Monthly Archives: June 2014

109 PARK PLACE, RICHMOND, CA

   

by C. R. Stapor

 

Chuck and I were driving home the other night when I said –

> No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no, nah, but what about this – follow me here – a living room for hire by the hour?

> Where?

> Anywhere – no – fancytown. Who buys designer trousers?

> The city. Marin –

> ummmm –

> Point Richmond.

> Right.

> Right. But Stapes, who’d pay for something they already have at home?

> Who wouldn’t?

Next day I walked down to the point, found the perfect storefront. Nice quiet spot next to a theater. Dialed up the phone on the rental ad, scheduled a meeting. Over a couple lagers I explained the idea. How it would work or what it would say.

> So it’s not just a pitch. There’s an aesthetic element.

> You got it. Installation of concept. Perpetual vanity of the double caught checking itself in the twinned rearview. Dollar signs like daisies over the eternal return.

> Huh.

He gave me a month. For the hell of it, gratis, to prove a point. Something about the neighbors, honoring the true culture of the stage.

> They’ve been acting from the audience since ’96. Figure, two can play that record.

> Damn right.

It took nine days to set everything up. Furniture, website, social media blitz, couple fliers, few nights over a few bars, word of mouth, the buzz. Yes traction, yes demand. Opening weekend already overbooked. Excellent at $115.00 an hour.

I put on a tie. Talked to a reporter, two bloggers, couple drunks visiting from Fresno. Did the host bit proper, the business guy next-gen. Another man of the moment. And then, after about thirty hours, the moment was gone.

> Christ as fuck!

Hypefall attained I settled into the core mission of accommodating my regulars. They say sustainability. At that point there were five: Janice, a housewife married to a traveling salesman; Tony who was learning to paint by numbers; then Juan, only twenty, who supported his family via two and a half jobs; finally the happy role-playing couple of Sarah and Steve, for whom the rented living space acted as a temporal portal back to their younger, happier days. Among them they were ordering over sixty hours a week. Sustainability what?

> Is that Ikea?

> It looks like Ikea.

> It’s not Ikea.

Not everyone got it. Regulars tapering off. Whether it was gimmick or grand reflection was pointless in the end. Soon it would be over.

> You’re shutting it down Stapes?

> Chuck, sometimes you gotta let a great thing go. Yeah, I’m shutting her down.

I put Juan in charge. Gave him the keys, passcodes, landlord’s number. His family moved in the next week, though Juan spun it like a public exhibition. Blinds pulled, front door open to all.

City shut that down about six hours.

> So the ‘other’ couldn’t get a permit?

> Not in this town Chuck. Damn. Chinese?

 

C. R. Stapor is a writer, rambler, and raconteur. He currently lives in Tennessee, where he’s working on a novel titled The Accidents. His hobbies include bicycles, chopsticks, and bourbon.  

 

 

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A Bust of Pallas

by Chris Bullard

 

When Gehry designed the headquarters for my silicon chip company I asked him to leave a space for a grand head, something from the Renaissance, perhaps, that would give our lobby a presence that would equal the elegance of our Saarinen furniture and match the majesty of the great expanse of windows overlooking the valley. His concept for a space to contain this effigy was a box made of tiger maple that was erected over the central entrance to our offices. It was a handsome box and I’m sure that many of our employees spent their lunchtimes discussing what wondrous work of art would eventually fill it.

Almost a year later I found in an auction catalogue exactly what I had been thinking of – a large bust of Pallas attributed to Verrocchio. The goddess of wisdom – what could be a better fit for a company committed to new ways of doing things? I purchased it at some considerable expense to the company and had it rushed to our site.

This turned out to be a disaster. I hadn’t checked the measurements. When we had it hoisted to the empty box that was to display it, I found that it exceeded the space allowed by several inches.

I immediately called on my head of research and explained the problem to him. There was, of course, much joking about consulting one head about another head, but after the repartee died down, my research head offered a plan to shrink the head to fit its display space. He explained that our computers could measure each millimeter of the head with lasers and then abrade it with precision milling equipment that would keep its proportions exactly the same while decreasing the relative size of the bust. I gave my approval at once.

Unfortunately, a mistake in calculating the ratios of the surface of the bust resulted in a head reduced to the size of a pepper shaker. Now, I had a bust, which in all aspects was exactly as the great Verrocchio had made it except greatly decreased in size. I was heartsick and could barely speak to my head of research and those picked staff members who had accompanied him to give me the bad news.

I took the tiny head with me to my office and placed it on my Nakashima desk. I could barely look at it. But then I had an epiphany. Just as my company had succeeded in shrinking certain household electronics (computers, telephones, etc.) to a more convenient and transportable size, so had I succeeded in reducing this imposing work of art to useful proportions. This was not a disaster, but a triumph.

Since then I have found that I can carry the bust in the pocket of my Armani suit and transport it with me to wherever I conduct meetings or evaluate my employees. Whenever I need an idea I can place it on my desk or merely touch its contours in my pocket and receive what I must call a jolt of inspiration. Many of my best ideas have come while I had access to my pocket Pallas and our staff psychologists have confirmed that my net creativity has increased by approximately 20%.

As for the space above the entrance to our office, I have had placed there an imposing bust of Medusa with her snake hair. To me her image represents the embodiment of competition. Those who visit our headquarters may look upon her and despair.

 

Chris Bullard is a native of Jacksonville, FL. He lives in Collingswood, NJ, and works for the federal government as an Administrative Law Judge. WordTech Editions published his first full-length book of poetry, Back, in November of 2013. Kattywompus Press published his third chapbook, Dear Leatherface, in January of 2014.

 

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Endings

   

by Jane Eaton Hamilton

 

First, you will fall in love with me. You will enjoy my enthusiasm for sex. I am many things you are not, and you are many things I am not. You will like some of the many things I am, including an author, and you will dislike others, including my age and size. I will like some of the many things you are, including a film buff and articulate, and I will dislike others, including that you are too young and too thin. You will be nonplussed at how strong your emotions are and at first they will scare you; you will not know what to do with them. You will say you’ve never been in love like this before. You will want me to hear this, because it’s important to you. Over time, you will adapt to your feelings, and you will start thinking things that you have not thought about for years. You will have generative thoughts – thoughts about whether a relationship between us might work, and if so, what the particulars would look like, whether there would be a moving in, and if so, would I move in with you, would you move in with me, or would we sell our places and buy a new place and start that way, fresh? I will be having some of the same thoughts, though I will register them as rogue, and say (relentlessly) that we must wait until we’ve known each other longer and weathered some difficulties. I like the happy you! But do I like the ill you, the cranky you, the fed up you, the angry you? If you are poly, you will find yourself surprised to sacrifice your ideals to monogamy, a lesser system. Suddenly, you will want to build me a house. You will find yourself thinking about marriage, about which you may or may not agree. You don’t see why I would crave it, after my divorce, but you will conclude that I do. You will ask me about pets. You will tell me my mattress is horrible. You will be pleased that sex, always terrific, gets better over time as we learn each other’s bodies. You will be terribly sorry I’m sick, and terribly sorry that you could lose me, and this will be a struggle for you, but one you will manage, proudly, to surmount; there is something noble about loving a cripple. You will find your self esteem, always somewhat of an issue, rising, your mood improving. You will tell me that you love me after only a few weeks together, perhaps when you didn’t even plan to do so, during the rise towards orgasm. You will swoon when finally I, somewhat more parsimoniously, say it back to you. I will mean it. You will mean it. There will be a brief flutter, like a heart taking wing behind ribs, when this common love will soar. I will remind you, though, that I cannot commit, other than committing to seeing only you while we discover our relationship. You will not understand this. What does it mean? I don’t know if I want to be your partner, I’ll say. But you are already there! you will say. But I am not, I will repeat. But both of us are hopeful. You will be anxious that you love too much and that this is a pattern for you. Me, I am just trying to be sensible. Alcohol may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Anxiety may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Aggressiveness may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Tender loving care may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Differences will sprout like bulb snouts from our tender spring skin, which we were too dazzled and too busy in bed to see before. You will start to notice that I am distant, or that I want too much of your time, or that I have a very odd schedule, and that I really prefer my privacy to your company, and I will notice things about you which are also red flags. You are anorexic. You are a thrill seeker. You don’t actually engage politically. You are obsessed with alcohol. You are overly emotional. You are controlling. You have OCD. I won’t know, right away, whether those are behaviours I can or cannot live with long term, but I will be suspecting not. You will start feeling hurt, and jealous. You will watch me very closely on FB. You will wish I’d call more often, or at least set a dependable time for us to talk every day. When I don’t manage to make the kind of contact you want, you will rationalize that I have a lot on my plate. You will also realize that you are more in love with me than I am with you. You will say that I am clearly not ready for a relationship.

Here is what will happen next:

You will break up with me, or I will break up with you.

It really doesn’t matter.

 

Jane Eaton Hamilton is the author of several books. Her poetry collection “Love Will Burst Into a Thousand Shapes” is coming out fall 2014 from Caitlin. She has published in the NY Times, Seventeen magazine, Salon, Numero Cinq, Macleans, Numero Cinq, the Globe and Mail, the Missouri Review, Ms blog, the Alaska Quarterly Review and many other places.

 

 

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The Stove

by Brian Lance

 

Gramp left at dawn. Side job. I found his note under the Coco Puffs box. Temp’s dropping today. Light the stove early. Right after church. Move Gram’s new Jesus so the heat doesn’t warp the frame. Think you can handle that? I’d never lit the stove. I called Rene next door. She had the same cast-iron potbelly. And with her father often gone, she’d lit plenty of fires.

Rene told me to pack the stove with newspaper and pine shards from a wainscoting job my grandfather did. She handed me a long wooden match.

‘Strike it here,’ she said, pointing to the bottom of the match tube. ‘Good. Now get it in there before it dies out.’

Flames leapt from the paper to the pine and then flapped out the stove. Smoke stung our eyes, squeezed tears from them. I went to slam the hatch.

‘No!’ Rene grabbed my wrist. ‘Let it burn.’

We watched the stove. The sudden heat from Rene’s fingers between mine twisted something in my chest. When the first flames settled, we fed the stove damp poplar until dusk.

‘Who painted that one?’ Rene pointed at the watercolor Jesus touching the Sacred Heart above the hearth.

My stomach gurgled. How could I forget?

‘Gram,’ I said.

Gramp’s boots clunked outside. His tool bag thumped. I swung the door open, sweating under the gaze of my grandmother’s Jesus.

‘Smoky in here,’ he said. His nose twitched like a dog’s. He headed toward the bathroom. ‘Well, glad to see you figured it out. Fifteen and never lit a….’ He froze. A strip of red satin peaked from between the couch cushions. He squinted at the glow under the bathroom door. A shadow moved in the beam. Gramp smirked.

 

Brian Lance is an MFA in Writing student at Western Connecticut State University. He earned a bachelor’s of science in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. And he served nine years in the U.S. Navy. He was selected to attend the Yale Writer’s Conference in June. He lives in Connecticut.

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