Wednesday, June 30, 2010

hap dixon in the case of the dark tunnel: chapter 3, an unpleasant discovery

to begin at the beginning, click here

by jason gusmann

visuals by rhoda penmarq

Chapter Three: An Unpleasant Discovery

Hap lies awake in his bed, Bodie at his feet.

He turns to the left, then the right.

How I wish I could fall asleep! he thinks.

But that clue...I can’t stop thinking about it!


What could it mean?

Empty angels...broken vessels...

Angels have wings and fly, just like...

And a vessel, that’s another word for...

Finally, Hap falls into a fitful, dreamless sleep.

In the morning, Hap is awakened by Dad firmly rapping on the bedroom door.

Up and at ‘em, Hap!

Hap rubs his eyes as Bodie hops to the floor.

Okay, Dad!

Hap dresses quickly and goes down to the kitchen.

In the white and yellow kitchen, there are no smells of breakfast cooking.

Aunt Cindy stands by the pantry door, her arms crossed.

She is smoking a cigarette and ashing on the kitchen floor.

She is not wearing the short black dress.

She is wearing an even shorter white dress.

Her long white legs seem even longer and thinner.

Her short black hair seems even shorter and blacker.

Aunt Cindy’s white dress is made of a light, gauzy material.

It makes Hap think of something an angel would wear.

Hmmm...the empty angels, Hap thinks.

Dad comes up behind Aunt Cindy.

Hey, Hap, your Aunt isn’t ready with breakfast just yet.

Why don’t you and Bodie go play for awhile?

Hap frowns.

But Dad!

Bodie and I are hungry now!

Then Dad frowns.

Hap, you and Bodie go pick some apples if you’re so hungry!

Hap kicks unhappily at the floor.

Okay, Dad, if you say so.

Aunt Cindy glares at them as Hap and Bodie leave.

Hap and Bodie walk along the sidewalk through the morning sunshine.

Jeepers, Bodie, Hap sighs, what gives with Dad?

I know Aunt Cindy doesn’t like us too much but...

Bodie looks up at Hap sadly.

Then, suddenly, Hap just shrugs.

Aw, nuts to all that!

Let’s go pick us some apples!

Hap picks up the pace and Bodie happily follows.

Now, Bodie, let’s see if we can figure this out...

Hap and Bodie begin walking towards the Reillys’ house.

Now, angels make me think of angelfood cake, and vessels make me think of boats.

How could they...of course!

Hap snaps his fingers.

What do you do with a cake boat when it’s empty?

You throw it in the trash!

Bodie barks excitedly.

The clue is telling us to look in the Reilly’s trash bin!

Again, Bodie barks happily.

Now I’m going to need to go alone for this next part.

Bodie whines.

I’m sorry, boy, but I’m going to need to use all my detective skills to look in the Reillys’ trash bin without Mr. Reilly seeing me.

You understand.

From the side of the house, Hap creeps up to the Reilly’s trash bin.

All the curtains on that side are drawn.

Hap slowly and quietly lifts the lid off the bin, then slowly looks through the assorted garbage until something catches his eye.

He gingerly moves some trash and finds a clump of bright white napkins soaked red with blood.

Oh no! exclaims Hap.

These must be what Mr. Reilly used to soak up the blood after he killed Mrs. Reilly!

I had better tell Officer Dan!

to be continued

Monday, June 28, 2010

the waitress and the satanist, chapter 18: road to yucatan, part 4

click here for complete episode

after the fall...

by human being

illustrations by rhoda penmarq

the window had fallen in love with the imprisoned bird... all day long he watched her hopping around the bare room...

she crowed every now and then... and stared into his eyes for hours... at these times their eyes shone in a very strange way...

each day the window felt the bird is sitting closer to him... now he could see his own reflection in her black eyes...
and at last... one day... something happened...

the window opened his arms wide... waiting for the bird... she paused for a moment...  opened her wings as wide as she could... and soared into his embrace...

pooches in palanquins

orchestrion breaths on lawns condensation
prevents dog mess from becoming coprolite
so many pooches in palanquins
sponsored by the unchipped
certain solace that fox and squirrel are still
red in these blood-letting latitudes.

/Jenny Enochsson

Image: Bal 1 - CHAM Wikipedia Commons

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No Standing Allowed - A True Story (Whitey RIP)

Part 1

i was out for a walk the other morning
engrossed in thoughts of art and sex (the usual)
when this albino squirrel approached me
he asked for directions to the nearest cash machine
after i explained the way
he thanked me
but before he left he said
"By the way, did you know that you're not wearing any pants?"
i looked down
and he was right
so i took out my notebook and wrote

Part 2

so i was out walking around
not really thinking about too much
ok that's not true
it had snowed the night before
i was weaving back and forth
trying to avoid getting my feet wet
when i stopped
it was the albino squirrel
frozen dead in the middle of the road
i paused and reflected for a minute
on life and death
then i looked around
bent down
and took his wallet
as i walked away
i thought
"that's the last time you'll ever point out that i'm not wearing pants"

Thursday, June 24, 2010

in fisher park

by arnold schnabel

illustrations by rhoda penmarq

In Fisher Park I heard a lark;
‘Twas the first or perhaps the second day of Spring.
I ceased my rambles and sat upon a mossy rock --
The better for to hear him (or her) sing.

The song he sang (or was it she?)
Drilled deeply into my unworthy soul:
“Cheep cheep!” sang he or she to me, most wretched me,
And, yes, I wept, and soon lost all control.

In Fisher Park I met a young lad
In Wintertime, with cheeks of rosy apple glow;
He showed me what I knew not I had:
An innocence buried ‘neath frozen snow.

In Fisher Park I met a young girl
In Summertime, and like a flower was she;
She put my crazéd brains into quite a whirl
But in the end showed peace to me.

In Fisher Park I met an ancient priest,
Mumbling his daily office (yes, ‘twas Fall);
He told me that of men I was the very least,
But that to Jesus this meant nothing at all.

In Fisher Park I heard a lark,
I met a lad, a girl, a wise old priest;
What did I learn in my ramblings through the glades of Fisher Park?
Only this: that God loves every man and beast.

“A Town Called Disdain”, Episode Thirty: two very brief but poignant interludes in the desert

(Click here for our previous episode; go here to return to the beginning of this unexpurgated and uncut serialization of Larry Winchester's A Town Called Disdain, a Dino De Laurentiis Production.)

September, 1969, a few miles outside a town called Disdain, in the lovely state of New Mexico.

The #1 song in the country is “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones...

And as our protagonists ride their tired horses back to Big Jake Johnstone’s dude ranch, little do they know they are being watched by the international assassins (and fellow guests at the ranch) Hans Grupler and the woman known only as “Marlene”:

Grupler and Marlene had watched the entire Thorndyke family episode through binoculars from a butte some two miles distant.

“Well,” said Hans, “things are clearing up. We know now they are renegade. That was a US Army truck, albeit somewhat oddly camouflaged. And those soldiers were trying to kill them. If they are worth killing there must be a good reason for it.”

He spoke in the almost-extinct Bavarian village dialect he had spoken as a child and which he had taught Marlene.

“Perhaps they intend to steal an H-bomb from the air force base,” said Marlene, just to add something to the conversation.

“Perhaps. And oh my dear girl what we could do with an H-bomb.”

“Yes. That would be nice,” she said.

Not that she really cared so much about the details. She let Hans deal with all the silly intrigue. Marlene was an old-fashioned girl. Just let her know where to point her gun and she was happy.


Daphne was way off in front. Every once in a while she would swing down partway off her saddle like an Indian and grab up some plant or desert flower and swing back up again. She would ride along looking at the plant and sometimes she would toss it away and sometimes she would stick it in her saddlebag, and sometimes she would just keep it in her hand for a while.

Dick suddenly noticed that there were two holes in the breast pocket of his jacket, where he had put his little Philco transistor radio.

He took the radio out and saw that a rifle bullet had gone clean through it, entering the front at an angle that would have led straight into his right ventricle, but somehow the bullet had taken a left turn through the body of the radio and gone out the thin part on the side, making the second hole in Dick’s pocket.

Dick clicked the little dial, but the radio was dead, killed, kaput.

He put it back in his pocket.

(Continued here.)

"I used to think I could write some hardcore Americana shit. Then I read Larry Winchester's
A Town Called Disdain." -- Cormac McCarthy.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

peter's secret place

by kathleen maher

illustrations by rhoda penmarq

I knew not to ask, “What’s that, Peter?” when he brought in the first wooden board. We weren’t that casual. Our conversations concerned the world and its needs, global hardship, destruction, and greed. And then, too, history and genius and fundamental, universal truth—nothing personal.

To an astonishing degree, Peter found navel-gazing repellent. “I, me, mine,” he said. “What’s wrong with people?”
When we met, I attempted to argue: People need to talk about their likes and dislikes; it’s how we relate.
But he said, no, it only leads people to demand that everyone believe what they believe. Well, all right; I went along. After all, Peter was the most intelligent, handsome man I’d ever met.

Averse to anyone worming around for validation, Peter naturally disliked revealing his inner life to me or anyone else. Initially, his secretive nature thrilled me—such depth and intrigue.
When we married, we made “non-intervention” our first vow. We would respect each other’s differences just as we respected other cultures’.

Our apartment has one bedroom, a tiny kitchen and tinier bathroom but high ceilings and thick brick walls. Behind the bedroom is a long, narrow, high area, set up as a closet, one half his, one mine.

Once, when he scolded me for examining his toy soldier collection, I said, “No worries, darling, if you need to be furtive.”  It was, I thought, just another guy thing.

But he said, “I’m never furtive, Angela.”
Of course, Peter wasn’t really furtive but should he ever wish for a furtive moment, I understood. I understood, too, not to question his privacy.

The stockpile of wood and carpenter nails accruing in his closet’s shadows meant nothing. I imagined it was like a musty, secret shrine. Or something.

As his project developed, however, I worried. Turned out, it was a boy’s fort, secured to the closet ceiling. I surmised but never saw that he shimmied up a rope and pushed open the fort’s trap door.
Our confines were such that I registered without actually watching him horde bottled water, batteries, flares, flotation devices. He acquired a Boy Scout uniform and soon spent—it seemed—his life inside his fort. His troops traded intelligence in muffled voices.

And then, several times he refused to decamp for dinner. This battalion or that, I gathered, had been bombed to smithereens. Well, please. This isn’t how I’d envisioned married life.

Yet since I was married, I tried to remain loyal.
Soon he wouldn’t come to bed due to military conflicts. He continued going to work, though. Until the holidays, when insurrections proliferated.

I’ve been staying at my brother’s and avoiding the landlord’s summons. I can’t run forever, obviously. My coworkers won’t cover for me another minute.
To be honest, I’m afraid here, ready with my door key, the hallway thick with silence and desolation.