Tag Archives: Death

THE TORNADO THAT DESTROYED EVERYTHING AND MADE EVERYONE HATE HIM BUT THEN THEY DIDN’T: A STORY ABOUT TORNADOES AND FORGIVENESS BUT MOSTLY TORNADOES by Nick Mohoric

There once was a beautiful tornado named Michael. He was known throughout all the land as Michael the Mangler after his penchant for mangling the crap out of a ton of dudes’ and dudettes’ faces when tearing across the open plains. This wasn’t his fault; in fact, Michael was the sweetest tornado one could ever know and he only wished to bring joy to all those he met along his journeys. Unluckily for him, and those he mangled, his crazy strong winds were known to rip the nails out of houses and throw them, along with any other heavy or razor-like objects, toward the quivering crowds of onlookers.

“Watch out below!” he would yell as he flung a house on top of some ladies sunbathing topless for to get as much tan on their boobs as possible. They never heard his warnings, never heard his sweet nothings, they would just hear the sound of his rushing winds swirling around them.

As a Category 1 tornado he fell in love with a young girl in a neighboring town named Rose. She was not like other girls her age. Her parents sheltered her and as a result her life was in her books. Michael was not used to this type of girl; all he knew were the girls that were outside chasing the boys while trying to impress them by watching them play sports, flipping their hair in the sun in hopes of catching themselves in that perfect light. He only saw Rose as she went from her home to school. He watched the way her skirt moved at the slightest updraft, the way her hair seemingly floated behind her, the slight upturn of her lips as she read her book while walking down the sidewalk, the inevitable way her body intertwined with some random passerby when she didn’t see them coming.

She was perfection.

Michael finally worked up the courage to speak to her at her home shortly after she arrived from school. There would be no one else there in case he were to embarrass himself. The second he got near her house he ripped the door off the hinges; his nerves were getting the better of him. Rose rushed into the room to see what was with all the commotion and was immediately sucked through the hole the door used to fill, straight through Michael’s whirling self, and slammed directly into a tree.

She lay there inert. Michael had killed his first love before he could even introduce himself.

This began a vicious cycle for our poor tornado. He flew into a downward spiral of depression (what people don’t realize is that tornadoes normally spin in an upward spiral of happiness). The realization that he could never have what he wanted most, a love in his life, only added to the winds raging within. With each passing day his wind speeds rose until he was a Category 5 ,wandering the city in a fury.

Working his way toward the center of town, he watched the people run in horror. They couldn’t escape him, though; he was too fast as he pelted them with rocks, sticks, tires, hot dog carts, kittens, cats, beer bottles, bums, window shutters, car glass, newspapers balled up really fucking tight and soaked with some water and maybe pee (he couldn’t tell), apples, dirt clods, sex toys, regular toys, dirty clothes, farts, and ultimately their own limbs as he cried “Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself.”

In his heart he only wanted their love, but he had come to believe he was only capable of pain so he figured he would play the part. The self hatred and doubt that he grappled with consumed him as he stumbled from town to town. This blind rage that drove him was a blessing and a curse: the air was filled with screams of terror because of it, but it ultimately made sure that he wasn’t aware of his surroundings and on one fine day Michael stumbled upon a McDonald’s purely by chance. After ripping the roof off he was suddenly filled with thousands of freshly cooked hamburgers, fries, and shakes that were so awesomely packaged that the shake did not get sucked out of the cup. With this knowledge he probably would have chucked that food at all the people around but instead he continued on his rampage, finally tearing the walls and roof off of a nearby orphanage. This added debris forced the food to fly directly into the open mouths of all the starving orphans.

Michael was a hero! The town rejoiced!

But then they realized all the people he’d murdered and the millions of dollars of damage he’d caused and hated him again.

NICK MOHORIC makes a living organizing sex tips for women’s magazines. He lives in Brooklyn with his cat, Flapjack, and can be heard imbibing copious beers on the Literally Drunk podcast. Almost never, he reminds people to “readmyfrigg.in/blag“.

KNOWING ALWAYS COMES TOO LATE by Michael Radon

It was a bright sunny day, the day of Roxanne’s burial. From across the road I could hear children laughing, playing even. Just another slight I’d take the Creator to task for when I got a chance. The sight of that box going in that dirt hole was enough to wear me down. Knowing something is a lot different than seeing something, and the sight of that killed a big part of me.

I used to fawn over her and tell her how perfect she was, which certainly was not true. Every time she broke my heart without batting an eye, or made me cross with rage by some comment crafted just so to pierce right through my resolve, it was like I was plucking those flower petals to get to “she loves me not,” and when I got there I packed my things and left. I know that wasn’t the gentlemanly thing to do, especially considering that meant leaving her to keep raising Melinda on her own, but know that flower metaphor had an awful lot of petals.

Word came to me through one of her old friends, who I kept in touch with through the odd holiday letter. I’d ask about her, and Melinda, and didn’t feel like such a monster then, and for my diligence, I’d get some kind of report about Roxanne as a footnote. I guess the sickness came fast, because it had only been five months since the last letter, and there wasn’t any news of it in there.

She told me Roxanne had passed and I had to stop reading for the night. She asked me to attend the services, said it was the honorable thing to do by her, and to hell with what anybody might say to me. She assured me that it wasn’t a ploy to take Melinda on, she’d gone to stay with Roxanne’s mother, and even if I wanted to make an effort to get her from there, I doubt the respectful Mrs. Stevens would have even let me on the property without calling for my head. I spent a long time thinking about what to do with that. I wrote back and said I wouldn’t be able to make it, but I arranged to send some flowers for the thought.

That only made me feel worse.

Tried drinking it away, tried to forget it and just move on. Death just happens. No sense in making a fuss over it. But that made me feel more the asshole. Finally, I resolved to go in secret, pay my respects, and leave town again. That would just be a chapter in my life I’d finally have to turn my back on completely, and live out my days treating that history like a war – significant, but better not dwelt on daily. I owed her a lot more than an apology, but that was all I could focus on without blubbering.

It got me to thinking that I hoped that when you die, you get to take in the knowledge of everything. Everything people thought about you, and think about you, and what all transpires. You get to take it all in like a sudden eureka and process it without any of the fuss of having to be alive to deal with it. The thought of that gave me a little peace, that maybe she knew I was sorry for giving up and leaving.

All was said and done very quietly and somberly. I saw her friends, her family, I saw Mrs. Stevens crying, and I know she didn’t see me or she would have stopped to give me an earful at best. I lingered around in the shade of an oak tree a good ways off from Roxanne’s grave in the hopes that maybe I could get a few moments alone with her to put it all to rest. I sat against the tree, lit a cigarette, and smoked it in sighs.

It was getting dark, and the last few cicadas of the season were stubbornly begging for more summer. There wasn’t much wind, and if the kids hadn’t gone home already, I wouldn’t have heard them playing over the tires kicking up gravel as all the cars were leaving. A few more minutes and I’d say my goodbyes.

“Annie told me you weren’t coming.”

Surprised, I turned my head quick and saw Melinda, her face looking a lot more composed and strong than mine. I guess after everything she’d been through, her mother dying was just another drop in the bucket for her. Then I noticed she was holding a sleeping toddler in her arms.

“Shit, Melinda. I’m a grand dad?”

“No, just a father of two.”

I flicked the cigarette away to the side. “Can’t say that provides me any more peace of mind.”

“You piece of shit.” Melinda whispered. “So what, you sneak in through the window to get your kicks with mom and not have to see me?” She looked ready to hit me.

“Don’t go makin’ it dramatic, Melinda. Show some respect for your mother.”

“Respect? Did you respect her by walking out and leaving her to raise me by herself? Did you respect her when you got her pregnant again without even being a big enough part of her life to know between now and then? Tell me, dad, when exactly did you respect any of us?”

“What do you want me to do? Take you both in, take care of you? ‘Be a dad?’”

“No.” Her voice started to shake. “Never.” She clenched her open fist and looked right in my eyes. “I just want you to go away.”

I stood up, brushing the dirt off the back of my pants and looking for the right thing to say, the fatherly thing to tell my daughter, but the words didn’t come and I don’t think she wanted to hear them. “Okay.” I took a last look at my young son and then walked away.

Melinda stood still. Didn’t run after me, didn’t want the last word, just wanted to make sure I was gone for good. I try not to entertain thoughts of her ever forgiving me, because that day may never come. I think about it a lot, though, the same way I saw Roxanne clearly when she fought with me; that’s the way I like to imagine Melinda as the years go by. Independent, fierce, her mother’s daughter.

Maybe when my card is pulled, I’ll know if she really hates me as much as she said.

MICHAEL RADON‘s lifelong obsession with digital media makes him an ideal addition to your local pub trivia team. His latest project is growing a beard in an attempt to make people believe him when he says he writes for a living. His irrelevant observations are recorded daily through his blog and twitter.

RAPHUS CUCULLATUS OR EVERYTHING TURNS AWAY by Mike Maher

Coyotes and wolves are nearly identical
except the coyotes have developed the ability to adapt,
to learn to eat garbage
and sleep under your shed.
Tom says pigeon parents push
their young off bridges just to see if they are ready to fly.
And if they aren’t?
It is no surprise they are related to the Dodo,
millions of miniature Prince Prosperos leading their people to doom,
tiny Icaruses splashing into seas of New York City taxicabs,
though it is doubtful Breughel would take the time
to illustrate their unnoticed fall
nor Auden or Williams to sit down and illustrate the illustration.
This is hardly a dreadful martyrdom,
but is it an example of evolution, modification,
a malevolent twist of Darwinism,
of how most adaptations are less than beautiful,
far from practical?
The man with a coyote under his shed will most likely say “What is that damn coyote
doing under my shed?”
and not “What have we done to the world that coyotes are relegated
to sleeping under our sheds?”
And that is why,
when Tom tells me about the pigeons,
a girl in the room,
quite possibly with a coyote of her own in her backyard
and obviously unaware of the significance of these tiny birds,
merely says, “What did they do before there were bridges?”

MIKE MAHER is the founder and editor of Sea Giraffe, an online literary ‘zine. He currently reads, writes, edits, and walks his dog in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains. His poetry, fiction, and personal essays can be seen in publications like The Smoking Poet, The Ofi Press Magazine, Calliope, and Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure. While earning his BA in English from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, he served as the Vice President and Forum Editor of The Stroud Courier, winning the Jim Barniak Award for journalism twice during his time there. He also won the Martha E. Martin Award for poetry while at ESU.

THE CANCER RIDE by James Valvis

My grandmother, rest in peace,
waited for us down below
while we rode the roller-coaster,
hands raised, screaming at her.
Too sick to go on, she stood
near the exit. The bandana
on her bald head flapped
in the wind like paisley hair.
A wave of her small hand, tears
on her face, though I can’t recall
if they were tears of happiness
or something even more painful.
She should have been made a saint
right there, cheering us while
she rocked and tumbled inside,
raced a thousand miles per hour
in the most terrible of all directions.

JAMES VALVIS lives in Issaquah, Washington. His work has recently appeared in Atlanta Review, Confrontation, Eclipse, Hanging Loose, Nimrod, Pank, Rattle, Southern Indiana Review, and is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Crab Creek Review, Gargoyle, H_NGM_N, LA Review, Midwest Quarterly, New York Quarterly, River Styx, South Carolina Review, and many others. A book-length collection of his poems, How to Say Goodbye, is due in 2011.

AROUND NOON by George Bishop

When he died
someone had to remove
his watch, which many believe
was his actual cause of death.
Still in the shape of his wrist,
with his wilting scent nearby,
the seconds passed.
Just some piece of time
now, it, too, will stop
one day, come apart.
It’ll be shaken
for a few moments
as if the past should
appear or the future
might change.
And they do.

GEORGE BISHOP was raised on the Jersey Shore before moving to Florida in 1985. Recent work has appeared in Merge Review, White Pelican Review and Philadelphia Stories. His chapbook, Love Scenes, was released by Finishing Line Press in November 2009.

PUSHER by Brian Chapin

The faded purple plastic plaque in scratched faux-marble praised him: Best Psychiatrist 2000.  All I saw was a bored old fat man. His argyle socks, elastic shot, fell down fat pink ankles.  Crumbs from his breakfast (scrambled, wheat, hash) leapt from chin to chin, an army hopping islands in a sea of blubber.

I held her hand as she talked of death—our baby’s—of pain, of grief, drawn shades, and darkened rooms of three lives no longer lived. All the while, he played–with the Effexor letter opener or the Cymbalta scrip pad or his Zoloft sticky notes.

Finally, he raised his head and said, “How about we try Abilify?”

BRIAN CHAPIN lives outside of Washington, D.C.

SOMETIMES I FORGET by Angie Curneal Palsak

Sometimes I forget.
I will see a man with a gray beard
driving a blue car
and for a moment, I forget that he is dead.
Then I remember he is
and my heart sinks
like pennies do
when tossed into the wishing well
in the middle of a shopping mall.
I remember when my sister and I
ran to the fountain.
Little sneakers worn from play
slid like wet lips over the cold polished floor
and when her head hit the rail
her coin fell from her hand.
As he scooped her up and carried her away,
she cried over his shoulder,
begging me to find her lost wish.
But I still crawl, looking.

ANGIE CURNEAL PALSAK co-edits Ugly Cousin (an online journal for those who consider themselves “literary rejects”) and posts weekly on her blog about trying to balance “real” life and time for writing and art at angiecpalsak.blogspot.com .