CALIXIAN // The Hangry Woman

The bell tinkles so hesitantly that at first I pay it no attention. But then it tinkles again. And again. So I put the magic tweezers down in my dream, and shake my head awake. I bet I know who this is.

“Do you always visit people’s homes at the butt crack of dawn… whatsyaface?”

He mumbles something that’s supposed to be a name. I’ve had no complaints in regards to my hearing but the only thing I can catch is Zra. That can’t be right. I say the first silly word that comes to mind in the full conviction that this dolt will repeat his name and I’ll get it right the second time.

“Fizra?”

Why is he gaping at me like a fish that’s dropped its keys outside of its water tank? That was a good guess! I scratch under my arm as he mutters something and shuffles in. Okay, what’s this now? The suitcases. Are they fucking big enough? Are they even real? When he opens them up, can I expect a seventy piece orchestra to step out and entertain the neighbours? Jesus.

“Where the hell are you going to put all of that?” I point up the hall. “I don’t want any of your shit cluttering up the place, you hear?”

He mumbles again. Yup. I’m ready to suffocate the guy, good and proper. Or give him a royal kicking. At least I’ve understood him this time. Something about leaving his precious clutter outside. Such a boob.

“No, you boob, just put it in your room.” Oops. It appears I said boob out loud. Well, I don’t care. May as well complete the thought now that it’s dangling between us like an unsightly knob. “I don’t need to be tripping over your junk is all.”

Puffing and panting, he drags the suitcases along the hall. I decide not to waste time. I’ll quickly show him the rest of the flat on our way to his room. Then I can get back to some sweet, sweet shut-eye.

“Toilet.”

He glances in its general direction. Fuck that. I’m going to make a thing of this. Make him really take notice.

“I hope you’re a seat lifter when you’re doing a number one, otherwise I won’t be held responsible for what happens next.”

I study his face carefully. I want to see how he’ll react. He doesn’t. He seems to be going out of his way to remain scrupulously silent. Whatever. The tour shall continue.

“Kitchen.”

What I really want to say is: “Fucking kitchen.” I’m a tad pissed off. But I also have no desire to burn through my quota of fucks so soon in our dealings. It’s best to space these things out, so I keep my fucks up my sleeve.

Suddenly he says (suspiciously loud and clear), “Fascinating.” What? Is that… sarcasm? I don’t believe my ears! Well, if that’s how this smug little goofball is going to play it… then hell, I’m going to wrangle me a chance to have something better than mouldy pizza for breakfast. One question preceded by a slightly menacing pause should do the trick.

The thought of finally getting a decent meal cheers me right up by the way, and my stomach starts to growl in anticipation. Trying to stifle this treacherous sound, I open my mouth and ask Zra… Fizra… whatever his name is… if he can cook. All my fingers are mentally crossed.

“Well, I’m not exactly Heston…”

The rest morphs into a mess of blah blah blahs, the essential point being that he can cook… after a fashion. Good enough for me. As long as I damn well don’t have to do it. I conduct him to his room in a timely manner.

Yep, my plan has gone over easy… like an egg! The quicker he drops his fucking suitcases, the quicker he can cook me breakfast.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

CALIXIAN // Nice Girl Without Bad Habits

My budget was tighter than a goldfish’s anal sphincter, and there was no way I could make it stretch any farther. I’d slashed my expenses to the barest minimum. It was ridiculous! And no matter how I looked at it, I still wouldn’t be able to afford the flat. There were two options to make the rent they were asking for, and I hated both. After considering the pros and cons, I made a very difficult decision.

‘Nice girl without bad habits looking for flatmate. Phone 409 828 2690 during social hours only.’

I sighed like I was about to walk the plank. I didn’t want to do this, but needs must as the devil drives. I approached the bulletin board and stabbed the leaflet into place with a hairpin I’d found somewhere. I couldn’t even afford a thumbtack. That’s how skint I was.

“Hi, Calix!”

I nearly jumped out of my skin. Seriously, you wouldn’t have needed to take an x-ray.

It was the guy from this morning. The café guy. The one who allegedly worked at the magazine with me. He was stood there with a shy smile, and a posture that reeked of unnecessary subservience. Naturally, I still couldn’t recall his name. Had he given me his name? I couldn’t even remember that.

Fuck this. I was going to be rude. “Hey, jack, are you following me?”

He immediately adopted a defensive pose. “Oh my god! No!” he squeaked. “I have to come this way to get back to the office!”

“You’re some kind of weird sex pervert, aren’t you? Admit it!”

“NO no no no no! I’m not! I promise!”

He was waving his arms like a cartoon character. Even sweating bullets like one. It was almost comical, but I was bored.

“I don’t have time for this bullshit.”

I turned away, and left him gawping there at the bulletin board. It was time to get back to the office. From the corner of my eye, I noticed him typing on his phone. It looked for all the world like he was silently mouthing words as he did so. Who was this guy?!

Never mind that, Calix. Just keep walking and don’t look back.

Moments later when I had turned the corner, my phone rang. An unfamiliar number popped up on the screen. I sighed and accepted the call.

“Hullo.”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

CALIXIAN // Twenty Minute Egg

All Calix wanted was something to eat.

Make no mistake. She wasn’t a foodie. Cookery shows weren’t her thing. She just needed fuel, something to get her through the rest of the afternoon.

Calix’s stomach was grumbling at her like a bastard. All she needed was silence while she filled it. She had an important interview at three. Frigging gargantuan carrot! What the hell was she supposed to ask the farmer about that? It wasn’t exactly the world’s most scintillating topic. And while there was no plan for the conversation, she didn’t want to appear an ignorant fool because she didn’t know if a carrot was a fruit or vegetable. Screw that!

Calix strode into the small, cosy café, took the first bunch of stuff that came to hand, then chucked some money down on the counter. “Keep the change,” she muttered in the waiter’s general direction, and moved on. She made her way to an empty table in the far corner, where it was sure to be quiet. No one could disturb her work there. And if they did, she’d put a fist through their gormless smile. Hey, that was just how she rolled.

She opened her shabby, second-hand laptop, and started to google. It was quite a sight, Calix throwing bits of muffin, pickle and beef jerky into her mouth. She really didn’t care what it was as long as her stomach shut up at some point. This carrot farmer interview thing was playing on her mind, so she had to get on top of it right away.

Calix was washing down a salmon sandwich swilled with lukewarm cappuccino when somebody guffawed loudly. It sounded like it was coming from just behind her. Irritated, she hunched over the keyboard a little more, as though this would block out that unwelcome noise completely.

“Fuck. That’s put me off me lunch.”

More guffawing. And it wasn’t stopping this time. At least not immediately. Calix sat there, her body tense, her hands now slamming down on the keyboard with naked aggression. Fuck these fools! Couldn’t she have some peace?

“Hey, you!” she said as politely as humanly possible. “Shut up, huh? I’m trying to work here.”

“I’m surprised that shitbox of yours works at all, luv.”

“At least it doesn’t have shit for brains,” growled Calix. “Moron.”

She still hadn’t turned around, and she wasn’t going to. These turd heads were beneath her, so why would she so much as look at them? She didn’t need to fill her head with their idiot faces.

There was a noise, a scraping noise. Perhaps a chair being pushed across the vinyl floor. Then someone’s shadow was suddenly hanging over her. “Too cocky by half, aren’cha luv?”

Calix snorted derisively. “Make like a tree, jack.”

A hand fell heavily onto her shoulder—and this was when Calix saw red. Her reflexes were quicker than her mind. There was a satisfying crunch followed by a loud, pitiful howl. It almost sounded like a dog had been kicked, only it wasn’t that.

“You broke my finger, you bitch!”

Calix—still refusing to look in the bully’s direction—flexed her hand. “Aw, don’t cry to me, baby,” she smirked. “It’s only dislocated. Now, if you don’t want to end up another Simpson, then get out.”

“A… another Simpson?”

“Four fingers or five? Your choice.”

She heard more scrapings followed by hurried footsteps. It seemed everyone in the bully’s group was making their exit.

“And we won’t mention the colour,” she called out after them. “You’re already yellow enough!”

The other patrons looked on, as did the wait staff. All seemed a little shell shocked, but Calix didn’t care. She continued to torment the poor laptop with aggressive key jabs and eye rolls.

Something rustled behind her back.

“So, you’ve chosen Simpson. Not a wise move, is it?” Calix spun on her seat, ready to pound the daylights out of whomever was there.

Oh.

It was some weird looking guy with wild hair, spindly limbs and a pot belly, and it appeared he was about to faint. Calix looked him up and down. Frankly, she hadn’t expected this. He didn’t really look like a bully, didn’t fit the profile, so there had to be one of two options here: Either he was the bully and his gang’s crime boss (such dweebs usually cowered in the shadows, commanding a gang of impressionable thugs from a position of relative safety), or he was their stooge. Calix made up her mind. He was their stooge.

“Thank you.”

Oh god. She could sense another conversation heading in her general direction. How exhausting. Did she really have to do this right now? Why couldn’t people just leave her alone? Calix wrinkled her nose in supreme annoyance.

“What did you say?” she bit out. She didn’t even try to hide how annoyed she was.

The guy cleared his throat and repeated, a bit louder this time: “Thank you, Calix.”

Calix narrowed her eyes. “How do you know my name?”

He seemed a little taken aback. “Ezra Darwin? I’m the ‘Hooves, Horns & Rhododendrons Monthly Digest’ illustrator.”

She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. Wouldn’t she have remembered this?

“We work together? I’m the dude you usually push near the coffee machine with the words, ‘Ladies ahead!’.”

Calix cocked an eyebrow at him. That didn’t even sound like something she’d say. Sure, she could be a little pushy from time to time, but what of it? And anyway, the comment didn’t make sense.

“You also like to say, ‘Who drew this crappy cover for the last issue?'”

Calix grinned to herself. Oh yes, she remembered saying that. She studied the guy’s face again. Nope. The guy still didn’t ring a bell.

“Sorry, jack. I don’t know you.” She turned back to her laptop. “Unless you’re a world-class carrot academic, then this conversation’s over.”

Calix resumed her work as Darwin looked on. He hovered for a moment, then sighed and walked away. They say not to meet your heroes. He supposed that this must be one of those cases.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

GUEST POST // Interlude by Gordon Flanders

I didn’t smoke weed, and I didn’t drink, but under the fluorescent lights of Canal Street Station I feel like a thing that slithers. Somehow my fingernails got dirty. I was walking with the girl who I was formerly obsessed with, and I was telling her what I thought was a very interesting story. What I know was an interesting story, in fact, from her gasps every time we hit a pivotal point. And then, in the middle, we ran into some old friends of hers she hadn’t seen in a while. She’s from here and she’s popular, so this happens a lot. There were eight of them. Normally I would just smile and shake everyone’s hand and all that, but I just couldn’t give a fuck about these people and how they knew each other and anything like that, so I stood off to the side and waited for her to ask for her bag so she could go with them. I enjoyed the breeze and I checked my phone. Finally she called me over and her friends were like wtf why are you just standing over there! Meanwhile she had just asked minutes ago why I never do what I want. So that was the thing I wanted, to not talk to these people. I was really fine with her leaving with them, very convenient escape for me, but I did not want to meet them all for no reason. But I did anyway because what kind of asshole would I have to be to hand her her bag and say goodbye and nothing else. So I shook hands with every single one of them. There were people she didn’t even know and I shook hands with them, too. One guy said now repeat our names back to us. I said, I value you guys as people but I don’t have a memory like that. Everyone thought that was funny. You had to be there. So now I look awesome. From weirdo to awesome in sixty seconds. After five excruciating minutes where everyone tried to pretend that we could have an inclusive conversation, they ask what’s up next. I hand my friend her bag and say goodbye, shaking hands with enthusiasm and warmth and real kindness in my eyes. Eight people I will never see again, now they all have a piece of my soul. The train just won’t seem to arrive.

by GORDON FLANDERS
© All rights reserved 2017