#thesideshow January 1st 2016 Pain in the Neck by Jolie Mahan
January 1, 2016
#thesideshow January 3rd 2016 Skin Litter by Robert Plath
January 3, 2016

#thesideshow January 2nd 2016 Skinny Mirror by Eric Silvera

I’m on the Six-train, sitting at the end of the bench, resting against metal bars. Across is another man, in a blue suit not dissimilar from mine, with a platinum band on his ring finger. I’m not into platinum; I’m going to be a gold-banded man. Classic. The classic look. I’m a classic guy. Came to this decision during dinner with Sarah and her gay co-worker, Drew. He was thinking about proposing to his rich, famous, writer boyfriend and he asked what I was considering for a band. At that point I wasn’t completely sure—it was only three weeks after I proposed, the reality of marriage hadn’t really set in—but I was thinking about gold. He was like, “Meee too. It’s just a classic look. You’re a classic guy, I’m glad you’re doing that. Platinum is blech.” At that moment I knew I was making the right decision. Gay fashion executives know these things.

The guy in the suit is holding a Whole Foods brown paper bag. There’s grease on the bottom, it’s folded at the top, but every now and then he opens it, sticks his hand in, and rummages. His left elbow is poking through the bars. Standing above him, resting her back against the door across from me is an early-twenty-something with long, straight, black hair. She’s slightly Slavic looking, the bridge of her nose rectangular and protruding, but still quite beautiful, looking like a young Famke Jansen. Her lipstick is a deep, deep red, blood red, envious red, red rocket red, and I imagine what the red of that lipstick would look like as a ring around my penis. Her turquoise shirt exposes her shoulders and top of chest, and tucks into a short, ribbed, black miniskirt. High heels and skinny ankles. She seems intoxicated with eyes slightly glazed, whispering the secret of sex. The train rattles and rolls, shakes and stirs, casually swaying her body, and her hips and butt cheek lightly bounce against blue suit guy’s elbow. At first he doesn’t seem to notice, but then he glances up at her to see who keeps bouncing on him. She looks down, eye contact, giving the knowing smirk of a gorilla. A smirk indicating she’s evolved from something primitive, but the beast is still within her. He leaves his elbow where it is. The train stops, she doesn’t get off. The train starts again and she continues to rub on his elbow, first sporadically. When their bodies touch a wave of satisfaction lights up his face, like a fully lit menorah on the eighth day of Chanukah. Gradually she begins to bounce off him less often, instead lingering, and eventually just rests her butt cheek on his elbow. He doesn’t move it and I wonder what this means for him. He doesn’t know her and this isn’t cheating, but it seems like a strangely intimate moment and as a married man he should move his arm. He’s not going to tell his wife about it, I’m sure of that. He’s going to jerk off when he gets home, I’m sure of that too. Does he think that this is leading somewhere? Is he fantasizing about what this can become? Why is she leaning on him? Is this what I’ll do when I’m married? Find any excuse to be touched by another woman, even on my elbow, the least sensuous part of a body, just so that I can know what it’s like to feel someone else again? Cop a feel with my elbow? Just rub that pointy nub against a nice ass. I’d never tell Sarah or maybe I would; I’m honest. For the most part. The train stops at 77th and she gets out. The back of her thighs glisten with summer sweat and her ass is a plump curve that must have felt meaty against this guy’s elbow. You wonder if she’s wearing panties. Panties. Sarah hates that word. Do all women hate that word? What’s wrong with it? Blue suit-guy has a blank expression and grips his Whole Foods bag tighter. Beneath that placid stare though I can see the color come back into his face, as the blood unswells from the tip of his cock and begins to circulate back through his body.


Eric Silvera’s writing has appeared in several publications, including Nerve, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Underground Voices, HYPERtext Magazine, and Shelf Life Magazine, won Slice Magazine’s “Bridging the Gap” prize, was shortlisted for Matrix Magazine’s 2010 Lit POP award, and was featured on The Other Stories podcast. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York.