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News & Features » November 2014 » “A Sleight of Mouth” by Steve Loring

“A Sleight of Mouth” by Steve Loring

Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuanacocainespeed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)

This week, Steve Loring goes on a wild-goose chase.

Steve LoringA Sleight of Mouth
by Steve Loring

My brother looked at me. Looked right through me, in fact. An empty Klonopin bottle sat at his feet. Drugs—no big deal. I’d been here before.

His child bride and my mother were armlocked and wrestling, a small, cheap-looking vase between them.

“This is an antique. This is not yours!” my mother boomed.

My brother’s wife let her grip go limp. The expensive collectible struck the floor and smashed into pieces.

She fled out the front door. My mother screamed and tried to reassemble what she would never comprehend.

“See? See? She’s like that, Ma. That’s what she is. She’s gonna go back to that guy—that guy that’s right outside.”

He glared at the door. It still stood ajar.

“No, Scott, don’t,” my mother begged, broken glass cutting her hands.

My brother took a breath and bolted out the door. I followed. Outside, we saw his wife get into a cab.

“That’s that guy,” my brother hissed. He broke toward the curb as the cab drifted away. I froze. Shit—did I really want to follow Scott down yet another rabbit hole? Deal with the wreckage that would inevitably follow? No. Fuck that noise.

But follow I did, the dutiful Good Son.

Scott sprinted toward our local park, knocking over mailboxes and trash cans along the way. I trailed him by a good ten paces, keeping my distance but remaining close enough to react if shit really went down.

Suddenly, he broke into a full sprint. I lost him around the bend of the street leading into the park. I went around the corner and searched the parking lot and playground, then the soccer field and tennis courts. Nothing. He was gone.

I didn’t want to, but it was time. I dialed 911.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Please, send someone out now. It’s my brother—he’s on something and running around the streets.” My voice sounded high in my head, aggressive and excited.

“Sir, I need you to calm down.”

“And I need you to send some fucking cops right fucking now!” I was starting to lose it.

“Sir . . . sir. Calm down.”

Just as I was about to tell her to fuck off and hang up, a police car crept into the lot. Thank God, I thought. Two officers got out and pointed their guns at me.

“Put your hands up and behind your head.”

“Hey, it’s not me. It’s my brother.  He—”

“On the ground!”

I complied and sat where one of them instructed, an array of flashlights in my eyes. They studied my face for signs of drink or usage.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?”

“Look, I told you . . .”

My mother’s car raced into the lot. There was something crawling on its hood. Something pretty big. It was my brother.

He spat on and punched the windshield, screaming his polluted head off.

“This is your fault! Fuck you. Fuucck youuuu!”

My mom hit the brakes, and Scott flopped to the ground.

“Holy shit,” one of the cops uttered.

They all quickly moved to my brother, subdued and cuffed him. With some effort, one pushed him in the back of his car and sped off.

My mom followed.

I sat alone in the quiet darkness, apparently free to go.


Psychopoetica, SPIN, Billboard, the Los Angeles Times, and the Orange County Register are only a few places STEVE LORING’s work has appeared. Loring’s background in film and screenwriting is evident in his written dialogue, though he’s spent much of his adult life as a lyricist—a vocation that helps him bring dark, poetic twists to the fiction he writes.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and 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 submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com, and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.


About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry StahlLydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).

Posted: Nov 13, 2014

Category: Original Fiction, Thursdaze | Tags: , , , , , , ,