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Issue number twelve




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Short Shorts

Paranoia by Evelio Rosero Diago

Once a man called his house on the telephone and it was he himself who answered. Unable to believe what had just happened, he quickly hung up. He tried calling back and again heard his own voice answer at the opposite end. After a while he mustered up the courage to ask for himself, but his own voice told him to quit calling because he was never coming back. "Who am I speaking with?" he asked, finally, and was flabbergasted to hear something he should have never heard. What did he hear? No one can be sure, but it must have been something terrible because he could not control the bursts of laughter that welled inside him, choking him. The next day the newspapers didn't report this event, which is unfortunate if one considers that all good journalism should look beyond the obvious toward the larger truth, especially if the truth may point to a complication of metaphysical proportions within the telephone company. You yourself could investigate further the details of this occurrence, considering--that is, if you're willing to risk it--the possibility that one afternoon every telephone could conspire against you and silence you, for good.

(translated by José Chaves)

* * * * *

Evelio Rosero Diago was born in Bogota, Columbia, in 1958. A writer and journalist, he is widely published in Columbia and the winner of several literary awards. A translation of his short story, "Brides by Night," appeared in the Spring 1999 issue of Michigan Quarterly Review.

José Chaves was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship for 2000-2001, during which time he compiled, translated, and published the anthology of the Latin American "mini-cuento" in which this translation first appeared (El libro de la brevedad/The Book of Brevity, Trilce Editores, Bogota, 2000). His own stories and poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review, Rattle, and Exquisite Corpse. Two of his short shorts, “Lobster hat,” and “All I misunderstood as a man makes complete sense as a parrot,” appeared in Issue #5 of The Cafe Irreal and his translation of Marco Denevi's "Lord of the Flies" appeared in Issue #9.

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How to Make Something Out of Nothing by John Shea

Imagine a blank page or a blank computer screen. Ponder its blankness for several minutes, keeping your mind clear, until you glimpse the edge of nullity. Allow the nullity to take shape, to articulate itself as the word nothing. Once nothing has crystallized, you must act swiftly, lest the essential nothingness spill off the page or screen and proceed to swallow all--all that is not nothing, that is--in its path. Boldly wield your pen or cursor and lop the dangerous no from its suffixish tail. Thing will stay where it is, headless, rendered insensible, without motive or direction. You can leave it aside for a few moments while you deal with no. Amazing how two simple letters can carry so much weight! Pry the two letters apart and dispose of the n safely. If you have a pen, strike through the n several times, up and down, down and up, upper left to lower right, lower left to upper right, even free-form, if you like, just so the damn thing is obscured. If you are using your computer, highlight the n (giving it one last moment to bask in the attention), then press delete. Unless the powers of negativity have surreptitiously seized control of the universe, the n will disappear forever. Then, while stuporous thing waits passively on the page, invest some of yourself--i.e., the me of you--in the creative process and add the letters to the leftover o. Next, before they have any opportunity to resist, add the new combination to thing. Omething. So far, so good. Do not be distracted by possible echoes of omelettes, their rich scents filling your nostrils, a blend of egg, mushroom, onion, sharp cheese . . . no, there is business to attend to. Imagine plenitude on your page or screen. Imagine twice as much plenitude as before, three times as much, many plurals of plenitude, plentitudes of plenitudes. In our common language, as it turns out, there are very few plurals without s. In the midst of all these plenitudes, no one will miss a single s out of so many. Fix your mind on that s, perhaps the one at the end of one of those horns of plenty laden with dozens of kinds of fruits and nuts, overspilling with peaches, grapes, walnuts, cashews, apples, oranges. No one will notice that an s has gone. Pluck it. Transport it. Lower it into place. Quickly, now, for we have dawdled much too long, add the s to the omething. You will not have to do anything more, because they will know each other, they will sense instinctively that they were meant to be together. They will revel in their unity. After all, now they are--now it is--something in the world.

* * * * *

Since 1985, John Shea has been an editor and writer at the University of Pennsylvania. His stories have appeared in Partisan Review, The Twilight Zone Magazine (including "Epiphany," which received an Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction 1987"), Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and Columbia, the magazine of Columbia University. He is a Frequent Contributor of short pieces to The Drexel Online Journal.

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Openings and (Complete) Shorter Stories by Richard Kostelanetz


Around his fortieth birthday, when he realized a full biography would be written about him, he began to preserve certain documents, while destroying many others, preferring that such a book be more innocent than interesting.

He wouldn't let you into her house unless he thought you'd accept his claim that the large bottles of water in his living room came, as he said, from a fountain of youth.

In his father's home movies he saw a person he could not connect to himself -- a young man who was normal in all visible respects.

He had more successes than anyone else he knew and more failures as well and so wondered whether the gnawing dialectic would ever be resolved.

What he saw on the television screen, talking back to him in live time, was his own face ten years later.

* * * * *

Her psychiatrist told her that she could best sustain her marriage by making herself permanently unavailable to her husband.

Though her diet required that she abstain from the evening meal, tonight she made an exception that was noticed by one and all.

As the country's most famous artist entered the Queen's chamber, all eyes turned to her bare feet.

She'd not only bought the Brooklyn Bridge; she had visionary plans for developing the surrounding real estate.

* * * * *

I thought she was calling her dog, but out of the forest came a man who seemed mute.

Alone on the road, I was feeling so depressed I changed a ten-dollar bill into a stack of quarters that I hysterically stuffed into pay telephones.

Half the numbers on my long distance telephone bill were to places unfamiliar to me; and since I lived alone, I wondered how they got there.

(Complete) Shorter Stories

He was forever changing the spelling of his family name.

He wanted to go to heaven but didn't want to die.

He was the sort of man you'd introduce to your parents as a more attractive domestic substitute for yourself.

He says he married me in a ceremony I seem to have forgotten.

* * * * *

She kept handing dollar bills to someone who wasn't there.

Her body was suspended from the ceiling by string so thin that I wondered whether she was a dummy.

She could read whole biographies in the lines of your face.

When she said a certain ancient word, familiar only to the cognoscenti, her body disappeared into a puff of smoke.

* * * * *

Breathe, and don’t forget breathing.

Of the forty-nine marriage proposals offered me in the mail, each accompanied by a photograph, I accepted forty-seven.

Having won my first match as a professional boxer, I decided to retire, as few boxers do, absolutely undefeated.

My career as an opera singer consisted of a single performance thirty years ago, in which an audience, more boorish than most, booed me off the stage.

* * * * *

Individual entries on Richard Kostelanetz appear in Contemporary Poets, Contemporary Novelists, Postmodern Fiction, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, A Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature, Webster's Dictionary of American Authors, and Encyclopedia Britannica, among other selective directories. The pieces presented here were, consistent with the author's stipulations, chosen from a larger selection by the editors and then arranged according to their wishes.

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The Ombudsman to the Conductor is an Apparition of His Own Melody by Cynthia Marie

Prelude: Discordant notes float over the heads of the handsome audience.

The tall, thin blond man with charcoal eyes begins to click off a list of demands, quite demented, to be strictly adhered to; eventually he introduces himself as the Conductor's Ombudsman, his slight German accent rustles the staid hotel manager's heart like a silk dress.

The dark forest of a Conductor has an antique ivory cane and a wild crush on the lead violinist Ulna; he is chagrined to find her dancing the tango with Count Dominque at the Honoria de Flora Amour Ball. Each time the Count dips Ulna her raven mane tickles the slick emerald floor and her laughter sails like a happy flute into the Conductor's ears. His heart is enlarged and his thirst for Ulna is irreparable.

The widow Mrs. Portia Holland-Demura is late in her arrival. She was detained when her eyes adopted another apparition of her late husband, this time on the balcony. She almost broke in half as she absorbed the sonnets floating from his lips. Mrs. Aiko Abache, Portia's sister-in-law, feels the only reason Portia continues to see the late Mr. Demura is because of his resemblance to Montgomery Cliff, and that it is now time for this intense love to dissolve. Before the evening has closed Aiko intends to undress Portia concerning this lengthy and unhealthy devotion.

At dusk in Montessori Cemetery, Sisters Palachea and Marta-Neil hold hands as they stroll along the isolated grounds, veiled with weeping willows who mollify their tremulous natures. Sister Marta-Neil blesses each name scripted on the tombstones while Sister Palachea sings such a beautiful melody that the birds begin to chirp noisily with obvious jealousy.

End Note: The Conductor's feverish melody strikes a chord within the souls of all in attendance and the audience responds in unison as a clarion. Their faces moist and flushed in various hues. The Ombudsman clearly shaken drops the key to the mustached hotel manager's private chambers and the bell clear clink renders each member of the audience into a slice of Aurora Borealis.

* * * * *

Cynthia Marie: Lives in New York. Is the Editor of the magazine Femme. Her poetry may be found in various zines on the web. She admires : Joyce Carol Oates, Franz Kafka & Carl Phillips. A graduate of St. John's University, Cynthia now works for a small publishing house. Her current work appears in the MAG.

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Witness by Bruce Holland Rogers

The sun was shining when I started out, but you know how fast these storms can blow in. The sky grayed up and darkened as I followed the shoreline. A few drops started to fall about the time I was halfway around the lake. The wind brought cold rain. By the time I was three-quarters of the way around, the rain turned to hail. My shirt was soaked. Mist rose off the water.

I was hurrying when I came to the place where the lake drains into marshland, the stretch where the mud is black and slick. I was hurrying, but watching my step, too. Snags stand there, each about as tall as a man, with black mossy logs lying down among them. The nearer snags were dark and sharp-edged, the farther ones gray in the haze of falling hail. I was almost past when I noticed that the shape of one snag was strange. No, I realized, it wasn't a snag. Two people stood there in the hail and wind, among the broken trees, kissing. They wore gray cloaks with the hoods pulled up. One face looked much darker than the other. Their hands were clasped together, but partly concealed in the cloaks, like their faces.

I had to mind where I was stepping. Mud sucked at my boots. By the time I reached solid ground, I could no longer see the lovers, except in my mind's eye. I put my head down and pressed on. I thought of the lovers' hands. The hands clasped together were big, like a man's hands. The more I thought about it, the more certain I was. As I kept marching toward my cabin and fire, I recalled the shape of their fingers, their thick wrists. They were two men kissing.

Of course, some women have such hands. One face, the lighter one, was tipped up, the darker one turned down. The hoods obscured my view. So did the atmosphere. But I recalled the smoothness and delicacy of their jaws. Men don't often have such delicate faces. Rather than two men, the lovers might be women. Two women with big, rough hands. Two women kissing.

Had one really been so much darker than the other? Or were they the same, with one only deeper in shadow?

As fast as the storm clouds had blown in, now they began to break apart. Hail kept falling, but the sky brightened. Outside my cabin door, hailstones on the ground glistened white.

Inside the cabin, I fed new wood to the fire, shed my wet clothes in a heap and hurried to dress in dry ones. The mound of wet clothes on the floor reminded me, at last, of the humps. There were humps under those cloaks, rising gray behind the heads of the lovers. Enormous rounded humps.

* * * * *

Bruce Holland Rogers lives in Eugene, Oregon. His new collection of short stories, Thirteen Ways to Water, will be out in October. Additional stories can be found at www.shortshortshort.com.

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06/07/04 by Kevin L. Donihe

>Phone rings>
>Line opens>

VOICE #1: To whom am I speaking?

VOICE #2: I'm being bang raped at the corner of Academy and Carefree.

VOICE #1: Excuse me?

VOICE #2: ...bang raped by aggressively procrasturbating sesquipedalians.

VOICE #1: I don't know what you're talking about.

VOICE #2: Come get me, before it's too late.

VOICE #1: When will it be too late?

VOICE #2: Right now.

VOICE #1: Then I'll never make it in time.

VOICE #2: Not if you ignore physical laws and traffic lights.

VOICE #1: I don't even know you, sir.

VOICE #2: Yes, you do.

VOICE #1: No, I don't.

VOICE #2: Your voice sounds so familiar.

VOICE #1: Yours doesn't.

VOICE #2: Didn't we travel overseas together?

VOICE #1: No.

VOICE #2: Check out the same banned books from the library?

VOICE #1: Not to my knowledge.

VOICE #2: Didn't we once meet a man who called himself 'Chadwick Tate'?

VOICE #1: Drawing a blank, sorry.

VOICE #2: He had a deep red voice and copious facial scars. The nature of his implants sat him apart from the crowd.

VOICE #1: Never laid eyes on him.

VOICE #2: But I know we've met before. Remember when Pablo gave me those folders, and then you had to -- fuck! Another jet just flew by!

VOICE #1: Was it as black as the others?

VOICE #2: How did you know about the other jets?

VOICE #1: A little birdie told me about them.

VOICE #2: So, you do understand what's going on!

VOICE #1: Perhaps.

VOICE #2: Can you tell me if Pablo's okay? I've been worried about him.

VOICE #1: No.

VOICE #2: That figures.

VOICE #1: But you can tell me how many jets you've seen today? Did their numbers increase?

VOICE #2: Why should I tell you?

VOICE #1: I need to update my records.

VOICE #2: I really can't say; there were too many of them to count.

VOICE #1: Did the sky look like it was filled with ants?

VOICE #2: Yes.

VOICE #1: That's all I needed to know.

VOICE #2: Nothing else? Are you sure about that?

VOICE #1: Just make note of this conversation in your log, and then proceed according to the plan.

VOICE #2: Yes, sir! Right away, sir!

VOICE #1: And don't fuck things up this time.

VOICE #2: Aye, aye, sir! Aye, aye, sir! Aye, aye, sir!

>VOICE #1 hangs up>
>VOICE #2 turns on, tunes in, and drops both in and out at the same time>

* * * * *

Kevin L. Donihe has been accepted into over 140 magazines and anthologies in ten different countries, including The Mammoth Book of Legal Thrillers (Carroll & Graf/Constable & Robinson). His novel, Shall we Gather at the Garden?, was released by Eraserhead Press in 2001. He also edits BARE BONE, a story from which was reprinted in "The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 13." Kevin lives in northeastern Tennessee where he spends his free time doing stuff. Nothing further can be disclosed prior to debriefing.

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Geranium by Jennifer Gomoll

In a gray stone town to which you've never been but here you are, a girl of nineteen crosses a cobblestone alley. You don't see her face but you've seen it before, a broken piece of church-window glass, its features painted on. Up in your one small window, you hear before you see the shoes clicking by, low heels, wet stones. Black shadow, white walls.

When you open that window wider.

When you water your dying geranium.

She isn't walking streets in this town anymore, this place where no one will live. On a good day she is small enough for you to grasp, for your thumb to smooth her soft, broad cheekbones. Her eyes might be gray. Lead-gray, holding her church-window glass together.

In the evening rain you walk, thinking fire, she must have been the kind always destroyed by fire. Behind your alley-facing window on the edge of your hard white bed, you take your own hands, a woman's and a woman's, and pretend you're never alone.

And you aren't: your geranium has come into bloom, red as fire. Only where she's tapped the closed window while you slept, there's soot, a smudge of soot and a crack. Through it, the gray of the alley stones where you'd swear her shadow walks, black against walls of white.

You pass your hand through the glass and your skin is a rainbow of saints.

When you've stepped through, there isn't any old town anymore, somewhere you'd never been but there you were, leaving for the next your one room with its window on the alley, your hard white bed, your red geranium in bloom.

* * * * *

Jennifer Gomoll's fiction has most recently appeared or is upcoming in Beloit Fiction Journal, Sycamore Review and Madison Review.

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Persephone and Science by Michael Stein

Persephone is making her yearly ascent, trudging up the tunnel which leads from the underworld to the surface of the earth. A pinpoint of light guides her way, a distant star which gradually becomes a sun, before finally enveloping her in the blinding haze of daylight.

As always, her mother is there waiting, although without the elation of former times. Demeter still considers these reunions happy occasions, but the joyful embrace that mother and daughter used to share has long since been replaced with a polite peck on the cheek and some inconsequential banter.

"New? Mother, it's the kingdom of death, what could possibly be new there?"

"Oh... well, just look how everything is bursting into bloom," Demeter states proudly with a nod towards all her handiwork. But just as a magic trick repeated a few times will fail to impress anyone, the coming of Spring leaves Persephone cold. Longing for filial appreciation the goddess of the harvest persists, ". . . and doesn't the sunlight feel wonderful on your face after all that gloomy cold."

Persephone, frankly, has long grown tired of her mother's hard sell. She finds it condescending, as if she were a Scandinavian tourist just arrived for her package tour at the beach. Most of all she is deadly sick of olive trees and of the numerous flora and fauna her mother insists on pointing out to her.

One would think that after six months in chill darkness she would want to soak in the sunlight and relish contact with living things. But her attention is directed elsewhere. To her mother's yearly dismay she excuses herself as quickly as she can and immediately heads into Athens, with its well-stocked science library.

Given the run of the entire earth Persephone instead chooses to bury her nose in books and journals so as to keep up with the latest advances in meteorological research. She is capable of spending weeks at a time poring over all the so-called scientific explanations of seasonal change, amazed at the breadth of the human imagination. How else to describe it but as mythology, she thinks with amusement. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, constantly spoken of as if they actually existed. How ecstatic the little mortals were when they discovered that the earth travels round the sun and not the other way around, as if that's an answer to anything.

Persephone foresees plainly that this elaborate fiction will continue to spread, with one "discovery" following upon another, and like the episodes of an ongoing soap opera making her impatient to find out what happens next, however implausible she knows it to be. It is only entertainment though, nothing more. It distracts her, and provides a consolation and escape from her bleak, repetitive life.

* * * * *

Michael Stein's stories have appeared on Pindeldyboz, McSweeney's, The Fiction Warehouse and Rift Magazine. His first novel, Revival: A Ghost Story, is available on pulpbits.com. He lives in the Czech Republic.

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Entrance/Exit by Joe McCabe

SETTING: HE (30's, wearing a business suit) stands at a table in a dimly lit room in a super-secret government agency and checks the contents of an attache case.

HE: ...Hand lotion...Magic potion...That's everything.

(HE closes the case, picks it up, and turns to exit Stage Left.)

(SHE, 30's, wearing a military uniform, enters Stage Left carrying an attache case.)

SHE: Hello.

HE: Goodbye.

SHE: You don't have to leave just because I just arrived.

HE: Your arrivals have nothing to do with my departures.

SHE: I'd like to believe that.

HE: And I believe I like you.

SHE: I like that about you.

HE: (Checks his watch.) But now I must leave you here.

SHE: I've heard that every exit here is an entrance somewhere else.

HE: So they say, and I'm sure it's so.

SHE: Even the Final Exit? Is that an entrance somewhere else?

HE: So they say.

SHE: Some say so, but others disagree. What do you say?

HE: Nothing I can say will change the truth of it one way or the other.

SHE: Do you believe that every entrance here is an exit somewhere else?

HE: Absolutely.

SHE: Do we always remember where we've come from?

HE: The memory of who and what we've left usually does linger on in us.

SHE: Do those we've left behind remember us?

HE: I believe that back there we are often forgotten. Sometimes almost at once.

SHE: I won't forget you.

HE: I'd like to believe that.

SHE: Do you have your hand lotion?

(HE smiles, nods, and exits. SHE puts her case on the table and opens it. Lights to dark. THE END.)

* * * * *

Joe McCabe's plays have won awards and been performed in Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; Florida; Maryland; New York; and West Virginia. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, the Playwrights Forum, the Writers Center, and WV Writers, Inc. He resides with his wife, the artist Hilda Eiber, in Falling Waters, WV. Another short play of his, "Fire," appeared in Issue #10 of The Cafe Irreal.

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Dandies and Flanuers by D. Harlan Wilson

A dandy grew tired of blinking. All day long, blink ... blink ... blink ...

He bought four half-inch nails and a ball peen hammer from a hardware store and nailed his upper eyelids to his eyebrows and his lower eyelids to his eyebags.

"That's a good idea," said another dandy when he saw the dandy who had nailed his eyelids to his face prancing down the sidewalk in his top hat, bow tie and double-breasted twill coat. Granted, the dandy's eyes were a bit dusty and dry, but at least he didn't have to endure the tedious business of opening and closing them all the time. Better to be a little dirty and a little uncomfortable than to put forth a superfluous and unneeded quantity of effort, was his logic. So he nailed his eyelids to his face, too.

Realizing the two dandies were onto something, the rest of the dandies in the city nailed their eyelids to their faces. Soon the city was teeming with dandies whose eyes were permanently open. They goose-stepped up and down the streets in legions, beaming with satisfaction.

It was not long before a flâneur got suspicious. He was loitering on a street corner in a bowler, dress tie and quadruple-breasted frock coat when a series of wide-eyed dandies passed him by exhibiting what he perceived to be unmitigated nouveau riche behavior. He grabbed another flâneur by the elbow and yanked him into an alleyway. "Those dandies are trying to one-up us," he whispered in his ear. "They think they're better than us, walking around with their eyes nailed open like that. Just because they have money and we have squat doesn't mean they're special. In the end we're all a bunch of poseurs. Who do they think they are?"

"I don't know," the flâneur whispered back, peering back and forth out of the corners of his eyes at potentially threatening shadows, "but that's not the right question to ask. The right question to ask is--how are we going to react to it?"

The other flâneur placed his index finger on the dimple in his chin. "Hmm," he said. He closed his eyes and experienced a short reverie unrelated to the matter at hand. His comrade waited patiently for him to open his eyes and return to reality.

Three minutes later his eyes opened and one of his eyebrows curled up into a horseshoe. "I'm tired of talking," he smirked. "All day long, blah ... blah ... blah ..."

A few minutes later the flâneurs had bought their respective nails and hammers, pulled their underlips over their upperlips and nailed them through their upperlips into their gums. Granted, the flâneurs now owned frog faces and would have to feed intravenously, but at least they didn't have to endure the embarrassing business of being made fools out of by their fellow poseurs. Better to be a little funny-looking and a little aerated than to ignore a piece of oneupmanship, was their logic.

The rest of the flâneurs were quick to follow suit. Now the city was teeming with flâneurs whose mouths were permanently closed. They goose-stepped up and down the streets in legions, beaming with pride. As they saw it, their act of oneupmanship was far superior to their counterparts'. The only thing was, the dandies didn't nail their eyes open as an act of oneupmanship. They did it because they were lazy.

In effect, every now and then a flâneur goose-stepped past a dandy and tried to mumble something. The dandy, in turn, tried to frown.

* * * * *

D. Harlan Wilson has published over 100 stories in magazines and anthologies throughout the world. He is also the author of the books The Kafka Effekt, 4 Ellipses, Irrealities and Stranger on the Loose. Currently he teaches creative writing at Michigan State University.

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The Stolen Thief by Lucien Zell

She showed me to her room where she had gathered, through time and fate and purchase, a vibrant collection of antique books and mythological figurines. I was especially struck by the wooden carving near her bed and strolling over to it and picking it up for a closer inspection, she remarked casually "Prometheus."

Yes-it was surely Prometheus! The little figure clearly held the stolen fire in his clenched fist, and somehow (miraculously in fact considering that the sculpture was made entirely of ebony) the sculptor had imbued the figurine's eyes with a magical almost electric glow. I stared deeply into them for a long moment.

"Ah yes, you've spotted the prize of my collection!" she cried out suddenly, her voice bubbling with delight. "Does it have a story?" I asked, knowing that it certainly did and hoping she'd indulge it. "Yes," she took a deep breath, "it does."

And she went on to describe the odd sequence of seemingly chance events which had unavoidably led her to the scene of a fire, a large antique store wreathed in destructive glow. Sirens blared and a crowd gathered across the street to watch the magic ballet of flames shuddering out of the growing inferno. The enchanting chaos of the glorious destruction and the whirl of silhouetted firefighters superimposed upon the bright holocaust seared the night with meaning and granted the fire an aura of a long to be remembered event. Unperturbed by the smoke of thinking, she'd inched closer and closer to the nexus of the hypnotic spectacle.

She described an odd magnetism which drew her towards a window on the far side of the building. Of course the whole area of the fire had been strictly cordoned off by the firemen who were actively engaged in containing the blaze, but as the profound poise of any immaculately certain person grants them a momentary yet immediate authority (she said she "belonged to the fate of the fire" and "God's dreams cannot be woken from"), she'd snuck through a gap in the line of fire-trucks, swerved past several firefighters and stepped to the sill of the window she'd felt so inextricably drawn to. Looking in she'd perceived that the enormous heat from the fire had caused the glass to shatter, leaving only a few shark-like shards to glisten along its jaw-like frame. Stretching her hand inside, carefully navigating the trajectory of her outstretched arm to avoid being impaled by the remaining shards, she'd maneuvered her fingers until they came to rest upon a singularly enticing object. She'd grabbed it and quickly pulled it out and placed it under her shirt without even looking to see what it was... calmly and stealthily she'd crept from the building and slipped back into the crowd.

Struck by an amateur thief's surge of panic, she'd ducked down a small alleyway and ran and ran till she'd reached the steps of her home. Dashing up the stairs she'd crept to her bedroom, taken a few deep breaths, and then shiveringly pulled out from underneath her shirt the object of her impromptu burglary and lo and behold! it was the object I currently held in my own now shivering hands: Prometheus!

"It was thus," she said as she seized me by the waist and pulled me onto the bed in a madly sensuous embrace "that I stole Prometheus from the fire!"

* * * * *

Lucian Zell was born in Los Angeles. Born with a birth-defect, a missing right hand, he quickly turned to the performing arts as a means to express a face of beauty which he felt dwelling latent behind the mask of body. Just days before he was to attend Cornish College of the Arts on a full-scholarship, however, his brother committed suicide, and he left America on a ten year trek through Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, finally settling in Prague where his first volume of poems, The Sad Cliffs of Light, was published (by a Czech publishing house, DharmaGaia) and released in 1999. A second collection of poems, Eden's Midnight Playground, was published by DharmaGaia in December of 2003. The father of three children, Zell currently resides in Prague.

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The Fishmonger
by Andy Miller

Mona Lisa gave up her position in the Louvre to study meditation in the Pyrenees. Her master welcomed her into his cave, and removed her from the sturdy frame that had held her for centuries. Mona Lisa rolled up then, like a scroll, and the old man stretched her out over the fire.

He pretended to read the lines on her face, and to solve the riddle of her smile. "I wish I may, I wish I might, read the letters on your lips tonight."

Mona Lisa, of course, said nothing. This, she thought, must be some kind of test.

"Oh, I know, I know. If wishes were fishes..."

Mona Lisa rolled her eyes back in her head and dwelled upon the Om that is the center of the world, and its container. In this way she hoped to pass the test, and impress her master.

Mona Lisa sank so deeply into the meditation she didn't notice as the old man scraped her canvas with a flat knife. Didn't notice as he scraped the now-warm oil into the fire. Didn't notice as he took a pair of scissors to the canvas, and shaped a series of fishes, and strung up these fishes around his cave.

* * * * *

Short fiction by Andy Miller includes "La Dualidad," in the Fortean Bureau, "30,000 years ago..." in The Dream People, and "Armistice Day" in a future issue of Happy. Some of his musical compositions can be found in The Dream People. His short short, "On Blackberry Wine," appeared in Issue #6 of The Cafe Irreal and "Fugue" appeared in Issue #10.

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