"After the Epilogue" by Howie Good

Small-time gods had been spitting off a rooftop onto the lives going on below. They tried to kill a witness, a child, to shut her up. At first I didn’t believe it. But then I was like, “OK, why not?” The ground was covered haphazardly in a dark sticky substance that made walking difficult. Taking slow, cautious steps, I got to the end of the dead-end road and passed through a hole in the fence. On the other side it was dusk, and maybe always was, no people anywhere, just stubble fields and a black dog with a red tongue.

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Animals are creeping into my life. An orange cat. A yellow Lab. A motherless baby rabbit. I’m surrounded. And that’s just fine with me. As a kid, I spent a lot of my time watching TV alone in the basement, in the dark. They say we are what we do. A gun that might have belonged to Dillinger is wrapped in newspaper in the pantry, a flash of lightning made of shadow. It’ll blow the skin and muscle off bones.

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The other day a woman was pulled from the canal unconscious and not breathing. That’s when I realized I should have done something sooner – hanged myself from a ceiling hook or bitten down on the muzzle of a gun. The point is, I’m not a happy person. I have cracks in one eye. I have gray teeth. It may be chromosomal. It may be environmental. It may just be what they call a lifestyle issue. There was a time I even envied the famous stone that people would go and kiss for luck. Eventually the stone melted. From kissing! Melted!

"Faith, Hope, Etc." by Howie Good

The next time you’re caught in a really bad place – the kind of place where people are always asking each other, “Oh why can't they get that baby out of the ground?” – take some frequently used verbs and combine them in a bowl with Hindu magnet incense, a bit of forgotten history, brain fluid, and warm dog’s breath, and then let the mixture sit for 20 minutes, after which you should be able to see a faint glow up there, see it coming over the hill, women wearing sky blue T-shirts that say “Quaker” and waving signs that say “Love.”

"Can’t We Just Get an Algorithm to Do This for Us?" by Howie Good

 

A man walks onto an abandoned railroad bridge and announces, “I’m going to kill myself.” Maybe it’s a joke, a false alarm. People stop every day on snowmobiles to look at him. This goes on long enough for you to lose interest. Then, in the middle of nothing, a crying baby appears on the ground, but can’t be approached or touched. You feel a lot of things falling on you, which is to say, stuff like this is always happening, and there’s no reason to think the spots of blood on your sweater and undershirt have varied much over time.