The Iron Writer
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And here we go again. Josh shook his head. He had hoped for a quieter exam with these two.
“If you would unbutton your collar, you old-fashioned conservative, maybe you’d see reason.” Tam, well-known for his views, placed his foot directly on the edge of his chalk outline, blurring the image.
“And if you weren’t sure a liberal hippy, you’d see we have a real responsibly to the people.” William tightened the top button on his collar and eyed Tam’s sloppily put-together ensemble: jeans, a polo, and sandals!
William shook his head. The nerve of this kid coming to class to be judged by Judge I’m-Looking-Down-My-Nose-At-You Joshua on their accuracy of recreating a real crime scene dressed like some college kid was ridiculous.
William straightened his shirt and bent over to place a broken cell phone inches from the “hand” of his chalk-outline victim. He was not going to let Tam pull him into anymore trivial politics. He was here to win. He was here to—
William’s head bolted back as a glob of—ballistics jelly?—rolled off the tip of his bulbous nose.
“That’s it, you little punk.” William rose in a fury, reaching for the nearest item.
Tam stood smiling, waiting for the old grouch to lighten up a little bit. And what’s better for a party than Jell-O? Tam’s eyes grew wide as he realized he may have pushed the old man a bit too far. “Hey, man… Wait… It was just a jo—” Tam ducked wildly as a severed foot flew inches from his face.
The gong of a baton off the metal girders of the warehouse vibrated both men back to their senses. “Now you two, gentlemen, unless you’d like a resounding fail on this exam, I suggest you both shut your yaps and get back to work. Put the props down and pretend you’re professionals. Immediately.”
William sheepishly ducked his head, grabbed his paint brush, and flicked dabs of “blood” along the wall as Tam grabbed a purse and hung it over the back of a chair before quickly tilting it and tearing a strap partially away from the bag.
After another hour, Josh looked up from his Kindle and yelled, “Time’s up! Step away from your scenes.”
Both students threw their hands in the air, although Tam scootched another item in place with his toe as Josh closed the case to his eReader.
“Remember, gentlemen, you’ll be graded on accuracy, purity of scene, and how much you completed.” Josh led the way out of the warehouse, William followed by Tam.
William heard a slight pthu sound behind him. He turned quickly to see Tam wiping a dab of spittle from his lips.
“What did you…?” His eyes grew wide as he recognized the contamination in his scene. With a bellow, William tackled Tam, effectively wiping out both crime scenes.
Never try to get a liberal and a conservative to play nice, thought Josh as he closed the door behind him.
Probate Judge Daniel Belcher shuffled through the papers on his desk while the crumbling Saunders family sat before him. The judge was entertaining a rare request by Franklin Saunders, the nearly 17-year-old son of Robin and Adelaide Saunders.
The judge took off his reading glasses and stared at the soon-to-be high school senior.
“So you want to be an emancipated minor?” Judge Belcher leaned back and rocked in his creaky leather chair.
“Um, yes sir.” Franklin moved to sit at the edge of his chair. “My parents can’t seem to care for me because they are consumed by their petty differences – ”
Robin and Adelaide simultaneously interrupted their son.
“Now, wait just a minute, Franky.” Robin raised his voice. “We are perfectly capable of taking care of you.”
“Yes, dear. For once in a long time you’re father’s right.”
Robin glanced a dirty look.
“What? You’ve been wrong about a lot of things, namely your support of Obama. Twice.”
“This coming from a neo-con who thinks George W. Bush is a genius.”
“Stop it!” Franklin shouted. “This is only part of the reason why. I need to be freed from their incessant bickering. At first it seemed fake, like they wanted to get rid of me which started after my 16th birthday, but it just got worse. They seem to just want to twist that preverbal knife farther in each other’s backs. I’m a victim here.”
The Saunders’ started to object in unison again. The judge leaned forward and raised his hand. “Victim? How so?”
“They know nothing about me. Hell, they haven’t talked to me outside of saying ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good night’ in months.”
The judge leaned back. “According to your application you can support yourself – pay your bills, go to school?”
“My grandmother.” Two distrusting and worried stares glared at Franklin by his parents. “Said she’d rent me a room. I’ve worked the same job since I turned 16 last August. I’m an honors student and have been accepted into two schools next year – Cincinnati and NKU. I’m in line for academic scholarships and grants.”
The judge looked first at Robin and then at Adelaide. “When is your divorce final?”
“Two weeks,” they both immediately whispered, almost excited.
The judge leaned back and tapped the fingers of one hand against the fingers of the other several times as he sounded a few clicks with his tongue. He leaned forward and placed his forearms on his desk.
All three straightened their backs and scooted to the edge of their seats. “I’m not comfortable doing this but I’m going to grant emancipation, but only temporary … for 120 days. Your grades cannot slip one iota and you must pay all your bills on time. If that happens, I’ll make it permanent.”
Later at home, Franklin drove off in his packed car to his grandmother’s house. A few minutes after he left, Robin pulled into driveway and met Adelaide who still stood in the grass. He approached and took her hand. “It took a year, but we finally got rid of that little prick.”
Adelaide smiled and leaned her head on his shoulder.
K. A. DaVur
The shower is tile with hideous lemon-yellow squares. There are 18 rows of 32, which I think makes 584, or maybe 572. I’ve given up on multiplication and am counting them while I sit on the toilet, waiting. Waiting for the next time the invisible hand starts to squeeze, each searing, agonizing wave bringing me closer to the moment when I will have to flush my hopes, my dreams, my baby, away. Again.
My husband is at work, but he keeps sending encouraging texts. So that’s something. I guess. The cat is here, though. The creature hasn’t left my side. Of course, he plays with my hair whenever I’m doubled over, so I can’t even really maintain illusions of sentiment. Last night my husband said that he thought we should stop trying. It seems he’s given up on me at last. It’s probably for the best. I never understood what he saw in me in the first place.
Here it comes again, and I try to breathe like my doctor told me to. He of the ugly ties and the autographed photo of Ronald Reagan in his waiting room. He was always warms the speculum. He who insists there’s nothing wrong with me. He’s run every test he says, sometimes these things just happen. I believed him the first three times.
My therapist says the same thing. She says it over and over while I sway in the old bentwood rocker and pull the rubber strands off of her koosh ball one by one. It’s starting to look a little mangy. She preaches to me of forgiving myself, living in the present. “Keep one foot in yesterday and one in tomorrow and you piss all over today,” she says, and laughs her diner waitress laugh. I go every week, and mourn my babies, defend my guilt. She quotes Perls and Goodman, and gives me patchouli-scented hugs that last just a second too long while I try not to get snot on her shoulder.
They’re wrong. Both of them. All of them. I know, though. I know what I am. There is something the matter with me. Obviously. I don’t understand how they can’t see it. There’s something so poison, so malignant in me that I kill my own babies before they’re born. So wrong that I can’t be allowed, can’t be trusted, to hold them even once. Not even once. I don’t know what it is or where it is exactly, this thing in me that’s so black and broken. I’ll know it when I find it, though.
The pain passes, along with blood, my heart, and the clotted remains of what used to be my baby. I step into the sunshine yellow. There are 576. I figured that out at least. I take a deep breath reach for the knife.
Selfish Little Monkeys
Dani J Caile
Zaxoon hated these early morning cases, they seemed to always run on into the afternoon, completely messing up his siesta.
“Sor…sorry? Where am I?”
“More to the point where am I?”
He watched the two humans for a moment. One was a liberal, the other a conservative, both from the most destructive yet influential area on the third planet.
“Order in the court!”
He banged his hammer with boredom.
“Court? I demand an attorney!”
Zaxoon pointed at the first human.
“Whatever. You and your friend…”
“He’s not my friend!”
“Apologies. Yourself and your co-representative, a conservative…”
Zaxoon reached for his cup and drank some coffee. He’d have to order sandwiches.
“This is a court of law. I am your judge.”
The Democrat was the first to bite.
“What’s the charge?”
“Ah, I see one of you is awake. The prosecution is represented by Mr. Aphandra over here.”
A large tree shook its branches and rustled its leaves.
A small alien ran over to the tree and listened.
“I am a victim.”
“Thank you, Mr. Aphandra. Now, as humans, you are here on a charge of pollution and gross misuse of the third planet, and prejudice and elimination of other species. I have already seen an immense amount of evidence Mr. Aphandra presented to myself…”
“Sorry, who are you?”
“Zaxoon 48892, member of the UCP and as I said before, your judge today. Keep up. How do you plead?”
The two senators, recovering from shock, answered in unison.
“State your defense, humans.”
“May I?” asked the Republican to his colleague.
“Why not? It’ll be a novelty for you to be first.”
The Republican shrugged off the remark and continued.
“We use this planet responsibly. If anyone feels we have misused it or created a victim of any creature it is because it wasn’t profitable enough to…”
The Democrat stopped his colleague in mid-sentence.
“Please, excuse my fellow representative.”
“Excused. Please continue.”
The Democrat coughed and began his speech.
“The planet and its environment are infinitely precious, and we as a race must protect it from pollution and destruction from thoughtlessness, and by creating such legislation as to both benefit ourselves, our economy and the planet, we…”
“Stop. I’ve heard enough.”
“In your lease agreement, as signed by OgOg, supreme leader of the human race…”
Zaxoon showed the humans the lease contract.
“What’s that ‘x’?”
“It’s OgOg’s signature. As I was saying, it’s clear that your species have broken most, if not all, articles written under your agreement.”
“It’s all here in black and turquoise.”
“I hereby evict you from the third planet.”
“Are you holding a gun to America’s head, sir?”
“You must leave the planet as soon as the papers are through. Do you have anything further to say?”
The Democrat thought a while.
“How long does that take?”
Zaxoon calculated the difference.
“With your time system, 200 years.”
They conferred, smiled and answered in unison.