Category: Episode 13


Episode 13

Welcome all you lovers of flash fiction.  This time around in Episode (lucky) 13 we have a variety of verbal cacophony for you.  As always these are loosely based themes that we run with to try and string together 8 stories in a dream like fashion.  Yes, sometimes they are frightening dreams, sometimes funny.  We are very thrilled to present 7 new writers to IBAS and one good friend who has been lending work from the beginning.  Please try and read all 8 stories in a row (they are small…they don’t take long) and then jump back and read your favorites again some other time.  We are pleased to feature work from these fab authors:  Josh Olsen, Jack Bristow, Eric Suhem, Robert Vaughan, Jennifer Hollie Bowles, Levi Gribbon, Zack Kopp, and KC Callagy.

Enjoy!!

Aleathia

Two chairs behind me, an old man dismantled a novel, page by page.
 
“You only get one chance,” he grumbled. “One shot.”
 
Rip.
 
“One term.”
 
Rip.
 
I craned my neck to see exactly what book he was tearing apart, but my view was obstructed by an Asian man I did not know was directly behind me.
 
His cell phone rang in his pocket and he answered in his native tongue, with the exception of one question.
 
“What’s the results?” he asked, then listened, hung up, and began to quietly sob.
 
“One term,” the old man growled.
Rip.
 
“One chance.”

“You see, I was once like you,” I tell the joyfully exuberant crowd,
who has been hanging onto my every word. “A wife. A car. A son.
A house. A parakeet. But then one day I just decided–no, it had
hit me, like a bag of dirty lemons–that I was wasting my life! Yes,
absolutely!”
 
The crowd–teachers, construction workers and earthly
poets–say nothing, but I know I have their undivided
attention; I continue.
 
“And that one day–a day like today, in fact–I saw them
all–my wife my car my son my parakeet and my house
for what they truly were!”
 
“WHAT?”  the crowd pleads in unison.
 
“Possessions. And possessions,” I say, “As I
have figured it, are the bain of society!”
 
The entire audience sits there, entranced. They have
all become naked and therefore posession-less be-
fore me.
 
“What starts wars? Possessions. In the
beginning it was swords, crossbows and
canons. Now it’s guns, sharpnel and Napalm.
All possessions. All that should be done
away with. What else is the catalyst for
wars? Oil, a possession. What else?
Imperialism: the act of taking other
people’s/country’s land/possessions!
Money: possessions!”
 
The crowd stuffs all their clothes into one whole
giant collective pile. I light a Havana Gold
cigar–not “my” “a”–and then toss it into
the entire gas-soaked mess of stylistic
conformity; the crowd–teachers, con-
struction workers and poets–go mad,
chanting my name: “Norman Rothedale.
Norman Rothedale.”
 
I give a gentle rebuke, reminding them
that names are possessions and therefore
useless. Then I rage on:
 
“Do you all want to be just as me?” I don’t
wait for the collective reply; I already know
it. “Then I will show you how to, it is that
simple.” I skip merrily onstage. “Burn all
your records. Burn all your money. Burn
all your memories which are, in the event
you haven’t already put it together, vain
possessions… Burn all your goddamn
cereals…your goddamn happymeals
and poptarts!
 
They listen–they cheer! I prance around onstage
wearing, you guessed it, nothing. Rupert, my
invisible parakeet friend towers nobly above
my bare-skinned shoulders, his claws digging
in deeper and drawing out of me another
useless possession: BLOOD. It runs down
my arms warm and thick.
 
My crowd–my people, you understand–are
burning and destroying everything in human
sight: Cars, streetposts as well as each other…
 
And for a brief moment–a millisecond, mind you–
it was all happening. It was all worthwhile.
 
We were possessionless and we are free.

Gordon parked his car in front of the financial center. He needed to be on time to give his presentation on the company’s strategy for identity success in a global marketplace.
 
“Who are you?”
“My name is Gordon Snaff.”
“No it’s not, who are you?”
“I told you, my name is Gordon Snaff!”
“No, it is not who you are.”
“Gordon Snaff!”
“No, it is who you are not.”
“Gordon Snaff…”
“You are who it is not, no?”
“Gordon…uh…”
“Who is not it, you are, no?”
“I tell you, my name is…”
“No, are you who it is not?
“I…”
“No, is who you are, not it?”
“…”
“You are not who it is, no?”
 
What Gordon found most disturbing was not the fact that he was having an identity crisis, but rather the fact that he was having this conversation with a parking meter. He searched his pockets for change, and found nothing.             
 
Suddenly, he was putting pieces of himself into the parking meter. It started with a toenail, which bought him 30 seconds of parking. Some saliva brought 15 seconds more. He cut a piece of skin from the nape of his neck, a minute more. A deposit of his innermost dreams into the meter gained him 5 minutes. Unfortunately, it was not enough. The car remained, but Gordon was towed away

Watching a crowded room of drunk, slithering people sliding onto spilling dance floor, sticky, false pretenses trump euphoric bliss. Hands like waves overhead as their half-cocked-to-the-chandeliered-ceiling mouths drool: “Look up ahead, there’s only blue skies…”

Last call words exchanged, secrecies in passing, buzzing as if intimacy is attainable between wooden objects, among hardened arteries and thread barren hearts, between the clotted pauses lingering at suggestive innuendos.

And the fall, literally, slithering into a bed of thorns. The dreams which ensnare, they sever that blue sky up ahead. Drown out the babbling chorus of voices. Because there is only dark, there is only pitch black.

And in the blackness, miracles occur.

            “I don’t know what to do,” she said to him, looking down.  He watched her melancholy mood spread like black matter across the floor to where he sat.  He fell inside of the darkness as though it were a black hole.

            “I don’t either,” he replied, rubbing his hands back and forth over jean-covered thighs.

            Five years of being together, and they still had no idea why they should stay together or why they should part.  The question of love was variable.

            The large windows from the loft hang suspended in the temper of the room.  They looked outside, but dared not to leave.  The karmic pull to understand each other made the room spin like a top with invisible threads, tightening and releasing. 

            Over the course of their relationship, she had threatened to cheat on him three times, and he had ignored her threats.  The one was connected to the other, but the excuse failed to appease him, and she was not the appeasing type.

            She looked at the grains of the hardwood floor.  The realities they shared entered and eluded her at the same time—for the sake of her mood, which shifted from sadness toward a cliff of sheer anger.  She knew if she spoke again her words would form as a shrill attack against his inability to make a decision.

            He watched as her pale face and chest flushed into splotches of crimson, and his fingertips grew warm, pulsing with the memory of her hot flesh. 

            “What do you want to fucking do?”  She said, knowing he hated it when she cursed.

            “I don’t fucking know!  Maybe you should think about what you’ve done,” he shouted.

            “That would suit you.  I suppose you think you haven’t done anything?”

            They both knew their argument was following the same pattern it always did, but neither one knew how to stop it.

            “Don’t put words in my mouth.”

            “Do you think you haven’t done anything?”

            “I think it’s all my fault, and I’m terribly sorry.” 

            “What is wrong with you?”

            “Everything.  Go away.”

            “Go away,” she laughed underneath her breath.  She could never simply “go away.”  Blood sank to her feet like pools of liquid lead.  Her fingernails felt dirty.  Her nipples, once his lone assassins, stared at him now without bullets.  He laughed at the idea of human parts feeling loneliness.

            “What are you laughing at?”  Her voice quivered.  He searched her deep blue eyes, but he didn’t answer.  She placed her arms underneath her armpits, and the damp warmth distracted her for a moment.  When he looked away from her eyes, the loft took on the blue mist of her hopelessness.  She jerked her hands down, pissed at herself for finding solace in her own physical juice.

            “Damnit, you fucking asshole!”

            He looked up at her from the black hole filled with blue mist, and his red fingertips reached for her.  He knew she had thought of fucking someone else more times than he could know, yet nothing seemed more important than how the beige wall formed a frame around her colorful face when they fucked, when his cock owned her.

The zoologist whistles in the launderette while his pants thump repeatedly and rhythmically in the rickety dryer. The dryer vibrates with the intensity of a hundred angry vibrators as if it was about to collapse from years of abuse and neglect. Much like a middle-aged housewife’s moist vibrator that lives in the dark and desolate crevices of her panty drawer only to get a short respite in the light and fresh air before being plunged into yet another dark, dank, and desolate crevice.

He hazily recalls how the day before yesterday the bats escaped from their safe shelter and chased a troop of girl scouts through the reptile house. Normally he isn’t inclined to reminisce about trivialities from his dull work life, but the look of panic and terror on that Girl Scout as she ran into and then through the glass display will be immortalized in his mind forever. If he would have known back in prekindergarten that his life would be a perpetual sideshow of bats feasting upon the innocence of girl scouts, he would have just ended it then.

Behind every face, another piece of corn. Behind every piece of corn, another face. Soon everything became a cornball in his mind. If anything was said he thought was stupid, he’d sneer, “What a piece of corn.” If he saw someone stupid, he’d think, “Oh, you corn face.” Corn had become the wadded archetype of all he scorned. Even the word scorn had corn in it, which he felt was fitting. “You piece of corn,” he said half laughingly half-jokingly to the woman with the fake tattoo standing right in the door of Kirby’s Saloon hoping to pick up some customers and give them a Tarot reading or school them in her other ways. She was a silently laughing but dying inside kind of leftover beauty after everyone else has gone home, and the whole thing is being swept up. “I am not a piece of corn,” she set him straight. “My name is Lulinda Cecile Harkinson, and I am here only as a favor to people like you. Otherwise, you would languish without me, for this is my penance.” Lulinda got so sad she started crying, which reminded him of all those plaster icons who start crying tears of blood all the time for no good reason. “Well, cheer up, Virgin Mary,” he reminded her. She laughed and the two of them went off together down into the town, just laughing and sighing, passing a bag of popcorn. There followed some interaction with the customer service agent, over there near where the old warehouse is, out near the dump, squatting there in a thicket of high weeds, looking like a mean old one-eyed encroacher on the land (being as how it sat out there amidst all the wild growth with two big windows in front and one was all busted and blacked out looking from vandals spraypainting all over it). Many passing wayfarers had set up their camps in the corners and eaves, even now there was a smell of burnt chicken from somebody’s breakfast, and the black smudge of ashes from the tramp’s cook-stove. Oh, hell, what would they think of next? Each former tenant had removed a long thread of torn cloth from his or her bundle of rags and tied it up near the door as a tribute to mark the presence of this or that gentlemen or young lady, person, or traveler. Many had even used shoelaces. There was a whole row of them tied up next to the door. Or maybe he was just imagining it. He kept on walking through the desert and staring up into the hot blank sky until he saw a long stream of faces coming out of the sun in a royal procession.

Bernard Blast grazes his eyes towards a decrepit barn barely standing on a barren field infested with abandoned construction equipment. Remorse and impatience stagger explicitly on Red Sand’s mumbling rebuttal.

“It’s not alright with me. How long is the way? Do you have any chores I can dig my hands into for the time being? A slight distraction to pass the time would be paramount to the lacking naivety I am mulling into segments arguments to solve later,” says Red Sand.

Bernard Blast misunderstands the series of questions. He hands Red Sand a sawed-off shotgun and pleads him to investigate the barn for a pack of coyotes. Slight whimpering is heard in the wind from the barn’s direction. Three birds peek into the windows from the peaks of a thirty foot pine tree. They fly off after a paw reaches out the window. With a little luck on the coyote’s behalf, the birds will return in a matter of moments, unaware of their foolish mistake and short memory spans.

“You should go after their leader; if you kill the head, the torso will shrivel into obedience, like schools of fish trapped in umbrella cages,” says Bernard Blast, balancing on his head. He thinks in pristine imagery with a head rush.

“There’s one glitch to your spawning theory, Bernard. The head coyote is walking the cliffs scanning the horizon for prey, unwilling to take risks. If I waltz in there now without a team to watch my back, I might as well bite through my own calves and tear chunks of muscle out of my back, or I could swallow a handful of strychnine and crawl in there, helpless, frothing at the mouth, veins surging like sewer water, and let them all get a tantalizing taste. All it takes is one mistake and zam, coyote club sandwiched…”