Plugs

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Know-It-All: Queue

by Luc Reid

The RV belonging to the guy who knew everything was parked behind the old building supply place off River Road, and the line to its door already stretched halfway across the parking lot. It was just after 2:00 on a hot Thursday, and the sun blasted me as I got in line.

I was surprised at how quickly we moved, but as I got closer to the RV I figured out why: most people were being turned away. A tall Chinese guy in a cowboy hat stood at the door beneath a camera pointed at the line. Next to the camera was a loudspeaker.

The tall guy must have had an earpiece or something, because as each person came up, he’d tilt his head, then say “Sorry, he can’t see you today,” or just “Sorry,” or sometimes something like “Get out of here, you son of a bitch.” He spoke in a twangy accent.

Three people in front of me there was a skinny woman in her 50’s with red hair, and for her the tall guy just stepped aside. She went in silently. Two minutes later the door burst open and she ran off across the parking lot, crying.

The tall guy, expressionless, closed the door, then turned his attention back to the line.

“Sorry,” he said to the next lady, then to the guy after her, “No.”

The guy in front of me wasn’t having it. “I just–”

“Please clear off before we have to get rough.”

“Don’t you threaten me! I’m seeing him, God damn –”

A nondescript, midwest-accented voice blared over the speaker. “Chad MacIntyre is the one who defaced the war memorial last summer. The spray paint cans are still in his garage.”

The guy in front of me turned white as paste and began backing away across the parking lot. “That’s a lie!” he shouted. “That’s a goddamn lie!” Then he ran for his car, gunned the engine, and tore off.

I was next, and I looked up at the tall guy. He tilted his head, then looked back at me and grinned.

“Mike says go on in,” he drawled. “You get one question, so don’t ask why he’s living in an RV or anything stupid like that, OK?”

“OK,” I said, and stepped up to the door, my heart hammering. My question suddenly felt small and sad.

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