Category: Episode 20


Episode 20

Greetings.  The new year is upon us and what better time to bring up resurrection than now!  The dictionary tells us that resurrection can either be something or someone rising from the dead or something coming back into use.  In this episode you will find eight stories that try to give you a sense of bringing something back into the light…a feeling….a notion….a body washed up on the shore.

I invite you to read all of the stories one after the other for the full effect then go back and read your favorites again.  I am please to welcome back these writers who are familiar with IBAS: Ed Go, Tim Murray, and David Tomaloff.  Welcome to these newcomers and their bizzare tales:  Brandon A.M., C. Brannon Watts, Rachel Kearney, Michael O’Brien and Bobbi Lurie.

Enjoy!

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I saw two dead birds today. Of course, I thought of you; saw your face, how you’d squint in an attempt to not get teary. You’d skip a step, reach over to me. I know how much you see in these kinds of things.

The first was on the sidewalk this morning, the corner of Devon and Clark. It looked like maybe she’d flown into a window, the way birds sometimes do; I guess it’s the way their eyes are. Glass, asphalt, water… Perfect little bird body, feathers still smooth from the rain this morning. As soon as I noticed her, I stopped. There was a song playing on the radio across the street, too low to make out.

The other bird was outside. Just now. In front of the curb, before the doorway… I had to step over it to get in. I dropped my keys near its head and almost couldn’t stand back up. Its eyes were rusted shut, the breeze whispering through its feathers so it almost looked alive.

And I came inside, and had to send you a text. I know we’ve not talked in a while, but I had to let you know – It was like, I saw these birds, and felt you were near in some way. If that makes any sense.

Air’s light has grown silent, &the bathwater is being drawn. I open my mouth to say this, I say, I want to be the machine Amelia gave to the heart of the Pacific, but I am only one sky.

I don’t forgive forever my hands which have kept me rooted to a deliberate sun. Nor do I speak of the line &code that ties me apart to the lore of the great constellations.

By night I listen for the rough tongues of creatures who beckon me to sail, who beckon me to begin, &they say to me, Fly down! Fly down, &join us this day for the raising of the cloth.

Seagulls, incendiary, in the ravaging form of warplanes, ignite themselves in the distance between space &sea. Name by name they are falling, they, &the faces they will take of the false bearing among them, saying all the while, they say to them, We are all of us called Amelia, & we are all of us coming home.

Air’s light has kept silent, &the bathwater, still, it is rising. I open my mouth to say this, I say, I want to be the twin-engine Electra, to be driven to the bottom of the sea. But I am only one sky. I am only called We, Amelia, & I am soon to be coming home to lift you by your wayward wings.

The important thing about stories is that the miasma of hazy accusations, the horrific predictions the government has been hiding, the seething complexity of our private experience, all point to the fact that our mental inventions can be turned into a new universe for the so-called reading public.

Effort is necessary, of course.

Your stories must be published.

But, don’t worry: there is a wide spectrum of definitions of success.

The principles of inner work must be applied. They are important since we form judgments of others. Judgment, like gossip, takes the form of a primitive religion.

We learn in our early training that there is a moral authority.  Our mental baggage makes the passage more difficult. Packing light is essential. So is knowing when to get off the train.

I say that as a metaphor. God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.

My teacher walked through the door. The door was mahogany.

“I can’t guide you reliably,” he said. “I’m at a panicked standstill. My career has disappeared. By the time there’s work I will have forgotten all the details which made me a candidate for employment in the first place.”

I once was beautiful. Until the institution. But I never cared about clothes or maintaining my body as an object.

They arrested me for drunk driving, for assaulting my hairdresser, that idiot. They gave me shock treatment and said I was cured of whatever disease they invented me for. I puked my guts out.

I had the stamina to hitchhike inspite of it and, yes, they arrested me. They forced me to eat my own feces. I was raped by orderlies. I was a sex slave for male doctors.

I said to my lazy teacher: go fuck yourself!

Aunt Yola let her white neglige slip to the floor.

Steve and I had never seen a woman nude before. She was a big lady, a huge, fat cow of a woman, and Uncle Bob had been asleep for hours at that point. And she motioned for us to follow her, but I didn’t know what to do. Steve moved forward. Aunt Yola placed a stale donut in a napkin and left it on the TV tray. She said that it was for me, and it was okay to be scared because the brave were ignorant.

She took Steve into the dimly lit bedroom and shut the door behind them. I sat in the living room for some time. Uncle Bob was still asleep on the couch, the funny papers bunched up under his bare legs and his big slab of an arm draped over his eyes. He breathed deep and loudly. I didn’t eat the donut.

The light switched off in the bedroom.

My father had sent us across the street that night with two eggs, one for myself and the other for Steve. But we never got to eat them. I wandered into the kitchen and drank out of a coffee pot. The milk in the fridge had gone bad, and I remember having diarrhea earlier that day. I wanted to know what Steve was doing, but I wouldn’t go near the door. Instead, I went back into the family room and alternated looking at Uncle Bob’s heaving gut and blankly staring into the television screen, long gone into static.

Shortly after, I heard the metal knob on the door jiggle and Steve walked out, gingerly. Aunt Yola was on her stomach, lying naked on the bed. Steve and I lied down on the den floor together.

He was sad, and would be turning twelve the next day.

From my closed eyes, all I can see is black. Hopeless, heartless black, enveloping all in a shroud of nothingness. I breathe out, and can feel a gallon of consciousness evaporate into thin air. Warm, homely air, abandoning me. I can see them coming. Their dark silhouettes dance on the dark wall of my room, the wood of the walls casting shadows as far as the setting sun will toss them.

In the pit of my stomach, I know that this is a bad idea—I should turn back before that one comes into mind. I don’t want that memory back, I can just tell from the way she stares at me with such animosity and disgust, her skin writhing from the muscles she clenches to try and destroy me. I vaguely sense my hollow heart twisting and shouting at me.

But it’s too late—I can feel their hands pulling me down. Cold, writhing hands from the memories that so hate me—they rip the breath from my lungs and the blood from my heart. I choke, convulsing as I try with all my might to get the air back. My brain slows, numb from the lack of sweet oxygen.

Their red faces turned ashen as Madoc’s corpse rose from the muddy bank. His coracle was shattered on a near by rock and his supply of sherbet dib-dabs  and Beano comics had been washed away. He muttered something and then noticed the shocked Mandan staring at him. He greeted them in the most formal middle Welsh he could muster. But to the Mandan, his exhausted unintelligible utterances made Madoc seem even more like the undead. Unfortunately for Madoc the Mandan had a policy for dealing with the undead. It involved beating them with sticks

bobby mcbain eats bacon for breakfast, pork chops for lunch & chews his chitlins as he struts across the sty & shits in the trough; other pigs call him judas & think that farmer lazarus ought to make a meal of the cannibalistic bastard: they hate him almost as much as they hate themselves. what they don’t know is how bobby saved lazarus mcbain that larksome night 3 years ago—soon after the barren mrs mcbain took her own life—as the farmer lay alone in his bed; how there came a knock at the door & he opened it to find the piglet in swaddling clothes & the note:  please love & cherish him as your own & how the farmer wept & the piglet wept as he christened him w/ bacon grease & mrs mcbain wept, her tears coming down in the rain, gentle q-tips in the gutter; & jesus wept

March 8, 1971. Madison Square Garden.

Smokin’ Joe is dead. Cold black skin. But once his nostrils flared in the prime of life. Two coal black eyes darting. Green trunks glimmered under exhausting ring lights. That left hook. That left hook the graybeard historian of pugilism says removing unlit cigar from lip. That left hook was a gift from the gods. Poetry in motion. A modern art masterpiece. Picasso in gloves. That left hook. Effortless. Shakespearean in its immensity because the floor was always littered with bodies when Smokin’ Joe was through. Watch the sweat on the brow of Frazier. He bobs in that characteristic style. Almost looks nervous. Yet his blood is pure as ice. Bobbing. Take a punch. Counter. Bobbing. A straight right. Ducking. Then. Then. The delivery of that hook. That marvelous left hook. It would start from the floor. Born in his short muscular legs. His torso winding. Tension and bullet fast delivery. That left hook like a furious brown piston firing. The gods are smiling as the flashbulbs pop. The gods are smiling as the canvas quakes and the fans erupt. A volcano of cheers. The gods are smiling. The gods are well pleased with their native son. Ask Ali. The Greatest? Not that night.