map A Nice Pair

by Ariel Basom

Published in Issue No. 248 ~ January, 2018

The Last Exit:

I was on the easy end of a horse costume. My pal Grant took the rear, and we cantered to the Last Exit on Brooklyn. The giant horse-head reached my waist acting as both mask and straight-jacket and descending over a matching pair of furry trousers. Grant wore the back end like a onesie, his hands around my waist, the top of his head pressed into the small of my back. The body extended past his vision so he relied on me to see and I needed him to keep from toppling.

The sidewalk stretched before us like a sunray. Passing cars were like Moonpatrol—bouncing along and avoiding mines. The labyrinthine doorway of the Last Exit slid and wobbled before us.

We waited in line for our maps to the Annual Halloween Scavenger Hunt while men played chess and slung back cappuccinos and cigarettes. The room buzzed—chess pieces levitated and spun.

Grant stood beside me, map in hand. His ass costume hung around his waist. His eye slowly fell down his face.

Clue: Once there was a river, now the path is one.

Grant pointed his glowing finger at the X in the ravine, “we’re going to Ravenna.” Grant pocketed the map, bent over, and grabbed my hips. Out of the coffeehouse, we trotted. A few old crackpots watched as we struggled through the door.


The Ravine:

Walking up the Ave, we saw a group dressed as Oz. Dorothy pointed down the street, and her arm tracked like a blurry fan.

“Scarecrow looks like Gene Kelly,” I said.

“Will Tin Man hold up in the rain?” Grant asked. I couldn’t muster an affirmative.

It started to rain and Tin Man’s face melted. The rain obscured the street lights. I blinked and stumbled. But Grant had a firm grip on me so thrusting forward we continued north.

From the ravine, we were sent to Allegro, but at the ravine, I may have lost my mind. Going down the steep decline, I looked up at the opposite bank, and my field of vision wobbled like boiling water. The bubbles came at me and popped to make room for more. I reeled. This time Grant couldn’t hold me. We stumbled down the hill and fell in the mud. Grant sat up and his bony face changed from red to green, then from green to blue.

“Please,” I said, “pull me up. I can’t lift it.”

Grant sat there like a lighthouse, his rainbow head spinning like a warning. I was ready to dock but unsure of the terrain.

Clue: Above the alley dressed in wood, a coffeehouse forever stood.


Cafe Allegro:

The Allegro led us to Spaceport, but at Cafe Allegro I discovered what coffee was about. The coffee signified the earth, our souls, and the universe. As I parlayed these truths to my companion, I felt him behind me. We became one as I tasted the hot liquid and let it fall into my depths. He wrapped his arms around me. I knew at once what was intended by coffee. Grant knew too, and we shared in the warm afterglow of sipping.

Clue: Light Side Down


“I can see the sounds bouncing in and out of the lights,” said Grant.

We circled the arcade, falling all over each other in the dark. Grant tripped. We fell. We laughed hysterically—he grabbed at my legs to mount himself—I did nothing to prolong the ecstasy. My man Grant pleased me to the threshold of delight as we fumbled around on the carpet.

“Words!” he shouted. He tripped again. “Everything is covered in words!” He stumbled against the Moonpatrol console. A dozen faces turned—snapped in unison—interchanged and faded. Soon the manager had us in the street.

“Take your shenanigans out of here,” he said. I tried to count his fingers as he shook them, but I stopped counting at twenty-three.


Blue Moon:

We knew we had our clue. “What comes after the spaceport?” I asked.

“The moon!”

“To the moon then Alice!”

Grant pushed into me hard. I was compelled to go into a gallop as he rammed his head into me.

Outside Blue Moon, he stood up in the rain. I watched the water sink into his hair like a jellyfish. The tendrils, glowing and fluid, fell onto his face, obscured his eyes. I was amazed.

“Do you see that?” he asked, “the pen won’t move in a perfect circle unless I control it with compassion.”



On 43rd and 7th, Grant stood up abruptly. Laughter crept bouncingly up my spine. Green and red bubbles popped from my lips. Grant sprawled on the sidewalk groaning, awash in a yellow-green glee. The colorful laughter flooded his perfect skin.

We heard a car coming, so we assumed our bestial position.

A blue mustang crept up the road, the passengers turned as they passed. We were wobbly yet frozen, occupying the corner like a wingless statue of Pegasus—forever gracing the streetlight with our mutual presence, bonded in stone.


The Ave:

No time passed at all before we were waiting for a chance to cross the Ave. The costumed populace tittered willy-nilly around the shops and bars. I computed the whereabouts of each and the destinations of a few. They wove and dodged as I pieced together the fabric of their heads. Grant, unable to explain what he experienced in the dark, muttered behind me. Crossing the street, I led him into bliss. The clouds whispered as we descended under their blankets, “Equus.” We collapsed in the grass.

account_box More About

Ariel Basom lives in Seattle, Washington. His portfolio contains over a hundred poems, half a dozen short stories, a growing collection of microfiction, and a few novels in the works. He has an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College.