Beanery Online Literary Magazine

July 13, 2011

Pinto Man



Mark Sliwa

     The television and VCR were on the blink. I’m a firm believer of selling things while they still work or move. A newspaper ad and I was $700 richer. 

     Three newspaper days later my brother, Brian, said, “Hey, look at this. A 1977 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV. And it’s only $700.” 

     God forbid keeping that money in my pocket. At the time, my brother and I shared an apartment in Raleigh, North Carolina and the vehicle for sale was only one town away. Being a mechanic, he convinced me to take a look.

     One should always be wary of vintage Italian cars. Remember what Fiat stands for: (more…)

July 2, 2011

Tourism in Brownsville, Pennsylvania



Mark Sliwa

NOTE: This event occurred in 2000.

     The plain white flyer came in the mail, folded twice and secured by a staple. It was an invitation to the Western Pennsylvania Machine Gun Association’s spring shoot. $5.00 admission and they’d have hotdogs and Pepsi too. Reservations required. I made the phone call and signed up for two thinking this would be a great lunch date for my girlfriend.

     Brownsville, Pennsylvania, was the site for this festival. Sadly, it is a city that has long been in the dire straits of a poor economy. Getting off the highway and into downtown, plywood panels cover many windows on Main Street’s business district. Destitute figures lean in shady doorways. The architecture itself still inspires. Before the collapse of the steel industry this must have been a vibrant place. Time does march on though and some places don’t keep step.

     The flyer’s directions said go south down Main Street, then at the edge of town go three clicks further, and make a left on an unmarked dirt road. It looked like we were headed straight into a DMZ. The dirt road was there and pulling out of the entrance was rural America’s staff car of choice: the ratty old pickup truck. Two sketchy looking occupants were in the cab; local security I assumed. A metal tag adorned the truck’s grill: Western Pennsylvania Machine Gun Association. They must be (more…)

June 8, 2011

The Sunshine State




     Through the dark night, cement highway strips marked time with a rhythmic clump-clump. Stuffed near the back of the bus in an odorous sea of musty upholstery and unwashed humanity came one thought: Go Greyhound! I made the mental note of the $15 remaining in my wallet as we crossed the Florida state line as I curled up in my seat. For further comfort, a small portable radio pressed closer to the ear.

     Two months earlier, in snow-bound Pennsylvania, I had attended a college job fair. Recruiters from Disney World Orlando were there and a paid gig in sunny Florida didn’t sound like a bad idea. They promised an intern sales host position plus lodging for a six month term.

     My new home was Snow White Village. We new-hires got to reside in a park of fourty-eight trailers, fenced into a tidy rectangle. Each trailer’s walls were (more…)

March 12, 2011

Lost in My Pasta



Mark Sliwa

     We did the unthinkable. My wife and I showed up without a reservation at a popular restaurant at five minutes before seven on a Saturday night. Now everybody knows that 7:00 pm is the witching hour of chaos at any dining establishment on a weekend evening. 

     The destination was Turillo’s Steak House on top of the mountain and the weather was poor. Snow, ice, and a blanket of fog guided the way to the summit. I had selfish thoughts that less people would be on the road, meaning upon our arrival for dinner we would be treated as unexpected royalty; or at least as royal as the small mountain village of Jennerstown would allow. 

     Pulling up to the restaurant, I spied human shadows against the windows by the front entrance. Didn’t these people know we were coming? How dare they!

     Nonetheless, we were prepared. Anticipating the clogged cattle stall in the lobby, we brought (more…)

March 2, 2011

Black Sea Express



Mark Sliwa

Old woman on the corner

Sipping a brew

5:00 am train coming thru

          Breakfast of the east

          Hammer and sickle rusts

          No longer the beast

Stalin’s eyes clear the track

In ’44, the Red Army (more…)