Category: Episode 25


Episode 25

Can you believe that summer is nearly here?  The face melting heat seems to shout pretty loudly these days and calls out to how writers tend to use this to their advantage.  Heat stroke can produce some fun stories.  This month we explore the idea of “Shattered” and as with other topics this is left up to the writer to decide how to define it.  Some of these stories are touching in their broken way, some are funny, and some try to answer questions we might all think about.

Episode 25 is proud to welcome new IBAS writers: Joshua J. Mark and Shae Krispinsky.  I welcome back some of my favorite repeat offenders: Maude Larke, Zack Kopp, Luis C. Berriozabal, Ed Go, Jenean McBrearty, and Shawn Misener.

Read all the stories back to back (you can handle it….I promise) and then go back and clickity-clack your favorites.  Enjoy being shattered.

Aleathia Drehmer

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In the attic, Mother built a country out of papers from her past, the sheets creased, torn and taped back together, yellowed.  The collection was a life long.  She pasted up the walls, spent weeks layering and overlapping her maps and postcards from La Paz and Tijuana and Monterrey just so, her hands for once steady as she smoothed out the bubbling surfaces.  If she couldn’t get to Mexico, she would bring it to her.  Small, thready slices of red appeared all over her skin. Glue dried and hardened in her thick, inky hair.   As soon as she finished, she moved in, taking her ancient wooden chest, her jar of whispers, her faded, fraying quilt, and never came out.

Give her a few days, I thought to myself and waited.

After weeks had passed, I crawled up the stairs, a black fear in my throat.

“Mother.”  I rapped on the door.  It wrinkled beneath my knuckles.  “Mother, let me in.”

All I heard in response: a pulpy cough.  I tore through the walls.  She was as frail and flat as tissue.  Her hair hung like crepe.  Old stamps she had peeled from her letters covered her face.  On her forehead,written in black marker: To Mexico.  I threw open the window.  A gust lifted her up and pulled her out.

How long does it take to get to Mexico?   A lifetime – or, five days by mail.

A whole life lost.  A life like running alongside a car you’ve fallen out of.  The whack of fingers against searing sunlit metal as you try to scramble back in.  The memory of the feel of brakes under sneakered feet.  The attempt to console yourself by remembering the native tribes’ veneration of running.  The continued jarring of the fleeing surface.

A roadblock looms and you know that you and the car will unite in it, blood leaking into oil.  Then you do resolve.  You tell yourself what you know.

I don’t get the answer if I don’t ask the question.

An idea is good to use, even if I don’t use it.

I keep scrap paper for a reason.

You never think to let the possessed thing roll away, explode, use the smoke to guide you as you turn your back on it and find a horse, a bicycle, a breath.  You manage to multiply the footfalls before exploding through that barrier and projecting yourself beyond.

You have only a mild curiosity anent footfalls or what they fall on on the other side.  You try hard not to consider that there may be no fall for the foot over there.

I like to conduct myself in a leisurely manner. At first, you might not even think I’m at home. Part of me is several yards away from several other parts equally spaced about my living quarters. My left brain is just there beside the windowsill, best hope no cats come by, mistake that stuff for liver sausage. And if you’ll notice, over there, my right elbow, jutting out from beneath the laundry basket, half obscured by the playful tumble of frilly fabrics fresh from the dryer. Over here, my left eyebrow, attached to a patch of left forehead and the skin that used to run down one cheek, with a little bone and cartillege attached, a little leftover facial “mask plating” as it’s called in biology seminars in some parts of what’s left of the world. There is almost no integrity of form, in such a leisurely manner have I chosen to conduct myself. In this way I am everywhere at once, seeing everything from all angles. Having already gone everywhere even while standing completely still. “Pull yourself together!” scream my infrequent guests. Often they will suggest a course of strenuous diet or exercise. One even suggested I might try joining the army or at least the civil service to give myself a steady diet and hammer the needed rigidity into my skull, one part of which is over there. Chance would have it I found myself three steps ahead and said, “Ha, what flag? How should I wave a flag? Any flag but a transparent one that is? hah!” A true captain of leisure like me, feeling guilty even to stand still, one such as I, to place all my dumb weight on one part of the ground is the same as giving up. My love of leisure notwithstanding.

I do not mind being a patient here.  I found a dozen potential wives here.  I could go for the doctor, who makes the most money.  I call her “Sugar,” which is short for Sugar Mama.   She has a sweet smile and smells like honey in my mind.  I do not mind consorting with the social worker, who is probably too old for me.  I call her the librarian because she looks like one.   She wears glasses, which makes her look smart.  She wears dark slacks, sensible shoes, and has this aura about her.   She makes me feel like checking out a book, but I would rather check her out.    I call her beautiful because she is just lovely when she laughs.   Last and not least I think I want to go steady with the petite Asian nurse.  I call her “Dulce,” which is Spanish for “sweet.”  She seems kind of shy because she does not like to talk.  I think she is afraid of commitment.  I can never see her alone anymore.  There is always a burly male nurse and a tough looking security guard with her when she has to give me pills or interact with me.  Ever since I tried to kiss her hand and asked her to marry me everything changed.  I worry sometimes about these women getting jealous and starting a riot on the ward.

Sorry I’m late. Traffic.

You know, if we had flying cars. ..

You’re still on the flying cars?

Hey—here it is, the year 2000 come and gone, and we don’t have the basic things they promised us.  We were led to believe it would be like the Jetsons, man, but here it is and it’s not the Jetsons—it’s not even the Jeffersons.

The Jeffersons? Dude, that’s a Chris Rock joke.

Well, fish are fryin’ in the kitchen, man.

You’re a fucking plagiarist.

Beans be burnin’ on my grill.

What the hell are you talking about?

Whatchu talkin’ bout?

I’m talking bout she used to be a Riot Grrrl.

That was before I knew her, I swear.

I’m not accusing you of anything; I just wanna know the truth.

What is truth? And when he said that he went out to the Jews and said: I find no guilt in him.

I hate it when you do this. Just tell me if you fucked her!

What is fuck, and when fuck had said fuck he went fuck to the fuck and said fuck them: I fuck no guilt fuck him.

So if you didn’t, did he?  You could tell me that at least.

Fuck is fuck, fuck when fuck fuck said fuck fuck went fuck fuck the fuck fuck said fuck fuck: I fuck fuck guilt fuck fuck.

Oh yeah, well fuck fuck fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck: fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. What do you have to say about that?

It was the 90s—we all fucked a Riot Grrrl.

He finds a beach ball and  recreates humanity upon it.  Kicking it down the shore he wonders how  the little people must feel about each other.  To place them on such  a tiny globe almost seems unfair.

The only way to make  himself real is to spawn others that believe in him.  He sweats and  watches the bouncing boobs of the women who gather around him.  It’s  hard to restrain his erection.

When his pants explode  his penis is let loose with the force of a sonic boom.  The women  faint and his ball explodes into a million fluttering scraps.  He  weeps as the little people fall to the ground.

It will take him years to reel in his infinite penis, which he must do carefully.  He’s too shaken.  Nobody else should share the fate of his beach ball children.

Everything in what once was a KFC was shattered. Even the ice cube and soft drink dispenser. “Ain’t seen a twister like that since Dorothy left Kansas in ’39,” Old Man Lahr said. “Must be witches about.”

He was standing with am EMT, who actually arrived after the FEMA helicopters  because electronic communications were went down with the electric lines, surveying the damage from  the storm-made promontory at the west side of town.

“Doubt that.  It’s March. Witches usually work their mischief in October. Gale’s folks were counting hatchlings, as I remember. That’d make it Spring.”

“My memory ain’t what it used to be. All I know is, I never had the courage to leave my basement often enough to get to know my neighbors. Can’t give you any names to go with all them bodies.”

“So that medal you got in Oz….”

Lahr pulled a piece of bronze tied to a striped piece of taffeta from under his tee-shirt. “A ribbon and a hunk of metal don’t make a man. Sure am glad Dorothy moved to Ohio. Made it easier to hide the truth. Okay, I do recognize one person they identified as a kid. A Munchkin named Chip.”

The EMT wiped some soot off his face and tried the biker bandana around the lower part of his face. A steady breeze was whipping up mini-swirls through the littered streets. “This place had lots of kids.”

“Only seems so. Most of the little ones is illegal Munchkins. The young families left a long time ago. Silicon Valley. Sun Belt. One guy went to Philadelphia to find work, Chip said. He’d bring doughnuts. We’d play chess. Don’t know who’ll look after me now. Glinda bein’ crushed by the house. I’m all alone.”

“Could be witches about, then,” the EMT said.

When the orange monkey finally found Jesus cringing behind the toilet he yelled, “Woah, man! Where’s my crackers?”

Jesus just shrugged and pointed – grinning mysteriously.

The monkey knew he’d been beaten by the best, and no shame in that, but, still, it irked him that he should so suddenly be deprived of something which he loved so well. He beat his chest angrily and punched his fist through the mirror above the bathroom sink, sending shards of glass flying through the room. Jesus hunched his shoulders and pulled back more snugly beneath the toilet.

The blue and white tiled floor was a mosaic of glittering images. The monkey stared down at a hundred different reflections of his face. No image on the floor was whole, he noticed, and there was a nose here below his feet and an ear over there and, when he waggled his fingers, too many fingers waggled back from all across the floor. He looked darkly over to where Jesus was smiling weakly up at him from behind the toilet. Jesus waggled his fingers at the monkey and smiled.

“Where’s my crackers?”

Jesus shrugged again and said, “In the end, they all come back to the room where the beans are roasted.”

“What?”

“Also, if you would, remember the bat. Not the whiffle-ball bat you used to play with when you were a kid but the large, black, winged creature who danced down the wall juggling those lemons you thought were impossibly round, singing that `Impossible Dream’ song. This bat, you know, he never even had a juggling lesson, didn’t even have hands, but he still got that blonde chick in the skin-tight cat suit to feed him bread and wine after the show.”

“What the hell does that have to do with my crackers?”

“Well – everything,” Jesus said, smiling brightly.