I was lying in the sand when I heard the screams in the water. “Help! Help!” I sat up and my eyes adjusted to the bright ocean. Four massive men, hands waving as a limp body was lifted and dropped back into the waves. I shot a glance to the lifeguard station, where a lithe blonde boy in red shorts gazed off the balcony with indifference. I thought, “I guess it’s all okay. Lifeguard Boy is just hanging out. Maybe it’s a game.” But as more beachgoers stood up to look at the scene, it dawned that this was real. I hopped up from my towel, dashed out into the swell of waves, pausing briefly to see if I had left my phone on me. Thank God, I thought, I really didn’t want to get my phone wet. It’s one of the new ones. 
All the brawn between the giants was futile in the aftermath of a storm. As they pulled the drowned man up by his feet and hands, he kept slipping back under the shallow water. “The middle! Get the middle,” I yelled. No one seemed to understand this, so I wrapped my arms under the body and pulled it against me, his chest collapsing into mine, his head draped over my shoulder. I began to crabwalk him out of the shoreline while the others held his feet and hands. Another kept his head steady – the neck broken, sea foam from his lungs gurgling out and down my back. 
“Get him to the shore, get him to the shore!” We hobbled the body clumsily while the waves kept trying to knock us down. Five drunk babies carrying a limp dog. From a distance, we must’ve looked like French comedians pretending to be a Seal Team. 
As we arrived at the shore, a dozen lifeguards rushed up by foot and Jeep, barking verbiage like auctioneers. I could only think of how goddamn attractive they were, how there are no ugly lifeguards in Southern California. This was a day after a Mexican hurricane, named Marie - a nice girl, became a tropical storm, making the biggest southern swells in 18 years. She exploded shipping containers of Walmart wear and old tires, soda bottles and baby backpacks up along the SoCal coast. And now, as she drifted off into the silence of a cloud, she left remnant waves for tourists to die in. Business was booming for these Boy Scouts in Speedos. 
I was a just an abeyant pedestrian now, gazing in idle tension with the lumpy tourists, board-shorted toe heads, beach bums and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists of Venice Beach. CPR began its administration. More lifeguards arrived, and most stood dormant while the team leader breathed and pumped away on the body. I was certain this guy was chosen by virility and looks because the motherfucker was a dead-ringer for Eddie Redmayne. This went on, “No pulse! No pulse! Clear! Again! 1-2-3-4-5-6!”  
A board was pulled from atop a yellow Jeep and they lifted the swollen body atop it to make a flat surface for their work. “Again! 1-2-3-4-5!” Nothing. Two dumpy girls in black bikinis stood nearby, whimpering, “Oh my God,” and taking turns holding each other in a theater of grief.  I wanted to tell them, It’s okay. He’s free now. When I carried him in, his neck was snapped and I felt his spirit floating above his body. But then I figured, might be a bit much for basic bitches.
A yellow pickup truck that’d been fashioned into a giant beach rescue Lego toy, kicked up sand like a kid. Men jumped out and seamlessly hooked an oxygen tank around the drowner’s face. The board he laid on was hurriedly walked toward the back of the truck with such clumsy abandon they nearly broke his dangling arm against the edge of the bumper. They peeled out and off, six lifeguards over the body in the back of the truck. Eddie Redmayne the squad leader, disappeared to the horizon. I pictured him later that night, all sexy and sad, in some dreamlike Tiki bar, parlaying the heroic sob story of his day into a blowjob from a girl in marketing.  
 We were all alone now on the beach, leftovers at a party with no music to dance to.  I got some ice cream. 
My phone. My sweet, sweet phone. I texted a few folks the generals. “Yeah,” I typed at their disbelief. “It was real as fuck. Dead dude puke on me.” The rest of my day was intensely present, focused. I could hear more sounds in the air and see further. I felt stronger, bigger. I wanted someone to come up with a switchblade and try to take my wallet. I wanted a bus to try to run me down so I could hold out my hand and feel the entire mass of it fold around me like foil. 
Condolences came in calls and texts. “I heard you pulled a guy from the water! WTF!” And, “You okay, bro? Heard you had a heavy day.” I was fine, but yes, I did have a heavy day. I’d brushed with death, faced it head on. I was deserving of the well wishes and attaboys. I was a sixth grade girl at her locker, crying about the great-grandma she met once. My girlfriends all holding me as we passed sniffles and blubbers around. “I love you, Stacy. I’m so sorry,” as the cute boys walked past us, tilting their heads to see what was wrong with me. “Nothing, Darren,” my bff says to him, “Stacy’s gramma died.” Darren looks at me, he’s in love with me. “I’m sorry Stace.” 
The next day, I played it all back. The body in my arms, his limp neck. Fifteen minutes of CPR. I’d seen TV shows. If he’s not alive in 3 minutes, it’s time for a commercial. “We lost him, doctor. Go home to your wife.” But something tugged at me. Google it. I typed in the keywords. Venice Beach, drowning. It popped up. NBC Los Angeles. “Chicago Man In Grave Condition After Nearly Drowning At Venice Beach.”
Wait. NEARLY? Fuck, he’s alive? Maybe in a coma, maybe they’re harvesting him by Friday, but he’s alive. My, “I pulled a Dead Dude/Dead Guy Puke” story was now a lie. I was a fraud. Stacy’s great-grandmother wasn’t dead, she had the tubes in at the hospital. Stacy was a liar and everyone was going to find out. 
A ding came from my phone. Sam. “Dude - heard you pulled a dead guy from the ocean. Sorry, man. Intense. U ok?” 
I sat with a bottle in my hand. Stella. Was I okay? Of course he was from Chicago. I’d just moved from there. I was starting over. I killed my old self and just held the buttery body in my arms. It was written in the old and new testament, the killing of self and rebirth. I became a symbol, I was living proof. Metaphor, motherfuckers. 
I knew the dash-dash dots were flickering on the other end of the phone at Sam. He wanted the conclusion. I weighed the truth against the story. I could continue the lie. Yes, yes I did pull a dead dude from Chicago from the California Ocean. I could let my tale grow tall and full and envelop the story of my own life that I was writing, sharing into the sphere of Facebook. I sipped the beer and clicked it out with a sigh. “Actually, he survived.” 
The power of the Chicago Tourist fell away. His death became fiction. I was in the Army but never saw active duty, no combat, no shit. I was just a normal person, a beach snoozer in wet khakis with a warm beer. 
Sam typed back without a beat. “He survived? Holy shit. You saved his life. You’re a hero!”
I felt it well up inside me, bright and tickling in my stomach, fanning out through my arms. I saved his life. I shared the NBC article with all of them, that bright flickering world. “He lived.” The love and adoration came back to me all over again in dings and chimes. This time bigger, more validating. My phone survived and so did he. I wasn’t a normal person anymore. I was a fucking hero. 


THE END.

Full Issue Here

I was lying in the sand when I heard the screams in the water. “Help! Help!” I sat up and my eyes adjusted to the bright ocean. Four massive men, hands waving as a limp body was lifted and dropped back into the waves. I shot a glance to the lifeguard station, where a lithe blonde boy in red shorts gazed off the balcony with indifference. I thought, “I guess it’s all okay. Lifeguard Boy is just hanging out. Maybe it’s a game.” But as more beachgoers stood up to look at the scene, it dawned that this was real. I hopped up from my towel, dashed out into the swell of waves, pausing briefly to see if I had left my phone on me. Thank God, I thought, I really didn’t want to get my phone wet. It’s one of the new ones. 

All the brawn between the giants was futile in the aftermath of a storm. As they pulled the drowned man up by his feet and hands, he kept slipping back under the shallow water. “The middle! Get the middle,” I yelled. No one seemed to understand this, so I wrapped my arms under the body and pulled it against me, his chest collapsing into mine, his head draped over my shoulder. I began to crabwalk him out of the shoreline while the others held his feet and hands. Another kept his head steady – the neck broken, sea foam from his lungs gurgling out and down my back. 

“Get him to the shore, get him to the shore!” We hobbled the body clumsily while the waves kept trying to knock us down. Five drunk babies carrying a limp dog. From a distance, we must’ve looked like French comedians pretending to be a Seal Team. 

As we arrived at the shore, a dozen lifeguards rushed up by foot and Jeep, barking verbiage like auctioneers. I could only think of how goddamn attractive they were, how there are no ugly lifeguards in Southern California. This was a day after a Mexican hurricane, named Marie - a nice girl, became a tropical storm, making the biggest southern swells in 18 years. She exploded shipping containers of Walmart wear and old tires, soda bottles and baby backpacks up along the SoCal coast. And now, as she drifted off into the silence of a cloud, she left remnant waves for tourists to die in. Business was booming for these Boy Scouts in Speedos. 

I was a just an abeyant pedestrian now, gazing in idle tension with the lumpy tourists, board-shorted toe heads, beach bums and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists of Venice Beach. CPR began its administration. More lifeguards arrived, and most stood dormant while the team leader breathed and pumped away on the body. I was certain this guy was chosen by virility and looks because the motherfucker was a dead-ringer for Eddie Redmayne. This went on, “No pulse! No pulse! Clear! Again! 1-2-3-4-5-6!”  

A board was pulled from atop a yellow Jeep and they lifted the swollen body atop it to make a flat surface for their work. “Again! 1-2-3-4-5!” Nothing. Two dumpy girls in black bikinis stood nearby, whimpering, “Oh my God,” and taking turns holding each other in a theater of grief.  I wanted to tell them, It’s okay. He’s free now. When I carried him in, his neck was snapped and I felt his spirit floating above his body. But then I figured, might be a bit much for basic bitches.

A yellow pickup truck that’d been fashioned into a giant beach rescue Lego toy, kicked up sand like a kid. Men jumped out and seamlessly hooked an oxygen tank around the drowner’s face. The board he laid on was hurriedly walked toward the back of the truck with such clumsy abandon they nearly broke his dangling arm against the edge of the bumper. They peeled out and off, six lifeguards over the body in the back of the truck. Eddie Redmayne the squad leader, disappeared to the horizon. I pictured him later that night, all sexy and sad, in some dreamlike Tiki bar, parlaying the heroic sob story of his day into a blowjob from a girl in marketing.  

 We were all alone now on the beach, leftovers at a party with no music to dance to.  I got some ice cream. 

My phone. My sweet, sweet phone. I texted a few folks the generals. “Yeah,” I typed at their disbelief. “It was real as fuck. Dead dude puke on me.” The rest of my day was intensely present, focused. I could hear more sounds in the air and see further. I felt stronger, bigger. I wanted someone to come up with a switchblade and try to take my wallet. I wanted a bus to try to run me down so I could hold out my hand and feel the entire mass of it fold around me like foil. 

Condolences came in calls and texts. “I heard you pulled a guy from the water! WTF!” And, “You okay, bro? Heard you had a heavy day.” I was fine, but yes, I did have a heavy day. I’d brushed with death, faced it head on. I was deserving of the well wishes and attaboys. I was a sixth grade girl at her locker, crying about the great-grandma she met once. My girlfriends all holding me as we passed sniffles and blubbers around. “I love you, Stacy. I’m so sorry,” as the cute boys walked past us, tilting their heads to see what was wrong with me. “Nothing, Darren,” my bff says to him, “Stacy’s gramma died.” Darren looks at me, he’s in love with me. “I’m sorry Stace.” 

The next day, I played it all back. The body in my arms, his limp neck. Fifteen minutes of CPR. I’d seen TV shows. If he’s not alive in 3 minutes, it’s time for a commercial. “We lost him, doctor. Go home to your wife.” But something tugged at me. Google it. I typed in the keywords. Venice Beach, drowning. It popped up. NBC Los Angeles. “Chicago Man In Grave Condition After Nearly Drowning At Venice Beach.”

Wait. NEARLY? Fuck, he’s alive? Maybe in a coma, maybe they’re harvesting him by Friday, but he’s alive. My, “I pulled a Dead Dude/Dead Guy Puke” story was now a lie. I was a fraud. Stacy’s great-grandmother wasn’t dead, she had the tubes in at the hospital. Stacy was a liar and everyone was going to find out. 

A ding came from my phone. Sam. “Dude - heard you pulled a dead guy from the ocean. Sorry, man. Intense. U ok?” 

I sat with a bottle in my hand. Stella. Was I okay? Of course he was from Chicago. I’d just moved from there. I was starting over. I killed my old self and just held the buttery body in my arms. It was written in the old and new testament, the killing of self and rebirth. I became a symbol, I was living proof. Metaphor, motherfuckers. 

I knew the dash-dash dots were flickering on the other end of the phone at Sam. He wanted the conclusion. I weighed the truth against the story. I could continue the lie. Yes, yes I did pull a dead dude from Chicago from the California Ocean. I could let my tale grow tall and full and envelop the story of my own life that I was writing, sharing into the sphere of Facebook. I sipped the beer and clicked it out with a sigh. “Actually, he survived.” 

The power of the Chicago Tourist fell away. His death became fiction. I was in the Army but never saw active duty, no combat, no shit. I was just a normal person, a beach snoozer in wet khakis with a warm beer. 

Sam typed back without a beat. “He survived? Holy shit. You saved his life. You’re a hero!”

I felt it well up inside me, bright and tickling in my stomach, fanning out through my arms. I saved his life. I shared the NBC article with all of them, that bright flickering world. “He lived.” The love and adoration came back to me all over again in dings and chimes. This time bigger, more validating. My phone survived and so did he. I wasn’t a normal person anymore. I was a fucking hero. 

THE END.

Full Issue Here

Other Worlds With Breakfast by Djinn Voxx

 
The sky was brightening quickly as twin stars rose up in the far off horizon, breaking dawns glowing into full daylight. A number of moons set or rose in different ellipsis across the sky. The land was beautiful too, rocky but with a feeling of warmth and bursting with endless colors. The suns far away, were small and did not give too much heat with their rays making the morning feel comfortable. 
Jen headed out to the rover on a drive to collect soil samples at a dig site, eighty seven kilometers away from base camp. Stopping half in the rover’s cabin door she watched the dual suns rise. She closed the door, taking off her helmet as the cabin pressurized and filled with breathable air, setting her box in a compartment. She was glad to only need a breathing mask for this world. Full suit systems make any tasks that much more difficult. As it was, the atmosphere here was nice most of the day and night, but the mornings were perfect and a mask was all anyone needed to wear. 
 Jen flicks the rover’s comm switch, “Jen, in Tiger-II  heading out to number 4679B again. Out,” speaking into its tiny glowing mic. 
 “Green, Jen in rover Tiger-II heading for 4679B, see you when you get back. Out,” Grace says.
“Green. Out,” Jen replies. 
Jen starts the rover and glances down at the roll-out check list. Full tanks all across the board; air, electrics, and chemical. The rover comes to life as Jen turns on the solar systems and hydrogen cell, pulling out of the motor pool gates. The bright sky, all pinks and greens,  as the suns shined her path up out of the valley towards the eastern mountain range. The base was placed in a foothill arm of the largest mountain on this world. Like Olympus Mons on her homeworld, Peak-1 is a giant among tall mountains, stretching twentyfive kilometers from sea level. 
The pass up toward dig site number 467-9-B heads away from Peak-1. The diggings were up a pass in the mountains and just over into the next range. Jen drives Tiger-II through valleys and over passes heading east, always getting higher and higher. After four hours the road heads over the top and turns down. looking out over the world spread out under her eyes, an infinity, meeting the sky as far as she can see. The rover slows down and stops just after another turn. Jen tries to restart the system but the solar panels have been having problems without direct light. The view faces back a little so she can see the Peak’s upper half, over the mountains.
Frustrated she decides this is the perfect time to take a break. Pulling out the box she brought, opening it and getting out one of two canisters of soup she made last night. An inspiration from her mother’s cooking back home on Mars. Feels like so much time has passed, she wasn’t even sure she could remember the cooking steps. But she did and it had turned out well, with Grace’s help. Grace runs the hydroponics and greenhouses for the base and gives Jen extras when she can. She eats slowly, savoring the rare treat and takes in the view. There is never much opportunity to make her own food, the head cook makes the meals and is pretty good at it. Jen’s schedule doesn’t leave much time for it either. Which makes this the first time she cooked since she got here, almost two years ago. 
The soup finished, she gets to work pulling modules out of the computer’s solar system cluster, bypassing it and running just the hydrogen cells. The rover starts, and she heads down to the dig site. The drive is always a great time to reflect and think. The paths are unfinished but the rovers are great all-terrain vehicles, able to go over anything. There are no interesting things on the roads and really no creatures here, or drastic weather changes. So a drive goes uneventfully most days. The rover’s upgrade Jen added last week has been acting up, this is the third time she has had to adjust the module calculations. 
Another hour easy driving finds her pulling into 467-9-B. A core drilling site that has yielded far more exciting results than any others. Jen puts her helmet on grabs the lunch box and hops down out of Tiger-II. Mags looks up and walks over from tooling on a drilling robot rig. She is the head of all the dig sites, and a old friend of Jen’s. The only one of a group of twelve women left. They all left engineering school and headed to Titan together for work. Over twenty years now, another lifetime ago.
“Could you have taken longer to get up here? I have been waiting to bust in on the new layers since this morning but I have to wait for you to collect before I can start.” Mags says smiling.
“I had some trouble again with Tigers solar system again. But mostly I stopped to look out at the Peak and eat my half of our lunch.” Jen says holding out the box of food for Mags. 
“Oh not staying after you pick up?”
“No I have to head back again, this newer solar system on Tiger is not running well.”
“Green.”
“Are the samples in that digger you were just working on?”
“Yeah, let me……” Mags starts but Jen raises her hand for her to stop talking.
  A strange sound, out of place slinks into her head and Jen perks up her ears. There it was again, she turns slowly in place. Damn these helmets do muffle low sounds too much. There are some creatures in the mountains, though no one has found any signs of them, tracks or waste. They can be heard once in a while, always at night making an eerie sound. The base is sturdy and as no signs of the things can be found and there have not been any incidents at all, it is not a real worry. But the sounds they make are not pleasant, rather creepy and spooky. Spooky enough to make old fears well back out of the deep in your brain, from eons ago. Predatory sounds. 
There again, what is that sound, so familiar but hard to place. Not creepy at all but soft, calm. Then Jen is falling. Down, down deep into consciousness and starts to understand the sound. It is some kind of speech, words she knows. And from a familiar voice. 
“Jen, do you want some coffee?” Fra asks.
“What? Ah, what?” Jen says.
Fra smiles, “Hey where were you just then?”. 
“Hhmmm?” Jen says landing fully back to the small kitchen, painted orange in the suns morning glow. 
“Where were you just then?”.
“Oh, ah… no sorry, I was just thinking. Work, nothing interesting.” 
“Daydreaming you mean. You take yourself so far away. Do you want some coffee before you get ready, I am getting in the shower in a sec.”
“Yes, please.” Jen says standing and taking the full cup from Fra. 
“You should tell me where you go, some time, I would like to hear about it.” Fra says heading for the shower.

“Maybe.” Jen says smiling to herself. Maybe. 
 
Full Issue Here

Other Worlds With Breakfast by Djinn Voxx

 

The sky was brightening quickly as twin stars rose up in the far off horizon, breaking dawns glowing into full daylight. A number of moons set or rose in different ellipsis across the sky. The land was beautiful too, rocky but with a feeling of warmth and bursting with endless colors. The suns far away, were small and did not give too much heat with their rays making the morning feel comfortable.

Jen headed out to the rover on a drive to collect soil samples at a dig site, eighty seven kilometers away from base camp. Stopping half in the rover’s cabin door she watched the dual suns rise. She closed the door, taking off her helmet as the cabin pressurized and filled with breathable air, setting her box in a compartment. She was glad to only need a breathing mask for this world. Full suit systems make any tasks that much more difficult. As it was, the atmosphere here was nice most of the day and night, but the mornings were perfect and a mask was all anyone needed to wear.

Jen flicks the rover’s comm switch, “Jen, in Tiger-II  heading out to number 4679B again. Out,” speaking into its tiny glowing mic.

“Green, Jen in rover Tiger-II heading for 4679B, see you when you get back. Out,” Grace says.

“Green. Out,” Jen replies.

Jen starts the rover and glances down at the roll-out check list. Full tanks all across the board; air, electrics, and chemical. The rover comes to life as Jen turns on the solar systems and hydrogen cell, pulling out of the motor pool gates. The bright sky, all pinks and greens,  as the suns shined her path up out of the valley towards the eastern mountain range. The base was placed in a foothill arm of the largest mountain on this world. Like Olympus Mons on her homeworld, Peak-1 is a giant among tall mountains, stretching twentyfive kilometers from sea level.

The pass up toward dig site number 467-9-B heads away from Peak-1. The diggings were up a pass in the mountains and just over into the next range. Jen drives Tiger-II through valleys and over passes heading east, always getting higher and higher. After four hours the road heads over the top and turns down. looking out over the world spread out under her eyes, an infinity, meeting the sky as far as she can see. The rover slows down and stops just after another turn. Jen tries to restart the system but the solar panels have been having problems without direct light. The view faces back a little so she can see the Peak’s upper half, over the mountains.

Frustrated she decides this is the perfect time to take a break. Pulling out the box she brought, opening it and getting out one of two canisters of soup she made last night. An inspiration from her mother’s cooking back home on Mars. Feels like so much time has passed, she wasn’t even sure she could remember the cooking steps. But she did and it had turned out well, with Grace’s help. Grace runs the hydroponics and greenhouses for the base and gives Jen extras when she can. She eats slowly, savoring the rare treat and takes in the view. There is never much opportunity to make her own food, the head cook makes the meals and is pretty good at it. Jen’s schedule doesn’t leave much time for it either. Which makes this the first time she cooked since she got here, almost two years ago.

The soup finished, she gets to work pulling modules out of the computer’s solar system cluster, bypassing it and running just the hydrogen cells. The rover starts, and she heads down to the dig site. The drive is always a great time to reflect and think. The paths are unfinished but the rovers are great all-terrain vehicles, able to go over anything. There are no interesting things on the roads and really no creatures here, or drastic weather changes. So a drive goes uneventfully most days. The rover’s upgrade Jen added last week has been acting up, this is the third time she has had to adjust the module calculations.

Another hour easy driving finds her pulling into 467-9-B. A core drilling site that has yielded far more exciting results than any others. Jen puts her helmet on grabs the lunch box and hops down out of Tiger-II. Mags looks up and walks over from tooling on a drilling robot rig. She is the head of all the dig sites, and a old friend of Jen’s. The only one of a group of twelve women left. They all left engineering school and headed to Titan together for work. Over twenty years now, another lifetime ago.

“Could you have taken longer to get up here? I have been waiting to bust in on the new layers since this morning but I have to wait for you to collect before I can start.” Mags says smiling.

“I had some trouble again with Tigers solar system again. But mostly I stopped to look out at the Peak and eat my half of our lunch.” Jen says holding out the box of food for Mags.

“Oh not staying after you pick up?”

“No I have to head back again, this newer solar system on Tiger is not running well.”

“Green.”

“Are the samples in that digger you were just working on?”

“Yeah, let me……” Mags starts but Jen raises her hand for her to stop talking.

A strange sound, out of place slinks into her head and Jen perks up her ears. There it was again, she turns slowly in place. Damn these helmets do muffle low sounds too much. There are some creatures in the mountains, though no one has found any signs of them, tracks or waste. They can be heard once in a while, always at night making an eerie sound. The base is sturdy and as no signs of the things can be found and there have not been any incidents at all, it is not a real worry. But the sounds they make are not pleasant, rather creepy and spooky. Spooky enough to make old fears well back out of the deep in your brain, from eons ago. Predatory sounds.

There again, what is that sound, so familiar but hard to place. Not creepy at all but soft, calm. Then Jen is falling. Down, down deep into consciousness and starts to understand the sound. It is some kind of speech, words she knows. And from a familiar voice.

“Jen, do you want some coffee?” Fra asks.

“What? Ah, what?” Jen says.

Fra smiles, “Hey where were you just then?”.

“Hhmmm?” Jen says landing fully back to the small kitchen, painted orange in the suns morning glow.

“Where were you just then?”.

“Oh, ah… no sorry, I was just thinking. Work, nothing interesting.”

“Daydreaming you mean. You take yourself so far away. Do you want some coffee before you get ready, I am getting in the shower in a sec.”

“Yes, please.” Jen says standing and taking the full cup from Fra.

“You should tell me where you go, some time, I would like to hear about it.” Fra says heading for the shower.

“Maybe.” Jen says smiling to herself. Maybe.

 

Full Issue Here

 
Balanced Breakfast
That morning we had Reese’s Puffs, which is fine because I like Reese’s Puffs. But Tyler hates Reese’s Puffs. He got so angry. And Terry got mad too.
Before I was at the table, Tyler yelled, “What is this shit!”
I sat at the other side of the table. I didn’t wanna listen, but I did. I had to.
"It’s like you fuck up on purpose, Terry!" Tyler said. "I told you to buy the Hershey’s S’Mores cereal! Why are you always so stupid!"
Terry said, “Now Tyler…”
"Fuck you, Terry!" Tyler said.
I think Terry is nice. Sometimes Terry talks to me or asks how I feel.
Tyler kept yelling, “I don’t have to eat this shit!” He threw his bowl on the ground. The milk got on the carpet.
"Tyler!" Terry screamed. Terry was mad now.
Tyler didn’t care. He was going crazy. He said, “Fuck you!” He said, “You don’t even have a job, Terry! You don’t even do anything except stay at home all day and you can’t even fucking do that right!”
I kept eating the cereal. It was ok. I didn’t mind it.
Tyler took the milk bottle and poured all the milk out on the floor. All the milk stained the carpet.
Terry went crazy. He grabbed Tyler’s arm and twisted it really hard.
"Help! Help! Miranda help me! Help" Tyler said, but now he was crying. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept sitting at the table cause I was really scared. I stopped eating my cereal.
Terry slapped Tyler’s mouth. He hit it real hard. Tyler spit blood.
"I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD!" Tyler screamed. Then Tyler puked.
Terry stopped. Terry was breathing really hard. Then Tyler got mad again. Tyler picked up a bowl and threw it at Terry. It missed and it broke.
Terry got really mad then. He picked up a chair and threw it at Tyler. It missed. Tyler ran to the drawers. He ripped out the drawers and threw the stuff inside. He threw the forks and spoons and knives. Terry had to hide. Terry hid under the table.
Tyler hit me in the eye with a fork. It hurt really bad. It bled. I didn’t cry though. I was too scared. I just put my hand on my eye to make it hurt less.
When Tyler was finished throwing things Terry stood up. He walked over to Tyler. Tyler punched and kicked but it didn’t matter. Terry grabbed Tyler by the hair and pulled him down. He picked Tyler up again and hit him in the face. Then Terry threw Tyler at the wall. Tyler stopped screaming. He didn’t cry either.
That was when I started crying. I was really really scared.
"Shut your mouth!" Terry screamed. "Go! Walk to school," he said.
I left the house and cried. I got to school and stopped crying so I didn’t get in trouble. I tried to forget about breakfast but I couldn’t.

Sunday  Brunch
A Yelp Review by Karen Lemper 
1/5 Stars
When a person goes out to brunch, s/he expects an atmosphere in which she can relax. Such an atmosphere requires customers to have a quiet, personal space for eating and talking with friends. Without this, there really is no reason to go to brunch.
Cubano Romano is very bad. Don’t go here. I would rate it less than 1 star if I could
This is because, at Cubano Romano, their atmosphere is far from welcoming. While their food is by no means bad, it does not deserve the reputation it has accrued through local alt-weeklies and other oppositional Yelp reviews.
Let’s start at the beginning. Upon arrival, the restaurant’s “matron d’” (if you could use such a term to describe a teenage girl wearing jeans) told us we had to wait 45 minutes to be seated. As a brunch veteran, I understand long waits are the name of the game. But Cubano Romano has neither a patio nor a bar. There were not seats or even a bench outside for me to sit on! A disgusting homeless man was sleeping in the alley no more than 40 feet from the door. Thankfully, there was a Container Store near by (which I DO recommend patronage!) where my party and I passed the time.
So, when we came back I’d say no more than 65 minutes later, the restaurant rudely informed us that our table had been given to the next waiting party! Are you serious?! What’s the point of putting down names if you just skip over them!
Thankfully, we were able to sit down 5 minutes later (although it’s the principle of the whole thing that really gets under my skin). But of course, we get the worst table in the restaurant! Right next to the window, adjacent to the door. Great! We had to watch everybody walk by instead of focusing on the ambience of the establishment. Remember what I said about the importance of atmosphere?
Exactly! So we ordered our food and I just got what was recommended by the paper. It was a Cuban Breakfast Platter which was recommended as one of the freshest, most unique breakfast plates in the city. Fat chance! It is not that good. There were these strange fried banana things that were grilled. Who grills bananas? Gross!
But then, like two minutes after we got our food, something happened that made the entire meal an absolute living nightmare. The homeless man sleeping in the alley must have dealt drugs or something? I don’t know. But the police came to arrest him and he refused to move. They started shouting to get him to wake up or whatever but he didn’t even budge. The police say he was resisting arrest and I agree.
Then, and I don’t know for sure if this is what happened because even though I did see it, since I was very stressed and I am by no means making accusations here, one police officer hit the homeless man with his little black baseball bat thing.  It was horrible! The man was mumbling and sort of screaming? My girlfriend swore she heard his bones snapping but I don’t believe her. Anyway the other officer joined in with his little black baseball bat thing. He shouted, “He’s going for my gun!” And I was horrified! Who knows what would have happened if that man got the officer’s gun! He could have shot innocent people like me for all I know! 
Eventually, the fighting stopped. The man was all brown and bloody. He moved even less than when we walked in the restaurant. Later, I learned he was dead. Needless to say, brunch was ruined.
By the time the EMTs left I wasn’t even hungry anymore. Of course, the food was free, and the restaurant manager offered us a free brunch to make up for the commotion, but I will not be taking him up on this offer! Sure, the few bites I tasted were good, but how can someone eat comfortably after a time like this?
I strongly advise you to avoid Cubano Romano. 

Late, Late Dinner
So many strange things happen on third shift, I swear, I could fill a book if I had the time. But the strangest things don’t register until you think about them in retrospect. It makes you grateful.
“There but for the grace of God go I…”
A few years ago this fat dumb drunk stumbled in my diner. He smelled like piss and whiskey. I remember walking over to his table to pour him some water and I nearly puked. He was pushing 40, and I’m sure his greying beard never came in without the patches. His eyes were bloodshot and he wore a strange hat—kinda like what a newspaper boy would wear back in olde-timey times. He talked kind of affected, not like a nelly cause his voice was quite deep, but like he was trying something hard. Maybe he was just drunk. One thing I knew from experience: these types of characters are the ones you get money from before you put their order in.
He told me he wants coffee, but I should bring the whole pot. Then he looks me square in the face says he wants to order immediately.
“Fine,” I said, and he tells me, “I want everything on the menu.”
Now I don’t even feel bad making him pay up first. He takes out big brick of a wallet and I knew he was a criminal right then and there—only a rat carries that much cash. I bet he stole it from an innocent family. Then, reminding me he was a disgusting drunk pig, he burped in my face and asked, “Will this about cover it? 
So I tell him, I can’t serve you everything. We don’t have an everything button I can press that charges you for everything. I have to tell the cook exactly what to make, then I charge ya for everything you buy. Then, like an asshole, he reads off every item on the menu.
“I want eggs. Scrambled, fried, over easy, sunny side up, poached, hard boiled—I want two of every egg,” I don’t even tell him we don’t have hard-boiled, he’ll find out when the garbage is all ready.
“Do you know what a Grand Slam is,” he asks.  Of course I do, I’m a waitress. It’s a stupid ham egg and cheese sandwich on toast. But we don’t make those, I tell him. f you want one, order whatever crap you want on it and assemble it yourself.
“Nah,” he says, “I don’t make nothing. I’ll just eat everything separate. Gimme all the meats whatever. I gotta have bacon. And do you have Canadian bacon? And sausage, links or patties I don’t care, both if you have them. Any meat. Bring me every meat you got.”
“And pancakes!” he shouts, so I tell him to quiet down. But keeps saying he wants, “Pancakes, and waffles, and french toast—all of it! And hash browns! Potatoes every way you cook them! Do you make biscuits and gravy? Gimme all of it!”
“And more coffee! And juice!” He tells me. He’s getting all excited, sweating all over the place. His shirt is literally wet, like he spilled on himself or something. God, did I hate this assshole. Nobody’s in here all night, nobody’s bothering a fly and he comes in just to waste food? I had half a mind not to serve it to him.
“Bring it out as it finishes so it’s hot,” he demands. “I got the money, gimme it all, gimme everything! Charge me as you go and keep cooking things until I say stop. You can have all the money, I don’t care. Don’t try to stop feeding me until I walk out the door.”
Boy was he a pig. What a disgusting bag of lard. But I didn’t know the half of it.
“You sure eat some dinner, mister,” I tell the asshole. And believe me, I’ll never forget what came next. He laughs in my face and says, “Lady, this is just breakfast!”
Then I hadda tell Vince behind the fryer he’s gotta cook all this and my god was he livid! I showed him the money but he didn’t care he says, “Fuck this man I’m not even supposed to be here today! I’m covering for Randal.” But honestly I really don’t care. Sucks just as much to carry all the food out to him as it does to cook it.
So finally I had to start bringing out the plates. God, what a disgusting slob, I’ll never forget him. First he starts shoving the meat in his mouth letting the grease drip down his chin, scalding the skin on his neck. It seems like most of the mashed meat gets all stuck in his teeth, while the rest flies out and hits the other end of the table. He starts sucking the syrup off of the pancake then shoved the whole thing into his mouth. He got the French toast powdered sugar on his nose like a drug fiend. He’d try and eat every egg in one bite, two only if necessary. And while he’s eating, he got hotter and hotter, perspiring like he’s just won a marathon or something. He was rubbing his temples, wiping his forehead. All I could do was sit there and watch him.
Finally I knew he was finished when he sat up straight. This wino had slumped over like an old man’s you know what from the second he walked in the door. But when he finished eating he sat up like the priest was blessing him at his first communion. That’s when I notice the fear in his eyes. Made me nervous he was gonna snap or something until he gave a loud belch. He burped up what looked to me like black tar. A dark, sticky, black liquid. Reminded me of baby shit, that pulpy black shit that comes out the ass of a newborn baby. He burped up a little and let it dribble down his chin. I said, “If you’re gonna hurl you get the hell out of here, buddy! Don’t even go in the bathroom or nothing!” I took a menu and I started hitting him. I knew I was the one who’d have to clean up the mess, so I start smacking the guy.
He walks outside and just like I thought, he vomited profusely. Like sewage erupting from a broken pipe. Just filthy, vile muck. Sloshing like mud, reeking of rot. It gets all on the ground and splashes on his legs and shoes. Just sickening. He goes on like this for maybe 20 minutes.
Then, he goes and lies down in the front of his truck. I said, “Screw it,” and I called the cops. No reason for a bum like him to sit outside our place all night. But right as I’m describing the car he pulls out and drives a few miles down the road. Sure, the police eventually found him. They said his truck had burned all the way through, like somebody set fire to it. Couldn’t have been the slob though, cause his charred remnants were still in the driver seat. The cops told us you could pick out the melted fat amongst the soot and ash, mixed in with burnt fabric. The coroner didn’t know what to think, he wrote it off as the rare case of self-immolation. I think the man was sent from Hell.

 

Balanced Breakfast

That morning we had Reese’s Puffs, which is fine because I like Reese’s Puffs. But Tyler hates Reese’s Puffs. He got so angry. And Terry got mad too.

Before I was at the table, Tyler yelled, “What is this shit!”

I sat at the other side of the table. I didn’t wanna listen, but I did. I had to.

"It’s like you fuck up on purpose, Terry!" Tyler said. "I told you to buy the Hershey’s S’Mores cereal! Why are you always so stupid!"

Terry said, “Now Tyler…”

"Fuck you, Terry!" Tyler said.

I think Terry is nice. Sometimes Terry talks to me or asks how I feel.

Tyler kept yelling, “I don’t have to eat this shit!” He threw his bowl on the ground. The milk got on the carpet.

"Tyler!" Terry screamed. Terry was mad now.

Tyler didn’t care. He was going crazy. He said, “Fuck you!” He said, “You don’t even have a job, Terry! You don’t even do anything except stay at home all day and you can’t even fucking do that right!”

I kept eating the cereal. It was ok. I didn’t mind it.

Tyler took the milk bottle and poured all the milk out on the floor. All the milk stained the carpet.

Terry went crazy. He grabbed Tyler’s arm and twisted it really hard.

"Help! Help! Miranda help me! Help" Tyler said, but now he was crying. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept sitting at the table cause I was really scared. I stopped eating my cereal.

Terry slapped Tyler’s mouth. He hit it real hard. Tyler spit blood.

"I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD! I WISH I WAS DEAD!" Tyler screamed. Then Tyler puked.

Terry stopped. Terry was breathing really hard. Then Tyler got mad again. Tyler picked up a bowl and threw it at Terry. It missed and it broke.

Terry got really mad then. He picked up a chair and threw it at Tyler. It missed. Tyler ran to the drawers. He ripped out the drawers and threw the stuff inside. He threw the forks and spoons and knives. Terry had to hide. Terry hid under the table.

Tyler hit me in the eye with a fork. It hurt really bad. It bled. I didn’t cry though. I was too scared. I just put my hand on my eye to make it hurt less.

When Tyler was finished throwing things Terry stood up. He walked over to Tyler. Tyler punched and kicked but it didn’t matter. Terry grabbed Tyler by the hair and pulled him down. He picked Tyler up again and hit him in the face. Then Terry threw Tyler at the wall. Tyler stopped screaming. He didn’t cry either.

That was when I started crying. I was really really scared.

"Shut your mouth!" Terry screamed. "Go! Walk to school," he said.

I left the house and cried. I got to school and stopped crying so I didn’t get in trouble. I tried to forget about breakfast but I couldn’t.

Sunday  Brunch

A Yelp Review by Karen Lemper

1/5 Stars

When a person goes out to brunch, s/he expects an atmosphere in which she can relax. Such an atmosphere requires customers to have a quiet, personal space for eating and talking with friends. Without this, there really is no reason to go to brunch.

Cubano Romano is very bad. Don’t go here. I would rate it less than 1 star if I could

This is because, at Cubano Romano, their atmosphere is far from welcoming. While their food is by no means bad, it does not deserve the reputation it has accrued through local alt-weeklies and other oppositional Yelp reviews.

Let’s start at the beginning. Upon arrival, the restaurant’s “matron d’” (if you could use such a term to describe a teenage girl wearing jeans) told us we had to wait 45 minutes to be seated. As a brunch veteran, I understand long waits are the name of the game. But Cubano Romano has neither a patio nor a bar. There were not seats or even a bench outside for me to sit on! A disgusting homeless man was sleeping in the alley no more than 40 feet from the door. Thankfully, there was a Container Store near by (which I DO recommend patronage!) where my party and I passed the time.

So, when we came back I’d say no more than 65 minutes later, the restaurant rudely informed us that our table had been given to the next waiting party! Are you serious?! What’s the point of putting down names if you just skip over them!

Thankfully, we were able to sit down 5 minutes later (although it’s the principle of the whole thing that really gets under my skin). But of course, we get the worst table in the restaurant! Right next to the window, adjacent to the door. Great! We had to watch everybody walk by instead of focusing on the ambience of the establishment. Remember what I said about the importance of atmosphere?

Exactly! So we ordered our food and I just got what was recommended by the paper. It was a Cuban Breakfast Platter which was recommended as one of the freshest, most unique breakfast plates in the city. Fat chance! It is not that good. There were these strange fried banana things that were grilled. Who grills bananas? Gross!

But then, like two minutes after we got our food, something happened that made the entire meal an absolute living nightmare. The homeless man sleeping in the alley must have dealt drugs or something? I don’t know. But the police came to arrest him and he refused to move. They started shouting to get him to wake up or whatever but he didn’t even budge. The police say he was resisting arrest and I agree.

Then, and I don’t know for sure if this is what happened because even though I did see it, since I was very stressed and I am by no means making accusations here, one police officer hit the homeless man with his little black baseball bat thing.  It was horrible! The man was mumbling and sort of screaming? My girlfriend swore she heard his bones snapping but I don’t believe her. Anyway the other officer joined in with his little black baseball bat thing. He shouted, “He’s going for my gun!” And I was horrified! Who knows what would have happened if that man got the officer’s gun! He could have shot innocent people like me for all I know! 

Eventually, the fighting stopped. The man was all brown and bloody. He moved even less than when we walked in the restaurant. Later, I learned he was dead. Needless to say, brunch was ruined.

By the time the EMTs left I wasn’t even hungry anymore. Of course, the food was free, and the restaurant manager offered us a free brunch to make up for the commotion, but I will not be taking him up on this offer! Sure, the few bites I tasted were good, but how can someone eat comfortably after a time like this?

I strongly advise you to avoid Cubano Romano.



Late, Late Dinner

So many strange things happen on third shift, I swear, I could fill a book if I had the time. But the strangest things don’t register until you think about them in retrospect. It makes you grateful.

“There but for the grace of God go I…”

A few years ago this fat dumb drunk stumbled in my diner. He smelled like piss and whiskey. I remember walking over to his table to pour him some water and I nearly puked. He was pushing 40, and I’m sure his greying beard never came in without the patches. His eyes were bloodshot and he wore a strange hat—kinda like what a newspaper boy would wear back in olde-timey times. He talked kind of affected, not like a nelly cause his voice was quite deep, but like he was trying something hard. Maybe he was just drunk. One thing I knew from experience: these types of characters are the ones you get money from before you put their order in.

He told me he wants coffee, but I should bring the whole pot. Then he looks me square in the face says he wants to order immediately.

“Fine,” I said, and he tells me, “I want everything on the menu.”

Now I don’t even feel bad making him pay up first. He takes out big brick of a wallet and I knew he was a criminal right then and there—only a rat carries that much cash. I bet he stole it from an innocent family. Then, reminding me he was a disgusting drunk pig, he burped in my face and asked, “Will this about cover it? 

So I tell him, I can’t serve you everything. We don’t have an everything button I can press that charges you for everything. I have to tell the cook exactly what to make, then I charge ya for everything you buy. Then, like an asshole, he reads off every item on the menu.

“I want eggs. Scrambled, fried, over easy, sunny side up, poached, hard boiled—I want two of every egg,” I don’t even tell him we don’t have hard-boiled, he’ll find out when the garbage is all ready.

“Do you know what a Grand Slam is,” he asks.  Of course I do, I’m a waitress. It’s a stupid ham egg and cheese sandwich on toast. But we don’t make those, I tell him. f you want one, order whatever crap you want on it and assemble it yourself.

“Nah,” he says, “I don’t make nothing. I’ll just eat everything separate. Gimme all the meats whatever. I gotta have bacon. And do you have Canadian bacon? And sausage, links or patties I don’t care, both if you have them. Any meat. Bring me every meat you got.”

“And pancakes!” he shouts, so I tell him to quiet down. But keeps saying he wants, “Pancakes, and waffles, and french toast—all of it! And hash browns! Potatoes every way you cook them! Do you make biscuits and gravy? Gimme all of it!”

“And more coffee! And juice!” He tells me. He’s getting all excited, sweating all over the place. His shirt is literally wet, like he spilled on himself or something. God, did I hate this assshole. Nobody’s in here all night, nobody’s bothering a fly and he comes in just to waste food? I had half a mind not to serve it to him.

“Bring it out as it finishes so it’s hot,” he demands. “I got the money, gimme it all, gimme everything! Charge me as you go and keep cooking things until I say stop. You can have all the money, I don’t care. Don’t try to stop feeding me until I walk out the door.”

Boy was he a pig. What a disgusting bag of lard. But I didn’t know the half of it.

“You sure eat some dinner, mister,” I tell the asshole. And believe me, I’ll never forget what came next. He laughs in my face and says, “Lady, this is just breakfast!”

Then I hadda tell Vince behind the fryer he’s gotta cook all this and my god was he livid! I showed him the money but he didn’t care he says, “Fuck this man I’m not even supposed to be here today! I’m covering for Randal.” But honestly I really don’t care. Sucks just as much to carry all the food out to him as it does to cook it.

So finally I had to start bringing out the plates. God, what a disgusting slob, I’ll never forget him. First he starts shoving the meat in his mouth letting the grease drip down his chin, scalding the skin on his neck. It seems like most of the mashed meat gets all stuck in his teeth, while the rest flies out and hits the other end of the table. He starts sucking the syrup off of the pancake then shoved the whole thing into his mouth. He got the French toast powdered sugar on his nose like a drug fiend. He’d try and eat every egg in one bite, two only if necessary. And while he’s eating, he got hotter and hotter, perspiring like he’s just won a marathon or something. He was rubbing his temples, wiping his forehead. All I could do was sit there and watch him.

Finally I knew he was finished when he sat up straight. This wino had slumped over like an old man’s you know what from the second he walked in the door. But when he finished eating he sat up like the priest was blessing him at his first communion. That’s when I notice the fear in his eyes. Made me nervous he was gonna snap or something until he gave a loud belch. He burped up what looked to me like black tar. A dark, sticky, black liquid. Reminded me of baby shit, that pulpy black shit that comes out the ass of a newborn baby. He burped up a little and let it dribble down his chin. I said, “If you’re gonna hurl you get the hell out of here, buddy! Don’t even go in the bathroom or nothing!” I took a menu and I started hitting him. I knew I was the one who’d have to clean up the mess, so I start smacking the guy.

He walks outside and just like I thought, he vomited profusely. Like sewage erupting from a broken pipe. Just filthy, vile muck. Sloshing like mud, reeking of rot. It gets all on the ground and splashes on his legs and shoes. Just sickening. He goes on like this for maybe 20 minutes.

Then, he goes and lies down in the front of his truck. I said, “Screw it,” and I called the cops. No reason for a bum like him to sit outside our place all night. But right as I’m describing the car he pulls out and drives a few miles down the road. Sure, the police eventually found him. They said his truck had burned all the way through, like somebody set fire to it. Couldn’t have been the slob though, cause his charred remnants were still in the driver seat. The cops told us you could pick out the melted fat amongst the soot and ash, mixed in with burnt fabric. The coroner didn’t know what to think, he wrote it off as the rare case of self-immolation. I think the man was sent from Hell.

mrockefeller:

I recently created the cover for the September issue of Jacob Sanders’ ‘Zaftig’ zine! Each issue is based on a simple one word theme and he gives the participating artists complete creative freedom to imagine that theme in any way they see fit. This month the word was ‘Breakfast.’ Thanks again Jacob, I had a lot of fun with this!

You can read this issue and browse previous issues here. Be sure to check out all of the other artist’s great contributions!