Monday, February 23, 2015

#159: "True Confessions of a Bread Baker" by Wendi Kaufman


This story was first published in the journal Literal Latt√©. It is included in Helen on 86th Street and Other Stories, published by Stillhouse Press (www.stillhousepress.org), copyright 2014, and reproduced here through permission of the publisher.


When I am nine years old I find the yellowed newspaper clippings. They are all of well publicized divorce trials featuring mob men and showgirls. The men—with nicknames like Leo the Leech or Benny the Bull—are pictured full-faced; the women, with their 48-hour figures spilling out of 24-hour undergarments, are shown to their best advantage, in profile. The divorce lawyer, always mentioned in the first paragraph, is my father. Some of the papers that chronicle these trials no longer exist: the New York Globe and Daily Mirror. The clippings are from before my birth.

These articles spark the idea of writing my own stories, tales of a nine-year-old girl with a lawyer father and scandalous clients. Nancy Drew, eat your heart out: This is no milquetoast lawyer dad like Carson Drew, but rather my lurid retelling of public scandal, sensationalist angles, and sex—or what passes for sex when you’re nine.

I proudly show these stories to my father, who, when he reads them, shakes his head and tells me: “You’re funny, kid, but don’t write what you know.” I realize this means he doesn’t want me to write about him.

Monday, February 9, 2015

#158: Three Poems by Rose Solari


~This poem was previously published in Gargoyle (2014).

Another Country

How you would swing me up onto
your shoulders, my big big brother,
making us two-in-one, sky-slung,
a four-armed creature singing
about the country we’d never seen,
except in pictures. Che bella cosa
è na giornata e sole. My knees the wings

of your shoulders, Mom at the piano,
her voice — the highest of high
sopranos — weaving over us. No one
can say we didn’t love each other
then, that we weren’t happy. Now,
you’re two years gone, and nobody
dances on anyone’s shoulders

in that earth-dark place where I think
what’s left of you must swim. Adio,
del passato. And that country? I went
at last last year — all the gold-wine light
of history, and songs cheap on the streets.
Your face was everywhere.

Monday, February 2, 2015

#157: "Minor Offenses" by Paula Whyman


~This story was previously published in The Delmarva Review (2008).

I heard them as if through cotton, the short nurse whose wide bottom was turned toward me and the black man who filled the doorway.  He was asking if I could talk now, saying it was important that he talk to me, and the nurse was nodding, the hairs on the back of her neck pulled so tightly into her cap that I thought if she nodded again I’d hear the twang of them all breaking loose, and maybe even a tiny dot of blood would appear on her white skin where a follicle was torn clean out.  I could turn my head, now that they’d taken that thing off, what did they call it?  A halo.  I didn’t need it after all.
They said I was lucky, because my head didn’t go into the steering wheel.  The air bag opened like it was supposed to, cracked a few of my ribs, chucked me on the chin, broke my nose somehow.  It was the angle of the seat that determined it, in relation to the height and tilt of the steering column.  I was positioned a little too low behind the wheel.  I’d finally get that nose job I always wanted.  The worst part, according to the doctor, was my leg; part of my left leg was crushed on impact.  They put pins in it, metal pins that stuck out the sides of my tibia.  Every few days, they said, they would tighten the screws.  I couldn’t wait for that.  I was a big voodoo doll.
Was he from the insurance company?  I’d already talked to them, hadn’t I?  Everything was dreamy.  They told me the morphine would do that.  I was completely out of it the first day.  The police couldn’t even get my statement.  Ah, that’s who the guy was, a policeman.  He showed me his badge, as if I’d know a fake one. 
Officer Towns, he said.  Call me Leonard. 
Plainclothes.  I liked that better.  The first guy they sent, the traffic cop with the shaved and waxed head and Mountie hat and glossy boots, he looked like something out of a movie.  Get down and give me twenty.  I could imagine him saying that. 
Officer Towns pulled up a chair and sat by my bed.  “Let’s talk about what happened.”  That was the same thing the woman from psych said to me a few hours earlier.  To her, I said, “Okay.  What happened?” 
After a few minutes of that, she’d smiled at me sympathetically and said, “I’ll come back tomorrow.”  Then she whispered to the doctor, “Maybe tomorrow she’ll feel like sharing.”  I really heard her use that word, “sharing.”  Didn’t they know there was nothing wrong with my ears?  Did they think I was catatonic?
Actually, Officer Towns said, “Can you tell me what happened on Monday?” 
The blonde nurse pursed her pudgy lips and checked my blood pressure.  She wasn’t about to leave and miss the good part.