Issue #80

Fall Issue | November 2021

In this Issue:

Exam Questions for the Story That Killed Its Readers by Matthew F. Amati


  1. Pick the word that best describes the tone of the story:
    1. hainted
    2. cantilevered
    3. tricksy
    4. you have no memory of the story, but the scent of petroleum lingers in your nostrils
  2. Why did the milkman’s father follow the fata morgana across the border into Zanzibar? Would you have followed? Would you have brought your nephew? Your sister's nephew?

A Borges Dream by Marcelo Medone


Borges crosses San Martín Square, in the heart of Buenos Aires, walking slowly, helped by his cane. He's been blind for a long time, but he knows his route by heart. He comes to the door of his building on Maipú Street and the janitor shows him in.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Jorge Luis."

"Good afternoon, friend," replies the writer and heads for the elevator.

"I'll help you, don."

"No, thanks. Let me handle myself."

When he reaches the ninth floor, Borges takes a few steps and reaches his apartment. Read more...

Accessory by Ken Poyner


I hire a boy to help with the large shadows. He works cheap, and I dare not ask my accountant how we escape minimum wage laws. It is good training for him, practically a Victorian style apprenticeship. I start him out with jobs he can never accomplish. He must learn failure, the feeling of being saddled with four left feet, or trapped by giants. Only then can he appreciate the mundane right-sizing of success. Read more...

Sibling Rivalry by Tim Goldstone


In the shed we found a musty unopened cardboard box of grass seed that we sprinkled over our parched brown garden and within minutes it had grown a lawn that was green washed out nearly to yellow with an early 1950s father with veins he always said he got from the war wrapped around his forearms pushing a manual lawnmower in straight lines up and down wearing baggy brown high-waisted corduroy trousers with turn-ups and braces over a billowing loose-fitting white shirt tucked in with sleeves rolled up as far as modest biceps Read more...

All the Women in My Family Were Mad by Deborah Happ


I spend my days dodging beggars downtown. Can you spare a coin, miss? Please, miss! On the worse days they pull me by my clothes, grab my arms. I don't, sir, sorry, I don't have anything. Mad, all of them. Poor things, they're all mad.

My grandmother was mad, I heard. She would take off her clothes in the middle of the street, I heard. She saw things, I heard, she was always on edge. You're just like your grandmother, I hear all the time. The same hands, the same nose, the same personality. If she lived in more liberal times, she would be just like you, I hear all the time.

How long will it take for me to go mad? Read more...

Entropy Bandits by Bradford Gyori


Entropy bandits snuck in and stole all my decay. Tried brushing my teeth, but the paste became a rocketship that shot through the top of my head. No worries. In seconds, my head stitched itself back together and I was good to go.

Tried walking down the stairs, but they were evolving too. The first became an icy cliff. The second, a castle with spikey turrets that hurt my feet. The third, a water slide that sent me splashing into the living room. Read more...

About Our Coffee and Other Fare

Please Note: All of the coffee served at The Irreal Cafe is fair trade, organic, shade-grown and not real. All of the food served at The Irreal Cafe is organic, vegan, locally sourced and not real. See "At Our Cafe" for more about what we would serve at The Irreal Cafe and how we would serve it if there were an Irreal Cafe.