Channie Greenberg, Walnut Street
Publisher: Bards & Sages Publishing
Date: June 13, 2019
Length: 158 pages
Bards and Sages Publishing is pleased to bring readers Walnut Street, our seventh short story collection by KJ Hannah Greenberg. Greenberg’s flair for the peculiar and eclectic shines through in this collection of over fifty flash and short fiction works featuring anthropomorphic starship pilots, angsty authors, strange neighbors, and more.
Art is the business of writers. Yet, art needs to be everyone’s business, except for enemies of gelatinous wildebeests. See, I invite gelatinous wildebeests for sleepovers with my beloved, imaginary hedgehogs. Even when those spacelings, in cahoots with my dear furze pigs, operate to trip me up, I ordinarily resist sending in my older son’s make-believe Komodo dragons to “calm” matters.
The above sort of folly aside, I contend that life’s best lived when filled with blue and white flashes of stellar ballets, and with earthly sources of bort, i.e. of diamond dust. After all, one can never revel in too many: bowls of chocolate ice cream, brilliant sunsets, or operatic passerines. “Sparkly,” of course, remains an end unto itself. We’ve a rudimentary need and lots of auxiliary wants for good feels.
Since most of us aren’t conversant with unicorns, we make do with culling happiness from: studying leaves, buds, stems, and flowers, hugging puppies, kittens, and select red-crested tree rats, visiting the elderly, and cooking meals for parents with new babies. Our friendships with sea-born creatures, as well as our early morning cups of coffee, nonetheless, continue to be meaningful; we don’t have to learn how to dialogue with mythical land creatures to make the most of our days and nights.
Accordingly, Walnut Street, a collection of short and flash fiction, blows farts in the face of dogma, and clicks its heels next to two and four-footed vagrants. In the course of this book’s peregrination, audiences can test drive all manner of adventure. Some of the stories contained herein employ ample magical realism, reference rainbow wallabies, or groove on mundane social imagination. Others tales provide seats at beheadings, favor songs sung in the rain, or indulge in the oft overlooked joy concomitant to cleaning toilets. All of these narratives, anyway, invite readers to take two baby steps back and one giant step forward from the here and now. Sample:
The Greater Social Consequences of Perimenopausal Breakouts
Originally podcast by Manawaker Studio’s Flash Fiction Podcast. Apr. 2018.
It’s common knowledge that dragon pilots have to be women whose vasomotor symptoms have become stagnate, that is, who are permanently past menstruation. We’ve had disastrous results in trying to use men with hypogonadism, little girls not yet at menarche, and young boys less than fully testosteronely-endowed. Hormonal stability is essential to our air force; any squeezing out of gland-influenced exudates sends our scaly beasts into an ungovernable rage. HRT doesn’t sufficiently balance folks possessed of both X and Y chromosomes and doesn’t sufficiently wipe out the scent of middle-aged gals who are still intermittently bleeding and sloughing uterine materials. Plus, wyrms can detect the onset of puberty faster than can any would-be preadolescent rider. So, we’re forced to rely on our crones.
Accordingly, young Bette Cataich ought never to have approached the Department of Homeland Security’s stable and stolen a steed. Her choice was stupid and dangerous. Not only was she killed and not only did she endanger the lives of the municipal corral’s employees, but, when she landed at Dogwood General Hospital, she also snuffed out many emergency room workers. Even school child knows that our giant reptiles suffer no random person’s weigh upon their backs. Our flyers, originally bred from toxic, pink iguanas, during an era when federal funding facilitated our transformation of simple animals into folk lore-based monsters, are tetchier than Cape buffalos.
Yes, there’s a minority opinion that Cataich was noble in her attempt to bring her son to a healing center, that his condition was life-threatening, and that there is no speedier form of transport than our reclaimed cousins of basilisks. In spite of those purported facts, most people espouse, at least in polite company, that Cataich should have relied on a rocket taxi or on technologies that can lock ruined bodies into stasis. Instead, she foolishly hazarded that eating a handful of anabolic steroids would quiet her progesterone enough to enable her to safely tack up a dragon. Lay persons ought, at no time, to attempt to slip a martingale on a dodgy quadruped. Maybe, one in ten thousand amateurs can secure a saddle on a flight-worthy fiend, but the risks of trying to prepare a dragon for flight exceed the payoff.
Remember, our yesteryear officials had to lethally subdue our restored kishis and narasimhas and to methodically raze the labs in which those malformed critters were fashioned. Admittedly, those same leaders resisted annihilating other resurrected cryptids, including: cactus cats, bunyips, veos, skvaders, zaratans, and “wyverns,” and, admittedly, they eventually embraced the compromise of locking up those pardoned, frightening creatures. It happened that as soon as certain conglomerates offered to underwrite the building of stockades for our manufactured horrors, public officials violently silenced all nay-sayers.
Those events notwithstanding, our kirtle-wearing cavalrywomen, all past folliculogenesis, know that as likely as not, if an unqualified person should manage to bridle a saurian, he or she should pay less attention to that dreadful force’s crested head and toothed maw than to its enormous claws and toxic secretions. Members of our highly trained troop know, too, to stay seated on their high-spirited rides because our megas do stumble, slip, stop, and rear.
In contrast, in Cataich’s case, some of the staff at Dogwood General’s ER Department perished because she didn’t know to hold the reins in an open position when landing the dragon among ambulances. That her skull was crushed and her ribs and pelvis broken surprised no one. That she hadn’t thought through the consequences of settling a blinker-free terror among strobing emergency vehicles was tragic; many doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other care providers died from punctured organs or internal bleeding because of her lack of farsightedness. It was not Bette being thrown from her charger that had dispatched those heroes to the world beyond, but the ensuing stampede of personnel, patients, and visitors.
Although the Cataich Catastrophe headlined in both convergent and mass media for several days, it’s doubtful that our government will stop raising soaring behemoths. Those overgrown, four-legged serpents remain immeasurably valuable to our military and, more recently, to our entertainment industry as those animals appeal to bosses’ attraction to organisms capable of decapitating, mauling, and poisoning. Granted, contemporary dragons don’t breathe fire, but they do breed true to their ancestry in that they have venom glands and deadly fangs. Unlike their reptilian forebears, however, modern mounts’ seepages are neither weak nor harmless. Plus, their mouths can hinge open wide enough to swallow humans.
More problematic is that the Cataich Incident establishes grounds for our heads of state to release our giant ichneumons, which, in turn, won’t cease their destructive frenzy after they’ve wiped out most of our carefully husbanded purple, green, gold, and red squamates. Those furry savages will likely spread kala-azar, too. Consequently, we’ll next have to rout our colossal mongooses with the faulty bullhooks and electric prods that we use on our ratatoskrs, turuls, sleipnirs, domesticated nekomatas, and kelpies. It’s going to rain viscera.
We’re furthermore going to have to find and fund new aviators whose fecundity has ended. Unfortunately, at present, fewer and fewer matrons seem vulnerable to blackmail or to bribes. These days, women in their sixth decade appear increasingly interested in: tourism, contact sports, sex, and all other activities that were difficult for them to completely enjoy when bleeding. Basically, for the same reasons why we have to rely on mature women to control our winged lorries, those elders are disinterested in serving. Thus, until more grandmas dry up, we’ll have to cull our ichneumons with drones and, to prevent further accidents, to forcibly confine women whose monthlies make them berserk. To wit, we’ll be rounding up lots of ladies.
Copyright © 2018 by Channie Greenberg