Short stories


Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam, Eliot, Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv all live in Subburnabla and they are very, very happy. They work Monday to Friday and love their jobs. They drive to the station to catch the train. The train takes them peacefully into the city. Some read, some daydream, some sleep. They meet for lunch; they talk about work, about the news, about the weather. Some work in the same office. They congregate on the platform and wait for the train home together. Some yawn, some talk about their day, some are excited about getting home. On the train some sit in silence, others laugh, some make plans to have a quick drink at the local bar. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot after church go to breakfast with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

On the weekends their white shirts dry in the midday sun. Their dogs dig holes and bury the bones they were presented with for being good dogs. They shower to the sound of blenders mixing fruit. They shave to the sizzle of bacon. They run, stretch, play ball. On the weekends they enjoy barbecues and drink bottled ice beer that is advertised on the television. Their gardens are impeccable, the flowers bloom, the trees fruit, the soil is brown. They exterminate the worms, the ants, the beetles. Their cats feed upon the eggs of birds. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot drink cocktails in the morning sun with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

On Saturdays they go to the mall and watch a movie while eating buttery popcorn and drinking Diet Dr Pepper. On Sundays they go to church and pray to God to save them. They eat steaks, chicken, and pork. They coach football, softball, soccer. They laugh at the jokes they tell over and over and over again. They are interested in each others’ little histories. They share recipes and talk about the television shows. They are very excited about their DNA. They exchange music, movies, and ideas. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot bask in the sun around the swimming pool with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

The new dreams fade and linger with the old dreams. They stand outside and stare at the stars and smoke. They wave and say ‘good night sleep tight’ as the embers die, as the smoke dissipates. They love to sleep but fear rigor mortis. They drink cocktails in the morning sun. They overdose on a myriad of pills. The alligators feed upon the turtles. Every Monday a little girl wanders onto the road and is hit by a speeding truck. They stand at the curbside and cheer. They take pictures with their new improved cameras that just keep getting better. They erase all abstraction. Every Friday a little boy falls out of a tree. One day somebody came up with the idea to catch the boy. They grill hotdogs and drink Coca-Cola to the sound of bones breaking. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot dance with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

We help our neighbours to burn down their homes. We disable their smoke machines, we pour inflammable liquid on their back doors, we mess with the electrical systems. When the fire service turns up we act shocked, we ask silly questions and turn into obstacles. We stand and watch the fires. We break into our neighbours’ homes and steal jewellery, electronics, and money. We urinate on the carpets, we defecate in strange places. Foxes feed upon placentas. We teach our teenage daughters to sleep with cockatoos, wolves, lions. We force our teenage boys to rebel, to disfigure themselves, to smoke crack. Larry, Tim, Peter, Saul, William, Carl, Lee, Jake, Richard, Sam and Eliot get naked and sleep with Macy, Lucy, Jane, Mary, Jean, Elizabeth, May, Wendy, Lilly, Fanny and Viv.

Paul Kavanagh

Short stories


He is dead. He cannot feel the bed underneath him or the blanket wrapped around him or the pillow that is propping up his head. He died in his sleep. Peacefully. His heart. He cannot move his arms, hands, fingers, or legs, feet, toes. This does not perplex him because he knows when you are dead you are dead. His mouth is open and he cannot close it. He is dead and there is nothing he can do about it. He is sure he is happy. Being dead. Happiness hitherto unknown. Incongruous. Ineffable. He doesn’t understand the happiness he is dead but he is sure that something is stirring not within you understand he is dead. He can’t believe it. Life is unfair. He’s dead but that happiness is everywhere. “Oh” and “Ah” fills the bedroom. “Ohhhhing” and “Ahhhhing” is the dead man’s widow. She, the widow, fell out of the bed and is now up and dancing, not dancing, her late husband is showing signs of rigor mortis.  “What I am going to do?” she says and adds “How am I going to live?” She lights a cigarette and smokesfuriously. He doesn’t complain. Smoke away. Cancer can’t harm me. I am dead. I am happy.  ‘The children and school and holidays and clothes and college and marriage and grandchildren” she says. A speck of worry fizzes as magnesium in water. “Who’s going to pay for the funeral” she adds “I mean a funeral nowadays is more expensive than a home or a car or a holiday.” The miasma once so thick and beautiful is nothing more than a diaphanous cloud of smoke and is swept away with an opened hand and that turns to a pointing finger. The fingertips and toeends itch. “A coffin is very expensive” she says “And the tombstone and the flowers and the cars to take us to the church and the church and the priest and the food and the booze and I hope Uncle Toby doesn’t get too drunk and cause a punchup.” He remembers his mother. He remembers his side of the family. He opens his eyes. He wants to shout I want stay dead. He doesn’t want to get up, brush his teeth, empty his bladder, dress, go down the stairs, turn on the television, have breakfast, and then go to work. Work. He forgot about work. Work. The time! He’s going to be late for work. “They will want a free bar,” she says.  A poke. A kick. A punch. Surge impels. Electricity flows. Anger.  Depression. Disappointment. He coughs. Clears his throat. He says “I want death.”  His wife says “I knew you were playacting” and pulls the blanket from him and the pillow that was propping up his head. He sniffs, quaffs the air, snorts, runs his tongue along his bottom teeth, scratches his balls, scratches his arse, readjusts the soft penis, farts, and wiggles his toes.

Paul Kavanagh

Short stories

The clever araña de rincón

A fly was caught in the web of the araña de rincón and the fly turned to the araña de rincón and said how come you recluse spiders are so recluse why is it that you hide in the nocks and crannies why do you hide when you have such a terrible bite and to stop the fly talking all night the araña de rincón broke a cardinal rule and said the araña de rincón bit the boy and the boy asked why the araña de rincón had bit him and the araña de rincón looked at the boy and said because I am araña de rincón and so the boy took off his shoe and crushed the araña de rincón and the boy’s father asked the boy why he had killed the araña de rincón and the boy said because father one day I will grow up to be a man.

A.M. de Rodas

(trans: Larry Caomhánach)

Short stories

Code Name

It starts with a phone call.

Hall, Oates is here, comes down the phone, loud.

He phones me up at all hours of the night. I think it has something to do with the time difference. I could be wrong. I am not very good with time or geography.

Hall? he says.

I cough to demonstrate that I am still on the telephone.

Silence is impossible, he says. It is a quote. He always quotes intellectuals. This time it is Maurice Blanchot. I introduced him to Maurice Blanchot. He always regurgitates my quotes – often misquotes and I have to correct him.

Please can we change my Code Name, I plead.

We have done this routine before – it vexes him.

What? comes down the phone, loud.

What about Lennon and McCartney? I’ll even let you be Lennon.


What about Hemingway and Fitzgerald?


I was going to say Batman and Robin, but he hates Superheroes.

I could be Oscar Wilde and you could be Marcel Proust, I whisper.

You are a decadent, he barks.

I was joking, I say, but seriously, what about Laurel and Hardy or Abbot and Costello?

We are not playing a game, he says.

He’s irate. It always happens this way. I give in.

Abandoned Luncheonette, I say. This is the Code saying I am ready. He tells me in the morning a parcel will arrive. Inside the parcel, I’ll find a cyanide capsule. I have to swallow the cyanide capsule.

Goodnight, I say.

Good morning, comes down the phone, gleeful.  

Aaron Peterson

Short stories

Colhounn the Giant

Colhounn was a big man, the biggest man in the city. Colhounn was so big he was homeless.

Colhounn was big and homeless and a voracious eater. A pound of tripe Colhounn consumed in a day.

The children after school mocked poor Colhounn and his pound of tripe. The Children called Colhounn names, spat spit balls at Colhounn, and the children mocked Colhounn’s size.

 Once upon a time Colhounn was in love, a girl with long blond hair. This girl with the long blond hair stirred Colhounn to swoon, caused his heart to flutter, and caused his melancholy to dissipate.

The girl with the long blond hair was called Mary.

Colhounn and Mary would take long walks and consume two pounds of tripe.

These were Colhounn’s happiness days, Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

Happy days don’t last forever.

But still, Colhounn had experienced those days with Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

Colhounn remembering those days with Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

The children seeing Colhounn happy teased him, they threw rocks, urinated upon him, and they smeared his face with excrement while he slept happily dreaming of Mary, the walks, the two pounds of tripe.

Mary hung herself.

Colhounn could not be helped, doctors tried to console him, a butcher gave him free tripe, a chef cooked the tripe, a waiter served the tripe, but Colhounn could not be helped.

Colhounn missed his Mary.

Colhounn drank day and night.

Nobody could help or did not want to help Colhounn.

The heart of Colhounn was broken. The pieces of the broken heart of Colhounn were scattered all over the pavement where Colhounn slept. The pieces were brown and hard. A dog came along and consumed the broken pieces. Where once there was a heart there was now nothing.

Colhounn free of his heart decided he could do whatever he pleased.

A wasteland is as good as a forest.

There was no forest but there was a wasteland.

Colhounn was a big man, had big arms, and had a big….

And so, Colhounn with those big arms carried away the children that mocked him day in and day out and in the wasteland that was not a forest Colhounn with his big …. sodomized the children, fed the children glass, and finally he flayed the little brutes…

Melia Klepht

Short stories

Find Love in a Disco

The Terrorist wants to find love he tells me. The Terrorist sleeps eats defecates in bunkers caves safe houses at the local bar. Sometimes I think it is just about the sex. The Terrorist is not PC. Chicks are chicks & dudes are dudes. I am sure he has a list somewhere of old conquests. I think he rates them one to ten. He carries a stack of VHS tapes around in a shopping bag. His two favorite Stars are Peter North & Kip Noll. Milk gives him the shits. From the mountaintop he telephones the boys and tells them that he loves them and soon they will be in Heaven together. The telephone calls are long and instructive and he is tender and loving. The Terrorist prohibits lonely masturbation but group masturbation is permitted. The Terrorist loves Pumping Iron with a passion. Being deaf the Terrorist tolerates loud music but forbids dancing unless the dancing is a form of terrorism. The Terrorist cries at night when the sky is unblemished and the moon is shimmering and the stars are blinking and all are impassive to death and destruction because he is lonely and he just wants to be loved. The Terrorist is always five hundred and fifty-three feet behind the suicide bomber. The Terrorist is there to pick up the pieces and to create his own monster. The arm has to be muscular and the leg to be slender and the torso to be Michelangeloan. The Terrorist just wants somebody to hold his hand, to whisper sweet nothings, to kiss him, to tell him that everything is wonderful. The Terrorist has a SS haircut. The Terrorist likes to parade and sing songs. The Terrorist dresses like a British Lord. ‘At eighteen hundred hours we will shower but not together,’ says the Terrorist, ‘and you will order a taxi for nineteen hundred hours while waiting we will ready ourselves which means clean under the armpits and then we will jump in the taxi and at twenty hundred hours we will enter the Fascist Disco and there I will find love pure love.’ I say ‘you hate discos.’ The Terrorist says, ‘I am ninety nine percent certain I will find love after all we are white and pure and God Loves.’  

B. K. Anderson 

Short stories


We were silly sulky slumberlant and full of dreams, incredible dreams, long and lazy dreams, labyrinthine dreams, Egyptiantine yellow, Greektine white, Romantine purple, Byzantine red, unlimned dreams, ineffable, sweet lolling limbs dreams, dreams like fronds lazily lingering tapping water flowing gently, azure, lapis lazuli, we had tried to construct a rainbow, but our endeavor had been futile, we had broken the spell, we had thought too long, too hard, we were unaware that all we needed was sunlight and water, spraying water, cascading water, we thought that rainbows were as intricate as the kaleidoscope, the kaleidoscope for us was magical, it contained God on earth, as the altered light seeping through the stainglass window of the cathedral contains God, we could have opened the curtains, we could have allowed the sun entrance, we could played with water, we slouched, dissolved, our lids heavy, the rims touching, limp, six legs crossed intricately as intricate interwoven as any Insular Illumination, loose legs uncoiling slowly, arms drooping boughs weighed heavily with ripen fruit readying to ejaculate sepia seeds, yawning, stretching, scratching, limp, sleepy, uncoiling.  Eliot and Viv said that we should leave the dark room and play outside but I said no and that I had a better idea, Viv said she did not want to kiss me, I said she could not kiss her brother that sisters kissing brothers was against God and if God saw Viv and Eliot kissing God would infest Viv and Eliot with a coruscating disease – it had to be coruscating so that all the people could see the disease as the mark on Abel had to be on his forehead and neon. Viv agreed to me kissing her, I held her tightly and kissed her. Eliot counted. By the time he got to a hundred, Viv was limp in my arms, I released her and she fell to the floor, on the floor, her dress covered her face and showed Eliot and me her pink cotton panties, We touched and Viv stayed silent and still we touched, warm, moist, soft.   

Eliot, Viv, and I climbed under their father’s bed, it was a big bed, their father was a follower of Spinoza and so cried for all the crimes committed against man and woman, some days he cried for Adam and Eve because they were cast out of Eden, he cried for those drowned in the great flood, he wept for the Moslems that were put to death by the Crusaders, he wept for the boys in the First World War, he wept for the Jews on their way to the gas chamber, he wept over the atom bomb. On the wall was The Triumph of Death. “Bruegel is the master when it comes to the physiognomy in pain,” said Eliot. We could hear their father weeping softly his crying reminded me of the rain patting the window. “Just another massacre,” I said. I was bored of hide and seek, we should have been playing hide and seek we said we would play hide and seek, I turned to Viv, I should have been hiding, I felt very silly, and so I didn’t say anything to Eliot and Viv. I almost cheered. I had had a thought. I whispered to Viv and Viv whispered to Eliot and Eliot looked at me and nodded his head. We stole from the work shed, from the kitchen, from the basement; we went through the house collecting the stuff we needed. Eliot carried a huge bag and we filled the bag and Eliot never complained, Viv used her mother’s washing basket, in it we placed the intricate stuff we needed, because I was good with a pen and could write neatly I kept records, I was methodical and wrote everything we did down. We went into the dark room and worked and constructed, we hammered nails and bent metal, we saw through wood and hacked through sheets of tin and metal and copper, when something did not work, we started again, we were full of ideas, and some of the ideas were magnificent and I wrote down the ideas and we stopped working and I read out loud the ideas they were very good ideas. Viv was so happy she kissed me and I kissed her and we kissed Eliot and Eliot kissed Viv and me.

We stood before the Kaleidoscope, so proud, so joyous. Eliot ordered us to stand guard and he left the dark room. Viv placed my hand down her pink cotton panties; my fingers crawled through the turf and entered her lips, I wiggled my fingers and Viv moaned softly, the warm, viscous juice from her hole trickled through the rill spacing my knuckles. Eliot returned with a cat. I removed my fingers and helped Eliot push the cat into the chamber. Once the cat was in the Kaleidoscope, Viv turned the handle, the cat mewled as cats mewl under the window when the moon is pavonine and no long abash over the pockmarks. The cat went through the Kaleidoscope, and somewhere in the middle of the Kaleidoscope, the cat stopped screaming. We went round to the other side of the Kaleidoscope and watched as beautiful portions of the cat fell from the conveyor belt. The pieces looked so nice and so pretty, and we said if the pieces had been from a cow or a pig we could have sold the pieces at the market. “I think we should tell mother,” said Eliot. “I think we need to see if we can place something bigger than a cat in Kaleidoscope before we should tell your mother,” I said. Eliot and Viv nodded their heads. I slipped my hand down Viv’s pink cotton panties; she turned angrily and stared me down. My hand traveled through the rut that separated her behind. My fingers found the hole and I wiggled my fingers. Viv moaned softly. “I think Viv would work perfectly,” said Eliot. He grabbed Viv and pushed her towards the Kaleidoscope. Viv was silent. Eliot 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 Eliot. I worked myself into a glistening sweat. Viv started to appear. Little pieces of Viv fell off the conveyor belt. From the apertures on both sides of the Kaleidoscope, matted hair and crushed bone and pulped muscle and intestines and brain in thick liquid oozed.

(appeared in Chaffey Review)

Paul Kavanagh

Short stories


    Into the Electrolux I jammed it. Snapped on the juice. Expecting a free whoopee. But the motor stuck; the fit too tight.

     Toot sweet my unit shot off – humped through the hose like a goosed mole; whumped inside the body of the machine.

     I cut the juice. Detached the bag. Dumped it on the rug.

     Hatpins, marbles, hairballs, needles, threads, rat crap, pretzel crumbs, popcorn duds, spiders sputtering hairy with dust. And there, at the center of the heap, writhed my unit.

     Snatched it. Blew on it. Waved it in the air. Applied pressure. Tried screwing the tube back on. Which proved harder than joining two north poles.

     The bugger kept skewing, slamming into a thigh. Then it came alive. Burst out the bay window, jetted into the sky.

     I’m waiting still for that sucker to come home to roost. Meantime, I make do – keeping time, doing the do – with a mechanical cock that never gets mechanical. 

Willie Smith

Short stories

The Case of the Missing Father

 My mother thought she was Léontine Lippmann, said Henry.

Who, asked Peter.

 If you were lucky to have been invited to one of her, I’ve forgotten the word, you could have found yourself conversing with the Prince and Princess Bibesco; the Baron and Baroness Rothschild; Marcel Schwob and Marcel Proust, said Judy. Bores and windbags were never invited again. A single word could get you banned. Even a huff at a malapropos moment could have you ostracized.

 Right, said Peter, still perplexed.

 Of course, said Henry, one of her man friends met me at the front door.

 Man friends, said Mary.

 My mother had many man friends, said Henry, aided with a wink.

 Lady MauxSmith’s salons always ended in an orgy, said Judy.  William Hogarth never attended one of her salons but he did hear about an incident. Many years later he incorporated the incident into one of his series of moral works. After a very successful salon, that’s the word, Lady MauxSmith decided she would entertain her guests with a little something different. All flames were extinguished except one.

 They were all there 1: Timothy Smith 2: Oliver Woodcock 3: Tom Yews 4: Yann Goldberg 5: Edward Block 6: Bill O’Keefe 7: Simon Monteau 8: Mark Peters.

 My money is on Edward Block, said Tom.

 I think Oliver Woodcock, said Jack.

 Johanna Schopenhauer was the real star of the family, said Judy. Her reputation as a salonnière was wide spread. Arthur Schopenhauer’s hatred for his mother was only matched by his hatred of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.  Some of said the hatred could be the result of Georg being too much of a father figure. I won’t shut up. Fill me up. My Henry. I love my Henry.

Meanwhile, Robert helped himself to more fish and gestured to Jack but Jack pointed to the vegetables.

Meanwhile, Mary passed over the bowl of rice believing Jack had pointed to the rice.

Meanwhile, Jack thanked Mary with a nod of the head and a smile.

Meanwhile, the hot fish air breathed on the walls and stirred the blinds.

All had played a part in my life, said Henry. All had shaped me.

Meanwhile, Judy drank more white and touched Henry, on the legs the arms, around the neck.

 I went upstairs, leaving my mother’s man friends to their discussion on One Thousand and One Nights: Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor: the Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang by Tuan Ch’engShih: Les 120 journées de Sodome.

 So much aggression, said Viv.

Meanwhile, Peter answered Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714 (1878).

 I crept into the bedroom and saw my mother in her bed. She already looked dead. There was a chair next to the bed. By my shoes were a stack of books. Somebody had been reading to her. Her hand moved. It was a frail, skeletal hand. At first I recoiled. But it was my mother. I allowed the hand to touch my hand. It was cold. I became aware of the deep, ponderous breathing. Each breath I was convinced would be the last. The face had almost collapsed. She opened her eyes, an onerous task. Her eyes were pellucid green. She was not the woman I remembered. Mother, it’s me, I said. She closed her eyes.  I remained, in silence, holding her hand. Each exhalation brought her closer to the final exhalation.  Mother, I said, you have to tell me about my father. You have to. You have to. You have to. A son must know his father.  

 You do hate women, said Viv.

 Let him finish. said Judy. My Henry as to finish. Leave my Henry alone you. You. You. You bitc  Judy belched.

 But, said Viv.

 VIV, said Judy.

 This is wonderful fish, said Tom, holding up a fork full of fish and he shovelled the fish into his mouth,

 She spoke, softly. I had to lean over her and press my ear to her lips. The lips were cold and they quivered.

 I bet the room smelt of Chrysanthemums, said Tom.

 Timothy constructed a musical instrument using his home. It was a two up two down. He was able to play the musical instrument from his favorite chair in the front room using ropes, strings. He tied the ropes and strings to his fingers and toes and movement produced music. His wife poisoned him.

Oliver constructed shoes so he could walk on the Sun. He worked on the shoes for thirtythree years. He was knocked down by a bus.

Mark endeavored to teach his dairy cows to end moo with an n and say moon. After twentyfive years and having no alternative, he was found with his head lodged up a cow’s rectum.

She laughed. I could feel the tepid air careening through the creases of my earlobe.

Yann grew apples using phrenology. He created an apple as idiosyncratic as any criminal’s head. His apples were not smooth like other apples, but full of protrusions that gave the apple a character all to itself. He choked to death on one of his own apples.

Edward wrote a book about all the famous cities and people in Europe and appeared on the television. He moved to Paris with the royalties and whenever he walked down the street the French girls and boys screamed out Edward’s name. Sick and tired of fame, Edward locked himself in a hotel room and drank himself to death with absinthe.

William followed in the footsteps of Francisco Orellana and Gonzalo Pizarro and went in search for El Dorado. He journeyed deep into the jungle and navigated the Amazon River. He fought panthers, snakes and spiders. The Tupinambá tribe found him on precipice of death. They took him back to the village and helped him to recuperate. William made love to all the women of the Tupinambá tribe while the men were away from the village hunting the panthers, snakes and spiders. The men of the Tupinambá tribe caught William in the act. They cut him up into little pieces and so as with Francisco Orellana and Gonzalo Pizarro William never found El Dorado.

Simon squared the circle. He simply placed his coffee cup on the coffee table. Picture Anaxagoras, Hippocrates of Chios, Archimedes, and Antiphon the Sophist crazy with jealousy. It would have had Aristophanes laughing. Simon went insane and was locked away. He died a silly old man.

 Hum, repeated Tom.

Larry Caomhánach

Short stories


          I think red, he said.

          White, she said.

          White I don’t think so, he said.

          Red gives me heart burn, she said.

          Fine white, he said. And bloody fish.

          Jesus Christ, she said. I’ll just have two hard-boiled eggs.

—————— Cut ———————————-

          Did the hard-boiled egg go into the anus and the soft-boiled egg into the vagina? she said.

          I think the hard-boiled egg went into the vagina and the soft-boiled egg into the anus, he said.

           So, Marcelle escapes the sanatorium and hangs herself, she said.

          And Simone and the narrator have wild sex under the seeping corpse, he said.

Paul Kavanagh