I’ll tell you why she jumped. That bastard husband of hers couldn’t keep his pants zipped. She put up with it, for the kids. But then, he was the one who split. She and me were best friends in high school. I stayed here in Lynchburg, Central Virginia for college, now bookkeeper at the newspaper. Junie, she jumped at the chance to get out. That chance was a fast-talking UVA senior named John Miller, promised to take her to New York. He did, a dozen years and four kids later, she came back. Her family wasn’t a whole lot of help when she did. Junie told me, first words out of their mouths, Where are you going to live now? How are you going to support your children? I guess she shouldn’t have expected a cuddly reception, the way she ran off with John middle of senior year, her Ma still in the hospital. Irregardless, you’d think they’d care about their grand kids.Continue reading “Why Junie Jumped by Townsend Walker”
Holly More first got drunk at the reasonably late age of nineteen. On a late summer Saturday night in 1977, he dropped in on a pair of college classmates who shared a shithole studio apartment at the base of Seattle’s Capitol Hill. The roomies extolled the virtues of “Bokay” apple wine, which sold for sixty-nine cents a bottle. Ritzy nectars such as Boone’s Farm, T.J. Swann and, Allah-forbid, Lancer’s were too fancy-pants pricewise for students who earned $2.10 an hour at Work Study jobs. That left MD 20/20, Night Train, Thunderbird and Bokay. Since the first three were what the Pioneer Square bums drank, the guys went with the Bokay. Holly later found out that Bokay was the wine of last resort amongst the Pioneer Square bums.Continue reading “Elbows With Fishes by Leila Allison”
The Scenario: Part I
He crushed two pills between his teeth and swallowed. That made four in an hour. A stomach that wanted to stay alive would have objected; but for once there was consensus. He believed that two more similar doses within the next thirty minutes should punch his ticket to the Undiscovered Country. Perhaps such an important event as flirting with self destruction should come accompanied by an unfilched metaphor, but when in doubt go with Shakespeare–Besides he’d used up all the sparklers in his suicide note. It was a fine suicide note. Well written, streaked with effortless pathos and humor. It was the best thing he had ever written. “All show, no tell,” he’d said after lighting it on fire and watching it curl to black in the kitchen sink. “Best punched ticket ever.”
The World From This High
The stars are out chittering over the water and the bridge is cold on the backs of my thighs and for the last three years He The One has been jabbering in my head telling me to jump. I haven’t listened to Him until now, I’ve been strong and I’ve resisted, but there comes a point when you just can’t take it anymore and you give in and so here I am. I’m not happy about it but at least when I jump They’ll stop beaming all those messages into my head and They won’t be able to torture me anymore.
As I stood on the top of the tower and looked down, I wondered if I should jump.
I decided against it, for the fourth night in a row, and headed downstairs for a cup of tea. I wanted tea more than I wanted death, so things worked out great, all things considered.
I couldn’t help thinking, though, while I sipped on my tea, that, right at that moment, I could have been a bloody, broken pile on the concrete path, perfectly, precisely between the two spot-lights aimed up at the tower.
After finishing my tea, I went to bed and, before I feel asleep, thought: maybe tomorrow, then.
After my wife died, I volunteered on a crisis line. “You must keep clear limits with callers,” said Marilyn the training coordinator. “Don’t under any circumstances interact with anyone in person.”
I didn’t tell her that my boundaries were non-existent. That’s why I lived mostly alone.
It was a bright Tuesday morning, and the city’s dense, forest-like clusters of residential towers were stirring to life like immense ant hills in the hot rays of the sun. Down on the streets, the waves of commuters came pouring out of the towers to converge on the massive Ninth Gen Maglev Station at the base of the main transportation bridge.
From outside the coffee shop across the road, Julia watches Charlie Miller leave the diner. It starts to snow again and if she narrows her vision to exclude all else, she can almost believe that she is looking at an idyllic scene. Snowflakes drift softly through the golden glow emanating from the diner window. Waitresses move about inside with coffee pots, amid the chattering, happy diners. Charlie Miller, in jeans and cowboy boots, plaid flannel shirt poking out from a nondescript brown jacket, completes this perfect portrait of nostalgic Americana. But then he pauses outside the diner and crosses his arms in a tight knot across his chest. He stares straight ahead, as if he is viewing hell. The image of blood and clotted brain-matter leaps up before her eyes. She stuffs it back into the box too small to hold it, only to wait for the demented jack-in-the-box to spring again.
He was a peaceful baby with a face like Buddha who grew into a sensitive toddler: enormous eyes that took in everything and missed nothing. When he fell he cried, but he always recovered after the usual spell of tears.
What a precious child, we thought. Life will be hard on him.
Mum opens the windows each morning to let the birds in and closes them at night to keep the darkness out.