With a flourish, the waiter unleashed their steaks. Dan was hit by the smell first and his mouth watered accordingly. He braced himself for consumption, but rather than hand them their bounty, the waiter curiously knelt by the trolley and rummaged underneath, before popping back up again with something gripped firmly in his hand. Dan had no idea what was taking place and a peek at his wife, Susan, revealed that she was as bewildered by the whole process as he.
On the first episode of the Idle Ink podcast, JL chats with Courtenay Schembri Gray about the often-ignored issues within the online lit community. Why are we so quick to cancel people? When is it okay to call out a problematic writer? And why are we all so competitive?
Courtenay also reads her poem “June Bug”.
Listen to the episode here
TO: [REPLY ALL] Employees of Sand Star, Inc.
FROM: Allie in Advertising, Cubicle 2 (2nd Row) by the Copier from 2005
DATE: August 10, 2017
SUBJECT: RE: Our Culture: We Want Your Opinion!
On behalf of myself, the ad. team, and my fellow worker bees, I’d like to inform the powers that be of the individual and institutional mismanagement, maleficence, and malapropism of Sand Star employees that has not only contributed to America’s middle class dystopia, but has no doubt also increased liquor sales and opioid abuse in Central Pennsylvania.
I am writing to you from Fred’s Marina with a strong cup of coffee and a 6B pencil just like we used to do before emails took over. Call it nostalgia, if you will, but black coffee on the deck always puts me in mind of letters.
I heard you’d been asking after Lester.
There is perhaps nothing more humiliating—nor humbling—in the world than getting a tampon stuck in your vagina. Specifically, having to call your gyno and ask them what to do after said misfortune.
The phone call is the last resort. It comes after you’ve spent an hour on the Internet Googling all of the things you can do, including attempting to literally give birth to said tampon. (That’s not the terminology they use but it’s certainly the mechanics they’re describing.) You try all of it while your roommate snickers, reading out the instructions from the other side of your bedroom door. You refused to grant her entry when asked, so there she will stay.
Harold Fribble was sitting dutifully behind his desk at the corporate headquarters of Occidental Peripherals in Snedekerville, Pennsylvania. He had just finished reviewing some irregularities involving a shipment of mobile devices to a prominent California university when he was interrupted by a man who burst suddenly into his office.
The man was breathing hard.
Here comes the Grateful Man.
He says, “I am grateful for the sunny sky.”
See how dark billows gather and pour torrents of rain on the Grateful Man.
He continues to smile. He says, “I am grateful for liquid sunshine that makes the flowers bloom.”
Welcome to my world. I am happy.
My den is at peak den. I have all I need, and more. After months, years, of ups and downs, I have finally arrived where I want to be. Peace, comfort, security. A room with a view. A sea of tranquillity stretches out to every point of my horizon.
But then the ground shakes. A messenger from the old world comes, unexpected, and with an unwelcome invitation.
I dim the headlights before the approach. No other vehicle has passed in the last ten minutes. The rain is all but a splutter now; the wipers cease their tormenting drag and slide. The wet gravel sinks silently under the tread of the tyres: perfect conditions.
The windows glow at opposite corners above. I navigate to the very back of the car park and pull in under an unkempt bush. Sliding out, I walk towards the building, satisfied that the car is out of sight. The back entrance is clear. I ease off my boots and pad up the stone steps in Lycra-soled feet, reaching the doorway of the flat I have been familiarising myself with for a fortnight now. Carefully easing down the handle, no need for a key and hence no jingle, I sink to my knees and enter on all fours. The deep scent of wood smoke emanates from the rugs, raising recent memories. I feel for the sofa, the one between two windows, benefitting from the join of the wall to evade prying eyes. Retrieving the flashlight from my bag, I am finally ready to digest the passages I began over two weeks ago.