On Earlham Drive by Katherine Van Eddy

The dogwood tree
still stands in the front yard
where my grandfather
planted it decades ago
after he dug it
from the woods
behind their house
at the top of Vatican Hill.
As a child one summer
when I ran past that tree
a bee stung
the back of my hand.
My mother eased
the sharp pain
with baking soda
pressed into the pinprick
while I sat at the
kitchen table,
staring at the wallpaper
with green grape bunches
and fruit-filled bowls.Continue reading →

Baptism by Fire by James Gilletti

Saturday, August 16th, 1952 — 12:45 a.m.

     The room sweltered like a sauna. My temples ached and my throat was bone dry, but I wasn’t about to walk out of there, not until I got what I needed. After four hours of listening to this punk shuck and jive I’d had enough. I leaned across the table and spoke low.
     “It’s over, Sol. We collared your crew tonight and every one of those bums just rolled over on you. Why don’t just you just come clean?”
     “Come clean with what?” he shot back. “I already told you what happened, heavy. I called the orders in and I showed up at Schoenfeld’s with the truck, right? And I told my guys to load up the sofas.”
     Solomon Offerman was a real piece of work. He was a drifter who’d run just about every scam you could think of since he was a teenager. How this goof wound up in Tacoma I’ll never know. Maybe he thought he’d have better luck flying under the radar if he set up shop outside a big city. He was only twenty-five when I busted him, but he looked like he was pushing fifty. I don’t know if he was originally from Brooklyn or if he just used that damn accent to try and sound like a gangster. Either way, it didn’t matter. Everything about the guy was a ruse, right down to the permanent smirk on his chipmunk face.
     “Then what?” I pressed.Continue reading →

How to Steal Copper Wire by Jonny Eberle

Step 1

     Hit absolute rock bottom. Sell your guitar and move back in with your parents. Send out resumes. Admit that a studio art degree was an unwise choice in this economy and allow yourself to be humbled by the experience of losing it all and starting over. Send out a few more resumes, but you can stop personalizing them for each job, because you know they’re just going into the junk folder. See how long you can coast on paying your debts, do elaborate budgeting on the back of a past-due envelope and realize that you’re screwed.Continue reading →

God’s Will by Jack Cameron

     “Does it help?” I don’t mean to have the sarcastic tone in my voice but given the situation, I can’t help it. She looks up at me like I’m an idiot, as if this whole thing is my fault or something.
     “Of course it helps. You should try it some time.” I decide not to continue the topic. Prayer to me has always seemed like something for people who never outgrew having imaginary friends. And in the two-year history of our relationship, I’ve tried to ignore Lisa’s religious proclivities.
     “You think the cops are here yet?” I ask. She doesn’t answer. We’ve probably been in here for twenty minutes now, but it feels like it’s been an hour. It’s getting seriously cold. Walk-in freezers are not meant for human habitation, but the guy with the gun who put us in here didn’t seem to care. If I don’t do something, we are going to die in here.Continue reading →

The Previous Owner by Daniel Person

I was sitting at my dining room table, repeating the mantra of the hung over: too much, too old. In front of me was buttered toast and black coffee, fat and carbs and caffeine to ward away the burning in my stomach and the pounding in my head. But at that moment the food might as well have been plastic set pieces for decoration; I couldn’t fathom putting anything more into my body for the rest of my days. That’s when the knock came at the door.

It was Sunday morning. My wife was at work, part of a 12-on schedule that was depriving me of her but providing me with this house and this bread and, yes, this hangover, considering the credit card I’d used to buy my drinks the night before would be paid, without question, automatically, from a checking account kept flush by her tireless labor. A good woman; an evil arrangement.

The knock. I could see the man who produced it from where I sat. Sixty-ish, pudgy, neat. Were the Christians doing same-day recruitments for their Sunday services? That was my first thought, if that paints you a picture of what he looked like. A beat longer and he would have turned and looked through the window and found me there, staring. So I stood, withstanding an onrush of vertigo and ache, and went to see what he wanted.Continue reading →