Oct/Nov 2005

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 Caketopper

Nights spent playing the old hits to adoring well-off fans revitalize him and make him feel younger and more like a sprite. Days spent fitting into white suits from years past and staring at that damn blank notebook have the opposite effect. Tonight, at the Chelsea, with a new suit in process, a presumably sober night in a vibrant city ahead of him, and an unused hotel pen, he sets out to write something impossibly beautiful.

Ali Fahmy

Tear Jerker

The built-in bookcase in her apartment is lined with books telling people not only what they should feel but also how to bear it. Oh, she does have a collection of leather bound classics in a prominent position, but I learned that this is mostly just for show. The Dr. Phil's are all she has time for. I should have exited at full speed the moment I saw the books, but Angela is gorgeous and sweet and I am very fortunate to have her on my arm or across a public table and especially on the bed or couch of her fabulous apartment with a view. And she has the most beautifully expressive face that can play a full scale from tears to delight in seconds.

Gerald Budinski

From the Diary of Ethel Muggs

Then Veronica said, "Makeover time!" They decided to split into pairs, with Midge doing Betty and Veronica doing me, and then we were supposed to switch. I tried to move it around so I got Betty, but Veronica and Midge both insisted that Betty and I were the most in need of makeovers, which I had to admit was true—neither of us has a lot of glamour. But I was afraid of what Veronica would do to me.

Susan O'Doherty

Strange Cabbages

From the rigid pattern of these conferences you knew that at the farm, someone would blare over a megaphone about tillage methods: what worked, what didn't. The vice-chancellor would interrupt with questions for everyone to consider. The farmer and her husband would look defenseless and puzzled before the circle of predatory scientists.

D.A. Taylor

No One Can Swim to the Moon

This was the last year that I'd be up on the raft. The group of us, who'd hung out all through high school, should have been in class, but we cut to come here. No big thing, just a day off. We'd be done school for good in two weeks. A few hours less there—that's all—and a few more hours here. At least that's how we saw it.

Miriam N. Kotzin


The other women shake their heads with greedy curiosity, urging Aunt Delfina to spill the beans, to leave out no detail. Above all, they are dying to hear her caustic critiques and harsh judgments.

Liliana V. Blum, trans. Toshiya A. Kamei

hawk nights at the counter

I lift up my left leg and tuck it under my ass on top of the stool because I need a phone book really. Not because I'm short but because the stools are low. Yeah, that's it. The stools. Are low. As I am. Low. And that's the bad news I'm talking about. I get to missing names I cannot say without the choking sob ball forcing its way up, feeling nearer to them than I do to the livewires doing somersaults to impress. I miss 'em. They're dead. I know. I'm down. I'm going all shipwreck and brown-out.

Eljay Persky


Carefully remove the top of your human's skull. For a while the subject will be able to function as normal; that is, until foreign matter starts to interfere with its neural processes.

Dave Prescott


In an establishment like ours, where three quarters of the staff is female, it is hard to find a day where at least one of us isn't off, begging off, complaining or crying due to our menstrual cycle. The bag boys and the big cheese, Mr. Wiley, are the only source of testosterone in this place. The estrogen is catching and sometimes, as will happen, the entire staff has their periods at the same time.

Robin Evans

Blue Fairy

BLUE FAIRY: Watch who you mistake for a whore, Detective Adams.

Powell Burke

M and Cornelia

Cornelia didn't jockey or plot. She needed time to think and continued to act, as if M were an uncomfortable fact like hail or gnats—pesky, but finally not very important. M began to quiver with rage during their monthly meetings when Cornelia reported her sales triumphs, when she turned his remarks away with polite indifference. His VP said to him, "Anything going on that I don't know about? You're pretty hard on her; we don't want to get into any trouble. Diversity. Diversity. Don't forget." M couldn't think fast enough to really nail her, and so he became even more enraged.

Kathy Karlson