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99 CENTS A READ

The sale is over. But a good story never dies. Especially on the internet.

To those who purchased the 3:2 issue of Echo Ink Review, you should know that I have always appreciated your rapier wit, your singular sense of integrity, your strong chin. Always.
For those who didn't purchased the aforementioned literary magazine but are curious enough to spend  two minutes to get to the bottom of this "Bric-a-brac" thing, here's your chance.

The editor of Echo Ink Review called it "Scandalous." What will you call it?

cover art by Robert Howell

Bric-a-Brac
by Dan Lundin 
She may be confused as one, but Audrey is not a kleptomaniac. While her urges are irresistible, the items she steals are never trivial and the theft is always obsessively well-planned out. She is not a thief either, not exactly. A better label would be theft addict, a criminal who steals not for profit but for social gain, one who rationalizes her illicit hobby with feeling of unfairness and entitlement. Audrey, you see, steals exclusively from the apartments of friends.
Audrey’s do or die while trying goal is to have most fantastically decorated apartment in the city. She plays by rules all her own, painstakingly taking things to lessen the cool of the space of her friends, treasuring a departure that results in even the smallest degree of downgrade. After lifting the unsecured (or in any case under-secured) and much treasured item, Audrey incorporates it into her own d├ęcor with plans to display it in private or with out of town guests exclusively, until, days later, like Poe’s beating heart, it gets the best of her, causing her to run outside in a hysterical panic with the Yashica camera/chunk of the Berlin Wall/antique peg leg/collection of Andy Warhol Polaroids and offer it to a stranger, the first willing party she can find to care for it, to not suspect her gift as something toxic.
Chelsea could hardly believe it when she spotted her sculpture in the apartment building adjacent to Audrey’s. Waiting in the living room as Audrey changed her outfit for the fourth consecutive time, Chelsea had gone to Audrey’s window, drawn by the birds on the sill, wondering, with sudden serendipitous interest, why birds would ever chose urban living in the first place. The sculpture was a one of a kind piece, an offering from an artist friend, a barter for sex, and up until recently, it had anchored her living room, pulling disparate pieces into cohesion by giving the room a focus and announcing its theme. The piece had gone missing after her third annual winter solstice party, and she had no doubt that she had found it at last.
“Audrey!” she shouted. “Audrey, look at this! You’re never going to believe it!”
“Why can’t my ass just fuck off already,” Audrey complained, entering the room. “I haven’t touched a fry since New Year’s.”
“Come here, would you! Look, across the street and down a floor, my sculpture!”
“What?”
“It’s right there. In the window of the fucking thief!”
Our happiness is relative. Gauging it requires comparison, comparison to others, neighbors, cover models, news correspondents, siblings and friends. Audrey understands this instinctively. She would be sacrificing biweekly lunches with Chelsea, her solstice party, other miscellaneous stuff that will surely be missed, but it could not be helped.
“Chelsea,” Audrey said, quite matter of fact. “I have something to tell you. A month before you called off your engagement, I slept with Rob.”

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