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By Fred Blanc

Paddleton (Film, 2019) - Mark Duplass loves Raymond and Raymond loves him back and also helps kill Duplass’ character in an act of Romano-assisted suicide...6.76 out of 10.

Dogwalker (Marijuana Strain) - This sativa dominant hybrid is indeed appropriate for walking the dog, although you’ll probably want to wait to partake until the dog walk is over—unless you are up for visualizing coronavirus germs and ducking and dodging them in a paranoid (but pleasant) haze...7.81 out of 10.

Walking a Dog During a Pandemic (Life Event, 2020) - Something akin to a waking nightmare if you are even just a touch germaphobic—if you’re considering getting a dog during lockdown, this reviewer might advise waiting for robot dog technological advancements or maybe just get a house plant and stare at it so long that you’ve convinced yourself that the plant loves you back in a Paddleton-esque sense of meaningful but non-romantic love...0.19 out of 10.

The Afterlife (After-Life Event, TBD) - IDK, ask Duplass (this isn’t a spoiler—the movie Paddleton is about Mark Duplass’ character finding out he has terminal cancer and deciding to end his own life once the cancer becomes unbearable, via prescription suicide pills and the help of his neighbor/best friend/non-sexual life partner, played by Ray Romano, and it’s actually pretty good, even though it’s a movie nobody really asked for and I just read a review on Vulture that was shitting on Ray Romano the whole time and look—I’m not necessarily endorsing R.R. as an actor or as a person or anything but just because you hate his guts doesn’t mean he can’t actually be decent in one’s fine, pretty good even at times, and especially resonant if you’ve had to experience the loss of a close friend)...Score TBD.

Fred Blanc is a multimedia artist living on the Oregon Coast.

Portrait of Ray Romano by Fred Blanc.

By Jade Braden

So the first mistake I made was telling my boyfriend that a ghost lived in his kitchen, but the first mistake made was probably that he had moved into such an unassuming run-of-the-mill apartment complex that just so happened to have ghosts walking through it; yet the trouble didn’t start until I told him about the kitchen ghost (there were other ghosts before that, but either he didn’t believe it or didn’t mind them so much) because when I told him about the kitchen ghost we were incidentally in the middle of a Paranormal Survivor marathon (which he later confessed put him more on edge than I thought) so I casually mentioned that there’s a ghost who likes to sit on his sink and he said “don’t tell me that” but by then the veil had been cast back and we couldn’t exactly un-acknowledge that there’s an incorporeal roommate who, more likely than not, just monitors the steady leak in the kitchen sink and pays no mind to the cat, who I am actually more grateful for now since we can just blame any bumps-in-the-night or disorder on twelve pounds of grey fluff instead of a floating hunk of shadow who may or may not have moved my keys last Wednesday (yes, I choose to blame the cat), but all this is to say that the real problem was when the bedroom wall started bleeding, and of course we tried to blame the cat, and by blame the cat, I mean I hoisted him up onto the bedside table and tried to coax him to bat the wall to prove to myself that he had been on the table and had killed a bug, dragging it downward and leaving a perfect streak with a dried blood-bead at the bottom; however, this fantasy was dispelled when my boyfriend caught me trying to recreate the scene of the crime and suggested that it couldn’t have been the cat because the line was perfectly up-and-down (suggesting gravity rather than a cat’s paw as the moving force) and that there were no bug guts at the top of the streak which really ruled out bug-gore entirely and left us with a curious bleeding wall which I mocked as “a half-assery of spectership”, causing my boyfriend to go quiet and tell me “don’t say that, it might hear you” before going to bed and falling quickly asleep, leaving me (and the cat, I suppose) alone in the quiet apartment, waiting for a face to materialize out of the darkness, or a hand to grasp me when I got up to get water, or possibly—and this is the best case scenario—a shadow-thing to apparate out of the wall, turn (out of courtesy) when it sneezes, sneeze, and accidentally leave another perfect bloodstain on the wall before looking back at me—petrified in bed and clutching the blanket—to say “sorry about that; allergies, you know?”

Jade Braden is an author and artist based in southeast Ohio who once won an award for poetry, is now working toward a degree in fiction, and often writes about ghosts, gals, and God.

Photo by Jade Braden.

By Holly Hagman

The day after the hurricane–after salty bay water licked at my ankles, after Mother Earth’s tears drowned the town, her fists against the pavement in an argument with the moon, whose own fury gripped and yanked at the waves, the tides’ destruction ebbing and flowing in detrimental harmony, after the rushing and splashing outside the darkened windows, eerily audible in a galaxy of black dotted with spectral stars, after the empty shells of houses stood at attention, soldiers that survived the war, after I returned home, beaten by the scent of low tide, of decaying horseshoe crabs, of wet sand, of old fish and mildewing driftwood, after the salt burned my eyes, the air acidic and aggressive, after the silence was unsettling, the subdued whoosh of waves a distant whisper, after I noticed that the waterline was taller than me, after the parmesan cheese drifted behind the couch, the eggs floated into the dryer, the milk broke open in the bathtub, after I pushed open the swollen wooden door to my bedroom, after I knelt on damp carpet, moisture seeping through my pants, numbing my knees, after I clutched waterlogged copies of paperback books, their pages disintegrating like damp sand between my fingers, after the ink ran down the pages that remained, eyeliner met with salty tears, after their words escaped and floated away, a droplet of hope in a deep, endless ocean, after the sun shone high in the sky, a welcomed warming presence in the crisp October air, after the weeping and the screaming–was the only day loving the water felt like a mistake.

Holly Hagman is a teacher and writer from a small town in New Jersey who enjoys collecting coffee mugs, cuddling her cats, and defending the use of the Oxford comma.

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