from RADY, or Squirrelhunter



William Jay Rady had been called ‘Squirrelhunter’ and ‘Deuces,’ and in the war his unit called him ‘Krautbreaker.’ He’d been called ‘Longhorn,’ ‘W.R.’, and ‘The Lady.’ The enemy called him ‘Weiche Schuhe,’ or ‘Soft Shoes,’ and his wife called him ‘Billy,’ ‘Honey,’ or ‘Bray.’ Not-Father called him ‘son,’ or ‘sonny,’ when he was pleased with him. The wife of Not-Father called him ‘son,’ or ‘William Jay Rady’ when he was to be punished. At school, the kids called him ‘ugly pimpled Sadie Ray’ when they stood in the circle with rocks and sticks and said the cruel rhymes. His brother called him ‘Jay Ray’ when they were small. Later, just plain ‘Bill.’ His sister called him ‘Bailey.’ In high school, the team called him ‘Legs,’ ‘Quickdraw,’ and ‘The Ghost,’ and when he made it with a senior in the treehouse of her parents’ backyard she had called him ‘Kingsnake.’ After high school, California’s Camp Pendleton called him ‘Private.’ The reverend called him ‘Husband.’ The doctor called him ‘Father.’ The rangemaster called him ‘Spitfire’ and ‘William Tell.’ He was called ‘National Employee of the Quarter’ by Florence Medical Imaging & Repair in 1962 and 1963. The forest roads called him ‘companion’ and the roadside motel clerk called him ‘Regular.’ The centipedes and spiders called him ‘hole-digger’ and the sugar maples called him ‘world-wearer.’ His children called him ‘Daddy,’ and ‘Dads’ and his children’s children called him ‘Pop Pop.’ His wife had called him ‘Golden Will.’ The detectives called him ‘The Hidden Trigger.’ His accountant calls him ‘timely.’


* * *








I have a best friend and her name is Ginny Sullivan. We are ten, both eleven in June, and she’s smart and not really mean but she can be. I don’t know why. She doesn’t live all that far. If Mom doesn’t need her driver, he picks Ginny up or drives me to her house. Otherwise, I take the train. Ginny is not permitted to take the train. I like to play at hers because her dad has a TV in the spare room where we have spend-the-nights. Ginny likes dramas, and I’ll watch any show, even commercials, because Mom says no to TV in our house.

Ginny and I love most of the same things, but we have some different favorites and we try to do what Mom says, come to an accord. I like to do art. Ginny likes to play dress up with all the samples Mom has from past collections.

So I paint Ginny’s portrait while she dresses up. Mom hangs these paintings in the kitchen. Mom says I’m ready for the bigtime and sends some of my pictures to our friends in the city. So far, Ginny is a princess in a tower, a flower girl, a Gibson Girl, a wizard and cowgirl at the same time, a movie director with a beret. Her hair is hard to get right. It looks like a blonde waterfall. My hair is long too but black and curly and it sits at my shoulders. Once at a spend-the-night I had to shower because of an ice cream disaster and before my hair dried Ginny said my curls stretched out to my waist, or at least the drawing she did showed me like that. I liked us switching places, but Mom said Ginny shouldn’t quit her day job.

We had an almost friendship-killer when we were six. It was because Ginny had a birthday. A two-parter. There was a day party, but then a special spend-the-night for just some girls. Ginny invited me to the day party but said I wasn’t invited for the whole thing. I told Mom, and she put me in my room and I could hear her getting mad, and then she quieted down, and I could hear her on the phone. Then she came in with my Coffee Cream—two tablespoons of black coffee mixed into a mug of milk—and then I was invited to both.

Mom told me she had a hot tip from someone who knew just what Ginny wanted, and that I would have the present she wanted most. The present was Kirsten, one of the Pleasant Company dolls. Mom bought me all of them and Ginny loved brushing their hair. After the party, I drew a picture of Ginny with Kirsten. This all happened before I knew how to paint. The picture wasn’t good, but I know Ginny liked it because she put it in her scrapbook next to the invitation for the party, which was of Alice and the White Rabbit but with different letters cut out of magazines so that it said Ginny in Wonderland.


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from DOOMSDAY, or How to Outrun Daryl Hannah’s El Camino


{ skid year | Daryl Hannah’s El Camino }

We came in one part at a time.

In the beerlight of the closed garage, Nick Bustamante welded us together, licking our edges with blue torching flame. Our bondoed front fenders—a serrated grill—nickel-rung side mirrors—a shapely, rounded bed—he twisted his mustache with the grease we gave—deeply-inset wheel wells—small clipper door handles—a long and spritely silver antennae.

On our inner console, Nick Bustamante inscribed:

bad dreams lope across the cityscape,
two loose lions in a field of sugarcane,
love enough at last.

We took shape.

Odometer: 64,493
Model #1GW83

– – –

Nick put us through the paces in the open badlands. We hit the 200 MPH club, trampled Devil’s Fingers, feinted the wispy pillars of sun-blighted Old Men.

Gray wolves tailed our skids, leaps joyous in our exhaust. Buzzards flew victory laps.

We’d never been kept out past dusk. Never bottomed out to transcendent panorama. Never thrived in the unholy glower of the mountain-perched bighorns. And we’d never met the Privateer, until his black-tinted windows and sharp maroon body filled our mirrors and his rumble seized our cabin.

We were running light. Miles to go before the garage. Some of us thought it’d be last stand. Then Nick Bustamante said más rápido, rolled down the window, and flew the fuck you flag of his long-boned finger.

We burst through a gas seep. Four tires purled the air and we landed bit, on packed sand. Western Diamondbacks munched beneath our tires. Privateer closing in.

We took a curled horse path, went up through the gears for a bit of distance, angling for the arroyo’s plateau. We busted a quarter-mile patch of Barrel, yellow and red spines flaring in our skids.

Nick took a look out the window, at the drop below, wind-whipped hair a black and silver pack of mustangs. Mierda, he said, a gully. A long way to drop and a short time to get there. Privateer kissed our bumper, a bump and run, to acquaint us with landslide. Nick parried by taking us against the rock’s face. His eyes were two tornados dry of wet. Our fenders scraped the shale.

We flipped the blower, flared flame. It was sleepwalking. We’re not Daryl Hannah’s El Camino for nothing. Nick Bustamante popped a bottle against his teeth and it frothed warm and yellow about upholstery. We drank deeply from foam and crevice. Privateer grew smaller, manageable, in the rearview.

Isn’t it beautiful to pass muster.

Nick angled us for the canyon. We caught the lift, sailed the gorge. The last thing we saw was Privateer fishtail to furious termination. His growl, though, we heard for miles.

There was no time to spare. We had several generations of Nick’s adversaries to Housecall.


* * *





Vincent James is from El Paso, Texas, and lives and writes in Colorado, where he is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. There, he serves as the 2019-2020 Associate Editor of Denver Quarterly. James’ first novel, Swerve, a metaphysical detective story, is forthcoming from Astrophil Press (2019). As a photographer, James’ work has appeared in Vogue Australia, Glamour, Marie Claire, and Foam and can be viewed online at


Doomsday is a triptych of conceptually-linked novellas in the tradition of Flaubert’s Three Stories, Modiano’s Suspended Sentences, and Perec’s Three. Beholden to aspects of the metaphysical detective genre, Doomsday concerns hunting and being hunted in physical, psychological, and metaphysical states, and seeks to reason with the conceptual workings of violence as a primary gravity of the universe.

In “Vacancies”, an accomplished hitman, a ten-year-old girl, and an enigmatic coordinator cross paths over a single photograph with dire and unexpected consequences among a cast of supernatural sympathizers, seductive estheticians, faceless errand boys, tyrant landlords, and coteries of ritualistic hitmen.

In “Doomsday, or How to Outrun Daryl Hannah’s El Camino,” generations of the Jones Family are plagued by dark & uncanny events, from life-altering tragedies to nuisances mundane and weird. Told through vignette encounters, we hitch with the Joneses through the New Mexican landscape; through myth & rumor, adolescence & adulthood, and each individual’s reckonings. There rides in the shadows, after all, Daryl Hannah’s El Camino.

“Rady, or Squirrelhunter,” tells the story of a fictional serial killer, William J. Rady, who stalked the country between 1970 to 1987. In this metaphysical detective story, discordant facts furnish non-cohesive case files, compiled by state detectives with no knowledge of each other, or the linked nature of the murders. As we follow a survivor of Rady’s violence, Lorna Watson (a Kentucky belle disinherited by her father’s vice) and Marlene Allegheny (a Palm Springs socialite with spunk & spine) a narrative of determinism and retributive violence unfolds.