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Track List 1. The (residual) Beatles—A Court Case Soren James

2. Gold Star for Robot Boy Christopher Iacono

3. Dear Queenie Ashley Hutson

4. They Don’t Wave Jennifer Todhunter

5. A Longing In December Georgene Smith Goodin

6. Calm Like a Bomb Robb Dunn

7. Zombie A. Lawrence Bradshaw

8. Paranoid Android Paul A. Hamilton

9. Concrete C.C. Russell

10. Everything Must Go Anton Rose


The (residual) Beatles—A Court Case Soren James The cross-examining lawyer approached the witness to begin, “Alanis Morissette, as an expert on the subject could you explain to the court what irony is?” Enthusiastically she answered, “It’s like a spanner, when all you need is a baseball. Or it‘s like rain when you’re pregnant with twins.” “Of course,” said the lawyer encouragingly, “so you wouldn’t say it’s like 10,000 bad examples of irony when all you really want is a simile for life not conforming to expectations?” “No. It’s more like a cat with three heads.” She stated, and gave a wide, innocent smile. The lawyer looked at Alanis, unsure what to make of her last example. Still frowning to himself, he looked at the judge to state, “No further questions, your honour.” Then turning to the court he continued, “And so the jury will plainly see that it wasn’t ironic when The (residual) Beatles recorded ‘Free as a Bird’, in the process imprisoning a personal demo of John Lennon’s beneath their overdubs to cash in on The Beatles’ brand.”


Gold Star for Robot Boy Christopher Iacono


Dear Queenie Ashley Hutson 50-Foot Queenie! 50-Foot Queenie! Oh how we sang her praises before fire. She couldn't hear us. Fifty stilettos on 50 legs, 50 feet tall. She would undulate down an avenue, red foil lips drawn outside all natural lines. Those fake lashes moved air like jet engines. Every blink was a hurricane, shaping the sand, the rock cliffs. She filed her nails on mountains. An ozone layer we never knew rotted in an hairspray cirrus. Word was, don't look up. Also, be afraid. Once, she squatted by a seashore and squeezed out fifty generations, all small and reeking health. Generations with two feet, with no feet, with two arms and two legs. Oh Queenie, forgive us our sin of forgetting. Gave birth to us all, knees spread, dripping sequins, her salty blood the sea.


They Don’t Wave Jennifer Todhunter I One Saturday morning, while six year-old Jeremy Ledbetter washed the minivan with his dad, a police car pulled into their driveway. Jeremy wanted to see inside, but his dad yelled at him to get his mother who was napping with his younger brother, Jared. It took a long time to wake her, just as it usually did, and when Jeremy came back outside, the police car was driving away. He ran down the road, waving at his dad slouched in the back seat. II On Jeremy Ledbetter’s eleventh birthday, his mother brought him and Jared to the Chuck E. Cheese in Tacoma. She watched them play a few games and paid for a large pepperoni pizza. Kissing them each on the cheek, she told them she had to get something out of the car they called home for the last year or so. Jeremy was confused when the reverse lights came on and, frowning, he waved when she drove past the window. III After Jeremy Ledbetter was busted stealing a guitar from the local pawn shop, his caseworker picked him up at the police station. She yelled at him while weaving through rush hour on the way back to his foster home. He tried to interrupt, tried to explain the guitar was for his brother and that he never gave him anything for his birthday, but she wouldn't listen and dropped him off at the curb. Standing empty-handed on the front walk, he waved at Jared who was staring out the bay window.


IV The bouncer at the Off Ramp Café told Jeremy Ledbetter he’d better make sure he and his brother didn’t try and sneak in again with their fake ID’s. Said he'd let them fend for themselves next time, which Jeremy thought was hilarious. Jared flipped off the band members who’d jumped them in the alley, pissed that they'd lost the Battle of the Bands competition, and Jeremy waved to try and keep the peace so he didn’t get punched again. V When Jeremy Ledbetter graduated high school, his shoulderlength hair had been trimmed within a quarter inch of his scalp, and his eyes were set on the future. Underneath his extra-large gown he wore a perfectly-pressed military uniform—his last name velcroed with pride to his chest. As he walked across the stage in polished combat boots, he waved to his brother who sat stoned and befuddled in the front row. VI The night before Jeremy Ledbetter left for Fort Benning, he took his girlfriend and their six-month-old daughter to the beach and asked her to marry him. He wanted to know they’d be there for him when he returned home from boot camp. To his relief, she said yes. The next morning, he stared at his daughter as he boarded the bus, in an effort not to miss anything more than he had to. He called her name as she gurgled happily in her mother’s arms, and waved to her out the window. VII After eight months away, Jeremy Ledbetter returned home on leave to his wife and their one year-old daughter. He watched videos of her first steps, her first swim at the beach, the first time she sang along with Uncle Jared. He attended barbecues on the base, funerals of soldiers and a concert downtown in the


park. Most mornings he and his wife lay side by side, not speaking, just listening to each other breathe, until the morning came for Jeremy to head overseas to fight in the war he’d been training for. Tears pooled in his eyes as he waved goodbye to his wife, who clutched their daughter and sobbed. VIII One night, while patrolling the roads just outside Kuwait City, Jeremy Ledbetter’s platoon drove past a group of young children standing on the side of the road. Their dark eyes followed the tank as it rumbled along, the soldier manning the turret-mounted machine gun pivoting from side to side. Jeremy stood through the back hatch, and waved to the youngsters below. IX Two soldiers, in Class A uniform, walked up the steps toward Jeremy Ledbetter’s front door, carrying a yellow envelope. The little girl standing in the window smiled because they looked like her daddy's friends and she missed her daddy terribly. It had been a long time since she'd seen him, the longest time ever, and she couldn't remember exactly what he looked like anymore. She called to her mother who was folding laundry upstairs, and waved to the soldiers. They didn’t wave back.


A Longing In December Georgene Smith Goodin An early blizzard iced the curve where Iris crashed her car. It froze the earth so deeply we couldn’t give her a proper burial. The gravediggers laid a dark, green tarp where her final resting place would be come spring. Iris hadn’t been religious, but her mother insisted on a Catholic send-off. My protests went unheeded. The undertaker told me that lovers didn’t qualify as next of kin. The priest looked like a gangster in his grey tweed fedora. After opening his Bible, he rambled about “our sister Iris,” never once looking at the text in front of him. Friends shuffled their feet. Perhaps they were attempting to keep warm, but I read disapproval in their shuffling. For a brief moment, I thought Iris was the lucky one. She’d have laughed at that. At the end of the graveside service, the undertaker retrieved the deep purple blooms I’d chosen. He’d said white roses were traditional for a life cut short, but I’d insisted on her floral namesake. On this one item, her mother and I agreed. Each mourner laid a flower on the coffin as they left. I stayed until I was alone with the gravediggers, insisting on watching them carry her to the cemetery vault. I needed to know where she would be until she was finally buried. # I first heard her on Thanksgiving.


The makings of a turkey sandwich were scattered across the counter. I had no gratitude, and I’d declined all invitations. I didn’t want to be a tragic trophy at someone’s holiday table. Initially, I thought I was hearing the radio in the next apartment. The gentleman who lived there had a penchant for AM talk shows. But then I realized the voice was guiding the preparation of my dinner, the way Iris spoke aloud to coach herself through a complex recipe. Trembling, I set the knife on the counter and turned towards the breakfast nook. I can’t say I truly expected to find her there, and my disappointment at her absence was only matched by my sorrow at the ceasing of her monologue. “Iris?” I called when my breath returned. Our ancient refrigerator rumbled the only response. I resumed my preparations, but that dear voice did not come back to narrate my chore. I couldn’t blame my tears on just the onion I was slicing. I knew I’d heard her. So strong was my conviction, I abandoned the cutting board and drove to the cemetery, only to find it closed. I slept in my car rather than return the next morning. When the grounds opened, the workers who greeted me found my request odd, but the caretaker was sympathetic and ordered Iris be pulled from the vault. The coffin had the sort of lid where just one half could be lifted. The caretaker raised it only enough to assure me Iris was still dead. Perhaps he’d have been less solicitous if he’d known this


wouldn’t be my final visit. # She’d always screeched like a boy whose voice was changing, so the mutilated harmonies I now heard couldn’t be blamed on rigor mortis. I used to criticize the way she sang while showering, but hearing these off-key renditions post mortem was an unexpected balm. She serenaded me with her repertoire of Christmas carols, and while I loathed such merry melodies, I hummed along. If I hovered outside the bathroom and tilted my head just so, her songs came through more clearly. I stayed that way for hours, stretching like the antenna on my grandmother’s transistor radio, the one she ordered me to hold right there and whose tip she wrapped in foil to extend its range. # On Christmas Eve, I bought a tree. I laid out the presents purchased so many weeks ago. For once, I’d not left anything to the eleventh hour. The ring was hidden in her Cracker Jack, and I nestled that sweet treat at eye level among the pine boughs. You had to look hard to see where I’d opened the box with an X-acto knife. She would never have seen the proposal coming. I hung the ornament she’d given me the year before, a bell shaped like Santa, with male anatomy for the ringer. It jingled as I hooked it on a branch, and that ringing echoed around the room, calling attention to how silent it had been. #


Who called the ambulance? I’ll never know. The last thing I remembered was driving straight towards the wreath on the iron gate of the cemetery. The siren was a sustained blare. It did not ramp up inside the ambulance; there was no fade in, fade out like when one flew past me on the street. I could not count the nurses, or stethoscopes or bags of blood. When the crisis passed, I was moved to a bed with a pillow so thin my head sank to the mattress below. The room was quiet after the chaos of the ER, but quiet was not what I wanted. I ran my nails over the bones of my face, caressing them the way Iris used to. I fingered my earlobes and stroked my eyebrows, but I could not find a way to tune her in.


Calm Like a Bomb Robb Dunn Desperation smells like a coffee shop at 3 am. It’s raining so there’s a hint of anxiety as well. The rhinoceros at the end of the counter nearest the register sits there every night now, calm like a bomb, nursing his black cup of sleeplessness and staring straight ahead. He’s a homeless vet; the only evidence that betrays him are a pair of thick lens BCDs, worn out surplus boots, and the same old mustard colored corduroy jacket he never takes off. He doesn’t tip, but it’s not expected. In the back office, behind the kitchen and walk-in fridge, the night manager is a greedy goblin; doing the books; counting pennies. He rarely makes an appearance, but a corporate suit spent the day here so it’s only a matter of time before he makes his rounds. Booths along the front window are empty until the club dregs float in hoping to sop up the beer and alcohol with stacks of pancakes. Some want cheeseburgers, others hot fudge. It’s obvious there’s something missing. The laughter has an edge. They place orders without saying please. Eat. Leave. Some don’t tip. Is it too much to ask for some fucking change? As the dregs roll out, the goblin skulks out to man the register. With a scowl he nods towards tables that need clearing. He canned the busboy weeks ago after the last suit visited and there’s no telling who’ll fall under the axe this go round. Someone has to wait.


Someone has to cook. Someone has to count. Someone used to clean. The rhinoceros knows this. He uses a single cup. No milk. No sugar. No spoon.


Zombie A. Lawrence Bradshaw "You know what? I never even liked the Cranberries." "Oh, sure," I laughed. "That's why we practically wore out the CD. Heck, I remember you singing it in the car, on the street, in the shower..." Dolores smiled. “Yup, every night when I got in from work, I'd hear 'Dolores doing Dolores' and I'd think, that's a sweet thought I don't want to dwell on too much. Not ‘til I get my boring-ass, accountant-girl clothes off anyway." She laughed then, full-throated and open. A couple of customers at the bar turned round to look at us and it felt like it was back then. You were always assured of a crowd with Dolores. "It's true, I guess we did play it a lot. I think,” she paused, as if she was running through the list of tracks, one by one. “I just didn't know how to get that album out of my head, you know? And her vocals ... no matter how I tried, I never could get the right mix of strength and vulnerability.” And she stared at me over her half-empty beer glass. # Did it feel good to see her that day? You bet it did. Good and bad in equal measure, as if the greasy-haired Prize Show compère had waved the curtain aside and said, “And this is what you could have had, a beautiful, happy Dolores who laughs at your pathetic jokes ... But you chose the devoted husband and two kids instead! Give her a round of applause, Ladies and Gentlemen!” Cue lights, cameras. Shots of the crowd. Cut to commercial


break. # She must have known I'd come to see her. Even out of the blue like that. Back from Africa for a week in London before flying off again. Aid worker from war-torn somewhere-or-other meeting part-time accountant from Chiswick. She must have known I’d come. Because I always did. Even twenty years later it seems. # It could have been my imagination, but the pub seemed to go quiet after she laughed. I fumbled for my phone. She frowned. "Leaving already? I thought maybe we'd get something to eat first?" "Sorry, just checking. Thought I felt a buzz. Si said that Lucy seemed unwell today, but I didn't want to be late to see you." Another pause as the bar filled up with office workers flooding in for their Friday night fix. We looked them over, then back at each other. "God, Nicki. You married him.” She shook her head. “I still don't get it." "What's to get, Lo?" I tipped the last dregs of wine down my throat. The Chardonnay was bitter and too warm. "Fancy another?" #


Dolores was cute, Dolores was popular, Dolores was the kind of girl everyone liked to be with, and Dolores picked me. When we first met, she was discussing twentieth-century literature with some other students, but the only thing I saw was the blue of her eyes. I recognised a few faces in her group, so I paused at their table. Dolores stopped talking and said hello. She patted the seat next to her, and I sat down. After the others left, she started telling me about the bunch of charlatans who were in charge of the faculty, and how the whole place needed shaking out of its torpor. "It's like, there's this revolution going on in critical thought, but all they care about is getting the numbers for the courses, not finding new ways of seeing. We're not here to get spoon-fed proestablishment tripe and regurgitate it out again. What's the point of that?" I shrugged. I was studying accountancy. I didn't have these kinds of problems. Dolores smiled at me. "You know, I couldn't help but notice your, er ... beauty spot." I must have looked blank, because she pointed at my chest. I was wearing a plain white shirt unbuttoned half-way down, so a small brown freckle at the top of my left breast was showing. It was almost unnoticeable. I was dressed in frumpish accountingstudent mode, an office type, a nerd before nerdiness was cool. "I think if I were a baby," she went on, "I'd love to lie there, suckling milk and stroking that spot." Before I could reply, she told me more about the shortcomings of the faculty. But I forgot almost every word she said after that.


# "Dolores! Wake up! Dolores!” It was 1am. We’d had a get-together with some friends -drinking wine, goofing about -- and now it was just the two of us. At first, it was still fun. Dolores could keep a party going -- the wisecracks, the wit, the jokes and sly digs at people we both knew -- but at some point, she had just stopped. She sat in the chair by the desk and wouldn't move. Her eyes were fixed on something, nothing, on invisible space. The expression on her face was frozen, as if she was wearing a mask. Her pupils were pinpricks, black dots, in the vast blue oceans of her eyes. "Dolores! Please, wake up!" The word ‘catatonic’ kept going through my head along with an internal movie-reel of horror flicks with asylums and unsympathetic white-coated doctors and locked doors. I shook her, feeling her arm underneath my hands: unresponsive and dead. I didn't know how to reach her. I had to call an ambulance. # Next day at the hospital, she was like nothing had happened and I was relieved to see her eyes were normal again. She sat up in bed and quizzed me.


"You called my mother?" "Next of kin. I had to. I'm sorry," I said. "They said it would sound better coming from a friend." "So, you've spoken to her at last," she said. "How did she sound?" "Concerned. Worried. As you'd expect, I guess. I tried to reassure her. She said she'd try and come over later, but it was difficult--" "It's always ‘difficult’ for Mother." Dolores swung her legs out of bed and pulled open the bedside drawer. "What are you doing?" "Getting out of this godawful place. Wanna help me get dressed?" "Lo, you can't just discharge yourself. You need to be signed out or something." "The hell with that." She stood up and yanked her nightdress over her head. It was the first time I’d seen her naked, and I couldn't look away. # “Nicki, I don’t believe it, but you’re here.” “I’m here.” “In my home. And you met my mother. And you didn’t run kicking and screaming from the premises.”


“Nope. Well, not yet anyways.” “And, what’s more, we just knew each other. In the most Biblical sense...” “You knew me, and I knew you, yes.” “...and it was the ‘love that dare not speak its name’, wasn’t it?” “Somehow, I doubt that.” “...but will just have to shout itself from the goddamn rooftops instead.” “Well, that sounds more like the Dolores I know ... in all senses of the word.” She giggled then, making me feel like I was made of raspberry ripple, about to melt into her arms again. And then my head caught up and said, what the hell are you doing, Nicki? # For five years, I ignored the voice in my head. We moved in together, started a CD collection which included The Cranberries amongst others. Dolores cut her hair off, dyed it blonde, wore Doc Marten boots, and I told her she was a walking-talking cliché. She just looked at my office clothes with a glint in her eye and started humming the tune to ‘Ridiculous Thoughts’ until I kissed her mouth to make her stop.


# “We were happy for a time, weren’t we, Lo?” I plonked the drinks down on the table and sat next to her, wishing I still smoked. “Happy? Yeah, I guess,” she said, reaching for my hand. I paused. “Have you ever had any more of those ... episodes?” “Never,” she said. “That was all the bad shit coming out. Because I felt safe with you. That’s all it was.” I squeezed her hand, moved by her generosity, riven with guilt. After I left her for Simon, she’d gone off the rails a bit, I knew. But I had to get away. We were suffocating each other. I always went to her when she called, but not as a lover. That was over. “You look beautiful, Lo,” I said. “I’m sorry for all the bad stuff. I hope you forgive me.” “Hey, it’s all in the past, and we’re still here, so what’s the problem?” and she leaned over to wipe the tear from my cheek. # I watched her down the tube steps and it was like losing her all over again, disappearing into the jaws of the tunnel. But somehow, I didn’t think she’d call next time. It felt like all our ‘next times’ were used up and we’d finally moved on.


Paranoid Android Paul A. Hamilton Frank pressed his back to the wall, avoiding the sweep of the searchlight, and wished he could breathe. A heavy panting would not serve his present need for stealth, but the absence of any kind of intake/outtake was its own sort of liability. The driver hesitated before peeling out. Perhaps on more pressing business. Perhaps to lull Frank into a false sense of security. He touched the knob of what passed for bone on his wrist, triggering the pale illumination of his system status. The time and a few bits of diagnostic information glowed through his dark skin. He had minutes before the rendezvous. The garage was still blocks away. Moving further back into the alley, he crouched into stripes of shadow behind a pile of shipping pallets as cover. He pressed the base of his skull behind the ear and waited for the call to connect. "You're not following protocol, son," a drawling voice said after a few rings. "I just need you to know I'll be a little late. Ten minutes, tops," Frank whispered. "Unacceptable. I'll be there at the scheduled time. I will depart ninety seconds later, with or without the package." "No!" Frank hissed. "The red hands are everywhere. I need more time." "Then I suggest you stop wasting what little you have." The line


went dead. Frank cursed softly. The distance was not the problem. He was capable of making it in seconds, but the exposure was too risky. He glanced toward the street to ensure there were no witnesses, and sunk into a tighter crouch. His eyes rolled backward, the iris disappearing upward. A silver line drew up from the bottom, revealing the metallic rear face of his orbs. Accessing any of his higher functions required a mode shift resulting in the telltale metallic eyes, pinstriped by softly glowing circuitry. As always, Frank cursed the NCBS Corp designers. His creators. His tormentors. Satellite uplink was not real-time, but the delay was only a few hours old. There shouldn't be too many surprises. He selected an overlay for local police activity. He'd have to steer clear of the cops. But maybe he could map a path using the police like gravity wells, slingshotting himself between them, using the red hands' disinclination to be exposed as a shield. He settled on a circuitous route. It was a good plan, but the last hundred meters was rough. All open street, no police cover, very few available hiding places. His estimated arrival time was one and a quarter minutes late, only giving him a handful of seconds to hand over the package and flee. His eyes rotated back, the silver rolling away like a mercury pool cue in favor of the brown irises that masked him in public. A garbage bag slumped to the pavement and Frank blinked in confusion at the woman in the doorway across the alley. He hadn't heard the door open. Hadn't seen, obviously, how long she'd stood there. The expression on her face was plain enough to know she had noticed him, silver-eyed and crouching in the


dark. Her hand was open, slack and unconcerned with the trash she'd dropped. Frank motioned to her, a steadying gesture. "Hey," he said, "it's okay. I'm not going to hurt you." "You're a‌" the woman trailed off. A thin, bony hand went to her lips, the side of one knuckle pressing into them like an urgent kiss or a suppressed scream. "Yes," Frank said, "I am. But it's all right. I'm not what you think." Not one of the crazy ones. She didn't speak, make a move to run inside, pick up the dropped sack of waste, anything. Her hand pressed against her lips and her stare was wide. "What's your name?" Frank asked, afraid to move but acutely aware of his narrow window of opportunity. "Tanya," the woman said with very little hesitation. A good sign. "Tanya, you don't have any reason to trust me." He softened his expression as much as he was able. In a gentle voice he said, "If you're going to turn me in, please go do that now." Frank had broached the trust topic. It did not come readily to his lips, nor did the bluff. If he had any chance to succeed, to even survive, he'd have to start somewhere. She lowered her head, uneasy. "I won't." "Okay, good." Frank calculated the time he was wasting. Another car engine revved at the far end of the alley, and Frank wished his programming included a shudder mechanism. "If you're not going to turn me in, can I ask for a favor?"


After a beat, Tanya nodded. "I just need to you hold my hand, and walk with me. Not far. Over to 62nd street. Once we get there, I'll give you 40,000 ryaa for your trouble." Tanya squinted. "For walking with you? What kind of ‌" Frank nodded slowly, waiting for her to get there. "Oh," Tanya said, realization dawning. "You need cover." He held out his hand. With only a moment's pause, she took it. His associative memory access fired as their hands touched. Feeds and loops of another woman, pale where Tanya was swarthy, flooded. That last moment, silver eyes collapsing beneath the industrial press, stinging as brutally as ever. He disabled the module and forced a smile at Tanya. She grinned back. They emerged onto the street, directly into the path of a police cruiser. It rolled past. Paid them no mind. Frank nodded once at her, then set the pace briskly, keeping in mind Tanya's physical limitations. She staggered behind him a few times, boots flapping heavily against the pavement. At the last turn Frank stopped and peered around the corner of a shuttered grocer. The cross street was lined with tight-packed storefronts and floodlamps. A man walked with echoing footsteps, a bit too casually, along the avenue, right in front of the darkened garage. "Red hand," Frank muttered, lower than he thought Tanya's human ears could detect.


"What's a red hand?" she stage-whispered back. Frank lunged back to the safety of the dark corner just as the man pulled up short and turned toward the sound. Frank pressed an arm across Tanya's shoulders, his finger digging into her lips, more forceful than her own knuckle had. He shook his head sharply. "No sounds," he mouthed. They heard the footsteps resume. From the doppler shift it was clear the red hand was now approaching them. Frank looked into Tanya's face, pleading an apology. She inclined her chin and pushed Frank off of her, gently, like a parent laying a child in bed. She took a confident step around the building's corner. "Oh! Hello," Frank heard Tanya say a second later. "Huh? What are you doing out here?" "Hoping this grocery store is still open," Tanya lied. "I need more trash bags." Frank couldn't fathom why she'd risk herself for him this way, but he offered her all the silent gratitude he had and slipped to the cut-through alley at the back of the grocer's. As fast as he could without sound he circumnavigated toward the garage. Tanya seemed to be leading the red hand across the street. Their backs melded into the null space between two streetlamps. Hopefully she would return for her payment. If not, he'd have to delay his escape again. He checked his time. Only ten seconds remained. He let three more expire and then sprinted across and into the pitch blackness of the garage. The world glowed into black and white hues as his night vision


came up. The Contact leaned against a reserved parking sign. Somehow, even through the night vision, his face was obscured by shadow. Frank touched his coat pocket, reassured himself the package was safe. The Contact spoke in a voice so soft only Frank's internal microphones could have sensed it. "I'm surprised," he said. Frank stood still, alert as he could be without switching modes. The night and the garage's darkness folded over them, oppressive and still. "Okay, then," The Contact said with a curled lip, "Let's have it." Frank produced the package, a flat yellow envelope, whitish in the infrared filter. Frank held on a little tighter than necessary, wrestling with his unanswered questions, as The Contact yanked the package free and slid it open. He tipped it. A slim black rectangle with two small holes in its center fell into his thick palm. A tiny pull at the corners of his lips indicated his approval. "Okay, then. Thanks for your help," he said. He turned to go. "Wait," Frank said. "My payment?" But The Contact was gone. A hand touched his arm. He whirled and stared into a pair of silver eyes, glowing more brightly than usual in the infrared. A circuit pattern. "Tanya?" Frank exclaimed. "You're a red hand—?" "NCBS Corp prefers the term Acquisitions Officer," she replied. "I'll need you to come with me."


Concrete C.C. Russell The thing is, I saw you that night. These simple things that change us. I saw you. After we talked, after you watched her dance. After we had too many drinks to think straight, after we catalogued all of the different varieties of pain. After we relived those early days, laughing. After we had tried to forget the later times. After all of the conversational detours. After you offered to pay which carried all kinds of meaning – yes, I picked up on that. After I got a little more defensive than I meant to. After we both admitted to being confused more than anything. You left, maybe to pass out on her floor. You left first – a first for you, I thought. You swore to me that it had been months now. No Hydrocodone, no Oxy, no Dilaudid. But when you left, I followed you. In truth, I walked out to have a cigarette (some habits die harder than others), assuming you would be at least a block away. But you were still there in the mouth of the alley, the bottle of pills in your hand. I watched you. I watched as you threw them down, stomped them out and recoiled in pain. I watched you make that decision. I shrunk back into the doorway of the bar so that you wouldn’t see me there. I was a sad sort of proud. I wasn’t angry that you had lied. I wasn’t angry at all. Not anymore.


Everything Must Go Anton Rose Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier Was this when it started? Old fucker up on stage, sequinned suit covering his belly. The idea of wanting to be someone else. To turn away from the mirror. What does it mean to be real, anyway? Watching the stage with your back to the sea, blue spray going back all the way to the sky. Was this when it started? A Design for Life Open your eyes scream drink eat shit go to school be a good boy do your best make some friends grow up get a girl get your certificates get a job be there at nine back by six out at the weekend get pissed fuck your girl have a kid have another bring them up get a promotion get paid employee of the month go to the match get pissed buy a motorbike retire do the crossword meet your grandkids die burn Kevin Carter You are Kevin Carter, following his passion, finding a truth and sending it home. You are the starving child, a product of history, lying on the ground all alone. You are the vulture, waiting. Enola/Alone We went on that road trip, up the coast in the middle of summer. You wanted to go to the war museum but we left after half an hour. You said it made you sad but you didn’t know why. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing. On the way


home, you turned the radio off. Everything Must Go Maybe all these things are just distractions. Magazines, electronic screens, cash cards, yes. Test scores, social profiles, planned-out futures, yes. But other things, too. The diary you keep by your bed, the rows of paperbacks on your shelf, your personalised mix-tapes and the guitar you still haven’t learned how to play. Burn them all. Burn them all to dust and drive the dust back into the ground. Small Black Flowers that Grow in the Sky You are in cages, layers of enclosure. Ribcage barracking your heart. Skin surrounding muscle. Clothes covering nakedness. Walls and ceilings. Coastal waters forming deep borders. The Earth’s gravity holding you down. The weight of sadness. The Girl Who Wanted to be God Omniscience: See if other people feel the same way as you do. See if any of this has a happy ending. Omnipotence: Find strength. Pull the world apart to reveal its core. Reshape it, remake it, change it to how it should be. Immortality: Go on? Removables Take your clothes off and study your reflection. Cut the covering from your head, shave your chest, pluck your pubic hairs. Take scissors to your tonsils, carve out your appendix. Slide your nails from your fingers and toes, pull your teeth from their gums. Find new ways to make yourself lighter.


Australia Somewhere out there the air is warm and clean. No thick clouds of smog or the grumble of engines and machinery. No bullshit. The bright air goes back, all the way to the horizon in every direction. You can take all the loud noises and bright lights with you, let them breathe, let them dissipate. Drill a hole through the world and come out the other side. Will you send us a postcard? Interiors Real Real Real Real Real Real Real Real Real Real. Internalize. Carve it in your arm if necessary. Further Away Light always comes with shadow, you said. Climbs always come with a fall. You said there was only so much of yourself to go around. You wouldn’t look at photos anymore, in case you didn’t recognise yourself. No Surface, All Feeling Where did you go, anyway? Did you grow a beard? Change your name? Find somewhere to call your own? Were you abducted by aliens and taken to another world? Are you hiding in plain sight? Did you fall in a river and get swept out to the ocean? Did you choose your own conclusion? Do you know how much we miss you?


About the Artists Soren James is a writer and visual artist who recreates himself on a

daily basis from the materials at his disposal, continuing to do so in upbeat manner until one day he will sumptuously throw his drained materials aside and resume stillness without asking why. More of his work can be seen here: http://sorenjames.moonfruit.com/

Christopher Iacono lives with his wife and son in Massachusetts.

Besides writing fiction and poetry, he has also written book reviews for Three Percent and the Neglected Books Page. When he is not writing, he copyedits and proofreads.

Ashley Hutson’s work is featured or forthcoming in SmokeLong

Quarterly, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Calliope, The EEEL, The Lascaux Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Sharpsburg, MD, and is on the Web at www.aahutson.com.

Jennifer Todhunter is a number nerd by day, word fiddler at night.

She enjoys dark, salty chocolate and running top speed in the other direction.

Georgene Smith Goodin’S work has appeared in Alligator Juniper,

After the Pause and Every Day Fiction. She has won the Mash Stories flash fiction competition and regularly competes in The Moth StorySLAMS. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the cartoonist Robert Goodin, and their two dogs, Toaster and Idget. Follow her on Twitter at, @gsmithgoodin.

Robb Dunn enjoys unraveling life’s mysteries thread by fragile

thread, then reweaving these into odd bits of fact and fiction. Sometimes the line gets blurred. Find other fragments clinging to the web at such places as Unbroken and freeze frame fiction.


A. Lawrence Bradshaw Native to Northern England but brought up

in Wales, Anne Lawrence Bradshaw was a nurse and charity coordinator before deciding to go back to school. She graduated with a First in English Literature in 2013, and since then her work has been published in a couple of UK literary magazines, including Orbis, Acumen, and Artemis. Married with three children, she now lives and writes in remotest Northumberland, is Writer Liaison at Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things, occasionally blogs at shrewdbanana.wordpress.com, and tweets @shrewdbanana.

Paul A. Hamilton is a writer and technology worker living in

Northern California with his wife and two daughters. His stories feature broken people, reassembled worlds, beautiful monsters, and hideous love. He gets his inspiration by impersonating an old-timey bartender, listening to stories told by lonely strangers. When not writing, he can be found reading, drawing, taking photographs, or riding roller coasters. More from him can be found at http://ironsoap.com/, and on Twitter as @ironsoap.

C.C. Russell enjoys putting words together in different ways. From time to time, others enjoy how he has arranged them and they publish them in various places online and in print. He can be found on Twitter @C_C_Russell where he constantly struggles with its enforced brevity. He lives in Wyoming with his wife and a particularly amazing five-year-old daughter.

Anton Rose lives in Durham, U.K. He writes fiction and poetry while trying to finish a PhD in Theology, all fueled by numerous cups of tea. Find him at antonrose.com, or @antonjrose.


Thanks The music of the 90s touched multiple generations. The progress of this new, digital age means that we no longer have to sit next to our various radios, boom boxes and stereo systems to press RECORD at the right time so someone can press PLAY whenever they want to. In some ways, then, this volume is a memorial. We remember the cassette tapes and CDs, we remember punk and grunge, we remember Lilith Fair and Woodstock ‘99, and we honor the songs that moved us. The songs that moved this group included: “Free as a Bird” - John Lennon/The Beatles (1994) “Ironic” - Alanis Morissette (1995) “Gold Star for Robot Boy” - Guided by Voices (1994) “50 Ft Queenie” - PJ Harvey (1994) “Yellow Ledbetter” - Pearl Jam (1992) “A Long December” - Counting Crows (1996) “Iris” - Goo Goo Dolls (1998) “Calm Like a Bomb” - Rage Against the Machine (1999) “Waitress” - LIVE (1994) “Zombie” - The Cranberries (1994) “Paranoid Android” - Radiohead (1997) “Red Right Hand” - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1994) “Joey” - Concrete Blonde (1990) Everything Must Go - Manic Street Preachers (1996) My personal thanks go out to everyone who reconnected with the past and envisioned something amazing. Special thanks to bands like Portishead, Sonic Youth, No Doubt, TLC, Belle & Sebastian, and all the bands that powered us through a glorious decade of sound. To the writers and the readers: PLAY on. - Nolan Liebert


Pidgeonholes, Volume 3.5, Copyright Š 2015 Pidgeonholes and individual authors. Contents may not be used or duplicated without permission from all parties. Learn more at http://pidgeonholes.com/ Typefaces in this volume are entirely free: Cardenio Modern by Nils Cordes Edited by Nolan Liebert

Pidgeonholes Volume 3.5: 90's Mixtape  

Our second special volume, the 90's Mixtape contains stories inspired by the music of the 90s. There is humor, there is heartbreak, there ar...

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