Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
About This
How to Submit

Gone Lawn 11
Summer, 2013
guest edited by Yarrow Paisley

Featured painting, ©2013 by Pd Lietz :

Featured Excerpt
Short Prose
Very Short Prose

Robert Vaughan

The Hazards of Moving In with a Couple

1.    Are We There Yet?

I move into a basement apartment. With a married couple. He bides his time, making sure she is asleep. Waits for snores. Those pills sure do magic. Then the lure of the stranger, elusive and furtive, lurks in the dark. Hypnotized. Heart pounds him from the bed, slip-sliding across the cement floor.

Monday: watches reruns of “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
Tuesday: snarfs moon pies. Every odd pie, practices breast strokes in the hot tub.
Wednesday: Cruises porn sites while wearing her bar and panties. Writes rhetorical questions on post-it notes like How Should You Be When I Die?
Thursday: Buys $1,000.00 worth of books from Amazon, cancels them before dawn, except a book on transgendered pygmys surrounding an Indonesian colony.
Friday: counts sheep (literally, they live on a farm and the fence was broken). Repeats B-a-a-a-h whenever he sees a shooting star.

2.    Basement Tapes

She never wakes up, in endless loop-de-loop. Not during the earthquake. Not when he sells all the sheep and auctions the house. At first she suspects damage from the vacancy, from the tremolos and recitatives. She winces at the Ponce De Leon statue erected in the pantry. Wonders when they grew the buffalo mozzarella in the salad. She makes an impermanent list and leaves it tacked to the stairs:

Do not invite the neighbors.
Hire a cleaning and wrecking crew.
Start the new year on the left foot. Repeat.
Take the job offer with the Drifting Fish Farm in Hawaii.

A Wonderful Life

I moved into a basement apartment. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. Then I remembered that Christmas in 1997, momma dropped me off to see Santa. She said I was a little too old, at 16, older than even some of the elves who helped Santa for the photo ops. I didn’t listen to her, she was all bitter since the d-i-v-o-r-c-e. Or maybe it was because of the chemo. Either way, I got to Macy’s right at dusk, and took the stairs down into the basement. The entire space had been turned into Santa’s workshop. I made sure it was the same Santa as last year. Yup. The one who smelled like Crown Royal, like my Daddy used to. And I made sure I was the last one to sit on Santa’s lap. Well after the elves had all been released for the day. After Santa blew me on the present wrapping table, and wiped up. Then he took me to see that movie at Lincoln Center, “A Wonderful Life.” It was the best Christmas present I’ve ever had. I love that darn movie. Ever since then, basements have always held a special place in my heart.

Dirty Laundry

I was running up and down our two flights of stairs to do eight loads of laundry in the basement. Oh jeezus, wait, I have to show you the basement. Just a sec, I’ll send a pic.

This is one of the storage rooms, or so I’ve been told. We could use one, but there are all these ancient crusty pipes and NO ELECTRIC LIGHTS. For serious, who would venture down there in the dark? Once I was feeling very courageous and stepped into one of the rooms. I couldn’t see much, so I stuck my hand out, and everything I touched was covered in thick mounds of dirt. When I put my foot on something soft on the floor, I fled. Ick.

See what I mean? Scary… scary…

Who knows what’s down there.

I’m sending another photo of what’s behind me when I am at the washing machines. There is no electricity in that part, either, so I had to use my flash. Normally it is inky black, and I’m afraid someone is hiding from the Arctic cold.

And then there’s the area with the washers and dryers where there’s not one light bulb but two! Two light bulbs! It’s opulent, I tell you. Hilton all the way. I especially love what they’ve done with the linoleum pastel floor.

As a rule, I won’t do laundry at night. Or during storms. Or when I’m jittery. Those imaginary homeless wear old facemasks that stick to their oozing pores and they have chainsaws or jack-knife fingers and they’re super tall, hunched over with one dead eye. I swear.

I have to go down there twice more tonight, because I’ve got loads in both the washer and dryer. Perhaps I will take Oscar with me so he can scare off predators with those big, moony eyes of his.

And although I did it, usually I do not advocate mixing medication with alcohol. That is for the Presleys and Minellis of this world, and well, perhaps, if I’m on vacation and have few, if any, responsibilities.

Here’s one last photo tip: when trying to capture your kitty’s big, dozey eyes, do not use the flash three inches from his face in a dark basement room.
He’ll just look squinty and kind of decrepit.


I moved into a basement apartment. Lower Haight, near Dogshit Park. It was somebody’s birthday party in Golden Gate Park, so I asked Herb. We were dating, well not really. More like fucking without keys. No exchanges: body fluids, dna, vacations, dreams. Outstanding hard-core sex, practically anonymous. Herb stayed distant so our strangeness persisted. He avoided the basement with its washer/dryer and my landlord’s ant/rat traps strategically placed in recessed corners. It was the first signs that Herb was a bit of a pussy. Plus I knew I’d run into Shaun at the party. So, en route I started a fight with Herb about wearing socks with his sandals. He slithered off to get wasted with the boys on Duboce. Sure enough, Shaun was there, so I sat on his hand. Did I mention I hate underwear? It was how we used to initiate. I told him that I’d moved into a basement. He whispered did you add a dungeon? His lips against my hair, hand fluttering under my thrift store dress like a little bird. Like a nest of expectant goslings. A rush came over me and I knew why Shaun had left that summer. Mercy. Would I ever gain back what I might never erase? His hand was pointing toward the park exit. Let’s chase this, he said.


I mentioned when we met that I was nuts. That was just before I moved my horse into the basement. That same day, I air-guitared the cars You’re just what I needed. You laughed, lounging back on a filthy folded futon thrown down on a parquet mahogany floor. After the ceiling caved in, I felt I might be sleeping, will you enlighten me? You seem to have way wider sensibilities. And this horse is eating us out of house and home. First our comforter, then the dresser drawers. Next it’s either you. Or me.

Robert Vaughan leads writing roundtables at Redbird-Redoak Writing. His short fiction “10,000 Dollar Pyramid” was a finalist in the Micro-Fiction Awards 2012. He is senior flash fiction editor at JMWW and Lost in Thought magazines. His book, Flash Fiction Fridays, is at Amazon. His poetry chapbook, Microtones, is from Cervena Barva Press.