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Fiction #394
(published August 7, 2008)
The Eighth Lines of Stories Never Written
(a Poor Mojo's Classic)
by Fritz Swanson
[As August 2008 marks the close of our seventh year of weekly publication, we shall spend this month enjoying "the blast from the past" with selections from Poor Mojo's Almanac(k): Year One. Please, enjoy! — Your Giant Squid, Editor-in-Chief, PMjA]

[originally published in issue #4]

"... and that was when I turned to the bartender and said, 'Now That is a Real Lightning Rod!'"

"'Whimsical' wouldn't have been the word I would choose, but Nancy always pressed her points a bit too hard."

"And that was how I came to live in Myanmar."

"'And you are . . . ?' she said to me with a quizzical look."

"And then the lion turned to look at me."

"What do you smell?"

"The devil has a way with women. Turning their heads about, he can transform their doll-like qualities into an aggressive demeanor, a sort of predatory stare, their hair flowing about their faces, like so much fire, and the curling black glass of his fingernails pressing dents into their soft cheeks."

"The exhaustion had set in about his face, and his cheeks burned from the cold, and he felt the snow settling around his numb arms."

"'For Ten Thousand Dollars: What is the modern name of the country once known as Burma?'""I miss Daisy."

"The ground was covered in panic grass and marigolds, the wind thick with pollen and the airy fluttering of larks, flushed from their nests in the field."

"'That's not how she talks. Stop talking for her that way. Stop it.'"

"'Any minute these Swedes are gonna bolt for the door. Do you know what that is going to do to us? Like a poke in the eye, my friend. Like a poke in the eye.'"

"'Quit yer bitchin' and bring me another Krispie Kreme.'"

"And the way their arms dangled at their sides, limpid and pale. He reveled in the openness of those women, and it showed in the way his breath quickened and his pallid cheeks would flush. Like a child, sometimes."

"Those eyes were locked upon my face, knowing, conscious, surrounded by the mane as if by a frozen fire ball."

"I don't smell anything."


"A lightning rod! Ha! Indeed, indeed."

"And then he raises one of the arms toward you, his fingers wrapped around the elbow, the nails pressing into her loose sinew. He shakes her hand at you and it is as lifeless as a rag, though her eyes glimmer with a kind of distant life, as though a spirit hovered beneath the glass eyes of a corpse."

"Nancy just went on and on and on and on. I thought I would tear her eyes out at any second. Wonk, wonk, wonk."

"The lark, flushed and in a panic, hovered in the air as though it were a portrait of a bird hanging beneath the towering sky."

"The flocks and flocks of starlings whirled and wheeled across the slate sky, twisting like black sheets, then clouding up into an angry constellation, then scattering, vanishing, wisps out of the way, leaving only a lone silhouette on the power-line warbling a sad song."

"She made a motion with her hand, mimicking a clapping duck bill, mocking the meandering speech of a boor."

"He beckoned with that dead hand (for at that moment I knew it must surely be dead) and trapped as I was in a terrible nostalgia, I followed that siren call."

"The beast breathes, heavy and hot. And it approaches slowly across the marble floor, it's claws clicking and scraping."

"The lake was black and forever deep in the twilight, and I was afraid."

"Clouds closed in over the broad expanse of the Iowa sky, and in the distance, many miles, there were flashes."

"Flashes. I walked out in the field, exposed."

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