FLAPPERHOUSE Reading #14 / Issue 13 Flight Party

We’re gonna project our souls lightspeed into the future as we celebrate the flight of our 13th issue with our 14th reading! Wednesday night, March 22, 7-9 PM at the always-hospitable Pacific Standard, 82 Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn.

starring:
LISA MARIE BASILE
GREGORY CROSBY
MICHAEL DÍAZ FEITO
ALIBI JONES
ADAM TEDESCO
A.E. WEISGERBER
ABIGAIL WELHOUSE
&
the late KURT COBAIN

Admission is free, and you can get your paws on print copies of our Spring 2017 issue for the special reading price of $5!

(Join the Facebook event page here.)

“Torture Game” – Fiction by Ryan Bradford

Clouds on Screen at a Drive-In Movie – Diane Arbus, 1960

The following SNEAK PREVIEW of our Spring 2017 issue, FLAPPERHOUSE #13, contains MOVIE MAGIC, SEXUAL SITUATIONS, and EXTREME HORROR, and is NOT INTENDED FOR IMMATURE OR UNCOOL AUDIENCES.

Now that y’all been warned, we present “Torture Game,” Ryan Bradford‘s fiendish fiction about a dark date-night at the drive-in.

(If you like what you read, you can pre-order a digital (PDF) copy of FLAPPERHOUSE #13 for $3US via PayPal and see it fly into your emailbox by the Vernal Equinox. Print copies will be available on Amazon & CreateSpace real soon…)

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THEY WERE IN EACH OTHER’S PANTS WHEN THE FIRST TWIST OCCURRED: the man wasn’t a protagonist. He was in cahoots with the killer. He, himself, was a killer. Perhaps worse than a killer, because he used likeability and charm to earn trust.

“Oh shit,” Lou said. “Oh shit oh shit.” He shivered as Nancy finished him. His fingers, crushed numb by her waistband, had stopped working. They breathed hard in the stale cab, listening to the film’s muted sound through Lou’s shitty speakers. Their arms crisscrossed into each other’s undone clothing.

Lou rested his head against the seat and let the blood return to his extremities. “Damn, girl,” he said. He hooked his finger, still inside her pants, and Nancy jumped. “Want me to finish you?”

“Nah,” she said.

They pulled away from each other. Nancy rolled down the window, put her arm out, and flicked his mess off her fingers. Pacific wind filled the car. The air felt electrified somehow—simultaneously comforting and buzzing.

Lou sniffed his fingers, still wet with Nancy. She laughed and slapped his hand away from his nostrils.

“Don’t be gross,” she said.

He wiped his hand across his jeans and then reached for the back of her head. They kissed again—sweetly, this time. The passion had run its course. He watched the movie out of the corner of his eye. On the screen, the killer slit a woman’s neck and she screamed, watery.

Nancy moved away from Lou’s lips and rested her chin on his shoulder. She had never liked horror movies, so she stared out the back window.

“You notice that car before?”

Lou turned and looked. The drive-in on the weeknights was their thing because it was usually dead. They could drink, smoke, fool around in the backseat, and not worry about the kids that usually dominated the lot on the weekends. Nothing killed a good buzz like the screams of wild children running between the cars. Tonight had been less populated than usual. The news had predicted rain. There were three other cars in the lot when they arrived. This old, brown Cadillac parked behind their car had not been one of them.

“No,” Lou said.

“I don’t like it.”

“How come?”

“I don’t know.” She paused. “It looks like it’s pretending to sleep.”

Continue reading “Torture Game” – Fiction by Ryan Bradford

“Seven Ate Nine” – Fiction by Hannah Lackoff

Death With Girl In Her Lap – Kathe Kollwitz, circa 1934

The grand finale of our Winter 2017 issue is “Seven Ate Nine,” Hannah Lackoff‘s deeply moving story of growing up, letting go, and moving on.  

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DEAR NINE,
WHAT’S IT LIKE IN THE AFTERWORLD? Ha ha.  Mr. Banks is making me write this.  I don’t know why I bother.  It’s not like you’re going to read it.  Mr. Banks is though, probably, so Hi Mr. Banks!  This Assignment is Very Important and not at all Futile.
Love, Me

 

To: 9Bishop
From: 7Seals
i miss u

 

Dear Nine,
Apparently last week I did not follow the assignment.  Mr. Banks was Not Terribly Impressed (his words), and he knows I Can Do Better If I Try (ditto).

So today’s assignment is to write about the last time I saw you.  The last time I saw you you were bone gray ash.  We took you to the field behind the Marshalls and we let you go.  Cage said in some cultures people mixed the ashes into a soup and ate them.  Meggie said that was bullshit.  Your mom told everyone to shut the crap up and then we all laughed so hard, and it was really inappropriate and the man from your aunt’s church turned red and told us we were being disrespectful but we weren’t really, because I don’t think you would have minded.  Then the priest guy said a few words that were all churchy and serious and your aunt cried but only her.  The rest of us were cried out, I guess.

Better Mr. Banks?
-Seals

 

To: 9Bishop
From: 7Seals
u always said u would come back and haunt us
r u there?

 

Dear Nine,
Today I’m writing in cursive because it takes longer.  I don’t like this class but I like math class even less, so I’m going to draw this out for as long as I can.  Did you know there is such a thing as imaginary numbers?  I mean what the fuck?  Like regular numbers weren’t confusing enough already?  Look at the loops in my Ls.  Lllll.  I haven’t used cursive since like 4th grade.  Only when I have to sign my name on birthday checks.

School is boring without you.  It’s more than boring.  It’s horrible.  In Home Ec we’re not allowed to cook for a while because someone turned the oven on to “clean” instead of “bake” when we were making the apple cobbler and it just sort of melted and smoked all over the inside of the stove.  Now we have to take a written safety test before we are allowed to use any equipment.  They moved all the seats around so there’s no gap where you used to sit.  Same in English.
-Seals

 

To: 9Bishop
From: 7Seals
what was it like?

 

Dear Nine!
Mr. Banks said since I chose not to do last week’s assignment (again) and instead use foul language and procrastinating mechanisms I have to do two this week.  I told him these were my private words and he shouldn’t be reading them but he said that’s not what this class is about and I can do that on my own time.

This week we are all writing a letter about a happy memory.  Remember when Cage and Meggie and you and me went to the lake and Meggie pushed Cage off the dock before he was ready and he sort of lost his swimsuit and we all saw his butt?  Mr. Banks is not going to like this memory.  I don’t think Mr. Banks wants to hear about butts.

But after the butt incident we went to Shirley’s and we had ice cream.  You picked the bubble gum out of yours and put it on a napkin like an eight year old and we were all grossed out but afterwards you had a big wad of gum to chew and what did the rest of us have?

Last week we were supposed to be writing a letter to your family.  I didn’t really want to do it, so I guess that’s why I used those “procrastination mechanisms.”  My mom sent your mom a card with a really beautiful painting of a little cabin on the front, next to the water.  It’s really peaceful looking and it reminds me of the lake.  Of our lake.  I think she’s really going to like it.  My mom wrote something inside that I wasn’t allowed to read.  Grown Up Talk Only.

This letter is getting long because I am really nervous to write to your mom, but I guess it’s time to bite the big one and get started.
-Seals

 

Dear Mrs. Bishop: Nine was/is my best friend and I miss her so much.  You were/are like my second mom.  I’m supposed to share a memory of you and Nine so here goes:

When we were little and we had sleepovers Nine used to have bad nightmares.  She said your house was haunted.  One time I woke up and she wasn’t there and I heard this weird rumbling noise.  I went out into the kitchen and she was at the counter drinking hot chocolate and you were waving a vacuum around, sucking up the ghosts.  It was really nice.
-Celeste Ingalls

 

To: 9Bishop
From: 7Seals
i heard a noise
are u there?

Continue reading “Seven Ate Nine” – Fiction by Hannah Lackoff

“Unfurring” – Fiction by Rebecca Ann Jordan

illustration by Rebecca Ann Jordan

“Unfurring” is Rebecca Ann Jordan‘s sensual and tender, yet animalistic and violent short fiction from our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

AND WE’RE RUNNING RACING RUNNING the powder-man behind us but our tails flick too fast for his eye. Game, this is a game but terror spikes up my spine-like-snapped-liquid and I’m laughing little squeaks and ragged wheezes, my fellow fox. How up we’ve been stitched in this place of fur and ears and whiskers, how forgotten our selves have been, as if it’s really our bodies this dead canine’s using.

But who were you really, in the before? Before this game of borrowed skin? I forget everything; all slips from my mind as this fox-body slips from the wavering line of light drawn neatly as war on the ground. I can still taste you on my tiny-spiked tongue. I can still feel your calluses furring me all over. You I can still remember turning my knees backwards and my skin to graying red. Game. This is a game and you’re behind me, teasing my eyes around, letting me feel competitive.

The hunter draws behind him the cloak of dark.

You can run yourself gone past where the hard line of shadow chases us, but me I’ll turn, I’ll end him and win, I’ll hide behind the tree no shadow can cross, and when the man smelling like powder comes—I leap upon him, all his plaid and metal and I’m not game for this game anymore. Him I remember. He comes flashing back like a gun, he who tore you from me in that before, his ripping of your life away, all his subtle yanking of the years out from under us, some of which we ran together, most of them we didn’t or did, jaggedly.

And him I’m sinking my teeth into now, tasting the mettle of his blood and feeling the way he bucks beneath. I’ll stop him forever so you can keep on running, my love, the wind combing back your ancient gray into the red of my memory.

Continue reading “Unfurring” – Fiction by Rebecca Ann Jordan

“The Human Part is Now.” – A Conversation with Mila Jaroniec

Mila Jaroniec has been part of the Flapperhouse family since way way back: her poem “Window Glass” appeared in our very first issue, and she was the very first reader to perform at our very first reading.

Mila’s work has also been published at Hobart, Teen Vogue, and LENNY, among many others. She’s an editor for the wonderful team at drDOCTOR, and her excellent novel Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover was published last November by Split Lip Press. (Check out an excerpt over at Joyland.) She recently exchanged emails with our managing editor Joseph P. O’Brien about her new book, as well as the afterlife, airport novels, hilarious Polish proverbs, and much more…

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JO’B: You’ve aptly described Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover as a “road novel with no road,” and it also struck me as a novel about living in limbo. It resonated especially strongly with me, and reminded me of whatever I can still remember from my own early/mid-twenties. There’s plenty of excitement in the sex & drinks & drugs & uncertainty, yet that same uncertainty also creates this restless, stuck-in-a-rut, waiting-at-the-airport sensation, constantly anxious for something to “HAPPEN.” And while that feeling of limbo has certainly ebbed for me as I’ve progressed through my late-twenties & into my thirties, I still find myself there on occasion. With this book, did you intend to create an atmosphere highly specific to that particular stage of late adolescence/early adulthood, or was it meant to be even more universal & accessible than that?  

MJ: It wasn’t planned that way at all. I mean, I didn’t think about stages or accessibility. I just wanted to do a portrait of a person. A young messed up person, in this case, but there are many, many older adults who are stuck in this eternal adolescence. Drug addicts especially.

JO’B: At one point in the book, your narrator (aka “La Maga”) and her friend discuss whether an after-life of non-existence is closer to heaven or hell. Do you side with one character more than the other in that debate? Do you have any unique theories on human existence post-death, or do you think we just cut to black?

MJ: I wanted to think we just cut to black for so long – it’s so easy – but I can’t make myself believe that. It’s just a comforting thought when I feel afraid of dying. Blackout is a comfort. But, you know, I don’t necessarily believe we retain our consciousness as it is now. It changes form. We are souls being carried around in bodies, for now, and then we are set free to do something else. There’s no human existence post-death. The human part is now.

JO’B: PVBS is kind of an “airport novel,” in that much of it takes place in an airport, even though [SPOILER] La Maga never really gets where she’s going. The book’s also overtly inspired by Julio Cortazar’s Hopscotch, which La Maga refers to as “the perfect airport book.” Of course, when most people think of an “airport novel” they probably think of fast-paced, plot-heavy thrillers by Dan Brown or James Patterson. So if a publisher offered you a lifetime of financial security to write a more typical airport novel, what would the title & plot summary be? (And your pen name as well, if you prefer to keep your literary & genre work separate?)

MJ: A lifetime of financial security to write one fast-paced thriller? I’m not above that. So maybe it could be about this housewife with humble beginnings, maybe an immigrant, married to this very high-profile multi-millionaire, and she has everything she wants and an extremely lavish lifestyle, but then she starts to suspect he’s killing and dismembering women, something like that. Which he is. And hiding them in the house. There’s a whole torture chamber in the mansion. So what does she do with this information, and does she make it out alive? He treats her completely normally the whole time. Until he finds out she knows…

Is this convincing? I might actually write this. Get a how-to book, like Ottessa Moshfegh did to write Eileen, and go to town. And of course I would keep my name. I’m not precious about stuff like that. Continue reading “The Human Part is Now.” – A Conversation with Mila Jaroniec

“The Last Cuban Militant” – Poetry by Juan Parra

illustration-to-for-the-voice-by-vladimir-mayakovsky-1920-11
Illustration To ‘For The Voice’ By Vladimir Mayakovsky – El Lissitzky, 1920

“The Last Cuban Militant” is one of two fiery & evocative poems by Juan Parra in our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

MY FATHER IS THE LAST CUBAN MILITANT.
Raul Castro is shaking his ass to hip hop,
And my father is still wearing his black beret, and green fatigues.
The cafés are jammed with clean-shaven youths
Whose heads are gel addicts, and bodies crave
The sexy stroke of European soccer jerseys.
A blind woman wants to discuss Rembrandt and Van Gogh with him,
And he doesn’t even want to believe that the lips that gently kiss
His swollen feet under the covers is Christ pranking him.

The Americans will bomb us one day; I’ll hide in the jungle.
The Europeans will have orgies on our beaches; I’ll pretend I’m blind.
I have a limited edition Makarov PM and a Mayakovsky poem,
I’ll fight the war being advertised for the last 50 years.

{ X } Continue reading “The Last Cuban Militant” – Poetry by Juan Parra

“I Feel the Same Way About You” – Flash Fiction by Jan Stinchcomb

 

Dante & Virgil Enter the Forest - William Blake, 1824
Dante & Virgil Enter the Wood – William Blake, 1824

Three friends suddenly find themselves in a strange realm in “I Feel the Same Way About You,” one of two diabolically surreal flash fictions by Jan Stinchcomb in our Winter 2017 issue.

{ X }

THE GIRLS ARE STUCK IN THEIR FUTURE.

It’s Emma’s fault since she was driving, but Cait and Lex know it’s not cool to say this out loud. They’re stumbling around in some rich person’s kitchen. At first they’re hesitant to touch anything but then they can’t help themselves. There is a bowl filled with tiny silver spoons and a set of crystal goblets. A dark forest is visible through the enormous picture window.

Cait picks up a leather-bound planner and flips through the pages. “Guys. Look at this. It’s mine.”

Lex’s hatred is swift and certain. Something about Cait always sets her off.

“See. My name is here, on the first page. This is my house. I’m married. I’ve got twins.” Cait squeals like a little girl. “I knew I would have twins! Lots of the women in my family do.” She looks around. “And I’m rich.”

There is a woman gathering firewood outside in the forest. She wears an ugly, tattered poncho and a sad face. Lex peers at her and startles into the realization that she is looking at herself. She tries to act as though she hasn’t noticed anything but Cait makes the connection and laughs. “Is that you out there, Lex? Don’t tell me you’re one of the forest people.”

“It’s not my fault,” is all Lex can say. She wants to wave to her future self but is afraid this might make her complicit.

Emma doesn’t say a word.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Lex.” Cait has never been happier. “You always have to be the rebel, don’t you? Well, there you are. Outside.”

“I’m not staying in this kitchen,” Lex says but she’s terrified of going outdoors. She dreads brushing up against her older self. That woman is haggard. Starving. Lex tries to think of what she did to deserve such a fate. She knows Cait is not a nice person, but still. How did they go from carpooling in the morning to living in these separate worlds?

Emma’s eyes are black and bottomless. Her hands are ice. The girl Lex knew is gone, but she puts one arm around Emma and leads her to what must be a sunroom. It is all glass, beautiful, something she will never have.

Emma doesn’t seem to weigh much anymore. She glides alongside Lex to a wicker couch, where they both sit down.

Soon Cait appears, exultant, with coffee on a golden tray. “I have an espresso machine! So I thought, why not?”

Lex refuses to drink. She knows if Cait drinks, she will seal some horrible deal. At first, out of spite, she says nothing, but then she screams at Cait to put the cup down. Continue reading “I Feel the Same Way About You” – Flash Fiction by Jan Stinchcomb