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Some Week-Fiction by Don Stoll
Weird World-Fiction by Bruce Costello
A Bottle of Tequila and $2,000 in Cash-Fiction by Charlie Cancel
Heated Awakening-Fiction by Michael Steven
The Waitress-Fiction by Zachary Wilhide
Why I Left the House that Smelled of Death-Fiction by Merrilee Robson
An Incident in Dodge-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Grandfathered-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Two Little Words-Fiction by Shari Held
Thigh Candy-Fiction by Darryl Hicks
I'm Not a Lawyer-Fiction by David Calogero Centorbi
Midnight Munchies-Fiction by Amy Grech
Dead Men Don't Text-Flash Fiction by Pamela Ebel
Stunned-Flash Fiction by Brad Rose
Hate and Love-Flash Fiction by Jacob Graysol
Love Hurts-Flash Fiction by M. E. De Neve
The Curse-Flash Fiction by Ted R. Larsen
Topsy-Poem by Peter Mladinic
Wat You Want-Poem by Joe Balaz
The Champagne of Beers-Poem by John Tustin
A Not-So Brilliant Poem-Poem by Richard LeDue
Something Bigger-Poem by Richard LeDue
Imminent Mortality-Poem by Robert Beveridge
unspoken passions-Poem by Robert Beveridge
My Brooklyn View of a Starry Night During Lockdown-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Starry Night in Ogunquit the Beautiful Place by the Sea-Poem by Dr. Mel Waldman
Van Gogh's View of the Starry Night Through the Iron-Barred Window in the Asylum-by Dr. Mel Waldman
The Lamp Filament-Poem by John C. Mannone
Like Sherlock Holmes-Poem by John C. Mannone
A Glint of Steel-Poem by John C. Mannone
Writer-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Panda Bear-Poem by Michael Keshigian
The Silent Poet-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Bruce Costello: Weird World

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Art by Steve Cartwright 2022

Weird World

 

Bruce Costello

 

           Feet on the coffee table, hands on the windowsill, a shaggy dog is conversing with the moon. Hearing human noises, he leaps down. His young man enters the room with a female person. They’re holding paws.

          The dog recognises the female’s body smell from regular inspections of his man’s clothes and hands, though she’s obviously been trying to disguise her natural aroma by rolling in stinky female stuff.

          So that’s what she looks like,” the dog thinks.

           “Oh, you’ve got a mutt!” the female exclaims. “Does it shake hands?”

          The dog brushes past her outstretched arm and sniffs her crotch. She yelps.

          “Down, boy!” says the man.

          The two humans lick each other for a time and then shut themselves in the bedroom.

          The dog returns to the window, which is now wet with condensation. Two blobs of water slide down the glass collide and merge.

          The dog runs to the bedroom door and smells around its edges. He whines, slumps onto the carpet, stretches out his front paws and lays his head on them. Time passes, about as long as it takes to eat a bowl of biscuits. He drops off to sleep, but twitches and cries.

          Waking with a start, he hurries into the kitchen, where he’d left a pig’s ear on the floor.  With his snout, he pushes it into the spidery space between the fridge and the wall.

          In the morning, the humans emerge from the bedroom. The man looks dog-tired, as if he’s been chasing cats all night. The female struts about like she’s got two tails, head held high, ears perked up, eyes bright. Says she’s gotta see a dog about a man, leaves the room, and returns looking mighty pleased with herself. The dog runs to the kitchen to check on his pig’s ear, but it’s still where he left it amid the dust and cobwebs.

          The female has a thing she calls a bong. She sniffs smoke from it.

          “Please don’t,” says the man. “My father was an addict and my mother taught me to hate that bullshit.”

          “Just try it. For me. You’re only young once.”

          That day the man stays home.

 

The female remains at the house for many moons until they start to fight. Then she runs away and doesn’t come back.

 

 The man gets his own bong, gives up going out every morning and mopes around the flat with a hang-dog look. He stops grooming himself and hair grows wild all over his face. He won’t take the dog for walks and sometimes gets very growly.

          The dog experiences a spiritual crisis, no longer converses with the moon and starts peeing inside.

 

 Day follows day and night follows night.

 

Something’s not right. The dog pricks up his ears, sniffs, and runs to his man. Water is falling from the man’s eyes and over his face. It’s like rain, but tastes different. The man is making strange noises. He tells the dog his mother has died. The dog nuzzles into him and that night returns to his rightful place in the man’s bed.

         

More days, more nights.

 

There’s a knocking at the door. A young woman is there with kind brown eyes and a gentle smell. The dog stares at her, head cocked to the side, tail thumping against the porch wall.

          “Oh, hullo, Pooch. Just thought I’d pop around to see if Peter’s alright. We miss him at work, you know.”

          “I’m fine!” the man shouts. “Bugger off.”

          The dog seems to shake his head. His tail quivers, and then curls between his legs.

          “Thanks, fella,” the woman whispers, ruffling the dog’s head.

          She calls out: “I’m worried about you, Peter,” and enters the flat.

          The man is sitting on the sofa. The dog leaps onto his lap and looks expectantly at the young woman, his big brown eyes glowing through straggly eyebrows.

          “They do say people grow to resemble their dogs,” the young woman jokes. She sniffs the air, and looks from dog to man, and from man to dog, as if she can’t tell one from the other.

          The man’s face cracks a smile.

          The humans talk and talk, slowly at first, with grunts and silence from the man, and softness from the woman. Then words start to fall fast and loud from the man, like biscuits into a bowl. The dog hurries to the kitchen to retrieve his pig’s ear. He wolfs it down, and returns to the sofa, but gets bored with talk talk and goes to his place by the window.

          The sky is dark. The dog lifts his head and bays, then watches as the clouds scamper off and the moon appears, big, bright and odourless. It winks at the shaggy dog and frowns down disapprovingly on the human world.


The end.






In 2010, New Zealander Bruce Costello retired from work and city life, retreated to the seaside village of Hampden, joined the Waitaki Writers’ Group and took up writing as a pastime. Since then, he has had 148 short story successes— publications in literary journals (including Yellow Mama) anthologies and popular magazines, and contest places and wins.



It's well known that an artist becomes more popular by dying, so our pal Steve Cartwright is typing his bio with one hand while pummeling his head with a frozen mackerel with the other. Stop, Steve! Death by mackerel is no way to go! He (Steve, not the mackerel) has a collection of spooky toons, Suddenly Halloween!, available at Amazon.com.    He's done art for several magazines, newspapers, websites, commercial and governmental clients, books, and scribbling - but mostly drooling - on tavern napkins. He also creates art pro bono for several animal rescue groups. He was awarded the 2004 James Award for his cover art for Champagne Shivers. He recently illustrated the Cimarron Review, Stories for Children, and Still Crazy magazine covers. Take a gander ( or a goose ) at his online gallery: www.angelfire.com/sc2/cartoonsbycartwright . And please hurry with your response - that mackerel's killin' your pal, Steve Cartwright.


In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2022