Monday, August 31, 2015

#178: "The Reign of the Gypsies" by Randy Bates

~This nonfiction narrative originally appeared in The New Orleans Review (1980).

Editor’s note: This piece contains offensive language.


The Reign of the Gypsies

My stepfather slept with pistols.  I have a memory from shortly after my mother married him and he moved the three of us into the blue house on the hill.  I am sitting cross-legged on their bed.  Marvin reaches into the drawer of the night table.  This is Joe, he says, hefting out a stubby .38.  He opens his coat.  And Old Tom.   A squarish .45 is strapped to a stiff piece of leather under his arm.  The point of the display was that I was never to touch these things, which I became accustomed to as furnishings of their room, Joe on the night table with the medicine bottles and mystery books and Old Tom under Marvin’s pillow.
            No one ever explained to me why Marvin armed himself.  I doubt anyone could have.  I came to understand on my own that he gambled and that his successful amusement company supplied local honkytonks with illegal slot machines as well as with nickelodeons and pinball.  Our east Mississippi town accepted him as a benign sort of rich outlaw.  Except for the benign part, he so encouraged this impression that I eventually decided his guns were props.  Now I know it wasn’t that simple.  No more simple than childhood, which I once thought was overrated as being a time of wonder.

Marvin feared gypsies.  I didn’t know that gypsies had a history in our town and that a gypsy queen is buried there, and I didn’t know if gypsies were even real or if they were like the fantasy people in some of my books.  Yet one afternoon after I came home from elementary school, he almost convinced me a gang of them had laid siege to the house.  I remember charging at windows with my baseball bat and a favorite kitchen knife.  Our excitable dogs roiled about me.  Marvin joined in from his window chair at the kitchen table and shouted encouragement and warnings as I kicked paths through the dogs.
            The game ended when he locked me indoors and took the boxers to guard outside.  Through the picture window in the playroom I watched him standing at the top of the driveway overlooking an acre of yard.  The boxers have run off.  Breeze ruffles his silk pajamas and thick, perfectly white hair.  He ignores a neighbor’s called greeting, cocks my BB gun, and sets himself to stare down a pine tree.
            There were many pines in that yard, and woods lay beyond.  He must have held the vigil until my mother came home from her work at his office.  By the time she coaxed him inside, I was either picking at the house dogs or peering through snow on the new television set.

Monday, August 24, 2015

#177: Three Poems by Paulette Beete

~This poem previously appeared in Callaloo (1999).

Improvisation #2: Charlie Parker Dies for Our Sins

exhale a blue dream and follow it up
hear heaven sing back to you
its majestic tone flatted a ¼ step as
it riffs your breath
don’t look down
Hail Mary and Praise Jesus will not save you though
a needle can prick the pain into
a single sixteenth under your skin
Thou shalt not wear brown skin boldly.
Thou shalt not cry in laughing notes.
Thou shalt not wallow in the bottom to reach the top.
these songs will be a burning bush in your mouth
the notes will buoy you up til you are
spoonfeeding each vibration
into God’s allergic ear.
God himself will remind you that
the wages of sin are death.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Welcome to Kenneth A. Fleming, Assistant Editor!

We're pleased to introduce the new assistant editor of Redux, Kenneth Fleming, who has signed on to help review submissions and solicit previously published work from writers. 

Kenneth A. Fleming is a fiction writer living in Silver Spring, Maryland. He holds a Master of Arts in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. He is currently finishing up a short story collection and working on a novel.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#176: "Close to San Miguel" by C.M. Mayo

~This story was originally published in Witness: Love in America and in Thema: The Road to the Villa (1999).

      Americans like San Miguel, so he would take her there. He'd already shown her many things she liked: the Diego Rivera murals in the Palacio Nacional, the floating gardens of Xochimilco, the house of Frida Kahlo. She liked the house of Frida Kahlo very much. She'd never seen a house painted that color before. It was cobalt, a little darker than the color of her computer screen.
But some things she did not like: the beggars at the stoplights, the filthy-faced Indian children pressing boxes of Chiclets against the car windows, the garbage that littered the streets. She was nervous about any ice in her drinks. He took her to the new shopping mall called Perisur, but she didn't recognize any of the stores. She couldn't find her size in any of the shoes.
 Her name was Greta. He liked to call her Greta Garbo because she was tall and she had honey-blonde hair and she had long thin hands and she plucked her eyebrows into the shape of boomerangs. He liked to think she was Swedish, especially when they had their clothes off. In fact she was Irish Catholic on both sides, from Seattle, Washington (where the apples were gigantic, almost square and waxy red). They'd met in Boston, at the end of their first semester in an MBA program; now it was summertime.
His name was Gerardo. He spoke English very well because his parents had sent him to Denver, Colorado for a year when he was in high school. He had stayed with a family that was very much like Greta's, he imagined. He'd liked them, despite their German Shepherd, a bitch that liked to pounce out from behind the La-Z-Boy and bite him on the behind. Not very hard, but it unnerved him.