…As I walk out with into the shadowy, vacant lot, while putting the bills away, I notice a line of black ballpoint script that runs underneath the creepy pyramid with the eye at the top and the banner in Latin which, owing to my linguistic ignorance, seems like an incantation. The message says: “Happy 4th birthday Miranda. Love, Peter,” the giver’s name running into the eagle’s talons. There is an undeniable simplicity to such a gift but wasn’t this irrefutable evidence of the man’s cheapness and torpor, that he was lacking the energy even to buy the child a decent stuffed animal?
This seemed to have been happening ever since Lina fled. A few weeks ago I had picked up a few shirts from the cleaners and when I received my change from the Asian woman who seemed so calm that she could be in a trance, I noticed there was another note which said: “Sweetheart, can you pick up the cake from Tortelli’s before three? I have a hundred other things to do and it’s on the way back from the office. I know you can do it. Greta.” It was hard to imagine this rash of missives unless we lived in a world where all the trees had been shorn and we were reduced to using every scrap of paper to effect our written communications. There seemed an epidemic of disrespect for the national currency. Would people eventually feel free to put mustaches and monstrous space alien ears on the man who turned the tide at Valley Forge or engineered the bill of rights?
The next evening, after renting a video at Cinema Palace, there was yet another memo, which weaved around the seals and across part of the floral border in tiny purple script, “Greg, I can’t believe what you said to me the other night. And right in front of you know who…Amber.” I have never been much of a note writer, though I was once tempted to express my profound gratitude to a comely waitress after she had written her name with such a flourish and added a smiling face along side it. But I thought this might lead to some criminal investigation and settled for a ridiculous tip instead. Then just two days ago, going underneath a viaduct on my way back from the hardware store, I glimpsed what appeared to be a number of song lyrics or bad poetry but on the abutment it said, “Carly, I thought we had had a deal. When is it going to stop?… Lou.” Messages suddenly seemed to be everywhere, coursing through the air unseen, on underpasses next to Utopian girlscout murals, surfacing along the erratic routes of commerce…
~ published by Wilmington Blues
December 20, 2017
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)
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)