Category Archives: Michael Solender

Jacks or Better by Michael J. Solender

The impish beauty smiled at Jason just so.

He’d seen that gaze from her many times, but tonight the look was confident — omniscient, he thought — that she would be his. He caressed her and guided her closely into his hands.

His buddies were eying him with puzzled looks. They couldn’t quite make out if he was confident or merely blinded. He’d had this look before and was never treated very well.

Her sister, equally stunning, appeared out of nowhere, and before he knew it, they conspired willingly to play.

When sister number three appeared in the very next moment, his greatest fantasy was unfolding before his very eyes.

In one daring move he went for broke.

Watching closely, his golf buddy Charley couldn’t help himself. He put down a wager that Jason wouldn’t have his way tonight.

“Trip queens,” Jason said as he laid down his hand.

“Boat,” Charley said softly, laying down threes over deuces, “Sorry.”

Jason tossed the three ladies into the muck.

“Bitches, all of ‘em.” He poured himself a drink and dealt the next hand.


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Hands by Michael Solender


We would like to thank Michael J. Solender for his picture Hands. Here is what Michael had to say about this great shot:

I took this photo outside of Mysore, India in September, 2010. I went around the back of a petrol station in search of the restroom and found these young men playing this game. I was fascinated by their hands. I don’t know the name of the game but they were quite involved and barely noticed me.

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The Moment It All Changed By Michael J. Solender

Her eyes darted furtively and her lower lip became a thin line of string, tucked under her nose. The signal, an unspoken password, told me all I needed to know.

We’d been discovered.

Secretly I wanted it all to come to light. The mess would be dealt with, feelings would be hurt. Possessions would be parsed, pain would ensue.

Then and only then, the haze would lift.

No more hang ups after two rings.

No more guessing if that woman whose eyes lingered upon our dinner laughter was Julia’s coworker I’d met at the last Christmas party.

No more stroking my daughter’s hair and wondering what she’d think of her Daddy when he didn’t live in the house any longer.

No more longing for no mores.

They would all be replaced.

Starting today. It all went in motion. Certainty replaced doubt.

Her eyes said it all.

I would have given anything to have seen mine at that very instant.

What did they tell her?


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Life is in the Right Always by Michael J. Solender

Ren hesitated then took the only seat on the train that remained. He hated facing backwards for the ride into town. He found no pleasure in reviewing where he’d been. He could catalogue prior success on the margin of the unread newspaper he clutched. The past, the one he’d abandon if he could, was simply a random series of border towns and unfulfilled expectations.

Arrow-wood station – Next stop is Arrow-wood station.

Ren’s only interest was in the promise of what lay ahead, even if it streaked by at forty miles per hour.

Was this it? Was this all that life had to offer him, a Walter Mitty existence sans the loving wife and a soft bed from which to dream upon? He was thirty for Christ-sakes, when was life gonna start for him and begin delivering?

East Boulevard – Next stop is East Boulevard

His teachers all thought he showed promise. That’s what they said. Even Miss Mars, the toughest teacher at Middleton, said his composition had heft and daring. She tried to get Ren to apply to the baccalaureate program but his mum wouldn’t hear of it.

Them programs are for poofs, she said. No son of mine is goin’ to no poof school. Get yourself an office job, that’s all you can handle.

Why did he listen to his mum? Why didn’t he find his own voice?

Stonewall station – Next stop is Stonewall station.


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Lunkers By Michael J. Solender

I never ate a lunker though I caught a bunch of them. Jimmy says they’re dumb fish and I laugh ‘cause I can’t imagine such a thing as a smart fish. Jimmy laughs too, but probably not for the same reason.

He always laughs when I laugh. I think he thinks it makes us better friends. Mom says to have him up for supper sometime, I don’t even need to ask her, just bring him. I don’t ever bring him to supper though.

We’re friends and all but we’re just me and him friends, we’re not the kind of friends that you bring to supper.

His pa cleans his lunkers. Then they get the triple dip. That’s what Jimmy calls it. First flour, then beaten eggs, then cornmeal. Jimmy says they go into bacon fat after that and he eats ‘em with collards or turnip greens.

He says his pa don’t talk too much since his ma died and I can’t help but think what it’s gonna be like for Jimmy when I go off to town school next year. He’s two years behind me and he’ll still be at Silver School.

While we’re walking home from the lake, Jimmy stops and asks me if I wanna have supper at his house tonight. He says his pa asked him to ask me.

I look at Jimmy for a long time and don’t say anything. He looks like he’s gonna cry and then I start laughing.

He starts laughing too.


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Tastes like Chicken by Michael J. Solender

Brains and eggs was enough to give anyone pause, yet that’s what she wanted.

“Are you sure Lena? We can go down to Dianna’s, they have great Huevos.” I sounded whiny and plaintive, even to me.

“Look, you said I could have anything I wanted for breakfast, and that’s what I want.” She pulled on her sweater though was having trouble getting her bony head through the narrow opening. A shock of jet black hair preceded the “thwok ” sound I imagined her head making as it popped through her too tight sweater.

“And you’re going to rustle this feast up for us, but I need to run over to Piggly Wiggly and pick up the brains, you’re sure they have them?” I envisioned standing at the meat counter asking some shit-for-brains clerk if they had calf’s brains.

I was starting to get nauseous; my tenuous connection to this girl only mildly enhanced by last night’s aerobics was fading fast.

“Vann, you’re pathetic,” she said, picking up her keys and making a beeline for the door. “It’s a delicacy and you clearly aren’t up for it. You know food habits say quite a bit about a person.”

My appetite returning, I started to get dressed and thought about going to Dianna’s. Before I left, I unfriended Lena from Facebook.

Food habits do indeed say a great deal about a person.


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Tex Mex By Michael J. Solender

His face contorted and began to fall into itself, like a soufflé that had spontaneously combusted, it got red and slightly bloated, then deflated to the point where his nose was barely noticeable from underneath his quivering lips. He sputtered then stuttered something incoherent and then simply told me to go straight to hell and stormed out of the room.

I doubted that I was the first person to remark upon the state of his equipment.

I didn’t care if it was a business arrangement. In order for me to maintain my business I must maintain my health. Given the pitiful condition of the aforementioned apparatus, I could not and would not accommodate client forty-seven and his rather pedestrian request that I “fellate him and then deposit the excretion in the baby food jar” he brought to capture the particular moment of exuberance.

Flank steak, onions, green peppers and tortillas. The 57th Street market would be open after client 48 and I’d been thinking about fajitas since Marcy and I had margaritas at Tejas earlier before work. Marcy slayed me with her stories of her nieces and the dress up party they held for her. Cotton candy colored bows in their hair and a mini-tea set, Marcy so loved being an auntie.

I wasn’t much the auntie type. As far as I knew, my brother wasn’t married. It might have been nice to be an auntie.

Two more clients, then I could eat. A girl has got to eat.


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Cool Dog By Michael J. Solender

Cool quiet dog.

Do that one you did before. Before the rain, before I ran. Before I ran and before you knew how much I needed you.

Slay me, slake me. Slather me with all of you but don’t say one word. Not one. Don’t tell me lies like you love me and shit I don’t want to here. Do it like the first time. Like you want. Not how you think I want. It’s cool. I’m OK with that, no matter what you’re thinking.

Don’t think.

Just be.

Just do.

Do that one, cool dog.

Cool quiet dog.

That’s right. That’s right.

You know you see it, you see how it is. I’m waiting. Shh, don’t talk, don’t talk at all. Let it go.



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Muddy Boots by Michael J. Solender

Always the left boot first. Ever since he was a kid.

Standing or sitting it didn’t matter. He didn’t know why, he didn’t think of himself as one bound by ritual, yet routine dominated all aspects of his life.

Thick, red mud fell in truncated furrows as he alternatively strengthened and relaxed his grip over the roughened steel toe. Perfectly rounded, the clay shards looked as if they were formed by a potter. Compact and resolute, they swept up easily onto the porch where they could bake in the remains of the retreating sun, soon to rise on uncounted Chinese who gave him as much thought as he gave them.

Three hundred thousand dollars seemed like a lot of money. He didn’t like to think in those terms. Money wouldn’t make his back ache or cake in his boots.

She said she was ready. Her sister would help. Their place in the city had a big garden and he could work it all he liked.

Did corporate farmers offer Chinamen cash for their farms? He wondered.

It was up to him, she said. They’d be close to Julie and the boys. Wasn’t that worth something?

The right boot was easier because his left foot was arthritic. Now with that boot off, blood flowing into his arch, the right boot surrendered the entire day’s tension.

He bent over and swept the clay towards the door with his hands. He wouldn’t have trouble sleeping tonight.

He never did.


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