Rice by Mitchell Grabois

Moira spills a beer on her iphone, XX Beer. She curses, towels the phone off, puts it in a pot, puts rice on top to absorb any beer that might have got into electronic cracks and crevasses.

Grandma comes in, sees the pot of rice, says to herself: That Moira, starts everything, finishes nothing. She puts water in the pot, sets in on the stove, click click click, ignites her favorite burner, goes back to watch Animal Planet. She likes animals more than people. She believes that everyone does; they just pretend to like people.

Moira needs to make a phone call, needs to call the law on her ex, Lew, who’s not paying child support. Gringo motherfucker.

In the hall, on the way to the kitchen, she sees the goldfish she once gave him swimming lazily around his tank. After all this time, Finned Fucker’s still alive. That’s the name Lew gave him, and Moira hasn’t bothered to change it

She wanted to give Lew a pretty parrot. Maybe he could teach it to rap, she thought. But it was too expensive. She passes her grandma watching TV. A lion roars. Moira giggles. Moira enters the kitchen.

via morgueFile
via morgueFile

Lew picks up his guitar, a Candy-Apple Red Stratocaster, straps it on, strums a harsh chord. An old girlfriend stole it and gave it to him, along with a big shiny kiss. She’s long gone –whatever happened to her? That was before he met Moira, that beautiful bitch.

Back in the day, Lew’s ma worked in a watch factory painting radium on dials. She licked her brush to keep it pointed. All the ladies did. They giggled about their radium smiles. She passed it on to Lew. Lew’s grin is radium grim. His band is a garage band. They play in his garage. In the dimness, Lew’s teeth light up his face. His band mates like the eeriness, named the band Nuclear Teeth. They worship the old stuff, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Question Mark and the Mysterions, Roky Erikson and the Thirteenth Floor Elevator, the first psychedelic band. In their honor Lew has learned to play the electric jug, though its hard on his radium lips and teeth.

Lew doesn’t go on genealogy sites. He knows who he is. Every time he looks in the mirror, every time he doesn’t brush his teeth, every time he sees an unguarded photo of himself onstage, in love with his Stratocaster and the sounds it makes, he knows who he is and where he came from.


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over eight hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.

Read Two-Headed Dog
Read Two-Headed Dog

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