The semi swerved onto the rumble strips as Percy fiddled his fingers through the papers in the glovebox. Correcting the path of the big rig with his left hand, his right continued the search for his Darth Vader Pez Dispenser. “Where the fuck is it,” he muttered to himself, slamming his glove box closed and moving his hand along the passenger side of the truck and down into the ass-crack of the seat. Feeling a rounded-off bit of plastic that he thought could only be the Sith Lord’s helmet, Percy retrieved his dispenser and popped two caffeine pills out of Vader's throat and down his own. It was nighttime, but his forearms were unaware – they were doing their best impression of the Arizona sun they had been blasted by all day. His hula girl, whom he had dubbed Dulcinea Del Dashboardo, seemed indifferent as well, as she was dancing to the rhythm of the road at her own nighttime luau...
“It was just a colour out of space—a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it—H.P. Lovecraft, The Colour Out of Space. ------- Poison had made it into the soil. Inez held the gardening shears at her side, anxiously opening and closing blades dark with earth as she stared up at the dead tree. The sycamore stood at a deranged angle, leafless, its branches so dry and twisted they looked like antlers arranged in some pagan configuration against the blasted-white winter sky. She fixed her eyes on the distance that rolled on and on into a landscape hardly more than ash. Inez found it difficult to accept a land so dead and pigmentless had been lush and green just a few short months ago, but the thing in the mine worked quickly, quicker than anyone could have imagined. Ray-John Webber, who worked for the J&A Coal Company since ink had wet his high school diploma, had been the one to find it. ... follow the link to continue...
The two o’clock trolley arrives five minutes behind schedule to pick up the group waiting on Wilson Street. Two men and two women board; the women on their way to the grocer and the doctor, the men don’t say where they’re headed (but the stench of whiskey reeking off of them tells me where.) The men haven’t bathed in days, but when they board, they carry themselves with an air of dignity, a lie they upkeep to prevent the gossip, but everyone knows—they just don’t talk about it.
“Did you hear,” Mrs. Stein leans over to whisper to me, “about poor Mr. Armstrong?” Mrs. Stein is small and stout. Her warm smile and twinkling eyes have a way of drawing people close to her, and one would imagine she has many friends. (With how inviting she is, she often wonders at night why her husband doesn’t love her, why her two boys disrespect her the way they do. Neither have come home since leaving for college. On Christmas, two places remained empty, and there were far too many leftovers.)
“Poor Mr. Armstrong?” I echo just over the driver’s holler— 15th street and Franklin. (They should say poor Mrs. Armstrong. She’s been through her share of troubles, but it’s easier to blame her for those troubles instead of acknowledging me.) The trolley stops, the two men exit. I see them walk straight to the bar. There is shame in the way they hang their heads. (They’ve been out of work for a while. Their children are hungry, but their addictions are hungrier.) “Mrs. Armstrong has always been an attention seeker,” Mrs. Stein continues, touching my seat just inches from my knee, but not quite, “I told Patrick not to marry her, but did he listen?” “He was bewitched by her beauty, but he’s regretted marrying her since before the ink dried on their marriage license.” The other woman, Mrs. Russo, adds solemnly. She’s Mrs. Stein’s next-door neighbor, heavily pregnant with her sixth child. She’s naturally pretty, can’t be older than thirty. She wears a shiny diamond ring and earrings Mrs. Stein has always desired for herself. That’s not all that Mrs. Stein coveted, though. She has always believed Mrs. Russo has the perfect life: beautiful children, a handsome, kind hearted husband, a well-trimmed garden in front of her white-picket-fenced home. (Mr. Russo died just two months ago. Killed in a fire at the factory. Her oldest boy, Sam, who’s only thirteen, just had his first day of work yesterday at the same factory his father was killed in. She stayed up all last night in constant prayer, terrified he wouldn’t return home.)
Welcome to the online edition of Frostburg State University's Bittersweet Arts Magazine. Every day our students, faculty, and staff strive to make the world a little brighter through music, writing, painting, performing, and a myriad of other forms of expression. It is our hope that this edition captures the beauty that lives on Frostburg State University's campus.
Icons made by Daniel Bruce, Bogdan Rosu, and Pedro Nieto Villamandos from www.flaticon.com