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Catch the Blues

2009 story submission by Bob Ferguson

My windows were down on a balmy August night. I’m ecstatic that my critique group finally liked something that I submitted. I had just left St. John’s Pub and was headed east on Lombard going home to the Couve to tell my wife of four decades, Karla about the groups reaction.

“What was that incredible sound,” I say out loud to no one.

The breaks on my ’97 Camry squeak as I round the block. This time I’m looking for where that sound came from. The music of a mandolin, guitar, harmonica, and bass blend into a heavy beat that rushes out the open front door of the Mock Crest Tavern.

The outdoor blackboard sign reads, “Johnny Ward and the Eagle Riding Pappas.” With a name like that I expected to see a motorcycle gang playing music. The Pappas consist of an old timer wearing a newspaper boy hat, Hawaiian shirt black shorts and sandals. He plays the steel guitar with a harmonica frame around his neck. He sings the male vocals and plays the jug for some of their tunes.

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Dead Air

2009 story submission by “Ignatius and Myrna” (Josh Gross and Carly Nairn)

No matter how many electricians were called in to address the problem, the lights had flickered in the news writer’s pit at CWBC for more than twenty years. People joked that it was the ghost of the former nightly news anchor Reed Bancroft, who was every bit as dedicated to the network in death as he was in life.

“Copy for Bancroft!” they’d shout out ceremoniously when the lights flickered near deadline. A white sheet with eyeholes that was hung on the makeup room wall had been there for so long that it had eventually been framed.

And though none of the trained skeptics that worked in the newsroom actually believed the building was haunted, they kept the folklore alive as a form of reverence for a man who’d practically built the Country-Wide Broadcasting Corporation, winning more Peabody’s than the rest of the network combined. His reporting on the Korean War was a standard part of broadcast journalism curricula at universities across the country, and many claimed that his steady reassurance had helped steer the nation through the turbulence of the sixties. They never spoke of his decline into alcoholism and senility, or his claims that the network and the news in general were under attack from evil spirits and that he and he alone could do anything to stop it, only that he had eventually had died of a heart attack at his desk one night while preparing copy for the evening’s broadcast, a dedicated newsman to the bitter end.
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Kill Your Muse

2009 story submission by “Labruda” (Jon Labrousse)

Tom couldn’t have chosen a less ideal day for the funeral.  It was too hot out, for one, and too late in the day.  To make matters worse, there was a construction crew, a group of short men in orange hard hats, tearing down a building at the end of the alley.  They were making such a racket with all their banging and smashing, that Tom kept fumbling through his eulogy.

“Hey, could you guys—” he’d tried.  “Hey!  Hey!  I’m trying to—”

It was no use.  They couldn’t hear him, and Tom was not one for confrontation.  He’d just have to move on.  This was not how he’d planned to say goodbye.

It was important to keep her close, Tom had decided, so he’d dug the grave in the garden box on the small patio behind his apartment, nothing but an old dresser drawer, really, filled with dirt and dandelions.  The dirt was so hard and compacted that he’d needed to use a knife, as well as a spoon, to dig the grave.  In it, he’d stuffed her remnants: a stack of grocery lists, a few poem fragments, some notes to self…  Nothing finished, nothing important.  Solid proof that she was gone; his muse was dead.

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The Temptation of Sangre de Cristos

2009 story submission by Kim Crow

1.

The monastic retreat in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was meant to un-complicate my life. I booked a room at the hermitage of the Benedictine Brothers of The Five Wounds at the suggestion of my shrink. “Bernard,” he said, “Clear your mind. Get out of here for a few weeks.”  According to the good doctor’s theory, the spiritual nature of the retreat was ideal because I could be around people without actually having to talk.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d been through parochial school and grew up to be only mildly socially inept. Besides, I had spent the better part of four months on the floor of my apartment, depressed and listless. For those who have no firsthand knowledge of this disease—the exchange of even the most minor of pleasantries can become the most major of chores. I’m not proud of those four months, but they are in the past thanks to a heady cocktail of Lexapro, Lithium and underemployment. Depression has been a minor undercurrent in my emotional life since my twelfth birthday when Gina Marggiano wouldn’t show me her tits in exchange for a $50 Government Issue savings bond from Nana. It’s still Gina’s loss, if you ask me.

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The Little Striped House

2009 story submission by “The Flowers” (Irene Chau, Maren Chau, Tiffany Lin, Jennifer Zhang)

Like any other day, Carol Stripe rolled out of bed in the morning to freshen up for her job at the news station. Just as the clock struck five, she headed out the door wearing a crisp new suit, bursting at the seams. Carol was not an average woman; she had a little brain, and a lot of blubber. Stepping out of the threshold, she was greeted by her twig of a mother-in-law who was to take care of her three grandchildren as usual.

“Alright I’m off to work!” Carol said energetically. The grandmother replied silently, nodding with a soft smile on her face, keeping her mouth shut to prevent her long tongue from slithering out of her mouth. She entered the house and headed straight to the kitchen to prepare the children’s morning meal.

Upstairs, Annie encountered a rude awakening by her elder sister, Cerise, who was rubbing her feet.

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