A Change of Taste

by W. Kay Washko

Hector Delgado needed a change. He could eat free from the Cantina kitchen, but cooking the same food every day had killed his appetite for it. He paced back and forth on the sidewalk in front of Aztec Cantina before heading east up the street with one eye cast over his shoulder. The House of Shanghai was just around the corner. Hector paused, looking both ways to be sure Miguel was nowhere in sight, then ducked quickly into the restaurant’s doorway. Miguel would never understand this need to sample flavors so different from their own, Hector thought as the Chinese hostess seated him.


W. Kay Washko, who has written as writeorbust, has also written for The Awakenings Review and the Kennett Square Theatrical Society. An appetizing poem, "Mushrooms," will appear in the spring issue of Philadelphia Stories. Her interest in cooking speaks for itself. (Consider "A Change of Taste" to be a potsticker before the Kung Pao Chicken. It's a small slice of a short story in progress.)


Party Trick

by Rod Drake

Up-and-coming artists and aspiring writers were all in attendance at Bill and Joan’s latest wild and drunken party. As the party spun out of control, someone called for Bill to perform his famous “William Tell” routine, and soon everyone joined in, clamoring to see the legendary stunt. After some half-hearted protestation, Bill loaded his .38 Colt long-barrel, and Joan gamely put an apple on her head as she had done countless times before. Bill waved for silence, cocked the hammer and aimed while everyone held their collective breath in anticipation. Then one drunk girl laughed suddenly, shattering the quiet and Bill’s focus; he fired, hitting Joan in the forehead, who dropped to the carpet dead as a mackerel, a smile still on her lips. The party-goers scattered like startled birds and Bill, after calling the police and coroner, took off for Mexico.


Rod Drake, author of Genesis 4, used to think he was a fictional character in a story, but discovered he was the author instead. Check out Rod's longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward and MicroHorror.


Next Stop: Fountain & LaSalle Square

by Victor S. Smith

The trolley was mostly empty; there were only four people on board, not including the driver. The woman to my left, the one with the sharp angular jaw and too-much eye shadow, looked like she was going to be moving out of her house soon, not of her own free will. The man who was sitting directly in front of her, whom she kept staring through – not at, but through, as if he was transparent – was lost in the mix that somebody had made him, be-bopping while we careened through the stops, his head bouncing back and forth. The man in back of me was looking out the window, and given his age, possibly remembering the buildings of his youth – that is where I got my first beer, that is where I saw my first naked tit, that is where I saw my first dead body. The city streets were getting darker, the day was rolling to an end and we four sat on the bus waiting for our stops, waiting for our turn to get off the bus and continue our lives. For the moment though we are all sitting on the cold wooden bench seating waiting for the stop at Fountain and LaSalle Square.


Victor S. Smith, author of How Charlie Chaplin Saved a Marriage, is a recovering economist who caught a writing bug penicillin isn't clearing up. His two blogs are Like Pollution and Marlowe's Sketch Pad.


What's In a Name?

by Mike Drucker

He knew why they laughed at him: he was a patriot. Sure, it wasn't popular to love your country. But, goddammit, he did. And to have a business whose name praised the only country in the world where you can live your dreams, well, that was looked down upon by certain folks. So when people walked by and giggled and pointed and laughed at the name of his bar, he didn't care. He loved America and he loved his bar, a little place where people could relax and love their country, a little placed called "The Glory Hole."


Mike Drucker, author of Marital Plans, is a stand-up comedian, writer, and graduate student in New York. He's very friendly although a bit of a jerk.


Flasher Fiction

by Madam Z

I found a parking place fairly close to the entrance of the mall, so I was happy about that, if nothing else, since it was hot as frigging hell outside and I was anxious to get inside the air-conditioned building and enjoy the cool, civilized interior, which was so different from the crummy, hot, primitive farmhouse I lived in with my delusional, wannabe-farmer husband, whose idea of a good time was accusing me of not being an adequate “helpmeet” because I didn’t want to spend every waking minute of my life planting, picking, canning, freezing and cooking our own food. He wanted to live off the land, and I wanted to get off the land. So I got out of the car and was headed for the entrance, when a really cute guy wearing bib overalls and no shirt came up to me and asked me if I knew where Bob’s Tuxedo Shop was, which I didn’t, so we went our separate ways, my way being into the Sears store, which I would have been happy to live in, since it had everything I needed in life, like climate control, bathrooms, clothing, beds, and a snack bar. I bought my supplies and reluctantly headed back outside to the inferno that was the parking lot. A green Ford sedan pulled up beside me and the driver, Mr. Bib Overalls, beckoned to me, grinning in such an enticing manner that I could not resist approaching him, although I shouldn’t have, because when I looked into the open window of his car I saw what he wanted me to see, which was his magnificent manhood, standing straight up. “Omigod, it looks good… but I can’t… I mean I don’t…,” I stammered, as the sun in the sky beat down on my head and the sun in my groin threatened to ignite me from within. “It is good,” he said, laughing, “but you can’t have it,” and he pulled away from me, leaving me in a cloud of exhaust and humiliation.


Madam Z, author of Anger Pangs, lives, loves, and writes unpublished stories in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, though her heart is still in her native California, which makes it extremely difficult to do much aerobic exercise.


The Drunkard and the Dervish

by C. J. Serling

Once there were two men who lived across from one another on two sides of the same street, one of whom was a wretched drunkard, the other a pious dervish. Each night the drunkard would look out of his window at the dervish and he would weep, saying, “Oh, how I wish I could be like that dervish across the way, who prays every night and keeps the Law.” And each night the dervish would look out of his window at the drunkard and say to himself, “Why, the way that miserable sinner drinks each night he ought to be ashamed!” On Judgment Day an angel descended upon their street, and, passing the dervish by, came to the home of the drunkard and took him up to heaven. When the angel did this the drunkard protested, “You have the wrong man; it was the dervish across the way who was holy and kept the Law.” The angel replied, “God has sent for you because your cries have melted his heart, but the dervish was so full of judgment there was no room for God’s pity.”


C. J. Serling, whose work has appeared in Flash Flooding, is a student of law and the classics. He lives in sunny Miami.


The Vow

by Rebecca Jane

Harold was a bad kisser, and Benjamin did drugs. So, Laura married Sam because he begged her. He had assured her that marriage was the best alternative, a way to make him stop wishing to go through with the sex change operation that his family vehemently opposed. Back then Laura was not in love with Sam, but she was willing to help him avoid any unwanted sex change. Today, Laura and Sam are driving a ten-foot moving van to Massachusetts to see if they can exchange their marriage certificate for a civil union. Through years of challenges and all kinds of changes, Laura realized she was deeply in love with Sam and vowed that her love did not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, or sexual orientation.


Rebecca Jane, author of Nor is Global Warming a Hoax, writes fiction to stay out of trouble. She always grins. She sometimes fails. She never squeals.


The End of Us

by Peter Wild

We were miles from anywhere, the tank was nearly out of gas and the howling in the woods was getting louder and louder. But that wasn't the worst thing. The worst thing was your mother, harping on in the back seat like some deranged harpy about what a loser I was, how you could do better anytime you wanted, how I should count myself lucky, yessir, lucky to have a goddamn mother-in-law harping on at me while the howling grew louder in the woods outside. I thought: fuck, fuck, fuck. This is the end of us. This is going to be the end of us.


Peter Wild, author of A Portrait of the Artist's Mate, makes his online home at peterwild.com.


My Childhood in 55 Words

by Dodge Reid

Do you really want to know what my childhood was like? I had a bunny named Fupher. My dad gave him to me for Christmas. On Easter he gave Fupher to the little girl next door. Her father built him a hut outside. Fupher was then eaten by a wolf (my mother saw it happen).


Dodge Reid is a physical therapy intern. Please take a moment to mourn her poor bunny.


My, It's Crowded in Here

by Jason Kranzusch

It is time to jump on the bandwagon. I will take up my stick and beat this putrefying horse. I grant myself permission to become a comic cliché. I must give vent to this feeling. I can't hold my tongue any longer. Every time I watch Everybody Loves Raymond, I feel like a nobody.


Jason Kranzusch, author of Jeter's Lament, likes buffalo wings, blues music and basketball. He blogs at axegrinder and occasionally writes short stories at Poboy Muse.


Eavesdropping Will Get Me Everywhere

by Amy Guth

The Mommies sat in the same coffeeshop they always met in, only now the suits and ambitions had been traded for conversation not about themselves but about the babies; sentences beginning with “I” were long-ago traded for sentences beginning with "we" and "she" and "he" and even the simplest hairstyles were forgotten in favor of ponytails and harried undereyes. The Daddies sat at another table, not these Daddies, but some other childrens' Daddies, who never once thought about their careers shifting or downshifting when Daddyhood arrived. No suits were traded, no focus shifted away to selflessness, no vocabulary changed to cooing and babytalk, and above all else, they were surprised to see how quickly the Mommies surrendered. The Daddies assumed the Mommies wanted this strange behavior, wanted an out from deadlines and ambition, and acquiesced to the swollen bellies, the tiny infants and the cooing. The Babies, on the other hand, were amazed, for even they heard with their tiny ears, the subtext and knew that it was never a questions of who would change and they wondered why Mommies complained and continued to change while Daddies did neither. The Babies would know these things and deem them odd, but only until the cooing coaxed words to come and then, as their brains learned to make words and express themselves, they were suddenly and completely stunned into forgetting all the things they meant to say.


Amy Guth, author of In the Air and On the Sidewalks, has written about blaxploitation, Judaism, feminism, media literacy, bandwagonism, art, cult films, racism, hate crime and social irritants for all sorts of places like The Believer, Monkeybicycle, blah blah blah. She's toodling around at the moment promoting her novel Three Fallen Women and having a very nice time, thanks. She blogs Bigmouth Indeed Strikes Again. Come say hi.



by Beth

I never asked for anything. I just did my best to treat you the way I want to be treated. Why is it that when I do this I am the one who gets punished, taken advantage of, trust broken and prey to your twisted logic. Disgusted that you were too weak to tell the truth; punished by your shortcomings. I want someone to look you in the eye and lie to your face. You claim you want to be a better man, but my dear the odds are truly stacked against you.


Beth, author of Broken, still prefers to remain anonymous.


In the Cut Grass

by Teague Bohlen

This will be the last time I’ll mow this lawn. New owners take possession on the first, and even though my friends say I owe them nothing, that I shouldn’t even still be here, I can’t stand to leave the grass uncut. My wife wouldn’t have wanted it that way, wouldn’t let me leave it ragged and uneven - she liked the grass best when it was freshly mowed, and so I cut it for her often, though it’s now clear that it wasn’t often enough. Our eighteen-month-old daughter is crying inside, I can hear her in her bedroom - she cries a lot, doesn’t understand where her mother is, and what’s worse is the fact that I can’t tell her anything, can’t even cry anymore, can’t even show her that she’s not crazy for missing her mother, that she’s right in feeling lost and alone since the car accident that blasted our golden lab right out of the way-back part of the hatchback and into the back of my wife’s head. They found the dog lying on my wife’s lap, his tongue out, her head bowed unnaturally over his, my daughter crying like she was a newborn all over again. I sold the house because my wife is everywhere here - I smell her in the cut grass, and in the gardens too, amongst the flowers whose names I don’t know, and she’s in my daughter, who’s all I have and all I’ve lost, and I keep thinking that I have to get away, get away and start again, but I’m afraid that I can’t, because there’s grass everywhere, and besides, no matter where I go, no matter how I begin again, I know that she’s the place I’ll start.


Teague Bohlen teaches at the University of Colorado at Denver, where he co-edits the literary and arts magazine Copper Nickel. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, was just released late last year, and his short fiction has been seen in Pindeldyboz and Terrain.org. His wife, he’s happy to say, is alive and well, and designed his website at www.teaguebohlen.com.


The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

by Sophia Macris

I was in New Haven, recovering from a Canadian boy who, after several months of chicanery had suddenly absconded to Ireland, and another girl therein. We were sitting in Mary’s apartment, nursing my broken heart with a Roberta Flack record, and the last track on the A-side was “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” The Canadian heartbreak was suddenly brief and insignificant. Roberta Flack took me back three and a half years, when I wouldn’t have wasted my time with a bartender, Canadian or otherwise. The record, the fact that it was a vinyl recording rather than a CD or mp3, the deliberateness of the track placement, it fit so perfectly with October, 2001. I had done this all before, Roberta Flack late at night, Sicilian pizza from Noch's, the physical act of turning over the record.


Sophia Macris likes owls, James Merrill, and tequila shots. She only gets published once every four years, but is looking to improve on that.


Men in Suits

by Diane Bossotti

These men in suits, coming in from the suburbs, where they live on tree-lined streets with wives who stay home "by choice" and children who wave little flags at Memorial Day Parades... These men in pin stripes and dark blues who have careers in finance or marketing or sales, who march through Penn Station from the far corners of Long Island and New Jersey... I watch as these men reach into the metal garbage pails that dot the station, grasping at discarded newspapers for their subway rides uptown or down. I watch as they tuck these found papers under their arms and proceed on their way. I want to scream at these men that garbage cans + newspapers = garbagepapers, stained with coffee, stuck together with gum (or worse). Oh, Men of LIRR and NJT, please spend the 50 cents and buy yourselves some NEW papers.


Diane Bossotti, author of Random Band-Aid, hates Suits who dive into trash cans, as well as wads of spit in the middle of the sidewalk and people who swing those metal-tipped, pointy umbrellas as they walk, threatening to poke and jab the people behind them.


Genesis 4

by Rod Drake

Kane Tiller knew what he had to do; it might not be legal or moral, but it was the right thing. When the deputies led the grinning, manacled murderer from the courthouse, due to be released on a technicality, the result of a police procedural mistake, Kane stepped forward from the shadows. Moving like an avenging angel, Kane put the barrel of his 7mm Glock in the prisoner’s left ear and fired before the deputies could react. The prisoner’s head exploded and he collapsed, almost simultaneously, sudden dead weight, pulling the surprised deputies down with him. As the crowd lunged inward, news media pushing their cameras and microphones close, Kane pulled back and slipped through the crowd which was straining forward, curious to see and figure out just what had happened. Walking calmly around the corner of the courthouse, Kane pulled off his rubber face mask and wig, dropped them in the trash with his gloved hands, saying to himself, “Now my brother will never hurt anyone again.”


Rod Drake, author of Sisters, often wishes he were someone else. This is not one of those times. Check out Rod's longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding and MicroHorror.


The Human Brian Continues Evolving

by Steve Himmer

Brian woke up Tuesday morning with gills on his throat and unable to breathe in the air of the house. His mother screamed when she found him gasping in bed, and his father dropped his suitcases near the front door and carried Brian’s weak body to the bathtub where he spent the rest of the week reading comics his mother laminated for him at the dining room table. By Saturday the gill slits had sealed over, leaving the palest of scars on his neck, but when he was woken that night by his father stomping downstairs to the couch he discovered a tail had grown in their wake. His tail was stronger than it might have appeared, agile enough to turn comic book pages and to pull the things Brian needed right into his hands, but it still worried his mother so much that he overheard his parents talking about it in bed for six nights in a row. It was a useful tail, as tails go -- more useful than the gills had turned out to be -- and maybe that’s why it still stretched from the small of his back when two feathery wing tips emerged from his shoulder blades the next week. Nothing else changed for Brian once he grew wings, but his parents were so busy trying to keep track of him with their binoculars and disinfecting skinned knees after his many rough landings that they had little time left for anything else -- like packing suitcases and stomping downstairs -- and everything went back to normal.


Steve Himmer, author of The Bay of Love, has stories appearing in the new anthology Brevity & Echo and elsewhere. You are no doubt shocked to learn he has a website.


How Charlie Chaplin Saved a Marriage

by Victor S. Smith

Silliness, he knew, was the key to getting out of any predicament, no matter how impossibly frustrating. Bosses were amazed with balloon animals; clients delighted and humored by joy buzzers, whoopee cushions and canned string. But, his secret weapon, his coup de grace, the crème de la crème that had never failed him, not once in twenty years, was the old too windy umbrella pulling him out the room gag. Once, his fiancé, while in the middle of explaining that there was a new somebody-or-other, was confounded when in the middle of the living room an umbrella was produced, from seemingly out of nowhere, the hat that had formerly been precariously perched on his head fell off and was sucked out the room by an imaginary force five gale, the umbrella opened and Jacques was whisked out of the room, down the street. His relationship seemingly intact - for if she didn't actually say, "I hate you and I'm leaving your for Somebody-or-other," she didn't actually ever leave him - he sidled up to the bar and ordered an Absolut Apple-tini. And his parents said clown school would never pay off.


Victor S. Smith, author of Sometimes It's Better to Stay in Bed, is a recovering economist who caught a writing bug penicillin isn't clearing up. His two blogs are Like Pollution and Marlowe's Sketch Pad.


Take the Time

by Frank Viva

Take the time to examine both sides. This applies to points of view. Potential lovers. Pancakes. Pizza. All the "P" things.


Frank Viva is a founding partner of Viva Dolan Communications and Design. Frank’s art direction and design have earned over 350 international awards from Communication Arts, Graphis, Critique, the Type Directors Club, the AIGA, the British D&AD and many other organizations. Past President of the Advertising & Design Club of Canada, he also has an international reputation as an illustrator, having appeared in Time, Esquire, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. He writes a regular column for Applied Arts magazine called Design Doctor.


The Eleventh of Eleven Children

by Adam Sternbergh

He’s the eleventh of eleven children, born into a Catholic family in Charleston, South Carolina. He’s deaf in his right ear. His father was a doctor, and his mother stayed at home. When he was 10, his father and two of his older brothers were killed in a plane crash. Every night, he would listen to “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” before going to bed and it would make him cry. As a kid, he was fascinated by the geographically indistinct accents of TV news anchors, and he purposefully dropped his southern twang, because he sensed that Southerners got stereotyped as being dumb.


Adam Sternbergh, co-founder of Fametracker, is a frequent contributor to New York Magazine. His six sentences are taken from “Stephen Colbert Has America By The Ballots,” which profiled the Comedy Central star in New York’s October 16, 2006 issue.


Code of Conduct

by Don Pizarro

John prides himself on making sure the values he holds dear are reflected in his everyday life. Every morning, first thing, he sits with fresh coffee and evaluates himself. He looks at a list of everything he did the day before, judging his actions along three criteria. Did he demonstrate his love in at least one way to his wife and both of his children? Did he connect with, by phone or email, at least two members of his Bible study group? And, did he cover his tracks well enough that no one will discover his latest rendezvous with his lover, Pete?


Don Pizarro lives in upstate NY. His writing has appeared online at McSweeney's, American Nerd, and Byzarium.


Somewhere Else

by Dorothee Lang

I will go, he announced in the month after his seventh birthday, I will go and live somewhere else. His mother helped him pack his yellow suitcase, added a pullover, an extra pair of socks and his favourite book. Then she went to the door, to kiss him goodbye and to make sure he took the right way – don’t turn left, she said. He stared at her, at the house he was leaving, and at the building five houses down the street where his grandmother lived: the place he had planned to go, but that was out of reach now. So this is goodbye, he said to his mother, then - following her orders even after deserting his home – turned right and kept walking until he reached the end of the street. Now where to go, he pondered, and standing there at the crossing, ignored by the world, he decided that he might just as well pick another kind of day to go and live somewhere else.


Dorothee Lang, author of Masala Moments, loves words, bytes and maps. She grows roses at the side of a carpark and collects moments in oil on copper.


Marital Plans

by Mike Drucker

When I marry my fiancé, I want Han Solo and Chewbacca on the wedding cake. Now, if you can forgive the inherent nerdiness, you might ask, "Well, Mike, why not have Han Solo and Princess Leia?" I have an answer. Because Leia's just a woman. Chewbacca's in it for life. By the way, she's Chewbacca.


Mike Drucker is a stand-up comedian, writer, and graduate student in New York. He's very friendly although a bit of a jerk.


The Ghost in My Bed

by L. Monique

I can tell by the way you wet your lips then turn to me and whisper, "I don't know," that again you are somewhere else. Last night you came home, dripping wet, a midnight run in the rain you said, the remnants of your whereabouts drifting down some alleyway and into a filthy drain. If I hadn't been standing at the window staring out into the darkness and seen the rain myself, I might be compelled to question. But as it stands, I've waited too long to ask questions, I've been too complacent to demand a change. Instead, I ran you a hot bath - the water was the exact temperature you like, told you to take off those wet clothes and then I wandered into the kitchen to make hot tea. I just couldn't forgive myself if you caught a cold.


L. Monique, author of Cadillac Knockin', is the author of a book of poetry entitled The Swallow Project: A Guide to Consuming Obsession. All that other fascinating stuff can be found at www.LMonique.com, or at her blog.


A Portrait of the Artist's Mate

by Peter Wild

Plump, stately Buck Mulligan was fed fucking up with all of the endless equivocation. "I don't see why you can't call a spade a spade and be done with it," he said. "And I've had it with the wine-dark sea as well. If I ever see another wine-dark sea again it'll be twelve years too soon. " Jimmy chuckled. "Yer fucking Philistine yer," he said.


Peter Wild, author of Every Planet We Reach is Dead, makes his online home at peterwild.com.


Next Time, We're Urinating Outside

by Maxine Riskant

When the backroom toilet breaks for the third time in the same month, the employees from the check cashing store are forced to use the Gas-n-Guzzle's bathroom because the Quick Ca$h store manager is off-site, doesn't answer her cell phone, and the plumber claims to be booked until a week from Wednesday. The money-handling innocents are truly horrified to see that the convenience store mop is coated in dust and something that resembles tar and is stuck to the bottom of an old, yellow bucket. Sally made a Starbucks run though, which means they all have to pee NOW, so they ignore the mop and enter the bathroom one by one. The toilet seat is cracked, the tank lid is missing, the unmistakable smell of sewer gas assaults the nostrils when the restroom door is opened, and the sagging floor is covered in something that might have once been linoleum. Although decidedly inconvenient, the mildewed flooring spurs several successful-but-undocumented Olympic-level, gymnastic-style moves as the employees leap from toilet to sink without crashing through the floor into the basement of the Guzzle. On their way back to the Quick Ca$h, Sally and her coworkers unanimously decide to swear off any and all liquids until Hump Day.


Maxine Riskant, author of The Plight of the Underage, is a pseudonym for Maxine Dangerous which is a pseudonym for a writer in an unnamed U.S. city who doesn’t make a living off her writing. Yet. Visit her blog, here's your gravy.



by Lesley Pink

She didn't think it would go anywhere. He was, after all, behind the counter and she was in front of it. It would be a cup of coffee, some awkward chitchat, and that would be that. It would probably be a disaster, and she would have to find somewhere else to get her falafel. But the coffee turned into drinks, which turned into dinner, which turned into him on her couch at 1am. The falafels were free now.


Lesley Pink is a worker bee who lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Entirely Up To You

by Kid Nougat

I was told (quite recently) by an extremely reliable, credible, influential source – more than once, mind you – that I’m awesome. AWESOME. Now do I say this to make you jealous? Why yes. Yes, I do. Whether or not you actually ARE jealous is [INSERT TITLE HERE].


Kid Nougat is an international snacking aficionado and a member of WASAW (Writers & Artists Snacking at Work). Do yourself a favor and click the link.


Six Thoughts Off the Top of My Head

by Cat Murphy

I want to feel more connected. I cry sometimes, privately, but I don't really understand why. I like to put whipped cream on apple sauce. I've lost touch with friends. I'm usually confused and frightened at work. Despite a ton of evidence to the contrary, I think there's hope for my future, and your future, and everyone's.


Cat Murphy lurks in corners.


Night Tricks

by Hal Sirowitz

I never think when I'm in bed, Father said. I put myself under the sheets to forget about the day. When I was younger I used to toss and turn thinking of ideas that could help me in business, and once I stayed up all night, and in the morning I rushed to my boss to tell him my plan on how to make us rich. He laughed at me; I felt like a jerk. The night plays tricks on you - it makes you think you're smarter than you are. That's why I always go to bed early and let your mother stay up late.


Hal Sirowitz has been featured on MTV's Spoken Word Unplugged and NPR's All Things Considered. His six sentences are an altered version of a poem included in Mother Said.


The Fish

by Garrett

My name is Garrett. I go fishing but mostly in the Spring. I started fishing when I was four years old. The biggest fish I caught was 24 inches. My dad's biggest fish that he caught was only 18 inches long. And one time I thought I had a fish so I reeled the string in but it was only seaweed - then I threw it back.


Garrett is a 2nd grade money wizard and a part-time football extraordinaire.