Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New Story: Jesus and Elvis Have a Little Conversation

What if the King of Rock ’n’ Roll and the King of Kings were seatmates on a cross-country flight?

That’s the premise of my latest short story which appears in the current issue of The New Guard. Here’s how Jesus and Elvis Have a Little Conversation begins:
     Even before he sat next to me on the Minneapolis-to-Seattle flight, I could tell he was the kind of guy who talked to strangers. His face was large and loose with a tiny, tropical-fish mouth. As he walked sideways down the aisle with his carry-on, those small thick lips were working up and down, then side-to-side, as if he was mumbling, “Me, me, me, me.” His eyes rolled in their sockets, keeping time with the mouth. I thought of those fish that live at the bottom of the ocean and get all jittery and bug-eyed when you bring them to the surface. Some of them even explode from the pressure, swim bladders pushing out through the mouth.
     This guy wore a shiny black windbreaker with gold embroidery over one breast, and though he hadn’t turned around, I knew there’d be a big logo on the back, a motorcycle club or maybe a Vietnam veterans group, stitched with dragons. This is all I had time to see before I realized he was about to sit next to me and I flicked my eyes away. Today, of all days, I was in no mood for small talk.
I received my copy of The New Guard yesterday, so I haven’t had time to dig deep into it, but skimming the stories and poems, I can already tell there's some great reading ahead of me. Based on the first sentences alone (my typical method of skimming), the authors know how to engage the reader with bold language. Here are some of my favorite opening lines in the issue:

First, there is Jimmy’s six-pack of O.V., warm and bereft.
     Last Call at the Dogwater Inn
     by Kristyn Dunnion

On the TV in the Hotel Playa Bar, a bunch of us watched and clapped and cheered while up on the moon Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin floated around in their space suits, hit golf balls, and did scientific experiments. In front of God and everybody way up there on the moon they jumped around and danced a weightless and silly conga.
     Moon Walk in Mazatlan
     by Roger David Popper

We were all on the boat looking for bodies.
     The Red Dress
     by K. C. Sinclair

The trouble arrived in a white panel van in late August.
     The Picker
     by Carol Smith

The Monday after Thanksgiving, Gemma returns to work at Superior Advertising. The heat of their almost-affair had burned off during the break and she and Holland are confidently just-friends again.
     by Amber Kusmenko

As for the poetry, these first lines caught my eye:

Thank you brain for your six-lane highway
           that plays half a dozen bars of Bartok
                      on repeat refrain all night
while sorting tax receipts
     Letter to My Brain at 3AM in a Plea for Sleep
     by Sarah Rice

You dissolve in your chair
and the anchorman’s voice takes you down,
down through the circles of hell.
     by Wulf Losee

The lab stinks of roasted meat.
     Science as the Letter S
     by William Doreski

The northern March lies deep
in snow, but winter’s black-and-white
begins its swell to sepia
     Contact Sheets
     by Anne Witty

Editor Shanna McNair has picked a great lineup of fiction and poetry and packaged it in an issue that features the delicious cover art Dinosaur Feeding Frenzy by Robert C. Jackson. I look forward to carving out a little time so I can sit down and dive deep into these pages.

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