The following three stories originally appeared in print in the Flatmancrooked anthologies First Winter, Great New Writing Done During an Economic Depression, and Not About Vampires, respectively. I am currently finishing my first novel and will update this page when I have more information about its status.
Harry Granderson poured himself a glass of Plymouth gin and offered me another one. We were in his office, looking out the window of a ninth floor in Midtown. It was an April morning. Below us, a tunnel came out of the ground onto Park Avenue at the intersection with 33rd Street. I still had two Army duffles with me, packed with clothes and knives and pans. I’d just arrived from Penn Station and hadn’t showered for three days. It was ten a.m., but I accepted the drink.
“You must have seen it,” he said.
He was young for the editor of a magazine, about thirty. I couldn’t help noticing that we looked similar in build and face, but his hair stayed clean along his skull where mine is messy, and he had an easy smile that gave him a humble appearance though he was not a humble man.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I said.
“A man got hit. Got hit crossing the damn street. A car came out of the tunnel. I never get used to it, but I see it ten times a year. In the mornings, I watch for it.”
Patrick Gibson had a gentle athletic build, which he credited to years of swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, and a growing paunch that he owed to beer. His skin had lost its color since coming north—and lying naked on the floor beside Samantha, he felt he blended in with the boards. He’d slept with another girl three days earlier, and he hated that he couldn’t tell Samantha. He hated also that she was the only person he cared to tell.
They’d been engaged eleven months. The tentative wedding date was in May, year after next, and Gibson knew she wanted the ceremony out of the city, out in the air, magnolias and lilacs in bloom, with so many strings of white lights and lit ornaments. The south of France would be a perfect spot—she always talked about vacationing in Arles as a girl—but the Hudson River Valley was, how do you say, de plus prés, de plus bon marché. In any case, she wanted to finish her law degree first, and he indulged her by taking evening French classes meantime, pretending the language might actually come of use.
Elliott Reins sturdied himself against a string of barbedwire that sagged between crisscrossed fence posts. The wire was hot from the sun, and holding it was calming. It eased the pain in his legs, which felt fragile to him. He didn’t trust them. He trusted his back, his chest, his arms. And his hands were a marvel, as wide and hard as paddleheads. They would get the business done. He wiped his brow. It was three o’clock and would get hotter for another hour but would cool by nightfall. Up the Yellowstone River, a patchwork of wildfires was burning through enough pine to lay a thick haze over the Paradise Valley. But August was ending, and soon the snows would come and snuff out the flames. And if they didn’t? Then the fires would keep burning. Elliott pushed back from the fence and glanced at his roan and at Rebecca who stood next him. She smelled like tobacco and lavender oil in a way that reminded him of waiting outside of church as a boy with the parishioners, the women all in perfume and the men in cologne, and everyone smoking.
“I was never a big fan of perfume,” he said. “It’s overpriced. I’ve never seen people pay so much for ninety-nine percent water.”
To read more of my work, please check out Hirschworth Magazine, of which I am the editor-in-chief. We publish poetry, fiction, essays, artwork, op-eds, and the like on a weekly basis.
A brief note about FMC, Bright Ideas, & James Kaelan
Flatmancrooked, a literary journal and sort of cultural enterprise, was co-founded by my good friend James Kaelan. FMC no longer exists but Mr. Kaelan, the author of We’re Getting On, is now the editor-in-chief at Bright Ideas Magazine, which is one of the most beautiful print and online magazines that I have seen. Mr. Kaelan is a phenomenon of energy: a writer, editor, and filmmaker without equal.
Here is the link to my short story “The Comanche Kid” in Bright Ideas.
Photographs and content © 2013 Thomas McCafferty
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