By Sidney Williams
“Admiral of the Narrow Seas” is a serial published in four parts. The rest of the story can be found here.
My dearest brother, Jonathan,
Many ask why.
Why would a man of property, breeding and education give up respectability to take to sea as a pirate? Some have whispered I tired of the planter’s mundane life, others that I fled my wife’s shrewish nature and others still that my brain was warped by some tropical fever on Barbados. None of those reflects truth, nor could I reveal all in my letter to the governor pleading for clemency.
That missive called for eloquence and judicious revelation. Alas, he did not believe my privateer contention. Now, in the shadow of the gallows, to you, I will set down all that transpired so that you will know I was not just a scoundrel in search of excitement. While you may not choose to believe nor to tell others this truth, perhaps you will preserve it for generations of our family not yet born so that they will know what compelled me and know what they escaped. They, like you may dismiss it to insanity, but at least my statement will be preserved.
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He has had nine one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, and the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.
By John Christopher Nelson
I attended a residency in Dingle, Ireland, earlier this month. It was my first time outside of the country. Actually, I’d been to Mexico, but I grew up in San Diego and the journey to Rosarito didn’t require a passport. So I don’t count that. My official first time abroad included a visit with my peers to the Blasket Islands, located along the southwest coast of Ireland. They’re worth the effort for those who have never been and worth returning to for those who have. I haven’t seen anything as awe-inspiring in the States, and I’ve traveled around there a bit. The boat ride over, however, was harrowing. It’s not a long trip, but every moment counts for those given over to seasickness.
There is an abandoned village along the face of the largest island. Two of my peers and I ascended the hill beyond the village and discussed all number of things between our labored breaths. By then we had a few days of local pub use and were feeling easily winded. We discovered a crest fitting for a break where we laid in the grass, soaked in the sun, and looked into the Atlantic, endless in some directions, its waves sudsy against the edges of neighboring islands.
Off to the left, on a higher rise—the peak of the island—I spotted another structure and suggested we check it out. Continue reading
By Adan Ramie
“Well, don’t you look pretty?”
Her words echoed in the dark, quiet room, bouncing off of decorated walls and high ceilings. She looked around her, suddenly spooked, as if some specter would jump out of the shadows at her at any moment. She shook her head, let out an uneasy laugh, and ran a hand through her damp hair.
“Jesus, Lee, you’ve got to pull yourself together,” she said aloud and tried to heed her own advice.
She glanced again at the young woman staring back at her from the full length mirror and grinned. She almost looked like a stranger after the much needed shower. Her skin still felt prickly and hot, scrubbed clean of all the filth of the world that poured over her on a daily basis, and she basked in the comfort of the apartment around her. The jeans she wore were already broken in, which was good because she always found it hard to run in stiff denim. The shirt was the closest she could find to a style that would suit her, but it fit, and the cold weather outside called for the long sleeves and the hood that she let hang down onto her back.
She walked across the room and pulled on a pair of socks that had individual pockets for each toe. She struggled to get each one in then laughed at herself as she wiggled her multicolored toes before sliding them into her old, dirty boots. They, along with her scarred leather jacket, were the only things she had on that spoke of her reality; for a moment, if she pretended, she almost felt like someone society would call normal. Continue reading
By Bret Nye
Imagine him there, his first few weeks on the job toiling at the cusp of adulthood, reckless and quick with the tires as he handles them, and then his later years, new bosses and new systems but old work, each day another notch in his skull. Under a film of smoke and a gray turret sky, he walks steel toe to pavement through the lot and into the mouth of the building. He passes through the turnstile and shines a badge to put a name to his face, crosses into the plant proper and immediately a flood of sick-smelling heat, a whir of machinery, metal terrorizing metal, sweaty bodies stationed among the clashing parts. He snakes through to the back of the plant, dodging forklifts as they whiz by, supervisor carts trailing behind, the recognition of the same 12-hour-shift look on everyone’s face.
Here they make tires. People standing in place applying strips of cured rubber to revolving spools to the molders and shapers of product to the treaders and finishers and finally to the warehouse where he puts in his time. He hops on his forklift and blurs through the hulking stacks, rowed to oblivion, chasing down competitor’s tires locked away in the cage upstairs to take over to testing. The competitive edge, he’s dangling right along it.
He drives up the beaten ramp and enters Warehouse 3. A profound silence greets him, emanating from musty rubber air and the near-dark created by dim overheads that haven’t been re-bulbed in twenty years. The constant worry that the tall, winding stacks of skids will come crashing down on him, or on any of the other warehousemen creeping among the rows like shades. He flies through the black and finally reaches Warehouse 4, loose tires spilled across the floor, empty and forgotten skids bent all ways, whole cities of cobwebs on the ceiling. He drives through to the deepest part of the room where it’s pitch black at six thirty in the morning and almost impossible to navigate without light. He parks his forklift and turns off the engine and waits for the rotten smell of exhaust to die.
Most people hate being up there in Warehouse 4. It’s hard to see and the place smells like must and rot. This is where all the broken tires go, the tires that were never made correctly to begin with. Most people hate being upstairs in Warehouse 4 because they swear they’ve seen ghosts roaming the stacks. They share tales of flashlights gone missing and cold air coming through in the middle of the summer when the rest of the factory is a hundred degrees. But he’s not afraid of phantoms; he likes the silence too much to worry. He settles into his seat and closes his eyes and thinks of her, working his mind until he conjures the softness of her scent, the sense of her body close. He gets up and walks around the tall dark columns, keeping his eyes closed and feeling the tires for the path. He thinks of a time when his oldest son was too young to know him. When he would whisper whiskey into his ear. His eyes pulse in thought but soon he feels a rush of cold from somewhere even deeper in the stacks and his gut tenses. He peers into the corners of the room, stalks the source of the cold air in the dark until his supervisor comes trundling by on his cart to tell him to get back on task. Continue reading
By David L. Nye
Journalists in cheap suits packed the room and tried to yell over each other. At the front of the aisles, large cameras glared from tripods. Flashes burst from around the room. They blinded Thompson, a Navy captain sitting at the thin table under the bright lights.
Thompson had been under these lights before, at this table. He first sat here after entering the astronaut program. Seven years later, he returned to explain the colony NASA planned to build on Mars. There were fewer reporters then.
“Dr. Tivoli,” a reporter said, “Given the track record of Capt. Jerry Thompson, why replace him so late in the game?”
The man at the podium, Dr. Tivoli, grinned. Thompson wondered if Tivoli planted the reporter. Probably not, he decided.
“That is the brilliance of the Avatar Program. Adam-1 is Capt. Thompson.” Continue reading
NSFW Warning: This interview has explicit content and may not be safe for work.
Tom Lucas is a college professor, author, blogger, poet, book reviewer, and spoken word performer. His most recent book, Pax Titanus, was published by Eraserhead Press in 2014 and is part of the New Bizarro Author Series. He has been published in many places including Writer’s Digest, Orbit, Anthropomorphic, Graffiti Rag, and Dark Fire Fiction, and he has shorts appearing in the upcoming anthologies: They Did It For The Money and Southern Haunts III. As a staunch supporter of spoken word he has performed on the Lollapalooza stage as well as guest spots on CIMX, WDET, and WJR.
He was born and raised in Detroit, and although currently enjoying the lack of snow and ice in Florida, remains a son of the post-industrial apocalypse. When not writing, Tom likes to drive fast and take chances. He can be found at readtomlucas.com and on Facebook, and if you sign up for his email list, he’ll send you a free story.
In this interview with Paper Tape editor Kristy Harding, we talk about bizarro, Pax Titanus’s epic creation story, and The Struggle.