Shannon Barber

Shannon Barber is a 32 year old author who loves coffee flavored coffee and pie. She can often be seen running feral in her natural habitat somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, cup of coffee in one hand and armed with a scowl.

Thank You Tony (Issue 22.)

Four Hands (Issue 12.)

Goodbye L.A. (Issue 3.)


Thank You Tony (November 20, 2010. Issue 22.)

When I started writing for more than my own amusement, I had no real understanding of what it might take to be a writer. I thought the following would happen: I would write a few things that amazed some unknown ever-patient patron who would then treat me like the insane delicate genius I am. This person would pay my bills while I screwed everyone and got drunk, this person would do the business things and I would have little else to do with it except to bask in the infamy.

I really thought this is what was going to happen. I did not yet fully grasp that I might have to work and work hard at being a writer. I wrote pages of over wrought post teenage angst, a lot of awful poetry and labored over short stories.

At that age I began making clumsy and often hand written attempts to get published. I spent hours painstakingly trying to print submissions neatly. My handwriting was and remains awful and there were multiple nights of painstaking transcribing, every spare cent spent on postage and good envelopes.

I got rejected a lot. There were many ubiquitous form letters that said variations on “thank you but no”. I got frustrated. My feelings were hurt and I did not know why my writing merited a “thanks but no thanks” response. I had no idea what I was doing wrong save that it was my handwritten submissions or I was irrevocably delusional about my talents.

Once I had Internet access, I discovered an entire new world of literary magazines. One of the first of those magazines I read regularly was ‘Cherry Bleeds’. I devoured every issue for months. I pored over the stories and embarked on writing the best piece I had ever written to that point. I wanted to be one of those writers.

I do not have a copy of that story anymore, but I do remember how hard I worked on it. Sending it off felt like a step even though I was terrified. I had all sorts of visions of what the editor, Tony DuShane might say.

In my head I imagined him just shaking his head and deleting the whole mess, of him sending it to every other editor in the universe saying, “don’t publish this moron”; I was a mess for days.

Then Tony wrote back. I cannot recall exactly what he said but he was kind, he seemed like he had actually read the story and I felt like it was possible that I could be good enough to be published along side writers he published regularly. His rejection made me feel like I had a chance and helped me understand that I would have to work damn hard.

These years later, ‘Cherry Bleeds’ has stopped updating, Tony has published an excellent novel and I have gotten published here and there myself.

I may not be infamous; I do not have an ever-patient benefactor. Hell you don’t even know who I am. Be that as it may, I am still writing, I am still working. Thanks to Tony DuShane, I still feel as if I have a chance even when every rejection says in essence, “thanks but no thanks”.

Thank you Tony, thank you for everything.

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Four Hands (December 20, 2009. Issue 12.)

“You shouldn’t be doing this.”

I’m talking to myself, leaning close to the mirror putting on my make up. I stop with my eyeliner in hand and nod. I know.

I have to derail that train of thought, so I picture four hands. Two of them long fingered milk pale hands, short rounded nails painted a delicate shell pink, the other two broad freckled hands, big blunt fingered hands that could be the image of manly hands if I were to think of the phrase. I think of those four hands juxtaposed on my brown body, for a moment I worry. What if those hands find my flesh too giving, too squishy and fat? What if those hands slide off of my flesh and their wanting turns to disinterest?

I lean back to look at myself. I can see from the top of my head to the fuzzy swell of my pubis.

I try to use their gaze, naturally I can’t.

These are questions I would rather not ask myself.

I have to finish getting ready.

I finish my eyeliner and examine my face. Finally I smile; everything is going to be fine.

All that’s left to do is put on my red lipstick, get dressed and go.

While I’m pulling on a simple black dress the thought occurs to me again that this could be a very bad idea. I’m inexperienced, I’ve never done anything remotely like this before, these aren’t people I know as well as I could, the list is probably endless. Despite all that and the lengthy lecture from my best friend, here I am on my way to be violated in the most delicious ways.

I get my coat and grab my overnight bag I want to feel like I look nonchalant, I have a long way to go and I’m not sure I want to broadcast that I’m about to go get fucked six ways from Sunday on my face. I give myself one last check downstairs, the mirror in the lobby shows me a woman with a good-looking fat girl with a secret.

I can do this.

My trip to the train is a blur, all I can think about is the heaviness in my belly; the weighty anticipation is settled there like a medicine ball.

I let my body rock with the movement of the train, my gaze focused on nothing while my cunt throbs and makes damn sure I don’t forget my mission. I’m really doing this and somehow it doesn’t feel real. Maybe it won’t be real until four hands are pulling the clothes off of my body.

This like many things started because of a simple compliment. I met them through friends at some arty thing, I stood in front of a blown up photo of them with their fingers entwined and remarked out loud about how beautiful I thought the image was. They were standing right there. When the woman next to me turned and smiled and said thank you I blushed. She cupped my cheek in her hand and proclaimed me delectable.

She is the kind of woman I wanted to grow up to be, she oozes infectious sensuality, she is fast to share a sweet intimate moment. I wanted her right then but was too shy to say so.

Many conversations later it was decided, they wanted me as an anniversary present and I was more than happy to be one. Now here I am, on my way to their waiting arms.

Time has gone and done something strange; I look up to see the station just ahead. The train starts to slow and the gentleman sitting across from me reaches to the overhead compartment to get his briefcase then my bag. I whisper my thanks, my hands are shaking and my mouth has gone dry.

I don’t know what I’m afraid of- no that's a lie I know exactly what I'm afraid of.

The taxi ride is too short and too long, the driver a kindly man with beautiful skin that borders on night black. His round cheeked face is cheerful, his big doll like eyes are sparkling. I can’t keep track of what he’s talking about, something about traveling; I have no idea what I’m saying in response.

As soon as I step out of the cab, my breathing hitches while my feet propel me forward, through the front door and to the elevator, up to the fourth floor, down the hall to the right. My body knows the way.

I feel led by my cunt.

I knock, my knees feel like water and I may or may not wet myself, I think I should turn and run but before I can she opens the door and enveloping me in her arms. She is taller than I am and I fit in her arms with the curve of her breast against my cheek, her hands run all over me.

There is too much small talk. I am squirming and ready. I can’t do it anymore and just take off my clothes; I am ready.

It’s I don’t know how long after I’ve arrived and there are a few precious seconds of clarity amidst the collective rut we’ve thrown ourselves into, here is my vision. I look down and see four hands. Two of them long fingered milk pale hands, short rounded nails painted a delicate shell pink, the other two broad freckled hands, big blunt fingers hands that could be the image of manly hands if I were to think of the phrase. I think of those four hands juxtaposed on my brown body, all my questions are answered and I laugh and come until I can't anymore.

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Goodbye L.A. (April 9, 2009. New Pink Moon. Issue 3)

I have started to hate my cock and, by extension, living in L.A. Not in the sense that I shouldn’t have one, a cock, that is, but more in the way you grow to hate that one annoying guy in your neighborhood who makes it his business to make sure everyone knows everything that everyone else is up to. It’s not a hot kind of hate, the kind that makes you want to get spanked or spank someone kind of hate, it’s a slow head shaking kind hate, that kind of loathing. This is the guy you don’t want to run into before you’ve hadyour first cigarette and cup of coffee of the day. That’s how I feel about my cock lately.

I hate it because it’s four o’clock in the fucking morning and I’m awake and reaching for it. I don’t know if it’s conscious or one of those unconscious inner child comfort things, or what. This would be a lot easier if I was a porno freak or compulsive masturbator, but, no, I’m just an average guy who can’t ignore a semi hard on. I’m thinking maybe if I just palm it a little the beast won’t need stroking. I know that is a lie.

This entire situation started with my upstairs neighbors, although I can’t blame them entirely for my problems, however convenient a couple of scapegoats they may be. Don’t get me wrong; they are nice people. I met them for the first time at the "mixer" my complex had a few months ago. You know those things that complexes do when they are trying to pretend they are nice? Ritz crackers, fake smiles and bullshit. I always go for the free snacks and to watch the recent LA arrivals get dazzled by capped teeth, tans and big hair.

It used to be that I just thought I was under-sexed. I hadn’t really gotten any in months and months when all this started. In lieu of sex with the insane girls I kept getting myself involved with, I turned to the one who loves and hates me the most. Yes, I know it’s pretty absurd to be avoiding women in a city like LA. I learned the hard way that there is really only so much anyone should put up with for a hot piece of ass; I just needed a sanity break.

So my neighbors - right, I don’t mean to digress - but it’s hard to concentrate. They are nice enough people; they don’t look like L.A people. If you don’t live here or have never been here or live under a rock, let me explain. When I think of L.A., I think of big tits, tans, botox, freakishly white gigantic teeth and that insane drive to be a star. Cultivated "looks," people who strive for that one extra thing that makes them stand out. Even the people who might say they don’t
care about fame and Hollywood are almost always bullshitting you.

My neighbors look like they are probably from Minnesota or Michigan. Pale, not in a stylized Goth kind of way but just pale like people from somewhere with a shit-load of serious winter. Kind of doughy in a pleasant way, in the way that tells you they like themselves just how they are. You look at them and know they aren’t torturing themselves going to the gym for hours each day; they aren’t tanning or paying out the ass for orthodontia, or image consultants or any of that horse shit. They are the kind of people you imagine snuggling against during lengthy winter nights.

Sorry to go off topic again, but, that thing they say about jerking off with your non-dominant hand is really true.

I have never meet people like them here in L.A.; I’ve lived here for ten years and I’ve heard about people like them, but never seemed to meet them. Everyone has a hustle; shit, even all these crackheads I know - don’t ask - think they are going to get off the glass dick, get their teeth fixed and be a star. It’s refreshing. The reason I can’t like these people is just how in love and awesome they seem to be.

I realize that makes me sound like a petty douche, bag but it’s true. I can admit it. Their whole happy, we’re in love and have freaky, loud awesome sex vibe just irks me. It irks me more that, regardless of the fact that I don’t find either one of them particularly attractive in an I want to hump you kind of way, the minute I hear the little gnarly lusty noise she makes when they are about to get down, I’m done for. Then, this is somehow a worse trigger for me, this guy, this mousy guy with the receding hairline and dopey in a pair of not-so-chic glasses, makes this insane throaty bass, uh, fuck growl, for lack of a better or more creative term.

No shit, man, I’m serious. Put it this way; I’ve had my share of experiences with the cock, not just my own, and I’m not attracted to this guy in any kind of real way, but, if he made that noise in my ear, I would swallow his load like a pro and beg for more. After the initial quake of oh, my god, trails off of my spine, I get to thinking, and thinking wakes the beast, which is where I find myself right now. You see what a vicious cycle this is?

Is he getting his cock sucked?

If I were sucking his cock, would he make that noise? I am no expert cocksucker, but I like to think he would.

Again, sorry about the digression here, but this left-handed thing is the shit. I haven’t lasted this long in awhile. Rationally, I realize it’s still just me, but the little flubs and weird rhythms are damn good.

Where was I? Right, the growl, the cock sucking, then I wonder why haven’t I ever made that noise? I’ve had a lot of sex by myself and with other people and I’ve never been moved to make a noise like that. I can’t even imagine being so into someone, and having someone be so into me, that I am relaxed enough to let them do something to me that would make me make that noise. It’s fucking depressing.

They must be all warmed up, the bed springs are starting to squeal and I can hear - did I mention the walls in this shithole are paper thin - the rhythmic slap of their bodies. I’m on beat, have to switch back to my right hand so I can finish with my not-in-a million years lovers.

Oh, this is great; well, it feels great, but I, oh shit, time out for the home team. At this rate, I might have to use both hands. He is pounding that. Anyway, right. I have a thought.

Or, that is, I had one. Christ, I think when I blow, I’m going to have to go wash my hair. I want to have what they have and I don’t think I’m going to get it here in L.A-

Wow, shit, sorry about that. Post clean up can is a bitch when you’re not prepared. What was I saying? That kind of took it out of me, hate my cock, hate the neighbors hate- hold on a minute I hate L.A.

That’s it, isn’t it?

If I could think better while jerking off, I probably would’ve figured this out a really long time ago. I don’t like people here and if I don’t like people I’m never going to find that person and have what my neighbors have. I feel so stupid, stupid but motivated. As soon as I rub another one out I’m packing.

Tomorrow I’m sending them a thank you note and fruit basket and an apology for hating them. Goodbye, L.A, and hello to the one who makes me do that thing. I can’t wait to meet you.

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