From the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
October 16, 2015
New Fiction by Peter Anderson Photography by Kevin Serna Chicago Literary Events Calendar October 16, 2015 | 1
THIS WEEK’S CHICAG
For all events, visit [cclapce
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16 5pm "The View From Here" Columbia College Release Party Columbia College Chicago / 600 S Michigan http://www.cclapcenter.com/
Join the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography as they celebrate the Columbia College contributors of their new "city all-star" student anthology, "The View From Here: Stories about Chicago Neighborhoods." Being held at the campus bookstore at 624 S. Michigan Ave., the event will feature light refreshments and readings from six of the book's contributors, as well as a few opening remarks by Columbia professor Patricia Ann McNair, who wrote the book's introduction.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17 3pm Paper Machete The Green Mill / 4802 N. Broadway / Free, 21+ thepapermacheteshow.com
A “live magazine” covering pop culture, current events, and American manners—part spoken-word show, part vaudeville review—featuring comedians, journalists, storytellers, and musical guests. Hosted by Christopher Piatt. 8pm Blackout Diaries High Hat Club / 1920 East Irving Park / $10, 21+ blackoutdiaries.info
A comedy show about drinking stories, a “critic’s pick” at Red Eye, MetroMix, and Time Out Chicago. Comedians share the mic with “regular” people, such as cops, firefighters, and teachers, all recounting real-life tales about getting wasted. Hosted by Sean Flannery. 2 | CCLaP Weekender
GO LITERARY EVENTS
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 18 10am
Sunday Morning Stories Donny's Skybox Studio Theatre / 1608 North Wells / Free
We performers are pre-booked. We feature novice as well as seasoned storytellers. On or off paper. 7pm Uptown Poetry Slam The Green Mill / 4802 N. Broadway / $6, 21+ greenmilljazz.com
Featuring open mike, special guests, and end-of-the-night competition. 7pm Asylum Le Fleur de Lis / 301 E. 43rd / $10 lefleurdelischicago.com
A weekly poetry showcase with live accompaniment by the band Verzatile. 7pm Waterline Writers at Water Street Studios Water Street Studios / 160 South Water / Free waterlinewriters.org
Curated reading series.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 19 8:30pm Kafein Espresso Bar Kafein Espresso Bar / 1621 Chicago Ave., Evanston kafeincoffee.com
Open mic with hosts Chris and Kirill.
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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20 7:30pm Homolatte Tweet Let's Eat / 5020 N. Sheridan tweet.biz
With Scott Free, featuring gay and lesbian spoken-word artists.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21 6pm Lyricist Loft Harold Washington Library / 400 South State / Free youmediachicago.org
“Open mic for open minds,” presented by Remix Spoken Word. Hosted by Dimi D, Mr. Diversity, and Fatimah. 9pm
In One Ear Heartland Cafe / 7000 N Glenwood https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-One-Ear/210844945622380
Chicago's 3rd longest-running open-mic show, hosted by Pete Wolf and Billy Tuggle.
To submit your own literary event, or to correct the information on anything you see here, please drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org
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THE PUBLISHING EVENT NINE YEARS IN THE MAKING. In 2006, celebrated author Ben Tanzer began working on a series of short stories all set in the fictional upstate New York town of Two Rivers, most of them published in various literary journals over the years and eventually collected into the three small volumes Repetition Patterns (2008), So Different Now (2011), and After the Flood (2014). Now for the first time, all 33 of these stories have been put together into one paperback edition, highlighting the long-term planning of themes and motifs that Tanzer has been building into these pieces the entire time. Featuring dark character studies of childhood, middle age, and (lack of) grace under pressure, these stories are considered by many to be among the best work of Tanzer’s career, and voracious fans of his short work will surely be pleased and satisfied to have these small masterpieces collected together into one easy-to-read volume. So take a stool at Thirsty’s, order another Yuengling, and be prepared to be transported into the black heart of the American small-town soul, as one of our nation’s best contemporary authors takes us on a journey across space and time that will not be soon forgotten.
Download for free at October 16, 2015 | 5 cclapcenter.com/nystories
w At the far end of the bar, the redhead snapped her head back, auburn curls falling away from her brow, and put an unlit cigarette to her lips. She flicked the lighter and held the flame to the tip, inhaled deeply and held her breath. She lifted her cellphone from atop the bar and read the screen for the third time since the phone first buzzed.
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“-” by Andrés Carreño [flickr.com/andresdavid90]. Used under the terms of her Creative Commons license.
REN BY PETER ANDERSON
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She stared, eyes sharp, as if peering into the words to discern their real meaning. As she read, her hair fell into her face, brushing just past the burning tip of the cigarette. She huffed with impatience and pushed her hair back, away from the orange glow. Her phone then rang; she clicked it on and said, “Yeah,” before her voice dropped low. As she spoke in words too quiet for anyone else to hear, she briefly raised her eyes and gazed past the spot on the bar, just in front of her, where a knife stuck upward, its tip buried into the wooden surface. From the other end of the bar—the tavern was nearly empty, with little else to hold her attention—Carla Rosello glanced off and on, taking in the sight in what she hoped was secrecy. Despite her stealth, she saw it all—the auburn curls, the cigarette, the dark eyes, the embedded knife—with what felt like fascination. As the evening turned to night and the bottles of Miller High Life came and went, Carla watched, looking but not looking. The redhead kept her eyes lowered, staring at the screen or down to the floor when more calls came. Around eleven, Carla rose from her stool and moved halfway down the bar, trying to hide her intent by chatting with George, the bartender, but before she could sit down again, the redhead finally stood. Carla abruptly grabbed the nearest stool, pulled it out and sat down, trying to remain calm, to act as natural as she could. George looked at her with a puzzled expression, to which she nodded for another beer. Though closer, her view of the redhead had narrowed. She spied as closely as she dared from the corner of her eye and in the mirror of the backbar, around the standing bottles. The redhead still stood at the end of the bar, in front of her pushed-back stool, glaring at the glow of the phone’s screen. Without looking away, she reached forward and grasped the embedded knife, pulling it free. She continued to intently read the screen as she clicked the catch at the butt end of the knife handle and pressed the back of the blade against her thigh. She shoved the folded knife into the depths of her purse and slung the bag over her shoulder. She clicked off the phone and shook her head with what seemed to Carla like annoyance or even anger, the auburn curls flowing from one side to the other like a wave before coming to rest. She stepped aside, pushed the stool back to the bar, and briskly walked forward. Toward her, Carla thought with sudden apprehension, but then she realized it wasn’t about her at all, that the redhead would merely walk past. Carla watched her as she approached, first with a sideways glance and then clearer in the backbar mirror. The redhead moved toward and then past her, not hurrying but with what seemed almost like a strut, and was gone. Carla stood to follow her, the last beer untouched. 8 | CCLaP Weekender
At the end of the bar, where Carla had been sitting earlier, the redhead made a sharp turn left, exiting through the rarely used side door. Carla heard the door click closed as she stood and hurried after. She remembered that the door opened to the alley, which lead back to a small parking lot behind the building. Carla thought only employees could park there, and not having ever seen the redhead working the bar, she wondered what sort of special status the woman might have to park in that lot. Maybe George’s niece? No, he barely chatted with her tonight. Or the owner’s girlfriend? She pushed the sticky door open and turned down the alley, toward the clicking of the redhead’s heels. Carla imagined an old, red Thunderbird, or maybe a Harley—no, not that, it was winter—but as she emerged into the open and looked toward the sound of an engine starting up, the only exhaust she saw bloomed from a Sentra that was at least ten years old and nothing like she had imagined. The car backed away with a sudden start, then halted. The frosted-over window rolled down, and Carla first saw the flowing curls and then the sharp, darkeyed stare. The redhead’s smile was mild, yet still bold. “You’ve been watching me all night,” she said, to which Carla could only swallow hard, not knowing what to say. Yes, she had been. She nodded. “Get in,” the redhead said, her voice a quiet command. Carla was barely inside the car, the door not yet closed, when the redhead stomped on the gas pedal. But though the engine roared, the car only gasped forward a few feet, then stalled, and came to a stop. The redhead laughed, flipping her head back, curls flying, and shifted back into park. “Piece of shit car,” she muttered. She turned the ignition key in, but the engine coughed and refused to turn over. “So nice of my ex to leave it behind for me,” she added, her voice barely heard over the cranking of the starter. After three tries, she released the key and leaned back into the seat. Her head fell into the headrest and she turned toward Carla. “So, you.” Carla said nothing, having still not spoken a word to her. “You were watching. Carla.” Carla stared at her in disbelief. She certainly didn’t know the redhead. How could the redhead possibly know her? She continued to stare, desperate to understand, before the woman’s wry smile unnerved her and she looked away, toward the windshield, wracking her memory to recall something, anything, about how the redhead knew her. Carla’s nerves knotted and she began to reach for the door handle, to flee, to get away from the whole, maybe-dangerous situation, when the redhead again turned the key and the engine caught. The Sentra lurched forward and Carla pulled her hand back, still worried over the question, but even more so about where they were going. October 16, 2015 | 9
“Yes, I know all about you, Carla,” the redhead said with a smile, as she steered the car out of the alley and onto the side street, toward the red light at Colfax Avenue. “I’ve been watching you.” Carla remained silent, thinking, her mind moving beyond the how—she still couldn’t place the redhead— of being watched, and on to the why. Though Carla had always been told she was pretty, she knew what that really meant. Pretty, pleasant to look at, but not beautiful or gorgeous—worth a first glance but not a second. And certainly not any extended watching. When the stoplight turned to green, the redhead sped left into a nearly empty street. The next light turned to yellow long before the car reached the intersection, but instead of slowing, the redhead accelerated, speeding through as the light turned to red. “Yellow when I got there,” she said, laughing and flipping back her head. As Carla looked again at those flowing, mesmerizing curls, the redhead turned toward her. “Now, where are my manners, right? My name is Marlene.” She removed her right hand from the steering wheel and extended it to Carla, and even though Carla saw that Marlene’s other hand was off the wheel and reclining on the armrest, she grasped the redhead’s hand with a gentle shake. Though fully aware that the car wasn’t being steered, Carla thought more about how soft and warm Marlene’s skin was, and how delicate her grip, so unlike the tough, badass image she projected in the bar, with the knife and strut and everything else. “So, your ex?” Carla said, tentatively, regretting the question even before the words were out of her mouth. She didn’t know why she asked, other than to steer the conversation away from the question of why this woman, Marlene, had been watching her. She regretted most her implication, that she was fishing around for Marlene’s status, to find out whether the redhead was attached, unattached, or whatever. Surely, Marlene might have taken it that way. Carla didn’t know if she herself was interested, either in Marlene or women at all. She had never been with a woman, other than a few drunken make-outs in bars back in college, when she was too wasted to really know what she was doing. Just whims, and all but forgotten until this moment. “Yeah, my ex,” Marlene laughed, still looking straight ahead. “We’ve all got ‘em, right? Lucky people only have a few. Not that I’ve ever been lucky myself.” Carla remained silent, thinking of what that might mean. A lot of partners, few or none of them serious. Getting around. “Yeah, well, Rick broke it off. Said he was tired of my— let’s call it freelancing.” Carla heard something in her voice, almost a purr, that made her turn. Marlene turned as well, fixing her with a piercing gaze, and Carla realized that whatever she imagined in Marlene’s voice was undoubtedly there in her eyes. “The guy 10 | CCLaP Weekender
just had no imagination.” She laughed again. “He didn’t even want in on it. Imagine? What guy doesn’t want that?” At these last words, Carla felt a shiver go through her, not of fear but something like pleasure. She had never thought of the possibility. She tried to remember those girls from college, what they looked like, what she felt back then, if anything. She vaguely remembered passing one of them—Kim?—one day while walking to class, and how the two of them met the other’s gaze before looking away. Did I feel something? Anything? Carla asked herself now. She thought about her relationships with men, which always went okay before ending badly. Was this—what she was feeling, might have been feeling, here, with Marlene—maybe the reason all of those relationships failed? Carla was so distracted in reflection that she found herself surprised, first to feel the car come to a stop and then to see that they were parked in a strip mall parking lot, in what must have been some suburb far from the city. Bewildered, Carla struggled for the why.
Carla was so distracted in reflection that she found herself surprised, first to feel the car come to a stop and then to see that they were parked in a strip mall parking lot, in what must have been some suburb far from the city.
Carla fought away her thoughts of whatever happened in the past, and homed in on tonight, and what she was doing there. Wherever “there” was. She squinted through the windshield toward the rear of the building, which stood fifty feet ahead. All she could see was a line of identical back doors, each with a number and a weak floodlight streaming amber beams from above. Looking to each side, she saw that the parking lot was empty. She tried to figure out how late it was. She got to the bar around seven, and spent three or four hours at the other end of the room, staring in fascination at the redhead, Marlene, and they drove for what she guessed was half-an-hour. She decided it was some time after eleven when they left the bar, so now it might be midnight, but no matter the time, it was no time to be parked behind some strip mall out in the suburbs. She turned October 16, 2015 | 11
her head slightly, slyly glancing at Marlene, who, in the dashboard glow, Carla could see staring intently at one of the doors, as if waiting, whether for someone or the will to act. As Carla glanced at Marlene, she was surprised to see her own hand stretched across the console, her fingertips on the edge of the driver seat, only a few inches from Marlene’s thigh. But despite her surprise, she didn’t pull back, but left her hand where it was and even thought, consciously now, about moving it closer. She didn’t remember putting her hand there while they drove or exactly what she had been trying to do—trying to start?— while her thoughts were elsewhere. But here, in this dark parking lot with this woman, Carla pushed away all thoughts of the past, and focused completely on the now. She looked again at Marlene, more intently this time, studying her profile—the pixie nose, the full lips—and sniffed just the tiniest scent of her perfume, taking her all in, enjoying the voyeur thrill, while at the same time, wishing that Marlene would return her attention. She looked again at the curls, which she could now see only in colorless silhouette, and began to move her hand closer, when Marlene stirred and punched the steering wheel with the side of her fist. “Damn it,” Marlene screamed. “This is all wrong.” Carla halted, stunned, as she first thought Marlene was talking about them, whatever they were doing there, whatever might happen between them. “All fucking wrong,” Marlene spat, again punching the wheel, and as her stare remained fixed on the building, Carla realized she wasn’t talking about them at all. “That light over door three is supposed to be turned off,” Marlene continued, her strained voice slowly easing. “And I’ll bet that idiot didn’t even leave the door unlocked.” Idiot, who? ran through Carla’s mind, and realizing her question hadn’t been voiced, she repeated it aloud. Marlene, silent now, only shook her head. Carla peered side-to-side through the grimy windows, still seeing only wide, empty stretches of asphalt and the dimly lit building ahead. “What idiot?” Carla said, her bewilderment rising, as the thought came to her of a third person somehow being involved. “What—? What are we doing out here? Marlene?” For a moment, she forgot the redhead’s name. “The idiot is Rick. My ex,” Marlene replied, with a bitter laugh. “Your ex?” Carla said, baffled, but Marlene remained silent as she stared at the back of the building, her face—Carla could see by the dashboard light— in intense thought. “Your ex?” Carla repeated, weaker this time, to which 12 | CCLaP Weekender
Marlene turned, and ignoring the question, fixed Carla with a stern gaze. “I don’t know if this is going to work,” she said. “Just watch out for me. If you see any cops, security, whatever, hit the horn. Got it?” Carla said nothing, but looked at the redhead with a lost expression, then glanced down to where her hand rested on the console, only an inch from Marlene’s thigh. Marlene followed her glance, saw what Carla had seen, and laughed again, even more bitterly this time. “Jesus, how could you—? Oh, never mind. Hit the horn, got it?” Carla shook herself awake and nodded as she pulled back her hand. Marlene flung open the door and sprang out, bounding across the parking lot toward the building. In the amber light, Carla saw her reach door three and delicately grasp the knob. Marlene’s body noticeably relaxed as the knob turned. Without opening the door, she raised her right hand and Carla saw the glint of the knife, which Marlene inserted into the gap of the door frame just below the lock, but when she opened the door, the knife clattered to the ground, and she threw up her hands and rushed inside. From inside the closed car, Carla could hear the alarm blaring, but saw nothing after the door had shut. She sat, tense and leaning forward, staring at the door and then to either side for any sign of anyone else. Nothing. Until suddenly, in the street beyond the building, there came flashing red lights and a screaming siren. Seconds later, the door swung open and out stumbled Marlene, with her hair fallen over her face and a long box tucked under one arm. She righted herself, then crouched down and picked up the knife. She rushed to the car, flung open the door, and slammed it behind her. She cranked the ignition key but the starter only whined, and she muttered, “Goddamned Sentra,” and pounded the wheel with her left fist until the engine finally started. She threw the car into gear and it lurched, then sped out of the parking lot. “Rick said he’d be working late, doing paperwork,” she said, shaking her head at the ambulance that sped away in the opposite direction, its red lights fading in the rear view mirror. “It was supposed to be easy, so easy. Then at the last minute, he texted me and backed out, but said he would leave the door unlocked, and that jamming my knife into the sensor would cut off the alarm. Ha. Wrong there.” She nodded at the box in her lap. “And this. This is the big shipment he talked about.” She slowed at a darkened side street, turned, and parked. She unfolded the knife, slit open the box, and plunged her hand inside, drawing out a fistful of small, plastic packets. “Pandora? Are you fucking kidding me? Who still buys this shit?” She laughed without joy, and gazed ahead into the darkness. “When he backed out, I knew I would need a lookout. And you were right there at the bar.” She laughed again as she flung the box over her shoulder and into October 16, 2015 | 13
the back seat. She put the car in gear and turned away from the curb, toward the main street. “That’s all you were—just a lookout. Not some hookup. And that great robbery we planned?” She shook her head, a smile still on her lips. “Just Pandora.” C
Peter Anderson’s debut novella, Wheatyard, was published in 2013 by Kuboa Press. His short stories have appeared in many fine venues, including Storyglossia, THE2NDHAND, RAGAD, Midwestern Gothic and the collections Daddy Cool: An Anthology of Writing by Fathers For & About Kids (Artistically Declined Press, 2013) and On the Clock: Contemporary Short Stories of Work (Bottom Dog Press, 2010). A financial professional by trade, he writes fiction to ease the crushing monotony of corporate life. He lives and writes in Joliet, Illinois, and can often be found online at petelit.com.
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Know thyself and nothing in excess. Just as the doomed sailors of Homerâ€™s Odyssey fail to heed one or the other of these maxims, and end up getting turned to swine or lured to their peril by the singing sirens, so too do the doomed characters in Joseph G. Petersonâ€™s new collection of stories fail idiotically in one way or another and end up, like those ancient sailors, facing the prospect of their own mortal twilight. Set mostly in Chicago and by turns gruesome, violent, comic, lurid and perverse, these stories are suffused with a metaphorical light that lends beauty and joy to the experience of reading them.
Download for free at cclapcenter.com/twilightidiots
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A darkly surreal yet absurdly funny short-fiction writer, Matt Rowan has been a Chicago local secret for years; but now this latest collection of pieces, all of which originally appeared in the pages of the CCLaP Weekender in 2014 and â€˜15, is set to garner him the national recognition his stories deserve, a Millennial George Saunders who is one of the most popular authors in the cityâ€™s notorious late-night literary performance community. Shocking? Thought-provoking? Strangely humorous? Uncomfortable yet insightful on a regular basis? YES PLEASE.
Download for free at cclapcenter.com/bigvenerable
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PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE October 16, 2015 | 17
“To me photography is a tool I use to look more closely at something. My favorite photographs are the one’s that I find interesting for one reason when I take the photo, but later when looking at the photo made I see a whole other reason why I like it. I think when that happens the real power of photography shows through, because photography doesn’t care what you think or what your perceptions are when you take the shot, it just shows you what it shows you. In that way, it can give you a sense of clarity.”
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Kevin Serna is a Chicago based photographer. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2012 with a BFA in Photography. His personal work focuses on the boundaries of cultural separation between him and his Father, a Mexican immigrant, through what Kevin describes as... â€œa delicate visual observation of the place where my Father solidified his identity.â€? Through this project Kevin hopes to continue to bridge this perceived cultural gap and understand something deeper about his own identity.
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www.kevinserna.net kevinsernaphoto.tumblr.com @kevnserna for instagram
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Orest Godwin is ruining his long legacy three fingers of rye at a time. His lectures have become bizarre. He’s smoking indoors. And he’s begun to carry a knife. When Orest nearly burns down the campus destroying memoirs in his attic, the College has no choice but to dismiss him. After 50 years, a prestigious career is ended in a humiliating act of senility. Or so The Provost thinks. Orest decides he is no longer satisfied to be a known historian; he wants to be historic. So he cashes his pension, draws a new will, and vanishes. With the help of a failing Spanish student whom he has promised a fictional scholarship, he embarks on an adventure from northern California to the lawless badlands of Mexico to join a true rebellion. Armed with Wyatt Earp replica pistols and a case of rye, Orest and Augie trespass through a thousand miles of brothels, cantinas, jungles, diners, and motels, threatening those they meet along the way. If Orest can just elude the pimps he’s crossed, the ranchers he’s sworn vengeance upon, and kidnapping charges, he might just join his peasant uprising. At least while he can still remember where he is going. And if no one gives him a drop of mescal.
Download for free at cclapcenter.com/orestandaugust
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The CCLaP Weekender is published in electronic form only, every Friday for free download at the CCLaP website [cclapcenter.com]. Copyright 2015, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. All rights revert back to artists upon publication. Editorin-chief: Jason Pettus. Story Editor: Behnam Riahi. Photo Editor: Jennifer Yu. Layout Editor: Wyatt Robinette. Calendar Editor: Taylor Carlile. To submit your work for possible feature, or to add a calendar item, contact us at email@example.com.
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This week's edition of the Pushcart-Prize-nominated CCLaP Weekender [cclapcenter.com/weekender] features a new original piece of fiction by...