The Tale of Thomas O’Clery by Jessica Powers

There is no such thing as mundane disbelief on the wretched, glittering streets of New Orleans. No doubt lives among the connoisseurs of gin and light. No hesitation hides behind distorted Mardi Gras masks, only creatures moving lithely through the crowd of wayward travelers. The city breathes in a cacophony of sound. Even the steel factory rattles distantly, like a drum beat. Yet, as Thomas O’Clery stood in the braking trolley car, inhaling the piss and bourbon stench of the city, he felt only a cold numbness. Neither the driverless carriages, or the preternatural weight of hot summer jazz, like a voodoo queen’s curse, could frighten or arouse him. Not anymore.

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The Drinking Hour by John Conaway

Beachum stops at the Bi Lo to get his latest prescription filled. While he’s waiting he looks for something to kill the cat, some kind of poison. He looks up and down the aisles. It appears that grocery stores do not carry poison anymore.
“Where would I find the poison?” he asks the pharmacist
“What kind of poison are you looking for?” asks the pharmacist. He acts as if the mere contemplation of such a question has given him indigestion.
“Something that will kill a cat.”
The pharmacist sighs. “There are many things that will kill a cat,” he says stapling a sheaf of instructions and disclaimers six inches thick to the bag containing Beachum’s prescription that no one, least of all old Beachum, will ever read.
“Can you recommend something?”
The pharmacist shakes his head sadly. “No,” he says.

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Progeny by Dima Alzayat

Nineteen is the number of times I stabbed my father. One in each forearm, shoulder, thigh, calves. Neck back stomach balls. Between two ribs the knife plunged and pierced one lung, two, and caught on a shard of bone, a tendon shred. Wrench tug free. I’d pictured each puncture in detail one by one. Not over and over on loop like some freak but while waiting for the bus or falling asleep I thought about the order of it, in and out and back in, the quiet shrill of it. Muscle rip against blade, bone scrape against metal.

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Acton by Christopher A. Dale

Acton had never spent much time contemplating writer’s block. This had everything to do with the fact that he had never previously found himself its victim. Perhaps everything is too strong a word. Acton had no trouble considering the ins and outs of things and events he had no personal experience with—although these things and events necessarily carried with them some intellectual element that sparked his curiosity in the first place. Writer’s block, as an idea, had never presented such an element to command his attention, and on top of that, it seemed too cliché a notion to even deserve it. Nevertheless, the prejudice of abstraction doesn’t always hold up under the weight of actual experience, and he now found writer’s block to be a fascinating object of examination.

Acton was at his desk, unable to write.

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Marlene Dietrich by Riham Adly

My promotional Facebook ad campaign is far from ready. An upside down, high resolution, Marlene Dietrich holding my self-published book awaits my intervention.  I hesitate before choosing the rotate option or is it the flip? Marlene looks regal, confident in her fur coat. What would Marlene think of a book starting with:

 She loved lemons and would squirt them on everything, their yellow rind reminding him of her sunshine. Lemons never tasted sweeter. Without her, his heart wouldn’t beat right.

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