Table of Contents
"The more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates" as interpreted by:
The Drummer by Anna Escher………………………………………………………………………3-5 Jeffrey Was A Poet by Tom Carroll………………………………………………………………..5-7 Tra La La 2.0 by Cait Florez…………………………………………………………………………….7 Baptized in Tears by Diego Napoles……………………………………………………………….9-12 Analog by Danny De Maio……………………………………………………………………………11-12 11.17.09 by Niki Lavoie………………………………………………………………………………13-15 Snapshots in the Bay by Danny De Maio…………………………………………………………..15 Christmas Break by Adam Martinez…………………………………………………………………16 Editors’ Note: We here at Pour Vida have been dedicated to providing a space for unique literary voices in physical print. While we will continue to print physical copies of Pour Vida in the future, we decided to publish this second issue of Volume One digitally because we are currently having printing delays. This issue has been finished for some weeks now and we decided as a group that it was better to publish digitally than to let it sit any longer. Hope you enjoy this issue as much as we do, as the contributors wrote some amazing pieces. - PV
“The Drummer” By Anna Escher During the days, the uncoordinated clarinet players would stumble across a wooden stage in a swing-dancing elective while Ted and the other guitar and trumpet players threw footballs and played tag. One night at midnight, Ted and the rest of his cabin sat in a circle after quiet hours and a counselor named Jeff held a flashlight up to his face. He told the story that every year, left the younger boys shivering in their sleeping bags. “Don’t tell that ghost story. The little guys aren’t old enough,” warned the other cabin leader. Jeff disregarded and continued in a hushed voice: “6 years ago, at this very same camp, there was a boy named Johnny Stephens. He was a trumpet player – and not a very good one. He was the biggest wuss, always crying about missing his parents and pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. One day, some campers walked to Gernville to get the popsicles and ice cream sandwiches at the store 2 miles into town, just like you all will do tomorrow.” The more cautious counselor rolled his eyes. “Do you really want to go there, man?” “Come on, they’re going to hear it at some point,” Jeff replied. “It’s a right of passage.” “Well don’t come crying to me when our entire cabin wets the bed tonight and you’re stuck back here while we drink in girl’s camp.” “On the way back, Johnny got left behind. He’d stopped to read a sign and the group got ahead of him. He looked to his right, to his left, holding the wrapper of the ice cream sandwich he’d just ate. He tried to follow the laughing voices of the group ahead of him, but the Russian River that rolled over the rocks drowned out their voices, and eventually, Johnny’s screams. No one knows exactly what happened to Johnny Stephens. His body was found the next day down under the rickety bridge. His ghost haunts that bridge. And if you go down there at night, sometimes you can hear him humming minor scales, or rocking the bridge, still angry at the kids who betrayed him in the redwood maze. Now pack up, dorks. We’re gonna take a little trip to visit Johnny.” Ted pretended he wasn’t scared that night when the counselors led him and the rest of his cabin down in the starlit blackness toward the rickety bridge. He even laughed when one of the older boys jumped out of the bushes and chased the screaming kids all the way over the rocks and dusty grounds past the dining hall and they scrambled into their sleeping bags. The next morning, the reveille trumpeted and Ted – although technically at camp to learn the guitar, picked up a pair of skinny Zildjian drumsticks. He
started making noise on a six-piece PDP set. He hung out that morning in the lounge that had tattered corduroy couches and a boom box that played Coltrane until the fog rolled out and it got hot enough to play outside. A scatterbrained saxophone teacher named Travis taught Ted how to loosen his grip on the stick and play a basic 2-4 beat with the hi-hat, snare and bass drum. The kitchen crew gave him a thumbs up as they shifted their hairnets and stacked plates and silverware in the dining hall. Eventually Ted was too old for ghost stories and ice cream sandwiches. He was a tall, fortunate-looking teenager with high cheekbones, hazel eyes and a signature cracked smile that girls went crazy for. His parents told him to study, stick with the basketball team and start working on his college apps. Instead, he rode a BMX bike in a graffitied skate bowl, smoked weed behind chain link fences and played the drums. He began to feel at home with the anarchists who hung around Lytton Plaza in downtown Palo Alto. He spent long, meaningless days in smoke-filled bathrooms and parking garages with the acid-heads who took their parents’ oblivious 20 dollar bills to buy purple marijuana and ecstasy that came in dime bags. They sat with their palms open and minds exploding on that sidewalk on University Avenue. He kissed the bulimic girls with drug store makeup and ripped tights who sat in the back of the classrooms, painting their nails and snorting coke out of the inner creases of textbooks. He didn’t like them all that much, but they were there. His hair was a little longer now and he couldn’t pass chemistry with a head full of smoke but it didn’t matter because he could play the drums just fine. The Palo Alto Unified School District and his parents hated him, but Nirvana, Senses Fail and Warped Tour at Shoreline Amphitheatre were pretty cool. He bought a crash symbol and a double-bass drum pedal. He was good. Good enough to start playing with a screamo band called “Shatter Me Pretty.” His parents would not be caught dead at one of his shows, but he always saw his older sister – sitting by herself at the bar with neon orange ear plugs in her ears at Slim’s in San Francisco, where the band played a few times. She’d stay until the end of the set and kiss him on the cheek and he’d smell the whiskey on her. He’d wrap up the dirty orange extension cords and lift the amps into his flatbed truck. Sometimes he’d put on Miles Davis and drive up the 101 away from home and across the Golden Gate bridge, pretending he was in the car with his family on the way to Cazadero for another summer at camp. He’d light a joint and lose himself in Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and mouth the “one and a two and a” cymbal rhythm under his breath. That jazz rhythm that twisted the sadness of life into a casual riff and made you feel like your problems weren’t that bad after all. The trumpet comes in, maneuvering with a lengthy sad vibrato around sharps and flats. He taps the rhythm on the steering wheel. He drove on like this until he saw the signs for Petaluma, 2 miles ahead. The exhaustion and reality got the better of him and he dragged himself out of the daze, turning the car around. He’d sneak into the house at dawn. His sister was passed out on the living room couch with her boots still on. He pulled the blanket back over her and shook his head with a little cracked smile.
Eventually he dropped out of school. Goodbye Palo Alto. Goodbye to the suburbanized freaks and the No. 2 pencils. Goodbye to the chain smokers, drunk drivers and copycat suicides. It had actually felt like a relief as he high tailed down the 101 South in his old Honda, the back of the car occasionally scraping over bumps in the highway, weighted down by the pieces of his drum set. He was leaving to lose his mind in the lights of Los Angeles. Or at least try to get a few gigs with more of his musician friends. So he never passed chemistry and he never got around to those college apps. His parents were probably sitting, old and arthritic with crossed arms at the dinner table shaking their heads at all of his “lost potential.” But now he’s sweating through his shirt in the red stairwell of the Victorian basement where the band is about to go on. Ted always thought that life is a lot like jazz. Sometimes your stories are rooted in this kind of sadness that’s too complex and painful to figure out. So you just play, because life isn’t really that long there are plenty of things to be happy about. Like flashlight ghost stories, the highways and the adrenaline of performing live in a red basement bar. Ted twirls the sticks in his hands and waves the rest of the band over. They’re on in 5. Swivel on the stool behind that black Pearl set and step on that double bass. Shoelaces touch the carpet. Sound check. He laughs wildly with a smile that is breaking his face and remembers the ghost of Johnny Stephens. Zildjian sticks click, “One two three four!”
Jeffrey Was A Poet By Tom Carroll The wooden door swung open, banging loudly against the stone wall. Jeffrey, having previously imbibed at his office, gesticulated wildly. “Which one of you fucks... wants to have a conversation...w-with me?” He looked around. The bar was dusty as always, with circular wooden tables orbiting the counter in the middle. Shots of light punctured through second story windows, revealing dust particles in their columns. There was no one in the bar, not even the barkeep. “Hello??” He croaked. Jeffrey was in his late twenties but sounded sixty-five. There was no response. “Yes, I've come to found disagreements that result in ballyhoo!” He bumped into wooden tables, clattering his way to a bar stool. Flopping down recklessly, he fumbled with a coat pocket for some notebook paper. He murmured to himself about something and, finding a pen on the bar, began to write a poem. Inside there was silence, breathing And it broke on him, rising like a child's whimsy
and he fell backwards laughing Into darkness, falling until morning, nothing. The silence was sharply broken. “What the fuck are you doing here?” Jeffrey looked up from his poem meekly – he was in another world by now, a world of poetic language and this new one seemed very troubling. A brutish, flushed man spoke. “I'll say again – what the fuck...are you doing in here?” Jeffrey began to speak, but the barkeep cut him off. “No – I don't wanna hear that shit. You come in here to stir things up.” “But I--” “I'm talking now, mate. You come in here to stir shit up with the other patrons, and I know you don't come in here to drink because every time you do you're already drunk.” “Ssir,” Jeffrey slurred, “I-I am an artist, and I've come to thissesstablishment purely to exsspress my artisstic intentions, which are many, and furthermore I– ” “You come here to do fuck-all's what you come here to do, mate.” Jeffrey stared at him blankly, wobbling. “W-why don't we soften this interrogation with a poem. Would you like to hear my- my most recent poem?” The man set himself squarely over Jeffrey, his hands flattening over the counter top. “Get out.” “Wha-? Barkeep this is preposterous, I – ” “Get. Out. Mate.” But Jeffrey was too drunk to be coerced – he didn't move an inch, instead pretending to revise his poem, making little scribbles here and there. The barkeep paused, tensed, then sighed. “Look, I'm not gonna call the law on you, mate, because despite all of your shit, mate, you know what? I like you Jeffrey,” he walked away to grab something behind the bar. “But if you don't leave this fucking instant I'm going to bash you over the head with this fucking pool stick right 'ere.” He advanced on him menacingly but Jeffrey was engrossed in his poem, his head down. “That's a charming s-suggestion, barkeep, but I'll have to...to pass on that offer at this particular moment in ti--” WHACK!!! Jeffrey awoke to an angel softly padding his brow. White light framed his vision in a hazy glow, leaving all but the woman's face enveloped. Slowly, he remembered what had happened. He'd been hit, clobbered by the man in the bar, and now there was a bump on his head and yet he was happy because all was going according to plan. As the angel continued her reviving, cooing at him softly, a poem developed in his mind. You don't know it, but the day you struck me, we touched. Us. Separated by wood and splinter, we moved. In each other, lived, with that power.
He simply had to write this down. “My papers!!!” Jeffrey raised his head sharply, alarming the poor woman. “What? Oh!” She said. “My papers!! My notebook where is my notebook!!” He was trying desperately to assert himself over this new environment; a marble fountain outside the bar. “I don't know,” she pleaded, “I haven't seen any papers.” “Ahhh!!” He screamed at the loss, thrashing his hands in the air until she offered: “Perhaps...perhaps they're in your pockets!” Jeffery’s hands scrambled through his coat, finally retrieving several pages; he was quite relieved. “Ah yes, yes, thank you, thank you, oh thank God.” He paused. “Who are you?” He asked bluntly. “Jeffery it's Daisy, Daisy Elizabeth. We've met on several occasions, in fact I--” “Ah, Daisy, yes! Yes, pleased to meet you! I'm Jeffrey Horseradish, I'm a poet and a writer and I...” He trailed off. “That's not your name, Jeffrey, that's not funny,” she said. “Jeffrey are you being serious?” It was suddenly very clear to him what he had to do. He sat up on the cobbled stones that surrounded the fountain as she knelt over him. Grabbing her by the bun of her blonde hair he brought her face in for a very inappropriate and open-mouthed kiss. Because he was holding her in place by force he couldn't tell if she was actually enjoying this or not, but he hoped that she wasn't for the sake of his poetry. Now would be the test – he let go. “Christ Jeffrey!” She spat. “What the hell is wrong with you!” “Now that's not appropriate language for a lady,” he said, rustling through his notebook. On the cobbled streets, we kissed. My angel. I held you, you resisted. Please! I was misled. “Jeffrey,” she said. She was very serious now. “Jeffrey, look at me.” His blurred vision found hers. “I'm worried about you.” But he was listless, his head falling around. “You're suffering Jeffrey. You need to get help.” “Nonsense, I have my poems,” he said. “My poems will help me.” “No...no, your poetry is killing you, Jeffrey. You have to stop this. You have to take it easy for a while.” “But...but if I take life easy madame, as you say, if I stop this torment...then exactly what the fuck would you think I should write about?” “Oh, stop it, Jeffrey, I'm sure you have loads to write about.” He paused to consider it. “But I don't. I have nothing!” Daisy Elizabeth gazed into Jeffrey's stupid face under the hot noon sun, his mussed hair and his silly grin. She felt that for the first time she truly understood him. They sat in silence for a while
beside the cool trickle of the marble fountain. “Well then perhaps you ought to kiss me again, Jeffrey.”
“Tra La La 2.0” By Cait Florez Cami’s eyes are two black cats, starving Shaking Cami’s eyes are two animals that would kill you As soon as look at you she fishnets down the sidewalk She is above it as she Knives the trashy concrete stilettos hissing Clack she closes black spiderlashes tries to remember How to spell onomatopoeia, the words to the Hail Mary Sometimes during sex she completely forgets what she is doing Cami just adores four letter words beginning with the letter F her Current favorite is FINE Sometimes when Whatshisname touches her She freezes up, stops What she is doing Cami slept her way to the upper middle Echelon of whatever artsy pretention and when she puts her mind To it she cums very easily and goes even more so Cami smiles like cubic zirconium and laughs Like she truly believes the entire world Is made of cotton candy and candy canes And cocaine or whatever little girls are made of Her skyscraper backbone is comprised entirely Of sugar, Twix bars from the gas station and seventy dollar Bottles of champagne or whatever else gets her going To Hell in a handbasket or back-alleyway designer handbag She is a little sick to her underfed stomach Of how much everyone loves her, how they give her Everything she wants in small doses Cami doesn’t even get nervous anymore her self-medication Is top notch, her whiskey top shelf She is beautiful, a dizzy drunk doe in the headlights of downtown In the heads and hearts of a million broken men Cami only Fucks for any sense of control in some afterHours party in her own apartment buzzing white String lights, the room warm with so much art Cami dug out her diary, found brutally honest things she had written About each person present and read those Intense secrets aloud to the room Laughing at the top of her lungs Cami is kinda freaking out
She’s running out of any sense of shock value
**For desired effect: Read while listening to “The Only Moment We Were Alone” by Explosions in The Sky.** "Baptized in Tears" By Diego Napoles Hungover was an understatement. She could still taste the puke from last night and the bitter feeling of coke dripping down the back of her throat. "Fuck. I need water." As she looked on the floor of her apartment for anything that wasn't empty beer cans or red plastic cups, she discovered the bruises on both her legs between the knees and ankles. "How the fuck did I get those?" She found a half empty bottle of Arrowhead water and smelt it to make sure it wasn't vodka. It tasted like spit but she didn't care. She walked to her couch and sat down. She saw her phone face down on her coffee table near an issue of Cosmo with Eva Mendes on the cover. She picked up her black iPhone 4s. 3 new text messages. 2 guys. She recognized one but the other was a new name. "Oh God." she said quietly . The first 2 messages were from a number labeled Derek. Derek 2:14 am "home" Derek 9:32 am "Hey Sarah. nice meeting you last night. Had fun, Hope we can party again soon. Next time you on top. ;)" She tried to piece together what had happened last night. She remembered meeting him at the bar. Getting a few free vodka Redbulls and dancing with him. And when he offered to do lines in the bathroom she invited him home. And then couldn't remember anything after they started drinking at her place. “Must of been shitty coke if I knocked out so early.” The next text made her heart feel heavy. She hadn't read the name aloud in so long because she had been trying so hard to block it out.
11:17am "please don't text me anymore." She felt angry. Upset at herself because before it, she sent. Sarah 2:03am " I mis. yu" She felt sad and pissed at the same time. It had been 3 months since she last saw him. The last time they spoke she yelled and was irritated. She saw him kissing another girl six months before and never let it go. Even when he apologized and tried to make it up to her, every time they fought she would bring it up. Throw it in his face. Bring him down and remind him.Remind him that HE hurt HER. She didn’t remember what the last fight was about but she remembered saying "I’m done. I'm fucking done with this shit. Leave. Why do you care? Just Go." She looked away when he left. She didn’t want to see him leave and just held so tightly to the hate in her heart. The hurt. She knew he would always come back. He would drive away and maybe ignore the first text but he’d always come home.No matter how loud they yelled and threw stuff at each other, they always ended up in each others arms saying “I’m sorry.” No matter how mean they were and how many time she slapped his face he would leave and come back. Every time. Like clockwork. But that night was different, she fell asleep on the floor near her phone and woke up to no new messages the next morning. Despite her apology text and attempts to make him want her back, he had enough. He had finally given up. That hurt her the most. It still did even when she looks back. She sets her phone down on the couch. She missed him last night. Like all nights. No new guy would ever say her name the same way he did. She started going back to her photos on her phone. Of all the pictures deleted in a fit of anger, she kept only one. It was her favorite picture of herself. The one where she felt that she actually looked good and skinny. Christmas last year. Her and him standing under mistletoe with goofy smiles on both their faces. The room was dead quiet now and she could hear was the sound of her heart beating slower. She stared hard at the picture. She didn't even recognize herself. She looked so happy. It had been so long since she smiled like that. Even with drugs and drinking, she could never replicate that feeling in that picture. She remembered exactly what Ethan had said that made them both laugh. His mom took the picture and Ethan whispered "After this, can we go home and I unwrap you?” It made her laugh now. Things like that she took for granted. He loved making her laugh. She could see it in his eyes. He worshiped the ground she walked on. He was there to welcome her home and surprise her with little notes around the apartment. He did that before he cheated but after... after it just felt like he was trying too hard to prove his love. Even if it was real.
Her eyes started to water. She didn't want to start crying. She bit her lip. She stepped outside for a cigarette and started to look out from the patio. She sat down on a shitty table and chair she picked out with him from Wal-Mart. A few months earlier, she would be joined with him. He would offer to make her French toast and pick up a bottle of cheap champagne and orange juice. She loved when he would cook because he would always burn the bacon and she loved the way it would taste with the soggy French toast. She takes another drag. She tried to make breakfast for herself once but only broke down in tears because she didn't like the feeling of eating alone. She took another hard drag from the cigarette. She hasn't had breakfast since then because it makes her think of him. She tried to control her thoughts. No more sadness please. Not today. Please. She started to wonder what he is doing now. Is he fucking someone else? What she look like? Black hair? Asian? Skinnier? Where’s he living now? Same house? New apartment? Just then she heard her phone vibrate in the other room. She went over to the couch see who it was. She saw the name and turned white.
New iMessage. Ethan. Despite his text before, She was hoping it was good. She thought of all these scenarios of how it could play out. She thought “What if he wanted to get lunch together? We could go to Chipotle because that was his favorite and talk and catch up. He could see she me in that new blue dress. He'd like that”. She whispered "I could show him I've changed." She continued to have the dialogue with herself but this time in her head. “I could make him laugh and he would tell me he misses me. Then he could come over and we could watch a movie together and cuddle on the couch. Pick up some pizza and beers. Canadian Bacon and pineapple just like our anniversary. Then we could kiss. Jesus, I miss that. I miss the way he would kiss me. He would do it so softly but every time was different. I would kiss him all night and we could sleep in tomorrow. He would take the day off work and we could take it slow and work on us. One day at a time. We could make it work. We really could make us work.” She felt hope in her heart. It felt good to see that happening. She started to smile and think it was reality. She looked back at her phone and opened the message.
Ethan 3:44pm "Just dropped off the last of your things at your moms. Mostly clothes.
Going to block your number at this point. It's for the best. If you need me, you have my email. Take care." Her heart sunk. She read it over and over in hopes it would change but it only felt worse. It started to feel like tears in the back of her throat and she felt sick with sadness. He didn't even say "I love you." She started to feel the tears in her eyes now and fought hard to push them back. She didn't want to feel that way. She didn’t want to feel like shit. She was done feeling like shit. She started to feel a tear get away and as she wiped it away. "Fuck him." She taps her other messages. Taps the conversation labeled Derek. Sarah 3:47pm "lol what are you doing tonight :)" Send.
“Analog” By Danny De Maio The screen blinks while he opens a new “window.” The cursor stands alone against a blank landscape. It stands out starkly in a blanket of white that is not cold like snow because it’s not snow. The cursor gives off no heat to register that the white landscape is icy by comparison. But his skin itches with anticipation and contempt. “I don’t want to press the buttons anymore. I don’t want to use this ‘connection,” are the words on his mind. The screen and the connection it carries buzzes. It hisses angrily like a box of angry bees. It buzzes like the machine it is, but does not have a heartbeat like the human it strives to replace. He submits altogether when the arrow strikes “submit,” and the deed is done. Hundreds of thousands of connections being made and no community space to look into the eyes of the community. No space to sip cold beer in a sweaty bar. And so on weekends not a button is pressed nor a cursor clicked. The bars are sweaty, but the beer is lukewarm. The bartender, Claire, is from Myrtle Beach and she doesn’t come with a spell-check or a thesaurus. She smiles and touches his hand when he over-tips her for the frothy beer that arrives on the bartop. He is keenly aware of this routine. There is a muscle memory in the conscious overtipping and the glances she steals away from him.
“Oh, honey,” she says, “no need for those kinds of fixin’s. I like you just fine already.” She pulls her hand away, but not before she bats her lashes at him. One eye stays closed for a moment longer than the other because it’s slathered with eyeliner and mascara the same way he imagines her father slathers his ribs in homemade barbeque sauce. Or the way her boyfriend must on Sunday afternoons when she and him have the day off. Claire and her boyfriend must sip from chilled beer bottles and laugh while huddled around her father’s smoker. But maybe she’s single. Either way, it’s too frustrating and painful to think about. Some computerized coward with notions that all conceptions are based on statistics. A belief that statistics are dignified. To cry is to breakdown and there is no room or use for broken machinery. He orders a beer by motioning to his empty glass, and mouths, “another,” because the jukebox is too loud. Another computer buzzing. He reaches for the pen on the counter that she’s been handing customers all night who tip with their credit cards. The napkin he writes on is wet from spilled vodka, but at least it’s clear, he thinks. He scribbles ten digits across the topside of the napkin’s border. He does this to avoid the wet spot the vodka has left. When she arrives with his beer he smiles through his shyness and the pain of potential failure. “Trade,” he offers, staring deep into her pale blue eyes, and pushes the napkin in her direction. There is no algorithm for this and he wants to keep it that way.
“11.17.09” By Niki Lavoie The red line from Union Station departed at 3:09 pm. About half a mile from the station, the subway abruptly stopped. The passengers fell about, their belongings strewn across the floor. “What the fuck?” Constant chattering pervaded each car. There was an announcement asking the passengers to remain calm while they resolve the issue as quickly as possible. “In 10 years I’ve never been on an underground rail line that’s broken down.” “Goddamn government. My taxes are going to shit. They can’t even maintain the quality of the public transportation. What the fuck am I paying for? “ “I can’t be late to dinner with my fiancée. She’ll have another reason to make up some bullshit about me cheating on her…” The conductor stopped the subway when he realized he’d hit something. He called for a mechanic to come out and make sure that no damage had been done to the subway and called the administrators to give a report. All other subways
on this track were stopped until they knew what was going on in order to avoid any further damage or collision. Curious passengers looked out the window but nothing was visible through the tinted windows aside from darkness and the realization that the tunnel walls were only about a foot away. They lost interest and turned their attention inside, entertaining each other’s ballads of dissatisfaction. The conductor took it upon himself to see if he could identify what he’d hit so he might be of some help to the mechanics who were coming to assess any damages. The tunnel was completely dark, no light coming from either direction. There was little room for him to walk between the cold metal of the cars and the tunnel’s cement walls. He walked around a little bit at the end of the last car- eyes squinting, gently groping around in the dark. He felt a coldness seeping through his socks, his feet completely soaked. “Shit!” He headed back toward the front and in the light of the cab he saw his shoes covered in blood, leaking out into little footprint puddles. Roughly 30 minutes had passed and the passengers became increasingly frustrated. No information. No cell phone service. No bathroom. “I can’t fucking believe this!” -Can’t he just let us out so we can walk to the next stop and get on another train? Doesn’t he realize we all have somewhere to be for fuck’s sake?” “We’re done, I know it, I know her. No call or text and I’m fucking late. She won’t believe me for a split second that the subway broke down.” “I’m giving this ten more minutes and I’m going to piss all over this floor!” As the conductor tried to clean up the pool of blood from his shoes he frantically called LAPD. -“I-I stopped the subway and went to go find whatever it was that I’d hit…” “If you hit something, we don’t need to come out, sir. The mechanic will take care of whatever it was.” “But I didn’t hit a thing. I don’t know what it was- but there’s blood. A lot of it.” The PD and the mechanic arrived within 10 minutes of each other. As far as the state of the subway itself, everything checked out to be fine. Nonetheless, whatever had been hit needed to be removed so the track could be up and running again. The PD walked along the rails with their flashlights and 300 feet or so behind the last car found what was once a body. Arms, legs, torsoeradicated. A black tennis shoe lay against the left wall of the tunnel. The rest of him was inextricable between the rails. “Sir, the alleged object you hit was a person. We’ve called our forensic team to come out and clean up the mess and you should be ready to go in less than an hour. The conductor began to tear up and followed the officer back to the scene. The remnants of the body were being mopped and swept up like someone had dropped a pot of coffee. The conductor stared in disbelief, his eyes glancing over to the black tennis shoe. He began to cry. “Is everything okay sir?”
“Th-this has never happened to me before… how could I not have seen…” “Listen…It’s not common underground. The trains get this sort of thing much more frequently.” “His family… his friends… what the fuck am I supposed to say to them… “ “Look, this is your first time so I understand your shock. Our team cleans up bodies on a daily basis. Perhaps you should go back to your car until this is all settled and we can get the track up and running again. Shouldn’t take long.” “But- I…. I killed someone.” -“He killed himself.” The conductor walked over to pick up the shoe that had not yet been cleaned up. He held it tightly against his chest as he walked back to his car, tears flowing down his face, trying his best to sob as quietly as he could.
“Snapshots in the Bay” By Danny De Maio It was August in the Bay. It did not feel like summer. For twenty hours a day the wind whipped off of the ocean and through the city. The wind would die from midnight until four in the morning. Most people thought this was a useless time to have the most enjoyable weather in a place that was confined by the borders of sunny California. No matter how much people believed it was useless, nothing would change. Most people knew their complaints were in vain, but complained still. However, Earl Felker and his friends embraced the wee hours of the morning. Earl looked up at the stars. The neon light from the liquor store shone on his face like a ill-gotten spotlight. It was the closest thing to sunlight that he had felt in weeks. The stars had become his sunlight for the time being. Distant, bright, and burning out, he could relate to their place in the universe. The clear night sky reminded him of shooting stars, which reminded him of wishes, which reminded him of dreams. Dreams terrified him now. His dreams had been lost in the winds of the Bay when she had walked away in tears. He did not want to think about that now. He did not want to think about her now. He pulled his gaze from the stars and stared down at his midsection. A shape of grey hair moved to and fro. Towards Earl and then away from him again. He felt nothing, but he focused on forcing himself to. The eyes attached to the greyhaired mass stared up achingly at Earl. He felt nothing, hard as he tried. He tossed an obscenity in the air, unsure as to whether it was directed at the stars or himself. He zipped his pants and wondered if a burning star felt like he did. While he thought about this, he walked up the boulevard in the direction that the wind would be blowing with the coming of the new dawn.
“Christmas Break” By Adam Martinez He lied on the couch one lazy Sunday, watching mediocre movies on Netflix, after a night of Ecstasy with an ex, ecstatic for a second chance, etcetera, etc. That morning, he took Excedrin after expelling the taste of his ex-love in the sink, making sure to exaggerate his gag reflex, to leave a lasting impression that he was so. over. her. Years later, come to find, not only did he come inside, but he gave her a child. He was nothing but a Young Turk, chatting with cool jerks in gentrified inner-city bars, on Saturday nights. He drank the tallest cans of PBR that five dollars had to offer. He talked about reform for a life form that would form life that he would one day despise, just like the one he created.
We present our second installment, and first digital representation, of an array of talented writers from across the country found in one bl...