Harold and Maude

by Connor Cannon

Stories were being told up and down the neighborhood, all untrue. On my block alone, pretty sure I heard at least five different versions of how the incident at the bodega went down. The version getting the most traction of course was the most sensational. Harold punched Maude you'd hear, over and over, no one old enough to know it was reminiscent of an old movie title. It couldn't be true, not possible. People like to say anything is possible, but trust me, not that.


Connor Cannon lives in Brooklyn, NY and makes custom furniture.


Recession Proof

by Sarah Cedeño

Someone has carved a pretty convincing silhouette of a deer hanging (from nothing) by its neck on the sign for Allied Builders. This is the picture of recession on Canal Road, but it’s creeping through the village. The graffiti artists are working hard, declaring “Fuck Brockport” on a once-white van parked in the old Brueggers lot, or coining the word “Blamege” on the abandoned Burger King building where people used to order food: white collars, a Number Six; blue collars, the Two for Two Bucks. There is a Pawn King now, but the lazy-eyed college-aged employee, who punches nonsense on a calculator, still doesn’t know how much to offer for the jewelry, so he says to the people, “Yeah, it’s just not worth selling it for the six bucks I can pay you.” Outside the vacant Burger King, the Pawn King rejects gather, their stomachs growling for that six-dollar gold heirloom. And across the street, a CVS Pharmacy will go up in the old Brueggers lot, but the graffiti artists won’t have insurance for legal drugs.


Sarah Cedeño is a writing instructor at the College at Brockport in New York who takes graffiti to heart.


The Six Laws of Suburban Children

by Victor Lembrey

Clean your plate. Finders keepers losers weepers. The dog ate it. Batman smells. Last one in is a rotten egg. Whoever smelt it dealt it.


Victor Lembrey, author of The Necessary Ingredient, is all mixed up.


Guns and Wings

by Elaine Thomas

Two young men, boys really, compete for a pretty girl, who doesn’t love either of them. Their fight escalates, as such small-town matters can, until the actual use of actual guns in the parking lot of a local fast-food place that specializes in chicken wings. As both young men thankfully recover in the town’s hospital, one gains enough insight and mobility to roll in a wheelchair down to the other’s room. He sticks out an open palm, saying, “I’ve been a damn fool.” “Me, too,” the other concedes. He takes and shakes the extended hand of a friend.


Elaine Thomas lives and writes in Wilmington, NC.

Pink Cup

by Tovli Simiryan

You were sixty-five the year I was born and when I was fourteen you reminded me it was time to decide on a philosophy of life. If you recall, my parents had few plans to invest in their only daughter and their decisions were sorely affected with an uncanny suspicion toward unplanned wind storms, three-dimensional chess matches, or change resulting from the intentionality of any offspring developing a quick and insurmountable wit. At fourteen, it was as if life was forever grey with low hanging fog refusing to burn away unless I opened your door; sipped tea from pink china, attracting patience, saving strength and settling for this pensive assumption: “Life is too long, much too long.” At eighty, your eyes still sparkled with a residue of youth; long, unplanned journeys; you answered as if forecasting another sojourn, this time with your great granddaughter along for show, “S-s-short—life is forever... but never long enough.” You would be 120 years old at the end of this month and I thought you’d like to know it has been nothing more than limitless, brilliant mountains that eventually sloped into unending plains, surrounding clear mirrors that became the deepest lakes and rivers I could have imagined. I am still drinking from your pink cup, which has collected many chips along the way and when it’s time to light the candle on your special day of remembrance, I may let your light burn until the darkest place in the universe admits to hope and is forced to shine, like a fat moon into the last quiet place I have left to visit.


Tovli Simiryan is a writer living in West Virginia with her husband, Yosif, and mother-in-law, Ester. This piece is dedicated to Daisy Alice Kellogg.


The Old Neighborhood

by Jay Butkowski

“It’s funny, y’know … my old man’s buried about 40 feet from where he went to nursery school…” The wind whips along the cliffs, a banshee’s lament nearly drowning out the words as they leave his lips, the cold steel muzzle of a pistol barely visible in the late March moonlight. “Yeah, never really left the neighborhood, never amounted to much, my pops. I told myself I wasn’t going to be that guy, that I was going to do something with myself, get a job that allowed me to see the sights, build perspective, and here I am, in Ireland, of all fucking places, my Pop’s ancestral homeland … and what brings me here, but a kid who grew up two doors down from me in the old neighborhood…” A thunderclap, a bright white flash, and I’m falling backwards now, over the edge, pain searing my guts, cold creeping in from the extremities, and that damn wind howling in my ear as I fall through nothingness into the open arms of the sea below. “No matter how far you run, sometimes you just can’t leave the old neighborhood behind,” he says as he turns to walk away.


Jay Butkowski is a writer of fiction and an eater of tacos who lives in New Jersey. His short fiction has appeared in various online and print publications, including Shotgun Honey, Yellow Mama, Bristol Noir, All Due Respect and Vautrin. He's the Managing Editor at Rock and a Hard Place Press, and has also co-hosted a series of Noir at the Bar readings in Asbury Park, NJ. He is a father of twins, recovering lead singer, and middling pancake chef.