203 Slices
Medium 9781771870801

THE BUSH ON THE GRAVE

Forrie, Allan Thistledown Press ePub
While picking chokecherries from a bush growing over an infant’s grave in “The Bush on the Grave”, Lloyd Ratzlaff reflects on the interconnectedness of everything, invoking a God he had left behind with his fundamentalist childhood.
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Medium 9781927068304

The Champion

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub

THE CHAMPION

First let me get the devilry out of the way. He was a formidable six-year-old obstacle, a runny-nosed waif with dark, suspicious eyes and something weasel-like in his face, who drove his first-grade teacher to distraction. He whined and snarled, he pestered and annoyed, he fought and he lied. Many times a day he flopped out of his desk and crawled on the floor among the legs of kids who were working obediently. He picked his nose and rolled the snot into a ball and flicked it at the teacher, then sat silently as she disintegrated, looking up through big eyes from under a growth of wiry unkempt hair. He fantasized excessively, or lied (often nobody knew which), he ate erasers, he threw things around the room and tantrums at the teacher. And once in awhile he worked a little.

There was more; but let’s just say he was an impedance to the flow of all educational currents. He was so exceptional at so young an age, that no official labels had yet been hung on him — TMH, ADHD, LD, BD, ED, and no DSM diagnosis either. He was Kent (an invented name), an exception to many rules, somewhere out near the first or ninety-ninth percentile of things, and something in me found that appealing.

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Medium 9781771870665

Lunch Date

Fawcett, Katherine Thistledown Press ePub

Lunch Date

THE GIRL AND HER MOTHER ARE at the usual table in the usual restaurant for their once a month lunch date. The girl orders a virgin rum and coke and the waiter laughs. The mother orders a gin and tonic. “Make mine slutty,” she says and he laughs again, louder. The girl’s face gets hot so she looks down and clicks her thumbnails together and does not look up again until the waiter finishes filling their water glasses and leaves.

The restaurant is dark even though it’s the middle of a sunny spring day. There is a wall of mirrors with crooked gold marble lines. There are carnations in a small vase and an unlit candle on the table.

It’s Thursday, so the other seventh graders will be doing track, but the girl brought a note and was dismissed thirty minutes early. This is good because she sucks at track.

“They want you to think it’s happy hour,” says the mother leaning on her elbows, her chin in her hands. “That’s why they keep the lights down low. Plus it’s more flattering.” Some mothers have cleavage where their breasts squeeze together. This one’s like an old chicken. She has a bony space between her breasts.

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Medium 9781771870948

Garlic Sausage

Altrows, Rona Thistledown Press ePub

GARLIC SAUSAGE

I START OFF FEELING GOOD, AS USUAL. On a Sunday shift there is time to think, which is a pleasure.

But after a couple of hours of no business, I’ve got big pressure in my head. I start imagining the old lecture from Norm Winger, my first ever retail boss. Right at this moment, I can hear him say, What did you have for breakfast, Irene — garlic sausage? Is that why they’re staying away?

There hasn’t even been a walk-in. I’ve dusted, sized and moved around the merchandise. I’ve changed the mannequins, so the people passing by can see activity in the store. People are attracted to action. At least that’s what I believe, it’s how things are supposed to work, it’s what I tell our younger staffers. Always make your store look like a place full of energy.

Still nothing. I turn the radio on for a bit of company. There is such a thing as too much time alone, even for someone like me who likes to think. A person can have morbid thoughts. Are people avoiding Marjorie’s Lingerie on purpose? Have I offended customers without realizing it? I try to be careful. People are sensitive, I know that, I respect that. I haven’t sensed any tension between my customers and me. But they are staying away. All of them.

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Medium 9781771870849

Cleavage

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

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FOR A WHILE WHEN I WAS ELEVEN OR TWELVE, I had a collection of Star Weekly pinups on the wall beside my bed. I lived in “town” (as we called the village — and Uncle Harry even liked to call me “city slicker”), and my farm cousins were amazed at this glistering display of idols. Debbie Reynolds was up there, and the McGuire Sisters, and Elvis in whitebucks with a guitar slung back and knees knocking together, arms stretched in a feral pose. Of course, some of the stars looked quite decent: Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, and Sandra Dee with her bright smile and elegant gown.

But our Sunday School teacher had distributed a pamphlet titled ELVIS WAS MY IDOL, in which a girl confessed that she had experienced where all that bumping and grinding could get you — although some of the details I was most anxious to know had been left out. It was a wicked thing, she said, and she was glad that Jesus had saved her from it. This pamphlet had apparently escaped my parents’ notice, otherwise I knew the pictures wouldn't have stayed on the wall as long as they did.

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