Kenneth Levine

Kenneth Levine is an attorney who writes short stories. His work has been published or accepted for publication in New Plains Review, Anak Sastra, Thuglit, Imaginaire, Jerry Jazz Musician, Skewed Lit, Angry Old Man Magazine, a short story anthology entitled Fresh, and a short story anthology entitled Twisted. He is the winner of a Jerry Jazz Musician short story contest and the featured writer in an Anak Sastra issue.

A Sample of:


by Kenneth Levine 

     Outside the rats squeal and their claws scratch. I slap my hands together, then drink my Cisco Red while I listen to them scatter.

      After the third swallow I’m awake enough to remember the Sunday morning when John’s eyes shined brightly with youthful pride as he said “checkmate” for the first time and I tilted my king on its side to acknowledge his victory. John, who was twelve and had been playing chess with me every Sunday morning for five years, ran from the den to the kitchen into the open arms of his mother, exclaiming, “Mom, I did it! I won! I beat dad!” Alice fried eggs, buttered toast and poured orange juice and coffee and we ate a celebratory breakfast. When John bolted to his friend to report his win, Alice thanked me. I almost told her I didn’t lose on purpose as she had been requesting but I realized I was responsible for his victory because I had taught him how to play chess. We kissed, went to our bedroom and made love.

       I take another three gulps and with my eyes closed I can picture my Alice as she leaned over me with her breasts clapping and her strawberry locks tickling my nose. It’s an incomplete image. I can’t focus. I can’t feel her. She’s gone.

       I squat, lift up the flap cut into one of the long sides of the corrugated, cardboard box that was previously the packaging for a Kenmore refrigerator and crawl into the alcove beneath Houston Street. Clasping a brown paper bag in my left hand and a stick to ward off rats in my right, I walk slowly through the stifling heat, grateful for a 600 foot train that fans the subterranean air as it roars past. I walk two blocks in the dark with a wall of the tunnel to my right while swatting rodents and being careful to avoid stepping on other mole people and the remnants of their crack pipes, empty wine bottles and hypodermic needles.


TO READ ABOUT THE REST OF Checkmate by Kenneth Levine, and other great works of literature, download THE second ISSUE OF CROOKED TEETH: Winter IN THE CITY