By Deb Whittam
To the counter she marched
resolute, chin held high as
she looked the shopkeeper
directly in the eye.
That painting, there, the one
above the door, I’ll give
you twenty dollars,
not a penny more.
Silence met her words
but with a nod he agreed
and painting in her hand, she smirked,
there had been no need to plead.
At home she unwrapped
her highly sought after prize
only to discover on the frame
a notation that made shock arise.
twenty she had paid,
twenty she had offered,
but the tag clearly stated
clearance – just one dollar.
By Richard Helmling
As the ash piled up on the sixth day, they finally decided to head south.
“Por favor,” they made their son practice as they drove.
They avoided El Paso because the last radio broadcasts they had received said it was impossible to cross there.
So they found a seemingly desolate stretch of the wall. They approached with rope ladders slung between them, slapping their thighs, and he winced, remembering his vote in the previous election.
On the other side, he looked back over his shoulder at the six-foot high graffiti: “No les des de comer a los Americanos!”
Richard Helmling’s work has appeared in English in Texas, The Rio Grande Review, Fiction Brigade, Black Heart Magazine and Arsenic Lobster.
They argue over everything, especially when it comes to packing the car.
Her approach is to plan ahead and pack methodically, whereas he grabs items on sight and packs with brute force.
One morning she challenges him to prove that his method is more efficient. He spends the rest of the morning squeezing everything they own into the back of the car, determined to prove her wrong.
Once finished, he brings her outside to inspect his work.
Thank you she says, before getting into the car and driving away forever, happy to have conceded their final argument together.
By Christine Goodnough
I made camp by a wilderness lake to enjoy some solitude. Almost. I did make friends with a curious skunk who found my frypan drippings appealing.
Next evening a motorboat roared in. Three hunters unloaded their gear, made camp, guzzled beer. Finally crawled into their tent to snore.
Later I heard sneezing; the skunk was nosing among the ashes. When he headed for the newcomers’ tent, I whispered. “Wrong way, Moufette.”
His visit incited shouts, then three splashes as our reeking visitors hit the lake.
I fried extra bacon the next night. It’s nice to have friends drop in.
By Graham Robert Scott
The pages of my grandmother’s personal cookbook were yellowed, brittle; any recipe not in her hand, a heavily annotated clipping.
“You aren’t looking through my old recipes again, are you?” she called from the deck.
“Good. Amateur scribbles. Buy a real book. From a TV chef.”
I turned the page. The next recipe, in her hand, called for “1 human head, pickled.” I squinted, tilted, peered. Failed to decipher those words as anything else.
“Could you bring out some tea?” she called. “Green tea in the fridge is fine.”
Such was my haste, I spilled some on the counter.
I’ll eat chocolate for breakfast
and smoke a cigarette for lunch
I’ll wear pajamas all day
and mascara all night
I’ll swipe left and right
and kiss indiscriminately
I’ll bring home an unmemorable date
and kick him out before coffee
I’ll be the person you fell for
and I’ll be single.