Archive for June, 2012

Many Happy Returns by Vaiju Joshi

Jun 22 2012 Published by under Stories

My father taught Supachai English, every Tuesday. Supachai stood outside our door till someone opened it for him because he believed that ringing the doorbell was not an act of politeness. He managed to pass his B.A. exams two years after everyone in his class graduated – he was slow and he took his time getting anywhere.

He gifted my father a set of carved knives before he left. ‘Made in Thailand’, he said, ‘Good knives. Thank you for helping.’

For years, my mother kept the knives in the bottom drawer of the kitchen cupboard, claiming they were useless and rather impractical.

Supachai died during the Thailand 2010 floods, he refused to leave his house in Songkhla till it was too late – apparently, he was still slow and he still took his time getting anywhere.

My mother found the knives during a spring clean a few months after that. We now use them on special occasions like birthdays. Every time, we slice through frosted cakes with those knives, my mother looks at my father and says ‘Remember that boy from Thailand? Supachai?’

We pause our toasting then and think of the dead Supachai for a moment while wishing the birthday person another happy year ahead.

Vaiju Joshi’s fiction has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Untoward, The Waterhouse Review, Vegemite Whiskers (an anthology of new Australian writing), Adelaide Review, Global Short Story competition, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Six Sentences and the Five Stop Story Project amongst others. Her fiction also was short-listed for the Best Australian Short Stories 2010 and 2011 anthologies. She is an engineer by profession and is currently editing her first novel. She lives in Adelaide, Australia.

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Walled by the Clean Frame by Ben Nardolilli

Jun 07 2012 Published by under Stories

I hope my brother doesn’t come by to vote today. If he does, I can’t promise I’ll be nice and good like I’ve been so far. People have to pay the consequences of what they do. If he comes in today, you can be sure I’ll make him face his. We only live down the road. Real close to the school. It’d be easy for him just to walk down the street like I did this morning. No need to drive a car or nothing. He’s older so he thinks he can boss me around. But I’m an adult now. Can’t see why he should think that way. If he comes in today he’ll act real nice around me. Don’t you be fooled. He’s a bad, bad person. Real mean. He hits me when nobody is looking.

I used to have the bruises to prove it but they went away. The sheriff came and I showed him all my marks. My brother told him I was just clumsy. He claimed the door hit me, right on the chin. Can you believe it? The sheriff did nothing. Even when I tried to show him all the collecting my brother was doing in the basement, he said to leave him alone. My brother is one of those people, what are they called? Hoarders. He never throws anything out or away and it piles up. I try and get him to throw his junk out but he just yells at me and starts with the hitting again. All I want is a clean house, like this gym. White walls all around me. The house is on life support anyway. If you took an axe to the frame under the window, it would go snap. You could even use a hammer. Crack!

Maybe he should come vote. Then you can see him get angry with me. He hardly leaves the house though. Not me. I like to go out. I got a dog and I take him walking. When I get my money from this I’ll get him a little stone, about that big. I cut stone on the side. It’s my part time job, mostly tombstones. I got a stack of checks and when I get the check for this job I’m going to get that stone. I think I’ll get a new cell phone too. This one just died on me. I thought it was the battery and I called the company. The lady said the phone’s what’s wrong and I had to replace it. How do you like that? I told them I had a five year contract with them and they still didn’t care. I had to give them money for a new phone. I guess that’s what I’m going to have to do unless I can get it working again.

You think I can get one in a pawnshop? I know they sell all kinds of things there. They sell guns. I think after I get the stone and the phone I’m going to get me a gun. I’ll be rocking and rolling then! My father taught me a little shooting. Mostly I learned how to fight. I can throw a real mean hook. One day when my brother isn’t looking, wham! Then I’ll tell the sheriff about how clumsy my brother is. I bet I could hit the frame around the house and knock it down. We don’t have strong walls like in here. I think this is where my daughters went to school. I’m not really sure where they go now. My brother has a daughter and a son, but I have all girls. None of them live with us, which is good. You know how my brother is.

No more messing with the sheriff. I have to get myself a new attorney. I think I should be able to find one by the courthouse. I hear they have a whole nest of them up there. I got to get rid of the one I have now, he owes me money. About a quarter of a million by my count, not his. I heard him talking with my brother about the house in Maine. It’s a conflict of interest, is what it is. Check the rolls, has John Pomeroy come in yet? Is he even registered in this precinct? You will have to hold me down or else I am going to run him up against these walls and they won’t be white any more. Nope. They’re going to be dark red and he’ll be going away in a hearse. I guess I could cut him and then cut his gravestone for him too!

Friday I’ll definitely look into getting a new attorney. I can do that in the morning after I’ve done everything else. You got to make a plan if you want anything done right. My attorney thinks he can do without a plan and that’s why he owes me half a million dollars. He’s got three daughters. They used to go here for school. I’m going to find out where they go now, maybe kidnap them and get my money that way. I figure I can grab at least one of them and leave the others to tell. Somebody has to know there’s been a kidnapping in order for it to work. Looks like I’ll have the time now to plan it out, too. You
hear that ringing? Seems the battery’s come back on line.

Ben Nardolilli currently lives in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, One Ghana One Voice, Caper Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, THEMA, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. His chapbook Common Symptoms of an Enduring Chill Explained, has been published by Folded Word Press. He maintains a blog at and is looking to publish his first novel.

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