Skip to content

Category Archives: Uncategorized


The Albanians are out on their stoop again. Franklin was wary of them at first; they looked harsh, rawboned, frighteningly Eastern European. They did not look friendly.

They still don’t, not exactly, but they seem to have accepted him. During some brownouts, without air conditioning, they’ve invited him across the street. They sat and drank sweaty beers together.

They’ve already started that, tonight–one of them is singing. Franklin doesn’t want to laugh, but the song is just absurd enough to revive his heavy steps.

“YOOON GIRL!” yodels Petrit, strangled, tragic. The others nod, genuinely sad. “GET OUT OF MY MIIINE!”


She loves her name. Most people don’t pronounce it right at first, but she enjoys correcting them, so that works out well. She loves the way her boyfriends say it; she can’t help but laugh when her mother yells it in anger.

She has a particular memory of a vacation, when she was young, and standing out on a dock somewhere in Florida. They were setting off fireworks across the river; some of them hurt her ears, but she really liked the ones that trailed noise on the way up. She thought they were talking to her. Boom, pop, crackle, Xiao!


They decided eventually that doggy style was the best way to drive the war machines, and that’s how Erin is driving now, strapped belly-down to the underside of her titanium beast. Guns blaze; jets thunder.

She licks sweat from her lip. Her DC-94A has no tongue (but if it did!) and so can’t mimic that, but it reacts just fine when she stretches her legs to catch their landing shock.

Machines go green and red in her vision. She tracks polygons and squeezes her hands: jets blaze, guns thunder, and Erin grins. Really, honestly, what girl doesn’t love blowing shit up?


Petros doesn’t smoke or drink. He avoids caffeine and excessive sugar, and the only herbs he consumes are from his kitchen window garden. He doesn’t drop, roll, shoot, buzz, pop or snort. He doesn’t take aspirin.

Yet Petros is an addict. He’s addicted to catfish: fat, ugly Tennessee catfish, served on wax paper in an enormous basket; catfish with all the trimmings: corn pone hush puppies, sweet pickle tartar sauce, fries cut so thick they’re still cold in the middle and cole slaw so deep in diesel mayonnaise it’d make the devil sweat.

Someday, catfish will kill him. Petros won’t mind.


She’s heard dolphins make new skin constantly, that this is why they move so fast: Esperanza is sure Allison must work the same way. It’s the only way she can possibly look so fresh, the only way her skin can be so endlessly new. Even her smile lines are bright, youthful. Even her stretch marks.

She could watch Allison forever, lying there, making new skin every second. She’d make the sun stop, or the earth stop, whichever it takes to make sure the angle of this light on her thigh never changes.

But. Esperanza sighs. She’ll have to be untied eventually.


Lee shuts up when he’s angry and this time he’s been breathing through his nose so long that when he starts to open his mouth again, a puff of steam clouds his glasses. (It’s not very cold out, but it’s cold enough.)

It would be terribly easy, and blameless, and he can’t do it. It is morally right but it’s logically invalid. So he won’t let go.

Lee’s fists are soft and hot inside, wrinkled like a baby’s. His eyes are red-rimmed. It takes a long time, this slow scared reopening, the strained release of all his body’s wish to hurt.


She used to have dreams about the park. It was a small green perfect square, and she’d only have once chance each day to see it: between cars and the pillars of a fading hotel, out the window on her bus ride. One splash of ripe grass and then it’d be gone.

Aisha promised herself the day Jordan left she’d make her way there. She’d sit with her book on a bench, touch the grass with bare feet, make it her refuge.

Now, today, she’s there. And it turns out to be a fancy driveway for the office park next door.


Tonight they’ll sing the Cantiphoebo, and throw dried leaves on the electric fire, and breathe deeply of the smoke; they’ll crack jars and smear their faces with the sour stickiness, and their voices will rise:

Phoebo, whose arms could touch all moons!

Phoebo, who taught us of viscous styling products!

Phoebo, who always received the finest jars of jam!

And deserved them!

At least Phoebo said so!

Phoebo, with feet like horn and hands like gophers!

Phoebo, who fuck fucking smoke hold on. Whoo. Okay, let’s go back

Phoebo, who glowed unmatched with the light of his shellackéd hair!




“There’s an art to not getting caught staring.” It’s Link’s voice, a memory, two years ago. “You have to learn to anticipate when she’s going to feel it.”

“And then just look innocent?”

“That’s the trick. You have to look bored, not innocent. You have to already be moving your eyes when she notices, and you have to keep them moving, like you’re just sweeping the area. And never jerk your head.”

She’s going to turn. The outline of her flank is vivid in his mind. Link would be proud: when she finds him, he’s already gone, gaze sliding impassively away.


He’s not staring, not exactly, just watching. Sala’s rolling and he looks like money, so she pulls a girlfriend over and they get all hot up against the wall. She locks eyes with him just once, for one long second.

Later he’s gone, but she follows the music down to the next frat. He’s there. This time she leaves, and he finds her arched between oblivious boys. The bass blurs everything in 4/4 time.

They slip between houses in turns, dancing with everyone, dancing only with each other. It’s an old, old game: She likes to move. He likes to watch.

Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
This work is licensed under a Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.