Stories

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SEE WHAT YOU’RE MAKING ME DO?

“She encountered men like this regularly—men who confused curious exploration with exploitative pillaging. It was like Columbus confusing discovery with systemic genocide.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
LET’S JUST BE SAD FOR RIGHT NOW

“For the first time since I can remember, tragedy hadn’t united us as a people. It only established a temporary bridge across the schism—the pretext of which was that we were obliged to patronize each other by feigning to forget our differences—and shortly after we were delivered back to our comfortable compartments under the misapprehension that our ideals were the true vehicle for national ascension. Divided and happier for it.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
B & E

“Because things change too quickly and too easily. They vacillate. Security is supplanted by acute vulnerability in an instant, and it feels excruciatingly human. But, more than anything, it feels terribly American. Like there was something painfully punctilious about the way it was always subverted.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
PROPAGANDA

“He wondered when this happened—when his idea of what it meant to be home was refurbished. When his identity was reconstituted. But he didn’t really care. But maybe he did and it was just buried down too deep. Whatever. He didn’t have time to think about it.”

by Joshua Rodriguez

RIVER DECANTED

“History refuses to stay annexed in the past.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
THE COIN SPIDER, PT. 6

“The coin spider’s only purpose in life, aside from merely surviving, is passing on its DNA to the next generation. In fact, this memetic fate is what drives the smaller ones together—either encroachment or coitus—to kill themselves or their competition, given only one chance to fulfill their congenital legacy. It’s what gets them up in the morning. And while the male—irrationally but perhaps nobly—thrusts forward toward his patriarchal, suicidal fate, the female eats well and takes in the helix of genetic code from dozens of mates in a given season, and hold the life- inducing threads in her spermatheca until she decides to move on with the process. This singular sexual execution it the only thing that drives evolution, perpetuates progress, keeps the species eternally alive. The same could be said of…Delia.”

by Ty Hall
FLÜCHTLINGE

“He found solace in the strange dichotomy of the communist state: how everyone has everything, but everyone has nothing.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
THE COIN SPIDER, Pt. 5

“The coin spider transmits information via vibrations (through the web), and sight (usually through a kind of interpretive dance). Each spider has its own style, take, or opinion of what other spiders want to know, and that’s what it broadcasts. Any perceived hierarchy within the greater subphylum Chelicerata is almost entirely arbitrary, much like their communications. The same could be said of late 20th-century news media.”

by Ty Hall
BLACK FRIDAY

“When meaning is measured out in how much one can consume and stockpile, it becomes excruciatingly clear: if you can never have enough, then you can never be enough.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
I Am Not the Fist

“It went on like this for a while. This was part of how they got their plan together. Some of us they picked to keep, while others were gone by breakfast the next day. No explanation. But then farmers don’t bother telling much to the chickens. Still, I keep telling people all the time what’s really going on. They are never going to listen.”

by Shel Compton
The Coin Spider, Pt. 4

“The coin spider, not infrequently, has been documented to engage in homosexual behavior. Males may court, mount, and blow their paps into members of the same gender and species. Usually, it’s chalked up to mistaken identity, but not always, according to scientists and obvious size discrepancy. It’s just in their nature. The same could be said of Ryan. ”

by Ty Hall
BRAINSTORMS

“Whenever any students entertained the notion they were favored, or acted as if they were in that favored position, they became the subject of his abjuration.”

by John Tavares
POLTERGEIST

“He wanted to cry. From fear or desperation or whatever the fuck. He felt small and spent and empty.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
The Coin Spider Pt. 3

“The coin spider has but one lover its entire life (the smaller one at least) which in its own way is kind of romantic. The female sits her orb like a queen, waiting for the males to chase her (they always do, the males). Singularly driven and single-mindedly monogamous (the self-elimination of its paps ensures it) as if the poor blokes had a choice. It’s in their nature.”

by Ty Hall
Self Storage

“Why did you have to come down on me so hard fora short paper about a lousy sexist John Updike short story?”

by John Tavares
THE COIN SPIDER, Pt. 2

“Sex is suicide for one of the [coin] spiders, and it wasn’t going to be the poppet. The same could be said of Delia.”

by Ty Hall
THE COIN SPIDER, Pt. 1

“Lisle Masons was the payoff of a genetic lottery combination rolling out of incestuous copulation, boredom, and methamphetamine, drawn when his parents were strung out like trailer-park Christmas lights in July.”

by Ty Hall
OLD MAN

“Life is a whore wrapped in rags, you pearls. Praying in the deep, you pearls, starry eyed lumps of earth–gyönyörü göoröngyök–iredescent in your middling life.”

by Csilla Scharle
FAREWELL PROTECTION

“Her stubbornness is to be adored. She could have gone to war.”

by Jordan Clark
LORELEI

“Bartenders are supposed to be amateur psychologists, right?”

by Joshua Rodriguez
EXCERPT (Chapter 10) from “FAMINE: Get the hell outta here while you still can”

“But that’s the thing about drinking: it’s a Trojan horse. It works until it doesn’t. Then it turns on you. It’s like learning a magician’s tricks. Once the magic is whisked away and the facade is shattered, everything just becomes a sad recursive spectacle. The nights get sadder and the mornings get rougher.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
EXCERPT (Chapter 8) from FAMINE: Get the hell outta here while you still can

“People are overrated in general. All they ever do is leave you heartbroken and lonely. Even the good ones–their trick is that they’re just better at disguising it.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
REMOTE CONTROLLED

“Everyone aches in their own way; we’re only really unique in the ways we suffer. It becomes a defining characteristic for everyone.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
SMOKE FROM A DYING FIRE

“Every post and Tweet felt like some kind of surrender. Like a species in crisis forfeiting pieces of itself—conceding critical parts of their composition—for the sake of deified convenience and progress. They’d annexed themselves from the natural world. From the evolutionary ladder. From reified existence. Every inane Tweet and asinine Instagram post seemed like smoke from a dying fire. ”

by Joshua Rodriguez
THIS THING

“So Allen showered and got dressed, and wondered if agency ever existed, or if it was like the idea of God: a lie we tell ourselves to mitigate the impact of the world and all its fucking chaos and the way we have no choice but to adhere”

by Joshua Rodriguez
ET CETERA

“He felt constantly monitored by unseen agents. Envoys of progress. Unrestrained surveillance was a facet of modernity. That’s what Carter was conditioned to believe, anyway. He felt delivered to the rarified planes of progress like a breeched birth: ass first.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
DISENCHANTED

“What began as a fun and novel way to trace your ethnic lineage metamorphosed into a way to determine what foods you should buy, which metamorphosed into what specific vocations you have a genetic aptitude for, thus relegating people to various vocations they wouldn’t have otherwise been attracted to.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
BELEAGUERED

“People are drawn to negativity and disaster like flies to shit.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
Windows

“All I could do was stand there with tears, staining my cheeks, and think about everything that could possibly go wrong in the next 20 hours.”

by David Estringel
Why Try

by Howie Good
When Blood Wants Blood

“St. Teresa keeps death at bay. St. Michael and The Heart of Jesus, which are significantly larger than the other figures, are prominent, flanking either side of the spiritual table, drawing in—and out—energies of protection—and at the same time mercy: the two things I find myself increasingly in need of these days.”

by David Estringel
Holy Hell

“Don’t try sending anyone here to help. I don’t know what the fuck they’d do besides act like they were doing something.”

by Howie Good
The People vs. Sam Wallace

“It must be nerve-racking to have a soul.”

by Sam Wallace
EMISSARY FROM BOGOTA

“Discretion is the better part of valor.”

by John Tavares
INTO THE MYSTIC

“There’s one thing I’m going to say if I get the chance. I’m going to stare into the abyss on the verge of my totally unforeseen death and say, ‘You made it too hard.'”

by Sheldon Lee Compton
CEREMONY

“Slow and steady, direct and onward. He kept the bat down by his side as he rumbled down the hill at a fixed clip. As he approached, Jukka pictured them dragging off their bounty of dead animals from their sacred land with a collective, greedy smile.”

by Patrick Trotti
CEMETERY TEETH

“Lily will not have calmed and I’ll have been fixated on her gums, hoping nature won’t beat nurture to a pulp.”

by Jordan Clark
KISS YOUR ASS GOODBYE

“There are always more volunteers than available on the firing squad.”

by Howie Good
ROADKILL

“The groundless of what seemed like a constant free-fall was beginning to wear on me. I was always in my head, and when I was lucky enough to be present–really present–I felt pressed by the weight of it all–my life–and hyper conscious of the meat that burdened my leaden bones.”

by David Estringel
SHUTTERED IN

“There’s something fundamentally American about self-imposed alienation.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
The Kentucky Sun

“The cigarettes were never that satisfying, and the beer never stayed cold for some reason. Romance had a tendency to be out of season; no one ever did figure that one out.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS

“Every Other Fan in attendance who cheered as his team was humiliated constituted this faceless, monolithic injustice. They were accessories to Steve’s shame.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
CASUALTY

“Every revolution is freighted with its casualties.

by Joshua Rodriguez
MONKEY BUSINESS

“Peter stared into the park teeming with primordial darkness, like it cradled a black hole. Like a dead screen.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
OFFICE POLITICS

“That’s the luxury of authority: you can tailor the status quo to accommodate your desires.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
BLACK FRIDAY

“When meaning is measured out in how much one can consume and stockpile, it becomes excruciatingly clear: if you can never have enough, then you can never be enough.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
FRATERNITY

“Most things worth doing are going to be hard.”

Joshua Rodriguez
QUE DIJE

“Floodwater don’t do nothin’ but rise.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
TEALEAVES

“He wondered if the future was always codified in the past’s rubble–a cadaver exhumed from the conflagration.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
Unnecessarily Necessary

“Welcome to the modern world, where the unnecessary is necessary.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
The Blues are a Motherfucker

“We birth our blues and try to abandon them like bastard children. But they always come back to us. The blues are a motherfucker, I’ll tell you what.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
COLLECTIVE GOOD

“It’s an immutable fact of aging: you petulantly cling to past ideals for diminishing buoyancy.”

by Joshua Rodriguez
To Live and then Die in California

“That was my running gag for many years, to live and die in California and how tragic that would be.”

by Spencer Smith
LIKE ACID

“Sometimes there’s no getting better; there’s just getting by.”

by Joshua Rodriguez