Here are a couple of excerpts from World Wide Dirt's upcoming short story magazine Bad Like A Kraken.
Insano Orangutan Terror
Shane brought out the seed bucket and the peaches. He walked between the trees of the habitat and stopped at the metal dishes. It was dark and Shane looked up toward the branches and though he could not see the orangutans, he imagined them sleeping in the branches above and he put out their breakfast. Each of the little ones had a little bowl and he put one peach in each as well as a half-cup of seeds. Mama orangutan had a bigger bowl next to her childrens’ which Shane dropped twice as much seed and two peaches into. Shane walked away from their cluster of bowls to the big bowl that was kept at the bottom of the biggest tree in the habitat. It had always been kept separate from the others and Shane knew that was because the big orangutan would not eat with his family. It actually seemed unpleasant to him to watch his children eat, so his bowl was kept over here. He got five peaches for breakfast and Shane did not measure out the seed for him; he just poured it into the bowl until it was nearly full.
Shane turned with the bucket in his hand. He crossed the dirt ground toward the door. In the trees over him, a gust sent the leaves kicking and hissing against one another. Shane kicked something with his boot and sent it from the shadows into a sliver of light cast by a lamp in the prep room. It was a baby orangutan.
“Shit. Oh shit. I didn’t mean to kick you, little guy.” Shane knew they usually slept in the trees, had imagined them nestled together on a high up branch, the four of them anyway, and he wondered what this little one was doing sleeping in the dirt. He put his hand on the creature and turned it over. The fur on one side was red and matted in clumps. It made wet whispers of breath and looked timidly up at Shane. Shane felt the back of its head and found the blood’s source. The orangutan’s skull was soft. It felt elastic, like pressing on a smashed windshield.
“What did I do?” he said with his eyes closed. He ran behind the door and was back a minute later with Gwendolyn, the zoo’s primate diet and recreation director. He had switched the lights on and made the whole place white. “Gwen, I’m sorry,” he said.
“What happened?” Gwendolyn knelt beside the orangutan.
“It’s Mack, I think.”
“No. This one’s C.J.”
“I fucked up, Gwendolyn.” Shane stood over her and the dying orangutan. “I’m so sorry. I kicked his head in. I didn’t mean to. It was dark and I didn’t see him there. I didn’t mean to.”
Gwendolyn felt the side of his head. “Did you kick it just now?”
“Yeah. Jesus, I know I owe you and Terry for this job. I didn’t want to do anything like this to you. You treat me so good.” He turned away from her.
Gwendolyn stared down at the orangutan. “This blood is already drying. I don’t think you could have done this, Shane. I don’t know what happened.”
Shane looked across the habitat at the glass wall.
“Gwendolyn,” he said.
She looked at him and followed his eyes to the red smear on the glass. It was round and hair stuck to it in some parts. It ran down, tinting the glass in streaks. Beneath it lay what looked like some hairy meat fresh from the butcher’s. It was a lifeless stack of fur. It was another little dead orangutan. Shane walked to it and noticed Gwendolyn walking to another one in the corner near the door. That one was the mama. Gwendolyn took one knee and looked over her corpse. “Her leg is broken. I think she fell from the tree,” she said. A twisted branch sprouting shiny leaves stuck out of mama orangutan’s stomach and her blood poured into a puddle that stained Gwendolyn’s jeans. The mama orangutan had a sideways look frozen in her eyes. The third baby orangutan was wrapped in its mother’s arm, his face burrowed into her armpit. He sat still in a ball. Gwendolyn put her hand on it and it felt like a furry sack of loose teeth. He had been crushed in the fall. Her eyes looked in pain and she took her hand off of the baby.
“He’s Mack,” she said.
“Where’s Chip?” she asked. Shane was behind her now and he pointed up. In the tree above them was the big one, the man of the family. Chip sat with his long arms stretched ahead of him and that look that always made Shane uneasy. It looked like he had some purpose that Shane could never understand. He had a poker player’s eyes, Shane had thought before and he thought it again now. He had the eyes of a poker player who knew your money was really his and you were just holding it for him. Chip stared straight ahead at nothing at all.
“He did it,” Shane said.
“Why would he do that?” Gwen’s voice cracked as she spoke.
“There’s always been something wrong with him. You know that.”
“No.” Gwendolyn looked at Chip for a moment. His flanges stuck out far on either side of his face, making it wide like a full moon. Gwendolyn thanked God that he didn’t look at her now with his imposing white face and his smart, dead eyes. She stood up and they both walked to the door. Shane closed the door behind them and threw the deadbolt to lock it.Up in the trees, Chip plucked a leaf from a branch and chewed it in his mouth. He relaxed when the humans left and watched the stillness of his family beneath him. After a moment, his eyes went back to staring ahead. Chip drifted to sleep with his back against the trunk.
She Gone Crazy
The bartender was locking the door and the piano was silent. The boys stood in front of the building smoking and spitting and swearing softly. Martin pulled a Marlboro Red from a full pack, it took a second but he used the end of his nails and pried one loose. It was in his mouth without much effort and he looked across the street. A middle age man parked his mini van. He was balding in an old Packers jacket and pulled a sleeping five-year-old boy out of the back seat. While holding the child in one arm he slammed the sliding door to the van so hard he thought the window might break. It didn’t and he shuffled down the street to a phone booth.
His insides felt weak and full of despair, it may have been indigestion, after all he did eat White Castle, which his father once said was best consumed while already on the toilet, not that he’d want to use the bathroom at the club or the White Castle for that matter. He knew what indigestion felt like and this wasn’t it, this was how he usually felt when his phone was disconnected because he didn’t pay the bill, this is the way he felt when he took his last few CD’s to Disco round to buy lunch and cigarettes, this was the way he felt when suicide seemed like a totally viable option, not that he’d have the courage to go through with it. He was too squeamish to slit his wrists and too accustomed to drugs to over dose.
It was another bullshit gig with another bullshit crowd with another pathetic payout in another pathetic city in another pathetic club with another pathetic act, he thought. It was another great failure on another useless night at another penniless show in another wasted year, he thought.
With seventy-five cents left in his pocket he put fifty in the slot and dialed the number he had written in the pad he kept in his back pocket. This is what he did when he lost the privilege of his phone and soon after lost his phone charger. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, he thought. She answered on the third ring and they had a nice conversation, because after all, no matter how bad things got he could still play piano, he could still fuck and the two worked well together.
He walked back to the bar and most everyone had gone without saying goodbye. He was a little hurt and stepped on his cigarette after choking on the filter. He kicked it off the curb toward the gutter, it landed on the grate but didn’t fall in, this bothered him and he went over to knock it all the way in.
Lou was standing on the corner waiting for him which he thought was pretty nice considering he was his ride. He thanked Lou for waiting and asked him what he was doing after this.
“I’m beat. Believe me I’d like to head out for some suds but I just don’t think I have it in me tonight.”
Martin understood and as soon as Lou said it he immediately felt more drained than before. At that moment all he wanted to do was get home, get high, watch whatever unsatisfactory trash was on Showtime, jerk of and go to sleep. He would have called her and told her he’d see her later, maybe tomorrow but he didn’t have enough for another phone call. Either way his roommate was having an 80’s party, which the very idea of made him angry in an unexplainable way, so he wouldn’t be getting to sleep anytime soon, what with a million people running around the house at all hours of night.
Martin and Lou didn’t say much to each other during the hour it took them to get home. They talked a little bit about the show and how each song went or didn’t, they both agreed towards the end things got a little sloppy, but disagreed about the crowd. Lou thought it was alright and Martin thought it was absolute shit. That was typical enough; Martin only reveled in things that improved his own sense of self worth, Lou liked music. Lou took some pleasure in life and Martin didn’t.
They listened to some new quartet Lou was into and blew smoke out the window, being old friends they reminisced with crooked smiles and talked about things they had forgotten they had already talked about, never exposing the fact because it would be impolite and because it would be one less thing to talk about.
They had just gotten through a few gruesome sexual facts about Lou’s new girlfriend when he pulled up to the front of Martin’s house. He could she that the lights were on inside and the Bob Marly tapestry was illuminated in the front window.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come in for one?” Lou pulled down his baseball cap and shook his head. “Alright, I figured. Practice on Wednesday?”
“Yeah just give me a ring, we’ll figure it out.”
Lou sped away leaving Martin alone in the front yard with the muffled sounds of Queen. At that moment he wished he had anywhere else to go. It wasn’t that he didn’t like his roommate, or that he didn’t like Queen, or that he didn’t like to party, it was just that the combination made him sick to his stomach, but the possibility of getting laid made him slightly happier, or happy enough to get on with the evening.
There was a cushion wedged in the window where they had broke it a week earlier and a pile of garbage bags on the front stoop. The shutters were broken when he moved in, the house was pretty fucked up in general but this didn’t seem to bother him six months ago when he moved in. Now it was soul crushing, the mold in the shower, the leaking sink, the smell that came from the couch, the windows that didn’t close, and the kitchen, oh my god the kitchen, he thought.
Fully expecting to find a house so crowded he couldn’t get to the keg or to his room, he opened the door and didn’t see anyone. He wandered into the kitchen and opened the fridge. He knew there wasn’t any food and that most likely nobody else did either, he was right. He did find one cheese dog from the pack he bought a week earlier and ate it cold. Conversation came from the living room.
Five guys sat in the living room and his roommate was the only one in a costume. Jesse was one of his oldest friends and they got along together. Jesse had hair that was as tall as it was long, Sideshow Bob like. He was wearing pants with neon speckles and a leather armed Raiders jacket.
“Jesse, what the fuck is this?”
“Hey man, how was the show?”
“Hell, purgatory, torture.”
“Save it. You want to play cards?”
Martin put his hands in his pockets and said hello to the guys sitting around the table, he only recognized one of them, as they used to ride the bus together as kids, his name was Adam and he had spent the last couple of years hoping around the world on the pro bicycle circuit. It had been a while but he was glad to see him. Martin filled a cup from the keg in the laundry room and sat in on a couple drinking games.
Despite himself Martin was having fun or at least that’s what it felt like, he was enjoying himself so much in fact that he forgot she was coming over, the doorbell rang and Martin answered it.Her name Nancy and when he saw her standing there he wondered if he really liked her or not. She was wearing those boots with the thick heels. She was looking sassy, he thought.