Oh yes….it is time again for another episode of In Between Altered States where we try to string together 8 pieces of flash fiction into a twisted dream. Each story is loosely themed for a bit of cohesiveness though each writer gets to take the theme to the far reaches of their minds. This episodes theme is “cleaned out”. Come take a little trip with us on what that means. I would like to welcome back writers Ben Pullar and Kevin Ridgeway and give a barbaric yawp for the newcomers to IBAS: RL Raymond, Frankie Metro, Paul Tristram, Kyle Hemmings, Craig Scott, and Gertrud Pehk. As always, please read the stories from start to finish for the fullest effect and then go back and read your favorites again. Enjoy!
Category: Episode 17
It’s a bleeding thumb, Agatha Fenton! Don’t you understand anything? She understands nothing, but she is still plying me with cigarettes in the odd hope I’ll sign my autograph. I take the pen and I grapple with it. I get blood from my thumb all over the pen. I take a close look at the pen. It’s a mess. A stick of dripping red wax melting all over the thing she wants me to sign. Which, now I look at it, is a man. A middle-aged man. A small man. His name is Oscar Hertz. He smells of tapioca. He’s forty-seven years old, according to the problems in his eyebrows. I lower the pen to his forehead. I get ready to sign my name all over it. But the pen dribbles blood all over Oscar Hertz’s forehead. I begin to wave the pen like a wand, until I have dribbled my name in blood on his forehead. I smile and say ‘there you go,’and Agatha Fenton just goes crazy with rage. She starts producing electric hammers from all the pockets of her six-foot tall body trumpet. I dodge them, bat a few back in her direction with the bleeding pen. Oscar Hertz laughs and claps his hands. And I run. I run for an hour until I get to the famous church lift. A whole entire church which goes to the fortieth floor, my penthouse apartment. A huge party hosted by my uncle Steve is all I have left in the whole world. It’s two years old, but it’s a nice place to hide. In twelve minutes I’ll probably go and have an hour long bath and get rid of all the thumb blood from my body. If the whole world doesn’t just bloody end, I mean.
When the delivery van pulled up, they wondered what the Gilberts had ordered: new furniture; appliances; a hot tub maybe? It was difficult to guess, because the white van had no visible logos, and the driver had skillfully pulled right up to the garage door, as if pulling up to a loading dock.
– They’ve got more money than brains those people, old Mildred creaked, and we hardly ever see them anyway, probably growing marijuana in there, probably getting new ‘hydrophonic’ stuff, or some other godforsaken thing…
We laughed at the old lady’s malapropism and grumblings, waving to the nondescript delivery man as he pulled away, having gently closed the garage door.
– I can’t believe you all WATCHED HIM, and WAVED — he cleaned us out, took almost everything!
Mr Gilbert moved his family from the neighbourhood a week and a day later.
If the bleeding didn’t stop, it has long since cauterized; dried between cracks in the makeup. Her sweet face like sidewalk meat.. heavy, littered with footprints, smog & the like. A quarter in an empty cup of coffee. A liter of dog, simmering next to her. I remember when she slept in the room next door. I would ask her (in the darkness of Buena Vista) if she ever pictured home the same way. She would roll over-pull the BART schedule over the bony sockets and pretend the question never existed.
Cold. No patience for the world around her. When it grew quiet, she staged vicious-verbal assaults on small, unseen children. She named the son: Regret; the daughter Late. There was a nuclear family of mistakes on her soiled breath and she exhaled cockroaches in between the hacking of her persistent cough.
Bitter, frenzied animals would usher forth-devouring the shells.. cleaning up the mess.. returning to the circus inside her sour guts. Jesters in funeral ties would spit fire from her throat. Jackals roamed free. Fists were born clinched from the desolate womb. Eunychs sang from the desert in her taste buds. Sheep turned cannibalistic and you could see the moon crest at the roof of her ramble.
She wreaked of Thunderbird and Mad Dog. She smoked cheap thrills on the grass in the sunlight. She pretended her cock was showing when strangers approached and always smelled the “other woman” on her rags.
She left the motel empty. She left it all behind in the dumpster. Everything she could carry. Checked out.. and when I finally found her answer.. motionless near the middle of the tracks.. when the dogs had their fill.. when the city closed its doors to her and let the real fear in-the face was still intact-frozen with blush and desperation. The smile was an obtuse angle that no one will remember. The blood had melded with the ink on the page. The Classifieds section was crumpled under her head. It was from last April.
It was sent to the wrong address. It was meant for the current resident. She didn’t like to speak of home. She could talk of the omnipotent vortex.. ask for compassion from the stop signs.. beg the traffic to crawl through a small rift in the waves of her black spirit and disappear. She could sing dragonflies into the room and burn the furniture; sleep with her visions still sordid and traverse the hills of San Francisco in bare feet, booming panic.. and hold the dice in every corner with no regard for the money.
But she couldn’t draw a house-that didn’t lean in the wrong direction. It always turned out to be a glob of what if’s and non-linear circumstance. It was built from shame. It was a hearth for hatred and apathy. It was too big for her to live in, all by herself…
The night of the rehab Halloween party is upon us. You squint as you stuff your man junk into some CVS brand pantyhose and let your flamboyant West Hollywood bunk mate do your hair and makeup. Adjust your bleach blonde wig. You look in the mirror and realize that you want to fuck yourself. This will have to wait until lights out. Outside, underneath the trees of this woodland retreat, your Alcoholic Fairy Godmother has transformed one of the AA meeting vans into a chariot commandeered by the local raccoons, who have been turned into Drug Counselors for the night. You’ve made your big entrance and you’re the Belle of the Ball–no one can touch you. Your mascara streams down your teary face as you accept the award for Miss Detox 2009; your prize of an extra day pass this month is earth shattering–but it is just gravy. Wave and blow kisses to your admirers. Do one more stroll down the catwalk and a final vogue. Pandemonium! Get back to your chariot and the comfort of your bunk before you turn back into a recovering drunk at midnight. And don’t forget your nighttime medication.
She scrawled on a beer mat. Turned a butterfly into a daffodil and he moved closer. He wanted the nectar inside her, a place he would need to slice with a knife to get at. Her hair shook thunder inside him as he punched the space in between them with his soul clenched. She looked at him with a certain disdain for life, a ‘who gives a fuck stare’, and kept on moving the pencil making him want her more. He dug a trench around her in his mind, ‘cross this line and you’ll feel my teeth’. The barman stepped aside from collecting the glasses. He knew she felt his rage creeping through the wood of the bar, vibrating her paper, her fingers and her blood. She looked up at him vacant with more than a challenged grin on her face.
He wanted to tear the jukebox off the wall and slap her awake but he merely trembled with anticipation. He glanced at her wrist, in between her sleeve and tattoos and saw her hair, like dandelion wishes kissing each other good morning. She stepped to him so close that they were sharing each other’s breath. She hovered there at his lips thinking of something to say, instead she kissed him hard and stabbed his thigh with her pencil. He bit her lip and shoved her back. She stood there, teeth red and grinning. He grabbed her by the hair and pulled her soul out of the melancholy pit it resided in and turned her sideways. He refused offers of help from the other patrons in the pub with a “FUCK OFF! SHE’S MINE! I have crawled over mountains and beneath oceans just to see her scratch her face!” She let him drag her out of the pub by her hair like a willing animal. She left delicate drops of crimson upon the pigeon grey slate which left the patrons wondering.
Outside he pinned her against the wall. The pencil, still stuck in his thigh, ground in further as he pressed against her. He turned and slapped her. His right hand like a hurricane. The shock buzzed around her head kissing her like pretty little violent wasps. He wanted to kiss every part of her ten times over, but first he had to fight the dazzling harlequin, the leprechaun and police. They were everywhere. He readied himself. She clung to him as he 360’d and lunged. She clung to his back. Stanley knife in each of his hands, eyes focused and full of murder. She gasped at his rage and passion as he slashed red poetry into the night air. She was turned on by his chest heaving and by the electricity arcing off of his body into hers. She licked the sweat from behind his ear and mixed it with her own blood on her tongue. She wanted this night, him, everything he could give and then more.
They cuffed them together and threw them in a black maria. In the shit and shadows they clung together. Into cell two they went. She climbed on him, noticing on the wall ‘Bonnie & clive was here!’.
“Wankers,” she thought as she rode him, loving him until the morrow.
I wake up with a scream. Mine. I always try to travel light at night but this. . . On the pillow next to mine, Kat opens one eye then the other. When did you shave your head? I ask, shaking like a newborn pup that dropped and landed in our bed.
Oh, some guy crept in last night and cut it. I think he was a modern ninja. He said he wanted to bring my chestnut locks to his master. His master thought chestnut was just for horses. There might be a ritual involved. Maybe even barter. My lock for seven of your dribbling goats that you promised could talk like big shit mountain gods. I couldn’t see much of him in the dark, but he was kind of cute dressed as a simple wood gatherer. Then he flew out the window like a skylark. Or maybe the floor opened up for him. I bet he could walk on water too. Maybe surf on a wave of my hair. I don’t think it was a dream.
Very funny, I say.
I dive head first under the sheets.
I’m Jacques Cousteau without a flashlight, looking for signs of hair.
The octopus in my stomach began its ascent up my reluctant esophagus. I scratched at my bulging throat, a fruitless attempt to claw open an early exit. It squirmed out of my mouth in front of everyone at Thanksgiving dinner. Auntie was in the middle of praising the cranberry sauce. Mother fainted. Father sipped his scotch. I must have looked like Cthulhu vomiting. The confused cephalopod bounced off my plate and fell to the floor. There it dried out and died. I wondered if it was a male or a female. I stumbled to the computer and Googled octopus reproduction. And learned a female lays tens of thousands of eggs. I burped. I felt strange.
My maw rutted into an “O” as a child suckling on a nimble artichoke.
mutter fret as she/he saw my visage was nonlinear and not of my possession, but considerably a man of grey mineral: my eyes conned her. they still perform. i was my times of yore: my past life. i/she still am. Who is this lovely chap?
Sleep now queen. Indulge in forty winks. Sleep. Catnap. Indulge in forty winks. …caramel – chocolate pocket ice cream.
I be damned, it’s the sadistic streaking of Mnemosyne. She is like a mitrailleuse grooming for karyokinesis. All rights reserved. Eau de vie artillery emitted the bagasse of turnips. I have mislaid them.
I am fickly creepy.
I need. I need. I need. I need a.a.a. Mithridate. Mister Mistake, ciao there. Have you cleansed your bowl? I do see b.M. you’re a scolded mistake. Ulcerative ukuleles. They cord the tresses of carcass into a bosom of salmon fascicule. I am so sic. I am so fuming, fucking, fSucckin, dire. I am most likely overanalyzing. I just now, shat my panties full of drab self-pity. I feel Lucifer’s tongue in my ear: his shadows. He chortles. He’s my next guest. He has donuts. W/C Time me…. Check! 3 minutes und II seconds. The divine release of a fetid God: jasmine sugarplums!Statutory rape of insalubrious ingestion and hemophilia – mature into writers blocc!
! – not writers miasmas; artistic incarceration. Morpheus, pure-scribe me hallucinatory cupcakes, heaving with stale fluff und ßcream.
I can morsel the bamboo of crystalline surprises; they’re perforated with attrition. I am happy like a nomad with candy. Pus. Rectal seepage. Linear venosity. Jah, a perfect hour. Your copulation is a tic-tac. May you ventilate my breath? Take a prayer from the lavender sachet.
More human than human: Oh, she’s a beautiful man.
Tin chickens, pastel noodles. Care to noodle with the camphor in my knickers? Cheshire cat is performing fellatio on a cheroot.
Now is the time to derange my prostate. Tea bag the dead! Write and fart your intellect.
Lord Castro implied to me, “You role your words with a theatrical tongue.”
Dew drops on kittens 0}}}} and ass kissing mittens.
lovely to have you so sweet and fired honey. Bring me to dinner and suck the sick grape juice –
fuck all the mittens and lay me adieu -Fish swim in parallels, into my heart! IV You II Remember: Fräulein lambs gorge at my sensationalism.