Not Our War

Pa insisted I come along with him to see Pake off. I didn’t want him to go at all. Jefferson doesn’t have a proper bus terminal like a real town, so we stood out in the parking lot like shoppers. “Just  always do what your sergeants tell you to do, but remember you’re a Barnes and don’t take shit…

Not This Again

Aunt Anne had spent the prize money many times over before she even entered the contest. Mother was worried about her. “She’s always been like this,” Mother said over breakfast. “The cart before the horse.” “Hmm hmm,” said father. He had his face in the paper, clearly not listening. Dottie knitted her brows. “What’s that…

Maybe I Always Knew

He’s not coming out. Not tonight, anyway. I must have known. I think I did, anyway. It’s such a cliché. Late nights. Straight to voicemail. I haven’t told anyone. Not my sister, not my mom. What would they say? Tell me that they saw it right away, that they saw what kind of man I…

Big Enough For Flying

Every year the prize-winning hog just gets bigger. At last year’s State Fair, he weighed over 1900 pounds. It is always the same hog, Junior. Lying next to him is Queenie, younger and a few hundred pounds smaller. Waiting in the wings, you might say, since one day Junior will die and it will be Queenie’s turn. I squeeze…

Chaim

It was a different city than the one I left in September,  when the desperate final heat blanketed the roofs and buildings and filled the town with odors of diesel fuel and rotting trash. This was a crisp city, the wind cold on my cheek and wafting scents of wood smoke, coffee, baking bread.The trees along the streets and in the parks had reached…

Every City Is The Same

” “No, I don’t feel like it. You guys go on without me.” She picked up the remote and accidentally unmuted the TV. The sound was sudden, deafening. “HEMORRHOID REMEDIES, THEN YOU …” She fumbled the phone while she thumbed the remote. “Sorry. No, just the TV. Hotel TVs are always so loud.” She nodded…

The Fabulous Flocks

“You brung her the ice tea like she ask?” “Yes’m.” “Then go on out there and sit. You know she likes to talk about the cars goin’ by.” “Do I have to?” We went through this every Sunday. Gemmie would make Aunt Ethel an ice tea and tell me to go sit with the old lady on…

Isle of Dogs

Most disagreements boil down to simple differences of opinion or taste. Perhaps manners. When it’s over, you will remain friends. With Ky, arguments always went too far. It was life-and-death with him, everything a struggle. Being his friend was a trying experience. As is so often the case, this weakness was also his greatest strength. Unquestioning loyalty to  friends, tenacity…

This Passes for Wisdom

“What do you want?” His eyes crinkled above the grizzled beard. “Another of them beers, for starters.” I pulled a can from the six-pack and handed it to him. He sipped, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, set the beer on the tarp. He peered into the sky. “Looks like we’re just…