Roshelle Amundson

Serena Mira Asta

Terry Bebertz

James Byrne

Joshua Fischer

Gail Gates

James Henderson

Adam Hill

Peter Laine

Alice Lundy Blum

Tawny Michels

Dawn Nissen-Schachtner

Altamish Osman

Rebekah Pahr

January Rain

Sally Reynolds

Donna Ronning

Jer Rucinski

Jake Ryan

Kah Shepard

Laura Sourdif

Cat Usher

Jonah Volheim

It's Always Someone You Know

The room is dark. I think. Something is over my head, so maybe that’s why it’s so dark. Or maybe, it’s because I’ve gone blind. Have I gone blind? God, I hope I haven’t gone blind. That would be a bummer. I like seeing things. If I were blind, I could never look at….flowers,  I guess. I don’t know, something beautiful. The point is I can’t see anything right now.

I’ve heard that blind people can hear really well though. So, that’s a plus. I could hear things better, and probably taste things better. That’s a sense right? If one sense goes out, the others pick up the slack. I think that’s how it works.

Man, nature is something to marvel at. One minute you can see flowers, and the next minute you can hear like superman. I think I’m going to like this being blind thing. I may just go out on a limb, and say this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve had good stuff happen to me before, but being blind takes the cake.

What was that? Someone’s coming. The super hearing is working already! They’ve got a heavy step. They’re probably fat. I wonder how much the police can do with that? They probably have a database full of fat criminals. They’ll just show it to me—wait, if I’m blind, I can’t finger the perp! Just when you think things are getting good. How am I supposed to point out my captor if I can’t see? Maybe I could smell him out. I can’t smell anything, except must. Hopefully the database for fat, musty criminals is small. That would really narrow down the search.

A door to my left opens. The floor boards in front of me creak. “Do you know why you’re here?” he asks me in a low voice. Why do I know that voice? It sounds so familiar.

“Answer me!” he yells. Quick, why am I here? “Because you brought me here?” Really? That’s all I could come up with? Say something else to show you’re not scared. “I may be blind, but I’ll still beat you in hand to hand combat.” Jesus Christ, you are horrible at this.

“What?” he asks. He sounds surprised. Maybe offended. I know that voice, but from where? “I don’t know why I’m here. Please tell me.” Good, play it cool. He doesn’t say anything at first.

Same stupid, low voice. “You’re here because you have something we want.” We? More fat, musty criminals? And they apparently want something from me. What on Earth could I have that anyone would want? Much less want enough to kidnap me? “You’re here because you are going to give us what we want, or we will hu—“ is that Ted?

“Ted?” I ask.

There’s a long uncomfortable silence. Why is he silent? Am I right? Ask him again. Maybe he didn’t hear the first time. “Is that you Ted?” He clears his throat before he speaks again.

“I don’t know who Ted is. I’m sorry.” That has to be Ted. Nobody else uses that stupid low voice. “Ted, it has to be you. You're the only person I know that uses that voice when you're trying to sound like someone else.”

“No I don’t.”

“See, you just said ‘I’, meaning that you are Ted.”

He’s silent again. I’m definitely onto something here. If he were a good criminal, he would have hit me already and told me to shut my mouth.

“Listen” I say, “Ted it’s obviously you, you can give up trying to mask your voice.” Still nothing. Hopefully I’m not wrong about this. That would be embarrassing. “Did you really think you were going to fool me with that voice? Give me a little credit, we did grow up together.” Ted’s my half brother.

“I’m afraid if I sound like your half brother, it’s merely a coincidence.” He says. He always was an idiot. “You always were an idiot. You just said you sound like my half brother?”

“What’s your point?” he asks.

“I never said anything about you sounding like my half brother.”

This time it’s not completely silent. It sounds like someone hitting himself in the face, which he probably is doing. And some light muttering. He always would mutter when he was frustrated.

“Are you going to let me go now? The jig is up. No need to keep making more of an ass of yourself.” I hope that pissed him off. Bastard. I can’t believe he would kidnap me.

I can’t see, but I know for a fact right now, he’s mulling it over in his stupid head. Trying to figure out if it’s worth the trouble to continue acting as though it’s not really him.

After minutes of, agonizing for him, and rather pleasant silence for me, he finally breaks down. “Ok, ok, I’m sorry. I just wanted a few of your things.” Why? What have I got that’s so great? Dignity? You can’t have that one; you’re born with it. “What did you want?” I ask. He starts untying my hands.

“I wanted your golf clubs,” he says, untying the rope around my feet. “I guess that’s pretty much it.”

“My golf clubs?” He pulls the hood off my head. HE PULLS THE HOOD OFF OF MY HEAD! I’M NOT BLIND! “I’m not blind!” I scream out as the hood is lifted off of my head. Ted looks confused…and sweaty. “Why are you so sweaty?” I ask.

“I was nervous.”

I stand up, and stretch. Ted sheepishly smiles at me. I punch Ted in the face.

Smedly Darlington Butler

So it’s my son’s birthday. I won’t give him a name, because it’s not important. I have named him, but for the purposes of this story there’s no need to say it. We’ll just call him “boy.” It’s usually what I call him anyway. Clean your room, boy. Do the dishes, boy. Pull your pants up, boy. So, I hire a magician for his birthday party. Smedley Darlington Butler is the guy’s name and according to my neighbor, Gregory, who I hate, Smedley comes “highly recommended.” He better not be wrong about this guy, because then there will be just one more thing to hold against him. He wears sweater vests and has a terrible haircut.  It looks as if he let a retarded ape cut it with a butter knife. This isn’t a big town by any means, so Prescott, one of the town’s two barbers could very well be the retarded ape that cut Gregory’s hair. That’s another thing – Gregory insists that I call him Gregory. I've hated that name since I was young, but now it's even worse knowing what the name brings with it.

Smedley shows up a half hour late, smelling of cheap booze and cigarettes. He reminds me of my first marriage. He's wearing khakis and what appears to be a coat that a pianist would wear with his undershirt only half tucked in. My wife complains to me quietly in the kitchen, because she’s a chronic passive aggresiver. Like this Smedley guy doesn’t know he’s a fuck up. He’s fallen over twice in the twenty minutes he’s been here. In Smedley’s credit though, when his pants fall down the first time, the three of clubs is the only one that lands right side up. I think I am the only one genuinely impressed. Everyone else either screams, or laughs. I laugh too, but more out of amusement from his trick, not the fact that his pants fell down. The boy is not impressed and, just like his mother would, he begins crying, saying something about Smedley ruining his party. I find that to be a jarring statement, considering that the boy’s party was a real drag before that.

I'm standing in the foyer talking to Jim Perpich, the father of the boy’s best friend, Alex. Jim’s a real asshole, complete with the nice car, stupid smile and bad haircut. That seems to be an epidemic in this town – bad haircuts. He is blathering about some business tip he read in some stupid magazine and how contrived the people are that write those things. I think about jabbing a pencil in my eye, when Smedley comes around the corner, knocking over the coat rack and smashing the mirror in the front hallway. Jim’s attention is momentarily disrupted, so I flee the scene.

It's near the end of the party and everyone is gathered in the living room for Smedley's last trick. My wife tries to convince me to kick him out, but I persuade her that he's sobered up a bit and his last trick will be good. She's either drunk or stupid because that logic should not have won the argument. I'm the only one at this party that actually enjoys his tricks. No one else can get past his drunken buffoonery. Once you get past that though, he does have some great tricks.

Smedley stands in front of the crowd of small children and anxious parents. He sways from side to side, his empty, glassy eyes surveying the crowd. His hair matted down from the sweat. He almost tips over, then presumably remembers why he's standing in front of us. My wife gives me a look and I motion for her to keep watching because I'm excited to see what he does. He reveals that nothing is in either of his sleeves and cracks his knuckles. He closes his eyes, I assume to make it appear he's concentrating. I lean forward in anticipation. The boy and his mother watch on with hesitant curiosity.

“I need complete silence for this trick.” Smedley says. He spreads his legs, his arms outstretched. “I will magically make a stain appear on the front of my pants.”

Smedley pisses himself, the stain running down his leg and everyone is chagrinned. I laugh out loud and tell the boy, “Happy birthday.”

Sax in the Park

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Jake Ryan was born and raised in Minneapolis, and as of right now, has no plans to live anywhere else. Not because he doesn't want to, but more because of monetary restraints. Jake graduated from Metropolitan State University in May 2010, and now works two part-time jobs. He has many talents that he feels could propel him into the upper echelons of the arts community, that include writing short stories, writing scripts, drawing cartoons, making films, and photography.