by Tess F. Stevens
Thomas Jefferson takes off his powdered wig and sits near a gas lamp that hasn’t been useful since 1774. In the ghostly hours of the early morning, he pulls out his quill, dips it in some ink and starts to write. The tip of the instrument glides across the parchment in beautiful swipes of metallic black liquid.
He then jabs the quill through the paper, ripping it like a tissue. The satisfaction of it drives him mad. He snaps his quill and stands up from the rolltop desk and fixes his eyes on the gas lamp burning and crackling. For a moment he considers burning it all down, setting fire to the work and the hours he’s poured into this document. Should independence ever be allowed to happen, or is it better to succumb to the rule of a glorified captor forever?
That was when Jefferson was alive. Now, November, 8, 2016, he’s meeting with the other founding fathers. George Washington is the first to show up to their ghoulish meeting. They’ve commandeered the top of the Washington Monument, because Independence Hall was booked by early voters in Philadelphia.
Washington is perpetually disappointed. The afterlife has consisted of a constant struggle because, well, he was first. The first president to ever be, and he thought he had set a pretty good standard. In 2016, nearly 300 years after he left office, he’s thinking that standard could have been higher, considering how far we’ve sunk.
Washington’s earliness always bothers Ben Franklin, who could care less about the whole thing. Democracy was meant to allow people to choose, and he believes if the people have chosen Donald Trump it’s their will and that should be respected. The two sit on opposite sides of the top of the obelisk, its pointed roof causing their cascading sides to echo.
“Grab her by the pussy, huh Franklin,” says Washington with disdain.
“Well, it’s the will of the people.” Continue reading
art by Unitas
Editor’s note: Saira Viola’s following script for a TV series idea is on NetFlix’s shortlist for possible selection.
by Saira Viola
This Business is Killing Me
INT DALSTON GRITTY GARAGE LOCKUP. NIGHT
There are grubby stains on the walls, dust and debris, sealed boxes, cobwebs on the ceiling, disused broken furniture, a large stash of unopened radio equipment, a locked safety deposit box, an assortment of weapons including a Heckler and Koch 9mm. And an array of vacuum packed dildos, life sized inflatable rubber dolls and dozens of multi coloured rabbit vibrators.
What the fuck’s that?
(A monster sized purple rubber cock swings from a hook and smacks him in the chops. He ducks out of the way.)
Sorry boss that’s stock for the city boys’ corporate jamboree, you know their annual bonking fest.
(Grins, rolls his eyes.)
(Starts poking around in boxes and undoing packets removes some of the merchandise and inspects bits and pieces. Holds up a pack of circular discs.)
Not exactly Hugh Heffner is it Mickey? Bloody yellow butt plugs! All this tack feels like I’m in a Taiwanese brothel sadly without any of the talent. Get rid of this shit now!
(Starts packing the sex toys in boxes and crates and moves them to the far end of the lock up there is an old chair in the middle of the garage.)
(Turns to Tezza.)
Bring the lady in but before you do stick that on.
(He shoves a Ronald McDonald Halloween mask in his hand.)
And make sure she’s covered up before she sets foot in ‘ere. Mickey you got a choice of Michael Meyers, or our very own face of modern protest Guy Fawkes.
Decisions, decisions do I opt for our beloved antihero Mr. Fawkes or a psychopathic murderer idolized by slash artists and serial killers worldwide? Hmm, gotta be gunpowder Guy. Continue reading
by Joseph Siess
…Mother Mary & the Morning of Terrible Judgment…Mad
Dash to the Coast…Extreme Behavior on Av. Boa Viagem…
I came to around 6 am. The Pole sat on the far end of the couch, wide-eyed with a confused look on his thin face. A hazy morning light spilled onto the palm shrouded courtyard, and bizarre French music sounded from an unseen source.
“Good morning,” said the Pole through a wide, disheveled smile. “Just relax,” he added with a wave of the hand. “The coffee woman will be here soon.” He nodded in assurance, but his piercing stare confirmed my greatest fears. “Just take it easy, ok…”
“How long have we been here?” I croaked. I sat up, coughed and looked around the room, but my eyes remained heavy. I couldn’t recall anything from the past 12 hours.
Without answering, the Pole turned his back and walked into the kitchen.
I swung my feet onto the floor, ran my grimy hands through my tangled hair, took a deep breath and attempted to concentrate on the facts.
Splinters of memory seeped from my subconscious. I recalled four tabs, two of which were double-edged, a liter of Polish vodka and a jar of pickles. The faint odor of vomit jolted my memory and I remembered puking my guts out at some strange hour of the night.
Jimi Hendrix, Die Antwoord. The Argentines and the Australians. The Frenchman.
“Dear Lord,” I thought. “Here we go.”
MOTHER MARY & THE MORNING OF TERRIBLE JUDGMENT
The bizarre French music continued to waft on the salty, equatorial breeze that drafted into the room.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the mounted T.V. set in front of the couch, and to my horror, I saw a filthy, beach-combing wretch. I had slumped into a kind of tropical degeneracy during my time in Brazil, and the sight of myself filled my heart with loathing and disgrace.
I groped the dried juniper seeds hanging around my neck with quivering hands and bobbed back and forth. My legs were streaked with soot, and my straggly cut-off jean shorts were moist with perspiration. My stretched, loosely fitting t-shirt slid off my shoulder exposing my bony chest.
I was nervous, confused, and worst of all, completely whacked out of my skull on some of the most powerful shit I’d ever experienced.
The stuff had been working on me since the night before, and had not subsided in the least. “How long could this last?” I thought to myself. Grim thoughts plagued my twitching brain. Continue reading
image by Christopher Hunt
Excerpt of Chronicle III of Hell Bottled Up: Chronicles of a Late Propaganda Minister [Far Gone Books, 2016]
Ahhhh…tired, brain-dead, need stimuli badly–and not the kind that the University would ever sanction. I put out the feelers, and trusted my instincts regarding cost, quality, risk of deception… All the things potential drug-buyers must be aware of in advance.
There were twenty hours left in London, and they had to be good. Either a rabid gang bang, involving no less than twenty seniors at neighboring St. Mary’s Preparatory, or a high-speed helicopter cruise to Faroe Island, stuck between the Upper Hebrides and Iceland, or…
Through cigarette smoke, I saw a black beret rising slowly up the hotel stairs from the vantage point of my room. It was Felippe, which meant trouble of some rare and virulent form. And I knew, just out of simple goodwill–in the Christmas spirit–that I would buy whatever he was hawking and consume it instantly, in large quantities, and remained dazed throughout the tortuous eleven-hour flight back to LAX.
He carried a duffle bag with a huge Masterlock around the zipper. I felt a little giddy. Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway played on a stereo nearby. The company was an odd mix: three guys in the program, but not terribly close friends…just that ‘hey, it’s the last night here, so let’s figure out what this guy is all about, anyway’-type crowd. Which was neither good nor bad. In fact, it presented a unique challenge in coping with three mere acquaintances with a head-steam of black microdot. Which was what Felippe was carrying.
“This stuff’s burning my fingers, man!” he complained. “Take all you need. Cheap. Only five pounds a hit.”
Put on a simple sliding American/British scale, that wasn’t cheap. In fact, it converted to $8 a hit, compared to an average of three bucks in the United States…for acid. LSD. Yes, that’s what we’re talking about. Haggling over a five-dollar difference for a drug that will make you instantly forget such things as Money and Responsibilities and Basic Reality for at least ten hours.
So we bought a paltry five hits and shooed Felippe off like a dungfly, and then moseyed on downstairs to a larger room shared by Sam and Barry and Charlie. Sam preferred Marlboro’s to LSD, so we counted him out, and divvied up five hits between myself, Charlie–a happy-go-lucky leather/rocker, with the hair of Buffalo Bill and the temperament of Robin Williams–and Barry, who was a bit harder to figure.
Our first meeting hadn’t gone well. After cracking something about welfare bums and Social Security fraud, in one of Professor Schwartz’ lectures, Barry remarked that his father was on constant kidney dialysis, and that their family unit would not have survived without Federal assistance. And I felt bad. Not because of my opinions or theories, but that I might have caused this young man to consider his dad a loafer, a cheat and a parasite. Which wasn’t my intent at all.
And now I had to make it up to this figure with long stringy hair, two-inch black-painted fingernails, and the capacity to lash out an essay before the start of a class–longhand–half scratched out…and set the course curve. I admired Barry, although I wouldn’t trade whole lives.
Charlie was clearly game. But Barry was nervous, so I asked him if he’d ever taken mushrooms.
“Twice,” he said.
“No freakouts? No random spurts of yelling or thoughts of instant reincarnation into an Albanian bladderwort as being a beautiful thing?” I probed, hoping he could handle it.
“Nope,” he said simply, looking at the five children’s aspirin-sized pellets being crushed into a fine powder by Charlie, as he gleamed at the mock petri dish, “it was fun.”
Get it on. Continue reading
art by Unitas Quick
Read from Chapter One
“Superman don’t need no seat belt.” – Muhammad Ali
As Richard made his way back to his offices at Snow Hill, right next door to the Serious Fraud Office, he smiled to himself thinking of all those number drones at their desks. What would they think if they knew lawyers like him were right on their doorstep? It was that “wasp” mentality (white Anglo-Saxon pricks), that saved him from detection. They always picked on immigrants and people with foreign-sounding names much more than their own kind. His mobile phone kept bleeping. He had already missed twenty-seven calls. Could it be work related? The number looked familiar.
He checked his messages. Some of them were from his uncle Marvin who owned a gold shop in Hatton Garden not far from where he worked. He dialled the number wearily. (He would respond to the other messages afterwards; they were all from the same demanding wealthy client Seymour of Deer Hurst).
“Hi, Uncle Marvin. It’s me, Richie,” but it was his aunt who answered the phone.
“Oh Ritchie Bubblie, come over come over now, we’ve been robbed!”
“Don’t worry I’ll be round straight away.”
The thief had escaped with some of his personal items, including a gold Rolex watch and an envelope with his name on it. Richard’s heart missed one two three beats. Fuck the gold Rolli. That isn’t fucking important, he thought. He immediately called Eva at the office and told her he would be back late. Then he called his uncle again and told him not to report the theft to the “old bill,” at least not the loss of his items anyway.
Marvin was sceptical the insurance wouldn’t cough up the money to replace the stock if the theft wasn’t reported and he couldn’t afford to lose such a huge amount of money. Anyway, he had already reported most of the items to the police, but not Richard’s. They were kept separately in a smaller safe deposit box. Richard sighed; at least the “the old bill” had no idea of what was missing. He had to make some urgent calls and find Poncho Khan’s missing key and paper note with the encrypted figures or else they were all for the chop. Continue reading