Short stories

Fifty Gorillas  

There were fifty Gorillas in the jungle and we had to catch them.

             The Gorillas killed little boys and little girls and women and men and old men and old women. When the Gorillas needed food the Gorillas killed horses and goats and dogs. The Gorillas were always hungry and always killing.  

            There were three thousands of us to catch the fifty Gorillas.

We received special training because the fifty Gorillas were very dangerous. We were trained how to use guns and how to throw grenades and how to set traps and how to sleep and how to eat and how to read the jungle. The jungle was a very dangerous place, just as dangerous as the fifty Gorillas.  We trained on how to disappear in the jungle, how to turn into a tree, a snake, an ape, a tiger. We trained on how to build a hut, a fire, a bath to wash in, how to jump from tree to tree. We trained in jeeps and trucks and we trained how to jump out of helicopters. Some were trained to speak and think Gorilla. Some were trained on how to track Gorilla. Some were trained on how to fix the violence and how to save lives, the Gorillas were very violent. Some were trained on how to speak out against the Gorillas. We were trained on how to catch the fifty Gorillas.   

Jetplanes and helicopters flew over the jungle looking for the Gorillas. The Jetplanes dropped bombs and the helicopters sprayed bullets into the jungle.     

We have to go into the jungle, said the General.

The three thousand were split into three groups. One group would come for the left, one group would come from the right, and one group would come down the middle. It was decided that the Gorillas would be pushed into the mountains. Some Gorillas prefer the mountains, but the Gorillas we were hunting preferred the jungle, they were jungle Gorillas, not mountain Gorillas.

They tell you about the claustrophobia but they never tell you about the fear that the world has been turned upside down. You stop but the jungle keeps moving. You look up but really you are looking down. There is no death in the jungle only renewal. You fall down you pick yourself up.

We set up camp.

            The botfly plants its eggs on a mosquito and the mosquito gives you the eggs and the eggs hatch and the next thing you know you have maggots under the skin eating their way out, said the Priest.

Some burrow the other way, said my brother, smiling and exhaling smoke through his nostrils.

Infection and death, said the Priest.

Tell them about espundia, said my brother.  

I once knew a man that caught espundia, said the Priest. The parasite had been passed on by the sandfly. He turned to pulp and worms.  He was searching for the Rafflesia flower.

             We broke up camp.

            Days turned into weeks and there was no sign of the Gorillas.

Even in sleep we could not escape the jungle, it influenced, swayed, orchestrated. Its vines and fronds grew out of the heart.

Gorilla one: The Gorilla was crouching on the river bank. The Gorilla’s trousers were down around his ankles. The Gorilla looked as though he was suffering constipation. Between strains, the Gorilla splashed his arse with water. Fearful, somebody threw a grenade. Within the cloud appeared butterflies.

            Gorilla two: The Gorilla ran out of the jungle with his gun pointed at us. He was shot and then shot again. He dropped into the river, dead.

            Gorilla three: The Gorilla had a machine gun and the Gorilla sprayed the jungle with bullets but the bullets went over our heads and a single shot to the head killed the Gorilla.

            Gorilla four: The Gorilla hid behind a tree but the machine gun cut down the tree and cut the Gorilla in two.

            Gorilla five: We caught the Gorilla and the Captain asked the Gorilla a few questions and the Gorilla lied and so the Captain shot the Gorilla in the back of the head and we carried the all the dead Gorillas to the river and threw them into the river and the river carried the dead Gorillas away to the sea.

            A lobster in a tank, in the corner of a famous restaurant, sees a finger pointing at it and so it stands up and says to the other lobsters in the tank, why me, and the other lobsters in the tank say, why not you, what makes you special, said the Captain.

            The fight went on all day and all night. The Gorillas were very brave. The Gorillas killed a lot.

            Gorilla six: See Gorilla ten.

            Gorilla seven: See Gorilla ten.

            Gorilla eight: See Gorilla ten.

            Gorilla nine: See Gorilla ten.

            Gorilla ten: We caught the Gorilla. We tied the Gorilla’s arms and legs and we stood the Gorilla on a box, under a tall tree, and we placed a noose around the Gorilla’s neck and then we kicked the box from under the Gorilla’s feet. The Gorilla was struggling and so we pulled on the Gorilla’s leg until he stopped struggling.

You enter the interior. The rhizomes grow with alacrity. Through the boughs, leaves, vines you see blue sky, nothing more than specks, but still it is blue sky. At the nadir, you say, softly, blue sky come with me. Death is a slow affair, painful, very slow. You keep going round and round. You stop but the ground beneath you carries you like the butterfly on a train of ants. Round and round. They tell you about the claustrophobia but they never tell you about the fear that the world has been turned upside down. You stop but the jungle keeps moving. You look up but really you are looking down. There is no death in the jungle only renewal.

            Gorilla eleven: Afterwards, we found out that this Gorilla was female. The female Gorilla was very brave and very dangerous. The female Gorilla killed a lot. When the female Gorilla ran out of bullets she pulled out a machete and the female Gorilla changed with the machete held heavenward. They took the machete away from the female Gorilla and cut the female Gorilla down into little pieces.

            Gorilla twelve: It is surprising how much blood there is inside a Gorilla. We watched the Gorilla bleed to death.

            Gorilla thirteen: This Gorilla was unlucky. The Gorilla was hiding up a tree. We were leaving the area. A loud thud made us turn. The Gorilla fell out of the tree and broke its neck. 

            We came upon the neck bone and full head of a giraffe. The Gorillas had killed the giraffe and cooked the giraffe and consumed the giraffe. Some cried. The General cried the most. We were ordered to make camp and drink. We found palm-trees and tapped the palm-trees and then we drank one hundred and fifty kegs of palm-wine.

            Gorilla fourteen: My brother showed me a trick. My brother put the head of the Gorilla in a bag of lime. The Gorilla inhaled and exhaled. The Gorilla inhaled. The lime had turned to cement in the Gorilla’s throat.

            Gorilla Fifteen: The Gorilla was beheaded.

            Gorilla Sixteen: Beaten to death.

            The spider bit the boy and the boy asked why the spider had bit him and the spider looked at the boy and said because I am a spider and so the boy took off his shoe and crushed the spider and the boy’s father asked the boy why he had killed the spider and the boy said because father one day I will grow up to be a Gorilla, said my brother.

            Gorilla Seventeen: Used for target practice. My brother lost a week’s wage.

            The fighting spread. The Gorillas were fighting hard and pushing all three columns back.  The Gorillas killed a lot. There were bodies scattered everywhere. A lot of our friends were butchered.

            Gorilla eighteen: See Gorilla twenty.

            Gorilla nineteen: See Gorilla twenty.

            Gorilla twenty: Some engineers decided to make a machine.  They cut down trees and sawed through the wood. They hammered nails into the wood. They constructed a chamber. They pushed the Gorilla through the chamber. My brother pointed to the handle and I started to turn the handle. I could hear the razors, the knives, the hammers, the saws, the machetes, the scythes working; I could hear the hacking, sawing, cutting, slicing, curving.

            You need to go faster, said one of the engineers. 

            I worked myself into a glistening sweat. The Gorilla started to appear. Little pieces of the Gorilla fell off the conveyor belt. From the slits on both sides of the machine, matted hair and crushed bone and pulped muscle and intestines and brain in thick liquid oozed out. We fed the cubes of Gorilla to the horses and the dogs.

            Gorilla twenty-one: Scalped McCarthy style.  

            Gorilla twenty-two: We found a Rafflesia flower in an opening. It was soft, spongy. The air around the flower was rancid. I saw a ring on a wedding finger. The vexed flies bit us and sucked upon us.

            Gorilla Twenty-three: The Gorilla had a fever. The sick Gorilla had been left behind by the other Gorillas. The doctor took a look at the Gorilla. The doctor shook his head and gave his half-smoked cigarette to the sick Gorilla. After a few pulls on the cigarette the Gorilla was shot in the back of the head.

            Gorilla twenty-four: Stabbed with a thousand knives.

            Gorilla twenty-five: The Priest talked the Gorilla to death.

            Gorilla twenty-six: It was three two and in the sixty third minute and the referee had awarded a freekick on the edge of the box and the wall was forming and the goalkeeper was orchestrating and the freekick taker was eying the goal when the head fell apart. 

            Gorilla twenty-seven: The Gorilla was starving, on the verge of death. A skeletal head, which could hardly move, was resting on a small rock that jutted out of the vegetation. The Gorilla breathed unevenly and was febrile and confused. We didn’t know what to do with him, somebody wanted to shoot him, somebody wanted to string him up, somebody wanted to stab him, slit his throat, garrote him, but we just stood around him. My brother stooped to one knee and poured water into his mouth. We decided that the Gorilla was in need of a prandial orgy. We found a lot of food. We stuffed the food down the Gorilla’s throat. The belly expanded and still we stuffed the Gorilla. All kinds of food were pounded into the Gorilla’s mouth. The Gorilla swelled. The Gorilla produced funny noises. The Gorilla exploded.

            Gorilla twenty-eight: The Gorilla was shot in the back.

Gorilla twenty-nine: The Gorilla was shot in the back.

            Rocks jutting from the vegetation appeared more frequently. We were moving closer to the mountains. For five days and nights we had chased the Gorillas. The air was thick with Gorilla smell and we could hear the Gorillas. They cursed us and damned us and threatened us. Finally, exhausted, the Gorillas took a stand. They bunkered down between jutting rocks. Tall rocks, cavernous. We took cover in the thinning trees.  For three days and nights we exchanged gunfire and grenades. We did not kill one Gorilla. The Gorillas killed a lot. If it had not been for the Priest many within our ranks would have deserted. The Gorillas roared and most within our ranks shit themselves with pusillanimity.

            Collect the dead, said the General. We need to do something.

We are losing, said my brother.

Do you prey? asked the Priest.

            Words are spores. Sentences are rotten tubers. You are nothing more than an anthropomorphic parrot, said my brother.

            You sound like a Gorilla to me, said the Priest.

            My brother tapped me on the shoulder with his machine gun. I turned.

            God was once very small, said my brother. The monk that traveled with the Conquistadors was frightened of losing God because God was so small so he housed God between the pages of a book. It was a small book. The monk was able to carry God in the small book and stuff the small book into the pocket of his robe. God must have been so small because only the monk could hear the words spoken by God and the monk had to repeat the words so everybody could hear what God had said. The monk was very careful with the book and he allowed nobody to touch the book. No matter how dangerous it was the people could not help themselves, they had to be near God. They traveled great distances to be near God and to hear the monk relate God’s words. One day somebody touched the book and the monk got very angry and he ordered the Conquistadors to butcher all of the people.

            My brother was shot between the eyes and he fell down dead.

            Gorilla thirty: said the priest.

            A jetplane flew overhead, bending the trees, the sound reverberating in the rocks.

            Gorilla thirty-one: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-two: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-three: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-four: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-five: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-six: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-seven: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-eight: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla thirty-nine: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla forty: See Gorilla forty-one.

            Gorilla forty-one: The jetplane dropped a huge bomb. The explosion removed eyebrows and hair from arms and legs and gave many permanent perms. We found legs and arms and heads in the trees. The rocks were no more.

            The mountains were serrated, snowcapped, hazy in a soft pellucid blue. The Gorillas tried to climb the mountains. We caught the last of the Gorillas on a ledge. They were starving and dehydrated and febrile and confused. The wind careened and howled and snow fell. 

Gorilla forty-two:  The Gorilla had a terrible tooth infection. After the pulling of the tooth, the Gorilla bled to death.

Gorilla forty-three: A trepanning. The evil spirit was successfully removed. The Gorilla bled to death

            Gorilla forty-four: Strappado Villon style.

            Gorilla forty-five:  Leeches were applied to certain parts of the Gorilla’s body. The lechers grew to the size of cabbages. The Gorilla was left a skeleton.

            Gorilla forty-six: The Priest called it Cauterisation. Hot pokers were inserted into all the holes of the Gorilla.

            Gorilla forty-seven: The Gorilla was secured inside the belly of the Brazen Bull and the wood we had collected was lit and the flames licked the Bull’s sagging belly and the screams from inside the belly of the Bull escaped through the smoking nostrils.

            Gorilla forty-eight: The Gorilla got to experience the delights of Iron Maiden.

            Gorilla forty-nine: The Guillotine.

            Gorilla fifty: The Gorilla confessed to being the leader of the Gorillas and so we crucified the Gorilla.

            Well done my boys, said the General. You can all go back home now.

Stanley Cuchillo

Short stories


The rope was slung over Alan’s shoulder. We thought the rope was connected to Alan’s coat. When Alan and his wife left, we talked about the rope. There was a lot of confusion.  Those still believing in the jacket theory mocked Alan for his silliness. What an outré coat! The mocking transitioned to Alan’s bald spot, the fact that he ran two miles every night after work and still possessed a pot belly, that he could not hold his liquor, that he was the first to leave a party. The joking and the mirth turned onto Alan’s wife, Jenny. How could Jenny allow Alan to carry around that old piece of smelly rope? It was all too much!

Alan was very pleased with himself, chewing absentmindedly on a twine that was loose. The rope was still slung over the shoulder. It could have been a child chewing on a fingernail or a child blowing a spit bubble or a child picking its nose. This chewing of the loose twine produced many varying grimaces and nods and shrugs but after a while these manifestations dissipated and boredom set in. Alan had used his rope for the benefit of a neighbor. Her car had broken down. Alan attached the rope to the car and then his own car and pulled the woman to the nearest garage. After he had finished telling us all about the endeavor, he had gone into each infinitesimal detail, he had even chastised the woman for not using her indicators rightly, and finally he had refused payment for his help, he stopped chewing on the loose twine and held up the rope as though the rope was a champion or a winner of something.

We did not want to discuss the rope, but it could not be helped. Alan had finally achieved something worth talking about. Alan and Jenny had been house hunting in the country. They were planning to buy a farm. They had gone up to the farm to inspect it, Terry and June had gone along for the ride, they were not close to Alan and Jenny, but they could never say no to a day out away from the city. The party of four had stopped off at a neighboring farm to buy strawberries. While they were gorging themselves on strawberries, they heard a commotion. A little boy had fallen down a disused well. Alan used his rope and saved the little boy.

Alan and Jenny decided not to buy the farm; they instead bought a bigger house closer to downtown. For weeks, the talk was all about the rope and the little boy. Everybody wanted to feel the rope. It was no longer an incongruity, no longer superfluous, or ostentatious. The questions of why Alan had a piece of rope slung over his shoulder no longer rose to the surface. The perplexity was burnt away. With this new understanding, the jokes were no longer funny concerning Alan and Jenny. Allan’s bad teeth were ignored, and Jenny’s prognathous chin was no longer so prominent.

Sleep evaded me. I tossed and turned. After my husband’s complaining, I left the bed and the bedroom. I poured myself a glass of milk and opened a book but reading about a man hungry and wandering the streets aimlessly exacerbated the feeling of restlessness that had stirred sleep away. I opened the newspaper randomly and started to read. I took the newspaper into the kitchen. I found scissors and cut out Alan’s obituary. With a magnet, I placed it on the fridge door.

Annette Doorly

Short stories

I refute the accusation

this is a dream I think stepping on the bus leaving behind the city fug and futility and I could cry being so fatigued being so I fumble for my bus fare – count a few coins and flick through a few notes – on the bus, which I believe will take me home, I say “one way” and hand the bus driver a crisp note and coins slip through my trembling – I am so sleepy! – fingers and I count the coins on the ground and decide they are not worth the effort to drop to one knee Knight-style and collect so I take my ticket and as the bus rolls forward I tiptoe the aisle circumnavigating cursive limbs limp with lethargy and on an empty seat flop down exhausted and sleepy. Caught between not Tweedledum and Tweedle-dee or Charybdis and Scylla but Hypnagogia and Hypnopompia or maybe the thumb and the forefinger like a flea but not left and right inner thigh – just my luck! – I compose myself. I am slowly ossifying with the bus seat the hard graffiti’d seat osmosis with the bus seat “You dropped some money” says a blur above me behind me looming over me and I remove the work satchel from my body and place it next to me “nice bag man” says the blur but my head is too heavy heave I huff and my eyes refuse to corporate “it’s a satchel” I want to cry cry into my soft pillow where I am hermetically sealed and the air within is as dry as the Sahara and where it is Mediterranean hot and huuuuuumms with liquid undulations of amnionic beauty and I drown in penises and vaginas and as these mellifluous thoughts coalesce with numerous thighs I have known over the years or wish I had known I open the satchel and take out the case that protects the headphones and find my telephone and search for music that I know will carry me safely home within this chimera but before I am able to open the case I realize by the buildings outside moving faster in the opposite direction that I am on the wrong side of uptown or downtown – I can’t remember! – on the wrong bus and heading in the wrong direction.

“Stop the bus” and I grab the telephone and the satchel and I run to the head (head? (Hydra?)) of the bus shouting “please stop the bus” and the blur behind me says “he needs to get off.”

A huge sigh of relief reverberates and I drop the telephone into the satchel and throw the satchel over my shoulder and the rain/sleet/snow amalgamates and tortures my – naked?!?! – body. Shivering and guilty I button and turn up the collars of my jacket. A spark mushrooms.

I left my headphones on the bus on the seat between Hansel and Gretel between Abelard and Heloise between Bonnie and Clyde. I leg it (English Slang?) after the bus slipping in-between the trains of traffic.

I catch the bus at a traffic light – red! – always RED! – and pound on the bus door and the bus driver a dour man looks puzzled but recognizes me  yes I am that man the poor devil plagued by fatigue and lack of sleep and suffering through having to work twelve hours a day and I have not slept in nights which I do not blame myself for but the world we have created for the benefit of some a small some and the rest of us slave for what –


I am ranting! I need to sleep.

So yes, I am going to chase down a bus and cause pandemonium and abuse a bus door and demand that the bus door opens, which they do.

“I am so sorry” I say “but I’ve left my headphones on the bus and they are expensive” “it’s him” says a rough hirsute man sitting elevated on the seat behind the one I left my headphones “hurry up” says the bus driver and so I run up the aisle brushing aside legs sprawled limp with lethargy “come on” says an old lady with a corrugated face “I have an hour’s journey on this bus and you have stopped it twice already” and before I am able to apologize I see that my headphones are missing “where are my headphones” I say to the rough hirsute man sitting elevated on the seat behind the one I left my headphones on and he says in response “why are you bothering me I don’t know you” and I say “I know you you have them you are a thief” “I haven’t got your headphones and now he wants to fight me” and though I am irate I am not pugnacious and though I have in the past been guilty of being bellicose and punching bullies I am not being bellicose now I am too puckered out to throw a punch to aim a phoot “leave him alone” says the man across the aisle “I will not” I say “you will” says a man behind me “and if you don’t get off the bus and allow us to finish this journey I will beat you black and blue” “right” I say and I run down the aisle of the bus brushing aside legs sprawled limp with lethargy and I say to the bus driver a dour man “stop this bus I am calling the police” and the bus driver says “I can’t stop the bus look we are on a busy road” to this I say “right I am calling the police.”

“I do not have his headphones!” The bus transitions. A beautiful – naked, breasts soft and bountiful – woman says “Come to me. I need you.” The passengers watch. “I will come up there,” I say, “and you will fight me knowing I am drained and spent beyond human possibility.” This response has the whole bus laughing and jeering and mocking which exacerbates my rage and I hold up my telephone and run up the aisle of the bus kicking aside legs sprawled limp with lethargy and take a photograph of the outré hairy man dressed in a paisley neon shirt open to the breast and a vomit of velvet cravat spilling vivaciously “you can’t do that” he says “that’s taking liberties.” “I agree” says the corrugated old lady “even Hitler’s SS would not have done that.” Hands grab. “Throw him off the bus” says the man across the aisle. Hair is pulled. The bus stops abruptly. The bus driver grabs me by the arm but I fight him off punching and kicking and swinging my satchel but a fist connects with my chin and a punch blinds me and a number of boots to my rump march me to the door of the bus and I am unceremoniously ejected from the bus. Bloodied and bruised I weep softly as the bus slowly rolls by and I see my headphones planted upon the grinning head of the young man. 

Paul Kavanagh           

Short stories

labyrinths twisted the sentence

The bedroom is a labyrinth with many Minotaurs thought Mary. She searched for a pen and a piece of paper. She liked the sentence, thought it was poetic. By the time Mary found a pen and a sheet of paper the sentence had been decapitated. Still, she penned the bedroom is a labyrinth with many

J.H. Lee

Short stories

Boxes and Banks

John married a girl from Brazil, from the Amazon jungle. After three days she demanded a divorce from John. Her lawyer told the judge that Peewewteetuz could not be kept in a box. The judge asked Peewewteetuz if she loved John. Peewewteetuz said of course, but the box no. The judge said come back tomorrow and I will give my ruling. John and Peewewteetuz kissed and went to the box, which was big but still a box. The next morning their home was reclaimed by the bank. Happily, they moved into the Amazon where there are no boxes or banks.

John Petrwelzt

Short stories


One summer, many years forgotten, we survived, penury and poetry, next to a business, with a small sign and no windows, that put down street dogs, killed them with a spike. They used a small amount of poison. The dogs were unwanted because they were deemed strange. Many of the dogs were deformed. I swear I saw one dog that had five legs. My wife still to this day believes I was drunk. Sometimes I would try to communicate with the dogs. I was usually drunk when I thought I could communicate with the dogs. I would bark at the strange dogs and the strange dogs would reciprocate the bark. From our bedroom window as far as the eye could see was monotony and opacity. It was a field of concrete. Upon the concrete were little huts. The strange dogs, both large and small, were kept in the huts until it was time for them to be injected with the poison. The death was elongated because of the penury of the poison. Moribund the strange dogs cried liked abandoned babies. One hot night by the open window, within the cloying heat, I read Rimbaud. The hot air was humming with the scent of the strange dogs. I had the feeling that I was waiting for the circus to arrive, the thought of clowns, elephants, jugglers, acrobats, music and the sweet smell of candy that sends children into raptures filled me with ineffable joy. That summer my wife and I never made love because of the smoke.

Paul Kavanagh

Short stories

Gordo A. Lama

  1. One summer I gave birth to a monster so terrifying my mother and father ran around the house screaming and tearing out their hair. It was a long birth. A whole summer. I thought I was creating a friend. The torso appeared first and then arms outstretched and welcoming. Pity arose in me seeing that he had one leg longer than the other. I quickly ameliorated the situation of the legs. The arms developed hands and then fingers.  His belly swelled. His legs grew feet and toes, even toenails. And then a head appeared and within the frame appeared a mouth, a nose, eyes, large ears, and a brow that led to a full head of hair. 
  2. I called my friend: Gordo A. Lama.
  3. “I am impressed by the water intake,” said my father.
  4. “That you have put down the books and taken full advantage of the sun impresses me,” said my mother.
  5. We shared profound philosophical conservations Gordo A. Lama and me. I read to him. I listened to his obsession – War.
  6. One very hot morning, my friend turned into the monster. A monster so terrifying that I froze into a ball of rock.
  7. Bursting, I jumped out of bed, leapt clearing the stairs, ran through the house without a good morning, and managed miraculously not to urinate in my pajamas. Awareness spread as the bladder deflated, as the hot kettle boiled piss flowed, around me I noticed the air was full of flies, all kinds of flies, bluebottles, horseflies, fruit flies, flesh flies, sawflies, snakeflies, alderflies, and houseflies. And there standing before me was the monster
  8. “This is the last time you will piss on me,” said Gordo A. Lama.
  9. He was covered in thick fuzzy hair from head to toe.  But more terrifying than the look was the smell. The smell hurt my eyes and my nose and my mouth. It burnt. I coughed. I choked. I froze.
  10. Gordo A. Lama climbed off the wall and parted his coat of fur and showed me his huge, throbbing hirsute member. It was amazingly long and thick.
  11. It only stopped when my mother intervened on the behalf of my bottom with a bottle of bleach.

Larry Caomhánach

Short stories

The empirical thumb

“Oh,” spoke Satogata, “what a splendid morning.”
“Nonpareil,” spoke Grunfeld.

Satogata looked around him and all the MPs, physicians, police, barristers were mimicking him. When he farted another farted; when he spat another spat; when he dropped his trousers and pissed into the river another dropped his trousers and pissed also.

Satogata was perplexed.

“Quit the mimicking,” spoke Satogata, vexed.

Inevitably the words echoed for Satogata was situated under the bridge in the muddy puddle.

“I’ve had enough of you lot,” spoke Satogata. “There was a time when this place only received the best.”

Satogata had one thumb up his nose and the other was situated up his arse. He coughed and bellowed but still he could not clear the pipes. He was under the weather and pleased. His arse had been running all night and now his nose was finishing the race.

“Excuse me,” spoke a lady steeping out of the nebula.

Satogata shook his head in disbelief. Perplexity produced a myriad of silent farts, but the thumb saved him from opprobrium.

“I’m not dead,” spoke Satogata, lost in pusillanimity.

“Thank him upstairs for that,” said the lady.

The lady was all smiling teeth and unblemished complexion. Her fur coat emitted rose water. The hair was cut short and purple. She looked as though she hadn’t done a day’s work in her life, but neither had Satogata. Was she a philosopher, also?

“Spare me some copper,” spoke Satogata.

“I’ve no coin,” spoke the lady.

Something metaphysical told Satogata that he was not about to get a free copulation.

“I’m a writer,” spoke the lady.

“What do you write on?” spoke Satogata.

“Paper,” spoke the writer.

“A boring topic,” spoke Satogata.

The writer frowned.

“What do you want?” spoke Satogata.

“I want to ask you a question,” spoke the writer.

“Please do,” spoke Satogata.

“What’s it like being homeless?” spoke the writer.

Satogata took the thumb from his rectum, stood up, and shoved the thumb down the writer’s throat. The excreta upon the buried thumb quickly started to dissolve the lining. The writer gagged, retched, puked. The vomit was futile in removing the excreta from off the thumb. It was concrete. Teeth bit down upon the thumb. But teeth are useless against concrete, I have been told. The vomit warmed Satogata’s thumb and eased the squeeze of the fur coat.

“That’s what it’s like,” spoke Satogata.

Satogata pulled his thumb out of the writer’s mouth with a pop and stuck it in his own. He sucked the excreta and viscera off his thumb and dried the shimmering thumb upon the dirty rag that was his coat.

“I’m going to call the police,” spoke the writer, drowning in tears.

“If you do that,” spoke Satogata, “I’ll be longer homeless.”

“You evil man,” spoke the writer.

“What?” spoke Satogata, incredulous. “For free I have presented you with a great gift. As the acid in your gut works, as shit in your gob attacks your teeth, think of me.”

Paul Kavanagh

Short stories


     They said I had substance. Had it on my person. Claimed substance on my breath.

     Yes, I admitted, I had substance – what of it?

     They said, because of the substance, I was a danger to myself, and/or others. They had to take me off the street.

     Before I could object, they snapped on cuffs. Pushed me down into the backseat. Drove me off to the building. Herded me into a cell.

     Because this is a free country, I got a lawyer, no charge. He was fresh out of school, didn’t appear to have any substance at all. Urged me to plead guilty. So the trial would end quick and he could get back to pounding pavement for a real job.

     I told him, sure, I was guilty. We all are. Bible got that right. The whole species is fallen, fucked from the outset. But I was damned if I’d plead. No call to beg – I had substance.

     Substantially, the kid admitted, I was right. But in matters of the law, ritual matters. If I’d just sign the confession he had prepared…

     I begged him go. So I could think.

     The verb threw him; think not legal language. He advised me, as my lawyer, not to for godsake do that. Then, shaking his head, trembling noticeably, even whiter than when he first came, he split.

     I looked around – toilet, bunk, bars, wall. My future home, future office, vacation spot of the future. I was now at last a real asshole, stuck in a space with just about that much room.

     Pulled out my substance. Wasn’t much. Bitty little dingleberry. But it got me off. And that was all I needed – to get off.

     When the kid came back, he was grinning ear to ear. He said, “Hey, old man – you got off! You can walk – you’re free to go!”

     I stood. Walked to the toilet. Went.

     “If it’s all the same to you,” urine arced into the bowl, “I’ll just stay put.”

     His face – like a civilization – collapsed. He saw with horror the years of food I would consume; say nothing of free rent, free medical, free dental – Christ, the city would wind up footing the burial!

     Worst of all, the judge would kick the kid’s butt personally for not getting my butt back out on the street, where – after the song and dance of arrest – said butt arguably belonged.

     Above the riot of urine impacting water, I chuckled, “Please close the door on the way out. And would you inform the authorities I detest apple pie? I eat only mom.”

     Then I died happy. Because, sensitive about the mom crack (or maybe the pie got his goat), the kid stabbed me in the back.

     “You got it!” I gasped, echoing in the bowl, chin-down on the rim. “That’s all I ask – pass it on. Now you got substance… maybe you too can kick shit…” and I rattled into the porcelain – born again glad and anxious in the baby between the kid’s ears.       

Willie Smith

Short stories


He was a myth but not a very good myth but still a myth.

He did not kill twenty thousand men with his bare hands, which were small and hirsute, and he didn’t change into a pig and have sex with a princess or change into a horse and mount a queen, and he didn’t change the weather, and he didn’t change his underwear before being run over by a truck, which never happened.

          Myths are he said leg ends.

This was quite funny I thought. My bells have been pulled many times. He was a terrible myth to be told. He tied his wife to their bed. He got the idea from some Greek Myth. Saw himself as the God that sleeps around, changes shape, fathers many bastards, hears that his wife has had a lover, ties her to a rock, allows all the Gods to see her beauty. She was so so, not bad for a Sunday morning, his wife, but the knots were gordian knots that perplexed the police.  

Paul Kavanagh