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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Fly Love by Ateret Haselkorn

Olivia and her boyfriend broke up on a Sunday morning.  It wasn’t a surprise, really.  Olivia had offered her boyfriend an amicable break up twice before by yelling, “Do you just want to split up?” two times.  Although he had asked to stay together then, he had behaved otherwise by disappearing for hours and returning drunk without any explanation.  As a last attempt at repair, Olivia had called his parents for help.  His father had assured her that he would force his “idiot son” to propose if he only could.

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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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