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Issue number one




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Hotel by Matt Leibel

Margarite checks in, hands her black eelskin case to the bellhop, grabs his arm, and yanks him into the glass elevator. The glass is clear, tinted aqua. She presses the top floor button and presses herself against the bellhop and presses him against the glass wall. She undoes the bellhop's tie and runs her tongue along its length. He drops the case. The elevator starts to move. She unbuttons and unzips the bellhop and the bellhop says god yes and pornographic images assault the bellhop with the cataclysmic force of a linebacker's crushing hit. She abandons herself to him, blithely, beautifully squashed against the side panel of the elevator, elderly couples watching with big stunned eyes from marble benches flanking the fountain down in the lobby, and she can see their transfixed faces and the pennies gleaming, coppery, on the translucent floor of the fountain. The bellhop, riding her, excited, nervous, the thrill at this point both from Margarite's comely body compressed against him and from the risk of impending job termination, groans, and suddenly Margarite chants a feral yes and bashes a hole in the glass with her ecstatically clenched fists, shooting sharp shards at the horrified lobby-dwellers down below, and leaps, face first, through the glass and out of the elevator. The bellhop says oh god, imagines the moment of his now inevitable firing, and the unpleasant but somehow hot crash of Margarite's bare body into the fountain, splatting into all the pennies, and stares shocked, but before she hits the floor she unfurls white wings like a gargantuan eagle, and she swoops up gracefully through the lobby, circling the crystal chandelier and gliding out the front door. The naked bellhop frantically presses the L button and descends, pulls up his pants, reaches the ground, staggers out of the elevator, zips up the pants, and joins the mob of patrons who run outside to see Margarite flying circles around the hotel, breathing fire. Still shirtless, he sprints away from the hotel, chased by the irate manager, followed closely by the panicked mob, as Margarite, swimming through the air like a mermaid of the sky, torches the hotel, yawns, rubs the bellhop's thin tie up and down the length of her body and falls asleep on a pillow of burning clouds.

Matt Leibel is a graduate of the M.F.A. fiction program at Washington University in St. Louis and works as a copywriter for a major toy company. His stories have appeared in, or been accepted by, magazines such as Parting Gifts, Shockbox, San Francisco Bay Guardian and Pacific Review.

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