticed a woman coming out. She was lanky and hunched, a pageboy haircut as top-dressing to an ashen, slack, drawn-out face, one that could only have been created by years of cigarettes, booze and ambivalence. Her yellow-and-black plaid dress and matching pocketbook were pure Madison Avenue couture, and her alabaster legs, marbleized by vacant veins, tapered down into knotty oak switches with Manolo Blahnik’s afoot. She passed me without a word or nod. When I entered Mr. Dilhooly's office he was nervously rapping his pen to his desk, staring at the speakerphone. From out of the plastic box a woman's voice harangued him without pause, complaining of some imbroglio occurring in marketing. Mr. Dilhooly was flustered, half-listening as he spat out a muddled volley of "yes, yes, yeses.” He must have seen my shadow overtake his desk, because he looked up with the delight of a wounded soldier who seeks succor from a morphine toting medic. His pen halted its dance and he leaned his mouth into the speakerphone. "Nancy, I got the solution. Be advised, this will be handled, in full, by day's end." Mr. Dilhooly took out a pad of paper and he didn't stop writing until the top sheaf was a peahen scratch-up — crossed out meanings, lopsided words, open-ended quotes, ideas in margins. He slid it to me and I looked it over. "Want me to type something up for you?" I asked. "Do what you want with it. Re-write it. Frame it. Wipe yourself with it. I don't care. Just handle that," he said, pointing emphatically to the speakerphone. His head was a raging red boil. "Okay,okay," I said, trying to calm him. "You want me to hang around marketing for awhile then?" He was looking through me as if I were a hollowed-brain zombie. I immediately got the point. "You mean have a talk with them? Mr Dilhooly, well, you know I think that might be beyond the parameters..." Mr. Dilhooly dropped his head into his hands, collapsing with it the meaning of my unfinished statement. "I was told you could ad lib this shit if need be," he whimpered. "What's his face, that guy...that guy?" "What guy?" I asked. "He said you were a great actor. Fire and brimstone and all that crap." "You mean, Carl Gaetado?" "Yeah. Yeah, Gaetado. That's it. Please, Davenport, just handle it. Please. I promise there's something in it for you." My flummoxed expression was silent and sincere. “A vacation. A vacation on me," he said.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

I steeled my eyes into narrow slits, "Which quadrant?" This particular branch of marketing wasn't within the main complex of quadrants, rather it resided in an area I hadn't yet seen, or, for that matter, even knew existed. Blended into the sea-foam green walls of QNW4 was a single door. It opened to a blast of cleaning fluids that my prevented deep breath and clear thought. Down a long, white hallway I stared. It had a cold linoleum floor with speckles of vibrant colors and antiseptic residue. At its end, a single glass door. Mr. Dilhooly had made arrangements for all hands in marketing to gather in the room behind it. I held my breath and made my way to it, but before turning the handle I noticed a calendar hanging inside the office. Aside from it, the wall was bare and white. October’s picture had a tropical setting in aerial view — pool, thatched huts, ocean of azure, sandbar in the distance. I stared at it for some time, long and hard, internalizing my speech while taking in its beauty. Inside, about fifty people were sitting in several rows of foldout chairs. There didn't seem to be a Nancy anywhere around, only a guy in a plaid suit there to introduce Davenport to his solo performance. I stood there ridged-backed and taciturn as he began to issue his primer, the declaration of the record as it was thus far. I raised my hand for him to stop, just stop the useless preliminaries. He sat down and I stepped forward, front and center, looking each and every one of them square in their eyes, taking my sweet, caustic time. From there I spat out the most foul-mouthed, tyrannical, and disturbing performance I had given in my entire career. I exited the room in silence. Not a single utterance of rebuttal was issued before the door slammed shut behind me. Finally, the airport shuttle arrives. I board and take a seat in the back. I look out the window, past the reception desk, and into the lobby overlooking the ocean. An ominous front appeared this morning, its grey vapor mass bullying its way over the horizon as it rolled in from the east. A light rain was now beginning to drop on the coastline, and soon the rest of it will overshadow the island's luster, turning aqua blue waters a hue darker, snuffing out its cheer. In the lobby, a man reclines on a wicker couch and reads the local newspaper. He seems content — the solitude, the surroundings, hell, even the impending weather couldn't douse his tranquility. I want to get off the bus and sit down next to him, pick up a portion of his paper, slip into recline as I osmose his vibe a minute or two. I’d read and wait, wait there anticipating eye contact, and then I would ask him this question: "Do you know anything of this Davenport?” It's been less than a week since I've returned from vacation and I've spent more hours hiding in dark corner bars than roaming the corridors of Queens, and I'm feeling the reverberations. Like tonight: early beers, late shots. When I finally ramble to my apartment, it's no surprise the ringing I hear (aside from my skull) is a call from Mr. Dilhooly, summoning me to his office the next morning. “Eight a.m. sharp,” he says. I assume the purpose of his invitation to be the typical one: a debriefing of employee morale/attitude/compliance and a plan of action. Once in his office, he points brusquely towards a chair. He picks up his handkerchief and mops his brow, clearly strained by foreboding thoughts. With reservation, he explains that "a higher-up" is preparing to stop by during peak work hours the following day, and that I'd better be prepared. I think back to a previous conversation along these lines, many months prior, but its significance washes by, like a branch caught up on the precipice of a dam — stable, teetering, gone. I ask him what time I should be in his office to meet this person, to hash things over. “No, Davenport. She wants to see you in QC.” “QC?” I ask. “Quality control? I thought that was me,” I say through a static grin. He breathes in deep, exacerbated by either my smart-ass comment or by the fact I fail to grasp the context. "QC, quadrant central. You know, right smack in the middle of the office." He downgrades his tone as he capitulates to the facts, "Same act, different person. You see, Mrs. Averton, she essentially owns the operation here, and I have to...I'm just, um...you see, um, I didn't think, um..." His stumble has no escape valve, so I relieve him of his burden. "That it'd be her coming in?"


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"Exactly." I watch as Mrs. Averton lurches down the central corridor, slowly making her way to meet me. Every so often I lift my head from my electronic tablet, wondering if she'll even make it this far. She moves in spurts and starts, like my neighbor's Volvo, and if she responds in the least to the few people acknowledging her arrival I find it hard to detect. Her yellow-and-black plaid attire has now morphed into yellow-and-red, but everything else, unfortunately, is spot-on as I remember it. She extends her hand to me; it's sinewy and claw-like and maximizes the flesh with a double-take of platinum and jewels. She grabs my left hand awkwardly and angles her draconian eyes within a ruler's length of my own. My name garbles out from deep within the recesses of her throat. "Davenport?" "Pleasure," I lie. She menacingly scans the floor, reminding me of a queen making an appearance at an art museum whose works she's always deplored. She mutters something I don't quite get. Her voice is like cement pouring down a chute. Words fumbling out that are directed at nobody and everybody. I'm confused, stage struck, but I go with it — a rapt audience is in wait. We exchange a few seemingly pertinent remarks, but they seem to fall short. I find myself following her lead, a supporting cast mate drearily pantomiming along with her mumblings. I treat her revelations as imperial as I slowly nod my head. Just to mix it up, I shake negatively with derision. Every so often she points around half-heartedly, a bit wearily, as if the act alone takes some effort. Maybe it does. Faces begin extending over cubicle walls and around corners, slack-jawed but stiff, taking in this confluence of overreaching opposites stuck in a pathetic tableau. My stomach churns with the realization that our act doesn't have a granule of conviction at its core. I am Davenport neutered. Instinctually, I clutch my tablet and peer into it. It’s an escape ploy to avert the truth, but it’s also a messenger. I had typed one lone phrase into the screen: "Need drink fucking now." Plainly tired and sick of it, it’s to my relief that I see Mrs. Averton wearing down herself. Her entire spirit is under duress, dissipating from a lack of a drink or drag or both. With heavily studded hands, she brushes out her dress and heaves her purse high upon her shoulder, gestures meant to cap off a convincing performance. I watch with revulsion as she leans forward, wobbling sideways either from exhaustion or chemical need, thrusting her crackled, red-glossed lips against my left ear. I lean in. A curt goodbye, a thanks perhaps? No. She whispers, "Have you met my granddaughter?" We move past quizzical heads and a staff scurrying to redirect their path, towards the far corner of QNW4, towards the camouflaged door. The hallway is still laden with the smell of chemicals, empty and cockroach-free. With chin up and chest out, I stagger to Mrs. Averton’s pace, trying hard not to project the image of someone who may soon vomit. I picture it like this: Mrs. Averton introducing me, with as much glee as she can muster, to a granddaughter I unmercifully lambasted a few weeks prior. Along with the rest of marketing, she will blaze their fury at the sight of me, and justifiably so. My head will heave, heart will thump, my pores will pump sweat. White noise will saturate my skull. I will stand there at their mercy, reviled up close in their stark fish bowl, eyes penetrating and accusatory. I will be forced to shake a hand or two, plaster together a clown’s face as Davenport is distilled into his essence. "This way," she grumbles, backslapping the air in front of her. She notices my hesitancy and stops, casting a glare at me like I was a traitor heading for the peasant's revolt. Somehow, my feet follow. From behind the door discordant echoes cut through the whiteness. They get louder and louder. Mr. Dilhooly gets closer and closer. He opens the door. "Mrs. Averton, Mrs. Averton, please," he yells. She doesn't stop, there’s no recognition of his thunder as she keeps lurching towards marketing’s glass door. Is she fully deaf, I wonder? Mr. Dilhooly races forward, huffing and panting, waddling like a sea lion under duress, vociferously exhorting her to return to the main office with frantic waves. "No, no, she's very busy. Deadlines, Mrs. Averton, deadlines." I stand there dumbfounded, motionless as a look of disgust sweeps across Mrs. Averton's face when she finally turns and sees him. Mr. Dilhooly takes her by her fragile arm and whisks her back down the hallway. He's explaining himself with words I fail to comprehend. Then again, I'm tired of trying to understand. I'm tired of the whole damned charade. A once respected actor, now disgraced. I feel dizzy, like I’ve stood up too fast.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

I push out into the sea-foam world and see Mr. Dilhooly cradling Mrs. Averton, officiously escorting her through the office, hushing placations into her ear as one would a troubled child in a marketplace. Noise, chatter, keyboards are at work, sounds of the century. Heads are down with tasks diligently realized. I stand alone, marginalized and impotent. My work here is done, but for one last thing. I reach for the nearest phone and get the main receptionist on the line. "Connect me to marketing, please," I request without urgency. Moments later, I walk into a room where nothing but an encore performance is expected. The faces are sullen, beleaguered. I constrict my lips into a forced smile and clasp my hands together. "Listen, I just wanted to tell everyone here, real briefly now, then I'll get out of your way, let you go about the fine work you've been doing, that Mr. Dilhooly has approved each and every one of you for a twenty-five percent bonus." The room erupts, a cacophony of hoots and whoops resound off walls that only recently held in static breaths. "Effective next paycheck. Instituted quarterly as well, if all financial goals are duly met. He wanted to tell you himself, but, as you know, he's busy. Busy with deadlines. Keep up the good work and enjoy your week." I shimmy through the quadrant's passages, lighthearted and effervescent, stopping into cubicles along my way to the exit, delivering the good news to employees as the whim hits me. Hands are privately slapped, mouths are agape, gratitude secretly extended. After all, I’m Davenport, and I deserve an exit with an ovation. Outside of the office complex, the day is bright, cloudless and crisp. The distant jingle of an ice cream truck wafts through the air. I open the door to the BMW and think about where I'll dispose of this box of metal; in front of a fire hydrant outside Carl Gaetado’s apartment complex? More than likely I’ll just throw it behind some grimy, low-heeled bar before I make my way in. Why not drink the day away? I've just been given a raise.


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Jessica Tyner Genetically Isolated Since the Ice Age I starved myself down the wrong way not with a wailing stomach and day-long naps but with the kind of hunger you reserve for pure hatred (or fear) I was an animal gutting turkeys and chewing through the cow’s gristle pushing through bags of raw vegetables and passing on all the offers of sweet whiskey, the good bread puddings and perfect gin martinis with perfect slices of ice that had kept me warm and fat bundled in thick layers of subcutaneous blubber for all those lonely years I hadn’t sprung up like a flower and I didn’t wither like one either Not me, for me it was the failing predator’s way a flailing Kodiak bear dragging a rusted trap in my wake so you can all see where I’ve been until the starvation caught me tackled me to the earth and I breathed in the musk of where we’re all going the embrace turning more tender as the weight sloughed off until all that’s left is a solid block of sharp bones wrapped tight in a fancy pantsuit of new muscle so young and so shiny and so utterly unlike who I am or who I thought I was I don’t know how to wear it right and it’s just so painfully heartbreakingly obvious I’m playing dress-up in a closet I don’t belong


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Matthew A. Toll Blurry Night Black and white scenes newspaper music drowned in smoke, eggs, and sausage; sweet scents in the nest, a bittersweet moon on the decline to a restless grave for 16 hours. Drunken sleep in a cold coup made up of mad concertos, cellos flying in the background, melodies strung tree to tree like a hammock connecting time to time to time to forever. Through the broken window screen I see the swan floating down the steady current boulevard, soaking in lively sun. At the moment, 3pm, I have a cold beer, rent paid, halfpack of smokes, and the hope of one conscious mind somehow coming together. But still I see the swan everywhere I go even in the shallowest dirt puddle, and he’s blue, and it doesn’t make sense, and he scares me because I know what he wants. I won’t let him take the bread, the beans, the bed, no, or the yellow flowers from the alleyway outside. I still see him floating the concrete stream waiting for me to sleep as day fades to night


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without fair notice. We lock eyes in the last blink of twilight and somehow I know he won’t get me, not tonight anyway. I smile and wonder what time it is.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Curious Eyes I’ve seen a thousand things in this life but none beautiful as the midnight summer fly circling the streetlamp for heat, smart enough to avoid the sun still stealing its power for himself. A clever fucker with curious kaleidoscope eyes peaking into any, every universe that’s out there to see. Then he’s gone into any one of his choosing never seen again.


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Life & Death Seesaw between a slow drip I.V. Honey through high strung veins at the push of a button by a trigger finger ready to twitch. Again death reigns, like a tyrant til the city falls, or a whore with her skirt up at a party. Funny how those in this world who sketch thoughts of death in my notebook breath the most life to the blank pages. And outside a wagon rattles on, proving I’m still alive.


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DH Hanni Secrets and Lies I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old. There is a fine line between a secret and a lie. A secret is a lie waiting to be revealed. As a priest, I am trained to hold all of what I hear in the strictest confidence, but it is a tiresome burden. I am 65 years old and have spent my adult life listening to both from my parishioners as they look to God for absolution. But it is my own secret, learned at that tender age, which shames me. The act of confession is therapeutic. The priest and confessee remain anonymous, but that only works in cities. I, Father France Campion and another man, are the only two priests at Blessed Madonna in the dusty outskirts of Mexico City. We see the same people each Sunday and during the daily masses held in our wooden, Spanish colonial style church, so we know the voice of each person. If I was inclined, I could write dozens of books based upon what I have heard these past four decades. I have heard the smallest of children, before their first Communion, shy to confess their ‘sins’ of making their siblings kiss a lizard or sneaking off with an extra concha late at night. I have collected dark secrets from teenagers swollen with shame after their first sexual encounter while hearing depths of despair from their parents confessing love for someone other than their spouse. Some try to justify their actions, craving that absolution yet I hear no repentance in their voices. I may be giving the impression I am jaded but I have not always been this way. I grew up in Spain, the eldest son of a French farmer and Spanish mother, both strict Catholics who preferred Mass said in Latin to the modern Masses given in Spanish. My parents were loving, warm people who raised my three younger brothers and me to be modest and pious men. Before I was even an altar boy, I loved the Church. I held a special reverence for Father Joaquin Alvarez and the local Bishop, Jorge Flores. Despite his small, stocky stature, Father Alvarez’s booming voice echoed off the stone walls of the church that dated back to the Middle Ages. His voice made me feel as if the voice of God himself spoke. But his voice was not an angry voice, no, it was deep and emotional. I recall my mother, grandmother, and two aunts weeping. Their tears, not from misery but from the Holy Spirit entering them like water lapped up by a parched plant on a summer’s day, mixed with sweat. In stark contrast, Bishop Flores, was a tall, lanky man with a watery voice and eyes that shifted around until he put his glasses on. He came to our village once a year around the festival honoring the appointed saint of our village, St. Isidore the Laborer. Father Alvarez and the village went to great efforts to make the Bishop comfortable during his stay. The festival honoring St. Isidore lasted a week. It started on May 7th with a special Mass and ended each May 15th when the Bishop recited Mass instead of Father Alvarez. Our village would shut down. Children would not go to school, the men would not work except to construct a gazebo for the party the night before May 15th, and the women would do nothing but cook and bake. I remember the first time I participated in the festivities. I was six, my first year in primary school, and looked forward to Bishop Flores’ visit. We children in the primary school, perhaps 15 at the time, were put in charge of bringing in various materials to create a wreath and crucifix. This special gift would be presented to the Bishop on May 14th as part of the programming before the big dance. The wreath itself was made of citrus leaves from my family’s orange and lemon trees, olive leaves, and barley. The primary school children would work on it while the older children, those in compulsory secondary education, created the crucifix from olive leaves, Jesus Christ from cornstalks, and cotton dyed from the juice of sugar beets for the stigmata. Besides the wreath and crucifix, costumes had to be made, always by the older girls, and the set used for the play reenacting the Saint’s life had to be repainted. That year, two of the older children, Juan Lopes and Maria Garcia, were chosen to play St. Isidore and his wife, Maria de la Cabeza. But I wasn’t interested in acting or sewing or painting, I was terrible at those things. No, the role I most coveted was the child chosen to present the wreath and crucifix to Bishop Flores. Father Alvarez would make the decision, so all week I was


Hidden Animals Issue 1

extra helpful to show him what a responsible young man I was. I rushed around to make sure he and the Bishop had plenty of fresh water to drink, yelling at my classmates to be quiet during the rehearsals, and staying late to clean the church. Father Alvarez would not make the decision until the day before the grand pageant. I was on pins and needles during this time. I must have licked my lips a hundred times anticipating his announcement. I still remember his beaming face as he called my name. I can’t even begin to tell you how overjoyed my parents were! My grandmother swelled with pride at how blessed our family was. This was the year my grandmother won best paella, the Bishop’s favorite dish. She refused to give away her secret, even to my mother and aunts, but I recall her sneaking off to feed a very fat rabbit. I never did see that rabbit after the festival. The next day, we made our way to the light colored stone church. The brilliant sun heated it to a temperature I equated to what Hell felt like. I resolved to myself to be as good as possible so I could spend eternity in comfort in Heaven. I remember sweating so much, both from nerves and the sweltering heat, I was certain the fabric of my navy blue wool suit had turned black. I broke away from my family and went to Father Alvarez. The children who weren’t acting in the play as animals, lined up at the back of the church awaiting our turn to sing hymns. As I watched the older children go through St. Isidore’s life, the heat started to melt the petroleum jelly my mother had slathered into my chestnut brown hair. I tried to put the slimy sensation, which oozed down my neck, far from my mind when it was our turn to sing. As Father Alvarez marched us down the cobblestone aisle, I tripped on a loose stone but caught myself before I fell. I steadied myself, mentally repeating the speech I had memorized for the presentation. We took our places in front of the altar. Throughout the performance, I fought back the urge to wipe the salty jelly from my brow even as it stung my eyes. A couple of times I could not resist scratching my neck where it, sweat, and wool suit met. My grandmother’s hawkish eyes disapproved so I withdrew my hand. I don’t remember singing but I must have mouthed the words because I my mother beamed at me throughout the performance. After the last song, Maria Garcia, still dressed as St. Maria de la Cabeza, handed me the handmade wreath and crucifix. During the week, I watched Maria transform ordinary cornstalks into Jesus. His face did not reflect pain or sadness like the crucifix in the church, but instead wore a serene mask. She had dyed small bits of cotton with the juice from the sugar beets and affixed those onto Christ’s suffering body. Bishop Flores noticed, too, for he was always patting her back and looking over her shoulder at her artistic work. Maria gave me a wink and a warm smile which revealed perfect teeth. She wore a plain linen dress which swept the floor while her shiny raven-colored hair was plaited in a French braid that hung down her back. With her hand upon shoulder, she escorted me to where Bishop Flores sat. Fear seized me as I stood before the thin Bishop Flores dressed in his embroidered red, gold, and white frock, eyes wandering all over the place. I could not help but stare at those eyes, waiting for them to focus. Instead they seemed more intent upon Maria’s visage than mine. My mind went blank as I opened my mouth. Maria gave me a little push while my grandmother glared at me but nothing came out. Those eyes just frightened me too much. Bishop Flores tried to spur me on. “What do you have in your hands, my child?” He smiled, exposing yellow teeth, the effect frightening me more. His hands stretched out to receive the wreath and crucifix. Maria gave me another nudge and I almost dropped the wreath. “This is a gift for you,” I began in a measured voice, concentrating on his nose, the only normal thing on his face. “This is a gift for you, Bishop Flores. It is made from the labor and love of God’s children. We remember Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and St. Isidore, the patron saint of farmers. We celebrate his compassion towards the poor and animals and his piety.” I finished and ham-fisted it at him. “Thank you, my child.” Bishop Flores, eyes stilled a moment as he looked at Maria before he got up, and faced the congregation. In his watery voice, so thin every person had to strain to hear it, he said, “Each year, this village’s hospitality renews my spirit. The devotion of every single man, woman, and child shown here to God and Jesus Christ renews my faith. You truly embody the virtues of St. Isidore and St. Maria de la Cabeza. “The gift of the crucifix is something I cherish. Each one is unique and special just as all God’s children are. Thank you, and go in peace and be blessed.” He made the sign of the cross, everyone imitating him.


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Maria led me to my family as the Bishop led the congregation from the church. My parents, grandmother, and aunts all congratulated me as we headed back to our home. We changed our clothes into something much cooler and carried enough food to feed an entire army back to the church. The fading sun illuminated the stone church in blood red light as a gentle late spring breeze came in to cool us off. The gazebo built by my father and the other men was decorated in vivid flowers and lanterns hung from the roof, bathing it in a soft yellow glow. Laughter, dancing, and the shouts of children running around filled the night air. The parents all danced waltzes accompanied by Father Alvarez’s honking accordion. I do not remember seeing Bishop Flores but I was too engrossed in the game of hide-and-seek with my classmates. After several rounds, it was my turn to find my friends. I knew none hid near the gazebo, too obvious. The best places to hide were the church and Senor Garcia’s barn. Senor Garcia was the richest man in our village and Maria’s father. I rushed first to the barn, following his horses’ nervous neighing. I immediately found the Dominguez twins hiding behind hay bales. Before they left, they whispered to me where Pedro had been hiding. I shinnied up the ladder. Because of the dark, I ran right into a wall, loosening some tools. Unable to contain himself, Pedro giggled. I groped in the dark before finding his arm and yanking on it. He cried out, cussing at me. I threatened to tell his mother but in exchange for my silence, he told me where I could find Lucia, the last person left. I thanked him for the information and watched Pedro run back to the gazebo. As the night darkened, we brought out more lanterns. Without anyone noticing, I snatched one and made my way to the church. As I got closer, I stopped, opened the lantern, and turned the flame down low, burning my fingers in the process. I circled the church once, quiet as possible, but didn’t see Lucia. I heard a noise, like something had been knocked down but then I heard footsteps. Thinking Lucia must be inside the church, I slowly opened the wooden church door. It creaked. I froze, listening. Muffled grunting and a woman’s sobs. I pushed the door a little more, the faint lantern light casting a shadow on the cobblestone floor. The grunting continued as did the sobbing until a voice said, “Please, Bishop, please stop.” I frowned. It sounded like Maria Garcia’s voice but why would she be in a dark church with the Bishop? A hand clapped over her mouth. “Shhhh, Maria, my child. Just a few moments longer.” The grunting continued as the sobs came in intermittent intervals. I dared go no further. Something told me what I had just heard was wrong but I was also confused. What exactly had I heard? Maybe Maria was helping the Bishop but why was she crying and saying “No”? I retreated in silence and dropped the lantern on the way back to the party. Finding Lucia no longer on my mind. I was panting as I reached my grandmother. She asked what was wrong and I used the opportunity to catch my breath to decide if I should tell her what I had heard in the church. I was not sure and did not want to risk getting punished for telling a lie. Through my childish confusion over the scene, I decided to not say anything. So I just blurted out I had failed to find Lucia in our hide-and-seek game. My grandmother laughed, pointing to Lucia who was eating a piece of cake. After that evening, each time I saw Maria, she looked tired and sad. She did not smile and withdrew from interacting with people until one Sunday, late in the summer, I ceased to see her at all. I heard from the women in my family, she had been sent away, possibly to university to study art. But my friends overheard their mothers say Senor Garcia sent Maria away to a convent. The following February, it was unusually cold, Senor Garcia introduced to the congregation his newborn son. His and Senora Garcia’s ‘unexpected miracle’ from God. My passion for the church continued to grow as I matured into my teen years, although some nagging sensation, something I didn’t fully grasp until I graduated from seminary school, bubbled inside each year at the St. Isidore festival. After my own turn as wreath bearer, I never paid much attention who was chosen. But there was one year, I believe I was 14 at the time, a thin eight-year-old boy, with distinctive wandering eyes, was chosen. These past decades, almost 60 years since the incident in the church, have done little to assuage my silence. I grew to understand I was an unknowing accomplice. I spoke to my mentor, Father Guillermo Lopes, about the event. He assured me the shame and guilt I felt was unfounded. After all, how could a child comprehend? I argued I knew something was not quite right. I had even contemplated telling my grandmother but stopped myself. Again he used my age and urged me to not only ask God for forgiveness but to forgive myself. At six-years-old, I learned a secret and a lie were sometimes the same thing.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Gina Vargas

Zoanthropy When I awoke, I was a horse. No, not hung like a horse –do not be vulgar I was Equus ferus –a broad-backed gelding. You cannot possibly imagine how uncomfortable a bed is to a horse. My forelimbs flailed, my tail twitched. My head was too big for the pillow. My wife came into the room, belly stretched around our almost-foal She sat down in the armchair and did not ask me What is the matter? I waved my hooves about and whinnied Surely she could help me out of bed? Yet she sat, brushed her mane, and told me to stop Complaining. I was not the first man to lose his place


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Ken Poyner Commerce When I sold my dragons one at a time, it was easy to bring them into market in hand. I would throw a blanket over the wicker cage, each wallowing dragon calm and unsuspected by potential customers. I would walk through the crowd, swinging my ware beside me in time with my gait. Most people knew what I carried. Those who had not purchased from me knew someone who had purchased from me. Dragons for soup. Dragons for pets. Dragons for security. Dragons for show. Dragons for ornamentation. Dragons for revenge. Those who have suffered dragons knew me best. Though I claim no responsibility for what my customers do, I am nonetheless known by the tragedies they visit upon their neighbors with my wares. Business was good, and I carried dragons one at a time, each in its wicker cage that I made myself – and still do – from my warehouse to market. I waited for a sale, each customer peering into the cage - not too closely in case this dragon spits - imagining what can be done if he, the shallow pocketed customer, had his own dragon. I am still asked about upkeep, feeding, the proper disposal of scales. On all these matters I am an expert. I am no huckster. I try to match an eagerly twittering customer’s expectations with his or her ability to manage a dragon, to fit a dragon comfortably, to establish it in the family or the arsenal. I walk my customers through the rituals of ownership, the shadowed signs of regret, the shoveling of fertilizer. I hide nothing. When a sale was made, I let the customer take the new purchase, cage and all; and I, back when my tasks were committed one at a time, would begin the long return track to my warehouse. Sometimes, when there was another customer already thinly waiting, perhaps the one who lost in the bidding for the last dragon sold, I would run headlong towards my dragon stash until I would go out of breath and then doubled over in rack of oxygenation, I would stumble the rest of the way, not myself again until I had reached my warehouse. I then, relying upon my assessment of the crowd and its frenzy at the moment, selected another dragon for sale, covered his cage with any available blanket or tarp, and started back to market as strongly as I could. Most trips, with his broad, overfed body leering with providence, the wheel and cart maker would greet me both in and out of the market. He leaned his wickedly corporeal presence against a substantial beam or table and rolled in his tattered fat fingers the commission for a cart, palming in the other hand the frolics for war-guttering wheels. Sometimes, he would have a small demonstration cart with him, holding perhaps his lunch, or someone’s daughter exchanged so the rest of her family might arrive on wheels. He has been famous for carts as long as I can remember. Carts a man can pull, carts a dog might pull, carts for oxen and donkeys and wives. Carts that can hold enough wares to fill all of a market day in one trip. No one complains of his workmanship. No one faults his designs. No one disparages the lick of the roll in his wheels. He smiles with the curl of a mouth that could eat entire forests. It is rumored that the road maker is his half-brother, and that he shares a wife with the harness man. All of it is his business. I expected to hold out longer than most. Every dragon folds its wings alone in anticipation of its trip to market, settles as quietly as a puppy played out. They are no bother to carry. Moving them one at a time had been my way since incorporation. But I knew I could learn to stack them. I knew my wares would adapt to being one of many in the back of a cart. I knew I could handle the dangers of mercantile progress: the schemes they would come up with when cluttered together so brotherly in a common conveyance. I made preparations for the worst of it, considered security, safety, the dynamics of dragons en masse. To be in the society of dragons might be more of a dangerous thing than to be in the company of any one dragon. This and all my other misgivings I elected to forego. I thought I could turn precaution into a fair line of cost, toss it in with all the other particulars involved in a dragon’s sale. And I could do it to great success and profit, gathering enough wealth to go about town in bells.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Forgive me, but I came around. With grander sales, more dragons can be supplied to those who can afford them. The dragon’s sense of dragons grows sharper against their more economical numbers. Dragons will populate more villages; leave their scat in more vegetable gardens; consume an incautious cat or playful dog, or perhaps a fashionably stupid child or two. From a nuisance, the community’s dragons will soon be a plague. But it will not go on forever. What was sustainable one dragon at a time will soon be unbearable by the cart full. Here I am, with stacks of dragons each in their still hand made wicker cages, encouraging a customer to choose one over another, encouraging a customer to consider the quality of dragon and not the effect. Stacks of dragons, families of dragons, dragons in every backyard, as soup for every table, as ostentation on a peasants thatch roof, or loose in the sky and preying on common sense and reasonable expectations. I see the omens for both rapid gain and eventual glut. Too many dragons, and commerce will turn away from me and my utilitarian wares. It is how business works. I will have to sell the cart. What galls me is that my profit in dragons will sustain the wheel and cart man. He provides a serviceable product, one that rolls almost at command, and which can hold a stunning number of dragons. I have no complaint of his workmanship. But such modernization will allow the community to ruin me. I accept that as a given market rule. Yet, surely there will be a short, thin edged window of time when the land will be sick with dragons, and I will be rich enough that what is bled from me for the wheel and cart man is a sum I can for those moments abide. Both of us in commerce will for that brief interlude between the gnashing cycles of business be happy. At least, until someone’s fresh dragon, to my delight, finds in the drearily otiose wheel and cart man an unpardonably easy source of calories.


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Bios Jonathan Alston Jonathan Alston graduated with a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from California State University, Sacramento. He has been published in Convergence, In Parentheses, Midnight Screaming, Conium, and forthcoming in Colliope Review and The Encyclopedia Project. Writing is his life. Joe Becker Joe Becker is a graduate of Kennesaw State University. He is a part-time writer living in Roswell, Georgia where he helps raise three children. He pecks at the iPad with two fingers, usually during his long wait in after-school carpool. William Doreski William Doreski lives in New Hampshire and has published poetry, fiction, and criticism in many journals. Howie Good Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the forthcoming chapbooks The Complete Absence of Twilight (Mad Hat Press), Danger Falling Debris (Red Bird Chapbooks), and An Armed Man Lurks in Ambush (unbound CONTENT). John Grey John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Chrysalis and the horror anthology, “What Fears Become”with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Sanskrit and Osiris. DH Hanni DH Hanni lives in Eastern Washington state and enjoys writing historical fiction. When not lost in her own world, she enjoys spending time with her four-legged family and spouse. Loren Kantor Loren Kantor is a passionate, curious Woodcutter/Writer living in Hollywood with a love for movies, music and old Los Angeles. You can see more of Loren’s work at woodcuttingfool.blogspot.com. Kenneth Pobo Kenneth Pobo has a new chapbook out from Finishing Line Press called Save My Place. He has work forthcoming in Two Thirds North, Revolver, Crannog, The Same, and elsewhere.


Hidden Animals Issue 1

Ken Poyner Ken Poyner lives in a corner of Virginia, with his power lifter wife, four rescue cats, and two attitudechallenged fish. His 2013 e-book, “Constant Animals”, unruly fictions, is available at all the usual e-book retail sites. Recent work has appeared in “My Favorite Bullet”, “The Legendary”, “Conte”, “Asimov’s”, “Rattle”, and always elsewhere. Adreyo Sen Adreyo Sen, based in Kolkata, hopes to become a full-time writer. He did his undergraduate work in English and his postgraduate work in English and Sociology. He has been published in Danse Macabre and Kritya. Matthew A. Toll Matthew A. Toll was born and raised outside of Boston, MA, and currently works (sometimes) and lives (fulltime) in Los Angeles, California as of June 2012. Prior to that, he studied creative & technical writing at Champlain College in Burlington, VT. He’s recently had poetry published online in Coffeeshop Poems, Dead Flowers: A Poetry Rag (issues 8 & 10), Fat City Review, and forthcoming in print in The Modern Faye Magazine in 2014. David Tomb David Tomb is an artist and conservationist and co-founder of Jeepney Projects Worldwide. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and son. See more of David’s work at www.davidtomb.com and www.jeepneyprojects.org. Jessica Tyner Jessica Tyner is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer from Oregon and a member of the Cherokee Nation. Her publishing history includes over 30 pieces in 2012 alone. Recent projects include travel writing with Mucha Costa Rica, copy editing for the London-based Flaneur Arts Journal, and contributing to New York’s Thalo Magazine. She has recently published poetry in Slow Trains Literary Journal, Straylight Magazine, and Glint Literary Journal. Gina Vargas Gina Vargas is a resident of upstate New York. She has had her work published in Teen Ink and the American Library of Poetry's compilation of student poetry. She has been writing fiction and poetry since the fourth grade. Linville Wiles Linville Wiles has lived most of his life in North Carolina. For pay, he has been an English teacher in Japan, an exhibiting painter, an Ayur-Vedic chef, a marketing executive for a mattress firm, and less dramatic positions than these. Currently, he lives in the Blue-Ridge Mountains of NC near the Tennessee, NC, Virginia limits.


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Sandra K. Woodiwiss Sandra K. Woodiwiss lives, works and writes in Northern Indiana.


Hidden Animals

Summer 2013

Issue 1

Hidden Animals Issue 1  

The very first edition of the Hidden Animals Literary Magazine.

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