The Ride by John Everex

They look like my sons, but they’re not. I pretend they’re driving me to town as usual, but the

radio news verifies my suspicion: there’s no way Carl would listen to that man and not shout

obscenities. At eighty-two, I’m old enough to know leukemia ain’t gonna’ kill me, despite it

running wild through my withered body. No, it’ll be my heart, as it was for my pa and his before

him. I’ve done well getting this far – it’s further than they did. The engine shifts as we drop a

gear, approaching the turnpike, the freeway continuing on toward the southern cities. We’re

headed toward the open space of the mountains as I thought. I try to examine the boys in the

front, but my eyes haven’t worked in years. They’re soft focus, which is romantic and cosy they

say, but I can’t see shit.

I left my glasses at my place.

Utopia Mansions it’s called – my place – a bit like a cheap motel, but full of old shufflers

and nosers. I’d wanted a beachside residence with a view of the sea, but I got rooms smelling of

old man’s piss and cleaning chemicals. My home isn’t much different from the hospital mom

pushed me out into. Liz is laughing at me, wherever she is – she died ten years ago of lung

cancer, a lifetime of smoking and a slow death being strangled by the shit inside her lungs – but

at least she doesn’t have to live at Utopia Mansions.

The car slows further, the mountains still a purple bruise. We pass a rest area, a camper

van spilling people from inside. Kids. A dog. We used to do that as a family. “We used to do

that,” I say, my voice croaking. They ignore me and I feel like shouting. But I remind myself,

they are not my sons and I’m not going to give them any satisfaction. I stare out of the window

as mute as the dead, trying to get my brain in gear. I used to be top notch, to matter, until the

agency made cuts and our department was no longer needed. Severance they called it, a pension

and a long slide into retirement.

I look for indications of who they are – the similarities with Carl and John are uncanny –

they dress the same. Similar haircuts. Of an age. New clothes. Both of them. That’s the thing, my

sons never went for fashion; thrift store or second-hand was their style. These two are dressed

up to look like my sons, but wearing new clothes, judging by the creases in the never-worn-

before shirt. The way fake Carl holds the wheel too; his hands are uptight and professional, not

the slouch that Carl takes, one hand always itching to hold a cigarette like his mum.

And he’s not smoking.

And they still say nothing.

As we pull into a petrol station, I see the restrooms,

knowing this might be my only chance.

John started inventing stories as a child and haven’t stopped. John writes on Twitter (@EverexJohn) and publish work regularly on his blog (http://johneverex.blog ) as well as through chanillo.com His writing comes in various forms and lengths, including microfiction, flash fiction and short stories. John also write poetry, being especially fond of haiku. Currently, he is working on a new novel, which will be published in 2020. In addition to writing, I am a father, husband and teacher and currently live in the south of England

Poetry: No and No by Norb Aikin

This is the noise that keeps me awake,
the tie-dyed sentiments flung
from dirt that can’t be un-dug,
and this is me saying no
to a wish that “no” isn’t an answer to.
The curl, pulled straight.
The antidote, failed.

Nothing good can come of this
and that’s why I’m here.

This is the lookalike and this is the duplicate
and I am the difference
that goes unnoticed
until it’s too late.
There’s something, and nothing,
and something from nothing,
but I walk on the outline of the void-
I won’t fall in from the push;
my recoil does all the work for me.

Let’s not and say we did
before we have to pretend,
or at least until we get caught.

This is the noise that keeps me awake
and this is the escape I can’t seem to make
when I least expect it
but that’s what I’m doing now
and no one’s gonna tell me otherwise
even if they wanted to.
Like a joke not worth explaining
to people who don’t understand laughter,
I can’t help myself from myself.

Norb Aikin has been published by Eliezer Tristan Publishing and uses his time wisely on Twitter (@aikinNorb). His first poetry collection, 100, has been positively reviewed widely and his second, Mutants, recently was released for Kindles with a paperback  It’s a slim follow-up to 100 and features some older material along with his current WIP. Look for the full release of Also Mutants in the Spring of 2020.

Poetry/Short Story: Cash Card by Mark Anthony Smith

CASH CARD 

 

Alex Maxwell leaves his house on Morrill Street at 12.20pm. He always does, like
clock-work, for the 2 pm shift at the aerosol factory. It’s a comfortable job and they
have a laugh. He’s worked his way up over four years and gets left alone by The
Management now.
He crosses the busy road. Alex doesn’t see the Police sign asking witnesses to come
forward with details about a car accident last month. Not many do come forward.
But that’s a different story altogether.
He walks towards the betting shop and steps around a bundle on the path. He
doesn’t take much notice. The shops have their wheelie bins out for collections. It’s
Monday. He shoulders the betting shop glass door open as be rummages through his
jacket pocket. His cash card isn’t there. “Damn!” Alex panics. He checks the time on
his mobile phone. It’s 12.32 pm on Monday 20 th January 2020. Where did he last have
his card?
He last had it yesterday as he withdrew some money out at the bank. He questions
the odds of his card still being in the cash machine or of being handed into the bank.
‘Someone will have pocketed it.’ There’s no chance of it being found. He’ll have to
cancel it at the bank. He leaves the betting shop. He still has plenty of time to pop in
at the branch. Alex worries about his balance as he dashes. He had barely registered
the body he stepped around to avoid. From the corner of his eye, it could have
passed for bin bags, perhaps. He dashes past the homeless man sitting outside the
convenience store. There’s a queue in the bank.
Alex is fidgeting in line. There’s only ever one cashier serving. The older lady is
telling her life story as she’s being seen to. A child in a pram, before Alex, starts
crying. He doesn’t make eye contact with the child’s Mother. He feels an anger
growing in his chest as the older customer rambles.
Another staff member makes her way to the pedestal by the door. Alex goes over.
He doesn’t acknowledge her name badge. “I need to cancel my card,” he fumbles.
“Your name?” Alex tells the staff member his name, “Mr. Alex Maxwell,” he states.
Nadia replies, “Just one minute, please.” She heads out the back. Alex is sure his card
is missing. People aren’t as honest as they used to be. Nadia checks his date of birth
and address. “You’re a Pisces,” she smiles. Then she hands him the card. “Someone
handed it in yesterday afternoon.”
Alex is relieved. He notices how bright the sun is for an afternoon in January. He is
heading for the bus. The child is still crying. He goes over to the pram and drops to
his knees. “Can I give him one of these?” He shows the Mother a small cake from his packed lunch. She smiles and nods. Alex unwraps the bun and the little boy stops
crying. There’s plenty of time to catch the bus.

 

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pink Plastic House and Eerie River. Hearts of the matter is available on Amazon.
Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Twitter: MarkAnthonySm16

Poetry: Failed Hypothesis by David Ralph Lewis

We triple checked the results.
Today, with it’s heavy skies,
is an impossibility. We are

between ourselves, stuck in
the gaps between electrons
without any observation,
that nebulous space
of possibility, despair
and hope merging together
to create endless static.

The charts are incoherent
the data now unreadable.
We halted the experiment
early, filled up beakers
with tears and released
chemical compounds into
the fragile atmosphere,
just to see what would happen.

All textbooks are now runes
from a lost civilisation
too poorly studied for
comprehension. Under this
fractal tree, I breathe
and try, unsuccessfully
to forget all I know.

David Ralph Lewis is a poet and short story writer based in Bristol, UK, When not writing, he enjoys dancing badly at gigs, attempting to grow vegetables and taking photos. His debut chapbook, Our Voices in the Chaos was released by Selcouth Station in October 2019. He understands a very small amount of what is going on in the world. You can follow him at www.davidralphlewis.co.uk

Poetry/Short Story by Mark Anthony Smith :A Sidewalk Romance

NPofL9GN_400x400

A Sidewalk Romance

Solid grey slabs
are sheened by the shortish
downpour that shimmers –
these blocks awash with the neon
signs that dance ‘open’
outpours in sudden puddles.
Here, there
are splashes of worn splaying
chewing gum or chalked
marks scrawling underfoot;
are they drawn to draw those niggles
away from the cracks? Perhaps,
you are shivering
or shaking that umbrella
when a weathered man or two
still holds onto values and holds
each door open. The rain
trickles down the nape –
roused by a nodding gratitude.
Shop the Spring
sale if you will for
that special occasion to
be snapped from a future lover.
Then, perhaps, later you’ll blow
to cool a green or Chai tea
and remember that we, once
hand in hand, had shared

the same hard pavement.

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. His writings have appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Pink Plastic House and Eerie River. Hearts of the matter is available on Amazon.

Facebook: Mark Anthony Smith – Author
Twitter: MarkAnthonySm16