The Places You’ll Go by Michael Bryson

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Four o’clock in the morning. I’m out again with strange men. Three this time. Gerald, Tyler and Mark. No, Mike. No, Alan. Shit, shit, shit. Mark. I’m sticking with Mark. I haven’t kissed him. He just moved to Toronto from Saskatchewan. He had a book of short stories published last year. No one noticed. Short stories, I told him. Fuck off. Why bother? Don’t you want to hunt the big beast? Don’t you want to rumble with the real men? The poets? he asked. Ha, ha. I sort of like him, but I’m drunk. Of course, I’m drunk. Gerald and Tyler both want to take me home. They’ve both had some success with me, and since the other side of midnight they’ve been competing to make me laugh. It’s sort of sweet, but not really. The laughter, I know, is just postage paid for another package. But I like to laugh. I’m a good laugher. It’s pretty much all I’ve got to live for most days, so I don’t take it for granted. Tyler’s looking at my tits, and now Gerald is, too. I can’t say it makes me uncomfortable, just bored. It doesn’t matter what you start of talking about, it always comes down to boobies. Yes, they’re lovely, and these boys are drunk, too. We’ll be moving on soon. Maybe I should take them both back to my place. Make them share the floor in the bathroom. What was it we were talking about? Mixed martial arts, it was. Factory farming. The oil spill in the Gulf. Fuck me. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got to be getting something out of these late night sojourns. I wish I could say it was an education, but it just seems the same over and over. Whatever is in the news and polarized clichés. Gerald and Tyler are hanging in because they’ve got no better options and in the past I’ve gone home with each of them. And necked. Maybe more. Some digital action, maybe. Something swift, decisive. When I’m drunk, I like to cuddle without being poked. No fucking. I don’t fuck people I work with. I mean, I have, but I don’t. Not anymore. And by work with, I mean people in the industry. Including writers on book tours who tell me how good I look in a strapless black dress. I look great in a strapless black dress. I have a great rack and soulful eyes. Ha, ha. No, I haven’t heard that one before. Why don’t you try me?
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Possessions by Philip Quinn

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John and Jospeh live in the corner house and run an internet porn site.

They’re easy to get along with, sucking back beers and sharing joints when we close the street off for our annual summer party.

Though when one of the neighbour’s kids dented their green BMW with his wagon they threatened to have his legs broken.

Next to them, live this retired couple, Jay and Kat Baxter. Kat’s a large woman, with a cuss mouth, Jay’s afraid of her and will only put up resistance to her when he’s drunk. She’s got a bad left leg which she swings out, sometimes using a cane.

But she likes her girlie-girl makeup and to frizz out her blondish hair which is really a wig. In short, Divine, that drag queen who used to star in John Waters’s movies like Polyester etc.
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Doing God’s Work by Hal Niedzviecki

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Throughout the 20th Century, theologians and philosophers bandied back and forth between themselves the ultimate question… Is God Dead? Well, who would have thought that a story from Hal Niedzviecki‘s book of short stories Look Down, This is Where it Must Have Happened  from City Lights (2011) would answer that very question using what we’ve come to expect of Niedzviecki’s transgressively black humour. It was read by Niedzviecki in Toronto, Ontario in April 2011. Niedzviecki first appeared in Urban Graffiti #3.

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Two Short-Short Fictions by John C. Goodman

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Living at a Distance

The fog had developed into a persistent cloying drizzle shrouding the Tim Horton’s at the corner of Duckworth and Prescott in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. A woman waited on the corner for the light to change. She looked weighed down, pudgy around the middle, arms hanging lifelessly at her sides, a purse dangling from one hand like a kite caught in a tree branch, straw-blonde hair matted wet from the mist.
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Oxygen by Kenneth Radu

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by Kenneth Radu


Some days the smell of flowers is nauseous. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a flower hating sort of guy. I’m not afraid to admire roses in a city park or plant marigolds for my mother who now dribbles into her bib at the Nursing home – try to hold your head up, mama, it makes the soup go down easier – it’s just that when confronted with a certain combination of floral beauty resplendent over a coffin, I need all my mental powers, such as they are, to suppress insurrection in my stomach.

Feeling much better today at the visitation, but yesterday the fragrance became so potent that I gasped and had to be held up – held up! – a man of average build, no longer young but not a decrepit octogenarian either – held up by two adolescent sons with iPods plugged into their ears like frigging Martians on a tour of hotspots on earth. Only a Martian would call a funeral home a hot spot. The understated shit-brown draperies and furnishings made you want to cry, except they also seemed to suck in all the oxygen. Show some respect, I wanted to say to my boys, but lack of air and fearful of digested food regurgitating out of my mouth restrained me from correcting manners. Instead, I focused on my stomach jerking about like Michael Jackson’s dancing.
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