Christian Garduno edited the writing compilation "Evolver" and his own solo poetry collection "Face," while a History undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. His work can also be read in Abstract Magazine, Corpus Christi Writers 2019, and Riza Press, where his poem, "The Return", was a Finalist in their 2019 Multimedia Poetry and Art Contest. He currently lives and writes along the South Texas coast with his wonderful wife Nahemie, young son Dylan, and his pet bear-cub Theodore Bexar.
A few years ago, his mother sent Theodore, his childhood teddy bear, back to him. “I handed him down to my nephew and niece and he went back to my mom for almost two decades. Now that he is back, he has, in a darling way, become part of my family again, with my son now enjoying his company. He goes on every road trip we take as family- and has become a sort of mascot, and in essence, a part of the family.”
Counting every wave on the Ganges
every tomb is another womb
and every time you're checking out
another soul is perfectly checking in-
it's just the rooms we rent...
Christian writes regularly on Medium.com Here's a sample:
you’re a buzz in the hours well before noon
when we’re swimming around in your room
you turn off the lights
we scale the heights...
read more at https://medium.com/@letsfly2000
Find me some buds before too long in the afternoon,
anywhere you are can make a mighty fine saloon,
when the beach is your backyard,
you don’t have to look very hard,
so give me a flash, let’s make a splash,
Gulf of Mexico’s always got plenty of room
read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
During the day, C.J. Staryk is a marine biogeochemist at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. By night or the wee hours of the morning, he frantically claws at his keyboard to compose short stories, poetry and novels. From his lair, C.J. also manages a website for his photography and stories: https://hauntingachingwonder.wordpress.com.
Here's a sample of Cory's work:
During the winter, I head back home to see the family. I also visit the place that would always give me a sense of calm from the outside world and the theater of lunatics in my head. It is a county park wrapped around the local reservoir.
See more at
I read a Norman Mailer article that played with the idea that God was fully aware of our Doom. That he had made mortal creatures that will still die and be gone. It was a beautiful idea to me and it affected me.
I'm also obsessed that we just don't understand the vastness of space. Exploration of space is both bleak and absolutely amazing. I want to capture those two sentiments in the future science fiction work I write. Also, there is this idea in ecology that the destination of all species is extinction and I'm curious about how we would want to go out. I was trying to play with those ideas.
There is this old proverb, which I think is Buddhist, that says: before enlightenment, a shepherd wakes and tends to his flock; after enlightenment, a shepherd wakes and tends to his flock. That is how I came up with the resolution. Originally, I wanted to shut the station down and everyone would die to send the message, but it just didn't seem logical and really cruel. Could be really emotional, but ultimately a terrible ending.
Flint flipped through the monitors’ outside views of the station and the gas giant they orbited. Turbulent cloud bands and a wide, vertical icy ring were the only sights. He once imagined the galaxy’s stars full of civilizations waiting for discovery, but most were empty and others were tombs.
Muted laughter drew Flint to the third monitor. A party played on that screen. Ten years ago. A woman with deep blue eyes smiled into the camera. Her shoulders draped with her long, brown curls framing her olive skin. She lifted her hands, revealing a brownie with a single lit candle. She mouthed “happy birthday” and laughed.
“We still felt alone out here then, but we were happier,” Flint muttered.
He caught a familiar scent: strawberry and cucumber, the aroma of the shampoo Sarah used. Flint swiveled in his chair and stared down a simulacrum of a short man with wide-rimmed glasses approaching.
“You’re trying to help again, Prometheus,” Flint said, fighting tears in his eyes. “It’s not working.”
The aroma vanished, replaced with the cold smell of dust and metal.
“I apologize. The captain assumed it would be a good idea. She is worried about you since it is the tenth anniversary of—”
The anger welled up inside him, but Prometheus was just following orders. He was a relic found adrift; an artificial, alien intelligence trapped in a probe; his creators extinct. There was no reason to be mad at him. “The captain wants me to be obedient, not comforted. Don’t worry, I’m not a danger to you.”
He turned back to his console so that Prometheus wouldn’t see the tears.
A blue light flashed.
Shit, it was the big blue light!
After decades of eavesdropping on alien signals, someone was sending them a message!
Prometheus gripped Flint’s shoulder, then turned to shout into the PA. “All officers report to the command center. We have a Code Blue.”
The monitor flashed with data and figures.
Don’t stop. Please, don’t stop. Flint thought. Let us find you.
The screen shimmered and flickered. The map turned red.
Flint whistled. “The source is outside of our galaxy. How is that possible?”
My name is David Carpenter: Writer of stories, adopter of cats, player of games. Graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy with a second degree from the university formerly known as Corpus Christi State. After a stint in the Coast Guard I became a computer programmer, a choice that I enjoyed but would not recommend for normal people. I live in Corpus Christi, Texas and write urban fantasy with a touch of humor.
"Monica and Jerry are assholes."
It had been two weeks, and I was still muttering about my feud at work when I climbed up the tree with a chainsaw. They were the ones who had screwed up, but I was the one who ended up on the hook for it. It had taken me over twenty hours to clean up their mess. Twenty unpaid, uncredited, working-while-everyone-else-goes-home hours. A whole weekend, shot to hell. The anger welled up, making it made it hard to focus.
And lack of focus was something that a man in my position could not afford.
Because I was eight feet off the ground, gingerly climbing an extension ladder propped against the big oak tree in my front yard. I'm afraid of heights, so for me, the top of a ladder is not a good place to be. But a windstorm had damaged one of the branches, and I didn't feel like paying two hundred bucks for a tree service.
I was perched precariously with one foot on the second-to-last rung, clutching my chain saw and reaching a shaky hand for what I hoped was a sturdy branch, when I looked up to see a squirrel sitting six inches in front of my face.
I froze in shock, standing perfectly still while a battle raged between my fear of heights and my instinct to jump.
Fear of heights won.
"Whoa! Just take it easy, there, fella,” the squirrel said. “I'm here to help.”
An eerie, almost lethargic sense of calm settled over me. “Huh. A squirrel that talks.”
“Hey, I’m not just any squirrel, kid. I'm an extra-special, once-in-a-lifetime magical squirrel."
I squinted at it. It had been thirty or forty years since anyone called me 'kid'. "Magical, huh?"
"That's right. And today's your lucky day, because I'm here to do you a favor."
"Uh-huh." I stepped down to a more secure position and rubbed my forehead with my free hand. I had never had a hallucination before. I wondered if my insurance would cover a psychotic episode. Probably not. Maybe I could claim it was the result of migraines. It was October, that lovely time of year when my head hurts non-stop every time a cold front blows through. I could blame it on the migraines, and maybe get an MRI.
Yeah, I should definitely get an MRI.
"Hey, fat boy! Look at me! Yeah, I'm talking to you, pal."
I shifted my feet on the rungs. The talking rodent was right, I needed to lose some weight. I hadn't been on the ladder five minutes and my feet were already starting to ache. I looked up at the splintered branch. Is it okay to use an electric chainsaw when you're hallucinating?
The squirrel snapped its fingers. "Hey! You're not going to fall off the ladder, are you? Nah, I would know it if you were."
"And how would you know that?"
Wait, it had fingers? I squinted at it again, trying to get a look at its paws. I don't wear glasses, but I probably should, it was a strain to focus on something so close. Why was my hallucination out of focus?
"Never mind, you wouldn't understand. Look, let's cut to the chase. You know that feud you're having at work? The one with Monica and Jerry? You need to let that shit go, man."
"Are you kidding me? After what they did? No way."
"Way. You need to let it go. And get yourself some glasses, you're walking around squinting at the world, not seeing jack." It held up a paw. "How many fingers am I holding up?" It chittered out a laugh. "Just kidding. But seriously, get your ass to an optometrist. And do the right thing, make nice with Monica and Jerry."
"Oh, right. And why should I take advice from a talking squirrel? You don't even exist."
"I'm your totem animal, dimwit, the sacred guardian of your clan and its soul-steering spiritual guide. This feud is eating you up, making you into an even bigger asshole than usual. You're taking it out on everyone around you, including your wife. Honestly, I don't know how she puts up with you."
"Of course you don't. Because you— " I poked a finger in his face " are just— a figment— of my imagination." I found myself swaying on the ladder, and immediately made a panicked grab for the tree.
"I've been trying to go easy on you, pal, but I can see that ‘easy’ isn't going to work."
It cocked its head and glared at me with its flinty black eyes, causing a chill to run up my spine. All the nasty remarks and mean-spirited gestures I had inflicted on the world over the previous two weeks flashed through my mind, an odious Parade of Awfulness that lasted less than a second but left me feeling nauseous and more than a little ashamed.
Monica and Jerry had made a mistake. And I had been a complete asshole about it. To everyone. For two whole weeks.
"About time the light came on. You get it now, right?"
"Then my work here is done. You know, I like you, kid. You're adorably clueless, but never in a boring way. More of a weird and awkward kind of thing."
"It's all good. But I wouldn't turn down some pecans, if you happen to come across some."
And with a flick of its tail it was gone, leaving me with wobbly legs and a lot to think about.
The next day I buried the hatchet with Monica and Jerry, basically by owning up to my bad behavior and asking for their forgiveness, which they willingly gave. They made a big deal of it, actually. Told me how grateful they were for all the extra work I had done. And they made a point of saying that in front of everybody, including the boss. I still blush a little whenever I think about it.
Everything's cool at work now, people don’t look the other way when they see me coming.
I went to a cut-rate optometrist and got a pair of glasses. Bifocals. I never wear them, but they're on the shelf by the TV if I ever need them. I'm still fat and I still get migraines, but the MRI came up clean, and the insurance company paid for it.
The doctor said my 'vision' was probably the result of stress and sleep deprivation. He wrote me a prescription that I didn't bother to fill.
I know what I saw.
What I did do was buy a big bag of unshelled pecans and put them in a bucket underneath the oak tree.
You know, for the squirrels.
Dylan Lopez is a student at TAMUCC majoring in English. He was a student of both Joseph Wilson and Tom Murphy as well as Glenn Blalock. He won the Robb Jackson Poetry Contest in his senior year of high school. A graduate of Richard King High School, he spent his senior year juggling dual credit classes with Del Mar College and competing in Academic Decathlon; he would go on to become a regional champion and a state competitor of 2017-2018. In high school, his interests in poetry were sparked by then-Creative Writing instructor Joseph Wilson, who featured Dylan in his final edition of the high school literary magazine, Open All Night. His writing incorporates an upbringing centered around parochial schools and religious teachings, while also tackling the theme of love from a young adult’s perspective. He hopes to move forward with his education in the hopes of going to law school and continuing to practice his writing over the coming years.
I am the one caught answering,
lost in the evening of Being—
that hears your flat strikes
against the patient timber door
where you ask, with feigned modesty
to stay in the empty guest room.
The latest tenant of a shut-in heart
soaked in scarlet jets, flush with
patchwork-shades of disregard—
a reckless tempest raving, beneath
the bent cries and tilted howls resounding,
grating against my love-scratched corridors...
Against the foreign hour’s demands
I am here with you; a transient tied,
Truant of time.
A steward to the innumerable imagined, the generations
Just as you feel the searing touch of the sun emblazed, so I felt.
Just as any of you have known the shimmering coastal reveries, so I have
The melodies sung symphonic—with buoyant delight.
Just as you reach your hands into the shallow pools pondering their fortunes, I reached yet
Just as you look on the treasure-laden leviathans come to harbor, their harlequin crates
enshrined, I looked.
I too journeyed across the former bridge,
That long-iron lattice, now overtaken—
Its wind-battered braces hurled into the bay,
Replaced by silk-thread suspensions, stained
with the sparkling brilliancies of ocean pearls.
These and all else were bliss to me, as they are to you,
staring across the violet horizon into teal-hued waters
from the bayside balconies.
I loved it well, the city and her motley crowds
We greeted each other with cool tenderness,
a soft-swaying love, caressed by the gentle tide.
There is nothing between us then,
No love undone by the separation of grey years
Whatever time plots, it cannot prevail over us
I too lived here, in the shadow of the washed harbor.
I too drove across the shore of Corpus, baptized in the waters around it.
I too prayed in the mission house, christened by the crystalline skyline.
I too felt the abrupt changes, the widening gyre of my age—
In my solitary hold, among the lush seagrass and wild oxeyes
I came into being, breaking through the surface threshold
I came to know myself, reclaimed from the savage storms
I found myself on the vestal shore, delivered by the gulf sands,
I familiarly recall the nauseating journey from King
High school to the unfamiliar Island University,
With its own ecosystem, staring out into the sea.
Beside me on the unsound bus was a pretty German
Girl who, by the end of the relieving trip, would
Become something more to me than a mere seat partner...
Jacqueline was born and raised in Corpus Christi and graduated from Incarnate Word Academy High School. She is a wife, mother, and lover of all academic disciplines, specifically those involving the English language and writing. Jacqueline works as a Freelance Writer and as an Instructional Consultant for the Stone Writing Center at Del Mar College. She is also a Contributing Writer for The Bend and Inspire Coastal Bend Magazines.
Everywhere I looked, there was red. Then again, red is the universal color of romance and love, and well, I was at a wedding. Ugh. The things I do for my sister. She looked so beautiful and happy in her wedding gown, as the groom spun her in circles, then dipped her back and kissed her on her cherry red lips. Gross. Why do couples have to be so mushy? I shifted my focus to the table where the gold vases held bouquets of flowers in vibrant shades of crimson and burgundy, and the way the color popped off of the black and white table linens was a bold reminder of the absence of love in my life. Thank God for alcohol. The blood-red liquid dancing in the tall crystal goblet that I had been nursing for the past few hours was the only companion I had. It was all I could focus on as I realized that this was probably the 5th wedding I’d been to this year, and I was still alone. I’d already made peace with it…I suppose.
As I looked around the room, people were leaving and the dance floor was dying down, with the exception of the bride and groom and a few other couples, so I took this as my cue to head out. I didn’t realize the degree of my inebriated state until I stood up to walk in my 4” Jimmy Choo’s; it was like watching a drunken horse trotting. I was trying my hardest to walk out without appearing like the train wreck that I was at the moment. I finally found the door and breathed a sigh of relief because I was free from the love in the air that was suffocating me.
read a longer excerpt in Corpus Christi Writers 2020
Sitting in the corner
while my world is going dim,
I’m thinking that I hear a voice-
My sanity is wearing thin.
Read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
Jason Bond is a Corpus Christi native and teaches fourth grade. He lives with his beautiful wife, Rose. When not taking care of his cat and dog, Jason loves to read and write. His hope and dream is that someone else enjoys his imagination.
Brian watched Timmy reach as far as he could under his bed. Imagining his chubby fingers tiptoeing like spider legs over dust-bunny covered Cheetos or long-lost Lego pieces or whatever else might be under there.
“Got it!” Timmy whispered and pulled the tattered shoebox out into the light of the flashlight he had resting on his lap.
The black and yellow box was covered in sunflowers. Although all of that was almost impossible to see through the layers of Scotch tape and endless yards of twine that Timmy had placed around it. Brian, unfortunately, had to help his mom wrap Christmas presents last year and knew all about how much tape to use and where to hold his finger so his mom could tie the bow. But Timmy’s box looked nothing like that.
“It’s in here. I had to wrap it up pretty tight. I didn’t want it getting out. I mean, what if it can get through the cracks somehow, or worse, pop itself open like a Jack-in-the-Box.” Timmy’s voice sounded excited and out of breath even though the two of them were just sitting there quietly on their sleeping bags.
Timmy clutched it tight. Little beads of sweat were making their way down the side of his cheeks. Brian wanted to reach out and grab it out of Timmy’s hands and rip it open to see its contents. Another part of him wanted to either hide under the folds of his sleeping bag and zip it up like a human pupa, or run out of the bedroom and not stop until he was safe across the street and back in his own bed. Finally, after sucking up as much courage as his seven-year-old body could contain, he reached out and asked to hold it.
“Hold on. Let me tell you about how I got it first, and if you still want to hold it, I will let you. But you have to promise me that if you do hold it, you will hold it like it’s a bomb or something like your life depends on it.” Timmy said seriously. His eyes stared at Brian, never blinking.
“Ok then. I was out behind my house, you know where they are putting in all those new apartments. And I was just looking around for stuff. You never know what you might find when they start digging things up. Well, I was hoping to find an arrowhead or maybe some like cool animal bones, when I hear a voice coming from one of the buildings. The walls were barely up, and you could see all of the wires and pipes like the intestines of a huge robot. My dad would tan my behind if he caught me snooping around there, and I was about to high-tail it back home, but there was something in that voice that I just couldn’t walk away from.”
Brian didn’t say a word. He was no longer looking at the box in Timmy’s hands but instead staring into the frightened look on his best friend’s face. The dim light of the flashlight teased the shadows and turned the cozy bedroom into an endless labyrinth of shadows. Brian could hear the air conditioning and the steady rhythmic squeak of the ceiling fan overhead, but other than that, the house was dead silent.
Timmy continued, “I had seen where the workers had been earlier in the day. The place was littered with cigarette butts and Styrofoam cups. That was when I heard the voice of a girl about our age. Sounded like she was playing by herself around the corner. Her voice changed the closer I got to it. Brian, I ain’t kidding. The closer I got to her, and the deeper I walked into the back end of that building, the older the little girl seemed to get. And another thing, it wasn’t getting louder. Before I knew it, I had walked beyond the middle of all that wood and nails and stuff, and still, instead of her voice getting louder and clearer, it was the same faint sound coming from just beyond wherever I was turning.”
Brian now wished that he had gone with his second option and just ran home when he had the chance. It was too late now. He was in deep. Timmy had been his best friend since kindergarten, and he had never seen him like this. The whole time he shared his story, Timmy’s voice was never above a whisper, but Brian didn’t think that it had anything to do with Timmy’s parents downstairs. The fact was that he had never seen his friend scared.
“The old lady, that’s what the voice sounded like at the end, wasn’t talking to me.” Timmy looked down at his box but still told his story to Brian, “It was talking about this. ‘Keep it safe. Keep it safe. Keep it hidden.’ It just repeated those words over and over again.”
Timmy held out the box to show Brian the patch-work taping job that he had done. In barely a whisper, he said, “There is another box inside this one.” He looked around the room cautiously as if someone or something might be trying to listen in to their conversation.
“Wh-wh-what d-d-oes it l-l-look like?” Brian stuttered. The shoebox seemed to shake in Timmy’s hands, and Brian couldn’t tell if it was it was because his friend was scared or whatever it was inside was trying to get out.
“When I turned the corner around a huge stack of lumber, I found the shoebox. The old lady’s voice was whispering about it until the very end, I mean right until the second I saw her. I ain’t kidding Brian. I think I saw her. She was just a mist. She was like the opposite of a shadow. For the life of me, I couldn’t breathe, and my legs wouldn’t move. I was paralyzed, and I could feel my heart beating. I could hear it too. That was when she moved.” His body had become a little ball. He had curled into himself, trying to be as small as he could.
It was Brian who was now paralyzed. His friend’s words hung in the air like a noose, and Brian was afraid that if he did manage to screw up enough courage to look to his left or his right and into the darkness, then whatever was hiding just beyond would reach out, and he would disappear forever.
“Then she turned to look at me. She looked right into my eyes. ‘Never open it. Keep it safe. Keep it hidden,’ she told me in her creepy old lady voice. Then, she just wasn’t there anymore. It was like the wind just blew her away. Not really away, more like apart.”
“So, what’s inside?” Brian asked.
“A smaller box, only it’s not made out of wood. I don’t know what it’s made out of. It’s like it’s made out of like some kind of white stone or rock or something. It was dirty, and it had like this wax seal over the opening. I didn’t know what to do. It was getting late, and I knew that my mom was going to be calling me in for dinner pretty soon, so I just grabbed it and started running. I didn’t stop running until I was inside and upstairs. Mom yelled something to me about running in the house and slamming the door, but I wasn’t listening. I just ran to my room and put the box on my bed.”
Timmy’s posture relaxed a bit, and he leaned back letting a few rays of the flashlight’s beams come between him and his friend.
Brian relaxed too. “So why did you wrap it up like this if it was already sealed up?”
“That’s the thing. The ivory, or bone, or whatever it is made from is cracked all over the place. I was staring at it on my bed, and all I could think about was what if it cracked, or I dropped it? So that is when I came up with this.” Timmy said and held up the box.
Brian didn’t know what was hidden in the white box that was held in the taped and mangled shoebox, and after Timmy’s story he was quite sure that he didn’t want to know, that was until it started to whisper to him in the dark. It had taken what Brian had thought were hours before he was able to fall asleep. He could hear Timmy’s slow and steady breathing from the sleeping bag not too far away and knew that his friend was sound asleep. This was Brian’s first sleepover, and he was so excited that his mom and dad had said yes. His mom thought that he was too young, but his dad had convinced her that he was getting old enough to sleep across the street without the world coming to an end. As Brian lay there sleepless in the dark, he was pretty sure that his mom may have been right.
“Please help me.” the mysterious voice pleaded. Brian sat up straight with the sleeping bag still zipped up tightly around him. To him, it sounded like a child. He couldn’t have been more than three or four. “Let me out.” the toddler’s voice pleaded. Timmy’s light snoring was unaffected by the tiny whisper of a voice coming from the deep corner under his bed. Brian, on the other hand, was wide awake now. The little boy’s voice continued to talk to him.
“Brian, your friend was so nice to bring me home. Please let me out. I’m so scared in here all alone.” His faint words floated like a cloud. No, like a mist.
Brian slowly unzipped his sleeping bag. He should have been more afraid. In fact, he should have shaken his best friend like a cup of Yahtzee dice so they could both have gotten the hell out of there, but instead, he crawled toward the sound. His knees made a shuffling sound across the dark blue nylon of his bag, and he stopped just short of the edge of Timmy’s bed.
“I just want to be free and go home. I miss my mommy and daddy so much. Please, Brian, let me out.” His voice sounded older now. Not louder or stronger, but now he sounded like a boy that could have sat next to him in Mrs. Nelson’s class.
Brian now understood why Timmy had been drawn to the voices that he had heard in the empty construction site. The curiosity drove him forward. No matter how logical it might have been to just run away or wake his friend, the only thing Brian wanted was to get to that box. Luckily, his arms were much longer than his friend’s, so he had no trouble reaching under the bedding and into darkness. Brian looped his index finger around the loose twine and pulled the shoebox to him.
“Timmy lied to you. He opened the box. He just didn’t tell you what was inside, because he didn’t want to share it. He wanted to scare you away from it, so you wouldn’t even try to open it.” The voice became the voice of a teenager. “It’s filled with gold coins. That’s right! It’s filled with gold coins that Billy the Kid himself stole off a stagecoach. It’s worth a fortune.”
Brian had no choice. He had to open the shoebox. He wanted to see what was inside for himself. He wanted his half of the treasure that his so-called best friend was hiding from him. He began to pull and tug on the string that was knotted and bent in around the sunken cardboard. Once he pulled so hard that his elbow hit the corner of the bedpost, and his funny bone screamed back in anger. Brian was afraid that the noise was going to wake Timmy, and his friend would angrily grab all of the coins for himself. When Brian had removed all of the string and had tossed it behind him, he started to work his way around the edges of the box to where Timmy had layered the tape. The tape bunched and tightened as he pulled, but before too long he could see the tiniest of slivers inside revealing the corner of the alabaster container.
This time it was the voice of a man, a voice that reminded Brian of his father. “That’s it, son. You are almost there. I am so very proud of you. You are so brave. Don’t stop now.”
The whispered sounds of the man filled the dead silent bedroom. Brian thought for sure that it would wake Timmy from his deep slumber, but his friend lay there corpse-like. If it wasn’t for the steady movement of his chest, Brian wouldn’t have been too sure. He tossed the mangled black and yellow shoebox on the bed triumphantly and held the cracked treasure in his hands. “What am I doing?” Brian whispered to himself. For the first time since he had been awakened by the eerie voice of a small boy tempting to help him, he realized what he was truly doing. He was just about to toss the box across the room having it shatter and splinter into thousands of minuscule pieces when the spirit spoke to him again.
“Not just gold, but a secret,” the elderly voice crackled. “That’s what this box contains. Don’t turn chicken on me now, boy. Just break the seal, and all will be yours and yours alone.”
Brian had never been good at keeping secrets, and more so, he hated to be called a chicken. He no longer cared about the misty figure that had shown his friend the box and the warning that it had whispered to him. He no longer cared about making too much noise and waking Timmy up as he slept soundly just two feet away. All Brian DID care about was getting to the golden treasure and the secret that he now held in his hands. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more upset he got knowing that Timmy was trying to keep it all to himself. So much for his so-called best friend.
When Brian broke the seal, immediately the ivory box began to glow, first a wonderful golden yellow, and then a bright white. “It’s the gold!” Brian thought. The once dark room filled with radiance. “It’s beautiful.” And then the box began to feel warm, not just warm, but hot. The wax seal began to melt and drip like a candle onto Brian’s sleeping bag. Finally, Brian couldn’t take the searing heat any longer and dropped the box at his knees. That was when he noticed the thin white mist that seemed to slowly swirl and circle. It originated from the bright white rectangle and like a ghostly tornado quickened and swirled clockwise to the ceiling.
“Yessssss! Freeeeee!” the entity hissed.
The objects on the shelf behind Brian began to shake slowly and then more rapidly and then after teetering back and forth, fall off the edge. T-ball trophies and books crashed to the floor. The lamp on Timmy’s desk rattled and then fell onto the carpet. The specter wailed and spun around the room. It seemed to float through certain objects and smash into others. The tail end would turn to a fine mist and pass through the bedding, while other parts would throw clothes and toys like projectiles toward the bedroom walls.
“What did you do?” screamed Timmy. Now wide awake, his eyes were transfixed on the ghost that filled the room. “What did you do?”
“I-I-I wanted the gold coins. You w-w-weren’t going to share.” Brian mumbled.
“What are you talking about? Brian, what did you do? I was supposed to keep it safe.” Timmy was yelling and tears streamed down his reddened cheeks.
The spirit seemed to solidify the more and more it flew around Timmy’s bedroom. The blue and white striped sheets on the bed were caught up in the swirl of mist. The room became a roaring echoing tornado of debris. There was a frantic pounding on the bedroom door as Timmy’s mother and father tried to get inside to protect their little boy, but it was too late. Their muffled screams coming from the hall seemed miles away. Timmy’s parents were helpless.
Brian picked up the open box at his knees and held it up to the sky as if the creature would have somehow changed its mind and returned to its prison. Although the sides of the box burned his hands and begged him to let go, Brian held fast and determined. At the same time, Timmy stood at the door in his pajamas turning and twisting the doorknob in every direction hoping against hope that it would open as tears blurred his vision.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t know!” Brian yelled to Timmy from across the bedroom.
Everything seemed to happen at once. The ghostly spirit shattered the window causing shards of glass to shoot around the room almost blinding Brian. He screamed at the entity and managed to cover his eyes with the sleeve of rocket ship pajamas. The bedroom door burst open as Timmy’s mother and father fell into the room almost crushing Timmy underneath them. Timmy thankfully had his soaking wet hands slip off the knob causing him to fall on his tailbone into the soft padding of his sleeping bag.
Then the room went silent. The cool night breeze from outside blew the curtains inward and chilled the sweat on Brian’s brow. Timmy’s father helped Timmy to his feet, and they all stood to stare at the broken window. His mother bent down to pick up the alabaster box with the broken wax seal.
“Keep it safe,” Timmy said, but his voice trembled, like he knew it was too late.
I was back at the same old Stripes Market trying to find something, anything with a label. Anything at all that I didn’t have to spend thirty minutes prying open just to find out that it was filled with mushy yams or even worse, cranberry sauce that looks like the inside of the can when you shake it out. They used to say to never eat from a dented can because somehow that makes all the dangerous lead or tin or whatever leak out into the food, but now that is all that is left. I didn’t make it through all these months just to die of lead poisoning or tetanus.
She was right outside the window. Sure, the window was filthy, but I could still make out her gentle child-like smile and the way she focused that smile at me before she disappeared. Her raven hair was matted, oily, and thick, but so beautiful in the way that it still managed to blow in her face.
Deep Breath. Everything is going to be okay. I AM NOT GOING CRAZY! I know she is real. She has to be.
After I saw her, I carefully placed the can of “mystery meat” back to the dust-covered shelf and as quickly as I could, made my way to the front entrance. I remember when they would magically open with a swish when you stepped on the mat as if you were a brave knight entering an ancient castle filled with mystery, but there is no more magic and all of the mystery leads you straight to horror. Now as the noon-time slipped quickly into the afternoon, I had to slide myself sideways through the cracks in the shards of long broken glass. I reminded myself that you can’t make too much noise. That’s the way they find you. That’s how you end up one of them. But all that silence was for nothing because she was nowhere to be found. Not even footprints in the dirt of the empty sidewalk. I could have sworn that she pressed her hand against the glass, but not even a fingerprint. How is that even possible?
Read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2020
Javier Villarreal holds a BA and MA in Spanish from Pan American University, Edinburg, Texas, and a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin, Texas. His major fields of interests are Languages in Contact (Spanish and English), Mexican American Folklore, and poetry. His works have been published by academic and literary journals. His first book of poetry Entre lluvia, canto y flor was published in 2008. He translated Versos para no dormir (Leticia Sandoval), edited Voz de Amor (Servando Cárdenas), and is currently working on his second book of poetry. After 30 years in the classroom, Dr. Villarreal retired and lives in Corpus Christi with his family.
cada remanso de luz que asoma
entre la densa niebla de tus ojos.
Cuando tus manos
perciben mi luz resplandece
una flor en tu rostro.
A veces, ilumino tus sombras,
hilvano tus sueños, silencio tus murmullos,
enjuago de tus ojos el polvo de la noche.
From its banks
the willows holding
the water with open
arms and sprawling...
Read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
JoAnn Sanderson was born in Iowa, received a Masters degree in English Education at Southern Illinois University, and taught many years in Illinois public schools. After she retired, she researched possible places to re-locate and made the wise decision to move to Corpus Christi, Texas. Recently she became interested in writing very short stories (flash fiction/micro-fiction).
George McDougal was seated on a brown leather chair talking to his friend, Sammy Lomax, seated on a comfortable recliner on his right. “Sammy,” George asked, “Have you ever noticed the wood panel above my fireplace? That’s Aesop’s adage, 'A man is known by the company he keeps' carved into the panel. My parents gave it to me thirty years ago when I was going through the typical rebellious, existential-angst stage during my teenage years. I’m sure my parents gave it to me to teach me a character building moral lesson.
"I admit that some of the members of my company are not worth the trouble they cause me. Maybe, I thought, it was time to make some cuts. I made a list of my companions’ behaviors, both those whom I consider beneficial to my general welfare and those whom I consider liabilities. I set out to evaluate whose companionship I should encourage and whose I should avoid. I put the company I keep in pairs to show the contrasting behaviors they exhibit. I call them my dueling duos.
"Take Juán, for instance. He recently bought a $225 pair of athletic shoes which he wears only to walk from the parking lot to and through Al’s Athletic Attire. Aaron, on the other hand, walks three miles a day in dilapidated sneakers held together with duct tape.
"Then there’s Sean. He eats small portions of nutritious food recommended in each category of the USDA’s food pyramid. But Abdullah heaps his plate at Pete’s Pyramid of Food Cafeteria and sneaks extra desserts in a voluminous tote bag he carries for these binges.
Bean-counting Isaac monitors his investment portfolio, bank accounts, and credit card balances daily. David wakes up on the morning of April 14th each year feeling the breath of his nemesis, the IRS, breathing down his neck.
"Suave Jeremy speaks articulately and listens respectfully to others. However, Pundit Patricia considers conversations as opportunities to deliver lengthy monologues about her pet chihuahuas, the state of the union, and the rudeness and lack of responsibility shown by children born after 1959.
"Let’s not forget Let’s-Go-Green Ralph. He extols the merits of conserving our natural resources and reducing consumer consumption while Celeste uses the recycle bin to store leftover kitchen tiles and old tee shirts shredded into rags.
"Add to the list, Eugene. He furnishes his home in the minimalist style of a Buddhist meditation retreat and cringes when he visits Diego who fills his home with fifty fishing rods, bookshelves stuffed with DOS operating manuals, and high school football trophies.
"These are a mere sampling of my companions and their behaviors. They whisper to, shout at, advise, compliment, and reprimand each other and sometimes, me! But, you know, Sammy, I realized all these comrades are endearing, and I don’t want to cut any of them out of my life. Of course, some of them need to be kept at bay at times. But cut them off completely? No!
"When I went to my weekly appointment with my shrink, I told him about my evaluations and my conclusion. I thought at first that he was impressed with my analysis. But all he said was, ‘George, I think we’re making some progress, but I’d like to increase the dosage of your meds for awhile.’
"Frankly, Sammy, I think my shrink needs one of his own. I’m onto his game. He wants me needy and lonely so he can add anti-depressants to my pharmaceutical arsenal.”
George looked toward the empty recliner on his right and asked, “So what do you think about my evaluations and conclusions, Sammy? Pretty spot on, don’t you think?”
Friends, relatives, and acquaintances thought Maria was a clever lady. She enjoyed devising techniques to keep the romance alive in her relationship. She told them, “A man likes fantasy and intrigue, so I find ways to keep him interested. Variety is the spice of life, they say.” She called one of the techniques she used, “the greeting.” Each time he arrived, she would use it...
Read the rest in Corpus Christi Writers 2020
Jody Heymann is a fiction writer and has been living in Corpus Christi, Texas for most of her life. She is a retired Emeritus Professor from Del Mar College. Jody taught English Literature for over 42 years. Jody and her husband, Dr. Hans Heymann have contributed greatly to the community in which they lived. Dr. Heymann even brought the first blood bank to Corpus Christi. Jody’s books, Greystone’s Dilemma and The Lady Killers: A Thriller are entertaining reads.
When a popular Texas State Senator running for reelection hires an assassin to solve his problem with a demanding young lover, he gets more than he bargained for--a murderer who enjoys his work, a media eager to exploit the scandal, and two detectives hired by the coed's parents to find their daughter...
Read more in Corpus Christi Writers 2019.
Jon Gregory worked for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 18 years. His poems, short stories and essays have been published in The American Dissident, The Dallas Review, Contexas, The DFW Poetry Review, the Austin International Poetry Festival's annual anthology, in Map of Austin Poetry e-zine, and elsewhere. He has a B.A. from Texas Lutheran University, where he won two short-story prizes from the English department and was associate editor of the literary magazine; and an M.A. from Corpus Christi State University (now Texas A&M-CC).
As my cool, efficient car
Cut a metal swath
Through a brisk night
Of early spring,
I saw a muscled mastiff,
A strong, joyful machine,
Dart across the road
And narrowly out of peril.
Suddenly I saw his mate,
A virtual clone,
Eyes dazed and gleaming
With the pleasure of the chase.
I dared not stop
To see the living
Complete the race alone.
Joshua Espitia is an award-winning author of short fiction, playwright, journalist, and former managing editor of The Windward Review. You can find his political commentary, satire, and God-awful attempts at comedy in The Vent Daily on a semi-regular basis. His poetry can be found on the digital journals South Broadway Ghost Society and Spank the Carp, and in the upcoming issues of Voices Arts and Literature Journal and The Windward Review. Joshua resides in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he works as an educator with the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.
Please insert or swipe your card.
Wait that breathless few seconds
for approval or denial, validation
of your financial well-being, your
fiscal responsibility, an adulthood
confirmed by your ability to buy
this fancy loaf of San Francisco
sourdough instead of plain, white
Wonder Bread for that sandwich
waiting to be built in the kitchen
of the efficiency you worked so
hard to afford-
The buck eighteen in loose change
jingling around in your jean pocket
will buy store-brand sandwich bread.
And the rent isn’t due until Tuesday.
Read more like this in Corpus Christi Writers 2019
Jimmy Willden is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is also an American musician and composer. After beginning his career in music in 1998, Willden has since forayed into the world of filmmaking, winning several festival awards as director and screenwriter. He is also an accomplished journalist.
At some point, the alcohol in my bloodstream subsided long enough for me to become
slightly coherent. I found that I was in some small inn, somewhere in Colorado, sitting in a chair
by the window. The blinds were open, and I was just staring off at the open Colorado skies that
lay beyond Interstate 76.
I blinked, and rolled my head around, but my useless body couldn’t stand the weight of it;
it fell to rest against my shoulder, as I stared at my feet. On the floor next to my bare feet was an
empty liter of whiskey. I tried to breathe, but the rotten smell of dried vomit permeated my sense
of smell, and instead, I gagged.