Issue 4.1

The Kindness of Strangers

By Tad Crawford

averted my eyes from the woman sitting with her back against a lamppost. I had passed by when her arm reached out with a slow, serpentine grace that drew me back.

“What is it?” I asked.

She looked as much like a dark bundle as the actual bundles that surrounded her. Her features had an oriental cast but didn’t register age. She might have been my contemporary, but just as easily could have been a decade or more younger or older. The December winds gusted up the avenue and slipped under my coat. I shivered and looked at the patchwork layers of blankets and sweaters wrapped about her.

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The Woman at the Corner

By Brian Seemann

he woman at the corner of Seventh and Main, the one with the face twisted in some kind of strange loneliness, strained her head and kept her eyes on the line of cars waiting at the red light.  She clutched a leather bag in her left hand.  With her right hand, she gripped the open flaps of a crimson red robe and held them close to her neck to prevent the late morning breeze from exposing her aged body to the five cars beside her.

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Strange Humanities

By Mike Sauve

y father had always been a heavy drinker.  It had only become a problem recently as a result of some new medication he was taking.  I hadn’t been home since the previous Christmas when he could still put back eight or twelve drinks with no visible effect and then drive across the city without anyone raising an eyebrow.  He was a dentist.  This might have had something to do with it.

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All That It Would Take (abridged for Forge)

By John Richmond

t started out as a whim, albeit a fairly crazy one, at eleven-thirty on a Friday night, to drive the six and a half hours from Milledgeville to Knoxville in order to be there for the rest of the weekend.  He knew he would have all of Saturday and most of Sunday before he would have to turn around and head back to Georgia.

“What the hell!” was all he said as he packed his duffle bag and headed out the door.

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The Storm

By Christine Hennessey

eorge said there was nothing to worry about, but Denise wasn’t so sure. The news people on the television were locked into a continuous loop, cutting from images of the storm – a swirling mass of white clouds and nasty red lines indicating the path of the hurricane – to their furrowed faces and concerned voices, begging people at home to take cover or better yet, run. From what Denise could tell, she and George were right smack in the middle of where this thing was supposed to land. “Evacuate or face certain death,” was the grim proclamation from too many sources. But Denise’s main source simply scoffed and cracked open another beer.

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Bottled

By Richard Fellinger

eirdre woke up with a headache and shuffled into the bathroom. Sunlight peeked through the blinds, and it comforted her to know that the night was definitely over. She looked herself over in the mirror and made an ironic smirk when she concluded that she didn’t look too bad. Yet the back of her head still ached. She massaged her head gently and decided it was nothing to worry about—just a small bump, where her head had hit the doorknob after Nate shoved her. Could have been worse. She put her hair up with a clip and popped two Advils. It was Sunday.

Nate, who usually woke up first, was spread out on the couch watching a fishing show. He wore baggy warm-up pants, a soiled white Steelers cap pulled backwards and a sleeveless Superman T-Shirt. He always wore sleeveless T-Shirts, no matter the weather. He’d often said that he worked too hard on his biceps to cover them up.

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Black Slave Writes From Asylum

By Nick Sweet

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Not Even Jail

By Sean Jackson

’m not what anyone would call a nice person. More of what folks deem a misfit, a loser, a numb nuts. Convict. When I was a boy I had three dogs. One died under a car, one ran off and never was seen again, and we drowned the third.

And by we I mean me and Chain Bottoms. We didn’t mean to drown it. We was in a canoe at night and it jumped in the cold river and got panicky and we had cigarettes lit and it seemed too much trouble to get wet to save some dumb dog.

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A Smooth, Clean Cut

By Sam Snoek-Brown

he two boys slid into the dark trailer and sneaked back to Kid’s bedroom.  He waited til they’d shut his door before he turned on the light.  The hundred-watt bulb in his ceiling was bare, and it cast hard, clean shadows.  Matt opened his long coat and held out the samurai sword by its scabbard for them both to admire.

“And your dad won’t miss this, you’re sure?” Kid said.

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Jus Talkin

By Terry Sanville

erome Rosenthal stares out the bus window at brick row houses sliding past. A low August sun casts evening shadows down the sidewalk. Along Allegheny Avenue, mothers sit on the stoops, fan themselves and gossip. Their children dash about in the waning light. To Jerome, the scene looks like a Norman Rockwell painting, except most of this crowd is black or Puerto Rican. The neighborhood was different before the war, filled with Eye-Tyes and Polacks, good-looking shicksas with their ponytails and bobby socks.

A loud bang shatters his daydream.

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