The Olivetree Review Issue 58 FALL 2015
The Olivetree Review Issue 58 FALL 2015
The Literary & Arts Magazine of Hunter College Since 1983
Errata In Issue 56 of the Olivetree Review, the Drama piece "Video Nasty" was printed under a false writer's name. The writer was not Conrado Falco, but Rachel Sather. The work has been reprinted in this issue, under the proper name.
Administrative & Editorial Staff Fall 2015
Editors-In-Chief Associate Editors Maha Paracha Selena Barrientos Jacob Cintron
ÂŠ The Olivetree Review, CUNY Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, Thomas Hunter Room 212, New York, NY 10065 theolivetreereview.com Fall 2015, No. 58. This journal is funded by Hunter College's student activity fee and is distributed free in the university committee. The artwork featured on the cover is "THIS IS US" by Kristie Kish. The fonts used throughout are multiple versions of Linux Libertine, and Linux Libertine Capitals. Layout design by Jacob Cintron. Submissions are reviewed beginning in the summer, through November, and again from November through April. We consider submissions of visual art, fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and drama. The Olivetree Review is completely staffed by full and Part time undergraduate students of Hunter College. All submissions are reviewed anonymously by Hunter College students. Permission to publish the content in this issue was granted to The Olivetree Review by the artists and authors. These contributors retain all original copyright ownership of works appearing in The Olivetree Review before and after its publication. Copying, reprinting, or reproducing any material in this journal is strictly prohibited. Appreciation and thanks to all those who made this issue possible, from our printers in St. Cloud, to the Hunter College institutions and offices, the student and public submitters, our volunteer editors, and last but certainly not least, our Olivetree staff. Printed by Sun Ray Printing St. Cloud, Minnesota
Eliana Resnick Sam Meyerson
Poetry Editor Luisa Nin
Social Media Manager
Fariha Chowdhury Jacob Cintron Kristina Dâ€™Angelo Rachel DeCesario Sebastian Echeverria Louis Gaudio Mohammad Islam Brian Kelley Diana Kosianka Victoria Lau Evan Leone Michael Marbella Lily Mordaunt Benny Morduchowitz Katherine Moscoso Kaela Murphy Thomas Newman Grace Ouyang Maha Paracha Avery Philipps Talissa Pimentel Richard Portilla Eva Senatore Tanisha Williams Kaitlyn Wong
Attica Prison Rebellion, September 13th, 1971: Now That Hostage...
Another Man's Treasure Cristina Cappiello
Fear and Flesh
PG. 99 PG. 54
Me and God Don't See Eye to Eye No More
Star Stuff Sucks
PG. 27 PG. 12 PG. 120
The Swamp Complex Prose Contest Winner Jessica Gallerie PG. 43
The Country in My Mouth
Fariha Chowdhury PG. 88
Fariha Chowdhury PG. 10 PG. 25
ART Almog Cohen-Kashi PG. 81
You Just Don't Understand
Almog Cohen-Kashi PG. 52
Float On and On
Kilroy Was Here
An Asparsile Syndrome
Prose Contest Winner Alyson Fusaro PG. 80
Julian Rosen PG. 33
Stephanie Scheiren PG. 15 PG. 24
Almog Cohen-Kashi PG. 42
All Kinds of Skin Victoria Lau
Paul David Adkins
Beauty at Every Turn Who Decided That Julian Rosen PG. 35 (series)
PG. 11 PG. 119
Drama Contest Winner Evan Leone PG. 89
Bird in the Hand
Keka Marzagao Keka Marzagao
PG. 110 PG. 26
Art Contest Winner Keka Marzagao PG. 82 Kristie Kish
Video Nasty Rachel Sather
This Is Us (series)
When You Die Conrado Falco
PG. 111 PG. 15 PG. 69 PG. 36
Train Pains: Reader's Tension Shelby Peake
a deep shared darkness seeps not only into the poem, but also into the reader.
Incident by Alyson Fusaro
Interactions: Develop a story exploring the idea of how
a part of your character's identity influences their social interactions. Jessica won the competition with her piece, “The Swamp Complex,” because it was the one submitted piece that thoroughly explored how part of a character’s identity influenced her daily social interactions. Protagonist Stacey Savoie is loud, scrappy, and obsessed with gators-- and everyone knows it. Her obsession interferes with her job, relationship with her boss, and relationships with other kids (as we see in a flashback) so much so that her nickname is Gator Girl. Local authorities have files on her for gatorrelated incidents. Her obsession is infiltrated into every interaction she has, and we as the audience enjoy watching her hysterical, gator-crazed antics.
The Swamp Complex by Jessica Gallerie
Show us a mashup, a melange, mix bag or more! Take two or more ideas, objects, concepts, feelings or identities and explore and depict what happens when they are combined! Tangled by Keka Marzagao won this Art contest as it displayed a literal combination of two figurative bodies that plays with notions of identity, emotion, intimacy, and isolation. This work of art asks the audience to question the situation, yet remains inclusive, exclusive, relatable and foreign in nature. A narrative that begs to be explored also arises, who are these two figures and what exactly is their relationship? Are they the same person? The playful nature of this work evokes ideas of multiple selves which is enhanced by Keka's well executed use of digital photography.
Tangled by Keka Marzagao
POETRY Darkness: Write a poem exploring the dark. Whether this
means the night, skin color, thoughts, light bulbs is up to your interpretation. The prompt for the poetry contest for this issue was to explore darkness.The prompt was open, in order to allow writers to interpret it as they felt best. Incidents, by Alyson Fusaro, explored darkness in a way in which I did not expect. Its simple, stripped-down and open language allows the reader to discover line by line how darkness transforms from being literal, and innocent, to accidental and transforming. Incidents is a poem that has haunted me since the first time I read it, because of the accidental nature in which
DRAMA Friendship: Write a scene where an unlikely friendship is formed by an outlandish force.
Evan won the contest with “An Asparsile Syndrome”. This piece fits well with the contest in an imaginative way. It takes the concept of force from the prompt, took a literal sense of the word, and created an abstract image through the idea of personifying planets. This well crafted piece was the best representation of the contest prompt and is a great example of a theatrical work.
An Asparsile Syndrome by Evan Leone page 89
Letter From The Editor
his letter, from the very beginning, has always been a place where I feel I can be open and honest with all of our readers. As such, pretending as if the Olivetree Review hasn't hit its fair share of bumps along it's decades old journey is absurd, and both this last issue and semester have been in now way immune to their own fair share of snags. Incidents with precious colleagues were mishandled in an attempt to protect one another's feelings, idleness and lack luster performances at seemingly small tasks were overlooked to strive towards the bigger picture of production. The fact of how detrimental to our time and energy incidents like these are have caught up with us however, I can only hope serve as lessons to those who will continue to create this wonderful publication when I'm gone. Stepping down and away from Editorial and Presidential duties has been both a deceivingly fast yet simultaneously slow process, and certainly quite the experience. This semester watching all sorts of things happen that I've seen multiple times now, they take on a slightly different meaning for me. Watching new faces come into the office and take up positions of old friends and staff has been bittersweet, but also exciting. Recognizing new student members who are both nervous and excited to be part of and effort and community so large has been wonderful. The introduction of a co-Editor system has allowed for even more conversation in how Olivetree matters of staff and community should be handled, as well as what the future of the Olivetree should look like. Two Editors of the Olivetree also allowed for something that in recent semesters would have otherwise been a near impossibility; it has allowed the creation of layout deign being solely put in the editors' hands. As some may have already noticed, this layout is a kind of step away from our previous issues. Our previous designer, who single handedly created six previous issues and with assistance two more, of The Olivetree, graduated this past summer. She leaves a fairly impressive and almost intimidating legacy of design to follow, even more so if we attempted to imitate it. And so I looked back at old issues of The Olivetree Review, dating back to our very first. The bare bones of this issue's design drew inspiration from those early issues, and our later issues gave birth to most of the design elements and stylings that you'll see within. I hope you all enjoy it, and find it a refreshing spin on an old stylings.
History of The Olivetree
ince the Fall semester of year of 1983, The Olivetree Review has been a Hunter institution, allowing a place for student writers to submit their work and see it published. Under the auspices of their faculty advisor, Professor David Winn, a small group of Hunter students successfully petitioned Hunter for the funds to start a publication. This allowed Olivetree's original staff members, Pamela Barbell, Michael Hariton, Mimi Ross DeMars, and Adam Vinueza,to create their issue of student work and dedicate it to the memory of the late Hunter College professor and poet James Wright. The Olivetree Review has come a long way since that original first issue. Digital printing allows for both the regular inclusion of color, and extra design elements to be available for all projects. We began including photography submissions in Issue #7, and advancements in scanning and digital photography have allowed for us to accept nearly any form of art that can be captured in one or more frames. We've also begun accepting drama writing submissions as of Issue #52, meaning we're finally accepting and printing all forms of creative writing and art that it's currently possible to.
by Fariha Chowdhury Poetry
all your native words immigrated to the pit of your stomach. it groans and you mistake the cry for hunger. english touched the tip of your tongue and you ran it all over your teeth, licking away at the remains of home. thought yourself smart wanting to swallow it whole; silly child, it swallowed you. your new home shows you how to dream and boy, you dream greedy. without honor, without shame. you glorify the loss. some people back home read this an achievement. some feel a feeling that you can not translate. *child, your new vocabulary doesn’t cover the feeling of being hurt and let down by someone you love.
Kilroy Was Here
Ink on Paper 11
by Kaitlyn Wong Prose
he rain pours heavily tonight. The small, young, developing drops making their way down from Heaven to Earth, clouds that were strewn across the sky now huddled tightly together, lightning streaks across the sky like fireworks in the night. Tonight is not unlike that night the night that you suddenly left me to fend for myself out in a world I barely knew. I was just a young budding child, but you already knew that. You had taken me in and raised me as one of your own. You loved me, or at least at one point you did right? It was because of them that you stopped loving me wasn’t it? They were your biological children after all, there must have been a connection you had with them that just wasn’t there with me. You started spending more time with them, tending their every need. Even after all these years I can still hear their wails those same wails that tore you away from me in the blink of an eye. You were at
their every beck and call; they had you wrapped around their little finger. We fought we fought many, many times but could you blame me for wanting some of your attention too? It started off slowly, gradually. I dreaded the rain – at those times your mood got especially bad. I never met my father, and every time I asked about him you just brushed me off saying I didn’t need a “no good man like him around,” and for all intents and purposes I really didn’t since I had you. Then you started drinking that magic water that never froze even though you kept it in the freezer. It was during these times that I wish I had a father around because surely he would protect me from you whom I loved dearly even if you got this way sometimes; but I only had the cold, apathetic rain to turn to. I started counting the number of rainy days. On the 113th rainy day they came. They came in and took me away. You just sat there calmly watching them drag
me away whilst drinking that magical water. 41 rains later, I was able to see you again. It rained very seldom where I was. By this time I came to understand that what you drank was not actually magical water but I didn’t care. You were happy, in places I didn’t know and in memories I didn’t share, you lived happily. I continued to love you all those years we were apart praying everyday that you’d show up tomorrow and take me back and away from that horrid place. When I saw you on that 41st rain, our reunion, I was enraged. Enraged that you so easily gave me up
Despite what had happened, I decided to forgive you anyways and returned the next day. How odd it was. The weather forecast said that it’d be a bright sunny day, without a cloud in the sky, and yet it poured bright red. It started to rain and you stopped; you stopped yelling; you stopped fighting me. The rain must’ve calmed you down, you must’ve thought back to those days when you treated me lower than sewage rats and were sorry. The rain traumatized me, but for you, I can put that behind me. I forgive you for everything that has happened to me. Ahh how
You were happy, in places I didn’t know and in memories I didn’t share, you lived happily.
and started anew while I was stuck in a fantasy land where I dreamt you would come and save me. I watched you for a while and on the 45th rain I felt well enough to confront you. You flat out rejected me screaming for me to go away and never go near you or your children ever again. But I too am your child, or did you forget that?
warm the rain felt, I wonder if this is what being showered with love feels like; I sure hope so, after all, I’ve only ever known the touch of the cold.
Curiosity Kills by Louis Gaudio Drama CHARACTERS GOLDILOCKS A naive young girl from Fairytale Land. Despite her penchant for breaking and entering, and her mischievous curiosity, she is rather sweet-natured and innocent. ADAM The supposed “father of all men” and ruler of the Garden of Eden. Has a massive superiority complex due to his appointed station. EVE Adam's spoiled, flirtatious bride. A little on the ditzy side. Sweet natured, but certainly not innocent. Could be a character on “Real Housewives...” SERPENT Sly, cunning, sassy, and very flamboyant. Likes to flirt with both Adam and Eve. If he had sleeves, he would certainly have a trick up them. SCENE
Beauty At Every Turn
Garden of Eden. A few trees on stage bearing delicious looking fruit. One in particular, the “Tree of Knowledge”, with bright gold
apples. A large sign clearly marked “DO NOT EAT” is ostensibly placed in front of it. (Enter GOLDILOCKS carrying a basket, looking around in awe and wonder.) GOLDILOCKS Oh my hearts and stars! What sort of wondrous and magical place is this? (She wanders around, touching and gaping at everything) GOLDILOCKS Great gumdroppy goodness, how beautiful! It’s the most spectacular garden I’ve ever seen. Even in my wildest imagination I could never picture a more resplendent menagerie of strange animals, tasty fruits, and picture perfect petunias and peonies. Why, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find articulate bears who dine on porridge in such a place! I must continue to explore. Oh how wonderful it is to be young and full of naive curiosity. Life is just so much more exciting that way. (giggle) Besides, a gal could never find herself in trouble in a land as immaculate and primeval as this beautiful garden. Not even with all the ominous foreshadowing in the world. (menacing sound/music cue) What have we here?
(Holds up a fig leaf bikini) Hmm. It seems the locals are quite fashionable as well. (Holds bikini over her figure) Oh poo…This one’s too big. (Picks up a 2nd bikini) And this one is way too small. I mean…not that I don’t
have the figure for it, but a gal’s gotta have a little modesty, right? (Picks up a 3rd bikini with a snakeskin pattern) Ooh snakeskin! This one is PERFECT! (Places bikini in basket and skips along while humming/singing) La la la la la. (Goldilocks continues skipping until she comes to the Tree of Knowledge. There are several apples hanging off of it. Some red, some green, and some bright gold. She reaches first for a red apple.) GOLDILOCK Sweet Bumblebee Bloomers! Such scrumptious apples! I must try them all. (Bites red apple) Oh but this one is far too sweet. (Picks off green apple and bites it) And this one is far too sour. (Picks off golden apple and holds it in front of her, admiring it) Oh my! What a rare and perfect apple. Why it’s as gold and shiny as my lovely golden locks of hair. I must try it. (She takes one bite, and falls dead on the ground) (Enter ADAM and EVE, utterly oblivious to the dead body on stage.) ADAM I’m telling you, someone has been naming my animals. EVE Well someone’s been naming MY animals, too.
OTR 58 (Enter the SERPENT, sidling up next to Eve) SERPENT Hey honey. Did I hear ssssomething about…taming animals? Because you could tame my ssssnake any time. Rowr! EVE No, Serpent. Put it back in your…whatever you hold that thing in. We’re talking about how the bossman gave me and my hunnybunny Adam the task of naming all the animals in the garden, but somehow some of them already have names. ADAM Ok, first of all, the task fell to me to name the animals, along with tending the garden, reigning over my domain, and all of the duties and responsibilities involving the thermostat and remote control. I simply…allowed you to name some of the more fluffy and cutesy animals. EVE Like the kitty cat, and the chinchilla! ADAM …right. Anyhow I just came up with a brilliant name for that black and white striped thing. I was going to call it...The Stripeyhorse! Lo and behold I went to tell the Stripeyhorse it’s new name, and it says it already has a name. Zebra? Who came up with Zebra? EVE Well it wasn’t me, sweetie. I’ve been having the same problem. I had the most adorable name for this snuggly little rodent guy I saw. I was gonna call him my Itsy Bitsy Perfume Puff. Well he’s already called “Skunk” I guess. Skunk is dreadful. Nobody’s gonna
want to cuddle up with a…Skunk. SERPENT I dunno. I kinda like it. Ssssounds like ssskank. Fierce! Besides, whoever it was did you both a favor. I mean, the Platypussss? What the fuck is that thing anyway? It’s just as good ssssome random person gave it a name like Platypus. ADAM Umm…actually I named the Platypus. Ssssorry.
ADAM Here’s the thing. There shouldn’t be some random person here. It’s just supposed to be Man, Woman, and of course your inexplicably anthropomorphic self. EVE So who do you think it is, baby? ADAM I haven’t the foggiest idea. Another strange thing happened. I was doing my morning flex routine, and I noticed a sort of empty feeling underneath my massively muscular pecs. I’m telling you, as crazy as it sounds, someone’s been stealing my ribs! I’ve got too few ribs. EVE Oh my goodness! I’ve got too MANY ribs! SERPENT Well I’m all ribs, baby. I’m ribbed…for her pleasure. ADAM Look. Let’s focus, everybody. We have got to solve this crisis.
SERPENT Alright, sugar. Let’s break it down. There’s you. There’s me. There’s miss thang over here (Indicating Eve) And there’s this ssssmelly rotting corpse over here. (Indicating Goldilocks’ body) (Adam and Eve gasp as they notice the dead body for the first time) EVE Oh, dear. I think we’ve found our culprit. Oh and she has such cute hair, too. ADAM Cute hair? Is that all you can think about? She has cute hair? EVE Well, this little basket is adorable, too! Oh, she had good taste whoever this was. ADAM This…criminal…broke into our private garden and stole from us. For all we know she's been eating our breakfasts, sitting in our chairs, and sleeping in our beds. To top it off, here she is laying directly beneath the Forbidden Tree. Do you know why it’s called the Forbidden Tree? EVE (Thinks for a moment) No…why? ADAM BECAUSE IT’S FORBIDDEN!! SERPENT Now calm down, firecracker, don’t get your fig leaf in a bunch. Thissss is the only tree we haven’t eaten fruit from yet. And why? Just because the bossman put a ssssign here?
ADAM YES! That’s EXACTLY why. When an all-knowing, allpowerful being tells you to do, or more importantly NOT to do something, you do, or alternatively DO NOT do that particular thing. But…why? Yesssss…why?
ADAM Why? WHY? We don’t question why! We just do as we are told, and life is actually pretty freakin' sweet. We have all the food we can eat, pools of crystal clear water to swim in and drink from, animals to do our bidding, and best of all, none of us have to lift a finger. SERPENT Yessss…but what if we could have more? ADAM More? What more could there possibly even be? SERPENT Well I don’t know what exactly. I’m just ssssaying… more. EVE Yeah, you know, that’s a really good point. More is always better, isn’t it? Like, you could have some of something that’s good, but when you have a lot of something good, it’s REALLY good. Then if you have…even MORE of that something good, it’s REALLY REALLY good. ADAM I can’t believe I’m hearing this. You two aren’t suggesting we eat one of these golden apples, are you?
OTR 58 SERPENT Well, big man, we’ve given you ssssseveral reasons why we should try the apples. You have yet to give us even one reason not to. ADAM Neither of you have given me a reason to eat this thing. All you said was “MORE MORE MORE!” That’s not logic at all, it’s nonsense. Ignorant nonsense. It's as if neither of you possess any knowledge at all. EVE (raising her hand) I have another reason. What?
They’re gold and shiny!
ADAM (smacking his forehead) Oh Christ! Who?
ADAM Oh that’s right…he won’t be around 'til the New Testament. Never mind. Look, you want a reason not to eat the apples? (kicks Goldilocks’ limp body) How about her? This poor girl ate one of them…and now she’s dead. SERPENT Let’sssss not jump to any conclusionsss here. We don’t know how she died. ADAM Hmm…bits of chewed apple around her mouth.
(examining more closely) Her breath smells like apple. There’s an apple with a bite mark in her outstretched hand. You’re right, Serpent…we really can’t be too hasty in our analysis. Perhaps she was shot. SERPENT Ssssarcasm doesn’t ssssuit you. Adam, baby, you’re the Father of All Men! The Head Honcho, right? Everything in thissss garden belongs to you, Adam. That would make these…Adam’s apples, wouldn’t it? ADAM I…suppose you do have a point. (picks a golden apple from the tree, turning it over in his hand) I mean… who’s to tell me what to do or not to do? What to eat and not to eat? I’m…I’m… SERPENT The HMFIC, baby! Head MotherFucka In Charge! And Eve…I know for a fact that you love Adam’s… apples. (Eve blushes at the innuendo) How is one or two more bites gonna hurt? Oh I don’t bite…
SERPENT Girl, you know what I mean. (picks an apple and hands it to Eve, who eyes it lustfully) Come on…just try it. EVE Well alright. But I really want Adam to eat it with me. ADAM (still high on his power trip) Sure thing, Eve. I mean, what could go wrong? I’m the HMFIC! On the count of three. One, two, three. (Adam and Even take a bite) Mmmm…It’s incredible!
by Maha Paracha Poetry
Serpent aren’t you gonna try it? SERPENT What? Oh hell no, bitches. That shit’s obviously poison. Y’all two are ssssstupid. (Adam and Eve fall to the ground dead. Lights fade as the Serpent laughs triumphantly)
Beauty At Every Turn
When it started he was tall. Arms like trunks: strong and giving mercy and peace. As I grew he shrunk. Limbs deflating rounding at his stomach. If I prick it will he pop? Mercy is rage and he is still giving. When he receives. Sundays are different now. I make amends.
Me and God Don't See Eye to Eye No more by Alexandra Pajak Prose
Mixed Media Watercolor and Wallpaper
y mom’s a slut. I take after her. I cheated on every man I was ever with, except my husband. He’s the one pressing murder charges against me. My attorney said my husband will probably serve divorce papers as soon I get sentenced. Our marriage ended the night I got locked up, though. He hasn’t picked up the phone for two years. I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to talk to me either if I was in his position. My husband and I met at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. We were both clean for a long time, like five months, but then he started smoking up again. One time he went to jail because his tags were expired and he was driving without a license and he had a bag of meth on the passenger seat. So naturally he ate it so he wouldn’t get another drug possession charge. That was really smart of him. That was the one time he relapsed. I’ve been clean twenty four months but it’s just because I can’t get dope here. You can
get drugs in prison. That’s what my home girl Tracy in cell 300 told me. I’m so scared to go to prison. I’ve heard tons of different advice from Tracy and my other home girl here, Angel. Join a gang, start a tattoo business, stay to yourself. Don’t start a fight when you first get there. Don’t ever start one. If someone stabs you you’ve got to attack them back. They’re testing you. Try to stay busy. Go to chapel services even if you don’t believe in God. It’ll keep you hopeful. Go to AA meetings. Even if you’re not addicted to anything at all, show up anyway. It’ll keep you distracted from the fact your heart is breaking and you may never see your family again on the outside. I was scared I might get killed and Tracy said yeah you might. She don’t pretty nothing up. She’s just straight up about everything. Tracy said I probably will get death threats at the least. Angel told me to just be myself and people will know I didn’t mean to kill my daughter and they won’t think any more bad of me than
anyone else. Angel and Tracy are what they call career cons. Do dope and sell dope and organize teenagers turning tricks is their career path. Prison time is basically a business expense for them. They’ve been in an out of jail and prison since they were 17. It’s called institutionalization. That’s what Angel told me. She’s real smart. Went to two years of college, even. Being in jail really makes you reflect a lot. I took a lot for granted. I took Phil— that’s my stepdad—for granted, all the money he’d spend on my clothes growing up. Tommy Hilfiger, Hot Topic, you
Full out B cups by 9th grade, then like C and a half cups by 10th and I kept growing from there and I’d wear Wonderbras which were totally the shit back then. My stepdad always got me the best clothes, Hot Topic, Tommy Hilfiger. You’re what, 31, 32? We’re the same age, I can tell. So you know how totally badass—sorry, I’m trying not to cuss as much—how awesome wallet chains and crop tops were back in the day. Some of the other popular kids would start making fun of the other special-ed kids like me and I’d threaten to beat their asses and they’d be like, whoa Britney, be cool and I’d be like no, you be cool you fuckers and don’t judge
I never got why... the Virgin Mary is always smiling. I mean think about it—she was a refugee, a teenager, with a boyfriend who wasn't the dad's father...
remember the hot brands back then. You’re what, thirty two, thirty three years old like me? There were girls in my high school that wore rags every day. I’d make fun of them behind their backs. And sometimes not behind their backs but to their faces. I made one girl cry. I feel horrible about it now. I was always in special-ed growing up. But I was popular, too. I got boobs early. That helped.
people. Retards are just like you and don’t be an asshole to us. That’s what I’d tell them and they’d back off then. I took for granted Phil wanting me to graduate high school so bad he’d hound me every day about it. I thought he was just being annoying. Took me and my brother to church every Sunday and Wednesday night. Christmas Eve in 12th grade I wanted to party at my
friend’s house but no we had to go to church and see the nativity scene with all the kids dressed up like cows and sheep and shepherds and stuff. The poor kids who were the sheep had all these cotton balls glued to their cheeks. I laughed so hard at that, right in the middle of Oh Holy Night. Phil got so mad and the pastor did, too. The pastor gave me this long, dirty look from on top of the pulpit. Nothing ever seems funnier when you’re supposed to be all solemn. You know what’s weird? I never got why in nativities, like in paintings and TV shows and stuff, the Virgin Mary is always smiling. I mean think about it—she was a refugee, a teenager, with a boyfriend who wasn’t the dad’s father, and she gave birth with farm animals everywhere that probably stank—all without an epidural! I sure as hell won’t be smiling. An angel supposedly talked to Mary but she never actually even met God who was the father of the kid. Or maybe it was a giant lie that she made up so she wouldn’t get executed. I always respected Joseph for not stoning her to death. Our preacher said Joseph could have but didn’t. Might as well be a pregnant Mexican girl in Arizona with her boyfriend after cheating on him with
another guy. I hate spicks. They’re taking all our jobs away. Phil, he showed me more love than anyone I know. Like one time I accidentally set myself on fire playing with his cigarette lighter and gasoline and after ten seconds, boom! Third degree burns all over me and Phil was like Hold still, girl! and he peeled my skin off with me just standing there screaming. I mean yeah it hurt like hell but someone had to get the charred skin off. That man loved me like I was his own. I haven’t seen Phil for years. No hard feelings, no bad blood. He just moved out of town once me and my brother graduated high school and we just lost touch with Phil. I call my mom my egg donor. She stuck around like four years then just walked out on my stepdad. I never even met my birthdad. My mom came to visit last week. I hadn’t seen her for twenty nine years and then I was in my cell rolling some cigarettes and then the deputy clicked on the intercom in my room and was like hey Brit you got a visitor. I thought to myself I don’t know who’s coming but at least I get to come out of my cell and I walk up the stairs to the visitation booth and my mom’s was just sitting there crying. Just kept shouting oh God, girl. You’ll die in prison.
OTR 58 They’ll all kill you there! And I was like Mom, don’t cry. I’m not even in prison yet and your son’s been in prison for seven years for statutory rape and he’s still alive. Then she said she loved me and walked out. I haven’t seen her for years and then she suddenly shows up after he sees me in the media and tells me I’m going to get killed. I got my discovery packet yesterday. The discovery packet is when your attorney gives you an envelope with photocopies of the police report, interviews from witnesses, basically all the evidence the prosecutor has against you. The state psychiatrist decided I’m special-ed but mentally competent to stand trial. I tried to tell them I was hearing voices that night but I know the docs are a lot smarter than me. What I didn’t know was that in the discovery packet there’d be all these photos of my daughter in the hospital. She was all covered in tubes—I just started crying so hard. I wanted so bad to show off the photos of my daughter to Angel and Tracy but I couldn’t bear it because she was so tiny with tubes in her and they’d understand and know I didn’t mean to do what I did but if the other girls found out they might beat my ass or worse. The thing that hurts
the worst is my daughter died before she could say “Mommy.” I’ll never hear her voice. I know in Heaven I will, but it’s—it’s just really hard to explain. I had so much fun with her those five weeks. The pregnancy was honestly pretty fun, too because my boobs got really big, like swelled-like and it was really fucking hot. My daughter had problems with breastfeeding— it’s called latching—so to, you know, relieve the pressure my husband would just suck all the breast milk from my boobs. I was like, come here, baby! His fingernails and hair grew really fast for those few months. I think it was all the protein. I don’t know if I’ll ever date again. If I do I’ll have to date like fifty and sixty something year old men because that’s how old I’ll probably be when I get out. Thirty years no parole is the maximum for involuntary manslaughter. Tracy told me when you get to prison to sleep with a C.O. and get him to get you a cellphone and hide the cellphone is to hide it up your vagina. It’s easier to fit a cell phone up your snooch if you’ve had a baby since you’re more flexible down there. So that’s good news for me. Would have never thought of it myself. Last week Angel and Tracy said hey Brit are you going to get you a butch in
prison? I said hell no, I’m not gay and I’m not turning gay temporarily just for sex. Tracy says you’re not gay if you can stop three months before you get out. Angel says it’s not gay as long as you’re in prison. Either way, I’m just waiting til I get out to find me another man. Assuming my husband divorces me, which he will. I deserve to go to prison and get my ass beat. I’d tried everything I could think of that night. I fed her, I held her, I sang to her, I took her for a drive in the car. I was so mad. Mad at her, mad at my husband for being sober, mostly mad at
her twerking session she said how did you like your surprise last week? And I was like what surprise? And she said oh I joined a new church and I asked my preacher to come visit you. How did it go? And I was like oh lord if she only knew but I just said thank you mom it went real well. This is how the minister visit went down. This random—I thought he was a random—preacher came to pay me a visit. So I was like what the hell why not it’s someone to talk to so I went up to meet him. And he said he read about my case in the newspaper and
I said well ok but I haven't forgiven myself . My daughter's dead.
myself because I didn’t know how to get her to stop crying. My mom came to visit again randomly yesterday. That’s why I put in the counseling request, Counselor, because I feel real guilty about what went down. My mom and started showing me how they were practicing twerking after seeing the MTV movie awards and I said dear God stop that there’s probably some asshole guard jacking off to you right now. After my mom stopped
asked me if I’m saved. I said yes I’m saved and I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he said well that’s good and Jesus forgives me for what I did. I said well ok but I haven’t forgiven myself. My daughter’s dead. He said yeah but Jesus has already forgiven you. He was starting to really irritate me at this point. And this is what I told him. I said you don’t know what it’s like to be me. Forgiving yourself isn’t easy. And he said yes it is, just forgive yourself.
God forgave you already. I said God may have forgiven me, but I haven’t forgiven me. I keep trying to look for him again but I just can’t find him anymore like I used to. He used to be everywhere but now he’s not. The preacher said but God is everywhere. I said Where was God that night when I did what I did to my daughter? Why didn’t he stop me? Then the minister sat there real quiet for a minute and then he said don’t ask that. Then I said I’m asking you nicely please leave and don’t come visit me again. He started with his Jesus stuff again and I said I’m telling you a second time please leave and don’t come back to see me. Then he kept yapping away about forgiveness being easy then I said you know what, you silver spoon motherfucker? You have no idea what it’s like to be on the other side of these bars. You have no idea what it’s like to be me and you have no idea how hard it is to forgive myself and I probably won’t ever forgive myself but I pray I’ll be able to live with myself one day. So why don’t you take your biblethumping ass and thump it at someone else because I don’t have to take it no more from your sorry ass. I haven’t seen that pastor since. The truth is, Counselor, me and God don’t see eye to eye no more.
by Juliette Maigné Poetry
I dug myself a hole through the filthy tiles of the shower, my fingers as shovels. I wrapped my hands around my skin reddened with heat, my nails gushing a dark Burgundy, tracing your touch across my bone and the vault of my spine. Steam wrinkles my forehead, specked with droplets mirroring the mossy metal of my necklace I forgot to take off – I only swathe myself in the gold I can afford. The tiles stick to my bare thighs. I can scarcely breathe. The windless stall, like a feeble hand, clutches my chest, while the walls throttle me. The floor tray will collect my slashes until I drown, until a brook of tears and blood and filth exits
through clogged pipes and I can stand again. My shower is my sanctuary. I stand with the water, smoothly knifing my face open. Neck cramped and head slanting forward, right where I can breathe just enough to keep my eyes open, tilting between water and air, like I hear a void I canâ€™t clasp. So I inhale until water runs down my throat and my nose burns the way I once choked on the acrid vinegar in the salad you had at that shitty diner I canâ€™t ever go to again.
Who Decided That 34
Ink on Paper 35
When You Die
by Conrado Falco Drama CHARACTERS A GIRL Just a girl. A BOY Just a boy. SCENE Anywhere. TIME Anytime. (The GIRL stands on an empty stage.) GIRL When you die, at first, you don’t even notice that you’re dead. Before it happens, you feel the weakest that you’ve ever felt. It’s been getting harder to breathe. You are quickly losing what little energy you have left. Soon enough you can’t swallow some saliva without it burning your throat, and you can’t take a deep breath without feeling like your chest is going to burst. Then, you become exhausted. You’re so tired that the pain starts to fade away, and so does your consciousness. You’re suddenly at peace, and you can breathe again. That is the moment when you know you’re dead. You realize that you’ll never see your loved ones again, but you are so happy to be breathing, that you don’t really care. You are at peace. (The BOY has entered the stage while the GIRL was talking.)
(When she is done, he clears his throat.) (The GIRL notices him.) BOY When you die, your body is shut off. Your brain shrinks, and it stops working. Your eyes dry up, and you stop seeing. Your ears are clogged with earwax, so you can’t hear anymore. Your skin turns blue, and your lips turn black. Your heart stops pumping, and your blood stops flowing. Your blood starts thickening, and it clogs your veins and arteries. You stop thinking, which means you stop feeling. You don’t know what’s going on, because you’ve stopped existing. You just lie there, blue and stiff while your hair and nails keep growing. (The GIRL looks at him disapprovingly.) GIRL When you die, you go to a beautiful place. It is warm, and it is bright. You can’t even imagine how pretty it is, because there are no words to describe its beauty. Once there, you stop worrying about life, because you feel like you’ve finally come home. You become one with love. You are happy. BOY When you die, your family starts crying. Your mom falls on her knees and cries. She clings to your insentient body with all her strength, but it’s useless. Your older brother gets sad, and wonders why he didn’t spend more time with you. Your father holds back his tears. He pretends to be stronger than he is. When he is finally alone, he breaks down and starts sobbing. It’s the saddest day of his life. GIRL When you die, people get together and say nice things about you. They sit in a circle and tell funny anecdotes. They laugh, and drink, and remember all the good times you shared together. Your best friend tells everyone how
OTR 58 you always greeted him with a joke. Your little sisters remembers when she fell down and scraped her knees. She was crying when you came up to her and told her it was going to be all right. This goes on for a while, and when they’re done, everyone feels better.
nails and shaves your face. He puts makeup on your lips and cheeks. He puts you in a hideous suit, and then he puts you in the box.
BOY When you die, people pretend they knew you. They talk about you when they never took the time to sit down and ask you how you’re doing. They had better things to do, and so did you. You were all in your own heads. That’s why they search their memories for the one nice moment you shared together. For the one nice thing they did for you. They hold on to an insignificant memory hoping it will make them feel better. And the worst part is that it does.
BOY When you die, you don’t look like yourself anymore, but people pretend you do. They parade you around in your hideous suit and your ugly box. People come up to you and look at your waxed off face. They cry, and their tears fall on your suit. They are absorbed by the fabric, and when they dry up, you’re left carrying other people’s tears for all eternity. Lots of tears fall on you that day. The suit gets heavier and heavier until your spirit can’t move anymore. At the end, you’re trapped in that box.
GIRL When you die, you appreciate life, and so do all the people around you. You think of when you were a little kid, and the only thing that made you...
(The GIRL puts her hand on the BOY’s shoulder.)
BOY (interrupting) When you die, you’re dead! (Beat.) BOY ...You’re dead, and that’s it. There is no beginning, and there is no end. (Pause.) GIRL When you die, you’re fast asleep. You sleep, and you dream of the most beautiful dream you’ve ever had. You’re calm. BOY When you die, they put you in a box. An old man that you’ve never met starts touching your body. He cuts your
GIRL When you die... When you...
(The BOY brushes her off.) BOY When you die, and when you’re stuck in that hideous box, you feel claustrophobic. You can’t move. You can’t escape. You try to scream, but you can’t make any sound. Nobody can hear you. They come up to you, and they look at your body, and they cry on your sleeve, and they make your suit heavier, and they trap you in that box, but they can’t hear you. Then, you start to feel warm, you realize you’re being burned, and it hurts. It hurts more than anything you’ve ever felt before, but you mind, because it’s better than hearing people crying, and you’ll finally be out of that ugly box and that hideous suit. You become a pile of ashes, and you don’t feel anything anymore. You’re dust. You’re nothing. (The BOY looks at her.) (The GIRL looks at him.) (They look at each other.)
GIRL When you die, you’re selfish! When you die, you forget about the people who love you. You forget of all the times you laughed, and all the times you felt good. You don’t remember Spike, and you don’t remember Fluffy. You only remember when you were sad, and when you cried, and when your stomach hurt. When you die you forget about the good times... and you’re all alone.
GIRL When you die, you’re foam.
BOY When you die, you don’t feel anything.
BOY When you die, they don’t have to!
GIRL When you die, you’re mean.
GIRL When you die, everybody’s happy that you’re dead!
BOY When you die, you don’t have to worry. GIRL When you die, you can’t dance. BOY When you die, you don’t hear the music. GIRL When you die, you’re forgotten. BOY When you die, you’re not even here. GIRL When you die, you look like a smurf. BOY When you die, you can have your cake and eat it too. GIRL When you die, you’re a pile of dust. BOY When you die, you’re a shooting star.
BOY When you die, you’re the sea. GIRL When you die, nobody misses you!
(Silence.) BOY When you die, you’re scared. You’re afraid you’ll miss your mom... and your dad... and your little sister. You’re afraid you’ll miss Spike and Fluffy. You’re afraid you’ll never see them again. You don’t know where you’re going, or what you’re doing. When you die, you’re walking peacefully until you’re suddenly murdered on the streets. When you die, your family is sad. When you die, your father holds a grudge. When you die, your dad thinks of killing someone for the first time in his life. When you die, your mom doesn’t want to live anymore. When you die, you leave before you can tell your mom and your sister that you love them. (The GIRL sheds a tear.) (The BOY walks toward her.) BOY When you die, your mom and your sister already know you love them, but you would like to tell them nonetheless. (The BOY walks away and leaves.) (The GIRL stands alone.)
OTR 58 GIRL When you die, some people remember you, and some people don’t... and that’s ok.
The Swamp Complex
by Jessica Gallerie Prose - Contest
Hotel Marquette, 68 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, LA. Saturday Morning 7:27 a.m.
Float on and On 42
Mixed Media Watercolor and Wallpaper
issing the tight roundabout of the Hotel Marquette’s front loop, the front wheels of a tour bus overtook a perfectly manicured curb. In its wake, massive tire tracks disrupted the symmetrical lawn patterns and the right-side mirror became tangled in a magnolia tree. Emblazoned on the side of the monstrous vehicle in neon were the words “CAJUN FEVER”—the name of the number-six rated swamp tour company in Louisiana. It was a tough business in an even tougher terrain. Duct taped to the roof of the bus, a rusty loudspeaker cut through the morning stillness. SWAMP ROMPERS: PLEASE ROMP AWAY FROM THE CONTIN’ENAL BREAKFAST AND INTA THIS VEHICLE. THIS’LL BE YA
ONLY WARNIN’. A small group of tourists slowly emerged from the front entrance, looking skyward to locate the source of the sound. STRAIGHT AHEAD, SINGLE FILE ONTA THE BUS. Confused murmurs followed the group as they took note of the torn-up grass and the front of the bus perched on the curb. The front wheel was still spinning. The source of the noise—a redheaded twentysomething named Stacey Savoie—was propping open the vehicle’s front door. Equipped with a clipboard and a Cajun Fever visor, she wore large black sunglasses despite the early morning mist. She inspected her sign-in sheet carefully and bit down on an oversized gator-shaped pen. As a pair of grandparents approached the steps with trepidation, Stacey looked up from her clipboard. “Someone has ta take the first step, y’all, we don’ have all day.” The kids shot her a nasty look as they helped their mother onto the bus first; a look
that went completely ignored rearview mirror making eye by Stacey. contact with Barb. Ignoring the grumbling passengers behind “Name?” her, she turned up the volume “Barb Smith.” The old on her headset. woman replied. “Next stop is the “Awright Smith, ya on Louisiana Bayou. Strap in the list… get in there. NEXT.” rompers, is gon’ be a bumpy Despite the early hour ride.” and the ages of some senior There was a loud metal rompers, everyone filed onto clang as an overpass took out the bus in an ordered and the roof’s loudspeaker and the timely fashion. Stacey waited bus turned onto I-10, speeding for no one—these excursions towards the swamp. generally had a minimum of three men left behind. The bus
There was a loud metal clang as an overpass took out the roof’s loudspeaker and the bus turned onto I-10, speeding towards the swamp.
reversed back over the concrete barrier and the tourists lifted up out of their seats at the impact. Putting on her headset, Stacey’s voice reverberated through the bus’s small interior. “Awright folks, we’re lookin’ at a minimu of one hour ta the swamp, four hours inside, one hour back. There’re no bathrooms on this rig so I hope y’all unloaded back at the hotel. No accidents, I’m talkin’ to you ma’am.” She peered over her sunglasses and into the
Even at the mere age of ten, Stacey Savoie had a passion for the swamp. At show-and-tell she would present organized slides of the local species of moss, her favorite being Spanish moss. Once in high school she beat up a boy who dared to suggest that alligators ate people. In between swift slaps to his face she screamed, “THAS… MUTHA… FUCKIN’… CROCS”. From that day forward she was mockingly referred to as “Gator Girl”. Gator Girl’s legacy lives on to this day.
Stacey moved on to become a graduate of the NOLA Guide Academy, a member of the Tour Guides Association of the Greater New Orleans Area, and to receive eight certificates of honorable mention for her work with local gators. She worked under the best of the best—Sir Roger Abellard, Spike Dusseau de Lacroix, Miss May Maupassant—the biggest names in New Orleans guides. That is to say she knew her way around a classic alligator-marshmallow trick. Despite her impressive schooling, she had been driving a bus for Cajun Fever for five years with no promotion in sight. Some would say it was her lack of Southern charm while others would claim it was her brief but torrid affair with the company’s diesel technician. She had a weakness for blue collar. Stacey would blame her immobility on her young age and the boss’s intimidation of her “enlighten’d schoolin’”. In reality, it was her utter disregard for basic etiquette and social cues. As the saying goes: you can lead a guide to swampwater, but you can’t make them charismatically escort a boat full of tourists. Begrudgingly, she continued driving the tour bus. She remained dedicated to climbing the company’s social ladder—waking up at five am to climb up and re-fasten the
loudspeaker to the roof (though it broke safety regulations), providing a detailed write-up of each passenger who boarded her bus (though it broke privacy regulations), and using strict military code over the advisory radio to update management (though it was very annoying). These extra duties did nothing besides infuriate her boss and coworkers. The passengers that boarded Stacey’s bus at 7:27 AM were the standard crew. Unbeknownst to them, she had written a description of each person as they were taking their seats. An excerpt from her list read: 5 old folks—1 Barb (watch closely) 2 college girls carrying open coffee cups, goth, texting during announcements 1 man w/ binoculars, sheathed hunting knife, info book on Louisiana 2 babies approx. 9 y/o, eyeing my pen (watch closely) 3 pageant moms w/ yogurt, no napkins, too much bug spray which they DO NOT NEED 2 dads—1 hiker, 1 mechanic, no wedding ring or assoc.
OTR 58 w/ moms (watch closely ;))
nothin’ ‘bout no swampland.”
1 bridal party, penis hats, Mr. Price lifted his very loud hand, signaling Stacey to stop Stacey kept track of speaking. He sighed deeply, the things people brought on feeling yet again as if he didn’t the bus in the event that she get paid enough for this. Every discovered a mystery stain on week he sat and listened to an one of her seats or someone endless list of excuses from tried to correct her swamp- the mediocre bus driver. Apart related facts—you can never be from the rural hellscape that too prepared. Later that day, was Slidell, Louisiana, dealing detectives would be searching with Stacey Savoie was the those very notes for clues worst part about being in lowermanagement. regarding her disappearance.
Cajun Fever Headquarters 34039 Hwy East, Slidell, Louisiana. Later Saturday Morning 10:04 a.m.
“Listen. You need to get your act together and do your job—drive the people here, stay put for a few hours, drive them right on back to New Orleans. Nothing else. You understand?” “I understand Sir. I apologize for my hoobris.”
“Goddamn it Stacey, “Your what? Get the I cannot pay for another hell outta my office.” goddamn side-view mirror.” Stacey’s boss Mr. Price paced back and forth in his office, rubbing his temples in aggravation. “I’m sorry Sir, the magnolia bush came outta nowhere. I was focusin’ on gettin’ these folks ta the swamp by zero-nine-hundred hours.” “I don’t know what that means, Stacey. This is Cajun Fever, not the Girl Scouts.” “With all due respect Sir, the scouts don’ know
Stony-faced, Stacey stood from her seat without another word and slammed the door shut behind her. She checked her watch. 10:23 a.m. With more than two more hours before she had to re-board her crew, she set off to the docks to perform her favorite morning ritual: longingly watching her rompers board a rusty metal boat and critiquing their swamp guide’s form. This was the last place Stacey was seen.
Main Driveway, Bus Pickup 34039 Hwy East, Slidell, Louisiana. Saturday Afternoon, 1:14 p.m. After collectively purchasing
over six hundred dollars worth of Uncle Henry’s Quik-Fixin’ Jambalaya Mix and other Cajun Fever produced paraphernalia, the tour group had made their way back to the main driveway. Despite Stacey’s demand to return to the bus at thirteen hundred hours, she was nowhere to be found. The crowd began to murmur in annoyance. One of the black-clad college girls spoke above the buzz. “Where the hell is this crazy bitch?” Where the hell was that crazy bitch, indeed. Stacey was known for many things at the company, but not showing up was (regrettably) not one of them. Luckily, Mr. Price was taking his hourly trip to the outdoor vending machines when he spotted the leaderless group. Standing in the middle of the parking lot and pacing around aimlessly, they resembled a crew of lost oversized toddlers. Mr. Price made eye contact with his C-14 snickers bar, but, sighing, took a reluctant detour to the parking lot.
“Who do you belong to, rompers?” His voice boomed over the crowd. “Her name was Stella? Stacia? But we’re willing to be placed inthe care of whoever elseyou have.” Though it was Barb who spoke up, the group all nodded in agreement. “Are you telling me Stacey didn’t show up for pickup? Redheaded Stacey?”
“That’s the one.”
Mr. Price pulled at his mustache and weighed his options. While ordinarily one didn’t report a missing person until twenty-four hours after their disappearance, he thought that fourteen minutes was enough time to start worrying about Stacey (perhaps not “worrying” so much as being “professionally concerned”). He corralled the rompers back into the gift shop before placing the call. “9-1-1, emergency?”
“Hello, my name is Peter Price and a member of my swamp crew has gone missing.” “Alright sir, and how long has she been missing for?” “Approximately twenty minutes or so…”
“Sir, that’s not a missing COLLAH FLOATIN’ NEAR person, it’s just someone who THE DOCKS.” went to the bath—” “How do you get a “It’s Stacey Savoie.” collar on an alligator? Of “Oh, I’ll dispatch you to course it’s gonna fall off. Please call Jefferson directly with this Slidell PD right away.” nonsense.” Click. “Thank you.” Given her extensive Stacey had a reputation history, it was no wonder the with local authorities for her station had sent two junior frequent visits to the station officers to the Cajun Fever regarding alligator hunting. The headquarters within the hour. fact that it was regulated and legal in the state of Louisiana *** had not deterred her in the Cajun Fever Headquarters slightest. Every report, visit, 34039 Hwy East, and phone log was filed away in Slidell, Louisiana. a folder labeled “Stacey Savoie” Later Saturday Afternoon, and located on the police 1:56 p.m. intern Jefferson’s computer. If Officer Thomas you were to open one of these recorded phone calls you would spoke into a large Cajun hear some variation of this Fever megaphone. “ALRIGHT EVERYONE, PLEASE QUIET conversation: DOWN. We are here on a tip “9-1-1, what’s your about a missing person. Now, emergency?” y’all will get back to New “PLEASE… LISTEN—” Orleans soon, but first me and “Miss, please calm Officer Bourbon here are gonna down, I can’t understand you.” have to ask everyone a few “IT’S RICHARD SAINT- questions. Please enjoy some complimentary water while we MAUPASSANT HE’S—” conduct our interviews.” “Stacey, is that you? I Stacey’s group members told you not to call this number were scattered throughout anymore. An alligator is a wild the outdoor seating area and animal and it’ll swim wherever complaining loudly about the it wants. It is not a missing situation at hand. While no one person.” cared about what had happened “RHONDA YA DON’ to the bus driver, they did care UNDERSTAND I FOUND HIS about missing the all-you-can-
eat crawfish lunch buffet back at the hotel. They were feeling restless after five hours in the swamp—even the bridesmaids’ penis hats were beginning to look flaccid. Quite expectedly, the bridesmaids were largely unhelpful during questioning. All they noted were the company’s no-alcohol policy and Stacey’s ugly sneakers. “She’s clearly not getting laid”, they all giggled. The police weren’t looking for Michigan-women sneaking booze onto a swamp
All of the men shifted uncomfortably on their feet and Officer Bourbon fumbled with his pencil. The tip broke off onto his clipboard. “Shit, do you… do you have another pencil?” Mr. Price handed him a pen from his shirt pocket before responding. “Well, yes, but why are you asking me questions? I was the one who made the call.” “It’s just protocol sir. And your secretary says that
We are here on a tip about a missing person... me and Officer Bourbon here are gonna have to ask everyone a few questions.
tour; they were looking for a criminal. The Louisiana bayou continues to be one of the top places in the United States to dump a dead body. Anyone who goes missing will most likely turn up in the state’s swampy underbelly. Such is the reason everyone at headquarters kept one eye on the docks, just in case. The officers approached Mr. Price. “Alright Mr. Price, we understand that you were one of the last people who talked to Stacey Savoie while she was still ali—um, in action.”
Stacey left on, um, unpleasant terms. She says there was yelling and Stacey slammed a door.” “Of course it was unpleasant, I’ve paid around three thousand dollars in repairs for her goddamn tour bus. You should see the damage that girl can do.” “So you’re saying y’all had a tense relationship over money? That you felt she owed you money?” “No, I’m not saying that. Sure we had a tense relationship but she had a tense relationship
OTR 58 with everybody. Ask any person ages combined wouldn’t come who’s met her.” close to Barb’s). Officer Thomas quite aggressive, “Alright, sir. Thank you became crossing his scrawny arms and for your cooperation.” peering up at the old woman. And the two young “Ma’am, now is no time officers did ask. They asked to be flippant. A woman’s life is rompers, Cajun Fever employees, at stake here.” neighbors, and even custodial staff—they all had something Barb tilted her head, negative to say about Stacey confused, but didn’t defend Savoie. The perpetrator could herself. Officer Bourbon have been anyone. Perhaps and Thomas questioned her this was a crime of passion, or relentlessly. Why did you hate perhaps a classic tale of hubris— Stacey Savoie? How long has Icarus who flew too close to the your rivalry been going on? bald cypress tree. Whatever it How did you think we wouldn’t was, the officers had no leads. find out? Faced with nothing but Their focus turned to Stacey’s confused stuttering, the officers tour group notes. concluded that, undeniably, After not-so-carefully Barb had committed the crime. analyzing her descriptions, They fastened handcuffs Officer Bourbon picked up around the fluffy sleeves of her on some tension between a turtleneck and lead her to the certain “Barb” and Stacey. The backseat of a police cruiser. man wielding a large hunting There was a large commotion knife seemed too obvious; that followed—lights and sirens Barb quickly became his prime blaring, the Smith family yelling suspect. Hearing her name at Mr. Price, children yelling called, Barb slowly stood from a into the discarded megaphone, bench before slowly approaching and the bridal party drunkenly the officers. They made no effort yelling about their suspicion to move from their station at of the old woman “from the the vending machines. “Hello very beginning”. Amidst this young men, how can I help chaos, an indifferent swamp you two?” she asked politely, tour leader named Zebediah smiling up at them. The officers was peering into the water near exchanged glances with raised the docks. An alligator of about eyebrows. Evidently, they didn’t three feet in length surfaced appreciate being referred to in front of him. Attached to its as “young men” (though their collar was a waterlogged note.
Curious (and having never before seen an alligator wearing a collar), Zebediah reached into the water and grabbed the soggy piece of paper. The note read as such: Dear Cajun Fever “MANAGEMENT” and “EMPLOYEES”, Consider this my resignation letter. Y’all do not understand my passion so I’ve moved on to a better place. Please accept all responsibility. Maybe if I got my own tour, shit would’ve been different. Leave my gator, Richard Saint Maupassant, to the love of my life—the Louisiana bayou. Goodbayou to y’all, Stacey S. Savoie
Attica Prison Rebellion, September 13th, 1971: Now That Hostage John Monteleone is Dead, He Tells Us What He Misses by Paul David Adkins Poetry The Sikorsky pounded The Yard that morning with its giant steps. And then, like that, I’m dead. All the rest – the beatings, stripped inmates crawling through glass and grass and mud while my buddies kicked them until their nuts swelled baboon blue – I missed that. I didn’t miss the siren-less ride to the morgue, the cold table, the doctor who plucked a single Trooper’s pellet sunk in the morass of my aorta. I didn’t miss my family’s pounding on the suspended coffin, but I missed it when they stopped.
You Just don't Understand 52
Mixed Media Watercolor and Wallpaper
Fear and Flesh by Aaron Sommers 1. n an exquisite afternoon in May of 1998, commencement speaker James “Big Mac” McMahon distracts Merrimack College’s graduating class by yelling, “son of a bitch,” tumbling into the lap of Provost Jenn G. Richards and dropping dead.
2. Professor of Chemistry Mike Freidman orders his colleagues to, “give [Mr. McMahon] some fucking air.” Associate Professor of Poetry Bridgette Bailey places her handkerchief on McMahon’s clammy forehead. Professor of Biology Phil Browne springs from his seat, pushes Freidman aside, tears Mr. McMahon’s shirt open and takes a crack at cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Browne’s chest compressions are hindered by Freidman’s haranguing and Browne’s lack of certification in the life-saving technique. Chief Cardiologist Dr. Francis Butterworth comments in The Trustees’ Incident Information
Report, “[Browne] panicked. He acted quixotically, cavalierly, and—to be blunt—with inordinate asininity. [Browne] probably fractured Mr. McMahon’s ribs and bruised his sternum during that pathetic, bungled attempt.” Emergency Medical Technicians arrive. An unruly student body and Mr. McMahon’s hirsuteness hamper their defibrillation treatments. Eighteen-hundred Volts and three tubes of K-Y Jelly later, Big Mac is finally hoisted onto a stretcher. Students report a panorama of revulsion and confusion. Sophomore Tim Triplett witnesses, “Something out of a bad horror movie. Fucked [sic] up stuff.” The scene gets worse when, “[Mr. McMahon] flopped around with his tongue hanging out. People were yelling and crying. I saw a bunch of sparks and smoke and hair and shit fly off him. Then [Mr. McMahon] lets out this yelp—like a weird growl or something—right before they put him in [the ambulance].
And I was like, ‘are you fucking strong tidal forces through all kidding me?’ It was by far the solstice points […] Best Days most fucked up [sic] thing I’ve to kill wild onions, castrate a ever seen.” bull, and harvest monkshood En route to the hospital, […] a tea of chamomile, bee Chief Paramedic Ken Martin balm and mint are unparalleled notes Mr. McMahon’s seizure- for menstrual disorders [...] related cardiac abnormality Mr. Jim Brooks reclines in his and injects three milligrams of lawn chair and gazes at the atropine into the patient’s left stars. He likens the fabric of arm. Technician Brent Ryder space-time to panty-hose; our alleges McMahon, “Huffed consciousness mere wrinkles deeply and let out a wet bark. in the hosiery […] Mercury Then he started growlin’ and will be in retrograde from May his fingernails started growin’ 20th through May 30th […] and so did the hair on his arms. livestock farmers in and around Like outta a movie or somethin’. [Northern New Hampshire] His eyes were bright yellow advised to shelter their grazing and I’ll tell ya they looked right animals due to likelihood of through me.” Despite Ryder’s lycanthropy.” concerted efforts to subdue him, “[McMahon] tore out those 4. intravenous lines and snapped Merrimack College off them restraining belts like a Dean Howard K. Chase coupla of rubber bands.” postpones the commencement Emergency Dispatch indefinitely and Monitoring confirms, “a loud exercises shrill” and “significant power instructs the unruly student failure” within the ambulance. body to vacate the grounds NH State Police issue an All- immediately. Points Bulletin for James “Big Campus police arrest three students—including Class Mac” McMahon. Valedictorian Terone Delvon Jones. Jones refuses to leave 3. the stage, demanding, “to know From The Old Farmer’s what just fucking happened.” Almanac (Yankee Publishing: Jones recounts one officer asked 1998), p.54: him, “to put my hands where “Expect a Full Wolf he could see ‘em. So I told him Moon throughout these that’s gonna be a little hard— exquisite Spring months, with seeing how I was wearing a
robe and all.” Jones proclaims, “Shit got real. He asked me if I was [carrying a gun]. No shit. So I told him I forgot my [AK47] in the library. Then he goes, ‘you’re going to get shot with backtalk like that’… [rent-a-cop] cuffed me right in front of my parents. Everyone booed [renta-cop] and threw shit at him.” 5. May 22nd 1998
NH State Trooper Ben Noyes locates the ambulance in a ditch off Route 112. Noyes declares the crash scene, “a war zone.”
Edgar Overton Edmonds (University of Wisconsin Press: 1989), p.45: “Grey wolves have exceptional geographical distribution and a long, contentious relationship with humans…Canis lupus exhibits superior auditory perception and acute night vision … [The alpha male] needs only eye contact as an indicator of his dominance. If threatened, he will utilize scent and scratch markings for territorial advertisement. He prefers higher elevations in mating
Noyes declares the crash scene, “a war zone.” Photos accompanying his report illustrate a mangled cab, a patient cot saturated with blood, the drug cabinet torn asunder. Photos accompanying his report illustrate a mangled cab, a patient cot saturated with blood, the drug cabinet torn asunder. Two noteworthy details from the narrative section of Noyes’ report are his discoveries that vehicle’s onboard computers are soaked in urine and the Emergency Medical Services Driver is decapitated. 6. From The Complete Werewolf Compendium, by
and shelter. Most of his dens face north, per direction [of the planet Mercury]…research from the University of Michigan Department of Wildlife Science confirms these apex predators’ can bite through bone and steel… intelligence easily surpasses their amicable cousins [the canine]… [The Werewolf] origins are rooted in genetic mutations, testosterone surges, other-world influences and old-fashioned opportunism. Epictetus (Lycanthropy and Freedom of Action) identifies
Werewolves as, “Earth’s most impressive, most perilous creature.” […] The wolf-man represents the worst attributes of both species: a loner—the antisocial, paranoid, egoistic, emotionally unstable, libidinous, and intensely aggressive outcast. Hopeless nihilism. He’s a schizoid personality in a Dionysian frenzy…Is it any wonder the Nazis named Hitler’s headquarters Werwolf? Unable and unwilling to join packs or social groups, the lycanthrope is incapable of compassion or cooperation […] The wolf-man harnesses a mythical vigor necessary for an enduring solitary existence. He is forever stewing in a deep well of melancholia and history shows us he’ll destroy anyone, anything, in his dismally dim path.” 7. May 27th 1998. NH State police K-9 Units survey the crash site and surrounding area. Two cadaver dogs (Twin beagles “Biggie” and “Benny”) locate a corpse in Newichwannock pond. T h e Medical Examiner transports the carcass to Mount Pierce Hospital. . 8a. From The Best of the Boob
Tube, (Entertainment Weekly, April 9th, 2000) by Jackson Philbrick: “The die is cast. Last night NBC premiered the one show everyone’s been dying to see—the uber-hyped, docudrama, "Attack of the Mac!". The live global broadcast broke total viewership records with a Nielsen Rating of 63 […] I found myself disgusted with our fatally-flawed protagonist and, at the same time, wanting to buy our rebel-hero a beer […] "Attack!" plunders the cold case files of James “Big Mac” McMahon and examines the original manuscript of McMahon’s schlocky novel, The Man with the Million Dollar Sneeze. […] Thankfully, it doesn’t take long for "Attack!" to move from the clerical and mundane to the cheesy and delicious. Show-runner Denny Harlane opens the second hour as, “a professional photographer capturing life in shadows.” He’s our, “Architect of Anarchy,” his crew, “Paranormal Pirates.” […]"Attack!" excels when Harlane and gang take it to the streets. Awesome highlights: bribing federal law enforcement agents, humiliating a Merrimack College alumnus, breaking into a research facility and purloining werewolf DNA samples […] Harlane needed a change of
OTR 58 pace from his last project—the disappointingly-mild slapstick, My Alien Parents. […] Alleged footage of Big Mac is grainy […] Mr. Harlane demonstrates the testicularity we all expect of him. He manages to top those notorious exploits of Operation King Contact—when the world watched in awe as Harlane breeched the walls of Graceland with his M1A1 Abrams tank and attempted to unearth Elvis on live T.V. […] One bold move in "Attack!" occurred in a mysterious Granite State cemetery (under the pale light of a Full Moon, no less). Harlane commandeers a backhoe and disinters three corpses, identifying a fourth as “our jackpot.” When those armed guards started firing on him, Harlane qualified as bad-ass in my book. […] But Denny, where’s that cadaver you promised us? And what happened to that God-forsaken freak from New Hampshire? And who exactly was Leidekker? We don’t get any answers—but at least Harlane’s take on America’s Favorite Werewolf is eminently watchable. […] "Attack of the Mac!" grinds to a halt with a much-discussed cliffhanger ending. […]NBC’s not only back in business—this network’s gonna make a killing.”
8b. Highlights of Chief Coroner’s report on the corpse found in Newichwannock pond: “…dental records are difficult to scrutinize. Severe damage to subjects’ gum and tooth matter, likely a result from: long-term abuse of chewing tobacco products, excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, gross negligence in the area of oral hygiene maintenance and possible foul play. Nonetheless, one segment of the recovered jaw from carcass was matched with an X-Ray film of Mr. McMahon’s left bite-wing…” “…toxicology screen positive: diazepam, codeine, THC, risperidone, dextroamphetamine … elevated blood ethanol level of two hundred milligrams per deciliter. Serological screening for Sexually Transmitted Infections tests positive: syphilis, herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus, gonorrhea and crab louse […] Postmortem examination reveals signs of a struggle and a terminal erection. […] This examiner has serious doubt [the cadaver] can be identified as Mr. McMahon’s. Cause of death is undetermined. After
adjusting for decomposition and purification, this cadaver’s weight does not match [Mr. McMahons’] last recorded measurements […] DNA results pending FBI processing […]
say a were-wolf is savaging our village.’ Master Chuang laughed and examined a tuft of his beard. ‘Benevolence is the very highest thing. The only savageness I’ve known lives in the heart of the man 9. believing himself superior. As far as this talk of a fiend June 9th 1998. preying on villagers—perhaps The Chief Medical your father will get a taste Examiner of Merrimack of his own medicine.’ Tang County determines cause of sat in silence with his Master death by cardiac arrest via a for some time, until Master myocardial infarction. The Chuang continued, “Beauty of body is cremated by T.J.’s formlessness! Only an animal Affordable Cremation and can cast off its body—just Funeral Services, LLC. as an insect sheds its skin. Indeed! This is the heart of 10. the Tao—the wilderness, the From Tao of Change: Tales endless transformation. Mother of Chuang-Tzu, by Clarence Earth rejects all dimensions Bergeron (Meridian Press: of captivity and destructions. 1989), p. 45: This Werewolf, this so-called Chuang Tzu listened to beast, is no longer human, nor is he human. Therefore, his student Hui Tang explain how his father hunted. ‘He is a he is the Ideal form of the foolish man,' said Chuang Tzu. Tao—a bridge between Fear and Flesh—rising above that 'What do you mean?' asked dark maw full of rank, ego and Tang. Chuang Tzu replied, ' reward.’ Tang nodded. ‘Master. Wolves, tigers and lions are benevolent. They possess their Your words are a Path to the Way, and I do thank you for bodies with ease and embrace them.’ Chuang Tzu studied a all transformations. A hunter butterfly fluttering onto his merely possesses his weapon and a lack of Yang in his sexual arm. He spoke gravely. ‘Hui organ.’ The student considered Tang, you are wrong. Dunce! You must stop thanking and this and asked, ‘But are those start thinking.’ beasts not savages? They
insight. It is evident the cases of [monsters] reported by subjects represents a treasure trove for us Vacationing with her in the business of analysis. We family in the Passaconaway ought not to concern ourselves Campground in the White with the ogres of childhood that Mountain National Forest, appear in dreams, but, rather, Molly Ableson, age nine, of those in everyday life [...] the North Miami Beach, Florida, werewolf represents everything spots, “A big hairy wolf-man about a vagina that terrifies run really fast across the the neurotic man. Here is the woods. My Mom and me heard potential for the woman to something howl and my Daddy entangle, entrap, and consume went outside our cabin with a him. Potent symbolism at work flashlight and when I looked out here [illegible] The Werewolf is the window I saw this big hairy distilled primal rage. Indeed, monster wave his arms and run he is all that the regressed back into the woods. He was man runs from. Endowed with howling. Really loud, too. Last immortality, only he can give year my brother saw a dragon complete sexual gratification to fly away from a helicopter […] a woman. Eros incarnate! […]In it was really scary. Mom made spite of our pathetic defenses, hot cocoa for me and we waited the lycanthrope forces us to for my Daddy to get back. When confront all we fear when our Daddy came back inside he had attempts at self-preservation peed in his pants.” fail […] As a distinguished researcher, my professional 12. obligation is to dispense the From The Lost Notebooks of 5% solution of liquid joie de Sigmund Freud, by Sigmund vivre into my mouth. Seconds Freud, (Modern Library: 1998) later a complete numbing of pg.90: tongue, lips and awakening my libido […] Must send letter “During the year of to Dr. Koller and request larger 1898 I toiled on the subject of vial of Merck cocaine alkaloid memory in [psychoanalysis]. solution. Also request preferred In self-analysis the danger of route of administration of incompleteness is particularly Coca to maximize effect of great. One is too soon satisfied drug and reduce tolerance… with a part explanation […] Offer analysis of his daughter a burst of exhilaration via my Elizabeth quid pro quo [page cocaine tincture brought fresh July 2nd 2000
torn] […] Dear Lycanthrope! You represent all the impish neurotic man cannot do: you bring forth both Life and Death. I, for one, envy your triumphs! […] [The Werewolf] is [penis envy]; and [castration anxiety] at a monstrous scale. This is no monster; this is a construct of the raw psyche, freed from centuries of enslavement. Good God! This is a beauty—a perfect and timeless symbol.” 13. From Counsel with a Jedi Knight: The Lost Interviews of George Lucas, by Victor Allen (Del Rey Books: 2007), p.63:
However, your prequels were ravaged by many of those same fans. Did this hurt? George Lucas: Not really. I’m used to it. I got lots of grief for [Return of the Jedi]. They told me the Ewoks were juvenile and Cloud City looked fake. But I really don’t give a good goddamn what any fourth-rate critic or fan-boy thinks of my creative world. VA: Looking back at all of the monsters you’ve dreamed up, do you have a favorite?
GL: [shakes head] Well, first of all, I wouldn’t call them monsters. The word suggests abnormality and evil. I create [George Lucas sits in his characters—all of whom are
The original Star Wars films were wildly popular. They became cultural unifiers. However, your prequels were ravaged by many of those same fans. Did this hurt?
meditation room hidden away within the sprawling complex known as Skywalker Ranch, looking out at the gloaming of a cold autumn day. On the wall, a picture of him standing in front of a phalanx of Imperial Stormtroopers—the creator with his creations.]
well-adjusted on their home planets. [Pause] but I guess my favorite is…Chewbacca. Basically, Chewbacca’s just a warm and fuzzy werewolf. That’s it. A kinder, gentler wolfman. All the Wookies are. Same goes for Ewoks.
VA: Are there any characters Victor Allen: The original Star whose stories we haven’t heard Wars films were wildly popular. yet? They became cultural unifiers. GL: Oh, sure. But we’re all in
OTR 58 that boat. I think—Jabba the Hut— [laughing] I kind of miss Jabba, actually—I’ve got a running list of people for him to send to the Sarlacc.
power. It’s worse than the Dark Side. Much, much worse than any Dark Force [inaudible]. Inspiration for that…I really don’t know…I don’t want to VA: And how do you create a know… character like Jabba? What’s VA: There was a sobering the inspiration there? element in [Return of the Jedi]. GL: Well, see, with Jabba, I A solemn tone that— really wanted to teach the audience something. They loved everything Star Wars so—[clears throat] so what’s that quote? ‘One never learns to understand anything truly but what one loves.’ Goethe, I think. Right? So I captivated a generation by the time [The Empire Strikes Back]. That was the easy part. That was why it wasn’t enough…One night I had a vision of [laughs nervously] of a… galactic crime lord. He’s always the largest creature in the room. He’s lardaceous, he’s slimy…he’s living large in a palace full of monsters and sex slaves. [Points finger] But he’s shrewd.
GL: No, not really. I remember… we were out in Tunisia filming, and I knew [Princess Leia] had to wear a metal bikini. She just had to. Jabba wanted it, so I designed it [hands on his breasts] and built it and…it happened. And you know I still get thanked for that? VA: Amazing. GL: Yeah. [Sighs] Well, you strike a chord with our culture and it’s [pause]—you know, I was about to mass-market that metal bikini but—look, like I said, the worst thing people do in [Hollywood] and, really, in life is to get too comfortable. I’ve always believed that.
VA: He looked like nothing VA: And by that you mean anyone had ever seen on film. excess? GL: No. I mean getting sloppy. He certainly was frightening. Underestimating the dangers… GL: Yeah, he does look what happens when…we get hideous…he really let himself complacent. For an artist that go by [Return of the Jedi] but manifests as stagnation. Or it’s Jabba’s behavior that’s really compromising on your vision. deplorable. Jabba’s behavior I guess for normal people that surpasses all kinds of evil. His means [Shrugs] Getting fat penchant for torture, lust for and lazy and clinical and …
materialistic. VA: My guess is that [Industrial Light and Magic] is a very, very busy place. GL: Actually, you’re wrong. I like peace and quiet. This [motions to room] was the inspiration for [Darth Vader’s Meditation Chamber] which [laughing] I’ll take over a palace any day. VA: You’ve mentioned Jabba— GL: Look, any mythical beast— like the werewolf, for example, is enduring. It has to be. And either this creature continues to exist somewhere on Earth— owing to some immoderate mental and physical strength— or the archetype is just so powerful we’ll never let go.
him. [Laughs] Of course, he ignores his own advice—and pays for it with his life. So that lesson, that every monstrous thought, every monstrous action has consequences, that’s what I demonstrated…hoped to, at least. Whether people understood it is out of my hands.” 15. October 1st 1999 Miraculous Mattress Outlets Inc. declares Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 16. From The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson, (Harvard University Press: 1951), p.81:
“DEAR SIR,--Because VA: And like the werewolf the Jedi can harness these of the aforementioned illness extraordinary powers, correct? I write this from my bed. Yes, I do think it bears repeating, GL: Sort of…both bespeak that ones’ greatest companion mind over matter…Jabba never ought be the Woods. For it wanted [Luke Skywalker] in knows but it does not tell! The his palace. He refused him waves of green are so pensive— admittance. Now think about they only looketh to see the that. Some stranger shows up, Moon. Therein them lies a deep puts a bomb right up to Jabba’s Eternity few can fathom….In face and he’s not fazed. Yet, response to your question: there this un-armed, soft-spoken is no Present, Past or Future— guy in a robe threatens him. every adult experiences Decay Why? Because he knows Jedi and Despair when they deny Knights are the wrong kinds this fact. This insight came of enemy to make. Jabba knows to me via a four-year old girl he can’t buy the Force or bully named Poppy who delivers it and it scares the shit out of my newspaper to me every
afternoon. Poppy is the daughter of one of my father’s associates, and has a Conscious Ear and a Celestial Face. You also asked about my shaggy and reticent ally, Carlo. This velvety-eared vagabond followed me outside last week, and together under the pale light of a Full Moon we strolled our lonely trail. In the great distance we caught a neighbor from another world. His howl breached the Heavens! A beast with immeasurable bulk! Long arms covered in frenzied hair reached out into no-thingness. O! How I yearned for them to hold me in their gauzy nest! Immensely Beloved beast! So full of solemnity was
give you an answer as to how I spend my days here in my room? -Your Friend, E. 17. From Monsters are due in Manchester (Esquire magazine, March18th, 2000) by Jackson Philbrick: “MIT’s Leidekker Examining Group left us with more questions than answers. Let’s start with what we know. We know Dr. Bill Leidekker witnessed—in a controlled environment—a human being demonstrate “shapeshifting” abilities. But we also know the bulk of Leidekker’s
You also asked about my shaggy and reticent ally, Carlo. This velvety-eared vagabond followed me outside last week, and together under the pale light of a Full Moon we strolled our lonely trail. he that my hands clapped in Ecstasy. I waved at him—and he waved back! Tis little hope we have to outlive, outmaneuver, such Immortal skin-walkers of these ample Woods. I called out to him but as soon as he made his presence known, he was gone with Doom’s celerity. Together we heaved telepathic sighs. For we are both doomed to Eternal isolation and misunderstanding! So much tragedy in one walk! Does this
observations, narratives and so-called “proof” of her mythological powers have since been denied, denounced or destroyed. At the end of the day, we can all agree that people want to believe in this nonsense. They don’t need academics to sweeten the pot. The bored, bloated, narcotic-popping general public dreams of the supernatural and yearns for the otherworldly. Always have, always will. And
who can blame them? Faced with a Godless, meaningless existence, they run for cover. Americans are on a perpetual quest for the magical, the mystical, the metaphysical— and they won’t let a nuisance like the truth stand in their way. Never underestimate the power of bias.” 18. October 9th 2003 Little, Brown and Company reprints Big Mac’s Bildungsroman, The Man with the Million Dollar Sneeze. It catapults to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list, staying there a record sixtythree weeks. Jack Nicholson narrates the audiobook version. D e s p i t e unprecedented commercial success, critical reception is mixed. Kara McAllister of the Boston Globe states, “Initially published in obscurity long before his infamous death, James ‘Big Mac’ McMahon’s re-packaged, re-booted, hardcovered opus is an unsettling mix of pain, pity and perversion.” The New Times Book Review includes it in the “100 Notable Books of the Year,” yet the paper-magazine also bemoans, “What has never been alive cannot very well go
on living.” In The New Yorker, Jerry Jermaine expounds, “We’ve all been subjected to the twisted legends regarding [Mr. McMahon’s] mysterious demise. Finally, something straight from the source […] unflinching […] it’s a literary high-wire act. Our so-called ‘Werewolf of London’ delivers a mise en abyme. Indeed, the indomitable, inscrutable Big Mac proves there are second acts in American lives […] Text with all the subtlety of a Samuel L. Jackson performance. […] beyond the ballyhoo, this is a gloomy—yet surprisingly redemptive—tour de force.” Lastly, Andrew Dickinson of Publishers Weekly declares the tome, “a hot mess of hype […] an editor’s nightmare and a publisher’s wet dream […] I expected something wolfish— instead I got Call of the Mild […] lurid […] Boring stuff of the wrist-slitting kind. McMahon writes as only a dilettante can: with desperate flashiness, showing and telling his way through a real shit-show.”
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All Kinds of Skin by Victoria Lau
I once knew a girl who wore the skins of many beasts. She wore their arms around her waist, their claws on her breasts, their muzzles on her nape and their cocks in her mouth, each one like the pacifier her Daddy made her suck to hush her cries. Silence— A bleak ongoing ritual since she was thirteen of dressing and undressing; bundling and unbuttoning; covering and undoing, shedding and hiding. One disguise after another, stitching warmth and comfort onto her naked body. Silent— I could have stopped it, but instead became her last pelt. One month later, I watched her mother weep as she buried her disfigured daughter into the barren ground. Unable to piece them back together, I can, to this day, still feel the cracked bones and torn limbs rattle from her grave.
Video Nasty by Rachel Sather
(Blackout onstage. A Law and Orderesque voice-over speaks.) VOICE In the early 1980’s, over seventy films on videocassette were banned throughout the UK. Deemed, obscene, violent, and unfit for public viewing, these “video nasties” were believed to have violated the Obscene Publications Act of 1959, causing them to be forced off the market by British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. This is the completely factual account of how these films were recovered. (Lights up on THATCHER’s office) THATCHER Ah, what a lovely day it is. Approval ratings are high, trade unions are weak, and most importantly, Britain is robust with the sweet smell of censorship. Yes indeed. (She sighs, then suddenly screams) CYNTHIA!!!! (Her assistant, CYNTHIA, runs in and stands at the ready.) Yes, madam?
THATCHER Cynthia, darling, I’m feeling a tad sluggish this morning. Be a dear and fetch me some scotch for my tea, would you? CYNTHIA Forgive me for saying so, Prime Minister, but it’s half past eight in the morningDid I stutter?
OTR 58 CYNTHIA (sighs) Right away, madam. (She grabs a large bottle of scotch and begins pouring it into a tea kettle as they speak) THATCHER So, what’s on the agenda for today? CYNTHIA Well, the miner’s strike is still going strong. Those coal miners have really been suffering since all of those manufacturing jobs were lost. THATCHER Oh Cynthia. Darling Cynthia. You know I don’t give a shit. CYNTHIA But Prime Minister, unemployment has skyrocketed. Those people have families! THATCHER Don’t sass me. I know what I’m doing. I wasn’t reelected for nothing, you know! (Takes a large swig of “tea”) Now, I beg of you, tell me something I actually care about. CYNTHIA (Checking clipboard) Hmm………ah yes! We confiscated quite a few more films today. THATCHER Splendid! Read the list to me. CYNTHIA There’s Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit On Your Grave, The Driller Killer, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Gestapo’s Last Orgy, and……oh this can’t be right……
THATCHER What? What isn’t right? CYNTHIA The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? THATCHER Ah yes! I requested that one personally. CYNTHIA But madam, that’s a Dolly Parton film. It’s a musical. THATCHER Cynthia, I will not be promoting prostitution in this country! But Prime Minister-
THATCHER No buts! Whorehouse is banned. CYNTHIA (sighs) Yes, Prime Minister. (THATCHER smiles and has another swig.) THATCHER God bless censorship. I, for one, feel much safer knowing Britain’s impressionable youth are protected from these disgusting, obscene films. Who knows what could be unleashed if we allowed these tapes to be sold? (Suddenly, two American AGENTS burst through the door, pointing guns at THATCHER and CYNTHIA.) AGENT A Freeze, you film-hating swine! (CYNTHIA and THATCHER raise their hands over their heads and scream.)
Cynthia, call security!
AGENT B (Pointing their gun at CYNTHIA) Don’t move, bitch! CYNTHIA Who are you?! What do you want?! AGENT A We’re from the Federal Institute of the Liberation of Trash and Horror. ……FILTH? More or less.
CYNTHIA AGENT A
AGENT B We traveled here from the year 2000 to free these so-called “video nasties” from your grasp and allow the British people the freedom to watch all of the gory, violent movies you’ve banned. CYNTHIA Why are you meddling in British affairs? You’re Americans!
AGENT B We’d do anything for Evil Dead. AGENT A Hell, we’d kill you over Flesh for Frankenstein, and we fucking hate Andy Warhol. AGENT B Point is, film censorship is wrong and you’re a frigid bitch for allowing it. Besides, have you even SEEN any of the films on that list? THATCHER Of course I haven’t! I’m not a barbarian like you! AGENT A
AGENT B Look, you either lift the ban, or we kill you. Simple as that. THATCHER But you don’t understand! You don’t know the type of horror that will be unleashed if the ban is abolished! AGENT A You have ten seconds, Thatcher.
AGENT B It’s kinda what we do best.
THATCHER But……what about the children?
THATCHER You’ll never lift the ban, you Yankee scum! I would die first!
That can be arranged.
THATCHER You would kill ME just so people can freely watch Evil Dead?
(They shoot THATCHER. She drops to her knees, but doesn’t die.) You’ll never kill me!
(They shoot again. She recoils, becoming demon-like.)
OTR 58 THATCHER I tried……to protect you…… (They shoot again. She falls.) THATCHER Oh……fuck you, you horror-loving trash! (She collapses, dead. She continues to twitch before lying still. The agents go to her.) AGENT B Wow. They didn’t call her the Iron Lady for nothing. CYNTHIA You really shouldn’t have done that. AGENT A We can’t allow censorship to continue, ma’am.
CYNTHIA Okay. When these films were released, some people noticed some strange occurrences on the videotapes when they viewed them. Apparently these films are so horrifying that a curse was implanted into the cassettes. The only one that could tame them was Margaret Thatcher, so she confiscated them all and locked them up. But now that she’s dead…… What happens now?
CYNTHIA That’s what I’m afraid of…… (A part of the Evil Dead score begins to play.)
CYNTHIA Well, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re in Britain, not America. And there was a reason why those films were banned. Which is……?
CYNTHIA You really wanna know? Well yeah.
(Suddenly, a DEADITE bursts through the door, laughing horrendously. Cynthia screams.)
AGENTS (They nod at each other in unison)
What was that?
AGENT B That’s what our beautiful country was built upon. Freedom.
DEADITE I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul! AGENT A
What do we do?
AGENT B What do you think? Use your boomstick! (They take out their guns and shoot the Deadite multiple times.)
AGENT A (gurgles and dies)
CYNTHIA (smugly) Would you still do anything for Evil Dead?
So that means……
Definitely. Great fucking movie. God. What’s next?
AGENT A CYNTHIA
FUAD (gross, distorted laughter) Ha! Hahaha. Ha. (He speaks to his statue) What’s that Ishtar? You want me to KILL this virgin for our blood feast? Well, if you say so. (He lifts his knife and slowly moves towards Cynthia)
AGENT B CYNTHIA
I know this one.
(A deep, vicious laugh offstage.) Blood Feast. Which one is that?
(The drum beat for Blood Feast begins.) Oh shit.
(FUAD RAMSES walks through the door, an Egyptian statue in one hand and a butcher knife in the other, behind his back. His eyebrows move wildly.)
CYNTHIA (As the agents are about to fire, Fuad drops his statue. Agent B quickly runs and grabs it, throwing it to Agent A, who fires into the statue. Fuad screams in pain, collapsing. He is dead.)
AGENT A (to Cynthia) You’re a virgin?
CYNTHIA Shut the FUCK up. Now do you see why we needed Thatcher?
AGENT A Herschell Gordon Lewis’s 1964 horror debut. Regarded as the first gore film.
AGENT B Nobody needed Thatcher.
We got this. Chill.
(The Cannibal Holocaust theme begins.) AGENTS
(Agent A shoots the cannibal. He dies. The three sigh with relief.) CYNTHIA Well, now that you’ve killed my boss and literally unleashed hell, I don’t see any more reason for me to stay here. So, uh, bye, and good luck getting home. Assholes.
CYNTHIA What? What movie is it this time? The big one. You don’t mean……? Yep.
(Cynthia exits.) AGENT A
AGENT B Good luck getting laid!
(A CANNIBAL bursts onstage, a human arm in one hand and a monkey in the other.) CYNTHIA Not Cannibal Holocaust! (The cannibal slowly approaches, gnawing on the arm. The three back away.) AGENT B Let’s just relax. I mean, if you think about it, the cannibals aren’t even the real villains in the movie, right? (The cannibal rips off the monkey’s head and starts to eat it. Everyone freaks out.)
(offstage) Fuck you!
(The agents shrug. They sit on Thatcher’s desk and take out a joint. They pour some “tea”.) AGENT A You know, I really do wonder who the real cannibals are. AGENT B You’re such a pretentious piece of shit. AGENT A Why do you think I got into this business? (The laugh and clink glasses. CURTAIN.)
AGENT A Fuck that! He ate the monkey! AGENT B Kill him, kill him with fire!
Incident by Alyson Fusaro
Poetry - Contest winner
Six of us snuck into the golf course, the cold moon across a black backdrop, our sleds tucked under our arms. We went on our backs, pushed our bodies backwards. I called out to John, “look up!” And we all stared, wide-eyed, watching the lights reel past us. We slid down the snowy hill, And Johnny smiled at us briefly before crashing into a tree. We ran, laughing, to help him up, Tommy nudged John with his foot, “Get up” he smiled. John didn’t get up—he didn’t blink. We just stared at him. The frigid air became heavy with silence while the stars looked down at us sadly.
Mixed Media Watercolor and Wallpaper
Walls by Alessandra Rosen
Digital - Art Contest Photography Winner
here’s a couch. No ventilation but the sound of a broken AC unit in the back room. It’s dimly lit and stuffy. Kendrick free-styling on the TV screen.
tastes sweet. “Like candy,” you say, “or blueberry.. or some shit.”
We’re sitting on the couch. I realize it’s actually a mattress. White leather affixed to the cushiony bedspring with staples. No pillows.
I spread my legs out on the couch. I let myself sink into the cushion. I’m staring at the wall. Is that..?
You close your eyes and let out a long exhale. When you inhale again I think I can taste the smoke in my lungs.
“--Striped, yeah. My dad painted it--painted all this, actually-this is like his storage.. an’.. creative space.” Your eyes sweep the room as you speak.
“Yeah, it totally tastes like blueberry.”
“So.. have you, uh, changed Yellow, silver, purple, black. your mind?.. or ya still keepin' Tacky. Like crayons. If I blink it tight?” my eyes really hard they all blend together. I imagine your You lean into me. father, painting those stripes purple, black, silver, yellow. “Uh- I guess I’ll have some.. Diagonal stripes and a yellow yeah.” border. Sinking. Sliding. Into the stripes with each brushstroke. I press my mouth to the lips of On the ladder, on his feet. the glass and inhale with the Sweating. A dark time. click of the lighter. I feel my eyes get small as I focus on the “This summer was dark for me.” orange heat of the flame. The warmth of the smoke infiltrates I can hear the words as they my lungs and dries out the come out of my mouth. I can narrow crevices of my throat. It feel their weight on the air. I’m
I’m hearing your words and it’s like I’m swimming. I’m hearing “Oh.. yeah?” you catch onto you. I’m really here right now. them. “Well, I guess I feel kinda special “Yeah. I gave too much of myself then. You came here.” Your arm to people.” nudges mine. I can feel myself open on the The muscles of my forearms couch. The narrow crevices. I’m tense but my skin melts with sliding in the stripes of the wall. your touch. “Like.. it’s like.. um.. Sometimes I find it easier to give to others than to..like.. receive what other people are trying to give me.” I say.
“Yeah, I came here. I definitely don’t feel that with you. You’re different.”
There. I’ve done it. I roped you in. You’re in the wall with me. “Oh I’ve heard of that shit.. Stapled on the couch. like something with the signs. What’s your birthday?” I’m asking you: “do you miss her?” about your ex. We’re “March. In March. I was born talking about your ex-girlfriend that month. March 11th. Pisces.” now. “Yeah some signs like give to “Yeah.. I definitely do wish we others more then they give to were still together. Just some themselves. But that can like--” hard shit to quit. I tried to tell her that.” “--fuck up the balance.” I’m jumping on your words. The yellow is bleeding. The wishing is sweet on my tongue “yeah…” you warn me. “You like the berry-laced-bong we gotta be careful wit dat shit.” just hit. I’m wishing too. “yeah it’s hard. I lose myself. I feel like people just want to be You ask me: “do you have around me to hear themselves someone..?” talk.” I wince and turn away. I’m really gushing now, the yellow borders are running into I could bury myself in the stripes. I the purple and black lines. I need could swim in the borders. I could to stop. I’ve given too much. But paint my body purple and yellow
and silver and black. I could bleed a man whose existence looms brightly. larger than my own and feel stupid and shitty about myself We’re both high. I know this than feel greater than the man not just because the stripes are I’m loving and be thinking that bleeding. I know this because he’s feeling stupid and shitty we’re forgetting the words after about himself.” I could love you. we say them. That’s how you empty yourself. You just say all Your eyes are searching mine. the shit that you’re full of til You want more. you’re empty of it. “I’ll tell you all about it when The Question: “so… ya never it’s over.” answered me.” I’m thinking it’s over now. I can Ok. Purple, yellow, black, silver. feel myself melting onto the
I know this because we’re forgetting the words after we say them. That’s how you empty yourself. You just say all the shit that you’re full of til you’re empty of it.
Fuck it. “He’s twice my age.”
couch, into the striped walls. It’s safer not to tell. No names. Twice-my-age could be anyone.
Your eyes go up. Way up.
I’m feeling that familiar sensation where I know my body “So I feel like.. He means more and mind belong to someone than I do just by the mere fact else. Like I’ve buried myself in that He’s been existing for twice Him. Like I’ve lost myself in as long as I have.” Him. Like I’m drowning in the crevices. Those words rush out and I forget the panic that proceeds It’s like this: I’m waiting, I’m them once they’ve left my running, I’m seeing through His mouth. They punch a hole in the eyes. His dreams are my dreams. atmosphere. His words are my poetry. And I can’t escape. “It’s a power play. I definitely get off on that. I’d rather love You’re reaching out. You’re
OTR 58 letting me in. “I wanna be in a relationship again but I can’t fuckin’ escape her.” I know. I understand. I can’t escape Him either. I’m thinking that it’s safer to remain buried in the being of someone else. Buried in a man. In Him. I’m not really here, then. I’m not really present with you. You think I am, but I’m actually tethered to Him. This isn’t happening in real time. He’s the arbitrator. You’re not real to me unless He says so.
Do you understand what I’m reaching for? I’m trying to empty myself but I can’t. I can’t tell you anything. I’m reaching to you. a landline. Help me. Unfold me. Untether me. “The station is right offa Driggs an N7st.” “Ok. Yeah, ok. Cool.” You let me out. The walls stop bleeding there.
On the couch, in the yellow borders on the diagonal stripes that line the wall. I’m the yellow that spills over and blurs the fine lines of separation. The borders, the stop signs. I’m the fluid bright light yellow that screams at you and makes your eyes bleed. I feel guilty about that. I feel guilty that I came here. “I should leave. It’s 7.” “oh.. yeah.” I think we said too much. I was reaching too. I fold my arms around your body. “I love you.” too much. “It comes so naturally from your mouth. So beautiful,” you say.
Train Pains: Readers' Tension
Digital Art 87
The Country in My Mouth by Fariha Chowdhury i. Sometimes, I’ll forget to say a certain word in my mother’s tongue and foreign words will move in as though they’ve been searching for a place and my mouth was the perfect place to be in I lick away the cities and villages there, building skyscrapers of a new vocabulary. ii. [ I dream about my teeth coming loose all the time. ] iii. Sometimes my mouth is awash in a blood trail of familiar words. I swallow them hungrily– tasting an unknown graveyard. iv. Sometimes, my home crawls back in my mouth like criminals— I feel like a deserter. How many times can you dice a language a country a tongue before it becomes lost in debris?
An Asparsile Syndrome by Evan Leone
Drama - Contest Winner
CHARACTERS BEING #1 An insecure and romantic character led by their sentimentality. A dreamy examiner and a frequent over-thinker. Both drawn to and prone to shying away from the spotlight. Secretly as warm as could be. BEING #2 A larger, more magnanimous being whose mere existence seems to be the paragon of social charisma. Somewhat carelessly consumes attention with a bottomless appetite. Genuinely caring, but often deficient in tact. SETTING A dark place flecked with small, light bulb like lights dotting the background – the actors are themselves bright glowing objects on the stark blackness that is the center stage. The set is large and deadly silent save for the quietly echoing and unusually gentle resonating voices of the main actors. The time is unknown and the precise environment is unclear.
OTR 58 BEING #1 (Breaking a silence) Sometimes, I can’t help but just think – it's like a constant thing with me, I swear. BEING #2 Well, yeah, of course you can’t. There’s not really much of anything to… BEING #1 Yes – I know. Geez, you’re so --- literal. Well? BEING #2 Well, what? Are you going to tell me what’s going on with you?
– but --- I’m kinda here to stay, you know? Besides, it sometimes looks so empty out there – I'd even say it's not all it's cracked up to be! BEING #1 Well at least you have an important job that obligates you to stay here? What would happen if poof – I just got flung off into the void? Anything? BEING #2 Oh absolutely something would! You’re like – my partner in crime! Imagine how dull everything would be if all those little guys down there didn’t get two – count ‘em two – stars twinkling a night. Man! How boring would that be?
BEING #1 (Shyly) I was kind of hoping you’d ask…
BEING #1 (Mocking, but pleased) Oh please – you flatter me too much.
BEING #2 Oh! I’m sorry – usually everyone’s all like spilling their guts to me, looking towards me for answers, depending on me – I don’t usually have to chase answers down like this.
BEING #2 Nahhhhh. Besides, you and I both don't really have any choice but to be here, huh?
BEING #1 Well, there must be a reason I want to share with you, right?
BEING #2 Sorry, not the right thing to say?
BEING #2 (Laughs modestly) Yeah... I get what you mean. BEING #1 I sometimes get the feeling that you’d like to wander off to somewhere – even if you do like my company, or whatever. BEING #2 Um? I dunno, It’s a big space to wander off into for sure
That's not it... (Beat)
BEING #1 (Notably swallows) BEING #2 (Taken slightly aback) Bored? Um, well --- ahaha, why you thinking about it?
BEING #1 We’re practically Siamese, right? But in that, I feel like I just so rarely have things to talk about. BEING #2 We’re pretty experientially similar though to be fair… BEING #1 That’s the point! Every once in a a while I get this feeling like I have things to talk about but then I’m like – ah, why bother? Like, you’ve already seen it and everything. BEING #2
That is true.
BEING #1 (Heavy sigh) BEING #2 Well, it’s not like that matters. We don’t always have to talk or anything like that. Besides – I like the things you say. BEING #1
BEING #2 Yeah! It’s totally different then all the stuff that I get from everyone else. BEING #1 What kinda stuff would that be? BEING #2 Just…gossip. It’s so empty around here sometimes – like, there are a million little things they can talk about – but all they can do is go on and on about the same stuff.
BEING #1 For real, and all they care about is how they look when they start burning something new – not like – what's really what's going on inside them. It's some real junk... BEING #2
BEING #1 See? Awkward silences again…
“Who’s gonna get nailed next by some rock from that belt out there?” “What’s the horoscope of these ones?” “Did you hear so and so started burning Carbon just the other day?” It’s just tiring, you know?
BEING #2 Jeez dude, it gets so noisy here sometimes that a bit of peace and quiet could be a good thing. (Beat) BEING #2 (Exhales contentedly) See? Pleasant silence. BEING #1
(Teasingly) Still not bored?
BEING #2 Not really, but I'll get more bored the more you keep talking about boredom silly. BEING #1 I won't be apologizing then – that would be really boring. BEING #2 (Laughing) Now you get it.
OTR 58 BEING #1 Anyway, what spurned so much of this and what I was about thinking was... and stop me if you think it's weird to think this – why would we even have been brought together in the first place? It's this whole issue of believing in coincidences. BEING #2 (Obtusely) Is this some kind of spiritual question? I'm really bad with those...
More...cosmic, I guess.
BEING #2 Oh I dunno, in that case... gravity does what gravity does, I guess. BEING #1 You mean you don't understand anything about it? BEING #2
(Reflective) I suppose I don't. (Beat)
are now! There's no other explanation! (Beat) BEING #2 (Wearied, but contentedly so) Man... BEING #1 Oh fine. Be that way. I'm just saying you haven't thought of anything better. BEING #2 Look, I have to rise now otherwise no one's ever going to get up – it's super important because that one over there is starting to actually get microbial bacteria and they're gonna need lots of light. You know – a lot of light. BEING #1 OK! I'll be right behind you then, dude! BEING #2 I expect nothing less of you! --- now let's get on it, the day's a-wastin'
(The stage floods with light just as the curtains draw to a CLOSE.)
BEING #2 I didn't bother me until right now, you know? BEING #1 (Flustered) Well, I don't understand it either! But... I do have a theory. BEING #2 I'd be interested in hearing it! BEING #1 OK – it was decided by fate so benevolently that we be weaved together into this system we have now. For the sole purpose that we could become the great friends we
Cockpeacock (series) 96
Digital Art 97
Forced Traveler by Qurrat-ul Ain
Syllables slipping and sliding off my mother tongue, Meh houn oudas in ways that even the dusty winds of my motherland cannot comprehend. Dragging my suitcase across the rugged terrains of the Himalayas and China and then over the thirst of the pacific ocean, I am sad in ways that even the honking cars of Santa Monica cannot comprehend and the first block of ice I have ever laid eyes on, ever laid hands on, takes my fingerprint, it reminds me that my identity is fleeting. In the Canadian melting snow, I am knee deep in the subzero blast of air, leaving frost bite hickeys on my cheeks. Je suis déprimé in ways the boy across the hallway cannot comprehend and when I pack up again and soar thousands of feet into the air and land into Adam’s apple I am reminded that yo estoy triste in ways I will never comprehend. Syllables slip and slide off my mother tongue. I have fingernails and I have hair but I am not fingernail and I am not hair and if I try hard enough, I can convince myself that perhaps I have something, that like other things, I can trim at the salon or sweat out at the gym. Perhaps I have sadness mere pass hai oudasi j’ai déprimé yo tengo triste and am not defined by it after all.
Another Man's Treasure by Cristina Cappiello
e was contemplating suicide when he found the note. While sifting through sheets of discarded paper, old receipts and gum stuck wrappers, a small strike of crumpled pink paper caught his eye. His trembling hands delicately unwrapped it. The note, in perfect script, read: Smile, though your heart is aching. He was dumbfounded. Who was the author of this note, found at the bottom of a blue recycling bin? He didn’t know her, but he might as well have. It seemed to him there was no one in his life that had ever known him better than this anonymous author. The woman’s elegant script floated off the page and was absorbed into his mind, easing his battled conscious with the sweet memories of yesterday, a different life. The note was more than a coincidence; it was a line from his favorite song from his favorite movie, the words his mother had sung to him every night when he was a boy. He
Prose could’ve sworn a tear cumulated in his eye, and he found himself humming the melody. The dark cloud hovering his thoughts was suddenly lifted; for a moment, he forgot why he was even sad. It was the exact memory he needed to remember. His mother had named him Paul after the saint, but his life had taken a much different discourse than that of Saint John Paul II. At twentyfour, he already had a sevenyear old child and a bitter exwife. They had wed at the church he was baptized in Mindy plump with pregnancy. After Josie was born, they lived somewhat happily, in the honeymoon stage of the baby and its tender head and particular sweet smell; they hadn’t yet realized the full weight of the child’s cries and night shifts and all the accompanying exhaustion. With this strain in full force, Paul resorted to a string of drugs – weed, the occasional Xanax, the even more occasional line of cocaine – to cope with his severed marriage. On his rare nights out, Paul would pay some angsty seventeen yearold to watch Josie, and on
one night that Mindy ordered him to drive her home, the babysitter grabbed his crotch from the passenger seat. The babysitter became a slight affair for Paul, an era of excitement in his boring, repressive world. He hadn’t lived out this integral part of his life, and the babysitter’s unapologetic youth entranced him. He began living his twentyfour years through her. Eventually and expectedly, Mindy found out about everything. She took Paul to court for neglect, two counts of child endangerment, sexual
allowed to see her one time at the end, when she was sullen and incapable. She died the morning after he had seen her. In all her debilitated misery, she conjured the strength to say goodbye to her son. It was like she was waiting for him. This idea was the only redeeming factor of his life, but it did not stop the crippling depression from seeping in. The sentence granted him a belowminimum wage paying job after his two years. Now, at twenty-six, Paul was a sorter at the local recycling plant. A federal job, employed
Paul looked down at the pink paper in his hand. Smile, though your heart is aching. He clung to this note with every fiber of his being. advances on a minor, and three counts of possessions of a controlled substance; she then divorced him on all of these grounds and took half of what he owned, including all of Josie. His lawyer dwindled down the charges to minimal sentences—it was the girl who had advanced on him; half the drugs were technically legal— and ultimately, he was put in jail for two years with five years probation. And while he was in jail—the factor that would ruin Paul the most—his beloved mother had a stroke. He was
by the city. The judge had known his mother well through church and gave Paul a break by doing her a posthumus favor. The judge told him he should feel lucky to have it, a job standing by a conveyor belt, sorting redeemable garbage into piles of keep and trash, a job as tedious as it was empty. Nonetheless, Paul spent days thinking of suicide and nights acting on it, attempting to drown himself in just enough liquor and pills to test his end. He found enough solace at the bottom of a bottle to drift him off, but every dreadful morning,
he still woke up and was forced to follow the same routine. This was until he found the note. The note gave him a purpose. Though it was likely small and insignificant to her— simple doodles as she worked on the phone, lyrics stuck in her head and tossed to the blue bin— it meant everything to him. He found a light in her garbage. Above all, it seemed to him a sign from his mother. Here, Paul, remember all the happier times. Nothing is permanent. Hoc quoque finite, my love. This too shall pass. These were her last words to him, scripted on the final letter she wrote to him he was in jail, dated two months before the stroke. Paul had them tattooed on his left arm just hours after his release. The tattoo parlor was his first destination of freedom. Paul looked down at the pink paper in his hand. Smile, though your heart is aching. He clung to this note with every fiber of his being. This anonymous woman had become his savior. The next day he searched earnestly for another sighting of the woman, her neon postits, and her phrases. He patiently waited eight straight hours—he had even skipped his lunch break, distractedly chewing on a frozen PB&J at the conveyor belt—in hopes of stumbling upon just one single
note. But none came. At exactly 5 PM, he grabbed his thinlined brown coat from the rack and sullenly walked home through an early November snowfall. Though he had come up empty the day before, the Wednesday morning finds granted him a double blessing, two notes. The first note read: Daydreamer, sitting on the sea, soaking up the sun... He could change the world with his hands behind his back He recognized the song from one of Josie’s lullaby playlists, an Adele ballad. In a low baritone, he would sing the songs to her, lulling her to sleep as Mindy watched standing by the door, mesmerized. The memory was painful looking back, but the note held none of these wounds: it seemed he was creating a new memory. He then unfolded the next note, an electric blue one: to buy: the goldfinch – donna tart sleepless in seattle dvd peanut butter martini mix vanilla bean froyo maraschino cherries This note was unlike the rest, for a grocery list did not possess the power of the ballad,
OTR 58 the quote. But Paul liked this note especially, because while the lyrics gave him insight into her mind, the grocery list gave him a glimpse of her everyday: the books she read, the movies she watched, the toppings she liked on her sundaes. She wasn’t anymore just a figment of Paul’s imagination: here was proof that she was a real person with real interests. However, she was still somewhat of a figment of his imagination because she was nameless. People have names, and Paul could only refer to her as the woman. With any note he found or thought he had of her, Paul would try and fail to pin a name onto her; nothing fit. But now, with this grocery list, he found a name. He would call her Cherry. That night he dreamed of Cherry. She came to visit him while he was in jail and she was glowing. She had a perfect head of honeyblonde, wavy hair that was accented by a crown of rose thorns. Her lips were a pale pink and her eyes a beading green, in a perfect almond shape. She was wearing a dress covered in postits, yellows and blues and pink squares filled with words all over them: do good, do bad, do something; refusing to eat chocolate is a grave injustice to your mind; doctor’s at ten. Her smile was deviously charming,
a slight smirk with downcast eyebrows. And yet she was still ethereal. Her figure faded to a silhouette as she reached a hand to the divider between them and posted a note, a glowing pink square in a sea of darkness: You’re missing out. Wake up. And so he did. The notes started coming in endlessly. Cherry seemed on a roll of personal anecdotes and lyrics and to- do lists. Quickly, he became enamored. At home, he would post these upon his wall, looking to them whenever he felt like grabbing the bottle or the noose. These small notes had so much power; he felt he his depression fading just through glancing at their words, their colorful backgrounds. Paul’s wall was now full of a woman’s thoughts as if they were a collage of pictures from a vacation; he felt as if these words and notes were his own memories. On Thursday morning, he received another note, a neon green one: Call back customer – 5617754558 re: changing meter Paul grabbed his mobile. This was the moment he didn’t know he had been waiting for. He couldn’t help himself. He
dialed the number and waited. “Hello?” voice answered.
that she forgot to call back. I woman’s knew she sounded pretty air headed on the phone yesterday.”
He waited. “Hello.” He had thought he knew a list of answers he could say as an excuse for calling, but his tongue came up blank.
“Don’t talk about her like that!” he fired back. “This is ridiculous. I’m calling the mayor.” She hung up.
“You called me, remember? The water department. I’m the one who says Hello?” This information was initially “Uh, sorry ma’am. Uh, golden for Paul, because it we spoke yesterday?” was tangible: it was an insight “Oh, yes. The meter. to her job, what she actually Finally you’re calling back,” her did, where her work was voice, grown agitated, cawed at located; it was a closer step him. “I waited three hours for to finding out about her, the your call. You said it’d only be real Cherry behind the post its. But he felt an inconsolable twenty minutes.” pity for her. She worked all day “Well I’m sorry. It’s been scheduling appointments for busy,” he defended Cherry. these ungrateful people. Now, “So about this water as he sorted through stacks of meter. Tomorrow works to tossed paper, narrowly avoiding change it out, I guess if nothing papercuts to find these blocks of thought, she became less of an better is available.” idea. “Meter?” The next day, a pink “Yes, the water note came in. meter. You work in the water department. We talked about There is nothing between us. this yesterday. And just now. Do you have short and long He lost his breath. It term memory loss? Are you was like when parents act like dumb? We spoke yesterday and nothing is wrong, and then you said you’d call me back and suddenly the child realizes dad never did. Remember that?” is pacing and mom is crying “Well, I... I’m calling and nothing’s actually okay. back on behalf of my coworker. His saint was quickly becoming She’s busy right now.” a martyr.
Why is there nothing, he
wanted to whisper to her, when recite her poetry and illustrate you’ve helped me so much? her thoughts onto her paper clippings if she was constantly Paul crumpled the hounded by invasive coworkers. note. He considered burning He couldn’t separate Cherry the it along with all the others, all writer from her life, a reality he the scraps of false hopes, but knew nothing about but swore instead shoved it deep within omnipresence. He had become the linty confines of his pocket. obsessed over the days; when Her newest truth hit people find a purpose for living, him hard, and he was overcome they tend to latch on. with a belittling wave of nausea. Who is we? He felt the overpowering need He retreated back to to go home early, to risk the the conveyor belt and fiddled seven necessary dollars to lie through other crumpled notes on his peanutstuffed mattress in this stack of fresh paper and get some empty sleep. As materials, searching for more he went to clock out, he reached information. The idea of nothing into his pocket to assess the now clung a new meaning. He note again and noticed a word found one shoved in between he hadn’t seen before peeping a work order and a magazine out. On the back, in distracted clipping: cursive, it read: All right, fine. But it’s just for We can’t go on a date. business. OK? It’s unprofessional. He searched for more We. Who is we? he and found another note, a man’s wondered. The word daggered handwriting scratched on a Paul. To him, there was only traditional yellow postit: her, no one else; he couldn’t Tomorrow, 8 oclock, Denna’s? imagine another part of her, an extra person tied to her to He flipped the note to make we. In her office, it was the back, and in her angelic only she in a beautifully sunlit room, filled with the scents of script: apple candles and sunflowers. See you there. He had never considered her in an officespace, with noisy Paul analyzed the note, trying neighbors and their adjacent, to figure out exactly when intrusive desks. She could not tomorrow was in Cherry’s work in this environment, world. He concluded that Paul thought; she could not tomorrow actually meant today,
since yesterday’s recycling was processed today. Paul couldn’t help himself. If tomorrow did indeed mean tonight, he wouldn’t miss them. He rushed out of work, ran to the nearest bank, and cashed his last paycheck. Then he quickly walked in the unforgiving cold to his downtown apartment, a cheap studio on the backroads of his
pair of dress shoes, beatup and a dull faux-leather. For the first time in years, he surveyed himself in the mirror. The image before him had always shocked him; with his years of exhaustion and unfortunate experience, he had lost the handsome glow of his youth, looking more a tired thirty-four than his meager twenty-six. He didn’t look as
But tonight, he looked different: his stubble suited him... his unkempt hair seemed intentionally styled to look tousled; his smile was big and it was true. small, suburban city. He took a real shower for the first time in days, more than just a rinse: a full shampoo and lather; body wash and a bar of soap; even time reserved for singing and bathing. He got out of the tub and walked to the sink. Taking a singlebladed razor that he had once resolved to use for harm, he meticulously shaved the lazy beard that had formed, leaving only a shadow of stubble, then applied an expired aftershave he found shoved in the far corner of the cabinet. After, he found his best buttonup—an old Oxford, with fabric pulls and missing buttons, untouched since his mother’s funeral—and matched it up with slacks and his only
rough and tough as he just looked rough. But tonight, he looked different: his stubble suited him, giving him a complimentary look of generous age; his unkempt hair seemed intentionally styled to look tousled; his smile was big and it was true. He had never been so satisfied with his reflection. He locked the apartment and walked outside to the street. However, Paul wasn’t quite ready for the night. He first had one stop to make. The cemetery was lonelier than usual. A layer of untouched snow clung to the ground, and tombstones were
OTR 58 now blanketed in this pure November storm. There did not seem to be a person nor spirit present today. On his way, he had gone to the dollar store to pick up some cemetery tradition items: a bouquet of partially wilted daisies from the flower section; a waterproof poncho; and a pack of Haribo gummy bears. It was the choice snack of his childhood, one that his mother had never allowed. He laughed at the idea of her scolding him from heaven, the threats of cavities and risks of a high fructose overdose; for him, the thrill of eating them at her grave made her seem still alive. Paul weaved in and out of endless rows of caskets and tombs and tombstones, searching for the one his mother lay under. When he found it, he placed the poncho on the ground, settled the daisies next to her black tombstone, and pulled out the gummy bears. This place to him served as a confessional box at the church, with his mother seated peacefully on the other side. He spoke to her candidly, thoroughly and shamelessly.
“I hope you haven’t been too disappointed in me. Okay, I know you have, and you have every right to.” He looked down to the ground. “I’ve been a disappointment. I have.” “But ma, I’m changing. This time I promise I really am. I’ve found this new light in my life. And it reminds me of you. That’s why I can’t let it go. It brings back all those memories of the better days, just you and me and Chaplin movies.” He smiled and let out a light laugh at the memory and fought back the tears. “I just feel like I’m finding myself, you know? That bigger purpose. That reason to get up in the morning. Like finally, finally things are getting better. I feel happy again, ma. I’m smiling again. It’s crazy. Like I finally stopped believing the world was conspiring against me and I’m owning up to my own life.”
“I still need help, so keep watching out for me. I feel your presence every day. You raised me so much better than I turned out, but I’m working on “Hey ma, sorry it’s been it. I promise I’m working on it.” a few weeks. I’ve been a little He stroked a hand busy.” against the snowcrusted onyx He waited a few seconds, tombstone and lightly kissed it, as he always did. He didn’t imagining her response. realize he was crying until he saw a single drop of water
dissolving into the ice, a tiny He needed the closure crater of warmth overtaking in order to move on and live. the cold. The November chill was bitter, and his Oxford At every street corner though long s leeved could not on the walk to Denna’s, he withstand winter’s preview. considered turning around. Though the walk was leaving What was he doing? Even if he him breathless and gasping, saw Cherry, what would he do? Ask her out? Thank her? Say hi? the warmth and camaraderie of None of these seemed possible. Denna’s was near; it had always He finally considered how allured him, but he never had creepy the whole ordeal was; a reason to go. Now, he most he had been so fixated on and certainly did. Paul opened up the transcended by her notes that heavy wooden doors to a he hadn’t even considered the bouncer checking IDs. For a bar, logistics of it. Say they did begin it was generously decorated, dating, would he ever tell her of the notes, and if so, how could with plush loveseats, lowly he? How would he ever tell lamps and gothic chandeliers. her how he practically stalked He didn’t feel at place here, but her? Saved her notes, prized it was not the lavish decorating her thoughts over his bed like that threw him off; it was the bar a serial killer; the job he knew itself. Paul could not remember she had because he intrusively the last time he had stepped in called one of her clients; how a bar, and though he did not feel that fateful night they met, he it, Paul had to remind himself practically followed her to the he was still only twentysix bar because he knew she’d be years old; a bar shouldn’t be there after hacking into her that much out of the ordinary. He checked the face private messages... How could on the watch his mother had he ever bring it up? bought him for his twentieth But now it was too late birthday, a black Gshock. 8:02 to turn around. He was so close PM. He ran his hand through to seeing her. He didn’t want to his tousled hair and prayed he bother Cherry, and he definitely didn’t miss them. didn’t want to hurt her. He just wanted to put a face to his angel and, if he could muster up the courage, thank her for everything she had done for him.
“Table for two?” The hostess called out to a woman and man that had just walked into the bar.
“Oh, no, we’ll just sit at
the bar. We’re here on business,” real. She was human. she answered. Paul sat alone on “Yeah, business,” the the opposite side of the bar, man laughed. watching this man flirt with She cast a glare his way, Cherry. He observed him and then spoke to the hostess. slyly inching his drink closer to hers just so their fingers “Yes, business. Seriously, just business. We work for the city.” might touch; he watched as he laughed at all of her jokes, comments she herself hadn’t Cherry. It was her. even laughed at. Paul knew the “Come right this way,” tricks; he had once used them. the hostess said as she led them, He felt defensive, like he had with two menus in hand, to known this woman better than anyone had ever known anyone their bar stools. before and couldn’t stand this
She cast a glare his way, and then spoke to the hostess. “Yes, business. Seriously, just business. Her hair was a deep chestnut, cut in a long bob and frilled with waves. She wore a white tunic and a navy blazer, matched with navy slacks with a white stripe down the side. She wore a rosegold watch on one wrist and a stack of silver bangles on her other. Her face was slightly round, with prominent cheekbones; he imagined her laughing and her cheeks full. She wasn’t the classic beauty he had imagined: her hair was a bit frizzy and her nose a tad large, but he was not disappointed in the slightest. For Paul, Cherry turned out to be much more: she was
man invading her space. The man excused himself from the stool next to hers and walked to the restroom in a drunken stupor. She picked at the basket of French fries in front of her and glanced around the bar. This is your chance, Paul told himself. Just say anything. This was the only time he could acknowledge her. The bar the man had picked was the perfect setting, for bars are a place where strangers aren’t strange. He would never have a chance like this again, where the two of them could be perfect, comfortable strangers. He abandoned his
lonely stool at the far corner for you.” of the bar and walked up to In the glass was a martini Cherry. topped with a maraschino cherry. “Thank you.” Sarah gave him an inquisitive look, cocking her head to the side, not knowing of why she was so intrigued. Who is this ruggedly handsome man, she wondered, thanking her for something she hadn’t done? “You’re welcome.” She nodded and smiled genuinely. Paul smiled back at her if for a moment too long. He wanted to say more, but the words didn’t come out. He was a blank slate; the only thing he wanted to say, he said. He couldn’t find the adequate words to explain everything he felt, a true way to recollect all the good she had done for him without sounding sociopathic. Those simple notes had changed his life. All he could do was thank her. He shoved his hands his pockets, smiled at her one more time and turned. He walked to the backside of the bar, paid for her tab, then left the bar and retreated to the November cold that wasn’t nearly as bitter as it had felt before. Sarah watched him as he left, her thoughts lost in wonder. The bartender slid a drink her way. “He bought this
Bird in The Hand Drama
by Louis Gaudio
CAST OF CHARACTERS JACK A producer MAGGIE An actor SETTING A quiet bar. Evening. Two friends, Jack and Maggie, are having some drinks together.
Wanna get some nachos?
MAGGIE Oooooooohhhhhh nachos! No. I was doing a thing for a pet food commercial all day. I filled up on craft services. JACK Craft services at a pet food commercial? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. I didn’t know you were still auditioning. MAGGIE Jack, it wasn’t an audition. It was a job. (An awkward silence.)
Mary Magdalena 110
JACK What do you mean what? I didn’t say anything. MAGGIE Jack I’d like it if you gave me some respect and stop acting like this is a hobby. It’s my life. It’s my career. JACK Have you thought about Monica’s proposal? MAGGIE Yeah. And I thought I told you I’m not interested in being a producer. I need to stay focused. JACK Maggie, you’re doing pet food commercials. You’re thirtyfive. (MAGGIE punches JACK on the arm.)
JACK Maggie. Come on. At what point are you gonna stop chasing comets and just take the sure thing? What sure thing?
JACK Producing. There’s more security. You have more creative control. Monica really wants you on her team. MAGGIE It’s paying someone else to do the job I want to be doing. If I said I loved cooking, and I was pursuing a career as a chef, would you tell me I should be a restaurant manager? No, but for some reason we keep having this conversation, like you know what’s good for me. JACK Don’t you want to know what the project is?
JACK (CONT’D) Ok, you’re thirty, and several months. Who’s the client?
MAGGIE I know what it is. I don’t know why you guys won’t let me audition.
MAGGIE Reptco. It’s a national chain. This is a legitimately big opportunity for me, Jack.
JACK I told you. Monica’s looking for someone young for the part.
JACK Doesn’t Reptco sell snake food?
I can play young.
What do you mean? Mice. So?
MAGGIE Maggie... JACK MAGGIE
MAGGIE You used to be an actor. Just because you gave up and you’re acting like you found God, you think you know what’s best for me?
OTR 58 JACK I didn’t give up, Maggie. I moved up. There’s more money. There’s a lot more job security. MAGGIE Yeah, well this isn’t a bird-in-the hand industry, Jack. You wanna make it, you don’t play the safe bets. (A beat.)
MAGGIE (names can be ad-libbed) Ok. Oprah, Beyonce, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Scarlett Johansenn, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Jim Carey, Denzel Washington, uhh, David Hasselhoff. Kim Kardashian. Jessica, um, Sarah Jessica Parker? Robert Downey Jr!
MAGGIE You used to want the same thing I want, Jacky, and I remember a time when you said you’d go down any road to get it.
JACK Ok, now Maggie. There are almost seven billion people alive at this moment. Think about the fact that most of the people on your list are famous right now. You named about seven or eight easily before you started to slow down, but think about the fact that in just a few generations, that list is going to be drastically different. People will be saying "DeNiro who?", "Humphrey what-gart?" and "What the hell is a Kardashian?"
JACK & MAGGIE
JACK I guess you have a point. Being the spokesperson for a snake-feeding rat farm is definitely not a safe bet.
MAGGIE Come on, man. You and I both know when an actor "goes into production", it means they’re getting put out to pasture like an old racehorse. That’s ridiculous.
MAGGIE More like sent to the glue factory. JACK Have you ever done the math, Maggie? I mean really sat down and thought about it? Let me put it this way. How many super famous people can you name, off the top of your head? I don’t mean kinda famous. I mean worldwide celebrity status. Just start going.
What’s your point?
JACK That even super-celebs are a flash in the cosmic pan. And there have been about 107 billion people that ever lived. I looked it up, because I was curious. 107 billion human bodies on planet earth, and that includes everyone who’s currently alive, and everyone who has ever died. MAGGIE Yeah, I get it. You do all of this work in the stupid chance that maybe, MAYBE you’ll be talked about for a few generations of one single species’ existence before fading away into obscurity. JACK Why? Why put all this time and energy into-MAGGIE Because if I don’t make it, I won’t even get that. No one
will ever know my name or associate it with anything significant. JACK But you agree that it’s just delaying obscurity, right? Sure.
JACK Ok, now I have another question for you. Out of the 107 billion who have ever existed, how many are Cleopatra famous? Hmm? Or Benjamin Franklin? Or even Marie Antoinette? How many George Washingtons or Genghis Khans or King Henrys? MAGGIE Nine. There have been nine King Henrys. JACK Ok but I’m talking about the one that they wrote a song and a play about. Henry the 8th.
JACK He’s the one who sings the song, right? MAGGIE What’s the name of the song? JACK I don’t know the name of-How’s it go?
JACK (singing) I’m Henry the 8th, I am/ Henry the 8th I am I--oh. Yeah. It’s...
Henry the 8th.
JACK Whatever! The point is, it’s the kings and conquerors who stay famous the longest, not the players on the stage. It’s the people in charge of the money who make everything happen. MAGGIE And you think producers are the kings of Hollywood? JACK Maggie, I’m happy for you. I am. If you like being the Reptco spokesperson and it gets you a few national spots, that’s really great. But can we talk about the last commercial you did? MAGGIE Umm, do you mean Sweateritos? The sweater burrito craze that’s sweeping the nation? JACK It’s not sweeping the nation, Maggie. It confused people because they weren’t sure if it was an edible sweater or a wearable burrito. It was a terrible idea to begin with, but you jumped right on board that sinking ship. MAGGIE It was a simple concept! Thin sweaters you can layer for extra warmth, like tortillas. It would have caught on if Snuggie didn’t rip off the idea. JACK And what do you have to show for it? You get pocket change for royalties, and you were an internet meme for about four days. That’s something.
OTR 58 JACK What if we write you a featured part? You’re not gonna star, but we can write a character for you.
You can do that?
JACK Monica is the executive producer. We can do pretty much whatever we want. That’s the beauty of it, Maggie. I’ll think about it.
JACK Think about it. A featured role, and you don’t even have to audition. MAGGIE We’ll talk about it, Mr. Producer. Promise?
MAGGIE I promise. Hey, I’m kinda hungry all of a sudden. How about you go ahead and, uh, produce those nachos you were talking about? JACK Sure thing, buddy. Sure thing.
Star Stuff Sucks by Maha Paracha Prose Dear Freddie,
t’s been two hundred and eighth-seven days, ten minutes, and twentytwo, twenty-three, twentyfour seconds since I last saw you. Sometimes I sit in our house and wonder if things could have been different if you hadn’t left, but what’s the point in wondering what could have been, what could be, what never was. I’m not sure if you chose to leave or if you left because you could. There are a thousand things unsaid and I know at least three hundred and ninetytwo different things are from me. Sometimes I sit in our house and wonder if you ever miss it, us, this, you—me, us, them. But, I guess you left anyways. I guess I’m just not sure if it was worth the waiting, worth the wondering or worth the anything. It’s been two hundred and eight-seven days, two hours, six minutes and thirty-seven, thirtyeight, thirty-nine seconds. I keep writing and re-writing everything I want to say. I don’t want to say too much or too little, but I want to keep saying
things until I can get across what I never got to say without actually saying it aloud. I don’t even know if that makes sense, if you even understand what I’m trying to remind you of. But it’s been almost a year and every time I hear your voice I want to throw up. With My Love, R. ****** The one thing Riley hated doing was waking up. It didn’t matter the season, the year, the time, the date. After a while all of those things just bled into each other, shifting from the usual day to day moments and routines. Monotonies. Work. Freddie. School. Freddie. Work. Freddie. Home. Freddie. Six and a half hours, twenty minutes and eighteen seconds of Freddie a day—not that Riley was counting. But sometimes being with Freddie was just hard, that every hour was like sitting through an eight-hour shift and knowing that a minute is actually an hour. But being with Freddie is sometimes like
being high, high, high up above the clouds, in space, in air. Like stardust, with simple gusts of cosmic suction, it was gone. Freddie was the closest thing to stardust Riley had ever seen. Freddie always did her own thing. She lived her own life, and there was nothing wrong with that. But when Freddie was around, she lived everyone’s lives. The first days were hard, but eight months, two days, thirteen hours and six minutes of knowing Freddie, she just fell into uniformity. A uniformity she forced upon him. Riley didn’t pick Freddie. Freddie picked Riley and they just went with it. They hit it off well enough, at first, those first thirty-six days were perfect. Everything was perfect, well, as it can be with Freddie. At first it was about needing a home, about finding a place to stay when Riley didn’t have any where to go. Meeting Freddie was more of Sandra’s fault. Sandra who always got too involved with Riley’s life when he didn’t even ask for it. Sandra who wanted to be the best big sister in the world for Riley when they weren’t even related by blood. Sandra who cared too much. But, then again, maybe it was better since Freddie was probably the best thing to happen to Riley in so long. Mixed feelings.
But, waking up from daydreams was the hardest thing to do for Riley and that’s why Freddie worked well with Riley. Most mornings she came in without knocking, creating electric charges where they weren’t wanted, and like always Riley was up following the monotony. ****** Dear Freddie, It’s been a forty days, six hours, nineteen minutes and eight seconds, nine seconds, ten, since you’ve been gone. I keep trying to make up excuses. I keep telling my friends, your friends, our friends, that you’re still here. Like part of you never left, living through the records, the videos. Our trip to Orlando where you got sick and we got on a plane back home the next day. Ghosting through the walls of our house, our house, our god damn house is falling apart without you. It was always more your house. You actually lived here, and now you’re the ghost. I always hated irony—is that even irony? You were the one who would know. Just, just come home. I’ll do anything to have you home. With All My Love R. ******
OTR 58 Dear Freddie,
home, was finally full.
I’m tired of lying. Of ****** pretending you’re here. Dear Freddie, Day fifty-five, two LIFE DOESN’T WORK minutes, and nine, ten………. IN SIMPLICTY. The simplest twenty seconds. things are the most complex
and the more complex the R. problem the easier it is to find an equation to solve the ****** problem. Simple things are Freddie never really always told to be solved with knew how to start conversations, our heads, and yet the harder but she always made a great gate things are mapped out, snapped crasher. But, the only person through logarithms and space who ever noticed when she time continuum dynamics. gatecrashed was Riley because You always HATED math and I she so flawlessly wove herself always thought that I’D HATE into conversation that everyone YOU. I guess I wasn’t wrong. A assumed she started the hundred and fifty-eight days, conversation. Riley was never nine minutes flat. good with words the same way You left me for a hell hole you as she was, but he never let that fucking outrageous bitch discourage him. She had ways to make him feel powerful, R. happy, beautiful, amazing, and only three-hundred and ****** twenty-one months and sixteen seconds, he knew that they Riley hated the word bitch would be together forever. She because it was so demeaning, completed him in ways that he degrading, but Freddie used it never thought he’d be able to every other sentence. Casual finish. In ways where no one speak. Bitching was probably could tell where his sentences her catchphrase and after living exactly a year and two minutes started, where hers ended. They were almost like with a person you pick up their one mind, one being, one person. habits. You learn to love their Connected, interconnected and flaws. You learn to pick up just simply complete. Perfect. things they leave behind that The so rare moment where shouldn’t be forgot, and only Freddie was perfect and Riley brought up in times of great wasn’t so alone. Home. Their needs.
Three hundred and thirty-four days, eight hours and nine minutes, Freddie started showing her true colors but Riley wouldn’t leave her. She was family now, even when she got a little too drunk, and what she called finally courageous enough to be honest, and punched him over and over until they were kissing at midnight through the blood gushing from the scratch under his left eye. New Years. It was always New Years. They met on New Years and it was all Sandra’s fault and Sandra got to be happy. Freddie always woke up the next morning, a little too hung over, saw cuts and bruises she left and apologized until Riley couldn’t tell where the fake tears ended and the real ones began. Headaches always made Freddie cry because she never learned to handle pain, only to inflict it. Co-dependency becomes imminent when you’re with Freddie, because her life is your life and your life is her life. There is not in-between, and/ or/buts or differences. Riley got used to the pain. ****** Dear Freddie, If you come back, just for one day, one hour, one minute, I promise I’ll never tell you to leave again. I shouldn’t have
stopped you. I shouldn’t have. If you weren’t throwing punches at me I knew you’d through them at yourself and it’s been two hundred and fifty days, three minutes, and fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty. I don’t want to spend another day without you. Come back. Come back. COME BACK YOU STUPID. ****** Freddie, I spent three hundred ninetysix days, twenty-two hours, six minutes, and nineteen seconds thinking about all the things I’ve done wrong. I’ve thought about the Year, eight months, four days, eighteen minutes knowing you and about the almost fucking year and some months you’ve been gone. I’m never going to be over it. I’m never going to be over walking into our house, our house, my house and seeing you lie in a pool of your own blood. I shouldn’t have taken those punches for you, I shouldn’t have taken those words, the bitches and the hatred. I shouldn’t have listened to Sandra. But you’re gone now and I’m not sure if it was your fault, if you chose to leave me, if you had to leave me, if you just decided to leave without even thinking about me. But I’ve reached a conclusion not to care anymore. You don’t control
OTR 58 me anymore. You don’t own my life. Take your stardust and spill it over the clouds. Expand yourself across the world and become what you wanted to be. Everyone. Everything. Bigger than what everyone else could possibly be. Because you reached that dream with me and I refuse to let you run the show when you’re not even here. Freddie, I fucking hate you in ways I’ll never describe. For the things you’ve done to me and covered with kisses. Like a shock collar, pain and reward. Pain and reward. Take the pain and get a quick fuck. I wanted more than the reward. I wanted my house to feel like a home. But you made it feel like it was only yours. Our house, our house, your house, my house. I got tired making up excuses for you, even when you were gone I made up excuses for you. No, she didn’t leave me for some other guy-girl, whatever she chose to be into that day. No, she didn’t leave me to go to another state and live out her dreams of living on the road. No, she didn’t die. But she did. And I kept her alive in me so long. So dear Freddie, get the fuck out of my life. It’s been three hundred ninety-seven days, two minutes and four,
five, six seconds. I don’t have to wake up on your schedule anymore. I don’t have to wake up to cold feet pressed against cuts from last night’s drunken stupor. I’m not glad that you died, but I’m glad that you’re gone. Riley.
The Ghost of Him by Cristina Cappiello
we’re locked in our thoughts, observing everyone else as they “They had to revive glide through the motions. him,” she casually mentioned She doesn’t seem to know, over beers in the dimly lit bar. I thought. She doesn’t know My heart fell into my about us. stomach, a single thump that She turned the now awakened and numbed my drunken limbs. I couldn’t have emptied glass bottle over on the table, three drops of sickly foam heard her right. sticking to the oak finish. “I’m “What? They…what?” going to the bar, do you want “Yeah. He died, and another Bud?” they had to bring him back “No. I’m alright.” I to life.” wasn’t thirsty. I wasn’t “You’re kidding.”
feeling much of anything.
I’m sure that’s how he “Wish I was. Jack heard it over the receiver.” Her felt, too. Things may have boyfriend was a cop. “Do you know…what it turned out differently if I was older. Smarter. Maybe better. was?” I was fifteen when I met him, “Probably some pills. and he was already established; Maybe something worse… I eighteen, his sights set on the don’t know. And now here he world, always one step ahead; is, at the bar, flirting with the we never seemed to match up. silent slut. Fucking loser,” she As I grew up, he grew old. I got snickered as she raised her to college and he was already bottle to her mouth. I watched in the real world. When I got to her chug the rest of the warm, the real world, he was far gone. settled beer in her mouth But here we were now, both older, and yet still unmatched, until there was nothing left. both lost in our own lives on She was so carefree. We don’t our own paths, doing donuts realize how free we are until on separate freeways, spinning
OTR 58 out of control. No matter how fucked up we both were, we couldn’t be fucked up together. And then I saw him in a bar three days after he died. I was beginning to gather my things when I caught a last glimpse of him at the door, walking out with her on his arm. He held the door for her while he stared at me. Then, together, they exited to the street, barreled into a cab and left for nowhere. “I’ll be back, I think,” I said to Jess. “It’s just stuffy in here and I feel like I’m going to pass out.” “Do you want me to come?” “No thanks, Jess. I’ll meet up with you and Jack in a bit. We’ll take shots of something,” I promised. I had just turned twenty-one two days prior. He texted me happy birthday. And all in this time, he was dead, gone; the living ghost of himself. Now he was on his second life and I was still trudging through my first. How could I catch up with that? I walked out the large red door of the bar and looked down the barren street; their cab was nowhere in sight. I looked down at my trembling hands; their scars seemed to burn, heat emanating from their crosses and hearts and
crescent moons. When I felt secure enough, blanketed in the bitter November chill, I cried and cried and wasn’t sure if I would ever stop. I had met him when I was crying. One October morning my freshman year, I was in the nurse’s office taking my daily meds. I juggled the eight pills in my hand, crying at the thought; much of my time was spent unreasonably crying. I was never any good at taking my medicine. I didn’t need it, I’d tell myself, the doctors are just wrong. I’m fine. In worse times, the traumatic vain of my adolescence, I would be held down to the couch by my dad while my mom shoved pills down my throat; I had a nickelsized bruise on my arm, the unmistakable shape of a thumb, for two weeks. Drugs and I, we never linked up. He strode in the nurse’s office and handed her a blue note with the carefree demeanor of an eighteen-yearold with nothing to lose. I quickly swiped away the tears on my face. The first things I noticed were his hands: he had sculpted blue veins, pulsing out of prominent knuckles that seamlessly connected to long fingers with poorly trimmed nails; a man’s hands. His calves too were contoured, cut off by
mid-calf socks and some kind of Nike shoe. His hair was unkempt and dark under a baseball cap. Tasteful stubble decorated his jaw, and his skin was an effortless olive. He wore cargo shorts and his football jersey, number fourteen. Quarterback, of course. Weren’t they always the quarterback?
acknowledging that we were the only two people in the room besides the nurse and a boy huddled over on a chair in the corner. “I just have to take my medicine. But I’m not too good at pills.” He looked at me considerately, wanting to know the reason for the pills; I diverted the conversation. “Morning, Miss Kelly,” “What are you in for?” he said to the nurse. “Wanted to take a nap.” “Morning, hun! Feeling “So you just—” tired this morning?” He pulled a blue book “Yes, Miss Kelly. Long out of his pocket. “My teacher night,” he winked at her, gives me these once a month. I flashing a smile. He seemed the use them wisely. Perks of being type of guy who was beloved by a senior.” He looked down at my all the staff, the homecoming hand, then back at me. “So what king of a small, close-knit town. are the pills for?” “Oh dear, what else “Nothing, just… I need would we expect from them. But I can’t take them.” you?” She giggled and I felt another tear falling, the pointed to the involuntary tears that came chair directly next to with the medicine, and swiped mine. “You can have a seat it before he could tell. in your chair.” “Why not? Pills are He strode over and easy.” plopped carelessly on his seat, “They make me sick. coolly settling himself in the And I can’t swallow them.” corner. He leaned back, his solid arms pulled behind his head, “I know what could and crossed his long legs. Not a help.” He looked at me and I care in the world. I felt myself swore he’d kiss me. He’d walk staring and looked down at my over, sit next to me and he’d pills. kiss me and I’d loosen up and “So what are you in everything would be okay and for?” He was staring back I’d never have to stress over taking a pill again because at me. I’d think of this kiss from a “Uh, me?” He nodded, gorgeous older guy who plays
OTR 58 football and buys cigarettes and every pill would glide down my throat, a slippery slope. Instead, he got up and walked to the mini-freezer, pulling out a tiny carton of Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked, then a spoon out of his back pocket. “Always prepared for when duty calls,” he smiled. “Sweetie, you can’t take that. That’s for the boy who’s low in sugar,” Nurse Kelly called out. “Too late, Miss Kelly.” “It’s alright Nurse Kelly,” came a muffled voice from the corner—Brian from Geometry. “I’ll just pass out for the common cause.” “Chivalry is alive, and uh, well.” He nodded approvingly at the boy and walked back towards me. He sat next to me on my couch, opened the lid and took a spoonful out of Brian’s carton. Then he took a pill out of my hand, placed it in the middle of the orb of ice cream, and looked up. “They’re like little tic tacs. Just hide them in the ice cream, swallow and you won’t even realize you took a pill. It really is easy. Here, I’ll feed it to you—” “Oh, no no,” I looked up at him, laughing. “I can do it
myself.” He lifted his lands in playful surrender. “Hey. At least I offered.” He had my attention. For the first time, with our heads only inches apart, I could really see him, the details of his face; his eyes were a brilliant green, specks of hazel in the corners. I trusted him and those eyes automatically. Without thinking, with my free hand I took the pint and the spoon out of his. One by one, a tiny ball of ice cream and a pill pinched in its core, I took my pills, every last one. He cheered me on with each one, high fives and smiles and words of encouragement. “You see? Was that so hard?”
I smirked at him. “Yes.”
We sat wordlessly for some time. He kept looking at me, and I found it nearly impossible to keep his eye contact, his gaze unfaltered and piercing, yet generous and soothing. He broke the silence. “Well. Nap times over. Gotta get to class. I’ll see you around.” He headed to the nurse’s desk, swiped a lollipop from the tiny bowl on the corner and unwrapped it. He placed it in his mouth, headed for the door, and then at the last second he turned around, facing me. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“Cara,” I uttered.
night after the nurse’s office, I
“James. I’ll see you around, saw him at a house party, and then the next weekend I Cara.” saw him at another, and then He placed the lollipop another until he was the one back in his mouth, smiling at inviting me. We were partners me with full, cherry-stained in beer pong; he coached me lips. Then he saluted to Miss through my first keg stand; Kelly and exited back into the clearly, a modern-day romance shallow high school halls. of the Gods was in effect. I watched him leave, But there was something and then turned to the sorry, beneath the layers of beer silent boy in the corner. “Sorry and house party; more than Brian,” I said. “I’ll buy you that, we were really getting to another pint.” know each other. He played “Don’t worry about it football, rugby, and baseball, Cara. I hope you feel better,” but he really loved playing the Brian answered in his scratchy, saxophone. He’d never killed breathless tone. a ladybug. He taught me big “I’m feeling better words like verisimilitude and exonerate. He was taking Latin. already.” Vox nihil, he’d once told My hands now emptied me in between Jaeger shots. The of their burdens, the pills safely voice of nothing. tucked in my throat, I thanked I didn’t understand it, Miss Kelly and headed back to drunk off my own methods, but class. I couldn’t remember why somehow it had always haunted I had been so afraid of the pills; me. it seemed so easy now. Nevertheless, being his friend was changing me, what Everything was easier I swore was for the better— then, I told myself as I battered something I’ll still attest to. I was through the cold depths of late made better by knowing him. autumn, the sullen roads of My fifteen years became just a midnight. I had never walked number. I felt myself maturing these streets alone; James was by the minute: I’d taken an usually with me, holding my interest in liquor, politics, hand through main roads and and conspiracy theories. He’d trying to feel me up on the side grown into me too, and learned streets. to love Grease and apple cider In those months, time and Elvis Presley. It all became seemed to fly by. The Friday our thing; we had an our thing.
OTR 58 Slowly and surely, after a year of this, we turned into something more, something else. I never talked on the phone, but with him, conversations piled on and sleep became an option; I’d rather talk theories of the stars into the sunrise than dream of it. And then he went off to college, nothing more than a hug and I’ll see you soon. And then I saw him soon—an eighteen rack and another house party—and it was enough to spark everything I’d ever dreamed. And most miraculously, I began to forget about my own problems. He made my bipolar disorder seem like a distant past, another person. I couldn’t remember why I had ever been so sad and angry; my only manics were now highs. I trimmed down my meds. I stopped pinching myself; digging my nails three-layers deep into bleeding, fleshy shapes finally lost its appeal. We were spending a lot of time together and kept our closeness under wraps: I wasn’t one to spread my personal life and neither was he. So we grew closer, months and months more of menial activities, and as I realized how much I truly trusted him, we began to get carried away. I’d stumble in at home at 4 AM: I just lost track of time; I fell asleep at Jackie’s house; hehe, my bad? And of course, of course, with all these
late nights and booze cruises and John Travolta marathons, the rest is almost comically predictable. We lost track of time… Right after our first time, my first time, he held me closely to his naked chest—I can still recall the rhythm of his ecstatic heart—and soothed me to sleep. “If only you were older,” he whispered as he stroked my hair. “If only you were older.” The night was frigid, but I was almost at my destination. Goosebumps covered my arms, lifeless limbs veiled only by the slim threads of my sweater. The autumn foliage that littered the ground had become brittle, lined by a thin layer of frost so that it cracked under my combat boots as I trolled the streets. I marched on the leaves just to feel them crunch—stomp, stomp, stomp—and then felt a pellet lodged into the crack of my sole. I fumbled to the ground and sat next to the curb, unaffected by the damp grass seeping through my jeans, and pulled my boot close to my face to unlodge the pebble. But to my surprise, what I thought was a pebble was actually a pill. A tiny white pill, fat and circular, with a perfect line in its center and the inscription V-5. And quickly, I felt a source of rage stemming up from under me like the rising
heat of a city subway vent. This is your fault. This is all your fault. You never should’ve given him that Vicodin. The summer of my senior year, he’d been badly tackled in a pickup football game, plummeted by a two hundred pound linebacker in a blind hit. He wasn’t seriously injured, requiring an emergency room visit or anything, but his back pain was immense. Attempting to relieve some pain, I massaged his shoulders, lightly grazing his back with my practiced hands, but it was making it worse. He would wince at my touch, and the scars on my hands would feel his pain. Seeing him reeling in pain, curdled over in agony broke my fucking heart. He was in pain and I realized that I had a remedy, an emergency Vicodin shoved in the bottom confines of my key wallet. But let me be fair: at this point, he had already dabbled in his share of drugs. Acid trips and cocaine were all the rage in his upstate school; drugs he loved and drugs he did. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that his addiction may have stemmed in that one emergency pill, the one I had handed over to his pleading fingers. He took the pill with a swipe of Jack. He calmed
immediately, and twenty minutes after taking it, he was sound asleep. In the middle of the night, I lay sleepless, staring out his window into the darkness, the moon round and yellow, and I routinely checked his pulse, out of habit and fear. His sly, sleeping smile was illuminated in the moonlight, and the light cast shadows on the contours of his face. I lightly ran a hand through his tousled hair. He’s a painting, I thought. He’s an absolute masterpiece. He groggily turned over, lifting a drunken hand to move the hair from my face, and told me about his hazy dream. He dreamt of flowers, an endless field of red poppies that we lay in together, as peaceful and happy as ever. He told me he felt like Dorothy, and I smiled because I loved The Wizard of Oz and James in a plaid dress was the greatest sight I could ever imagine. I was so blinded by his serenity that I forgot they’d fallen asleep in a field of poppies not because they were happy, but because they were breathing in opium. Soon after this, a week or two later, he went back to college; our second summer in the sun was over. Things were changing; we were losing touch and losing it quickly. I just didn’t know how quickly it would all end. I couldn’t even say that
OTR 58 we ended. I can only recollect the ending in oblivious memories: the last time I sung to him, on a careless drive down the freeway with the Nirvana CD on repeat; the last sleepover, where I was the big spoon; the last time we walked on the pier, dusk faded to pure night, where we looked out into the harbor, stars reflecting off the stillness. There was no grand exit, no last word, no final glance. It was slow and gradual; it just faded and faded until there was nothing there, a photograph left to dry in the sun. I never called him my boyfriend and he never called me his girlfriend. Truth be told, I never really talked about him. I was good at secrets and I liked keeping him to myself. And my friends, only a few really knew how serious we had become. I never told him I loved him; I wasn’t sure if I did. But if I had ever loved anyone it was him. He was the one I thought about before I fell asleep. Whenever I heard of or saw something funny, it was he whom I couldn’t wait to tell. Certain songs found a home in his memory. Everything reminded me of him and he was that guy for me. No matter what I was to him, I cared about him endlessly. It’s so easy to crush something already weak, I thought as I grabbed and
silenced a leaf between my fingers. My head was pillowed by fall’s brush and I lay on the cold, unforgiving ground, motionless. I was wasting time, too numb to go on: the cold, the drinks, and all of the thoughts had exhausted me. But now, I felt a crippling need to get there, and to get there quick. I was so damn close; I must’ve walked two miles at this point. To give up now would be a shame. Forcing myself to stand upright, I watched the world turn upside down, trees shaking and grass floating in the sky. I was still drunk. What a bad time to be drunk and angry and so fucking vulnerable. Go through the directions, I instructed myself. Remember where you are and where you’re going. Make this right turn, he’d said to me the first time we drove to his house. I stared at the street sign and started walking. Why did he of all people have to become so deeply involved in drugs? He was better than the rest, he really was. He was special. He had so much to offer. But it’s true, what they say: addiction can happen to anyone. It’s not his fault he got addicted. It’s the fault of the dealers, the inattentive parents, the peer influence. Then again, of course
it was his fault. I’ve always hated people who blame the world for their problems. You weren’t caught stealing because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time; you were caught because you were doing the wrong thing. You didn’t lose your wallet because the world’s out to get you; you lost your wallet because you lost your fucking wallet. You’re addicted to drugs because you got yourself hooked on drugs. Carelessness is not rocket science. This is why I’d make a terrible politician, or in America’s case, a fairly good one: I can never make up my mind. Because drugs, drugs I always felt were much more complicated, because in the end, no one wins. Everyone loses, a disastrous equation. With this, I just couldn’t accept him being entirely at fault for his demons as a final answer, as his final answer. He alone held the full burden of his addiction and I knew he was drowning in it, so I wanted to absorb all the blame, and too, wanted to soak up all his problems; to take ownership of his demons and make them my own. Those were the sacrifices I was willing to make: I had no pride, no dignity left to lose. His problems were now mine. I made it my mission to fix him. Isn’t this street so
pretty in the fall? he’d said from the passenger seat, lacing his fingers in mine. After we were over, although I was done, I still tried to reach out. I tried, and tried diligently. But all of these were failed attempts, missiles shot in the dark. I could never reach further than the text message, the glance; the step further was something I couldn’t do. It never seemed enough; I never seemed prominent enough. I was just this screaming silent voice that he would never listen to. Vox nihil. The voice of nothing. And nevertheless I found myself at his door. Here we are. I walked in as he was fiddling with the needle. The scars on my hands burned. And then everything went black. Some time later, I found myself on his bed, cushioned in his familiar navy blue comforter, my head cupped in my trembling hands. I reached a hot hand to my head, the shape of a dagger glowing in heat on my forearm, and expected to pull away blood, but my face was wet with only tears. My head was throbbing, my temples raptured by the beat of a million snare drums. I looked up and saw him. He sat numb in his seat, the rocking chair, staring at me. I surveyed the room: a broken vase; a needle pushed to the far corner; my handprint
OTR 58 reddened on his cheek; a wilted sunflower. The both of us were gasping for air. I had blacked out. We stared at each other, not knowing what next. We hadn’t yet said anything and we were already out of words. He got up and sat next to me on the bed, a safe distance. We hadn’t had a conversation in over two years. Then, suddenly, in the middle of the silence, so tense you could cut it with a knife, I remembered everything I’d ever wanted to say. I broke the suffocating silence with a memory. “Do you remember what you told me when we met?” “Kind of.”
“I love you.” I felt him tense up, his shoulders align and I watched his stare fixate on me. I continued. “But not, like, romantically. It might have been sometime before but it’s not now. Promise. I’ve grown far out of wishing that.” I took a breath. “You’re always just there. You’re like a limb I can’t detach myself from. But I don’t mind having you there.” “So you don’t love me like that?” “I can’t love you like that.” “What if I were to tell you I loved you like that?” “I wouldn’t believe you. Because it wouldn’t be true. But I love you and that’s enough for me. I care too much to not say or do anything. I love you too much to sit by, twiddling my fucking thumbs while you kill yourself.”
“You told me that pills were easy to take, they were just little tic tacs. Candies. But they’re not.” I grabbed his hand, the one I’d grown to know so well; I knew its knuckles and its palms, where the creases lay and the branches of veins that pumped his nectar blood. I’d “It’s too late, Car. You’re know those hands anywhere. too late.” Stroking his palms, I “It’s not too late, don’t continued. “They’re not little you get that? You survived candies. They’re tiny orbs of for a reason, right? You’re poison. Little bullets, and slowly still fucking breathing. but surely they’ll kill you. You’re still alive. That They’ll ruin you. Any and every sounds like fine timing to drug is like that.” me.” He said nothing. Could I blame him? What was there to And just like that, he say? melted into my arms. He was
silent for a moment, but then the sobs came and he was choking and they were loud and heartbreaking. He had been wandering, idle; a child lost in his own demons. I stroked his hair like he had mine after our first time and just held him. At this point, it was all I could do.
JAMES When I saw her in that bar, I knew I would be okay. The days had trudged since I’d been brought back. It took all I had to not run up to her, to apologize for everything. But I had a girl on my arm and a comfort beer in my hand. And I hated all of it. I had always been accustomed to the drugs. They were the way I felt anything; as I was numb to everything else, I too became numb to my senses. It was taking one drug and graduating to the next when it lost its power, and I kept graduating until I ran out of new ones. And I was addicted. It’s not an excuse, it’s not—it’s just the dark path I took. I knew it hurt Cara to see me that night. I wasn’t sure if she knew what had happened to me. I went home alone that night; dropped the other girl off at her place and told her I couldn’t see her anymore. I’m sorry, I told her. I’m just fucked up and you deserve better.
She agreed, smacking me and slamming the door in my face. I was alone then. Alone as I had ever wished to be. I paid the cab driver in singles and gave him a sixty percent tip, feeling generous for maybe the last time. I sulked into my house, leaving the door unlocked behind me, my thoughts racing and pulse slowing. The needles were still at my disposal; even after the overdose, no one thought to eradicate my resources. I opened my nightstand’s drawer, grabbed one, and retreated back to my rocking chair. I fucking loved that chair. And as I numbly sat, eyes raw from silently crying, I held the needle, looking into it, wondering how much more would be my fatal dose: would it be one drop more, two? But I didn’t even have the drug on me. Heroin was so easy to get and yet so hard to maintain. I loved the drug as much as I hated it. And besides, I didn’t even have the energy to test my hypothesis. I was just looking into it, treating the syringe as the crystal ball of my past. And as I came to terms with my past, Cara stormed in and we made eye contact, piercing and longing, seconds that dragged for hours. In it the world stopped, and then it flipped. I watched her curl her hands—those beautifully broken hands—and she lunged
OTR 58 at me in seemingly slow motion. Taking the needle out of my hand, she tossed it across the room and then swung a hand and knocked over the vase of the single flower my sister had picked for me, glass shards exploding into crystals on the hardwood, a beautiful mess. Her pain from my pain was obvious, blatant, written in scars all over her face, her body. There was an edge in her voice as she screamed, a fire in her eyes; everything in her seemed to rage at the sight of my misery, at my stupidity. She backhanded me, a bitter hand across my tender cheek, and then sat on the edge of my bed and cried, her face drenched in sudden and copious tears. My heart—the same heart that had stopped only a week prior—wrenched at the sight. We didn’t talk about our falling out. Why I had left, why she had always stayed. She just held me and let me cry. Because let’s face it—I couldn’t be strong anymore. Hell, I wasn’t strong at all. But there was so much to cry about, and for the first time I allowed myself to let it go. It amazed me that someone was letting me cry without any judgments or reserves or boundaries. Be a man, the rest of them would say. Own up to your problems. Go to rehab. Be a man. But she was letting me
do something more: she was letting me be human. I don’t believe in fate, really. I believe that everything we do is a choice, and our choices have consequences that we must deal with in order to move on to our next choice. But somehow that night she knew to show up, to be there even after years of nothing. She showed up to the same bar I was at, and then, a force in the dark, showed up to my house— through the side door only we used—and with no words she spoke to me all I needed to know. She made a fateful choice, and subsequently she saved my life. With a single look, a drawn face, she showed me a future in this broken present. Somehow she made things better, sharing my pain so I wouldn’t have to carry the burden alone. She was so important. Before, no one else seemed to care. I felt alone, the sole victim of my vices. But somehow she was there. She was always there.
Digital Photography 137
Contributors Paul David Adkins lives in New York and works as a counselor.
Qurrat-ul Ain’s work focuses on the life of an immigrant
girl who grew up in Pakistan and as a child traveled across many countries. She portrays the aspects of her life, and her relationships with the people she has known, through self-reflectively written poetry, which demonstrate the strength it takes to be an immigrant child growing up with not one, but three different cultures she had to get accustomed to. In the poem Forced Traveler, the girl speaks about the journey through her motherland and three different countries and how her sorrow is shaped by the languages she had to learn. The poem is about acceptance and learning to deal with mental illness.
Cristina Cappiello loves long sits on the beach and drinking
Jacob Cintron enjoys a making all sorts of media, and learning
how to use new programs and equipment. He also thoroughly loves photography in particularl analog, but that’s not to say digital isn’t special as well. All of the future projects and ideas he has in mind each require a ton of space and careful, individually given attention. Jacob also enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. reach Jacob at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Almog Cohen-Kashi is a Junior at Sarah Lawrence Academy
in Bronxville, New York. She left her tiny town in Long Island come closer to pursuing her ambitions in the big city. She like art, writing, a combination of both in her zines, of which can be found on her tumblr at allmug.tumblr.com.
sangria out of the pitcher. She accepts Tina Fey as her lord and savior and knows all the dances to High School Musical. Cristina hopes to one day be President (of the PTA) and a writer (of real books). And she's so excited to be published! Thank you, Olivetree!
Conrado Falco is a media and theatre major. He is currently
David Carmona is a writer and visual artist who is constantly
Alyson Fusaro is an English major concentrating in creative
developing his craft in the hopes that he can one day produce art that legitimately affects those who experience it. He wants to create novel experiences that garner respect and admiration based on the merits of the art, instead of the artist. He believes that there are many underexplored avenues for artistic expression, and wants to fulfill a yearning for emotional and intellectual exploration that most people didn't even know they were missing out on. It is this desire that drives his creativity.
Fariha Chowdhury is currently a senior at Hunter College, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Media Studies. She is an aspiring poet residing in Brooklyn. Through her poetry, she explores her identity as an immigrant. Besides dabbling with words, she also enjoys binge watching shows on Netflix, sketching and painting.
working on an original play titled "You Belong with Me: The Life and Death of Taylor Swift", which will have its Hunter premiere on May 5th, 2016.
writing. She first discovered her passion for writing in high school, and from there, wanted to pursue an education in English.
Jessica Gallerie is an English Lit major who writes about
the swamp between long essays of literary criticism. She draws inspiration from her absurd part-time jobs and seeing an alligator eat a marshmallow once.
Louis Gaudio is a graduating senior at Hunter College working
toward degrees in Film and English. He is the first recipient of the Archer Craig Mathias Award for Screenwriting, and will soon be pursuing a career in freelance writing.
Kristie Kish is a graduating Studio Arts student concentrating in graphic arts. She produces graphic work through the computer but her heart resides in the printmaking studio. She travels avidly and works in the East Village. Contact: KristieNKish@gmail.com
wants her writing to move and empower people and is working really hard to make that happen. From the bottom of her heart, she wants to thank Ms. Rizzuto, her high school creative writing teacher who inspired her to walk the path of an artist, Ms. Murray, her professor for English 120 & 220 who helped strengthen her writing skills and encouraged her to pursue a major in Creative Writing, Prof. James Paul, her professor for Intro to Creative Writing, and Prof. Davida Singer, her professor for Poetry I, where “All-kinds of Skin” was written. She also wants to thank everyone who inspired her writing. When Victoria is not writing she is dancing crazily in parties, or can be found playing soccer in the Hunter West basement, screaming and crashing into everyone. Lastly, Victoria is a very passionate feminist which is evident in many of her writings.
Evan Leone is a part time writer and a full time punk rock raccoon.
He'll talk for a hours about anything at all and is regularly struck with candy-coated wistful thoughts which he refines into songs and writing at his own lackadaisical leisure.
Juliette Maigné is an 18-year-old emerging writer, born and
raised in the South of France. A current NYU sophomore, she is majoring in Social and Cultural Analysis with a concentration in Latino/a Studies and a minor in Creative Writing. She is also an assistant poetry editor for West 10th, the NYU Undergraduate Creative Writing Journal. This is her first publication.
is a Brazilian-born, Brooklyn-based portrait photographer working at the intersection of documentary and fiction. In her work, she longs to capture an impression of what connects us to each other as well as a glimpse of herself. She is fascinated by the human condition and strives to pursue what Toni Morrison calls the 'human project—-which is to remain human and to block the dehumanization of others.'
Alexandra Pajak has been published in North American Review,
Grab-A-Nickel, Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul-Daily Inspirations and the Agnes Scott College Writers Festival Magazine. She lives with her husband in Atlanta, GA where she works as a mental health counselor in the correctional system.
Maha Paracha is a writer, decided not to double major in history, and
is just happy to be here. Usually. After all this time, her and Rachel are still doing well. Her soul is still seeped into the walls of The Olivetree Review (which is why they’re that weird blue-white color).
(1995, Pasadena, United States) is a cartoonist who studies at Hunter College City University of New York. She makes graphic comics and media art while working undercover to exploit the monsters living under her bed. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. https://ello.co/shelbypeakers // http://shelbypeake.tumblr.com/
is a sophomore and Thomas Hunter Honors student at Hunter College. A lover of language, she is committed to developing an understanding of how identity is constructed through linguistic interaction, and strives to explore this in her writing, both creatively and academically. She plans to pursue an English major with a concentration in Linguistics and Rhetoric.
Julian Rosen is a jack of all trades. People seem to gravitate towards calling him "Good Guy Rosen". He would like a cat. Julian has been in multiple art shows on Staten Island, and plays in a really sick band named Davey Crockett. He often posts sketches on his Instagram and is very nice and always open for commissions so feel free to contact him through Instagram: julianshmozen, or his email, email@example.com. One love and young Jeezy. Rachel Sather is a theatre major in her senior year. She has appeared
in many productions at Hunter, most recently "A Doll's House" this past spring. She has written for several magazines, including Rue Morgue and Blood and Thunder, and enjoys writing poetry in her spare time. Rachel is obsessed with comedy, and will begin an editorial internship with Funny or Die next spring.
is 20 years old, and has been an Amateur Photographer for about 4 years now. She takes mostly landscape pictures, which includes photos of nature, animals, or anything that catches her eye. It's been a great outlet for her self expression, and Stephanie intends to improve her skills and remain active in it for as long as she can.
Aaron Sommers is a writer living in NH. His fiction is featured in The
Emerson Review and Amoskeag, among others. His story, "The Early Departure of Cameron Bailey" won the 2015 Sudden Fiction Contest in the Berkeley Fiction Review and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His play, 'The Death of a Dragon Slayer" premiered in 2014 at The Players' Ring Theatre, and he's a contributor to the Ploughshares Blog. You can find out more about him over at www.aaronsommers.com, or "follow" him via Twitter @aaronsommers.
Kaitlyn Wong is currently a Junior and for the life of her still can't get
her thoughts to be fully formed and coherent so sometimes what she says comes out sounding random and unrelated to the other. She also has a blog on Tumblr called Brain Tickles, which sadly she doesn't post her own stories as often as she'd like.
CON TACT U S theolivetreereview.com Thomas Hunter Room 212 firstname.lastname@example.org GET I N VOLV ED All students are encouraged to become editors, graphic designers, publicity associates, production assistants, or senior staff members. We are always looking for new members and staff. Attend our many events, such as open houses, writing sessions, art trips, open mics, and lunch parties. Or you can simply come by our office. Visit our website or find us on Facebook. S U BM I T Passionate about writing or art? Submit your visual art, fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, drama, or cross-genre pieces every semester. See our website for details on how to submit all work online. EDI T The OTR welcomes Hunter students of all experience levels to become editors for prose, poetry, drama, or art. Editors together decide which pieces are accepted into the issue every semester. For more information, please visit our website or contact us.
THE OLIVETREE REVIEW
Issue 58 Fall 2015
The Olivetree Review Literary & Arts Magazine of Hunter College
Produced in Fall 2015