March 29, 2015

Crocuses In Spring – by Drew Payne

(c) 2015, Drew Payne.

When I reached the grave I saw the crocuses poking through the grass. Their oval flowers and sharp, thin leaves were pushing apart the almost dormant blades of grass. All winter the grass had remained the same, no signs of new growth, just a haphazard carpet filling the stone oblong border in front of the grave. It was as if the grave had its own garden, the edges marked out by a small wall of stone bricks, less than six inches high.

Today the green carpet was dotted with purple and white crocuses, a sudden splash of colour on that old spring day. I sat down on the wooden bench barely a few feet away and stared at the grave.

I never put flowers on his grave. Flowers died so quickly, turning almost overnight into brown and lifeless husks, and there was enough death in this place already. Instead I had turned the plot in front of his grave into a tiny garden. I had planted different bulbs under the grass that would flower in spring; and then throughout the summer and autumn I would tend the flowers I would plant there. Only during winter was his grave left lifeless, the cemetery refusing to allow me to plant an evergreen shrub there.

In life Denny had loved flowers though he could never remember their names. He’d refer to them by their colour. With unusual coloured flowers it was easy to identify them, but if the flower was red or yellow Denny would be lost trying to describe them, he was never very fluent with words. But he had loved crocuses, “Those purple, egg shaped flowers,” he called them.

He had been tall and lean, not like the over-pulled gym addicts we have now, and with an almost mane of blonde hair, which he tended and preened more than I ever did to his garden now. I had fallen in love with him the moment I first saw him. I’d never believed in love-at-first-sight, yet the moment I saw Denny, holding the centre of the whole room’s attention, I was completely lost to him.

To Denny I was just always his “mate”. I was the one to go shopping with, to gossip with, to go clubbing with, to bitch about his job with and borrow money off, but I was never the one to be a lover with. I was short, tubby with mousy brown hair; I was nowhere near to the Gods Denny would sleep with. But those Gods would move on and I would always be there for Denny. I was proud of that, I was the one he always turned to no matter what, not those Gods who would disappear.

I was the one he turned to when without warning he got a letter from his first boyfriend, saying that he should “get tested”. I went with him to the clinic and back again six weeks later for his results, that one word that changed everything, positive. (Inside those six weeks his ex-boyfriend had died).

I was the one who visited him every day in hospital, not his family or any of those Gods he’d slept with, just me every day, but I never minded. It wasn’t a chore but a labour of love; I wanted to see him every day. He was Denny and I didn’t want to lose him from my life. Though at the end those beautiful looks had gone, his skin was grey and stretched tight over his skeleton, gone was his lean body, and his blonde hair was lank and greasy; but I didn’t care, he was still my Denny.

I knew he’d accepted that his life was now so short, when one day he’d clutched at my hand and said, “I didn’t want one of them graves that no one goes to. That’s all dirty and overgrown. My granddad’s grave was like that and I hated having to go to it.”

“I’ll make sure that it isn’t,” I promised him. “I’ll look after it, I promise.”

“Thanks, I love you mate,” he said and it was the only time he did say it.

His mother wanted him cremated, I was certain it was so she could have his ashes scattered somewhere and forget about him, she’d certainly forgotten about him when he was in hospital. But I’d made Denny name me his executor so I made sure he had the funeral he wanted and gave him the grave I’d promised him.

I came here every Sunday morning to tend Denny’s grave, I have since he died. My partner Oliver calls it my “Sunday Duty” but he never begrudges me it. He’s come to understand that it’s something I have to do on my own.

During the winter I just sit on this bench and watch his grave, there’s no life in the earth so no flowers to tend. During the other months I tend to the flowers there, keeping his grave as alive as I can to keep him as alive as I can. That day I just sat on the bench. Even with the crocuses growing there was nothing to tend to. His headstone is a simple white stone, his name and dates of his life craved into it, and the single phrase, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

I know no one else comes here, the cemetery’s groundskeeper has told me enough times, but that didn’t give me any comfort. He’d been twenty-four when he died, back in 1986. If he’d lived he would be fifty-two now, still two years older than me, middle-aged and going to seed, like me. But that had never happened and I was sat here, the only one keeping him alive.

My phone buzzed in my pocket. It was a text from Oliver.

“Are you finished? Are you coming home?” It read.

“Soon,” I texted him back.

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Drew Payne

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March 16, 2015

The Big Game – by Amethyst Hope Hethcoat

Mark’s eyes flutter slowly like a wounded moth.  A throbbing force threatens to shatter his skull.  Sharp pain engulfs his bowels.  All that is visible is a darkness which cloaks the truth.   As the linebacker for his college football team, Mark is well accustomed to physical discomfort.  Sprained ankles and dislocated shoulders barely faze him.  He thrives on adrenaline, performing best under pressure.  “Fight through the pain, boys.  Don’t be a bitch,” Coach would always say.  But this—this is different.  It’s isolated.  It’s deep.

His pupils dilate with the passage of each second until finally he can see an X-Box console below a plasma screen.  To the right, on a dresser, he can make out the outline of a canister of Axe body spray, its scent tainting the room.  Mark struggles to inhale oxygen through its burning mist.  Crumpled on the floor are denim jeans, as wholesome and well loved as the boy who wore them.

Just as his eyes begin to discern a Megan Fox poster, Mark feels something wet, firm, and hairy press into him.  He realizes he is naked and that beside him lies an unclothed man.  How could such an encounter arise?  Two naked men in a bed.  Such erotica transgresses his God-given design.  What’s worse, he was on the receiving end:  the bitch.  He is disgusted—no infuriated.  This can’t be real.  Never would he allow such an atrocity to occur.  He is after all a star jock; a beloved athlete; an all American boy with golden charm and Christian morals.  No.  What he is experiencing is simply a sick nightmare, a trick devised by Satan to test his unshakable strength.

A strong arm pulls him in closer to a chest ridged with muscle.  Fighting through the searing fog, Mark jerks upright before heaving onto the soft sheets covering him.   Convulsing, he stares into the puddle of sick before him.  The man beside him wraps Mark in a snug blanket before cleaning the mess.  His eyes fully adjusted, Mark recognizes the square jaw, the un-groomed brows, and the golden hair.  But more striking than these masculine features is the solid gold crucifix worn by none other than Jacob—his best friend, his dorm mate, and—he dare not think it.

“Hey dude, are you okay?” asks Jacob.  How dare Jacob look at him with those pleading eyes which so convincingly convey concern.  How dare he pretend to care.

“Screw you.”  Jacob grabs Mark’s gladiatorial arms.  Mark jerks away, contempt pulling the handsome corners of his mouth into a foul grimace.

“Seriously, what’s wrong?”  Eyes wet and wide, Jacob faces his friend.  Hot blood rises to the surface of his cheeks, coloring them scarlet.

“What do you think, asshole?”

“Come on, man.  Don’t make this any weirder than it already is.”

“‘Come on, man?’  Are you kidding me?”  Mark rises from the bed.  The blanket drops to the floor.

“You know you wanted it.  Don’t get all defensive on me now.  This isn’t football.  Remember—I’m on your team.”

“I don’t remember anything from tonight.”  Eyes locked, Mark concentrates on Megan’s juicy breasts, refusing to let his eyes stray toward the traitor.

“I don’t know, man.  You drank some, but not that much.  Just chill okay.  What can I do to make you feel better?”

“You can stay the hell away from me,” says Mark.  Jacob joins him in front of the poster.

“You don’t mean that,” Jacob whispers, resting his head on Mark’s shoulder.

“The hell I don’t.  You touch me again and I’ll—”

“What?  Tell me.”  Mark feels Jacob’s warm breath caress his neck.  Paralyzed, he remains firmly in position.

“I hate you,” Mark responds, his voice strangled and dry.  Jacob walks back to bed, picking up the discarded blanket on his way.  Sitting Indian style on the mattress, he fluffs a pillow which he strategically places on Mark’s side of the bed.

“Goodnight, Mark.  Get some sleep.  Gotta be ready for the big game tomorrow, you know.”

Mark trudges back to bed, not uttering a word.  He climbs in, his face toward the wall.  Jacob pulls the covers up over them both.  Even in the darkness, Mark sees Megan taunt him with her raven hair and too tight shirt:  the poster just another defense in the one game he can never win.

 


 

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Amethyst Hope Hethcoat loves cats, pop culture, and peace. A graduate of Chapman University, she searches for Truth behind the Orange Curtain. She hopes you find her work disturbing as well as pleasing. 
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February 22, 2015

I. Claudius – by P.A. deMatteo

 

The friendless,

Irreligious, elderly West Village Manhattan Fruit, an I. Claudius Westenhouse the t’ird,

Rose from a deadly slumber

That Chrissmas morn’,

Ripped an illicit if not

Colossally revoltin’

Machine-gun fart

Of such positively demonic intensity,

That Lenny Grabler and family’s

Little puppy Sam even began barkin’,

For the luv of Christ.

Then, I. Claudius hit the east side

Bathhouse like the

Plague had hit ‘em,

Despite his cussed

300 lbs. of lard.

Father Damien was there,

Prancin’ around nude with

His  27 year old,

10 inch Dominican dinga-ling

Bouncin’ the hell up and down

‘sif he was purposely wigglin’ up

A storm.

Padre Damien completely

Ignored I. Claudius

With the bitchiness that only

A new York city faggot

Was capable ov.

 

Some other Caribbean

Hispanics left the steam

Room, their cocks

Humongous as the

Italian sausages they done craved.

 

Those cocks were off limits

To I. Claudius And all of t’other

Fruits o’er 45 y.o.

 

Anyhow,

To make an

All too long story

Short,

  1. Claudius picked

up a nasty

case o’

bedbugs at the

east side club.

Father Damien wasn’t even

Touched by ‘em.

  1. Claudius had ta throw all ov his cussed

Furniture out. Even a

Minimalist extermination done by his

Landlord hymen berger did nuttin’.

‘twas a rent-control.

Anyhow,

  1. Claudius

Gave up the dance,

Moved down the hell

To the Jersey Shore,

& quickly became so

Utterly bereft

That he

Jumped into the north atlantic

Late one night

Just dreamin’

Of 18 year old studs galore,

Until a

Wave knocked him out

& drowned him,

Which may have been

All 4 da better,

Indeed!

 

The End!

 

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P.A. deMatteo

  • During the late 1980’s, my poetry was published and featured in Manhattanite Harold Serban’s THE POETRY EDGE. I was also a regular reader at the Newyorican Poet’s Café but the late night hours and the ordeals of returning to the Bronx got the best of me.  A short story of mine entitled TONY diPASQUALE published in NUVEIN MAGAZINE. Currently, I have several poems accepted for GAY FLASH FICTION and INCLEMENT MAGAZINE.

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