All Stories, General Fiction

The Name of the Game by Frederick K Foote

I fucked up. I did. I admit it. I messed up bad. Some have even accused me of child abuse, and those accusations have come from members of my own family. You might have heard something about this mess already. Now, what I’m asking you to do is set aside whatever you heard and listen to what I have to say. I did mess up, but I wasn’t alone, and if you get the backstory, it might help you understand what went down.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Temporarily Unemployed by Tom Sheehan

Brenda Beal, “Worth a feel,” she’d said a thousand times since Jack had dumped her and two kids, without a car, without a washing machine, without a refrigerator that worked, without all the money from her bank account, owing two months’ rent and the electricity and heating bills including the A/C bill (but he took the A/C because it was new and worked better than he did on his best day): all of this too soon revealed in their marriage. Little Jackie was her reminder of the night in the back seat of Jack’s father’s car, at the lake, under the moon, in a soft breeze the Atlantic sent in over Nahant and Lynn beaches. And Jenny carried the memory of a three-week hiatus after Jackie was born.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Get off My Back, Saugus by Tom Sheehan

Hey, Saugus, get off my back! Get off my back, Saugus. Yes, you who preaches from Appleton’s Pulpit, ranter and raver, extraordinary tongue wielder, who yells in chorus from Stackpole Field when wind brings from banks of the lost pond voices forgotten except by you, a chorus of faces and spirited one shows many times fallow for quick generation of yells.

Take back your yelling, Saugus, and your cries. Get off my back, Saugus! Saugus, get off my back!

You who hastily harangue from the Town Hall floor, a bending of principles and fundamental yields your seeded and spirited politics have given the ages; or your echoes, oh echoes of told timbre and tonic Riverside throws up for grabs the one-day trumpets cut to the quick of small arguments advancing outward, when one falling leaf, nurtured by one, old friend, comes, October’s breath and daring, to my footed path, saying his name to me, her name to me, saying we to me.

Get off my back, Saugus! Saugus, get off my back!

That trail over there, pond-sided, that a boy once knew; new here, that boy, brought to duck and carp and fox, summer’s sweet immersion, winter’s scissored ice, brought to this place out of all places, brought to you, to be layered on, to be imposed, scribed and etched, by what makes you what you are, and that boy, that boy lured here to the burned edge of the pond, which lingers in the mind one second longer than all.

Get off my back, Saugus! Saugus, get off my back!

You do not come at me softly except night-shaded where the wetted, youthful, endless kiss ends sixty years later when her last picture is delivered to New Jersey, to another, an older flaming moth who knows you inside so deeply the ache is read; who knew your waters blessed us, pond, stream, river bend by bridge, marshy pools’ awesome pair wearing summer’s threatening horseshoe crabs down back of Sims’ arms-wide spread of glass, and sticks for miles and miles of reeds promising fire, and antennae-slick worms marsh-dug for a nickel apiece, for Atlantic bait, bye the bye.

Get off my back, Saugus! Saugus, get off my back!

You take me past the good lady of iron who talks from under granite these days of settled touch, who, landing here from Cork’s land and loving this place of yours, stays now forever.

Get off my back, Saugus! Saugus, get off my back.

Today, trekking all the trails on you, I thought of Philadelphia’s Athletics and local Cornet’s old-time catcher, Sam Parker, next-door neighbor, fiendish gardener, tomato and corn supplier for our hungry table, who died on Sir John Harrington’s hopper (1592), the master-piece device, sat there alone for a full day.

Every day you take me back, grasping, clutching, your claws wrenching my soul, letting me know you’re on Pirates’ Hill, Standpipe Hill, Catamount Cove, where Charley’s Pond was, where our river runs dim and crooked to the sea, and on all artifacts of being, illustrious bones, tossing them up, oh one by one, tossing them up.

Ah, Saugus, will you never let go?

Tom Sheehan

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All Stories, General Fiction

Unsanctioned Acts of Compassion by Leila Allison

 Torqwamni County Convalescent Center (“T3C”)

Charleston, WA

Sunday, 26 January 2014, 3:52 AM

Millie was in the breakroom waiting for her shift to begin, when, like a child, Wendy from the graveyard team peeked through the swinging doors. Obviously relieved to find Millie alone, Wendy rushed in; her eyes were wide with worry and woe.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Snow by Wilson Koewing 

They purchased the mountain house in the summer of their 39th years. The husband worked part-time at the brewery in Golden while the wife commuted to Denver to serve as a corporate accountant. A sizable inheritance from the wife’s parents made it unnecessary to work, but neither knew what to do with themselves if they didn’t. They held no artistic ambitions or hobbies they cared to explore. They had no interest in children. Two dogs, one large and one small, ran around the property left to their own devices. There was no cable, so they had a satellite dish installed. When the weather was poor, the television snowed. Animals wandered through the yard. Black bear, elk, mountain goats. Birds flew up from below to reach the house, appearing from under the cliff face that formed their property’s edge. The wife enjoyed witnessing this phenomenon far more than the husband. It had long been rumored gray wolves would be reintroduced in Colorado. Both waited eagerly for that.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Carried by Yash Seyedbagheri

The coffee shop with the sunshine walls closes. The skies are dark with charcoal-colored clouds. Home looms, Nick’s thesis waiting to be formatted with precision. Half inch margins flush with some part of the page or another. Overdue credit card bills demand their due. Graduation looms.

There’s no more time to sit and absorb laughter and dirty jokes. No time to watch undergraduates and senior citizens move with ease and a devil-may-care attitude.

The world awaits.

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All Stories, General Fiction, Short Fiction

The Human Condition by Monika R. Martyn

In life, everyone knows a version of Dave. Dave is the sort of man who is never any good with the ladies. Sure—he can joke with them at arm’s length, the innocuous touch on the shoulder, the forearm. And because a sprig of humor always plays on his lips, he smiles most of the time. He also suffers from a continuous string of good manners and never fails to hold doors open for the ladies, and flatters them on new sweaters and haircuts. Without crossing into hashtag territory, he comforts them when they confide in him.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Empty Histories by Yash Seyedbagheri

At the coffee shop, all the tables are full, both the rectangular tables and the smaller square ones. People fill each side, hunched over computers and stacks of notes. There are boyfriends and girlfriends in turd-colored hoodies and skimpy white tank-tops, parents and children dissecting fractions and Abraham Lincoln, laughter, hugs, shoving, F-bombs deployed with cheer, fusillades of life fired into my ears.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Cohort Retirees by Tom Sheehan

Each Raytheon retiree’s email, each contact with an old co-worker, though distant, departed, an accidental approach, brings me back to places, offices, plant sections and locations, that I left in my past and where I find those that never let go, holding on with clever clutches; some of my favorite people ever climb back into my present circumstance, letting me know they do not let go, not easily, not knowingly, not without a sidewise look I can remember as if it was sent my way yesterday.

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