Category Archives: Flappricana

FLAPPERHOUSE – YEAR FIVE

Cover of FLAPPERHOUSE Year Five, a trippy, spinning, ghostly version of our cyborg-flapper logoOur YEAR FIVE anthology, containing all four issues (#17-20) from our final year, is now available on Amazon for $23 US in paperback.

Sisterhood, mysterious treasure, fallen angels, deviant afterlives, slasher barbies, poetic viruses, baboon warfare, sex magic, hurricanes, leviathans, anti-romcoms, overly-realistic dreams, doll-written novels, talking bodega cats, mutant rats, evil deer, chemtrails, voodoo, gravitrons, clouds of mass destruction, death, ghosts, demons, spells, death, dystopia, magic blankets, ultracapitalism, journalistic supervillainy, class warfare, death…and everything else published in the pages of FLAPPERHOUSE during our fifth and final year.

“The Trump Wedding” – Fiction by E.L. Siegelstein

The grand finale of our Winter 2019 issue— and of FLAPPERHOUSE’s five-year run– is E.L. Siegelstein‘s sharply satirical short story “The Trump Wedding.”

{ X }

THE CADILLAC SHOT DOWN THE HIGHWAY at a casual 90, an American-made fiberglass comet with a diesel-exhaust tail. Inside, Craig shut all the window shades, locking the world outside, and opened the nip bottle of Old Forester he had stashed in his jacket pocket on his way out of the office.

“Play white noise,” he told the A.I., and he closed his eyes and drank and thought about nothing at all for twenty minutes while the car took care of all the driving itself. It was Craig’s me-time, all he ever really got, and he enjoyed it thoroughly.

He must have dozed off, because he awoke with a start when the A.I. announced in its pleasant, servile voice, “You’ve arrived. Welcome home, Craig.”

The house was a late-model Neo-Deco demimanse, so-called because “mini-mansion” sounded tacky. It had more rooms than they really had any use for, some of which Craig never entered at all. Keeping it clean and climate-controlled was a bigger expense than Craig could realistically afford. Entering from the garage, he walked right into the back of another one.

“Excuse me, Doug,” Craig said to the cameraman his wife paid to give her streaming channel a more professional appearance.

“Please ignore me,” said Doug. He was a slight, sturdy man with dark hair and precision-sculpted stubble, and the build of someone who didn’t have time to go to a gym, but instead actually lifted and carried heavy items on a daily basis. His store-brand deodorant did a middling job masking the tang of a man whose very survival depended on the timely arrival of his next paycheck. Craig felt sorry for him, even as he resented Doug’s presence in his house.

Craig’s wife, Rayliee, and teenaged daughter, Rutherford, were tearfully embracing. Their resemblance was striking, a pair of slender, perfectly-coiffed, camera-ready blondes. Rayliee liked to say that they were often mistaken for sisters, though Craig knew that never actually happened.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, taking off his gun and dropping it in the bowl by the door.

Rayliee dabbed the tears from her eyes with a silk designer handkerchief. “Ruthie’s fashion line was bought,” she said. “By Target!”

“Oh,” said Craig. “Congratulations, that’s wonderful.”

Rutherford burst into tears anew. “You don’t know anything!” she screamed as she stomped out of the room.

“Jesus Christ, Craig,” Rayliee said.

“What?”

“Target? Who the fuck shops at Target? Nobodies. Fucking middie’s wives and… and… working women! It would have been better if no one bought her line at all, at least then she could spin that she’s ahead of her time, and she’d still have some cachet. But Target? That’s like, ‘Congratulations, you did it, and you’re mediocre. Just like your…’”

Rayliee stopped herself.

“Just like her what?”

Craig could see Doug in his peripheral vision, getting a closeup.

“Never mind,” Rayliee said. “So, did we get our invite yet?”

Craig froze. He could tell this was something important to his wife, but he had no idea what the hell she was talking about.

“Craig?” Rayliee demanded. “Earth to Craig? Are you having a stroke or something?”

“No, no,” Craig said. “Our invite to what?”

“The wedding, Craig.”

“Whose wedding?”

Rayliee exploded. “Jesus fucking shit, Craig, are you stoned? Or did you just hit your head really hard? The Trump wedding, Craig, the Trump wedding.”

It was the biggest event in the world. The biggest, glitziest, most fabulous, most expensive, most historic wedding in the history of human civilization. Everybody who was anybody was going, plus another thousand wannabes and climbers. It was all the Twittersphere could talk about. It was all the real Fox media wanted to talk about. It was all the lamestream media was allowed to talk about.

“Right, right,” Craig said. “I didn’t realize you wanted to go to that. Which one is getting married again?”

Rayliee’s eyes went wide. “Are you kidding me?”

Doug’s camera swung around, from Rayliee’s face to Craig’s.

Craig smiled. “Yes, of course that was a joke. Ha-ha!”

Rayliee stared at him, lips sealed, eyebrows raised in threatening challenge, calling his bluff.

“It’s Yuri?” Craig guessed.

“Andrei, you doofus, Andrei,” she said. “To Meegan White, who you may recognize as both the heir to the Remington fortune, Miss U.S.A., and the winner of a little show you might have heard of called Mrs. Trump? In case you missed it, it was the highest rated reality competition series of all time? We fucking watched it together, Craig.”

Tuning out whatever his wife was watching was one of the few things, Craig believed, that he was truly great at. Tonight, it seemed to be his downfall.

“Sure, sure, sure sure sure,” he said. “And Andrei is… sixth in line to The Donald?”

“Fourth!” Rayliee screamed, voice cracking. “We don’t have an invite, do we? Oh, you little bitch. Daddy said you weren’t alpha enough, that you didn’t carry status and we’d just end up being middies, like a bunch of losers. That can’t be true, it can’t. It’s not? Isn’t it?”

She angled her head so that Doug’s camera could get a good shot of the tears welling in her eyes.

“No, darling. Of course we’re going to the Trump wedding,” Craig lied to his wife. “I was just messing with you a bit, it was all a joke. I took it too far, I’m sorry.”

“Oh, thank you, Jesus.” Rayliee wiped away her tears. “You have to stop doing that! So, where are we sitting? What level invite do we have?”

Craig had no answer for that. To have an answer, he’d need an invitation.

“Shit, you know how hard I work, I don’t remember. I’ll have to look at it tomorrow, I left it at the office.”

“You know you need the invitation in hand to get in, right?” It was the best way to encourage sales on the secondary market, on which the Trump Organization would take a cut. “Any janitor could just pick it up, and then our seats would be his, and there’d be fuck-all we could do about it!”

“It’s in a safe place,” Craig said. Probably the safest place of all: his imagination.

Rayliee nodded, and said, “Liked.”

Sensing that the conversation was over, Doug said, “Hey, you mind repeating all that, so I can get a wide?”

Continue reading “The Trump Wedding” – Fiction by E.L. Siegelstein

“Post-Elegy” – Fiction by Sneha Subramanian Kanta

The Mouth of Darkness – Victor Hugo, 1856

“Post-Elegy” is Sneha Subramanian Kanta‘s lovely, dark, and deep poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

{ X }

IS IT AN ELEGY WHEN YOU PRAY
for everything that tried to
kill you but did not? How you
delivered breath after breath
out of your nostrils to add the
world? I don’t need words to
describe the silence that can be
lodged into bodies as years roll.
I have reached my lost loved
ones in the brevity of letters
they will never read. We let go
the minute we love. We don’t
learn to love, we love as though
we’d been there all along, our
eyes cast beyond the distance.
Once, I stood by the surface
of a river & counted stars
through their reflections. Tell
me the light we forget to love
has guided us through the dark.
I dream dark as a forest of olive
green leaves where we wander.
The dark moves our dead. Faint
light coaxes the earth to escape.
The earth shatters a little. The
sun rises from the underbelly of
an ocean. We eat the light. We
rise like ghosts with parched
mouths into the last silence.

{ X }

SNEHA SUBRAMANIAN KANTA is a recipient of the Charles Wallace Fellowship 2019 at the University of Stirling, Scotland. An awardee of the GREAT scholarship, she has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. She is the author of Synecdoche (The Poetry Annals) and Prosopopoeia (Ghost City Press). She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal and poetry reader for Palette Poetry.

“Our Hero” – Fiction by Brandon Getz

Superman Collage #15 – Andy Warhol, 1960

The arrival of a new superhero makes life turbulent for a team of journalists in “Our Hero,” Brandon Getz‘s stupendously subversive short story from our Winter 2019 issue.

{ X }

WHEN CAPTAIN MAPS CAME OUT OF NOWHERE to save that runaway bus full of blind nuns from careening into the river in the middle of town, we at the Daily Reporter had to admit: we were pretty relieved. With the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, the blogosphere, the decline of subscriptions and creeping corporate cutbacks, we had taken to pumping up even the smallest story. We had just finished apologizing for the O’Dougherty kidnapping (Local Girl Missing, Probably Murdered) after it was discovered she’d been visiting her grandmother for the weekend. That, on the heels of the school shooting debacle (they’d used cap guns in the eighth grade musical) and the clergy sex scandal (Father Michael, helping a woman in the confessional booth, had—allegedly—grazed her breast). We were anxious for real news. For one headline story we didn’t have to sensationalize. We needed a legitimate sensation.

Those of us who were there described, in those first articles and op-eds, the sound of the Captain’s approach before anything else. Rick in Sports wrote that it cracked over the voice of the announcer at the girls’ slow-pitch game “like God hitting a softball.” In the caption under the local weather map, Alex typed that it had sounded like “the mother of all thunderclaps.” But it was Hal in Lifestyles who, though we didn’t understand it at the time, perhaps said it best when he wrote that it was “a sound like a rip in the pants of the Universe.” We ribbed each other in the break room and near the fax machine over our descriptions, accused one another of being excessively literary or purple in our prose. Those of us who hadn’t seen the Captain appear heard so many stories about that moment that we soon spoke as though we had. We knew all the details: the sound, the ripple in the sky, the flash of green and blue leotard, the man hanging in thin air with the now-iconic cape—a map of the world—billowing behind him. The divisions between there and not-there, while at first tense and somewhat bitter, began to dissolve. We were united in our mission to report the truth. We pulled together in solidarity to deliver the news.

 

The first headlines were perhaps overly flattering. Caped Hero Saves Nuns, World. Super Man Rescues, Loves Town. Leotards: Pinnacle of Spring Fashion? Our editor-in-chief Roberta sent them to press with a flick of her manicured fingers. Roberta, whose face only cracked to sneer at a misplaced adjective or improperly cited source, now smiled when we brought her stories of the Captain. She stopped smelling of gin and limes after lunch hour. She even ventured to pinch the butt of Topher, the intern, and gave him what he later described as a “flirty wink.”

Our workdays grew longer. Because he had only appeared once, and only for a moment, our stories took on more hypothetical angles. Despite restrictions on overtime, we huddled together in our cubicles and speculated on his origins, his alter-ego, his motivations. Topher, being from a farm outside Topeka and possessing—according to some sources—a well-muscled physique, was immediately fingered as a suspect until it was confirmed he’d been at his desk playing minesweeper and writing terrible things about our newsroom on his blog. Someone suggested the Captain might be some kind of super-soldier from the Air Force base on the edge of town. Someone else said he could be a geography professor from the university whose experiment gave him superpowers. One of the obit writers wondered aloud if perhaps he’d been bitten by a radioactive map. Everyone was a suspect. We eyed strangers on the street and kept notes on suspicious persons in the grocery store or church. We rifled through our husbands’ dresser drawers and inspected the spaces under our brothers’ beds. We tapped the walls of boyfriends’ closets and garages, hoping for some hidden panel with a blue leotard and cape inside.

The newsroom buzzed. We held our breath, waiting for the next appearance of the Captain. We loosened our ties in what we thought was a cavalier and attractive way. We wore shorter skirts and started leaving our cardigans on the backs of our chairs. Roberta, who never wore anything but gray pantsuits, came to the office in red slacks and heels. When she sent article corrections back, she no longer signed her notes “EIC,” replacing it instead with a swirly cursive “Roberta” punctuated with a lipstick kiss.

 

Then Captain Maps saved city hall from that meteor. The air rippled; that same heavy thunder-snap “like God rolling a perfect strike,” as Rick wrote, cracked through downtown, and the Captain was flying above our little skyline, upper-cutting the big flaming rock back into space from whence it came. The crowd that had gathered cried out in joy. Children wept. The mayor, interviewed by our Lifestyles section, reported an impressive bulge in the front of the Captain’s green briefs.

This was the news we needed. Our stories were picked up by AP and Reuters, translated into a dozen languages. Photos from our very own photographer, Rashid, ran on the front pages of the Times and the Post. Our bylines were everywhere. We were booked on Fox, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN-3, The Weather Channel. On national TV, with our makeup professionally done and our designer suits bought on credit, we gave our expert eye-witness accounts of Captain Maps. We were the media’s front lines. The boots on the ground re: the world’s first living superhero. On those news sets, or in our own conference room chatting via satellite uplink, we conducted ourselves like professionals. We imagined ourselves the Edward Murrows and Connie Chungs of a dawning era. The Captain was the biggest news of our lifetimes, and we were the commentators, the shapers, the voice.

Subscriptions soared. Our website crashed from so many hits. We wrote about our hero from every angle, interviewed every witness, editorialized and hypothesized. When we ran out of things to write, we dug deeper. Caped Crusader – Hero? we taunted. We needed to know. We needed to be the ones to break the story. It wasn’t enough for the Captain to put our town—and our newspaper—on the map. Captain Maps was ours, right down to the name, which either Hal or Jeanine, our Business Editor, had coined the day of his first appearance, depending on who you asked. Roberta had sent in the copyright on behalf of the paper. We were talking to toy companies about licensing. Some of us had started working on screenplays. On the walls of the newsroom, we hung posters of that first front page to remind us of our greatness, our bylines next to an artist rendering of the Captain in all his cape-waving comic book glory. When we dressed for work, we wore subtle combinations of green and blue, his unofficial fan club.

 

Weeks passed. Even if it hadn’t been an election year, there were always wars and famines and water shortages and terrorist attacks. There was always news, but by then we weren’t interested in the misery of the world. Without any new appearances from the Captain, newsworthy heroics, we were fading from the national eye. We’d ridden the Captain’s cape into the limelight, and now he was shaking us off, back to our small-town beat. Jeanine, who’d written about the town’s much-needed tourism surge, reported a drop in the local economy. Captain kitsch—balloons, t-shirts, cheap plastic dolls—washed from the gutters into the river, unbought and forgotten. Alex, in a last-ditch effort, rigged a spotlight on the roof, painted over with a blobby North and South America, shining it into the night sky for days until Roberta told him to stop wasting electricity. Continue reading “Our Hero” – Fiction by Brandon Getz

“Newsfeed” – Poetry by William Lessard

The Sensational News – Rene Magritte, 1926

“Newsfeed” is William Lessard‘s  fantastically uber-modern poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

{ X }

TAKING THE 8th AEVENUE L
to get a seat going east

 

the pride of non-migratory birds that managed to eat through winter

 

video of woman folding laundry
slowed to ten hours
—domesticity,
the new #kink

 

Pope going off-message,
suggesting dustpan
awaits us at the bottom of the steps

 

FB data profile defines me as “very liberal,”
tone of Thanksgiving uncle implied

 

acorn aggro

 

asking white people with dreadlocks “why?”

 

Benjamin using “loss of aura” as getaway car

 

empire thinks
it’s a lot better looking than it is

 

5 pizza rolls acquired (because additional 15,000 was not available)

 

hoping it will be April
sometime in May or June

 

Russian spy poisoned 50 miles south of London had been looking for a cure for his cough

 

passing away
after a brief wellness

 

Barthes pretends to talk to mother on payphone that chirps Heidegger in his ear

 

wondering what the “it” phone is
that celebrities are throwing at assistants

 

posting oasis
beneath my nose on Airbnb
promoting with photos
tiny people napping/making love
along my upper lip

 

ketchup slices shaped like cheese singles but looking like fruit leather

 

kombucha as mythical country
where everyone has great abs

 

text-based
tuna
time warp

 

hungry for a fresh semiotic
—the old categories blurred on new menu with Lilliputian font, Brobdingnagian prices

 

the defenestration of Chet

 

friend says he’s out “Herzog-ing,”
his term for walking in the desert and considering the Abyss

 

morning show for night people that begins at 1 p.m.

 

review of the Bowie show at Brooklyn Museum:
it was nice to revisit a time
when people still believed in the future

 

bed that folds
upon itself
to protect
sleepers during earthquakes

 

—Dracula’s enforced nightly entombment; the robot version

 

rows of cartoon food
in the base of the crypt;
can’t be the Apocalypse if there’s snacks

 

Tuesday
taco
Talmud

 

choosing the Chekovian
whenever someone asks “what’s wrong?”

 

FB reminds me that 5 years ago today
i was floating over the city
—arms, legs spreading
a leaf’s expanse

 

woman blames “windy day” for cocaine found in purse

 

precious bead of obsidian placed in the blowhole

 

Clarice Lispector drawing stippled line
along the horizon of her eyelid

 

line she calls her “velvet lathe”

 

man with diamond bow tie mistaking it
for one of her sentences

 

Imaginary as the punch you never threw

 

desiring-machine,
tonight lacking toilet paper

 

no palm trees in Marxism

 

theory the gaze that thinks nudity is molecular

 

Tarkovsky ordering lunch
for all the hungry tummies in The Zone

 

when the worst
thing you did today
was cream cheese

 

digging
for the person you were promised
a few layers down

 

woman on my right
burns 650 calories;
man on my left
guzzling
bright blue liquid
burns 70

 

being old means hating yourself for the right reason

 

Louise saving a seat at the center of the cage

 

meat ecology

 

spectators on the other side of the border
watch the bombings
from beach chairs

 

Toulouse
tiki
tattoo

 

woman asks “chaise longue or chaise lounge?”
—linguistic Waterloo

 

in the pig fight,
the pig
always has
the home field advantage

 

trailer for a new restoration

 

pink light
sparking

 

you will hear music until your call is answered

 

{ X }

WILLIAM LESSARD has writing that has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s, American Poetry Review, Best American Experimental Writing, HobartBrooklyn RailHyperallergic. His visual work has been featured at MoMA PS1.

“Monologue in a Room with the Portraits of My Dead Brother” – Poetry by Nome, Emeka Patrick

The Raven – Odilon Redon, 1882

“Monologue in a Room with the Portraits of My Dead Brother” is Nome, Emeka Patrick‘s haunting & elegiac poem from our Winter 2019 issue.

{ X }

YOU WERE MY BROTHER UNTIL your eyes wore a dragon’s breath until your hands grew into an orchard of blood until your mouth unwound into a coffin. May the blood that hums in our veins like a river knifing past a dark forest bear me witness. I love you brother with all the birds psalming in my bones. I love you o brother. In this sanctuary that’s my mouth, brother there’s a prayer burning wild –a lamp in the wrinkled hands of a monk searching God in a dark room. You were my brother until the ten o’ clock news says a young man walks into a market with explosives strapped to his body like a life jacket. On the TV your face appears like a surprise & so it is. A scar glitters like a promise on your neck & so it is. How you got the scar: we were god’s descendants in a garden one afternoon when you said let’s play a game –a game of stones. Everything always started with you even the morning fajr. You hurled your stone but I ducked. Mine stabbed your neck into spittle of warm blood. We both knelt like two unfurling hibiscuses. We both cried like a night wind behind a chariot until the ambulance came. & today the scar glitters on every neighbour’s screen. That’s your lips o brother where prayers & ablutions grew wings & flew into the heavenly nest of a whistling God beyond. O brother the dancing firefly in a dark museum. O brother the lonely lamb where the forest is wildest. Until your eyes wore the skin of night & your hands grew into a garden of cold fallen leaves, you were the vision I never had. You were all the places I always dreamt of. You were the only prayer I learnt to keep in my heart before opening it into Allah’s eyes. O you were my only dear brother. How do I pray for your soul when every song that leads me to you is a dirge stuck on a raven’s beak?

{ X }

NOME, EMEKA PATRICK is a blxck bxy & student in the University of Benin, Nigeria, where he studies English language and literature. He is a recipient of the Festus Iyayi award for excellence (Poetry) in 2018. His works are published or forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gaze Journal, Crannóg magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in a small room close to banana trees and bird songs in Benin. He’s on twitter, say hi @paht_rihk

“A Late Lunch with Philip Roth” – Fiction by Ron Kolm

A recently-deceased author makes a brief return to the land of the living in “A Late Lunch with Philip Roth,” Ron Kolm‘s ghostly vignette from our Winter 2019 issue

{ X }

I FIRST MET PHILIP ROTH MANY YEARS AGO when I was a store manager at Coliseum Books, on the corner of 57th Street and Broadway. Coliseum was one of the largest, best-stocked bookstores in Manhattan at the time. This was the early 1980s, and Barnes & Noble hadn’t yet started its massive invasion of the city, opening superstores uptown and downtown, eventually putting Coliseum out of business. Our store was the place to go if you were a serious lover of books.

Coliseum was also at the top of the list of places to make an appearance for published authors, particularly best-selling ones. The tiny, grizzled Norman Mailer came by the store, escorted by his statuesque wife, Norris Church, who walked him like a wayward bulldog up the steep steps to the manager’s station, where we had piled copies of his books to be signed. He grumbled, but signed them anyway.

Fran Lebowitz, who lived a block away in the Osborne, a landmarked building, visited the bookstore almost every day, and was very nice to the staff. She’s an acquaintance still.

Then there was the first time that the famous novelist Philip Roth stopped by. Most of us knew who he was – we all read widely – but for the uninitiated, one of the guys on the staff grabbed a paperback copy of Portnoy’s Complaint and pointed to the photograph of him on the back cover. In person he was tall, and his hairline was receding, but it was definitely him. Thus apprised, the floor manager let him walk up the three steps that led behind the counters where the cashiers held sway. This partial elevation was to protect the cashiers, to keep dangerous folks down below them where security could more easily remove them from the premises.

Anyway, there was a long plate-glass window overlooking Broadway behind the cashiers’ station, and the early afternoon sun would shine brightly through it. This same sun was now etching a fiery halo around Philip Roth’s head and shoulders as I looked up at him. I was stuck dumb by the vision before me. I so wanted to ask him about one of his early books, Letting Go, that had played an important part in my life when I was in college. Portnoy’s Complaint and Goodbye, Columbus were no-brainers as far as I was concerned – I’d read them quickly, and enjoyed them — but I simply couldn’t move or speak. He thanked the store manager, turned and left.

He visited the store many times after that; he lived on the Upper West Side I’d been told, but I was always in the middle of doing something, so I’d say ‘hello’ to him, and that was about it. I never did get a chance to engage him in a conversation about Letting Go.

Life went on. Shortly after 9/11 Coliseum Books lost its original location, due to a spectacular rent increase, and moved to 42nd Street across from Bryant Park. That location closed a few years later when Barnes & Noble opened a store on Fifth Avenue, just a short walk away. We lost fifteen percent of our business that night. After that, I lucked out and got a job at Posman Books in Grand Central Station – I’m still working for them in their Chelsea Market store.

So yesterday I get an email from ‘Charles Lindbergh,’ and out of curiosity I opened it, expecting to get hacked. But no, it seemed to be on the up and up.  The text in it explained that it was from Philip Roth reaching out to me from the void. I shrugged and read on. Everything is so out of whack these days, that I simply accepted the impossible; the impossible had to be way better than the possible anyway! Philip apologized for never addressing my love for his novel, Letting Go, but he wasn’t interested in talking about that particular book anyway. What was on his mind were several things: were people buying his novel, The Plot Against America, and would I be interested in talking about how it related to Donald Trump, and what was going on in the country right now.

“Sure,” I typed back. “Do you want to do this via emails?”

“No,” he answered. Actually ‘Fuck no!’ is what he wrote. “We’ll meet for lunch at the Russian Tea Room. It only makes sense, given the Russian collusion and all that sort of thing. They did bail him out in Atlantic City, you know! And it will be your treat! I mean, after all, I’ll be doing you a huge favor, and you have no idea how much trouble this visit will put me through! I’ll get back to you with the particulars in a minute. But first I have to go and Portnoy myself – emails like this get me off!”

In just a couple, he got back to his machine, and asked me if I could meet him in about an hour at the famous eatery on 57th Street. I typed back ‘sure’ and turned off my computer, but before doing so, I googled the Russian Tea Room. They had no dress code, and the prices were outrageous for a bookstore clerk like myself, but I figured I could use a credit card and worry about it later. When I got there I saw Philip Roth sitting at the bar with a glass of water before him. I sidled over and introduced myself, wondering how the fuck he had crossed the line from the dead to the living, and asked if he wanted a beer.

“Sure,’ he said. “A Bactika 3. It’s Russian, only costs eighteen dollars. And, to answer your question, all of us in the nether zone are walking among you all the time. We just pick and choose our appearances very carefully. Fake news, and all that! So how are my books selling? Particularly The Plot Against America – I hear it’s regarded as being prescient, not a word I use often – meaning it predicts Mr. Trump, and what’s happened to the body politic recently.”

“Well, gotta tell you I love that book! It sure isn’t all that far away from Portnoy. I marked up my copy, and page 153, where Alvin talks about peeing and holding his cock, and falling on the bathroom floor, could have been lifted from it directly! Hey, do you want a bite to eat? I read on the internet that the second booth in the back to our left is called ‘The Tootsie Booth” — that part of the film was actually shot here. No one’s sitting there now, so we could head over and grab it, then order lunch.”

“Um, I think I’m starting to fade… Don’t know that I can hang out much longer. Geez, really wanted to talk about the ‘pee tape.’ The ‘alleged’ pee tape. It’s like that stuff on page 153 kind of presages it… in a way. Glad you mentioned that part of the book. So much I wanted to talk about… Trump’s limited vocabulary… his lying, fascist tendencies… Sorry, have to sign off here…”

And he was gone. More to the point: I got the check and almost checked out myself.

{ X }

Photo by Arthur Kaye

RON KOLM is a founding member of the Unbearables and a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin magazine. He’s the author of The Plastic FactoryDivine ComedySuburban Ambush, Duke & JillNight Shift, and with Jim Feast, the novel Neo Phobe. He’s had work in Have A NYC 3, Live Mag! and the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Ron’s papers were purchased by the NYU library, where they’ve been cataloged in the Fales Collection as part of the Downtown Writers Group.