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Review

Northwest College

Volume VIII

HCC-Northwest College

Winter 2011


Winter 2011

Review

Northwest College

HCC-Northwest College Review

“Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we.� ~Michel de Montaigne, translated

Editor

Michael Sofranko

Production/Design Lori Greig

Editorial Assistance Suna Ridouane Contributors Ira J. Black, April Hall, Lori Greig, Mary Hayes, Tom Haymes, WonKyong Jang, Landon Jones, Stanley Kaminsky, Si Ying Li , Kurt Lovelace, Daniel Plunkett, Ron Radom, Rahul Rao, Sam Ratcliffe, Heather Ruth, Andrew Shelby, Micheline Slaterly, Michael Sofranko, Sonya Sofranko, Brian Kenneth Swain Summer Troy, Jennifer Vacca, John W. Waring

Volume VIII Winter 2011 Music: My Own Two Hands

ii Jack Johnson & Ben Harper

The College Review is a publication of Houston Community College Northwest. Students, staff, faculty and friends of the college are invited to submit materials for consideration by the editorial staff of the magazine. For information contact the editor at michael.sofranko@hccs.edu

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Contents

Winter 2011

Click on a Title to link to page Click on to return to Table of Contents

Cover

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Inside cover

ii

Dubina Bridge

2

Tom Haymes

Flat in the Shallows

3

Landon Jones

Easy Pickins

7

John W. Waring

Fantasm 10 Stanley Kaminsky

Il Morso

12

Jennifer Vacca

Don’t Make Me Stop This Car

15

Brian Kenneth Swain

art car port

Contents

HCC-Northwest College Review

16

I Was There Casa Fisheye

BOXER 36 Sonya Sofranko

My First Knockout

Untitiled 45 Sonya Sofranko

Restavec 46 Micheline Slaterly

From Antony Gormley's "Sculpture in the Close"

Diagonal 54 Lori Greig

Brian Kenneth Swain

Partridge Road

What We Talk About When We Talk About Pain

Jennifer Vacca

20

WonKyong Jang

21

April Hall

Reservations 22 April Hall

Required 23 April Hall

23

Rahul Rao

Getting Through The Night

24

Ron Radom

burnt out w

29

Stanley Kaminsky

CAVE 30 Sonya Sofranko

55 58

Untitled 60

Andrew Shelby

Take A Seat

49

Photo by Michael Sofranko

The Green Room

Threads of Red

37

Daniel Plunkett

Kurt Lovelace

Drawing 2

35

Tom Haymes

Tomfoolery

18

32

Ira J. Black

Tom Haymes

17

cont'd

Si Ying Li

Unleaning Against Play at 10 PM

61

Kurt Lovelace

THE ELECTRIC KOOL AID ACID TIGGENS

62

Mary Hayes

Burano 69 Michael Sofranko

Sex Is Better With the Lights On

70

Heather Ruth

Baptistry Door Panel, Florence

74

Michael Sofranko

Sunnyvale 76 Sam Ratcliffe

Untitled 80 Summer Troy

Discovery Green April Hall

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Flat in the Shallows Landon Jones

“What do they look like again, dad?” “They’re flat and round, brown on one side and white on the other, with both eyes on one side of the head. Funny lookin’ fellas. They like to lie on the bottom in these shallows.” It was getting late in the day and the tide was slowly beginning to drain from the small waterways and inlets, and carry back out to sea with it the life and baitfish that make it the very movement of energy that feeds the entire gulf coast. The man looked down the graciously flowing inlet, and then turned around to look out at the bay as the warm gulf wind hit his face. “Tides movin’. They should start bitin’ now," the man said. “Why do we have to fish for these?” the boy asked. “Because flounder are runnin’ right now.”

“Running from what?” With a soft smile the man answered, “No, they’re runnin’ from their spots in the shallow waters and makin’ their way out to the bay to spawn.” An osprey hovered above, scanning for fish in the short reeds that formed the waterway as they folded with the wind. “Flounder are rare and remarkable fish. They’re also real good to eat.” “Let’s catch one!” the boy exclaimed. “Just keep fishin’ like I showed ya’.” “Dad, if we catch one, can we eat it with mom, so she can taste some too?” “I dunno if she’d be okay with that. Maybe we can send her some home with ya’.” The boy turned and looked at his father. “Are you ever coming back

Dubina Bridge 2

Tom Haymes

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home?” “I don’t think so, son. Don’t you like comin’ down here to see me once n’ a while?” The tone of the boy’s voice faintly sunk. “Yeah….but it’s weird to come here and not see grandpa.” “I know son…….I know. But ya’ know, he sure loved to fish this place.” The man stared into the southern horizon of ocean. “His favorite was flounder fishin’ too, ya’ know. That’s why I’m really wantin’ us to catch one so you can experience it.” “I want to catch one!” the boy said. The man distantly smiled. “Well let’s get to fishin’ so we can catch one before I gotta get you back home. Your mother’ll be here to pick you up ‘round seven.” The boy struggled to keep his balance as he wriggled his boots free from the muddy bottom. He slowly made his way towards the man with his arms out, his knees rose from the water to his stomach with every step. 4

As the sun further made its descent, its color changed and thickened, and with it, everything else had adopted this new amber glow, the grass especially. As the man re-tied another jig for him, the boy said quietly, “Dad, I wish you could live at home.” “I know, son. Things are different now, it’ll just take some time gettin’ used to.” “Yeah, I guess.” “How’s your mother been? She been happy?” “I don’t know. She’s always working, or out with Jason.” The boy paused. “I don’t like Jason very much. He doesn’t take me to do fun things like you do.” “Never?” The boy tilted his head, “Well… yeah, sometimes we all go to the movies and stuff together, but we never get to go fishin’ or anything like that.” “Well you can always look forward to comin’ down here and seein’ me.” The boy smiled, and casted his

HCC-Northwest College Review

line back out towards the rolling bank. The wind glazed over the water, which now reflected the washes of orange and pink from the cloud smeared sky. The man let the salty air dampen his face, before his line had a sudden burst of vibration. He stopped reeling, it shortly vibrated again. Reeling gently to get the slack out, the line began to move slowly across the dark green water. He set his gaze on where his line entered the water, and steadily waited for the fish to accept the vocation. “Dad, what is it?” The boy asks, but the man remained silent and still. The line began to slowly creep again, and the man stoutly yanked the rod backwards with an arched back, to set the hook. The rod bent with the weight of the fish, then began to shake violently as the fish let out its initial attempt to free itself. “Dad what is it?! Is it a flounder dad?!” “Here, son, here!” the man said, as he put the rod in the boy’s hands. The boy nearly lost his balance in the

mud as he struggled to hang onto the pole. The man directed the boy, “Now just keep it tight! Keep it tight! Don’t let any slack!” The boy’s face was scrunched as he reeled and pulled, and the fish began to tire from the frantic thrashing. They both eagerly watched the water closely to get a glimpse at whatever the fish might be, watching and hoping for the elusive prize they both desired. With only a few yards of line left, the man readied his net as the churning water approached. “That’s it! That’s it! Almost got it!” the man said. The swirl of a brown tail emerging from the surface of the water let the man know that it was a flounder, just as he’d hoped for. He plunged the net into the water and scooped up the fish. “Dad is it a flounder? Is it, Dad?! It’s a flounder, huh Dad?!” “It sure is! Good job! We got ‘em! Nice size one too…” The boy’s wide eyes stared as the 5


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man twisted the hook out, and, as he strung the fish through the gills, it began to slow down its flailing. In silence the boy stood in the water exploring the fish and the emerging mystery of the prize he had sought, and it had put an almost gloomy affect on his face. The fish lay arched in the net, no more than two inches thick. Sandy colored spots evenly spaced themselves on top of glistening brown scales, and two small, dark eyes looked up at the captors. The flounder had now completely abandoned its attempt at escape, accepting its final retreat from the bay from which it had lived its life. The boy finally said, “That’s a weird lookin’ fish! Why is it so special, Dad?” “That’s how they live,” the man answered. “Up and down the grass lines, lying flat in the shallows, feeding on whatever the tide brings.” “Wow, it sure is beautiful, huh? I’m so happy we caught one! I’m so glad I got to come see you…” “Me too, son. Me too,” said the

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man, as he put his arm around the boy for a long moment as they stared wondrously at their catch. The sun had grown as it approached the horizon. The boy stared out at the now glowing bay as it eased into dusk. The man looked across the bay, resting his eyes on his son, both of them soundless in harmony, letting be the temporary content. Above them a gull streamed in the wind under the closing sky, and the bay was calm.

•••

HCC-Northwest College Review

Easy Pickins John W. Waring

People are a different bunch. I wonder as I sit here, do they REALLY know I’m listening. Eavesdropping? Well, that’s hard to say. I’m sitting here, and they’re sitting there. I’m supposed to just turn off my receptors? Me? I merely observe as I occasionally glance around the restaurant to put a face with the voices. I’m sure they notice my eyes peer their way, but most are too busy eating and talking to worry about what I’m doing. Watching, noting, unbeknownst to them. Simply eating my chips and salsa. There are two younger girls, college age, seated at a booth over my left shoulder. I think the waiter had brought them the cheese enchilada plate and the fajita chicken taco salad. The girl who was having the enchiladas didn’t heed the “Hot plate, ma’am” safety warning issued by the waiter, and she burned her fingers when she tried to slide it closer. “Oh, shit, that’s hot!” They both giggled. Her friend, the blonde, wearing a grey ball cap with her pony-tail pulled through the hole in the back, didn’t seem too concerned though, as she didn’t skip a beat, continuing her rant. She first thought she wanted to become an art teacher, thought about moving to Fort Worth to find something new because her Aunt lived there, then decided to stay in Houston to get into teaching. She said Mike ended up being an asshole so they broke up. Meanwhile her friend has warm fingers and an apparent deaf ear. She’s eating like she’s never tasted Mexican food, or maybe she’s heard her friend’s 7


Winter 2011

spill before. They see me look, but I’m alone. I must not pose a threat. George and Mary, the old couple seated directly behind me, are apparently on the eve of their 40th wedding anniversary, as well as their second bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. “Look…,” George says, as he reaches into his suit pocket pulling out a small pill bottle. “You ready? I am.” His wife turns as red as that wine they’re drinking as she attempts to use her napkin to shield George’s hand from view. “I’m 76, Honey. I’m not dead,” and he shakes the bottle and puts it back, smiling at the idea. Wow, even Ol’ George has his night planned out ahead of time. It’s not the easiest task to maintain control over what I hear. I filter in what I hear, and I process it, in an attempt to entertain myself. Who are any of these people when I’m not around to see? Does the middle aged white man to my right, sitting alone, with the scruffy beard, long sleeve brown flannel shirt and blue jeans go home at night and kick his boots off before pounding back a few beers, then pound on his wife? Maybe he didn’t just get off work. Hell, maybe he doesn’t even drink; maybe the guy just cheats on his wife. He’s mentally undressed the poor petite young waitress each time she has come to his table, his eyes following her as she left his check on the table, his mouth twitching with desire. I hadn’t seen her before; she must be new. Have you ever thought….Who, really, is this person next to you? You know, like that guy in the elevator that stands beside you, unknown to you, capable of anything. You wonder why he is out of breath, with sweat dripping off his face, but still you stay quiet. He could have just killed someone on the 12th floor and is happy to know that your elevator happened to be heading down. So, is it safe to assume that I shouldn’t be concerned with any of this? The 8

HCC-Northwest College Review

problem with that is that people do talk, and, when they do, someone will be listening. Is it also safe to assume then that a pair of eyes has found me on occasion? I can only assume so. George and Mary are gone, and the other conversations around dwindle. The two girls that were seated over my left shoulder finished eating, made a phone call to one of their girlfriends, and got the directions to her new apartment. I’ve got 10 ml of chloroform, and the night off.

•••

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Fantasm Stanley Kaminsky

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the carpet once, twice a week.

Il Morso Jennifer Vacca

I’ve read stories where they call me the vampire slayer. Most people, though, tell me stories about Madge Oberholtzer and the Indiana Grand Dragon. They met in 1925. People usually mention the train— it’s where he raped her, chewed on her. She swallowed mercury pills, died. It created a hairline crack in the Klan. I blink. Teeth. I met mine at a bar, not a governor’s banquet. I wore shorts because it was hot. We talked about Caligula, Francesco Vezzoli, Italian performance artists. He recounted a piece gone wrong, a murder of a woman—a great performance artist, herself—who was hitchhiking from Italy to the Middle East in a wedding dress. He would say she was a “bride of peace,” and always end on, “they found her body in a Turkish forest.” I came home one night, brushed my teeth with aloe vera paste—it makes my mouth feel cleaner—put on a Blue Jackets t-shirt, the cotton worn thin to skin, and fell into bed. I sleep on my stomach. I heard once that means I am secure in my life. In the space between sleep and wake, he came over my body in a huge press, like a cello full of sand dropped from the sky. He had been under my bed where I stored my winter clothes in Tupperware containers. Now I sleep on the floor on nothing but a sheet. I vacuum

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He went into me before I could even pull the beaded string of my lamp. I was a doll, plastic, a loose piece of cargo in the hull. They say that a human bite is the most dangerous one in the world. I remember when he really bit, the skin bunching, the way his teeth broke the flesh in a pop. They always want to know how I got away. A professor who liked me too much made me a life-sized wooden mannequin—the kind where you can see the important joints. We named him Milton, used to move his arms in funny positions of salute. Milton helped me draw bodies even though he was waifish, thin, a shadow of a real man. He stood faceless in the corner of my bedroom. I grabbed for anything in the dark and found Milton’s leg. The mannequin flew against the wall, shattering a window. The knee cracked; the shin splintered. I drove it into him, in the three angles by the neck. They say you should let it happen. If you fight back your life will be in peril. There aren’t two puncture holes. My neck is stung with the most absurd set of pearls—a circlet of blue, violet, rose, a strange evening flush, smudged yellow-gray. The mythical beast shakes his head in the night. •••

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Don’t Make Me Stop This Car Brian Kenneth Swain

Dad? What. Billy won’t stay on his own side. I’m not on your side. Yes you are. Am not. Are too. Dad? Julie. Don’t Julie me. They’re your kids. Mom? Yes. John poked me. Did not. Did too. Crybaby. You suck. Mom, Billy said suck. Billy, what have I told you about those words? Billy’s a potty mouth. Yeah, well at least I’m not a retard. Are too. Am not.

Mom, Billy called me a retard. Jack, speak to your son. Billy, you apologize to your brother right now. All right. Say it. I’m sorry you’re a retard. Dad? Billy. Okay – I’m sorry; God, I wish I was dead. That can be arranged. JACK! What? I’m only saying we can always get more. Better behaved ones. Dad! Jack, you’re scaring them. Good, Maybe they’ll shut up for five minutes. Are we there yet? I have to pee. •••

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The Green Room Brian Kenneth Swain

Tell me one good thing you ever did in your life. K. Vonnegut Sitting on the too-soft couch next to some aged comedian who slipped in the tub, I sip a Perrier with lime and watch the show on a small TV in the corner as the Almighty trades quips with a plumber from Detroit about how he didn’t watch his cholesterol closely enough, and just why he was so friendly with the neighbor’s kids. Seems like an eternity, but finally they finish, shake hands, go to commercial.

art car port Tom Haymes

I straighten my tie, comb my hair, wet my lips, hope it’s enough to atone for a life of sloth and selfishness. I am startled by the announcer’s voice calling out my name and the enthusiastic applause as I step from behind the curtain and into the bright lights of eternity. •••

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Pain Andrew Shelby

Pain is as big a part of life as death and taxes. Pain is life, and life is plenty painful. It’s a pain to be a kid, because you want to think you are wiser than you are, and you aren’t taken seriously until you graduate from high school or college. Then you have to get a job, and that’s not only painful, it’s monotonous; grinding out routine after routine as the sun marches across the sky, day in and day out. Doesn’t that sound at least a little painful? Maybe you want to pump out a couple of kids, or maybe you want to be a breathing baby factory. Well, I hate to break it to you, but kids are a pain too. Losing a loved one is painful as well. The emptiness…The incompleteness of not being able to say something meaningful, or even hateful, before someone leaves this insufferable world is heartbreaking. Being a kid can be one of life’s most painful experiences. For one thing, you find out that life isn’t how your parents explained it would be, and that things aren’t like in the movies or your favorite book. Life comes with hard facts that hit kids hard. Some never recover. It’s painful to watch a newly pubescent boy trying to make himself more appealing to girls. With cracked voice and infected face, most boys try hard to find a mate just when nature is telling them that maybe now isn’t the greatest time. Getting shot down repeatedly is painful. As I get older, I become more and more detached from the next generation, and my parents’ words about not understanding kids today rings more and more true. Skinny jeans? Painful. Elegantly disheveled, multi-hued hair? Painful. Acting morose and nonchalant to get attention? Painful. It will even be a pain to this next generation when they get older and realize just how much time they wasted on their damn skinny jeans and hair. Then, and only then, will they grow as individuals. 18

HCC-Northwest College Review

Back to the kids for a minute. The lovable little tikes are also little lifeleeches. Sure, it's beautiful to have a child, and love him/her, and to be patient with him/her, and watch him/her grow into a mini-you that is somehow way more sassy than you could’ve ever been when you were that age. But kids make people old and worn out. It’s more than just cliché to think that parents go grey because of kids. The little balls of energy constantly need supervision. Why do children associate pills with candy? Because they are a pain! Why don’t they let you sleep peacefully even one night? Because they are a pain! Everybody’s job sucks. Unless you work as an air brush artist, getting to spray on those latex bikinis for myriads of attractive women. Or maybe if you're a professional athlete/actor/musician and make more per game/movie/show than the average worker makes in a year. Then, just maybe, your job doesn’t suck. But you don’t live on the same planet as we do, either. Being unappreciated at work sucks. It’s a pain to toil tirelessly towards advancement, only to find that someone who is younger and somehow more qualified will one day be taking your job, and doing it for less money too. Pretty soon, it wll probably be sent to India. Thank you, out-sourcing. Let’s not even mention what a pain that is. Getting old and dying isn’t much of a picnic either, but guess who it happens to? Everyone! For a lot of people, it is more a pain than a pleasure. Regrets start to surface, days get shorter. Time stops taking itself and decides it wants to hurry for once. People close to you reach the end of their lives, and their absence is beyond any physical pain. Worlds become smaller, and lights become duller, and then "poof," you are decrepit and possibly senile. Whether they mean to or not, your children get busy with their lives

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and leave you, well enough, alone. Only you don’t want to be alone. And you damn sure don’t want to be put in a home, where the care is just north of a minimum-security prison. But there you are, alone in a small room, broken hope, and shattered dignity; so much pain. Life, then, is pain. And I don’t even need to get into the purely physical pain. That’s a paranoid rant for another time.

••• WonKyong Jang

Threads of Red April Hall

Drawing 2 WonKyong Jang

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HCC-Northwest College Review

Take A Seat Rahul Rao

Seen on a bench this morning: a man in a grey coat and apple green tie, His mind a maelstrom of thought. His hands, coarse and weathered, sit still upon his lap. His eyes dart back and forth, reading the air for answers. The world hurries past, yet some take notice. These nymphs, these beauties, these sparks flicker towards him, Yet he remains indifferent like the moth. He longs for love, he craves the healing touch of grace. But he can’t reach out. Or is it because he won’t? Fate is a cruel snake, with bitter herbs and spices. So he sits on his bench, his apple green tie fluttering in the wind, Watching the world that speeds by like a semi filled with explosives. The numbing gaze that pierces the aether. And it comes to me. Now I know there are bored, beautiful people everywhere.

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Reservations

Required

April Hall

April Hall

•••

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Getting Through The Night Ron Radom

Getting through the night is becoming harder and harder. Last night in bed, I spent three uneasy hours wondering how many of the dead animals along the highway had committed suicide. I’m sure some religion in the Far East believes it’s possible for Hank Williams to have been reincarnated as a rooster, only to be so disgusted with modern music that he strutted along I-10 during rush hour to seek a swift end to his misery. Some call it a coward’s way out. I call it expert timing. When I finally did fall asleep, I had the same dreadful nightmare in which I’m having brunch with Roosevelt and Gandhi at the Pierre Hotel while both of them are discussing their crowning life achievements – moments of overcoming great challenge and adversity on the world stage – after which they turn to me, as if prompting me to explain my great accomplishment. I freeze momentarily and wake up in a cold sweat. Despair. Ever since Hannah left me, I’ve taken up drinking. I don’t particularly enjoy the consumption of alcohol, but it seems like the poetic thing to do when a woman leaves you. Besides, it helps a little with falling asleep, and without a doubt it helps with vomiting in the morning (if that’s what you’re going for). Don’t let the consensus of the international medical community fool you, there is no healthier way to start the morning than throwing up last night’s mistakes, followed by a stiff drink if you dare. Oatmeal is for Quakers and fascists. Although I hear Mussolini was more of an omelet man… Back to my troubles falling asleep: I’ve never been an easy sleeper, but lately more than ever, turning out the lights has been a cue for all of the failures of

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my past relationships to surface. I always begin with Tina. I met her while driving my landlord to his court-ordered Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He was always far too drunk to drive, so he agreed to lower my rent if I chaperoned him to his meetings. I always felt morally torn about doing so, but supporting two illegitimate children through college is by no means cheap, and every dollar counts these days so I gave in. Besides, driving a souse to a local church’s community center was the closest thing I’ve done to organized religious activity since my brief job as a clerk for the National Jewish Center for Circumcision. Tina would always be waiting outside the church, wearing leg warmers and an oversized, pastel-colored, knitted sweater, while holding up a cigarette that she puffed carefully as not to damage her meticulously made up face and intentionally frizzed hair. She looked like a background dancer from a Cindy Lauper video, only she apparently had not changed clothes since the video shoot in 1987, and subsequently her outfit showed several cigarette burns. These she wore with pride, like a decorated soldier. Class. Her body and face were both rail thin, and the bags under her eyes clearly stated that she had seen a few things in her lifetime – possibly not the most pleasant things, considering she was standing outside of an AA meeting. Nonetheless, I was attracted to her immediately. “Care to join me for a drink?” I asked her one night after dropping off my landlord. “I’m in the program,” she replied with slight disgust, looking at me as if I were a pedophile walking naked through an elementary school playground. I looked at her and said with a smile, “I know, that’s why I figured you could use one.” She jumped into the passenger seat of my car and away we went. In retrospect, this relationship was probably not founded on the most sacred of grounds. 25


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A few cases of bourbon and eight months later, Tina left me for an excommunicated priest. The irony was overwhelming. Although it hurt to lose a lover and a companion, I was impressed with the fact that we lasted so long and I lost no sleep over Tina’s absence. Nonetheless, I can’t help but think about her on particularly restless nights. In the few years to follow, I had my fair share of promiscuous relationships. Although none were especially noteworthy, I always think fondly of Suzie Q, a flight attendant from Dallas. She introduced me to the cultural things in life, you know, like cocaine. That affair ended in tears, following a trip to the local branch of Planned Parenthood, after which I never heard from her again. Until Hannah, however, there had not been a single woman who kept me up at night. But within four days of her leaving, I had fully memorized the granular pattern of my bedroom ceiling. And more than anything, I constantly replayed our final conversation in my head, over and over and over, in some desperate attempt to figure out what exactly just happened. Hannah and I had been dating for nearly six months. She was a junior professor at the university and I courted her in proper romantic fashion: long walks under oak-lined pathways, gourmet picnics on graceful spring afternoons, sex with contraception; I was a true gentleman. Hannah was quiet and reserved, often times to a fault. It was difficult to elicit anger from her, and often times seemingly any emotion at all. Be careful what you wish for, I suppose…one evening, I accidentally spilled a glass of chardonnay on a stack of Lou Reed records that Hannah had been accumulating in my apartment. I enjoyed Lou Reed but by no means did I consider these to be collector’s items – I always thought his song writing peaked near the end of his days with the

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Velvet Underground – so I didn’t feel too bad about the mishap and continued on as if nothing happened. “How dare you disgrace this humble troubadour’s work with white wine?? At the very least, grace the gentlemen with red wine. Lou Reed would have been honored to be soaked in a fine cabernet, but white? Have you no shame, man? Do you plan on spilling alcohol on my belongings on a regular basis?” I politely overlooked the fact that she had just polished a fifth of vodka, but her words stung with vengeance. The beast within her had taken over and she was clearly operating on a primal, animalistic level. Apparently I had been frustrating her for some time, and she used this opportunity to expose her emotional backlog. The girl continued to berate, throwing in any personalized offensive remark that would come to mind “Your cooking is third-rate and you’re terrible in bed.” I felt only the latter to be true, but when it rains it pours. I could not help but let my eyes water. “There you go,” she continued, “crying just like your mother.” She had never met my mother, as she had been deceased for many years, nor had I spoke much about her, but it seemed a fitting thing to say in the context of a drunken ramble, so I could not really blame her for throwing it in. “Touché,” I thought silently. In the middle of her tirade, Hannah reached for her coat with determination, rushed out the door and slammed it behind her. Although her attack was unwarranted, I’ve had difficulty trying to blame Hannah for her actions. Human emotion is far too complex for me to break it down into black and white, and for all I know she could have seen me as some chauvinist pig. She left behind her stack of records, fittingly containing Doris Day’s recording from 1956, “Whatever Will Be, Will Be.” And as the tune goes… “When 27


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I was young, I fell in love; I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead, Will we have rain bows day after day; Here’s what my sweetheart said, Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be; The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera; What will be, will be.” “What will be, will be,” I joined in singing. I never heard from Hannah again. •••

burnt out w Stanley Kaminsky 28

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CAVE Sonya Sofranko

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I was there— In York, when Edward Longshanks, like the Pharaoh who forgot Joseph, Forgot how we paid the ransom and saved his great-uncle Richard from exile. He set our people to the torch and sword. He’d learned from his great-uncle how successful the Crusader-Knights were At fund-raising up and down the Rhine. I was there.

I Was There Ira J. Black

I was there— When the mountain belched smoke and fire. I stood there in fear and heard the dread words And the question implied— Barely comprehending, I answered, “I will do and I will hear,” Not knowing what. I was there. I was there— When our king built his house…his homage to God. Remembering the skill— “The wisdom of the heart”— Of my grandfather Bezalel, I helped shape the cedarwood planks and the golden pomegranates. Hiram thought I had promise, Said he’d mention me to the king. I was there. I was there— When another king, Nebuchadnezzar, razed Solomon’s temple Of cedarwood planks and golden pomegranates. He neither knew nor cared about my grandfather Bezalel. He was now our king and Babylon was now the center of the universe.

I was there— At the Caliph’s court in Al Andalus, Listening to Moses ben Maimon dispense medicine to the Muslims And philosophy to the Jews. Listening to Yehuda Halevi and ibn Gabirol read their latest lyrics. Could the flowers in the first garden have smelled as sweet as those in the gardens of the Alhambra? The scent of both have long since faded. I was there. I was there— In Paris, we lived then as now in the Marais. I heard the apostate Nicholas Donin denounce And Odo of Chateauroux condemn The sacred Talmud for heresies against the Church. They tried her, convicted her, and they burned her at the stake. I was there.

I was there. I was there— When the teacher from Galilee and 10,000 other rabbis Were flayed, burned and crucified. For teaching Torah and defying Lex Romana. An empire has little patience with rebellions And God only knew, Jacob’s children were a rebellious lot.

I was there— On the quay at Cadiz, waving farewell to my cousins. They were sailing to haven on a Genoese caravel. There was no room for me— My fate was in God’s hands. They never reached haven but were drowned by the Brigand of Genoa. Their fate, too, was in God’s hands. I was there.

I was there. 32

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I was there— In Warsaw, on Tlomackie Street, Scrounging for food, scrounging for bullets, Keeping the children quiet, keeping my own nerves quiet, Praying the kid my father bought for two zuzim Would survive another seder. I was there. I was there— When Adam was born. Not the Adam who ate the fruit in the Garden, So long ago, it seems only yesterday. My Adam eats his apple dipped in honey, For a sweet new year And wonders, “When God asks a question, Does He already know the answer?” I was there. I was there— When Seth was born. Not the Seth who was Adam and Eve’s third son And last hope for a kaddisher. My Seth is a scientist and mathematician, Who asks, scientifically, logically, When will I be finished studying Torah And understands the implications of Infinity when I say, “God willing, never.”

Casa Fisheye Tom Haymes

I was there. We were there— When the mountain belched smoke and fire. We stood there, no longer in fear, and heard the dread words. We comprehended the question implied— I, he, they, we answered—each in his own particular voice— “Hineni” I am here.

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HCC-Northwest College Review

My First Knockout Daniel Plunkett

The first time I saw Abernathy’s Boxing Gym, the place was a piece of crap. It smelled like mold and jock straps, there were bricks missing everywhere, the heavy bags were all losing stuffing, and every once in a while, if you hit the targets along the wall hard enough, you could get tiny chunks of ceiling plaster to fall. Somehow, Stan Abernathy always had the place full of people working various speed bags, heavy bags, each listening to a version of “Eye of the Tiger” in his head. I was no different. I grew up with a very unfortunate disposition: the small guy with the big mouth. I got it from my father. I think that’s part of the reason why my parents let me start boxing in the first place. They were hoping it would shut me the hell up every once in a while. They thought that if I had some kind of outlet, I

BOXER 36

Sonya Sofranko

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wouldn’t get in so many fights at school. They were so wrong; it only turned me into a more efficient shit-talking machine. When I found the gym close to my house, I begged my mom and dad to let me start practicing. Every day after coming home from school, my parents would get a full report on why boxing was the greatest sport ever. “Mom Mom Mom, did you know that the Spartans used to box to prepare for sword and shield fighting?” “Yes Daniel, you told me that yesterday,” Mom would always reply. “You know this is never going to happen right?” my father would add, which was my cue to turn on the waterworks. It was only a matter of time before they broke down, as parents always do when they have hardheaded persistent children, much like myself. The day my parents cratered was one of the happiest days of my life. I remember running, room to room, like a little demon, screaming and jumping and shadow boxing my way out of the house to do a Rocky style victory lap around our recently covered above-ground pool. When I finished cheering, my parents brought me inside for an explanation of “The Rules.” “There will be absolutely no hitting of anyone in this household, especially your sister,” my mother demanded. “I know, Ma” “You better not hit any of the kids at school, neither.” “Why whould I, ma?” “Because," she replied sarcastically, "you have a short temper and a wise mouth.” “I get it from you two.” “Keep it up, see if we let you go,” my father chimed in. “Fine," I muttered disapprovingly, "I promise I will not hit anyone other than my training partners and people that I meet in the ring. Is that accept38

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able?” “Who said anything about you fighting in the ring? You’re going to train only,” my mother yelled. “I can’t watch my baby get hurt,” she cried. “Ma, don’t worry. I’m Irish. My skull is made out of 6 inches of steel.” Stan Abernathy was not an impressive man by anyone’s standards. He stood a menacing 5’4", weighed about 240 pounds, and always had some chewing tobacco pursed in between his bulldog-like jowls. I found him in his office, working on tally sheets, and expenses. He looked up with one eye, giving me the once-over before asking me what I wanted. “I want to box,” I squeaked. He looked me over once, twice, made me turn around, made me run in place while lifting my arms, and just when things were starting to feel a little gay, he grumbled, “Ok I’ll teach you. You’re a righty aren’t ya?” “Yessir,” I said excitedly. “If you fuckin' do what I tell you, you might actually survive a couple of fights,” he said, waddling back to his chair. “Thank you, sir,” I stuttered. I always thought boxing was just about being faster and pounding the crap out of the other person. Wrong. It takes discipline, training, and lots of hard work. The first thing the tubby little fucker told me was that I was too heavy. He would watch me jump rope, and would jab snide remarks under my ribs, like, “It must be jelly, ‘cuz jam don’t shake like that.” I always wanted to say, “Fuck you,” but instead I just worked harder. His method of weight loss by snide remarks worked, too. I cut out 15 pounds of baby fat, making me square but not quite thin. I was agile, with a little bit of weight, and a lot of aggression. At first. Then I slowly began to study the art of boxing. I didn’t know this until I started training, but there are several different 39


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kinds of boxers. There are Out-fighters (most notably, Ali) who control the fight with long reach and well placed jabs and crosses. They’re considered to be the smartest fighters. They’re mostly noted as people whose fights “go to the cards.” Then there are the Sluggers, guys whose footwork and speed aren’t that great, but they have punches that will leave you in a coma (think George Foreman). Then there is the Counter Puncher, an intelligent fighter with strong defense who waits for you to make a mistake or overstep yourself, who will then quickly punish you with a power cross or a haymaker (think Holyfield or Hagler). Much like my boxing heroes Mike Tyson and Rocky Marciano, I was what they called a Swarmer, or an In-fighter. I would crowd opponents with quick and powerful combinations, never letting them stray too far from my fists. I had a mean left jab and a right cross, and hook that my dad used to say, “Left peoples’ heads ringing so bad that they’d try to answer the phone.” The problem with being an In-fighter is that you have to have “a chin,” meaning you have to be able to take hits. I never really liked getting hit, so I would always spend the first round showing off my defensive moves, bobbing, weaving, blocking and, in general, dancing around my opponent. When I turned 17, my parents finally allowed me to fight for the first time. Years of training came down to one moment: me standing across from a tall, ginger headed kid with freckles and pulsing biceps. I wasn’t nervous; he looked slow to me, like a retarded chimpanzee. His red hair was pulled up into little tufts trying to climb off of his giant forehead. The first round was a showcase of my defensive skill, with me only catching one jab slightly to my ribs. I didn’t even throw a punch that first round. The second round, I proceeded to beat the kid like a rented mule. My combinations were leaving him bruised and bloody. Every time he clenched, I got in two solid uppercuts to the soft part of his chin. The second time he tried to clench me was his last, as I cork40

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screwed a punch from my hips, busting through his guard and cracking his nose and upper lip, as crimson droplets of blood sparked from his stunned face. My next three fights went similarly, with me dancing around and sending the other guys home with their eyes swollen shut, holding their teeth in their hands. My fifth fight was where everything changed. I was at my best when I met Xiao-Han. I was standing 5’8”, 153 pounds, and had recently been moved up to light middleweight. I had practiced every day, every morning and every night, often times to the detriment of my schoolwork, although I still maintained A’s and B’s. Xiao-Han, on the other hand, looked nothing like me. He loomed like a crude mixture of rock and hardened steel. His features were chiseled, his chest and abs were swollen and veiny, and his face was cold and merciless. He looked like a Chinese communist super soldier experiment gone wrong, recently released on the American public. His English was poor, but his hands were fast and heavy. When I sat down in my corner, in my red and blue trunks, I felt the first wave of panic set in. My gut rumbled, and that cockiness I was so famous for, picked up its suitcase and bade me adieu. The bell rang, and the referee’s words danced around my head. I backpedaled to the corner, protecting my face from Xiao’s hands. I fired three rapid punches toward his midsection, leaving a hook floating for him to intercept, knocking me against the ropes, only to be followed by a hard jab to the midsection. I collapsed against the ring, as the referee threw his fingers in my face. “One, two, three, four, five…” I pulled myself up, and with a smirk, I placed my hands in front of my face. I could hear Mickey in my mind screamin’, “Keep hittin’ ‘em in the ribs, ya see? Don’t let that bastard breathe!” Whatever Abernathy was barking at me, I couldn’t hear it, all I could hear was the sound of the bell, as I pushed out 41


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three more shots to the body. I followed that up with my patented right hook, as I felt something hard slam into my jaw. Xiao was John Henry, and I was the railway. My face slapped the canvas, and then my world went dark. When I woke up, Abernathy was standing over me with a water bottle, and my dad gazed over his left shoulder. “Pass the Kool-Aid,” I said, as I slipped into deeper unconsciousness. I awoke again to the stench of chew, the concerned voice of my father, and the sobs of my mother in the corner with a handkerchief. “How ya feelin kid?” Abernathy managed over a mouthful of chew. “My face hurts. A lot.” Mom looked up from her corner, her eyes bloodshot with tears. Her mascara had drawn funny lines down her face. “I’m ok, Ma, really.” “I told you I didn’t want you to fight!” she screamed. “You did all right kid, you got a lot of guts. That’s all I could ever ask for,” Abernathy spouted out, as little black chunks of chew hung on to his chin. “I gotta get back and check on the other guys,” Abernathy mumbled, as he wobbled out the room. “Thanks Stan,” my dad called after. Stan gave a short wave as he turned down the hall. My mom sat down next to me, wiping a trickle of blood from my nose as she kissed my forehead. “Ow, Ma, fuck, that guy just pounded me right there.” “Sorry baby.” She paused, but not before adding, “Don’t swear at me.” “Sorry Ma.” “Son,” my father chimed, “ what do you say about giving the fights a rest, huh?” He put his hand on my shoulder as he sat down next to me. “I’d really rather not have to go through all of this again, and I’m sure your mother never wants to see anything like it again.” 42

HCC-Northwest College Review

“Never again,” she added. “But, I mean, I love it. It’s the most exciting thing that I’ve ever done.” “Getting your ass beat?” my father jabbed sarcastically. “That’s not funny, Mark,” my mother added. The room was silent forever. “Fine,” I sighed. “Can I continue to train?” “I don’t care, as long as you don’t ever get into a fight like that again,” Mom said. “I’m with your mother on that one.” “Ok,” I sighed. “Besides, you’re too pretty for all this anyways,” my Mom said with a smile. With that I proceeded to wrap my arms around my parent’s shoulders, and they helped carry me out of the dressing room. “It smells like shit in here. How about we go get some burgers,” my dad asked enthusiastically. We drove to Bubba’s, and I had a double buffalo burger with cheese. It was the best one I ever tasted. •••

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Untitled Sonya Sofranko

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Restavec

Micheline Slaterly

Thank you all for coming. I want hand. My name is Micheline Slatto apologize to any Haitians in the tery. I am a Speaking Associate of audience for the things that I am gothe American Anti-Slavery Group ing to say. You are not in any shape or and an anti-slavery activist. form responsible for what is about to Different people come to this be disclosed. I am here today to enissue in different ways; for many of lighten the rest of the world, and this you, modern slavery is a concern, community, about a situation that we but it can feel remote. You know Haitienne call about it, but most of In Haiti, restavec are considrestavec, which ered to be something less than the time it seems far is the domes- human. They do the work that away. ticating of servants will not, and are treated For me, the term young children like trash. "slavery" does not that haven't evoke images of planyet reached puberty. These children tations, slave markets or auction are in charge of all of the household blocks. "Slavery," for me, is about a chores. As you can imagine, life for much more recent history: my own these children is an extension of hell. history. You will hear about the abuse, the When I was 14, I was trafficked behavior, and the type of people that from Haiti, where I was born, to put them through it. And you will be Connecticut, where I was held as a amazed to know that it’s not strangslave until I was 18. For 4 years, I ers. Often times it will be a family was a slave right here in New Engmember. Why am I saying all this? land. Because I have experienced it first But my story begins much earlier,

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in Haiti, when I was very young. By me with a flexible rod made specifithe time I was five, I had already lost cally for that purpose. both of my parents due to political When that wasn't enough, she chaos. I had no other choice but to would send me out into the hot sun move in with my aunt and uncle in to kneel for hours on a cheese grater the village of Jacmel, hoping that they that she covered with large pieces of would be able to give me fraternal rock salt that ground into my skin. or motherly love. But instead of carI often dreamed of freedom. Back ing for me, they made me into what at my aunt's, one of my many chores we call in Haiti their restavec, a child was to wash and fold the laundry slave. In that instant, I lost my child- each day. I balanced a huge basket of hood forever. I found myself living in clothes on my head and carried them an unbearable situation. to the lake, along the same path that Though I was only five, I had I took to fetch water. Though the to maintain a household for twelve basket was so heavy it made my neck people. Every morning I woke becramp, it was my favorite part of the fore dawn to make the first of many day. Away from the house, I had time daily trips for water at a lake miles to think, and to grieve. During that away. After the other children went to time on my own, I could miss my school, I began the parents, and imagine As a woman with powerful long list of chores connections, she was the that they were coming I was responsible person you went to in Haiti for me. I could dream for - so many that when you needed to get out of being rescued. any hesitation One day it seemed of the country. would mean leavas if my prayers had ing things undone. When I couldn't been answered. I came home to find finish my chores, or if I let the water a beautiful wom an visiting with my supply run low, my aunt would beat aunt. When she saw me, she imme-

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diately began asking my aunt lots of questions. Who was I? Why was I so dirty? When she found out who my parents were, she began to cry; she had known my father. She was furious when she saw how my aunt had been treating me. She was another cousin. Her husband was an important official in the government of Port-au-Prince, and she was a very powerful woman. I had never seen anyone speak to my aunt like she did. She fussed over me, bathed me and brushed my hair. When she told my aunt that I would be returning to the city with her, my aunt did not dare disagree. The next year felt like paradise. I had my own room, beautiful new clothes, tutors to help me with my schoolwork, and a driver to take me to my private school. She took me shopping and gave me pocket money to spend on sweets. Nannies took care of me, and there were servants to do the chores that I had once had to do. But everything changed when she became pregnant with her own child.

I was no longer special; once again, I was restavec. I had to move out of my beautiful room and into the maids’ quarters. Instead of my comfortable bed and my own bathroom, I had a hard cot and an outdoor toilet. I was back to doing hours of chores each day, before and after school. I am lucky that I was allowed to stay in school, even if I no longer went to my prestigious private school. Most restavecs do not even learn to read. I didn’t learn until my cousin took me in; at 8 or 9 years old, I was finally learning the alphabet. She hired tutors to help me catch up in school; they had to hold my hands to teach me to write. Her initial kindness may not have lasted, but I would not be where I am today without it. I lived with her until I was fourteen. During those years, I caught glimpses of the real source of her wealth, though I didn’t understand it then. As a woman with powerful connections, she was the person you went to in Haiti when you needed to

HCC-Northwest College Review

From Antony Gormley's "Sculpture in the Close" Photo by Michael Sofranko

cont’d on pg 50

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get out of the country. I was so used to seeing people come to the house for false documents that I didn’t even know it was illegal. Some of the people who got false documents from her were wealthy, and leaving for their own reasons. Others - like me, though I didn’t know it yet - had been bought and paid for by relatives already in America. If I wanted to go to America, my cousin told me, I would have to work hard to get in. She gave me a passport with a new name, and for a month she drilled me on my new identity, my answers to the questions the customs officials would ask. I was to tell them that I was visiting my brother and sister in Miami, which I believed to be the truth. It was only when I arrived in Norwalk, Connecticut that I understood the truth. For $2,500, I had been sold to another family of cousins. In Haiti, restavec are considered to be something less than human. They do the work that servants will not, and are treated like trash. As a child 50

at my aunt and uncle’s, my meals consisted of scraps, and I ate alone in a corner; as a teenager in Portau¬Prince, my cousin shoved me aside in favor of her natural daughter. All my life, the people who should have loved me only abused and exploited me. The stigma of restavec clung to me. Still, it was painful to hear that number. $2,500. That was all I was worth to them: money. I started to believe that was all I was worth, period. I was fourteen, thousands of miles away from home and from anyone I knew. What could I do? I made breakfast and got my younger cousins off to school. I cleaned and did the laundry. I endured abuse, not only from my adult cousins, but from their children as well, who screamed at me and hit me when I woke them up in the morning for school. By the time I got them to their bus stop, I was always late for my own school. The principal called home fre-

HCC-Northwest College Review

quently to find out why I was so frustration; not even death seemed to late all the time. “She’s just lazy,” my want me. cousin would tell him. I could add When I turned 15, my cousin that to the long list of outrages I had told me to get a job. She told me she to keep to myself each day. I got up would deposit my earnings in a bank earlier than anyone account for me, so that else, and went to bed ...I tried to take my own I could save up to buy life. Even that ended in later. I did everya car; but 2 years later, frustration; not even death when I went to her for thing - and I was the seemed to want me. lazy one. my money, there was I felt more and nothing there. more isolated, unwanted and alone. “Nobody lives for free in AmeriI had no time to make friends or ca,” she told me. do my homework. My classmates I stopped giving her my paymade fun of my tattered, secondchecks, and she started charging me hand clothing. We all know that high rent. school is hard enough - if you don’t Not long after that, I finally sumhave the right clothes, forget it. moned the courage - or perhaps the A few of my teachers noticed that desperation - to run away. It was something was wrong and reached after I graduated high school. I came out to me, but I was afraid to tell the home from work at the usual time. truth. My cousin had threatened to I opened the door and when my send me back to Haiti - where my cousin saw me, she grabbed my ear other cousins would kill me - if I told and dragged me inside, screaming anyone. I believed her. at me for being so late. She twisted My feelings of helplessness grew my ear so hard that it bled. It wasn’t so overwhelming that twice I tried to the first time, but, at that moment, take my own life. Even that ended in all the anger, the resentment, the

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pain that had built up over all those years, boiled up inside of me. I broke free and pushed her, hard, and I screamed right back at her. I didn’t care anymore. She could kill me if she wanted to, she could call immigration, but I would not be her slave - I would not be anyone’s slave - anymore. I felt angry and defiant, but once I left I felt scared and helpless, too. I wandered around all afternoon. I didn’t know what to do or where to go, and it was getting dark fast. Finally, I knocked on the door of a neighbor that I knew. She took me in, and with my small savings I was able to rent a small apartment in her house. I knew I would have to work very hard, but I was determined. I moved to a different city. I took on two jobs, went to nursing school and earned a degree. I became involved with the American Anti-Slavery Group when I met Liora Kasten, the former Director, in 2005 at a panel discussion on mod52

ern day slavery. I felt inspired by the work AASG does to free slaves in Sudan, and to let people here know that slavery isn’t history. They make it possible for people like me to tell my story. Many of you, I know, are shocked to hear my story - but there are many like it. Though I am free, millions of people around the world are still enslaved. I speak out because this can’t be a secret anymore; it can’t be a fluke, or a special report on the evening news. The truth is, it’s happening every day. It’s happening in Haiti. It happened to me. Modern day slavery plagues every country, including the United States. This is one of the great moral struggles of our days; we need to bring the same passion and commitment to this struggle that the Abolitionists of this country brought to the struggle against slavery based upon color 160 years ago. The thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution, passed in 1865 at the conclusion of the Civil War, left no ambiguity about the

HCC-Northwest College Review

legal standing of slavery in America “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude .. shall exist within the United States.” I tell my story because I believe I have a responsibility to use my voice and my experience to speak out about and against modern day slavery. Today, I pass that responsibility to you. You took the first step by coming here today, by listening to what I have to say. But you have a voice, too. Use it. Speak out. Keep educating yourself. Help me educate others. This is not something that will go away after you leave here today. It won’t take care of itself. A news report or a feature story can’t fix it. But it’s a start. There are some steps you can take if you suspect that anyone might be living in enslavement. There are several agencies for you to contact. First is The American Anti Slavery group. Second is Anti Slavery International (www.antislavery.org). And third is The Coalition against Traf-

ficking in Women (www.catwinternational.org). I want to thank all of you again for coming today. Your presence and your contributions make more difference than you know. Again, thank you.

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Tomfoolery Kurt Lovelace

1 F*** yes, summer kept us guessing as to where the minutiae and mischievous play would lead, being land-locked yet consumed with such largesse, such laissez-faire that we just wanted to lambaste any passing idiot with sweet succulent words. But was this to make us feel better like sex, like bread with butter, like milk left out with cookies for the little people who dance at midnight in white puddles of light? I don't want to pork you for no reason although that might be nice, sometime, later the way the government does it, unexpectedly when you've got your pants down, bent looking for papers, lighting-up to send yourself away. These words are a fiction like everything else and you were expecting? What? Conjugal waves that break in air the leaves of the basking queen's disregard? She is unrealistic, her ideas obsolete: she suffers her way as she fails to prove with an odd theory of every sort a whale's flying colors, how everything is, fractionally thought-out in splay trees. I've taken enough shit from people to appreciate your position: the night raven, dead yacht webbed to pier, the sweaty plowmen's eye plucked, Chopin rubbing the soft wood of white ivories, inconsolably

Diagonal Lori Greig 54

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for so much of life is lying to oneself to get one’s way to nowhere special, really It’s surprising, but isn't, as it spreads out into the broader contexts that live down the street stamping or stomping their feet to keep warm or complain, depending upon the whether of questions one puts to them, slowly carefully insisting to no avail, for by my own doing, I’ve pushed away so much of life, gutted it like an economy. 2 What? What did you say? “If her tender regrets, whispered by the fireplace, could swoon you back to smarmy madness, recalcitrant, stuck in your fetish like German strudel, joy-stepping.” But I have no way of knowing if how you think of me is how I think of ourselves, bending to scratch my cat behind the ear, or if the taste of taking my first sip of latte in the morning matches the fought avenues, the sparse spaces, the architected distance we’ve built between ourselves and anything new we meet. Just how far has the farmhouse moved beyond us, vast, built-up, unknowable? I think that we can safely say nothing matters like it did when we first met touching snow on tongue, that first moment of it where every experience since, repeats, melts into being borne into what we take for granted years after forgetting how it was we first met. But I exaggerate. A lot. Especially the before. And no one wants to listen to any of this.

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3 I’m only going to highlight the truly interesting things I hate about you. Sit back and take offense. At puberty you stalked neighborhood bullies with bb-guns. Well I was once one, and made my popcorn money beating the bejesus out of smaller boys. Now you’re in my used car lot gawking at the swelled sticker prices. Christ couldn’t you go somewhere, help a blind man attempt a street? 4 Enjoy what you can offer. The other lunatics will gladly accept everything like a taste of something sweet to fool the brain I think the intent of all this is unmistakeable confusion. I feel a chilly-willy coming on, don’t you? She keeps coriander and other sundries locked in the pantry, where I keep my gun, mind always in a twaddle of conversations as she flips through googles of news feeds. How you turn-on your cocky gametic smile eludes them like my indifference building, I cannot say how tall, except that when I kick a dog they make you pay penance in a most public way, like riot fire spilt unto night, watering windows in a bright ocher light. CNN asks how best to respond to all of this? I step out onto the window ledge. I launch my body like a missile. •••

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Partridge Road Jennifer Vacca

HCC-Northwest College Review

ents are gone the door opens, lets shy boys in, where they sit, stare at the place where the roof angles up, always up, never at the girl child, never like grandmother still staring down at the eyes watching her, where they never

Home of home, where mother had picked the mesquite beans once

quite licked the wounds clean, or made the cracks go away, but the sweet

brown and dried of spring, a shape so different from when they first un-

and simple burn of the turning mesquite flowers lingers on their gentle,

furled into playful yellow bells, but then snapped shut, long, and she pick-

pressed, brave lips.

ing them, making the children pick them, soak, wait, turns into a jelly they spread on bread for months here in the place where the house sinks

•••

slowly, where father has tried to water the cracks, where scorpions gather to bask in the cool puddles seeping back up, here where the children swung from the trees, the bark overlapping, twisted, like a fan of generations, here where brother fell once only later to write with permanent stain along his legs words of hate, “I am ugly, fat, stupid,” here where the cat ate the parakeet, the other the rat, it is always the cat, here where grandmother stares into the swirls of caramel carpet, the same space where diapers were once changed, forts once built, mother once cried pleading for the children to just do something, but grandmother sees only the eyes that are always watching her, the same she says are in the face cards—the jacks, the queens and the suicide kings—she pokes their eyes out, marks the card, and hides it here with a tissue of candy corn, the sweet orange a treat for the children, the children that play outside running in the grass, tipping over the bird bath father never replaced, the children that later sneak through bedroom windows, hiding under midnight and the web of spindly legged garden spiders, here where the roof angles up and houses holidays, holydays, a host of would-be Broadway plays the children wrote, in the same place where they lie, later confess an F on a vocabulary test, the same where when par-

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Unleaning Against Play at 10 PM Kurt Lovelace

The houses are ghosted by bleached numinous nightgowns. None of them are peculiar with hand-stitched hems of olive, or olive wheels with plum flesh, or plum sashes with saffron hoops. None of them are unimaginable, with blinking gummi bear buttons and growing surcingled espaliers. Sleepers are not going to float on pansies and anemones. Only, here and there, a decrepit sailor, drunk and adrift in his boots, clutches tigers in burning weather.

•••

Untitled Si Ying Li

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THE ELECTRIC KOOL AID ACID TIGGENS Mary Hayes

I was staring at the blackboard at the front of the classroom. That squat, domineering little harpy bent down towards me, flashing a beastly grin. Her beady eyes gleamed with a preternatural, inhuman glee, as she carefully unfolded a small piece of notebook paper. Hers were monstrous caterpillar brows, resting on a vast expanse for forehead, which was pulled taut by a thinning grey bun. After bearing her yellow fangs at me for a few moments, she towed herself back towards the front of the room. She contorted her inflamed, arthritic knuckles around a piece of chalk and scratched a message into the board. The note wasn’t terribly flattering. Despite the fact that I had called the bat every foul name in the English language, she seemed to be enjoying herself immensely. She even faithfully reproduced the little caricature I had added. After completing all of this, she walked towards my desk, bouncing a bit with every step. I was genuinely surprised, since I thought her body had stopped doing that some time during the Victorian era. To make it worse, her drooping, pendulous breasts followed that nauseating cadence. I hoped she’d eventually hang herself with them. “Well, miss,” she breathed. The faint scent of tuna traveled on the wafts of her rancid breath. “I hope that was as enjoyable for you as it was for me.” It was difficult to keep a straight face. In the peripherals of my vision I could see my classmates begin to snicker. They all made an effort to hide it from Ms. Tiggens. I shrugged, looking down at my notebook. It had the beginnings of another masterpiece scrawled across it. “At the very least, I hope it was worth this detention you’re about to receive.” I glared at her. She flicked the note onto my desk. “Right after school. I hope you’ll enjoy cleaning the classroom.” I groaned. Ms. Tiggens snatched this sign of her victory and sashayed back to her 62

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throne in the back of the classroom. “Class dismissed.” After several minutes of having nothing to do, you begin to notice all of these small details. Right now, my eye was caught on the small crack in the face of the clock. It was just shy of 3:30, but I couldn’t really tell because one of the hands was bent a bit. I don’t know how any of this ever happened, because it had just been replaced and it spent most of its short life behind a rusted metal cage. “Miss Patricia?” I jumped as she acknowledged me. I didn’t even notice her walking in. She had one of those bright yellow custodian buckets and a filthy old rag. She stared at me for a few moments before unceremoniously dropping them on my desk. She walked back to hers again, picking up a book that had been left there, and continued from where she had left off earlier. I groaned while I heaved the bucket off of my desk. Some of it splashed onto the carpet when I put it down. How did the woman manage to carry it? I threw the tattered grey rag into the bucket and let it rest in the soapy water. After a bit of procrastinating, I picked it up and turned towards Ms. Tiggens. “So. . . what am I supposed to do with this thing?” She flicked through her book for a few more seconds before looking up to answer. “Clean the blackboard, if you would. I expect it to be spotless when you’re finished.” She looked back down and continued her reading. I wrung the rag and proceeded to clean the years of dust collected on the chalkboard. I figured it would only take a couple of minutes. With long, sweeping strokes, I polished its grimy surface. I turned towards Ms. Tiggens again. “I’m finished.” She glanced upwards, a little perturbed that I’d interrupted her. She pointed a gnarled fingernail towards a small, almost unnoticeable spot. “I thought I had told you that I wanted this board to be spotless, Miss Morel.” I wanted to complain, but a sharp look quickly cut that effort down. Sighing, I 63


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heaved the bucket off of my desk, letting it join me in the torture. The spot was stubborn in its efforts to be a total pain. I pressed against it with all of my strength for several minutes, often rewetting the rag in the soapy emulsion. It was growing milky and opaque with all of the chalk dust. During this, Ms. Tiggens was completely enraptured by whatever she was reading. I bet it was something by Jane Austen. “Hey, uh. . . what are you reading, anyway?” Her eyebrow raised a bit. Deciding to indulge me, she raised the book. “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” My mouth dropped. She chuckled under her breath. “What, you weren’t expecting that?” I slowly shook my head. “Were you there, or something.” “I suppose you could say something like that.” “Were you some kind of hippie? Did you, like, drop acid?” She laughed heartily. “Do you honestly think I would tell you that after speaking to you for only a few minutes?” “You did!” She chuckled again. “Nonsense. Now, if you would, clean the desks.” So much for that camaraderie. I started with the desk closest to the chalkboard and furthest from the exit. I rubbed at all of the pencil graffiti donated by my classmates, and it was surprisingly hard to remove. I decided to pry a bit more information out of Ms. Tiggens’ crusty shell. “So, did you ever live on a commune?” She answered quickly, in the manner of a drill sergeant. “Too much trouble. Little interest.” “Man, with that whole free love thing, I bet you got around back in the day!” I quickly slapped my hand to my mouth. I really hoped that I hadn’t said that. First thing: Gross. Second thing: I caused one of the angriest scowls in Ms. Tiggens’ life; it lacked any of the joy of her previous scowls. I probably just killed a hobby. 64

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“Miss Morel, you may leave.” She started marching over to where I was. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean, just let me fini–” She picked up the bucket and stared me down. “Leave.” Turning away quickly, I grabbed my backpack from my desk and ran to catch the last bus of the day. When I arrived the next morning, I was greeted by ebullient laughter. “She’s finally gone!” I laughed a bit for a moment, but it was a really weak one. Overall, the day was pretty uneventful. It was impossible to pay attention to my English teacher, poring over the minutiae of some poem. It was completely normal for Ms. Tiggens to leave; she was only a substitute, after all. But I couldn’t stand all of this unresolved tension, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do about it. After taking the bus home, I walked towards my house. There was a newspaper

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resting on my driveway, so I picked it up. I opened the door and pulled the paper from its plastic wrapper. I thumbed through it, and no particularly interesting headlines caught my eye. Feeling a bit morbid, I decided to go through the obituaries. They always put the most banal anecdotes of a person’s life in the obituaries. It was like reading the same thing over and over again. Probably due to the fact that most people’s lives were terminally boring, but there could at least be a bit more variety than “he was a good husband and father.” If they spiced it up a bit more, they’d be able to get rid of more of grandma’s old crap at the estate sale. Statistically, it was probably bullshit anyway. Still, that didn’t stop me from running my eyes over the columns. One of them caught my attention. Not much to it at all: “C. Tiggens.” Some information about where the funeral would take place. I’d like to say I spent a bit of time debating whether or not I should go, but honestly, I marked my calendar almost immediately. The funeral home wasn’t far away, and the week would pass by quickly enough. It was an ethereally pretty Saturday morning, almost out of character for this dreary little town. I stood at the bus stop, letting the sun warm my face. The bus pulled up and I walked on, giving the driver my fare. I had a bit of time to think. Why was I even going? I was an uninvited guest. Nobody would recognize me. Maybe that was for the best. It would be a long walk back, anyway. On the way to the home, I was passed by many people, all talking and laughing in bright summer apparel. The building itself was a nondescript, unimposing little place. It seemed a misfit among the shops dripping in sunlit pastels. Not many cars were parked in the street beside it, and the parking lot contained only a singular hearse. I walked inside. The room was dimly lit. Floral wallpaper covered the interior and mustard yellow shag, unfashionable even in the seventies, carpeted the floors. The ebony pews were still highly polished, despite years of service. They carried a few scattered old women, all dressed in plain, immaculate black frocks. A bit of hushed chatter sometimes reached my ears, but most stared ahead with grim, creased faces glimmering in the candlelight. I heard my pew creak. 66

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“What are you doing here?” The voice was cold, but familiar. I turned my head to the left, and saw none other than Ms. Tiggens. Her eyes were dewy and a bit red, and had a few more lines surrounding them than I had remembered. “I’m, uh. . . ” “Have you come to regale me with tales of my indiscretions?” I swore I noticed a very subtle smirk, but I decided to chalk it up to the lighting. “No, I just thought that this was something else.” I started to get up, but was stopped by a tug at my sleeve. “You’d cause a scene if you were to leave now. If I were you, I’d sit and be quiet for once in my life.” She turned her head back, clutching at a worn handkerchief. I honestly don’t recall much about the funeral itself, only her eerily calm face, the way she wrung that handkerchief, and how she’d occasionally pause to dab at her eye. After the funeral ended, we both sat there for a few moments without speaking. I decided to break the silence. “I thought this was your funeral, to be honest.” “I thought as much. For what other reason would you be at my late husband’s funeral?” I looked down towards my knees, my folded hands resting above them. A hand softly descend upon my shoulder. “Look, Patricia. . . ” “Look, I mean, I didn’t mean. . . ” My stammering was quickly interrupted. Her face wrinkled into a smile. “Do you need a ride home?” •••

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Venice Low Angle on Canal Stock Footage

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Burano Michael Sofranko

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Winter 2011

Sex Is Better With the Lights On Heather Ruth

John opened the old, creaky door just a crack. “You awake?” The light from the sparsely decorated hallway shown through and spotlighted the huge master bedroom, its white walls covered with pictures of painted spring flowers, serenity beaming from the brush strokes. Sarah opened her eyes tentatively. John’s sandy blonde locks, silhouetted in the light, like an angel from heaven. She rolled over, her eyes adjusting to the light shining in the dark room. Her blood red hair barely visible in the dark, she swept with her hand to control the tousled mess. “Now I am, what do you want?” John opened the door and sauntered in to sit on the bed. The yellow illumination began to sweep over the wrought iron canopy bed, revealing the white lace coverlet cocooning the sleepy Sarah. “So, I wanted to talk to you about last night.” John gingerly put his right hand on her knee, as he scanned the sparse bedroom. Only a sparse tan desk and an antique chest of drawers resided with the black, menacing bed. “What about last night?” Sarah’s pouty lips barely moved. “Well I think, since we're roommates, we should lay some ground rules.” John’s face had a cover of seriousness surrounding his eyes, but mocking his green flannel pajamas. “Ground rules? I think we are way past that. Last night might have meant something for both of us, but we were both being stupid.” Sarah revolved towards John, opening her eyes, rubbing the sleepiness away. “I don’t think it should have happened, I mean sex with your roommate is not a good way to live harmoniously together. It happened, and I think we 70

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should try and get back to where we were.” Sarah raised herself into a leaning position, her elbow framing the AC/DC t-shirt she was wearing. “I agree, that’s why I was ignoring the situation, and avoiding you, but you wanted to act like a girl and sit here and talk about it.” John suddenly removed his hand from her leg, as if it were on fire. His bare feet began sliding over the pink Berber carpet silently. “Why are you mad at me? I thought we were both okay. You didn’t want any attachments, and I was just looking for a good time.” Sighing, Sarah touched his hand, as if to soothe the wound. Her black fingernails, manicured and long, scraped the edges of John’ s tan skin. “I don’t want any attachments, but you and I both know that our relationship before, without the sex, was very dependent. Add in the sex, and BAM!” Sarah’ s hands thundered the one shot applause. “Instant issues.” John put his head in hands, and slowly started to shake his head. “I just don’t understand why we let this happen. We are so close.” John turned, his face like the reflection of a kid who found out Santa isn’t real, turned to rest his arms on his legs like Abe Lincoln in his big chair in Washington. “Look, I like you John, but since we don’t want the same things, I need space to regroup.” John raised himself up and shrugged like it didn’t matter anymore. “I’m sorry. Sex always complicates things. I guess we both decided our lives were too peaceful.” Unable to bear the weight of the conversation, John slowly lowered back into his sitting position, tension radiating from his shoulders. Sarah threw the covers off her scantily clad body. Her red lace underwear quickly flashed 71


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at him, a color out of place in the peaceful room. She grudgingly swung her legs around so she was matching John’ s position on the bed. Her breasts were pushing against the worn fabric. “Talking about this, well, it’s making it worse. I’m tired and want to go back to sleep, so let’s get this over with. Stop being such a girl and let it die a quick death.” She threw her hands up in exasperation. His eyes and those kissable lips, turned towards her. “Okay, I guess I just didn’t want things weird between us. I guess it’s going to have to be weird until it isn’t, right?” John offered the smile of lies, half upturned. Sarah brought her knees close to her chest, and wrapping her arms around her bony knees, she hugged them as if she were seeking comfort. “I’m sorry, but yes. I know its corny for me to say this, but time can heal all wounds. Just be patient.” The death grip clasp she had on her legs released, and Sarah’ s small delicate hands groped for his long tapered fingers. Suddenly his hands grasped hers in a hard, white-knuckle grip, encompassing her pale, pink skin. “Okay, I get it. So we go on with our lives. We pretend it didn’ t happen.” He began to turn his eyes towards hers, pleading his silent plea. “Well maybe one stipulation. Let’s, just for now, ban dates from coming back here.” Sarah, glancing at the empty calendar above her oak desk, nodded. Her heavy lids began to lower in exhaustion. “Sure, now can I go back to sleep?” John, noticing an empty calendar, glanced back at her perfect oval face, shaking his head, his lungs filling with air as he sighed. “I guess.” Sarah turned, the flash of red again, and she crawled under the covers, mumbling, 72

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“ Boys really are girls sometimes.” John straightened up and ambled to the door, his shoulders hunched in a defeated position. Then he quickly turned around. “Sarah!” “What!” The covers unmasked the girl like a jack in the box. She sat up straight from her fluffy white pillows. “You’ re my best friend, and I just don’ t want to lose you as that.” John’ s grip on the doorknob was tight and unforgiving. Sarah’ s face had become a soft peaceful mask, painted with a smile. “Ditto. Now get out, so I can sleep!” She stayed upright in the bed, her arms again hugging her knees, the contemplation written on her face. “I love you John, I need to separate love-love, and friendship-love. And I know you don’ t love me, so I need to find my middle ground, by myself.” John turned, nodded and headed out the open door towards the all-seeing light. Sarah’s room engulfed her in darkness as she rested her head on the white lace coverlet that covered knees. All light was extinguished, but for a sliver. Then the white oak door with the silence of the grave seemed to click. He brought his lips close, as he rested his hot, fevered forehead on the cool door. Then he whispered to the unforgiving oak, “I love you, but I love me more.” •••

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HCC-Northwest College Review

Baptistry Door Panel, Florence Michael Sofranko

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Sunnyvale Sam Ratcliffe

The man knelt in his open back yard. On his right was an old, dilapidated swing set, its frame bent and rusted. His eyes fixed on the Krylon grey horizon, the man felt terror knot his throat. His kids were safely across the street, thankfully. They didn’t need to see this. It was just how they did things. Three yards behind him, in the back doorway, his wife lay dead. She shouldn’t have pulled out that knife. Touching the back of the man’s head was a revolver. Gripping the revolver was a gloved hand, its index finger poised over the trigger. Attached to that hand was an arm. Holding out that arm was Paul. The man finally spoke. -I’m not a monster. -Shut up. The man’s breaths began to come out in trembling bursts as the fear began to take him. A gust of wind blew by, picking up some golden brown leaves. Usually, the man found the soft rustling soothing. Not this time. It was just how they did things. The man took in one shaky breath, then spoke again. -Why…why did you kill my wife? -You saw what she was doing. -Yes, but… -And you saw what she did. -Please, I didn’t know she’d do that. Honest! -But that’s not why I’m holding a gun on you, is it? -I guess no… -Why am I holding a gun on you? A short whimper escaped the man as Paul thrust the revolver a little harder

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into the back of his head. The man thought about life in Sunnyvale. It was just how they did things. He got the raise at work the week before. He’d saved enough to buy that new Chevrolet Bel Air, the ’57, not the ’56. Was gonna surprise the wife and kids with it. Paul had shifted the revolver to his left hand, and turned it to the man’s temple. The man glanced to his left and finally got a good look at Paul. Tall, handsome fellow. Smartly dressed. Rich, obviously. Those black trench coats didn’t come cheap. Most people couldn’t pull off sunglasses, especially with no sun out, but Paul did. The fedora only made him seem sharper. The man spoke again, terror muting his voice to a dull whisper. -It’s just how we do things -And this is how I do things. -Please. -Did they ask you that? -Huh? -Please. Did they say please? -I dunno. Some of them maybe. -Didn’t do them much good, did it? -I’m not a monster. -You keep saying that. -They didn’t suffer. -Oh, really? -Please. A man’s gotta feed his family. -Vern’s Market is on the corner. -We can’t afford it. We can barely afford the house. The man lied. It was just how they did things. Truth be told, the man kind of liked it. Brought a rush. And the meat was like no other. Paul spoke. -Even if I believed that, I’d still say you’re crazy. -Are you gonna kill my kids? 77


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HCC-Northwest College Review

-No. -Are you gonna kill me? -Yes. The man broke out into sobs. His kids would be ok. He would not. Tears streaked his face like they had never done before. It was just how they did things. As the man spoke for the final time, thick saliva dribbled down his chin. -Please. -Again, didn’t they all say that? -It’s just how we do things. -You keep saying that, too. -It’s just how we do things. -Kill ‘em. -It’s just how we do things. -Cook ‘em. -It’s just how we do things. -Eat ‘em. -It’s just how we…. A deafening pop. Ringing. Silence. Paul stared at the figure, now lying face down in the leaves. They were golden brown before. Now they were different. Shade of brain? Paul never saw a swatch with that color. He chuckled, then walked back through the house to his car. As he pulled out of the driveway, he heard sirens. He smiled. The real police would find the bodies. The man and his wife, too. The kids would be sent away. That was good. As he turned the corner, Paul crossed off the names scrawled on his little paper, then sped toward the next. It was just how he did things. •••

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Untitled Summer Troy

A Saturday night date with my sister Wynter is what she thinks I need to feel better after a break up with my boyfriend. Dinner and a movie on her, I guess I can’t complain if she’s paying for once. Being 17 and 18 it’s hard to go to too many places; especially in an old run down Nissan Frontier. You know, the tiny trucks it seems only really tall men typically drive looking odd and uncomfortable. Hers is white with light blue criss-crosses on both sides. Around 6 pm she takes me to the Marqee off I-10 and Silber. We go to Red Robin; this was before she became a vegetarian. Our waiter is tall, thin, blonde and very flamboyant. His friendliness and excitedness to work brightens my mood; he constantly stops by to chat. We order plain cheeseburgers, her a sprite and I a coke. Seemingly pathetic and frugal we ordered off the kids menu. We’re often mistaken as children anyways. During one chat with the waiter he asks “what are you two up to after this; are you going to see a movie?” We reply with “yes” and in return he asks which one. My sister wanted to see Georgia Rule. The one with Lindsay Lohan before all the drugs and trips to jail. So Wynter tells him “Georgia Rule.” Naturally he asks “the one with Lindsay Lohan?!” Even a gay man and two teenage girls can’t believe she’s still acting… I hesitantly, almost embarrassed, tell him “yepp that’s the one.” “Oh my god she’s so raunchy!!!” A response I’ll never forget; even now seeing her on TV I can picture him and hear him saying those exact words; seems she’s only gotten raunchier these days. About 7 the movie started. It wasn’t so bad since Red Robin is right across the walkway from Edwards Cinema. The movie was actually cute, definitely 80

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made me laugh. In some ways her character reminded me of my sisters; very rebellious in their teenage years. Usually in the theater I’m pretty comfortable; being small I can curl up in the seats. This night was different. No matter which way I turned or positioned myself I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a feeling of fullness, as if I had eaten so much I gorged myself. Being able to eat a double cheeseburger on a normal day, it was hard for me to think I had eaten too much off a kid’s serving. After the movie we went for a drive, something we never do anymore. We drove up and down I-10 and neighborhoods in between just talking. “I really don’t feel good, anyway I sit feels wrong” I tried to explain. She gave me a cigarette explaining “you’re probably just upset.” It did me no good, nor did I even smoke. “Please just take me home?” I begged. At home I told my mom I was sick but she told me “go to bed and get some sleep, you have to work with me in the morning. I need the money you borrowed for your prom dress.” I did as I was told. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t get comfortable. Around 2 am I felt as if I was going to get sick. I got out of bed but only made it as far as the bathroom sink. I went into my parents room telling them “I think I’m dying.” My parents told me I should feel better after that. I didn’t. I went back to bed but never slept. Around 4 am I felt as if I was going to get sick again. This time was different though, I couldn’t stand up. There was this excruciating pain in my side that wouldn’t allow me to straighten up or even support my own weight. I laid there feeling helpless knowing if I didn’t move I’d sit in my own vomit unable to get help. I rolled off my bed hitting the carpet and crawled to the bathroom. I laid on the bathroom floor for the rest of the night. 7 am came slow. My mom woke to find me in the bathroom and offered me some water and Tylenol. 8 am- 4pm was the recital. Two to be exact. Bal81


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let. Something I know nothing about. My job was to get the kids on and off stage at the right time in the right costumes. My first group 2 and 3 year olds, the second 6 year olds. Close to 600 kids total. I can’t lie they were adorable. Lions dancing to the Lion King soundtrack and mermaids to The Little Mermaid soundtrack. 8 hours, 6 tylenols and a coke later I felt fine. No pain. That night I went to visit a friend who recently got home on leave from Iraq. The night was normal. I felt fine, ate, and came home. I went to bed and actually slept. Monday morning was the start of finals week. I woke nervous about my English presentation and showered. In the shower I noticed my side pain was back. I was unable to lift my hands to wash my hair. When I got out my mom said “you look grayer than the wall, I’m making you a doctor’s appointment.” At the doctor’s at 10 am he didn’t know what was wrong. “Does it hurt when I push in or let go?” the doctor asked while pushing on my stomach and letting off quickly. “I don’t know, it doesn’t really hurt anymore. It’s more just uncomfortable.” He sent me to get a CT scan at 2 pm and there they made me drink contrasting fluid. Berry flavored. The smell of mixed berries still makes me sick. The technician said when she was done the doctor would call us in a few hours. By now it was already 5. My mom insisted we wait for my results. 30 minutes later the technician said to meet the doctor at the hospital, there was a room waiting for me; I had acute appendicitis. First they had to prep. Are you pregnant, are you sure, the last time you ate, last period. All up in my business. About 7 they took me to the waiting room and I met the anesthesiologist. He put the connector to my IV and I asked how long until I would be out. He told me “count to 20.” I don’t remember counting to 1. An hour later I was being woken up. My side still hurting, and my eyes 82

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blurry; I couldn’t see. My appendix now missing replaced by a 2 inch incision sautered and stapled. I was moved into room 702. My mom waiting for me in the visitor chair, next to the bed. I couldn’t see anything other than dark blurs but I know it was her. Her voice, her hand on my arm-I know them all too well. My dad and brother stood at the foot of the bed. “Dad and Billy came to see you” the assuring words from my mom that the dark blurs at the far side of my bed were in fact people I knew. I’m not saying some remarkable change occurred that day in how people understood me, but ever since I feel more accepted, less under suspicion, and more attention is paid when I tell people the honest truth. Apparently, morphine makes me angry. I called the nurse an asshole for saying I was “just a baby.” I thought he meant it because I was still in pain. •••

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Discovery Green April Hall

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Review

Northwest College

We're going Green...

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