Issue #83

Summer Issue | August 2022

In this Issue:

the encyclopedic flaying game by lance olsen


Listen: nobody is born It. Within minutes that changes. There is no way around this fact. The players are sometimes referred to as The Hiders-and-Seekers. The players are sometimes referred to as The It-Looks-Like-Wars or The Belief-Skinned-Beasts. The goal of this game is to run for your life. Learn to sprint. Learn to dodge and roll. Duck. Jump. Pretend to be a stone. A bright orange poppy on the side of the highway. Become the rabbit hound. The knife. Become the first-aid kit or the parachute. Read more...

Shadow Alignment and Balancing by Gabriel Martinez Bucio


Last week, walking down Avenida de los Insurgentes, between a dusty vinyl store and a small ice cream parlor, I saw a sign that read "Shadow Alignment and Balancing." I immediately thought it was a joke, that it was due to an orthographic error like those that abound on the façades of the businesses of Mexico City. Besides, I was unaware that shadows could be repaired. I believed that, once broken, they were given away or discarded (in the organic or inorganic bin?) but I never imagined that there were honorable people dedicated to such a noble undertaking. I was wrong, dear reader. Read more...

The Innovators by Matthew F. Amati


They made a bicycle out of crocodiles. This had not been done before. The resulting bicycle had deficiencies from a bicycling point of view (limbless riders would not ride anything ever again), but how it shook our assumptions!

The innovators went further. They made an umbrella out of the ironic point of view in the works of Tolstoy. It was such a striking way to rethink the umbrella that everyone had to have it. Early adopters came out wetter than they otherwise might have, but the critics raved so fervently about the Tolstoian brio with which their hats were ruined that the anemic sales were really beside the point. Read more...

Tableau Vivant, The Arrival, and Lisbon by Tom Whalen


Tableau Vivant

Understandably, I feared meeting the renown collector Jindrich Styrsky in his hometown of Zurich, if only because of the green dog with five paws he was rumored to drag behind him wherever he went.

How had he known I was a collector as well? I had tried to keep my night activities as secret as possible, but still his letter found me at my favorite kiosk one morning when, in the guise of a banker, I purchased the NZZ and found tucked into its pages his letter written in a series of coded postulates, which I quickly decoded. Read more...

Scrap of Truth by Mary Rodriguez


At breakfast Scrap suggests we go to my brother's office to search for clues.

"Mom? Scrap and I are going out," I say, handing her my empty plate.

"You and that mutt . . ."

I'm back to listening to Scrap. The two of us communicate through thought trains. I have the decency to tune him in only when we're having a conversation. I understand dogs need their privacy. I'd like a little privacy myself but I live with my mother. Read more...

Collected Stories and The Most Beautiful Beach in Brazil by Peter Cherches


Collected Stories

The thud woke me. Something must have fallen to the floor from above was my first thought. What time is it? 4:35. I got out of bed and turned on the light. It was right there on the kilim I bought in Istanbul nine years ago, a book, a book I hadn't yet read, from the top of a precarious pile atop the bookcase. I found the book on the stoop of one of the brownstones in my neighborhood. One always finds interesting books left in front of buildings in this part of Brooklyn. This was a book of short stories. I remembered that I'd been intrigued by the description on the back. The writer was unknown to me, an unknown quantity. I took it on faith. That's easy with free books. Read more...

The Commandments by Paul Blaney


Somehow or other they all got lost—it makes you wonder what'll be next! No one seemed to have a copy or to recall any of the phrasing, or even how many of them there were exactly. Well, minus the 'bedrock of Judeo-Christian morality,' a sizeable chunk of the world went off the rails. And so, of course, they turned to yours truly.

I was given a week and a superior suite at a Ramada Inn. There, for six days, I farted around, napping and watching trash TV, hoping that, if I tried not to think, those pesky Commandments would pop back into mind. No dice! 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.