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    January 2010

    4. Jailbreak

    By Kevin Sampsell

    I know everything there is to know about getting into jail. Trust me. This is going to hurt me more than it hurts me.

    *

    It started with the parking citation. I just went into the store for a second. A loaf of bread and one of those new Snickers bars. Five seconds tops. When I get back out the ink is still wet on the ticket as it flaps under my windshield wiper. I look around and spot the bastard getting into his parking-enforcement buggy. The kind that looks like a fucking golfing cart gave birth to a dwarf. It’s got three wheels and a sign that says DO NOT FOLLOW, like you’d ever want to. He sees me coming and tries to get away by making a right turn at the corner. I get a good running start and drill him like vintage Lawrence Taylor. Piece of shit flips over like a bike messenger. I kick his midget wheels and smash his little walkie-talkie. Then I go to jail.

    They dress me up in some orange jumpsuit and trot me out in front of the judge so he can stare at me over his bifocals and mutter some law school psychobabble.

    They let me call my cousin Randy before they throw me in the cell. Randy’s not there, so I try to leave a message before getting cut off. Piece of shit machine. He thinks he saves twenty bucks a month with that thing. Only assholes think shit like that.

    When I get to see my view behind the bars at the Strom Thurmond Correctional Prison, I make the acquaintance of my cellmate, a wannabe rapper named Derelikt. . . . Read More.

    3. The Danger of Everything

    By Robin Antalek

    My father is licking Scrabble tiles with a tongue thick with spittle, trying to make them stick to his face. So far the N (1), the Q (10), and the Z (10) have adhered to his forehead and left cheek. The R (1), T (1), and A (1) have fallen onto the table. This would be funny if my father weren’t crazy and I wasn’t visiting him in the day room of the Presbyterian Sisters’ Home for the Mentally Imbalanced in White Plains, New York. Who the Presbyterian Sisters were, or are, has never been explained, and none of us (my mother, myself, our lawyer, or my father’s court-appointed mental health advocate) has ever thought to ask. I suppose we were just grateful that they would take a man named Killian Stein, so obviously not Presbyterian but definitely mentally imbalanced.

    If I lean back away from the table where I sit across from my father—the Scrabble board between us covered with rows upon rows of nonsensical words, spelled with triple, even quadruple, consonants and sometimes nary a vowel—I can see my mother’s wood-paneled station wagon idling in the tow-away zone where she promised that she and Rose, her Yorkshire terrier, would be waiting. Luckily for Rose, she had been curled asleep against my mother’s thigh one year ago when my father lit our house on fire; she was the first thing my mother grabbed. Our lumbering old Lab, Henry, wasn’t so lucky.

    On the Scrabble board the only recognizable words are Malcolm and husband. When my father saw what I had spelled, he laughed. It was a deep laugh, shockingly out of place. But there was no mistaking that it was the same laugh he had for me as a little girl. Then he would swing me up onto his shoulders and carry me into the house, all the while pretending he had no clue as to where I had gone. . . . Read More.

    2. Mother Catherine

    By Zora Neale Hurston

    One must go straight out St. Claude below the Industrial Canal and turn south on Flood Street and go almost to the Florida Walk. Looking to the right one sees a large enclosure walled round with a high board fence. A half-dozen flags fly bravely from eminences. A Greek cross tops the chapel. A large American flag flies from the huge tent.

    A marsh lies between Flood Street and that flag-flying enclosure, and one must walk. As one approaches, the personality of the place comes out to meet one. No ordinary person created this thing.

    At the gate there is a rusty wire sticking out through a hole. That is the bell. But a painted notice on the gate itself reads: “Mother Seal is a holy spirit and must not be disturbed.”

    One does not go straight into the tent, into the presence of Mother Catherine (Mother Seal). One is conducted into the chapel to pray until the spirit tells her to send for you. A place of barbaric splendor, of banners, of embroideries, of images bought and images created by Mother Catherine herself; of an altar glittering with polished brass and kerosene lamps. There are 356 lamps in this building, but not all are upon the main altar.

    The walls and ceilings are decorated throughout in red, white and blue. The ceiling and floor in the room of the Sacred Heart are striped in three colors and the walls are panelled. The panels contain a snake design. This is not due to Hoodoo influence but to African background. I note that the African loves to depict the grace of reptiles.

    On a placard: Speak so you can speak again. . . . Read More.

    1. Cricket Hymn

    By Thad DeVassie

    This is not what the prognosticators had in mind. The scorched beauty. The soft silence. The soaking it in with wonder and trepidation of a child in an experienced frame, experience that is now meaningless.

    Yes, these barren, meandering paths are on simmer. Ominous smoke-steam rising hints that a shift to boil is coming. The chaotic-mute landscape reveals what’s left of a wooden-handled screwdriver,
    a high heel-less shoe with no companion, a large, threadbare coat button, an empty and soiled snack-size bag of chips—a collage of misfit mediums on a thick canvas of ash.

    In the distance, we hear . . . Read More.

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