“A Bargain at Twice the Price” (AUDIO)

Read on The Story Discovery Podcast by Onyx Publications

If you had known Beth would leave two months after the closing date, you never would have bought the shoebox starter home on Oak View Drive in a sleepy commuter town with one shitty pizza joint and two convenience stores and nothing to do on weeknights but hang out at the rat-hole townie bar drinking too much bottom-shelf whiskey.

If you had known Beth would find you so utterly lacking as a man and a human and a partner, that she would look at you with such disappointment that shame would rush down to the soles of your feet and back up to the roots of your red hair, you never would have proposed on that trip to the Keys with the ring you bought with your third-to-last paycheck from the cable company that would soon lay you off due to “unforeseeable market shifts.” You were a customer service agent. Now you’re a chump, and according to Beth, an alcoholic.

If you had known all that and more, you wouldn’t be sitting shirtless and hungover on your tiny front porch in pajama pants, drinking your fourth cup of black coffee, watching Tim across the street water his half-dead lawn for the third day in a row. You wouldn’t be hoping for someone to walk down the sidewalk with a dog or two, maybe a fugly baby, just to have something interesting to look at.

But you didn’t know, so here you are, tits out, and Tim just waved so you raise your coffee cup in an oddly formal salute and get ready for the nothingness of the day to settle into your bones like a damp chill.

Click the podcast link for more, or go to Etched Onyx Magazine to read the text!

“Makeover” (AUDIO)

Read on the Blood & Jazz Podcast by Last Girls Club

“What are we doing with this one?” asked Janine, Bernard’s uncertified surgical assistant.

The Sculpting Clinic was world known, at least in certain, whispering circles. Clients were mostly women, but men came in too—not that the clinic’s services came cheap for any body. Patients submitted willing flesh and blank checks to Bernard, The Body Sculptor, agreeing to a carte blanche plastic surgery makeover. Perfectly legal, at least in this country. Bernard was an artist, after all. If people wanted basic nips and tucks, they could stay in the U.S. and pull over at any suburban L.A. stripmall.

Janine circled that afternoon’s client, the woman’s naked, unconscious form laid out on the operating table like a spring picnic. Janine was more than an assistant, really—she was an apprentice. At least that’s how she thought of herself, here to learn from the master. Ever faithful, she’d followed him from state to state and then country to country, outrunning laws and lawsuits and license revocations until they’d found this blessed safe harbor where they could work in peace and impunity.

But with freedom to practice came a certain boredom for Bernard. Janine heard it lately in his sighs and caught him, often, staring out his office window at the back alley’s brick wall.

She saw it again now. “Doctor?” she said. She only called him Bernard in her head.

He spoke without looking at her, his eyes assessing the corpse-like figure on the steel table. “I’m sick of breast augmentations and removals. Ass injections. Facial rearrangements.”

“You’re evolving,” said Janine, liking the way the word wrapped around her tongue.

Silence.

Then, “I’m evolving,” he repeated. And again. “I’m evolving.”

And just like that it was back—the fevered, glorious look of an artist inspired by a blank canvas and his own simmering genius. The look that gave Janine’s life direction and purpose so long ago. She felt a throb low in her sea-green scrubs. But she told herself it was mostly professional admiration she felt for him, the awe of a rapt student. Mostly. She swallowed and gave her capped head a little shake. Focus, she told herself, on the art. The process. She pressed play on the stereo in the corner; barely perceptible acid jazz seeped into the room.

Then Bernard grabbed the purple surgical marker Janine held out to him like a baton. He drew in a frenzy, long slashes across the woman’s chest, dotted lines on her thighs, squares on her sagging stomach. Something like a spiral on her neck. Then he stood back and looked to Janine, waiting.

She hesitated. The heart rate monitor beeped once, twice, three times.

“Wow,” she said finally, because that’s what she always said, and why rock the boat now? The woman would stand out in a crowd. That’s what all Bernard’s clients wanted, anyway—not to fade into the background. “So… Avant-garde,” she continued. “Almost… Cubism? Expressionism?” She bit her lip. Her turn to wait.

Silence.

But it was the right thing.

Bernard grinned and pulled up his face mask. Janine let out the breath she’d held trapped in her chest and got ready to suction.

Meeting Nancy (AUDIO)

“Meeting Nancy” is a true ghost story, read by Antony Frost on the Terrify Me! podcast. Episode 8, March 2022.

Years ago–2012 or 2013–my then-fiancé and I went to a ghost hunt at the Dunkirk Lighthouse, a historical lighthouse that is still in use in Dunkirk, NY. It dates back to 1827, and has seen its share of death–not only those who died in it and near it on land, but unfortunates who died in the waters of Lake Erie in shipwrecks just off our shores. It’s a popular ghost-hunting location, and this particular event was also a fundraiser for the upkeep of the lighthouse itself…

(For the rest of the story, follow the link above to the Terrify Me! podcast, Episode 8.)

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