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The BRUISER Staff and All Their Special Sticks

BRUISER M. makes a graphic for the poem Resurrected Concrete” by Z.H. Gill. BRUISER M. posts the poem Resurrected Concrete” by Z.H. Gill, along with the graphic.

Z.H. concocts a wall of text. Z.H. demands they take it down. Z.H. says it was already promised to Red Ogre Review. Z.H. apologizes profusely. BRUISER M. takes Resurrected Concrete” down from BRUISER.

BRUISER M. texts BRUISER T.: whats with this guy
Sends him screenshots of the exchange.
BRUISER T. texts BRUISER M.: seems a little schiz
They loop in BRUISERs X., P., W., and F., the original editorial board.
BRUISER F. writes: whyd you take it down
BRUISER M. says: he was nice enough
BRUISER F. replies: he needs a beatdown
BRUISER P. opens a sidebar with BRUISERs M. and T.: i want no part in what comes next
Back in the main thread, BRUISER F. writes: we need to regather our special sticks
BRUISER P. leaves the thread.
BRUISER F. says: what a little bitch Ps become

BRUISER M. calls a meeting.
BRUISERs A.-Z. arrive, sans BRUISER P. The meeting’s in the shack they call BRUISER HQ. Mildewed sign on the door reads BRUISER HQ in cut-out magazine letters, like from a ransom note.
BRUISER M. says: F. wants us to go and get our special sticks.
BRUISER Law stipulates anyone can talk at any time, no points of order, interrupt if you want, best idea wins the day. So BRUISER I. speaks next, despite being the newest hire, there for less than a week: I thought you were laying low, he says, I thought you got me as your Crisis Director so you could avoid another Crisis.
BRUISER F. now: We can’t be little scaredy-cats. Times are hard. We need to project strength.
BRUISER X. says: I never saw the poem. Is it worth all this?
BRUISER F. replies: It’s fine, that’s not really the point.
BRUISER X. again: Then what exactly is the point? What are we doing here? I just think you want your special stick back.
BRUISER F. says: You’re right about that. I do want my special stick back. Everyone does. We took a vote.
BRUISER M. now: Vote? What vote? I didn’t vote for nothing. (And BRUISER M. is the founding EIC, so it’s pretty fucked that BRUISER F. would conduct himself like this.)
BRUISER G. butts in: As the Special Stick Keeper, I should have a say. I was not consulted at all.
She blows black clouds from her vape. She scratches her neck.
BRUISER I. chimes in: I really think we need to keep on laying low.
BRUISER F. says: I want to put this LA loser in the hospital. I want to put every LA loser in the hospital. Let’s vote on it.
Vote is 20-5 in favor of putting every LA loser in the hospital.
The yes’s are BRUISERs A., B., C., D., E., F., H., J., K., L., N., O., Q., R., S., U., V., W., X., Y., and Z.
The no’s are BRUISERs I., G., M., T., and X.
(BRUISER W., the secretary-at-large, records BRUISER P. as an abstention.)
Majority rules. They all have to go along with it or they’ll be cast out. BRUISER X. walks on the spot, but none of the rest do. BRUISER M. asks BRUISER U., their travel agent, to book them all business class seats to LAX—or Burbank, if at all possible.

BRUISER G. gathers the special sticks from the BRUISER wall of safety deposit boxes at the B of A on Light St. She takes them to BRUISER V., their parcel-master, who lives for packing up stuff and sending things around. He bundles the special sticks with his careful, knowing manner and sends them off to meet the BRUISER staff in sunny LA.

Their journey is uneventful.
BRUISER Q., their private chef, remarks: Imagine the trouble TSA would give us if we carry-on’d our special sticks?
BRUISER D., the staff librarian, reads from the Druze Epistles of Wisdom.
BRUISER K., the reviews editor, plays on her Vita.
BRUISER M. tries his best to fall asleep.
No turbulence, no clouds, nothing but the future, the present, the past.
And the whole staff gets piss-drunk.
Upon arrival, BRUISER T. unfolds a burlap sack removed from a hidden pocket, spreads it on the baggage claim carousel, rides around on it.
This is the life, he says, the staff all generally agreeing with him.

Z.H. picks them up from the lower LAX concourse in the party bus the BRUISER staff requested.
BRUISER F. says: So you’re the bastard Z.H.
Z.H. replies: I guess I am.
BRUISER F. says: Get in the go-go dancing cage.
Z.H. shrugs, obliges him.
Off they all go to retrieve their cache of special sticks.
They all get piss-drunk again, even Z.H. does, with BRUISER F. feeding him gin from a curly-straw aimed between the steel bars.

The party bus pulls up to Kenneth Hahn Park. The staff marches off in alphabetical order, except for BRUISER F. at the back, dragging Z.H. from a leash fixed to a metal collar. He says: Your time has come.
Z.H. replies: You’re not going to kill me, though, right? I don’t want to die anymore. I would have never agreed to this if that was the case.
BRUISER F. pulls harder on the leash, says: Shut the fuck up.
They march through the disc golf course.
They march past the playground.
Finally, they reach a clearing overlooking all of Baldwin Hills and well beyond.
BRUISER G. passes out all the special sticks to everyone from the enormous sack strapped to her back. Some staff members have carved runes into theirs. BRUISER L., the typesetter, inscribed poems all around hers, a bunch of spiraled Jack Spicer lines from her steady knife-hand. BRUISER Y., the design editor, carved crashing waves into his. BRUISER F. painted his special stick in a pure, hard white, so as to accentuate whatever spilled blood he draws upon it.
Those are all for me? asks Z.H.
I’m sorry to say that they are, says BRUISER M.
It’ll go quick, says BRUISER A.
We’ll pray for you. At least, I will, says BRUISER D.
We’re all really sorry about this. Well, most of us are, says BRUISER I.
Here goes nothing, says Z.H.
We get the last word, bro, says BRUISER F. And he’s right about that, no one says anything more till they all land at BWI—except for BRUISER T., who stays on in SoCal and visits Knott’s Berry Farm.

Z.H. Gill

Twitter: @BlckPllPlsrBch

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