Eugene Needs Fruit! | by Brandon Stadnicki

     “I need fruit!” screams Eugene, punching a hole through his bedroom wall. “I need it so I can get strong. I absolutely must get strong.”

     He sticks his face into the hole.

     “But I’m naked and I can’t go to the store naked. I’m exposed. Vulnerable. They’ll kill me in there. I need to prepare myself. Anything could happen.”

     He dresses himself and opens his wallet.

     “Seven dollars. The exact amount of dollars I need for fruit. Almost ready for my adventure. So close. Just need one more item.”

     He goes into the kitchen and takes a pair of pliers from the junk drawer.

     “Never know when you’ll need to ply.”

     He puts the pliers in his pocket and steps out of his apartment. The landlord is waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs. He hands Eugene some papers. Eugene doesn’t look at them. He points to the sun.

     “Hey, goofball,” he says, “the sun is shining, which means no werewolfs. Pretty good news for you, scaredy cat.”

     “I’m going to evict you, Eugene. Because I don’t like you and your hair is ugly.”

     “I don’t care. I don’t care about that and I don’t care about you. You’re not my close friend. You’re nothing. My apartment is nothing. My hair is nice. I’m going to get fruit.”

     Eugene pushes the landlord down and throws the papers in his face. The landlord starts crying. Eugene gathers the papers and hands them to the landlord. He kisses the landlord’s cheek and wipes away his tears. He jogs toward the store.

     A disheveled man approaches Eugene on the sidewalk.

     “Hi, beautiful,” says the man. “Can I please have some of your money? I’m disheveled.”

     “How dare you,” says Eugene. “Fruit costs precisely seven dollars so that’s how many I brought with me: precisely seven. What, you don’t want me to get fruit?”

     He pushes the man down.

     “You don’t want me to get strong, assboy?”

     He pulls the pliers from his pocket and holds the man down by the throat. He plies the teeth from the disheveled man’s mouth and collects them in his pocket. He stabs the man in the temple with his pliers. Blood gets on him. He tosses the pliers at a nearby bush and leaves.

     Eugene enters the store. The cashiers all turn and smile at him.

     “Eugene’s here,” they say. “Welcome, Eugene. We love you.”

     “Thanks, idiots. Here, I got something for you.”

     He holds out a handful of bloody teeth. The cashiers walk over to him crouch to eat the teeth out of his hand. He strokes their heads.

     “Yeah, that’s good, huh? Good, good, good. Now you’ll get strong.”

     Eugene walks to the produce section.

     “The Fruit Kingdom!” he shouts. “Everyone come over here, to the Fruit Kingdom!”

     Customers and cashiers gather round. One of the customers has a baby in a baby carriage.

     “I have a baby. Do you like it?”

     Eugene stoops to look at the sleeping baby.

     “Oof. Oof. No, I really, really don’t like it. It’s pretty awful. But watch this.”

     He picks the baby up and walks over to a mound of cabbages. He buries the sleeping baby underneath the cabbages.

     “Cabbage patch.”

     He picks up the baby carriage and throws it a few feet. Then he rubs his chin.

     “Hmm… I wonder who wants me to play the saxophone now…”

     “We all do, of course,” says a customer, handing Eugene a saxophone. “Here, use mine.”

     “Thanks, moron,” says Eugene. He pushes the owner of the saxophone down. “This is a song about how I need fruit.”

     Eugene plays a heartbreaking solo. Customers and cashiers weep.

     Eugene stops playing.

     “Stop crying. Stop it. I’m trying to be serious. But since you eggheads can’t act mature, I’ll play something else. This is a song about getting strong.”

     Eugene plays a jaunty tune. Customers and cashiers dance.

     Eugene stops playing.

     “Okay now we all need to settle down. We’re too rambunctious right now. Too much razzle dazzle. We need to cool our jets, okay? We need to just sit and be quiet for a while.”

     Everyone sits. Everyone is quiet for a while.

     Eugene stands.

     “Okay, everyone. Business as usual.”

     Customers shop. Cashiers use the cash registers. Eugene selects some strawberries and a cantaloupe. He waits in the checkout line. When it’s his turn he stands on the conveyor belt and looks down at the cashier.

     “Hey, lady. I have an idea: when you and the other cashiers said ‘We love you’ to me did you mean it? Does your face burn for my kisses? My tender kissie wissies? Because if you’re in true love with me I’ll share my fruit with you. And I’ll even play you a pretty song on the saxophone. It’ll be a song about us getting married over and over forever.”

     “I don’t know,” she says. “I don’t know if my heart is ready to be in true love with you.”

     “Well okay, because hand me a bottle of water.”

     She gets him a bottle of water from the cooler and returns to the cash register.

     “Look at my shirt,” says Eugene. “It’s red so that makes me like a fire truck.”

     He opens the bottle of water.

     “And you’re dumb so that makes you a fire.”

     He pours the water on her head.

     “I don’t appreciate what you did to me,” she says. “Now I know that my heart will never be in true love with you.”

     “That makes me feel extremely gloomy. The only thing I wanted in my life was your goofy little hand in marriage. Now being married will never happen to me.”

     “That’s fine. I’ll probably have a boyfriend soon.”

     He gives her seven dollars and she puts his berries and melon into a bag. He takes the bag and hops off of the conveyor belt. He grabs a fistful of candy bars.

     “I’m not going to pay for these.”

     Eugene walks to the doors. He turns around.

     “Hey, everyone, listen up. Tomorrow I’m gonna come here with a lot of bombs. Like probably a hundred. Really big ones. I’m gonna put the bombs all over the store and then as soon as I leave the bombs will explode. If you wanna die, please be here at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Oh and don’t forget to take that baby out from under the lettuce or whatever and put it back. Bye.”

     Eugene leaves. He looks at the full moon shining high in the sky.

     “The moon is a dork.”

     He throws candy bars at parked cars. He throws one at a lizard. He gets on his hands and knees and starts crawling home. When he gets to the disheveled corpse two police officers stop him.

     “Hey, can you help us?” says one, looking down at Eugene.

     “Probably not. I’m down in the dumps.”

     “What’s the matter, buddy?” says the other officer.

     Eugene stands.

     “Well, I wanted true love and marriage with the lady at the store. But she ripped my heart out and put it in the trash, even though I’m really good at saxophone, all because I poured water on her dumb head. I don’t think I’ll ever feel smiley again, even though I got fruit and I’m gonna get strong when I get home.”

     “I know just the ticket,” says one of the police officers. “Helping us solve this mystery will help you feel better about yourself.”

     “Okay, let’s give it a shot. What’s the boneheaded mystery you two crackerjack numbskulls need help with?”

     “We’re trying to figure out who killed this man here,” says the other police officer, pointing at the corpse, “but the full moon makes us too afraid of werewolfs to concentrate on the mystery.”

     “I’m too afraid of werewolfs to concentrate, too,” says the first police officer.

     “Werewolfs are not scary to me, a very brave kind of guy,” says Eugene. “If a whole bunch of werewolfs came up to me and tried to challenge me, I wouldn’t care. I’d just be like, oh hey, bogus punks! You want some of this biz?”

     He punches and kicks the air around him. The bag of fruit swings and hits one of the police officers in the face. Eugene stops punching and kicking.

     “I feel much safer with you here,” says the police officer who was hit with the fruit.

     “Please help us solve the mystery of the dead person, brave boy,” says the other.

     “I don’t think I can help you with that. I’m not good at mysteries. But watch this.”

     Eugene gets the bloody pliers from the bush. One of the officers gasps.

     “How did you know the murder weapon was in the bush?”

     “Sometimes murder weapons are in bushes,” says Eugene, kneeling beside the corpse. “You just have to check. Can we please focus here? For once?”

     “Hey, look! Dried blood is on you,” says the other officer. “We’re getting just a teensy bit suspicious, brave boy.”

     “I already know about the blood. I work at a hospital and also I’m a butcher. My jobs make blood get on me. And it’s not even real blood, so stop it. Knock it off. I’m down in the dumps, remember?”

     “I’m not suspicious anymore,” says a police officer. “I’m sorry.”

     “Me too. You had really good reasons, about the murder weapon and the blood.”

     “I don’t forgive you and I never will. Now pay attention.”

     Eugene plies the fingernails from the corpse’s hands. He stands.

     “Okay now watch what I do. Do like this.”

     He eats a fingernail and offers the rest to the police officers. They squat to eat the fingernails out of his hand. He strokes their heads.

     “Good, huh? This’ll help you solve the mystery. This’ll help you get strong.”

     “I feel it,” says one police officer, swallowing. “I feel like I’m getting strong now.”

     “I definitely feel like I’m also getting strong,” says the other. “And I’m not lying.”

     “Whoa! Hey! Gimme that fucking thing,” says Eugene, tapping a police officer’s gun.

     “That’s too dangerous for you, silly baby. C’mon now. Safety first.”

     The police officer gives Eugene the gun.

     “The other police can have a gun. The other police is mature. I can tell.” He puts the gun in the bag with the fruit. “I’m keeping these pliers because I lost mine today and I have a lot of things I need to ply. And don’t tell me I can’t have them because remember, I am very heartbroken.” He puts the pliers in his pocket. “If someone calls the police tomorrow and says someone put bombs all over the store, just ignore it. They’re lying. And the clue to your mystery is that a werewolf probably did it. And you’re probably next. Bye.”

     Eugene lies on the ground and rolls along the sidewalk to his apartment. He drops the pliers on the floor. He walks into the bedroom. The landlord is in his bed with the covers pulled up to his chin. He’s wearing a nightcap.

     “I’m too sleepy to evict you today. But I still don’t like you and your hair is still ugly.”

     “Cry me a river, candy ass. I got a girlfriend today. Her heart is in true love with me. And I solved a murder mystery. And obviously, I got fruit, just like I promised you I would. Look.”

     He shows the landlord the gun.

     “That’s not fruit. It’s a gun.”

     Eugene puts the gun back in the bag.

     “I told you a lie about my girlfriend. She will never love me and she wants me to die. And I tricked the police into thinking a werewolf killed the guy that I killed earlier.”

     “That does not interest me. Nothing about your life interests me. I don’t like you.”

     Eugene snatches the landlord’s nightcap and throws it on the floor. The landlord starts crying. Eugene gives him back his nightcap and kisses his forehead. The landlord stops crying. Eugene shows him the fruit.

     “Okay, you got fruit. So what? I’m going to evict you tomorrow when I’m not sleepy.”

     “Please don’t. Anyway do you have bombs? I promised my friends down at the store that I’d bring some bombs tomorrow. They’re really looking forward to it. I can’t let them down.”

     “I don’t have bombs. You know this about me, Eugene.”

     “You shut your ditzy little mouth and go to sleep.”

     The landlord yawns and rolls over. Eugene goes into the bathroom and drops the strawberries into the toilet one by one. “Oops,” he says as each strawberry hits the water. He slams the cantaloupe on the counter and slowly drops clumps of melon gut into the toilet. “Oops, oops, oops.” He fires all of the bullets into the toilet. “Oops.” The strawberries and cantaloupe guts swim with shards of porcelain in the pool of water on the floor. He kneels and picks up a strawberry. He puts it in his mouth. He spits it out. He returns to the bedroom and drops the gun into the hole in the wall. He takes off his clothes and puts his face into the hole.

     He sighs.

 

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Brandon Stadnicki is frequently polite.

twitter: @dentiphage

Three Poems | by Catherine Chambers

The Modern Amazon

My thigh is touching the thigh
of the guy next to me
I’m staring at my Best Subway Read
to let him (and everyone)
know that I don’t notice it.
I am noticing it. I can’t tell
if he’s pressing into me on purpose.
I can pretend that I’m not
thinking about holding my ground,
fighting on behalf of all womankind
encroached upon by a man’s flaring thighs.

I shrug my purse further onto my shoulder
in the same way one would hoist a spear.
The girl next to me is texting about someone
putting their dick in her face on the subway,
again. My urge to hug her is entirely
inappropriate. I imagine hurling my body
over hers, a human shield like in movies,
the two of us holding fast in a flood of men.

This fight is more important to me
than the idea that some guy
might wonder if I’m pressing my thigh
into his thigh on purpose.

 

 

Salt Deficient

I dream that I tattoo the insides of my ears by hand.
Before they heal I tip my head to the side
and dump hydrogen peroxide on my new blood.
My ears subsequently burst into flames. I don’t
put the fires out because my organs are crystallizing.
My tongue becomes a block of salt. There is no good
way to interpret dreams about ears, according to Google.

I become paralyzed by the taste of salt. I eat bland food
hoping my diet will beget bland dreams. I stop being able
to turn my head as the moisture is sucked from me.
When I dreamt, I would wiggle my toes to wake myself up;
the person who taught me this also fractured my jaw.
There is no good way to interpret that, either.

 

 

Ziggy Stardust is Dead

Okay suppose we are together
and I’m drinking nervously.
If it’s dire you’ll know because
I’ll have a plastic bottle of Jack Honey
in my Longchamps bag.

It’s waterproof canvas
after all – and to the woman
in Nordstrom who told me that
the more expensive one is the one
everyone gets when I asked medium
or large do you think medium is fine
because I don’t carry that much stuff? –
I am sorry about whatever happened
to make you need to hustle your own
kind and I am sorry that I was so sad
that I came in here to buy a new purse.

You and I can stop to pour one out into the slush.
“Come and meet us.”

Stand on Houston and look up
at him, winter sky, come down
and blow your mind.

 

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Catherine Chambers is an Asian-American mermaid living in Texas with her dog, Bob Dylan. She is currently completing her MFA at the University of Southern Maine and edits Poets Resist for Glass: A Journal of Poetry.

Twitter: @CatChamberz

 

 

Sober II (Melodrama) | by Logan February

after Lorde.
for Eli, my perfect stranger

6 in the AM. Haven’t slept in years.
Lately, I’ve been dancing like I don’t
have depression. I open my mouth
into a dusk as dirty as the soles
of my bare feet. I taste rain from
the leaky roof, probably laced with
some toxin or another. Yikes. I’d text
you but I don’t have your number.
Something keeps crawling in my bed
& it’s not me. I streamline my whole
obsession, go full crazy & start
to crave death again. Wash dirty
hands with dirty water. I’m so fake
I didn’t even kiss you in my mind.
//
I didn’t even kiss you in my mind
regardless of all the shadows. I am
trailing terror across my teeth,
one by one. Can you tell from my pulse —
thick, rushing, elusive. I obsess, it’s fine.
Still, the thing in my bed is me, which
is terrifying. Serpentine. I didn’t know
I had a snake in me. But just imagine it.
Supposing every bright thing were
thoroughly darkened, what then?
I can’t be with you or without. Trick
question. Take a shot every time
I say kiss. 420. Blaze it. Or whatever.
My body emptied itself during the wait.
//
My body emptied itself during the wait,
so let’s say I finally got out of bed. Hair
tousled, shaved, bleached even. Brushed
my teeth and eyebrows. Got some
toothpaste in my eye, but please don’t
make me tell you how often I cry. I’m not
going down that road. Not today. Nope.
Today is a good day. You know,
sometimes, functional mostly just means
manic. I’ll be passive aggressive, lash out
at everyone but you. God, why you?
I don’t even know you. But. I have fresh
underwear on—I’m going to smile
until my face freezes in that position, yes.
//
Until my face freezes in this position? No.
Just take the damn picture already.
My chest hurts, I think I’m in love. I haven’t
broken my dusk skin with scissors in,
what, two months? Progress, right? Please
don’t forget me. We’re strangers I know, so
these promises are just make believe.
But then again, all of me is make believe
and I don’t believe. I just make, make. . .what?
I make a mess, fool of myself. I’m rabid
and I look like a dog. So why don’t you love me?
It’s high noon now, LOL. I should sleep,
except I can’t. Tell me again how I learned
to be lucid, to feel the knife and still not let go.
//
To be lucid, to feel the knife and still not let go,
is that weird? I don’t know, all my friends
think i might be a masochist. the word
i needed was feline, though I don’t own a cat.
I can’t take care of anything except my feelings,
which is toxic, but not as toxic as smoke.
At this point, I might die, man, can you hear
my heart? Can you? I just want you to touch me,
I imagine i would crumble, but so so slowly,
it looks like history erasing itself. Like
the coliseum falling into ruin. Yes, I do believe,
if you touched me, I would be ruined. I’m light
-headed. I call it the insomnia effect. Also, are
the windows getting wider or is that just me?
//
Are the windows getting wider or is that just me?
Huh. I’m a total escapist, I apologize. As if
I could make an art of it. Like Houdini, except
in love, and not dead. I keep getting distracted,
I swallowed so much smoke, still couldn’t fall
asleep. Strange, because usually I’m doing all
but swallow. When last I had a proper meal,
that’s one question too many. But what if the sky
took off its silk and stockings, stopped being
such a prude. Came downstairs stark naked.
What if I could love you like a song instead
of white noise. What if unicorns were real.
What if money could buy this exact fantasy.
No one knows. Or cares. At least not me.
//
No one knows. Or cares. At least not me.
So I ignore everything, leave it to ferment
into a good violent blur. Seconds become
liquid. I do too. Become liquid, I mean.
Fuck, I really messed this up, didn’t I? I’m
sorry. I don’t know how to love or be loved.
Only to want. Clean and desperate. I’m so
high I could taste a sea’s worth of salt,
all of it. I could learn to sing and i’d echo
for seventeen more years. I just want love.
Like white flowers, unfurling at dawn. Noon
is full of vanishing, my bed folded in on itself.
I sleepwalked all the way to your window. Again,
it’s 6 in the AM & it’s like I haven’t slept in years. Continue reading “Sober II (Melodrama) | by Logan February”

Two Poems | by James Diaz

4/27/17

born bored left alone in the bleachers blonde and doe eyed the trailer parks were simple in their sorrow storm country minor parts in the corner played one song for a mother who wore her surroundings thin tearing stitches it was a clean break cellular contraction four months in solitude drinking from unsteady hands Dina holds pills steady breathing like you got somewhere else to be and it’s only desolation peaking planted like a thing unsure is it supposed to move introduce itself or scream at the wall paper can’t dance in this public housing sunlight unwatched around boxes how we never were point to the edge of the map scream! and strong men moved in me like furniture reeked but the guards knew my poetry was silent I asked to be loved not held to the floor and hands once cared what they touched ached ate food ached called on the phone what did the lawyer say what did the doctor say am I ever never crazy can I have my comb back it doesn’t cut very deep it’s all on camera they loosed me loaned me my clothes and loop I always thought you were angry and hid it for points girl said in day room but the shouting of a friend trying to die in the quiet white four wall grabbed at the big nurse he’s fatal with his eyes I knew you couldn’t make it alone needed an ally in this ward I stood with you refused to strip he waited us out we were animals to him howling I held you no names just both of us very scared today I journaled like this to reach you with my solitude bum scar I know it got worse I heard the news dead at 18 we never had a chance you were beautiful once I won’t forget… Continue reading “Two Poems | by James Diaz”

Hit | by Chance Dibben

Examine the disconnect
examine the fire. A plane crash and government search.
Hit POUND to be found. Hit FIRE to examine

the wrong cheeseburger.
The worst; a prisoner released early
(or was he). Hit HEAD to be there. Hit HEAD to go home.

Plurality of imagined experiences (you had to be there)
fire the examiners. You can do real on your own.
It ain’t your plane that crashed. It ain’t you escaping. Continue reading “Hit | by Chance Dibben”

Two-Shot, Add Steam | by Carleton J. Whaley

     And some would have described her as a girl with piercing blue eyes, but we knew she was not the Main Character, so we left off with that. Interestingly, the next customer was a man with piercing brown eyes, which we hadn’t thought of before. However, this observation led more to us discussing what piercing really meant than to our decision about the man’s status as a character. In that way, he was allowed to be more real than the rest of us.

     Should we consider the contest? That was what some of us wanted to know, to define the rules, fix them to the board and our minds. Unfortunately, the line was starting to get held up. We served them coffee. Some had tea. When they needed eggs, they were cracked. When they needed lemons, they were sliced. We did more sometimes, but that was the gist of it.
Continue reading “Two-Shot, Add Steam | by Carleton J. Whaley”

Annual Confession | by William Overall

     As always let me begin by reassuring that this experiment consisted of six willing and handsomely compensated volunteers. The participants were chosen after undergoing a standard (somewhat) physical and mental ((mostly)) evaluation . The applicants varied in age, gender and intelligence, but all included “the single flaw” identified by Dr. Johnstein (a great hero of mine), and all indicated different levels. The participants willingly signed a contract that was strenuously written by a \\\. The six participants proved invaluable to the research, but obviously the only two I am required to talk about are “Fuse and “Tack”. The two exhibited the highest levels of “the flaw”. Both were very badly riddled with the illness (poor \\\..).

     Even though much data was lost and there is still the lasting controversy behind the end result. It has become much easier to develop identification technology for “the single flaw”. An amazing silver lining! But I do not write to bask in my own research, or to clear my name, but to drag the truth farther into the (light) sun (and to comply with the state’s mandated terms of conviction). However, I would like to praise the faith and diligence of my team of students -a truly brilliant and sometimes ((to their brilliance)) calculated bunch of kids- and also sometimes little \\\’s. As always though I recount them to a true and lasting call to abstractions of the collective conclusion.
Continue reading “Annual Confession | by William Overall”