Hey Shitbag, What’s My Destiny?

You hit a nerve, made my hands shake when you grazed those painted nails across my arm. The way you shook your ass at me and that peek-a-boo on the sly when you bent over and let me get a good look at ya cunt from behind.

You made me make a sacrifice,

For you,

Not me.

I hated the thought of your smile and your fake pouty lips, but I loved the commune of your flesh, shared and tattered. You gave it a bad rap. Your life, you said. It was just porno and tap water, malted milk balls and restless cocks. You called yourself Destiny, and I wondered why someone like you would work in a chicken house like this. Maybe you was mad at your daddy. Hope I didn’t look like him, so I sat at the back of the bar, in the dark, contemplating your full lips and how they would look severed from your face and mounted on my throbbing cock. You said you could see the future in that little deck of cards you carried around in your purse, said it with a “Hey Mister,” when you asked me if I wanted to know mine. “Ten bucks,” you said, and I replied, “Divine.”

You thought I was talking about you, but I wasn’t. I asked what you did for a living while I flipped the tassel on your boob, and you said you liked to fuck. “With a crystal ball?” I asked, and you laughed at me. You didn’t want to know what I did, what my passion was. You said it was all in the cards, and that death with his rusted out scythe and his emerald green eyes was just a beginning. I nodded and fingered the razor in my pocket, cause I supposed it was true. Well, you believed it, along with the moon and the stars and the voodoo priestess who told you “you” had a gift. You didn’t want to know about all the naughty things little girls like you shouldn’t know about. You didn’t want to know about my fascination with skin.

I am a sculptor.

What’s inside you is weak,

And I can fix it —

With plaster.

I want to fuck you with a chisel. Scrape the ligaments from your bones. What I do is a labor of love. I bring things back to life, but you didn’t even really want to know me beyond the free drinks and the bits of coin I dropped in your tip jar. You thought you were a hipster, a girl gone wild, but you’re really just a fucking parsley smokin’ bigot, getting back at her rich drunk daddy. Your bust will look nice mounted next to the saw palmetto by the shed. I’ll use pencil erasers to keep your nipples hard, yet supple. That’s what I was thinking while you giggled and practiced your “witchcraft” as you liked to call it. You went on and on about sinkholes and bedbugs and why it’s so important to wash the fucking sheets. What if I default on my lottery payment? Will I get sued for all those vile accusations I made about the frigid bitch of a mayor? or Was I letting failure bloom when I spread my seed to the hookers on the next street corner? “Fuck no,” I replied. “This is a small town, honey, and there ain’t no jobs in a dust-storm famine funeral parlor. I got clients. Not a lot of huntin’ to do around here,you see, so I might be easy money, but this strip ain’t the only game in town.” You smiled again, said I was hokey and quaint. Wanted to know whether I wanted to smoke a joint and get a lap dance or not. Now, I don’t know nothin’ bout your big city ways with your tattoos and pierced clits and all that greasy black eye makeup. I just skin em and stuff em; well, you don’t really stuff em, not like a scarecrow with sawdust and hay.

I do like your sky blue innocent eyes, though.

I think I’ll keep them for myself.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

Paper or Plastic?

Cycling down, compressing, Ronald watches as the arms and legs hanging outside the machine snap off like muted branches.  Thick and bleeding, they fall to the concrete floor, no longer a part of what once made them whole.  Occasionally—perhaps one in five—these appendages roll towards him, but most times they do not.  Inert, they remain still about his feet, pooling, each piece preceded only by the dull thud its weight creates against the floor.  It is Sunday, pre-church, and before the morning rush.

Does he care that they make fun of him?  Yes.  More than they could know.  Does Ronald show it?  Never—not once.  He is good at this; at holding things in.   He lets them stew, boil.   That is how he cooks; how the man inside him rolls.  In the mirror, naked, he repeats:  I am rage. 

At sixteen he is hit by a car.  It hurts, but he survives.   Scars come, many, and every day he limps because of it.   So what, he thinks.  It beats the hell out of being dead.  Dead can’t bring closure.  Dead could not extract revenge.  His right hand turns inward as well, up and towards his chest.  It resembles a claw, but one which has lost the will to live.  Chicks never look at it, not if it can be helped. 

At least I survived.

He says this whenever an associate asks.  And he says it with a smile on his face each and every time.  He believes it keeps them humble, the ones he secretly despised.  They think he never hears their whispers; that he could ever possibly know.  Each of them is wrong; all of them his rage.

Mr. Gray keeps him on at Mister Food even though Corporate doesn’t want him to.  Ronald gives the man credit for that.  He really, truly does.  Mr. Gray—tall, bald, bad breath—shouldn’t have done what he did though, and only because of what it would produce.  He should have given Ronald severance; just ensure he went away.  He did not however, and soon enough Ronald finds out that Mr. Gray is no better than the rest of the people behind his back.  He never yells at Ronald, nothing as vulgar as that.  But he whispers along with the rest of them, and at times Ronald would see him laugh.

The final straw involves the baler, and the day Mr. Gray takes him aside.  Mr. Gray says it is only meant to house cardboard and plastic—that only a bale of each could be made at a time.  Ronald says he understands; that it hadn’t been he who mixed the two.  It was then Mr. Gray chooses to call him a liar, and his voice, had it been raised?  Ronald can’t remember, only that his fellow employees have stopped in their tracks to stare.  One of them had been Cara, a girl Ronald wished he could call his own.  She would never fuck him though, and he was happy he held no delusions concerning that.

  “And Ronald, really, you need to be washing your uniform more than once a week.”  Ronald nods, takes what has been given, and then watches Mr. Gray walk away.  From the side he sees him roll his eyes as he passes Patrick, Bill and Mark.  They smile in return, the secret shared and understood.  The rage comes forward then, leaping, but Ronald smiles instead, his big grin containing what will no longer be contained.  Later, while masturbating, the staff meeting at the end of the month enters Ronald’s mind.  They are always held out back, where Mister Food keeps all its excess stock.  Mr. Gray purchases folding chairs and everyone gets a seat.  Beside these seats looms the baler, metal and brown, stickered and wide.  Plastic and cardboard Mr. Gray had said, saying it as though Ronald were new; that he hadn’t been an active member of the Mister Food Team for the past twelve years.   The baler produced rectangle kids after you fed its mouth and the plunger pushed down until it no longer could.  After that came the twine, six lengths of rope you tied off in order to hold the child you created in place.  Ronald was far from wondering about cardboard and plastic as he spasmed into his hand.  He was thinking about bodies; about stacking them high.  Could it be done, he thought, and realized he had been talking out loud.

“Mr. Gray?”

“What is it now Ronald?”

“At the staff meeting—could I be in charge of the refreshments?”  Pausing, Mr. Gray finally swivels in his chair.  “Of course you can,” he says.  Ronald notices that Mr. Gray is more than enthused that he has offered to do this.  Good for me, Ronald thinks—everyone needs a little happiness in their lives.

The dosage is enough, more than, and all but Florence had taken a glass.  It doesn’t take much to persuade her however, not once Ronald puts the full force of his limp on display.  She takes the glass, sips—comments on how peachy it tastes.  Thirty minutes later all thirty-seven employees lay prone before him.  Where to begin, he thinks, and suddenly he notices how hard his breath has become; how hard his heart is now knocking against his chest.  “I am Rage,”  he says and looks around, taking each of them in at a time.  I will be stacking you, he thinks, and then goes on towards Mr. Gray.  In time—stupid fucking hand—he gets the big man up, rolling him up and over the baler’s bottom lip.  Easier, he takes the cashiers next, each of them half the weight of Mr. Gray.  Eleven of them inside, Ronald closes the safety gate and then pushes the big green button on the side of the machine.  With a start and then a screech, the plunger descends, crushing breath and bone alike.  They never wake, not one of them.  They only bleed, forming a lake like syrup to which Ronald sees no end.

  The buggie boys come next, followed by the Stationary Department.  Of them all, Sheila the office girl proves the most difficult.  Over three hundred pounds, she is more than he can lift.  Using empty milk crates, Ronald creates the leverage he believes he will need.  In, she sinks half way down, her face coming to rest beside George from Frozen Food.  Amanda is beside them, her brain exposed and grey.  Done, he looks around at the empty chairs, at the skids full of overstock beyond.  He takes in the blood that continues to seep from the bottom of the baler and arms and legs that rest within.  Should I leave them, he thinks, but knows a job is not complete until you have cleaned up after yourself.

He makes a bale using twine that will never again be white.  It does not turn out as he had hoped, not as rectangular, nor as solidly built.

From skin that runs in flaps to muscle that hangs and drips, Ronald stands in front of the baler’s open door, squints into the chamber for all the faces he can still make out.  There is Stacy and Beth, both of them covered in Shawn.  Below them he sees Richard, the man finally inside Peggy-Sue.   And there at the bottom lay Mr. Gray, his bright eyes now dull, his nose below his mouth.  They would not be laughing anymore, nor would their whispers continue to come.

Washing up, Ronald changes into his extra uniform.  He then goes out and fills the milk.  He rotates the product as he’s been taught, finds that the person before him has not.  He sighs when he finds this; dejected to see that someone had not been doing their job as they were supposed to.  Finished, he takes his empty crates out back and piles them away.  He stacks the chairs as well, the ones Mr. Gray had rented for the day.  Making his way up front, he realizes he has lost track of time; that the customers have been waiting longer than they should, many of them now tapping their keys against the glass.  Opening the doors, they look at him weird, like they have never experienced rage before.  Have I missed some blood, he asks himself, and then he looks to his one good hand.  Seeing nothing, he welcomes them in; informs them that the cashiers will be up front shortly.  The customers smile in response to this, but Ronald feels that something is off.  He doesn’t know what, only that it is there.   The customers do not whisper however, nor do they laugh.

By Beau Johnson

The Haunted Housewife

They called her the Haunted Housewife. She wore June Cleaver dresses from the 50’s. They were moth-eaten and dyed black to match the circles underneath her eyes. Her skin was doll’s porcelain, powdered into transparency. Some say she didn’t exist at all, that she was only a ghost who showed herself in the windows of the sinking Georgian manor on Pine Street. Holding a martini for a husband who would never come home and cooking dinner for children that could not digest anymore.

They called her the Haunted Housewife and her black hair was streaked white. Empty bottles of chemicals were found in the trash bin on the mornings after her sightings. Whole gallon jugs of Windex, tile cleanser, bleach and lye. The women would all whisper, what was she doing in there? Did she still clean that house? Did she polish the silver? Did she buff the floor? When did she emerge? Neighborhood children made a game of knock knock knock on her door. They ran away and hid behind the trash can and flaking picket fence.

She used to have a family the older women would say. She wasn’t always alone. One day no one was there, except the haunted housewife. Left to make empty beds, and iron unworn shirts. the police came. Everyone talked, but there was nothing said. Except that the husband and her two boys were never seen again.

Then, the children started disappearing in the woods off of Pine Street. Little boys with chubby cheeks, and a penchant for marble games, shooting things with BB guns. Winchester model. Hollering after a felled squirrel, compatriots would watch them fade into the forest fog. No one saw them after that. Now and then a boy’s sneaker would show up, smeared with mud with the faint odor of cleaning products.

Peering out she smiled, in the dark when they all slept. She was their joke but she had them all wrapped around her bony white finger, little did they know. Mounting the stairs she descended to the basement family room. It was set up just as they left it: trains, tv, molding floral print couch and reclining lounge chair. Underneath the big red wool rug, she pulled pieces of floor, exposing a locked door. Fitting the key carefully into the heavy lock the Haunted Housewife adjusted her heels, and opened up her real home. Down she twisted into the lighted hole where her family had multiplied like bunnies. Her husband sat at his work bench reading the paper, her boys were on the shag carpet with their Erector set, and the others . . well the others had come to live with them forever. Once her husband had said she should take up a hobby, now she was quite proud of her work. Taxidermy was a very considerate art after all.

By Emily Smith-Miller

A Bloodied Ear of Corn

“When maidens find red ears of corn,

They shall be paired before the dawn”

This golden field slopes like her chest; the fence posts mirror my own.  But it’s not just breasts I lack.  She has the hair, in near pubic curls, dimples like pock marks, boring blue eyes… everything the village boys could want or need.  I can ride a horse so fast you’d swear I was centaur, slice a sickle through wheat as if twirling in dance, and twist a lamb in its mother so the feet slide out first and there’s profit for morning. 

But to my folks, to those boys with their awkward walks and sliding eyes, stiff trousers and fiddling pockets, I’m the runt of the litter.  Except when I try and talk to them about her, about the realities of living with my sister, her sniffs and whining, delicacies and deceit, they call me that but substitute with a ‘c’.

I need a mate, I need escape.  My own farm to run, and a cart for the market.  A bed to lie in, roll on, and share.  No more making do.

So I’m making don’t, won’t and can’t.

We’re out in the field, and I’m cutting the corn.  She bends to sniff a poppy then scarlet blossoms further than petals, wetter than tears, stickier than mud.

Who they going to marry now?

By Gill Hoffs

The Shadow Factory

She never needed to reload.
 
It had only been a week, and you said the word “bed” with the wide innocent eyes of a child as in “Are we going to?” and she really didn’t know what to say to you. She could see your expectant smile shining in the darkness, could feel your heartbeat thrumming the dead air of silence around her, but there were no words. Not for you.
 
She knew what you wanted, could feel it under your skin when you fucked her on the lino in the kitchen and against the dumpster in the parking lot and on the roof of your wife’s car. Yes, she could feel it, and she wanted to cut it out, wanted to find you in the morning, a distant dream, a sigh that barely brushed up against the linen. Too soon, it was just too soon. She’d made the same mistakes before…
 
Mathew 7:16. He wouldn’t kiss her on the mouth after she’d sucked the fuck out of him. “Selfish,” she thought, every single time he came. His blood was slow and thick and tasted of tequila and mothballs.
 
Sometimes the dead speak to her. She would strip the sheets from the mattress and lie amongst them naked, listening to their complaints in the dark, the streetlights through the blinds marking the room off like the scene of a homicide. Sweat, and piss, and shit, and vomit. She could smell them all, taste them all, on the soft folds beneath her body.
 
Jake 5:22 would never look at her when he came. Called her by his mother’s first name when he fucked her, and then he’d call her a whore. “Too needy,” she thought every single time he refused to look at her cunt. His blood was slick and gritty and tasted of grease.
 
Simon 3:18 would only ever fuck her in the ass. Said it looked like a nice tight schoolboy’s ass. There was no blood in his veins.
 
You were different though, 1 week 3 days and you couldn’t help but say the words, even if you didn’t mean it. But you’d have to mean it before you could join her here, in this private space between hope and pain.
 
You’d have to make her believe it,

Before she could ever accept your stain.

By Cheryl Anne Gardner

Hang

They held him down and wired his hands behind him, the wire cutting tight into his meaty wrists, then stood him up and blindfolded him then marched him into their vehicle and drove him away. He was in some wooded lot but now they were taking him somewhere else, where he didn’t know, couldn’t know, had no chance of seeing where, all he knew was that they were driving and he was being driven with wired wrists and blinded eyes.

At least they didn’t gag his mouth.

“Where are you—”

The smack made him feel its sting, numbing his jaw. He couldn’t tell if it was really a smack or a punch but it hurt so bad he couldn’t speak. He wanted to know where they were taking him of course but now it didn’t matter because he knew that in less than an hour he would be dead anyway. At least that’s what they said before when they wired his hands.

In what seemed just a few minutes the vehicle stopped. He heard shuffling feet but no voices. Then a door opened and he felt angry hands grab at his arms and yank him up and move him. He stumbled on something then felt what he guessed was pavement. He sensed the presence of one of them close to him but wasn’t sure if it was the vehicle or something else.

Then he heard what struck terror all through him.

Traffic.

The sounds of passing vehicles emanated from somewhere. He felt himself being moved, walking forward. The sounds seemed to get closer. They seemed to be coming from below his range of hearing.

I’m on an overpass.

He heard a vehicle pass nearby, then another, but the continuous sounds confirmed it.

I’m standing on an overpass. They’re going to throw me off.

Suddenly he felt something being wrapped around him. Something that felt like a rope, or maybe a longer wire. He felt them putting it under his arms and tightening it around his chest. Someone was behind him pulling at it, getting it tighter, now too tight. It constricted him, but he could still breathe well enough. But it was too tight, it cut into his flesh, moreso than the wire on his wrists.

Someone pulled at his hair from behind and yanked his head back. The traffic seemed to get louder in his ears. Someone spoke from his left.

“You had many chances. We gave you so many chances to tell us but you refused. You signed your own death wish.”

The pain in his chest became more intense as he felt himself being moved again, but only a few steps until he felt something solid against his hips. Hands from both sides lifted him sideways, to his right, and he felt the solid thing on his shoulder and legs and hip. Hands pushed his feet forward and then he felt himself drop. Whatever it was they tied tightly around him cut deeper into the flesh of his chest and back, against his armpits. The pain was excruciating and his mind raced, realizing that he was being lowered into the sound of all that traffic, which was no doubt an expressway during rush hour.

The air was cool and he felt a breeze on his face, but it did nothing to diminish the pain. The sound of the traffic, the passing vehicles, got closer. He began to focus on his feet, knowing that soon he would feel something strike against them, and hard. It would be the top of a semi more than likely and maybe the impact would crack his feet right off. A semi going 70 miles an hour could do that, he thought. He instinctively bent his knees to raise his feet up but then he thought that would be even worse if his knees and legs got it so he straightened them out again and tried to think of something else, anything else, which was hard to do when you’re being lowered into oncoming traffic, all those vehicles rushing to get to work or wherever the fuck they were going, and then suddenly blowing their horns since they’re seeing you now, you, a body hanging off an overpass, your eyes blinded by some wrap, the cars and the trucks and campers and motorcycles not seeming to slow down but instead speeding up, why would they do that, shouldn’t they be stopping, but no, they can’t just stop, there are hundreds of them, they can’t stop, you’re not some ornament on a tree or some landmark they need to look at, you’re just a body hanging from an overpass and that fucking semi just took off your feet and you’re swinging around and being lowered even further, right in the path of a Winnebago and BAM it bashes against your chest and those wires cut into your ribs, you feel as if they’re gonna cut you in half but they don’t, you’re just bashed by another one and you see that your legs are deformed and lower you go so that you’re level with the oncoming traffic, a little break in it but that’s no relief since your ribs are cracked and there’s blood dripping out of your legs where your feet were and BAM right in the fucking head another one hit, it hit the wire that hangs you there too, and you’re catapulted around and back so that you’re struck by yet another one, and now it’s all black and you can’t feel much now, can’t see that your intestines are hanging out of your bloodied torso, those wires still slicing through you as if you’re a block of cheese, but soon it’ll be over, soon you’ll be splattered on the fucking freeway like a deer and you’ll be a carcass, bashed open like a human pinata, all those cars and trucks and whatever else swerving to miss hitting you, their drivers unaware at first of what’s in the road, maybe it is a deer but no it’s a fucking person, oh my fucking god, it’s a person and then you’re done, you’re history, everything’s over, there’s blood and guts and brain matter and limbs in the road, your torso and head are all that remain intact, they’re still lovers, they still love each other so much but they died together, your head cracked in half but still connected to the neck, the neck still connected to the shoulders, but what bloody mayhem of a mess you are now, you’re just a dead thing in pieces that had been hanging from an overpass. That’s really all you are.


By Jeff Callico

Grave Liaisons

Alex used to play with the dead until one of the dead played with her. She slid her slender body down the dry earth of Andrew Reese pressing her pubic bone into the dirt talking out loud about how she wanted his brittle frame to engorge itself on top of her, filling her with all his unfulfilled lust and vile fantasies that rotted in his rattling skull. She pictured his decrepit fingers, alive and stroking her inner thigh tickling that special spot that got her soaking from the inside.

Andrew Reese Born Oct. 13, 1906 Died Oct. 28, 1929. The cemetery was ancient and well cared for, grass always spring colored, blossoming like her opening flower on dear Andrew’s eternal resting spot. No doubt even the dead could smell her moist cunt as she writhed on the headstone, gripping it with excitement as she merged her flesh with mottled moss that had formed in the cracks of aged stone. She sprung back and straddled his imaginary coffin, licking her fingers as she rubbed herself harder. “Oh Andrew! Right there!” she screamed, her flimsy white night gown now soaked with dew clung to each curve in its extremes, spotted with dirt and green from her deathly orgasm. Flailing on the grass she felt someone clasp her wrists.

Alex’s eyes burst open, nearly splitting their seam, as she felt something hard and real fill her chasm with every inch of pure pulsation, something living, something convulsing within her loins. But there was nothing. Just the weight on her chest and hands pinned back behind her. Alex often excited herself to frenzy on the floor of this very graveyard but as she began to moan with the sex act this felt not of imagination.

Suddenly flesh wounds opened under her gossamer gown and she felt sex scars tearing at  her body as she was flipped over and her hips yanked in the direction of the penetrating phantasm. She screamed, this time not in pleasure but unequivocal terror. Alex was being torn apart, with each thrust great chunks of bloody muscle were plucked from her back. Tossed to ground the spectre came at her again, forcing her arms to her side while organs began peeking out through slashed skin. Whipping and wailing she fought against the demon on her belly that seemed to be extracting her very womanhood as her paralysis held fast. She felt a hand move up her breast hovering over the pointed nipple gently aware of its precise feminine exquisiteness, she held her breath, then with searing pain a sick ripping sucking sound followed and nothing but pain roared from her former cleavage.

The morning mist rest damply on the still shiny wet grave of Andrew Reese, sopping with upper and lower intestines. Alex’s sweet flower had been separated from her pale thighs, now caked in dried blood. It had been clipped, twisted and made into a human origami project resting atop dear Andrew’s stained marker. Right below the grass line, burrowed where the stone met the earth was the fragile heart. Next to it in near weather worn faded letters was our boy’s darling epitaph: “Here lies Andrew, Maniac, Murderer and Son.”

By Emily Smith-Miller