The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Category: Fiction (page 2 of 11)

“All the Pretty Lights,” a short story by Alex Rosenfeld

For Lollie

 

Otieno (oh-tee-en-oh) feels lost, again. Lying on his bed, the Sixers game plays on the flat screen while the A/C forces the dust on the bookshelf to resettle. The bookshelf, really his wife’s bookshelf, encompasses both sides of the wall around the flat screen TV. A year’s worth of dust mars the spines. That must be her skin still existing in the world. On one of the shelves sit pictures of his parents, two of his best friends, and his beloved cat, Oliver. They’re all gone. Part of living as long as he has, he’s seventy-seven, has entailed outliving everyone he’s ever loved. Maybe he should have pushed his wife harder to have a kid. Then, at least he’d have someone, and he probably wouldn’t be contemplating how high to fill his rocks glass with brandy to wash down too many of the painkillers meant to manage his recent back pain.

Warm August air tiptoes through his apartment window – the apartment where he and his wife moved a few years ago when the house started feeling too big – while his eyes search the starless, moonless night. His shadow doesn’t reach up the wall as far as most men’s would, yet the shadow is enough for him to believe that the darkness isn’t just pressing in from the outside, but emanating from inside, too. He runs a hand through his gray, fading hair that sprouts unkempt above a receding hairline, as if present only to delay the inevitable. In the angled glass of the open window, the Sixers game reflects next to his face, which is so much older than the players’ faces on the screen. It didn’t use to be that way. Now his dark skin is worn down and sags away from his bones, away from him, as if it’s getting ready to leave him. He’s never used so many notches on a belt before.

Otieno doesn’t think about the TV being the only light in the room before turning it off. He lingers in his newfound darkness. Does it matter to have lights on when you live alone? The darkness speaks to his existence. He’s invisible. A retired insurance salesman living in Allentown, quiet Pennsylvania suburbia, with no reason to leave the house other than to buy groceries. Soon after his wife passed, he tried going to synagogue, hoping to meet people. The more he went to services, the more people talked to him about the importance of having God in his life, and the more it seemed God wasn’t going to save him. God appeared to have retired from burning bushes and parting seas. It seems modern day people don’t need miracles. They just need to believe in them. Continue reading

The Search for Alexander the Great by Charles Haddox

It’s strange how a person who would ordinarily be insignificant in one’s life, who should already be forgotten, remains in the memory simply because of an association with the first intense, passionate stirrings of love. Some dull, remote co-worker who introduced you to the man or woman of your dreams, for example, will forever be a part of a whole series of magical recollections, a minor character in one’s own personal fairy tale. For me, ugly, middle-aged Pauley Reddy, a ticket-seller at the Field Museum in Chicago, was just such a person.

    I worked for a time at a weekly tabloid-format entertainment publication in Chicago, where I held the inflated title of Film Editor. We had a Music Editor and an Arts Editor, as well as a Publisher—who my father-in-law would have called a “success story,” i.e., a trust fund baby—a motley group that along with me constituted the entire staff. All layout, sales, and production work was contracted out. I fell madly in love with the Arts Editor, Eliza Oberwitz, from my first day at the paper.

    One morning, the Music Editor, Mark Betts, and I decided to accompany Eliza to a traveling exhibit at the Field Museum that she was planning to review for our publication. The exhibit was called “The Search for Alexander the Great,” and I don’t remember a whole lot about it except that there were a bunch of Greek artifacts and stuff. Actually, I don’t even remember that much. I’m just assuming that there must have been. I spent the entire tour of the exhibition staring at Eliza, studying her smile and her walk, watching the enthusiasm in her eyes. She was born in England, and still retained a soft West Midlands accent—which sounded like music to me. Her family had moved to Chicago when she was fifteen. She still considered herself British, and had a snobbish preference for all things English. The only times I ever saw her act peevish or defensive were on those occasions when someone made negative comments in her presence about something related to England, however remotely. I remember her scathing response to an article Mark had written that was critical of the direction Kate Rusby’s career had taken. She told him in no uncertain terms that he knew nothing about English folk music, and had no right to pass judgement on what did or did not constitute genuine musical development. If it could be said that Eliza had one fault, it was her “Anglo-touchiness,” as Mark so aptly christened it. Eliza is the most wonderful person in the world, so it’s terribly unfair of me to focus on one of her only flaws. But her lovely English accent was part of what distracted me from putting more effort into “The Search for Alexander the Great,” as I listened delightedly to the questions that she asked the guide at every turn, comprehending little of what was actually said. Continue reading

“Hell’s Kitchen,” a short story by Karl Harshbarger

Continue reading

“The Movie Business,” a short story by Alan Swyer

Despite having moved up in the world from fledgling to promising and then to someone with actual screen credits, Cutler found himself stuck in one of what he called his Between Projects Blue Periods, funks that invariably started the moment he went from the precarious status of being Only the writer, Merely the writer, or Nothing but the writer to something far worse:  No longer the writer.  

He had been in Hollywood long enough to know that, with the exception of certain hyphenates — a handful of writer-directors, plus those fortunate writer-producers who happened to create a TV series — screenwriters were deemed at best a necessary evil, with the emphasis invariably on evil.  Their importance, to whatever degree such a term could be applied, ended the moment their final draft was turned in, which meant an instantaneous cessation of the phone calls and lunches designed to support a work-in-progress.

Though he detested Polish jokes, Cutler acknowledged that one was definitely on target:

Q:  How do you tell which actress in the cast is Polish?

A:  She’s the one fucking the writer.  

Continue reading

“Persistent Sunlight,” by M.J. Sions

Continue reading

“Piper,” a short story by Kale Bandy

I’m fast. Put me on the line, the gun in the air, the white girls next to me, and the Latinas talking right to the moment the powder ignites, and I blow by them. The wind on my skin tears the sweat from my arm hair as my muscles pump. 100 meters in and I’ll have the lead by the length of my outstretched legs. By the end of the race, the Latinas stare open-mouthed, and the white girls will wipe the supposedly waterproof mascara from their cheeks while I break the tape and take my place on the podium.

“Winner of the girls’ 400 meter run: Piper Dupree,” the announcer would say.

“Piper. Piper Dupree,” Mrs. G says snapping her fingers. My eyes snap to her for a moment before wandering to the white board behind her.

“Yeah, here,” I say rolling my eyes. She sees me, gives me the eye. I like Mrs. G, and if I graduate, I’ll miss her. She’s the only one who takes my shit. Continue reading

2017 Halloween Contest Winner: “Mouse” by Megan Taylor

Continue reading

2017 Halloween Contest Finalist: “Devil’s Trap” by Kimberly Saunders

Continue reading

2017 Halloween Contest Finalist: “Our One Night a Year,” by Chris Campeau

Continue reading

“The Baby,” a short story by Simona Galant

The baby appeared on the doorstep of 12.5 Pleasant Lane at 9:37 in the morning on Friday, while Kate was watching the local news and Andy was in the shower upstairs. There was a loud rap on the front door, and she thought briefly about her roommate Hannah’s excessive online shoe purchasing habit. Kate opened the door and was about to scream but the baby was asleep and she wanted to hear the news so she decided not to.

“Forecasts are looking steadily grim for Poughkeepsie this afternoon— the heat is proving itself relentless, and there have been reports of dogs melting in the streets. To prevent your dogs from melting we advise you to keep them inside. Should you happen to see a dog unattended be sure to remind it of the dangers of 116 degree weather, as they often do not watch the news.”

The baby was in a plastic bin without a lid, one of those Rubbermaid containers from Target with the foldable handles. It was laying on a purple fleece blanket that was folded hamburger-hotdog and was wearing a cop-themed jumpsuit. “My hero wears a badge!” was embroidered in swirly letters. Continue reading

Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 The Furious Gazelle

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑