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  • 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.

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Entries in Sex (3)

Friday
Feb172017

Forever Girl

Before they hit the bars they agreed to meet and eat at TGI Friday's.

The evening was liquid. Streams of colored light reflected on roads teeming with mingled fluids, wished-for outcomes made manifest.

Her friends had eaten all the cheese-covered nachos. To hell with them, she thought. I will be the virtuous one and eat a plain chip without cheese or sour cream or even guacamole. When she closed her eyes and placed the chip in her mouth and let it sit on her tongue, she was suddenly twelve again, and she heard someone whisper "Body of Christ," to which she murmured an earnest "Amen."

As it softened and dissolved on her still tongue, she tried not to smile.

She wore the piety of her own awkward holiness like a costume halo until the priest cleared his throat and shot her a look, as if to say, "Don't overdo it. You can't stay on your knees forever, girl."

Ironic advice from a priest. Advice she had forgotten until now. (But he hadn't said it, had he?)

***

Migrant. An emotive word, though not like refugee. Maybe I hear the blare of controversy via the thin high line I can trace to my family's story. A story not all that different from any other: history, herstory, theirstory. But it sings to me the gravity of movement. And of banishment. And of irony. 

***

I drank it all. Turned it up to eleven. Poured every taste into my gaping hunger. Insatiable. Daubed oils on a canvas, smeared from it a story. Inhaled a hundred women. Soothed them, was soothed by them. Concocted new and bloodier Caesars. Dropped from sheer cliffs into a tumult of surf. Reckoned with the surging waves. Made of their concussions a prayer cycle. Shucked oysters, eyed tide pools, gripped a woman's hips before my face and breathed—lustful, littoral, deeply consensual. 

***

The sky ain't right, and people have lost their minds.

Hand me that guitar, and I'll try to calm them.

Three chords: Em7, D/F#, G. Capo on the second fret. Pick or strum, I don't care. Be playful. 

You got a phone? A landline? Flat black. Most retro. Or maybe sensible. Listen. Phone your people, let them twitch their isolated minds and cry their goddamned brains out.  

***

You rode that dusty Mediterranean train north. Watched the parched lands fall behind the multiscratched window. You had no money, having squandered it on ouzo and women and lukewarm moussaka while the islands dreamed like ignorant children, of pale olive groves and hot white stasis. You boarded the slowest train. Hunger in your belly and boredom in your brainpan, dwindling memories of a killing. Athens, seed of anise, dark abandoned Albania. Each time it pulled into a station, children ran along the dirty platform, desperate to sell water or bread or newspapers or beer. You also wanted those things. But each time, you sat staring like an ancient exiled wolf as the slow train pulled out and continued north, feeling the outlaw clench of your slattern ribs grip your ailing heart. Athens to Belgrade to Venice to Cologne. Retracing your earlier steps, your lighter ones. Seventy-two tender and stupefying hours. Stripped to essentials. Across from you: a multilingual man teaching fellow-travelers tricks with ping-pong balls, juggling and swallowing them, sequestered in a compartment all his own, and begrudged by no one. 

You recall the squat moustachioed man below the Acropolis, bending steel bars, his wide stance outlandish under such duress, beside so iconic a browbeat of history. His short legs like dwarf trees, his facial hair dark as a painted gasp, his grunts like the croak of goats amid the soft winsome reek of leather.

All passed now into memory.

***

You are that girl. You will always be that girl. Stood atop a headland, attuned to the noise of a calamitous ocean. That bedlam tide. Scanning the heather, the dunes, the stunted trees. Come back to me. Come back. I wrote songs for you, transcribed my dreams, channeled the declarations of a hundred lovers. Stay here. This is temporary. You have a bedroom and a kitchen, with a hotplate. Stay here. I will return. You have my word. The traffic passes by your window like the endless surf. I promise my love is like a branch; touch it. Run your fingertips over my extended covenant, and believe.

***

She didn't want the night to end. She even took an offered cigarette, although she'd quit them years before, and lit it and inhaled its enthrall. Stayed on the sidewalk, absorbing the revelry, the bright nocturnal glory. 

***

"I don't wanna go home yet." Panting. Expectant. Like a challenge to fate.

"Me either. Let's try and score something."

"Right. Get fucked up."

"That's the damn spirit, girl."

Is it, though?

***

That was the side effect, the tape worm, le ténia. You might even say it's irreversible. A world where the tracks shake, murder takes place, conspirators assemble, and where the passersby ignore the rare cry of a downcast upstart. And deny all levity. And sing:

"Metal heart. You're not worth a thing." 

***

She found herself alone and tried to call a cab, then an Uber. No one came; then her phone died. She walked in the direction of her home, a snug and cheery apartment on the west side of the city. Cars passed her, and most left her alone. The odd one carried angry men, spurting ugly names as they passed at speed. Monikers. Epithets. Misogyny is never abstract; some men fear the dark blood enough they vow to spill it wherever. She had to cross a dark bridge over a darker river, the sky a deep purple and empty of stars. The night itself blinking stupidly in the bright black shadows cast by domestic aftershock.

A woman alone cannot beg. She must fold herself into a new coalition. A contract between herself and the wanton night. Cries. Whispers. Veiled things.

She felt them in the nape of her neck before she fully clocked them. Four men like hammerheads, though far less clean. And though she kept on walking, they converged. 

"Looky, looky," said one, his grin a scar on his shadow face, "we so lucky."

She kept on walking, relinquishing eye contact, while the new silence felt ordained, gravid.

She kept on walking. Until she no longer could, at which point they fell on her.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned," she heard her voice say, and the prayerful shafts of golden light annulled the pain, the memory of dust motes and the soft organic scent of damp wool, the sacred pungent backdrop of incense, the priest's shy and gentle coughs, rushing to replace the dreadful now with the tender then, her gaze raised to the amethyst heavens, her inviolate sovereignty, her focus now fixed on eternity, forever and ever. Trained on the numbing expanse of God's endless silence.

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
Jul222016

Little Apples of Death

Never forget. I forget. I always forget. What indeed is memory?

The ceiling fan flickers in the rearview screen of my keys. They sit bunched on my desk alongside an overfilled wallet straining like an enlarged organ, an unfashionable cell phone, and an open notepad filled with jottings and appointments and TV quotes and titles of movies I want to catch, like silvery fish, all written in green.

Only recently I quit talking on my phone to Gabriella, my most recent ex. In a red leather diner, art deco no less, I think I became amorous and whispered, "Let your petals unfurl for me," and now in shame I'm trying to forget this. She hung up, of course. But strip away the poetry and pretension and I think I meant it.

That quiet rural road at night, the scant light a weak spill from the sky gilding powerlines.

Gas stations bathed in jaundiced pools.

I met Gabriella in a small Guatemalan village where we came to know the little apple of death in a mangrove swamp. That is not a metaphor. We came to know each other beneath the wicked limbs of a manchineel tree, unmindful of everything but each other's crevices and tastes and folds and fragrances, until our innocent choice of love nest revealed its terrible weeping teeth. A sudden squall washed its glutinous sap onto our exposed bodies, which erupted in yellowish domelike clusters of scalding pus. I won't even try to describe the torment. Enough that we lived. Scarred but alive.

The next time we kissed, I felt your newness. You, not Gabriella. I hardly want to say your name for fear of breaking some spell. But Nastassja, I guess, let's say that. It wasn't even an amorous kiss. More sibling friendly and full of love. I recall you smelled of the fresh rain in summer, sprinkled over the sweet dust of berries. That is always your smell, my love, will never not be. The things we scratched in the dirt have become signs, sigils, symbols, license plates, catechisms, wreaths, and leis, the heart-pause moment your fridge hiccups and your lights twitch and trouble flickers your brow.

After which we met Tyrell, a tiny whipped dog who finally bit back but bit all the wrong people. He lived in a motel in Sedona, but his dreams and his history leaked from the sun-bleached door and proclaimed themselves tendrils of dreamstuff, larger and more real than their origins. Tyrell wasn't a dog, though; he was a man. But he was hurt and squalid and swollen and famished. His footprint was tiny, yet his presence was vast. We witnessed a microburst, listened to a bell chime, made a clear date with him, and left.

After which we committed atrocities, of which I will not speak.

We headed north, Seattle bound, shunned, and I became Sylvain and you became Nathalie. We became the universe's secret scheme by which to gaze upon itself. In the shadow of a needle, we sucked each other's essence through our germy, blistered genitals.

Kept going. My god, my love, this late summer evening, an apricot and charcoal sky, the dense stand of trees across from my window thick with gelatinous greens, mutinous quiet, and still as an inbreath, a 3-D painting, that moment we know we're finally betrayed.

Right before we cotton to it. Before backwash. Before we are fully tarnished.

And now we all meet at the cabin by the lake, one by one or in small groups, you and your sister, the crippled geek, the quiet killer, the queen bitch, the whipped dog, the selfless children, the drastic the guilty and the laughable, as ordained, as determined by the warfaced nun and the sneering gypsy we couldn't shake loose in the French Quarter that unnaturally humid spring, by the cosmonaut with all the juicy conspiracies, by the Japanese artist daubing graphic manko portraits in defiance of her culture. My gentle Yukio. My profane Monique. My abandoned mermaid. My coconspirators.

The lake water is still, and the greens drip and mix like virgin oils on a canvas. A loon succumbs to laughter. The Milky Way begins its gentle rise across the darkness, a smeary cosmic vulva. A single coyote yips and then stops. All the trees, like bronchi in a vast lung, exhale as one. Sweet sacred oxygen.

We are here. We are seismic. This could be our moment. We might take flight. Grab our keys and wallets and light out. Then a fight erupts in the cabin—"Fuck you, what is this?" "I'll hurt you!" "Stay away from me!"—and suddenly the world weighs heavy and the moment lies wounded and defiled, stunned immobile by the sudden draining of all hope.

See my alien scars. Features of exotic worlds shaped by impossible forces. Come closer. Trace them with trembling fingertips. Smell my carnation scent. Hurt me as I ask to be hurt. And bring me home. Bring me home.

And if I die, please, if only once in a while, please fucking dream of me.