UA-19541526-1

Interpolation

by Brian Bahouth

Listen to the author read his short story:

BrianBahouth-Interpolation.mp3

Martin pressed his hands deep into the cracks of his car’s upholstery searching for something like an earring or a used packet of personal lubricant that may have been inadvertently left behind. He had to pick up his wife at the airport in two hours so he furiously scrubbed the hand-sized, milk-white stain on his cloth front seat with a toothbrush and a little lemon water and was just about to vacuum the spot dry when his neighbor, Randy, said, “Yo, Martin …”

Martin lurched and hit the back of his head on the car ceiling as he stood and quickly positioned himself so Randy couldn’t see the front seat.

Randy said, “So you been watching what’s going on next door?”

“What’s going on next door?” Martin asked.

Randy looked around to see if anyone was in earshot.

“What’s going on?” he said.

“Have you seen Dave lately?”

Martin pointed at the adjacent bungalow with his head and said, “That Dave?”

Randy shook his head yes, and Martin thought for a second and said, “I really don’t pay too much attention … but now that you mention it, I haven’t smelled that diesel truck in a while… what about it?”

“What about it?” Randy whispered.

“For one thing, his wife Meghan is literally nine months pregnant, and the morning after they threw a huge baby shower last weekend, Dave and all his stuff totally disappeared… just like that,” he snapped his fingers. “I’m talking motorcycle, truck, riding lawnmower, everything that had anything to do with Dave except his dog … why do you suppose he left the dog?” Randy asked.

Martin worried that the stain on his seat would dry and leave an even bigger mark. He began to tell Randy that he had to pick up his wife from the airport in a half an hour, but Randy interrupted as if Martin had not been speaking.

“I can feel it, Marty,” he said. “Dave ain’t coming back.”

Martin noticed for the first time that Randy whitened his teeth.

“I don’t know,” Martin said. “Maybe he’s in the National Guard or something and they shipped him off to Afghanistan … what does it matter?”

“Afghanistan? Are you kidding me… c’mon, Marty… you know why he left.”

Martin squinted to fend off anger and, despite himself, began to create a sordid story to explain what Randy had observed.

“I can see onto their deck from my back yard,” Randy said. “Between you and me, a lot of shit has gone down in that hot tub, if you know what I’m saying.”

Martin imagined his young metrosexual neighbor, Meghan, with someone other than her husband in the hot tub making a love baby. Then he visualized the contortions of Dave’s face as he read the lab results showing that he was not the father of Meghan’s baby. In Martin’s burgeoning story, Dave threatened violence and Meghan hid at her mother’s house while Dave took everything but the dog and disappeared forever. As Martin imagined the divorce settlement, Meghan’s black SUV disrupted his fantasy and wobbled to a stop ten feet from his car in the driveway next door.

Randy and Martin stopped talking and watched while she and her distended belly slowly emerged and she stood on the far side of the car. Pink helium balloons crowded the back seat. Her purse was fancy and big and seemed a heavy weight on her arm. Martin raised his hand and smiled, and Meghan nodded back, their typical anonymous exchange, but this time Martin studied her more carefully than ever before and could see that her immaculate hairdo and power suit were completely detached from her swollen breasts and knotted expression, a helmet and rattling armor on something shaky and pale.

She used her chin to balance arms full of boxes wrapped in pink paper. With red ribbons clutched in her left hand, the balloons floated in front of her eyes. Martin held his breath when her spiky heels sank into the lawn and she staggered to the right and the left, balloons bouncing lightly off her face until she stepped onto the cement walkway and paused. Randy stepped quickly around the car and walked toward her with arms extended and said, “Here, let me help you with those.”

Martin noted that their faces almost touched as she handed him the packages. Randy followed her closely up the short set of stairs onto the porch. He inhaled through his nose and could almost taste her body odor through a light, organic perfume. His scalp and ears flushed while she rummaged her bag for the keys. From across the driveway Martin noted Randy’s new redness and attentive posture of willing obedience.

Dave’s Labrador retriever barked and scratched to get out, and when she opened the door the dog jumped up and put its paws on her chest, and in a step backwards into Randy she let go of the ribbons with a laugh, and a half dozen balloons floated into the sky. Martin watched Randy inspect Meghan’s neck while she looked up at the balloons. Meghan smiled and Martin realized her teeth were whitened too.

As Martin had feared, while he was making up stories about his neighbor, the stain on his seat had dried. He looked at his watch and then dipped his toothbrush into a bucket of lemon-scented water and rubbed the stain in a tight, circular motion.

 

*

Brian Bahouth is a longtime public radio reporter, on-air host and short story writer. I also produce My Audio Universe a literary magazine of sound in conjunction with KVMR Nevada City/Sacramento, CA.

photo courtesy of Michael Gwyther-Jones

Dreaming Nagasaki

“Dreaming Nagasaki” by Christopher Leibow

Christopher Leibow currently lives in Salt Lake City, with his cat Mr. President. He is an MFA graduate of Antioch and has been published in numerous journals and online, including Juked, Interim, and Barrow Street and Cricket Online Review. He is a two time Pushcart Award nominee and a Utah Book Award Nominee and the winner of the Writers@Work Writers Advocate Award in 2008.

Secret Runs

by Marissa Schwalm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some days I never told you

about my runs with our dogs,

how when you would wake early

for the 5am shift I would wait

for you to go then sneak through

our empty house as if any moment

you’d catch me. I could sense

their anticipation, ears perked

to my every movement in bed

as you gathered pants, keys, wallet,

and your butcher’s coat from

a pile in the corner.

 

I would take them down our street

to the river, past the rows of houses

with porcelain cats in the window,

flags jutting out over doorways,

the few moments of quiet before

grandparents and crackheads

stumbled outside looking for something

to hold onto.

 

We would run under the bridges

where the mounds of sleeping bodies

shifted at the beat of our footsteps,

past the worn down factories spray-painted

with words about women’s bodies, to hover outside

the metal scrap art studio

where men hammered broken discarded waste

into something beautiful.

 

You gave me your old

pocketknife to keep in my purse,

brown with swirls of colors on the body.

Maybe you knew

I couldn’t sit still.

(continued on next page, no stanza break)

I could barely get it open, and it took two hands

to close it with a high-pitched squeak

but it’s still in my glove box in my car—

after all these years you’re still

protecting me and not yourself.

 

How when you would work overnights

I would run them around

the hospital, chase the helicopter

in the sky, speak German

to the dog’s raised shoulders when

followed by a group of boys

for blocks and blocks. How I knew

someday I would leave them,

and you, find myself in an entirely

new city running unarmed

and exposed unsure if I am

running toward or away

from secret things

found only in darkness

and early light.

 

*

Marissa Schwalm is a Ph.D. student in English Literature and Creative Writing at Binghamton University in New York, where her fields of study include contemporary poetry and creative nonfiction. Her research interests most recently include understanding how the evolution of the circus in the United States reflects changing social anxieties. She is current co-editor in chief of the Binghamton University graduate run journal Harpur Palate.

 

photo by Mike Baird

 

Cries

“Cries” by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15 year old photographer and artist who has won contests with National Geographic,The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organisation, Winstons Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham science , Fennel and Fern and and Nature’s Best Photography.She has had her photographs published in exhibitions and magazines across the world including the Guardian, RSPB Birds , RSPB Bird Life, Dot Dot Dash ,Alabama Coast , Alabama Seaport and NG Kids Magazine (the most popular kids magazine in the world). She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.Only visual artist published in the Taj Mahal Review June 2011. Youngest artist to be displayed in Charnwood Art’s Vision 09 Exhibition and New Mill’s Artlounge Dark Colours Exhibition.Youngest to be published in Grey Sparrow Press. Featured artist in Able Muse and the Taj Mahal Review.

she wears big floppy hats

by Jenelle Hayward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

she wears big floppy hats paints her lips pink on sundays when she smiles deep wrinkles bend

like her hunched spine she shakes when she walks shakes when she clasps my hands in hers

shakes when she kisses my cheek                      leaves a print                you’re beautiful she says she

loves me she says says she loves God and when I see millie I know Him

 

*

Jenelle Hayward’s work has appeared in FourtyOunceBachelors, The Truth About Fact, Gordon College Global Education Journal, and Idiom. I am an experienced classroom teacher currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student at Mills College, pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing.

photo by istolethetv

Driven

“Driven” by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15 year old photographer and artist who has won contests with National Geographic,The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organisation, Winstons Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham science , Fennel and Fern and and Nature’s Best Photography.She has had her photographs published in exhibitions and magazines across the world including the Guardian, RSPB Birds , RSPB Bird Life, Dot Dot Dash ,Alabama Coast , Alabama Seaport and NG Kids Magazine (the most popular kids magazine in the world). She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.Only visual artist published in the Taj Mahal Review June 2011. Youngest artist to be displayed in Charnwood Art’s Vision 09 Exhibition and New Mill’s Artlounge Dark Colours Exhibition.Youngest to be published in Grey Sparrow Press. Featured artist in Able Muse and the Taj Mahal Review.


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