Dream of Rust and Glass; Bukowski Interview

Of Rust and Glass in more than a publication, it is a community. Our people and their stories make us who we are.

In the case of Dream of Rust and Glass, we asked Midwest writers and poets to do just that: dream. These men and women ask the question, “What if?” and their answers take us to strange, surprising, and surreal new worlds. But who are they? In this Blog series, we are thrilled to introduce you to a selection of Dream’s contributors. It’s not often we lift the proverbial curtain, but these people are more than their work. They are dreamers.

After a brief break to release our newest magazine issue (“Summer,” which can be found on our website OfRustandGlass.com), we’d like to introduce John Bukowski. His most recent thriller novel, Project Suicide, is out now by PathBinder Publishing. Here is an excerpt from his Dream story, “Take me to your Lowenbrau.”



Bart pounded the bar and shook his head. He’d put up with a lot from his friend, but this was the limit.

“You’ve got to be kidding! Tell me you’re kidding.”

 “I’m just saying,” Pete said, “it has never happened, so we don’t know.”

“What do you mean we don’t know? Of course, we know. Anybody in his right mind knows.

“There’s no need to raise your voice,” Pete said. “You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m entitled to mine.”

“But your opinion doesn’t make any logical sense. I’m beginning to think the monotony of the assembly line has monotonized your brain.”

“Pardon me for not having a glamorous job like grocery clerk.”

Bart pointed a cautionary finger. “That’s food service specialist.” He tapped the oak for emphasis. “Senior food service specialist, and second-shift assistant manager, thank you.”

“You guys want another round?” Sam the bartender asked.  

Bart nodded and waved toward the nearly empty glasses. “Let me get this straight. You’re telling me that Batman could take down Superman. Superman? Is that what you’re telling me?”

Pete Wysocki finished the dregs in his mug, then burped. “No, I am saying that they never fought, so we don’t know.”

“He’s frickin’ Superman, for God’s sake.”

Those were the last words Bartolomeo Garibaldi spoke before it happened. He wanted to say more, but his mouth went numb as a drilled tooth. He wanted to reach up to see if his face was still there, but his hand wouldn’t move. At first, he thought he was having a stroke, but if so, Pete was too. Bart saw a blank stare in his friend’s glazed eyes, drool and a few drops of Miller dripping from the corner of Pete’s mouth.

There was no sound, which was the eeriest part of all. The low-level drone of the ballgame and the occasional traffic beeps were gone, as if he’d been suddenly sealed in plastic. The air felt thick as pudding and smelled like the metallic tang that comes after a lightning strike. Something was going to happen. Then it did.

First his glass and then Pete’s began to shake, skittering across the bar like waterbugs. Pete’s mug skidded off the side, but there was no clatter of breaking glass. The bottles lined neatly behind the bar joined the party, vaulting up and down like boozy Rockettes. A fifth of Heaven Hill headed to the floor, followed by some vodka. There was no crash and no pungent smell of booze, just that same metallic tang. Bart’s ears hurt with the sharp, needling ache he sometimes got on planes. He wanted to hold them against the pain and overpressure, but his hands still refused to move.

Just when he thought his eardrums would burst, the glassware ceased dancing and reality came back with a rifle-shot bang. The mirror over the bar cracked, sending a shard of silvered glass into the oaken surface only inches from his hand. The ozone smell got stronger and a flashbulb pop caused his eyes to snap shut, the image of the barroom still burnt into the closed lids.

The electric stink departed, replaced by the familiar smell of old tobacco smoke and booze. Background noise returned, with the announcer saying that the score was three to two in favor of the Reds. Then a foreign voice, one not on the television, added, “Sorry about that.”

Bart could move again. He opened his eyes and turned to see a funny little man dressed in what looked like a leisure suit made of quilted toilet paper. He seemed oddly human, although his askew hair was a strange shade of red, and his face held a glossy sheen that accented pale, almost translucent skin stretched taut around two beady eyes. “That’s the inducer,” he added, holding up a small silver box. “It always assures a grand entrance.” His smile was pleasant, reminding Bart of his first-grade teacher.

“I’m Hamilcar Troska,” he continued. “But you can call me Ham.”


We also had the pleasure to speak with Bukowski about his career and writing. Here is what he had to say:

Question: Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn’t live without?

Answer: Old movies

Q: What inspired your story?

A: {the question} What if an alien was neither a friend nor a conqueror, but rather a crazy person?

Q: Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?

A: Kind of knew. The whole thing came to me as one nugget.

Q: If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters?

A: Assuming we’re not limited by age, George Wendt and John Ratsenberger as the bar flies. Martin Short as the Alien.

Q: What do you consider your all-time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.

A: Originally, it was the Tolkien trilogy; read them several times. But more recently, Stephen King’s Joyland.

Q: How is your Dream story typical or atypical of your writing in general?

A: Typical of my short fiction. I’m a child of the Twilight Zone.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Realism is good, but it should never be boring.

Check in and find out more about John at ThrillerJohnB.net.

Dream of Rust and Glass can be found in print/e-book anywhere you buy your books online. Follow the link below, and delve into Dream to explore worlds created by some of the Midwest’s finest creative minds. Be sure to read John’s story, “Take me to your Lowenbrau,” and leave us a review when you’re done!

Dream of Rust and Glass, Speculations from the Midwest

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