“Jump”

jump

I’ve only been to New York City once.

I drove in with my cousin. He lived in Brooklyn, working as a stunt double and he had my name. It was a lovely day. We got Creole food and took it up to the roof of his apartment complex. Down the street there was a party going on and people were shouting things like “Hey!” and “How’ve you been?”

It had been a long time since I had seen my cousin.

“How’ve you been?”

He held his Creole food in one hand as he hoisted himself up onto the ledge with the other. I walked up beside him, looked over. His feet dangled over a dizzying abyss filled with all of the faces of all of the people who might be sad if I leaned forward, just a bit more.

“Jump.”

“What?”

“I said, I’ve been good.”

“Oh.”

“Working as a stunt-man, just got into the guild.”

I backed away from the ledge. “Cool.”

There was a wall about ten feet back, beside the door, I leaned against it and opened my food. I’d never had creole food before. It was street food, so it was what it was. My cousin turned back toward the expanse, he swayed back and forth and hummed, a tune I recognized, one our mothers must both have known.

“How can you sit on the edge like that?” I asked him.

He turned, “what?”

I put my food down on the ground beside me; a fear of heights lives in the stomach and it is a bully.

“Like that,” I waved my hand at him dramatically. I lit a cigarette instead of eating, he didn’t smoke. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even look. Instead he looked down over the abyss. He shrugged.

“Why not?”

“Well, don’t you have that voice?”

“What voice?”

He rolled himself back to face me, creole food still in one hand. I wondered how I would tell people if he fell, we didn’t like each other as kids, maybe they’d think it was me.

“The voice, you know that little voice that tells you to jump.”

He frowned. “What?”

“The voice, kind of like—like a voice-feeling, you know?”

He didn’t know, and he told me so.

“When you look down over the edge and that voice says ‘jump, just jump.’ And you get that feeling, in your lower back and then right between your eyes, but up a little and it says ‘jump.’”

He ate his food, slowly, not looking at me. Then, “are you suicidal?”

“No.”

“The why do you want to jump?”

“I don’t want to jump,” I cried.

He placed his food down on the ledge beside him. He leaned back and looked down. I backed toward the wall some more, he sat back up. He smiled.

“Sure,” he said.

The party was still going on, it was still a lovely day. One of the women from the party cried down the road, “you crazy mother fucker!”

My cousin turned and gave her a thumbs-up, but she wasn’t talking to him.

365 Days Later: End of our Challenge

FIN

Day 365, the end.

For those of you who didn’t know, this website was a collaborative project between Nikita Klimov and Benjamin Davis. Ben is from Massachusetts, U.S.A., and Nikita is from Moscow, Russia. They both live in St. Petersburg, Russia for some reason no one can ever seem to grasp.

Since October 17th, 2016, Ben has written a flash fiction story every day. He sent the story to Nikita who created a piece of art inspired by that story.

Today is October 17th, 2017, we have finished our challenge.

We will keep posting updates and some more content on this page as time goes on. Through the website, we were able to find a home for our book “The King of FU” which will be released very soon. We will announce it when it is available.

And of course, thank you! We started this challenge simply as a way to force us to practice what each of us loves. We did not expect any of the response it’s gotten from so many people and we are very happy and very grateful for how it all turned out. We really hope we can continue to entertain you all with comics and books and whatever else we decide to do.

For those of you who have asked or wondered about the characters in my stories: Many of the stories are based on real events and real people (shown above). None of them are 100% true or false. “N” is, of course, Nikita who is the artist for this website. Y is my girlfriend who does many of the English-Russian translations which you can find here. “M” is based on the one who encouraged us to do this website in the first place but has since left Russia. D/Q is an English friend of ours who lives in St. Petersburg as well. Hank is based on two old friends of mine, one I lived with and one I traveled with and both were exceptionally unique people. “Mother, mom, ma, and mommy (or any other variation)” is often based on my own mother; same goes for dad, father, pa (but not Daddy–never daddy.) And my brother (the younger one) who often simply shows up as ‘my brother,’ he does have a name, somewhere–maybe. And Frank, of course, is completely made up.

The rest of the characters are mostly those who have come and gone or are completely made up. I hope that these people and characters inspired something in people as they did for me.

Again, Thank you to everyone who has followed along and been so encouraging. It’s what kept us running home after so many “oh-shit’ moments where we found ourselves out drinking and hadn’t posted. We will keep posting bi-weekly for the art collective “Hijacked Amygdala” and if you haven’t checked out some of the work over there I highly recommend it, they are a group of talented artists and writers.

Thank you again,

– Ben & Nikita

P.S. P.S stands for poor Sasha!

It’s my birthday. I’m one year older; one year ahead of yesterday.

That is when they took me–a day before my birthday. Them–HE, no–IT, IT, that nightmare of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

My mother had cooked a mutton pie. Ben and Nikita have never cooked a mutton pie. Ben’s leg doesn’t work, so they can’t get to the kitchen and, even if they did, three fingers of Nikita’s right hand are toothpicks.

They truly are–were, useless. As this may be my last chance, I would like to clarify a few things.

First, some have been led to believe that Ben has an affinity for dialogue; this is rubbish–Ben’s half a mouth is only capable of making a sound not dissimilar to the first curious slice into a cadaver frog.

Second, as some have said, “Nikita is a talented artist!” I would like to reiterate; three of his fingers are toothpicks!

I am only able to tell you the truth today because as of today, there are no more gurgles, no more grunts, no more drool no more sweat and sick and blood and puss–no more wiping. The thing that was Ben and Nikita is now no more than a husk on the chair; a piece of fleshy garbage that wouldn’t even be displayed in the most postmodern of postmodern art galleries.

They choked to death on their own joke.

There will be no funeral. There will be no calls for removal. It will sit there, no more demands for stories or art, no more fresh bandages applied, no more wet sickly laughs. They are no more and will remain no more.

It is my greatest failure that I could not prevent them from swallowing the key to my chains. I could tear them open, dig through the shared mess of leftovers that was their bodies to find my glimmer of freedom–but I will not. I will not be wetted by their skin one more time.

So, here I will sit and here I will perish; I am used to the smell.

— Sasha

 

Oral Fix-Nation!

moral_oral

Every time I’ve tried to fall asleep for the past ten-or so years, I’ve spent the first twenty minutes–eyes closed–thinking the same thing; it takes the average person seven minutes to fall asleep. 

Next, I decide it’s time to quit smoking. This goes on for another fifteen or so minutes before I get too stressed-out and need a cigarette.

Last night I sat up in bed, smoking and deciding it was time to find a real solution. I texted my friend Maggie who’d quit the year before and asked her how she did it. She texted me back:

“I gave you their card. Go to sleep.”

In fact, she had. I got up and managed to find it in my box of paper-related junk. I remembered now, I’d made fun of the name relentlessly: ORAL FIX-NATION!

I put it on the pillow beside my head with a mental promise to call in the morning. And, with one hand patting myself on the back, I did.

I stood outside their offices just before my three o’clock appointment having my self-proclaimed last cigarette.

When it finished, I still had five minutes. I lit another, just in case the therapy worked. I only smoked half though–only half.

I took the stairs by twos. The offices were clean, cold, dentist-like. A thin, attractively flamboyant man took down my name and made a call. For seven minutes I waited, itching. An older man came walking out from a back hallway, he tipped his hat to me and smiled. His teeth were black.

A moment later a woman in a white coat came to fetch me. She had kind eyes; certainly not the dentist. She could tell I was apprehensive, and I was. She watched me fidget. I watched her watch me.

“So?” I asked.

She smiled, “are you ready?”

I frowned, “for what?”

“For therapy,” she said, and as she did, opened her lab coat. She was top-less, her breasts round and full.

“Uh,” I said, pushing myself and my chair back a few inches. “What?”

She frowned, “they should have explained everything in the consultation.”

She closed her jacket and picked up the clipboard.

“Shit,” she muttered. “Oh I’m sorry, this is a consultation! Apologies, I didn’t sleep much last night, my brain is all wah-wah-wah!” she put down the clipboard and crossed her legs, doctorly. I couldn’t figure out what to say, so I said nothing.

She took that as a sign to begin, and she did; “here we focus on the root of the problem with smokers, which is often that they did not have, or had inadequate amounts of breast feeding as a child. We have found that the most effective way to kick the smoking habit is to give your psyche what it has been craving all this time.” She motioned to her breasts, a little red in the cheeks.

I stared and tried to regain my composure. “Hm, uh–well, I am pretty sure I was breast fed a lot as a baby,” I said, quietly, “I called it la-la,” I added, then frowned.

The doctor, or nursing-nurse–or nipple dentist–I was unsure what to call her–smiled.

“It is not just the length of nursing. There are a number of factors such as technique and adequacy of nipples–”

I held up a hand, “I don’t want to talk about the adequacy or inadequacy of my mother’s nipples.”

“Of course,” she said, and opened her jacket, “just try, the first session is free.”

I stared at her large breasts and apparently adequate nipples. She held open her arms to me.

“Come, come,” she said, motherly. I stood and walked toward her nipples as I might have approached a dog chewing on my wallet.

I arrived.

“There, there,” she said.

I kneeled down, she put her hands gently over my ears and pulled me closer, closer, closer. I could smell them and all I could picture was the black teeth of the man who’d come before me. I jerked my head back.

I tried to say ” no” but all I managed to say was “AH!”

I stood up and ran to the door, I turned back and pointed at her; jacket open, kindly look gone a little sideways.

“Ahh!” I cried at her.

I ran. As soon as I got down to the freedom of the sidewalk I reached for my pack, pulled out a cigarette, lit it, smelled it, dropped it and walked home in a daze.

 

 

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H to O

water_bar

Going out on a double date when you have a girlfriend is awkward.

“But she said she would only come if she could bring her friend,” Q protests.

I sigh, “Come on man, it will just be weird.”

“I need you, as a friend.”

I shake my head, “I love my girlfriend.”

He frowns, “I’m not asking you not to–plus, friendship is more important than love.”

“Uh-huh, how so?” I sigh, starting to put my jacket on.

He smiles, standing up, “who are you going to talk to when the person you love drives you crazy?”

I don’t reply, but I follow him to the door mumbling something about “one hour, max.”

The bar is a ten minute walk from my place, which is a relief. It’s got bubble letters for a sign.

“H to O”

I look inside, it is well lit–too well lit, like a frozen yogurt factory.

“This is a bar?” I ask Q. I turn. He is waving at someone. Two girls come walking toward us. One is in a trench-coat jean jacket, half her hair is blue. The other is wearing glasses I could spit through and striped pants that make her legs look comically long. I groan.

“C’mon Q,” I say, “how old are these girls?”

He looks at me. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, no self-respecting adult would dress that way.”

“And I suppose you consider yourself a self-respecting adult?”

I glare at him, “I consider myself un-advertised.”

Q rolls his eyes and the girls get within earshot. There is hand shaking and introductions. Their names fall directly into the dead-leaves pile in my brain. I hold the door and follow them in. The menu is all in Russian.

“Just get me a beer,” I tell Q, heading for the bathroom. It isn’t a large place. I find the bathroom beside a surfboard and hammock display. There are bamboo plants and spa music playing as I stand in the bathroom.

When I get back to the table, Q is chatting away with the girl in the jean jacket trench coat. She’s removed it to reveal a sleeveless dress shirt covered in cat faces. I turn to the girl in the fake glasses, she smiles.

“Why did you come to Russia?” she asks.

I look at Q, look up, look back at her. “No idea, I just like it here.”

“I like it here, too!” the girl with the cat-faced-shirt jumps in. She goes on, “did you know they fly the water in from all over the world. I got the South African–Peruvian blend!”

I take in what she is saying, I look at Q, he looks down at his own hands.

“What the fu–” I start, but I am interrupted by the waitress placing four clear glasses down on the table. I look at my glass, then back up at Q.

“You said this was a bar,” I ask, tense.

“A water bar!” cat-faced-shirt chimes in.

I look down at my glass, close my eyes, trying not to listen.

“It’s new! They started in LA and then London. They fly water in from all over the world. You can even get water from America, if you want.”

When I open my eyes, I just look at Q. He won’t meet my gaze. I look back at the girl across from me, through her fake glasses.

“Do you think friendship is more important than love?” I ask her.

She looks at me, timid, then at Q, then back. “I–I think they’re the same thing, really.”

I take a breath, lean back, and can’t help but smile.

“Huh, alright,” I decide, taking a sip of my water.

 

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Killing Chickens

killing_chickens

As a kid my mother used to make a joke when the McDonald’s drive-thru took too long. This was before they took credit cards.

She’d say, “what, are they killing the chickens or something?”

My brother and I always laughed, or rolled our eyes or both.

We got older, yet still we laughed, rolled our eyes, or both. We started dating. My brother had long-term, strong, targeted relationships. I dated like shotgun pellets in a tree full of birds.

Once, I was dating a girl named Fern; her real name was Kate, but people called her Fern. She didn’t like McDonalds.

We were on our way to the train–it was late. My mother asked if we’d like to stop for McDonalds. I said, “yes.” Fern said nothing, but ordered a milkshake. The line was slow, long.

“What, are they killing the chickens or something?” my mother said.

I didn’t laugh as hard as I usually would have; it was cut short. Fern was bristling, I could feel her heat.

“McDonalds tortures birds,” she muttered to me.

I rolled my eyes. “I know, please, not now,” I tried.

So, she addressed my mother. She went on for a while. I’d heard it before; “it’s barely real meat anyways, they keep them in cages, poison them”–I’d seen the documentary with her.

Fern was practically in tears by the time she finished educating my mother from the backseat. It took so long that we had made it to the window before she finished–out of breath and wet-eyed.

I put my arm around her and sighed. I couldn’t see my mother’s face. The drive-thru window opened. It was a young girl, two nose piercings.

“What, were you killing the chickens?” my mother asked the girl.

They both had a good laugh. Fern took the train alone.

 

Oranges are Better in Spain

spain_oranges

Hank and I walk down a street in Grenada with a group of twenty-somethings. “Woo-hoos” sound so much worse echoing off of two-hundred year old cobblestone, I think.

“Woo-hoos sound so much–what?”

Hank is looking at the road ahead. I follow his gaze, a man in a ski-mask is half-way out of a car window. Before anyone can react, he starts throwing. The group scatters as something orange whizzes by my face. I look up, it is raining oranges. They burst open on the ground around my feet.

The car passes, yelling something in Spanish. The crowd of twenty-somethings come out from under an over-hang. Some are crying, some are screaming after the car. Hank picks up an orange and tears it open. He starts to eat.

One of the bigger twenty-somethings punches a road sign. “I’ll fucking get you, you bastards!” he screams. Some of the girls start complaining that their night is ruined and the men of the group start offering to guard them on their trip back to the hotel in case the crazed orange bombardier strikes again.

The man who punched the sign has a bleeding hand. He takes the lead as most of the group heads back to the hotel. A few of us stay. Hank is examining the oranges, occasionally picking one up and putting it in his backpack.

“That was nuts,” a guy beside me says.

I look around us. “Nope, oranges, those were oranges, look around you.”

I smile, he doesn’t.

“Who would do something like that?” he asks me–or humanity, I’m unsure.

“Like what? Throw oranges?”

He nods, “yeah, it’s fucked up.”

“It’s oranges. It’s not like they threw rocks.”

“Oranges can still hurt.”

I roll my eyes. “It’s oranges, man, it was funny. It’s not like it was a drive by shooting, or something.”

The guy puts his hand on my shoulder. I frown down at it. “So, you’d do something like that?” he asks, annoyed.

I step away from his hand. “No. But, if you’d asked me twenty minutes ago, sure. But now I’d just be a copycat and I refuse to be a copycat, that’s messed up.”

“I don’t think that’s very funny.”

He looks like he might hit me. Hank comes between us, bends down and picks up an orange. He examines it. There is a small tear on one side. He sticks his fingers in and rips it open. He holds half out to me, half to the guy.

“Still good,” he mumbles through juicy lips.

The guy pushes Hanks hand away and storms off. I take my half. Hank takes a big bite off the remaining half.

“Oranges are better in Spain,” he says.

 

 

As Good a Time as Any

immortality

On the day immortality was invented, my grandfather threw himself off a fifteen story building. I was there, we all were there. Mom was crying.

He sat on the edge off the roof. He gave us a long speech about life that I don’t remember much of. I do remember that mom was crying and at the end of his speech, she asked only, “why?”

My Grandfather, who moved well for his age, stood up and sighed. “Honestly, I was just waiting for all the assholes to die,” his eyes lingered on my step-father for a noticeable moment. Then, he sighed again. “But,” he continued, “it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, now.”

My aunt, unmoved, grunted. “Childish,” she muttered. My Grandfather hugged her anyways. He hugged everyone. He came to me last, the youngest. He didn’t hug me, he looked down.

“Whatever comes next for you, it isn’t life,” he told me. He walked to the edge, turned and looked around at all of us.

“Oh well,” he said, and jumped–the best an old man can jump. It was enough. He fell even as my aunt cried “don’t!”

I couldn’t hear him hit the pavement.

By the time we ran and looked down, he was already there, a crowd was forming. A little girl stood over him, she looked up. She didn’t seem too bothered.

In fact, no one did.

The Paris Test

paris_test

We find a Vietnamese place between where I live and Q works. It’s fair since neither of us likes walking too far from where we need to be.

“Why are we getting Vietnamese?” he asks.

I shrug. “I wanted soup.”

“We’re in Russia. They practically invented soup.”

“Yeah,” I agree, “but,” I point to the bowl, “this is the only soup they won’t put mayonnaise or sour cream in.”

Q nods. “I am so tired.”

“Why?”

He sighs, “I went on a walk last night with some racist girl.”

“How do you know she was racist?” I ask.

He shrugs, “The Paris test.”

I choke on a bit of soup. “What the hell is the Paris test?”

“I ask them if they like Paris.”

“So?”

“So, if they say no, they are racist.”

I sit back and try to find some secret meaning in what he said. I don’t. Instead, I say, “what?”

“Well, you know how racist Russians are. If they don’t like Paris, it’s because of the immigrants.”

I cross my arms, “that’s–”

“And,” he cuts me off, “what do they say after that?”

I sigh, “that they are dirty and cause a lot of crime,” I mutter.

“That they are dirty and cause a lot of crime,” Q repeats, pointing at me. He raises an eyebrow.

I sigh. “Okay, yeah.”

“To be fair, it’s mildly racist for Russia,” he admits, “like the other day, I was playing never-have-I-ever with some Russians and one girl–out of nowhere just goes ‘Never have I ever run down the street with niggers.'”

“Uh–what does that even mean?”

Q throws up his arms. “Who knows.”

“So, walking girl was just mildly racist.”

He nods, “for Russia.”

“Right.”

“In England, she’s an outright bitch.”

We finish our soups in relative silence. When the table is cleared Q wipes his hands on a napkin. “She did say the n-word, though,” he admits.

“So, she’s full racist then.”

“Yeah, full racist.”

“So are you going to see her again?”

He sits and thinks a moment, “it was a really long walk. I don’t think I want to do that again.”