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fiction

Lucifer Rex

Nicolette Bethel

He walked from California to Florida. Walked, they tell me, then hopped a boat to Nassau. Strolled off the gangway in his white linen and his Panama hat, swinging his ebony cane and pointing his ebony shoes. He walked off the gangway and stood in the middle of the street to adjust his cuffs and pick up his gatorskin bag, and then he said his brother’s name.

The Lonely Man Who Loved

Ace Boggess

We drink because we can’t speak, laugh to communicate, stare so our eyes have focus when thoughts and tongues are weary. Every now and then, my companion strokes the back of my hand. I toast her but say nothing, applaud without clapping, promise the world as I fear what she offers in trade.

Men and Snakes

Zdravka Evtimova

I felt good in the room that faced the wall of the old house decorated with sculptures of snakes and half-naked men. When my translation didn’t go well I stared at their taut muscles. Yet, I was quite happy when Stavro visited my office. He was a queer fish; he maintained that the gloom inside him blended well with the dusk in the room.

Aftercare

Steven Gillis

Wil Burrow is different. In the three years I’ve known him, he rarely shouts or curses or slaps me more than in a tender way. Not even when he’s had too much to drink and I ask about his wife and the question makes him sad and crazy in his eyes, does he do anything but frown at me and look away.

The Counterfeit Smile

Brian Howell

It was then he saw her for the first time since the dream, in three-quarter aspect, her face, her smile, floating out from her, like the trompe l’oeil effect of one of his friend Fabritius’s perspective boxes. She passed below his window, her gaze seemingly caught up in some indefinable contemplation.

Cobblestones

Nathan Leslie

Max and Pam have been married for two years now, but sometimes it still feels unreal, perfunctory, a play marriage amidst those who are really wedded. Perhaps if they hadn’t followed Max’s grumpy grandfather’s view and eloped things would be different. Sometimes Pam wonders if their lives are on track at all. She feels old, a walking cliché.

Duvall Street

David McGrath

He liked her sleeping. She was his infant, twelve years younger. Silken hair, nearly the same color as her skin. Pink lipstick not precisely even. He could hardly expect this girl to understand the significance of his being an emerging writer, Scott Thielman, an artist, with a 4,400 word manuscript in his carry-on bag, and that in two hours he would be sipping wine with a dozen other artists, all gathered to “workshop” with a famous novelist.

Love and Necessity

David McLain

Sometimes you can’t have everything you want. Times are tough. You have to project an image of success. You can’t let your guard down for a minute. You can’t get upset because your youngest child had a dilation and extraction earlier this morning, or at any rate you can’t show it. There are more important matters to attend to. Important matters that could help you earn six figures a year. Six figures a year, now that was something you could take pride in.

The Travelers

Eric Melbye

The edges of things blurred and faded as I watched the plan unfold. Helen settled herself at the piano bench and played “That Old Time Feeling” and everyone made up their own words. The ones who could dance did so, bodies far behind their ballroom memories.

The Golden Crown

M. Lynx Qualey

There is a tale people here tell of a mysterious golden crown. The crown, it’s said, appeared one winter afternoon outside the castle’s kitchen door. An old cook, dashing out to glimpse her son on his way home from school, struck it with her toe.

The Deserted Country

Erich Roby Sysak

She was a midwestern English lit graduate student with Oriental dreams. Didn’t we all have those dreams? Yes. But of distinctly different flavors. Linda gave the impression of packaged tea and two-day old jelly doughnuts. She touted the superior qualities of a western education. She disinfected chairs with an alcohol swab from her purse before sitting in some places. Her master’s degree glittered in its gold frame.