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

Short stories

Hi Life

I’m at the bar drinking a cheap beer, feeling low. Money is running out on me just like the woman on the next stool. I said Jean Baudrillard thought postmodernism was a nihilistic epoch. She finished her drink, killed the coals of the cigarette between thumb and forefinger, gave me the middle finger, and left.

An old timer filled the space.

He ordered a shot of something. Nobody could afford the jukebox, so we sat in silence. I ordered a beer, couldn’t muster the money for a shot.

“I’ve just watched two dogs fucking,” said the old timer.

“Yes,” I said.

“Yes,” said the old timer. “Real fucking.”

“Good for you,” I said.

The barmaid put a beer down in front of me and took a dollar off the pile.

“See that truck out there” – he pointed to a rusty blue Ford pickup – “that’s mine.”

I lifted the bottle, saluted the old timer, and sipped.

I think I must have bored the old timer. He moved down a stool and started to mess with a man reading a newspaper.

“I’ve just watched two dogs fucking,” said the old timer to the man reading the newspaper.

I heard a grunt.

 I lit a cigarette.

“No smoking in here it’s the law,” said the barman. I apologized and diffidently stubbed out the cigarette. I wasn’t much of a drinker, and I hardly went to bars. I now felt stupid, an incongruous object, lost even.

The old timer refilled the space next to me. We exchanged nods of the head, affable almost. Maybe here was my way to congruity.

“I’ve just watched two dogs fucking,” said the old timer. “Oh boy it was a hard fuck. I good hard fuck.”

“How hard?”

“Oh boy,” said the old timer, “it was brutal.”


“I nearly puked.”

“You,” I said, “no.”

“Oh boy,” said the old timer, “when you see a rottweiler fuck roadkill that takes some beating.”

Chuck Monteque

Short stories


(The Tale of Toe Toe)

I blame it on my addiction to pornographic movies. I cannot go an hour without watching a pornographic movie. I will watch a pornographic movie while eating, while watching the television, while reading a book, I sometimes fell asleep watching a pornographic movie, and so my dreams are full of pornographic movies.

Knowing this I had to do something. I went to the highway and waited. I thought a truck would kill me. I hoped a truck would kill me. Believing my time to be right, I jumped into the path of an on-coming truck.

I woke up in a hospital bed.

My legs were broken. My crying disturbed the man in the next bed. “Women,” he said. “Yes,” I managed. The word lacerated my throat. He sighed. The headache spread down my spine.

“I’m a jinn,” he said.

I looked over. The blur softened. He was indeed small and funny looking. He could have been a jinn.

“What happened to you,?” I had to ask.

“The last wish gave me stage four cancer,” he said.

I laughed so hard I thought I was about to spit out my teeth.

He told me that he had the energy for one last wish. He asked me if I wanted it. Of course I wanted it.

“Tell me friend your wish.”

I told him I wanted to be in the movies. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be in a movie with a young girl. I wanted her all for myself. I did not want to share her. She had to be beautiful. I wanted her petite with small breasts. She had to have a beautiful face.  She had to have pigtails and be dressed in a blue gingham dress. I wanted her in red shimmering high heels. I wanted her to love me and only me. I wanted a shower of gold. I wanted rainbows. I wanted her sing to sing beautifully and hold me tight.

Peter Wright

Short stories

Pigs Shall Inherent the Earth

You ask a myriad of quotidian questions but today is not a quotidian day Oh no not today not a quotidian day today it is butter smeared around the arsehole a wimp knowing that the mirror is mendacious afterall a penurious couple sharing Chinese for the first time and your wife (now not much to look at except the varicose veins swelling pregnancy three hairy chins nothing to dream over lust over come over) thinks you have found out about her affair which you have but you care not a fig about the man with the little twig and the ridiculous eschewed wig but these machinegun splatter (if only) questions have nothing to do with the affair and Betty is again perplexed and next it is the kids (Kids! Lambs to the Slaughter) turn and of course Mike wants to go back to bed and jerk off and Carol is on the telephone talking to her good-for-nothing boyfriend (wears makeup and listens to music that tells him to commit suicide (if only)) and Peter is tucked up in bed dreaming of tractors and diggers and Oh boy he’s drooling stupid cunt so it’s only right that he should start early tractors and diggers (he’ll keep them nice and oiled with drool).  So you’ve pointed the spotlight you’ve done the SS routine twisted arms pulled ears produced tears caused all kinds of fears and even played with Betty’s boobs (sagging pendulums) and so it’s off to the shower. You’ve no dignity left so you jerk off picturing Betty sucking on that leafless twig and it is all yes O yes and Betty walks in but you don’t stop no you go to the hop to the bop causing a great slop and the last time Betty saw you like this was on your honeymoon when she said it hurt and was red raw and you just stuffed it in there. You might not be embarrassed but she is. Dry and smelling of lotion you stand afore the mirror and you say things will get better Oh they have got to get better surely they will get better well Boy they can’t get any more fuckedup. You put on your pajamas and say that you will wear the grey suit tomorrow and Betty says something fatuous (always fatuous and reads Elle) about the time and you tell her it is going to be a busy day tomorrow and she goes into the bathroom undresses brushes her teeth before she can say goodnight you are asleep. Here you are happy. It is a troubled sleep but nobody will know. Betty climbs into bed and you are unaware. Reads Elle. You are standing on 4th street and you are naked it’s the same dream over and over again you are always on 4th street and you are always naked and your penis is hard throbbing hard but a burnt blackened bratwurst.

You awake around three in the morning in a cold sweat with the machete to your throat the obols placed on your eyes your penis stuffed in your mouth how is it going to end you want to know Oh God (you do not believe in God you abandoned God when God abandoned you) how is it going to end. You think about getting up but you don’t have the energy you think of slipping it into Betty that burnt blackened bratwurst but sleep is welcomed back even though it is a Trojan horse and even before the first Z you’re right back on 4th street naked as the day you were born with that burnt blackened bratwurst spitting and drooling.  So you wake up when you should not too early definitely not late and Betty has been superseded by her foul smell and the camel humps in the mattress and you’re already showered dried teeth brushed before the fear can impinge.  Once upon a time putting on a suit was exhilarating now it is like standing before a wall and having a bunch of kids practice their pitching like being a biscuit in a cum factory like the arsehole at a gangbang the fabric burns deep burns burns burns.  

Lately you have been eating like a pig with gastroenteritis you start even before sitting down snorting grimacing drooling Here he goes the old human trashcan thinks Mike and Heart attack city here we come thinks Carol and The race is on thinks Pete. You’re acting the pig but your dignity was stripped away many months ago and now you’re oinking all the way to the door. Betty will take the kids to their schools you once did the drive but a couple of months ago you told Betty that you wanted to use the bus you enjoy the ride and the company you told her that you had joined a group a bus group Betty laughed but conceded it was a good idea you having friends you having friends and Betty doesn’t mind that now after work you get together (your fucking friends) before the bus and have a couple of drinks she’s fine with it now when you get home you’re in a better mood (and the little twig has licked her fig). Off to work. Betty places a kiss upon your forehead she’s been doing it for twenty years (now her lips are painted) her lips are glowing embers the pain is too much burns but you don’t flinch you welcome the pain you deserve the pain you luxuriate in the pain. (On the spit choking on the Apple.) Have a good day at work says Betty (sans mockery) bring home the bacon.

On the bus you act important you act as though you have the world on your shoulders the canaille under your shaved heels a penis that tickles ribs and knocks out yankee doodle dandy and you hurry head down up 4th street fighting off that clown that frown that noun. It is amazing how quickly you dematerialize nobody gives you a second glance (it’s the times) but under the pink fluff behind the huge belly behind the snout behind the huge grin behind the blank eyes under the sailor cap you know you know you wallowing in the sweat afore the pink big ass without the hole the twirling tail you know the disgust the shame shame is a funny thing to some shame is a perpetual rain fall that drenches for others shame is an absent friend shame can be the torturer shame the nagging wife shame is that clown the follows you into that interview and pulls down your pants shame is that star linebacker that pushed your face into the mud shame is the business man that huffs at your tie shame is the prostitute that collapsed into a mess of laughter at your naked frame shame is that cheap pop song that won’t leave you alone shame is the turd that won’t flush shame just won’t hush.

Saul Waters

Short stories


For a second maybe less his mind is as busy as a Pieter Bruegel painting. He sits up. Puts down the book he was reading. Blaise Pascal could not sit in a room for long period of time. If he were forced to stay in a room for a long period of time a deep melancholy overwhelmed him. He can be on the sofa for days without the slightest hint of melancholy. He is not going for a walk. His shoes are in the other room. It could be raining. Kant walked all the time at the same time; his neighbors could set their watches by this ritual. He stands up. It was not hunger, it could have been hunger, but now the idea of food repels him. It is dark, but not the time for bed. He has been obsessed with cartography of late. On the coffee table, stacked high, are many books on the art and the history of cartography. The book on top of the stack is a book on Johannes Schnitze. A book is open on the coffee table. A page shows the wall painting of Çatalhöyük. The space between the coffee table and the sofa is sufficient for him to stand in. His back aches, pins and needles impel him to move and he marches on the spot until the pins and needles cease while looking at a painting of Canterbury Cathedral that is over the television. The painting is nothing special artistically, aesthetically, but it reminds him of his time spent at Canterbury. He sees Tybalt’s ball. There was a time when Tybalt would chase the ball around the front room for hours. Now Tybalt is bored of the ball. He is sure a cat can be bored. He too would be bored chasing a ball around the front room. He passes between Scylla and Charybdis and stops at the painting of John Mandeville that hangs on the wall. The traveler points toward the kitchen. Maybe he stood up to make himself a cup of tea.  He is addicted to tea. The book he was reading was by Xavier de Maistre.  Maybe if he were to have a cup of tea he could continue with his reading of Voyage autour de ma chamber.  He looks at the bookshelf behind the sofa. The books, if he were to read them, would change his views, Leon Battista Alberti, Euclid’s Optica, Nostradamus, Vitruvius’ Ten Books on Architecture, John Pecham’s Perspectiva communis and Bacon’s Opus Majus. He squints and the room changes dramatically.  His wife hates the bookshelf. He must admit the bookshelf is in disarray and is very dusty. He got up to smoke. He picks up the cigarette packet and lights a cigarette and suddenly thoughts of Frigyes Karinthy impinges. He smokes and thinks so hard about Utazás a koponyám körül that his head starts to hurt. The pain is immeasurable. He can no longer smoke. He drops the cigarette in the ashtray, which is on the coffee table. With his thumb, he kills the coals. A last wisp of smoke ascends in gothic swirls. He watches as the pain wanes. He had no real intention of smoking. He walks to the window. He parts the curtains with a hand. He looks out of the window. It is now dark. The glow of the city looms over the darkness like an ignis fatuus. It is a very short distance to the television from the window. It might seem strange to compare this journey from the window to the television with that of Sir John Mandeville’s journey to the Holy Land, but I feel it can be justified. Say that the space between the window and the television is built up of small cubes of air containing small particles of dust. Say these small cubes are 1 to 3 cm along an edge, I am thinking of the common dice, well then I have no idea, and dare not conjecture the number of small cubes it would take to fill the space between the window and television. He places a hand on the television. His wife’s shoes are forlorn and incongruous at the foot of her chair. He can still see her indentation in the leather. She is upstairs, sleeping. He wonders what she is dreaming. He wants to believe she is in 9 Cities & the Sky.  It is his favorite structure of Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili. He leaves the city and travels back to the coffee table. He stops and looks at the wall painting of Çatalhöyük. The rug he is standing on is mostly red. The rug was expensive. They bought the rug in Turkey. They were there for the Hagia Sophia. He remembers only that had to carry the rug for eight hours while they traipsed through the Hagia Sophia. They went to a café afterward and smoked some tobacco. He cannot remember the name of the café. He tries but futility is inevitable. His mind is more Swiss cheese than. It was a long time ago. Ballard’s drowned giant, Gargantua and Pantagruel supping, Tolstoy’s retreating French Army, no: the coffee table. A sigh loud reverberates. Fatigue weighs heavily upon his limbs. He picks up the dead cigarette. Still, no. He puts the dead cigarette back in the ashtray. Smoking can be boring. Talking can be boring. He was at a great party. It was Christmas Eve night. Everybody was so happy. He started a conversation with a writer. “Didn’t Mikhail Lermontov say that the British created boredom?” said the famous writer. He had to shrug. He had not read Lermontov. He keeps away from the Russians. Their books are always long and have too many characters. He told the writer this. The writer sighed softly, almost Shakespearean, maybe too Shakespearean, maybe a hint of the Sophoclean. He finally finds the energy to walk around the coffee table and again he finds himself in the space between Scylla and Charybdis. Evelyn Waugh took a delight in walking in the footsteps of Arthur Rimbaud. Evelyn Waugh even tried to emulate Martin Eden. I mean the swimming out to sea to end one’s life. Unlike Martin Eden, Evelyn Waugh turned back. I think a jellyfish stung him. He collapses onto the sofa. Marquis de Sade wrote The 120 Days of Sodom or the School of Licentiousness with his eyes closed and with only one hand free. Did he get up to turn on the television, to find a pornographic movie, to masturbate? He slips a hand down between his trousers and skin. He feels his soft penis. He strokes it. He closes his eyes and sees Scheherazade on the sand dunes. No, it was not to masturbate. There is no life down there. He sighs. He removes the hand. He laces the fingers behind his head. Sleep is far away, as far away as Quivira and Cíbola. He opens his eyes. Once again his head is as busy as a Pieter Bruegel painting. He sits up. Why did he get up in the first place? It was not to eat, to drink, to smoke, to travel, to masturbate.  The answer comes in a fulguration. All obfuscation is burnt away. It was to write this.

Paul Kavanagh

(first published in Black Sun Lit – Vestiges_02: Ennui)

Short stories

A Surprising Assignation (a play in one act)

Kant:  Two alien males are at an alien bar smoking alien cigarettes and drinking alien alcohol.

Lampe: Alien to you may be, but  

Kant: One of the aliens is exhausted. He has just returned from earth.

Lampe: Oh yes much like your trips to Thailand and Bangkok I bet?

Kant: The other alien is slightly older – a hundred earth years. He has never been to earth but plans on a visit. The two alien males are related – all living matter is related on this alien planet.

Lampe: Yawn. Yawn. Yawn. All the lights have been turned out and everybody has gone home well done.

Kant: The Aliens do not speak English, but for now, English will suffice.  

Lampe: And English names please I hate Alien names like qwteterb or :::”:”::”:””:.

“I bumped into this lovely being and I said to her I want to make love,” said Edward (the fatigued alien).

“Love?????” said Tom (the older alien).

“Sex,” said Edward,

Lampe: Aha! More like it!

Kant: “But we are so different she said,” said Edward, “So I told her I was form-blind being an Alien and she said she had never heard of form-blind being from earth.”

Lampe: What?

Kant: “I told her it was like color-blindness,” said Edward, “She told me that when a male wants to stick his thing into a female’s thing the male must regale the female until gorged.”

Lampe: I need to meet this girl!

Kant: “You really would do it for liquid and sustenance I said to her” said Edward, “and she nodded affirmative.”

Lampe: That’s my kinda girl!

Kant:  The Aliens emptied their alien glasses and purchased more alien alcohol.

“We made sweet love for eight of their moon’s journeys,” said Edward.  

“What was the girl’s name?!?!?!?!?!” said Tom.

“Hippopotamus,” said Edward.

John Sweeney

Short stories


William Smith-Millcocethe

Short stories

The Third of May 1808


1.This is the reason why we fight. Keep an eye on Arthur. Not a flinch. Hard as nails is Arthur. Don’t leave his side been through it all copy him. See how he stands how he holds the rifle. I wish they would stay dead. The groans the moaning the crying. I wish that fellow would move back. Why do they have to be heroes? I hate heroes. 2. I wonder what Vitalie is doing I’ll never bitch again about housework I won’t I promise I won’t bitch again I promise Vitalie. 3. Vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine vermine. 4. The dead. Funny how the dead don’t move. Once saw a headless chicken. Ran around. Laughed so much I shit me pants. 5. The smell. Makes me hungry. That beef today was discoloured pork. Discoloured pork is better than fish.            Fish.     Beef.        Pork.     I wonder if I could ask Jacques for a slice of bread and may be some cheese and a glass of wine. Syphilis he has. Egypt. Those were the days. Egypt. I was lucky. She had a great pair. Firm. Lovely nipples. Couldn’t get it up. 6. Come on                        come on                                         come on                give the order.                                            Come on                                come on                  come                                      on                       stop moving.                                                        

Come on                                           come                              on                   let’s get this over with.                                                       I’m cold                                                      

look           at that      bastard                              come on                       give the

order      come on. I hate this waiting. come on                       come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on come on. 8. Gautier you can do this. Yes, Gautier you can do this. Gautier you can do this. Easy Gautier. Just pull the trigger Gautier. You’ve done it before Gautier. 8. I need a shit. Always happens. I hope that painter doesn’t show me about to shit my pants. Why would a painter want to paint us?

Paul Kavanagh

Short stories

Mundane Cruelty

John and Mary live in a small house. The small house has a back garden but no front garden. The back garden is a sea of verdant grass. When you step out of the front door you step onto a small pavement and then you meet the road. There are many perks to living in the city but this is not one of them. The cars and trucks and buses do not slow down and do not stop. It is very dangerous. The back garden is long and narrow. John wants to pour concrete over the grass but is not allowed.

            Mary is lying on the expensive sofa. She has two telephones on the go. She is working. Her face still holds last night’s makeup, smudged. The ramifications of last night twist her stomach. Dehydration and hunger impinge upon her and her thoughts.  She is wearing sweatpants and a college t. The penury of sleep pains Mary, exaggeratingly. 

            John is sitting on an old rocking chair, which he bought at an antique fair. He was “mugged” he says but he likes sitting in the rocking chair. The book he is reading, or pretending to read, is about Hell. His new obsession is Hell.

            Mary yawns and then parses. John feels for the person having to listen to Mary. After the yawn Mary scratches her nose.

            Sometime today John has to mow the lawn. It is in the 90s it will reach 100. John hates mowing the lawn. John believes he is allergic to grass. He is allergic to grass. Mary tells John to hire somebody to mow the lawn. John thinks that hiring somebody to mow the lawn is a waste of money. Ever since John was “mugged” by the man at the antique fair over the rocking chair he has vowed never to be “mugged” again. The allergic reaction to grass is: 1. A runny nose 2. Swelling under the eyes and tears 3. A puce taint to the face and neck 4. headaches 5. Toothache.  6. Diarrhea.

“Nobody goes to Hades anymore,” says John. “Once upon a time everybody went to Hades. But now nobody goes to Hades. Death is still with us. We all die. But the dead no longer go to Hades. It is an easy place to find Hades. We know that the entrance to Hades can be found in Avernus, a crater near Cumae. Andrea De Jorio drew a map. The map shows you how to get to Hades and how to get back from Hades and he showed the interior of Hades. Andrea De Jorio was obsessed with Pompeii. The city is a city of sex and death.  Heracles & Theseus & Odysseus & Aeneas paid a visit to Hades and returned.”

            Mary is busy with her telephone call. Work is all encompassing.  Her brain is on the rack and the words are water flowing over a stretched towel entering the neverclosing rictus. She is drowning.

            “When I am asked where I want to go I will tell them on my death bed to place the obols on my eyes for Charon and that I am off to Hades,” says John.  

            He laughs tenuously.

Mary doesn’t laugh. She heard but she finds John’s pretentious talk silly and boring plus the telephone call she is now participating in is dealing with a multimillion dollar lawsuit.

            This little charade of John’s was merely camouflage for John has a secret he wants to tell Mary, to spill, to unload. He bites his bottom lip. Sweat purls over his blistering skin. He reads a sentence and gains a modicum of equilibrium. The sentence is: Drexelius somehow pictured 100,000,000,000 burnt, flayed and gutted souls in the space of one cubic German mile.

            John and Mary married just as Mary was accepted into Law School. John was very happy for Mary and never complained because he knew that there would be a payoff and there was and everything worked out as planned.  Mary worked hard for those three years and after passing the bar joined John at the bank, although she works in a different department. Mary makes more money and has a higher position within the bank.  She is a ban two and he is a ban three (banker jargon).

            It’s too early for a glass of wine but maybe a beer. They both quit smoking three years ago. There was talk of babies and cancer. Mary’s mother “caught the cancer.” Mary talks about cancer as though you can catch cancer like a cold or flu.

            “It’s time,” says John not meaning to quote T.S. Eliot.

            The neighbor waters his back lawn obsessively. John never waters his lawn but the water from the neighbor’s lawn finds its way into John’s lawn. There is a slight slope.

            The secret is a kidney stone. The secret is a tumor. The secret is cancer. The secret has rabies and has razor sharp teeth and is eating away at John’s stomach.

            “After you have mowed the lawn we could go out somewhere to eat,” says Mary. She feels guilty that she ignored John and his fatuous obsession.

            “Yes,” says John. “We could get sushi.”

             John’s throat is boiling over with the secret. His tongue is swelling. His mouth is burning. It is as if some person, nefarious and Sadean, as poured battery acid into his mouth. His teeth ache.

            “I could phone Kim and Alan and see if they want to join us,” says Mary and before John can nod his head in the affirmative or say yes she is already on the telephone with Kim.  They work together at the bank.

            “Kim, do you fancy sushi?” says Mary.


            Mary looks at John and shakes her head and pulls a face of disappointment. John is relieved.

            The secret is rhizomatic. The secret is a patch of mushrooms awakening in a quagmire. The secret is a corolla which is opening up to the sun and whose dust is filling the air causing 1. A runny nose 2. Swelling under the eyes and tears 3. A puce taint to the face and neck 4. headaches 5. Toothache.  6. Diarrhea.

            John is just about to speak, his lips have parted, his tongue is animated, there are word heavy words in his throat, he is about to liberate himself of the secret, to divest the secret, to share the secret, when Mary says: “They will meet us afterwards, after you have mowed the lawn, for drinks.”

Mary is beautiful. I dapple her face with warts and zits and blackheads and carbuncles. She eyes me with anger and hurt. I ask her why she eyes me so. Mary shrugs her shoulders. I tell Mary to sit down. Mary sits down on a chair. The chair is old and squeaks like a mouse.  I tie Mary to the chair with thick rope. I remove Mary’s fingernails and toenails. I pinch Mary’s nipples and remove her eyelashes and shave her eyebrows.  I will commence after I have dealt with John to impregnate Mary. John is mine. So, I pull down his pants and kick him in the balls. John will not scream. I will once again kick him in the balls. The balls will swell. John will keep his lips shut and his eyes open. I will order John to turn. John turns. I kick John in the ass. John will move forward three paces. I will follow John and repeatedly kick him in the ass. I order John to turn and face me. I kick John in the balls, again. I order John to go out into the back garden and start mowing the lawn. I have decided to riff the pair of them.

Paul Kavanagh