After the third failed pregnancy, Harriet’s sisters started to call her the self-cleaning oven. Henry already had one kid with Doris, the bitch who kept calling them in the middle of the night to complain about the water temperature in Henry’s old house. She still expected him to maintain the property even after receiving full custody of their mewling little boy Jamie. Henry began sleeping through the phone calls, and so it was Harriet who had to answer the phone.
Calvert Thorne, familiar to club scene fans as DJ Sergey, sprinkles pine pollen in his hair. He collects it himself, scrambling up mighty ponderosas, nimble as someone half his age. Each spring, a year’s supply saved in antique apothecary jars. It’s his only obvious affectation—indeed, apart from pop music chops, he seems bourgeois to the toes.
I remember that I paid him a visit soon after they’d moved in, their first real home together, a house on Sherwood Street. From first impressions the name seemed inappropriate; there were no merry men to be seen, just defeated-looking people returning to the neighbouring terraces at hometime, thin carrier bags swinging from one hand, house keys in the other–a squatter, fatter Lowry painting.
Repeating the trauma of Afghanistan is supposed to cure it. I don the state-of-the-art headset, 3 fucking D, and hold the controller. Hepatic feedback. Sit in the seat. Hepatic feedback. Humvee on a bumpy road? Not really. No way to simulate the choke of sand and smoke, but when she thinks you’re ready, the doctor adds smells—diesel, sweat, gunpowder, blood.
My father liked to say that the only thing to do in Florence, South Carolina, is eat dinner at Cain’s BBQ, and I am beginning to think he’s goddamned right. Of course, many thousand more restaurants exist here now, most of them slick chains, but the notion that my father, the Colonel, once had still holds water and holds it pretty well.
Braden inches sideways so Sissy can squeeze in beside him on the upstairs landing. Now he can’t see the living room wall downstairs where Mom or Dad’s shadow falls sometimes. He wants to see their shadows. When he does, he imagines their fight is like those shows with puppets behind the screen, where, in the end, nothing bad ever happens.
Andrea Cole didn’t simply return to school pregnant. Nope, in her adult and responsible, super Andrea-Cole way, she’d taken small steps throughout the summer to prepare all of us for it. She’d met with the principal and all of her teachers, file folder with the color-coded tabs of her medical records and relevant state laws ahead of her like a shield.
"Stop putting words in my mouth," she said. She took a long sip of her merlot and eyed him above the rim of her glass. Through the living room window behind her, the traffic was backing up on the rural road that ran before their house — cars slowing the way they would if behind a tractor at dinner time, or if somebody's dog had been run down.