I’m not gonna crack. I miss you.
I’m not gonna crack. I love you.
I’m not gonna crack. I killed you.
I’m not gonna crack.
— Kurt Cobain
|Winner of the 2014 James Kirkwood Literary Prize|
He rang the other night. James Wasson. Dead nearly two decades and clear as a bell on the other end of the line. Asking how I’ve been. How’s Sheila? Still married to Sheila? Was in town and thought he’d call, catch up. Found us in the book. Lot of people have unlisted numbers. But there we were, smack-dab between the Hembrakers and the Hendersheins. Had to be us. Such a long time.
That old sly voice stabbed me through the decades as I stood in my boxers, holding a cold memory to my ear, trying to breathe.
Then I got it. The boy. Had to be his boy. Little Jimmy. James Jr.
“You still go by Jimmy? Your old man always preferred to be called Jim. So how’s your mom? God. Sorry to hear that. Sure, we’ll be here. See you then.”
I regretted the offer as soon as I slurred it out. I was already a few whiskies into my evening, my defensive lineup in the shower. Not that she wouldn’t have extended the same invitation or done me one better. She’s the candle in the window of this family. Me, on the other hand, no venturing from my Green Zone of compromise—a Barcalounger with loyal drink in hand. I do my best to avoid old buddies and distant relatives and pricks from high school who only know me by a long-dead childhood nickname. Besides, what in the name of hell do we have in common anymore? I’ve got about as much in common with the assholes on my TV.
Read the full story in the
Bellevue Literary Review
Vol. 15 No. 2 (Autumn 2015)
Published by New York University,
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