A Matter of Time

Posted on: October 29, 2013

Phil twiddled his thumbs and waited anxiously for his name to be called. He bided his time by counting the number of clocks strewn around the stark-white office.

Forty-eight. Forty-nine. Fif…

“Phillip Warner.”


Phil stood up and approached the reception desk.

“Third door on the right,” she instructed.

Phil nodded and proceeded down the bright corridor.

One. Two. Three.

He took a deep breath and rapped on the door with his knuckles.

“COME IN,” a voice beckoned from the other side of the barrier.

Phil grabbed the knob and slowly turned it clockwise until it came to an abrupt stop. The voice resumed its commands as he pushed the door forward.

“Mr. Warner. Please. Take a seat.”

Phil scanned the room until his eyes were drawn to a man in an all-white suit frantically waving him towards his desk.

“Quickly, Mr. Warner. You should know now more than ever that time is valuable, and limited.”

The word “time” startled Phil from his daze like the snap of a hypnotist’s fingers. He closed the door behind him and took a seat in a white chair facing the Colonel Sanders doppelgänger.

“Alright, Mr. Warner. You’re here to apply for a loan.”

“That is correct,” Phil replied, despite the lack of a question.

“So get on with it. How much time are you looking for?”

“Well,” Phil paused, caught off guard by the need to throw out an actual number. “I guess however much I would’ve had if I didn’t do that thing I did.”

“You mean kill yourself?”

“If we’re being blunt about it.”

“I don’t have time for tact, Mr. Warner.”

“Fine. Then yes, I’d like whatever time I would’ve had if I didn’t try to kill myself.”

“DID kill yourself, Mr. Warner. You are dead, and by your own volition, mind you.”

The man’s candid words hit Phil harder than the chilling waters beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

“I know,” he conceded. “And I regret it.”

Phil looked down at his feet and began rubbing the toes of his dark leather dress shoes together, hoping to spark a bit of sympathy from his inquisitor.

“Obviously,” the man responded. “Otherwise, you would have no use for a loan, now would you?”

“I thought you didn’t want to waste time?”

“I don’t.”

“Then will you PLEASE just tell me if and how I can get my life back?”

“You mean the life you cut short?”


The man smirked and leaned back in his chair, settling in for further interrogation.

“Tell me something, Mr. Warner, what makes you a safe investment?”

“I’ve seen the light.”

The man threw his head back in laughter while clasping his hands.

“Everyone sees the light when they die, Mr. Warner.”

“Well, it changed my perspective on things.”

“Death tends to do that to people.”

“What do you want me to say?”

Phil’s tone prompted the man to assume a more serious posture.

“I want you to say something that makes me believe you’ll break the pattern you’ve been repeating your entire life.”

“What do you mean my entire life? This is the one, and if you’re generous enough to give me a second chance, the ONLY time I ever have or will try to kill myself.”

“Killed yourself.”


The man gave Phil a moment to calm down before continuing his assessment.

“Do you know what suicide is, Mr. Warner?”

“Probably not in the way you’re thinking.”

“Suicide is quitting, Mr. Warner. Have you ever quit before?”

“Of course! Everybody quits from time to time.”

“And do you see anything wrong with that?”

“No! Well, I mean, it depends?”

“On what, Mr. Warner?”

“On what you lose.”

“What did you lose by quitting life, Mr. Warner?”


“What’s ‘everything,’ Mr. Warner?”

“Well, I have a daughter.”

“And what will you miss about her the most?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“You don’t know yet?”

“To be honest, I haven’t really been Father of the Year. I want to change that.”

“Admirable. What else?”

“I’d like to be a better husband.”

“To which wife?”

“The most recent one, obviously. Or maybe a new one? I don’t know. I just know I’d be a better husband this time around.”

“Okay. What else?”

“Does there NEED to be something else?”

“If you want more time, yeah, there kind of does.”


The man propped his elbows up on the desk and stared Phil dead in the eyes.

“Because, Mr. Warner, so far you’ve given me nothing but two massive regrets and some lofty aspirations.”

“Of course I have regrets. Doesn’t everybody?”

“Yes, Mr. Warner, everybody has regrets, but you’re lacking results.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What are you proud of, Mr. Warner? What would you CONTINUE doing with your life If I grant you this loan?”

The question swept in like a drone strike on Phil’s stockpile of rebuttals. The man could see Phil’s eyelids quiver like a final death rattle.

“Nothing,” Phil responded in his calmest tone since entering the office. “I wouldn’t want anything in my life to stay the same.”

“Then what do you really want, Mr. Warner?”

Phil laughed, finally realizing what he’s been wanting all along.

“I guess I want a new life.”

“Well, Mr. Warner, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do about that. The best I can do is send you back to the life you no longer want, but I think we both know how that will end, don’t we?”

Phil responded with a single nod.

“So, what do I do now?” Phil asked.

“You walk out that door and enter the Great Unknown,” the man responded, pointing to Phil’s final exit.

“Will it be better than my not-so-great known?”

“You’ll see.”

Phil could tell his time had officially run out. He stood up from the chair, gave the man a hesitant wave and turned towards the door. The wall facing him was void of any pictures, color or clocks. There was only nothingness, and Phil was fine with that.

Written by: Mark Killian
Photograph by: Jaemin Riley

How to Dispose of a Dead Body

Posted on: October 21, 2013

Rainey struggles trying to get the corpse out of the trunk. I mean, I get it – it’s a big corpse stuffed into a tiny trunk. No leg room whatsoever. It took us a good twenty minutes just to get the fucker in there. Hell, I’m no engineer. Rainey can’t even spell engineer. But still, it’s a dead body. How hard can it be?

“You want some help, man?”

Rainey grunts and slips and gets the thing halfway out. He goes for the torso first so the corpse’s right arm is hanging real languid-like out of the open trunk.

“Naw, bro,” Rainey says. “I got this. Been watching a bunch of Breaking Bad, lately.”

I shrug and smoke the rest of my cigarette and look up to the big MOTEL sign above us.

The sign says the joint was established in 1940 and fuck me proper if it made it to 41’. The motel is deserted, and no wonder, out here in the fucking desert – no shit nobody wants to stay out here. Might as well advertise directly to serial killers and drifter vampires.

Kill someone? Come on down! Free HBO!

The sign looks good though. Very classy. Pretty clean and not missing any letters or anything. Like they hired a drunken caretaker who said fuck it to the motel buildings but took great pride in his sign. Dude probably would sit under the sign and drink whiskey and mutter things like, “A man can only do so much.”

But why here? Why the sign? Fuck me if I know. This is all Rainey’s idea.

See, Rainey has been part of The Family much longer than I have. I’m still a newbie when it comes to disposing of bodies; in fact, this is my first trip out to the desert. Big Don Martino, the big shit of the big shits, even gave me a crucifix to celebrate the moment.

“Hold to it tight, Niño,” he said, laying the cross delicately in my hand. “Do not let it go. No matter what.”

When Don Martino speaks, you best listen, so I fingered the cross all the way out to the desert as Rainey listened to his self-help tapes, that shit bumping in the little Nissan with fake New Mexico plates.

You are worth something. Now, say it with me. You are worth something.

Fucking Rainey, playing along, mouthing that he’s “worth something.”

It’s starting to get dark by the time homeboy gets the body out of the trunk.

“Yo!” he shouts at me. “Get the flashlight out of the glove compartment. And the boombox. Get the boombox out the backseat.”

I do as I’m told. The boombox looks about as old and useless as the motel buildings surrounding their precious sign.

“What the fuck are we doing with this boombox?” I ask for not the first time. “Seriously, what’s with all the mystery?”

The mystery is why Rainey, of all fucking people, is the designated disposer of bodies. As it goes, The Family is the type of family that often has to dispose of corpses. Heavy lies the crown sort of thing. And the Don? Well, El Jefe has decided that Rainey is the man to handle this rather important job. Personally, I think it’s a bit much for a guy who takes things for granite (“Solid like stone”), but that’s why I’m here…Rise and rise and rise. A soldier’s gotta find his spot in this world and The Don has made it clear that this is an important job.

“Don’t ask so many fucking questions,” Rainey says.

He picks up the corpse, throws it over his shoulder, and starts trudging into the darkness. We pass the vacated buildings of the motel as we make our way into the desert, Rainey slightly in front, me holding the boombox on my shoulder awkwardly and pointing the flashlight forward.

And we walk. And walk. And, fuck me, we walk.

Seems like hours before the flashlight beam hits the first tombstone.

“A fucking graveyard!” I shout. “You dope motherfucker. It’s brilliant!”

“Shut up,” Rainey whispers.

The graveyard isn’t really a graveyard, there’s no fence or anything - just a collection of tombstones in the desert.

Rainey walks to the middle of the cluster of graves and drops the body before hurrying back toward me. For a big dude, he steps lightly and I shine the flashlight at him to fuck with him.

“Turn that fucking shit off,” he hisses.

A serious Rainey makes me nervous. I turn the flashlight off.

“For what happens next,” he says, “I need you to be cool.”

His voice in the darkness is displaced and disconnected. I can hear him messing with the boombox on the ground at my feet.

“And do not turn on that flashlight until I say so. Understand?”

I nod.

“Hey, I said…”

“I got it,” I say.

There’s a moment of silence as I feel him stand up from the boombox. My heart rate is jacked. I hear a dull hum from the speakers at my feet.

And then there’s music. Very, very loud music. Very, very loud rap music.

Kanye West is shouting Yeezus into the desert.

What the fuck?

The bass bumps so hard I don’t notice Rainey yelling until he grabs my arms, scares the shit out of me, and snatches the flashlight from me. Right before he flicks the beam on, I realize he’s been screaming “Now!”

What I see are hands coming out of the ground, out of the graves, grasping at air. What I see are human heads buried beneath the earth, escaping. What I see are fucking zombies coming out of graves.

It’s gotta be the noise.

Rainey is screaming, “Run!”

He takes off and I follow the flashlight in his hand as its beam dips and jumps across the desert floor, toward the Nissan and our escape.

On the horizon, the MOTEL sign lights up the darkness.

I have questions. You would have questions. I’m sure fucking Rainey has questions.

But what comes out, hastily escaping from my mouth as I run from zombies in the desert, is “Why?”

Why all this? Why not chop the bodies up and feed them to the pigs? Why, Rainey? Why?

“Because they said so,” Rainey gasps. “Who gives a fuck about why?”

Written By: Logan Theissen
Photograph By: Daniel Vidal

Wolf Girls

Posted on: October 14, 2013

Condensation on the glass cascades into a wet ring on the railing; it leaves a slick smear when I wipe it. I down the sweet tea and vodka and the mix punches me hard, the taste a reminder of the first time Diane and I got drunk together, giggling in our church clothes and hoping no one would smell the liquor on our breath.

The drink settles in my stomach, but it offers no distraction. I twist one of my rings, anxious from the calm stillness of humid air. I don't know why I am worried, but I am certain that I should be.


We met when we were both broken and needed mending. I was thirteen, and my first period confronted my father with the unshakeable realization that there were some conversations only moms could have with daughters. We didn't acknowledge my womanhood, and because I knew it changed his perspective of me, I rejected it. I wore baggy clothes and my hair hung in tangled knots around my plain face.

Diane's father was the new doctor; though they weren't wealthy and her dad traded check-ups for produce, she was still ostracized for airs she didn't put on. She kept to herself, barely noticeable, like embers in a dying campfire.

Embers still burn, and like Prometheus, I saw the value of her spark. It came in math class, when a slip of paper fluttered down between us.

"Sorry," Diane mumbled, her black hair tumbling as she bent to grab the paper.

"You drew that?" I asked. I pointed to the drawing: a wolf howling, silhouetted against a full moon.

"Yeah," Diane said. "I like wolves."

"Me too," I said, and I pulled the chain out from underneath the loose shirt, an old plaid one that used to be Dad's. The pewter charm was the shape of a wolf's head, fangs bared. "I’m Sandra."

"I know," she replied with a shy smile. Mrs. Baker stepped between us and cleared her throat; we were silent for the rest of the period, but I could occasionally see Diane glance in my direction.

We didn't get another chance to talk until the end of the day, when we both lingered on the schoolyard.

"Which way?" She asked casually. I could hear the hope in her voice. "I live past the square."

"I'm the opposite, behind 7th Street," I said, "but my dad doesn't come home till past midnight so I can walk with you and cut back. It's nice enough."

We took the first of many walks together, and we learned we both favored wolves over horses, school over church, and George White to his elder brother John.

I left Diane at her front gate, watching as she glided over the walk, leaves crunching with each purposeful step. When she was halfway up the porch, she whirled back to face me.

"You know what we are? We're wolf girls."

"Wolf girls," I agreed, and I knew what she meant: different from others, but bound all the same.


The phone cuts through the hazy afternoon stillness. Its impatient ring summons me from the porch.

I needed another drink anyway.


It happened on my eighteenth birthday.

Diane came over with Jimmy right after dinner, and Ken wasn't far behind. We listened to the radio in the living room and got tipsy from lukewarm beer Ken swiped from his garage, sure his mother would think she forgot to buy more. Diane surprised me with a decadent chocolate cake, and we each ate two slices because the rich sweetness reminded us of childhood.

"I love you," Ken said when they left. "I've been wanting to tell you for years."

His lips were sweet like chocolate.

When I woke, my watch said it was just before midnight. I pulled on my shirt and jeans to raised voices. By the time I made it out of my room, the argument had escalated to a full-on brawl, my father's fist connecting solidly with Ken's nose. Thick crimson blood cascaded onto my mother's favorite rug.

"Daddy!" I shrieked. Ken fell back; my father was on him, beating him senseless.

"Stop it!" I cried out. I tried to pull him off, but he turned on me. The bruises from before had only just faded. He always won, either by my submission or his endurance.

He would have again, if not for Ken.

I shoved my father. The momentum was stronger than we expected. In an attempt to regain his balance, he stepped on Ken's leg. I watched my father fall, heard the snap of his neck against the table.

When Diane came to pick me up for school in the morning, I didn't come out. She walked in, the stale smell of blood greeting her. My face was swollen.

"Wolf girls," Diane sighed, and held me in her arms as the sobs bubbled out of me. When the salt dried on my cheeks, Diane's voice was soothing and low in my ear.

"We need to clean up."


"Sandy?" I can hear the fear and panic in Diane's voice. Oh, Diane: my worry is for you.

"What happened?" I ask. She chokes back sobs, and it must be bad if she's trying to restrain herself even with me.

"Jim had a stroke," Diane says this as calmly as she can, but there's anxiety seeping from my receiver.

"Is he going to be okay?" I stare down at my rings. I already know what the answer will be.

"No," Diane's voice is a whisper, "and he doesn't want…Sandy, I don't know what to do."

"Wolf girls," I respond, tears in my eyes. The hollowness she feels now is what I looked like decades ago, curled up between the two men I loved most, dead because they loved me too much for the other to live with.

"Wolf girls," Diane says, relief flooding her voice.

Written by: Erin Justice
Photograph by: Emily Blincoe

Product Placement

Posted on: October 7, 2013

She didn't want to audition for the show, but then she made it on, so she figured what the hell. The producers summoned them to the lobby of a hotel that was trying too hard with its ridiculous orange paint job and bellhops wearing Converse tennis shoes. They were there for the big reveal: the moment the host would tell them they'd be moving to the house in Malibu.

They did the take twelve times: ten because of unequal enthusiasm, and twice because a contestant named Jeremy had to have his makeup re-powdered after he sweated it off.

Cora wondered what it was that made the producers pick her. Which character niche did she fit? Maybe they just needed a blonde. Bimbo, or house bitch? She imagined herself throwing a glass of pinot noir into the face of Annabelle, the overweight but artsy contestant who made all the cameramen laugh with her impression of last season's winner.

"Even though I voted him off, I know Brantley is my one true love," Annabelle cackled, and the cameramen smacked their knees with glee.

After the last take in the lobby, a girl with a clipboard told them they'd be moved to the house at four, but first they'd do interviews. Someone brought out sodas and trays of sandwiches—little turkey and brie numbers with what appeared to be pistachios sprinkled on the tops.

"Cora, we'll take you first."

It was the producer with the goatee. Danny. Davey. God, she'd better learn his name. Cora checked her lipstick with her phone camera.

"Makeup will retouch you in the interview room, don't worry," Danny-Davey said.

He led Cora down a hallway to a conference room. Don't be the shy one, Cora thought. The shy ones end up kicked off or misunderstood.

"So you'll be here," Danny-Davey said, leading Cora to a stool in front of a blue velour drape and a waxy houseplant.

"I'm going to start by asking you some questions. Sometimes I may ask you to repeat things you've already said, or to say it in a different way. I may ask you to tell me, in a story, about something that happened."

"Okay," Cora said.

"What are your thoughts on Jeremy?"

"Jeremy? Oh. We had to re-do those takes because of him."

"Cora, don't mention the film crew. Just—imagine this is all life. But within the bubble of each other. We're just here to capture it. Be comfortable. Talk to me like you'd talk to a friend," Danny-Davey said.

"Jeremy. He seems nervous to be here. I'm nervous. The only person who isn't nervous is Annabelle. Maybe she should…be interviewed first."

"So do you like Annabelle? Tell me what you think of Annabelle."

"I don't know Annabelle. She seems okay, I guess."

"Cora, you're giving me nothing, here."

"Well, I just met her this morning."

"Okay, so let's do a take where you talk about Annabelle's appearance."


"So how do you think she feels being the biggest person in the house?"

"Is she? I don't think she minds being the biggest person in the house. I hadn't noticed. I mean, she's like, really confident. The cameramen think—"

"No cameramen, Cora."

"—everyone thinks she's hilarious."

"Okay," Danny-Davey sighed. "It's a start. Paulo, bring in the next one."

As Cora rejoined the others in the lobby , a producer handed her a plate of baby gherkins and a Fanta. She sipped the orange fizz as she imagined her mother and father in their basement, cuddled together on their double recliner, watching her, hair in hot-girl waves, makeup perfect, talking about Annabelle: I don't think she minds being the biggest person in the house...I don't know…Maybe she should.

She felt dizzy. She thought about the advice her girlfriends had given her before she left town for filming. Make alliances. Smile a lot on camera. If there's a hot tub, don't wear your strapless bathing suit or you’ll get edited to look naked.

In the van on the way to the house, the girl with the clipboard gave them the run-down. They were not to leave the property. They were to surrender their cell phones to Paulo as soon as they arrived. There was no television. No reading. No iPods. No gym equipment.

"But what if I want to work out?" sweaty Jeremy whined.

"We can do some takes in Planet Fitness next week. And there's the pool," clipboard girl said.

Hair and makeup would arrive at 6 every morning. Film crews would arrive at 7. The fridge was stocked with food. There was wine and beer, which should always be left visible.

"Product placement!" Annabelle crowed. Her voice echoed.

It had grown unbearably hot in the van. Cora pressed her forehead against the window. The palm-studded beach blurred by in fast-forward. The voices of the contestants clanged together in her ears.

When she came to, she was on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask, and Danny-Davey's goatee leaned over her face.

"Cora! Cora! You're awake!"

She could hear the scuffle of the camera crew circling her, waving their boom mics like fishing poles.

"Oh my god," Annabelle's voice said, "I can't believe it. She's my best friend in the house..."

"And again"—Paulo's voice—“this time can you cry a little? Think of the saddest thing you can imagine? Like dead puppies?"

"Holy crap! Okay, here goes—" Annabelle started again.

"Cora, can you open your eyes?" Danny-Davey whispered. "I want you to look up at the camera and talk a bit if you can—"

Cora's stomach twisted.

"I might vomit," she mumbled.

She coiled herself on the stretcher. As the EMTs loaded her into the ambulance, Danny-Davey muttered to the cameraman.

"It's okay," he said, "just something we add to the drinks to stir things up with contestants like her. She’ll be fine in a few days, and by then, she’ll be a novelty. Makes for great TV.”

The ambulance pulled away, and Cora’s eyes locked with the EMT’s sympathetic gaze as he took her blood pressure. She felt she’d been seen for the first time.

Written by: Dot Dannenberg
Photograph by: Emily Blincoe

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