Paganini’s Strings

by P.J. Leonard

Published on March 20, 2016

The neon lights of kanji rippled in the puddle. December rain pounded the rusty drain pipes and trash loaded wall-to-wall in the night-cloaked alley. It reeked of fried and refried takeaways, a stench that gave my stomach a guilty rumble.

But I never eat before a gig. It wouldn’t stay down otherwise. Instead, I sipped on a flask of bitter coffee, waiting. Despite the rain, I was in high spirits. This gig would pay handsomely, and by my standards, was fairly routine. Regardless, I’d had my guitar restrung; no crack-ups this time. Just killer riffs.

I shuffled the guitar and portable amp bagged on my back. Paganini, I called it. In this line of work you had to call your weapon of choice by a name.


A Leap of Faith

by A.J. Huffman

Published on October 20, 2013

Luna, the cow had heard the story of Icarus, knew its tragic ending, and all the TV talk shows she watched confirmed its moral: too much sun would kill you.

Instead, Luna’s focus was on the moon, and that other story, “Hey Diddle Diddle.” Most of it never made much sense to her, read like a psychedelic road trip through whatthefuckever, but the part about the cow jumping over the moon always fascinated her. Everyone who ever heard the tale knew what the cow had done, but no one ever asked where the cow had been going. Luna wanted to know. Did the cow ever get there? Was the cow happy?

Luna knew there had to be more than just that moment of mythical jump. And so, from the moment she first heard them, those six little words, and the cow jumped over the moon, shaped Luna's fate forever.


by Lou Gaglia

Published on August 14, 2013

Rob must be related to Denise, because his conniption fits match hers for their violence, and both of them would be hilarious to watch on stage, as long as one wasn’t my boss and the other wasn’t my stupid ex-girlfriend’s stupid best friend. I was about up to here - at chin level - with Rob at the bookstore when he laid into me on a Saturday in front of the sophisticated city customers who looked on trying not to laugh. Dos Passos and Dostoyevski were in the wrong spots, he barked at me.

“They’re both Dosses,” I said.

“What comes first, ‘P’ or ‘T’,” said Rob, playing up to the smirking browsers who pretended not to listen.

I knew the answer but wasn’t going to tell him. I started switching the Dos Passos with the Dostoyevski without looking at him, while he stared after me until he was sure he had made his point clear.

A Father's Lesson

by Paul Beckman

Published on June 09, 2013

My father laughed after he hit my finger with a hammer. I sat crying and squeezing my finger and he said, “There’s a lesson here for you. If someone asks you to hold the nail while they hammer say no. Tell them that you’ll be the one to hammer.”

I did what he hoped I’d do and that was to extend that theory into all aspects of my life - whether if was sports, business, or relationships - I was the hammer and never the nail.

So I became successful, tough-minded, and learned to manipulate hammer holders into nail holders. I was also disliked, but not openly, and while not friendless, I certainly didn’t have a cadre of close friends I could hang with.

The Boy Who Dug Worms at Mussel Flats

by Tom Sheehan

Published on February 26, 2013

First there was a smaller sail out on the water. And then there wasn’t any sail, as if it had been erased. Bartholomew Bagnalupus did not blink at the contradiction his eyes gave him. There were things like mist and eye spots and vacuums of sight. Been there, had that, he thought, as he swung his short-handled curled pitchfork into the earth of Mussel Flats. Another bucket of worms he’d have before the tide would drive him off the flats.

Your Wedding Pictures

by Racquel Henry

Published on January 28, 2013

I am looking at your wedding pictures. I am looking at you, looking at her in her big white dress, the way you used to look at me on a Friday night. I am looking at you smiling and happy, happier than you were with me. I am looking at you taking your vows before God, head bowed, eyes closed, and in a church with bright colored windows. I am looking at you holding her hands and she is looking at you. She is in love - so are you.

Following a Coaster

by Tracy Hauser

Published on January 09, 2013

Ariel shuffled through the pile in the box and she laid them out like the Celtic cross, scenes in different positions meant fates for her at this time. The photographs’ borders, cut from scrap scissors, exposed a man with a delinquent frame, bad posture, leaning behind a wooden coaster after a carnival. At that moment the refrigerator pushed water through its filter and then the dog clawed to be let in from the other side of the sliding doors. Ariel kicked at Mona’s other messes by the carpet, Mona’s handkerchief and the shots of Charlie Chaplin with a handlebar mustache, living in Germany. And she put them away eventually, back in the plastic pull-out drawer where she kept them when the father was away. She shut the bi-folding doors and she left to be made-up for the main street.

A Hearthstone Party

by Carol Smallwood

Published on December 25, 2012

The Hearthstone Party was held in a township hall a few miles from Nicolet City. I’d received an invitation in the shape of a teacup covered with the names of door prizes from two women I’d gone to high school with.

After three bingo games played with Indian corn markers in Blue Bonnet and Parkay Oleo tubs, a peanut butter pail with paper was passed around. I got one penciled VANITY and received a Pepto-Bismol pink plastic grinning Buddha sprouting spines to hold jewelry, and duly smiled when the women around me said, “Oh, isn’t that pretty,” “My, aren’t you lucky, “I can just see that on my dresser.” After more bingo, the peanut butter pail was passed again and I traded it for cookie cutters with the woman who’d said, “I can just see that on my dresser.”

Margo, Time Liaison

by Justin Hoffman

Published on November 21, 2012

Margo wanted to be an astronaut beginning at age three, but she couldn’t because she was a girl, and females could only be cosmosnauts. Rather than join the ranks of those fools, she settled on being a time liaison when she graduated advanced school.

Four Fifteen

by Tracy Hauser

Published on July 14, 2012


The Man was foaming at the mouth at her vibrating along with him, from his electric toothbrush, in his dirty mouth. Her picture, fitted in the wall mounts of his reflection, showed the cement community park, chained in by a wraparound fence. In it, were five-year-olds nagged two Septembers ago, to kneel on the recess mulch, hiding the leather trim of Miss Sindy’s sear-sucker skirt. Behind her was his high-rise, with the pale-lozenge molding covering the second and third floor brick work. His apartment could magnify easily the black elementary name plate, stained from split rain gutters tarnishing its intentions, with run-off.

Seven fifteen.


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