By Michel Stone
"... We not talking in there. But then one man he get very crazy in the head,” Angel says, his perpetual smile lost now. “Is very bad. He screaming and he wanting his mama, but is no space in there and is no mama, either. I want to hit him in the face! You see, is no because I am a bad guy, but this man, he could get us caught, you know? ..."
"...Two years have passed and still no one has seen Rosalba Andrade. She was kidnapped soon after her 46th birthday, and has not reappeared. Her houses, cars, clothes, and other property have been divided among those who envied her and befriended her. Even her own family has stripped away at her riches. ..."
By Diego Renteria
"... above the mantelpiece was a large framed portrait of a boy no more than twelve years old. He looked down on everyone, eternally smiling for a school portrait, his hair spiky and clad in a gray school polo shirt. On a nearby stool were a backpack and some toys. On the mantelpiece was an unwrapped tamal, a glass of milk, and two cookies. The couches were arranged to face his portrait.
I knew what song they would request and secretly hoped I was wrong. ..."
By Milovan Pompa
"...In the ninth, I got the first out but the second hitter singled and stole second base. One of their best hitters was up. He had hit me hard earlier.
The count was two and two. It had been a little windy that night, though not anything to notice. I start to deliver my pitch. The wind picked up and a mini dust-devil funnel cloud about two feet tall suddenly spun right on home plate. ..."
By Richard Gatica
"...The absence of water in the toilet creates a powerful vacuum. Air from the cell is sucked into the drain. We do not have to communicate through the vent any more. We can hear each other through the drain, although there is a slight echo and hollow sound. By habit, some people will keep their toilet devoid of water while not in use. ..."
By David Chittenden
...So you could dig your hole to China anywhere you wanted. Well, I shouldn’t have said just anywhere. Because when the sewer came down our street, it was free, but you had to pay to be connected to it. Billy Joe's parents never felt it was worthwhile to pay, for they still had the outhouse there behind the house, and it was working fine. ...
By Monah Li
"...Over the years, I train myself to vomit without a noise. In public bathrooms, I sit all the way back on the seat and barf between my spread legs.
I’m envied for my slim figure. But the price I pay for this is steep:
By 45, I have full-blown osteoporosis. My teeth are replaced with implants, for the cost of two houses.
Relentless back-pain, constant fatigue and shame make me suicidal.
I pray for just one day of freedom, but I am stuck. ..."
By Alexis Rhone Fancher
I remember listening
to Bob Dylan in Donna Melville’s attic
bedroom, 3 a.m. We were
drinking her daddy’s bourbon, playing
Subterranean Homesick Blues over and over,
memorizing it word by mumbled word.
Johnny’s in the basement,
mixing up the medicine, I’m on the pavement, thinkin’ ‘bout
the government... Donna passed me the bottle.
Recently, I did writing workshops with students at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The results were powerful, if sometimes even disturbing, stories of real life and real moments. Read "Joe," a startling story of a misplaced word and its effect on a man...
By Gina Reyes
"...Joe was my shoulder to cry on. He was my companion to keep me occupied. He was there for me to kill time and help me keep my mind from getting stuck in a rut. We would lie around making jokes, laughing, playing spades over and over, and having a fun time together to pass time.
In the time we spent together, we built a stronger bond that turned into a love that was unmistakably precious.
He was willing to accept me and my unborn child, as well as the child I already had. He was willing to support us knowing he was not the father. ..."
Earlier this fall, I did a writing workshop with students in Pedro Ramirez's composition class at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.
The results, I think, were terrific, if many of the stories were a bit grim. I'm publishing a few of them over the next few weeks. Here's "The Last Day"....
By Christian Lockwood
I once had a house with a white picket fence. In it, I lived with a wife, and two children. Life seemed pretty good. But the shell shock from a tour in Libya fighting the war on terrorism tore me up, and drugs and alcohol became a way of life from which I could not free myself.
That is how one warm August day in 2009, well into my self-medication, I awake on the seat of my pickup after another night of no place to rest my head. My pickup, my dog Batman, and my cell phone are all I have left. My wife and kids have been embarrassed by me for the last time. ...
By Rachel Kimbrough
For four years, I could not remember what my son looked like alive.
"...If I shut my eyes and focused, I had one vague memory of him laughing--the second and last time he ever laughed, immediately before the nap from which he would never wake. But I couldn’t remember his face. ..."
By David Chittenden
"...There was a breeze, a bit of a chill, a touch of dampness. I looked up and saw that the sun was low in the sky. Then the awful thought occurred to me: How are we going to get down from here? ..."
By Rachel Kimbrough
...He inched forward, wagging the walking stick in front of him, his outstretched palm and stick contacting the edge of the pavilion simultaneously. He walked around the structure instead of crashing into it. The woman recognized the achievement with applause.
They bonked around that way for a minute or so, turned the corner. I, mesmerized, snapped out of it only when the fellow in the truck behind me honked angrily ...
By David Orr
"...The ball flew over my head, and I ducked under the rope and ran as fast as I could past the hopscotch girls to chase it. The ball landed near the jump ropes and a circle of more girls playing jacks on the far side of the playground. Just as I picked up the ball, there was Sister! ..."
By Sam Quinones
"... With my jingle going loud, I didn't hear him come up. "Hey, you!”
Next to me was another ice cream truck. Sitting in the springy driver's seat, which was begging for mercy, sat an enormous squat white man, with a cap, a mustache and a scraggly beard. His belly-button peeked out from beneath a faded blue t-shirt. ... `This is my town. I'm going to dust your ass of the road.'..."
He roared off. As I watched him go, I said to myself, `There goes Big Al.’
By Anthony L. Quinones
"... The lights went down and the curtain started to open. Then the announcer came over the sound system. Due to having performed for underprivileged children of Washington D.C. earlier in the day, he said, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland will not perform tonight’s ballet. Instead, they will be replaced by their understudies -- a Mr. Bujones and a Ms. Van Hamel.
The audience went wild. A man two rows in front of our group stood up and shook his fist. The Japanese ambassador, who was sitting in the presidential box, walked out in protest, with his entourage in tow. ..."
By Richard Gatica
"...The day before I killed Donald Evans I did not even know he existed. The day he died I was smoking crack cocaine and when I smoke crack, nothing else matters. Not family, not friends – not even God. ...
At the time, I was out of money and robbing drug dealers on the streets of Los Angeles. ..."
By David Lee Caudill
"...I never got to hunt with my father. As far back as I can remember I would watch my father, along with his brothers and their father, come home from a hunting trip. They would show off their deer, explaining every detail that led to the kill. Then they would describe how the deer feel, how far he had run after the shot. I was never there for the fall, the shot, the first step into the woods before the sun sparkled on the frostbitten fields of tall grass and dormant wheat. But I was always there when they came home. ..."
By Frank Deese
"...Karen seemed to get what Min Thant meant while I stood nearby distracted by the round alluring eyes of Phoebe Cates, wondering what could possibly merit her poster being the only decoration on the bare walls of this dirt-floored Burmese home. Phoebe Cates was certainly pretty and spank-worthy enough for Judge Reinhold in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” – but why would Min’s family worship her like a foreign goddess? ..."
By Matthew Loflin Davis
After getting back from Thailand without my score, I wound up on the streets of Ann Arbor -- the homeless shelter on Huron to be exact. I had built up a sizable habit in Asia and now was sweating it out cold turkey in bunk beds with a bunch of other junkies, drunks and thieves who swept through the room at night going through the pockets of the destitute, and pretending to be friends in the day. ...