He stood there, at the door, welcoming his guests. Each, he greeted by name, repeating that he was glad to see them and that he hoped they were well and enjoying the holiday season. He had invited everyone he had known over the many years he had lived in the town, as well as some with whom he had only recently become acquainted.Continue reading “The Outsider by E. P. Lande”
World War I was more than 20 years down the drain for most people, but Tommy Heffernan was looking up, with a slight discrediting look on his face, at Tim Kiely the bartender who was talking to or, more to the point, entertaining three drinkers sitting at his bar in Kiely’s Pub. The 2 o’clock sun bounced off Highland Avenue west of Malden Square and tried to come in through the windows shaded from years of accumulated cigarette smoke. Like always, Kiely couldn’t whisper; too much beyond his control, too much audience pull.“I know you boys come all the way from Somerville to hear the stories that grow from here. They come, glory be, without warning, like a knock on the door, trick or treat. For instance, take that lad down there at the other end of the bar, Tommy Heffernan, Colum’s boy. He was scorched in France, really bad. WW I’s green stuff they say. How many years ago’s that? He’s not worked a hard day since he come home from the Kaiser’s playground and might never work a hard day in all his life remaining, though the boy can put away a pint or two with the best of them. This I’ll tell you, though, that this lad, sick or not, for whatever ails him that the gas brought too close, has the softest hands in the whole world. Watch out for the cards in his hands, or a needle and thread.”
He tittered with his half laugh.Continue reading “The Softest Hands by Tom Sheehan”
He knew he’d reached middle age when his legs defied him each morning and when an afternoon snooze became a requisite for a good day.
Gabby abases himself before post-lunch Sabbath dreams. But when he wakes he thinks he is beside himself, caught off-kilter, unbaked, unfinished. It’s like someone’s drawn his outline and not coloured him in.Continue reading “Gabby Gets Some Colour in His Cheeks by Antony Osgood”
Eighty-nine-years-old and he hasn’t a clue. About fucking any of it.
“I’m sorry, my love. I’m so sorry.”Continue reading “Frank by Jane Houghton”
Fiction is a reconstruction of reality, duplicitous by nature because it forestalls the recognition of what exists, what changes, what constitutes the real nature of reality. Easing into narrative is a delicate series of steps, the task of memory and imagination putting flesh to bone, clay to hearth, shape to shapelessness. Night becomes day, for the man sitting still inside the house is like so much firewood waiting to burn, like leaves gathering and recircling, collecting and dispersing in a fierce wind, taking the dead to their last place of refuge. You want him living, breathing, thinking, but imagination is depth and breadth. There is too much to remember, like the broadness of the sea when it rises and collapses.Continue reading “Paper Flowers by Thomas Sanfilip”
Even with a personality of its own, my Saugus River is hard-pressed to be itself… so many things have happened to it, on it, with it, because of it. Did I dream all these scattered events, these small terrors? Perhaps. I was dreamy as a boy, romantic as a young man, possessed now. Possessed.Continue reading “Hard-pressed My River Is by Tom Sheehan”
This appointment came when light tired, this arrangement, this syzygy of him and me and the still threat of a small red star standing some time away at my back, deeper than a grain of memory. I am a quarter mile from him, hard upward on this rugged rock he could look up to if only his eyes would agree once more, and it’s a trillion years behind my head or a parsec I can’t begin to imagine, they tell me even dead perhaps, that star. Can this be a true syzygy if one is dead, if one is leaning to leave this line of sight regardless of age or love or density or how the last piece of light might be reflected, or refused, if one leaves this imposition? The windows of his room defer no light to this night, for it is always night there, blood and chemicals at warfare, nerve gone, the main one providing mirror and lethal lens, back of the eyeball no different than out front, but I climb this rock to line up with another rock and him in the deep seizure of that stolen room, bare sepulcher, that grotto of mind.Continue reading “From an Appalachian Peak, a Small Red Star for Me and My Father by Tom Sheehan”
Lee and Harry stood outside their manager’s office. She glowered at them. The music from the communal room was deafening.
“Jesus fuck! Am I not in enough trouble? That’s all I need, Tom and his Gary Glitter infatuation!”
“Guess who’s sitting in front of me right now?”
My wife Beth was calling from work, from the nursing home where she’s been a hospice nurse and head of an Alzheimer’s ward for a number of years. She is without doubt the most compassionate woman I have ever known. While the dignity of patients come first with her and as much pain-free existence as she can possibly imagine for them, coming towards the end in most cases, she can nevertheless get rocked by hard associations. It is her curse in life, but, of all the women I have met, she is best equipped for this task.
Cheryl picks me up at the corner of Queen and Duke on Saturdays at three. It just makes sense, she said not long after we met. I’m going right by there anyway. It was my bus stop to Freeport, only now I lean out of the Plexiglas shelter and give a little wave, so the bus doesn’t stop. Today he pulls in to drop someone off. My face is red. It’s stupid how ashamed I feel about that dismissive wave.