Two Stories

by Zachary Loewenstein

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Big Bird

Big Bird felt especially clever after pocketing a plastic ashtray from the local tavern after last call on Tuesday night. The barmaid had noticed but felt sorry and embarrassed at his clumsy attempt at discretion. What did it matter anyway she thought. He usually tipped and never made a mess.

“Good night Suzy.” Big Bird chuckled as he left the bar.

While walking home from the tavern, Big Bird stepped into an alley to huff some glue and drink a small bottle that he had bought earlier at the gas station. It was vodka and it was on sale. The vodka was made in Missouri and truly tasted like poison.

It didn’t really matter at this point. His head instantly felt warm, even as the snow began to fall around him.

Big Bird was a bit dizzy and confused when he mistook Oscar in his trash can as a packed weed bowl and set him on fire.

After almost two months in the burn ward, Oscar died of infection. His last words were, “I want to be a garbage man.”

Big Bird is now wracked with guilt. His drinking problem and depression have gotten worse. He hasn't bathed or cleaned his tiny studio apartment in weeks. It smelled like Oscar’s charred flesh. Everything does now.

Standing next to the broken hotplate, he finishes another fifth of cheap Canadian whiskey and holds onto the edge of the sink for balance.

Big Bird kicks his way through a dozen empty aluminum cans as he stumbles across the room. He manages to sit up on his cum stained couch or ‘love seat’ as he used to call it.

“Man did I used to get laid.” He almost smiles and says to himself, “Good pussy too.”

In front of him is what was once his grandfather's coffee table. Now covered with old porno magazines, unopened mail and cigarette butts overflowing in a plastic ashtray.

Big Bird vaguely remembers some obligation to pay an electric bill or maybe sewage. It's hard to remember anything these days or care for that matter.

Big Bird closes one eye to focus and stares at his dark green acrylic bong, a quarter filled with putrid brown water and then his break-action shotgun which he had recently moved from under the bed.



St. Louis

Charles was driving a 1997 black Lexus sedan (with surprisingly few scratches) and arrived at the end of a cul-de-sac. He rolled down his window and spoke. “Yes. I would like some heroin. Powdered please if you have it, but tar will do.”

A man standing outside the car explained. “I’m very sorry sir. We are all out of heroin this evening.”

Charles was visibly surprised and disappointed.

“I’m afraid so sir,” said the man (with a tinge of embarrassment in his voice). “I regret to inform you that I can only offer crack. I’m afraid that our powdered cocaine has yet to arrive.”

After a brief and silent pause, the man added, “At no fault of my own.”

They looked at the sky for a moment.

Charles was not prepared for this at all. Drugs are not drugs, but he was busy and had to be on his way. “Well then. I will have three large crack rocks please.”

“Excellent. Here you are sir.” The man passed a small, zip-locking plastic bag containing three large rocks of crack. “I expect that we will be back on the nod by Friday,” he proclaimed reassuringly.

“Wonderful.” Charles briefly inspected the drugs and handed several folded banknotes to the man outside the car. “Thank you and a little something for yourself.”

The man graciously accepted the paper money and offered his response. “Thank you very much sir.”

“Of course,” Charles said. “Enjoy your evening.”

“You too sir,” said the man standing outside the 1997 black Lexus sedan.



Zachary H Loewenstein never meant for things to be like this. He was born in a barn but prefers caves. Zachary has lived and worked for many years in Lower Luxembourg after having received his Doctoral Degree in Anesthesiology from the University of Leiden in The Netherlands. Zachary illustriously retired from the Non-Arab Affairs Department of the Shin Bet as an officer and is a successful organic gardener. His favorite bird is Maglan. In Zachary's spare time, he likes to finance and provide logistical support for coups d'etat in Latin America because why the fuck not?