Sunday, February 18, 2018

RAGING PRIAPUS by Cameron Kirk

All the gods were there: the gods of love, sorrow, virtue, honor and liberty, to name but a few. Among the minor deities were the god of idleness, the goddess of the draught, and the god of beards. But of all the gods none proved so unpopular, and indeed unloved, as Crepitus Ventris, the God of Flatulence.

‘I see old Crepitus somehow scammed an invite,’ scowled Priapus leaning conspiratorially on a Doric column at the edge of a magnificent god-filled pool.

His co-conspirator was Abundantia, and she was, as her name suggested, endowed with both bosom and curving hip. She expertly grabbed another goblet of wine from a passing slave. ‘I am surprised you noticed him Priapus, for you haven’t taken your eyes from my tits since we began our conversation. Perhaps you should be talking to Upis, the many breasted.’

‘I find more than two disconcerting. But why should Crepitus be here?’

‘Why should he not? He is, after all, a god, and this is a party for the gods; at least that’s what it said on my invitation.’

‘A God of Farts?’ It’s embarrassing.’

‘Well, he’s not particularly popular, if that makes you feel any better.’

‘Is he coming over here?’ asked Priapus in horror.

‘He is.’

‘Don’t come over here.’

‘He is,’ smirked Abundantia.

‘Crepitus Ventris,’ smiled Priapus his tone merry but brittle. ‘How are you?’

‘Magnificent,’ said a smiling Crepitus. ‘And a magnificent party. Priapus, you’re looking huge as usual, and Abundantia, you swell in beauty every time I see you. Or is that Priapus swelling in beauty every time he sees you? Ha ha ha.’

‘Got any new followers, Crepitus?’ asked Priapus with one eyebrow raised in faux casualness.

‘Sadly no, it’s not the most glamorous of reputations I hold. Very few pray to the God of Flatulence before battle, or making love, or before anything really.’

‘Ah, shame,’ said Priapus.

‘But on the bright side, I have had news from on high, as they say.’

‘Oh?’

‘I am to join the pantheon,’ beamed Crepitus Ventris.

There was a moment’s stilted silence.

‘The pantheon?’ asked Priapus, unable to keep the incredulity out of his voice. 

‘Yes, Zeus himself has asked that I join the major gods. I was quite astounded, and honored of course, magnificently honored. Ah, I see Sterquilinus, I must tell him the news. Excuse me.’

Crepitus Ventris bowed with a wrist flourish, farted, and took his leave.

Priapus waited till Crepitus was out of earshot. ‘There must be a mistake at head office,’ hissed Priapus under his breath. ‘They’re putting farts in the pantheon now?! I’m the God of Cock, for God’s sake! I should be in the pantheon, not some whining, minor deity!

‘Calm down Priapus,’ said Abundantia.

‘They’ve promoted farts over cocks! How can I stay calm?Abundantia had begun to regret engaging Priapus in conversation in such a public platform. ‘Gods are starting to look,’ she said, trying not to meet anyone’s eye. ‘Your rage is impotent, Priapus. Let it go.’

‘Not impotent,’ grunted Priapus and Abundantia noticed with horror his growing erection.

‘Control yourself,’ warned Abundantia but it was too late. A Vesuvian eruption splattered her breasts and face, blasted back off the Doric column behind her, and rained down on the assorted party relaxing in the pool. Some of the guests expressed their disgust at the salty precipitation and exited the pool, but the majority simply shrugged it off as an unexpectedly early start to the evening’s frivolities.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ apologized Priapus sheepishly.

Abundantia slapped him across the face.

‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times,’ she said. ‘Wait for me.’

BATTLE OF THE BANDS by Caleb Echterling

A yellow stream splashed over the collection of tubas, French horns, and trumpets. “That’s what I think of your shitty band,” said the source of the cascade.

“Hey, stop mixing your metaphors,” Humberto said. “And quit taking a leak on our instruments. Somebody’s going to catch hoof and mouth disease.”

The last drops rolled into the bell of a trombone. A zipper returned to its fully upright and locked position. “Whatever you say, loser. Everyone knows you freaks don’t have a chance. We’re winning this Battle of the Bands.”

The stern look left Humberto’s face as soon as the sprinkler system walked away. The on-ramp for his tear ducts swelled with traffic. Sally slung an arm around his shoulders. “Don’t worry about him. He’s just a big bully.”

“Yeah, a big bully with the best rhythm section in the county.” Humberto wiped his eyes on Sally’s shirt. “He’s right. We don’t have a chance. Unless we can find an ear trumpet player, we won’t even live up to our name.” Humberto dropped a window-rattling sniffle. He blew his nose on Sally’s sleeve. “How can we have ten butt tubas, but not a single ear trumpet?”

Sally threw Humberto into a headlock and tussled the wad of phlegm into his hair. “Why didn’t you say so? I can fill in on ear trumpet. It can’t be that different from a nipple sax."

Humberto sobbed. “We’re doomed. You’re used to a reed. You’ll never learn how to blow on a trumpet mouthpiece in time for our performance.”

*****

Pops and whines belched from the speakers. “Next up … hey, you people shut up when I’m talking. I can wait as long as you can.” The hum of conversation and instrument tuning continued unabated. “Ah, who am I kidding? I can’t focus on anything for longer than a few seconds. It’s been like that ever since I was a kid. My teachers begged my parents to have me evaluated for ADHD. But did they listen? Hey, quit poking me with that pen! I’m getting around to it. Next up, the Every Orifice Brass Band.”

Thirty-strong musicians filed on stage, instruments protruding from bodies at odd angles like a re-enactment of a cubist masterpiece. The heft and clarity of brass harmonies painted the air. Ever-functional duct tape kept instruments attached to the smaller or more slippery orifices. One thumping version of O Sole Mio later, the crowd burst into whoops and cheers. High-fives and hugs flowed as the musicians left the stage.

*****

“We made the finals,” Sally screamed. “Who are we up against?”

“The Prancing Piccolos.”

Sally rubbed her hands together like a silent movie villain. “I remember them. They pranced about playing piccolos, right?”

“You’re thinking of The Butch Biker Band,” Humberto said. “The Prancing Piccolos were the ones firing sawed-off shotguns.”

“Ugh, those guys were terrible. Kept a good beat, but they couldn’t carry a melody even if you sewed handles on it. We’re a shoo-in.”

Humberto shook his head. “Not so fast. The rules change for the finals. Instead of playing music, the bands square off in a fight to the death. Using their instruments as weapons.”

Sally collapsed into a weeping heap of no-twitch muscle fiber. “We’re done for.”

Humberto hitched his pants up to his belly button, and ground his boot into the dirt. “Get up. We’re not beaten yet.”

*****

The Every Orifice Brass Band and The Prancing Piccolos traded soul-scorching glares across a stage shorn of its usual amplifying electronics. An air horn wailed. The Prancing Piccolos clicked ammunition into their shotguns as they marched lockstep.

“Now!” Humberto shouted. Band members released their spit valves, and blew like it was the crescendo of the 1812 Overture. Gobs of translucent, or brown, or milky goo peppered their foes, who, between bouts of gagging, vomiting, and pratfalls, threw down their shotguns and fled the stage. The Every Orifice Brass Band, in color-coordinated HAZMAT suits, linked arms and sent legs flying askew in a poor approximation of a kickline, which flung bodily fluids into the audience. Somewhere, Gallagher smiled.

PESKY PROBLEM by Laura Beasley

She never locked the gate or door of her mountain home. She welcomed visitors in her retirement. She’d always locked the dark city apartment. Now she planted flowers and vegetables. Her only companion was her cat.

“Eating sweets will make life sweeter.”

She made candy. Every batch enough to feed family or friends. But she didn’t have any family and hadn’t made new friends yet. She sampled two pieces and boxed the rest. She baked dozens of cookies. She filled her home with treats. She glued them on the outside of the cottage.

She heard nibbling at night. She swept away rodent droppings. She replaced the missing candies. She glued cookies on the shutters. Cats catch mice and rats. A candy house will attract children.

The chewing and gnawing woke her. The cat hid under the covers. The woman napped morning and afternoon. Birds pecked at the house. She hosed off the guano and replaced the missing candy and cookies.

The cycle continued for weeks, for months.

The cat escaped and led hikers to the scene. Rats and birds had eaten the sweets from the cottage. The woman was dead on the porch. Her eyes pecked by birds.

EULOGY by Andrew J. Hogan


We gather today to celebrate the life of Woodrow Jacklum, a brother, son, cousin, friend and neighbor, a man many of us thought God had not given any special endowments. Yesterday, the chairman of the North American Moose Conference faxed me his organization’s official regrets over Woody’s passing: “Please inform the family of Wildlife Biology Assistant Woodrow E. Jacklum of the Isle Royale National Park that he has been belatedly, and regretfully posthumously, inducted into the Order of Alces, notwithstanding his having attained only associate membership status during his lifetime due to the lack of an advanced science degree. The emerging field of bull moose fertility was molded almost exclusively by Woody’s innovative hands. Woody’s untimely passing came while saving Morris, Isle Royale’s alpha bull moose for the last decade, who had been injured following a confrontation with a Homeland Security vehicle on Angleworm Lake Road. Morris was Woody’s principal research subject, contributing more than 20 ejaculate samples. Woody’s heroic actions to save Morris from the jaws of the East Pack timber wolves resulted in his own death, partial dismemberment and closed casket ceremony. No other wildlife biologist, regardless of educational attainment, has even collected viable sperm samples from a free-range moose, or any other cervid, for that matter. Unscientific squeamishness over Woody’s research focus, combined the secrecy surrounding his specimen collection methods (“to protect the moose from abuse,” Woody would say), delayed well-deserved recognition of the significance of his achievements. Woody agreed to write about his specimen collection methods for Moose Call; such an article which would have almost certainly won him the Distinguished Moose Biologist Award at the next scientific meeting. Now ill fortune has deprived the North American Moose Conference, and posterity, of a full understanding of Woody’s field techniques.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

WHY THEY LOST THEIR DEPOSIT by Lee Blevins

Stephanie sat her map to the side. She stood up, walked across the room, placed her nose against the paint, reared back, and slammed her forehead into the wall. There were no pictures on it to jilt, fortunately.

Robert looked over at Miranda and asked her.

Miranda shrugged.

"It's part of her process," she said.

Stephanie turned around and walked back to her chair and sat back down again. Then she picked up her map and started her search anew. Her forehead was red but it wasn't bleeding.

Robert and Miranda weren't watching the television very intently. Miranda kept checking her Facebook feed and Robert kept checking Miranda's Facebook feed. He also kept softly rubbing his left leg against her right leg in hopes that he could start a fire. But he wasn't a very good boy scout.

One episode ended and another began. Richard went to the refrigerator to get something to drink but the girls didn't keep anything in there except for a pair of frosted booties that they took turns wearing in the height of summer. He had the most minor foot fetish, so he lingered looking at them for a couple seconds. Then he shut the door wistfully.

Stephanie waited until Richard sat back down before she stood up. She was halfway across the room before she remembered that she was still holding the map, so she backtracked and put it down on the chair where shortly before her butt had been. (Booty booty). Then she went to the wall and bashed her head against it.

"That can't be good for her, right?"

"Maybe," said Miranda.

Stephanie turned and placed one palm against the wall and shook her head at it. Then she went back to the couch and sat down. She remembered to pick up the map first but I didn't remember to describe that.
The tv show was suddenly very melodramatic. Miranda couldn't help but pay more attention to it because she had always been taught that you needed to listen closely when a nun is frying bacon.

Richard wanted to pull her close to him and tell her that she was the type of girl he wished he’d fingered in middle school.

Stephanie held her finger tips poised over one particularly suspicious x on the map. Her head hurt and her ears were ringing and she was late to the acid test but she had spent far too many seconds of her life searching for the spot to give up now. She was near, though, she could smell it, like the overall odor at an orgy.

Miranda shifted in her seat and settled the rounded point of her shoulder into Richard's remarkably dry armpit. The proximity set his leg a-tappin' and the friction caused a small spark between their kneecaps. Richard put his own fire out first and then he kept his hand on Miranda's knee for an indecent amount of time.

Stephanie flared her nostrils. She was distracted for a moment from her emotional state because she had never flared her nostrils before and she felt that it felt quite nice. But the mysterious map was staring at her even once her nose had relaxed.

So she stood again and went across the room. This time she took the map with her because it has grown increasingly annoying having to describe her putting it down and picking it up again. She considered the wall for some time. Her forehead had left a nice little indention there, like a tectonic plate that, if licked, could cause lead poisoning.

"Stephanie," said Miranda, "I don't know if that's a good i-"

Stephanie bashed her head against the wall again but she made a mistake in her head tilt calculations and managed to break her nose. The previous indention spread up and out across the wall, running from the corner to the open door frame, and then the top half splintered into a dozen asbestos-filled chunks.
Dark dust swirled around Stephanie and several cough drops were needed but it soon cleared and left, revealed to them all, a view into a secret room that had long been boarded up. There was all manner of treasure and trinket therein, as well as one particularly attractive, toboggan wearing skeleton sitting astride a seesaw.
Stephanie looked back at Miranda and Richard with a fey smile. Her nose was bleeding profusely.

"I knew I'd get somewhere eventually," she said.


THE SUPERMARKET CLERK by Eric Suhem

“Well Oscar, your qualifications are a good fit for this position. Welcome to the supermarket team!” says the hiring manager at the conclusion of the interview. Oscar is just happy to have a job.  
Day 1

On his first day of work, Oscar is stacking apples in the produce section, when he is called into the dried noodle aisle for a cleanup. “He was such a nice boy,” says an elderly woman of the fallen Mafioso, sprawled in a pool of blood, a knife in his back and a box of lasagna noodles in his hand. Oscar cleans up the aisle with an extra-large mop.
Day 2

Oscar is informed that a technician will be repairing the cooling system beneath the meat section of the supermarket. During the process, the technician sticks his arm out amidst the packages of hamburger and chicken, attempting to connect a thermostat. A couple with cannibalistic tendencies and a shopping cart full of limbs, appears and quickly severs the arm. They toss it into the shopping cart, mumbling purposefully about coupons. Oscar is called in to clean up the blood that is obscuring the price labels on the hamburger packages.

Day 3

Oscar observes the customer Mrs. Seed immediately. She seems to have a strange power about her. Mrs. Seed moves quickly to the produce section of the supermarket, flower seeds falling out of her hair. “I could relate to Mrs. Seed more effectively if she didn’t have an apricot lung,” thinks the manager of the produce section, who has a peach pit for a heart, and a ripe cantaloupe brain. As he tends to a stack of kumquats, the manager slips on a seed and falls, cracking his head open on the linoleum floor of the supermarket, blood mixing with the cantaloupe rind. Mrs. Seed takes an apricot breath, and moves to the next aisle.
“Oscar, cleanup in aisle 6,” says the intercom speaker.
Day 4

A customer named Hugo walks the supermarket aisles in a black cape, leaving vibrations of evil in each aisle, causing lettuce to wilt and milk to curdle. The recently deceased produce section manager has been replaced by a new manager of the produce section. He approaches Hugo, and tells him to stop making the lettuce wilt. Hugo stares in response, inflicting dark rays of menace, causing the new produce section manager to explode.

After cleaning up the detonated produce section manager, Oscar smokes a cigarette outside with a coworker. “You know, this is a strange supermarket filled with death,” says Oscar.
“Yes, but the pay is good,” says the co-worker, who has just cleaned up a double homicide in aisle 3.

After work, Oscar goes home to a small chaotic apartment. “Oscar, can you help me catch the bird and return it to its cage?” asks Oscar’s endearingly misshapen wife Oona, who is chasing the frantic escaped bird around the living room. Oona is constantly bringing home new pets, and the bird has been a recent addition to the household. Before that she brought home cats, hamsters, and turtles. Oscar chases the bird around the apartment in joyous pursuit, feeling a heightened appreciation for all the life swirling around him at home, after being around so much death at work.
Day 5

Oscar arrives at work to find another produce section manager is dead, lying in a pool of blood near the eggplants. Before he can clean up the gore, Oscar is called into the office of the store manager, who says, “Oscar, I just wanted to let you know that you’re doing a great job, and we’re considering you for promotion to the position of produce section manager. Keep up the good work!”


RUPERT’S IMPORTANT MISSION by John Gerard Fagan

On a fine winter’s evening, Rupert was in his tree house staring at the sky. A hangover gripped his body. His legs felt wet and stingy – pissed himself again. Too many brandy and apple juices at Murf the pigeon’s leaving party that afternoon. He coughed and a string of sour vomit dripped out, but luckily he managed to sook it back before it touched the ground. He took a swig from the emergency gin and everything became clear. He pulled on his five-X hat, slipped his hoofs into four boots and climbed out. In a dream, a mission was given to him by an angel. He finished the gin in nine gulps and galloped off into the night.

Rupert arrived at his local time-travel station a little after nine. It was empty except for Terry, a homeless pirate lying by the heater. Terry was sporting the same piss-stained jeans look as Rupert. Terry threw him a ‘piss brothers’ glance and followed it with a thumbs up.

Rupert was scanned, and after a few seconds a ticket popped out.

Name: Rupert. Species: Giraffe cowboy. Previous trips: Eight.

You are authorised for travelling.

“Where this time, hun,” Carla, the purple-haired gypsy said from behind the processing desk.

“Hawaii, July 5th 1961.”

“A mission?”

“Well, I’m jest takin a gift back to one of my heroes.”

“Is that right?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s right. I had a visitation earlier this evening.”

“Who visited you?”

“Toby.”

“Toby?”

“Yes, ma’am – an angel called Toby. He looked like a reindeer or a sneaky camel, but he told me he was an angel from heaven. Luckily, I woke up remembering my mission.”

Carla looked at Rupert like he was an idjit. He leaned in closer and almost lost his footing.

“My mission is most important. If I don’t do it, Toby said there’s a possibility the world might cease to exist.”

“Tell me. I can keep a secret.”

Rupert closed one eye, and took another step forward. “You sure?”

Carla nodded, eyes widening. Blue varicose veins squirmed all over her now visible ankles.

2

“Well he…” Rupert cleared his throat. “See—”

Terry was standing beside him.

“Shoo now. We’re having a private conversation,” Carla said. Terry smiled and held a finger in the air.

“Did you get my blood, Rupert? I sent you a cup of my blood,” Terry said, eyes fading in and out of focus.

“Nope.”

“Well, I sent it to you last year.” Terry staggered away, shaking his head.
“I best be off now,” Rupert said.

“Ain’t you going to tell me?”

“Tell you what?”

“Your mission, hun.”

“Oh right. The thing is... well...” Rupert stopped and leaned in even closer. “I got to go back in time and give Elvis Presley the AIDS.”

“The AIDS?!”

“Shhh. Yes, ma’am, but it’s top secret.” Rupert swung his head around – the place was still empty bar Terry, who was now busy talking to his reflection in the window.

“Why?” Carla whispered.

“I ain’t real sure why, but Toby told me that if I give Elvis the AIDS, Jesus will come back.”

“As in bible Jesus?”

“Yes, ma’am. He’ll be moving into the tree house next to mine. See it’s empty now since Murf the pigeon is leaving for Mexico. In fact, Jesus will sing Blue Suede Shoes every night as a special treat jest for me. Now, wouldn’t he be the greatest neighbour ever?”

Carla raised an eyebrow. “You drunk, hun?”

“A little. But I’m thinking clearly. Look here, I’ve got an AIDS rifle that will do the job.”

“That jest looks like an empty bottle of gin.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m going to throw it at him. If it hits him Toby reckons he’ll have the AIDS.”

Carla’s face was looking at him funny.

“You don’t believe a fella?”

“I ain’t sure.”

Rupert staggered backwards. He felt like vomiting again so would have to complete the mission real soon. “I have to go.”

3
“Alright, hun. Booth eight is ready whenever you are. Good luck.”

“Much obliged, ma’am, much obliged,” Rupert said, dipping his hat. He composed himself, galloped over to the booth and sat down.

After a quick trip through the portal, Rupert arrived backstage on the film set of Blue Hawaii. An old man fainted when he appeared – must not have been used to seeing giraffe cowboys.

Rupert felt hungry and decided to eat a part of the man’s leg. Didn’t taste so fine – too chewy.

Across the stage, he saw Elvis practicing dance steps in a hula dress.

He took out the AIDS rifle and aimed.

“Easy now,” he whispered and steadied himself with his back legs. Crooked his long neck as low as possible.

“Do it for Jesus, Rupert, do it for Jesus.”

Fired.

Missed.