Medium 9781574413199

Out of Time

Views: 2343
Ratings: (0)

A sweet slipstream stew, a call and response to Hemingway's In Our Time, Geoff Schmidt's debut collection Out of Time is a meditation on meaning and mortality, and the ways that story and the imagined life can sustain us. In these stories, vengeful infants destroy and rebuild the world, rivalrous siblings and their mother encounter witches and ghosts and the possessed, Barack Obama and Keith Richards smoke their last cigarettes, men and women with cancer variously don gorilla suits or experience all time simultaneously. Time is running out for all of the people in these stories, yet the power of language, the human ability to tell, to imagine and invent, is a redemptive force. "The stories in Out of Time chase after the secrets and sorrows of families, revealing the lengths people will go, and the harm they will do, to keep their worlds together. These characters are not crazy, they are in love and afraid. Geoff Schmidt writes a lucid, new mythology in prose that's limned with fear and awe. To read these stories is to feel the force and urgency of a new and vital literary voice."--Ben Marcus, author of Age of Wire and String, and judge

List price: $14.95

Your Price: $11.96

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

16 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

Man in Gorilla Suit by Moonlight

PDF

Man in Gorilla Suit by Moonlight

I

t is past midnight and Janet is up in the oak tree. She is the bird with black feathers. When she twitches her head the tips of her black feathered braids just brush the tips of her small breasts, just lightly, just so. Her flowered blouse hangs from a nearby branch.

She does not need it. She is the black bird that drops feathers like leaves. Bark cuts her knees; she can see the blood, dark in the light of the moon. Down in the garden below her, in the tomato patch, the Parrish boy barks quietly over her sighing sister Tasha.

Tasha does not need her blouse either, nor anything else. The

Parrish boy’s buttocks roll above her. Pulped vegetables shine in their hair. The garden stretches out around them, a full wet acre behind the house.

Their father in his gorilla suit crouches in the middle of the corn rows, maybe forty yards from their sister Tasha and the Parrish boy. Her father’s fur gleams in the moonlight. He cocks his head, listening. His dark eyes roll up towards the sky, but he does not seem to see Janet up in the tree. He sways to his feet. He moves uncertainly towards the sound of their coupling. The corn obscures his vision. They roll like seals in the crushed tomatoes.

 

Chapter One

PDF

 

Tangle Apple Flesh

PDF

Tangle Apple Flesh

Tangle

Anachronisms were creeping up the lawn. In the half-light just past dawn, Cooper sat naked on the porch swing of his mother’s house, cross-legged, peeling an apple with a hunting knife he bought in Korea. The skin of the apple curled down into his lap like the sheddings of snakes. After the entire skin lay tangled in his groin he kept peeling, the hard white fruit flying into the air like wood chips, sticking to his chest, his face, his feet, his thighs. He kept peeling until only the core remained. His arms up to the elbows were slick and glistening with juice. He dug the seeds out of the core and placed them on his tongue. He held the core in his right hand and passed his left hand over it and snapped both wrists twice, quickly. The apple core vanished.

He swallowed the seeds. He looked out at the lightening day, the blades of grass straightening their slender backs. He stood up, and turned, and went inside to go to bed. He’d been home from

Korea for sixteen months.

 

Chapter Two

PDF

Chapter Two

H

e is walking down the long lane that leads to their house.

His father is beside him. On either side of them are fields stuffed with new snow. The fence posts wear high white caps. Ahead is the stream and the bridge and their house on the edge of the woods. His sister is far ahead, near the house, galloping home. He looks up at her, then down at the ground, at the raccoon tracks they have followed for the last hour. It is a clear morning, the sky blue. Very cold. His father had gotten them up early and fed them pancakes and dressed them warmly. Come on, he had said. Let’s go track that raccoon that raids our garbage. Let’s find out where he lives.

They had followed it through the woods, up the steep hill, then down, along the stream, all of them quiet, excited. They crossed the stream where the raccoon had crossed, leaping on unsteady stones. His sister got one foot wet, but not badly wet. Then up on the road that led to their lane, a long meandering circle.

They walk down the lane. His sister, cold, runs ahead. She does not see the tracks. Or does, but does not care. The tracks lead back to the house, a perfect circle.

 

Wherever You Are, You're Already Gone

PDF

Wherever You Are,

You’re Already Gone

H

er second child Joshua will shout out “No, no, no!” in his sleep and she will hear him from her workroom. She will turn immediately from her sewing machine, from the bolts of bright cloth and the fat spools of thread that surround her. Afternoon light will slant crazily through the windows. When she gets to the living room where he sleeps on the couch beneath a tattered afghan, he will already be back in another, better dream. She will not know this. She will smooth his hair away from his forehead.

He will be dreaming of huge, friendly dogs circling him in a green grassy treeless field laced with goldenrod.

She is eighteen, and in love. Bobby is a linebacker for the Golden

Hurricanes. She loves him primarily because he loves her, though neither of them will ever truly know this. They are sitting in the Red Lobster, eating shrimp smothered in butter and lemon.

Something that is not hunger rolls as lazy as a fish inside of her.

It is a Friday night. She asked for this. She asked for dinner out somewhere. She wanted a restaurant. She wants the smells, the tastes, the people surrounding them. She wants waiters saying yes, yes, yes, at once, calling him “sir.” She wants to imagine this part of it, this future. Waiters waltzing about them: yes at once yes at once yes. He looks across the table at her. He says, “Maybe we can go to the Fairview after.” He smiles: goofy, shy, eager. It is there again, the wash, the roll. She imagines small shrimp eyes

 

Chapter Three

PDF

Chapter Three

H

e lies with the girl in the dim light just after dawn. It is a single bed. She lies on her right side, facing the wall, away from him. He lies on his right side too, as close to her as he can get without touching. He reaches out and caresses her left shoulder with the fingertips of his left hand. Outside, it has been snowing for an hour, though neither of them is aware of this. Later, dressed in jeans and boots and hooded sweatshirt and bluejean jacket, he will walk home through the snow falling fast, the empty roads filling with snow, the trees bending with snow, snow in his eyelashes. Far away he will hear the rumble of a plow. He will see one car fishtailing through an intersection. Church bells across town will begin to ring.

She draws closer to the wall. I just don’t see a future for us, she says. I just can’t see that.

He draws his fingers away. He had seen it. He had seen a thousand. Now he can see the thousand ways it won’t be. Outside, with a sudden crack, a branch gives up its burden. The room fills up with a snowy light.

 

The Last Cigarette

PDF

The Last Cigarette

M

arjane Satrapi stubs out a Gauloise and lights up another and pulls on it eagerly. In Paris, she can smoke anywhere and if they ban it here she will fucking move to any country that still allows it. If they ban it in all the countries she will move to the ice cap and sit there and smoke all day, alone. She will never ever stop. She goes to her window and throws it open and looks out at gray and black and chalky rooftops, stubby red chimneys. Fistfuls of snow shake down from the sky. She blows smoke out the window, watches it feeble off into air. It is the pleasure bound up in breathing, in being itself.

She’d like to put on her biggest, blackest, shiniest boots and grow sixty feet and stomp down the Champs Elysées and blow smoke into every pebbly cranny of Paris. Stomp, stomp, stomp.

She’d like to climb the Eiffel Tower and puff smoke rings at airplanes. She’d scoop Sarkozy up in her palm and blow smoke all over his crazy, tiny body. Satrapi Kong. Stomp, stomp, stomp.

She is so surprised when she sees the first fiery meteor fall, as if the universe has read her B-movie mind and is hunting her down. She’s so shocked to see the impact, far off, near the SacréCœur Basilica, a milky geyser. Then it’s like watching a rainstorm move across a pond towards you, spatters leaping closer. She inhales fiercely and holds her breath.

 

Chapter Four

PDF

Chapter Four

H

e lived with his wife once in a sprawling three-story house on Caplewood Drive. They rented the ground floor. They slept in a room at the back of the house that jutted out of the house precariously, and overlooked the steep slope of a ravine choked with kudzu, the huge trees strewn with green. The room sagged and swayed. The air conditioner hummed and clattered. This was in Alabama, and the air conditioner was always on. Above them various couples they knew had moved in and out. They themselves had lived upstairs, until the ground floor had become vacant. A man with cats had lived in the basement apartment until it flooded. In this rocking room they made love and slept late. In this rocking room surrounded by green they lay clutching each other in the dark. When his wife miscarried the first time, he had wept in that bed, the high wind rocking them, their hands on each other. He mourned what wasn’t. In that bed they ate and slept and made love, rocking, reading. They read poetry and physics. He took comfort in physics, where all things are possible, an infinite number of parallel universes, ten billion universes where their first child carried to term, an endless stream of cribs rocking in the dark, in the wind of the worlds.

 

Jenny, with Bulldog

PDF

Jenny, with Bulldog

I

n the end, Jenny Cantwell was left alone with a dog. He was a white bulldog, and a dwarf, the product of severe in-breeding.

She’d felt lonely one Sunday after dinner in Chase with her sons

Cooper and Hawthorne, and on the way home she’d seen a sign on the highway that said BULLDOGS FIVE MILES. At the five-mile mark, she saw a sign taped below a mailbox at the head of a long dirt driveway: BULLDOGS FOR CHEAP HERE.

She’d driven down the lane to a farmhouse, the yard littered with machinery she didn’t recognize, and she’d been a farmer’s wife for years. When she got out of the car she heard them snuffling and growling in a pen beside the kitchen door. A young woman who’d had the pretty beaten out of her by life had come out of the kitchen and shown her the dogs. Jenny picked the smallest one, thinking it a puppy. She paid fifty dollars. The lonely feeling passed almost as soon as she’d gotten back to her new duplex in

Centerville, and she never bothered naming the dog.

She could never get him clean. Some lingering infection the vet couldn’t cure prompted him to rub his rump feverishly on her new white walls, leaving distasteful discolorations low down on the wainscoting. Sometimes he would have seizures. He would be happy and panting and rubbing up against her walls and then something would click off in his head and he would freeze and stare at some fixed point in space with his head weaving slightly.

 

Chapter Five

PDF

Chapter Five

H

e walks beside the canal with his wife. Their baby girl is in a backpack on his back, facing forward. Every now and then she pats his head. He checks her with a compact mirror. His wife holds the dog on the leash. It is a Sunday afternoon. He is tired from too much coffee and too many papers to grade. They pass couples, young and old, and families. He practices making eye contact, smiling at everyone. They pass a fisherman who smiles at the baby. The baby smiles at everyone, delighted with every part of the world. The dog strains at the leash, snuffling. The baby has learned to wave; she waves at everyone. The day has been gray, overcast, windy. It is October. They come to a spot where the canal crosses a stream, the canal supported in a wide, trough-like aqueduct. Water over water. The baby pats his head. They stand and watch the slow canal water move over the swift stream. The dog sits, and scratches. The sun comes out. They turn back. They pass a man with long dark hair and a long soft beard carrying a brown paper lunch bag much crumpled. He doesn’t want to be unfriendly, and smiles at the man, who smiles back. Then he sees on the man’s forehead a red-raw and ragged swastika is carved.

 

The Real Mother's Song

PDF

The Real Mother’s Song

“W

in, win, win, win, win, win, win!!” was the incessant cry of our stepmother Sophie. It was the command that drove our household. She was a slight woman with a turned-up nose and a perky hairdo and the figure of a former Miss Alabama, which she was. She smoked Salems from dawn to dusk. We thought we could outlast her because of that, we thought that cancer would take her before she could claim our hearts. In this we were only partially correct. In the meantime, the ferocious bellow that issued forth from that perfect suburban figure was itself enough to sting us all into immediate and unconsidered action, no matter what our chosen field. It did not matter to Sophie whether our pursuits were intellectual or physical. Achievement was the bottom line.

There were seven of us. The tail-end of the family was dominated by two sets of twins, born just twelve months apart.

The Quinns, the three of us called them. We did not think of the nickname as reductive. They were all boys, dark-haired and thin and grubby. They ran through the neighborhood like looters.

 

Chapter Six

PDF

 

The Corrupter of Words

PDF

The Corrupter of Words

(for Don Hendrie, Jr.)

You All Know The Story . . .

Settle, then. Fluff your head-clouds. Wrap yourselves in your sunskins. I will tell you what you want to know, because you have asked.

What I have to say has always been awful, and I have always said it, and it has always really been about saying. And so I will tell you: why you are here, why words are what they are, and why we speak.

Trapped in Prose

In my infancy they spoke in iambic pentameter, trochaic tetrameter, dactyls and anapests trip-clicking from their tongues. From every mouth (but mine) a meter did expire. Their thank-you notes were sonnets, their prescriptions villanelles. Their town meetings were conducted in blank verse, their conversations in common meter. The casual hello a haiku, their bar fights terza rima, their lovemaking ranging from limerick to epic. Their lives were not artful, but art. No more. Only the ghosts of complicated rhythms linger. Trapped, trapped: now they are trapped in prose.

Another Country

 

Chapter Seven

PDF

 

The Age of Being

PDF

The Age of Being

1.) Nay and Carrie, In the High Grass

Out in the high grass the two girls were, Nay and Carrie, hidden in the secret part, the smooshed-down place they thought no one would ever find, the hot high sky bright blue above them and the dry grass taller than them, rustling and whispery, yellowy brown. Out in the high grass they lay on their backs, their feet and elbows just touching, no breeze stirring, their faces flushed and their eyes squinty with sweat, staring up at the sky without clouds, the blue glare filling their heads. Their dresses were wrinkled and sticky and itchsome. Their hair was banded, thick, willful, both of them blonde and sun-bleached. They were fifteen years old, the daughters of farmers and butchers. They had no secret boyfriends. There was just them, and the field, and this ring in the center of everything.

“Let’s play fashion model,” Nay said, closing her eyes.

“Okay,” Carrie said. “You start.”

Nay said, “I’m in Bermuda. It’s my very first shoot ever. And all of the other fashion models are jealous because I’m so beautiful, and all of the photographers just drool.”

 

Praise Pages

PDF

Praise for Previous Winners of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction

Here Comes the Roar, by Dave Shaw

“A captivatingly innovative collection of stories that lingers in the mind.”

—Marly Swick, judge

“A beautifully crafted collection that takes the reader to a place never traveled before.”

—Lee Zacharias, Sir Walter Raleigh Award winner and author of Lessons

“A hypnotic novella and three quirky stories from . . . a writer ready to make a significant move. The real thing.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Dave Shaw understands men and women even if they don’t understand each other.”

—Kelly Link, award-winning author of Stranger Things Happen

“Dave Shaw’s work exists in a previously uncharted territory of the short story world. Shaw is an exciting new talent.”

—Dan Chaon, author of Among the Missing,

National Book Award finalist

Let’s Do, by Rebecca Meacham

Winner of: The Anne Powers Book-length Fiction Award sponsored by the Council for Wisconsin Writers, 2005

Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Program Selection, Winter 2005

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
PDF
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000023719
Isbn
9781574413199
File size
1.23 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
PDF
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata