Clay Head

Mike GristFeatured Story, Stories, Surreal, Writing 2 Comments

by Michael John Grist There’s a giant head in my living room. It’s made of grey clay and it sings through the night. It sings songs about America. Sometimes boogie-woogie or the Big Bopper. It sings Buddy Holly. It sings about the plane that crashed and sometimes the song about the crash. It sings about whiskey and rye. I don’t know why the head sings. I don’t know why the head is in my room, or why I let it stay. The head doesn’t wake me up when it sings. It sings so low and so slow and so deep …


Mike GristStories, Surreal 6 Comments

gutterman 1601by Michael John Grist.
I found him one mad marsh-walking night. I was out in the bogs, I don’t know why, crossing wet rivers and wading through peat mulberry patches, dashings of filth worming their way into the cuffs of my suit turn-ups, smidgeons of muck smudging up and under my fingernails.


Mike GristStories, Surreal 3 Comments

by Michael John Grist I cut open his brain because he needed help. “Help me,” he’d whispered, banging at my fly screen in the middle of the night, his wet shirtsleeves slapping against the cracked glass of my back porch slide door. “I need help.” So I’d let him in. Set him down. Listened to him talk. “There’s a waterfall,” he’d said, lying there in the dark kitchen slumped across my table. “I see it when I dream. And the dark creatures. There are dark creatures in the waterfall. Slithering in the cold, behind the falls.” “Oh?” I’d said, keeping …

The Sphinx

Mike GristStories, Surreal 2 Comments

by Michael John Grist The Sphinx asked me its questions. I ignored the Sphinx. It had the head of a lion, and the body of a man and woman combined. “Where are you from?” it asked. “Why are you here?” The Sphinx touched me with its hips.  It edged closer to me. “Stroke my hair,” it said. “Then you may pass.” “I don’t want to pass,” I said. “All want to pass. Just touch my cheeks. Stroke my back.” “I don’t want to. I’m fine here.” “It’s the desert.” “It’s where I’m meant to be.” “Kiss my eyelids. Stroke the …

Pendolino Lane

Mike GristStories, Surreal 1 Comment

by Michael John Grist Despite Cray Upson’s best efforts, Milo Pendolino refused to sell him a home on Moresca hill. He always claimed the homes were already full, but Cray knew better, so he plotted out a plan. He knew Milo owed the bank thousands for his construction costs as well as the mortgage on the land itself. Plus he had no outside income. He only had the homes he’d built, way up there on Pendolino Lane with the simple gravel track running up the side of the hill, and they never sold. Pendolino’s follies, they called them down in …

The Squinching of Ricky Shay

Mike GristStories, Surreal 4 Comments

When the orders came down that all the gold was to be digested by the end of the day, Efren couldn’t believe his ears, despite their unusual and rather floppy size. “All the gold?” he asked his co-consumer Ricky Shay, the fattest stupidest pig in the sty. “I mean, that’s some heavy stuff right there.” Ricky Shay ignored him, mostly. Ricky Shay was stupid, and didn’t understand English. He could grunt, and he could eat gold, and when it bust out through his system, it was, yes, it was thoroughly what it should be. But he didn’t speak a lick …

Brand New Day

Mike GristStories, Surreal 3 Comments

TODAY She wakes up slow, opens her dull eyes expecting the new day to glow in, but no. It’s still night. She blinks, yawns into her pillow, stretches beneath the duvet. It’s the pig bedspread, the one her mother made. Her dozy palms bobble over the linen pigs stitched onto the cotton, sleep-weakened fingers catching in the felt swirls of their curly pink tails. She pulls one out gently, lets it tug back into place, and smiles. In the distance, muted by the thick velvet curtains swaddling her second floor window, there’s the sound of drunken students calling out on …

Two Hearts

Mike GristStories, Surreal 6 Comments

He held the FridgePak plastic bag close up to his eyes, but he couldn’t see anything special. He saw no spark of life, no memory of love, nor any trace of meaning. He just saw the pulp of a heart. Liquidized. Red and purple, twisted through with fragments of yellow fat, white sinew, the strings and cords that held the organ together. Floating in the melted mushy blur. He squeezed the bag. He felt the texture of ground meat, some gristly chunks remaining. He felt the fluid rush of blood, filling the bag’s vacuum, the indentations of his fingers, his …

Isidro’s Furnace

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Isidro’s furnace demanded FBI agents, but he only fed it limestone and coke, sometimes Rice Crispies if it was good. In return, it fed his insanity. Neither got exactly what they wanted, but it was a happy enough arrangement for the both of them. “FBI agents!” it would roar down the phone at Isidro, who often held a towel to his other ear to keep the noise in. “Out there, in the lawn, take your blunderbuss to the cheeky lot of them!” Isidro would look out at the lawn, see only squirrels. “They look more like squirrels,” he would say, …

On the Raft

Mike GristStories, Surreal 6 Comments

I know you remember this. I woke up on the raft. I’d been sick. I’d been sick for weeks. Everything before was a delirious nightmare. The murders. The container. You. It was all merged into one with her singing lullabies over the top. Her spoon-feeding me. Her weeping at night and stroking my face and telling me everything was going to be alright. I felt better. I felt clearer. For the first time I felt I could control my body, my mind. The fog was lifted. And I realized I was starving. My stomach thrummed with pain. I realized I …