Todd Morr

Bandsaw Bobby

“Dude, I need to borrow something.”

Knowing Denny, ‘something’ could be anything. I really didn’t want to know.

Instead of just telling me he said, “I need to show you something,” before he marched into his bedroom.

I didn’t want to see what he needed to show me, but I followed him anyway. Before Denny decided to take our weekend partying and make it a full-time lifestyle we’d been friends.

He pointed to the fifty-inch television propped up against the wall. On it was a frozen image, a still shot from a movie. I recognized the film, which made me kind of special. Only Denny, myself, the dude who made it and maybe his mother would recognize Bandsaw Bobby 2: The Brain Harvest from a single frame.

Even Alton Strode’s own mom probably gave up watching his films after Bandsaw Bobby 1. How Strode managed to make a sequel to a film very few people saw, and even fewer people enjoyed, is one of the great mysteries of the world. Except for Denny, the world forgot about Bandsaw Bobby. In a genre full of low budget cookie cutter mediocrity Bandsaw Bobby managed to be the film even slasher connoisseurs couldn’t give a shit about.

Denny claimed to have met Strode at an abandoned warehouse people went to these days to score drugs. Claimed being the operative word. While explaining the plot for the never made Bandsaw Bobby 3: Dismembers Only, Strode told Denny there were hidden messages in the movies. Denny dedicated his amphetamine-fueled life to finding these messages.

Denny pointed at the dog behind Bandsaw Bobby while he chased a bikini-clad actress and said, “There’s a reason there’s a dog in this shot.”

“Yeah, it wandered into the shot. Since only someone going through the movie frame by frame would notice it, they left it.”

“Strode is not the kind of filmmaker who does anything by accident.”

Strode struck me as exactly the type of filmmaker who put things in his movies by accident, but I didn’t want to argue.

Denny went to his laptop. The movies were never released on anything but videotape. Denny managed to turn his VHS digital just so he could study it.

He moved the film forward, froze it and zoomed in.

“See the book on the table?”

I did, though it was easy to miss since there was a pile of fake brains on the plate next to it.

“Tell me the third letter in each word, including the author’s name,” Denny said.

“I’m guessing you already know, so you tell me.”

“B,R,E,N,D,A,N.”

“Brendan?”

He moved the film forward. I interrupted before he could show me the next code, “Let me guess, the third letter on each word in the billboard in the background is going to spell kill.”

“Fourth letter, and ‘slay’.”

It made sense now, or at least batshit crazy tweaker sense. We’d known Brendan since middle school. Denny hated him since high school. Denny couldn’t get over the time Brendan banged his girlfriend. Which would have been understandable, if Vicky had actually been Denny’s girlfriend.

It looked like Denny came up with a convoluted excuse to murder Brendan. I wondered how many hours he spent finding the right combination of letters and symbols to tell him to do what he had wanted to do since high school.

Denny was fast forwarding the movie when I said, “Stop.”

“You need to see the next part.”

“No, I don’t. Let me guess, you want to borrow my gun?”

“Yeah, but there’s more.”

“You can’t murder Brendan.”

“It’s not murder if it’s necessary.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“You need to watch the rest. This is what Strode is trying to tell us.”

“Strode wants Brendan dead?”

“Yeah.”

“Alton Strode wouldn’t know Brendan if he was blowing him behind Taco Bell for a fix.”

“Do you have to bring that up? It was one time.”

“Sorry, the point is Strode did not make a movie…”

“Two movies.”

“Okay, even better. He didn’t make two movies just to tell someone he didn’t know…”

“He does know me.”

“Not when he made the movies he didn’t.”

“He was guided by mind travelers.”

“Mind travelers?”

“Yeah, from the future. They can’t travel back themselves, so they send back ideas and shit. They’re using Alton’s films to warn us. Some fucked up shit is going to happen.”

“And Killing Brendan will stop this fucked up shit?”

“I have to kill his dog too.”

“His dog?”

“Yeah, I can show you his name during the eyeball scene spelled out on…”

“Dude, you need help.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s why I called you.”

“I’m not loaning you a gun.”

“What part of ‘fucked up shit’ don’t you get?”

I opened my mouth to argue, but logic and common sense were beyond Denny. Nothing I could say would change his mind. Instead, I told him again, “I’m not loaning you my gun.”

“Then get out.”

The look on his face made me wonder if he was going to start combing the Bandsaw Bobby series for the letters in my name.

The glance over my shoulder before I walked out was the last I ever saw him. Brendan’s dog chewed out Denny’s throat and ate half his face when he broke in armed with a butcher’s knife.

***

“So this whole werewolf apocalypse is your fault,” Don said as he gestured broadly to the darkness beyond the light of our fire.

I shrugged and took a slug off the homemade corn liquor we took from the men Don and I murdered for their coats, “He said fucked up shit was coming. This does seem like some fucked up shit.”

“You really think it was connected? You think your crazy tweaker pal could have stopped all this by killing some douche and his dog?”

Something howled in the distance as I said, “Couldn’t have hurt.”

Christine Stoddard

The Lucky Ones

Before Tinder and Grinder and OKCupid, we had the East End Bridge. It was not a land of love but a land of fucks and you could give as many, or as few, as you wanted. But you came there to lie in a bed of used condoms, shit-covered leaves, and broken glass with one intention: to give, or receive, at least one fuck. Alcohol and drugs were merely appetizers, and the only restaurant you go to just for appetizers is TGI Fridays. All others either win or lose you with the main course.

Summer after summer, the East End Bridge boasted a loyal customer base. Even in the wintertime, you could find local kids embracing each other, panting little clouds of their warm live breath into the air, stretched out on a strip of cardboard if they were lucky.

A mediocre meal is better than no meal at all. Everybody’s got to eat.

Or, as my mom used to say, “Everybody’s got needs.”

We went there because most of us didn’t have our own bedrooms like kids in the movies. Most of our parents didn’t have jobs, at least not steady ones, which meant none of us had our own cars, let alone hot rides with leather seats.

Privacy was just another middle-class luxury we couldn’t afford.

You either went all the way under the East End Bridge or saved yourself for marriage like Pastor Jenkins commanded from the pulpit of our otherwise-abandoned strip mall church:

Chastity is a virtue. Chastity is divine. Chastity will save you from hellfire.

I had planned on saving myself for marriage less out of a concern for hell than a concern for cutting myself on a smashed bottle under the East End Bridge.

It was no bed of roses, even that time our biology teacher, Ms. Russell, tossed fifteen bouquets over the edge. Her fiancé sent the flowers, one for each month they’d dated, after she found him cheating with his niece.

A few of us were huddled around a bonfire that night when it started raining petals and thorns. While the blanket of red and green improved the scenery a little, our spot under the bridge was still just as sorry as it had ever been.

Yes, I’d claw myself out of town if I had to and lose my virginity someplace clean and quiet, anywhere but there. I didn’t think that was too much to ask.

Then I saw Pastor Jenkins fucking my mom doggy-style not even a week later.

Most kids hear their parents having sex at some point, but few have the misfortune of catching them in the act. Best case scenario, it’s Mom and Dad under the sheets with a careless moan here and there. His cock and her snatch remain a mystery.

Worst case scenario, it’s Mom with someone old enough to be your grandpa, both of them playing it rough with every wrinkle and varicose vein in plain sight.

Her tits are flopping faster than your cousin flips hash browns at the Waffle House down the road, his ass looks like something that belongs on a 100-year-old toad, and both parties are breathing so hard you’re convinced they’re about to break.

It’s poignant when the pastor cries, “Jesus!”

After that, I thought nothing of “fornicating” under the East End Bridge.

His name was Ned, he was in my Spanish class, and he rode me on a flattened Budweiser box.

John D Robinson

The Footsteps

Everything is as it should be,
everything is here, except
you and that changes
everything here,
Bessie the dog is sad-eyed,
the cats are sulking,
the radio is quiet,
t.v. off
your absence strolls
through the house, I
can feel you moving
by me; evening has
noticed, it’s autumn
presence falling like a
soldier weary of war,
putting down his
weapon and laying
down his head on the
earth to hear your
footsteps finally
coming home and
knowing everything
will be okay.

 

Leah Mueller

Waiting For Resurrection

The Grande Ballroom in Detroit
dispensed music and sin seven days a week
for six years, until it ran out of money.

Even Ted Nugent sounded cogent
while describing his love for the place.
Alice Cooper, the MC5, Muddy Waters,
Cream, Led Zeppelin, the Who, BB King,
Frank Zappa, Iggy, the Grateful Dead
and countless other bands graced the stage.

The dressing room was open for groupies
and folks who wanted to tune Jeff Beck’s guitar.
Kids got down behind the stage.
Their parents couldn’t care less
what they were doing, or with whom.

A joyful, decadent time, before Detroit
collapsed into ruins, taking the Grande with it.

One frigid March afternoon in 2013,
I stood on the corner next to the Grande,
took cell phone photos of two friends
as they huddled beside the chain link fence.

They’d lived in Detroit their whole lives,
and had driven past the Grande
hundreds of times since its closure.
Still, they humored my need for documentation.

The two had been married
forty years, and were still in love,
but a little bored with each other.

He was an angry union guy on a vegan diet
who worked for the phone company,
and she had been fired ten years earlier
from her travel industry job.

They scowled as they leaned against
the crumbling bricks of the defunct ballroom,
the vivid pain of a Michigan winter
like angry red scratches across their faces.

Later, the woman showed me scars on her belly
from where her stomach had exploded
a few months beforehand. She almost died twice.

The scars were raw and purple, and
her skin bulged and sagged with their weight.

I stared, unable to comprehend.
Me: west coast girl, the one who escaped.
Seattle will collapse like Detroit, she said.
Everything on the west coast will one day
look exactly like the Grande Ballroom.

I laughed, said this was impossible.
A few months later, they stopped talking to me.

Of course, my friend was right, but I can’t
be blamed for my refusal to believe.
Like those kids behind the stage,
I needed my illusions to last forever.

Now, when I look at the mirror
and the street corner, all I see is wreckage.

Perhaps if I run fast enough,
I can twist the knob in reverse,
go backwards and restore everything:

the ballroom, Detroit, this damaged land
that somehow allowed me to survive,
my lost friendships, and more than anything else,
all the times I turned away instead of listening.

Joseph Ridgwell

Men Without Women 

Jack and Dan were in their local boozer, The Flower Pot, known locally as – The Pot. They had been at the bar for a good two or three hours and were well on the way to being in a condition known colloquially as – Steaming.

‘Ow’s that internet dating lark going then?’ said Dan.

Both men were in their early forties and hadn’t had a relationship with the fairer sex for five or six years. In Jack’s case it was closer to ten. Nearly a decade without a woman had compelled Jack into drastic action. He had in fact joined the legions of lonely hearts. 

‘It’s pony mate.’

‘Why’s that?’

‘I’ve signed up to a few, but all they want is money.’

‘Rip off is it?’

‘Proper. And there’s the birds.’

‘Tasty?’

‘Far from it. Before ya sign up you get to see all these pics of what on the surface appear to be little sorts, but as soon as you’ve paid up reality kicks in.’

‘Mingers?’

‘Mingers, pyscho’s, fruit loops, and just ordinary basket cases.’

‘I did try to warn ya – same again Vick and a pack of pork scratchings.’ Dan looked to Jack. ‘Pack of pork scratchings?’

‘Na, get us a pack of salted peanuts.’

When the drinks and savoury snacks arrived Dan continued the convo. ‘All the sorts get snapped up in their twenties by the ambitious fuckers. The ones who have to have something pretty dangling from their arm every time they go out and who see everything in life as a commodity. Every now and then an older sort might come back onto the market – you know when her old man has got tired of fucking her and traded her in for a younger model. But mark my words – if they’ve kept their looks and figure – they won’t be on the market for long.’

‘What about a young bird?’

Dan wondered if his best mate was on a windup. ‘What young girl, in her right mind, is gonna take one look at the likes of us?’

‘What about a retarded one or something? You know, fit body, but not all there upstairs.’

‘Fuck me, you really are getting desperate.’

‘I was joking.’

Dan eyeballed Jack. ‘Could’ve fooled me. Na, the only bird that would consider us as potential husband material will be either pig ugly or on her last legs.’

‘So what you’re saying is that as far as any relationship with the fairer sex goes we’re both fucked?’

‘Basically, yeah. But don’t worry my son it’s not all doom and gloom.’

‘It ain’t?’

‘No it ain’t. Little Legs told me about it the other day in the Swan.’

‘Told you what?’

Dan leaned in a little closer and began whispering. ‘About grapefruit love.’

Jack did likewise. ‘What the fucks that?’

‘Fuck wasting time looking for a Doris, just get yourself a grapefruit every morning.’

‘What the fuck are you talking about?’

‘Feels just like a cunt.’

‘What does?”

‘A grapefruit.’

‘What?’

‘You cut a hole just big enough for your old boy to fit in and then bash one out.’

‘Serious?’

‘Ya can’t tell the difference. All you’ve gotta do is close your eyes.’

‘Close your eyes?’

‘And put a towel down as it can get a little messy.’

‘Fucking hell.’

That night as he made his way home Jack passed the 24hr Turkish grocers. As he did he caught sight of a tray of grapefruits. Dan’s words floated through his boozy frontal lobe. ‘Feels just like a cunt.’ 

And before he knew what was happening he had stepped inside and purchased five grapefruits.

‘No tins tonight then?’ asked Hassan the proprietor, somewhat amazed.

‘Na, I’m going on a health kick. The grapefruit diet comes highly recommended.’

‘If you say so geez.’

The next day Jack awoke bleary-headed as usual, like his head was full of cotton wool. He got up, took a horse piss, and then grabbed a can of Tizer from the fridge, downed the contents in one, and clocked them. On the kitchen table was a bag, the contents of which had spilled onto the floor. On the laminate were five grapefruits. Jack picked up one of the grapefruits and wondered. Then he got to work. Always horny after a session, he grabbed a knife and cut a hole into the fruit about the size of a fifty pence piece, all the way down. He took a towel from the bathroom, lay it onto the bed, and placed himself onto the towel. Then he took the fruit and forced it onto his erect cock. At first the hole wasn’t quite big enough so he went back to the kitchen and enlarged the hole with the knife until it fit perfectly – nice and tight. He went back to bed and lay down. He closed his eyes and conjured up an image in his minds eye of his line-manager – a sexy redhead in her mid to late forties. He moved the grapefruit up and down. Fucking hell Dan had been right. It did feel like a cunt. His hand moved slow – then fast – as images of a sexual nature played themselves out in his imagination. Pretty soon it was all over and he had come all over his managers saggy tits. 

Jack opened his eyes and looked towards his midriff. Grapefruit juice and bits of pulp covered his stomach and legs. And there was his cock, still erect, a spunk-splattered grapefruit stuck to it, harpoon style. Jack looked at the yellow ball and for the first time in his life contemplated suicide. Then he got up, chucked the messy fruit into the bin, and took a shower. 

Andrew Wilton

Elegia

(Imagine, if you will, a dark desolate alternate reality)

A man enters a coffee shop restaurant with a briefcase in hand, wearing a black hat and a grey overcoat. He approaches the cashier:

“The weather certainly is nice, isn’t it?” says the woman.

“I haven’t seen the sun in 8 years” replies the man.

He gives her a small ticket and picks up his coffee which resembles a dark, murky substance. He sits down in the corner with a nervous posture, darting his tired cold eyes around the room to see if anyone has followed him. A woman, a different woman, suddenly sits next to him, seemingly appearing from nowhere. She has long blonde hair, and appears to be about 300 years old, although she doesn’t look a day over 25.

“What are you doing here on such a beautiful day?” she asks.

“I’m just visiting”

He looks outside to see a large storm brewing.

“I want to fuck you” said the woman.

The man looked at her with an expressionless stare an they share a minute of silence.

“What do you do for work mister?” She finally said.

“I am an accountant”

“My father was an accountant”

“Was he?” said the man “how interesting”

“Do you like sports” said the woman.

“I like killing people” said the man.

He looked at her with a grin from ear to ear.

“Would you like to see what’s in my briefcase?”

He began fidgeting with his arms, as if he was on some unknown drug.

“It has some of my most treasured belongings inside, and I would love to show you”

He opened the briefcase slowly, as to build up the anticipation, and he pulled out a small, shiny cube.

“This is a phase box. They are priceless from where I come from”.

“Where do you come from?” she said.

“I come from where the mountains are tall and the trees are grey”.

“Is that near the factory?”

“No”

The cashier appeared from the counter, bearing a large revolver. She then killed the woman.

The man took out a handkerchief, and wiped up the blood.

He finished his coffee and closed his briefcase.

Shot by Baker: Julz

Shot on location in Waikiki, Hawaii

To be a mother is to be a warrior!

First and foremost she is a mother of three, personal assistant, runs her own businesses, and is a model, traveller, and motivator well known in the creative industry. How does she do it? Julz gave me some tips while we ventured in a hired convertible and chose spots around the island of Waikiki, Oahu for our shoot, ending the day with drinks and an equally gorgeous sunset.

 

SbB: When did you know a career in beauty was for you?
L: I’ve always had an interest of beauty/make-up. As young as 4 years old; I remember standing in front of the beauty section and would not move until my mum brought me make-up.
While I was studying beauty therapy, I had an international make-up artist recommended to pursue further into make-up.

SbB: What prompted you to becoming a freelance beautician and masseuse?
L: When my dermatologist consultation was not sufficient enough for me. My curiosity gained a perfect opportunity to educate others of their self-worth and care.

SbB: Today’s woman is busier than ever. You’re a prime example! What is the easiest/quickest way to turn a day/work look into something that works for night out?
L: Glam eyes (darkening the outer corners of your eyes) and red lipstick.

SbB: How do you approach a style-conscious women of “a certain age” who wish to remain current but fear looking as if they’re trying too hard. What are some comfort-zone-friendly ways to rock the latest trends?
L: Go subtle; use natural tone colours and false eye lashes.

SbB: Speaking of age appropriateness, let’s consider the flip-side. Is there an age you, as a makeup-artist and mother, consider too soon for girls to begin wearing makeup on a regular basis?
L: I believe from 17 years old is reasonable on a regular basis.
Teenagers need to preserve their youthful skin.
Unless you do dancing and have an exceptional skincare regime.

SbB: Currently, what are your favorite beauty trends?
L: Bold; defined eyebrows and flawless bronzed skin.

SbB: What three makeup item should no woman leave home without?
L: Moisturiser, brow promenade and lipgloss.

SbB: Come the weekend, what’s your favourite thing to do?
L: If I am not working; my favourite thing is to stay in bed as long as possible with my partner listening to me snore.

Lucas Chapman

Hide and Seek

Nobody ever wanted to play hide and go seek with me, especially girls. That was until I met Jasmine one night in a bar called the Rooster’s Crow after the baseball game. It had been a doozy of a game, the St. Louis Cardinals against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers scored at the top of the ninth sending it into extra innings, twelve to be exact, until Buster Rosario smacked a walk off homer for a Cardinals win. The crowd had gone so crazy, everyone was hugging on each other and cheering and giving high five’s; it was Saturday, and one of those nights you just don’t want to end. After Buster’s homer, me and Johnny—my best friend for as long as I can remember—overheard a group of drunk college girls talking about going to the Crow, so we decided that we would follow.

The Rooster’s Crow was as crowded as expected on a Saturday night after a Cards win. People were jammed from wall to wall having such a good time drinking and talking and dancing that it was making my head swim. You see, I don’t get out much, not really. And when I do, it can sometimes get overwhelming. Johnny isn’t much help either, he stays quiet most of the time.

Not long after we arrived, I saw the girls cozy up to some frat guys, so I wanted to leave, deciding it was a bad idea to come. But I remembered momma telling me long ago that I needed to get out more and socialize. So I did. For my momma. And man am I glad I did because it was how I met Jasmine!

Well, maybe I should say she met me. While making my way to the bar for another Shirley Temple, I somehow ended up on the dance floor. Imagine my horror as I dodged sweaty bodies reeking of alcohol and sweat! I pushed them off me as I made my way to the perimeter of the dance floor. And that’s when Jasmine came out of nowhere. I think she tripped on someone’s shoe, but she quite literally fell into my arms. Her eyes were golden brown, her hair soft and shimmering. She was the color of caramel and her complexion was buttery smooth. Her skin was so perfect that I thought of it more as a rare animal pelt that deserved to be hanging on a wall above my fireplace.

I couldn’t breathe or think or talk. I sat holding the angel of my life in the middle of a crowded bar. Mamma told me once that love can knock you off your feet, but I didn’t believe her until that moment.

“Thank you,” she said to me. Her breath smelled like limes and tequila. Her smile was so white, so beautiful.

My heart felt like it was going to hammer right out of my chest and do a jig on the dance floor. I was absolutely paralyzed by Jasmine.

“Don’t worry about it,” I managed.

She smelled like sweet sweat with an undertone of marijuana. I don’t believe girls should smoke, mamma told me only hussies smoked, but for Jasmine I could look past all that.

It felt like it was only her and I inside the packed bar. The music, so loud before, went quiet. People, noises, laughter—all gone. All I could hear was her breath as it blew against my cheek and her heart beating through my arms.

And then—and THEN—she untangled herself from my arms and kissed me on the cheek. “You are my knight in shining armor tonight, sir.”

Just like that, I knew I was in love. Not the sort of love that I gave to momma, no one would replace momma, but the type of love that I saw in the movies or heard about in those teenage pop songs. I wanted to tell her a thousand and one things, but nothing came to my mouth. It was like I was frozen in a block of ice.

“You’re silly,” Jasmine said and then winked at me with the longest, most luscious eye lashes you have ever seen. And before I could react, she patted me on the shoulder and disappeared into crowd.

Precious seconds tick by as I tried to get my body to move, to work again, so that I could find my Jasmine. I didn’t know her name at the time, so I threw myself into the crowd, pushing people to the floor and yelling rather foolishly, “Come back! Please come back to me!”

Johnny came rushing out of nowhere and I told him to look too. We searched every inch of the Rooster’s Crow: the kitchen, behind the bar, the staff break room, the men’s room, even the women’s room. Yet, she remained allusive. Johnny and me even stayed until last call to find her but still she wasn’t there. I was so frustrated I even yelled at Johnny, called him stupid and dumb (I later apologized).

But—BUT—as we got outside I got an idea. She was playing hide and seek!

“Jonny,” I said. “She’s only toying with me. She’s still here!”

I took off down the side walk and turned down an ally way that ran parallel to the Crow. And lo and behold there she was, standing under the orange glow of a street lamp with a lit joint between her plump lips.

I skidded to a halt, the bottom of my shoes scrapping against the uneven asphalt. I was so excited that I tripped and went sprawling into a puddle.

I looked up, slightly befuddled, and saw the angel of my life not even looking at me! Instead, a boy had come out of the Crow’s back door and was kissing Jasmine. He groped her buttocks, caressed the back of her neck.

He was kissing my angel. My girl. Those were my lips, not his. I was so angry I couldn’t see straight. Much like a child—even though I still get embarrassed to this day thinking about it—I kicked and slapped and pulled my hair in white hot rage.

I’d rather not say what I did next, momma said it’s not good for a man to always be hanging out his dirty laundry. Suffice to say, I got rid of the boy and Jasmine gave me her address! Well, I found it in her purse but still! I was elated… cloud nine!

The ensuing month was full of passion sweeter than any piece of honeydew or watermelon or sweet summer cantaloupe. The passion between us was hotter than the dog days of summer and our relationship was budding into something especially beautiful.

We went to dinner with her friends at the local cafe, we went to a Cardinals game against the Boston Red Socks (Cards lost four to zip), the zoo with her sister, and vacation at the Lake of the Ozarks with her family.

I was always on the watch for boys that would try to come near her. There were many, and my work was tiring, but none of them were able to get close to my angel. At one point, they even tried coming to her house! But I recruited Jonny and together we staked out her house from the other side of the street while in my car.  We sat there for weeks, all hours of the day, shooing away perverts trying to snatch my angel away from me.

Every night my sweet would leave her bedroom lamp on to let me know that she appreciated my watch and that she was thinking of me. Seeing her shadow through the curtain while she changed for bed was enough to keep me going and know that my work was important.

But a man has certain needs. A scratch impossible to ignore. My needs had gotten in the way of past relationships, so I desperately tried to ignore them the best I could. Soon though, after a particularly troubling week of watching the house, I couldn’t stand it! I had to do something, had to feel her lips on me once again, run a hand over her perfect skin or smell her beautiful hair.

It was Jonny’s idea actually (I give credit when it’s due—momma said its rude if you don’t) that I write her a letter like an old-time romantic film I always see her watching through her living room window. He even got the notion to ask her to a game of hide and seek like pa always wanted to play.

So I did! In my neatest handwriting, I wrote:

Dear Jasmine,

I long for your touch, your kiss, your smell as I know you long for mine. So, let’s play hide and seek! Tomorrow evening, I will hide somewhere in the house and it is your job to come and find me! If you are able to find me I will pay you in kisses and a dinner date on me. Perhaps, Cafe Coffee you took your mom to? Or even that BBQ place you like on 5thave? Either way, choice is yours! 

—Your Love

P.S I’m a VERY practiced hider!

I thought the letter was good, but Johnny said it could use some work to which I got furious and told him off. Sometimes, Jonny can be so blunt about things!

Any who, I sealed the letter with tape and placed it in her mail box. We waited that night, watching for her to receive the letter to know that the game was indeed on. She came home for her job at the attorney’s office around six, ate dinner (leftover pizza from when her best friend was over), and watched a couple episodes of The Expanse. Afterwards, she folded laundry, fed Maggie—her Bulldog, and went to sleep without a shower.

My sweetling never checked the mail, but that was ok. I knew she wanted to play hide and seek with me like she had the night of our first date at the Crow.

Johnny and I watched until 1 A.M. before I decided to go back home to momma and get some much-needed shut eye. Jasmine left her house around ten for work, so if I wanted to get a really good spot I needed to get there right after she left.

I was almost too giddy to fall asleep that night! I felt like a boy on Christmas Eve night waiting for Santa to slide down the chimney and deliver all the wonderful presents. Eventually Mr. Sandman did come, and I dreamt of all my past relationships, happy that they just didn’t quite work out.

I dressed in all black: boots, hoody, jeans. I even wore gloves as not to leave any smudges that could alert her to my location. Johnny said I looked great and mama didn’t say anything about it. She only sat in her rocker in front of the television like she does re-watching old black and white shows on the TV Land channel that I put on for her.

“Going out mamma. Be back tomorrow. Jonny will be here if you need anything.” I kissed her cold cheek and brushed her stringy hair. Sometimes, momma could be such a drag.

I made it to Jasmine’s house just as she was backing her silver Toyota out of the driveway. I blew her a kiss and told her that I hope she has a good day when she drove past.

The inside of her house smelled like her flowery perfume and I almost melted right there in the kitchen. It was like she held a love spell over me. Never before had I loved any of my ex’s like I loved my Jasmine. I was so excited that I could hardly keep my hands from shaking as I tip-toed into her bedroom and looked through her dresser drawers. I laid on her bed and put each of her pillows to my face and took in a deep breath of her scent.

I laid there for exactly one hour, fantasizing about the night we were about to have. I almost wanted to make my spot easy so that she could find me quickly and we could get right down to it.

But no, hide and seek was my favorite game and since Jasmine was the only girl that ever wanted to play, I sucked it up and stuffed some of her undergarments into my pocket to keep my mind busy while I waited.

I methodically walked through her small house looking for the really good places. I went to her bathroom and stripped naked to sit in her shower and smell all of her womanly soaps. By the time I was done, the time was 4 P.M. or close enough to it that I really needed to get my spot.

I wasn’t very satisfied with any hiding spots on the upstairs, so I decided on the downstairs instead. I knew she didn’t go down there much and figured there were probably some undiscovered nook or cranny (there usually are) that I could wedge myself into.

An open stair case led to the unfinished basement that smelled like rotten mold and earth worms. I could understand why a young woman would be scared of a basement like this—but I liked it, loved it in fact. It reminded me of my own room at momma’s house. Boxes were stacked all the way to the small window to the right. Some art work was piled next to the water heater and electrical fuse box. Behind the stairs was a closet choked full of winter coats and clothes that no longer fit my Jasmine. Perfect.

I turned out the single overhead light bulb by the long cord and slithered my way into the closet behind the moth-eaten coats, scarves, and sweaters.

The mold was worst in the closet and the faint scent of my angel coming from the coats was driving me nuts so I played with her undergarments inside my pocket and waited for her to come home.

I must have fallen asleep because it was dark outside the basement window when I finally heard the slamming of the garage door and the wooden click of high heels over the kitchen tile.

Finally! Jasmine, the girl of my forever, was home at last. I heard her walk down the hallway to our bedroom. The springs in the bed creaked and groaned as she struggled off her shoes and then no doubt her knee length paisley skirt and gray sweater. Jasmine was only a few feet above my head, undressing and slipping onto (hopefully) smaller clothes. My breath became ragged, my head swam.

She would probably go barefooted, the sneaky devil, to mask her movements while looking for me.

No matter. I was very good at hide and seek.

I bravely composed myself and didn’t wait long before I heard the water heater ruble to life and the quiet splashing of water as she drew a bath—the same bath I had just been in hours before. I wondered if she could smell me like I smelled her. I blushed at the notion.

Giddy with anticipation, twice I left my spot in the closet and ventured partly up the stairs. But then I remembered the night we met, the way she played hide and seek with me, and knew it was fate that we must play this game.

The water heater grinded to a stop and I heard her—actually hear her voice—call, “Maggie! Come to momma.” A moment later the English Bulldog’s nails clicked over the hard wood surface and I traced the fat dog’s path, feeling slightly lightheaded from hearing her voice at last.

Minutes ticked by where I heard nothing except the whisper of her feet dancing lightly in her bedroom as she—what? Dressed for me? I didn’t know and was getting frustrated she had yet to begin our date.

But then I heard footsteps coming down the stairs! My heart skipped, I readied myself to gaze upon those memorizing eyes—but it was only Johnny.

“Take it easy,” he whispered to me. “She’s only preparing for you. I checked in on her. Putting on some lingerie. Real sexy. Red and black. You’ll like it.”

I chocked on my spit. “Are you serious?”

“Serious as a snake bite. Now get back in the closet. I’ll be in the car.”

Johnny clambered back up the steps rather too loudly. He could be so irritating! But, needless to say, I followed his advice and crept back through the winter coats but at least I wasn’t alone, a spider crept out from the sleeve of a Calvin Cline jacket. I named him Timmy and toyed with him in my palm until I grew bored and crushed him into a red paste. Curiously, I took one of his tiny legs and placed it in my mouth. Salty. By belly rumbled and I licked the rest of Timmy from my sweaty palm.

Where was she? I was growing bored rather quickly. At least when my papa played with me I could hear him shouting and cursing at momma and could judge where he was at in the double wide trailer. But Jasmine was either not playing or was really, really good.

My thoughts kept drifting back to the Rooster’s Crow and how that I could not find her afterwards, she’d been playing then as she was now. Oh, she was good. Making me get in my own head like that.

Steps, followed by tinier, more frequent steps. She was coming out of her bedroom! I grinned and then snickered, slurping the rest of Timmy out of my palm.

“Hello? Ok, be there in a sec.” I heard her say from somewhere in the kitchen. Had she found me? My heart was ready to explode out of my chest. I couldn’t be sure if she were talking to me or not and I imagined her creeping down the steps, a big smile on her beautiful face. What would I say? Perhaps something along the lines of “hey baby” or maybe “hi my love.” But I thought a simple hello would do just fine.

I peeked out of the coats and that’s when I heard the doorbell ring. I heard her squeal in excitement, and then the slow creaking of the front door opening.

“Hi,” a voice carried downstairs… a male voice. “You look absolutely lovely tonight.”

“Thank you,” the love of my life responded, almost breathlessly. Who was this? And where was Jonny to let this happen? My anger spiked dangerously as a new and wild thought hit me straight from left field. Was she cheating on me?

No, that couldn’t be it. Not her, not my Jasmine… my angel. But as the hours ticked by the harder it was to convince myself otherwise. They ate dinner (Chinese delivery) and watched a movie after that (Ironman 3). I heard Jasmine giggle as he made her laugh in such a flawless manor. Even though it hurt to admit, this boy was smooth. So much so that he had completely distracted my Jasmine from hide and go seek. It was supposed to be our night…my night and here he was, probably named Chad, stealing away my girl.

I thought I could wait until he left, but when I heard her ask if he had a condom I blew my lid and crept around the coats, careful not to make a noise. I waited at the bottom of the stairs in the pitch-black basement as their footsteps carried off to the bedroom, almost immediately followed by the screech of mattress springs.

“Got to go for it, pal,” Johnny said from behind the water heater.

I nodded and said, “I know buddy. I know. Every time now, huh?”

Jonny chuckles echoed around the basement, “Seems that way, don’t it?”

I nodded and took each of the wooden steps oh so carefully, pausing half way up as Jasmine screamed out in orgasm. I blew steam from my nose and climbed the rest of the way, not bothering to hide my movements. They wouldn’t hear a freight train bust through the kitchen let alone a few steps as I searched for a knife, eventually selecting a dirty steak knife from the sink.

I suddenly felt more exhaustion than anger, another girl… another cheater. Why did they always do this to me? I shouldn’t have been surprised, Mamma said girls were hussies and couldn’t be trusted.

Many girlfriends ago I would almost look forward to the breakup, but not tonight. I really liked Jasmine and thought she was the one. With a heavy sigh and slumped shoulders, I kicked away the dog and walked down the hall.

I paused, listening to her moans and Chad’s heavy panting through the cracked bedroom door. I knocked, mamma said it was polite to always knock, but either they didn’t hear me or just didn’t care. Rude.

I gripped the knife in one gloved hand and opened the door with the other.

“Ready or not,” I yelled, enjoying the sudden look of terror on their flushed, sweaty faces, “here I come!”

Irvin Lee

Rock Paper Scissors

We play
Rock paper Scissors
to see who will go down.
She does not slowly peel me.
I am a real banana
and she hasn’t had any real
bananas.
She pulls without gentleness,
harshly the thing.
The night before she had
nearly bit it off.
She keeps me tranquilized,
stuck in the back room,
or in the living room
on the dirty sofa
where the TV is dead.
She smokes like she’s mad.
We are both inexperienced —
I more than she.
I was gonna titty fuck you
but I decided not to.