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Elm City Review (Volume 9) online

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tolerance for alcohol, he didn't feel as drunk as a quarter of a bottle of vodka usually

56



felt. Ste looked away from his cousin and fiance as they laced through the crowd
and poured himself another shot.

"Isn't that one kind of a bad idea?" Tiffany asked him when she caught
sight of Marco and Callie.

"A worse idea than the first shot?" He asked her back before dropping it
down his throat.

Tiffany walked away at the same time that Ste's cousin reached him.

Ste ignored the two of them at first and since neither of them was saying
anything it was a pretty easy job. The only problem he was having was stopping
the loop in his head that kept playing the two of them in his bed over and over.

"We thought you were at Tina's." Marco broke the silence, but when no
one replied, it promptly returned. "You weren't," he continued.

"How long?" Ste asked as he looked down into his empty glass. He caught
the two of them looking at each other and already knew the answer. "Never mind.
I don't care."

"Listen, Ste. We tried." Marco sounded defeated. "It ended when you
proposed. We convinced each other it wasn't worth your heart, but today..." He
looked at Callie. "Today was the first time since, I swear."

If Ste had opted to spend the time between him walking into his apartment
and them walking into The Deer Company thinking up the worst explanation for
how his best ftiend could have ended up screwing the love of his life, it would
have been easier to take than what his cousin had just stated as the truth. He got up
off his barstool and the world spun around him as he developed the most painful
headache that he'd ever felt before.

"Sorry Brother." Marco's intimate reference to Ste forced the headache to
get worse. "We just couldn't stay away from each other." Marco took a step back
before saying the last thing Ste would ever hear come out of his cousin's mouth.
"I'm in love with her."

Unlike Tina, Ste had always had the ability to suppress his temper. Not
being an angry minority had been one of his life goals. It turned out to be just
another dream he failed to achieve.

Ste was positive that it was his fist that threw the first punch. He
remembered a few "oh no's" and someone screeching "Stop!" once or twice but
nothing from Marco. His cousin started off doing just the bare minimum to ease his
suffering, but when Ste forced him to double over with a punch to the gut, Marco
stopped taking it. The strong hook that Marco connected with Ste's left temple had
split his eyebrow open, but the external pain that he felt during the fight was nothing
compared to what Ste was feeling inside. It was the kind of pain that reminded a
person in the worst way possible that they truly were alive.

They knocked over every barstool in the place before Ste found himself
straddling Marco's stomach and wailing on his face. He felt his elbow tear open on
the metal pipe that acted as a footrest along the bar when he pulled his arm back
for one of his many punches just before someone started yanking him off of the

51



motionless body beneath him. The person forcing him away wasn't very strong,
but he let them stop him anyway; he couldn't feel most of his right hand and blood
had started to blur the vision in his left eye. Out of his good side, Ste watched his
cousin gurgle out the darkest blood he'd even seen just before Callie's tear-streaked
face came into view.

"Stop!" She cried pushing her tiny hands against his wide chest. "You'll
kill him!"

Callie Bennet was the woman that Ste had planned on having become
the mother of his children, and while he looked over the elegant lines of her upset
face, he realized that he still wanted her to be.

Callie glanced behind her and Ste followed her gaze to watch Marco's
first attempt at getting himself up. Callie's body moved like it was torn between
the two of them for a moment before she took a deep breath and removed his ring.
He heard the faint sound of sirens as she placed the significant piece of jewelry
into his blood covered open palm.

"I love him back."



"Done."

The squeaking noise that Tina's stool made as she rolled away fi"om him
made Ste cringe. She started cleaning her work area as he walked over to the full-
length mirror on the right wall. He shifted his body and twisted his neck so he
could see what his sister had done.

It was just what he had been hoping for but better than he'd thought
possible. The red-orange flames were a little raised while the skin around them
was just dark pink. The original angel with her white hair down to her waist and
her delicate hands folded to pray was now in the center of her new hell. She was
still as peaceful as he remembered, but she had new charred wings and the bottom
of her flowing gown was burning up. The angel was in the exact spot that Callie
had claimed as her property and that Ste had been foolish enough to permanently
give her months ago.

Ste went back to his seat and waited for Tina to put the ointment on it.
She stood behind him and let out her last remorseful sigh while gently rubbing his
sensitive skin.

"She was such a beautiful angel," Tina said.

"Yeah, she was." Ste nodded. "But now she's fallen."

Tina taped some plastic wrap over the tattoo and helped him put his shirt
back on. She was throwing her gloves into the trash when Ste remembered his
payment. He went up close to her and pulled the compensation out of the front
pocket of his faded jeans.

"I want you to have this," he said and she spun to address him.

"You don't-," Tina started but when she saw the three sparkling stones

58



set in the platinum band between his thumb and forefinger she momentarily lost
her words. "I can't accept this, Steven. This is worth more than what I did."

"Please take it." He took her hand and dropped the engagement ring inside
of it. "Hock it if you want."

"No." Tina pushed her hand at him. "Why don't you do it?"

"Because it's worth nothing to me now."

A tear came to Tina's eye before she went up on her toes and gave Ste a
big hug. She whispered some comforting words in his ear before kissing him on the
cheek. As Ste zipped up his coat and flipped his shades on, he tried to forget about
his problems and remember what he had that was good and meaningful. But when
he got to his car and saw that the meter was expired and that there was a ticket on
his window, he knew that even his sister's ink wasn't going to pull him out of the
hole that he had let himself fall into.



59



Challenge is Inevitable

Lewis Letang

A white Volvo was rapidly approaching Kaleem and me. The car, from
a distance, seemed to be in good shape. But as it got closer, I could see the
rust stains creeping down its left side like syrup poured on a candy apple. The
windows were slightly tinted. However, the closer the rusty white Volvo came,
the more I could make out three guys inside of it.

"Look at those goof troops in that ugly power wheel," said Kaleem as
he pointed to the car which was two feet away.

"If they had heard you, they would probably give you the beat down of
your life," I said.

"You must be on crack. I would take those guys with you holding my
pinkies behind my back Jamal," said Kaleem as he danced around as if he were
in a boxing match.

The sun was blazing hot. For some strange reason the wind seemed to be
blocked off in every direction. When cars passed, I felt a little wind.

"Kaleem, see you tomorrow. Don't forget to wear your white uptowns. 1
We are going to look fresh for Friday," I told Kaleem.

"Jamal, hook me up with a fresh cut then," said Kaleem while brushing
his hair with a brush whose bristles were bent from being in his back pocket all
day.

"Okay, let's go to my house," I said.

We reached the best part of our journey home where the big trees
blocked the sun and provided tons of breezes: I called it the cross roads. As we
reached the cross roads, the same rusty white Volvo speeded toward us and then
inched up beside us. A guy with a purple mask jumped out of the car. He held a
shiny chrome gun — I had no doubt he cleaned it every day because it sure put a
glare in my eyes. I heard words I couldn't understand.

"I'm sorry, but I can't hear you," I said wiping away the water running
down my face.

He then fixed his clown mask and spat, "I bet you would hear me if I
smacked the living day lights out of you. Give me your money, and tell your
retarded looking friend to give me his gold chain." The robber definitely was
not the one to call others retarded looking. His pants were so tiny I could see
his ankles. The man's shirt for Christ sake had big rat holes in it. Moreover, I
was sure he didn't own a pair of shoes. When he was a child, people must have
teased him. I could imagine people calling him all kinds of names: bum, loser,
poor, and ugly. I guessed he really needed the mask.

Kaleem looked like a corpse standing up in the middle of nowhere. He
didn't utter two words to me or the clown thief Without hesitation I took the
twenty-two dollars I made from bagging for the customers at the grocery store
and gave them to him.

60



"Hurry up you stupid fools. If he takes any longer to give me that chain
and empty his pockets, I swear to God I will gun-bout you," screamed the thief
while switching the direction of his gun, so the back of the gun pointed in my
direction. The thief's legs started to wobble. Little bubbles of water dripped
to the ground from under his clown mask. In a slow manner, I turned my head
towards Kaleem and said, "Please give him the chain."

Kaleem looked straight ahead and said, "I am trying to."
I had to present myself as a tough guy, so I adopted a sarcastic tone:
"the sun is still shining, and you are going to rob us like this."

The clown thief must have been taking too long because another guy
got out of the rusty Volvo. When I looked at the other guy, it took a minute for
my thoughts to process the idea of his coming out of the car without a mask.
On the other hand, I don't know how Kaleem felt. He still wasn't taking off his
chain. Therefore, I raised my hands towards his link to unclip his chain. Kaleem
slapped my hands away.

"Jamal, do you know how much this chain means to me?" said Kaleem,
and a single tear dropped from his right eye.

"Is a stupid gold chain worth more than my life?" I said.

"My dad gave me this chain before he died. I can't just give it to these
men. Jamal, run now," said Kaleem.

I pushed the clown with the gun, and we ran through the bushes. In my
mind I could see a straight bullet going through my spine. Next, I would be
paralyzed and later die from some outrageous bone disease. At the funeral, my
parents would be screaming at the top of their lungs: "Jamal . . . ."

People might say then I didn't have to act so brave; why didn't Jamal
give the robbers what they wanted? Kaleem would be standing next to them
shinning his gold chain and saying, "I told him to run faster. Now who is going
to cut my hair?" The next week, my mom would give my barber clippers to my
next door neighbor who would use them to cut the hair of his dog Lassie. Within
three months, my cloths and shoes would be lined up in a box outside of one of
the many Salvation Army places. Of course people would continue with their
lives as if I never existed.

Sorry, I couldn't let that happen; I couldn't die that way and at least
not that day. It was Thursday; tomorrow was the day Kaleem and I wore our
best gear. I began to run as if lightning was chasing me. Branches from the short
trees were slapping against my chest, but I couldn't stop. Cotton was caught in
between my eyelashes, but I couldn't stop to remove it. When I reached the end
of the trail through the bushes, I decided to look back, and realized nobody was
chasing us.

"Kaleem, stop," I said while removing the green leaves off my cloths
and clearing my eyelashes.

"Why? I am not giving up my chain, you punk," said Kaleem as he
stopped and sat down.

. 61



"Who are you calling a punk, sir punk Kaleem? I didn't hear you say a word
back there. You were about to let them kill me for that stupid chain. I mean chain."

The car either lost us, or the robbers didn't even waste their precious
time trying to find us. I told Kaleem not to tell his or my mom about the
incident. My mom would sob all day and all night long. The police of course
would show up and ask if Kaleem and I provoked those clown robbers or were
gang rivals.



* * *



"What kind of haircut do you want Kaleem?"

"Give me a shallow fade. No. Taper the sides of my hair and fix my
goatee."

"Kaleem, you don't have a beard."

"I can't believe you pushed that man out of the way and ran," said
Kaleem while slapping his leg as he laughed.

"You know I was about to take the gun out of his hand and beat him
with it," I said.

"Jamal, do not start to exaggerate. You pushed him. I know you
probably peed in your pants doing it too," said Kaleem with a smile that spelled
jealousy all over it.

"He was scared of me. I thought he would shoot me out of being
terrified. Kaleem, you owe me your life and ten dollars for your haircut," I said
with my hands out waiting for that green paper. "Kaleem there goes the ugly
Volvo!" I said, and Kaleem ran out of my porch and through the backyard.
"Don't forget to wear your uptowns tomorrow," I bellowed to Kaleem.



62



p



o



e



\;



t



\



An Elephant Never Forgets

Dorothy Meczykowski

When I look at you
A long, grey trunk grows
From where your nose should be
Your ears sprout outward
Into wide leathery flaps,
Yearning to fly you away

You look back at me

With wrinkled, worn skin.

Piercing my gaze with accusation

You taunt me with bad memories;

Never willing to forgive and forget

Because an elephant never forgets

And I am not meant to be forgiven —

Just yet

So I stay caught in this limbo.

Anticipating the next stampede

Until the day the elephant

Departs your heart

And the man that once was

Is revealed



66



Encircle

Mike Tobey

Comforts cold and fast

Like sunlight on winter's mom

Disappear, reborn

Light envelops form

Fleeting comfort cascading

Sunset follows me.

Temporary home

A life is not quite its own

Transcend, pass over.

Carry on upon
The circle made unbroken

Finishes itself



67



The Birth of Tragedy

Jayson T. Jones

The birth of tragedy lay within me...

waiting..

wanting to escape...

It's crimson children run unbridled, through my veins,

swallowing every inch of my insides

dancing around my element

taunting my thoughts

devouring my flesh,

until I am forced to go seeking;

Seeking a breath,

a glimpse,

a touch,

a taste,

Seeking what I know does not exist

The birth of tragedy lay within me...

and it refuses to obey



68



Angels are Evil

A. Michael Forgette

Angels are evil

The ones that hold our hearts squeeze

Our bloody fist explodes

Beating flesh and dynamite

Virgin lips raise

Detonate

Boom

Lost

Have to hold the light in my eyes

Just the right way

So it reflects

And glows

And gets the attention of...

Boom

Naked eye

Naked eyes

Intertwined in space

We caught it

The unspoken seduction

Naked eyes fixed and hooked

Boom

Boom

I'll crafl: another

I'll build to destroy

I'll build to place in the way

Of the blast

...boom



69



Our Generation

Robert Lumas

The president decided to drop 21,500 more troops into Iraq.

It's no longer about winning the war, but just getting it over with.

The number one killer in the war is I.E.D.'s and December was the deadliest

month

in 2006.

My friend got shipped off to the Horn of Africa January 2007 and

who knows what the hell he'll be doing over there.

Speaking of hell, no one in religion seems to be getting along.

People are spending a lot of money on education in

America and we are still academically behind students in other countries.

We are still a lot dumber for a lot more money.

There might be a cure for AIDs that is being kept from the public.

Anything to do with stem cell research will piss people off. Unfortunately.

I wonder if anyone is used to gas going up to three dollars a gallon in the

summer.

Polar bears are dying, the fresh water dolphin is extinct and the

ice caps are melting at an extremely fast rate.

It would take a wall twenty-five meters high all the way around Florida to

keep it from being covered with water if the ice caps melt completely.

My brother wants to join the Marine Corps, but I told him to go to college

instead because he doesn't want to get shot at.

I told him he doesn't want to die.

He said, "Yeah I know," then asked me what an I.E.D. was.

People are concerned about the world ending.

Natural disasters don't concern us as much anymore but

our own hands- nuclear, biological, chemical, even global warming- worry us.

How much do they worry us? We still don't care enough to stop yet.

No, not yet.



70



Tomorrow's Just a Day Away

Dorothy Meczykowski

Sometimes the days run together

Like a wild pack of wolves

That travel in blurred images

Of black, white, and the shady grey

That hides its face in between the lines

That face we keep in dusty comers -

Longing to be forgotten and remain that way

Days like these ravage the mind to the point of no tomorrow

But tomorrow's just a day away

As the little redheaded icon once proclaimed

The epitome of innocence with the bright eyes and hopeful stares

A general of an army marching to the endless beat of time

Marching on with confident stride to fairy tale endings

That long ago ceased to exist

Wishing upon that taunting star

That burned out long before it had its chance to shine

But tomorrow never even comes for some

Who leave behind names and dates and memories

Waiting to fade with the western sunset

Along with withered newspapers lining dirty gutters

Containing inky headlines bled together with the tears of the clouds

History forever lost- not wanting to be remembered
People forever forgotten- not wanting to be found



71



Jaw

Mike Tobey

Your jaw impacted

Displaying guts and glory

That spill from the recesses of your jumbled maw

A retarded half-smile

Teeth all broken, diagonally in a row

Missing an eye for an eye for an eye

To my surprise, as you should know

I thought we'd be in this together,

Forever

But instead your static smile

Shows me your wires, radiators, carburetors

The broken jaw of a broken car

An accident.



72



Strangers

A. Michael Forgette



You turn and I'll smile
Light illuminates the soft exposed skin of your back

Touch...
You turn and I'll smile

Deep eyes

Looking through mine

My being uncovered and I say nothing

I'm naked

Craving your nudity

We both turn

My stomach floats

Take turns sneaking peeks

A wind blows and I smile

Your hair waves

Unspoken

Touching your thoughts

Conversation in silence

Unjustified

Unaware

Unsure

I wonder

I smile



73



The Traveler

Krista Bianchini

You sit upon your rock

Gazing up into the twilight sky

Traveler, where are you going?

This journey you're on has many twists and turns

And you wonder if you can handle the mysteries that lay ahead.

Nature's blessed you with spring-kissed earthen hair

And the soul of many an artist's ideas

Yet for some unknown reason

You hesitate.

The night has fallen dear traveler,

And you, enveloped in leaves and blankets

Try to sleep away your worries.

Your wants and needs cannot go hand in hand this time.

The stars kiss you asleep
And once more your mind readies itself for the future.

God has wrapped you in lily-scented light

As if to say your frailty is just an illusion.

You are a warrior sweet traveler

On a mission internal.

The life that your were bom to live lies ahead

With thorns and webs

But also with hope and beauty.



74



One Night in Paris

Creative Writing
Section 51

Lankity skanity,

skeletal entity,

many have stayed

in Hilton's hotel.

Parasite socialite

opportunistically

living the simple life.

Damn her sheets smell.



75



Lincoln Logs

J. Ezra Gordon

Junior year,

I caught my college roommate

jerking off to the Jesus channel,

I tease him for it endlessly

even though, in truth,

we pray the same way,

just to different gods.

I spend entire days letting out my id

which I tend to think is mild mannered

till its given room to roam.

I haven't regularly brushed my teeth in almost six years

simply because I found I didn't have to.

My teeth are starting to rot out my head

but I'm just amazed

every time the sun sets and rises even though

I didn't pick up my toothbrush

I also don't drive inside the lines

for the same reasons.

I love you, Allen,

I smoke marijuana every chance I get too,

I'm just not as proud of it as you are

I'm not in love, but I pretend I am
Sometimes I pretend I'm not in love even when I think I am

but nobody's fooling myself

I use the word "I" far too much

But I swear to myself

That I'm not all I'm concerned with.

I play with words like Lincoln Logs
but I'd pay a nickel a syllable

if they stood even a quarter as sturdy

76



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