Daiquiris at the End of the World by Connor Saparoff Ferguson

I’m still trying to figure out if this toucan behind the bar is real, and I’m running out of time to ever know.

When the alarm first went off, there was a pantomime of general panic. I went up to our room in a daze and opened the door to find my wife, naked, surrounded by what looked to be every last hotel cabana boy. Honestly, I admired her for throwing whatever that was together so quickly.

By the time I came back downstairs, a good portion of the guests and staff had spilled onto the beach, faces turned up to the sun and arms outspread as if in ecstasy. I made for the bar.

It was empty except for Mike, the bartender, who was drying the giant margarita glasses. He held each one briefly up to the light, then chucked it at the wall paneled in fake bamboo. Crash.

“Are you still serving?”

“Sure,” he said. “Why not?” Crash.

“What’s a good last drink?” I ask, taking a seat just outside of the glasses’ trajectory.


“Hit me.”

He jumped up on the back bar to pull a bottle down from the top shelf, produced two limes and appeared to cut them in midair, shook the drink vigorously for no more than five seconds, then strained the pearlescent liquid into a tiny coupe glass that had materialized in front of me.

“That’s a daiquiri?”

“A real one.” He rinsed the shaker and set it upside down on the edge of the bar, ready for the next customer. “I’m not really sure how it ended up referring to those blended strawberry-pineapple things.”

I took a sip. It was crisp and tart, with an unexpected dry snap from the rum.

“Wow,” I said, and drained the rest. Mike was already shaking me a second one. I thought that despite everything else, there was nothing sadder in that moment than the fact that I had almost died without knowing what a real daiquiri was.

That’s when I noticed the toucan, nestled in a pile of rope on the top shelf behind the bar. It regarded me with an eye like a drop of crude oil.

“You’re not going to join me?” I asked Mike.

“Nah. I’m eleven years sober, as a matter of fact.”

“Well, sure, but you know…” I indicated the herd on the beach, each of whom looked as though they were accepting a hug from an invisible, floating friend. Mike laughed, more to himself than to me, and threw another glass. Crash.

“A promise isn’t worth much if you welch on it as soon as things start to go south. Even a promise to yourself.”

“Well, more power to you.” I raised the glass to him and knocked it back.

The toucan’s feathers look real enough, but I’m still not sure. Assuming it’s real, I feel almost as sad as I did about the daiquiri, thinking of the poor bird ending his existence pickled and stuffed, watching two poor loners cheerlessly await the end of the world.

A nearly subsonic rumbling creeps into the edges of our hearing. Mike and I look at the ceiling and shrug to each other.

“Another one for the road?”

“Coming right up,” he says. A moment later he sets the familiar coupe down with one hand and the toucan down with the other.

“I saw you looking at him, and I think you should have him.”

“You sure?” I pick up the bird like some precious orb and run my thumb over one of his leathery feet. “Hey, do you know if this thing’s real?”

“Course he’s real,” Mike says and tosses another glass. Crash. “For another minute or so, at least.”

I stroke the toucan’s head, bring it very close to my face, and peer into the inky eye. Nothing but blackness. Mike throws the last margarita glass (crash) and flips on the stereo, which starts to play “Iko Iko” by The Dixie Cups. I tuck the bird under my arm and stand up to take the last sip from the bottom of the glass.



Connor Saparoff Ferguson is a writer and translator whose work has appeared in Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Baltimore Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he lives in Boston.

Postcards by Eva M. Schlesinger

Acey’s parents wanted her to get a job. “For Social Security,” her mother said.

“Anti-social insecurity.” Acey smirked.

“And so your employer can pay your health insurance,” her father added brightly, so brightly Acey had to put on her shades. Her new wraparounds. They wrapped around her face and shielded her from her parents.

“Must you?” Acey’s mother sighed. “You have such a pretty face.”

“Must be that age,” Acey’s father said.

Acey blinked, taking a mental picture she titled “Parents Trap Daughter At Kitchen Table.” She imagined the scene on a postcard she showed to passerby. Out loud she announced, “Six-squared.”

“That right, dear. You’re thirty-six now.” Acey’s mother squeezed her hand. Her mother’s hand felt like a soapy sponge. It was a soapy sponge. Acey laid it on the nice, clean, plastic sunflower tablecloth to give it a rest from dishwashing. Even sponges deserved a vacation.

“You’d look more attractive if you flattened down your hair,” Acey’s mother said, drying her hands on an old gold dishtowel. The towel showed maidens in blue frocks milking cows. If you touched a cow in the right place, it mooed.

Acey touched the cow’s stomach.

“Moo,” the cow responded.

“That’s cow for I like my hair,” Acey said.

“Moo,” said the cow.

“Acey,” Mother warned.

“I didn’t do it. That cow has a life of its own.”

“I hope you’re spelling ‘its’ properly,” Acey’s father Sternly said. His name was Sternly, but his colleagues called him Stern. He turned a page of The Daily Dairy Diary, which the cow community published for milk drinkers.

“Its—no apostrophe,” Acey recited. “May I please be excused?”

“Excused?” Acey’s mother glanced up from bed sheet folding. She was a sportive bed sheet folder. She didn’t do it professionally. She didn’t do it commercially. Sometimes she practiced on stationery sheets.

“Thank you.” Acey remembered she was six-squared and could do as she pleased. As she got up, her mind’s eye snapped another shot, “The Excused Need No Excuse.”

“No allowance for you this week.” Stern rustled the newsprint.

“Then I’ll get a job,” Acey said.

“Our daughter’s come to her senses,” her parents chorused, beaming.


“And this postcard depicts NuRotic at night,” Acey told the crowd. Tourists loved her tours of the postcard racks.

“Could you please speak up? You have a soft-spoken voice,” said a lady in an embroidered neon pink short-sleeved dress and high heels.

“NuRotic at night.” Acey’s shout made the cards rattle in their perch.

“Why, it looks just like Yew-Ott, our Eastern Seaboard gem.” The lady’s eyelashes tickled the photo of a twinkling star alone in the mist. “Isn’t that right next door?”

Acey didn’t respond. Her picturesque hometown postcards enticed those who, stuck in the usual drawbridge traffic, wanted to stretch their legs and gulp in sea salt air, before climbing back in their cars. She didn’t want to reveal that to the woman and lose her clientele. She wanted to present her hometown as an exotic locale.

“My favorite postcard is this one of the beach,” Acey continued. “See how the rocks kiss the sand and surf?”

“How do you know they’re kissing?” A man in a white tea shirt sneered. The shirt was manufactured from tea leaves and smelled like the earth after a good soaking.

There was one in every crowd, Acey noticed. “This over here,” she said, trying to ignore the man. Her shades were a cool reassurance against her cheekbones. Good thing her wraparounds were still around, since he reminded her of Stern, and she needed protection. “This over here,” she repeated, yelling, in case anyone fell prey to her soft-spoken voice. “This rack has the best deal in NuRotic. Twenty cents a card or six for a dollar.”

“Is that Canadian or U.S.?” the man asked. His skateboard click-clicked when he flipped it. “How do you know it’s the best deal? You do a survey?”

“Serious inquiries only,” Acey said. She picked up an orange megaphone. “As a matter of fact, I did do a survey. The drugstore down the street came in close second with twenty-five cents a postcard. American dollars. I am doing research on worldwide postcard currency.”

“Ooh, exciting,” a woman murmured. “Very exciting.” Her aroma lingered, a familiar guest, in Acey’s nose. Her mother’s lavender dish soap. Acey had left her parents behind, only to find them on her tour.

“Any other questions?” Acey was tired of standing on her feet. Granted, life could be worse and she could be standing on her hands.

A woman jumped up and down. “Can we actually see these picture postcard sights?”

No one was satisfied with a mere glimpse into a snapshot, someone else’s idea of how life should be. They wanted it for themselves: more, more, more.




Eva M. Schlesinger has received the Literal Latte Food Verse Award and is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including three whose covers she designed. Her flash has appeared in Atlas & Alice, Tattoo Highway, Riggwelter, former cactus, and elsewhere. Eva has twice been a Grand Slam contender on The Moth Stage, where she made the audience of 1,400 laugh nonstop.