Saturday, February 23, 2013

good game

by roger "pegleg" wilson

illustrations by roy dismas and danny delacroix

i was doing what i do best.

sitting on a barstool, looking down into a drink.

i was the only person in the bar, besides the bartender.

then another guy came in.

he looked familiar.

not familiar like i actually knew him from somewhere, but familiar like he looked like some actor.

he sat down at the end of the bar, four or five stools down from me.

he ordered a drink.

we just sat there.

there was a jukebox, but neither of us played it.

finally he looked at me.

"hey," he said.

"what?" i answered.

"can i ask you a question?"


"do you play chess?"

"a little bit."

"want a game?"

i looked around. "you got a board with you?"

"no, we can play up in my room. i got a room just around the corner."

i hesitated.

"it's almost closing time here anyway," he said.

he had a point. he didn't look crazy, or violent, or like a fag. maybe he would offer me a drink.

"sure, why not?"

we finished our drinks and went outside.

he lived around the corner in an sro hotel. i'd been in it before. a dump, but not a total dump.

we went inside. there was a front desk, but there was nobody behind it.

we took the stairs to his room on the second floor.

"i'd offer you a drink, but i don't have anything." that took care of that.

he got the board out. the room had one little table, and a ratty wicker chair. he sat on the bed and i sat in the chair with the table between us.

i was white. i played the ruy lopez, the only thing i know, the only thing i know by name, really.

he beat me very easily.

he didn't seem too happy about it. "man, that wasn't very good."

"let's play another."

this time he was white. he totally crushed me. i felt embarrassed , even though i didn't really give a shit.

"man, you suck. you can't play at all."

"sorry. you didn't ask me if i was bobby fischer, just if i wanted to play."

"i know, i know. i'm sorry, that was rude. i'm just disappointed, that's all." he pushed the table aside and stood up. "i thought you might give me a game."

he went over to the window and looked out . "i thought you might give me a good game."

there didn't seem to be anything more to say. we had already established that he wasn't going to give me a drink.

it didn't look like he was going to offer me anything else, a cigarette maybe, or some dope, or to watch the little old tv with a rabbit ear antenna.

i got up and left. he didn't say anything more and neither did i.

i started down the stairs. i could hear a dog start to bark.

when i got to the bottom of the stairs, there was the dog. some kind of nasty little bulldog thing - i'm not really up on dogs. and really barking now.

i tried to go past it and it bit me on the leg - hard. really clamped down.

"sarah! bad girl! bad girl!" i heard an old lady yelling at the dog.

i got sick from it. it wasn't rabies, but some other shit. i was in the hospital for months.

i almost died.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

the end

by willa mae urchin

illustrations by eddie el greco

after a while, joanie's feet started to hurt.

the sky was just starting to get light.

she kept walking a little longer before stopping and looking back.

she was safe.

nobody was coming after her. she could feel it.

there was no one left to come after her.

it was just starting to sink in, everything that had happened.

she wondered if anyone would ever believe what had happened back in the old house.

and before that, in the all night diner by the side of the road.

but she was alive. only she had survived, only she had gotten through the whole crazy night.

but she was not surprised. she always knew she was different.

things that happened to other people didn't happen to her.

she looked around. she was walking beside some kind of field - a corn field? joanie was a city girl, she didn't know about stuff like that.

she could just make out a building beyond the field. a barn maybe? there was no light on in it.

she started walking again.

no, things that happened to other people didn't happen to her - like dying, or getting her arms and legs cut off, or getting old, or getting wrinkles on her face or on her ass.

as she walked along, she started thinking.

now that she had her little scare, she would start getting serious about stuff.

she would meet some nice guy - a guy like herself, who was different, who wouldn't get old or ugly.

he would be rich. and good looking. and young, of course, because he would never get old. and sweet and gentle. but tough as nails if he had to be. he wouldn't take any shit from anybody - except her, he would be her faithful slave.

they would laugh together about it, about how faithful a slave he was.

they would have a big house - lots of big houses, all over the world. if some shit like a nuclear war or global warming came along, they would just move to another house in one of their private planes or rocket ships.

kids? nah. lots of servants though. and lots of stuff to eat and drink and smoke.

she wouldn't get fat. not that he would care - he would still be her little faithful one, even if she weighed a hundred and fifty or three hundred pounds.

the sun was really starting to come up now.

but there were still no cars on the road.

there had to be a gas station or a diner or one of those souvenir stores up ahead somewhere.

they would have a phone and she would call cleo collect to come and get her.

cleo would snivel about it but joanie would make it up to her.

it was all good.

there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

her feet still hurt a little, but so what?

it was going to be a beautiful day.

Monday, February 18, 2013


by fred flynn

illustrated by danny delacoix

frank had no friends and had not had a job for a while, but he still got a lot of junk mail.

he always slept late after staying up all night doing nothing. the mail had usually been delivered by the time he got up. he picked it up at the front desk on his way out to get his cup of coffee and doughnut.

eddie was at the front desk. "lots of mail, today, frankie boy. you're a real popular guy." eddie usually greeted frank with these words or some variation on them.

frank took the six envelopes - no catalogues - over to the couch furthest from the television and the front window and looked them over. this was part of his usual routine.

five of the envelopes looked familiar - magazines he did not want and charities he would not give a dime to even if he could afford it - and he ripped them in half and put them in the waste basket beside the potted plant.

he opened the sixth envelope with a practiced hand. it contained a card with spaces to be filled in, a return envelope - not postage paid - and a single sheet of paper.

"dear mister james," he read,

permit me to introduce myself. my name for your human purposes is 531-7435, which i have chosen for its euphony and easy memorability. i am an officer in the imperial fortesian navy. in a few weeks the forces of the fortesian empire will land on your planet and restore order there. i am not sure that "restore" is the correct term. but let that pass.

a number of events and promotions have been scheduled to humor the population and facilitate a smooth transition to the new order. among them is a lottery, and the purpose of this letter is to invite you to participate. every one of the seven billion plus human inhabitants of the planet will be invited to submit an entry - one entry only . there is an entry fee of one dollar. payment must be in cash. no cheques or money orders. simply fill out and sign the enclosed card and return it in the enclosed envelope with your dollar.

the winning ticket is scheduled to be drawn sixteen days after our first landing. there will be one winner only. and the prize is -


complete freedom for the lucky winner, for a period of one year.

the winner will be allowed to go anywhere and do anything physically possible. all the other creatures on the planet will be subject to the winners wishes and whims, and the full power of the empire will be available to enforce the winners inclinations.

the physical resources of the planet will also be completely at the winners disposal.

i hope this message is sufficiently clear in its intent. i apologize if it is not.


on behalf of the emperor of fortesia,

531-7435, commander rfn

frank looked at the return envelope. it was addressed to "rfn" at a post office box in san rafael. it stated " will not be delivered without correct postage". bummer. he could ask eddie for a stamp - pay him if he had to - but then eddie would ask him why he wanted one, and he didn't want to get into it.

he would have to go to the post office. but maybe it was just as well. then he could mail it right there at the post office and it would save a little time and be a little more secure. and there would be a pen at the post office to fill the card out with.

he put the card, the letter and the return envelope back in the larger envelope and put the larger envelope in the pocket of his shirt. then he got up and went outside.

the sun was shining on o'farrell street. it was a nice day, around sixty-eight degrees. frank decided to go to the doughnut shop first, on his way to the post office.

he was in a good mood, and it got even better when he got his caffeine and sugar fix in the doughnut shop on jones street.

he sat at the counter in front of the window and wondered what he would do with the total freedom he was confident of winning. total freedom! he could taste it already.

suddenly a slightly dark thought crossed his brain.

it was total freedom "for one year".

when the year was up, what happened then?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


by c pomfret moon

illustrations by penmarq studios

as he lay dying in the street, wilmot thought of all the embarrassing and humiliating moments in his life.

he went through them in his mind with surprising speed.

really, he mused, there had not been so many as all that.

it had not really been so bad, after all.

and who besides himself would remember any of them?

most of the people who witnessed them or heard of them were probably dead, as he would be shortly.

he heard the ambulance arrive.

he closed his eyes.

at that moment, no more than two miles away, at the hail fellows club, marsden was enjoying his cigar and talking of old times with murchison.

"do you remember wilmot? for some reason i thought of him this morning, just as i was putting a sausage in my mouth."

"wilmot? oh yes, that fellow!"

"do you remember the time at the cup dinner - must have been around 89 -" marsden began to sputter and giggle - "with the bus boy ? -"

there was no need to finish the story.

they both began to roar with laughter.

jones came over and joined them.

Monday, February 11, 2013

six poems

by "anonyme"

illustrations by penmarq studios


monkey with a banana
squirrel with a banana
banana with a banana
dear, is that the telephone?


strawberries in the garden
strawberries with cream
strawberries hiding in the raspberries
all a beautiful dream


joey, a person of limited means
picked out a can of lima beans
from the provisions in the general store
but could afford not one thing more

when he presented it to the clerk
the clerk said, you're a piece of work
joey felt a sense of shame
and was glad the clerk knew not his name


blue gardenias
blue rain
blue twilight
blue and downhearted

blue yonder
blue ocean
little boy blue
am i blue?


one sees them in the streets, suddenly, faces from the past, and yet with ravaged visages and stricken with shame for their reduced circumstances when they spot you, and one begins to raise ones walking stick in greeting and as quickly drops it, letting them pass by.

years later, one suddenly remembers these fleeting encounters and as quickly forgets them.


old number nine came down the track
throwing sparks from front to back
bob the bum with his can of beans
stayed discreetly behind the scenes

as his nose began to run
bob observed the setting sun
in all its splendid majesty
and flicked an ant from off his knee

Sunday, February 10, 2013

a drunkard

by jean-claude etranger

illustrated by roy dismas

jacques, a drunkard with just enough of an income to support his indolent life, was in the habit - and he was very much a creature of habit - of rising and taking to the street on the way to his cafe in the early morning - earlier than most honest and hard working folk.

one foggy morning he noticed an unfamiliar female form coming toward him. his first impression was that it was a child, but as it came closer he saw that it was a small woman, dressed neither in rags nor in the latest fashion, and no longer young - perhaps almost as old as himself.

though he had no reason to do so, jacques considered himself a bit of a rogue. he tipped his hat to the woman, and enquired with the trace of a leer, "on your way to mass, madam?'

without slowing or hastening her stride, but looking him full in the face, the woman replied from under her large hat, "why yes i am, sir, thank you for asking," and went on her way.

the next morning at approximately the same time jacques encountered the woman again. this time he tipped his hat and complimented her on her attire. she thanked him politely without pausing, and left him behind.

the next morning after that he saw her again, made the observation that her dress looked of fine quality and enquired if he might verify its excellence by touching it.

"no thank you, sir, " she replied with the barest trace of a polite smile, "i am afraid i do not have time for that."

on most - though not all - mornings after that jacques met the little woman and offered a different greeting or observation to her - each one more inane than the one before - but without succeeding in engaging her interest or slowing her progress.

then after a time - weeks? months? - jacques was a poor judge of time - she no longer appeared. otherwise his routine went on unchanged and he continued in his two occupations of drinking schnapps and drinking absinthe.

late afternoons always found him with his face on "his" table at his cafe.

the cafe paid its staff poorly, and the proprietress, madame geraldine, was a bit of a bully, so that there was a constant turnover of waiters. most of them roused our friend roughly from his inebriation, especially if he were snoring.

others were more gentle with him.

Friday, February 8, 2013

tomorrow is always midnight

by horace p sternwall

illustrated by konrad kraus

webs of passion
never go out of fashion

webs of betrayal
never grow stale

webs of fear
will always be here

and a web of suspense
never relents

a deadly dame
always wins the game

and a chump who is spurned
never learns

a guy named bob
has to take on one last job

as a boss named mister cass
pours some whiskey in his glass

and his flunky, albany red
laughs at whatever he said

bob is in for it now
he had no chance anyhow

his dreams of being a regular guy
are headed for the sweet bye and bye

he heads back to his lonely room
under a cloud of doom

hardly knowing what to think
he stops in for a drink

he knows it's getting late
he better keep his head on straight

he will have just one
and when it is done

why not two?
what's a guy supposed to do

when it's too late
and he's being swallowed by fate

he is down to his last dime
and it's closing time

just as well
because he has to answer the bell

tomorrow morning at nine
rise and shine

meet two guys named slim and pete
down on desolation street

they have what he will need
to do the deed

suddenly everything's a blur
and he thinks - of her

the cause of all his woe and pain
will he ever see her again?

just make it out the door
don't think about her any more

too bad, bob, too bad
the only chance you ever had

go home and get some sleep
you are in too deep

nothing left but to take a stand
and play the hand