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Opium5: Bad Company
Opium5: Bad Company
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

Adrian gives an overview of the book:

Our original theme for Opium5 was Famous Dead Authors. We were aiming to pretend that our authors were dead, and that it was only post mortem in Opium that their work was being lionized. But the more we thought about it, the more the celebrated-in-death concept seemed antiquated. Now no one has to wait for celebrity anymore. These days, one need only streak the White House lawn, post the video on YouTube, and voila: famous. For this issue, we decided we didn’t want to contribute to the voyeuristic lift-’em-up and tear-’em-down compulsion that keeps our modern celebrities acting so badly. So we turned the cameras around. Instead of focusing on the masterminds behind the work, we zoomed in on the writing. Our new old concept: let the stories speak for themselves. We present Opium5 to you as an alternative to the seedy underbelly of the celebrity occult, high-brow and...
Read full overview »

Our original theme for Opium5 was Famous Dead Authors. We were aiming to pretend that our authors were dead, and that it was only post mortem in Opium that their work was being lionized. But the more we thought about it, the more the celebrated-in-death concept seemed antiquated. Now no one has to wait for celebrity anymore. These days, one need only streak the White House lawn, post the video on YouTube, and voila: famous.

For this issue, we decided we didn’t want to contribute to the voyeuristic lift-’em-up and tear-’em-down compulsion that keeps our modern celebrities acting so badly. So we turned the cameras around. Instead of focusing on the masterminds behind the work, we zoomed in on the writing. Our new old concept: let the stories speak
for themselves.

We present Opium5 to you as an alternative to the seedy underbelly of the celebrity occult, high-brow and low-brow. So shut off  the TV, turn off  your computer, and relax with some good, old-fashioned,
fictional companionship.

We promise you’ll love it.
Elizabeth Koch & Todd Zuniga

Read an excerpt »

The Old-Fashioned Way
Story by Thomas Cooper
estimated reading time: 3:26

Here he is again, the old doddering bastard who for weeks has been
mistakenly laying flowers on my poor wife Adelaide’s grave. Every Sunday
afternoon I hobble the half-mile from the nursing home and sit in the hilly
cemetery on the bench beneath the poplar, paying my respects. And again
today the man in the brown suit squats reverently in her tombstone shadow,
placing down a bouquet of drugstore lilies in the grass. He sprawls for a long
time across her grave, weeping and moaning, carrying on hysterically, and
today I’m having none of it. “Excuse me, fella,” I say, caning my way up to
him, “I’m afraid you have the wrong goddamn grave.”
Here we are, two feeble old men in bad brown suits, facing off on a May
afternoon right over Adelaide’s plot. Gray-browed and cavern-chested, this
man looks like time has done far more to him than I can. Still, I tell him if he
knows what’s best for him, if he wants to avoid serious bodily injury, he’ll
find his own dead woman to mourn.
Then, the nerve of the guy, he introduces himself as Archie and says,
“I’m afraid it is you, sir, who is mistaken.”
We settle this in the old-fashioned way, like the old-fashioned gentlemen
we are: Archie drives us in his Cutlass to a nearby pub. It’s late afternoon
and the college boys are cozied up against the bar on their stools, staring
at sorority-girl butt. None of them, I’m sure, knows what it’s like to have
their histories questioned by a foolish stranger about to learn a lesson.
“What can I say about Adelaide that you don’t already know?” this
Archie says from across our back corner booth. He stares poetically at the
smoky ceiling as my hands shake around my beer bottle. “Looked like the
Clabber corn-starch girl. Used to have the worst headaches, but she kept her
spirits up. Loved to dance, the Lindy Hop. And plus, the thing that always
broke my heart, she saw Spanish galleons in the clouds. They threw away
the mold when they made that woman. So, you knew her too?”
I hate to laugh in a situation as serious as this, but I do, right in his senile
face. This man is clearly in a late stage of dementia and never knew my
poor darling wife at all. I have half a mind to strike him over the head with
my cane and set the record straight, when I remember one of the things
Adelaide used to say about me: that I had a mean streak as wild and wide as
the Colorado River. How she put up with me all of those years is still beyond
me, but she was capable of seeing the best in a person, and she stood by my
side the old-fashioned way, like all the good women of her generation. If
abiding this charlatan means honoring her memory even just a little bit,
then so be it.
“Sure, corn starch and clouds,” I say. “I hear you. Go ahead, let it all
out.”
“Ach, it almost hurts too much to continue,” Archie says. Sunk in some
kind of reverie, he rests his glazed eyes on the table. When he mentions
Adelaide’s sad life, her loneliness, her childlessness, I think that these are
things that could be true of anyone. But then when he mentions that time
she broke her arm at the skating rink and was too embarrassed to go to the
doctor’s, I get up, something in my chest flaring like flint against steel. I
settle this the old-fashioned way, shooting out a big calloused fist that hits
him square in the face, because when you get to be my age, history is the
only thing you have left, and I’ll be goddamned if anybody’s going to take
that away from me.

Thomas Cooper lives in Florida and has work currently appearing or forthcoming in Lake Effect, Bayou,
Pikeville Review, and Storyglossa, among other places. He’s at work on a collection of stories and a very bad
rock album.

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Adrian

Adrian Todd Zuniga is the founding editor of Opium Magazine and a co-founder of the Literary Death Match reading series. A Pushcart Prize nominee, his fiction has appeared most recently in Canteen, and online...

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