Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Submission Guidelines

Stories & Essays
'57 Chevy
By Gary Moshimer
A Visit to India From America...
_ By Shubha Venugopal
Calista Flockhart and the MySpace Hoax
_ By Michael Frissore
Recollections and Revelations
_ By Elizabeth Harbaugh
Springtime Visits
_ By Phyllis Link
Stupendous Stew
_ By Malerie Yolen-Cohen
The Genius
_ By Ray Templeton
The Stranger Below
_ By Sam Vargo
_ By Louise Norlie
_ By Dan Devine
Vegetarian Rage
_ By John A. Ward
What Might Pass Between Them
_ By Alexandra Leake

A Glutton For Truth
_ By Richard Fein
A Question of Proper Form
_ By Richard Fein
Boiler Man
_ By Leland Jamieson
_ By Davide Trame
Lioness In Miniature
_ By Grace M. Murray
_ By Pete Lee
Real Life Elocution
_ By Richard Fein
Rewriting An Ending
_ By Rumit Pancholi
_ By Tim Shell
Seven Ways of Looking at a Full Moon
_ By Naiya Wright
_ By Jeanne Hugoe-Matthews
_ By Kristine Ong Muslim
_ By Patrick Frank
The Empty Spaces After You
_ By Rumit Pancholi
_ By Ed Higgins
Uncle Zebulon
_ By J.R. Salling

Art & Photography
Dora Calo
Robert Carter
Noah Erkes
Andrew Patsalou
Filip Wierzbicki


Stupendous Stew
By Malerie Yolen-Cohen

Until Stupendous Stew arrived, nothing notable had happened in the town of Madison since it's founding. Old Timers claim that the original expanse of land was initially set up as a rich man's tax loophole, destined to die the slow death of a tumbleweed tract, funds trickling out like dirt from an upturned cowboy boot.

Madison, population 484, was the kind of place where everyone knew everyone else, knew each other's business, history, quirks, foibles.

Madison was the kind of place where babies, before conscious thought, made the decision to leave as soon as their thumbs worked to hitch. It was the kind of place where young men gazed down sandy undulating roads and wished for better prospects. Where young women spent time at the Hair Corral, discussing escape plans and big city life. In Madison, there was nothing to talk about that hadn't been ruminated and discussed over and over a million times before.

And then Stew showed up.

Stew defied categorization. He looked like a trucker and talked like orator. He was tall and lanky, on the bony side of lean, with a grin that slanted up to the left towards a cauliflower ear. He was just at the point of baldness where a more vain man might consider hair transplant, and his bark-like skin spoke of years spent outside.

Arriving one day on a bus that came through Madison once a week, Stew displayed no overt signs of wealth or having any money at all. He stood on the sidewalk outside Dairy Queen for nearly twenty minutes, hat in hand with that ski-slope grin, then took several deep breaths.

Amy Porter saw him first. She'd later recount that he looked like an angel - his countenance one of serene acceptance. She watched from inside the Dairy Queen, from behind the counter, through picture windows that framed a seedy, weather-beaten row of shop fronts across the street, as Stew stepped off the bus and stood there with that quirky look of amusement. For a while, Stew just gazed at the barren stretch of stores. Then, seemingly satisfied, he walked into the only restaurant around.

"I'd love a Reese's Blizzard, ma'am," he said with his slanted smile. "Need to cool off." Amy noted his mountain green t-shirt and jeans faded and worn at the inner knees - perhaps a rancher or cowboy - his face a craggy topography of time.

"So, what do you do for fun around here?" Stew asked. Amy thought this first question unusual. He didn't inquire about a family or a place to stay, which would have given her some indication of his intentions. Fun was the last thing people in Madison thought about. But Amy, always a sport, played along.

"Weeel, around these here parts," she joked. "We like to drive out to the dunes to watch the prairie dogs diggin'."

Stew snorted a laugh. "Mighty exciting," he said.

Soon enough, Mr. John Bailey, Esq. walked in for his usual cheeseburger and strawberry shake. Bailey, who had lost his wife the year before, came in every day less for the food than for the company. Amy regarded Bailey as she did her old pair of sweat pants: comfortable, plain and never too constraining. They'd known each other since kindergarten and, in this tiny world of limited choices, they were perfect for each other.

"So, who do we have here," Bailey asked Stew. Amy was embarrassed - she had not yet introduced herself or learned this stranger's name.

"Steward Floyd," Stew stuck out his hand, "but my friends call me Stupendous Stew."

"Stupendous Stew?" Bailey asked. "Sounds like an awful long nickname to me."

"Keeps me 'round longer," Stew laughed - a sound, Amy observed, that seemed to come easy to him. "I'm not in the habit of sticking around a place any good amount of time."

"So, whatcha doing in Madison? Seems like an unlikely place to land," Bailey remarked in a tone that bordered on suspicion.

"I've got some business here," Stew said. "As soon as it's done, I'm off." He stared at Bailey with eyes the color of grain.

Stew arranged to stay at Madison's only B&B - a boarding house, really - run by Helen West. A clean room, a hallway bath and bacon, eggs and toast every morning at 7. When Stew got tired of the burgers at Dairy Queen, Helen offered to cook him dinner for an extra $10 a night.

Between Dairy Queen and Helen's place, Stew met the most socially inclined residents of Madison. He picked their brains about what made the place tick, what interested folks here, why those who chose to stayed. Over the next two weeks, Stew became a fixture. His extreme curiosity led to much talk. Was he a shrink trying to set up shop? A reporter sent to uncover some as yet unknown story? Rumors flew.

Then things began to disappear.

(Turn the page)