Robert Vaughan







Born out of Fog


The game they started in Land’s End Park became a reality, resulted in daily dangerous doses of loss.


Don says: “Time for me to leave.”


Sally pins her hair. “Give me some change for the bus.”


“I’ll meet you at the restaurant.”


Will he see her? Could she give up? Might harm come to him?


From opposite sides of the bed they steals glimpses of each other, as if fog will fall again, As if one might get lost forever along the way. When one small act of kindness can be deathly.


He leaves the house with his guitar, walks proudly and yet crushed, navigating nobly, smoothly, but hurt, head bowed.


She sits on the bus alone. Immobile. She can hardly stand it, although, by now she knows it’s not going to stop.


Coming around a bend, the bus passes him.


They are not allowed to wave to each other.




Vegas Rolling


I woke up with a mouth full of liquid diamonds. Sharain was already up, practicing Guantanamera on her air guitar in our spare room. We’d had a row last night- couldn’t decide between Prozac or Heroin. When it comes to these extreme alteration choices, I’m always at a loss. It’s as if I’m too old for chick bait, too young to burn. Outside, the evergreen was melting in the soaring Vegas temps, radiating through the window, pulsing into our flat. I wondered about the genesis of this new dawn, would I be able to endure creaming for beginners in my hundredth creative writing class? Or would the hands of fate intervene? First things first, Sharain and I would head over to the Golden Nugget before breakfast, pan for Fool’s Gold on the slots. Anything’s possible.





The 5% Nation of Pay-per-view


1. It was like falling down

Once we jump out of the plane, the free fall is my favorite part. The air around every corpuscle, charging every cell, every atom screams. Plus knowing the ground would be game to splatter you into fragments. But once you tug the ripcord, the sensation is gone. You float onward. Your nuts tighten, you remember which bills you forgot to pay. The missed therapy appointment. How you made her cry on her last birthday.


2. This never happened

Lugging the wash to various laundromats. It was one thing washing undergarments, tank tops. Even jeans. But when I brought my new Chick-A-Fil rubber uniform home and asked Brenda to wash it (well, I didn’t really ask her, I just added it to the hamper), she threw her keys at me and left. Never came back. Took over a week for the swelling on my face to go down.


3. Don’t sweat it

She agrees to meet me after her march for some equality event. Pick-its. Signs. She lay her sign face-down on the manicured park lawn. The grass smells like fertilizer.

“Try to see it my way,” she says. Chips at her fresh manicure.

“We can work it out,” I encourage her.

“Only if you do the wash?”

“Deal. Plus, I quit Chick-A-Fil.”

Brenda laughs and I cry. Not outwardly. Because I love love.


4.See the manager

We announce our engagement and my father visits Erie. It has been a few years. He wants to go see the lake, and at the hardware I tell him we have a bun in the oven. He grunts, like he’s passed wind. We get out and there is dead fish smell, even in late winter. Dad wants his own bench. My feelings aren’t hurt, just who he is- the way any visitor from outer space might feel. We sit there, staring into the partially frozen lake, under the tall tree canopy, this infinite planet.



Robert Vaughan, FUNHOUSE (short fictions – Unknown Press)


Book cover credit: Ron Kibble













Robert Vaughan teaches workshops in hybrid writing, poetry, fiction, and hike/ write. He has facilitated these at locations like Alverno College, UWM, Red Oak Writing, The Clearing, Synergia Ranch and Mabel Dodge Luhan House. He leads writing roundtables in Milwaukee, WI. He was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award for Fiction twice (2013, 2014), and the lead judge for the Bath International Flash Fiction Awards, 2016. His short fiction, ‘A Box,’ was selected for Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press).


Vaughan is the author of five books: Microtones (Cervena Barva Press); Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (Deadly Chaps); Addicts & Basements (CCM) and RIFT, a flash collection co-authored with Kathy Fish (Unknown Press). His new book, FUNHOUSE (Unknown Press) is scheduled for release in December, 2016.


He blogs at



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