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 Volume #6                       June 1st, 1999                    Issue #2
 Established January, 1994                      

                                             CONTENTS FOR VOLUME 6, ISSUE 2

     Editor's Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Amy Krobot
     Under Ledge  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Largo
     Catfishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Michael Fitzgerald
     Coffee Bean Philosophy, Too  . . . . . . . Frank S. Palmisano, III
     A Good Name  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Lisa Klassen
     Advantages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maryann Hazen

     When All Is Said . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Largo
     Big Jim, the Mormon, and Hitler's Grandson . .  Quincey Burkhalter
     About the Authors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Authors
     In Their Own Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Authors


 Editor                               +                       Poetry Editor
 Robert Fulkerson              The Morpo Staff         Kris Kalil Fulkerson                      +           

 Submissions Editor                                          Fiction Editor 
 Amy Krobot                                                     J.D. Rummel                                   


 _The Morpo Review_.  Volume 6, Issue 2.  _The Morpo Review_ is published
 electronically on a quarterly basis.  Reproduction of this magazine is
 permitted as long as the magazine is not sold and the entire text of the
 issue remains intact.  Copyright 1999, The Morpo Review.  _The Morpo
 Review_ is published in ASCII and World Wide Web formats.

 All literary and artistic works are Copyright 1998 by their respective
 authors and artists.


                               Editor's Notes
                                 Amy Krobot
                             Submissions Editor
   I feel like a cheat every time I admit that walking is my sport of
   choice. I get a "workout" doing the very activity that also gets me to
   places like Krispy Kreme, my living room couch, and bed. Three to five
   times a week, I just put my feet one in front of the other for at
   least 45 minutes without stopping, and, because of a vigorous swinging
   of arms, I get to call it exercise. It seems cheap . . . ineffective .
   . . impossible! But in truth, it works like a charm.
   Even more exciting than the fact that this simple activity controls
   weight while taking little toll on wallet or knees, is the fact that
   walking as I do it - regularly and in the same neighborhood - delivers
   a greater sense of membership than any expensive gym card every could.
   I walk in a small neighborhood near central Omaha - a little pocket of
   quiet and big hills and huge old trees. It's a place my fiancé and I
   will at least look for a home someday, but for now, I'm happy to drive
   there, park, stretch, and go.
   As an outdoor walker, the one on the move in a stationary
   neighborhood, it was easy to feel transitory at first. When I started
   my walks in old Ralston, one house blurred into another and another as
   I enjoyed the scenery and fresh air. Once my walk was over, I simply
   extracted myself from the setting and went home with a "thanks for the
   use of your hills."
   But of course, it wasn't long before I started to notice things. Who
   cares for their home and who doesn't. Who cares for their kids and who
   doesn't. Who has a new truck, a new mower, or no desire to cook
   (there's always a pizza delivery car idling in someone's driveway
   along my route). There's a father who plays catch with his young
   daughter nearly every night. She has an erratic arm, and every time
   her throw misses him and ricochets off the house he yells from across
   the yard, "Do I LOOK like I'm standing in the living room??" There's a
   little arthritic, visually impaired dog who hears me coming and never
   fails to snarl and "chase" me down the street in a rather
   non-threatening, wandering figure-eight pattern (I always tells him
   that he scares me, though, because I really admire his effort).
   There's what I call the "Bob Villa house" . . . something's always
   being ripped apart and renovated. This year their backyard has been
   dumped in their front yard as they prepare for what looks to be a new
   deck and pool. And of course there are the practicers . . . piano,
   voice, drums, twirling, and flute . . . every night until someone
   yells "Dinner!".
   And in an unexpected twist, I have not been the only one becoming
   aware of - and attached to - my "workout neighborhood." They - the
   permanent residents - have become attached to me as well, it seems. It
   took awhile for it to happen, but I have become a neighbor in this
   community, even though all its residents ever see me do is walk
   through it. At first, I was greeted by those who were outdoors,
   working in their gardens or on their cars. Now, people wave at me from
   their kitchen tables and their recliners. A little girl once yelled,
   "Hey Mom, it's the walking lady!" People stop mowers and move
   sprinklers for me. They ask my advice. To date, I've been questioned
   about my opinions on the new color a house was being painted, the
   placement of a tree that was being planted, and the weather ("What do
   YOU think . . . are we gonna get rain like they're sayin'?"). I
   receive kind offers - one woman tries to give me cucumbers and
   tomatoes from her overgrown garden; an older gentleman always tells me
   that I should feel free to drink from the spigot on the side of his
   house whenever I'm walking on a really hot day - and I have been
   called upon to mediate fights. One mother turned to me rather
   frantically one evening, and said, pointing to her son, "YOU tell him
   how important it is that he wear a damn helmet when he rides that damn
   bicycle!" And just recently, a couple piled out of a car in their
   driveway with her shouting, "Because it's a pain in my ass, that's
   why!" Seeing me, they stopped arguing for a second, and then the woman
   reiterated while gesturing toward me, "IT-IS-A-PAIN-IN-MY-ASS, and
   she'd agree with me!" I have no idea what they were fighting about,
   but in that moment, I was the familiar face she needed on her side.
   Of all the benefits I've gleaned from my walking, this "membership" is
   by far the most prized. Without evening living there, I've become part
   of a community I've always loved . . . just by walking around in it.
   To the residents of old Ralston, my "home" is the patch of sidewalk in
   front of each of theirs. I may only pass by, but I do it often.
   Last weekend, I was striding along, when a couple of kids yelled,
   "Hey, can you come over and play?" I was home.

   Under Ledge
   by Michael Largo

   Dogs have been tied to a post
   by six strands of chain.
   They were bought as watch dogs 5
   years ago
   but now they are like invalids
   that will not die.
   When they catch a patch of
   sun they will sit upright,
   ears back like dazed children
   It is not known who feeds them.
   A bone wrapped in dirt lies
   near a dog curled close to cinder blocks.
   There are cut barrels they sleep in
   during snow.
   No footprints though.
   Nothing going in or
   by Frank S. Palmisano III

   Her grandfather allowed Sara to open the truck window so that she
   could rest her arm on the door and let her hand jerk up and down in
   the rushing air. Occasionally she stuck her head out for a few seconds
   until her eyes watered. When she pulled her head back in, he kidded
   her about being sad because a boyfriend had gone off to war or maybe
   the moon.
   When they got to Watkins Glenn, he pulled into a gas station. He
   bought himself a twelve pack. He bought Sara a bottle of grape soda
   which she made last for three or four hours by sticking a fishing hook
   in the top and sucking it drop by drop from the pierced cap.
   Eventually, they arrived at the deserted boat landing down past the
   Speedway. Sometimes when they came here, they could hear the dim roar
   of racecars and the crowd going nuts. Sara would imagine that these
   people were cheering for her to catch fish. But today there were no
   races and the absence of noise made her feel like they were
   A cool, moist air covered the still lake. In the short walk from the
   truck to the dock, the temperature the dropped 10 or 15 degrees. He
   made her put on his sweatshirt. It was warm like a towel just from the
   dryer, but reeked of paint thinner and the sleeves hung past her
   hands. Her whole body tingled from the colliding temperatures. The sun
   in her face. The chilly lake-air slipping under the sweatshirt, around
   her knees. The splintery, hot planks of the dock.
   At first, they just caught little pan fish--bluegills, sunnies, what
   have you- but toward the end of the day she caught a huge catfish.
   Almost two feet long. And fat, like a football. And ugly, an outer
   space ugly, a grisly awkward thing.
   She cried. Get it away. Please get it off. She begged him to throw it
   back. Promise we don't have to eat it.
   He promised they wouldn't have to eat it, but didn't throw it back. He
   batted its head with the Billy club, emptied the four remaining beers
   from the cooler and threw it in. For the following hour or so, the
   cooler emitted and occasional thump-thump.
   Around 3:30, a few cumulus clouds began to inch in front of the sun,
   and he decided they should get going.
   Her pole broke when he tossed it in the back of the truck. He said
   that it was about time they got her a new one anyway if she were going
   to keep pulling in such trophies. This seemed reasonable to Sara. It
   seemed like a good thing he broke her pole.
   They had been up since dawn so she slept most of the way home. The
   sunburn and warm air from the truck and the lush earthy scent of a day
   at the lake left her in a black-out slumber.
   Casa de Grampa, he said as he nestled the truck into the driveway.
   She pulled her face from the hot black vinyl. She wiped the drool from
   her chin. She was unsure for a few seconds if the day had happened.
   She sat and gazed around, taking in the world. The algae climbing over
   the edge of the bird bath. The half-painted garage door. Grandpa
   tucking the empty beer cans into his canvas bag. The heat sneaking off
   the pitch-covered driveway in snaky little wisps.
   Then her grandmother was at the truck. She pulled Sara's hair from her
   face. She bemoaned the fact that her little honey was so dirty and
   sunburned. The girl's mouth was still purple from the soda, and she
   smelled like fish. A grayish slime covered her hands and fingers.
   Oh my little baby. What has he done to you? Who got you so dirty?
   She caught a whopper, he said. Bigger than that fucking mutant I
   caught in April. She pulled it in all by herself.
   Sara blushed. But her head was beginning to hurt from the sun and the
   stink. Her grandmother could feel the little girl's sticky
   Go in and shower, honey. I'll take care of your grandpa.
   After the shower, she put her sundress on, and sandals. She felt
   pretty and grown-up and presentable as she stood, looking at herself
   in the mirror. And the catfish seemed a universe away until he came
   around the corner with it.
   Sara, open up, he begged as he stumbled around after her. Dinner Sara.
   Yum! Yum!
   She could feel her insides shake from the shrills coming out. He
   wasn't looking in her eyes while he laughed. He looked at the top of
   her head or at her little feet. He was ashamed, but , in his
   drunkenness, having a fairly good time.
   Yummy! Fish Sara. A yummy catfish fish. Meow. Meow.
   Blood and fish spew splattered around the room. The cold drops hit her
   face and arms, sending terrifying wet stings through her body. Finally
   she wedged herself between the arm of the sofa and the wall. She
   pulled herself into a ball. He dangled the fish over her head, letting
   it drip into her just-cleaned hair. Yummy, Sara. Catfish. Yum! Yum!
   Sara was screaming uncontrollable, nearly hyperventilating when her
   grandmother came in and shooed him away. She's only a little girl
   George. Leave her alone. You monster. And she looked at Sara. Honey,
   I'm so sorry. Are you OK? Grandpa didn't mean anything. Grandpa isn't
   well. I'm so sorry.
   It was a joke. Just a joke. Can't we have a little fun around here.
   Then her unwell grandpa shuffled out onto the porch and fed the
   catfish to their dog, Charlotte, who dragged the carcass into the
   garage and wrestled with it for the rest of the day.
   Later, he apologized. He said sometimes grandpa does bad things. He
   forgets who he loves. He shouldn't drink. Grandpa shouldn't drink.
   He's so sorry. He loves you very much.
   I never meant to scare you, honey.
   He was such a bigger person to her from that point on. So much more to
   him in such a wild mysterious way. She never let herself be alone with
   him again, but his name, or even the thoughts of him, lifted her. She
   hoped that she'd once be a monster, be unwell, be courageous enough to
   act on the honest, overwhelming rush, that guttural spasm that tells
   you to scare little girls, tell operators to fuck off, speak dirty in
   confessionals, on second dates. On top of the drinking, he ended up
   losing what little mind he had and then dying after a slip on the
   early November ice when she was fifteen. At that age everything was a
   pain in the ass. She huffed and whined about having to attend the
   funeral, despite having liked him more than everyone other than the
   rough man she's with now. The way he walks out of the house at night,
   it's like a conductor deserting his orchestra.

   Coffee Bean Philosophy, Too
   by Frank S. Palmisano III
   I listen to ambition resonate
   through the hallowed halls of
   trendy bookstore coffee shops,
   where its source, confined behind
   a fortified counter, makes game
   of the presidential scandal erupting
   in Washington.
   The probationary arrangement,
   calls forth an amusing discourse -
   coffee flavors, cakes and pies
   with misleading titles, serves the
   imagination more than the palate.
   They converse on facts, and
   create them when necessary
   And each new patron symbolizes
   inconvenience, a disfigured
   gremlin that interrupts their
   microcosmic world.
   When he asks for service, they grope
   with facial contortions, and language
   distortions they serve up the flavor
   of the day, insisting that the taste is
   unique. "Mud flavored with a hint
   of cedar wood," I think.
   Their valediction is ingratitude.
   Their comments - pitiless.
   A premeditated retort emerges
   through their stale teeth, stained
   with beaned delight,
   from a land where
   indigent farmers scour
   the crops for survival,
   suspending their
   judgment in patience.

   A Good Name
   by Lisa Klassen

   The warm, reddish sunlight of late afternoon thrusts through the
   windows and pools on the immaculate, stone tiled floor. It is a marked
   contrast to the cool blue tones, the gleaming steel and the faint odor
   of antiseptic that hangs in the kitchen. The woman paces back and
   forth through the puddle of sunlight, an agitated look in her eyes.
   She stops, leaning against the counter, and taps manicured nails on
   the marble surface while she thinks. The prettiness she possessed in
   her youth has been replaced by the well-groomed look of a spoiled pet.
   Her hair is masterfully cut in the latest style; her flawless makeup
   masks the heavy frown lines forming in the corners of her mouth. Her
   expensive clothes are perfectly tailored to hide the places on her
   body where fat is starting to intrude. She pushes herself off the
   counter, and throws open a cupboard opposite her. There are a few
   dusty bottles of wine inside, nothing else. A bitter laugh escapes her
   reddened lips. She rolls swearwords silently over her tongue, afraid
   her husband may overhear. He does not approve of women swearing, he
   says it is unladylike. She is having a dilemma. Over the past year
   they have spent every second and fourth weekend in this damned place,
   and this is a first. They have no food. Hours spent running all over
   town for the gourmet goodies she would need to feed her picky husband,
   all in vain. The two bags of groceries are probably still sitting in
   their garage, the pate spoiling and the hand made ice cream melting.
   Before they left the city, her husband had grunted assent when asked
   if the groceries were in the trunk. He wasn't paying attention to her,
   as usual. Now she doesn't know what to do. Her husband demands that
   the household is a smoothly run one, and this would not go over well.
   Though this mess is entirely his fault, she can hardly lay the blame
   on his shoulders. Not out loud, anyway. The verbal blows and stabs
   that would befall her don't make it worthwhile to say anything. He
   doesn't like to hear about mistakes he has made. She wallows in
   helpless anger for a time, before settling on a scapegoat. The kitchen
   staff should have noticed the bags of groceries, those lazy slackers.
   They're probably stuffing themselves full of her food and wine right
   now. Well, actually her husbands' food and wine. Anyway, she will put
   an end to their merriment very quickly. She considers phoning home,
   then decides to save this small pleasure until she can do it in
   person. An ugly grin smears itself across her face as she savors the
   only power she possesses, the power to punish her staff. She relishes
   the chance to berate the help for the feeling of control it affords
   her, and keeps a sharp eye peeled for any mistakes. If her husband
   takes out a particularly bad mood on her, she makes up something to
   yell at them for. When they were first married, she just couldn't
   rebuke the staff, no matter how he raged at her. It wasn't in her
   nature. At least, it wasn't until her husband said the employees all
   laughed at her for being so weak. She still remembers how terribly
   hurt and angry she was. She tore furiously into them after that. The
   original help have long since been replaced, so no one except her
   husband remembers what she used to be like. Now the help are more
   afraid of her than of her husband. She often suspects that what he
   told her was a lie, the betrayed looks on their faces when she yelled
   at them that first time haunt her. But she will not give up her petty
   power now, she has become too dependent on it. And this little mishap,
   though hardly the fault of the kitchen staffs, gives her another
   opening. She rehearses what she will say, and whom she will select for
   punishment. She has the feeling she will need this small release after
   the weekend is over. They are paid so well, it should be a job
   requirement to take what she dishes out, or so she tries to tell
   She roots through the pantry in search of salvation, knowing it's in
   vain. They don't keep much of a personal nature at their island home,
   much less food. What keeps for two weeks that her finicky husband
   would actually eat? He is so snobby in everything, including his taste
   in food. Take these twice-monthly visits to this place. Why do they do
   it? Because, according to her husband, wealthy people ALWAYS own a
   country home. Each member of her husband's family have what they call
   "cottages", although they are usually two or three floors, and almost
   as ostentatious as the city abodes. So do all their friends. Where
   would they possibly be in the scheme of things if he didn't own a
   second home in the country? So they bought this extravagantly priced
   "cottage" and use it twice a month. Her husband is excited, because
   this Christmas it is his turn to have his family over. Early every
   December, his family wages battle over whose cottage they would all
   spend the holidays in. This year, he won. Another year with no chance
   of her going home to spend Christmas with her family. She knows they
   don't buy the feeble excuses she serves up each year. There is nothing
   she can do, her husband requires her presence at these family
   gatherings of his. He says the same thing every year when she asks to
   go home for Christmas. He accuses her of trying to make him look bad
   in front of his family, and tells her maybe next year. Every year she
   hopes it is time, but it never is. She sighs, and closes the pantry
   She glances at the refrigerator hopefully. Maybe they left something
   edible last time they were here. She pulls the fridge door open, her
   fingers crossed. Ah, the horn of plenty overflows. Three measly items
   to choose from. There is a container of cream cheese, some kiwis that
   have gone bad, and...a squeeze bottle of French's Mustard? She didn't
   buy this, did she? Her husband would sooner swallow bleach then put
   the cheap yellow liquid on anything. He would be absolutely mortified
   to find such a low class substance in his fridge, so it certainly
   wasn't his purchase. Whole grain mustard, maybe. So how did this get
   here? Still wondering, she walks over to the sink, unscrews the lurid
   yellow top, and begins emptying it into the drain. The tangy aroma of
   mustard wafts up from the sink. The smell brings flashes of younger
   days, and she allows herself to be carried upon the wave of memories.
   She and her friends used to scrape together their allowances to buy
   hotdogs from the street vendors. There was nothing tastier to her when
   she was younger. She would drench her hotdog in mustard, and pile it
   as high as she could with the onions, cheese and hot peppers offered
   as toppings. They would take their hotdogs to the park, sprawling
   lazily in the grass. Hours passed as she lay there, letting the sun
   beat mercilessly against her face while they talked about everything
   and nothing. She wasn't worried about wrinkles, lines or skin cancer
   back then. She would pull off shoes and socks, and clutch the grass
   between her naked toes, crushing it to inhale its sweet fragrance. On
   a day like that she could pretend that September would never come,
   summer would just stretch away endlessly until Christmas. Lying on her
   back, watching the clouds roll by, she had believed that anything was
   possible. Anything. Belief is a sort of magic, transforming whoever is
   lucky enough to possess it. That belief had vanished for her somewhere
   along the way, and she had ended up in a place unimaginable to her
   when she had it. She has tried drugs, alcohol, ski trips in Aspen, and
   hour long massages at her spa. None of it gives her that easy feeling
   of well being she once had. It is beyond her, now, except in memories.
   She breathes in one last whiff of the container. Angry with herself
   for indulging in such a weak, sentimental moment, she hurls the
   container into the garbage. She doesn't want her husband to see it,
   anyway. She has no idea how it got there, but she isn't about to get
   blamed for the mistake. It would irritate him, as other people's
   mistakes always did. And he seemed especially testy on these
   "downsized weekends", as her husband likes to call them. That is part
   of the reason she doesn't like them. To be honest, she downright
   loathes them. He spends most of his time shut in the study with the
   newspapers and the t.v. on, only coming out at meal times. This
   invariably means she tries to pass time by reading a book or wandering
   about the house, bored, trying to be quiet and having nowhere to go if
   he emerges from hiding in a bad mood. They don't know anyone on the
   island and he doesn't allow her to bring the cook, or any of the other
   household help. He says they impair his ability to relax. At home, the
   hired help make the decisions and take the responsibility off her
   shoulders. Out here she is on her own. This means menial tasks fall to
   her, as well as the cooking of meals. God, she just dreads the meals.
   It isn't that she minds cooking, in fact she used to love cooking for
   friends and family, as well as for herself when she was single. She
   comes from a very middle class family, though. Her price range for
   recipes was always limited to the under twenty dollars category. The
   most gourmet dinner she knew how to make was beef stroganoff. So when
   her husband informed her that she would be cooking their meals while
   on the island, she hadn't thought much about it. Figuring that he
   would want something simple for a change, she fell back upon her old
   favorites. That first weekend out here had been absolute hell. Dinner
   is a dangerous time, anyway, since they are forced to be in each
   other's company. Everything she cooked, her husband completely hated,
   and he spared no effort to make her aware of the fact. After meals she
   could hear him stalking about his den, muttering. Since then she has
   made sure to be prepared. She subscribes to every gourmet-cooking
   magazine and raids the finest stores for supplies before these country
   weekends. Mindful that these meals are the weakest point in her
   defense, so to speak, she feels her stomach tense and her breath begin
   to shorten when he picks up his fork for that first bite. Of course,
   if he has had a rough week, he'll start in on her no matter how good
   the food is. There is no winning in these instances. If she says he
   enjoyed the recipe last time she made it, he will say she must have
   screwed it up this time. And how can she argue? Even if she knows he
   likes it, she can't prove it. It's a losing situation, and one that is
   a continual stress to her.
   She slams every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen out of frustration,
   albeit quietly. There really isn't a damn thing to eat in this house.
   Shoulders slumping, she realizes she must go into the town and pick up
   some supplies that her husband will approve of. She has never been in
   town before, although they have been on the island many times. Her
   stomach sinks as she remembers jeering at the local supermarkets' tiny
   size as they drove by from the ferry. Her husband made some local
   yokel joke, and they both laughed. She winces at the thought of going
   there to shop. Her doubts on the stores' contents aside, they will
   know she is a stranger, and a city person besides. She is conscious of
   the looks their brand new truck gets as they drive through the town.
   She has heard the curses hurled after them as her husband drives by a
   hitchhiker in the pouring rain on an island where hitchhiking is the
   public transit. She quails at the thought of walking among them
   without her husband's protective presence, her body laid bare to their
   curious glances. And she is painfully aware that people just don't
   like her anymore. Years of living under her husband's sharp tongue
   have corroded her self-confidence. Anything she says now is echoed
   back inside her head in his mocking tones, making it sound moronic to
   her. This is ruining her social skills. She has a tendency to aim
   suspicious stares at whomever she is speaking with, trying to figure
   out if they are laughing at her. While speaking, she is braced for a
   putdown, giving her voice a defensive, angry whine. Her conversations
   now have a brittle, sharp feel to them. Talking to her is like lightly
   touching broken glass. Press down just a little, and you will walk
   away cut. The other day she screamed at the barista in the café she
   frequents because he asked her if she wanted her latte lowfat,
   surreptitiously peeking at her stomach. Now she is ashamed to go in
   there, and slinks by every time she passes that way. Social contact
   with strangers has become loathsome to her, and she tends to spend
   most of her time inside. She never used to be this way, and it
   frightens her. When she was younger she always had plenty of friends,
   she was very easygoing with people. She has been avoided all
   encounters for weeks, and she is not prepared for one now. She must,
   though. There is no way her husband will go. The way he always scoffs
   at the locals makes her think he might actually be scared of them as
   well. If she asks him to go, he will just be angry, and she will end
   up having to go, anyway. Resigned, she plays with the key rack, trying
   to decide which car to take. She is definitely not taking the Durango.
   The shining newness of the truck bespeaks wealth playacting at being a
   regular joe. She is embarrassed for her husband every time he gets
   into it. The truck just doesn't suit him. She grabs the keys to the
   Mercedes. She has decided to play rich bitch. She puts on her fur
   coat, and girds herself for battle. A feeling of superiority settles
   around her like a well-worn suit of armor. Although this does not work
   with her husband, she generally feels more secure around other people
   when she assumes her high and mighty attitude. May as well try to
   impress people if she has to deal with them. She will use her platinum
   card and nice clothes as weapons. The door swings gently shut behind
   The ordeal is nearly over, and without incident so far. The selection
   wasn't as bad as she had feared, she has her groceries, now she just
   wants to get the hell out of here. Waiting impatiently in the checkout
   line, she taps her fingers against the steel rail, and looks
   disgruntled. There is only one teenage cashier working, and she is
   busy chatting to a customer buying cigarettes. Christ. Some sort of
   gabble about a hockey team, which she has no interest in. She checks
   her watch three times in a row, sighing audibly between each glance.
   This at least gets the cashier's attention, who proceeds to ring her
   groceries through while continuing the conversation with the local
   clodhopper. He eventually wanders off, and the cashier gives her the
   total. Presenting her credit card with a flourish, she watches the
   cashier's face to see if she looks impressed. The cashier (with a hint
   of condensation?) asks her for I.D, as she isn't a "regular". Right.
   This is small town nosiness or small town distrust, one of the two.
   Anyway, just what she had expected. Out to give her a hard time,
   punishment for not being local. She snorts and rolls her eyes, hoping
   the cashier notices. She scrambles to think up some indignant retorts
   as the cashier looks searchingly at her.
   "Hey, are you any relation to the Bergers that live here? Natalie and
   Taken aback, she giggles at this unexpected turn in the conversation.
   Another couple on this tiny island with the same name as her husband?
   He would HAVE to find this amusing. Unexpectedly, she is happy. She
   has a story to break the tension of dinner. Okay, but she must play
   this out in full, so she can have a good tale to tell.
   "Why yes, I am related. John is my husband's brother."
   "I knew it," the cashier bubbles happily. "I didn't think you and
   Natalie were related, you look a fair bit older than she is. She and
   John are a very happy couple, and such good people, don't you think?"
   "Sure," she replies, rather roughly. Just as suddenly as her good mood
   washed over her, it is wiped away. She's highly sensitive about her
   apparent age. Only thirty-four, new acquaintances often mistake her
   for a women in her forties, much to their mutual chagrin. Spending
   life under the kind of stress she lives with will age a person
   immeasurably. To rub salt in her wounds, her husband doesn't look a
   day older than when they were first married. She doesn't like being
   reminded of her vanished looks, especially by some dumb hick. The
   cashier babbles on about the wonderful deeds of the alternate Bergers,
   blissfully unaware of the sudden mood change.
   She wonders when this torture will end. Who are these hicks, anyhow?
   She used to volunteer her time constantly, and no one sung her
   praises. Of course, she hasn't done anything since she married; her
   husband disapproves. He never donates money for any other reason than
   a tax deduction. He thinks all that stuff about the homeless and needy
   is drivel, a scam to get money out of suckers. As far as he's
   concerned, anyone who gets fooled by that bit is soft and weak minded.
   She didn't want to give him a chance to heap that same scorn upon her
   head, so she gave it up. But she misses helping people, she misses it
   terribly. This is when she actually hates her husband. Not for the
   choices he forced her to make, but for the choices she made
   voluntarily, to protect herself. She has given up a career, children
   and various little things, like the chance to do community work, and
   for what? She's miserable. Ugh, why does she even waste energy
   thinking like this? She has made her bed, etc. Now she just has to
   live her life, such that it is, and stop thinking so much. She is
   furious with the cashier for her part in this ordeal, and with the
   stupid Berger's as well. She reaches for her groceries, determined to
   flee, when something the cashier says catches her attention.
   "Of course, if you are picking up these groceries for the Bergers, you
   may as well put it on their tab sheet, instead of ringing up your
   credit card. It would be easier."
   Her eyes flash wickedly at the chance for a little retribution.
   Indirectly these people have been responsible for her misery, and she
   wants them to pay for it. As a bonus, it would be a pleasing ending to
   the story, her husband would heartily approve. She would, of course,
   leave out the age comment.
   "I am picking up some things for them, actually. They must have
   forgotten to tell me to put it on their tab."
   "No problem, ma'am. Say hi to them for me, will you?"
   "I'll make a point of it, don't you worry." She scurries out of the
   store, sniggering to herself. This little piece of revenge has made
   her feel a heap better. The alternate Bergers are no match for her.
   She wonders how she could have let these idiots worry her. Look how
   easy simple it is to fool them. Easy marks, her husband would say. She
   just wishes she could be around next time they check their tab. Maybe
   the cashier would get in trouble too, for authorizing the transaction.
   She throws her ill-gotten gains into the passenger seat of the
   Mercedes, and speeds away.
   She relates her story over the dinner table, but her husband isn't in
   the mood for her excited chatter. He merely looks at her before
   shrugging indifferently and returning attention to his plate of food.
   He gets up and leaves without a word as soon as dinner is finished.
   Her excitement deflates, and lies limp inside her. Damn those pathetic
   goody goodies. Not only did they ruin her afternoon, but they don't
   even make good story material. She vows to go back to the store
   tomorrow and put the most expensive items she can find on their tab.
   Even better, she'll throw it all away as soon as she's out the door.
   Feeling miserable, she kicks a cupboard while walking through the
   kitchen. It flies open, striking her in the leg. She falls, and stays
   sitting on the floor, clutching her leg and weeping tears of
   self-pity. Her watering eyes alight on a flash of red at the back of
   the open cupboard. It is a glass vase full of dried roses, something
   her husband has never given her. The beautiful flowers taunt her, as
   her mind follows the only logical thought to its conclusion. Her
   husband is having an affair, damn him. She feels half as attractive as
   she did thirty seconds ago, which isn't saying much. He may be
   dallying with his mistress here during the week. She grinds the
   fragile flowers beneath her heel, and feels a little better. She has
   been expecting something of the sort for a while, but expecting and
   knowing are two different things. What the hell is she going to do?
   Any women's magazine would tell her to confront him, but she feels
   physically nauseous at the thought. Her head swimming, she isn't sure
   she's strong enough. She wonders what the mistress looks like, how
   young and thin she is. Bitch. She runs her hands over her body. The
   flesh that was once lean feels soft and doughy under her probing
   fingers. She swears she will go to the gym more often, and lose at
   least ten pounds. God, with her body looking like this, it's no wonder
   he has a mistress. Is confronting him about this worth the quiet war
   it would start in her home? After all, how does it really affect her?
   They are not exactly...affectionate. Sex? He hasn't touched her in
   years, and she tells herself no loss. She decides to explore the house
   tomorrow to try to gather more evidence. She is rationalizing, and
   hates herself for it.
   She ascends the stairs to the only place that she loves in this house.
   Her bedroom. She designed it herself, with the help of a decorator.
   It's warm colors, comfy furniture, and beautiful art are a marked
   contrast to the icy blues and stern browns of her husband's bedroom.
   It is always cool in there, even in the middle of summer, and the
   furniture is so heavy, so dark, and so immovable. The room makes her
   uncomfortable. Her bedroom makes her feel safe. It is the room of a
   happy little girl, or a lover's cozy nest. It is entirely hers. He
   never sets foot in this room, and she never thinks about him here,
   unless she hears him. The room softens her, she is a better person
   while she is inside. She often wishes she could bring people here to
   talk, she would get along with them so much easier.
   She kicks off her shoes, and crosses the deep plush carpet in her bare
   feet. She picks a book from out of her bookshelf, and hunkers down in
   front of her dresser. She opens the bottom drawer, searching for a
   comfy nightgown to wear to bed. One catches her eye, particularly soft
   and lacy. She doesn't remember buying it, but her husband paid someone
   to stock the house with everything they would need, so she doesn't
   find this unusual. She wishes he had let her do it, she had wanted to.
   Not just because she was bored, but she found this house such an
   impersonal place to live. She would have liked to breathe a little
   life into it. She draws out the gown, and runs her fingers over it,
   enjoying the feel of the soft fabric. Something crackles under her
   fingers. It is a piece of folded thick paper in one of the pockets.
   She pulls it out. On the outside half there is a drawing of a bed,
   with a naked girl perched on it, knees tucked modestly up under her
   chin, covering her. With a creeping sense of unease, she realizes the
   bed looks exactly like hers. She opens the paper, and reads the words
   printed on the inside.
   "I love you with all my heart, my sweetest girl. When I breathe, I
   smell your hair, when I close my eyes, your image burns there. Your
   voice in my ears is the night cries of sleeping birds. Every night I
   pray we will be together, forever. Your Love."
   The air whooshes out of her in a sharp exhale; she sits on the bed
   with a heavy thump. Her jaw clenches as she crushes the card between
   bunched fists. Enraged, she isn't sure by which fact the most.
   Her husband actually being in love with the little thing, or that they
   have violated her room, the only thing that is still hers, that she
   cares about. Damn him, why in here? He hasn't even seen the inside of
   her room before, why would he bring his mistress in here. Furious
   tears stream down her face and fall into the folds of the nightgown.
   She tears the lacy cloth into pieces, then reads the card again.
   Betrayal by sex she could handle. If he hasn't dallied with some sexy
   young thing before now, it's only because he's been too busy to
   bother. But the passion this card is infused with flays open her
   heart, and delivers a mortal blow to her self-esteem. The only way she
   has managed to keep herself intact all these years, the only comfort
   she had is the knowledge that her husband is incapable of being any
   other way. She has put up with his jibes, knowing he would do the same
   thing to any other woman he was married to. A man of granite, his
   personality so hardened it would dash her to pieces if she challenged
   herself against it. This card proves her wrong. Now to find out that
   it IS her, that another woman is capable of eliciting this kind of
   sweet emotion from him, is a bigger blow than anything he has ever
   said to her. She smoothes out the crumpled card, and reads it again,
   trying to find where she failed in the lovely lines. Her brow wrinkles
   in thought and it hits her. This isn't written by her husband. He has
   absolutely no gift of expression. His sentences fall on the ears like
   a boy dropping rocks off a bridge. Chunk. There is one sentence.
   Thunk. There goes another. The verses in the card are light and
   flowing. And she knows he doesn't draw. This card is sketched with
   great love and a skilled hand. She doubts somehow that her husband has
   the capacity to produce something like this, even when madly in love.
   So he isn't the creator of the card. The cement blocks tied to the
   feet of her selfworth are lifted as unexpectedly as they were put
   there. The inevitable question arose. Whose handiwork was it then? Did
   the mistress have a young lover? Was her doublecrossing husband being
   doublecrossed? All these unanswered question gnaw at her. She hates
   this stupid island. She wants to go home, where at least she has some
   friends to mull this situation over with. Although it may not be worth
   it to tell them, they will probably make fun of her behind her back.
   They are all wives of her husband's friends, and not her first choice
   of people to spend time with. To tell the truth, she wouldn't put it
   past them to already know about the affair, and not to have told her.
   Some friends. She lies down on her bed, exhausted by the rollercoaster
   ride she has been thrust on. Sleep doesn't come easily, though. She
   needs some answers, she needs at least to know if her husband has
   desecrated her room. She has already sullied it with thought of him,
   and her sense of safety here has vanished for now. She stares at the
   ceiling late into the night before finally dropping into an uneasy
   The sound of a car driving away wakes her. Great. This will free her
   to search the house for some answers, and she won't have to face him
   with the question in her eyes. She's left with the difficult task of
   discerning what's amiss in a house decorated by strangers that she
   spends two weekends a month in. She hasn't paid too much attention to
   the rest of the house, anyway. Most of her time is spent in the
   kitchen or her bedroom. The house is too new; full of glass and white
   rooms with little to break the monotony of the walls. The stiff
   furniture is uncomfortable to sit on, and the ceilings are so high
   that it gives the house a chilled feel. She enters room after room,
   certain that something is different, but unable to put her finger on
   what. She stops in front of an object, unsure if it is new, or she
   simply never noticed it before. She thinks she can sense the faint
   echo of another personality, but she has nothing to substantiate it.
   Nothing that would stand up in court, as her husband would say.
   Frustrated, she puts a hold on the search in favor of breakfast.
   She stands at the kitchen counter, watching the coffee water boil. She
   assembles her breakfast of grapefruit and unbuttered toast, the repast
   of suffering dieters everywhere. Seating herself in the breakfast
   nook, she closes her eyes and lets the sunlight play over her face.
   While enjoying the warmth, she lets her mind wander. An unforeseen
   revelation takes her by surprise. She isn't putting herself on a diet
   for her husband's sake, but for her own. In fact, she doesn't care
   what her husband thinks of her looks, or what he has been up to.
   Sometime in the night it ceased to matter.
   "Let him do whatever it is he does," she thinks. "Maybe it will keep
   him out of my hair for awhile!"
   She laughs at how brave she sounds, at least in her head. The
   discovery does wonders, making her stronger in places she desperately
   needs strength. She decides she is even going to tell him to stay out
   of her room, no matter what he says to her. After all, the are just
   words. She is the one who gives them the power to wound, and she isn't
   going to give them that power anymore. She smiles, a peaceful, easy
   smile. It is the first she has shown in a long, long time. The smile
   transforms her. She is achingly lovely is the warm sun, and she
   doesn't even realize it. No one is around to gaze upon her in her
   fleeting moment of beauty. With the ring of the doorbell it is gone,
   as so many beautiful things are, unwitnessed. Her usual expression
   sets in, that unattractive blend of bitterness and petulance.
   Frowning, she gets up to answer it, carrying her untouched cup of
   coffee with her.
   An older woman, graying hair pulled down her back in a long French
   braid, stands on her doorstep.
   "Uh, hi there. Are you a relative of the Bergers?"
   Irritation floods her body. These people are going to ruin her day
   again, why won't they just leave her alone? She is getting damn sick
   of this question. Trapped by the fear that this woman has spoken to
   the cashier in the supermarket (she knows how these small towns work)
   she is forced to renew a lie begun to impress her indifferent husband.
   Feeling guilty, she replies rather tersely, "Yes. Why?"
   "Well, I was hoping to speak with Natalie or John. Are either of them
   She is being drawn into lying in detail. She is growing more and more
   uncomfortable. "No, they are not. Can I help you?" she reluctantly
   "Sure, just give them this envelope, will you? It's the notes on last
   weeks town meeting."
   Of course it is. The annoying do good Bergers. It will be her pleasure
   to give this envelope to the garbage, after she has pilfered its
   "It would be my pleasure," she smirks.
   As she reaches out for the envelope, her mug of coffee slips from her
   fingers, splashing the pristine white rug in front of the door. She
   screams numerous blasphemies into the unsuspecting face of the woman
   before running to get a cloth. If her husband sees that spill, she
   will hear about it for the rest of eternity. Embarrassed by her
   outburst, she avoids the other woman's eyes when she returns to the
   doorway, cloth in hand.
   "Sorry about that, I just didn't want the rug to be stained," she says
   as she kneels on the carpet.
   The older woman smiles kindly down at her. "Here, let me help." She
   takes a section of cloth and begins scrubbing. "No need to apologize,
   this isn't Natalie's house, so I can see why you are getting frantic."
   Not Natalie's house? Of course this wasn't Natalie's house. She peers
   suspiciously at the woman, searching for signs of senility. Maybe she
   wandered from house to house, plaguing the inhabitants. All the locals
   know her, so they don't answer the door. Caught by in her own
   ignorance. The old woman looks pretty together, though.
   "The one time Natalie and John had me over, they were absolutely
   fanatical about the use of coasters, and they kept eyeing my wineglass
   every time I walked over the Persian rug. They are usually so
   easygoing, I was surprised they were actually making me feel
   uncomfortable. They told me how they housesit for this rich couple,
   and they wouldn't want anything irresponsible to happen to the house.
   I admire the respect they show for another person's property. Anyway,
   I'm sure you have seen that gorgeous teal blue and cream Persian rug
   in the living room. I wouldn't want anything to happen to that,
   whether it was mine or not."
   Her jaw drops at the older woman's statement. They have a teal blue
   and cream Persian rug in their living room.
   "Well, I'd better go. When they get home, tell them I'm sorry I missed
   them. If you can't get that stain out, I'm sure Natalie has something
   lying around the house to get it out. Nice meeting you."
   The woman strides off down the driveway. She stands in the doorway,
   mouth still open. With a flash of insight, she runs to the garage and
   checks the Durango's cab. Sand. From the sandbags during the flood.
   With an almost audible click, the pieces all fall together. There was
   no other woman. There are only other Bergers. They live here. They
   LIVE here. She is astounded at the risk these Bergers have run. They
   must stay here during the week, knowing that their counterparts only
   came in every second weekend. As an off thought, she wonders where
   they were right this second. They must camp out somewhere and wait.
   Unbelievable. They must have watched the house for weeks to make sure
   that it was safe. A deep blush begins to spread across her cheeks. How
   routine their life must have looked to the hidden watchers. She feels
   humiliated by the fact that they had decided breaking and entering was
   a safe risk. Her shock erodes into anger. How dare they? House sitting
   for a rich couple. They haven't just subverted the car and house,
   either. Some girl has taken her name, taken her identity and lived it
   better than she could. They have fulfilling, helpful lives, while she
   has nothing. Her little piece of revenge at the grocery store doesn't
   seem like much to charge for use of her life. Well, she will put a
   stop to it right now. Furious, she storms into the house and begins
   searching for a phone book. The police will handle this. Her husband
   will be enraged and mortified, he will prosecute the "Bergers" to the
   fullest extent. He will make sure they spend a long time in jail, she
   doubts they will be "together forever" now. The sweet words in the
   love letter spring to her mind, and she feels a pang of pity for the
   young imposters. Anyone that much in love will find jail a waking
   nightmare. Now, if she is going to be truthful with herself, the only
   reason why she is so incensed is because she is jealous of the young
   couple, and the love they have. She actually admires the gutsiness of
   the stunt these two have pulled for so many months, and the fact that
   they have become upstanding members of a small community without
   anybody ever suspecting. They must have studied their counterparts
   very carefully to know that she and her husband have no interaction
   with the other islanders. They have certainly taken care of their
   home, she has never suspected a thing until this weekend, and her
   husband still doesn't. The humor of the situation strikes her, and she
   begins chuckling. As a matter of fact, she would love to meet these
   young ruffians. Her face falls as she realizes the circumstances she
   will probably meet them under. Her husband will not see the humor in
   this, nor will he recognize that there was no harm done. As far as he
   goes, the "Bergers" picked the worst home possible to pull this stunt
   in. Speak of the devil, she hears his car pulling in. Those poor kids.
   All their leftover groceries are loaded into the car. It is the end of
   the second weekend of the month. She fusses around the counters,
   postponing the moment of departure. Her husband glares restlessly
   about him.
   "Move it, let's get going," he snaps at her.
   She levels a long, hard look at him, saying nothing. He tries to meet
   her stare, fidgeting. Finally he looks down, and walks out of the
   house, grumbling. He slams the door shut behind him. She takes a last
   look around, then puts an envelope on the kitchen table. She shuts off
   the lights, and closes the door gently behind her. The envelope lies
   gleaming on the table, caught by the afternoon sunlight. The front of
   the envelope is marked with a looping, childish hand. It says "The
   Bergers." It is the envelope the older woman left behind. On the back
   is written, in the same childish hand, "Thanks for the good name. I
   hope to see you soon. Regards, Laura Berger."
   The car churns up dust as it speeds down the country road. Carried
   away inside it, she grins. It seems like such a waste to have
   something so expensive only used twice a month. Her husband won't
   catch on, he never notices anything. Besides, she they are the first
   people she has wanted to be friends with in a very long time. Laura
   Berger takes a deep breath, and begins to sing.

   by Maryann Hazen

   I relax so intensely, my skin snaps.
   This badgering rationality is enough
   to steam my eyelids. I practice
   knuckle-cracking, chain smoking,
   coffee drinking, pill-popping ways
   to take it easy. I idle so high, I can't come
   to a full stop. I could never stay
   between the lines. I'm the root of all evil,
   yet I pump the gas. I never intended
   to evolve into this jaw-clenching, nail biting,
   heart breaking, ulcer-burning son-of-a-bitch.
   I'm totally percolated
   and the pressure's gonna kill me
   if you're lucky.
   I bake the bread of woe and lick
   my fingers clean but I pay the tip, don't I?
   Don't I? I'm a back stabbing, nit-picking,
   road-raging bully boy and I dare you,
   I double-dog-dare you, to love me enough
   before I explode
   or very simply fall to pieces.

   When All Is Said
   by Michael Largo

   This house is a crow
   that picks at something in the grass.
   We are inside, in its stomach.
   We climb its ribs with a candle
   that gets blown out when we
   reach the lungs.
   Sent tumbling
   The sound of tractors
   coughing up the morning dampness
   into the sky which is a clean
   white handkerchief.
   Buckets with rusted bottoms
   pitchfork and shovels lean against
   the corner
   smoking thin splinters.
   You tell me you like living here.
   I look at my hands.
   I have nothing to say.

   Big Jim, the Mormon and Hitler's Grandson
   by Quincey Burkhalter
   "Hitler's Grandson is Alive and Living in Denver." That was the
   headline on the latest edition of the tabloid I stole after spending
   my last dollar and eighty-five cents in change on cigarettes. I didn't
   believe it either. I just put the magazine inside my coat so I would
   have something to read while I was taking a shit. I had no idea at the
   time that what I read in the bathroom would soon be parallel to my
   life. But it's all true.
   Pressure was coming from every direction at the time. My mother would
   call me at night and leave messages during the day. My batty
   girlfriend would threaten to leave me. They both asked the same damn
   thing every time. `Have you found a job yet?' Then pressure came in
   from the other side. I had just spent my last dollar and eighty five
   cents in change and this was my last pack of cigarettes.
   So, I sat there, sat in the crapper smoking away on the sweetest
   Marlboros I had ever tasted and thought about my options. I had
   avoided this from the beginning. This would tie me to home. My parents
   wouldn't give me anymore money. I'm just their loser son. So, why go
   back to a family that didn't care for their son? I forced the last
   option I had out of my mind.
   I pulled the tabloid out from underneath my jacket. "Hitler's Grandson
   is Alive and Living in Denver," it said. I sucked in hard on the third
   cigarette from the pack. I wasn't really counting, but I figure it was
   the third, because I had only wiped once. There was a picture of a
   young man with his arm around a pretty girl. I couldn't tell if the
   man was Hitler. It looked kind of like him, but he didn't have the
   distinctive little dictator grin; he didn't look evil. He looked sort
   of happy. Under the picture it said, "Hitler and his `Secret Lover.'
   She was Jewish! (1923)." Hitler had a secret Jewish lover prior to his
   dictatorship of Germany. His lover had been Jewish. Ah-Ha! I guess
   that gives a simple explanation as to why Hitler hated Jews. She
   dumped him like he was rancid meat.
   And hey guess what? The plot thickens. Hitler's lover was pregnant.
   And Hitler didn't even suspect. The child was a boy and whether Hitler
   knew about him or not Hitler's lover and his love child escaped the
   persecution of World War II. The kid grew up and even snagged some
   unsuspecting wife. It's no wonder, his wife was American. They moved
   to Denver. Anyway, Hitler's son and his wife were killed in a car
   accident ten years ago. And this is where it gets good. Their child
   survived and is "Alive and living in Denver."
   Hitler's grandson was going to the university. So, was I. He had been
   sighted going to criminal justice classes. That seemed right. I had
   always thought cops and dictators were only a step removed. And that's
   what Hitler's grandson planned to do. He planned on persecuting people
   who broke the speed limit. Especially if their last names were
   Lowenstein or Seinfeld or Rosencrantz like mine. Actually, I'm not
   even sure if Rosencrantz is a Jewish name, but my parents are Jewish.
   I looked at the baby picture of Hitler's grandson. The caption read,
   "Now an employee of Big Jim's convenience stores."
   And it just so happens that Big Jim's just happened to be my last
   option. My sister-in-law worked for the main office and had promised
   me a job if I ever wanted one. I was down to my last pack of
   cigarettes, so I took it. There were more than a few Big Jim's in
   town. So when I got the job, I didn't expect I would be working with
   you know who. I didn't even believe that this person really existed.
   I'd read about him in a goddamn tabloid.
   Who believes anything they read in a tabloid?
   The guy that gave me the tour of Big Jim's was a guy I like to call
   the Mormon. He was a burly, older, bald man with glasses. He had to
   have been my father's age, so I instantly thought, What's this guy
   doing working here? I soon found out.
   "Don't get me wrong, Ken," he said. "It ain't like I like working at
   this place. This is the back room. What ya' think, Kurt? Great hall of
   beer, huh." I looked around. There were posters of Big Jim, the owner,
   "Yeah," I said staring at the posters that lined the wall. It was like
   Big Jim was some sort of legendary rock star and this was his first
   ever live performance. "Arriving July eleventh, at a Big Jim's near
   you," each identical poster said.
   "Had two wives once," the Mormon said breaking me out of my trance.
   "Married twice?"
   "At the same time. Married to both at the same time. Grab that dolly.
   On my fourth marriage now. Got fourteen kids, that I'm counting, you
   know what I mean."
   I started to look at the posters again. Big Jim looked like a
   caricature, a clay version of a real man.
   "Two at the same time?" I said.
   "Yup. Thought the first one was dead. So, I got married again. Then
   hidey-ho, wouldn't you know it. First one shows up at my door."
   "What happened?" I said, intrigued by his soap operatic life.
   "Well, number one was better in the sack. So, I kept number two and
   screwed number one on the side. On number four now. I told you that.
   Grab the twelves of Red, White, and Blue. Don't drink `em, just grab
   `em. I don't drink no more. Quit."
   When we finished the tour we returned to the cash registers up front.
   A new shift had come on. That's when I saw him. You know what I mean
   by him don't you? I mean him, Hitler's Goddamn grandson. I didn't
   trust him the moment I saw him. There was something about this average
   looking, mustached young guy that made my insides feel slimy, like
   warm mayonnaise. An almost poison tasting metal tinge came up on the
   back of my throat.
   "Hi," he said. "Name's Craig."
   "I'm Kevin R-. . . Just Kevin." My voice shook. It never shook. What
   the hell's wrong with me, I thought. This guy made me feel uneasy,
   unsteady, like my ankles had been replaced with roller bearings. That
   never happened to me.
   "O.K. Kevin, just Kevin, you know how to work a register?"
   I said nothing. I stood there frozen. I could feel the Mormon
   retreating behind me.
   I couldn't believe it. The Mormon had come in for the fifteen minute
   tour and now he was leaving me with this guy. He left me with this
   guy, this Craig guy, this guy that reminded me of a used car salesman
   and Momar Kadafi in the same breath. The Mormon was leaving and there
   was nothing I could do about it. I saw Craig wave. I turned to see the
   Mormon wave back as he was getting into the car with his wife. This
   guy, this Craig guy, just stood there with this smile on his face. I
   saw the Mormon's car leaving the lot. The smile disappeared. I managed
   to speak.
   "I know how to work the register," I said with a tongue that felt
   almost numb.
   "Well, too fucking bad," he said. "You're on beer duty tonight. It's
   behind the cooler. And stock the single cans of soda too."
   "I haven't been back there," I said.
   "I've been on the fucking tour. I know you've been back there. Big
   Jim's gonna be here in a week. Do it and I'll check it when you're
   He was right I had been back there and the Mormon had told me what I
   was supposed to do, but I hadn't really been listening. I was more
   interested in the story about him being married to two women at once.
   Besides, the Mormon told me I would be on the register the first
   night. The Mormon managed the goddamn store, but this freak of nature
   assumed the position of God the minute he was alone with me. There was
   nothing I could do.
   "Get started," he said. "They're gonna start comin' in sooner than you
   "I was supposed to. . ."
   "I don't fucking care what you were supposed to do. It's Saturday,
   it's July the fucking third, and we don't sell liquor on Sundays. If
   you think I'm gonna stock beer tonight you're fuckin' crazier than my
   grandpa. Now get your ass to the back."
   The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I could feel my ears (What'd
   he mean crazier than his Grandfather) get hot a and my jaw clench. I
   stood there looking at him. I knew it had worked on people a lot
   tougher than Craig; so, I stared. I'd never had to be very big to be
   intimidating. I just had to prefect this stare. I didn't move. He rang
   up three customers. I stood there. All three of the customers were
   college girls, only one of them good looking. He didn't stand a chance
   with even the ugly ones. He said the same damn thing every time.
   "Lookin' hot tonight. Someone's gonna get their fireworks early."
   All three of the girls giggled and looked his way. I stood with my
   frozen glare fixed right at him until the third girl left.
   This Craig guy turned around as the door shut. The third girl turned
   around to look at, I'm sure it wasn't him, it had to be me. She looked
   right at me. I looked at Craig. Craig looked at me. My eyes watered
   and went blurry with anger.
   "Did you see what they bought?" he asked.
   I said nothing.
   "They bought beer." He stopped to see if I would react. I stared.
   "Stock the fucking freezer," he said.
   I felt myself backing off as another customer came through the door.
   "Lookin' hot tonight. Someone's gonna get their fireworks early." I
   would have thrown up if I had to hear him say it one more time. The
   girl turned around.
   "You're kinda cute," she said as her dress threatened to get even
   smaller. She was staring right at me. She thought it was me who had
   used that terrible line. I stayed there, just hoping that this girl
   who looked like a cross between Rosanne Barr and Elvira wasn't
   actually talking to me. She stared. She looked me up and down. She
   smiled with teeth the color of unhealthy urine. I went to the back to
   stock beer.
   I jerked the cooler door open with what felt like anger, but was
   probably frustration. I slammed it behind me with the same emotion.
   There was a note on the inside of the door, over one of Big Jim's
                                 1st Crew,
         Don't stock the beer. We got new blood coming in tonight.
   I turned around. The cooler was empty. I hadn't noticed it before. I'd
   been listening to the Mormon tell his story. The Mormon must have seen
   the note, I thought. He must have noticed the cooler was empty. The
   other six pack cans were in the back room; so, I went back there.
   I hadn't noticed before, but this whole back room was filled with
   alcohol. Cases upon cases were stacked at least twelve feet high. Who
   in their right mind would stack them this high, I thought. I would
   need a ladder or some rope to get to the first case.
   Before attempting this miraculous feat. I decided to take a look
   around, get myself familiar with this back room. I might as well be
   familiar with it, I thought. I'm going to be back here all night and
   into the early morning. I walked slowly down the corridor, slowly down
   the Great Hall of Beer. God, I needed a drink.
   I checked around for cameras. To my surprise there were none. But
   posters of Big Jim stared at me from every direction. He looked
   unreal, distorted, but his eyes followed me everywhere. There was not
   a place where he couldn't see me. I looked closely at one of the
   posters trying to stare him down. He looked like a muppet, like one of
   the designs Jim Henson had thrown away. His mustache was a thick
   graying handlebar over a mouth that stood open in a hapless, Kermit
   the frog grin. His eyes stood out of there sockets like he had no
   lower eyelids. Hair sat on his head as if it was waiting for someone
   better to come along so it could escape. I checked again for cameras.
   Big Jim seemed to unreal to even exist, little alone to be watching
   me; so, I tore into a box that had Jim Beam written on the side in big
   red letters.
   "Did you see that, Jim," I said.
   I couldn't believe it. There must have been twenty flasks in the box
   and there were three more boxes. I held one flask in my hand and put
   another one in my inside coat pocket behind a tabloid I had stolen a
   few days before. I had forgotten the tabloid was there.
   I pulled it out as I took my first healthy drink of Jim. I felt warm
   as it hit my empty stomach. "Hitler's grandson," I said laughing to
   myself and opening the magazine. I skimmed over a couple of articles,
   one about an alien abduction and the other about a werewolf that had
   killed two kids in Vermont. Then, I got to the Hitler article again.
   "I'll be damned," I said out loud to myself. "His name is Craig." I
   thought about the dipshit, asshole up front and turned the page. It
   was him. It was Craig. There was no doubt about it, Craig's photo was
   staring back at me. It was a computer generated photo of what Hitler's
   grandson would look like at twenty two, the age he was now, taken from
   a picture of him when he was five. I dropped the bottle of Jim Beam as
   I was trying to take another drink. It shattered into a million pieces
   as it hit the floor. I held the picture in front of me.
   "Hey!" I jumped forward nearly slipping on the alcohol I had spilt.
   "Hey asshole. We're out of Milwaukee's Best. Get your ass in gear." I
   turned around to face the voice. It was Craig standing right in front
   of me. I looked from Craig to the picture, the picture to Craig. I
   couldn't move. "I gotta get back up front," he said. "Get your ass in
   gear." I stood immobile for quite some time, thinking of how he had
   probably seen my name on the time sheets. I'm not sure if my name's
   Jewish or not. I couldn't speak.
   I didn't see Craig the rest of the night. I worked like a mad man
   throwing twelve packs of Milwaukee's Best and Red, White, and Blue
   beer to the front of the cooler. The twelve packs disappeared before I
   could turn around. I got the motion down. Up, down, pull out the
   twelves, and slide. Up, down, pull out the twelves, and slide. After
   awhile it got easier, but it never slowed down. By the time midnight
   rolled around I had worked for twelve hours straight. I hated this
   Craig guy with a unholy vengeance. I prayed a silent prayer. I don't
   believe in God but I prayed silently. I prayed that this Craig guy was
   Hitler's grandson and that I could prove it and sell that bastard down
   the river.
   Three days later I had gotten used to the cooler and started to like
   the hard work and free Jim Beam. I worked every night with Craig. When
   I did, it was me in the cooler and him up front using the same damn
   line on every girl that came in. I tried to talk to Craig when I
   could, tried to get a clue, some sort of incriminating evidence. I
   asked him how old he was. He wouldn't tell me. I asked where his last
   name, Brown, came from. He said, `Charlie Brown.' I asked what he'd
   meant by `meaner than my grandfather.' He said he didn't have a
   grandfather. No question phased him. He was made of stone.
   Finally one night he just said it without me even prompting.
   "Hey, Rosencrantz," he said. "Is that name Jewish?"
   I turned around. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I could
   feel my head bob involuntarily up and down. "What's your point?" I
   said trying to appear confident.
   "I was just wondering," he said. "Do you have a girlfriend?"
   "I've been dating someone for awhile, off and on," I said nothing
   knowing it had been a little more serious than that. "What's your
   fucking point?" I said.
   His face looked puzzled, but I knew it was fake. "Just trying to make
   polite conversation," he said. This guy hadn't had polite conversation
   once in his lifetime. I just know that his first word as a baby wasn't
   Mama or Dada. It was probably. . . I don't know. Maybe it was stab or
   shoot. Gas, gas was his first word. It had to be gas. Stabbing and
   shooting were just too humane. I gathered my composure.
   "I'm going to the cooler," I said. I knew it was completely stocked,
   because no one had been in the store in over three hours.
   "No you're not," he said without raising his voice. The hair on the
   back of my neck stood up again. "You know how to use a microwave?" he
   "What the hell do you mean by that?" I said thinking of the ovens at
   Auschwitz and of the pictures of my grandfather after he had come home
   from there, frail and brittle with sunken cheeks.
   "I mean," Craig said with an obviously misleading tone. "I mean, I
   brought us dinner. If you'll run to the break room and zap it in the
   microwave, you can have half."
   "I'll zap it," I said, "but I don't want any. I mean, who the hell do
   you think you're dealing with anyway?" I may have been half lit up on
   Jim Beam at the time, but I wasn't stupid.
   "You're fucked in head," he said as I took his four burritos to the
   The food smelled good. It was supposed to. If it didn't smell good,
   then I wouldn't be tempted to eat it. Don't get me wrong I didn't
   think he was trying to poison me or anything stupid like that. Craig
   was to damn smart to try that trick. He needed me. He needed an army.
   His idea was that I would get hungry and sit down to eat with him. A
   comradary would form and we would become friends. He'd ask me things
   about my life. I'd tell him. He'd use my childhood memories to
   manipulate me, like Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs. He'd
   drill ideas into my head, brainwash me. After awhile I would think
   like him. I'd walk like him. I'd talk his lingo, "Hey baby, lookin'
   hot. Somebody's gonna get their fireworks early," Most of all, I would
   hate myself for what I am, a Jew. I would believe that what his
   grandfather did was right. I would believe that my relatives suffered,
   some even died, for a cause that was just. I wasn't going to eat his
   damn burritos no matter how good it smelled.
   In my mind, those damn burritos were proof enough. This guy, this
   Craig guy, was spawn of the devil, spawn of the Antichrist, Hitler's
   Goddamn grandson. My scalp burned with a heat that came from inside. I
   say, it was the heat of knowledge. I held my hands in front of my face
   and saw them shake. I forcibly calmed myself down by looking at the
   poster's of Big Jim that covered the wall. I took a long drink of the
   bottle that hid in my inside coat pocket and breathed deeply. "I can't
   let him know that I know," I said out loud to myself. Besides, I knew
   that if I wanted to prove anything I needed evidence. Nobody had been
   here when he gave me the burrito's. They wouldn't believe it. Finally
   I felt my face get warm and numb from the alcohol. I was calm. I
   walked out with the burrito's. They smelled damn good.
   The next day I came into store an hour and thirty minutes late. That
   was the day I found out why they called the street I worked on Canal
   Street. There was a canal along the street, a canal that I soon was to
   become very intimate with.
   I had ridden my bike clear across town to my girlfriend's house. She
   lived just off of Canal Street about ten miles down from Big Jim's. I
   gave myself plenty of time to get to work. It usually took me about
   thirty minutes to get to there this way so I left an hour early. It
   was unusually hot for Denver and humid beyond belief. I enjoyed this
   type of weather. This was probably the only reason I loved working at
   Big Jim's. I could show up to work drenched in sweat with my lucky
   bandana wrapped around my head and no one would care.
   I had been riding along congested Canal street weaving in and out of
   traffic. I ran lights. Cars honked. I gave them the bird. "Hit me," I
   yelled, "I'll sue your ass." I didn't really give a damn what the
   people in the cars thought. None of them could do what I was doing.
   They weren't in the shape. They sat in their cars eating donuts one
   after another, putting on their Goddamn makeup, and singing badly
   along with their five thousand dollar stereo systems. I passed right
   by them on a beat up old ten speed I had bought from some guy who used
   to run triathalons. I was stronger than any of them. Smarter than any
   of them. And on Canal street, I was faster than any on them.
   Of course it couldn't always be that way. Some asshole always had to
   prove me wrong. This time it was a guy in a `79 Bronco. The Bronco was
   high off the ground, raised up so the guy in it would feel superior to
   the rest of the human race. It was exactly the kind of testosterone
   machine I could see Craig driving. The first time I noticed this guy
   behind me he was trying to push a red Geo out of the way. He managed
   to do it with a few revvings of the engine and a slight push from
   behind. The car moved over to the shoulder. I looked back to see the
   Geo driver, it was a girl, flip him off. That was exactly what I would
   have done.
   Then he got behind two seventies gas guzzlers. These guys weren't
   going to let him through no matter how much he pushed. So, Mister
   Ejaculation On Wheels started swerving wildly back and forth. I could
   hear his wheels squealing, smell the rubber burning on the pavement.
   The Bronco wasn't going to get past the LTD and the New Yorker, they
   wouldn't let him. And I wasn't going to move. I owned the fucking
   Then the old man in the hat that was driving the LTD made a right
   turn. I never have trusted old men in hats. That was just enough
   opportunity for Mr. my engine's louder than your so get the fuck outta
   my way to get around.
   That was when I noticed. I looked back to see his face. I could see
   the fire of hate burning in him, a vein pulsing wildly on his
   forehead. His black hair was neatly combed to the left and plastered
   to his head. Blue eyes glared madly from underneath savagely
   distraught eyebrows. That evil dictator grin flashed brilliantly under
   a square patch of hair. His eyes burned with rage.
   I started quickly for the left lane since he was in the right and
   there wasn't much of a shoulder. That was a big mistake. I felt like
   my feet were going to fly off the pedals even with the toe clips on.
   He came closer. I could see the fury in his eyes. A human life was of
   no consequence to him. I could tell he knew I was Jewish and hated me
   for it, just like he had hated my grandfather. It felt like my tires
   weren't even touching the pavement. I looked back again.
   The evil he possessed was strong. His lips were pursed tightly
   together. He ground his teeth in fury. But above all he seemed to be
   enjoying himself.
   The Bronco roared and pulled up close. I could see the grill, bugs
   smashed in the radiator, the chrome bumper reflecting the image of my
   back tire. My legs were on fire. I turned to see a curb. Without
   thinking I managed to pull my front wheel high enough to get over the
   curb. I felt a hard jolt and heard my back tire pop. I could see the
   canal coming toward me. I jumped off of the bike and landed in a crazy
   forward momentum on the gravel of the street. The bike landed in the
   Dazed and angry, I looked up for the Bronco. The street was empty.
   There wasn't a person or a car sight.
   I was bloody, sore, and soaked to the bone. I had wrecked my bike on
   the way to work and in the process of trying to save the bike, fallen
   in the canal. I had walked three miles and come very near to
   hypothermia. I walked in the front door of Big Jim's Gas and More. The
   Mormon was behind the register.
   "Calvin, you're here," he said. "Clock in and get on the register.
   Craig's in the cooler."
   I wanted to say, I'm bleeding. I'm soaked to the bone. I was almost
   killed by some asshole in a `79 Bronco. I can barely walk. Look at my
   ankle. It's swollen. Instead, I limped behind the counter,
   dumbfounded, and put my smock on. When I walked up to the register the
   Mormon calmly stepped aside.
   There was a line of people all the way to the back of the store. The
   Mormon moved to the other register. I stood there looking down at this
   conglomeration of keys and slowly started punching them. I asked for
   an I.D. from the guy behind the counter and slowly punched some more
   keys. "Is that all?" I said. The guy said it was. "Fifteen forty-two,"
   I said. That's when the shit hit the fan. The customer said I had over
   charged him. I explained that this was a convenience store and things
   cost a little more here. He started yelling for the manager.
   "Can I help you, sir?" the Mormon calmly said.
   "This jerk doesn't know how to work a fucking register! It took him
   two days to ring up my order. Then, he over charged me."
   The Mormon calmly looked over the ticket and rerang it. Craig walked
   behind us and started to ring out the customers on the other register.
   The guy was satisfied with what the Mormon came up with and left.
   "Craig, hold down the fort," the Mormon said. "Calvin, can I talk to
   you." I followed him to the break room. "Clint," he said. "We need to
   talk about how you run the register."
   I wanted to say, that was my first time. You just witnessed my first
   time. But I had been employed here nearly a month. The Mormon wouldn't
   believe me if I said I had never worked the register. I told him when
   he hired me that I had worked a register just like this at my last
   job. My last job was as a janitor.
   "You've come up short three times so far on your shift."
   "It was Hit-. . . It was Craig," I said knowing I couldn't reveal the
   truth yet. I wanted to say, I've been in the cooler. Craig hasn't let
   me work up front. Instead, I said, "I'm dyslexic."
   "You are? Hey, that's a relief. Why didn't you tell us before?"
   I hadn't needed the excuse until now,
   I thought. "I hoped it wouldn't get in the way," I said.
   "Tell you what," he said. "Why don't you work the cooler tonight and
   let Craig watch the front for a change. I'll help you." He told Craig
   what was going on and we walked to the back. I kept up with the Mormon
   who was always in fast-forward mode. Then I remembered my ankle. I
   started limping.
   "Ain't got long you know," the Mormon said as he opened the door to
   the cooler.
   "`Til what?" I said.
   "The big guy," he said. "Gotta hidey-ho, buster."
   "The big guy, you know, Big Joe."
   "The owner?"
   "Yup, you got it, the owner, the big cheese. So, gotta hidey-ho. No
   questions. That's why I brought you back here, Kyle."
   "You see Chris."
   "O.K., the big banana's gonna be here. Gotta hidey-ho. Cooler's not
   gonna get up to specks on it's own. That's why I brought you back
   here. You're a hard worker, Curtis."
   The only thing I can figure, is that The Mormon got to close to the
   Agent Orange when he was in Nam. He started to do the thing I had
   learned the first day. Up, down, pull out the twelves, and slide. Up,
   down, pull out the twelves, and slide. I followed suit. There was
   absolutely no reason to be going at this crazy pace the cooler was
   about half filled. It was Wednesday and the only reason it was down to
   half was that the first shift had not touched the cooler since last
   night. I could tell. I had put tape on the top of the Red, White, and
   Blue beer all the way to the bottom. They would have had to cut the
   tape to move any of the twelve packs. The tape was intact. All of this
   would take a couple of hours to fill, even with customers coming in.
   With the Mormon back here with me we would be finished in less than
   thirty minutes and I would have to go back up front with you know who.
   "Two days," he said. "Yup, gotta hidey-ho. Big Joe's gonna be here in
   two days."
   "Big Jim."
   "Yeah, what about him?"
   "His name's Big Jim."
   "I know. What's your point?"
   "Never mind."
   "You know Calvin I feel sorry for you."
   "Why's that?" I said.
   "That Craig guy," said the Mormon. "He's not the easiest guy to get
   along with."
   I was quiet. Maybe the Mormon knows, I thought. I doubt it. He can't
   even remember my name.
   And it was two days right on the button when Big Jim showed up. It
   wasn't unannounced in the least bit. There were little black and white
   posters of him everywhere. I couldn't even find an empty space on any
   wall and I looked.
   For a week we had worked our ass of for this man on the poster. None
   of us had ever even met him. We weren't even sure if he had a last
   name. We worked like none of us had ever done before. We labeled. We
   straightened. We dusted. We cleaned. We stocked liquor. I hadn't
   worked harder in my life, but it felt good as long as I was in the
   sanctity of the cooler.
   On the day Big Jim arrived I was still trying to make order of the
   strange way the Mormon had organized the cooler.
   Big Jim came in with no pomp and circumstance, no trumpets blaring,
   not even riding a big white horse. The poster's had all been taken
   down before his arrival and it seemed as if no one cared. He came in
   unnoticed. At least I assume he was unnoticed.
   "Hey son!" he said in a voice that nearly knocked me over. I jumped,
   nearly dropping a twenty ounce Red, White, and Blue.
   "Sorry, son. Didn't mean to scare you. Big Jim here," he said. I could
   see his hair trying to escape.
   I wanted to say, How are you sir. Nice to meet you. I'm Kevin
   Rosencrantz. Instead, I said, "Where's the Mormon?"
   "What, son?"
   "The m-m-manager."
   "Ooooh, him. Skipped him, didn't bother. Store's making a profit. Why
   should I bother the manager?" He looked around. I remembered the fresh
   bottle of Jim Beam I had just stolen and started to zip my jacket.
   "Tight ship you run here," he said. I tried to keep from screaming as
   the zipper on my jacket was stuck. The whole reason I was back here
   was so I wouldn't have to meet him. "How you keep from goin' batty
   back here," he said. I reached in my pocket trying to shove the bottle
   back further so he wouldn't see it. "Oh, I see," he said looking
   directly at my hand. I knew I was caught for sure. "Can I have a
   swig?" he asked.
   I pulled it out, still unsure of what he was doing. "Here," I said
   handing it to him.
   "Used to do the same damn thing," Big Jim said as he took a long
   drink. "Had one of them just about every couple of days. Only way to
   keep sane, when your working with a potential dictator."
   I had heard it, but couldn't believe my ears. "Potential dictator?" I
   said as if I knew nothing about it.
   "Yeah boy," he said laughing and patting back his escaping hair. "You
   probably don't read those stinking rags. This tabloid keeps on
   printing these articles about how Hitler's grandson has been workin'
   in my store."
   "Really sir. That's fascinating."
   He laughed again, this time harder. "Yup. And I'll be damned if that
   boy up front don't look just like the Goddamn picture."
   My hair stood on end. The beer bottles were breathing. I can't tell
   him, I thought. He doesn't really believe. Then the words came out of
   my mouth. "You gonna give my Jim Beam back sir."
   "Oh yeah," he said and handed me back the bottle after he had
   carefully screwed the lid back on.
   As Big Jim left the store I watched the guys up front, the Mormon and
   Hitler's grandson, stare at the counter. "Have a good day," they said
   in unison as the bell rang announcing Big Jim's departure.
   I pulled the tabloid out of my jacket pocket and looked again at the
   picture. I stared through the beer bottles at Craig standing up front.
   He looked mean and strangely pathetic. Big Jim had not really believed
   Craig was `you know who's' grandson. I looked down at the picture. I
   felt strangely hot and more than a little stupid. A girl came in the
   front door.
   "Lookin' hot," Craig said. "I'll have a burger and fries with that
   I took a slow drink of Jim and thought about some way I could possibly
   get out of this job. Craig could stay here and plot to take over the
   world or maybe he would just stay here and insult women. I guessed he
   would do the latter. Craig and the Mormon looked funny. They seemed
   almost cartoonish through the brown glass of the beer bottles.
   "Gotta hidey-ho," the Mormon said, sounding like Deputy Dog. "Big
   Jake's gonna be here any second. Look busy."
   "Sounds good," said Craig in a completely nondictorial way. He quickly
   grabbed a mop and bucket and headed for the floor. "Gonna mop first,"
   he said, "then I'll take out the trash."
   "Do it quick," the Mormon said. "No time to doddle."
   Craig looked oddly human, oddly normal. "Hidey-ho," he said. I looked
   away from the front of the store and down to the tabloid. "Hitler's
   Grandson is Alive and Living in Denver," it said. I slowly tore the
   tabloid into small pieces and threw it into the trash can, into the
   trash can on top of at least a hundred posters of Big Jim.

                             about the authors
   ** Quincey Burkhalter ( )
   Quincey Burkhalter is a graduate of New Mexico State University in Las
   Cruces, NM. He has a degree in broadcast journalism, but just recently
   quit his job as a reporter to work as a law assistant. He is 29,
   married and has a ten month old daughter.

   ** Michael FitzGerald (, or )
   Michael presently lives in Missoula, MT with his smart, sexy fiancée
   Catherine Jones.  He is a candidate for an MFA in Fiction at the U of

   ** Maryann Hazen ( )
   Maryann Hazen is a mom and wife living happily in NYS. Writing poetry
   has been a life-long passion of mine. She has enjoyed the good fortune
   to see hundreds of poems published and has won several awards and
   contests.  She loves going to Renaissance Faires and making
   birdhouses. Other hobbies include needlepoint and flower gardening.
   She has an awesome tin collection and avoids the kitchen as much as

   ** Michael Largo ( )
   Michael Largo has published a book of poems, Nail in Soft Wood
   (Pikadilly Press), and two novels, Southern Comfort (New Earth Books)
   and Lies Within (Tropical Press).

   ** Frank S. Palmisano (, or )
   Frank S. Palmisano III is a resident of Baltimore, MD and is currently
   pursuing a Master's Degree in Theology at St. Mary's Seminary/
   Ecumenical Institute of Theology. He is an avid reader with a wide
   range of interests. In particular, he has explored the idea of
   language as it appears in Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Foucault. He is
   also interested in resurrecting a dialogue between the
   biographical/occasional poem and the intellectual community.His most
   recent poetic feasts can be digested through Recursive Angel, Gravity:
   A Journal of Online Writing, The Dead Mule, and Mediphors: A Literary
   Journal of the Health Professions.
                             in their own words
   ** Catfishing by Michael FitzGerald
   "It's about fishing and grandfathers."

   ** Coffee Bean Philosophy, Too by Frank S. Palmisano III 
   "This poem was inspired as a result of a conversation I overheard at a
   coffee house adjoining a nationwide bookstore. The discussion was so
   immersive that the participants seemed to ignore the terms of their
   job description, opting to review national issues and other
   tendentious considerations rather than be harassed by the frequent
   appeal of customer service. The discussion was not only uninformed but
   reminiscent of the dillanteism that appears so symptomatic of the
   collective ego that has infiltrated American culture. Two issues
   became immediately obvious. Man subdues the social environment through
   personal opinion to reinforce his sense of participation and existence
   in it. And people love to here themselves speak; the exercise of
   speaking is more fascinating than the events assigned to it."

   ** Advantages by Maryann Hazen
   "This is what I imagine it feels like to be "The Bad Guy"; the one who
   would use every advantage to dominate or acheive the upper hand in any
   event or scenerio ... yet even he must require love and acceptance ...
   don't you think?


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             Our next issue will be published September 1st, 1999.