28 September 2012

Nib Magazine, Issue One

Greetings, everyone...

The first issue of Nib Magazine is now online, and I am thrilled to have a short story in it.  You might like to go and have a read of my quirky little story about a man named Lefty and the kid who wants to see his heat...and maybe help him to think about curves.  The story can be accessed here:

You can check out the full content of the issue by following the links after you click the picture of the magazine cover just over here to the left.  There is a lot of good poetry and short fiction in between the covers, and I hope you will check back each month for more great literature!

Thank you!

25 September 2012

I am Polish; Hear Me Roar.

There you have it.  My name is Janikowski...it always has been and always will be.  I have exciting news that I will be sharing with everyone fairly soon, and ahead of that, I figured it was time to stop hiding behind a pen name.  

All bookmarks and things, I assume, will continue working.  Please let me know if you see something somewhere that needs adjusting.  I assume this may take a little time.

The added benefit is possibly being able to duck out on some long-running bar tabs in several cities that I have visited..  "Andrews?  Who?  Never heard of him..."

18 September 2012

Tiled Haven - Conclusion #1

*Ending #1*

Sheik looks out the window once more and a sniper pops him in the melon. Blood and brain matter go everywhere. Unger dies a few hours later from blood loss. It is sheer absurdity. The war continues and lots of people die. Any possible sense that can be made out of the whole thing fades more rapidly than anyone can imagine.

It is sheer absurdity.

14 September 2012

Reeking of Sasquatch (Re-release!)

(Appeared in the April Issue of Zygote in my Coffee)

Little Mikey Nitrous (to be known to the world one far-distant day as Mr. Michael Nitrous of West 43rd Street) held the protractor in ever such a threatening manner. Mr. Zoops, his geometry teacher had never seen a student so comfortable with the instrument before – in fact, never before had he seen anyone display such a natural aptitude and, dare he say, panache with a geometric tool. It was just that he was used to students employing protractors for the intended use of measuring angles rather than as weapons.

Mr. Zoops had this thought go through his mind just seconds before little Mikey Nitrous turned and faced him. One swift blow from the protractor and it was all over – the geometry teacher lay dazed on the floor, and the herd of geometry students swarmed over him, looking for all the world like a colony of dung beetles.  Their behavior was strangely dung beetle-esque, as well, as they began to roll Mr. Zoops into a ball and roll him across the floor of the geometry classroom. Past the titillating life-size poster of Euclid in a two-piece toga, past the espresso machine (this was an upscale geometry classroom) and right out the doorway and into the hall did little Mikey Nitrous and the little dung students roll poor Mr. Zoops, their protractors and compasses clattering away on the terazzo floor of William Jefferson Clinton Middle School.

As the herd of students rolled their hapless teacher out of the school and the adjoining dry-cleaner's shop, the other members of the faculty and staff began to take notice. Mr. Albrecht, the French teacher, went and hid beneath his desk, while Alonzo Hipchek the Bohemian janitor went looking for floor cleaner and clove cigarettes. Finding his storage bin empty, Alonzo donned his black beret and turtleneck and headed out to the local mercado to replenish his stores. All the while the balled-up Mr. Zoops was rolled faster and faster toward the edge of town and the towering ziggurat that the students used for human sacrifices after each home football game. As they rolled him along Chuckleberry Lane toward the ziggurat , a cool breeze revived him. As he came to his senses and realized what was going on, he glanced toward the smoking fires atop the ziggurat and knew that this was not good. He had known for years that smoking ziggurats could be hazardous to one's health. The Surgeon General had even made a pronouncement to this effect, and Mr. Zoops was not one to challenge authority.

Something had to be done, and it was just then that dear Mr. Zoops had a stroke of genius.

S-N-A...an amble in the park...P-P-Y...why? 'Cause you're happy as a lark!” The cheery jingle for the Snappy™ Truss Company issued forth from Mr. Zoops' lips in his dulcet baritone, and with the second bar of the merry little tune the rabid geometry students slowed their macabre procession to the ziggurat. With the next stanza, many of them joined in the song from the popular marketing campaign.

With a Snap- and a Snap- and a Snap- slap-happy smile; 'cause your Snappy™ Truss will hold you fast all the while!” The young geometry students all whirled around in place, such as they had seen the actors and actresses do in the Snappy™ Truss commercials. Round and round they whirled, each one whistling the merry tune. They then linked arms and did the trademark Snappy™ Truss squat-thrust while shouting “BELOIT!” in their very greatest outdoor voices, paying homage to the home of the Snappy™ Truss Company. During the cheering that followed, Mr. Zoops made a break for it, running as fast as his pudgy little legs could carry him. Across the fields he ran, straight away from the ziggurat and the smoking fires of its altar of sacrifice. He did not slow down until his quiet little home on Kumquat Drive was in sight. He walked the last hundred yards or so, smoothing his hair and straightening his tie.

Opening the door and walking into the front hall he called out “honey, I'm home” in the cheeriest voice he could muster. His adoring wife, Mrs. Zoops (since the end of the cold war affectionately known to the free world as “Edith”) put down her vaccum cleaner and Nembutal and walked out into the living room, into the arms of her adoring husband.

Dear, how was your day?” she asked with a concerned smile.

Harrowing, dear, to say the least.”

And your hernia? How is little 'Mister Bubbles'?”

Well, Edith, let me just say that the Snappy™ Truss Company saved my skin more than once today.”

Oh, Snookums, what a relief it is to know that hernia sufferers can find relief in a name they can trust – Snappy™ Trusses.”

And so it was on that fine spring day that Mr. Zoops narrowly escaped a dreadful fate. But it was the beginning of an epic struggle between little Mikey Nitrous (to be known to the world one far-distant day as Mr. Michael Nitrous of West 43rd Street) and the Snappy™ Truss Company of Beloit, Wisconsin. And later that day, smoking his third clove cigarette of the afternoon, Alonzo Hipchek cleaned up little bits of broken protractor near the espresso machine in the geometry classroom of William Jefferson Clinton Middle School, and wondered about the tiny, brand new bulge in his abdomen.

12 September 2012

Another Turning

I tried touching the wires together again, but nothing happened. I couldn't even get them to spark like sometimes happens. I thought maybe if they were a little moist they might have a better chance of having some conductivity, but I only had a couple of ways of getting them wet, and neither one seemed like a very healthy option for me. I left the wires dry for the moment.

“Scrape 'em together, more 'like,” said Teazer, making a scraping motion with his chubby little hands. “Make like yer' gonna' scrape something off 'em. 'Know what I mean?”

I knew exactly what he meant, but I didn't want to pay any attention to that little chubster. He was so damn dumb, and I didn't have any time for him. Never had, never would, for that chubster. I held both wires in my left hand and went fishing around in my pocket for some of that tape that I usually carry, but I realized I had left it behind. I was going to have to work with something else, and that meant just the wire nuts that I had in my mouth. Hell, I thought, those are moist already, 'cause I got my spit all over them.

“C'mon, just get those damn wires t'gether, OK? I wanna' get back. I wanna' get some supper.” Teazer was starting to pace and I didn't know why I had brought him in the first place. He was never very helpful, except as a lookout, and even then he tended to be somewhat distracted. His chubby little fingers were no good in doing fine work, either – he couldn't wire for shit.

I almost reached out with my right hand to twist the ends of the wire together and at the last second remembered that the one was hot. Damn. That was too careless. I took a wire nut out of my mouth, spit a little extra into it and wiped the outside of it on my pants leg. I kind of wiggled the two wires together and began twisting them inside the nut. It felt like the threads grabbed, and the twisting got slower. When it seemed tight enough I gave it a little tug, and it seemed to hold.

“I'm doin' this next time,” said Teazer, “yer' too slow. C'mon...I'm hungry. Can't you go any faster?”

I pressed the wires down as far as I could into the box and then slowly and carefully slid the whole thing under the tarp. I started to gently put handfuls of the dry, loose soil on top of the tarp when I heard the shot ring out. I swear I saw a puff of pink mist out of the corner of my eye and I felt Teazer's full weight fall right over me and knock me to the ground. I felt him dripping on me. I wiped a bunch of him off my face and neck, and pushed him to the side. I felt pale and everything was spinning.

I got behind that wall before they could get off another shot, and then I ran all the way here. I'm not going back to get his body. You couldn't pay me to do that. I'm just going to stay here. I want to get some supper.

10 September 2012

Hired Help

Jonas put down his shovel and sat in the dirt. He swatted at something flying around his head, although no one, even someone standing nearby, could have seen what kind of bug it was.

“I'm thirsty,” he said. “We got any coke in the truck?”

Preston kept on digging. “Just you get up. We ain't got no coke and we ain't got time to sit around.”

The sun was hard up over the pea field, and sweat was in the both of their eyes. Preston paused to wipe his forehead with the back of his arm. Jonas stood up and did the same.

“Crap, it's hot.”

“Just get digging, Jonas, we gotta' get this done, you know that.” Preston was a thick man. Thicker than most men his age, men in their late twenties. He carried himself as though he actually knew what he was doing most days and most hours within most days. If he didn't know, he made it up. “When we're done we can go get a coke in town. Morgan'll be OK with that, but we gotta' get this done.”

“I know that.”

“You know that. Now just let's get going, OK?

Jonas picked his shovel up again and threw himself into the work. Spadeful after spadeful of dry earth they scooped out of the shallow pit and threw to the side. The powdery, surplus dust from each throw made its way into their noses and onto their tongues. Preston could feel the grit when he swallowed, and he could feel the grit on the surface of his front teeth when he ran his tongue over them. They went on like this, scooping and throwing dry earth for a good fifteen minutes, sweating and breathing heavily. Their cotton shirts soaked through and stuck to their backs and sides.

The first part of their work done, they paused again to wipe the sweat off their faces. Jonas tossed his shovel to the side and sat down again.

“I don't see why we just go along with every damn thing he ever says to us. Why we just do every damn thing he says.” He spit into the ground.

“Just don't get going, now, Jonas, dammit anyway. Morgan calls the shots and Morgan pays the bills, so you just dig when he says dig, and you just ask how high when he says to shit. Don't be a dumbass.”

“I ain't no dumbass, but I just don't know why we go along with every damn thing he says.” Jonas was fishing around in his breast pocket for his Skoal. He lifted it out, pulled off the tin cover, and took a dip. He put it in his lip, closed the tin, put the tin back in his pocket, and spit. “Sometimes I just think you're the dumbass and so am I if we just go along with every damn thing without asking.”

“Come on,” said Preston, let's just get this done. Get up off your ass and let's go. I'm in no mood to argue.”

Jonas got back up again and together they sized up their work – the reason they were here, the reason they had been digging this shallow pit for the past fifteen minutes. They squatted down, got a good hold on it, and lifted it gently into the hole. Preston quickly got to shoveling the dry earth back into the hole. Jonas picked up his shovel and joined in for a half of a dozen throws.

“It's harder filling it in,” he said, stopping in mid-throw and letting a shovelful of dirt fall short of the hole.

“I'm gonna' make it a whole hell of a lot harder for you if you don't get working,” said Preston. “I ain't gonna' say it again.”

Jonas joined back in and without another word they finished the work. Preston leaned the handle of his shovel up against his collarbone, the blade still in the dirt. He wiped his hands on his grimy trousers. “OK. Now we can go get your damn coke.”

“I ain't feeling too much like a coke anymore, Preston.”

“What the hell's wrong?”

“I think I just want to get back to town, OK?”

“Whatever the hell you want. I'm gonna' get that coke now, though.”

The sun was hard up over the pea field, and sweat was still in the both of their eyes. Jonas spit and turned to walk back to the truck. Preston kicked at the blade of his shovel and then kicked at it again. He turned and followed Jonas to the truck.

07 September 2012

Faker (If I Have Not Already Told You)

Giles sits and watches the pasty-face eat his sandwich. Giles lets his tongue loll out of his mouth and a little bit of spit marks his chin. When he coughs, he coughs hearty, and a little chunk breaks loose. He looks down. He looks down. Down is where his heart is, but he doesn't know where else to put it.

The pasty-face makes a wiping motion, unaware that Giles is watching. Mayonnaise, quite likely, thinks Giles. It is always the mayonnaise, because that one man realized that mayonnaise is good for your beard, and now everyone eats the mayonnaise. I have to sit here and just look down. Just look down.

Small ruby girl walks past from one side to the other – she is working, she is earning her keep, as Giles says. Small ruby girl has that ruby in her nose and Giles likes to watch it as she talks. He lets his tongue loll out of his mouth and a little bit of spit marks his chin. Ruby girl looks up and sees Giles and his pink, fleshy tongue and his shiny spit on his chin and she says “gross” to herself and says nothing aloud, but walks on back to the other side, away from Giles.

Giles presses his fist into his pants. Makes a ball of a fist and presses it hard. That makes him look like a man, and when the ruby girl comes back she will see him balling up his fist and pressing it into his pants. That is good, Giles thinks. Hell, he doesn't think, he knows it. Press it hard and the ruby girl will think you have it all. When she comes back, that is. When she comes back, and you press it hard – press it hard because you need to press it hard.

The pasty-face wraps up the last bits of his sandwich. He wraps them in the waxed paper that held the sandwich before he bought it. He wraps it up tightly, sets it aside, right on top of a dirty tray and an empty paper cup and some balled-up napkins that could have wiped a shiny smear of spit on someone's chin but didn't. Shiny smear. The pasty-face wraps it up nice and tight. The pasty-face walks away, in the opposite direction of the ruby-girl.

Giles slinks over to where the pasty-face sat. He reaches for the balled-up wrapper and opens it up. The sandwich bit is dry, but Giles is in luck, because the mayonnaise is good for his beard.

04 September 2012

Is That Hangtime?

A great cloud rose up over the horizon and a little leaf or something like a leaf fell down out of the sky. 'Spiraled right around, it did...falling and falling, slowly, slowly circling, until it landed on the honey-grubber's face. Honey grubbers hate it when leaves fall on their faces, you know.

“Chippy-hand!” cried the honey-grubber as the leaf tickled that big old nose of his and he lashed out with nails that were so filthy and hands darkened with sin and toil. Hellish, hellish honey-grubber. The dirty nails of his hand tore the flesh off his nose and the leaf-like object was bloodied. “Bastage chippy-hand!” he cried and the tears welled up in his filthy, waxy eyes.

The honey-grubber rolled to his feet and wiggled that pooch like a see-saw hobby horse. When a pooch gives a jiggle you never know where it might end. Hobby-horse like a see-saw? You know what I mean? You know exactly what I mean and I think that you like it, too...just look at that pooch wiggling like a see-saw hobby horse. The honey-grubber takes those filthy hands and rubs his palms across his pooch. A little blood trickles off that face of his, where the leaf-like object had landed and where his dirty nails had torn.

If you look closely, you can see right inside the honey-grubber and maybe spot a little bit of light. Go ahead. Look closely. Don't get too close, though, because his breath is like a stinking anus or maybe, at best, like the stench of a full colon – fresh, but still horrible. If you lean in to see the honey-grubber's wounds, you can almost see yourself reflected back in his eyes, and you feel his body heat and you can smell his stink and you can tell that his chest is rising and falling as he breathes out that foul air.

And he looks at you. And he stares. And his face bleeds where he tore it.

And you know you are inside of him. And he in you.

And the great cloud blows off, past the horizon, leaving a gray patch in the heavens where the honey-grubber trains his gaze. And it is pale and it is moist.

And that leaf or something like a leaf is on the ground, and it is blown by the wind and blows right away.

It blows right away.