What can YOU say in six sentences?
Teeny and me were playing Chutes and Ladders in her pink bedroom, but I left when she beat me for the third time and yelled “Winner winner, chicken dinner!”
I was walking home, down Robert E. Lee Street, when I saw Mr. Jimmy Big-Shot standing next to the corner store, smoking under the green awning, and I felt like ratting on him, except there was no one around…Continue
Bootsy hired Cora Jean Shiner to clean his house for $50 and a six-pack of designer beer from some microbrewery in godforsaken North Carolina.
The beer had a vile, six-word, New Age-sounding name, like Honey Golden Wheat Dew Drop Inn, but Bootsy was all too glad to pay up just so he would not have to look at the litter of dead soldiers and pizza cartons, ever again.
He took himself for…Continue
“Here, drink this,” Temerity said, separating one bottle of spring water from its blister pack. “You’re dehydrated and you smell like a buzzard's breakfast.”
Bootsy glugged the water and reached for a second while Temerity assessed his possible blood alcohol level.
“Dang, I’m sorry about this,” Bootsy said, scraping pizza crust from the bottom of a sock.…
Public health nurse Temerity Shiner had been watching her neighbor Bootsy Sykes from her breakfast nook window, and she felt it her duty as a medical professional to do something about his alcohol consumption.
She smoothed her skirt and lilac twin set, pulled a six-pack of spring water from the fridge and walked unswervingly to his front door which, as was Bootsy’s custom when…Continue
In Belzoni, Miss., nobody knew the origin of their town's name, although I asked at the city hall and firestation, stopped people on the street and leaned in car windows. I judged this to be a careless attitude.
Further along the river, in Yazoo City, I came across a decaying amphitheater between downtown buildings on Main Street, the afternoon sun playing trompe l'oeil on its walls. The space had begun as something hopeful, playful even, with rows of plank benches and painted…Continue
Bootsy Sykes awoke with a hangover that only brain surgery could cure, a hangover that caused a seam to open in the known universe, leaving Bootsy on one side while all other matter sped away, away.
Medicating himself with a strawberry-banana-tequila smoothie was his usual m.o., except that on this day, he could not tolerate the sound of his blender.
He let Bear outside to pee while he…Continue
Bootsy Sykes was wasting away again in Margaritaville.
At 9 a.m., wearing only University of Alabama Crimson Tide boxer shorts, Bootsy lurched down his driveway with a frosted mug in one hand and garden hose in the other to spray away the pollen on his battered pickup truck.
His flamboyant Irish setter, Bear, whose farts could clear an auditorium, pranced alongside, ready to catch any…Continue
As I enter the women's locker room to bind up my hair and leave all clothing behind, the scents assail me. They grow stronger when I reach the baths: sandalwood, sweat, shampoo, soap, the bite of chlorine from the whirlpool tub and something else essentially female -- so many naked women in a small space.
Korean mothers and daughters squat in the communal shower room, scrubbing each other with rough gloves. I lie down on a plastic table to be bathed and scrubbed for almost an hour by…Continue
[Note: This is the final installment of the Orson series. Thank you all so much for reading.]
Later, Orson won’t recall his three hours before the Tenure Committee. He won’t remember Provost Allwyn Steppenheim appearing briefly in the doorway, like Banquo’s ghost, to wave a blessing over the proceedings, or the chairman quizzing him on physics…Continue
Orson and his sister, Alana, rent a car to shop for monthly groceries at CostCo and SuperFoods and then, before returning the car, they tour an unknown quarter of their city. Alana recites from her favorite TV shows in a low, continuous monotone while Orson, who is a poor driver, concentrates on the road.
Recently, she seems more disconnected from him than ever, as if she's on a course through a private maze he'll never…Continue
Sheila Searcy fans out index cards on Orson’s kitchen table – his only table - and begins what they now officially call ‘Countdown To the Alien Probe.’
They have told each other that his interview with the tenure committee is not his life’s hinge, but still, it would…Continue
Orson walks into a dream conference room where a disembodied voice tells him where to sit.
He thrums with an icy nervousness that forces his features into a grimace.
Far away, at the opposite end of an impossibly long table, sits the tenure committee, and they pass a megaphone around as they take turns asking him questions.
“What do you really think of us?” shouts a balding man with a chestful of medals that reminds…Continue
Senator X says women wanting abortions should have ultrasounds using an invasive vaginal probe, even though traditional ultrasounds are performed outside the body, probe over abdomen.
Senator Y says insurance companies shouldn’t have to cover birth control pills.
Senator Z says abortions should be outright illegal, once and for all, no…Continue
Howard Crackower, a full professor of physics, sat with his back to the other diners in the faculty cafeteria. Orson, seated directly behind him and unseen, studied the man whom he privately called Committee Member Number Four.
The signs were unambiguous: the older man had taken a position that clearly discouraged anyone from joining him. He jiggled his legs, rocked almost imperceptibly as he ate, and tugged on his left sleeve…