Issue No. 2, affectionately known as BF2, is hot off the press! Here's a preview:
"Mr. Codman's Women"
by Stephanie Carpenter
There is a scratching at the other side of the cellar door. Mr. Codman’s hand snaps to the handle of his pocket pistol. Who is it? he calls. Move along, at once! He sidles from the table to the wall, extinguishing the electric light. The scratching continues. Be gone! Mr. Codman roars. He throws his bedroom slipper at the door, throws its mate. Shoo! he cries. The noise stops. His slippers are now on the far side of the room. He creeps toward them. He can hear the beast chirruping quietly. It is either a rat or an intruder making rat noises. More likely, he thinks, the latter. He slips his feet back into the damp interiors of his woolen slippers. Have strength, he tells himself. He thinks of Mrs. Smyth-Hurst, who is nervous of strangers but shoots sparrows from her bedroom window. He thinks of the determined look she gets before she takes a shot. She is so sure of hand! But her charms cannot compare to those of Mrs. Johnson. Mr. Codman shoves open the cellar door and fires. The chirruping beast flips head over paws down the stairs. It is neither man nor rat, but—he cringes—cat.
Mittens! shrieks Josephine from behind him. She is unnervingly quiet on her feet. She shoves Mr. Codman as she sprints past. I’ll shoot you, you beast! You ought to be locked up!
Yes, declares another voice. Mr. Codman turns to find his wife standing on the threshold of the dining room. Her damp hair, lit from behind, emits a frizzled aura. You ought to be locked up, she says. She turns on her heel and glides away, silent as a ghost.
Stephanie Carpenter’s fiction has appeared in The Saint Ann’s Review, Crab Orchard Review, turnrow, Avery, LITnIMAGE, Midwestern Gothic, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan-Flint. She is currently putting the finishing touches on her first novel.
"Long Story, No Map"
by Jerry Gabriel
The day before Choi fell from the roof of the house at 283 Constable, a Thursday in early December, Carl asked Choi how he’d come to America. They were walking along Midland toward Prince’s Subs.
Airplane, Choi said. Long ride.
I meant why, Carl said, though he wouldn’t have guessed that Choi had flown. He assumed that this had happened long ago, when international travel was all done by boat.
Choi smiled. America land of opportunity.
Right, Carl said.
I want to live in Columbus, Choi tried again. He was always smiling.
A block later he said, My wife want to come to America. She read magazines. She not like communist. She—he paused to line up the word right in his head—bourgeoisie.
Bourgeoisie, Carl said. He didn’t know the word, but its French sound got the gist across more or less. You like the commies, did you?
It seemed safe, all these years removed. Truth was, Carl didn’t know much about any of it. Until Choi had mentioned communism, Carl had forgotten it was even involved.
My family poor, Mr. Professional Roofer. Communist feed us.
Carl was quiet. It was the most Choi had talked about himself in the five days they’d been reroofing the ancient Victorian where Carl subletted a room.
After Japanese go, more war, Choi continued.
Carl didn’t ask what the Japanese had to do with it. So you were still there for the war, were you?
Not just one war, Mr. Professional Roofer.
Carl looked over. My old man went to Korea, he said.
Ah, Choi said. Special Forces.
My dad? Hell no.
Marine probably, Choi said. Semper Fi motherfucker.
Carl had to laugh.
Jerry Gabriel’s first book of short fiction, Drowned Boy, was published in January 2010 by Sarabande Books, and has been awarded the Towson Prize for Literature and named a “Discover Great New Writers” selection by Barnes and Noble. He lives in southern Maryland and is at work on a new book of short stories.
by Jordan Smith
The gallery had been crowded for days, despite (or was it because of?) the extravagant admission Kirk had decided to charge, sensing, all the way from Hamilton’s aerie, his disapproval of such dramatics. The painting was behind red velvet curtains, with chairs arranged as if facing a stage, and beside each seat, a pair of pearlized opera glasses. When the viewers found their places, he walked to a podium to one side of the curtains. Each night after the first there was applause simply at his appearance, but he knew enough to hardly acknowledge this, simply lifted his arm, and an unseen assistant pulled the cord that drew the fabric aside. It was like a veil of mist rising over a beloved and celebrated ruin or the view from a window in some hotel in the Alps where you had arrived too late to take in the splendor and now, as you sit at your table about to take your first sip of coffee, the waiter pulls back the drapes, and there it is. But if that alpine view were at once rugged and beautiful, still, it was not unexpected. Grandeur of course, and fear, but all the same, a landscape that had been the subject of so many symphonies and poems and prints that it did not shock as it might have; you felt its chill, but it was like putting one foot out of the covers on a cold morning.
The first glimpse of Kirk’s view of the Andes, the majesty of the proportions and the savagery of the light, left the viewers so stunned that it was a moment before the second wave of applause broke out, not merely appreciative but adulatory and self-approving, as if the audience praised both Kirk and themselves for having survived what they had witnessed and now might bring back to the civilized city they’d reenter soon enough, just as he had brought such wildness back to the tradition of art. Then they reached for the opera glasses, as if the dissolving of distance into an appreciation of the artistry of detail was what they had come for after all.
Jordan Smith is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently The Light in the Film from the University of Tampa Press. He lives in upstate New York, not far from The Olana Partnership, whose presentation of the life and work of Frederic Church provided the impetus for "A Morning." He teaches at Union College. Read more of his work in Numero Cinq.