“Insight” by Sean Connolly
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Sean Connolly takes us to a strange apartment in Pittsburgh.
by Sean Connolly
East Liberty, Pittsburgh, PA
A liquid light cleanses the air, splashes mirrors across the passing car windows. Here she comes, obesity incarnate, à la Samantha, trudging along oblivious to the sun puddles on the sidewalk. She pauses. She spies a slogan on a bakery truck: baked stale, it doesn’t say. Never mind, she knows eating through the cake in her purse will surely support her reading of the slogan. She doesn’t smile at work where she schedules patients at a dental school. Teeth rot. Minds succumb.
The dentists and students hurry about in circles. They whisper medical gibberish. They smile profusely, offering to sell their images to television commercials. She nods to say yes. She glares to say no. She’s a pain and the school fires her saying she’s rude. In her apartment she only wears a sheer nightshirt and shouts at the characters in the soaps on her TV. She struggles to open her refrigerator and it topples, pinning her to the floor.
The next day a man comes by to paint her apartment. He manages to stand the refrigerator upright but she’s too huge, too slippery to lift, her flesh writhing around in lurid impressions through her liquid nightshirt. He gives up and goes about painting the walls. She oozes sweat, she shouts, the TV blares on and finally he locates her phone and gives it to her. She calls the cops accusing him of assaulting her. He laughs at the absurdity.
In the ambulance she tells the medics to put her on welfare. Don’t worry, you’ll soon be HIV positive, and they take turns mounting her massive inertia. At the hospital the doctors say she’s suffered a heart attack and rush her under a monstrous glass eye, push an elastic probe through her arteries, and install two stents. In a recovery room, black darts fly at her from the ceiling. On the bus ride home she stands and shouts, The niggers have all the good jobs!
The black darts come from the Appalachian curse, says Lucy from the apartment upstairs. Your only defense is to write ancient poetry, rhyme over reason. Samantha walks about, murmuring lean and clean, fry and die, spice is lice. Water is fodder and she stops eating solid food. Nurses come and go expressing their concern about her rapid weight loss and she prays, leave and bereave. Drugs are thugs. Mice are nice. She lets them run all over her, inside and out, feeding them her blood and bile.
My God, Samantha, you look like a completely different person, says the landlady on a visit. Sam I am no more, now a lamb I am. I keep all memories safe in my ovaries. To bear a child from oats sown wild. The mice skitter across the kitchen and tables, and the landlady flees and calls pest control. The exterminators arrive to find her in bed suckling her son, the mice swarming about her, nibbling on the placenta and umbilical cord. Immune deficiency syndrome for her, her newborn clean and lean.
SEAN CONNOLLY writes and recites his stories in various cafes and bars in Pittsburgh, the Paris of Appalachia. His novel, A Great Place To Die, was praised by the Times Book Review for the seductive lyricism of its narration and other critics have called his style, Prosetry, a forest of prose and a with few leaves of poetry. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, both in print and on the web, and his satirical commentaries on NPR have been broadcasted on All Things Considered, and can still he heard on radio stations on various Indian reservations. He even adopted the robotic pen name, The Orbitology, to write his satirical account of religion, The Book Of Godom & Somorrah, still available on Amazon. He maintains a web site, thepaganauthors.com and his two wives of old don’t talk to him anymore.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Feb 13, 2017
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