the madison review
the madison review
We would like to thank Ron Kuka for his continued time, patience, and support. Funding for this issue was provided by the Jay C. and Ruth Halls Creative Writing Fund through the UW Foundation. The Madison Review is published semiannually. Two-year subscriptions available for $15 (2 print issues, 2 online issues). One-year subscriptions available for $8 (1 print issue, 1 online issue). Email email@example.com www.english.wisc.edu/madisonreview The Madison Review accepts unsolicited fiction and poetry. Please visit our website to submit and for submission guidelines. The Madison Review is indexed in The American Humanities Index. Copyright ÂŠ 2014 by The Madison Review the madison review University of Wisconsin Department of English 6193 Helen C. White Hall 600 N. Park Street Madison, WI 53706
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Editors Cody Dunn Mckenna Kohlenberg
Editors Will Conley Sam Zisser
Associate Editors Hiwot Adilow Signe Bedi James Cappuccio Marina Oliver Garrett Pauli Alissa Valeri
Associate Editors Danielle Fortin Andy Kristensen Staff John Egbert Stephanie Lacy-Pricy Tamar Lascelle John McCracken Kayleigh Norgord Laura Schmidt Katie Spiering Abigail Zemach
Staff Taniesha Broadway Sam Griffin Max Kasun Fiona Sands Miles Solstice
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Editor’s Note Dear Reader,
This year, we’re proud to announce the release of our second annual online issue. We’d like to thank all contributing writers for their outstanding submissions, the Creative Writing Department at the University of Wisconsin, Ron Kuka for his guidance, our staff members for their continual hard work and passion, and all who have supported our publication and the release of this issue. We hope you, dear reader, will enjoy these stories and poems as much as we do—they certainly examine the human experience from a variety of perspectives. So, please enjoy this issue of The Madison Review! Happy reading, Your Editors
the madison review
Table of Contents
Thomas Benz | Life Jacket
Paul Curley| The Long Shot Page 20 Charlotte Kupsh | The Pontecorvo 1884
Ethan David Miller | The Outfielder
Kyle Ellingson | The Good Life Ahead
Christopher Bell | Rebellionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s End Page 80 Kelly Morris| Butterflies Page 92
Kerry Trautman | To The Roofers Page 2 Aaron Apps | Pistachio Butter is Browngreen Like the Heavens Page 16 Leslie Schultz | Oh, Mrs. Miller! Page 19 Emily Hegland | Dahmer, Darling Page 36 Robert Evory | Kiss Page 39 Mariam Tsiklauri | A Dandelion Page 56 Allison Lee | one degree of separation Page 68 Dave Hardin | Cemetery Beautiful, Avenue Love, Row Paradise
Fred Yannantuono | California Roll Page 79 Christopher Munde | Virgin Page 89 Victor Liu | honey Page 104
Cover and Inside Artwork
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To The Roofers Kerry Trautman
An isolated May hailstorm ping-ponged ice balls through car windshields, obliterated rose bushes, cracked mailboxes, street signs, and swingset slides. And all summer-long that half-hour storm has brought you men from, I imagine, several counties. Scores of tanned-skin teams hammering away at nearly every house in one neighborhood, the curbsides clogged with trucks and temporary dumpster bins and tow-behind trailers heaped with seemingly-pristine asphalt shingles. You perch atop steep peaks, scrape and shave debris to tarps below draped over hedge-rows, enjoying the necessary destruction, the accumulation of smoothed, readied surface in your path. Or you unroll sheets of black tarpaper, sealing with slamming thumps of your staple gun, the repeated reverb rumbling the bones of your arms, your deltoids. Or you arrange the stiff, glimmery shingles, your keen eyes conscious of correct overlapment, pleased by the perfection of pattern, 2
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the time of day measured in covered square-footage. The neighborhood wives ogle from windows, standing far enough inside to be inconspicuous, fanning their faces with insurance checks. They hope the pool of skilled men is not stretched too thin. They compare crews, hoping the thumping above their own heads is from the best of the hammer-swingers, that their men are the smartest—the men who loved Spirograph as children and Erector sets. For their neighbors, however, they wish for the strongest of your lot, overheating and peeling damp shirts from your planked backs, hair a bit longer and looser than their husbands’, bending lean, lithe legs to reach for a Coke. You tower from precarious peaks like the bronze statue of a city’s founder atop its town hall—a city founded upon the values of musculature, sweat, and denim shorts
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Thomas Benz Brett knows the routine by now as they arrive at Tuttle Park, gathering an assortment of balls, mitts and a Frisbee out of the trunk, though odds are he has lugged them out here for nothing. He knows Charlie loves him but that he is an only child and craves being with other kids. Brett may be able to extort ten minutes of dad time at the end when they’re already late for dinner, risking Holly’s ire for pushing the whole bed schedule further into the night. As they reach the entrance Charlie is like a thoroughbred springing out of the gate at Arlington toward the massive wooden structure that draws him here. There is no playground like it; a cave, castle, fort, tunnel network and gauntlet all rolled into one. It most resembles some manmade reef set down on the edge of a field, small elusive creatures darting in and out. Charlie scales a hidden stairway and manages to join a group of chasing boys, tags along as seamlessly as a pickpocket slips through a crowd. Brett drops the jumble of sports equipment next to one of the picnic tables. Tuttle has always vexed him because every view seems to be obstructed and his six year old is always disappearing in its catacombs. This bothers Brett less than it used to but he is still spooked by the myriad tragedies he reads in the newspapers that seem to require a constant vigilance. People get killed on beaches, disappear into sinkholes, perish in their own beds when some twin engine Cessna jockey plummets out of the sky. Brett knows that Charlie’s wearing a purple sweatshirt that says Mischief University and grey sweatpants because it’s the only way to follow his movements. He hopes he won’t get panicky at some point and yell “where
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the hell are you?” while placid nannies chuckle at such a rank amateur but it would probably be easier to track a rare bird in the wild. Brett should be reading a report from work but he left it in the car and can’t bring himself to mar such a bucolic scene with its dreary analysis. His phone is so antiquated that it barely serves the function of transporting a voice, let alone offer him the teeming internet that many other parents here are ensconced in. He even considers the book on Atlantis that Charlie insisted on bringing along. It is currently his favorite after “Oog and Gloog,” featuring cavemen always getting into some prehistoric trouble. The way things have been going lately, Brett needs some diversion to keep unpleasant thoughts from returning to him out of nowhere. He’d rather not wait for all the little moments to return in slow motion replay, an exchange gone awry or some mishap that he might easily have prevented. He has only to recapitulate the last couple months to find a whole raft of these. An “inappropriate” email got sent to the wrong person resulting in, at best, a terrible misunderstanding. Then there was his running into Claire Jackson, after having charged out his cubicle like a rhino. The coup de grace was a glaring error he made in a brochure that couldn’t be called back in time. Brett Hanbeck once again in a predicament of his own making.
It is an early autumn afternoon in Milwaukee where that sweet season won’t last long. The air is warm in the sun and chilly in the shade so that by turns he feels over and underdressed. Feathery leaves, not yet brittle, lose their moorings and float down from the branches. There is some tune playing faintly out in the streets that seems to shift with the wind. Brett gets a call, the ring jarring, too much like the insistence of a mild shock. He considers dodging it, but seeing Holly’s number on the display, jabs the answer button. “I have some bad news,” she prefaces the conversation. He has asked her never to begin this way, that to do so generally conjures up trouble far worse than what she has to express. But she keeps doing it feeling this will soften the impact when it arrives, allow him to gradually process the disappointment, keep his circuits from getting overloaded. “The Sonata needs a new transmission,” she says, keeping her voice even, perhaps trying to mimic the harmless delivery of the mechanic, whose manner is as soothing as a social worker. The sound they’ve been 5
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hearing wasn’t just the fuel pump which makes sense since the beast has 114 thousand miles on it now. The last year or so he has kept his eye on it like the hourglass of the wicked witch of the west. It will be a grand at least and they’re still trying to claw their way back from the real estate debacle, their mortgage thirty thousand dollars underwater. “Should we have them do it or…” He knows what the “or” is-- a brand new vehicle that would be suicide in the middle of a recession-- so he cuts her off. “I think so but get a firm estimate first. Don’t let him bamboozle you.” “He’s a good guy Brett, you know that.” He thinks she’s solicitous of him because he looks like Mark Wahlberg, a personal favorite of hers. He tries to go easy on the small stuff because Holly is a saint who has finessed them through a hundred squabbles. She’s given to late night crime show binging, but is otherwise admirably restrained. Still, lately she seems to be wearing down, last night suggesting that he deliberately sabotaged himself so he’d be fired. It’s well known what he thinks of Croyden Marketing, one step up from a coal mine, maybe. But with no other prospects and a load of debt, he wasn’t about to do anything rash. “OK honey, thanks for the doomsday update,” Brett says. “We’ll be back pretty soon.” He skims his first grader’s book, absently flipping through the pages, mostly looking at the pictures as if the inch high block letters are beyond his level. Atlantis is a subject of fascination to Charlie and as real as the Trader Joe’s at the end of their block. There’s something in the first chapter about Poseidon’s guardian not being sure if she should offer up the last key to the magnificent city. She warns that while it is made of gold, it is also a ghost town, a figment of the irretrievable past. Charlie sticks his head up through one of the apertures, alighting on a shaky platform and calls out some code to his new mates. He is too skinny, would rather do almost anything than eat, his shoulder blades bulging in the shape of harps. He’s always finding a hideout and combining disparate objects in unusual ways, creating his own chimera. Brett thinks he must feel protected in there, immune to the fractious circumstances outside, in the cocoon of his own imagination. Charlie has a game where he pretends everything is submerged, where everyone is traipsing around at the bottom of the ocean.
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“What happens if you have trouble making it to Atlantis?” Brett calls out to him. “The water is rough or something. What do you do then?” “You wear a life jacket, dad,” he says dismissively, before vanishing again. Brett picks an out of the way spot where he doesn’t have to get into one of these “we’re all in the same boat” exchanges. He has had enough of them at swimming class and soccer practice to last him a lifetime. Like his own father, he knows he doesn’t have the knack for offhand banter, is clueless how to navigate the shoals of incidental relationship. The casual camaraderie he so often sees elsewhere doesn’t seem to reach him, as if he’s somehow on another island. Brett certainly senses this with his boss Rex Yader who never seems to give him a break, who only seems to notice when something goes awry. Brett glimpses Sara Chang over on the far end near the giant sandbox. She’s a little more plump than the rest of her tribe at that age but pretty, with a face that always seems to him somehow soft and composed. He has only talked to her a handful of times, chance encounters in the community house where many of the afterhours workshops take place. She doesn’t notice him, despite his having caught her daughter Michelle maybe three years before, practically in self defense, as she plunged head first from the high slide at another playground near the lake. If he had been a foot farther away he probably would have frozen but being almost directly underneath, it was like some acrobatic act they had practiced over and over. Brett gets blindsided by Monica Wilkins, a woman from the neighborhood who has somehow entered the park, son Curtis in tow, with all the stealth of an assassin. He manages to remember that Holly knows her a little and that they all talked at Revere Elementary School’s Sea Animal Night. The early grades there seem inordinately focused on the sea. Charlie can probably name more amphibians than Brett can and tell you what they like to eat. There are trips to the aquarium, drawings of whales and dolphins strung along the walls. Monica is only ten feet from him and without any props yet at her disposal, feels compelled to wander in his direction. She produces a semblance of a smile he would bet exceeds his own earnest attempt. She’s wearing a loose jumper that seems like it belongs somewhere closer to a barn but somehow she pulls it off, still looking faintly sexy. 7
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“Where’s Charlie?” “Somewhere between the jail and drawbridge, I think” he says, gesturing vaguely toward one section of the labyrinth. A lot of adults seem to know Charlie because he’s so outgoing; the way he walks the length of the pew for the handshake of peace at church like he’s running for alderman. But this delights Brett whose nickname was “hang back” in grade school which morphed to “hammock” in college, an image he tended to cultivate, though it was all probably due to his unpronounceable name. “How’s he liking first grade?” she says, watching Curtis’ tentative pass at a climbing wall. “So far so good. No charges of assault and battery yet,” he says, raising his eyebrows. Monica visibly frowns before processing this as a crude attempt at humor. “Curtis still seems to be in a bit of a transition phase,” she says, looking down and grabbing her neck like she has a sudden knot in it. “But he can count to a thousand.” “Now there’s a skill you can use in real life,” Brett says reflexively with a sarcasm he didn’t intend. He knows you should never make a joke concerning somebody else’s kid, if there’s even a chance this could be taken the wrong way and wishes he could retract it. Monica’s face tightens into an expression that makes clear she wishes she were someplace else, anyplace else. She thrusts her hand deep into a cavernous shoulder bag in search of some gadget that won’t insult her and only in profile now says, “got to go.” “Hope to see you at Fallfest,” he says, overcompensating, trying somehow to have the remark stricken from the record, as if this were a court proceeding. Of course, he dearly wishes to avoid that annual event for obvious reasons. The teachers are already leery of him because he doesn’t have time to volunteer. Everyone else seems to know each other from food drives and scouts and field trips so when he is marooned at one of these functions, at some point he invariably feels as if the planet’s oxygen was running out. Sea Animal Night was the exception because Charlie had a brief dance number with two other girls and Brett couldn’t resist seeing him up on stage dressed as a starfish like he was in vaudeville. “Little help here,” Charlie cries out, his voice a mixture of frustration, embarrassment and perhaps a tinge of anxiety. 8
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Brett can’t discern if there’s an actual danger or if this is another in his repertoire of antics. Jumping up, he sees Charlie’s gotten snared trying to squeeze through some cramped space, seeking a path that wasn’t there. He’s pulling against on some kind of spoked wheel and his reaction to being rendered stationary is tense but controlled. Brett extracts him with some repositioning of limbs and tugs of fabric. Released, Charlie is all exuberance again, the whole thing instantly forgotten. “Are we still going to Six Flags?” Charlie asks. “That boy said he went last weekend and it was the best day he ever had.” “That one got by us, pal. They’re closed now. We’ll do it next year for sure.” Charlie shoots him a sullen look, as if he would turn him to stone if he could. Brett’s come to believe that with kids it’s just truth or lies, absent any shading or nuance. Brett will take him to Six Flags next summer. He just wanted to wait one more year so the kid might still remember it when he gets to be Brett’s age. Being the youngest sibling, Brett’s memory of the Enchanted Forest, the amusement park of his youth, is mildly pleasant but hazy. Talking trees, hawkers dressed as elves, the dreamlike tracks and carny booths and buzzing commotion, rolls of tickets and cascades of flashing bulbs. He’s heard it isn’t like that anymore, the places sterilized by huge corporations. But he now feels bad he didn’t do it this year because Charlie was so transfixed with the idea and somehow sons were always judging their fathers even after they were gone. Brett still had a few issues with his own, though he had come to feel his dad had done as well as he could, given the regular onslaughts from everywhere. So if he liked the casino, the track, the Early Times a bit too much, who would fault him now, even if it left you untethered for certain stretches. Brett backtracks to his bench and finally takes out the extra hotdog from their customary stop at Henderson’s Last Stand before heading here. Shim-shim the resident squirrel is rummaging for acorns to put in his hibernation savings account. He bets the twitchy creature doesn’t have a fraction of what he needs to carry him through, just as Brett’s stash has no surplus for the property tax due in January, just as the Christmas bills start rolling in. Shim-shim’s as tame and bold as your average pan handler, edging up within inches of his foot. Brett feels some kinship and tosses him a big hunk of the bun. But this sets off a chain reaction in the overstuffed onions and tomatoes and a mini-avalanche smears the logo of his shirt 9
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with mustard. He feels his temper begin to flare as it does once in a while, usually with strangers who act idiotically or a machine that ceases to work at the worst time, rising out of some unseen combination of elements like a summer squall. But he tamps down the charge he feels before it can fully ignite and just swears under his breath. “No good deed goes unpunished, right Shim-shim?” Brett says, rubbing his slight paunch to blot out the stain. Brett wishes he had thought to bring a Xanax, wishes there was a service for that like delivering a pizza. It was more discreet than a pint of whiskey yet he would settle for that now too, regardless of the killer looks he’d get if he was spotted. His father would have done the flask, bourbon being his chosen antidote for PTSD from Korea, a nice one to give it the veneer of respectability. It was only after he had been cut loose from the real estate firm late in his career, over nothing really, some invented infraction to improve the bottom line, that he began to slide. He would drink and hum some song to himself—Brett doesn’t recall it exactly—probably something from better days. It was like a wall you couldn’t get through and you couldn’t reach him then. He might as well have been on the other side of the moon. One of the parents yells, “No head butting Walter!” and the child retreats, chastened by the public rebuke. Brett takes out his wallet still gritty with sand from an expired beach pass. He starts culling it of the detritus of old matters, business cards with messages and names on the back he barely recognizes. It’s hard to believe he’s accumulated so much junk but he tends to keep wallets until the compartments have already begun to disintegrate. Then he feels the angel coin that came with some charity solicitation, falling out of the envelope into his lap. Brett’s lucky if he gets to mass once a month anymore but he’s superstitious as a fortune teller. The profile always seemed to suggest to him a reluctant angel. He wonders if he is like the figure in the Atlantis book, unsure whether the situation is serious enough to intervene. Brett scans the hill at the east edge of the park, so isolated it could be an ancient burial mound, with some chamber Tuttle secretly kept for himself. He wants to leave now but knows he must give Charlie advance notice or he will protest all the way home. “Five minutes, Charlie,” he signals, displaying that many fingers, though he knows that is only an opening bid. 10
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“Dad, watch this. I’m doing it,” Charlie screams, calling him to be witness to his first complete traverse of the ascending monkey bars, a move that has so far defeated him on every attempt. Brett doesn’t have time to put the wallet back together properly, just mashing what he wants to keep inside the main fold. He wants to get there, not even for a picture which Holly would insist on, but just to see it, fix the impression in his mind so that somehow it might crowd out a few of the other ones. He begins jogging through the obstacle course as there is only so much strength in Charlie’s arms and he doesn’t want to be the one to wreck his chances. There is no time to go around the wobbly bridge, the rocking horse, the spherical column he stoops through, keeping his eyes fixed on Charlie, who is suspended as if over a precipice, straining for every rung. “Dad, where are you?” “I got you buddy. It’s awesome.” Climbing through one last barrier, Brett turns a fraction too much so that the angle of the sun becomes like a laser, blinding him for just the two seconds it takes to render a steel bar completely invisible. He walks right into it, striking his lower forehead with enough force to send him reeling, blinking back stars. It’s a small miracle he doesn’t bellow a long curse that will be absorbed by so many innocent ears. He is just too dumbfounded perhaps, making sure his skull is intact. “You OK, dad?” Charlie says, now on the ground. Brett checks to see if his nose is broken but there is only a welt of some kind. The pain has migrated diffusely from lobe to lobe but it is manageable. Only a couple of the adults appear to be gazing his way with bemused expressions. He suppresses the urge to lash out at Charlie, ask him why he is always calling him to witness some mundane maneuver that every other kid on the block can do. But he’s vowed never to unload on him just for not knowing any better. “Yeah champ. Just a little goof up.” He immediately regrets using that term because it was exactly what his boss said when word got around about the typesetting glitch. The way Yader said it made it sound like Brett had pressed the wrong button at a nuclear missile post. Yader has set up some mysterious meeting next week with one of the head honchos and Brett can’t help wondering what that’s about. “You just need better glasses maybe?” Charlie says, trying to hand him an excuse. 11
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He takes off the useless shades which are now mangled to the point that they slant diagonally across his temples. Then the ice cream truck sidles up to the curb in the vicinity of the see-saw, playing the stale chorus of some old jingle he can’t place, as children flock to the sound, under the spell of its uncanny allure. “I bet ice cream would make you feel better,” Charlie says, timidly attempting to turn the incident in his favor. Brett recognizes this as a line he’s used himself, when his son had become inconsolable about something that didn’t go his way. “Did you make it Charlie? All the way to the top?” Brett says, shooting a daggered look at the now apparent beam that whacked him. He thinks he is going to take him to Six Flags next year no matter what. Too many things had just been thrown in the way this summer. “I thought I was going to fall but then I got some super strength. Didn’t you see?” They walk over to where there’s a line already twisting away from the van. Brett has grabbed the football on the way, hoping to coax Charlie to play catch after the bribe has been carried out. The transactions ahead of them in the queue are halting but for once Charlie has his mind set. He wants the Ironman one in the shape of the hero himself, outlined in colored ice. The Good Humor van plays the maddeningly simple melody again and again. Brett can’t fathom why these vendors always play such archaic songs. He thinks they would have changed them to hip-hop by now but perhaps there is something hypnotic in those notes, with their sprightly cadence, the pied piper returning for an encore. Brett’s pretty sure it’s the same song they used when he was a kid. Finally, it’s their turn and Charlie announces his choice. “Sorry I no have that one,” the peddler says with a kind of weary resignation, his stock depleted by now. The injustice of this hits Charlie hard, the notion that there can be a scarcity of what one wants, and he begins to squirm. “There’s other ones, my friend,” the man adds, again like he wishes the darkness would come more quickly and he could make a break for it. “Spongebob Squarepants. Look at that red flavor.” What the guy makes ferrying that contraption around must be pocket money but the exhausted indifference, the way he keeps checking his watch grates on Brett. 12
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“How about a Jolly Rancher?” Charlie says, already a little deflated. “Sold out also but we have Toasted Almond, Fudge Delight, Superbar…” The man points to where they are lifelessly depicted on the weathered chassis. For some reason, the endless loop of the tune is driving Brett crazy, makes it impossible to concentrate. It is somehow like his own mind, with its perpetual echo of mistakes. Someone behind them mutters, “C’mon, it isn’t rocket science.” “Listen, can you just turn the music off for a minute,” Brett pleads. “We just have to be able to hear ourselves think.” “Sir, this is how children know I’m here. Come from all around.” A flash of a memory emerges from somewhere, Brett’s father getting home late, in a bad temper from having lost at a card game. By the time he gives Brett the money for a cone, the truck is long gone. His unrepaired bike not an option, Brett tries to persue it but all he gets is the pollyannish chant receding in the distance. “OK, I’ll give you five bucks to cut it off just for a few minutes. I feel like some of those notes are clobbering me.” “Sir, this is my calling card. How will children know Rafael is here?” “Rafael huh, really?” Brett blurts out. “Where are the rest of your pals, Gabriel and Ariel, out saving damsels in distress?” He figures he’s getting the reverse side of the angels now, the avenging aspect. Yader keeps bubbling up in his head, how he could make things look like Brett was a one man wrecking crew. He might have convinced the old man to let him go. The car could completely fall apart next week, then the job and perhaps the marriage too for the triple crown. Rafael seems befuddled by the seraphic reference, and just shrugs, palms up. The refrain must be on its 50th round by now, with all its pounding buoyancy and Brett finally excavates the lyrics of the song: “Do your ears hang low? Do they wiggle to and fro? Do your ears hang high, do they reach up to the sky?” Before he realizes he’s even considered it, Brett hurls the football as hard as he can into the side of the vehicle, the metallic report causing all the parents lounging around the tables and behind them in line to turn his way startled, as the ball rolls end over end toward a web of chains.
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“Mister, you need to relax,” Rafael says, finally aroused from his boredom but his tone seems not so much an effort to calm Brett down as a warning. “Try being me for a day and you’d realize that’s impossible advice.” Charlie has become rapt with this exchange, starts looking at Brett like he’s some kind of lunatic. Glancing back, Brett can see people whispering, shooing their kids toward the exit, beginning to reach for their devices. The line behind them disperses as if someone had spotted lightning. It’s just a matter of time before the sirens will be in range, converging with their wails and circling beams. “It’s company policy. I can’t turn it off,” Rafael says, gathering up his stool and makeshift stand. Then he reaches inside the cab for something, perhaps a pipe or tire iron he keeps for protection. There’s a piece of a log that has broken off one of the play towers , Tuttle’s legacy breaking down like the rest of the universe, and Brett grabs it because with its heft it would at least make a dent this time. The last second before Brett rears back to heave the club, like Oog and Gloog, those wacky homo sapiens, he notices Charlie’s no longer there and then sees him approaching with Mrs. Chang. She is flushed but still forcing an uneasy smile, her inherent shyness not entirely cast off. “Mr. Hanbeck,” she calls out a little breathlessly, “Charlie’s asking for a play date with Michelle next week. Are you OK?” Brett must look absolutely deranged to Sara with that gash on the bridge of his nose, the mustard splattered across his shirt like a flame but the manner in which she nervously reaches out from so far away, as if he were drowning and she is desperate to keep him afloat disarms him, compels him to turn back. He tosses the log over toward the bushes that rim the park, where its jagged edges will be removed from the general field of play. “No, I’m alright,” Brett announces, “just clearing out a little debris.” “Charlie is so big. He’s grown a foot in six months,” she says, drawing up closer to him, Charlie trailing beside her, their diminished audience mostly returning to their private colloquies. Charlie seems to have forgotten about the dessert, his taste buds just no match for the lure of some submarine toy he’d forgotten was in his jacket. The vendor has gotten behind the wheel and ignited the engine. Brett thinks he should chase him down and apologize, maybe slip the guy a twenty for all this nonsense 14
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but he is caught in the moment, searching for a way to put everything back together again. Before he can react, the truck is gone, the last vestiges of its pitch sinking under the breeze. “Michelle is in interpretive dance, can you believe it?” Sara says, in a more comfortable mode now, some charge in the air having been defused. Sara points in the vicinity of the bouncing house, though her daughter has already abandoned it, exploring elsewhere. “I want to play some soccer, dad,” Charlie says, seeing the checkered ball near the pile of other alternatives. Brett notices most of his other companions have left as dusk approaches, their parents with places to go. “Why didn’t I think of that?” Brett says, wearily grateful for any diversion just then. Sara gives him her card and tells him to call if it works out, before trotting around a set of suspended rings to locate her daughter. “Dad, look what I found in the fountain? It looks really old or something.” He examines the coin, with its dull painted sheen and crude markings. It must have dropped into the muddy water of the clogged drain when he went for a drink, his brain still muddled from the blow. Charlie is muttering to himself about how it has bubbled up from some underground sea. The fact that they are a thousand miles from the coast does not seem to interfere with his logic. “Good work, Charlie.” “And it fits right in the seat of this ship,” he says, holding up another unlikely combination. Then another image rises in Brett like the smoke of a barbecue lit across the street, an amusement park with some flying craft of similar design when he is about Charlie’s age. It is one of those rides that flings the cars around on cables in a series of revolutions and Brett is too scared to try it. His dad, cheerful that night, perhaps having had some luck with the ponies, insists and they clamber aboard. He feels now their soaring as the forces of motion slam them back and forth against the sides, his father’s arm around him, safer than anyplace in the world.
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Pistachio Butter is Browngreen Like the Heavens Aaron Apps
“Beautiful Words. I want to suck on them.” – U. Allemann trans. P. Smith The child is a way of seeing the world as innocent, internally, when the child is already a corruption. Sometimes children sleep with children. Sometimes, to escape their forced innocence, children find a slight agency in sleeping with. A boy pretends that a dog is its husband. A girl plays master over her dollslave. When I was a child I would press my genitals against the water jets in the public pool. Every day, without doubt, someone rubs nutbutter from Whole Foods on their genitals—almond, pistachio, cashew—to solicit a dog’s tongue. There on the edge of the dog’s tongue this writing is becoming spiritual like The Secret, because in the abstraction of money this writing is worth billions of dollars to no one. To no one, which also means everyone, I am a child who knows a secret, and like Catullus I will face fuck and sodomize the wetness of no one, softly with no penis, softly in the nut-butter-of-our-conversation. I am a child, and, honestly, I don’t know how I’ll escape these shitty and evil sentences
the madison review except through the erotic feeling I feel towards other furry creatures that feel erotic towards me in our material multiplicities. The furry child, that is both me and you always, is dressed like an animal, is in these sentences with peach-fuzz-agency, I just havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t told them yet, or myself yet, or you yet, but I am moving towards telling us all, internally, without innocence. Without innocence this writing is full of truth like an essay is full of lies, like everyone is full of animals full of nutbutter, like everyone is innocent only within a failed orgasm sometimes, like everyone, internally, is a way of seeing the world spreading the crunchiness of its brown impurities. Writers are evil children who need to get back to saying crazy ass shit in the midst of their dumb deaths. Writers are puppies smeared with butter who use their tongues recklessly. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only when we realize how evil and buttery we all are that we can all find compassion to damper the evil in the fire of our blood-roasting-hearts, our hearts that bleed their nutbutter out the ethics of our faces, out the childish butter jars of our eyes like water jets into the garbage disposal of the erotic world, so warm with urine between my childish legs in the continuity of this hot tub, in the public urine between all our legs, after each arousal that hums the pleasure of its pain like a small wave in the spreading of JIFF, like choosey mothers love, mothers like children, across the fluffy-white-bread soggy and dispersing in the pool of everything.
the madison review
the madison review
Oh, Mrs. Miller!
“The baby’s been crying for half an hour,” called the old neighbor to the new mother from behind the fence, through the blooming roses almost touching the tear-soaked baby in her carriage. Beautiful, negligent Mrs. Miller slid her long feet into her shoes, left her cigarette burning, called her thanks, wheeled the carriage from that farthest garden corner back to the little house, hissing a little at the baby. “Oh, Helen Rose,” she fumed, “grow up already, why don’t you?” The wet baby, silent now, absorbed the acrid smell of the cigarette, the sharp civet undernote of her mother’s scent, and failed to understand her resentment, what it meant.
the madison review
The Long Shot Paul Curley
Glenn led Arlo to a seat close to the track. “Keep your coat on,” he told the kid. “How do you know which horse to vote for?” asked Arlo. “Bet. Bet on.” Arlo was leaning over the empty seat in front of him as the horses slowly made their way to the gate. “So?” “So what?” said Glenn. “How do you know?” “The tote board, for one.” Glenn pointed straight across the track. “It shows the odds.” Glenn twisted in his seat, systematically scanning the grandstand row by row, left to right. “What do they mean?” “What?” “The numbers on the board. What do they mean?” “Those are the odds.” Glenn paused on someone about fifteen rows up wearing a John Deere cap. “How do they work?” “When I was a kid, I used to watch to see which horse took the biggest dump on the way to the gate. Figured that one would win.” “Did it work?” “Sometimes. I have to talk to a friend of mine. You stay here and watch closely. When I get back, tell me which horse had the biggest dump, OK?” The kid watched Glenn walk away and then turned back to the horses. The only one that went was the number four horse, a large bay that was being led by a smaller pinto. A few minutes later, Glenn came back as the horses were arriving at the gate, and tapped the kid on the shoulder. “Let’s go.” There was no slack in his voice. “But the race is about to start.” “We’re going.” 20
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Glenn grabbed the kid by the hand and pulled him up the concrete steps towards the exit. In the truck, Arlo sulked for a while but it didn’t last as long as Glenn had hoped. “I bet number four won the race.” “Why’s that?” “It’s the only one that went, that’s why.” Glenn pulled a bag of sunflower seeds from a compartment on the door. He tapped the kid on the shoulder with his right hand and poured some into the kid’s cupped hands. Glenn rolled down his window and spit the shells out the window as he drove. The kid copied him, but he spit the shells into the door the first couple of tries. “What do you think the odds are that two sunflower seeds follow the exact same path?” “I don’t know.” “What are the odds that in my life I’ll breathe the same molecule of oxygen twice?” “Don’t know.” “Or that I’ll drink the same molecule of water?” “Don’t know.” “A million to one, I bet. How ‘bout that there are two identical snowflakes?” Without waiting, the kid said, “I know that one. It’s zero. Zero to one. What are the odds that someone is born? Millions of sperm and only one egg, you know.” “What do you know about that stuff ?” The kid shrugged. “Those are the odds.” “I reckon so. Birth is the biggest crapshoot there is. Then, once you’re born, the only lock is that you’ll die.” The kid spit shells out the window for a few minutes and then asked, “What are the odds that I’ll breathe in an oxygen molecule that mom once breathed?” “Don’t know.” Glenn’s phone rang. He looked to see who was calling before answering. Arlo paid close attention to Glenn’s side of the conversation as he spit shells. “Glenn. Have you tried his aunt – the name I gave you yesterday? In Wenatchee. Wheaton, but she might be married now. Yep.” They drove in and out of rainsqualls for the next two hours. When the gray bars slanted in towering columns far ahead, Arlo peppered Glenn with questions, undeterred by Glenn’s silence, but when the wipers fever21
the madison review
ishly carved out quickly disappearing pieces of pie on the windshield, Arlo fell as quiet as sleep and stared at the sky. They traveled in alternating bursts of questioning and remissive silence until Glenn veered onto an off ramp in Aberdeen. “Where we going?” The kid asked. “Just a little business.” Glenn pulled up the map on his phone. The apartment building was twenty minutes off the interstate, and it was almost dark when they pulled into the parking lot, which had once been paved but was now pocked with mud holes. “Stay in the truck,” Glenn told the boy. Arlo stared at Glenn without saying a word, but Glenn knew he must be tired of sitting in the truck. “Do not leave the truck,” he told him. “Say OK.” “OK.” As soon as Glenn disappeared into the building, the boy climbed down from the truck. He picked up a stick and thrust it into the bottom of a puddle, stirring up mud and batting around chunks of busted asphalt. Five minutes later, Glenn was returning at a half trot and he could see the kid on the other side of the truck poking around. “Get in the truck,” he yelled. “Now!” Glenn had the engine running before the kid was back in all the way. He reached over and pulled Arlo roughly by the arm and then reached across him for the door. Glenn drove fast for the road, the kid bouncing around the front seat. “Put your seat belt on.” “I will. God!” Glenn blew through stop signs and kept an eye on the rearview mirror. “I told you to stay in the truck.” The kid didn’t answer. “I told you.” “I know. You told me we were going to the horse races, too. You told me we’d make the best of it.” Glenn continued to drive quickly, trying to find the highway but making wrong turns. “Why do you keep looking in the mirror?” Arlo asked. They finally got back on the highway and Glenn sat back in his seat. “Where we going?” asked Arlo. “To a hotel.” “Where?” “Don’t know yet.”
the madison review
They drove into darkness and into rain and wind that buffeted the truck and occasionally made it shift side to side. The kid stared quietly out the window. Maybe he was too rough on him, Glenn thought, but if this were going to work out, Arlo would have to learn to follow simple instructions. They pulled into the parking lot of an Econolodge next to the highway in Chehalis. Glenn opened his door and grabbed his small bag from the back seat. The dome light was on and the kid hadn’t moved, still staring out his window. Glenn stopped moving and stared at him. The kid wiped his sleeve across his cheeks and opened his door without a word. They dropped their things in a room on the ground floor with windows facing the parking lot, and then walked the shoulder in search of a place to eat. They walked for twenty minutes before coming across a diner. Glenn chose a booth in the back. He set his phone on the table. “Hungry?” “Yeah.” “Everything OK?” “Why?” “Awful quiet.” “So are you.” “True. What are you hungry for?” “Pancakes.” “For dinner?” The idea offended Glenn somehow, but he acquiesced. “You gotta have a vegetable too. Carrots?” “OK.” Glenn thought breakfast food sounded like a good idea. It would be fast. He ordered eggs, bacon, and toast. “Bacon’s bad for you,” said Arlo. “Yeah.” “And you didn’t order any vegetable.” “Right. You’ve got a lot more living left than I do. You gotta eat right.” Arlo shrugged. “You miss school?” The kid shrugged again. “A little. I don’t miss math.” “What’s wrong with math?” “Math sucks.” “Don’t say it sucks.” “Why not?” “It doesn’t sound right out of you. Besides, it doesn’t tell me any23
the madison review
thing.” “It’s boring. And it’s hard.” Arlo took the wrapper off of his straw and dipped the straw in and out of his water to sink the ice cubes. “So how do the odds work at the horse track anyway? 12 to 1. The odds for Big Talk today were 12 to 1.” “The odds show the chances of winning for each horse according to the bettors. When the ratio is high, that means many people are betting against that horse, but it also means that it’ll pay out a lot of money if it wins. That’s called a long shot. A horse with a low ratio is a safer bet but the pay out is lower. Smart bettors try to pick a horse they feel is better than the posted odds.” “How do they know?” Glenn received a text. He checked the sender and then held the phone in his lap to reply. “How do they know?” “How do they know what?” “If the horse is better than its odds.” “They do their homework and they understand the math.” “What if there was a big tote board in the sky with the odds for everything in the world? Maybe we each have our own. The odds that we’ll live to a hundred or get an A in math or go to college or get a horse or die of cancer.” During dinner, the kid asked a string of what if questions that Glenn mostly didn’t answer. It rained all the way back to the hotel and the kid got soaked. “Don’t you have a raincoat?” Glenn asked. “Obviously not.” Glenn tried to get the kid to sleep on the floor, but he protested. Glenn was too tired to fight it so they shared the double bed. The boy got into his pajamas. “Don’t you have PJs?” he asked Glenn. “No.” Glenn placed his jeans on the floor next to the bed. He took off his shoulder holster and placed holster and gun inside the case of a spare pillow that he clutched to his body. The two lay facing away from each other. “Is it always so cloudy here?” the kid asked. “This time of year.” “Night.” “Night.” The next morning, they were looking for a Wells Fargo on a street 24
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with too many lights and delays. Glenn hated these places. He lived much of his life in the corridors of major highways that lacked the kindness, soul and beauty that lay just a few miles beyond. And the time in the truck was hard on his back. “There’s a bank there,” Arlo said. “Yeah.” “Well why aren’t you stopping?” “Not a Wells Fargo.” He had the address but given the slow progression of the street numbers, he feared that he was still many lights away. His phone rang and he pulled into a strip mall. “No, she lived on SR 28. I don’t know. A few years ago.” He hung up. “Who were you talking about?” “Your aunt.” “I don’t have an aunt.” “Yes you do.” “Who else do I have?” “Not sure.” “What are the odds that I’ve got a relative that lives in a mansion with horses and stuff ?” “Not very good, I’m afraid.” In the bank parking lot, Glenn told the kid to stay in the car. It had become the thing to say. “Why can’t I come in?” “Come on, then.” Glenn reached into his travel bag and withdrew a manila envelope. He’d counted the money before waking the kid that morning. Inside, he filled out a deposit slip and approached a teller window. Arlo watched the teller count out the pile of bills, and Glenn stuck the deposit receipt into his wallet. “Where we going?” “Down the road.” They were back on the highway. “Are you rich?” “No. Why?” “That was a lot of money” “Unfortunately, that money belongs to somebody else.” “You mean the guy at the apartment?” Glenn snapped his head around to look at Arlo. “No. My boss. I keep a commission. Do you know what that is? It’s a percentage, a small percentage.” 25
the madison review
They were only on the highway another hour before pulling back off. Glenn drove slowly down a street called Fergus, which stretched straight as a ruler through town. “We’re looking for 1070. It’ll be on your side. Help me look.” “What is it?” “A city building. Won’t look like much. Number’ll be over the doorway probably.” Arlo spotted it and Glenn parked on a side street that didn’t have meters. Glenn was surprised to see a receptionist. “Property tax records?” “Upstairs, 220.” Glenn sat at a computer for a few minutes while Arlo sat on a stool next to him, looking around the room. The place smelled like a library and made Arlo sleepy. Glenn scrolled quickly through a list of names and then stopped with a grunt of satisfaction. He slipped a small notepad from the breast pocket of his coat and jotted down an address. “Let’s go,” he said. When they got back into the truck, Glenn punched the address into his phone. He turned off the main drag and drove slowly through the neighborhoods. “What are we doing now?” “Nothing.” He slowed slightly. The house was a single story ranch with a swing set in the side yard. A motorcycle was on the front lawn and an old turquoise Dodge pickup with white side panels was in the driveway. He double checked the license number against the one that his boss had given him. Satisfied, he made his way back to Fergus St. to find a motel near the highway. After dinner that night, Glenn poured himself a tall Jim Beam on ice and Arlo drank a Coke from the vending machine. Arlo got bored watching a cartoon and sat across from Glenn at the small table by the curtained window where Glenn was playing cards. “Can I play poker too?” “This isn’t poker, it’s solitaire.” “Wanna play poker?” “Do you know how?” “Will you teach me?” “Sure.” Arlo pumped his arm in the air in celebration. “Yes!” “What?” “I figured it was a long shot that you’d say yes.”
the madison review
Glenn scratched out a ranked list of the different poker hands and set it in front of Arlo. He dealt five cards to each of them, and Arlo tried to hide his. “No, show me so I can help you.” Glenn scooted his chair next to Arlo’s and looked at Arlo’s hand. He could smell a faint soap smell, probably laundry detergent, and could hear Arlo’s slow breathing. “You’ve got a pair of 9’s.” “Is that good?” “Pretty good on the first draw.” “But a pair is at the bottom of the list.” “It’s better than a whole lot of nothing, like I have.” “Not as good as a flush.” “The odds of a flush are small.” “How small?” “About 500 to 1.” “How about a lousy pair?” “Hang on.” Carl used his phone to check. “1.36 to 1.” They played a few open hands, and Glenn showed Arlo how to choose which cards to throw aside for the second draw. Arlo went to the bathroom and Glenn poured himself another Bourbon. It was feeling good. “Glenn!” Arlo yelled from the bathroom. “Yeah?” “I’ve got a flush!” Glenn heard the toilet and Arlo came out smiling. “Get it?” Glenn smiled and nodded. When the two sat back down, Arlo said, “OK, I’m ready.” “Ready for what?” “To play for real.” Glenn dealt five down. Arlo kept a pair of 2s and threw the other 3 back. “I got lucky,” he said. “What are the odds of a royal flush?” “About 650,000 to 1. Better if you’re a prince.” Arlo drew his three cards and ended up with the pair of 2s. Glenn kept a 7-8-9 string and drew a second 8. “OK, let’s show ‘em.” “Were you and my mom ever married?” “Nope.” “What are the chances of getting cancer?” “Pretty good, it seems. If you live long enough.” “Did Mom live long enough?”
the madison review “She was pretty young, I’d say. Too young.” “She was unlucky. I don’t wanna get old.” “You will if everything goes right.” Glenn dealt another hand and Arlo had a natural three of a kind. Arlo showed Glenn. “Pretty lucky, huh?” “So Glenn?” “Yeah?” “What are we doing?” “Playing poker.” “No, I mean we’re just driving around. Don’t you work? Don’t you live anywhere?” “This is my work. I’ve told you that. I drive to meet with people.” “Why do you have a gun?” “Just in case.” “So, some of your people get lucky. But if they don’t get lucky, that’s when they see you?” “There’s no such thing as luck. There’s just math.” “Math sucks.” “So you’ve told me.” After brushing his teeth, Arlo lay in bed looking at a picture that he’d pulled from his bag. It was inside a page protector. “Whatcha got there?” Glenn asked. “It’s the northern lights.” He flashed it to show Glenn. “Mom said the lights are the spirits of dead people and that she would be there to look over me.” “She really said that?” “Yep.” Arlo paused. “But she also said the spirits were playing hockey with a walrus skull.” Arlo stared at the picture some more and then looked up at Glenn. “You think she could really be there?” “Sure, I guess so,” he lied. “There are too many clouds here. I need to go under the lights where she can see me. I need to start over.” Glenn didn’t know what to say but soon heard Arlo’s heavy breathing. Glenn’s phone then buzzed on the nightstand. It was the social worker again. She’d found the aunt. “You sure about this?” she asked Glenn. “Yeah.” “I think the sooner the better, then.” Glenn scratched down the address and phone number in his note-
the madison review book before hanging up. He imagined a conversation with his boss. This dirtbag Mallock’s got wings, his boss would say. Glenn sat on the bed next to Arlo and carefully pinched the edge of the page protector between his fingers. As he slipped the picture of the lights from Arlo’s hands, a small photo of Arlo’s mom slipped out and fell onto the bed. Glenn studied it for a few minutes. He’d made things more difficult than they needed to be, but they’d had some good times too. He looked over at Arlo and scrutinized his face as though it were a sculpture in a museum. He had his mother’s dark coloring and long eyelashes, her small ears and short chin, but he saw himself there too. Arlo’s eyebrows curved downward at an odd angle like his, and he would have his nose. Sometime past midnight, Glenn left a note for Arlo just in case and slipped out. He parked the truck around the block and walked with his hood over his head. His hands were buried in the pockets of his raincoat, a GPS locator in his right hand. He turned a corner and was relieved to see the white side panels. He knew where to put the locator, and the magnetic side attached immediately. He looped around the block back to his truck. The next morning, Arlo was holding the picture of the lights in the truck. “What’s she like?” he asked. “I don’t know.” “How can you leave me with someone that you don’t even know? What kind of dad are you?” “Exactly.” “Exactly what?” “Never mind. I knew her once upon a time, but never very well. Back then, she looked like your mother. She was nice. I’m sorry.” “For what?” “That I don’t know more.” The kid asked questions about school and his aunt’s house, about how many kids she had and if she was married. Glenn answered that he didn’t know a few more times, and then he just stopped answering at all. Eventually, Arlo fell asleep. Glenn had the directions up on his phone but was working mostly from memory. He turned onto State Route 28 a few miles from Anne’s house. A large water tower with a faded rainbow painted onto the side jogged his memory, causing him to cut his speed and drive with his right wheels on the shoulder past mailboxes, eyeballing the houses until he spotted the right one. The tires crunched over the gravel drive and the truck coasted to a stop. Arlo bolted upright and periscoped the yard with alarmed eyes. The house was a washed out blue that matched the sky. Piles of scrap 29
the madison review
metal, stumps, and an old boat littered the front yard, and weeds sprouted up from the middle of a bathtub on the side of the house. Glenn walked around to Arlo’s side and opened his door. Arlo wasn’t moving. “What’s wrong?” Glenn asked. “Where is she?” He was studying the house. “Inside, I guess.” Just then, the front door opened and Anne stepped out, letting the storm door slam shut. Glenn grabbed Arlo’s bag from the back seat and they walked over. “Anne Wheaton?” He held out his hand. “Glenn.” “I remember.” Neither hand nor voice held any warmth. He couldn’t blame her. “Arlo, this is your Aunt Anne.” “Hello, Arlo.” Anne held out her hand. She smiled nice enough. Arlo shook her hand and then Glenn handed Arlo his bag. “Bye, kid.” He tousled Arlo’s hair. Arlo backed away from his hand and squinted up at him. “Bye, Glenn.” “Alright, then,” Anne said. “Alright then. Thanks, Anne.” “Uhuh.” When he turned towards the truck, Glenn could hear Arlo ask, “So do you have any kids? Do you have any pets?” Then the storm door banged shut again. The drive west was quiet. Glenn imagined Arlo’s anxious stream of questions and commentary back at Anne’s. He stopped at an Astro in Yakima for gas and noticed as he climbed back into the truck that the picture of Arlo’s mom was lying on the floor. It must have slipped out of the page protector. Glenn set it on the seat in Arlo’s place, and before starting the truck he checked his phone. Shit. Mallock was on the move. Somewhere near Spokane, but which direction? He returned the nozzle to the pump and parked to the side near the air pumps. Why hadn’t he checked earlier? If he were on his game, he would have. He stayed until he could get a read on his direction. Idaho. Goddamn it. “Yeah, I know. Wings. But I’m on it,” he told his boss. Maybe Mallock was on a collection run. He could only hope. Glenn’s cut alone would be enough to set him for a while. Glenn chose not to be in a hurry. Sometimes that works. He caught up to Mallock at a motel in Moscow, Idaho, where the truck with the white panels was parked in front of a ground floor unit. Glenn’s boss called anybody who owed him money a dirtbag, but Glenn knew that he and Mallock 30
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were the same kind of dirtbag. Without ever meeting Mallock, Glenn was confident that he could think like him, something that would help him catch him. Mallock walked out of his unit just after sunrise. He was tall and slender, clean cut hair, leather coat and dress boots. As Glenn followed him out of town, curiosity kept him in Mallock’s slipstream. He watched him with the same rapture with which a fisherman looks at a great fish that passes by the boat before ripping on the bait and taking it deep. Once on the highway, Glenn let Mallock slip out of sight. The road meandered along the Salmon River into the Clearwater Mountains, a nice break from the monotony of the major highway corridors. Glenn had to be patient. When Mallock rested, Glenn rested, and when Mallock was on the move, Glenn followed just out of eyesight. He rode Mallock’s wake over the Bitterroots to Missoula where he waited outside a bar near the university and again in the parking lot of an apartment complex. His back ached, but he had to stay patient. He had a second GPS locator that he kept fully charged, and swapped it with the one on the truck whenever he had a chance. He followed Mallock the next day back into Idaho, over Galena Summit and into the Sawtooths to Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey. That was two more days of whiling away the hours on the sidelines, watching people entering and leaving restaurants and bars, people with friends and family. What kind of life is this? Always the life I’ve chosen, he told himself. It was a gamble to wait so long, but he figured the longer he waited, the more money Mallock collected. As far as he could tell, he hadn’t unloaded anything yet. On the third day, Glenn followed Mallock over two hundred miles to Lewiston, where Mallock checked into a cheap motel near the casino. Glenn was sitting in the parking lot. Mallock seemed to make three more collections that day and Glenn knew that he should now be tired. His phone rang. Shit. The social worker. He picked up. “Glenn.” “Hey Glenn. Heard from Anne Wheaton today. It’s not working out, sorry to say. We need you to pick up Arlo.” “When?” “Soon as possible. Can you make it tomorrow?” “I’m working.” “We can put him in foster care.” “Shit. No, don’t do that,” he heard himself say. “All right, then. I’ll call her to work out the time.” His mind was racing. He got off the phone and patted his front coat pocket to make sure he still had the notebook with Anne’s contact 31
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info. It would have to be tonight. He liked his chances of catching up with Mallock on the move, rather than in his room, but he’d have to be more opportunistic than he’d like. He sat in the parking lot watching Mallock’s truck another hour until darkness fell, and before going to dinner Glenn slapped a fresh GPS locator underneath. Glenn ate a slow meal with his phone on the table just in case. If Mallock moved, he wanted to know it right away, but Mallock wasn’t going anywhere soon. He pictured him stretched out on top of his bed with his shoes off. That’s what he’d be doing – would like to do now. He asked the waitress for a refill on coffee. After dinner, he went back to the motel and parked on the street where he could see the Dodge. He walked the sidewalk to stretch his back, and time crept like an old man. He hoped Mallock would leave the motel. It would be easier that way. The temperature was dipping and Glenn got back into the truck. He checked his phone for what seemed like the thousandth time that night. Just past eleven. Then he saw the white side panels moving through the parking lot and onto the road, turning left away from Glenn. Glenn followed by sight, but far enough behind, straight to the casino. Just a few minutes later, Glenn was marking Mallock among the crowded blackjack tables. Mallock was sitting at a 5 buck table and looking all over the place. Then he switched to a table where he could face the other way, and Glenn pivoted so that he could see what Mallock was looking at. Again, Mallock seemed to be scanning the room. A man in a brown suede coat walked by two tables over, and Mallock seemed to be watching him. Glenn was just guessing that Mallock wouldn’t risk the guy losing his money when Mallock made his move. The guy with the suede coat walked through the salon of roulette tables and turned into the hallway towards the bathrooms. Mallock walked briskly after him. Glenn waited by the roulette tables. Two minutes later, Mallock walked past Glenn towards the main entrance. Glenn followed him out to the parking lot. His chance was coming. He had to feel it out. When Mallock drove out of the casino parking lot, Glenn was right behind. Mallock drove with purpose in the direction of the motel but continued past it, jumping onto the highway. Two exits later, he turned right and drove straight to a bank that was situated on a corner with the ATMs around back. Mallock pulled into the parking lot and Glenn parked on the side street in a spot that would be blind to Mallock. He left his door ajar and approached the back corner of the building on a patch of grass. He carefully poked his head around and spied Mallock standing in a well-lit patio. Mallock looked over his right shoulder to the parking lot, but Glenn was to his 32
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left. He was sticking the money into an envelope. He reached into his front right pocket for the card and slipped it into the slot. Again he checked his right shoulder and then punched in the numbers. Glenn held his gun ready, listening for the beeps that would let him know the machine was ready to accept the cash, and he moved in. Just as he did so, Mallock checked over his shoulder again. Glenn brought the blunt butt of the gun down on his head but Mallock moved just enough that it was a glancing blow at best. There was a scuffle, but Mallock was dizzy. He grasped Glenn’s coat and tugged at it, trying to grapple with him, but Glenn was able to crack him in the back of the head again. He caught him with his left hand and laid him onto the pavement gently. By now the machine was beeping. Mallock’s session about to time out. Glenn pushed the buttons each time the machine asked if he wanted to continue as he counted what was in the envelope. It was most of what Mallock owed his boss. He checked the account balance and withdrew just enough to make up the difference. He tucked the debit card into Mallock’s coat pocket before leaving him unconscious on the patio. On the state highway heading north, he felt different somehow, and by the time he got to the interstate he knew much had changed. The road in front of him didn’t have to confine him to a shit life but could potentially lead him out of it. He knew that he wouldn’t be looking for a Wells Fargo. Not this time. At 7am he phoned Anne to tell her that he was an hour out. “Can you have him ready to go?” When his tires crunched over the gravel and came to rest on Anne’s drive, Arlo and Anne walked out, the storm door banging behind them. “Glenn,” Anne said. “Morning.” “Sorry ‘bout this.” “It’s alright.” “We gave it a good shot.” She was speaking to Arlo, who was standing next to her. “I guess you’re stuck with me now, huh?” Glenn said to Arlo. Arlo shrugged. “I guess so.” “Say good-bye to your aunt.” Arlo and Anne shook hands. “So what are we gonna do?” Arlo asked as they walked to the truck. “Ever been to Canada?” Anne was still standing in front of the house and waved good-bye as they pulled away. “So what’re we gonna do in Canada, just drive around and stuff ?” “I thought maybe you’d like to be right under the lights for a 33
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while.” “For real?” “Sure.” Glenn shared sunflower seeds with Arlo and Arlo sat up straight and spit the shells out the window like Glenn. Glenn occasionally looked over at him and felt exhausted but content. They’d been on the road about an hour when Glenn thought to check the GPS locator. He didn’t know what made him check it now, or why he hadn’t checked it before, but he was shocked to see that Mallock was about seventy miles from Wenatchee. Glenn’s mind raced through the explanations. He pulled over the first chance he had to check the truck. He couldn’t find a GPS locator. But how could he know where I’m going? Then he remembered Anne’s address. He felt his coat pocket and it was gone. Shit. It must have fallen out in the scuffle at the ATM. He phoned Anne. “Look, he’s a pro and probably won’t hurt you, but you should leave the house just in case.” “Shit. Goddamn you, Glenn. You never were good for nothin’, you know that?” He remembered that Anne was still in the yard when he and Arlo talked about going to Canada. Shit. He hung up. An hour later, he checked his phone and Mallock appeared to have arrived at Anne’s house. He placed his phone in his lap with the locator app up. He had a good head start on Mallock, he kept telling himself. A few minutes later, Glenn checked the phone again and Mallock was gone. The possibilities rushed at him one by one like the dotted lane dividers. Maybe the batteries died. Unlikely. Mallock found it. Likely. Why would he have even looked? Anne told him that Glenn had warned her. Bingo. Would she have told him where they were going? It was hard to say. Anyway, Mallock’s obviously a good tracker but Canada’s a big place and there are a lot of crossings. The one he ought to worry about is his boss. Won’t be long before he figures it out, and he’s got more eyes than a spider. Arlo asked Glenn, “So are we going to Canada to stay forever?” “You got other plans?” “No.” “We’ll see. It’s a long shot, but we might just pull it off.” They arrived at the border in the afternoon while Arlo was sleeping against the door. There was no line. “ID?” the Canadian immigration agent asked. His eyes switched from Glenn’s picture to his face. He then scanned the cab, finally settling on Arlo. “And who’s traveling with you today?” Glenn looked at Arlo and told the agent, “My son.”
the madison review
the madison review
Juan Wallace Undergraduate Poetry Prize
Dahmer, Darling Emily Hegland
Based on the accounts of Tracy Edwards
jeff works third shift at the ambrosia chocolate factory – tonight is his night off and i am just his type. says he will take my photo. says he will undress me. says he will put his lips on my body. i say i’d like that. the smell of bleach and sin and whiskey fume in the hallway. public housing, not his fault – some strange folks live in this building. he wiggles the key in the lock the peeling door swings open the apartment exhales releases the wretched stench to the world. he asks if i want a drink. no, thank you. i don’t think
the madison review
i can stomach it. thick and chemical, the odor hangs like fog and jeff doesn’t bat an eye. insists i have a drink. insists we share a night cap. i finally ask, gilded laugh to my glass, man, you gotta tell me – what is that godawful smell? he grins, coy leads me by leash with my tie to his room. my freezer broke yesterday. everything spoiled. and he’s kissing me but the smell isn’t coming from the freezer. it’s coming from here. formaldehyde. his mouth becomes putrid, my tongue dries. breathing becomes an exercise planned like a feint in chess. in the corner i spot the bulging barrel; blue and fat, industrial. the kind they use to ship cargo labeled ‘hazardous’ and ‘dangerous’. and its made its way into my lungs, that pregnant, synthetic scent, asphyxiating. he leads me to his bed, the excorcist III on tape 37
the madison review
and he keeps watching over my shoulder with covert glimpses, sweet-talking buttons from my buttonholes i say iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m feeling well â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but jeff has a smooth silver blade against my cheek he listens to my chest, beating in syncopated, cautionary song says he will swallow my heart.
the madison review
Robert Evory At the edge of the pond where the lilacs grow I watch golden and grey fish swim across the surface. They peck where the water meets the air at mosquitoes like a gentle kiss with their fish-lip-pucker. I see them disappear into the lightless muddy bottom like the losing of a memory. When I see a fish it is unknown if it is new or returned. Some time ago a women kissed me under circumstances where we should not be kissing, but we were in a condition where we likely would. The memory will fall and creep, in and out of the dark, the memory will peck at my surface: her perfume, her pink touching mine, closed eyes, hand on her back. We pecked through the night at the edge of our promises and vows, her in the water and me in the air, we meet there consuming something that lets her return to what I only know as a dark room and me to the house with a fist of flowers.
the madison review
the madison review
The Pontecorvo 1884 Charlotte Kupsh
In the summer of 1884, Andrew builds rafts for the Eau Claire Lumber Company. In the heat of the afternoon, the first drops of rain are a relief. The sun here seeps inside his bones, boiling the skin and coating the lumbermen in sweat. No heat in Norway could ever have touched this, he thinks. The walls of the sawmill hold sweat to the body as snugly as the tightly sandwiched courses of lumber he loads onto the raft. The logs themselves perspire and often slip from the mens’ hands like soap in a bath. The rain feels heavenly on his neck. Andrew doesn’t know it yet, but the city of Eau Claire is teetering on the cusp of change—in more ways than one. He has arrived in Eau Claire at exactly the right and wrong time. When the logging started in the 1850s, there were 46 billion board feet of lumber in the Chippewa Valley, all there for the taking. Tree trunks abounded like rabbits in the springtime and a man could swing an ax in a circle and take down six trees without batting an eye. In 1850, the land around the Chippewa River was full of opportunity and promise. Now, there are only 15 billion feet of lumber left. The pinery men once called inexhaustible is disappearing. They build railroads to go deeper into the woods and return on foot, retracing their steps to capture smaller trees they passed over the first time. They cut everything they can find but the process is longer, harder, and the river, once overflowing with lumber rafts, is now more often than not only rushing water. There are many things Andrew Johnson cannot yet see. For now, what he knows is this: he can look at bare planks of wood and imagine how they will fit into the rafts they build in the mills. In
the madison review his mind, things seem to fit together like his sister Sarah’s puzzles. It’s only a matter of numbers and patterns, a process that habituates quickly. Step one, place the runners. First, they lay the frame. Two sixteen-foot planks laid end-to-end create two thirty-two foot runners. Step two, drill the grub pins. Next, they drill four-foot grub pins through the bottom of each runner’s corners. The pins will hold the lumber to the frame. Step three, lay the courses. Next come the layers of lumber, each tier crisscrossing the last. They lay sixteen courses, each held tight by the grub pins. Step four, place the binders. The courses are covered by top planks that fit into the end of the grub pins, and the lumber is sandwiched tightly between the runners and the binders. For hundreds of yards around the sawmill, the air is thick with the heavy smell of wood. He brings it home with him, feels the dust on his body as he undresses. He has never minded. It is good to keep busy. The rain is falling a little harder now, but it still feels good. Step five, cap the witches and drive the wedges. The witches, heavy iron clamps, cap the end of each grub pin to tighten the lumber sandwich. Driven into the top of each grub pin, the wedges keep them from slipping downward. The entire product, assembled in the outdoor rafting sheds, is called a crib. The cribs are tipped into the water and lashed together, seven cribs long and four cribs wide, to make a lumber raft which, laden with bundles of shingles, lath, and pickets to sell along the way, is fitted with oars for steering and sent on its way down the Chippewa River, raftsmen balanced atop it. The process is not hard to memorize. Lay the runners, drill the grub pins, lay the courses. Place the binders, cap the witches, drive the wedges. Tip the crib into the water. Seven cribs make a string, four strings make a raft. Wave goodbye, and repeat. The rafts float down the Chippewa to the Mississippi and from there, they sometimes go as far as St. Louis— much further south than Andrew has ever been. It is good to keep busy—it is not good to have too much time to think. Binders, witches, wedges, tip. Cribs, strings, raft, wave goodbye. Andrew likes the rafts, enjoys imagining the raftsmen winding their way through the river’s curves and dips and approaching the great Mississippi. There’s comfort in knowing how the rafts can stay afloat, most of their weight under the water’s surface, and he likes to listen to the raftsmen talk about how it feels to walk on the tilting lumber. ** It is about to rain in Eau Claire County. The year is 2013. The toogreen trees are fighting against the wind, their colors violently contrasted by the dark grey sky. The air is heavy. Wind sweeps around the Chippewa Bike Trail, winding its way across town, hugging the riverbank and circling the city. People rush across the university’s footbridge, scurrying dots against
the madison review a dark sky. Umbrellas open like rapidly sprouting mushrooms as the storm sirens begin to wail. Students gather in clusters at the crosswalk of a busy intersection, waiting for the walk sign as cars rush by and everyone scampers to the safety of waiting cars. The sirens scream and the rain begins—gently, gently—to fall in large, pregnant drops. ** The raindrops are marring the surface of the river as the lumbermen tip another crib into the water. The rain has evolved from a drizzle to a steady downpour, assaulting their necks and faces. This late in the summer, the sun sets lazily, the light disappearing slowly, and then suddenly, they are in darkness. The day isn’t over, though. Andrew arrived in Eau Claire just after the Sawdust Strike of 1881 when the lumbermen tried demanding shorter, ten-hour days. They didn’t succeed, and today, they will work until the last crib is complete and the work is finished. The work is never really finished, though, and the days roll into one another so quickly life feels stacked together as tightly as the lumber cribs. Andrew doesn’t know it yet, but in eight years, the lumbermen will get their ten hours. He doesn’t know it yet, but the city is about to change—the logging industry is dying, and the mill around him will soon fade away. New industries will develop and the city will move on—but never quite what it was. He works steadily, not thinking of the opportunity he missed. The courses crisscross all the way up to the binders like a lattice-top pie and he lays each one carefully. Cribs, strings, raft, wave goodbye. The raftsmen laugh and shout profanities as they float away, but they know their days are running out. They do not know it yet, but in 2013, this is a story Midwestern American schoolchildren can recite from memory. We traded with the Native Americans for beaver pelts and animal furs until the animals ran out. We cut down trees and made lumber to sell until the trees ran out. We settled on land and pushed westward until the land ran out. Andrew Johnson does not know that his life is already becoming a history lesson just as he does not realize he has entered the logging industry as it draws one last, rasping breath, just minutes before its death. He does not realize it yet, and why should he? For Andrew, Eau Claire seems temporary. There are better things waiting just around the corner, as close as the raftsmen who have only just slipped around the bend of the river. Runners, grub pins, courses. It never rained this hard in Sogn, but he would not mind the rain if it weren’t for the river. By nine o’clock at night, they say it has risen nearly ten feet. He shudders and tries to take his mind off the unnatural, roiling surface. If it continues, they will not send any rafts tomorrow. The men leave for the day, pulling their collars up over their faces and crossing the Barstow Street Bridge over the Eau Claire River. Still in sight of the sawmill,
the madison review
they duck one by one into the nearest tavern, a nightly tradition. In 1884, there are more than 100 saloons in Eau Claire, and this is why Andrew arrived in the city at just the right time. They say lumbermen are only interested in things that come in bottles or bodices, and Andrew deals primarily in the former. They also say liquor is the monster of inequity and the most serious of sins—but how could it be the monster it’s painted when it helps them relax at the end of the day? Cribs, strings, raft, wave goodbye, have a drink. It is his first year in Eau Claire. He does not know it yet, but over the next six years, the city will lose over four thousand residents, citizens vanishing like the last of the lumber rafts, onto bigger and newer things. Nine of the sawmills will close before the turn of the century and the limping city of Eau Claire will starve, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Prohibition is coming to Eau Claire, too—men will dump out hundreds of bottles into the winter snow and the teetotalers will champion the cause of temperance. But as Andrew drinks, his thoughts are far from the coming storm about which he can know nothing. Runners, grub pins, courses. Gradually, talk turns to the rain and to the raftsmen already gone down the river. “What happens if it floods and they’re on the river?” “If they’re close enough to another sawmill, they might be able to get the raft ashore. We’ve lost rafts before—it’s not cheap, so for the sake of everyone’s pay, let’s hope the rain stops.” Andrew is thinking about the water and how, at home, Sarah is probably getting nervous. She told him she is afraid of the rain—she is afraid of water rushing around her and swallowing her whole. Sometimes at night, he is woken by her hands on his shoulders, shaking him and quietly whispering that when she closes her eyes, all she can see is James’s face. She says she can hear the captain of the Pontecorvo shouting, the other passengers screaming, and, above it all, their little brother coughing and coughing, trying to expel some invisible aggressor from his body. Sometimes, it seems the Pontecorvo is waiting in every dull moment and around every mental corner, sailing in and out of the mind with speed it lacked in real life. He— “You’re looking broody, Johnson.” He looks up and shakes his head, giving a chuckle. It is fine, he is fine. He turns his mind back to the rafts, thinking about the neat way the pieces of lumber fit into one another, tightly, completely. Binder, witches, wedges, tip. ** An hour later, he crosses the Kelsey Street Bridge over the Chippewa River. The rain slips off his coat in sheets, hitting the ground at intervals with a sound like a slap. His fifteen-minute walk feels easily three times as 44
the madison review
long in the rain. The river that cuts through the city like veins through a body is rushing, lathered with foam, its eyes rolling back to show the whites as the water churns in great waves. Most days, the river is the city’s heart, beating with the trappings of industry and profit, but right now, it is a trap—a roiling, angry being opening up to collect water from the sky. It grows stronger as it surges through the valley, widening banks of its own accord and swelling and swallowing to wash away pieces of land. His sister is happy to see him. Fourteen years old—almost a grownup—but she still presses her face into his wet coat seconds after he gets in the door. “It’s raining,” she says in a low voice. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?” “I can’t sleep.” He doesn’t need to ask. “You can sit up with me.” He finds the trousers that have begun to rip along the seams. Their mother is a seamstress and, after the long hours she spends mending other family’s clothes, it always feels almost cruel to ask her to repair the clothes he wears to pieces in the lumberyard. The pads of his fingers are calloused enough to not feel the stab of the needle against his skin. He pulls the threaded needle in and out, in and out. Sarah is already asleep, head propped up against her hand and brow unfurrowed at last. ** One hundred and twenty-nine years later, intertubes left abandoned on front porches blow into the streets as cars speed through intersections. The rain is heavier and everyone is trying to get home now, now. A man with an army-issue camouflage backpack bursts into a sprint across the footbridge as the rain intensifies, more pressurized than the average shower. A girl crosses Water Street with a sodden Volume One magazine over her head. The pressure of the water pulls the pages to the ground one by one. The first pieces of hail send the remaining pedestrians shooting off the streets and under every available roof—bus shelters, open buildings, trees... Cars roll slowly down the streets, wipers flipping ineffectually. Some drivers drift toward the center, lights blinking as they move through traffic in ghostly isolation. Frozen chunks of water fall from the sky heedlessly. It is June and the weather is from an apocalyptic film, but it is happening and they cannot stop it. ** The crack of lightning wakes him with a start. It is a real storm now—maybe they’re at its heart and it will be over soon, he thinks. He wonders about the raftsmen on the Chippewa, glad he is not one of them. 45
the madison review Andrew’s quickened breath slowly falls into harmony with his father’s quiet snores, a familiar rhythm Andrew has been listening to for his entire life. Otherwise, the house is quiet save for the rain—everyone is still asleep, even Sarah. Is she sleeping well? It’s funny how her nightmares seem more real than his own memories; he can close his eyes and forget the Pontecorvo, but nothing will erase her whispered descriptions of terror from his mind. Her nightmares are different than any dream he’s ever had, most of all because they seem to haunt her even when she is awake. More than once, he has found her standing very still, eyes fixed on some unseen object, oblivious for a moment to the world around her. Although she will sometimes try to make a joke of it, he suspects she is back on the ship, crossing the torrid Atlantic on the worst night of their lives. In the morning, thunder rumbles vaguely in the sky, a reminder of the still-threatening rain. By the time Andrew gets to the mill, the rain has saturated his clothes thoroughly. Drips of water run down his skin. By lunchtime, everyone’s eyes are on the rising river. It is too high to assemble rafts for fear they’ll be washed away. The foremen make worried sounds as they inspect the riverbanks. Instead of cutting lumber, the men assemble on the banks, as close to the water’s edge as they dare. Some of the older men are talking about the last big flood—long before Andrew’s time—when the river crept in so far that the bottom floors of houses were covered in water. “My sister’s dog got swept away in that. He yowled and cried like you’d never heard. Tried to swim, but there was a current in the middle of the street, and he got caught in it, and that was it.” Already, there is visible evidence of the water’s first spoils. Branches of trees, debris left too near banks, and—most worrying of all—the waterlogged remnants of lumber from mills further upstream. Ordinarily, the river is the greatest asset to a sawmill, but this river has acquired a mind of its own. Suddenly, their greatest tool has become their greatest threat. Andrew imagines how far the water will have to rise to carry away the wooden cribs not yet assembled into rafts, how quickly the rushing water will send the stacked bundles of lath spinning miles down the river, and even how much rain it might take for the water to steal away some of the big, uncut logs, still waiting in their piles until it is time to turn them into planks and boards. Surely, the water is not high enough for that. He closes his eyes to the chatter around him—he has heard enough of the flood stories. Even in the darkness, he can still see water all around him. The ground rocks under his feet as though he is on the water, balanced on a raft. The stories of the other lumbermen become the murmured prayers of a dozen old women. Sarah—whatever she is doing now, he knows she is there, too, standing on the deck of the Pontecorvo with the water all
the madison review around them. She is next to him, afraid. What can he do for her? He cannot stop the rain. When the sawdust begins to float in thick, brown pools, the men slip away from the mill. The foremen wipe sweat from their brows as they count the number of logs already lost to the water. There are shouts for all hands to stay, to drag the logs to higher ground and reassemble the piles of stock elsewhere, but the men shake their heads. “This water keeps rising, those bridges won’t last,” one says. “I have family. My little boy’s sick—I can’t be trapped over here with them all over there. It’s dangerous.” Andrew Johnson does not know it yet, but as they turn and walk away from the sawmill, the foremen’s shouts echoing behind them, they are starting the basis for another sawdust strike. Four years ago, they would have all stayed—stayed or risked losing a whole week’s pay. Now, though, with whispers of impending unionization and coming higher wages rippling through the mills, paycuts seem to be less threatening, impermanent threats. The water has at least given them that. Water pools in the streets. Large puddles morph into lakes that are larger still. In some places, the lakes run together and stretch out to meet the river, pushing and creeping over its banks like a fat, greedy animal. There is one such lake in front of the Chippewa Avenue house. Andrew rushes to the door, thinking—they’ll have to move everything up to the second floor. It’s too dangerous. My sister’s dog got swept away in that. He yowled and cried like you’d never heard. Tried to swim, but there was a current in the middle of the street, and he got caught in it, and that was it. “Andrew.” His mother opens the door before he can reach it. “Upstairs,” he says, almost at the same time. “We have to go upstairs. The water—” “Andrew. Your father—” “What?” She puts a hand to her mouth and shakes her head. “What?” His own voice is sharper than the one he knows, as though the shape of his throat has changed. “He’s not here.” Her voice is panicked and, suddenly, he is eleven years old and his mother is shouting for him and his siblings with reckless, single-minded terror. The water outside is the ocean with its waves and chunks of ice. His stomach aches like he has been running—but there is no time for that now. “Go upstairs, now. Take whatever you can carry, and make sure Sarah and Tom go with you.” Her eyes are wide, shamelessly frightened. He expects to feel the same fear. Instead, the strong, sharp voice comes out of his mouth again. “Go now.”
the madison review He feels a hand slip into his. “I’m scared,” Sarah whispers. He looks down at her. There are tears pooling in her eyes—he realizes suddenly that these are her nightmares come to life. “Can I stay with you?” she asks. “You have to go upstairs,” he tells her. “It’ll be okay.” One hand rises automatically, smoothing down her hair. He remembers his father telling them the same thing on the Pontecorvo, and how little it meant—and how it meant even less when James died in Quebec weeks later, coughing himself to death. It will be okay. He doesn’t know—can’t know—that it’s true. This is not the same, he tells himself. He puts his hands on his sister’s shoulders. “Everyone is afraid, Sarah. It’s okay to be afraid. But you have to be brave, too, for everyone else.” She shakes her head. “Andrew, I can’t. The water...” “This is not like before.” This is not the ocean, he tells himself again. This is but a river. It is water—only water. He does not know if it is true. ** The city has changed, but the river has not. It rushes on, repeating the work of centuries—the water rises, the banks expand, and the water runs—with an eerie sentience. If the storm allows, the river will take over the Chippewa Trail, swallow the Putnam Rock outcrop, consume Owen Park and its tennis courts, and even creep onto First Avenue by way of swiftly rising streams of water. When the river floods, time stops. The front yards are deserted and the roads quiet. Water is the original, perpetual resident of Eau Claire. The houses are different and the streets are paved, but it remembers the easy paths down sidewalks and into gardens. It returns with familiar swiftness: enveloping, consuming, filling. The human inhabitants of the city—the second inhabitants—can only sit on front porches, on rooftops, and by picture windows and watch as the water returns, rushing easily and comfortably through their lives. For years, they have been not living but only squatting on this land; in the end, the water always returns. The bridges are higher and stronger than they used to be, made of cement and steel instead of wood, but the river pays no mind. It beats against the pylons with a veracity identical to that of a century ago. There are cars now, and pipelines, gas mains, and a dozen other improvements still unable to withstand the pure persistence of water. A thousand medical, infrastructural, and scientific advances cannot halt rising water. A hundred years later, the residents of Eau Claire still have not found a way to fight back, still cannot claim a response other than fear—fear of the water that is simply not supposed to do this but is doing it all the same, as it has done, as it will do.
the madison review The years change, but the story is the same: it is raining in the city of Eau Claire. ** It has been ten years since Andrew prayed—ten years since he clutched a rosary and said the words over and over again, just as his grandmother taught him in Norway. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen. Pray for us at the hour of our death, pray for us, pray for us, pray... Polish by birth and blood and a Catholic before it was legal in Norway, she taught her entire progeny from infancy. Andrew has known the prayer all his life. He does not know if it will do them any good. He prays now anyway, eyes closed. His mother is singing to them in a soft, wavering voice. Hail Mary, full of grace... There are all kinds of noises outside—doors slamming shut, indeterminable crashing, people shouting, crying—but they have not looked outside in hours. He keeps his eyes closed and imagines his mother is not paralyzed with fear and the shouting outside does not come from someone terrified for their life. A loose window shutter taps against the house. It could not do so if the water was high enough to be dangerous, he tells himself. He doesn’t need to open his eyes if he can hear the shutter as it taps steadily in the wind. The sound underscores his mother’s singing and becomes a part of his prayer. Hail Mary, Hail Mary, tap tap tap, full of grace, tap tap tap, our Lord is with thee, tap tap tap. His breaths come in short, quick inhales, aligning with the tapping of the shutter. He feels his heartbeat in his lips. His father has not returned. Only two days ago, his only thoughts were the rafts. He can picture himself helping to place the runners, drilling the grub pins, layering the courses of lumber. Hail Mary, full of grace, tap tap tap. Binders are next, then the witches. Binders, witches, wedges, tip. Seven lumber cribs make a string, four strings make a raft. Place the steering oars, load the raft, and wave goodbye. Blessed art thou among women, tap tap tap. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, tap tap tap. The Eau Claire Gas Company, where his father works, is close to the river. He does not need to look at his mother to know that, in her mind, she is there, searching for her husband in a factory she has never seen but somehow knows. Holy Mary, mother of God, tap tap tap. Binders, witches, wedges, tip, tap tap tap. Her lips form the words to the songs to which her lungs give a hollow tune, but her mind is in the factory, walking down its hallways and opening doors, calling for her husband and looking for his jacket, his hat, his boots. Has she begun to search the river, as Andrew has in his own mind? Pray for us sinners now and at the hour—tap tap tap—of our death. The hour of our death. The hour of our death. His closed eyes scan the water for his fa-
the madison review ther’s struggling form in the rushing water and see him clinging to the shore, to the rocks, to the framework of a bridge. Cribs, strings, raft, wave goodbye. Hail Mary, full of grace... The Lord is with thee... Blessed art thou among women... Blessed art thou—blessed... He waits, blessed art thou among women, but the tap tap tap does not come. He mouths the words quickly. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners. His eyes open to darkness. Almost immediately, he sees the water. It is higher—much higher. One of their neighbors is pushing a makeshift raft through the water, which reaches almost to his neck. His face is red and contorted with the effort. Pieces of furniture, debris, and even something that looks like a piece of lumber from the mill float much higher than street level. There are pieces of machinery spinning down the street through the water, and something that looks almost like the metal door of a streetcar— but that’s impossible; the streetcars run on the other side of the river... The river. This is the river. The fire bells are clanging, steam whistles are shrieking, and his ears suddenly begin to process the sound of screams. “We have to leave,” he says. His voice takes the same unfamiliar, sharp tone. “Now.” There is a terrible crash, the sound of something ripping, magnified. His mother’s singing abruptly stops. Goosebumps erupt on his forearms. There is another crash. “The bridges!” he hears someone shout. Suddenly, he can see it happening, in the same way he can look at a piece of lumber and see the raft it will become—the Price Street Bridge losing its hold as the water pours over the rocks, ripping away from its pylons and being swept, rolling, into the Milwaukee Bridge. The two tumble over one another, their combined force no match for the Kelsey Street Bridge, the same one he crossed a lifetime ago. “We have to go.” The gas lights are out, but the moon reflects on the rivers of water. There are people everywhere, swimming or fleeing on anything that floats. Andrew realizes with a start that his neighbors have piled their children and possessions onto a lumber crib from the sawmill. “Andrew!” The Bentsens are their closest neighbors, by both distance and tongue. His father has been playing cards with Petyr every Sunday since they moved to Eau Claire, the men trading old stories and the wives sewing and watching the children. With the Bentsens, Eau Claire feels more like home. His mother smiles more. “Andrew!” Petyr is waving his arms. “Bring them over here, there’s room!” He points to the lumber crib.
the madison review Andrew does not know it, but later, he will vividly remember passing his siblings out the window one by one. He will remember Sarah’s fingernails digging into his arms as he whispers to her to hold onto Petyr. He will remember how, as his mother puts her arms around him and refuses to open her eyes to the water beneath them, that sharp, commanding voice starts to sound like his own. He will not remember the moment when he drops from the window to the water and swims, arm over head, through the water, shoulders aching and legs kicking, helping Petyr push the crib as far out of the current as they could. He will only remember the symphony of words repeating in his head, a long, aching chain. Take another step, push the crib. Step, push, step push. Runners, grub pins, courses, binders. Hail Mary, full of grace. Step, push, step push. Cribs, strings, raft. Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Step, push, step push. Wave goodbye. At the center of the crib, Sarah sits wordlessly. ** Just off the coast of Newfoundland, four hundred passengers are asleep below the decks of the ship. Becalmed for an entire day, they have finally begun to move again through the black night. It is the last leg of the voyage, which has been quiet but long. The crew is minimal at night, and the water is peaceful. Below decks, a ten-year-old boy wakes with a start, as if waking up from a falling dream. He was dreaming of Sogn and of being on land again. At first, he does not understand what has happened. His father is awake, too. A deep shudder rumbles through the floor beneath them, and before he has time to wonder, someone screams. It is high-pitched, a shriek. Only a second passes, he has only blinked, and everyone is up and shouting. He whips his head around, trying to understand, looking for the eyes that stare evenly back and the voice that explains, but he does not find it. Everywhere he looks, his eyes meet with only other frantic, confused faces. Someone screams that they are sinking. He turns to his father, who shakes his head. “I’m going above,” he says. His voice is sharp, commanding. When the boy sees the deck, he thinks of the time his little brother James dropped a bowl in the kitchen. It shattered as it hit the ground and the pieces flew everywhere, an odd and sudden intrusion on the neatly swept floor. The chunks of ice on the deck are enormous, almost the height of his sister. The deck is already crowded with people, so he looks up at the sky. There is too much of it, though—something is different. The mast and sails that used to block the view of the sky are gone. The night sky is spread over them, and the boy realizes the mast has fallen. His father told him a ship cannot sail without the mast—
the madison review It is very cold on the deck. Someone puts an arm around him. A moment later, he sees his mother. She is walking across the uneven surface of the deck, carrying his baby brother. Sarah is pulling James by the hand. His hair is sticking up and he is crying, mouth open wide. It seems impossible. Just today, they were fishing off the ship, lines cast into the still water. His father taught him how to tug the line, gently, to make the fish think the bait was alive—and he caught his first fish! He can see the spot where they were sitting and where he pulled his fish over the side. He showed Sarah and then they threw it back together. Is it still down there in the water? His father told him he should never keep a fish he couldn’t eat. “It’s better to let them survive,” he said, showing the boy how to remove the hook from the fish’s thin lips. “If you don’t put them back in the water right away, the air will kill them.” The fish don’t have to worry about water, the boy thinks. He stands on his toes to look over the edge. The water that looked so calm earlier that day now slaps against the side of the ship, which rocks unsteadily back and forth without its mast. The fish couldn’t survive on land. He cannot survive in that water. Everyone clings to everyone else, wailing and shouting. Some of the crew walk among the passengers and try to coax them back below decks, but no one will go. His mother is singing to them like she does when they have bad dreams. Andrew looks at his father and realizes he is praying. He tries, too—Hail Mary, full of grace—but there is too much to see and he forgets his prayers and has to start over. Someone is crying so loudly his ears ache. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. To fall into the water... He shivers and steps closer to his father. “Andrew, your older brother isn’t here,” his father tells him quietly. “You are the oldest. You have to be brave. You have to be brave.” When another ship draws alongside them in the morning, Andrew thinks it must be God’s answer to his quickly-mouthed prayers. At first, he feels like laughing—he prayed, and God answered! But the Macedonia is not savior—it is purgatory. There is not enough room for all the passengers, and they are forced below deck, among mountains of coal. Everyone coughs, and there is no water. Every morning they are on the ship, he goes above deck and runs his tongue over the ropes, drops of mist barely moistening the inside of his dry mouth. When they finally reach land, he thinks that now, this must be God’s answer. But land is no savior either—they might call this city Quebec, just as they called the other ship the Macedonia, but it is all the Pontecorvo. None of these names can save James. Later, his older brother tells Andrew the Pontecorvo was repaired
the madison review and still sails from Norway to Quebec and back. Andrew doesn’t know if that is true, but he knows, no matter where it is now, he is always on the Pontecorvo. Somehow, like Sarah, he is always there with the rest of the passengers, sitting below deck as the ship rocks precariously, not knowing if it will tip without a mast and sail to steady it, not knowing about the iceberg and the hundreds of people and James—and James, who cannot stop coughing. Andrew does not go fishing again. ** The land begins to dry out. The water shrinks from an ocean back to a river, retreating to its bed. Houses and people reemerge, rising from the water, dripping and coughing, but alive. Andrew’s father returns—his mother screams and collapses, exhausted. Andrew catches her and, together, he and his father carry her to the bedroom. He does not know it, but it was the worst flood in decades, the river rising over twenty-seven feet. With Sarah, he walks the floodplain. They measure where the water was by what is left behind. Their boots sink into the mud and every step is a struggle—step, sink, pull, step, sink, pull. Furniture, rubble, trees, and mud—endlessly, mud—cling to the ditches and clog up the streets. The newspapers are full of ads placed before the flood, for businesses and services that have been swept away. Water Street, though, is soon crowded with wagons and carts selling every item imaginable to make up for whatever one might have lost. Step, sink, pull. Rugs, bedding, and clothing are flung over every surface to dry in the sun. The streets are cleared and furniture gradually disappears from yards. Evidence of the water disappears before their eyes. The ocean that had no end has been reduced to a mere river, tiny in comparison. It is but a river. It is only water. This is not the same. Closer to the river, some houses have been almost completely destroyed. Giant logs from the sawmills were swept away by the current and barreled through walls and into houses. In the train yard, cars derailed and floated halfway through the town. With the water drained away, the giant pieces of debris are almost comical, like a child’s mismatched toy set. Step, sink, pull. Step, sink, pull. “Can we go down to the river?” Sarah asks. Hesitantly, he nods. They walk down Water Street. He heard that there was only one death, a man swept away trying to board a raft. Andrew does not know if his prayers were answered or if it was only luck, but he is glad regardless. They climb over logs and slide across mud as they approach the bank. Step, sink, pull. Finally, he tells Sarah to stop. They are close enough for now. The river is still high, level with its banks. Another good rain might
the madison review send it surging back through the city. Sarah points to where the bridges used to be, asking when they will be rebuilt. Andrew doesn’t know, but he can see it—see the pylons growing back into the water and the ends of the bridges reaching out to connect the two shores again. “Be careful,” he says. The water retreated, but his new, authoritative voice is still there. Sarah stays where she is. Soon, he will go back to the sawmill to lay the last courses and drill the last grub pins of the summer. The Eau Claire Lumber Company sustained significant losses, and there is much work to be done. Witches, wedges, tip. The water looks different now. He can imagine how it flooded the banks, how it raced through the streets and rose to swallow the houses—but somehow, it is less than it was. It is only water. He drops his head. Hail Mary, full of grace... Andrew Johnson does not know it yet, but the lumber industry is disappearing as swiftly as the retreating floodwaters. In a few years, he will leave the lumbermill. Cribs, strings, raft, wave goodbye. The logs in Dell’s Pond and Half Moon Lake will thin and vanish. The plow will follow the axe as farmland grows rapidly. They will tear down the lumber mills—but by then, Andrew will have a wife and children. Eau Claire will rebuild. Andrew Johnson will live to be 97 years old. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death... The sun shines over the muddy river. His feet sink only slightly into the ground, solid, beneath his feet. The Pontecorvo seems very far away.
the madison review
the madison review
Translated by David Akriani Love, if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a god indeed, why are you like, then, some dandelion? Tell me what can I do to keep you safe? If a single blow of breeze scythes you down, how can you stand against the heartâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hurricane?
the madison review
Ethan David Miller The boy Josiah was small for thirteen, dun colored and ungainly. Sweat had soaked through his grass-stained uniform and mud clung to his cleats. A crescent moon of dried blood hung above his left eye and a bump swelled in his forehead beneath his cap. As the evening faded, he shifted nervously on the rusted chaise longue, his eyes focused on the thin light in the upstairs back window. No one had lived in the house for months, not since Josiah’s pap had died and his nan had gone into a home. The garden was overgrown with weeds, and some of the house’s windows were boarded. A box of rusting nails sat atop a stack of sagging plywood, near where Josiah waited on the crumbling patio. In the high grass behind the house, Josiah’s father’s long blue Buick was parked, concealed from the road. Suddenly, the upstairs bedroom light flicked out. A few moments later the screen door slammed at the house’s back entrance. In the humid summer air, Josiah caught the sour tang of tobacco smoke. A voice, a man’s, his father’s, echoed up the gravel walk. Footfalls and a second voice followed. It was a woman’s, not his mother’s. “Well, shit!” his father said playfully when he saw Josiah, though it was not a genuine playfulness. At the sound of his father’s voice, Josiah felt his chest tighten, but was then overcome with a strange calm. Josiah had come looking for him, and there he was. His father was built with the wide shoulders, square jaw and spreading belly of a tragic king. His face was jeweled with lake water blue eyes but marred with a fighter’s broken nose. He wore a summer sport coat loosely over a red shirt open wide at the collar. Josiah inhaled and smelled his dense, woody cologne. 57
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The woman walked a step behind. Her, slender body was nearly lost in a flowing dress and loose, long hair. Her face was pale and almond shaped, with delicate avian features she had fussed over with makeup. She was barefoot. Slung over her shoulder was a canvas bag blazoned with the logo of the theater supply company his father managed. It was something they gave to customers, Josiah knew. “This is my son,” his father said. He placed a hand on Josiah’s back. Josiah tensed but also craved the touch. His eyes dashed to the woman. She just smiled. He noticed then that his father was not wearing his wedding ring. Josiah pressed a week old bruise on his back the size of a grown man’s fist against the slats of the chaise. Maybe it was a mistake to come, to find his father. What he should have done, he thought, was gone home. His mother was expecting him and his father, too, at home. “Oh, how wonderful,” the woman said. “This is my friend, Mirabel,” his father said. “She’s a friend of Nan’s. “She’s supposed to be watering the plants.” He glanced away from Josiah as he spoke, fidgeting anxiously with his cigarette pack. “You know how Nan loves her bluebells,” Mirabel offered. His father grimaced. Josiah and he locked eyes. Nan did not grow flowers. There was a too long silence, the sound of insects in the trees. Mirabel looked to Josiah’s father, then to Josiah. She looked pained. Her brow furrowed. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but no words came out. Then she blushed. “I want to go to a restaurant.” Josiah sat upright in the chaise. “I want a cheeseburger and a sundae.” At first his voice broke, but with each word his courage grew. “You want to get a burger now?” his father asked. The word “now” said everything. Josiah’s mother was expecting them already. Of course, if they were not home for dinner, his mother might worry, she might get nervous. If she did, she might take her pills. Sometimes when she was nervous about his father, she took too many pills by accident. She would sometimes have accidents. Josiah touched his forehead. He had been down in the dirt of the outfield only a few hours earlier, the rings of pain radiating outward, the other fathers circled around him. “Now,” he said firmly. “All right, Stud,” his father flashed a saccharine smile. Josiah did not care. He liked the fake father better than his real father. “We’re going to drop Mirabel off first.”
the madison review
“Oh, why don’t you come with us?” Josiah turned to her. He needed her. Josiah’s father’s face contorted with surprise, then flashed fierce. He inhaled deeply on his cigarette, and the ember glowed in the low light. It was a warning to Josiah. Mirabel leaned into Josiah’s father, and they began to whisper. Though Josiah could not hear the words, he could make out his father’s voice, quiet but urgent, and hers, calming, conciliatory. Josiah liked the way she whispered. He liked the way she looked barefoot in the wan porch light. She would be his ally. A moth circled. Something looked familiar to Josiah about Mirabel. Then he recognized her. “You were the lion,” he interrupted them. “And the ticket taker.” Mirabel faced him. “That’s right,” she said. She smiled at the recognition. “At the CT,” she said. The CT was the Children’s Theater. “Your father brought you, three weeks ago.” She glanced furtively at his father, trying to catch his permission. “He said you said you were too old, and Ricky was sick.” Ricky was Josiah’s younger brother. Her voice became shy, “But I told him I wanted to see you – he talks about you two, you know – and so he brought you anyway.” She was blushing again. She was pretty when she blushed. “C’mon Mirabel,” Josiah said. “Why don’t you come with us?” Mirabel looked to Josiah’s father. “Sure,” she shrugged, pretending it was a whim, but Josiah could see she had reasons of her own. “Sure,” his father nodded uncomfortably. The trio walked silently to the car in fading summer dusk. Josiah looked to his father and then to Mirabel and to his father again. “Ricky is sleeping over at a friend’s,” he said to her. “I mean, in case you’re wondering. I mean, I would wonder about that.” Ricky was at home with their mother. “That’s right,” his father gave Josiah a little nod. Josiah did not often see that nod. “I was wondering,” Mirabel said. “I do wonder about you boys.” The three stepped into the car. His father started the ignition and fed it a little gas. The engine awoke with a roar. He pulled the Buick out from behind a sycamore tree, the tires spun in the high grass, and then they were on the road. Josiah peered into the space between the front seats. Mirabel slid her hand across the console. His father took his hand down from the steering wheel and lace his fingers between hers. Josiah inhaled slowly. He had
the madison review never seen his father act with intentional gentleness before. It reminded him of the time he saw a shot deer lay itself down. His father pushed the button for the cigarette lighter and began to hum. Josiah knew the tune, and hummed too. “I didn’t know you knew that one, Stud,” his father said. “It’s one of Nan’s,” Josiah said. “So it is,” his father chuckled. “He never hums. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him hum,” Josiah said. “Oh, you’re so serious, Josie,” Mirabel said. His father was named Josiah, too. “You don’t have to be so serious.” She stroked his hand. They continued humming together. A few minutes later, Josiah took off his hat. Mirabel caught the bump that was forming on his hairline in the rearview and turned over her shoulder to look at him. When she turned she spotted the little crescent of blood over his eye that had been hidden in the shadow of his hat brim. “Whoa! What happened to your head?” she asked. His father turned to look, too. Josiah was about to tell them it was nothing, to say he had fallen walking in the woods, but his eye fell on Mirabel’s hand laced in his father’s. He would give this fake family a try. “I got kicked off the baseball team today,” Josiah said. “They must have kicked you pretty hard,” his father laughed. It was not a mean laugh. Josiah laughed, too. Mirabel playfully spanked his father on the shoulder. “Be nice!” she gently scolded him. “What happened?” Mirabel asked, her voice thick with concern. He was reminded of the way she delivered lines as the lion in the children’s show. Josiah pursed his lips. She was auditioning for the part of his mom. How much had his father told her about his mother? What had he told her? “I was standing out in right field, in the far outfield. I called for a ball, but didn’t catch it. I tried to catch it, but I dropped it. We had been practicing calling balls all week, and I called it but just got distracted and messed up.” “Anyone could have made that mistake, Stud,” his father said. His voice was full of real kindness. “Don’t feel badly. I’ve seen major leaguers make that mistake.” “There’s a kid who takes everything way too seriously, and he threw a bunch of punches at me, and everyone came running onto the field. His dad came running. All the dads came running. And then they sent me home,” Josiah said.
the madison review “Did they send the other boy home?” his father asked. “No,” Josiah said. “Just you?” his father asked, skeptically. Josiah bit his lip. His father understood that he, not the other boy, was the one who had started the fight. “Just me,” he said. He wanted to see what his father would say. His father went quiet. Josiah knew they were having a silent conversation in the front seat. He saw Mirabel squeeze his father’s hand. His father finally spoke. “It was wrong for the coach to make an example of you like that,” he said. “He shouldn’t have done that.” “I just think that’s terrible,” Mirabel said. Josiah blinked. She didn’t know he was lying about who had started the fight. “I took a few psychology classes, and I don’t think it’s healthy for a boy’s self-esteem to make an example of him like that.” “That’s a boy’s club program I have you in, isn’t it?” his father asked. His father never went to the games. He often had to work late, though Josiah thought now that he was probably seeing Mirabel. His father had only a dim idea of how the league was organized. Josiah nodded. “Well you have Mirabel as my witness,” he said. “I’m going to call up the director of the boy’s club tomorrow. And I’m going to demand that the coach be fired for making an example of you. Then I’m going to call up the father of the boy who started with you, and I’m going to give him a little advice about how to raise a son.” Josiah rocked in his seat with delight. He knew it was a show for Mirabel, that it would be over as soon as they were home, but the delight was real. There was quiet and his father steered the car easily this way and that on the winding road with one hand on the wheel, the other in Mirabel’s fingers. Now and then the outlines of a lake, a field or a bog appeared in a break between the birches. They passed a highway sign listing towns and their distances. “How about we go to Beacon for burgers?” his father suggested. “There’s an old restaurant by the railroad tracks.” Josiah nodded. His father had chosen Beacon because it was far enough away; they wouldn’t run into anyone they knew. Mirabel turned on the radio. Josiah flinched, expecting his father to smack her arm the way he smacked his when he turned on the radio from the passenger seat, but the sound of the impact never came. She tuned it to a disco station. Then she rolled down her window and turned the volume up just enough to be heard over the on-rushing air. Mirabel sighed. “Must be hard growing up without your mom,” her
the madison review
voice full of earnest ardor. Josiah knew she had been hunting for a chance to start this conversation. “Mirabel,” his father said. “He has to talk about it,” Mirabel said. “It’s better for him to talk about it.” “Dad, how long has it been since Mom’s been gone?” Josiah said. “I sometimes forget.” He looked over at his father’s hand on the steering wheel, to the empty place where the wedding ring should have been. “Come on, Stud. You know it’s been four years since your mom walked out on us,” his father said. In fact, it had been four years since his mother started with the pills. Josiah nodded. It made sense. He understood the impulse to invent a better, easier version of the world. He had just done it himself. “Right, so these last four years have been really hard,” Josiah said. “You know, Dad is a terrible cook. We used to eat a lot of meals with Nan and Pap. Now it’s TV dinners.” Strangely, this was not far from the truth. His mother vacillated between being too drugged to cook at all and cooking extravagant meals as an apology, or perhaps, Josiah thought now, to win his father back. “Oh, I can imagine,” Mirabel said, running her fingers through her hair. “A boy needs a mother figure to have normal emotional development,” she said to Josiah’s father. “Oh, I think he’s doing just fine,” his father said. “Aren’t you, Stud?” “How are things going with Rachel?” Mirabel asked, a teasing giggle in her voice. His father jumped in. “I told Mirabel about the girl from the school play you were seeing.” He gave an unconvincing laugh. “I hope it wasn’t a secret.” Josiah rubbed his neck. His father, knowing almost nothing about his life, had invented one for him. “Isn’t it funny how we’re both dating actresses, Dad?” He was enjoying the invention. He had never even kissed a girl. “You know it’s kind of hard because she’s always at rehearsal all the time.” “I know how that goes,” his father said. He touched Mirabel’s knee. “The thing that makes me happiest about her,” Josiah said, “is that whatever she’s got going on, she comes to my games. Sometimes she brings her friends, and they don’t really watch – they play cards or braid each other’s hair.” He had seen this; other boys had girlfriends who did this. “But it’s just good to know she’s there.” Mirabel let out a soft, delighted “Oh!” “We’re actually in a fight now. We were supposed to do something, but my friends want to do something at the same time. I’m not sure what to 62
the madison review
do.” “Josie!” she snapped at his father. “How can you let him do that?” She looked back at Josiah, “You can’t cancel on that poor girl just because something else comes along.” She turned to his father, “I would have thought you would have raised him better than that.” She paused for a moment, then spoke as if the idea had just occurred to her, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have some help bringing up these boys?” “Well,” his father said, without finishing the thought. Josiah heard his father fussing in the dashboard for a pack of cigarettes. Mirabel rolled up the window. She found the cigarettes, knocked one from the pack and placed it in his hand. Silence filled the car. Josiah wondered about his mother, but pushed the thought from his mind. The road cut through the woods. “I wish it were always summer,” Mirabel said. “Not me,” Josiah’s father said. “I like four seasons.” “But the woods look so forlorn in the winter without any leaves.” “I lived in California for a while, and it’s like that out there. Never winter.” Pap had told Josiah that as a teen, Josiah’s father had run away to California. He had taken some acting classes and got a little film work, and then met Josiah’s mother. When she became pregnant, they married and moved back. “Oh, when was that?” A vein of suspicion rose in Mirabel’s voice. “I thought you’d said you lived here your whole life.” “Oh, I mean for a few weeks when I was filming the movie,” he said. He had told her about the movie, Josiah knew. He found a way to tell everyone. “There’s a lot of difference between living in California and going out there for a few weeks. Anyone can go out there for a few weeks. It’s called vacation.” Then she added quickly, “It’s not like it was a major movie.” The veil of pleasantness seemed momentarily to have been lifted. The space between the two seats in the front of the car was filled with a familiar mistrust. Josiah felt as if he were riding with his mother. “Well, I was exaggerating,” his father said. “I’m sorry. I wanted to impress you. He reached over and gently held a lock of her hair, then let it fall back to her face. Josiah’s eyes grew wide. His father never apologized. Not for anything. His father stroked Mirabel’s hand reassuringly. Josiah was filled with a strange sadness. Why didn’t his father show his mother this kindness? Why didn’t he show him? They drove to the diner without much speaking. Occasionally, Mi63
the madison review rabel would sing out and join in the chorus from the radio. There was joy in her voice just to sing, and sometimes Josiah joined in softly. His father kept the rhythm, tapping gently on the steering wheel. The car rolled past the abandoned Beacon railroad station and into the restaurant’s gravel parking lot with a grinding jangle. The lot was adjacent to the old track bed, which was separated from it by a low but very steep embankment. The restaurant was in a defunct Victorian railroad hotel. Tables set with navy, woven placemats were arranged on the porch and in the front rooms. Tea candles shimmered in the breeze. Seated on the porch were two couples on dates, and one with a baby. The three of them emerged from the car, and Josiah watched their shadows join as they walked towards the restaurant. In the darkness, the cooling air was swollen with moisture. “Hey, Stud!” His father reached into his pocket and pantomimed pulling out a baseball. “It’s a pop fly,” he said. He pretended to throw an underhand ball high in the air. Josiah pretended to catch it. They tossed the imaginary ball back and forth as they walked across the parking lot. Mirabel’s face lit with delight as she watched. He could see she wanted to play, too, but Josiah kept his father to himself. In the light of the restaurant porch, Mirabel called to Josiah. “Come here,” she said, eyeing the arc of dried blood on his brow. “Give me your handkerchief, Josie,” she said to his father. She took off Josiah’s ball cap and gently stroked the back of his head. Josiah’s father handed her his handkerchief, and she spit in it and then rubbed the dried blood from his forehead. “There,” she said. She adjusted his bangs. “Very handsome.” She smiled gently. Josiah felt the moisture where she had cleaned his face evaporate, and the spot cooled. She looked over at Josiah’s father for approval. Josiah didn’t want her to look at his father. He wanted her to look at him. Suddenly he felt a sting of guilt. “I miss Ricky,” Josiah said. It was not Ricky he missed. He had thought of his mother, of her pills. “Can I call him?” He gestured towards a pay phone they could see inside the restaurant. His father’s eyes widened. “You can’t,” he said, seeming to remember the story they had invented. “He’s sleeping over at a friend’s house.” “I know the number.” Josiah’s father looked to Mirabel. “Their mother leaving has made the two boys very close,” he said gravely. Mirabel nodded, full of understanding. “Can I have two dimes? I want to call him.” “I suppose,” his father said. He understood Josiah was calling his mother, but he was trapped. He very slowly searched in his pocket, and found one dime and then another. He was smiling at Mirabel, but his look
the madison review gave caution to Josiah. Mirabel tisked playfully. “You spoil him.” Josiah raced up the steps and into the restaurant lobby. He grabbed the phone and threw the dimes into the slot. The phone rang. Once. Twice. Three times. He could see his father and Mirabel chatting with the hostess across the lobby. They pointed to the porch and then to the dining room. The plastic of the receiver felt warm. His mother answered. “Josiah! Where are you?” She was slurring her words. She had taken too many pills. “I’ve been so worried about you! Do you know where your father is?” She spoke dreamily, only half present. He could picture her in her bathrobe, semi-conscious on the couch under the afghan Nan had crocheted as a wedding present. He could almost smell the coarse halo of old smoke that clung to it. He could almost see the abandoned pot roast, half thawed, in the sink. They spoke softly, quickly. His mother had overdosed. Enough to knock her out, but not to go out. Going out was what she called it when they had to call 911, when they had to take her to the hospital. Josiah knew that she was doing it to hurt her father, to punish him, to escape. The question he felt but could not articulate was how had she come to feel her life was worth so little. How? When they finished speaking, he slammed down the receiver, and heard the coins drop. He felt queasy, wretched. He exhaled hard and walked across the room towards his father and Mirabel. The restaurant was filled with light. People were laughing and enjoying their food. There was the savory scent of onions and meat cooking in the kitchen. There was a song playing on the juke box. Josiah didn’t know the song, but it was boys singing in harmony. What came to him as he walked was that feeling from the outfield, of reaching into his glove after he made the catch, expecting the ball to be there and finding nothing. “I ordered for you, Stud,” his father said when Josiah arrived at the table. “Cheeseburger, tomato, no mayonnaise. That’s just how he likes his burger,” his father grinned proudly to Mirabel. “It’s the way I like it, too, Stud,” his father said. He could see the distress on Josiah’s face. He was over-performing, trying to urge Josiah back into their game. “You deserve a burger after a day like you’ve had.” Mirabel arranged her hair absently. She flashed a lean, thin smile. In the light of the restaurant, she looked older. Maybe she was only a few years younger than his mother. Josiah examined her. In a way, she was an older woman playing a younger one. “Let me ask you a question, Josiah,” she said playfully. “What’s that?” Josiah heard the irritation in his own voice. He wasn’t sure what to do. He just wanted the meal to pass quickly. He was tired
the madison review of pretending. “How long do you think a man and a woman have to be together before getting married?” she asked. Mirabel grinned. Her eyes glowed. She was in love with his father. “Oh, I don’t know, a year,” he said, his impatience rising. “What if they’re a little older,” she said. “You know, I could understand that for a young couple, but say they’re the age of me and your father,” she giggled. He was about to open his mouth. He wanted to say, “Who cares?” He wanted to tell them about the conversation with this mother. He wanted to humiliate his father. Suddenly, his eye drifted to the sried out. “It’s rolling!” He scrambled towards the embankment. “Easy, Stud,” his father said. “Easy.” “C’mon, Mirabel,” he said, “Come help me find it.” She glanced for a moment at his father, and then took off after him in a wave of pleasure. “I think it’s over there,” she said, pointing to a spot on the abandoned track bed at the bottom of the embankment. “Let’s go,” Josiah said. He began sliding down the embankment. The earth was soft and covered with clover. Here and there were rocks that had been part of a retaining wall. The embankment was only six feet high. Mirabel followed. “Hey, hey,” His father said. But Josiah could see he was measuring his tone. They both knew this was what Mirabel wanted, and he would have to let her have it. A moment later, Josiah and Mirabel stood panting, out of breath on the tracks. His father looked on from the parking lot above. This was what Josiah had been after. This was what he had been planning through dinner. “I have a secret,” Josiah whispered to her. “Lean down.” He spoke quickly into her ear. Mirabel blushed red with pleasure, redder than a watermelon. She covered her mouth to contain a shriek of delight. “You can’t let him know, you know,” he said. “Any day,” he assured her softly. Mirabel nodded, giggled, nodded again. Together they walked around the side of the embankment and crossed into the parking lot along the rundown station. “Everything all right?” his father asked, nervously. He met them at the edge of the parking lot and together they walked to the Buick. “Wonderful,” Mirabel said, her voice thick with joy. When they slid into the car, she leaned across the front seat and pecked Josiah’s father on
the madison review the mouth. “It’s been a wonderful night.” As they drove, Mirabel and his father continued to gossip softly. The passenger window was slightly rolled down and the summer air blew in. At her house, Mirabel opened the back passenger door, and kissed Josiah on his forehead, “Good night little Josie.” His father walked her to the door and they talked softly. Mirabel held the lapels of his father’s coat in her hands tenderly before they kissed and parted “What did you tell her?” his father asked as soon as he returned to the car. His voice shook with anger. “What did you say?” “Why don’t you go to my games?” Josiah asked. “Why don’t you ever go to my games?” Suddenly, Josiah began to cry. “I’ll go to your fucking games. I’ll go to all your fucking games,” he said. What did you tell her? You have to tell me.” “Nothing,” Josiah said. He pictured himself and Mirabel standing on the muddy track bed. “I just told her you had bought a ring,” he said. His father’s jaw slackened with shock. His fists balled with rage. “How could you lie like that?” His father stammered with fury. “How could you just make that up?” But he knew how. He knew exactly. “I told her you were going to propose. I told her it was coming any day.” Tears streamed down his face. Josiah’s father looked at him. He raised his arm. For an instant, they were blinded by the headlights of a car coming towards them on the street. In the white brightness, Josiah didn’t know if he would strike him or stroke his cheek.
the madison review
one degree of separation Allison Lee
how could you know I remember cilantro in the colander a dull knife on the counter waiting to split a lemon a grapefruit a Vicodin. your body wrapped in silk spent vines shadow the east side of a tiny lake your doctor called a brood of blue cicadas settle on your beach towel a tattooed girl in a bikini tells you why
the madison review
the madison review
the madison review
Cemetery Beautiful, Avenue Love, Row Paradise Dave Hardin
Coordinates given by poets Will take you in circles Business forgotten in the search For words to compare a rainy afternoon To a blue boat with a white sail Best all of them chose Cremation in the end Ashes scattered to the four winds Like milkweed in spring.
the madison review
The Good Life Ahead Kyle Ellingson
The reception dinner is held in the enormous marble lobby of a defunct courthouse. Non-familial guests are seated around the first floor railing above, isolated to a long view of the bridal table. But to carry a conversation is easier up there, at least, than amid the echoing, tipsied, dutiful familial catch-ups that sober the lobby floor. The guest list was written to include all the people who might notice had the wedding gone off without them. For those seated at the table farthest back from the first floor railing, the wedding party lies out of sight and almost out of mind. Each of the eight guests feels plopped amid poor company: a table of reticent, incurious people. The wedded couple, in composing the seating chart, had miscalculated this matchup; each guest thinks, Did Dave and Janae expect me, the sociable one, to bring this group to life? Are they counting on me? I’m no miracle worker . . . Taciturn people begin wordlessly accusing one another of taciturnity. Each whispers regrets to his or her accompanying friend, partner, or spouse, in an offhand, default running of the mouth suited to clinic lobbies and airport terminals. All think wistfully of their homes and how the evening could be better spent on some chore, errand, or televisual happening. They’d like to excuse themselves and catch the tail end of their nightly routines, but the wedded couple are expecting to bump into each of them later on—to say cooing, lightheaded thank-you’s, impersonally nostalgic—after the dance floor opens up. The absence of wi-fi service in the courthouse is, for those who’ve kept pace “with the times,” a difficult condition to accept. They show it the same scowl with which earlier generations would have scorned, at the same event, a no-alcohol sign. It might be rude, yes, to watch a muted television show or tidy up their email inboxes on their phones, stealthily, aside, under
the madison review the table, or in plain view on the tabletop—but guests only get more eager for a chance to discover the true limits of their rudeness in this regard. Some at the table never stop deferring privately, every minute, every five, to their phone’s little blue or green fan-shaped wi-fi receptor icon to see if news of even a weak signal had arrived. Who was this wedded couple, anyway, to herd everyone into this surprise prison? It’s a modern right, in a situation where living company has proven awkward or just not a good fit, to make headway on one’s electronic affairs. Who was this wedded couple, to take away rights? We have lives, dammit, a few think sweepingly, in something like empathy. Redeemingly for everyone, a catered dinner is to be served any minute. Speculative grumblings arise: Why aren’t we seeing servers yet? On one side of this round table, a teenage pair of brothers entertain a high school acquaintance with stories of a smuttier-than-thou past employer. The acquaintance’s date, a brunette trapped quietly between him and the brothers, has excused herself to visit the ground floor restroom: merely a pretext to stand once more inside the old-timey brass-caged elevator, a novelty evocative of an era more freshly sensuous and jauntily sophisticated than the been-there-seen-that-yet-really-seen-very-little-in-person one in which the promised ruddy outgoingness of her 20’s has all but withered under the lingering deadweight of her wan teenaged timidity. Back at the table, her date scoots into her seat to get closer with the two brothers, whose irreverence for sex tickles a forgotten rib. The chair he left empty now separates him from a second young man, a newly profitable, greedily reclusive painter, who wears a red tie over an old white dress shirt with a yellow sweat stain almost conspicuous along the back rim of the collar. He jerks into consciousness of the stain whenever someone rises and turns from the table behind him, or when he hears conversation there fall quiet, and senses people’s eyes wandering in boredom, dependably drawn to oddities like his brownish stain. The painter sits listening to his wife chat politely and tiredly with the young fiancée next to her. They’ve chatted a minute too stiffly now about the nice embroidery on the dinner napkins. The painter, his face encroaching either winsomely or creepily beside his wife’s shoulder, grins along with the justification she gives for the time she gave up embroidering a homemade tablecloth. The painter’s grin suggests this is one of the funnier stories his marriage has yet produced; really he sees nothing funny—but hopes to add something witty. His best idea so far is to call attention to his spotty facial hair pattern and make a joke that his wife once tried to embroider him a thicker one. But he doesn’t want this to be the first thing anyone at
the madison review the table hears him say. On the other side of the fiancée, between her and the two virginal, virile brothers, sits her fiancé, a heating systems salesman in a grey suit and black tie, his right leg folded over his left, his chin up like a statue of the moral model the two self-overexposing brothers might follow, and his arm lying possessively—sexually-affirmingly—along the back of his fiancée’s chair. He stares out past the first-floor railing at a large wall of stained glass—a scene of rolling farm fields. He looks specially annoyed, as if his television remote is broken and the scene in the glass is a lifeless show he’d like to click away from. He occasionally stares, frowning, at the white marble railing and appears to think what a waste of his evening it is, to be seated so far from the heart of the wedding; he feels observed by the others at the table, who he peeks at only peripherally, and to pose his face in this way seems a normal and understandable thing to be seen doing—and this alone is why he does it. The painter steals a peek across the table at the salesman, whom he’s been surveilling peek by peek. The salesman strikes him as prudish but thoughtful person—a remotely kindred spirit. He looks a bit grumpy in his thoughts, however, so the shy painter hesitates to introduce himself, frightened of seeming a nuisance, which he already fears himself to be, with all the sneaky spying he’s done, which the salesman may have picked up on. The painter can’t think of any calm or enticing ways to say hello. He hasn’t really spoken to anyone all winter except his wife; he’s become estranged from small talk. His solitude has trained him to narrate the emotional processes of his artwork—but not much of that is any good to talk about with anyone but his wife. Still, the painter fidgets in his seat—he cannot sit self-lovingly in his own silence, and keeps daring himself to show his grit and address the salesman, who is the safest bet at the table for a sustained conversation. And really, the painter thinks, this is just a guy sitting at a table, staring out at a bland piece of stained glass. Think of him like he’s a dog. Let the dog sniff your hand, read his mood, then throw him a ball. Ask what he thinks of the stained glass. Free your voice to pass the time in play with his. But the painter keeps picturing himself sounding too abrupt, or too abruptly intellectual. He worries, oppositely, that he’ll stammer or get tongue-tied—or say something grammatically incorrect. So he fades back to grinning at his wife. I ought to paint this moment, the painter thinks. I could depict the falseness of my grin by exaggerating the eagerness of it in contrast to the unseeing, un-listening look in my eye; and how neither this girl nor my wife see anything in me worth inviting into their talk. I could show this salesman, too, across the table, who senses the truth of
the madison review my grin and stays quiet, wanting no closer contact. I could fit all four of us into a panorama. Presently, the salesman half-spies the painter peek across the table at him, as if at a strange, small noise he hopes to learn the source of. The salesman goes stiff until the observance ends——but worries it stops only because the painter is sick of the labored aloofness he’s reading in the salesman’s appearance. The salesman has learned, from keeping an ear in his fiancée’s talk, that the young man is a painter—a profession of receptivity. The salesman can’t help glancing in return—a facial reconnaissance mission. The glance comes out severely glassy-eyed, rooster-like—so he tempers it into boredom, the kind of look he could, if detected, let drift beyond the painter to include the room at large, the universe at large. The painter, he observes, has a calmly intelligent aura; openly listening-in on the women next to him without seeming to feel pressure to speak. The salesman looks away, for now. But sensing it’s only a matter of time until the painter peeks his way again, the salesman sits up a little in his chair to look more comfortable, more mightily at ease. Also, he raises his eyebrow at the stained glass—like his boredom has given rise to an intriguing critique. He doesn’t want the painter to think he could stare so long at a piece of art and not have any big ideas strike him. The salesman worries, too, that the painter has noticed how seldom he speaks to his fiancée. The salesman himself doesn’t know quite what it means that lately he’s more or less lost curiosity in his fiancée’s everyday, hour-by-hour condition. She is a teapot, always heating up with complaints—why go around asking to hear them, when they will whistle out at him soon enough? And so his mind, in the meantime, wanders about in a feeling of incarcerated solitude. Around the house and out in public he has to remind himself constantly that she’s a living body positioned next to his, and not just an abiding contractual idea—and that, if he’s really going to be her fiancée, he really ought to throw together a few things to say to her. And so the salesman leans over and gives his fiancée’s shoulder a soft squeeze, leaning in to whisper; “You starving or what?” She pauses her embroidery chat with a polite rising finger. “Ugh, yes,” she whispers to him, “I hope they serve us something soon.” “You’d think they’d have to.” “Anything’s possible,” she grumbles. “I suppose so.” She squeezes his hand goodbye. He sits back, antsy for what to
the madison review do next with his face: he strikes a frown at his empty dinner plate, as if his beefy physique—high protein, high calorie intake—experiences a more important kind of hunger than do smaller, weaker people. But the pose only makes him antsier, worrying the painter can all but smell the bumbling effort of it. He’s haunted by a memory of the painter’s intelligent look—he peeks again to see if he saw it clearly—then fears that the painter is of extraordinary intelligence—some international-spy-level social intuitiveness. At this point the salesman’s only shot at relaxation, it seems, is to chat with the painter and glean how deep into his personality the guy has peeked. And just then, in his jumpy periphery, the salesman sees the painter try to catch his eye with a sociable flick of his chin. The salesman’s face flashes still . . . involuntarily, his whole upright bearing slouches at full attention toward the painter. The men seem to share an infinitesimal smile, a vacant nod, like jaded neighbors in passing. “How’d you—” the painter begins aloud. But then the brunette, having savored the elevator ride up from the restroom, and regretted all over again the dull, fidgety decade its gate opened onto, returns to the table—and as she pulls out her empty chair to sit down, the leg snags on the toe of the painter’s shoe. He yanks his foot out of the way—and is caught up in a sudden intuition of how this woman must see him: his long clumsy feet, his collar stain, and his sick-looking dry eyes (he discovered and disowned their redness in the restroom a half-hour ago). “Oh I’m very sorry,” says the young woman with hollow sweetness. “It’s alright,” the painter trails off. Then he sits there, watching his fingers turn the stem of his wine glass. His sudden courage regarding the salesman all spurted out of him at the word how, that popping cork. And the salesman hardly breathes, waiting for the painter to continue. After a moment of unrequited gazing, he comes to, sensing what a specimen of odd behavior he’s become for his tablemates to study. So his posture retreats, spine sneaking straight, arms folding snuggly over his sculpted pectorals (monuments, he hopes, to his antisocial self-lovability), while his cooled gaze gusts against the far stained glass . . . and there is, once again, bleakly little for his mind to do but hold his posture to this standard of excellence. A dance (deejayed radio hits, charmingly predictable for some guests, for others, dishearteningly so) follows the dinner—and when this communal purge of expressive or inexpressive energies is over, the salesman
the madison review walks his fiancée up the street. “She invited us to dinner, you know,” she says. “Who?” “That painter’s wife.” “Oh yeah?” the salesman says. He is surprised and pleased. “For when?” His fiancée makes her face go sour—an emphatic substitute for speech. “For when?” he eggs at her. “Why would I want to go?” she says. “She doesn’t know when to stop talking. She just goes on and on like a faucet. She’s like a tepid faucet. Nothing hot, nothing cold, just—bleh. And he’s got the opposite thing—super quiet. Weird quiet. They’re obviously reclusives.” “Oh yeah?” “You wouldn’t know. You weren’t paying attention.” Oh I wasn’t? he thinks. But to argue his attentiveness to her would be to involve her in it—and there was a sacred privacy here that he refused to let her invade. “But you talked to her for quite a while, didn’t you?” he says. “A long time for someone having no fun.” “What else was there to do?” True, he agrees in a moment of abstract sympathy. “So,” he says, “you don’t think you’d like to have dinner with them?” “No. Hell no.” His nostrils dilate irritably. He’s known his fiancée a long time— she’s the only girl he’s ever kissed: they first kissed at age thirteen. He sometimes feels for her the same lack of fondness that he sometimes feels for his sister. “Well, I think I’d like to go,” he says. “You!” she scorns. “You didn’t even talk to them!” “Ah, but I did,” he lies. “When?” “To him—in the bathroom.” “During when?” “The dance.” “But we just passed them on our way out and you didn’t look at him or say goodbye or nothing.” “I’d already said goodbye.” “When?” “Like a minute before that.”
the madison review “But not in the bathroom.” “No. On the dance floor. When you were over dancing with Janae.” “But you were right near me. I didn’t see anything.” “I shook his hand in passing,” he continues. He will lie, he believes, until she promises to set up a dinner date. It is his fate, he’s sure, to become close friends with the painter—who, he intuits, will develop an unprecedented brotherly love for him; who will offer safe harbor to his self-doubt; and who, in letting his unspeakable fiancé issues hang in the air as spoken truths, will draw him toward the kind of naked-eyed, ground-floor encounter with self that he knows—sometime must await him if his life is to have, for real, the sense of goodness he’d always fancied it to, but which he had not, until what seemed to him the late-blooming age of 25, been spooked into checking the validity of, like it was some form of professional licensure he hadn’t known was past due for renewal.
the madison review
Fred Yannantuono The sushi bar chefs speak in the vernacular, discussing either me scribbling this or Noah to my right, who’s crammed his ark gunwale to gunwale with two of every kind of fish plus eel, more than I’ve ever seen displayed before, an epic Western record. I know no Japanese, though it sounds lively enough, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness with which they discuss him or me—or maybe I’m mistaken and it’s really someone else—in desultory, evenhanded undertones.
the madison review
Rebellion’s End Christopher Bell
You wake up on the floor. It’s a grainy, cheaper brown carpet with noticeable rips and tears on the edges, either from some poorly domesticated house cat or the inevitable crawl of time. You drooled all over the lime green pillow case she gave you around four A.M. You’re trying to think of her name. There were a lot of bland introductions in-between the show, bar and back around again. You think it’s something like Lisa or Lexi, but you can’t be sure. Your head isn’t nearly as bad as it was the previous morning. An immunity to all types of distractions has developed in the last week or so. This Saturday it’ll be a month since you’ve been on the road, carting your bullshit poetry in the form of punk rock verse and handcrafted jewel cases. You sold maybe ten last night along with the final yellow T-shirt from the original printing. The only colors left are pink and purple. All the college kids wanted black. They made you think that breaking even was a possibility in the beginning. Now you know it’s all some joke left to dangle and smirk you into submission as you stretch out the kinks in your legs and back. If you and Missi were still together, she would have never let you get this bad. It was yoga first thing every morning, then breakfast, showers, work, home, dinner, TV and maybe sex. She didn’t think much of your music. How could she? When you first met Missi, her car consisted of greatest hits compilations and old high school mix CD’s from friends she didn’t bother talking to anymore. You put yourself right in the middle, expanding her knowledge of the underground, while still pressing the right buttons. She fell for you, and it was close to mutual, but you could never spend the rest of your life with this girl. She wasn’t muse material. You step to the living room window and peak out. It’s a beautiful
the madison review day that you don’t want any part of. The road has taken its toll, from your knees up to the calluses on your fingertips. The days off have all but buried you. In a strange place, you’d walk from one corner to the next, eating crappy food, dealing with the backlash of compliments from young thugs and deviants coming down. While their words used to give you a kick, you now realize they’re just as diluted as you are, if not more so. They don’t understand the struggle or circumstances thereof. They aren’t old enough to remember how MTV used to be. You’re only twenty-six, and the memories are dim and unsettled. Your guitar sits next to the sofa. A dirty bearded bastard in a black T-shirt with no sleeves snores his morning away. You don’t recall his deal the previous night. Excess was abundant, but it used to mean a lot more. Everyone had fun getting fucked up, but somewhere along the way you lost the reasoning behind your actions. It used to be heartbreak or an offshoot of major media spoon-feeding you all kinds of pale comparisons. You tried being the sweet guy in high school and then a lingering rebel in college. The office asshole almost fit before they laid you off. Then you figured the music thing would work if only the right people started to care. Your friends back home were all a notch above supportive, at least when they had to be. Their pet projects and accidental offspring have taken precedent, but that’s fine by you, just so long as you continue to drop them a line when it’s convenient. Jerry in New Mexico, Kaitlin in Denver, Kurt and Jenny in Kansas City; they all loved seeing you, but there was still tension. A day off from tour meant just enough of an inconvenience for them to consider why they hung out with you in the first place. You hope Missi’s come to the same realization in your absence, but like clockwork, there’s her text message on your charged cellphone. Was thinking about the time we left your cousin’s wedding early. Miss you. Hope you’re okay out there. You thought your decision to the see the country would have prompted her to take a similar journey of self-discovery, even if it just happened to be across town at another watering hole. Instead, Missi feels the need to vicariously live through what little time you’ve spent away from her. You didn’t officially break up, but moving on was certainly implied. She’s a beautiful human being regardless of all the notions that make you and everyone else see things differently. Grabbing your guitar from the crack between the couch and coffee table, you contemplate leaving a note for your hostess, but decide there are other ways to say thanks. They weren’t up early enough to feed you. There wasn’t an encore request at the show, just a can of cheap beer, a puff, puff pass and the underlying feeling that no matter how much time you spent making an impression, these people will almost certainly forget about you
the madison review the next morning. While there’s something reassuring in this; after a month of similar run-in’s you can’t suppress your home sickness, even if you hate that town for all its quarks and tight jabs. You know you’re a bum, hitting the street with ragged hair, bad breath and nothing worth writing about. Locating your car is somewhat difficult this morning. You have to backtrack to the bar, then the art gallery and finally the proper parking spot. There she sits with rust on both sides, waning tires, a bird-shit stained windshield and all your essentials in the trunk. Your diamond salvation on four wheels; the car you’ve had since you were a junior in high school. She’s yours, all 197,000 miles of her. Yankee; down, damaged, but not out, not yet. You pull the squeaky driver’s side door open and wait for the engine to purr. Decatur had its low points, most of which are easy to ignore, driving down the main drag, searching for free Wi-Fi signs. Yolanda’s Café speaks to your innermost hipster. You park on the corner and grab your laptop from the back. Entering, your eyes first drift to the scribbled pink and blue chalk menu and then to your barista. She looks familiar, perhaps a face from the crowd, although you can’t be sure. You really dig her bright red hair, how it intentionally curls in front of two nearly catatonic brown eyes. Your order is simple: skim latte and a chocolate chip muffin. She’ll bring it over to you. The computer fan is almost loud enough to stir the mice sleeping in the nearby alleyway. You’d buy a new system if you had any money or cared. There’s something enduring about the minor rattles and shoddy virus protection at this point; how finding the proper network temporarily freezes the screen, before launching your browser makes you wonder if everything’s about to blow. You wrote things on the fading keyboard; words you quickly forgot about. The girl shimmies over in her apron and sets your breakfast down. You thank her and consider asking if she was at the show, but decide against it. As your eyes wander, you notice the flier on a nearby corkboard. Sure enough, your moniker makes an impression at the very bottom of the list. Slacker Son: you’re still not sure if this particular name suits your sound, and while you’ve considered just going by Eddie Niesner, there are still parts inbetween the letters and syllables of the name your father gave you that don’t sit right. It’s like a stomach full of bad, processed food just waiting to make the rest of your body itch. You sip and chew slowly, savoring the subtle kick of caffeine and baron nutrients. First it’s your e-mail. Nothing new to report. The promoters that didn’t get back to you can all choke on their self-righteous sense of dread. They don’t know what they’re missing, or maybe they just don’t have the time to realize. People love pretending to be busy so when they’re lazy
the madison review it’s somehow justified. You’ve met far too many undistinguished shades. They either work crappy service jobs as a means of maintaining balance with a false reputation, or there’s a career on paper, but not much else. A wife or husband on their tax return, maybe a plus one to impose their last few wishes on; small ears to listen as they talk about dreaming big once, and then finally settling on the pain that comes with waking each and every morning before the alarm. Your friends’ Internet identities don’t help the situation. Jenny’s food blog is nauseating. Kenny’s prose aren’t worthy of a constipated bathroom read. Ilene’s minor quips make you depressed in a way you didn’t think possible this morning. Missi hasn’t updated her blog in nearly two weeks. Nevertheless, you scroll through familiar territory, right to the picture she took of you outside the abandoned green barn. You’re not quite smiling in it, but there’s no denying you were happy then. You wonder if she posted it to make you second-guess leaving the relationship in its last swampy transition. Even Missi wouldn’t know for sure. She’s not impulsive so much as oblivious to how other people consider her actions, no matter how insignificant they are to everyone else except you. Dwelling in this particular realm of uneasy awareness was but one of many tipping points. You search and jot down directions to Canton. Google says a little over seven hours. Before you left, you were looking forward to every drive. Then the douchebag money grubbers started cancelling on you, leaving you in the lurch. You haven’t burned bridges so much as lit the fuse and walked away with no remaining dignity. They called you shit in Amarillo. You were unrehearsed in De Soto. The kids in Boone stole T-shirts. Rockford’s beer and limited cuisine gave you the runs. Chicago was almost cool enough to make you contemplate why you weren’t there all the time. Then you remembered that even those you talked to afterwards weren’t really listening. In this way, they shared too much with your cohorts back home. You shut down and use the facilities. Fear of public restrooms went away by the third day. You approach each new lavatory with a whimsical confidence. Punk rock clubs are usually the worst. Nobody cleans anything, and there’s rarely a lock on the door. In Augusta, you called some Mohawked teenager a poser mid release. The plop sent him running back to his trendy companions, searching for the right app to make their punk phase a little more bearable. Either metal or top forty would follow, maybe indie or jazz if they were lucky. You’ve had sex twice since departing. The first time was purely out of revenge. Hannah in Bridgeport needed a story to tell her roommate. You didn’t spend too much time making her feel good; although the booze
the madison review certainly helped you both achieve a greater understanding of the human condition. Hannah seemed to genuinely like your tunes. You gave her a CD for free, but she still slipped a twenty-dollar bill in your abandoned blue jeans pocket with the tiniest of red ink scribbles around the edge. Don’t lie. You need this. Her careful consideration made you feel like a whore. Perhaps that was her intention all along. The second person was Jenny. Neither of you meant to cross that particular barrier despite residual sexual tension since college. She never acted on it, the two of you previously caught in formulas and proportionate antibodies on the cusp of disappearing altogether. You hated the guys she chose, and she wasn’t all that fond of your one-night stands, although you never gave her the chance to get to know them. Jenny and Missi have never met, but are both aware of each other. You dwell on the circumstances, exiting the café and hitting the road. Kurt was wasted, but decided to stay at the bar. You walked back to the apartment. She poured you a thick blend and started talking about all the problems in her life. You weren’t given a chance to mention any of yours. She kissed you, and you fucked her without a condom on the couch. It was like a nature video, quick and feral. The whole time you thought about Kurt walking in, how cliché that would be. He wasn’t a terrible guy, but lacked the personality to make you a true fan. Jenny regretted it almost instantly. Her face sunk as you both sat up on the couch and got dressed. You left early the next morning, even though you didn’t have a show or anywhere to be. You drove to a halfway point and got a hotel room, wasting the next twenty-four hours on cable television and bourbon. You wanted to call and talk to her, to send a text message or write out the right kind of e-mail. You loved Jenny, but even she knew how little that meant. There was no future there. Kurt set an effective example. He was an asshole, but made it work better than you ever could. Illinois blurs with Indiana. You stop for lunch in some dive, stretch your legs and call the kid running the show. Elliott sounds like a jerkoff, some young outsider far from understanding the differences between you and him. He babbles for a while, before providing you with the only viable piece of information: a venue change. The show’s moved from a bar to some rented college basement. You’re not going to break even. Nobody’s going to buy Pitch Paranoia, the album you spent days slaving over in your bedroom, much to the dismay of Missi and your downstairs neighbors. You humor Elliott past his youthful excitement, hanging up and wishing the waitress was quicker with your Rueben. You hate being disappointed before a show’s even happened, although this is an inevitable part of getting older, not to mention playing out. At least you’re somewhere else,
the madison review not like those deadbeat friends of yours, sitting around their living rooms, watching countless hours of streamed television episodes. They think playing a bar within a twenty-mile radius is bold; singing Rolling Stones’ covers off of printed sheets to the bearded, beer-bellied drunks lined up around the tap, wondering why there’s no jukebox that night. The waitress needs to get out of the game. She carries a solemn vibe as if the sweet, nurturing women she used to be has all but evaporated with multiple courses of steak and eggs. You think about the tip before you’re first bite. You’re not exactly broke after saving for some kind of escape. Missi wanted a summer vacation, but you hated her favorite beach. There was no point going out of your way to get sunburned before food poisoning from buffet shrimp and crab legs. She pretended to love you because you were unconventional, when in reality, Missi only wanted you to change a little at a time, so as to make her tattered ego blush. You think about Jenny again towards the end of your meal; how when the two of you lived in the same town, she’d depend on you for everything but. Before that, Jenny was shacked up with Paul in a post-collegiate wormhole. You didn’t talk to her much then. He eventually cheated and then the calls came in. You’ve always held this particular trait against her. Something never sat right about her lack of compassion, how she could completely ignore your entire existence one moment, and then suddenly when her life turned to shit; there she was crashed on your sofa, ready to talk but refusing to listen. You use the can, pay the check and get back on the road, assuming more distance will eventually stifle every remaining impulse. You think you’re just horny, and since Jenny was you’re last, it only makes sense for you to long for her demented touch. You’re good at being alone, while letting people in makes the room fill up fast. They all sit in a circle, barking misguided bits of advice. Deep down, you’ve always thought yourself a good, genuine human being, although at this point, you’re tired of doing the right thing. The afternoon liquefies in turnpike fever. You listen to a mix CD then shuffle through radio stations, some NPR, and finally silence. It washes over you as you double check the directions. Then there’s the rattle. It barely registers at first. You feel like you’ve heard it before; somewhere out west or maybe as close as the night before last. You ignore it best you can, returning to the music, letting it bounce off the cracked windows and dashboard. You take the exit and pay your toll, almost twenty dollars. You need to check your balance soon, to decide whether you’ll buy beer or bum from the mice and rats mingling in lieu of further experimentation. You’ve got maybe another forty minutes to drive, and then an
the madison review hour or so to kill before bothering to show up on time. In-between tracks the gears sputter and the wheel locks. You hit your signal and pull off to the side. Popping the hood, you smell a mix of charred fluids and rusted familiarity. You wait a few minutes and then try the engine. It doesn’t start. A few more pass along with the cars. Not one of them stops to make sure you’re okay. Yankee grumbles and groans in all kinds of tones for the next half hour, before you relent and call Triple A. They say it’ll be an hour. You think about your salvation, some invisible runaway bride on a speedster, just looking for your type to help along the way. The tow-truck driver isn’t much older, although clear stress lines gradually change color on his forehead. Riding shotgun, you’re nervous arriving at the shop. Gino’s Gears is the hole he’s always dreamed of. You sit in the waiting room, flipping through a swimsuit issue, before Gino himself gives you the skinny. The engine’s dead with the transmission approaching a similar grave. You ask about scrapping it, whether they’ll give you anything. Gino smiles a little at your predicament. He was just about to call it a day before you arrived in a rut. Three hundred dollars later, your back hurts carrying your guitar, merch box and backpack down the road, slowly but surely approaching Canton and the rest of your night. You’ll have to send out some e-mails, cancel some shows, and somehow find your way back to that horribly lovely place you left behind. Missi is your last resort. You can already see the way her teeth reflect the light at the very inclination of saving you from the torturous trials of the road. You feel more remorse not bidding Yankee a fond farewell, running your hand across the steering wheel or front hood one last time before an improvised epitaph. There’s never enough time to properly salute the inanimate gems you end up scrapping when properly cornered, while awful people get more sunlight than they deserve shining through the stained glass windows. Your legs hurt right before the twenty-mile marker. You think about calling Elliott and having him send a search party. Perhaps it’ll be the beginning of something meant to last longer than obligations hastily dissolved. Either way, you know you need a drink and perhaps a loose set of breasts to make all that came before predominately less significant. Two steps from reaching for your phone, a crappy black pick-up slows before its windows gradually descend. You’ve seen this movie before. The driver is in his thirties, shorter with a chew in. “Where you headed, Elvis?” He asks. “Canton,” you reply. “Hop in, if you like.” It’s the first time you’ve ever had to depend on the kindness of
the madison review strangers. All the days leading up to this particular ride don’t count. Things were loosely planned; typed responses exchanged for the sake of saving face and identity. He doesn’t ask your name, but drives fast, passing all varieties of cars, occasionally whipping the bird when necessary. In the spare moments, he tries to get under your skin, find out what makes you tick, why you’re doing what you do, attempting to please a bunch of sunken radicals digging through their transitional phase. He gets into his life for only a second. On his way home from another job, the man figured he’d up his karma ratio by offering you a ride. This is nothing like you imagined it’d be. Not that you were seeking some eternal bond, but the sluggish nature of this particular encounter makes you more lonesome than every ride that came before. He’s got two boys and a girl back home. They’ll be screaming when he arrives, not happy to see him, but still far from disappointed. He says his wife used to be a knockout, but now she’s another causality of age and unflattering American commercial standards. The question if you’re getting any arises. You kind of smirk and reply with something simple but easily translated from one libido to the next. “What musician doesn’t?” He gets a kick out of it, as you check your phone for the exact address. You sense more than nostalgia lingering on the back of his eyelids. This working-class instigator wants to come with you, to see the dimming lights and listen intently to all the words you’ve written but don’t quite understand. You consider giving him a CD, but are afraid he’ll regret offering you a ride upon his first and only listen. You’re not of his religion or what remaining creeds he practices. A simple thank you seems to suffice as you shake the man’s hand and hop out, grabbing your nomadic possessions. He drives away as you step past strangers in cut-off vests with patches poorly sown in. It’s a tattered crawl inside and down the basement stairs. You set your belongings on the cold floor and look around at your prospective audience. They make you feel older despite no more than a four-year difference. A few girls catch your eye, but none are quite like the ones you fell for on the verge of college graduation. Elliott finally finds you. He’s quite welcoming. You get a beer from him before discussions with some of his nerdy friends ensue. You joke around and try to sound cool when necessary. They don’t know about Yankee, and although you’d love to tell the whole story, something about the expressions on their faces dissuades you from divulging information. You want this day of speed bumps and hiccups to be all yours. Tomorrow may be the boost that leads you back to reality, but tonight is still somehow special.
the madison review Your stomach grumbles with your next drink. You’re a bit woozy when the show starts. The first act is some chubby raspy heathen with fast hands and little to say. An angel’s voice follows. She’s young, blonde and good at fingerpicking. You don’t particularly like the subject matter of her tunes, but clap and shout after each one, if only to feel like part of the crowd. People filter in. You’re on your third beer, trying not to smile at some douchebag’s forlorn tale of his afternoon class. He tries to impress a gal who cares more about where her friends are. You could tell him stories, but they wouldn’t quite match up. One more beer opened before Elliott finds you and pushes you towards the front of the basement. You tune up quickly and try to get your bearings. You glare at a few uninterested souls heading upstairs, probably getting high without you. Those present seem to give enough of damn. A warm feeling hits your chest as you think about every song you’ve ever written, how only a few sum up who you are. The others are filler, but easy to play to a room full of people. You introduce yourself: your real name, your moniker and finally a little something nobody will understand, not even your friends back home. You strike that first chord and only play it louder and harder as the rest feels like nothing at all, just another goodbye you forgot about before bed.
the madison review
Christopher Munde By knife these twins are cloven The fully-formed twin by knife Divorced from that other By a cleaver of terms whose preparations Remove the scales and then the eyes That same fish ever squirming Out of every childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grip Each boy in the elementary school Who was nowhere close to virginal Technically just as the girls all were Purest opposite:
Quotation marks were thusly worn by all Stark as stirrups and as sterile
Technically the smaller twin Was not truly alive though she behaved Through her sisterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tiniest reflexes So the doctor took great pains To catalog each scale and eye By paring knife to separate the edibles From the life waste:
the madison review Boys from the men As they traded and duped VHSs Full of tragic dash cam footage and called all of it snuff At first until a consensus was reached That such a flatline of a word must mean a thing Far worse: A legend cannot easily reproduce A legend is a parasite lodged at the base Of the fish’s paralyzed tongue: Complaints From the one mouth emanate And only serve to link words at the hip From birth until this tiny knife Its hairline edge a sort of separated twin To the chainsaw revved by a cartel member In the online film that wends its way Through the junior high today Which inks every last corner of criteria For snuff and so the definition must evolve Into a thing as far from human As a fish which hocks up the hook Whose act’s perpetually puppeteered By the voice wielding its tongue It has always been a doctor’s job to count The grains of sex needed to overturn The language is it truly just the language That slivers the flaked skin off of the living And absolves the latter— that subverts the myth— That grants to the bigger sister a whole body From the waist on down into the earth
the madison review
the madison review
Butterflies Kelly Morris
The way she saw it, Annie had two choices. There was the sensible option, which was to not attend the wedding. She could throw away her invitation (shimmery gold, a fringe of lace gracing the bottom.) She could burn it. On the off-chance she ran into Wesley, she could claim to have never received it. “Oh, you got married?” she would say. “Congratulations! So sorry to have missed the big day.” She would spend the day, May 6, out drinking or bowling. Maybe she’d even go horseback riding. She had a clear picture in her mind of doing just that, even though she’d never ridden a horse in her life. They had wild-looking eyes, horses. “I was out riding that day,” she’d tell Wesley. She would be clad in sweats in this scenario, red-cheeked from a workout at the gym. “So sorry I couldn’t make it.” “Horseback riding?” he’d say. “I didn’t know you liked horses.” Except she ended up going with plan B, which was to RSVP yes to the wedding and hire a date. “That is too much,” said Annie’s twin sister Eve when she heard the plan. This was Eve’s stock response to a lot of things in Annie’s life. It was a rather diplomatic phrase to use if, like Eve, you changed your inflection. “I think it’s partly his fault for inviting me in the first place. Why would you invite an ex-girlfriend to your wedding if you didn’t want her to show up?” Annie was the older twin, by three minutes. In high school Annie and Eve used to switch places on April Fool’s Day. Being Eve was fun, if a little boring. All Annie had to do was sit quietly in class and smile politely when a boy tried to talk to her. However, Eve had a very hard time being 92
the madison review
Annie. Eve once said, “I tell myself, Just walk in there, shoulders thrown back, and say whatever pops into your head. But then nothing pops into my head.” As adults, Annie and Eve rarely passed for sisters, much less twins. Annie’s hair was short and spiky. She was a hairdresser and was always doing something to her hair; sometimes the something looked good, sometimes not. She liked to wear glasses even though she didn’t need them. Today’s pair was red and matched her hair. Eve’s glasses were tortoiseshell and necessary for driving. Her hair was the pale blonde Annie’s used to be. She was also slightly taller; you probably wouldn’t notice the sisters’ height difference unless you happened to have kissed both of them. (This only happened once, with one man. Not at the same time, of course. It isn’t that kind of story.) Annie once read that only a small percentage of the population was truly beautiful or truly ugly. Everyone else, and Annie included herself in this category, fell somewhere in the middle. Unlike poor Eve. Over the years, Annie had seen perfectly nice men turn into complete assholes around her twin, which is why she now appreciated being merely pretty as opposed to outlandishly beautiful. “Going to the wedding is bad enough. But hiring someone,” Eve lowered her voice in a way that might have been overly dramatic from someone else, “I don’t understand why you always have to go with the most extreme option in life.” “Hiring someone means that I can behave exactly how I want to without any consequences—” “All actions have consequences,” Eve said. “Also there’s no one I want to take to Wesley’s wedding. Wesley’s wedding,” Annie said. “It sounds like a children’s book, right? Wesley the Walrus Is Getting Married.” “Why do you even want to go? He’s getting married. To someone else. How do you think that’s going to make you feel?” “Right now all I feel is curiosity about the future Mrs.” “I think you’re deluding yourself,” Eve said. “I’m sad he’s getting married, and I didn’t date him for years.” “Twenty months,” Annie said, “is not years.” “I’m surprised he’s getting married. He always struck me as sort of anti-marriage.” “Do you think he’s bald now?” Annie asked. “Or fat?” “Annie.” “Maybe he’s finally figured out how to grow facial hair.” “Why do you want to go?” Eve asked. “Just be honest with me.” “I just want to wish him well. Or maybe I want closure. Who 93
the madison review knows—maybe we’ll end up being friends again.” As she said this, she almost believed it. She and Wesley had been friends before they dated, and surely enough time had passed, enough hypothetical water had accumulated under a theoretical bridge for them to be friends again. “Being friends with an ex is looking for trouble,” Eve said. Their mother used to tell them, Don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble will find you if it needs to. “Trouble hasn’t found me yet,” Annie said. “Also, you can’t be friends with your exes because they’re all hoping you and Owen divorce.” Eve’s husband Owen was a big man, broad-shouldered with the hairiest legs Annie had ever seen. He was nice-enough looking, unremarkable almost, unless he was standing next to Eve, who had a way of laughing at the things Owen said in a way that made him distractingly good-looking. A sense of humor and general niceness really were attractive in a man, especially if the man in question was a doctor. Some men looked silly in scrubs. But never Owen. “It’ll be fun,” Annie said. “It’ll be a perfect excuse to wear that green dress I bought.” The dress was the color of sea foam and had an asymmetrical hem she imagined Wesley would find intriguing. He had a surprising appreciation for women’s fashion. About a black dress she once wore: Now that is a dress. He hadn’t changed his expression as he said it but he’d looked at her the way a woman wants to be looked at. The man at the table next to theirs watched Eve slip on her leather jacket. Earlier this same man had watched Eve drinking her coffee, his eyes roaming frantically from her face to her breasts. He looked like an I’ve never done this before kind of guy. He looked like someone who wouldn’t even bother to hide his wedding ring when he hit on her. I’ve never done this before, I’m not this kind of guy, but I just wanted to know if I could buy you a drink/ coffee/ dinner. Eve always looked surprised at these invitations. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding.” Her wedding ring was impossible to miss if you were looking. “This is a bad idea,” Eve said to Annie as she stood up. “I’m not condoning this.” But she gave Annie a hug before leaving. Annie hadn’t told Eve that it just seemed easier, cleaner somehow, to hire a date for the evening. There was something exciting and distasteful about the whole thing that someone like Eve would never understand. “Excuse me, can I ask you something?” Annie looked up to find the man who’d been staring at Eve standing next to her table. “I was just wondering, is your friend single?” “She’s my twin,” Annie said. “Unfortunately, she’s a lesbian.”
the madison review
Wesley was a wildlife professor at the local university. His specialty was monarchs. When Annie first met him, she’d been fascinated by his job. This was partly because Wesley had a way of explaining things in a relatable but never condescending way. Sometimes that’s what she missed most about their time together, that she was always learning something with him. Eve had convinced her to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about the woman behind the famous HeLa cell line. She’d tried to enjoy the book, but the science sections about cell division and mutation had been too dense for her. If only Wesley were around to explain mitosis to her. She and Wesley had been broken up for a year when she sent him an e-mail titled Book recommendation for you. As soon as she sent the e-mail, and the days ticked by without him responding, she experienced all the stages of e-mail regret: Denial Maybe the e-mail got sucked into a cyberspace black hole. Anger No one is too busy to answer a one line e-mail, for god’s sake. Bargaining If he writes back, I’ll leave him alone and never e-mail again. Depression I’ll probably die alone, my body devoured by mutant butterflies. Acceptance Fine, don’t write back. Have a great goddamn life. He did finally write back: I was out of the country all last week. I haven’t read that book yet but it’s been on my list for awhile. Nice to hear from you – how are things? Wesley was probably the only person on the planet who didn’t check e-mail while traveling. He rarely texted. How reassuring to see that he hadn’t changed all that much. Not that Annie had expected him to be a completely different person in a year and a half, but break-ups sometimes prompted radical behavior. Sometimes people chopped off their hair or bought new clothes or hopped into bed with people they later wished they hadn’t. They started e-mailing regularly, and Annie found herself wondering why they had broken up in the first place. She honestly couldn’t remember. Maybe he didn’t either. And then a month later she got the invitation to his wedding. Wesley Scudder and Melissa Leon. Annie pictured Melissa as a small woman with lank hair and a snub nose. To be honest, Annie felt a little sorry for this Melissa person that she would have to listen to Wesley talk about butterflies for the rest of her life. There was only so much monarch talk a layperson could handle, only so many trips a person wanted to take to monarch overwintering sites in Mexico. Sometimes a person wanted to watch TV or take a vacation to somewhere with a spa. Sometimes a person got tired of talking about migration patterns and butterfly sex.
the madison review It’s not called butterfly sex, Wesley said. Sorry. Monarch reproduction. Or maybe Melissa was also a wildlife professor, and she didn’t mind talking about the monarch’s cardiac glycosides or how they can’t fly in temperatures below fifty-five degrees unless it was a sunny day. It’s like this, Wesley once told her. When he was really excited he’d run his hands back and forth in the space above his ears. The hair was thinner there for this reason. They point their thoraxes, the middle part of their bodies toward the sun because their thoraxes are black and absorb heat. It’s the same as you or me wearing a black sweatshirt out in the sun and soaking up the heat that way. Or a black dress? she asked him, teasing. But he’d already forgotten about the dress. Annie brought the list of potential candidates over to Eve’s house. Owen answered the door. He was wearing scrub bottoms and a Rocky t-shirt. “I’m hiring a date for Wesley’s wedding,” she said as she walked inside. “Eve thinks it’s a terrible idea.” “It is,” Owen said. But he disappeared and returned with a beer for her which he opened with his wedding ring. “She thinks you’re being selfdestructive.” This word got thrown around a lot by Owen and Eve. “She worries too much,” Annie said. “Where is she?” “Pumping upstairs,” Owen said. He rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. Annie used to cut Owen’s hair. His hair was thick and coarse. Sometimes in photos it looked just fine and other times there seemed to be entirely too much of it. That first haircut his neck had been feverishly warm under her hands as she razored the pale hairs by his ears. “Don’t tell me she’s still weird about doing that in front of you,” Annie said now. “She said she doesn’t want me to think of her as a cow.” Annie spread out the four profiles. “Then she can weigh in when she’s done. So.” She clapped her hands together, business-like. “I need to be shallow about this whole process. Now is not the time to appreciate someone’s wit or education.” “Then this guy is out,” Owen said, pointing at the middle picture. “Really? But I thought,” Annie turned the picture toward her to read his name, “Donald was kind of cute.” Owen held the photo next to his face. “We could be brothers.” Annie looked from the picture to Owen. “You’re right. Put him in
the madison review the reject pile.” “Sorry, man,” Owen said as he tossed Donald onto the floor. “Speaking of brothers—” “Don’t,” she said. They looked at each other, full-on, several long seconds before Owen looked away; he always looked away first. She drank from her beer as if she hadn’t noticed. “I thought you guys had moved past that weirdness from the wedding,” Owen said. “You two seemed very chummy at Claire’s baptism.” “I just think it’d be better to go with someone I don’t know,” Annie said. “That doesn’t make a lot sense to me.” It probably wouldn’t make a lot of sense to Owen to learn she was now avoiding his brother Sam because they had finally slept together. Five years it had taken her and Sam to move past Owen and Eve’s wedding, when they almost slept together. Monarch reproduction involves two distinct phases: aerial and ground. During the aerial phase of reproduction, the male pursues, nudges, and eventually brings the female to the ground. And then her niece’s baptism had rolled around, and Sam was there, looking rumpled and uncomfortable in his suit. They drank at the reception afterward, they drank a bit more at a bar down the street, they drank even more at Sam’s apartment. They kissed in his kitchen for a long, long time, and before heading to his bedroom, Sam asked her, “You’re not going to let me get naked and then change your mind again?” The ground phase of monarch copulation can last between thirty and sixty minutes. Annie had thought nothing could be more awkward than getting naked with your brother-in-law’s brother and not having sex. But no. “What are you guys doing?” Eve whispered from the top of the stairs. “Looking at potential dates for the wedding,” Annie said. Owen turned to watch his wife walk down the stairs. Eve was wearing gray sweatpants and a blue hooded sweater. She was one of those people whose eyes were big even without makeup. “Let me put these in the fridge first.” She held up two bottles. “Does it surprise anyone else that breast milk is so runny-looking?” Annie asked. “For some reason I thought it’d look more like whole milk. Or cream.” Her beer was almost empty. “Grab me another?” she called to Eve. “No talk about breast milk or breastfeeding, please,” Eve said. She walked into the den and handed Annie a beer. Owen didn’t offer to open this one.
the madison review Eve sat down on the sofa next to Owen, who rested his hand on her knee. Annie watched as her sister lightly traced his knuckle with her fingers. They were so casually intimate with each other, even the most ordinary gestures became charged. Even Wesley had commented on it once. Or maybe Annie had mentioned it, and he’d agreed. Annie held up the remaining three pictures. “Just help me pick between Brandon, Hunter, and Kevin.” “Kevin looks unstable,” Eve said. “Something about his eyes.” “He was my top choice,” Annie said. “I like his double dimple.” “Your sister is a very good judge of character,” Owen said. Annie studied Kevin’s photo again. His eyes didn’t look all that crazy to her, but she also hadn’t spent the bulk of her teenage and adult years fending off lunatics. She tossed him into the no pile. “We’re down to Hunter and Brandon,” Owen said. He lifted his hand from Eve’s knee and picked up the last two photos. “Hunter. Brandon. Both those names could work as either a first or last name.” “Brandon Hunter. Hunter Brandon,” Eve said. “You’re right.” “So which one?” Annie asked impatiently. “Brandon looks nice,” Eve said. “Have you people been listening? I don’t care about nice,” Annie said. Eve studied Hunter’s picture. “What’s the name of this dating service anyway?” “You probably don’t want to know,” Owen said. He turned to Annie. “Does it have the word studs in it?” Annie shook her head. “That’s disappointing,” Owen said. Eve frowned but didn’t say anything. Five years they’d been married, and Annie had never heard her sister disagree with Owen in public. “What are you going to say when people ask how you met?” Eve asked. “What are you going to do if someone gets him alone and starts talking to him? What if he tells everyone that you, you know—” “That I hired him?” Eve looked as if she wanted to clap her hands over her ears. “I don’t think you’ve thought this through.” “I have a plan for uncomfortable questions,” Annie said. “I’ll just do this.” She threw back her head and laughed. “No matter the question, I’ll just laugh really loudly.” “That’s a terrible plan,” Owen said. “You could go with Owen,” Eve said, glancing at Owen. “Couldn’t you go with her?”
the madison review “Wesley knows Owen,” Annie said. “The whole point is to show him that I don’t care that he’s getting married, not to be some pathetic loser who shows up with my brother-in-law.” Annie had met Owen first. That was a long time ago. It didn’t even matter anymore, it was so long ago. As soon as Owen met Eve, that was that. Studies suggest that large and symmetrical females are more attractive to males, but they are better at resisting male mating attempts. “Not to state the obvious here, but the fact that you’re going to his wedding seems like proof that you do care he’s getting married,” Eve said. “At least go with someone you know. These guys could be dangerous.” Annie held Hunter’s picture in front of her face. “Hello, Eve and Owen,” she said in a deep voice. “I promise not to go all Silence of the Lambs on Annie. Nor will I make inappropriate sexual advances. Unless she’s into it, and then all bets are off.” “You’ll be our first suspect if Annie shows up dead in a ditch, Hunter,” Owen said. The next Saturday Annie pulled into the country club parking lot at 7:45. She had decided against attending the actual wedding ceremony, which had been at the Catholic church downtown. Had Wesley converted to Catholicism? She’d never heard him say a thing about religion or faith. She’d never heard him say a thing about marriage, either. He’d always struck her as rather anti-marriage, too. Annie’s only experience with the Catholic Church came from movies and therefore wasn’t all that favorable. Last night on the phone Hunter gave her a brief biography of himself: he was thirty, he drove a Jeep which he liked to take off-roading on the weekends. He was part of an off-roading club. Every week it was someone’s responsibility to find a new place to go. Since most of the places weren’t technically legal they had to be very careful. Occasionally other off-roaders marked the path with flags, but most of the time it was just word of mouth that led them to the sites. He spent so long talking about the off-roading club that Annie started to think maybe she should have gone with Brandon, even crazy-eyed Kevin. Wasn’t the upside to paying someone to be your date that you got to talk about yourself, that you didn’t have to feign interest in someone’s obscure hobby? When Hunter wasn’t an escort, he was a personal trainer. “At an upscale gym,” he added. And then they talked money. “Cash only, of course.” She was starting to have doubts about the whole thing, maybe Eve had been right up,
the madison review maybe she should have just asked someone she knew, but the way he said cash only—authoritatively, no nonsense—made her trust him. Hunter had an accent she couldn’t place and a strange way of talking, where his voice rose at the end of a sentence. When Annie told Eve this, she asked, “Canadian?” Annie didn’t think so. Probably his weird question-inflection thing was simply indicative of his age. At 7:55 a red Jeep pulled into the country club parking lot. (From the escort website: While escorts are on the clock, they are not permitted to drive you or any other passengers, unless ALL parties sign a waiver and pay an additional $200/passenger.) Annie sat in her car and watched Hunter step out and stand next to his car, his hands folded in front of him as though posing for a prom picture. There was something generically handsome about Hunter. He looked like a high school football player, or maybe a Republican, in his navy blue suit, white dress shirt, and red striped tie. Annie had never been a fan of high school football players or generic good looks. She walked over to him. “I’m Annie.” She handed him a carefully folded stack of hundred dollar bills. “You can count it if you want.” “Hunter,” he said, sliding the bills inside his coat pocket before shaking her hand. “Nice to meet you, Annie.” If his smile had been a little crooked, if he hadn’t had that cleft chin, if he’d had just a smidgeon of facial hair. There was a cocky awareness of his looks that she found both off-putting and safe. She wondered why she had never thought to do this before. “This is going to be fun,” she said, linking her arm through his. Annie spotted the bride first and realized she knew her—except she had known her as Melly, which is what everyone in Wesley’s lab had called her. She’d never heard anyone call her Melissa. Annie once ate dinner at Melly’s house. She’d met Melly’s husband. She’d attended the birthday party of one of her children, one of those parties with a cluster of kid-less people standing around, looking as comfortable as middle schoolers at a chaperoned dance. There had been a clown and a chocolate cake from Costco the size of a BBQ grill. She’d even cut Melly’s hair! Melly had been silent during the haircut, and when Annie spun her around, she’d stared dully at her reflection. A 5% tip, and she never returned. Wesley had married Melly. Annie saw that this was true—yes, that
the madison review was definitely Melly in a strapless white dress, wearing a veil, her feet clad in what appeared to be white flip flops, her plump arms bare—and yet it made as much sense as trying to convince yourself that 2+2=5. Annie watched Melly pose for pictures with a group of women in sensible navy blue dresses. The photographer shouted, “Smile, you sassy little monsters!” and when the bride didn’t smile, Annie was absolutely certain. Annie had once asked Wesley, Does Melly ever smile? I’ve never seen her smile. Not once. She smiles, he said. “I know her,” Annie said now. “Huh,” Hunter said. Melly lifted up her dress as she walked over to them. Her shoes were indeed white flip flops. “Hi, Melly,” Annie said. “I go by Melissa now.” She dropped her dress so her feet were once again covered. Annie and Eve had a friend in junior high who one summer changed her name from Becky to Rebecca. This had seemed extreme at age thirteen. Anger wound its way through Annie’s stomach, an anger so pure and misplaced that she couldn’t swallow properly, as if a bucket of ice was stubbornly squatting inside her, refusing to melt. Who did Melly think she was, changing her name, ditching her husband? And where the hell were her kids? Wesley didn’t even like kids, or at least, he was indifferent to them. And now he was a stepfather to three? It was too much. “You look beautiful,” Hunter told Melly with a toothy grin. Melly didn’t smile back. “Thank you.” Wesley had always been lanky with gray hair, and he looked the same as he joined his new wife, just lankier and grayer. His hair was much thinner above his ears. His face was still perfectly, almost weirdly, hairless. Annie couldn’t tell if he was wearing the necklace she remembered, a small silver ball on a chain. “Hey there, stranger,” Annie said. She hugged him; he hugged her back. He didn’t smell the way she remembered, but he felt the same under her hands. “A married man! And a stepdad to boot. How many kids do you have again?” she asked Melly. “Two? Three?” Melly turned to Wesley. “I’m supposed to tell you that we are cutting the cake in five minutes. The photographer said five minutes exactly.” It sounded like an accusation. “I’ll be there,” Wesley said. He smiled at her and seemed to tell her something with his eyes. Melly leaned against him, briefly closing her own eyes. She looked older than Wesley, even though she wasn’t, she was Annie’s age, thirty-six to Wesley’s forty. You’d think that a lifetime of not smiling would have saved her skin but clearly there was no saving the kind of sensi101
the madison review tive skin Melly had; the area above her breasts was an angry rash. Wesley waited until Melly walked away. “You don’t know then,” he said. Annie had forgotten how unhurried his voice and movements were. He would actually make a great dad, there was such patience in the way he focused on someone. “That you and Melly are together?” Annie said. She was infuriatingly close to tears. “I had no idea.” “That’s not what I meant,” he said. He still had such an unreadable face. She remembered telling him that in their last fight, that she was tired of never knowing what he was thinking. Or was he always just thinking about butterflies, is that all he cared about, butterflies, butterflies, and more butterflies? Monarchs, he’d said. And no, he cared about her too. “Her husband and kids were killed in a car crash,” Wesley said. Annie felt Hunter blanch next to her. “Yoo-hoo, Mr. Groom,” the photographer called. “Your presence is needed over here.” Melly was standing next to him, flanked by the women in navy. She looked over at Wesley and shrugged, a gesture so small Annie wondered if she imagined it. Annie and Hunter stayed until the end. They drank the free alcohol and ate their way through the buffet. Hunter entertained the grandmothers seated at their table with stories about his personal trainer job. He shucked his jacket and rolled up his sleeves and showed them exercises they could do while sitting. “What a catch he is,” Wesley’s grandmother said approvingly. Annie had met her years ago, but she didn’t seem to remember Annie. She was the spryest of the group, so she could easily do the seated exercises; she was also the one who told Hunter all the details of the accident. From the excited, almost avid look on his face as he listened, Annie imagined her date would forever think of it as THE ACCIDENT. Annie and Hunter danced and danced. Her feet ached, sweat pooled under her arms, and still she refused to sit. They joined the conga line and danced the electric slide and the chicken dance. There had been an ice storm the winter she and Wesley broke up. Every night on the news there had been warnings. Stock your car with blankets and water in case you get stranded. Stay off the roads if possible. If you must drive, use extreme caution. “Melissa was at work,” the grandmother said. “They had to call her at the lab. They were working together that night.” The grandmother pointed at Wesley and Melly, who were solemnly eating cake at the head
the madison review table. The kids had been inside the minivan. (There had been three.) Melly’s husband had been outside the van, changing a flat tire. The eighteenwheeler hadn’t been speeding, the driver just couldn’t stop in time because of the ice. “They say no one suffered, they say it was instantaneous for all four, but how do they know that?” the grandmother asked. “How can they possibly know that?” It felt like a penance she was performing as she and Hunter swayed together for the last song. Annie was so tired she clung to him, leaned her head against his shoulder. “You smell nice,” Hunter murmured into her hair. He traced his fingers lightly across her neck, a touch as soft as a butterfly wing. “If you want, we can mess around after this,” Hunter whispered. “No charge.” Only 30% of all monarch mating attempts end with copulation. Every time she closed her eyes, Annie saw the minivan spinning through the dark, the ice on the road, the heat from a fire. A mom bent over a microscope, a dad bent over a tire, three kids bent over a videogame in the car. “Okay,” she said.
the madison review
Victor Liu honey
i have all the sex appeal of a beehive orifices aplenty but black holes painted amber beautiful and dead ( jump your bones is such a violent euphemism but it fits us like an ugly glove , my love ) our bodies splayed on killing fields florescent yet we pillowtalk polemics taste the sweetness and feel the sting . buzz
the madison review
Contributors Aaron Apps is currently a PhD student in English Literature at Brown University. His manuscript Dear Herculine won the 2014 Sawtooth Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press. His other collections include Compos(t) Mentis (BlazeVox, 2012) and Intersex: A Memoir (Tarpaulin Sky, 2015). His writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Pleiades, LIT, Washington Square Review, Puerto del Sol, Los Angeles Review, and Carolina Quarterly. Christopher S. Bell is twenty-nine years of age. He has been writing and releasing literary and musical works through My Idea of Fun since 2008. His sound projects include Emmett and Mary, Technological Epidemic, C. Scott and the Beltones, and Fine Wives. My Idea of Fun is an art and music collective based out of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Christopherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work has recently been published in the Broadkill Review, Mobius, Gesture, and on Fringelit.com. He was also a contributor to the short-lived Impression of Sound. Thomas Benz graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame. In the last several years, he has had twelve prior story publications in literary magazines including: the Timber Creek Review, Willard and Maple, Blue Lake Review, the Beacon Street Review, the Paumanok Review, Carve, the William and Mary Review, Pangolin Papers, Blue Penny Quarterly and others. He won the summer, 2011 Solstice Short Story Contest judged by David Huddle and was a finalist again last year. He was also a finalist in the 2011 and 2013 Flannery Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Connor Short Fiction Collection Contests. He also recently received honorable mention in the New Millennium Writings Short Fiction Contest. He is a member of the Advanced Fiction Workshop and Off Campus Writers Workshop and is affiliated with Writers Workspace in Chicago, Illinois. Samples of his fiction can be found at www.indielit.net. Paul Curley lives in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches English as a Second Language at a large public high school. In addition to short fiction, Paul writes poetry and is working on his first novel. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Shout Out UK, Widdershins, and Actual Paper.
the madison review
Kyle Ellingson works summers at a country club in Minneapolis, MN, where his coworkers are teaching him all the Spanish vocab he wasn’t taught in college. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Sou’wester, Fluent Magazine, and Kansas City Voices, and he is at work on a batch of stories. Robert Evory is Doctoral Assistant at Western Michigan University where he is a reader for Third Coast and New Issues Press. He has an MFA from Syracuse University where he was the Poetry Editor for Salt Hill. Currently, he is co-founder and managing editor for The Poet’s Billow. His poetry is featured or is forthcoming in: Spillway, Spoon River Review, The Baltimore Review, Natural Bridge, The Fat City Review, Nashville Review, Wisconsin Review, Ghost Town, Arroyo, Water~Stone Review, and elsewhere. Dave Hardin is a Michigan poet and painter published in The Carolina Quarterly, 3 Quarks Daily, Hermes Poetry Journal, The Dunes Review, The Prague Review, and ARDOR Literary Magazine among others. Evan Hawkins is a native of Richmond, VA who currently resides in Madison, WI. He is currently pursuing his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in printmaking from the University at Buffalo in 2011. At the University, he was the recipient of the Morrison Scholarship and the Eugene Gaier Printmaking Award. His prints have been included in print exchanges in Derbyshire, England and Seattle, WA. His work has been exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions across Western New York and Madison, WI at venues including the Arnot Art Museum, the Olean Public Library, Echo Art Fair, UB Anderson Gallery, the Buffalo Niagara Visitor Center Gallery, Hallwalls and Buffalo Arts Studio. Charlotte Kupsh recently received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she was Editor-in-Chief of UW-Eau Claire’s literary and fine arts magazine, NOTA. The story that appears in The Madison Review is part of a collection of historical fiction titled Until the Land Runs
the madison review Out: Stories About Eau Claire. She plans to pursue an MFA in fiction or creative nonfiction. This is her first publication. Allison Lee lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with two Siberian huskies. She is the Copy Editor of the 2013 poetry anthology, Poetry in Michigan / Michigan in Poetry, and a recipient of a 2013 Gwen Frostic Creative Writing Award in Poetry at Western Michigan University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, Cheap Pop, and others. Victor Liu is a student enrolled in Stanford University’s Class of 2018, declared in Art History with a concentration in modern and contemporary art. He recently had the honor of being awarded 1st Place in Marin Poetry Center’s annual anthological competition. His influences include ee cummings and William Carlos Williams. Beyond nourishing a passion for the written word, Victor also makes art and enjoys gallery and museum excursions. Ethan David Miller’s fiction has appeared previously in Meridian, Potomac Review and elsewhere. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He now lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter. He was on the editorial staff of this magazine from 1996 - 1998. Kelly Morris holds an MFA from Spalding University, and her work has appeared in various literary magazines. She is a co-founder and regular contributor to the writing blog “Literary Labors and the Occasional Cheese dip” found at www.literarylabors.com. When she’s not writing, Kelly can be found hanging out with her kids, who remain unconvinced that being a writer is actually a very cool job. Christopher Munde’s poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, The Hollins Critic, Hunger Mountain, Massachusetts Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere. He completed his MFA at the University of Houston in 2008, and received an Academy of American Poets Prize in the same year. Presently, he lives in western NY, where he teaches at Jamestown Community College.
the madison review Leslie Schultz studied creative writing at the University of WisconsinMadison and at the M.F.A. program at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA. She now lives in Northfield, Minnesota. In 2013, she won first prize at the Great River Shakespeare Festival/Maria W. Faust Sonnet Competition. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared a variety of journals and anthologies, including Swamp Lily; Poetic Strokes Anthology; The Pacific Review; The Northern Review; The Mid-American Poetry Review; Stone Country; Sun Dog; and in a chapbook, Living Room, (Midwestern Writers’ Publishing House) and (with work by Richard Wilbur and Amy Clampitt) in the collection Everything Comes to Light (The Cramers Press). Her essays, photographs, and fiction can be found on her blog at www.winonamedia.net. Mariam Tsiklauri was born in Tbilisi in 1960 and graduated from the Tbilisi State University in 1983. Her poetry, rhymes for children, translations, essays and articles are regularly published in literature periodicals. She worked as a teacher and an editor for various publishing houses. At the Radio Channel “Iveria” she authored and hosted two radio shows for children – namely, “Conversations on the Literature for Children,” and the literature saloon titled “One Hour.” Mariam Tsiklauri is one of the founders of the “Libo Foundation for Development of Literature for Children.” She initiated the annual celebration of the Day of the Georgian Literature for Kids on October 27. Also, she edits the “Almanac of Literature for Children.” Mariam Tsiklauri has undertaken a special workshop for the writers and illustrators organized by the non-governmental organization “School, Family, Society” and holds a certificate for this as well as the workshop “Greeting Books for Beginning Readers” awarded by Dr. Charles Temple, Ph.D. Professor of Education at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.Mariam Tsiklauri holds the 2009 “Shotaoba” competition Grand-Prix in literature and was awarded a special prize by the First Lady of Georgia, Ms. Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs. She is married and has two children.
the madison review
THE FRIENDS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON LIBRARIES The Friends honor The Madison Review for its four-decade support of literacy in America, and for the creativity of its undergraduate staff of organizers and editors. The Friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, founded in 1947, is one of the oldest library freinds groups in the U.S. The Friends are dedicated to the enrichment and enhancement of the UW-Madison campus libraries. The Friends activities include • A huge semiannual book sale each spring and fall • Fundraising to support library resources and preservation activies • Grants to campus libraries for special purchases • Supporting the annual Libraries Magazine, biannual newsletters, and other publications • Grants-in-aid to visiting international scholars to use the great resources of the campus libraries • Support for School of Library and Information Studies students so they can attend national workshops • Supporting students who contribute to, edit, and produce ILLUMINATION: The Undergraduate Journal of the Humanities • Supporting student-led poetry events through readings during the year •Bringing speakers and lecturers to campus The friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries would welcome your membership. For more information, please visit the Friends website at www.library.wisc.edu/friends or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-265-2505
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the madison review
Christopher Bell Thomas Benz Paul Curley Kyle Ellingson Charlotte Kupsh Ethan David Miller Kelly Morris
Aaron Apps Dave Hardin Christopher Munde Allison Lee Victor Liu Kerry Trautman Mariam Tsiklauri Leslie Schultz Fred Yannantuono