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Issue number three




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The garden by Adam Shelton

In a garden teeming with death there is a pair of pruning shears that has fallen into the birdbath. They're rusting in the dark water, which is full of algae, plants, bugs and birdshit. No one wants to dip a hand in to grab them. Instead, people look all around for another pair or try to dump the water out, though they have no buckets and can't budge the fountain that the birdbath is attached to. One man tries to use a stick to scoop the shears out by the handle. When he pulls the stick out, he finds that the water has disintegrated it. He throws it down and steps back and away. He says they need a lady of the birdbath to hand the shears out like Excalibur. Every second, the briars and thorns in the garden grow larger.

Near the garden there is a bar. Inside the bar a man is trying to convince his bartender that he isn't crazy, just awake. A lady at a table in the back corner near the dormant dessert tray and coffeepots taps the cylinder of ash off the tip of her cigarette as she brushes her hair out of her eyes. Little beads of sweat form on her forehead.

An older man at the front table looks contemptuously at the busboy, then turns to a drunk in a nearby booth and says, "These spiritless people today have to be the worst crop in history. Bunch of worthless shits. Never do much. Just stupid, I guess. Well, one day something will knock some sense into them. I mean, I know what I'm talking about. I put a lot of struggle into this twisted monster of an existence. I mean, does this busboy think he knows something?"

The drunk lays back in his seat. Very slowly under his breath he calls death out of himself, not wanting the hope it brings him anymore, and places it around the neck of the passing busboy. The busboy walks over to the glass and looks out at the blooming flowering accuser, the clawing silence of all that is sleeping in the garden. The old man looks over at the garden and smiles, thinking that those are the prettiest flowers he has ever seen. The busboy turns to look him dead in the face. The old man continues his rant: "You people are so filled with filth. You have no idea of the glory of man. You don't even deserve to look out that window."

A woman comes out of the restroom, running her fingers through her hair. She has the bluest eyes that move like water. She makes her way towards the busboy, pulling the gum from her mouth, twisting it around her fingers and pointing at him with a chest full of hearts. He picks up a chair and throws it through the glass. He stands there with blood around his mouth, then walks without hesitation to the fountain. The few people around it make way, their fear of living plastered on the lids of their eyes. He stands near the birdbath and feels a second of fear, but his thoughts tell him he must not. The woman makes her way closer, but he quickly pulls a lighter from his pocket and sets his shirt aflame. The pain rips through his hand, wrist and forearm. And then he has no doubt as he slams his hand down into the birdbath. His arm sinks into it up to his shoulder. The water becomes clear. He grabs the shears and steps back away from the fountain. The woman looks towards the old man and then stands beside the busboy, groping him and seething heaven in his ear. The man at the bar says to the bartender, "You know, sometimes I pray to God and ask him to make it so I never existed." The bartender says, "Is that so?" and hands him his bill.

The busboy walks over to the biggest bush and puts the shears as close to the ground as he can, trying to get the base of the black stems. Just as he presses the handles of the shears a horrendous blast comes from behind him. The old man stands there, smoke rolling from his pistol. The busboy's head opens like a splattered pumpkin, and his blood is everywhere, soaked up by the ground and the leaves of this massive garden. The old man goes back and sits down. The woman at the back of the bar puts powder on her nose, and, while everyone watches, the garden continues to grow.

Adam Shelton writes and paints. His work has been published in Implosion Magazine, a poetry anthology called A Lasting Mirage, and other small publications. He is currently seeking representation for the bulk of his work.

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