Tag Archives: From the Master’s Table

Our 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominations

Two and a Pushcart - Kazimir Malevich, 1911
Two and a Pushcart – Kazimir Malevich, 1911

Our nominations for the 2017 Pushcart Prize, which will honor work published by little magazines & small presses in 2016, are:

“The Cake” – short fiction by Jonathan Wlodarski (FLAPPERHOUSE #12, Winter 2017, coming December 21)
Congratulations & best of luck to all our nominated writers, and thank you for contributing your phenomenal work to our weird little zine!

“From the Master’s Table” – Fiction by Christine Ma-Kellams

The Woman of Canaan at the Feet of Christ - Jean Germain Drouais, 1784
The Woman of Canaan at the Feet of Christ – Jean Germain Drouais, 1784

“From the Master’s Table” is Christine Ma-Kellams‘ sardonic yet plaintive story of mental illness & loss from our Summer 2016 issue. (To hear Christine read the story, and discuss it with fellow FLAPPERHOUSE contributor Ilana Masad, check out episode 89 of The Other Stories podcast~)

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MR. P WAS NEVER ONE TO VOUCH FOR HEAVEN but considered God a useful trope for making conversations with people he wanted to keep at bay. He has always been attracted to the idea of being alone, and that’s why being a history teacher seemed like a good idea.

History always seemed to him like a useful way of rewarding and punishing the good and the bad (and sometimes the bad and the good). For this reason he could never take heaven seriously, because waiting until someone was dead to dole out the true consequences of their actions appeared counterproductive at best. He preferred to pay people back while they could still bleed.

He is one of the few functional schizophrenics that I know. I say functional because he is not homeless and owns a Craftsman-style grey house on the West side of San Pedro, in a neighborhood made up of right angles, seven minutes from the ports where he unloaded boats carrying precious Chinese cargo or the occasional carcass, and where celebrity-themed cruise ships now forage for travelers afraid to fly.

When he was in his first year of teaching at West High, several seasons before he was shamed into renouncing vagabondage for a more stable routine of the conjugal kind, Mr. P would spend entire nights at the Coffee Cartel, rambling on the backs of 5-page papers on the necessary prerequisites of civil society, the threat of a perpetual police state thinly veiled by democracy and terrorism, the disappearance of childhood, NPR, the Big Sort into like-minded communities, credit cards, the problem of consciousness, and beauty—usually of the agonizing, thoughtful, forbidden kind. He loved talking to strangers and his students were no exception, though he did not like hugging, which some of them found out the awkward way.

The madness peeked out rarely in those days: an offhand, ostensibly preternatural comment about the NSA, an insistence on sitting in the chair facing the exit at El Burrito Jr.

These days the episodes come on like waterboarding, a deluge of invisible visitors dressed in vapor, narrating every interpretational version of an ever-slippery reality. Mr. P obliges his ghosts, force-feeds them his insides as he tries to disentangle facts from evidence.

Continue reading “From the Master’s Table” – Fiction by Christine Ma-Kellams