__

<< PREVIOUS

NEXT >>


__

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

Stories & Essays
Copy Machine Repair Guy
_
By D.E. Fredd
Corrupted Youth
_ By Kurt Kirchmeier
Dragon's Breath
_ By Lionel Cheng
Even the Damned Deserve to Love
_ By Anna Cortez
Gifts
_ By Jocelyn Johnson
House of Cards
_ By Steven J. Dines
In Doubt
_ By Stephanie Thoma
Lipstick
_ By Michelle Baron
Old Biddy
_ By Claire Nixon
Quinceańera
_ By Hester Young
The Fiddler and the Faerie
_ By Samantha Rae
When Barky Smiles
_ By S.E. Diamond

Poetry
2 A.M. Window Shopping
_ By Chris McGuffin
Alison
_ By Harriet O. Leach
Cloudy New Year's Morning
_ By Richard Fein
Not Easy
_ By Samantha Ogust
On Hearing Li-Young Lee Read His Poetry
_ By Foster Dickson
Prelude and Coda
_ By Richard Fein
Rainy Night Meditation
_ By Harriet O. Leach
Retreat
_ By Richard MacAleese
Silage Team--Machete Thirst
_ By Leland Jamieson
Starlight
_ By Richard MacAleese
Stolen Phone
_ By Jorge Jameson
The Abandoned Playground
_ By Richard MacAleese
Thought Provoking Baked Crescent
_ By Chris McGuffin

Art & Photography
Daniel Bravo
_ Paintings
Tove Hedengren
_ Photography
Peter Huettenrauch
_ Photography
E. Hunting
_ Drawings and Digital Art
Robin McQuay
_ Drawings
Iris Onica
_ Paintings
Pete Revonkorpi
_ Digital Art
Roy Wangsa
_ Photography

_

When Barky Smiles
By S.E. Diamond


Mom undoes my seat belt and points me out of the car. My butt slides off the seat, over the tire. It’s a bit of a fall from the front seat of her Ford Astro Star. The door closes. She drives off fast, never even turning off the engine in the first place. The moon is half full, and I’m glad I have my scratchy wool sweater. There’s half a McDonald’s cheeseburger in my left hand. My right hand has a Band-aid patterned with little pigs with roses in their mouths.

This is a busy street during the day, but at ten at night it’s deserted. I’m on the corner of a small strip center. Lee’s nails, Smiley’s Donuts, Shoes Bag Jeans, Pam’s Tans. On the way down here, Mom went on, muttering to herself, that there’s a park a few blocks ahead, I should go there, she’ll be back for me in a few hours, well if only I had a girlfriend’s house to sleep at, but the exterminator is coming for the Germans and Orientals and no children can be in the house. The fumes are harmless for men and post-menopausal women, but not for eleven year olds, I’m still growing. Besides, she says, the freedom her mother gave her as a child got her ready to be sixteen and oh what a year that was.

The red glare of her brake lights shine away from my eyes. I don’t move my feet from the ground. I leave them exactly how they landed out of the car, except for a few steps for balancing. I’m standing; my legs are about a foot apart, glued to the ground. I’m a statue. The cheeseburger goes into my mouth, and I wipe my hands on my purple knee length shorts. The yellow wrapper slides easily into a crumbled ball. But I don’t want to litter.

Left over construction materials line the sidewalk. They’re re-paving the street, so the pavement is clumps of black rocks. It’s the kind of road that shakes the car, if you were in a car driving over it. If you were walking or biking and fell on it, you’d bleed. You’d have a scrape of blood, with dirt and rocks ground into the wound. It’d leave a scar. I could just stand here; Mom will probably pass by here in a few minutes. She always gets lost and ends up driving around in circles, screaming with the windows rolled up. I could just jump on her hood like last time, but that hurt my knee.

Sounds come from a group of trashcans across the street. Three streetlights are out. I have to really squint my eyes to make out the yellow lane markers. The garbage cans are in front of a retirement home lawn with a neon sign that says Polynesian Park. One of the garbage lids is flung back, and it’s shaking. Rats.

I walk across the street and see a dirty brown terrier mutt sleeping next to the blue recyclables can. His little stomach slowly moves up and down. He’s not dead, but his little ear has a scab. I never knew dogs got scabs. I nudge his paw with my purple Reebok sneaker.

“Get up, baby, hi little baby, do you like garbage.” My arms are longer than his, and I reach for the Subway wrapper in the black garbage can. Luckily, lying on top of newspapers is half a whole-wheat roast beef sandwich.

The dog jumps to his feet, barking orgasmically. A boy at school told me about orgasms, it’s when you fuck really hard and you start shaking and hallucinate that you’re riding a motorcycle on the freeway.

The dog whimpers in a high-pitched voice, and licks the hairs on my legs. His tongue feels smooth and fleshy like a vagina lip. “Here you go.”

He inhales my offerings and a few shreds of wilted lettuce pop out of his mouth. His small jaw makes a clapping noise as he swallows the offering in one bite.

I name him Barky. He gets up from his sleep and stays with me. We head towards the moon, walking next to each other. I never walked with a dog without a leash before. My grandpa had an angry cocker spaniel that’d chase me around his empty pool nipping at my hands and legs. He’d make me walk it with a chain leash down to Seven Eleven to buy Windex. I hate cocker spaniels. The dog died a month after him, and my grandmother had to drop the dog off at the disposal center wrapped in grandpa’s towel. Now she lives all alone, smoking cigarettes and playing bridge on Thursdays.

“Barky have you ever had a leash before?” He smiles at me. Dogs can smile; their jaw just has to extend a few centimeters wider than usual. I look at Barky and he looks at me. I scratch behind his ears and we smile at each other, walking past noiseless trashcans towards the park. I open every black trashcan for food. Every Dorrito, every brown apple, every hotdog bun I offer Barky makes him smile and like me a little more. I find half a dozen eggs, slightly cracked, in a bent carton. Barky doesn’t eat them. My Band-aid is gross and brown. I let it slip off my fingernail, sliding away with my sweat.

(Turn the page)