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!

My Grandpa is Cursed by God by Jason Melton
I get depression and pain, and it is funny—just 
kidding. It’s really no fun.

If I tell anyone about it, they 
immediately deflect it. Like, 
“yeah, I have pain too,”  
or “yeah I get sad too.”  
“You need to stop worrying.” 

And I’m like “great.” 

So I’ve mostly stopped talking 
about my depression and pain. 
And I am more entertaining!

But just so you know, the pain starts
above my ass and spiders down into
my calf like an electric shock. 

I went to the doctor, and she said 
“it sounds like you’re getting electrical shock
pain.”  Same shit over and over. 

God could completely remove the pain if he wanted. Just saying.

I told the doctor, “No I’m not on prescription drugs at this time. But if you want I 
can make you cum harder than you have ever cum in your life, your life?”

Just kidding.

I thought, ‘This x-ray will reveal that I have full-blown AIDS.’  Just kidding.

Now the doctor has got to answer this question: Would you trade your life, your 
life, in order for me to make you cum harder than you will ever cum in your life, your life?
Just kidding.
Your life?

I got an x-ray and felt nauseous. 

It revealed nothing. No bone damage. No reason for the pain. No AIDS. 

Same shit over and over.

***

So far, one person cares about my depression and pain. She even got me a pinwheel for distraction. 
 Staring at the colorful pinwheel is nice. 

Very cute girl. Very intelligent with a good memory. Knows a lot of Bible stuff.

She even told me she would pray for me. 

And I’m like “great.”

***

My grandpa believes that he is cursed by God, and he might be. I don’t know fucking God. Maybe God hates grandpa. God wrote a book that says he is really really nice, but I don’t know fucking God and I’m not just gonna take his word for it, ya know? 

I told that cute girl that my grandpa thinks that he is cursed by God. We were almost alone in the back room of a bar. A single red lamp almost lit the space around us. 

I said, “My grandpa thinks he is cursed by God. And he probably is. I mean, God might not be cursing him on purpose. Maybe God just doesn’t care.” 

With God as my witness, my grandpa’s real name is Old Dirty Bastard.

Just kidding.

My grandpa’s real name is Jay-Z.

Grandpa Jay-Z takes care of my disabled aunt, Missy Elliott. I don’t know what her disability is. I know she had a seizure when she was very young. She still has seizures sometimes. She has trouble walking. She has trouble with a lot things. 

She watches the news but only for the weather. She likes Chicago sports, watching the weather on the news, and collecting stuffed bears.

Sometimes she says “hey mister!” 

And she is expressing disapproval. But I like it. 

“Hey mister!”

Same shit over and over.

Anyway, I am explaining all this to that very cute girl. She has a good memory. By the way, her name is Fiona Apple. I’m explaining that Jay-Z thinks he is cursed by God, and that’s a terrible thing to think because Jay-Z is a very old man.

I think that it makes the situation much worse that Jay-Z is a very old man. To believe in God and think he hates you. All while preparing for him to knock on the door to your coffin.

Fiona Apple gave me a pinwheel. For distraction. It was colorful and reflective, even in the dim red light of the bar.

***

It was supposed to be that when Jay-Z dies, Lil Kim would take care of Missy Elliott. Missy Elliott needs to be taken care of, and Jay-Z is preparing to meet the God that hates him. But suddenly, Lil Kim died. Lil Kim was Missy Elliott’s sister. Jay-Z’s other daughter. My aunt. 

And it was very sad for all of us. 

Sudden death from a kidney infection.

Who will take care of Missy Elliott when Jay-Z is dead.

Does God control who lives and dies?

God could have given Hitler a kidney infection. We didn’t need Hitler to take care of my aunt, ya know?

These things happened. And it could be because of the curse from God. Ya know what I mean? I really think Jay-Z is cursed by God.

***

Although, my grandpa (Jay-Z) may have stopped believing that he is cursed by God. He says things, now, that don’t make much sense.  He asks the same questions over and over. 

On Thanksgiving, he couldn’t remember why people were visiting.

We were visiting because of Thanksgiving.

Same shit over and over.

***

I wonder if you can completely forget about God. I will ask Fiona Apple tomorrow. 

What would happen if you completely forgot about God.

And someone said “God be with you.”

And you would be like, “Oh yeah. God. I forgot about Him.”

In between now and then, maybe Fiona Apple will pray for me and Jay-Z.

And God will say “Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. Uh huh. Uh huh.”

***

I really like Fiona Apple. 

Very cute girl. Very intelligent with a good memory. Knows a lot of Bible stuff.

But I can’t believe in God without hating him.

Fiona Apple loves God. 


Maybe God is cursing me too. :-)
Full Issue Here

My Grandpa is Cursed by God by Jason Melton

I get depression and pain, and it is funny—just 

kidding. It’s really no fun.

If I tell anyone about it, they 

immediately deflect it. Like, 

“yeah, I have pain too,” 

or “yeah I get sad too.”  

“You need to stop worrying.” 

And I’m like “great.” 

So I’ve mostly stopped talking 

about my depression and pain. 

And I am more entertaining!

But just so you know, the pain starts

above my ass and spiders down into

my calf like an electric shock. 

I went to the doctor, and she said 

“it sounds like you’re getting electrical shock

pain.”  Same shit over and over. 

God could completely remove the pain if he wanted. Just saying.

I told the doctor, “No I’m not on prescription drugs at this time. But if you want I 

can make you cum harder than you have ever cum in your life, your life?”

Just kidding.

I thought, ‘This x-ray will reveal that I have full-blown AIDS.’  Just kidding.

Now the doctor has got to answer this question: Would you trade your life, your 

life, in order for me to make you cum harder than you will ever cum in your life, your life?

Just kidding.

Your life?

I got an x-ray and felt nauseous. 

It revealed nothing. No bone damage. No reason for the pain. No AIDS. 

Same shit over and over.

***

So far, one person cares about my depression and pain. She even got me a pinwheel for distraction. 


Staring at the colorful pinwheel is nice. 

Very cute girl. Very intelligent with a good memory. Knows a lot of Bible stuff.

She even told me she would pray for me. 

And I’m like “great.”

***

My grandpa believes that he is cursed by God, and he might be. I don’t know fucking God. Maybe God hates grandpa. God wrote a book that says he is really really nice, but I don’t know fucking God and I’m not just gonna take his word for it, ya know? 

I told that cute girl that my grandpa thinks that he is cursed by God. We were almost alone in the back room of a bar. A single red lamp almost lit the space around us. 

I said, “My grandpa thinks he is cursed by God. And he probably is. I mean, God might not be cursing him on purpose. Maybe God just doesn’t care.” 

With God as my witness, my grandpa’s real name is Old Dirty Bastard.

Just kidding.

My grandpa’s real name is Jay-Z.

Grandpa Jay-Z takes care of my disabled aunt, Missy Elliott. I don’t know what her disability is. I know she had a seizure when she was very young. She still has seizures sometimes. She has trouble walking. She has trouble with a lot things. 

She watches the news but only for the weather. She likes Chicago sports, watching the weather on the news, and collecting stuffed bears.

Sometimes she says “hey mister!” 

And she is expressing disapproval. But I like it. 

“Hey mister!”

Same shit over and over.

Anyway, I am explaining all this to that very cute girl. She has a good memory. By the way, her name is Fiona Apple. I’m explaining that Jay-Z thinks he is cursed by God, and that’s a terrible thing to think because Jay-Z is a very old man.

I think that it makes the situation much worse that Jay-Z is a very old man. To believe in God and think he hates you. All while preparing for him to knock on the door to your coffin.

Fiona Apple gave me a pinwheel. For distraction. It was colorful and reflective, even in the dim red light of the bar.

***

It was supposed to be that when Jay-Z dies, Lil Kim would take care of Missy Elliott. Missy Elliott needs to be taken care of, and Jay-Z is preparing to meet the God that hates him. But suddenly, Lil Kim died. Lil Kim was Missy Elliott’s sister. Jay-Z’s other daughter. My aunt. 

And it was very sad for all of us. 

Sudden death from a kidney infection.

Who will take care of Missy Elliott when Jay-Z is dead.

Does God control who lives and dies?

God could have given Hitler a kidney infection. We didn’t need Hitler to take care of my aunt, ya know?

These things happened. And it could be because of the curse from God. Ya know what I mean? I really think Jay-Z is cursed by God.

***

Although, my grandpa (Jay-Z) may have stopped believing that he is cursed by God. He says things, now, that don’t make much sense.  He asks the same questions over and over. 

On Thanksgiving, he couldn’t remember why people were visiting.

We were visiting because of Thanksgiving.

Same shit over and over.

***

I wonder if you can completely forget about God. I will ask Fiona Apple tomorrow. 

What would happen if you completely forgot about God.

And someone said “God be with you.”

And you would be like, “Oh yeah. God. I forgot about Him.”

In between now and then, maybe Fiona Apple will pray for me and Jay-Z.

And God will say “Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. Uh huh. Uh huh.”

***

I really like Fiona Apple. 

Very cute girl. Very intelligent with a good memory. Knows a lot of Bible stuff.

But I can’t believe in God without hating him.

Fiona Apple loves God. 

Maybe God is cursing me too. :-)

Full Issue Here

The Goat Bridge by Brian Kelly
  2008 was a year of great failure, and I was on my way out of Portland Oregon. I quit waiting tables before I could get fired for habitual tardiness.  It didn’t matter that I lived four blocks away from work: I was acutely apathetic. Although it was everywhere in the press, the market crash hadn’t made an impression on me, didn’t make me feel grateful to serve brunch in a hip town, or fortify my work ethic. Rash changes were risky even with the aid of unemployment benefits coming in every week due to hourly cutbacks. However, I was tired of the hiding.  
   I kept a bottle of Smirnoff vodka inside a small red locker in the basement of the hotel where I worked. At the beginning of a dinner shift I would go downstairs and quietly fill a sports bottle with half iced coffee, half vodka. I would visit that locker at least two more times before leaving the building; and I’d let the stress of the yelling, the clanking plates, and the extra long ticket times wash over me. I returned curt attitude to whoever I wanted because I was highly inebriated. 
Just before a migraine would set in, when all the iced tea filters and the sauces were well stocked, glasses polished and cash collected, I would go to a bar down the block and drink more until I couldn’t remember who I had met or what time it was.  Every conversation outside of work was always about work: who we hated, why we hated him or her, and how the restaurant should be run by someone who knew what that hell was going on, someone like me, perhaps.  ‘I would do it,’ I hiccuped, ‘if I didn’t have to take the pay cut.’
But I stopped doing all that. I quit and hid in my basement room, pacing every day for a year within four walls of white cinder block dankness, occasionally looking out one small window to the garage. Barely any natural light shone through that window because there was always a car blocking my dismal view.  The basement was a cell but it was big enough to walk around and collect thoughts and talk to myself like a corporate executive conducting a board meeting of one .  
I wanted to start writing and be the next great American novelist. But of course that didn’t happen. That never happens! No one in their right mind sets out to write the Great American Novel and does it. Not even when he buys a typewriter on ebay and prepares giant pitchers of French press coffee and drinks all that coffee and reads all the books by Chomsky, Pollan, Dewey, Russell, and Steinbeck.   
The waking hours of a depressed person are incompatible with society.  I awoke each day at four in the afternoon as the house started its healthy pulse, roommates returning from their day jobs to fix dinner and converse. Their footsteps overhead bothered me.  I was paranoid that they would discover I had no job or worse; that I was walking around in a smelly bathrobe drinking too much coffee and not socializing. I’d wait quietly until the house went silent and then I’d start to work. But the work suffered because I was always tired and too careful not to wake anyone. 
Artists should not be afraid, and I was terrified. My girlfriend no longer wanted to touch me because she saw the fear. However, she still cared for me urged that the solution was simply to get out and get another job. But I didn’t have any desire or money to get another job, and my attitude embraced the idea of homelessness more than corporatism.  When my mother called and I told her that, she told me to fly home. I reluctantly complied. 
In Arizona my mother was excited to have what appeared to be a man living with her. That excitement lasted maybe two hours before I could see that we were both depressed. She had lost her job too and was struggling to find something in hotel management. She was six months out of work surviving with the help of her parents who had employed her after the layoff. They needed help getting around and had four caretakers living at their house around the clock fetching things, running errands, sorting the mail, and, of course, moving them to and from the bathroom when they needed assistance bathing and shitting.  
I tried to stay busy by turning my frustration on my mom’s dormant house. It was too much house to care for with only two people living in it. I emptied the garage and made it my own study. Then I went to work clearing dead branches from overgrown trees. When that was finished I mixed mortar, bought bricks and repaired her fireplace. Then I moved on to more niggling tasks she didn’t care for like rummaging through junk drawers and taking the rust off old pennies. I organized every drawer to the point she didn’t know where anything was because I had set everything in a new ‘proper’ place.  It was stir crazy behavior resembling that from within the basement in Portland. My mother saw this, sat me down, and told me that it was the time to do something. I had to get another job. 
Uncle Terry and I were vegans when we went to work on the goat bridge. But we practiced veganism for different reasons. I was an idealistic twenty-something who had read too much Peter Singer and Michael Pollan. He was a working class foreman and recovering alcoholic who didn’t read but lost a tremendous amount of weight, easily 85 pounds, when the new the lifestyle took hold. My Aunt Grace confided that it was like he was 30 years old again and had gone back in time to the seventies when he fucked like a rodeo bull. Grace made sure that he kept the body he had recovered.  She prepared healthy meals of quinoa and grilled vegetables, gave soothing rubdowns and encouraged him to keep working hard.  
The market crash had sent Terry back to the construction site, back to working with idiot carpenters who were dodging the law and carrying license plates from different states along with a revoked driver’s license from a 4th or 5th D.U.I. offense. Terry had done well transitioning to real estate as the housing bubble grew. But it was no longer a flush industry.  The country’s debt had poisoned that well. Terry hung up the suit, grabbed the hard hat and went back to long days, sometimes 12 to 14 hours on site only to rest for 3 hours and be back again early the next morning before sunrise. 
The company Terry worked for made bids on federal works projects from the state and retained one that called for the construction of wildlife bridges. These bridges would preserve the habitat for the indigenous mountain goats crossing to and from their water source and grazing land in the Mojave desert.  The one obstacle keeping these goats stranded on one side was the state highway 21, a congested two-way stretch of traffic that carried tourists and hopefuls from to the Hoover Dam to the glittered land of Las Vegas.
Terry offered me a job on this project after several conversations between my mom and Grace. He told me I’d go in as a day laborer, which on the construction site meant that I’d be a bitch. I carried scrap, lifted huge pieces of plywood, pulled out nails and emptied them into salvage buckets. I moved anything that needed moving.  And everything had a ridiculous name that sounded like everything else. I’d scurry away asking myself, Did he want the  ‘t-whipper’ or  ‘beam gripper’; and when I didn’t know I asked around like a shy foreign exchange student, sometimes even pantomiming the tool I needed for the crew’s amusement. 
I went into this job hoping to come out a man surrounded by men who made things with their bare hands and climbed dangerous heights with no fear, spit on the ground, cursed at each other and came back the next day to repeat it all again. But I didn’t come out a man. Instead I got away from myself and focused on the bridge. There wasn’t one moment, not one time did I ever see a mountain goat standing on a hill with its horns wrapped around its face. But I liked to imagine a creature who didn’t know what was going on all day for several months until the trucks cleared out and the men went away and there was nothing left standing but a new road leading to water. I imagined that animal would have instinct and would know that the bridge was for him. I hoped the same for myself, that when I returned to wherever I was going to live, there would be a new bridge set for me, and I would have the goat balls to plant my feet on the bridge and cross it even if I didn’t know where it was leading me.

Full Issue Here


The Goat Bridge by Brian Kelly

  2008 was a year of great failure, and I was on my way out of Portland Oregon. I quit waiting tables before I could get fired for habitual tardiness.  It didn’t matter that I lived four blocks away from work: I was acutely apathetic. Although it was everywhere in the press, the market crash hadn’t made an impression on me, didn’t make me feel grateful to serve brunch in a hip town, or fortify my work ethic. Rash changes were risky even with the aid of unemployment benefits coming in every week due to hourly cutbacks. However, I was tired of the hiding.  

   I kept a bottle of Smirnoff vodka inside a small red locker in the basement of the hotel where I worked. At the beginning of a dinner shift I would go downstairs and quietly fill a sports bottle with half iced coffee, half vodka. I would visit that locker at least two more times before leaving the building; and I’d let the stress of the yelling, the clanking plates, and the extra long ticket times wash over me. I returned curt attitude to whoever I wanted because I was highly inebriated. 

Just before a migraine would set in, when all the iced tea filters and the sauces were well stocked, glasses polished and cash collected, I would go to a bar down the block and drink more until I couldn’t remember who I had met or what time it was.  Every conversation outside of work was always about work: who we hated, why we hated him or her, and how the restaurant should be run by someone who knew what that hell was going on, someone like me, perhaps.  ‘I would do it,’ I hiccuped, ‘if I didn’t have to take the pay cut.’

But I stopped doing all that. I quit and hid in my basement room, pacing every day for a year within four walls of white cinder block dankness, occasionally looking out one small window to the garage. Barely any natural light shone through that window because there was always a car blocking my dismal view.  The basement was a cell but it was big enough to walk around and collect thoughts and talk to myself like a corporate executive conducting a board meeting of one .  

I wanted to start writing and be the next great American novelist. But of course that didn’t happen. That never happens! No one in their right mind sets out to write the Great American Novel and does it. Not even when he buys a typewriter on ebay and prepares giant pitchers of French press coffee and drinks all that coffee and reads all the books by Chomsky, Pollan, Dewey, Russell, and Steinbeck.   

The waking hours of a depressed person are incompatible with society.  I awoke each day at four in the afternoon as the house started its healthy pulse, roommates returning from their day jobs to fix dinner and converse. Their footsteps overhead bothered me.  I was paranoid that they would discover I had no job or worse; that I was walking around in a smelly bathrobe drinking too much coffee and not socializing. I’d wait quietly until the house went silent and then I’d start to work. But the work suffered because I was always tired and too careful not to wake anyone. 

Artists should not be afraid, and I was terrified. My girlfriend no longer wanted to touch me because she saw the fear. However, she still cared for me urged that the solution was simply to get out and get another job. But I didn’t have any desire or money to get another job, and my attitude embraced the idea of homelessness more than corporatism.  When my mother called and I told her that, she told me to fly home. I reluctantly complied. 

In Arizona my mother was excited to have what appeared to be a man living with her. That excitement lasted maybe two hours before I could see that we were both depressed. She had lost her job too and was struggling to find something in hotel management. She was six months out of work surviving with the help of her parents who had employed her after the layoff. They needed help getting around and had four caretakers living at their house around the clock fetching things, running errands, sorting the mail, and, of course, moving them to and from the bathroom when they needed assistance bathing and shitting.  

I tried to stay busy by turning my frustration on my mom’s dormant house. It was too much house to care for with only two people living in it. I emptied the garage and made it my own study. Then I went to work clearing dead branches from overgrown trees. When that was finished I mixed mortar, bought bricks and repaired her fireplace. Then I moved on to more niggling tasks she didn’t care for like rummaging through junk drawers and taking the rust off old pennies. I organized every drawer to the point she didn’t know where anything was because I had set everything in a new ‘proper’ place.  It was stir crazy behavior resembling that from within the basement in Portland. My mother saw this, sat me down, and told me that it was the time to do something. I had to get another job. 

Uncle Terry and I were vegans when we went to work on the goat bridge. But we practiced veganism for different reasons. I was an idealistic twenty-something who had read too much Peter Singer and Michael Pollan. He was a working class foreman and recovering alcoholic who didn’t read but lost a tremendous amount of weight, easily 85 pounds, when the new the lifestyle took hold. My Aunt Grace confided that it was like he was 30 years old again and had gone back in time to the seventies when he fucked like a rodeo bull. Grace made sure that he kept the body he had recovered.  She prepared healthy meals of quinoa and grilled vegetables, gave soothing rubdowns and encouraged him to keep working hard.  

The market crash had sent Terry back to the construction site, back to working with idiot carpenters who were dodging the law and carrying license plates from different states along with a revoked driver’s license from a 4th or 5th D.U.I. offense. Terry had done well transitioning to real estate as the housing bubble grew. But it was no longer a flush industry.  The country’s debt had poisoned that well. Terry hung up the suit, grabbed the hard hat and went back to long days, sometimes 12 to 14 hours on site only to rest for 3 hours and be back again early the next morning before sunrise. 

The company Terry worked for made bids on federal works projects from the state and retained one that called for the construction of wildlife bridges. These bridges would preserve the habitat for the indigenous mountain goats crossing to and from their water source and grazing land in the Mojave desert.  The one obstacle keeping these goats stranded on one side was the state highway 21, a congested two-way stretch of traffic that carried tourists and hopefuls from to the Hoover Dam to the glittered land of Las Vegas.

Terry offered me a job on this project after several conversations between my mom and Grace. He told me I’d go in as a day laborer, which on the construction site meant that I’d be a bitch. I carried scrap, lifted huge pieces of plywood, pulled out nails and emptied them into salvage buckets. I moved anything that needed moving.  And everything had a ridiculous name that sounded like everything else. I’d scurry away asking myself, Did he want the  ‘t-whipper’ or  ‘beam gripper’; and when I didn’t know I asked around like a shy foreign exchange student, sometimes even pantomiming the tool I needed for the crew’s amusement. 

I went into this job hoping to come out a man surrounded by men who made things with their bare hands and climbed dangerous heights with no fear, spit on the ground, cursed at each other and came back the next day to repeat it all again. But I didn’t come out a man. Instead I got away from myself and focused on the bridge. There wasn’t one moment, not one time did I ever see a mountain goat standing on a hill with its horns wrapped around its face. But I liked to imagine a creature who didn’t know what was going on all day for several months until the trucks cleared out and the men went away and there was nothing left standing but a new road leading to water. I imagined that animal would have instinct and would know that the bridge was for him. I hoped the same for myself, that when I returned to wherever I was going to live, there would be a new bridge set for me, and I would have the goat balls to plant my feet on the bridge and cross it even if I didn’t know where it was leading me.

Full Issue Here