Museum Picture By Jeremiah Minihan

“Completely naked?”

“Don’t worry, my dear, it will be all right.” He cocked his head. “You did promise.”

Mr. Thayer moved to touch Lydia’s shoulder, but she pulled back, wrapping the thick robe tighter. Mr. Thayer – she would never have thought to call him Gregory – stood back from her. Lydia could not interpret his expression. He might have been showing a twist of amusement or contempt around his bearded lips, but mostly she felt that he was studying her as if she were an animal or a specimen. That was what he did, after all, studied and painted.

And she had promised him. She found herself blushing. At the same time, she felt in control, in some way.

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The Night by Desmond Kelly

He doesn’t peer into every corner. He doesn’t need to know. There are shadows on the wall, leaving an indistinct impression. One among many. The walking wounded stare back. Casualties of war. Now, they’re in another place, fighting battles for survival. Their wounds are all too real. There is no front line, or back seat, or room with a view. Come dawn, along with the rats, they all disappear.

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Renfield Awesomenicitizes the Ghost of the TomTom Ghost: A Feeble Fable by Leila Allison

 Prefatory Remarks by Ms. Allison’s Employer 

After almost three years in the making, Leila Allison Studios has informed me that something called Renfield Awesomenicitizes the Ghost of the TomTom Ghost: A Feeble Fable has opened its pitiless eyes and is currently slouching off to anywhere but Bethlehem to get itself born. Although this… whatever it is… exists in print only, Ms. Allison insists on bringing her productions forward as though they were motion pictures, complete with a cast, crew and an expense voucher that I am hesitant to look at. 

According to an urban legend whose popularity exponentially expands with that of the increasing population of congenital idiots, it takes three years for swallowed chewing gum to pass. Ms. Allison feels that the audience should view Renfield Awesomenicitizes the Ghost of the TomTom Ghost: A Feeble Fable with the soul of that urban legend in mind. For reasons unchallenged by critical thinking, Ms. Allison is certain that any audience able to identify with a wad of Juicy Fruit, grimly determined to survive a perilous journey through untold miles of intestines only to wind up someplace a little less than heaven, is probably the sort of audience who will embrace Renfield Awesomenicitizes the Ghost of the TomTom Ghost: A Feeble Fable for whatever the hell it might be. 

Her (here I make like Pilate and wash my hands of the affair) little whatever it might be “stars” four members of the Union of Pen-names, Imaginary Friends and Fictional Characters, to which Writer-Producer-Director Ms. Allison reluctantly belongs. The players include Renfield Stoker-Belle typecast as Renfield Stoker-Belle; a “literary turkey” named Krook briefly essays the role of the TomTom Ghost until he’s suddenly (and inexplicably) replaced by Miss Izzy (Queen of Shoeboxes), who chews the scenery (as well as a bit of Mr. Krook) as the Ghost of the TomTom Ghost. There’s also an old car named Lucille involved. She has no lines but I’m told that she drives the action. Ms. Allison so wanted a celebrity fictional car for the role, but union rules forced her to settle for one of her own construction. My guess is that Titty-Titty Gang Bang and Herpes the Love Bug  were both unavailable. 

Anyway, I figure that I should step in and issue this fair warning:  Something in Leila Allison Studios has opened its pitiless eyes and has slouched off, possibly, in your direction. 

Your Obedient Servant,

Ms. Allison’s Employer 

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To the Brim and Back by Tom Sheehan

The sun fell sideways through windows of his home looking on the river, silence an absolute enemy, his mind suddenly clearer than ever, 79-year old Guillaume Gee Gee Poupon threw down his cane and screamed from the head of the stairs: I’m tired of leaning. I’m tired of being alone. I’m tired of this goddamn house holding me like a briefcase. I’m out of here. He cursed in a deep Acadian voice and the sounds brought a smile on his face. Blood pumped in his chest, being known; cavalier, he thought, Vesuvian, oh that once I had been so young.

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Brought Back By Michael Sherrin

Denise organized the chairs in a circle, each no more than six inches apart. She sorted the donuts on the tray so each had its own space, none touching. The coffee was positioned to allow for steady traffic and conversation.

Denise smiled and watched each person enter the room, grab donuts, gulp coffee, and slid chairs out of position. She stayed silent, reminding herself this was part of the healing process.

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