by Jeff Dupuis
A man in the throes of a breakup is selling all of his possessions on Kijiji and Craigslist. Greg’s couch, his VHS tapes, obsolete desktop computer, and cow-shaped clock – it all must go. Between pot smoking, pizza eating, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, he meets with would-be buyers, taking his old life apart piece by discount piece in order to figure out what went wrong.
HALF OF MY LIFE is up for sale on Kijiji, the other half on Craigslist. Now I just have to count down the minutes on my La vache qui rit clock—a steal at five bucks by the way—and see who comes calling. Technically the clock’s not even mine, but I’m selling everything.
My digital camera is still looped around my wrist and dangles as if from the gallows. This morning, like a crime scene technician, I carefully photographed the apartment and everything in it, room by room. Then I uploaded all the pics, and am now open for business.
The telephone rings and I part with my couch for forty bucks and the bullshit Ikea lamps covered in Chinese lantern paper for fifteen each. I prop the screen door open with an old phone book kept only for that purpose, and let the pot smoke drift off the balcony into the alley behind my building.
A nice mellow lowers itself onto the apartment like a painted wood moon above the stage in a play. The next call is for the obsolete desktop computer—mouse, keyboard, monitor included—all for ten dollars. It’s almost useless, but someone’s grandma will want it for writing e-mails to grandchildren or schoolfellows from the old country. “Agnes, can you believe it? Me, owning a computer!”
The lady on the phone asks all sorts of basic questions so I take out a pen and pad and write down instructions on how to use the thing in my clearest stoner scrawl. I add little pictures for further clarification.
“You will hold it for me, won’t you? I’m driving an awfully long way,” she says.
“My word is my bond.”
“It’s for my mother.”
“Of course it is.”
An idiot grin hangs across my face like a “Happy Birthday” banner on the back wall of a surprise party. I hang up the phone and rest it on my thigh, too lazy to shift and squirm until I can slide it into my pocket. The cow on the clock smiles at me, a perpetual, old-friend smile, as if this is the first time we’ve seen each other in years and all is forgiven.
My first customer arrives, a sixty-something man with wire-frame glasses, the kind who tries to intellectualize the hard-on he’s had for the Beatles for the past half-century.
“Nice apartment,” he says, quietly.
“Nice turtleneck,” I say.
about the author
JEFF DUPUIS writes fiction, poetry and satire. He is madly in love with baseball and still daydreams that he can become a world-class athlete from the comfort of his basement. His work has been published on The Barnstormer and in magazines and journals such as Valve, Foliate Oak Magazine and University of Toronto Magazine.
from the library
At the Bar
by Rebecca Rosenblum
Health care workers on a night out unwind, allowing the anxieties and passions they've had to suppress on the job finally uncoil, like tendrils creeping out into the world - and into each other. Written with empathy and panache, this story is a portrait of briefly flaring humanity - of people granted a temporary reprieve from professionalism, and not quite knowing what to do with it.
“At the Bar is Rosenblum at her best - exploring the complicated nature of work and relationships with her trademark perceptiveness, humour, and compassion, and creating characters that will stay with you long after the story is over.”
— Amy Jones, author of What Boys Like and Other Stories
When I'm Old, When I'm Grey
by Andrew Wilmot
After an unexpected malfunction, the technology which enables humanity to cross vast distances has separated an interstellar traveler from the love of her life — not in space, but in time. Now, while her companions remain in stasis, she must endure the loneliness of the journey until the moment her lover wakes.
Winner of the 2015 Friends of Merril Short Story Contest, When I'm Old, When I'm Grey imagines the strange — and strangely familiar — forms that fear and longing can take, as we venture forth into the unknown of the future.
by Jack Bootle
On an isolated English beach a man looks back on his school days, recalling the joy and torment of a secret love affair with a boy full of strange ideas, a boy obsessed with the language of the King James Bible. Moments from their relationship return to him: the hidden meetings on the beach, the first attempts at sex, the boredom of a school assembly in summertime, the cruelty of a young English teacher. But most of all he remembers the boy’s words. They’re words that, years later, will haunt him as he tries to come to terms with the person he has become.
“Psalm 77 is the type of story that one wants to read over and over, searching for meanings previously unseen. It is laced with the hidden, the secret, the sacred. From the sand dunes and their private longings in school to the verses, the imagery, and the final paragraphs, there is so much to uncover . . ." (Read full review)
— Amanda Miller from shortsundone.ca
by Naomi K Lewis
As a boy, Timmy (Sir Timothy Brian F. the Fantabulous) tells tall, tragic tales to get attention from the adults in his life - particular his busy mother and Dr. Bass, his nerdy-cool neighbour. As a young man, his escalating lies destroy his relationships, alienate his loved ones, and land him in hot water with police; but that doesn’t stop him from crying wolf again and again.
by Marielle Mondon
At Georgetown University, a music student and part-time nude life model becomes involved with the first true passion of her life, a man who awakens her to the weight of experience she already possesses - as well as the ups and downs yet to come.
Deep Breaths Underwater
by Meghan Rose Allen
June's mother is getting married and there's nothing June can do about it. Counting down the days to the wedding while trapped with a sort-of friend and unwanted family-to-be at their lakeside cottage in the Kawarthas, June searches desperately for a way to make the world - and her life - stand still.
This Is a Love Crime
by Lee Kvern
Marta is a human resources employee at a grocery store chain. She moves through the days passively, always taking the path of least resistance, until a case at work - that of a hijab-wearing woman, in defiance of a strict no-hats policy - awakens her to the injustices of her own life.
“This Is a Love Crime by Lee Kvern is a cunning and intensely human look at one of the central issues of our time. It negotiates the space between belief, racism, liberty, and sexuality with curiosity and compassion.”
— Todd Babiak, bestselling author of Toby: A Man and The Garneau Block
“Lee Kvern paints with a scalpel. With characteristic unflinching honesty, she peels the relationship between Marta and Corbin back to quivering nerves in This Is a Love Crime and juxtaposes it against veiled assumptions about cultural oppression. The narrative leaps crackle with energy and empathy. When I read Kvern’s stories, I’m seduced by exquisite detail and—love or loathe them—left with the scent of her characters long after the last page.”
— Betty Jane Hegerat, author of Delivery and The Boy
“In This Is a Love Crime, Lee Kvern uses the intricately drawn characters of Corbin and Marta to explore the charged topics of ethnicity and Western modes of submission and control. Written in Kvern’s distinctive, poetic, and multi-layered style, the story leaves us with warm insight into all the characters—and challenges our hearts and preconceptions.”
— Barb Howard, author of Whipstock, Notes for Monday, and The Dewpoint Show
Trigger Finger Blues
by Chad Pelley
Marcel, a sensitive sniper, knew his life was missing something. But he didn't know what until he set his crosshairs on it: Violet Caine. A ginger-headed lover of Thai food, wanted dead simply because her brother messed with the wrong bike gang. It's a story of redemption coming too late, and the ways happenstance can turn a warm man cold. Then warm again. Whether fate wrote his troubled life, or he wrote it himself, he wants Violet Caine to be the end of it - be it figuratively or literally.