Jan/Feb 2013

e c l e c t i c a
f i c t i o n


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)


Our last letters to Aunt Monir had returned to us, but we are optimistic that someone in her neighborhood will lead us to her new address. With the help of a map, we enter Vali Asr Avenue that will connect, after 12 blocks, to Monir's old address. Cars are honking, passing each other dangerously. Exhaust fumes fill the air. The smell of diesel oil mixes with that of fried onions and herbs. In one spot people have gathered around a young, bearded man in a black shirt, holding a microphone and lecturing, "Respect your elders, listen to your mullahs, avoid superpowers' propaganda, leading you astray... women who do not observe the hejab will burn in the fires of hell!"

Nahid Rachlin

Death, Disorder, Demura

Uno had voted for not renewing Mr. Hearne's contract against his better judgment. Mr. Hearne was not a bad teacher. True, he was somewhat disorganized at first, but that was natural, and his students apparently liked him because of his jokes and stories. It was rather unfortunate, Uno thought, that Mr. Hearne was generally unkempt. His shaggy, long blond hair, bushy beard and the faded blue jeans—too tight for his big belly—did embarrass the university. But foreigners' habits were different and should be respected, Uno tried to say at the English department meeting (closed to Ms. Morton as well as Mr. Hearne).

Alex Shishin

All Good Things Happen in Yankee

This marriage talk had started about four years ago when his older brother had had his first child. By the second year when his brother had twins, the talk increased in intensity. In the third year when his brother's wife became pregnant again, his mother expanded her demands to include children. Each time, he promised to do her will and find a mate. But when his brother's wife was once again with child, Ladoju's mother began picking out specific women for him.

Victor Alao

The Last Highway

"That's not the point. If I'm going to die, will it be nicer if the flowers are in bloom? Or not? I don't know. In other words, I want to see the flowers in bloom before I go, but I don't really want to go."

Jonathan Sapers

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

The slender man he had encountered at the entrance slipped out from a stall and joined Corbin at the mirror. He beckoned Corbin closer as if to share a secret. Instead, he told Corbin his room number and stroked his chest. The man left, and Corbin hesitated to follow; the man was too bold, too brazen, too much like Alvy. Corbin tried to calm himself with a trick from rehab. He mouthed "I love you" into the mirror.

Thomas Kearnes

Exciting Times, Jim

Attendant to this ritual, I nearly overlooked a young lady giving me the eye. I must say, Jim, although you haven't yet become enamored of these creatures, this lass was nothing short of sunny. Her sweater was a wonderful foreign affair with a gay, red collar buttoned tight to her neck, and her hair was long, black silk tied up in a peach bow. She had me in a dead stare.

g c cunningham


She tells me to say crap instead of shit, like it makes a damn difference which word is which. She doesn't like my gambling on football, either. And lucky she doesn't know about the bridge climbing, or I couldn't even get into a Parcheesi game with her if I wanted to, much less marry her.

Lou Gaglia

A Period Said as a Question Mark

Before the salesman fell silent, Dad took hold of my forearm, and with the slight quivering that bewitches his person at times of delight or distress, escorted me from the ski shop. The lecture in his parked GMC Suburban brought a few things to light. The worth of our primary residence should not be public knowledge. As I should know by now, talk of money is not allowed in public places, especially not in the ski shop, where new gear should be presented in a setting free of class distinctions.

Benjamin Henry DeVries

Mock Epic

Sometimes I believe my life can be big—epic even—with heroes and battles, all the conventions. I suppose making out with a student falls low in the spectrum of glamorous themes. Perhaps I've finally done it: fallen completely in love with my work. Yuck. My mother used to say that a woman who sleeps next to books instead of men can only wake up to papercuts.

Christine Hoffmann