Tag Archives: FLAPPERHOUSE #11

“Number 59” – Fiction by Rayna White

The Chess Board – Victor Vasarely, 1935

The grand finale of our Fall 2016 issue is  Rayna White‘s chilling, dystopian story “Number 59.”

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THE PEOPLE STOPPED FIGHTING IT A LONG TIME AGO. They used to make a show out of securing their homes. They would barricade the doors. They removed family pictures from the walls and replaced them with photographs of famous landmarks, skylines of cities they’d never seen, and Impressionist paintings. They tucked their children into small holes in the wall behind the bookshelf. They hid them in secret cellars, and under loose floorboards. They harnessed them behind the furnace in makeshift contraptions.

Nothing surprised the Retrievers. It seemed the breadth of innovation when it came to concealing one’s own child had its limits. The Retrievers knew every trick and every secret hiding place, and had heard every lie, sometimes more than once on the same day, sometimes on the same street. The children were either safe or they were not, and every cycle they never left a house without the child they had come for. If the child was chosen, the child would be found and the child would come.

It’s been decades since anyone has resisted the Retrievers, not in any meaningful way at least. Occasionally, there’s a bribe offer, which they always reject, or a demand for proof of authority, to which the Retrievers respond by showing the parent the roster, leaving them to sulk, defeated in their doorframes.  Most just comply now. Fate is fate they say.  They watch as the van rolls down their street, and as it slows to a stop and the Retrievers exit, they clutch their child instinctively — a final protective measure before their fate is finally revealed to them. Then they whisper to themselves, “Not this house, please, not this house,” because that is all that they can do. Continue reading “Number 59” – Fiction by Rayna White

“evermore” – Poetry by Lonnie Monka

Eternity - Mikalojus Ciurlionis, 1906
Eternity – Mikalojus Ciurlionis, 1906

“evermore” is one of two edgy & profound poems by Lonnie Monka in our Fall 2016 issue.

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                while pooping in the dark outside
                                 a car approaches
people often anger
                in an inverse proportion to their true faith
& faith can’t help
               but support absolutely everything
just as G-d’s footprint must be too big to see
              realists don’t think
they are just sub-conscious statisticians
              trying to be helpful
so what is eternity without thinking beings
              forever trying to understand
the end of time
                 the bottom of the sea
                                  no toilet paper?

{ X } Continue reading “evermore” – Poetry by Lonnie Monka

“The Invention of H.P. Lovecraft” – Fiction by Shay K. Azoulay

weird_tales_september_1952From our Fall 2016 issue, Shay K. Azoulay‘s “The Invention of H.P. Lovecraft” is a fictional– yet, perhaps, plausible?!– theory on the origin of the influential horror author.

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The following is the first and only post, published on 15 December 2014, in a blog named “The Invention of H. P. Lovecraft”. No author has been identified.

MUCH LIKE DARWIN IN HIS DAY, who was prompted to present his theory of natural selection when he discovered the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had made similar discoveries, hoping to establish precedence and preempt the young upstart, so am I forced to release my own revolutionary findings prematurely, with absolute conviction but without what many would consider substantial evidence or incontrovertible proof. Due to these constraints of time and resources, my presentation of the discovery will be rudimentary, a symbolic staking of a claim if you will, to which I will later return with expansions, clarifications, revisions, and refinements. This is certainly not how I imagined I would present such an explosive theory, which I have been formulating for several months now, but in our lives things rarely go as we plan or imagine them, and the people we thought we could trust fail us in ways we could not have imagined (but no more on that).

I owe the discovery of H.P. Lovecraft’s true nature to my recent rereading of The Book of Sand (1975) by Jorge Luis Borges, specifically the story “There Are More Things” which is dedicated “to the memory of H.P. Lovecraft”. This seeming parody of Lovecraft’s themes, style, obsessions, and concerns is dismissed by Borges himself in the book’s epilogue:

Fate, which is widely known to be inscrutable, would not leave me in peace until I had perpetrated a posthumous story by Lovecraft, a writer I have always considered an unwitting parodist of Poe. At last I gave in; the lamentable result is titled “There Are More Things”.

I was struck by two things immediately – why is the story dedicated to the memory of Lovecraft rather than to the man himself (Borges dedicated only a few of his stories to people, usually with the generic “For…”), and why does Borges consider the story a posthumous creation by Lovecraft rather than a tribute or homage to him? The answer to both of these questions is as simple as it is astonishing: because H.P. Lovecraft was invented by Borges. Continue reading “The Invention of H.P. Lovecraft” – Fiction by Shay K. Azoulay

a prose poem by Nicole McCarthy

Memory - Rene Magritte, 1948
Memory – Rene Magritte, 1948

From our Fall 2016 issue, here is a poignant prose poem about the peculiar powers of memory by experimental writer Nicole McCarthy.

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a   memory.   When  I  was  a  child  I   built
forts     out     of     couch     cushions     and
ratty      blankets.     I     packed   food  and
flashlights     and     books     and     stayed
quiet    so    no    one    would    find   me.  I
stowed   away   stacks  of   coins,   beaded
necklaces,     love      letters      and      diary
entries-    things    I    needed    to    protect,
or    to    hide.

Overnight    the     clips       would       snap.
Blankets     would    lose     their     footing
under    boxes.    Holes    in    my    fortress
would    appear,   and   I’d    be    revealed.
I    sat   exposed,   in   the   middle   of   my
ruins, wondering what I did wrong.

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I   built   a   fortress   in  my   body   out   of
words       and       cement.       Incantations
reinforce          walls          composed          of
affirmations.         Graffiti         scars         my
intestines        like         stretch         marks—
remnants   of    damage    left    before    the
partitions went up.

A    city    of    memories    hum    in    a
molecular cacophony.

The   blueprints   of   my   body   are   filed
away   for   safe   keeping.  Memories   are
currency,       we       exchange       one     for

To get closer or to pull away.

To heal or to harm.

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“Would you ever consider memory

“Is that possible?”

“Maybe. Through therapy, or trial
drugs, or shock treatment.”

“You’d be willing to damage your
body to clear your mind?”

“I’m just asking would you do it.”

“I don’t think I have any memories
I’d need to suppress.”

“Yeah, me neither.”

{ X }

You kiss my knees to part them and
whisper “what are you hiding?”

You outstretch your hand and enter
without a map.

Once inside, you search through my
blueprints, in nooks and valleys,
down short hallways to scale, for
what is bitter on my tongue.

How long will you stay now that
you’ve opened the vault?

Do you see yourself, anywhere, in
the city of memory?

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Continue reading a prose poem by Nicole McCarthy

“Alone with All You Can’t Hear” – Fiction by Jason Namey

The Twin Stars - Luis Ricardo Falero, circa 1890
The Twin Stars – Luis Ricardo Falero, circa 1890

From our Fall 2016 issue, “Alone with All You Can’t Hear” is Jason Namey‘s twisted tale of a troubled twin & an eccentric assassin.

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THE CORK BOARD FLYER SAID I CAN KILL YOUR HUSBAND in discreet serif; I laughed at how funny it would be to call the listed number, but I wasn’t married. I called anyway.

I had sweated two coffees past midnight, time spent necking bare toes beneath a cafe table, avoiding the graphic design jobs my sister had been sweeping my way.

“Just find the shape for the puzzle pieces of your life,” she had said as we shared a glass of wine in bed a few weeks earlier. “Like take for instance me and Paul.” Every time Paul looked at me, I could feel him thank his luck for finding the fairer half of that zygote. Except when it was Christmas at their house and we sat next to each other on the couch and he pretended to need the remote control but really just wanted to reach over my legs and let his elbow brush my knee.

“What am I supposed to take for instance from you and Paul?” I asked.

“Well for one we don’t ask so many questions.”

My sister did not like questions. Not normal ones, not rhetorical ones, not moral ones.

I liked questions.

Like for instance: If Paul wasn’t around, would me wanting to move into their guest room still be considered “needy and pathetic”?

I flattened the flyer with my hand, while the ringing phone gave birth to blank space.

“Hello,” a tired, female voice said.

“I’m looking at your flyer outside Coffee Hut.”

“And you’re interested.”

“Give me the scoop, kid.”

“Be patient, lady. I need to be up soon to feed four kids eating their way to JV. We’ll meet in twelve hours, fifteen feet to your right.”

I tiptoed home over the cyanide white sidewalk, leaping cracks, not letting the palms of my feet touch. Each streetlight I legged under was the sun of some legendary world. I danced across galaxies.

I want to make love with everyone; I don’t want to make love with anyone.

I want to make love with my sister.

At home, I crawled onto the couch, a ball of caffeine flesh. I put in headphones and played Beck and dreamed about chewy toast on Sunday mornings.

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Continue reading “Alone with All You Can’t Hear” – Fiction by Jason Namey

“Visiting Elizabeth” – Poetry by M.A. Istvan Jr.

Family - Pablo Picasso, 1965
Family – Pablo Picasso, 1965

Families, and all the complicated emotions they can make us feel, are all over our Fall 2016 issue — like in M.A. Istvan Jr.‘s richly-detailed & deeply affecting poem “Visiting Elizabeth.”

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{ 1 }

was the last time my dad did. It was 1999,
upstate at the city hall in Poughkeepsie
for one of those CPS-supervised visits.
She was three at the time. I was fifteen.

Grandpa drove us up there from Beacon—
me cramped each way on my dad’s lap
in the backseat, holding back as usual
garbage bags and disgust, the stench
amplified by Grandma and her Yorkie.

{ 2 }

My dad said he needed cigarettes first
and to drop us at the corner gas station.
He had me hold the brown-bagged 40.
He was off beer and Grandma was eyeing
from the junkyard Mazda, hand-brushed red.

“Mike,” Grandma yelled as we passed.
I followed my dad pretending not to hear.
“Mike! Don’t forget the camera, the book.”
I went back for the disposable Kodak
and the coloring book with wax crayons.

Beside a tree in the park close to city hall,
my dad took swigs of his King Cobra malt.
Looking around nervous in a Newport cap,
he dribbled down his fresh-shaved chin.
He wanted helping swigs, but I said no.

He asked me to carry what was left.
My face the answer, he resisted at first.
“You got baggy pants, boy,” he reasoned.
But I knew enough not to be in city hall
struggling to keep my sloshing sweats up.

Either the fantasy of the plan or thoughts
of how the sloshing would ruin the beer
had him give up the fight. In the snow
next to a bench he buried it. To the eyes
of a passing suit I said, “Gotta keep it cool.” Continue reading “Visiting Elizabeth” – Poetry by M.A. Istvan Jr.

“Slept Through” – Poetry by Cooper Wilhelm

My Eyes in the Time of Apparition - August Natterer, 1913
My Eyes in the Time of Apparition – August Natterer, 1913

“Slept Through” is just one of two sizzling & surreal poems by Cooper Wilhelm in our Fall 2016 issue.

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I am talking to the ghost of Mary Oliver
about what to get the kids
I don’t have
for Christmas
while leaning on the sink,
and although I could not repeat a word of what we said to you
because maybe it was just the form of talking
and maybe there are some secrets
my brain will keep,
in talking about it to you now I suddenly remember a wooden dock,
warm pond water, the cracked
yellow toenails of my uncle who is dead.
Which is to say my uncle who is gone, which is
to say my uncle
who never
existed, which is
to say
my uncle who is gone.

My uncle who never existed
lives on in phrases like
A long important poop,
in the cloying distinction between like and such as;
in the distinction between such as and such that;
in the distinction between a pay check and one gasp of air
in a long belt of gasps;
in the distinction between comfort and the cunning
self-deception that keeps you
from meeting the eyes that stare you
down from the inevitable disappointment of your dreams.

Enough distraction.

Three ropes tethered the neck and wrists of my uncle to a tree stump,
while his brothers pulled at his ankles as at fishing nets
trying to heal his back.

Kids only understand the medicine of pain,
how a new success of suffering gets
it over with;
the splinter dug out with a needle,
from the hand held out as if to test the rain,
as if to receive a coin under
whose sharp skin sleeps
a lightless room of chocolate.

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Continue reading “Slept Through” – Poetry by Cooper Wilhelm

“Comforts Which Are Few” – Poetry by Armando Jaramillo Garcia

Ant - M.C. Escher, 1943
Ant – M.C. Escher, 1943

“Comforts Which Are Few” is one of three enigmatically beautiful poems by Armando Jaramillo Garcia in our Fall 2016 issue.

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Delivered with an eyebeam to that studious hawk

Perched across the courtyard waiting for the wind

To play a prank in the stick figure drawing of a child

Which is your only reason for being here

Enigmatic stranger in a shawl

And nothing else I promise not to tell

How you opened and closed it during a squall

Your skin the devoted beacon of resolve

When boredom raged in the sea of this room

Left to our own devices we are all over the place

Perfectly arranged or sprawled

Coughing on cue or harvesting sighs

In the journals of Goncourt or Madame Bovary’s thighs

In that period of time with which we are consumed

Promises are a domestic game with a biblical bent

Practiced by our grandmothers during Lent

We enjoy too much to disturb the other’s thoughts

It was easy once the mouse that runs just out of view

Seems to say with its nervousness

To pick up the threads of another’s life

And give them back as comforts which are few

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Continue reading “Comforts Which Are Few” – Poetry by Armando Jaramillo Garcia

“Elementals” – Fiction by Ilana Masad

Ship in a Storm - Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1879
Ship in a Storm – Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1879

“Elementals” is Ilana Masad‘s fantastically turbulent short fiction from our Fall 2016 issue.

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DO YOU HAVE A CHILD? How about a niece or nephew? Well then, what about an old mother, knitting a sweater for you that is always too small when you return ashore? Hm. No siblings either? A father? No, of course not, none of you have fathers. Right, well, hear me out. I’m sure, and don’t deny this now, you have a lovely lady waiting onshore for you somewhere, maybe she’s a redhead, maybe a brunette, maybe her tresses are silky black and Oriental. I don’t judge. It’s not my business to judge, you see. So this lady – no, don’t try to sit up now – this lady, she’ll be wondering what has become of you. She’ll be walking along the docks day after day, holding her rosary beads, because let me tell you, all women turn religious when they fret and if you haven’t learned that yet, you’re in for a shock, oh my yes you are. So she, this daughter of God, is saying her Hail Marys and her Our Fathers and she is atoning, you see, for all her sins. And what’ll happen when she hears about you? We’ll dock eventually, my boy, and then what? Then the news will get out and she’ll hear about the noble way you went, yes, they’ll tell brave stories about you I’m sure, but will she be comforted? After all, you’ll get the sailors’ burial, much as I wish I could spare you that, and she won’t get so much as a casket to kiss for the last time before it’s put into the damp earth of our Lord. What? No lady even?


Tossed like toys by rambunctious oceanic whims, still they sail. Wind whipping flagellations and rain coming down in icy spears, the men feel a thousand sewing needles falling on their every exposed bit of skin, not just the familiar thumb and forefinger accustomed to the sensation. Their faces do not reflect light any longer. The sun has been gone far too long.


Again? Yes, here’s the bucket. Good, good, get it all out. Amazing, what the body can do, isn’t it? Going of unrelated causes and still able to get sick as a landlubber from a bit of a storm. All thanks to our Creator, you know. It’s small miracles like this, really, that make every day a fresh, bright, and new one, you know. Where were we, you stubborn dog? Ah, yes, you said there’s no lady. You’re sure? None? No special friend? Well, now, we don’t normally condone this sort of thing, but in this case, I will understand and absolve you… perhaps a gentleman? Don’t look at me like that, I wasn’t born yesterday, young man, I know well what happens above and below me on these decks. Sometimes, I hear it extends to shore, to marriage-like relationships. Un-Godly, but then the whole group of you are, and that’s what I’m here for. Hm? No? No gentleman either? Well.


Crooked shafts of lightning hurled by the gods of Greece and Rome and pagan storymongers seal the skies with a kiss. Thunder rolls its dice over and over again, waiting for the weighted one to fall right above the ship with a heavy and satisfying rumble-thump. Roiling water gushes over the sides of the wooden dinghy that hubristically calls itself by more respectable names and the sea attempts to swallow it whole. Men are not at stake here; it is only a tug of war between the sky and the sea. Which will get the toy? Which will win this round?

Continue reading “Elementals” – Fiction by Ilana Masad

“The Last War” – Fiction by Stu Watson

The Critic - Arthur Dove, 1925
The Critic – Arthur Dove, 1925

Pride and pettiness spiral into catastrophe in “The Last War,” Stu Watson‘s exquisitely  twisted short story from our Fall 2016 issue.

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LIKE MOST THINGS, THE LAST WAR BEGAN AS A DISPUTE BETWEEN A POET AND A CRITIC, one that, in its unfolding, ultimately tells us little about the nature of art but reveals volumes about the pettiness and stupidity of human beings.

You see, at a fashionable party in the most fashionable part of the city with all of the correct people in attendance, the preeminent literary critic of his generation, at least by his own estimation and by the stature of the publications for which he wrote, overheard, while discreetly positioned behind a large antique computer monitor, the following conversation.

“So, it seems ———— was not too keen on your latest book of odes…”

“No. But then, who cares for that self-infatuated gas bag’s opinions outside of the media itself? He’s like the ultimate ‘insider’s insider,’ so far inside as to be completely up his own ass! And what’s more, I have it on good report his children aren’t even his.”

It took all of his strength for the critic not to reveal himself on hearing this last remark, for it hit him immediately with the full force of truth. It explained so much, was in fact obvious, but somehow, in over twenty years of marriage, it had never occurred to him as even the remotest possibility. For a moment he felt freed, gifted with the grace of one newly converted, but almost immediately this faded, twisted, and he began to wonder: “How can this poet be so secure in his knowledge to say such a thing, and so casually? What special access to truth does this man have that I do not?” And so his mind began to turn about the possibilities, fixating as each minute passed more and more completely on the poet who had uttered this remark.

He left the party having given no inkling of his new knowledge to any of his literary associates. He almost marveled at himself, keeping quiet about such a juicy piece of gossip, until he recalled that, as he was the object of this particular bit of gossip, it was, in fact, quite likely that everyone else at that particular literary gathering was already all-too-aware of this information that was to him so marvelously new and surprising. That this only occurred to him as he was getting into the taxi outside of the building, having already wordlessly given the driver his address, struck him as fortunate.

On reaching his apartment he stood for a long time looking at the door, thinking, before turning around and walking several blocks to a hotel where he booked himself a room for the week. The next morning he sent a note over to his home via courier informing his wife that he was leaving her, that she likely knew why, and that he expected her to cooperate with his desire for a divorce. By the same courier she sent back a note saying that she was sorry, and that she understood. At the end of his week at the hotel, having brought a few pending affairs to a close, the critic went to the airport and booked a flight for Berlin that departed that evening. Thus it was that one of the most public careers in the world of literary arts journalism came to a sudden and abrupt conclusion, and though there were rumblings as to what might have caused his absconding from the scene so precipitously, the story of his wife’s infidelity was so old, so well-known, that few suspected it might have played any role at all in his vanishing.

But of course the critic did not vanish, was in fact very much present in beginning, in middle age, a radically new life. In Berlin he lived frugally, as was still possible in those days in some of the city’s redeveloping eastern regions. His reputation as a prominent man of letters made it so that he had had few difficulties in procuring status as a permanent resident in Germany, and so, safely established in his new home, he got to working his revenge.

Continue reading “The Last War” – Fiction by Stu Watson