“Conduit Was Two Couples Blathering” by Tyler Dempsey


Person 1

“Judgements of “others,” of our minds when we consider what one would think? Animals do it—our dog reddens when she slipped and you saw it. The Network-of-Feeling-Looked-At death-gripped Earth’s nut sack. It’s evolution’s engine.”


Person 2

“Two winters Marla and I watched a house in Felton. Like you’d been left a film producer’s in-law suite; when Marla moved furniture from storage essentially that’s what it was. I’d frequent a concrete square out back—trying not to blow bong-sized smoke-clouds into the home’s ventilation system. Smile at larger-than-life-Redwoods, California sun suspended in shafts. Wonder aloud about circumstances bringing me here. So foreign to my dirt-farmer origins. My murmurings aimed at the lemon balm growing at concrete’s edge, little friends, who over two winters spilled over concrete and explored nether-regions of three-foot air. Attacked nostrils if you looked toward the back door. The only difference, from lemon balm one-foot away, is I talked to it. Payed attention. Asked questions. Stupid things you do with people, because I was a kid who was lonely lost and profoundly stoned. Maybe, the lemon balm asked these questions: “Am I lovable?” “What do I have to do?”


Person 3:

“The best way to communicate to the world and people on it I loved them the tiny time I was here.”


Person 4:

“. . . transcribed “Love Languages,” when we left Yosemite, or maybe driving into Yosemite—we saw the river otter?”


Person 1:

“Inadequate communicating you occupy the forefront of my heart. The throne. Give life meaning. (Among other things.)”


Person 3:

“Writing’s another language. More room to roll around by.”


Person 4: 

“Rabbit-hole—words, and phrases, in ever-shrinking “Common English” neglecting communication, intelligent humans facing shear inadequacy because our whale of emotion isn’t capturable with a butterfly net of language we’re . . .”


Person 3.

“Tendency to get watered-down. Lazied away.”


Person 2:

“Existing in this elevated room with you. We hover.”


Tyler Dempsey got a form rejection as a “tortilla” from Taco Bell. He ate it and his stories fell out. If you’d like the stories as a book, and possess that magic called “making books,” contact him @tylercdempsey. 

“This Certain Angle of Light” by Tyler Dempsey


You stood
angle of light.

Four hundred feet
I choked uncontrollably
fear I’d missed
the personality

Fault or fracture
us longing

To be a ray of light

Once seen
a shape recognized.

Tyler Dempsey won the 2nd Annual Tulsa Voice/Nimrod International Journal Flash Fiction Competition. Other flash received honorable mention in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions, and appeared in SOFT CARTEL, X-Ray Literary Magazine, and Gone Lawn, amongst others. He’s constantly learning to be Tyler Dempsey, with slight variations. Find him @tylercdempsey or http://tylerdempseywriting.com.

“Generations: Charades/Coitus” by Tyler Dempsey



Quotes litter the walls. One reading: Cumming is just as important as leaving.


“You’re an artist?” Tim asks Mia.


“My son,” reaches for her tote. He ogles.




“They’re amazing!”


“He’s eighteen.”


Before leaving, she buys her first painting.



At the weekly meeting, Saintly calls Tim’s painting, Modern Centurealism, whatever the hell that is. Paul shows, “The Wave.” Product of weeks in Paria Canyon. Sunburned rock. Emerald gold. Saintly reads a three-lined poem, “Untitled.” Jeff delivers his goods.


She stops him at the door. Canvases dangle. “Glad you came.”


His 18-year-old heart twirls.



Back home, drunk. Crazy about me! (When we marry, she’ll keep her last name as a hyphen.) He snores in the Tommy Bahama chair.



Steaming breakfast. He studies the painting. Mia hums, “Sympathy for the Devil.”  






Eyes narrow, “What’s going on?” He looks at his not-from-box breakfast, to the wall, back.


“I felt like something different. Okay?”


“Okay.” Again he glances at the painting.


“I’m collecting. First of many.”


“Shit smeared across canvas.”


“Not surface-level, like your stuff. Doesn’t mean I don’t like it. Or it isn’t good.” She licks her lips.


He storms off.


She settles. Quiet table. Quiet house. Tim would eat this dress.



“This meeting’s wild,” claims Tim. “Artists from everywhere. Catering, booze.”


Jeff irons several garments. Any attention from his nose.



Her dress a shrink-wrapped costume, Mia grabs two hunks of chocolate, a fistfull of pistachios—a crumble, or three, of blue cheese—holding wine away she wades into the crowd.


Tim quiets the audience. Provides an introduction. Explaining artists begin with a speech or without a word. Jeff commits to talking. “My first real work,” the mic feedbacks. “An Artist’s Voice.”


Tim quips, “Ideas without direction.” Comparing it to last week’s piece.



They collide near the bathroom.


“I’m sorry for being critical. Criticism’s gold, though.” He draws closer, “I wasn’t, hard on him?”


“That’s art.”


You’re art.” He tucks strands behind an ear. They kiss. Fingers travel. He covers her mouth. Mia loosens his belt.


“My room?”  





Here you are.” The balcony. “Your piece is amazing, you painted it.”


He offers the bottle. “I guess.”


“You don’t get it.”


The cigarette-alcohol taste resembles metal. “Thanks. You want to—talk?”


“I guess.”



Tim heaves. Bedsheets strangle. “Can’t believe we did that,” she has a Bonnie-and-Clyde look.


“If you deserve it. Good things keep singing.”


Cheek on his bicep, “You’re good. You’re art’s good.” He cringes. Her finger draws sweat-circles around his bellybutton.


“Tonight’s collectors own many of my works,” he lights a cigarette, a mushroom-cloud explores the ceiling.


“I’d love a Tim Young gallery. You’ll be amazing one day.”


He doesn’t understand. “I will.”



She’s doing yoga. “Want to sit by me?” he pats the blanket.


“That’s alright.”


“Saintly. I like you.” He said it.


“Aww. I like you too.” Jeff springs for a kiss. (He’s been drinking.)


Shirt’s off. He fights his anvil of clothing. Makes for her belt, stopping to see what he’s doing. She’s annoyed. He’s horrified to think why. A mental-play unfolds: back in the crowded room. Naked, “The first flaccid thing ever done.” In a bigger spotlightTim, “Decent idea. No execution!”


The silence warps glass. She flutters her eyes. “I’m Saintly. Who are you?”




“What’s this?” Head snaps sideways.  




“Why are you here?”


“Heard there were artists. Brought paintings. Smoke and ideas. I give up.”


“I can’t stand it.” Her fingers walk his forearm. “Even the name’s dumb. Art.”


“What do you do?”


“Wait tables.”


“You can’t . . .”


And raise kids.”


“Single mom?”


“You know it.”




They laugh.




“For what?”




“You’re welcome. Not sure what I did.”  


“I feel like I know you.”


“They teach guys that?”


“I’ll get along, little by little.”


If you get a table.”


“Lots of guys?”


“Not tons. Any I want . . .”


“Any you like?”


“Oh, yeah.”






“What about this?”  


“We just met.”


Tyler Dempsey won The Tulsa Voice/ Nimrod International Journal 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Contest and has been a finalist in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions. This is one of many pieces in, “Time as a Sort of Enemy,” Tyler’s flash collection he’s shopping around. His work appears or is forthcoming in (amongst others) Soft Cartel Magazine, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Gone Lawn. Find him on Twitter @tylercdempsey or: http://tylerdempseywriting.com