Issue #73

Winter 2020

Four Stories

by Christopher Prewitt

About the Face


In a western province, I didn't introduce myself. I let my face do the talking. The way the cowboys and the middle-aged realtors turned from me, it was clear that they could tell I had come from the mountains where for fun people jump off bridges and chase ghosts. At a bus station's urinal, a hand slapped me on the back. "That's some look you got there, bud!" a gruff voice roared. "You ought to see Shelley and make some money."

Night fell as I arrived at Shelley's. I knew it was his residence because there were three decrepit wrestling rings in the side yard. At the behest of the old woman in the wig who answered the door, I climbed in a ring and ran the ropes. Little fires caught in my neck, and my hands went numb. On the canvas there was a tiny bird on a dark stain with its brown heart open. I heard the old woman clap as a stout old man in a hangman's mask approached the ring. He carried a gilded bird cage. "I'm gonna teach you to sing, little chickadee." At last, a chance for a promotion.


Umberto Eco riding alone on a tandem bicycle. No one knows what's become of Baudrillard. People are concerned. Private I's are hired. They get lost in the shadows. An evening reporter approaches a burial site and asks the grieving attendants, "May I film over here for an establishing shot?" In the piece that airs that night, the mourners are crying, and the reporter explains that their tears are for the disappeared Baudrillard (not their late grandfather Willie).

In a dim motel room, the hologram of Baudrillard watching the report leans forward and sighs. Never before has he seen so many empty churches for sale in the faces of despairing subjects.


Classical Education

When I was a little girl, I loved to climb inside a coffin. I felt like a Trojan. Every time a mortician would find me and scold me. "Have respect for the dead!" And I yelled back, "But I'm in love with Helen!"

When I grew up, I took a job in an office that made me wear heels, that made me become an animal. Everyone had to become an animal for a team building exercise. So I was a flamingo who stood on one leg and stared out the fifth floor conference room window.

The hills of Virginia were gray. Helen was behind me now. I knew what was required to get back home and dreaded it.


Call for Submission

———— is now open for submission.

Send us your best public restroom faucet handles with sharp yellow growths. Make us wrestle with a 13th-Century monk who reveals a shaved body under his wool robe, who suddenly resembles a skewered animal when his mouth fills with light. We especially encourage people who have cried in front of elephants at the zoo to open their doors to old women with black eyes who want to talk about Jesus. We cannot offer payment at this time. We are volunteer militant p*lice and we will decide who is innocent. Contributors will receive the Robespierre Medal of Forsaken Time. Our guest judge Caligula will select one author to wrap him and his sister Julia in red and pink cellophane. Each entry requires one author likeness to be kept on file for all of time. Note: if you published with us last year, please get back in the swamp.


House of the Holy

The stores are full of madness the afternoon of Valentine's Day, but in walks Virgil and Dante. Virgil chews the nails on his left hand. Dante lifts his hands and his eyes follow a father and son—the son begging his father to let him buy a toy while the father appears manic and desperate while carrying a dozen roses. "O my master, though I may be full of fear, with your instruction I shall not dread etc. etc." Dante mocks the author of pagan epics and eclogues so beautiful and full of wisdom, even god wouldn't condemn him to hell immediately.

Somehow the great pagan poet has lost his way. It happened forever ago. Beatrice is waiting.

"Maybe we should get a map," Dante says. "I'm going to get a map."

Virgil appears to be working out something in a mumble, a pointer finger calculating in front of him.

Cards are going quickly. Men are taking them without even looking inside.

Meanwhile on Lesbos, Sappho rubs her feet together as a lover strokes her dark hair.

Author Bio

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Christopher Prewitt is the author of Paradise Hammer (SurVision Books), winner of the 2018 James Tate Poetry Prize. His writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Tweet correspondence welcome: @poetcprewitt. His story "Three Sponge Baths" appeared in Issue 44 of The Cafe Irreal and Four Stories appeared in Issue 68.