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

Stories & Essays
...gone tomorrow
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By jp Rodriguez
Barbie and the Burn Scars
_ By Dion OReilly
Bright Lights
_ By Nicole Exposito
Cricket Theory
_ By Sophia Alev
Dieciseis
_ By Kate Delany
Fines Double In Work Zone
_ By Brian Stumbaugh
Guy and Doll
_ By John P. Loonam
Lake
_ By Erlynda Jacqui Chan
Lala's Diner
_ By Nicole Exposito
Laundry
_ By Allison P. Boye
Love Story
_ By Cynthia Burke
Magic Bags and Forgotten Princesses
_ By Ken Goldman
Squirrels
_ By Benjamin Buchholz

Poetry
Baking Bread and Other Subtleties
_ By Leland Jamieson
Corpus Christi
_ By Taylor Collier
Early Cold
_ By Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb
Ekphrasis at the Mall
_ By James Owens
Games In Your Uncle's Den
_ By Robin Stratton
My Spanish Rose
_ By Jose Rivera
Northern Lights, Southern Soul
_ By E.F. Kramer
Posted on Fifth Avenue
_ By J.R. Salling
Sirens
_ By Naiya Wright
Summer Sojourn
_ By Cheryl Butterweck-Bucher
The Himalayan Sunset
_ By Rohith Sundararaman
Time Decays, Clots
_ By Kristine Ong Muslim
Turn
_ By Terrance Schaefer
Where You Rest
_ By Stephanie N. Barnes

Art & Photography
Bissan Alhussein
_ Paintings
E.W. Hung
_ Photography
Papa Osmubal
_ Drawings
Linda Pakkas
_ Drawings
Anastasiya Tarasenko
_ Paintings
Filip Wierzbicki
_ Paintings and Digital Photography
Nancy Xu
_ Paintings and Drawings

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Guy and Doll
By John P. Loonam


Ed Bracebridge’s desires grew from a love of American Musical Theater—the classics of the 40’s and 50’s: Gypsy, South Pacific, Oklahoma! He loved their purposeful naďveté, their optimism, their slick vernacular style, and, of course, their music.

So he sat watching the parking lot of Kennedy High School fill around him. He watched parents and grandparents climb out and hurry each other across the lot and around the corner, towards the front of the building where the double doors were open under the banner that announced the drama club’s production of Frank Loesser’s masterpiece, Guys and Dolls. He waited until the crowd had thinned to almost nothing. He had no reason to hurry.

Ed owned dozens of original cast albums, but repeated listening had rendered them lifeless. He had a few jazz records that included long-winded and self-indulgent re-imaginings of his favorite songs. The occasional full-scale Broadway revivals were exciting, but rare—like museum pieces.

He adjusted the mirror to examine the knot of his necktie—touched its straight edges and returned the mirror to its rear-view position. He stepped out of the car and, one hand pressing the tie against his belly, reached back in for his navy blue sports jacket. It was a warm night in early May, so he could leave his overcoat behind if he buttoned the jacket’s brass buttons and walked quickly around the corner with the thinning crowd of friends and relatives, all talking with excited pride about their future stars.

He had been truly among them only once. His niece, Caroline got to play Lola in her high school production of Damn Yankees, a dozen years ago: Caroline was divorced now, trying to raise her own daughters. Louise had the bright idea that they should go: he did love the musical, and it might be fun. Louise was a highbrow opera lover, and rarely joined him at the theater. She had made him see Matthew Broderick in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying alone. But for her sister’s kid, she would make an exception, and Ed, she felt, should simply lower his standards.

The production had been abysmal, and Caroline had been involved in several of the low points. But sitting in that not-actually-dark theater, watching this almost-woman try to belt out “Whatever Lola Wants” he had felt something that polished professionalism had never given him. As he watched her throw her teenage body into the seduction of the obviously embarrassed boy grinning stiffly down stage, he felt Caroline’s desire was as strong as Lola’s. Caroline probably didn’t know what she wanted, but Ed went backstage to congratulate her certain that he had seen the moment when she realized that she wanted something.

“We’re all very nervous tonight because she was soo flat last night and then flubbed her cue on the reprise.” The woman ahead of Ed was talking to a man in a tweedy jacket and a baseball cap, holding two tickets up high, as if the kids in red bow ties taking tickets might reach over and usher her in faster if her tickets were elevated. Mother of the star, Ed thought. He was disheartened by her review: if Mom thinks the singing is flat, the production had to be pretty bad. He took no encouragement from her hope for a better show tonight—he knew that high school productions rarely improved with practice. Either the kids have it or the audience suffers. He reminded himself he could leave at intermission.

He did become curious, as always, about whose parent this was. “Adelaide’s Lament” was the only song that reprised, and Ed turned to see whether this was the mother of the stripper. Her anxious voice and the waving of the tickets told him nothing. That was generic parent. Her mousy brown hair and the puffing out of her lower cheeks made her appear matronly—the mother of a saint. But Ed knew perfectly well the limits of genetic expression. He had seen frosty-haired, demon soccer moms hugging awkward ingénues often enough to know that time untied enough of DNA’s connections to make any parent-child embrace look like strangers wrestling.

Soon after his epiphany with Caroline—in the steamy dressing room, she allowed her least favorite uncle to kiss her on the cheek while her hair became undone in wisps under his nose—Ed realized that there were dozens of high schools within a short drive of his office. All of them had drama clubs, all of them put on musicals starring awkwardly beautiful almost-women. It had taken a bit of research, but Ed Bracebridge had seen the greatest hits of American Musical Theater every year since: Anything Goes at Long Beach High School, A Chorus Line at Plainedge, The Sound of Music in Massapequa Park.

The lobby was hot and crowded. The Senior Class had organized to sell sodas to offset the cost of the prom, but had not organized to get ice. Ed sipped dank cola from a can and glanced at the crowd—solid middle class in clumps of two or three, mother, father, sibling or grandparent. A talkative clutch of students waited by the door, with a line of older boys against one wall, practicing boredom. Ed noticed the woman from the line—the man in the tweed jacket standing a few feet away as if uncertain whether they were together. The man had a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine and flipped pages absently.

Ed was aware of being alone, and knew he passed as one of the single fathers, knew everyone would simply assume Mom had come last night. He was not actually lonely. Louise had never understood his attraction to these things. She had little enough patience for what she called “legitimate Broadway” and her taste in music ran to Maria Callas and Bach cantatas. In earlier years she would wait up for him and listen patiently to his review. His descriptions of the sets and the young actors, his anecdotes about proud grandmothers and clumsy boyfriends tended to bore her, but some nights she might sing a bit of the romantic ballad—“I’ve Never Been in Love Before” from Guys and Dolls, “I Could’ve Danced All Night” if it was The King and I.

She had a finely fragile soprano, not really a soloist’s voice, but lovely just the same, and sometimes while listening to Joan Sutherland records, or after choir practice at church, she would begin absentmindedly singing as she puttered in the kitchen, breaking into quiet, almost-whispered Italian, barely aware of it herself. Ed would hear it from the other room and stop to listen, breathing in the air that was filled with her voice, afraid to move, to open a door or rustle a newspaper, for fear that the sound of the world would stop her.

(Turn the page)