Life Jacket

Brett knows the routine by now as they arrive at Tuttle Park, gathering an assortment of balls, mitts, and a Frisbee out of the trunk, though odds are he has lugged them out here for nothing. He knows Charlie loves him, but that as an only child, his son craves the company of other kids. Brett may be able to extort ten minutes of dad time at the end when they’re already late for dinner, risking Holly’s ire for pushing the whole bed schedule further into the night. When they reach the entrance, Charlie is like a thoroughbred springing out of the gate at Arlington, as he races toward the massive wooden structure that draws him here. There is no playground like it: a cave, castle, fort, tunnel network and gauntlet all rolled into one. Its sprawling warren most resembles some manmade reef set down on the edge of a fi eld, small elusive creatures darting in and out. Charlie scales a hidden stairway and manages to join a group of chasing boys, tags along as seamlessly as a pickpocket slips through a crowd.

Brett drops the jumble of sports equipment next to one of the picnic tables. Tuttle Park has always vexed him because every view seems to be obstructed, and his six-year-old is always disappearing in its catacombs. It bothers Brett less than it used to, but he is still spooked by the myriad tragedies he runs across in the newspapers—people get killed on golf courses, disappear into sinkholes, perish in their own beds when a twin-engine Cessna plummets out of the sky. Especially with children, accidents seem to lurk everywhere and require a constant vigilance. Charlie’s wearing a purple sweatshirt that says Mischief University, and fl ashes of this insignia are the only way to follow his movements. Even so, amid all the hiding places, it would be easier to track a rare bird in the wild.

From Tom's Blog

December 20, 2017

“Home and Castle” coming out in January

The editing and proofreading and thousand other things that go into putting a book together are thankfully finished and my story collection Home and Castle is at last coming out in early January. (see www.snakenationpress.org for the Editor’s statement and further details). Most of the stories in it were originally published in literary journals such  (…read more)

About The Author

THOMAS BENZ graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame. He recently won the 2017 Serena McDonald Kennedy Award for a short story collection called “Home and Castle.” The book is to be published by Snake Nation Press in the fall. In the last several years, he has had fifteen stories  (…read more)