A Literary Evening by Steve O’Connor

On Friday night, as usual, Mike Duchamps appeared at the back door with a few typed pages rolled up in one hand and a six pack dangling from the other. “I told you I have plenty of beer,” I said.

“Come on, Stan. I never arrive empty-handed,” he shot back, which was true. Mike is a fiction writer from Pawtucketville, which is a section of Lowell named after the Pawtucket Indians, who lived here for millennia and are no more. I live in the Highlands, which is another section of the city, and not a part of Scotland. I’m Mike’s only close friend who reads a lot, and so the only one whose opinion of his craft he values. He’s been reading me his stuff over beers on Friday nights for years. In return, he never comes empty-handed.

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Nor Help For Pain by Leila Allison

Some see the aging face as an ongoing story; others see it as a palimpsest from which the original pretty story has been scraped and is continuously replaced by increasingly derivative tales culled from the same source. Here, I find myself thinking Hamlet compared to Hamlet Versus Predator: To Bleed or Not to Bleed.  Sadly, as you may plainly see, no metaphor holds up after you have looked at it long enough.

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Perroni’s by Adam Kluger

Word of Bisbee’s Dad’s funeral got passed around through friends via emails.

Good ol’ Bisbee.

Stanley Schlumperdink thought to himself of the times that he and the Diabolical Bis would hit on chicks together at Trader Vic’s at The Plaza in High School. Bisbee preferred the Tiki Puka Puka to the Spider Bowls. Either way. The girls back then had candy flavored pussies and a real love of high fashion.

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The Precipitous Writing Career of Evelyn Jones by Bruce Levine

From the first thing of recorded history, that is, the first thing he could remember, Evelyn Jones wanted to be a writer. He didn’t know what he wanted to write and, at not quite two years old, that was to be expected. But he’d seen people writing things. Adults, his older siblings and anyone else that happened to hold a pencil or pen and place it against paper was fascinating. The mere act of passing a writing instrument across paper seemed so extraordinary that he felt he somehow had to try it.

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Our House Has No Windows by Neil James

Our house has no windows. On winter mornings, I leave in downpours and darkness at six, then return in the brooding grey of twilight. Sometimes your car is here and sometimes it’s not. On the evenings when you’re around we eat supper in silence, chewing food without flavour. I’m never hungry any more, either. We scrape more food into the dustbin than either of us eat.  You take to the sofa behind the barrier of your phone, tapping out messages to whoever. I take the armchair and read books I’ve read before.

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The Brush Off by Diane M Dickson

Lydia was late home, she had delayed as long as possible but now it had to be faced. She threw her keys into the old bowl on the hall table and climbed the stairs. Cuthbert had stepped out of the shower moments before.

As she stood in the dark of the landing she watched him stroll from the bathroom, his pale arse glowing in the borrowed light from the bedroom. She found it hard to believe that she used to find that particular part of his anatomy attractive. She had stroked it, patted it and on occasion she had kissed it.

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