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     My Dearest Lady Astrid, I find myself most distraught by your message of yester evening; could it have indeed been your intent to click “send”? This recent missive has my heart racing two fold, in anticipation of your intimate embrace of a certainty as well in fear of reprisal at the hands of your exceptionally violent, ill tempered husband (the man our dear Queen referred to as “The Bloodiest of Britain Great Berserker Bears!). You may recall that in addition to being your somewhat hot-headed, fiercely possessive, and rabidly vengeful husband, the Brigadier is also my commanding officer!
     Emailing me here in care of the Royal Fusileers is wildly dangerous as I am sure your husband, should he learn of our meetings, our rencontres romantiques may we say, would hesitate not an instant to spend the coppers of my life’s blood here and now upon these dry desert sands. It was yourself, dear lady, with your ever present sharp cruel wit who mockingly observed that my bold and manly courage faded to mere vapors beyond you chamber doors, so while in theory I would face a thousand deaths with saber in hand, endure any manner of hardship and depravation for but a single kiss from your lovely lips, this is not a good time.
     Fervently I wish to continue our conversation which you know I value so reverently, but please my Lady (dare I say, ... my Heart) we must be discrete for both our sakes—your womanly good reputation and my very life depend on it, to that end contact me solely my love at Foofie.LeFrett@secretsweethearts.com this, I beg of you.

The Neighborhood
Doug Mathewson

     Detective Sergeant “Palone” Ortiz bristled with a dark and quiet anger at this latest indignity, this new injustice. Juannie Rodriquez was a little crazy sure, but they had been partners working street crimes for three years with no problems up to him being placed on suspension last week for shooting an asshole who deserved it majorly.
     Having a stranger, some “Detective Patrick Michael O’Shawnasea” to watch his back on the street was not a good feeling, and the Captain was still too pissed off at Juannie, to hear anything Palone had to say. “Why from way cross town, why him, why a guy so, so white?” muttered Palone, and with a rising voice continued “I swear if he makes one fucking taco joke, one fucking Speedy Gonzales crack, I’ll looe it and won’t be responsible for what happens.”
     Next day as the tension in their unmarked car climbing higher and higher till the new guy let out a long slow sigh, shook his head and said “Man, you know.... I could never stand to live around here like you people do, never, just couldn’t deal with it!”
     As Palone considered several extremely violent options, O’Shawnasea continued, “I mean, look at these Spanish women, just look, - their eyes, how they smile, and ohmygod how they wear their jeans - I’d never get anything done falling in love, what three times every block”, leaving Detective Sergeant Ortiz to chuckle and reply “Yeah, sure, maybe—it’s just a neighborhood thing I guess ....... I never noticed.”

Doug Mathewson continues his love/hate relationship with reality from his home in eastern Connecticut. He favors hats, and rarely turns down desert. His work most recently has appeared in The Boston Literary Magazine, Cezzane's Carrot, Gloom Cupboard, and Poor Mojo's Almanac(k). Sporadically he is grasped by fits and starts of inspiration, equally he can be swept away into infinite worlds of busy-signals, radio static, and elevator-music. To read more, comment, or just poke-around please visit his current project, True Stories From Imaginary Lives, at www.little2say.org.

The 112-Pound Champ
Sarahlyn S. Bruck

      Sweating, Lindsay glowered at her plate. Grilled chicken chunks, guacamole, black beans, long-grain rice flecked with cilantro, jack cheese, and tomatillo sauce spilled out of the jagged edges of the tortilla. It looked like a severed limb. The empty fork dangled over the plate as Lindsay attempted to summon the fortitude to finish the damned thing. Her boyfriend hovered over her, rubbing her shoulders. She twisted and shook him off.
      “C’mon, honey. Do this.” Brent clapped his girlfriend on the back a little too hard as he took his seat on the bench and faced her. He pursed his lips, cocked his chin, and pointed to the burrito. “Focus,” he said with ignorant determination.
      She scowled—pep talks weren’t her thing. Lindsay didn’t take her eyes off the burrito log. She’d already eaten two 2-pounders, and if she finished the third within the hour, she’d be the first customer to win the promised $1,000, t-shirt, and free burritos from Mexicali Cantina for life. Four minutes left.
      “You’re almost there, baby. You’ve got this!”
      Her fork wouldn’t budge. Brent sighed dramatically and looked to the ceiling. “What are you waiting for?” Lindsay imagined he was almost a Greek epic: gnashing his teeth and pulling his hair.
      She sipped her water. A drop of sweat emerged from her temple and cruised down her cheek and landed onto the burrito. Finish it, she thought. Finish it and then dump him.
      Six bites, and it was over.

Sarahlyn lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, daughter, and cockapoo and teaches writing and literature at a local community college. Her work has appeared or is appearing in editions of Flashshot, Flash Me Magazine, PicFic, and 2011’s Daily Flash Anthology. If it weren’t for Peet’s, she wouldn’t be awake right now.

Sophomoric Wisdom
Richard Fein

     In 1961, lower Manhattan, five blocks south of 14th street there was a used book store. Even now my nose can sniff the musty smell of the books that were read and the readers that read them. An erudite stink haunted my teenage nose, and the redolence of it all still brings dusty tears to my eyes. Sandwiched between the claustrophobic aisles hunkered a congregation of loiterers and bookworms: old worn-shoe socialists who actually read Schopenhauer and Kant, middle aged ma’ams who passed the time with out-of-print romances, homeless refugees from January who sought warmth among yellowing literary leaves. And in the sandwiching shelves loitered actual worms in books. On those bent wooden stacks the towering tomes of worldly wisdom wobbled and threatened avalanches of knowledge upon all our heads. I was a college sophomore among gray hair streetwise seniors and so green amid the moldy green leather-bound books. I was a denizen of the used magazine bin, the cheapest corner of all, where an old Life Magazine heralded an end-of-century utopia while some Elijah editor of The Daily Worker prophesied a revolution by 2001. And I, like the other killers of time, killed the bookstore with much browsing and little buying. My fingers touched old comics and tossed them back into the warped wooden bin. With my sophomoric 60s wisdom I never bought those wares which languished in that enlightened emporium for months. For even with a four-for-fifty cents special, the first edition Superman and three early edition Crypt Keepers were worth a only a token and large coke which I needed to quench my dust-dry mouth while catching a subway back to Brooklyn.

The poets that have influenced Richard Fein the most are those of the New York and deep images school. Whatever they do, he does the opposite. Also, those poets recommended by the literary scholar, living white male, and general know-it-all Harold Bloom, he doesn't read. This leaves him with little to read and few to emulate. Basically he gazes into a mirror and copies down his rantings and ravings. He has been published in many of the finest literary journals, such as : Gulf Stream Magazine, 96inc Mississippi Review, ELF: Eclectic Literary Forum Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Sonoma Mandala Literary Review , Ellipsis, Roanoke Review, El Dorado Poetry Review, and now Boston Literary magazine. This poet of the Western World (except New Jersey) requests that all hate mail, communiques of derision, marriage proposals and meretricious solicitations of his person be sent to Shakespearemoveover@idt.net.

     It expired today with the freesias in bloom and my wife's new sundress in every mirror. With a dandelion pausing in an old wheelbarrow, then taking off again across the yard. With a bird's shadow down the brightness of a clothesline sheet. With the sway of foxtails brushing our sleeping cat. With a bee at the mouth of a soda bottle and sweet bubbles rising to the top. With that look, as you turned to smile at me—the accordion fold of your shadow up the sun-warmed steps.

Robert Scotellaro's flash fiction and poetry have appeared in: Fast Forward (A Collection of Flash Fiction, Volumes 2 & 3), Boston Literary Magazine, Dogzplot, Willows Wept Review, mud luscious, Ghoti, 971 Menu, The Laurel Review, Storyscape, Storyscape Journal Anthology, Fiction at Work Anthology, Battered Suitcase, Six Sentences, 6S Anthology Volume 3, Mad Swirl, Eclectic Flash, Macmillan collections and others. He is the author of several literary chapbooks, two books of poetry, and the recipient of Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. Born and raised in Manhattan, he currently lives in California with his wife.

     Whenever I go into town, I like to carry a little bit of cash, so I stuff two or three million in my front pockets. I don’t like credit cards, not at today’s interest rates. With my long straggly hair, torn jeans, and scuffed-up high-top sneakers, I like to get on the #7 bus, so everybody—all my fellow passengers—can get a first-hand, up-close, glimpse of a multi-millionaire, even though they probably don’t think they’re looking at one, as they do so. Later, when I get off at my stop, at Front St., I saunter down the aisle toward the rear exit, then down the steps of the bus, and out into the Spring sunlight, which follows me wherever I go, regardless of the season. The sun favors me, and I can feel its warmth shimmering its way into the top of my head, where, from there it radiates out into my entire soul. Of course, the money doesn’t matter that much to me, but it sure makes it a lot easier to bribe the orderlies, so that they let me back on the ward, and don’t tell anyone I’ve been out once again, having the time of my life—for free.

     I’m driving around LA, in my blood red ‘94 Camaro, trying to drive on every freeway, before I die. My teeth are crooked as pretzels. I’m a pickpocket. If you watch me closely, you can tell, because whenever I get off the freeway to go to the grocery store or to the mini-mart to buy cheez puffs, or a lottery ticket, or pay for gum, I pull out somebody else’s wallet. I’ve got 700 of ‘em, and not one driver’s license photo looks like me. Every single one has a picture of somebody with straight teeth, happy as hellfire to be legally licensed to operate a motor vehicle in the Golden State—even when it’s quaking like a drunk's hands and burning like lit gasoline.

Brad Rose was raised in southern California and lives in Boston. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Third Wednesday, Off the Coast, Tattoo Highway, Imagination and Place, Boston Literary Magazine, FutureCycle Poetry, Six Sentences, SleetMagagazine.com, Monkeybicycle, and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at: bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com. His tragicomic, serial novel about love and irony in contemporary Hollywood, written in six-sentence chapters, “Lola Loves Richard” is in progress at: lola-loves-richard.blogspot.com.

Dawn Baptism
Jesse DeLong

     Riding in an easter-egg blue Buick, you pistoned your gaze towards the slight trail of hair over your dates left eye, the way he wore watches on both wrists, his lips like a vacuum. He un-loaded you at your father’s house where a lone light shone over the welcome mat. On the curb you drove eyes over his car. He shifted into reverse. The rising sun reflected on his hood, and you caught a ray of palm, waving, as he heat-waved the tires down the pavement. In your father’s yard you hosed cum off your inner thigh, careful to lift the skirt’s hem, and to stand close enough to the fence and far enough from the window so nobody could catch you performing this dawn baptism. This was 1985. The lowering end of a second-year-in-a-row record summer. You were only seventeen, a couple semesters left. And how old was the man with the hoover lips? The post bar-hour driver with Pall Mall kisses and a money clip. This man would only re-flare in a restaurant months later when you were going to your prom, and pregnant, and had been abandoned but for your father. Your stomach stretched your dress like a promise of poverty. Your date was admiring his eyes in a spoon, and you saw him by the back door, hiding his face in a menu. Though the hose felt like a first-baby-tooth removed, the sun brimming through its bra on the horizon, and the flowers opening up, each individually, to tell you they would never tell you what you would find out, eventually, for yourself.

Jesse DeLong is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. His writing has appeared in Illya's Honey, Poetry Quarterly, Slash Pine's 2010 Festival Anthology, 751 Magazine, and others. Curly Head Press, run by Sonja Greentree Rossow, recently released a limited edition, hand-bound run of his chapbook, Tearings and Other Poems. sgrossow@yahoo.com.

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