Thursday, January 31, 2008

THE WEIRD GODS by Spencer Troxell

The weird gods climbed down from the moon, past low-hanging clouds and upon leafless treetops. Their unusual boots first touched ground in a parking lot in the city. The snow crunched.
“Probably we should eat.” Said The First. His beard long, his eyes
like strange reflectors.
“Probably indeed.” Croaked The Other. They stepped into the
shadows, and it wasn’t long before they found a meal particular to their peculiar sensibilities.
“To do down here, not much.” Said The First again. It was usually The First that broke the silence, and usually The Other that replied. This is how it had been for countless ages. The Other grunted in affirmation.
They stalked down the sides of the interstate. Vehicles hissed by on the wet concrete, illuminating the odd figures in flashes with their headlights. The gods stepped over fading soda cans and discarded plastic bags. A deer--blown open and decomposing--laid awkwardly in their path.
The Weird gods exchanged glances as they stepped over the corpse.
There was a small, silver diner up ahead. The First said, “I see
it.“ The other grunted. The bell on the door rang as they opened it.
There weren’t many patrons in the diner. The Weird gods took a seat in a corner booth. They looked at one another.

Eventually the waitress arrived, and, somewhat startled at their
askew appearances, asked them what they wanted.
“Just coffee.” Said the first.
“Coming, they should keep.” croaked the other. The waitress nodded in understanding and scurried off.
“Does you have the item?” Asked the other, breaking regular
“I does.” Said the first, withdrawing from his person a strange
little leather bag with a tight drawstring around the top. He carefully undid the drawstring, and plunged a cruddy finger inside. He withdrew a quarter. The Other smiled, and nodded in approval.
There was a little jukebox at the end of the table, next to the wall, as there is in so many roadside diners. The First pressed the arrow buttons on the bottom of it, and examined the lit up selections carefully before coming to one that seemed to satisfy him.
“Ah.” said the first.
The other grunted in response. The first dropped in the quarter, and pressed a button. The Weird gods folded their hands in front of them, and waited for their coffee. Just as they had done once a decade, for the last three.
The song playing ended, and a new song began. Their coffee arrived, with a pitcher so they could refill their cups as they wished. As the first notes of the new song began, thin, crooked lines began to spread across their faces, as the weird ones gave themselves to smile; a once a decade practice.
Patsy Cline sang, “I used to have big money, that was many moons ago…” And the weird gods drank their coffee. When the song was over, they got up quietly and went. They drank no more than two cups of coffee per, and left no tip.

Spencer Troxell lives in Cincinnati with his wife and two kids. He is pursuing a degree in Psychology at the University of Cincinnati, and works at a bank part-time to supplement the income brought in by his long-suffering, beautiful wife. His work has appeared at Why Vandalism, Thieves Jargon, Zygote In My Coffee, Word Riot, Eyeshot, Mannequin Envy, and a few other places. He keeps a blog at

Monday, January 28, 2008

CAUGHT IN A TRAP by James Lineberger

i hadn't thought she would recognize him
but this morning
when i was watching the king's first vegas special
on turner tv
she wandered in and stood there
for a bit and then
she started laughing and crying and said
oh i love him so
but aint he spose to be dead

James Lineberger is a retired screenwriter, sometime playwright, and full-time poet. His work has been widely published in both print and online.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

THREE SIPS by J. Marcus Weekley

a response to Espada

Millie wasn’t even named
in the church pews,
silver candelabra, crosses
just out of reach.

Several times hands
coaxed her pale body
in unholy places,
but Millie made no face,
while the girls with warm
hands whispered.

Millie danced with air in her bedroom,
naked arms cleaving space,
each step clumping time.
One day she’d give
me three sips, all for me.

Her father, an American businessman,
wanted to paint a mural
over Millie’s bed,
dabbed oil skin
of the hanging traitor
glowing in the sunset.

Once Judas twisted mid-air
and pigeons stopped and stared,
Millie poured the wine
into her palm,
held it out,
and bid me drink.
"There," she offered,
"Three sips."

Currently serving time at Chili's in D'Iberville, Mississippi, J. Marcus Weekley also knows how to quilt, draw, and photograph, and is teaching his sister about sashing strips and binding. His work is in from four years, Look Out Below and Other Tales, and Texas Dance Halls, among others, which may be found at or

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

TROUBLE by Andy Henion

The new boss calls me into his office, in this case an extended cab pickup. He’s a small, energetic man with manicured fingernails and an associate’s degree in construction management. His father is the one who hired me, fourteen years prior, but is now semi-retired and fishing for marlin off a tropical coast. Like mine, the father’s fingernails are lumpy and discolored from years of meeting the business end of a hammer.

Is it cold out there or what? says the new boss. He puts significant emphasis on certain words and makes exaggerated expressions. In his hands is a gourmet coffee drink with a green sippy lid.

Your dad and I shingled in ten-below, I say. The old man took three bundles up the ladder at a time.

Yeah, yeah, he’s a legend. And he’s got the arthritis to prove it. The new boss takes a sip of his coffee drink and thumbs a drop of spittle off the steering wheel. It’s a brand new truck, special edition, glossy black with cream seating.

So, the new boss says. I understand you’ve been having some trouble.

You understand wrong.

Putting a drill bit through someone’s hand? Punching out a man at a playground? That’s not trouble?

Depends on your perspective.

Well my perspective is this. That man at the playground happens to be a friend of mine.

Then teach him some manners, I say, and stare at the new boss and his wide eyes until he looks away.

To the windshield he says, An employee who runs around maiming people would be considered a liability. A shrewd employer would not be wise to retain such an employee.

Out the window I see Hank standing near the truck, unable to look into the cab, and understand that he is the muscle in case things get out of hand. I shake my head. As the foreman, I hired Hank when he was still a teenager and taught him to hammer a nail straight.

Say the words, you fucking android.

You’re fired, says the new boss

There, I say, pulling the utility knife from my pocket. Wasn’t so hard.

I twist the blade into my palm. His face opens. Blood drips and splatters about the cab as I genuflect.

For the blood I have given this company, I say.

You crazy bastard! says the new boss. My truck!

And for the blood of my laboring brethren. Who must continue bearing your gross ineptitude.

Blood is covering wide swaths of the cab at this point, and I realize I’ve cut a bit deep. The new boss is pawing blood from an eyelid and motioning frantically for Hank. The coffee drink has spilled on the dashboard, smelling like a goddamn Christmas tree.

I step out to meet Hank, blood dripping from my fingertips. He’s a big kid, with a neck like a stump. I place my wounded hand in his, the other on his shoulder, and tell him it has been a pleasure.

Pleasure my ass, says Hank, smirking. You stay out of trouble now, you hear?

"Trouble" is the fifth installment in Henion's "Angry Suburban Guy" series. The first four ("Animals," "The Boss," "Sick Fuck," and "A Night in Vegas") appeared in Thieves Jargon.