Chainsaw Guy by Daniel Gerald Mac Rae {Excerpt}

Chainsaw Guy, an Excerpt 

by Daniel Gerald Mac Rae, from Zizobotchi Papers volume 1, winter, 2015:

* * *

Trust me. Woke up. Face mashed into the carpeting. I touched my nose to check if it was broken. Pulled away, I saw a bloody pool on the carpet as I pushed myself with both hands, like I was doing push-ups in freshman gym class. On the tongue, I tasted blood and dust. All the plaster bodies of the lamps were broken, but the light bulbs were on. I fell onto my back. Minutes passed. A crowd hovered over me and one of them tapped my forehead. I thought it was Ann.


“No, Ann is with Ned.”

With pains in the back of my head and spine and foot and crotch, I stood up in complete vertigo. Down was up. Up was down. The carpet was ready to swallow me whole.

Oh, damn.

“Lactation is a station.”


Get home, Dale. Speed away. Lock the door. And never leave other than for provisions and work. Agoraphobics never dealt with this shit.

The left side of my face felt ablaze with bruising. The right was swollen and stung a little. I moved along the white wall and balanced myself, knocked over a painting that landed on the carpet. It was an island female nude eating a papaya. Never noticed it before.

Ann cradled her former disgruntled lover by her breast, her purple blouse open, the dimples on her cleavage exposed, the rosary cross tapping his mouth. Ned seemed ready to suckle until she said, “Sorry I ruined your party.” And a tear landed on his forehead.

Ned was quiet.

“You look fucked up. I’m sorry to say,” the guy in the blue sport jacket said to me in an unsympathetic tone. “Really broken a-part, as they say. And a-part is never a good thing.”

“Where are my route sheets?”

The guy in the blue sport jacket laughed and said, “Oh, man-oh-man.”

From the immediate carnage I moved onward toward the kitchen and opened the refrigerator and grabbed an unmarked brown bottle. Found an opener from the yellow light of the appliance, opened it and sat down on what I assumed was a wooden stool for Ned’s breakfast nook. I guzzled it, finished half. It was more bock beer.

Took a deep breath.

“You know he bit your ear off?” a woman said, the one that wore a striped gray on green sweater, and now, had her arms crossed.

“Which ear?”

“My left. Your right.”

She pointed at the direction of my head.

“Thank you.”

“No problem.”

I set the bottle down on the kitchen table letting my damn hands hover over my ears as though they were fleshy earmuffs. For both of them, the round part was there. Bonus. Eardrum area was there. Very good. Then I felt the wet missing earlobe on the right side. And wet blood going down the side of my neck.

A future talking piece.

“It will be a talking piece.”

Two quick knocks occurred, the sound emitting from the frosted windows and Taylor’s screaming, “Get! Out! Here! Dale!”

“We got him outside after he beat you when you walked out of the bathroom, bit your ear off—”

“Where’s Tracy?”

“She went out there with him. Then he came back, kicked the hell out of you some more and we dragged him outside and then he went nuts because he forgot to take your car keys and now he’s not leaving till he gets your keys,” the guy in the blue sports jacket was the spokesman for the group.

“Where’s the piece of ear?”

“He swallowed it.”


“Chewed on it like it was gum for a bit.”

“Just give him the keys,” the girl in the gray stripes. “Just give him the keys and then report the car stolen.”

A couple more taps on the window and I walked over and saw Taylor.  I saw Ned’s garage door opened behind him. I saw Taylor holding a chainsaw upraised in one hand. Tracy laughing and saying, “He looks so scared.” And Taylor screamed, “Hell-Oh, Dale! Give me your keys.”

I shook my head.

“Give me your keys, please.”

I shook it again.

Upon my faint reflection in the window, I noticed my blue winter hat was still on. Pushed back a little. Covering the bald spot. Damn hair.

I gave Taylor the middle finger and smiled with bloody teeth and lips.

Death, before you take my Honda.


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Probiotic Hot Sauce by Jeff Phillips {Excerpt}

Probiotic Hot Sauce, an Excerpt

by Jeff Phillips, from Zizobotchi Papers volume 1, winter, 2015:

* * *

The night’s destination was on the West Side of Chicago, Madison and Cicero, at a warehouse party. Her friends Chubb Champo and Fats Hugo rented a space for cheap. Being DIY chefs, both out of work, they spun into motion a gathering pad for various performances, art showings, DJ parties, all centered on their strange, delicious recipes. They’d cook things up and people would eat while enjoying the creative festivities.

When we first got there, well, I was a little anxious while we parked the car. This was gang-ridden sprawl. Run down apartment buildings, houses. Many were boarded up. Broken glass speckled the street. Darkened industrial buildings sulked from an America that was fading away for good; a hollow monument, crumbling, but ready to dissolve back to Earth. I rubbed my hand along the white brick while Libby locked her steering wheel with “a club.”

Dusty grime coated my palm.

We approached an industrial building. Dim orange light shone from a door. Just inside was a red, velvet curtain creating a makeshift foyer that hung from a tall ceiling. A skinny guy with his hair shaved on one side, long on the other, and jeans rolled up to his knees, stood on a stool, clutching a black plastic bucket, one that looked perhaps like a witch’s cauldron from a Halloween shop. He leaned down and asked for $7.00 to enter.

Libby paid for the both of us.

“Every place in Chicago should do what they’re doing,” she said.

“Do what, exactly?”

The skinny guy gave us each a wooden token, covered with an oily moss. Then he pulled open the curtain and nudged me with his toe.

I followed Libby.

Hanging from the ceiling were large letters, pilfered from various signs, different shapes and colors, to identify the interior expanse.

Welcome to: The Belly.

Before us there were two food trucks back-to-back. They didn’t have wheels and the bed of the vehicles each rested on the floor. The windshield of one had the spray painted words “Fats” like it was a used car with an advertised price. The other had “Chubb” on its windshield.

Around the trucks were a few dozen people milling about, eating off paper plates. At the far end was a stage bathed in the orange light that teased its ambience from the entrance.

“Huh, I like this place,” I said.

“Yeah! Good thing for you. If you said one bad thing about it, I’d chop you up in the middle of the night and give your meat to these guys to sauté!”

“Interesting dinner party. Kind of an indie indoor street festival.”

“However you need to describe it to digest it. But, you know, just take it in. Let go, Michigan boy.”

“Michigan boy?”

“Go get food silly! You still got your token right? You haven’t chucked it the way you Michigan boys skip rocks have you?”

“What do you imagine Michigan to be like?”

She explained to me how these two guys, Fats and Chubb, did a food battle on most nights. Anyone who enters can try a taste of each, and then choose with their token a full dish to eat. The chef that collects the most tokens, is the victor, and gets all of the cash from the cover charge.

“Ah, so like a cooking competition show, but in-“

“Do you Michigan boys know how to frame the world in any other way?”

“Well, enlightened chica, pull the wool from over my eyes.”

She reached up, covered my eyes with her warm, soft palm. I leaned into it because it was pleasant. Then she feigned pulling material free from my face.

“Ta da!”

I noticed the token seemed to burn my palm as I clutched it in my pocket.

“Shit, what’s this coin made of, my hand is burning. Fuck. Is it soaked in acid!”

Libby laughed. “So, these coins are made of some wood from the Congo jungles. It’s soaked in oil that preserves the enzymes. When they interact with skin, they do one of two things. In some people, it feels like a caustic burn. Know what this means about you?”


“That you suck with money. It reflects your mind-body’s chemistry toward money. That you see it as causing sores in you, by its accumulation, and its spending. Every time you use money, do you feel guilty?”

“I don’t know.”

“When you buy shit do you feel like the dollar is eating holes through your wallet?”

“I suppose.”

“Well, this coin, is telling.”

“What’s the other thing it does?”

“See that guy in a camel fur sport coat, with a pony tail?”

She pointed him out.


“The token feels like a cool mint in his hand. So he holds onto it for as long as he can. It’s soothing. Then after he’s spent it, the soothing lingers. Money to him, its accumulation and its spending, is a portable apothecary. Its movement in and out, is like a potent aloe vera. He’s addicted to it. Sometimes he leaves and comes back, pays $7 again to hold another token. Sometimes he doesn’t spend them. He collects them on his nightstand and sets them on his chest while he sleeps.”

For a few minutes we watched this guy pace around the food trucks, soaking up the scene, and breathing deeper than I’ve ever thought possible.

I felt my token again; it was remnant of a hot coal, a putrid smelling lump of it.

“I’m going to unload my toxic coin.”

“You failed the experiment!” She flicked my elbow.

“This lab rat will uprise. Gonna eat.”

I approached the food truck to the left labeled “Chubb Champo.”

“Just because he has champ in his name, doesn’t mean he is one.” Libby said.

“Starting somewhere.”

There was a small line but it moved fast. People were sampling at this point. I picked up a small paper plate and on it was a cube of dark meat, glistening with an oily glaze. The fellow that handed it to me was indeed chubby, his chest seemed to have swallowed his neck. His hands were taught nubs of nutmeg seasoned flesh.

“Szechaun gator,” he said.

I put the cube in my mouth on cue with the DJ who began spinning a track, a scratchy piano plunking through a delay pedal. The meat tasted like rubbery pork, doctored with oriental sauce, kicking with a pock of other spices all hitting the buds within several seconds of one another. The thing was indeed a digestible artwork. Complex, a good sliver of cooked beast sliding down the throat, an initial savory wash reminiscent of any storefront Chinese restaurant, but an aftertaste spreading the haunting souls of herbs, forsaken plants from the far east and deep south, merged into one hell of dominant ghoul, a seductive succubae arousing the tongue and cheek wall.

Libby brushed up against my side.

“What’s it like?”

“Try it! It’s good.”

“Not before I dance.”

“Will you cramp?”

“Whenever I eat Chubb Champo’s stuff, I begin to imagine what it must be like to carry around his weight. Look at him. Must feel like being a soggy puff ball.”

I looked over at Chubb, then back at her.

“If we’re getting to know each other and being observant, I’m going to let you know you’re pretty judgmental.”

“He’s called himself a puff ball before, I’m not saying that to hurt him,” her eyes widened, apologetic. “Is it judgmental of me to try to see from another’s viewpoint? Anyway, I chow down after our boogies.”

“When do you dance?”

“Probably won’t be for another half an hour. Will you help stretch me out?”

She pulled me over to a far wall where abstract paintings were hung. She lay on her back and lifted her right leg.

“Push it toward me.”

I did as she asked with the heel of her shoe against my shoulder. My left hand gripped her thigh. My right hand wrapped her now exposed ankle as her loose pants slipped down with gravity. The skin was smooth, freshly shaved, perhaps only hours ago when she showered just before my arrival.

“I didn’t have to give you much of an excuse to molest my legs, huh, Sloan?”

I moved my right hand up and placed it over the bottoms of her shoes.

She laughed. “No! Put it back.”

Sheepish, I placed my hand back over her ankle, though I was a bit stiff. I felt I returned with a clunky, clammy pedophile’s hold; cautious, but I was giving into a voice that asked for follow-through.

“Let your sense memory do its thing, Sloan. If you have one? Or we can help reawaken it.”

I stood there helping her stretch, not knowing what to say. She looked up at me, laughing on the inside, maybe analyzing, maybe taking me all in, her sense memory soaking up the stored feeling of my cold palms.

Her friends Tammy and Don approached her to talk before their routine. She stood and brushed off her back and looked at me as though asking, “Will you be alright by yourself?”

“Do you guys get a cut of the door at all?” I asked.

“No,” she replied.

Don turned to me. “We do get to sell our DVDs though.”

I looked back at Libby. “You guys have DVDs?”

She nodded. “One of these days I’ll surprise you and we’ll get stoned and watch it.”

“You have to be stoned to get through it,” Tammy said.

“I look forward to it, I guess.”

“You gonna buy a DVD?” Don asked.

“I’ll think about it.”

“I’m sure you don’t do much thinking when you buy your Dave Matthews Band CDs and Live video shit,” Don added.

I looked at him, about to ask him who he took me for? If I really looked like someone who was into that sort of thing? But I didn’t know how to not sound defensive, and how to not turn my reply into a confrontation. So I let the tension linger while I decided to think of a good excuse to not buy this asshole’s DVD.

Libby punched my shoulder. “Be back. Don’t get lost.”

She and her dance buddies wandered off. I wanted to grab at Don’s scalp, rip it off, and give it to one of the chef’s to fry up.

I had a taste for meat so I circled back to the food trucks. I checked out the other one. Fats’ truck. Fats Hugo, the guy in the kitchen flipped foodstuff onto plates. He wasn’t necessarily fat. He did have a bit of a potbelly and thick arms. And his jaw was like a brick.

I approached the truck. There were only a few people watching what he was doing. As for the lack of demand I felt Fats Hugo might be the underdog in the overall cooking fight.

I looked over to another far corner of the room. There was a beam that was draped with a white canvas, lit from behind like a big, flat Chinese lantern. Libby, Don, Tammy and now six or seven others were stretching and passing around a joint.

Fats Hugo turned around and smiled a bold row of teeth.

“Sample it up, motherfucky!”

He handed me a plate.

“English muffin pizza?”

“English muffin pizza, my man. Honey oat, homemade, English muffins, Alfredo sauce made with the milk of some free-range cows my buddy owns in Wisconsin, and some artisan Gruyere, deer jerky. Then buddy, doused with some probiotic hot sauce I’ve been working on. Bite it up!”

I took a bite. The cheese was a complicated melting of thick cream, washing my tongue. There was a pungent kick of what floated as cool specks in temperature alone on top of the cheese ooze, sort of a Greek yogurt made spicy. My mouth burned, eyes watered, and Fats Hugo laughed at me then called the other timid partygoers a bunch of pussies.

“Since the sample was like a whole serving, how about just tossing me your token, eh?” Fats Hugo looked through me, looked at my own tendency to give into demands.

The hot delicacy of a simple circle of pizza put my mouth on alert for an addictive spread of imaginary flame. I kept taking bites because it was damn good and there was an instant craving that flickered on every few seconds in my mind. I tossed him the token.

“Thanks buddy. Win!” He banged loud on the back wall of his food truck, making it a boastful gong.

My gums were blazing and I tongued them. He pulled some more of his little pizzas out of a little pizza oven, and set them out to cool.

He turned around, noticed me gumming, and pointed at me.

“You! Have another one.”

“No thanks.”

“The fuck, I don’t agree.”

He flipped up one of the hot ones onto a little paper plate, doused it with more of the probiotic hot sauce and held it out for me.

“Don’t be a rudie.”

I shrugged. “Alright, alright. Thanks man.”

“Eat up, chumly.” He laughed. “Trying to get the tough guys addicted.”

I blew on the hot pizza. I wanted to eat it quick, appease him and move away. He seemed like a “Dominant Goader.” I didn’t want to get too close. I took another bite. There was more of the spice.

“You’re going to feel wonderful tomorrow. Your crap is going to be flowing, and chapping, but you’re going to get some major shit out and you will feel light. Light!”

“When does that strike?” I asked as I chewed.

“It may hit soon.”

“Great.” I had that to look forward to. “Where are the bathrooms?”


“A good fucking idea to be feeding this to people here then! Hope you have fun cleaning!”

He laughed. “Relax, fucker.” He pointed up to a staircase in the back. “If you go up there you can use my personal bathroom.”

“You live here?”

“Yah. Me and Chubb and this chick friend of ours.”

Again he pounded on the back of his truck.

I ate the rest of the pizza and walked away, worried about possible dysentery. I looked over at Libby and her dance team. Someone was busy playing with lighting cues. Libby saw me and waved. I waved back. She blew a kiss. I wasn’t sure how to respond. My mouth was still under the assault of the probiotic hot sauce. She pulled up her shoulders, palms upturned as if to say, “What gives?” Then I blew a kiss back to her and she gave me the finger.

I walked over to her.

“You having fun?” She asked me, all perky.

“I just ate Fats’ English muffin pizzas with probiotic hot sauce. He says I’ll be shitting soon.”

“All his foods do that. Good luck!”

“Why do people keep eating it?”

“Detox your little heart out.” She cupped her warm hand over my heart. “I’ll be rooting for you.” She was looking in my eyes and I looked into hers. I wanted to grab her and kiss her; enough of this unexpected, bipolar seduction. Then I felt a rumble. “I felt that,” she continued, eyes amused. “Go! Go! Before it’s too late.”

I turned and made my way to the staircase Fats had pointed out and made my way up. Gas bubbles were rippling through my innards.

The DJ was spinning a new disc now, something high octane with electric guitars, conga drums, and a Theremin. It was an adrenaline booster, making me feel like a hero for charging ahead to do my business in a stranger’s personal bathroom.


Download the excerpts in a PDF: {Zizobotchi Papers volume 1 excerpts}

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