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Cover
Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Donations
Submission Guidelines
Website

Stories & Essays
Balance
_
By Alison Baumy
Contemporary Cultural Differences...
_ By Ninni Siurua
Eclipsed Yesterdays
_ By Clyde Windjammer
Healthy Guy
_ By David J. LeMaster
Immortalis Letum
_ By Sophie Davis
Last Call For Salvation
_ By Angela P. Markham
My Fault
_ By Ro Thorton
Pacific Northwest
_ By Aaron Hellem
Q-Q Ca Choo
_ By Billy Pilgrim
The Best Laid Plans
_ By John A. Ward
The Ecstasy of Cooking
_ By Sam Nolting
The Girl With the Green Umbrella
_ By J.R. Earlebeck
The Gods of Houston
_ By Rebekah Frumkin

Poetry
Athena's Owl
_ By Amberly Mason
But I Have Never Known This
_ By Kaleen Love
Clouds On Your Floor
_ By Savannah Bobo
Crowded Lobby
_ By M. Blair Spiva
Ever After
_ By Bennie Johnson
Important Questions
_ By P.T. Bell
Migration
_ By Sarah Wassberg
Moon Goddess
_ By Kristina Diane Smith
Oldest Profession
_ By Ashley Polker
On Visiting Hay-on-Wye
_ By M. Blair Spiva
Sodom and Gomorrah
_ By Jessica Fannin
Wal-Mart
_ By P.T. Bell

Art & Photography
Jeremy Harker
_ Paintings
Douglas C. Knight
_ Photography
Jed Knox
_ Paintings and Drawings
May Ann Licudine
_ Paintings
Danny Malboeuf
_ Paintings
Alex Stanbury
_ Photography

Last Call For Salvation
By Angela P. Markham


"All right, people, last call! We all gotta go home sometime, right, so get 'em while the gettin's good." The bartender smiles as he turns to me, "Conrad, I'd offer you one more for the road, but I think you're already about three over your limit."

I light another cigarette. It's the best way I can think of to keep my face from registering that I'd like to knock him senseless. "Mick," I say, "you're going to give me one more for the road or I'll stiff you for the whole tab." Then I smile. It's impossible to smile with a cigarette between your teeth; you always end up looking like a maniac. In this case, that's the point entirely.

"One more then," Mick agrees. "I don't want you single-handedly driving me out of business. But I want your keys first. You're not driving home in the shape you're in. I'll call you a cab. It'll be here by the time you're ready to leave."

Safety Nazi. When in the hell did driving after a few drinks become such an issue? I've been drinking and driving since I got my license and that was, um, let me see; ten, eleven, fifteen… twenty, twenty-one-two, yeah, twenty-two years ago. Twenty-two years and not so much as a fender bender. Pretty good, huh? Not a lot of people out there can say that. But I can, and yet people are worried about my driving. I think it’s ridiculous. I drive better than the health-food-eating, gym-frequenting, never-had-a-drink-in-my-life people I work with. My boss, guy named Ted—another safety Nazi—he's totaled five cars in the past three years. His fault, all of them. Right now, he's driving on a suspended license and no insurance company will touch him. Ted doesn't drive drunk, he doesn't drink at all as far as I can figure. Ted drives stupid. There is an enormous difference between driving drunk and driving stupid. I'd take a freeway full of drunks any day of the week.

Now, before you start bitching and trying to cram your propaganda down my throat, let me tell you one thing: I don't advocate drunk driving. I don't advocate driving at all. Driving in any form, drunk, sober, whatever, is the fastest way to get yourself killed aside from jumping off a building or putting a loaded gun to your head. Nobody seems to realize the raw power behind a two-ton piece of metal that's being propelled at speeds up to and over seventy miles an hour. Not the safest thing we've ever invented. Who in the hell wants something like that flying right at them? Apparently, we all do, and that's why we're dangerous. We're so used to cars and trucks and even motorcycles that we've forgotten how dangerous they really are, even under the best of circumstances. But what was I talking about?

Oh yeah, stupid drivers. Why are stupid drivers more dangerous? I'll sum it up for you in one sentence: Aside from the fact that he—he being the stupid driver—is barely paying attention to the road because he's got the radio turned up so loud he can't hear the cop car trying to pull him over because his blinker's been on for the past thirty miles, he's got a cup of coffee in one hand and a cell phone in the other, so maybe he's driving with his knees, which he probably isn't, because there's a Big Mac in his lap; and of course, he's running late to wherever the hell it is he's going in the first place, so he has to take it out on the jerk in front of him who's only driving ten miles over the speed limit instead of the thirty the guy with the cell phone and the coffee and the Big Mac's used to doing; and since he's so late, he runs every one of the red lights he comes to even if he has to pass three stopped cars to do it, then he nearly rear-ends the jerk in front of him so he can make a left-turn where there's only three inches max between the cars he's trying to merge with, and once he gets in the lane he needs to be in, some other jerk cuts him off so now he's so pissed he rams that guy into a concrete barrier.

You might want to go back and look at that again. It'll make more sense the second time around. That story wasn't sexist, by the way. Women do the same thing, except the coffee's usually substituted for cosmetics and the Big Mac's probably a grilled chicken sandwich. Okay, that's sexist, but I think I've gotten my point across. Us guys coming home from the bar just want to get home and sleep. No rush, no hurry, we don't wanna hurt anybody. The rest of you assholes are out for blood, whether you admit or not. So quit blaming me for all your problems and quit trying to preach to me because I'm sick and tired of hearing it and the only thing you're going to do is convince me I need to have one more before I get in my car to drive home.

"Conrad," Mick says, "Give me your keys." He's already poured my drink and is waiting to hand it over.

"Yeah," I say, "Fine, sure, whatever." I have to fish around in my pockets to find the keys. It really doesn't matter whether he gets them or not, I don't think there's enough gas in my car to make it home. It would probably stall out about half a mile down the road somewhere. I find my keys shoved in a pocket. Typical guy keys: car key that unlocks the doors and starts the engine, different key to the same car that has no known purpose, post office key, building key, apartment key, office key, and about seven others that used to go to important stuff but now have no discernible purpose. I think one of them is a boat key, which is weird, because I don't remember ever owning a boat. I don't think I know anybody that owns a boat, either. The last time I was on a boat I was seven years old. My dad threw me overboard to try to teach me how to swim. I sank like a stone and had to spend the night in the hospital. My parents divorced a few weeks after that one.

If I went to therapy my therapist would say this was a crucial event from my childhood that's had a dramatic impact on how I live my present life. We would need to discuss it. I have enough friends in therapy to know how the system works. I hate people in therapy. They always try to practice it on you. When that doesn't work, they try to get you to go to therapy yourself. It's like they're recruiting you into some secret suicide cult. I was seven years old, I was thrown out of a boat so that I could learn to swim, and I would up nearly drowning. At the time, yeah, it was traumatic, but now it's actually kinda funny. I learned to swim real soon after that, just in case.

(Turn the page)