Jul/Aug 2023

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!)

The Ohio Stigmata of 2009
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

It wasn't true we were friends or colleagues. Rey and Ammon were in the same film program, but they never hung out. They'd only teamed up because their capstone project was required to be collaborative. I was an Econ student who had no interest in filmmaking at all. I'd only tagged along because I was, for the time being, Rey's girlfriend. I'd come to help him one last time before we graduated, and then I planned to release him into the world where he would become someone else's problem.

M.C. Schmidt


For months refugees had spilled into us, coming over the Manor River Bridge. They had told stories of child soldiers, whose voices had not yet declared puberty, who would make grown men kneel and watch grown men urinate on themselves and shoot grown men directly in the face, standing close enough that blood splattered onto cheeks still chubby with youth.

Iyesatta Massaquoi Emeli

The Man from Lake Diablo

In Room 638 of the tower, the man from Lake Diablo killed himself. No one knew his name. His register entry was evidently false, as he had written the name of the president for his own. Later it was recalled by the staff how this man had stood on the casino floor and made a speech about the war going on at the time. The casino, after hearing him out for a few minutes, had discouraged him from continuing, although the war was a popular one and the general theme of the speech—every man would do his duty—was also very much in line with popular belief. In any case, this did not help identify him. Eventually there was nothing to do but, as behooved a civilized community with an unknown body on its hands, to bury him in the local cemetery.

Laura Canon


I watched Carol apply her lipstick in the near darkness. There was something pleasantly domestic about it. She was still beautiful. I think that that was part of the reason I'd pushed our relationship beyond friendship in college. The idea of having a girlfriend that beautiful completely overruled my ambivalent sexuality at the time.

Dan Lawrence

Shell Crackers

By the time I swiveled my chair back around, my cubemate had arrived. He was leaning over his desk, filling in the bubbles on a Lotto slip. He had honey brown skin and eyes like Hattie McDaniel. His fraying shirt cuffs were unbuttoned. His tie hung loosely around the open neck of his shirt. During the few moments he'd been here, our space was already starting to smell—had he eaten ham hocks for breakfast? His name was Octavius Odum. I nicknamed him Double-O Soul.

Kris Broughton

Clocks Out of Sync

My dinner that night was chicken wings and a Bloody Mary, well actually two, at the Blaise Pascal bar, on Shattuck in Berkeley. The clientele was mostly male, with a scattering of women, one of whom was a long-haired Filipina wearing John Lennon glasses and tight khakis, who struck me as being within reach of my dating market value, but this was not the night. The thing about jarring coincidences—perhaps I should not have bad-mouthed Jung—is they put one in a state of expecting more.

Dennis Kaplan

Dear Pond Scum

Call it a parent's intuition, but when there is something amiss with your, child you feel it. You just know, and to be sure, smoking is just not right. This required research, facts culled from voluminous studies. The baby needed facts if ever I was to reason with her. As with all brilliant minds, there exist elements of self destruction. History and literature abound with examples. Genius, despite its rewards, can poses a kind of inelegance.

Steve Vermillion

The Burden of Memory

Cautiously, he lowered his hand from his forehead and allowed the 11:00 AM sun to strike him. His face assumed the same wide-mouth grimace as before. Only, this time it was not just a matter of muscles contracting a certain way but of seeming to feel how she actually felt, she who was so open to everyone and everything, expecting and receiving nothing but good will in return, even from the sun.

Thomas J. Hubschman