Erratics

978-1-881515-37-1 Paperback
5.5 x 8.5 x 0 in
144 pp.
Pub Date: 01/14/2002
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Winner of 2000 George Garrett Fiction Prize
Like the Ice-age erratic discovered by this teacher, the characters in these twelve stories are in the wrong place, either physically or emotionally. Buried in the wrong grave, born at the wrong time, stuck working the wrong job, or caught on the wrong side of the state line, these northern Ohio residents communicate with animals, have sex in storerooms, believe in the magic of divining rods, see visions through prison fences, and worry that life's numbers don't add up. Their stories are the soft drip of icicles, the flap of wings, the thump, thump of hearts, the sounds we make when trying to find our way home.

My Stuff 

Time was I could fix anything with my fist or foot. Bamm, the furnace started. Bamm, the refrigerator quit humming. Cindy didn't like it, but there wasn't much she could say when it worked. Take the time the lawnmower died in the tall, gummy grass where the neighbor's dog unloaded in our yard. A Saturday morning. Hot and humid with bugs flying in my ears and biting my back where the sweaty tee-shirt stuck, and this rank odor coming up from all that dog crap. The mower coughed, choked, then stopped. Blue smoke and steam came from underneath. I pulled the starter rope. Noth­ing. I yanked again and again until I thought my damn arm would fall off, then grabbed the mower by the handle and spun around like a hammer thrower in the Olympics. I grunted, let go. A flying lawn­mower. It hit the trunk of the silver maple. Moldy grass, rusty lawnmower parts and maple bark littered the ground. I swore at the son of a bitch, then let it lie there, bleed lubricants, while I went in the house, had a beer, maybe two. 
Cindy said, "Look what you've done to the tree, look at that tree," then said that it was too early to drink, and I said I was on day light savings time, which was pretty clever considering the heat, bug bites, and the mower not working. I waited awhile, watched cartoons with Jake, then went outside and tried again, pulled the rope. Flames six inches long shot out the exhaust. The engine roared like the Saturn V taking off for the moon. I could have mowed down the lilacs, roses and rhododendrons if I'd wanted. 
Cindy didn't like my swearing either, but I said, "Hey, a man's got to talk." 

Published by Texas Review Press