The Crooked House

by Doug McIntire

He was once an upright man living in an upright house, both standing tall and proud in the promise of their youth. But time passed, and as it did, they stood against the assaults upon them, each in their own way. The house endured the battering of rain and the whipping of wind, each drop and gust sapping its strength and fortitude, ever so slightly. And for the man, it was much the same, suffering under the constant pressure to earn more. And with each promotion he was forced to redefine his character, wearing away at his morals and integrity. Until finally there was nothing left but a crooked man living in a crooked house.


Doug McIntire might be metaphorically in the fog, but looking up seems a little brighter these days.



by Michael Brooks

I wish I had known how to read her signals, how to interpret the hair touching and smiles from across the crowded party. I wish I had known she was waiting to pull me aside while everyone gathered their coats and prepared for the frosty night. I wish I had known she would grab me by the face and thrust her slippery soft tongue into my mouth, imparting the taste of cheap beer and adolescence. I wish I had known her hands would guide mine, under her shirt then beneath her bra, up the intoxicating roundness of her flesh to the pink and pointy apex. I wish I had known she had a boyfriend. And I wish I had known he was standing in the driveway, waiting to deliver the beating of my young life.


Michael Brooks lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife, dog and two cats, and owns a new, sealed copy of Mannequin on VHS.


The Bookstore

by Janet Dale

I remember the time we met in front of F. Scott. You were having a thing for Jay and I was having a thing for Dick, two of his flawed heroes not being loved by Daisy or Rosemary, but by us instead. Later I found a used copy of his short stories from 1974 – the spine was bruised and torn, but I had to take it anyway because I’m a sucker for bruised and torn. You offered to fix my book for me, work your healing powers in the way of glue and care. When you gave it back, it almost seemed brand new. Sometimes I feel just like that book, even though I don’t think I ever told you that.


Janet Dale holds a B.A. in English (Creative Writing). Her current stresses include M.F.A. applications and philosophical writing.



by Rod Drake

Jack Kerouac's ghost has been leaving me hastily scrawled notes each night for a week. They're on my nightstand when I wake up, next to my alarm clock and glasses. Nothing truly literary or earth-shaking about them, just what changes he would like to make to his novels. Sometimes a catty comment or two about Ginsburg, Rexroth or Burroughs. And asking after Neal Cassady, like I would know where he was (I would assume they are in the same place - the Beatnik Afterlife). On my nightstand this morning I found a new note, written on a greasy 1950s paper hamburger wrapper, this time from Cassady, telling me not to let Jack know where he is and that Ken Kesey says hi.


Rod Drake used to think he was a fictional character in a story, but he turned out to be the author instead - life is funny that way.


Loose Change

by Andrew David King

He lifts the beers onto the counter as I watch carefully, and then it's whiskey and gin and rum, bottles of it. White trailer-trash scum I think, no money to pay taxes, help the poor, no money to help anybody, but when it comes to alcohol, there's always some secret Fort Knox somewhere. I watch him as he pays the grand total, face dirty, hair uncombed, dressed in his grimy shirt, and I put my stuff on the counter and listen to the cash register's drawer go ca-chiinng. "You're short seventy-five cents," she says, gazing at me as if I'm a criminal trying to rob her of her life savings. I don't have the change, but I so desperately need the groceries, and now the line of customers is cast in the awkward silence between me and the cashier. Before I can say anything to defend my case, I feel the smooth metal of three quarters against the skin of my palm, and turning as fast as I can, see two pairs of legs dressed in worn and tattered jeans walking out of the door, and a paint-stained hand waving, as if to ward off my petty assumptions.


Andrew David King is a writer from Fremont, California. He has been published in numerous in-print and online publications, as well as alongside authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Luis J. Rodriguez, and others.


A Cure for the Common Cold

by Sally Salmon

If I can have a just a few moments of your time, I'd like to tell you a story about how my sister and I discovered a cure for the common cold, wrote it down on a piece of paper, but then lost that piece of paper and totally forgot the cure. We were in Wilmington, Delaware, which is a great place to figure out a cure for the common cold because very little goes on to distract your attention, and my sister said something about popcorn, and I said, "THAT'S IT!" We were so excited! Two humble girls from Vancouver, British Columbia, visiting Delaware, and WE - without help, no less - discover a cure for the common cold! Sigh. I just hope whoever finds our lost piece of paper mistakes it for Orville Redenbacher's secret recipe or something.


Sally Salmon, along with her sister, really did find a cure for the common cold, and really did lose it.