The Virgin, the Boys, and the Staircase
— fiction by Marc Landas

There was the ivory-white statue of the Virgin Mary in the dimly lit chamber between the steel entrance and swinging wooden doors that led to the eastern most hallway of the crumbling old school. Every day, she greeted hordes of students, rushing in from their orgiastic twenty-minute lunch period. She blessed them with her quiet downward stare and tenderly clasped hands. Nobody paid her much attention – not even a sarcastic counter-blessing or reverential nod. Yet the day the effigy was temporarily removed for deep cleaning, a flood of inquiries greeted then-principal Klein about her status. When will she be back? Why is she gone? Why is she being cleaned? Will she be okay? It had nothing to do with religion and had everything to do with the need to know that some things in the world were constant. Everyone needs an anchor. In the end, the statue was returned to her regular spot, and everyone sighed in relief as they resumed ignoring the Virgin of the Staircase.

Marc Landas is the author of The Fallen: A True Story of American POWs and Japanese Wartime Atrocities (John Wiley & Sons, 2004) and is a contributor to an anthology about Queens, The Forgotten Borough (SUNY Press, 2011).  He is also currently documenting New York City's artistic community through portraits His short stories have been published in literary journals such as Asian Voices and In Stereo. He has contributed to a variety of news sources including Fox Sports, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, Kevchino, and the LA Times. He currently resides in New York City. In a separate project called The Meat Eaters, he is exploring human beings’ relationship with meat and the implications of carnivory on human biology, behavior, and culture. He maintains an informal blog, The Open Eye.