kate folk

scott daughtridge

jeremy kniola

jon morgan davies

jackie doyle

damian dressick

robert scotellaro

LAST FIRST DATE - kate folk

You meet him at the gym. He asks you out while you’re wiping the molded black arms of the elliptical machine.

Two nights later you’re at the Olive Garden and he’s mad that the waitress isn’t bringing your salad refill fast enough. He yells; you stare into the abyss of your minestrone. The shell noodles stare back, shiny and forlorn in a red, salty bath.

Later, at a bar, he tells you Ted Bundy is his hero. You are unfazed, accustomed to the shock tactics of small, powerless men.

He gives you a ride home. Parked in front of your building, he grabs your wrist and pulls. You’ve readied the pepper spray. While he screams, clenched like a croissant around the steering wheel, you feel guilty. He was probably only trying to kiss you goodnight. 

You let him come in to wash his eyes with the spray attachment on your kitchen sink.

In bed, as his thumbs press the hollow of your throat, you regret leaving the pepper spray in your purse, across an unbridgeable chasm of carpet, the most significant ten-foot span of your rapidly expiring life.

Kate Folk
The Butcher Boy
Patrick McCabe

STAY AWAY - scott daughtridge

“Grab a knife from the kitchen and follow me,” Josh said from the front door. He always sounded like he was losing his voice, like he’d been screaming in his sleep or into his pillow behind closed doors, wide awake with tear filled eyes. Whatever it was, it made me respect him less. Instead of getting up, I mocked him in my head. I knew where he was going and why he wanted me to come. We had told Kenny, our neighbor, to stay away from our house, but he didn’t listen. He kept coming back later and later in the night, knocking harder and harder on our door. I don’t know why he didn’t just leave us alone.

“This is what animals do,” I said to Josh as I grabbed the long steel knife with the wooden handle from the drawer. I felt the edge with my thumb. It needed sharpening, but it would do for the time being.

“We are animals,” Josh said in his strained voice.

I closed the door behind us and said “that’s true.”

The air was sticky and the sun was directly overhead. I hummed a song and noticed that our shadows were nowhere to be seen.

Scott Daughtridge
Donal Ray Pollock

RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW - jeremy kniola

I’m flirting with this girl at the bar when a popular song I recognize from high school plays over the speakers. You know that nineties hit by that one Jesus something band. Memories of grunge, PlayStation, and The Real World strum a chord in my mind. Back when CD’s and pagers were all the rage.   

“Man, I haven’t heard this song in forever,” I said. 

The girl bent her ear toward the speaker revealing a twelve-gauge plug. She wore her dark hair fashioned in a retro mullet. The polka dot dress she wore captured that ‘vintage style.’ She was nostalgic for records and Polaroids, but shared a mutual obsession for technology. She had a new age-y name like Sierra or Rainee.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song,” she said.  

“How have you not heard this song? It was the jam in ninety-one.”

This girl giggled, blushed. “I was born in ninety-one.”

Jeremy Kniola
Amelia Gray

FAREWELL PARTY - jon morgan davies

Everyone was drunk by the time the women started taking off their tops and shooting Polaroids of their boobs. The party was for Charlene. She wasn't going away, just quitting, but that hadn't stopped anyone from coming for one last farewell.

Brian, the only guy in the room, was asked to leave. He told the men in the backyard what was happening. The men went to the windows, but the shades were closed. The women were giggling.

Charlene's husband was away on business. "I hate that jerk," she told the women, half serious.

She held up her blouse, showed them the burn spot next to her navel.

"He did that?" Rachael asked.

"Sex," Charlene said. "I like kinky."

Bea showed a hickey she had on her nipple, Trish a bruise on her hip, Lucille a welt on her behind.

"I've had it with men," Charlene teased.

"We all have," said Bea.

They took more pictures, drained more bottles. The men peered at the blinds, beat on the doors, grew restless and heavy on booze.

Jon Morgan Davies
The Miracles of Antichrist
Selma Lagerlof

BRIEF VISION - jackie doyle

She unhooked her bra and turned to the window. Across the street, the red neon lights on the strip club marquee flashed: "Pussy Galore! Girls, Girls, Girls!" Her breasts glowed in the rosy light. A sailor exiting the club glimpsed her in the window above for just a moment before she stepped backward into the dark shadows of her room. He would think of her often in the months that followed. He thought she was all that was missing in his life. He knew he would never find her again.

Jackie Doyle
Susan Steinberg

LISTING - damian dressick

Visiting after karaoke night at Shaunessy’s, I find my mother loaded in the living room. Two used fentanyl patches sit on a DVD case on the coffee table. Foil-lined bags lie crumpled on the floor next to the sofa. She stares at season two of Weeds. Headphone cables run from her ears to my brother’s laptop.
"Karen," she asks me. "Do you think I look like Mary Louise Parker?" She is sipping jug wine from a coffee mug.
There are things I want her to be healthy enough to hear:
1. You don’t look a damn thing like Mary Louise Parker.
2. You’d feel a lot better if you stopped feeling sorry for yourself and act more like the 100 pound ball of threat who TASER-ed the vice principal the afternoon he paddled my sister.
3. You were the one who swore you’d never let yourself be defined by a label like "cancer patient."
At the very goddamned least I want her to be ferociously angry that I’ve been driving or to tell me to stop thinking of myself—that she’s the one who’s dying.
"Nah," I say, finally, deciding I’ve got to start somewhere. "Mary Louise Parker—that woman has a much better ass."
Damian Dressick
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia
Moshin Hamid

KEPT - robert scotellaro

I found the blow up doll crumpled under a bunch of shoes in his closet. He'd been in the home for several months and I'd managed to put off going through his stuff. The hats with a hint of that hair grease he fingered into the little that was left, the .22 rifle he showed us how to point at small animals, the binoculars he and his brother used to spy on nude hippies...

It was old and rubbery, collapsed in the corner. A stem I put to my lips to see who he'd kept company with all those years alone. She was a blonde. I tried to remember if his third or his fourth wife was a blonde.

It had a leak, maybe several. But it plumped up well enough for me to get a sense. Big breasts as he liked them. Cleopatra bangs. Wide eyes framed with black liner. And that mouth that never talked back, complained about his drinking. Bright red lipsnearly the color of that birdhouse he painted one summerso many yards, so many birds ago.
Robert Scotellaro
Ennui Prophet
Christopher Kennedy