by Gabriel Orgrease
"Fire so hot and quick that when they opened the trailer door they found my father sitting smack in front of the tube with his reading glasses melted around his nose still holding an instant coffee on his lap only the skin of his fingers was stuck to the melted thermal mug."
Mary Dink cannot visit without giving the undiminished details; the conversation careens around us, we never discern where she is headed.
We are swiftly informed when moving into the laborer's bungalow across the gravel driveway that her youngest twin girls, Dale and Bale with blonde tresses both have synchronous heart murmurs.
We nod in silent amazement while sipping our soda drinks from plastic cups. The two of them incessantly screech -- their hair tangled with sweet gum they slap and claw at each other on the gray stoop outside the screen door. The electric clock above the stove, the one with a Silver-Gray Dorking Cock face, ticks.
The violent son, a bone-thin hoodlum is escaped from a reformatory, location unknown. Mary tells us he likes to play with knives. I look toward the dish strainer for signs of warm blood; translucent soiled pastels of old Tupperware. But that is not the direction. Mary kindles her hair while leaning over in the operation of lighting a cig on the stove burner. Batting out the smolder with her left hand, “That’s my natural way of keeping it short.”
In the porcelain sink I view what looks like moldy noodles with cayenne pepper. The eldest daughter, Cornelia, is especially impaired, a surviving harlequin fetus. My cup has some sort of strange fuzzy mammal face molded on the side. I hesitate to look within. “Her love books make her stupid”, she says. Looking over I notice that my wife gets a Smiley Face on her cup, but the effort forces me to see a water bug crawl to the rear of the sink.
Edward the fumbler is the eldest son and not the father, except for baby Johnny. I keep my commentary to myself. Her brother-in-law Buckeye is a randy billy goat. Tobacco smoke clouds the room a dull gray, a slower burn than diminishing daylight. Jumps his wife faster than he can shut off the truck.
Out in the drive the Ford backfires one last time as we look at each other. Her acting-up tennis balls itch. We are not sure that it is a goiter she is pointing at as we look at the yellowed linoleum.
We hear Buckeye and Joyce upstairs wearing out the rug. Cousin Betty is afflicted by malaria, cholera, rickets, rheumatism, whatever, all her own fault. She should have screwed the encyclopedia salesman when she had the occasion.
Near midpoint the kitchen floor bulges a foot, slanting toward the side yard. Mary's octogenarian german shepherd has parasites as big as John's thumb. The food stamps are running out. Do we have any Camels? “How do you like this Cold Duck? John gets it special across from work by the case.” With evening hours the fire of the sun is dead. We each go and hide from her -- we call it sleep.
On Saturday afternoon the bungler, Edward, tall and thin, spray paints the underside hood of his Chevy “fire engine” red. Done he hops in and runs for formula and disposables at Frank's grocery, across from Vanderhoosen's Garage.
Frank's place is a two-story white clapboard with large display windows where you eat sour pickles, roll cigarettes, watch lightening streak across the drumlins, observe most of a straight mile of State Route 57, a blue chicory bordered lane.
"I saw a peacock flying down the middle of the road, about ten feet up."
"Male or female?"
"How the hell do I know?”
“It ain’t all that difficult.”
“Well, I’m no peacock sexologist.”
"At the woods down that way," pointing.
"Honest. I got out of the truck and chased it through the woods."
"I had a stick. I thought maybe I could catch it."
Half way the fumes are warm and catch. He has no extinguisher, not even a six of Gennie Cream Ale. I shut up long enough to see Edward beating at the hood of the flaming rig with a tropical-print beach towel, no harm done. The north-latitude beaches are four hundred miles, or as close as the tube, but it don’t stop Ed’s dreaming.
"They run fast."
I hand Frank back his binoculars. The plume of darkness dissipates, leaving the Chevy on the crispy side. No special message here. I buy some Tums and a cherry popsicle.
"Maybe I should call the volunteers?"
After the flameout Frank gets business serious arranging bottles of Cold Duck in the fridge and don't want to hear no story from me about a wild peacock so I go on home.
Sharing my cherry popcycle Cornelia is rotund, uncoordinated, short, weight impaired with long black hair framing olive-pit eyes and chapped lips that scrape around the fruited ice. "I love books,” she says with smoldering combustion. “I read to love.”
Unchecked she knocks over a floor lamp that spills rum mug onto the desk. Clumsily burdened her arms full up with paperback Harlequin romances that she wants to trade. "I'm sorry," meekly.
"No problem," quickly grabbing my tropical beach towels. I’m eager to get away from the attentions of this poetess-pre-pubescent.
"Do you need help?”
Fumbling over Bleak House, “Have you ever read this one? It's really good. I'd be glad to loan it to you.”
She points toward another pile, “What's that one about?"
"Oh, Iceberg Slim? It's sort of about... city life."
"Is it good?"
"If you like that sort of thing I guess it is, kind of. Why don't you try this one?" I quickly grab off the top of the nearest pile.
"What is it?"
I look at the cover over my shoulder as I dispose of the towels, "Bradbury.”
"Wow. This is for real?”
“Yeah, strange people that burn books.”
Mr. Dink, five four and a half, weighs within a wide range on the far side of two hundred ninety-seven pounds. Other than a simple face from a mail-order true-life drawing lesson, the basic shape contained within a large ovoid; there is no distinction to his appearance. Crusty dark hair, cotton work clothes from the community surplus bin. Quiet guy. His mate Mary is talk enough for evermore. Downcast forehead shaded by an oily brim of a red baseball cap greased with black fingerprints. Compact, corpulent hands of a ruddy callus, stubby fingers like small boiled sausages.
An engine mechanic he works at Vanderhoosen's on big rigs, garbage and fire trucks. John mumbles, “Hello,” in the middle of the driveway on his way to work. The sun is not yet burning away the fog and he is out for doing work.
This morning I realize once he gets going he cogitates in straight lines. I stand solid in his path without moving. He stops. I notice he won't go around or walk past. I imagine he is studying my boots. I'm not exactly sure. I tell Frank that I've taken to polishing the front of one brown boot black to see if John reacts. Nothing so far. I can only imagine what this man’s compact ears have sustained. His wife’s incessant recital falls to his path and is engulfed like burning coals skipped at an iceberg.
He killed a full-grown bull in the barn last week by hitting it in the head with a 20-pound sledge. Two blows and it was over except for the butchering. I am amazed by the focus of his meek subjugation.
Direct inguinal hernia bulging at the groin, accompanied by a strangulation of the intestine causes sharp cries of pain to burst from John's throat with a rhythm of intense esophagal labor, an irreducible limit of pain that is outstretched with Mary shoving and pulling to get his boxer shorts on.
"Not that pair," he yells between gasps. His rump wedged up on the hump of the kitchen floor.
Clenching his teeth, "I won't go with mouse faces all over my butt."
Mary, waking us up for no good reason but wanting to share in her amusement, frantically tells us John won't let her call for the county ambulance to come until he has his pants on. Someday we will also get to be in her story, but for now we want to hold back as frigid shadows. She asks if maybe we could get him to go in our truck? In need of urgent medical attention but unable to get his pants on we are asked to volunteer. We step into the house.
"For a husband I would give him back tomorrow, just ask."
We keep silent, not sure if she is addressing some stygian divinity or us. Folding her arms on her portly chest, “I spent the whole damn night trying to get a pair of clean boxer shorts on that stupid man.”
Walking roughly across the wood floor, the boards jouncing, “It took more than an hour I mean, every time I moved a toe he started groaning and screaming and slapping my hands down... more than an hour to get past one ankle.”
Though slow torturing, John’s face fires and flushes all over.
“I told him it was going to come to this if he didn't stop lifting those damn engine blocks. He should have been done taken care of it eight months back when it first popped out. He didn't even want to tell me about it. Dumb as an ox he is.”
You can only do so much with aspirins and duct tape.
“Father of my children spilling his guts out for Wheel of Fortune. Why did he have to watch television lying on the floor in the first place? We should have had a crane in the house to lift him up. Looked like he was giving birth to a bloody red grapefruit, it did. I wish I could have hit him in the head with one of those big hammers to knock him out.”
The late-night special was on wild turkey, and then they sang the national anthem, fired fireworks, dropped the flag and signed off. He was still lying there.
“A dead bull has more sense than that. He couldn't just let the ambulance people come and get him right from the start. He had to have clean shorts, the first time in his life he ever worried about clean shorts!”
We kept at it until after the sun came up and then he wanted a pair of pants.
“I said, “Hell – No!” enough is enough already, you lay there on the floor watching cartoons and I'm calling the hospital right now. Then he started to cry, my god, I could hardly handle it no more. I wanted to kick him in the nuts myself right then and be over with the whole bloody mess.”
The propane stove is turned on but the pilot light is blown. I pour out two bowls of Kix for the twins and ask them to get their own milk.
Mary reaches for her cigarette pack and a box of wooden matches while bellowing at the twins, ”I'm busy and shut up. You're father is in the living room, try not to step on him, he doesn't feel too well.”
Between giggles in harmony, “Yes, mama.”
“When they come to get him I want you two to hold the door open. Make sure you don't let go, we got enough problems already.”
IN THIS ISSUE–––
• OREN PIERCE, GuestEditor
Welcome to the Weird Issue
• DAVEY WEATHERCOCK
My Heart KnewWhat the
Wild Geese Knew
• DAVID S. WARREN
Natural Bone Chapter 2
• FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
21 Things You May or May Not
• RHIAN ELLIS
• GABRIEL ORGREASE
Perry City Dinks
• ANNIE CAMPBELL
The Deserted House
• SUE-RYN BURNS
• GEORGIA WARREN
The Soldiers' Story
• SUE-RYN BURNS Wild Turkeys
• MARY GILLILAND Kitchen Theater
• PETER FORTUNATO
Cocks of the Walk (Key West)
Copernicus under cover
to the Weird Issue
by Oren Pierce, Guest Editor
(short excerpt here, read it all
on the home page)
Weathercock (I feel) has presented us not with just an honest meditation on the uncanny nature of everyday life that an unsensational treatment of the theme requires, nor is it either fact or fiction, but just plain fake news.
Not wanting to be too negative, I won’t get any further into that. Read and judge for yourself.
Just about everything else in this issue is fine with me and I recommend the writings to you without further doo doo. ______________________
by Rhian Ellis
The letters came, and the letters came, and then they stopped. The last came in the autumn, with the falling leaves and the clotting sky, but through the long grayness of winter there was nothing.
Ruth continued to write even though it felt as though she was dropping her pages into a bottomless well. She asked questions that were never answered and told stories that seemed unheard. She wrote faster and more frantically as the snow blew into the city and hid the dirt and the trash and the broken things. She imagined her sister in her little house, out there in the wilderness, burning logs and nursing babies and what else? What did she do? Life was so different out there, so hard to imagine...
And then a letter came, on the same rough paper, written with the same too-sharp pen that scratched. But the hand was unfamiliar. And inside, the letter was hard to read and cramped and was almost like the writing of a child. Perhaps it was the writing of a child.
Sister Ruth-- I hayte that I am the barer of the world’s moust dreaded newes but the truth is that our dearr Jane is dead and so are the chyldren tifuss came to our small house and we coud not stop it. First the older chyld then Jane then the baby went to the arms of Jesuss. Wheeler is the only chyld left and I am left too tho to what purpose I
(go to story)
Natural Bone Chapter 2 with recap
by David Warren
Noah had stared at the falling water for he didn’t know how long, when his eyes began to wander around the yellowish chamber floor and he saw a helmet lying there: a battered metal helmet with stubby horns. And then, only a few yards from the helmet, he saw a bodiless head in a nest of its own hair among the rocks. It’s eyes were wide open, and the grisly thing spoke to him, although in an understandably weak and sighing sort of voice.
“Don’t be afraid!” said the Head “I’m just a head.” click here for the recap of chapter 1 and all of Chapter 2
by Annie Campbell
One time, the kids and I stopped to explore a large deserted house on Townline road near Trumansburg. It still had its roof and didn’t look too bad, so we squeezed through a door coming off its hinges. Plaster and lath which had fallen from the ceilings in the three spacious rooms we could see - littered the floor. Carefully, the three of us made our way to a big room that still had a few glass panes in the windows. A wide staircase beckoned, and I made the kids wait while I went up. It seemed safe enough so I waited for them to catch up to me.
(go to story)
Weldon packs a yellow umbrell athough he doesn’t expect to use it. “If I carry a yellow parapluie jaune,” he tells Mathilde, “it might fake out the rain sprights. Energize them. Maybe drought will start to end. Vive la pluie.” He finds his French words exhilarating, as he does his French girl friend.
(go to story)
Perry City Dinks
by Gabreal Orgrease
“Fire so hot and quick that when they opened the trailer door they found my father sitting smack in front of the tube with his reading glasses melted around his nose still holding an instant coffee on his lap only the skin of his fingers was stuck to the melted thermal mug.” (go to story)
1 I was at a crosswalk and the oncoming motorist stopped to let me pass.
2 Rocks along the train tracks are of consistent size and shape, composed mostly of basalt. They are excellent throwing rocks, as if quarried and broken for that purpose. I hit a RR sign with one on a quiet creosote-rich afternoon and it made a startling racket. Some deer broke out of the sedge. I felt lonely all of a sudden.
3 Toenail fungus is a form of life that is hard to evict from the body. It has generated a whole line of quackadoodle remedies. The only surefire way to get rid of it is to have all infected toes removed.
4 When I checked my pants pockets this morning, I found 77 cents in quarters, nickels, dimes and two pennies. I don’t normally keep pennies. Pennies are not worthless, but we don’t use them for cadavers any more so why save them? There is nothing significant about 77, except it was in the title of an old TV show called "77 Sunset Strip."
For numbers 5 to 21 click here
by Georgia Warren
I was taught hand reading in the 1960s by a doctor from India who was getting certified to practice medicine in the US. It took me two years to learn the intricacies of the India-style of hand reading. When Dr. Singh said I was ready to go out on my own.I got a seat working steadily in a coffee house in Akron Ohio.
One night a couple of soldiers back from Vietnam stopped by. Their hands were in their coat pockets.. They said they wanted me to read their hands. They were laughing, and I was sure they’d probably had a “couple” of beers. I didn’t have the attitude that I gained years later to say, “I don’t do readings for people who have been drinking.” The two of them sat down, still smirking. They took their hands out of their pockets, they were prosthetiucs. Neither of them had any hands for me to read. (go to story)
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