Hunger growled in him, clamoring for attention. The old man went into the kitchen and opened the cupboard. There was one can of soup. Chicken noodle. A bowl and a spoon sat in the old man’s dish drain next to a small pot, the perfect size for heating soup. Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the leaves of a shady elm tree and filled the kitchen with dappled light.
Olivia squeezed the handle of her wheelchair so hard the veins stood out on her bony wrists.
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.
Tony carefully looked over his choices. Should I go with live bait or a lure? The sky is clear today. No cloud cover means the fish will be able to see me casting. A shiny yellow plunker will catch the sunlight and attract them, but a live minnow will attract their smell. All right, I’ll start with the plunker. Continue reading “The Old Fisherman by Jerry Guarino “
Mother is sitting on her sofa peeling a satsuma or clementine, or some other small, orange citrus fruit. She has removed the skin in small, finger nail-sized pieces, and is now carefully removing quivering strands of pith, and placing them with precision next to the teetering pile of skin on the arm of the sofa. I will be clearing them off later.
It’s three feet farther to hell from New Town Bridge. The city recently installed an eighteen-inch “safety” extension to the pedestrian rail. Since it opened in 1978, at least twenty persons have jumped off the ugly gray span and found death waiting two-hundred feet below in the beckoning Philo Bay Narrows. Northern seas swiftly kill the pain; and when that comforting certainty outweighs the threat of damnation, I don’t see another foot and a half up, and down, getting in the way.
Beachum stops at the Bi Lo to get his latest prescription filled. While he’s waiting he looks for something to kill the cat, some kind of poison. He looks up and down the aisles. It appears that grocery stores do not carry poison anymore.
“Where would I find the poison?” he asks the pharmacist
“What kind of poison are you looking for?” asks the pharmacist. He acts as if the mere contemplation of such a question has given him indigestion.
“Something that will kill a cat.”
The pharmacist sighs. “There are many things that will kill a cat,” he says stapling a sheaf of instructions and disclaimers six inches thick to the bag containing Beachum’s prescription that no one, least of all old Beachum, will ever read.
“Can you recommend something?”
The pharmacist shakes his head sadly. “No,” he says.
Two days ago there were still those who went about saying that Peter was a false Tsar, perhaps the Anti-Christ himself. But then, just as the hour of three was being struck, two long, thin clouds joined in the form of a cross above our village. It was a Friday according to the new reckoning. Marina, the serf girl, was the first to see it. She fell to her knees and crossed herself, then ran to tell the priest, my father. If he was drunk, as usual, he was nevertheless quick to realize how he could use this “sign”. Were the rumblings of those who opposed the Tsar to go unchecked, the soldiers would soon be set upon our village to leave behind the smoldering remains of peasant huts and bodies swaying from scaffolds. So I was ordered to toll the bell which summons the peasants to the village square where my father put them on their knees in witness to this miracle. Such a voice he had!
There’s a quick double rap on my apartment door and my son, Elijah, opens the door and walks in like he’s paying the rent. He ain’t. “Pop, what’s up dude? What’re you watchin? Why don’t you have the game on? You got beer? I know you got beer.”
He goes directly into my tiny kitchen and comes back with two bottles of beer. He flops on the couch beside me.
Front door shut and locked. Push it again, jiggle the handle a few more times, to be sure. I left it open once — maybe more than once?—and next-door’s cat got in the house. Henry wasn’t pleased with me. He’s been so good, so patient, but he was very upset about the door. I’ve been much more careful since.