Storylandia, Issue 6, Winter 2012
The Wapshott Journal of Fiction
Paullette Gaudet, The Deepest Crease Visible; T Sheehan, Amie and Sherry and the Twilight Diner; V. Ulea, Expecting a Star; JJ Steinfeld, The Furtive Men Play the Wretched Bar; Dustin Grayson, Best Head Ever; Chris Castle, Mall in Rainbows; cover by Magda Audifred
Where to buy: 10% off with this code: HDCYF4CR at this online store; Amazon, eligible for free shipping; Kindle ebook format only until July 20, 2012.
We were driving back to the city from Indio after the Coachella concert, and Mark, my best friend and roommate, was asking his usual road-trip questions. They had advanced over the years from things like “Would you rather be burned to death, or suffocate?” or “You and boyfriend Quentin Tarantino seek a third, available weekends—who responds to your ad?” to ones like “Would you be willing to live without love, if it meant you could own a house outright?” Mark had adjusted his questions recently to accommodate my increasing retreat from whimsy, I think—his more absurd proposals were now reserved for new acquaintances, and when I overheard them they made me sad for a time when I was younger, and drunker, and still thought I would someday meet Quentin Tarantino. Mark couldn’t, even for me, make his questions completely dull, so it didn’t surprise me when he asked, “Would you ever date a midget?”
On the morning of her 25th birthday, on a July day, Amie Lightstreet walked into the Twilight Diner, just off Exit 185, US 80 eastbound, in Pennsylvania. She went immediately to a table in the far corner, the last empty booth in the diner just before a couple came in the door. The waitress hurried over with a menu and said, “Coffee, Hon?”
She was expecting a baby.
“What are you having?” he wondered, watching the sunset.
“I think it’s going to be a star,” she said quietly, answering his thoughts.
He only smiled, caressing her head. She still looked like a girl—slim and lithe, her shoulders buried in a golden waterfall of hair.
Last time she gave birth to a wave. Emerald green—just like the color of her eyes—and it added music to the ocean.
“The ocean is silent on the inside and sounding on the outside,” she had said. “It needs music…” She had not known she was pregnant with the wave.
I still can’t get that writer woman out of my mind. It’s been almost a year since we were last together, since she disappeared, but I’m not worried about her. I know that wherever in the world she is, that woman knows exactly what she’s doing. It took me a long time to understand why she came to the stinking little bar I work at, but I sure found out. She called it the Wretched Street Bar and I liked that name a hell of a lot more than the Lilac Avenue Lounge, which it’s been called for longer than anyone I know can remember. She also gave the house band a great name: The Furtive Men. I’d like to see that writer woman again, but that’s impossible, as impossible as me ever quitting this place I work at and getting a regular daytime job.
Dustin Grayson Best Head Ever
Brian Hughes did not like to make an entrance. Attention made him sweat. His pink skin would blanch and turn the sour color of buttermilk. He was a teenager, looked exactly like one, and was nothing short of ordinary. He walked into St. Pius the same time as Paul, and while he had both hands open, no one shook, clapped, or embraced them. The only classmates who knew him were Paul and Katie Lee Marcovich, the girl he has loved ever since preschool.
Chris Castle The Mall in Rainbows
Henry Crowe walked back to the mall and fished the keys out of his pocket. He’d decided and then un-decided about ten times over. As he pulled the keys out of his pocket and jammed them in with a deep breath. He closed the door behind him without another thought.
The mall itself kept a certain amount of lights on overnight. As he stepped onto the ground floor the place was streaked in great, thick shadows; shops were visible but barely recognizable. The fast food places looked oddly beautiful and mysterious; the exclusive clothes shops seemed cheap and hokey. Henry stepped over to the fountain and dipped his fingers under the water, something that during the day he was forbidden to do. He looked down into the water and saw the coins shimmering back up at him. On his lunch break he counted them in sections; one half was tallied and one half remained.
He stepped onto the escalator and adjusted to the strange sensation of it not moving. His body wavered and he laughed, forcing one foot up and then the next, thinking; this is what it must feel like for a spaceman on the moon. The sound his feet made were not heavy and clunky as he imagined but lighter, like a football hitting a post. The sound reverberated across the whole spread of the building and as he reached the top level he was surprised to find he was out of breath. His thirties kept finding ways to keep him on his toes; sometimes it made him feel younger and other times it snapped at him and whispered he was old.
“Hey!” a voice called out from out of nowhere. Henry jolted back in shock and almost pitched back onto the escalator, grabbing the rail at the last moment. If he had had the breath he would have screamed. He looked round and saw a girl staring at him; in her left hand was a pink rucksack, in her right a can of mace.