Matterhorn by Titus Burley

burleyScreams from inside the mountain. Distorted in pitch because of the speed with which they moved. Grimacing faces flashing in and out of view as the carts of death careened along a doomed circuitous track. A passage of courage or some collective form of voluntary madness? The unearthly wails from within suggested the latter.

Surrounding him, looming monstrous, were stinky bodies scorched red by the afternoon sun. Glistening visages and limbs slick with sweat, stifling in their proximity, moving in a slow, forward shuffle, dragging him along with them like some unrelenting human riptide.

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In Barney’s Pub, Excerpt from Reunion at the Westside by Alec Clayton

Author photoJim Bright was the last person in the world Alex expected to see sashaying up to the bar in Barney’s Pub, the most notorious gay bar in Wetside, Washington. Jim had been Mister Everything in high school almost fifty years ago—all-conference quarterback for the Jefferson High School Golden Wave, track star (holder of the state record in the mile. 4:28), class president (unopposed), voted most handsome and most likely to succeed (both in and out of bed was the popular quip at the time).

If a murder mystery were to be set in Wetside the murder would have to take place under the bare red bulb in the well at the entrance to Barney’s. On a rainy night. Picture a black body as two-dimensional as a paper doll face down in black black water, the blood like an oil slick as bright as neon.

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Consumer Therapy by Joshua Swainston

bruce1“Ultimate Doo-Wop Super Hits is the most complete set ever released, and I should know. Hi, I’m Harry Green of the Edsels. Over the years, The Edsels have been part of a dozens of compilation albums, but never before have I been so excited about being a part of such an encompassing collection as we have here in this once-in-a-lifetime, limited-time-only, Ultimate Doo-Wop Super Hits.” Mr. Green’s pitch emanated in a baritone voice from the 60 inch Samsung flat screen.

Colin sunk into his beige, overstuffed couch, his left index finger tracing out the embossed numbers on his Visa card. Sha-boom. Duke of Earl. Blue Moon. With a phone call, the music of his grandparent’s age could all be his in one box set. In his right hand, Colin’s cellphone read the time as 2:45 A.M. At 3:00 the infomercial would switch from Doo-Wop hits to the Nuwave Infrared Oven.

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Ride Along by Jack Cameron

ridealongThe shotgun blast was so loud that it took me a moment to even understand what I’d just done.  I can’t say for sure what I was feeling. There was anger. There was fear. But most of all, there was a strange giddiness. If it hadn’t been my first time firing a shotgun, maybe it would have felt differently. The two men in front of me looked at me in disbelief. One of them had just the hint of a grin when the other one fell. And though I knew I was done, I was ready to fire again.

The previous night, there was no shotgun. My only weapon was a heavily used blue nylon jacket with the word ‘Security’ embroidered on the upper left hand side, like a nametag. My job was simple: stand outside the Food Mart from 6pm to midnight. That was it. If the place got robbed, I was supposed to call 911, like any customer would do. If someone stole something, I was to tell Todd, the night manager. I was a grocery store scarecrow. My training consisted of being told where to punch my time card and where to hang up the jacket that had been worn by countless security guys before me. Twice a night (at 9pm and at 11pm), an armed rent a cop would drop by while Todd did a safe drop. My first night on shift, the rent a cop said to me, “You’re just a deterrent. I’m the stopper.” He patted his holstered pistol for effect.

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The Stories We Don’t Tell~an excerpt by Melissa Thayer

ThayerpicNick remembered his only Ferris wheel. It happened during the county fair when he first felt wrong about this whole growing up thing. He was ten, and his brother was six or seven. Nick waited in line and climbed up onto the seat while the carny with the cigarette clinging to his lip lowered and clanked the bar into place across the seat. Nick noticed the carny’s dirty and yellowed fingernails and promised to always keep his own clean. He waved to his mother who stood by his father and brother who was too short to go with him on the Ferris wheel, which was fine with Nick because he only wanted to see the view from the top and not be distracted by the kid. And the wheel began turning, cranking into motion. Nick held the sides of the car as he went higher. He could see the whole valley and the river winding, and maybe that was imagination, but he would never tell the difference.

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Slipping Under the Rope by Titus Burley

burleyWind and rain lashed the streets of downtown San Diego – a rarity, even in the middle of winter. I had cranked the wipers to their highest setting and they danced across the windshield like a couple of stick figures jitterbugging on speed.

Today was Thrift Store Friday for the little woman and I, and no typhoon, monsoon, or arctic blast was going to keep us away from our treasure seeking quest. I had drawn up a mental itinerary for the morning which took us all the way from the Goodwill and St. Vincent De Paul’s in El Cajon to the Purple Heart and Salvation Army in Chula Vista and finally to a string of independent thrift shops in the rundown warehouse district of San Diego’s downtown – a grueling course for a couple of 50-something retirees (late 50’s to be exact) but a potentially lucrative one if the pickings were good.

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Rainbow ’77 by Dick Dorsett

777In 1972 I missed my chance to join a busload of nomads headed to the first Gathering of the Tribes, also known as the Rainbow Festival. They told me it was going to be the center of the universe, which may have been true, but I took a pass.

When the next offer to attend Rainbow came along I didn’t hesitate. I was working as an aide in a local junior high school. When school let out for the year, my work shifted to watering lawns and caring for the school grounds. I like physical work, but for this job my biggest challenge was staying awake, so I leapt at the opportunity to travel with my longtime pal Bob Almblade.

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Affair Begins by Nick Stokes

Photo by Jason Ganwichfrom the novel Affair

            She waits outside the door. Or inside the door. Not in the door. I am in the bathroom. She is in the room. I just used the bathroom. She presumably did not just use the room. Besides her, there is also a bed in the room and maybe a few odds and ends and four corners which she is not using because she used the bathroom just before me when I was in the room listening to her use the bathroom instead of seeing the room. Then we switched. Here I am.

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(That’s) What Friends Are For by Joshua Swainston

Joshua Swainston has worked as a mechanic, merchant sailor, courier, loan shark, club promoter, Ryder truck rental agent, MC Donald's grill cook, taxi driver, valet, coffee roaster, wine distributor, psychologist assistant, UPS man, Disney Story stock boy, and played Santa Clause. His short stories and flash fiction are printed in A Twist of Noir, The Frist Line, Fuck Fiction as well as others. While writing editorials for the Weekly Volcano, he won a Washington Press award for his piece about Ivan the Gorilla, “The Silverback of South Tacoma.” His self-published novel, The Tacoma Pill Junkies, was released in February of 2013 and can be found at tacomapilljunkies.com.It wasn’t until he scratched his nose and said, “I’m getting outa here,” that Reggie knew Lou was holding out. The nose thing was a tell, a learned behavior from years of dedicated opiate use. Red faded lines scored across his nostrils, inflamed with each rake of nail on skin.

The living room curtains had been drawn days ago, in an attempt to curse the sun, as well as entire straight world that thrived in its rays. The only remaining notion of time blinked from the DVD/VCR combination, but even in sobriety the neon numbers were held suspect. OxyContin metered the days at irregular intervals that suffered mania, desperation and beautiful, beautiful nothing.

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