ADELAIDE FOUNDERS / FUNDADORES
Stevan V. Nikolic & Adelaide Franco Nikolic
Independent Monthly Literary Magazine
Revista Literária Independente Mensal EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR-CHEFE
Year V, Number 34, March 2020 Stevan V. Nikolic
Ano V, Número 34, março 2020
MANAGING DIRECTOR / DIRECTORA EXECUTIVA
Adelaide Literary Magazine is an independent inter- Adelaide Franco Nikolic
national monthly publication, based in New York and
Lisbon. Founded by Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide Franco GRAPHIC & WEB DESIGN
Nikolic in 2015, the magazine’s aim is to publish quality Adelaide Books LLC, New York
poetry, fiction, nonfiction, artwork, and photography, as
well as interviews, articles, and book reviews, written in CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS IN THIS ISSUE
English and Portuguese. We seek to publish outstanding
literary fiction, nonfic-tion, and poetry, and to promote Jessica Spindler, Matilda Zhao,
the writers we publish, helping both new, emerging, and Samuel Stone, Ciaran McLarnon, Stan Dryer,
established authors reach a wider literary audience.
Christopher Carroll, Anita Haas,
A Revista Literária Adelaide é uma publicação men- Angela Smith, Michael Amato,
sal internacional e independente, localizada em Nova Victoria Rowse, Bianca Bonilla,
Iorque e Lisboa. Fundada por Stevan V. Nikolic e Ade- Gary Delmar Jaycox, Robert Faszczewski,
laide Franco Nikolic em 2015, o objectivo da revista é Daniel Picker, Judy Bee and Antaeus,
publicar poesia, ficção, não-ficção, arte e fotografia de Donna Lee Miele, Matt Gillick,
qualidade assim como entrevistas, artigos e críticas BellaBianca Lynn , Jake Morrill,
literárias, escritas em inglês e por-tuguês. Pretendemos Wally Swist, Kamalendu Nath,
publicar ficção, não-ficção e poesia excepcionais assim Tomas Sanchez Hidalgo, Bob Eager,
como promover os escritores que publicamos, ajudan- Michael Washburn, Joram Piatigorsky,
do os autores novos e emergentes a atingir uma audiên- Susan Swanson, Sarah B. Moore,
cia literária mais vasta. Robert Perron, Boris Kokotov,
Adrianna Zapata, Andrea Bernal,
(http://adelaidemagazine.org) Charles Olsen, Pedro Xavier Solis,
Diane Neuhauser, Cathy Essinger,
Published by: Adelaide Books, New York Martin Golan, Nikolas Macioci,
244 Fifth Avenue, Suite D27 Gabrielle Amarosa, Heide Arbitter,
New York NY, 10001 Joanna Kadish, Ruth Deming, Hank Kalet,
e-mail: [email protected] Noelle Wall, Michael R. Morris,
phone: (917) 477 8984
http://adelaidebooks.org Jeffrey Loeb,
Copyright © 2019 by Adelaide Literary Magazine
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission from the Adelaide Literary Maga-zine
Editor-in-chief, except in the case of brief quo-tations
embodied in critical articles and reviews.
CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS
THE BREATH OF A TIRE
ANNIVERSARY by BellaBianca Lynn 103
by Jessica Spindler 7 OUR WHOLE LIFE IS A SERIES OF SIGNS
by Jake Morrill 107
MADELINE, LYDIA, AND THE REVISITING THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS: MYS-
STRAUSSIAN RAINFALL IN ANNAPOLIS TICISM, LOVE, AND MAGICAL SURREALISM
by Matilda Zhao 9 by Wally Swist 108
GOOD MORNING POETRY
by Samuel Stone 19 SUCH AN ENIGMATIC PORTFOLIO
by Kamalendu Nath 115
THE BROKEN COMPASS LOLITA’S STORE
by Ciaran McLarnon 28 by Tomas Sanchez Hidalgo 120
WORLD FINESSE AND NUANCE STRATEGY
THE RUN by Bob Eager 121
by Stan Dryer 35
WINNERS AND SHORTLIST WINNER
THE WOMAN NOMINEES OF THE
by Christopher Carroll 43 ADELAIDE LITERARY AWARD 2019
FLAMENCO FOR BEGINNERS SHORT STORY
by Anita Haas 45 The Winner
MY ROLE IN THE RISE OF JULIAN ASSANGE
CHRISTMAS TREE HEIST by Michael Washburn 127
by Angela Smith 56 Shortlist Winner Nominees
NOT FOR EVERYONE
SILVIES VALLEY RANCH by Joram Piatigorsky 135
by Michael Amato 59 THE GIRL AND HER DOG
by Susan Swanson 137
ON THE RUN DOLLAR STORE CROWN
by Victoria Rowse 62 by Sarah B. Moore 144
FINDING HER by Robert Perron 154
by Bianca Bonilla 65 X-RED
by Boris Kokotov 162
A FORK IN THE ROAD SEEKING A KATHLEEN
by Gary Delmar Jaycox 67 by Adrianna Zapata 163
CADAVER IN THE FOREST 3
by Robert Faszczewski 74
by Daniel Picker 78
HUNTER AND HUNTED
by Judy Bee and Antaeus 88
THE SPIN CYCLE
by Donna Lee Miele 93
by Matt Gillick 99
Adelaide Literary Magazine
The Winner The Winner
NOMINALISM THE SKY STOPPED BREATHING
by Andrea Bernal, translated from Spanish by Joanna Kadish 185
by Charles Olsen 169
Shortlist Winner Nominees
Shortlist Winner Nominees
LETTER TO STEPHEN
BIPOLARITY by Ruth Deming 193
by Pedro Xavier Solis, translated from Spanish
by Diane Neuhauser 172 THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE
by Hank Kalet 196
HOW WORDS BECOME THINGS
by Cathy Essinger 174 RUNAWAY
by Noelle Wall 204
WHAT WAS THAT FIGHT ABOUT ANYWAY
by Martin Golan 176 THE DEPOSITION
by Michael R. Morris 206
by Nikolas Macioci 178 SUCH WERE THE JOYS
by Jeffrey Loeb 214
by Gabrielle Amarosa 179 PREY
by Megan Madramootoo 217
THE LUCKY RICH
by Heide Arbitter 181
by Jessica Spindler
Olivia slumped into the hotel room’s lime The ice machine was in a room beyond
green armchair and propped her legs on the elevator. The room was cramped and
the ottoman. She ran her fingers over the had fluorescent lighting with several broken
golden tin cigarette holder and popped the bulbs. The whirring noise coming from the
clasp. ice machine overtook the room. Olivia set
the bucket on the ledge and pushed the
“I thought you were quitting?” he said. lever. The machine ground but nothing
came out. She pushed the lever again and
“What’s the point?” grimaced.
Henry flicked the lighter open and struck Olivia walked back empty-handed. The
a flame. door to the room adjacent to hers opened
and a little boy stepped into the hallway. He
The filter was smooth between her lips wore black suspenders over a white collared
and the heat warmed her insides as she in- shirt. A gas mask covered his face. She passed
haled. The first drag was the best. The heavy by him. In the room, his mother sat on the
ceramic ashtray rested in her lap. She flicked bed sobbing into her hands. The husband
the embers into the tray. paced the floor and then pulled the little boy
back into the room before closing the door.
Henry sat on the edge of the bed and
loosened his tie. He reached for the clicker Henry greeted Olivia at the door with a
and switched on the TV. The disheveled willful grin and a whiskey bottle dangling
news anchorman pounded his fist on the from either hand. “What’s say we take a
desk while chain smoking. Henry laid back bath?”
on the bed and the anchorman’s words
faded into the background. She lifted the ice bucket. “No ice.”
Olivia rose from her seat and grabbed He set the bottles on the cherry wood desk
the metallic ice bucket from the bar cart. and cupped her face. “No, baby. Don’t cry. It’s
She ripped out the plastic insert and crum- just you and me now. We don’t need ice.”
pled it in her hand.
Henry embraced Olivia as they swayed
The hall lights flickered. She walked bare- to him humming their wedding song.
foot down the hallway. A hotel maid rolled
a laundry cart out of a room. She pulled the The crystal hanging light trembled. Each
door closed and turned towards Olivia. The piece clanging into the next like a wind
maid flashed a weak, but genuine smile.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
chime. The light bulbs popped and show- rocks on fire blanketed the city setting
ered them in shards of glass. The bed frame ablaze to everything they touched. Streaks
gyrated towards the center of the room. Li- of red illuminated the night sky.
quor bottles vibrated and smashed through
the glass cart. Olivia turned to Henry and brushed her
hand over the stubble on his cheek. “Do you
Olivia shrieked and covered her head. remember when we came here?”
“Oh God, Henry!”
He caressed her cheek and ran his fin-
Henry took her by the hand and sprinted gers through her blond wavy hair. Tears
toward the doors. They stepped out on the seeped from his eyes. “Our first anniver-
wooden balcony. The trees buckled and fell sary.”
like giants crashing to the ground. Falling
About the Author
Jessica Spindler is a short fiction writer with several flash
fiction works in the publication pipeline for 2020. Jessica
works as a marketing assistant for a globally recognized
hearing aid company. She provides support to the marketing
manager and contributes to the marketing expansion
among audiologists. Her background in communication,
both verbal and written, has aided her in this position.
Jessica has recently enrolled in Full Sail University in the
Bachelor of Arts Creative Writing Program. She has used
what she’s learned to assist with content writing in her position. You may learn more about
her background and skills here at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-spindler-b527b764/.
AND THE STRAUSSIAN
RAINFALL IN ANNAPOLIS
by Matilda Zhao
It was a freezing morning. I skipped my boys at frat parties. Especially you. You are
morning class. My Jewish culture and fam- pretty.’ She said to me.
ily history professor would be mad at me, I
know. But I wasn’t feeling well; in Ohio, the Lydia and I used to joke about curse
smell in the air was different than Maryland. words a lot when we were drinking back
The first week of school we took the shut- in our hometown Annapolis; sitting on the
tle to the only Walmart in town and other bench at the city dock at the end of the
stores; a 5-cent store, a fast-fashion clothing main street of downtown. When we were
store sound like a twin of Forever 21 only in in high school summer camp reading great
the Midwest, a small town in the middle of books and doing ancient Greek tutorial; we
nowhere close to an Amish county. tried to find curse words in Odyssey. Back in
the city dock in Annapolis, we’d drink, we’d
My new friend Ruby was teaching me laugh, we’d breathe the air which smelled
how to speak German on the shuttle. She the same as the sea in front of us, the wind
has red hair and green eyes. She took blows our long hair, ships sealing by. We
German for 4 years. Most people I met were always waiting for rainfall in Annap-
here; they took a European language in high olis. It’s been years since my father left; he
school at least for 2 years. went to Paris years ago then never came
back. I see photos of him on the news occa-
I didn’t. sionally; wine and dine, under the exquisite
chandelier in front of his paintings. Who is
My Latin is horrible. he, who was he? He used to be a great man,
married my mother in France, adopted me
My headache was back when she tried somewhere; a dusty corner in the world. He
to teach me how to say good morning in told me I’m a mix-race Eurasia child; a child
German. She taught me, Guten Morgen, who looks like a painting he wants to finish
Guten Abend and how to curse; Fick Dich.
She laughed,‘We could use it to tell nasty
Adelaide Literary Magazine
once appeared in his lofty dream when he since that rainy day. My mother was calm
saw my picture on the NGO’s agent’s table, and smiling. She poured herself a glass of
he gazed at my photo; he looked at my eyes, wine. She told me to go to Lydia’s house.
then nodded to that woman. Now he left,
the numbers are on the check, but his face I did.
is blurring, fading away, and I stopped using
the umbrella since the day he left. I didn’t use the umbrella my father
painted for me. I walked to Lydia’s house
Lydia, Matthew, and I went to St. John’s under the pouring rain.
College’s summer school back in our high
school junior year. We did the ancient My mother threw a divorce party, she
Greek tutorial. We read the great books, we invited all her friends in DC, Annapolis, Vir-
smoked and vaped at the quad every day. ginia and Chevy Chase. Lydia’s house is close
We watched high school seniors visit our to the Annapolis museum, next to some nice
neighbor school- The Naval Academy and trees that make you feel like Amsterdam
wondered who will make the journey. in autumn, but you can see the American
flag downtown through her window. I cried
Lydia Matthew, Ivan and I grew up in and cried on Lydia’s shoulder. My laptop
Annapolis. I never left the east coast as a was dying. I couldn’t type the story I was
sick child who had pneumonia. Lydia travels writing. I’ve been writing short stories since
around the world since elementary school 7th grade. She made me my favorite French
every summer. She brought me gifts from parfait.
Europe, sent me postcards wherever she
went. Both of our mother work at the same ‘You need to eat, sweetheart.’ Lydia said
university as international law professors. to me.
Her mother introduced my mother one of
the best child psychiatrists in DC for me. Our mothers were drinking and partying
Lydia coordinated our theater club rehearsal together, celebrating my mother’s divorce.
schedule and gave my mother the right one
at last minute. That’s how she helped me Only Lydia and I were in their big house.
skip those sessions. The world was raining. Annapolis was
raining. Leo Strauss used to live in Annapolis.
When we were kids, we played on the He passed away from pneumonia in Annap-
main street after school. Those navy college olis. I was a sick child for years when my par-
boys always greeting back to us. Every Hal- ents adopted me, pneumonia, Doctor Devin
loween If they saw us at the city dock, some said. My parents took me to Anne Arundel
of them who knew our parents ever gave General Hospital, where Leo Strauss passed
us candy. So did their friends. We watched away, every two weeks for my sickness. My
college boys come to The Naval Academy father never told me to be strong because
wearing their beautifully designed white he was worried that I will die soon; that half
uniform for 4 years. They danced with Russian, half Chinese little girl he wanted to
St. John’s girls who were learning ancient paint, might die anytime.
Greek, spokes English and French, read the
great books. Those Navy boys became men, Lydia is the only one who firmly believes
then left this city. They come back for col- that I will survive since the day we met as
lege union. My father, he never came back little girls, she chuckles, she hugs me, she
says, Madeline, you will live. Then we grow
up, she tells me:‘You will live, you will live
Revista Literária Adelaide
longer. You will live much longer than Sylvia class for our Jewish literature discussion,
Plath. I want you to live longer than Toni Tevye the Dairyman and The Railroad Sto-
Morrison.’ ries, his daughters and their marriages. Last
time only I got my professor’s joke:‘No, I
We’ve been waiting for rainfall since didn’t go to Woodstock.’
the day my father left. A rain came then
stopped. Then we expect another pouring I managed to switch a single dorm with
rain. I broke up with the boy I’ve been a girl before school started.
dating for a year from our high school’s the-
ater club before the summer break of high In a small town close to an Amish county,
school junior year. I felt he was too young even a fake ID is luxury.
We ordered liquor online. Every Friday
It is what it is. night, my friends and I could throw drinking
parties at my dorm, they say Madeline
‘You know, this city spoiled those navy Hayes is the best bartender on campus.
boys. We spoiled those navy boys.’ Lydia Then we doll up and go to frat parties be-
once joked the day before our summer ends. cause I got all the invitations. I got bored
after two months. The weather started get-
‘No. We didn’t. Maybe our parents did. ting annoying, so I stopped going to parties.
And St. John’s beat them at croquet every
year.’ But I still have all my liquors.
‘That’s also true.’ Who would believe a scholarship girl
drinks every Friday night?
‘Lydia, do you want a navy boyfriend?’
They always joke about that. St. John’s girls, I lost my copy of The Odyssey. Senior
Navy boys. But I don’t want a navy boy- year in high school was intense.
friend. We’ve been looking at them since
we were toddlers. Those white boots are I didn’t know where my thick, heavy
cool. But I want someone who wears a suit Greek book was. Those books, Latin, Greek,
and reads Leo Strauss and Deleuze.’ The Odyssey, Plato, math, and ambitions;
back in high school I thought I would be one
‘Like a St. John’s boy?’ of those people; throwing Latin and Greek in
a casual conversion as easy as eating British
‘No. Look at them, they are wearing breakfast, writing poetry and essays in col-
T-shirts like all college boys. I don’t know. lege, then I will have a long, white dress for
Maybe college boys back in the 50s who debate society.
reads Leo Strauss and Deleuze.’
Everyone around me dreamed about
‘Hey, but Navy boy’s white boots are college or after college.
The last day of high school. We pranked
‘I know.’ our principle, took photos, hugged lunch la-
dies who always call Lydia and me cutie pie.
‘That’s Madeline’s laugh I always like.’ We drove to the liquor store on the other
side of town. Matthew’s fake ID still works.
‘Let’s go to the creek.’ Matthew sug-
I skipped my morning class. I was supposed gested when he saw the moon rises.
to wear that varsity-style green dress to my
Adelaide Literary Magazine
There is a creek behind the new dorms Lydia loves Shakespeare and Chaucer.
at St. John’s College if you walk past the
soccer playground where they host croquet Our reading ability was always ahead of
matches with Naval Academy every spring, the other kids.
then cross the meadow, you will see the
creek, a private cabin, and the dock. The next day after my birthday party, I
broke my leg. I was bleeding, my parents
The sky was blue, it was Prussian blue were out of town. Matthew was already
at first, then turned into navy blue with a 5’11 tall at that time. He called his father
few stars. who was teaching at The Naval Academy,
then carried me in his arms to their health
‘Where is Polaris?’ I asked them. center.
‘There.’ Lydia pointed out Polaris to me. ‘Yea, just like when we were kids.’ I
‘Shit, that meadow looks so wet.’
My father left at the end of that summer.
I was wearing a short cotton white dress,
with a frill peter pan collar and small puffed We set a bonfire at the dock.
sleeves with a pair of white canvas sneakers.
Maddie, what do you wanna do?
Mike carried me in his arm, then
laughed,‘Let’s go. Just like when you were Lydia asked me when we were drinking
twelve.’ on the dock. Matthew was there, Ivan was
there, everybody was happy.
I broke my leg back in that summer when
I was twelve. Before that bright summer day, Ivan was putting the marshmallow over
my father was thrilled to throw a birthday the bonfire for me.
party for me at the Lafayette Restaurant
in DC. He and my mother used to cele- ‘Maddie is a baby, we can’t let her do
brate with all their friends for this sick child anything.’ Matthew joked.
they adopted so she could live, and my
father, before he left me, my mother, An- ‘Can I be an artist?’ I took a sip of my
napolis, the country, always told everyone beer. I didn’t look at anyone.
at my birthday party how talented, how
gifted I am, and how he appreciated that ‘Of course. When you said you wanna
his daughter had those talented friends go to Yale Law back in freshman year we
growing up together. were like okay, but we were worried be-
cause we know that even though you are
I read Gigi and The Cat when I was 10, my smart enough to be a badass lawyer like
father kept the secret for me. He took Lydia your mom, you won’t be happy.’ Lydia put
and me to an indoor play reading event; a her arm on my shoulder.
play adapted from Gigi written by a friend
of his. We were sitting on a purple velvet ‘My mom hates me. She hates my dream
couch listening to those actors reading their because she hates my dad.’
‘But we love you. You can be the black
Mother would be mad. sheep among us. I just want to be a fucking
banker at first, even though those mother-
I read L’Amant in French when I was 12. fucker finance people bore the fuck out of
me. Then I can buy art and fund artists like
Revista Literária Adelaide
you.’ Lydia handed me a string of marsh- He doesn’t know I’m going to college,
mallow. which college, where is the college, when
does the college start. And I never left the
Ivan›s goal was to get himself into a east coast. I was scared to death of leaving
top investment firm. Matthew got into the the east coast.
University of Chicago. He will stay in that
heaven until he’s 32 at least, get a Ph.D. in We took a trip to New York before my
Social Thought or go to a top law school. Midwest college life starts.
‹Then that›s it. You guys need to pray for When we were kids, we watched a
my hair.› Matthew laughed. movie at Matthew’s house. Matthew’s dad
is a Navy officer; he always stays in DC. We
I didn’t get into the University of Chi- barely see him at his home in Annapolis.
cago, despite the fact that I won the Con- Sleepover at Matthew’s home is the coolest
gressional Art Competition. I didn’t even get thing ever. His older brother allowed us to
into Bard College. I will go to a small town in watch movies like Resident Evil, Final Des-
Midwest, a liberal arts college in the middle tination. One night, we watched The Hap-
of nowhere because they offered me a full pening. That was the first impression I had
scholarship. Lydia would fly to California. of the Midwest, cornfields, and…. corns.
Her name was on our high school honor
board; Lydia Chang, Stanford University. ‘What else do they have in that town?’ I
put a cherry lollipop in my mouth.
We were dancing under the bonfire, the
wind blew our hair with the music, Matthew ‘Amish.’ Ivan said.
was singing Soft Cell’s Tainted Love.
Everyone laughed. Lydia bought
You need someone to hold you tight Broadway tickets for us. My best friends did
everything to cheer me up before my mis-
And you’ll think love is to pray erable Midwest semester: Broadway shows,
immerse theater plays, trending restaurants.
After all that traveling; those nights When I was in that tiny theater watching
drinking under the stars, listening to old Drunken Shakespeare, I was laughing all the
songs, talking about philosophy, politics, time. At Westsider Rare and Used Books,
arts, and our dreams, how much did we a man who’s wearing a white shirt put his
grow up? hand on the same book as me, his eyes,
electric blue, like my father’s eyes, but their
My father never phoned, never texted, eyes are different, much much different.
never spoke about me during his interviews.
I don’t exist in his flamboyant, high-culture ‘You can have it.’ I said.
world. His check appears on the third day
of every month. All those days we spent to- ‘Thank you, my lady.’ He smiled.
gether; umbrellas he painted for me, Hal-
loween costumes he made for me, story ‘What’s your name?’
books he read for me, painting skills he
taught me. He taught me how to taste wine. ‘Pierre.’
Those memories were washed away in that
rainy day he left. ‘Madeline. Will we meet again?’ I asked.
Those times were stolen. ‘Maybe. You never know what will
happen when it comes to time and destiny.’
Adelaide Literary Magazine
Lydia bought me a teddy bear plushie at all over the country or somewhere in the
the M&M Store on Time Square before we world.
drove to the airport. The sky was gloomy.
I heard them talking in the car:
So, this is Cleveland.
‹Is your dad/mom home? Okay then
The air smells different. let›s go to your place. We can›t drive home
Our school shuttle picked us from the
airport. ‘Tell my mom to stop reading my diary.
Oh, I fucking burned my diary.’
The crepuscular sky took the town into
vulgarity. I thought, I’m going to a liberal ‘Sweetie, Maddie, she’s not reading
arts college, I’m supposed to leave vulgarity your diary. I’m texting her. I told her we are
behind. Leo Strauss told us; Liberal educa- having a Latin study night and sleepover at
tion is liberation from vulgarity. my house.’ Ivan bulked my safety belt,‘Lydia,
what the fuck is she talking about?’ He
I looked outside through the tiny window whispered.
on the shuttle: uneven corn fields, grey
poorly designed buildings passing by. ‘That was in middle school.’
The Greeks had a beautiful word for ‘You don’t know?’ Mike throw some
“vulgarity”; they called it, apeirokalia, lack chocolate to Ivan:’ Give that kid a snack.’
of experience in things beautiful.
‘Evelyn read her diary. She was sort of
Leo Strauss didn’t lie. sad for Maddie didn’t get over the divorce
but also mad at Maddie for overly missing
I miss my hometown. I miss Annapolis. her dad.’ Lydia explained.
The bus stopped. That was a long night. Many, many nights
like this. I remember. I remember those
Nathan carried my luggage to my dorm nights when it’s midnight, and the street-
on the 3rd floor. Lydia, Matthew, and Ivan lights were warm and shimmering. When
secretly put a huge bag of snacks into my we were back to our house at Annapolis,
luggage and a copy of Nature Right and His- Ivan’s place, or Lydia’s house where I can
tory. I found out after Nathan left. see the American flag, or Mike’s house close
to the theater and city dock cafe at down-
They left a note in my luggage case: town, my brain was dazzling, Lydia would
help me change my pajama.
Gifted kids lift each other.
‘I think there is a sense of happiness I
We’ve been friends since little kids. Our can catch when I’m drunk, that lovable eter-
parents are busy with their careers. I barely nity I can embrace.’
cried before my adolescence. I heard my
mother complain to their parents about me, They told me each time I said this to
she couldn’t understand my temper and my them as a goodnight before I fell asleep.
tears since I reached puberty.
Gifted kids lift each other.
They always took me out of bars in DC
after I got drunk with those men in law I skipped new student orientation and
school in our high school junior year. Four sexual education because I think it’s stupid.
or five out of seven of our parents were
Revista Literária Adelaide
It’s been three months. ‘Oh my god, Maddie. Thank you so much.
You make me like, extra pretty. Guys look at
And I skipped my morning class. me. Maddie makes me like an Instagram
You know what my Jewish culture pro-
fessor told me? In her tiny office, full of ‘Hey, Ruby. Meet us at the corner table
beautiful vintage Yiddish language posters at dinner after your rehearsal.’
on the wall, history books on the dark red
wooden shelf. She was sitting in front of me. ‘Why?’
Her coffee was cold. She said,‘Madeline,
you are smart enough to achieve anything ‘Maddie doesn’t want to talk to some
you want, but you just want to be a bullshit people.’ Nathen said. Alice threw her a‘don’t
artist.‘ ask’ look.
She is right, I just want to be a bullshit ***
I’ve been avoiding those art-major students
I couldn’t even write a trash poem. for a week. Posters, newspapers, twitter, TV
on the wall of our dining hall and student
‘I need a new dress.’ I told my new center, all over campus. There are rumors
friends in college. They laughed. They’ve around. I’m too afraid to ask them.
been telling me I have too many out-
fits. Alice calls me‘a beauty queen’ at our My dad might be back from France.
school. When the school board announced
they were going to cancel our school radio, He probably will visit here, doing an art
there was a petition signing at the student panel, a talk.
center. The girl who was sitting behind the
table recognized me when I was signing my It’s been years, I never heard a word
name: Hey, I know you. You are the girl with from him. Only checks.
pink hair. Oh my god, I just love your outfits
and your makeup. I want to leave.
Ruby was in the Irish dance team for Lydia is busying with internships and aca-
the culture show, I did her makeup. I never demic work, and she is in California.
understand why our college loves to throw
a show like that. After two hours, all the Matthew is taking Math and Philosophy.
pictures would just be mere proof that our
school is dedicated to diversity. But the Ivan is in New York.
truth is a small college is like an extended
high school, not all lunch and dinner tables My mother is in Hague -working on a
are diverse. case.
‘Holy shit, Maddie, you also speak Everyone is busy.
Pierre, that man with poetically deep,
‘My dad is in Paris. He speaks fluent French.’ beautiful, electric blue eyes whom I met at
the vintage bookstore in New York said we
‘That’s awesome.’ might meet again.
‘No, Ruby, it’s not.’ My new friends noticed my unhappy face.
We watch horror movies every Saturday
night. Nathen held my hand, he sits on the
floor, asked me what’s wrong. Bernard took
Adelaide Literary Magazine
me into his arms, he’s the Fulbright scholar Even Mike’s mother knows my mother’s
assigned to our school to teach German schedule better than I do.
language and culture, and we became best
friends since we took Shakespeare and the- I’m going to New York with my parents.
ater together. We’re visiting my grandparents. Uh, and my
uncle’s family. Ivan, will you stay in New York?
‘Maddie, talk to us.’
Yes. Wow, that’s a cute mug. Maddie
‘It seems like my father will do an art why are you so quiet.
panel at our school.’
Nothing, theater class. Thank you Didi.
Alice, Ruby, and the rest arrived. Nathan Love you guys. Talk to you guys later.
sat on the other side of me and we pre-
tended nothing happened. When the boggy ***
man pops out and the music started, he and
Bernard held my hands like Matthew, Lydia We’ve been waiting for rain in Annapolis.
and Ivan used to do.
The man who works at Back Creek Books
‘Maddie’s screaming makes this watch on the main street in Annapolis always
party so freaking fun.’ wears well-designed suits like an English
‘Guys, I won’t be here next week. I’ll see
you guys after winter break.’ Old typewriter behind the show window,
those books placed on the shelves are an-
‘Wait, you are not coming back after tique books, with hard covers and faded
Thanksgiving break?’ gold gilding letters. I walk into this anach-
ronistic vintage place. The man I met three
‘NO.’ months ago is standing there, reading an old
copy of Plato’s Meno. He wears a long black
I’m leaving this dead town. brushed woolen coat and a white scarf, his
eyes, electric blue, like the sea in Annapolis.
I booked a flight back to Annapolis. The
Lyft driver who drove me to the airport said ‘Pierre?’
he knows my professors. He married a bi-
ology professor at my college. ‘Hi, Madeline. How’s life?‘He smiles,
kisses my hand gently.
This is why I hate small town.
‘Great, I guess. I don’t know. I just flew
Maddie, I bought you a new mug. Look back this morning.‘
at the little rose illustration. I saw those
roses; they remind me of you. ‘I told you. We will meet again. See?
Time and destiny.‘
Lydia texted me when I was at the air-
port in our group chat. ‘What are you doing in Annapolis.‘
Hey, my little devils, who’s coming back ‘Oh, just visiting. I want to pick up some
to Annapolis for Thanksgiving? I asked. books. I live in Georgetown. But I have a
house here. It’s not far away. May I have
Maddie, do you wanna come to my house the honor of asking the lady who’s been in
for dinner? We want you to come. I want you my mind for the last three months to have
to meet my new girlfriend. My mom said Ev- lunch with me?‘
elyn won’t be back until next January.
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‘Of course.‘ caught his Latin and classics major jokes;
he threw dozens of famous writers’ anec-
It starts raining. dotes on the table to make me laugh. The
first time in my life, I manage to transform
I lied to my best friends about my where- my teenage pessimistic life story into a great
abouts. For years they’ve been taking care comedy full of sarcasm and jokes.
of me; however, I tried my best to love them
back, but how, how am I going to do some- His house has a full shelf of vintage
thing real to love them back? Am I even I’m books in French and German, along with
capable of love? his vinyl collections. I buy vinyl albums for
Lydia every Christmas. Christmas used to
I was a just a sick child abandoned by be fun before my father left. After he left, I
the world, my father picked me from a dark spent most Christmas Eves at Lydia’s house
corner from somewhere on the other side because my mother travels all the time. The
of earth to this free land with ocean, old next morning under the Christmas tree at
books, old songs, my best friends, those my mother’s house, there would be lots of
boys wearing white boots studying in Naval gift boxes from Lydia, Mike, Ivan, and their
Academy and gave us candies when we parents appeared like magic.
My parents would only give me money.
‘What’s in your little head?‘Pierre asks
me. ‘Can I have some whiskey?‘I saw the li-
quor on the shelf in his kitchen.
‘My dad. I haven’t seen him for years.‘
‘I’m sorry young lady, but the answer is
‘I’m sorry.‘He holds my left hand then no. You are too young to have any liquor.‘He
put it in his pocket. pats my head then take a bottle out of the
top cupboard,‘May I get you some hot choc-
‘It’s okay.‘ olate?‘
‘Where are you staying?‘He asks me at ‹Sure. ‹
the end of lunch under the dim light.
‘I wanna go to Coney Island one day.‘
‘I don’t want to go home. My mom has a
house in Annapolis. Can I stay at your place?‘ ‘Oh, baby, why do you want to go to
Coney Island? That place sucks. Here, it’s
‘You are not afraid that I might be some not that hot.‘
The hot chocolate he made for me tastes
‘No. I saw your business card when you sweet.
were signing the bill.‘
I wear his T-shirt and sitting on his couch,
‘That was an old one. I don’t work at that lying on his velvet couch. I put my head on
think tank anymore. I work at AQR now. But his lap,‘Why can’t you give me some liquor?‘
sure, let’s watch a movie later.‘
‘Because you are too young.‘
‘I thought my best friend will be the only
person who does quant but reads philosophy.‘ ‘But you are also young.‘
‘Now you found another one.‘ ‘I’m thirty-two. I’m responsible for you,
We barely eat during lunch. We share
the same passion for literature and art. I
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‘My dad gave me wine when I was twelve. ‘You silly girl. We don’t have to do any-
He taught me how to taste wine. Then he thing. Are you tired?‘
left. He’s a famous artist.‘
‘How long has he been gone?‘
‘Let’s go to bed.‘
‘Almost eight years.‘
‘Did you hear the thunder?‘
‘I met him once in Paris. I saw a painting
of you. He said it’s one of his best works.‘ ‘Yes, but don’t worry, you are safe here.
You are safe here.‘He kisses my forehead
It’s still raining in Annapolis. like my father used to do when I was a little
girl many years ago.
I will not go to the Thanksgiving dinner
at Matthew’s house and meet his new girl- He takes me into his arm.
friend next week.
‘You know, Madeline, Leo Strauss is not
How generous of him to say that since right about everything.‘
he never called. I think there is a sense of
happiness I can catch when I’m drunk, that ‘Hey, his ghost is wandering in Annapolis.‘
lovable eternity I can embrace. I am a gifted
child. We read,‘nothing lovable is eternal or ‘You silly, sad child. You are so talented,
sempiternal or deathless, or that the eternal and you are young, there is more you will
is not lovable,’ before college. I know my learn about Leo Strauss. Be strong, my
father’s love for me is not eternal, and he will American girl.‘
never come back. I know. So, do you want
to see me naked or not? I’m almost twenty. It’s pouring in Annapolis.
About the Author
Matilda Zhao is a writer based in Washing, DC. She once
received a full scholarship to study great books at St. John’s
College, Annapolis, later she attended The College of
Wooster at 2018 to study Political Science and Theater. Her
works has appeared on New English Review, The Stardust
Review, Prometheus Dreaming. You can find her on Twitter
by Samuel Stone
The unmistakable foreignness of the body are sure not equipped to mend this burst
is the first thing that occurs to me. It’s the pipe ourselves.
first thing to really occur to me this day,
since I’ve only just woken up, and the things But here and now, on this unprece-
that occurred heretofore did so amidst the dented morning, the large man in the blazer
sludgy grope from sleep to consciousness, and dark t-shirt whose fingers are wound up
thereby obtaining of an ontological signif- into fists, whose gaze sweeps from where it
icance considerably rarefied in comparison was blankly settled to where I am waiting
with this very moment, where I stand in my to greet it, has no signs of clearance. There
bedroom doorway and rub my eyes. is nothing indicating that he belongs here,
that he has been cleared by Mom and Dad.
This figure, however, that, upon the Nor are there any signs of Mom and Dad.
opening of my bedroom door, I’ve discov-
ered standing in the hallway on the second Nothing like this has ever happened
floor of my parents’ house, tall and beefed before, eye contact having just landed like
with muscle, fists relaxed, but fists none- soldiers on a beach—and I almost feel that
theless—my impression of him being here, something is wrong. But the fact remains
sidelong before he turns my way, sharpens, that, if I am being honest, nothing has ever
yet is unprecedented such that I have no really been wrong before, so there is only
data stored in my mind or body upon which the inking of the feeling of wrongness. Since
to base a response. nothing is really wrong (since nothing has
ever really been wrong), I step out into the
Foreign, though, does not necessarily hall and say, “Oh, good morning.”
imply incongruous. Oftentimes with for-
eign entities there exist signs of security Everything becomes very, very wrong in
clearance: a wrench or a flashlight, a tool the selfsame instant that his fist, the size
belt of some sort that indicates the pur- and shape of a volleyball, but packed with
pose to which this person is oriented. In the density and hardness of a Japanese
these cases, their foreignness is accepted, blade, driven by the explosive force of a
welcome, in fact. You have passed the test thousand combusting pistons, collides with
because somebody else with security clear- my left cheekbone, instantaneously disinte-
ance—like, for example, Mom or Dad—has grating it. It is impossible to fathom how he
invited you past the checkpoint; and more- closed the distance between the two of us
over, we’re glad you’re here, because we so quickly, and my body careens back into
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the room, where my legs hit the bed frame way and the blow strikes edgewise the glass
and fling my torso at a fulcrum backwards surface of the desk and unzips it into shards
over it and onto the bed. My head hits the like an icebreaker on a frozen sea. Facing
window and the glass cracks. It’s summer, each other we are centimeters apart, but
and the pain is like nothing I’ve ever expe- I cough and a plume of drywall sediment
rienced—so all consuming that I can hear bursts into his eye, which he squeezes shut.
it; so extreme that it goes past the point of This, however, does not prevent him from
perception, into a realm of non-experienced heaving the unbroken portion of the desk’s
transcendence, and then back down into plate glass surface in a small arc through the
the screaming nerve endings of my body. air and down onto my head in a blast of tiny
bits of glass like diamonds.
Through the broken window, the sum-
mertime pours in. An elbow flashes out and cracks me in
the side of the head, and my head cracks
And then this man is in my room. the floorboards. I’ve never been shot, but
it seems like the pain of being struck by a
There is blood on my hand when I bring bullet would be indistinguishable from this.
it away from the back of my head. It stains Bleeding now from three fissures in my
the bed sheets where I try to push myself skull, contact between hard, flat surfaces
into an upright position and then fingers, made at such high velocity that my skin split
each of whose distal, middle, and proximal open from the sheer force of it, my body
phalanges are like rolls of quarters, wrench expects the continuous relentlessness of
around my throat with the implacability of the onslaught, even if my mind is unable to
a vice tightened to its utmost extreme and ascertain it in language.
rusted over the course of decades into a
piece of intractable sculpture. My hands go I sense, now, that this is not going to
instinctually to his, to where he starves me stop.
of air, to where he’s crushing my windpipe,
but the futility of the effort is obvious. Then, So I roll up onto my side—not because
using my body, he rends a gaping fissure I’ve perceived via my sense modalities the
into the drywall as if it were nothing more gargantuan knee whistling down from over-
than wet paper, tearing in the process the head like a wrecking ball, but because over
“A” (for Anarchy) poster that hung there. the course of the past ten or so seconds,
Dirt and dust explode in a cloud all around I’ve been conditioned to expect, not the
me and the pain is not as bad as the first knee itself, but the notion of the knee in
blow, perhaps since I now have something abstract, the eternal idea of the knee, or
to compare it to. rather, a weapon, any weapon, violence
in general, pain stuck out of time, mani-
On the other side of the wall, I am on festing circumstantially, repeatedly on a
the floor in my sister’s room, but she is no- moment-to-moment basis; again, none of
where to be seen. Then the man is in here. this conceptualized, none of this in actual
I grab a hardcover book on the floor and language—and the tiny glass shards like di-
fling it at him but it opens midair and the amonds shoot needles of pain up through
pages flutter and wind resistance brings it a thousand pin points in the radial side of
ineffectually to his chest, where it deflates my forearm where I pressed it down onto
and hits the ground. Another fist like a the floor to leverage my desperate retreat,
sledgehammer, but I bend just out of the
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where they’re now packed into my flesh in rills, making slick the grip he has on my
and marking like a chaotic but densely pop- neck. He shoots his dry hand for my throat
ulated scatterplot coordinates of origination but before he can get it there I lash out with
for a thousand diminutive droplets of blood, an open palm and plant more tiny shards of
droplets that burgeon into drops, and then glass in the side of his face, which, to the
into greater pools of bright scarlet wetness touch, feels like weather-beaten leather.
that gather in volume past the retention
point of surface tension and spill in depth- He withdraws his hand and presses it to
less streams over what remains of my flesh his eye, blood spurting out from between
there. his fingers despite the effort he makes to
staunch it, and he emits a low scream.
But I find that the knee, just then whis-
tling down like a wrecking ball, had met the I work my left into a fist, the glass shards
floor, and when removed from the splin- crunch deeper into my skin, but I tighten
tered rupture it made where my neck was this weapon for the first time and fire it
located a split second earlier, also bears into the side of his face. All the bones in my
these tiny bits of glass stuck in it through hand break and I scream, but he screams,
the light, polyester, pinstriped fabric, and too, again, louder now, as I’ve sent the glass
the corresponding blood droplets, and it’s shards embedded in his cheek deeper in
when I learn that this man, too, can bleed. and then out the inside of his cheek into his
mouth through small rips so that the side
The left fist now, cutting the atmosphere of his face appears to have been tattered
like the slug from a massive anti-air gun, dis- by buckshot fired from a nonlethal distance.
sociating the mixture of various elements I possess a strength that I did not realize I
in the air from each other so that shock- had, given the fact that with that blow I’d
waves quiver visibly, pressing the oxygen also sent his leviathan frame reeling over
from the nitrogen out in its wake, leaving from his knees and onto his rear, upon
the ether behind it clearer than it’s ever which he landed with a thump.
been. I scrape back just far and fast enough
against the bed to elude it, but in doing so Understanding that I may not get an-
shred my palms to raw, bloody meat on the other chance like this, I pounce with the full
glass shards that are still all over the floor. weight of my body motivated by the max-
The force of the missed blow pulls with it imum possible force of every muscle in my
the man’s entire prodigious figure so that legs and my apparently great will to survive.
his shoulder lands on my chest, but, fortu- I am pummeling his face with my shattered
nately, not hard enough to break anything. and good hand alike. I do not discriminate—
shockwaves of pain exploding in the ends of
With one arm he pushes back off the my arms and screaming all the way up their
bed to right himself and with the other goes length like raging firestorms, shooting blow
again for my throat, but the glass shards after blow, breaking fingers in both hands till
are still stuck in both my hands, so I secure they’re flaccid and formless, not letting this
them around his tree trunk of a forearm, flaccidity or formlessness or terrible pain
whose adamantine solidity is indistinguish- prevent me from driving my continuous and
able from massive cords of rebar, and rake relentless onslaught unto this monster.
off as much of his skin as I can. I get quite
a bit. And the blood pours down his arm When all the fuel is used up, I stop.
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He lays there inert, and it occurs to me force, blasting my breastplate into at least
that I do not want to kill this man, even two pieces, sending me caroming headlong
though he wants to kill me. Not only do I into my parents’ bedroom, where, again
not want to kill him, I want not to kill him. I or still, there is no sign of them. I smash
am able to note the distinction as thoughts into the television and feel the glass of the
gradually begin again to shape themselves screen give as it breaks into a more or less
in the form of language. All I want is to not rotationally symmetrical spiderweb. Fuzzy
be killed. But I do not want to kill. And since static electricity discharges over my body,
he is done, since this is over now, I, with the raising the hair on my arms.
necessary deployment of the entirety of my
fatigued human will, stand up from where Then another fist like a cannonball, but I
he lays there amidst scraps of flesh and drop to the floor and it smashes through the
blood, broken glass and splinters of wood glass and electronics of the TV set—sparks
and chunks of busted up drywall, and turn flying, wires and cables torn and exposed—
to go. and out the other side. With his punched-
through arm, he lifts the flat screen and
Despite the great inclination I have to brings it down onto my shoulder, which I
collapse into sweet, motionless rest, I stand. feel snap out of its socket. I scream again,
I hold my broken hands in each other like and when I hear the sound, I know that
small animals, and limp out into the hall. I it’s me, but it is not a sound I knew I was
am afraid to feel where he demolished my physically capable of emitting prior to this
cheekbone, but I touch there tentatively moment of ultimate, animal necessity. To
anyways because I cannot resist testing produce such a sound is physiologically new,
it. It feels disgustingly soft and deflated, a so I both hear it and literally feel its utter
sickly and unnatural spot whence infernos strangeness. When I try to press myself up
of pain sweep over my entire skull. I don’t off the floor with my dislocated arm, it col-
know what my plan is. Get down the stairs lapses uselessly beneath me in a wave of
for one thing. Get help. blinding agony. I fall sideways, greeting with
my face a long, narrow shard of glass from
But before I can reach the first step I the TV, which pierces my cheek from the
hear the scrape of glass against the floor. I outside, enters into the cavity of my mouth,
turn back and see him sitting up. He rotates and exits through my opposite cheek.
and looks at me, panting and then growling
through gritted teeth, sending through his Somehow I manage to sit up, and the
good eye a rage so violent that it exists al- man, who has knelt down to my level, stares
ways either before or after thought, but psychotic glee straight into my eyes. I am
never concurrent with it. When he removes sobbing through the presence of the glass
his hand from his face, there between his fin- shard lodged in my mouth and every wrack
gers, he is holding his other eye. He presents of every sob means a spike of horrific ex-
it as if to signify how little it means to him. cruciation, but I cannot stop. I cough and a
Then he swallows—the shards of glass that cloud of blood spatters out onto the man’s
were in his mouth—and spits up a stream of face, bisected, however, by the horizontal
blood. He is gruesome and smiling. glass shard so that it stains him like a mist
of spray-paint, but leaves a narrow, latitu-
His shoulder splits the air like a lightning dinal bar of his skin untouched. It looks like
bolt and meets my chest with an eruption of
Revista Literária Adelaide
war paint he donned himself, and he only head, where I plant the instep of my bare
smiles, so I flame my head forward without foot with enough violence to send him
any premeditation or warning of any kind, toppling over onto his side. There is that
and somehow, again with neither thought mysterious strength, coursing now through
nor language, I am able to viscerally un- my legs, since they have become my most
derstand that I am changing, that perhaps viable weapon, with which I wallop him
I have changed in a way that is permanent, again since he’s down—a blow that sends
from something now and forevermore ir- him onto his back, where he continues to
retrievable, because I can sense—through clutch his face.
the burning, overstrained nerve endings of
my fractured skull—that I have destroyed I brandish the long, narrow shard of
his nose. Through the mere skin of my glass.
forehead, for a split second before pulling
it away from his ruined face, I am able to Given the futile condition of my hands,
sense each and every individual fragment my grip is tenuous at best, so in order to
of bone into which I have just, with a single secure the conditions in which I will be most
fluid motion, devastated that previously co- suited to perform my final task, I bring my
herent object, and I know I have changed leg up as high as I can and fire it down—like
because of the fact that I am thrilled. I am a supersonic missile in its glowing, white-hot
proud of every single one of them. reentry into the earth’s atmosphere, sound
barrier broken, sound you can see—into the
He falls back on his ass again, and this man’s groin, mashing all of its soft parts into
time, covering his annihilated nose with a spongy, homogenous paste.
both hands, he roars. It is now my turn to
smile with psychotic glee, whose psychosis There is another screech of horror, and
is especially severe given that his eyes are (both) like (and unlike) the one I’d emitted
slammed shut, the fact of which means that earlier, it is a sound unprecedented to my
the effects of the smile are for me alone; aural perception, something brutal and an-
and also given that I am now slowly extri- imal, but at the same time, unambiguously
cating the long, narrow shard of glass from human; as in, although I know in this mo-
my face by pulling it, not back out the way ment that I’ve never before experienced a
it went in, but all the way through the other sound quite like this one (a knowing that is,
side, making the bleeding twin holes in my of course, devoid of all thought, language,
cheeks of equal size and shape with each and any other potential mode of explicit,
other, like the blush of a demented killer conscious conceptualization), as we are all
clown. wont to realize viscerally in any moment
of unprecedented experience, whatever
I rock up onto the soles of my feet and its character may ultimately be, that it is
press myself back to full height. Looking unprecedented—this singular feeling that
down, it is momentarily comical that I am suffuses you in the face of something truly
still wearing plaid pajama pants. Then I flash new, the sense that you’re being reminded
out my leg so fast that its gleaming trace of, awoken to the fact that you are alive;
arcs through the air behind it, the space fol- perhaps, for instance, like when you see
lowing each fluid instant of the trajectory the sun flickering off the vast, turquoise sur-
it makes en route to the side of the man’s face of the Pacific Ocean for the first time
in your life, and feel a light humming over
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the exterior of your body, something akin the accumulated force of gravity’s rate of
to fear, but not quite the same thing—, I acceleration in some sort of mathematical
know that it could not have originated from combination with his physical mass and
a source other than one that is undeniably the distance he traveled to get there, he
human, and in this way, become aligned crushes me into the stone tile, then stands
with the man, and remember what I’d and drives his foot into my stomach, a kick
felt earlier, but had temporarily forgotten, that sends me sliding across the hard sur-
something which, despite the irrevocable face of the floor and into the kitchen.
transformation that has taken place within
me, I nonetheless still feel: namely, that I do It’s too much. I am finished. I understand
not want to kill this man. I both do not want for the first time in my existence, without
to kill him, and want not to kill him. any language whatsoever, the true mean-
ings of this term. I can do no more in the
So I let slip from my fingers the glass face of this ineluctable machine. I have
shard and it sticks into the floor. Hobbling resigned myself to death, accepted my
out of the room, back into the hallway and fate, closed my eyes, after one last glance
towards the staircase, clutching my useless, in his direction, to where he stands in the
dislocated arm to my side, because to let front room at the bottom of the staircase,
it hang and swing on its full weight is too huffing clouds of visible air from his busted
painful, I sob. I am two steps down when nose and growling lowly, smiling again now,
what feels like the force of a shotgun blast removing his jacket so as to maximize me-
against my back sends me sailing out into chanical efficiency for the final stage of this:
the ceiling, which, halfway over the stair- the kill.
case, angles sharply down, and against
which my nose shatters in repayment for I am fine with it. His feet hit the floor
what I’d done to his, and though the im- with hollow booms as he begins the unhur-
pact sent my legs out forward and my head ried trek to where my impending death and
backwards and down to plummet into the I lay bound up together in a pathetic pile.
wooden steps, whence my entire body then I am seeking sleep now. I am fine with it.
rolled a crumbled heap to the first floor, it He can do nothing worse to me. He could
seemed as if time—in the moment at which remove my fingernails with pliers. He could
my nose exploded—halted, and then lin- tear my eyelids from my face and, with a
gered… consciously coerced me into devel- straight razor, methodically shave my eye-
oping a patient and intimate understanding balls a layer at a time down to nothing. I am
of this fresh suffering. fine with it. Whatever he needs to do. I am
fine with it. Whatever he wants to do. I am
The man leaps into the air at the top of fine with it. He can do it now. I will let him.
the staircase and brings his full weight down
onto the first step, which rends in two and His gait is slow. His resounding footfalls
gives way for him to surf down the rest of are far apart. Each one hits the tile like a
them, cleaving each one after the other in thunderclap and contemporaneous mush-
a whirling storm of splinters, bursting with room clouds of dust plume upward around
renewed vigor towards my wrecked body his legs. The sunlight coming in through the
and the culmination of his goal in obliter- window behind him sends a backlit shadow
ating it. When his figure meets mine with past his hulking figure and longwise over
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And the air tastes sweet. It is still end-over-end at him one after the other
summer, just as much as it was when I wasting no time at all. He dives and rolls
woke up and today wasn’t different from out of the way of every one and back into
any other day. The birds chirp outside. The the front room, the course of his movement
sounds they make are the synesthetic equiv- traceable by the path of kitchen knives that
alent of star-shine. They flutter around the stick quivering out of the far wall in an un-
birdfeeder on the back deck. The sounds of dulating line.
the small summer birds comfort me. In the
time the man takes to cross the distance, It is quiet for a second, and then he
my breathing becomes slow and deep, in- bursts through the perpendicular wall. I
haling, exhaling, the stuff of the world into dodge his freight train of a body and he hits
my being and back out into the world. The the kitchen sink, pushes off it like a wrestler
light behind my eyelids dims and I know it off the ropes, and body slams me through
is due to the shadow he casts. the hole in the wall and back into the front
room. But I grab onto his shirt and take him
I open my eyes. with me, allowing myself to fall backwards
into a roll, and legs kick him off me and into
He lashes his boot out at my head. the front wall of the front room, where a
framed print of a Chinese Daoist landscape
I bring my arm around and deflect it. painting falls and hits him on the head.
His body follows the course of the mo- I’m on my feet again when he hurls the
mentum, and I follow up with an immediate painting flatwise at me like a disc, but I kick
strike in the analogous place on his other it down to the floor.
leg, which sends him stumbling into the
kitchen counter. In a second, we’re back in close range of
each other, trading jabs, crosses, hooks, el-
I am on my feet, bows, and knees, as well as blocks, dodges,
and deflections, all in a blinding frenzy,
advancing. each of us landing blows in even exchange,
panting, sweat flying off us.
I swing at his head in a wide arc, which
he ducks and then resurfaces, bringing with We each lash out to kick each other at
him a ferocious uppercut, which I knock precisely the same moment and knock each
back down with my knee. other back. We stand there and stare, each
awed at the fact that the other has yet to
He spins outside, redirecting the force desist. The exhaustion is still there, how-
of the block into a furious roundhouse ever. We’ve just learned to fight with it,
aimed for my head, which I duck and then through it. I want to turn and walk away, but
resurface with a flying knee intended for his I believe now that that will never happen.
chin, but which he snatches from the air and
uses to whip my entire body over his head, Fighting again, locked together, grap-
scraping me against the ceiling as he does pling, rolling, throwing each other into
so, and throw me across the room. I orient surfaces, launching attack after attack,
myself midair and land in a roll, from which mounting defense after defense, launching
I pop back up to my feet before skidding to yet another furious attack and mounting yet
a halt beside the knife set. another obdurate defense.
Directly from the wooden block in which
they’re housed, I begin flinging knives
Adelaide Literary Magazine
My body never stops moving, and at adult to comfortably reside, whose floors
some point I notice that I’m landing more creaked and groaned beneath an unsup-
strikes than I’m receiving, giving more hits portable weight, in a dirty apartment whose
than I’m getting. I sense his strength dimin- tenants were always only passing through,
ishing, his speed abating, which encourages in a overrun city that screams ceaselessly
my fury, so I direct blows to his gut, knock its internal discontent, its history of vio-
the air out of him, and then send a volley lence and displacement, which crawls with
of strikes up his torso and into his face. I execrable, disease-ridden vermin, whose
crush his knee with a vicious kick and when streets swirl with trash, whose subways are
he is on his back, I waste no time. Sitting soaked in the reeking piss of the forsaken,
astride his chest I direct punch after punch whose government extorts money from
into his already ravaged face. I do not want the poor on the pretense of law and order,
to kill him, but I do this until the sun burns whose inexorable processes issue forth into
out. I want not to kill him, but I do this until the air, land, and oceans the very death it-
the gravitational relationships of the gal- self of the this planet and its lifeforms, and
axies have shifted such that the cosmos is who, for all its unforgivable deplorability,
unrecognizable. All I really want is to live is not even the only or worst of its kind, it
freely, and so I do this until the last of the seemed to me that the static, anhedonic
firmamental lamps deflagrates into quiet sadness of the twenty first century West,
darkness, until the universe expands to its the malaise born into our collective soul as
inevitable apotheosis and begins its retreat the consequence of our relentless money-
backwards through time into an unfathom- and pleasure-seeking, a desire for comfort
able singularity. And when I am finished, transmogrified into a desire for everything,
when I am standing and have turned to go, a quiet restlessness, a nagging dissatisfac-
to step outside into the summer morning, tion, like an eyelash stuck on the surface
all quiet and bright and still, the man opens of your eye, hardly a feeling at all, more
his eyes, stands and cracks his knuckles, like the feeling of a feeling, prototypically
looks at me, smiles… vague, historically subconscious, scientif-
ically undiagnosable, was gathering into
This was a dream I had, and when I something greater than mere numbness or
awoke, I was not rested, but fatigued from passive acceptance, developing into some-
the struggle for my life, which was never de- thing more potent than inert neutrality
cided, but just kept going. or exhausted insouciance, deadly light
flashing amidst dark, bulbiferous storm
The next night, I had what was virtually clouds, pressing into landfall over a violent,
the same dream—the essence of its content swelling ocean, heaving blow after blow
was the same; it differed only in superficial against an eroding shoreline, accumulating
appearance—and when I awoke, I worried like grains of sand in an hourglass, piling up
that a pattern was emerging. into an unstable structure, portending an
inevitable collapse, and I supposed that I
It happened again on the third night, and had finally to consider reckoning with the
when I awoke, a grown man in a twin-sized distasteful notion of the possibility that I
bed soiled by night-sweat and sad, lonely was unhappy.
semen, in a bedroom far too small for any
Revista Literária Adelaide
About the Author
Samuel Stone is a precocious-philosophy-literature-double-major-turned-struggling-fiction-
writer. He lives in New York.
by Ciaran McLarnon
From a distance they seemed smooth and ‘Natural enough’, he nodded then con-
angular, but still snow managed to cling to tinued,‘I travel so much it seems I encounter
the slate-grey peaks that kept the landing turbulence almost every month. It isn’t a
strip secluded. Bryce watched through the problem for me, probably isn’t a problem
porthole beside his seat as the plane jud- for most travel writers, but I must admit I’m
dered and groaned through the mountains. always glad to stretch my legs when I land.
It weaved through the crosswinds as it de- I never seem to be able to get enough leg
scended to heights where Bryce could dis- room! Do you plan to stay in the area long?’
tinguish fields and then trees. He allowed
himself a contented smile when the roads ‘I live here,’ the woman responded curtly,
around the airport came into focus; they trying to get the attention of the steward.
appeared to be almost empty of cars. He He was sitting down, fastening his seatbelt
thought of the early days of aviation and in anticipation of the landing.
imagined rusty, noisy, propeller-driven cargo
planes screeching to land at bumpy airstrips. ‘It’s a lovely place’, admitted Bryce,‘shame
He leaned back, drummed his fingers against it’s so cold. But it will get even colder for me,
the rests slightly; closing his eyes to picture I’m going to a village in the mountains.’
an era when adventure and exotic experi-
ences were easy to find. With all this turbu- ‘Very good,’ the woman said, looking
lence he could almost believe he had trav- in the pocket in front of her for the flight
elled back in time 70 years. But he opened safety instructions.
his eyes and watched the woman in the seat
beside him grip the grey leatherette uphol- ‘Just as I expected.’
stery.‘It’s okay’, Bryce assured her,‘might be
a bit of a bumpy landing though.’ Bryce made the comment to his neigh-
bour just after the plane had made a
‘Thank-you’, she replied, smiling weakly clumsy contact with the tarmac. From the
but maintaining her grip on the seat,‘but I overhead compartment he got his Panama
have flown before, I just don’t like it.’ hat and brown duffel bag, then joined the
small queue of passengers waiting to exit
the plane. He was nearing the end of his
Revista Literária Adelaide
journey, he could feel himself getting more by meadows close to the airport fed into
nervous, the butterflies in his stomach were them; first travelling through hills of brown
getting stronger. terraces where the village he sought could
be found. Bryce’s mind turned on his ad-
His hand held his hat in place as it was venture-seeking father as he stood with the
buffeted the wind, goose bumps raised the other passengers, waiting for their names
hairs on his exposed arms. He hadn’t real- to be called; he focused on the compass in
ised how much cooler than the capital it his pocket, running his fingers over its rough
would be here; not changing into something surface.
warmer before departure had been a mis-
take. But at least his cream shirt and trou- In a few days Bryce would leave the town
sers matched well with the show-capped and travel to the village where he hoped his
peaks of the blue mountains that loomed search would finish should end his search;
behind the terminal, a coincidence that but he really felt like organising that trip
encouraged him to feel he was prepared wasn’t his problem; somehow a way to get
for the journey ahead. But these feelings there would present itself. He was happy
of preparedness were dampened by his stumbling from one situation into the next,
brown leather sandals; a regrettable foot- as if he was being guided on one last journey
wear choice. In his hand he carried his com- off the beaten track.
pass with a firm grip, a grip that had rarely
relented as he travelled through terminals ***
as he hopped from airport to airport and to
his destination. ‘I’ll have to take a few more days,’ Bryce ex-
plained to his secretary.
Inside the terminal building Bryce again
that feeling that he had travelled 70 years ‘Of course, you take your time’, he re-
back in time, to remote sphere that was plied.
largely untouched by the modern world. The
small, dilapidated airport was refreshing to ‘Thanks, I’ll fly back when I can. I hate to
an experienced and world-weary traveller miss more classes, but I need to do a few
like Bryce. He was welcomed by a member things here.’
of airport staff who then checked his pass-
port.‘Thank-you very much’, he said to the Bryce hated clearing out his father’s
staff member,‘I hope I enjoy my stay!’ house, the house where he too had once
lived; the memories made it take too long,
Bryce had a look around the terminal but Bryce was only one left now. At the fu-
building, waiting for his luggage to be taken neral he was the only one to accept con-
off the plane. It was very functional airport, dolence from the mourners, not that there
with only one café and a terminal building are was many of them. He was the only pall-
grey seating that had become lumpy with bearer, him and a few employees from the
overuse, frayed and split polyester cush- funeral home carried the casket. The few
ions seemed especially uninviting. His eye mourners, perhaps 10 or 15, mainly con-
was drawn to the panoramic view encapsu- sisted of friends and colleagues of his father
lated by the window. Most airports are flat, plus a few distant cousins, from his moth-
desolate places, but here the airport was er’s side. The bright spring day gave Bryce
hemmed by mountains on three sides and more clarity than he wanted, reminding
him that he alone carried his father’s name.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
Bryce was the last of the Evans’s, he hoped He had been clearing his father’s house
he was strong enough to carry the weight. for days and, finally, was about to attempt
cleaning his father’s bedroom. Bryce was a
Despite all his misgivings Bryce enjoyed little anxious, hoping he wouldn’t uncover
times of solitude; he considered it his duty some personal demons that would shock
to clear out his father’s house, and to do it him to the core. He was relieved that he
alone. Old books, old newspapers, old pho- discovered nothing untoward, just that his
tographs; all yellowed with age. The whole father had a scrapbook that seemed to con-
house seemed sepia toned, resigned to tain every article he’d ever had published.
growing old disgracefully; years of neglect
and inconsistent use had finally caught up Bryce was proud that his father had
with it. His father had been a travel writer, been published in National Geographic
his long trips away a reason for the collapse many times and thought of the travellers
of Bryce’s parent’s marriage. But there was guided by his words in Lonely Planet. He
no bitterness from his parents towards each read these articles as words he never knew,
other, only regret at the missed opportunity. more a guide to the author than the lands
he passed on his journey. They lived in the
*** same house, but his father always seemed
to be on the way to somewhere else.
The corrugated iron roof pinged with the
sound of raindrops as he left the airport ‘Be independent Brycie,’ even then, it
and that part of his journey behind. The irritated Bryce when he wasn’t addressed
cold was ripped through his linen shirt; he properly, although he could never mention
decided to look in his luggage for something it to his father.‘You can’t rely on people to
warmer. The streets teamed with people; a do things for you,’ and then his father was
river of humanity rushed past. Under his off.
breath, Bryce cursed those who almost
knocked him over; tutted and moaned as Bryce was lifted from his daydreams by a
he sifted through his luggage on the pave- shoebox in his father’s wardrobe. He found
ment. He sighed as he fished out a jumper a box full of his father’s memories; ticket
and closed his suitcase; and gripped the stubs and hotel matchbooks, a broken brass
brass compass a little tighter. compass greened by time and stained with
tiny rings that Bryce assumed to be water-
A taxi driver shouted as Bryce looked up marks. The missing piece might be the frag-
and down the street; a bewildered tourist. ment that my father sent to me, thought
He opened the back door of his red sa- Bryce. He had received the package some
loon with a cream roof and cream stripes ago, and he had thought the gift strange.
along each side, beckoning Bryce with rapid But his Dad always gave him things that only
Spanish Bryce was too slow to understand. made sense later.
*** As he left his father’s house, he locked
the front door with a sigh, knowing he
‘I return to Boston tomorrow,’ Bryce an- would never visit again. Bryce missed his
nounced to his secretary,‘so I should be students and his classes more each day, he
back in work next week.’ needed to fly back. He missed the respect
he received as a young professor, but it
‘That’s great, I’m sure the faculty will be
glad to hear it.’
Revista Literária Adelaide
was only when away from his classes that was empty apart from a few houseplants
he could be confident he was the smartest and a wooden reception desk, behind which
person in the room. He knew it didn’t sat a girl who looked around ten.
matter, he’d seen many smart students fail,
but the knowledge of his intelligence was ‘Hello,’ she said.
a perennial source of comfort to him. Ac-
ademia was his place, he wondered if his ‘Erm, I think I want a room,’ replied Bryce.
father had ever found his.
He sat in the best room the hotel had,
In his luggage he carried the broken perusing a bus schedule he had asked for
compass to the home he had found. As he at the reception desk. As his Dad had prom-
suspected, the broken piece fitted into the ised the room was cheap; but it was also
reverse of the large compass perfectly and dark, damp and smelled faintly of disinfec-
popped it open; on a hinge between the tant. The only window in the room looked
face and the casing, revealing a compart- out onto a dusty street dominated by the
ment where a piece of paper, now yellowed, dregs of the day’s market, but for Bryce this
had been hidden. The piece of paper was a was a pleasant relief from the oppressive
note from his father that said,‘Dear Bryce, atmosphere inside the room. Across the
you are not alone.’ The note was accom- street were gates to a park filled with trees,
panied by a simple map to find a hidden although at this time of year the leaves
a hidden heritage, cousins from an almost were still very new and just beginning to
forgotten secret. unfurl; and in many cases the twigs crawling
across the sky held buds still waiting for
*** their moment. But at least there was the
pink hue given to the clouds by the setting
Bryce eased his rucksack into the boot of sun reminded him that this world would get
the taxi, the driver then closed it firmly. The warmer. He imagined these trees could be
driver took his seat; the hinges on the door filled with birds, although he couldn’t hear
screeched and whined as he slammed it them above the noise of the street directly
shut, with a force enough to shake the win- below. Out of the sunset came a woman,
dowpane. Bryce’s passenger door closed wandering down the central avenue to the
with less effort. park. Unhurried, the raven-haired woman
was passing each tree, stopping to absorb
‘Where are you going my friend?’ Said the essence of each monument as she made
the taxi driver in his heavily accented En- her way towards the wrought iron gates.
glish,‘Want me to take you to a hotel?’ Suddenly she looked up, her gaze seemingly
fixed on Bryce. Bryce returned her smile as
His father had written that accommoda- she wandered on in her unhurried fashion.
tion here was inexpensive, so Bryce didn’t
worry about which one he was taken to.‘I The gates joined pavements clogged
will take you to a nice hotel,’ the driver as- with people and a sea of cars travelling in
sured him. both directions; a multi-coloured mass of
iron and smoke meandering past the tran-
Bryce thanked his driver as the man quil beauty of the park. Market stalls were
handed him his luggage outside the‘Hotel dotted along the sides of the street, stall
Parodies.’ The reception was upstairs, and holders shouting at cyclists whistling past
the small room, little more than a hallway,
Adelaide Literary Magazine
and preventing them from closing their ‘Great’, said she,‘I’ll go and get changed.
stalls for the day. My name’s Kat.
Bryce cast his eyes back inside, gloom ‘And my name is Bryce. Take your time
clawing back over him. He would depart Kat, I’m in no rush.’
early the next morning to catch his bus, he
would get something to eat a little earlier A few minutes later Kat returned, her
than usual, so he would have time to ex- straight, black hair still wet where the ends
plore. He closed the door on his sparsely swept down to her shoulders,‘it took me
furnished bedroom, decorated in a dark forever to find a dress that was long enough
wood that sucked all light that came to it, to fit me when I was shopping, so I thought
the dull hue broken by the sparkle of the I would wear it before it got all crumbled in
white bed linen. my backpack.’
As he locked his room he wondered ‘It looks just lovely’, replied Bryce,‘there
where he might go. The girl at the desk is a lot of gold in it. I’m sure it’s not gold
might not be the best person to ask. She was thread, but it suits you very well.’
busy when he passed reception, anyway,
talking to a woman who apparently had a ‘Thanks,’ Kat offered,‘I got it in an old
problem with her shower that had not been place downtown. Well it looked old, more
fixed. Bryce stopped as he wandered past, of bazaar really. But they sold fashions you
then looked again; it was the woman he had would never get back home, and the staff
seen in the park. A remarkable coincidence, seemed very happy I was there’
he thought, then furrowing his brow as the
receptionist caught his attention. ‘Yes, it does seem a local style, filled with
gold and red and turquoise, but an Oriental
‘Excuse me’, said the flustered girl behind influence too I think,’ Bryce had noticed a
the counter, Bryce noticing her rosy cheeks dragon scaling down one side of the dress.
for the first time,‘You’re staying here, aren’t
you? Can another of our guests use your Bryce slowed as the pair walked down
shower while you are away?’ the street together, exchanging bits of in-
formation. Kat was from Springfield, Illinois,
Bryce paused before he answered, nar- she was returning home after spending
rowing his eyes and wrinkling his forehead,‘I three months with the Peace Corps,‘I fig-
suppose that would be fine.’ He said to the ured I should see the rest of the country
woman,‘don’t make a mess!’ while I am here, who knows when I will be
here again.’ She had just finished college,
‘Thanks,’ smiled the woman,‘I’ve got an majoring in English.
early flight and I’d like a shower before I eat.’
‘That’s interesting’, replied Bryce,‘I teach
‘I’m looking for a good restaurant! Can English at Quincy College near Boston.’
you recommend anywhere?’
‘But you’re from Wales, right?’, said
‘Oh, I saw a place today I’d like to try! If Kat,‘So how come you ended up in Massa-
you don’t mind waiting, I could join you?’ chusetts?’
Why not, thought Bryce.‘Certainly, I ‘It’s a long story, but….’ Bryce told her
would prefer some company.’ how he moved from Bangor to Boston for
postgraduate study a little over ten years
Revista Literária Adelaide
ago, and he stayed because he no reason ‘Yeah, that makes sense,’ laughed Kat.
to go home. He had found his way into a
professorship; he didn’t quite know how. When they left the restaurant, it was
His father had passed and now he felt alone. later than Bryce planned, but in the plan
he ate alone. His heart beat faster as he
‘Oh, I’m sorry’, said Kat, pulling a shawl thought about tomorrow,‘So what do you
around her shoulders to protect her from think of my travel plans? I hope my cousins
the night air. are pleased to see me.’
Bryce sighed before he confessed,‘It’s ‘Lots of people do that’ mused Kat,‘travel
been a lot to take in, but I think I’m getting in search of their ancestors. I don’t think it
through it. I’m not doing it alone anyway.’ will work for you though.’
He pulled the compass out of his pocket
and showed it to Kat, explaining what it ‘How so?’, replied Bryce, astonished at
meant.‘My father was a travel writer; he her frankness.
is still trying to be a guide.’ He showed his
map to Kat,‘it will guide me to my relatives,’ ‘It’s sad you have no family, but you still
he assured her,‘they are just up there,’ have friends. And guy like you probably has
said Bryce, pointing to the mountains that lots; I think you’re a nice guy and I barely
loomed in every background. even know you.’
‘And so is the place I found,’ Kat re- ‘Really?’ Replied Bryce,‘I thought most
sponded quickly,‘it’s still early, so we should people found me quite obnoxious, on first
be able to get a table.’ impression.’
‘Do you think of the locals eat out?’ Kat considered this for a moment, and
then replied,‘well, you do talk a lot; but that
‘Well the place seemed local, but who gives me time to think.’
can tell? Why are you smiling?’ Bryce wiped
the grin off his face,‘it’s nothing. Just nice ‘Thank-you,’ Bryce smiled as he respond-
when things work out.’ ed,‘most people don’t pick up on my gen-
erosity so quickly. But you’ve had so much
Kat smiled back at him. time to think, what do you fill it with?’
When they arrived at the restaurant it ‘Mostly thinking about what I will do
was empty, and suddenly Bryce wondered when I get back to the States. I think I will
if dinner was such a good idea. He needn’t miss places like this.’
have worried though; the food was good.
‘Yes, it’s having that effect on me too,’
‘I had resigned myself to eating alone,’ nodded Bryce.
he explained to Kat,‘I don’t mind, it’s inevi-
table when you travel alone.’ ‘Are you trying to change the subject? My
point was you’re spending a lot of money
‘People dwell too much on things,’ re- to meet some people who don’t even know
plied Kat without looking up from her you and you might not even like.’
plate,‘not everyone has something inter-
esting to say. When did you decide to be a ‘You’re right, Kat’, he confessed,‘it’s a big
teacher? I might do something like that.’ risk. I think what I really wanted was one
last adventure with my Dad.’
‘I don’t think I like teaching so much as
telling people where they went wrong.’ ‘Getting here at all is an adventure!’ Re-
torted Kat,‘And who says you need to follow
the map exactly anyway?’
Adelaide Literary Magazine
‘Well my dad never did that himself.’ Bryce sat on the edge of his sofa, spinning
his compass on the coffee table. Now he
‘Exactly!’ Kat was silent as they walked had fixed it, it was remarkably well bal-
farther down the street, then spun on her anced. It spun and spun, he stared intently
heel to look back at Bryce,‘You know, the into it and considered if he was ready to go
peace corps said I could come back anytime, back to work. They did say take all the time
they need any extra volunteers they can get. you need.
Why don’t we both go back teach English or
something? What do you think?’ The map continued to intrigue him, and
the note that he had found with it. You are
‘What about your ticket? Won’t you lose not alone. He thought about these words as
money?’’ pulled back his curtains to look at the people
scuttling back and forth on the street below.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ laughed Kat, I’ll just So many, all the different people; meeting
mention the peace corps a few times, I’ll get so many, his dad had never been alone.
a change. How about you?’ Maybe he should follow the map, just to
make sure he got the message.
About the Author
Ciaran J. McLarnon is a writer from Northern Ireland.
He lives in Ballymena, a town close to the North-East
coast. He has written on many subjects, and is currently
interested in History and Nature. His stories have recently
been published in AHF (Alternative History Fiction) and
Gold Dust magazine.
by Stan Dryer
Harry Staunten had travelled far in Thatch- Looking back, Harry wondered if he could
ford. He had run its broad streets in spring- have saved his marriage had he devoted
time, between the ample lawns bright with more time to preventive maintenance. De-
blooming shrubs. He had lapped the track spite warning rumblings, he had assumed
at Langley Park on a summer evening with that the clothes washer, the SUV and his
the Thatchford Symphonic Band in the dis- relationship with Janet would all continue
tant bandstand, filling the warm twilight humming along forever. Then one fateful
with Sousa marches. He had run on bright week in October the washer had, with an
October days, kicking loose from heaps of agonizing whine, seized up in the spin cycle,
fallen leaves sweet autumn recollections of the transmission of his SUV had disinte-
his youth. On one midwinter night he had grated with a painful grinding and Janet had
jogged down to the town center to circle calmly told him that she could not tolerate
the Common with the snow squeaking un- his inability to communicate and would no
der his shoes, the star-pricked blackness longer continue living with him. The washer
above him, and the white steeple of the and SUV were repaired at great expense. De-
Congregational Church bright lit across the spite six equally costly sessions with Marion
way. Marloff, a highly recommended marriage
counselor, Harry and Janet had been unable
All such expeditions were now only to repair their marriage.
memories. Harry’s divorce had ban-
ished him from Thatchford, expelled him Although he could no longer live in
by simple economics. He and Janet had Thatchford, Harry had hoped to stay close
agreed she would keep the big ranch house to the people of his former home town.
on Pineview Road so Freddie and Barbara He was thus pleased when he received an
would not have to face a new and less ac- e-mail from Reverend Hummet of St. Greg-
credited junior high. Harry moved into an ory’s Church requesting a pastoral confer-
apartment in Eastbury, the next town in to- ence. On the appointed evening, Harry sat
wards the city, where the houses were set in the soft familiarity of one of the leather
close together and the hardware stores did armchairs in the rectory study and waited
a brisk business in door chains and dead for his minister to appear and ask him how
bolts. His new abode was bare and white he was adjusting to his new life.
and filled with the muted mumblings of the
other tenants and their television sets. Hummet came in with a rush. “Too many
committees,” he said “I should have gotten
Adelaide Literary Magazine
my degree in Business Admin.” He dropped There was a moment of emptiness on
into the chair opposite Harry, but his thin the line. Then Marvin said, “Gosh, I wish I’d
body did not relax. “Well, I know you’re a known that. I mean I’ve committed to play
busy man, so I’ll come right to the point. Are with Pandat.” Pandat was an Indian gen-
you planning to continue your membership tleman of great startup wealth and tennis
here at St. Gregory’s?” finesse who had moved into Thatchford the
year before and immediately taken the Sin-
“Certainly,” said Harry. “I’m not sure I’ll gles Crown.
be at services as often, but I want to con-
tinue my support.” “I don’t understand,” Harry said. “1
thought it was kind of understood we’d be
The Reverend frowned. “I guess I’m not playing together.”
being too clear,” he said. “In the case of a di-
vorce, we have found that trying to support Again silence. “Well to be honest”,
both parties doesn’t always work out. There is Marvin finally said, “I see this tournament as
too great a temptation for some members to warm-up for the team. And I thought you’d
take sides with resulting schisms in our flock.” be playing for Eastbury now.”
“You want me to resign?” asked Harry. “That’s okay,” said Harry and hung up.
“With the children staying with their From that time on, when Harry picked
mother, that might be best. We wish to offer up his children on his weekends, he took
young folks all the spiritual support we can.” them in to the city to a museum or the
movies. He had no desire to bring them to
A numbness had descended over Harry. local events to face even the disinterest of
“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” he said. his former neighbors.
“I’ll be happy to give you a letter of in- He never took Freddie and Barbara to
troduction to Fred Parkson at St. Anne’s in his new apartment as shortly after he had
Eastbury. When I have preached there, I rented it he had found Winnie. Or perhaps
found the congregation most friendly.” Winnie had found him.
“Yeah, sure,” said Harry. He forced a His plan had been simple. He had rented a
smile, shook Hummet’s cold hand and did two bedroom apartment with the idea that by
not permit himself any audible profanity sharing costs with another bachelor he would
until after he had driven out of the sanctity more than make up for the added rent. He
of the church parking lot. had then posted a request for a roommate
on the bulletin board outside the Human
A few days later Harry called his tennis Resources office at the Megalo Corporation
partner, Marvin Harvester, about the winter where he worked as a Systems Analyst.
tournament. On a weekend each February,
the Thatchford Tennis Association rented Thus he was surprised when a young
the Indoor Tennis Center for a doubles tour- woman appeared at the door to his office
nament, more social than competitive. the next day. She was short and slim with
her dark brown hair close cut and wore a
“I thought you’d moved out of town,” simple business suit.
“Hi,” she said, “I’m Winnie, the new
The tournament is open to previous res- temp Receptionist. I’m sick of the commute
idents,” said Harry.
Revista Literária Adelaide
from the City so I’ve come about your ad for Their life became one of clockwork order.
a roommate.” Winnie kept to herself, only appearing in
the long room that served as kitchen, dining
“Well I…,” Harry started to say. room and living room when she cooked and
ate her meals, then instantly cleared and
“You were looking for a man, right?” cleaned the dishes. Harry seldom cooked
for himself, going out to bring home a ready
“Well, yes.” cooked meal from the local deli or perhaps
thawing a TV dinner from his supply in the
“I’m looking for my own bedroom, a place refrigerator freezer. He did like salads which
where I can cook dinner and I don’t mind he created with care and many varied ingre-
sharing an apartment with a man as long as dients. That had been his one kitchen chore
he doesn’t expect sex instead of rent.” with Janet and the pleasant habit persisted.
Harry spoke almost without thinking. Not that he wanted any more involve-
“Okay. The rent is a hundred a week, that’s ment with Winnie. He was too busy with
slightly less than half of what I pay for the his work at Megalo and with trying to insert
apartment. We’ll split the kitchen cabinets himself back into the life of Thatchford. That
and the fridge. There is only one bathroom Town, he felt, owed him a debt. He had in-
but it has a big closet kind of thing with lots vested fifteen years of his life there and he
of room for linens and stuff. You park on the owned a piece of its heritage. There must
street, but you get a sticker as the street is be some way he could force them to pay up,
reserved for residents only.” He stopped. although he did not know in what coinage.
Where the hell did all of that come from? In his spare moments, he leafed through
he thought. the pages of the Thatchford Weekly Ga-
zette, stale copies that arrived in the mail a
Winnie smiled. “I’ll need to see the place week after door-to-door delivery in Thatch-
first. But it sound like it’s going to work out ford. There he found his answer, an adver-
just fine.” tisement announcing that on a Saturday in
June the Annual Thatchford Classic, a ten
Which it had. Winnie moved in the next kilometer road race, would be run.
weekend. A couple of burley young men
with a host of tattoos wrestled a bed and That same day Harry sent in his applica-
bureau and assorted boxes up the stairs and tion to Madge Whiteward, a fitness devotee
into the second bedroom. Finished, they with whom he had often played mixed dou-
banged a couple of high fives with Winnie bles. He hoped for a nice personal note with
and disappeared down the stairs shouting his reply, but all he received two weeks later
back phony warnings to Harry about Win- was an envelope containing his number tag
nie’s rapacious nature. and a copy of the race rules.
Winnie smiled and shook her head and Meanwhile Harry had started to run.
disappeared into her new room to emerge Every other morning he went forth into the
a couple of hours later with a bunch of flat- late winter darkness to circle the cold empty
tened cartons which she took down to the streets of Eastbury. As he ran, he tried to tell
trash bin in the basement. Harry glanced himself that Eastbury was just as much of
into the room to discover a neatly made a town as Thatchford. The young checkout
bed, a couple of photos on a scarf on the
bureau and no sign of any straggle of other
Adelaide Literary Magazine
clerks at Superpick were no different than “Well, yes,” Harry said, “I’ve been trying
the high school students who worked at to find Main Street back to Eastbury, but I
Wallington’s in Thatchford. The librarians in seem to just go in circles.” He knew Schmidt
the Town Library seemed as pleasant and had already radioed in his plate number and
knowledgeable as their Thatchford coun- must know his name and address.
terparts. He had almost convinced himself
of the parity of his new home town when “Just take the left here. Main Street is
one of his runs took him past O’Neil Recre- the first light. I’ll follow along to make sure
ational Park. Harry stopped and looked in at you don’t get lost.”
its four tennis courts. A single street light il-
luminated the rough asphalt, the hopelessly Schmidt trailed him to the Eastbury line.
short backcourts and the nets made out of The message was clear. Harry made no fur-
chain link fencing. Instantly his thoughts ther midnight expeditions to Thatchford.
went back to Thatchford’s ample clay courts
set in the greensward of Langley Park and The next day Harry laid out a ten kilo-
the pleasure of warm summer evenings meter route through the streets of East-
playing beneath the lights. But a blast of bury that approximated the terrain of the
cold wind cut at Harry and he turned away Thatchford course. Now as he ran each
from the courts to run on up the street be- morning, he mapped the streets of East-
tween the grey shapes of the double decker bury into the broad avenues of his old
houses that stood like the silent ranks of a town. His legs became hard muscle and his
defeated army. wind grew strong. As day by day the trees
leafed out, he cut shorter his time for the
Late that evening Harry drove over to course.
Thatchford. He followed the streets the
race would take, carefully noting the dis- His life with Winnie began to change as
tances between turns and where the hills well. Initially by chance and then by some
began and ended. He was going to run with unstated design they began to eat their
a careful game plan and he wanted to know dinners together, sitting at either end of
the course intimately. the kitchen table and finding much to talk
about. At first it was gossip about work, then
Halfway through his survey, when he bits and pieces of personal matters. Winnie
stopped at the end of Broadview Avenue had a degree in Industrial Design and was
to check the odometer, a flashing blue light temping only until the right job appeared.
exploded behind him. Some wakeful citizen Harry talked about his kids, their weekend
had called the police to alert them of the pas- adventures, the school disasters.
sage of a suspicious older car. Harry quickly
slipped his clipboard under the front seat. Then one evening Winnie suddenly
changed the subject. “Why do you eat that
A moment later a policeman came up crap?” She pointed at the piece of limp pizza
beside his window and shone a flashlight in cooling on his plate.
his face. It was Officer Schmidt, regarded by
the residents of Thatchford as the friendly ”What?”
protector of their lives and property. “You
looking for something?” he asked. His tone “All that frozen stuff, pizza, garbage food.
was not friendly. The only thing that keeps you from dying of
a vitamin deficiency is the salads you make.
And that nice salad dressing.”
Revista Literária Adelaide
“What do you mean, nice salad dressing. “Oh?”
Have you tasted it?”
Winnie frowned with a sudden sad-
“Just one lettuce leaf when your back ness, as if Harry was poking at a half-healed
was turned.” wound. “I mean I wasn’t second or third on
the list, more like tenth. And let’s leave it
“Well,” said Harry, “my dressing isn’t at that.”
near as good as that sauce you put on the
chicken thing you make.” Harry did not pursue the matter further,
but he felt that at least a corner of the cur-
“So who else has been doing tasting?” tain had been torn away.
“Just a spoonful from the edge of the However, when Winnie finally got her
plate. You never missed it.” dream job, there was no reticence to her
delight. They had taken to driving to work
Then they both laughed and Winnie together and, as was her habit, she was
said, “Okay, I’ll cook the entrées and you do checking the mail on her smart phone. “Oh
the salads.” my God!” she suddenly exclaimed.
So Harry moved into a new kind of do- “What? Is something wrong?” Harry
mestic tranquility, side by side most eve- could not tell if it was good or bad news.
nings with Winnie in the tiny kitchen. Their
conversation now edged into more personal “Oh, no, definitely good. I got the job,
matters. He found himself talking about his Harry, dammit, I got the fucking job!” She
running and his feelings about Thatchford. reached over and punched him on the arm.
Winnie did not pry, but listened intently,
with a new seriousness in her eyes. Harry took his right hand off the wheel
and punched her lightly back. “That is so
Yet there was still, he felt, a wall be- wonderful!” he said. But he did not feel the
tween them. It was thin and transparent in wonderful. The job she had applied for was
places, but still a curtain that shielded each in the City. That meant, at the very least, no
from the other. more rides to work together and probably
no more companionable dinners and per-
To break through that curtain, Harry took haps no more Winnie.
a chance. They had just finished dinner and
were doing the dishes. There was no dish- He said nothing for a couple of days, just
washer so Winnie washed and Harry dried. basked in her happiness, in a new Winnie
“Winnie,” he said, “I’ve been talking your bursting with enthusiasm, on the phone,
ear off about my life. Let’s hear something day and night, telling relatives and friends
about yours. Like big romantic relationships the news. Finally, when he felt she had at
in your past?” least one foot on the ground, he broke the
question at dinner. “So what’s your plan?
Winnie glanced up at him, her brows You thinking of moving back to the City?”
slightly knitted, as if she was trying to de-
cide just how much of her past she wanted Winnie tilted her head slightly and
to reveal. “I’m not going to bore you with smiled. “Oh not for a while. I’m definitely
the details,” she finally said. “Let’s just say not going to leave until I find out what hap-
that I had something going that I thought pens at that race of yours.”
was pretty good, but I discovered that I
wasn’t top on his priority list.”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
*** Ahead he saw the gaunt form of Rev-
erend Hummet, moving at a pace just be-
The day of the race was bright and cool. yond a walk. He slowed alongside the min-
Harry had no desire to get to the start early, ister long enough to call out, “Be as a bride-
to then be ignored by his former neighbors. groom who rejoiceth as a strong man to run
He planned to walk unseen into the crowd the race.” As he passed the minister, Harry
just before the starting gun. Thatchford glanced back at him. His face, tight lipped
would notice him soon enough when he with pain, did not indicate any rejoicing.
broke into the lead.
Only the serious runners were now be-
He drove up Main Street under its green fore him. He fought his way forward, passing
canopy of maples. As he approached the the bare muscular backs of a dozen young
town center, the traffic began to thicken and men. There was only one person ahead.
then stalled a hundred yards from the starting Thirty feet in front, ran Marvin Harvester
line. Suddenly people were parking their cars in his tennis T-shirt and white shorts. Harry
and hurrying ahead on foot. Harry swung into kept constant the distance between himself
the last open parking space. He quickly got and his old partner, knowing Hillview Road
out and jogged down the street towards the was just ahead. Taking Marvin was going to
starting line, pushing past couples with chil- be very sweet.
dren and dodging around boys on bicycles.
As they went into the straight, steep
A sea of heads filled the intersection of slope, Marvin slowed perceptibly. Harry did
Main and Church. He entered the crowd and not. His lungs aching, he watched the dis-
tried to worm his way forward into the mass tance to Marvin melt away. As he passed,
of chattering people in shorts and running he summoned enough breath to call out,
shoes. He found a bit of an open space and “Double fault, Marvin, double fault!” The
started to do his warm up exercises but be- top of the hill came just in time and he
fore he had a chance to stretch the tendons coasted down the far side.
in even one leg, the starting gun went off.
He was now all alone in front. He took
Harry had planned to break out of the the turn into Church Street where it curved
front of the pack and stay just behind the back towards the center of town and a
leaders, then pass them eight kilometers straight shot to the finish line where he
into the race where the course took a turn could see the crowd, some waving and
up Hillview Road. But by the time he was pointing with the faint sound of cheering.
free of the mass of overweight matrons and
grade school kids, the leaders were a good Then the dog appeared. Harry had no
two hundred feet ahead. He would simply idea where it had come from, but suddenly
have to make his move now. He put his legs a large golden retriever was running ahead
in high gear and started passing runners. of him. It held a huge stick in its mouth and
it loped along perhaps thirty feet in front.
He came abreast of Marion Morloff in Harry stepped up the pace. No canine was
her cute little running outfit. The marriage going to take this race away from him. The
counselor’s face was already red from exer- dog must have sensed his closeness for it
tion and her breath came in gasps. “Hang ran sideways for a moment and looked back
in there,” Harry called as he went by. “Best at Harry. Then it turned, straightened its
therapy in the world.”
Revista Literária Adelaide
stride, and with frightening ease increased ***
its lead by another twenty feet.
When Harry walked into the apartment, he
The finish line crowd was now close found Winnie sitting at the kitchen table
enough so he could see individual faces. with a cup of coffee. She looked up at him
They were laughing and cheering and with serious eyes. “Well, how did it go? Did
shouting out what sounded like “Come on you win?”
Goldie! Go for it big doggie!”
“Actually a dog won. Guess I could have
Harry realized the crowd was simply been a close second. But second place was
cheering a winner. They applauded whom- not for me. I decided not to finish.”
ever or whatever was in front whether or
not you personally knew the man, woman Winnie smiled just slightly as if she was
or dog. If he had crossed the finish line first, trying to solve a difficult mental puzzle. “So
they would have been simply cheering a what do you mean, you decided not to? And
winner, not Harry Staunten. So what was don’t give me that crap about second place
he proving? Hadn’t he already passed ev- to a dog.”
eryone he wanted to pass.
“I walked away. Thirty feet from the
Then he saw the bottom-of-the-gold-pan finish line. ”
truth. Not only had he passed them all, he
had also left them all behind. “You walked away. Why did you walk
away?” Winnie’s eyes were again very se-
His pace slowed and then he stopped. rious.
He looked down towards the finish line as
the stick in the dog’s mouth tore through “I guess I saw that Thatchford was not
the finish line tape and the animal was the final destination, it’s just another place
smothered in affectionate congratulations, I passed through on the way to somewhere
only a happy wagging tail still in view. But else.” He paused and then he said it. “So,
those people were all strangers. It was not the question is, where are we going from
just a few runners he had left behind, it was here?”
the whole of Thatchford.
Winnie laughed. Harry had never heard
He took one last look at the thirty feet her laugh that way before. It was a sound of
to the finish line then turned and ducked encompassing delight that swallowed him
under the tape that kept the spectators on in its incandescence.
the sidewalk. He pushed his way through
the crowd of watchers, ignoring the cu- She stood up, came over to him slowly,
rious eyes that following him as he walked as if she wished that moment to be etched
the hundred yards back to his car. He stood deep in their remembrance. She put her
by the car door for a moment and looked arms around his neck. For the first time
around, seeing the Town for the first time he felt her warmth, the faint perfumed
as just another place among thousands of soap smell of her body, the reality of her
places where people lived in the foolish be- closeness. She raised herself on tiptoes
lief that their little piece of the earth was and kissed him gently on the mouth. Then
somehow better than any other. He got she pulled back just a fraction. “Welcome
in the car, started the engine and made a home,” she said.
U-turn back towards Eastbury.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
About the Author
Stan Dryer is the pen name for an author who lives in southern New Hampshire. He has been
writing fiction for over 60 years. Prior to 1990 he published 17 short stories in magazines
that included Playboy, Cosmopolitan and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He
has now returned to fiction writing after a gap of 30 years. and has recently had five stories
published (or accepted for publication) in Mystery Weekly Magazine, Adelaide Magazine and
a Rogue Blades anthology. He has just completed a humorous mainstream mystery novel.
by Christopher Carroll
Todd climbed into his car after leaving “I can hear it in your voice, darling.”
the bar. The sky fell out from underneath,
as the wind pressed up against the car. It “Bullshit, you said that I looked nervous
sounded like a bullet train was passing by not that I sounded nervous!”
him. He attempted to crank up his car, but it
wouldn’t start. He opened his car door and “Hmmm I suppose your right,” the woman
his phone rang. said. “So, did you have a good night?” she
“Hello,” Todd said, struggling to keep
his phone to his ear. A voice responded as “I guess so,” Todd replied. “So, who are
his phone slipped out of his hand. He stuck you?”
his hand down between the seat and the
middle console to retrieve it. “Let’s just say that I am someone con-
cerned about you.”
“Are you there?” a woman said with a
calm but graveled voice. “Why the fuck would you be concerned
about me?” yelled Todd. The phone line
“Yeah, I’m here,” Todd said. went silent. “Are you there, bitch?” There
was no response. Todd ended the call. He
“Good! So, did you have a good night, then opened up the door and stepped out-
Todd?” side. It felt like he was in a cold shower with
his clothes on. He stumbled over to pop his
“Ye--,” Todd stopped himself. “I’m sorry hood, but before he could his phone started
but how do you know my name?” to ring again.
“Lucky guess I suppose,” the woman As soon as he answered the phone the
said, chuckling. “Are you having car prob- woman said, “Why did you hang up on me?”
“Because you I don’t know you and you
“How do you know that? Did you do creep me out!”
something to my car?” Todd responded. He
looked outside his window trying to see if “I didn’t know that a cunt like you could
someone was watching him but couldn’t even get creeped out,” the woman said,
see anything through the rain. laughing.
“Why do you look so nervous, Todd?” “Who the fuck is you calling a cunt?” said
Todd. “Also, who the fuck is you?”
“How do you know that I’m nervous?”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“First off, I am calling you a cunt,” the state your mind made you think that it was
woman said. “Second, how do you not rec- your phone, because that way you wouldn’t
ognize me voice?” Todd leaned up against freak out over a voice talking to you.”
his car, and silently just stared at the ground
watching the rain hit it. The woman then “So then why did you start talking to
sighed and said, “I’m Rosita.” me?”
“I don’t know anyone by the name of “I needed to stop you from driving in
Rosita though.” the state that you were in. That’s why I also
made it seem like your car wouldn’t start,”
“Well I am not exactly anyone.” Rosita said. Todd then got back in the car
and cranked it up.
“What do you mean?”
“How did you make it seem like the car
“I am the AI you had put in your head to wouldn’t start?”
stop you from doing anything stupid.”
“I told your brain that it wouldn’t.”
“That’s impossible because you could
see me?” “Ah ok,” Todd said. “So, am I good to drive
“Well I can see you through your contact
lenses.” “Well I wouldn’t have stopped stalling
you if you weren’t,” Rosita said.
“Oh, yeah, that is right isn’t it?” Todd
said as he started to remember. “So then Todd then pulled up to the exit to the
why did you call my phone to talk to me?” bar as a semi passed him. Just as he was
turning onto the road a semi hit him out
“I’ve never once called your phone of nowhere. Smashing him into the other
during this conversation. In your drunken semi.
About the Author
Christopher Carroll enjoys watching movies and spending time with his family when he is
not writing. Follow him on Twitter @chris_r_carroll.
by Anita Haas
Peggy splashed water on her face and left Hardly aware of her movements, Peggy
the ladies’ room. The dry heat of late June was drawn toward the hypnotic image.
in Madrid had made her feel faint. Wood- Then, the dancer flung out his arms, tossed
en floors groaned under her step, and late his head, beads of sweat glistening as they
afternoon light filtered through the win- flew, let out a cry of “Ya!” and, with a thun-
dows. From one of them she saw a group dering crescendo, came to a dramatic halt.
of girls rehearsing in the patio andaluz, the
dance academy’s thematically decorated “¿Qué te parece?” But he was alone.
courtyard. Posters adorned the walls. Con- Whose opinion could he be seeking? Then
chi, the school’s director, featured in some Peggy realized she had advanced all the way
of them with famous flamenco stars Peggy to the door and was clinging to its frame. He
recognized from television. “Conchi Pala- was smiling at her bewilderment reflected
cios con Antonio Gades,” “… con Antonio el in the mirror, his damp bangs plastered
Bailarín” “… con Cristina Hoyos”. to his forehead. She recognized him from
some of the posters.
As she moved away from the window
and the timid stamping of the young stu- Peggy backed away, “Oh, sorry! Perdon!
dents, a distant rhythmic tapping beckoned Lo siento!”, then turned and fled, nearly col-
to her. This beat was strong, even and con- liding into Bethany, Lali and Conchi.
fident. As she moved toward the sound, it
increased in speed, tik-tik-tak. She slunk “We thought you were lost!” Bethany
around the corner and located the source, scolded. The two friends, curious about
now a rapid, tik tik, tak, tik tik tak. At the end flamenco, had come with Lali, Bethany’s
of the passage, an open door framed the future mother-in-law, to visit her cousin’s
silhouette of a man, pounding out the beat school. Peggy’s husband, César, and Betha-
with his feet. Straight, shoulders back, head ny’s boyfriend, Lucas, had laughed at them,
up, hips aligned, his upper body remained “Flamenco is for old people and tourists!”
static, while his feet pummeled faster and
faster into the thoroughly scuffed floor. Conchi winked at Peggy. “I see you have
met Rafael Santos. He has duende, real
Adelaide Literary Magazine
flamenco magic. We have the honor of would then confide it to her son Lucas, Peg-
having him teach an intensive beginner class gy’s husband’s best friend, and they would
this summer. We need just two more stu- all have a good laugh at her expense?
dents to open it. Classes start on Monday.”
“Well, we’ve already paid, and bought
*** our gear. Not cheap, I might add. Can’t back
“Let’s see those skirts … and those shoes.
They have to be good quality or you will ruin “We are especially busy in summer.”
your feet. And the metal on the heels and Conchi shouted as they reached their
toes is important or you won’t be heard.” classroom, the one, Peggy realized with a
twinge, where she had spied on Rafael re-
Conchi was accompanying Peggy and hearsing. “See? Students from around the
Bethany from reception to their classroom, world spend their holidays taking intensive
pushing past strumming guitarists, wailing courses.”
cantaores and clapping palmeros.
Their group of eight nervously smiling
“What are those?” Peggy asked, pointing women did indeed look international.
at the rectangular boxes several men were
seated on and beating, “A flamenco drum?” Rafael Santos arrived and consulted
She imagined their rhythms echoing through briefly with Conchi before sending her off
the old gypsy caves she had heard about. with a hug and the typical two kisses. He
crossed the room, stepping backwards to-
“Sort of. It is called a cajón. It is relatively wards the mirrored wall as he surveyed the
new to flamenco. Paco de Lucía introduced tense faces with a soft smile.
it to Spain from Peru around 1980.” Dressed
in smart linen trousers, colourful blouse and “Hala!” he rubbed his hands together,
chic high-heeled sandals, Conchi looked the “Buenas tardes, amigas!”
antithesis of her flamenco persona. “And
you need to put your hair up or you will die Bethany leaned over to Peggy. “Whew!
from the heat.” He’s cute! And that sexy andaluz accent!”
Peggy frowned at her.
“No air conditioning!” Bethany hissed
in Peggy’s ear. They passed several rooms, “Buenas tardes.” They tittered, except
windows and doors letting through the for one large woman who bellowed “Buena
scant early evening breeze, small buzzing tarde!”
table fans scattered here and there. The din
was unbelievable, variations of stamping He grinned in her direction, voice
zapateados escaping from each room, the cracking “¿Andndaluza también?”
teachers hollering “Y!”, “Olé!”, and “Más
fuerte!” to keep time, encourage and cor- “Digo. De Cádiz.”
“From Cádiz? Me too!”
“What if I make an ass of myself?” Peggy
mumbled, as they clacked and swished The woman smiled, and everyone
along behind Conchi. What if she was the took note. She already had something in
worst dancer in the class and Rafa told common with Rafael Santos.
Conchi, and she reported this Lali, who
“I will speak Spanish slowly but if any
of you don’t understand, tell me and I
can speak in English. My English is so-so.
Revista Literária Adelaide
And Japanese,” he smiled at the Japanese blonde woman with a marked German ac-
woman “Ni idea!” They all laughed, some of cent.
the first-class tension dissipating.
“Muy bien!” Rafa looked at her, im-
“You are not from here, are you?” he pressed. “And what is your name?”
stepped up to Bethany. Her white-blonde
hair always caught Spaniards’ attention. “Ursula, from Austria.”
Once she had even considered dying it.
“And a fan of Carlos Saura films.”
“No, I’m from Texas, but I live here.” She
answered in Spanish, smiling coquettishly. Ursula blushed.
“I’m Bethany, Be-tha-ni,” she repeated from
force of habit. “¿Y tu?” his eyes sought out those of the
middle-aged woman behind her.
Peggy had seen Bethany smile that way
before, and always when she failed to men- “A … Agnes.” The woman’s hands flut-
tion Lucas. She reasoned it had something tered from her face to her arms, and back
to do with the fact she had been married again.
three times and wasn’t even forty yet.
“Be-tha-ny. I danced in Dallas a few years
ago. Lovely!” “Yes!”
He turned to Peggy, “And your friend?” “I was in Londres last week. Dancing in
Peggy’s stomach tightened as Rafa
turned his gaze on her, “I’m, I’m Peggy. From Eiko, a thirty-something doctor, but who
Toronto. I live here too. Bethany and I work looked seventeen, came from a Japanese
together.” She felt a pang of guilt for not town where Rafa had performed.
mentioning her own husband.
And Marta was a forty-year-old Spanish
“Peggy. Toronto is beautiful. I taught a literature professor from Chile.
master class once at the University there.”
One by one he looked into their eyes,
Then there was a twenty-year-old from ignited their smiles, and accepted the of-
New Zealand who insisted on speaking in fering of their names, which he caressed
her terribly broken Spanish. Rafa smiled at with a deep baritone and sparked with a
her effort. crackling falsetto laugh before returning
them, changed, to their owners, each one
“!Nueva Zelanda! !Que lejos! ¿Y cómo te delighting in its new ring.
One by one he bewitched them all.
“Laura.” she peeped, shrinking back,
seeming both dazzled and intimidated by “Okay hermosas, the warmup, calentar.
his intensity. Very important at the beginning of class …
“Laura. Como Laura del Sol. Gran bai-
laora.” “Vale, bombón!” answered Rosa, the an-
daluza “Te escushamo, maestro!”
“Laura del Sol from Carlos Saura’s films
Carmen and El Amor Brujo.” said a tall “Venga, guapas, golpe, tacón, tacón!”
he stamped with them. “Slam the right foot
down. Knees bent or you will damage them.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
Then, keeping the ball and toes of your left “Peggy?” Rafa stepped up to her, “Do
foot down, lift up the heel as high as you you know one?”
can, and then slam it down. Do the same
with your right and then repeat with your Peggy froze. Staring back into those eyes,
left. Stamp, heel, heel, tik, tak, tak. Stronger! she felt her own pupils dilate, preparing to
Más fuerte! Más!” swallow up this image forever.
The rhythm impressed Peggy as they “Tangos.” she croaked, remembering
inched toward the mirrors. how that palo shared its name with the Ar-
“Now, back!” he called, “This time dou-
bles.” And he demonstrated stomp-stamp, “Muy bien, Peggy!” He whirled around,
heel, heel, stomp-stamp, heel, heel. “Does anyone know how many there are?”
Soaked with sweat, they retreated amid “Hundreds!” Rosa roared.
Rafa’s shouts of encouragement. Peggy felt
both drained and exhilarated. “Hundreds no, but nearly a hundred for
sure. There are a lot of branches, then every
“Ouch!” Agnes rubbed her lower thighs. region has their own particular flavour…”
“Good. That’s exactly where it should Ursula interrupted, “Like the soleares de
hurt.” Cádiz, and the soleares de Córdoba.”
*** “Muy bien, Ursula! You have studied a lot.”
“Who knows what a palo is?” Rafa asked Ursula grinned.
them after Tuesday’s warmup.
“But we must not forget the lyrics!”
Both Rosa and Ursula answered at once, added Marta in perfect English, “All those
then stopped and looked at each other poems by Federico García Lorca, Antonio
apologetically. Ursula spoke. “A style of fla- Machado and Miguel Hernández. So poi-
“Very good, Ursula. A style. And who can “Por supuesto, Marta. Wonderful lyrics.”
give me an example of a palo?”
Marta smiled and glanced at the others.
Laura raised her hand slightly. “Soleá?”
They watched clips of soleás and tientos.
“Muy bien, Laura. Soleá. Any more?” “How do these make you feel? Eiko?”
Ursula started, “Bulería, fandango. And “Sad. Solemn.”
the haunting martinete the gypsy black-
smiths used to sing to the beat of their Then he played some alegrías and bul-
hammers …” erías. “And these? Marta?”
Rosa cut her off, “Tientos, rondeña, se- “Happy. Festive.”
“Bien. Now, guapas, we are going to
Peggy and Bethany exchanged glances. listen to the special rhythm found in several
Were they in the wrong level? These women palos. It has twelve beats.” He proceeded
knew so much already! to clap “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis,
siete, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce. Clap
with me. This is called palmas.”