My Father's Soup by Ana Vidosavljevic

My Father's Soup

My father was not the best cook ever. He could fry eggs, fish, sausages, make barbecue and warm up yesterday's dinner. Somehow, he always managed to over-fry everything but we, his family, didn't mind. However, making a soup was his supreme skill, and he was unbeatable in this particular task. The art of making soup was his own invention, no one had taught him and even though my grandma Lena, his mother, claimed that she had showed him how to make a good soup when he had been a child, he didn't want to admit this was true, but he also never said it was not. Anyway, I have never tasted better soups than the ones he made.

My father's soups, tasty and warm, nourished our souls in cold winter evenings. They often were the medicine for our cold and fever, when we were not able to eat anything else, and these delicious soups were something that comforted us when we were not in our best moods. There was nothing a warm bowl of my father's soup couldn't fix. It was our comfort food. Prepared with love.

My father made a soup almost every day. He had his favorite soup pot that he claimed was magic. He would fill this pot with cold water and put it on the stove over medium heat. Then, he added two or three spoons of vegetable oil and let the liquid get warm while he was cutting a few carrots, parsley, five garlic cloves and one small onion. As soon as he cut the vegetables, he put them in the oily water. Then, he added a couple of chicken wings and thighs. He added also a bit of salt and pepper and brought it to boil over high heat. After half an hour, he reduced the heat to low, covered the pot and let the soup simmer until the chicken parts were cooked through. Even though the soup was still not ready, the heavenly smell of it provoked me to stay close to the stove and breathe in deeply. It was not only my palate that was enriched when I removed the lid and smelled the soup, but also my mood.

I often checked the soup while it was simmering and wanted to see if the chicken parts were cooked. I removed the pot lid and stabbed the meat with a fork over and over again to make sure it was soft. My father let me be his little helper, his sous chef.

Once I decided that the meat was soft and cooked through, and my father double-checked it, he would remove it from the pot, shred the thighs and wings with two forks and chop the meat into bite-size pieces. Then, he would return them to the pot. I usually gave the bones to our dog Maza, who loved chewing them. Maza kept them as her treasure and to make sure no one took them from her, she often buried them in the ground and dug them up again after a few days.

After my father returned the meat into the pot, he added the noodles to the soup and stirred the mixture another ten minutes. He removed the pot from the heat, took a spoon and tried it even though it was hot and gave off steam. If he found out it was not salty enough, he added more salt, but often it was perfect as it was and ready to be eaten.

The soup, simple and delicious, usually lasted until the next day. And the next day, before making another soup, my father would warm it up and finish it. Simplicity of its preparing and the care of its maker was what made it special. It added an extra flavor that we all remembered many years later when my dad passed away. It is amazing how the most simple things are the most evocative.

In his honor, I've tried making his soup. And even though sometimes it tastes pretty good, it is never as good as his soup. But it is always eaten with dear people and that fact gives my soup the taste that resembles the one my dad used to make.

Ana Vidosavljevic from Serbia currently lives in Indonesia. She has her work published or forthcoming in Down in the Dirt (Scar Publications), Literary Yard, RYL (Refresh Your Life), The Caterpillar, The Curlew, Eskimo Pie, Coldnoon, Perspectives, Indiana Voice Journal, The Raven Chronicles, Setu Bilingual Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Madcap Review. She worked on a GIEE 2011 project: Gender and Interdisciplinary Education for Engineers 2011 as a member of the Institute Mihailo Pupin team. She also attended the International Conference “Bullying and Abuse of Power” in November 2010, in Prague, Czech Republic, where she presented her paper: “Cultural intolerance.”

Daisy Duke Thrown From A Car by Dr. Benjamin D. Anthony

Daisy Duke Thrown From A Car

In the years before I started school, I’m talking kindergarten here, I was a big fan of The Dukes of Hazzard. I especially loved my toy action figures of Bo & Luke Duke as well as a General Lee that both of them fit inside of. Although I loved the toys, my adventures with them were limited to just the brothers and the car, no Big Boss, no Roscoe P. Coltrane, no Cooter, no Uncle Jesse and most obviously in my mind, no Daisy Duke. Every day I begged my parents and grandparents to please find me the three and three quarters inch action figure of Daisy Duke. And every day, they failed.

The large front yard of my house was surrounded by tall grass and there was only one other house in sight, out across the road, which was an old dirt road with deep ditches on either side, filled with cattails and minnows. One day when I was out playing in the yard, wandering dangerously close to the ditch, I saw something sparkle on the other side, the side that was the edge of the road. It was an old Hot Wheels car that was all smashed and covered in dirt. My imagination was pretty vivid and I was absolutely sure that someone must have thrown it from their car as they drove by my house.

An idea hatched in my brain.

The Duke brothers would have plenty of adventures, driving around, jumping over things in the car and driving all the way to the top of the back of the couch. There they would put it in park to wait and watch. On the back of the couch I would sit and look out the big window with Bo & Luke, each of us waiting for a car to pass by, slow down, and out of the car window would be thrown a little three and three quarters inch tall Daisy Duke toy, maybe still in the package, and it would land by the side of the road.

Of course, I had to be there, ready to run outside and retrieve her, so that the next car would not run her over. Or if they had thrown it too hard and it actually went into the water in the ditch, if I was not watching it could just float away down to wherever all that water went.

Moving into town, I felt the fear, I felt it as we packed everything up and moved away from the country. No one in the town would be driving past our house because we lived on a dead-end street. Also no one would be throwing any Daisy Duke toys in my general direction as that kind of thing only happens out in the country. Riding in a little truck with all my stuff. I had to hold my Sea Monkey habitat in my lap to prevent it from tipping and it was splashing all over my side of the front seat. I looked in the rearview mirror and did not see a Daisy Duke action figure on the ground. The car had never driven past, never tossed that longed-for action figure from the window. Bo and Luke would be forever sister-less in my collection of toys.

Dr. Benjamin D. Anthony is a bizarro horror writer and recovering chef. He appears on twitter as @myfakehead where he posts pictures of his pug, jokes and assorted horrors. He has a YouTube channel, Dr. Benjamin Anthony, where he posts unwrapping videos, readings and reviews of weird books, his "Ask the Doctor" column for YesClash just started and you can also stalk him on Amazon, where he is a narrator and an author, currently writing his first book, about a satanic murder. He lives in Ohio, by the lake.

Rookie Card by Michael Chin

Rookie Card

I showed my college girlfriend Dana my 1986-1987 Fleer Patrick Ewing rookie card. The lone card I kept in a screw-down case rather than a bendable plastic top-loader or a nine-pocket binder sheet, and the lone card I brought to college rather than leaving it to collect dust back home. I began to mansplain Ewing’s significance as the Knicks' all-time leading scorer. The legend of him goal-tending five shots in the first five minutes of an NCAA Championship game. She rolled her eyes, seeing trading cards for what they were—two-and-a-half by three-and-a-half pieces of cardboard with action photographs. Toys for boys to look at after they’d outgrown the kind of toys we’d actually play with.

But trading cards—especially rookie cards—are not without value. In 2015, CNBC reported a mint condition, 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card sold at auction for $525,800. On a less exorbitant scale, imperfect condition Michael Jordan and Joe Namath rookie cards still fetch over $1,000. Compare these sums to mid-career, standard-issue Jordan cards, which price guides assess at five- to ten-dollar valuations.

What makes rookie cards so valuable? For older cards, scarcity matters. Collectors didn’t always hold these cards sacred and no kid would save cards of anyone but his favorite players. A rookie would have had less time to establish himself with young fans, and so be all the more likely to get discarded. Also, favorite cards would more likely get fed through the spokes of a kid’s bicycle than kept in pristine condition.

So, for a player’s rookie card to have survived the mid-1980s and earlier is a minor miracle. Add onto that legendary blunders. Topps got into the mass production of baseball cards in 1952 and their first set sold so well that they doubled down on their second print run. As Rich Mueller from The Bleacher Report postulates, Topps failed to account for fickle boys losing interest in baseball by fall. In an era when trading cards were marketed to kids, the value of inventory dwindled as months and years went by, so Topps loaded several hundred cases of unopened cards—surely, hundreds of Mickey Mantle rookie cards still embedded in wax wrappers—onto a barge to be disposed of at sea.

Collecting has changed. Even for my generation, a kid of the 1990s, Dad warned me about keeping cards orderly so the corners didn’t bend. The trading card market was oversaturated, though, with more cards produced than ever, and more conscientious collectors preserving them.

The value of rookie cards has grown increasingly arbitrary. They’re worth more simply because collectors still feel they ought to be.

Still, flipping through top-loaders—preparing to sell most of my collection—I remembered Dana. One memory gave way to an earlier one. We’d slept together for the first time on my squeaky, extra-long dorm bed, over a fitted sheet that always curled up off of the mattress. Her hands reeked of bleach after wiping down tables for minimum wage at a café off campus.

We called our virginities our V cards. Dana teased that she’d taken mine. I reminded her of the awkward high school boyfriend who’d taken hers. She wrinkled her nose and claimed, After he fell asleep, I stole it back.

It was quite the thought—stealing back that piece of oneself. To reassert that innocence, like the joy of opening foil wrappers to get at the cards inside. Fumbling fingers and the temptation to open the edges with scissors, tempered by a memory, early in my collecting days, when I did so and clipped the top of card before I could even get it out of the pack. That feeling, like slicing into an orange, rather than peeling and pulling it apart. Juice wasted with each incision, dripping from fingers, a sticky mess.

She said, I wish we could stay here forever, neck propped over my upper arm, her head on the pillow, my arm bent at the elbow so I could cup her breast in my hand. I understood here was not a place—beneath the gaze of my roommate’s poster of two models in their underwear, adjacent to my desk cluttered with Chinese takeout containers, textbooks, and computer printouts of essays from my Western Humanities class, and a seminar on Willa Cather, not to mention a Patrick Ewing rookie card perched on my clock radio. Here was a moment in time and space we couldn’t steal back or screw down.

Works Cited

Mueller, Rich. “Thousands of Mickey Mantle's First Topps Cards Were Dumped into Ocean.” Bleacher Report, bleacherreport.com/articles/1674457-thousands-of-mickey-mantles-first-topps-cards-were-dumped-into-ocean

“Rare Mickey Mantle rookie card sells for $525k.” CNBC, http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/11/rare-mickey-mantle-rookie-card-sells-for-525k.html

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and his hybrid chapbook, "The Leo Burke Finish," is available now from Gimmick Press in Three-Way Dance. He won Bayou Magazine's Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North, and Hobart.  He works as a contributing editor for Moss. Find him online at miketchin.com or follow him on Twitter @miketchin