Blackout Pt. 1

by Liam Scheff
9 of 15×15

New York Blackout

It’s the fourth day of the power outage in all of the Bronx, Queens, most of Long Island, half of Brooklyn, and all of Manhattan. New York City: 430 square miles, 5,200 buses, 250 lines,  34 subway routes, over 800 miles of track, 7,400 miles of sewer pipe, 16 bridges, 4 tunnels, and in daytime working hours in the city island alone, 5 million people. But it might as well be the whole world.

There are no cars the streets, but plenty of bicycles, emergency vehicles, and occasional cabs for officials. Some buses are running, too, but you’ve got to walk between stops and find the lines that are working. Given gas prices – around $8 a gallon in the city – and fuel shortages, they’re using as much diesel as they can for fire engines and generators.

Fleet of firetrucks are parked in and out of Times Square. There are another 10 on Broadway in Harlem, 20 on the East Side, 20 on the West Side, 10 in Columbus Circle, a few in the Park, 20 in the Lower East Side. Probably plenty down by the Wall Street and the Tower, but I haven’t been that far.

It’s like a red truck convention all over town, and the firemen are hanging out, talking to a lot of women, who are dressed in pastel colored shorts, tube tops, thin blouses and thin-strapped numbers suited for summer heat. Continue reading

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Neo-Tokyo is about to Explode

by Liam Scheff
8 of 15×15


Vivian flips through the channels. Basic cable. It was our decision to limit it. “The two way mirror,” she calls it. We’re not permitted to have nothing (which would be our choice). The building requires a video-in for security. But we can modify it, so, no movies, just news and the networks.

She flips her hair gently to get it out of her face. Straight with a little curve, brown with a little amber in summer. She’s still so pretty. Prettier than when I met her. How does that happen to women in their late 30s?

She’s churning through channels trying to find what Mrs. Ekelsen was talking about in the hallway. Tokyo on fire? She gets to CNN, and they’re on the war. Skips to Fox. Sees Hannity and keeps going. She goes with the network, and there it is. A protest – not a fire – but a firefight. Protesters throwing bottles and – there it is. A fire in downtown Tokyo. The helicopter shot shows it from above. A couple city blocks are burning. Continue reading

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The Critics

by Liam Scheff
7 of 15×15


“So, this kind of chunky Matt-Damon looking dude in a short-sleeve button-down white shirt with like, a Bible in his hand is walking with his butt-buddy, and I realize these are Morons, or whatever.”


“Right, and one of them goes to knock on Julie Assinski’s door, and I say, ‘Good luck with that one, Father! The only way she’s getting through the pearly gates is if you close her legs for five minutes!” Stevie laughs hysterically in his insane hyena laugh. This is how he likes to behave in public, and why I didn’t want to go to Target with him.

“They’re not priests, Steve-o. They’re, like… I dunno. Missionaries.”

“Oh, yeah, right…missionaries. For the…missionary position!”

“Stevie,” I’m gonna say. “Can you shut the fuck up in here? There are people around.” But before I can ask, he’s onto his favorite topic.

“Yo, Dougie, you see that Avengers movie?”

“Avengers 4? No.” Continue reading

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News Room

by Liam Scheff
6 of 15×15


“And why won’t you write it?”

“Because it’s not true!” She says it with unintended force from air that pummels its way out of her lungs and guts and makes the words throaty and heavy.

Joe paces the length of the long, open desk. Rob and Kelly are at their stations, six feet on either side, clicking away, like statues with motorized fingers. Joe cocks his head. She sees him winding up. He doesn’t surprise her.

“Because,” he savors the phrase, “it’s not ‘true.’” He lets the words ring. “Well, I guess we can — lemme go tell Natalie to shut down reception because we can all go home. We’re not running a paper, we’re running a fortune-tellers’ clinic.”

She says nothing. She’s learned that much. Just waits as he goes through his gyrations. His greatest hits: “Truth and appearances of truth, getting the story, pounding the pavement, making the calls, vetting your sources,” and the bayonet at the end of the rifle: “And what does your opinion have to do with truth?”

Andie angles her head slightly. “Okay Joe. That’s all fine. But it’s…”

He’s so wound up he doesn’t let her finish. He screams out, “Don’t say it: Not True.” Rob snorts a little, because the self-congratulatory delivery is funny, not because it’s right. Andie looks at him. He keeps typing. Andie’s turn, and she goes.

“Joe, there was a fucking nuclear meltdown in Arizona. A fucking nuclear meltdown, and I’m not reporting the NRC statements as ‘fact,’ not anymore. Not since –”

“Don’t say Fukushima. Don’t say it. That is JAPAN! Andie!” Continue reading

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The Infinite Om

by Liam Scheff
4 of 15×15


“Just walk up to her and say, ‘The guy over there.’ No, ‘The manager recommends…’ No. ‘Wants you to have this, compliments of the house.'”

“Deck, I’m alphabetizing.”

“Just do this one thing – this one thing for me.”

Ray exhales. He knows somewhere inside that he’s going to be part of this transaction, but he’s going to make Declan earn it for a change.

“Deck, why is the travel section arranged alphabetically?”

“What? How else should it be?” Continue reading

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by Liam Scheff
3 of 15×15


It’s too personal. I’m not going to talk about that.”

“What do you…you mean, you’re not going to talk about it with me? Or you’re not going to –”

“I’m –”

“Talk about it?”

“I’m…I’m going to. I’m just not going to talk about it today.”


“Sense…Sensitive. Too sensitive.”

“Too sensitive? You’re afraid I will judge you for it? Or, you’re afraid of the feeling?”

“The feeling. Overwhelming.”

“Okay. I understand.”

He sits in silence for a moment, then offers, “It’s about. When people. When they leave here. It’s…I can’t believe I’m asking this. But, where.” His mouth closes to a crooked slit, he presses his jaw forward, and barely whispers it, “Where do they go?” Continue reading

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Coffee – 15×15

by Liam Scheff
2 of 15×15


“Ohhh,” she says, pausing, taking it all in, holding the daiquiri just below her chin, “I missed this.”

He looks at her, at the daiquiri, at her smiling face. He’d made, oh…3,000 of them, he’d bet. Maybe 80 for her. Three years, 1,100 days, 80 daiquiris, 200 ‘redheads’ (carrots, beets, apple, ginger, maybe some lemon), and 400 cups of tea.

“You missed it, too,” she goads him. “You did.”

“I did?” he says brightly. He laughs. She laughs with him. “I did.” he answers in the affirmative. “No, I did. It’s.. I did! Shit. How many afternoons, how many nights did we close together?”

She trades a straw for a long spoon and works on the daiquiri. “‘All local, fresh, organic fruit,’ remember?”

“No, all.. you forget. All ‘fresh, local, organic – and in season.'”

“In season!” she says, “Always in season. How could it be any other way with Anne in charge?”

He sips his coffee. “Over a thousand.” Continue reading

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