ADELAIDE FOUNDERS / FUNDADORES
Stevan V. Nikolic & Adelaide Franco Nikolic
Independent Monthly Literary Magazine
Revista Literária Independente Mensal EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR-CHEFE
Year IV, Number 26, July 2019 Stevan V. Nikolic
Ano IV, Número 26, Julho de 2019
ISBN 10: 1-951214-00-5
ISBN 13: 978-1-951214-00-5 MANAGING DIRECTOR / DIRECTORA EXECUTIVA
Adelaide Franco Nikolic
Adelaide Literary Magazine is an independent inter-
na onal monthly publica on, based in New York and GRAPHIC & WEB DESIGN
Lisbon. Founded by Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide Franco Adelaide Books LLC, New York
Nikolic in 2015, the magazine’s aim is to publish quality
poetry, ﬁc on, nonﬁc on, artwork, and photography, as CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS IN THIS ISSUE
well as interviews, ar cles, and book reviews, wri en in
English and Portuguese. We seek to publish outstanding Marshall Farren,
literary ﬁc on, nonﬁ c- on, and poetry, and to promote Jon Sorensen, Larry Uri,
the writers we publish, helping both new, emerging, and Christopher Overfelt, Jon Sorensen,
established authors reach a wider literary audience. Andrew Chinich, Inyoung Hwang,
Jessica Milam, Ma hew Vesely,
A Revista Literária Adelaide é uma publicação men- Adam Moghazy, Chris Cooper,
sal internacional e independente, localizada em Nova Ezra Brooks-Planck, Larry Rose,
Iorque e Lisboa. Fundada por Stevan V. Nikolic e Ade- Greyson Ferguson, Amanda Gamache,
laide Franco Nikolic em 2015, o objec vo da revista é Logan Giese, Faye Reddecliﬀ,
publicar poesia, ﬁ cção, não-ﬁ cção, arte e fotograﬁ a de Sasha Chinnaya, Owen McGrann,
qualidade assim como entrevistas, ar gos e crí cas Susie Gharib, Leonard Klossner,
literárias, escritas em inglês e por-tuguês. Pretendemos Andrew Miller, Richard Schaefer,
publicar ﬁ cção, não-ﬁ cção e poesia excepcionais assim Michelle Jolene, Edward Voeller,
como promover os escritores que publicamos, ajudan- Thomas Elson, Gail Hosking,
do os autores novos e emergentes a a ngir uma audiên- David Rogers, Alan Berger,
cia literária mais vasta. Mark Halpern, Noelle Wall, Robert
Rickelman, Bill Vernon,
(h p://adelaidemagazine.org) Dan Cardoza, Brandon S llwell,
Aysel Basci, Midori Gleason,
Published by: Adelaide Books, New York Lauren Bishop, Mary MacGowan,
244 Fi h Avenue, Suite D27 Ian Allaby, Kimberly Nunes,
New York NY, 10001 Anthony Melekwe, Benjamin Lukey,
e-mail: [email protected] Patricia Ndombe, Byron Beynon,
phone: (917) 477 8984 Wim Coleman, Linda Greene
Copyright © 2019 by Adelaide Literary Magazine
All rights reserved. No part of this publica on may be
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without wri en
permission from the Adelaide Literary Maga-zine
Editor-in-chief, except in the case of brief quo-ta ons
embodied in cri cal ar cles and reviews.
CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS
EDITOR’S NOTES TARIFF by Richard Charles Schaefer 117
THE PLAN by Michelle Kouzmine 124
THE WORLD OF ANU by Stevan V. Nikolic 5 THE FOOD UPON WHICH OTHERS FEAST
by Thomas Elson 133
FICTION A NIGHT OF FIREFLIES by Gail Hosking 138
ELECTRICITY by David Rogers 140
NO ONE ELSE WILL WATCH COWHIDE by Alan Berger 145
by Marshall Farren 7 BASIL THE GREEK by Mark Halpern 147
SOMEBODY’S GOING TO TAKE IT
by Jon Sorensen 9 NONFICTION
THE ERA OF GOOD FEELINGS THE HOLE by Noelle Wall 153
by Lawrence Uri 17 ACHIEVE by Robert Rickelman 157
DAVID AND GOLIATH HAUNTED DEER by Dan Cardoza 165
by Christopher Overfelt 28 BURBOT by Brandon S llwell 168
JONES STREET by Andrew Chinich 36 APPARITIONS OF THE PAST
THAT GIRL, SHE SLEEPS IN THE CLOSET by Aysel Basci 172
by Jessica Milam 44 THE WRITING THERAPEUTIC EXPERIENCE
MOUNTAINS & RAINBOWS by Raymond Fenech PhD 175
by Ma hew Vesely 52
THE EULOGY by Christopher Cooper 57 POETRY
THE BEST COMPANY FIRST AS LAST by Midori Gleason 181
by Ezra Brooks-Planck 61 JOY by Lauren Bishop 183
CUTTHROAT GAP by Larry Rose 64 SOFT THINGS by Mary MacGowan 185
HAIR IN THE BATHTUB LOST CITY by Ian Allaby 190
by Greyson Ferguson 69 PARABLE OF THE FATHER
UNCLE by Amanda Gamache 72 by Kimberly Nunes 192
THE LAST LIVING INDIAN by Logan Giese 80 THE GAZE by Anthony Melekwe 195
I LIVE IN THE CEMETERY THE GREATEST OF THESE
by Faye Reddecliﬀ 89 by Benjamin Daniel Lukey 196
LOVE D by Sasha Chinnaya 93 VISIT TO FERN HILL by Byron Beynon 198
ABANDON by Owen McGrann 96 INVOCATION by Wim Coleman 201
AMORPHOUS by Susie Gharib 99 BEAUTY DEFINED by Linda Greene 204
THE PLEASURE OF SPRING AND OTHER
STORIES by Leonard Klossner 104
SMOKEY THE THERAPY CAT
by Andrew Miller 107
THE WORLD OF ANU
“Be humble, for you are made of earth; be noble, for you came from stars.”
In the distant galaxy, many light years away rial reality. People on Anu know that they
from the planet Earth, exists a world quite live in dreams. Of course, the world of Anu
similar to our own. It is believed to be is not much diﬀerent from ours except for
somewhere in the constella on of Orion. the fact that everything is a dream.
There isn’t a present name for this domain,
but old Babylonians were calling it “the Some may wonder how is it possible for
world of Anu,” Anu being the main god of living beings to be in two distant worlds at
the heavenly realms. the same me? In the dream world there
are two kinds of inhabitants: permanent
Most people don’t know that the world residents and visitors. All of us go to Anu
of Anu is very important for the inhabi- occasionally - that is all of us who dream.
tants of Earth. This is a secret that very few But whenever we visit Anu, we are unaware
know, but from the beginning of me this that we are in a world of dreams – un l
far away world was in the constant, unbro- we wake up. But a dreamer does not have
ken connec on with our world. The reason to be asleep to visit Anu. There are many
is simple: Earth and Anu are two parallel or daydreamers who can be awake and at
twin worlds and the same people inhabit the same me, be in the distant world of
both simultaneously. dreams. The journey to Anu happens in-
stantly; the moment we start dreaming we
However, there is one major diﬀerence are already there.
between these two domains of existence.
On our planet we are born, live, and die When it comes to permanent residents
in the material world, facing our reali es of the world of dreams, the story is a bit
regardless of circumstances, whether they diﬀerent. The soul of every living being, in-
are good or bad, it is the life process we all cluding human, has a much longer life span
experience. In this other world people live than his carnal body. It usually takes few
forever in a world of dreams, or as we on journeys through many bodies for a single
Earth would say, in the “virtual world.” We soul to complete its life me in the material
are convinced that our lives exist in a mate- world. For some souls, unfortunately, it nev-
Adelaide Literary Magazine
er happens, and they stay forever in the vi-
cious circle of life and death. But those that
succeed to complete their journeys con n-
ue to live eternal life in the world of dreams.
So, it is not a surprise that from the an-
cient mes un l the present, people gaze
into night skies towards Orion, trying to
ﬁnd Anu. Every so o en we look at the
stars saying, “Somewhere there is my true
home,” without ever realizing why we have
that feeling. Many legends were made, sto-
ries wri en, monuments built—all witness-
ing the eﬀorts of men to secure the suc-
cessful voyage of their souls into the world
of eternal dreams.
(From the novel
“Weekend In Faro” by Stevan V. Nikolic)
NO ONE ELSE
by Marshall Farren
The Mother sits on a bed inside the small- baby will grow, will learn to speak, will learn
est of places. The lamp burns on the night- to ﬁght, and the Mother will watch. No one
stand. The snow piles outside the window. else will watch.
The baby is asleep, and everything has
stopped. There is no more madness. There The Mother walks into the bathroom.
is nothing but the sound of breathing. She looks in the mirror. She wears a white
nightgown and a e to hold Her hair. There
The Mother looks at the baby. The wail- are wrinkles underneath Her sunken eyes.
ing ended a short while ago. Its ny chest
rises and falls. The Mother watches. She There is no for tude in this face. There
breathes deeply, exhales. Life is conﬁrmed is no light in the eyes, no ﬁre under the skin.
by the smallest of movements. There is not enough strength to care for
another. The Mother reaches for the sink,
The Mother squints and the baby goes runs hot water, and turns oﬀ the faucet.
out of focus. It could now be made of plas-
She walks back into the bedroom. She
c. It could be a doll given to children. passes the baby and stops in front of the
window. The wind howls on the other side
This room - it is too small for two bea ng of the glass. The streetlight illuminates the
hearts. This room is polluted. The bathroom snow and ice. There are no re tracks, no
needs to be cleaned. The carpet needs to be footprints. There is no one.
washed. The ﬂowered wallpaper is peeling.
Vermin scurry underneath the ﬂoorboards. There is something to prove now. The
They scurry above the ceiling. They move Mother strides past the baby, past Her win-
too quickly to ever be caught. The baby’s ter coat, past Her shoes. She opens the front
chest rises and falls. The Mother is s ll. door and walks onto the porch, down the
steps, into the night. Her bare feet trudge
There will be two voices inside these through the snow. The wind whips Her skin.
walls from now on. The baby will laugh and
coo and cry and scream and the Mother She passes the dark houses lining the
will answer. It will be just the two and them. street. They all could be empty. There could
The snow will pile outside the window, the be no life in this neighborhood at all. That
Adelaide Literary Magazine
baby could be plas c. The Mother could the frigid air. The sleeping baby has awak-
just keep walking. She could walk un l She ened. It roars for its Mother.
She looks once more at the house only
She reaches the end of the street. Cars to ﬁnd that it is dark, appearing as lifeless as
ﬂy past on the road. The Mother watches the rest. She turns back to the baby’s cries
longingly as they zoom by. It could all be and runs towards Her home. The wind has
over so quickly. How easy it would be to returned, blowing viciously into the Moth-
step out in front of the headlights. er’s face as she ﬂies through the snow. Her
feet are purple, but She will not stop.
The ﬂickering light of a candle catches
her eye. It burns inside a house on the oth- She darts through the door and into
er side of the road. A family moves around the bedroom. She wraps Her arms around
inside, though the Mother is too far to see the baby and holds it close. She rocks the
them clearly. But there is joy inside this baby back and forth, whispering words in
house. It emits from the walls, sending the language only Mothers know. There is
waves of energy through the wintery night. peace.
The wind dies down, and the Mother watch-
es the candle in peace. Inside this house, there are ﬂowers on
the walls and a Mother holding Her baby.
Then a distant wailing commands the There is no wind. There is no snow. There is
Mother’s a en on. The cries travel through only the sound of breathing.
About the Author:
Marshall Farren is a student at Indiana University studying Human Development and Psy-
chology. A writer and photographer, his work has been published in The Blue Route, Oakland
Arts Review, and Mangrove.
GOING TO TAKE IT
by Jon Sorensen
The garage sale ends as it does every year, Scowling through the window, my wife
leaving behind the pine cone lamp, the bro- is less coopera ve. She advises me not to –
ken towel rack and the mismatched barbe- quote – “bring that junk inside this house!”
que tools that will be saved for next year’s
“Super-Sized, Village-Wide Garage Sale.” “Open up,” I respond impa ently. “You
can’t just throw these things away.”
“Just throw them away,” my wife calls
through the door, too late, as I wobble onto “Anybody would! Only YOU can’t!”
the porch, arms clutching the Disney com-
memora ve clock, the Swiss binoculars This is our late October ritual. We have
(with one func oning lens), and a dozen spoken these lines before because nothing
other things that no one would buy. ever changes with the annual garage sale.
Despite all of my work, very li le is sold
Whenever I ignore my wife, her ﬁrst in- and now the le overs must return to a
s nct is to repeat herself, only louder this dark corner of the basement un l they re-
emerge next October and another chance
me and with unmistakable enuncia on. at redemp on.
“Leave-them-by-the-ROAD! They-will-be- Like our marriage, there is a lot to put
Now we get physical. “It’s a garage sale – not an orphanage!” my
helpful spouse reminds me. “Leave them by
Pressing her shoulder against the door, the road! Somebody’s going to take it!”
she tries to block my way back to the base-
ment. I retaliate with my le foot, pry- I never respond to this, her perpetual
ing open the screen door un l the bob- “sugges on,” although I have given it some
ble-head turtle and the oversized Easter thought over the years. Abandoning a few
basket slip from my ﬁngers. The basket things would be easier than hauling every-
lands at my feet before the turtle, a souve- thing back inside. It certainly would be eas-
nir from Folly Beach, falls straight into the ier than listening to her complain that I am
basket, preparing itself for another year of a “hoarder” and a “packrat.”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
It has been a long and unproduc ve day I s ll have those glass lamps tucked away
and I don’t have the energy to ﬁght just somewhere in the basement, apart from
now. My only answer is to pile my unsold the area reserved for my garage sale items.
goods onto the porch, covering the cracks Mr. Anderson’s quizzical expression has also
and blisters I had promised to repaint, be- stayed with me. I can feel his reproachful at-
fore I head back to the road to retrieve
more stuﬀ. tude from the people moving quickly past
my garage sale tables – hardly looking at my
Kicking a path through the leaves, I re- merchandise! – as if ﬁner things were wait-
mind myself that my wife seldom knows ing for them in the yard next door.
what she is talking about, especially when
it concerns me. With each year’s sale, I’m ﬁnding more
things le behind and it’s ge ng harder
I have never been a hoarder. What’s a not to take this personally.
People can be so clueless. Why can’t they
If I could choose the right word, I would appreciate old or, at least, older, things even
call myself an “enthusiast.” This is not a if they are not actual an ques? This, too, is
descrip on I can share with my wife. She a sore subject.
knows I am nostalgic and sen mental, but
she refuses to acknowledge my aesthe c Who should decide whether something
side. Never mind that I have a profound ap- is an an que? Certainly not our local an-
precia on for the beauty in nearly all things.
que appraisers, those PBS wannabes. None
I have been this way for as long as I can of them has ever found anything valuable
remember. among my collec ons! Well, if that’s true,
then what the hell is a ‘Limited Edi on,’ I’d
While my classmates were buying snow like to know.
globes and “Maid of the Mist” t-shirts, I
came back from Niagara Falls with a collec- The whole thing has the whiﬀ of con-
on of miniature hurricane lamps. Showing
oﬀ my unique purchase, I was surprised by How can I explain the empathy I feel for
the curious, almost contemptuous, look on abandoned gadgets, like the Dan Quayle
my teacher’s face. Before I could explain ‘Potatoe’ Peeler or the Wolfman Jack Shav-
myself, Mr. Anderson abruptly turned and ing Kit, and all the other household kitsch
walked away, leaving me alone at the front and knick-knacks I have saved from the
of the bus. I was steamed. landﬁll?
For the rest of the trip, I imagined Mr. I can ﬁnd exquisite cra smanship in the
Anderson ﬂoa ng alongside the bus, a ny faces of porcelain angels and I marvel at
mound of soggy clothes and his face in the the intelligent design of the Jack Lalanne Fruit
water, gliding down the Erie Canal. We get Juicer and Forearm Press. Even a chipped ce-
oﬀ the bus in Albany, but I see his large and ramic picture frame – with “Gree ngs from
buoyant body con nuing south along the Blue Mountain Lake!” – can s r memories
Hudson. I chuckled – in fact, I s ll do – to that nearly bring me to tears. So much of this
think of the hungry ﬁsh wai ng for him in is a mystery I can hardly express.
the ocean, dark and huge. Nibble, nibble,
nibble! We used to do the garage sale together,
back when my wife and I were ﬁrst married
Revista Literária Adelaide
and trying to ﬁt into our new community. Madness” sale. Someone even called the
Now she leaves the garage sale en rely to cops. They claimed the siren had nearly giv-
me and s ll she complains about it! en them a heart a ack. Well, if they’re so
worried about their heart, then why don’t
“Where do you ﬁnd this junk?” she gripes they buy the Ab-Rotator or one of my oth-
on the eve of every garage sale. She’ll say it er exercise machines? That answer did not
again the next morning as I carefully orga- please the cop.
nize my merchandise, each item cleaned and
tagged at the end of our driveway. But I never Another way to boost my sales is with
let Eeyore spoil my fun. “loss leaders” – one of the lessons I teach in
my “Introduc on to Business” class at the
There is always an exci ng discovery as high school. By marking down the price of
I prepare for the annual sale, pulling out an expensive item – like a forgo en wedding
lost treasures that surprise even me. This gi , for example – a loss leader is a good
year it was the Jimmy Durante electric tea way to draw people over to my less-popular
ke le. (When the water boils, you hear a re- perennials.
cording of Durante’s famous “HOT-cha-cha-
cha, HOT-cha-cha-cha...” and then the water Most years, I put out a few of the kids’
pours out through his nose. Classic!) belongings – their computer games or a
birthday present (as long as the kids don’t
To improve my sales, I divide my items no ce). This me I decided to give away
into various “departments” – spor ng goods, all of their ac on ﬁgures and plas c Dis-
housewares, entertainment, etc. (I tried sig- ney characters we’ve collected from cereal
nage for a few years un l some wise guy boxes and countless Happy Meals. These
kept asking me, “What ﬂoor is lingerie?”) toys were out for just a few minutes when
the en re basket was scooped up by this
The Entertainment sec on is by far my creepy old woman.
largest department because the kids have
accumulated so many video games, DVDs She said her family uses these ﬁgurines
and books. My wife has bought the rest: at Christmas me, tying li le strings around
romance novels and how-to advice on their necks before hanging each li le body
self-improvement, organiza onal manage- on a tree. “We call it the ‘Hanging Tree,’”
ment and rela onship counseling. she explained and my head snapped up as
soon as she said it.
I never have me to read. Eventually these
books will ﬁnd their way to the basement. I searched her puckered face to see if
she might be joking. She was smiling, but it
The book buyers – even the casual brows- did not look like a Christmassy kind of smile.
ers – are always my favorite customers. Even As the old woman limped away, I could only
if they don’t buy anything, just watching imagine poor Mickey Mouse and the rest
them hold a classic novel or thumb through of those cartoon characters swinging help-
one of my college textbooks makes me feel lessly from the Christmas Hanging Tree.
at one with these people. Other customers
are not so kind. I’m about to tell this story to my wife
when I see her poin ng to the road.
Some people are s ll miﬀed from last
year’s sale when I used an old police siren “Don’t leave the card tables out there,”
to signal the start of my “Five Minutes of she squawks. “Those are worth something!”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
I look back toward the road and sigh. It I will look through windows to see for my-
is not quite ﬁve o’clock and already they self.
are coming up the street: those late-a er-
noon buzzards picking through the unsold Of course, every garage sale is a chance
le overs in yards and driveways. to compare yourself to your neighbors and
there’s always the usual assortment of vel-
(Yards and driveways! This is another vet pain ngs, Thomas Kinkade jigsaw puz-
thing that drives me crazy about the Vil- zles and stacks of the Readers Digest. Worst
lage-wide Garage Sale!) of all are the clothes – even underwear! –
put out for sale with those low-rider jeans
How can people simply sca er their ga- and the lowbrow sweatpants emblazoned
rage sale items across their yards without with ‘Pink’ and ‘Juicy’ and those other un-
thinking about the dirt or the rain or the savory sugges ons.
bugs? I always makes an eﬀort to keep my
merchandise dry and clean, spreading out And these are the people who sneer at
tarps and se ng up card tables and saw MY merchandise!
horses topped with plywood. Otherwise,
what kind of message are you sending to The neighbors who draw the most curios-
your customers? ity reside in the larger, more stately homes.
These people almost never par cipate in
I wonder whether I should oﬀer this ad- the Village-wide Garage Sale. It’s modesty, I
vice to my neighbors. suppose and I admire their re cence.
At my sale, prices are always nego able Having nicer things doesn’t give you
– right down to zero. I don’t care about the license to ﬂaunt your possessions before
money. What I’m really looking for is valida- the en re world, sprinkling your castoﬀs
like breadcrumbs for the birds! Despite my
on. For me, every purchase is proof that wife’s persistent nagging, this is why I re-
my things are worth owning and keeping, fuse to leave anything out for free.
despite what my wife thinks.
“Leave it by the road – somebody’s going
I would never say this, of course, but to take it.” Somebody’s taking it, all right.
whenever someone buys something from Me!
my garage sale, I never really let it go.
Somehow it always stays with me. It’s like Our village-wide event a racts people
that inscrip on I once saw on a decora ve of all kinds and everyone is looking for a
plate: “Everything you touch belongs to bargain. The auc on houses and the knowl-
your heart.” In that way, I ﬁgure, anything I edgeable collectors – the ones who know
have ever sold s ll belongs to me. what they are looking for – arrive early in
the morning before the wagon trains of
Once you hold something, it’s yours for- mothers and their screaming oﬀspring and
ever. the hagglers who pester you for a nickel oﬀ
a ten-cent purchase or the clumsy brows-
I like to imagine where these things will ers who pick things up from the table with-
end up in their new homes. Are they dis- out returning them to their proper place!
played prominently on curio cabinets or
living room shelves? Will they be protected By the me I set everything up and open
in keepsake boxes to be saved as heirlooms for business, the wiser customers have come
for future genera ons? Some mes at night,
Revista Literária Adelaide
and gone. All that’s le are these scratch-oﬀ Well what the hell? Not a wave of his
idiots, searching for a Dutch master that hand or a how-do-you-do?
may be hiding beneath a Paint-by-Number
clown. Imbeciles! (Trust me, I’ve had their As if put all these things out here for my
children in my classroom!) own amusement! I’m so angry now, I want
to throw something!
Once more, my thoughts are interrupt-
ed by my helpful bride. On the Entertainment table, I see the
Star Wars nes ng dolls. I reach for them,
“You should give away that ridiculous but all that comes oﬀ in my hand is the top
beer keg!” she hollers from upstairs. of Darth Vader. I look back at the table and
there is Yoda staring back at me with that
With some eﬀort, I respond. “Are you re- reproachful look again!
ferring to the metallic umbrella stand?”
“Why are you shou ng?”
“Whatever it is. If you leave it out there, it’ll
be gone in half an hour. Look – here comes I jump at the sound of my wife’s voice
someone now!” coming toward me! She never comes out
during the garage sale and her appearance
I turn to see one of the freebie hunters now ﬁlls me with dread. Casually, I slide to
moving closer to our driveway. He is a squat, my right, a emp ng to block her view of
thick-shouldered man, moving eﬃciently the Housewares Department.
from yard to yard, as he tosses unsold resi-
due into a truck that is following him up the “It’s going to be dark before you get all this
street. Suddenly, the neighborhood feels stuﬀ inside,” she says and then her eyes dark-
like a Cormac McCarthy novel. en. “What is that doing out here?”
I start toward the road un l I realize She has spo ed the silver tea service on
that this man has go en too close. Going the table behind me.
out there now would be embarrassing, as
if I were oﬀering scraps to a wandering dog. “What the hell? This was a wedding pres-
But this dog hardly seems to care. As soon ent!”
as the man reaches my Spor ng Goods ta-
ble, he shows no interest in any of my dis- “I know, I know and I wasn’t trying to sell
plays – and there are thirteen tables out it – see, I’ve got it marked ‘SOLD.’ I put it
there! out here to make the customers hungry for
more. Get their curiosity up, you know?”
I’ll see about this!
She is not listening to me. Cradling the
Jumping down from the porch, I’m shout- silver service under her arm, she furiously
ing, “Half oﬀ! Half oﬀ! Everything HALF OFF!” burrows through the other tables, turning
over magazine racks, used draperies and
I must have been speaking too loudly NFL towels.
– or perhaps I was too agitated – because
the man turns to me with a worried expres- “What else is out here?” she demands.
sion. Then, just as quickly, he goes back to
searching the other yards, tossing more “Nothing, nothing,” I respond meekly.
goods into his truck as he moves farther “Take it inside, will you?”
down the street.
She stands in front of me now, closer
than she has been in quite a while, un l the
Adelaide Literary Magazine
teapot’s pointy spout is pressing into my I take the bait. That night, I put out an
chest. I back away from the pain and wave Underwood typewriter and, even with it
a hand toward the mounds of unsold goods. missing a ribbon and several keys, the type-
writer vanishes by the next morning. I felt
“Look, I’ll go through the rest of this now badly at ﬁrst because I always intended to
– okay? – and I’ll leave some things outside get that thing repaired. A solid typewriter
like you suggested. Somebody’s going to take can be a good backup on those days when
it, right?” the Internet is down.
Without another word, she leaves me Now that the Underwood has disap-
by the road. peared so quickly, I am intrigued. Someone
obviously appreciates my things, at least
I begin my search in the Spor ng Goods enough to take them away and get them
department. Immediately, I am torn by the ﬁxed. So I decide to oﬀer more of my garage
sight of a Tony Jacklin seven iron, the Lawn sale inventory: weathered pots and pans,
Jarts and, most special of all, the Archie bed frames, some serving trays, six boxes of
Peck-signature croquet set. This is going to masonry screws, an electric bread slicer that
be a tough choice. is missing its blade. Without a sound, night
a er night, another item is swept away.
No one else in the family wanted to learn
croquet and the Jarts became an issue a er It now feels as if I am part of something
my wife found the kids tossing them over important, like some new happening in the
the passing cars. I was supposed to throw Village. I have made a connec on to some-
them away, but I could no more junk the one or something that is mysterious and
Jarts than I could part with the Lloyd Bridg- unspoken.
es Junior Harpoon. (For now, the harpoon is
hidden in the basement, safe from the kids Un l the ceramic wall les.
and any horseplay by the road.)
I knew this was a bit of a gamble be-
As I hold the seven iron in my hands, it cause each le is decorated with a le er
occurs to me that golf seems to be such of the alphabet and for some reason all of
an easy game. I would have taken it up if I my vowels are missing. The les sit there
had found more clubs. Instead, I turn to the for several days un l one morning I see my
beer keg umbrella stand and, by the next wife out by the road and she is speaking to
morning, the keg is gone. that thick-shouldered man – the buzzard
from the garage sale. They are each holding
“Someone took the umbrella stand,” I tell some of the alphabet les and they seem
her, pretending to be pleased. to be laughing!
“Really? I didn’t think anyone would “He wanted those les?” I ask when she
want that ugly old thing.” comes inside.
“If you must know, that was a great ex- “No, that’s not what he wants.”
ample of Americana folk art.”
“It was a piece of something, all right.”
“Relax. He’s only interested in metal – you
“Maybe you don’t appreciate what others know, steel, iron. He runs that big salvage
can.” yard out by the highway.”
“I’ll bet it won’t happen again,” she sneers.
“Not with your junk.”
Revista Literária Adelaide
“Does he live in the village?” machine is holding up the other side of the
“No, he’s got that huge house out on
S mson.” “That was my mother’s,” I tell him. “We
can’t use it. It’s way too big for this place.”
“The mansion – past the school?”
Without thinking, I hear myself say, “Do
“The one with the enormous boat. He you want to buy it?” Before I can take it back,
also has a repair shop out there. You should Donnie Baylor oﬀers me twenty-ﬁve bucks.
talk to him about that ﬂoor safe you put in
the basement. He might want to buy it or “I’d give you more but it’ll take at least
maybe he can ﬁx it for you.” two of my guys to get it out of here.”
How I got that thing down to the base- “Okay, I guess. Let me think about it.”
ment, I have no idea. The safe must weigh
close to 700 pounds and it is as ugly as it is Examining the safe, Baylor shakes his
useless – painted haphazardly in dull silver head. “It’ll take an awful lot to get this thing
paint with a door that has not been opened open. Pre y much stuck for good, I’d say.”
in more than ﬁ y years. It had been in my Then Baylor turns and smiles. “It’s too bad –
parents’ house and as far as anyone could we were doin’ so good, you and me.”
remember the combina on was lost be-
fore the war. Even with the right numbers, “What do you mean?”
I doubt it will open. I use it now to hold up
my work bench. “Those things you’ve been leaving by the
road. It’s not a lot, but it’s all been good scrap.
S ll, the idea of ge ng it ﬁxed is en c- I ﬁgured you must have more down here.”
ing and for the next several weeks I think
about the valuables I could put inside my “Scrap?” I ask.
“We recycle all kinds of metal.”
“I think I’ll stop out to see the salvage guy,”
I tell my wife. Predictably, she frowns. “You mean you ﬁx them?”
“You’ll never get around to it. I’ll give him “No, we drop it in a kiln and melt it.”
a call. His name is Donald Baylor. People
call him Donnie. I have his card.” I take a step backward, falling against
the staircase. I picture the beer keg umbrel-
“How did you get that?” la stand, the Underwood typewriter, the
serving trays and all the rest of it mel ng in
“I went out to see his secondhand shop a a pot of boiling ore.
couple of weeks ago.”
“You never men oned it.”
“I didn’t ... realize.” I hurry up the stairs
“You never listen.” before “Donnie” can say anything more.
A minute later, my wife comes down the
A few days later, Donnie Baylor comes basement stairs.
over to look at the safe in the basement.
“He said you wanted to ask me something?”
“What are you going to do with that?”
Baylor asks, poin ng to a 240-volt air con- “Ask you what?” Then Baylor chuckles.
di oner res ng on the ﬂoor. The hulking “Well maybe I do have some ques ons for
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“Then the answer is yes, yes, yes ...” she to my wife make love to “Donnie.” My mind
whispers, stepping into his embrace. Their was racing through the garage sale invento-
hips slide together as he reaches for the ry – the harpoon, the croquet mallets, the
back of her head, kissing her hard on the Lawn Jarts, the golf club – because I could
mouth. Leaning against the work bench, not go back into the basement un l I had
she presses her hands inside his work shirt something in my hands.
un l something startles her from behind.
With a faint cry of surprise, she pulls her I might have forgiven them, but it’s too
hands back and turns toward the noise at late for that now. Once you hold something,
the bo om of the stairs. it’s yours forever. Well, he can have her.
It’s me. Opening a drawer in the kitchen, I pull
out a large carving knife, part of the Ginsu
Baylor moves away from the work bench Steak Knife Collec on from late-night TV.
as my wife straightens her clothes, pulling
back her hair and stealing a cau ous glance The noise from the basement is ge ng
toward me. She frowns – again – as she louder now, pulling me toward the stairs. I
reads the front of my t-shirt: “You Have To take each step carefully because the knife
Be Odd To Be Number One.” It looks as if is long and dangerous. It also gives me me
she might start laughing. to think since I don’t know what, exactly,
I’m going to do with this knife.
Tucking in his shirt, Baylor feels the spit-
tle s ll lurking around his mouth. He wipes In the half light of the basement, I see
it away with the back of his hand and then her smirking at me, her shoes scratching
closes his hand into a ﬁst. I’m s ll not moving. against the grit of the basement ﬂoor, un l
I bring the knife out from behind my back
“So what do you want to do?” Baylor asks. and then she stops moving. She doesn’t
understand why I am holding this long
“About what?” I say, miserably. knife.
“Your stuﬀ.” Do I have to remind her?
I was asking myself that very ques on Somebody’s going to take it.
as I stood at the top of the stairs, listening
About the Author:
A writer in upstate New York, Jon Sorensen was the
Albany bureau chief for the New York Daily News, the
Buﬀalo News and other newspapers prior to working
as a consumer frauds inves gator and a public rela-
ons director for state agencies in New York.
THE ERA OF GOOD
by Lawrence Uri
The Two Americas Barrier began as a meta- as a straight white line with a single small
phor that eclipsed all reali es, and became gap. This is where they are headed.
a reality that eclipses all metaphors.
“Car, should the barrier be visible?” Jen
Jen is looking ahead, through the wind- asks.
shield, over the plain reaching to the joined
edges of sky and earth, to where a white “With twenty-twenty or fully corrected
band stretches across the horizon. vision, the Two Americas Barrier should be
observable at this me, resembling a low
“I see it,” she announces. bank of cloud.”
“Cloud bank,” Ron opines. Car has a tendency to chide them, with
his gentle-voiced humor track, for the
Jen goes back to watching Car’s guid- weakness of their human percep ons.
ance metrics. From the way she retreats
conﬁdently within herself, Ron knows she “Car, metrics,” Jen says.
thinks she’s right. For rela onship’s sake,
he makes an act of li ing his sunglasses This is her way of scolding the vehicle for
to his forehead and squin ng into the dis- mocking her husband. The map is replaced
tance. Closer already, because Car is going with a display of self-driving sensor read-
one forty, the white band looks uniform. outs. Jen feels safer if she monitors these.
There hasn’t been a traﬃc injury associat-
“You’re right,” he admits. ed with AI drive in more than seven years,
but you never know. Here amid broad ﬂat
“Car, slow to seventy,” Jen says. squares of alterna ng bare brown earth
and dry yellow corn stalks, Car’s readouts
The glide to a lower speed makes them ﬂick like nervous eyes. There is nothing to
more aware of their surroundings. assess, no traﬃc, no people, only the oc-
casional driverless tractor moving slowly
“Car, map,” Ron says. across a ﬁeld, far outside hazard range.
The screen shows they are three miles We are arriving, Jen reﬂects, at what,
south of the last deserted town, and four- in this moment, is the center of the earth.
teen miles north of what displays on GMap
Adelaide Literary Magazine
Where she and Ron will be among the few ed his map, the MasDix Solu on started
States North ci zens privileged to witness trending. A spontaneous jeté of public opin-
live the last phase of Closure. Ten years in ion overleaped the news cycle, landing the
the growing, the Two Americas Barrier will na on, which was really two bi erly entan-
be complete today. gled na ons, on a diﬀerent stage. The Unit-
ed States suddenly felt to everyone like a
“How are you feeling?” Ron asks, as if he household in need of a divorce.”
has been watching her think.
A er a stagey pause, Car con nues, “The
“Apprehensive.” early morning commentators couldn’t de-
construct their opiniona ons fast enough
He nods. She has found the word for them to corner the rapidly emerging mood. Sen-
both. ators and Representa ves, silent at ﬁrst in
their reﬂexive impulse to ignore any ac on
Jen checks the mirror. Bus, his two decks the public broadly favored, reversed their
of seats ﬁlled with his ﬁnal charter group a tudes within hours and began parro ng
of southbound rese lers, follows Car at his scripted vows of support. Their corporate
assigned distance. Slowing down has ght- masters scented an opportunity to swallow
ened the schedule. Their rese lement com- bid-free trillions from the biggest public
pany, JenRon Reloc, made its reputa on by works project ever pork barreled.”
never being late for a crossing. To fail now
would be disastrous. They must arrive at A er opiniona ons Jen and Ron ex-
the barrier in me to send Bus through change muted grins of the kind they used to
before the gap closes. Jen is acutely aware share when their children were learning to
of the exposure. As she frets, a CNN drone speak. They don’t interrupt Car’s narra ve.
speeds overhead on its way to taking up a
posi on for the event. “Within a week, legisla on was enact-
ed calling for a na onal referendum on the
“Car, resume highway speed,” Ron says. ques on of whether the United States should
divide into two countries. Debate was nil.
The accelera on begins instantly and Plans were already being laid for the obvious
climbs back to one forty. outcome. Turnout approached ninety-seven
percent. Approval of the proposi on exceed-
“Car, calculate arrival me,” Jen says. ed ninety-one percent. Exit polls suggested
the nay votes were largely from people who
“Arrival at eleven forty-eight twenty-three, were upset that the separa on wasn’t hap-
provided we maintain op mum velocity. pening faster. On the morning a er the vote,
One minute and thirty-seven seconds ahead the two-way migra on began. Over the next
of schedule.” ten years, half the popula on of the United
States rese led, with approximately equal
Car’s monotone conveys the system’s numbers going south and going north. The
pique. AI units hate being treated like ma- process is only now coming to an end.”
Car pauses a c to be open for ques ons,
“Car, how did the barrier project happen?” then keeps talking.
Jen asks. She knows the story, because she
lived it. Car was ac vated two months ago. “The referendum approved a shared
For him, the barrier’s origin is history. boundary approximately following the la -
“Everyone agreed,” Car begins. “Minutes
a er a Mississippi sociology professor post-
Revista Literária Adelaide
tude of thirty-nine degrees, forty-three min- ry separates the huts from the gap. There
utes, twenty seconds north, a line ﬁrst sur- has not been a single incident of govern-
veyed in the year seventeen sixty-seven by ment-sponsored violence between States
Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. The so- North and States South, but Jen is glad to
called Mason-Dixon line was demarcated in see the soldiers. You never know.
an eﬀort to resolve a border dispute involv-
ing the English colonies of Maryland, Penn- Tonight, she and Ron will sleep in one
sylvania, and Delaware. The line later found of the back row huts, those reserved for
virtues to recommend it in the run-up to the the less important par cipants. This will be
Civil War. Now, with li le variance except on a er the celebratory dinner scheduled to
the west end, where it veers south to include take place inside the white tent visible in
northern California in States North, it has the overhead. When the toasts come, Ron
been extended as the border between the and Jen will be hois ng their wine glasses
two new countries and made permanent by from a table on the periphery. Jen hopes
a great rampart running from coast to coast there is a dais for the head table. She wants
and into either sea as far as the con nental a clear look at the President.
shelf: the Two Americas Barrier.”
“What do you think?” Ron asks.
“Thank you, Car. Very nicely stated,” Jen
says. He li s his right hand to the level of his
face and wriggles the ﬁngers inside his new
“You are welcome,” Car answers. “And, leather work glove, his other gloved hand
opiniona on is a word. I looked in forty-two holding his wrist in a way that gives the mo-
dic onaries and the consensus is—”
on a foppish air.
“It’s a lovely word, Car,” Jen says with the
ﬁnality she would use to quiet an errant “Rugged,” Jen says.
toddler. “You can tell us some more later.”
She wonders whether his slightly eﬀem-
She suspects he composed this report inate gesture is an overture for a more per-
from his algorithmic resources, rather than sonal discussion about gender exchange.
quo ng database material, which would There has been talk between them about
account for opiniona on, as well as jeté, the sound reasons for the movement, let-
frothy, and virtues to recommend it. Car is
a bit of a linguis c dandy. New AIs tend to ng the ﬁrst genera on of States North
develop an imita ve emo onal intelligence. children learn the true interchangeability
As an addi onal concilia on to her self-driv- of roles in the best possible environment,
ing automobile’s sensibili es, Jen replaces their home. What be er statement than
the naviga on system metrics on the screen for Mommy to become Daddy and Dad-
with an overhead of the Closure area. dy to become Mommy while the kids are
young enough to be malleable?
The CNN drone has arrived onsite and
is televising a panorama of the facili es “Approaching speed control zone,” Car says.
for the Closure ceremony. Four concentric
arcs of temporary huts face the barrier gap. Decelera on ini ates. Jen checks the
More for form’s sake than safety, a military mirror again. Bus is right behind them. Faith-
con ngent with malign looking weapon- ful Bus, about to cross the MasDix for the
last me, never to return. She will miss him.
Car decelerates to one ten, ninety, seven-
ty. Structures other than empty farm build-
Adelaide Literary Magazine
ings begin to appear, all new and temporary Having Car recite will let him feel important,
looking and spou ng antennas. Heavy oﬀ- while hearing him babble will let Ron feel
road vehicles with Barrier Commission lo- superior. This ability to counterpoise male
gos on the doors are parked outside. Some egos is a feminine a ribute Jen thinks she
of these metal shacks will remain as part could easily lay aside. If she became a man,
of the Oversight Authority. No other occu- she might want her AI unit to have a female
pied structures will be permi ed within ﬁ y persona. Changing Car’s gender would be
miles of the barrier. inexpensive, but would doing so without
his consent be a kind of euthanasia?
An eddy of dust like an embryonic torna-
do spins across a bare dirt ﬁeld. The cloth- “Like the ﬁrst transcon nental railroad,”
ing advisory provided to the ceremony Car begins, “the growth of the barrier started
par cipants recommended windbreakers. simultaneously on the east and west coasts
Jen and Ron bought matching blue ones, of the former United States. The barrier is
which are on the seat between them. Jen made of living cellular concrete. This revolu-
sneaks a look at the hairy legs revealed by
Ron’s shorts. With gender reforma on, his onary material was result of a coopera ve
muscularity would smooth into curves. Her eﬀort of the best academic and engineering
own reforma on would thicken her arms, talent North and South. The organism they
legs, and torso, and replace her breasts devised is like dryland coral, but much ﬁner
with ﬂat pecs and a valley of hair. in composi on. Once it began the growth
process, all the barrier needed to complete
Ron catches her looking. Good, that was its march to the center of the con nent was
the point. a constant supply of raw organic concrete.
Today, the barrier will close into a single
She redirects her curiosity to their sur- structure at a point exactly in the center of
roundings, and gasps. Arching upward from the land mass. Throughout the interior the
a spread base and rising in unﬁgured white- structure is the same, from the two-mile-
ness to the height of a ninety-story building, wide base to the peaked top, with rootlike
the Two Americas Barrier looms over them extensions delving into the earth to provide
and stretches away uniformly to the edge stability. The barrier is structurally sound
of sight. enough to outlast the projected dura on of
the Rocky Mountains. Like human skin, the
“Perfec on,” Ron says. outer layers regenerate, which allows the
barrier to retain its smooth texture. The bar-
“Three thousand four hundred-ninety-three rier is an organic being, ﬁnely tasked by its
and eight tenths miles,” Car volunteers. AI assisted human originators. Each cell has
the ability to grow iden cal new cells from
“Speaking when not spoken to is outside the powdery residue le by its predecessors.
your protocol, Car,” Ron grumbles. The barrier built itself, and will renew itself
for what may as well be forever. Weight is
“Except as to traﬃc issues,” Car replies. minimized by the cellular structure, which—”
“Which this is not,” Ron says. “We’re here,” Ron interrupts.
“Arguably—” Car begins. “Thank you, Car,” Jen says. His report was
less ﬂowery, she no ces. Opiniona ons had
“Tell us about the barrier,” Jen interjects. been a good programming moment.
She does not want the three of them
to be in a snit when they arrive at the gap.
Revista Literária Adelaide
During his recita on, Car has slowed to ing viable the largest nonviolent migra on
twenty, the speed limit dictated by the sig- in human history.
nal posts along the thinly paved streets of
the temporary hut village. Jen and Ron are To mark the solemnity of the Closure, no
close enough to see the brown stripe on the one is present except the small crowd in
bo om ﬁ y feet of the barrier. Car leads the reviewing stand, the military con ngent,
Bus through the military encampment to and support staﬀ. No reporters have been
the debarka on zone and comes to a stop creden aled. Media coverage is limited to
in front of the reviewing stand, where he the camera drones, which now cluster at
opens the passenger doors and announces, an angle that will let them peer under the
“Arrival, eleven forty-eight twenty-three.” reviewing stand’s canvas roof. Jen wonders
Jen and Ron step out. Car closes his doors if her face and Ron’s are visible to the bil-
and drives oﬀ to recharge. Bus is le idling lions of people watching. Though the event
in front of the gap between the ends of the guide recommended that par cipants try to
barrier. Already the opening seems almost ignore the cameras, Jen sneaks a brief shoul-
too narrow to let him pass through. His der-high wave toward the nearest drone.
passengers remain in their seats and stare Ron picks up the idea and mimics her ges-
ahead as if their surroundings do not exist. ture. At home their children will be watching.
An honor guard armed with white riﬂes The bea ng rotor blades of a helicopter
lines the way to the reviewing stand. Other send all eyes peering toward the slice of sky
last-minute arrivals are walking between not hidden by the canvas shade over the
the ﬁles of soldiers; nearly all the seats in reviewing stand. The helicopter descends
the stands are taken. Jen and Ron mount to a landing zone at the near edge of the
the steps and are greeted by Barrier Au- military encampment. As it touches down,
thority execu ves and Rese lement Agen- the blade sound changes to a whirr. The
cy oﬃcials. An usher leads them to their backdra s rs a faint cloud of dust oﬀ the
assigned places in the top row of the ered prefab landing zone surface.
seats. Jen has worried she might be too ca-
sually dressed. She is relieved to see that The honor guard reassembles to deﬁne a
nearly all of the three hundred and ﬁ y in- walking route from the landing zone to the
vited dignitaries followed the event guide’s reviewing stand. A military band strikes up a
wardrobe advice. Lots of khaki slacks and march. It is not Hail to the Chief. Jen is mo-
shorts, everyone wearing their Barrier mentarily disappointed at this signal that the
Commi ee polos. Many of these people President is not in the helicopter. Then the
she and Ron already know from their years Vice President emerges. Jen and Ron join the
of work on the rese lement. cheering for her. She wears tan knee-length
shorts and a matching long-waisted two
Jen is not accustomed to thinking of her- pocket shirt. She presses a ﬂoppy-brimmed
self as a dignitary. But on this occasion the hat on her head while she hurries from under
word ﬁts. It was she and Ron who, while the rotor wash, then lets the hat fall down
s ll digital engineering grad students, de- her back on a cord. The last eddy of down-
vised Reloc, the so ware that so easily en- dra from the helicopter blows her hair free.
abled fair exchanges of property between
the people headed north and those headed “She looks amazing,” Jen says to Ron, li -
south. JenRon Reloc is credited with mak- ing on her toes to bring her lips close to his
ear amid the crowd noise.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“Younger,” Ron agrees, bending his cheek providing States North and States South
to Jen’s so his reply can be heard. with an impregnable boundary.
Discovering how close they are to kiss- At precisely noon, Bus drives into the
ing range, they touch lips. The moment gap. His passengers do not look toward the
makes them feel that good. reviewing stand. Their collec ve focus lies
ahead. To them the Vice President is anath-
She does look younger, Jen thinks as, ema. Every value enshrined in the States
arm in arm with Ron and leaning on his North cons tu on violates their most
shoulder, she watches the Vice President deeply held beliefs. Love of a place or a
mount the steps of the reviewing stand. No person has kept them from rese ling un l
one had been trolled harder than her. Every this last opportunity. In the end, faith, con-
day the rumor stream invented vile new lies tempt, and party aﬃlia on proved stronger.
about her. Now the last of the people who
jus fy their existence by redeﬁning truth As Bus’s taillights recede into the gap’s
to ﬁt their fantasized orthodoxy have gone deep shadow, Jen follows his progress with
south, and the Vice President’s public and the binoculars. Her eyes ﬁll with tears. Bus
private life has been subject to the rela ve- was JenRon Reloc’s ﬁrst vehicle. Their relo-
ly benign and largely accurate scru ny given ca on so ware had adapted easily to the
to any public ﬁgure. As the rese ling wound task of scheduling transporta on for those
down, the air of discourse in States North people who chose to leave everything be-
took on a tone only the older ci zens could hind when they moved south. At the height
recognize. A milder consensus as to the na- of the reloca on, they were running nine
ture of reality was revived, the kind derived thousand self-driving buses, each double
from facts. The diﬀerence could be seen on decker making trips to the border constant-
people’s faces and heard in their voices, as ly. But Bus remained special. When the chil-
if a poison had been drained from the civic dren were younger, Jen would take them
bloodstream. along on some of the runs. Bus would sing
songs and tell stories as he drove down the
The Vice President’s arrival has crowded road.
the Closure ceremonies schedule. She de-
clines the oﬀer of a microphone and waves Jen had asked him to stay with the busi-
to the crowd. ness, though it wasn’t clear what use he
could be now that the rese lement was
The band plays This Land is Your Land. over. He insisted this trip was his duty. She
Jen and Ron join everyone else in locking knew he wanted to go out of service in
elbows and swaying while they sing the way that ma ered, rather than rust into
words. To the Gulf Stream Waters has been decrepitude.
replaced with To the tall green corn ﬁelds.
At what must be the halfway point of his
The ushers hand out binoculars. On her journey through the gap, his hazard lights
pair, Jen discovers her name engraved in ﬂash three mes. This is his goodbye.
gold le ering under the oﬃcial commem-
ora ve seal of the Closure. She tries them Ron presses Jen’s hand. He understands
out by looking at the farthest visible point she feels grief, but he does not understand
of the barrier. It goes on and on, ﬂawless how sorely she feels it. This is as close in
and forbidding, curving with the planet, emo on as a man can get to a woman, she
reﬂects. Unless he becomes one.
Revista Literária Adelaide
She dries her eyes and refocuses her of inexperienced workers could disassemble
binoculars in me to watch Bus pass into them into parts light enough to be carried
the sunlight on the other side of the gap. A easily by groups of three or four to the next
large crowd is there, dis nguishable as in- stage, where the same people would assem-
dividuals but not magniﬁed enough for her ble them. Task done, the volunteers were
to make out expressions. They are all wear- treated to lemonade and sandwiches and
ing what look like white shirts with billowy given their commemora ve T-shirts before
sleeves. Behind them a glint of gold is visi- loading back on their charter bus in order
ble. Something large is being revealed. to make room for the next arriving group.
Transpor ng Helper groups had been a ma-
Everyone li s their binoculars to their jor oﬀshoot of JenRon Reloc’s business.
eyes. Aiming her circumscribed view to-
ward the brightness beyond the narrowing Aware of the camera drones, the Clo-
deﬁle, Jen sees a giant golden cross, half as sure Day dignitaries join the work with
tall as the barrier itself. The sound of singing hearty smiles. This near, the barrier smells
comes from the white-costumed Southern- biological. Most of the odor comes from
ers. With their ampliﬁed lyrics distorted by the brown-colored lowest ﬁ y feet, Jen
echoes of the gap walls, Jen takes a moment knows. As a living thing, the barrier absorbs
to realize they are performing the Halleluiah carbon dioxide and other nutrients from
Chorus. the air. Waste percolates downward, and is
the cause of the brown stripe. To the sur-
“Last chance at salva on,” someone be- prise of the designers, the waste is highly
hind Ron says. Everyone nearby laughs. toxic. It consists of a dis lled amalgam of
the world’s airborne pollu on. Breathing
Jen feels shaky again. Ron’s arm drops within two feet of the barrier is hazardous.
around her. Tonight when the party is over, or To touch the barrier is fatal. Warning signs
in the morning when they drink coﬀee, she announce, Danger! Contact of skin to the
will share her thought. What she is witness- Two Americas Barrier causes immediate
ing has become irreversible. The emblem and death. The barrier protects itself.
enabler of a complete separa on between
opposing American dreams, the Two Ameri- Ron and Jen, needing no help, lug a
cas Barrier is a few hours from closing for, as fence board a hundred yards to the next
Car put it, what may as well be forever. setup site. Ron takes his grip closer to the
center, his broad shoulders assuming more
Led by the Vice President, people ﬁle of the burden. Even so, Jen is glad to ﬁnally
from the reviewing stand. Obediently they lay the board down. She hopes he doesn’t
allow Na onal Park Service rangers to mar- no ce her arms trembling. How would
shal them into work groups. The Helper it feel to be the strong one, ins nc vely
movement started soon a er the growing of pulling extra weight to compensate for her
the barrier began. People showed up at the mate’s compara ve weakness?
site, wan ng to be a part of it. There was lit-
tle to do, but the authori es decided to ac- For the rest of the work hour, they make
commodate. Wooden safety fences needed themselves useful wherever they can. The
to be taken down, moved, and reassembled safety fences are reassembled directly in
hour by hour as the barrier grew toward front of the gap. Already it looks narrower.
the center of the country. The fences were Jen does not think Bus could ﬁt through if
fashioned so that loosely supervised teams
Adelaide Literary Magazine
he tried to come back. The idea is impos- ming, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and
sible anyway. On the other side, they will Oregon, and northern por ons of Ohio, In-
have disengaged his cogni ve circuits. Bus diana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado,
as an aware en ty no longer exists. Utah and Nevada. In central Nevada, the
border angles south to encompass North-
The Vice President is escorted to a hut in ern California. (See a ached map.) By pleb-
the center of the inner arc. Done for now, the iscite, Hawaii joined States North.
crowd sca ers. Car is wai ng for Ron and Jen.
The territory of States South includes
On the way to their hut, Car asks, “How the en rety of Maryland, the District of Co-
was Bus?” lumbia, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama,
“A trooper,” Ron answers. Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Missis-
sippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tex-
Inside, the earthen colored hut is faux as, New Mexico, and Arizona, and southern
luxurious. The bathroom has imita on por ons of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri,
marble walls and ﬂoors. The bed is made Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Cal-
with the quality of sheets and blankets you ifornia. (See a ached map.) By plebiscite,
would ﬁnd in a three-star hotel. The kitchen Alaska joined States South.
is equipped with a microwave and a plas c
espresso machine. The fridge holds frozen Various noncon guous territories voted
snacks, fruit, and soda water. to align with States North or States South.
Territorial residents were aﬀorded full re-
Ron lets Jen shower ﬁrst, so her hair will loca on privileges in States North. States
have longer to dry. While she is toweling she South limited reloca on privileges to terri-
peruses a Na onal Park Service pamphlet torial residents of European heritage.
about the Two Americas Barrier. The proj-
ect cost seven trillion dollars, established Following the adop on of Cons tu ons for
an astonishing variety (the Park Service’s States North and States South, popula ons
term) of new technologies, unexpectedly relocated in accordance with their values.
contributed to the campaign against glob-
al warming by consuming as much CO2 as Jen puts the pamphlet in her shoulder
a rain forest, and despite the forebodings bag. It will make a nice memento to show
of doomsayers, did not prove to be heavy the children. Reading it has eased her grief
enough to alter the revolu on of the Earth. at losing Bus by reminding her of the rea-
Inside the tri-folded ﬂyer, the Park Service son for his life’s work. North of the barrier
has summarized the changes of the past and south of the barrier, there is nothing
decade in staid government style. le to argue about.
Territories She and Ron walk through the cool night
air to the party tent, leaving Car to his re-
The territory of States North includes the charge slumber. The evening begins with a
en rety of Maine, Vermont, New Hamp- cocktail hour. Jen and Ron circulate, speak-
shire, Massachuse s, Connec cut, Rhode ing to everyone they know and making new
Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, connec ons. They each nurse a single ﬂute
Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Da- of champagne through the hour. Jen no c-
kota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyo- es others doing the same. No one wants to
Revista Literária Adelaide
Major Diﬀerences Between the Cons tu ons of States North and States South
States North States South
Freedom of faith does not exempt Chris anity is the na onal religion. All
religious organiza ons from taxa on. other faiths can be regulated by the states.
The government shall ensure that
opportunity is distributed equitably. Capitalism is a basic liberty, and wealth
Corpora ons and other business en es is a sign of God’s favor. Chris an-spirited
may sue and be sued, but possess no en es may par cipate fully in all phases
other civil rights. of public life.
Congress shall make no law establishing
rights for an embryo in the ﬁrst trimester. To seek, possess, or provide the means
of ending a human life in the womb a er
Implements designed to kill or wound the moment of concep on is a capital
humans may be possessed and operated oﬀense.
only by law enforcement and military
personnel. The bearing of arms is a basic obliga on
of ci zenship and may be enforced
Civil rights common to all people include by such measures as the states ﬁnd
the right to an adequate educa on, the appropriate.
right to health care, the right to just
compensa on, and the right to a secure It is le to the states to determine
re rement. how resources and privileges shall be
allocated among ethnici es, with due
Privacy is a basic human right. regard for the primacy of European
An orderly society demands adherence to
Chris an precepts.
look wobbly when the drone cameras focus out. The same young people who acted as
in for the vigil. ushers earlier now circulate quickly to light
the wicks. The ﬂames are protected from
They are taking their turn for a photo- a ﬂi ng breeze by small paper cones. For
graph with the Vice President when the the drone cameras, the eﬀect is as if a glow
sound of another lowering helicopter li s emanates from the hands of each dignitary.
all eyes toward the tent top. The Vice Pres-
ident, tall and bare armed in shimmering During the hours since the work session,
ﬂoor-length sliver, leads everyone out into the gap has narrowed un l it barely exists. No
the evening. Under the klieg lights the Pres- light can be seen from the other side. Sighs of
ident stands wai ng. The lineage of his fa- awe are exhaled as the two ends of the barri-
mous family shows in his handsome face er touch and meld. Closure is complete.
and his air of op mism. Applause rises as
the Vice President joins him. The lights are Some of the candles have ﬂickered out.
redirected to the gap. Candles are passed The mood is tenta ve. The President dispels
Adelaide Literary Magazine
it with a wave of his arm and leads the way ness that mirrors hers. Late in the night, un-
to the tent. Tables have been spread with derneath him on the bed in their hut and
place se ngs. A pair of video cameras on released from sobriety by the excellent free
raised pla orms behind the tables point to- wine, she wonders how it must feel to be the
ward the dais. Bo les of wine are uncorked. penetrator instead of the one penetrated.
The President raises a glass and oﬀers long
toast. Jen will remember ligh ng the way In the morning they carry their things to
forward and the promise of a new na on. Car’s open trunk. Their windbreakers feel
comfortable in the breeze. During the night
The cameras are removed. A er dinner, the military units have decamped. The he-
there is dancing to the brassy rendi ons of lipads are gone, their places marked by the
the military band. Exchanged couples stand circles their weight pressed into the ground.
out because the men are the same height The President and Vice President must have
as the women. There are other well-known ﬂown away before dawn. A Barrier Author-
conformi es. Gene c level gender switch ity crew is dismantling the reviewing stand.
allows structural reforma on within bodies. There is nothing to show that a gap in the
During the passage from female to male, wall ever existed.
bones grow thicker, muscle mass increas-
es, and arms and legs lengthen. Growing The tent is open for breakfast, with a
pains are an expected part of the transi on. buﬀet line and tables arranged in long rows.
A male transforming to a female experi- Much of the conversa on near Jen and Ron
ences slimming of bone structure, reshap- concerns the increasing comity between
ing of muscle ssue, and diminishment of States North and Canada. Soon the cross-
body mass. No way has yet been found ings between the two na ons will be com-
to decrease height or shrink feet. The ex- pletely open. Talk of merging systems and
tremi es of new females, s ll man-sized, elimina ng visa requirements is progress-
become more delicately structured. In cou- ing. No one men ons that States South
ples who have been married long enough is nearing comple on of another barrier
to form shared speech cadences, the fe- along the Mexican border.
male and male voices can seem to migrate
eerily from each partner to the other. Car is wai ng when they leave the tent. In
the growing sunlight, the barrier dominates
What stands out with every exchanged the site in a way it did not when the gap was
pair in Jen and Rob’s circle of acquaintance unclosed. It towers, vast and endless, de-
is the deep communion between the part- signed to be more eternal than any structure
ners. Three members Jen’s coﬀee group humankind has previously put on the earth.
have been replaced by the women who
used to be their husbands. The former wives “Is it big enough, do you think?” Ron asks.
have joined the other men in drinking beer
and watching ball games. With the pa ence He isn’t joking. Jen has no reply. From
of explorers made wise by their journey, the overhead comes a sound like distant thun-
exchangers talk about the understanding, der, though the sky is clear. Jen has her sou-
the fascina on, the sa sfac on. venir binoculars hanging from her neck. She
directs them upward and sees four silver
Jen sees Ron eyeing the exchanged cou- aircra trailing faint contrails. They are ﬂy-
ples on the dance ﬂoor with a though ul- ing in forma on. The States North Air Force
patrols the airspace above the barrier. So far,
Revista Literária Adelaide
the governments and popula ons of States them from the campsite are tall and black,
North and States south have been content Somalis maybe, and newly immigrated.
to ignore one another. But Jen is glad to see They are pioneers in what some think might
this evidence of vigilance. You never know. become a heartland repopula on.
She feels lightened when Car carries Ron rests his hand on Jen’s leg in the way
them out of the compound, yet comfort- he has always liked to do. This me, she
ed to have the barrier ﬁrmly at her back. rests her hand on his leg in the same man-
They will not pass an inhabited town for ner. They share a smile. The miles to their
hours. Four ﬁ hs of the rural popula on in city will pass in harmony, the two of them
the North States Midwest moved to States reading, exchanging, tolera ng Car’s quips.
South. Their counterpart rese lers who
moved north repopulated the larger plac- “Let’s stop by a clinic before we go home,”
es. Other ny towns that had lasted since Jen suggests. “Just to inquire.”
the original homesteading days, each the
home of a few hundred or a few thousand “Let’s,” Ron agrees.
people, were le deserted. There hadn’t
been enough people le in them to keep “Arrival es mated at one hour and eight
them alive. Scavengers salvaged whatever minutes before closing me at Gene c Sourc-
was worth taking. es Gender Reforma on Clinic,” Car says. “Shall
I phone for an appointment?”
Passing a roadside park near one of the
gu ed towns, Jen and Ron see tents pitched, “Please do,” Jen and Ron say together. They
and pickup trucks loaded with hand tools share a laugh.
and generators. The people who wave to
Around them the territory of States North
stretches wide, full of possibility.
About the Author:
Lawrence Uri has happily wri en umpteen overlooked works of ﬁc on, while earning his
keep as a lawyer and city manager in Kansas, and now as an online English tutor. He and his
wife live in Thailand.
DAVID AND GOLIATH
by Christopher Overfelt
Tangent Parallel form. It was useful as a weapon, but also
as an aesthe c piece of art, pleasing to
Francis sits in a coﬀee shop. It might be a the gods. The cra smen who moulded the
coﬀee shop. It might be someone’s home. slingshots out of the sacred yew tree were
It is spacious. It sits in the corner of a build- held in high esteem. They were regarded
ing with big windows that make up two of not only as woodworkers but also as heal-
the walls. Out the windows, Francis can see ers and in some cases prophets.
downtown. The building is on a rise and the
skyline spreads out below. David pauses and looks up from his book
at Francis. What do you think about that?
How did Francis get here? How did he
end up at a li le table in the corner? He I think you’re full of bullshit says Francis.
has no money. He can’t buy coﬀee. He has
none of the accoutrements that accompa- Would you like to work here?
ny coﬀee shop customers; no laptop, no
book, no companion. In fact, there are no Francis looks around the room. There is
other customers in the room. an espresso machine on a counter, behind
which sits a refrigerator and a gas oven
There is only one other person in the with a stove top. The walls are covered in
room. But he’s not really in the room. He is art. There is no blank space. There is a long,
in a space that is sec oned oﬀ from the room. tall bookshelf. Some of the books have fall-
Within, he can be heard yelling. There is music en and lie like suicides on the ﬂoor. Doing
playing in the room so his words are muﬄed, what? asks Francis.
but he is deﬁnitely yelling something. When
he comes out, he is si ng in a chair that rolls When he leaves, Francis tells David he
across the led ﬂoor. The les are the color of might show up in the morning. He probably
adobe, long since faded and scuﬀed. won’t. Francis walks down Broadway. It is a
hot night. When he gets to thirty seventh,
David has a book in his lap. He rolls over he is swea ng. He takes a right down to Val-
to Francis’ table. He talks about Mayan en ne where a big house sits on the corner.
slingshots. He wears a bandana on his head. He follows the sidewalk up to the big porch
He ﬂips through the pages of the book for and climbs the steps up to the door.
reference as he talks. Francis isn’t interest-
ed, but David talks anyway. He talks about It is a double door that is tricky to open.
how the slingshot was sacred in Mayan cul- The thumb press on the handle s cks and
ture. How it had a very exact, purposeful it’s not clear whether the door opens in
or out. Francis struggles for a minute, the
Revista Literária Adelaide
glass in the door ra ling as the group inside The faces pass a loaf of bread around
turns and watches him. They are gathered the ﬁre. And then a bag of lunch meat. And
in a circle in a large room and someone is then a bo le. There is an old face. It hangs
reading something to which they are trying lower than the other faces. The old man’s
to listen. The door ra les louder and louder. expressions are sincere. His eyes glow wild-
ly. He talks about how he is hard of hearing.
When the door ﬁnally opens, Francis How his ears were deafened by gun blasts
huﬀs in and takes a chair just outside of in the war. Which war, he doesn’t say. Now,
the reading circle. Some of the members of there is only ringing. So he watches faces.
the group scoot their chairs back so Francis And he believes in the sincerity of the faces
can be included. There is a woman stand- around this ﬁre. He can read expressions.
ing and singing. She slaps her hip to keep
the beat. It’s an old blues rhythm. She sings He says the worst fascists won world war
about a green eyed monster that roves the two. He says that all the sides were fascist,
dell and kills women, Jealousy. but that the worst side won. He talks about
ﬂoa ng a peace ﬂo lla to Cuba. Some of
When it is Francis’ turn to read, he says the other faces around the ﬁre begin to
I don’t have anything to read, but I have a grow impa ent. They abuse him. They tell
performance piece. Is that ok? him he’s a crazy old man. Finally, he tells
them of his purpose to go to the border. To
Sharon looks at him in surprise. She is ﬁght the injus ces taking place there.
the woman who was singing. You can do
anything you want here she says. As long How are you gonna get to the border old
as you’re real. man?
Francis stands and walks to a clear area I have a truck.
in the room. The group’s eyes follow him. He
lies down on his back and puts his hands up Where the fuck did you get a truck?
in the air. Then he kicks his feet and begins
to scream. He looks like a child having a ﬁt. I stole it.
The group is not pleased. He stands up and re-
turns to his seat. Sharon looks at him and says You’re gonna drive a stolen truck to the
That was a deep well. You fell for two minutes. border?
How did you know? says Francis. Francis tells the old man he will go with
him. They leave in the morning. The old
We’re all falling down a well says Sharon. man turns out to actually have a truck. It is
And when we hit the bo om, we’re dead. a nineteen eighty one Chevy; the small body
kind that were made in Mexico when they
When Francis leaves, it is s ll hot. He ﬁrst started moving their manufacturing
walks back down Broadway, towards down- plants across the border; the models that
town. He turns up Southwest Boulevard to- were made to compete with the li le Japa-
wards Main. Beneath the Charlo e street nese trucks that were appearing in America.
bridge, there is a group gathered around
a ﬁre. The ﬁre burns in a barrel that has Francis and the old man can hardly ﬁt
been cut down to a short height. There are into the cab together. It can’t go over for-
only disembodied faces around the ﬁre, as ty nine miles an hour with two people in it.
if limbs and torsos are not to be trusted. It sounds like a hornet. We’re not going to
Francis joins them. make it to Texas says Francis, shou ng over
the noise of the exhaust.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
The old man doesn’t hear. Or maybe he When Francis gets a court date, they dis-
pretends not to hear. Noxious fumes enter miss his charges. He doesn’t know why. The
the cab through the vents and they have judge seems distracted and doesn’t make
to keep the windows down to clear out eye contact with anyone. If Francis could
the smoke. But they make it to Texas. They make a wager, he would wager that the
make it to Dallas. In a hotel parking lot, they judge was on drugs. He is in the courtroom
stop to sleep. Francis sleeps in the bed of for a grand total of ﬁve minutes and ﬁ y
the truck. The old man sleeps in the cab. three seconds and then he is outside, just
like that. He is given back his shoelaces.
At eleven forty nine p.m., Francis is awak-
ened by the ﬂashlight of a policeman shining He hitchhikes down to the border. Down
in his eyes. There is another policeman shin- to El Paso. In the desert wilderness, there
ing his ﬂashlight into the cab of the truck. is a tent city that houses children. There is
Get out of the truck say the policeman. also an encampment of protesters opposed
to the imprisonment of children. They eye
They tear the truck apart. It turns out to Francis warily. They eye each other warily.
be a simple job as the truck is falling apart, The cops drive slowly around the protesters’
anyway. Francis and the old man sit on the encampment. They shine their lights into the
curb and watch. The old man tries to run. tents at night. They blast heavy metal music
He doesn’t get far. The other policeman towards them. They are police, FBI, border
tackles Francis as if he were running, too. patrol, ICE, army and private contractors.
I’m not resis ng! shouts Francis.
The protesters begin to fracture. They
In jail, Francis is stripped of his shoelac- accuse one another of failure. Failure to act.
es so as not to harm himself or anyone else. Failure to have the courage to stop what is
He is kept in a holding cell alone un l he is happening. Failure to stand up to a police
processed into the general popula on. He state. When condi ons are at their worst,
doesn’t see the old man. Francis has nev- something happens. There is a child in the
er been in jail before. It isn’t at all how he desert. How it got there, no one knows. The
imagined it. It is like a summer camp for police surround the child. So do the protest-
fucked up people. They all sleep together in ers. There is a standoﬀ. The police demand
a long hallway. They have li le cubicles that that the protesters hand over the child.
separate the beds. Francis isn’t sure where
the guards are. He just follows the rou ne The child is Mayan. She carries a slingshot.
with everyone else; to the chow hall, to the It is of an elegant design, and it ﬁts her hand
showers, to the rec hall. perfectly. She pulls back the gummy strands
as if to ﬁre. Whether or not there is projec-
He meets someone named Andrew.
Andrew sneaks into his bed one night and le in the web of the sling, no one can tell.
jerks Francis oﬀ. They sit in the smoking The police, too, raise their weapons. The pro-
area and smoke together. Andrew is small testers begin to shout and scream. The bullet
with glasses. He is the an thesis of a jail- ﬁre is dense. The bullets, in the air, are dense.
bird. He tells Francis about his foster family. Everyone falls. Except for the child. She lets
His foster dad was named Jackson. Jackson the rock ﬂy and it lands in the forehead of a
was an army vet. He parachuted into Pan- policeman, laying him ﬂat on his back.
ama and broke his legs. He walked kind of
funny. The policeman feels as if he is falling
down a well. A deep, deep well. He falls for
Revista Literária Adelaide
longer than he can keep track of. It is dark. is considered slow, although the doctors
As he falls, he thinks of his wife. He thinks can’t diagnose any speciﬁc condi on. At
of the argument they had before he le for night, her parents discuss what should be
work that morning. The night before, he done with her. They consider sending her to
had wanted to see a movie. His wife didn’t an ins tu on, but there are no such facili-
want to go. At ﬁrst, she had said she didn’t
want to see the movie that he wanted to es close to their home. They can’t aﬀord
see. When he oﬀered to see a diﬀerent any kind of special tutoring.
movie, she declined again. A resentment
grew in his chest. She never had the ener- Her father takes her to the ﬁelds, but
gy for him. She was so dedicated to her job she is of no use there, either. She is unable
that she had nothing le to give him. to perform the simplest of tasks; feeding
the goats, shooing the birds away from the
But he couldn’t tell her that, because it peaches. Her mind seems to be in a catatonic
felt childish to get upset over a movie. And state. I’m going to make her a slingshot says
so he had read his book, and she had read her father one night. His wife scoﬀs at him.
hers. They went to sleep without talking to
one another. In the morning, he told her He sits Flora down on the ground and
about his feelings. And now here he is, fall- sits down next to her with a piece of wood
ing down a well. and a knife. She watches as the handle takes
shape, then the notched forks and ﬁnally
He feels stupid. Stupid for ge ng angry the rubber bands. The whole process takes
over a movie. Stupid for standing in the several hours. When it is ﬁnished, there is
place where there just happened to be a a pile of wood shavings in her father’s lap.
rock in front of his forehead. He knows this The slingshot is rudimentary, rough and
is probably the end. He had waited to have splintery. Her father sets it down beside her
children and now he was probably going to and then gets up and leaves.
regret it. There would be no pleasures of
fatherhood. No losing sleep over a crying For a few days, the slingshot lies on the
baby. No recognizing his own features in ground untouched. But Flora stays beside it,
the soul of another person. signalling to her mother and father that she
wants to take her meals outside. She goes
Was that the purpose? To leave behind to the bathroom in a bush not far from the
a part of yourself in someone else? It must slingshot. She sleeps next to it, too. The
be, and he had failed to do it. The indelible jackals will get her says her mother.
mark he would leave on the earth would
be the body print in the sand where he fell What do you think the slingshot is for?
dead from the rock of a Mayan slingshot. says her father.
Tangent Perpendicular At night, armed men from the mining
company come to their home. They ﬁre in-
Flora is a dark headed child. She stands aloof discriminately into the li le dwelling. There
from her brothers and sisters. At school, she is nowhere to hide. When Flora goes inside,
doesn’t follow the pa erns on her hand- there is no life there. She leaves. She takes
wri ng assignments. Her lines follow their her slingshot with her.
own course. She has trouble speaking. She
Where does she go? She follows a path
through the mountains. Up into the foot-
hills at ﬁrst, then higher. At the top, the stars
Adelaide Literary Magazine
are within reach. So is the milky way. It is so palm. What are you going to do with that?
thick it spills onto the earth. she says.
She sleeps in the grass on a wide plateau. It’s for my slingshot he says.
While it is s ll dark, she is awoken by a noise.
It sounds like a snake, something slithering Mexico City is diﬀerent. She is treated
in the grass. She follows it. There is a pile of neither with contempt nor pity. She is sim-
rocks not far from where she was sleeping; ply ignored. She is too small to force any-
a pyramid of perfectly smooth pebbles. She one to pay a en on. She learns to ﬁght.
takes one and puts it in her mouth and swal- Her slingshot is no longer an ornament, but
lows it. The rest, she puts into her pockets. a weapon. So, too, are her pebbles. She
sharpens them to points on the concrete
Over the months, the handle of the sling- sidewalks. In the tunnels underground, the
shot grows smooth in her hand. It takes the rats fall from the pipework, skulls crushed
shape of her curved palm. She doesn’t let it by pinpoint accuracy.
go. In the towns along the highway, people
poke fun at her for it. What are you hun ng? It is now her hands that are rough and
they ask her. They hold their hands up sarcas- splintery; the slingshot smooth and delicate.
At night, she sands it with her palms. It takes
cally when she raises it and points it at them. on a pale sheen. She is no longer recognizable
as the pi able Flora that was in Guatemala.
She barters with her pebbles. She lays
one on a counter before an old woman. In the tourist markets, the gringos jump
The counter has a glass pane in it and the in fright at the sight of her. Some mes she
stone shivers on its surface. The old woman laughs at them. Some mes she screams.
looks at it. She picks it up in her hand. It is She is, in all senses, a horrid creature. She
smooth and weighty, perfectly aerodynam- has no manners, is ﬁlthy, and takes every
ic for slipping through the air. What am I opportunity to be downright mean. But
supposed to do with this? says the woman. who can judge the wretched? It is a sad iro-
ny that those who are treated cruelly are
Flora holds up her slingshot to show it to o en themselves the most cruel.
her. I don’t have a slingshot says the woman.
I can’t use this. S ll, even in that cruel city, and in her
miserable condi on, there are those who
An old man comes up behind the woman. would help her. It is a childless couple. They
What is it? he says. Before him, in the glass are on vaca on and they see Flora defecat-
display case, are shelves with li le cakes on ing in public. They are frightened, disgusted,
them, muﬃns, scones, croissants. ashamed, and ul mately confused. They go
to alert the authori es but quickly realize
This girl wants a cake says the woman. that to do so would be akin to se ng the
The man takes the pebble from the woman dogs onto the rabbit.
and puts it in his pocket. Then he takes a
cake oﬀ a shelf from the display case and So they follow her. They are amazed by
hands it to the girl. It is lemon yellow with her self suﬃciency. When they approach
strawberry pink fros ng and a red ribbon of her, they are greeted with pebbles whizzing
icing. He pours her a glass of milk, too. by their ears. They quickly take the money
from their pockets, put it in a plas c bag,
The woman eyes him cynically. He takes set it on the ground, and leave.
the pebble from his pocket and pets it in his
Revista Literária Adelaide
Flora moves out of the city and a acks has gone oﬀ. The soil is red. Everywhere is
the long, lonely desert. Even in her hard- stunted growth. Life moves in a slow slough
ened condi on, the isolated desert taxes towards death. When Carl ﬁnishes reading
her mentally and emo onally. The blowing the passage out loud, he takes oﬀ his glass-
sand so ens her, reﬁnes her. es. Carl is short. He has hunched shoulders.
In his re rement, he felt the call of God to
She takes up with a group of desert peo- minister to the people of the Cherokee na-
ple, nomads. On that bleak terrain, they take
on the shape and characteris cs of the oth- on. He looks out at his ﬂock. They sit in
er beings who survive there; the hunched metal chairs, swea ng. There is a ceiling fan
vultures, the fur ve rodents, the invisible above that turns too slowly, as if the motor
lizards. They move slowly in the day me, is burnt out. The blades droop downward
erec ng camps of shade and res ng. They as if they have melted in the heat.
follow the li le animal trails to the dried up
creeks; dig beneath them to ﬁnd the water. Carl talks in a shaky voice. He talks about
They accept Flora the way a group of jellyﬁsh God being greater than any giant. How a
accepts another into their fold. They release simple faith in God can conquer any obstacle.
her in the same manner. She washes into El What did Saul do? He hid. David had faith in
Paso with a single stone le in her pocket. God. He had the courage to face down the
giant. Whatever obstacle you face in your
Tangent Angular life he says, addic on, anger, fear, sexual
perversion, idolatry. God’s love is greater.
The story of David and Goliath is narrated
in the ﬁrst book of Samuel, in the seven- He looks around the room for his grand-
teenth chapter. It has been related count- daughter, Liza. She isn’t there. She is out
less mes in countless churches across the on A road, si ng on the old railroad bridge
United States. One such church is in Marble that crosses the river. They call it a river, but
City, Oklahoma. It is called the First Pente- it’s li le more than a dried up creek bed.
costal Church of the Cherokee Na on and When the water is up, the Cherokee kids
the structure itself is a double wide trailer will swim in the river and some of the older
that sits up on a series of cement blocks. boys will jump oﬀ the railroad bridge.
The steepled roof is crowned with a cross.
From the bridge, Liza can see the high-
Inside, Carl stands at the pulpit and reads way that passes by the town. She lets her
from the bible. The irony of a white man bare legs dangle oﬀ the bridge. She has just
reading the story of David and Goliath to a started shaving her legs. She hasn’t told her
group of Cherokee na ves is not lost to many grandparents. She likes to sit on the bridge
of those present. But the entertainment in and watch the cars go by on the highway.
and around the reserva on is thin; even thin- She imagines where they are going, where
ner on Sunday mornings. And Carl’s wife’s they came from. She imagines leaving with
piano playing isn’t bad. Her singing, though, one of them, any of them, and escaping her
is wretched. The group works together to hell hole.
drown her out when they are singing hymns.
She watches as an old blue truck takes
If you’ve never been to Oklahoma, imag- the exit and drives down to the li le gas
ine any decent place a er a nuclear bomb sta on in town. The gas sta on, in fact, is
the town. There are no other buildings in
the town proper, aside from a few trailer
Adelaide Literary Magazine
homes. The old truck is unusually loud and water. It drips in her hand obscenely. The
seems to drive in ﬁts of stops and starts. woman s cks her head out the gas sta on
door and says Liza, go on!
Suddenly Liza leaps up and runs oﬀ the
bridge. She runs down A road into town But Liza hides behind the gas pump for a
and when she gets to the gas sta on she is minute and then reappears. She begins to
completely out of breath. But she stops and squeegee the windshield of the old truck. It
walks casually into the parking lot, trying not won’t do any good says the old man. I can’t
to breathe too hard. She gathers her hair hardly see anyways.
behind her ears. The blue truck is parked in
front of a gas pump and there is an old man Where you from? Liza asks Francis. He sits
standing behind it. He doesn’t seem to no ce in the passenger seat with the door open.
her. She doesn’t see anyone else in the truck.
We came from Kansas City.
As she enters the gas sta on, she glanc-
es at the counter and sees Francis standing Kansas City?
there. He is coun ng change onto the count-
er top. The woman at the register sees Liza Ya.
and says Liza, if you don’t leave my store right
now I will drive out to your granddaddy’s My aunt lives in Kansas City. My aunt Bren-
church and bring him back here and watch da. Do you know her?
him whoop your ass. Do you understand me?
Francis turns around and looks at her. Liza
is holding the door open and she looks at Ya. She’s got brown hair.
Francis and then she looks at the woman and
leaves. Francis drops the rest of his change Ya. I’ve seen her.
onto the countertop along with a few crum-
pled dollar bills. The woman takes them and You’re a liar. My aunt Brenda lives in Cha-
counts them out and says You want ﬁve dol- nute. It’s my uncle Byron that lives in Kansas
lars and thirty six cents worth of gas? City.
Ya says Francis. Ya but she came up to Kansas City for
treatment. She was in the room next to mine
Where are you going? at the methadone clinic.
To the border. Liza stops cleaning the windshield for
a moment to look at Francis. For a second
What are you going there for? she looks concerned and then she laughs.
So you’re one of those dope heads. I bet
I don’t really know says Francis. you’re on your way to Mexico right now to
get a load of dope and take it back to the
Outside, Liza is enjoying the breeze city. We see it all the me here.
passing between her bare thighs. The old
man has no ced her now and he watch- The old man takes the nozzle out of the
es her as he works the gas nozzle into the truck and puts it back on the pump. He sits
tank of the truck. Francis comes outside in the driver’s seat and says That won’t get
and walks past Liza. He doesn’t seem to no- us there.
ce her. She walks closer, playing with the Liza s cks her head in the truck and says
windshield squeegee that sits in the blue I can get you some money if you need it.
Francis now looks her in the eyes. How?
Revista Literária Adelaide
My granddaddy runs a church not far border? he says. It’s a shame what they’re
from here. I can sneak in and grab the col- doing down there. It’s always the same
lec on plate. with the white man. They take and take and
take. Don’t ever want to give back.
The church is just a li le ways down A
road and Liza rides in the back of the truck. He takes a ten dollar bill from his pocket
Her heart is pounding and she feels like she and gives it to Francis. Take that for the road.
is ﬂying through the air. When they get to the
church, she jumps out and runs ahead of them. Liza is lying down ﬂat in the back of the
You all stay out here while I sneak in she says. truck and they take her back to the gas sta-
We’re not stealing from a church says on. As the old man ﬁlls the truck up, Fran-
Francis. cis tells her to get out. You said you knew
my aunt Brenda! says Liza. Well my daddy
Francis and the old man walk into the was her brother and he died in a car crash
side door of the trailer and ﬁnd themselves and my mama doesn’t want me!
at the back of the li le congrega on. There
are probably ten or ﬁ een people in the We’re not going to a place that’s any
room. Carl pauses his sermon and looks at be er says Francis.
them. The rest of the congrega on turns
around and does the same. The old man Filled with gas, the truck seems to run
li s his hands and says the real fascists won be er and Liza watches it slowly gain speed
world war two. I lost my hearing in the war, up the on ramp like an airplane trying to
but I can read faces. And the faces I see take ﬂight. She kicks a few rocks in the park-
here are faces of peace. I’m on a journey. A ing lot and then s cks her arm in the gas
journey of peace. I ﬂoated a peace ﬂo lla sta on door and ﬂips oﬀ the woman inside.
to Cuba. To break the embargo. Now I’m on
my way to the border. To ﬁght the injus ce She goes back out to the bridge. Si ng
there. You’re a peace loving people. We just down, she thinks about how church will be
need a few dollars to get us there. ge ng out. How her grandma will make
tuna salad. How a few members of the con-
Carl points to the door from the pulpit grega on will join them. It’s all unbearable.
and says Get out. Looking down the highway, where the hot
tarmac disappears into the distance, she
Outside, a member of the congrega on thinks she can see the border. It is like a
catches up to them. You fellas going to the magnet pulling her down the mouth of a
funnel, into a deep, dark depression.
About the Author:
Christopher Aslan Overfelt lives and works on the
empty plains of Kansas. In the summer me he grows
cucumbers and in the winters he takes a endance at
the local high school.
by Andrew Chinich
Looking back now, thinking of Ruby makes gance of being young and in love. Ea ng
me smile. But it took a long me to get warm pecan pie with Ruby at four in the
to this place. What then felt like a series a ernoon. Watching her eat eggs with
of haphazard random events now seem ketchup at the coﬀee shop at four in the
like perfect ﬁ ng puzzle pieces. Sheridan morning. Throwing ﬁrecrackers into the fog
Square was like a magician’s sleight of hand, of a rainy night oﬀ the roof in Sheridan Sq.
and there we lived happily and arrogantly Being mesmerized by Ruby, on a hot sum-
within the illusion we created. Like rabbits mer night, in her tee shirt and underwear
pulled out of a hat we had the spotlight on dancing around her apartment to Pre y in
us, we were the stars. We were the main Pink. Those were the good days, the best
actors in a ﬁlm we were wri ng. But this of days. I was a kid and she had already
is how I see it now, from the high ground traveled the road I was driving on. But for a
and advantage of me. Then. Then I was short me, a blink of the eye, we were both
an infatuated roman c caught somewhere headed down that one-way street together.
between A Season in Hell and Flowers of
Evil. Ruby was an adult to my insuﬀerable But all that was long ago.
bouts of passionate self-indulgence. But
back then I just couldn’t see it. Our aﬀair, *
our love aﬀair, had to end as it could nev-
er sustain its own weight, the anchor of At twenty-eight Ruby felt cheated, her ﬁne
adult commitments dragging us down to balance of values slightly withered. She
earth. Ruby had no choice but to move on deﬁnitely had misjudged the fury of me
in search of a more secure life, a life alien and had wasted too many years on a poi-
to me, a life I had no interest in and was in sonous po on of rou ne and transient af-
no posi on to oﬀer her. It never dawned on fairs. It was certainly true that she had tak-
me just how unstable being in love with her en her share of lovers but it was also starkly
had made me. true that she had taken no love and had
given back more than an equal dose.
All these years later, watching the Cal-
ifornia sun set through the bougainvillea As she thought quietly to herself how
vines, watching it dip below the hills of Lau- she had existed on li le more than her own
rel Canyon, my life seems a million miles blind, crippled faith most of her life, she
away from those days on Jones Street. Now slipped her jacket on with indiﬀerence and
I just remember the good mes, the arro- a small hint of disgust creeping up into her
mouth, walked down the six ﬂights of stairs
and into a cold January morning.
Revista Literária Adelaide
Even before turning le onto Bleaker ice became mo onless in this hollow void,
Street, the feint, rusty odor of urine mixed unable to move forward, unable to retreat
perilously with the freezing January wind back into the smoke-ﬁlled room.
and cut a path that found Ruby even before
she was fully aware of it. At the far end of “Seriously, what’s your deal?”, he blurted
Jones Street, Sixth Ave came into view and out.
slowly like an appari on slid out of focus
and into a gray blur, the result of icy wind “I only fuck strangers I know” Ruby said
mixed with salty tears, and she realized ﬂatly.
that another morning had again go en the
be er of her. Oh, god, did she just say that out loud,
or was that just in her head? Even before
* the sentence was ﬁnished taking shape, she
felt the adrenalin running through her veins,
The Roadhouse, by day, was a casual play- knowing this was ge ng ugly. His smile now
ground for hanging out, and at night a place disintegrated, emboldened by alcohol, his
to get hung out. But it was their hangout, ego hurt by her words. For a moment, he
Ruby and her best friend Jolene. She sat was immobilized, crushed. He wanted to just
sullenly over a tequila one of those nights disappear but, in his mind, the thin line of
and listened through the background noise acceptable bar-diplomacy had been crossed.
to an overzealous law student’s disserta-
He took a quick short step toward Ruby
on on his many merits and a ributes. and grabbed her arm too ghtly through
her co on sweater.
This guy’s life story sounded like a bad
autobiography that foreshadowed where “Let’s get out of here” he stu ered un-
the conversa on was headed. Magically he der his breath. The loud din of the crowded
disappeared at the same me Ruby’s tequi- room and the blaring music made it near
la disappeared. impossible to comprehend what was taking
place. “Let’s go”, this me louder.
But here he was now, holding two drinks.
“I bought you a drink”, he oﬀered up. His re- Ruby tried to remain calm. She hissed,
appearance, glasses in hand, stopped her “Get. Your. Hands. Oﬀ me”.
cold and her previous ambivalence dissi-
pated. Who was this guy, a guy she clearly But the demand was met with a ghten-
was not interested in, to inject himself into ing around her arm. She wondered how she
her life, her space. had allowed this ridiculous situa on to de-
velop. Was this her doing, did she act sugges-
The ice cubes rang inside her near empty
glass, and she held it to her lips as if caught vely? No, this guy was just one step away
there and held in suspension where neither from his next date-rape. Then he let go. Took
reason nor logic resided. She looked up at a step back, looked her up and down. “Yeah,
him, and through him with her penetrat- well fuck you too old lady”.
ing stare mustering as much venom as she
could summon, and her eyes, like a cat, be- “Old lady?” she thought to herself.
came even greener in the dim yellow light.
He turned and le in a hurry, pushing
He stood there with his two glasses of his way through the crowded room, bump-
amber liquid, and realizing he was on thin ing into bodies and out the front doors into
the cold night.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
New York City in the 70’s was a danger- quicksand they invested in. With the immi-
ous place. nent prospect of not being able to pay next
months’ rent, they decided to head west,
* California in their sights, land of dreams.
They loaded up the old Buick and in the
There’s nothing the night can’t heal. Sheri- middle of the night, le their bungalow be-
dan Square emerges out of the grey pave- hind in the rear-view mirror. Somewhere
ment like a monument to all lost souls. It’s between Florida and California, they found
not a square at all, but rather, a loose tri- themselves hopelessly lost one night in a
angle of haphazard and seemingly random one-traﬃc-light town called Ruby, Arkansas.
structures. Its intersec ng streets poin ng With their meager funds dwindling, they
like arrows, teasing you to walk east and slept in the car that night and unknowingly
west and north and south. On a warm July conceived their ﬁrst and only child. Short
night, walking west, the early evening’s on imagina on but not passion, they decid-
pink hues slip over the Hudson River pre- ed right then and there that if they were to
cluding the s llness of sunset. A warm dust ever have a child, they would name it Ruby,
of orange light falls oﬀ the concrete walls as their shining gem, in honor of the blessed
the asphalt streets ooze and give back the event. The gods smiled down on them and
day’s heat. But in late January the contrast luckily 9 months later they gave birth to a
couldn’t be more pronounced; the low light girl.
and grey skies, the absence of tourists look-
ing for direc ons. *
* Oﬀering to dog-sit was beginning to look
like a mistake to Charlie. Christmas had
Ruby’s father, Henry Clay was a quiet man brought a light, cold rain upon the city and
with powerful eyes like Valen no, and a looking out into the dark alleys from the
kind disposi on, his golden hair bleached apartment in Sheridan Square, the wet
from the southern suns of the deep south. pavement appeared glossy and slick, glass-
like beneath the few rusted street lamps
At twenty-seven he met his wife to be in that s ll worked.
Gainesville, Florida. She was taking ckets at
the local movie theater where he would go to Charlie cursed his friend, undoubtedly
dream of what might have been, what could walking on some warm beach in Acapulco,
have been. Three weeks later they were mar- while he, Charlie, chased the Afghan puppy
ried and rented a bungalow that looked not around the living room in an eﬀort to get a
unlike every other house on the street. Pink leash around his neck.
and faded stucco, sun bleached roof les,
peeling paint and a crooked mailbox. What the hell was anyone doing with a
120 lb. Afghan in an apartment in New York?
Frustrated by the bleak prospects of
what lay before them, they invested their As soon as Charlie opened the door, the
combined life savings of $1,200 into a real dog, in a mad burst of bladder-full energy,
estate venture they found adver sed in made a bee line for the elevator.
Readers Digest. They bought a tract of land
oﬀering great promise that turned out to He hit the bu on. Hit it again. But as he
be a swamp near the Everglades, and their and the pooch sat there wai ng impa ently
savings were quickly swallowed up like the for the painfully slow elevator to get to them,
Revista Literária Adelaide
it all proved too much for the poor pup, and Her face had sharp features, dis nct and
a puddle formed around Charlie’s boots. pale and delicate, her lips slightly open cam-
ouﬂaging a sly smile. Then she stood up and
Thus, the evening that would change le .
Charlie Fair’s life had oﬃcially begun.
She walked oﬀ toward Seventh Avenue.
* Charlie walked oﬀ in the opposite direc on
but a er twenty feet, he stopped dead in
It was moist and warm for December and the his tracks. He turned around and decided
air felt good against Charlie’s face. The dog to ﬁnd her before she disappeared. What
bounced from the curb to the sidewalk to the hell. He turned around, the dog in tow,
the street. Complete strangers would stare and walked in the direc on she went. He
at him and invariably their gazes would ﬁnal- saw her, hands deep into her coat pock-
ly land on Charlie as a curious a erthought. ets. But before he could catch up with her,
But Charlie began to see that walking a cute, she walked into the Roadhouse, the heavy
furry dog was the key to the door of possibil- wooden doors slamming behind her, mak-
i es. Who could resist a big overgrown pup- ing a statement. Charlie laughed at himself.
py? He was a spider. They were the ﬂies. The Pathe c. Chasing some stranger down the
creature was a women-magnet. streets of New York. What exactly did he
expect was going to happen anyway?
They turned as usual oﬀ of Seventh Ave-
nue and onto Jones Street and then turned Charlie headed back, walking past the
and headed back to Sheridan Square. Char- fogged windows of the Roadhouse. But be-
lie was a writer and this budding career fore he had even go en back to Sheridan
wasn’t going too well at the moment. A er Square she came up behind him, her hands
some minor ini al success, he couldn’t get s ll in her coat, but now she was with a girl-
anything published. So maybe it really was friend.
beginners’ luck. But he turned his thoughts
away from that endless black hole of doubt, “This is the dog I told you about” Ruby
and gently tugged on the leash. The dog, said to Jolene.
now an unmovable object, was wrapped in
the arms of a woman wearing an military “Cute” Jolene oﬀered up, and then to Ruby,
ﬁeld-jacket, her long hair falling over her poin ng at Charlie, “He’s pre y cute too”.
collar and in her face.
“Thanks for that”, Ruby said sarcas cal-
“He’s adorable. How old is he?” she asked. ly but her friend was already speaking to
Charlie “We’re going out later if you want
“Not sure really. I’m just baby-si ng, um stop by and meet us for a drink”. Ruby shot
dog-si ng. Well technically puppy-si ng”. Jolene a look.
“What’s his name? is he a she or a he?” Jolene mo oned to Charlie. “A bit young
for you, but not bad” she said under her
“He. I’m pre y sure”. Charlie bent down breath.
and looked, catching a glimpse of the wom-
an’s face. “Oh yeah, he’s a he”. Ruby sank deeper into her jacket and
scarf. Jolene pulled her away, laughing and
“Nice move”, she said to him laughing. said over her shoulder to Charlie, “Eleven
at the Roadhouse”, she pointed in the di-
She bent down stroking the puppy’s sleek
Adelaide Literary Magazine
rec on behind them, but they walked oﬀ *
not wai ng for an answer.
They slept on his ma ress, on the ﬂoor. As
* the rumbling of the garbage trucks and the
light of dawn ﬁltered through the blinds,
Charlie pushed through the heavy wooden he ran one ﬁnger lightly over her skin,
doors, walked through the crowd and saw following her spine from her neck to her
Ruby. waist. She managed to pry an eye open.
She looked at her watch and it had the ef-
“Hello” he said, “I’m Charlie. but before fect of a glass of cold water poured over
he could even get it all out, she put a ﬁnger her, bringing her instantly into the reality
to his lips and said in her best Marlon Bran- of the situa on. He had dreamed deeply
do, “No names.” Charlie wasn’t sure what to and his head hurt.
What the hell did they drink last night
“I’m kidding” she said, “Last Tango in Par- anyway?
is? Remember when they’re done screw-
ing and Brando tells Maria Schneider ‘no “I’ve got to go” she whispered. She turned
names!’ “Didn’t you see Last Tango”? over and kissed him.
“Ah, a joke. Good one. Pass the bu er”, I “Wait, said Charlie, “can we meet, again?
get it, said Charlie. I mean I’m not sure last night was not my
“I’m Ruby” she extended her hand to shake.
Ruby laughed, “OK Churchill, but if I agree
“Ruby”, said Charlie. “A gem of a name”. to see you again, then you’ll think I like you”.
“Well, on the way to California, my par- “Wait”, Charlie s ll trying to recall last
ents got lost in a small town, Ruby, Arkan- night’s events, and non-events. Did he drink
sas. And screwed in the back of the car. And absinthe?
“And I have to go to the laundromat –
“So you’re like a monument to the deep and you have a dog to walk”. Ruby said get-
south” said Charlie.
“No, more their complete lack of imagi-
na on. I don’t think they were paying hom- “I’m really good in laundromats. I know
age to confederate rural America” oﬀered my way around those places. Spent a lot of
me in laundromats”, he oﬀered. “Wait I
“Good they didn’t stop in Moonstone, have quarters in a drawer somewhere”.
Montana”, said Charlie.
But she already had her jacket on now,
Jolene, closing the deal with her just-met and turned to go. She came back, grabbed
new bar-friend, got up and put her coat on. a pen on the table, and wrote her number
on the back of his hand and said, “Thanks
“Hello and goodbye”, she said to Ruby, for, for, I don’t know. For what happened.
“What the hell”, she added, and they shuf- For what didn’t happen. For being sweet”
ﬂed out into the crowded room. and she turned and walked out the door.
Then Ruby slowly leaned in to Charlie, He yelled out, “Wait! What about the
close enough for him to smell her hair, and quarters?” but she was gone.
whispered “what the hell”.
Revista Literária Adelaide
* woman, this Ruby, named a er a one traf-
ﬁc–light town oﬀ route 167 in Arkansas,
It’s always uncomfortable being in a wom- captured his senses and it humbled him.
an’s apartment for the ﬁrst me and Ruby’s That’s when he knew he was in trouble.
was no diﬀerent. No ma er how in mate
you may have been, you feel like a stranger *
trespassing where you don’t really belong.
Nothing is familiar. Nothing makes sense. And now he was in Ruby’s apartment, 6th
Nothing is casual that ﬁrst me. Photographs ﬂoor walkup on Jones St. The late a er-
of family, friends, past lovers li er the apart- noon hours slipped into evening and eve-
ment. All unfamiliar faces and places. Books ning slipped into night. They watched the
you may have read, never read, would nev- news on TV in her bedroom. They listened
er read, stuﬀed onto bookshelves. Her cat. to the rain slash against the window. They
Furniture you never considered necessary watched water boil on the stove. She held
for your own existence. This was the home his hand. She was wearing his t-shirt. Most
of an adult, a woman with a job, a tax-payer. of all they watched each other.
He felt like a foreigner, a tourist just visi ng,
an imposter on vaca on from his own life. At some point the phone rang and she
went and answered it, took it into the bed-
Which un l now was just a series of room. Again, Charlie was the trespasser, a
shared beds, ma resses, and couches. voyeur staring into the private life of some-
one he knew very li le about. The call clear-
There was Camille. Pre y, tall, blonde. ly upset her.
Railroad apartment, bathtub in the kitchen.
Charlie looked at Ruby not expec ng an
Liv, Ukrainian under age beauty, who let explana on. He was a trespasser.
him stay at her parent’s apartment over a
movie theater, while they worked the night “Some guy I know. Knew”, she faltered.
shi s at the hospital. Her older brother How could Charlie be jealous; he hard-
(sorry never did get his name) paid him a ly knew her. Had no rights, no claims. Yet
visit one day. Did he know she was ﬁ een? the fact that it upset him was another bad
and threatened to hang Charlie out the omen for him. A sign poin ng in the direc-
on of another tangled and transient rela-
Kathleen, Kate, Kat, a Julliard student onship that had a ﬁnite beginning and end.
with a foul temper, allowed him to sleep on She sensed this his bruised ego. “Well his
her couch a er throwing an Ibsen play at father’s a famous criminal lawyer. I mean,
him and hi ng Charlie in the eye. Sympa- big deal right, who cares. I never heard of
thy for the devil. him un l Shane told me who he was”.
And then, sweet Julie, med student, let “Shane”? Ah, now we’re ge ng some-
him live in her dorm room un l her boy- where.
friend showed up with a bag of heroin, a
jock from Boston College. “The guy who just called”, she looked
across the room at him, “it’s over. Charlie, it’s
And on it went. over. Been over for a long me”.
But somehow, this immediately all felt ‘The lady doth protest too much, methinks’,
diﬀerent. Something had changed. This thought Charlie.
Adelaide Literary Magazine
* “Not if I was dead I couldn’t”.
They watched Casablanca in Ruby’s bed. Bo- Ruby leaned into him, swept his hair back
gart listens to Ingrid Bergman’s explana on out of his eyes and kissed him lightly on the
why she le him at the train sta on in Paris. lips.
They make plans to leave together. But in
the end Bogy won’t do it. The balance of “Good night Charlie Fair”.
the free world winning out over true love.
Ruby, tears in her eyes, turned the TV oﬀ. “Ruby?”, but she was already asleep.
“Rick had to give the le ers of transit to
Laszlo so he could carry on with the Resis- *
tance”, Charlie explained, “Rick hated the
Nazi’s even more than he loved Ilse”. By the following Christmas, what had exited
them about each other and brought them
Ruby, pulled Charlie toward her, and together morphed into rou ne, rou ne
kissed him with more passion than he’d into familiarity, familiarity into complacency,
ever been kissed before. But then pushed complacency into boredom. He knew trou-
him away from her. ble was lurking in the wings ready to take
its bows when the curtain went up. And the
“Got to get up early. Work”. curtain was deﬁnitely going up quickly.
With just the light from the street throw- There were more phone calls, calls at all
ing irregular shadows over the room, Char- hours, from Shane, and others. Ghosts ap-
lie slipped out of his clothes and back into peared and emerged, danced their dance of
bed. He could feel her warmth, her body, jealousy and uncertainty through the shad-
though she was a foot away on the other ows. And in a way it was a convenient cov-
side of the bed. She turned to him and said er for Charlie’s insecuri es while fueling his
so ly, “Charlie?” need to place blame. Ambi on can strangle,
and the choke hold on Charlie was slowly
“Yeah?” ea ng at him and pushing him away. He felt
crea vely impotent. A prisoner of his own
“Christ what if you’re some kind of crazy making. He was broke, living from hand to
person?” mouth, and his days and nights with Ruby
began to feel like a noose slowly ghtening
“I am a crazy person”. around his neck. He considered the fact that
he was a burden to her, a rock around her
“No really”, she yawned while dreamily neck. He wondered if it was obvious to Ruby,
looking into him. but clearly, he felt the air thinning, the wa-
ters deepening, his ability to tread water di-
“What did you have in mind exactly?” Char- minishing. Their aﬀair had blinded him, giv-
lie asked en him false hope that he could morph into
someone else, someone who could be sa s-
“You know, like a serial killer”. ﬁed with a diﬀerent life, her life. When she
went oﬀ to work, he began looking through
“Or a cat burglar like Cary Grant”, Charlie her things, things that she collected, a life-
oﬀered her a more pleasant criminal proﬁle
me of things. He felt himself resen ng her
“No really, just think about it. I don’t even for having a past life without him. Shelves
know you. You might be an escaped psychiat- and bookcases full of things. Cupboards full
ric pa ent”. Ruby turned and stared into his
eyes. “Well then you could call your friend’s
Revista Literária Adelaide
of things. Closets full of things. None of them Charlie read and then re-read it, ﬁrst at
his, none of them holding any meaning for the table, and then moved to the bed. The
him beyond the simple knowledge that Ruby bed where they had shared so much hap-
had touched them all and they had touched piness and laughter and love. The cat fol-
her. He was surrounded by her past. And he lowed him onto the bed. He read it again.
knew then, as he had always known, that Ruby let him know in no uncertain terms
this life, this legi mate, sani zed life, could that she needed to move on. He needed
never be enough for him. And more impor- to move on. They both did. He needed to
tantly, he would never be enough for her. leave. She loved him. And she knew he
Charlie was just a few frayed pages torn from loved her. Shane had come back into her
a chapter in her life, and he knew it. life. And could Charlie please feed the cat
before he le .
She had once again out-smarted him,
The grey and bleak days crept through the beat him to the punch. Or did she just think
winter months, and eventually gave way with his crea ve impotence and inability
to a more gentle and milder air saturated to make a decision, he’d never act on what
with colorful hues. On a picture-perfect they both knew was inevitable. But there it
May morning, a er Ruby had le for work, was, in black and white. At least he didn’t
Charlie sat with his blank notebook in front have to write the le er.
of him, trying to compose a le er to Ruby,
his duﬄe bag ﬁlled with his belongings next He grabbed his jacket, took one last look
to him on the ﬂoor. He’d explain why he around the apartment, the photographs,
le her, why he had to leave her, and she’d the books, the bamboo shade. He wasn’t
understand. Her one-eyed cat Sally was upset. Maybe he was relieved. He had le it
sprawled as usual on the table, listening to to Ruby to do the dirty work. Charlie fed the
the birds singing through the street noise cat, gave him a pat on his head, and then
rising to the six-story walk-up. Then the cat walked out the door and for the last me,
got up and jumped oﬀ the table, and he meandered down the six ﬂights of stairs
saw the note. back on to Jones Street.
About the Author:
Writer, recording and performing ar st, Andrew Chinich has
wri en stories, ﬁc on, non-ﬁc on, poems, and screenplays,
pre y much all his life. “Jones Street” is set against the back-
drop of 1970’s New York City.
THAT GIRL, SHE
SLEEPS IN THE CLOSET
by Jessica Milam
Joanna tore open the evic on no ce taped child support. And moving in with people
to the front door of their apartment, caught you don’t even know is stupid, dangerous,”
her breath, then promised Noah they’d be she warned. But she didn’t oﬀer her a place
ﬁne. He pretended to believe her. Making to stay.
his mom feel be er for failing him had be-
come a habit. *
We’ll share a room, she said. It’s a large “I typically run a background check on our
space, in a beau ful home with a big back- housemates. However, I’m not worried at
yard. There’s a trampoline and a swing set. all about you,” Mike said, dressed in his
A li le girl lives there, though she’s a couple army uniform. He clanked a spoon against
of years younger. Best of all, the house is his coﬀee cup on the kitchen island. “I’m fa-
right across the street from SeaWorld. “So miliar with the extensive screening the Tex-
we can go everyday, Mama?” Noah asked. as Department of Correc ons runs for you
to work as a prison counselor, and you’ve
“Already bought season passes,” she told got an honest face.”
“I’m more than happy to give you my info
A young Mexican couple handed over if you want,” Joanna said, pulling her wallet
$300 for their furniture and hauled it away from her purse.
in a ‘90’s pickup truck. Most of Noah’s toys
got donated to Goodwill. The boy didn’t cry. He smiled. “Don’t worry about a depos-
He s ll had his books and Playsta on. Now it. Rent’s $600 per month. All bills included.
that they’d be living in a house, Joanna The elementary school’s one of the best in
would take him outside to shoot baskets in San Antonio.”
the driveway and to swim in the neighbor-
hood pool. Mike and Jillian looked to be in their
mid-twen es, both blonde and blue-eyed,
“You never should have moved into a with complexions light as the coﬀee cream-
place you couldn’t aﬀord on your sala- er in the glass on the counter. Their li le
ry,” her mom said on the phone. “I always girl sported a buzz cut and Spurs t-shirt.
knew Joshua would ﬁnd a way to bail on She stared at Joanna with wide and curious
Revista Literária Adelaide
eyes, diges ng her colors: lemon sundress, to pay for a child he didn’t ask for. Your ac-
wild chocolate hair, toﬀee skin, bubble-gum commoda ng nature was always your most
sandals. a rac ve quality. I demand you stop taking
my money, immediately,” he’d wri en.
“What grade will Noah be going into?”
Jillian asked, grinning down at the boy. Twelve-hundred dollars a month, he’d
paid for this kid, for eight goddamn years.
“Third.” Money taken out of his check without his
fucking consent. So he le his job as a cor-
“Angel will be thrilled to have him here,” porate legal assistant and started an on-
she said. “The girl’s ny, I know, but she’s line business helping people plan for their
actually star ng ﬁrst grade this fall.” deaths. For a low monthly membership
fee, he oﬀered customers complete will,
“She looks just like you,” Joanna said. estate, and funeral planning, along with a
musical playlist, goodbye le ers, a virtual
“Everyone says that, though Angel wishes scrapbook, and edi ng of personal videos
she were a boy,” she laughed. “Kind of fun- for their big event.
ny, this genera on of kids, ey? Angel wears
her hair like a boy’s and your son wears His business had just started to catch on
those gorgeous curls to his shoulders. Free when the Texas A orney General’s oﬃce
expression, it’s a lovely thing.” Jillian sipped ripped oﬀ that income, too. The rat bas-
from her water bo le. “Angel’s real mum tards levied his bank accounts and gave Jo-
got on drugs, abandoned her and Mike anna just about his last goddamn dime. So
while he was sta oned in London, where Joshua transferred mygreates uneralde-
he met me. I’m actually her stepmum. Let sires.com to his brother Freddy’s name and
me show you the house.” ﬂew oﬀ the grid.
Jillian led Joanna and Noah up the stairs. A life in Mexico isn’t what he’d planned.
“The lovely older lady in the room next to But it’s not half- bad. He’s got a li le place
yours works at SeaWorld. Name’s Kathy. near the ocean and a motorcycle. His live-
What will you do with Noah while you work in girlfriend’s young and she gardens and
this summer?” cooks. Doesn’t hurt that she has a ny ass
and huge ts. He plays guitar on the front
“Oh, I’m planning to take him to the Y,” Jo- porch, works construc on projects, and his
anna said. brother Freddy sends him cash cards for the
money he earns from the death website.
“I’ll look a er him for free. I’m here all day
anyway, and some mes I watch other kids.” “We’re going to get my son, Maria. How
do you feel about being a mother?” He
“Excuse, me,” Noah whispered, tapping stroked her hair as she sat in his lap. Her
Jillian’s wrist. “Where’s Angel’s room?” eyes were the color of the dark chocolate
cocoa his mother used to make from scratch.
“Fair ques on, young man. Actually, she
sleeps in our closet.” “I want to, Papi. You know that. But what
about his mama’? She’s raised him all this
me.” She massaged his shoulder. “You’ve
Joshua sent Joanna an email a month be- never even met this boy.”
fore he le for God-Knows-Where, ﬁguring
four weeks was a reasonable deadline for
her response. “A man should not be forced
Adelaide Literary Magazine
“Joanna can’t provide him with the in- even though Jo told her it was intended to
tellectual enrichment of which I’m capable. be a peaceful gree ng, not a war chant.
And she was a promiscuous, reckless, pot-
head drunk when I met her.” Angel and Noah pretended the ﬁre-
works from Sea World were bombs burst-
“If she’s so bad, why do you just now try ing overhead that Fourth of July. Angel said
to get him?” they were being a acked by aliens from
outer space and accused Noah of being one
“I wasn’t ready, then. And babies, li le of the enemy, an extraterrestrial in disguise.
kids, they’re so hard. Eight years is the best She chased him around the backyard with
age for a boy. I can teach him to play gui- a plas c sword, wearing her ninja costume
tar, school him myself, teach him Spanish. and vowing to defeat him. He called her his
I bet Joanna doesn’t even work, which is li le brother because she asked him to.
why she took my money. She was always
switching jobs and moving, like some fuck- His mom complimented Mike on the bris-
ing hippy.” ket and told Jillian her potato salad was “to
die for.” Jillian said something about trying her
He leaned over and rested his head on best to get into the whole Independence Day
Maria’s massive chest. thing, but that she “just couldn’t bring myself
to do that bloody American ﬂag cake, Jo.”
“But what are you going to do, Mijo? You
said you probably have warrants for your Joanna’s sundress had all of the colors
arrest for the child support by now. You of a pack of Starburst candy, and Noah re-
can’t go back into the states.” members the beads of sweat she wiped
from her brow, and how she had to peel her
“Do you love me?” he asked. skirt from the plas c lawn chair to get up to
make a drink.
“Yes,” she said, with a sigh.
He can s ll taste the bi erness that rose
“Then please, trust me, and when I get up from his throat when Angel put her arms
my boy back, don’t ask how I did it.” around his mom’s waist and said, “I love you,
Jo-Jo,” and his mom replied, “I love you, too.”
* He wanted to shout, she’s my mom, not yours.
He wanted to yell at her to just go away.
Noah’s school vaca on began with the
promise of everything an eight-year old “Can we go watch the ﬁreworks from the
boy’s summer should be: Swimming pools front yard? Please?” he asked. “We can see
and waterslides, sweet tea and watermel- be er from there, and all the neighbors are
on. Kayaking the Frio and hiking in the hill out.” Jo walked the kids around the house,
country with his mom. Catching ﬁreﬂies in then remembered she’d forgo en her drink.
mason jars with Angel. Noah didn’t care
much for girls, but Angel was more like the “I’ll be right back,” she said.
li le brother he’d always wanted.
Noah remembers the smell of the vodka,
Jo taught the kids yoga in the backyard on the hundreds of ny shards of glass lying on
Saturday mornings. “Knowing how to relax, the sidewalk when that drink slipped from
connect your mind and body, control your her hands, a er he screamed from top of
thoughts, will make you more powerful than his lungs: she’s gone, Mama. Somebody
any superhero,”she told them. “Namaste!” took Angel.
Angel loved to shout at the top of her lungs,
Revista Literária Adelaide
* “Well, it’s a huge closet. She likes to pre-
tend she’s sleeping in army barracks like her
It was easy, so easy, taking the boy. Fred- dad,” Jillian says.
dy saw him dressed up in that ninja ou it,
hugging his mom. Jo always was hot, for “And it frees up your other two bedrooms
the ﬂat-chested hippy type, and she hasn’t so you can make money ren ng them out to
changed a bit. Everyone was watching the strangers. Tell me, how much do you know
ﬁreworks when she went inside and le about your roommates?” he asks.
the kids alone. Joshua won’t be surprised
to know she’s s ll an irresponsible bitch. All “I looked into them both,” Mike says.
Freddy had to do was put his hand over the “Kathy’s ﬁne. Jo had one DUI a few years ago,
boy’s mouth and run. Had him shot up with but nothing major. She works in a prison,
tranquilizer and bound and gagged in the though, counseling dudes set for release.
van before anyone even no ced. “He’s a Maybe you should look into her contacts,
ny li le fucker for his age,” he tells Joshua
from his disposable phone. *
“Stupid bitch probably didn’t feed him,” “Did you see anything at all?” the oﬃcer asks
Joshua says. “Good thing he’ll have Maria Jo.
“God, no,” she sobs. “Didn’t see a damn
“We’ll be there in seven hours,” Freddy thing. Turned my back, and that’s why this
* “This happened because a horrible per-
son decided to do an awful thing.” he says.
“What did you see?” the oﬃcer asks Noah. “So you work in a prison? Do you think one
of your clients could have…”
“A man and white van, parked across the
street. He drove oﬀ real fast!” “I don’t think so. I don’t give out person-
al informa on, and I s ll haven’t changed
“What did this man look like?” my address from my apartment. No one
knows I live here with a li le girl.”
“He was tall, grey hair, strong, fast.”
“What about this van? Did you no ce the
license plate number?” “Please understand, it’s not that I blame
you. I wasn’t watching them either. I love
“I tried to look, but I couldn’t see, he you and sweet Noah. But you’re going to
drove away too fast!” Noah said. have to ﬁnd another place to stay,” Jillian
says. “Mike’s heart’s been torn in two. He
* just can’t bare to look at you.”
“What about the girl’s mother?” the oﬃcer “Are you s ll drinking, Jo?” her mom asked
asks Mike and Jillian. on the phone.
“I don’t think she cares enough to try “Yes, but not excessively, not…”
to take Angel,” Mike says. “Besides, last I
heard, she’s s ll in the UK.” “Then no, Hon, you can’t stay here. Be-
sides, your drama is nonstop, no ma er
“S ll, we can’t exclude any possibili es,”
the oﬃcer says.. “The boy tells me the girl
sleeps in the closet?”
Adelaide Literary Magazine
where you are. I can’t take it now, not with Please, it will be okay. Just promise me no
my blood pressure....” one hurts the ninita. It’s not her fault. We’ll
ﬁgure out how to get your son here, together.”
It’ll be okay, she tells Noah, but this me
he doesn’t even pretend to believe her. *
* There’s a cheap apartment complex by
the prison an hour outside of San Anto-
“You stupid, dumb-ass, retarded fuckup!!”- nio, where a few of the counselors and
Joshua’s screaming ra les the small house several oﬃcers live. Jo hates small towns
like wind from a tropical storm. Maria and the idea of living so close to work, but
clutches the shaking girl. it’s all she can aﬀord. She buys a couple of
ma resses in a box and a ﬂatscreen from
“She looked just like a boy! Dressed like Walmart, and she and Noah se le in as well
a ninja. Hugging Joanna like she was her as they can. Angel’s face is on every news
mom,” Freddy says. sta on, all over the internet. When they try
to sleep, she’s in their dreams. Jo drinks at
Joshua’s chest heaves up and down and night to assuage the recurring ache of guilt
sweat pours down his face. Angel thinks he that creeps up every me she thinks: thank
looks like he’s going to explode. Maybe if God it wasn’t Noah.
she concentrates real hard, she can make
that happen, or set him on ﬁre with her And it doesn’t make any sense, not at
mind like the girl in that scary movie she all, but she’s had this crazy thought that
saw on TV.. maybe Joshua could have something to do
with this. She knows it’s not logical because
“A white girl. A fucking blonde- haired, he’s really a mid man, mousy for his large
blue-eyed, white li le girl. Everyone in the stature, and she’s never known him to be in
en re world is going to be all over this, all the least bit aggressive. And why on Earth
over us.” would he take the wrong kid, anyway?
“I was careful, brother, I switched cars, When Joanna told Joshua she was preg-
didn’t leave a trace…” nant, he’d replied, “You knew I didn’t want
a child. I’ll have nothing to do with this, or
“Careful? You call this fucking careful?” you. Never contact me again, do you un-
derstand?” His words didn’t disturb her as
Joshua’s palm s ngs like a thousand much as the expression in his grey eyes:
needles when it collides with Maria’s cheek. they reminded her of an isolated parcel of
He rips the cell phone from her grasp. ﬂat-dirt land where nothing lives, nothing
“Don’t even think about calling the po-
lice. You will not betray me! Ruin MY life!! He’d a racted her by his intellect and
I’m a good man. I do NOT deserve to go to unconven onal thinking at ﬁrst. She’d kept
jail!” He sobs. “I worked my ass oﬀ for years, him around for far too long, replying to his
paid my taxes, stood by while some dumb “Baby, I miss you” texts, the “I need to see
bitch took my money. I tried to do the right you” texts, and the “Sorry it’s been so long”
thing, get my son here and raise him, be a texts, sent when he was between girlfriends.
good dad!” She had somehow believed his valida on
Maria put her arms around his neck. “I’m
so sorry, Papi. I love you so. You are a good
man.” She kisses his face. “I just got scared.