Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

||| |||

News & Features » April 2017 » “Rent” by Mark Budman

“Rent” by Mark Budman

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, Mark Budman considers the interdependence between life, luck, and overdue rent.

by Mark Budman
Brighton, MA

The strange woman at my door holds a knife and a fork. Her cutlery is sharp. She smells of raw oysters. A bag hangs over her shoulders. “Auntie Gertrude’s Fish Factory.” Her face must be a hundred years old, but her muscles are in their twenties and very fit.

I’m two months behind on rent. That’s three grand. No way out. I’m a broke philosophy major. Publius Syrus said: A good reputation is more valuable than money. Though he was a philosopher, he wasn’t renting.

“Humans are killing aquatic life,” the stranger at the door says. “It must stop. It will stop with you.”

Will I get evicted tomorrow or die today? What would Publius Syrus say? He was never fishing for answers.

“I’m innocent,” I say. “I don’t eat fish. But my landlady upstairs says oysters are aphrodisiac. The second door to your right. You can’t miss it.”

I watch a blood stain grow on my ceiling and contemplate the role luck plays in human finances. Quite important, I conclude, before going to bed. By I won’t tell anyone about my conclusion. It’s between me and Publius Syrus.


MARK BUDMAN was born in the former Soviet Union. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared or is about to appear in such magazines as American Scholar, Huffington Post, World Literature Today, Daily Science Fiction, Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly, The London Magazine (UK), McSweeney’s, Sonora Review, Another Chicago, Sou’wester, Southeast Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, the W.W. Norton anthology Flash Fiction Forward, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, Short Fiction (UK), and elsewhere. He is the publisher of the flash fiction magazine Vestal Review. His novel My Life at First Try was published by Counterpoint Press to wide critical acclaim. He has co-edited flash fiction anthologies from Ooligan Press and Persea Books/Norton. He is at work on a novel about Lenin running for president of the United States.


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 info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Apr 3, 2017

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder | Tags: , , , , , , ,