Who Says Quack by Justin Teerlink

The Adventure Journal of Theodore Roosevelt
(Bound in panda-bear leather)
February 12th, 1911

     Since our guide has no command of the English language, we were left to puzzle over the meaning of his. Normally, languages are not my field, and I could feel my impatience rising like a bubble of indigestion in my rotund belly. But we all strained our ears and I checked my temper, for what our guide was hitherto attempting to communicate was the very name of our enigmatic quarry.
     “Seesitch,” he said.
     “Seasick?” I tried.
     “Seeeesaquik,” he enunciated.
     “Sneezelick?” said Kermit.
     “Sesqak! Sesqqak!”
     “I hear you, man,” I said. “Sasquatch!” He shook his head as though he thought my son and I were both low-grade morons.Continue reading →

Written Off by Rich Furman

Fog demands faith you typically do not possess. Peering over you the tops of your knuckles; you have perhaps ten feet visibility, which means those random hands and eyes you cannot know possess the same potential, and determine you as much as your own skill or volition.

What is this, clouds upon the earth? Earth revolving toward the atmosphere, forever spinning and seeking? It is always about where you stand, and the direction you cast a given sense.

But driving east on Pioneer Parkway, liminal between Tacoma, Puyallup and Weller, the volcano creeps upon you. You resist giving into another fog, this milky ghost of despair. Feel it. Take it in, but do not let it consume you as if you were an arid slice of airline coffee cake and a careless cup of burned coffee.

Breathe it all as you drive east, the direction she soon, your daughter, will leave to, and in all likelihood, never return. Breathe in the years. It has already begun. It is not enough that she will be airborne; you need to know the vessel. You search her flight.Continue reading →

Late Spring Barbecue by Erik Carlsen

Don’t use that kind of language
When the pig is on the spit

Did you see that ember
Clocking across the whole yard
Landing next to the mole on her arm
Exposed between slits in her fashionable dress

Who does he pretend he is with when she is getting ready
That man standing next to her
With his hair around his shoulders
Like he has no other optionContinue reading →

On the Train to Chicago by Alec Clayton

     I was eighteen and thought I was a man. What eighteen-year-old doesn’t? I had joined the Navy Reserve and was headed to Chicago for boot camp at Great Lakes Training Center on a train from New Orleans. Just a country boy from Podunk, Mississippi, I had never been on a train. I’d never even been out of Mississippi except for a couple of fishing trips with my old man, one to Louisiana and one to Florida.
     I ordered pancakes for breakfast, not knowing if breakfast was included with the ticket—provided by good old Uncle Sam—or if I’d have to pay. I didn’t want to ask for fear of seeming gauche. A surly waiter plopped down a plate with two pancakes on it—no butter, no syrup. I didn’t want to ask for butter and syrup for the same reason I hadn’t asked if breakfast was included in the ticket price. Maybe people who rode trains ate their pancakes dry. Maybe only country folk from Podunk poured syrup over them, so I choked them down as best I could.
     To say I was not exactly worldly would be an understatement. I was a bumpkin—but not as much of a bumpkin as Randy, the sailor from Pelahatchie I met at the station. I don’t think he’d ever been away from his daddy’s peanut farm. He was tall and gangly with dry hair and buck teeth. I thought he looked like Li’l Abner. He sounded like he was shouting through a megaphone whenever he spoke.Continue reading →

VanCity Blues by Lory French

     I swatted his hand away when he pointed at the woman’s purple bra. I didn’t mean to hurt him but I forgot, in my haste, that I had a pen in my hand.
     “Fuck!” Dave screamed loudly. “That stabbed me right between my fingers! What the fuck, Olivia?”
     Several shocked Canadian heads swiveled toward us, expressions varying from confusion to disapproval. Among them was the curly blonde lady with the purple bra peeking over her sweater’s neckline. She colored, definitely noticing us now, and tugged her shoulders to fully cover her cleavage.
     “I’m sorry,” I hissed, “but you were pointing!”
     “That really hurt, Olivia.”
     “I said I was sorry. But you were being really rude. Here. They don’t even know what to do with that. And now they KNOW we’re Americans. We were blending before.”Continue reading →