A Magazine for Creative People
ONLINE ISSUE #6
Editors: Jim Esch and Stacy Tartar
Copyright 1994 by Jim Esch and Stacy Tartar
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POEMS.................................................by Jim Morris
THE SALESMAN (story)............................ by Michael Gibbons
MICHAEL'S FIRE (story).......................... by Carol A. Coates
by Jim Morris
THE COWBOY AND THE COW
A finger gun shot
deep in your western ghost town
of my motherlode.
DROWNING IN THE DAY
Beads of water run
Sweat surrounds my open shirt
Drowning in the day
the Sea thunders wild
On the cliffs that throw you down
Waves reach for you - "come"
Water sits and Dies
On your ocean-side plateau
They miss you, Long Hair.
ALARM CLOCK INDIGESTION
Time to get up, now
Dawn sinks deep in my stomach
The shower rains hard.
GIVE ME A BEER AND I'LL HAVE A FISH TO GO
For some wacky reason I have
fallen through the floor
And now I will see
the foundation at the source
My wild pigs will sell you
the things you want to know
And later they will buy you
A beer and some fish to go.
I saw an indian drinking beer
I saw him laugh as he cried a tear
Boo hoo Boo hoo
Boo hoo Boo hoo WigWam WigWam
by Michael Gibbons
On a chill and cloudy day last November, McCoy mentioned to his good
friend Sinfan Tasmaguru, the midget Tibetan philosopher well known in
certain esoteric circles for his uncanny intuitiveness, that after
driving a cab for seventeen years he was ready for a change of job,
at least a temporary change, since McCoy couldn't envision himself
never being a cabdriver again. What McCoy needed, actually, was a
vacation, but he couldn't afford to take one.
"I run around looking for customers," McCoy said to Sinfan. "Now why
can't I get a job where the customers come to me? That would be
perfect. But what is that job?"
"It's seven weeks before Christmas," Sinfan replied, stroking his
long, wispy, graying black beard. "Why don't you get a job working in
the toy department at Macy's? It would be a great experience, and a
lot of fun, too. One of the best jobs I ever had was working in
Macy's toy department one Christmas many years ago. You'll see things
you won't believe. You'll see people behave in a way that only
happens during Christmas. One of the nicest impressions you'll ever
have in life is seeing children in a toy department waiting in line
to see Santa Claus."
The next day McCoy was in the Macy's employment office, with twenty
five other people, applying for a temporary job for the Christmas
rush. After a brief interview, to see if he could speak English, he
presumed, McCoy was hired and told to report bright and early the
next morning for the first of two paid days of orientation, at five
bucks an hour, not great pay mind you, but enough to make ends meet
For the first day of orientation, McCoy was placed in a "Retail
Training Room" with twelve other trainees, where he learned the
intricacies of the computerized cash register. Finally, after a
lifetime of watching others ring up his sales on cash registers,
McCoy would realize a heretofore hidden wish to use a cash register
on others. After lunch in the employees' cafeteria, he learned to
ring up sales slips, write out cash and merchandise credits for
returned goods, and write out special sales slips for employees,
because they usually received a fifteen percent discount.
On the second day McCoy was lectured about store security. He was
told never to leave a cash register unlocked if he had to be away for
any period of time. He was informed that one popular Christmas season
occupation for certain elements of society was ripping off department
store cash registers. That afternoon he was given a test on what he
had learned, which he passed easily. Then he was given his temporary
"McCoy," the sour instructor barked.
"Trim-a-Tree? What's that?"
"You know, Christmas trees, lights and ornaments," the instructor
"What kind of Christmas trees?"
"Plastic, of course."
After he received his assignment, McCoy was told to report to his
floor manager to work out a schedule. McCoy was given Sundays and
Tuesdays off. He had to work till nine Monday and Wednesday nights,
and till six the rest of the week.
His disappointment at not being assigned to Toys lasted about ten
minutes, or until his eyes feasted on the flashing Christmas lights,
the satin clothed angels, the shiny colored ornaments, and the
plastic gaudiness of a half dozen artificial Christmas trees on
display in the Trim-a-Tree department. He was doubly delighted to see
that his department was next to the toy department. He would, after
all, get to see the lineup of kids waiting to sit on Santa's lap.
Now, some people might think that working in Macy's Trim-a-Tree
department is no big deal, they might think that it's worst than
driving a cab, a job regularly placed at the bottom of all job
desirability lists, but McCoy wanted to enjoy his new, albeit
temporary, employment to its fullness. He made up his mind, right
then and there, that he wasn't going to take his job seriously, and
that above all he would have fun selling plastic Christmas trees. He
would ask the department buyer how many trees had been sold in their
best Christmas season, and he would do everything he could to help
his department break that record. Then he could walk away from his
job on Christmas Eve satisfied that he had given it his best effort,
and that he had achieved a goal, no matter how small or modest.
When McCoy was a young boy his father worked as a salesman.
Occasionally he would accompany his father on short sales trips, and
he heard him make and close several deals. He must have heard his
father use every sales pitch imaginable. Now was his chance to delve
into his unconscious mind and dredge up the old man's bag of pitches
and try them out on a few customers. On the Sunday evening before his
first day on the job, McCoy stood in front of his bathroom mirror and
practiced his sales delivery.
"Excuse me, sir. Excuse me, ma'am. Can I help you? Oh, yes, it is
lovely, but can't I interest you in the latest and safest line of
artificial, completely fireproof, guaranteed to last a lifetime
Christmas trees?" He kept practicing his sales poetry until he was
overcome with laughter. He couldn't wait till Monday morning came
The next day started slowly, much to McCoy's disappointment. But
then, who goes Christmas shopping at eleven in the morning nearly
seven weeks before Christmas? He rang up a few sales of decorations.
Three boxes of lights, one of the satin clothed tree top angels, a
dozen ornaments, and three cheap fake snow white blankets to spread
around the base of the tree. The early shoppers were mostly
housewives, a few nuns, and several pensioners. A trickle of business
men and women browsed the department during the lunch hour and after
work, but McCoy wasn't able to sell one artificial tree, though not
from lack of trying.
The artificial trees were displayed all in a neat row of a half
dozen, fully adorned with the usual trimmings, flashing lights, and
each topped by one of the satin clothed lighted angels. Prices ranged
from the cheapest, which McCoy dubbed Old Scrawny, because it was
tall, misshapen and thinly branched, at $39.95, on up to the one he
called The King, an eight foot tall, perfectly shaped beauty,
imitation Blue Spruce, selling for a healthy $295. All, of course,
fully fireproof and guaranteed to last a lifetime provided they were
neatly packed away after use each year, and provided no cats or kids
pulled them down prematurely, or repeatedly.
McCoy mused that, what the heck, if a family went out and spent
twenty-five to thirty bucks on a live fir tree each year for ten
years, they could spend $295 now and have the same tree ten years
from now, and save money. And who knows what a real tree will cost in
ten years? Or if the environmentalists will be successful in their
efforts to ban such a frivolous use of trees. What if they bought one
a little cheaper? Say that full beauty Northern Cedar for only
$139.95; and the Douglas Fir selling for $89.95 isn't bad either. A
sound investment, environmentally correct, he thought, as he mentally
formed the material to use in making his sales pitch.
About seven in the evening on his first day, just after he had taken
his supper break, McCoy sidled up to an elderly lady who was checking
out the tree display.
"What do you think of the trees, ma'am?" He said.
"I'm not sure. I've always had a natural tree, but now that my
husband's dead I was thinking that it might be easier if I bought an
artificial one. He was the one who put it up and took it down."
"It would be a lot easier to handle," McCoy replied. "No dried out
needles to clean up, no worry about a fire, and you could pack it
away ornaments intact, and pull it out next year fully ornamented. No
muss, no fuss."
"You've almost convinced me," the woman said. "And fireproof is very
important, don't you think young man?"
"Yes ma'am, it is, and it will last you a . . ." McCoy said, stopping
just before uttering the word "lifetime," as he well knew that any
tree on display would last this woman more than what little remained
in her lifetime.
"What was that, young man?"
"I think it's a sound investment," he said.
"Yes. But I don't see any small trees that would fit on a table. Do
you have any?"
"I'm not sure, ma'am," McCoy said. "This is my first day on the job
and I haven't had a chance to talk with the buyer. If you come back
later this week, I'll have the answer for you, or just give us a call
and ask for McCoy, that's my name."
"Thank you, Mr. McCoy. I'll do that. You've been most helpful."
And that was as close as McCoy got to selling a plastic beauty on his
first day. After selling a few more ornaments, the department
remained quiet until closing. McCoy passed the time with Teresa
Delgado, a high school student, who was working with him two nights a
week and all day Saturday. In the course of their conversation, when
Teresa mentioned that she had no interest in hustling Christmas
trees, McCoy set into place his sales strategy. He would sell the
trees, and Teresa would ring up the sales for those buying the tree
trimmings. As things turned out, every time a customer approached
Teresa with a question about a tree she would refer him or her to
McCoy, although she never understood his enthusiasm for selling
"Why do you want to sell the trees so bad?" she asked him.
"When I saw all the things for sale in this department," he said, "I
thought, what would I get the biggest charge out of hustling? It was
obvious to me that it had to be the trees."
"There big. There's something to them. They're so ridiculous."
"They certainly are ridiculous," Teresa said, chomping her chewing
Although Teresa seemed to like McCoy, she shook her head in
bewilderment at his answer. She was working at Macy's to get a little
extra spending money for Christmas, to buy presents for her several
nieces and nephews, and the less she had to do to earn it, the better
she felt. While McCoy was just the opposite. The more he could do,
the better he felt.
McCoy didn't get to talk to the buyer until the next day, when she
told him that the most trees the department had sold was 351, two
years ago, and that, yes, smaller table trees were on order and
should be in sometime next week.
"How many have we sold so far this year?" McCoy asked the buyer.
"Exactly one," she said. "Why do you ask?"
"I want to help set a new department record."
"All I've ordered is 375, including fifty table trees."
"That's enough to break the record."
"Why are you so interested in setting a record?"
"To give me an incentive," McCoy replied. "I'm not here for the
money, so it'll have to be here for the love of it, and the aim of
achieving something. My philosophy is if you're going to do something
throw yourself into it without reservation."
"You really sound like you love to sell artificial Christmas trees.
Have you ever done it before?"
"Never. And I won't love it until I've sold my first tree."
It wasn't until the first week of December that the selling of trees
heated up for McCoy. During the three previous weeks he managed to
sell 29 trees (60 had been sold by the entire department and McCoy
was proud that he had contributed nearly half), including a small
table tree to the elderly lady who was his very first tree customer.
But his first tree sale, on his third day, was to a nun from St.
Mary's convent, who had been dispatched by the Mother Superior to buy
an inexpensive one because the previous year their natural fir had
been set ablaze by a boy at a Christmas party for orphans.
"I'd like to buy the one for thirty-nine ninety-five," she said.
McCoy was very proud about his first sale, although he never had to
reach into his rehearsed bag of pitches since the nun had pretty much
made up her mind the minute she saw one selling so cheaply, making
the transaction more of a buy than a sell. But two things entered
McCoy's mind simultaneously. First, he thought, Old Scrawny was too
unattractive to adorn the convent, especially with the annual
orphans' party upcoming, and second, he intuited that Mother Superior
had given the nun a little more than the thirty-nine ninety-five,
forty-three twenty-five with tax, needed to buy the cheapest tree.
"But Sister, it's not a very nice tree," McCoy said. "I think the
convent deserves a somewhat fuller tree."
"I agree with you, sir," she said, anxiously fingering her black
wallet. "But Mother gave me only fifty dollars and the next one is
forty-nine ninety-five. Fifty-four-o-seven with the tax."
Now McCoy was not concerned with the dollar amount of his tree sales.
He didn't care which tree a customer selected, he was only interested
in breaking the department record of 351 sold. But he felt bad about
the nun having to go home with Old Scrawny. So he reached into his
pants pocket and gave Sister enough to cover the tax.
"Oh, you're very kind, sir. May God bless you and your family."
"I think this one will look much nicer at the orphans' party," he
said. "It's much fuller through the bottom than that scrawny cheaper
one, and not to worry about arson, Sister, this one won't burn, even
in hell's fire."
Most trees were sold on Saturdays, when entire families prowled
Trim-a-Tree and the adjacent Toy department. The day after
Thanksgiving is the busiest day in the retail business, Mrs. Jacobs,
the floor manager, told McCoy, but he sold only five trees that day,
although one was for $189.95, a Norfolk pine, the second most
expensive tree offered, but still a sale of The King had eluded him,
although he came close when a Pacific Heights female pukka, after
much discussion, declined to make the purchase because she thought it
wasn't expensive enough, which, upon hearing, caused McCoy's blood to
"I wish I had one to suit your fancy," he said to the woman, snidely.
"But I'm sure you could order one from Neiman Marcus that would
satisfy you, if such a thing were possible."
Which commentary, after the woman complained to the Mrs. Jacobs,
resulted in McCoy receiving his first reprimand and lecture about
proper deportment when talking to customers. It was a boring repeat
of what he had already heard during his training session, and which
caused McCoy no lack of sleep since he didn't care if he got fired,
although he couldn't help to set a department record for tree sales
if he did. This incident reminded him of something his high school
baseball coach said to him after he had been thrown out of a game for
arguing with a one-eyed umpire.
"McCoy, you're no help to us sitting on the bench."
By the second Saturday of December, less than three weeks before
Christmas, McCoy's sales technique was firmly established. When
customers inquired about a tree, he would immediately show them the
cheapest one first, Old Scrawny, knowing that they would hate the
tall, thoroughly unattractive specimen, whether or not it was all
they could afford. Then he would lead them to The King, knowing that
this tall beauty was probably out of their price range. The idea
behind this strategy, McCoy reasoned, was that it made the trees in
the middle range ($89.95 to $189.95) more attractive to the customer.
In fact, more than half the trees McCoy sold, were the ones priced at
$129.95, closest to midway in price between Old Scrawny and The King.
And McCoy was rapidly becoming more adept at splitting his attention
among customers, jumping from one to another when he had four or five
looking at trees at the same time, answering a question quickly
before nimbly hopping over to answer another customer's question,
back and forth he went without ever giving the appearance of leaning
too heavily on one customer, or not paying enough attention to
another. He was learning to become passively active to his customers,
while remaining actively passive to himself.
On that day, the first Saturday of December, McCoy sold nineteen
trees, the most in any day up to that time, giving him a total of 55
out of the department's grand total of 126. McCoy was selling so many
trees that he had become somewhat of a local legend on the second
floor. One day the appliances manager stopped by to ask him if he'd
like to sell full time in his department after Christmas, adding as
an incentive that his salespeople received a five percent commission.
McCoy was flattered, and told him that he'd think about it.
One problem that did arise from McCoy's fruitful salesmanship, was
that he had the buyer running her fanny off trying to keep enough
trees on hand for him to sell. Though most were to be delivered by
the store, they had to be in stock, in the back storeroom, to be
sold. And having to hustle to keep an item in stock because of the
work of competent salespeople is something that buyers deeply resent.
Thinking, as they do, as McCoy was to realize shortly, and because
they make much more money, that they're more important than the
But McCoy was ever the naive optimist. Always thinking that everyone
he worked with had his same sincere intentions at heart. That the
Trim-a-Tree department was a united team surging steadily toward the
same goal. It was hard for him to believe that as the department
appeared on the verge of a new seasonal tree sales record, that the
buyer wouldn't do everything she could to help this most honorable of
efforts. To McCoy, selling for it's own sake was reward enough, and
his enthusiasm for selling trees had rubbed off on a few other clerks
in the department, but it put him on an inevitable collision course
with Sheila Frump, the buyer.
By four in the afternoon on the Saturday three days before Christmas,
McCoy sold 35 trees bringing the department total to 320 by Teresa's
unofficial but usually reliable count. McCoy's personal total now
stood at 158, and he could have sold more, at least twenty more, he
estimated, and the department probably would have broken the record
by now if they hadn't sold out of the three most popular selling
trees: the Scotch Pine at $69.95, the Douglas Fir at $89.95, and the
Northern Spruce at $129.95. Three days to go and more than thirty
trees short of the record. Where are the rest of the trees? McCoy
Now, if you've ever been in a large department store on the Saturday
before Christmas, you'll fully understand the chaos that swirled
around McCoy that day. Customers bumping into one another, smashing
each other with well aimed elbows to the rib cage, arguing, swearing,
in their frantic effort to get at the remaining lights, tree top
angels, manger displays, bulbs and ornaments before they sold out.
The line of anxious and crying children lined up to see Santa
stretched forty yards and into the Trim-a-Tree department, further
crowding the floor and creating more confusion. Add to this the sight
of a thoroughly frustrated McCoy helping an elderly man drag a box
containing the last artificial Scotch Pine in stock to the elevator.
"What are you doing, McCoy?" Sheila Frump shouted, hands on hips, as
McCoy helped the man to the elevator. "Because you're busy helping
someone with their tree, I'm forced to wait on customers."
"It'll do you good, Sheila," McCoy said, after returning to the
"The name is Mizz Frump, Mr. McCoy."
"Ah, yes, Mizz Frump, but if you'd done you're job and gotten the
rest of the trees in from the warehouse, you wouldn't be doing my
job, now, would you?"
"The impertinence," she gasped. "I have a mind to talk to Mrs. Jacobs
and have you fired."
"She won't because she likes me, and she needs all the help she can
get. Besides we should be helping customers instead of yacking like
"Yacking . . . Like monkeys . . . What nerve. I'm going to speak with
"Why don't you try to be helpful and wait on some of these people
trying to give the store money for the ornaments you bought? Isn't
that what they pay you for?"
Fortunately, reality intervened with a man nudging McCoy and asking
"I'd like to buy that Blue Spruce."
"What? The King?" McCoy exclaimed. "Yes sir. You'll have to carry it
with you because the store can no longer guarantee deliveries to
arrive before Christmas, it being just three before that day."
"Yes, yes. No problem. Could you tie it up with a handle?"
"Be glad to, sir," McCoy said.
At last, I've sold a King, McCoy mused, on his way to the storeroom,
but he was too busy and frustrated to savor the moment. One he
thought might never come. As he tied up the box with a handle, he
noticed that only ten Old Scrawnys, four Kings, and five Norfolk
pines were left in stock. We'll never break the record unless Mizz
Frump can get the rest of the trees from the warehouse, he thought.
Unless . . .well . . .Let's see, nineteen in stock, 320 already sold,
leaving . . .thirty-six in the warehouse!
On returning to the floor, McCoy again asked Teresa for the tree
"I'm not exactly sure, but it's around three hundred twenty-two or
-three," she said. "But it's slowing down because everyone seems to
want the ones that are sold out, or they don't want to carry them
"Maybe we could get Fernando out of the stockroom to help a few
people," McCoy said. "He could carry the tree out of the store and
get them a cab."
"You should maybe relax a little, McCoy," Teresa said. "Besides, I
don't know if Mrs. Jacobs would go for that."
"It's so busy, who would notice?"
"I'll bet Sheila would."
"So what if she does? She's not the boss."
A few minutes later, McCoy was back in the storeroom tying up an Old
Scrawny when Sheila entered with a delivery man, who arrived with
five Scotch Pines and five Douglas Firs. We'll need a lot of luck to
break the record today, McCoy thought.
"There you go McCoy, ten more for you to sell," Ms. Frump said.
"What about the rest, Sheila?" McCoy asked. "By my calculations there
are twenty-six more in the warehouse."
"I told you to call me Mizz Frump, and I've already talked to Mrs.
Jacobs about you embarrassing me on the floor in front of customers."
"Good. I'm glad to hear you got some satisfaction."
"Don't you want to know what she said?"
"No. I want to know when we're going to get the rest of the trees."
"Why didn't you bring the rest of them with you?" McCoy asked the
"Mizz Frump wanted to save some for next week."
"Great," said McCoy. "We could have sold them all today."
"I want to save some for customers next week," Sheila said, "because
it's bad for business to be sold out so soon before Christmas."
McCoy retorted: "Sheila, there's only two more days before
"If you call me Sheila one more time, I'll insist that you be fired."
"If we had enough trees in stock, we'd sell enough to break the
record, and then I wouldn't mind in the least if I got fired."
"Oh, you and your record," she said, leaving in a huff.
By seven that evening, McCoy had sold fifteen more trees, including
two Kings, and the department total now stood at 346, six away from
the record. But, although five more trees did arrive from the
warehouse late that afternoon, and were quickly sold, only nine trees
remained in stock, three kings and six Norfolk pines, the two most
expensive varieties. And they would be hard to move.
No more trees were sold that day. As Mrs. Jacobs got ready to leave,
she approached McCoy with a stern look in her eye.
"I want to speak to you first thing Monday, McCoy," she said.
"About what?" He said.
"I think you know."
"Do you want to fire me?"
"I'll talk to you Monday, McCoy."
After his second cup of coffee Monday morning, McCoy opened his
register. A few minutes later Teresa Delgado walked in, much to his
"What are you doing here, Teresa?"
"Gloria called in sick
"Could you find out the tree count, Teresa," McCoy said. "I think my
hours, my minutes for that matter, are numbered."
"Are you getting fired?" Teresa asked.
"Probably. But what difference does it make. It's our last day
anyway. What time does Mrs. Jacobs come in today?"
McCoy went to the storeroom to get an inventory. He counted seven
boxed trees. With two of them marked damaged. He returned to the
"That makes three hundred and fifty, McCoy," Teresa said excitedly.
"You finally caught the fever, Teresa."
"Yes. For you. The record means so much to you. But I'm most happy
because this is my last day. Hooray!"
Two away, McCoy said to himself.
"They only sold four yesterday," he said to Teresa. "The delivery
from the warehouse hasn't come yet then."
"I guess not."
"And who wants to buy an artificial tree on Christmas Eve? Who wants
to buy two?"
"I think you've let this record business get you too worked up,
McCoy," she said.
"You're right, Teresa, I have. It's become an obsession."
"Something I can't get out of my mind."
"You mean like love? When you like someone so much it hurts?"
"You're a sweetheart, Teresa." He gave her a peck on the cheek.
They were interrupted by a woman who came up to them and said that
she'd like to buy a Douglas Fir.
"Sorry, we're out of that one."
"Do you have one of the Cedars then."
"Nope. All out of them too."
"I knew I shouldn't have waited till the last minute," the woman
said. "But we never put our tree up until Christmas Eve."
"An old tradition," McCoy said.
"What do you have left?" she asked, looking worried.
McCoy walked her over to the two most expensive trees, the Norfolk
Pine and the Blue Spruce.
"This is all we have left," he said.
"They're a bit expensive."
"They are that, but either of them will last you a lifetime, if
properly taken care of. You won't have to water them. No worry about
a fire. Environmentally correct. And if you spread the expense over
ten years, you'll be saving money."
"How do you figure that?" The woman asked.
"If you figure the price of a natural tree each year for the next
ten, you'll be paying much more than three hundred dollars.
Three-nineteen thirty-four with tax, to be exact."
"I never thought of that," she said. "Well, I've got to do something.
I think I'll take a Norfolk Pine."
"One more to go," McCoy mumbled to himself.
"What was that?" The woman said.
"You've made a good decision, ma'am. You won't have any regrets."
At eleven-thirty, an elderly lady, very bent over, came in and said
she wanted to buy a Scotch Pine.
"I'm very sorry, ma'am, but we're all out of them."
"What about that one there?"
"That's the display, ma'am," McCoy said, before the thought entered
his mind. "Hmmmmm . . . "
"It sure is a nice one," the lady said.
"It is that," McCoy said. "Would you excuse me a minute, ma'am?"
McCoy hustled over to the register where Teresa was sitting fingering
her hair in boredom.
"That old lady wants to buy the Scotch Pine, and I think I'm going .
"You're not," Teresa said. "Sheila said under no circumstance can we
sell a display tree."
"But look at the poor thing, Teresa, she obviously can't afford the
ones we have in stock. Be a sweetheart and write out a slip for me
while I go find a box to put it in, ornaments and all."
"That wouldn't be right, McCoy."
"Teresa, it's not a question of being wrong, or right, or even
setting a record. Just look at that old woman. Won't her eyes light
up when she finds out she's going to get a fully decorated tree,
including the satin clothed angel for the top? We have no right to
deny her this moment in her life. How long do you think she has
"I know, McCoy," Teresa said, "but is it right?"
"It's for the impression of joy," McCoy said, "and has nothing to do
with the morality. What are they going to do with the displays after
Christmas? Store them away until next year, right?"
"I guess so."
"I'm going to find a box."
The old woman looked around for McCoy, who reappeared carrying a
"It's yours, ma'am," McCoy said. "Why don't you go over and pay that
nice young lady by the register and I'll pack it up for you and carry
it downstairs when you're done."
"Thank you, sonny," the old woman said.
McCoy carefully dismantled the tree and had just finished putting it
in the box, when Sheila Frump arrived.
"What, might I ask, are you doing, McCoy?"
"I just broke the record."
"You know you're not supposed to sell a display tree."
"But how could you deny this lovely old lady a tree on Christmas
Eve?" McCoy said, as the woman hobbled over to where McCoy and Sheila
"I'll carry it downstairs for you, ma'am, just as soon as I tie a
handle on it."
"You'll be fired for this, McCoy," Mizz Frump said.
"I can't be, Sheila, I just quit. I've accomplished all I wanted to
accomplish. Farewell, Mizz Frump."
As McCoy and the old lady walked over to the elevator, he heard
Sheila Frump shouting after him.
"McCoy! McCoy . . . ! I'll call the police. McCoy . . .?"
by Carol A. Coates
"Who's that asshole?" John asks as he pulls his old Plymouth into the
space in front of Naomi's rented home.
It's one AM, and both he and Naomi are buzzed on beer.
Naomi follows John's gaze into the park that borders her home. There,
she sees the object of his disdain: a thin man perched on a
cinderblock before a small fire. The man wears a flannel shirt and
blue jeans. His hair is pulled back into a ponytail that falls to the
middle of his back.
"Oh, that's just Michael," she says as she steps out of the car.
Michael catches sight of Naomi, and waves. She returns the gesture.
There is a chill in the air of this Spring evening, and John, his
hands stuffed into the front pockets of his jeans, rushes to catch up
with Naomi on the front walk.
"You know him?" he asks.
She wonders if that is jealousy she hears in his voice, then decides
that this is only wishful thinking. He could take her, or leave her,
and she knows this.
A twenty-seven-year-old guitar player, John is two years older than
Naomi. He says that he is too young and busy to be serious with any
"Sure, I know Michael," she explains as they approach the front door.
"He lives just down the block with his mother. But each year, when
the weather turns warmer, he moves into the park for the season."
"And those cinderblocks arranged around the fire are, what, his
furniture?" John asks. There is sarcasm in his tone.
"Exactly," Naomi replies as she fumbles with the lock on the front
"Don't you think that's just a little bit crazy?" John asks.
She turns to him, and has to stretch her neck muscles to look up into
his face. Such a perfect face. He is almost beautiful.
"Michael fought in Vietnam when he was young," she says, and shoves
the door open.
"Oh," John says, and follows her inside.
John is kissing Naomi's neck and tugging at her blouse before she has
a chance to remove her denim jacket -- the jacket that her mother had
given her for Christmas just before she'd divorced her father.
They fall onto the futon that is opened out on the living room floor.
Naomi doesn't have a bedroom, as she rents only the first floor of
this home. The two elderly sisters who own the place live upstairs.
When he has finished, John jumps up immediately from the futon.
"Gotta go, Babe," he says. He scoops up articles of his clothing from
the floor as he makes his way into the bathroom.
"Don't call me 'Babe'," Naomi mutters as she pulls a blanket over he
John returns from the bathroom, and stands fully dressed at the foot
of the futon in the darkness. Naomi is feigning sleep.
"Did you hear me? I said I've gotta GO," John says.
She lifts her head. "What do you want, a fucking parade?"
John's voice softens. "You're angry. You want me to stay."
"I want you to do what you want to do," Naomi says.
"Look, I promised Jack I'd help him out. He wants to record tomorrow,
and then there's the gig tomorrow night..."
She cuts him off. "You don't have to tell me again how busy you are."
When John has gone, Naomi rises from the futon, wraps the blanket
around herself, and steps into the kitchen. She pulls a bottle of
beer from the refrigerator.
She moves closer to her kitchen window, which offers a good view of
the park. She gulps the beer. The embers of Michael's fire are
burning low, and she watches as he collects kindling from beneath the
When she has finished the beer, Naomi picks up the telephone and
calls her mother. Though she has neither seen nor spoken to her
mother in three years, she is confident that he mother will be awake.
"Hello," Naomi's mother says, her voice thickened with alcohol.
"Naomi," her mother says breathlessly. They are silent a moment.
"Where are you?" Naomi's mother asks. "Tell me where you are."
Naomi is quiet. Her throat begins to swell and constrict. Pressure
builds behind her eyes.
"I can't love anyone," Naomi says, but this is barely audible. Then,
tears flow, and pain rises up out of her insides in sounds so raw and
pure they might have been made by an animal.
But Naomi's mother has understood. "You won't let anyone in," she
whispers. "How can you love anyone if you never let anyone in?"
"I...have...to...go...Mom," Naomi says, and the words hitch up out of
her throat through barely restrained sobs.
Naomi returns to the window. She watches Michael sip from a bottle as
he mind and body begin to go numb--the inevitable aftermath of strong
Michael climbs into a sleeping bag near his fire. Only the top of his
head shows now. As she watches the sleeping bag rise and fall with
his slow steady breathing, she feels a calming in the place inside
that is usually turmoil.
"I want to give up too," she whispers to the window, and her breath
clings as mist to the glass.
She dresses in flannel and blue jeans, and pulls a sleeping bag from
the floor of the closet. She steps outside and into the night.
Michael does not stare when she approaches his camp. She lays down,
with her head near his feet, and soon sleeps peacefully in the warmth
of Michael's fire.
THE ZINE EXCHANGE NETWORK (c)
The Zine Exchange Network (c) is an informal service designed to
facilitate the "cross-pollination" of ideas through the exchange of
zines. It is a clearinghouse for zine publishers and traders who wish
to distribute their publications and receive others in return. The
idea is to get your zines out into the network, thereby increasing
their visibility, and at the same time seeing other people's work
that you may not have seen before. The service is free. The only
cost involved is postage.
Participation is simple:
1. Send as many copies of your zine as you care to distribute. Keep
in mind that the more copies you send, the more visibility, and
therefore, more potential subscription/trade/review contacts it will
generate. If you do not produce your own zine, send in zines that
you believe others would like to see.
2. Also include a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE). It will
be filled and returned to you with a variety of other folks'
publications. The SASE should be large enough and should have enough
U.S. postage affixed to accommodate the number of zines you wish in
return. (If you're not sure about postal rates, a good rule of thumb
is 29 cents for the 1st oz., 23 cents for each additional oz. A
bargain can be had for $2.90. You can send/receive up to 2 lbs. for
this price - UNITED STATES ONLY. Check with your local Post Office
The only guidelines you should follow are those of common sense.
If you send one copy of a lightweight zine, please only include a
SASE appropriate for an equivalent exchange. If you want a lot of
zines, send a lot of zines plus a SASE big enough for the job. You
are welcome and encouraged to send a variety of zines in addition to
your own. Please do not send what you consider to be trash. I will
do my best to match the *quality* of zines to be exchanged. What you
get depends on what you send.
I DO NOT accept money. I exchange zines, I don't sell them.
You may also include a request for the type of zines you wish to
receive in return (humor, political, art, literature, computer,
cyber, personal, music, catalogs, grab-bag, etc...). I may not be
able to match your request exactly, however I will do my best.
The Zine Exchange Network (c) is a *FUN, EASY and CHEAP* way to
trade art and ideas and make new contacts. The address for Z.E.N.
ZINE EXCHANGE NETWORK
P O BOX 7052
AUSTIN TX 78713
Please feel free to pass this information along. Help spread the
word! (c) 1992 Gary Pattillo email@example.com
END OF FILE