Sharing a Roof

by B F Jones

We thought we had mice in the attic, or maybe birds, we argued about which one it might be, each hoping to be right for the sake of nothing but boredom. We debated over who's actually going to go up there, passing the torch back and forth to each other until you raised your shoulders too high and said that fine you’d go; and I watch you climb the dodgy ladder with a mix of satisfaction and shame and hope you don't fall down and wonder what I'd do if you did. You rummage for a minute and say you can't see a thing and I huff my exasperation and climb up the ladder too and I can't see a thing either and I'm about to say so out loud when a little fuzzy shadow scurries across. The rodent is not a mouse but a squirrel, carrying a nut to the makeshift nest in the far corner and we look at it for a minute and I rest my hand on yours long enough for the unease to grow and for you to slide it suddenly moist from underneath mine. I love you, I whisper in the darkness and my words echo in the stiff silence only disrupted by the scratching of the squirrel. Better get back down you say after a while and we both climb down the ladder and you go out into the garden and I make a cup of tea and sit at the kitchen bar, warming my hands on the cheap porcelain of my "Just Married" mug.


B F Jones is French and lives in the UK. She has flash fiction and poetry in various UK and US online magazines including Punk Noir, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk, Bristol Noir, The Cabinet of Heed, Storgy, The Daily Drunk and Funny Pearls. Her collection, Panic Attack, and poetry chapbook, Last Orders, will both be released by Close To The Bone at the end of the year. (Follow her on twitter.)


He Said He Wasn’t a Peculiar Man

by Kent Oswald

My neighbor of twenty years, Richard Hickory Robinson Sr., said he had no son, but used a suffix to honor an offspring he had in a dream. He told me this was not his real name, but one he had lived with for nearly sixty years after hearing a song and reading the poem that inspired it. He refused to share his birth name while assuring me that he would answer honestly any real question of mine. I believed his illness was terminal, but admit that my only corroboration is what he said and how he acted. Investigating the unusual circumstances surrounding his passing, the police reported finding no evidence to suggest he died of anything but natural causes, although the coroner’s report was not persuasive as to what natural cause it could have been that left him in the state in which he was discovered. I answered that he had no known survivors when the newspaper reporter covering the story asked, but added, “at least none that anyone I still know is aware of.”


Kent Oswald instructs and learns at CUNY.

Because They Could

by SE Anderson

The World-wide Drag Queen organization put together a little something for us, to keep their minds briefly off of the plague. Two of us scholarship students stayed put at the banquet table, where some 700 people, including the Mayor of Denver and other political know-it-alls milled around, but the other girl kept leaving and coming back, showcasing different gowns, different tiaras. After we three had finally walked the runway so that we could receive our checks, the guy from Colorado State and I were invited for the after-parties. Classes began first thing the next morning, so I begged off. Why not invite the other girl too? The mascara on the six foot one womanette was in place but the smeared lipstick had done a lot of work: she didn't earn those tiaras, her uncle did.


SE Anderson lives somewhere in Quebec and occasionally writes observations on her blog. (Topics include food and tales of speaking terrible French with dogs.)


My Memories of the Police Academy

by Brad Rose

No one could identify the body; not in the shape it was in. The early Spring breeze was frail and hesitant. There were no witnesses, no clues. In all my years on the force, I hadn’t seen a sight quite like this. Years ago, at the Academy, my instructor had said, “Be careful. That’s exactly when everything starts to burn.”


Brad Rose's website is here.


On Forgiveness

by Coco Densmore

Our affair was not intense. Well, I made it intense for me, because I'm fucked up, but it was far far from some grand all-consuming passion. There was no romantic love. It was desperation, loneliness, and selfishness. I just do not fucking know how to forgive myself. I just do not fucking know how to forgive myself.


Coco Densmore is an unremarkable middle-aged woman living in Washington State. She has authored a series of memoirs about her adventures in online dating as well as the challenges of living with bipolar mental illness. She's online here.


The Man Who Could Afford to Orgy But Didn't

by Paul D. Brazill

Despite it being the beginning of spring, a time when a young man’s fancy was said to turn... a tad carnal, Henry Becket was quite firm when he refused his friend’s offer to attend an orgy. He was well aware that Allan had made the suggestion out of a combination of pity – Henry had been divorced and single for many years – and pride at he himself being invited to the Bacchanalian event. But Henry said no. He justified his refusal in various ways, including faux-morality and a fake pride, but the truth of the matter was that Henry Becket didn’t want anyone to gaze upon on his fading, flabby body and burst out laughing. When it eventually transpired that the orgy’s actual attendees had been pistol whipped and robbed in flagrant by the Albanian gangsters that had organised the event, Henry was a tad ashamed to say that had wallowed in a brief moment of schadenfreude. But, still, it was nice to have been asked, anyway.


Paul D. Brazill is English and lives in Poland. (And online here.) His books include Gumshoe Blues and The Last Laugh. He’s had stories published in anthologies alongside Neil Gaiman, Ian Rankin, and Lee Child. He’s also had writing translated into German, Italian, Finnish, Slovenian, and Polish.