Search
Browse
  • Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

Networked Blogs

 

 

Tweets
Places I Hang Out

Entries in Rwanda (3)

Friday
Mar092018

What Dull Beast

"A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun." — W. B. Yeats

Does anyone know what this is? Can anyone pinpoint it? Dissect it?

Probably not. In fact, I'm almost sure not.

It's quite literally unspeakable.

The only thing with depth is the blackness. It's a hole in the Earth. Gray is just edges, cloud forms, the drab flat odor of clay, geese already passed, the sucking sound of wetlands.

I won't fall in. The hole, I mean. That's what I say. But here's the truth: I don't care if I do or if I don't. If I fall, fine. If I don't, also fine.

"If I Fell" is my favorite Beatles song. Do yourself a favor and go listen to it again. It once ached so lovely. 

A chorus of rodents convene to sing a version, their great harmonic squeaks echoing across Piazza San Marco like bats. They know our sapient pride is sinking, our architectural love increasingly rejected by a spurned and hostile Earth. They feel for us, in a way, these tiny hitchhikers on our finite journey. But empathy or not, they told us over and over that they don't wanna swim. And for a good while, they envy the bats.

I quit. God or Satan help me; Loki, Kali, Zeus, I never even fought. 

Our open veins are mere topography. This is hubris.

But back to this thing. It has a surface, featureless and bland. It has depth, impenetrable. It makes us drop our gaze to the ground, give up. It leaches song and story from our world. The fact I can't quite capture it in words accentuates its triumph, only augments its cruel trophy haul. It revels in our inability to gather its essence and make of it a portrait or a tale.

It drains most every thing. It is emptiness.

Like some doughy, noisome thing, eyeless and scentless, it squats, its shapeless perimeter leaking over the edges of my world, its gentle throatless moans a quiet abomination. The aftermath of a tsunami. Long years since the genocide. Afterward. When no one cares. When it can do its rank worst harm.

Friday
Jan202017

My Week on the Shoulders of Small Giants

Sunday. Such a European scene: a tumult of starlings shocked into curling spirals by the clamour of bells.

You walk down the narrow staircase, twisting, the adobe walls beset with dark-framed photographs and paintings, small tubs of flowers on every half-lit floor. A hollow airless silence like the preemptive mourning of the world. 

"I wanted to write play. How you say? A story with much art. Its title is The Aching Breasts of Juliette Binoche, and it is deep comment on feminine beauty and mothers, no? And on art also, of course. Is beautiful and filled with unhappy jokes, yes? About what we expect and what we desire?"

"Everything is filled with everything."

Dark cypresses line our route, the narrow road twisting like a gentle scar through a world of fecundity.

"This Tuscany," you say. "You think is real, but you see it only on screens, behind glass."

"Not true. I visited once, a long time ago."

"Too long. Your memory is broken. This is real place. Not just extra virgin olive oil and red wine in fiaschi. People break legs, shit themselves by accident, miss trains, hurt dogs, cry over bad service."

"You are wrong. I'm here now."

"Ah."

Where had you come from? Which floor? What moment? What happened back there? 

Monday. I touch your shoulder and we are in Trafalgar Square, and the rain is coming down like the wet angry spears of a tiny battle. Even the pigeons have sought shelter. Flanking lions like withdrawn testicles and Lord Nelson's updrawn shaft. Regretful intake of breath before a desolate climax. Buses and cabs. Red and black.

Mind the gap and please don't touch my shoulder.

Too fucking late, mate.

Tuesday. Pacific Northwest. A sundown free-for-all. Raucous seabirds. The smeary drama of colour. An overpass and the homeless on palettes beneath it, sheltered from the elements but not from the furious, heedless, seething, incessant noise overhead, that divine roiling endless colitis.

"Notice the Chevy Caprice that's always in the parking lot?"

"The white one? Kinda, yeah, what of it?"

"Serial killer," you say with certainty. "All serial killers impersonate cops. True fact."

"Okay, now you're talking. This is a mystery story, after all."

"Course."

Is it, though? When we learned of her disappearance we thought it was a joke. Last any of us remembered she had smuggled her hamster, Loki, cage and all, into the Cascadian Motel. Now the room is spotless and no one has lived in it for weeks. The very air has retreated in her memory. Is it me, or does it keep getting harder to breathe?

"Since it's always there, always parked away from the front lot, shouldn't be hard to figure out who drives it."

"You're right. I'm on it. Go set a freakin' watchman."

Shoulder tap. Aw, no. For fuck's sakes.

Wednesday. "Now I've arrested you, things will come clearer. Speak to me. I said, speak to me. No? Okay, I will spell things out from here on in. You have been arrested for being a slut, as you probably know. Yeah, I'm aware that's not an official felony. Not even a misdemeanour, however much it ought to be. Both. Worse. I watched you for years, tried to get your attention so you would change your filthy ways, but you never even looked my way, let alone listened to my advice. Attempting to help, I went to a priest and a rabbi. They knew nothing, other than to identify my own blackened soul. Which I knew was only tainted after fitful dreams spent rubbing your soiled thighs. Yes, yes, you are restrained. This is to protect you, believe it or not. Sorry for your pain. Such discomfort is nothing when compared to what I need to do to cut out your dirt. I cannot lie. It will become unbearable, and for hours, but by the end you will thank me for the release. How glorious the mysteries of this life."

You haven't encountered me before. I cook with cast iron, dream in monochrome, except for the sounds, which are technicolor, ride dirt bikes along narrow trails on mountainsides while screaming cougar sounds as the sun drops off the edge of the world, plead with the holy Jezebel to part her swollen lips for me, allow me one brief entry in a long, dull existence, wait for me in the swamp while my Cajun brethren gather to parlay vengeance before the invaders can disperse along the Gulf coast, itself teeming with pinguid betrayal, last guttering breaths belched amid twilit mangroves.

I am new to you. Knew to you. Ha, funny. Unbeknownst, I've stitched together histories, closed the edges of long-exposed wounds with my gluey saliva, sutured your suppurating lesions. I was there when Tutsi bodies were split then stacked like stove lengths amid the pews. Sanctuary my holy-rolling ass. Truth is, it's been a blistering education. I am not your kind.

Thank you, my love. But I am not your kind.

Get away from my goddamned shoulder…

Thursday. "I speak perfect French, excellent English, and functional Italian. You look at me like I live in an ivory tower. But I don't. I am normal. Normal. Yet I dedicate my life to art, to beauty, because I want to embody love. I know I am not pure. I know my body ages, my waist thickens, and my buttocks grow like cauliflower heads. Like mushroom clouds viewed from space. My breasts ache because I never wanted lactation to stop; I want to feed the world through my heavy tits, my dripping engorged nipples. This is normal, I think?"

A woman strolls through a field of slaughtered men, plucks poppies as she goes and drapes their moist and fragile petals on the pale and upturned faces of the sleepers. Butterfly wings, humidity. Mrs. Dalloway knows flowers cancel death—the great and secret equation. Knows stories are told in increments, a soft weak page at a time. Her hands make patterns in the golden air, patterns of loss and patterns of murder. Until she stops. And finally speaks.

"I had to kill my pet today. Not because the pet was wrong, but because I was wrong. Not because I was wrong, but because you are wrong. Not because you are wrong, but because everything is wrong. Not because everything is wrong, but because…" See? You take this where it wants to go and you rediscover nihilism. And that's okay, if that's what you want. But watch the tide blast into some granite hole, explode upward at its secret outlet, the percussive shout an hourlong blare and echo. Ready for that?

She was an addict. Erica. She sat straight-backed on a stool in the back room of the Immortal Lion Rampant and told me she needed to take a piss. I offered to guide her to the right toilet. She shook her head like a small dark bird, stayed still, and after a while let loose in her hip-shaped jeans. The way of the junkie. I carried her home, more than once, soaked, ammoniac. Yet she was beautiful in her way, a dark gypsy face like a sabotaged heart and cool black tresses, full shapely breasts and an improbable waist. Her favourite record was New Gold Dream by Simple Minds, music she never grew beyond. Me either. I still worship her. With my diligent eyes, I edited out her track marks. 

I'll never forget how her ribcage looked as she climbed on me, her hard dark nipples swinging free for a second or two, her inky tornado snatch clutching me stormward, her grief-stricken face more pretty than anything I'd ever seen, or have ever seen, ever. Those fatalistic chestnut eyes. My faltering shaft, the immunity plight. Skepticism and the caterwauling heart. O Erica. O Clarissa. O Juliette.

Had I known more, and been less wound, I would have asked if she knew Ms. Binoche. Whether she loved cats. Or cypresses limned in gold. Or poppy fields. Her preferences: tea or coffee; cats or dogs; sunrise or sunset; love or money. And, of course, how much she loved to fuck.

We can't do this forever. The decades have accumulated like virescent foam on a pond, and rotator cuffs break down. Hips uncouple, ruination looms. Grab my shoulder, girlfriend; hang on. Most everything's now sad poetry. 

Friday. The high elastic whine of atoms stretching. "The sadness will last forever," Van Gogh's final words. Our unlikely kind's likely epitaph, read by no one ever. No interpreter at all.

Oh, almost forgot. Unpack, unburden this. 

Saturday, that shamanistic day—reflections off of chrome, a motel door ajar, a sweaty pint of mezcal, me ready for your valley, your little prairie wolves—is permanently canceled.

Friday
Jul102015

Quote Unquote

Traffic moves like blood cells, and grainy smoke filters everything. Forest fires blaze afar. The ardent pack gathers by the edge of the cliff face and we sense it's time.

I'm watching the burning edge of the sibilant bush and waiting to see how this will evolve, whether a spike-heeled lover will emerge or a stone-cold killer in work boots, one releasing its feminine musk or the other hissing its unfathomable rage.

Scorched orange. Knowing grimaces. A bright fury. A drop into oblivion. Wait a while and the truth will squirm in calico kitten ecstasy at your feet, reveling in its freedom to broadcast the words no one thinks they want to hear.

"Speak to me," you say.

Right. I want. I would spend a full day worshipping at the hot moist core of you, O my woman.

"Is this speech?" I ask, and you damn near moanblooming, dreamy, anticipatory.

You almost understand me; I almost think I get it. Deliver to me your brimming, shimmering chalice. Grok me, absorb me, breathe me, drink me. Which is something rare enough to stop me in my tracks.

"It says good things, and for that we should revere it," you say.

Yes. Yes. You are serpentine. Oceanic.

I hate the sound of my narcissism. You not me are godlike. You glisten while I merely listen. I said I want. How respectable are we? Are we mortal? Confused? Intoxicated? Horny? Ghostlike? Puzzled, alien, and acrid as raccoon tears. Thirsty for salted rims and the sour wild tang of margaritas. Following highways and negotiating solemn guards. Blackish humourless sentinels. Brackish and hidden wonders hearing mordancy in salt flats and tasting the loosestrife arpeggios of minor chords. May we relax and feed brown-paper dime-bag peanuts to fat and homey prairie dogs, while both Dakotas—recent domesticates, and therefore diminished—wheel around some troubled and tawny fulcrum?

Could it be love? Could it? It's possible.

"What will survive of us is love," said the long-dead poet, adding, “Irony is the song of a bird that has come to love its cage.”

We stumble over arcane tales of love dreamed and recounted by flapping garments on clotheslines in purple alleyways at dawn.

I follow the ragged, steaming pack up through the dry, gap-tooth foothills and into the precipitous drop-offs, snorting their glorious life-death and crotch heat. Keen as goat trails carved into precarious ridgelines. Portentous as a ledge of desecrated nests. All braced for a holy war.

What are we, that we believe absurdities? What do we know? At what point do atrocities begin? Perhaps where we admit—as was once spoken aloud in Cambodia—"To keep you is no gain, to destroy you is no loss." Perhaps where our loving and kindly neighbours are now named inyenzi. Inexplicable enough to shred the hardest of hearts.

After we shake our heads, releasing the dust of bewilderment, what in fact do we know? Perhaps only this: that awful things will arrive in the blackest hour of the night to utterly annihilate our lives.

And one other thing we also know, another desolate thing: "By iron, iron itself is sharpened." — Proverbs 27:17