Thursday, December 1, 2011

Katie McMahon - Needy People

“And that was Kiki Dee and Elton John with ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.’ Thanks for listening to WLMNOP!”

I pressed stop on my Sony dual cassette player/recorder and ejected the cassette tape. I carefully placed it into my dual tape deck/CD player and looked on the floor for my most favorite cassette tape.

“Where is it?”

Where was it? I looked under the bed and found a red sock and what looked like a tooth and a brush full of Jenna’s golden dog hair.

“Where is it?”

I started to panic. I opened my closet door and dug through the pile of clothes. Jeans with elastic waists, striped turtle necks, oversized t-shirts, snow boots, but I couldn’t seem to find the tape. Where was it?

Where was Barbra Steisand?

The name of the album was Barbra: The Concert. The cassette was released a couple years before in 1994, with not just one cassette tape, but two, totaling 28 tracks by Barbra. Earlier that year I had read an autobiography on Barbra called Barbra: Her Life, by James Spada, a man who must have been just as obsessed with Barbra as I was because it was not only his first book about Barbra, but his third. The book was almost six hundred pages, weighing in at three pounds, but I could not put it down.

I wanted to live in a New York City flat with a bathtub in the middle of my living room. I wanted to be tormented by the rejection of auditions and coldhearted lovers. But most of all, I wanted to be a star.

Every day I would come home from school and every day I would watch Barbra on my VHS tape of Funny Girl, co-starring with her dark-haired hero, the handsome and charming, but sometimes devastatingly insensitive, Omar Sharif. When Barbra would sing, I would sing. If my family was home, I would go into the basement and throw up my arms, singing “I’m the Greatest Star” and one of Barbra’s most famous songs, “People”, which I would eventually sing in my elementary school’s talent show. While other kids sang songs from The Lion King or the theme from the 90s hit sitcom, Friends, I would wow mothers, grandmothers, and gay uncles, with my rendition of Barbra’s clingy love song, showing the world that people who are needy and overly dependent on their loved ones are the best people in the world.

I looked up at the stamped signed photo of Barbra on the shelf next to my bedroom window and my heart sank. I could hear her long fingernails click, click, clicking against the glass frame. Barbra was looking right at me. She was beckoning me. She was stage whispering, “Find me, Katie, find me.”

After ripping out the drawers of my dresser and turning the entire room upside down, I sat cross-legged on the floor and I began to weep silently to myself. Slowly, my sobs grew louder and louder until the room became an ocean of my tears. I wailed. I screamed. Not only would the radio show have to be canceled, but life itself would be canceled.

I began opening and slamming my door to let my frustration out on the world. While crying and screaming alone in my room got me nowhere with my parents, the annoying repetition of a door slamming and echoing out into the hallway always got me the attention I needed.

My dad unhurriedly rushed to my rescue.

“What is going on?” he shouted into my sniveling, chubby red face.

“I – can’t – I – it’s lost – I, I, I, she… Barbra!” I howled through hiccups and snorts, rubbing snot onto my 101 Dalmatians nightgown.

I could not stop crying. No one could console me. There was no longer any reason to go on.

I can think back on a lot of not-so-great things that my dad did when I was a kid. He had a severe drinking problem. He seldom was interested in any of the plays or choir concerts that I performed in. Sometimes he would eat all the cookies and treats in the house and blame it on me, so that my mom would take all her anger out on me and leave him alone for a day. But I will always remember that night, crying and coughing into my dad’s chest. I will remember him leaving the house and driving away in his baby blue Chevy pickup truck. And I will remember him returning, less than an hour later, with a brand new, cellophane wrapped cassette tape of Barbra Steisand’s Barbra: The Concert.

In 1999, when my brother would go off to college and I would take over his room, I would find my original Barbra Steisand two cassette, live album in the back corner of my closet. I would tell no one, especially my own personal, light-brown haired hero: my dad.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Marsi White - Saturday Morning

Deserted on my couch, my kids have gone to feast on the type of cereal that makes a dentist squirm and will give them energy for only about a have a second. “Stay home day cereal,” as it is coined in my house, may only be consumed on the weekend.

“Maddie, you have to leave in an hour for gymnastics!” I hear myself shout. Routinely responding, my husband responds, “I know.” My daughter does not respond, wrapped up in what ever cartoon that she has been mesmerized by showing on the kitchen television. I think it is Sponge Bob. Having little patience for cartoons, I try to be somewhat aware of what they watch, as any responsible parent would claim.

Such is a typical Saturday morning in our house. I am up with the birds, making the coffee and routinely washing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen from the night before. In this case, no one did dishes at all the day the pile in the sink was more like a mountain. My mom would shudder. Seemingly a cruel and unusual punishment, the coffee finished peculating way before the dishes were clean. My disciplined response was to finish the dishes before taking my first sip of coffee. My mom would be proud.

Finally, dishes done and coffee in hand, I ventured to our living room to complete my Saturday morning ritual through checking my Facebook page, Twitter and, of course, Words with Friends. My daughter came and joined me after a short period, followed a later by my son....and suddenly, I am a mom again. My lovely, personal quiet time has been replaced by a quiet time of another sort. The time that I considered so very precious...when my kids are just my kids. The fighting has not started; responsibilities have not started and the T.V. is not on. I am not yet the waitress or the nag. Just the mother of two gorgeous children. We may share a couple of laughs. We may barely talk at all. It does not matter. The comfort of the morning hours satisfies my soul, and I bask in its normalcy.

As the clock ticks forward, these fleeting moments are replaced by our hectic family schedule of soccer games, gymnastics and other responsibilities. Our day ensues. But, as I go to bed tonight, I know that my thoughts will turn to my Sunday morning coffee and I will look forward to the Sunday’s quiet moments, hoping that they will be enough to quench my thirst for time with my kids for the rest of the week.

Marsi lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, two children and dog. A private foundation grants writer by trade, Marsi explores her creative side by contributing to Writing Writer Writest. She is a breast cancer survivor and keeps a blog of her journey, entitled Nip-It.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mike Gamms - Chapter Five: Even Winners Can Be Losers

We arrive to Vegas just around sunset.  Eager to continue the buzz we started in the car, me and Roger hit up the liquor store while the girls go get strippered up in the bathroom mirror. I promise Jacki a bottle of whiskey, a task I have to borrow money from Roger to complete.  
On the way back to the room we stop at the casino so Roger can play some black jack. I'm quickly reminded that I actually hate this city a lot more than I had remembered.  I'm not sure if last time I was here I was too drunk to notice or not unhappy enough to be bothered by it, but on this visit I'm already miserable. The people I hate are being celebrated as cool. Those cocky fucks in their designer suits just trying to show off how rich and pretty they are. I'm so poor I can't imagine what it's like to even want a 300 dollar suit, let alone actually own one. The money I make off unemployment and donating plasma barely leaves me enough for a bottle of cheap whiskey.  Seeing people bet even a 100 on a hand of black jack is enough to make me sick.   
10 minutes and a grand later, Roger is ready to go. When we get back to the room, I'm not sure if Jacki is more excited to see me, or the bottle of booze. I already feel like I'm striking out with her.  Whenever I'm around a pretty girl I get nervous.  And surprisingly all the drinking didn't help. I'm not sure if I fell in love with her already or just in love with the thought of a girl that hot even being remotely interested in me. Either way I look pathetic. I know I'm too much of a pussy to get with her sober so I start racing to get drunk as soon as possible.  I can tell by the way she's keeping up that she needs to be drunk to hook up with me too.  I try to pretend like it's because she's nervous but I'm not dumb. I'm too much of a self loathing little shit to not have seen it coming a mile away. I'm not sure why I'm so fucking miserable when we'll probably still fuck anyways.   
I decide it's best not to think about it, and crack open the Grey Goose bottle. Not that I would ever buy that over priced douchebag vodka, but Roger thinks it's cool to show off. Trying to impress his large breasted lady, he invites up a friend who claims to be a Vegas club promoter.  I'm unimpressed because I hate everyone, but to girls as sleazy as these two, club promoters are kings. Especially when they bring as much coke as this one.   
Him and the girls have already done a mirror full of lines and are feeling pretty hopped up.  This is clear when he pulls Jacki's panties aside and licks her vagina. She laughs and doesn't seem to mind. Neither does anyone else in the room, so I shouldn't either. I begin to wonder why I fall in love with girls who flirt and fuck like it means nothing, but I direct my attention to the coffee table lined with blow instead.  
After a few lines, I've forgotten about Jacki, I've forgotten about the bugs, and I've even forgotten about how much I hate myself. I have no concern for what I'm doing. My only worry is having as much fun as possible and feeling as good as possible. At least that's what I tell my self as I try to let the drug take over.  I've had enough of being in charge of my actions and drugs are a get out of jail free card for making bad decisions. I can be whoever I wanna be, do whatever I wanna do, and I have a perfect scapegoat for all of it.  
Roger is just as snow blown as me but on a different planet entirely. After doing a line off his girl's tits, he declares it's time to go. I grab a bottle of wine for the road. Whenever I do hard drugs I think it makes me Hunter S. Thompson. No one buys it, but it sure as hell gets me drunk quicker.   
I'm too lazy to fight for pussy so I just let Jacki have the club promoter if she wants him. She grabs my crotch in the elevator. Clearly ignoring her turns her on. When we finally get in the club my chances with Jacki continue to improve. The promoter is no longer a threat; he disappeared as soon as he brought us passed the line outside and into the club.  He stuck around long enough for what I can only assume was an expensive handshake with Roger.  
The coke high has shifted from extremely elated to arrogant and judgmental. Everyone in the club annoys me.  All the women have matching fake tits and fake personalities. They may pretend like they want to be models, but deep down they just want to a marry a rich foreign guy, and spend all his money drinking with her girlfriends by the pool. It wouldn't be so annoying if all the guys in this club weren't the exact guys who want nothing more than to land themselves a fake empty wife.  This club is a breeding ground for everyone I hate. These people think that being rich or attractive will compensate for being so damn uninteresting, but I don't buy it.  
Jacki makes the rounds through the club leaving me to entertain myself with a head full of coke and a liver full of vodka. We both know I'm her plan B as long as I'm able to keep quiet and not weird her out too much. I keep my distance and venture towards the dance floor.  
When you surround me with people I hate, I get bored easily and make trouble. I start repeatedly stomping on the feet of people around me while I pretend to be dancing. After they get pissed and realize it was no accident, I move onto to a different part of the floor. After I run out of toes to step on, I go find Jacki. I get a rush off the reckless danger and it gives me enough balls to ask her back to the room.  
A few minutes later we find ourselves in the elevator.  I'm not sure if it's out of nervous fear or incredible loneliness, but I try to hold Jacki's hand.  She playfully slaps it away and grabs my cock instead.  She tells me it's big but I know it's out of pity. It's more insulting that she thinks I'm the kind of guy who needs his ego stroked than it would have been if she had just said I had a small dick. I decide it's best to keep my shit together and ignore my issues long enough to get a load off.   
We burst through the door to find Roger and his girl already at it. He hammers her from behind, each hand full of her fake tits. He continues at it as he shouts across the room to us.  
"Hey man don't let us interrupt your fun. There's plenty of room in the bathroom for a good solid fuck!"  
I'm not confident in my abilities enough to fuck in front of a crowd, and she's horny enough to do it just about anywhere, so we take his advice.  
That much coke and booze is enough to slow down even the quickest semen, but I'm still ready to go after only a few minutes.  The only reason I hold it in is for the girl's benefit anyways. I could care less about getting her off at this point; it's not like she's getting much out of it.  I'm too awkward to make conversation and I'm sweating like a pig. But I can tell by the occasional moan she lets out between text messages that she doesn't mind it too much. She's about as into me as I'm into her, but at least she's not so tripped up on her own bullshit that she can't enjoy a simple fuck. Whether it's an ignorant denial of the situation, or a nihilist I don't give a fuck attitude, I'm jealous of her marginal contentment with life.   
I close my eyes and pretend like my dick isn't only hours behind the club promoters tongue for a few more pumps before letting it out. She kisses me on the forehead, says thanks and skips out of the room.  The fact that this girl has come to expect such unsatisfactory fucking only makes me feel more pathetic.  I pop a few sleeping pills I stole from her purse and curl up in the empty bathtub. I won't feel any less lonely than I would in bed with her, that's for sure. The pills kick in fast and I survive another day.
Mike Gamms is a 24-year-old unemployed writer living in Los Angeles. Originally from Upstate New York, he occasionally writes awful things at

Friday, September 16, 2011

Luke LaGraff - 200 words

Well there is really no reason to write about God, now is there? I don't think or believe it's a topic to write about. I just think God-writin' is a purely fictional undertaking, and therefore kind of ridiculous to write about.

At least if you're writing about the big G man in a serious tone.

And I'm not saying God is fictional. But writing about God would have to be considered fictional, of course. How the hell do you know what God is or isn't? If you do know, please find out why egg nog can't be around all year? I love that shit. God will know the answer and the remedy. Can you mention that at the next company picnic?

So, we've covered a lot of ground on this topic today. And good, no questions. Wow, I seemed to have affected everyone's mind on the futility of writing about God.

Again, just for good measure- It's illogical to write about God. Yet, it's logical to write about people who write about God.

So I've got a problem with conjecture.

I, too, do.

I, too, want to know the 'end'. Not as much as I used to. My story is right about... now.

Luke LaGraff is a lover of sandwiches, egg nog, and one of a kind days. He used to forget them, but now has realized he shouldn't; they have more meaning than ever at this point of his life. He enjoys the sun in LA and watches hockey and funny things whenever he can. He listens to people. He's from Tennessee.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Debra Crosslin - My One and Only Catfight

Back during the Vietnam War I knew John. One night we were making out in his car. He was a great kisser.

Suddenly, John says, “I’m going to Vietnam.”

Well I was just thinking, "Let’s kiss some more," and then John asked me if I would write to him in Vietnam.

"Sure", I said sure, thinking about his kisses.

I wrote him, mostly about friends in the neighborhood. After one year, he came back. Thank God! His sister Nina wanted her friend and me to fight over John. If you like to hang out at Burger Chef with your friends and smoke you would just have to fight.

We fought and I was winning. All of a sudden, John’s older, fat sister jumps into the ring and sits on me. The loser girl kicks me in the face. My friend jumps on Nina and yells, “No fair!”

She was bleeding, but that kick in the face cost me a black eye.

I can go to Burger Chef and smoke! I am in line and there is John. I said, “ Look at my shiner all because of you.” He left and I never got to kiss him again.

The Vietnam War sucked!

Katie McMahon - Words

I have learned that everyone else’s bed is more comfortable than my own. But you came here, choosing to sleep here with your fingers in my hair and mouth because your bed was too small. With your feet hanging off, you say you can’t sleep; you won’t sleep. I dream that parts of my hair are missing and I can see bumps on my scalp, but when I wake up, your eyes are closed and little sounds fall out of your nose. I see a bright, fiery circle in the darkness of my eyelids and it fades whenever I open and close again.

I try very hard to not say, “Please don’t leave me,” or “I am so sad when you are not here. Sometimes I wish we never met,” or “Tell me why you are here, but make it what I want to hear.”

I want to say, “I like you so much. You make me feel different than before.”

Sometimes, a lot of times, I think I’m saying the wrong thing. I’m using the wrong words and I’d like to just create new words that were easier for me to say, that made lots of sense to everybody.

Katie McMahon writes and works. And writes. And works.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marsi White - Second Day of Middle School

The foreign, deserted hallways were foreboding. My second day of middle school, the halls did not have the eeriness about them, when my dad walked me to my classroom for the first time yesterday. Only dropping me at the curb today, I watch as my dad speeds off. With a gulp and a twitch, I turn and face the school once more. Would today be as boring as yesterday? Are my skinny jeans and graphic t-shirt cool? Who will be in my PE class that go to for the first time? Will I be able to open my combination lock again? My steps are slow and deliberate, giving someone else a chance to get to my homeroom before me. My thoughts continue to wander. I am baffled that so many 7th grade girls talked to me yesterday. I wonder where they might be this morning. Was it a fluke? Suddenly, I hear a car door shut behind me and my named called out by a familiar voice, “Rollie!” Comforted by nothing and yet relieved, I realize it is my best friend. My heart smiles and my nervousness subsides. My second day of sixth grade is off to a good start.

Marsi lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, two children and dog. A private foundation grants writer by trade, Marsi explores her creative side by contributing to Writing Writer Writest. She is a breast cancer survivor and keeps a blog of her journey, entitled Nip-It.