Just Like Me
by Adelaide Faith
We cross the road. To make up for the way my desirability has been decreasing over time, I’ve been trying to act like a smoker, though I haven’t smoked for years. I’ve started leaning against shop windows, leaving cafes to stand in a corner, out of the wind, out of the way of the pedestrian flow. I’ve been conjuring up these pictures I used to have on my wall, of Winona Ryder driving a taxi, smoking. I picture them, then I say to myself: just like me.
by Douglas Light
“Fun isn’t the right word,” the gravestone mason says, “but we can be creative.” He shows me a monument shaped like Disney cartoon character.
“You can do that?” I ask, running my fingers over the granite. Its cold smoothness reminds me of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and the job that went sour. They still haven’t found the body.
“With computers,” he says, “I can pretty much carve a slab into anything. Once, I had a request—”
by Michael Juliani
The year I turned twenty, I shared a cramped off-campus apartment with three strangers on Jefferson Boulevard. L.A. experienced what was, at that time, its hottest recorded temperature: 118 degrees. Classes were cancelled. I tried smoking a cigarette on our balcony and nearly passed out. After graduation, I moved to New York, seeing snowfall for the first time at 23. On a pitch-black January night, a few of us snuck into the computer lab in Dodge Hall to drink and listen to music, and when we left after midnight a blizzard had encroached without warning. We threw plastic bottles of whiskey at each other, losing them in the snow. In New York, I felt temperatures hovering near zero. I woke up in a village called Rensselaerville, a family of deer prodding in the white yard, and felt the northeastern tranquility that I had only ever inferred from the work of poets in the Norton Anthology.
NJ Tpke Haiku (An Excerpt from FLOP CITY)
by Crockett Doob
I got a call from Cora. Summer of 2017. She, let’s see–no. Sorry. In 2016, I’d said no to working on her brother’s next movie. I chose to stay in gray, cold New York City and not go to the Caribbean. One of my bosses in advertising, when I told her, was like, “Why not?” But Cora definitely did go, and she came back so stressed, she had a brain aneurysm. That was when she called me.
Passivity, or Dustin Müller
by Cody Lee
The first time I met Dustin, I was in the recording studio at school, going over a song I wrote. It was your basic anti-establishment mumbo jumbo: “Die Whitey, die! You don’t run the world, I do!” I thought it was good at the time.
My bandmate, who also happened to be my roommate, Daisy, came in with this guy… and the most frustrating thing about it is that I remember thinking he was handsome. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Undeniably suburban. I wasn’t attracted to him sexually; I’m gay, but I liked his style—or more accurately, lack thereof.
by Michael Newton
I carry an armful of expensive glassware back to my hotel room after a long day out scouting. Antiques wrested from the hands of the desperate and the needy and the old. It was a good day. If I was a fisherman my nets would have come up full. I lay each thing out in a row on the bed. Then begin processing them for shipment. Bubblewrap and tape. By the time I’m done they’re all in a box which weighs thirty pounds. I lug it down to the Fedex Drop in the lobby.
An Evening With Captain Hugo Brabant (Or Why I Don’t Have Any Photographs For This Story)
by Joseph Helmreich
Editor’s note: With the modern Disneyfication of New York City, downtown’s legendary alternative puppetry scene, which dominated so much of our coverage during that decade, can sometimes feel like a distant memory. In this issue, we revisit a story by the late Jules Van Orman, whose 1976 story about the elusive ventriloquist Captain Hugo Brabant, remains a classic document of the era.
by Camille A. Collins
Manfred took the path that crossed in front of the National Museum, flipping up his collar to cover his ears. It wasn’t that cold. He was a Chicagoan, he knew cold. It was just that in haste he’d forgotten his cap and now a draft crept up his back that made him shiver.
He spat a taut syllable of laughter, remembering Charlene the night before. Fifty-five years old and intoxicatingly beautiful; pathos and misery marking her face, evidence of her lust for sweets, liquor and fries resting on her hips―she was worn, berated by life, yet still comely.