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Ghost Bike
by Thomas Cooper

art by Brian MacElhose
art by Brian MacElhose
Tonight he paints the bike in the closed garage with the windows cracked, among cobwebs and gasoline cans and garden tools. Upstairs his wife's in bed on the phone with her mother. He sits on cold concrete in his surgical mask, shaking the paint can so the metallic bead pings. Slowly he sprays another layer, high gloss white, moving from the crooked handlebars down to the seatpost, careful that no rust shows. A week ago he did this with another bike, a brand new Schwinn, and his wife said, "That just defeats the whole point, doesn't it?"

When he finishes it's almost ten, around the time they would have been putting the girl to sleep. Dizzy from fumes, he climbs up the stairs to the bedroom. His wife sees the paint on his hands, gets up and dresses. They drive to the intersection across from the park and chain the bike to the lamppost. Afterward they sit in the diner. He reaches across the table but she doesn't notice so he drops his hand in his lap. Then, not knowing what else to do, he looks out the window. In a whisper the woman begins, "No devils, no nightmares, no such thing as ghosts."

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2015 by its authors.

A 2008 Pushcart Prize nominee, Thomas Cooper's short stories currently appear in New Orleans Review, Lake Effect, Beloit Fiction Journal, Night Train, Quick Fiction, Pindeldyboz, Keyhole Magazine, Opium, and elsewhere.

Read the interview.

Brian MacElhose lives and works in New York City. He has been working in collage for the past two years and invites everyone to view more of his creations at
Issue Twenty-Three (December 15, 2008): Ants by David Aichenbaum «» Earthrise by Christopher Bundy «» The World Before This One by Jon Chopan «» Ghost Bike by Thomas Cooper «» The Sway of Trains by Lydia Copeland «» Impressionists by Debra A. Daniel «» Danseuses Nues by David Harris Ebenbach «» The Head Fields by Terry Ehret «» Shadows by Sherrie Flick «» Heroin Girl by Larry Fondation «» She Doesn't Ask Where He Goes by Stefanie Freele «» Caved In by Barry Graham «» Chicago World's Fair, 1893 by Kyle Hemmings «» Coat and Shoes by Tania Hershman «» Thirteen by Tai Dong Huai «» Phoenix by W.P. Kinsella «» Nearly Free by Dorianne Laux «» Alien Lunch by Liane LeMaster «» The Society for the Preservation of Everything by Kuzhali Manickavel «» 216 East Boalt by Jeannie Vanasco «» Potatoes by Spencer Wise «» Interviews: David Aichenbaum «» Christopher Bundy «» Jon Chopan «» Thomas Cooper «» Lydia Copeland «» Debra A. Daniel «» David Harris Ebenbach «» Terry Ehret «» Sherrie Flick «» Larry Fondation «» Stefanie Freele «» Barry Graham «» Kyle Hemmings «» Tania Hershman «» Tai Dong Huai «» Dorianne Laux «» Liane LeMaster «» Kuzhali Manickavel «» Spencer Wise «» Cover Art "morpheus" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor

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