Really? TEN MONTHS since I've updated this blog?! I am horrified. And repentant. I can only plead the tawdy distractions of Twitter and Facebook. Such easy mistresses. A blog demands skill, concentration, TIME!
And so I re-commit. While I work on an update of the last (ahem) 10 months, I offer you a gift: the short story I wrote for Esquire magazine's "How to Be A Man" collection. This was done as a fundraiser for Narrative 4, a literary nonprofit I am helping to create. You can follow the link and purchase the entire collection of 106 stories and benefit an important cause at the same time. Happy reading and I will be back soon (I promise!)
They wore their best clothes and waited for the Old Man. Billy didn’t own a suit, but he’d found a tie somewhere. He stood at the window, watching the Old Man water the garden.
His sister said, “What’s he doing now?”
“We’re going to be late.”
She looked at her husband in the living room and shook her head. The Old Man, Mr. Iron Fist, loved drunken Billy the most. She sighed. Well, at least Billy’d cut his hair.
“He’s getting dirty,” she said.
Billy watched Pops shuffle in the dirt, mud on his brogans and dirt on his cuffs. That brown suit had to be fifty years old. But the fedora was stylin’. He smiled.
“I need a smoke,” he said. His sister didn’t smoke. “Start the car. I’ll fetch him.”
He stepped out of the gloom into a bright cube of light and leaves and butterflies. Good stink of fresh mud. He lit up. Pops watered his apple tree.
“Getting late, Pops,” he said.
The Old man turned off the spigot.
“Sonny,” he said. “We planted this tree the day you were born.” He’d told this to Billy a thousand times.
Billy pulled out his handkerchief.
“You got mud on your shoes.”
Pops braced himself on his kneeling son’s shoulder as Billy cleaned his feet.
“Is it terrible, Billy?” he asked.
Billy led him around to the front. Pops paused and bent to the raised carnation beds. He plucked one and sniffed it.
“Mother’s favorite,” he said.
Billy tossed his smoke.
“It’s not bad, Pops. Not too bad. She looks like she’s asleep.”
The car was waiting.
“Is it okay?” the Old Man asked. “I drop this flower in with her?”
Billy took his elbow. His arm felt like little sticks. The sidewalk was broken up out here. Uneven.
“It’s okay, Pops. I promise.”
Sis opened the door.
Pops tipped his hat to her and climbed in.
Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat: If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.
Reading and talk at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Details here.
Proud to be part of the prestigious series in a reading with Laila Lalami and Shobha Rao. Tickets and details here.
Celebrating the NEA Big Read and Into the Beautiful North in Holyoke, MA. Sponsored by the Mary Lyon Foundation, Holyoke has done some great events all year. Now we get to meet each other! Details here.
Details to come